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Category Archives: General

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Tsitsikamma to Tataouine Expedition

The world’s second biggest continent, 54 countries, a continent of mystery and intrigue, of immense beauty and promise.  Its also the place I call home.  Africa has always inspired me, always tempting me with the promise of adventure.  But for so many people across the world Africa is nothing more than poverty, war, disease and corruption, and I am passionate about encouraging people to see Africa differently, because this is not the Africa I know.  The best way we (my hubby and my best mate) can think of to right this wrong is to answer the call to adventure, exploring our great continent and smashing stereotypes along the way.

How we will do this? We’re going to drive from Tsitsikamma in South Africa to Tataouine in Tunisia, touching all 4 sides of the African continent and 3 of the cardinal points and passing from the most southern tip at Cape Agulhas to the most northern tip at Ras Ben Sakka . This expedition will take us 153 days and through 23 countries throughout Africa. By the end of our adventure we would have driven almost 30 000km.

Along the way we want to change more than perceptions though. We also want to ensure that we leave a long-term and sustainable difference in each country that we visit. We will do this by planting two school food gardens in each country we travel through – that’s 44 gardens in total. We will also be living on US$1.25 for a day in 6 capital cities along route to explore and better understand the most commonly used definition of poverty, its usefulness in a continent with such a strong informal economic sector and possible alternatives.

You can follow our journey on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/T2TExpedition2013 or Twitter (@T2T_Trace, @T2T_Matt & @T2T_Ishtar). Our website will be up and running soon so watch this space:)

T2T infographic 2

 

 

 

A response to Robert Bates’ piece ‘Africa through Western Eyes: The world’s dark continent or capitalism’s shining light?’

Robert Bates recently wrote a piece (http://thinkafricapress.com/culture/africa-through-western-eyes-worlds-dark-continent-or-capitalisms-shining-light) documenting his understanding of the history of and reasons for Africa’s image in the West. I found the piece thought-provoking but have to say I don’t agree with everything he said.  After reading it I felt it necessary to respond to some unsubstantiated claims, particularly relating to what I saw as his unfair and uninformed portrayal of the organisation Africa The Good News. Let me at this stage declare that I have written for them (as an unpaid volunteer) in the past and plan to do so again in the future. I support Africa The Good News’ mandate and believe that they have an important role to play in inspiring, informing and mobilising the people of our continent – our greatest strength and resource.

He wrote: “It is partly because some people think the best way to repudiate the negative stereotypes of Africa is to pump out wholly ‘good news’. An account on Twitter called @AfricaGoodNews is a case in point. Its handler tweets links to positive reportage of Africa: such “Angola May Produce One Million Eggs a Day…” and “Doing Business in Fast-Growing Africa – Europe Edition…”.

It is one facet of a larger rebranding project. Whilst some observers may approve, seeing them as necessary correctives to the boilerplate journalism mentioned above, others are already finding them clichéd and boring or downright misleading; a facile PR exercise designed to encourage (mainly Western) investment.”

My first objection is to the selective representation of the sort of information shared by Africa: The Good News’ Twitter account.  In it the writer has quoted (out of context and incompletely) two mundane, banal and Eurocentric tweets. He doesn’t show the tweets about opportunities to be involved in volunteer-created textbooks, feedback on research and census studies, economic market information and news of general political, cultural, environmental, economic and even entertainment events from across the continent.  All these, I would like to add, seldom appear in Western media, even in the “back pages” so to speak. Is this news primarily positive? Yes, that is the entire point of the organisation, but more on that later.

