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African Tech Startups Raise $195 Million
January 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Mfonobong Nsehe *

Africa’s tech revolution is picking up speed, with 2017 proving the best year on record for the continent’s tech startups as investment topped US$195 million over the course of the year.

New research by entrepreneurship portal Disrupt Africashows that in 2017 the number of African tech startups to raise funding hit 159 – up from 146 companies in 2016. In 2015, only 125 startups managed to attract investment. Investor confidence and willingness to back African tech ventures is clearly accelerating.

The total funding raised by these companies – US$195,060,845 – also marks a 51% rise on the previous year’s figures, taking investment into African startups to an all-time record high.

“The tech entrepreneurship ecosystem is really coming into its own across Africa. There have been years of speculation as to whether the tech-first Africa narrative is real or just hype, but these numbers emerging in our research show undeniably that African startups are impacting all aspects of daily life and service delivery,” says Gabriella Mulligan, co-founder of Disrupt Africa.

While startups are using technology to shake-up everything from healthcare to home cleaning, fintech has been by far the best backed sector since tracking began. In 2017, almost one third of all funding went to fintech companies – this proportion has remained stable over the past three years.

A few other sectors also saw success in 2017. Although e-commerce floundered in 2016 – receiving little support from investors – this trend reversed in 2017. The e-commerce space grew 350% on the previous year to collect over US$16 million in investment over the course of the year.

With nearly one billion people in Africa active as smallholder farmers, it comes as no surprise that entrepreneurs and investors alike are starting to tap into the agri-tech space. This space is charting out a decidedly upward trajectory, with funding into this sector growing 203% in 2017.

“Areas like agri-tech and e-health offer the perfect balancing of motivations for investors. With vast untapped markets in need of innovative new solutions, and the substantial impact element of ventures operating in these areas, these investments offer both sizeable returns and impact,” Mulligan says.

South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya continued to solidify their position as the top three investment destinations in Africa, although 2017 saw other markets begin to emerge as alternative hotspots. Activity in Egypt and Ghana is picking up pace, while countries like Uganda and Morocco also placed themselves on the map this year.

As such, investment in Africa’s tech ecosystem took on a decidedly pan-African flavour in 2017, a trend which will continue to develop as the continent carries on presenting high quality innovations and businesses, tackling Africa’s challenges, but also scalable across the world.

*Courtesy of Forbes .Follow Mfonobong on Twitter @MfonobongNsehe.  mfon.nsehe@gmail.com

 

 

 
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Cedric Bakambu: Villarreal forward set for African record £65m deal
January 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
DR Congo's Cedric Bakambu has scored 14 goals for Villarreal in all competitions so far this season

DR Congo’s Cedric Bakambu has scored 14 goals for Villarreal in all competitions so far this season

Cedric Bakambu is set to become the most expensive African footballer of all time after Beijing Guoan agreed to meet Villarreal’s release clause.

The Spanish club set the clause at 40m euros (£35.3m) for the Chinese Super League-bound DR Congo striker.

But the total fee will be around £65m because of taxation rules that have recently been introduced in China.

That will eclipse the £34m Liverpool have paid for Mo Salah and Saido Mane, and their £48m deal for Naby Keita.

“Villareal informs that the release clause of its player Cedric Bakambu has been activated, meaning he no longer belongs to the squad,” the La Liga side said in a statement (in Spanish) on Wednesday evening.

“The club wants to thank the footballer for his commitment and professionalism, and wishes him the best in his sporting career.”

Bakambu, 26, has had a medical with Beijing Guoan who, like all Chinese Super League clubs, are now subject to a transfer tax for any fee over 5m euros.

The laws were introduced in a bid to encourage clubs to buy China-based players and keep more money inside the country.

The former Sochaux and Bursaspor forward is Villarreal’s top scorer this season, with 14 goals in all competitions for the Spanish side.

Bakambu became the first African player to win La Liga’s Player of the Month award after scoring six of those goals in October.

The previous Chinese record was £60m, which Shanghai SIPG paid to sign Brazil international Oscar from Chelsea last January.

Keita will join Liverpool in July from German club RB Leipzig after the Premier League side agreed a deal for the Guinea international last summer.

 *BBC
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Why some African Americans are moving to Africa
January 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

African-Americans are returning to the lands of their ancestors as life becomes precarious and dangerous in the USA.

By Azad Essa*
Accra, Ghana – They have come from the big cities of San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Thousands of them. And many refuse to return.
Muhammida el-Muhajir says as an African American in the US, she felt she could 'never win' [Courtesy of Muhammida el-Muhajir]

Muhammida el-Muhajir says as an African American in the US, she felt she could ‘never win’ [Courtesy of Muhammida el-Muhajir]

A new wave of African Americans is escaping the incessant racism and prejudice in the United States. From Senegal and Ghana to The Gambia, communities are emerging in defiance of conventional wisdom that Africa is a continent everyone is trying to leave.

