Liberated Africa: Pathways to Self-Transformational Development
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ehiedu Iweriebor*
NEW YORK, United States of America, March 13, 2017/ — In the period since independence in the 1950s, Africa has undergone profound social, cultural, economic and political changes. Some inherited and historically rootless colonialist political and social systems have collapsed, been transcended and reconstituted. Different political systems – single party rule, personal rule and military governments have come and gone. New post-independence political and social systems; economic institutions, professional associations and labour unions, various types – traditional and new and varied cultural expressions have all emerged. Creative efforts to foster effective nation-building, develop a sense of belonging and manage diversity productively have also been made. New political systems, different forms of electoral democracy and democratic government; political parties and groups, varied social and intelligentsia organizations, confident youth groups, civil society organizations are also emerging. Disruptive and traumatic political and social crises have occurred. These include civil wars, secessionist wars, famines, elite generated manipulative ethnicity and deadly intergroup conflicts, and recently home grown and imported religious terrorism and their destructive wars, spectacular damaging actions, the creation of refugees and internally displaced peoples and the generation of general feelings of insecurity.
Social development institutions like health and educational facilities that barely existed under colonialism have been built. For example, vast numbers of schools at all levels including universities and other tertiary institutions – conventional and specialized have been established and dot various parts of Africa. They have produced millions of educated Africans as never existed before in African history. New physical infrastructures: roads, railways, water ways and airports have been built. This is a rough profile of profound changes in Africa since the 1950s.
However, given Africa’s size and vast unmet human, social and economic needs there is no question that substantial as what has been built is, the extant physical and social infrastructures are not adequate or abundant enough.
At the same time, it is quite clear that the physical and social landscapes of Africa today are vastly different from what they were 60 years ago such that it is unlikely that people from those times will recognize Africa of today.
Yet it is also true that there are some aspects of African realities that have not changed substantively or for the better during this period because Africa did not regain, recover or assert its ownership and use of its autonomous self-direction capacities in some spheres over the past six decades. These are primarily in the areas of economic sovereignty, development capacitation, self-actuated development and ideological self-direction. This failure is manifested in such conditions as persistent underdevelopment, the pre-eminence of primary commodities production and export in its economic interactions with the world, import dependency, development incapacitation and poverty generation. It is also manifested in Africa’s ideological subordination to external diktat through the acceptance and implementation of the economic management dogmas and prescriptions of the multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank, IMF and similar bilateral external agencies. These prescribed non-development dogmas include: privatization, deregulation and African states self-withdrawal from promoting socio-economic development and the simultaneous promotion of the ascendancy of “MARKET FORCES, FOREIGN INVESTORS, FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS and FOREIGN TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER ” as the primary and indispensable engines of African economic growth.
The forceful application of these disempowering dogmas through the active complicity of psychologically programmed and ideologically defeated African leaders and elite over the past three decades has yielded or in fact consolidated Africa in its status as under- developed, under-equipped and incapable of development self-propulsion. With African economies arrested in primary commodity export and the mass importation of manufactured goods they are mired in the same exocentric rut and this inevitably results in the export of jobs and import of poverty, therefore recurrent poverty-generation.
This condition and its persistence over this period suggest that IT CANNOT BE RESOLVED WITHIN ITSELF. It has to be transcended by African strategies of psycho-cultural recovery and development capacitation. Psycho-cultural recovery will entail the self-conscious efforts of liberated Africans to peel off the layers of self-deceit, self-delusion, psycho-ideological incapacitation, diminution of African self-worth, self-marginalization of African agency in African development. It would also require the expurgation from African leaderships and elite of their worshipful dependence on outsiders and preference for all things foreign including pre-fabricated solutions that have been introduced into Africa as dogmas of disempowerment and mechanisms of control from the slave trade era to the present. In its various incarnations, African disempowerment was partially procured through various seemingly neutral but ultimately destructive external ideological constructs such as “Christianization”, “Islamization”; European “Civilization” during the colonial era; “Modernization” in the neo-colonial period after independence and its latest expression, as multilateral imperialist “globalism” and dictatorial globalization that ideologically and politically dictates a single, global capitalist and liberal democratic system as the only “approved” economic, political and social and order for all times. This would be composite world of the rich and powerful, and the weak and powerless with Africa at the top.
But all these disempowering political, social, cultural and economic constructs and systems of domination were politically and self-consciously created by organized and mission-driven national and racial elites pursuing the objectives of group ascendancy and global domination. They are not divine constructs imposed on the world. In the same way, liberated Africans can self-consciously choose and work to exit from this state of UNFREEDOM AND INDIGNITY by dismantling and reconstituting the extant world order (as Asians have done) and chose to create and enter the realms of FREEDOM AND SELF-DIRECTION through development capacitation, psychological liberation, cultural recuperation, mental freedom and self-actuated development so as to emerge as powerful participants in the world system as actors not subjects. This is the liberatory imperative.
In order for Africa to assume responsibility for its own transformation and elevation, and be able to undertake self-reliant development and create secure domestic prosperity, it has to create its own specific ideology and strategy of self-development. To do this there are a number of irreducible components that have to be designed and put in place. These are: the recovery and application of African agency in African development, the creation of the liberated African state, establishment of an African development capacitation system, the creation and dissemination of the Affirmative Africa Narrative and African comprehensive military empowerment.
The Centrality of African Agency in African Development
The first requirement of this liberated development strategy and process is the emplacement of African Agency at the centre of African thought and action as the primary psycho-cultural foundation, ideological premise and endogenous propellant for Africa’s self-actuated development. In this context African Agency is the endogenously created psycho-cultural software embedded in societies with which African societies train, organize, motivate, self-activate and direct themselves to accomplish desirable ends individually and collectively. It is the absolute psycho-cultural grounding and ideological ownership of the African project devoid of compromises to any external imperatives. African Agency is grounded on the supremacy of African endocentric thought and motive-forces as the propellants of development as a self-directed imperative.
