Health and Agriculture Forecasting

by Developed Africa 13. March 2014 09:00

A lot of complications come out of poor weather conditions when they are so extreme as some are in across Africa. 

A data gathering project that was originally set up in 2000 is allowing for better weather and climate predictions to be made, that inevitably will help in various areas of agriculture as well as health. 

It would appear from research that the risk of diseases such as meningitis are increased and decreased with the rising and falling of the monsoon season. So being able to predict the patterns by which the weather works is starting to become incredibly useful in this area, possibly allowing for increased protection against the diseases during peak danger times.

The threat of meningitis subsides with the onset of the rainy season- when malaria outbreaks rise."

Not only is this new and spreading data collection good for health, but it is also good for agricultural planning, in terms of knowing when to purchase expensive products such as seeds or fertiliser, because a lot of money can be saved by knowing ahead of time that purchasing them would be futile.

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Fighting Hunger

by Developed Africa 12. March 2014 09:00

In an inforgraphic from US Aid on how to fight hunger, it is clear that technology, innovation, and equality are key.

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Resources and Manufacturing

by Developed Africa 11. March 2014 09:00

It is often purported that Africa needs to embrace its resources as its own, but more than this, African countries need to use their own resources on their shelves.

Whilst African countries contain a large and produce a large percentage of resources for the entire world such as cocoa, sugar, oil, diamonds etc. there is a noticeable lack of 'homegrown' goods sold in African markets. Surely if African countries produced and manufactured things themselves, they would not be so easily manipulated by international buyers.

Without strong industries in Africa to add value to raw materials, foreign buyers can dictate and manipulate the prices of these material to the great disadvantage of Africa's economies and people."

Developed Africa has written about the need for manufacturing in across African nations, and it would appear that the likelihood of it is growing. But what is important to note, is just why it is necessary and how much difference it would make. It is clear at the moment that the African producers are dependent on exporting, and therefore it is very easy for buyers to exploit them for the lowest price they chose, because there is little choice. However, if manufacturing and production started within African countries then this would no longer be the case, and products could actually be created on the continent, giving them more leverage once it comes to exporting. 

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Tackling Gender Inequality

by Developed Africa 10. March 2014 09:00

Whilst it is extremely important to keep up the fight for gender equality, there is an added consideration for women living in poverty.

An interesting article from SciDevNet asserted the idea of needing to look at the problem of gender equality politics from a different angle. Whilst it is often on the policy agenda for many donor agencies, NGOs, and governments, political gender equality is not often top priority for women living in poverty. Top of their list is survival. 

This an incredibly interesting point, because whilst the fight for political gender equality would in fact help to alleviate the many women's constant fight for survival, they cannot always be thinking of it, and often do not think of it as the first thing that they need or want. Impoverished women's lives need to be improved and their day to day struggles need to ease in order to allow them enough time and energy to think about fighting for their political and economic rights. 

Henrieeta Miers, who wrote the article, advocates the introduction of innovative small technologies which will benefit the lives of women day-to-day. She mentions the example of the Hippo Water Roller Project, a product which makes it easier to carry a lot more water over long distances:

The point that needs to be taken into account in this area is that it is small innovations like this that don't try to drastically change people's lives from a top-down approach, but small innovations that make their usual daily tasks simpler. There is an example from a village in Sierra Leone in which a water pump was introduced to save women the daily trek to the nearest water source, but this was done without proper consultation of the locals, and it turned out that that walk was the only socialising time some of the women had in their day, and that was taken away due to no longer needing to walk so far. The lesson that needs to be learned is to always consult, and not to just decide that one knows what is needed.

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Emerging Markets

by Developed Africa 7. March 2014 09:00

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Agriculture and Big Business

by Developed Africa 6. March 2014 09:00

Linked partly to last Monday's post, the issue of whether or not big business, small farmers, and community development can go hand in hand.

In an article from Think Africa Press, they recently looked into the issue of big business working alongside a community instead of against it, and they appear to have concluded, in the one instance of Gadco in Sogakope, Ghana, that it can in fact work to the advantage of both.

thanks to the Fievie's development projects, paid for by their revenue from the Gadco nucleus farm, the community would be left in better standing than before Gadco appeared on the scene."

It would appear that there is a way in which big businesses can help to contribute to community development, by making sure that when they came into the area Gadco set up an agreement which tied their success to the success of the people and overall agricultural yield, instead of just the usual land grab situation that predominantly occurs in instances such as this. The article does however, make it clear that there is still a lot of risk in making such a close agreement. For example, having a company like that tied so closely to your success, it also means if the company fails, so does everyone else. And if the company were to go out of business altogether, what would that leave behind?

Not only this, it needs to be recognised that while it is all very well the "all in this together" spirit, there is a lot of evidence to show that big business will only be good to those they need to be good to, and the ones who they can replace, they don't treat quite so well.

However, despite the negatives, it would appear that big business has managed, at least in one instance, to bring an area up to higher than where it was before:

I'm certainly not a big pro-capitalist, but I know that if we allow this company to develop, in 5 or 10 years, things will be so different to what they are like now."

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Rise of Women

by Developed Africa 5. March 2014 09:00

Increasingly women can be seen in roles of power across Africa, but a lot needs to be done to reach equality.

The video makes a good point, that true change is needed in society in order to allow women to be treated equally, it makes the point that in order for women to be able to reach roles of authority and power, they need to be educated, they cannot just be placed there in order to reach quotas. Therefore what needs to happen is that access to education needs to become equal, and girls must be treated the same as boys, and not expected just to stay in the home, as they so often are. 

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Energy: Continued

by Developed Africa 4. March 2014 09:00

Following on from yesterday's post, take a look at these electricity consumption stats and graphs from the Centre for Global Development:

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Energy

by Developed Africa 3. March 2014 09:00

Energy has always been an issue of high importance in terms of Africa's development, but it could be that sights should be set on smaller targets.

The recent meeting of the African EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), an organisation formed in 2007 to deal with Africa's energy needs, found that many of the targets that had been made back in 2010 were now looking unrealistic, and perhaps based on poor data.  It would appear that whilst energy is often so high on the agenda across most African nations it is perhaps being set at too high a goal. That's according to the panel discussion by the AEEP, highlighting that the energy goals for 2020 are now known to be unreachable and that setting sights a little lower would be preferable, and better for the poor too.

What is more, there is a lot of evidence to show that by western countries, and western international organisations imposing their climate change goals onto development in the developing world, including across Africa, that a lot less people are on the receiving end of energy programmes than if fossil fuels were used.

It is an incredibly tricky conundrum, because whilst wanting to ensure that climate change is curtailed, at the same time it seems wrong to stop people in developing nations having the same energy aspirations as those from developed nations.

if the rapidly urbanising poor are to have any chance of prosperity, they need access to energy on the same scale as all modern economies"

The Financial Times article is very much of the mind that developing countries should be allowed to develop as well as protect themselves from the consequences of climate change:

If we are forced to adapt to life on a planet with a less hospitable climate, the poor should at least confront the challenge with the same advantages that are enjoyed by the rich"

It is a complicated situation, and one that one cannot make a final decision on, but what is clear is that energy production, whatever kind of energy that may be, needs to be focused on reaching as many people as possible.

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Focus on Zimbabwe

by Developed Africa 28. February 2014 09:00

As there have been a number of trips from various organisations focusing on Zimbabwe recently, it seemed appropriate to look into its potential.

Both the European Investment Bank and the UN WFP have been to Zimbabwe recently in order to look at its progress in development. 

The European Investment Bank is planning a trip to Zimbabwe in order to look further into investment potential in the country, 

the EU ambassador said investment by the bank would help ease working capital and liquidity constraints which local industry is battling with."

however, it would appear that the EIB is still wary of investing in the country due to the debts that the country still owes to the bank, but by visiting the country two years in a row to investigate investment potential could be a positive sign. 

Meanwhile, the UN WFP have been visiting Zimbabwe, looking specifically in the area of assisting those in the country who are vulnerable. The acting President of Zimbabwe met with the executive director of the WFP in order to discuss programmes they were putting in place and the support they were receiving from the organisation.

We do not want to do what we think, but what is required by Zimbabwe. I am here to confirm that we are with you. We see ourselves as your partner and we look forward to work together with Government and the country." 

However, the visit came with a warning. There is a worry that if Zimbabwe cannot fix the high levels of malnutrition that are sweeping the country, the potential for development is rapidly decreasing. But it is not just a case of the WFP throwing more money into its programmes, but funding constraints are stopping their ability to provide relief to the people of Zimbabwe.

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Improving Education

by Developed Africa 27. February 2014 09:00

Education is a big part of Africa's development, and getting it right for the continent is going to determine the speed of development.

a lot of initiatives... don't focus on exploiting the technology that millions of Africans have access to."

An article from DW made an interesting point that in schools throughout African countries the approach to mobile phones in the classroom is the same as that as it is across the world, you shouldn't be using your phone in a lesson. However, it needs to perhaps be looked at that, in order to get technology into education and to get it to improve education, the easiest way to do this might be to embrace the technology that is already available to the students. And whilst technology is not the only area that could improve quality of education, is quite an important one due to the increasingly technology-based world in which we live. But, there is a lot more that needs improving before education across Africa can be considered good enough:

UNESCO says several factors, including poor teacher training and cutbacks in funding, account for under-performing educational systems."

The main hurdle seems to be governments having providing enough of a budget to pay for good quality teachers, and for those teachers to receive proper training. Without enough good teachers to teach children in school, there is nothing technology can do to improve it. It would appear that the basics need to be in place in order for more advanced techniques to aid the quality of education. 

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Sovereign Wealth Funds

by Developed Africa 26. February 2014 09:00

Sovereign Wealth Funds are investment funds owned by the state, usually held by countries that have surpluses and don't want to hold it as money.

According to J P Morgan Africa has the "strongest growth in sovereign funds" in the world, depicting it as a positive step, which it often can be, but they sovereign funds are usually saved as tools of developed countries with an excess of funds and no debts. However, it is clear that many African countries are starting to create, or already have, sovereign funds, the creation of which:

essentially means that countries are improving their creditworthiness and opening up access to bigger sources of financing on more favourable terms."

But that is the positive outcome of having such a fund, the problems start when countries who are do not have the usual advantages of a country ready to create sovereign funds invest into the idea. The idea that they would invest into such funds whilst they could be investing into education, or any of the other areas that are in desperate need of attention throughout their country, is one that makes the sovereign fund appear to not be in the interest of the country, but in the interest of elites.  As the Reuters article points out, there is a lack of transparency in the history of a number of the countries who have either made, or are starting to make sovereign wealth funds.

To see a list of African Sovereign Funds (published Dec 2013) click here.

And Zambia too looks set to enter into the Sovereign Fund business.

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Realistic look at Digital Development in Africa

by Developed Africa 25. February 2014 09:00

There is a lot of discussion about how important technology is going to be for Africa's development, but there needs to be a focus on the price of how that will be achieved, and how realistic it is.

An article from BD Live recently about IT in Africa reported that regarding Sub-Saharan Africa:

investment group Convergence Partners puts the region's annual ICT investment requirements at $20bn"

And that estimation is just for catching up with the reset of the world in terms of connectivity and coverage throughout each country such as laying fibre-optic cables. Whereas in previous posts we have discussed how important mobile technology is going to be to Africa in terms of its development, we do need to realise that whilst there are a lot of stages that they can skip out which developed countries have gone through, there is still a lot of work to be done it terms of getting up to speed. 

So despite the large amount of rhetoric that goes on around how technology is a growing asset throughout Africa, it needs to be recognised how much work and money needs to go into that, and just talking about its importance is not what will make it happen. But what is even more important to realise, that once all that effort is put into technology, and all that investment is made, it will really start to pay off.

According to McKinsey's 2013 Lions Go Digital report, increased us of the internet in Africa could result in a $300bn boost to the continent's annual GDP by 2025."

And as Developed Africa has pointed out in previous posts the possibilities, once IT and mobile technology is up to standard, will be endless. 

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New Alliance or New Colonialism?

by Developed Africa 24. February 2014 09:00

Efforts by the G8's New Alliance group to promote agriculture across Africa have come under scrutiny.

In an attempt to promote agriculture across Africa, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Initiative have encouraged African leaders to commit to numerous agreements and changes to their policies in order to allow easier access for international investors to do business in Africa. The way the Alliance is looking to improve the state of agriculture on the continent is by:

easing of export controls and tax laws, and through governments ringfencing huge chunks of land for investment."

However whilst the motivation behind this move is a noble one, improving the state of agriculture in African countries, it is being argued that the real winners from this situation are not the small farmers, as it should be, but foreign investors. 

All the initiatives involve providing more incentives for the private sector to buy and cultivate land, and to become involved in the country's seed industry."

But not only is there an overall issue with the plans and commitments in terms of leaving small farmers out in the cold, there is the further problem that they don't even know that these talks and plans are happening. However, it is argued that whilst there is a large focus on investment in the New Alliance plans, it is not about profit, and therefore it is investment that will aid the small farmers.

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IBM Advancing in Africa

by Developed Africa 21. February 2014 09:00

IBM opened its first African hub in Nairobi, Kenya last year, and are keen to promote technology's importance, and the importance of the Diaspora.

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Energy Plans in Ethiopia

by Developed Africa 20. February 2014 09:00

Ethiopia has developed a plan, that has not entirely been disclosed yet, that it hopes will see the country become into one of the top power suppliers in Africa. 

With a strategy for energy exportation that is unique to it's position, Ethiopia is looking to make the most of its energy supplies in order to develop the country further. 

Ethiopia, with its predominantly Orthodox Chrisitian tradition, consumes less power during its weekends, leaving a surplus for export to Muslim neighbours Djibouti and Sudan, where Sunday is a working day."

Which is not only makes great economic sense, but helps to diffuse the belief that there has to always be religious tensions in Africa, the differing cultures here prove that they can work to a mutual benefit. However, this is only a small part of the plan to expand Ethiopia's energy exportation, the country currently produces 223MW a year, and is aiming to produce 20 times that amount. But whilst that may seem an awful lot, the investments and purchasing pledges are flying in from across the continent and the international sphere. This is perhaps due to the environmentally friendly nature of the plans that are based in hydro, wind, and solar power.

The Financial Times highlights the thoughts of a regional official who makes the accurate point that, if Ethiopia pulls of this energy plan, it will be dealing not only in electrical power, but in political power too:

Energy is part of its regional strategic plan. So Ethiopia becomes an energy superpower and along the way it also gains political clout."

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Drone Delivery

by Developed Africa 19. February 2014 09:00

Delivery competition could solve a lot of problems in rural African areas.

A common problem found in providing resources to rural parts of Africa is that there is a lot of difficult terrain to traverse, as well as a large expanse of it, in order to reach some people and farms. 

There is now a competition called the "Flying Donkey Challenge", so named because Donkey's are currently the method of choice for overcoming this difficult hurdle, which is looking for people to design an:

unmanned aerial vehicle rugged enough to carry medium-sized loads over long distances."