My second concern is with Bates’ portrayal of Africa: The Good News as a Twitter account and no more. It is far more than that, and he has neglected to mention the organisation behind it.  A little research would have revealed that the organisation was originally founded as an offshoot of the very successful South Africa: The Good News, which had been founded a few years earlier by Steuart Pennington. Its aim was and is to counteract the overwhelmingly and exclusively negative portrayal of South Africa in the local and international media. It was not about creating an artificially positive alternative reality, but rather was aimed at ensuring that the real South Africa, both the good and bad news, got the balanced coverage it needed and deserved.  This all started when Steuart went to a ‘Farewell, and Congrats you’re getting out’ party for some friends emigrating to Australia, and found himself getting angry at the endless negative stories and statistics about South Africa doing the rounds at the event. What made him really angry was not so much that these things were being said, but that they rang true at first hearing and he did not have the facts at hand to refute or confirm them. After taking on a couple of the guests, and earning himself a night on the couch as a result, his wife suggested he do something about it instead of moaning about it.

So he started doing some research, and discovered that not only were many of these common ‘truths’ on the downfall of South Africa overexaggerated or downright wrong, but also that there were many good things happening too. He found himself motivated and inspired to join the ranks of those working towards the future we all dream of for South Africa, and so the organisation was born. After a few years of running the rapidly growing and successful South Africa: The Good News the team recognised that a similar platform was needed for the continent as a whole, which led to the birth of Africa: The Good News. Of course both these organisations are (hopefully) changing the attitudes and actions of investors (local and international) but the arrogance inherent in the assertion that Africa: The Good News is just an investor propaganda machine quite frankly infuriates me. Even if this assertion was true (which it is not) why should Africa not be able to market itself to investors by showcasing its strengths? Virtually every city and country in the world does that!

South Africa: The Good News and Africa: The Good News take the view that since the negative side of Africa gets so much coverage there really is no need for them to add to it. Does this mean they only publish naively positive stories? No. When reports such as the Global Competitive Index come out they are shared in their entirety, not just the positive parts. Does either organisation blindly act as if either South Africa or the continent as a whole doesn’t have any problems? Again, no. They do, however play an active role in correcting these instead of swooping in from afar, dismissing inconvenient details as irrelevant and rushing away without offering any solutions or alternatives. I see no reason to give more credit to negative news than positive simply because of their outlook – I’ll admit Bates never actually says this outright but the implication is pretty clear. If this analysis of Africa: The Good News had been based specifically on reliability of sources, accuracy of data or even the dates of data published etc. and then substantiated I would have paid more attention. Let me be very clear that I don’t believe any of these are in question, however a rational review of them would have at least been useful and much more fair.

My final complaint is not against the portrayal of Africa: The Good News specifically, but the general assertion that reporting on good news from the continent is found by “others” to be “boring”, “cliched” and “misleading.” Those are pretty serious claims to make and if they had been made against a specific journalist we would now have quite a row on our hands.  Why should it be any different when made about an entire group of (unnamed) journalists?  Who are these “others” he refers to?  The fact that no one specific is mentioned makes it difficult to challenge him on specific facts – probably the intention of these vague, unsubstantiated claims in the first place.   There is no logical reason why good news should be reported any less than bad news, and all reporting should be judged on its accuracy and reliability, not simply it’s positive or negative tone.

Since Bates started with Twitter let’s go back there now: a quick search  of the word ‘Africa’ shows the enormous number of people in Africa and across the globe who have warped and inaccurately negative views of the continent. Africa: The Good News is an important and laudable initiative for a grossly misunderstood and maligned continent. All Mr Bates’ attack on this organisation does is show how very necessary initiatives like this still are.

