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Monthly Archives: January 2013

World Bank welcomes Brics plan for development bank, Lynley Donnelly,Mail and Guardian, 25 Jan 2013


The World Bank has welcomed the proposal by Brics nations – including South Africa – to explore establishing a Brics development bank.

And said it would welcome a strong working relationship with such an institution.

At the fifth Brics summit, to be held in Durban in March this year, Brics leaders will receive a report from their finance ministers on the feasibility of setting up the bank, which would finance infrastructure and sustainable-development projects across Brics nations and other developing countries.

“The World Bank Group believes partnership is central to its development mission and would naturally welcome a strong working relationship with a new Brics development bank,” a World Bank spokesperson said in a response to the Mail & Guardian.

South Africa has been highly supportive of the proposal.

On Wednesday, the deputy minister of international relations and co-operation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, said at a provincial roadshow that the bank would “inter alia, utilise the surplus reserves of Brics countries to support development initiatives among emerging markets and developing countries to support a new model of south-south co-operation and financing”. The initial investment capital required is reportedly $50-billion, or $10-billion from each member country. South Africa’s gross foreign-exchange reserves were at $50.7-billion by December last year, according to the most recent data from the Reserve Bank released at the beginning of this month.

Challenge
According to Martyn Davies, the chief executive of Frontier Advisory, a capital strategy and research firm, there has also been discussion of a fund of up to $240-billion of pooled emerging market funds to create a counterweight to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“There is a great deal of suspicion and even resentment toward the IMF in both Asia and Africa,” he said.

“The Brics development bank is reflective of the emerging world’s ambition to assert itself in the emerging economic world order.”

The establishment of a Brics bank poses a challenge for the likes of China, for it would duplicate that country’s own infrastructure financing in Africa, largely funded by China Exim Bank and the China Development Bank, said Davies.

“Brazil has in a similar dilemma with BNDES, its own development bank, but to a lesser extent,” he said.

Reducing reliance
“The challenge is to minimise the bureaucracy and politics in the management and decision-making of the Brics development bank institution to ensure that it is effective.”

The Brics forum is also seen as a means to reduce reliance on third country currencies, such as the United States dollar, in trade between member countries.

Ahead of the fourth Brics summit in New Delhi in March last year, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said there was a “broad logic of trying to reduce our dependence on third country currencies in our own trade with each other”. There were mechanisms such as the establishment of credit accounts that South Africa was keen to explore, he said at the time.

This proposal was made by China at the Sanya Brics summit in March 2011 and such developments are in line with China’s hopes to see greater trade, particularly with Africa, denominated in its own currency, the Renminbi (or yuan).

Neither the department of international relations and co-operation nor the treasury responded to requests for comment.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Solar Cookers Revolutionize West Africa, By Audu Liberty Oseni, African Executive, 30 January- 06 February 2013


Events in communities of West Africa have shown that solar energy, other than providing alternative for electric power, is serving as basis for solar cookers, stoves and ovens. Ghana drew attention during the solar cooking year in 2002 when a project headed by Dr. Mercy Bannerman emerged as one of the top winners at the World Bank’s Development Marketplace, an occasion that takes place yearly to display excellent innovations in less developed nations. Dr. Bannerman, won the award for her project entitled “Simple Solar for Health + Wealth”.The $100,000-award was meant for preparing additional people to multiply the technology in Ghana. The project has now gone away from home use to the formation of small scale ventures for making solar cookers and marketing them. Dr. Bannerman has been given monies for related reasons via Rotary International’s programmes. Her award was a landmark for solar cooking supporters all over, with its appreciation of the prospects of the technology as a vital factor in development.

Frank Otchere, has successfully built and used a solar CooKit in Ghana. Expanding on what he has done, over 60 solar cookers have been constructed by villagers, and are being marketed for about $5 for one. Otchere and Bannerman had arranged to assist in supporting solar cooking in Ghana: Bannerman to focus in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions; whereas Otchere in the Eastern, Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions.

Efforts to improve on this invention by governments, individuals and nongovernmental organizations have been recorded enormously. Eleven women from the West Africa Network for Peace Building and the Women in Peace Building Network had a one-month training workshop in Ghana on making of solar stoves. The women were selected from Margibi, Montserrado, Bong, Nimba and Lofa. In a similar development, many participants from several parts of Togo and Ghana were present at a conference organized by Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE), displaying solar cooking and solar water pasteurization. Construction workshops were also available to conference participants. Beneficiaries of a JVE solar project gave evidence of how solar cooking has touched lives in the Vo region. Present at the conference were Togo’s Deputy Director of the Ministry of Environment and the Minister of Youth, and representatives of the media.

