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Ghana’s Black Stars celebrate World Cup push (video)

July 1st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Events, Featured, Games, General, Sports

I’m quite proud to be a Ghanaian right about now.

The Black Stars haven’t just made Ghanaians proud.

Being the only African team left in the cup, they are being cheered on by fans across the continent – all wanting the dancing to continue right through to the final. – BBC

Video: The Black Stars, Ghana’s football/soccer team, celebrating at their hotel after the win that sent them into the World Cup 2010 Quarter-Finals (via Pearcesport)

Video: Ghanaians celebrates World Cup win over US

If you can’t see the videos above, go here

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ESPN channels Apartheid-era South Africa for 2010 FIFA World Cup ad

April 12th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Events, Film/Television, General, Politics, Sports, Travel

For it’s part in the 2010 FIFA World Cup advertising wars, ESPN is channeling a major part of South Africa’s history:  Apartheid. The sports channel is starting it’s World Cup advertising with a Wieden + Kennedy created spot highlighting the importance of  football (soccer to Americans) at South Africa’s infamous Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. The commercial is part of a four-part series which will be rolled out over the course of the months before the World Cup start on June 11.

Our goal with this spot is to educate people about the historical significance of the World Cup being played in South Africa. – ESPN Marketing Director Seth Ader

Watch the commercial below and let me know what you think in the comments below.

via Adrants

If you can’t see the video above, go here.

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NY African Film Festival opens, celebrates World Cup and independent Africa


The 17th annual New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) has opened on April 7th celebrating the 50th anniversary of 17 African nations’ independence from colonial rule as well as the freedom that the rise in technology has given African filmmakers to tell their own stories. Among the 13 features and 25 short films from emerging and veteran filmmakers from 18 countries are four soccer films in honor of the World Cup’s first games in Africa opening in June 2010, an animated short program, Focus Features’ Africa First short program and an environmental film.

The festival runs from April 7 through the 13th at The Film Society of Lincoln Center and continues at Columbia University’s Institute for African Studies, 3ten Lounge, New Museum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music BAMcinématek with dates in April and May. Some films showing during the festival include The Absence, directed by Mama Keïta (Senegal/France), Eliane de Latour’s narrative film Beyond the Ocean, winner of the Jury Prize at the Festival des Cinéma du Monde 2009, and Wanuri Kahiu’s Pumzi, which I highlighted here before.

Take a look at the full film schedule.

On Saturday, April 10, a panel discussion will also be held where established and aspiring directors and producers will learn how to craft an attention-getting pitch and utilize social networking tools at “Getting Exposure: Securing the Buzz You Need for Your Film.” The panel takes place at The Film Society of Lincoln Center at 1:30 pm, and is part of  the film festivals “Independent Africa”.

Panelists will include Jennifer Merin, film journalist with and founder of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists; Misani, culture writer for the Amsterdam News; Paul Burani, social media strategist; and Pam Pickens, digital marketing expert. The event, which is open to the public, will be moderated by veteran entertainment publicist and NYAFF’s public relations consultant Cheryl L. Duncan of Cheryl Duncan & Company Inc.

For panel or film tickets, go to

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Notes from Columbia U’s 2010 Africa Economic Forum

2010-AEF-Logo-300x223Last week I attended Columbia University’s annual African Economic Forum (AEF). The two-day conference was a diverse and insightful one with discussions ranging from Branding Africa to the growing, sometimes controversial China-Africa relationship. The organizers put together a great program with much discussion during and in-between panels. While I couldn’t attend the full program, I was able to participate in some great discussions with attendees and panelists in the Africa Arena. I’ve provided my notes from the discussions I was able to attend below. My notes cover a mixture of discussion topics and perspectives from the esteemed panelists and attendees. Please keep in mind that the notes below are portions of the hour plus long discussions from my perspective as an attendee. If you have any insight into any of the topics in my notes please feel free to comment. For clarification on any of the points in my notes please shoot me an email.

