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Four African Organizations Named Finalists for $100,000 One Africa Award
November 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

The 2015 ONE Africa Award winner will be announced at a ceremony to be held in Accra, Ghana on 20 November 2015 as part of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Annual Governance Weekend 200The 2015 finalists for the annual $100,000 USD ONE Africa Award  were today announced by the ONE Campaign  in Johannesburg. These are: Africa!Ignite of South Africa; Community Link of Uganda; Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN) of Uganda; and The Global Shea Alliance of Ghana. For the last seven years, the ONE Campaign has recognized and promoted the innovative work of Africa-driven and Africa led advocacy efforts of those civil society organizations making on the ground progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the ONE Africa Award. The $100,000 USD annual prize awards and recognizes innovative African efforts to fight poverty and will incentivise many more of such efforts towards the attainment of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Nachilala Nkombo, Acting Africa Director at ONE applauded the work of the finalist organisations, and congratulated all of the 254 aspirants this year. “As we exit the MDGs and prepare to implement the new  SDG, this year’s finalists standout  as examples of the effective work African  organisations working  tirelessly  sometimes with limited resources across the continent to help their communities make progress in the fight against poverty and diseases. Be it  halving extreme poverty, empowering women, or ensuring environmental sustainability.  The response rate was  overwhelming. Our finalists represent some of the most innovative and results oriented development advocates in Africa, whose incredible work  will no doubt contribute to the attainment of SDGs in Africa by 2030,” she said. “At ONE we advocate for progressive policy solutions to African governments that promote economic opportunity and development, which are necessary to eradicate extreme poverty and preventable diseases in Africa. None of that would be possible without the indispensable role of indigenous African civil society organisations in accelerating the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. We are therefore proud to support and partner with local civil society organizations, and it is for this reason that we initiated the ONE Africa Award in 2008. By honouring the commitment and progress on the ground, we hope that new efforts can be inspired and we can collectively create a better future for all Africans. Today, I am honored to recognize and announce this year’s finalists,” Nkombo added. Previous winners of this prestigious award include Friends Africa of Kenya in 2014; Agricultural Non-State Actors Forum (ANSAF) of Tanzania in 2013; Positive-Generation (PG) of Cameroon in 2012; Groupe de Réflexion et d’action, Femme Démocratie et Dévelopement (GF2D) of Togo in 2011; SEND-Ghana of Ghana in 2010; Slums Information Development and Resources Centres (SIDAREC) of Kenya in 2009; and Development Communications Network (DEVCOMS) of Nigeria in 2008. *APO]]>

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Accra hosts Forth Conference for African Economists
November 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

H.E Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping H.E Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping[/caption] “Industrial Policy and Economic Performance in Africa” was at the center of discussion of the Fourth Congress of African Economists that kicked off on 16 November 2015 in Accra, Ghana, bringing together economists from the five regions of Africa and the Diaspora,  to exchange views on how to strengthen and encourage research on economic and policy issues related to the structural transformation and development of the African continent within the framework of the AU Agenda 20163. The Congress was opened by H.E Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping, Commissioner of Economic Affairs of the African Union, and H.E Hon. Mona Quartey, Deputy Minister of Finance of the Republic of Ghana. Commissioner Maruping underlined the pivotal role of industrialization in the quest for transformative growth.  He explained that, not so long ago, almost every speaker on African economies with the exception of a few, jumped on to a “bandwagon” chanting the refrain: “six out of ten fastest growing economies globally are in Africa”. According to the Commissioner, analysts put average growth rates at 4%+ seen as rising towards 5%+. The few that did not jump onto this bandwagon were viewed as pariah. Yet Africa has fifty four economies making six only eleven per cent. In addition, given that Africa is still home for over 30 least developed countries and several low middle income countries, all accompanied by rapidly growing populations, growth rates of between 4 and 5 per cent fell short of what would be required to achieve economic transformation sought. “Sustained growth rate of at least 7 per cent in real terms remains what is required to achieve sufficiently rapid socio-economic development. Coupled with diversification and inclusivity and equitable distribution of income and wealth, some resilience to external shocks would be attained and Africa would be set on the road towards poverty eradication. ….. Many African economies remain commodities based. They thrive during commodities price boom with multinationals engaged in extractive industry repatriating profits. GDP figures then look impressive but very little remains to permeate into the domestic economy.” Unlined Commissioner Maruping. Such economies, he said, experience setbacks when commodities prices fall. Hence the need to transform African economies ensuring diversification and value addition. “African economies are currently going through a rough patch. Demand for raw materials exports has sharply declined, commodities prices have dropped drastically, drought is adversely affecting agricultural production and hydro-electric power generation, thus exacerbating energy deficit. Unemployment rate is rising and incomes are declining. Poverty is rapidly rising. Tax bases are shrinking. Fiscal deficits are widening. Foreign exchange reserves are dwindling. Domestic borrowing has soared. External borrowing has been complicated by credit rating downgrades. Authorities in most cases are resorting to deep expenditure cuts affecting supply of necessities.” Commissioner further noted, adding that, there is definitely a dire need for a new strategy for African economies. “Business as usual is not an option. Agenda 2063 is that strategic framework”, he said. Minister Quartey who was addressing the Congress participants on behalf of H.E John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana, stressed that the meeting will not only be a unique and memorable experience, but will further contribute to the deepening of the knowledge on how to improve productivity and boost inclusive and sustainable growth in Africa through industrialization. The Minister recalled that, over the last decade, Africa has embarked in the transformative process of changing its destiny. “This process has been solid with sustained growth and a high degree of resilience against global economic turbulence”. Noted the Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Finance. She further pointed out that, the continent is home for some of the world fast growing economies returning more than seven per cent of annual economic growth. Ministers Quartey expressed satisfaction saying that “today, there are encouraging prospects for a strong and prosperous Africa that is free from extreme poverty”. Dr. Rene N’Guettia Kouassi, Director for Economic Affairs of the African Union moderated most of the sessions during the Congress. He set the context by recalling that on September 25th, 2015, the General Assembly (GA) adopted by acclamation Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development together with its 21 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. The Agenda also needs more than three hundred indicators for its assessment and follow-up.  He said statisticians are busy working on methodologies for quantifying attendant indicators and that Africa had contributed substantially to this outcome through her Common African Position on Post 2015 Development Agenda (CAP on P2015 DA). “Industrialization is a fundamental part of the African strategy towards inclusive growth and economic transformation for the next decade and beyond (AU, 2014). Indeed, at a time when countries of the continent are in search of new sources of economic growth to consolidate the gains of the last decade and move towards inclusive growth and sustainable development, attention to industrialization is more important than ever”. Noted Director Kouassi. The 2015 Congress of African Economists is an opportunity for researchers, policymakers and practitioners of economic policy and development in Africa and in the diaspora to contribute to the maturation of the debate on industrial policy strategy to implement with a view to boost African development and shift labor from lower to higher productivity sectors over the decades to come. The Congress also provided an opportunity for young African Economists in Africa and in the Diaspora to circulate their research findings as well as share information with African policymakers on industrial development of the continent. It has also enhance skill retention and use so as to propose African solutions to African problems.  . Worth recalling that, the First African Economists Congress was held from 2 to 5 March 2009 in Nairobi under the theme: “Towards the creation of the African single currency”. The Second Congress was held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from 24 to 26 November 2011 under the theme: ” How to achieve strong and sustainable economic growth in Africa, in order to reduce unemployment and support the dynamics of regional and continental integration” and the Third Congress was held in Dakar, Senegal from 6 to 8 March 2013 under the theme “Industrialization and economic emergence in Africa.” The current Congress featured sessions on developing capacities and skills for Africa’s industrial policy and structural transformation: past, present and future; the role of industrial policy in enhancing Africa’s economic performance; Comparative industrial policies: Lessons from other regions; Africa’s industrial policy in a challenging global context; Industrial policy as a catalyst of Africa’s regional integration; Constrains and opportunities for Africa ’s industrialization; Institutional and regulatory framework for industrial policy in Africa: the role of African states and the private sector; and Navigating contemporary challenges: Some policy options among others. The African Union invites partners to support this important Congress that hold every two years while thanking the ACBF for contributing to the successful organization of the 4th African Economists Congress. *APO]]>

