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IGD Fall Frontier 100 Forum to Convene African and Global Business Leaders, Investors to Drive Action on Increasing U.S. Investment in Africa
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
  • African Development Bank and African Export-Import Bank (Afeximbank) will serve as Collaborating Partners for the IGD Fall Forum

  • Forum to host the Africa investor (Ai) Development Finance-Institutional Investor Roundtable

  • Fireside Chat with a top U.S. government official and Congressional Roundtable on Capitol Hill to focus on shaping U.S.-Africa trade and economic policy 

IGD''s Mima Nedelcovych in audience with Burkina Faso's President  Roch M. C. KABORE

IGD”s Mima Nedelcovych in audience with Burkina Faso’s President Roch M. C. KABORE

WASHINGTON D.C. – September 12, 2017 – The Initiative for Global Development will hold its Fall Frontier 100 Forum on October 11-12, 2017, in Washington, DC, where African and global business leaders will convene to drive action on unlocking greater U.S. investment in Africa and African mid-sized companies for sustainable development and inclusive growth.

The invitation-only Fall Forum will be held on Capitol Hill and Covington law office in Washington, DC.

Under the theme “Growing the ‘Middle’: Investing in African Companies for the Continent’s Economic Transformation”, the Fall Frontier 100 Forum will bring together CEOs and senior executives from IGD’s Frontier Leader network to offer insight and scalable solutions on spurring investment opportunities to grow African companies and forge stronger business relationships between investors and African private sector leaders.

The tremendous growth of African mid-sized companies, maturation of African capital markets, bulging middle class, and steady economic growth are making the continent increasingly attractive for investment.

Yet, despite the growth opportunities, investment in the Sub-Saharan African region remains relatively low compared to other regions of the world. Private equity and principal investment capital under management in sub-Saharan Africa remain at only 0.1% of GDP, compared to approximately 1% of GDP in Western countries, cited a 2016 report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

“African companies are the drivers of growth on the continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, IGD President & CEO. “Given Africa’s rapidly evolving landscape, our Forum aims to focus on solutions and creative investment strategies to increase U.S. investment in Africa and dynamic African mid-sized companies that deliver high-returns and contribute to the continent’s economic transformation.”

The Fall Forum will host the Africa Investor (Ai) Development Finance-Institutional Investor Roundtable, which will feature a high-level dialogue led by key leaders from the Development Finance industry with counterparts from the institutional investment community. The discussion will center on new partnership strategies and vehicles available to de-risk and finance African infrastructure investment assets. African Ministers and DFI officials will offer responses to the roundtable discussion.

“African asset owners, principally pension and sovereign funds, allocate less than 1.5% of their assets under management (AUM) to infrastructure development on the continent, whilst Africa is struggling to mobilize private capital for its $50 billion plus, per annum infrastructure deficit,” commented Hubert Danso, CEO and Vice Chairman, Africa investor (Ai).  “This Ai dialogue session will build on Ai’s leadership role over the last five years, creating product and execution risk reward alignment, between institutional investors, DFI’s and Ministers of Finance, to pursue infrastructure co-investments and institutional investor public partnerships (IIPP’s),” he added.

On October 11, the Fall Forum will open with an interactive investor session led by a team from PYXERA Global that will take participants through a real-time simulation that moves from traditional investor/implementer relationships to mutually beneficial collaborations that align business goals with growth and opportunity in Africa.

A Fireside Chat with a top U.S. government official followed by a congressional roundtable on shaping U.S.-Africa trade and economic policy to improve Africa’s investment environment will be held on Capitol Hill. An evening reception, sponsored by the African Development Bank, will highlight a congressional delegation visit to West Africa.

A full-day of forum sessions on October 12, will feature keynote addresses and engaging panel sessions on “Attracting Private Equity Investments to Propel Inclusive Growth Opportunities for African Companies”“Strengthening the Value Chain: Financing Africa’s Agro-processing Industry”, and “Exploring Franchise Investment Opportunities: Win-Win for Building Africa’s Private Sector?”.

The Fall Forum will conclude 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 communications and advocacy effort aimed at changing the narrative on doing business in Africa by showcasing the continent’s business and investment potential and private sector leaders through multimedia storytelling, blogs and strategic traditional and social media outreach.

Forum sponsors, to date, include the African Development Bank and African Export-Import Bank as Collaborating Partners; Covington as Platinum Sponsor; Ex-Im Global Partners as Gold Sponsor; Clin d’Oeil Magazine as Silver Sponsor; and Africa investor as Organizational Partner.  

For more information on the Frontier 100 Forum and to register as “Media”, please click here. To become a media partner or to cover the forum, contact Shanta Bryant Gyan, Initiative for Global Development at email, sbryant@igdleaders.org  or call 202-412-4603

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New diagnostic test for human African Sleeping Sickness
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

A new diagnostic test developed from research at the Universities of Dundee and Cambridge has been launched with the aim of helping eliminate the disease known as African sleeping sickness.

Sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), is caused by parasites transmitted by tsetse flies in sub-Saharan Africa and has a devastating impact, causing thousands of deaths each year.

Today, September 12th, the international non-profit organisation FIND and the diagnostics company Alere launched their second-generation rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for sleeping sickness. This second-generation test is easier and safer to produce, using recombinant protein technology to produce the two diagnostic antigens, one of which is completely new.

