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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Examining the 2012 Financial Development index rankings of African States by the World Economic Forum , By Chofor Che, 31 October 2012


The Financial Development Report measures and examines the factors allowing the development of financial systems in a couple of economies around the world. It aims to furnish a comprehensive modus operandi for states to benchmark various aspects of their financial systems and put in place priorities for economic improvement. It is published annually so that states can benchmark themselves and track their progress over time. Since 2008, the year that the Financial Development Report was first launched, financial systems around the world have been hit with a couple of devastating crises. From crippling unemployment, serious housing bubbles, unsustainable debt levels and economic stagnation, few states have been spared. Even emerging economies, which showed relative strength during this period, have been unable to decouple successfully from Western markets.

The Report presents the rankings of the Financial Development Index, developed by the World Economic Forum in partnership with business leaders, public figures, the academic community, and multilateral organizations. It puts together an enormous amount of data to create an assessment of the various aspects of complex financial systems, including the business environment, the institutional environment, capital markets, financial stability, banks, and overall capital availability and access.

The Report appeals to a large audience such as policy-makers, business leaders, academics and different organizations of civil society. It aims to provide policy-makers with a balanced perspective on which aspects of their country’s financial system are most important and with the ability to empirically calibrate this view relative to other countries.

In the 2012 Report, Hong Kong is ranked first, with the United States of America coming in second place. Concerning African states, South Africa is ranked 28th, as compared to being ranked 29th in 2011. The next African state on the list is Egypt, which is ranked 53rd, as compared to being ranked 49th in 2011. Egypt is followed by Kenya, ranked 54th, Ghana ranked 56th Tanzania ranked 60th and Nigeria 61st. It is rather unfortunate that central African states like Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo Brazzaville, do not feature in the top 62 of this ranking.

Judging from Africa’s performance according to the rankings of the 2012 Report, it is obvious that there are still concerns with the business environment, the institutional environment, capital markets, financial stability, banks, and overall capital availability and access, in African states. This in effect means that African states need to address issues of corruption as well as poor financial management plaguing their economic and financial improvement. The key lies in the central governments of African states and most especially central African states to create a friendly business environment in their states, as well as an institutional environment, for capital markets to flourish.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Is China good or bad for Africa?By Peter Eigen, CNN, 29 October 2012


Editor’s note: Peter Eigen is a member of the Africa Progress Panel, chaired by Kofi Annan. He is the founder and chair of the Advisory Council, Transparency International, and chairman of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The views expressed are the author’s own.

China’s growing presence in Africa is one of the region’s biggest stories, but even seasoned analysts cannot decide whether this booming relationship is good or bad for Africa.

Critics say Chinese strategy is entirely self-promotional, aimed at maintaining access to Africa’s precious mineral resources even when that means propping up odious governments. China’s supporters say the Asian superpower is strictly neutral and business-oriented, preferring to generate economic growth not a dangerous dependency on aid.

China has certainly been contributing to Africa’s economic growth, both in terms of trade and with building infrastructure. All over the continent, it has built roads, railways, ports, airports, and more, filling a critical gap that western donors have been shy to provide and unblocking major bottlenecks to growth.

The rehabilitated 840-mile Benguela railway line, for example, now connects Angola’s Atlantic coast with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. And Chinese-financed roads have cut journey times from Ethiopia’s hinterland to the strategic port of Djibouti, facilitating livestock exports.

Meanwhile, bilateral trade between Africa and China continues to grow at an extraordinary pace, reaching $160 billion in 2011 from just $ 9 billion in 2000.

Read more at Is China good or bad for Africa?

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Entrepreneurship, Culture and Solidarity in Africa, Global Voices, Translation posted 28 October 2012 10:55 GMT


Since the early 2000s, entrepreneurship in Africa [fr] has reported strong organic growth [fr]. However this development has not spread in all market sectors and too often seems to be limited to service industries and trade. Africa has 65 million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) [fr], nevertheless it is still struggling to develop a class of local entrepreneurs to manage strategic industries, specifically the export of agricultural raw materials, mining, transport and industry public works where the market too often turns to foreign managers.