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Airtel Africa and Facebook launch Free Basic Services in 17 African countries
November 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

Free Basic Services will provide access to services like health, educations, jobs, communication and local content at no additional cost Free Basic Services will provide access to services like health, educations, jobs, communication and local content at no additional cost The launch in all markets to be completed by March 2016 Bharti Airtel Africa , a leading telecommunications service provider with operations in 17 countries across Africa, today announced its partnership with Facebook  which will see the launch of Free Basics in Africa. 200Free Basics is a set of basic websites and services to introduce people to the internet and demonstrate how it adds value to their lives. They include providing free health, education and finance-related information to people in developing countries so that they can make informed choices and decisions to improve their lives. In the first phase, Free Basics will be launched in Airtel Nigeria, DRC, Gabon and Niger followed by other Airtel Africa markets. Customers with an Airtel mobile connection will be able to access all the services that form part of Free Basics without paying extra for data charges or rental. Commenting on the latest partnership with Facebook, Christian de Faria, MD and CEO of Airtel Africa said, “With Africa’s widest 3G network, Airtel has been at the forefront of the data revolution in Africa. We are cognizant of the power of internet in changing lives of communities and this partnership with Facebook will aid in bringing more people online and reduce the digital divide.” Airtel Africa had already been working with Facebook since 2014 in enhancing accessibility to the internet in an affordable manner through the launch of Free Basics in Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Seychelles and Rwanda. With the launch of Free Basics, these markets will also now have access to more free services and the Free Basics platform. Commenting on the launch, Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org said, “We are excited to continue our partnership with Airtel in bringing more people online. More than one billion people have access toInternet.org’s free basic services across Asia, Africa and Latin America today. Our intention is to help the people in Africa access relevant basic services that will help them improve their lives and also lead to more adoption of the internet.” “I am especially pleased to note that the platform encourages developers to create local content which helps customer’s access services in a language they understand and also keeping them connected online,” added Mr. Daniels. Airtel customers currently using the app and mobile website will be able to continue using the Android app, though it will now be called Free Basics by Facebook in Google Play. And the mobile web version, which will redirect from the previous URL, can be accessed at FreeBasics.com. *APO]]>

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Investing in low value minerals and materials for jobs boost in Africa
November 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

