Monday, August 27, 2012
Uganda: ICT Will Help Ugandan Farmers Cope With Climate Change
BY ESTHER NAKKAZI, 24 AUGUST 2012
Kampala — Ugandan cattle farmers are set to benefit from the use of information and communications technology (ICT) tools and meteorological data to improve their ability to adapt to climate change-induced hazards such as water stress and prolonged droughts.
Climate Change Adaptation and ICT (CHAI), a two-year project launched in Kampala earlier this month (3 August), will generate agricultural, environmental management, market and meteorological information for herdsmen in Uganda’s ‘cattle corridor’.
The corridor - a broad dryland area covering 84,000 square kilometres from southwest to northeast Uganda, and home to 12 million people and about 60 per cent of the country’s seven million cattle - is one of the African areas hardest hit by climate change.
“When there is a crisis like a prolonged drought, herdsmen sell their animals as a coping strategy. We will provide them with information to cope and make choices,” said Berhane Gebru, director of programmes at the US-based FHI360-Satellife, a non-profit development organisation helping to implement the project.
The US$600,000 project, funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), will provide users with ICT tools to collect and disseminate information. The data generated will be reliable, timely, accurate and appropriate for planning on water-related climate risks and adaptation options.
“We believe that climate proofing, adaptation and the promotion of mitigation actions are areas where ICT is critical. This [programme] will contribute to the government’s climate change knowledge base,” said Chebet Maikut of the Climate Change Unit (CCU) in Uganda’s ministry of water and environment.
The project will also build more weather stations, and establish or strengthen data collection for local weather and water.
Seasonal forecasting information and early warnings of severe weather events will also be disseminated in local languages, through media such as text messages, voice messaging and radio.
“One of [the] mandates is to build local capacity and evidence-based data to support both policy and practice,” said Edith Adera, an IDRC senior programme specialist in climate change and water.
“We will present research-based evidence on cattle-keeping communities’ use of ICT for climate-induced water challenges - evidence that will later inform policy and [ICT] designs,” explained Gebru.
Daniel Ninsiima, research assistant at the Makerere University Agriculture Research Institute, said ICT use will empower pastoralists with diverse adaptation methods.
“However, this information should be tailored to farmers’ local needs and dialects,” he added. “Disseminating this information in local languages by way of voice messaging instead of SMS is the most effective way of getting much-needed information into the hands of farmers.”
Africa: Re-Imagining Education for Young Africans
BY REETA ROY, 23 AUGUST 2012
“It is time for African leaders to re-imagine an education that meets the needs of young people, sustains growth and promotes equity,” writes Reeta Roy
Africa is the world’s youngest continent. In recent years, it has become a destination for foreign investment and is a home to a movement of entrepreneurs. Yet, the sobering reality is that current education systems are failing to keep up with the dynamism of the continent and its young people. A young man in Dakar, who dropped out of university, told me, “Attending university was like going to a restaurant where the waiter served only one meal and said, ‘Eat this!’ The ‘meal’ failed to satisfy his need to learn. His dream was to install computers in schools, to expose young minds to ideas beyond the classroom. But, when I met him, he was still struggling to make ends meet.
The problem begins early - at primary education. Across the continent, packed primary classrooms diminish the quality of instruction. Only 20 percent of students enter secondary school, less than 5 percent make it to university, and the enrolment rates for girls are significantly lower. Far too many students who graduate from secondary or tertiary education are left unemployed because the knowledge and skills they acquired do not match what employers seek. The result is that millions of young Africans - with an appetite for learning - are getting left behind.
There is an urgent need to close this gap. Fortunately, innovative models led by Africans are taking root, and are bringing education to the learner. They are developing future innovators, problem solvers, thinkers and entrepreneurs. These organizations are closing social inequities by serving young people who are poor, but bright and motivated to contribute to their communities - like the young man inDakar. They offer a learning experience that is relevant toAfrica’s growth trajectory. Here is what is most impressive: young people are more than students in these programs - they are stakeholders involved in design, implementation and evaluation, so that the education they receive directly impacts their future prospects.