Without contemporary Africans’ psychological internalization of this understanding and ownership of their development vision and their assumption of complete responsibility for self-actuated development, African societies will remain dependent, underdeveloped and insecure. Therefore the new liberated Africa vision must recognize the absolute necessity of the restoration of African Agency to primacy for any successful African actuated process of transformation. This new perspective is critically important because it has to be realized that one of the major challenges and primary impediment to Africa’s development since independence in the 1960s has been the absence of African Agency in African development as the directive force. This was due to the concerted and largely successful efforts of external multilateral imperialist forces (posing as omniscient advisers) working with psycho-ideologically unprepared and even naive African collaborator-leaders to promote exocentric authority and the corresponding marginalization, diminution and de-activation of African Agency in African development. Consequently, without the unquestioned ascendancy, centrality and directive role of African Agency, African development understood as Africans’ self-equipment for total liberation and radical transformation can never occur.
The Liberated African State
Second, is the imperative of the creation of a new Liberated African State through the rigorous ideological cleansing, psychological re-empowerment and administrative reconstruction of the contemporary politically compromised and disabled neo-colonial African states that are more representative of external forces than national interests.
The decolonization of the colonial African state and the evolution and emergence of the liberated state after independence was disrupted in the 1980s when most African states were captured and disabled by the cancerous ideologies, dogmas and prescriptions of the multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank and the IMF and their bilateral supporters in the context of the economic crises of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Embodied in various formulations and policy diktats such as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), and its unvarying conditionalities: currency devaluation, subsidy removal, trade liberalization and others like deregulation, privatization, poverty reduction; these prescriptions have transformed African states into disabled, compromised, neo-colonial political-administrative contraptions that are responsible to neo-imperialist multilateral institutions and not to Africans. They therefore cannot serve Africa’s interests
This is why it is imperative to create the new Liberated African state. It will be a strong and interventionist developmental state. Its raison d’ etre would be the representation and promotion of national interests. This Liberated African state will be grounded on the affirmation and militant expression of its untrammeled sovereignty; and the absolute non-compromise of national interests to any external agencies, formulations, dogmas and imperatives. It would self-consciously assume and assert uncontested ideological ascendancy. In fact the new liberated state will represent the completion of the decolonization of the African states and the emergence of truly endogenous states. It is only such Liberated African developmental states that can lead to the realization of the African citizens’ expectations for defence and protection, advanced development, material prosperity and freedom from want and colonialist philanthropy, psychological security and empowerment, dignity and equity with all other groups in the world.
The African Development Capacitation System
The third critical requirement is the development and placement of an African Development Capacitation System as the primary motive-force for Africa’s social and economic transformation and creation of advanced societies. This is proposed against the background of the complete failure of the extant neo-colonial economic system inherited and maintained from colonialism. In over five decades of its use and application as the dominant economic management system and growth strategy it has yielded and maintained Africa in a state of development incapacitation, primary commodity exportation, secondary goods importation, dependency, poverty generation, incapacity for self-propulsion, and subjection to the diktat and control of multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank and IMF. It is quite clear that the extant exocentric economic system with its development motive forces externally situated is organically defective, un-reformable and inherently incapable of propelling Africa to the highest levels of development.
Therefore in order for Africa to develop and achieve the highest levels of human development it has to own the instruments and systems of self-actuated development. This perspective is partly based on this author’s succinct definition of Development – as a society’s self-equipment with the resources and capacities for its self-reproduction. Consequently, the African Development Capacitation system is the creation and existence within all African societies of the endogenous capacities to conceive, design, construct, manage and operate projects in ALL sectors of the economy. These include the technological, scientific, managerial and operational capabilities for all facets of modern industrial and agricultural production and development self-propulsion.
Practically, the components of the development capacitation system include the domestic possession and ownership of the following capacities: Project Conception and Design capabilities; Technological Production Capacity or Capital Goods Industries comprising : Engineering Industries for the manufacture of all types and levels of machine tools, industrial machinery and equipment, transport equipment, electrical and power equipment; electronic and professional tools and equipment. Intermediate Goods Industries (Metals, Heavy Chemicals, Petrochemicals, Paper, Rubber etc); Civil Engineering Construction Capabilities for large, medium and small scale projects; and Project management and operation and supervision Capabilities.
This endogenous development capacitation system is found in all successful global examples of societal self-development as the prime movers of any society’s self-actuated transformation from conditions of UN-FREEDOM: material underdevelopment, mass poverty, indignity and colonialist philanthropy to new empowered conditions of FREEDOM: expressed as self-created material abundance and prosperity, psycho-cultural confidence and dignified existence. This is practically expressed in mass industrialization, modernized mass agricultural production, mass mineral exploitation and beneficiation primarily for domestic use; mass employment, mass prosperity generation; cultural elevation, self-actuation, self-agency, human dignity and societal power. This is in effect the enthronement of the strategy and process of endocentricity and its ineluctable creation and production of a state of development.
The Affirmative Africa Narrative
The fourth basic requirement is the creation and permanent dissemination of a self-elevating paradigm or narrative to be known as the Affirmative Africa Narrative. Currently there is no global African created narrative that conceives, presents, projects and widely propagates a truthful, complex and elevating narrative of Africa and Africans. In its absence there exists a universal externally fabricated, pervasive and routinely propagated perverse perspective on Africa that I describe as the Pathological Africa Narrative. This narrative which evolved from the era of the European slave trade; was expansively propagated and consolidated during colonialism and has been fine-tuned and expanded since independence to the present to include other foreign propagators like Asians and even Africans. It presents an image and impression; perception and narrative of Africa as a world of deficits, lack, deprivation, absence, danger, disease, inaction, native incapacity, immobility and a basket charity case that is rescueable only by the self-assigned salvationary efforts of Western multilateral imperialist agencies – World Bank and IMF – their dogmas, experts and prescriptions. This Pathological Africa Narrative is not only inaccurate but it is also dangerous and damaging as it represents the software of African self-denigration, servility, surrender and incapacitation.
In order to pursue the vision of liberated Africa it is imperative to create and propagate the Affirmative Africa Narrative. This would be a robust and unapologetic statement of African accomplishments in all areas of human endeavor since independence despite all internal and external obstacles. It would provide the psychological props and grounding among Africans for their self-representation. The Affirmative Africa Narrative is intended to confront, combat, degrade, pulverize, defeat, eliminate and replace the Pathological Africa Narrative that currently pervades external and internal descriptions and representations of Africa and Africans. In its place, the Affirmative Africa Narrative should become the primary perceptual representation and imagistic projection of an energetic and boundless; resurgent and self-directed Africa.
