Entrepreneurship in Africa
Africa stands as a continent of nearly 1.3 billion people, with 27 nations having a poverty rate of over 30%. As COVID-19 spreads through the region, falling demand and break down of supply chains threaten to further slow already-sluggish growth rates. Ever the land of great resilience and innovation, hundreds of enterprising individuals have excelled in Africa, enriching themselves and their countries. Increasingly more Africans are seeking out entrepreneurial and small business opportunities to combat poverty. One such businessman helping in this effort, multimillionaire Tony Elumelu, is using his wealth to fuel entrepreneurship in Africa and transform the continent into a booming commercial hub and providing hope for the future.

Roadblocks to Economic Growth in Africa

Africa’s economy has long suffered stubborn development setbacks. Government inaction, fragile infrastructure and widespread instability have hindered the region’s industrialization and economic growth. Many countries grapple with deficient infrastructure, including inadequate means of transportation, limited access to electricity and water and poor telecommunications systems. The World Bank estimates that the resolution of these structural shortcomings would increase the region’s productivity by as much as 40%.

Politicians have been reluctant to bolster manufacturing despite an international consensus on Africa’s need for industrialization. Such apprehension can be partially attributed to Africa’s unique position in the world economy: a pre-industrial continent already aspiring to post-industrialism. This misguided ambition has discouraged lawmakers from implementing protectionist policies. Without tariffs that benefit domestic manufacturing industries, larger international corporations choke out Africa’s budding factories and discourage entrepreneurship in Africa.

Ongoing fiscal and political instability serves to magnify these already difficult issues. Mounting debt levels divert money from investment to reimbursement and waste significant capital on unproductive endeavors. For example, sub-Saharan Africa’s aggregate debt-to-GDP ratio doubled from 2008 to 2017. Additionally, frequent leadership turnover has deterred international companies from entering African countries.

Working to mitigate these hurdles is Tony Elumelu, the founder of Heirs Holdings Ltd, a private investment corporation that operates in the energy sector. Beyond oil and gas, Elumelu is investing in a far more valuable asset: Africa’s future innovators. His nonprofit organization, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), empowers young entrepreneurs with the resources they need to build meaningful businesses.

How The Tony Elumelu Foundation Advances Entrepreneurship in Africa

The Tony Elumelu Foundation fosters entrepreneurship in Africa to alleviate poverty and spark economic gains. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme offers grants and mentorship to innovative African businesspeople, allowing them to transform their ideas into profitable corporations. Endowed with a generous $100 million, the program has already assisted 9,000 individuals in creating businesses that invigorate their entire communities.

The broad scope of TEF’s investments cultivates economic diversification, a key tenet of development and stability. Some of the organization’s recent beneficiaries include:

  • Stars From All Nations (SFAN): Headed by Tom-Chris Emewulu, SFAN nourishes young minds through informative programs and workshops. Aimed at augmenting and supplementing children’s schooling, the company is helping to resolve Africa’s undereducation crisis.
  • Doctoora: Jubril Odulana, a Nigerian doctor, created Doctoora as a solution to Africa’s limited healthcare access. The platform collaborates with medical professionals to open private practices and ensures patients receive the care they need. In the face of COVID-19, Doctoora plays an essential role in promoting public health across the region.
  • The brainchild of Nnodim Uchenna, offers aspiring developers comprehensive coding courses and guidance, preparing them for future careers in computer science. By equipping students with technological knowledge, the website is propelling Africa into the digital age.
  • Light Salone: Light Salone founder Mohammed Akamara aims to redress Sierra Leone’s severe energy shortage. In pursuit of this goal, Akamara engineered affordable hybrid solar-wind power sources to electrify rural areas and boost development. Manufactured using recycled supplies, these Sowind Technologies provide a mindful solution to Sierra Leone’s electrical desert.

By supporting young visionaries, the Tony Elumelu Foundation is generating hope, ambition and entrepreneurship in Africa. Its passionate beneficiaries are launching innovative and impactful companies that not only empower their creators but also their communities. The foundation has employed the continent’s most creative, altruistic minds, initiating a cycle of philanthropy that portends Africa’s future prosperity.

Rosalind Coats
Photo: Flickr

Clean Water Projects in ChinaDespite its high-tech industry and rapidly growing economy, China is unfortunately also known for its poor water quality. In order to address the environmental implications of these water conditions, 8,000 clean water projects in China have been successfully launched since the start of 2017.

The announcement of the success of nearly 8,000 clean water projects came from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) when they launched the projects at the beginning of the year. This plan to combat water pollution began in 2015, when 343 contaminated groundwater sites were identified and slated for improvement by the government.