The new test, SD BIOLINE HAT 2.0, costs US $0.50 each and requires no specialist equipment to diagnose sleeping sickness from a pin-prick of blood, providing the same level of accuracy but in a more robust production format.

The test has been developed from research performed in the laboratories of Professor Mike Ferguson at Dundee and Professor Mark Carrington at Cambridge, with device prototyping done at BBI Solutions in the Dundee Technology Park.

“This is a terrible disease that causes character disintegration, psychological deterioration followed by coma and death, and current treatments are far from ideal,” said Professor Carrington.

“The World Health Organisation’s goal is to eliminate HAT and rapid and accurate diagnosis is essential to achieving this objective. It is extremely encouraging for us as researchers to see our work now being deployed in the field where it can make a real difference to people.”

The work at Dundee and Cambridge was supported through separate funding streams from the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Both the Dundee and Cambridge labs were supported by the Wellcome Trust at the time the research was done, and much of the work was performed by Dr Lauren Sullivan, MRC PhD student and then MRC Centenary fellow between 2008 and 2013, and Dr Mandy Crow, MRC PhD student between 2000 and 2004.

Professor Ferguson said, “Sometimes impactful work comes from side-projects where one synthesises funding streams, in this case from the MRC and the Wellcome Trust, and works across institutions and with industrial partners to do something more speculative or applied. The science underpinning this new diagnostic device is a good case in point.”

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Announcing 2017-2019 Next Einstein Forum Fellows, Africa’s top scientists solving global challenges
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
KIGALI, Rwanda, 12 September 2017 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) today announces its second Fellows Class, 16 scientists, all under 42 years of age, who are solving Africa’s and the world’s challenges. An initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the NEF will hold its second global forum for science in Kigali, Rwanda, under the patronage of H.E. President Paul Kagame.

Central to the NEF’s vision of propelling Africa onto the global scientific stage, the NEF Fellows will present their groundbreaking research at the NEF Global Gathering 2018, to be held on 26-28 March 2018, and help craft an exciting, high impact forum.

“Two years ago it was my great honor to announce the inaugural Fellows Class. Today again, I am excited to announce a brilliant NEF Fellows Class. The selected Fellows, six of whom are women, are doing cutting edge research in renewable energy, nanomaterials and nanotechnology, food security, regenerative medicine, cognitive systems related to fintech, cosmology, seismology etc. Beyond just theoretical research, our Fellows have developed impressive technologies from their research. We strongly believe their discoveries and initiatives, current and future, will solve global challenges in health, energy, climate change, education, agriculture to name a few,” said Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS and Chairman of the NEF.

NEF Fellows are selected by a prestigious Scientific Programme Committee using a rigorous process that looks at academic and scientific qualifications including a strong publication record, patents, awards, and independently raised funds for research. Fellows also have to demonstrate the relevance and impact of their research/innovations to society as well as a passion for raising Africa’s scientific profile and inspiring the next generation of scientific leaders.

“I would like to thank the first Fellows Class who have used their tenure to publish high impact research, multiply collaborations among young researchers globally and mentor the next generation. Their active participation in crafting the program has improved the Fellows Programme. Together with this new Fellows’ class, they join the newly launched NEF Community of Scientists, an exclusive network that offers members opportunities for consulting, grants, research collaborations, speaking opportunities and career mentorship. In return, members will participate in national and continental policy formulation, cross-cutting research and innovation activities, lead public engagement around science and technology in Africa, and provide mentorship to early-career scientists and students,” said Mr. Zomahoun.

Meet the 2017-2019 NEF Fellows:

Dr. Vinet Coetzee (South Africa) is working on affordable and non-invasive methods to screen children for nutrient deficiencies and inborn conditions, by training computer models to recognise the links between physical features and these conditions. For instance, Vinet’s team developed an affordable 3D camera at one tenth of the price of comparable commercial systems.

Dr. Abdigani Diriye (Somalia) is developing, together with his team at IBM Research Africa, new approaches to mine, model and score people, identifying the right amount of credit and appropriate products. Last year, they developed a machine learning approach that leverages new data sources (mobile phone behavior) to evaluate the financial profile and credit score of millions of people in East Africa.

Dr. Kevin Dzobo (Zimbabwe) is leading an inter-university collaboration between ICGEB/University of Cape and the University of Pretoria on developing a ‘stem cell-ECM’ bandage or patch which when fully developed can be used on injured tissue.

Dr. Jonathan Esole (DRC) introduced, while at Harvard University, a new topological invariant known as the orientifold Euler characteristic, which is now used daily by physicists working in F-theory. Jonathan also solved problems in supergravity open for more than twenty years.

Dr. Yabebal Fantaye (Ethiopia) investigates the statistical properties of the Universe using the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) data from the Planck satellite. More practically, his research focuses on developing machine learning and other advanced statistical methods for harnessing the African GIS and social Big Data for extracting actionable insights to help Africa meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Aminta Garba (Niger) is interested in finding key policies, technologies and applications relevant to the development of ICT, particularly in rural and underserved areas. As well, she is interested in methods that allow increasing the data rate of communication systems by shaping and reducing the interference.

Dr. Mamadou Kaba (Guinea) research projects led to better understanding of the risks of transmission of hepatitis E virus (HEV) from animals to humans. He is currently conducting a prospective longitudinal study on how the composition of the respiratory tract and gastrointestinal microbial communities (microbiota) influences the development of respiratory diseases in African children.

