4 December 2009

Spark Africa: Making profit from waste in Ghana

Waste is an enormous problem in Ghana. In this video we see how a Dutch-Ghanaian company and an artist are turning plastic waste into new products and make profit.
News about Africa is very often filled with stereotyped images of famine, war and disease. But there is also another side to the continent. Fast-growing economies and investment opportunities. The Dutch production company Interactive Africa focuses its lens precisely on the innovative side of Africa with its online video reports Spark Africa.

Spark Africa is about innovative developments you hear little about. All the items are produced by African journalists and cameramen which creates a different dynamics compared to when a white European crew is used.

9 November 2009

Report forecasts more mobile competition in Africa

By Andualem Sisay in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

There will be more competition in mobile markets across Africa while many mobile operators will be vulnerable to acquisition over the next five years, forecasts a new report.

Even though many late entrants struggle to establish a sustainable business where three or more networks are already in operation, the mobile market growth continues in the regions as new licenses will be made in Africa, according to the report prepared by Pyramid Research.

The average number of operators per country has increased from 2.68 to 3.73 between 2005 and 2009, and some markets have seen even more dramatic increases. In Tanzania, for instance, Dovetel in June 2009 became the seventh mobile carrier that is operational in the country; an eighth may appear during 2010.

Africa falling behind in broadband access

Andualem Sisay, Addia Ababa, Ethiopia

While mobile penetration has grown in Africa more than in any other region in the world, broadband internet connection is getting worse, jeopardizing its development, says a new UN report launched on the 22nd of October.

To make things worse, there is also a "broadband price divide"- the cost of using fixed broadband tends to be the highest in low-income countries, says the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's (UNCTAD's) publication entitled, 'Information Economy Report 2009'.

Most African nations are failing to keep up with global trends in the use of broadband internet, which is critical for meeting many economic and social development objectives.

Of the 20 countries with the world's most expensive broadband access fees, 14 are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Even within Africa, the price gap is huge. While monthly access to broadband services cost on average more than 1,300 USD in Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic and Swaziland, subscribers need to pay less than 13 USD in Egypt and Tunisia. The reason for poor broadband connectivity in Africa is partly due to the lack of fixed telecommunications infrastructure, according to the report.

Africa Finance & Investment Forum 2009

n collaboration with EMRC the Africa Finance & Investment Forum 2009 will be held in December.
13-15 December - Amsterdam, Netherlands
AMRO Congress Center, Amsterdam

This event will feature:
- matchmaking service that will allow delegates with shared interests to network in One-on-One business meetings.
- Between 250-300 professionals expected from Africa, Europe, America and Asia.
- The EMRC Project Incubator Award for innovative African projects will be presented on Monday evening, 14th of December.

KLM Club Africa members receive a € 250 reduction on participation fee!

22 September 2009

Ethiopia to Build Africa International Trade Centre

Construction of a modern multi-million Africa International Trade Centre is under way in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.
The trade centre to be called Addis Africa International Trade Centre will be the first of its kind in Africa and will among other things enhance business and economic interaction among Africans.
Trade centre project manager Ayalew Abey disclosed in Addis Ababa that the project which is owned by the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (AACCSA) will cost about US$23million.
Mr Abey said the project is unique because it will see the birth of a trade centre which will bring together all African countries and provide an opportunity for them to sell their products particularly exports to the rest of the continent.
Construction of the trade centre which will start soon is expected to be accomplished in three distinct phases and estimated to take three years to complete.
Zambia's ambassador to Ethiopia Albert Muchanga has described the project as a positive development to Zambia and Africa as a whole.
Mr Muchanga said Zambia would benefit by ensuring she undertakes regular exhibitions of export products potential to Ethiopia, the rest of Africa and even to the Middle East.

Apart from providing a forum for trade, the centre will also have a training, research and information department which will provide African business people with information on business and investment opportunities on the continent.

The trade centre will be constructed by renowned architectural and engineering talents on an area more than 110,000 square metres in front of Addis Ababa's CMC Diplomatic Village.
The AACCSA recently organised a retreat in Sodere Resort (50km south of Addis Ababa) as part of the consultative process towards the establishment of the centre. The retreat attracted participants from the AACCSA, the city administration and African diplomats based in Addis Ababa.
Fikre Binyam a business executive based in Addis Ababa said the trade centre will enable Ethiopian businesspersons to expand sales for their export products.
"Ethiopian businesspersons and women have had opportunities to participate in trade fairs in different African countries but the trade centre to be constructed in Addis Ababa will help us to sell our products to many African countries," he said.
Mr Binyam said the project should be supported because it will be the first trade centre in Africa to help promote trade and investment on the continent.


UNITED NATIONS, Sep 21 (IPS) - When Barack Obama visits the United Nations on three consecutive days this week - a rare gesture by a U.S. president - he will be addressing delegates on subjects ranging from climate change and peacekeeping to nuclear non-proliferation and the global financial crisis.

But one of his closed-door meetings will be a private lunch with heads of state and heads of government from sub-Saharan Africa.

"In my knowledge and experience," says U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, a former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, the lunch Obama will host "is unprecedented".

"It's an opportunity for him to engage with leaders from African countries on the issues that are frankly most pressing to them: how to deal with the youth bulge and find and generate employment opportunities for their people; how to promote trade and investment; and how to feed those that go without every night," she told reporters last week.

Rev. Gabriel Odima, president of the U.S.-based Africa Centre for Peace and Democracy, says President Obama should not only focus on social and economic issues but also on human rights and good governance.

