Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

8
Mar

Written by Matt Pelton (MIR 2014-15), the former program director of the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship at the African Leadership Network

Paul Kagame

In November 2014, the African Leadership Network (ALN) hosted its fifth annual gathering in Kigali to celebrate and recognize Rwanda’s reconciliation and growth since the tragic genocide. 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi minority. A country divided due to its colonial legacy, ongoing tension between the Hutu and Tutsi had existed in Rwanda since a Hutu-led revolt brought independence from the Belgians in 1962. Today, the Land of a Thousand Hills boasts new state-of-the-art facilities, scores of tourists each year, some of the continent’s strongest education and healthcare programs, and a very conducive environment for entrepreneurs and foreign investors. While greater income equality and universal access to social services still must be achieved, the nation receives praises from around the world for its economic growth, social inclusion, and good governance.

IMG_8269ALN’s 2014 event convened 300 of its influential members and partners from across Africa and abroad. The group celebrated Rwanda’s impressive growth and aimed to learn leadership lessons from the public sector. His Excellency President Paul Kagame participated in an insightful dialogue on his personal journey and approach to leadership, as did other public sector leaders such as Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda Development Board CEO Francis Gatare, former Zimbabwean Minister of Industry & International Trade Nkosona Moyo, and Tanzanian presidential candidate January Makamba. Sessions addressed the future of African cities, the Ebola crisis in West Africa, innovation in education models, inclusive financial services and technology, how to build an effective public sector, foreign policy as a driver of prosperity,and investment opportunities in Rwanda. Aligned with Rwanda’s focus on entrepreneurship and private sector growth, the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship gala dinner honored the most innovative and inspiring entrepreneurs from across the continent. In addition, ALN officially launched its Ventures program, which is now sponsoring its inaugural class of entrepreneurs with funding, mentorship, and strategic support.

While Rwanda has made significant progress through its reconciliation and economic resurgence, arguments for greater political freedoms and participation still exist. As Amartya Sen presented in Development as Freedom, some could argue that true development is only achieved with the presence of political freedom, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees, and protective security. Thus, some critics of Rwanda question whether the country should in fact be considered a bright story of governance and growth for the continent. Conversely, the global economic crisis showed us that the means to development need not always replicate the “Washington Consensus” of the West. The 2014 UNDP Human Development Report illustrates that Rwanda’s life expectancy, expected years of schooling, and GDP per capita (PPP) have improved drastically since 1980. Accordingly, such steady socio-economic improvements and the reconciliation of a divided country warrant recognition for the progress achieved by a government that inherited a dismal situation in the wake of the genocide.

IMG_8278 Read more…

27
Oct

 

Evans Wadongo_21102014 (41)

Written By Matthew Pelton, IE Master in International Relations Student, 2014/2015 Intake

 

Kenyan entrepreneur Evans Wadongo, the Founder and Executive Director of Sustainable Development for All (SDFA), conducted a seminar with the MIR class on Tuesday 21 October.  Mr. Wadongo discussed his entrepreneurial journey from rural Kenya to the world stage, as an accomplished social entrepreneur recognized as a CNN Hero and Schwab Foundational Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the widespread impact of his solar lantern enterprise.  Building off the MIR’s Base of the Pyramid workshop, the session addressed the power of innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa and discussed the changing relations within Africa and between Africa and the world.  The session concluded with interactive Q&A on recent course topics, and MIR student Matt Pelton provided context based on his previous work experiences at the African Leadership Network.

