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Rise of Solar Energy in AfricaThe future is bright for Africa. The continent is beginning to tap into an energy source that is plentiful, clean, renewable and self-sustaining. Unlike other energy sources such as coal or oil, solar energy is a path to energy independence for African nations developing their economies. This desire for energy independence has led to the rise of solar energy in Africa.

Growth Potential

Since sunlight is the most intense closest to the equator, Africa has a great opportunity when it comes to solar energy. The equator runs through the center of the continent, earning Africa the nickname, “The Sunshine Continent.” Companies such as Kenyan-based M-KOPA are tapping into the abundant resource. M-KOPA has, so far, created 2,500 jobs in East Africa. Although the rise of solar power is relatively new, Africa’s access to sunlight could fuel the future.

Independence

Other energy sources are often imported and therefore create a reliance on other nations, whereas solar energy is often independently operated. Nations with vast oil reserves are able to consolidate control over the resource, but not all citizens benefit from the nation’s wealth. The average citizen is not able to drill for oil and process it. Although oil and coal provide money for the nation, only a few wealthy people can control the resource. Individuals cannot build dams or nuclear reactors, but they can install their own solar panels and power their homes. M-KOPA helps foster self-reliance by supplying 750,000 homes and businesses with solar panels to produce electricity.

Additionally, 46% of households that are powered by M-KOPA solar panels generate income from their solar panels. They can essentially sell their excess energy back to the grid. Solar power empowers individuals because they have control over their energy. The ability to sell excess energy allows the people of Africa to collect passive income and invest in their future. Most importantly, electricity is a requisite for many activities and is necessary to live a more autonomous life. Access to electricity allows people to be more productive with their time, as they can see and work at night. Unfortunately, only 43% of Africa has access to electricity.

Companies such as SolarNow provide solar power systems for people that live off the grid. Considering 60-80% of people in Uganda and Kenya live off the grid, companies like SolarNow have an enormous market to serve. SolarNow has sold more than 50,000 units in East Africa. The rise of solar power in Africa will continue to grow the economy of African nations and allow people to take control of their lives and energy.

Clean and Renewable

Unlike other resources, solar power is clean and does not pollute the atmosphere. Solar power is renewable, utilizing energy from the sun, which is relatively infinite. Since much of Africa lacks electricity, it is important that the continent develops sustainably. This way, people do not suffer from the harmful effects of pollution. The rise of solar energy in Africa has been successful so far, considering M-KOPA has conserved 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 since 2011. Although solar panels are expensive, they are a cleaner and more sustainable option than the coal that is currently burned to produce electricity.

A Bright Future

Despite having room for further improvement, the future is bright for the people of Africa. Investing in solar power is a key component to reducing poverty because it empowers individuals to harvest their own energy and potentially profit from it. Far too many African people lack access to the electrical grid, and solar energy is a viable path to powering the continent. The rise of solar energy in Africa will continue to create jobs and produce clean, renewable energy that can help grow the economies of African nations.

– Noah Kleinert
Photo: Flickr

TikTok in Africa
TikTok, the popular video-sharing social media platform, has taken a unique approach to enter the African market by empowering young Africans to take a stance as influencers. Many users on the site share short entertaining videos of themselves or friends singing and dancing along to popular songs. They can connect to others based on shared viewing interests. Some users of TikTok in Africa have decided to take things a step further and use the platform to share their support for certain ideas or causes.

TikTok for Good

One way the company encourages activism on its platform is through the TikTok for Good program, where users receive encouragement to share hashtags across the site that promote causes they are passionate about. “TikTok wants to inspire and encourage a new generation to have a positive impact on the planet and those around them,” the company wrote in a statement on its website. By uploading videos with a hashtag that represents a specific cause or campaign, users can become influencers and advocates and continue to share videos within the trend.

Some of the most successful TikTok for Good trends in the past have been #PetBff and #CreateForACause. #PetBff celebrated International Homeless Animals’ Day in 2019 in partnership with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). TikTok encouraged users to share videos of their pets, and for every video that it posted from Aug. 19 to Aug. 22, 2019, the company donated $1 to the ASPCA. According to the TikTok website, the trend had over 490,000 videos created and raised $75,000, the company’s maximum pledge amount. Similarly, #CreateForACause encouraged users to use special holiday filters in their videos in support of DoSomething.org, a completely youth-led nonprofit organization that advocates for social change; Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit organization in support of animal welfare and Oceana, an international ocean conservation advocacy group. TikTok pledged a $2 million donation to the charities during the campaign.

