Tuesday, March 19, 2019
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The Founder of the Largest Black-Owned Fundraising Firm Has Already Raised $800 Million For His Clients

Bridge Philanthropic Consulting (BPC), the first and only full-service Black-owned fundraising firm in the U.S., has proven to also be the most prosperous after raising over a whopping $800 million for their wide range of clientele in just over two years. Dwayne Ashley, its founder and CEO, is determined to keep the streak going!
Established in November 2016 and based in New York City, BPC is committed to social justice and helping organizations of color maximize their fundraising success. It aims to help philanthropic organizations and institutions realize their dreams, accomplish their missions and grow their aspirations.

At BPC, they provide counsel in capital campaigns, annual giving, major gifts programs, special events, corporate and government program development, conference management, organizational development, board training, planned giving, and strategic communications.

“Yes, we are good at what we do because it’s our passion, but BPC is a social movement — a community of caring and dedicated philanthropy executives from diverse backgrounds serving communities who need fundraising expertise the most,” Ashley says.

With his bold moves, strategic thinking, and wise counsel, Ashley advises non-profit, philanthropists, and influencers around the world such as the 100 Black Men of America, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the UNCF, Louis Armstrong Foundation, Steve Harvey Foundation, Madonna, Usher, Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, and New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Ashley was inspired by his great-grand mother’s philanthropic works such as donating the land where one of the oldest schools that educated Black students was established. Since then, he exercised his passion for fundraising when he started to join several organizations including the Association of Fundraising Professionals since 1991 where he has served as a member of the Boards of its Philadelphia and New York Chapters.

Moreover, Ashley, a graduate of Wiley College and the University of Pennsylvania’s Fel’s School of Government, has also shared his concepts in several articles and books, including Eight Steps to Raising Money: Measuring Your Fundraising Impact and I’ll Find A Way or Make One: A Tribute to HBCUs among others.

For more information about Bridge Philanthropic Consulting, visit www.bridgephilanthropicconsulting.com

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European Commission appoints Roberta Annan on High Level Steering Committee on Culture and Creativity

Roberta Annan has been selected by the European Commission to join a High Level Steering Committee in an International Colloquium on Culture and Creativity.

The conference which comes off on June 16-17 is a key path of inclusive development, innovation and peace. It is scheduled to take place at the Palias des Beaux Arts (BOZAR)  in Brussels in partnership with the EEAS, EU member states and the association of their national intitutues for culture (EUNIC) UNESCO and cultural professional associations from all over the world.

The Committee of experts is being set up in order to discuss, inspire and endorse the content and main outcomes of the Colloquium.

“We are aware of your experience and knowledge in this sector, I would be honoured to welcome you as a member of a selected group of thinkers, academics, artists, writers and culture operators who will take an active part in the Steering Committee.

“I believe your presence would provide an invaluable contribution to a successful outcome of this international event,” a letter from the Commission signed by Stefano Manservisi said.

Roberta Annan is an award-winning business woman with several leadership awards such as ‘20 under 40 Influential Business Leaders in Ghana’, ‘Feminine Ghana Achievement Award’, ‘Woman 2.1 Summit Award’ 50 Most Influential Young Ghanaians and”40 under 40” business leaders in Ghana. Her work  has been featured in Forbes, Vogue, Huffington Post and many other media outlets.

She was the youngest African to be inducted into the African Leadership Hall of Fame and is part of the Young Leaders Circle for Milken Institute as well as a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO).

Roberta has lived and worked on four continents. Studying at Georgetown University, Annan holds a Masters degree in Biotechnology.

Roberta is the Managing Partner of Roberta Annan Capital Partners (RACP), a sector agnostic specialized boutique investment company in Sub-Saharan Africa with a portfolio of assets in hospitality, agribusiness, and sustainable luxury.

Alongside this company Roberta founded RAC a subsidiary of RACP, which focuses on advisory and business development.

She is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Impact Fund For African Creatives (IFFAC) – a 100 million Euro fund that invests in creative businesses across Africa, in partnership with UN- ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative.

Roberta has worked with the United Nations as a consultant in resource mobilization, where she mobilized funds that created fund raising strategies to expedite the implementation of UN projects across the world.

Roberta is well recognized in her field and is a Senior Market Liaison for Fieldstone.

During her career Roberta has formed partnerships with LJ Partnership a ‘Multi Family’ office with $13 billion assets under its management.

