“Africans Must Throw Out the Boxes that Have Caged Them.”

“Africans Must Throw Out the Boxes that Have Caged Them.”

KIGALI, Rwanda, June 11, 2018/ — The Africa Innovation Summit (AIS) closed on Friday with a resonating call to action addressed to innovators, government leaders, private sector, civil society and academia: “Let us throw out the boxes that have caged us”. The overwhelming view of the Summit was that in order to nurture, empower and propel African innovators and their solutions forward, a multi-sectorial and multi-stakeholder approach must be taken to ensure policies, investments and enabling ecosystems are put in place to support African innovation without apology or hesitation.

Some of the Summit’s themes, which were explored in action-oriented workshops from 6-8 June 2018, included the following, to mention a few:

Gender and Building Innovation Ecosystems in Africa
Civil Society and NGO’s and Innovation
Meeting the Basics: Water-Energy-Food Nexus
The Future of Health Care & Societal Wellbeing
The Future of Peace & Justice
Blockchain: Applications to Development Finance
“Jobs and Value” in the Age of Automation & Demographic Shifts
Innovation Lab: Innovating into a low(er) Carbon African future
African Cities: Meeting Basic Needs and Ensuring Balance
Mobilizing Domestic Resources to Fund Innovation
Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, former Vice President for Africa at the World Bank, shared her view: “ If Africa accepted that people have to be at the centre, then we would be confronted with the fact that Africa’s people problem is a productivity problem. And this productivity problem is an innovation issue. We need an upheaval and people in government who can overturn the old way of doing things.”

Speaking about the role of government, Mr Carlos Lopes, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said: “It is not a question of knowing what is right but doing what is right. We need to be tough with our leaders. It is a pre-condition for change. We have a wave of transformation in Africa. There is political will to translate Africa’s dreams into practical tools. We need to harness our negative energy and change it into dynamism.”

From 600 applications of the 44 countries, a selected group of 50 innovators had a unique opportunity to engage stakeholders in discussing potential solutions to some of the blockages that are preventing solutions from going to scale.

Lowell Scarr, one of the 50 innovators at AIS 2018, has been studying and working in the insect industry, and is currently living in Grahamstown in South Africa. His innovation, Nambu, proposes a solution by bridging challenges in the Agriculture and Food Security sector. Nambu transforms food waste into animal feed as “30% of the food is wasted in South Africa” and there is an “increase in animal feed shortage”. Scarr said that the biggest challenges he encountered as an innovator was being able to “overcome fear and getting it done”, adding that it is not always about the lack of financial resources but more about “finding the time to do it and getting into the right mind-set”.

Francis Nderitu Mwangi, top 50 innovator with his solution, Vakava Quickgold, which provides unbreakable cold chains in agriculture from post-harvest to the last mile by storing cold energy in dry ice batteries that do not need to rely on any external power sources, outlined one of the challenges innovators face in Africa: “I feel like there’s some sort of discrimination towards the local innovators. Our own African investors tend to invest in foreign innovations. There are also infrastructure issues, as rural Africa does not have good connectivity and is therefore not able to receive our network.”

AIS 2018 focused on innovative and disruptive solutions to the major challenges facing African countries, which include energy access, water, food insecurity, health systems, and governance. As a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and actions, AIS is Africa’s only summit on innovation that seeks to foster action-driven dialogue between African innovators and stakeholders in Government, private sector, civil society and academia to ensure African solutions are concretely given the opportunity to scale in a measurable way. The summit has also created a community of innovators that will not only meet to dialogue on solutions but also create ecosystems that will enable them to share ideas and network beyond the summit.

In his final call to action, Dr. Olugbenga Adesida, co-Director of AIS, calls for a bolder imagination about the future by Africans and a sense of urgency around Africa’s transformation. He noted that innovation is a pre-requisite for Africa’s transformation and that all stakeholders must engage to facilitate greater collaboration. Africa must ensure greater self-reliance by mobilizing domestic funding to promote innovation and support our innovators; The future belongs to them. We must build robust ecosystems for innovation in our respective countries on the continent. Africa cannot simply be consumers, nor can it outsource its development. We all must engage with a new sense of urgency to facilitate change!

The presence of the Top 50 African Innovators in Kigali was made possible by the sponsorship of the European Union Commission. Other key partners and sponsors included the Government of Rwanda, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Government of Luxemburg, NEPAD Agency, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), Afreximbank, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), YAS (UNDP & Accenture), Usawa.io, BADEA, PATH, International IDEA, OIF Ethiopia Airlines and Turkish Airlines.

Global Business Of Secondhand Clothes Thrive In Africa

Global Business Of Secondhand Clothes Thrive In Africa

On NewsPaper – Africa

It’s big business

Heaps of clothes, scorching heat and choking dust, hawkers chanting prices, competing for the attention of shoppers, who haggle to get as many clothes at the lowest cost possible. In crowded markets and on sidewalks of African towns and cities, shoppers can turn up Tommy Hilfiger jeans or a Burberry jacket for a fraction of the price in London’s Regent Street or New York’s Fifth Avenue.