"For nearly 40 years, democracy and good governance have dodged the continent of Africa and Africans," he told IPS.

As a result, their fundamental rights have been taken away from them by leaders who have come to power by the gun and not the ballot.

These leaders, he pointed out, have used intimidation as means of scaring their citizens from exercising fundamental rights such as freedom of conscience, expression, association, and assembly.

Odima said President Obama should encourage African leaders to move towards a true democratic transition and confront head-on human rights abuses and corruption in countries such as Uganda; the reform process in Kenya; the looming crisis in Sudan; the tragedies in both Somalia and Zimbabwe; and the forgotten war in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Asked about the U.S. role in Somalia, Rice said Washington's goal is to support the peace process, the new transitional federal government,("which is the best hope that Somalia has had for quite some while"), and the African Union peacekeepers that are there very much on the front lines of supporting the nascent government.

"We want to see a Somalia that is stable; that is not serving as - or able to serve as - a safe haven for al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists; that can end the years of humanitarian suffering and move to a responsible government that's able to assert its authority over all of that territory," she said.

Odima told IPS the Security Council adopted Resolution 751 in April 1992 authorising deployment of the military observers in Somalia.

"This marked the beginning of the Somalia tragedy," he said.

The current African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia has no moral authority in bringing peace to Somalia. Both Ugandan and Burundian troops in Somalia have a dark past in their own countries, he added.

Human rights abuse in Africa stands out as a major threat and a challenge to the Obama administration, Odima noted. The spread of AIDS, poverty, corruption, hunger, poor governance, civil wars, poor leadership and mismanagement of resources continue to haunt the continent.

In 1962, he said, U.S. President John F. Kennedy met with several African leaders who had come to attend the U.N. General Assembly sessions in New York and showed a great interest in helping newly independent African countries.

During the same week of the U.N. General Assembly, Kennedy gave a very important speech to the nation that set a road map of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War.

"Today, President Obama has an opportunity to engage African leaders in bringing hope and change to the people of Africa," Odima added.

15 September 2009

DEVELOPMENT-CAMEROON: Microfinance Succeeding Despite Obstacles

GAROUA, Sep 4 (IPS) - Mrs Adjoumi Hamidou is the President. One of three surviving widows of Ali Hamidou, she heads Akoldiningnal, a collective that runs a multi-cereal mill at Gashiga village, 15 kilometres from the capital of Cameroon's North Province, Garoua.

Akoldiningal is a 15-member Common Initiative Group (CIG) which started a cereal mill with a loan of $4,400 from the Programme for the Amelioration of Rural Family Incomes (PARFAR), a five-year joint project by the African Development Bank and the Cameroon government. Akoldiningal today runs three additional mills.

"We don't only offer credit, we ensure that they effectively use the money they borrow. That is why our programme includes literacy training, gender awareness, accounting and much more," reveals Foudama, national coordinator of PARFAR.

"We are all happy today thanks to the loan. It is from this project that I now sponsor seven children in school; from primary to the university level," says Hamidou. In a region where cereals are the staple food, an average of 150 households grind their corn or millet at the mill every day, earning the group about 15,000 CFA (a little under $35); a significant daily intake in a country where 2005 figures from UNDP show 50 percent of the population survive on less than two dollars a day.

Ironically, Hamidou's group, which has fully repaid the initial loan, cannot borrow more money because the microfinance institutions (MFIs) running the credit scheme are sitting on huge sums supposed to be paid back to PARFAR for continuous lending to the community. MFIs are the direct providers of funds to PARFAR's beneficiaries.

"Loan reimbursement rate from the MFI is 45 percent as against 80 percent from the beneficiaries which means that loans cannot continue to flow as we want," complains Yatahad Viche, North Province's chief field officer for the project. The MFIs are accused of failing to deposit the money repaid to them into PARFAR accounts immediately, instead investing it elsewhere.

This situation is compounded by conflicts over issues of sovereignty and protocol and other bureaucratic bottlenecks on the government side. There is also the interference of numerous ministries in the project leading to delays and non-compliance with datelines

"Because of these, the project started almost a year late following the signing of an agreement between the government and ADB. By the time we started receiving the money, its value had already depreciated vis-à-vis the CFA. So you can understand our problems," says Viche. Out of the project's total budget of $3.5 million, little of the government's agreed contribution of 2.8 percent has come in.

Out of a population of over 4.5 million in the project area, women constitute 51 percent of an estimated 3,000 beneficiaries of the project.

Rwanda's President Kagame to Participate at U.S.-Africa Business Summit

Washington, DC — The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) today announced that President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda will be attending the 7th Biennial U.S. – Africa Business Summit: Realizing the Investment Power of Africa, to be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., September 29 – October 1, 2009. "President Kagame's leadership has been instrumental in U.S.-Africa relations," said Stephen Hayes, president and CEO of CCA. "His attendance at the summit sends the message that Rwanda and Africa are primed for American investment."
Currently, 85 percent of all U.S. private sector investment in Africa comes from CCA members, several doing business in Rwanda alone. Increasingly, Rwanda is becoming an attractive option for foreign investment. According to the International Finance Corporation, the ease of doing business in Rwanda has grown by 12 percent over the last two years. President Kagame is committed to building a strong private sector in Rwanda. In his recent Financial Times op-ed, he wrote "Government activities should focus on supporting entrepreneurship…because it unlocks people's minds, fosters innovation and enables people to exercise their talents. Entrepreneurship gives people the feeling that they are valued and have meaning."
Entrepreneurship will be a formidable topic at the summit, throughout various sectors such as infrastructure, natural resources, agribusiness, financing, power, health and tourism. Expected to attract more than 1,500 participants, the summit has a stellar track record of bringing together U.S. and African heads of state, cabinet ministers, Fortune 500 CEO's, and heads of international organizations.

