African High-Level Officials, Private Sector Leaders to Chart Actionable Plan to Accelerate the Africa’s Agricultural Transformation
November 8, 2017 | 0 Comments
This action-oriented forum will assemble influential leaders — African high-level officials, private sector leaders and community champions — for dialogue, advocacy and policy action to drive Africa’s agriculture transformation on the theme, “Leadership for Agriculture: Moving African Policy to Action”.
Africa’s agriculture sector and agribusiness are projected to create a $1 trillion agrifood industry in the next decade. Despite this tremendous potential, total investment in the sector falls short of levels required to deliver fundamental change fuel agricultural transformation.
The African Development Bank estimates that between $315-400 billion over the next ten years is required to transform strategic agricultural value chains.
“Recognizing agriculture as a business is a core aspect of the strategy to advance growth in Africa,” said IGD President Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych. “The Leadership4Agriculture Forum is an opportunity for private sector leaders and high-level African officials to strengthen their partnership by identifying their aligning interests so that Africa’s agricultural sector can reach its full potential.”
Guided by recent findings from the World Bank’s 2017 Enabling the Business of Agriculture Report and the 2017 Africa Transformation Report by African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), the L4Ag Forum will focus on harnessing agriculture and agribusiness as an engine of economic transformation in Africa.
The L4Ag Forum will feature a keynote address and two panel sessions with African Finance and Agriculture Ministers and business leaders from across the African continent.
The first panel, “Enabling the Business of Agriculture: Increasing Access to Agricultural Inputs to Enhance Productivity and Regulatory Reforms”, will focus on improving commercial access to seeds, fertilizer, and mechanization. The second panel, “Agriculture Powering Africa’s Economic Transformation: Fueling Agro-industry and Agribusiness”, will draw attention to commercializing agriculture; adding value and spurring agro-industry; and innovative financing.
Grow Africa Executive Director William Asiko will offer a presentation on applying the panelists’ key points and create actionable steps in achieving policy reforms.
During the Action Roundtable sessions, African high-level government officials and business leaders will have an opportunity to re-imagine government and business engagement, brainstorm achievable goals around a specific agribusiness sector growth policy, and explore investment opportunities in agribusiness ventures.
For more information and for the full agenda on the L4Ag Forum, please click here.
Ethiopian Airlines celebrates delivery of first 787-9 Dreamliner
November 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Ethiopian Airlines and Boeing [NYSE: BA] have taken delivery of the
carrier’s first Boeing 787-9. Ethiopian is leasing the Dreamliner
through an agreement with AerCap, according to Hanna Atnafu,
Manager, Corporate Communications, Ethiopian Airlines.
It is reported that Ethiopian is the first airline in Africa to
operate the 787-9.The Dreamliner carries much-needed medical equipment
and supplies to Ethiopia.
Ethiopian’s newest 787 touched down in Addis Ababa following a
non-stop 8,354 mile (13,444 km) delivery flight from Boeing’s Everett,
Ethiopian becomes the first carrier in Africa to operate the 787-9
and extends a tradition of setting aviation milestones.
Ethiopian became Africa’s first carrier to fly the 787-8 in 2012,
and similarly introduced the 777-200LR (Longer Range), 777-300ER
(Extended Range) and 777 Freighter.
“We are proud to celebrate yet another first with the introduction
of the cutting-edge 787-9 into our young and fast growing fleet,” said
Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines. “Today, the
787 is the core of our fleet with 20 aircraft in service. Our
investment in the latest technology airplanes is part of our Vision
2025 strategy and our commitment to our esteemed customers to offer
complete on-board comfort. We will continue to invest in the most
advanced aircraft to give our customers the best possible travel
The 787 Dreamliner is the most innovative and efficient airplane
family flying today. Since 2011, more than 600 Dreamliners have
entered commercial services, flying almost 200 million people on more
than 560 unique routes around the world, saving an estimated 19
billion pounds of fuel.
“AerCap is very proud to deliver to Ethiopian Airlines their first
787-9 aircraft, as the airline continues to lead the way in African
aviation,” said AerCap President and Chief Commercial Officer Philip
Scruggs. “The 787-9 will complement Ethiopian’s existing fleet of
787-8 aircraft, bringing further operational efficiencies and scope to
enhance their existing network. We thank our friends and partners at
Ethiopian Airlines for their continued confidence in AerCap and wish
them every success as they continue to optimize their fleet.”
“We are pleased to see the 787-9 enter into Ethiopian’s growing
Boeing fleet,” said Marty Bentrott, senior vice president sales for
Middle East, Turkey, Africa, Russia and Central Asia Boeing Commercial
Airplanes. “The 787-9 will further enhance the Ethiopian network with
its incredible range and capacity.”
Ethiopian Airlines conducted its 32nd Humanitarian Delivery Flight
as part of the 787-9 delivery. In conjunction with the non-profit
Seattle Alliance Outreach, Ethiopian transported goods donated by
medical organizations in the U.S. to Black Lion Hospital and St. Paul
Hospital in Ethiopia.
“We are very happy to continue our longstanding partnership with
Boeing to deliver medical equipment and supplies to public hospitals
in Ethiopia, which benefit the society at-large,” said GebreMariam.
“This is our 32nd humanitarian flight over the course of the last few
years. No airline has provided such sustained support to the delivery
of humanitarian supplies to the African continent. It is a testament
to our commitment to serve the community as a responsible corporate
Ethiopian Airlines operates a Boeing fleet of 737, 767, 777, and 787
airplanes in passenger service and six 777 and two 757-200 airplanes
in cargo operations.
Amnesty International Is This The End?
November 3, 2017 | 0 Comments
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS AWARDED WITH TOP HONORS BY TRAVEL WEEKLY
November 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
Airline Receives Five Distinguished Magellan Awards
Fort Lauderdale, FL (October 31, 2017) – South African Airways (SAA), Africa’s most awarded airline, has been honored with five premier Magellan Awards from Travel Weekly, one of the leading travel trade publications in the U.S. The Magellan Awards commemorates the best in travel, honoring an array of
travel providers based on their design, creativity, and inspirational messaging in the development and execution of their advertising and marketing platforms. The awards distinguish a broad range of companies within the industry, including airlines and airports, cruise lines, destination tourism boards, tour operators and travel agencies.
For 2017, South African Airways has received recognition from a panel of travel industry professionals with the following Magellan Awards:
Gold: Airline Marketing – Promotional Video South African Airways Next Beginnings Video
Gold: Tour Operators – Marketing-Consumer Collateral 2017 South African Airways Vacations Product Brochure
Silver: Tour Operator Marketing 2017 South African Airways Vacations Product Brochure
Silver: Airline –Overall-International Carrier South Africa Airways Vacation South Africa Travel Planner
Silver: Tour Operator – Marketing-Trade Collateral 2017 South African Airways Vacations Product Brochure
“It is a great compliment to receive these awards and be recognized by travel industry experts on the
value of our marketing collateral that is developed to promote our products through travel trade and consumer channels,” said Todd Neuman, executive vice president of North America for South African Airways.