Dr. Rym Kefi (Tunisia) is mainly involved in research on human genetic disorders, genetic diversity in North Africa and the impact of consanguinity on health. As well, she is strengthening research on ancient DNA and providing genetic profiling for paternity tests and human forensic identification at Institut Pasteur de Tunis.

Dr. Aku Kwamie’s (Ghana) research is in the area of health system governance, looking at how and where within health systems decisions get made, applying complexity theory to issues of management and leadership, accountability and organizational innovation.

Dr. Justus Masa (Uganda) leads several research projects in the field of electrocatalysis and energy conversion, focused on the development of advanced low-cost catalysts and electrode materials for electrochemical energy systems, including fuel cells, electrolyzers (power to gas energy conversion), rechargeable metal-air batteries and other modern battery systems.

Dr. Sanushka Naidoo (South Africa) is dedicated to plant defense in the forest species, with an emphasis on Eucalyptus. Her research is focusing on mechanisms that can confer broad-spectrum, long lasting resistance by dissecting gene families and responses to pests and pathogens.

Dr. Maha Nasr (Egypt) focuses on advanced technologies such as nanotechnology based drug carriers and composite delivery systems. She is currently investigating the possibility of creation of novel carriers for treatment of diseases, mainly cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Sidy Ndao’s (Senegal) research group has recently developed the world’s first high temperature thermal rectifier, a building block for future High Temperature Thermal Memory and Logic Devices, i.e., thermal computer. He is also the founder of the Pan-African Robotics Competition.

Dr. Peter Ngene (Nigeria) developed a strategy which is now widely used to make complex hydride nanocomposite materials for reversible hydrogen storage applications and solid-state electrolytes for rechargeable batteries. He has also developed inexpensive eye-readable hydrogen sensors for the diagnosis of lactose intolerance via hydrogen breath test.

Dr. Tolulope Olugboji (Nigeria) builds sophisticated computer models and designs novel remote sub-surface imaging techniques to improve the understanding of the architecture and composition of the solid Earth interior.

Dr. Hamidou Tembine’s (Mali) research investigates game theory and aims to contribute significantly to existing knowledge on the interactive decision-making problems with incomplete information, and in the presence of self-regarding, other-regarding, altruistic, spiteful, risk-sensitive, and irrational agents.

Launched in 2013, the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The NEF is a platform that connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world – with the goal to leverage science for human development globally. The NEF believes that Africa’s contributions to the global scientific community are critical for global progress. At the centre of NEF efforts are Africa’s young people, the driving force for Africa’s scientific renaissance. The NEF is a unique youth-driven forum. At our headline biennial scientific events, 50% of participants are 42 or younger. Far from being an ordinary science forum, the NEF Global Gatherings position science at the centre of global development efforts. The next NEF Global Gathering will be held on 26-28 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. In addition, through our Communities of Scientists, we showcase the contributions of Africa’s brilliant youth to Africa’s scientific emergence through its class of NEF Fellows, who are Africa’s top scientists and technologists under the age of 42, and NEF Ambassadors, who are the NEF’s 54 science and technology ambassadors on the ground.The NEF is also working together with partners such as the African Academy of Sciences, Ministers’ of Education, Science and Research across Africa, foundations and other global scientific and private sector companies, to build an African scientific identity. By bringing together key stakeholders, the NEF hopes to drive the discussion from policy to implementation by leveraging buy in and best practice results from Africa and the world. Have a look at our benchmark Dakar Declaration.

Dr. Kevin Dzobo (Zimbabwe)

Dr. Kevin Dzobo (Zimbabwe)

Finally, the NEF is telling untold stories of scientific research and innovation across the continent through our various platforms. We want to recalibrate what ‘innovation’ means in Africa. We want to make the link between science and technology, even basic sciences, to everyday life. We want the public involved in science and we have recently concluded the first coordinated Africa Science Week – an annual three to five day celebration of science and technology through coordinated science events across the continent. We believe the next Einstein will be African.

The NEF has been endorsed by the African Union Commission, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Governments of Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa, the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and a growing number of private sector and civil society partners from across the world who are passionate about positioning Africa’s scientific community as an influential member in the global scientific community, which will ensure sustainable human development in Africa and other parts of the world.

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South Africa’s Ramaphosa steps up criticism ahead of AMC leadership vote
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ed Stoddard*
FILE PHOTO: South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa greets security personnel at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017 meeting in Durban, South Africa, May 5, 2017. Picture taken May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Rogan Ward/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa greets security personnel at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017 meeting in Durban, South Africa, May 5, 2017. Picture taken May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Rogan Ward/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a leading contender to become head of the ruling ANC in December, stepped up his criticism of the government on Sunday, saying state-owned companies had been “captured” and funds looted from them.

Ramaphosa’s remarks during a speech to an African National Congress meeting in the old diamond-mining town of Kimberley were tougher than others he has made on government graft, signaling the issue will be a main theme of his campaign.

He also took aim — without naming them – at the wealthy Gupta family, friends of President Jacob Zuma who have been accused of using undue influence to win lucrative state contracts. Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.

“Many of these state-owned enterprises have been captured by certain people, by a certain family,” Ramaphosa said.

“All of our state-owned enterprises have been captured and we are saying we want to see an end to state capture and the money that has been stolen, we want it back,” he said, to roars of approval from the audience.

South Africa’s top prosecutor said on Wednesday police were examining a trove of leaked documents detailing relations between the Guptas and Zuma, but it was too early to say if a prosecution should be launched.

