Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Dangote ends Nigeria’s Cement importation…exports 0.4m metric tons cement to neighboring countries

LAGOS, Nigeria, February 28, 2017/ -- Following continuous increase in its production capacity, foremost cement manufacturer, Dangote Cement Plc (www.Dangote.com) has finally ended the era of Nigeria’s dependence on importation as the company exported 0.4 million tons of the product to other countries in 2016.

In its 2016 full year audited results presented on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos yesterday, Dangote Cement sold 8.6 million metric tons of cement outside Nigeria, which is 54 per cent more than what was sold in 2015.

The export is significant given that the nation used to be a net importer of cement. As at 2011, Nigeria was one of the world’s largest importers of cement, buying 5.1 million metric tons of foreign cement at huge expense to the country’s balance of payments.

The company’s Pan-African cement plants continued to perform well, contributing significantly to its turnover and profitability. 

While presenting the results, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Onne van der Weijde, assured the investors of better returns on their investment in the Dangote Cement.

According to him: “The new year has started well and we expect much higher profitability in Nigeria in 2017, even though we may not see the volume growth we achieved in 2016. I am confident that we will deliver an even stronger performance in 2017 as we increase market share and extend our reach across Africa.”   

The economic challenges notwithstanding, Onne revealed that Dangote Cement achieved sales and revenue growth of 25 per cent and consolidated its position as Africa’s leading producer of cement.

While sales from Nigerian operations increased by 13.8 per cent to nearly 15.1 million metric tons at a growth rate far higher than the country’s GDP, which fell in 2016, its total revenue leaped by 25.1 per cent to ₦615.1 billion     

To the delight of the investors, Dangote Cement earnings per share increased by 4.5 per cent to ₦11.34 and the dividend payout to the shareholders also increased significantly by 6.3 per cent to N8.5 kobo per share.

It would be recalled that Dangote Cement is Africa's leading cement producer with nearly 46 million metric tons’ capacity across Africa. It is a fully integrated quarry-to-customer producer with production capacity of 29.25Mta in Nigeria; Obajana plant in Kogi is the largest in Africa with 13.25Mta of capacity across four lines; Ibese plant in Ogun State has four cement lines with a combined installed capacity of 12Mta and Gboko plant in Benue state has 4Mta.

The company has also concluded arrangements to build new factories in Ogun State (3-6Mta) and Edo State (6.0Mta). Through its recent investments, Dangote Cement has eliminated Nigeria's dependence on imported cement and has transformed the nation into a net exporter of cement serving neighbouring countries.

In addition, the company has invested several billion dollars to build manufacturing plants and import/grinding terminals across Africa. Its operations are in Cameroon (1.5Mta clinker grinding), Congo (1.5Mta), Ghana (1.0Mta import), Ethiopia (2.5Mta), Senegal (1.5Mta), Sierra Leone (0.7Mta import), South Africa (3.3Mta), Tanzania (3.0Mta), Zambia (1.5Mta).  

Call for candidates for the 7th Orange Social Venture Prize in Africa and the Middle East

PARIS, France, February 28, 2017/ -- Applications for the 7th edition of the Orange (www.Orange.com) Social Venture Prize in Africa and the Middle East (OSVPAM) are being accepted until 6 June 2017 21:00 GMT in the “Orange Social Venture Prize” pages of the website www.EntrepreneurClub.orange.com.

As in previous years, the OSVPAM will be awarded to innovative projects which make use of information and communication technologies to improve living conditions for the peoples of Africa and the Middle East in fields such as health, finance, education and agriculture.

New for this 7th edition, the competition will start with a national phase during which each of Orange’s 17 participating subsidiaries will examine projects submitted in its country and will designate three winners. The next phase will be an international one in which the winners of each country – 51 in all – will compete before an international panel of judges for the OSVPAM Grand Prize, with three winners receiving their awards during the AfricaCom Awards Ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa, on 8 November 2017. In addition to national prizes, the three international winners will receive 25,000 euros, 15,000 euros and 10,000 euros respectively, along with support from professionals in start-up creation and funding.

OSVPAM is open to any student, employee or entrepreneur over the age of 21 whose initiative is less than 3 years old and who lives in Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Tunisia, Jordan, Liberia or Burkina Faso.

Bruno Mettling, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Orange group and CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa, commented “With a record 750 candidates in 2016, the success of the OSVPAM prize with entrepreneurs in Africa and the Middle East speaks for itself. This year, 17 countries in which we operate will recognize 3 winners, the better to promote the local start-up ecosystem, in addition to the winners at the international level. This is our way of reaffirming our ambition of becoming a major partner, in particular by showcasing innovation that serves people.”

About Orange:
Orange (www.Orange.com) is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators with sales of 40 billion euros in 2015 and 154,000 employees worldwide at 30.09.16, including 95,000 employees in France. Present in 29 countries, the Group has a total customer base of 256 million customers worldwide at 30.09.16, including 194 million mobile customers and 18 million fixed broadband customers. Under the Orange Business Services brand, Orange is also one of the world leaders in providing telecommunication services to multinational companies. In March 2015, the Group presented its new strategic plan "Essentials2020" which places customer experience at the heart of its strategy with the aim of allowing them to benefit fully from the digital universe and the power of its new generation networks.

Orange is listed on Euronext Paris (symbol ORA) and on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol ORAN).

Orange and any other Orange product or service names included in this material are trademarks of Orange or Orange Brand Services Limited.


Is There A Secret To Generating Useful Ideas?

I was once asked by a Regent University College of Science and Technolgy student whether I thought the ability to generate ideas was inborn or a learned process.

I thought about it for a moment and answered that I was of the view that all humans have the ability to generate ideas - but that most were too focused on the business of day to day living to think up ideas regularly.

In other words one has to actually make time for thinking things through in order to come up with new ideas to resolve challenges when they crop up. At any rate that works for silly old me. Always.

A Guardian (UK) article by Jon Card, entitled: "Hacked spaces, brainstorms, calligraphy...where do great ideas spring from?" will be of particular interest to small business owners in Ghana desirous of empowering their employees to come up with new ways of creating value for the businesses that  employ them and their customers.

Please read on:

Hacked spaces, brainstorms, calligraphy ... where do great ideas spring from?

Creative thinking can come from unusual places. Academics and entrepreneurs reveal the secrets behind an innovative company culture

By Jon Card

Monday 27 February 2017 07. on Monday 27 February 2017 09.31 GMT

Businesses live or die by the strength of their ideas. In the modern age, products, services and brands need to be continually updated or reinvented. There are also times when businesses need to go back to the drawing board and start again.

The key to generating good ideas is to get out of the meeting room and allow staff to work on different concepts, thinks Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of cloud accounting software company FreeAgent. The walls of his office are covered in scribbles from team brainstorming sessions.
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Molyneux’s staff have also tried round-robin brainstorming, “brainwriting” (where a person writes down all their ideas and then passes them on) and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to evaluate ideas. But he thinks the working environment is more important than method for idea generation. “We’ve incorporated break-out areas in our office where our staff can come together and informally work on projects,” says Molyneux. “This has been far more effective than if we’d just had one meeting room.”

For Darren Fell, founder of Brighton-based Crunch Accounting, the office itself is too constrictive and instead he opts for walking meetings. “It a fresh perspective and I find I am often at my most creative when moving.”

Academics and researchers are finding there is much to commend about both of the above approaches. Ileana Stigliani, assistant professor in design and innovation at Imperial College Business School, says businesses should let their employees “break free” to explore ideas. She recommends bosses allow their staff “a walk in the woods, a visit to an art gallery, or just listen to music to get inspiration”. She says good ideas cannot be forced out and creative people may benefit from flexible hours. “Companies need to let go of the traditional nine to five working week. Team members need to come into work when they are rested and at their best.”

But while time out of the office can stimulate the mind, businesses do need employees to be at work sometimes. Stigliani, therefore, recommends the creation of “war rooms” or “hacked spaces”, citing the success of Silicon Valley tech giants who use this approach.

“The best creative spaces should have plenty of whiteboards and surface area to put sticky notes and visual imagery on the walls, with furniture that can be easily rearranged,” she says. “Google is famous for its creative war rooms, where employees can brainstorm but also listen to music, play with toys, and generally chill out.”

Mark Batey, a senior lecturer in organisational psychology at Alliance Manchester Business School says we need to process information before brainstorming. “If you give people time, their brains can start working on ideas in the background. So when they do get to the idea-generation stage they are all ready to go.”

But, when seeking inspiration, business owners should also remain open-minded, watching new trends and technologies, even if they don’t seem obviously relevant to their industry. “By looking outside of their immediate sphere, a business can find the seeds of fruitful ideas,” Batey says.

But he warns entrepreneur-led companies that a founder or owner can get in the way of their staff. It’s easy for this to happen if a company is the brainchild of one entrepreneur who has become accustomed to being the main provider of ideas and solutions. In order to avoid this, they must aim to create a culture of creativity. “Business owners need to ask questions [of staff] but be careful to not give the solutions when framing those questions.”

Vikas Shah, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, says creative environments are generally happy ones. Entrepreneurs, he reasons, should aim to cut the stress of their employees’ environments if they want people to perform at their best. “Companies absolutely have to make sure they prioritise the mental health of employees, both for their well-being and also because this hugely increases creativity and innovative thinking,” he says.