The Chinese government promised to improve major waterways as well as to treat wastewater from industrial activities like mining and oil refining. Some areas of land have since been protected from animal husbandry and similar activities and government officials are now held more accountable for the water quality in their respective regions.

According to the report from the MEP, about 95 percent of the sites identified have been improved since the start of the project. However, officials did note that the water quality in some regions – Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning and Anhui – had not received the proper attention.

Water pollution has long been a persistent problem in China. In 2015, 60 percent of groundwater and one-third of surface water was considered to be unfit for human contact by the environment ministry. Water deemed unfit for human contact is often relegated to industrial or agricultural purposes, such as irrigation.

For a population as large as China’s, the lack of available drinking water poses serious complications. The country simply does not have enough water to sustain a population of over one billion people. This is due – in part – to a lack of environmental regulation, however, the industrialization that has overtaken Chinese cities has also dominated much of the water supply.

The clean water projects in China demonstrate the government’s recognition of the importance of combating water scarcity. As a whole, these projects have cost the Chinese government 667.4 billion Yuan or $100 billion U.S. However, these are not the only costly environmental expenditures recently made by the Chinese government.

The Chinese government has also allocated money to solar installations and alternative energy sources in an effort to move away from fossil fuels. This, as well as the implementation of the clean water projects, is part of a greater move toward more environmentally friendly policies and practices. China’s commitment to its environmental goals is a promising look at the future of this flourishing country.

Jennifer Faulkner

Photo: Flickr

Part of China’s industrial landscape spans the Yixing area, and while the chemical boom has made the area one of China’s richest “country-level towns,” it has also caused an immense amount of damage to China’s third largest fresh water lake, Lake Tai.

Moreover, the area of increased industrialization is also located near agricultural fields, and consequently, vegetables are being planted in soil polluted by cadmium, mercury, lead and other disease-causing metals.

Although air and water pollution are widely discussed, soil pollution in China is not as widely addressed.  Only in February of 2013 did the Ministry of Environmental Protection declare that the villages around Lake Tai and the Fenshui and Zhoutie areas are considered “cancer villages.”

Although many factories have been closed in an attempt to reduce the pollution of Lake Tai, much of the damage has already been done, as the harmful chemicals remain in the soil.  Villager Zhang Junwei told a Guardian reporter that cancer rates had risen in the past ten years, and although farmers are aware of the harmful affects their crops have on the buyers, they have no choice but to plant in the polluted soil.

Dingshu has been one of the main areas of pollution, and although in 2011 there was a large effort to shutdown many ceramic factories, by 2013 only 300 had been completely closed.

Guardian reporter He Guangwei writes that “the area’s problems illustrate the high price China is paying for 30 years of rapid economic development and the risks China’s increasingly serious soil pollution poses to its food.”

In April 2014 the Ministry of Land and National Bureau of Statistics released a report saying that “16.1 percent of China’s soil and 19.4 percent of farmland were contaminated.” These results are forcing government officials to take more immediate action against the increasing pollution.  Legislation increasing fines for polluters and ensuring that economic growth is not the sole factor in giving promotions to local officials is being developed in response to the environmental damage.

-Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: The Guardian, eWater
Photo: The Guardian

YOKOHAMA, Japan – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan will make a large aid investment in Africa because the continent will be a growth engine in the coming years and will be at the leading edge of economic expansion. He also advocated for Japan to make a commitment to the continent in a mutually beneficial way.

Abe made his remarks at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama in early June. He opened the conference with a $14 billion (1.3 trillion yen) pledge for aid to help Africa. The investment is part of a larger investment of 3.2 trillion yen from Japan’s private and public sectors over the next five years. Abe told a press conference that this is a prime time for Japan to invest in Africa.

The investment is expected to support trade, infrastructure and private sector development, agriculture, agro-processing and health.

“Africa will be a growth center over the next couple of decades until the middle of this century,” Abe said. “Now is the time for us to invest in Africa.”

Abe said Japan would focus on industrialization in Africa to “generate employment and growth.”

Japan has been a long time investor in Africa, but it recently fell behind China, which has taken an aggressive approach to investment on the continent. Critics have charged that China’s investment is focused on a so-called resources grab and has not focused enough on improving human rights.

Officials in Japan stress that the country’s relationship with Africa should be a business partnership, not just a simple donor relationship. Abe has pledged to triple the value of infrastructure exports from Japan, which could be a good fit with Africa’s need for infrastructure such as roads, rails, ports and a stable power grid.

– Liza Casabona

Source: United Nations’ Development Programme, Economic Times
Photo: Rendezvous