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The Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at Brookings released a report of top priorities for Africa.  The AGI “brings together African scholars to provide policymakers with high-quality research, expertise, and innovative solutions that promote Africa’s economic development.”  The Foresight Africa report shows promising opportunities in Africa.  It outlines the top priorities for Africa in 2013.

Moving from “economic stagnation to above 5 percent GDP growth on average,” Africa is prospering.  Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania are some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and African governments are embracing this growth by lowering transaction costs.  Africa’s economic growth is creating a new middle class.  This middle class means new markets for goods and services.  The Foresight Africa report notes that it is a prime time for investors.

Some African countries are mirroring Asian models and engaging their diasporas for economic and social development.  South Africa, for example, is using TalentCorp’s model.  TalentCorp is a partnership between the government, the private sector and the overseas diaspora.  The model aims to bring highly skilled Malaysians living abroad back to their home country.

Countries everywhere recognize the potential in harnessing Africa’s diaspora.  In 2011, the United States Congress proposed the African Investment and Diaspora Act.  The bill was designed to support African development.  Ghana and Kenya are on the cutting-edge and have already “established units within their respective governments to oversee diaspora affairs.”  AGI’s Foresight Africa report points to these examples as models for other countries.

Check out the full report for more information.

Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: Brookings
Photo: Daily Maverick

malawi

It is estimated that over 277 million people across the continent of Africa obtain their livelihoods through agriculture. Many of these people are located in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. In fact, agriculture is a large component of the economies in these three countries. Improving food and farm productivity in these three countries could help in the fight against poverty. Agricultural productivity has been found to be a critical component in eradicating poverty because it creates food security and helps to protect the environment.

Recently, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved an International Development Association credit of $89.4 million to aid in food and farm productivity in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. The credit will go towards the creation of Regional Centers of Leadership for food staples, such as rice and maize, help spread technological advancements, such as mobile phones, as well as will help boost agricultural research capacity and help spread technological advancements, such as mobile phones and help train farmers and provide agricultural knowledge. At least 30 percent of farmers chosen to receive aid or benefit from the aid are women.

Michael Morris and Melissa Brown, World Bank Co-Task Team Leaders, said, “The agricultural sector has a strong influence on growth, employment, food security and poverty reduction efforts benefiting the entire economy…successful implementation of this innovative project that takes a farmer-centric approach to development and dissemination of improved crop varieties and promising farm practices” will be beneficial to a multitude of people and help in the fight against poverty.

– Angela Hooks

Source: allAfrica
Photo: Guardian

mozambique-flood-victims
The nation of Mozambique experienced one of the worst floods in recent history due to extremely high amounts of rainfall throughout the month of January. The province of Gaza has been especially damaged by floodwater. Over 250,000 have been affected by the floods, with 150,000 people forced out of their homes in the province and over 100 killed.

While the victims of flooding in Mozambique are dealing with destroyed homes and families, the natural disaster has been exacerbated by the outbreak of cholera. There have been over 250 cases so far, fortunately no cases have proved fatal. Mozambique has experienced problems with cholera for years, so their response has been effective thus far. However, the potential for more flooding means that they must remain vigilant.

The complete rebuilding effort is estimated to cost over $30 million, according to The Humanitarian Country Team in Mozambique, an organization comprised of NGO and UN officials. UNICEF itself seeks $6.8 million from this fund to pay for projects to improve the welfare of children and those around them, like building clean water pumps and constructing new homes.

According to Jesper Morch of UNICEF, “emergency supplies and funding has been depleted…we urgently need additional funds if we are to help many children and families recover.”

Jake Simon

Sources: news24, UNICEF, Al Jazeera
Photo: Times Live

FreedomProject
It was in 2010 when Emmy-award winning TV producer Kimba Langas partnered up with pastor and social entrepreneur Dave Terpstra to make a difference.

Dave had moved to Mozambique with his family to help rehabilitate women who were survivors of sex trafficking. He wanted to help the women find jobs in order to ensure themselves a sustainable income, thereby lessening their vulnerability. Trafficking is all about vulnerability, he explains; people who are desperate to work and make money are taken advantage of.

“He found his answer in the bustling used clothing markets of Mozambique,” writes CNN producer Lisa Cohen.

Selling bras seems like a unique, new and interesting idea, but it wasn’t based on a random decision. Dave noticed that these women could make a profit that was higher than minimum wage by selling second-hand clothing, and bras are well-demanded. He went on to team up with Kimba Langas to address this idea, and they created the Free the Girls charity, which collected bra donations from all over the U.S.

Langas created a Facebook page to publicize the start-up fundraiser, and the bras started pouring in. She explains that a majority of women have a large collection of bras that don’t fit well anymore or bras that are not being used anymore. However, after a few months, Langas ran into a new issue concerning the 20,000+ bras she had been sent – the shipping alone would have cost her $6,500, well outside her budget for the project.

“That’s when the story was featured on CNN, and everything changed.”

Paul Jarzombek, Director of Operations at LR International, reached out to Langas since he has a shipping company in Chicago. A domino effect of kindness then occurred as a truck driver, Rick Youngquist, offered to deliver the bras from Denver to Chicago.

Rick had recently joined an organization called Truckers Against Trafficking where truck drivers learn about how to spot and respond to signs of human trafficking on the road. Although it took three months, the bras did eventually reach Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.

According to Lisa Cohen, the success of this bra charity led the Free the Girls organization to target other places within Africa and beyond. For now, women survivors in Mozambique express their gratitude. One survivor has said, “I just want to tell the people in America, they’ve given us the strength we needed. Thank you very much.”

And that is how bras helped human trafficking survivors; anything is possible.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: CNN Freedom Project

mozambique flood
Heavy rains last month have caused a destructive flood in the southern part of Mozambique. Forecast predicts more heavy rain and a high risk of continued flooding. On February 11, the UN emergency humanitarian fund has allocated $5 million to distribute life-saving resources and assistance to over 150,000 people displaced by the flood.

The flood during this rainy season has killed 150 people and destroyed hundreds of homes and crops. The funds from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), managed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will be used to provide essentials such as food and shelter, medical care, and water and sanitation.

The large scale of the disaster calls for more aid and funding, however. OCHA has announced that $10 million has been allocated for the emergency in a news release. For now, $2.3 million will be distributed to the World Food Program, over $1 million to UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration, and $820,000 to a joint UNICEF/UN Population Fund/WHO project.

This allocation is only the first step. CERF aim to solicit $30.6 million from the international community to continue the flood relief efforts, ensuring a quick recovery.

– Pimrapee Thungkasemvathana

Source: UN
Photo: Business Recorder