Ramaphosa said in May that South Africa was in danger of becoming a “mafia state” and he took a swipe in July at the Guptas over media reports that state funds were diverted in 2013 to pay for a lavish Gupta family wedding.

But Sunday’s remarks about a “certain family” were more pointed and come as the race heats up for the ANC’s top spot. The next head of the party, who will be selected in December, will be its presidential candidate in 2019 national elections.

Ramaphosa’s main challenger, veteran politician and Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, will next week be sworn in as a member of parliament, a move which could see the former minister brought back into the cabinet, raising her profile.

Analysts say she has the backing of Zuma’s well-established patronage network as well as organisations such as the party’s Women’s League.

Ramaphosa is a trade unionist-turned-business tycoon who has the backing of a diverse group of unions, communists and investors who do not always see eye to eye but want to rid the ANC of Zuma’s influence and legacy.

The oppositon has long accused Zuma of sleaze and influence-peddling while in office. He survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Aug. 8 but 30 ANC lawmakers voted with the opposition, indicating deep divisions in the party that has dominated South African politics since the end of apartheid in 1994.

*Reuters

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Zimbabwe’s Grace Mugabe says model attacked her with knife
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ed Cropley*
Gabriella Engels, who claims to have been assaulted by Grace Mugabe, arrives for a news conference in Pretoria, South Africa, August 17, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Gabriella Engels, who claims to have been assaulted by Grace Mugabe, arrives for a news conference in Pretoria, South Africa, August 17, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe, has denied assaulting South African model Gabriella Engels with an electric cable in a Johannesburg hotel suite last month, saying an “intoxicated and unhinged” Engels attacked her with a knife.

In a previously unreported Aug. 17 deposition seen exclusively by Reuters, Mugabe countered 20-year-old Engels’ version, portraying herself as the victim after intervening on behalf of her adult sons Chatunga and Robert Junior who were “in trouble with a drunken young woman”.

The statement said Grace Mugabe, 52 and a contender to replace her 93-year-old husband as Zimbabwe’s president, was thinking about filing attempted murder charges.

A group representing Engels dismissed the allegations as lies. According to the model, an irate Mugabe burst into the room where she was waiting with two friends to meet Chatunga on Aug. 13 and started laying into her with an electric cable.

Photographs taken by Engels’ mother soon after the incident showed gashes to the model’s head. She also had bruising on her thighs.

In her deposition, Mugabe dismissed Engels’ version as “malicious allegations” and said she had been attacked after going to help her sons.

“She was worried about them and went to see them at their hotel suite,” the statement said. “Upon her arrival, Ms Engels, who was intoxicated and unhinged, attacked Dr. Grace Mugabe with a knife after she was asked to leave the hotel.”

“Security was left with no other option but to remove Ms Engels from the hotel suite,” it continued.

The statement also alleged that Engels had been in a fight with other women at Johannesburg’s Taboo nightclub the previous evening and suggested that may have been the cause of her injuries.

Afriforum, an Afrikaans civil society group acting on behalf of Engels, denied both accusations.

“Gabriella never attacked Grace Mugabe in any way and she did not participate in the fight at Taboo,” Afriforum said.

“It is clear that Grace Mugabe is desperately trying to escape responsibility for her own violent behaviour by using lies to falsely portray the victim in this case as the perpetrator.”

South Africa granted Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity, allowing her to evade immediate prosecution for assault, although Engels and Afriforum have challenged that decision, saying Mugabe was not in South Africa on official business.

They also argued that assault was a “grave crime” that was not covered by diplomatic immunity laws.

The decision to let Grace Mugabe return home caused a row in South Africa, with the opposition Democratic Alliance also going to court to overturn the immunity.

“EMBARRASSMENT”

According to Zimbabwean intelligence files seen by Reuters, Robert Mugabe lobbied his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, to have the issue “solved amicably” and out of court but was stymied by Engels’ refusal to accept a settlement.

“He is trying to avoid the embarrassment of his wife appearing before the court,” one file, dated Aug. 30, reads.

“The problem he is facing is that the woman who was assaulted is refusing to accept any money and she just wants justice to be delivered upon Grace.”

Afriforum lawyer Gerrie Nel – best known for prosecuting South African track star Oscar Pistorius over the shooting of his girlfriend – said last month Engels had been approached with a cash offer but had turned it down.

The intelligence report is a part of a series of hundreds of files dating back to 2009 that have come from within Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). Reuters has not been able to establish their original author or final audience.

The Aug. 30 report said Mugabe was “changing his attitude” to the case and was now backing Grace while accusing Engels of impropriety.

“Mugabe wants people to stop castigating his wife and calling her all sorts of names,” it said. “Mugabe is saying that his wife acted in an angry mood like all other women who find their children being involved with sleeping with whores.”

Afriforum chief executive Kallie Kriel said this allegation was an “absolute lie” and part of a deliberate attempt by Harare to undermine Engels’ credibility as a witness.

A spokesman for Zimbabwe’s presidency, which has direct oversight of the CIO, was not immediately available for comment. Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa did not respond to a request for comment.

Zuma has denied any hand in the affair, telling parliament on Aug. 31: “I am not a lawyer. I don’t know the point of law and I was not involved in this process. How it was done, I would be lying if I speculate.” His spokesman declined to elaborate.

*Reuters

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With new Managing Director, Ghana’s MEST scales as Pan-African incubator
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Jake Bright*

The MEST incubator has appointed Aaron Fu as its new Managing Director. This comes as the Accra based innovation hub scales up its presence across Africa.

