West African youth leaders unite to fight corruption

from Transparency International..

January 29, 2013, By 

In Sub Saharan Africa 60% of the population are under the age of 35, making Africa the most youthful continent. Young Africans are the key to reform, as they soon enough will become key players and advocates of social transformation.

The youth leaders march against corruption in downtown Yamoussoukro, in celebration of anti corruption day on December 9.

In December, 38 youth leaders from six different West African countries united in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire, for a week long integrity camp. The camp was a joint project of the UNDP andTransparency International; The youth integrity camp aims to harness young peoples’ energy and willingness for action to enable them to engage with the communities in their home countries, and spread the importance of integrity in all life situations. The camp provided the young participants tools, such as the sharing of the concrete experiences made by the Y’en a marre (Sick of it) movement, how to use ICTs in promoting integrity or familiarizing them with anti-corruption conventions, that will enable them to be real agents of change in their communities and organizations.

The camp brought together journalists, lawyers, artists, civil servants, and people from civil society.

How do we translate integrity into action across different countries? The participants worked in country groups, and developed many diverse projects, ranging from having ambassadors of integrity in schools, spreading the idea of good governance, transparency and integrity to a wider young audience, to using different means of communications, such as theatre, or games, to pass along the message of the importance of integrity to the communities. Other projects target the administrations, or aim at improving the governance and transparency in civil society organisations. These projects aim to unite people, and can be put into place by the youth leaders themselves.

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Another highlight was an afternoon visit to some of the institutions most often cited as most touched by corruption, namely the local hospital, the police commissariat, and the town hall, and district administration. There, the participants were able to observe the conditions in which these institutions operate, talk to the representatives, and identify possible causes of corruption. The main insights that the participants to the youth integrity camps gained from the representatives of these institutions were that failures in service delivery were mainly due to insufficient financial means, absence of workers, and persistence of nepotism when recruiting agents.

Link to the article: http://blog.transparency.org/2013/01/29/west-african-youth-leaders-unite-to-fight-corruption/


Get ready for an African boom

from CP-Africa..

[Ed. note: this is a follow-up to a similar post on Jan. 11, authored by Charles Robertson and Michael Moran in Foreign Policy Magazine]

January 23, 2013, By Charles Robertson, Special to CNN

note: Charles Robertson global chief economist for Renaissance Capital and lead author of ‘The Fastest Billion: The Story Behind Africa’s Economic Revolution.’ The views expressed are his own.


The rise of Africa’s long forlorn economies – what we at Renaissance Capital have dubbed “The Fastest Billion” – represents the final phase of a global economic transformation that began over 200 years ago as agrarian societies saddled with absolute rulers began their journey through industrialization into the pluralistic middle-class societies increasingly driven by the information age we know today.

For many reasons, Africa largely missed out on this journey. But no longer: while the process will not be complete by 2050, a changing set of global and local realities suggest that Africa is set to be the final beneficiary of this revolution.

Over the past decade, the billion people who live in Africa have experienced the fastest growth the continent has ever seen, and many of its countries (Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Guinea) are among the fastest growing in the world. A growing body of evidence backs our view that as Africa’s population doubles to two billion over the next several decades, its GDP will increase from $2 trillion today to $29 trillion in today’s money by 2050.

To many in the West, such figures beggar belief – just as similar projections for East Asia’s Tiger economies or Latin America’s star performers did in the 1980s. The idea that Americans and Europeans would drive around in South Korean automobiles, or fly around in Brazilian-made jetliners, would have brought great guffaws from experts of 1980. But today, Hyundai, Kia and Embrear are household names. Things change quickly when certain tipping points are reached. We believe Africa has reached such a point.

By 2050, assuming a conservative trajectory similar to what India achieved since 1990, Africa will produce more GDP than the United States and eurozone combined do today, and its basic social, demographic and political realities will also be transformed. The necessary elements that have propelled countries from late medieval commerce with authoritarian government through to industrialized nations with comprehensive and far-reaching social and legal institutions are well known.