It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 African Americans live in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. They are teachers in small towns in the west or entrepreneurs in the capital and say they that even though living in Ghana is not always easy, they feel free and safe.

Take Muhammida el-Muhajir, a digital marketer from New York City, who left her job to move to Accra.

She says she moved, because despite her education and experience, she was always made to feel like a second-class citizen. Moving was an opportunity to fulfil her potential and avoid being targeted by racial violence.

She told Al Jazeera her story:

On life as a second-class citizen in the US…

“I grew up in Philadelphia and then New York. I went to Howard, which is a historically black university. I tell people that Ghana is like Howard in real life. It felt like a microcosm of the world. At university, they tell us the world isn’t black, but there are places where this is the real world. Howard prepares you for a world where black people are in charge, which is a completely different experience compared to people who  have gone to predominantly white universities.”

I can’t say what’s happening in America today is any worse than what’s been happening at any other time.

Muhammida el-Muhajir

On her first trip to Africa…

“The first country I went to was Kenya. I was 15 and travelled with a group of kids. I was one of two black kids. I saw early that I could fit in and wasn’t an outsider. Suddenly it switched, I came from America where I was an outsider, but in Africa, I no longer felt like that. I did graduate school in Ghana in 2003 and went back to New York and then moved to Ghana in 2014.

“I have no connection to Ghana. Some people in my family did tests, and we found ties to Senegal and The Gambia, but I don’t think you can ever figure it out. No matter where you were sold or left the port, Senegal or Ghana, no one can be certain where you came from.”

No matter where you were sold or left the port, Senegal or Ghana, no one can be certain where you came from.

Muhammida el-Muhajir

On leaving New York for Accra…

“Even when you live in a place like New York as a black person, you’re always an outsider.

“You hear stories about the richest black people, like Oprah Winfrey, getting shut out of a store or Jay-Z not being allowed to buy [an apartment]. Those things happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity, you’re a second-class citizen. This was the biggest issue for me.

“In America, you’re always trying to prove yourself; I don’t need to prove myself to anyone else’s standards here. I’m a champion, I ran track and went to university, and I like to win, so I refuse to be in a situation where I will never win.”

You might not have electricity, but you won’t get killed by the police either.

Muhammida el-Muhajir

On moving to Ghana…

“There are amenities that I am used to at home in New York – like parties, open bars and fashion, so when I realised I could do the same things in Africa as I could back in the US, I was sold. There is also a big street art festival here, and that was the difference from when I came [as a student]. I saw the things that I love at home here, so I decided that now is the time.”

On Ghanaian reactions…

Modern architecture in Ghana's capital [Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images]

Modern architecture in Ghana’s capital [Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images]

“When Ghanaians find out that I live here, they’re usually confused about why I chose to live here as an American. There is definitely certain access and privilege being American here, but it’s great to finally cash in on that because it doesn’t mean anything in America.”There are also plenty of privileged Ghanaians; if you take away race there’s a class system.”

On the ‘Blaxit’ documentary…

“In my documentary, I chose five people that I’ve met since I’ve been here and every one of them went to a black college in the US. It’s something that prepares you mentally to realise you aren’t a second-class citizen. Something like that can help you make a transition to live in Africa.

“I made Blaxit because of this wave of African-Americans moving to Africa. This trend started to happen around independence of African countries, but the new wave [comprises] people who come to places like this. This new group has certain access in America and comes here to have that lifestyle in Africa.

“Unbeknown to us, we’re living out the vision that [Ghanaian politician and revolutionary] Kwame Nkrumah set out for us, of this country being the gateway to Africa for the black diaspora.

“I don’t want people to think that Africa is this magic utopia where all your issues will go away. It’s just that some of the things you might face in America as a black person – you won’t have to suffer with those things here.

“You might not have electricity, but you won’t get killed by the police either.

“I want people to understand that they have options and alternatives. Most black people in America don’t know that these options exist; they think they have to suffer because there’s nowhere else to go. But no, there are other places.”

On the prospect of more African-Americans moving…

“I think more will come when they begin to see it as a viable alternative. But it’s not easy and it’s not cheap. I can’t say what’s happening in America today is any worse than what’s been happening at any other time. I think now is the time that people are starting to see they can live somewhere else.”

*Al Jazeera

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“It was a privilege to live in and learn from the diverse and spectacular countries of Africa”-78 Former Amb in Letter to President Trump
January 17, 2018 | 0 Comments
Herman Cohen -Former Ambassador to  Senegal, and  Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Reagan and Bush is among the the 78 Ambassadors who signed the letter

Herman Cohen -Former Ambassador to Senegal, and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Reagan and Bush is among the the 78 Ambassadors who signed the letter

In response to the remarks attributed to President Trump talking low about Africa, a group of 78 Ambassadors who served with both Democratic and Republican Administrations , say it was a privilege to live learn from the diverse and spectacular countries of Africa. Expressing concern on the remarks in a letter to President Trump, the former Ambassadors describe Africa as a continent with deep historical ties with the United States.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

As former U.S. Ambassadors to 48 African countries, we write to express our deep concern regarding reports of your recent remarks about African countries and to attest to the importance of our partnerships with most of the fifty-four African nations. Africa is a continent of great human talent and rich diversity, as well as extraordinary beauty and almost unparalleled natural resources. It is also a continent with deep historical ties with the United States.