Roberta is an avid philanthropist and is passionate about women’s development opportunities’ across Africa, starting the African Fashion Fund (AFF) in 2014. The Fund is an incubator to support talented designers from Africa.

This year’s event follows on the results of the first International Colloquium of 2009 and aims to mobilise professionals, artists and private sector from Europe and its partner countries.

This gave them the opportunity to discuss promote the role of culture and creative industries as enablers of social innovation and engine for sustainable and inclusive development.

The Committee will meet twice, first Meeting was on March 13-14 and the second will be during the Colloquium itself in June.

The event will precede The European Development Days, giving the High Level Steering Committee the opportunity to present a manifesto of recommendations to be included in the EU’s External Policy and to position culture and creativity as an important player in the economic development discussions.

Ms. Annan’s role will be to define and recommend innovative finance strategies that can be adopted and key partners and players that can be implementers.


Source: Prince Akpah

Eight things you can do to stand and fight against corruption

The United Nations estimates that every year $1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated $2.6 trillion are stolen annually through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5 per cent of the global GDP.Corruption is the acquisition of personal benefit through dishonest or unethical conduct by a person in a position of authority. Examples include bribery and embezzlement.

December 9 is observed as International Anti-Corruption Day. The UN has listed eight things you can do to stand and fight against corruption.

Ratify and enact the UN Convention against Corruption: Countries that successfully attack corruption are far more legitimate in the eyes of their citizens, creating stability and trust.

Know what Convention requires of your government and its officials: Rooting out corruption allows social and economic development.

Educate the public about the government’s responsibility to be corruption-free: Equal and fair justice for all is a crucial element for a country’s stability and growth. It also helps to effectively fight crime.

Raise awareness with the public, media and government about the costs of corruption for key services such as health and education: All of society benefits from functioning basic services.

Engage the youth of your country about what ethical behaviour is, what corruption is and how to fight it, and to demand their right to education: Ensuring that future generations of citizens are brought up to expect corruption-free countries is one of the best tools to ensure a brighter future.

Report incidents of corruption: Create an environment where the rule of law prevails.

Refuse to participate in any activities that are not legal and transparent: Increases both domestic and foreign investment. Everyone is more willing to invest in countries when they see that funds are not being siphoned off into the pockets of corrupt officials.

Foster economic stability by enforcing zero-tolerance practices towards corruption: A transparent and open business community is a cornerstone of any strong democracy.

The Role of Gender Diversity in Securing the Future of African Businesses

In line with this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, “Balance for Better,” global human resources consulting firm, Mercer is committed to creating a balanced approach that caters to the health, wealth and careers of both male and female employees.
Gender balance is essential for communities and economies to thrive. As a matter of fact, companies that hire women across all levels enjoy a more collaborative culture and improved productivity. Teach a woman, feed a village is a testament to the influence women have to drive change and create opportunities for the benefit of a wider community.
This is why progress for women in 2019 and beyond is hinged on gender-specific policies and programmes. Some of which include equity pay and benefits, alongside national and international domestic violence laws.
However, besides creating a more conducive environment supported by these policies, Lerato Tsolo, HR Partner at Mercer points out that “we still have a long way to go.”
In the 2018 annual Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden round out the top five that promote female advancement, while the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chad, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen make up the bottom. 
Iceland is the first country in the world to make pay inequality illegal. According to a CNN report, companies who fail to prove pay equality will be fined close to $500 a day provided the gap continues to exist. Not only is this an important stride in terms of a global outlook, but it also shows that Iceland is clearly advancing as an economy.
But even though the Global Gender Gap Report also indicates that it could take over 20 decades for women to earn as much as men, and have equal representation in the workplace, they remain vital contributors towards building thriving businesses and societies. As such, companies will offer a more unique value proposition in securing their tomorrow. One way of achieving this is to include health benefits and financial wellbeing solutions as a holistic employee proposition while considering that diverse segments of the workforce will require tailored solutions.
Across the world, particularly in Africa, not enough is being done to ensure that these needs are met. As highlighted in Mercer’s People First Emerging Megacities reportApproaching cities like Nairobi and Lagos rank low across these four dimensions- human, health, money and work.
To address this imbalance means designing benefits, education, and retirement plans in companies that adapt to specific needs. This simply means that organizations need to offer innovative programs customized for different gender behaviours.
“Diversity is our nature, inclusion is our choice. Value is created when an environment is shaped to embrace unique views across gender, ethnicity and age future of work is mainly about sparking connections, building an environment that promotes a coherent sense of identity,” said Nicol Mullins, Principal Leader -Career Business at Mercer South Africa. He also emphasizes the need to embrace one another and realize that together is better.
Mercer’s 2018 Gender Inflection report has found that women are better represented in organizations that view women’s health as critical to developing and retaining women and that offer targeted programs, including gender-specific health education campaigns and parental leave. Efforts to improve financial wellness can also help mitigate the risk that productivity is being lost to time spent worrying about finances while at work.
The current landscape and dynamics of gender diversity provide a unique opportunity and platform for organizations to make strides. But while the overall progress towards diversity in the workplace may be a long one, every organization that considers inclusion as a strategy to drive.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Mercer Africa.

