308 posts tagged future
308 posts tagged future
Botswana’s economic strength came from it political stability. The Botswana government has some of the lowest levels of corruption in the world.
“We are committed to progress and integrity.” She saw the country’s resources as a blessing, which the people had managed well enough to turn into an economic advantage.
On a recent trip to a first world country, which she refused to name, Makgato-Malesu was questioned as to how Botswana happened to have a better credit rating than that country.
“I had to explain that it did not matter where you came from but how well you managed your resources.”
As we had exclusively revealed earlier, Safaricom today announced the launch of Vuma Online, which will see commuters access WiFi in public transport vehicles. The service was launched by Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, in Buruburu shopping centre at an event attended by a number of matatu operators. Matatus will pay KSh. 2,000 per month and have the service accessible to users for free.
Perceiving opportunities like these and many others, however, will first require a revolution in American thinking about Africa. I have spent the last few years working on a book about China’s relationship with the continent, and could not have been more struck by the differences in attitude in the United States and China toward Africa. More than a million Chinese have moved to Africa in the last decade, largely because they see the continent as an arena of almost limitless opportunity. This holds true from big company executives to mom and pop entrepreneurs from China’s inland, second tier cities.
Americans, meanwhile, despite their far deeper historical associations with the continent, including 13 percent of the population that traces its ancestry to Africa, cling to deeply engrained attitudes toward this part of the world, as a place of war, of misery, of strife, etc. For this reason, and because we cannot get over a long-running sense of Africa as a place to be aided, we are ill equipped to see or appreciate the opportunities that Africa offers.
The American press perpetuates old patterns of coverage even as Africa rapidly grows and changes. The work of Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times, a recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is the most prominent and arguably influential example of this tendency. In a 2012 essay in the New York Review of Books that broadly reflects the focus of his work as East Africa bureau chief for the Times, he wrote:
“What we are seeing is the decline of the classic wars by freedom fighters and the proliferation of something else—something wilder, messier, more predatory, and harder to define… Today the continent is plagued by countless nasty little wars, which in many ways aren’t really wars at all. There are no front lines, no battlefields, no clear conflict zones, and no distinctions between combatants and civilians.”
What the facts tell us about Africa is quite the contrary.
As Jonathan Berman wrote in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post, titled “Africa is more stable than you’ve been led to think,” which drew its data from the Economist:
“Across Africa, successful coups are rare and getting rarer. This Economist Intelligence Unit has tracked the trend since 1960, shortly after colonial withdrawal began. Given the preconceived impression of Africa as coup crazy, many lose sight of the decline of coups… Africa’s governments aren’t just becoming more stable. They’re becoming more representative, albeit in an irregular pattern, as befits a continent with 54 countries. The Polity IV Project measures political regimes on a spectrum from fully institutionalized autocracies (low scores) to fully institutionalized democracies (high scores)… The trend since 1990, across all of Africa, has been towards more democracy.”
No one expects the press to abandon conflict as a topic, but the American media are long overdue for a re-set in terms of the ways they habitually frame African coverage.
This should start with a repudiation of the way that African events are denied specificity. Things are routinely said to take place “in Africa,” or “across Africa” instead of in actual countries or places with real names. The eternal pretext is to “make it easier” for the reader, who can’t be bothered with too many unfamiliar names.
This kind of factual looseness, though, is not practiced toward any other part of the world, and bespeaks a casual and persistent ghettoization of Africa.
Another example of this is the fact that virtually no American news organization offers business coverage of Africa.
Return on investment in Africa is among the highest in the world. Trade with each region of the continent is booming. And recently, big U.S. companies like Walmart, IBM and Google, to name the most prominent examples, have been expanding their presence in Africa.
But because the media speaks mainly in terms of conflict and aid, the general public has no perception of the growing opportunities on the continent, unlike the large numbers of Chinese newcomers.
Ed’s note: And that’s why we started Prepaid Economy: The African Edition over 3 years ago.
Thirty-year-old Cynthia Jadot is the woman behind Valancy. The store in Goma, in the DRC province of North Kivu, has done well, appealing to men and women with a penchant for quality clothes imported from Europe. But since Valancy’s launch three years ago, this businesswoman has also opened two other new shops and, somewhere in between, ran for a seat in parliament.
Mélanie Gouby recently spoke to Jadot about her experiences of retail, gender and politics in the DRC.
What was your toughest challenge?
It was to launch in a country with so many problems. I kept wondering if I wasn’t making a big mistake. What scared me at the beginning was the fact that I was starting from nothing, in a war-torn African country with major security issues, not knowing if it would take actually take off. But I was prepared to go through all that and prove there are also opportunities here, amidst all the negative stories about the DRC, Goma mainly.
What are you most proud of?
My greatest satisfaction is being able to say that I tried, that I took a leap and succeeded, although I still have a lot to accomplish. I am proud to have returned home after so many years in Europe. In my desire to set up a business, I also created jobs. It’s also a source of satisfaction to know that people have jobs thanks to me.