 

(Some) of Africa’s Scientific Discoveries & Contributions

An infographic to highlight some of Africa’s lessor know scientific discoveries and contributions, of which there are MANY more…

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SOURCES:

• McLaren, W. August 2006. ‘Mohammed Bah Abba And His Pot-in-Pot’ http://tinyurl.com/986etkj
• Treacy, M. May 2012. ‘Device Turns Your Sneaker into a Portable Cell Phone Charger’
• Ashoka Innovators for the Public. 2008. ‘Ashoka Innovators for the Public: Mohammed Bah Abba‘
• Biofuels Digest. May 2012. ‘CleanStar launches first cooking fuel facility in Mozambique; alternative to
  charcoal cooking, heath risks, at hand in Africa’ http://tinyurl.com/94lmzal
• Noble Prize.Org. The Noble Prize in Chemistry 1999: Ahmed Zewail http://tinyurl.com/9jknsbr
• Novozymes. May 2012. ‘CleanStar Mozambique launches world’s first sustainable cooking fuel facility’
• Google Science Fair 2012 ‘Meet our 15 finalists and Science in Action winner’ http://tinyurl.com/8fjlw82
• RNW Africa Desk. February 2012. ‘The Cardiopad: an African invention to save lives’ http://tinyurl.com/9btaxfv
• The Right Livlihood Award. Aklilu Lemma (Ethiopia) http://tinyurl.com/9dd8j65
• Wikipedia. Sema Sgaier http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sema_Sgaier
• Wikipedia. Raphael Armattoe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphael_Armattoe
 

TEDxRhodesU: The Tea Stop that taught me to listen

This is the transcript of the talk I gave at TEDxRhodesU – a summary version of this story already exists on the blog but this one expands the story as well as makes reference to new examples from other countries. Would love to hear your thoughts!

I was born in Port Elizabeth, studied at Rhodes and as all good BA students do when I graduated I went out to save the world. Being proudly South African I was keen on starting at home in my continent of birth and so off I went naively into the world. 10 years on I’ve travelled in Europe, the UK and all over Africa and these are some of the places that surprised me most. Can you guess where they are?

Surprised? So was I, but I was in for a lot of surprises working across Africa. The next surprise was less shock and more dawning realization that contrary to what I had been taught, Africa’s most valuable resources are in fact not its wildlife or minerals but rather its people. I have learnt that the most unrecognized and under-utilised resource in Africa is its people – particularly its women. Even today as the narrative of Africa is changing, the tales of the next great investment frontier focus on our gold, oil, diamonds, coal and gas. Maybe it’s just the “curse of the commodities”, but the people of our continent are as undervalued as ever. This manifests itself in our exclusion in the formation and management of aid programs, financial systems and even the monitoring of governance in our own countries.

However the few who have recognized this, and unleashed as well as nurtured this potential are reaping rewards, far greater than could ever have been expected. And so today I will be sharing with you this very simple lesson: if you want to work in a place (in any capacity: NGO, start-up, whatever) you need to listen to its people. I’m sure you’d all agree that all of us in this room are much more empowered than your average African.  But when last were you asked what needed to be done to improve infrastructure in your neighbourhood? Asked to rate your postal service? When last were you given the opportunity to nominate a Nobel Prize laureate? When last did one of the multitude of NGOs who regularly ask you for money, ask you how you would like it spent?  Or even account to you for how they spend it?

Sure, it sounds really simple. Obvious, even.  And yet so few governments, NGOs, corporations, anyone is doing so? Our continent is full of dynamic, strong, innovative, entrepreneurial people and yet we don’t seem to listen to one another. And of course this lesson applies globally – but I believe more so in Africa where the people are more often than not treated as nothing more than a source of labour – much as it was centuries ago.

The people who taught me to listen?  Their names are Anastasia and Esther, a Ugandan and a Kenyan who were my neighbours in Ngong, Kenya in 2008/2009.  Ngong is a township just outside Nairobi – about 25-30km from the city centre.  We lived in a ginormous 6 bedroom house, ironically a small house by Ngong standards.  Now don’t get me wrong, there were and are plenty of poor people living in tin shacks in Ngong – our neighbours across the road were 4 families sharing 3 shacks – BUT our neighbour to the right was a politician living in an 18 bedroom house.  It was all shacks and mansions, with nothing in between.…

So, sadly, we were living in a vastly unjust society where those who were trapped in poverty had very few options or opportunities to free themselves from its grip.  When a friend of mine came to visit us in Kenya, and wanted to do some volunteer work while there, I decided it was time to at least attempt to make some sort of difference in our neighbourhood.  My friend agreed, and a few days after she arrived we were sitting down to lunch with the two women I knew best in the community.  Enter Anastasia and Esther.  Both women were mothers and did not have jobs, yet they never described themselves as unemployed.  No Kenyan does, because even if you don’t have a job, you are always trying to start a business, sell something or do whatever piecemeal work you can find to keep you and your family alive.  Anastasia and Esther were no different.

