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New wave of Western investment flows to African film

February 16th, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted in General
In recent years, though, there have been signs that a shift is under way. A wave of Western investment in African cinema has focused on sustainability and long-term growth. Rather than using Africa as a picturesque backdrop for big-budget studio productions, filmmakers from outside the continent and various fests are looking to cultivate a new generation of African talent….There’s been a shift on the festival circuit as well, helped by the emergence of small, dynamic African film festivals in the West, and a new generation of festival programmers looking to spotlight fresh African talent….The next step is to challenge the mainstream perception of Africa “as not really a dynamic place” for filmmaking in a way that translates into greater distribution, says Joslyn Barnes, who along with Danny Glover co-founded Louverture Films to help promote and cultivate filmmaking in the developing world.


Microsoft chairman plots Africa’s tech revolution (video)

January 18th, 2011 | 3 Comments | Posted in Business, General, Technology

In the video featurette below, CNN’s African Voices highlights Cheick Diarra, the Microsoft chairman for Africa who has been trying to make technology more accessible on the continent. In the video Mr. Diarra talks about tech affordability, connectivity, and training in Africa, and also comments on combatting software piracy by developing the local software development community, Before joining Microsoft in 2006, Cheick Diarra spent 10 years working for NASA as its first African astrophysicist.

The latest chapter in his career has seen him return to Africa, where he has been heading Microsoft’s operations since 2006, trying to make technology more accessible on the continent…’This is a unique opportunity because somebody like me, who is known for his scientific achievement, being able to have the opportunity to use, to leverage a company like Microsoft to really put the technology-access issue at the middle of the table,” he says….However, Diarra is quick to point out that access to technology will do little to accelerate Africa’s economic and social development if it is not accompanied by investment in the continent’s most important resource — its people. – CNN African Voices
More in the video below.
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Africa’s wealth and consumerism draws big brands

January 14th, 2011 | 4 Comments | Posted in Business, General

The Wall Street Journal is currently running an in-depth interactive series on the rapid development and potential of the African consumer market. The first installment of the series includes a wealth timeline of foreign investment in Africa, consumer profiles, an insightful article on multinational brand perspective and more. It’s a must read. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.

There’s a new gold rush under way for the African consumer, a campaign that spans the continent and aims to reach an emerging middle class. These are the people who have begun to embrace cellphone messages, restaurant meals and trips down supermarket aisles.
In Kenya, a battle between units of Britain’s Vodafone Group PLC, and India’s Bharti Airtel Ltd. has driven down the consumer’s cost of a text message to a penny. Yum Brands Inc. of the U.S. recently said it wants to double its KFC outlets in the next few years to 1,200.
And Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay nearly $2.5 billion to buy 51% of South Africa’s Massmart Holdings Ltd., with plans to use the discount retailer as a foothold for continental expansion. Andy Bond, Wal-Mart’s regional executive vice-president, describes the potential as a “10- to 20-year play.”
Some analysts believe a billion-person continental market already has arrived. Consultancy McKinsey & Co. says the number of middle-income consumers—those who can spend for more than just the necessities—in Africa has exceeded the figure for India. The firm predicts consumer spending will reach $1.4 trillion in 2020, from about $860 billion in 2008. – Read more on
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Insights on mobile banking & advertising in Africa (videos)

January 5th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted in Business, General, Technology

If you’ve been following this website or been engaged in any recent conversation about Africa’s future, you can’t have missed a mention about mobile technology innovation and it’s impact in Africa. For the curious or uninitiated, here are a couple of videos which focus on the trend and give some insight particularly in the banking and advertising industries.

Banking revolution saving lives in Africa (CNN)

According to the Bureau of International Information Programs at the U.S. State Department, around one million of Tanzania’s 41 million inhabitants use mobile phone technology to carry out financial transactions and save money.
At the same time, only 12% of the population have a formal bank account, while almost half of them own a cell phone.

M-Pesa: Kenya teaches the developed world about the mobile wallet (BBC)

In developing world countries like Kenya, the technology to do this has been around for several years – and you do not need a bank account to use it. M-Pesa launched in 2007, and there are now nearly 100 services like it around the world, mainly in developing countries. Can the developed world learn from Kenya’s experience with the mobile wallet?

Mobile Advertising in Africa (A talk by Ankit Rawal of InMobi)

Ankit Rawal, Head of Advertising, Africa, InMobi speaks about the state of mobile advertising in Africa at iHub in Kenya.

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Watch out Silicon Valley. Chinese and Indian Entrepreneurs Are Eating America’s Lunch

December 29th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in General
…India’s and China’s successes
aren’t due to their education systems, but despite them. You’ve
probably heard of Indian outsourcing hotspots like Bangalore and
Chennai, but it’s not just call centers and software sweatshops
Americans now need to worry about: Technology entrepreneurship is
booming all over in China and India, and is beginning to innovate;
these startups will soon start competing with Silicon Valley. The
next Google could well be cooked up in a garage in Guangzhou or

Indian and Chinese children are
very much like their counterparts in the United States –
intelligent, open-minded, and motivated to change the world. They
receive poor education on average, but many are able to rise above
that. And the United States is giving an unintended boost to these
countries by sending away highly educated skilled foreign


South Africa formally invited to join BRIC group of emerging global powers

December 24th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted in Business, Politics

South Africa has been formally asked to join the BRIC group of major emerging markets, comprising Brazil, Russia, India and China, bolstering its position as Africa’s champion.

Chinese President Hu Jintao wrote a letter to his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, to inform him of the decision and inviting him to the BRIC’s third heads of state meeting in Beijing next year, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in a statement on his ministry’s website today.