About Mercer 
Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 22,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies(NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With nearly 65,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $14 billion, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. Marsh & McLennan Companies  is also the parent company of Marsh, which advises individual and commercial clients of all sizes on insurance broking and innovative risk management solutions; Guy Carpenter, which develops advanced risk, reinsurance and capital strategies that help clients grow profitably and pursue emerging opportunities; and Oliver Wyman, which serves as a critical strategic, economic and brand advisor to private sector and governmental clients. For more information, visit www.mercer-africa.com. Follow Mercer on LinkedIn Mercer Africa.
Media Contact:
Zwile Nkosi
+27 66 483 8974

Top 4 African Restaurants in the U.S. According to Us

African restaurant

African restaurants in the U.S. have recently garnered recognition on a national level. Celebrate African cuisine at some of the most famous restaurants in the U.S.
1. Yassa African Restaurant
Chicago, Illinois

Owners Madieye and Awa Gueye are bringing Senegalese cuisine to Chicago with extended arms and gracious smiles. On the walls hang pieces of their heritage, including bright murals and African prints. Their restaurant feels like home to anyone who enters, even though the cuisine is anything but ordinary. The menu has been prepared with care by Awa and features her most beloved Senegalese dishes, such as Tiebu Djen, which includes fish, rice, and tomato sauce. Fufu, a popular side dish, is made from pounding cassava and unripe plantains until they form a dough. It’s usually eaten as a side along with meat or to mop up thick sauces.

2. Karoo Restaurant
Eastham, Massachusetts

Servers wear t-shirts with the slogan “From Cape Town to Cape Cod”, reminding chef Sanette Groenewald of her long journey from South Africa to Massachusetts. The outside of her restaurant, Karoo, features warm, bright orange paint and proudly displays the South African flag. Inside, the bright smells of unusual aromas clue you into Sanette’s origins. People return time and time again to experience a foreign world full of distinctly South African dishes such as chakalaka – an African vegetable dish – and others like paps & wors, a sausage and porridge dish. The creative menu also features uncommon meats like wild boar, antelope, and even camel.

3. The Shebeen Pub & Braai
Charlottesville, Virginia

Walter Theo Xavier Slawski spent his childhood roaming the rivers and agrarian tundra of Zimbabwe. After he received a degree in economics from the University of Virginia, he opened The Shebeen Pub & Braai to pay homage to his South African Roots. Their brunch menu is a hit, and their lunch and dinner spreads are also mouth-watering. Their vegetarian sadza cakes are cheesy and rich and served with kale and butternut squash. Carnivores can enjoy boerewors burgers and Camps Bay Calamari.

4. Injera
New York City, New York

Teff, a grain popular in Ethiopia, is the main component of their nation’s staple flatbread – Injera. Injera is synonymous with Ethiopian cuisine, which means expectations at this restaurant are high. Injera opened in the spring of 2014 and offers diners an authentic Ethiopian experience. Popular dishes served here are tibs – beef cubes sautéed in butter, hot peppers, onion, and garlic in the favored spice blend of the country, berbere.

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4 Ways to Bring Mentorship to Life at Your Company


Mentors and mentees alike agree that mentorship is an effective way to learn. So why, according to the Association for Talent Development, do just 29 percent of workers have access to a formal mentoring program?

The trouble, unfortunately, is that many companies see mentorship as a private matter. Despite the fact that ATD’s survey showed that nearly six in 10 talent development professionals think mentoring achieves development goals, the most common type of workplace mentoring is informal. At those organizations, mentoring relationships tend to be unstructured, inconsistent, and less accessible.

