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The New Times – Rwanda
When Rwanda sensationally signed a three-year tourism agreement with popular English Premier League side Arsenal Football Club in May last year the media went into a frenzy describing the deal as a coup.
One and a half years on evidence shows that the deal has already turned out to be a game changer in Rwanda Development Board’s efforts to promote Brand Rwanda – in terms of tourism, investments and general exposure of the country to the rest of the world.
From the number of people that are now visiting the country and those who now say that Rwanda is a potential destination for them to tourism receipts and growing opportunities for local businesses, it is safe to say that the Rwanda-Arsenal partnership was a masterstroke by the Rwanda Development Board.
And so, you’d understand why social media went into overdrive when it emerged yesterday that RDB had yet again inked an even more comprehensive deal with French football powerhouse and serial winners Paris Saint-Germaine.
The lifestyle partnership will not only see the club’s men and women teams promote Rwanda on their training kit and shirts but will also see the country’s famed tea and coffee exclusively served at the club’s stadium, the famous 48000-seater Parc des Princes.
The agreement also includes promotion of a wide range of Made-in-Rwanda brands, including in fashion and arts, a development which has excited players in the local industry.
As is the case with the Arsenal deal, PSG players will also pay visits to Rwanda and help promote the country’s destinations, while the Qatari owned club will also help grow the country’s football.
Both Arsenal and PSG are huge global brands that are supported by millions around the world and whose football matches are among the most popular globally, and their partnerships with Rwanda will not leave the country the same.
In addition to investment and tourism benefits as well as exposure for local brands and attendant opportunities, greater visibility of Rwanda represents a huge boost to the country’s ambition of becoming a top Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) destination.
It’s obvious that the Return on Investment is massive for Rwanda and we can only congratulate those behind these strategic decisions and call on Rwandans, especially businesses, to strategically position themselves to make the most of the opportunities they come with.
African Development Bank Group
By: Hanan Morsy
Director, Macroeconomic Forecasting and Research at the African Development Bank Group
“There is no greater asset to Africa than its youth,” a statement that has been repeatedly proclaimed, but the continent still has a long way to go. Despite robust economic growth over the past two decades, a 1 percent increase in growth between 2000–14 was associated with only 0.41 percent growth in employment. This figure suggests that employment stood at less than 1.8 percent a year, far below the nearly 3 percent annual growth in the labor force. If this trend continues, 100 million people will join the multitudes of the unemployed in Africa by 2030.
With this in mind, researchers, youth representatives, business leaders, and policymakers have joined over 350 stakeholders in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, to significantly move the needle on youth empowerment.
The annual African Economic Conference (AEC), is jointly organized by the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Development Programme, to discuss pertinent issues affecting the continent.
The 2019 AEC is held in Egypt and hosted by the Bank on the theme; “Jobs, entrepreneurship and capacity development for African youth” and runs from 2-4 December.
Turning the youth bulge into opportunities has been the focus of the African Development Bank’s game-changing approach to job creation, entrepreneurship, and capacity development. In recognition of the crucial role that entrepreneurship plays in the creation of high-quality jobs, the Bank developed its Jobs for Youth in Africa (JfYA) Strategy (2016-2025). The Strategy aims to create 25 million jobs for African youth over the next decade as well as equipping 50 million youth with a mix of hard and soft skills to increase their employability and their entrepreneurial success rate.
The impact is already being felt. Since its launch in 2016, over $20 billion has been invested by the Bank across 318 projects. These investments are directly making a difference in the African youth skills, entrepreneurship, business development, and job creation.
In parallel and working closely with its partners, the Bank is helping strengthen entrepreneurship ecosystems in Africa. The flagship Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund (YEI MDTF) program provides interventions that equip the African youth, women-led start-ups, and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with skills and financial support to run bankable businesses.
The program also assists regional member countries (RMCs) in their implementation of economic and social reforms toward job creation.
In just one short year, the Trust Fund’s resources leapfrogged from USD4.4 million (in 2017) to almost USD40 million (in 2018). By providing technical assistance through enterprise support organizations and financial institutions, the Fund is anticipated to reach more than 480 youth-led startups in Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, and Zimbabwe.
The Bank has also been very active on the education front, supporting higher education institutions to deliver innovative training curricula that are adapted to the changing demand of the labor market and the private sector. Academic incubators—also known as innovation centers of excellence, have been established.
One great example of success is the African Institutions of Science and Technology (AIST) Program, whose mission is to deliver quality postgraduate education and build collaborative research capacity in various fields of Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation (SETI). With funding from the Bank, a total of 1,477 PhD and MSc students have graduated, out of which 676 are women. Additionally, a total of 35 partnerships have been brokered with the private sector to enhance the quality and relevance of research.
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) has also been acknowledged by the Bank as one of the main drivers of human capital development alongside enhanced basic education that generates knowledge and skills more broadly. As such, the Bank’s TVET project in Tanzania, has bolstered TVET and teacher education with an investment amounting to $52 million. The expected outputs include expanded infrastructure of 13 institutions targeting about 8,000 trainees, expanded and extensive use of ICT in instruction at 53 institutions, and increased capacity for teaching, policy formulation, planning, and quality assurance.
