Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Climbing the Outsourcing Ladder

Read Emeka's Timbuktu Chronicles post about outsourcing opportunities outside of India and my comments.

Nice post Emeka. Africa can seize this opportunity by adopting international standards for communications infrastructure. We also need expatriates to come back to Africa and invest in science and technology education, then we can start to build African versions of Wipro, Infosys, and Tata’s........

Nubian Cheetah (Nii)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Links for July 30

Here are some interesting links:

Kenyan managers now rank among the best paid globally

Written by Geoffery Irungu

Kenya’s executive salaries have reached record levels with senior managers taking home the highest pay in Africa ahead of South Africa, Egypt and developed countries such as Japan, United Kingdom and Canada.

Kenya is now ranked 15th among the countries that pay the best salaries in the world and just Sh50,000 behind the United States of America—its nearest competitor—a country that has in the last decade gained global notoriety for overpaying company bosses and senior managers of listed companies.

Rwanda: Phone Banking

Daniel Karibwije


Phone banking has finally come to Rwanda courtesy of the commercial bank of Rwanda (bcr).

This was announced by the marketing and communication manager of bcr, Mr. Hannington Namara during a function held at the Hotel des Mille Collines last week.

"This is the first of its kind in the banking industry in the country. People in the diaspora can now call the bank and get real information on their account without having to go through a relative or a manager who might be busy," he revealed during the press conference.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Nigeria: Country's Nuclear Power Plant Begins 2011

I'm a big proponent of nuclear power. However, many people have concerns for it's safety. In the next week or so I will cover more about Nuclear power in Africa and how France has utilized it for 70% of it's energy needs.

Nigeria, despite it being a producer of oil is moving forward with plans for construction of it's first nuclear power plant in 2011.

Juliana Taiwo

Problem of epileptic power supply in Nigeria may soon become a thing of the past, as the Director-General of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), Dr Franklin Erepamo Osaisai, yesterday said the Commission hopes to begin actual construction of the nation's first nuclear power plant by 2011.

He said the Commission was expecting the design certification and requisite regulatory approvals to be concluded in 2009, while power generation would begin by 2017.

Read more here

Thursday, July 26, 2007

End trade barriers, says Cameron

Reposted from BBC Africa

 David Cameron with Alfred Mukezamfura, speaker of the chamber of deputies in Kigali

Tory leader David Cameron has called for an end to trade barriers that put developing countries at an "unfair disadvantage", during a trip to Rwanda.

He said all rich countries should end trade tariffs unilaterally and British aid spending should be speeded up.

Launching a policy group's report on global poverty, he said trade rules were "immoral".

The group's proposals, which may or may not be adopted as Tory policy, include making aid spending more "transparent".

In a speech in Kigali, Mr Cameron called for an immediate end to trade barriers, saying: "Forget the endless tortuous negotiations about getting something in return.

"Just do it. We can afford it, Africa needs it, and we will all benefit from it."

Read More Here

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Kickstart Technologies: irrigation, and cooking oil human-powered pumps

I'm a affiliate blogger for Erik Hersman's Afrigadget. I just wrote about KickStart technologies pumps used for irrigation and building construction.

From Afrigadget:

I met the managers of Kickstart technology at the recent TED Global conference in Arusha, Tanzania. Kickstart’s patented technology bridges the gap between expensive industrialize equipment used to pump, squeeze or pack and all it’s products are human powered. This is a very important feature in Africa for the Base of the Pyramid (BOP) market, because it solves the issue of energy and cost for equipment used in agriculture, and construction.

Kickstart’s most popular product is an irrigation pump that uses the stepping motion you see in a work-out gym to move water hundreds of feet to irrigate land. Kickstart also has been able to sell several thousands of these products all across Africa, and has been approach by the United Nations to sell globally.

Read more here:

TED fellow Segeni Ng'ethe MamaMikes, hooks up Diaspora with motherland

I just read this article about TED fellow Segeni Ng'ethe's company Mama Mikes.

Written by Bob Wayne Bell Jr.

Mr. Ng'ethe (seated) and colleagues
Tech firms are being established by a new breed of technology entrepreneurs who are tapping and exploiting international markets, making a profit, and making a difference in the lives of Kenyans.

MamaMikes is a local e-commerce company that allows the Kenyan Diaspora to meet the needs of their family at home without the need for money transfer services.

Kenyans abroad can pay school fees, provide vouchers for shopping or home utilities, buy stocks, or transfer mobile airtime directly through the Internet. MamaMikes is cashing in on the estimated Sh70 billion remittances industry, which catapulted ahead of Kenya’s tourism sector last year.