Founded in 2008, MEST operates as a training program and seed fund for African innovators to build successful commercial tech companies.

Fu takes the helm after two years as Managing Partner at early stage VC firm Nest. He also co-founded Metta Kenya, a Nest backed space in Nairobi for tech entrepreneurs and investors. Interim MEST MD Katie Sarro will shift to Head of Partnerships and Fundraising.

Fu plans to focus on the incubator’s continued expansion. “A very big part of that is figuring out what elements we’ve rolled out in Accra that will scale to the rest of the market,” he told TechCrunch. “As the organization transitions to becoming a multi-country entity, there’s going to be some organizational changes…to make sure MEST’s impact also scales.”

The incubator currently has offices or on ground presence in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. It actively recruits in those countries and Cote d’Ivoire. MEST is in the process of opening physical incubator spaces in multiple countries.

“We want to connect our…startups to markets, resources customers, and teams from all across Africa to make their dream of building truly pan African companies a reality,” said Fu.

MEST’s expansion comes as Africa has seen its innovation spaces grow from a handful, less than a decade ago, to over 300, by a recent GSMA tally. Many of those hubs have been shifting away from singular market focus and an over reliance on grant funding toward broader reach and more revenue from investment related activities. This year Kenya’s iHub launched its own startup fund. Nigeria’s CCHub recently launched its Diaspora Challenge to tap talent and investment outside the country.

Funded primarily by Jorn Lyseggen’s Meltwater Foundation, MEST is also transitioning toward more investment activities. Its seed fund has supported several companies that went on to raise outside capital and two―Claimsyncand messaging app Saya―have been acquired. MEST’s new MD confirmed the incubator plans to launch a VC firm in the near future, though could not provide an exact timeline.

Fu sees a broader benefit to Africa’s tech sector from MEST’s expansion. “We’d like to connect all these smaller, vibrant ecosystems across the continent to present one unified ecosystem,” he said.

And on MEST’s commitment to commercial startups. “We definitely believe in building businesses not apps,” Fu said. “By doing that you create the hero figures to inspire the next generation. That inspires capital to be unlocked across the world to invest in African tech.”

 *Tech Crunch/Yahoo

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South Africa to Extend Residency Permits for Some Zimbabwean Migrants
September 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Thuso Khumalo*

FILE - Illegal Zimbabwean immigrants who work as farm laborers are seen inside their room on a farm near the Beitbridge border post, between South Africa and Zimbabwe, in the Limpopo Province, in March 2006.

FILE – Illegal Zimbabwean immigrants who work as farm laborers are seen inside their room on a farm near the Beitbridge border post, between South Africa and Zimbabwe, in the Limpopo Province, in March 2006.

South Africa has extended the residency permits for nearly 200,000 Zimbabwean economic migrants by four years. Their current permits were set to expire December 31, which had raised fears of mass deportations.

Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize said the government is extending the permits due to worsening economic conditions in Zimbabwe. She stressed that these are one-time extensions, not a path to permanent residency.

“I trust that [this] will go a long way in assisting the Zimbabweans to rebuild their lives as they prepare at work, in business and in educational institutions for their final return to their sovereign state Zimbabwe in the near future,” she said.

As many as 1.5 million Zimbabweans have migrated to South Africa in recent years, seeking to escape Zimbabwe’s chronically struggling economy.

FILE - Zimbabweans fill out application forms outside immigration offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 31, 2010.

FILE – Zimbabweans fill out application forms outside immigration offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 31, 2010.

The extended residency permits are available only to the nearly 200,000 Zimbabweans who were granted amnesty in 2010. Those who are eligible must show proof they have a job.

Still, many Zimbabwean migrants are breathing a sigh of relief. Economic conditions back home have left many of their families dependent on the remittances they send.

“We had hoped, though, that the minister was [also] going to include those undocumented Zimbabweans that are working in South Africa,” said Ngqabutho Mabhena, chairman of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa organization. “But at the same time, we welcome this statement. We are calling on all holders of Zimbabwe special permit, to apply within the time set by the minister.”

Relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa have dipped in recent weeks due to unrelated issues. Pretoria’s decision to grant Zimbabwe’s first lady diplomatic immunity after her alleged assault of a woman while in Johannesburg is being challenged in a South African court.

And this week, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe publicly attacked the late Nelson Mandela for presiding over a reconciliation process that Mugabe criticized as leaving whites still dominating the economy. Mugabe’s statements have drawn anger from South Africa’s ruling ANC party.

*VOA

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South Africa to host aviation safety conference
September 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire
The 13th Ergonomics Society of South Africa Conference 3rd African
Symposium on human factors and aviation Safety conference under the
theme: “From reactive to proactive in safety and human factors” will
be held on 13 to 15 September 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa

It is reported that from the informal economy workers in rural
Eastern Cape South Africa
to the bustling runways of OR Tambo international airport, there are
many elements of the complex systems that may compromise safety at
work.

It is added that through the application of human factors and ergonomics
principles, incompatibilities within work systems can be better
understood, thus enabling the development of proactive rather than
reactive measures to improve human well-being and performance at work.

The conferences will be hosted by Air Traffic and Navigation Services
(ATNS) in partnership with the Ergonomics Society of South Africa,
University of the Witwatersrand, Rhodes
University, and the University of Pretoria and sponsored by ATNS,
COMAIR and the Rail Safety Regulator of South Africa.