Shah says the key to creativity is often found in seemingly unconnected ideas and spheres. He says researchers are increasingly interested in the concept of serendipity – how our brains connect seemingly unrelated concepts to produce creative insights. This was a gift displayed by Apple founder Steve Jobs, who spent much time studying calligraphy prior to launching Apple, which supposedly helped inspire the design of the Mac.
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Shah adds that many successful organisations attempt to inculcate serendipity by bringing in external expertise. “Many of the most successful organisations I have worked with have structured sessions inviting inspirational speakers from outside their industry, and also encouraging creative tasks and workshops across departments,” he says.

Carole Gaskell, managing director of Full Potential Group, has coached executives and entrepreneurs from a range of organisations including Heinz, Hilton Hotels, Nationwide Building Society and VW. She says entrepreneurs that want to stimulate new ideas should make changes in what they are thinking about in general. “Encourage both yourself and your team to learn something new,” she says. “You might want to watch an inspiring TED Talk or YouTube video, buy a book or ask someone you admire to mentor you; these are great ways to stimulate new thinking.”
The eight steps to creativity

Mark Batey of Alliance Manchester Business School and Anna Walker, associate professor in business and management at Bath Spa University, have identified eight main components to help ideas flow:

Collaboration – people must work well with others. The more diverse the group the better.
Team cohesion – a tight team that pulls together is key.
Good goal awareness – the clearer the goal, the more creative the output.
Access to resources – time and people are the most important at the outset, but funding will be needed later.
Openness to intelligent risk-taking – organisations must get used to the idea that failure is normal. When a project fails, evaluate it – don’t die of shame.
The creative problem-solving process – first accumulate the facts and immerse yourself in the details, then brainstorm widely and only afterwards evaluate the ideas. Remember, creativity takes time.
Autonomy – entrepreneurs must not give the solutions but allow their teams to find them. The more skill the team has, the more autonomy it should be given.
Value creativity – the previous seven steps leads to the most important factor, a company that values creativity."

End of culled Guardian article by Jon Card.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Africa’s 1st Shared Value Summit To Showcase a Future-Proof Business Strategy: Profit With a Purpose

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, February 27, 2017/ -- Throughout Africa, businesses are adopting the Creating Shared Value (CSV) business model to ensure that society benefits while business profits. The concept, first shared with business leaders and marketers by Harvard Business School’s Prof Michael Porter in 2006, is gaining momentum and picking up traction – but not quickly and forcefully enough. For too long, companies have relied on CSR and CSI programmes to balance their focus on maximising profits. Shared Value is now challenging the status quo.

The first Africa Shared Value Summit (www.AfricaSharedValueSummit.com) will raise awareness and advocate for the strategic implementation of the Shared Value business model, which brings about social change while positively impacting profit. Companies who create Shared Value do so through the normal operation of their businesses; it is not an (often short-term) add-on limited by budget, but rather a future-proof business strategy for long-term gain. There are corporates that are currently taking the lead in changing the face of capitalist business practice, but it is the social innovators who are really embracing the practice and reaping the rewards – financially and societally.

The Summit’s keynote speaker will be Marc Pfitzer, Managing Director of FSG, one of the world’s leading consultancies focusing on social change strategy and creating business models and strategies that lead to social impact. Speaking on the growth of Shared Value, Marc is optimistic that business is starting to catch on: “If you look at the spread of the concept, and you look at the continued emergence of new companies who say ‘we’ve got a built-in purpose in our strategy’, it’s not just a communication-based tagline, it’s really about making different choices in our strategy. We keep on getting new companies coming into the fold, so the underlining movement is happening and is spreading all over the world.”

Marc’s expertise spans numerous subjects, including Shared Value, collective impact, agricultural development, impact measurement, and the mechanics of collaboration. His influential articles “Innovating for Shared Value” (http://APO.af/fnU90l) and “The Ecosystem of Shared Value” (http://APO.af/OKfZQ2) were published in the Harvard Business Review in 2013 and 2016 respectively. Prior to FSG, Marc served as Principal at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) based in Zürich.

Chief Marketing Officer of Nando’s, one of the Summit’s sponsors, Doug Place has received more than 30 international and national marketing and advertising awards, including The Media “Top 40 Under 40” in 2014, and was recognised as one of Destiny Man Magazine’s 2015 ‘Young and Powerful’ industry leaders. Through the implementation of Shared Value principles, Nando’s has achieved major successes in the development and recognition of African artists and the fight against malaria.

Another speaker highlight is Barry Swartzberg, Group Executive Director Responsible for International Strategy at Discovery. Discovery Health’s pioneering approach to incentivising people to be healthier is world-renowned. The impact of the adoption of a Shared Value strategy underpins the organisation’s global success and new business growth. Other high-profile speakers include Sanda Ojiambo, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Safaricom, who will share her experience in multi-sectoral policy and development work throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, and Maria Papetti, Head of Enel Holdings, who will speak on sustainability, renewable energy growth and social equality.

The Summit will also feature Shared Value trailblazers like Dr Sara Saeed, winner of the UNICEF Global Goal Campaigner Award 2016, who will share insights into the doctHERS project in Pakistan.

Other participants include: Michelle Constant (CEO, BASA); Gordon Cook (Activist, Stir4Change); Zaakira Mahomed (Founder, Happy with a Purpose and Mina Cup), David Blyth (CEO, Yellowwood); Claire Reed (CIO, Reel Gardening); Genevieve Leveille (Co-Founder, 0TenTic8); Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga (UNEP Head, South Africa); and Thomas van Viegen (EY Associate Director: Climate Change and Sustainability Services).

Embracing CSV is the key to long-term sustainability, enabling businesses to survive and thrive in a changing business climate. Shift Social Development, the team of women behind the Summit headed by Tiekie Barnard, aims to create an annual platform where Shared Value practitioners can share their stories and influence businesses and brands in the creation of Shared Value, thus embodying the Shift Social Development mantra of profit with purpose.

Cross-border e-commerce considered a growth rocket for Sub Saharan Africa retailers

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, February 27, 2017/ --

    Cross-border online retail predicted to grow at twice the rate of domestic e-commerce (CAGR: 25%) until 2020
    Retailers can grow 60% faster with a premium service offering

DHL Express (www.dpDHL.com), the world’s leading international express services provider, has published research highlighting the significant growth opportunity for retailers and manufacturers with an international online product offering. The report – The 21st Century Spice Trade: A Guide to the Cross-Border E-Commerce Opportunity – looks in detail at the markets and products that offer the highest growth potential, the motivations and preferences of customers making international online purchases and the success factors for online retailers that wish to expand overseas. It focuses in particular on the opportunity for premium products and service offerings, with higher basket values accounting for a significantly higher proportion of orders in cross-border transactions.   

The report reveals that cross-border e-commerce offers aggregate growth rates not available in most other retail markets: cross-border retail volumes are predicted to increase at an annual average rate of 25% between 2015 and 2020 (from USD 300 Billion to USD 900 Billion) – twice the pace of domestic e-commerce growth. Online retailers are also boosting sales by 10-15% on average simply by extending their offering to international customers. An additional boost comes from including a premium service offering: retailers and manufacturers that incorporated a faster shipping option into their online stores grew 1.6 times faster on average than other players.

“Contrary to what many retailers think, cross-border shipping is actually simple and retailers in Sub Saharan Africa are perfectly positioned to take advantage of international opportunities. ‘Brand Africa’ is something that has increased exponentially in popularity in recent years and it’s time for retailers to remove the boundaries and open up their business to seamless international trade. Often, retailers choose not to promote their businesses internationally, and worse yet, will turn down international sales interests due to the misconception that it’s too difficult to manage and deliver,” says Hennie Heymans, CEO for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa.

“Globally, our experience is that virtually every product category has the potential to upgrade to become premium, both by developing higher quality luxury editions and by offering superior levels of service quality to meet the demands of less price-sensitive customers. The opportunity to ‘go global’ and ‘go premium’ is available to retailers in all markets and our global door-to-door time definite network is well-positioned to support retailers looking to develop a premium service offering or directly reach new international markets without  the need to  invest in distribution or warehousing. In Sub Saharan Africa, the opportunity for Intra Africa trade should not be ignored. ‘Going global’ does not only mean trading outside of the African continent, Africa is home to one of the world’s fastest growing middle class, with an appetite for quality products and services. There are also a number of trade blocs in place to support Intra Africa trade growth and retailers should take advantage of this captive market.”

The report is based primarily on research and in-depth interviews conducted by a leading global management consultancy, as well as more than 1,800 responses to a proprietary exporter survey of retailers and manufacturers in six countries. It casts a light on the evolving face of e-commerce, with both supply and demand becoming more sophisticated Manufacturers are increasingly taking advantage of e-commerce to move to direct retail models – bypassing the ‘middleman’ and offering their products online to the end customer – and expect to grow 30% faster in cross-border e-commerce than other retailer groups. Customers in many markets are also becoming more discerning, citing product availability and trust, as well as attractive offers, as the motivating factors for shopping with overseas online retailers.

The main challenges highlighted by consumers to cross-border purchases relate to logistics, trust, price and customer experience. At the same time, online retailers can take a number of relatively easy steps to identify, cultivate and service demand from abroad. The report noted that the e-commerce trend has given birth to a new eco-system of facilitators and off-the-shelf solutions (such as payment providers and programs that localize a website’s check-out experience for the visitor), helping retailers to adapt their offering to the digital world and to transact with customers in foreign markets. Global logistics partners can provide support in identifying the right trade-off between centralized and local warehousing and fulfillment, while fast, reliable and flexible delivery options can be an important tool in turning speculative interest into long-term customer loyalty.

Can Ghana Profit From Helping The UAE To Neutralise Its Massive Carbon Footprint?