#DanceforChange Inspires Advocacy

A popular advocacy trend on TikTok in Africa has been the #DanceforChange challenge in partnership with the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). IFAD is a Rome-based U.N. agency that works to encourage individuals, companies and countries around the world to invest in more sustainable agriculture in order to improve food security across the globe. According to its website, IFAD has given $20.9 billion in loans and grants towards 1,069 sustainable agriculture projects that it has supported in partnership with 125 governments. In total, it has reached approximately 483 million people around the world with its programs.

The #DanceforChange challenge encourages users to post dancing content to the site with the hashtag. The videos act as a virtual petition that IFAD uses in support of greater investment in sustainable agriculture across rural African communities. “IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience,” the organization said in a statement on its website.

Sherrie Silver, IFAD’s advocate for rural youth and an MTV award-winning choreographer, partnered with the popular African recording artist Mr Eazi to highlight the TikTok campaign in the hopes of inspiring more African youth to take action using the site. “We are dancing to capture the world’s attention and to share a message with young people everywhere: our generation can end global hunger, but only if our leaders invest more in agriculture and the next generation of young farmers,” Silver said in an interview with IFAD.

The #DanceforChange challenge goes further than other TikTok for Good trends by both offering African youth a space to showcase its talents and giving them the opportunity to advocate for themselves and their communities to a global audience. The platform allows users of TikTok in Africa to catch the rest of the world’s attention and ask for help addressing issues like hunger and inefficient agricultural practices that they still face in poverty.

TikTok in Africa

The Chinese-based company quickly gained popularity in the United States and across Europe, though TikTok is now focusing on the African market. Along with the #DanceforChange challenge, TikTok has begun moving some company operations into Africa. For example, in 2018 TikTok partnered with Nairobi Garage, a co-working space in Nairobi that offers meeting rooms, club space and private offices, to offer educational sessions on creating content and safe practices while using the platform. The company also began hiring local staff for TikTok in Africa throughout Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa in order to both provide jobs within each country’s business sector and connect to the local African market from within.

By moving TikTok into Africa, the company has been able to offer formal employment opportunities at its new office spaces, which in turn helps to reduce poverty levels in those countries as incomes and quality of life increases. Additionally, TikTok is able to create a more inclusive audience as African creators and influencers join the platform to share their culture.

TikTok in Africa continues to make a positive impact both within the country and across the globe by connecting people from impoverished backgrounds to the same creative spaces the rest of the world is able to access. Not only does the app inspire users around the world to advocate for development in Africa, but it also empowers youth within Africa to take their own action to fight hunger because they have a chance for others to hear and see them.

Myranda Campanella
Photo: Flickr

African Agritech Startups
The World Bank predicts that agribusiness in Africa will grow to become a $1 trillion industry by 2030. This growth impacts poverty reduction efforts. For every 1 percent increase in agricultural GDP, poverty in the region decreases by 1 percent. Food security and stable growth in the region can be obtained by investments in agriculture. Specifically, a large branch of agriculture business on the rise is agricultural-tech in Sub-Saharan Africa. With African agritech startups launching in 2010, exponential growth has been seen since. 

Agritech companies, or disruptive agricultural technologies (DATs), aim to develop solutions to ongoing issues in the form of solar devices, mobile apps and even bio-fortified foods. These companies help farmers in two ways: increasing produce yield by 3-5x the baseline and/or connecting farmers directly to buyers and affordable equipment, effectively cutting out the middleman. These technological advances help farmers increase their output, efficiency and access to markets. With the help of agritech, farmers can combat a lack of regional resources and reduce poverty.