A continent rich in natural resources – mineral, agricultural and in energy – Africa is also rich in the youth of its population, enjoying a demographic advantage over all other regions of the world.

The pace of technological innovation globally is now so rapid, and technology is so easy to transfer – as evidenced by the boom in mobile phone technology and the roll-out of broadband across the continent – these young Africans are not only the recipients of technology, but via M-PESA banking, are becoming exporters of it, too.

Today, Africa has the greatest room to boom on the back of two centuries of global progress. The take-off in Africa began around the turn of the century, 40 years after independence. Why not earlier? Because human capital was extremely constrained by a lack of primary and secondary education, while global capital could find better opportunities in East Asia and Latin America. Political leaders in the 1960s and 1970s were inexperienced, often self-serving and were offered contradictory advice on how best to develop a country. There were no strong Asian role models to emulate. International involvement in Africa was too often geared towards Cold War geopolitics, feeding civil wars and strife, rather than trade and investment.

What has changed? Many governments have learnt from their mistakes and seen the positive reform examples not just in Asia, but more importantly in Africa itself, from Mauritius to Botswana and Cape Verde, and now Ghana to Rwanda. In most countries there has been no single reform miracle, like China’s in 1978 or India’s in 1991, but rather a series of small steps which taken together have been just as powerful.

Stronger growth and good public finances – Africa’s numbers are far better in this regard than those of Europe, the United States or Japan – have helped draw in record levels of foreign private-sector capital. But the improvement shows across the board – in primary and secondary education, in health, personal security, transparency and governance.

The headlines of the day may not support this – war rages in parts of Congo and Sudan, poverty and corruption stain too many of the continent’s peoples. Such are the stuff of headlines. But today we count around 30 democracies across the continent, some strong and immortal, but many fragile and still vulnerable. That number will grow.

Today the continent is reaping the benefits of high commodity prices and exports to China to begin the process of infrastructure investment that accelerates growth. Each year, in the oil sector alone, a major new discovery is heralded, from Ghana to Uganda and most recently Kenya, pushing Africa’s share of world oil reserves to 10 percent. African oil production growth has already been the fastest in the world over the past 10 years, all of it in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Africa now produces 10m barrels a day, as much as Russia or Saudi Arabia, with the 6m barrels of SSA alone worth $235 billion of oil revenue annually or 20% of 2011 GDP. Renaissance expects volume increases to ensure this tops $300 billion even with no change in oil prices by 2019.

Nearly a trillion dollars of oil revenue every three years means unprecedented inflows of foreign exchange to fund imports of investment and consumption goods. Rapid economic growth means growing African demand for resources. Do not be surprised if Nigerian steel consumption rises from 1.6 million tons annually today to 115 million tons annually by 2050. African motor vehicle sales of 8 million by 2020 may reach 14 million by 2030, higher than the U.S. today. Who knows – someday you may find yourself driving a Nigerian auto and dialing hands free on a Tanzanian-made phone. It has all happened before.

Link to the article: http://www.cp-africa.com/2013/01/23/get-ready-for-an-african-boom/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CelebratingProgressAfrica+%28CP-Africa%29

A Week of Africa by Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google Inc.

from CP-Africa..

January 23, 2013

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After a week of business meetings in the cities of sub-saharan africa, we can surely say three things are new for the continent:

a) the despotic leadership in Africa from the 1970s and 1980 is in decline, replaced by younger and more democratic leaders

b) a huge youth demographic boom is underway, with a majority of the population of 25, or even under 20

c) mobile phones are everywhere, and the Internet in Africa will be primarily a mobile one

Many of the older problems are still severe, including a lack of electric power, the general trend of rural to urban migration, and pervasive corruption.  Every country we visited had an internal security problem, or a significant border problem, and the elites are sheltered from this pervasive concern behind guarded walls, hotels and restaurants with gates and security checks, and ubiquitous guards.  I try to imagine what the US would be if we had the types of security problems in Africa.. how would WE deal with such threats?