Especially in today’s cutthroat talent environment, companies can’t afford not to invest in robust mentoring programs. LinkedIn data published last year showed that 94 percent of employees would stay with a company longer if it invested in their training and development. Formal mentoring creates more valuable employees, less turnover, and stronger team relationships.

Make More of Mentoring

How, exactly, do firms create mutually beneficial mentorship programs? To bring mentorship to life at your company:

1. Focus on the fit.

For better or worse, the way we like to learn heavily influences the way we teach. Before pairing mentors and mentees, sort them by their preferred learning style. Nonprofit Education Planner offers a free self-assessment tool that, while geared toward school-age students, works for the workplace as well.

In addition to learning styles, consider individual chemistry. The Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship, which provides teenagers with entrepreneurial education via its CEO program, matches community leaders with students through a “speed dating” activity. Mentors and students then list their top three matches, ensuring each participant is paired with someone he or she wants to be around.

2. Encourage affinity groups.

One of the greatest misconceptions about mentoring is that it only works with one-on-one relationships. But social learners, in particular, learn best from like-minded communities. What’s more, affinity groups give participants practice in both mentor and mentee roles, which can help workers in traditional mentoring relationships relate better to their counterpart.

International consultancy Bain & Company is a major proponent of this type of mentorship. Company-sponsored groups like Blacks at Bain, Women at Bain, Veterans at Bain, and LGBTQ group BGLAD provide their members with resources, connections, and professional development opportunities above and beyond what many junior-level employees would otherwise receive.

3. Include external hires.

More than one-fifth of jobs in America are now held by contingent workers, according an NPR/Marist poll published last year. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers may well make up half of the U.S. workforce. Even more than traditional office workers, those individuals need access to the training and connections that peer mentorship provides.

Whenever possible, pair internal and external team members. Ent Credit Union does so with EntRANCE, a two-year initiative that gives participants experience with the lending side of its business. The program helps Ent’s full-time team collaborate more effectively with its contractors, while external team members gain skills in consumer lending, business analytics, and leadership. What’s more, Ent’s leaders who participate in the program help contractors map out their career path.

4. Make executive participation mandatory.

Whether they intend to or not, executives shape company culture through their choices and actions. When workers see leaders participating in a program, they perceive it as a company priority. By making time for mentorship, executives motivate others to do the same.

Particularly at large companies, where mentorship programs tend to be logistically difficult and cultures slow to change, executive buy-in is essential. Although Boeing has 50,000 employees, its rotational mentorship program has been around for years because participants are paired with a senior- or executive-level leader. For terms of roughly two years, participants get to experience work life in the defense firm’s business, engineering, HR, or IT departments.

Mentoring programs might not be sexy investments, but their importance can’t be overstated. Not only do they cost less than compensation increases, formal trainings, and workspace improvements, but they strengthen the company across multiple dimensions. More engaged employees, better rapport between teams, and less turnover make mentorships a winning way to learn.


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This 11-Year Old Entrepreneur Has Her Own Brand of Organic Dog Treats

Ava Dorsey, founder of Ava's Pet Palace

All her life, Ava Dorsey, an 11-year old from Chicago, has exhibited tremendous creativity and drive, and now she is expanding her career as an ambitious “kidpreneur”. She has spent a great deal of time and energy launching her organic dog treat business, Ava’s Pet Palace.
Unlike most dog treats that you find in stores, these dog treats are made in small batches, are 100% organic, and are non-GMO. Ava has set a mission for herself with these dog treats, and she wants every treat to be health, tasty, and top-quality.

Those are the goals that she has set for herself with every package of Ava’s Pet Palace dog treats, which she currently sells through www.AvasPetPalace.com.

Her available flavors include:

* Cheeze Pleeze Bites – made from oat flour, brown rice flour, cheese, and eggs

* Minty Woof Poppers – made from oat flour, brown rice flour, unsweetened applesauce, mint and parsley

* Peanutty Paw Cookies – made from oat flour, brown rice flour, bananas, peanut butter and cinnamon

* Bingo’s Banana and Oat Medley – made from oat flour, brown rice flour, bananas, cinnamon, and eggs

Her entire family have looked on in awe as Ava has pushed forward with this business idea, determined to make it work in a way that other people two, three, even four times her age would not be. She is a special girl, and we want to do everything we can to support her in her endeavors.