5 African Agritech Startups Tackling Poverty

  1. Kitovu is a Nigerian based mobile app that was launched in 2016. The startup’s goal is to help farmers increase their crop yield while guaranteeing sales directly to buyers. Kitovu’s primary motivation evolved from post-harvest loss and waste occurring in roughly 40 percent of crops. This waste is partly due to small farmers being required to sell their goods through intermediaries who take a large portion of the profit. To reduce loss and decrease corruption, Kitovu connects farmers directly to processing companies and relevant consumers. With this information, farmers use Kitovu’s FarmPack to provide insight into the purchase of crop-specific fertilizers, appropriate seeds and agrochemicals. Kitovu also has a user exchange feature, called FarmSwap, that allows farmers to trade produce, thus gaining additional funding through inputs financing. Lastly, Kitovu offers a third feature, called eProcure, to help farmers with various supply chain needs, including exportation and necessary operational machinery.
  2. Agrocenta is a four-tiered software platform founded in Ghana in 2015. Similar to Kitovu, Agrocenta seeks to solve a common barrier to farmers: a lack of access to buyers and financing options. Four distinct platforms are offered. AgroTrade simulates an active marketplace that connects farmers of staples directly to buyers. AgroPay creates a reliable log for various products. AgroInfo delivers industry news such as crop prices and weather updates. Finally, Truckr partners directly with Ghana Private Road Transport Union to ensure drivers deliver goods efficiently. With these services, Agrocenta services more than 46,000 individual farmers.
  3. AgriPredict is a Zambian-based agritech company created by CEO Mwila Kangwa that utilizes AI to help around 22,000 farmers manage risks of environmental disasters, including drought, pests and crop diseases. This mobile app and web-based platform predicts weather patterns and identifies crop diseases through machine learning. A farmer will take a photo of the diseased crop and upload it to the app where the output will be a real-time diagnosis, treatment options and a location of the nearest agricultural supply store. Additionally, AgriPredict has a tool that helps farmers estimate their yield of a specific plot of land.
  4. Yellow Beast Tech is aiming to solve severe water shortages, like the shortages that plagued South Africa from 2015 to 2018. During this time, city dam water levels fell below the typical level by 13.5 percent. Founded by civil engineers, Pontisho Molestane and Matebele Moshoni, the company invents, manufactures, sells and installs irrigation systems aimed to limit water waste. Additionally, the device uses AI to analyze the most optimal conditions for the soil-crop system to aid farmers in maximizing crop yield while limiting water usage.
  5. Hello Tractor, a mobile app, was founded in 2015 to provide affordable equipment to farmers in Nigeria and Kenya. The app connects tractor owners, small-scale farmers, banks and dealers to locate the best solutions. A monitoring device is first attached to the tractor and connected to the cloud. Relevant data is transmitted to stakeholders to optimize agricultural business networking and production. According to the company, 22,500 farmers have been served to date. Further, these farmers see about a 200 percent increase in crop yield.

African agritech startups show promise for the continent by addressing the needs of the ever-increasing population. Not only do these five startups provide an innovative approach to addressing systemic issues in the sector, but concrete solutions to food security and poverty as well.

– Danielle Barnes
Photo: Flickr

Rising Life Expectancy in AfricaBetween the years of 1770 and 1925, Africa’s life expectancy stayed the same while life expectancies were rising in the rest of the world. Since 1925, however, Africa has also has seen a steady rise in its life expectancy. While the average life expectancy stayed at 26.4 years of age for over a century, it has since risen by over 30 years, with an average life expectancy of 60 years of age in 2015. In the 21st century alone, life expectancy at birth has risen by 42 percent, according to the World Bank.

Declining Infant Mortality Rate and Antiretrovirals

Several factors can explain the rising life expectancy in Africa. One main element driving this is the fall in the infant mortality rate and rise in child survival. Fewer infants have died shortly after their births and more children to live past their fifth birthdays due to increased health care and more efficient and healthy, delivery processes. Additionally, a wide variety of generic drugs have become more accessible and more affordable for low-income families in Africa.

Another factor, also regarding health and wellness, that has contributed to the rising life expectancy in Africa is the increased accessibility to antiretrovirals for treating HIV. During the 1990s, life expectancy in Africa significantly declined as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since then, continuous research and funding have been funneled into providing efficient treatments and drugs for HIV/AIDS, ideally at an inexpensive rate. As of 2017, 66 percent of adults and 59 percent of children in Africa who are living with HIV are on antiretroviral treatment and the increase of this treatment directly correlates to the increase in life expectancy.

Rising Incomes

The rising income per capita could also be a factor to explain the rising life expectancy in Africa. According to the World Bank, the GDP per capita in sub-Saharan Africa in 2000 was less than $600; as of 2017, that number has more than doubled and stands at more than $1,500. Of course, food supply in a given country plays a huge role in the projected life expectancy and with more income, there comes greater food security. As mentioned, higher income can lead to greater health services and increased access to housing and clean water also factors into increased life expectancy.