Consequently, for Africans committed to racial upliftment and continental advancement and empowerment embodied in the new liberated Africa vision, the requisite framework of self-representation, self-projection and self-activation is the Affirmative Africa Narrative. This is thus a necessary and indispensable accompaniment and organic adjunct to the determined pursuit of the liberated African vision and mission.
The Imperative of African Military Empowerment
A fifth requirement of the liberated Africa vision is the imperative of Africa’s military empowerment through deliberate provisions for continent-wide development of military capabilities. In order to meet the defence needs of a self-conscious people and continent determined to assume responsibility for its own self-advancement, self-protection, self-projection and emergence as a powerful and dynamic participant in global affairs, two range of actions are minimally imperative.
First is the establishment and development of military industries throughout Africa to ensure that virtually all military equipment from the most basic to the most advanced are manufactured (not assembled) in Africa. This is will free Africa from its current pathetic situation of dependency for military wares from the countries which participated in the past in Africa’s conquest and colonization as well as from new armament producers and traders. To be militarily none self-equipped and self-reliant is to reside in a state of UNFREEDOM.
The second aspect of African military empowerment is the revival, re-steaming and realization of the long-standing grand visions from the 1960s for continental defence institutions and systems. The founding nationalist and pan Africanist leaders of the 1960s and 1970s, had canvassed and proposed the development a comprehensive continental military defence system. This is was to be known as the African Military High Command. These pioneer leaders envisaged it as a powerful continental defence force for self-protection, internal security issues, intra-continental intervention, conflict resolution, contributions to continental and global peace keeping and management as needed and as a force of self-projection that announces Africa’s global presence. It would also be responsible for the security of African geo-political and oceanic spaces against foreign powers desirous of containing, controlling and constraining Africa by the establishment of their military cordon around the continent.
The over-all rationale for the prescription of Africa’s military empowerment is due to the historical purblindness and psychological incapacitation of African leaderships and dominant elite since independence. In the light of the rapid conquest, colonization and exploitation of African communities after the Berlin Conference between the 1880s-1900s, self-conscious Africans should never have the luxury of forgetting that Africa was conquered primarily because of Western military superiority in arms and armaments. Thus it would seem minimally patriotic, psychologically imperative, behaviourially logical and eminently sensible that such a people and continent should give premium attention to the establishment of a powerful military capacity for defence and offense as indicated by its historical experiences and new status as sovereign states.
Therefore a fulsome strategy for African military self-equipment and a powerful and expansive African Military High Command should be developed and incorporated as part of the liberated development strategy to equip Africa to defend, protect and project itself and to play a dynamic role in global affairs.
The various elements outlined above constitute a new strategy and process of endocentric development or African Liberated Development and their application would produce Liberated Africa. This Africa would be truly self-made: developmentally transformed, ideologically self-directed, politically stable, technologically advanced, industrially developed, socially prosperous, culturally renascent, psychologically assertive, militarily powerful, a globally ascendant continent with self-restored human dignity, an Africa of which all Africans will be duly proud.
*Ehiedu Iweriebor, Ph.d (Columbia) is a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA.
The 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS Recognise Business Leaders and Companies that Shaped the Year in Africa
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
‘Wind of change blowing in African football’
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Piers Edwards*
“It’s time we introduce a new regime,” says Liberian Football Association president Musa Bility ahead of what has been described as the most important Confederation of African Football elections for almost three decades.
African football goes to the polls on Thursday to choose a new Caf president and for the first time since he came to power in 1988, incumbent Issa Hayatou faces a serious challenge.
Only twice before has the Cameroonian run against another candidate and he swept aside both with ease: Angola’s Armando Machado in 2000 (by 47 votes to 4) and Ismail Bhamjee of Botswana in 2004 (46-6).
Bility, who has long been a thorn in Caf’s side after speaking out on several issues, told BBC Sport. “The reality is that football has come to be more active, more democratic, more involving – and we have to do that.
“We have to follow the path of the rest of the world, as Africa cannot afford to be left behind. I believe that Africa is ready for change. This is the first time in the history of (Hayatou’s) Caf that there is a real and possible challenge to the leadership.”
Under the 70-year-old Haytou’s control, African football has changed immensely.
He has, among several measures, overseen the expansion of the Africa Cup of Nations from eight teams to 16, the increase in the number of Africa’s World Cup representatives (from two to five), remodelling and financially boosting club competitions as well as greatly boosting Caf’s finances.
The 2007 introduction of the African Nations Championship, which is like the Nations Cup but only using footballers who play in their domestic league, has proved very popular while it was also on the Cameroonian’s watch that Africa staged its first World Cup in 2010 (in South Africa).
Despite the myriad achievements, Bility believes time is up for veteran Hayatou and that a new leader should steer African football into the future.
He believes Ahmad, who outlined a desire for improved governance, with a commitment to increased transparency and reinvestment in his manifesto, is the right man.
“He’s presented a programme to all 54 countries – I’ve never seen this before,” added Bility.
“Normally, we go to elections and there are no promises. There is nothing to hold the president against. This time around, we have a guy who is running on something we can hold him to.
“The other candidate (Hayatou) does not care to give a programme. He just goes through election after election, acclamation after acclamation. There is no promise made to us, therefore there are no obligations nor broken promises. This is what we need to change.”
With Hayatou’s critics saying he runs African football with an iron fist while relying on a handful of close advisers, Bility believes Caf will benefit from different personnel and fresh ideas.
“It’s not to say that Hayatou has not done much for Africa – African football has come of age – it’s to say that there is no way that you can keep an individual in authority for over 29 years. There is nothing new expected,” he claimed.
“Ahmad is from a country that is struggling to develop football. He understands the difficulties we go through as presidents.”
The southern African football region Cosafa, which encompasses Madagascar, has said it will vote for Ahmad – which accounts for 14 votes (a tally that might be less given Comoros has offered its vote to Hayatou) – while Nigeria and Djibouti have also publicly backed the Malagasy.
Nigeria’s federation president Amaju Pinnick told BBC Sport he believes there is a need to change the “tiny cabal” that runs Caf, so echoing Ahmad who spoke of the need to reconcile the African football family in his manifesto.