It is a common scene across Africa, with Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Benin, Uganda and Kenya among the biggest markets for second hand clothes.  These secondhand clothes, discarded as worthless at charity shops or thrift stores in Europe or the United States and then shipped thousands of miles to another continent, provide clothing to many on a continent of 1 billion where economies may be growing but many Africans struggle to get by.

Kenya alone imports about 100,000 tonnes of secondhand clothes a year, providing the government revenues from customs duties and creating tens of thousands of jobs. It also offers quality clothes to Kenyans, many of whom earn less in a month what a pair of new Ralph Lauren khakis costs in the West.

What fuels it?

While the market is fuelled by the affordability of its products, it only really took off when liberalisation policies introduced in the late 80s and early 90s ushered in a new age of competition in local garments industries.  Until the 1980s, high tariffs protected home grown garment and other businesses.  Then economic liberalization programmes, backed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, started taking hold in Kenya and elsewhere. Tariffs were lowered and local factories had to contend with new competition. Many failed and shut.  Second hand clothes filled the gap, and while alternatives were introduced in the form of new clothes from China, complaints of poor quality played in favor of the used clothes.

How does it work?

The route from donor to new owner, described by officials, exporters, wholesalers, traders and academics, takes the used clothes halfway around the world with the money made at each point racking up to a multi-million dollar global business.  Charity or thrift shops in the West sift donated items, often keeping just a quarter of the items. The rest are sold to exporters for up to 90 U.S. cents a kg, then wrapped in 45-kg bales and packed in containers – a standard 40-foot container holds about 550 bales, equivalent to about 25 tonnes of clothes.  Customs agents collect duties at different African ports, charging each container, while city revenue officials also charge informal hawkers and shops selling secondhand clothes.


Critics of the industry argue that Africa cannot hope to build its own industry when it is flooded with cheap imports.  Indeed, Rwanda is currently involved in a diplomatic tussle with the United States, after it banned the importation of second hand clothes into the country.  The United States responded by suspending Rwanda from enjoying benefits of the AGOA trade program which gives eligible sub-Saharan countries duty-free access to the United States in exchange for eliminating barriers to U.S. trade and investment, among others.

The ban was agreed by leaders of the East African Community, but Rwanda implemented the ban alone, after Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania succumbed to pressure and chose the economic benefits that accrue under AGOA.  Rajeev Arora, executive director of the African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation says up to 85 percent of Kenya’s textile plants had closed since the early 1990s, while cotton output was a tenth of 1990s levels.

And thus, Africa which has countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Togo and Uganda as producers of cotton, the raw material from which clothes are made, remains one of the places where the sale of second hand clothing is thriving!  Other experts however say it was not the used clothing imports that drove factories out of business, but inefficient production.  The informal nature of much of the trade makes it difficult to estimate precise numbers, though researchers and officials suggest it may employ hundreds of thousands.  Many banks have however recognised the opportunity that this business presents, with many setting up branches in the vicinity of such markets to serve the traders.

Ugandan Scientist Scoops Award at Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering in Kigali, Rwanda

Ugandan Scientist Scoops Award at Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering in Kigali, Rwanda

KIGALI, Rwanda, March 30, 2018/ — Dr. Justus Masa, a Ugandan Lecturer at Kyambogo University and Senior Group Leader of Electrocatalysis and Energy at Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany is among the 17 NEF Fellow award winners at this year’s Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering in Kigali, Rwanda. The event currently taking place at Kigali Convention Centre is running from 26 th to 28 th March, 2018.

The NEF fellows programme is a two year programme which recognizes and awards Africa’s young scientists, innovators and technologists. The 2017/2019 winners emerged from Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Niger, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Guinea, DRC, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Ghana, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, and Mali. The strategic objective of NEF Community of Scientists includes, harnessing the benefits of science and innovation to influence policy, education, training, leadership, research excellence, funding, and collaboration. Of these scientists, innovators and emerging leaders, 40% are women. NEF fellows or Ambassadors participate in campaigns and events to encourage young people to pursue scientific careers and drive research-based incubators and start-ups.

The High profile function was graced by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and H.E Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal who were panelists noting that prioritizing science and innovation can lead to economic development. In his remarks, President Kagame used the history of Rwanda and how the government zeroed on the ecosystem of investing in ICT in the early 2000s when every sector was in shambles but the country has seen the dividends from that investment especially with regards to the people-centered approach they undertook (human capacity development).

He informed that many of the young scientists, almost 80% they sent abroad in the 2000s have returned home and are currently the driving force of innovation, research and development in both government and the private sector. The approach to empower women and girls has helped to bridge the education imbalance gap. He further informed that between 15% to 17% of their GDP is geared towards education and health.

President Macky Sall noted that they envisage NEF becoming a yearly event bringing together African Heads of State to support science and innovation to enhance development in Africa like the recently concluded Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Among the Next Einstein Initiatives is the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences(AIMS) which is Africa’s first and biggest pan African network of centres for postgraduate training, research and public engagement in mathematical sciences. It operates centres in South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Minister Davies Emphasises the Significance of the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to Africa’s Development

Minister Davies Emphasises the Significance of the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to Africa’s Development

PRETORIA, South Africa, March 27, 2018/ — The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies today (March 26, 2018) briefed the media on the outcomes the African Continent Free Trade Area (CFTA) by the African Union Extraordinary Summit that took place in Kigali, Rwanda on 21 March 2018. Minister Davies reiterated the importance of the AfCFTA to Africa’s development.

