Africa In Focus

Africa In Focus: "The mainstream thinking now is that Africa is different and we could get it right if we want. The choice is fully ours, and it is now time for us to define what we want."

African Development Bank (AFDB) President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

7 things you Need To know About The #Ebola Virus

Photo: Stay Healthy people! 
7 Things You Need To know About The #Ebola Virus: 

The West Africa Ebola outbreak is now the largest in history. 

Symptoms of Ebola is similar to that of malaria typhoid fever or cholera but in the last stage of the disease, victims starts begin internally and externally, often through the nose .

The Ebola virus is not airborne. It spreads through body fluid.

The deadly disease has killed at least 672 in several African countries since the outbreak of the disease in February. 

A total of 1,201 cases had been reported as of last week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. 

While the death rate of Ebola is as high as 90 percent, health officials in the three countries say people have recovered from the virus and the current death rate is about 70 percent.

Yes! some people have survived Ebola. Those who fared best sought immediate medical attention and got supportive care to prevent dehydration even though there is no specific treatment for Ebola itself.

Stay Healthy people! 

The West Africa Ebola outbreak is now the largest in history. 

Symptoms of Ebola is similar to that of malaria typhoid fever or cholera but in the last stage of the disease, victims starts begin internally and externally, often through the nose .

The Ebola virus is not airborne. It spreads through body fluid.

The deadly disease has killed at least 672 in several African countries since the outbreak of the disease in February.

A total of 1,201 cases had been reported as of last week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

While the death rate of Ebola is as high as 90 percent, health officials in the three countries say people have recovered from the virus and the current death rate is about 70 percent.

Yes! some people have survived Ebola. Those who fared best sought immediate medical attention and got supportive care to prevent dehydration even though there is no specific treatment for Ebola itself.

JUMIA Expands Operations In Uganda, Enters Ghana And Cameroon

 Africa e-retail giant, Jumia is expanding its reach into three new markets - Uganda, Ghana and Cameroon- after successfully launching in 5 key African markets in the past two years.

5 months ago, Jumia had set up a local office in Kampala, Uganda that relied on deliveries from Kenya. The move to launch in Uganda will now see it revamp the office to a full fledge subsidiary with its own warehouse like other businesses across the continent.

Its Ghana and Cameroon offices will be open in the coming weeks.

When successfully launched, Jumia’s business will be live in 8 African nations.

Jumia co-founder Sacha Poignonnec told Reuters in an interview that although these markets are not altogether internet savvy compared to other African nations; he says there is a huge appetite for the service.

According to global consulting firm McKinsey, 16 percent of sub-Saharan Africans (about 160 million people) are connected to the Internet, compared with nearly 75 percent in Europe and 32 percent in Asia.

However it says an increase in the use of Smartphone which rides on the surge of mobile Internet access would help African e-commerce sales grow to about $75 billion by 2025.

In Nigeria for example, more than 50 million of its 170 million people are connected to the internet with majority of this number have more than one mobile phones.

Jumia will ride on the popularity of its two largest investors –MTN and Millicom (owner of Tigo) which are leading telecommunication service providers in the new markets. Together, the telecommunications operators have more than 250 million subscribers in Africa.

The online retailer which has more than 1,500 employees at it reach intends to create a team of about 30 people in each country that will be responsible for customer service, packing, dispatch and delivery.

Jumia is Africa's leading online e-retailer that offers variety of goods including electronics, home appliances, mobile devices and beauty products from its local warehouses. It is owned by the Africa Internet Holding (AIH) which owns seven other online businesses in Africa including Hellofood, Javago and EasyTaxi.

Friday, 25 July 2014

What Does It Take To Do Business Successfully In #Africa? ,Expert Speaks

Ahead of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) set to hold in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, on 29th Sept – 1st Oct this year; the AHIF organiser, Bench Events conducted a research to find out the principle for doing business successfully in Africa.

