Malawi opens its first University of Science and Technology (MUST)

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On Friday October 24th 2014, Malawi President Peter Mutharika inaugurated the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), the southern African country’s first university devoted exclusively to science.

The university will offer five-year bachelor’s degree programs in biomedical studies, chemical engineering and metallurgical engineering, as well as a master’s of science innovation program, according to university council chairman Prof. John Saka.

The university, the brainchild of late President Bingu wa Mutharika, will also offer programs in traditional medicine.

It will have four schools: the Malawi Institute of Technology, the Ndata School of Climate and Earth Sciences, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the African School of Science and Culture, the latter of which is still under construction.

Mutharika described the university as a “milestone” in Malawi’s quest to promote education as a means of enhancing macroeconomic growth and development.

“The Malawi government realizes that there is a direct link between international competitiveness and invention on one hand and innovation and technology development on the other,” Mutharika said at the inauguration ceremony.

“In fact, globally, it is recognized that science and technology plays a critical role in transforming the lives of people in society… there is no country in the world that has developed or is rapidly developing without applying the principles and practices of science and technology,” he added.

He said the new university would put great responsibility on the staff and students to prove to the nation that investment in science and technology education can make a difference.

“The industry has a critical role to play if this university is to make a positive mark on the country,” the Malawi leader urged.

Education Minister Emmanuel Fabiano described the new university as an institution that would offer hope for the future and development of Malawi.

“It has taken Malawi 33 years to have a second university. But within a couple of years we have managed to establish another two universities,” said Fabiano.

The new university brings to four the number of the country’s public universities.

“Investment in youth education is the best thing this government can do to make their future bright,” Fabiano said.

China, which has fully funded construction of the university with a loan worth $89 million (roughly 31 billion Malawi kwacha), lauded the friendship between Malawi and China and the great results it had produced.

“Today we see the friendship between Malawi and China has produced results. On behalf of the People’s Republic of China, that people [with whom] our friendship started seven years ago, together we have achieved great things,” Chinese Ambassador Zhang Qinqyang said.

“We expect [Chinese] teachers and scholars to be at the university soon to teach. It is the responsibility of all of us to protect the reputation of this great institution,” the ambassador said.

Source: World Bulletin

Africa’s M-Pesa Mobile Payment Method Debuts in Romania

In a trend reversal, African technology has migrated to Europe with the launch in Romania of Kenya’s popular M-Pesa mobile money transfer system.

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Mobile payments have changed the way many Africans — and the humanitarian community — do business. It remains to be seen, though, whether it will enjoy the same success in Europe.

Meaning “mobile money” in Swahili, M-Pesa is credited with transforming the lives of millions of Africans who have little or no access to conventional banking services. The concept is simple: M-Pesa customers can receive and send money through their mobile phones using simple text messaging technology.

From its debut in Kenya seven years ago, the mobile phone transfer system has since expanded to half a dozen African countries – including in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Telecommunications company Vodafone, which developed the technology, also has introduced it to India and Fiji. Now Vodafone has set its sights on Europe with the rollout of M-Pesa last month in Romania.

European focus

“We chose Romania because there was, and there is still, a large part of the population which doesn’t have a bank account,” said Claire Alexandre, who leads M-Pesa’s Commercial and Strategy team within the Vodafone group. “Only about 50 percent of the population of Romania has a bank account. And the other half is mostly still using cash.”

Alexandre said even Romanians who have bank accounts mostly use them to withdraw their salaries. They then depend on cash transactions for the rest of the month.

That’s a habit Vodafone wants to change. The company says it’s too early to talk about the number of M-Pesa customers there, but it’s clear that Africa — where mobile phone use has exploded — offers a lesson for Europe.

“Looking at how people communicate with each other, how they interact with each other, we realized that people talk to each other, but often they need to send or to receive money from each other,” said Alexandre. “So we’ve expanded that further. So if you look at those basic needs, then there are other markets where those needs haven’t been met either. And we saw that was actually the case in Romania.”