The new minister for lands and natural resources, the Hon John Peter Amewu, has made an impressive start to his work.

He has sent a clear signal to the nation that he is a committed environmentalist who values what is left of our country's natural heritage.

Within the short space of time that he has been in charge of the ministry of lands and natural resources, he has demonstrated - through his pronouncements - that he aims to ensure the preservation of the remainder of Ghana's natural heritage by his ministry.

He will doubtless build on his immediate predecessor's very impressive legacy. The Mahama administration's humble and unassuming Hon Nii Osah Mills was one of the best ministers of lands and natural resources Ghana has ever had.

Obviously, no initiative to preserve what is left of Ghana's natural heritage will be successful without toxin-free gold mining methods. Luckily, the University of Arizona's College of Engineering has invented toxin-free mining methods that Ghana can, and should, leverage immediately.

In light of the availability of  those new toxin-free mining methods,  the new Akufo-Addo administration should invite the CEO of MetOxs, Dr. Abraham Jalbout - who is a co-inventor of those new toxin-free mining methods (which also capture energy to provide free electricity, incidentally)  - to Ghana as soon as practicable, to introduce their godsend toxin-free mining methods to players in  all the different categories of Ghana's gold mining industry.

Secondly, if those who are now in charge of the Forestry Commission do some lateral thinking, the Forestry Commission's Forestry Division  could also make a great deal of money for itself, and for fringe forest communities across Ghana, by collaborating with nations with large carbon footprints - such as the United Arab Emirates.

By partnering such nations  in win-win low-carbon development initiatives, in which those nations pay Ghana good money to preserve its rainforests, the for forestry sector will be immediately transformed.

It will become a pillar for a new green sustainable economy for rural Ghana, based on agro-forestry plantation development, in which young people form tree-planting cooperatives to re-green Ghana through REDD+ community carbon sequestration projects.

Such initiatives will create wealth and jobs in the southern forest belt and other areas with large forests in the northern half of Ghana in some of the areas covered by the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).

This blog recommends that the Hon John Peter Amewu seeks collaboration with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to replicate Norway's  low-carbon development initiative with Guyana  - in which Norway pays Guyana money to preserve its rainforests - with Ghana.

We are posting a culled ArabianBusiness.com article written by Sarah Townsend  that shows the thinking of the very creative and forward-looking leadership of the UAE on neutralising their dynamic nation's massive carbon footprint.

The Forestry Commission could definitely benefit from collaborating with the UAE in a win-win low-carbon development initiative to reduce some of the UAE's mammoth-sized carbon footprint. 

Please read on:

''Greening the desert: How the UAE aims to change its carbon footprint

The UAE has set laudable targets to reduce energy use and ensure new schemes are environmentally friendly, but it is battling negative public perceptions and the fact it has one of the largest carbon footprints in the world.

Relentless construction, and a booming aviation sector and near-permanent air conditioning: Dubai is not an obvious contender for the title of one of the world’s most sustainable cities.

Yet this is the goal the emirate has set itself. Having shaken off the worst effects of the recession, building has again taken off – but this time, the emphasis is on being ‘green’.

In line with the national government's own targets, Dubai has plans to ‘green-up’, or retrofit, existing buildings and cut carbon emissions despite depending heavily on expensive, energy-hungry processes — from the spectacular fountain show staged every 15 minutes outside Dubai Mall to dazzle tourists, to the gallons of water churned up in A/C units each day for residents suffering in the searing temperatures.

By 2030, the government wants to have reduced energy use across the emirate by 30 percent and to generate at least 25 percent of its power from renewable sources, including solar, clean coal and nuclear. It also wants to eliminate waste sent to landfill within 20 years, and devise more sustainable methods of water generation.

A quick riffle through the statistics suggests this could be a tall order. The UAE has one of the largest carbon footprints in the world. The 2015 UAE State of Energy Report, which was published by the government in January and holds the most recent data, says the UAE produced almost 20 tonnes of CO2 emissions per person in 2010, a 63 percent increase from 2000.

Water and electricity generation account for 33 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, followed by transportation, responsible for 22 percent.

In Dubai, an average person uses a mammoth 20,000 kilowatt-hours of energy and 130 gallons of water per year, according to Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), while water consumption across the UAE was estimated to be around 500 litres per day in 2013, according to the Federal Electricity and Water Authority. This was 82 percent above the global average and three times higher than average per capita consumption in the European Union. Waste levels per capita are also among the highest in the world, with Abu Dhabi alone producing between 1.8kg and 2.4kg per person per day – almost double that of the UK.

But the UAE remains resolute, even going so far as to pledge that the site of the World Expo 2020 event Dubai will host in five years’ time will be the “most sustainable ever”. At least 50 percent of the Expo site is to be constructed from recyclable materials and powered with renewable energy, claimed Reem Al Hashimy, UAE minister of state and managing director of the Dubai Expo 2020 Higher Committee, at a conference in March, as she insisted Dubai would play a big role in promoting global environmental sustainability in years to come.

With the UAE on a bigger push than ever to diversify its economy and attract 20 million tourists by 2021, sceptics have dismissed its relatively recent focus on sustainability as a ‘talking shop’. There is an apparent contradiction, they say, between the UAE’s ambitious environmental targets and plans for eye-catching yet unnatural schemes such as Damac’s Dubai Rainforest, intended to be the first tropical rainforest in the Middle East.

Damac senior vice-president Niall McLoughlin responds: “We are very conscious of the need to create this environment to the highest environmental standards and are working with international experts to ensure it meets all requirements.”

One UK-based energy consultant, who asked not to be named, says: “No country that is serious about achieving global business recognition could be seen not to care about the environment. Whether they do enough to change things is a different matter.”

But others say this is not the point. To set - and work towards meeting - clear sustainability targets, is a necessary step for improving the country’s environmental credentials.

“Money and investment are increasingly linked to sustainability, and globally public attitudes demand it,” notes Nicholas Lander, regional sustainability lead at CH2M Hill, who is speaking independently of the company’s role as principal sustainability advisor to the Dubai Expo 2020 delivery team.

“Some people still prioritise short-term gain without understanding how global megatrends will affect these gains in the coming years. But the science and economics of global warming tell us we need to shift towards a green economy to catalyse growth and ensure resilience in the future, and [the UAE] is making efforts to do this.”

Lander says real estate developments that are not demonstrably ‘green’ are losing out in terms of how quickly they sell and the values they command, while market perceptions of sustainability are affecting other sectors, too. “We still have a way to go, but Dubai has shown time and again that it can defy popular expectation and reach its goals.”

Majida Ali Rashid, assistant director-general and head of Dubai Land’s Investment Management and Promotion Center, says Dubai has set a “major goal” to become greener. “Although we are keen to achieve economic development and attract more foreign investment, we are paying attention to sustainability and creating new projects to pursue energy-efficiency,” she says.

“The achievement of such objectives involves significant challenges, but we are able to confront them, thanks to our learning in these areas.”

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that buildings use about 40 percent of global energy. With the UAE’s construction sector gathering pace again, the government updated its environmental performance standards for all new buildings. The UAE Green Building Guidelines,  in place since 2010, were reissued in January 2014 to stipulate minimum standards of energy efficiency, water consumption and materials to be used in new-build properties.

It has also adopted the international LEED green building certification system, with 850 projects either already certified or registered for LEED certification. The State of Energy Report names several of these buildings, including DEWA’s headquarters in Al Quoz and the first ‘green’ mosque in the Islamic world, which opened in Port Saeed last year. There is also the sprawling Masdar  ‘smart city’ under construction in Abu Dhabi, intended as a test-bed for new sustainable technologies.

Rashid claims there is “detailed follow up by official bodies on how these new developments are performing”, and adds efforts are being made to improve energy-guzzling artificial green spaces such as golf courses, by using efficient irrigation techniques and plants that adapt to the prevailing climatic conditions.

Several of the UAE’s biggest developers, including Emaar Properties, are embracing the new requirements.

“Our sustainability commitment is [epitomised] in the Burj Khalifa,” an Emaar Properties spokesperson says. “The tower’s high performance exterior cladding system is designed to withstand the UAE’s summer temperatures. Its condensate collection system provides about 15 million gallons of supplement water per year, equivalent to about 20 Olympic swimming pools, and solar panels are used to meet the bulk of residents’ water heating requirements.”

The Expo 2020 organising committee is still finalising how it will achieve its sustainability methods for the 438-hectare site, but John Martin St Valery, founding partner of the Links Group, which helps new companies set up in the Gulf, says it has an opportunity to make a global mark.

“If the UAE gets this right, which it is likely to do with the vision and drive of the leadership, Expo 2020 could become a global billboard for making ‘eco-cities’ the standard modus operandi,” he says.

Progress already has been made in retrofitting older buildings. Emirates Green Building Council chairman Saeed Al Abbar says an estimated 30,000 of the 120,000 buildings in Dubai have high energy saving potential and the government is seeking to maximise that.

“Dubai is a new city that grew quickly. Many of the first buildings were constructed long before building codes were introduced, which means they are not as efficient as they could be and pose challenges in terms of energy reduction,” he says.

To encourage investment in environmental upgrades, the Ministry of Public Works and Dubai Supreme Council of Energy last month published technical guidelines for retrofitting existing buildings. At the same time, the government is progressing with an ambitious yet unpublicised programme to retrofit some of its oldest properties. The initiative is being led by Etihad Energy Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of DEWA formed two years ago.