In the northern region of Ghana, Grace Akawe supervises 90 solar cookers and the users in Tamale and the immediate societies; she goes there twice every week. Whereas in the upper west region, Jacinta Ziem supervises a entirety of 25 solar cookers and their users in the municipality of Wa and the surrounding areas, where she visits two Saturdays in a month. Both of them are famous in their vicinity and have grown a strong relationship among the users. As they do the supervision, they also teach the users of the solar cooker on the ways to maintain it and keep it fit to use at all times.

In Liberia, for instance, NGO Sustainability’s project is introducing Small Scale Solar and this move intends to sustain community participation in training on the use and making of solar cookers, enhanced cook stoves, solar pumps, WAPIs and solar lanterns. It is expected that upon triumphant achievement of this, the project would be initiated in other areas of Liberia as a scheme that assists in the alleviation of an adjustment to climate change. In a related development, True Faith Missions (Pastor Hal Nichols) has introduced solar oven to communities in Liberia and it is making a mammoth accomplishment and so far nine families have built and are using them, and the people were very glad to learn that they can cook rice using the sun.

In Nigeria, Prof. RoseAchunine had met with students of the Department of Physics and Industrial Physics at Evan Enwerem University in Owerri, a south eastern city. The students have designed their own edition of parabolic solar cookers and solar box cookers. They desire to enhance effectiveness and homogenize their designs to make the solar cookers more proficient and trustworthy for use by local inhabitants, as well as metropolitan inhabitants. They will carry on their endeavor to offer training workshops for the rural inhabitants. In a similar vein, Margaret Koshoni presented a solar cooking seminar in Lagos. The seminar was organized by the Cosmopolitan Women’s Club with over 400 participants from government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, women’s groups, schools, and even a few banks, in attendance. As a result of the usefulness of the seminar, Lagos State Government’s Commissioner for Women Affairs urged Koshoni to organize future workshops for the whole Lagos State Local Government Areas. On the same accomplishment, Renewable Energy Technology Company Ltd had a training program on solar cooking at New Bussa, Niger state. The company further collaborated with Girls Guide/Scout of America for the Girls Guide of Nigeria to replicate the workshop on solar cooking at the Women Centre in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.

The Gambia is not left out of the solar cooker initiative. Lamin Sawo of the Health Education and Agricultural Development (AHEAD) discussed exploits in AHEAD’s large-scale solar cooking scheme in The Gambia, disclosing that 900 households now use solar cookers. AHEAD had carried out solar cooking trainings in five villages in Gambia and had workshops where it trained 12-15 women per village in the art of making and using solar cookers. These women that were trained in turn trained others. They have put up a trainers’ cooperative called Tilo Tabiro. In a similar effort, Boka Loho Organization, has built and demonstrated solar cookers at agricultural shows and other events. They manufacture cookers, tutor users, and also work with schools in the encouragement and support of solar energy usage. In supporting this move, the Gambia Ministry of Trade and Industry has trained women’s groups as users and carpenters in the making of box cookers for solar cooker making.

Mali has also bought into the initiative of solar cooker, as The Association of Handicapped Women of Mali (AMAFH) continues to put together solar cooker training for its members in Bamako, with assistance from the Association of Women Engineers (AFIMA) and monetary assistance from Dutch KoZon Foundation. At the moment AMAFH has taught 60 deaf and hard-of-hearing women, fifty women with leprosy and 20 mentally disabled women on means of utilizing CooKit solar cooker at two day training it organized for them.

The Togolese are also in the race to catch up with solar cooker revolution as Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) has taken its hot message to over 150 youths in the country. Over 100 participants from several cities in Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin assembled for a workshop in Notse. On this three-day workshop, participants learnt fundamental solar cooking concepts and skills; they crafted their own solar CooKits. JVE had organized Operation Amis du Soleil, a five-day gathering in the Casablanca quarter of Lome and this brought jointly numerous numbers of persons, the majority of which were youth, to be trained on solar cooker use and to make solar cookers for JVE’s solar water pasteurization project in Vo prefecture.