12 September 2009





7 September 2009

Straw admits Lockerbie trade link

Trade and oil played a part in the decision to include the Lockerbie bomber in a prisoner transfer deal, Jack Straw has admitted.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the UK justice secretary said trade was "a very big part" of the 2007 talks that led to the prisoner deal with Libya.

However, Mr Straw's spokesman accused the press of "outrageous" innuendo.

Scotland's Justice Secretary granted Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi compassionate release because he was terminally ill.

£550m oil deal

The 57-year-old was serving life in Greenock prison for the 1988 bombing of PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, which killed 270 people.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted there was "no conspiracy, no cover-up, no double dealing, no deal on oil" over his release.

But officials admit the prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) was part of a wider set of negotiations aimed at bringing Libya in from the international cold, and improving British trade prospects with the country.

"Libya was a rogue state," Mr Straw told the paper.

"We wanted to bring it back into the fold.

The 2009 African Women Leadership Awards, organised by Executive Reach

Lagos — Six distinguished Nigerian women have been honoured in London for their exemplary leadership qualities and community service.

The 2009 African Women Leadership Awards, organised by Executive Reach, was given to Mrs Alanyingi Sylva, wife of the Governor of Bayelsa State; Dr Nechi Ezeako, company secretary of FinBank Plc and Yeye Bolanle Dare, proprietor, Mother Theresa Orphanage and Children's Home, Abuja.

Other awardees include Mrs Seun Olagunju, director of news at Raypower; Dr Nafisatu Muhammad, executive secretary, National Commission for Nomadic Education and Dr Betty Nnadi, proprietor of Home Aid Care Ltd based in U.K.

Two parliamentarians from Uganda - Mrs Ruth Sentamu and Mrs Rebecca Kadaga complete the list of awardees.

A citation read by Esther Austin, mistress of ceremonies at Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, venue of the award and dinner, said those on this year's honours roll "exemplifies visible leadership and strong showing in social responsibilities".

Ms Austin also described the women as "individuals who have provided on unfailing example of the highest level of professionalism, a quiet dignity and bearing, character and integrity".

The awardees, according to the organisers, "have all been known to be consummate team players, bettering any situation through their involvement. Each of the individuals selected are driving development, innovation, growth and providing long term opportunities for the larger society in their various areas of influence".
Specifically, Mrs Alanyingi was recognised for her "exemplary dedication" to women's issues in Nigeria, especially for establishing the Centre for Gender Values and Culture which is dedicated to gender development culture for the protection, promotion, preservation and mainstreaming of women work and values.

Yeye Dare was recognised for "her work as the leader of the widely acclaimed and well-managed, Abuja-based Mother Theresa Orphanages and Children's Home, a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing motherhood and love for the motherless".

This year's African Women in Public Life Excellence Leadership Award attracted more than 500 entries, a 30 per cent increase from last year.

The organisers, Executive Reach, based in U.K. said they are committed to improving the quality of life for all women, babies and families.

Africa: 700 million bednets to help continent sleep better

The East African (Kenya) - September 7, 2009.
Nairobi (Kenya) — Countries affected by malaria in sub Saharan Africa are to benefit from a new campaign involving distribution of 700 million bednets to people living in the region to reduce deaths caused by the disease by 2015.

A number of organisations led by the World Health Organisation have already mobilised $5 billion for the campaign, which will involve setting up more factories to make bednets.

Currently, only factories under a company called A-Z with plants in Tanzania, Nigeria and Ethiopia are making nets for the region.

The campaign is geared at increasing the use of bednets as the most strategic entry point, using politicians, faith-based organisations and the football stars to promote using nets.

A WHO delegation touring Uganda last month said that the most pragmatic solution is bednets, but they would be used in combination with indoors residual spraying and artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).

They envisage full bednets coverage, intensified malaria control initiatives by all African heads of state and communities, and no deaths caused by malaria by 2015.

"Bednets are the most appropriate. With wider dissemination, we shall achieve our goals, but we need everybody to sleep under a bednet. We promise to do our part and so should everybody," said WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan.

With 700 million bednets for endemic countries in sub Saharan Africa, everyone in Uganda (about 30 million people) could get a net.

The campaign will particularly boost Uganda, given that it is among the most affected countries. Malaria causes about 320 deaths in Uganda every day, mostly children under the age of five years.

According to available information, at least 17 million bednets will be distributed in Uganda over one year from December.

According to WHO, 3.3 billion people or nearly half of the world's population are at risk of contracting malaria, a disease that kills about a million people every year in Africa, most of them children under five years and pregnant women.

"Malaria can be brought to its knees. We have raised $5 billion to fully cover almost everybody under bednets, use residual spraying and ensure that all public facilities are fully stocked with ACTs." Ray Chambers, the UN special envoy for malaria said.

The decision to champion bednets ahead of the other two strategies stems from the successful incidence of malaria reduction in Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Eritrea and Zanzibar -- which recorded no malaria deaths thanks to a similar bednets campaign.

