Tag Archives: Africa

Here are 5 ways to make West Africa more competitive

It has been a testing two years for West Africa’s prosperity. On average, the competitiveness of the region has remained flat. According to the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness Index , it scores about 3.6 points out of 7. This is mirrored by barely changed standards of living , with GDP per capita stuck at around $4,600 in terms of purchasing power parity.

Certainly there have been large differences across the region. Nigeria, the largest economy in the area, has under-performed, driving regional competitiveness down. On the other hand, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana have achieved better performances both in terms of competitiveness and growth of per-capita GDP. To build more resilient economies, West African countries need to address the structural foundations of their prosperity.

Two years ago, the Africa Development Bank, the World Economic Forum and the World Bank started to map these “structural foundations” for West African economies in a multi-stakeholder workshop . These stakeholders, which included governments and businesses as well as civil society organisations, identified five areas that must be tackled to increase prosperity. Since then, very little progress has been achieved. It’s time to make these five factors a priority, and help West Africa towards a more prosperous future:


It is hard for companies to thrive amid relatively inefficient institutions with burdensome procedures, slow public services, and ineffectively applied laws and regulations. In addition, there is little use of information and communication technology in government. This also affects the other four factors.


Most of the region’s economies are held back by bad roads, severe electricity shortages and inefficient ports. The poor state of the infrastructure increases transaction costs for businesses in the region, with multiple roadblocks both across borders and within countries.


Despite the presence of a large number of regional and international banks, credit to the private sector is limited and expensive. The sources of finance need to be broadened to include insurance companies, pensions, remittances, and venture capital and equity markets. This particularly affects smaller companies that depend on external financing to grow, innovate and inject new energy into their economies.

Agricultural productivity

Low agricultural productivity is holding back the structural transformation of West African economies. To move ahead, these countries need to improve access to land and rural credit, spread modern techniques from mechanization to better seed varieties, improve quality standards, and create better access to markets and value chains.


The skills found in the West African workforce don’t match those demanded by the workplace. This problem affects recent graduates as well as older workers. Improving the educational system, from vocational training to direct instruction, will ensure better employability.

Structural changes can take a long time, and often require international assistance. But West African countries must tackle these areas if they want to achieve greater prosperity. Better regional coordination could help channel the right resources and produce synergies to overcome some of the bottlenecks encountered so far.

Millions of African youth enter the labour market each year, and their expectations are growing. This makes it all the more important to take action and make these five priorities a reality. The next competitiveness workshop will be an excellent opportunity to cooperate across the region, analyse the structural challenges, and begin a new chapter of economic progress for West Africa.

SOURCE: World Economic Forum

By Roberto Crotti

#YouthDay: At 26, Thuso Mbedu is one of Africa’s most influential millenials

In 2014, with just R500 in her purse, a suitcase filled with clothes and no real plan, Thuso Mbedu hopped on a bus and made her way to Johannesburg.

Mbedu was determined to make a career in the entertainment industry, because she believed that God had given her a craft which she had to share with the world. And now she has.

Last year, Mbedu was nominated for an International Emmy Award for her role as Winnie, in the first season on Is’Thunzi– Damaged But Not Broken , a teen drama series on Mzansi Magic. Although she did not win, just the mere fact of being nominated was enough to pave the way for her stardom.

This week, the actress took the number one spot on the 2018 Forbes Africa Under 30 List, ahead of local rapper Cassper Nyovest and fashion designer Orapeleng Modutle.

Actress Nomzamo Mbatha took fourth spot while musician Kwesta wraps up the top five.

Mbedu was also cast as a principal member on SABC1’s Generations: The Legacy this year.

On Is’Thunzi– Damaged But Not Broken , Mbedu’s character, Winnie is a streetwise, ambitious go-getter who has her heart set on marrying a rich and famous rugby player, but her fantasy turns out to be a lot more challenging to achieve than she imagined when she gets exiled to live with her strict aunt in Bergville, KZN.

“I really took a leap of faith when I got to Johannesburg. There was no plan, but I knew I needed to survive and I needed to do anything and everything it took to find work in the industry. For a while I squatted with friends. Then I auditioned for Saints and Sinners, I went into that audition as if it was a do or die moment. And it paid off,” said Mbedu.

The actress said after her role in Saints and Sinners , work went quiet again and she was very discouraged.

“The industry is so unstable for artists these days. There was no work coming my way and what was more discouraging was that agencies didn’t want me to sign up because I didn’t have enough experience, but how was I do get the experience if they didn’t give me a chance,” she said.

Eventually, after a rough six months, Mbedu got another audition, little did she know, this one would earn her the International Emmy nomination.

“I was down for the longest time and my sister was helping me pay my rent. I wasn’t meeting my bills and eventually had to apply for a loan at the bank, so when I auditioned for Is’Thunzi I did so like it was my last audition ever. And it paid off. I finally had work again,” she said.

While Mbedu said she loved her time on Is’Thunzi and owed the nomination to the cast and crew. She wishes she could play roles that are closer to her age.

“The oldest character I played was 21-year old. And It’s not that I don’t enjoy playing these roles, but the industry recycles storytelling for school kids or teenagers, and I want to experience a more authentic and mature storyline now. Mature roles are 3D characters and are more complex, so want to extend myself more,” said the actress.