South Africa, which has a population of 49 million compared with China’s 1.36 billion, is betting on raising its clout on the world stage by joining BRIC, while strengthening political and trade ties within the bloc. The country accounts for about a third of gross domestic product in sub-Saharan Africa and will offer BRIC members improved access to 1 billion consumers on the continent and mineral resources including oil and platinum.

Joining the group is “the best Christmas present ever,” South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told a reporters in Pretoria today. “We will be a good gateway for the BRIC countries. While we may have a small population, we don’t just speak for South Africa, we speak for Africa as a whole.”

More at

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Growth and spending of African consumers (video)

December 8th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted in Business, Fashion, Film/Television, General

Here’s a very  informative video interview on African consumer growth, spending and attitudes. Courtesy of ABN Digital.

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Top 100 global thinkers of 2010

December 2nd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Charity, Featured, General, Politics

Foreign Policy Magazine has named their top 100 global thinkers of 2010. The list, which I’ve outlined below, is a mix of policy makers, advocates, and media professionals among other global influencers. A special congratulations goes out to Rosa Whitaker (#53), Ory Okolloh (#59), and Ethan Zuckerman (#81), all of whom  I’ve had the pleasure of connecting and sharing ideas with. View the full list below, and read the full story on the Foreign Policy website:

Beginning with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates (1), who teamed up to prove that even in tough times great new ideas can emerge, to forecasting economist Nouriel Roubini (12) to political leaders Barack Obama (3) and Angela Merkel (10), FP presents more than just their big ideas. Once again we took a unique survey of this very smart crowd. Nearly two-thirds participated to give you insight into their thinking on everything from how Obama’s doing to their preference in new-age reading device (iPad, by a lot). But don’t take our word for it — take the same questionnaire we sent to our FP 100 and see how your answers match up against theirs. – Foreign Policy Mag.

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Africa’s New Trade Frontier (infographic) – The BRICA Group

November 16th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Editor's Note, General, Politics, Travel

click to view larger

The above infographic gives an overview of Africa’s changing trade partnerships. The infographic comes courtesy of The BRICA Group, a new collaborative venture in partnership with Larry Ossei-Mensah of The BRICA Group’s mission is to serve as an advocate and catalyst for the development of innovation and creativity in emerging markets. We have more research and information efforts coming very soon. Visit for more.

Notes: leadership and innovation at 2010 World Business Forum

October 29th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Events, Featured, General

Recently I was honored to have been able to attend The World Business Forum, an annual business conference featuring some of today’s most influential business and leadership luminaries. The event, held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, featured 18+ speakers – including Al Gore, Jack Welch, Vijay Govindarajan, and Charlene Li – covering a range of business topics from social media to innovation to government. As a featured blogger – along with writers from The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post – I watched and listened for two days as global business leaders shared their insights on stage. I’ve outlined portions of my speaker notes for you to read below. You can also read through the archive of on-the-spot tweets from myself and fellow attendees in the #WBF10 Twitter stream for more context.

Jim Collins on sustaining great results

- The 5 levels of leadership

  • The highly capable individual
  • Contributing team member
  • Competent manager
  • Effective Leader
  • Level 5 executive

- Leadership only exists if people have the power to not follow

- To much opportunity can kill a company more than a lack of opportunity

- Good executives must have the abiity to pick the right people for the right seats

- Most overnights success are 20 years in the making

Bill McDermott on winning in the new reality

- You need compelling vision for business

- You can tell everything about a CEO by their executive secretary

- The best run businesses have connected enterprise (IT)

Jack Welch on management

- The team that owns the best players wins

- The internet is the Viagra of big business

- Companies spend too much time with the bottom 20% achievers than the top 10%

Carlos Brito on building a performance culture

- Great people = Great companies

- Great people like meritocracies

- Without meritocracy, great people will leave because they have opptions, and weak people will stay because they don’t

- Create a culture of owners

Charlene Li on social networks

- You can’t have a strategy about Facebook

- Social technologies are about relationships

- We overvalues things we can measure, and undervalue what we can’t

Martin Lindstrom on marketing

- Removing a logo is just as powerful

- 83% of brands communicate with only one sense

Joseph Grenny in influence

- Grenny’s law of leadership: No strategy is so brilliant that people can’t render it useless

- Culture and behaviour are a good way to influence business success

- Influencers succeed because they overdetermine success

- Six sources of influence

  • Influence of pain or pleasure of behaviour
  • Influence of skill
  • Influence social networks
  • Influence with power of crowds
  • Influence of cost and incentives
  • Influence with environment

David Gergen on leadership

- Blogs make it harder on Washington

- General Petraues is a good leader; combines accessibility with a chain of command

Steve Levitt on freakonomics

- The Best ideas are the simplest

- Regression analysis help economists see patterns

- Microeconomics in business can be important

- In a complex world, if you set up complex rules, people will game it

- If you want to succeed and you have no special talent, find the most niche topic and become an expert in it

Joseph Stiglitz on the economy

- During economic downturn, the poeple who needed to fix the economy probably too vested in maintaining it

- The White House doesn’t hate business, see the bank bail-outs

A.G. Lafley on customer centric growth

- Inventions are not innovative until it becomes commercial

- Essence for creative innovation

  • Openness
  • Curiosity
  • Connecting
  • Collaboration
  • Courage

Renee Mauborgne on strategy

- Management should spend more time on creativity rather than productivity

Vijay Govindarajan on innovation

- The 3 boxes of management

- Manage the present

- Selectively abandon the past

- Create the future

James Cameron on creativity

- His creative process

  • Do story treatment
  • Get graphic designers to visualize story
  • Write script
  • Cast actors
  • Produce and edit movie

As I mentioned before read through the The World Business Forum tweets archive for more context to my notes. You can also view some video highlights of the conference and read what some of my fellow bloggers wrote at the official Bloggers Hub. Hope to see you at the 2011 edition of the World Business Forum.

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