There is also a need to repair relations with Fifa, which frayed after Caf instructed all its members to vote for Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman in the football’s world governing body’s February 2016 elections.
When Gianni Infantino assumed the Fifa presidency instead, Caf was left exposed.
“You can see clearly that Caf and Fifa are not moving in the same direction,” says Bility.
“If President Hayatou wins, there will be rancour and I would foresee a period of uncertainty.”
Despite his desire to see Hayatou replaced, Bility is adamant the Cameroonian should be afforded a befitting send-off.
“We’d like to see President Hayatou retire honourably. We’d like to thank him for everything he has done for African football. We want to respect and make sure his time is recorded in history – with due honour given,” he said.
“But at the same time we want to move forward to a new development and a new generation of leaders. This is not a campaign in which we are going to get involved in mud-slinging and bad-mouthing – we just want change.”
Africa theme park stakeholders to gain from ‘DEAL 2017’: International Expo Consults (IEC)
March 13, 2017 | 0 Comments
|Growing theme parks to reap profits from the amusement exhibition to be held at Dubai World Trade Centre this month|
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 12, 2017/ — The African stakeholders of the theme park industry will stand to benefit from the largest show in the amusement industry – DEAL 2017 , as per International Expo Consults, the organisers of the show. With people patronizing theme parks across Africa and the growth of the amusement sector in the region, shows like DEAL can help the stakeholders of the amusement and leisure industry to come under one roof and discover the best kept secrets of the industry.
Tourism in Africa is booming as reports which state that in 2014, 65.3 million international tourists visited the continent – around 200,000 more than in 2013 . The numbers were meagre in 1990’s where the recorded number was 17.4 million. The tourism sector has leaped and boomed in size thanks to the infrastructure projects undertaken by government entities. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Africa’s strong performance in 2014 makes it one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia.
Amusement parks in Africa offer more than fun as they induce historical and educational attractions to engage the whole family in unlimited immersive fun. Parks in Africa are known to inculcate fun mixed with learning. Most of the rides include looping rollercoaster rides, bumper cars, and exciting wildlife centered shows to historical attractions which form the base enabling a plethora of entertainment activities for all age groups.
“DEAL 2017 is at the right juncture as it will help African investors to catapult their business to the next area of growth. DEAL has been supporting the industry and its stakeholders, year on year and has grown from strength to strength. This is the only show in the Middle East and Africa region to provide stakeholders with several billion dollar opportunities. International Expo Consults, the organizers of the DEAL show are set to welcome African exhibitors and trade visitors to one of the colossal shows in the amusement vertical in the MENA Region,” said Mr. Sharif Rahman, CEO, IEC.
The Dubai Entertainment Amusement and Leisure (DEAL) show has shaped the region’s entertainment industry for the past two decades and it has brought together great minds and their world class innovations all under one umbrella. DEAL has led the amusement and entertainment space during this period and the testimony to this is the fact that exhibitors at DEAL 2016 have signed multi-million dollar contracts in just 3 days. Foraying into the 23rd edition, DEAL 2017 expects to witness an even larger gathering of key players and visitors in the amusement industry from Middle East, US, Mediterranean, Asian, and especially African countries.
DEAL, since its inception in 1995 has developed into an unparalleled platform that gathers exhibitors, buyers, and professionals from the international amusement and entertainment industry. DEAL is the region’s most anticipated and leading attraction for global and local stakeholders in the amusement and entertainment industries. The show is slated to be held from 27th – 29th March 2017 at Halls 1, 2, 3 & 4 at the iconic Dubai World Trade Centre.
“Developments in the region with regards to entertainment and leisure are seen to be believed and the outcomes are very encouraging. Entertainment and leisure projects within the MENA region have boosted the confidence of the amusement and leisure industry manifold. The growth of theme parks has spurred towards the organising of events such as DEAL within this region and bringing the industry experts and stakeholders together. ‘DEAL 2017’ is definitely set to don the mantle of the entertainment launch pad for amusement operators in this region. Like before we are all arms open to welcome delegates from Africa to our show,” concluded Mr. Sharif.
International Expo-Consults LLC (IEC) is an internationally recognized trade show management company with an impressive track record of over 21 years of operations in the Middle East and Asia Pacific region. The Exhibition arm of the Dubai-based conglomerate, the Falak Holding; IEC is the organizer of key exhibitions including Sign and Graphics Imaging (SGI), and the Dubai Entertainment, Amusement and Leisure show (DEAL). Falak Holding has been an industry pioneer for the last 34 years having diversified business interests including real estate development; retail – sports, fashion, home furnishings; exhibitions, medical diagnostics, trading and many more as part of its portfolio.
Tigo Tanzania awards $40,000 to support projects run by local social entrepreneurs
March 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
Digital lifestyle telecom company unveils 5th edition winners of annual Change-Makers’ competition
Tigo Tanzania , in partnership with a non-profit organization, Reach for Change , has given an award of USD 20,000 each to two winners of the 5th edition of the Tigo Digital Changemakers Competition. The competition aims at identifying and supporting social entrepreneurs who use digital tools and technology to improve communities and impact future generations. In addition to a substantial financial grant, winners are provided with access to Tigo and Reach for Change Incubator Program, which provides them with advice, expertise and access to global networks, enabling them to build financially sustainable social enterprises that create lasting, large scale change to the community.
This year’s winners of the coveted award are Sophia Mbega and Nancy Sumari. Sophia Mbega impressed the judges with a grand digital initiative that is geared towards helping self-help women groups popularly known as VICOBA (Village Community Banks). She has come up with a mobile app that creates a collaborative platform that uses existing tools for financial and task management in a way that is adaptable to the African context. Through the app, all users, regardless of where they are, can transfer money from their mobile wallet to their Vicoba group account (directly from the app by using an USSD code), view all of their financial records, profit generated, weekly reports, etc.
Nancy Sumari’s award-winning initiative dubbed JENGA HUB focuses on foundation knowledge for children. Through her hub and co-creation space for kids, she teaches computer programming, robotics and coding skills to primary school children. The hub also exposes children to learning basic Information and Communication Technology such as programming skills that can in turn be used for creation of a range of educational and entertainment content.