200The African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Minerals Development Centre hosted today the Africa launch of a new global programme to support small-scale miners, public institutions, and communities operating in the low value minerals and materials (LVMM) sector. The ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme is an initiative by the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, coordinated by the ACP Secretariat, financed by the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and implemented by UNDP. Africa’s strong economic growth, infrastructure boom, and rapid urbanisation are driving the demand of construction materials, dimension stones, industrial minerals and semi-precious stones. Estimates indicate that more than 8 million Africans are engaged in the sector, with women making up more than 40 percent of the workforce. “The African Mining Vision (AMV) represents the main continental vision of translating Africa’s mineral resources for economic growth and structural transformation of mining economies. It is noteworthy that Africa as a continent has been under-represented in mineral contributions to global value-chain output, specifically, its economic share in downstream mineral value addition”, said H. E. Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl, Commissioner for Trade and Industry, on behalf of H.E Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AUC. The Commissioner underlined that the AU’s Agenda 2063 sets a vision to “optimize the use of Africa’s resources to benefit all Africans.” The AMV adopted by the AU Heads of State in 2009, aims to harness the potential of artisanal and small scale mining to encourage local entrepreneurship and enhance socio-economic development. Yet, historically, little attention has been given to the LVMM sector and, particularly, to how it could be a sustainable activity. As a result, many LVMM policies are poorly designed or implemented, while miners lack access to the rights, financial services, market information, and technology they need. Pollution and land degradation resulting from small scale mining have also not been addressed. While so called ‘low value minerals’ may not generate the same attention as precious metals or base metals, their value lies in their potential to be minerals of development, boosting the livelihoods of millions people. With greater attention, policy support and regulatory oversight, LVMM could play a key role in driving Africa’s inclusive growth agenda. “Many ACP countries, African countries, have adopted policies, legislation and regulatory frameworks that place the LVMM subsector at the centre stage of development,” said H.E. Dr. Patrick I. Gomes, the Secretary General of the ACP Group of States. “These natural resources have the potential to increase income of vulnerable populations, create jobs for millions of people at the local level, and stimulate intra-Africa trade.” In Ethiopia, the cobblestone project, aimed to promote usage of local materials and community participation, has created 489,000 jobs and more than 2,202 kilometers of roads in 140 cities over the past five years, and in Angola, infrastructure-led spending reduced unemployment from 35 percent in 2006 to 26 percent in 2014. In this context, the ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme, aims to support the capacity development of key stakeholders in the sector such as regulatory agencies and local governments; private stakeholders including small-scale mining enterprises,  construction companies, mining and quarrying associations; as well as training centres, universities, civil society organizations and community groups. “Developing national capacity to better manage mineral resources and process them locally will enable African countries to channel their mineral wealth into reducing poverty, creating employment and increasing investments in infrastructure development for enhanced service delivery,” said Lebogang Motlana, Director of UNDP’s Regional Service Centre for Africa. “This will ultimately contribute to sustaining the higher level equitable development trajectory that  ensures  that no-one is left behind.” The new programme will focus on training and capacity building,  small grants and partnership development for upgrading value chains in LVMM, organization of public-private dialogues to strengthen these value chains, production of maps and databases on low-value minerals, and support to strengthening of regulations on environment, health and safety. “Creating shared welfare at local levels, calls for stronger partnerships,” noted Ambassador Gary Quince, Head of EU Delegation to the AU. “At the EU, we are proud to be part of this new programme which can help to boost inclusive and sustainable development, as well as resilient economic growth.” The new, regional initiative is part of an €13.1 million, three-year global programme which aims to support the LVMM sector in 40 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific by promoting knowledge exchange to increase the sector’s productivity, helping to manage mining operations to adhere to national and international environmental and health standards, and preventing conflict through effective community relations. It builds on UNDP’s broader work on extractives and it will be launched in the Pacific region in December 2015. The indicative African countries participating in the programme, include: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. *APO]]>

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Samuel Eto’o brings health promotion messages to West Africa
November 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

SE-1-255x300A FIFA delegation led by FIFA Chief Medical Officer Prof. Jiří Dvořák and supported by Cameroonian superstar Samuel Eto’o has just completed a visit to Sierra Leone and Ghana to experience first-hand the progress of FIFA’s health campaigns. One year after the emergency campaign “11 against Ebola” was launched in West Africa at the peak of the Ebola epidemic, FIFA is now introducing its longer-term health promotion campaign, “FIFA 11 for Health”, in Sierra Leone. The timing of the visit could not have been more symbolic with only three days to go until the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declares Sierra Leone Ebola‑free on 6 November 2015. Known for his social engagement and strong commitment to the African continent, Samuel Eto’o took the opportunity during his visit to Sierra Leone and Ghana to interact with vulnerable communities, especially children affected by the Ebola epidemic. As well as visiting the Grafton orphanage in Freetown, which takes care of very young children who have lost their entire families to the Ebola virus, Eto’o also went in to local schools in Sierra Leone and Ghana to communicate and promote the “FIFA 11 for Health” messages. fifa-11-5The four-time African footballer of the year was one of the first players to support the “FIFA 11 for Health” programme , which harnesses the power of football and scientific research to inspire girls and boys to lead healthy lifestyles. The programme seeks to improve children’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviour around vital health issues such as HIV, TB, malaria, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. It has been a success in more than 20 countries around the world since its introduction ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. After visiting several health projects in Freetown and Accra, Samuel Eto’o said: “I’m excited to be home in Africa and proud to see what my brothers in Sierra Leone have achieved in successfully fighting against the Ebola virus. Health is the most important thing in life, with health and a strong dream you can achieve anything in life. Football has an important role to play in educating young girls and boys to live a healthy lifestyle.” *FIFA/APO]]>

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STEM Education and African Development
November 4, 2015 | 2 Comments

By Dr Nkem Khumbah*

Dr Nkem Khumbah

Dr Nkem Khumbah

The current discussion of Africa’s heralded economic growth and rise as a world power is leading to increased optimism and self-confidence on the continent. The discussion has revolved around the need to strengthen its human capabilities to sustain such growth and ensure that the growth is accompanied by significantly less poverty and greater shared prosperity for the continent.