Her favourite role to play, if she was given the opportunity, would be a villain. Mbedu said she is intrigued by the psychological work behind the character that takes viewers on a journey.

Aside from her onscreen work, Mbedu has been working on her own scripts with award winning director and scriptwriter, Amanda Lane as her mentor.

“In university I was exposed to a lot of American shows via streaming and I enjoyed watching these shows. And I would always hear people around me say that they don’t watch local TV because most of the stories are recycled and not inspiring. So I got to a point where I wanted that to change so instead of complaining about local TV I decided to start writing scripts,” she said.

Currently she is working on a crime action series which she showcases women taking control of their own destiny.

“What I learned through this journey of writing is that South African men are still very uncomfortable with heroin leads in storytelling, and so I would like to change this – I had no male figure in my life to take care of me, and I made it through. I want to empower women,” said Mbedu.

“The second story I’m working on is a romantic drama which is also led by a women and shows were my state of mind is at this point after the death of my granny. The other is an action film but that needs a big budget, so that’s on hold for now,”she said.

By Akua

Africa wants Fifa to reintroduce World Cup rotation

African delegates are keen for Fifa to reintroduce a rotation system for World Cup hosting after Morocco failed to land the 2026 World Cup.

The North Africans lost out to the triple Canada, Mexico and United States bid, which won Wednesday’s vote by 134 votes to 65.

“Rotation would be a solution,” said Malawi FA president Walter Nyamilandu.

“We should ask for an amendment to the bidding process that would allow rotation to come back,” added Liberia FA president Musa Bility.

By the time the 2026 finals take place, Africa will have hosted just one of 23 World Cups – while Mexico alone will have staged three separate tournaments.

The 2010 finals in South Africa only came about after football’s world governing body introduced a rotation system in 2001.

This was pushed through by former Fifa president Sepp Blatter in response to South Africa’s narrow defeat in its attempt to stage the 2006 World Cup, which eventually took place in Germany.

Bility believes Fifa could be tempted by the reintroduction of the system, which was abandoned in 2007.

Ghana to get Google’s first African AI centre

Google has announced it is to open its first African artificial intelligence research centre in Ghana later this year.

Google boss Sundar Pichai said the multi-national was “really looking forward” to opening the centre.

The centre will open later this year in Accra, the company said in an official statement.

“We’re committed to collaborating with local universities and research centers, as well as working with policy makers on the potential uses of AI in Africa,” the statement continued.

The Accra office will join similar AI research centres in places like Paris, Tel Aviv, and, of course, San Francisco.

Kenya launches first National Land Use Policy

By NJOKI KIHIU, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun, 12 – Kenya’s first National Land Use Policy has been unveiled to enhance planning and promote equitable utilization with the main aim of ending the perennial land problems in the country.

The policy was unveiled at a ceremony presided over by Deputy President William Ruto, who lauded it as a solution to unplanned settlements that have impacted negatively on the environment.

The Deputy President hailed the policy saying it will give Kenyans dignity and a sense of belonging as well as promote food security which is one of the key pillars in the government’s Big Four agenda

‘’Successful implementation of this policy will place Kenya firmly on an accelerated path to Vision 2030 via the big four agenda. Success is critical and there is no room for failure or mediocre work in implementing this policy,” said Ruto.

The Deputy President asked the Ministry of Lands to plan wisely on how the objectives of the policy will be realized since it will be the framework to plan for future land use.

Ruto reiterated that lack of vision, incompetence and mediocre planning is a threat to the development of the country and achievement of the policy is not an option.

“Every effort must be committed to ensuring that it succeeds in addressing food insecurity, unplanned settlements, inefficient land practices and environmental degradation,” he said.

Besides employing the Policy, referred to as the Sessional Paper No.1 of 2017, to address land problems in the country, Mr Ruto called on the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning to lead the way in forecasting and planning on the land requirements of the country.

According to the Lands Cabinet Secretary Faridah Karoney, the National Land Use Policy sets out long-term goals on land use management.

Ms Karoney said the policy provides legal, administrative, institutional and technological framework for optimal use and productivity of land in a sustainable way.

“This policy calls for the allocation of lands and issuance of titles on the basis of approved physical development plans. It further advocates for an audit and mapping out of the number and location of informal settlements and provide security of tenure,” she said.

By Ola

The new African beat set to get Europe dancing

Afrobeats has dominated African pop charts for the last few years – but now it faces a challenger for its crown.

Afro EDM – “Electronic Dance Music” – is zipping towards the main spotlight in all its frenetic glory.

Its mix of percussive electronic music genres – think house, techno, drum and bass, and trance – combined with the funk and soul of Afrobeats is winning fans around the globe.

And it is easy to see why: put simply, if Afrobeats makes the heart beat, then Afro EDM will probably make it race.

Italy shuts ports to migrant rescue ship

Italy’s new interior minister has refused permission for a rescue vessel to drop off 629 migrants picked up off Libya’s coast.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League, said Malta should let the Aquarius dock but he was rejected.

Malta said the German charity SOS Méditerranée had picked up the migrants in Libyan waters, which meant they fell under Italy’s jurisdiction

Italy is the main entry for migrants crossing from North Africa to Europe.

The League promised voters during Italy’s recent general election that it would take a tough stance on immigration.