The researcher in me quickly turned our lunch into a qualitative focus group, and the first surprising thing we learnt was that the primary barrier to employment or starting a business for these women was…any guesses? It wasn’t because of a lack of ideas, or a lack of access to funding.  Even though they lived in shacks it was not infrastructure issues that stopped them – it was a lack of affordable and trustworthy childcare.  Neither of these women had any family in Ngong, and any of their plans or activities needed to take this into account above everything else.  We explained that we each had R500 (Ksh5,000) to contribute to a business for them, and quite quickly they identified a gap in the market as well as some ideas on how to take advantage of this opportunity.  But before I tell you about all this there are a few things you need to know…

  1. Kenyans drink huge amounts of tea, as often as a cup is available
  2. This tea must be made in a very specific way to be considered proper tea by Kenyans.  Start with a pot of half water, half milk, add the teabags while this is still cold and then bring it all to the boil.  Once boiled add plenty of sugar – and there you go, the perfect cuppa!

Despite these two cultural characteristics the only place really to buy tea on the go was Nairobi Java House (the Kenyan equivalent of Mugg & Bean), and at a cost equivalent to about 40% of the monthly minimum wage per cup!  So the average Kenyan could not get tea on the go at all.  Anastasia and Esther suggested selling proper Kenyan tea, firstly from Esther’s home which was halfway up a long hill and close to several construction sites (and, we thought, thirsty construction workers) and secondly from mobile sites at taxi and bus ranks early in the morning and in the evenings to catch rush hour commuters. We even came up with a name, ‘The Tea Stop’ all before our first lunch together had even ended.

A week later the 3 of us were off on a bus to Karen circle, where a large gathering of commuters could be found, to give the mobile tea stand its first go. In the week leading up to this point we’d designed a logo, printed stickers for all equipment; bought trays and bags to transport everything around in, enough ingredients for about 1000 cups of tea, the equipment to make it in and finally a secure trunk for all this to be stored in. The permanent stand had also been set up outside of Esther’s home and so while we headed off to Karen, Esther stayed at home running this store and importantly looking after Anastasia’s children.

We only stayed 30 minutes that first session – we had a few logistical issues that made staying any longer not worth the time – but despite the limited time and despite the logistical issues Anastasia sold 35 cups at Ksh40 each, just 2 silver coins and made Ksh1400. Considering the minimum monthly wage for Kenya at the time was Ksh5500 (R550) this was a mind-blowing amount even when divided by two.

Each day was then split into two two hour shifts, one for each  rush hour, and each woman did one shift per day. This meant they were never away from their children for too long; had trustworthy and free child care in each other close by, and could continue their small home-based vegetable businesses as before.

Three months later they were earning R1200 (Ksh12000) per month working 2 hours a day each. This was more than twice the minimum wage then, and much more than both them and their employed husbands combined had earned before. And all this from a really small start-up investment and a willingness to treat the people involved as experts of their own context.

Anastasia and Esther continued to run ‘The Tea Stop’ for a further 2 years until they both moved out of Ngong. Their families average income increased by R70 per month during this time, not only because of ‘The Tea Stop’ but also because of the resources of time and seed money they could draw on  to embark on other endeavours, now that basic needs were taken care of.  Both were still running businesses when we last had contact in early 2011 – Esther was running a tailor and ‘design studio’ in the Lake Victoria region and Anastasia was a farmer in the Aberdares.