The main findings were that African markets are progressively being seen as open for business and regardless of perceptions of eminent risk, the continent is not considerably different from others. Yet the continent's complexity and rich diversity point to the need for flexibility when it comes to business strategy.

Three main factors considered most likely to distinguish success from failure when doing business in Africa are:

 1) Appreciation that every country in Africa is unique: Several executives agreed that it is vital to remember that every country in Africa is unique, and in order to do business successfully, every single country needs to be understood in its entirety.
Kofi Adomakoh, Head of Project Finance and Export Development, African Export Import Bank, recently said: "The time has come for everyone doing business in Africa to take time to understand all of Africa and not just view it as one block".
Michael Cooper, Vice President Development Sub Saharan Africa, Hilton Worldwide agreed and commented that investors should "remember that Africa is not one country." On the major issues, it is necessary for the industry as a whole to talk to each government. "Collectively we must continue to put pressure on all African governments for open skies and visa free travel," he added.

2) The importance of receiving support from local experts: There was a strong consensus that appreciating local players, receiving support from local experts and building strong local partnerships are critical for business success in Africa.
Kevin Underwood, Global Leader of Leisure and Culture, Aecom, stated: "Any development project must have a local sequence and one must understand the culture of the African countries. There are no shortcuts."
Filippo Sona, Director, Head of Hotels (MENA Region), Colliers International, agreed and advised "Contact local companies and get local expertise to develop in Africa. Use local resources."
Al-Karim Hamir, Chairman & Managing Director, Prime Assets also concurred: "You definitely have to have a local partner to learn and climb the ladder." To be successful, it is also necessary to identify, nurture and retain talented and committed local staff.
 Andrew McLachlan, Vice President, Business Development, Africa & Indian Ocean Islands, The Rezidor Hotel Group, commented: "Having local feet on the ground is essential and creating teams of excellence is important - the stronger your professional team is the better. Like a strong football team – you need to pick the best in every role".

3) Placing a high value on relationships: This has to do with the importance of collaborating with various organisations.
Lourie Kruger, VP M&A and Treasury, Kingdom Hotel Investments said: "The only way to grow your business effectively is to have really strong relationships. When you don't have the infrastructure like you do in other markets, those relationships make everything much more efficient."
 Klaus Lengefeld, Sector Leader Tourism, GIZ, agreed and said: "Sit together. Many organisations are investing a lot into sustainable development but do not work together with the hotel investment world".

Other general success factors that emerged from the study included: invest in people, focus on positives, be patient and persistent, have realistic expectations and be prepared for any hidden costs or surprises. Also, experienced foreign investors repeatedly note that nowhere else is there such a direct correlation between careful planning (and flexibility about plans once formed) and a successful outcome.

Friday, 18 July 2014

HAPPYNigeria Calls For Speedy Resolution To Industrial Disputes In Nigerian Health Sector


Health Advocacy Promotion and Partnership by Youths in Nigeria (HAPPYNigeria), a national youth-led, not-for–profit NGO has called for a speedy resolution of industrial disputes by various professional unions in the Nigerian public health sector.

It described the present problem in the Nigerian health sector as a serious concern for well meaning Nigerians and an ugly situation that must have led to the loss of numerous innocent lives.

According to media reports, doctors under the aegis of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) downed tools following an alleged inability of government to accede to various demands contained in their 24-request protest letter.

As a result of this, health facilities across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory are deserted with only skeletal services being rendered by few consultants and other health workers.

“The effects of the ongoing nationwide strike action by the doctors, commenced 1st July 2014, are monumental and devastating. Many sick children and pregnant women who require urgent attention by the doctors are being denied. All over the country, thousands of surgical cases that require surgical operation have been put on hold with dire consequences,” HAPPYNigeria said in a public statement signed by its Executive Director, DR. Femi Akinwumi.

While calling on the NMA to sheathe its sword in the overall interest of their patients and the downtrodden, HAPPYNigeria urged relevant government agencies to intervene with a view to finding lasting solution to the impasse.