The prospects of solar cooker in West African urban poor communities are enormous; about 87% households use either kerosene or firewood in making their food in the region. In Nigeria, for instance, kerosene is no longer affordable generality of the populace as the price has skyrocketed in the face of subsidy removal and sharp practices by marketers who convert the commodity to aviation fuel. And those who use electric stoves are likely to opt for the solar cooker option too as power supply is epileptic and increasing in cost. Desperate search for firewood has been caused serious deforestation, exposing the communities to the vagaries of climate change. Those trainees who eventually venture into the business of making solar cooker are likely to be in for a boom, as the liquefied natural gas alternative to kerosene, electric and wood stoves is yet to kindle.

Of course, immediate areas of intervention should include support for businesses and not-for-profits engaged in training, production and support for users of solar cookers in West Africa. Government agencies, especially MDAs responsible for health, environment, energy, technology, women and the like, must be made to understand the organic place of these devices through behavior change workshops and exercises. In its discussion on sustainable energy for all, the regional body ECOWAS must take local technological inventions in the region serious and must commit more money for research and development where initiatives like this can be improved upon and standardized. This will be most imperative for ECOWAS as it pushes for West African regional integration as technology is a driving force for development.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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World Bank Group : African Migrants Could Save US$4 Billion Annually On Remittance Fees, Finds World Bank 01/28/2013| 09:43am


African migrants pay more to send money home than other migrant groups

WASHINGTON, January 28, 2013 – Bringing remittance prices down to 5 percent from the current 12.4 percent average cost would put US$4 billion more in the pockets of Africa’s migrants and their families who rely on remittances for survival.

Africa’s overseas workers, who sent close to US$60 billion in remittances in 2012, pay more to send money home than any other migrant group. According to the World Bank’s Send Money Africa database, Sub-Saharan Africa is the most expensive region to send money to, with average remittance costs reaching 12.4 percent in 2012. The average cost of sending money to Africa is almost 12 percent- higher than global average of 8.96 percent, and almost double the cost of sending money to South Asia, which has the world’s lowest prices (6.54 percent).

The G8 and the G20 established 5 percent as the target average remittance price to reach by 2014. “High transaction costs are cutting into remittances, which are a lifeline for millions of Africans,” said Gaiv Tata, Director of the World Bank’s Africa Region and Financial Inclusion and Infrastructure Global Practice.”Remittances play a critical role in helping households address immediate needs and also invest in the future, so bringing down remittance prices will have a significant impact on poverty.” Lower cost remittances also advance financial inclusion, since they are often the first financial service used by recipients, who are then more likely to use other financial services including bank accounts.

Remittance prices are even higher between African nations. South Africa, Tanzania, and Ghana are the most expensive sending countries in Africa, with prices averaging 20.7 percent, 19.7 percent, and 19.0 percent respectively, due to several factors including limited competition in the market for cross-border payments.

“Governments should implement policies to open the remittances market up to competition,” said Massimo Cirasino, Manager of the Financial Infrastructure and Remittances Service Line at the World Bank. “Increased competition, as well as better informed consumers, can help bring down remittance prices.”

Send Money Africa also finds that banks, which are the most expensive remittance service providers, are often the only channel available to African migrants. A regulatory environment that encourages competition among remittance service providers can help bring down remittance prices. Migrant workers can also benefit from more transparent information on remittance services.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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2012 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Revamping a dormant Douala Stock Exchange, By Chofor Che, 26 January 2013


The Douala Stock Exchange was created in December 2001. The first listing was Société des Eaux Minérales du Cameroun (SEMC), a subsidiary of the French company Castel Group. Cameroonians are still to make use of the Douala Stock Exchange. What is the problem? Are Cameroonians not sensitised enough? Are Cameroonians and foreign investors not interested? These are some of the concerns revolving around the Douala Stock Exchange.

According to an interview accorded by Kimeng Hilton Ndukong to financial expert,Lamngwa Brezhnev, in Cameroon Tribune dated the 06 of November 2012, there are many reasons why Douala’s Stock Exchange remains dormant. First of all there is still a poor comprehension of the financial market in Cameroon, and most especially the stock exchange. Cameroonians do not understand how the Douala Stock Exchange will help them.

Secondly,many business operators still remain skeptical about enlisting their company on the Douala Stock Exchange. According to Dr Simon Bassilekin in another article in Cameroon Tribune, dated the 6 of November 2012, this is so because the Douala Stock Exchange is still seriously controlled by the state. Cameroonians do not trust the state in monitoring their shares.

Certain measures need to be put in place to make the Douala Stock Exchange useful. There is need for the state to sensitise the public about the importance and benefits of the stock exchange. The state can organise radio and television programs to educate the popualce about the Stock Exchange. Lessons on the Stock Exchange can also be introduced in schools in Cameroon so as to enable young Cameroonians develope an understanding of this institution. If this is not done, it will be easy for Cameroonians to understand what the Stock Exchange is all about. Nigeria’s Stock Exchange is doing well partly because of sensitisation.