Who are these organizations and what do their models look like? Ashesi University in Ghana and the African Leadership Academy in South Africa are exceptional examples of curricula embedded in entrepreneurship, ethics and experiential learning. The results are clear: more than 90 percent of Ashesi students are employed within six months of graduation. ALA graduates are sought by top universities worldwide.
In Ghana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania, CAMFED is demonstrating how educating hundreds of thousands of rural girls through secondary school and beyond creates a virtuous circle of alumni, who, in turn, educate, mentor and inspire the next generation of girls. Education for Employment in North Africa works with the private sector to prepare young people with life and employable skills, and has an 80 percent job placement rate. In Kenya, Samasource and Digital Data Divide deliver computer-based skills and jobs to young people in slums, refugee camps or urban centers. These organizations are inspiring and showing us what is possible. The MasterCard Foundation is committed to ensuring that their bold visions and models thrive.
We know that young people will shape the destiny of Africa. It is time for African leaders to re-imagine an education that meets the needs of young people, sustains growth and promotes equity. Leaders must focus on the quality of education and set targets for learning outcomes. New visions and benchmarks are imperative to enable African youth to work, communicate and contribute in the 21st century global village.
Reeta Roy is President CEO of the Mastercard Foundation
Friday, August 17, 2012
Africa’s First Dreamliner Lands in Tanzania
(From The Arusha Times)
For the Ethiopian Airlines a dream has come true. The airline is the first in the world outside Japan to operate the highly coveted first Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Kilimanjaro International Airport became the aircraft’s first African destination.
The Dreamliner dubbed ‘Africa’s First,’ taxied at KIA runaway last Monday, afternoon, amid cheers from spectators who gathered at the nations second largest terminal to welcome travelers aboard the Ethiopian Airline’s Boeing 787-8 with a passenger capacity of 270.
Speaking during the occasion, Ms Nadia Ahmed Ethiopian Airlines representative said the choice of Kilimanjaro to be the ‘Dreamliner’s first destination only goes to reinforce the company’s commitment in connecting Tanzania’s Northern Zone Circuit to the world.
The operations’ Manager, for Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (KADCO) Mr Christopher Mukoma said it was great honor for KIA to be the first African Destination to handle the continent’s only Dreamliner and reinstated the his firm’s stand to be the hub of tourism in the East African Region.
Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Mr Tewolde Gebremariam in a statement which was made available here said the first Ethiopian Dreamliner arrived on the continent last Friday, touching down at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa on Friday, 17 August 2012.
“The first flight of Ethiopian Dreamliner dubbed “The Dream Tour,” was conducted on Saturday; August 18 with a sightseeing flight to Mount Kilimanjaro for around 270 invited guests, consisting of Ministers, Ambassadors, other VIPs, Ethiopian Sheba Miles Gold Members and media”.
The 787 Dreamliner, which so far is operated only by two Japanese airlines, is Chicago-based Boeing’s most advanced plane. It is made out of lighter, composite material, 50 percent of which is carbon fiber - that allows airlines to save on fuel costs.
Large windows provide a stronger connection to the outside world, on-board humidity is increased and the cabin pressure is closer to what it feels like on the ground. LED lights that slowly change color is another feature designed to fight flight fatigue.
Ethiopian airline is the second largest in Africa after South African Airways.
After last Sunday’s launch in Kilimanjaro, the first Ethiopian Dreamliner will be operating on rotation basis to African destinations such as Kilimanjaro, Mombasa, Harare, Lusaka, Nairobi, Entebbe, Lagos, Johannesburg, Abuja, Malabo, Douala, Lomé, Accra, Maputo, Luanda as well as to Dubai, Mumbai, Rome, London and Frankfurt.
Kilimanjaro Airport is becoming busy again with introduction of new landings for other carriers with recent ones being Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways and according to tourism Minister Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki, other airlines, including the Emirates are also about to introduce flights there.
Southern Africa: High-Speed Internet Links Regional Universities
Lilongwe — The first high-speed Internet link between national research networks in Sub-Saharan Africa was launched last month (17 July) when Zambia was linked up to South Africa by a cable passing through Zimbabwe.