Her future goals

Long-term, Ava plans on turning Ava’s Pet Palace into a household brand, one that people recognize immediately. Her long-term treat goals include creating new freeze-dried dog treats and to add a small variety of cat treats. She has operated Ava’s Pet Palace for over three years thus far, and is already showing great promise to achieve her ultimate goal of becoming a veterinarian with her own pet palace!

If you couldn’t tell, Ava absolutely loves animals, but she also loves slime, swimming and her two little sisters that she sets out to be a good role model for.

For more details about Ava’s Pet Palace and/or to make a purchase, visit www.AvasPetPalace.com or follow her on Facebook @AvasPetPalace

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11-Year Old Boy Who Crochets Goes Viral and Lands Major Book Deal!

Jonah Larson, crochet prodigy and author

Jonah Larson, an 11-year old prodigy from Wisconsin who was recently featured in La Crosse Tribune for his outstanding crocheting skills, has just signed a major book deal after his story went  viral.
The book titled Hello, Crochet Friends! Making Art, Being Mindful, Giving Back: Do What Makes You Happy, which will be co-authored by Larson’s mother with photos by Erin Harris, will be released on July 23, 2019 but can be pre-ordered now on Amazon!

How he got started

When he was just 5-years old, Jonah would watch YouTube videos trying to teach himself how to crochet. Since then, he creates blankets, table runners, mittens, and other products he crocheted and sells them through his business, Jonah’s Hands. With some of his earnings, Larson, who was adopted from Ethiopia as an infant, regularly donates to the orphanage from where he was adopted.

Moreover, Jonah also maintains an Instagram account which now has over 130,000 followers and counting. He can be seen there crocheting with Senator Tammy Baldwin and others. His YouTube channel, where he does tutorials and such, has over 25,000 subscribers.

Why the book deal is such a big deal

Jonah became widely known since the initial article about him went viral. He received several offers of appearing on television interviews, including Good Morning America and other national outlets. He even had to turn down an appearance on Ellen due to the overwhelming schedule.

After receiving several offers from huge publishing houses, Jonah’s mother, Jennifer Larson, decided to accept a book deal from Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based KWiL Publishing.

The book will tackle everything from Jonah’s personal life and crocheting experiences up to the broader aspects of crocheting. Although the book cover appears to be like children’s books, it is made to be a book for all ages. A book tour for Larson is on the works as well.

KWiL Publishing Founder and President/Publisher Abby Nies Janowiec shared how excited she is with the book. She told Forbes, “I wanted to help get Jonah’s story into the hands of young readers. He offers so much inspiration to young people — how to make beautiful things, be mindful, and give back — all while doing something you love.”

Follow Jonah on Instagram @jonahhands

Watch him in action below:


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Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study identifies four top trends shaping the future of work 


According to Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study, over three-quarters (78%) of executives in South Africa predict significant disruption in the next three years, compared to 28% in 2018. As executives focus on making their organizations “future-fit”, significant human capital risks – including the ability to close the skills gap and overcome employee change fatigue – can impede transformation progress. Addressing these concerns is paramount, given that only one-quarter of executives rate their company’s ability to mitigate human capital risks as very effective.

