Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) aiming to become Africa’s premier think tank, Vera Songwe tells African Ambassadors
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
Speaking at a retreat of African permanent representatives based in Addis Ababa, Ms. Songwe said most African countries were facing similar issues in an ever-more challenging global context
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, October 18, 2018/ — The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is working hard to ensure it becomes a premier think tank that Africa can rely on to address some of its social, economic and environmental challenges, Executive Secretary Vera Songwe said, Wednesday.
Speaking at a retreat of African permanent representatives based in Addis Ababa, Ms. Songwe said most African countries were facing similar issues in an ever-more challenging global context.
ECA, working with member States through engagement and practical application of quality research and evidence generated through the organization’s work, can offer solutions to accelerate the achievement of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda.
“ECA should be your door to the best policy advice. And if we don’t have the knowledge in-house we have the capacity to bring the best of the world to you,” she told the Ambassadors. “We want to be your partners in building a prosperous Africa.”
In addition, the Executive Secretary briefed the Ambassadors on the new strategic directions of the ECA, which are;
As part of the proposed reform agenda, the Executive Secretary plans to create a private sector division, focusing on the business environment with respect to energy, infrastructure services, financial sector and capital market development. In addition, the issues of poverty and inequality, as well as governance, will receive added attention in dedicated sections.
Ms. Songwe said the retreat was an opportunity for the ECA’s senior team to listen to the permanent representatives, build a stronger relationship between Addis and the member states and ensure that country and continental priorities were aligned and consistent with those of the African Union. “This retreat is the first of its kind, but we hope to build on it to ensure ECA delivers value to its member states and the AU,” she said.
For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Kwesi Quartey welcomed the meeting and said, “the conversation on how to collaborate is useful and helpful, and attention needs to be given to the origin of African states. Collaboration is a process that requires enlightening discussions on capacity building, investment and application of science and technology, education for every boy and girl, among others. It is great to know that we are on this process together,” he added.
Ms. Songwe said that with African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), there was momentum on the continent ‘that says that we as a continent are breaking borders and we need to work together’. She also briefed the Ambassadors on a number of issues, including the recent annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank that focused on financing for development.
Ambassador Woinshet Tadesse of Ethiopia, serving as Chair of the retreat and a member of the Bureau, delivered opening remarks.
“I am glad to take the role of the Chair and I would like to express my appreciation to the Executive Secretary and her team for organising the retreat. This is a good opportunity to know each other and build a shared understanding of the development dynamics in Africa and ECA’s response to Africa’s challenges. It also provides an opportunity to reach an agreed modality of engagements and work towards an intergovernmental structure that is effective,” she said.
The main agenda of the retreat was to discuss ways of improving the working relationship between the permanent representatives and the ECA. As an ice breaker a presentation on the review of the intergovernmental structures launched the discussions with the objective of collecting the feedback of permanent representatives on how the Commission’s intergovernmental structure and processes could be more effective and fit for purpose. Permanent representatives appreciated what they said was great work being done by the ECA but said more could be done to improve communication and collaboration between the Ambassadors, the ECA and the African Union Commission (AUC).
Permanent representatives offered a number of actions with responsibilities on both sides that will contribute to strengthened collaboration and coordination between the ECA and AUC as well as with their permanent missions. They welcomed the opportunities to take an active role in shaping the delivery of the Commission’s mandates and fostering a more accessible ECA that works in tandem with permanent representatives and their respective capitals.
It was agreed that the retreat should be an annual event at the least, allowing ECA and the permanent representatives to improve their engagement, foster better communication with the Africa Groups in New York, Brussels and Geneva particularly, and leverage the role of the permanent representatives in advocating the impact of ECA’s work at UN headquarters and globally.
As a demonstration of ECA’s reach and analytical work, permanent representatives were briefed on a digital identity initiative that ECA is embarking on to ensure every African has a legal identity. The briefing was done by ECA staff and Mr. Sanjay Jain who was the project manager for India’s famed Aadhaar program that helped to register over a billion people.
Ambassador Hope Tumukunde Gasatura of Rwanda and Chair of the African Union Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) thanked the ECA for organising the retreat.
“We are really appreciative and we are happy because it was educative, it was insightful and we have shared our understanding, thoughts and views on what we think the ECA should be doing and we learnt so much, especially how the ECA is working and what it is that we can come to them for. We will continue with the discourse,” she said.