Yet investors’ enthusiasm for Africa, that many see as the latest Gold Rush for those seeking an alternative to Asian markets, has an impact on local government policies which are concerned with developing their private sectors. The final report [fr] of the World Bank indicates that the reforms undertaken by most African governments have improved the business environment in the administrative, fiscal and regulatory domains.

Candy factory of the Senegalese Sugar Company (Senegal) by Manu25 on Wikipedia under creative commons licence

Numerous academics and researchers have examined the influence of cultural practices in order to understand the entrepreneurial adventure in Africa. Their researches led them to consider the weight of cultural values and principles strongly anchored into the collective psyche of African businessmen to evaluate the factors for success for African entrepreneurs.

The irrationality of economic choices of African business executives facing the social pressure of ethnicity,or their extended family has been extensively studied.

Read more at Entrepreneurship, Culture and Solidarity in Africa

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Entreprenariat, culture et solidarité en Afrique, Par Global Voices, Publié le 21 Octobre 2012 8:33 GMT


Depuis le début des années 2000, l’entreprenariat en Afrique connait une forte croissance. Cependant cet essor n’a pas gagné tous les secteurs du marché et semble trop souvent se limiter aux industries du service et du négoce. L’Afrique compte 65 millions de Petites et Moyennes Entreprises PME, cependant il peine encore à développer une classe d’entrepreneurs locaux pour diriger ses industries stratégiques, spécifiquement les exportations de matières premières agricoles, l’extraction minière, les transports et le secteur des travaux publiques où le marché a encore trop souvent recours à des gérants étrangers.

Pourtant l’engouement des investisseurs pour l’Afrique, considérée comme le dernier Eldorado par des décideurs à la recherche d’une alternative à la conquête du marché asiatique, influence les politiques des gouvernements soucieux de développer leur secteur privé. Le dernier rapport du groupe de la Banque Mondiale indique que les réformes entreprises par la majorité des gouvernements africains ont amélioré l’environnement des affaires dans le domaine administratif, fiscal et réglementaire.

Sucrerie de la Compagnie sucrière sénégalaise à Richard-toll (Sénégal) par Manu25 sur wikipédia sous license creative commons

De nombreux universitaires et chercheurs se sont penchés sur l’influence des habitudes culturelles pour comprendre l’aventure entrepreneuriale en Afrique. Leurs recherches les conduisent à considérer le poids de valeurs et de principes entretenus dans l’inconscient collectif pour jauger le succès des entrepreneurs africains.
La question de l’irrationalité des choix économiques des dirigeants d’entreprises africaines face à la pression sociale de l’ethnie ou de la famille élargie, par exemple, a fait l’objet d’études approfondies.

Lire la suite Entreprenariat, culture et solidarité en Afrique

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Leaders, academics to debate economic transformation, empowerment at African Economic Conference 2012, Source: African Press Organization, 28 October 2012


Hundreds of leaders and scholars from Africa and around the world will gather in Kigali, Rwanda, from October 30 to November 2 to debate the continent’s prospects for sustainable and inclusive growth in the context of the international economic crisis.

Organized each year by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the 7th annual African Economic Conference will be held in Kigali under the theme “Inclusive and Sustainable Development in an Age of Economic Uncertainty.”

The conference is the most comprehensive event held each year on Africa’s economy and development, discussing macroeconomic prospects, as well as trade and finance and development policy in a global context.

Africa has grown strongly over the past decade. Having weathered the economic crisis, the continent’s average growth is expected to rebound to 4.8 percent in 2013.

The region now faces the challenge of translating that growth into effective poverty reduction and sustainable human development, through employment creation, the establishment of quality social services, and expanding opportunities for political and economic participation.

The conference will examine the possibility of pursuing these objectives in the face of a worsening international economic environment, volatile food and fuel markets, and falling levels of exports, remittances and official aid.

“African policy-makers are by and large continuing to realize their quest for growth and improved well-being in their countries,” said Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank. “However, in a difficult international environment, the question is how to meet the investment requirements to continue to forge ahead.”

