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Euvin Naidoo TED Talk on Investing in Africa
As president of the South African Chamber of Commerce – America, Euvin Naidoo works with leading corporations and governments to strengthen trans-Atlantic economic ties. In his Ted Talk, Euvin Naidoo focused on “Africa: the next chapter”. To separate the rhetoric from the reality and the fact from the fiction; to go to the actual data and statistics that exist about the actual things happening in Africa that make this continent a realistic investment opportunity and an option for all around the world.

He stated that investing in Africa is a broad term. Africa is not a country; it is made up of 53 different countries. And every country in Africa has a unique value proposition. You can win money here, and you can also lose money here.

Starting the talk about an investment opportunity, as a banker, Euvin Naidoo mentioned some macro-factors. The first sign is that Inflation is coming down across Africa while reaching double-digit figures in many other countries; he called it “Z.E.N. cluster”.

Zambia from 2004 to 2006 has moved from 18 percent in inflation to 9 percent; Egypt from 16 percent to about 8.4 percent; Nigeria from 16 percent to 8 percent – all in single digits. More fascinating, you have other countries, like South Africa, Mauritius, Namibia, which are also in single digits. And this is just part of the story.

Then he gave specific examples from some countries to illustrate his research.

Instead of focusing on South Africa’s gold, minerals, and its first infrastructure, Euvin Naidoo mentioned other important aspects. South Africa was recently voted as the top destination for the top 1000 UK companies for offshore call-centers. They have the same language, timeline, et cetera. Other big names that had reached Africa were Bain Capital and KKR, the big companies of private equity. Bain Capital’s acquisition of Edcon, a large retailer, is testimony to the confidence these famous names are beginning to place in the economy in what is going to be a long-term play.

Nigeria is clearly a hot spot. The new report, issued by Goldman Sachs, highlighted that, by 2020, Nigeria is going to be among the top 10 economies in the world. And also, without any sovereign backing, Nigerian companies are raising capital offshore.

In the oil industry, Africa provides 18 percent of the U.S.’s oil supply, while the Middle East offers just 16 percent. So, Africa can be an important strategic partner to America.

Finally, Naidoo concluded with Africa’s important position in the world economy because of its investment potential.

– Caiqing Jin (Kelly)

source: Ted Talk
Photo: WhiteAfrica

World Poverty Declines RapidlyOxford University’s poverty and human development initiative published a world poverty report.  As world poverty declines, the report notes that “never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast.”  In fact, if some countries continue to improve at current rates, it is possible to eradicate acute poverty within 20 years.

The academic study measured new deprivations, such as nutrition, education, and health. By examining more than income deprivation, the study is able to convey the bigger picture.  The new methodology is entitled to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).  Past studies identify income as the only indicator of poverty.  This is a misrepresentation because multiple aspects constitute poverty.

The MPI measures poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standards, lack of income, disempowerment, poor quality of work, and threats from violence.  These factors provide a holistic look as world poverty declines.

Dr. Sabina Alkire and Dr. Maria Emma Santos developed the new system.   They named the system “multidimensional” because it is what people facing poverty describe.  “As poor people worldwide have said, poverty is more than money,” Alkire said.

This increased information and understanding better inform international donors and governments.  “Maybe we have been overlooking the power of the people themselves, women who are empowering each other, civil society pulling itself up,” Alkire said.  The new data could incentivize donors to provide assistance.  International and national aid contribute to declining rates.  Improvements to infrastructure, education, and healthcare help decrease poverty rates.  Trade has improved the economies of Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

Rwanda, Nepal, and Bangladesh experienced the greatest decrease in poverty rates.  It is possible that “deprivation could disappear within the lifetime of present generations.”  Close behind in the ranks of poverty reduction were Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia, and Bolivia.

The study is supported by the United Nations’ recent development report.  The UN report stated that poverty reduction was “exceeding all expectations.”

Check out the MPI interactive world map for more details.

– Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: The Guardian

Faces Of Africa: Making Africa LaughAll over Africa, social activity rising in popularity is comedy. “Faces of Africa” is a CCTV show documenting people living in Africa who have a story to tell. In an episode titled “Making Africa Laugh,” the lives of four comedians from Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria with the mission of doing just that are documented.

