Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

WEF Africa 2019 starts tomorrow in Cape Town: more than 50 head of states set to attend. Access the programme here.

A: Profiled WEF Africa commentaries

  1. Oxfam’s Winnie Byanyima and Peter Kamalingin: Africa can rise – if our leaders end extreme inequality. Africa is ready to rise. This is what we will keep repeating as Africa’s government and business leaders meet in Cape Town this week at the World Economic Forum Africa Meeting. Rarely have we felt such fiery potential on Africa’s horizon. Consider how Africa’s best-educated generation ever is coming of age – by 2025, half of our continent’s population will be under 25. These young women and men are by far Africa’s best natural resource, more valuable than all the gold, copper, oil and gas that lies under African soil – though we have a lot of that too! Consider how Africa is readily seizing renewable energy – the speed at which off-grid solar is expanding is exhilarating, for example. Consider how our people are pioneering technologies to solve problems. Or indeed the opportunity of the new Africa continental free trade are, set to be the world’s largest. This is reason to hope. And yet we must sound caution. There is no avoiding one inescapable truth: that Africa is not really rising yet. Oxfam arrives in Cape Town with new data that tells a story of: [Download: A tale of two continents]

  2. ISS’s Jakkie Cilliers, Anton du Plessis: Private sector must play its part in fragile, developmental states. A developmentally orientated governing elite can compensate for its lack of capacity through unity in purpose, improved government effectiveness and control of corruption. These are, however, exceptions rather than the rule and typical of authoritarian states such as Rwanda and Ethiopia rather than of many of Africa’s nominal democracies. Actually, at low levels of development, democracy is more likely to constrain development but remains the only means to hold poor leadership to account. So what role can the private sector play in such conditions? Generally, the private sector in poor and/or conflict-affected countries is small as markets are limited and business confidence thin or absent. Both the government and the private sector is generally weak and lacking in modern systems and capacity, and the opportunity for expanding the latter largely depends on the quality and effectiveness of the former. Furthermore, the domestic private and informal sectors are often indistinguishable from one another with the result that the domestic private sector is often associated with foreign companies — often multinationals active in resource extraction which is generally the main export characteristic of poor countries. That is about to change:

  3. McKinsey analysts Acha Leke, Tawanda Sibanda: Why Africa’s digital boom is only just getting started. There is room for many more such digitally driven innovations in Africa. Consider higher education, where Africa’s rate of enrollment is half that of India’s. One tech-enabled innovation to close that gap is the African Leadership University (ALU), whose campuses in Kenya, Mauritius and Rwanda empower students to manage their own education using technology – so bringing costs down to less than 10% of traditional universities. The ALU was recently named one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world. To scale and replicate such innovations, much greater investment will be required in the African technology sector. Although investment in African tech start-ups reached a record $1.2bn in 2018, it still lags other regions such as south-east Asia, where tech start-ups attracted more than $10bn in financing in 2018.

  4. Alibaba analysts Brian A Wong and Roger Yong Zhang: From Hangzhou to Rwanda – how Jack Ma brought Chinese e-commerce to Africa. Leveraging 20 years of collective Alibaba Group knowledge and resources, at Alibaba Business School we have developed a new empowerment model to help governments, entrepreneurs, youth and women to reap the benefits of the digital economy. The new empowerment model aims to promote greater understanding of and alignment around the digital economy and what is needed to encourage digital transformation across the public and private sectors. For this model to work, dedicated training is needed, using targeted curriculum for governments, ecosystem builders (entrepreneurs, SMEs) and students. A wide range of partnerships with venture capitalists and incubators, multilateral organizations, government agencies, universities, industry associations are necessary to create a true ecosystem that can support the development of a digital economy. And through these initiatives, we help align and connect different sectors so that they can work together towards a common goal guided by a shared vision. Here’s how we are applying the model at a country level in Rwanda:

  5. Utopia analysts Jonathan Hursh, Emmanuel Adegboye: These 5 start-ups are shaping the future of Africa’s cities. While it is clear that Africa’s future is urban, much more needs to be done to shape the evolution of its cities, foster collaboration among stakeholders and fund its urban infrastructure. Globally, urban start-ups like Uber and Airbnb are drawing in billions of dollars in venture capital while organisations like Sidewalk Labs, URBAN-X and Urban Us are changing cities and helping to scale urban innovations across North America. Africa also needs urban innovation groups actively reminagining its emerging cities and their slums. We aim to establish urban venture studios - CITYLabs - in Lagos and Nairobi, and to launch a 2020 Africa Megacity Prize to catalyse the African urban innovation ecosystem. Here are some of the start-ups shaping the future of cities across the continent: Sendy is a parcel delivery service that operates across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and links more than 1,000 delivery drivers to customers. The service is used by over 5,000 businesses and 50,000 individuals to make deliveries which are insured and can be tracked in real-time from a mobile app. This leads to greater efficiency and reduced costs as it leverages a network of otherwise informally employed motorcycle, pickup, van and truck drivers. It also recently launched a freight service for domestic cargo transport.

  6. Royal DSM’s Mauricio Adade: A for-profit project has improved nutrition in Rwanda – is it a model that can eliminate hunger across Africa? Royal DSM, together with our partners in Africa Improved Foods (AIF), has shown that investments in agriculture and local food manufacturing work. AIF is a new multi-sectoral, public-private partnership that is feeding the people of Rwanda and delivering economic growth at the same time. This is the first big public-private partnership dedicated to addressing hunger and malnutrition. However, AIF is not a charity; it is a for-profit joint-venture with shareholders from the public and private sector. With an investment of $70m, AIF is now reaching over 2 million children in Rwanda with improved nutrition, thanks to the co-operation of smallholder farmers, governments, donors and private partners. AIF purchases locally grown staple crops from more than 24,000 smallholder farmers, mostly women, at prices that guarantee a predictable income. The crops are processed at AIF’s factory in Kigali and distributed to the entire country. An independent study conducted by the University of Chicago estimates that from 2016 to 2031, AIF will generate $756m for the people of Rwanda. After two years of successful operation, this is the time to replicate this model across the continent.

B: Profiled WEF Africa sessions taking place on Wednesday

View the Programme here. A live feed for each session will be available.

C: WEF Africa reports

  1. Africa E-commerce Agenda: roadmap for action. E-commerce in Africa is well underway, but it has potential to grow, creating new jobs and driving sustainable development. E-commerce stakeholders from within and beyond the continent have put together an action agenda to overcome the challenges to future e-commerce growth in the region. Goals and recommended next steps are identified in eight areas (pdf): Refresh policies, Expand connectivity, Upgrade logistics, Enable e-payments, Manage data, Grow tech, Coach small business, Join forces.

  2. The Sub-Saharan Africa risks landscape. This paper comes as dynamic global and regional factors are affecting countries across sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to rising geopolitical and geo-economic frictions, the effects of climate change are becoming dangerously pronounced. These risks have manifested amid significant and ongoing political transition on the continent. The analysis draws on data from the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Perception Survey 2018-2019, which polled experts and decision-makers around the world. The analysis also uses responses (pdf) from the Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey 2018, which polled business leaders in 34 sub-Saharan countries. The combined insights are necessary in a time of immense complexity when risks – particularly environmental and macroeconomic – are spanning national and regional boundaries.


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