How do you see the future of business in Goma?
There is so much potential in Goma and Congo, in general, despite everything that is going on. There are so many opportunities here; it’s an untapped market. I encourage people to try, despite the numerous uncertainties at the beginning. There is virtually no structure or infrastructure on the ground so everything needs to be built from scratch. That’s the DRC’s problem and its advantage. When opening my store in Kinshasa, I was hesitant because there were already so many other stores.
So, you can see, in health, in power, we are going to go to the market very soon to raise a Eurobond of about a billion dollars for the power sector. We know that power is what we need in this country; that’s what we have focused on. So, all that money will make gas available to fire the power and the emergency gas plan of the Minister of Petroleum Resources has already been yielding results in terms of making gas available to make our power situation better. But we want to support them to improve even more. So, we raise resources for that.
And the education sector – we’ve also raised money for states that have challenges: Bauchi, Ekiti, Anambra – so many of the states to benefit from that. In ICT we’ve raised resources. And aviation, housing – I can just say almost every sector of the economy – I’m proud to say we’ve done that. The Nexim Bank has also used resources to support trade for our economy; export-import bank which is under the Ministry of Finance.
Let me just mention one interesting thing. We have supported the empowerment of women in the ministry through devoting some resources – 3 billion naira – to specific programs in five pilot ministries like Agriculture, Health, Water Resources, ICT and so on that focus on works, focus on delivering for women.
For example, the Ministry of Works said that they will make more women contractors, sub-contractors. They will increase the number that will get contracts and jobs because women are not favoured and we have said that when they do it, we will support them with additional disbursement from this N3 billion. So we are encouraging support for women within this budget and that is something that the President really supports. So, these are some of the things we are doing.
Finally, we are supporting job creation. We are managing some job creation programmes apart from what we are doing for the real sectors of the economy, mobilising money for them in addition to the budget to create jobs like the 3.5 million jobs targeted by Agriculture in 2015.
It’s the resources we help mobilise that will help them deliver that. But we are also managing some direct job creation being undertaken and implemented by government.
Just a couple of examples which you know – we have the program that was mentioned by the Honourable Minister of Information, the YouWIN program of Mr President – this is his program – and I’m happy to tell you this is one of the most popular programs in Nigeria. From the first round we did, we have already created 14,000 jobs all over all parts of the federation. This is just the first survey. The second survey, maybe another 14,000 – that’s almost 30,000. The second round we just launched for women only and the third round we’re going to launch for men and women, the target of 80,000 to 110,000 jobs is easily reachable. This program is surpassing our expectations in terms of job creation and we’re very proud of our young entrepreneurs who are doing this.
We are also managing the Graduate Internship Program. Our objective there is to place 50,000 graduate interns with private sector. Over 1,000 private sector firms have applied. We have placed so far 1,309 graduates and we’re working very hard to speed up to place all the 50,000 who have been processed as qualified to participate in this scheme.
And of course, we were previously supporting the community services program designed to create 370,000 jobs a year. We’ve moved that to the ministry of labour now, but I want to tell you that 178,000 jobs have already been created. And people who have seen these people working in the field, building ditches, doing drains, maintaining buildings have reported that they’re there and the jobs are real. So, these are some of the things that we have tried to do within the ministry to support the job creation agenda.
I could go on and on. We actually need more time but let me just stop here and say that Ministry of Finance is a multi-faceted ministry that is delivering day by day on the budget, on the additional finances for the sectors of the country, on managing direct job creation programs and on supporting the sectors – I haven’t even told you the things we do to support power through the bulk trader, to manage the debts of NEMCO, to push the various sectors along.
We are doing so much more than we have time to share today and we are achieving results.
Talk to experts, academics, or businesspeople about the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and you are likely to hear one of two narratives. The first is optimistic: Africa’s moment is just around the corner, or has already arrived. Reasons for hope abound. Despite the global economic crisis, the region’s GDP has grown rapidly, averaging almost five percent a year since 2000, and is expected to rise even faster in the years ahead. Many countries, not just the resource-rich ones, have participated in the boom: indeed, 20 states in sub-Saharan Africa that do not produce oil managed average GDP growth rates of four percent or higher between 1998 and 2008. Meanwhile, the region has begun attracting serious amounts of private capital; at $50 billion a year, such flows now exceed foreign aid.
The second narrative is more pessimistic. It casts doubt on the durability of Africa’s growth and notes the depressing persistence of its economic troubles. Like the first view, this one is also justified by compelling evidence. For one thing, Africa’s recent growth has largely followed rising commodity prices, and commodities make up the overwhelming share of its exports — never a stable prospect. Indeed, the pessimists argue that Africa is simply riding a commodities wave that is bound to crest and fall and that the region has not yet made the kind of fundamental economic changes that would protect it when the downturn arrives. The manufacturing sector in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, currently accounts for the same small share of overall GDP that it did in the 1970s. What’s more, despite the overall decline in poverty, some rapidly growing countries, such as Burkina Faso, Mozambique, and Tanzania, have barely managed to reduce their poverty rates. And although most of Africa’s civil wars have ended, political instability remains widespread: in the past year alone, Guinea-Bissau and Mali suffered coups d’état, renewed violence rocked the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and fighting flared on the border between South Sudan and Sudan. At present, about a third of sub-Saharan African countries are in the throes of violent conflict.