It implored government at all levels to be proactive in addressing industrial disharmony in heath and allied sectors in order to avert these incessant strike actions being embarked upon by doctors and other health workers and its attendant loss of human lives and economic misfortune.

The youth-led initiative also enjoined government to, as a matter of national top priority, convoke a National Health Stakeholders’Summit (or any other name government may choose to call it) to discuss and come up with workable solutions to the lingering inter-professional conflicts and poor funding facing the country’s health system.

This, it says will go a long way to restore dignity and confidence of Nigerians in the country’s health system.

Established in 2006, HAPPYNigeria inspires the Nigerian youth to continuously challenge and expand the role of both the individual and institutions in addressing Nigeria’s Health and developmental needs in order to foster public health care quality improvement.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Nigerian Startups Rules DEMO Africa 2014 Final 40 List


DEMO Africa has announced the final 40 startups that will launch their product on the DEMO Africa stage in September 2014 at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos in September this year.

14 of the finalists are from Nigeria while Kenya, Ghana and Egypt also have a sizable number of representatives of the list.

The finalists were chosen from the more than 400 applications received by the organisers of the DEMO Africa event under 14 categories which includes: namely Agriculture, Health, Education, Manufacturing, Retail, Media and Entertainment, Communication, Transport and Logistics, Energy, Finance and Banking, Water and Sanitation, Waste Management and Recycling.

DEMO Africa Executive Producer, Harry Hare says “The high number of entries is inspiring. It only shows that entrepreneurs have risen above the fear of venturing into new waters to create new products. This in itself shows that confidence levels in Africa made solutions are steadily rising.”

Without further ado , here are the list of the final 40 for DEMO Africa 2014:

Prepclass –  an education technology company that uses the latest web technologies to ensure that relevant local content such as past questions, class notes, flashcards are available to students on their digital devices. (Nigeria)

SmartPesa –  Allows merchants to accept credit card payments using a mobile phone. Comprising a low cost card reader, App and server-side processing. (South Africa)

Shamba Technologies —  Design domestic power products for the 115 million families in Africa without power. (Tanzania)

Cube – Cube enables anyone (whether individual or business entity) to accept card payments in person with their existing phone (even a basic phone), anywhere, anytime, real-time without the internet (and can also work with Internet, if preferred). (Nigeria)

LocName – A web and mobile application that enables people to find businesses easily using their LocNames. (Egypt)

TrafficBytes – An end-to-end solution allows mobile operators and telecom vendors to leverage existing big data and provide realtime accurate roads traffic information. (Egypt)

Oradian – The cloud based core banking system for microfinance. (Nigeria)

MyeCampus — An online teaching and learning platform. (Ghana)

Nerve –  Delivers cost-effective, higher quality & mobile convergent smart devices & services to inspire greater productivity in next billion people in emerging nations. (Nigeria)

Mergims – An online platform that will enable African immigrants, around the world, to pay tuition fees, airtime and utility bills for their loved ones back home. (Rwanda)

Kitiwa – Kitiwa helps ordinary Africans send and receive money, cheaply, instantly, using the bitcoin technology. (Ghana)

SokoNect – An agribusiness solution designed to shorten the distribution channels of agricultural produce while facilitating fast trade between farmers and their prospective buyers. (Kenya)

IroFit – A developed mobile card payment system. (Nigeria)

NiKweli – A mobile-to-web job matching platform that connects employers and job seekers for lower skill, “blue collar” type positions. Job seekers register their standardized mini-CV through SMS. (Tanzania)

MobileJobs (mjobs) powered by SOMTEC — A web and mobile job alert and recruitment services that allows job seekers to get information about job vacancies and helps employers to get the right candidate immediately. (Ethiopia)

Online Hisab —  A cloud-based accounting package for Ethiopian SMEs, who are looking for an affordable and easy to use accounting solution. (Ethiopia)

PieRide –  A ridesharing technology platform offering monthly subscription transportation service for daily commuters. (Egypt)