“This is the third year that South African Airways has been recognized by the Magellan Awards. This serves to reaffirm that our teams’ commitment in providing quality products and marketing material for our valued travel
partners for the promotion of travel to Africa is being recognized by travel professionals from around the world.”
“This year’s winners represent the most talented and creative people in not just the travel industry but of any industry,” said Arnie Weissmann, editor in chief of Travel Weekly.
“We congratulate South African Airways, as they continue to raise the bar, to inspire travel and enhance the travel experience. Their work leaves a lasting impression on our expert judges and readers.”
South African Airways offers the most daily flights from the U.S. to South Africa with daily nonstop service from New York-JFK Airport and daily nonstop service from Washington, DC-Dulles Airport to Accra, Ghana or Dakar, Senegal, with continuing service to Johannesburg. Via our Johannesburg hub, SAA links the world to over 75 destinations across the African continent and Africa’s
Indian Ocean islands. Onboard, SAA provides an in-flight experience designed for pure comfort for longhaul travel. Our customers enjoy a spacious Economy Class cabin, gourmet cuisine and a selection of complimentary spirits and award-winning South African wines and generous checked baggage allowance. Also included are individual audio / visual entertainment systems that deliver an extensive menu of first-run movies, music choices, and games.
South African Airways (SAA), South Africa’s national flag carrier and the continent’s most awarded airline, serves over 75 destinationsworldwide in partnership with SA Express, Airlink and its low cost carrier Mango. In North America, SAA operates daily nonstop flights from New York-JFK and direct flights from Washington D.C.-IAD (via Accra, Ghana and Dakar, Senegal) to Johannesburg. SAA has partnerships with United Airlines, Air Canada and JetBlue Airways, American Airlines and Virgin America, which offer convenient
connections from more than 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada to SAA’s flights. SAA is a Star Alliance member and the recipient of the Skytrax 4-Star rating for 15 consecutive years.
IGD Frontier 100 Forum: African and Global Business Leaders, Investors Gather to Boost U.S. Investment In Africa
November 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
- Global business leaders offer bold strategies to bolster private sector investment opportunities to scale African companies and growth sectors.
- Fireside Chat with top U.S. government officials and congressional staffers laid out plans for greater private sector engagement in U.S.-Africa trade and economic policy
- Forum hosted the Africa investor (Ai) Development Finance-Institutional Investor Roundtable
WASHINGTON D.C. – October 31, 2017 – Top African and global business leaders and investors gathered for the Initiative for Global Development’s Fall Frontier 100 Forum in Washington on October 11-12, to build momentum and catalyze action on increasing greater U.S. investment in Africa and deepening business relations between U.S. and African companies.
The Fall Forum was held at the Ronald Reagan Building and Covington law office in Washington, DC.
The invitation-only forum convened for two days on the theme “Growing the ‘Middle’: Investing in African Companies for the Continent’s Economic Transformation”, where leading CEOs and senior executives from companies operating on the African continent, investors, and African and U.S. policymakers offered bold solutions to bolster investment opportunities to scale African companies and growth sectors.
Investment in the Sub-Saharan African region continues to lag behind other regions of the world, despite the growth and maturation of Africa’s private sector. The forum sessions sought to put forth solutions and specific targets to bolster investment in the region to fuel rapid job creation and the continent’s economic transformation.
“African companies are the engines of growth in Africa. Our Forums go beyond the typical networking and business discussions. As business leaders, we are all about action and solutions. We know how to solve problems in innovative and collaborative ways to accelerate investment and growth on the continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, IGD President & CEO.
An interactive tri-sector collaboration session led by a team from PYXERA Global generated lively discussions among forum participants on how to create effective cross cutting partnerships between the public, private and social sector through simulation games and role-playing activities.
An investor dialogue captured the perspectives of an investor, Hurley Doddy, Managing Director and Founding Partner, and Co-CEO of Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) and an investee, Bunmi Akinyemiju, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Venture Garden Group, on the opportunities and challenges of finding the right investment partner.
Akinyemiju said a company’s success to scale depends largely on its founders, diversity of skills and the need for both local and diaspora talent. Yet from an investor perspective, Doddy emphasized that to attract investors, a company must structure itself to surpass the founder for the long term. In the end, Akinyemiju whose company has received more than $20 million in investment, noted that finding the right investor is “like a marriage” and the investor and investee must possess aligning interests.
A full-day of forum sessions featured engaging panel sessions on attracting private equity investments, financing Africa’s agro-processing industry, and exploring franchise investment opportunities.
The Fall Forum hosted Africa Investor’s Development Finance-Institutional Investor Roundtable, moderated by Ai CEO Hubert Danso, with key leaders from the development finance industry with counterparts from the institutional investment community to generate new partnership strategies and vehicles available to de-risk and finance African infrastructure investment assets.
Burkina Faso’s Finance Minister Rosine Sori Coulibaly, in her luncheon remarks drew attention to investment opportunities in the West African country: “Burkina Faso is back and ready for business,” said the Honorable Sori Coulibaly.
Creating an enabling policy environment for investment and engagement with the U.S. and African private sector took center stage on the forum’s opening day.
Top U.S. government officials laid out their agency’s priorities to strengthen engagement with the private sector for sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa during a Fireside Chat at the Ronald Reagan Building.
Mark Green, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and former IGD President & CEO, pointed out that the goal of foreign assistance must be to end the need for its existence. “The only sustainable way of reaching that goal is by tapping into private enterprise, turning to all of you to help tackle the challenges, and the opportunities that we all see,” Administrator Green told private sector leaders.
Jonathan Nash, acting Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) spoke about MCC’s mission to reduce poverty through private sector growth and outlined the agency’s achievements in Africa in creating strategic partnerships, building new market opportunities and encouraging American firms to invest in African businesses.
Presenting his remarks immediately after a Capitol Hill hearing on the U.S. Foreign Operations budget, Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs for the U.S. Department of State, spoke about proposed budget cuts to U.S. foreign assistance and underscored the importance of having more American businesses invest in Africa to propel growth.
A policy roundtable on shaping U.S.-Africa trade and economic policy highlighted an urgent need for the U.S. to foster stronger business partnerships for African companies to take full advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the signature U.S.-Africa trade law.
Both Republican and Democratic Hill staffers on panel agreed that bipartisanship is key in increasing the budget for Foreign Operations and moving U.S.-Africa related legislation forward.
An evening reception, sponsored by the African Development Bank, paid tribute to Babacar Ndiaye, former President of the Bank, who recently passed away in Dakar, Senegal. Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, shared progress on the “High 5s”, the Bank’s agenda for Africa’s economic transformation.
The Fall Forum closed with an evening reception to roll out a grassroots campaign on increasing U.S. investment in Africa. The grassroots campaign is part of IGD’s Africa Investment Rising campaign, a dynamic multimedia communications and advocacy effort aimed at changing the narrative on doing business in Africa.
