Is urban agriculture the future of Africa?

Using science, technology and innovation could help promote the use of urban agriculture to sustain food and nutrition security in African cities, experts say. According to scientists specializing in agriculture, geography and urban planning, urban agriculture has been neglected in urban planning and development agenda, despite its obvious benefits of helping to feed the rapidly growing African population. Agricultural activities such as crop farming and livestock keeping are still deemed as activities of rural dwellers by African urbanites, but this has to change.

“Hunger levels are on the rise in Africa but we haven’t found sustainable solutions,” says Sheryl Hendricks, director, Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Hendricks explains that urban agriculture could help increase agricultural diversity, especially in producing vegetables to enhance nutrition security. According to Hendricks science, technology and innovation research could help find innovations to aid food safety and reduce post-harvest losses and food waste.

The continent also needs to increase the adoption of modern technology and innovations in farming such as using agricultural data monitoring sensors that transmit timely data on amount of nutrients in the soil, rainfall and temperatures to mobile phone devices for action, concluded the experts during the Sustainable African Cities Conference in Ghana.

The conference that brought together 200 experts from many countries including Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Canada and Germany, had delegates discuss current challenges and exploring future pathways for sustainable cities in Africa. The event was organised by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) in collaboration with the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Network of African Academy of Sciences and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany.

George Ofori, a fellow of the GAAS, says that Africa should reduce over-reliance on modern technologies developed outside of the continent to increase sustainability. “We need to find localised solutions to food and nutrition security issues in our urban settings,” Ofori explains.

Axel Drescher, a research fellow at the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiberg, Germany, says that urban agriculture is practised in some African cities such as Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, Lusaka in Zambia and Bamako in Mali, adding that urban agriculture could produce eggs, milk, poultry, fruits and vegetables that are highly nutritious.

But Drescher explains that there is a need for more research to examine the potential of urban agriculture in addressing food and nutrition security and increasing sustainability of African cities.


Nigeria is the world’s poverty capital, despite its oil reserves

By Obinna Chima

Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extreme poor as of 2018, a report by the Washington-based Brookings Institution has stated.

The report titled, ‘The Start of a New Poverty Narrative,’ obtained on the institution’s website, pointed out that the Democratic Republic of the Congo could soon take over the number two spot.

It said, “At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall.

“In fact, by the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there are today. Already, Africans account for about two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor.

“If current trends persist, they will account for nine-tenths by 2030. Fourteen out of 18 countries in the world—where the number of extreme poor is rising—are in Africa.”

It noted that between January 1, 2016, when implementation of internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) started, and July 2018, the world had seen about 83 million people escape extreme poverty.

However, it noted that if extreme poverty were to fall to zero by 2030, “We should have already reduced the number by about 120 million, just assuming a linear trajectory.”

According to the Brookings Institution, given a starting point of about 725 million people in extreme poverty at the beginning of 2016, there was need to reduce poverty by 1.5 people every second to achieve the SDGs, “and yet we’ve been moving at a pace of only 1.1 people per second.”

“Given that we’ve fallen behind so much, the new target rate has just increased to 1.6 people per second through 2030. At the same time, because so many countries are falling behind, the actual pace of poverty reduction is starting to slow down. Our projections show that by 2020, the pace could fall to 0.9 people per second, and to 0.5 people per second by 2022.

“As we fall further behind the target pace, the task of ending extreme poverty by 2030 is becoming inexorably harder because we are running out of time. We should celebrate our achievements, but increasingly sound the alarm that not enough is being done, especially in Africa,” it added.

It is estimated that there are about 37 billion barrels of proven oil reserves in Nigeria, ranking the country as the largest oil producer in Africa and the 11th largest in the world, averaging over 2 million barrels per day. At current rates this would be about 40 years of supply if no new oil was found. Pipeline vandalism, kidnappings, and militant takeover of oil facilities have reduced production, which could be increased to 3 million barrels per day in the absence of such problems.

Read the original article on This Day.


How to make money in Africa in 10 easy steps

Many Western businesspeople are looking towards the shores of Africa with an intention to invest or build a company there, or, to put it shortly, to make money. Despite their sincere efforts, not all of them succeed. Be it for the vast size of the continent which can make logistics a nightmare, or just for the unfamiliarity of the society and lack of reliable partners, most companies need help before their first real African venture. Therefore, we have simplified the process for you. If you follow these ten simple steps, you can find your goldmine too.

Step 1: Decide why is Africa vital to you. Is it because of the number of people and potential buyers in the continent? Or because you want to export something missing on some of the underdeveloped local markets? Or do you want to participate in government tenders and get your share of the pie? It is essential that you understand what you want, as this will shape your strategy.