It will allow Zambian scientists to join Géant, a European high speed internet network dedicated to researchers, through the SEACOM submarine cable node in South Africa, opening the door to them to participate in advanced regional and global research collaborations.
The link connects higher education institutions within the Zambia Research and Education Network to those in South Africa’s Tertiary Education Network (TENET), using internet infrastructure supplied by the UbuntuNet Alliance - a Malawi-based association of research and education networks covering southern and eastern Africa.
The link will in particular enable Zambia’s researchers to participate in global e-learning schemes, and help them share large datasets with colleagues around the world.
“Medical researchers will be early beneficiaries, as high definition images can now be shared and investigated collaboratively,” Margaret Ngwira, UbuntuNet Alliance’s special projects coordinator, told SciDev.Net.
“Research and education data can now be shared nationally, regionally and globally on a high quality secure network,” she said, adding that this brings the “Zambian research and education community into the global community, permitting their participation in cutting edge research”.
Moffat Nyirenda, a professor at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine, hopes the initiative will allow regional universities to move away from using satellite-based connections, which experience long transmission delays.
“As researchers, we produce large amounts of data, and to be able to communicate within groups you need a secure and reliable means of communication,” Nyirenda said. “This new link will help to develop regional teams of researchers.”
Ngwira said the link is the first building block in a regional southern African network.
She added that the EU-funded AfricaConnect project - a four-year programme that aims to establish a high-capacity Internet network for research and education in southern and eastern Africa - is expected to be rolled out later in the year.
This should allow most other countries in the region to link up through a high speed network, Ngwira said.
Duncan Martin, TENET’s chief executive officer, expects bandwidth costs for research and educational networks to continue to fall sharply, lowering the access costs that universities will need pay to access the link.
“Unit costs will continue to drop, except in those countries where the traditional telecommunications operator continues to have a monopoly,” Martin said.
The Zambian link was funded by a €2.25 million (US$2.8 million) grant from the Netherlands Initiative for Capacity development in Higher Education, and a €350,000 (US$432,294) grant from the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority.
Cote d’Ivoire: Ivorian Agricultural Scientists Open Up Their Research
Abidjan — More than a dozen agricultural research institutes in Côte d’Ivoire have agreed to open up access to their research results and raise farmers’ awareness of their work through a shared online platform.
The aim is to increase the uptake of new and existing technologies and research findings, and eventually to boost agricultural production in the country and West African region.
The creation of the platform was agreed in May, and a planning workshop was held in Grand Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, last month (19-20 July). It was attended by researchers and other stakeholders, including ministry officials and science communicators, who exchanged experiences on the best ways to disseminate research results.
According to Pierre Ackah Angniman, executive director of the Interprofessional Fund for Agricultural Research and Counseling (FIRCA) - the organisation that will fund and run the research platform - scientists have decided to set up a national database of research results and technologies to improve research openness and popularisation.
They have also agreed to coordinate the outreach activities of different agricultural organisations.
Angniman told SciDev.Net that a committee will shortly be created to manage the platform and to work on raising awareness of existing agricultural technologies.
“It’s a matter of enlisting the help of professional agricultural organisations, which can help us convey messages efficiently to farmers, so that they can implement [research findings] that may boost their productivity and also allow them to increase their incomes,” said Germain N’dri, a researcher at the University of Abobo-Adjamé in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
N’dri said that each participating research institute will be provided with a communication officer to support the project.
He also explained that the platform will be integrated with existing initiatives managed by the Economic Community of West African States and implemented by the World Bank’s West African Agricultural Productivity Program, which is working to disseminate research findings in the region.
Justin Koudougnon, an agricultural research engineer based in Côte d’Ivoire, said the establishment of a common system of information and communication on agricultural technologies is a strong initiative, and should lead to the better communication of research results to farmers.
“In Africa, the agricultural sector’s low productivity is mainly due to the weak adoption of available technology, and the inefficiency or lack of mastery of technological resources,” Koudougnon commented.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Liberia: 420 Single Mothers to Benefit Job Creation Program
The Government of Liberia, through the National Bureau of Employment of the Ministry of Labor, has over the weekend launched a major job creation program for Single-Mothers in four communities in Monrovia and its environs.