Chief executive Stephane Le Gentil says the company is in the process of completing two projects for DEWA worth $10m, as well as  other contracts in the pipeline, including to retrofit all 14 buildings in the Dubai International Financial Centre, and properties on behalf of the Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai Airport Free Zone, Dubai Civil Defence and Wasl Asset Management Group. Agreements have been signed and tenders are being organised, with projects due to start from 2016.

Of the projects on site, the first involves retrofitting DEWA’s headquarters in Bur Dubai and two power stations in Jebel Ali and Rashidiya. The HQ project targets a 31 percent energy reduction with $4.4m of investment, expected to be recouped in cost savings within six years. The power stations retrofit involves upgrading lighting systems to achieve a 68 percent energy reduction, costing $5.7m with a three-and-a-half-year payback.

The second involves retrofitting all 254 commercial buildings in the Jebel Ali Free Zone with energy-efficient chillers, lighting, piping, ventilation and other systems. “The short term goal is to focus on government-owned buildings as they are keen to reduce their bills and lead by example,” says Le Gentil. Within the next three years, he says, the company will seek to contract with residential landlords, but there are inherent challenges because tenants often pay the energy bills, rather than landlords, therefore, with minimal financial benefits they are less incentivised to pay for upgrades.

However, the UAE’s environmental targets “are realistic because the country has to change — it can’t stay as it is,” says Le Gentil. The first retrofits will achieve millions of dollars in savings and proof of the financial benefits will make it easier to convince others to ‘go green’.

Meanwhile, sustainability experts have noticed a fledgling renewables industry in the UAE. And 2015 has been declared the ‘Year of Renewable Energy’.

“The lower oil price and increased awareness of depleting fossil fuels is giving the nascent sector enormous momentum,” St Valery says.

“The UAE is looking to almost double its contribution to these industries to nearly 20 percent of GDP by 2020, so foreign companies that align themselves with this agenda stand to reap significant returns.”

Reda El Chaar, chairman of Dubai-based Access Power MEA, agrees.

“We are seeing huge interest in solar power regionally,” he says. “Dubai is set to award 1,000 megawatts of solar projects this year, that’s a 100-fold increase since last year.

“The economics of solar have changed dramatically over the past three years. [Operational] costs have plummeted by over 50 percent and the MENA solar market is expected to reach over $2bn in 2015, according to research by the Middle East Solar Industry. This presents a compelling investment opportunity.”

The government has sought to incentivise solar development through a payback scheme in which solar panel developers can sell surplus energy to the national grid. However, there are other barriers such as licensing, says St Valery.

“Renewable infrastructure firms do not fit neatly into free zone/foreign corporate ownership rules – they are a bit of a grey area," he says. "So it is not easy for international players to set up in the UAE and there is a shortage of expertise.” His company is lobbying the government to amend licensing rules to open up the market.

The green bond and sukuk sector also has grown - by 50 percent over the past year, according to a Climate Bonds Initiative report last week.

More broadly, the UAE faces behavioural barriers to going green. Says Lander: “Water and waste represent the two biggest challenges. Water is not priced to represent its value and, as a result, it’s wasted.

“Our groundwater resources are running out; salinity in the Gulf is rising due to desalination, and yet people hose down their driveways rather than grab a broom. The technology exists to treat and reuse water, the problem is attitudes that need to be addressed through education and price signals.”

Arabian Business continues to receive mountains of corporate documents, event invitations and other printed material in the post each week, domestic recycling facilities are all but non-existent and last week debate raged over a World Bank report that claimed the UAE had the worst air pollution in the world. The government took the rare decision to issue a statement rejecting the report’s findings and demanding the World Bank disclose the statistical evidence on which it is based.

This is just one example of the noise the UAE is making to shake off what Le Gentil describes as “a negative legacy” of unsustainable practices that developed during the construction boom earlier this century. He believes the country will succeed in its aim, and St Valery concurs: “I do not believe the UAE’s sustainability drive is a fad. The country feels a genuine sense of responsibility and is making a serious effort to change public perceptions.”

Once it has, anything is possible: the UAE may even be growing its own vegetables and using compost toilets and solar-powered bicycles."

End of culled ArabianBusiness.com article by Sarah Townsend.


Saturday, 25 February 2017

Give Ghana@60 Maths and Science Scholarships To Students Opting To Study In Tertiary Institutions In Ghana

Sometimes it is pretty hard to hide one's contempt for our nation's political class. Why do so many of them seldom think topical issues through thoroughly before making pronouncements on them publicly?

What are stakeholder consultations for - if not to ensure good and sensible policy implementation outcomes that will redound to Ghanaian society's overall  benefit, I ask?

As we speak, the Western world  is in the grip of an epidemic of Nazi-era-type, egregious racism - spread by a wave of far-right populist sentiment: that is seeing an upsurge in hate crimes against people of colour in nations such as the U.S., France, the UK, and Holland.

And into this hostile and poisonous social environment, some of the geniuses who now govern  our country are proposing to send 600 young people to study maths and science, on Ghana@60 government scholarships. Incredible.

The question is: How sustainable is  this barely-thought-through idiocy?

Do we not already have hundreds of financially-challenged Ghanaian students on government scholarships overseas - virtually all of whom over the years sundry governments of the day have been  unable to regularly provide adequately for, financially?

So why do some geniuses in  the new Akufo-Addo administration want to add to the numbers of impecunious Ghanaians on government scholarships currently suffering abroad - in nations that have suddenly been transformed into seething cauldrons of racial hatred fueled  by newly-empowered racists and fascists?

The Laud Commey-led events and media sub-committee of the national planning committee of the Ghana@60 Indendence Day anniversary celebrations must shelve the daft and dangerous  idea of sending yet more  daughters and sons of hapless  Ghanaian families to suffer needlessly overseas immediately.

Are those 600 young people not in effect being sent away to unwelcoming foreign lands in which they are going to suffer daily humiliations - that at times could end in violent confrontations with fascists and racists that might  ultimately result in some of their number being maimed,  if they are lucky,  and, worst, being murdered in cold blood?

It will be far more beneficial to all concerned to place those young people in some of the many tertiary institutions spread across Ghana - and offer them scholarships to study science and maths in Ghanaian universities, instead.

After 60 tumultous and challenging years of independence, surely, our nation's  ruling elites need to stop this unpatriotic fetish for hankering after all things foreign?  Ebeei, enti mu endwin kakraa empoh, anaa? Haaba.

Humankind has entered an age of renewed racism in the West resulting from the ascendancy of  far-right Donald Trump-type of leaders. That is the new reality today's Africans must  confront when thinking of venturing abroad to study courses available at home in Ghana's many tertiary institutions.

That is why if it wants to offer scholarships to bright young Ghanaians to study maths and science, Laud Commey's events and media sub-committee, of the national planning committee of the Ghana@60 Independence Day anniversary celebrations, would be wise  to offer its proposed  scholarships to the 600 young people it will select from across the country, to study in tertiary institutions in Ghana instead.

It will not only be foolish, but also extremely unwise to  send those selected 600 brilliant young Ghanaians overseas to be descriminated against by vile, brutish and rabid-racists who - to add insult to injury - are more often than not  mostly poorly-educated on top of their arrogant narrow-mindedness  too. We rest our case.

Friday, 24 February 2017

An Open Letter To Groupe Nduom's Mr. Richmond Keelson

Dear Mr. Keelson,

I was taken aback that you thought I had come to seek CSR funding from Groupe Nduom.

On the contrary, it is Kofi Thompson who is doing the giving in this instance: I have brought your company a unique value-proposition that will not cost your company any money, but will rather enhance your company's already stellar CSR credentials as a dynamic and creative entity, contributing its quota to our collective nation-building effort, yet further.

I am no begger, Mr. Keelson. I would rather starve than beg. Thanks.

This is the gist of the proposition:

My family owns 14-square miles of a freehold upland evergreen rainforest property in the Akyem Juaso section of the Atewa Range - in an area designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA)  by Conservation International after a rapid assessment survey it conducted in the Atewa Range, in 2006.

We intend  to protect our part of the Akyem Juaso section of the Atewa Range upland evergreen rainforest - part of which has been destroyed by illegal gold miners and illegal loggers - by building what will be the world's longest forest canopy walkway (1,000 metres long with 19 bridges), as a centrepiece attraction in a conservation-through-ecotourism initiative to transform the local economy into a green and sustainable one anchored by ecotourism.

We will raise funds for it by initiating a crowdfunding campaign  on GoFundMe - the draft of which I have already prepared.

With respect, actually, it is rather me who wants to teach your company a new way of contributing its employees' skills-sets, in helping to transform rural communities with ecotourism potentials through crowdfunding projects for those communities, in their spare time, as corporate team-bonding exercises.

That is the nature of the value-proposition I am bringing to the table, Mr. Keelson. It is a unique and brilliant concept - even if I say so myself.

The first thing to do is for the team to visit our property, to see what it is actually like themselves on any convenient weekend they choose. We will then arrange a minibus to take them there and back to Accra again, on that  particular weekend they select to visit the area.

Once they see it, and can consequently envision  the transformative impact  of what we seek to do, and understand how we will raise money in a crowfunding campaign together on the GoFundMe platform, we will brainstorm the campaign strategy together.

It is an exciting corporate team-bonding exercise that will give Groupe Nduom the capacity to leverage online crowdfunding as a new way to do CSR projects without the company spending its own money to do so.

If I were to walk away with this win-win CSR opportunity for Groupe Nduom, and take it to an agile team elsewhere that is more receptive of the idea, and  which then opts to collaborate with us to build the canopy walkway, I am afraid you will forever be remembered in your company as the man who - like the guy who missed the opportunity to manage the Beatles when first approached because he did not recognise their potential - failed to grab a unique opportunity for Groupe Nduom when he was approached by Kofi Thompson with the idea.