As American ambassadors abroad we have seen Africa’s complex and rich cultures, awe-inspiring resilience, and breathtaking generosity and compassion. Even as some nations have faced challenges, we have counted among our contacts dynamic entrepreneurs, gifted artists, committed activists, passionate conservationists, and brilliant educators. We learned of novel solutions to complex problems, helped American companies find partners critical to their success, and counted on African military and intelligence officials who often assumed real risks to help achieve outcomes critical to our shared security.

 We know that respectful engagement with these countries is a vital part of protecting our own national interests. The United States of America is safer, healthier, more prosperous, and better equipped to solve problems that confront all of humanity when we work with, listen to, and learn from our African partners. We also know that the entire world is richer because of the contributions of Africans, including the many Americans of African descent.
Ambassador Robin Sanders and former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnie Carson pictured here here with former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan also signed the letter

Ambassador Robin Sanders and former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnie Carson pictured here here with former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan also signed the letter

It was one of the greatest honors of our lives to represent the United States of America abroad. It was also a privilege to live in and learn from the diverse and spectacular countries of Africa. We hope that you will reassess your views on Africa and its citizens, and recognize the important contributions Africans and African Americans have made and continue to make to our country, our history, and the enduring bonds that will always link Africa and the United States.

Sincerely,

Mark L. Asquino – Equatorial Guinea
Shirley E. Barnes – Madagascar
William (Mark) Bellamy – Kenya
Eric D. Benjaminson – Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe
Michele Thoren Bond – Lesotho
Parker W. Borg – Mali
Aurelia E. Brazeal – Kenya, Ethiopia
Pamela Bridgewater – Benin, Ghana
Reuben E. Brigety II – African Union
Kenneth L. Brown – Ivory Coast, Ghana, Republic of the Congo
1Steven A. Browning – Malawi, Uganda
Edward P. Brynn – Burkina Faso, Ghana
John Campbell – Nigeria
Katherine Canavan – Botswana
Timothy Carney – Sudan
Johnnie Carson – Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Phillip Carter – Ivory Coast, Guinea-Conakry
Herman Cohen – Senegal, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Frances D. Cook – Burundi, Cameroon
Walter L. Cutler – Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tunisia
Jeffrey S. Davidow – Zambia
Ruth A. Davis – Benin, Director General of the Foreign Service
Scott H. DeLisi – Uganda, Eritrea
Christopher Dell – Angola, Zimbabwe, Deputy Ambassador at AFRICOM
Harriet Elam-Thomas – Senegal, Guinea-Bissau
Gregory W. Engle – Togo
James F. Entwistle – Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Robert A. Flaten – Rwanda
Robert S. Ford – Algeria
Patrick Gaspard – South Africa
Michelle D. Gavin – Botswana
Donald H. Gips – South Africa
Gordon Gray – Tunisia
Robert E. Gribben – Central African Republic, Rwanda
Patricia McMahon Hawkins – Togo
Karl Hofmann – Togo
Patricia M. Haslach – Ethiopia
Genta Hawkins Holmes – Namibia
Robert G. Houdek – Uganda, Eritrea
Michael S. Hoza – Cameroon
Vicki J. Huddleston – Madagascar, Mali
Janice L. Jacobs – Senegal
Howard F. Jeter – Botswana, Nigeria
Dennis C. Jett – Mozambique
Jimmy J. Kolker – Burkina Faso, Uganda
Edward Gibson Lanpher – Zimbabwe
Dawn M. Liberi – Burundi
Princeton N. Lyman – Nigeria, South Africa
Jackson McDonald – The Gambia, Guinea
James D. McGee – Swaziland, Madagascar, Comoros, Zimbabwe
Roger A. Meece – Malawi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gillian Milovanovic – Mali
Susan D. Page – South Sudan
David Passage – Botswana
Edward J. Perkins – Liberia, South Africa, Director General of the Foreign Service
Robert C. Perry – Central African Republic
Thomas R. Pickering – Nigeria
Jo Ellen Powell – Mauritania
Nancy Powell – Uganda, Ghana
Anthony Quainton – Central African Republic
Elizabeth Raspolic – Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe
Charles A. Ray – Zimbabwe
Fernando E. Rondon – Madagascar, Comoros
Richard A. Roth – Senegal, Guinea-Bissau
Robin Renee Sanders – Republic of the Congo, Nigeria
Mattie R. Sharpless – Central African Republic
David H. Shinn – Burkina Faso, Ethiopia
A. Ellen Shippy – Malawi
George M. Staples – Rwanda, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Director General of the Foreign Service
Linda Thomas-Greenfield – Liberia, Director General of the Foreign Service, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Jacob Walles – Tunisia
Lannon Walker – Senegal, Nigeria, Ivory Coast
Melissa F. Wells – Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Zaire (Congo-Kinshasa)
Joseph C. Wilson – Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe
Frank G. Wisner – Zambia, Egypt
John M. Yates – Cape Verde, Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Permanent Charge (3 years) Zaire, Special Envoy for Somalia
Mary Carlin Yates – Burundi, Ghana, Sudan
Johnny Young – Sierra Leone, Togo