According to a study done by Monice Nyamwange of William Paterson University, 72.5 per cent of remittances are for consumption while 64.9 per cent are spent on school fees.

With MamaMikes focusing on consumption goods and services as well as school fees, this company is tapping a lucrative market while reducing the transactional costs.

Estimates of the Kenyan Diaspora in America vary from 40,000 to 60,000 depending on the source.

However, the average Kenyan in the US has more education and makes more money per capita than other black African immigrants as well as average Americans.

With many African enterprises bootstrapped for growth by the low incomes of their customer, MamaMikes targets customers with relatively high incomes.

The founders of MamaMikes conceived the company in Washington, DC. They are part of what Professors Barbara E McDade and Anita Spring of the University of Florida (USA) consider to be “new generation entrepreneurs.

Read more here

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Somalia, a 'failed state' that functions

All that we hear and see in the press about Somalia is very depressing. However, Somalians enjoy one thing most people around the world don't have to deal with, bureaucracy. Somalia officially has no government, so one doesn't have to deal with the bureaucracy that comes with a government. When Somalia had a government there were many state owned enterprises that were monopolies, today you have many competitors in several industries.

There is no functioning national grid so entrepreneurs provide electricity on a local basis using generators bought from overseas. Wireless providers don't need to worry about buying a license to operate a Mobile network, because there is no government! In late 80's the national air carrier operated just one airplane and only a few routes. Today the airline sector has 15 firms, many aircraft, and more routes than before.

Many reading this would ask, "how is the law operated"? Disputes are settled at the clan/tribe level, by traditional systems run by elders. Security is handled by each local city itself, and it is paid by it's citizens.

Women are shaping Africa's renaissance

There is a paradigm shift going on in Africa, this shift has giving women opportunities they never had before. When the Apartheid finally came tumbling down, there was no question that the decisive blows came from South African women.

Today, women from Monrovia to Nairobi are building on African indigenous foundations. Women are beginning to flex their intellectual muscle and are beginning to lead and manage institutions and businesses across the continent. Today, Africa has the first African female President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia. Women in growing numbers are beginning to serve and be heard across Africa.

African needs to embrace and encourage equality for women. The only way Africa is going to prosper is participation from women. We need more women entrepreneurs, artists, scientist, engineers, and risk-takers.

Here is a small list of women making an impact in Africa:

Winnie Byanyima, Uganda
Director of the AU Women, Gender and Development Directorate

Samia Nkrumah, Ghana
International Journalist

Mamphele Ramphele, South Africa
Vice-Chancellor of University of Cape Town

Wangari Maathi, Kenya
Environmentlist and Nobel Peace Prize winner

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigeria

Gertrude Mongella, Tanzania
President of AU Pan-African Parliament

Alek Wek, Sudan

Asha-Rose migiro, Tanzania
UN Deputy Secretary General

Monday, July 23, 2007

100 dollar laptop production begins

By Jonathan Fildes
Science and technology reporter, BBC News

Students at a school in Nigeria

Five years after the concept was first proposed, the so-called $100 laptop is poised to go into mass production.

Hardware suppliers have been given the green light to ramp-up production of all of the components needed to build millions of the low-cost machines.

Previously, the organisation behind the scheme said that it required orders for 3m laptops to make production viable.

The first machines should be ready to put into the hands of children in developing countries in October 2007.

"There's still some software to write, but this is a big step for us," Walter Bender, head of software development at One Laptop per Child (OLPC), told the BBC News website.

The organisation has not said which countries have bought the first machines.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Must read articles from African Executive

Anyone interested on business in Africa needs to subscribe to the African Executive eNewsletter. This online magazine has a weekly newsletter on business, development, and technology in Africa. It's basically the African version of Business Week.

China: Not All that Glitters is Gold!
By Yemisrach Kifle

Over the past several weeks, unsafe Chinese goods have made world headlines. Countries such as the United States are taking action to ensure that their citizens are protected by inspecting goods coming from China closely and banning some types completely. Read more here

Is the United States of Africa Already Here?
By Ken Teyie

The proposal to officially create a United States of Africa may not have come at a better time than now when international trade is dictating the pace of development. Thanks to technological innovation. Recent trends indicate that the unity is already here. Through various communication technologies, Africa has transformed into a large business unit.

Over the past 5 years, the cost of communication in Africa has come down to manageable levels providing a wide menu of communication technology to choose from. The cost factor has largely dictated the choices made with an aim of bridging the digital divide. Read more here

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

How do we help other William Kamkwamba's in Africa?