While the continent of Africa has increased its life expectancy rate since 1925, there are some impending factors that could pose a threat to its successes. Africans between the ages of 50 and 69 are at risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar and obesity. These risk factors could lead to increased deaths related to diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.

Since the start of the 21st century, Africa has seen a significant rise in income, allowing the government to spend more on health care and providing vaccines to people who need them. Overall governance in Africa has appeared to have improved over the past couple of decades, according to William Jackson, a senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics. He argues that the rising life expectancy in Africa over the past century, but more specifically the past 20 years, is a huge achievement for the continent, despite potential setbacks in years to come.

– Charlotte Kriftcher
Photo: Flickr

Free Trade in Africa
Free trade is currently a hot topic in Africa. Several countries have already signed a trade agreement that opens the continent to free internal trade and now the European Union is looking to connect with Africa and form an alliance between Europe and Africa. While these talks certainly seem like a good idea, the question of whether they ultimately help Africa’s poor remains unanswered.

A Move Toward Intra-African Trade Improvement

Early in 2018, many African leaders came together in Kigali, Rwanda, to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with the goal of executing the agreement before January 2019. The deal would allow free movement of capital and business travelers. Ideally, it would give a chance for manufacturing sectors growth in many countries and lead to economic diversification.

AfCFTA will potentially cover the market of more than a billion people in African and will be one of the largest free trade areas ever established in the world. Its goal is to create one continental market for goods and services. AfCFTA should also “enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through the exploitation of opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources.” The Economic Commission for Africa has calculated that this deal would increase intra-Africa trade by more than 50 percent through the elimination of trade barriers.

What Does External Free Trade in Africa Look Like Right Now?

Currently, Africa and Europe are committed to the Cotonou Agreement that, unless amended, expires in 2020. Signed at the turn of the millennium, this agreement covers the partnership between the E.U. and many developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

The Next Chapter for EU and Free Trade in Africa

European Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker stated that Africa does not need charity. He said that this continent needs true and fair partnerships. And Europe needs this partnership just as much. His recent State of the Union address called his colleagues to see Africa as Europe’s “twin.” He argued that the perspective of this continent as the one needing Europe’s help or charity was not only insulting but rather false.

Europe is beginning the process of replacing the Cotonou Agreement, focusing on Africa with the goal of a free trade agreement between E.U. and all Africa countries. A report from the European Commission argues for an Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs. The report summarizes that this alliance is more than a financial plan and it represents a radical shift in the way these two continents work as partners toward a logic focused on Africa’s economic potential and the mobilization of the private sector.  This Alliance has 10 main actions in focus:

  1. Boosting strategic investments via blending and guarantees
  2. Supporting the opportunities for manufacturing and processing at the national and regional level
  3. Establishing sectoral groups of African and European public, private and financial operators and academia, under the Commissioner lead, to provide expertise, advice and recommendations
  4. Supporting education and skills development at the continental level
  5. Supporting skills development at the national level to match skills to strategic development choices for each country
  6. Strengthening the dialogue, cooperation and support on the investment and business climate
  7. Supporting the Africa Continental Free Trade Area
  8. Strengthening intra-African and E.U.-African trade in the long-term perspective of a continent-to-continent free trade agreement
  9. Supporting connectivity both intra-African and between the E.U. and Africa
  10. Mobilizing a substantial package of financial resources

This Alliance is estimated to create 10 million jobs over the next five years and hopes to strengthen the private sector as well. AfCFTA is crucial in achieving these goals. African Union’s High Representative Carlos Lopes said that AfCFTA should be the main instrument for a free trade agreement with the E.U. Currently, more than a third of Africa’s trade occurs with the European Union. Lowering costs and improving efficiencies would benefit everyone involved.

Poverty and Free Trade in Africa

Free trade agreements have many advantages and can lead to better lives of Africa’s poor population. However, they can also go in the opposite direction and take away jobs leaving unskilled workers with few options to support themselves and their families.

Free trade tends to increase a country’s economic growth, attracts foreign investors and leads to a transfer of expertise and technologies. It also leads to greater outsourcing, destruction of native cultures and can hurt local industries and firms.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is especially cautious when it comes to opening borders for trade. He has delayed (and may ultimately avoid) agreeing to AfCFTA because he fears that competition from other African nations will destroy local industries. The World Trade Organization meanwhile argues that free trade helps reduce poverty. In fact, their research found that trade liberalization is generally a strongly positive contributor to poverty alleviation since it allows people to exploit their productive potential, assists economic growth, curtails arbitrary policy interventions and helps to insulate against shocks.