Innovation and Opportunities

As economic growth continues, and the “Africa Rising” story garners attention, there are questions whether social development is following closely behind.  The UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) might provide a different perspective.  The continent’s largest economy, Nigeria, ranks very low (#152 out of 187) based on the most recent HDI data.  As such, there still is a need for African entrepreneurs to create social impact through their businesses.  With foreign aid and government initiatives further removed from the needs and opportunities in local communities, Mr. Wadongo emphasized the significant opportunity to build innovative, local solutions from the bottom up. Using savings from his student loan, Mr. Wadongo developed a simple solution to a widespread problem.  He grew up in rural Kenya and developed eye sight problems at a young age due to kerosene oil.  His solar lanterns are made from recycled materials and provide a sustainable and healthier alternative to more expensive kerosene lanterns.  SDFA’s innovative business model provides solar lanterns on loan to women, who then use their kerosene savings to start businesses that support their households.  SDFA provides capacity-building support to the women entrepreneurs and to the unemployed youth that are trained to build the low-cost lanterns. Africa has become a growing hub for technology entrepreneurs in recent years (World Bank blog), but innovation can be found in sectors beyond technology and energy, such as financial services, agriculture, and education.  Examples provided in the seminar included a nano-lending mobile platform based in Kenya, an organic fertilizer made from bat droppings found in Madagascar caves, and an innovative chain of low-cost African universities, among others.  The continent’s population is rapidly growing, and UNICEF believes the youth population (under 18 years) will grow to nearly 1 billion by 2050.  Entrepreneurship and related education initiatives will play a key role in ensuring that unemployment is minimized through sufficient job creation.  With proper education and job opportunities, youth will be less likely to join rebel groups and extremist terrorism organizations, which recently has become a threat to local and international security.  

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22
Sep

Warning: The 21st century may get a lot more crowded than previously thought.

In a paper published Thursday in Science, demographers from several universities and the United Nations Population Division conclude that instead of leveling off in the second half of the 21st century, as the UN predicted less than a decade ago, the world’s population will continue to grow beyond 2100. (Read “Population Seven Billion” in National Geographic magazine.)

And for the first time, through the use of a “probabilistic” statistical method, the Science paper establishes a range of uncertainty around its central estimate-9.6 billion Earthlings in 2050, 10.9 billion by 2100. There’s an 80 percent chance, the authors conclude, that the actual number of people in 2100 will be somewhere between 9.6 and 12.3 billion.

Chart showing new world population estimate including range of possible values.

NG STAFF. SOURCE: UN

That range “is the truly innovative part,” says John Wilmoth, head of the UN Population Division and one of the authors of the Science paper. “It’s a much more plausible analysis of uncertainty—but we may still be off by two billion.”

According to other demographers, the UN has missed the mark by just about that amount. In a paper in press at Global Environmental Changeand in a forthcoming book, Wolfgang Lutz and his colleagues at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna, Austria, use a very different method—one that involves canvassing a large group of experts—to argue that population is likely to peak at 9.4 billion in 2075 and fall to just under 9 billion by 2100.

The UN team estimates there’s no more than a 5 percent chance of that rosier scenario coming to pass.

Both groups foresee India becoming the world’s most populous country, with its numbers peaking around 2070 and declining to around 1.5 or 1.6 billion by 2100. Where they differ most is in their estimates of the coming population decline in China and of the coming population explosion in Africa south of the Sahara—where most of the world’s growth is going to occur.

According to the UN, the population in that region could quadruple, from less than one billion to nearly four billion. Africa in 2100 would be as densely populated as China is today.

“These are not predictions,” says Wilmoth. “These are projections of what will happen if current trends continue. There is still an opportunity to intervene.”

Read more…

Robert Kunzig

National Geographic

PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 18, 2014

15
Sep

Africa Beyond Ebola

Written on September 15, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Africa, International Development

MADRID – Among this summer’s grave global worries, the spread of the Ebola virus has monopolized the discussion of Sub-Saharan Africa and reinvigorated hoary notions of disorder and despair – at a time when a new image of a dynamic Africa was emerging. In fact, there is still strong reason for optimism about the region’s prospects.

The Ebola outbreak overshadowed three key events affecting the region. On July 1, a major organizational restructuring at the World Bank Group was implemented. Two weeks later, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) announced the establishment of the New Development Bank. And, in early August, African government and business leaders gathered in Washington, DC, for a summit that could portend transformative private investment in Africa.

Such investment is essential in a world in which net private capital flows to developing countries outstrip official development assistance by a margin of ten to one. If this is to be a turning point for Africa, rather than another false dawn, this summer must be the start of a prolonged effort to stimulate private-sector engagement.

The reorganization of the World Bank is a central part of a larger effort under its president, Jim Yong Kim, to reposition the Bank as a facilitator vis-a-vis the private sector, rather than a primary provider. From 2009 to 2013, new investment commitments by the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private-sector lending arm, have risen 73%. Meanwhile, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, the Bank’s provider of political risk insurance covering investments in developing countries, has moved to expand its activities, both by broadening the types of projects that it supports and widening existing definitions to allow greater coverage.