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AU comes of age: issues stern response to unfortunate Trump statement
January 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati*

In its many years of existence, even before it was rebranded, the African Union was seen by many as a toothless bulldog, which only came to life during the annual summits in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa where African leaders competed against each other for the bragging rights of being the most eloquent orators. Apart from the annual summit, the AU to many was just another body with strongly written principles but zero action.

However, recently the AU took a different turn to the AU many have become accustomed to. Instead of leaving it to member states to respond the ‘threat’ facing the entire continent, the AU for the first time took the first initiative to respond to the unfortunate statement reportedly uttered by the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

A couple of days ago, the Washington Post citing two sources from inside the White House stated that the US President had said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries coming here.’ The sources claim that the President was referring to Africa, Haiti, and El Salvador. Television network, CNN and other mainstream media channels from the US corroborated the story.

The Washington Post claims that the President did not stop there, but he went further to suggest that the US must be looking at ways to attract more immigrants from Norway, a country that has one of the highest white demographics in the world.

It’s alleged that Trump made the remarks during a meeting with two Congress representatives, Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and South Carolina GOP Senator, Lindsay Graham who had come to present the plan to cut the visa lottery on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus. The plan wants the other half of the visa lottery to be shared proportionally between Africa and Haiti.

In its response to the President of the United States, the AU spokesperson, Ebba Kalondo said it was disappointing that Donald Trump had little respect for the continent and he actually publicly stated it. Kalondo said the US was one of the countries that should never forget how crucial immigration is to the development of a country as it is through immigration that the US managed to achieve what it has achieved.

In reference to Trump’s statement saying we should have more immigrants from Norway, many interviewed officials from across Africa said this shows that the President of the US has racist tendencies especially if one factors in some of his earlier utterances in relation to some South American countries. By referencing Norway, one of the ‘whitest’ countries in the world, Trump just showed his true colours to the world.

Barely 24 hours after the news broke out; Trump addressed the media and denied ever saying ‘shithole countries’. He unconvincingly stated that he is not racist and is the “least racist person you will ever meet.”

In condemning Trump’s statement, the AU was joined by several African countries who issued their own responses. Many African nationals living in Africa and beyond also weighed in on social media uploading pictures of their beautiful shithole countries.

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Ringier Africa signs pan-African content agreement with The New York Times
January 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
Ringier Africa Digital Publishing (RADP) will publish New York Times journalism under its new media brand Pulse in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria
ZURICH, Switzerland, January 15, 2018/ — Ringier Africa Digital Publishing (RADP) (http://Ringier.com) further expands its news and media portfolio by entering into a digital content license agreement with The New York Times News Service (www.NYTimes.com) and Syndicate, the licensing and syndicate division of The New York Times. RADP will publish New York Times journalism under its new media brand Pulse in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. Pulse informs and entertains Africa’s mass and mobile population with a reach of 100 million people every month.

The launch of New York Times journalism on Pulse will bring award-winning reporting and storytelling to Africa’s informed readership. The New York Times is a globally renowned media outlet for news and opinion, which will complement Pulse’s news coverage. Pulse readers will now have access to The New York Times’ top news of the day as well as a selection of other digital articles addressing key social, political and economic issues as well as videos, photos and graphics.

«Publishing content from The New York Times will be setting new standards in the regional media space, offering up-to-date information at any time of the day, directly to Africa’s media consumption tool of choice, the mobile phone, via the Pulse website and our newly launched mobile app» says Tim Kollmann, Managing Director of RADP.

This agreement consolidates Ringier’s position as Africa’s leading news brand. It signals a new strategic direction, expands Pulse’s editorial scope to include more politics, current affairs and international news stories and strengthens the platform’s followership. It also furthers RADP’s plan to build one of the most robust digital ecosystems in Africa by continuing to find new ways and platforms to engage and stay connected with users.

Ringier Africa & Asia CEO, Robin Lingg, adds: «Ringier is constantly reaching out to new opportunities to strengthen its position as an innovative and leading digital publisher. We are excited about this cooperation with The New York Times. We see a lot of great potential in the product and its further growth opportunities on the continent. The inclusion of New York Times journalism comes at an exciting time for our publishing company, as we continue to invest in building out a fast-moving, pioneering, credible and truly pan-African digital publishing network.»