The competition is a world-wide one that is hoping to have a solution to the task by 2020, and if successful, the difference this idea could make is phenomenal, and covers a number of areas. As the Project Director has made clear, the first clients are unlikely to be those actually living in rural areas, and it will take a while to become commerically viable. He adds that the most likely first customers will be NGOs and governments. And the NGO aspect may help to show just how useful this service could be, as they would be able to provide necessary resources and medicines to rural communities.

As the Flying Donkey matures and production costs decrease, it could become a viable tool for farmers, merchants, and consumers in remote areas. The idea is to make a machine that is compatible with the demands of African livelihoods, rather than something adopted from a Western model."

To find out more, click here.

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Manufacturing

by Developed Africa 18. February 2014 09:00

Manufacturing appears to be a growing business across Africa, a step in the right direction for development?

Many critics have always asserted that African economies will never be able to grow out of poverty if they do not have a base of manufacturing on top of agriculture and services. And that may be true, an article from the Economist recently quoted a development pundit, Rick Rowden:

Apart from a few tax havens, there is no country that has attained a high standard of living on the basis of services alone."

And if you think about it, and look at the facts, this is a fairly accurate statement. But it appears we may never find out, as manufacturing is starting to take hold in many African countries, mainly as a part of foreign operations, but there are a few domestic manufacturing structures in the mix too.

So why is manufacturing so important, and why would it make such a difference to development?

You only need to look to China to see what manufacturing can do for a country's economy. And as wages become more competitive across Asia, it might just be possible that businesses start to turn to Africa. We can already see this being done, as H&M and Primark have started looking into manufacturing clothes in Ethiopia. 

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More on Commodity Exchanges

by Developed Africa 17. February 2014 09:00

Back in 2007, Eleni Gabre-Madhin made a TED talk in favour of creating a commodity exchange in Ethiopia.

Have a watch and hear what she thought would be the benefits:

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Foreign Aid Debate

by Developed Africa 14. February 2014 09:00

There has been a lot of discussion around British foreign aid of late due to the flooding that is hitting the country.

This rhetoric comes due to many people demanding that the money Britain spends on foreign aid should in fact be used to help those in need of it following the damage caused to their homes. The argument has come to the fore in the media due to claims from UKIP leader Nigel Farage, and a petition on the Daily Mail website. This is what Nigel Farage had to say:

My message is: 'Please government, for once put the people first. It would take a tiddly per cent of the overseas aid budget to say to people, however horrible this is, you won't suffer financially."

However, the argument is a lot more complicated than this simplification of moving money immediately from the aid budget to helping those affected by the flood. It is true that the UK government's policy on foreign aid should be revised, especially in terms of the sum, but it is far more complicated than just diverting the money from one area to another.

In terms of the aid budget, as Developed Africa has previously posted, the goal of a 0.7% minimum aid budget from the government is due to misjudging an aid paradigm set out by the Pearson Commission. What it actually hoped would happen, and what needs to happen, is that gradually the government aid would drop to 0.3%, with the other 0.4% coming from private sector investment in developing countries. Empowering developing countries to grow depends on private sector investment from developed economies and it has been argued that the size of aid as a proportion of the amount of money going into these countries can have the effect of crowding out private sector investment which may be able to be more effective and more sustainable. For these reasons, Developed Africa is of the view that the British government's foreign aid target of 0.7% of GDP is not in the interest of the countries most in need of help. Therefore the foreign aid system Britain currently has is in fact too large, but not in the sense that we should be helping ourselves before we help other people, but because it would make far more of an impact and a difference to the developing countries if the majority of the assistance came from investment by the private sector.

Despite its problems, the idea that this aid money could ever just be moved easily and swiftly from foreign aid to helping people in Britain is incredibly simplified and would simply not work. There are number of reasons for this, the main one being that it would take far longer than people are imagining to be able to move the focus of the aid, it would affect jobs all across the world, and would take years to be able to reorganise, by which time the floods would be long since over. Secondly, there is the fact that EU regulations completely prevent any foreign aid money being spent in the UK. And lastly, at this point the difference that any amount of money could make would be negligible.

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AfDB Guidebook on Commodity Exchanges

by Developed Africa 13. February 2014 09:00

The AfDB published a "guidebook" on African Commodity Exchanges, and the reasoning behind creating a nation-wide exchange.

As long as the economic rationale is strong enough, an exchange that is ring-fenced in an effective manner can work even in difficult conditions."

For those unaware, a commodity exchange is where commodities (usually agricultural or raw goods) are traded, and by having them in Africa as they are know for: 

making economies more inclusive, boosting the links between agriculture and finance, and making the commodity sector more efficient and competitive."

The purpose of the document is to make people more aware of both the advantages and struggles of creating commodity exchanges in Africa, making it clear that a strong public-private partnership would be needed to be able to create the right environment for exchanges to succeed.

It is becoming more and more evident that to create effective sustainable development that financial and commodity markets are a necessity. Commodity markets help to reduce transaction costs, increase transparency, and increase reliability. By having commodity exchanges investors and financiers have more faith in the region, and are far less of a risk in those terms.

Click here to read the guide and learn more.

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Women's Rights Across the World

by Developed Africa 12. February 2014 09:00

Another fantastic interactive infographic, this time from The Guardian depicting the rights of women country-by-country, click on the image below:

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Mining

by Developed Africa 11. February 2014 09:00

There is often a lot of discussion around the topic of investors wary to involve themselves in mining in Africa, we look at why that is.

A recent article from How we made it in Africa highlighted the problems that cause investors to be wary of being involved in mining in Africa, and one of their prominent reasons for this was the moves the governments of a number of African countries are making to ensure that they receive the benefits from their resources being used.

Africa is protecting its own people, and governments are no longer giving away Africa's resources and wealth"

It is important to analyse this statement thoroughly. Firstly, it is quite right that African governments should be protecting their assets and resources which have for so long been used by investors without the correct compensation to the country in question. Secondly, it is wrong to lump all African countries into one in such a delicate situation as this, which is probably a reason why the scaremongering is working. Not all African countries have started making changes in the rules that they put in place for mining, so it is wrong, and most likely harmful to investment in those countries, to insinuate that the continent works as one.

However: 

Often, the exact nature of legislation in the pipeline is too vague for a clear understanding of its implications."

it would appear that the problem is more to do with the uncertainty of the matter rather than the introduction of rules altogether.

But, it is important to think that whilst the changes governments are making may be new and different, it is not a reason to shy away from investment, if anything these rules are being made to ensure a better coordinated industry and one that ensures everyone gets a fair deal. 

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Country-by-Country Investment Stats

by Developed Africa 10. February 2014 09:00

Check out this interactive infographic from the Wall Street Journal by clicking the image below:

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African Fashion: Part Two

by Developed Africa 7. February 2014 09:00

Following from yesterday's post, here are some videos and examples of African Fashion.

African Fashion in London:

 This next video is an interesting one, that shows how some African fabrics are actually produced in Europe. 

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African Fashion

by Developed Africa 6. February 2014 09:00

The first African Fashion Week in London was in 2011, and the interest has just kept growing.

African fashion has seen a sharp intake in interest from across the globe in the past decade, a fashion designer from Malawi, Lilly Alfonso, has said that:

there has never been a better time to be in the African fashion industry as it is receiving a lot of international attention."

But whilst this attention is fantastic she still wants to ensure that African (Malawian, more to the point) remains so, and when asked by investors whether or not she would consider moving her business out of Malawi, she firmly declined.

because I don't want to make it in life and then see my country is poor. It doesn't make me any better."

African styles are not just taking off in the fashion world, African clothing is appealing to the public too. As Ghanaian-born Canadian fashion designer,  Abigail Coleman discovered when she showcased her designs at a fashion week in Saskatchewan. 

Coleman said she expected her choice of bold colours and designs might only appeal to a handful of African women now calling Regina home... but when she showcased her deisgns on the runway last spring, they appealed to a wide spectrum of women."

Perhaps, African fashion will finally start to take hold world wide.

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Best African Development Bank 2013

by Developed Africa 5. February 2014 09:00

NEXIM has been rated as the Best African Development Financial Institution of 2013

The Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI) is an organisation which co-ordinates cooperation between African financial institutions with the goal of promoting development across the continent. And it is they who have ranked NEXIM at the top of the list of African development institutions of 2013.

The Managing Direcotr of NEXIM Bank, Mr Roberts U. Orya sees the 'A' rating by AADFI as a well-deserved reward for all the hard work, painstaking commitment and dedication."

As it would appear that previous to 2009 the bank was failing in its commitments to the goals of economic and social development, but as Mr Orya explains, the hard work he and his team put in to the bank to improve its contribution and status have paid off. 

In terms of developmental impact in Nigeria's economy, the Bank, through its funding interventions, generated/sustained over 21,075 direct jobs, in addition to many indirect jobs and facilitated the generation of estimated $250.32 million annually in foreign exchange earnings"

And whilst AADFI have said that the review was not done as a competition, it is clear that announcing the best financial institution of the year may in fact bring the work of such institutions to the forefront of people's minds, as well as pushing the banks to strive even harder for greatness.

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African Youth Focus

by Developed Africa 4. February 2014 09:00

The topic of Africa's rising youth population is a popular one, and on Friday the BBC held a debate in Malawi to address it.

The debate was held to discuss:

whether the population explosion could be used to propel economic growth for Africa- or if it could backfire." 

The debate started by introducing the panel and the audience to the topic of youth in Africa, with the focus on Malawi's youth, as they state that "almost half of all Malawians are under 15". The discussion is immediately started by the panel, with the causes being discussed first, with one participant claiming that youth have become a burden due to the poor match between the skills they learn in the classroom to the skills required by industry. 

A representative from the government claimed during the talk that they are trying to run programmes to "absorb" as many of the youth into employment as possible, but that it is just not possible for everyone to be employed; here he points to Europe as an example of not everyone being able to be employed. Later on, the audience seemed to be incredulous to the government's claims that they have a youth budget that is fit to see all of their programme plans through.

A participant from Zimbabwe, said that the situation was similar there too, and that there are 10,000  graduates every year and that the problem is an "unjust economic system" that doesn't give enough value in return for the time put into education; but stated that:

the solution is not to make everyone an entrepreneur" 

Others in the audience tried to claim that it was up to young people to get themselves into work, and to stop expecting the government to do everything for them, but this seemed to be a minority view, as the majority appeared to think that the youth were really doing as much as they could within the system they have to deal with.

Another major issue that appeared to be prominent in the discussions was that of the political community, and the problems young people have with firstly trying to feel involved in politics, and secondly the issue of lack of young people working in the government.

To listen to the debate click here.

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UK's Aid Change

by Developed Africa 3. February 2014 09:00

Last Monday, the UK announced a major change to its aid plans in Africa

The news came last week, as Justine Greening announced the UK's move from poverty alleviation towards economic development in Africa. During the announcement speech, Greening said that:

Economic development is, without question, the only way countries can leave behind enduring and chronic poverty for good."

Her argument chimes well with what Developed Africa believes to be the best approach to development. The private sector. As Greening argued:

being reluctant or uncomfortable about encouraging a more entrepreneurial business environment won't d these developing countries any favours"

This is an encouraging sign of things to come, hopefully. As it would appear that the development and charity sectors are being encouraged to embrace this method of approach as well.

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Solution to Zimbabwe's Power Problem

by Developed Africa 31. January 2014 09:00

The AfDB has promised a grant of $53 million to improve their power sector

Following our post of Tuesday about energy and the environement, comes the news about the AfDB granting $53 million to Zimbabwe to help improve its often dire energy production situation. So perhaps our analysis of their tobacco sector was not a fair one, as they have such a large power production problem across the whole of the country that it would be unreasonable to expect sectors to improve outside of that context.

the grant is expected to help plug the growing power deficit that has reduced productivity in Zimbabwe's mining, manufacturing, and industry sectors."

The country has been suffering due to the actions of former President Mugabe's neglect of power and water supply. The grant should help to boost production of energy as well as to ensure it reaches through the whole country, as Mr Chinamasa has said he thinks that:

the grants would go a long way towards eliminating the energy defecit in Zimbabwe, ensuring every city and town in the country have running water."

What is really important is that the power plants that they are investing the money into are mainly hydro power plants, which is fantastic, as it means they will be starting out on a good foot with their energy production. 

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Financial Sector's role in African Economy

by Developed Africa 30. January 2014 09:00

The World Economic Forum has seen many calls for the financial sector to take a strong role in strengthening the continent's economy, but there against this comes the argument that this would just create (and continue) an economic environment in which the poor remain poor, and the growth in wealth would not reach down that far.

This counter-argument comes from Oxfam leaders, in the main, following their recent report which explored how 85 of the world's richest people have more wealth than half the world. They are trying to get across the point that instead of solely focusing on growing Africa's economy, it has to be done in a different way which will actually help all of its citizens, not just the few.

There was a little contention on the panel discussing Africa's economic future, with Goodluck Jonathan defending the importance of building African economies as of the highest importance, but:

after feeling a bit of pressure, Mr Jonathan conceded that, yes, inclusion was of utmost importance."

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Recognising the Importance of Women in Africa

by Developed Africa 29. January 2014 09:00

Recognising the importance of women in Africa has become a major part of development, so when will it become real and not just dialogue?

Following the appointment of a female interim President, Catherine Samba-Panza, to lead the Central African Republic out of its turmoil and towards democratic elections, there have been reports along the lines similar to those below:

The consensus, in the chamber and on the street, was that men had inexorably led the country into a spiral of vicious violence, and that the only hope was for a woman to lead it out."

So, it would appear, that this is the most blatant recognition of the power and strength of women, by choosing the former Mayor of the capital of the CAR, it appears to be a clear statement of the power of women. But the question is, once they get to elections, will the candidates reflect equality?

But what is certain, is the continued emphasis being laid upon how important it is for women to be recognised, but not only for the sake of their equality, but for the sake of the continent's prosperity. An article in the Huffington Post recently highlighted this, as well as the importance of the youth, the article was meant to capture how important the empowerment of women is in Africa, but it merely had the one line:

This includes continuing to invest in and empower women who constitute more than half the population, so that they too can contribute to development."

So it is possible to wonder, if it wasn't helpful to development, would people be as interested in ensuring women become empowered and equal to men? Ofcourse, this is a drastic conclusion to jump to from just one sentence, but we cannot be too careful over what people's intentions are; and it has to create real change, not just continually talking about change.

Take a look at this article from Forbes, highlighting their top "20 Young Power Women in Africa 2013" here.

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Energy and the Environment

by Developed Africa 28. January 2014 09:00

Whilst everyone is trying to increase their clean energy usage, Kenya goes a step further.

This is the news that the Kenyan government is planning a project that will create a number of large solar 'farms' across the country to increase the amount of secure and environmentally friendly energy.

With high investments in solar, we will witness almost no blackouts and power charges will reduce because electricity will be in high supply."