Speaking at the press conference in Dar es Salaam, Tigo Tanzania Managing Director Diego Gutierrez said: “It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners of this year’s Tigo Digital Changemakers Competition. For five years now, our Changemakers have touched the lives of over 250,000 children in Tanzania. We believe that with the addition of these two Changemakers, we will impact on the lives of more children and help to make Tanzania a better place for our future generations.”
Gutierrez further elaborated that as a digital lifestyle brand, Tigo encourages technology-driven ideas and projects that bring sustainable change. “Digital technology is not only changing the way we do business in Africa but also revolutionizing the way we perceive and solve social development challenges. It is therefore with great honor that we will once again create an opportunity for such ideas to be recognized, supported and transformed to maximize social and economic impact,” he said.
This is the fifth year that Tigo and Reach for Change are unveiling the winners of the competition. The final winners were selected from a group of hundreds of passionate ‘social entrepreneurs’ who use digital tools and technology to implement solutions to problems facing Tanzanian communities.
Gutierrez praised the work of the past winners while encouraging others to share their ideas: “Our portfolio of social entrepreneurs is very impressive. To date, we have supported a total of 8 Digital Changemakers in Tanzania and we look forward to supporting more social entrepreneurs every year to propel this movement forward.”
The Changemakers in the program include Faraja Nyalandu, who runs a digital social enterprise called Shule Direct. Shule Direct provides digital educational content to help address teacher shortages and ensure that every child and youth has access to quality education. Faraja’s organization also offers a mobile app called Makini SMS that helps children study with access to unlimited multiple choice questions for 9 subjects. She is currently planning to scale her organization in other East African countries.
Carolyne Ekyarisiima, a YALI alumna, is a Tigo Digital Changemaker who is working to bridge the gender gap in ICT technology through her social enterprise, Apps & Girls. Carolyne has impacted hundreds of girls, through coding clubs in schools. She has also reached hundreds of girls through hackathons, bootcamps and competitions. Not only does this help to ensure that more girls have access to digital technologies, Carolyne is also empowering them to become ICT leaders of the future. Carolyne is currently scaling her social enterprise to maximize her impact and provide many more girls with tech education, helping them to develop solutions for social issues through their own digital applications and websites!
Joan Avit, a YALI alumna, is improving the quality of early childhood education through digital innovation. As a Digital Changemaker through her project known as GraphoGame Tanzania, she provides child-friendly, game-based learning that helps children learn to read using phonics. Her innovation has been life changing for hundreds of young students who previously struggled in school and are now thriving as a result of her digital innovation.
“We are very supportive of the work of all our Changemakers and this is why, this year, we have once again identified and supported two more brave and innovative social entrepreneurs,” Gutierrez noted.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Reach for Change Tanzania Program Manager, Josephine Msambichaka hailed the NGO’s partnership with Tigo, noting that it had provided perfect opportunities for the implementation of sustainable business models that benefit communities, especially scores of children, from across the country.
Tigo Tanzania is Tanzania’s leading digital lifestyle telecommunications company. Tigo started its operations in Tanzania in 1994.
Through its distinctive and diverse product portfolio in voice, SMS, high-speed internet and mobile financial services, Tigo has pioneered digital innovations such as the first Smartphone in Swahili, Free Facebook in Swahili, TigoPesa App, Tigo Mobile App as well as the first East African cross-border mobile money transfer with currency conversion.
For 3 consecutive years, Tigo has dominated market growth, becoming the second largest operator in Tanzania.
With an aggressive expansion plan, Tigo launched 4G LTE network in Dar es Salaam and 21 cities around the country between 2015 and 2016. Tigo boasts a loyal 10 million registered subscribers, and directly and indirectly employs over 300,000 Tanzanians including, an extended network of customer service representatives, mobile money merchants, sales agents and distributors Tigo is the commercial brand of Millicom, a multinational company championing digital lifestyle in 13 countries worldwide; with commercial operations in Africa and Latin America and corporate offices in Europe and the US.
About Reach for Change:
Reach for Change (http://Africa.ReachForChange.org) is a non-profit organization founded by the Kinnevik Group to improve the lives of children and youth. Reach for Change invests in social entrepreneurs who have a strong desire to promote children’s rights, an innovative idea to change the world for children, and the passion and the drive to create this change. They are given salary funding and coaching in an Incubator program, and are matched with advisors and experts from a network of companies within the Kinnevik Group
Distributed by APO on behalf of Tigo.
NMB to digitize Tanzania’s agri sector with the Mastercard eKilimo mobile solution
March 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
Agreement to launch eKilimo will help drive growth for farmers
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: 09 March, 2017 – National Microfinance Bank Pic (NMB) has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Mastercard to ensure the digitization of the agricultural sector in Tanzania with the rollout of eKilimo, a mobile solution developed by the Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion.
eKilimo, which in Swahili means ‘eAgriculture’, is a digital platform that will help, introduce efficiency, security and transparency in the agriculture supply chain. The solution will make transacting faster, safer, and easier for all stakeholders including the farmer, the buyer and the agent.
Powered by the digital platform developed by the Mastercard Lab, farmers are now able to conduct the entire transaction process of receiving payments and selling produce via a feature or smartphone, without having to walk hours to markets. This helps to ensure farmers benefit from the ability to capture a higher percentage of the wholesale value of their goods by providing price transparency and more direct access to buyers.
“Contributing a significant USD 13.9bn to Tanzania’s GDP (nearly 30 percent), it is critical that solutions are found to support this vital sector, ensuring sustainability and growth. Technology is having a significant impact already, and the mobile device is giving small holder farmers the power and ability to move beyond cash,” said Raghu Malhotra, President, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard.
By providing digital payment to farmers, eKilimo will leverage the existing agency banking structure to facilitate account opening for farmers and joint ideation on new product features. This is in line with the Mastercard vision of a more digitally and financially included Africa.
“Using digital technology to provide access to farmers and introducing transparency to the buying and selling process will drive efficiencies into this supply chain, positively impacting the economy. In the long run this should help famers gain access to formal financial services and solutions, enabling them to manage their funds ensuring a better more secure future for them and their families.”