“The AfCFTA will boost intra-Africa trade and create a bigger market of over 1 billion people with a GDP of $2.6 trillion that will unlock industrial development” said Davies. He emphasised that for the AfCFTA to have broader benefits it has to be complemented by cooperation on industrial and infrastructure development which are key components of the development integration approach. This will ensure that the African continent addresses the productive and supply-side constraints.

Furthermore, he stated that the AfCFTA is an economic imperative to address the challenge of small and fragmented markets. It is also being established at a time when the multilateral trading system is facing challenges.

Minister Davies attended an Informal WTO Ministers Meeting on 19 and 20 March 2018 in New Delhi, India. He emphasised that Africa’s overriding economic objectives are to advance integration and industrialisation across the continent in line with Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

“We seek the policy space to pursue these objectives, and the WTO should enable their achievement or at a minimum not impede them,” said Davies.

Minister Davies also briefed the media about South Africa’s position regarding the Section 232 investigation by the United States of America (U.S.) on steel and aluminium products. President Donald Trump has signed Proclamations to impose a 10 percent ad valorem tariff on imports of aluminium articles and a 25 percent ad valorem tariff on imports of steel articles alleging that imports of these products threaten to impair US national security.

He reiterated SA’s concern that some of the tariff lines included in the Proclamations are covered under Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and the General System of Preferences and the application of duties will erode the benefits under these preferential arrangements. He emphasised South Africa does not a pose a threat to US national security and to the US steel and aluminium industries but is a source of strategic primary and secondary products used in further value added manufacturing in the US contributing to job creation in both countries.

Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank Group: “Accelerating Africa’s industrialization”

Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank Group: “Accelerating Africa’s industrialization”

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 23, 2018/ — The 53rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank and 44th Meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Fund, the concessional arm of the Bank Group, are scheduled to take place from May 21-25, 2018 in Busan, Korea.

While Africa has enjoyed strong economic growth for almost two decades, the continent has not seen a commensurate rise in industrialization. On average, African industry generates merely US$700 of GDP per capita, which is barely a fifth in East Asia (US$3,400). In addition, African exports consist of low technology manufactures and unprocessed natural resources, which represent more than 80 percent of exports from Algeria, Angola or Nigeria, for example.

Africa’s rapid industrialization holds the potential for a win-win scenario – for the world, and certainly for the continent. It would also help raise productivity by spurring technological progress and innovation while creating higher-skilled jobs in the formal sector; promote linkages between services and agricultural sectors; between rural and urban economies; and among consumers, intermediates and capital goods industries. Industrialization will also make the prices of manufactured exports less volatile or susceptible to long-term deterioration than those of primary goods, as well as help African countries escape dependence on primary commodity exports.

The theme is generating a lot of interest at a time when Korean and Asian companies are increasingly active in Africa. What lessons can Africa learn from Korea’s development experience? Can relations between both regions, built on a win-win formula, enable Africa claim a more significant share of world trade? Can Afro-Asian commercial and financial ties favor the development of the African private sector? What are the most effective policy levers that could foster structural transformation on the continent? How can the continent learn from the experiences of Korea and leading African nations such as Mauritius, Morocco, Ethiopia, and Rwanda in the industrialization process? These and other questions will be debated during the Busan Annual Meetings.

The Annual Meetings are one of the largest economic gatherings on the continent. Thousands of delegates, Heads of State, public and private sectors stakeholders, development partners and academics, will reflect on Africa’s industrialization − one of the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities and an avenue to improve the living conditions of Africans.

During the meetings, the Bank will organize a series of knowledge events to generate new ideas for developing and financing Africa’s industrialization. Highlights of the meetings will include a high-level presidential panel on Accelerating African Industrialization: Bringing the future to the present. The panel will be a platform for political leaders from Africa and Korea to present their visions and strategies for industrialization as well as ideas for overcoming implementation challenges.

The Bank will launch the updated version of the African Economic Outlook (AEO) 2018 – the Bank’s flagship economic publication. Several knowledge events are on the programme such as Pathways to Industrialization, where panelists will deliberate on the various trajectories African countries can follow towards sustainable industrialization. A panel on Future of Work and Industrialization will examine how Africa can adapt its educational systems and workers’ skills to suit new economic realities, particularly for industrial development of the continent, among other sessions.

Journalists willing to take part in the Meetings are requested to send to the Bank a designation letter from their news organization at the following address. Upon receipt of the letter, the Bank will send a personal code that will allow online registration. Online registration will close on 13th May 2018. Journalists from countries without Korean diplomatic representation should register early enough in order to get assistance from the Bank in obtaining a visa should they need one.

The African Development Bank will not cover transport and subsistence costs for journalists travelling to Busan.