Nigerian comedian Bowoto Jephta, more commonly known by his stage name Akpororo, attributes his success in comedy to poverty stating that it forced him to recognize his own talents. Besides comedy, Akpororo is well known as a singer planning to release his music album next year. Akpororo who used to be a choir member receives inspiration from the Bible and the church. Most of his jokes, he says, are “about pastors and madmen because in my church they cure madmen.” He currently resides in the Niger Delta region where he lived before his break into comedy saying that he wants to give hope to the youth. Everybody in Niger Delta, he says, is a comedian.

Kenyan Erick Omondi and Ugandan Patrick Salvador are two comedians who both starred in an event called the Battle of Migingo, a competition that pitted Kenyan comedians against Ugandan comedians. Members of the audience were in agreement that regardless of who wins, the expectation was to laugh and have fun. Salvador comments that the importance of comedy in Africa is to show that there is much more to Africa than war and poverty.

Nigerian Oke Bakasi McAntony comments that there is much growth and development occurring in Africa and lives with the philosophy that “Life is just about happiness.” He says that “It is an irony that they say we are the happiest people. Maybe because our shock absorbers are too tough.”

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: Huffington PostTribune

Disputed Rate of HIV in South African SchoolgirlsSouth African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently released troubling statistics which show that 28 percent of his country’s schoolgirls have HIV, seven times the rate of their male counterparts. In an assembly of the National Council of Provinces, Motsoaledi revealed that these figures “‘destroyed his soul’ and blamed the ‘sugar daddies’ infecting young girls with the virus,” as he advocated government policies to stop such predation.

Motsoaledi points to the drastic difference in HIV rates between boys and girls to illustrate his argument; he argues that if schoolchildren were passing the virus to each other, then rates among boys would not be so much lower. However, it is not clear whether this discrepancy is due to “sugar daddies” as Motsoaledi claims, or to the fact that males are less likely to contract HIV from a positive female than the reverse. Some sources dispute these figures, asserting that they are solely representative of “a small number of schools in the Natal Midlands” and that real figures are closer to 12 percent, down from the previous year’s 14 percent.

South Africa has struggled historically with HIV, and in 2009 began one of the biggest anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment programs in the world. But in the following two years, rates of infection among women aged 30-40 increased. Allegedly, these numbers are due to more people who were infected at a young age moving into older age groups. In order to prevent children from being exposed to one of the worst possible viruses known to humanity, proper education and prevention programs must be implemented in all countries. US foreign aid helps pay for these kinds of initiatives, but there is always more to help with. This might decrease the rate of HIV in South African schoolgirls.

Jake Simon

Sources: Nigerian Tribune, Mail & Guardian
Photo: Sydney Morning Herald

african-village-farmers-2seeds-network_opt
2Seeds Network pairs recent university graduates with African village communities in order to develop and implement small, sustainable, and efficient agricultural projects designed to meet the needs of each village. The projects aim to support and enhance food and income security by training rural farmers in effective agricultural practices. 2Seeds trains its young project coordinators in leadership, accountability, and cooperation for the betterment of local African communities.

2Seeds Network seeks a partnership between Africa and America for the improvement of both continents. It fosters globally engaged and empathetic leadership on the American side, while improving basic living conditions for those on the African side. African community leaders and farmers benefit from the energy, passion, and creativity of young Americans, who in turn will engage others in global, humanitarian action.

The ultimate goals of the 2Seeds Network are to:

  • promote self-directed initiative and ownership in African agricultural production and trade
  • initiate sustainable change in local and national African economies
  • develop critically-needed transformative leaders in America

2Seeds Network uses the metrics of food security and income security to measure its programs’ effectiveness  Though each project is tailored to the needs of its partner community, Project Coordinators work to achieve two primary goals: that every family grows enough food to eat throughout the year, and that each family increases its income to more than $1 per day.

Stay tuned for an interview with a 2Seeds Network Project Coordinator working on the Lutindi Project in Tanzania. For more information about the organization, visit the 2Seeds Network website.