National bednet coverage in Tanzania is 50 per cent compared with 90 per cent in Zanzibar and only 40 per cent in Uganda.

But in this campaign, faith-based organisations and football are going to be key in increasing malaria prevention awareness. This has worked in Nigeria.

WHO officials said they expect more firms to take up production of bednets, thus lowering the costs. However, this will be finalised at the upcoming conference under the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), a coalition of African heads of state to promote malaria control, to be held later this month.

27 August 2009

Take a look at my photos on Facebook

Felix Ewane Féfé Ntube
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Take a look at my photos on Facebook

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23 July 2009

End in sight to Aids drug treks?

A week after giving birth to her sixth child, Christine Achan walked 60 km (37 miles) from her village in northern Uganda to get life-saving anti-retroviral drugs to stop her and her baby becoming sick with Aids.

Doctors say it is villagers like her that the results of Africa's largest and longest running clinical test, the Dart trial, should help.

The research suggests that more HIV/Aids patients in Africa could be treated if funds were switched from expensive laboratory testing to local care in villages.

As she waited to see the doctor in the clinic at Patongo, Christine Achan said: "It takes me two days to get here and two days to get back.

"It is very difficult. But I do this because I want to stay healthy so that I can look after my children."
Ms Achan left her eldest child, who is 12, in charge of the others. Her husband died of Aids three months ago, too weak to make the journey.

She called her baby Odongo, which means "child born after the loss of his father".

This was a preventable death. Anti-retroviral drugs are very effective in keeping the HIV virus suppressed and preventing the onset of Aids.

But to get the drugs villagers have to go to Patongo. Part of the reason for this is that the normal monitoring of treatment also requires patients to do routine blood tests to check for side effects and to make sure that the medicines are working.

Technicians come to the Patongo clinic once a fortnight to take blood.

11 July 2009


Good morning. It is an honor for me to be in Accra, and to speak to the representatives of the people of Ghana. I am deeply grateful for the welcome that I’ve received, as are Michelle, Malia, and Sasha Obama. Ghana’s history is rich, the ties between our two countries are strong, and I am proud that this is my first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as President of the United States.

I am speaking to you at the end of a long trip. I began in Russia, for a Summit between two great powers. I traveled to Italy, for a meeting of the world’s leading economies. And I have come here, to Ghana, for a simple reason: the 21st century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Accra as well.

This is the simple truth of a time when the boundaries between people are overwhelmed by our connections. Your prosperity can expand America’s. Your health and security can contribute to the world’s. And the strength of your democracy can help advance human rights for people everywhere.

So I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world – as partners with America on behalf of the future that we want for all our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility, and that is what I want to speak with you about today.

We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.

I say this knowing full well the tragic past that has sometimes haunted this part of the world. I have the blood of Africa within me, and my family’s own story encompasses both the tragedies and triumphs of the larger African story.

My grandfather was a cook for the British in Kenya, and though he was a respected elder in his village, his employers called him “boy” for much of his life. He was on the periphery of Kenya’s liberation struggles, but he was still imprisoned briefly during repressive times. In his life, colonialism wasn’t simply the creation of unnatural borders or unfair terms of trade – it was something experienced personally, day after day, year after year.

My father grew up herding goats in a tiny village, an impossible distance away from the American universities where he would come to get an education. He came of age at an extraordinary moment of promise for Africa. The struggles of his own father’s generation were giving birth to new nations, beginning right here in Ghana. Africans were educating and asserting themselves in new ways. History was on the move.

But despite the progress that has been made – and there has been considerable progress in parts of Africa – we also know that much of that promise has yet to be fulfilled. Countries like Kenya, which had a per capita economy larger than South Korea’s when I was born, have been badly outpaced. Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of the African continent. In many places, the hope of my father’s generation gave way to cynicism, even despair.

It is easy to point fingers, and to pin the blame for these problems on others. Yes, a colonial map that made little sense bred conflict, and the West has often approached Africa as a patron, rather than a partner. But the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants. In my father’s life, it was partly tribalism and patronage in an independent Kenya that for a long stretch derailed his career, and we know that this kind of corruption is a daily fact of life for far too many.

Of course, we also know that is not the whole story. Here in Ghana, you show us a face of Africa that is too often overlooked by a world that sees only tragedy or the need for charity. The people of Ghana have worked hard to put democracy on a firmer footing, with peaceful transfers of power even in the wake of closely contested elections. And with improved governance and an emerging civil society, Ghana’s economy has shown impressive rates of growth.

This progress may lack the drama of the 20th century’s liberation struggles, but make no mistake: it will ultimately be more significant. For just as it is important to emerge from the control of another nation, it is even more important to build one’s own.

So I believe that this moment is just as promising for Ghana – and for Africa – as the moment when my father came of age and new nations were being born. This is a new moment of promise. Only this time, we have learned that it will not be giants like Nkrumah and Kenyatta who will determine Africa’s future. Instead, it will be you – the men and women in Ghana’s Parliament, and the people you represent. Above all, it will be the young people – brimming with talent and energy and hope – who can claim the future that so many in my father’s generation never found.

To realize that promise, we must first recognize a fundamental truth that you have given life to in Ghana: development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That is the change that can unlock Africa’s potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.

As for America and the West, our commitment must be measured by more than just the dollars we spend. I have pledged substantial increases in our foreign assistance, which is in Africa’s interest and America’s. But the true sign of success is not whether we are a source of aid that helps people scrape by – it is whether we are partners in building the capacity for transformational change.