The state needs to partner with the private sector to manage the affairs of the Stock Exchange. This will reduce the fears haboured in the minds and hearts of the population about investing in the Douala Stock Exchange.

There is also need for a non partisan special body to be created which should be incharge of putting in place the conditions for registering capital market operators like investment advisers, stock brokers,issuing houses,mutual funds and financial consultants.

All hope should not be lost by national and foreign investors in the Douala Stock Exchange. If some of the above mentioned proposals are put in place, more people will be encouraged to register their businesses with the Douala Stock Exchange.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Cameroun : l’État mise 30 millions d’euros sur deux nouvelles banques, Vendredi, 25 Janvier 2013, 13:52, Par Jeune Afrique


Le gouvernement camerounais a débloqué une somme de 20 milliards de F CFA (30,5 millions d’euros) pour former le capital de deux nouvelles institutions financières, la Cameroon Rural Financial Corporation et la Banque camerounaise des PME.

C’est le ministre des Finances camerounais Alamine Ousmane Mey qui en a fait l’annonce. Le gouvernement camerounais a libéré 20 milliards de F CFA, soit 30,5 millions d’euros, pour former le capital de deux nouvelles institutions financières, la Cameroon Rural Financial Corporation (Carfic) et la Banque camerounaise des PME (BC PME). Les deux établissements devraient démarrer leurs activités cette année.

Création d’emploi

Dotées de 10 milliards de F CFA de capital chacune, les deux nouvelles entités auront pour objectif de renforcer le dispositif de financement des activités rurales et de stimuler la création d’emploi à travers le pays. Elles sont notamment supposées faciliter l’accès au financement par les agriculteurs et les promoteurs de petites et moyennes entreprises (PME), dans un pays où 60% de la population vit de l’agriculture et 90% des entreprises sont des PME, selon le quotidien national Cameroon Tribune.

Grâce à cette initiative, l’État espère réduire le volume des importations à travers une relance de la production nationale.

Lire l’article sur Jeuneafrique.com : Cameroun : l’État mise 30 millions d’euros sur deux nouvelles banques

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Ritual killings in Cameroon’s political capital for big government and political positions?, By Chofor Che, 24 January 2013


The political capital of Cameroon, Yaoundé, specifically the neighbourhood called Mimboman, has been hit since December 2012, by a number of deaths of young girls aged 15 to 25. Many have concluded that these deaths are ritual killings especially as the young girls died in similar circumstances, with their sexual organs missing.

Perplexed by such mysterious acts especially at the beginning of an electoral year, a prominent journalist and specialist on supernatural happenings, Begnono Bengono was interviewed on national television, Cameroon’s Radio and Television network. Bengono asserted that this is not a strange phenomenon in Cameroon. According to him, during every electoral year in Cameroon, young people die. It is believed that certain parts of their bodies are used for rituals to enable politicians remain in power or win elections.

Cameroon will host municipal and legislative elections this year. Many government big guns are visiting soothsayers so as to remain in power. This view was corroborated by Dr Ateba Ayene, outspoken member of the Central Committee of the ruling political party in Cameroon, the Cameroon Peoples’ Democratic Movement. According to Ateba, who was recently interviewed over a private television network, Canal2, such acts are demonic acts and contribute to the degradation of the fabric of society.

Forces of law and order have been carrying out investigations on these killings. It is disturbing to know that this neighbourhood is cut off from other neighbourhoods in the nation’s capital, especially as it has no good roads, it is plagued by water and electricity shortages, and it has no police station. The population of Mimboman remains in disarray and fear.

The case of Mimboman in Yaoundé is a vivid example of the consequences of big government especially in Africa. The State in Cameroon is a preferred means by which certain individuals enrich themselves at the detriment of others. Some individuals even go an extra mile to adhere to demands from soothsayers just to remain in power.

African states especially the government of Cameroon need to revisit the raison d’etre of the state. One of the major duties of the state is to ensure that the citizens are safe and sound. It is unbelievable that there is no police station in this area of the city. Action needs to be taken by the authorities that be, to ensure that the population of Mimboman is safe.

Roads as well as power and water are important requirements for life. The population of Mimboman lack these facilities. There is a local council in this area, which has remained dormant for a long-time due to the fact that funds meant for development do not trickle down from the central government to the local government in Mimboman. There is need for the central government to give a chance for communities to develop by ensuring that funds meant for development are judiciously utilised.