The hope is, that by 2015, Kenya should be able to produce 50% of its energy needs, through renewable energy resources. An astounding figure, which, if the project is successful will be an incredible example to others of what is possible. 

But whilst Kenya is making moves to greatly improve its production of energy, there are still a lot of areas in which the right attention is not being paid in terms of environmental impact. For example, Think Africa Press recently published an article about the impact of Zimbabwe's tobacco industry. And despite being a booming industry, contributing to the wealth and development of Zimbabwe, it's environmental impact needs to be evaluated and addressed. 

One kilogram of tobacco requires about nine kilograms of wood to cure it under traditional curing systems."

Something needs to happen in order to combat this problem, that many industries still continue to change nothing about their practices.

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Changing Technologies

by Developed Africa 27. January 2014 09:00

Whilst the news is currently all based around how new technologies are going to be the future, and how positive their impact on development is going to be, a new article from the World Bank has highlighted the issue of changing technology boundaries, and how development projects are going to keep up.

Governments that take 2 years to put a strategy in place find it outdated by the time it is approved. Some of the projects we have in The World Bank take one to two years to prepare and another four or five to implement."

The main crux of the author's point is: how are projects going to keep up with developing technologies?

However, it is possibly quite a futile question, as the advice given is extremely vague, and is not really a plan that anyone can really follow, it just advises remaining open to change. Ironically, the advice comes in a 10 point plan, which, they state, was originally a 7 point plan, proving that adaptation is really what has to be done, and there is no real plan to be followed for it.

But the thought is a valid one, we do need to focus on the fact that not only will developing technologies aid developing countries in their growth, but that they will change the way in which developed countries need to address the problems. But, as the article made clear, it is a difficult task to tackle.

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Wealth Inequality

by Developed Africa 24. January 2014 09:00

On Monday, Oxfam released a report highlighting the vast wealth disparities the world over.

The headline statistic provided by the report, that has grabbed a lot of attention and a lot of media coverage was that:

The bottom half of the world’s population owns less than the richest 85 people in the world."

An interesting angle that the report focuses on is how, despite recent popularity, focus on inequality was not always the case. Mere years ago, the report recounts, the focus was on poverty rather than the differences in wealth. So why the change?

The statistics began to show that, counter to previous beliefs, overall increase in wealth and growth was not actually beneficial for all to aim for, and that instead those at the top are really the only who benefit from such a goal.

it is morally questionable; it can have negative impacts on economic growth and poverty reduction; and it can multiply social problems"

Whilst quality of life does not need to be measured by wealth and whilst happiness should not be based on how much money you have, it is clear that this vast disparity in the distribution of wealth is clearly detrimental to the quality of life for millions across the world.

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Tackling Vitamin A Deficiency

by Developed Africa 23. January 2014 09:00

It has long been understood that a lack of Vitamin A in the diet helps to perpetuate poverty and hunger

But it appears that there may now be an answer to this, in the form of maize crops. The research to create a crop that will aid nutrition started in 2009 by the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre. The product of this research has been a maize plant that contains increased levels of Vitamin A, and it is a plant that can be grown by small holder farmers. The need for such a plant is to stop combat the deficiency of Vitamin A of many who are embroiled in poverty.

This deficiency retards growth, increases risk of disease, and can cause reproductive disorders."

So in discovering a way to increase Vitamin A levels in the poor, this should help to curb at least one of the effects poverty has on people's health. However, there is still the matter of ensuring that this particular maize plant can be grown throughout the world, once that is secured, there is little doubt over the positive effect it will have on people's lives.

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Fourth Pan-African Youth Leadership Summit

by Developed Africa 22. January 2014 09:00

This year, the Annual Pan-African Youth Leadership Summit focused on youth unemployment, and how to solve the crisis.

The topic of youth unemployment is a difficult one to tackle, but the summit hopes to produce recommendations over the next few days to pass on to both the AfDB and the UN for policies of youth unemployment and the economy.

Whilst African countries are seeing an increase in economic growth, it is still not creating enough jobs for the youth, it would appear that too much of the growth is kept amongst the elites, when what really needs to be done is focus on plan to get more young people into jobs. Because the consequences of unemployment for such a large youth population are poverty, illiteracy, as well as an increased likelihood to participate in crime, and to turn to drugs and alcohol. 

According to Afrique en Ligne, here is what the summit have advised:

  • "implementation of the African Charter for the Youth"
  • "priority to be given to youth employment and health in both national and international plans", and
  • "the setting up of a special fund which will encourage youth entrepreneurship"

On the subject of employment and solutions, the Guardian published an article last week that tackles the best way education in Africa can help to combat unemployment, focusing on vocational training:

Vocational education tends to result in a faster transition into the workplace, and countries that have it at the core of the curriculum - such as Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the Netherlands - have been successful in maintaining low youth unemployment rates."

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Egypt's Referendum

by Developed Africa 21. January 2014 09:00

Last week saw Egyptians go to the polls to vote on the new constitution.

The referendum was being held to vote on whether the new constitution is desired by the population of Egypt. Also of great importance, as the BBC report argued, was the number of people turned out to the polls. The last constitution that was put in place last year received over 60% of the votes, but only around 30% of the population actually voted.

And similar turn out statistics were reported this year, with an apparent 38.6% turn out, which again, was not a lot. But this year, 98% of those who voted, voted in favour of the new constitution. Egypt has been on a rocky-road to democracy the past three years, and whilst it still has a way to go, progress is coming slowly.

The interim government has committed repeatedly to a transition process that expands democratic rights and leads to a civilian-led, inclusive government through free and fair elections. Now is the time to make that commitment a reality."

Although the turn out was not high, it was still a step up from the referendum from last year, and the high volume of 'yes' votes indicates an affirmation of the usurping of Morsi, as well as support for the new document.

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African Currency Unions

by Developed Africa 20. January 2014 09:00

There are a number of potential African currency unions soon to be created, which is a stark contrast from Europe's current relationship with currency unions.

The new rise of interest in creating currency unions appears to be coming from the perceived success of the West African monetary Union (UEMOA)

UEMOA member states are more fiscally disciplined than their neighbours outside the currency zone"

But the main union currently under creation is 'the eco', which is being planned by West African politicians to initial involve 6 countries in 2015, and then to expand, with UEMOA joining in 2020.

However, the Economist argues that this is a dangerous idea, and one that is extremely flawed.

Whereas UEMOA's currency union has drawbacks, the proposed eco zone may have fatal flaws"

These include: the wide ranging economies that it would cover; Nigeria has different economic and trade demands to the others, often completely opposite needs; and support would be unlikely, France might not be able to endorse it the way it does with the UEMOA.

Perhaps, an African currency union could do better than Europe, as African countries are still rising, but with such varying economies, it is hard to see how they could succeed where Europe has failed.

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Maternal Health

by Developed Africa 17. January 2014 09:00

Trials of a new scheme to address some of the problems of receiving health care during pregnancy have shown positive results in Zambia and Uganda.

Pregnancy health care is often sparse in rural areas of African countries, and so many women have to walk for miles to receive treatment. And that is where the program from Saving Mothers, Giving Life comes into play. The scheme involves providing expectant mothers with free travel vouchers to allow them to more easily reach health care centres that they would normally have to walk miles to reach.

In four districts in Zambia participating in the program, the maternal mortality ratio for live births in health facilities dropped by 35 percent."

But the program is not just about free travel vouchers, but in fact there is a lot more that the organisation has been doing to improve the welfare of pregnant women throughout the continent. This includes training birth attendants, testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS, as well as improving communication between facilities and the community.

In Uganda districts, the maternal mortality ratio has declined by 30%, while in facilities in Zambia, the maternal mortality ratio has decreased by 35%."

You can read their first annual report by clicking here.

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Japan and China in Africa

by Developed Africa 16. January 2014 09:00

Both Japan and China's investment and work in Africa has increased in recent years, but it is causing tension between the two over motives.

Both of course argue that their involvement in the area is purely for development reasons, but each is accusing the other of more selfish motives.

These accusations have followed the first visit to Africa of a Japanese Prime Minister for 8 years; Shinzo Abe is travelling to Africa in order to promote and endorse Japanese investment into resources across the continent. This move has led to Chinese claims that Japan is:

courting African support for a place on the United Nations Security Council"

 In return, Japan have accused China of using gifts to get in well with African leaders, perhaps allowing them more leverage in their deals in various countries.

Despite these accusations, it is clear that the two countries are making significant moves throughout Africa to ensure that they are at the centre of investment and development. China has been see to do this for a while now, whereas Japan's moves onto the continent have become more prevalant more recently. 

Over the past decade China has leapfrogged over its Asian neighbour as a global economic force as well as Africa's main trade partner"

But now it is clear that Japan is making efforts to bridge the gap, as we can see from the Prime Minister's trip to three countries, which incidentally are among China's economic allies. As well as the doubling of loans for African development from to $2 billion.

It is possible that this could lead to tensions between Japan and China, and is a situation that will be closely monitored for the forseeable future.

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Agriculture and Women in Agriculture

by Developed Africa 15. January 2014 09:00

Last year marked 10 years since African countries agreed to ensure that 10% of their budget would go towards agriculture and supporting small holder farmers. 10 years on, and only 9 have managed to keep to this pledge. It is feared that if the promises are not met, hunger will continue to reign. Without subsidies and help from the government small holder farmers tend to struggle with their produce. 

they have not fulfilled their 2003 pledge to increase support for small-holder farmers, especially for women who do much of the farming on the continent"

Action Aid have emphasised that if budgets are reorganised, millions of people could be saved from hunger, but it is clear that countries often feel that there are more pressing issues to spend money on, such as conflicts in the region.

What is also important to note, and is mentioned by Action Aid, and in the VOA article, is that women are a key in agriculture and farming. So perhaps by empowering and supporting more women, on an equal basis to men, productivity would increase. 

if women are given equal access to land, seeds, as their male counterparts, we can reduce hunger in the world by 140-million people, which is about 17% of people who are living hungry"

Developed Africa has often posted about the importance women hold in agriculture, and how if they were treated fairly, many of the problems that exist would be solved. But as a reminder, here are a few statistics about women in agriculture:

although women contribute more that 70% of agricultural labour, they own only 1 to 2 percent of land in Africa, with most of them only accessing land through male relatives"

over two thirds of all women in Africa are employed in the agricultural sector and produce nearly 90% of food on the continent"

However:

Land rights tend to be held by men or kinship groups controlled by men, and women have access mainly through a male relative, usually a father or husband."

So in order to reach Africa's productive potential, governments need to address their budgets in terms of agriculture, and their laws in terms of women's rights.

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Ban Ki-moon's Call for Greater International Support

by Developed Africa 14. January 2014 09:00

Years of development are at stake. A generation of young people is at risk"

These are the words Ban Ki Moon used when urging the international community on Friday to provide more assistance in the face of conflicts and disasters. 

But his speech was not just about money and provisions, he wants the international community to come together to promote peace, but also to ensure that the consequences for committing crimes and causing extreme suffering are made clear.

Together, we must send a strong message that there will be accountability for the killing, raping, chemical weapons attacks and other atrocious crimes that have been committed"

The main grasp of the address was to encourage donors and supporters of humanitarian response to ensure that they keep up the support. But he also moved on to discussing what needs to be done in the future in terms of the post-2015 agenda, especially in terms of climate change. His speech has sent a strong message to the international community to fully commit to their support against conflict, as well as to take a strong stance against climate change.

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Sustainable Development

by Developed Africa 13. January 2014 09:00

It appears that the main source of funding for African countries has changed, and the continent needs to adapt to ensure these sources can be harnessed to correctly achieve sustainable development. 

A report from Africa Growth Initiative has explained how the main external funding for African countries is now coming from the combination of private capital flows and remittances; overtaking official development assistance, or aid. 

The growth in external resources has the potential to complement domestic resources to achieve sub-Saharan Africa’s ambitious transformational strategy."

The report depicts a plan for how African countries should harness this resource:

FDI flows will benefit more long-term economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa if they are associated with a transfer of knowledge and skills from multinational companies to the domestic private sector"

In other words, instead of just passively receiving the help from FDIs, there should be an interactive exchange so that African countries can learn from them and gain knowledge for the future when they will hopefully not need FDIs.

Another key action that they recommend with regard to FDIs is to properly ensure a reduced number of illicit financial flows; to be encouraged by legislation.

Their next two recommendations involve creating and maintaining strong relationships with important groups. Ensuring continued investment and support for the BRICS countries who are now some of the top countries investing in Africa; and engaging the diaspora further through lowering the cost of sending remittances- but also the areas which remittances reach also need to be looked at, and widened.

And finally, they discuss the implication of aid, and the possibility of using aid to attract private investment, and to use a combination of the two for development projects, if necessary. 

The infrastructure sector offers a number of opportunities in this regard. The large and long-term financing needs of infrastructure projects can require different types of financiers, including private sector, bilateral and multilateral partners."

Altogether, this analysis makes a sounds plan for adapting to the changing nature of financial flows and to ensuring sustainable development alongside these changes.

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Resource Nationalism in Africa

by Developed Africa 10. January 2014 09:00

This year is going to see a number of African countries create plans to give themselves more control of their natural resources.

As we have discussed in previous blogs, countries often face issues with their natural resources, with large international companies taking the profits, and without proper legislation, the countries often do not receive enough income from their resources as they should. But that may change this year, as:

South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, and Tanzania and other countries are due to either bring new legislation before government for approval this year or start the drafting process"

So what will this legislation allow for? 

What is really being called for is nationalisation of resources, and the laws are therefore looking to increase taxes on mining, creating quotas that corporations have to meet in job creations, as well as wanting to ensure state-backed companies get an automatic percentage of ownership of projects.

It appears that these moves are coming following public outrage at the current state of how resources are controlled in African countries. Because whilst elites may often receive large amounts of money for the use of resources, really in-built laws are needed to ensure the government owns them, and will always get a percentage of the profits, and be paid for companies coming in to excavate. 

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Rise of the MINT Economies?

by Developed Africa 9. January 2014 09:00

More than 10 years since the rise of the BRIC countries was predicted, we hear claims of the up and coming MINTs.

The MINT countries are made up Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey; and are being 

Yet they will never live up to the BRICs, he says, which will always remain much larger. In two years China alone creates more new wealth than the entire MINT gross domestic product combined."

O'Neill himself, the man who spotted both of these groupings, has said that they are not going to reach the heights of the BRICs. Despite this, they are still going to be strong names in economics that are ones to watch. 

But it appears that there is a lot less confidence in the MINTs, for instance, a number of articles are asking whether or not they can actually make 'you' money, or if they are just going to grow a little. As a Forbes article writes:

it is worth noting that BRIC equities have lagged the developed world for several years now and are very likely to do so again in 2014"

So it is clear that there are mixed views over the validity of claiming the MINT countries as a new phenomenon, especially when a number from the past group are not doing so well. However, there is a lot of optimism when looking at them a number of them individually, Nigeria especially. 