The program which was held on Friday, August 10, 2012, at the main compound of the Ministry of Labor brought together leadership representatives of women organizations from the four communities.
Speaking at the launching program, Labour Minister Hon. Vabah K. Gayflor said the program will provide short-term employment opportunities for 420 Single Mothers residing in low income settlements such as Logan Town, New Kru Town, Gardnersville, Jamaica Road, Slip-way Clara Town, Soniwein and Doe Communities.
She said the project is intended to mobilize single mothers and the disable people to clean their communities and sensitize the inhabitants by creating sanitation awareness, which is critical to improving the sanitary condition of the communities.
Minister Gayflor told the women that the project is the beginning by the Ministry of Labour to help provide short-term jobs for women around the country to help themselves and their communities.
She encouraged the women to take the job seriously, by listening to their supervisors and working hard to ensure that the necessary things are done to bring sanity to their communities.
The Labour boss also called on the media to follow up with the project implementation to find out whether the women are actually working or good things are happening for them, while urging some community members on their impression of the program.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Madam Korpo D. Korhenneh said Minister Gayflor is noted for helping women and women organizations when she was at the Ministry of Gender; and so providing such an opportunity for single mothers is not a surprise.
She said the project will assist single mothers in the four communities to get some money to enable them engage in small businesses, and at the same time send their children to school. She praised the Minister of Labour for the opportunity and promised to work with the Ministry’s monitors to ensure the smooth implementation of the project.
Earlier, the Director of the National Bureau of Employment, Mr. George Saah said the Ministry of Labour will collaborate with community based organization and community leaders residing in the selected low income areas for the successful implementation of this project.
He added that the project will be implemented by establishing community based organizations in the selected areas within Twenty-one (21) working days.
Mr. Saah said workers on the project will receive a daily wage of US$3.00 or its equivalent in Liberian dollars while a supervisor will be paid US$5.00.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Kenya: IBM Opens Research Lab in Kenya
(From The Star - Nairobi)
TECHNOLOGY giant IBM has opened its first research lab in Nairobi making Kenya the premier location for IBM labs in the continent. The research lab, a collaboration between the Kenya government and IBM East Africa, will contribute to the country’s national priorities as part of Kenya’s Vision 2030 Agenda.
Establishment of the Research Lab deal was agreed upon in a meeting between President Mwai Kibaki and the IBM Corporation global CEO Ginni Rometty at Harambee House. During the talks, President Kibaki said the lab will not only drive innovation but also increase the momentum already established in cutting-edge money technology, create high level jobs and bring significant prestige to Kenya.
President Kibaki termed as timely, establishment of the research lab coming on the heels of Konza Technology City Conference in which the country rallied to attract investors into Africa’s Savanah ICT Park that will drive Kenya towards achieving middle income status.
Rometty said IBM would provide specialists, intellectual property and operate the lab as part of its world-class network of research labs. She added that IBM will integrate leading African scientists and engineers from the government and the industry to expand its operations in key growth markets to bring the continent into the global network of research laboratories.
Source: Presidential Press Service
Sunday, August 12, 2012
West Africa: Major African Airlines Move to Dominate West African Market
BY CHINEDU EZE, 13 AUGUST 2012
(From This Day Live)
Successful African airlines like Ethiopia Airlines, Kenya Airways and South Africa Airways (SAA) are trying to take over the lucrative West African air transport market long dominated by Nigerian airlines.
To actualise this objective, the airlines floated regional carriers with operating hubs in West or Central Africa.
Ethiopia Airlines few years ago, funded the establishment of Asky, which has its operating hub in Lome, Benin Republic, while Kenya has 49 per cent stake in Precision Air, which is based in Tanzania and is aiming to come into West African market.
South Africa Airways has stakes in RwandAir, which is already operating into Lagos and intends to expand its network in the sub-region.
West Africa is the only sub region in West Africa that does not have dominant national carrier since the demise of Nigeria Airways, Air Afrique and Ghana’s national airline.
The sub region has huge travelling market that is open to new and old airlines that can make successful inroad.