The African Development Bank and African Export-Import Bank served as Collaborating Partners. Forum sponsors included Covington as Platinum Sponsor; Ex-Im Global Partners, AllAfrica.com and Accenture as Gold Sponsor; Clin d’Oeil Magazine as Silver Sponsor; and Africa investor as Organizational Partner.
Media Partners included Africa Investor, Africa.com, Africa Trade magazine, African Business Central, AfroPop Worldwide, Asoko Insight, Center Africa TV, Face2Face Africa, Quartz Africa, Pan-African Visions, and VoxAfrica.
Infrastructure investment is breaking ground for new development and growth trajectories in Africa
November 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Tshepo Mahloele*
Historically, strategic infrastructure investments have altered the trajectory of a country’s economic and social development. From America’s Hoover Dam to Dubai’s international airport, infrastructure can transform people’s path to prosperity and propel entire nations to the global stage. I firmly believe we can achieve the same for Africa. It only takes leadership.
Whether it is connecting people to new opportunities through broadband, providing improved electricity access using renewable energy, or reducing geographic divides with world-class airports, investments in 21st century infrastructure has the potential to transform prospects and growth across the continent.
The disruptive power of infrastructure goes a long way. In 1935, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s government invested US$49million in the Hoover Dam (roughly US$840million today) and it took 5000 workers five years to complete. Today, it provides water for 25 million people and hundreds of thousands of hectares of agricultural land, and provides electricity to roughly eight million people.
Major cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Phoenix would never have grown as prosperous or strategically important without the Hoover Dam. And, California definitely would not have become the 7th largest economy in the world without it.
As Harith General Partners, together with our partners across the continent, we have made strides over the past 10 years in building a modern and well-developed Africa we can proudly bequeath to future generations.
Our investments are targeted at strategic sectors that are aimed at propelling African economies into higher growth trajectories. Our investment in Main One Cable is one such investment. It’s aimed at fuelling the rapid growth of broadband and internet access and had a particularly profound impact on West African countries. The 7000-kilometer submarine cable has connected Nigeria, Ghana, and other countries to the rest of the world and served as a catalyst for broadband and connectivity.
Main One has helped to reduce the prices for international connectivity services by 80 percent in Nigeria and Ghana. The social impacts of this are immense, with thousands of jobs being created and injecting a necessary boost to the ICT sector in these countries, with positive impacts on economic growth.
The sheer scale of the opportunity for investment and related challenges in Africa will require a collaborative effort between private investors, governments and development finance institutions.
Collectively, these partners will need to invest nearly US$100 billion annually over the next decade to fully reap the benefits available in the power, transportation, telecommunications, water and sanitation, and irrigation sectors.
Central government investments continue to ground much of the continent’s infrastructure development, contributing roughly $30billion needed each year for the maintenance of existing infrastructure.
However, public spending levels overall remain far too low to meet the region’s rapidly growing infrastructure needs. Given this, the private sector will continue to serve as a major player in filling the funding gap and reaching spending targets.
Importantly, while the need for investment is large, the potential return is also very attractive on a risk-adjusted basis. Compared to other developing regions, the growth potential in Sub-Saharan Africa is even greater. Approximately 40 percent of the region’s population lives in landlocked countries, and many economies are largely isolated from global market centres. Investments that help these less connected economies overcome geographic disadvantages, lower transportation costs and engage in trade, will open up a new opportunities for millions of people living across the continent.
Bridging the quantity and quality gaps in infrastructure could increase GDP per capita growth by 1.7 percent points each year, excluding South Africa. For lower-income countries in the region, the power sector offers the largest potential gains, while lower-middle-income countries could see particularly large gains from transportation sector investments.
With the assistance of our anchor investments such as the Government Employees Pension Fund and support from the African Development Bank 10 years ago, Harith was able to take risks and pursue a pan-African vision of infrastructure investments.
At the heart of my decision to pursue a pan African infrastructure investment vision was inspiration from former President Thabo Mbeki’s African Renaissance vision, which reignited Ghanaian President, Dr. Nkwame Nkrumah’s One Africa vision in the 1950s. Nkrumah recognised that Africa’s infrastructure is, to a large extent, a legacy of arbitrary borders and transport networks designed to feed former colonial powers.
Hence it takes up to 28 days for a rail shipment from Durban to reach Malawi. It is easier and cheaper to ship goods from Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Durban than through the DRC port of Matadi. The continent is littered with such examples.
The most expensive infrastructure is the infrastructure you don’t have. It is impossible to calculate what growth is lost due to the absence of good quality road or rail networks.
While the US leap-frogged from a primitive agricultural economy to the world’s industrial behemoth in 200 years, Africa’s trajectory is likely to be even more surprising given the advantages of telecommunications and steady advances in education.
With political stability and good governance gradually taking root in many African states, the environment is ripe for both continent-wide and global capital to flow into our shores and, turn Africa into a permanent construction site for mega infrastructure projects to propel the continent into a higher economic growth trajectory.
*Tshepo Mahloele is the CEO of Harith General Partners with assets under management north of US$1.8bn. Harith celebrates 10 years this year.
African cities must adopt holistic approach to tourism growth – Mastercard Global Destinations Index
November 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
Tourism is a catalyst for economic growth in Africa – a key theme during the UN World Cities Day celebrated today around the world. The sector is especially important now when governments are seeking out ways to drive diversification as part of their growth strategies. African cities need to find efficient ways to develop into smart cities capable to not only attract visitors, but also to offer unique experiences and overcoming growing infrastructure demands.
The Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index (GDCI) provides insight into the motivations and travel spend of visitors – a prime driver for development in the sector. The Index ranks 132 global destination cities in terms of visitor spend, and provides insight on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world.
There were thirteen African cities ranked in the Index, indicating a great opportunity for tourism authorities to work together to better position the continents full and diverse offering. Cities ranked included: Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos, Casablanca, Cairo, Durban, Accra, Dakar, Entebbe, Tunis, Nairobi, Maputo and Beira.
Learning from the world’s top destination cities
Bangkok, a city that remained the top-ranked destination city by international overnight visitor arrivals with 19.4 million visitors in 2016 alone, provides a good case study on what cities in African can adopt. Additionally London, with 19.06 million visitors, can be used as blueprints for future planning given their strong focus on mobility.
Across the top 20 destination cities, the majority of travel is conducted for leisure purposes. The Index indicates expenditure categories that illustrate how people are spending when they visit these top performers. Key contributors to spend include: dining, shopping, lodging and transport.
These top 20 cities provide a full experience, with many boasting strong infrastructure helping to enhance visitor’s opinion of the city and thus their willingness to spend.
GDCI indicates that more people than ever are visiting cities for business or leisure travel, and that at the same time, the research indicates that people expect their experience when traveling to be both seamless and personal.
African cities must do more to connect people with all that the continent has to offer – but it is critical that cities identify on their uniqueness and overall appeal to visitors. Cities that know what they are about, and what they want to represent, attract more visitors and thus more spend. The continent has the widest range of sights and sounds, with natural beauty, warm people and a uniqueness not often found around the world – this is very appealing to international visitors.