If the idea of limited government is inculcated in Cameroonians and they are encouraged to be business orientated, then there will be no need for such outrageous crimes. Of course, the idea of limited government must be beafed up with action. It is important for the state to give room for the private sector to thrive. The private sector in Africa in general and Cameroon still suffers enormously from government cohesion, making many Cameroonians to find solace in politics and government positions. If Cameroon needs to contribute to Africa’s renaissance, then it is time not only for a mind-set change, but concrete action on the ground.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Cameroon’s Special Criminal Court: Bad or good omen?, By Chofor Che, 24 January 2013


The Special Criminal Court in Cameroon is a special tribunal created in 2012 to investigate corruption related crimes. Information gotten from case files from this special court has left the population of Cameroon indifferent over the mandate and effectiveness of this court. Is the court an extension of the powerful executive or is a weak extension of the judiciary created to settle political scores?

According to Cameroon Tribune of the 22 of January 2012, in just two months of operation, the court has recovered about 2 billion francs CFA. It is disturbing to know that money projected for development projects is siphoned by individuals while the people of Cameroon continue to languish in poverty. The mandate of this court is to ensure that stolen money is recovered from such corrupt individuals, as corroborated the Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso, during the inaugural ceremony of the court on 15 October 2012.

Recently the court sentenced an artisanal pot producer caught stealing telecommunication cables of a state owned corporation. According to Cameroon Tribune, this is a sign that the court was not only created to target political criminals and high ranking officials involved in gross financial malpractices.

The court also recently decided to drop charges against the former Director General of the defunct Cameroon Airlines, Yves Michael Fotso, after he agreed to pay back stolen funds. This individual was accused of having swindled state funds and also for having crippled the defunct Cameroon Airlines.

The court is also handling the file of the former Prime Minister of Cameroon, Ephraim Inoni, who was also accused and imprisoned in the national state prison, Kondegui for having embezzled funds meant for development.

There is still a major worry on why colossal amounts of money are left in the hands on individuals without any stringent control. It is no secret that the central government created the problem in the first place by allowing such amount of money to be badly managed by dubious individuals.

Now that the Special Criminal Court has announced that it has and is recovering money from corrupt officials, what happens to the recovered money? Is there a special account where this money will be put to be utilised for specific projects or defunct projects? Has the special court or the central government put measures in place to ensure that this money is redirected to services that were deprived of these funds? What steps are being taken by the state to ensure that such amount of money is not siphoned by corrupt officials again? These are the questions that continue to plague the minds of Cameroonians who remain pessimistic about the mandate of the Special Criminal Court.

It is a laudable idea that such a court was created, but the purpose of such a move by the central government will definitely be defeated if the money is not pumped back into the economy. Cameroonians wish that the money recovered should be utilised for what it was meant for, or be judiciously utilised for defunct projects.

Having a special court is not enough. There is need for Cameroonians to be given a chance to engage in other lucrative sectors like agriculture and small and medium size enterprises. The agricultural sector in Cameroon is still to be mechanised and exploited. The state needs to reduce the current big government sector and increase the private sector. Such measures will definitely reduce the wanton corruption which still persists in the country despite the existence of institutions like the special Criminal Court and other anti-corruption agencies.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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African brands: The Rising stars, By Billie McTernan, Theafricareport.com,14 January 2013


The market for luxury African goods was once the preserve of rich expatriates and tourists, but as incomes soar across the continent, retailers report a growing appetite among local buyers.

Bridging the gap between traditional craftsmanship and luxury, high-end African brands are out to make a global impression.

From clothing and jewellery to wine and tea, refined luxury is increasingly being packaged and sold by Africans.

Continental consumption is rising steadily.

According to a report by consultancy firm McKinsey, consumer spending in Africa is set to increase from $860bn in 2008 to $1.4trn in 2020.

The number of households with disposable income is due to grow by 50% over the next 10 years to 128m.

The CapGemini/Merrill Lynch World Wealth Report found that the number of high-net-worth individuals in Africa rose by 3.9% between 2010 and 2011 to 100,000.

This means that the number of people looking for high-quality consumer goods is growing rapidly.

While China’s economic slowdown has worried some luxury brands, others have been quick to take note of Africa’s growth.

US company General Motors’ sales of Chevrolet vehicles grew by more than 50% from 2010 to 2011 in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Kenya, the Captiva is the most popular, with a starting price of $47,000.