Nigeria looks set to be Africa's next big economy as it is about to:

undergo a GDP re-basing- a reassessment of the country's GDP- and when that happens, it may well prove to be the biggest economy in Africa, even bigger than South Africa"

Mexico also seems to be a hot spot for investors, but there is doubt cast on the validity of Indonesia and Turkey's inclusion in the group. Even the O'Neill has said:

So can the Mints join the top 10 largest economies in the world, after the US, China, the rest of the BRICS and maybe Japan? I think so, though it may take 30 years."

Perhaps not such a groundbreaking prediction after all. 

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Unemployment in Africa

by Developed Africa 8. January 2014 09:00

Africa's unemployment figures are a worrying statistic, and even more worrying reality. If more jobs are not created it could cause African economies to drag, and to drag the world economy down with them. But more importantly, the people behind the unemployment figures need jobs to be able to live well and to prosper. There are a number of ways people argue the situation needs to be tackled, one of which is a "Marshall Plan"-like project to boost African business and jobs.

Africa's Marshall Plan should prioritise three interdependent "pillars" of development, which all work together to form a virtuous cycle of growth: policy reform and a commitment to the rule of law; investment in infrastructure and a commitment to developing Africa's manufacturing and processing industries."

The article from Reuters makes a good point, that the best way to ensure increased employment across African countries is to bolster infrastructure, government policies, and processing capabilities. However, it is hard to see what differentiates this proposal from current development goals. Infrastructure is already trying to be improved, pressure for governments to have strong policies on this basis are being encouraged; though the point is brought in at the end that a united front which actually acts much like the Marshall Plan would be preferable to the mismatched projects and investments that are currently in the works. 

The third point that is made is one of the most pressing- "developing Africa's manufacturing and processing industries". This is of utmost importance in ensuring that Africa can develop full industries of its own- and not least to mention the difference it would make to farmers being able to sell their produce to local processors. 

It is an optimistic idea that there could be an initiative that could bring all these aspects together, but perhaps slightly unrealistic. Besides, as all these moves are being made, it is hopeful that the aims such a plan would have will occur organically.

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Chocolate Industry

by Developed Africa 7. January 2014 09:00

Big changes are being made in the chocolate industry that may greatly harm farmers' interests and incomes

As Developed Africa has previously reported, the sugar and coffee industry are hard industries for farmers and producers in terms of the money they receive for their produce. This is also true of the chocolate industry and is the reason for things such as the Fair Trade logo and organisation. 

However, there are recent moves in the industry that have been barely spoken about that may have a large (and damaging) impact on what cocoa farmers are paid by the groups they sell cocoa product to. A producer merger has already occurred, and it looks like there is another on the way.  

The two groups that have already consolidated are Barry Callebaut and Petra Foods, making them the biggest cocoa processor in the world. And now it looks as though there is another business merger in the planning, as Cargill seeks to buy Archer Daniels Midlands. 

Once fully completed, the two deals will bring more than 60 percent of the world market for cocoa processing under the control of two companies."

This is an extremely worrying development for the treatment of cocoa bean farmers. With less producers to sell to, they are going to have little control over increasingly lower prices for their cocoa beans.

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Crowdfunding, not as good as first thought?

by Developed Africa 6. January 2014 09:00

We have recently posted about the positive impact crowdfunding sites could have in Africa, now we look at reports in the UK that it is getting harder for small groups to get noticed.

A recent article from the BBC told of how a number of groups are finding it increasingly hard to get noticed on crowdfunding sites as there are now so many people vying for attention and funding through the various services.

Some entrepreneurs say it's got so competitive, and there are now so many projects listed screaming for attention, that it has become very difficult for small players to get noticed."

The main thrust of the article depicts the issue that a number of entrepreneurs are having with the websites, not receiving funding. Now, the owner of one of those websites argues that this is just because maybe their idea isn't needed or interesting the world- a valid point. It is unrealistic for entrepreneurs to assume that they will definitely get funding for an idea, and be affronted if the sites do not get them the money they want, it might not be a valid idea. However, an issue related to this is the possibility that some larger groups (or already established businesses) could be getting more attention due to their size, which is making it harder for smaller projects to get noticed.

Furthermore, is this going to be an issue for African crowdfunding soon? We would expect not, at least not quite yet. The notion of crowdfunding in Africa has only recently taken off, and there are only a couple of sites available at the moment; leading us to believe that crowdfunding is still a viable option for entrepreneurs in Africa. 

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The True Size of Africa

by Developed Africa 3. January 2014 09:00

The sheer enormity of Africa is often forgotten or misjudged. Here is an infographic to show just how large it is:

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Predictions for Africa in 2014

by Developed Africa 2. January 2014 09:00

Developed Africa looks to the year ahead

With regards to the economy, economic growth looks set to stay fairly high. Despite the faltering of South Africa, other nations will rise to become the wealthiest African state, and it is looking most likely to be Nigeria. However, an important fact to remember is that there are still challenges ahead in regards to African countries' economies, whilst there is increased growth, the wealth is remaining with the elites and this needs to be addressed in order for Africa to develop fully.

When it comes to predictions for Africa in the coming year, technology is obviously an area in which huge steps are going to be made this year. But as the technological advances grow, it is clear that teaching IT skills is going to become a necessity, and this is what 2014 will hold, increased IT skills training for people in all areas of work. Whilst the use of IT technologies will grow in all areas making it necessary for most people to have a grasp of computer basics, training of people into tech developers is also key- Africa will start inventing technology as well as just using it!

The election in South Africa is also going to be a big talking point for 2014, the direction the country chooses, especially since Mandela's death will be of great interest and importance throughout the continent and the world. Not only this, but as South Africa's economy drops in comparison to other African economies, the actions of the leader in improving these circumstances is going to be of upmost importance. 

Also, a subject close to Developed Africa's work, the diaspora will be seen to make increased movements into investing and participating in Africa. As we can see from 2013 successful diaspora, such as Ozwald Boteng, have made vast efforts to create projects that help Africa to develop. Following the controversy over Barclays' withdrawal of remittance accounts, there should be a spotlight in 2014 on the diaspora, especially on remittances and what will happen next.

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Top 10 Blogs of 2013: 1. A Rising Africa and its Diaspora

by Developed Africa 1. January 2014 09:00

As 2013 draws to a close, Developed Africa looks back over our 10 most popular posts of the year.

The original version of this article was published by Pambazuka News.

Ever since The Economist declared that Africa was 'rising' in 2011 there has been a great amount of attention given to this new conversation about the continent. While in some ways the 'Africa rising' concept is a welcome reappraisal of Africa, it has been criticised for its vagueness and focus on tired cliché rather than detailed evidence. Financial growth in African countries has been strong for the last ten years. As a McKinsey report stated, "real GDP rose by 4.9 percent a year from 2000 through 2008, more than twice its pace in the 1980s and ’90s." This strong growth has continued while recession hit much of the rest of the globe and is even more impressive given the context of conflict in selected states lowering the overall average.

African countries are still dependent on various forms of external income. Foreign direct investment in 2011 amounted to $42.7 billion according to the UN. Aid programmes contribute $44 billion to African countries according to a UN policy brief from 2010. The importance of diaspora contributions is often overlooked.

Diaspora remittances to Africa represent an enormous sum - around £60 billion in 2012 from 30 million migrants - which represents huge potential and the overwhelming willingness of the diaspora to contribute. It is a large pot currently focused on short-term change but which would be better targeted at commercial opportunities, partnerships and structured investments aimed at promoting growth and sustaining change. It is clear that the intentions of African migrants are excellent; it is also clear that such intentions could be better channeled. Remittances are the first step in harnessing the potential of the diaspora.

The African Union has recognised the need to more clearly monitor money flows from the diaspora. Earlier this year, two workshops were organised in cooperation with the World Bank to attempt to work up some tools, policies and deliverables related to diaspora giving. Clearly, there is a need to improve this process. Even the basics of quantifying the size of the diaspora itself is difficult - the International Monetary Fund highlights that many different countries use different definitions of the word. From this point onwards, the picture of the diaspora and its contributions to Africa is blurred.

While the sums involved are vast, there is little in the way of specific data - the African Union still relies on data sets from non-African organisations - to judge the actual impacts of diaspora based interventions. It is possible that this money is changing people's lives and communities for the better; it is also possible much of the money is being wasted. The real problem, at the moment, is that there is almost no way of knowing which is happening.

The reality is that diaspora backed interventions are probably very welcome but are likely to be poorly managed. As in the world of traditional aid, measuring impact properly is key to delivering better projects and achieving lasting improvements. With financial flows, this can be a simple process - most people are aware of a cost/benefit analysis, for example - and there is no doubt that a framework for diaspora investments would go a long way to better usage. Other benefits that the diaspora give back to their countries of origin are less definite in value: ideas, experience, knowledge, expertise. These 'social remittances' are powerful and incredibly useful - if those too can be channeled into more specific schemes they become more measurable and more focused.

A long-standing critique of traditional aid is that it fails to properly target the most useful areas of development because it does not always hold the best interests of the recipients at heart and that it does not possess the understanding of the unique, local conditions in which programmes are operating. The increase in donor influence over specific projects greatly diminishes the possibility of long lasting positive outcomes. The power of diaspora backed projects is that they can exist on an intra-familial or intra-community basis so it is clear what the motives behind them are and they are able to overcome the information gap which can exist between local communities and multinational organisations. According to IFAD, diaspora investments in agriculture a four times larger than the official development funds; if this power could be harnessed intellectually as well as financially then local projects would have a higher chance of working.The ODI especially, believes that localised aid is, and would be, a far more effective use of the funds and resources, and would most certainly involve much more local knowledge of the particular project and area.

In a recent article, a research fellow for the ODI argued that not only is localising aid work better for the project and the local area, but that it strengthens aid systems, producing optimum results. In particular several areas are highlighted that would be enhanced from localising aid, including the national economy and a strengthened national government due to better control over project management. The difficulty of such schemes is that at present they are not tracked or analysed to a professional standard, so while they may have the best interests of the right stakeholders at heart, they may lack the professionalism to deliver a project most effectively. The lack of formality in this sector, then, is both a strength and a weakness.

Several schemes have been established to amplify the impact of diaspora cash-flows such as the improved structures of sub-Saharan African financial sectors and the increased money lending capacities in such areas. Of course, there is still a huge amount of potential to be unlocked.

There are some clear areas that policymakers in both the developed and developing worlds can help to improve the effectiveness of diaspora contributions. Domestic bank charges account for around 12% of remittances to Africa currently, which clearly limits the scope for contributions of any sort. The complex and off-putting visa demands of, for example, countries in the European Union represent an enormous stumbling block for well-functioning diaspora schemes. Policymakers have recognised these issues but change will not occur overnight. It is crucial that the diaspora and related diaspora organisations seek to improve relevant structural issues themselves. If the diaspora improves organically, those policymakers seeking to complement this growth will have a stronger case to make.

Globally, transparency has become a major issue for policymakers and businesses alike in the last ten years. This is a movement that is built on data - how to measure it, how to manipulate it, how to test it. It embraces governments, civil society organisations and the commercial sector by unifying these different groups under the simple ideal that better data equals better results. Because transparent schemes let the public scrutinise the associated data there is less chance that the needs of local stakeholders can go ignored - those stakeholders are now able to check and prove or disprove claims of assistance. This sort of process is one that would greatly benefit diaspora investments - rather than simply claiming to hold the interests of local stakeholders closer to heart than traditional aid or business models, they will be able to show it.

In 2004, a paper by the Migration Policy Institute called for organisations to focus on combating the information deficit surrounding diaspora funds to help nascent development and investment projects to be more effective and transparent. Developed Africa believes that opening up the commercial potential of Africa is also best served by combating this deficit. There are millions of opportunities in the continent for investment and other support; the main issue for those on the outside is a lack of knowledge about what is available and, crucially, what returns they can expect.

If members of the Africa’s diasporas know everything they need to know about where these opportunities are, what they are seeking to achieve and what support they are seeking, they will be empowered to become involved in development. Diaspora organisations are ideally suited to drive such projects forward as they have better local understanding and have a clear commitment to seeking sustainable change. Developed Africa offers a platform for this.

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Top 10 Blogs of 2013: 2. Save the Children merges with Merlin

by Developed Africa 31. December 2013 09:00

As 2013 draws to a close, Developed Africa looks back over our 10 most popular posts of the year.

As Save the Children and Merlin merge, it makes big news in the NGO and development world. Many are questioning why has this happened and what will it mean for both organisations? An interesting read in the Guardian lays out the facts and figures of the move, but also delves into the different arguments for what it could mean.

Immediately, when you think of merger, you think of business. And that is exactly what springs to mind in terms of this new development. So despite the confused reaction of many, it is clear that this is simply a business move, and proof that despite hiding behind charitable buzz words, deep down, NGOs behave like businesses. They may be calling it a 'partnership' but it is most definitely a merger. Which there is nothing wrong with in many people's eyes, but NGOs like to conceal this part of their nature in order not to appear competitive or business-like in any way. As the article puts it: 

if mergers are a reality in global development, so too is competition"

At this point they also mention the fact that by making this move Save the Children could well be stepping on MSF's toes, and perhaps even looking to overshadow it and increase its influence across the sector. Another important question is which of the two will triumph? Despite the fact that they are pitching this as an opportunity to combine their efforts with one another to provide a wide ranging quality service, to many, it's just Save the Children making their move into another area of the NGO realm. 

But is it that such a bad thing for NGOs to start merging? Despite the fact that NGOs try to steer away from any possibility that they might be business like and compete with one another, by not merging they are remaining at odds with every other NGO who is pursuing the same goals as they are. And by remaining like this, we can see more of the issues that have become prevalent in the development world including: competing projects from different organisations vying for space; the money donated to each charity split into too many different groups, whereas if they merged, they would have far more funding, and a more controlled focus. More merging like this could in fact lead towards a more succinct approach to development problems, without so many different NGOs pursuing their own projects, it could even make sense for them to join forces formally in order to best approach the situations and problems they face. 

But this also opens up the argument that being a business in the development world is not as bad as charities would like you to believe, and proves that a business like Developed Africa is paving the right way in its approach to development. Aid is not a sustainable method of helping underdeveloped countries to prosper, but encouraging business and competition, which works pretty well for the rest of the world, is the way forward. 

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Top 10 Blogs of 2013: 3. Cashew Nut Industry

by Developed Africa 30. December 2013 09:00

As 2013 draws to a close, Developed Africa looks back over our 10 most popular posts of the year.

The Guardian recently published several articles detailing the issues behind the cashew industry, including details of the awful conditions the cashew shellers work in, and the terrible payment they get in return. But their suffering becomes particularly poignant when you learn of the money that is made by superstores on the profit of these cashew nuts sold at extortionate prices in comparison to the amount paid to workers. 

It's time the EU took action and set up a regulator with the power to stop abuses by retailers that result in extremely low pay and appalling working conditions."