The project was a success overall, but it wasn’t all plain sailing. There were challenges and failures. One that stands out is that the project did not continue beyond Anastasia and Esther. We as a group failed to share or pass on our learnings, ideas and success. We proved it could be done with them but we didn’t take it beyond them. The permanent stand outside of Esther’s home did not work and soon closed and so we had wasted money on equipment for the permanent stand, which in hindsight was unnecessary. Yes despite all this the project still proves that the most important resource was not the cash available, nor any sort of corporate backing nor an extensive marketing machine, but rather the people involved. The key to this project’s success lay in understanding the beneficiary’s actual circumstances and tapping into their extensive local knowledge and insight.

One story is not enough to prove the point though and so let’s look at another…from Ghana. When the local knowledge and insight of the employees of Blue Skies Ghana was accessed they not only saved the company, diversified the product line and created a new market but also increased revenues to record highs. In 2007 Blue Skies Ghana was a fruit juice and canned fruit company who, because of their focus on exports to Europe, were suffering massive financial losses as the recession withered up their market. After several failed turnaround attempts management called the staff together to inform them that the company would have to close.  The staff, consisting mainly of fruit processors and machine operators, asked management to hold off on this for 3 weeks while they attempted to find a solution. The next day they came back suggesting that the company scale down on their tinned fruit and juice production for Europe and instead sell fresh fruit locally.  Management said this would never work – ‘we have no local distribution network, no drivers, no trucks…’, so that day each employee took home two boxes of fruit and sold them in their local neighbourhoods.  They did this for a week before collecting together all the cash accumulated and handing it over to an astonished management, who now had not only more cash in hand than they had had in months but also a new business model and market! This type of success lies waiting for all who work in Africa and are prepared to listen.

The consequences for failing to listen go far beyond the possible closure of businesses – it can cost human lives.  This has been seen throughout Africa in the fight against malaria.  Nets are distributed but are turned into fishing nets and animal traps almost as soon as they are handed over and so the very well-intended fundraising and distribution of these anti-malarial products have very little effect on rates of infection at all. Because as 45 year old Kenyan Duncan Nyambega puts it: “Dying from Malaria is much quicker and less painful than dying from hunger.”  The exact figures vary from country to country,  but use of mosquito nets for their intended purpose ranges from 26% – 51% at very most. And let’s be honest here, they’re not the best way to spend money if you’re trying to enhance food security either.

So by not taking the time to understand the beneficiaries or their local context, millions of dollars in equipment and hours worked are wasted, which in turn means unnecessary lives are lost – just because nobody listened.

There is a Swahili proverb that says ‘Listening is the most difficult skill to learn and the most important to have.’ I’d go further and say without it no project can be truly sustainable nor impactful.  It’s important to be clear that when I talk of listening I mean the broad definition of ‘to pay attention, to heed’ and not simply the biological process of hearing sound. It involves gaining an extensive understanding of the specific local context you will be working in. This would preferably be gained first hand by living local (local local not expat local –  that means not living in the one expat subrubs with all the other foreigners, it means buying your food where everyone else does, using public transport even just occasionally, socialising with your neighbours, consulting the local news and learning at least the basics of the local language/languages). If you really can’t do all this yourself then at least recognize the need heavily to involve local expertise.

Make sure you take the time to involve beneficiaries at every level,and really talk to them, so you understand their actual circumstances and the real barriers they encounter to overcoming these circumstances.  If you do these two simple things, the potential for progress and success is massive, but even bigger will be the new opportunities for you also to learn and grow at a personal level.