What’sIn – Mobile application platform service allows consumers with chemical allergies to instantly find the correct information when they scan a product UPC. (Tunisia)

Foodstantly – An online marketplace which provides customers with fresh and cooked food and also offers home delivery services. (Nigeria)

Telecosys – Delivers innovative software solutions for Tech-based service providers including Telecom operators, Internet Service Providers, Cloud-based service providers, and pay TV. (Egypt)

The Pearl Dream Inc. — Digital Collection of African Stories for Kids and eCommerce retail site for animation inspired items. (Kenya)

InstaCare – Makes access to healthcare services as easy as visiting ATM by enabling real-time verification & authentication of beneficiary’s health insurance subscription and, reconciliation/settlement of bills & invoices between HMOs & healthcare providers. (Nigeria)

Hutbay – A platform that helps real estate consumers find and share vital information about real estate, mortgages and connect with real estate professionals in Nigeria. (Nigeria)

VOTO Mobile — A mobile phone notification and survey platform removes the barriers to insightful mobile communication between citizens worldwide and the organizations that serve them. (Ghana)

ASiM – An integrated tool with Quickbooks and SAP Business One to produce rich, real-time business intelligence. (Kenya)

Feedbackplus – Feedbackplus lets customers give feedback to different organizations online or through a mobile app either on the spot as each event is taking place or later at each customer’s convenience. (Nigeria)

SpacePointe – An e-commerce marketplace which focuses on the African retailer. (Nigeria)

VIGO –  A fully responsive website building tool allowing African entrepreneurs and business owners to create their own beautiful websites from any device, including a feature phone. (South Africa)

Valuraha Group —  A platform that simulates the African Financial Markets enabling one to interact with various investment instruments, under actual market conditions, using virtual money. (Kenya)

Cribpark –  A platform that provides people with all the information about housing, catalogue of home designs to choose from, shop to buy their housing items and a project section to offer design and construction project management services. (Nigeria)

Saisai –  A wireless mesh network consisting of free access wireless hot-spots in public areas and public transportation. (Zimbabwe)

Chura – Allows interoperability between different mobile networks in a multi-SIM environment. (Kenya)

Matibabu – A Phone Application for early, non-invasive malaria diagnosis with a custom piece of hardware (Matiscope). (Uganda)

Paysail – A simple way for businesses and accountants to better manage payroll. (Ghana)

Integrated Medics — A web based application package to computerize any large scale hospital, while putting into consideration the complexities involved in the medical industry. (Nigeria)

Connect Finance —  A software which allows companies to track their finances, create invoices, quotations, sales orders, way bills, payments etc. (Nigeria)

MuZik –  A virtual assistant which makes mobile phone subscriber’s life more eaier, by providing the right music or information , automatically grabbed on Internet, for feature mobile phone. (Cameroon)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Empowering Young Africans

An African proverb says “a child that we refuse to build today will end up selling the house that we may build tomorrow.”

The moral of this is clear. Unless we invest in our children and young people today, they might become a threat or a burden in the future.

As the international community commemorates World Population Day on July 11, Africa’s growing youth population should be recognised as a ‘powerful force for change’ that requires greater investment today.

Judging by the current challenges confronting young people, the extent to which African countries are investing in the youth is unclear.

More young people

According to the Africa Regional Review for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) the continent is experiencing substantial demographic shifts, which have seen about 21 million persons a year being added to the population since 1994.

Africa has the youngest population and will remain so for decades in a rapidly ageing world. 

By 2050 “the median age for Africa will increase to 25, while the average for the world as a whole will climb to about 38”.

The fertility rate on the continent is decreasing gradually and the new generation of young people will probably have fewer children than their parents. This demographic shift will also mean fewer elderly people and children to support than previous generations.

Undoubtedly, demography will greatly shape Africa’s position in the global markets for labour, trade and capital.

The phenomenon is what economists call a ‘demographic dividend’, which they argue is a one-time window of opportunity to create wealth and economic growth.