The insights and thoughts provided by other African stakeholders, youth representatives, and political leaders on the debate on youth jobs, skills, and entrepreneurship capacities during the AEC 2019 are immensely important in helping the continent move forward.
Now, more than ever, we must listen to the voices of the African youth.
The New Times – Rwanda
By: Yergalem Taages Beraki
Sustaining life and promoting good health requires access not only to adequate but also to safe and nutritious food.
Safe and nutritious food has wide-ranging positive impacts on human welfare and economic performance, leading to the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those pertaining to ending hunger and poverty, and promoting good health and well-being.
The safety of food is also vital to the growth and transformation of agriculture, which is needed to feed the growing population in Africa, in order to spur economic transformation and prosperity, and to promote favourable integration of countries into regional and international markets.
Food can be unsafe due to a number of factors. Harmful bacteria, viruses, natural toxins or chemical substances can make food unsafe and cause disease risks ranging from acute diarrhoea to lifelong conditions, including some cancers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 600 million people fall ill and 420 000 die every year from eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals.
The situation is more prevalent in Africa, where it is estimated that an annual average of 91 million people consumes contaminated food that renders them ill, and around 137,000 people die as a result of consuming contaminated food.
This reveals the need for more aggressive and strategic interventions to address the problem. According to the World Bank, the economic impact of contaminated food is greater in low-and-middle-income countries, which lose an estimated US$ 95 billion in productivity annually.
Food safety can play a critical role in assuring that food stays safe at every stage of the food chain from production to harvest, processing, storage, distribution, all the way to preparation and consumption.
Without adequately addressing food safety issues, Africa will not be able to effectively attain the objectives set in African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement as well as in the Declaration on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the Commitment to Accelerate Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods.
Food safety in Africa can be assured through development and implementation of appropriate national and regional food safety regulatory frameworks (guidelines, standards, and laws) as well as enhancement of consumers’ awareness on food safety and quality standards.
This, in turn, requires improving the policy and regulatory environment as well as infrastructure (including laboratories) and human and institutional capacities. Making Africa a continent with safe food can be possible only through integrating food safety policies and strategies into food and nutrition development policies and strategies. There is no food security without food safety.
Putting in place food safety policies and strategies and regulatory mechanisms would have a positive impact on the health and safety of consumers and can reduce market and livelihood disruptions.
In addition to improving consumer welfare, adoption and harmonization of food safety regulatory measures and standards can help to harness the potential benefits from AfCFTA agreement in the area of food trade.
It is therefore important that countries enact standards and regulations to facilitate movement of safe and quality food commodities in local markets and among trading partners regionally and internationally.
A preferred strategy to effectively address health related problems from unsafe food consumption would be to adopt a comprehensive approach that involves different stakeholders and all participants in the food system.
Different actors can build partnership under such an approach, including international organizations (such as FAO and WHO), Regional Economic communities (RECs), national governments, civil societies, the private sector acting along the food value chain, and consumers.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and WHO support global efforts to promote safe food.
FAO hosts the Codex Alimentarius Commission which is mandated to develop international food standards in order to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in food trade. FAO specifically assists member countries to prevent, manage and respond to risks along the food production chain.
The FAO sub-regional office for Eastern Africa partners and works with member countries, sub-regional and RECs that include Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), East African Community (EAC), and the African Union Commission (AUC) to improve capacities on food safety and control activities related to agricultural commodities.
There is need to emphasise that consumers have a right to expect the food they purchase and consume to be safe and of acceptable quality.
They have a right to voice their opinions about the food control procedures, standards and activities that governments and industries use to ascertain that the food supply has such standards.
Although food safety control is the responsibility of all participants in the food chain and thus is everyone’s business, government needs to take the ultimate responsibility and a leading role in coordinating food safety-related issues and in adopting regulatory frameworks and in enforcing their implementation.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
By: Charles Dhewa
Some intellectuals have been suggesting that knowledge is the same everywhere, so it is wrong to speak in terms of indigenous knowledge as if it is distinct from all other knowledge.
Such views are far from the reality on the ground.
There is definitely a difference between knowledge found in academic circles and ordinary people’s knowledge used by communities to innovate and cope with daily challenges.
Although overlaps are common, it is very possible to separate indigenous knowledge from all other knowledge.
Pros and cons of imported knowledge
There is no doubt that imported knowledge has made some positive differences in many developing countries, especially in the areas of automotive engineering, aviation and medicine.
But there have also been notable failures. For instance, imported knowledge in the form of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is on the verge of redundancy because it is failing to contextualise African content.
It is a remarkable myth that the entire African memory can be digitised. In spite of the hype surrounding mobile money, African countries have largely failed to marry brick and mortar financial systems with mobile money.
Consequently, mobile money now causes massive unemployment to professionals that have absorbed imported knowledge while creating transitory employment for mobile money agents.
In any case, business models anchored on exploiting poor masses are not sustainable.
Why should low-income communities in countries like Zimbabwe incur the highest mobile money costs and a whole finance minister defines that as progress?
We do not have economic models that fully embed the African ecosystem.