As the top destination city, Dubai sees over 14 million international overnight visitors, which is significantly higher than other cities in Africa. It’s no coincidence that Dubai ranks number one as having the highest percentage of visitor expenditure of GDP (30.3%), given its global positioning as a hot shopping destination. It has carved out a unique proposition and the city thrives on this positioning.
The benefits are obvious, more than half of the top 20 destinations reported an increase in spend consistent with or greater than GDP growth. This reinforces the important role that travel plays in a country’s economy and indicates that the sector is growing much more rapidly than the combined average of all economic areas.
What can African cities do today to build for tomorrow?
- Infrastructure and public transport is key: For highly attractive destination cities, like Bangkok, London and Paris that top the list, ease of travel is a big factor in drawing visitors. This is why Mastercard is working with governments and cities across Africa to simplify access to urban services like public transport, helping to enable users to pay for their train or bus simply by tapping their card or swiping their phone.
- Look deeper at the purpose of travel and spend: It’s safe to say that Africa is no longer just a safari destination, and the reason for travel to Africa varies largely by what a city has to offer. Using data to understand what appeals to travellers will give cities an upper hand to mine the popularity of that destination, and then further enhance the offering. Data is a smart way for tourism authorities to effectively and efficiently gather important insights. Mastercard’s Tourism Insight Platform provides data on spend as well as insights from search engines – proving that data is the tourism industries greatest asset and must be taken seriously.
- Build stronger cross sector partnerships: Expertise within the public sector must be harnessed, it is here where innovation is shaping African cities and helping to digitise economies. Tourism is a diverse offering, and governments are more willing than ever before to collaborate to realise the full potential of the sector. As indicated in the GDCI, cities must differentiate, provide unique experiences and ensure are capable of hosting people from around the world. This is achievable only via cross sector collaboration, and a willingness to adapt.
The Mastercard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities in 2016, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2017. Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities. This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on Mastercard volumes or transactional data.
ICT Offers Africa The Best Opportunity To Bridge The Development Gap-Prof Victor Mbarika
November 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Information and Communication Technology (ICT’s) represent the best hope for Africa to bridge the development gap with the rest of the world, says Prof Victor Mbarika Founder and Board Chair of the ICT University. With campuses in Cameroon and Uganda, under the leadership of Prof Mbarika, Nigeria is on course as the third African country to host the University.
Based in the USA, the ICT University Foundation funds and designs quality education to people who do not have to leave Africa. The Foundation establishes Campuses across the world that have similar standards and curricula like those in the USA. With over 20,000 students served annually, from basic certificate programs to Ph.D. programs, offered onsite and online,the ICT -U has emerged as a formidable hub for education that meets 2st century development challenges.
The intent is to have a University in each sub region of the continent, and with a campus in Central Africa, East Africa ,and West Africa coming up, the goal is very feasible says Prof Mbarika. With affordable fees, Africans are able to receive education that matches U.S standards and the results have been phenomenal says Prof Mbarika who frequently travels across Africa to harp on the merits of ICTs.
On the affordability of the programs, Prof Mbarika says tuition is kept very low to give opportunities to more Africans. While the fees may still be high for some people, it pales in comparison to what is paid to receive the same education in the USA. In addition, the University Management goes the extra mile to source and provide scholarships an grants to deserving students from poor backgrounds ,Mbarika said.
Support from governments in countries where the Universities are located has been laudable ,Prof Mbarika said. In Cameroon, Prof Mbarika said the registration process was seamless with no bribes requested from him and the university is in the process of starting additional programs in agriculture and medicine. In Uganda, the government has equally been very supportive , Prof Mbarika went on. In Nigeria, where he has had the opportunity of meeting past leaders like General Gowon, Presidents Obasanjo, Jonathan as well as Officials of the current Buhari Administration, the response has been most encouraging ,said Mbarika.
Beyond the countries that host ICT universities in Africa today, many African governments have seen the importance of ICT ,and Prof Mbarika believes that this augurs well for development prospects. In Namibia, Prof Mbarika said he was impressed with the efforts of government to promote ICT. African governments are taking note of the importance of ICT’s and this could be a game changer for the continent, he said.
On projects that the University is working on, Prof Mbarika said there were plans to work on the promotion of agriculture using ICT tools. The University is also fanalizing plans to start a Teaching Hopital in Cameroon with strong emphasis on tele medicine where a professional can be in the USA and be able to treat a patient in a remote part of Cameroon,Prof Mbarika said.
Oil gives short-term life to African economies, IMF says
October 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
Oct. 30 (UPI) — The economies of sub-Saharan Africa get some support from oil production in Nigeria and elsewhere, though it flattens out by 2019, the IMF said Monday.
The International Monetary Fund said in a regional report that the downturn for the economy is easing, with growth expected to improve from last year’s 1.4 percent rate to 2.6 percent.
“Growth is expected to reach 2.6 percent in 2017, but the pickup reflects one-off factors, notably a recovery in oil production in Nigeria and the easing of drought conditions in eastern and southern Africa,” the report read.
Nigerian crude oil production averaged 1.85 million barrels per day in September, according to economists with OPEC. That’s up 7.4 percent from July. The national economy came out of recession during the second quarter, after five straight months of contraction, but militancy has been a problem for Nigeria.
The IMF said that growth is supporting regional momentum, though that momentum is lopsided. About a third of the economies in the region are expecting growth at around 5 percent, though a dozen or so others could see their per capita income decline, the IMF said.
While crude oil prices last week reached fresh yearly highs, the IMF said most commodity price levels have stabilized at what it said were relatively low levels, “with oil and iron ore prices less than half their 2013 highs.”
Elsewhere, work is underway to bring the SNE oil basin offshore Senegal into service. When discovered in 2014, the basin was counted among the largest in the world. By the estimates of the companies involved, Senegal could hold more than 1.5 billion barrels of oil off its coast
Nearby Gambia also holds promising prospects, though regional spats over maritime borders and licensing issues with operating companies cloud the prospects.
The IMF said growth continues, supported even by lesser producers, though the momentum will be short lived.
“Growth is expected to continue to recover in 2018 to 3.4 percent, but will likely remain flat in 2019, and well below the levels achieved earlier in the decade,” the report read.
U.S. envoy Haley’s blunt diplomacy targets South Sudan, Congo
October 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Michelle Nichols*
JUBA, South Sudan/KITCHANGA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – In a mountainous camp for displaced Congolese, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley wrapped her arm around an inconsolable woman who recounted being raped twice.
“It only makes me more passionate, it makes me more determined,” Haley told a small group of reporters traveling with her during her first trip to Africa. “I’ll carry the voices of the women that I met and things that they said.”
Dispatched by President Donald Trump to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, Haley’s trip was one of the first tangible signs of interest in Africa by the nine-month old administration.