Connectivity is much more important for security than many analysts think.  Societies who are not connected lack opposing viewpoints and are much more subject to easy radicalization.  The virtue of having more connectivity is that people will have more choices, and more choices lead a better understanding of the value to go to school, the need to treat women equally, the choice to not demonize others, etc.

Nairobi has emerged as a serious tech hub and may become the African leader.  A combination of relatively stable politics, the British legal system, and a benign climate seem to attract a significant share of foreign investment.  Incubators are hosting potential solutions to many problems, including connecting M-Pesa (their mobile money solution on simple phones using SMS) with payment systems for local stores.  If they manage to get through the upcoming March elections without significant conflict, they will grow quickly.

Rwanda is a jewel with a terrible past.  High economic growth and the development of a significant middle class is threatened by the withdrawal of aid due to UN complaints over the Congo.  Rwanda feels like Singapore, an island inside of Africa whose small size allows great focus and a dynamic, stable government.    A visit to the Genocide Museum in Kigali, and a trip to the Volcanic National Park where eight groups of eight can trek to see the gorillas made famous by Diana Fossey, are well worth it.  Gorilla treks are also available through Uganda and the Congo, over the same mountains.

After fifty years of war, South Sudan is the worlds newest country.  In a country where every issue is an urgent one, mobile networks can unify a poor country with isolated villages, significant flooding in the rainy season, and the constant threat of attacks from rebels from the north.  A courageous group, the Satellite Sentinel project. uses satellite data and other sources to document ethnic cleansing in remote areas of Sudan (the northern Sudan) and serve as a record of the terrible ongoing violence against innocents.

Chad is a poor petro-state, with a long history of conflict and one pipeline and one fiber link.  Africa has submarine fiber cables on the west and eastern side.  Landlocked countries are at the mercy of their neighbors, and all have learned that competition with multiple fiber connections from differing borders dramatically reduces costs.  Chad like some others, has determined that future spectrum should not be auctioned as that only increases the eventual mobile costs and are simply allocating it to a set of competitive carriers.  Less than 1% of Chad has electricity.

Nigeria, known as a land of oil corruption and the ubiquitous 419 email scams, is the biggest surprise to a first time visitor.  Nigerians are entrepreneurial, stylish, educated, and have the belief that their country can emerge as the next Brazil.  With 170 million citizens, and a record breaking eleven years of civilian elected government, the compound growth and the shared memory of real internal conflict almost guarantees their short term success.  Future growth of Nigeria should help with its international image problem, as the real story of its success gets out.

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The emergent model of the African internet is a set of competitive fiber suppliers to the capital, a set of fiber rings owned by local telco’s, and 3G and 4G networks.  Some of the countries are late with licensing plans for 3G and 4G, a costly delay for countries that have very little residential broadband.  Solar charging can help with the power needs of handsets, but the electricity needs to be more reliable or costly backup systems will be built at each tower.  Many of these countries have telecommunications as a major contributor to their GPD (Cote d’Ivory is about 12%) and even Somalia, which we did not visit this time, has a profitable competitive telecommunications industry.. the most profitable legal industry in that country.  Some countries are reluctant to turn on the data portion of their telecommunications industry, another costly delay to their future digital commerce, education and entertainment industries.

Many Africans will be last, unfortunately, to be connected to the rest of us.  For them, the best short term outcome will be feature phones (inexpensive voice and SMS phones) and a private network of microSD cards that can be traded behind oppressive authorities to get information in and out of trapped, occupied and remote locations.  Information is power, and more information means more choices.  Documenting abuses, getting pressure from outside to fix real problems, and solving illiteracy are just a few functions of even the most limited of feature phones.

The demographic dividend in Africa of young people is their greatest hope, in my opinion.  Today high rates of unemployment show an economy underperforming to its true potential.  This new generation expects more, and will use mobile computing to get it.  Optimism is appropriate for Africa, as the people we met will do much more with less than we can imagine, and the devices and systems built in the first world will be used in the most creative ways in the emerging new world of Africa.