 Head of policy from Traidcraft, Liz May has argued that a regulating power needs to be set up by the EU to stop the poor working conditions as well as the awful pay of cashew nut workers. In order for it actually have an affect on these practices, it needs to be a regulator, simply advising will not be good enough to actually make any changes. The group would need powers to investigate working practices and scales of pay in order to have an effective impact.

It is not only working conditions that need addressing, there is a notable issue with who farmers sell to. More needs to be done to alert farmers to the benefits of selling to collection centres (if there are any in their region) rather than to middlemen who give them a lower price and subsequently sell to the collection centres. More co-operation needs to occur, and farmers need to be properly informed of their options- they could be earning so much more for the same yields of cashews. 

Perhaps, as Tanzania Investment Centre calls for more investment into Tanzania's cashew nut industry, the best way for better conditions and pay to avail is if there is enough investment into the sector to allow more collection centres, processing plants, etc. to be set up in the areas where there are cashew nut farmers, so that they have a better option than selling to the middlemen who send it off to be processed, often in other countries. If the whole process could be conducted in each separate area where cashew nuts are harvested, then the livelihood of the cashew farmers would be both protected and elevated.

But it isn't just this industry in which workers are underpaid and supermarkets make extreme profits from their exploitation. The warped supply chain is similar to that of coffee (see our previous article on the coffee industry), as well as sugar (see another of our articles). This is happening across the board in these industries, and is a difficult situation to tackle- but one that should be addressed. Should supermarkets be able to make such a large profit whilst those farmers and processors are paid barely enough to live on? Co-operations, better informed farmers, and a regulation body would benefit these industries greatly. 

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Top 10 Blogs of 2013: 4. Highlights: Africa Attractiveness Survey 2013

by Developed Africa 27. December 2013 09:00

As 2013 draws to a close, Developed Africa looks back over our 10 most popular posts of the year.

Moon rising over Cape Town, South Africa

We spoke in the last post briefly about the Ernst & Young 2013 Africa Attractiveness Survey and thought it might be of interest to flag up a few of our highlights from the document.

The 2012 edition of the Survey focused on the huge jump in foreign direct investments (FDIs) in Africa - up 27% from the original survey in 2010 - and stressed that, despite the criticisms, the narrative surrounding the continent's rise should be told "more confidently and consistently". The new edition continues this bullishness, it's Executive Summary titled, "Africa's rise is real". Ersnet & Young focus on economic facts and dismiss any scepticism out of hand - this growth is consistent, it is diverse and it should be celebrated.

The story is not totally one-sided, however, as FDIs have decreased in the last year despite the ongoing rise in global esteem that the continent seems to be going through. Greenfield FDI projects were down 12% from 2012 - although, that is in a global context where all such projects were down 15%. There are other issues, too, such as the perception of conducting business in Africa. Again, despite Africa's rise, many foreign investors remain unwilling to do business there. As it states on page 5,

However, the big take away for us from this year’s survey is the stark and enduring perception gap between those respondents who are already doing business in Africa versus those that have not yet invested in the continent... those with no business presence in Africa are far more negative about Africa’s progress and prospects. Only 47% of these respondents believe Africa’s attractiveness  will improve over the next three years, and they rank Africa as the least attractive investment destination in the world."

As we recently highlighted, the potential of African business is being severely limited by the lack of proper communication about how much commercial potential there is. Developed Africa seeks to directly combat that so do check out our homepage for more.

The good news is that the percieved attractiveness of various sectors in Africa has improved allowing for more diverse business models. As stated on page 41,

There has been a marked shift in perceived sector attractiveness; resources remain top of the list, but not by far, with infrastructure and some of the service sectors gaining considerably in prominence"

Previously unheralded sectors like Education, ICT or Financial Services have become hugely more attractive, complimenting the long standing interest in commodities and energy related projects in the region. This is a terrific opportunity for entrepreneurs and established businesses alike to move into new and exciting ventures.

The survey ends with a section focused on how Africa can continue to grow in the next year. The first point this section makes is to stress the vital importance of FDIs to the region. These act as catalysts for intra-continental trade, improvements in infrastructure and job creation. Africa has the largest employable population in the world and will continue to grow with or without foreign investors. However, it will grow faster and more effectively with the injection of funds and the creation of international commercial partnerships.

The conclusion on page 64 puts it neatly,

Business has to be viewed as an essential partner in driving the growth and development agenda."

[Read the whole survey report here]

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Top 10 Blogs of 2013: 5. Nelson Mandela Dies, aged 95

by Developed Africa 26. December 2013 09:00

As 2013 draws to a close, Developed Africa looks back over our 10 most popular posts of the year.

Yesterday evening, just before 10 o'clock (GMT) the sad news of Nelson Mandela's death was announced to the world.

An inspiration to many, the man who is renowned for leading South Africa out of apartheid, will be remembered as a symbol of peace and hope to people the world over. The former South African President had been reported as being in a critical but stable position for some time since his release from hospital earlier this summer, and passed away peacefully last night.

The announcement came from the current President Jacob Zuma, who spoke with great sorrow:

Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell"

Mandela began his strive for freedom young, joining the African National Congress in 1943, going on to become President of the ANCYL (Youth League) and subsequently President of the Transvaal ANC. However his actions against racism and for equality and peace led to his imprisonment of 27 years from 1964 to 1990. 

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in leading the negotiations that brought the end of apartheid. As The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu said last night:

He transcended race and class in his personal actions, through his warmth and through his willingness to listen and to empathise with others. And he restored others' faith in Africa and Africans."

There will be much sorrow and mourning in the weeks to come, for more in-depth accounts of Mandela's life, look to:

The Guardian, with an interactive timeline

For Jacob Zuma's full speech go to ABC

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Top 10 Blogs of 2013: 6. Welcome to Developed Africa

by Developed Africa 25. December 2013 09:00

As 2013 draws to a close, Developed Africa looks back over our 10 most popular posts of the year.

 “A new, inclusive way of doing business in Africa,” Sam Foxman, Director of Developed Africa

This website is a new kind of resource for anybody interested in Africa. We foster partnerships between people with big ideas and those searching for new opportunities in a rapidly developing market. We believe that commercial engagement with and investment in African projects is the best way for the continent to develop. The problem is the information deficit that makes companies outside Africa hesitant to do business on the continent.

There are many myths and preconceptions about working in Africa. Much of this stems from the lack of easily accessible information on proposed projects. This website will make such information incredibly easy to search and digest. It also provides a platform for Opportunity Providers to gain a new platform for their ideas.

For too long, development in Africa has been dominated by Western-backed, donor-dominated non-profit models. While these mechanisms have achieved some successes, the development of commercial partnerships is the next step, allowing greater sustainability and initiatives that truly reflect the needs and desires of the people. The aid model creates a systematic imbalance between donors and recipients and a bias against the treatment of African opportunities as serious commercial projects. Developed Africa’s objective is to bring balance to the relationship between developed and developing countries by providing a platform on which all parties can engage as equals.

Please sign up if you have an idea for an Opportunity or are interested in browsing our database for new investment ideas. Check back regularly on the News tab for updates and discussions.

Follow @DevelopedAfrica

Like Developed Africa on Facebook

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Top 10 Blogs of 2013: 7. Resources in Africa

by Developed Africa 24. December 2013 09:00

As 2013 draws to a close, Developed Africa looks back over our 10 most popular posts of the year.

Africa's bountiful resources have often been a source of contention, we evaluate the current mining investment sector.

An article from the Huffington post, among many others recently, has posited that Africa's natural resources could be the development boost it needs if only the sector was structured for the country's benefit.

International companies typically provide the technology, skills, and finance required. This means that much of the income generated from these industries goes to foreigners. Whether Africans benefit depends largely on how effective governments are in raising revenues from taxes and royalties."

This does not mean to say that international companies do not deserve to be making money from the resources, they are putting in a lot of investment for their returns, the point here is that the countries are not taking enough advantage of their resources, and they are not using an effective system to properly benefit from their mineral wealth. Instead, the article promotes several measures that are important to ensure a fair system that allows African governments to gain more control. Transparency and accountability are highlighted here as being key to the development of the sector, and as more and more countries get on board with The Extractive Industries Transparency Inititative, they will be better informed as to how to properly negotiate contracts with large international companies. But what is evident is that it is extremely important how things are handled once the income is captured, that it should be properly handled. And this means that it is invested correctly rather than frittered, and that the focus is not solely on resources, because they will run out, and when they do, African countries need to have built up their other sectors to ensure they have diversified enough to keep their heads above water.

All Africa posted an article in late September discussing the existence of a new "vision" for African resources which:

seeks to retain most benefits from the rich minerals that have been exploited and taken out of Africa for decades without significant returns for Africans"

This is again on similar lines to the ideas postulated by the Huffington Post article, that African governments should start to make moves into gaining back some of the revenue from their natural capital. The article argues that the new vision is one that takes back ownership of resources for governments, so that the money made from oil, or diamonds, or gas, can have a serious and positive impact on the lives of African people. 

For a long time now, some scholars have branded Africa's immeasurable natural resource wealth as a curse because most States that have the most amount of minerals, are among the poorest, due to the way these minerals are managed and exploited."

The discussion highlighted the importance of countries controlling their own resources, so as not to be left poor whilst foreign investors and countries benefit greatly from their mineral wealth. This is linked to our posts last weeks regarding Botswana and their 50/50 split of the profits from diamond mining in the country. This occurred due to Botswana owning their wealth of diamonds found within its borders, and so was able to broker such a deal. It is possible to see more discussion recently around the idea that such a move would be better for other African nations. 

governments and communities are starting to stake claims for control over the resource located within their national boundaries"

So it is possible that governments may start changing the rules around their extractive industries in order to gain access to the riches produced and to help them develop further.

Aside from the debate about resource nationalism, it is evident that most reports at the moment show a strong amount of investment coming from China, but not only this, the investors are acting in a way which is beneficial to the African countries, as the Business Reporter writes: 

A new generation of African leaders has found it so much easier to strike deals with the Chinese because of their no strings attached approach, as well as the "in-return" infrastructure investments; the building of roads, airports, schools, hospitals and so on."

However, many would argue that this is still not enough, or at least not enough of what Africans really want. It would appear that they want Chinese investors (or any investors for that matter) to supply are more jobs. For example, an article from Reuters reported earlier this year noted that despite South Africa being the manufacturing hub of the continent, 40% of shoes come from China, in response to this:

South African President Jacob Zuma bluntly warned last year that such an unbalanced pattern of trade was "unsustainable""

Counter to this, many still believe that this is a far better option than investment which has 'strings' attached, like the investments from many Western institutions which add on democracy and governance requirements. Which is perhaps why the topic of African ownership of resources and control of how they are used has come to the fore. Investment is most definitely needed into developing Africa's resource supplies from foreign investors, but there is an argument that they should be investing into a sector that is weighted more equally, and is fairer to the host country.

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Top 10 Blogs of 2013: 8. African Transparency: Business is the real winner

by Developed Africa 23. December 2013 09:00

As 2013 draws to a close, Developed Africa looks back over our 10 most popular posts of the year.

Interesting article over on Devex that outlines the benefits of promoting transparency for governments, civil society and, crucially, business:

The African Development Bank (AfDB) last week became the first multilateral lender to publish its data through the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

After disclosing on July 1 data on both its public and private sector activities as well as providing precise geocoded information, AfDB joined the ranks of over 160 development organizations that seek to improve transparency on aid spending to make more effective in fighting poverty with IATI.

The decision has significant human and financial resource implications, but the bank fully believes both are justified because this “is the only way for us to conduct our development business,” said Victoria Chisala, AfDB division manager for quality assurance and results.

The AfDB has already made strides in open data - it put in place a disclosure and access to information policy back in February. As we looked at in the last post there remains something of an image problem for commercial ventures in Africa. These kind of bold, broad steps towards global standards will help to combat such problems.

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Top 10 Blogs of 2013: 9. Projects for Quality Coffee Bean Farming

by Developed Africa 20. December 2013 09:00

 As 2013 draws to a close, Developed Africa looks back over our 10 most popular posts of the year.

  

An article in the Wall Street Journal has highlighted the importance of consumer pressures on business.

Coffee giants Nestle, Mondelez International and D.E. Master Blenders have all started to make waves in the coffee manufacturing world by making some movement towards a more ethical approach in their treatment of farmers and coffee bean producers. Each of these giants has set up a project designed to benefit these important stakeholders: Nestle is setting up training and replanting programmes in Africa; Mondelez a similar scheme in Vietnam; and D.E. are offering funding to farmers to support their businesses.

Clearly there are two different angles that this can be viewed from. Firstly, the motivation for these large companies to adopt policies of this sort. And secondly, how far these policies go in dealing with consumer and wider concern about business ethics where multinationals are involved in developing countries.

It is clear from the article in the Wall Street Journal that the motivation being projected is that these producers are driven by consumer demand, not only for a better quality product but for businesses with an ethical core, who treat their primary producers well. However, the real push behind these moves is the fact that rural farmers are starting to migrate to cities because they are not making a good enough living from farming, and so to encourage them to keep growing coffee, the coffee companies have created an incentive scheme. Frank Mechielsen from Oxfam states that:

Companies are afraid they won't have enough supply in the future"

These farmers leaving has led to a shortage of the highly-demanded beans that are used in single-serve coffee machines; so these steps are not being taken for purely philanthropic reasons, or because they are listening to consumers, but because there is a real commercial imperative to treat their producers more equitably.

On the second point, it is important to note that in spite of the motives, positive measures are being put into place in order to encourage farmers and to help them prosper and develop better skills. But it is possible that far more could be done, Mechielsen from Oxfam comments again saying:

It's good, but companies make big profits from coffee and spend much more on marketing"

This development is not dissimilar to the actions of Nestle and Mondelez earlier this year when they put their backing behind Oxfam fighting for women's right, especially in cocoa farming. Not only was there the motive to improve women's position in life and to fight for their equality, but again there was the self-interested motivation that it was in their best interests as businesses to support women's rights.

Ultimately, of course, the motivation is not the most important element of these programmes. These schemes are expected to yield real benefits for producers, they are ethical, they reflect well on the businesses involved and they satisfy consumers' ethical demands. It is important to understand the economic motivators that have come together in these decisions, but it is more important that business is taking an ethical lead and making people's lives better.

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Top 10 Blogs of 2013: 10. George Ayittey: "Africa needs Cheetahs not Hippos"

by Developed Africa 19. December 2013 09:00

As 2013 draws to a close, Developed Africa looks back over our 10 most popular posts of the year.

Economist George Ayittey, President of the Free Africa Foundation, and author of Africa Unchained, has recently been interviewed on the BBC setting out the reason why he believes Africa is impoverished, and it isn't the usual answer.

Counter to the argument that is typically used to explain Africa's poverty, the argument that blames colonialism for leaving the continent in this state, Ayittey believes in a different cause. He posits that the reason for Africa's current situation is due to dictators and corrupt elites having controlled it's countries' governments since independence. 