Attendance is expected from academics, students, government
representatives, and industry
professionals from the ergonomics, human factors, aviation safety,
transport, mining, and healthcare industries.

‘This year we are also intending to spread our wings further afield
from South Africa and to
attract people from countries across the African continent,” a
spokesperson said.

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Southern African countries urged to put in place early warning systems to counter emerging new pests and diseases
September 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Chimimba David Phiri, Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa for the Food and Agriculture Organization

Chimimba David Phiri, Subregional Coordinator for
Southern Africa for the Food and Agriculture Organization

Countries in southern Africa and the entire sub-Saharan region have
been urged to have early warning or alert systems that are fully
functional to enable policy makers to take quick action and trigger
timely and appropriate responses, based on accurate and timely
information in the midst of perennial emergence of new pests and
disease.

According to Chimimba David Phiri, Subregional Coordinator for
Southern Africa for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations and Moetapele Letshwenyo, Subregional Representative
for Southern Africa for the World Organisation for Animal Health, the
recent emergence of HPAI, as well as that of the fall armyworm late
last year through to 2017, have revealed that most countries do not
have updated contingency plans.

“The perennial emergence of new pests and diseases is another strong
call for updating of contingency plans at national and regional level.
It is also important to review legal frameworks, strengthen regional
coordination and in-country collaboration among sectors, and to ensure
that national contingency plans are harmonized and aligned to the SADC
regional HPAI control strategy,” the experts say.

They add that Avian Influenza is a virus of birds causing illness
and death not only in domesticated birds, but also in wild birds. When
an outbreak occurs, it becomes difficult to contain as it spreads
rapidly through poultry flocks. Avian influenza can spread through
direct contact between susceptible and infected birds, or contact with
their secretions and excretions such as respiratory discharges or
faeces. The disease can also spread through contaminated feed,
equipment, clothing and footwear.

“It attacks both free-range family poultry and intensively reared
birds on large-scale commercial production sites with the same lethal
results. As such, its emergence for the first time within the region
should jerk all stakeholders into collective action, as it also knows
no national borders,” the experts have said.
It is also reported that commercial producers are particularly
affected as they bear the brunt of the economic losses that are likely
to obtain.

They however add that the impacts are far reaching as the
commercial poultry industry provides employment and supplies day old
chicks to smallholder poultry keepers, most table eggs and poultry
meat. As such, any shock to this industry would have far reaching
consequences including job losses, shortages of poultry food products
in the markets and food price increases.
They have also reported that the likelihood of new outbreaks of
Avian Influenza in the region remains high.

“However, producers can protect susceptible poultry flocks by
strengthening biosecurity measures and national authorities need to
strengthen preparedness and response capacities, controls and measures
put in place to monitor disease in poultry flocks and in wild bird
populations, and to ensure compliance with import and export
controls,” they say.

According to the experts, everyone, including consumers, should be
aware of the potential of avian influenza virus to cause disease and
death in domestic poultry, as well as how it can be transmitted. Some
strains of the Avian Influenza virus are reported to have the
potential to become infectious to humans although the H5N8 Virus
currently reported in Southern Africa has not been known to affect
human health.

“It is of paramount importance to always adhere to the advice,
instructions and precautions issued by the competent authorities,”
according to the experts

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South Africa’s Ruling ANC Limps Toward Choosing New Leader
September 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
Party delegates sing during their policy conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, June 30, 2017. South Africa's divided ruling party is holding a major policy conference amid disputes over President Jacob Zuma, whose scandal-ridden tenure has prompted calls for his resignation from some of his former supporters. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Party delegates sing during their policy conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, June 30, 2017. South Africa’s divided ruling party is holding a major policy conference amid disputes over President Jacob Zuma, whose scandal-ridden tenure has prompted calls for his resignation from some of his former supporters. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is fending off fresh crises as the bitter fight for control of the former liberation party grows before President Jacob Zuma steps down as party leader in December.

A racially divisive public relations campaign, sexual allegations against the deputy president and what appears to be a political assassination highlight the struggle for power within Nelson Mandela’s storied movement.

“It’s a really tense time for the ANC,” said Daniel Silke, an independent political analyst. The scandals are a testament to the ANC’s instability as it gets ready to select a new leader at its conference in December, he said.

South Africa’s economy has suffered from the party’s turmoil, dipping briefly into recession in recent months while aftershocks continue from Zuma’s firing of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan earlier this year.

Last week British public relations firm Bell Pottinger was expelled from a U.K. industry body over a campaign it ran in South Africa to stir up racial tensions to benefit a company owned by the Guptas, a wealthy Indian immigrant business family with ties to Zuma.

Zuma’s relationship with the Gupta family has become a key source of conflict within the ANC, particularly after local media published a series of leaked emails allegedly showing how the family used its proximity to the president to influence government and state companies.

The Guptas and Zuma have denied the allegations, but ANC leaders have pledged to purge the government of what is called the capture of the state by the business family, a thinly veiled criticism of the president.

And then there are the allegations of sexual shenanigans by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Last week, South African newspaper the Sunday Independent published a report saying it had viewed emails “linking” Ramaphosa, widely seen as the ANC presidential hopeful for the party’s “anti-Zuma” camp, to several extramarital affairs. Ramaphosa, who has denied elements of the report, chalked it up as part of the larger “dirty war” and disinformation campaign aimed at ANC members who have taken a stand against corruption.