However, the foundations of the economic performance underlying this Africa rising phenomena are shallow. It has been predominantly based on the extraction of natural resources rather than an increase in productivity or expansion in economic sectors. Most African economies and societies continue to be dominated by the low-level processing of natural resources and the production of simple consumer goods for local consumption Their economies have remained substantially untransformed from the colonial phase of raw material production and export.

Over the last three decades, a global wave of market liberalization has produced an interconnected world economy that has brought unprecedented structural changes that have placed Nation’s abilities to master and utilize Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as key determinants of economic growth, development, and security.

In the 1960s and 1970s, many economies in South America –such as Argentina – enjoyed significant capital accumulation. But complacency and short-term approaches resulted in the failure to transition their economies to technological innovation as the basis for development.

At the same time countries such as South Korea, China, and Israel consciously decided to invest substantial government revenues in building world-class laboratories to support education and research in STEM, and to enable intellectual work and commercial exploitation of these subjects. After a generation of investment, they have seen enormous returns as evidenced by the growth of their STEM workforce, undergirding their emergence as major players in the global science-based economy. For example, Samsung of South Korea wields global prominence in electronics today, thanks to a workforce that includes over 40,000 engineers in Software development alone; China is able to leverage its large engineering workforce to establish its footprint in Africa, while some studies attribute between 50% and 85% of US GDP growth over the past 50 years to advancements in domestic science and engineering competencies.

As national  abilities to master and utilize science to produce technologies that enable innovation have increasingly assumed determinative influence on economic development, Africa’s failure to re-balance its educational offerings from humanities and social sciences, towards STEM subjects constitute the most serious challenge to its ability to sustain its current economic growth and be one of the world’s leading continents in manufacturing and exports.

Comparative indicators of how Africa lags behind other regions of the world in scientific productivity and knowledge systems abound[1]. Problems with higher education institutional infrastructure inputs—such as electricity and water supply, staff shortages and ever-increasing enrollments due to fast growing youth population, research infrastructure, weak governance and quality assurance, and the many material challenges to Higher Education Institutions in Africa – are also well documented.  Recent discourses about African Higher Education have tilted towards these material challenges, and less on the need to correct long-standing imbalances in the disciplinary offerings, to make up for long delays in developing STEM capabilities on the continent Even with prevailing challenges to Higher Education, Africa’s current stock of graduates with secondary- and tertiary-level skills is still highly skewed towards the humanities and social sciences, while the proportion of students in STEM averages less than 25 percent. After some 16 years of subsidized public education, these graduates face unemployment rates of up to 90% in some instances, while their countries continue to transfer major resources to expatriate countries for construction and maintenance of its public infrastructures because of the lack of   a competent domestic STEM workforce; and at the end, the continued lack of domestic expertise means African countries cannot maintain their own infrastructures or develop new industries, lest they bring back the expatriates at more cost. For example, Nigeria requires 51,000 more engineers in its electric power infrastructure than it currently produces.

Further, the increasingly technical nature of many public and private sector international negotiations on subjects pertinent to Africa’s development and security -–such as climate change, trade and finance– favors countries that use advanced scientific knowledge to inform their positions, further constraining Africa’s position in international affairs and trade.

African Political leadership has yet to embrace the STEM Education imperative for transforming African society with the enthusiasm it deserves; and policies aimed at addressing Africa’s long term prospects in STEM needs to be situated within a global context, to better appreciate all the actors and forces influencing its development, as well as the level of attention and effort required for meaningful progress.

Nations that have developed high technological capacities understand the importance of world-class STEM education all too well, and they are increasingly strengthening their scientists and STEM institutions to build strong reputations and compete for the best international students, faculty, and resources.  These countries have developed ever-stronger strategies for STEM education and research, as measured by their investment levels in these areas. They are also offering attractive opportunities, as employers worldwide are projected to face a shortage of over 85 million high- and medium-skilled STEM workers by 2020.

African leaders’ increasing vocal support for STEM on the international stage has provided a welcome and much-needed boost for science on the continent. However, the dangers of superficiality and short-term approaches threaten the sustained and long-term planning that is requisite for any meaningful transformation of the sector. Indeed, purposeful funding for science is either meager or absent in many African countries, while some non-Africa countries dedicate as much as 4% of their GDPs to scientific research (the average of top 40 national annual budgetary allocations to STEM R&Dis $40 Billion). The effect is a widening gap between Africa’ STEM progress and that of more advanced countries, thus exacerbating prevailing disparities in income and development, amidst Africa’s positive economic “performance.”

Heavy reliance on international expertise and funds results in STEM development in Africa being shaped mostly by international donor and bilateral and multilateral partnerships (e.g. US-based Foundations, the European Union–Africa Joint Strategy, the India–Africa Science and Technology Initiatives and the China–Africa Science and Technology Partnership). While these instruments bring much needed goodwill, expertise and finances in support of African development, with over half of all STEM funding coming from international partners, most of current implementation mechanisms are not structured to promote African ownership, accountability and sustainability.