As we speak,  I have a team - led by a Mr. Mbroh who will accompany us on the scoping visit to the site -  standing by to build the canopy walkway once we raise the money for it.

When we raise the money, it will be the Groupe Nduom team that will recieve and keep that money (every pesewa of it)  and disburse it as and when they see fit - depending on the stage construction work has reached, from time to time - until its completion.

Kofi Thompson will not have access to any of that cash for your information. I have held back from crowdfunding in the past because I was searching for the perfect reputable company to do the project with. Simple, really.

I have not brought you trouble, Mr. Keelson - just an opportunity for your already bright and ascendant  star to shine some more in the eyes of your colleagues as an innovative guy.




The Next Einstein Forum launches search for 54 young African science and technology champions

KIGALI, Rwanda, February 24, 2017/ -- The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) (http://NEF.org) today launches the search for fifty-four science and technology Ambassadors, one champion from each African country. The selected NEF Ambassadors will join the NEF Fellows Class as part of the NEF’s Community of Scientists.   

NEF Ambassadors attend the NEF’s signature event, the NEF Global Gathering, the second edition of which will be held in March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. They will have the opportunity to network with emerging and world renowned scientists and technology leaders as well as industry and policy leaders at an innovative gathering that will focus on how science and technology can solve global challenges, boost sustainable growth and accelerate human development.

“The NEF Global Gathering 2016 held in Senegal was a resounding success, primarily because 60% of the participants were young emerging scientists and technologists. The NEF Ambassadors, part of the NEF Community of Scientists, bring a fresh, local perspective, in addition to their growing expertise in science and technology. NEF Ambassadors will represent their countries and the continent on a global stage, championing science-driven growth and development,” said Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, Chairperson of the NEF and President and CEO of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS).

NEF Ambassadors should be residents of an African country, under forty-two years of age, have completed advanced studies in science, technology or have significant entrepreneurial achievements. They should also have a track record of leadership in their community, be passionate about promoting science and technology, and have an active online profile and following.

“NEF Ambassadors drive the NEF’s local public engagement activities while growing their own careers through the NEF’s partnerships that offer opportunities for mentorship and collaborations with established researchers,” said Dr. Youssef Travaly, NEF Director of Programs and Content. 

Applications are available at www.NEF.org/ambassadors and will be received until 26 May 2017. The final list of NEF Ambassadors will be published in September 2017. See the NEF Ambassadors video teaser here (http://APO.af/CiZbDv).

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Why Does President Akufo-Addo Not Appoint The Hon Yaw Osafo Marfo As Ghana's Next High Commissioner To The UK?

To use an analogy from the game of soccer, one wonders whether President Akufo-Addo cannot  gain more from Hon Yaw Osafo Marfo's many talents, by shifting him from the midfield position to the centre forward position instead.

The Hon Yaw Osafo Marfo is no shrinking violet - and will bat well for Ghana (to use an analogy from my favourite game cricket), if he is sent to the UK as Ghana's next high commissioner to the Court of St James.

Yaw Osafo Marfo, who is now the new Akufo-Addo administration's senior minister - appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament to be vetted not too long ago, following his nomination as senior minister by the president.

It would have been obvious to any keen observer who watched the proceedings of the committee, that Hon Yaw Osafo Marfo was in a combative mood that day.

Clearly, from his body language and tone of voice, it was obvious that he was in no mood to tolerate any disrespectful comments from the committee's minority caucus' members.

In a sense, he  succeeded somewhat, in projecting himself to the committee as a whole as a wise, experienced, competent and world-class professional.

And to the committee's minority caucus' members in particular, he sought to project the image of an experienced politician forced by circumstances to be questioned by youngsters in their salad days in Ghana's  political world. 

One got the distinct impression that he was restraining himself from showing his irritation with political neophytes who he had to condescend to answer irrelevant questions from. Talk about arrogance.

Alas, his arrogance that day has now backfired: the appointments committee's minority caucus' members were quick to spot his recent embarrassment.

They noted what they saw as his comeuppence with satisfaction: The minister of finance's put-down (when he swiftly made it clear to the world that he was definitely not going to use money from the heritage fund into which a portion of oil revenues are lodged - despite  what the Hon Osafo Marfo  had been reported in the media to have suggested to the contrary).

The deflation of Osafo Marfo's massive ego must have been palpable to the Appointment Committee's minority caucus' members - but they must also have felt some pity for him somewhat: on a purely human level. Poor man.

As a matter of fact, Yaw Osafo Marfo's discomfiture, has suddenly made it clear to many Ghanaians that the minister of finance has a mind all his own - and will not brook interference in the  policy formulation and implementation roles assigned to his ministry from any quarter whatsoever. So there.

In short, it has made Yaw Osafo Marfo's  role as the new administration's Czar overlooking  the work of  all governmentt ministers - including economic policy formulation and implementation - appear rather redundant.

Could Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei not do so perfectly, after all?  Is he not a heavy hitter too, I ask?

In any case, despite that apparent slap-in-the-face he has suffered,  our country must perforce  tap Yaw Osafo Marfo's considerable gifts, for the nation-building process now underway.

Post-brexit Britain is keen to leverage emerging markets to replace Europe's single market - access to which it is now going to lose when it finally leaves the European Union (EU).

It is a unique moment in Britain's modern history - as she seeks to realign her trading relationships around the world. And it is the perfect time to make the many win-win investment opportunities available in Ghana known to UK Plc.

It is the considered view of this blog that if the President does some lateral thinking on the subject, he will soon come to realise that indeed Hon Yaw Osafo Marfo is uniquely qualified to be a very effective high commissioner to the UK for Ghana at this juncture of the history of the longstanding Ghana-UK trading relationship.

He is a  very capable gentleman who can drum up considerable investment into Ghana from a post-Brexit UK - now desperate to find new markets: and therefore quite keen to leverage its Commonwealth links to access  thriving emerging markets around the world.

The question is: Why does President Akufo-Addo not appoint the Hon Yaw Osafo Marfo as Ghana's next high commissioner to the Court of St James?

Healthymagination Mother and Child Programme Announces the Graduation of its First Group of Social Entrepreneurs Addressing Maternal & Child Health in Sub-Saharan Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya, February 23, 2017/ --

    GE and Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship will graduate 14 social entrepreneurs who completed training and mentorship aimed at improving and accelerating maternal and/or child health outcomes in Africa

   This programme culminates in a “Premier Pitch” event where 14 finalists will present their respective enterprises to an audience of potential investors

Today, the GE (www.GE.com) healthymagination Mother and Child Programme will graduate 14 social entrepreneurs who completed training and mentorship aimed at improving and accelerating maternal and/or child health outcomes in Africa.

After a rigorous evaluation process, the social enterprises were selected to be in the first cohort of the healthymagination Mother and Child Programme. Throughout the programme, finalists attended a three-day, in-person workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, followed by a six-month online accelerator program that included weekly, in-depth mentoring from Silicon Valley-based executives and local GE business leaders. The program was designed to help the social entrepreneurs acquire business fundamentals, improve their strategic thought processes and articulate a business plan that demonstrates impact, growth and long-term financial sustainability.

“GE believes there is much for social enterprises and large businesses to learn from each other. As the center of the ecosystem, social entrepreneurs are key to building Africa’s sustainable future,” said Robert Wells, Executive Director of healthymagination. “The GE and Miller Center collaboration takes an innovative and highly practical approach to combatting this challenge, by providing social entrepreneurs with the skills and resources they need to expand the positive impact of their interventions.”

This accelerator and mentorship programme culminates today in a “Premier Pitch” event taking place in Nairobi during which the 14 finalists will present their respective enterprises to an audience of potential investors and supporters.

“We are thrilled to graduate our first cohort of social entrepreneurs. This group of people are helping solve some of Africa’s biggest health challenges through their initiatives aimed at improving mother and child care. This is another great example of the strong entrepreneurial spirit in Africa”, said Jay Ireland, President & CEO, GE Africa.

“Addressing the global health challenges of women and children living in sub-standard conditions or facing high-risk pregnancies demands all the determination, diligence and creative solutions we can muster,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “Now the first cohort of social entrepreneurs is emerging, ready to begin making a tangible difference in maternal and child health by leveraging GE’s healthcare expertise and the business-building skills imparted by Miller Center’s Silicon Valley mentors.”