Link to the article: http://www.cp-africa.com/2013/01/23/a-week-of-africa-by-eric-schmidt-chairman-google/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CelebratingProgressAfrica+%28CP-Africa%29

Kenya Launches $10 billion Tech City – A first in East Africa

from CP-Africa..

January 30, 2013, By Humphrey Liloba

Kenya’s much touted first Technology City in Africa was commissioned by President Kibaki last week in one of his signature events before vacating office.

The $10 billion project will be constructed in four faces over a span of 20 years in what will greatly transform the face and economic situation of Kenya and the region. The first phase will be completed in three years and will cost an estimated $2.4 billion.

The President laid the foundation stone of the construction of the ‘Konza Technopolis’ christened as the ‘Kenya Silicon Savanna’, officially kicking of one Kenya’s most ambitious development project.

Investors and developers will now be at liberty to start the construction of the facilities that will among other things brand Kenya as a destination for information technology innovations in Africa.

Situated along the ever busy Nairobi-Mombasa highway, Konza Technology busy sits on a 5,000 acre of land exactly 60 kilometres from the capital city.

Once completed, the project which is implemented under the Ministry of Information and Communications will attract massive investments with over 20,000 direct jobs expected in the first one year.

To be included in the Technopolis will be a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) park, science park, mega malls, convention centre, data schools, world class hotels, international schools, world class hospitals, championship golf course, financial district, high speed mass transport system, residential housing among other world-class facilities.

“This is one project that my government has been dreaming about. The realization of this project will apart from putting Kenya on the world technology map provide employment to our young people,” said President Kibaki.

The government will facilitate the construction of both onsite and offsite infrastructure including roads, water and sewerage systems, energy and high-speed rail in order to make the city more attractive, productive and habitable.

The government is still encouraging investors to take up the remaining slots in the capital intensive project.

According to Shop Architects, the American firm that has been contracted to design the facility, the construction will be done in a way that priority projects are actualized first. These include a convention park for international meetings and conferences.

“The construction will be phased in such a way that the most crucial facilities are given precedence with the resources being heavily ploughed back into the construction of the others,” said Todd Sigaty, an Event Director at Shop Architects.

The project will be managed and run by the Konza City Development Authority (KCDA).

Kibaki called on Kenyan investors to take the cue in the project and not wait till most of the stake has been take over by foreigners.

“We are calling on local investors to take-up a huge chunk of investment in this project. The potential of its success is enormous. We do not want people to start whining that foreigners have dominated the project,” said the President.

The technology city is one of the flagship projects under the country’s economic blueprint, the Vision 2030. The development plan aims to transform Kenya into a middle income, newly industrialized country by the year 2030.

Link to the article: http://www.cp-africa.com/2013/01/30/kenya-launches-10-billion-tech-city-a-first-in-east-africa/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CelebratingProgressAfrica+%28CP-Africa%29

The Best of all Worlds: Islamic Finance combined with ESG (Environmental Social Governance)

from Silk Invest..

January 28, 2013

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Islamic finance seems to get less attention than its more conventional ESG (Environmental Social Governance) counterpart. However, just as with ESG, the principles of Islamic finance offer a recipe for a more solid and sustainable financial system.

One of the most known features of the Islamic discipline is how it shuns away from debt and leverage. It also aims to bring financial transactions closer to its underlying economic activity by forcing borrowers and lenders to share risk in a more bi-lateral way.

In order to establish a more sustainable financial system, it would make sense to apply and blend the best practices from all responsible finance disciplines.

This is precisely what our friend Dr. Murat Uenal of Funds@Work tells us in his report ‘The Best of all Worlds – Towards a more Sustainable Financial System’

We thought this work was worth sharing with you as it provides an interesting perspective for a plural approach for responsible investing.

Click here to read the report

Link to the Silk Invest blog: http://www.silkinvest.com/2013/01/the-best-of-all-worlds.html

Laos: Not the new Vietnam, Thailand, China or anything else

[reposted from Diverging Markets]

Excerpted from The Wall Street Journal..

