GK Annan in Business, Editor's Note, Technology With | Comments Off on Africa Trends Roundup: Internet-Anywhere, Smart cities, & Jobs creation
Getting insights from the noisy coverage of Africa can be very hard. We’ve sifted through all the news and views and identified these recent stories which more accurately indicate what Africa’s cultural, and business ecosystems might look like in the near future. Read on and continue to stay one step ahead.
Made In Kenya, Assembled In America: This Internet-Anywhere Company Innovates From Silicon Savannah – Fast Company: (BRCK) is essentially a mobile Internet router. It connects to the web in three ways: by plugging in a standard ethernet cable, by bridging with other Wi-Fi networks, or by accessing 3G or 4G data via a basic SIM card…While designed in Kenya, BRCK is manufactured and assembled deep in the heart of Texas, by a company called Silicon Hills. Located outside of Austin, the company has the key ability to iterate and do small runs. According to its CEO, BRCK couldn’t also be manufactured in Kenya because of the considerable import taxes and time delays when bringing components into the country.
Infrastructure & connectivity key to Africa’s smart cities – IT News Africa: For a continent driven by mobility, Wi-Fi presents a significant opportunity to aid in the socio-economic development of people – particularly as it provides a cost-effective access solution to high-density areas such as those found in cities.
Fletcher cites the example of Kenya and Ghana that are heavily investing in building pre-planned technology hubs that have the capacity to be involved in the smart cities of the future.
The Previously Untold Story Of Africa’s Mobile Revolution – Forbes: Africa’s mobile revolution has been called a phenomenon that “changed African nations more significantly than any development since their independence from colonial powers.” Today, Africa is even more reliant on mobile technology than the West. But one important story has remained untold. It’s the saga of how one person, imbued with entrepreneurial passion and surrounded by a supportive ecosystem of colleagues, helped launch an SMS text messaging service for real-time market pricing that eventually transformed the continent.
Africa at work: Job creation and inclusive growth – McKinsey: Despite the creation of 37 million new and stable wage-paying jobs over the past decade, only 28 percent of Africa’s labor force holds such positions. If the trends of the past decade continue, Africa will create 54 million new, stable wage-paying jobs over the next ten years—but this will not be enough to absorb the 122 million new entrants into the labor force expected over the same period. However, by implementing a five-part strategy to accelerate the pace of job creation, we estimate that Africa could add as many as 72 million new wage-paying jobs over the next decade, raising the wage-earning share of the labor force to 36 percent…If Africa accelerates job creation, it could add 72 million additional wage-paying jobs by 2020.
Africa’s testing ground – The Economist: Nigeria’s promise has made it a test-bed for the Africa strategies of consumer-goods firms. This is not only because of its size. It is also because of the spread of Nigerian culture—its music and movies—around Africa, says Yaw Nsarkoh of Unilever. The Anglo-Dutch company has been trading in Nigeria for nearly a century and is expanding its operations.Procter & Gamble, another global consumer giant, has just completed a factory near Lagos, its second in Nigeria..Just as Nigeria is used as shorthand for the business opportunity in Africa it is also a summary of the continent’s shortcomings.
Report reveals sub-Saharan Africa’s 10 most competitive economies – How We Made it in Africa: More than half of the 20 lowest-ranked countries in the report are sub-Saharan, and many markets have insufficient infrastructure and poor levels of health and basic education…The region’s challenge is to turn high growth into inclusive growth and make the transition from agriculture-based economies to higher value-added activities.
GK Annan in General With | 1 Comment
On a recent trip to Ghana, I spent a good amount of time traversing Accra, and consequently getting stuck in traffic. Ghana is not unlike many other African and foreign cities. It boasts a growing urban population, engaged middle class, and business growth. Add to that poor urban planning and you get horrendous daily traffic. At this point Ghanaians have accepted that traffic delays are a way of life and have adjusted accordingly. Commuters try to alleviate travel headaches by getting multiple cars per household – one for each member of the family to travel independently. Having a driver also allows you to multi-task and rest while stuck in traffic. Enterprising Ghanaians are taking advantage of the congestion and the captive audience. Hawkers are a treat for any Accra tourist. You can buy everything from solar light bulbs, to children’s toys, and puppies – Yes, live puppies – in Accra traffic. Ghanaian businessman Albert Osei, founder of Koko King, launched his popular mobile breakfast business throughout Accra, mostly supported by his street carts serving Ghanaian commuters sitting in traffic.
GK Annan in General With | Comments Off on Flying drones or more roads? What will connect more Africans?
There’s an ongoing debate going on right now spawned by recent news that Facebook’s bid to buy a drone manufacturer has implications for the company’s goal of “connecting Africa”. Whether Facebook actually intends to pursue that goal or it’s just a ploy to keep the company’s investors happy, the idea that Africa’s future could be filled with the buzzing of drones has sparked a heated debate.
2 sides to the debate
On one side are those who champion the idea. On the other hand detractors criticize the initiative as a dumb, libertarian fantasy I agree that the Facebook’s drones, Google’s balloons, or Microsoft’s tv white spaces won’t be the magic bullet that solves Africa’s problem. I’m not as skeptical as Bill Gates though, that any of these ideas are off base. Facebook, Google etc. might have their own motivations for pursuing these initiatives, but that does’t necessarily make it a pie in the sky idea. I’m not sure about Facebook, but Google has made a business of executing on pie in the sky ideas. Remember what we said about self-driving cars? The company has shown us that it has the chops to prototype, test, release a solution and then work with government to make their solution a widespread option.