Below are the 14 social enterprises that have completed the healthymagination Mother and Child Programme:

    Access Afya (www.AccessAfya.com) (Kenya; led by Dr. Daphne Ngunjiri) – a social enterprise creating a model for integrated community health through a chain of micro-clinics in Nairobi's slums and a Healthy Schools program that delivers check-ups, treatments and training to children in their schools;
    ayzh (www.ayzh.com) (Kenya; led by Habib Anwar and Zubaida Bai) – a for-profit social venture providing health and livelihood solutions to impoverished women worldwide through developing low-cost, appropriate technology designed to meet the unique needs of women in resource-poor settings;
    Health Builders (www.HealthBuilders.org) (Rwanda; led by Tyler Nelson) – an enterprise that focuses on the core issues that most fundamentally challenge healthcare delivery and enhancing primary care services for over 2 million people across Rwanda;
    Health-E-Net (www.Health-E-Net.org) (Kenya; led by Pratap Kumar) – an enterprise that makes high-quality medical consultations accessible to everyone by linking medical skills all over the world to places where they are in desperately short supply and empowers patients and healthcare providers in developing countries to make better healthcare decisions and seek timely and appropriate care;
    Hewa Tele (http://HewaTele.org) (Kenya; led by Steve Alred Adudans) – a pioneer social enterprise focused on saving lives through the provision of comprehensive, affordable and accessible quality medical oxygen solutions to rural underserved healthcare service organizations throughout East Africa;
    LifeNet International (www.LNInternational.org) (Uganda, Burundi and DRC; led by Stefanie Weiland) – an enterprise partnering with community health centers to build their medical and administrative capacity and connect them with pharmaceuticals and equipment, and ultimately transform primary care for Africa’s poor;
    Lwala Community Alliance (http://LwalaCommunityAlliance.org) (Kenya; led by Julius Mbeya and Ash Lauren Rogers) – a community-led innovator including public health outreach, economic development and education programming with a focus on girls’ and women’s empowerment;
    Nurture Africa (www.NurtureAfrica.ie) (Uganda; led by Brian Iredale) – an enterprise providing access to quality healthcare, education and sustainable livelihoods projects whilst mainstreaming child welfare and gender equality through all our activities;
    Outreach Medical Services (Nigeria; led by Dr. Segun Ebitanmi) – an enterprise addressing the childhood death problem in Nigeria by setting up a chain of women and children hospitals in peri-urban slums of Lagos equipped with stakeholder engagement systems;
    Peach Health (https://About.me/cobby) (Ghana; led by Cobby Amoah) – a mobile electronic medical records system for easily storing healthcare records and detecting high-risk pregnancies within a few minutes aimed at making community health workers more effective at their job, saving the lives of mothers and reducing the cost maternal mortality on families, communities and the country at large;
    PurpleSource Healthcare (http://ThePurpleSource.com) (Nigeria; led by Olufemi Sunmonu) – a healthcare management and investment company with a vision to create integrated private health systems in Nigeria spanning preventive, curative, diagnostic, rehabilitation and wellness healthcare enterprises to address the current quality and outcomes shortcomings in the Nigerian healthcare market;
    Telemed Medical Services (www.HelloDoctorEthiopia.com) (Ethiopia; led by Yohans Emiru) – helloDoctor®, Telemed's flagship product, allows people to call at any time from anywhere in Ethiopia and get instant professional medical advice and address the overall imbalance in health service distribution in the region;
    The Shanti Uganda Society (http://ShantiUganda.org) (Uganda; led by Natalie Angell-Besseling) – an enterprise aiming to eradicate preventable maternal mortality throughout Uganda using a unique collaborative, holistic care model based on the midwifery model of care;
    Village HopeCore International (http://VillageHopeCore.org) (Kenya; led by Anne Gildea) – a medical diagnostics service provider focusing on affordable, mobile ultrasounds in Kenya.

For more information on the programme, kindly visit www.SCU-Social-Entrepreneurship.org/mother-and-child.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Sage Foundation launches $1 million Enterprise Fund to inspire innovation and change in Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, February 22, 2017/ -- Sage (www.Sage.com/za), the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, payroll & HR, and payment systems, has today launched Sage Foundation’s Enterprise Fund (https://www.Sage.com/company/sage_foundation). The new $1 million fund is open to non-profits in Africa with enterprising ideas to help improve the lives of military veterans, young people or women and girls.

Every day, across Africa inspiring non-profit leaders, volunteers and their supporters are working tirelessly to make their communities better places to live. Sage Foundation’s Enterprise Fund has been designed to support those organisations generate further income, create new initiatives or enhance existing and proven activity.

The $1 million will be split between two rounds of $500,000; with the second round ready for release in July 2017. Applications for the first round are open until April 5; grants between $5,000 and $35,000 will then be awarded to successful applicants.  

All applications that fulfil the eligibility criteria will be considered. However, Sage Foundation is especially keen to support organisations that are currently small but have ambitions to expand, grow and deliver sustainable change. It is also hoped that the fund will support needs such as; capital projects, core running costs or new innovations.

“Sage Foundation’s Enterprise Fund is designed to help organisations generate further income, create new initiatives or enhance existing activity,” says Joanne van der Walt (https://twitter.com/Jovanderwalt), Sage Foundation Manager, Africa at Sage. “There are some wonderful charities across Africa who has innovative yet practical ideas about how they can solve some of the socio-economic challenges their communities face each day. We want to help them turn these exceptional ideas into reality.”

Sage Foundation’s Enterprise Fund was originally announced at Sage Summit in Chicago in July 2016, part of a series of new initiatives to mobilise Sage colleagues, partners and customers around a common vision for change.  As part of 2017’s new Sage Summit Tour, Sage Foundation will be working with Sage’s brilliant network of business builders, to take action together.

Since January 2016, Sage Foundation has been taking action to build sustainable social, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities in Sage’s local communities around the world. By investing and supporting non-profit partners that are helping people reach their true potential, and committed to doing business the right way.

Sage Foundation is powered by the ‘2+2+2’ model. Through this, Sage Foundation donates: 2% of employee time each year (5 volunteer days), 2% of free cash flow in grants and 2 donated software licenses to eligible partners.

At the Sage Summit Tour in Johannesburg from 7-9 March this year, Sage will update delegates about how the Sage Foundation is making a difference for communities and non-profit organisations across Africa with its approach to social investment. It will also disclose how the Enterprise Fund will benefit the region’s charities.

Click here (www.Sage.com/enterprisefund) to check if your non-profit is eligible for Sage Foundation’s Enterprise Fund. Follow @SageFoundation (https://twitter.com/sagefoundation) for the latest from our community.

Should The NDC Become A Radical Party In Order To Return To Power Again?

It is perfectly understandable that the National Democratic Congress' (NDC) leaders take umbrage whenever former President Mahama is belittled by his political opponents in any way.

However, whiles it is politic to defend President Mahama's administration's record,  it is also vital that the NDC's leadership focuses on what will enable their party to be returned to power again.

That future, of necessity, must preclude President Mahama's active participation in the party's affairs - for, unfortunately, his very person personifies and symbolises the past incarnation of the NDC, which was so roundly rejected  by a majority of voters in the December 2016 polls.

Unpalatable though that might be to many NDC bigwigs, unfortunately, that is the truth of the matter.

On a purely human level, President Mahama was an affable leader, who got on well with all those he interacted with during his tenure. Literally. So in that sense he was a good leader who strove to keep the country unified during the period he led Ghana as president.

However, his time  in active politics is now over. That is the reality the NDC's entire membership must come to terms with. With respect, John Mahama is now history - from the NDC perspective.

The good news for the NDC's members, is that it is also a fact that history has  always been kind to those in the world of politics, who gave their all in serving their people, whiles in power.

That is why this blog is confident that in time former President Mahama's legacy will come to be properly recognised. He will then be given his due by his nation. He was, after all, very successful in keeping Ghana stable and peaceful throughout his tenure as president.

One is also absolutely sure that former President Mahama will eventually become a much-loved figure in our  national life.

Having done his best for his country, we should agree with those in his family who counsel that the time has now come for him to retire from active politics.

No doubt, like former U.S. President Carter - who also was destined to serve only one term in office but has become a global icon of good causes -  former President Mahama will in time become a well-respected African statesman who specialises in conflict prevention and resolution across the continent.

This blog humbly suggests that President Akufo-Addo encourages former President Mahama to bring the warring factions in Southern Sudan to Ghana, to hold discussions that will help end the civil strife there, with backing from the government of Ghana, which should facilitate the talks for the sake of the people of that benighted sister African nation of ours.

Such vital peace-building and conflict-resolution  work is perfectly suited to the affable and welcoming nature of former President Mahama who luckily is widely respected and admired by virtually all the continent's leaders. So perforce former President Mahama must move on - and leave NDC internal politics behind and rise above national party politics to the statesman-plane.

Having now moved on with his personal life, the members of the NDC need to halt their knee-jerk reaction to criticism of their former leader, by his political opponents. There is no point to that anymore.

Former President Mahama will always be OK - and is in fact actually OK as it happens. An exciting career as an 'elder' African statesman awaits him going forward into the future. He gave his all to his nation and its people - and deep down in their hearts most ordinary Ghanaians know that.

Perhaps Providence made him lose the presidency in order to make John Mahama's very  considerable governance  experience available to  the rest of Africa - so that the continent's leaders can tap into the invaluable governance-store-of-knowledge  he built up as Ghana's leader.

So it serves no purpose - in a nation  now agog and giddy with the euphoria of great expectations raised by the many promises made to voters by the New Patriotic Party  (NPP) during the election campaign - for the NDC to fight many-fronted-battles against those disrespecting their former leader. It is pointless. Period.

President Nkrumah, whose nation-building legacy is today recognised by all Ghanaians - many of whom can still see solid evidence of his achievements all around the country - was also accused of piling up debt after his overthrow by his short-sighted and narrow-minded political opponents: who did everything they could to erase his name from Ghana's history.

In the end they failed miserably  - so the NDC's members must stop tripping (to use a word favoured by an African American friend who sadly passed away years ago) when President Mahama is belittled unfairly by his political opponents. That meanness of their political opponents, shall pass. Soon.

Over time, John Mahama's period as president will come to be seen as the era when the physical development of Ghana was accelerated to provide the solid infrastructural base needed to transform the national economy. So the NDC's members must take heart.

Although it is obvious that many of them are suffering from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, after their painful defeat in the December 2016 polls, nonetheless, the NDC's members need to also understand clearly that their party has to become a radically different political party, if it is to survive, thrive and become electable again.

It can no longer be business as usual doing the old-style politics of sabotaging the nation-building effort whiles in the political wilderness - something  the NPP excelled at throughout the period it was in opposition, incidentally. 