The solution which was developed at the Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion is part of a global commitment made by company to reach 500 million people currently excluded from the financial mainstream by 2020. The East African Lab, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is set to empower 100 million people through its focused approach of developing market and sector relevant solutions underpinned by meaningful insights and local collaboration.
The partnership between NMB and Mastercard will see the solution enter a pilot phase in select locations in Tanzania from March 2017. Following the introduction of the same solution in Kenya under the name of 2KUZE, key insights were gathered and will be used to ensure the Tanzanian pilot is a success. This cross pollination of knowledge driven by the Mastercard Lab ensures future rollouts are done so efficiently.
The pilot will begin with the onboarding of NMB customers that source directly from smallholders. Field agents of the customers will use the eKilimo smartphone app to perform the purchase, including weighing the produce on a Bluetooth-enabled scale and paying the farmer digitally. The farmer will receive information and their payment from eKilimo, and will be able to leverage their transaction history to access credit from NMB.
“We are committed to growing Tanzania’s agriculture sector, and working with partners such as Mastercard to introduce technology that can change lives. Our experience in the sector gives us a unique point of view, combined with insights from Mastercard following the launch of the solution in Kenya under the name 2KUZE. It makes for a powerful collaboration, one that will benefit smallholder famers, buyers and agents – and the broader economy,” said the NMB Managing Director – Ineke Bussemaker.
National Microfinance Bank Plc (NMB) is one of the largest commercial banks in Tanzania, providing banking services to individuals, small to medium sized corporate clients, as well as large businesses.
It was established under the National Microfinance Bank Limited Incorporation Act of 1997, following the break-up of the old National Bank of Commerce, by an Act of parliament .Three new entities were created at the time, namely: NBC Holding Limited, National Bank of Commerce (1997) Limited and National Microfinance Bank Limited.
Mastercard is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.
Energy Ministers from South Africa, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Democratic Republic of Congo to address investors at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit
March 8, 2017 | 0 Comments
H.E. Hon.Tina Joemat-Pettersson MP, Minister of Energy, South Africa, H.E. Patrick Sendolo, Minister for Energy, Land and Mines, Liberia, H.E. Hon Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda, H.E. Hon. Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy, Sierra Leone and H.E. Hon Pierre Anatole Matusila, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Democratic Republic of Congo are the latest speakers to confirm attendance at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit, taking place from 9-10 March 2017 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington D.C.
U.S. Representative Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee has also confirmed to address delegates at the 2017 Summit. Chairman Royce worked tirelessly to pass the Electrify Africa Act which was successfully signed into law in early 2016. The bill seeks to address the significant electricity shortage in Africa that affects the everyday lives of millions of people. His participation will provide an insight into the act and how it will continue to maintain competitiveness in Africa whilst increasing global security and social stability.
The Summit will take the form of panel discussions and roundtables focusing on sector-specific topics and addressing how bottlenecks can be overcome to drive forward projects. Maintaining US competitiveness in Africa will be a key theme, setting out how commercial partnerships can deliver energy, create jobs, build capacity and spur industrial growth. 26 countries will be represented at the Summit to date, including 16 African countries. A networking reception will take place on the evening of 9th March, and delegates will have the opportunity to arrange meetings with other attendees using an onsite networking app.
This meeting will be co-located with the Growing Economies: Latin America Energy Forum, focusing on investment opportunities in Latin America’s energy & infrastructure sectors.
For more information about this meeting:
Meeting dates: 9-10 March 2017
Venue: Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C., USA
Contact: Amy Offord – Marketing Manager
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7384 8068
Three Leading Organizations in Africa and The MasterCard Foundation Partner to Improve Livelihoods for 1.1 Million African Smallholder Farmers
March 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Foundation has committed a total of US$38.3 million to AgDevCo, ICCO Cooperation, and Root Capital for programs to improve productivity and market access for farmers in 11 African countries.
Ambassador Sanders’ New Book Focuses on Insta-impact of Africa’s SMEs
March 6, 2017 | 0 Comments
Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders’ new book on “The Rise of Africa’s Small& amp; Medium Size Enterprises” (SMEs) is an insightful examination of the dramatic shift in the development paradigm for Sub Saharan Africa – driven in large part by the imaginative, innovative and insta-impact leadership of the region’s small businesses or SMEs. “SMEs have helped drive economic growth and aided in increasing the size of the Continent’s middle class,” Sanders says. The book’s Introduction is by renowned civil rights leader Ambassador Andrew Young, and the Foreword is by Africa’s leading businessman, Mr. Aliko Dangote. Sanders’ credits the determination of Africa’s SMEs to step into the void left by 40 years of post-independence development efforts that had little impact on overall poverty reduction and job creation in the region.
The book also has recommendations on what donors, the African Union, African Governments, and the new U.S. Administration can do to further assist Africa SMEs. For the US, Sanders notes that as the new U.S. Administration seeks to have markets for its goods and services as part of its efforts to reinvigorate jobs in the US Rust Belt (the Midwest Region), and as Africa SMEs expand their procurement sources and help expand the region’s manufacturing base – both efforts can be synergistic, and help stimulate both American and African economies. There is also an extensive chapter on China – what it is doing in the Africa SME sector, both the big plus, like special economic zones, the New Development Bank, and becoming the world’s net credit country, as well as addresses some of the things on which it needs to do better.
Included in the book are DataGraphs from the world-respected Gallup Analytics® on the enabling environment for Africa’s SMEs and comments on the importance and impact of the region’s SMEs from other key notables such as Gallup’s Managing Partner Jon Clifton, Nigeria telecom leader and Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria Hakeem Belo Osaige, CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Oscar Onyema, Chairman of Operation Hope John Bryant, CEO of Homestrings Eric Guichard, former Senior U.S. Small Business Administration official Ngozi Bell, and the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises of the Republic of Congo, Madame Yvonne Adelaide Mougany. Dr. Frederick G. Kohun, nationally-recognized scholar of Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University (RMU), a University Professor of Computer and Information Systems at RMU’s School of Communications and Information Systems, underscores Sanders point in the book that the impact of Africa SMEs is not only a result of technology and its mobility, but the sister relationship that these have with providing access to knowledge management for communities around the world that have helped small businesses globally transform their societies and their nations.