The open trade comes with certain consequences, but many countries and many people have benefitted greatly from opening their borders to the free flow of goods and services. If Africa can ratify its internal trade agreement and then form a new alliance with the European Union, it could mean better jobs for the citizens of the continent and poverty reduction.

– Sarah Stanley

Photo: Flickr

Youth Entrepreneurs in Africa
The world is full of innovative thinkers and passionate experimenters. To ensure that these minds are able to make a lasting impact on the world, there needs to be certain types of support to exponentially increase the success rate of the idea. One such support avenue is to encourage youth entrepreneurs in Africa to utilize their skill sets and ideas to benefit not only their communities but also the globe.

The Youth for Africa and SDGs (YAS!) Portal Platform

Recently, the United Nations Development Program launched a Pan-African Entrepreneurship Portal-Platform with the help of Accenture in East, West, and Southern Africa to create an online support community for youth entrepreneurs in Africa.

The Youth for Africa and SDGs (YAS!) Portal Platform was designed and implemented with the intention to cultivate an online network that would promote mentorship between youth entrepreneurs in Africa and established professionals, funding for members and projects, sharing of information that would lead to future developments, and networking between individuals with similar interests and goals.

“YAS! will better serve the private sector with innovation, supplier diversification and talent on the African continent and in parallel accelerate the growth of the entrepreneurship eco-system,” said Sandiso Sibisi, Accenture Africa’s Open Innovation Lead.

Youth for Africa and SDGs’ Four Pillars of Support

The Youth for Africa and SDGs focus on its four pillars of support: Learn, Ecosystem Map, Challenges, and Opportunities.

  1. Learning would help youth entrepreneurs in Africa start strongly with their entrepreneurship. The YAS! Portal-Platform would provide its members with key concepts important in having a successful enterprise development as well as news about other African leaders.
  2. An ecosystem map allows for users to provide or accept funding for certain entrepreneurships and have access to a network of other professionals and young African entrepreneurs. This map would connect the entrepreneurship stakeholders with service providers, corporations.
  3. There are certain challenges that young African entrepreneurs can focus on to receive recognition of a financial award. These challenges are related to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations. This specific pillar is critical for the purpose of this organization as ending poverty and creating a better future for the futures of young African entrepreneurs drives this platform.
  1. Lastly, the opportunities that come with the platform is indispensable for youth entrepreneurs in Africa. These young individuals are able to learn more about the global entrepreneurship and connect with leading entrepreneurs, potential investors, and opportunistic corporates.

“YAS! is a much needed Pan African digital mechanism for youth entrepreneurs to access opportunities and contribute to the positive transformation of the continent through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Tomas Sales, the United Nations Development Programme Advisor for Private Sector.

YAS! and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals are important in any plan for the future because those 17 goals are designed to apply universally to all peoples.

As the Millennium Development Goals are the predecessors to the SDGs, it can be stated without a doubt that these goals are working towards a better world for all. In the case of YAS!, the most important goals are to end poverty, protect the environment and allow people to have the freedom of choice in their futures.

A New and Improved World

A YAS! Informational Leaflet asserts that it focuses on Sustainable Development Goals because they “present a universal call to action by the United Nations for all stakeholders to join efforts to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.”

This digital platform serves to be a place for young entrepreneur minds to flourish and grow while serving as an advocate for achieving the U.N.’s SDGs.

It will allow people to connect with each other as well as work together in achieving something more than just an idea or a project. With YAS!, the entire future can change as these young minds are given the opportunity to work for bettering the world and their lives.

– Jenny S. Park
Photo: Flickr

Mandela
Nelson Mandela is known internationally for his great activism for equal rights for all. Mandela was a South African political leader, beginning his career as a lawyer determined to free his fellow black Africans.

July of 2018 marked his centennial, and though he may no longer be alive, his legacy continues on. His anti-apartheid revolution improved levels of poverty in Africa, and his words of inspiration will forever impact others: “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation

Today, many people still celebrate Nelson Mandela’s work through the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Barack Obama recently gave a speech in celebration of Mandela, encouraging philanthropists everywhere to honor his work. Celebrities like Oprah, Jay-Z, Usher, Ed Sheeran and others are coming together to put on a concert for the Mandela 100 Fest in South Africa.