The New York Times is known globally for innovation in its print and digital storytelling. With the Ringier agreement, New York Times journalism will reach a new digital audience. General Manager of News Services and Print Innovation for The New York Times, Michael Greenspon says: «Ringier has a deep understanding of the digital space and is the ideal partner to help us bring The New York Times voice to sub-Saharan Africa. We are delighted that this agreement will expand the reach of our journalism to new readers.»

The New York Times Company (www.NYTimes.com) is a global media organization dedicated to enhancing society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information. The Company includes The New York Times, NYTimes.com, and related properties. It is known globally for excellence in its journalism, and innovation in its print and digital storytelling and its business model.

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GAINDE 2000 at CES Las Vegas to showcase its research project ORBUS SIGN
January 15, 2018 | 1 Comments
GAINDE 2000 led the Senegalese delegation at the first event dedicated to Africa during the Consumer Electronics Show
LAS VEGAS, United States of America, January 15, 2018/ — Gainde 2000 (www.GAINDE2000.sn) participated, along with the Senegalese delegation in this year’s Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas from January 9-12. GAINDE 2000 was created in 2002 as a public-private partnership (PPP) to develop and run the ORBUS one-stop shop with a view to simplifying the formalities of international trade.

With fifteen (15) years of experience, GAINDE 2000 has become the African leader in the dematerialisation of administrative formalities, digital security and electronic payments with deployed solutions in 5 countries and internationally rendered consulting services.

GAINDE 2000 was at the CES Las Vegas international trade fair until 12 January to showcase its research project ORBUS SIGN, at a very advanced stage in its design at its Research and Development workshops.

ORBUS SIGN is a digital voice signature solution that allows users the option of signing electronically by pronouncing a word or expression. Conceived for signing one or multiple electronic documents by voice recognition (contracts, invoices, etc.), ORBUS SIGN integrates biometric software capable of recording a unique ‘voiceprint’, comparable to a fingerprint or retina pattern, since there are no two identical voices. Once the voiceprint has been recorded, it can be used to verify the identity of a person in the next signature process.

According to Ibrahima Nour Eddine Diagne, General Manager at GAINDE 2000, “ORBUS SIGN eliminates handwritten signatures in a long process generally entailing the printing, distribution and waiting for signed documents to be sent and returned. It is also a solution that brings a simple alternative, particularly in Africa, where illiteracy is nearly 40%.”

Mr. Diagne added that ORBUS SIGN is also useful for people with disabilities who are unable to produce a handwritten signature, though professionals seeking speed and effectiveness could also benefit from the solution regardless of their qualifications.

Daniel Sarr, project manager of ORBUS SIGN, said that participating at CES 2018 “is an opportunity for GAINDE 2000 to showcase its project and test the concept at this international temple of innovation by demonstrating the capabilities of African countries to contribute to emerging technologies.”

GAINDE 2000 (www.GAINDE2000.sn) is a leading edge IT Senegalese company specialized in trade efficiency and paperless public formalities. GAINDE 2000 was established in 2002, as a public-private partnership (PPP) with the mandate to develop and operate the ORBUS Single Window services for facilitating foreign trade formalities.

Gainde 2000’s core business is to design, implement and run state-of-the-art software solutions for Governments, Port Communities and businesses. Its solutions are tailored to businesses’ needs while providing value, efficiency and performance. The company helps countries improve their business environment and meet the challenges of a modern administration of service through reduction of formalities, use of paper, time and cost in public processes.

 

GAINDE 2000 has won the 1st place of the United Nations Public Service Awards (UNPSA) in “Improving Public Services” category, with ORBUS Single Window that led to outstanding changes in trade procedures performance. The company is also an African leader in paperless formalities, digital security and e-payment solutions with platforms implemented in 5 different countries and consulting services delivered at an international level.
Visit www.GAINDE2000.sn

 

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CAN AFRICA’S SKYROCKETING POPULATION AND UNEMPLOYMENT BE TURNED INTO AN ECONOMIC DIVIDEND?
January 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

Moses Hategeka*

 

File Picture.President Barack Obama addresses the Young African Leaders Initiative in Washington, Wednesday, August 3, 2016. President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders in hope of strengthening democratic governance and encouraging peace and security across Africa.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

File Picture,President Barack Obama addresses the Young African Leaders Initiative in Washington, Wednesday, August 3, 2016. President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders in hope of strengthening democratic governance and encouraging peace and security across Africa. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

With transformative and visionary leadership in place, a high population, that is rightly skilled and economically empowered, can be a catalyst, for accelerating, a sustainable economic growth and development, that is all-inclusive and beneficial, for a harnessed, political, economic, and social prosperity of a Nation/Continent. Africa’ population which today stands at 1.2 billion people, and is expected to more than double by 2050, is rising, and so is unemployment, that is forcing, thousands of young people, to trek extremely very dangerous journey, through the Sahara desert, to Libya, and then on insecure boats, in the Mediterranean Sea, with the hope of finding opportunities for a better livelihood in Europe.