Her challenge: how to show the United States is actively engaged in Africa, where humanitarian and political crises are often overshadowed by more urgent conflicts elsewhere and at the same time honor Trump’s avowed “America First” policy which puts U.S. economic and national interests ahead of international commitments.
As Africa struggles to win Trump’s interest, U.S. policy is more likely to be increasingly focused on countering militant threats. Washington also has a financial interest at stake as it tries to cut U.N. peacekeeping costs, for which it pays more than a quarter.
Trump has made a point of saying he would not impose U.S. values on others, raising concerns among activists that human rights issues could take a backseat.
Nowhere is that more in focus than in Niger where a deadly ambush killed four U.S. troops who were there to assist local Nigerian forces fighting a local Islamic State affiliate this month. At the same time, Washington has mostly turned a blind eye to the increasingly authoritarian moves of Niger’s former opposition leader, now president Mahamadou Issoufou, as it tries to stop the militant threat from expanding.
Haley, a former governor of the U.S. state of South Carolina, was the most senior member of Trump’s administration to travel to the three sub-Saharan states in a trip that showed how she balances her political skills with her nascent foreign policy and diplomacy experience.
She was moved to tears after visiting displaced Congolese in Kitchanga in the conflict-ravaged east of the country. In Ethiopia’s Gambella region, she kicked off her shoes and sat down on the floor to play with South Sudanese toddlers.
“Those kids will be 18 one day,” Haley told a small group of reporters during her trip. “They will be an uneducated adult with no social skills that will have resented the fact that they were put in that situation and that’s dangerous for the United States and that’s dangerous for the world.”
‘BLUNTNESS IS IMPORTANT’
With U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shying away from the spotlight, Haley has carved out a high-profile role for herself. Amid speculation about Tillerson’s future Haley said that if she was offered the job: “I would say no.”
Known for taking a blunt approach that has raised eyebrows among diplomats at the United Nations, Haley took her direct style to lengthy one-on-one conversations with the South Sudanese and Congolese leaders.
“I think bluntness is important, but I also expected it back and I got candid conversations back from them,” she said. “That was very much appreciated because we didn’t want to have to sit there and deal with the political talk, we wanted to get to the realities of the situation.”
It’s not clear yet if South Sudanese and Congolese leaders will heed her message.
In Kinshasa she spoke privately with President Joseph Kabila for 90 minutes. She had said Kinshasa must hold a long-delayed election to replace Kabila by the end of next year or the vote will lose international support.
But the Congolese opposition was critical of her statement there because it conceded there would be no election this year, in violation of a deal Kabila’s camp signed with the opposition last December, without extracting any concessions in return.
“Calling for Kabila to stay in power beyond Dec. 31, 2017 is the equivalent, pure and simple, of making oneself complicit with the evil genius!” opposition leader Olivier Kamitatu wrote on Twitter above a photo of Haley from her visit.
In Juba, Haley met with President Salva Kiir for 45 minutes, showing him photos of refugees from her visit to Gambella.
South Sudan spiraled into a civil war in 2013, just two years after gaining independence from Sudan, sparked by a feud between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer.
The U.S. invested heavily in the process that led to South Sudan’s independence. The Trump administration has been far less engaged, let alone influential, in trying to end the war that erupted.
Haley plans to meet with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster this week to discuss her trip.
“I’ll give options and then if asked I’ll give the recommendation,” Haley said. “(Trump) very much wants to know how everybody else feels, he very much takes all that into consideration and then he makes his decision.”
*Source Reuters (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Additional reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Sandra Maler)
Young Emerging Entrepreneurs Share Anzisha Prize, Africa’s Premier Award for Young Entrepreneurs
October 27, 2017 | 0 Comments
22 year old, Ibrahima Ben Aziz Konate from Cote D’Ivoire takes Anzisha Grand Prize.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 25, 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation are pleased to announce that 22 year old, Ibrahima Ben Aziz Konate from Cote D’Ivoire has been awarded the top prize at the seventh annual Anzisha Prize awards gala. Ibrahima Ben Aziz is the founder of Poultry D’Or, a poultry business that often has over 500 sales a day and employs 15 people. Ibrahima was selected from a competitive pool of diverse entrepreneurs from 14 African countries. For the first time ever, Anzisha Prize is thrilled to award the grand prize to an applicant from Cote D’Ivoire. This will truly expand the reach and impact of the Anzisha program across various countries.
“It is hard to believe that I was chosen as the winner of the prize. It has been a dream of mine to join the Anzisha Prize network since I first heard about it. The $25 000 is the difference that I need to scale my business and show the young people in my community that entrepreneurship is possible, even at a very young age,” says Ibrahima.
Each prize winner has founded a business that responds directly to a social or economic need within their community. The two runner-ups were Edgar Edmund, 17, from Tanzania and Victoria Olimatunde, 15, from Nigeria. Edgar Edmund’s business Green Venture Tanzania has created a method of turning recycled plastic materials found on the streets into durable construction blocks. His long-term vision impressed the Pan-African panel of judges and his business model showed potential for making a significant and long-term impact. While Victoria, the founder of Bizkidz, a board game that teaches students financial literacy was chosen from 219 applications from her home country. In her presentation to the judges she demonstrated great leadership potential and a commitment to job creation.
The winner of the Agriculture Sector Prize sponsored by the Louis Dreyfus Foundation was Ignatius Ahumuza from Uganda, founder of Art Planet Academy. Ignatius is already a role model proving that the agricultural sector can provide sustainable and fulfilling livelihoods for young people across Africa. Art Planet Academy’s purpose is to expand agricultural education across rural communities to increase farming skills and food security. This is an example of how a driven, industrious and energetic 21 year old can contribute to his or her country’s economic development.
“It is always a great privilege to meet the newest group of Anzisha Fellows. Their drive and commitment to improving the lives of their families, communities and nations is admirable and inspiring,” said Koffi Assouan, Program Manager, Mastercard Foundation. “Entrepreneurialism is an important driver of economic growth across the continent. As these finalists return home, they will become role models who will inspire the next generation to pursue their dreams.”
The Anzisha Prize is a partnership between African Leadership Academy and the Mastercard Foundation. The 15 Anzisha Prize finalists were selected from an applicant pool of more than 800 entrepreneurs from more than 32 African countries. The finalists and emerging business leaders were recognized at an exclusive, invitation-only ceremony on Tuesday 24 October 2017 in Johannesburg. The 15 finalists presented their ventures to a panel of judges after spending 10 days in a business accelerator camp to strengthen business fundamentals. They join a more than 70 strong pool of Anzisha Fellows and will receive ongoing business-consulting support, access to experts, and access to networking opportunities to enable sustainable venture growth.
“Young African entrepreneurs such as the Anzisha Fellows are a testimony to the need for youth organizations to promote and provide continued guidance on entrepreneurship and self-employment for young people. Ibrahima is an example of how entrepreneurship and self-employment is key for achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.” says Lerato Mdluli, Program Manager for the Anzisha Prize.