So far, Vodafone hasn’t announced any plans to expand elsewhere in Europe. Experts suggest it might be eyeing other markets, though, in eastern and central Europe. Whether M-Pesa will thrive there, as in Africa, remains to be seen.

Along with ordinary people, the humanitarian community also is adopting M-Pesa technology as a handy way to offer cash assistance to needy communities, including refugees and those hit by disasters. There’s one constant in all these scenarios. Alexandre said markets seem to like the brand name. So wherever it next travels, M-Pesa will keep its moniker and its Swahili roots.

Source: http://www.voanews.com/


 

The Russians are coming: Russia increases its role in African Trade

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) during their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi on August 12, 2014 during the Egyptian leader's first official visit to Russia. (AFP Photo / Alexei Druzhinin)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) during their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi on August 12, 2014 during the Egyptian leader’s first official visit to Russia. (AFP Photo / Alexei Druzhinin)

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Africa is the last frontier.The Continent has been the trade and investment location of choice for all of the BRICS nations several years now. Recently, Russia, a nation that has been largely absent from the scramble for Africa, has reared it’s head and is making moves.

I am certain that this decision was prompted by recent US sanctions against Russia related to the situation in Crimea. In response to those sanctions, Russia suspended imports of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and milk products from the United States, the 28-nation European Union, Norway, Canada and Australia for a year. This will cost these nations more than about $17.5 billion for the duration of the year long ban.

Russia is now stepping up its search for partners to fill this void with suppliers in Latin America and Africa.

According to Russia Times, “Russia held talks on creating a free trade zone with Egypt and countries in East Africa have said they are ready to triple or quadruple trade with Russia.

“African suppliers have declared their readiness to supply Russia with up to 100,000 tons of fruit and vegetables per week, products that before were re-exported to Russia via the European Union,” Elena Nagornaya, president of the Russia-Africa trade alliance, told ITAR-TASS.

African countries are ready to directly export pineapples, bananas, citrus fruits, apples, nuts, avocados, strawberries, as well as ginger to Russia. Negotiations are underway with major Russian grocery chains.”

Egypt said it is ready to boost agricultural deliveries to Russia by 30 percent. The head of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Nikolay Fedorov said this will close half of a possible deficit following Moscow’s ban on the import from some Western countries. In 2013, Egypt’s exports of agricultural products to Russia totaled $440 million, meanwhile in the first half of 2014, they have already supplied $460 million. Trade turnover between the two countries in 2013 amounted to $3 billion and more than doubled in the first half of this year to $2.5 billion from $1.2 billion in the same period of last year, according to ITAR-TASS estimates.

I am optimistic about this opportunity. However, my concerns with Russia in Africa are the same as those with China in Africa. I want the business conducted to be mutually beneficial, not just for the companies involved but for the people of Africa.

Sources:

http://www.rt.com

http://www.eurasiareview.com

Money, Power, Respect and #MIKEBROWN

The recent police shootings of several unarmed black men have sparked several thoughts and questions in my mind. Most revolve around why black people are treated as we are(in the US and abroad) and how to end or drastically reduce the mistreatment and blatant disrespect. I’m so tired of the same old responses to these atrocities. At this point, i’m so jaded that the slogan “No justice, No peace!” make me cringe because it just seems so empty to me. I feel that we need to approach this problem from a different angle.

As a business owner, I tend to look at things from an economic perspective. I started my business and plan to start more because I believe that building wealth for myself and my family is what will empower me and my loved ones.

Black America has been disrespected for too long and needs a plan. A serious long term plan that will permanently remove the race from bottom of the totem pole, second hand citizen status in America. What is one thing that differentiates black people in America from the other ethnic groups that live here? What is the glaring difference between the people who are continuously being abused, mistreated and disrespected versus those who are not? It is ECONOMIC POWER!