The Rockefeller Foundation and EPIC-Africa launch the first African Civil Society Organization (CSO) Excellence Awards
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
|Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are awarded for excellence across eight (8) major elements of organizational capacity|
|DAKAR, Senegal, October 16, 2018/ — The Awards highlight the importance of organizational capacity for civil society organizations to achieve program impact. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are awarded for excellence across eight (8) major elements of organizational capacity. Applications for the African CSO Excellence Awards are now open
EPIC-Africa , with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation has today launched the call for applications for the first African CSO Excellence Awards . The Awards highlight the importance of organizational capacity to achieve program impact, and showcase civil society organizations who demonstrate excellence across eight key elements of organizational capacity: Strategic Ability and Adaptability, Leadership and Governance, Financial Health and Management, Human Resources and Staff Development, Operations, Communications, Partnerships and Alliances and Monitoring and Evaluation.
The awards are now open to civil society groups across Africa to apply for the opportunity to fundraise on the international GlobalGiving Platform, benefit from a series of capacity building workshops, increase their media visibility and participate in networking opportunities through the African CSO Excellence Awards community.
EPIC-Africa is at the forefront of the charge to strengthen the infrastructure that supports civil society organizations and to deepen philanthropic impact in Africa. Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Office said, “As a major development partner in Africa, it is imperative that we invest in initiatives that highlight the importance of organizational capacity for program impact. We are delighted to support EPIC-Africa in this innovative approach to map the pan-African CSO sector and showcase the highest standards of organizational excellence among CSOs in Africa. These awards will also expand the opportunity for increased partnerships among key organizations on the continent, for greater impact.”
Rose Maruru, co-founder of EPIC-Africa added, “We are pleased to launch these awards to showcase the EPIC work that CSOs are doing all across Africa and make the case for ever more support for organizational capacity. This will allow CSOs to continue to be catalysts for the transformational change that our continent needs.”
Africa has the youngest population in the world. According to the UNDP, by 2055, the continent’s youth population (aged 15-24), is expected to be more than double (http://bit.ly/2OtflLF) the 2015 total of 226 million.
Adwoa Agyeman, co-founder of EPIC-Africa commented that “Africa will be relying heavily on the CSO sector over the next few decades to truly maximize its demographic dividend.” She added that “it will take concerted effort around key areas such as education, healthcare, employability, governance and human rights to reshape the continent. We know that CSOs cannot fully deliver on Africa’s promise to its young people when they have, among others, financing, human resources, and communications challenges to deal with on a daily basis. We are committed therefore to highlighting those who are thriving despite difficult circumstances and to share their approaches so that others can also learn.”
The African CSO Excellence Awards are open until December 31, 2018. Candidates will be shortlisted between January and March 2019 with the final winners announced in April 2019.
EPIC-Africa (www.EPIC-Africa.org) seeks to enhance philanthropic impact by filling critical data and capacity gaps in the philanthropic market infrastructure in Africa. We envisage a vibrant philanthropic ecosystem with diverse, influential, sustainable African civil society groups at the center. EPIC-Africa contributes to this transformative vision by enabling: Greater visibility, increased resources, widespread communication, more diversified and steady funding, transparency, accountability and a resilient ecosystem.
About The Rockefeller Foundation:
For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s (www.RockefellerFoundation.org) mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today the Foundation is focused on securing the fundamentals of human well-being—health, food, power, and jobs—to ensure every family experiences dignity and opportunity in our rapidly urbanizing world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot—or will not.
European Union Solar Renewable Energy Project Scores A First As Zimbabwe Moves Towards A Go Green Environment…
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
Zimbabwe in its consented effort to bring Renewable Energy home has been supported by European Union, SNV which is Netherlands Development Corporation and Davani Trust to develop Solar Energy projects. . In a multi-facetted move to disseminate the outstanding Solar Energy Project, Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network and Practical Action conducted a Media Tour to news showcase the work so far done.
The Mashava Sustainable Solar Energy for Communities Project is located in Gwanda Matabeleland South 800 kilometers away from the capital city of Harare, Matabeleland South Province. It consists of 400 panels with each 255 watts .It generates 100 kilowatts of energy which supplies 3 Irrigation Schemes , Mangongoni , Sevasa and Rasta Gorge Irrigation , a clinic , Msendai Business Centre and Mashava .
An Expert in the field of Solar who works for Practical Action, Zibanai Kisimusi said the project is highly targeting 10,000 families around the area . However he said only a minimum number is at the moment utilizing the Energy resource because of the high costs in terms of payment.
‘’The challenge is that people in the areas surrounded are paying money in order for them to get the energy provision. However, it is a blessing to those at the school, clinic and some who can afford despite high costs.
‘’The cost of the renewable energy may sound high , but it’s not really high if we talk it in terms of energy utility for renewable energy support of the Green Energy for all . The high costs may be attributable to high standards of living.
‘’People in the area do farming along the Shashi and Thuli Rivers. This is their livelihood. This is Region 5 five, but they survive because of the Alluvial soils along the rivers . The soil is a bit fertile. They need water for sustainable Agriculture. The community has become livable particularly owing attention to Agricultural activities.’’