The heavy influence of international agencies on STEM activity in Africa also tends to fragmentize inter-African research communities, with each of the sub-regions collaborating more with international partners and less with one another, as measured through their publications output. Inter-African collaborations (collaborations without any South-African or international collaborator) comprise just 2%, 0.9%, and 2.9% of all East   African, West & Central African, and Southern African total research output.

In contrast, 40% to 80% of African Regional STI publications are with external partners, with the majority in fields of most interest to international donors, such as Health and Agriculture. While these areas are of primary importance to Africa, heavy donor influence in these areas has also meant research and education activity in other complementary areas necessary to enable Africa develop a vibrant fundamental STEM space – such as frontier physics, mathematics and computer science—are neglected, or practically nonexistent. With its vast extractive resources and activity, there is hardly any activity in complementary Engineering disciplines, effectively depriving Africa from engaging in STEM research and knowledge systems that could derive from strategic advantages in associated extractive industries.

If Africa is to realize its aspirations contained in the African Union’s continental agenda 2063 and Science, Technology, Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA), its governments have to forcefully revitalize their higher education systems towards STEM Education, as the next – even pivotal— frontier in the continent’s historical evolution. It is the caliber of its university graduates in STEM fields that will produce and manage the knowledge that will give relevance to its other institutions – governance, trade, defense, agriculture, health, finance, energy and diplomacy. It is through a vitalized STEM Education that Africa may turn its increasing demographics into a dividend to enhance its democracies.

A way to start is for African nations and regional economic communities to establish STEM Education and Research Strategies. This will entail prescient and deliberate policies to identify and invest in select universities as national and continental assets ―perhaps their most potent assets, and as the most important ingredients in continental development objectives. The Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and its symbiotic relationship with the modern South Korean economy is exemplary.  The strategy may include investments to transform select Technical and Vocational Institutions into elite selective STEM-focused secondary schools that will train highly motivated and able students, and focus on preparing them for ambitious post secondary study and STEM careers.

Youth employability, development of a STEM workforce and industrial transformation together present common challenges, with implications for STEM education that can neither be fully defined nor addressed by the public policy sector, the university systems or the business sectors alone in isolation. These challenges are best addressed by the creation of appropriate and highly effective interface between government bodies that make policies, the university community that trains the workforce, and the business community that absorbs university graduates and translates research products into improvements of the economic and social sectors.

Policy makers are best positioned to institute such an interface as an ongoing convening of leadership from all three sectors – government, university, and industry – to dialogue candidly, co-define common problems and craft overarching solutions, and to commit these three communities to co-forge and co-champion execution of solutions to these common problems. Such a convening will serve to catalyze support and action across government, university, and industry to meet Africa’s critical science and technology needs for the much-desired science-led economic transformation and graduates employability.

While specific African STEM initiatives—such as networks and Centers of Excellence— enable important concrete development at varying levels of impact, the vitality, stature and utility of each STEM disciplinary enterprise  (such as Physics, computer science, Engineering, etc.) depends on the space it occupies on the regional spectrum of competing interests, respectability, and resource allocation in the Higher education sector.

*Original Article published in Africa Policy Review , Follow the author on twitter @NkemKhumbah

 

 