Applications for the next cycle of the Anzisha Prize will open on 15 February in 2017. Nominations for promising youth entrepreneurs are welcome all year round.
For more information on the Anzisha Prize and to nominate an entrepreneur, please visit the Anzisha Prize website:
The Anzisha Prize is delivered by African Leadership Academy in partnership with Mastercard Foundation. Through the Anzisha Prize, the organisers seek to catalyse innovation and scale entrepreneurship among youth across the continent.
African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of entrepreneurial leaders who will work together to achieve extraordinary social impact. Each year, ALA brings together the most promising young leaders from all 54 African nations for a pre-university program in South Africa with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. ALA continues to cultivate these leaders throughout their lives, in university and beyond, by providing on-going leadership and entrepreneurial training and connecting them to high-impact networks of people and capital that can catalyse large-scale change. This year marks ALA’s Decennial, a milestone to reflect on and celebrate its progress to date, while investing the impact ALA will have in the future.
Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.
The Louis Dreyfus Foundation helps to alleviate poverty and hunger by bringing sustainable solutions to smallholder farmers. The Foundation promotes projects in the areas of sustainable agriculture, food security and self-sufficiency, particularly through education and direct support to farmers, with a specific focus on developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America
CCA Working On Trade Mission To Sudan
October 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
With sanctions eased, U.S companies are relishing the prosepcts of doing business with Sudan .Taking the lead is the Washington,DC based Corporate Council on Africa which is working on Trade Mission to Sudan for its members in early December.
In a recent interview to discuss the state of US-Africa business ties, CCA’s President Florie Liser said, Members were excited with the opportunity of doing business with Sudan. The decision to undertake the Trade Mission follows a briefing to the CCA from State Department Officials on scope of measures taken by the Trump Administration to ease sanctions . Florie Liser also disclosed that during the recent World Bank/IMF meetings , the Sudanese Minister of Finance held a heavily attended interactive session at the CCA to discuss business related opportunities in Sudan.
Revisiting the last US-Africa Business Summit, Florie Liser said it was a success and post summit feedback has been very positive. While the choice of the host country has not been made, Florie Liser did confirm that the next Summit will take place in Africa .Mozambique has so far expressed strong interest and a decision is expected to be made at some point next year.
“I do think that the Trump Administration will want to gauge very positively on the issue of our commercial relationship with the nations of Africa,” said Florie Liser in answering questions on the way forward for US-Africa Business ties. On the encouraging signs, Florie Liser cited the presence of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Wright at the last US-Africa Business Summit,calls from President Trump to African leaders, and the reception he had for a number of African leaders on the sidelines of the last UN General Assembly Meetings.
Florie Liser, good afternoon.
Florie Liser: Good Afternoon.
You are approaching the symbolic one year milestone as president of the Corporate Council of Africa; how is the organization doing under your leadership?
Florie Liser:Well I’d like to say, and I think my board would agree that it’s been, first of all, my one year appointment is at the end of January, so we’re not quite there yet, but I think I’ve been here maybe nine months and it’s been really exciting. I feel like we have been building on CCA’s brand of twenty three years but I’m also enlivening our vision, doing some new things that we haven’t done before, but also some things we’ve done in the past, but making sure we do them in ways that meet the needs of our members. So again, we are building on the brand we have, but we are doing some new things and repositioning ourselves in the market and making sure that people understand what CCA brings to the table and our value added for those companies that are members. We’re growing our membership, since I got here I think we’ve gotten seventeen new members, including some big companies, some medium size companies, some small companies; so I’m very pleased about that.
One of your signature events in the past nine months that you’ve been president, was the USA -S Africa Business Summit last year. What feedback are you getting from members and participants on post summit progress?
Florie Liser: So, the summit I thought was a big success. We had over 800 registrants. We had the Head of State for Mozambique, President Nyusi. We had the president of the African Development Bank as well, who was the key note speaker. And we also had for the first time, I think we were the first ones to do this, to have someone senior from the Trump Administration, Secretary Wilbur Ross from the Department of Commerce to come and give remarks about the US strategy for engaging with Africa from an economic view point. So we were very excited about that and thought the summit was a success. As a result of that, we got some new members. As a result of that, we have new initiatives that we are working on and continuing as I said to make clear what CCA has to offer to the US and African Business community.
At the time the summit took place, many were still wondering on the approach that the Trump Administration would take towards business ties with Africa. What is your take on the way his Administration is approaching US Africa business ties?
Florie Liser:I think that if we listen to secretary Ross’ speech, at the US South Africa Business Summit, he made the point that Africa is an important economic partner of the United States, that we have a number of programmes and initiatives with them that are important. He mentioned the President’s Advisory Council on doing business in Africa. We call it the pack DBIA and that was something that was launched actually under President Obama, but he himself Secretary Ross, is supportive of it continuing and he has already spoken to the members of the pack DBIA. He talked about AGOA, he talked about two way trade between US and African Nations and he made it clear that Africa is a place of opportunity for US Businesses. He also encouraged African Ministers and other Officials that were there, to consider what US businesses bring to the table when countries are considering bids for different projects. Sometime American companies are dismissed maybe because of cost but Secretary Ross was saying ‘you do get what you pay for;’ and for US companies, we bring technology, we bring skills transfer and we bring the kinds of partnerships that we think are longer lasting and mutually beneficial which is not necessarily the case for some of the other kinds of partnerships that Africans may have; but I think his message was a positive one and since then, there have been different interactions.
President Trump has called different African Heads of State, economic issues have maybe not at the The agenda for the call most times I think it’s been security and peace and issues, but the US Africa economic relationship has come up and then during the luncheon that president Trump hosted for African Heads of States, I think there were about eight of them in New York, the issue of the US Africa Economic Relationship also came up there. So I’m thinking that it may not be prominent in the news and so forth, but I do think that the Trump Administration will want to gauge very positively on the issue of our commercial relationship with the nations of Africa.
I would like you to discuss a few other events that you have had in the course of the year beginning with the World Tourism conference in Rwanda, I think. How did that go?
Florie Liser:Well that went very well, but I want to mention one other that we did in early August, that was in late August but in early August, the Corporate Council on Africa, hosted the AGOA Private Sector Dialogue and this was at the request of the US government. We’ve done it before and so we were in Togo for that and had several sessions with lots of both US and African companies who recognized the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the possibility of increasing and enhancing the kind of trade that the US does with Africa focusing more on value added products, value added agricultural products etc. So I don’t want to pass that by; and we had companies there like Whole Foods who is sourcing our value added Shea butter products from Togo and other countries in the region and looking to do more and so we were very pleased with the participating in the AGOA forum which happens annually.
And then in late August, we were in Kigali Rwanda for the World Tourism Conference. As you know the Africa Travel Association became a division of the Corporate Council on Africa in late 2015, and in 2016 we started planning for this world tourism conference which we had in August and it was a great conference in many ways but the thing that I thought that was most interesting was we had sort of people who represent the whole platform in tourism, small travel agents and tour operators but then we also had companies that represents sort of the new platform for tourists in the world.
