Friday, October 31, 2008
ARM was established in 1994 as an asset management firm with a global perspective.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Oct 9th 2008
From The Economist print edition
With world markets in turmoil, an unexpected and overlooked continent may benefit from its very isolation
TAKE a snapshot of the main news stories around Africa. In Nigeria, its most populous country, the insurgency in the oil-producing Delta region grows fiercer by the day. Zimbabwe’s agony continues as President Robert Mugabe and the new prime minister, his opponent in the last election, Morgan Tsvangirai, fail to agree on the composition of a face-saving coalition government; meanwhile, the country’s official rate of inflation has topped 11m%, with the unofficial rate put at more than 531 billion%. The president of Sudan, Africa’s largest country, has officially been accused of genocide and war crimes by the International Criminal Court. In Somalia, the tragedy of a lawless and ungoverned country only gets worse. Even in South Africa, the continent’s biggest economy, political uncertainty has set in after the ousting of the former president, Thabo Mbeki, in a bitter political feud.
Yet all this has been accompanied by a steady drumbeat of optimism about the continent, and confidence in its prospects. Despite the litany of problems, the 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa (hereafter referred to as plain Africa) are, by several measures, enjoying a period of unparalleled economic success. And despite the turmoil in the world’s financial markets, international investors still think they can make money there.
In 1990-94 annual GDP growth was a weak 0.9%; since then, growth has averaged closer to 5% (see chart 1). Before this autumn’s financial meltdown, the IMF was predicting GDP growth of 6.6% this year; now it is predicting only a slightly lower rate. Annual GDP growth per person was 1.1% in the late 1990s; from 2004 to 2006 it was around 4%. In 1990 47% of Africans lived in poverty; in 2004 41% did and, if present trends continue, only 37% will by 2015. Zimbabwe apart, most African countries have been bringing inflation down, even if the trend is now creeping up again, in line with the rest of the world.
Through its activities PharmAccess contributes to the building of sustainable integrated health systems with upgraded hospitals and clinics, well-trained African doctors and nurses, sufficient beds, reliable diagnostics, an accountable financial and administrative organization and improved access to quality basic health care.
Established in 1999, Cordiant is a pre-eminent fund manager of emerging market, private sector investments. With USD1.4 billion in subscriptions since inception and a solid record, the firm counts a number of the world's top institutional investors amongst its clients.
Drawn from around the globe and with over 150 years of collective experience, Cordiant's investment professionals manage top quality private equity and debt deals throughout the emerging and high growth markets. Adept at filtering deal flow, quantifying risk and navigating the challenges inherent in these markets, the Cordiant team is able to provide institutional investors with efficiently managed and cost effective access to emerging market assets.
Research ICT Africa! is hosted by the Edge Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa. RIA! is divided into three regions-Southern Africa, East Africa and West Africa regions. The manager for the West African region is Dr Olivier Nana Nzepa while Dr Lishan Adam is the East Africa regional manager. The North Africa region is in the final stages of being set up. Professor Alison Gillwald is Research ICT Africa! Director.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Too many times we think technology can just fix a problem. Ethan Zuckerman offers a great post of how he sees innovation come from constraints. This post actually reminds me of a book I read in business school called, "The Goal". The goal is operational book about the theory of constraints.
So I offered a talk about some very different types of innovation - African innovations including the zeer pot, William Kamkwamba’s windmill, biomass charcoal, and endless examples of innovation using mobile phones. My argument was that innovation often comes from unusual and difficult circumstances - constraints - and that it’s often wiser to look for innovation in places where people are trying to solve difficult, concrete problems rather than where smart people are sketching ideas on blank canvases.
I offered seven rules that appear to help explain how (some) developing world innovation proceeds:
- innovation (often) comes from constraint (If you’ve got very few resources, you’re forced to be very creative in using and reusing them.)
- don’t fight culture (If people cook by stirring their stews, they’re not going to use a solar oven, no matter what you do to market it. Make them a better stove instead.)
- embrace market mechanisms (Giving stuff away rarely works as well as selling it.)
- innovate on existing platforms (We’ve got bicycles and mobile phones in Africa, plus lots of metal to weld. Innovate using that stuff, rather than bringing in completely new tech.)
- problems are not always obvious from afar (You really have to live for a while in a society where no one has currency larger than a $1 bill to understand the importance of money via mobile phones.)
- what you have matters more than what you lack (If you’ve got a bicycle, consider what you can build based on that, rather than worrying about not having a car, a truck, a metal shop.)
- infrastructure can beget infrastructure (By building mobile phone infrastructure, we may be building power infrastructure for Africa - see my writings on incremental infrastructure.)
Thursday, October 9, 2008
eTranzact is the first online real-time payment system that allows account holders to pay for goods and services purchased from merchants, transfer funds to any bank account, cell phone, any card, pay bills, order products e.t.c without stress.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Mobile technology, including everything from inventive applications for smart phones to simple text messaging, is increasingly ubiquitous in the developing world. USAID challenges you to explore its potential through an innovation for maximum development impact in areas such as health, banking,education, agricultural trade, or other pressing development issues.
An Open Source Competition
For the next two months, innovators can submit project ideas or comment on submissions. Once the submission process closes, an online community vote will select the top fifteen projects. Those projects will then go in front of a panel of USAID-selected judges who will pick the winner and two runners-up.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Great article on Herman and his new service called BSL, a hybrid of Paypal and Amazon.com. Herman is well-known for co-founding Softtribe, Ghana's 1st software house. For those that don't know Herman, he is a story teller and a character to boot. He is a funny and passionate man, that sees potential in sectors many would consider mundane.