The other front-runner to lead the ANC is Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is widely seen as having the president’s support. Whoever leads the party ahead of 2019 elections likely will become South Africa’s next president.

Separately, the ANC mourned the death this month of Sindiso Magaqa, a former party youth leader in KwaZulu-Natal province who was shot in July and was seen as the latest casualty in a series of killings of ANC members there. Observers say the political assassinations in the longtime ANC stronghold have been fueled by party divisions.

“The fight starts at the lowest level,” said Mcebisi Ndletyana, an associate professor at the University of Johannesburg. “It creates instability and robs them of good leaders at municipalities” and makes the ANC look bad, he said.

South Africa’s opposition parties have seized on the turbulence in the ruling party, which has been in power since the country’s first all-race elections in 1994. Although the largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has gained ground and won key municipalities including Johannesburg and Pretoria in last year’s elections, many expect the ANC to retain its national majority in two years’ time.

Last month, dozens of ANC lawmakers voted in favor of ousting Zuma in a parliamentary vote of no confidence, that was held by secret ballot. The motion failed, as have several no-confidence attempts before it, but the larger-than-expected number of defections from the ANC successfully highlighted the deep divisions in the party.

The ANC has slammed the opposition’s actions as distractions from the work of running the country, saying they demonstrate a lack of respect for citizens who voted in the current government.

South Africans, meanwhile, are bracing for more revelations ahead of the ANC’s meeting in December. The scene is all too familiar, said William Bird, director of Media Monitoring Africa.

“The blows have been raining down on us for so long,” Bird said. It’s gotten to the point “where we’re grateful for a gentle slap.”

*VOA

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Tony Elumelu: why Africapitalists will build a continent’s future
September 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Tony O. Elumelu*

Tony O. Elumelu

Tony O. Elumelu

Africa is not a single country but a continent, one that is a place of real business opportunity that the world should be alive to. I know, having built businesses that now operate in 20 African countries and through creating a programme over 10 years that is funding and mentoring 10,000 African entrepreneurs.

I have witnessed first hand the infectious enthusiasm of African entrepreneurs, and my businesses demonstrate the potential of Africa if you invest for the long term and act strategically. In 1997, I had a vision of democratising African banking, seeing financial services not only as a vehicle for financial inclusion, but as a critical enabler of cross-border trade and value creation on the African continent.

Diverging fortunes

Since the end of the commodity supercycle, growth paths in Africa have diverged. Oil-exporting countries, such as Algeria and Angola, and non-energy mineral exporters, including Botswana and Zambia, have experienced substantially weakened growth. Economic giants Nigeria and South Africa have entered recession. However, economies not based on commodities have continued to demonstrate robust expansion. Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania enjoy gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates of 6% and above.

This diversity teaches us the important lesson that Africa should not be treated as a single economic unit and also shows how governments must create the enabling environment that will allow the private sector to act as the engine of economic and social growth.

The economic progress of the latter countries is unsurprising. Their growth is a result of patient investment in infrastructure to grow the real sector of the economy, and a sustained focus on institutionalising that enabling environment – with business incentives, transparency, safety and policy stability – to allow the private sector to flourish. These factors foster the growth of local value creation, which resolves Africa’s historical over-reliance on raw material and commodity exports that leave their economies susceptible to cyclical boom and bust.

In 2015, Ethiopia launched a light rail project in Addis Ababa, the first metro service in sub-Saharan Africa. As it is now building a $5bn Grand Renaissance dam with a generation capacity of 6000 megawatts and a projected $1bn in revenues from electricity sales, the World Bank recently named it as the world’s fastest growing country. Ethiopia’s big investments in infrastructure have resulted in pay-offs, including double-digit economic growth (averaging 10.8% since 2005).

Tanzania has also made significant investments in infrastructure – particularly in power – strengthening its manufacturing and construction sectors. Construction alone accounted for 13.6% of GDP in 2015, further fuelled by investments in transport and port developments.

The diversity of economic outcomes on the continent illustrates my belief that three interdependent ‘pillars’ for economic and job growth are required: policy reform and a commitment to the rule of law; investment in infrastructure; and a commitment to developing Africa’s manufacturing and processing industries. All three pillars reinforce each other, help to unleash the African private sector and increase both foreign and local investment.

Private sector importance

I firmly believe that only a developed and well-capacitated private sector can unlock economic prosperity and widespread opportunity in Africa. To advance bottom-up economic development, and create jobs and employment for Africa’s exploding population, the private sector must flourish, with a focus on supporting entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). After all, governments and corporates alone cannot create the millions of jobs that the continent desperately needs; only small businesses can.

The best-performing countries on the continent are those that have keenly supported entrepreneurship and enhanced the business climate. The Rwanda Development Board, created to boost entrepreneurship and grow the private sector, has been effective in increasing investor interest in the country. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report now ranks Rwanda second in Africa, as a result of its reforms that have reduced administrative and operating costs for all businesses via streamlined licensing and permitting processes; reduced tariffs; and ease in registering a new business, accessing credit and paying taxes.

In Côte d’Ivoire, improvements to the business environment continue to attract investment. For example, a reduction in government bureaucracy now allows new businesses to be registered within 24 hours. Tax waivers, exemptions and a 40% cut in custom duties have spurred new investments. The Mauritian government has launched an ambitious SME scheme backed by a bank focused on SMEs with a capitalisation of Rs10bn ($751.6m) over the next five years. The goal is to become a “nation of entrepreneurs”.