 

TEDxRhodesU, Inspiration & Blogging

Yesterday was the inaugural TEDXRhodesU and what an event! The day was one of motivation and inspiration on all levels! Whether science, teaching, tech, start-ups or even poetry is your thing, there was something for you at this event. The best bit was that even the subjects that aren’t usually my bag were presented in such unique ways and by such excellent speakers that you couldn’t help but be interested in them all! Considering this was the very first such event at Rhodes, special mention must be made of Tyron Louw and the organising committee who not only put together an inspiring and entertaining programme but made sure that the it went off without a hitch…amazing! Thank you for doing such an incredible job and allowing me to be a part of what was a life-changing day for so many people.

The day was also one that reminded me of why I believe in Africa, because if sitting in a room not only full of inspiring speakers, but also the professional organising committee and, best of all, the engaged and intelligent audience like I had the privilege to do yesterday does not make you believe in Africa then I’m not sure anything will! We heard about how South Africa is leading the way in terms of astronomy globally, to the point where at present over 360 individuals and 22 institutions currently want to make use of our MeerKAT telescope (Prof. Justin Jonas). Mark Horner showed us how he’s broadening access to textbooks through volunteer written open textbooks (i.e. with no copyright restrictions). We learnt about the difference between knowing, being and doing voluntarism, how these are different and what the impact of each could be (Corinne Knowles). I could go on and on as there was so much said and done that was worthy of mention. As soon as the links for these talks are made available I will share them.

I spoke about ‘The Tea Stop that taught me to listen’ which focused on the lessons learnt while starting a successful business with 2 Ngong (Kenya) community members.  I will upload the entire transcript of my speech tomorrow. TEDxRhodesU also motivated me to finally get back to this blog. My intention was always to update it at least weekly but then things got complicated. I’ll explain more about that in my next week so for now I’ll just end with a thanks to TEDxRhodesU for motivating me to get back on track…

The genius Andrew Buckland using his body to share a message – amazing!

Morongoa Masebe starting off her talk ‘The Teacher Named Art’ with song

Steuart Penninton being interviewed by the fabulous EMCEE Noisey

Me in action at TEDXRhodesU – last speaker of the day (12 August 2012)

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in General, Lessons

 

Why the World Bank needs an African Woman as its President

Yesterday the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank confirmed that the period for submitting nominations for the next President was officially closed and the 3 nominations received within this period were:

  • Jim Yong Kim, a US national and President of Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
  • José Antonio Ocampo, a Colombian national and Professor at Columbia University, New York
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian national, Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Nigeria

Individual candidate interviews will take place in Washington DC in the next few weeks and a new supposedly merit-based president is expected to be announced shortly thereafter. There has been a large amount of pressure from developing nations to appoint a President from one of our countries, and considering that since the inception of the World Bank in 1944 only US citizens have held the position, our lobby is justifiably receiving widespread support. This argument could be taken even further though, to the point where we say that it’s time for an African Woman specifically to sit in the position, and this is why:

It is almost universally accepted, although not yet universally acted upon, that Africa is the world’s current GDP growth rate leader, has a rapidly expanding (and profitable) middle class, is the continent offering the greatest investment returns,  and  all this is expected to continue and grow as governance and infrastructure constantly improve. The global economy of the future is one in which Africa is going to play a substantially larger and more important role. It follows that since our continent’s people and the management of our resources will have a larger impact on economies beyond our shores than ever before that our involvement in global financial systems and organisations should be larger than ever before too.

The people of Africa and the developing world have the most at stake when it comes to global financial decisions/systems, yet to date have had the least input into these. The World Bank’s primary customer base is the developing world and yet we have never been represented at the top of this organisation. To be successful the organisation needs to understand clearly and be directed by these realities – what better way to do this than through representation of this group at the very top?  Ignoring these realities in the past has evidently neither served us nor the developed world well and the time for fresh perspectives and approaches seems to be upon us. In the business world for a company in this position a customer-centric approach is generally the most accepted and successful business practice. Why should this logic not apply to the World Bank?