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Anzisha Prize announces esteemed judging panel for 2015 African youth entrepreneurship award
November 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Heba Gamal (EG), Sangu Delle (GH), Willy Mukiny Yav (DRC), George Bakka (UG) will be deliberating which of the Anzisha finalists walk away with a sum of $75,000 in prizes [caption id="attachment_22099" align="alignleft" width="300"]Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs[/caption] The Anzisha Prize  is pleased to announce a diverse, experienced and representative judging panel for the 2015 Anzisha Prize award for African youth entrepreneurs. The Prize has invited a panel of four experienced professionals from the both the business and social sectors who represent a holistic view of contributors to the dialogue around youth entrepreneurship in Africa. The judges’ experience stems from a diverse knowledge and experience base. The panel includes entrepreneurs at both an established and scaling stage, leaders from social and business sectors, contributors to the African business dialogue through media, and represents a cultural diversity that is relevant to and mirrors the youth entrepreneurs that they will be assessing. The finalists for the Anzisha Prize will pitch their ventures to the judges on Monday 16 November. The panel will consider each project on its own merits in responsiveness to a market opportunity or social need, ingenuity, scalability and impact. The grand prize-winner will be announced at a prestigious awards ceremony on Tuesday 17 November at Room Five in Rivonia, Johannesburg, South Africa. “It is essential that we encourage conversation and deliberation on the potential for youth to impact African economies through entrepreneurship in a multifaceted dialogue with cross-sector, cross-continent, cross-cultural contribution,” says Grace Kalisha, Senior Manager for the Anzisha Prize. “We are pleased and encouraged that such an esteemed panel would engage critically with our finalists for the Anzisha Prize this year.” The 2015 Anzisha Prize Awards Judges are: Heba Gamal, based in Egypt, an entrepreneurship and technology expert. She is the Managing Director of Endeavor Egypt, a non-profit organization focused on supporting high-impact entrepreneurs. Prior to Endeavor, Heba was managing search quality for the Middle East & North Africa at Google, Inc. Her international expertise spans Silicon Valley, India, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Heba has been a speaker at various conferences and summits about entrepreneurship, technology and women in leadership. The Anzisha prize welcomes her contribution to this year’s panel due to her social entrepreneurship focus, strong advocacy for the role of women in business, and North Africa experience. Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group. He has 21 years’ experience in communications specialising in African Markets. Having developed excellent high-level contacts within Africa, over the past 22 years, Willy has used these to become involved in developing numerous ventures in Africa. As a consequence he has expertise in modus operandi and business practice in both French and English speaking Africa and further developed a network of contacts in the upper political, business and social echelons.  Willy served as a judge for Anzisha in 2014 and enabled clear understanding of the francophone ventures for fair assessment. Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs.  Sangu is an entrepreneur, author, clean water activist, Soros Fellow and TEDGlobal Fellow. He is the Founder and Chief [caption id="attachment_22100" align="alignright" width="300"]Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group[/caption] Executive Officer of Golden Palm Investments (GPI); an investment holding and advisory company focused on building world class companies in Africa.  GPI operates companies in high growth industries and funds promising start-ups that can have social impact and generate jobs. GPI has backed startups such as SOLO Mobile in Nigeria, mPharma in Ghana and Stawi Foods in Kenya. George Bakka, Ugandan, is an Anzisha Fellow, inducted into the inaugural cohort of the Fellowship in 2011. As a scaling and widely celebrated youth entrepreneur, he epitomizes the journey that the finalists are embarking on. George is the Founder & CEO of Angels Initiatives. He is a serial pan-African entrepreneur passionate about building solutions and companies that catalyze growth in Africa. Some of the companies he has started include Angels Hub and Unreasonable EastAfrica. In addition to being an Anzisha Fellow, he is also an Acumen and Educate Fellow. The 12 finalists for Anzisha Prize were selected from an impressive initial pool of 494 young entrepreneurs, up from 339 applications in 2014. The Anzisha Prize is proud to have attracted applicants from 33 African countries, with finalists from Zimbabwe and Ethiopia identified for the first time this year. Applications were also received from a diversity of sectors, with agriculture having the most applicants. Now in its fifth year, The Anzisha Prize will be celebrating these outstanding young people during Global Entrepreneurship Week joining the worldwide festivities. Finalists for the Anzisha Prize win a share of US$75,000 and access to ongoing support to scale their enterprises and expand their impact. The Anzisha Prize team is running a social media campaign where members of the public can vote for their favourite entrepreneur and offer words of support and encouragement on the Anzisha website  and on Facebook. An award will be given to the finalist receiving the largest number of votes. The goal is to support them on their Anzisha journey and share their success stories with other youth.   The Anzisha Prize is delivered by African Leadership Academy in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Through the Anzisha Prize, the organisers seek to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship among youth across the continent. African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of entrepreneurial leaders who will work together to achieve extraordinary social impact. Each year, ALA brings together the most promising young leaders from all 54 African nations for a pre-university program in South Africa with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. ALA continues to cultivate these leaders throughout their lives, in university and beyond, by providing on-going leadership and entrepreneurial training and connecting them to high-impact networks of people and capital that can catalyse large-scale change. The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. *APO]]>

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I Am Optimistic About Ghana’s Future, Says Akufo-Addo
October 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

akufoaddo-heritage1-large1015The 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says he remains optimistic about Ghana’s future because, his government, God-willing in 2017, will take office with a clear programme aimed at the structural transformation of Ghana’s economy. With 77% of Ghana’s total export revenues in 2014 coming from gold, no different to the Guggisberg economy Ghana had in 1928, where 70% of our foreign exchange earnings were from gold, cocoa and timber, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that it comes as no surprise that “in Ghana we are so much poorer than we need to be.” Despite Ghana’s status as many people’s favourite African country, like other African societies, the NPP flagbearer explained that the current structure of Ghana’s economy offers limited opportunities for the masses. “One thing that Ghana, and Africa, must do is add value to the sale of raw materials and natural resources. We need to transform stagnant, jobless economies built on the export of raw materials and unrefined goods to value-added economies that provide jobs to build strong middle-class societies and lift people out of dire poverty,” he added. Nana Akufo-Addo made this known on Tuesday, October 20, when he delivering a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a leading Think Tank in Washington, on the theme “A Vision for Ghana and Africa” Addressing the gathering, comprising former senior White House officials, US ambassadors, CEOs of major corporations, and Steve Forbes of Forbes publications, the NPP flagbearer explained that the spectacular development of economies in East Asia was as a result of the modernisation of agriculture, a clear industrial policy, and the rationalisation of their respective financial sectors to support growth in agriculture, and growth in manufacturing and industry. “That is the way we can build a resilient economy ,” he maintained. Agriculture in particular, he said, must be modernised, with the help of government to bring about this economic transformation. “Over the border in Cote d’Ivoire, we are seeing a tremendous expansion of agricultural productivity. Today, the export value of products from Côte d’Ivoire – cashew, cotton, cocoa, oil palm and coffee – is $12bn a year. The same can happen in Ghana with our farmers,” he added. With Africa benefitting from “inward investment from the West and from major developing economies, particularly China”, Nana Akufo-Addo added that it is imperative “to put these investments to the right purpose, which is to develop our infrastructure for the long term, diversify the economy, and develop trade within the continent and within its regions.” The over-dependence on the export of raw materials, Nana Akufo-Addo added, has increased, stressing that “it is this dependence that feeds our dependence on foreign aid.  We cannot be doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.” In view of this, and with a clear programme of action for the industrialisation of Ghana – an economic transformation that touches every region of Ghana – Nana Akufo-Addo stated that he “remains optimistic about our future”, adding that “I am proud to be a Ghanaian.” In concluding, he told the gathering that Ghana welcomed “the vigilance, the advice and the assistance of all lovers of freedom as our country continues its journey to prosperity and modernity.” *Source nanaakufoaddo]]>