This mutual responsibility must be the foundation of our partnership. And today, I will focus on four areas that are critical to the future of Africa and the entire developing world: democracy; opportunity; health; and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

First, we must support strong and sustainable democratic governments.

As I said in Cairo, each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions. But history offers a clear verdict: governments that respect the will of their own people are more prosperous, more stable, and more successful than governments that do not.

This is about more than holding elections – it’s also about what happens between them. Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.

In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success – strong parliaments and honest police forces; independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in peoples’ lives.

7 July 2009

Reminder about your invitation from felix ntube


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This is a reminder that on June 23, felix ntube sent you an invitation to become part of their professional network at LinkedIn.

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> helpafricafriends.,
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1 July 2009

Religion and Technology Divide

Faith-based groups (meaning the full range of formal and informal religious communities) are among the most active social sector organizations in many parts of the world. If religious orgs are serious about building and enhancing community, why are they so behind in leveraging the latest and greatest technology tools to do so? And if nonprofit and do-gooder techies are serious about social change, why aren't they tapping into some of the largest and most effective community-based organizations out there – which are faith-based? It's a missed opportunity IMHO [Note: social media jargon for In My Humble Opinion].

Fortunately there are some murmurings. A couple of weeks ago, Time magazine ran a story on U.S. churches using Twitter during their regular services. And the online virtual world of Second Life is fertile ground for a whole range of active faith based communities from across the religious spectrum. You may want to check out this Guided Tour of Spirituality in Second Life.

There are a few great postings on Church 2.0 offering an overview of some of the most cutting edge and technology-relevant happenings that involve faith-based communities in the United States. But they are an exception to the rule. Many traditional religious institutions are experiencing a decline in membership among youth - perhaps in part because they don't fully understand how to communicate in a changed world? Take a look at the official website of the Catholic Church, representing one of the largest religions in the world, and you'll know what I mean.

I sense a lot of fear among traditional religious institutions around embracing and leveraging technology change. And the silence is deafening from the technology community on how new tools and technologies can be leveraged to support the rich and important spiritual practices of people all over the world – not to mention to support the incredible social action work of religious communities on the ground.

So in an attempt to walk the talk I am launching a "Technology & Spiritual Practice" program, designed to help faith-based communities make the leap into the brave new world of technology and social media, and to start a dialogue between spiritual leaders and technologists. But we need your help…

24 June 2009

Invitation to connect on LinkedIn



I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

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felix ntube has a LinkedIn profile to connect with colleagues, find experts, and explore new opportunities.

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22 June 2009

Meet the Bill Gates of Ghana

Brash, ambitious, and optimistic, Herman Chinery-Hesse has already accomplished what many considered impossible -- building a thriving tech business in his native Ghana. His new goal: to spark an entrepreneurial revolution in Africa by bringing e-commerce to the most remote corners of the continent.

It's just past midnight, and Herman Chinery-Hesse can't sleep. The 43-year-old entrepreneur is lying on his back, eyes closed, mind cranking.

He's working through the details of a pitch to American and European investors -- many of whom have never backed a company like the one he's proposing. The pitch is absurdly ambitious: a tech company that aims to reshape the business climate for small entrepreneurs in Africa while grabbing a share of the $28 billion that Africans living abroad send home every year. His start-up is a long shot, will cost millions of dollars to execute, and could take five years to get off the ground. In other words, it's not the kind of thing you would expect from a company based in West Africa, a place known for many things -- malaria, civil wars, famine -- but definitely not disruptive technology companies.

But Chinery-Hesse thrives on just this sort of contradiction. He's a technology entrepreneur on a technologically barren continent, an atheist in a deeply religious country, and a capitalist raised amid the excesses of socialism. He also loves an uphill battle -- and this particular battle is just too intriguing to pass up.

I know this because I'm lying in bed next to him. I had come to Accra, the capital of Ghana, to understand what African entrepreneurship looks like, and I had sought out Chinery-Hesse in particular to answer this question: Who in his right mind would sell software in Africa? I had been following him around for a week, a frenetic experience that typically began each day in the late morning and lasted until midnight. I observed Chinery-Hesse make hundreds of phone calls, send thousands of text messages, and smoke a carton of Benson & Hedges cigarettes. And now, I was cowering close to the edge of a king-size bed around midnight, reluctantly conducting an interview.

This is not as weird as it sounds. Business in Africa is much more informal than in the United States. Meetings are not typically pegged to a specific time, and lateness -- even several hours' worth of lateness -- is not considered worthy of reproach. And then there are the sleeping arrangements. In Africa, it is not uncommon for two people of the same sex, when pressed for space, to platonically bunk up. This point had been mentioned to me several days earlier, but it acquired a terrifying immediacy when the tiny hotel where we had intended to stay was booked, and a friend of Chinery-Hesse's offered to let us stay at his place.

Chinery-Hesse is an imposing man. He stands 6 feet tall, has a Tony Soprano -- size gut, and possesses a salesman's mannerisms, including a blistering laugh and a fondness for crass language that belies his upper-crust background. Most of the time, his clap-you-on-the-shoulder pose is endearing. But his size and tendency toward overfamiliarity make him a less than ideal companion in situations -- a bed, say -- in which personal space is scarce.

Still, it's a big bed, and I figure I can simply turn on my side, avoid eye contact, and fall asleep quickly. Chinery-Hesse will have none of it. "We can still chat," he says matter of factly from the other side. "You can still ask me questions."