January 29, 2013

The Wall Street Journal is running an infograph (infographic? infographical?) that illustrates rather vividly the limits of investing in markets like Laos:

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The most noteworthy point here is annual FDI to the country. Even with the “boom” in foreign money coming in, FDI still isn’t forecasted to reach even US$2 billion–in an economy whose total size is US$9 billion.

And yet, FDI is expanding something on the order of 40% a year.

If you start at the bottom, the only direction to go is up. And to give you an idea of just how low Laos’ starting point is, even Madagascar, even South Sudan, even Zimbabwe has a larger economy than Laos.

I’m obviously all for diversification and greater investment opportunities in underdeveloped markets. But it only works out if we keep our heads screwed on straight. Whenever the next broader market scare comes–and it will come–people will still need somewhere to go. Laos, as an answer to this question, will get filled up pretty fast.

I’m going to assume for the sake of argument that the phantom-froth-hype element of that $9 billion GDP figure cancels out the unreported informal economy element. So even with 100 more uncorrelated markets like Laos, it still wouldn’t come close to accommodating the sheer scale of capital that needs something besides US Treasuries during times of market duress.

Link to the article: http://www.divergingmarkets.com/2013/01/29/laos-not-the-new-vietnam-thailand-china-or-anything-else/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+



Link to the Wall Street Journal article:  http://professional.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323874204578220013585429702.html


Qatar spent USD 6bn on education

from Zawya and the Gulf Times..

January 27, 2013

Qatar spent USD 6bn on education

Qatar’s thrust on quality education was reflected in the country’s huge allocation of $6.04bn for the sector in 2012, a report shows.

According to Meed, the country spends about 4.1% of GDP on education, which it said is the “highest in the region”.

An unprecedented surge in public expenditure on education reforms throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will continue in 2013, as spending takes a bigger share of government spending, Meed said.
According to the latest data from the World Bank, public expenditure on education in the region stands at 18.6% of total government spending compared to the world average of 14.2%.

“This year promises to be an exciting time for the education sector throughout the region as governments allocate more resources for education reforms across the board. In anticipation of comprehensive reforms, we have adopted the theme ‘Smart Learning and Technological Advances in Education’ and developed a programme that will help various stakeholders to create and implement initiatives that will leverage technology to raise the quality of education in this part of the world,” said Matt Thompson, project director, F&E Group, organisers of the Gulf Educational Supplies and Solutions (GESS), the region’s leading educational exhibition.

In recognition of the exhibition’s important contributions to the education sector in the UAE and the rest of the region, GESS, along with the Global Education Forum (GEF), has received the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, as well as the support of the UAE Ministry of Education.

The region’s leading educational expo is set to take place between March 5 and 7 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

“GESS and GEF have both become an important platform for sharing global best practices in education reform as well as highlighting significant trends, specifically the technological advances, that have an impact on the development and future of teaching and learning in the region,” said Humaid Mohamed al-Qutami, who underscored the important role education plays in the continued progress of the UAE.

Elsewhere in the region, Bahrain has increased its commitment to education through the National Project to Develop Education and Training and a focus on E-learning is a cornerstone of the Schools Improvements Project (SIP).

In Kuwait, the Ministry of Education is focusing development efforts on reforming teaching methods and the national curriculum; and is likewise promoting the effective use of information and communications technology in the classroom.

Massive budget increases are boosting education reforms in Oman, thanks to an $800mn budget increase for education last year.

In Saudi Arabia, the government appropriated $40bn to education and training in 2011. Investment in human capital has become a top priority for the Saudi Government, as spending on education has more than tripled since 2000. The budget includes plans to build 610 new schools in addition to the 3,200 already under construction.

© Gulf Times 2013

Link to the article:  http://www.zawya.com/story/Qatar_spent_USD6bn_on_education-ZAWYA20130127034250/?lok=034200130127&weeklynewsletter&zawyaemailmarketing