Virginia Tech’s Emmanuel A. Frimpong named a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow

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Emmanuel Frimpong, associate professor of fisheries science in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, has been named a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow.

The scholar program, which supports 100 short-term faculty fellowships for African-born academics, is offered by the Institute of International Education and funded by a two-year grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Frimpong, who joined the faculty of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation in 2007, focuses on the ecology, life history, and distribution of freshwater fish with an emphasis on applications in aquaculture and the conservation of fish and fisheries.

He collaborates with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s AquaFish Innovation Lab on research and development projects in Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania. His research in the United States is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Aquatic Gap Analysis Program.

In outreach and service to his profession, Frimpong created a comprehensive database of more than 100 biological traits of 809 U.S. freshwater fish species and worked with University Libraries at Virginia Tech to make the database available online to scientists across the country.

The prestigious Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow program is limited to African-born individuals currently living in the United States or Canada and working in higher education. Fellows engage in educational projects proposed and hosted by faculty of higher education institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The fellowship is “validation of what I have worked very hard to accomplish — to be a significant contributor to research and development in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa,” Frimpong said.

It will give him the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in his home country of Ghana, collaborating with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to develop aquaculture, fisheries, and water resources management curricula and to conduct research on aquaculture development for food security and the conservation of fish and fisheries.

“With three months in Ghana, I hope to have more time to see problems up close and contribute my expertise substantively to the solutions,” he said. “Finding ways to solve immediate problems of humanity with the scientific knowledge and tools we have now motivates me. If the people of sub-Saharan Africa can be taught to manage their natural resources well, they will have the resources they need now and for future generations.”

Frimpong received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Technology in Ghana, master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Virginia Tech, and a doctorate from Purdue University.

The College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, which consistently ranks among the top three programs of its kind in the nation, advances the science of sustainability. Programs prepare the future generation of leaders to address the complex natural resources issues facing the planet. World-class faculty lead transformational research that complements the student learning experience and impacts citizens and communities across the globe on sustainability issues, especially as they pertain to water, climate, fisheries, wildlife, forestry, sustainable biomaterials, ecosystems, and geography. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

Source: GhanaWeb.com

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Global Ankara Trend: The Colorful Fabric Revolutionizing International Fashion

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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

What Africa Needs – Part 2

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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.

Blitz the Ambassador – Make You No Forget ft. Seun Kuti

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I have said it before and i’ll say it again. Mainstream Hip hop/ Rap has been on the decline for many years now. Thankfully, there are still many artists breathing life into the game.

If you don’t already know about Blitz the Ambassador, now you do. He is a Ghanaian-American hip-hop artist and visual artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Check out this dope track from his album, Afropolitan Dreams. (available on itunes)