Mr Kisimisi said at the moment the community has means of survival because of the effort of these Humanitarian organizations which at first supplied energy for free. He pointed out that there is sustainability and livability in terms of Agriculture and food security because there are a total of 15 water pumps meant for the farming activities to move on well at the Gorge, Mangongoni and Sevasa schemes .
‘’Sustainability at the Centre of every development in terms of Agriculture is there yes because there are a total of 15 pumps , 8 hours supply . The Gorge has 41 farmers, Mangongoni 36 farmers and Sevasa 34 farmers,
‘’Sustainability’’, he reiterates, ‘’makes them be in a livable community. They are relying on both commercial crop farming and subsistence farming. They have better chances to feed the communities around the southern province.
‘’Livelihoods rely on this farming in support of this. However we call for more support though this may not completely do away poverty in the country. At list we reduce poverty and extreme hunger. As a country we move forward in success.
Professor Maria Tsvere a Lecturer in Sustainable Livelihoods at Chinhoyi University said it is a blessing to get donor funding done at the advantage of communities. However these people need training and input support in order for them to develop further. She also pointed that there is need for better models which practically must be put at the site,
‘’It is great work done by Donor Agencies. Poverty may be reduced and food security lifted up . Communities need training. Secondly, the need for better models at the site so that this sounds and looks practical.
‘’The kind of models spells out more on what the donor agency shows as an example on the ground pertaining what is being done and how best through practical demonstrations activities are done and what they bring as profit to the community .’’
Giving a conclusion, Mazibisa came back into the discussion cycle. He said at the moment there is no smart –climate Agriculture. This, he said is impossible because of the Irrigation Technologies. He indicated that there is Flooding in terms of the Irrigation systems. Also Non-Governmental Organizations capacitating communities on smart climate, mitigation and adaptation and sustainable Environment are not yet quite active in the area.
The project which started in 2015 is going down in 2019. It stood up at a cost of US 1 million dollars. However there are fears that this may become a failed project is planning, leading, organizing and controlling fails community people in terms of holistic and strategic management.
Zimbabwe’s Deeper Economic Impasse.Is There Need For Government Of National Unity ?
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
Zimbabwe continues to swim deeper into oblivion owing attention to current economic melt-down. All that used to depreciate is now decomposing to ashes. Following the introduction of 2% tax on all electronic transactions by the Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube hell broke loose.
Food prices like cooking oil have risen from 3 dollars 50 cents to between 9 and 15 dollars. Fuel increase in price has also contributed. Some food stuffs like bread have high prices because of the short supply of flour. However, wheat is running short.
The crisis has prompted MDC T Leader Nelson Chamisa to be called for a meeting by Zimbabwe Council of Churches. Chamisa said recently that he is ready to meet ZANU PF for the meeting. The meeting, he pointed out is ready to work out on solutions.
‘’The country is under- going a crisis. I am ready to meet ZANU PF. We need to talk about issues faced by the country. As we talk, they are certain new challenges sprouting from the ground. It is important to meet with ZANU PF. This is really a crisis. As a country, let us solve this once and for all.
Chamisa according to most sections of society and church denominations is the central figure of acrimony in the Zimbabwe politics. They invited him for a meeting. Kenneth Mtata , Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches indicated that a crisis talk is the only maneuver in the Zimbabwean politics to solve thorny issues .
‘’Zimbabwe is in crisis. The only solution is to address thorny issues at hand. A dialogue of some sort is the only solution. We need to bring peace of mind to bring unity between the two. How-ever. This must not be a long hill climb.
Giving his few words comment, Dr Francis Danha said it is all about building on a new Zimbabwe. The problem lies with politics of greedy Leadership in the country. We have seen that the country is in squabbles. What then is the ultimate answer to problems we have?
‘’Politics is creating poverty for the country. This is not new. This has been on and on for some time. There can be meetings to come up with solutions but if it bounces, there is always an answer to questions remaining unanswered ‘’, he said .
Several companies have threatened to close. Big Department shops are running their day to day business because of the confidence they have with them. Many small shops in high density suburbs have remained closed for some days. To make it worse, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has separated Foreign Accounts from the Local Real Time Gross Settlements Accounts.
AIMS launches novel masters in machine intelligence, a first in Africa
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
KIGALI, Rwanda, 16 October 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA) /- Today, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) launched its African Masters in Machine Intelligence (AMMI) at its AIMS Rwanda Campus in partnership with Facebook and Google. AMMI is novel one-year intensive foundational masters that will offer Africa’s talented scientists and innovators world class training in machine intelligence, preparing them to think about new ways to solve local and global challenges.