According to the international organization for migration, this year alone, 2017, over 8,800 African migrants, have been returned to their home countries. What is leadership in Africa not doing right, that is forcing millions of young people want to leave their continent in search of green pastures elsewhere?

Africa’s young people, who today, totals over 420 million aged between 15 -35 age, and is expected to increase to over 830 million by 2050, is a huge demographic asset, which if given right skills and opportunities, can be turned into an economic dividend driving the continent forward. Skilled young people produces high work rate, and acts as an attraction, for investors seeking to open up new investment prospects. Skilled young people, if also accorded right funding, can be able to produce inventions and innovations, in various sectors that can in the end result into turning Africa’s abundance natural resources, into usable finished products, thus promoting entrepreneurship and industrial development.

Are the African countries giving its young people factual skills and  opportunities to produce ground breaking technologies that can attract mutual industrial research and technological collaborations from developed countries especially in agriculture and agricultural related sectors?

Agriculture, which is, and is expected for the next decade, to continue being  a major employer, employing about 65 percent and source of livelihood for the majority of Africans, can if well consistently structured and profitably transformed, birth agribusiness enterprises and agro-industrialization in Africa, that can make majority of Africans, to secure well-paying jobs, and this would greatly curb migration of young Africans to Europe and mutually save both African and European economies, from spending millions of dollars, which they spend every year, trying to curtail their movement from Africa to Europe.

African countries, must in collaborations with regional and global institutions, such as African Development Bank and World Bank, design and implement policies and build institutions, that are job creation enhancing, and which provides for, creation of new rural micro- enterprises, larger scale agribusinesses, and agro- industrialization to thrive. This will not only contribute to transformation of rural economies and curbing of extreme poverty, but will also, create millions of jobs in agricultural and agricultural fed industrial sector, thus contributing to economic growth and development that is all- inclusive.

One youth from Uganda that I met recently had this to say, “Immediately after completing by Bachelor’s degree, in food science and technology in 2014, I underwent a basic agricultural training in passion fruits growing and juice making, armed with training and with funding from my parents and friends, I went to village and planted 4 acres of passion fruits. Initially I sold them, to fruits, making factories in raw form and earned good profit, which I later used to buy machines and other equipment’ to set up a medium juice making enterprise, which is now employing, 50 full time workers. I am now earning extremely very good profits from selling the juice to various institutions, and I am now working on securing a loan or a grant, to expand my factory and employ many more other people, as demand for my juice is higher than the supply”.

This in essence means that, access to timely funding from financial institutions, can make millions of unemployed African youth, to establish many small and medium enterprises, that has got the potential to turn into large scale industries, contributing to expanding of their countries’ economic and taxable base, but unfortunately lack of funding is their major constraint. To overcome this, African countries, must urgently put in place financial policy interventions, which unlocks the impasse that makes the youth, not to easily get timely funding to turn their entrepreneurship ideas into reality.

To attain this, activities such as establishment of an innovation and information labs that incubate new ideas and entrepreneurship, and scaling up establishment of well designed industrial parks complete with reliable power, access roads, guaranteed security, and other social amenities, which all stimulate private sector investments must be scaled up. These activities are very crucial in stimulating domestic investments and in attracting foreign direct investors, who are eager to come and massively invest in different sectors, to profit from the already existing large market driven by a high and skyrocketing population.

In sum, with abundance natural resources such as precious minerals, that are on high demand globally, and being home, to 60 percent of world’s arable land, coupled with expanding large market, Africa’s potential as destination of choice for investors is unquestionable. Virtually, all African sectors be it in, mining, oil and gas, agriculture, banking, among others, are very highly profitable for investors to invest in, either purely on private undertaking or through public private partnerships and investors must be genuinely and mutually interested in adding value to African products and create sustainable jobs that improves the welfare of Africa people.

*Moses Hetegeka is a Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer

Email: moseswiseman2000@gmail.com

 

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It’s about to get easier for almost 700 million Africans to travel by air in Africa
January 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Abdi Latif Dahir*

Defined by long delays and cancellations, limited connections, rickety planes, and dilapidated runways, flying across Africa can sometimes be quite inconvenient. The problem is also compounded by the restrictive regulations and protectionism that hinder intra-nation travel, leading African airlines to lose $800 million in 2016, according to the World Bank.

Yet some of those problems are set to become history when the Single African Air Travel Market (SAATM) is launched by the African Union (AU) in late January. As one of the AU’s pan-African Agenda 2063flagship projects, the plan aims to improve air connectivity in Africa and use air transportation as an engine for economic growth, job creation, and integration.

The idea is based on the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision, when African ministers responsible for civil aviation agreed to deregulate air services, put in place mechanisms for fair competition and dispute settlement, and liberalize frequencies and tariffs. As part of the agreement, countries would also free the exercise of up to fifth freedom rights for passengers and freight air services, allowing a carrier to fly between two countries on a flight originating or ending in its own country.