For those interested in celebrating Mandela, there are several ways to get involved. Action occurs at three levels:

  • Having the humanitarian mindset to care for supporting poverty in Africa
  • Being willing to communicate that concern and the need for aid
  • Finally jumping into action to provide the hands-on work.

Here are the most impactful ways to follow in Nelson Mandela’s legacy and help alleviate poverty in Africa.

6 Ways to Alleviate Poverty in Africa

  1. Believe in Humanity. Before one can bring about change and support for equality and basic human rights for all, the mindset has to exist. It is crucial to truly believe that all humans are deserving of the same dignity and respect. No cultural group is less human than another. Find commonality in humanity and advocate for justice in all corners of the Earth.
  2. Support Democracy. Democracy is the form of government that is ruled by elected officials in which members of the political boundary or state have been given the power to elect. Democracy means that everyone has a voice; thus, less oppression is allowed to take place. Though Africa as a continent is moving toward democracy, some countries remain oppressed, especially those in extreme poverty in rural areas. By supporting democracy in Africa, corruption and widespread violence can be eliminated.
  3. Empowerment. Being oppressed means that your voice isn’t being heard and that you are part of a marginalized, automatically disadvantaged group. The situation often seems hopeless when you are treated as insignificant. Any support for poverty in Africa is helpful, but when individuals feel empowered, minds expand and spirits rise. Be a part of lifting people up to feel empowered to seek out basic human rights — health, education, equality and social justice.
  4. Educate Yourself. With so many ways to access current events, it is fairly simple to stay current on global news. In developed nations, internet access is readily available to almost all persons. Take it upon yourself to seek out the facts and stay informed. Read the newspapers, subscribe to newsletters through your email or on your smartphone, or even search the internet for international happenings. It is important to be aware of credible sources versus not, so that you don’t fall victim to unnecessary hysteria. Another part of being informed about foreign affairs is to know who your public officials are as well as what policies exist for poverty in Africa — both pending in status and already in place.
  5. Dialogue. Don’t underestimate the power of communication. Poverty is a gruesome reality in Africa and many other underdeveloped nations. In a busy day-to-day life, there are many social interactions with people in social and professional circles. Many of these people will be aware of what is going on, and many will not. If people are having the conversations about poverty in Africa, its ramifications and how the U.S. as a leading global country can help, then the more likely it is for social action to ensue.
  6. Volunteer Your Time. Individuals in America and other developed nations can help alleviate poverty in foreign lands without having to travel or donate money. You can make a difference by taking action. Simple acts like calling your representative or sending an email can help bring attention to foreign aid. If time allows, meet with that representative to discuss the importance of supporting poverty in Africa. Contribute to an organization by organizing or volunteering for a fundraiser.

Leave a Mark

Nelson Mandela advocated for citizens of Africa to have the right to education, health, hunger, gender equality, literacy, peace and poverty while also supporting many charities. He has left his mark by not only his influence on political change but also his passionate and relentless motivation of people around the globe.

– Heather Benton

Photo: Flickr

Slums of Nairobi
Interestingly, 21 out of 25 of the world’s poorest countries are located in Africa. As a result, many families in these nations are forced to live in slums, which are residential areas characterized by insubstantial shelters and unsanitary conditions.

One of the major slums in Africa is the Mukuru Slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Dermot Higgins, a director of the charitable organization, Childaid, spoke to The Borgen Project about his organization and how they are changing lives in this slum, among others.

Poverty in Africa

As home to the world’s poorest nations, poverty in Africa is widespread.

  • Amount Spent Per Day: 47 percent of the African population lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2012.
  • Malnutrition: The Save the Children foundation estimates that two in five African children have stunted growth due to malnutrition.
  • Expected Population Growth: Business Insider approximated that more than half of the population growth that will occur between now and 2050 will take place in Africa, likely resulting in increased poverty and hunger.

The Mukuru Slum

Higgins explained that Childaid is helping to fight poverty in Africa by supporting projects in many different areas, but their main efforts are focused in the Mukuru Slum. According to the Ruben Centre, another organization based in Mukuru, the community was established about 35 years ago by people who worked in the factories nearby. It now holds over 600,000 inhabitants.