Investors to explore USD 82 million worth of business opportunities at the first Nutrition Investor Forum in Africa
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
During the day, USD 82 million worth of investment opportunities were explored by over 60 fast-growing small and medium (SMEs) enterprises
NAIROBI, Kenya, October 17, 2018/ — Leading business leaders, policy makers and prominent development campaigners joined over 200 delegates to launch the first ever Nutrition Africa Investor Forum (https://www.GainHealth.org/knowledge-centre/event/nutrition-africa-investor-forum/) in Nairobi, Kenya. High-level representatives from the World Bank, European Commission, International Finance Corporation, Kenya Commercial Bank, Graça Machel Trust and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined the high-level gathering focused on unlocking the business potential of small and medium enterprises working to improve the nutritional quality of the food system across Africa. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) (www.GainHealth.org), a Swiss Foundation, and Royal DSM –a purpose-led global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living –are co-hosting this drive to generate greater investments to improve nutrition in Africa.
During the day, USD 82 million worth of investment opportunities were explored by over 60 fast-growing small and medium (SMEs) enterprises, who often face challenges accessing affordable finance. While micro businesses have funders but not scale, and large companies find attracting investment easy, it is the missing middle – small and medium growing businesses – that find it difficult to attract investment.The forum met this challenge by hosting a platform for over 60 companies from across Africa to connect with investors.
Opening the Forum, Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania H. E. Jakaya Kikwete, a leading member of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement working to end malnutrition across the world, encouraged greater public, private and third sector collaboration to address this pressing challenge for Africa, commenting: “The nutrition agenda is a key driver of development.” He said. “Dealing effectively with malnutrition and its attendant problems is a cardinal development imperative. Nutrition related problems have a direct bearing to economic growth and development of a nation. If there is no change or improvement in stunting and wasting among children and, anemia among women, and iodine deficiency, a nation is bound to lose a lot in future productivity.” The former president’s homeland has won widespread praise for government policies that have been effectively tackling malnutrition. He also urged Governments to play a critical and overarching role in addressing the nutrition challenges facing nations. “Governments have to develop good agriculture, nutrition and food security policies, as well as take appropriate measures and actions to ensure implementation of those policies,” he added
Malnutrition is a massive problem in Africa, stressed, Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director, GAIN, who was awarded the World Food Prize yesterday. “Businesses have to be part of the solution for malnutrition in Africa,” he said.
“The big problem most businesses face, especially the small and medium-sized ones when it comes to engaging in the market, is that they lack access to finance. GAIN works with businesses to develop their deal flows and their business case and then link them to investors. This is the first real effort within Africa to make it easier for businesses to provide nutritious food by making it more readily available, affordable and accessible.”
As part of this work, the organisation partnered with the UN World Food Programme to hold the first SUN Business Network Pitch Competition on the continent. The finals, held at the forum, saw 21 companies showcasing their work to tackle nutrition following national competitions in Nigeria, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia involving 450 businesses.
Highlighting the importance of unlocking investments across the nutrition value chain, Fokko Wientjes, Vice President Nutrition in Emerging Markets said, “With 30-40% stunted children in Africa there is an urgent need to make nutritious foods widely available, affordable but most importantly aspirational in the eyes of the consumer. We, at DSM are investing in aspirational nutrition to deliver safe and nutritious foods for all.”
The forum’s Nutrition Dealroom, which brought investors face-to-face with established fast growing businesses working to improve access to nutritious food, won praise from Mr. Wientjes.“The forum offers investors the chance to obtain a unique overview of selected investment opportunities across the value chain and identify outstanding commercial opportunities.” He added the Pitch Competition would help build a pipeline of quality ‘nutrition investments’ for future years, stimulating the next generation of entrepreneurs in Africa in the field of Nutrition.
There are opportunities for business in sectors ranging from technology to logistics to make a difference in the nutrition sector. Discussing the use of technology in growing nutrition business, Rachel Kabuyah, Grants and Partnership, Manager, Twiga Foods said, Twiga Foods uses mobile technology to link smallholder farmers with informal retailers – to bring fresh fruit and veg to low-income consumers by making nutritious food affordable and accessible.
The organisation was launched at the UN in 2002 to tackle the human suffering caused by malnutrition. Working with partners, GAIN (https://www.GainHealth.org) aims at making healthier food choices more affordable, more available, and more desirable. Its purpose is to improve nutrition outcomes by improving the consumption of nutritious and safe food for all people, especially the most vulnerable.
About Royal DSM – Bright Science. Brighter Living.™:
Royal DSM is a purpose-led, global science-based company active in nutrition, health and sustainable living. DSM is driving economic prosperity, environmental progress and social advances to create sustainable value for all stakeholders. DSM delivers innovative business solutions for human nutrition, animal nutrition, personal care and aroma, medical devices, green products and applications, and new mobility and connectivity. DSM and its associated companies deliver annual net sales of about €10 billion with approximately 23,000 employees. The company is listed on Euronext Amsterdam.