Panel: African Fashion Going Global
Moderator: ZANDILE BLAY, Market Editor, Paper Magazine
Panelists: OLUCHI, Supermodel and the Original Face of Africa; BUSIE MATSIKO, CEO and Co-Founder, Fashion Indie Media; AISHA OBUOBI, Designer & Founder, Christie Brown; MIMI PLANGE, Designer and Founder, Boudoir D’huîtres

  • Should Africans sell primarily to Africans?
  • African designers are more torn about designing Africa-inspired clothes vs. other western designers designing Africa-inspired clothes
  • Western designers are not limited or stigmatized when using African influences in designs
  • Should there be an African fashion capital? Some panelists say no
  • Is there a viable African consumer enough to support African fashion industry?
  • Designers don’t want to get pigeonholed as an ethnic designer; need room for growth
  • There is very limited support (i.e. factories, retail outlets) for African designers on the continent
  • Some panelists say African designers should focus on African consumers rather than targeting global consumers first
  • There is lack of business expertise among designers on the continent
  • Designers need to partner up with business professionals on the continent
  • Pricing African designs is tricky
  • Not too many Africans will pay high prices to support African designers
  • There are two types of African consumers: 1) those that travel and buy high-end western clothes 2) the locals who can’t afford couture and buy mass
  • It’s hard to produce on the continent particularly if you’re not doing mass production
  • Many African designers aspire to go to South Africa fashion week because it’s the top African continent fashion industry
  • Just like you don’t only have New Yorkers in New York Fashion week, South Africa’s Fashion Week has Africans from all over continent
  • African designers get inspiration from everywhere just like other designers
  • Some African designers are more drawn to cultural design than others

More »

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Top 6 African business and culture trends to watch in 2010

Africa_fireworksIf, like me, you’ve been watching people and events surrounding Africa in mainstream and non-mainstream news, you’ll know that 2009 was a big year for Africa, From President Obama’s visit, to the new fiber-optic cable in Kenya, there was a lot of president-setting efforts going on in Africa. While there were the instances of political unrest, in all I think African countries had one of the better years. Looking forward to 2010, Africa seems in line to be put through some vigorous tests, From politics to agriculture and technology, in 2010 Africa will be challenged to show the world what is brewing under the hood for the next decade. Here are a few trends I think will greatly influence how Africans live and work in 2010:

1. Trickle-up innovation/reverse innovation

In 2007 C. K. Prahalad, author of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, highlighted five ways that developing nations are often ahead of the curve and how multinationals can adapt to the the changing product development lifecycle. In 2010, though some analysts say the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 is in recovery, we’ll continue to see an increase in businesses looking to developing nations, including Africa, as ground zero for new product and service innovation. Organizations will not neglect consumers in developed nations though. Rather, developing nations will take precedence in business development, with markets in the west getting re-targeted efforts already proven elsewhere. The big question is will African nations also turn their innovation sights into Africa to bolster African business and gain a home-field advantage against foreign businesses.

Watch: Google, GE, Microsoft, Nokia

2. Mobile and connectivity growth and standards
At this point, mobile technology is synonymous with connectivity in Africa. From government to industry, Africans are growing more reliant on the mobile phone for all aspects of life. 2010 will see a continuance of this trend within communities, and more importantly, governments will increasingly begin to use the mobile phone as a way of reaching African civilians. We are already seeing that in Kenya’s Obama-inspired mobile campaign to educate Kenyans on public policies. Beyond mobile technology, we’ll also see a surge in government-funded connectivity efforts and legislation around Africa. With the new fiber-optic cables launch in Kenya and other regions moving more services from analog to digital, Africa’s connectivity will be a priority for forward-thinking leaders. Case in point is the Kigali government’s recent launch of a $7 million wireless hot spot facility. We can expect to also see a lot of foreign investment in development and organization of the African mobile sector. I, for one, am looking forward to the growth of mobile innovations by African entrepreneurs. Hopefully African private and public sectors can engage the independent developers to accelerate the mobile industry in 2010

Watch: Government data centers,  2010 Fifa World Cup mobile marketing, Netbook market growth, M-pesa, Fiber-optic cables usage, MTN, KenyaAirways on Twitter, Zain, Safaricom