Myself and others have paid a lot of attention to William Kamkwamba's Windmill. William deserves all this attention, and I'm sure his family is grateful to him and all the support they are getting. However, how do we spurn grassroots education and risk-taking across Africa? You can ask the same question in another way. How do we spurn millions of Williams to also be risk-takers and inventors?

One of my favorite two invention type of magazines I've been reading for years is Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. These two magazines show how to make and repair almost everything. Next time I go back to Africa or my own country Ghana, I will be giving away all old magazines: business, technology, and others.

We as Africans need to look at small tipping points that make a big difference. I want anyone reading this blog to think about your own respective countries and think of ways you can make a difference by sending old textbooks or computers you don't use anymore.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Where to invest in Africa

I was talking to an old friend of mine a couple days ago about business in Africa. During our short conversation about this subject she asked, "where are the investment opportunities and what sectors should one invest if they had minimal funds." I just realized she was being very serious and said, "there are all kinds of opportunities," but before I gave her anymore answers I suggested she Google Africa Open for Business and watch the video. I told her we can talk more in a few days about where to invest, but she had to watch the video.

You see, we humans are a unique species; we learn better by watching or witnessing something. I called her a couple of days later and she told me she watched the video and she wants to invest in media and the stock market, I replied those are very good markets to invest in right now. My friend then told me how astonished she was that Carol Pineau was able to film and interview all the African business owners. I made her watch Africa Open for Business, because if I told her where to invest without her actually seeing the opportunity she may have not really believed me.

For those reading this, if you are interested in investing your money in Africa these are the sectors I would be focusing on.

1. Health - water purification, generic pharma

2. Media - Africa's has a growing middle class and many are starting to watch African generated content. Nigeria leads the continent for it's films.

3. Energy -Solar energy, Wind power, bio-compost

4. Stock Market - talk to your broker to see if there are any ADR's listed on your home country's stock exchange.

5. Education - there is a lot of money one can make in education, especially for the growing field of information technology.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Does the BOP address wealth creation?

C.K. Prahalad's book, Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits is a great book with many opportunities for global companies who are trying to reach the 4 billion humans living on less than a dollar a day. The BOP (Bottom of the Pyramid or Base of the Pyramid) has enabled a new thinking among people in the development field, and has business schools re-writing their curriculum to adopt some practices from Mr. Prahalad.

As great as the BOP is, the current theory about the BOP is a little flawed in that it does not really address the most important issue in development - how can the poor make a sustainable living in emerging markets? I was discussing this issue with a colleague of mine, Dr. Reuben Abraham. Reuben is with the Cornell University’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at the Johnson School of Management and a visiting faculty at the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad. Speaking with Reuben we both agreed the theory behind BOP is great for companies who are trying to reach a underserved market, it is also good for the 4 billion at the bottom of the market to buy smaller quantities of a product they normally couldn't buy. However, how can we enable the poor to generate income and make it a sustainable revenue stream?

In CK's book he does give some examples of how Proctor & Gamble and Coke help entrepreneurs with making a living. In one example in the book, Coke supplied refrigerators to vendors as long as they use Coke products and P&G helps with logistics in India. Reuben even told me that the best selling product made for the BOP market in India is a skin-bleaching cream. This cream is so popular for this consumer-products multinational it is marketing this product and people are lining up to buy it. When I heard this I thought of my own country of Ghana...people to this day, try to bleach their skin and don't know the health implications of such actions.

Speaking with Reuben, we came to the conclusion the best way to help the world's poor is through investment and micro-financing. Reuben is a Cheetah that is doing some great things; he serves on the global board of directors of George Soros’ Economic Development Fund, a $140 million fund which is involved in catalyzing growth in emerging markets. He founded and runs the International Private Enterprise Group (IPEG), a New York based network of professionals, which promotes the role of the private sector, capital markets and technology in catalyzing economic development in emerging markets.

When you get a chance check out his blog: ZooStation

Friday, July 13, 2007

Links for Fri 13th

From AllAfrica.com

Southern Africa: SADC to Set Up Gas, Petroleum Body

The Southern African Development Community is setting up a Regional Petroleum and Gas Association to promote trade in the respective products.
The project will also harmonise standards and regulations in the sector.

Kenya: Brokers to Accept Plastic Money

Stockbrokers can now accept card payments for shares bought by retail investors.
The move is expected to increase access to the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) by overseas retail investors.

Also check out Reuters Africa - very good for African business news.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

This is belated, but thanks TED and Emeka Okafor

Chris Anderson, Emeka Okafor, and David McQueen

I was sitting in the subway today and was thinking how fortunate it was that I was invited to TED. Organizing that event was not that easy, I organized the 2003 Ghana Outsourcing Conference a few years ago in Philadelphia and that was hard. Multiple my event times 1000 and you have TEDGlobal 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania.