Nigeria leads the market with 14.6 million frequent flyers and a throng of business men and woman who travel to Asia, Europe, North America and other parts of the world and each of these airlines is eager to take a chunk of this market: operate into some West African cities and eventually make it to Lagos or Abuja.
To strengthen this effort, an airline known as Fast Jet owned by a Greek entrepreneur has started operating in Ghana from where it hopes to extend its tentacles to Nigeria and other parts of the sub region.
Ecobank partnering with investors has planned establishing an airline known as Ecowas Airways, which is planned to network its routes in West Africa, but THISDAY learnt that there was a plan to hijack it by Asky, which would have metamorphosed to Ecowas Airways, with Ethiopia remaining its major stakeholder.
That effort was scuttled, THISDAY learnt when the biggest Nigerian airline in a crucial meeting recently vehemently opposed it, insisting that an airline from East Africa cannot establish such airline in West Africa and suggested that airlines in the sub-region should get together and establish the airline.
Meanwhile, Fast Jet, which was begat from an airline that operated in many parts of Africa known as Fly 540 is aiming to dominate West Africa and using Accra, Ghana as its hub; the airline plans to extend its operations to Nigeria.
Unfortunately, Nigerian airlines which have most of the advantages as the carriers of the most populated country in the sub region have their competitive edge blunted by inimical government regulations, including high cost of aircraft and parts importation, high charges, high cost of aviation fuel, high taxes and exorbitant interest rate on credit facilities.
These have crippled their ability to dominant the sub region and beyond and government seemed unperturbed about denying its airlines such huge advantage.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Fast forward: small loans for big gains in Kenya slum
Published on : 9 August 2012 - 11:00am | By Maike Winters (Photo: Maike Winters)
When on the very same day that her Nairobi apartment building’s caretaker, the watchman and housekeeper all asked for small loans to start up businesses, Daisy Waimiri didn’t pull out her wallet. Instead, she started a savings club. Within a few weeks, over a hundred people from Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, had become members.
Fast forward to five years later. The now 35-year old mother of three runs the Maono Initiative. This table-banking company gives some 2,500 residents of Nairobi’s slums the opportunity to save their money and borrow low-interest loans that support small businesses. In the slum of Mukuru, for instance, Maono loans have allowed budding entrepreuners to grow their small vegetable shops and charcoal businesses, sell more mobile phone credit and even expand the slum’s primary schools. Although residents still struggle to feed their children and crime rates are high there, the fruits of table-banking are multiplying.
RNW recently followed Waimiri on a walk through Mukuru to ask her more about how table-banking could one day mean the end of the slum.
Why did you found Maono Initiative?
I realized there was a huge need…Nobody should have to live in these places where you have to jump over human faeces and where your toilet is a plastic bag.
How exactly does table-banking work?
People in the slums create groups of around 15 people, people they know and trust…they create their own little bank…The bank makes profit and the bank shares profits…The people who borrow bring [the money] back the next week with 10 percent interest. So that is the [bank’s] profit of the week…
We triple the amount the group saves in six months against a 10 percent interest rate over a year. Our average loan is about 1,250 US dollars (Just over 1000 euros) per group. What we found is that a group can make money with it, so by the time they give us back our money, they have also made money with our money – which is a dream coming true. This is what I wanted. I did not want to exploit these people. I wanted a system where I can help them generate more money.
Why table-banking and not micro-financing?
I had the chance to study how micro-financing worked, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the exorbitant interest rates that they charge on these people. From 12 percent in a year all the way to 48 percent, sometimes even 100 percent. It’s crazy and there are a lot of hidden charges. How am I helping your small business in vegetables with these interest rates? I wanted to look for a way that I could empower these people financially and socially without charging them these crazy interest rates – and still be sustainable.
Apart from these projects in the slums of Nairobi, Maono Initiative fights rural poverty in Kenya by empowering farmers with table-banking and helping them farm chicken. For people in such poverty, the Maono loan is a lot of money. Do they always pay back?
Yes, they are always on time, they take it very seriously. They look at us as partners, not as donors. Most of the NGOs have the mentality of giving. But what you do with that is [a form of] disabling the person. We treat them like equals, they are our business partners. And we make them understand that if you pay it back, [the money] will go to the next group. So if you don’t pay it back, you are basically spoiling the funds.