The SUN Business Network (SBN):
Hosted by GAIN and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the SBN mobilises business to support the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. At the heart of the Movement are 60 country governments across Africa, Asia and Latin America, committed to developing a multi-stakeholder approach to ending malnutrition through national action plans – including business. The SBN supports business at a global and national level to act and invest responsibly in improving nutrition with partners from government, civil society, donors and the United Nations.
South Africa:50 000 Jobs sustained through the Workplace Challenge Programme
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
Majaja pronounced on this remarkable milestone during the 20-year anniversary celebrations of the Workplace Challenge Programme which took place in Botshabelo, Free State
PRETORIA, South Africa, October 16, 2018/ — The Chief Director of Space affairs at the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), Ms Nomfuneko Majaja says that the Workplace Challenge Programme (WPC) has led to the sustaining of more than 50 000 jobs and creating a further 250 since it was founded. Majaja pronounced on this remarkable milestone during the 20-year anniversary celebrations of the Workplace Challenge Programme which took place in Botshabelo, Free State.
The WPC Programme is a joint initiative of the dti and Productivity South Africa (Productivity SA) that is implemented over a 24-month period with the aim to encouraging and supporting negotiated workplace change to improve productivity and job creation.
Majaja further mentioned that enterprises that had participated in the WPC programme had been collectively funded to the tune of R151 million and had generated more than R1.88 billion in total turnover.
“These figures are a sure sign of progress and we must sustain it and forge partnerships with the WPC programme to support our flagship programmes such as the Black Industrialists Programme, the Industrial Park Revitalisation Programme and the Special Economic Zones Programme. We also see the WPC Programme building a competitive manufacturing sector within the Industrial Policy Action Plan,” she said.
Majaja further outlined that a web-based monitoring and evaluation system has since been launched in order to measure the impact of the WPC on participating companies.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Productivity SA, Mr Mothunye Mothiba appealed to prospective entrepreneurs to generate ideas amongst each other, to test the feasibility of success of these ideas and to pursue those that demonstrate potential of success.
“We must accept that productivity is the most effective tool to maximise production, especially amongst our small and medium enterprises as they are the catalysts for economic growth. By helping our enterprises enroll on the WPC Programme we will be equipping them with the means to reduce poverty, unemployment and inequality,” said Mothiba.
Mothiba also announced on the upcoming national Workplace Challenge programme national awards that will take place on Friday, 19 October 2018.
“The productivity revolution will be embarked on post the awards especially in Botshabelo; where there were fewer economic opportunities for Summer. We will be recognising enterprises that have embraced the WPC and turned their strategies for the better,” he said.
Think exponentially, not incrementally: How the rules of the game are changing in Africa’s banking sector
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Sunil Kaushal*
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, October 17, 2018/ — Think exponentially, not incrementally: How the rules of the game are changing in Africa’s banking sector
An abundance of opportunities
We are fortunate to witness a period of monumental progress in Africa. The changes are visible across all sectors. African start-ups have raised a record breaking $560 million in 2017, an increase of 53% from the previous year. African governments have welcomed technology into the continent, hoping to inspire a revolution across all industries and sectors. Some of the brightest minds are determined to rewrite the rules of the game by harnessing technology to tackle some of the continents greatest challenges – with one of them being the distinct lack of access to banking services for large parts of the population. Only 4 years ago, an astounding 66% of Sub-Saharan Africans (http://bit.ly/2PDboRb) did not have a bank account. Now, Africa has been described as a “leapfrogger” with the application of a technology driven economic model to reach the unbanked.
FinTech remains to be the most appealing industry for investors as African start-ups look to bridge the financial gap. Several of the largest deals in 2018 involved African FinTech companies: Kenyan-based Cellulant raised close to $50 million from investors this year, while microfinance company Branch received another $20 million investment to continue funding their mission to bring digital financial services to the Sub-Saharan continent.
While some banks may feel threatened, an abundance of opportunities are hidden within this transformation, most of which come down to partnering with the disruptors. There is a clear chance to leverage existing customer relationships and a deep understanding of the sector in the form of a forward-looking collaboration, which can fundamentally improve ways of doing business on both sides.
Think exponentially, not incrementally
It is a reality that the financial industry is experiencing disruptions on all fronts. As banks, we have a choice as to how we approach and address this change. One of the most important principles to master this evolution is to move from managing people and processes to managing purposes and principles with an entrepreneurial mindset.