  • Physical Conditions: The physical conditions of the slum are rough. Higgins described the environment: “Most families survive in tiny one roomed corrugated iron shacks which measure 3 x 3 meters and have no toilets, electricity or running water. There are few communal toilets and water taps and open sewers run past many of the shacks.”
  • Safety and Health Concerns: Other hardships faced by the slum’s inhabitants are safety and health concerns, Higgins noted. “Diseases are rife in the slums and security is a major concern especially after dark when it is not safe to go out.” The Ruben Center listed malaria, typhoid, dysentery, tuberculosis and AIDS as some of the most common diseases in the slum.
  • Education: The Ruben Center noted that 44 percent of children in the slum drop out of school to work. Even the children that are fortunate enough to attend school have subpar education due to limited funds and materials.

How Childaid Helps

According to their website, “Childaid is a charity that supports child orientated projects which will help them get out of the harsh and brutal conditions of slum life. We strive to improve the welfare of disadvantaged children through education, health and residential care projects.”

  • Building Schools and Sponsoring Students: To improve the quality of education, Childaid is helping by building better schools. “The Kwa Njena primary school, rebuilt and developed by Childaid,” Higgins noted, “is like an oasis in the slum for over 2,000 children who receive education in a safe environment.” The organization also prevents students from dropping out by sponsoring them; Higgins spoke of one of their former students: “One of the past pupils of the schools, who was sponsored by a Childaid volunteer in secondary school and university, recently wrote to thank us. He was qualifying as a pharmacist and planning to buy a house and bring his parents out of the slum.”
  • Providing Food: Childaid is helping to eliminate malnutrition by feeding students in school. Higgins spoke of the charity’s accomplishments: “As a result of Childaid’s work, over 2,000 children are getting educated and fed every day.”
  • Funding and Supporting Institutions: According to Higgins, Childaid is helping by raising money to fund institutions, such as a maternity ward, orphanage, HIV program and skills training center.

Childaid strives to not only help those in Mukuru, but to fight general poverty in Africa. The organization’s impact has been considerable given its new schools, support of other institutions and positive influence on a population of poor children across the continent. Higgins concluded, “It’s very satisfying to see the children getting food, education, love and security in school.”

– Olivia Booth
Photo: Flickr

Farming in Africa
Africa faces the challenges of a growing population as well as low farm productivity. Weather changes, shorter fallow periods, deforestation, worsening farmland and the loss of young people in farming communities that move to urban areas further hinders the ability of African farms to increase farm yields.

Fortunately, many tools like drones and soil sensors are becoming more and more accessible and affordable within the continent. Especially with the African population growing at such a high rate (it’s projected to reach 2 billion people by 2050), farming in Africa needs to make use of new technologies to improve in order to prevent mass hunger in its own countries as well as in the world. Here are some examples that demonstrate how technology in Africa improves farming:

Precision Farming

Zenvus, a precision farming startup in Nigeria, helps farmers determine appropriate fertilizers to apply to their soil as well as to optimally water their farms. The company acquires such information by measuring and analyzing soil data such as nutrients, temperature and vegetative health. The group improves farm productivity and reduces input waste for small-scale farmers.

UjuziKilimo, a big data analytics startup in Kenya, also uses precision farming to adjust irrigation needs for individual plants. While these precision farming examples demonstrate that technology in Africa indeed improves farming, Africa still requires major changes in their infrastructure in order to technologically connect the entire continent and make a large-scale soil map.

More Affordable and Effective Irrigation Methods

Sunculture sells solar-powered drip irrigation kits in Africa that make watering crops more affordable. Other efforts have also been made to increase the use of groundwater through the distribution of low-cost treadle pumps and drip-irrigation kits in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and other countries.

One example is portable water pumps occurs via the nonprofit organization, Kick Start. Their pumps are sold in Kenya, Tanzania and Mali from $35 to $95, and the product has been able to take 667,000 people out of poverty! For now, however, surface water is the main source of irrigation for most of Africa, so more surface water storage systems are required to optimize the numerous parts of Africa’s use of river water.

Unfortunately, some obstacles to the development of surface water storage (in some places) would be the cost of construction and possible environmental effects. The Hippo water roller, a drum that hauls large amounts of water by being rolled on the ground, helps numerous people in Africa that lack local water facilities and result in walking long distances to reach their water sources.

Improved Soil Management

Western Kenya is the perfect example of a densely populated area in Africa with low and declining soil fertility and continued threat to land resources. While also facing poverty and food security issues, such areas desperately need to conserve their natural resources, slow population growth rates and fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

One solution delivered by the World Agroforestry Centre was a low-cost integrated soil package that used organic manure to supplement phosphorus dressings as well as existing organic resources like biomass transfer to provide nitrogen to crops. A set of other technologies like high-quality crop seeds replenished phosphorus and nitrogen in the soil.