First, I owe a lot of people thanks to. I want to thank Bono, who had the vision of bringing this event to our continent and for even showing up. I want to thank Chris Anderson the owner of TED for putting his resources and time into organizing a wonderful event. I want to thank the TED staff, for without their help we probably would be stranded in Arusha or Nairobi (I believe some did actually...like me). I want to thank the all the sponsors, especially Google and Dan Shine from AMD on giving the Fellow's a choice of our own laptop (PC or Mac).

The last person I want to thank was very instrumental in getting many of the speakers. I've talked to this person via email a couple of times before we actually met at the annual Wharton African Business conference. I want to thank Emeka Okafor for a brilliant, masterful, and diverse speaker line-up for TEDGlobal2007. If Emeka hadn't told me to apply for a Fellowship I might not have made it to TED.

Many know Emeka as the face behind his blog Timbuktu Chronicles, jokingly I introduced Emeka to a friend of mine Derrick Ashong, at the Wharton Conference last November as the Walter Cronkite of Africa. No, Emeka is not a journalist. I think if you would talk to Emeka, he would say he is an entrepreneur with a journalist itch of spreading the word every now and then. Emeka in every sense is an entrepreneur, he is co-owner of specialty Food company called Caranda foods. Caranda specializes in Coffee, Tea and specialty foods.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

African Union meeting - Hippos are not being relevant!

The recent African Union meeting in Accra, Ghana was what I would call a bunch of Hippos talking about irrelevant items. This meeting was really to address pressing issues such as; Darfur, economic development and energy crisis. What happened instead... most of the summit was focused on a United States of Africa. I have to say, these Hippos did talk a little about other issues effecting Africa, but the focus on this United States of Africa seem to be the topic for the whole conference.

I do agree we need a unity trading block like the European Union, the African Union should just be that and nothing more. Furthermore, Africa is quite diverse with divisions in language, customs and religion. One Hippo in East Africa mentioned that the official language for this new republic should be Swahili, I laughed when I heard that. Over time I believe we will see a single currency, Ecowas in West Africa is actually planning on having the "Eco" currency by 2012...whether this happens time will tell.

Next year when they have this summit they should talk about these pressing items.

1. Economic Development
2. Energy (Nuclear, Solar)
3. Human rights (Darfur, Congo, etc)
4. Education
5. Capital Markets
6. Last, but most important Health!

Read more about the conference here

Softtribe's SMS payment agnostic service for developing countries

Herman Chinery-Hesse

Developing countries have scarce capital, credit or loans available to them to engage in commerce. So when the CEO of Softtribe spoke at TedGlobal2007 about his agnostic sms payment service I was overjoyed with pleasure (I'll explain this later).

There are quite a few sms mobile payment options out there in the world; Kenya has M-pesa by Vodafone, Indonesia, India, and now I hear Paypal is getting into the mix. All these payment systems are OK Herman says, but they are a closed systems. Softtribe's system Herman claims will be totally agnostic.

I called Herman a few weeks ago in Accra, Ghana where he is based. We talked a bit about TED, the weather in East Africa compared to West Africa and about this SMS payment service he is working on. Herman sees this service being the Gold standard in Africa and other developing markets.

The mobile phone has disrupted the landline phone service, has enabled Africans and others in developing countries to communicate with the outside world. Now the mobile phone is getting ready to disrupt another industry credit/debit cards. This is already taking place in Japan, Japanese use their Mobile phones to pay for Metro/subway fares, movie tickets, a cup of green tea and other items.

As an entrepreneur, I want to see Herman's service and other uninhibited payment systems flourish. Many Africans such as myself are Internet entrepreneurs, we are embracing alternative payment systems that allow consumers in Africa to be able to buy things through our websites.

Softtribe's service comes out later this year, be on the look out!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Zimbabwe: Rand Set to Prop Up Zim Dollar

The crisis in Zimbabwe is very depressing and shameful. Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket of South Africa. I just read this article on how the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will use the RAND to curb the high inflation rate in Zimbabwe.

However, President Robert Mugabe would first have to agree to fundamental political reforms in talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which are due to start near Pretoria tomorrow.

Read more from All Africa.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Africans to Bono: 'For God's sake please stop!

I just read an interesting article written by TED fellow Jennifer Brea. Jennifer basically summarizes the discussion about aid and Bono and Africans wish of more trade then aid for the continent.

Please read Jennifer Brea's article here.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...