In his book, Powernomics, Dr. Claude Anderson writes, “Racism is a wealth and power based competitive relationship between blacks and non Blacks…True racism exists when one group holds a disproportionate share of the wealth and power over another group then uses those resources to marginalize, exploit, exclude and subordinate the weaker group.”

Lets start building wealth. Lets start thinking of how to put ourselves in a position to say, “If you mess with us, we will hit you in many places, including where it hurts you the most, your pocket.”

Photo: Money, Power, Respect and #MIKEBROWN - The Busy African The recent police shootings of several unarmed black men have sparked several thoughts and questions in my mind. Most revolve around why black people are treated as we are(in the US and abroad) and how to end or drastically reduce the mistreatment and blatant disrespect. I'm so tired of the same old responses to these atrocities. At this point, i'm so jaded that the slogan "No justice, No peace!" make me cringe because it just seems so empty to me. I feel that we need to approach this problem from a different angle.  As a business owner, I tend to look at things from an economic perspective. I started my business and plan to start more because I believe that building wealth for myself and my family is what will empower me and my loved ones. In the movie, "Scarface", Tony Montana said "In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power." Black America has been disrespected for too long and needs a plan. A serious long term plan that will permanently remove the race from bottom of the totem pole, second hand citizen status in America. What is one thing that differentiates black people in America from the other ethnic groups that live here? What is the glaring difference between the people who are continuously being abused, mistreated and disrespected versus those who are not? It is ECONOMIC POWER!  In his book, Powernomics, Dr. Claude Anderson writes, "Racism is a wealth and power based competitive relationship between blacks and non Blacks...True racism exists when one group holds a disproportionate share of the wealth and power over another group then uses those resources to marginalize, exploit, exclude and subordinate the weaker group." Right now, the police, those who give them orders, and other exploiters have calculated a worst case scenario. They have asked themselves what is the worst that could happen if they keep doing what they are doing. The answer they get obviously does not seem that bad to them. It is time to start making smart money moves. Lets start building wealth. Lets start thinking of how to put ourselves in a position to say, "If you mess with us, we will hit you in many places, including where it hurts you the most, your pocket." "We gotta make a change...It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes. Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live and let's change the way we treat each other.You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do what we gotta do, to survive. - Tupac Shakur
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Global Ankara Trend: The Colorful Fabric Revolutionizing International Fashion

From the streets of Lagos, to countless boardrooms, to catwalks all over the world, the Ankara fabric has proven to be so versatile that it is now recognized on the global fashion scene. A number of celebrities have been spotted in Ankara ensembles on red carpets globally. To many, the Ankara fabric has become a wardrobe staple already.

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The fabric is used to make a growing number of fashion items; bags, shoes, dresses, jewelry and countless accessories. This development has led to a change in the general perception of the Ankara fabric worldwide. According the article Fashion Reborn: Blends of African outfits from Ankara, by fibre2fashion “Destiny of the ‘once before’ cheap Ankara fabrics, have undergone a magical transformation. Elegant creativity of the designers has made it a preferred choice of the rich and celebrities.” The African print fabric has metamorphosed from cultural attire to a glamorous wardrobe must-have and right now the spotlight is on Africa.

 

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This Ankara trend has impacted the West African economy in a lot of ways and thus, the Nigerian economy. In the mid- 1980s, there were around 180 functional textile mills in Nigeria. The mills employed approximately a million people, this accounted for more than 60 percent of the textile industry capacity in West Africa, empowering millions of households across all geopolitical zones of Nigeria. This however changed shortly as the sector crashed into an industrial abyss. During this period, the number of textile companies dropped from about 180 to almost zero. This was revealed by an article on Nigeria’s textile economy titled: Nigeria’s Textile Industry on a Rebound?.

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However, in recent times, the sector has rebounded. The number of functioning textile companies has risen once more to 25. While the industry may not be at its former place of glory, a steady incline can be noted in the growth of the industry which is largely due to the current global Ankara trend.