We had Expedia, we had Uber, Trip Advisor, Tastemakers Africa. We had a number of organizations and businesses who were doing tourism in Africa in different ways and so we were very pleased to have those both old and new platforms , stake holders, and African Tourism come together. It was a very successful forum. President Kagame opened it and we also had as a part of our opening session, the Secretary General of UNCTAD, Kituyi. UNCTAD had just put out a report on tourism in Africa as a major driver of economic growth and diversification on the continent and so when we reached out to him and said, ‘you’ve just put out this report, we would love for you to come and say some words ,he did do that.
So again we had excellent turn out at the conference and also a really good dialogue about how US and African stakeholders in the tourism sector can work together.
And on the side lines of the UN General Assembly in September, the CCA also hosted a number of events. Do you want to shed more light on that?
Florie Liser:Yes, we had several events while we were up there in different sectors, but let me start with the one that was the highlight for us which was a Presidential dialogue on the future of US -Africa Business Relations and at that session we had President Kagame and then Mr Dangote who is on the CCA Board on a panel that talked about how they perceive the future of the US Africa Business Relationship and the key issues and areas that have to be focused on. So they talked about regional trade in Africa, how that has to be strengthened, they talked sectors like agriculture where there has to be a lot of focus in African given who Africa is and what Africa is about.
They talked about misperceptions about investing in Africa which even today still exists. President Kagame said that corruption is not something that is African, this is something that exists all over the world. The importance of American businesses is having the right perspective about Africa and the opportunities there. That was a large amount of what they talked about and that the perception of Africa relative to the reality is something that we still need to work on if we are gonna promote greater investment in FDI from the US to Africa, but also more partnerships.
Mr Dangote talked about the importance of partnerships where American companies come to the continent not just to sort of do business but to kind of go on their own but where they in a very collaborative way sit down with companies like his own that are doing things all across the continent. It’s a Nigerian company but they are probably in a dozen countries across Africa in a wide range of product areas from cement to producing value added agricultural products.
As we do this interview, the US lifted sanctions on Sudan. What is the take of your members on doing business in that country?
Florie Liser:Even before the sanctions were lifted, we were talking with some of the companies from Sudan. One of them Sudatel is a recent member of CCA, they joined in September. And talking about this, the US government did indeed make the decision in October to lift the sanctions, this would be a big deal, and they’ve been in place for quite some time. There are still some sanction related restrictions, but for the most part, the sanctions were lifted and would allow for US companies to be there, which in the past they could not. And so even as we were waiting to hear what the decision would be, we were already talking about what were some of the things they might be able to do from CCA’s perspective and one of them is a trade mission. The other day, on Monday, we had meeting here at CCA, it was a packed room. I have never seen a room like that, it was standing room only. I’m sure the fire Marshalls might not have been happy if they had come, but we had first US Government people from the Department of State come and brief our members and others about what this meant with lifting of the sanctions and the specifics of what they could now do in Sudan. But it was a very positive briefing and then we had the Sudanese Minister of Finance and his delegation who had been here for the World Bank IMF meetings and they came in to also talk about some of the particular sectors that are ripe for investment there. Everything from renewable energy to mining, IT etc They have a lot of opportunities there and it’s kind of like a whole new market that Americans haven’t been able to actually get into and so there’s a lot of excitement and we’ve decided and announced during that meeting on Monday that CCA will be organizing a trade mission to Sudan in early December. So we are very much excited about that and looking forward to taking members to Sudan so that they can kind of see for themselves what’s on the ground and what the opportunities are.
What other measure of activities will the CCA be working on for the rest of the year. I understand you just mentioned a Trade Mission to Sudan in early December that should be very welcome news for them. What other activities do you have in place for the rest of the year?
Florie Liser:So we are looking at a number of things, so for example, similar to that, we have been discussing with Morocco, the possibility, we don’t have anything firm yet, but we’ve been discussing with them the possibility of doing a CCA trade mission to Morocco maybe in the first quarter of 2018. And so we hope that that will come to fruition.
We’ve also been talking with the UN Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA, about an event that we may organize on the side lines of the African Union Summit in January in Addis. The major point of it would be to bring companies, both US and African companies there to have an opportunity to say to Heads of State and Ministers, ‘here is what we need in different sectors in order for us to drive more investment and more business;’ because we know that the AU has it’s AU 2063 vision, we know that the SDG’s have been established and talk about private sector, but on the ground, there are still a number of various issues and challenges and we thought that while Heads of States are still there, maybe what we could do is talk about them in a couple of key sectors, what do private sector people think people think need to really happen in terms of implementation. They have the plans and they have the vision, but the question, is the actual implementation.
So one example, Mr Dangote who as I said is on my board, mentioned there is an AU visa where he wouldn’t have to get individual visas, country by country, as he goes throughout the continent to explore business opportunity. He said in principle, it’s there, but in practice it’s not functioning. He still has to go country by country to get visas. And so these kinds of issues have to be addressed to move both people and goods across Africa in ways that promote, trade, promote investment, promote business. We really need to address that and we want to see if we can get, maybe the first of a number of events like that, but we wanted to see if we could get commitments to do just a couple key things that are identified and then come back maybe six months later, nine months later and see which countries had actually been able to deliver on those commitments and then what kinds of maybe investments or business ventures had come out of that. Just the lifting of some of those constraints I think would be a major incentive for lots of companies both US and African to do more business in Africa. So it’s an idea, it’s not 100% certain yet, but it’s kind of moving forward.
I had the opportunity to meet with the new head of UNECA, the new Executive Secretary, her name is Vera Songwe. We met last Saturday and discussed this again. This is not the first time we’ve discussed it and I think that it’s something that we will do. They think that CCA could do it and we think also that we could do this kind of event well, bring the private sector to the table to talk about what needs to happen. Something concrete and we are looking forward to that. I’m very excited about the possibility of that.
And no matter what the CCA does, everyone know that it’s Flagship Programme is the USA, Africa Business Summit. The last one took place in Washington and a lot of people left with the expectation that the next one might take place in Africa. Is this principle still in place and have you settled on the choice of the host country?
Florie Liser:Well, we haven’t settled on the choice of the host country yet, but what’s exciting, we do it every other year, so we don’t feel pressed to make the decision right away, but we do have some countries that have already expressed an interest. One where the Head of State has actually written a letter and said ‘we would like to be the host is Mozambique,’ and I said the next US Africa Business Summit will be in 2019 and so I’m hoping sometime in the first part of 2018, that we’ll make a decision and then actually start the planning for it. Even though, we have a little time but we are not gonna wait till the last minute.
Is it a certainty that its going to take place in Africa?
FlorieLiser:Absolutely. It will take place in Africa.
And the last time I had an interview with you, you were also very optimistic, very upbeat about the future of the US Africa Business ties. Now you have been President of the Corporate Council of Africa for the last nine months; do you still maintain that assessments? What are the things that you’ve seen that support your assessment? And what are the impediments to the kind of business ties that you want to see between the US and Africa?