It is encouraging to see Africa’s public sector recognise that Africa’s future will be determined not simply by economic growth, but by how successful we are in creating accessible pathways to economic prosperity for all Africans everywhere. It is in those communities where opportunities are the most scarce that social issues are most prevalent. Given the recent commodity crash and subsequent shortfalls in government budgets across the continent, these massive investments in infrastructure and structures to support entrepreneurs may be unfeasible. This calls for a new approach to development assistance.

Partners for the long term

Development partners must be willing to: work side by side with African countries to invest for the long term in critical sectors of the economy such as manufacturing and processing; lend technical support in policy conceptualisation; and finance infrastructure projects such as ports and roads – efforts that will create broad-based prosperity. Assistance in this manner will radically transform the economy and launch it on the path of sustainable development.

In mid-June, German chancellor Angela Merkel met African leaders ahead of the July G20 summit to discuss the ‘Compact with Africa’, an initiative to boost private investment in Africa, improve infrastructure and tackle unemployment. Emphasising the importance of this different style of partnership, Ms Merkel said: “Positive development in the world will not work unless all continents participate. We need an initiative that does not talk about Africa, but with Africa.” This has been backed up by €300m agreement with Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana as part of the recently announced Marshall plan.

Germany’s Marshall plan for Africa seeks to support the continent in areas of economic activity, trade and development; peace and security; and democracy, the rule of law and human rights. It is hoped that the plan will accelerate the growth of the African private sector – including entrepreneurs – to make companies more competitive, and to enhance their ability to scale and create formal wage-earning jobs. It also strives to bridge Africa’s $93bn-a-year infrastructure deficit, the major roadblock in its path to prosperity.

I support this reimagined and innovative approach to development. I applaud the well-meaning plans to forge stronger trading ties and cross-border commercial relationships, to support African entrepreneurs, to commit to more technical and knowledge support programmes. Above all, I commend this recognition – though belated – of Africans as befitting partners, capable of working alongside Western governments and corporates to generate new wealth opportunities on the continent.

For me, this goes beyond mere talk. The Tony Elumelu Foundation has committed $100m to support African entrepreneurs, based on our belief in their potential and capacity to develop homegrown solutions to solve the continent’s seemingly intractable economic problems.

My passion for entrepreneurship is rooted in the economic philosophy of ‘Africapitalism’, a term that I coined to emphasise the role Africa’s private sector must play in the socioeconomic transformation of our continent. Africapitalism calls on the private sector – including African entrepreneurs – to make long-term investments in strategic sectors to create both economic profit and social prosperity.

To empower African entrepreneurs to take on this responsibility to transform Africa, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has committed $100m over the next 10 years to funding, mentoring and training 10,000 entrepreneurs whose businesses will create 1 million jobs and generate $10bn dollars in revenue.

An alternative capitalism

At the heart of Africapitalism is the recognition that the private sector is the main driver of growth in any economy. This confers on businesses a critical responsibility and a commitment to prioritise not economic profits alone but social wealth and broad-based prosperity. Africapitalism advocates the need to enable the private sector to take on a more active role in addressing economic imbalances in society. It improves upon the traditional model of capitalism that centres on extractive short-term gains and instead promotes a refined approach that invests for the long term in strategic sectors for both economic and social wealth.

Africapitalism puts people first and identifies entrepreneurship as the solution to Africa’s biggest threats: unemployment and lack of economic hope. Africapitalism advocates for the empowerment of entrepreneurs to enhance job creation. Only small businesses – not governments, not corporates – can create the millions of jobs needed to leverage our youth demographic dividend to guarantee an economic transformation.

The significant political and economic changes today – the backlash against globalisation, anxiety over lost jobs, political upheavals, deepening inequality – reinforce the urgency around rethinking capitalism as historically practised. Africapitalism offers a compelling alternative to modern-day capitalism, and when embraced will douse societal tensions, create new social wealth, inspire renewed public confidence in business, and make our world much fairer. Businesses will be the better for it as bottom lines benefit when there is peace, stability and prosperity.

It is true that Africa needs partners, but more critically, we need Africapitalist partners.

*This article was originally published on The Banker.Tony Elumelu is Chairman at Heirs Holdings.

 

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dotAfrica (.africa) the best option for Africa in cyberspace
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 7, 2017/ — It is now possible to own an Internet address, or domain name, ending with .africa.

Already, more than 8000 of the continent’s and world’s biggest brands, businesses and individuals have registered for this exciting new Internet address.

Diverse organisations ranging from banks to media companies are registering .africa domain names. “Leading continental and international brands are snapping up .africa domain names because they recognise the importance of being associated with Africa’s bright future online. With many positive stories coming out of Africa, brands understand that .africa domain names are valuable virtual real estate,” says Lucky Masilela, CEO of the ZACR, the non-profit company tasked with administering the new .africa domain name on behalf of the continent.

54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s. These written resolutions stated that ICT will be central to Africa’s future wellbeing and .africa is surely amongst the top African-led ICT initiatives of the last twenty years.

“Initiatives like .africa help harness the power of new technologies to solve old problems. .africa is unique in that it gives Africans an important sense of pride to help motivate them to achieve the very best for their continent and themselves. ZACR appeals to all Africans to take ownership of .africa, because it truly belongs to us all,” concludes Masilela.

.africa domain names are now available and anyone can register through companies listed here: http://Registry.Africa/registrars

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