The rise in the demand of the fabric which was not too long ago considered to be a fabric for the poor or restricted to cultural festivities due to its brightly colored patterns and relative low cost, has led to a corresponding rise in the production of the material. Also, aside from the lower priced brands, a lot more textile factories have started producing the Ankara fabric in more appealing and sophisticated designs.

Furthermore, due to the ready availability of Ankara in the local market, it has become the preferred choice of fabric when making custom designed outfits. What was once considered to be a local market has grown exponentially to meet the increasing demands for the fabric worldwide. African designers and their Ankara designs are now sought out in all the echelons of the global society. The Ankara fashion industry has proven to be a veritable goldmine in these ways and many more.

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A lot of Ankara fashion shows spring up daily all over the global fashion scene. One of the more noteworthy ones is the annual Ankara Festival hosted yearly in Los Angeles, California. The festival or AFLA as it is commonly known was created in 2010 with the goal of increasing the visibility of African Culture through fashion, Arts, music, dance, and food. The festival aims to showcase Modern African Designs in African Print (Ankara), established African and African inspired designers, young up and coming designers, providing them a venue to showcase their abilities, and develop their entrepreneurial ambition in the international fashion arena. Another notable development is the Ankara Invasion. This has been adopted as the collective name for the current global Ankara trend. Different items fashioned out of the Ankara fabric are now spotted in places where it was once viewed as unsuitable.

As Duro Olowu -a Nigerian fashion designer- said, “For a long time, there was a sense that this was limited to Africa but now it has become global. Combined with an awareness of social responsibility, it makes for a powerful statement.” Countless international designers have launched various new designs revolving around the Ankara fabric. Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Eley Kishimoto, Jean Paul Gaultier, Diane Von Furstenberg, Gwen Stefani, Dries van Noten, Kenzo and Paul Smith among others have included items fashioned out of Ankara fabric in their recent collections.

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A lot of renowned celebrities have also taken to this fashion trend. Beyoncé Knowles, Rihanna, Fergie and Kim Kardashian to name a few, have adopted the Ankara fabric and have been spotted in daring designs using one or more fabrics. The rise on the trend isn’t restricted to celebrities alone. A lot of foreigners who have seen the designs at work, on TV or even at school have joined the movement. It is not uncommon to find people wearing the fabric who may not even know the traditional name. The fabric is commonly referred to in these circles as “African Print”.

The overnight explosion of the use of Ankara fabric on the global fashion scene is perhaps one of the most notable fashion trends to have emerged from Africa over the last couple of years. The Ankara fabric is one that is very versatile and constantly evolving to meet today’s fashion fads. Hence, one may go as far as saying that the fabric and the trend have come to stay on the global fashion market.
beyonce-aliciaSource: Ventures Africa

#AFRICA – Inside the Continent’s New $14bn Social Media Industry

 

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Source: Ventures Africa

“Africa is projected to have the largest working population of any continent by 2020 according to a 2012 report by Euromonitor International. With the steady rise of its middle class and increasing income levels, internet usage across the region will only increase, making it potentially the largest social media growth market in the world. Businesses ought to take note: Africa is trending, and they should definitely follow.”

http://www.ventures-africa.com/2014/06/africa-inside-the-continents-new-14-billion-social-media-industry/

What Africa Needs – Part 2

Here you go! Part 2 of the 5 part series, What Africa needs: Increased Inter- Africa trade.

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According to the Economist, “The bulk of the Africa’s trade is with Europe and America: only 12% is with other African countries, according to research by Ecobank, a Togo-based bank. By comparison 60% of Europe’s trade is with its own continent. The same is true in Asia. In North America the figure is 40%.”

According to Reuters Africa, it costs South African grocer, Shoprite $20,000 a week to secure import permits to distribute goods in one country. As if that isn’t enough, in order to send one of its trucks across the border to neighboring Zambia, 1600 additional documents are required.