US-based Singularity University, one of the world’s leading incubators and think-tanks in the field of technology, stresses that the greatest challenge for established institutions is to reinvent themselves using a digital mindset by thinking exponentially and not incrementally. This doesn’t mean the core of what companies do today has to be discarded, rather it is about innovating to foster sustainable growth.
Driven by unhindered obsession
An impressively large number of companies as well as individuals are investing in research, innovation and ideas for execution to keep up with the ever-changing demands of African consumers. Just in the first half of 2018, nearly 120 deals between investors and start-ups were signed. The time when start-ups were considered small, insignificant companies is long over: in fact, with their entrepreneurial spirit and unconventional approaches, they have the power and ability to shape the future of the continent. It can even be said that the people leading these small enterprises hold the key to growth by prioritising the greater good over personal goals. This is perfectly aligned with our bank’s mantra ‘Good enough will never change the world’.
During a recent trip to San Francisco, I had the opportunity to meet Patrick Collision, co-founder of Stripe (think PayPal). Started only seven years ago, Stripe displaces the need to have a merchant capability and enables sellers and buyers in e-commerce to invoice and collect payments. He believes it can be a large company, but it would have to have the mindset where people prioritise the greater good over personal goals. I thought this insight was fascinating, as for this kind of culture to grow, there must be unhindered obsession about doing better every single day.
Africa’s Bright Digital Future
Halfway through 2018, total funding for start-ups in Africa has increased by nearly four-fold compared to the first half of last year. Digital entrepreneurs are changing the Sub-Saharan continent, and we have an opportunity be part of this monumental transformation. However, it requires all of us to embrace both exponential thinking and the latest technology to the fullest. The banking sector has taken promising first steps in the right direction with a rage to think differently to support client needs in Africa. Our ‘Women-In-Technology’ incubator program in Kenya and the launch of our first truly digital Bank in Ivory Coast give me confidence we are on the right path. I am proud to see unhindered obsession and exponential thinking come to life despite the challenging hurdles of a global banking operation.
We must do everything we can to harness technology and champion the next generation of entrepreneurs in Africa. We must put our faith in people who are on a mission to accelerate the continent’s development. In the words of renowned African entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony Elumelu, we have a responsibility to ‘collectively invest in our young people, and if they succeed, we all succeed’. I am inclined to agree.
*Sunil Kaushal is CEO, Africa & Middle East at Standard Chartered Bank
Zimbabwe government receives US$1m grant from Russia to support low emission development strategy
October 17, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The government of Zimbabwe has received a US$1 million grant from
the government of Russia to implement a three year project on
Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), according to Washington
Zhakata, Director for the Climate Change management office.
According to Zhakata, the project will deliver the Low Emission
Development Strategy, the country-wide Measuring, Reporting and
Verification (MRV) framework and also create linkages for low emission
investments with business.
Zhakata also added that the country had developed a Climate Smart
Agriculture (CSA) manual for agricultural education students meant to
better prepare graduates of the colleges of agriculture to carry out
farmer trainings and outreaches to promote new climate-smart
principles and practices.
Zimbabwe has been party to the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change since 1994 and has been active in discussions on the
Kyoto protocol, the Doha Amendment and the Paris Agreement through the
African Group of Negotiators. The country’s Nationally Determined
Contributions for Green House Gas (GHG) emission reduction were
submitted to the UNFCCC in 2015 and the country became a party to the
Paris Agreement in 2017.
Zhakata said that the government of Zimbabwe through the ministry of
Environment, Water and Climate has been making progress in setting the
tone for the achievement of the 33% per capita reduction in green
house gas emissions target in the energy sector by 2030.
He said that the national climate policy of 2017 speaks to the NDC
commitment while the national climate change response strategy dated
before 2015 will need to be updated.
It is reported that institutional arrangements for NDC
implementation have been set up in a manner that involves high level
coordination from the office of the president and cabinet as well as
broad participation through the NDC technical committee and its
Zhakata says that progress is being registered in making the private
sector, government ministries, local authorities, research
institutions and CSOs understand the low emission trajectory that the
UNFCCC seeks to achieve in the next few decades and how the country
can strategically position itself.
“Challenges relating to domestic funding, limited access to
international financial flows and private sector awareness are
constraining progress towards creating an enabling environment for low
emission development,” Zhakata said.
It is reported that the Nationally Determined Contribution defines
priority actions to build resilience to climate change and pursue low
Resilience priority areas in Zimbabwe include managing climate
related disaster risks, reducing vulnerabilities in the agricultural
sector through adaptive crop and livestock management, climate smart
agricultural practices and improved management of water resources and
It is added that cross-sectoral adaptation efforts such as institution
of policies catering to the more vulnerable, gender and social groups,
sustainable agro-forestry practices and building capacity to support
diversification of livelihood have also been highlighted.