The Future They Want

But failure to invest in this demographic also comes with its own challenges.
Maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS are the two main causes of death among young women aged 15 to 24 years in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nearly everywhere, adolescents are inhibited from freely exercising their right to, for example, comprehensive sexuality education, contraceptives and sexual and reproductive health services.

In many African counties, more than 40 per cent of young women aged 20 to 24 were married by age 18. Also in the countries with high child marriage rates – Niger, Mali, CAR, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Madagascar, Uganda, Senegal, Malawi, Cameroon and Libya – many girls are married off by age 15.

That is why investment in Africa’s youthful population from multiple angles, and primarily from the public and private sectors, is essential for realising the demographic dividend.

In his message for the World Population Day commemoration, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehim says “we know that healthy, educated, productive and fully engaged young people can help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and are more resilient in the face of individual and societal challenges”

Africa’s largely youthful population makes up the next generation of workers, parents, and leaders and their challenges can no longer be ignored. Getting the best from the increased youth bulge in Africa can only be assured when appropriate health and development plans, policies and programmes are put in place and adequately implemented.

This piece was written by Adebayo Fayoyin, the Regional Communications Advisor for the UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office.

2014 World Population Day: World Cities Will Be Home To Two-thirds of Global Population By 2050

A United Nations report released ahead of the 2014 world population day says two-thirds of the world's 7 billion people will live in urban areas by 2050, an increase of 2.5 billion, and at least 40 megacities will have a population of at least 10 million.

That proportion is expected to jump, so that more than six billion people will be city dwellers by 2045 while More than 10 million inhabitants will occupy Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Mexico City and Sao Paulo by 2050.

Indeed, urbanization, combined with overall population growth, will boost the number of people in cities by 2.5 billion over the next three decades, with much of that growth in developing countries, especially in Africa.

India, China and Nigeria will make up 37 percent of the projected growth in the next three decades, with India adding 404 million city residents, China 292 million, and Nigeria 212 million, by 2050.

The key challenge for these countries will be meeting the needs of their growing urban population with basic services like education, health care, housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy and employment.

"Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century," said John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division in the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

According to the United Nations, the trend will pose infrastructure challenges for Africa and Asia, where 90 percent of the urban population growth is expected, the U.N' s World Urbanization Prospects report said, noting Africa and Asia will face numerous challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including for housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy and employment, as well as for basic services such as education and healthcare.

The world's rural population, now 3.4 billion people, will decline as urbanization increases, the report says.

Millicom Launches Mobile Education Service "EduMe" In Rwanda

Millicom, the international telecommunications and media company dedicated to emerging markets in Latin America and Africa has launched of its EduMe English service, a low-cost mobile English language learning course that is available exclusively to Tigo’s customers in Rwanda by subscription or on demand.

EduMe English is a new and unique way to learn English on any mobile phone, offering the student the opportunity to decide when and where to learn. EduMe English is the first product to be launched by EduMe, Millicom’s global educational service using mobile and internet technology to provide access to high quality education in Africa and Latin America.

Following the launch of EduMe English in Rwanda, EduMe English is due to launch in El Salvador and Tanzania in the coming months.

Additionally, EduMe Tutor, a phone- and Skype-based English language tutoring service, has been launched in beta mode in El Salvador with a live service following shortly.

EduMe will also launch an entrepreneurship course under its EduMe Business School brand to Tigo subscribers in Tanzania during the third quarter of 2014. The course is developed in co-operation with GSMA, the worldwide mobile industry body and will mark the introduction of the first purely mobile vocational business school in Africa.

EduMe English is developed by international experts in language learning and follows the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), the globally-accepted framework for language learning.

EduMe English combines listening, reading and speaking training through text lessons, quizzes and audio sessions where students select courses that gradually increase in difficulty. 

These combine high quality content recorded by native English speakers with instructions in Kinyarwanda, the local language spoken by many Rwandans.