Participants will examine the key drivers of growth in Africa. With a growing number of countries on the continent producing or exploring for oil, the conference will look at the possibility of using profits from extractive industries to spur economic diversification and investments in social capital and human development.

“Africa’s vast natural wealth can create opportunities to accelerate human development,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. “It can provide the basis for infrastructure development, economic diversification, new jobs and businesses, and the domestic resources to fund quality services and social protection.”

Trade with developed and emerging economies presents additional opportunities for growth and so does regional integration, which can unleash the full potential of Africa’s investment and business environment. To that end, the participants will look at how barriers can be removed and regulations improved to allow people to benefit from trade.

With the number of youth in Africa set to double by 2045, and 27 percent of them currently unemployed, the conference will also look at the potential behind Africa’s present and future workforce.

“Creating employment for young people isn’t just crucial for social cohesion and stability. It creates a virtuous cycle of productivity, innovation, economic growth and fulfillment,” said ECA Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes.

The African Economic Conference is organized as a series of open thematic debates, combined with sessions that review policy research from across the continent. The conference provides a will provide a uniquely open forum for political leaders, academics and emerging talents from the continent to discuss solutions to Africa’s most pressing development challenges.

 

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Africa’s economy: Bulging in the middle, (A boom in sub-Saharan Africa is attracting business talent from the rich world). The Economist/Print version, 20 October 2012 [reposted 26 October 2012]


AFTER giving a speech at a business conference in London a young analyst chatted with investment executives in the audience, then followed two of them to a nearby hotel lobby. Over glasses of Chablis the executives raved about their company’s worldwide network of extravagantly decorated offices and their fat annual bonuses. Then they offered the analyst a job. What surprised him was not their interest, nor the chunky salary, but the place where they wanted him to help invest their millions: west Africa, the most backward part of a poor continent.

In recent years investors have been piling into Lagos and Nairobi as if they were Frankfurt and Tokyo of old. Anaemic growth in the rich world has made sub-Saharan Africa an attractive destination for money and its managers. Foreign direct investment has increased by about 50% since 2005. Once regarded as casinos, local capital markets now seem less risky. J.P. Morgan has just added Nigeria to its government-bond index for emerging markets; South Africa had hitherto been the only African country on its list. The American bank, the world’s biggest underwriter of emerging-market debt, predicts that adding Nigerian bonds to its benchmark will lure an extra $1.5 billion to the country. New funds will pay for so far non-existent infrastructure on a continent with a land mass equivalent to that of China, India, Japan, America, Mexico and Europe combined.

Some business people remain sceptical about Africa’s long-term prospects. Sales blather in Western financial circles hailing an African “golden age” is overblown. Most Africans are still poor, even if local managers drive flashy cars. A gaggle of truly wretched states is still trapped in misery and is unlikely to attain even modest prosperity soon. A recent survey found that nine out of 11 countries in the world at “extreme risk” of having a food crisis are African.

Read more at Africa’s economy Bulging in the middle

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Africa Debate: Will Africa ever benefit from its natural resources? BBC News Africa, 15 October 2012


Whether Africa will ever benefit from its natural resources is a question that is more relevant now than ever, as new discoveries of coal, oil and gas across East Africa look set to transform global energy markets and – people hope – the economies of those countries.

But can the likes of Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Uganda really turn their newfound riches into tangible wealth for ordinary people?

This month the BBC Africa Debate team will be in Ethiopia asking just that. Politicians, business representatives, activists and academics from across the continent will be taking part, as over 800 experts gather in Addis Ababa for the Eighth African Development Forum.

“On average, resource-rich countries have done even more poorly than countries without resources,” according to Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist at the World Bank and professor of economics at Columbia University, in the United States.

Read more at Africa Debate: Will Africa ever benefit from its natural resources?

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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South Africa: Nation, DRC Boost Bilateral Relations, By SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane), 24 October 2012


Pretoria — President Jacob Zuma and Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila have met to strengthen existing relations between the two countries at the 8th Session of the Bi-National Commission.

The meeting of the two Heads of State, which took place on Tuesday, was preceded by a ministerial meeting on Monday and a senior officials’ meeting at the weekend.

During their discussions, the two Presidents reviewed a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues.