Florie Liser:So, I mean on the upside, I think that US investments into Africa are increasing but of course as a share of total, outbound FDI, Africa is still relatively small. When we were in New York and I didn’t mention this, we had several sessions with some countries, either their Heads of State, in the case of Gabon but also with the ministers about five or six ministers from Nigeria and we had the opportunity to talk about the kinds of business environment in those countries and what they are doing. It was very positive. Beyond oil, beyond the gas, a number of the opportunities, we had people of there in the real estate sector, there are a lot of interesting and progressive things happening and in real estate. We had people from the Health Sector who were looking at not just medical equipment but things that are happening in both the communicable and non-communicable diseases area. And so the continent is right for investment. Lots of countries are investing there. Lots of US companies are investing there. We have companies that are expanding. Boeing has opened offices in Johannesburg and Kenya. There are various examples though off companies that are really looking at Africa as an opportunity.
Last Friday I took about four CCAs members to meet the Prime Minister of Cote D’Ivoire and we had such an excellent meeting because we talked about the opportunities there in aviation services. They were saying that at the end of their crises that they had in 2010, they had about 1 million people trafficking through there that dropped way off, now they are up to 2 million transiting through Abidjan and we had another company there from CCA that’s looking into equipment that’s been sold there, and the agricultural sector. We had someone there who is doing work in the education sector, and capacity building working with them on export processing zones ,and again we had someone there from one of our energy company who knows specifically what block they would like to bid on for the new oil fields that are in Cote d’Ivoire and we talked about the MCC compact that Cote d’Ivoire will be signing in November. President Ouattara will be here, we hope will have an event to host him and so essentially there are lot of good things that are happening in Africa, and at the CCA we are trying to be at the center of as many of them as we possibly can.
We can’t do everything, we want to be strategic and we want to make sure that we are supporting our members in the key areas, in the key countries but again we think that we can make a difference from across a wide range of countries and across a wide range of sectors and our members represent that. We can do it for both multinationals as well as our smaller mid-caps and SMEs that are members of the CCA. We are getting ready to launch a membership drive, CCA membership drive to bring in more members into CCA, both US companies and African companies, big and small. And I’m very excited about that because I think that we have something that we can offer to many companies that are operating on the continent.
Before we get back to membership to conclude the interview, let’s talk about the challenges. What is it that African countries can do to improve their business climate? What is it that you will recommend they do so that they can attract more US business interests into the continent?
Florie Liser:A number of them are doing it and in some cases they really need to be focused on it. Using Nigeria as an example, their scores on the World Bank doing business, ease of doing business index, not very good and one of the things that I really admire that they are doing now, is they have a team across a number of industries led by the Vice President Osinbajo, putting in specific measures, regulations and so forth particularly aimed at specific things that they have to do. Reducing the number of days to get a license to operate, having a one-stop shop so people don’t have to go tracking all around to different ministries to figure out what to do. All of these things they are actually implementing right now. My assessment is that in another year we will see that their scores will improve because they’ve been focused on it. They are not just talking the talk but they’re also walking the talk. So things like that, ease of doing business in your country is very important. Governments in Africa take the lead on that. And if they make it easy for companies to do business there, then business will come. If you make it difficult then businesses have lots of choices and they have choices not just across the continent because they can decide I’m coming to this country and not to yours in Africa but they have choices all around the world. They can say well, we are not going to do with African countries because they make it too difficult and we can go to Latin America or South East Asia or wherever. But I think ease of doing business is one thing. I think some other issues are important, we don’t want to ignore government’s rule of law, these are things that are very important because, you know, you can make it easy for companies to get licenses to operate but if rule of law is really not being honored and respected, if there is corruption etc. companies are gonna say well no it’s too difficult to do business there for those reasons. So I think governments can do a combination of things that make it easier for businesses to be there.
Obviously in areas where there is conflict, those countries really have a lot to do to attract business there. Many countries in Africa frankly are not in conflict and then you know, you have a newly elected president in Liberia, newly elected president in Angola, Kenya we know newly elected president once we know how things will unfold, in Rwanda, President Kagame has been reelected. I think for these different countries, the systems are working, democracy is working, rule of law is working and so I think we’ll see investments and business engagements in those countries. That’s what businesses are looking for.
Last question Florie. You said you are on a membership drive. Can you make a pitch to companies out there both in Africa and in the USA on why they should join the Corporate Council on Africa. What does the CCA offer them?
Florie Liser:So, first of all, I think that even though there are competitors out there, there are certain things about CCA that are unique. We are a business Association which has for all of its history been solely focused on, the only place we’ve been focused on is Africa and promoting business between US companies and African companies, between the United States and Africa generally. We are an advocate ,both here in the United States as well as on the continent for making sure that people understand what the opportunities are and advocating for the kinds of policies, both US policies and African policies that really make it possible both for businesses to operate on the continent. The other thing that’s unique about us, we do have lots of large multinational members, multinational company members, we’ve got a lot of the big guys that are also members of the Chamber of Commerce but we have probably more than half of our members are mid-cap and SME companies.
We also have probably the biggest associations in terms of membership. We have more African members than any, we feel that we are not just representing the big multinationals on the US side, we feel very strongly that our role is to advocate for more business engagement and so we feel that we can offer African companies something. We can bring them here so that they can have the kind of access and connections to the right people here in the US. We can even introduce African companies that may be smaller to bigger African companies in Africa. So again, our model is actions, access, connections, insight. We think that we provide insight into the doing business environment. What are the key issues? What are the key challenges?
We think that we can easily speak to those and do so on behalf of our member companies. So again for both big and small US and African, I don’t think that there is an association that can a more effective lead than us. I’m not saying that they don’t bring something to the table, I have nothing negative to say about other organizations that are doing some of the same things that we do and then when you look around who is doing trade missions? Who is taking US businesses to Africa to see what is possible on the ground. CCA has been doing this for years and now we are sort of owning it and doing it in more effective ways. I was just talking to my team about when we go to Sudan, we’ll have meetings with different ministers in charge of all sorts of sectors there but were also gonna take the companies that come with us on trade mission. We want to have them do a site visit, so that they can actually see for themselves some of what is happening on the ground. Because you go to countries, you can sit in conference rooms and hotels and, you know, offices and buildings and really not see for yourself what’s possible and I was saying to my team, ‘we are not gonna do that. We are going to have those meetings but we are also gonna get the people out of those meetings and out to see some things that are on the ground in Sudan. You know people haven’t been there for a long time. A lot of people haven’t had a chance to see. I haven’t been to Sudan. I’ve been to many countries in Africa. I have never been to Sudan. So I do not want to just sit there in a hotel or office building and see nothing. So another thing unique about CCA’s is that we do trade missions and I think we do them quite well and we’ll be doing them in bigger and better ways, going forward.
Florie Liser, thank you so much for granting this interview.
Thank you for having me. Thank you for coming back and following up.