As the official language of Rwanda since 2009 and extensively used in business and education, there is considerable demand for accessible language tuition.

A launch event has already taken place in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, this week attended by the country’s Education Minister, Honourable Mathias Harebamungu, and Youth ICT Minister Honourable Jean Philbert Nsengimana.

Hans-Holger Albrecht, Millicom CEO and President commented “We are very excited to offer millions of people in Africa and Latin America the chance to educate themselves with the help of mobile- and internet technology. We are starting by offering English language training as this is a language that gives people more opportunities and connects people across the world. EduMe English is a groundbreaking new product where people can learn English anytime anywhere. Millicom is all about promoting a digital lifestyle and transforming lives: education is integral to this.”

Monday, 7 July 2014

Financial Investment And Commercialization of Family Farming Will Boost Agribusiness In Africa

Recently, I interviewed Grace Wanene, the co-founder of Agrinovations Enterprises, an agribusiness company in Kenya.  

Grace shared her view on how agriculture can be revitalized as a catalyst for growth in Africa and she say financial investment in agribusiness companies and commercialization of family farming for instance through producer groups will sustain agribusiness growth in Africa.


How flourishing is agribusiness in Kenya?
Agribusiness, as it relates to seed, fertilizers and agrochemicals, flourishing in Kenya. This is evident due to the large number of companies trading in seed and agrochemicals as well as the large number of new entrants into the field.
Companies that deal in agricultural technologies, especially greenhouse and irrigation technologies are also flourishing. There are several new entrants into this field as well.

The growth of agribusiness in your country: is it mainly through the government or private individual? 
Kenya’s growth in agribusiness has been fuelled mainly by private companies. Some government owned agribusiness companies such as the Kenya Meat Commision and New Kenya Co-operative Creameries Ltd are expected to be privatized soon.
For a list of government owned agribusiness companies see

With particular reference Kenya, what do you perceive as the challenges facing agri-business in Africa and what are those unexploited agribusiness opportunities in your country?
Agribusiness opportunities in Kenya, especially those relating to agro-processing, haven’t been fully exploited. There are two reasons for this. First, most of Kenya’s farmers are small holder farmers and they usually cannot meet the demand for raw materials for processing industries. Therefore, the few processing companies who have succeeded in this area often have to enter into some kind of contract farming agreement with the farmers. Secondly setting agricultural up an agricultural processing plant is also rather costly.
Another unexploited opportunity is in produce aggregation. There are several companies who aggregate produce for export but few who do it for processing companies.

What is needed as a catalyst to sustain agribusiness growth in Africa and your country region (East Africa) in particular?
I will say financial investment in agribusiness companies and commercialization of family farming for instance through producer groups.

The world is going through a boom time in Agriculture. Why must Africa not be left out of this race? Why should African countries and investors focus more on agriculture entrepreneurship?
African countries should focus on agriculture entrepreneurship because subsistence and non-commercial agriculture hasn’t worked out so well so far. While the continent has a large amount of unused arable land (60%) it still has the lowest agricultural output. It is therefore more important than ever to commercialize small scale farming.
The agriculture sector has the biggest potential for growth due to the continent’s growing population and urbanization which will undoubtedly create more demand for food.
Most of those in agribusiness today are small scale farmers and much is needed for their effort to make their business more productive. What is the role of infrastructural facility in agricultural development? And what other things are needed to make agribusiness more vibrant in African nation’s economy?
Infrastructural development helps to increase farmer’s access to processors and markets. This way, the country is able to produce value added products which in turn fetch a better price.
In addition to infrastructural development, governments and private companies need to invest more in agribusiness.

By 2050, Africa will have 261 million more youth (age 15to 24) than today. Why is it important for young entrepreneurs to focus on agricultural entrepreneurship?

The continent’s growing population will only create more demand for food. Africa’s youth population could become an invaluable labor force for the agricultural sector. Young entrepreneurs should focus on agricultural entrepreneurship because no other industry has as much potential for growth and job creation as the agriculture industry.