3. Rise of the African creative class
For the past several years, young Africans have been struggling to define a new identity for the themselves in the connected global community. As political stability has solidified in many African countries and African youth have begun to exert their influence at home and abroad, a community of independent creators have strengthened their voices and come to the forefront to re-define Africa for the 21st century. Fueled by connectivity, voluntary repatriation, international travel, and the growth of African cities, Africa’s creative class will be at the center of shaping Africa in 2010. In 2009 we saw African blogging reach it’s peak and a surge in African style and design multi-media channels. From Arise Magazine, to BHF Magazine, to Design Indaba, the exploration of what it means to be African in the 21st century continued to influence all areas. In 2010, with the debut of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa, we will see Africa’s creative class flexing their influence on everything from technology, to government policy, to international business. With so many African and foreign private and public organizations hoping to capitalize on the event, Africa’s creative class will be at the center of it all. As the core drivers of Africa’s urban areas, the creative class are the ultimate influencers. 2010 will be the year when they will be thrust into the limelight internationally. Let’s hope they (we) are ready.

Watch: Arise Magazine, Fela on Broadway, Design Indaba, Maker Faire Africa 2010, The Blk Jks, FESPACO, African Gay & Lesbian groups, Paul Sika, African Avante Garde

4. The Africa brand and tourism
The 2010 Fifa World Cup will have a major impact on Africa whatever the end result is positively or negatively. Most importantly, the World Cup will challenge African tourism, marketing, infrastructure and related industries to develop and maintain a consistent African brand identity. With the advent of high-profile global events like this and a need to share resources, African governments will have to re-visit and form cross-border alliances. While we have already seen regional groups like the East African Community strengthen their intergovernmental ties, 2010 will be the year when all African countries will have to answer the cross-border alliance question at the behest of foreign political engagement.

Watch: 2010 Fifa World Cup, African government summits, Cross-country tourism packages,  ICT sector, “Made in Africa” labeling

5. Africa and African-Americans
Not much has been said about the growing relationship between Africans and African-Americans. By and large there is still a communication rift between the two groups. But slowly, the relationship between the two groups is becoming symbiotic. While I don’t see a major shift in opinion between the two groups happening in 2010, I do expect a continuation of the rapid growth of African-American wealth to playing a part in African development. Resourceful and wealthy African-Americans will continue to invest in African culture and politics both on the continent and abroad, while Africans borrow from African-American history for lessons on developing an international identity. Particularly, a growing number of African-American entertainers and business people will see Africa as an extension of their life in the United States. some will even maintain plans to buy and move to the continent seeking a more personally and financially fruitful life. Africans will also begin to formally recognize this trend and capitalize on the brain gain. As more African-Americans look to Africa, African will become more high profile in African-American press pushing Afropolitan culture further into American pop culture.

Watch: Fela On Broadway, African real estate development, Africa correspondents in urban media, African-American foreign invetment groups.

6. China..and India
In November 2009, China pledged a multibillion-dollar package of financial and technical assistance to African governments over the next couple of years.  This was among one of the many efforts by Chinese government and business to form a tight alliance with Africa. China’s relationship with Africa will continue to dominate Africa news in 2010, with support and objections from many diverse groups as we’ve seen in 2009. The new year will also see an increase in Indian alliance with countries within the continent though it will continue to pale in comparison to China’s efforts. India and Africa will strengthen their ICT development relationships as African countries continue to push themselves as outsourcing destinations.

Watch: India-Africa learning trips, Chinese import export from Africa, Sino-African cultural conflicts.

What do you think? What other trends will influence Africa’s growth and development in 2010? Please share your comments.

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Trending Africa Aug. 12, 2009: Tony Hawk & Zulu skateboarders, World’s 1st solar-power phone, H. Clinton tours Africa

• Tony Hawk meets "fearless" Zulu skateboarders on South Africa trip

If a mosquito bites in Sub-Saharan Africa, grab your cell phone

Could Ghana be Africa's premier outsourcing destination?