They expressed great satisfaction at the warm and special relations that exist between the two countries and committed themselves to further enhance these relations for the mutual benefit of their respective countries and peoples.

The two countries cooperate in several projects covering various fields, including security sector reform, infrastructure development, capacity and institutional building, humanitarian and social matters.

Both President Zuma and President Kabila reiterated their commitment to strengthen economic relations by enhancing cooperation between the business communities of the two countries and by increasing bilateral trade and investment.

They also witnessed the signing of a co-operation agreement between PetroSA and Cohydro. This important agreement will establish a strategic cooperation in the activities of pre-exploration, exploration, development and production of hydrocarbons for the benefit of the two countries.

The agreement adds to the already wide legal instruments within which cooperation between the two countries takes place.

In this regard, South Africa’s Investment and Trade Initiative (ITI) was regarded as an important platform to achieve this goal. In the same vein, both countries agreed to encourage people-to-people contacts through cultural, scientific and educational exchange programmes and tourism.

The two Presidents also took the opportunity to reflect extensively on the ongoing security instability in the eastern part of the DRC.

In this regard, the two condemned in the strongest possible terms those forces that are involved in destabilising a sovereign state and called on them to cease these activities immediately.

They also committed their respective governments to the regional efforts that are aimed at assisting the Government of the DRC to deal with this challenge.

On regional issues, the two leaders exchanged views on the prevailing political, economic and security situation in the region. In this context, the two re-affirmed their commitment to work together in pursuit of regional economic integration.

On continental and international issues, the two expressed their commitment to African unity and integration within the framework of the Constitutive Act of the African Union.

They further reiterated their common view on the need to reform the multilateral institutions including the United Nations Security Council and the Brettonwoods Institutions to better represent the interests of the developing countries.

On behalf of the Congolese delegation and the people of the DRC, President Kabila thanked Zuma, the government and the people of the South Africa for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to his delegation.

The next session of the BNC will be held in the DRC on a date to be determined.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The World Bank’s ‘double standard’ stance over the global ‘land grabs’ quagmire, By Chofor Che, 23 October 2012


The annual gathering of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) took place in early October 2012, in the Japanese capital Tokyo. This gathering was aimed at seeking ways on improving the world’s economy. During this gathering, there was a serious protest against what has become known as the ‘land grabs quagmire’, which has resulted in Africa loosing most of its land to foreign private investors, at little or no cost. Protesters called on the World Bank to bring to a halt, unfavourable land concessions signed between private investors and African states.

A lot of African states including Cameroon have suffered from this ‘land grabs’ quagmire. For instance, environment groups recently accused a New York-based agricultural company, Herakles Farms, of going forward with plans for a 73,000-hectare palm-oil plantation and refinery in the southwest region of Cameroon despite a lack of government authorisation, two court injunctions, and in the face of significant community opposition.

Greenpeace and the Oakland Institute, two environment watchdogs based in the United States of America (USA), released a report suggesting that the project, situated in what is described as a biodiversity hotspot between four major conservation zones, could negatively impact up to 45,000 people in Cameroon.

In addition to protests from Greenpeace, Oakland Institute, and recently by some Japanese activists during the annual gathering of the World Bank and the IMF, for the World Bank to momentarily freeze its agricultural investments in land to stop what it called ‘land grabs’, this cry has also been echoed by Oxfam.

‘As food prices rise, investors are buying up huge tracts of land. In the last 10 years, land in developing countries six times the size of Japan has been sold,’ an Oxfam report confirmed.

According to Oxfam, ‘too often, these deals are ‘land grabs’ in which poor people are evicted without consultation or compensation.’

Hannah Stoddart, Oxfam’s land campaign director, insisted that measures of redress need to be taken especially by the World Bank to stop this precarious situation.

‘In 2008, when there was the last big increase in food prices, investments in land and land deals went up significantly by about 200 per cent,’ added the Oxfam top executive.

With an ever increasing rise in food prices and the serious rush for land especially in Africa, there is no doubt that land remains a very lucrative investment.

Hannah Stoddart said she wanted the World to ‘put pressure on the World Bank to play a critical role as a global leader and to stop land grabs’.

