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Trailer: When China met Africa (documentary)

April 6th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Film/Television, General, Politics, Travel

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:

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IT giant Infosys seeks African market expansion

March 30th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Technology

Indian IT company Infosys Technologies is continuing its entrance into the African continent. It said in a statement Friday morning that it believes Africa is a market for long-term IT services and hopes it will be able to implement an investment strategy.

In an interview with the Times of India, Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan said that Africa has great potential and populations are demanding an improvement in IT services.

Nigeria’s regulatory body this week echoed similar statements when it said that mobile phone services in the country are sorely lacking adequate customer service and infrastructure. Infosys could capitalize on this exact issue, said Ahmed Gabr, an IT specialist based in Nairobi.

Read more at itnewsafrica.com

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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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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 digital revolution (video)

April 26th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Film/Television, General, Technology

Radio Netherlands Worldwide features a short video on Africa’s digital revolution. The video, highlights the use of digital tools, online and mobile, by young Kenyans to bridge the learning and economic gap. A key observation when watching the video is the underlying shift from formal organized education to informal individual education as a result of Kenyan youth’s access to technological tools. Watch the feature below featuring Mark Kamau of Nairobits and John Karanja of Whive.

Nairobi is buzzing! There is an energetic and innovative vibe in the city. A young generation has risen to take matters into their own hands.

ALSO WATCH
CNBC Africa: East Africa Business Report on Social Media from Moses Kemibaro on Vimeo

If you can’t see the videos above go here to view

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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.

ATTENDANCE NOTES:
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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K’Naan launches Coca-Cola World Cup campaign

February 23rd, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted in Business, Events, Film/Television, General, Travel

Somalian-born, Canadian-based hip-hop artist K’Naan has specially recorded a version of the song “Wavin’ Flag”, originally featured on his 2009 album Troubadour, for the Coca Cola sponsored 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament, hosted by South Africa. The remix, “Wavin’ Flag (The Celebration Mix)”, will be part of Coke’s global integrated marketing campaign rolling out in over 150 countries this summer. The track will be used as the main music element throughout the entire campaign including as the soundtrack on all TV commercials, played at FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola events, featured on the online digital platform and more.

The campaign developed to support (Coke’s) sponsorship of the landmark sporting event is an extension of the current Coca-Cola brand platform “Open Happiness. (It) invites fans to express their optimism and passion for football through active dance celebrations.

Video: K’Naan World Cup Coke commercial featuring Spanish pop singer David Bisbal

Video: Coke FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour multimedia booth

If you can’t see the videos above click here

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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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Video: Nigeria’s Brain Gain

December 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted in Business, General, Travel

If you can’t see the video above click here.

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