An excessive amount of border check points  are yet another problem.  To transport goods from Nigeria to neighboring Ghana, you have to go through about 5 border checks. Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama admits that he is aware of the problem and states that Ghana is working to reduce the number of border posts to just one. In my humble opinion, zero would be better but you have to start somewhere right? The legal and illegal payments made at these borders are all costs that are passed on to consumers in order for the traders to make a profit. At one checkpoint in Mali, border agents extort as much as $4,000 every day. In addition to the aforementioned high costs of trade, unclear policies are another hindrance. Seeds from Kenya can be held indefinitely at an Ethiopian border because they don’t meet Ethiopia’s standards. Tanzania may ship corn to Kenya only to find out there is now a ban on the importation of corn.

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The issue of infrastructure also needs to be addressed. Lack of adequate road, rail, and other physical infrastructure continue to impede trade within and between African countries. According to a report from the UN Economic Commission for Africa, only about 30% of African roads are paved and, as a result of this “shipping a car from Japan to Abijan costs $1500 while shipping that same car from Addis Ababa to Abijan would cost $5000.” Some of these unpaved roads have potholes big enough to swallow an SUV. The railways in Kenya and Uganda face multiple constraints, including ageing equipment and infrastructure with some over a century old.

These are just some examples of red tape and trade barriers that are costing Africa billions of dollars and depriving the region of new sources of economic growth. However, in spite of all this, there is reason to be optimistic. It seems that for the past few years, this issue has become too dire to ignore and strides are being made to rectify it.

In 2012, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma unveiled a plan to spend $97 billion on infrastructure by 2015 to upgrade roads, ports, and transportation networks. At the World Economic Forum held this May in Abuja, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta called on African leaders to work together in removing obstacles that hinder movement across the continent. In his speech, he said free movement would help Africa meet its development targets. He also announced plans for Kenya and Nigeria should sign agreements that will boost trade and investment between the two countries. Since then, the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, NEPC, and its Kenyan counterpart have pledged to explore the vast market opportunities in Africa to promote trade and investment

Also at the 2014 World Economic forum, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote spoke on the matter of visa issuance stating that presently, he and other Nigerian businessmen are required to obtain visas to enter about 38 African countries but a foreigner has more access to these same counties than he does because all they need to do is get a visa at the airport and pass through.Steps are being taken to streamline the visa process so that African businessmen and investors can invest in other countries with ease.

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In Kenya, barriers that formerly prevented professionals like doctors and lawyers from practicing in Rwanda have been removed. Now, a Kenyan lawyer can practice law in Rwanda without sitting for the bar all over again. This will also lead to a reduction in unemployment because new graduates will have more job options and not so new graduates will have more opportunities to provide services.

At the end of the day, increased inter Africa trade is the best way for Africa to use all of its resources and talent become self sustainable, grow and thrive. The less cumbersome the trade process is, the lower the cost of goods and services will be. The lower the cost of goods and services, the more people can afford them. The more people can afford them, the more people will be empowered and gradually lift themselves out of poverty.

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Can Africa Save BlackBerry?

Can Africa Save BlackBerry?

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Blackberry is a dinosaur that is on the brink of extinction, however, they may be able to survive due to reports that Africa’s mobile adoption is estimated to grow by 85 percent, or 900 million subscribers, over the next three years. More proof that Africa is the Last Frontier.

What Africa Needs – Part 1

What Africa Needs – Part One: TRADE NOT AID

After taking some time figure out what I wanted my first post to be about, I came to the conclusion that I want to address what I feel are some issues holding the continent back. I also wanted to use this opportunity to give my opinion on what I think some solutions are. The goal is to spark something within someone (or myself) that will eventually result in some of these issues being further addressed and hopefully resolved. Another goal is to vent my frustrations. Ha! With that said, I present to you, Part 1 of a 5 part series entitled “What Africa Needs”.