By setting this up, African nations hope to imitate and build on the single aviation markets in places like Europe and Latin America. The AU also hopes to encourage cross-border investment and innovation, improve business operations and efficiency, increased route competition resulting in lower fares, create more jobs, help airlines grow, and allow for the free mobility of people and goods.

So far, 21 countries that command more than 670 million of the continent’s population have committed to the plan. These include Benin, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone in the West; Kenya, and Rwanda in the East; Zimbabwe and South Africa in the south; and Egypt in the North. The single market is also host to eight of Africa’s top ten busiest airports including Bole International Airport in Ethiopia and O. R. Tambo in Johannesburg, South Africa. Up to 15 carriers, which account for more than 70% of intra-African air travel, have also signed up for the common market including Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, South African Express, and Egypt Air.

21 countries have-signed to the single african air transport market

21 countries have-signed to the single african air transport market

The move to liberalize air travel coincides with a push from African governments to open more borders and encourage inter-regional trade and tourism. Last year, Africans traveled more easily across the continent, and countries like Kenya, Namibia, and Ghana announced removing visa restrictions or granting visas on arrival. Local tourism in Kenya, Tunisia, and South Africa have also boosted domestic air travel, leading to the growth of budget carriers.

Yet despite the plan’s best intentions, African air travel still has a long way to go. Carriers like Kenya Airways or Nigeria’s Arik Air have struggled to make profit in recent years, plagued by debt or the results of a poorly timed expansion strategy. And unless more countries open up, government restrictions on visas and establishing air routes will continue hindering a potential five million Africans the chance to travel the continent, according to the International Air Transport Association. Air travel in nations like Somalia also have a long way to go before they can become fully integrated with the rest: after 27 years under the control of the United Nations, the country regained control of its airspace in Dec. 2017.

 **Courtesy of Quarz
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Africa startled by Trump’s sudden and vulgar attention
January 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

BY CARA ANNA*

U.S. President Donald Trump (3rd from L) poses with (L-R) Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, Guinea's President Alpha Conde, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, Vice-President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn for a photo after an expanded session at the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7 plus the European Union in Taormina, Sicily, on May 27. JONATHAN ERNST/AFP/GETTY

U.S. President Donald Trump (3rd from L) poses with (L-R) Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, Vice-President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn for a photo after an expanded session at the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7 plus the European Union in Taormina, Sicily, on May 27.
JONATHAN ERNST/AFP/GETTY

Africans woke up on Friday to find President Donald Trump had finally taken an interest in their continent. It wasn’t what people had hoped for.

Using vulgar language, Trump on Thursday questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa rather than places like Norway in rejecting a bipartisan immigration deal. On Friday he denied using that language.

The African Union continental body told The Associated Press it was “frankly alarmed” by Trump’s comments.

“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said. “This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.”

Some African governments quickly found themselves in an awkward position. As top recipients of U.S. aid, some hesitated to jeopardize it by criticizing Trump, especially as his administration has sought to slash foreign assistance.

“Unless it was specifically said about South Sudan, we have nothing to say,” South Sudan government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told The Associated Press.

But Botswana’s government called Trump’s comment “reprehensible and racist,” saying the U.S. ambassador had been summoned to clarify whether the nation is regarded as a “shithole” country after years of cordial relations.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress called Trump’s comments “extremely offensive,” while opposition leader Mmusi Maimane called them “abhorrent … The hatred of Obama’s roots now extends to an entire continent.” Uganda’s state minister for international relations, Henry Okello Oryem, called the remarks “unfortunate and regrettable” and said he hopes African heads of state will reply at an African Union summit later this month.

African media outlets and the continent’s young, increasingly connected population were not shy, with some tweeting sleek photos of African landscapes and urban areas with the hashtag #shithole.

“Well, that is the perfect definition of racism. That is all I have to say,” Kenyan entrepreneur Wangui Muraguri told the AP in response to Trump.

“Casual Friday at the White House is soon to include hoods and tiki torches at this rate,” South African media outlet Daily Maverick wrote.

Many on the world’s second most populous continent reached for their smartphones, long-practiced in defending the vast and varied region from easy stereotypes. While 40 percent of the world’s poor live in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the International Monetary Fund, the region also has billionaires, reality shows and a growing middle class.

The World Bank on Friday tweeted that sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth this year is forecast at 3.2 percent. That was the U.S. economy’s annual rate of growth from July through September, according to Commerce Department data late last month.

Some in Africa quickly decided to own Trump’s vulgar language or throw it back in his face.

“Good morning from the greatest most beautiful ‘shithole country’ in the world!!!” South African Broadcasting Corporation anchor Leanne Manas tweeted.

“As someone from South Shithole, Trevor is deeply offended by the president’s remarks,” The Daily Show tweeted of its South African-born host, Trevor Noah.