Maono’s vision is a world without slums. Can politics help reach this goal?
Oh yes, politics can change almost everything. The politicians keep the slum because if you have a slum with uneducated, futureless people, you can buy their vote for 100 Kenyan shilling. If these people will start doing well, they will not allow that any longer. The politicians want you to remain poor, because then the people in the slums won’t ask you questions about your policies.
Nigeria: Rim Partners Hub to Support Mobile Development
Research In Motion (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry® smartphones and BlackBerry® PlayBookâ tablets, will be holding a BlackBerry® 10 Mini Jam developer event on Tuesday, 14th in Lagos.
According to a release from the management, the BlackBerry 10 Mini Jam will provide Nigerian developers with the opportunity to learn more about the unique capabilities of BlackBerryÂ® 10. The full-day schedule will provide insight into the BlackBerry 10 experience, architecture and tools that can help Nigerian developers be among the first from around the world who are creating apps for the new platform.
The event is being held at the CcHub lab as part of an agreement with RIM to support the BlackBerry developer community in Nigeria. RIM is partnering with the CcHub to bring the BlackBerry Developer Program to Lagos, providing resources for developers, students and teachers that want to learn about mobile app development.
The Regional Director for East, West and Central Africa at RIM, Mr.WaldiWepener, said “The BlackBerry platform provides significant opportunities for the developer community in Nigeria.
There is high demand among developers to learn more about the tools for creating local services and apps on the BlackBerry platform, as well as a strong desire to reach the millions of BlackBerry customers around the world. By partnering locally with the CcHub, we aim to share resources and knowledge to create even more opportunity for Nigerian developers and to help create more jobs.”
CcHub is Nigeria’s first IT think-tank lab based in Lagos. Its facility in Sabo, Yaba provides a place for technologists, social entrepreneurs, government, technology companies, investors, developers and enthusiasts in and around Lagos to create new solutions that can help enhance the everyday life and work in Nigeria.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Kenya Launches Bid To Be First African Olympic Host In 2024
(The Daily Telegraph)
Kenya will attempt to become the first African nation to host the Olympics by bidding for the 2024 Games, the country’s prime minister Raila Odinga has announced.
Cape Town in South Africa reached the final bid stage in 2004 while Cairo in Egypt expressed interest for the 2008 Games, but no African country yet been given the honour fo hosting an Olympics .
However, Mr Odinga says hosting the Olympics would bring a psychological boost as well as “enormous benefits” for Kenya from investment in infrastructure.
“Kenya had the confidence as far back as 1968 to consider bidding for the Olympics,” he told the FInancial Times.
“That is the spirit we need to recapture. We need to bring back that confidence and say we can do it. It is necessary to take a look back at where are coming from and where we want to go, because we have been drifting for too long.”
A Kenyan bid is sure to be welcomed by the International Olympic Committee as it looks to spread the Games to all continents, with Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro set to play host to South America’s first ever Olympics in 2016.
Early indications suggest any Kenyan bid would face stiff competition from US cities, including New York and San Francisco, while other countries thinking about bidding for 2024 include Argentina, Morocco and Egypt.
Durban is also a possible 2024 bidder after Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, said he would like to have seen an African country bid for the 2020 Games.
The shortlist for the 2020 Olympics consists of Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid.
The IOC said it was not aware of Kenya’s interest but added: “The [IOC] president has made it absolutely clear that we would love a good bid from Africa.”
Kenya currently sits 27th in the London 2012 medal table with seven medals including golds for Ezekiel Kemboi in the 3,000m steeplechase and David Rudisha in the 800m.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/kenya-launches-bid-to-be-first-african-olympic-host-in-2024-2012-8#ixzz23HXafDzs
Africa growth possibly up to 7 percent by 2015
Published on : 8 August 2012 - 10:11am | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo: AFP)
A rush of investors drawn to the continent’s ambitions to improve infrastructure could drive Africa’s annual growth to 7 percent by 2015, said the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Africa Bureau.
Ranked as the poorest continent in the world, Africa has posted strong growth rates of about 5 percent in recent years, second only to Asia, drawing rising inward investment.