In Ghana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the majority of buyers prefer the Cruze, which costs $30,000.

Bruno Carraz, managing director for Africa of jewellery brand Cartier, hopes that a recent rise in sales will go “on and on”

“We have recently strengthened our relationship with our Nigeria partner and improved our distribution channels in many countries like Angola and Côte d’Ivoire.”

While sales of non-African brands on are on the rise, home-grown brands are also taking the opportunity to establish themselves, not only in Africa but on the global market.

Patrick Mavros, a Zimbabwean jewellery company, opened its flagship store in London in 2004. After 33 years of business, the company’s clientele ranges from taxi drivers to film stars and heads of state.

“African luxury isararity,”says Forbes Mavros, son of the brand’s founder and head of the Mauritius atelier.

“There are not many brands that have touched the international pulse and remained African in their identity.”

Swaady Martin-Leke, the founder of YSWARA, a luxury tea brand with its headquarters in South Africa, also believes that it is important to maintain a country or region’s heritage and culture when building a global brand.

“If you look at European or Japanese luxury brands, you find the essence of the country of origin is in the detail,” he says.

For many producers of luxury goods, customers have traditionally been ex- pats and visitors. But demand for African products is increasing.

Euromonitor International revealed spending on luxury goods in South Africa rose from $628.5m in 2007 to more than $1bn in 2012.

South Africa’s global wine exports grew by nearly 40% between 2006 and 2012.

Over the same period Kenya became its largest African importer of wine, buying 6.1m bottles in 2012.

At home, Waterford Estate’s “The Jem” 2007 is the flavour of the month.

Bottles start from R680 ($80). Martin-Leke believes that typical African luxury consumers, having travelled abroad, want products that reflect their identity.

“They might want a Chanel watch, but they also want a beautiful couture ankara dress.

“They have the money to buy Yves Saint Laurent, but they want African designers”

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Mali’s dilemma and French intervention: Aid with strings or ‘the messiah’? By Chofor Che,14 January 2013


African states remain fragile despite much praise of Africa having the emerging economies in the world. Having emerging economies in an atmosphere of conflict is bad for development. Many a time when African states are hit by conflict, western nations step in to intervene. There has been a lot of debate about foreign intervention in African conflicts. Is the west assisting because of interest or they care about peace, democracy, good governance and development in Africa?

An African state which has been recently plagued by conflict, and is benefiting from foreign intervention especially from France is Mali. Mali is a vast, landlocked state situated in the Sahara Desert and whose borders touch Algeria to the north and Ivory Coast to the south, linking North Africa with sub-Saharan Africa. Mali also borders Senegal, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Guinea. Mali’s north is currently under the rule of radical Islamists, whereas the weak central government is in the country’s south.

Conflict broke out in Mali and the state cried out for assistance especially from the west.Mali slid into dictatorship after gaining independence from France in 1960, but then a 1991 coup led to elections the next year. Mali’s then-president stepped down after the maximum two-term limit and Amadou Toumani Toure, known as ATT, was peacefully elected in 2002.

Toure was just months away from the end of his term when mutinous soldiers overthrew him in a coup in March 2012. The coup leader nominally handed over power to a weak, interim civilian government but is widely believed to still be controlling the country. The turmoil has left Mali’s military in disarray, raising questions about how helpful Malian soldiers can be during the French-led intervention.

In as much as assistance from the west especially France is welcome in trying to curb the conflict in Mali, such intervention is not a sign of love for Africa. Of course such assistance comes with strings. According to Krista Larson of the Associated Press, the country’s third-largest export after cotton and livestock is gold. There is definitely some interest in the west benefiting from this resource.

The African Union has still proven to be a toothless bulldog with respect to this conflict. The African Union proved to be ineffective during the Libyan crises and allowed the west to dominate peace efforts. Libya remains in a critical situation despite foreign intervention to instill so called ‘democracy’. This same scenario will play out in Mali.

The continent of Africa needs to take a drastic stand via institutions and actors especially the African Union, in ensuring that leaders are accountable to the people and there is participatory development. One of the root causes of conflict is because the people are usually not given a chance to participate in government affairs via concrete measures like decentralisation and/or federalism. Such is the case of Mali. If Africa wants to conveniently harbour the acclaimed emerging economies in the world, then we need truely democratic states. Africa, especially francophone Africa cannot always rely on France especially to curb conflicts, because instead of curbing these conflicts, the west continues to encourage weak states in Africa.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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