In Kenya, East Africa’s economic hub, political activist Boniface Mwangi pleaded: “Please don’t confuse the #shithole leaders we Africans elect with our beautiful continent.”

Trump’s comments were “shocking and shameful” and “I’m sorry, but there’s no other word one can use but racist,” said a spokesman for the U.N. human rights office, Rupert Colville.

Trump’s comments highlighted months of concerns about his lack of focus on Africa, including empty ambassadorial posts in key countries like South Africa, Egypt, Congo and Somalia. A list maintained by the Washington-based American Foreign Service Association says eight such posts are vacant.

Trump has expressed negative opinions about the continent in the past. “Every penny of the $7 billion going to Africa as per Obama will be stolen – corruption is rampant!” he tweeted in 2013.

The U.S. president is only hurting himself both at home and abroad, some Africans said.

“He has not only insulted Africans, he has also insulted African-Americans,” said Sylvester Odion Akhaine, associate professor of international relations at the Lagos State University in Nigeria. “Internationally, such language will deepen the isolation of the United States, a country that is already losing its global prestige.”

An opposition lawmaker in Ghana called for a boycott by developing countries against the United States until Trump leaves office. “The sooner he is made aware that America needs the world and the world needs America the better it is for all of us,” Ras Mubarak said.

As outrage spread, the U.S. government’s own Africa Media Hub tried to put out the flames.

Without directly referring to Trump’s statement, it tweeted that “US remains committed to working together w/Africans to realize the promise of a more peaceful, more productive, more prosperous 21st century Africa. US deeply respects the people of #Africa & values its partnerships with them.”

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Africa: Botswana Condemns Remarks Made by President Trump
January 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
Earl R. Miller, U.S. Ambassador to Botswana with President Khama

Earl R. Miller, U.S. Ambassador to Botswana with President Khama

The Ministry of International Affairs & Cooperation wishes to inform the public and the international community that the Government of Botswana, today summoned the US Ambassador to Botswana to express its displeasure at the alleged utterances made by the President of the US, Donald Trump, when he referred to African countries and others as “shithole countries” during a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House on Thursday 11 January 2018.

The Botswana Government has also enquired from the US Government through the Ambassador, to clarify if Botswana is regarded as a “shithole” country given that there are Botswana nationals residing in the US, and also that some of Batswana may wish to visit the US. The Government of Botswana is wondering why President Trump, must use this descriptor and derogatory word, when talking about countries with whom the US has had cordial and mutually beneficial bilateral relations for so many years.

Botswana has accepted US citizens within her borders over the years and continues to host US guests and senior government officials, including a Congressional delegation that will come to Botswana at the end of this month; that is why we view the utterances by the current American President as highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist.

Botswana calls on SADC, the AU and all other progressive nations across the world to strongly condemn the remarks made by President Trump.

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Nigerian baby born on migrant rescue ship inspires song for Eurovision contest
January 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
Baby Mercy and mother aboard migrant ship

Baby Mercy and mother aboard migrant ship

AN electro-pop song called “Mercy” by French duet Madame Monsieur is competing to represent France in the 63rd edition of the European song contest Eurovision in May. The piece tells the unique story of a toddler born on a rescue boat in the Mediterranean Sea.

“I am all those children taken by the sea”. There’s a stirring story behind the lyrics (originally in French) of this unreleased new song from Paris-based electro-pop band Madame Monsieur: one of a migrant baby born onboard a rescue ship a few months ago.

“Mercy is a positive song that intends to show that there’s always hope even when it all seems lost, as long as we keep a bit of humanity,” wrote duet’s Emilie Satt and Jean-Karl Lucas on their Facebook page on 1 January. They also proudly announced that the song was entering the competition to represent France in the famous European song contest Eurovision next May in Portugal.

Baby Mercy let out her first cry on 21 March 2017, on board the Aquarius. This humanitarian ship, operated by the two NGOs Doctors Without Borders and SOS Méditerranée, had just rescued 945 migrants and was about to dock at Catania’s port in Italy when the baby girl was welcomed to the world.

“What a memorable moment of emotion for the entire crew”, recalls French journalist Grégory Leclerc who was then reporting alongside the rescue team.

“Taiwo, her Nigerian mum, is doing well”, he said back then, adding that the captain of the Aquarius had signed the birth certificate himself “with great emotion.”

Births are quite unusual onboard rescue ships furrowing the Mediterranean sea. It was only the fourth one on the Aquarius, which started its operations in February 2016.

Mercy’s mother made the journey alone. As for her dad, he was still in a Libyan prison at the time of the birth. “We haven’t got any news since then”, said SOS Mediterranée on a Facebook post.

Madame Monsieur’s song will be fully unveiled late January on French TV. The band will be participating in a show to try to convince a jury and the public that Mercy has what it takes to win the European contest nest May in Portugal.

*African Courier/Real News

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