July’s restructuring occurs within the context of these broader moves. In reorganizing the World Bank Group’s central component, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Kim has adopted a management-consulting model that unites expertise with regional coverage. Seeking to eliminate the bureaucratic “silos” that have isolated regional experts from one another, 14 global practice groups in areas such as energy, water, and education have been established to bring to bear the full force of the World Bank’s considerable knowledge on projects and partnerships.

Just as the World Bank was repositioning itself, the BRICS agreed to establish their own bank. There are significant outstanding issues about how the New Development Bank will operate, but early indications suggest that infrastructure will be central to its activities, with an emphasis on Africa.

The World Bank estimates that insufficient infrastructure reduces productivity in Africa by approximately 40%. The entrance of a new player with initial authorized capital of $100 billion – along with the United States’ Power Africa program, which has garnered $26 billion in commitments since its launch last year, and the World Bank’s new Global Infrastructure Facility – promises to help ease infrastructure financing significantly.

But, as of now, the New Development Bank is little more than a statement of political solidarity, and whether it comes into existence remains to be seen. Even if it does begin to function, the BRICS lack what gives development banks, and the World Bank in particular, legitimacy and weight: a staff composed mostly of dedicated experts who are among the world’s best.

Finally, the high profile of the US-Africa Leaders Summit, with more than 40 heads of state in attendance, as well as President Barack Obama’s direct involvement, generated buzz about Africa. US businesses and investors certainly gained more awareness about Africa’s potential and a deeper understanding of the variety of investment climates throughout the continent.

But, though the summit may be called a success, its long-term implications are unclear, particularly given the uncertainty about what will follow. At the moment, there does not seem to be a plan to institutionalize the summit.

Moreover, the participation of so many heads of state overshadowed that of African business leaders. The practical connections that US companies will need when deciding whether to invest could have been cultivated on the summit’s margins, or in its aftermath, but were not. Laying a foundation for future engagement requires ongoing commitment and effort that goes beyond mere publicity.

The same could be said about the World Bank. There is much work to be done in integrating the new organizational model with existing Bank structures and practice areas. Even if this transition occurs seamlessly, the Bank faces a serious internal struggle against entrenched bureaucratic interests and a pervasive institutional mindset that is overly risk-averse and fixates on processes rather than outcomes.

In recent years, Africa, once a land of pity, has emerged as a land of opportunity. If it is to become a land of performance, the goal must be to facilitate investment, both domestic and foreign. That will demand effort and commitment; given that a stable international order increasingly depends on a prosperous and growing Africa, it is a goal that the world cannot afford to miss.

By Ana Palacio. Published on Sept. 4th in http://www.project-syndicate.org

Ana Palacio, a former Spanish foreign minister and former Senior Vice President of the World Bank, is a member of the Spanish Council of State and a visiting lecturer at Georgetown University. She is also a member of IE Business School’s International Advisory Board.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/ana-palacio-says-that-the-disease-s-outbreak-has-overshadowed-three-key-recent-events-affecting-the-region#bEyEVEZOrsR5a1MH.99

27
Aug

how not to end a plague

Written on August 27, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Africa, News, Op Ed

MONROVIA, Liberia — Liberia’s first experiment with urban quarantining amid the Ebola epidemic began last week in West Point, one of the poorest, most densely populated, and ethnically diverse communities in Monrovia, the country’s capital. On the morning on Wednesday, Aug. 20, West Pointers woke up to find that they were cordoned off from the rest of the city by a makeshift barricade made of wooden tables and concertina wire and manned by armed police officers and soldiers. They panicked — they had no idea how they would tend to their business, when they would eat, or how they and their families would receive medical treatment. No one informed them of what was to follow. When the town commissioner, the presidentially appointed official in charge of West Point, Miatta Flowers, attempted to escape with her family from the quarantine zone, outraged residents of the ramshackle seaside slum rioted, clashing with the police and army troops who had been dispatched to ring them in. Their commissioner seemed to be abandoning them, making a getaway while leaving them trapped.

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Published on Aug. 26 by Clair McDougall in www.foreignpolicy.com

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