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I Was Scared Of Idris Elba’s Stature – Abraham Attah
October 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

story“I had seen him on TV, but I didn’t know his name. I was scared of him, because he was, like, very giant and I was small. So I was afraid of him, but after he played football with us on set, it became normal for me to work with him.” Abraham played the role of Agu, who when civil war engulfs his West African country is forced to join a unit of mercenary fighters. He won Marcello Mastroianni Award forBest Young Actor at Venice Film Festival 2015. Idris Elba played the commander of the mercenary unit. The movie directed by Award-winning Cary Fukunaga has premiered at a number of prestigious film festivals across the world. Based on the 2005 novel of the same title by Uzodinma Iweala, it was partly shot in Ghana and also stars Ama K. Abebrese, David Dontoh and Grace Omaboe. It will premiere today October 16 on Netflix and in selected theaters in the United States of America. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=p5N_3ki7cio#t=0   *Source Modern Ghana]]>

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AfDB President discusses role of agriculture in Africa’s transformation with Ghanaian Head of State
October 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

adesina-dramaniAfrican Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina paid a courtesy call on Ghana’s President, John Dramani Mahama, in Accra on Friday, October 16. Discussions centered on challenges and opportunities for development in the West African nation. Adesina and Mahama cited agriculture as the game changer, with the ability to create jobs for young people, while at the same time ensuring food security. The AfDB President was in Ghana alongside World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and other development partners ahead of End Poverty Day, on October 17, for the launch of the regional report “Poverty in a Rising Africa” in Jamestown, Accra. Adesina also participated in a “Shared Prosperity Forum” at the University of Ghana, alongside Kim; World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop; and Nigerian businessman and philanthropist Tony Elumelu. *Source AFDB]]>

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Lord Mayor of City of London Rt.Hon.Alan Yarrow to visit Ghana
October 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Lord Mayor of the City of London will be visiting Ghana with a delegation from the Financial & Professional Business Services from the City. [caption id="attachment_21485" align="alignleft" width="586"]Rt.Hon.Alan Yarrow Rt.Hon.Alan Yarrow[/caption] When I land in Accra this week, accompanied by a delegation of UK based financial and professional services firms, there will be one word that I will associate with the country of Ghana: opportunity. To the City of London firms that will be on the plane with me, to the thousands more found in the UK capital and across the rest of the country, the economic potential of Ghana is immense. What are these selling points? High up on the list is the strong economic growth trajectory (averaging over 6 per cent GDP), a favourable business environment a youthful, ambitious workforce, a legal system based on English Law and an awareness from the government that diversification of their economy is going to be essential in the years to come. It is on this last point where the City and the UK want to offer their expertise and experience and make sure that we are Ghana’s natural economic partner of choice. The good thing from our point of view is that we start from a strong footing. Diplomatically we already have excellent links and the benefit of strong political and historical ties, something I will be highlighting when meeting President John Mahama. Economically the situation is also similar. Ghana was the UK’s sixth largest export market in sub Saharan Africa in 2013 with bilateral trade worth over £1.3 billion. Some of our biggest financial and professional services firms have a considerable presence in the country – Prudential the insurer, Barclays and Standard Chartered banks, legal services firms like DLA Piper and Norton Rose and PWC, the accountancy firm, to name but a few. While this footprint is strong, the reality is that Ghana has areas of its economy where it can improve and we stand ready to provide that support. I mentioned earlier that the government is aware of the need to diversify its economy so it is not so exposed to external global shocks and fluctuations, particularly in the exports of gold, cocoa and oil. This is a real plus. As the country starts to reinvigorate its agriculture and manufacturing sectors and looks towards getting large public infrastructure projects off the ground, the City will be there as Ghana’s partner. Not just with capability studies but everything in the timelines of these projects from financing to delivery, getting the projects from architect’s blueprints to spades in the ground. Having spent over 40 years working in the capital markets sector of investment banking in London and overseas, I will also be discussing with government ministers, officials and regulators in the sector ways that the Ghanaian financial sector can grow. This is something that I will be raising in conversations with the Ministers of Finance, Public Private Partnerships and Power on Friday. I will also want to discuss capital markets and bonds when meeting Dr. Henry Kofi Wampah, Governor of the Bank of Ghana, and am particularly excited by the thought of adding to the panel discussion hosted by Barclays on the very same subject. While the market is becoming increasingly more sophisticated, there remain many hurdles to overcome – including competition for funds and high interest rates, that present unique challenges. We can advise on all areas of market developments, utilising UK professional services expertise. I will also be looking forward to visiting Prudential’s training facility at Darquah, seeing first-hand just how innovative companies are helping train their workforce of tomorrow. As Chairman of the globally renowned Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, I know just how education, training and qualifications (ETQ) are key ingredients of a successful economy. They can help upskill the domestic workforce, facilitating the development of the financial and professional services industry and equipping the economy with a deep pool of talented, qualified and knowledgeable employees. Greater cooperation in qualification programmes, particularly in the fields of insurance, accountancy and actuary, are something I will be championing this week. Just as Ghana is a regional hub for other economic opportunities in West African markets, the UK is also the gateway for trade with continental Europe and beyond. As I said earlier, Ghana is a land of opportunity and I will do my utmost to make sure that the UK capitalises on this and strengthens the financial ties between our two nations. I want all of Ghana, when they do business overseas, tie up commercial partnership and export abroad, to be thinking of the UK as the first port of call. That is the yard stick as to how successful my visit this week will be judged and whether or not we seize this opportunity that the economy of Ghana now presents. *APO]]>