Although Africa may have enviable economic growth rates by global standards, they are still not enough to pull its growing population out of poverty.
The IMF revised down its growth forecasts for Africa in 2012 to 5.4 percent, lower than previous forecasts.
Corruption and civil wars are also likely to puncture the momentum in several African countries, officials said at an African leadership meeting in Mombasa.
More investment needed
Many African countries had embarked on rehabilitation and construction of vital infrastructure systems that were quickly attracting investors locally and internationally, Tegegnework Gettu, who heads the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Africa Bureau, told a conference in Mombasa on Tuesday.
“Investment in Africa has gone up to 15 percent in the last five years alone. This is a remarkable achievement. Africa is so far the fastest growing continent globally. We need to keep this spirit. We need to hasten our infrastructural development, because this is the time for Africa,” Gettu said.
“At the port in Singapore it takes 8 minutes to clear a ship, in Kenya it takes hours, even days sometimes. Those are the issues we should be dealing with and am glad most African countries including Kenya are on course,” he added.
An Economic Report on Africa launched in June in Zambia, by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union (AU) reported that Africa was the second fastest growing continent economically in the world after Asia.
The report said Africa’s potential required even more investment in human capital and technology, physical infrastructure, agriculture and regional economic integration, among others.
Risks to the continent
However, the continent’s economic growth also faced risks from political crises with the potential to spill over to neighbouring states, thus curbing overall growth, Donald Kaberuka, the president of African Development Bank (AfDB) said.
Africa’s economy was affected by the Arab uprisings last year, especially in Egypt, leading to a fall in the continent’s growth from 5 percent in 2010 to 3.4 percent, in 2011, said Kaberuka.
He said Africa was struggling to enhance its appeal as a business market for the whole world, to have its member states be like other established economies globally, he told delegates, among them retired Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo.
“We need to create wealth and protect that wealth from the greed of ourselves. There are investors out there willing to come down to this continent, but we have to make our continent ready for them,” he said.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Somali Stock Market to Be Based in Nairobi
BY LOLA OKULO, 10 AUGUST 2012
(From The Star - Nairobi)
WAR RAVAGED Somalia plans to set up its own stock exchange to be based in Nairobi to help tap investments aimed at reviving the troubled country’s economy.
Representatives of the Somalia government and the Somalia Stock Exchange Investment Corporation yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nairobi Securities Exchange to help in technical expertise needed to set up a bourse.
Somalia which has suffered economically and socially due to over two decades of war and civil strife has never had a stock market. “Initially the exchange could be based here in Nairobi but as the situation improves it could move to a suitable place in Somalia,” said NSE boss Peter Mwangi. NSE will have the primarily help in technical development of the Somalia stock exchange and also help in developing a business plan for the planned exchange.
Mwangi said that Kenya was helping Somalia just as it had done with other countries in the region like Tanzania and Rwanda where it also played a key role in setting up of their stock markets. “Kenya is also the most Somali friendly country in the world,” added Mwangi and as such, he said the onus is on the country to help. “There is a large Somali business presence in Nairobi, we are targeting Somali businesses inside and outside the country,” explained the deputy permanent representative of Somalia to the UN Idd Mohamed.
Mohamed revealed that key firms that are likely to support the Somali bourse are private banks, oil exploration firms and others in the energy sector, telecommunication and Hawallas (money transfer institutions) that are vibrant in Somali and dominated by the community of that country. According to Mohamed, Kenya is also Somalia’s largest business partner hence the cooperation for the bourse set up. It is however not clear how soon this stock market will be operational. “The sooner the better,” said Mohamed adding that the government of Somalia is currently working hard to ensure that the economy of that country is revived.
Young Billionaire Launches Mara.com, Africa’s First Online Mentorship Network
Posted on August 7, 2012 12:02 pm
(From Ventures Africa)
VENTURES AFRICA – Ugandan billionaire and CEO of Mara Group, Ashish J. Thakkar has launched Mara.com, Africa’s first multi-lingual online portal for youth mentorship and entrepreneurship.