A World Bank executive criticised Oxfam’s position and added that the World Bank invested more than $5 billion in agriculture in middle-income and developing countries in the last financial year.

According to World Bank, those funds assisted smallholders in irrigation schemes and local communities to have access to land rights.

In as much as I am an advocate for economic development, there has to be some equity on the way these land concessions are negotiated in Africa. Most of the land in Africa is given away without appropriate bargaining negotiations. The local populace are not involved in negotiating agreements. I firmly believe there should be transparency in such negotiations, which is lacking. More locals need to be employed to work with such initiatives. Most of all, environmental protection should be paramount, because the ozone layer is fast depleting as a result of some of these ‘land grabs’ projects. The World Bank should come out of the ‘double standard closet’ and make a firm statement, castigating state practice that favours inequity in the global ‘land grabs’ quagmire. There is no point for this financial institution to claim to have Africans at heart while it is a major instigator in the ‘land grabs’ quagmire.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Africa smartphone trend drives antenatal app, Deutche Welle, Berlin, 17 October 2012


Smartphones are revolutionizing Africa healthcare. Ugandan software developers are designing an app that could radically change antenatal care in remote areas and save hundreds of lives.

The World Bank estimates about 10 percent of babies born in Uganda die before their fifth birthday. Pregnant women barely have access to healthcare. There is only one nurse for every 5000 pregnant Ugandans – many of whom have to walk long distances to reach the closest clinic.

To help tackle the problem software developer Aaron Tushabe and his team have developed a smartphone app that can monitor the heartbeat of unborn children called WinSenga.

“We don’t want this application to address the problems just today,” says Tushabe, “we want to make this solution viable for the future. That’s why we used a smartphone platform.”

WinSenga uses a Pinard horn – an instrument similar to an ear trumpet. Midwives have been using Pinard horns for more than a century to listen to the heartbeat of fetuses.

The team modified the horn by inserting an internal microphone and allowing it to connect to a smartphone. The midwife places the horn on the pregnant woman’s belly, clicks a button on the smartphone app and a graphic with the unborn child’s heartbeat appears.

Mobile antenatal care

WinSenga won this year’s Microsoft East and Southern Africa Imagine Cup. But the app’s developers say it needs more testing in the field before it can be fully implemented.

Tushabe says he hopes it will become a substitute for expensive ultrasound scans, particularly in areas where there is no electricity.

“We are moving from a device that was stationary and would not function when electricity wasn’t available. Now we have a device which is mobile and has a battery life of five to 10 hours, but still has a battery life,” says Tushabe.

So, midwives could soon provide medical assistance in remote areas with mobile devices.

Hungry for cheaper smartphones

The number of people using cell phones in Africa is rising steadily. The Gallup research consultancy says about 57 percent of adults in 17 Sub-Saharan Africa countries own a mobile phone. There are 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

While smartphones are considered too expensive for most Africans, Tushabe says he is confident the number of users will rise.

“It is predicted that in three years’ time there’ll be more of these devices in Africa than in the US,” says Tushabe. “The communities here in Africa have been very positive towards the adoption of smartphones, especially young people.”

Henry Addo, a Ghanaian software developer with non-profit tech firm Ushahidi agrees.

“If a company focuses on making really affordable smartphones for Sub-Saharan Africa, that company will make a lot of money because people are hungry for it,” says Addo.

And prices are coming down. In 2011, Kenyan telecoms operator Safaricom partnered with Chinese mobile maker Huawei to produce an Android phone that costs $80 dollars – around 65 euros.

‘Large desire’

But the cost is not the only problem.

Erica Kochi of UNICEF’s tech innovations team says manufacturers will have to improve battery life significantly if smartphones are to achieve their full potential in Africa. Kochi says mobiles will also have to become more robust and easier to repair.

“If these challenges can be overcome, I do see them taking off because there is a large desire, not only for connectivity and communication, but also for access to more rich content and information,” she Kochi.

The future is just around the corner. UNICEF plans to help Aaron Tushabe and his team in the implementation phase of their fetal monitoring system in Uganda.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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