– Kat Henrichs
Source: 2Seeds Nework
Photo:Agra Soils Research Group

Lake Malawi MediationOver two million Africans depend on the waters and shores of Lake Malawi for their livelihoods. The lake, which borders Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique, has historically belonged 100 percent to Malawi. However, Tanzania has now laid claim to 50 percent of the lake. The dispute between the two countries has been ongoing for the last fifty years and has only recently come to a head as the result of oil exploration within the lake.

Malawi and Tanzania have submitted their position papers in preparation for the conflict mediation that will take place between March and May of this year, overseen by the African Forum.

The lives of two million Africans hang in the balance. About 1.5 million Malawians and 600,000 Tanzanians depend on Lake Malawi for their daily needs, including food, income, and transportation. As tension between the countries has heightened, Malawian fishermen have experienced abuse at the hands of Tanzanian security forces. One Malawian fisherman, while fishing on the Tanzanian side of the lake, reported being detained, beaten, and told never to fish on that side again. Tanzanian officials denied the harassment charges and expressed concern over Malawian aircraft flying over Tanzania without permission.

Even as tensions over Lake Malawi have increased, residents continue to depend on the lake’s vast resources for their survival. For years, fishermen of both countries have been crossing the invisible border between the countries to fish the entire lake. Local residents depend on the lake’s 2,000 different fish species to support themselves and their families. As a result of being unable to fish the Tanzanian side of the lake, the Malawian fisherman has seen his income reduced from $286 per month to just $142.

The fishermen, as well as national authorities and NGO officials, express concern over what may come to pass if the oil is discovered in Lake Malawi. The lake’s ecological diversity would most likely suffer as a result of oil exploration and drilling. Lake Malawi’s fish stocks have already declined from 30,000 to 2,000 tons per year over the last twenty years. The decline further endangers the livelihoods of local fishermen.

– Kat Henrichs
Source: All Africa
Photo: About.com

UN Highlights Technological Innovation and African Development
An often overlooked factor that underpins the sustainability of development in a nation is the ability to be innovative in the fields of science and technology. Recently, at a United Nations meeting in Tanzania, senior UN officials repeatedly stressed the importance of technological innovation and African development as key in moving past the 2015 millennium development goals and well into the future.

Of the many beneficial consequences of a robust science and technology sector, none is felt more than the long term effects they have on overall growth and job creation. Innovative Green Farming has produced thousands of new startups across much of the developed world, so too have the various technological enterprises built by well funded post-graduate researchers at various universities and laboratories. By harnessing the entrepreneurial power of science-based sectors, technological innovation and African development can work in tandem towards a sustainable economic future. In regards to the need for more innovation in Africa, President of ECOSOC Nestor Osorio remarked that “Innovation is the essence of our modern society. Without harnessing its power, we will not be able to create healthy, educated or inclusive societies. Greater efforts are needed to build partnerships among government, private sector, civil society, academia, philanthropic organizations and the international community, to promote and spread innovation for sustainable development in Africa.”

By utilizing the minds of the African populace, technological innovation and African development can be used to not only pull much of the people out of chronic poverty but also solve the food security and logistical challenges of the continent. By bringing to light the amazing potential of economic prosperity and a greater quality of life through the science and technological sectors, Africa can dramatically reduce poverty levels and standards of living well into the future.

Brian Turner

Source: UN News
Photo: Guardian

African Agriculture and Agribusiness Will Grow to $1 Trillion by 2030A World Bank report states that agriculture and agribusiness in Africa have the opportunity to grow to a trillion-dollar market by 2030.The report titled “Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness” calls for the need to increase access to capital, electricity, technology, and irrigated land to allow for better and increased farming. World Bank Director for Financial and Private Sector Development in Africa Gaiv Tata comments that “a strong agribusiness sector is vital for Africa’s economic future.”

Currently, the size of Africa’s food and beverage market is at $313 billion. This number is projected to increase more than three-fold to $1 trillion by 2030. This growth in the agriculture industry in Africa could lead to an increase in jobs and growth, a reduction of hunger and poverty, and the ability for African farmers to compete better globally by exporting surplus crops.