When you come to Africa, take everything you know about Europe or America and turn it upside down." This advice, given to me by a Ghanaian entrepreneur named Kingsley Awuah-Darko, was meant not as preparation for unfamiliar mores but as a key to understanding business on the African continent. Judge a company in Accra by the standards you would apply to one in Akron, and you're likely to form mistaken impressions and miss opportunities.

16 June 2009

Computer Aid Twitters for charity

Charity Computer Aid International is turning to Twitter today to source used PCs from UK organisations to help equip education and health projects in Africa. Skip related content
Followers of the charity are being encouraged to use Twitter to publicise the drive for 10,000 PCs to be donated in the next four weeks with an initial aim of 1,000 PCs in the first four hours of the online campaign.

Computer Aid professionally refurbishes PCs and laptops in its London workshop and ships them for re-use in schools, hospitals and community organisations in developing countries.

The charity is the most experienced non-profit provider of IT for development, having provided almost 150,000 PCs and laptops to support e-learning, e-health, e-inclusion and e-agriculture projects in more than 100 countries such as Rwanda, Ecuador and Zambia.

We are experiencing an incredible increase in orders of PCs from schools, hospitals, universities and community organisations. We estimate there are thousands of PCs currently collecting dust today in back rooms and store cupboards across the country and we are urging people to take action and get involved in the Computer Aid Twitterthon to help raise awareness of this need and meet the demand, said Computer Aid founder Tony Roberts.

Reusing old PCs is much better for the environment than recycling them down to their component parts and it also provides an invaluable opportunity for disadvantaged schoolchildren who would otherwise have no access to IT in education. We can put a PC on a school desk in Africa within six weeks of receiving the donation and we estimate that one donated PC will deliver at least a further three years use."

To support the Twitterthon campaign, follow Computer Aid at http://www.computeraid.org/twitterthon.htm or visit http://www.computeraid.org/tweet4c harity for more information.

Computing is a long-term partner of Computer Aid and helps to raise funds as well as promote the charitys activities to IT professionals in the UK. A separate campaign currently underway is seeking sponsors for a vital telemedicine project in rural Africa click here for more details

Africa no 1 target for CCCC as $4 bn projects mount up

The chinese offensive in the african continent is on a continuos rising and with the actual state of the world economic tumoil and the prolonged post colonial enslavement to the western world;African countries are more than opening up to this "profitable?"uprising.This picture shows a railway bridge in Nigeria built by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

Africa has now become well-established as the single most important overseas market for the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), China's largest infrastructure development business. In 2008, almost half of the company's $9.6 billion overseas revenue came from projects in Africa.

As of May this year, CCCC had secured 28 projects with a number of African nations, each worth more than $100 million apiece. With two of the deals - one in Angola and one in Libya - worth an estimated $1 billion each, it is small wonder that this is the third year that Africa has topped the list of CCCC's overseas markets.

Speaking of the company's success in Africa, Wang Xiaoguang, general manager of CCCC's overseas business department, says: "CCCC's business in Africa has grown by around 33 percent per annum in recent years. Fortunately, the plans already in place for infrastructure development in many African countries have remained unaffected by the current global financial downturn with much of the funding already in place through Chinese governmental loans."

As part of its commitment to developing its African business base, CCCC is currently drawing up plans to train 30,000 local staff into skilled workers to work on a number of construction projects, primarily in Angola and Libya.

At the beginning of the year, CCCC won a contract from the Libyan government to deliver 5,000 apartment homes. The total value of the project, including foundation construction, is said to be in the region of $1.05 billion.

Africa's sun to power Europe's homes?

BERLIN, June 16 (UPI) -- A group of 20 German companies wants to invest $555 billion in concentrated solar power plants in northern Africa to sell green power to Europe and make the continent less dependent on oil and gas imports.

It would be one of the world's biggest private renewable energy projects: Some 20 German companies are planning to join forces to build CSP plants in northern Africa and transport the electricity to Europe via new, direct current power grids.

The consortium, to be formed by mid-July, includes, among others, economic powerhouse Siemens, finance institution Deutsche Bank and energy giant RWE, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reports. The ambitious green project, dubbed "Desertec," could produce power as early as 2019 and eventually satisfy 15 percent of Europe's electricity demand, Torsten Jeworrek, a Munich Re board member, told the newspaper.

The companies, backed by German government officials and the Club of Rome, plan to invest some $555 billion in the deserts of northern Africa. The money would not only be used for building the CSP plants, but also the gird infrastructure needed to bring the electricity to Europe.

"This is no longer a distant vision but technologically fascinating and also achievable," Jeworrek said in a statement Tuesday. "Desertec is clearly banking on the right incentives in the long term, namely climate protection and a low-carbon energy sector."

5 June 2009

Philanthropy through investing

1.5 million investment in SMEs does not seem much, but when you consider, it creates over 1000 meaningful jobs in sustainable businesses and supports a multiple of family and community members, it certainly makes a difference

images generated by Luxmart

We believe that investing in high growth SMEs in developing countries is economically viable if done right. The higher risk of investing overseas is set off by higher possible returns that investments in new emerging markets bring with them. Managing these investments is complex, but there are innovative ways to do that more efficiently.

Economic reasoning would be enough to consider the above mentioned investments. But besides that these investments have a significant impact on the economic and social development in these countries. 1.5 million investment in SMEs does not seem much, but when you consider, it creates over 1000 meaningful jobs in sustainable businesses and supports a multiple of family and community members, it certainly makes a difference.