GK Annan in General With | Comments Off on IBM Chief Research Scientist on Tech as enabler for Africanized solutions
Last year I met IBM research scientist Uyi Stewart at a Africa business and innovation conference at the NYU. After hearing him talk on a panel and a few short conversations I could tell that he was a man on a mission. At the time we connected Uyi was finalizing plans to leave his position in the USA for a role in Kenya as the Chief Scientist at IBM Research Lab – Africa. Since launching in November of 2013, the research lab has hit the ground running with a few powerful projects, most notably a project to reduce Kenyan traffic congestion using mobile phone data.
CNN’s African Voices program recently sat with Mr. Stewart to talk about his return to Africa, technology as an enabler, and the part he and IBM are playing in African innovation. Watch below.
GK Annan in Business With | Comments Off on Business success in Africa is all about relationships
Carlo Regueiras, Africa Sales Manager at Altech ISIS explains:
Despite the fact that doing business in Africa has changed significantly over the past few years with the continent’s business environment maturing, there are still many continent- and country-specific adaptations that are required for a company to be successful. The only way to achieve an effective business presence in an African country is through local knowledge.”While many companies profess to have this local knowledge, few have an established network of local partners that allows them to overcome the challenges that even home-grown businesses have to overcome in these emerging markets, and even fewer have presence in multiple African countries.
Read more in Africa is all about relationships)
GK Annan in Business, Technology With | Comments Off on Kenya’s Billion-Dollar Dash to Become the Tech Hub of Africa
Nairobi, Kenya has become the tech hub of Africa, a niche that could be worth more than one billion dollars to the country in the next three years despite its 40% unemployment rate. Kenya is throwing all their eggs in the tech basket as they build a multi-billion dollar infrastructure in the form of a “Techno City” that will support 200,000
GK Annan in Events, Politics, Technology With | Comments Off on Using Twitter for Nigeria election reform
At the center of grass roots efforts to keep Nigeria’s notorious election process clean is a small, indistinguishable man armed with a cell phone…Amara, wearing a t-shirt with the phrase “Light Up Nigeria” and with his mobile phone always close by, is perhaps Nigeria’s best-known Twitter activist….But as Amara tours polling stations across Lagos, he is leaving nothing to chance. He uses the internet as a platform to encourage as many people to get involved in the voting process as possible….Nigeria has 43 million Internet users — the largest in Africa — and they are increasingly using Twitter, Facebook and blogs, such as Nigeria’s Saharareporters.com, to access information and make their views heard.
Read more at CNN.com
GK Annan in Business, Film/Television, General, Politics, Travel With | Comments Off on Trailer: When China met Africa (documentary)
‘When China met Africa‘, a new documentary film produced by Marc Francis & Nick Francis and Miriana Bojic Walter, tells the story of China’s entrance into Zambia and the cultural and business relationships surrounding:
A historic gathering of over 50 African heads of state in Beijing reverberates in Zambia where the lives of three characters unfold. Mr Liu is one of thousands of Chinese entrepreneurs who have settled across the continent in search of new opportunities. He has just bought his fourth farm and business is booming.
In northern Zambia, Mr Li, a project manager for a multinational Chinese company is upgrading Zambia’s longest road. Pressure to complete the road on time intensifies when funds from the Zambian government start running out.
Meanwhile Zambia’s Trade Minister is on route to China to secure millions of dollars of investment.
Through the intimate portrayal of these characters, the expanding footprint of a rising global power is laid bare – pointing to a radically different future, not just for Africa, but also for the world.
Watch the trailer below:
GK Annan in Business, General, Technology, Travel With | Comments Off on Western Union partners with M-Pesa for international mobile money transfers
Western Union has announced a partnership with M-PESA, the popular Kenyan mobile cash-transfer service. This deal opens up Western Union’s huge money transfer network to the Safaricon-owned “mobile wallet” service. The parnership will allow customers in US, UK and other countries to transfer money to a Safaricom/M-Pesa user’s account and the receiver will receive an SMS message from M-PESA notifying them that the money is available in their account.Kenyans living abroad can now send money to their relatives back home through Safaricom’s mobile money transfer service, M-Pesa.This is after Safaricom and Western Union signed an agreement, which enables Kenyans living in 45 countries in the US, Asia, Europe and Africa to access the now world famous M-Pesa service.Although they can send up to Sh35,000 per transaction, limits per day, per month or per year will depend on the country the money is sent from, following the link-up that is likely to give the NSE listed firm a head start in the increasingly competitive mobile telephony market.“Through this partnership, our customers and their friends and families will benefit from affordable, faster and more convenient international remittances,” said Safaricom chief executive officer, Bob Collymore.Mr David Yates, of Western Union, applauded the service as an impressive adoption of the mobile channel.“Cash payout through M-Pesa is projected to go up from 23 per cent to 40 per cent, as the traditional cash payout will take the rest,” Mr Yates said.The transaction is similar to a traditional cash-to-cash money transfer, except that the sender specifies the recipient’s mobile phone number at the time the funds are sent.via Daily Nation