Step 2: Decide on the region. Where do you want to be active? Is it East Africa? West? South? And why this region? Or do you have a specific country in mind? If in doubt, look at the list of fastest growing economies in Africa. Also take into account the security, political and logistic issues. Will you have to transport your inventory anywhere? Can you move your goods easily? What about the general safety levels and political stability? These are all factors that can contribute to your success or ruin it.

Step 3: Do your research. Is there a proven demand for your services or products in the country or region of your interest? There are many ways you could find out. You can contact the local Chamber of commerce or your embassy in the chosen country. You can contact your acquaintances who are already active in the region to help you. You should read the news. And you should always do a thorough Internet search and read all the advice you can.

Step 4: Decide on your approach. Who will your point of sale be? Do you need to start with local companies? Or big internationals? Or do you dare to work with the government directly? All of these ways are entirely possible. However, they require different strategies. If your eventual contact is a local salesperson, you can do with a short, informal presentation of an attractive product, however, if you want to work with the government, be prepared for lengthy bureaucratic negotiations and lots of formalities and expensive legal agreements.

Step 5: Contact the local partners. Once you have established who your partner will be, try to find their contact information online or through the chambers of commerce or embassies. Be patient, as you often can’t reach many African businesspeople easily and it will usually require some effort on your part to find the right contacts.

Step 6: Visit. There is no point discussing this one. If you want to do business in Africa, you have to spend a lot of time there. In more conservative societies, business is still done face to face. You will also have to earn the local people’s trust before you can participate in an exchange. You will also have to be sure that people you are dealing with are reliable and with proper credit, and this is hard to recognize through emails. Be safe.

Step 7: Find a reliable local partner or relocate one of your people. Things can get tricky in Africa, and you always should keep your eye on the money. This often requires having a full-time agent in your country of choice to control your business, if you don’t have the time to do it in person. Just don’t expect things to run smoothly without you or people you trust are physically in the place. There are too many stories of businesspeople risking their money because of untrustworthy partners. Read more about the challenges.

Step 8: Do a small project to test the waters. Most of the time you will only find out about the problems in your business plan while on the course. Money exchange problems, unreliability, logistic issues, the list goes on and on. Therefore, if you are in a new territory, it always pays off to do a small project first, fixing the bugs and only then move on to a new and bigger one. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Step 9: Establish an office and run more projects. Once you can be sure that your services run smoothly or your products are safely present on the market, you can establish a permanent office in the country you are working in. That will not only give you more presence and a more straightforward way how to facilitate new business but also having a locally registered company often gives you advantages over being a foreign subject, such as easier administration, more methods of employing people or tax advantages.

Step 10: Expand to other countries. Congratulations, you have survived the high waters of establishing your business in Africa! Only the sky is the limit now. Feel free to look for opportunities in neighboring countries, especially if they share the culture or have significant business ties with your first country of choice.


Do you have any experiences in this field on your own? Please share them below!


18 dead in Rwanda because of heavy rain, that’s over 200 since January

Landslides caused by heavy rains killed at least 18 people in Rwanda’s Northern and Western province over the weekend, reported Reuters. This pushed the death toll since January to more than 200, a government official said.

The heavy rains on Sunday night killed 15 people in Western and Northern provinces, Philippe Habinshuti, director of response and recovery unit at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, said in a statement. “The four months have been far worse than last year and other years. This is terrifying,” Habinshuti told Reuters.

Three people died earlier on Sunday in Rubavu district, the ministry said.

 On Monday, people dug through mud to searching for missing people in the western province, where three people were missing and six injured. Sunday’s death toll adds to the 183 who have died since January.


Should African politicians get inspired by Amazon?

Africa’s leaders are moving ahead with plans for a new free-trade area, which could revolutionize the way African producers and consumers interact. To succeed, countries will need to build new platforms that can support trade across regions – not unlike how e-commerce giants do business. Read the article by Carl Manlan.

ACCRA – At a recent summit in Kigali, Rwanda, 44 African heads of state signed a new free-trade agreement aimed at changing the way the region does business. If every African Union country were to join the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the resulting single market would be one of the world’s largest – covering 54 countries that account for roughly $4 trillion in combined spending.

 Five key changes for free trade

But full implementation remains uncertain. Ten countries have refused to sign the deal, including Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest economies and its most populous country. If AfCFTA is to appeal to protectionist holdouts, it must be structured in such a way that all participants benefit. To accomplish that, the bloc’s supporters should look to Amazon, the e-commerce giant, for inspiration.