Therefore “economic investments” in high growth SMEs can also be seen as “social investments” that might bring a financial return. The Dutch Internal Revenue Service (Belastingdienst) considers these investments as “philanthropy” and they are, therefore, tax deductable when structured right. This means you have about 50% more capital to invest.

29 May 2009

Good news from Africa

While most of the news from Africa seems to center on nations torn apart by violence and mired in poverty, there's a lot of good news to be found as well.

"The Takeaway" talks with former U.S. Ambassador Charles Stith, who describes the current state of many of the countries in Africa: "The continent is on a real growth trajectory at this point. We track 16 countries on the continent, and they are all serious about democratization, they're serious about reforming their economies along free market lines; and though it's only 16 countries out of the 53 in the continent ... over all it's about two-thirds of the population of the continent ... so the good news is the vast majority of folks on the African continent wake up every morning in a country where they can participate and decide in who runs the country ... where the leadership is really trying to reform the economies in a way that they can maximize their opportunities and improve the quality of life for them and their families."

Women's World Banking, Ghana wins award

Women's World Banking, Ghana, (IWWBG) arguably the most innova¬tive microfinance institution in Ghana has won an award at the recent Women's World Banking Global Network and Capital Markets meeting held in New York from April 27 to May 5. The meetings are held every two years to promote interaction and learn¬ing among network...

Welcome to the 2009 Edition of "Challenge Camerounais" in Cologne Back to the Roots

You are welcome to the Challenge Camerounais 2009, the biggest cultural, sportive and economic Event of the Cameroonian Diaspora of Europe. The celebration of this 18th edition will take place from the 29th to the 31st of May in Cologne, the major city of the North Rhine- Westphalia and will hopefully be patroned by H.E Chantal Biya, first Lady of Cameroon and President and founder of CERAC.

About 8000 People are expected in Cologne on the week-end of Pentecost. A festival of culture as a symbol of the diversity of the Cameroonian Culture will presented to the guests. There will be many other sportive activities besides the traditional Football challenge. The Business and Social Forum will be focused on the "agenda of the contractor in Cameroon" and the course of economic relations between Cameroon and Germany. The Gala Evening and the election of Miss Challenge will close the festivities.

13 May 2009

World Cup ticket sales thrive

The second phase of ticket sales for the 2010 World Cup has attracted more than 297,000 applications within a week, according to Fifa.

There are 100,000 tickets on offer in the latest batch, which excludes the two semi-finals and the final.

The tickets will be on sale until November and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

More than 112,600 of the requests so far came from South Africa, world football's governing body said.

Applications can be made either through a South African bank or on Fifa's website.

The demand is matching the popularity of the first phase of ticket sales between 20 February and 31 March, which attracted more than 1.8 million ticket requests.

Nearly 556,000 tickets for that phase were distributed by a random computerised draw last month, 44 percent of them to South Africans.

Fifa also said on Wednesday that 351,121 tickets for the Confederations Cup have been sold, with just over a month to go until the tournament kicks off in South Africa.

A total of 640,000 were available for the event.

Entrepreneurship in Africa

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15 April 2009

Swiss hold '$150m Nigeria bribes'

It is quite clear that we Africas are the real precursors of our poverty and thus the suffering of our own people;and coupled with unscrupolous jackals from the west,the mathematical equation is more than clear to the eyes of everyone.How can people be having the hardest of times during this period of obsterity and we learn to know that most of our leaders and their entourage have "golden" bank accounts in foreign banks,gotten through swindling of public funds or rather all forms of corrupton.Read on...

US investigators have traced $150m in bribes given to Nigerian officials to Swiss banks, Nigeria's justice minister has said.

Michael Kase Aondoakaa said the money was part of $180m in bribes given by US construction company Halliburton to Nigerian officials.

The Nigerian government says it has asked the US to release the names of officials who negotiated the bribes.

Halliburton admitted paying the bribes to top officials between 1994 and 2004.

"We have discovered that $150 million of the bribe money is in Zurich. That is the first shocking discovery. The entire money is $180 million. $150 million is already trapped in Zurich," Mr Aondoakaa said.

Halliburton and its engineering subsidiary Kellogg Brown Root negotiated bribes with "three successive holders of a top-level office in the executive branch of the government of Nigeria" during that time, according to the plea agreement the company made with the US Department of Justice.

The Nigerian government has come under pressure from the media to follow up the findings of the US court and prosecute the Nigerian bribe-takers.

Mr Aondoakaa said they had requested the court unseal the judgement and pass on the names of the officials.

Albert "Jack" Stanley, the former chief executive of KBR who pleaded guilty to making the bribes in order to secure $6bn in contracts, is to be sentenced on 6 May.

KBR has agreed to pay more than $402m in fines, of which Halliburton, as the former parent company, agreed to pay $302m.

Nigeria's Entertainment Industry Best on Continent

pic from "smoke&mirrors"
Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, has said Nigeria is formidable in media and entertainment industry in sub-Sahara Africa, saying that Nigeria has a lot of untapped potentials in the sector.

Professor Akunyili stated this at a book launch titled "Nigerian Media and Entertainment Industry, the next frontier, Making Steady Progress" organized by Fountainhead media Group, noting that very few nations in the world can match the prospects that Nigeria is endowed with.