Zhakata says that the government of Zimbabwe identified the need to
develop further analysis on the measures proposed in the NDC to
prioritise interventions as well as to develop an implementation
framework of NDC mitigation actions.
The World Bank has been engaged for support to develop the NDC
implementation framework including a measuring, reporting and
verification system. The work is reported to have been ongoing and
expected to be completed before the UNFCCC facilitative dialogue to be
held in November/December 2018.The current work is focusing on the
According to Zhakata, the climate change management department
stands ready to continue providing overall policy guidance as the
country thrives to optimum preparedness in preparation for
implementation of the Paris Agreement from 2020 and beyond.
It is also reported that Zimbabwe has taken some significant strides
in preparation for implementation of the NDCs in terms of setting up
the required governance structure and mobilizing resources.
“However, more still needs to be done with regards to implementation
framework, finance for tangible projects, access to international
climate finance for large scale transformative programmes and
incentivising investors,” Zhakata said.
He added that further strategic engagement with the private
sector is necessary if the country’s NDCs are to be met.
Zhakata added that the country will be better prepared to implement
the NDCs from 2020 once a legal framework is in place for the
“More work appears to be required for sensitisation on NDCs both at
individual, institutional and systemic levels,” Zhakata said.
Zim private media barred from covering commission of inquiry hearing
October 17, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Private media journalists were today, 16 October barred from entering the Commission of Inquiry into the post-elections violence that took place on August 1,
2018 in Harare, which is scheduled to conduct public hearings at the Cresta Hotel, Msasa, Harare, according to a statement released by the Media Institute for
Southern Africa (MISA)-Zimbabwe.
It is reported that the police details at the entrance only allowed the state-owned media into the venue. According to MISA, this is disconcerting as it is an inquiry that is supposed to draw participation from the public. “Particularly worrying is that trend in such conduct by the institutions established by the government and public officials. The same situation prevailed on the 5th of October 2017, when the then Vice President, who is the current head of State and Government, Emmerson Mnangagwa barred private media from his press conference” MISA said.
“It is therefore of MISA Zimbabwe’s concern that this action by the commission perpetuates a very dangerous precedent where such attitudes may cascade down to other government structures, effectively heightening the levels of media polarisation. It is the considered view of MISA Zimbabwe that the action by the commission runs against the grain of section 61 and 62 of the constitution of Zimbabwe that provides for freedom of expression and the media access to information respectively. In this regard, the media should be accorded unfettered access to such developments as they happen so that the citizens can make informed decisions” MISA said.
MISA Zimbabwe said that it is deeply concerned with the lack of awareness and somewhat the secretive nature within which the commission is conducting its business.
“There is need for heightened publicity in line with the country’s language diversity and media reach, so that there is active citizen participation”. MISA Zimbabwe has called on the commission to respect the constitution and further reminds it of the role of the media in keeping the nation informed, and that it should discharge its duties without undue interference or hindrances.
Third edition of the Africa Forum in Egypt to advance trade and investment across Africa
October 17, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation of Egypt and COMESA Regional Investment Agency has confirmed dates for theAfrica 2018, a high-level forum offering participants an unparalleled platform for promoting trade and investment within the continent. The Forum will be held under the High Patronage of H.E. President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt on 8-9 December 2018, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
The Forum will be the biggest business-to-business and government-to-business gathering bringing together leading policy makers with captains of industry, financiers, major industrialists and young entrepreneurs from across Africa and beyond. This year’s edition takes place against an important backdrop with Egypt taking over the chairmanship of the African Union in 2019, making it a platform to help shape private sector priorities for the coming year. The theme for this year; ‘Bold Leadership and Collective Commitment: The third edition of the Africa Forum to take place in Sharm El-Sheikh on the 8-9 December, held under the High Patronage of H.E. President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Advancing Intra-African Investments’ reflects the need for policy makers and the private sector to collaborate more closely and take tough decisions to advance and fast-track development across the continent. The organisers have confirmed that already five African heads of State had confirmed their participation including the newly elected Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and also President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, who has been leading the drive to get commitment from other African heads of State to sign the African Continental Free
Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
This year, the Forum will have a day focusing on the role of women in helping them define the continental priorities in a gathering called Women Empowering Africa. The organisers will convene women driving change across the continent and give them a platform to get together and agree on clear action points to ensure they have a stronger voice and more significant presence at the decision making table, as much in government as in the boardroom. A communiqué will be presented to the heads of state present highlighting their priority concerns and
Building on last year’s success, the organisers will be hosting their Young Entrepreneurs Day (YED) offering the continent’s rising stars the opportunity to meet a diverse set of investors as well as to hone their skills in some workshops tailored by specialist consultancies and leaders in their field. Speaking about the Forum, H.E. Dr. Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, reiterated her country’s commitment to working towards a unified vision for promoting economic co-operation among African nations: “The Forum aims to improve intra-African trade and investment for the benefit for all citizens on this continent. Egypt’s comprehensive socio-economic reform programme to transform our country continues to progress alongside efforts to advancing Africa’s sustainable development through greater cross-border business among our nations.”