The mentorship network is an offshoot project of the Mara Foundation, one of Africa’s largest non-profit social enterprises. The foundation lends support to emerging African entrepreneurs at the forefront of their journey.
Mara Online will be the continent’s first online mentorship network, and will connect young African entrepreneurs to established enterprises and businessmen. According to Thakkar, Mara.com will be a transformational project and will nurture an ecosystem for African entrepreneurs and youth while improving skills and emerging talent.
“The idea for the Mara Mentors site started as an offline venture by Mara Foundation. We mentored 120 companies but felt we could have more impact and reach more people across Africa and other emerging markets. Through this initiative we want to share knowledge and expertise with the next generation of business leaders in Africa. The mentees will be given guidance by some of the brightest and best minds in the industry who have already volunteered to be mentors,” he added.
The Mara.com platform will have three dimensions to it: Mentorship, Jobs and Dating.
Mara Mentors will put young African users in touch with established and successful entrepreneurs across Africa. These mentors will offer insight, expertise and experience into a wide spectrum of industries. They also provide mentees on the network with access to networks and will transfer knowledge and experience to up comers in order to help them transform ideas into sustainable enterprises. At their own discretion, the mentors can at some point opt to meet physically with the mentees and provide support with funding and infrastructure.
Mara Jobs on the other hand will provide a user-friendly platform for employers and prospective employees across Africa to post jobs and resumes, promoting careers and employment opportunities across all industries.
Commenting on the Mara Jobs platform, Thakkar said: “With more than 5,000 people employed across Mara Groups companies, we understand the difficulties of the hiring process in Africa today. We want to use the knowledge we have gained and give the employers and the job seekers a better user experience”
The third platform, Mara Dating will help young Africans find love and companionship. However, according to the Mara.com team, access to Mara Dating will only be possible after registering with Mara Mentors or Mara Jobs, thus attracting a wide spectrum of youth and inspiring a next generation of African entrepreneurship.
Mara.com is being developed by designers and programmers in Silicon Valley, Bangalore, London, Dubai and a few cities in Africa. The network will be free to all users, but its complementary jobs and dating sites will be monetized using third party advertising and other revenue generating models to support the platform.
In addition, revenue generated from Mara.com will be channelledtowards financing the group’s other social enterprise initiatives such as the Mara Launchpad (a group of business incubation centers across Africa), Mara Launch Funds (which provides small startup funding for small businesses and startups across Africa), which were launched last month, and the Mara Entrepreneurship Academy.
According to Thakkar, Mara.com will kickstart innovative activities. Considering Africa’s transit from personal computers to smart phones, Mara.com will be based on mobile and feature phones to fully get adopted by its target audience.
“With Mara.com, I want to ensure that other successful African business leaders have a platform to groom and support young African leaders,” Ashish added.
Mara.com is currently launching in Nigeria, but the platform set to go live globally in December.
Author: Douglas Imaralu, staff writer/copy editor at Ventures Africa.
Uganda Government Accessible In The Cloud
Uganda’s government has put plans in motion to enable cloud-computing in the country. The cloud will serve as a data centre through which Ugandan citizens can access information from government ministries, agencies and departments.
“It is important in that it supports infrastructure sharing and access to information, which is a key to development. Once we implement this, you will just hold your equipment, which has Internet and then access whatever you want,” said James Saaka, the executive director of NITA-U (National Information Technology Authority). The NITA-U is driving the initiative, one the organisation believes will provide for more affordability, security, features and accessibility across a number of different devices.
According to Leadership, “sector experts said that as the government moves into e-government, this is the right time for it to join the platform. They also say that using the solution helps government do away with paperwork, which is said to be riskier than other modes of information storage.”
It is still unclear how much the service would cost, but other state departments have already implemented cloud computing, like Uganda’s Revenue Authority. The company started using an e-tax system so that tax payers can make use of the Internet to apply for any type of license.
Cloud computing is not without risk. Crispus Ombogo, the partner systems engineer for sales at Cisco Systems Management, warned that the Ugandan government needs to implement better online security and develop their Internet infrastructure.
“A poor backbone infrastructure cannot support this solution,” Ombogo said.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor (It News Africa)