According to her, "Nigeria a bellwether for the continent remains a formidable market for the media and entertainment industry. With a population of 140 million people, a growing middle class and societal thirst for new information and entertainment, very few countries in Africa and the world can match Nigeria's promise and potentials. However, there are many grounds in my opinion yet to be explored by the industry in Nigeria."

The Minister re_emphasis the need for all Nigerians to support the ongoing re_branding campaign as this will help the nation in achieving is millennium development goals.

"To this end, I therefore, urge all Nigerians, the private and public sector to buy into the national re_branding campaign. The campaign is targeted at changing the negative perception of Nigeria abroad. Through re-branding we must start to believe in our country and its future.

She stressed, "But we cannot change the image of Nigeria without attitudinal change. We as a people, from the leadership to the led must form positive attitudes in both our private and public lives." Akunyili said.

African and Caribbean Finance Ministers Meet Over Meltdown

Washington, DC — The impact of the global economic meltdown on Africa, preventing fresh debt problems and the response of global financial institutions, will dominate talks at a meeting expected to feature the Nigerian Minister of Finance, Dr. Mansur Muhtar, and his counterparts from other African and Caribbean countries next week

The meeting tagged "The Commonwealth Ministerial Debt Sustainability Forum" is organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and will take place at the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C. on April 22, a couple of days before the Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings.

The gathering will afford finance ministers from some 53 countries representing 1.9 billion of the world's population the opportunity to compare notes on how to deal with the global financial turbulence wrecking havoc in developing countries.

Conveners are specifically concerned with the possible resurgence of excessive and unmanageable debt in the face of deteriorating financial conditions worldwide.

Some African countries, including Nigeria had in the past couple of years successfully paid off and managed their debt profile.

Nigeria's external debt as at February 2009 was $3.5 billion, down from $38 billion before 2006 while the domestic debt was N2.3 trillion, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO).

Both domestic and external debt profile constitute 11 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a figure the Director General of Debt Management Office, Abraham Nwankwo, was quoted as saying is under control.

However, the financial crisis is placing immense pressure on nations struggling to meet up with demands.

This has prompted concerns about fresh borrowings in developing countries particularly because it is not certain when the situation will change.

"Debt has for a long time been an issue for most of these countries. We might have thought that this was yesterday's news but now with the economic troubles, there is fear that progress the countries had made in securing debt relief and managing their debt may be lost due to a decline in trade, remittances, investment and aid," stated the head of International Finance and Capital Markets at the Commonwealth, Mr Jonathan Ockenden.

According to Samantha Attridge, an adviser on Global Issues at the Commonwealth, "With governance revenue falling and pressures to increase spending, countries may be under more pressure to borrow to help offset the impact of the crisis and meet the reasonable expectations of their people. as financing conditions deteriorate there is a real risk that countries could get into debt problems."

The ministers will share practical experiences in dealing with the current crisis, debt management and the response of the World Bank and IMF. They will have the opportunity to question the adequacy of the response of the two institutions as well as discuss and propose ways of collaboration.

AFRICA: A Lot More Needed to Make South-South Trade Work

By Annelise Sander

GENEVA, Mar 17 (IPS) - Trade experts are sceptical about the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s renewed emphasis on South-South trade to counter the global economic crisis.

Fostering South-South ‘‘recently much-expanded’’ economic cooperation and trade to soften the impacts of the economic and financial crisis on developing countries was discussed at an expert meeting convened by the United Nations’ Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in February this year in Geneva.

‘‘A global financial crisis has shaken the economic foundations of the North and is threatening to shatter the growth and development aspirations of the South. The timing is right to explore how greater South-South cooperation can help developing countries cope with the crisis,’’ UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told the meeting.

Esperanza Duran, director of the Agency for International Trade Cooperation and Information (AITIC), remarks that, ‘‘every time there is a problem, there is a call for increased Southern trade and cooperation.

‘‘But that will not get us out of this crisis, which is an economic and financial one. The main obstacle is the lack of credit that is essential for export and export guarantees, affecting trade both in the North and in the South.

‘‘Credit is the oil needed to keep the machine functioning. In theory, increased South-South trade could mitigate the effects of the current crisis but in practice, I don’t see how.’’ AITIC is an intergovernmental organisation promoting trade-led growth in developing countries.

Mariarosaria Iorio of the International Gender and Trade Network (IGTN) in Geneva also questions what kind of South-South cooperation UNCTAD is referring to. IGTN is an international network of feminist gender specialists who provide technical information on gender and trade.

‘‘In Africa, trade has meant mainly exports of primary commodities, such as minerals, that increased as the continent fed off the economic boom in China. But for trade to bring real benefits, it should also involve manufactured goods that have an added value.’’

Therefore, in light of the current economic and trade systems, growth of South-South trade would demand a reorientation of local production capacities from mostly primary to manufactured products.

It would also entail a re-balancing of international trade rules and more active participation of Southern partners in global economic decision-making processes, Iorio argues.

Mark Halle of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in Geneva finds South-South cooperation ‘‘a good idea but South-South trade is still limited.

‘‘This is because the principal reason for promoting it tends to be politically motivated - to replace inequitable market relationships between the North and South with fairer ones between Southern countries.’’

The problem, Halle argues, is that the latter is not necessarily fairer: Southern businesspeople also look for profit and trade works everywhere on the basis of the market, not political criteria. ‘‘Where South-South trade has happened, like in India, China, Brazil and South Africa, it was for the usual commercial reasons, not for political ones.’’

IISD is a policy research institute that promotes sustainable development.
Read on...