The main dilemma in all African countries is that policymakers have reached a point where they think money is the most important commodity that should substitute all levels of thinking.
It is as if there is no business when there is no money irrespective of the abundance of resources like good soils, climate and water. It is all about the search for foreign currency.
Indigenous knowledge is more of a contextual characterisation
eMKambo is not suggesting that developing countries have a monopoly on what is considered indigenous.
In every country, whatever has thrived over years and has built pathways of binding and sharing knowledge has become indigenous.
An outsider will need years to understand that knowledge. Africans who go to live in the United Kingdom find indigenous knowledge systems in that country.
Where you encounter indigenous knowledge systems, you cannot avoid learning in order to be a useful participant in existing knowledge systems.
Africans are struggling to learn imported science because it is not indigenous to us while people who grew up with science easily understand it.
On the other hand, when a European visit an African village like Gokwe and sees people cooking sadza, s/he has to learn how those people prepare their food.
The notion of literacy came through the Western world, while much of our African practices and knowledge systems remain undocumented.
That is why most African communities continue to thrive on raw knowledge.
From indigenous knowledge to patents
Western knowledge might be indigenous in countries of its origin, but it has unfortunately been entirely moved from being indigenous to privatised patented knowledge.
For instance, people who write books end up with exclusive copyrights to the book. Those who invent machines also privatise their knowledge for profit.
Fortunately, in much of Africa, knowledge is still public information/knowledge.
For example, African traditional courts do not use previous cases to make judgments the way judiciary systems imported from the West depend on legal documents and use precedents after reading cases of previous judgments.
In Africa, traditional leaders use wisdom acquired over years, not by one person, but by the whole traditional judiciary system (Dare).
They understand values, norms, extenuating circumstances, among many other aspects surrounding court cases. That is why they sometimes relate some cases to ngozi or the avenging spirit.
The entire traditional leadership system has acquired collective intuitions of what informs people’s different behaviours, including inclinations towards different kinds of crimes.
Some crimes can be traced beyond an individual to the entire clan that has to appease past wrongs for the benefit of the future.
On the other hand, imported judiciary systems reduce complicated social issues to an individual who should go to jail for crimes that may be beyond him/her.
Yet on the positive side, a skilled person may be understood to have acquired his/her skills from his/her grandfathers who may have been craftsmen or hunters.
If they carefully borrowed from African traditional systems, conventional anti-corruption commissions in Africa would reach more meaningful conclusions that build cohesive societies.
Indigenous knowledge as intangible heritage
Most of what has been explained above comprise soft elements and behaviours that become a collection of facts and knowledge. For example, as the rainy season approaches, some African communities are able to predict the season using their own local signals.
They do not use using modern gadgets like those used by the meteorological services departments, but they arrive at correct conclusions using their own interpretations independent of science.
While formal learning is about absorptive capacity, indigenous knowledge systems are part and parcel of experiential learning embedded in practical wisdom.
Indigenous knowledge systems are also part of ecosystems and pathways of how people live, relate, interact, what to do and what to avoid, and not just about how they communicate.
Also critical is how relationships are built and strengthened as well as how communities find solutions to emerging problems before looking outside. Not every solution can come through external investors. What about local investors?
Concentration at source
More importantly, indigenous knowledge systems tend to be concentrated more at the source and get weaker as you move away from the origin or source.
For example, Binga District in Zimbabwe has a lot of knowledge on Tonga culture and language, but such knowledge weakens as you move away from the district because it gets diluted with imported knowledge.
At national level, indigenous knowledge systems are weaker in cities, but stronger in rural areas that remain strongholds of African culture.
That is why building home-grown African economies should start with identifying where indigenous knowledge systems are coming from and track them all the way to the source.
For instance, tracking banana production knowledge to Honde Valley enables tapping into opportunities for using local knowledge.
Rather than continue with imported notions of development, African countries should embrace a home-grown economic development agenda, starting from where knowledge is strongest unlike trying to extract agrarian solutions from cities that have been diluted by imported knowledge.
Just as technology providers want you to come to the source at some point, for instance when a combine harvester breaks down, the strengths of indigenous knowledge systems is at the source.
While Western knowledge patents are at individual level, indigenous knowledge systems are patented at community level.
Community members know what to give out and what not to give. Even at household level, some knowledge remains classified. Indigenous knowledge systems become more classified at the source.
The role of African embassies in promoting indigenous knowledge and food systems
Currently, African embassies in Western countries seem to focus more on politics and foreign policies, but are silent on promoting African identity embedded in food systems and indigenous knowledge systems.
Ideally, exports should be in the form of our own indigenous commodities.
We may think we are getting valuable foreign currency from exporting peas, but this may be happening at the expense of other more lucrative commodities.
Africans should not continue using their resources to produce products that satisfy foreign food systems and tastes.
Yet if foreign consumers acquire tastes for African products, African countries will become less vulnerable to international prices. When there is a glut, Africans will just lower production.
But where African countries produce food for foreign consumers, there is no control over prices because foreigners can just decide to get the same commodities from different African countries with the same climate. This is how African countries are made to compete against each other for external tastes.