The NDC must put the past behind it, and work hard to end its life as a party dominated by clever wheeler-dealers who are consummate deal-makers able to generate billions in secret public procurement  kickbacks to fund party activities.

Let them leave that old fashioned opaque way of doing politics to the NPP.

The NDC must now be transformed into a grassroots political party dominated and led by altruistic individuals of unalloyed integrity dedicated to empowering Ghana's base-of-the-pyramid demographic - through party social entrepreneurial  programmes that directly help disadvantaged Ghanaians to bootstrap their own climb out of poverty.

They can adapt Hezbolla's social relief programmes in the Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps to our situation here to help  empower disadvantaged communities and individuals.

The NDC must also become a party that advocates radical societal change, such as the passage of new laws permitting the legal takeover by grassroots communities of all lands in Ghana held in trust by Chiefs for their people.

Such lands will then go to landless families countrywide to: build their own homes on if they so desire; to landless young people wanting land to farm on; and for community projects for the common good of local people nationwide.

And given the widespread use of mobile phones, ordinary people must be given the right to benefit from what after all are  public resources given out to telcos to profit from: radio frequencies.

Free access to an agreed minimum amount of talk time and data ought to become basic human rights for all Ghanaians. The new NDC  must advocate for those rights for ordinary Ghanaians.

And it must make the ring-fencing of profits from the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) to fund truly affordable well-designed and well-built housing in green gated communities nationwide a key policy objective. Access to affordable housing must be made a human right n a Ghana under the next NDC administration.

The new NDC must demand constitutional changes that will make gender parity in Ghana a reality. It must aim to make Ghana a nation in which half the seats in Parliament  are reserved for women. Ditto half the president's cabinet members - and half of all appointments to positions in the upper echelons of the public-sector should be reserved for women.

Above all, to protect vulnerable people - both male and female - in relationships, the new NDC must demand that the legal rights enjoyed by married couples ought to be extended to all relationships lasting more that 6 months. Will that not stop promiscuity in Ghana in its tracks, I ask?

The NDC's leadership are always welcome  to approach this blog for further free consultancy tips.
Because one loves Mother Ghana passionately, one will always be happy to help every political party that  approaches one. For free.

In the case of the new NDC, I will still help that party out, despite the fact that some of its members (who were in the Mahama administration) were behind  illegal gold miners who destroyed my family's organic cocoa plantation at Akyem Juaso: apparently to punish me for constantly criticising their hard-of-hearing regime. But I digress.

Luckily for the party's members, the NDC  does not have to go far, to find an altruistic servant-leader to eventually lead it back to power again.

They currently have in their midst a very capable, dynamic and  sincere  servant-leader-type who might very well lead them back to power again (in either four or eight years hence) as a radical party of fundamental change in Ghana: Hon Ezenator Rawlings.

She must lead that transformation of the NDC into a radical party for fundamental change in Ghanaian society and the transformation of our country into an African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

President Akufo-Addo's Maiden State Of The Nation Address - And Some Of The Day's Events In Parliament

President Akufo-Addo's maiden state of the nation address (SOTNA) impressed me. It was well-written and in parts very inspirational.

Clearly, he wants to be a leader who will boldly confront the many challenges that face our country and overcome them - by transforming the Ghanaian economy. Cool.

We must all do what we can to make sure he succeeds in his aim of creating a prosperous society in Ghana as responsible citizens who love their country.

A prosperous Ghana will benefit all the  hardworking citizens of our country - wherever they reside in the ten regions that presently make up our nation's landmass.

For that reason the vast majority of Ghanaians are eagerly awaiting details of the Akufo-Addo administration's plans to revive the national economy when the finance minister presents the new government's first budget this March.

Judging by the rest of the contents of his SOTNA to Parliament, the president has the makings of a truly great leader - if he commits to a genuine one-nation ethos to underpin the work of his administration.

Naturally, to be successful in that, he must resist the extreme partisanship of the powerful,  closet tribal-supremacist hardliners in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) he leads - who need to recognise that no tribe is superior or inferior to another in the Ghana of today.

Ghana belongs to all its people - all of  whom have an equal stake in their nation: no matter their political backgrounds; their religious faith; the resource-base of the part of our country they hail from; and their gender.

Any president of Ghana who understands the urgent imperative of having to actively protect what is left of our nation's natural heritage, ought to be supported by environmental activists across our country, to do so successfully.

That will protect the quality of life of present and future generations of our people. The president will therefore have the active support of this blog in the implementation of  his administration's policies to protect the natural environment throughout Ghana.

And any president who sees the need to have a flourishing renewable energy sector that makes independent power generation and off-grid energy independence possible nationwide to provide affordable electricity, ought to be supported by all Ghanaians.

Since the only way ordinary Ghanaians can have access to affordable eletricity, is to switch to renewable energy generation with storage and  empower themselves with the option of off-grid energy independence,  this blog fully supports the president's plans for growing the renewables sector's capacity.

In publicly condemning the lawlessness of the extremists in his party since the NPP came to power, and making it clear to Ghanaians that he has instructed the head of the Ghana Police Service, the acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), David  Asante-Appeatu, to halt all such lawlessness, the president has at long last sent a signal to the world that he is an African leader who truly believes in the rule of law.

Our view on this matter is that President Akufo-Addo misjudged the national mood on this contentious issue, and failed our country in not earlier publicly demanding an end to the atrocities committed by the so-called "Invincible Forces" - who have shown by their actions across Ghana that many of them are criminals in all but name. Still, better late than never, is our verdict here.

The president can redeem his image somewhat in this matter, by making sure that all the militias operated covertly as private security companies  by wealthy party extremists in virtually all the political parties to intimidate their opponents, are banned, forcibly disbanded and their owners' licenses revoked swiftly by the security agencies.

The world is watching what the president does about the so-called "Invincible Forces" whose egregious barbarism has attracted worldwide attention and widespread condemnation on social media platforms - so he must definitely  take action against them and do so quickly through his very able and principled national security  minister, Hon Albert Kan Dapaah.

It is now up to the acting IGP to ensure that the so-called "Invincible Forces" and their equivalents in all the other political parties that maintain private militias disguised as security companies, are banned and forcibly disbanded as soon as practicable.

In an age of global terrorism we should not allow political parties to endanger the safety of our republic by maintaining private militias. Who knows when some of them will switch their allegiance to global terrorist groups for compelling financial reasons?

One could also sense that the president wants the nation to revisit the arguments about Founder's Day. It has something to do with the Akyem side of his family clan's obsession with Dr. J. B. Danquah.

That is a dubious enterprise to be truthful. For the sake of the cohesion of Ghana, he must resist the pressure being brought to bear upon him (and perhaps by his own personal inclination) by the Akyem-empire-builders in his extended family clan from Akyem Abuakwa.

The desire to foist Dr. J. B.  Danquah on the nation as a national hero must be resisted by all fair-minded Ghanaian nationalists of today.

He was an unalloyed and unrepentant tribal-supremacist. And, bottom line: Danquah was a paid agent of  Western intelligence agencies. National heroes are neither quislings nor paid agents of foreign intelligence agencies. Period.

No amount of revisionist maneuvering can change the reality of the vision that eventually prevailed in the twilight years of the Gold Coast colony and led to the nation-state we all owe allegiance to,  today, and are proud citizens of.

The fact of the matter is that Dr. J. B. Danquah & Co wanted a completely different nation to replace the Gold Coast after independence from the occupying British colonialists.

The last thing Danquah and his elitist-acolytes wanted - but which the non-tribalistic, and egalitarian Nkrumah and his Convention People's Party (CPP) government wanted for the masses - was  the unitary Ghanaian nation-state of today. Nkrumah was acutely aware that inherited privilege is the greatest enemy of meritocracy.

Essentially, Danquah & Co wanted a federation that would be a modern version of the pre-colonial traditional system - governed by the progeny of its ruling elites, who  would dominate a federal state made up of the pre-colonial tribal entities that existed before the first Europeans set foot on our shores - to replace the Gold Coast after independence.

That post-colonial vision of our newly-independent nation parlayed by Danquah & Co, was rejected by the masses of our people in the elections of 1951, 1954 and 1956 - because they recognised that it favoured an elite whose sole qualification for leadership was based on inherited privelege, who would thus dominate them in perpetuity.

They therefore voted freely to make Nkrumah our first post-independence leader because they preferred his vision of the meritocratic society in the new African nation that would emerge after independence, in which there would universal adult suffrage that would enable them elect the nation's leaders.

Not for the masses of the Gold Coast an ossified, backward and nepotistic-system, in which kingmaker-mothers could select their own offspring as leaders - who then subsequently select their own female siblings as new  kingmakers to succeed their kingmaker-mothers: upon their death. Incredible.

That is the reason why Nkrumah - who incidentally acknowledged the efforts over the  decades prior to his arrival on the scene from the UK of all those nationalists who throughout the occupation by  Britain of the Gold Coast fought for our nation's independence - is indeed the founder of modern Ghana and deserves to be recognised as such. But I digress.

To continue with one's observations about today's events at Parliament, one also needs to comment about the security of our leaders - or the lack thereof. To be charitable, it leaves a lot to be desired.

That is why it is vital that those in charge of the personal security of our leaders are sent to the UK as soon as practicable, to see how the Queen and other members of the royal family, the UK prime minister, leaders of the opposition parties, cabinet ministers and other UK dignatories are protected in an age of global terrorism -  and to be trained by the Metropolitan Police Service in the latest VIP protection strategies to better protect our leaders.