“In recent years, organizations have shifted towards actively laying the groundwork for the future of their businesses. However, they also risk confusing people with a lot of changes, brushing aside core principals people admire and overwhelming them with different procedures,” said Nicol Mullins, Principal Leader – Career Business at Mercer South Africa.
In today’s climate of uncertainty, employees seek stability. Mercer’s study finds that job security is the top reason employees in South Africa joined their company, and the main reason they stay. Yet, one in two employees are concerned that AI and automation will replace their job. The way to help employees feel secure is to foster human connections. Thriving employees (those prospering in the areas of health, wealth, and career) are twice as likely to describe their work environment as “collaborative.”
“Connectivity is not only vital in building an environment for today’s workforce to thrive, but it is also important for the future of work. The experience is then personalized through the use of data,” said Mullins.
Mercer’s study identifies four top trends that leading companies are pursuing in 2019: Aligning Work to Future Value, Building Brand Resonance, Curating the Work Experience, and Delivering Talent-led Change.
Aligning Work to Future Value. AI and automation continue to transform the competitive landscape – 53% of companies in South Africa plan to automate more work in the next 12 months. At the same time, the C-suite names job redesign as the area of talent investment with the highest potential for return on investment, and 60% of employees prefer more clearly defined responsibilities. The challenge for HR is to build an integrated people strategy (an approach already deployed by 26% of South Africa’s high-growth companies, compared to none of the moderate-growth firms) and leverage the right talent analytics to inform decisions on the future size and shape of the organization – yet only one in five companies have good insights into the business impact of their buy, build, borrow, and automate strategies. “The key is aligning jobs and people to where value is being created, and enabling a mechanism to reward future-fit skills and behaviors,” said Ms. Bravery.
Building Brand Resonance. What matters to employees and job seekers is the way a company conducts business and upholds the values of its brand. In a social, transparent world, the lines are blurring between a company’s consumer brand and its talent value proposition (TVP). Successful companies ensure that their brand resonates with all workforce segments (such as contingent workers) – something two in five companies in South Africa are already on the journey to doing by tailoring their TVP to different groups. An organization’s total rewards philosophy is one area where brand values can shine: Thriving employees are seven times more likely to work for a company that ensures equity in pay and promotion decisions (75% vs. 10%).
Curating the Work Experience. An effective and relevant day-to-day work experience is essential for retaining top talent. According to Mercer’s study, thriving employees in South Africa are two times more likely to work for an organization that enables quick decision-making (80% vs. 37%) and that provides tools and resources for them to do their job efficiently (82% vs. 43%). Personalized career planning information is particularly important- 79% of employees state that having adequate access to career path information and options is critical to their success. Technology plays a pivotal role here – high-growth firms in South Africa are three times more likely to be already providing employees with a fully digital experience, or be close to doing so, as moderate-growth firms.
Delivering Talent-led Change. To ensure talent is at the center of change, HR should have a voice in business transformation. This year’s study found 61% of HR leaders in South Africa involved in executing major change projects. But, only one in three HR leaders participated in the idea generation stage of transformation initiatives. HR sees employee morale as a significant barrier to making changes stick: “Two of the top five challenges in the coming years include “change resistance” and a “decline in employee trust.” Both factors emphasize the need for a more people focused design, alongside ways to better understand how people receive change,” concluded Mullins.
Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends studyshares insights from over 7,300 senior business executives, HR leaders, and employees from nine key industries and 16 geographies around the world. To download the report, visit click here
Distributed by African Media Agency on behalf of  Mercer.

Beyond boundaries: the impact of free trade and technology on Africa’s accelerating economic development

Sweetcorn harvesting with tractor and trailor. --- Image by © Ocean/Corbis

When the Africa Continental Free Trade Area is implemented this year, it will create a single market for goods and services for the first time in the continent’s history. The agreement will cover a geographic area with a combined GDP of $3.2-trillion and a population of 1.2 billion people. It has the potential to drastically accelerate economic growth and exceed the African Development Bank’s current estimates for GDP growth from $1.7-trillion in 2010 to more than $15-trillion by 2060.

This has the potential to shift Africa from being an aid-dependent continent to becoming an investment-dependent continent. According to the Brookings Institute, African foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows accounted for only 2.9% of total global FDI inflows in 2017, compared to the 49.8% share for developed economies, and 10.6% for Latin America and the Caribbean. A continental super bloc has the potential of creating an attractive value proposition for investors who are dealing with the fallout from Brexit, a US-China tariff war and a global economy that is falling short of projected growth targets.

For African governments, businesses and citizens, the prospect of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has prompted widespread excitement and optimism, especially among some of Africa’s leading business and political figures. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said: “Speaking with one voice as a continent will emerge as perhaps the most important provision of all for the success of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.”

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa publicly stated that “this is a free trade area that has never been seen in the world. It’s going to be the largest integrated market on the African continent, which is a clear demonstration that indeed Africa is not only on the rise, but Africa is on the move.”

With 30% of the world’s remaining mineral resources, and 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, Africa’s riches are significant to the future global economy and food security. Its youthful population could power the economies of developed nations who are facing ageing populations and declining birth rates. But challenges to unlock this immense latent potential remain.

Easing investment and industrial output

The World Economic Forum notes that manufacturing only accounts for 10% of total GDP in Africa, well below the figure in other developing regions. A continental free trade area has the potential to reduce this gap and accelerate job creation, especially among young people. By implementing exponential technologies such as AI, IoT and predictive analytics, Africa’s manufacturing sector can take a much-needed developmental leap to bring it more in line with global standards for competitiveness.