Echoing this commitment was Heba Salama, COMESA Regional Investment Agency CEO, welcoming this
important community to the third edition of the Forum: “COMESA, now consisting of 21 countries following the admission of Tunisia and Somalia this year, continues to play a lead role in advancing Africa’s economic integration. As one of the most influential regional economic communities in Africa we have a pivotal role to play in engaging with business leaders and investors.”
The 2018 edition builds on the success of the previous editions, which have seen the participation of 11 Heads of State and more than 3,000 delegates from 80+ countries. This year the programme has been enhanced with a Women Empowering Africa day as well as our exclusive Presidential Roundtables with African leaders and CEOs as well as a Young Entrepreneurs Day.
In Ethiopian leader’s new cabinet, half the ministers are women
October 16, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Paul Schemm*
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister announced Tuesday a new cabinet that is half female, in an unprecedented push for gender parity in Africa’s second-most-populous nation.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has marked his nearly seven months in office with staggering reforms for this once-authoritarian country, notably releasing thousands of political prisoners, making peace with its main enemy, Eritrea, and promising to open up the economy.
The new cabinet, which reduces ministerial positions to 20 from 28, has women in the top security posts for the first time in Ethiopia’s history. Aisha Mohammed will be in charge of defense, and Muferiat Kamil, a former parliamentary speaker, will head the newly formed Ministry of Peace.
In some ways, this could be one of the most important ministries in the government, though its name has garnered a degree of criticism on social media for its Orwellian sound. It oversees the federal police, the intelligence services and the information security agency, and it will take the lead in tackling much of the ethnic unrest that has swept the countryside since Abiy’s reforms.
“Our women ministers will disprove the adage that women can’t lead,” Abiy said in Parliament.
Although women have been in the cabinet before, they often held minor positions. In the new cabinet, in addition to defense and security, women will head the ministries of trade, transport and labor, as well as culture, science and revenue.
Awol Allo, an expert on Ethiopia from Britain’s Keele University, said this was especially important because the lack of gender equality is a persistent problem in the country, which has strong patriarchal traditions.
“It is a very important and progressive move on the part of the prime minister and very consistent with the transformative agendas he’s been pursuing,” he said. “I also think it sends a strong message to young Ethiopian women that one day they can take up positions in the government.”
Also represented in the new cabinet are often marginalized ethnic groups. A diverse nation of about 80 ethnicities, Ethiopia has long been dominated by just a few groups.
Aisha, the new defense minister, comes from the arid and predominantly Muslim Afar region, while new Finance Minister Ahmed Shide is from the Somali region.
Hallelujah Lulie, an analyst based in Addis Ababa, pointed out the presence in the cabinet of two Muslim women who wear headscarves, an important inclusion in a country that is one-third Muslim.
“Muslims were historically underrepresented,” he said. “It is a good move. It projects a good image. It’s inspiring in many ways.”
While much depends on how the new cabinet will tackle the country’s many challenges, including job creation for an overwhelmingly young population and a difficult transition away from an authoritarian system, Hallelujah predicted that the new cabinet would calm tensions and set an important precedent.
Abiy was elected by the ruling party after years of anti-government protests shook the country. He immediately embarked on reforms and has promised free and competitive elections in 2020. The ruling party currently holds all the seats in Parliament.
The transition has not been easy. In the past year alone, ethnic strife has displaced 1.4 million people as old ethnic scores were being settled amid a security vacuum.
In many parts of the country, the struggle against the previous regime left government structures weak or nonexistent, making it difficult to enforce the rule of law.
The once-repressive police and army also have been struggling to find their roles in a new environment in which they had once operated with impunity.
“The state is still functioning in the hangover of an authoritarian regime,” Hallelujah said. “The army and the federal police are still having a hard time finding that balance and equilibrium between enforcing the law and respecting human rights.”
The country got a scare on Oct. 10 when 240 armed soldiers marched up to the prime minister’s residence demanding pay raises and provoking fears of a coup.
In the end, they were invited inside (without their weapons) and met by top officials, including Abiy, a former military man, who then did push-ups with them.
“Democracy is an existential issue for Ethiopia. There is no option but multi-partyism,” Abiy said in an interview published Tuesday.
“Inclusiveness and coexistence is critical in Ethiopia because of differences in terms of tribalism, and religion and the virtually feudal system of land ownership which prevailed in the past,” he said.