It is outrageous that in an age when terrorists have the capacity to strike randomly at outdoor public events around the globe, we are so relaxed about the security of our president that photo journalists are allowed to race each other in haphazard fashion inside the security cordon around him to get good photographs of the president  inspecting the guard of honour formed by a detachment from the Ghana Air Force in front of Parliament.  How can that be?

As much as is possible, there must always be a tight security cordon around the president and vice-president, access to which must be severely restricted. Let us not wait for disaster to strike before we decide to offer better protection for those who lead our country.

The laxity in the protection of our leaders is shocking and scandalous - and must cease henceforth. The security agencies must do better in this regard. We must not take chances with the lives of any of our leaders.

Hopefully, the Hon Kan Dapaah, the minister in charge of national security will arrange the training  in the UK for the Ghana Police Service's VIP protection unit soon. The training of trainers in the UK can then proceed after that first batch returns  home.

Finally, President Akufo-Addo must be congratulated for delivering a very good maiden state of the nation address. He has given many  Ghanaians  reason to be hopeful about their nation's future.  Fantastic.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Former President Rawlings Must Intervene To Seek The Release Of Detained Flagstaff House Soldier

It never ceases to amaze me that so many Ghanaian politicians have the propensity to quickly forget the days of their existence as ordinary people, during extended periods spent in the political wilderness, once their party  wins power and they are lucky enough to be appointed to positions in the new administration.

Yet, the sensible thing for wise politicians to do whiles in power,  is to be guided in all their official  undertakings, by their lived-experiences as ordinary people, during the years they spent in the political wilderness.

That is what will  enable them to stay grounded and remain humble whiles in office: and relate well with the ordinary people of the nation they were elected to serve - during all their interactions with the general public in stakeholder consultations. Simple common sense.

The question there is: Why are some New Patriotic Party (NPP) members who should know better assuming airs all of a sudden - and forgetting the principles they expoused whiles in the political wilderness?

This is still a nation of laws in case some of them forget. And have they  not always proclaimed to be a party that believes in the rule of law, I ask? So what has gone wrong all of a sudden for NPP  thugs to be given carte blanche to terrorise a section of Ghanaian society?

How can the NPP possibly justify  putting the security of the presidency  of our nation in the hands of  the so-called "Invincible Forces" - when our nation has some of the finest, most disciplined and professional police and military officers in the world?

The question is: Why has the soldier suspected of  allegedly leaking a CCTV clip of a violent attack by civilian thugs on a police officer on duty in the Flaggstaf House been detained?

What is his crime exactly - when his loyalty had to be to Mother Ghana only in the bizzare circumstances he found himself at that particular point in time: when an astonishing and near-treasonable act by common criminals employed by some of those now in power (who were assaulting a senior police officer assigned to the security detail at the presidency), was in progress?

Between that brave and patriotic soldier, and the brutish criminals who were filmed attacking the said senior police officer, who should be in detention - whiles investigations into that horrific and unjustified  assault are conducted?

The disgraceful occupation of the presidency by thugs employed by  NPP elements as security guards, since President Akufo-Addo was sworn into office on 7th January, 2017, marks a new low-point in Ghanaian  democracy. It is unprecedented and a most dangerous development in our nation's politics.

It is totally unjustifiable  - in what is said to be democratic country in which the rule of law ought to prevail - for some of those now in power to put the presidency under the jackboots of brutish criminals who apparently answer only to  powerful extremist individuals in  the NPP's heirachy. That is an abomination in our democracy. Pure and simple.

This is an intolerable situation and the sooner the heads of all the security agencies  made representations to the president - through the decent-minded minister in charge of national security, Hon Albert Kan Daapah - about this unspeakable and unpardonable political monstrosity the better it will be all round.

The heads of all the security agencies must also demand  that the so-called "Invincible Forces" are  banned and disbanded immediately - and the license issued to the company's promoters swiftly revoked. They undoubtedly pose a risk to the safety of the republic.

This is not some trivial national security aberration that the heads of the security agencies must continue to put up with any longer - for the private militias operated by political parties in Ghana to intimidate their opponents are a source of potential widespread violence that can affect Ghana's long-term stability.

That is why they must also insist that other private militias disguised as employees of private security companies operated by extremist elements in all the other political parties should also be banned and disbanded - and licenses issued to their promoters revoked immediately. Period.

This is a constitutional democracy not an NPP paramilitary dictatorship remotely-controlled by faceless  extremist individuals from the shadows. The NPP was not given a mandate by voters to put a private militia  owned by NPP extremists in charge of national security.

We will not tolerate such barbarism  at the very heart of the system anymore. Who do these  people think they are - bringing thugs to control security at the presidency of our republic? 

The question we must all ponder over is: Why do some Ghanaian politicians become so power-drunk and act as if they and their party will be in power till the very end of time - once their party wins power after elections?

Is this not a nation in which voters have consistently turfed out governing political parties after every eight years in power? What makes these morons think their party will be in power forever?

After all, did leading figures in the NPP  not criss-cross Ghana during the 2016 election campaign, pleading with voters to give them the chance to govern this country - and bring about change for the better? Is such thuggery at the heart of the presidency good governance, I ask?

If it is true that that detained soldier was the one who leaked the CCTV clip of lawless civilians - virtual criminals working for the NPP who  have moved into the presidency, the seat of our government, and have more or less established a reign of terror across Ghana in the short space of time that the NPP has taken over the running of the affairs of our country - then he is a national hero: and must regarded as such by all patriotic Ghanaians.

OccupyGhana and other patriotic and truly- independent, apolitical civil society organisations must adopt him and take up his case - and start a global social media campaign calling for his immediate release from detention, by President Akufo-Addo's regime.
It is important that those who are the paymasters of the so-called "Invincible Forces" never forget that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will not be in power for more than eight years, at the most. What then?

Let them also understand clearly that they will all pay for the crimes their charges are committing in their names today, tomorrow, when the NPP finally loses power again - a possibility they are only hastening with their thugs' arrogant and foolish disregard for the rule of  law: as evidenced by the unlawful conduct of those reckless myrmidon-thugs in  their employ across Ghana.

Finally, with respect, since he says he admires President Akufo-Addo because he is a principled politician, and is therefore praying for him to succeed (just as virtually all Ghanaians - myself included - are incidentally), former President Rawlings must intervene in this matter and ask the current president to order the immediate release of that patriotic soldier.  Enough is enough. Haaba.

Hmm, Ghana - enti yewieye paa enei? Asem kesie ebeba debi ankasa.

Africa market to immensely benefit from ‘DEAL 2017’ in Dubai: IEC

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, February 20, 2017/ -- The region will witness the largest show in the amusement industry – DEAL 2017 (www.DEALMiddleEastShow.com), to provide an effective platform for the stakeholders within the African entertainment and amusement sector, as per International Expo Consults (www.IECDubai.com), the organisers of the show. In the wake of growing developments in the African region, it is essential for shows like DEAL to bring key players of the amusement and leisure industry to converge at a focal point to showcase ingenious products which can benefit the market.

“DEAL has been steadily gaining popularity on all fronts as the African amusement sector will benefit immensely from the show. The future looks promising for the African amusement sector which has reported a steady growth on the revenue forefront. Africa has been growing in terms of tourism and infrastructure. We have full faith that we are going in the right path and are confident that the amusement industry in Africa will yield 100 percent results. We are quite pleased to see new faces from Africa at DEAL 2017 and are sure that they will get to meet new contacts to expand their business,” said Mr. Sharif Rahman, CEO, IEC.

According to Forbes magazines, Africa will see new malls in the next two years where more global brands will find more space and better infrastructure. It adds that the continent is home to 45 million households having what it terms as ‘discretionary income’. With the new malls attracting brands that were only known through cable television, Forbes says the African market can no longer be viewed as a secondary one.

Africa’s population is set to grow to 2.3 billion by 2050. In contrast to the rest of the world, however, its booming population is getting younger. African millennials are changing their consumer spending patterns, from markets to malls, where they can eat, socialize and get entertained at Family Entertainment Centers (FEC)s apart from shopping. Also there have been key amusement parks in Egypt, Nigeria, Tunisia and South Africa which have enticed people around the African region.

The tourism industry in Africa shows incredible opportunity for growth and, despite some challenges, many tourism businesses are showing increasing interest in investing in the continent's tourism offerings. Themeparks and malls are set to be a crowd puller to raise the revenues to contribute to the African countries GDP. African tourism has seen a boost is simultaneous to the economic growth being experienced across many parts of the continent. Reports predict that direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP will increase by 4.8% per annum, to USD121.3bn which is approximately 3.2% of GDP by 2026.

The Dubai Entertainment Amusement and Leisure (DEAL) show has shaped the region’s entertainment industry for the past two decades and it has brought together great minds and their world class innovations all under one umbrella. DEAL has led the amusement and entertainment space during this period and the testimony to this is the fact that exhibitors at DEAL 2016 have signed multi-million dollar contracts in just 3 days. Foraying into the 23rd edition, DEAL 2017 expects to witness an even larger gathering of key players and visitors in the amusement industry from Middle East, US, Mediterranean, Asian, and especially African countries.

DEAL, since its inception in 1995 has developed into an unparalleled platform that gathers exhibitors, buyers, and professionals from the international amusement and entertainment industry. DEAL is the region's most anticipated and leading attraction for global and local stakeholders in the amusement and entertainment industries. The show is slated to be held from 27th - 29th March 2017 at Halls 1, 2, 3 & 4 at the iconic Dubai World Trade Centre.