The continent’s reliance on agriculture – which according to some estimates accounts for 60% of all jobs – could also lead to greater regional coordination to ensure produce matches market demands. There is also the promise of greater efficiency brought by technology. Recent initiatives aimed at equipping farmers with greater access to the agricultural value chain, improved information regarding crops, market prices, weather conditions and farming best practice through a mobile application integrated to a digital core, have seen tremendous success.

Sweetcorn harvesting with tractor and trailor. Image by © Ocean/Corbis

In Nigeria, a public-private partnership between CBI Nigeria and SAP integrated 850 000 small maize producers into the agricultural value chain and equipped unemployed graduates with a technology platform that gives farmers access to farming inputs, telephone credit, banking services and more. Efforts are underway to expand the programme to other regions and elevate the continent’s 250 million smallholder farmers.

Overcoming legacy structures

Integrating the existing regional economic communities (RECs) into the AfCFTA is no small task. The African Union currently plays host to no less than eight recognised RECs (some of which have overlapping memberships) including the Arab Maghreb Union, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the East African Community, the Economic Community of Central African States, the Economic Community of West African States, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and the Southern African Development Community. Securing appropriate buy-in and commitment from each of these regional blocs will be vital in AfCFTA’s success.

Legacy infrastructure also poses a challenge, especially in terms of the effective movement of goods between countries that will form part of AfCFTA. Supply chains are the circulatory system of the global economy, but Africa’s legacy of underdevelopment has left its road, rail and ports infrastructure lacking. According to the African Development Bank, the continent’s infrastructure needs an amount of $130-billion to $170-billion per year. In 2016, only $62-billion was secured for infrastructure investment.

Ports infrastructure struggle to keep pace with global standards. While 90% of African imports and exports are driven by sea, PwC estimates that, of the 72% of global container throughput in developing nations, only 1% travels via African ports. Effective export trade from AfCFTA to other regions will require a rapid upgrade of the continent’s main trade ports. The World Bank’s recent note of appreciation regarding the progress with the Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project in Tanzania is a positive sign. The port, which is set to become Africa’s biggest, is expected to start operating early 2020.

Warehouse Workers Inspecting Products Image by, Sean Justice Corbis

The African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network project, which forms part of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, aims to repair or construct 12 000km of missing linkages to create a rail system that can support AfCFTA by linking all corners of the continent via a fast and reliable rail network. At least 20% of the pilot phase of this project is due for completion by 2023.

Integrating talent and trade

It is of course not only Africa’s manufactured goods and agricultural output that should more easily flow across the continent when the AfCFTA is implemented. It is critical that its talent – a youthful population that is expected to more than double by 2055 according to UN estimates – can move freely to access work and apply their skills to solving the continent’s most pressing challenges.

However, many countries still hinder free movement through cumbersome visa requirements. The Africa Visa Openness Report 2017, published by the African Development Bank, McKinsey & Company, and the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Africa, found that Africans need visas to travel to more than half of the other countries on the continent, with only 22% requiring no visa. While the reasons behind the stringent visa regimes are understandable – revenue generation, control over illegal immigration, monitoring migration during pandemics – it is time the continent consider establishing visa-free regional blocs similar to the Schengen area in Europe.

Business Meeting , Image by © Radius Images/Corbis

Equipping the continent’s talent with the correct skills for the digital age is no mean feat. Africa’s education system has not kept pace with the demands of the global digital economy. Skills shortages have the potential to derail efforts to build a globally competitive digital workforce. Africa’s economic growth cannot be sustained without access to the correct 21st century skills.

The past few years have seen an acceleration in public-private partnerships driving youth skills development initiatives, with millions of youth trained in basic coding skills. By fostering greater regional and continental integration, efforts to equip Africa’s youthful population with appropriate and future-fit skills could be expanded. And by bringing in the private sector, who can lend training, technology and skills development support, in-country and pan-African initiatives aimed at upskilling Africa’s youth can be accelerated as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Ramaphosa is right: Africa is on the rise and on the move. We are entering a new era of free movement, collaboration, and mutual success among all 50 African countries that will form part of AfCFTA. The question is: how do we, as technology providers, businesspeople, citizens, and policy makers, contribute to its success and build a bright future for all who call Africa home?

By Pedro Guerreiro, Managing Director: Central Africa at SAP Africa

Distributed by African Media Agency on behalf of SAP Africa.

For more information, visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews@SAPAfrica.

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