With the help of these technologies, farmers in Kenya increased their maize production by 2 to 3 times their typical yields!

Financial Solutions

FarmDrive connects smallholder farmers to credit and helps financial institutions increase their agricultural loan portfolios in Kenya. M-Farm in Kenya and AgroSpaces in Cameroon assist farmers to earn more by providing pricing data to prevent asymmetric price transmission.

Better Crop Storage Techniques

In 2015, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), supported by agronomist experts from The Rockefeller Foundation, trained 2,000 farmers on various methods to reduce post-harvest loss. This made a significant impact because before the training, over 50 percent of the farmers AGRA trained either made no use of storage at all or only utilized sacks to store grain.

Some did use plastic containers, custom-made mud-walled structures, baskets and other traditional methods. However, these methods lead to 30 to 40 percent loss of their grain harvests. In comparison, AGRA’s simple storage technologies such as hermetic cocoons and bags, metal silos and polypropylene storage bags successfully kept harvested maize in good condition for six months.

Without rotten produce or pests after 12 months of storage in Tanzania, maize could be sold over longer periods of time. This enabled farmers to make more sales and thus accumulate more income and provide for improved nutrition for families and communities. So, to sustainably feed the entire growing population in Africa, such storage technologies need to be distributed and made locally.

Agricultural development is essential to eradicating poverty and to bringing food security to developing nations, so it is crucial that technology in Africa improves farming.

– Connie Loo

Photo: Flickr

facts about poverty in Africa

Many people are aware that Africa suffers from widespread poverty, but many do not know what that poverty consists of or why it exists. Understanding the facts and seeing the statistics can result in change. Here are 15 facts about poverty in Africa.

Facts and Stats about Africa Poverty

  1. Africa is by far the poorest continent on the planet. 28 of the world’s poorest countries are African.
  2. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the second largest population of hungry people. The largest is in Asia.
  3. Half of the African population lives in poverty. These people do not have access to basic human needs, such as nutrition, clean water, shelter and more. 47 percent of the African population is living on $1.90 or less a day.
  4. Two in five African adults are illiterate. While the continent’s number of schools are increasing, the quality of learning and general attendance is still down due to local violence and gender oppression.
  5. It is projected that the global poor will become more concentrated in Africa. With the population rising at such a high rate on the continent, and having such a large number of poverty-stricken countries, it becomes very difficult to prevent increasing poverty.
  6. One in four people in the sub-Saharan region are malnourished. This is the highest amount of hungry people in the world.
  7. The causes for African hunger are poverty, conflict, the environment and overpopulation. These causes create issues such as disease, floods, genocide and many other resulting crises that result in a lack of food and health within many communities.
  8. Corruption on the continent makes it very difficult to conquer the poverty numbers. With governments confiscating donations from abroad, local militias slaughtering villagers and cultural leaders denying women the right and safety to attend school, poverty perpetuates.
  9. While worldwide poverty is declining — it has been divided in half in the last 30 years — in Africa the progress has been much slower. This is largely due to the rising population and the young age of its government systems, stemming from a history of colonization.
  10. Most of the perpetuation of poverty involves social issues. It is less a matter of wealth, as it is with how the wealth is distributed and shared.
  11. The African governments have not existed for very long. Even in 1950, only four of the 55 African countries had independent governments. Studies state that a government requires several decades at least to stabilize.
  12. The economic gap is huge and still growing. The class system contains huge gaps between the rich and poor, with little mobility due to gender inequality and corruption.
  13. Those living in regions affected by violence are 50 percent more likely to become impoverished. This makes them twice as likely to be affected by hunger. Much of Africa is war-torn and experiencing conflict.
  14. The average woman living in sub-Saharan Africa will give birth to 5.2 kids in her lifetime. While Africa is globally the poorest continent, it is also home to the highest birth rate. With a growing population, this is causing unemployment, disease and hunger.
  15. While the decline of the number of poor in Africa is slower than the global rate, it has recently decreased. It fell from 56 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2012.

Knowing the facts about poverty in Africa can illustrate not only the work that needs to be done but also the progress that has been implemented. Africa is a struggling continent, and these facts about poverty in Africa point to a complex problem of young governments, few resources and a growing population. There is plenty of work still to be done.

– Emily Degn

Photo: Flickr