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Part ONE: Trade Not Aid:

“Trade Not Aid” is a popular phrase used by proponents of the idea
that instead of giving ‘free money’ to Africa to fight poverty and
hunger, donors should support job and business creation through
foreign direct investment. Dont get me wrong, not all aid is bad. I am
not referring to emergency aid given in situations like a natural
disaster. Nor am I referring to donations given to help a child go to
school or clothe an orphan. My sister actually runs a non profit,
Change A Life Africa (www.changealifeafrica.org) that is focused on
providing disadvantaged children with a quality education. I have seen
the difference such organizations can make and I applaud and support
them.

The type  of aid I am referring to is government to government aid. I
feel it is time we realize that this type of assistance is not only
the least effective in terms of poverty reduction but it is also
destructive. It is stunting the growth of a middle class that is
needed to spur economic growth. Zambian-born economist and author of
the best seller, “Dead Aid,” Damiso Moyo states that “Over the past
60 years at least $1 trillion of development-related aid has been
transferred from rich countries to Africa. Yet, real per-capita income
today is lower than it was in the 1970s, and more than 50% of the
population live on less than a dollar a day, a figure that has nearly
doubled in two decades.”  If this economic development model is
CLEARLY not working, why is it still being used? Why is it being used
in Africa only? China moved 300 million people out of poverty in 30
yrs. India has approximately 300 million people in its middle class.
They did not achieve this by relying on aid to the extent that African
does today and has for the past half century plus.

A serious issue is that African governments are now relying on this
aid  as a source of income like a welfare recipient waiting on their
monthly check, instead of looking for alternative means of revenue
generation. Some say that aid promotes government corruption because
the funds are just moved to private accounts abroad. I am certain that
this happens a lot of the time,however, that is not the only issue.
Even where there is no corruption involved, you have a situation where
African governments are relying on western countries to provide the
people with goods and services that they should be providing e.g
education, healthcare, infrastructure etc. Who will respect a leader
that does not care for his own people? That is a huge reason why
African ‘leaders’ get zero respect in the global community. They are
looked at as beggars. You are sitting on priceless natural resources
that can be traded, yet you beg for money from countries that are in
actuality, broke themselves. But I digress…


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Another issue is that aid does not create a meaningful amount of jobs
or opportunities to start and grow a business in Africa. Aid also
comes in the form of goods donated. Why not invest in local producers
of these goods or invest in a manufacturing plant to produce the goods
that are being shipped to Africa? This is a sure way to spur job
creation and invest in a local business instead of flooding the market
of charity goods that will put local producers out of business.There
is no way to reduce poverty if there are no jobs or means for
individuals to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors as a means to increase
their income and start to create wealth for themselves. Therefore, if
there is no middle class to drive the economy you are left with a
situation similar to that in Nigeria where there are extremely wealthy
people and extremely poor people with a few middle class citizens
sprinkled in the middle. I’m sure you can see how this would also lead
to an increase in crime, whether its fraud or good old fashioned armed
robbery.
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The good news is, in recent years due to the slowed economic growth in
Western countries, the amount given in aid is now slowly reducing.
Now, more than ever, the focus has turned Africa, not just as a poor
desperate continent in need of help, but as a place where Western and
Eastern countries need to do business in order to survive. This in
addition to business friendly policies in African countries  has led
to economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. This performance boost is
attributed to rising investment in among other things, natural
resources and infrastructure. China, for example has invested almost
$30 billion in Africa since 2012. According to the consulting group,
McKinsey&Co, “natural resources, and the related government spending
they financed, generated just 32 percent of Africa’s GDP growth from
2000 through 2008. The remaining two-thirds came from other sectors,
including wholesale and retail, transportation, telecommunications,
and manufacturing. This growth acceleration has started to improve
conditions for Africa’s people by reducing the poverty rate. But
several measures of health and education have not improved as fast. To
lift living standards more broadly, the continent must sustain or
increase its recent pace of economic growth.”

This to me is proof that we do not need handouts. What we do need is
to be taken seriously as players in the global trade market. We have
the resources, we have the talent and we have the potential. What we
need to do now is phase out aid and continue to increase the amount of
trade deals and investments that help move the continent in the right
direction.