He contends that whilst it may look as though African countries are doing well, even though their economic growth is improving, those that benefit from this growth are the ruling elites who control economic activities. And that this is due not to the systems in place under colonial rule, but to the toxic one party state political systems and economic state systems that were put in place following independence. 

The economist finds the problem to be rooted in state dominated economic systems that create a phenomenon which Ayittey refers to as "Swiss Bank Socialism" - leading to $30 billion being donated to Africa in aid per year, whilst at the same time $148 billion is lost through corruption. 

The main crux of his argument is not all doom and gloom, but he depicts the struggle that needs to come between the 'Hippos' and the 'Cheetahs' in African countries. The hippos of course are representative of the ruling elites: the fat cats who take aid and income for themselves. Whereas the cheetahs are the new generation, the young, agile, entrepreneurs who are educated and motivated to make a difference to not only their own lives, but to the continent's.

So despite appearing to be fairly negative about Africa and its governments, he does believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that it comes in the form of young entrepreneurs. But not only this, the systems in place need to change in order for Africa to move forward. Political systems need to change, need to avoid corruption, need to become well-oiled machines that work effectively to improve their country and the lives of the people in it. 

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Summary: Lions Go Digital Report

by Developed Africa 18. December 2013 09:00

Developed Africa has often noted the importance of technology for Africa's development, now we take a look at a report which has looked into the transformative potential of the internet for Africa. 

Despite the fact that currently only 16% of Africans are online, the report states:

More than 720 million Africans have mobile phones, some 167 million already use the Internet, and 52 million are on Facebook."

These staggering statistics are proof of just how easily mobile technology is penetrating the continent, and is evidence that it is only going to grow from here. 

And as Developed Africa itself has previously reported, the report shows that with the innovation of the internet, the entrepreneurship market across Africa has exploded. The internet has not only allowed for entrepreneurs to set up their businesses online relatively cheaply, but it has also allowed for the creation of sites that help to get entrepreneurs funded. But it is not just helpful to the finances of entrepreneurs, but to everyone, and it looks set to get make finances and banking easier for even the most rural people:

the Internet is likely to be a huge accelerator of financial inclusion as it reduces transaction costs and brings financial services to people who may live far from the nearest bank branch or ATM."

The report also states the importance the internet is going to have for education, in the shape of e-books; health, by remotely diagnosing patients in rural areas, saving time and money for all; and in agriculture, by connecting farmers together, and giving them easy access to farm management information, including weather updates.

There are many more advantages that the internet will bring to Africa, helping the continent to develop at an accelerated rate, and to read more check out the rest of the report

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Watch: Do Business in Africa

by Developed Africa 17. December 2013 09:00

Another exceptional talk brought to you by TED this time from Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first female Finance Minister for Nigeria, on the importance of corruption reduction in relation to investment in Africa.

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Green Economies

by Developed Africa 16. December 2013 09:00

Following the UN's Climate Chnage Conference in Warsaw last month, there has been a lot of discussion about Green Economies, especially in regard to African economies

The idea of a green economy is one that is socially inclusive and maintains a low-carbon efficiency. Defined by the UNEP itself, a green economy is:

one whose growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services."

And the UNEP has argued that in order for green economies to flourish in Africa, national budgets need to increase the money that goes into this area, combined with funding from donors.

Ofcourse it is important to embrace a green initiative to ensure future low-carbon emissions, but if we look to this infographic from The Guardian, the continent is already doing fairly well in terms of Co2 emissions in comparison to the rest of the world.

Infographic for World Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Country

Therefore, the question could be posed- should western based organisations (such as the UN) be able to restrict African countries’ movements in terms of development because of what the West as well as the East has done to contribute to today’s climate fears? Everyone recognises that Africa is in great need of development, and whilst it is obvious that global emissions must be brought down, are we sure imploring African nations to use methods which may not be as economically successful as traditional methods which may be less environmentally friendly.

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Africa's Adaptation Gap Report

by Developed Africa 13. December 2013 09:00

The UNEP recently published its first look into the problems Africa faces when it comes to adapting to climate change

The report gives an idea of what the future holds for Africa in terms of climate change, as well as the measures that need to be taken. It appears that the out look for Africa in the face of climate change is going to be dire if nothing is done to adapt the continent to prepare for the effects of the climate changing.

With 4°C warming, annual precipitation is projected to decrease by up to 30 percent in southern Africa and by 20 percent in North Africa...

Currently about half of Africa’s land surface can be classified as arid (dry) to hyper-arid (desert). With 4°C warming, this area is projected to increase by 4 percent by 2100...

Ecosystem ranges will potentially shift rapidly as warming increases, with a risk of loss of biodiversity as species may be unable to migrate to keep pace."

However, for each of these statistics, it was noted in the report that with just 2°C warming, the results could be very different. Precipitation in the North of Africa would decrease by 5-20%, and arid land would increase by only 1%. The report then continues to lay out the costs of these changes, as well as the plans that need to be carried out in order to stop such awful statistics to occur in reality. And this gets across the point that work should be done not only to adapt to changes, but to prevent future changes, the future outlook might not be so bad.

The majority of adaptations are water related, whether that is improving water storage capabilities or protection against rising sea-levels. The report also highlights the cost of these adaptations, and whilst developed countries signed  an accord in 1992 to agree to support developing countries through these changes, there is a lot more that needs to be done. As despite the fact they have been providing funds thus far, the report reveals that:

To meet the adaptation costs estimated in this report for Africa by the 2020s, funds disbursed annually would need to grow at an average rate of 10-20% a year from 2011 to the 2020s. There is currently no clear, agreed pathway to provide these resources.

The conclusion of the report is that countries must work hard to ensure that the temperature increase does not goo above a 2°C rise; but not only this, they believe that even if the increase is kept below this rate, funding is nowhere near where it needs to be, and will have to be stepped up. 

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Happiness Ratings

by Developed Africa 12. December 2013 09:00

The usual ratings you find regarding Africa measure GDP, or poverty levels, the World Bank started ranking the world's happiness last year

An infographic mapping the happiest African nations. Data from the UN World Happiness Report 2013.

In a change of pace, the World Bank took to rating the world's happiness in 2012 using the new metric of 'happiness'.

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Technology Bus

by Developed Africa 11. December 2013 09:00

Video report from the BBC about a new educational technology venture in Rwanda

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Making Trade Easier

by Developed Africa 10. December 2013 09:00

The cost of trade is an incredibly important balance to get right, and one that is currently of high importance on the international agenda.

An extra $20 billion is a fantastic headline figure, and one that headlines an article from Ventures Africa. The article picked up on the World Bank's comments a little late, as they made them in 2012 and their article was released last week. But it makes the notion no less relevant. Last year the World Bank's Vice President said that:

[African] farmers face more trade barriers in getting their food to market than anywhere else in the world. Too often borders get in the way of getting food to homes and communities which are struggling with too little to eat"

Since then, according to the World Bank Doing Business Report 2014, Sub-Saharan African countries have greatly improved regional trading.

The article however, was very timely in regards to another trade deal that was under construction last week, at the World Trade Organisation summit in Bali last week. This was the 12th year since Doha Round talks began, and they have successfully reached an agreement. 

The agreement essentially cuts a lot of red tape for international trade, will make it easier to move goods across the world, as customs operations are also improved.

An influential Washington think tank has put the potential gains to the world economy at close to $1tn and 20m million jobs"

On top of this, it is important to note the advantages this agreement will have for poorer countries, as:

Rich countries and the more advance developing countries have agreed to cut tariffs on products from the poorest nations"

This will make it easier for those from poor countries to trade, making it more likely that they will trade, thus hopefully creating growth as well encouraging investment. 

This agreement from Bali is a great achievement for the WTO and the Doha Rounds; the talks began 12 years ago, and to have an agreement passed by 159 countries is no mean feat. And the Director of the WTO, General Roberto Azevedo, spoke of this as he announced the deal:

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to say for the first time in our history the WTO has truly delivered. This package is not an end. It’s a beginning. As a consequence of our progress here, we’ll now be able to move forward on the other areas of our work that have been stalled for so long.”

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Crowd Funding for African Entrepreneurs

by Developed Africa 9. December 2013 09:00

A recent tweet from EmergingStars about the usefulness of crowd funding for entrepreneurs has led us to look into how much crowd funding is being used by African entrepreneurs.

As it turns out there are a number of different crowd funding websites across Africa that provide such a service, and there are even groups on UK or US crowdfunding websites trying to get funding to start up crowdfunding sites for Africa.

An article evaluating the use of such websites in Africa from VentureBurn, argues that:

In Africa, crowdfunding could still be considered being it its beta phase but has the potential to evolve the startup financing culture of the continent."

The VentureBurn article also mentions the fact that crowdfunding might not quite go along with the African culture as well as it does in the culture of consumerism in the West. However, as the article points out, that might not be such a bad thing, and a different culture does not prevent development potential.

And there is a lot of promise in this notion, as crowdfunding appears to be a way of democratising the process of project funding- making it up to people to invest in ideas that they believe will work, as opposed to the bureacuracy of sourcing funding from the government or other organisations. 

Many opportunities in the developed Africa database are seeking funding. Where there is interest in doing crowdfunding for specific projects we will provide the facility.

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Nelson Mandela Dies, aged 95

by Developed Africa 6. December 2013 09:00

Yesterday evening, just before 10 o'clock (GMT) the sad news of Nelson Mandela's death was announced to the world.

An inspiration to many, the man who is renowned for leading South Africa out of apartheid, will be remembered as a symbol of peace and hope to people the world over. The former South African President had been reported as being in a critical but stable position for some time since his release from hospital earlier this summer, and passed away peacefully last night.

The announcement came from the current President Jacob Zuma, who spoke with great sorrow:

Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell"

Mandela began his strive for freedom young, joining the African National Congress in 1943, going on to become President of the ANCYL (Youth League) and subsequently President of the Transvaal ANC. However his actions against racism and for equality and peace led to his imprisonment of 27 years from 1964 to 1990. 

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in leading the negotiations that brought the end of apartheid. As The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu said last night:

He transcended race and class in his personal actions, through his warmth and through his willingness to listen and to empathise with others. And he restored others' faith in Africa and Africans."

There will be much sorrow and mourning in the weeks to come, for more in-depth accounts of Mandela's life, look to:

The Guardian, with an interactive timeline

For Jacob Zuma's full speech go to ABC

For live reactions and news on his death, go to the BBC News

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Investment into Rail

by Developed Africa 5. December 2013 09:00

The innovation and building of railways is an integral part of trade in most countries, and as we can see from the past, the expansion of railways in Africa has led to greater trade connection and ease of access to previously hard-to-reach areas. Whilst most of the expansion went on during colonial rule, for the benefit of the colonial powers, there is no denying the important impact the railways had on trade in Africa.

Today, more development is taking place, in particular China is investing a lot into East African railways, as the Financial Times (subscription required) has reported:

The groundbreaking on Thursday of Kenya's $4bn Mombasa-Nairobi line heralds another wave of rail construction... financed by the Export-Import Bank of China"

And they are also financing:

a line renewing the link between Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and the port of Djibouti 756km away at a cost of roughly $3bn"

These constructions will bring a boost to the economy, despite what several critics saying that they will bring no significant change to trade. Developed Africa believes strongly that innovations in construction such as this will greatly advance Africa's development, and as such, we have a number of railway construction opportunities on our database which need investment. Investment into these innovations can only be good for investors and the country as greater connectivity brings ease of business. 

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Women in Business

by Developed Africa 4. December 2013 09:00

Ensuring Women have an equal place in the business and work environment is essential to their quality of life, and to development.

This video from the World Bank highlights the key issues that women face in getting into business and the workplace, as well as the key benefits that come from them managing to overcome all the obstacles. Development can only come if men and women are treated equally when it comes to work. If half the population is not allowed into proper employment, then African economies are going to remain where they are, and levels of poverty are going to remain where they are. Real change needs to be made in order for African countries to lift themselves out of poverty. 

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UK-Nigeria Trade and Investment Summit 2013

by Developed Africa 3. December 2013 09:00

On the November 29th Developed Africa attended the UK-Nigeria Trade and Investment Summit 2013 

The event was well attended and packed full of speakers sharing their experiences and opportunities.

Sam Adelemi from the Nigeria High Commission gave a talk detailing the various opportunities that are available throughout Nigeria covering a wide range of areas and sectors- all of which can be found on the Developed Africa opportunity database accessible through our website. 

The Q&A sessions offered a great chance to be able to learn more from the different speakers and to really understand what they were offering. This also led to fantastic networking towards the end of the event- as you knew exactly who you wanted to talk with!

The event was run by African Partnership Development UK and led by the fantastic Tunde Alabi, the partnership's executive Director.

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Cashew Nut Industry

by Developed Africa 2. December 2013 09:00

The need for fairer trade regulations in the Cashew Nut industry is high on the EU's agenda

The Guardian recently published several articles detailing the issues behind the cashew industry, including details of the awful conditions the cashew shellers work in, and the terrible payment they get in return. But their suffering becomes particularly poignant when you learn of the money that is made by superstores on the profit of these cashew nuts sold at extortionate prices in comparison to the amount paid to workers. 

It's time the EU took action and set up a regulator with the power to stop abuses by retailers that result in extremely low pay and appalling working conditions."

 Head of policy from Traidcraft, Liz May has argued that a regulating power needs to be set up by the EU to stop the poor working conditions as well as the awful pay of cashew nut workers. In order for it actually have an affect on these practices, it needs to be a regulator, simply advising will not be good enough to actually make any changes. The group would need powers to investigate working practices and scales of pay in order to have an effective impact.

It is not only working conditions that need addressing, there is a notable issue with who farmers sell to. More needs to be done to alert farmers to the benefits of selling to collection centres (if there are any in their region) rather than to middlemen who give them a lower price and subsequently sell to the collection centres. More co-operation needs to occur, and farmers need to be properly informed of their options- they could be earning so much more for the same yields of cashews. 

Perhaps, as Tanzania Investment Centre calls for more investment into Tanzania's cashew nut industry, the best way for better conditions and pay to avail is if there is enough investment into the sector to allow more collection centres, processing plants, etc. to be set up in the areas where there are cashew nut farmers, so that they have a better option than selling to the middlemen who send it off to be processed, often in other countries. If the whole process could be conducted in each separate area where cashew nuts are harvested, then the livelihood of the cashew farmers would be both protected and elevated.

But it isn't just this industry in which workers are underpaid and supermarkets make extreme profits from their exploitation. The warped supply chain is similar to that of coffee (see our previous article on the coffee industry), as well as sugar (see another of our articles). This is happening across the board in these industries, and is a difficult situation to tackle- but one that should be addressed. Should supermarkets be able to make such a large profit whilst those farmers and processors are paid barely enough to live on? Co-operations, better informed farmers, and a regulation body would benefit these industries greatly. 