African businesses to invest in sustainability

Hillary Clinton says "We're committed to Africa's future" during her Africa tour

Kenya’s Safaricom releases world’s first solar-powered phone

Ghana invests $150m in nationwide broadband infrastructure

Kenya to build Africa's biggest windfarm

Google announces G-Africa Initiative, a series of events in Sub-Saharan Africa for software developers

Puma’s love affair with African football deepens

February 27th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Charity, Events, Fashion, Film/Television, General, Sports, Travel

Puma Ghana Peace OneBeing the No. 4 sporting-goods brand is tough. But Puma is betting that backing African football (soccer to Americans) will differentiate the brand and win it a significant increase in market share. Continuing with the company’s commitment to African football made during the 2006 World Cup Games, Puma put some serious resources together for product and marketing efforts behind the 2008 African Cup of Nations held recently in Ghana. As a sponsor for 9 out of the 16 African teams, including tournament hosts Ghana and champions Egypt, Puma worked hard to make the brand synonymous with African football, even going so far as buying the Ghana team a top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz bus for transport between matches. The company began it’s Cup of Nations efforts with a sponsorship deal for Eurosport’s live coverage of the games and then a press conference at the brand new Puma store in Ghana’s Accra Mall. The press conference was held to announce several activities on the ground during the tournament, including a youth exhibition game co-hosted by the Peace One Day charity and edun Live and featuring African football legends Roger Milla and Anthony Yeboah. More »

Puma adds Namibia to list of 2010 African World Cup teams

April 10th, 2007 | 1 Comment | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Fashion, General, Sports

Puma Africa Plays On compilation CDPuma recently announced a sponsorship deal with the Namibian Football Association (NFA). Namibia’s national team, the Brave Warriors, will be supplied with Puma’s latest v-Series technical apparel and footwear beginning with the African Cup of Nations 2008 qualifier home game against the Democratic Republic of Congo on 16 June 2007 and for the next several years through the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. While I’m not really a sports fan, I’ve been following Puma’s push to “increase its African footprint” by sponsoring the most African football teams by 2010. Having already signed deals with Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Egypt, Tunisia, Senegal, Togo, Morocco, Mozambique, Angola and Botswana, Puma is already on it’s way to reaching that goal in the build-up to the 2008 African Cup of Nations in Ghana and 2010 World Cup in South Africa. As I reported previously, Puma began this journey last year by sponsoring the most African teams for the 2006 World Cup. Along with their sponsorship last year, Puma launched a targeted campaign in support of African football which included a huge press event with notable African personalities including Akon, a book “The African Game” by Nigerian photographer Andrew Dosunmu, a music CD, “Africa Plays On”, featuring music from various artists including Akon, John Legend, Amadou & Mariam, Cheikh Lô, and Daara J, and the related Puma Charity Collection. If last year’s campaign was an example, it looks like Puma be living up to its goal of pulling out all the big guns for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Now that’s what I call strategy.

“This association underlines PUMA’s commitment to African Football and specifically to the growth and development of Football in Namibia. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the NFA.” – Jochen Zeitz of PUMA AG

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African designers gamble at Magic Las Vegas

February 14th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Events, Fashion, General, Sports, Travel

African Pavilion Sourcing at Magic Las VegasLast August while in Las Vegas for a mini vacation with the family, being the workaholic I am, I squeezed in a visit to to Magic and it’s satellite tradeshows, Project and Pool. For those who have never attended the Magic event, basically it’s a few days of high octane buying and selling of apparel of all levels. The tradeshow is possibly the biggest and most known in the world and attracts everyone involved in the apparel industry. Though Magic is primarily organized as a meeting place for apparel companies and buyers, it has become a place for everyone to flex their brand muscle and get attention by outdoing each other. Magic is the main show held at the Las Vegas Convention center while the two smaller more specialized shows, Project and Pool take place at different venues in the surrounding area. I can’t describe the hustling that takes place at Magic. Because Magic attracts EVERYONE from celebrities, who are usually endorsing a clothing line, to magazine publishers and editors, for that week Las Vegas becomes a hustler’s heaven. And African companies are getting hip to the opportunities at Magic. In the short time I had to see all the exhibitors, I made sure to go over to the DESIGN South Africa area, a first-time collection of 10 South African fashion houses who, sponsored by the South African government, had been chosen to make the trip to exhibit their offerings to the international buyers. I got into a good conversation with Themba Mngomezulu of the Darkie label about design, African identity and breaking into the US market. Darkie is a popular label in South Africa and Themba has been doing his thing on the fashion scene for a while. I was happy to talk to him and see that African designers are making an organized effort to compete outside of their borders.