From a more ideological stand-point and as a believer in the principal of democracy, even at a global level, it needs to be noted that Africans account for a 6th of all people living on the planet. Our representation at global levels of organisations such as the World Bank specifically but also the IMF, WHO, UN and so on is not even close and this needs to change, simple. Our fair share of influence needs to be apportioned and placing an African Woman as president of the World Bank would be a great start.

It could very easily be argued that African Women are the most marginalised, under-represented and disadvantaged people on the planet, yet despite this a constant stream of almost miraculous tales of business success and community impact can be found all around the continent.  There’s Prisca Tshabalala, the South African founder and manager of the Nkanyezi Stimulation centre for children with multiple disabilities; Bethlehem Alemu, the Ethiopian founder of Sole Rebels, an eco-sensitive footwear brand; Kenyan-born Ory Okolloh who spearheaded the founding of Ushahidi, the many women who manage and run the award-winning Swazi Secrets, a Swazi company making beauty products from natural resources and completely managed by the local women themselves. I literally could fill pages with such inspiring examples but my point is not to list but rather illustrate the massive and growing impact women are making across the continent (especially as they realize they do not need permission to do so.) Imagine then what these incredible people could do if considered, for the first time, and represented at the level of global financial policy formulation, aid distribution and investment direction?

As far as inspiring women go Nigerian-born Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is about as inspiring as they come. She is a former World Bank Vice-President and Corporate Secretary, posts she left to take up arguably the most challenging finance position in the world: Minister of Finance in Nigeria. During her first term (2003 – 2006) she increased the country’s reserves from US$7bn to US$30bn, brought inflation down from 28% to 11%, increased average GDP growth from 2.3% p/a in the previous decade to 6.5% p/a in this one and focused on rooting out corruption despite the fact that this pursuit often endangered her life. Importantly, I believe,  she is an ardent advocate of the ‘Trade not Aid’ movement and can be seen presenting motivating, incredibly well delivered speeches encouraging and helping others to see Africa, and  particularly its women, differently.  She has also already indicated that there would be no ‘business as usual’ if she took charge, “I share the World Bank vision of fighting poverty with passion. The issue is in what direction one must take this to make this the most beneficial” she has said, and this only strengthens her candidacy.

“She has eminent academic qualifications and would be, I think, a candidate of choice not only on the African continent but well beyond as well,” South Africa’s Pravin Gordhan said this week. His position is also supported by Nigeria and Angola in a rare display of unity between these countries, usually battling for dominance of the continent. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s individual credentials alone would be impressive but add to this her position as an African Woman who is capable of and uniquely positioned to truly represent Africans, Women and the developing world. She truly is the strongest candidate, possibly even the organisation’s only hope of survival.

Sources:

Ernst & Young. 2011 Africa Attractiveness Survey. ‘It’s time for Africa’ http://bit.ly/GVLp1K

Mfonobong Nsehe. 2012. ‘Africa’s Most Successful Women: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu’ http://onforb.es/GMbHnj

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. 2007. ‘Want to help Africa? Do business here’ http://bit.ly/GNzRhP

 

Sub Saharan Africa’s Tertiary Education Highlights

Sub Saharan Africa’s tertiary education figures are not really something worth celebrating at their current levels. Enrollment rates are still below global averages and the gender ratio of male to female students requires urgent attention. There is good news though and that is the rate at which our continent is changing these figures. Development and growth have not only been above global rates, but more importantly have been consistently so for over 40 years. This area has been and is receiving prioritised attention from Sub Saharan Africa’s governments, this attention is paying off and that’s always good news!

Sources:

Assie-Lumumba, N. 2006. ‘Empowerment of Women in Higher Education in Africa’ http://bit.ly/yF2HS4

UN Fact Sheet. December 2010. ‘Trends in Tertiary Education: Sub Saharan Africa’ http://bit.ly/wbXDia

UN News (as published on Africa The Good News). April 2011. ‘Education spending in Sub Saharan Africa Increases’ http://bit.ly/zGvWZF