The prestigious Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) has included Sanders’ Africa SME book in its recognized series of Memoirs and Occasional Papers Series (MOPS) given its additional focus on the role and changes in diplomatic approaches to development over the ages, including the shift changes brought about the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
See story on Sanders’ book http://bit.ly/SandersAfricaSMEBook
Africa: Tanzania Has 200 New Dollar Millionaires
March 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Kamndaya*
Dar es Salaam — Tanzania created 200 new dollar millionaires in 2016, a new report shows, sending out a picture that the government’s cost cutting measures have had little impact on individuals’ wealth creation endeavours.
Knight Frank’s 2017 wealth report shows that the number of super rich Tanzanians jumped from 2,200 in 2015 to 2,400 in 2016.
This happened despite reports that the cost cutting measures – initiated by the President John Magufuli’s administration – were throttling the growth of the private sector.
Since he assumed office in November 2015, President Magufuli has taken measures that have squeezed public spending, resulting into a knockoff effect on private sector.
The actions included a mop-up of over Sh500 billion from commercial banks, a sustained and single minded tax crackdown while public agencies have been restricted to doing business within government. There has also been a general decline in public spending as travel, workshops and meetings in hotels have been curtailed.
In January, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that such economic policies threaten the economic growth forecast for fiscal year 2016/17 (July-June).
Despite such a background however, Knight Frank shows that Tanzania is only second from Kenya in East Africa in terms of creating new dollar millionaires.
Last year, while some 200 wealthy people in Tanzania joined the super rich club, Kenya created 900 new dollar millionaires while Uganda and Rwanda registered 100 each. Basing its report on responses from 900 of the world’s private bankers and wealth advisors who manage over 10,000 clients with a combined wealth of around $2 trillion, Knight Frank Wealth study shows that Tanzania is one of the African countries that will drive the growth of dollar millionaires on the continent in the next ten years or so.
“In Africa, sharp rises are expected in countries such as Mauritius, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda,” the report reads. The number of super rich individuals in Tanzania is expected to double and reach 4,800 in 2026 while Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda will have 16,900; 2,500 and 1,200 respectively.
Knight Frank classifies the super rich individuals into five sub-categories. They include dollar billionaires, Centa- millionaires, ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIS), multi-millionaires and millionaires.
Dollar billionaires are those individuals who have assets worth over $1 billion (over Sh2.2 trillion) while each of the Centa-millionaires has assets worth over $100 million (over Sh223 billion). On the other hand, a rich individual in the UHNWIS category has assets that are valued at more than $30 million (about Sh70 billion) whereas assets for multi-millionaires and millionaires are valued at more than $10 million (about Sh22 billion) and $1 million (about Sh2.2 billion) respectively.
African Challenges to African Development
March 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
|By Ehiedu Iweriebor*|
NEW YORK, March 3, 2017– The parlous story of African economic and social development since independence best expressed in the failure to achieve the autonomous capacity for self-actuated development and in particular to create conditions of national and continental modern mass production and prosperity is well known and need not be repeated. It is enough to re-state that Africa’s development failure was because of the leaderships’ choice to retain, maintain and expand the inherited exocentric colonial system of development incapacitation, primary commodity export, import dependency and poverty generation.
The progressive efforts of some African states and leaders to change the system and create self-reliant economies were stymied by the leaderships’ ideological inadequacies and dependency, the balance of payment crises of the late 1970s and 1980s and the subsequent economic crises and decline. This provided the avenue for Western multilateral imperialist agencies the World Bank and the IMF – to successfully infiltrate into Africa, re-colonize African states and convert them into neo-colonial out-posts of the so-called neo-liberal consensus. This framework embodied in the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) with its destructives conditionalities: currency devaluation, trade liberalization, subsidy removal, deregulation and privatization, re-directed the African states to focus on expanded raw materials production and exports and to abandon industrialization and development capacitation.
The application of these anti-development SAP dogmas in the 1980s and 1990s ushered in two decades of deepening indebtedness, serious economic crises, de-industrialization, socio-economic decline, deepening impoverishment and political repression. On the other hand, the period also saw the upsurge of popular democratisation struggles, civil rights campaigns, the restoration democracy, and the establishment of electoral democracy and the decline of military interventions in African politics. In the economic sphere, there were innovative dependency-reducing responses. This was because among businesses there was an increased re-orientation toward local sourcing of well-known agricultural and mineral endowments to expand production. This led to the emergence of new economic sectors and especially the expansion of cottage, small and medium scale consumer goods industries which were operationally autonomous due to the increased utilization of local resources for production and self-development.
In addition there was relative political stability and policy and institutional the support for businesses through the creation of enabling environments for attracting investments.
It was partly because of these new domestic conditions and the economic self-activation, and the partly because of return of better commodity prices in the first decade of the 21st century that the Western media fabricated and propagated the new view of “Africa Rising”. This became a very popular and re-assuring slogan among some African leaders, politicians and intelligentsia.
However, it was an insecure condition because a “Rising Africa” whose upsurge is generated by increased external demand for primary commodities is essentially insecure. It does not represent genuine African development that is based on expansive domestic production and prosperity generation. It merely reinforces African dependency on primary commodity export and its dependence on the importation of manufactured goods. It is evaporating with the speed with which it was proclaimed.
But there was a more consequential development story of this period that ushered in what this author describes as the Affirmative African Narrative phase of development. This is the progressive assumption by African businesses of the leadership role in promoting national and pan-African development. This new trend of African self-development is captured by the new concept of “Africans Investing in Africa” This is the process by which African industrial, service, and commercial enterprises began to make large-scale investments in many different African countries. The investments involve for example the expansion of Banks, telecommunication companies, trading companies and so on. Examples of these include Nigerians Banks like UBA, Zenith, Access, First Bank; South African banks like Standard Bank and Moroccan Banks; Telecommunication companies such as MTN of South Africa, ECONET of Zimbabwe and GLOBACOM of Nigeria. Others are Shoprite, Coca cola and South African Breweries.
While Africans investing in Africa is becoming common and commendable, it is important to emphasize that NOT ALL African investments in Africa are of equal economic importance or strategic development value. For example, African investments like Shoprite and similar companies which merely establish commercial or trading enterprises that do not add value to African economies are no different from traditional non-African FDI companies that are established to create captive markets for products from their home countries and thereby maximally exploit Africa.