Design South Africa at Magic Las VegasThe Fall 2007 season of Magic started yesterday in Las Vegas and this season there’s an African Pavilion organized by Eastern and Central Africa Trade Hub and West Africa Trade Hubs. The area will be featuring various African companies “with the relevant strategies and insights” who have been chosen to get assistance in penetrating the American market. Unfortunately I will not be on the scene to report about their efforts for two reasons. The first reason is Las Vegas will be overrun with posers and groupies this week with Magic and NBA All Star Week taking place at the same time; I can’t take it! The second reason is, while the few days can gain a clothing line like mine unparalleled exposure, Magic is a budget buster which doesn’t fit my current business strategy. With costs ranging from $2500+ just to rent a booth space, it can be a costly lesson to learn if your company is not structured to capitalize on the exposure. Magic brings buyers from all over the world who are always eager to stock new brands. The reason for going to Magic from a designers perspective is to get orders and you are almost guaranteed to get some good ones. But I learned from attending a smaller tradeshow in Miami last year that getting sizable orders can actually kill your business. As a good friend of mine said “if you are building a house and you want it to last, you need to start with a solid foundation and use the right materials” (translation: longevity is based on patience and strategy). The apparel industry is an especially difficult one to succeed in. People go out of business everyday, and one of the main reasons is they grow too fast. Many people get into business for the fame and notoriety and fail to pay attention to the business part. Yes, the fashion business has some nice perks, but if you get caught up in the hype it’ll die just as fast as it lived. Lack of proper financing, partner disagreements, and absence of adequate apparel business knowledge constantly cause apparel companies to go out of business; and many times it can be avoided. When a company like Cloak has to close down, then you know there’s more to fashion than champagne and models. With that being said, I hope the African companies taking part in this season’s Magic tradeshow have the structure in place to deal with the possible instant success. While we must start competing at some point we should also try to set our own pace for growth. The American market has eluded numerous foreign brands. I’m lucky to have started here, but I think I’ll take my time and grow.

More about the African Pavilion and African Sourcing at Magic:

Discover the Magic of Africa
Following from a Hub sponsored workshop to provide Kenyan apparel firms with the relevant strategies and insights for exhibiting their wares at the Sourcing at MAGIC apparel trade show and that will assist them in penetrating the lucrative $180 Billion U.S apparel market, it was highlighted that for maximum impact at MAGIC, it would be important for participants from the region work together. In view of this, the ECA and West Africa Trade Hubs are working together to set up an ‘African Pavilion’ at the show. The Pavilion will showcase over 30 companies from 10 countries in Africa. The ECA Hub is sponsoring 9 companies from Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar and Ethiopia to the show which will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada in February 2007.

Africa Sourcing Opportunities and Challenges

Date: Thursday February 15, 2007
Start Time: 4:00 PM
End Time: 5:00 PM
Location: South Hall, First Level, Room MS116
Julie Hughes , Sr. Vice-President of International Trade, USA-ITA
Steve Jesseph , President/CEO, Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production
Belinda Edmonds , Cool Ideas, EDUN
Florie Liser , Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa
Info: Africa represents new opportunities for sourcing directors in light of the various free trade agreements currently in place and allowing for duty and quota free access. The continent also represents challenges to those who source in the region. Join our panel of experts and discover the possibilities.

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Branding Africa for 2010

July 18th, 2006 | 1 Comment | Posted in Events, Politics, Sports

World Cup 2010 in South AfricaBefore the 2006 World Cup was over, many people had already shifted their focus to the 2010 World Cup which will be held in South Africa. With Puma sponsoring the African teams this year and Ghana making a great attempt to reach the finals, no-one can deny Africa’s shift to the spotlight. In 2010 the world will be watching as our leaders try are-branding of Africa. Long looked at as the “dark continent” the upcoming World Cup has forced Africa’s leaders to consider the immense opportunities which come with such an international event. Whatever happens 2010 will be a defining moment for the continent.

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