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Child Marriage and why it needs addressing

by Developed Africa 29. November 2013 09:00

Following on from our recent posts regarding Child Marriage, we bring you this infrographic detailing the effects of child marriage, from the organisation Girls not Brides.

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Bringing an End to Child Marriage

by Developed Africa 28. November 2013 09:00

The African Union calls for an end to Child Marriage.

Child marriage is an ongoing problem in Africa, and one that greatly needs addressing. The African Union have recently called for an end to child marriage, and the call could not have come soon enough. Child marriage causes a great deal of suffering across the continent to millions of children married off to older spouses, often before they even hit puberty.

The effects on child marriage include premature pregnancy, violence, lack of education, and increased risk of health problems, especially for girls during child birth. And obviously whilst a great deal of the focus of this issue is upon girls, boys are also forced into marriage. It all needs to be stopped.

The Guardian recently reported this statistic from the UNFPA:

one in three girls in developing countries is married before the age of 18, and 50 million girls are at risk of being married before the age of 15 between now and 2020"

It is a startling statistic, and one that surely no one can argue against. Governments may have put measures and laws in place, but that is not enough. Real action needs to be taken to stop this. But not only that, we need to address, or at least attempt to address, the matter of why families agree to sell their children off to older spouses, it is almost always due to poverty and the great need for more income.

Reasons behind Child Marriage

Poverty plays a central role in perpetuating child marriage...Feeding, clothing, and educating girls is costly, and girls will eventually leave the household. A family's only way to recover its investment in a daughter may be to have her married in exchange for a dowry."

But this is not the only reason for marriage, it is often due to creating links between different villages and tribes, and also too protect chastity, preventing any sex out of wedlock. 

Making it a human rights issue

In the past, and often still, the issue of child marriage has not been treated as a human rights violation in its own right. Instead the subsequent issues caused by child marriage (e.g. premature pregnancy, poor health) become the human rights focus, when in fact the whole tradition should be seen as one. 

See this article from the Thomas Reuters Foundation on why it should be treated as a human rights issue.

How to tackle it

There are already many charities striving to end child marriage. CARE, Girls not Brides, UNFPA, UNICEF, Save the Children, to name but a few. But more needs to be done still, and the African Union's support is a step in the right direction. As the Health Consequences piece from Nour argues, it can't just be a case of bringing in new laws, everyone has to be involved in the social structural change in order to actually bring an end to this phenomenon. 

Ending child marriage requires the consent of all those involved, including fathers and religious, community, and tribal leaders. To break the cycle of poverty, programs are needed to educate and empower women"

As we can tell from this quote, it is a very male-orientated world, the consent of male figures, essentially, is what is required to end child marriage. That makes it extremely clear that in the long run, and now, empowerment of women is the key to ending this phenomenon. 

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Internet use in Africa

by Developed Africa 27. November 2013 09:00

Internet In Africa (Infographic)

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George Ayittey: "Africa needs Cheetahs not Hippos"

by Developed Africa 26. November 2013 09:00

Economist George Ayittey, President of the Free Africa Foundation, and author of Africa Unchained, has recently been interviewed on the BBC setting out the reason why he believes Africa is impoverished, and it isn't the usual answer.

Counter to the argument that is typically used to explain Africa's poverty, the argument that blames colonialism for leaving the continent in this state, Ayittey believes in a different cause. He posits that the reason for Africa's current situation is due to dictators and corrupt elites having controlled it's countries' governments since independence. 

He contends that whilst it may look as though African countries are doing well, even though their economic growth is improving, those that benefit from this growth are the ruling elites who control economic activities. And that this is due not to the systems in place under colonial rule, but to the toxic one party state political systems and economic state systems that were put in place following independence. 

The economist finds the problem to be rooted in state dominated economic systems that create a phenomenon which Ayittey refers to as "Swiss Bank Socialism" - leading to $30 billion being donated to Africa in aid per year, whilst at the same time $148 billion is lost through corruption. 

The main crux of his argument is not all doom and gloom, but he depicts the struggle that needs to come between the 'Hippos' and the 'Cheetahs' in African countries. The hippos of course are representative of the ruling elites: the fat cats who take aid and income for themselves. Whereas the cheetahs are the new generation, the young, agile, entrepreneurs who are educated and motivated to make a difference to not only their own lives, but to the continent's.

So despite appearing to be fairly negative about Africa and its governments, he does believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that it comes in the form of young entrepreneurs. But not only this, the systems in place need to change in order for Africa to move forward. Political systems need to change, need to avoid corruption, need to become well-oiled machines that work effectively to improve their country and the lives of the people in it. 

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Investment not Philanthropy

by Developed Africa 25. November 2013 09:00

John Coors, CEO of CoorsTek, discusses his approach to investment.

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Africa's Population Growth

by Developed Africa 22. November 2013 09:00

A map to show how the populations of the world are changing, from the Washington Post.

Following on from this post, we decided to look into what the population growth in Africa means for the continent, and in fact discovered that it does not spell the doom that many fear it does.

An article from the World Bank actually argues that it is a positive thing. And the main point to take from the article is that whilst many will try and argue that Africa's population growth is going to be too much, when we look at the area that they have to grow in to, there should not be so much fuss. Europeans are currently (when the article was written in 2010) 170 to the square metre, whereas Africans are only 70. Population density is far higher in Europe and no one makes any noise about it. 

Not only this, surely what can be taken from this population growth is that there will be a larger population to be able to support the economy- more workers. Especially as the populations of a number of areas of Europe are decreasing, the labour force available in Africa will be astronomical, not only providing jobs for Africans but also providing production bases for a lot of the world's manufacturers.

The accompanying article from the Washington Post argues that:

Africa's amazing growth could bring great opportunity for the countries there, as well as significant risk. Natural resources will be stretched, risking returns to instability, and as more people move into cities, the demand for social services will go up."

However, whilst it is sensible to highlight these dangers, the article does argue that all of those reasons for more suffering could actually go the other way and improve the quality of life in Africa. 

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Tourism in South Africa

by Developed Africa 21. November 2013 09:00

Tourism is an important aspect of South Africa's economy, but there are many more valuable experiences than pretending to live in poverty.

It recently came to our attention through an article from Humanosphere, that there appears to be a new fad among the rich to spend a night "experiencing life" in a South African "shanty town". See the article for further details about this new trend. 

This post is here to highlight the thousands of tourism opportunities across South Africa that allow you to have an enjoyable time and contribute to the economy without patronising those for whom poor and unsanitary conditions are a reality.

Travel
The famous Garden Route
Midlands Meander

Historical and Cultural
Cradle of Human Kind
Constitution Hill
The National Art Gallery

Activities
South Coast Diving
Whale Watching
Wine Making Tours
Safari
Beaches

All of which can be done whilst staying at conventional tourist hotels and accommodation that contribute to the economy of South Africa without being offensive.

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Governance for Sustainable Development

by Developed Africa 20. November 2013 09:00

Video from The Guardian: Douglas Beal of the Boston Consulting Group and Andy Ratcliffe of the Africa Governance Initiative, share lessons on how developing countries are turning wealth into well-being for their citizens 

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China in Africa: Part Two

by Developed Africa 19. November 2013 09:00

Following on from yesterday's blog we look further into the moves that are being made by China in Africa

Yesterday's post focused on the motivations of African's across the continent to do business with China, today we've taken a look at what investments China is making in Africa and why. There is a lot of debate over China's interest in Africa, and a lot of reports suggesting that there is some kind of imperialist notion behind it. That aside, there are obviously strategic reasons for getting involved in Africa, but it would be naive to believe such daunting accusations as that. 

In fact, an article from the Guardian proves that many investors are not only interested in profiting themselves, but in fact they see their presence in Africa as key to helping develop African capabilities and business rather than just their own. The article focused on the manger of a Chinese footwear manufacturer which has established a presence in Ethiopia, and they want to create a hub for world-wide shoe manufacturing, whilst at the same time ensuring that it is not just they that prosper, but local businesses succeed from the venture also.

I want to help them grow because when local producers grow, the whole market is growing. If it is just myself growing here in fiver year's time, I will leave."

Obviously this does not mean that all Chinese investors and business leaders are intent on ensuring that others benefit from their work, in fact many are doing it for particular reasons, future food and energy supply for example. But, just as with companies from the West, there are a range, and they should not all be tarnished with the same brush. 

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China in Africa

by Developed Africa 18. November 2013 09:00

There have been growing reports about China's involvement and investment across Africa- we look at what this means for the continent

The rhetoric is often more about what China's motivations are, than what Africa's motivation is in doing business with them; a TED talk from June, by Dambisa Moyo turns this on its head and focuses upon what it is that draws Africans to working with Chinese investors. She discussed the famous quotation 'give me liberty, or give me death' from Thomas Henry on the independence movement of the USA back in 1765, spoken to rally support for independence and freedom from oppression. But Moyo raises an interesting point that:

"give me liberty or give me death is all very well, if you can afford it"

but that might not be an option for many, this is why it is possible that China is fast becoming the economic giant that Africans can look to for inspiration. After all, China has had extremely rapid economic growth as well as moving thousands out of poverty - so it isn't just money for the powerful and rich, they have managed to improve lives without democracy. 

over the past few decades, China has managed to move hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty by combining state intervention with economic incentives to attract private investment"

As Moyo describes, not only has access to education improved, but income inequality has too, enough to give China an equal GINI coefficient rating with the US- leading her to the conclusion that perhaps democracy does not have to be a prerequisite in order to achieve economic growth, but in fact it is the other way around. And this is why Africans may be embracing the Chinese investments and system with open arms, because they see genuine possibility to improve their lives, and fast.  

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A LinkedIn Africa

by Developed Africa 15. November 2013 09:00

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Digital Philanthropy

by Developed Africa 14. November 2013 09:00

Bill Gates recently spoke out against the rise of 'digital philanthropy'claiming that improving web connectivity to better poor people's lives is a joke.

When responding to questions about Mark Zuckerburg's aim to get the world's poorest online, Gates claims that it is 'a joke' to think that technology and internet access should be a priority, wanting instead to focus on fighting child hunger and malaria, for just a couple of examples. This is closely related to our post yesterday, in which we discussed how important technology is in the developing world, and how if technology develops quicker than things such as vaccines and better sanitation conditions, then the technology will speed up the process of that development. 

"Take this malaria vaccine, [this] weird thing that I'm thinking of. Hmm, which is more important, connectivity or malaria vaccine? If you think connectivity is the key thing, that's great. I don't."

This is not to say that he doesn't agree with it happening full stop, he just believes it isn't a priority. He would rather focus on fighting disease, poverty, and hunger. This is something you cannot disagree with, but you also cannot disagree with the fact that technology advance economies at a fast pace, which will lead to poverty alleviation.

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Technology in Africa

by Developed Africa 13. November 2013 09:00

We have written many posts regarding technological development in Africa, this one highlights the vast difference gap between the technology and poverty- but also how that technology will help bridge that gap.

As digital technology has advanced the costs associated with it have fallen as a result all the technology that has ever been imported into Africa is at the cutting edge, meaning that they have bypassed now redundant infrastructure intensive technologies.  This is a great advancement and solves a lot of problems for those living in rural areas, at reasonably little expense. Following our posts regarding the Bitcoin, it is clear that Africa is the best place for mobile technologies to prosper, and also where there will be the highest uptake. There is massive demand in Africa for transactions to be cheaper and easier, saving people time and money which will give them more time and information to allow them to improve their businesses. 

The mobile penetration in Ghana, which is now a lower-middle income country, exceeds 100%. Of a population of 24 million, 17 million people own a total of 27 million mobile phones."

However, despite the fact that many are able to make innovations and a lot of headway with technology despite a lack of education in the matter, a focus on proper computer and IT education is greatly needed; as argued by a tech-blogger from Ghana, Mac-Jordan Degadjor:

We need to start focusing on entrepreneurial skills as a topic within schools"

DevelopedAfrica is keen to promote a focus towards entrepreneurial skills being taught throughout schools in Africa, as innovation is what Africa needs to develop.

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Bitcoin and its Potential: Part Two

by Developed Africa 12. November 2013 09:00

Following from yesterday's post, we will continue to look into the potential of Bitcoin in Africa, as well as the dangers.

Whilst we noted in the last post how, due to faith in major banking institutions being lost, Africans as well as many others want to turn towards Bitcoin as an alternative, an article from Forbes has postured why this is a bad decision. 

The basic reason: it has no fixed value."

The Bitcoin varies widely in price, and therefore is more like a stock in that aspect, which makes it a lot more volatile than real currency. 

However, there are many who argue that whilst, yes, it would not be much use in the West, and is very risky, the Bitcoin could actually have a lot of use in African countries:

things could be different in Africa, where a universal, electronic currency could solve real problems. Fast-growing African economies such as those of Kenya and Nigeria rely heavily on cash transactions, particularly in rural areas where there are no ATMs and few people have bank accounts."

So, it would appear that the future of the Bitcoin is unknown, but calls for its potential currently appear to be equal to claims of its risks.

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Bitcoin and its Potential

by Developed Africa 11. November 2013 09:00

The Bitcoin has had an unstable rise to popularity, back in 2011 it was thought to be the 'next big thing' but it has taken a while to catch on, and still has a while to go.

To explain the concept, Bitcoin is an online, digital currency unsupported by any authority or government. It has found controversy due to it being used for illegal transactions (illegal drug deals) through illicit online markets. Introduced into the economic arena as an idea in around 2009, the Bitcoin had teething problems, and there was the issue already mentioned of illegal transactions. However, the concept has persisted, and looks set to become increasingly popular in the coming months. A recent story in the media reported how a man purchased Bitcoins for $27 in 2009 and they are now worth over $600,000- evidence that interest in the product is soaring, along with its price. 

watch for this currency to spread in developed and emerging economies alike: anger at big banks here and the economies' surge in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are just a few reasons why this latest alternative currency is more than just a fad or means to poke a finger in the eye of the global financial system"

And one could argue that this is why the Bitcoin did not disappear upon its first failing, the need and desire of many for a digital currency to counter that of global currencies is a large one. 

Looking to Africa and the reception Bitcoin has received there, it landed in Kenya in July earlier this year, allowing citizens to:

send money quickly and cheaply, effectively avoiding the high transaction fees charged by existing services"

The use of Bitcoins in Kenya, under the service name Kipochi, is taking place through the mobile money service M-Pesa. And since M-Pesa has been the most successful mobile money service worldwide, and used by millions of African customers, the integration of Bitcoin with such a service will surely make it a success. 

The service processes 80 transactions a second and handles transactions responsible for 31% of Kenya's GDP, according to the Financial Times. It is this customer base that Kipochi will be hoping to tap into, before spreading to Tanzania and other African countries."

So it would seem that potential, as well as demand, in Africa is high. 

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More on Remittances

by Developed Africa 8. November 2013 09:00

Having previously posted about the value of remittances we bring an article about the dangers too.