On the other hand, African companies that make investments that are decisive and transformational are those that deliberately promote and advance African development capacitation, through local resource exploitation, mass industrialization, large scale industrial, agricultural and mineral production, and beneficiation for internal use.
In terms of investment for development capacitation through local resource utilization and valorization, the vanguard African company is the Dangote Group. In order to ensure that Africa achieves self-sufficiency in the critically important infrastructure development requirement – CEMENT – Dangote embarked on a pan-African investment strategy to establish integrated plants, or grinding plants or cement terminals in African countries according to their resource endowments. The Group’s ultimate objective is become the ascendant cement manufacturing company in Africa. There is no question that the Dangotean strategy of development capacitation through local resource exploitation, mass industrial production and domestic prosperity-generation is what Africa requires to become the self-actuated mover of its own development and to create a secure development upsurge and continental prosperity that does not depend on the vagaries of external demand for primary commodities.
This Dangotean transformational mission and project is now been threatened by what seems like the unwillingness of African countries to respect and maintain carefully crafted legal investment agreements as sacrosanct documents and binding commitments. Within the past year the Group has faced major challenges as a result of the failure of some African states to keep their sides of the bargain or agreements concluded with Dangote Group. This happened late last year in Tanzania when the government seemed to renege on some elements within the agreements reached with the Dangote Group to give it concessions and incentives for the massive investments of over $500 million dollars that the Group made in the construction of the monumental cement plant in Mtwara, Tanzania. This Dangote Cement plant with its 3 million metric tonnes per annum capacity is the largest cement plant in Eastern Africa. In addition to the cement plant, other associated Dangote development projects include the construction of a coal power plant and a jetty. While these are primarily beneficial to the Groups business, they also represent important investments and permanent additions to Tanzania’s power and sea transport sectors.
Together these projects have generated significant direct employment opportunities and as they mature and attain full production capacity the multiplier effects in various sub-sectors would be expansive and extensive, thereby creating prosperity and income in the community as well as revenues for the local, regional and national the governments. But due to the problems Dangote had to temporarily shut down the plant; and after negotiations and assurances that restored the original terms, the plant resumed production. This Dangotean Tanzanian experience of government infidelity to the sanctity of agreements can only create profound doubts among business people on the readiness of African states and leaders to move Africa forward.
But the Group’s challenges in Africa are not over. Just recently, in Ethiopia, the regional government of Oromo Regional State where Dangote’s new over $400 million dollar, 2.5 million metric tonnes per annum cement plant is located came up with new conditions that are bound to disrupt the operations of the Dangote plant. In what it claimed is an attempt to provide employment for jobless Oromo youth it decided to withdraw all mining licences and agreements already concluded with Dangote and similar other companies with mining concessions. In its place the regional government claimed that it would create youth owned companies that would now supply the minerals required by the cement and other plants.
This action of the Oromo regional government in illegally annulling legally approved mining agreements with the Dangote Group and other companies raise major questions on the genuine preparedness of African states, politicians, and bureaucrats to foster Africa’s self-development through Africans investing in Africa. Without question the action of these governments represents major challenges to Africans assumption of responsibility for their development and the emergent Affirmative Africa Narrative. In fact at its core, these anti-investment actions are a repudiation of the long-standing aspirations of Pan-Africanism and its advocates, and the practical commitment of the continental organizations like the former Organization of African Union (OAU) and the current African Union (AU) to promote African-led development through investments, intra-African trade and exchange, as instruments for creating secure African development and domestic prosperity-generation.
This is a good example of how some African leaderships’ represent serious obstacles to African development. Quite clearly any aspiration for Africa’s take off through self-actuated development as represented by the transformational efforts of Dangote and similar committed pan-African economic revolutionaries is weakened by such leadership unfaithfulness, irresponsibility and lack of serious commitments to African investors.
Despite these set-backs, it is important for African states and the continental and regional economic groups to reaffirm their commitment to African-led transformational industrial development as the basis for Africa’s capacitation for self-actuated development. In this light, it is imperative for the AU and its various economic agencies to design Continental Investment Protection Agreements that would commit African states to respect and uphold already approved agreements and avoid arbitrary nullifications of legally binding instruments. An additional guarantor is for each African state to negotiate investment protection treaties with each other. In fact this is especially indicated for countries such as Nigeria where investors are increasingly embarking on Pan-African development investments.
Finally, pan-African transformational investors like Dangote should remain committed and not be discouraged by these clearly disruptive actions of hapless, backward and anti-African development leaders. The Dangotes’ of Africa as continental transformational vanguards should remain firmly committed to their chosen paths of legal profit making and simultaneous contribution to Africa’s transformation, economic development, prosperity-generation, psychological liberation, and the restoration of Africans dignity and equality with others in the world. These are worthwhile and enduring ideals and challenges that transformational revolutionaries and societal game-changers are bound to encounter and overcome so as to create new worlds.
*Ehiedu Iweriebor is a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA.
Rihanna named Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year
March 2, 2017 | 0 Comments
Rihanna never went to college but the R&B superstar voiced delight as she was presented an award by Harvard University for her humanitarian work. “So I made it to Harvard! Never thought I would be able to say that in my life, but it feels good,” a beaming Rihanna said to students’ cheers at the prestigious US university Tuesday evening.
“So I made it to Harvard! Never thought I would be able to say that in my life, but it feels good,” a beaming Rihanna said to students’ cheers at the prestigious US university Tuesday evening.
Harvard named the 29-year-old singer its Humanitarian of the Year, pointing to her projects that include an advanced center to treat breast cancer in her native Barbados and support for girls’ education around the developing world.
Rihanna said she had set up her first charity at age 18 and remarked: “People make it seem way too hard, man.” “You don’t need to be rich to help someone, you don’t need to be famous, you don’t even need to be college-educated,” she said, while joking that she wished she were.
“I want to challenge each of you to make a commitment to help one person, one organization, one situation that touches your heart,” she said. “My grandmother always used to say, ‘If you got a dollar, there’s plenty to share.’”
Rihanna, who was discovered by a music executive while still a teenager, has also set up a scholarship program named after her grandparents for Caribbean students in the United States.