What should one make of all the contradictory evidence? At first glance, these two narratives seem irreconcilable. It turns out, however, that both are right, or at least reflect aspects of a more complex reality, which neither fully captures. The skeptics focus so much on the region’s commodity exports that they fail to grasp the extent to which its recent growth is a result of economic reforms (many of which were necessitated by the misguided policies of the past). The optimists, meanwhile, underestimate the degree to which the region’s remaining problems — such as sclerotic institutions, low levels of education, and substandard health care — reflect government failures that will be very difficult to overcome because they are deeply rooted in political conflict.
However, even if both narratives are reductive, the optimists’ view of Africa’s future is ultimately closer to the mark and more likely to be borne out by developments in the coming decades. Africa will continue to face daunting obstacles on its ongoing path to prosperity, especially when it comes to improving its human capital: the education, skills, and health of its population. But the success of recent reforms and the increased openness of its societies, fueled in part by new information and communications technologies, give Africa a good chance of enjoying sustained growth and poverty reduction in the decades to come.
Akinwunmi Adesina, minister of agriculture and rural development of Nigeria
“Agriculture is going to be the lifeline for Africa… take a look at Nigeria, for example, we have 84 million hectares of land of which no more than 60% of it is cultivated. In fact, in terms of optimal cultivation, no more than10% of it is in high quality seed, fertilisers, mechanisation and good irrigation,” said Adesina.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa, recently held in Cape Town, Adesina said Nigeria is positioning itself to become a key player in global food production.
“In Nigeria we have focused on making our agriculture more productive, efficient and competitive. We want to be a global player. With the kind of water we have [and] cheap labour we have to intensify agriculture, it makes absolutely no sense to me that we are a large importer of food. We want to industrialise agriculture and make it to be a major revenue earner for us,” he explained.
The Rwandan ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Joseph Habineza, speaks exhaustively about the giant strides of the President Paul Kagame administration and how the country has moved on from its dark days of genocide and ethnic war.
Today, Rwanda is usually remembered for its genocide, which claimed about one million lives, how can you explain this?
Actually, the genocide took place from April to July and almost hundred people were dying every day, killed by their neighbours, sometimes by their relatives. Some even killed their own kids. It is a long story, but to cut it short Rwanda is not what people think. They say that we have different ethnic groups but it is not really ethnic groups per se because ethnic is about language, culture and the land, and Rwandans have the same language, culture and land. It is a very small land. It was a much organised country; people living peacefully, respecting one king. When these people saw that they were not happy about how such a small country could be so organised and also be loyal to one king who was very tall and strong, they said they were half-Europeans. The conflict was between the Hutus and the Tutsi but they all speak the same language and the same culture, except in some thinking that some are special and others are not. So, the Hutus came to power, they wanted to revenge.
Tutsi were killed. The survived ones went in exile in different countries. So, those who were in exile for more than 30 years, by 1990, they started asking for their rights under their country (Rwanda). The Rwandan government then refused to allow them in and said they were refugees. How can you refuse your citizens? The Tutsi now said ‘since you don’t want us to come back, then we will come by violence.’ They reinforced and war broke out between the former refugees (Tutsi) and the so-called Rwandans (Hutus) and even Rwandans who were not happy with the government joined in the fight. So, when they started advancing, the government started threatening them that if they advance any further it will start killing their relatives, which was in 1994. The president of that government was shot in his plane and then massive killing started. Killing with different kinds of weapons like machetes, hoes and so on. They even started killing when they check your ID card and discover you don’t belong to them. Foreigners were even killed, thinking they were Tutsi. That was about the genocide.
Is the impact of that genocide still felt on Kagame-led administration?
Since 1994, the government has been first of all rebuilding the country, reconciling the warring parties and re-starting development because the country was completely destroyed. The government now focuses on development, education and so on.
Rwanda on Monday signed a deal with South Korea’s largest telecoms provider KT Corp to roll out high-speed 4G Internet to most of its citizens within three years.
Rwanda, one of Africa’s fastest growing economies„ has laid more than 3,000km of fibre-optic cable since 2009 in a bid to develop a service based economy and become a regional leader in information communication technology (ICT).
Only around 8.3 per cent of the population have internet access at the moment, according to Rwandan officials.
“This agreement with KT marks a major milestone in Rwanda’s drive to become a modern, knowledge-based economy - and by expanding our information infrastructure, we will create jobs, support social progress and propel economic growth,” Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, said in a statement.