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Military Coups See Beginning of Their End in Africa
October 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

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A woman walks past a wall with graffiti reading "Justice for the economic crimes" in Ouagadougou on October 1, 2015. General Gilbert Diendere, the leader of Burkina Faso's short-lived coup, was in police custody on October 1, a security source told AFP.  AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOU        (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman walks past a wall with graffiti reading “Justice for the economic crimes” in Ouagadougou on October 1, 2015. General Gilbert Diendere, the leader of Burkina Faso’s short-lived coup, was in police custody on October 1, a security source told AFP. AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)

The land of the upright man – the literal meaning of the West African country of Burkina Faso – has been in the spotlight lately for all the wrong reasons. A year ago, a popular uprising forced its long-term leader, Blaise Compaoré, out of office after close to three decades in power. The political crisis began when Mr. Compaoré attempted to change the constitution in order to stay in power, as he has successfully done on several previous occasions. He fled and found refuge in neighboring Ivory Coast.

A new transitional government was put in place and normalcy seemed to be returning. Then came General Gilbert Diendéré, a former army chief of staff and protégé of Mr. Compaoré and the head of the elite army unit of Presidential Guard, who attempted a short-lived coup d’état last month. He has just surrendered and is now in custody, and the transitional government is back running the business of government.

No one could have predicted that within six days, Mr. Diendéré’s coup attempt would be foiled. A combination of popular opposition, regional pressure and a strong opposition from the regular army defied Mr. Diendéré and his men until they backed down, with little bloodbath. The question is whether this is a unique Burkina Faso experiment or something of a new normal in Africa. New coup plotters aren’t finding acceptance on the continent as easy as their predecessors once did. It is becoming increasingly difficult for a coup d’etat to succeed in Africa.

During the cold war era, coup d’états were an attractive means of taking control of the state apparatus and gaining power in the developing world. Times have changed since as the quest for strong institutions has spread and taken roots around the world.

From 1970 to 1989, according to a study by the African Development Bank, there were 99 coup attempts in Sub-Saharan Africa. But from 1990 to 2010, the region witnessed 67 coup attempts, still a high occurrence in comparison to the rest of the world, but nonetheless a decrease of about one third in two decades. A combination of three main factors explains why it is becoming more difficult for coup leaders to succeed or for strongmen to play with their countries’ constitutions on the continent.

The first is the rise of a new generation of Africans, particularly young people and the burgeoning middle class. Africa is the world’s youngest continent, with more than half of the population below the age of 25 and a growing population projected to double to two billion by 2050. These young people, who are largely unemployed or underemployed, are frustrated and outspoken about the plight of their countries and the slow pace of change, and are eager to challenge their leaders. This is putting pressure on leaders to deliver on their promises to improve people’s living conditions or face the furor of netizens. At the same time, there is a small but steadily growing middle class, ever more eager for accountability, fairness, freedom and respect of rights. This breed of Africans is inspiring new grassroots movements and civil society organizations to fight attempts to deny people their constitutional rights.

This is what happened in Senegal with “Y’en a Marre”, which means “Fed Up”, a group of Senegalese rappers and journalists who mobilized young people in 2011 to protest ineffective government. The following year they helped prevent the former president Abdoulaye Wade from changing the Constitution in order to allow himself a bid for re-election. A similar group, the “Balai Citoyen“, played a key role in the fall from power of Mr. Compaoré last year, and again mobilized young people and citizens in mass protest against the coup leader two weeks ago.

The second factor is the “changed” international environment. During the cold war era, when coup d’états were frequent, foreign interests were to a certain extent factors in supporting or abetting many of the coups d’états in Africa. Interference in the domestic affairs of African states was common and deemed important to maintain an international balance of power, and access to cheap raw materials. Since the end of the cold war, the world is a more complex place. The bipolar world with its divergent interests became something of the past and the top-down unipolar world in the post-cold-war era is ending. Military coups are no longer an attractive international activity to shape internal affairs of smaller, poorer countries.

The third factor is the pressure from the African Union and regional organizations like The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well the international community, to not only condemn in words but also place sanctions on individuals responsible of overthrowing democratically elected governments. More than ever, those organizations are vigorously setting in place rules and regulations against any form of unconstitutional change of government, including military coup attempts.

In the case of Burkina Faso, the African Union condemned the coup in the strongest possible terms and immediately suspended Burkina Faso and threatened to impose drastic sanctions within 96 hours if civilian rule wasn’t re-instated. And following the Senegalese President Macky Sall’s unpopular deal to end the crisis, the heads of states of ECOWAS member states met in Abuja and took a clear position to support the people of Burkina Faso. They called for the coup leader to disarm and return power back to the transitional government. The same organization took a stand against coup leaders Dadis Camara in Guinea in December 2008 and Moussa Sanogo of Mali in March 2012.

These forces are making it harder and harder to mount a successful military coup against a legitimate government. It might not yet be the end of military coup d’états in Africa but coup plotters are sure to be challenged from many fronts. Democracy is never smooth sailing. The good thing for the rest of the continent is that ideas are contagious. Burkina Faso has just set a good example.

*Source Huffington Post.Co-author Bernard Zongo is a consultant in international development and the founding member of the “Collectif Tekre”, a group of Burkinabè artists and movie producers in the United States that supports a peaceful political transition in Burkina Faso. He holds a M.A. in International Affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

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