This comes after an article from the World Bank that has brought forward the notion of remittances being potentially harmful to economies. Granted, the subject of the evidence is Nepal, but it is possible to transfer the same worries about remittances over to the continent of Africa as well. As we can see from a World Bank report which ranks Lesotho, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and The Gambia in the top 30 remittance-receiving countries. This is not to say that the worries are sure, but there is enough incentive to be wary and to ensure they are not the only thing pushing development along.

despite the growing importance of remittances worldwide and its increasingly high level recognition, we are missing a consistent narrative of growth and development for highly remittance dependent countries"

The issue with remittances for developing countries is that there is a large proportion that do not travel through official systems, and therefore are not officially recorded- affecting their foreign reserve statistics and income.

Zimbabwean economist John Robertson says that while ordinary Zimbabweans are enjoying the benefits of money sent from abroad, the central bank, desperately in need of foreign reserves, is not. The country is in dire need of official foreign exchange"

Whilst it is argued that for some countries dependency is a worry, it is clear that in many countries throughout Africa, the real concern is ensuring that the remittances that are sent to the country are sent through official means in order for the country, and its economy, to benefit, not just the individuals. 

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Major Energy Developments in Ethiopia

by Developed Africa 7. November 2013 09:00

Africa's 'largest wind farm' opened in Ethiopia.

An enormous wind farm, which has been built over the past three years, has been opened by Ethiopia's president Hailemariam Desalegn, last week.

This move into renewable energy could spell big things for Ethiopia and its energy sector, as the farm is set to create 400KWh of power a year. In an article from the Guardian, it is reported that:

Ethiopia aims to become the region's leading producer of renewable energy... It urgently needs new energy to feed economic growth that has averaged more than 10% over the past decade"

And it is clear that the opportunity for this project was handled well by the government as it ensure that the project included "local spin-offs", leading to many of the nation's companies and businesses being involved in the creation of:

geo-technical investigations, roads, turbine foundations, sub-station erection and electro-mechanical erection works"

However, related to our post last week on corporate responsibility and land-grabbing, it appears that the project also left many moved from their land without compensation. So whilst we celebrate the achievement of this project and what it will mean for Ethiopia's energy sector as well as its overall economy, we need to remember that corporate responsibility is important, and people should not be swept aside in the path of development. 

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Analysis: The Gender Report 2013

by Developed Africa 6. November 2013 09:00

Last week the World Economic Forum published its 8th Gender Report, providing statistics on the improvements or set backs different countries have had in the past year.

The report provides a good base of statistics and data from which many NGOs and researchers can work from. There are many different categories and indicators included in the study, which are then rounded together to create the overall score, which places each country in an overall ranking: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.

The highest ranking African countries on the list have achieved their positions on it in a variety of ways. For example, South Africa ranks at 17 this year (one place above the UK), and within sub-Saharan Africa it has done the best in the category 'Political Empowerment' and holds

the fifth position on the Women in parliament indicator and the eleventh on the Women in ministerial positions indicator."

Lesotho is the highest scoring African country this year, ranking 16, as well as having scored the highest mark on both education and health, having successfully closed the gender gap in both areas.

Lesotho is the third best performer of the lower-middle income countries and is among the highest climbers within the 110 countries that have been included in the Report since 2006."

What is important to take away from the report, other the high-flyers, is the progress that many other countries have made in this area. Despite still remaining fairly low in the rankings, it is encouraging to see improvement. For instance, despite having made a large fall down the list, Mauritania completely closed the gender gap in the health and survival sector; in a similar situation, Cape Verde has the highest number of women in ministerial positions in Sub-Saharan Africa; Senegal, now at 67 has made a climb due to its ranking at 3rd in the percentage of women in parliament indicator with women making up 43% of parliament.

But a clear message from the report is the fact that it shouldn't just be down to governments to make the changes, it is businesses that need to put in the work too:

While governments have an important role to play in creating the right policy framework for improving women’s access and opportunities, it is also the imperative of companies to create workplaces where the best talent can flourish."

 

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Financial Integration in Africa

by Developed Africa 5. November 2013 09:00

Linked to the African Economic Conference theme of regional integration, we look at how Africa can get financial integration right.

The main theme running through the economic conference, as discussed in last Thursday's post, was regional integration, and the fact African countries' development will be stronger and more sustainable if they work better with the countries around them. As the conference progressed, talk turned to what the best ways to ensure integration are, and on the second day Roy Havemann from the South African National Treasury spoke on how clever financial integration should be the first move. Despite this assertion that it should be the first move, it is a move that still needs to be made with caution.

it needs to be sequenced adequately, international standards need to be adhered to and there needs to be a balance between growth and stability"

Havemann drew focus to the fact that Africa can learn from the experiences (and mistakes) of European integration:

The experience of the European crisis and the euro is a good lesson to us in Africa about the problems in terms of financial integration and, from a policy perspective, in terms of the issues that you need to think about"

It was made clear from this conference, that integration is very clearly the next step in ensuring true development, but that it needs to be done properly, not rushed, and should follow international standards, as well as avoiding mistakes made by others. 

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Development of Cameroon

by Developed Africa 4. November 2013 09:00

An article from Ventures Africa earlier this week regarding Cameroon's potential has prompted this post.

The article highlighted the areas in which Cameroon needs to improve in order to fully realise its potential, and those areas are ones that Developed Africa believes would improve investment too.

The main argument of the article appeared to be the need for Cameroon to improve the inner-workings of various sectors in order to encourage more investment. For example, it is important for the government to attend to the "red-tape" of the mining industry in order to properly allow both parties (state and investor) to benefit from the mining of resources. But it is important that benefiting from the income of this is the sole aim, that income can then be used to improve other sectors and infrastructure in order to encourage an economy that is varied and successful, and not dependent on one sector alone. 

Red tape may be the greatest challenge and opportunity in the sector... According to one insider, red tape... creates a reward for both parties in the the transaction."

The important point made by the article is that the government need to create suitable sector structures and rules, in all sectors, that will ensure the best outcome for the country in various deals, but at the same time, will attract the maximum investment whilst creating a satisfying economy for the state. For example the new investment code from April this year provides numerous new incentives to attract business to the country. 

However, the article highlights the importance that needs to be lain in the creation of a banking sector that is not propped up private investment as:

propping up the banking sector cannot be a replacement for greater private capital involvement."

In summary, Cameroon has vast development potential, which, if handled correctly, will allow its economy to become an emerging market economy by 2035.

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UK-Cote d'Ivoire Trade and Investment Forum 2013

by Developed Africa 1. November 2013 09:00

On Wednesday 30th October, Developed Africa attended the UK-Cote d'Ivoire Trade and Investment Forum

It was a fantastic turn out, apparently DMA's best attended conference, and required a larger venue than had originally been booked. This was incredibly encouraging for future business and investment to be done between UK and Cote d'Ivoire organisations. With sessions on agriculture, agro-processing and manufacturing, investing in extractive industries, and investing in infrastructure through PPPs there was much to learn and discuss. But with plenty of time for networking in between, with people exploring the potential of doing business in Cote d'Ivoire.

The conference also served as a precursor to the upcoming International Forum for Investments in Cote d'Ivoire in January and February 2014. Abidjan willo hos the Invest in Cote d'Ivoire Forum and it could not take place at a better time, it will be amidst the 

rapid improvement in the business environment and the implementation of a new investment code"

The event will play host to key Cote d'Ivoire or regional players, investors and service providers- all of whom will have the chance to network and access opportunities of benefit to all. And will include agribusiness, economic infrastructure and SMB promotion conferences.

The forum will take place from the 29th January to 1st February 2013 at the Sofitel Abidjan Hotel Ivoire. 

To find out more, and to book to attend the event, click here.

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8th African Economic Conference

by Developed Africa 31. October 2013 09:00

For three days, beginning on Monday 28th October the African Economic Conference has been in session. 

The President of the AfDB's thoughts on the occasion are encouraging and provide an in-depth look at where he sees the AfDB is heading, to see for yourself, read his opening comments here

He highlighted the point which is thought to be the centre-point of the conference this year: regional integration. But he made it clear that this was not a time to discuss whether or not there should be regional integration, but more of a discussion of how best to approach and encourage it.

So if we are here, it is not to make the case for regional integration. That case was made very long ago. So as to the question of why we are here, rather than out there getting the job done, I can think of two reasons"

He proceeds to explain what he believes are the key reason for the conference being geared towards regional integration, and they are as follows: 

-Firstly, it is clear that business cannot keep running along at the same pace as usual, it needs to step it up a gear, African countries need to be tougher than ever against international injuries. 

-Secondly, whilst they might be pleased with their individual progresses and achievements in growing their economies, African countries must realise that to sustain this growth, they must integrate regionally.

These opening words set the tone for the rest of the conference. 

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The Ethical Interests of Business

by Developed Africa 30. October 2013 09:00

Following our posts on Monday and Tuesday, we thought it a good idea to highlight how acting ethically is in the best interest of business.

As we have previously mentioned in past articles when dealing with the issue of ethics, such as in Projects for Quality Coffee Bean Farmingwe have wanted to assert that whilst we are promoting the use of ethical methods, that this is not only an argument for better treatment of people, but that it is genuinely better for business.

A recent article from the Times has examined this exact issue. The article focuses more on how charitable actions place companies higher in the public's mind, but the precedent remains the same. In the article it is depicted that customers are more likely to:

recommend companies they believe have a positive stance on social responsibility" 

Thus, the same can be applied to companies working in developing countries producing food, or to governments and big businesses making large land transactions that move people from their homes. The general public will, once they are made aware of an issue (as shown by Oxfam), begin to compare companies on how they treat people and communities, and on how fair they are. Therefore it is actually good business sense to ensure that you treat people you encounter in your business endeavours with respect and fairness.

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The Sugar Industry: Part Two

by Developed Africa 29. October 2013 09:00

Following on from yesterday's post, we further evaluate the sugar industry, and how land grabbing issues could be solved.

It is not that the 'big three' companies (Pepsi, Coca-Cola and ABF) are directly grabbing the land themselves (apart from perhaps ABF as it actually produces sugar itself), but they need to work to ensure that the companies that produce their sugar act in a manner which is fair to the communities in the areas they want to work. Information on this subsequently needs to be made available to the public and pressure groups so that the public are aware of where their food is coming from, and what transactions have been made in order for it to be produced and so that pressure groups are able to lobby appropriately. Oxfam's campaign Director Sally Copley has said:

PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and ABF are the three big giants in the sugar industry and must lead the way in making sure we are not left with a sour taste in our mouths"

In order to develop Africa successfully through business, businesses cannot only look to their short-term profit objectives, if they do, they are not contributing to development, and they are undermining their interest in the long run. In order to help Africa to develop, as well as benefit yourself, your methods should be fair and not detrimental to people's lives. It is in the interests of all businesses operating in Africa to behave ethically and to help the communities in which they operate.

Another example of this can be seen in the recent removal of people from their land in Ethiopia in order for state sugar plantations and a dam to be set up, a BBC News report explains. Information from the Human Rights Watch (a New York organisation) indicate that:

in order to make space for the plantations, government security forces are compelling communities to relocate from their traditional lands, using violence and intimidation"

This is yet more evidence of severe actions being taken against communities in order to make money, with no compensation being seen. Whilst the land might be needed for sugar plantations to keep up with demand, people and their lives should not be brushed aside carelessly for this reason. 

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The Sugar Industry

by Developed Africa 28. October 2013 09:00

Sugar has had a lot of media coverage recently, mainly due to Oxfam outing major companies as exploiting the workers who farm the sugar.

A the report from Oxfam has exposed the increase in land acquisitions, as demand for sugar has grown. This campaign from Oxfam highlights the activities of a number of companies which have been participating in aggressive expansionist activities, and reveals the number of people who are at risk of losing their land, and livelihoods, to give cheaper access to larger quantities of sugar from the developing world.

these food and beverage companies have an enormous amount of power to change the current dynamic, ensuring that food production happens in a manner that is consistent with human rights."

The key point here is that the growing demand for sugar is leading companies to get their sugar from groups that are dealing with the demand by land grabbing. Land grabbing, in short, is when companies evict communities from the land that they depend upon, in order to garner more land for crop production, in this case, sugar. The recent history of land-grabbing can be seen to have launched into public awareness around the time of the 'global food crisis' of 2007-2008, in which food prices rocketed, leading to the widespread panic about food costs. This led food producers and companies to acquisition land in order to avoid losing out financially. These large scale, corporate land grabs did not go unnoticed, and the modern definition of land-grabbing derives from the events of 2007-08.

ABF’s position as the owner of Illovo – the largest sugar company in Africa where half of all large-scale land acquisitions over the last decade have occurred – risks exposing them to land conflicts. There have been reports of land-related controversies linked to Illovo in Zambia, Malawi, and Mali"

Now, it is not a crisis that leads these land grabs, but a generally more sugar-hungry world. Demand for more sugar, leads to companies purchasing more land, leading to governments pushing innocent people off the land that they live and depend upon. The report is full of stories of people who have been left homeless now that they have been moved off their land, with no compensation. 

In complete contrast with our Friday post which highlighted the way in which business can treat people with compassion, and engineer itself to help people, as well as itself; many sugar-producing companies, in a highly competitive market, are not as considerate, and Oxfam is demanding that the 'Big 3' (Coke, Pepsi, and ABF) stop standing for this. They are additionally ask people to petition to stop this from continuing. 

We will look in further detail at the ways to deal with land grabbing, and what the 'big 3' can do, in tomorrow's blog.

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Technology and Investment in Africa

by Developed Africa 25. October 2013 09:00

Due to a recent article from the BBC News website, we look into the reasons that tech companies are investing in Africa.

The advances in technology being made and used across Africa to support development is incredible, but it is interesting to look at the incentives behind the different technology giants in their approach of Africa. 

It is clear from many of the actions taking place through large technology corporations that it is not just self-interested, but the moves they are making are actually helping to improve communities and developing technologies to push forward the development of the continent. Looking at the recent unveiling of Samsung's "digital village" for instance, it compiles everything needed for a rural areas to develop with technology and to grow and improve. 

The critical need for alternatives to the current electricity shortage problem has prompted us to develop products, under our Built For Africa umbrella, that capitalise on the sun's energy and today we once again demonstrate how we are using our core business strengths as an enabler to positively impact lives"

This is evidence of technology development and production not just for the company's benefit and gain, but it is done in order to improve people's lives. 

Similarly, when we look at the interviews undertaken in the BBC report, it shows that business sense and gain is being mixed well with social responsibility and a desire to improve development levels.

For example, the interview with head of Microsoft's 4Afrika initiative, Fernando de Sousa, showed that their programme to increase access to technology and training for workers is:

not just about networks, it's not just about PCs. It's about the end economic impact, it's about the skills"

The initiative is there to improve worker's capabilities and make them more able to deal with the changing technological advances that will inevitably come into play in their job. Ofcourse, it is equally benefitial for the company providing the training and computers, but it should be noted that the moves they are making are definitely have an element of social responsibility and wanting to improve people's situations, as well as the continent's overall development. 

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