The report stated that as of now African agriculture and agribusinesses are underperforming with many other developing countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Thailand exporting more than all of Sub-Saharan Africa combined. The import of food products is still rising as exports are falling, a trend, the report says, that can be reversed through good policies, and public-private investment and partnerships.

Much of Africa’s land and water is left underutilized. More than half of the fertile yet uncultivated land in the world is in Africa. And only two percent of Africa’s abundant water resources are made use of compared to the global average of five percent. Africa is the leading importer and consumer of rice in the world with $3.5 billion spent on importing rice from other countries. Though much of Africa is suitable for dairy production, Kenya is the only country to have established a competitive dairy industry.

The report emphasizes that agriculture and agribusiness should be the main prerogative in the development and business agenda in Africa. African agriculture and agribusiness is now being recognized as a powerful and imperative driver in the continent’s growth, accounting for nearly half the continent’s economic activity. More investment through irrigation expansion and increased research into crop varieties would further strengthen the agro-economy. Additionally, when governments effectively work with farms to link them to consumers, they create a more sustainable and dynamic food market rather than only maintaining a reliance on food imports. A strong agriculture and agribusiness market in Africa is key to greater prosperity and a better future for Africa.

“The time has come for making African agriculture and agribusiness a catalyst for ending poverty,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for African Region.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source:  Flickr

ONE's Initiative to Reduce Poverty in AfricaThe ONE Campaign has launched an initiative in Africa called “You Choose,” aimed at creating representation for poor citizens throughout Africa on how to reduce poverty in their own communities.

This initiative to reduce poverty, which has been endorsed by high-profile African celebrities, aims to give a voice to millions of people throughout Zambia, Malawi, and South Africa by sending their opinions and views on how to tackle poverty through Short Message Service (SMS) in hopes that leaders and policy-makers will be pressured into making changes.

Citizens can use mobile phones to text a designated number that will prompt them to explain “what the government can do to help improve [life for] your family and friends” to which they can reply with their suggestions on critical needs facing their families and communities. A goal of the You Choose campaign is to give those in extreme poverty a voice in deciding how poverty will be dealt with in their countries, which will hopefully lead to the poor having a voiced opinion and participating in the decision-making process.

The initiative will collate the data it receives through SMS responses, and the information will be presented to the UN at the end of March when the High-Level Panel plans to meet in Bali to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The organizers behind the You Choose initiative highlighted the fact that only 16.5 million people in Africa had mobile phones when the MDGs were first introduced. Today, over 650 million people throughout Africa have access to a mobile device, which has “allowed people to learn firsthand what priorities Africans believed in and what the new developmental agenda should include.”

Christina Kindlon

Source: AllAfrica
Photo: RNW

A campaign called “Stop the Pity,” launched at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, is sending the message to stop stereotyping Africa as being poor, helpless, and ravaged by famine and poverty. The campaign was founded by a nonprofit called Mama Hope with the mission of re-humanizing Africa, celebrating positive change rather than focusing on inequality.

A series of videos have been released by Mama Hope tearing away the stereotype that depicts Africans as “one-dimensional victims” and in its place, highlights the traits that makes us all human. One video shows African women playing netball, a cross between basketball and ultimate Frisbee. Another shows men joking about how Hollywood tends to portray Africans as the typical villain, firing guns, loving violence and making scary faces. In yet another, a child tells the story of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

Mama Hope works in four countries, managing 32 projects and starting up orphanages, improving sanitation, and reducing poverty. Founder and “chief visionary” of Mama Hope Nyla Rodgers emphasizes the need to empower rather than victimize Africans, using inspiration rather than guilt to get people to help. Reframing the way the rest of the world thinks of Africa, Rodgers hopes people will “stop the pity” and “unlock the potential.”

“We have to have partnership instead of pity,” said Rodgers. “Partnership doesn’t include pity. It includes seeing people as equals and being able to work with them on an equal partnership.”

– Rafael Panlilio

Sources: CNNMama HopeStop The Pity