Since its founding in 1994, Amazon has revolutionized how producers and consumers interact. With its “platform strategy” approach to retail trade, the e-commerce giant has connected companies and customers in mutually beneficial ways. Shoppers can easily access products and services, and businesses can reach more of them cheaply. By breaking down barriers to access, Amazon’s platform ecosystem has even spawned new companies and services.

Africa needs its own platform strategy, and the new single market can deliver it. But five key changes will need to happen first.

For starters, the continent’s businesses must integrate tools like big data, algorithms, and cloud computing into their operations. These technologies helped Amazon build a platform with global reach and appeal. Africa’s companies need a similar commitment to innovation if they are to connect with one another other and remain competitive in the global economy.

Second, Africa requires greater access to capital markets to help sustain manufacturing and technological innovation. But investment is being hampered by a dearth of economic data. To lure African and foreign funds, Africa’s governments, businesses, and industries must commit to improving and making more accessible statistical information across all sectors, so that investors can assess market conditions with the necessary degree of confidence.

Third, African economies must commit to extending the benefits of trade beyond urban tech “bubbles.” If the new trading regime is to be fully embraced, a Cape Verdean must be able to purchase fresh Ethiopian or Kenyan roses, and a Swazilander should have the choice of eating fufu or attiéké made of Ghanaian or Ivorian cassava. But the only way to achieve this level of integration is for regional and continental supply chains to be supported by reliable transport and communications infrastructure.

Fourth, just as Amazon did when it launched a quarter-century ago, Africa should focus on what it does best. And in much of the continent, that means agriculture. Because many businesses in Africa are tied to agriculture, the sector should serve as the backbone of any expanded trading regime. If Africa’s smallholder farmers had easier access to markets, economic growth would naturally accelerate, and industrialization would eventually follow.

Lastly, as Africa’s parliaments work out the details of the single-market framework, negotiators must keep the needs and interests of consumers and producers firmly in mind. That means focusing first on small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), which account for 80% of all African businesses. As other countries have demonstrated, improving market access for small firms helps long-term economic stability. For example, in the United States, SMEs account for about two-thirds of all new private-sector jobs, while in China, SMEs account for roughly 60% of GDP.

As for consumers, Africa’s single market will take off only if it takes demographics into account. This means engaging women and young people, many of whom are unemployed. For the AfCFTA to gain wide acceptance, goods and services must reach these groups, and young people must benefit from increased employment opportunities.

One of the biggest challenges that Africa’s economies have always faced is overcoming exceptionally low volumes of intra-continental trade in value-added products. The AfCFTA could address this imperative. By opening these economies to the free flow of people, products, and services, the AfCFTA could help drive Africa’s future growth. Getting to that point will require an Amazon-like “platform” approach to business, and the recognition that after decades of sub-regional protectionism, the continent’s future will be brighter if it is one of shared openness.

Read the original article Here


Top 5 reasons why business is uniting Africa

African business is integrating Africa—economically and otherwise. It has been a long time coming, and plenty of hurdles remain, but the economic integration of the continent, which many see as key to its continued development, is manifest. Driving it are indigenous entrepreneurs and fast-growing African companies, as well as multinational corporations, said a new analysis by the prestigious Boston Consulting Group.

So why is international business the most significant factor in integrating Africa?

1. between 2006-2007 and 2015-2016, average annual African foreign direct investment—defined as money African companies invested in African countries—more than doubled from $3.7 billion to $10 billion. This was only possible because the top 30 African companies now have operations in 16 African countries, up from an average of just 8 in 2008.

2. This progress has come despite Africa’s many logistical challenges. The most significant problem in this regard has been poor connectivity and a lack of proper road networks within and between several African countries. This obstacle is only conquerable because of substantial business interests, not tourism or politics.

Top African companies have doubled their international operations in the last ten years

3. on January, 23 African countries launched the single African air transport market aimed at boosting connectivity and reducing the cost of travel across the continent. The main reason for the new open market was lobbying of airline companies, as well as multinationals active in several African countries.

4. African financial institutions are championing trade and expansion, the glue of economic integration. For example, three major Moroccan banks had expanded their operations from 3 countries in 2005 to 14 countries by 2016

5. Telecom operators and media companies are doing their part to advance pan-­African connectivity and communications. The West Africa Cable System, an alliance of 12 operators, has connected 11 African countries and Europe. A separate partnership of 20 operators has united 17 West African nations and Europe. As a result, internet penetration in Africa passed 30% in 2016.

You can read the full report here