OUR FOOD SECURITY ISSUE:
R2 9, 95
Is s u e 2 9
In conversation with Philafrica Foods CEO Roland Decorvet and exploring ideas to overhaul agriculture training in Africa.
Giving hope to our families. That's
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
10 Philafrica CEO Roland Decorvet
19 Overhauling Agriculture training
21 How to fix the "Africa Rising" narrative
24 Why Parents Have Their Work Cut Out For Them
26 Book Review
28 E. Olwagen - Boogertman Design Team Leader
32 Corporate Corruption in South Africa
36 Help from IMF to fix SA Economy
39 In Conversation with Flavian Marwa
41 Joburg - The Dubai of Southern Africa www.theafricanpro.com
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A LOT TO PONDER THIS DECEMBER...
he ANC’s much anticipated Elective Conference will take place from 16 – 20 December 2017 according to Secretary General Gwede Mantashe. The heated contest is between Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former AU Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana DlaminiZuma who turned down a second term to run for the ANC’s Presidency. The Conference should focus on the latest tax revenue numbers and growing spending controls that have increased the budget deficit’s prospects for stabilisation. Business confidence is deeply depressed, because of the economy struggling to grow, and largely because business sees little actual progress in National Development Plan implementation and is therefore concerned over the ability of the economy to move onto a higher structural growth path. These concerns are aggravated by issues like corruption, patronage, and lately over concerns around ‘State Capture’.
There is a lot of concern and a lot to ponder this December. This includes a punishing drought that has crippled the Western Cape and food security in general in many parts of Africa. In this issue, we speak to CEO at Philafrica Foods Roland Decorvet about his deeper calling of transforming Africa by investing in food processing and Agriculture – Philafrica’s role means working closely with small-holder farmers on crop variety improvement and technical assistance as Roland is a firm believer that the World will feed itself in Africa where the land is. We further publish the words of Frans Swanepoel who offered in The Conversation Africa, ideas to overhaul agriculture training in South Africa. This discourse is very important given that agriculture delivers more jobs per rand invested than any other productive sector. If the entire agriculture value chain is considered in South Africa, its contribution to GDP reaches approximately 12%. We further feature the Chief Solutions Officer at SqwidNet Phathizwe Malinga; he is responsible for developing the strategy and connected devices solutions divisions for SqwidNet, a subsidiary of Dark Fibre Africa. SqwidNet is focussed on providing South Africa's first nationwide IoT network. Beyond the ‘Ponderous’ December, we wish you a ‘Prosperous’ 2018. MZUKONA MANTSHONTSHO Publishing Executive
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ROLAND DECORVET PHILAFRICA FOODS CEO
HILAFRICA FOODS is headquartered in South Africa where the organisation owns and operates maize mills, wheat mills, an oilseed-crushing, extraction, and refining plant, as well as animal feed manufacturing plants spanning all animal categories. Philafrica Foods is owned by AFGRI Group Holdings, an investment holding company with interests in a number of agricultural-related companies providing products and services to ensure sustainable agriculture. The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) defines food security as existing when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The CFS adopted this definition, but recognises that there are important capabilities that go beyond the availability of food that is nourishing, the resources with which to access this food and the way food is utilised. These include the stability of the food system in terms of prices, quality and safety, the agency of those in the food system, including consumers, to make informed choices, and even the physical ability to absorb the nutrients that are provided by food. Philafrica Foods has a vision to unlock the potential of African agriculture. With millions of hectares of high potential agricultural lands - and only a
small portion currently under cultivation - Africa holds the potential to feed the world. The harsh reality is that most African countries are net importers of processed food products. Philafrica Foods believes that the most effective way to transform African agriculture is to create market pull through large-scale food processing by supporting each stage of the value chain and care for all stakeholders. The African Professional Magazine spoke to CEO at Philafrica Foods Roland Decorvet about his personal, professional, and entrepreneurial journey thus far. The word Phil means love in Greek hence the name Philafrica, meaning the love of Africa. Tell us about your early life and your role today With Swiss origins, I started from the bottom as a sales executive at Nestle in China until I became the Chairperson. Three years ago, I left the business and followed a personal passion at MercyShips a christian NGO managing the largest civilian hospital ship in the world sailing around Africa and helping communities. Following another deeper calling, a year later, I got know the owners of AFGRI and the CEO Chris Venter, and we realized we had the same vision of transforming Africa by investing in food processing and Agriculture but in a different way. The world will feed itself in Africa where the land is.
What does your role mean to you? The role means vertical integration straight back to the farm gate. It means working closely with smallholder farmers on crop variety improvement and technical assistance. It means staying current on global commodity markets to ensure leading procurement practices. It means implementing best-in-class manufacturing practices and adapting the business model based on how the local market operates. It is doing business differently, disruptively, and with a good dose of love. Love - in the way we treat our employees, in the way we treat our farmers, and in our long-term commitment to the continent of Africa. What initiative would leave the greatest impact for you and for Africa as a whole? I am proud to say that Philafrica Foods has entered into a 50/50 joint venture with NovosHorizontes (“New Horizons”), an integrated chicken producer located in northern Mozambique. This forms part of Philafrica Foods’ planned investment of between R1 billion and R1.5 billion over the next 18-24 months in Africa. With a focus on investing in food categories across Africa, and on locally-sourced raw materials, Philafrica is actively seeking investment opportunities on the continent, with
NovosHorizontes being the first of many. NovosHorizontes with a core vision of unlocking the potential – both in terms of labour and land – in Mozambique by supporting smallholder farmers in agribusiness.
The joint venture with Philafrica Foods will allow the company to continue its expansion in that country. We saw in NovosHorizontes a trusted partner, a profitable business, and importantly, having the same values as us in terms of transforming the lives of smallholder farmers. Moreover, our expertise in rendering, feed mixing and poultry will drive substantial synergies as the company expands in Mozambique. Currently 60 to 70% of the poultry consumed in Mozambique is imported, and thus there is massive opportunity. We there see immense potential to replace imported products with local production and are pleased to have found a strong operating partner in Mozambique with decades of experience in the poultry value chain. What would you say are the most critical resources for your successful leadership? How would people describe you as a Leader?
survival with regards to food security. Trust, delegation and empowering the people in my team are important for me. If you want your team members to be entrepreneurs, you must treat them like entrepreneurs. What is the legacy that you would want to leave by the time you retire? I would like to see many factories across Africa processing African raw materials while helping millions of people mostly small farmers, allowing them to be empowered. How do you strike the balance of career, business and interpersonal skills? I do not have much to prove in my role. I have spent over 20 years in the corporate space and have done it all. All I want now is to create, build a business in a different way – as much as making a profit and industrial growth is important, making a social impact and putting individual businesses and ordinary people’s lives is my calling. How has the company done in terms of business growth objectives? The business is doing well so far, we currently have a R5billion business and we looking at acquiring or setting up three to four meaningful business deals per year.
I do not need people who just love Africa, I want people who have a calling and love African people and their
How do you maintain ethics, integrity and professionalism? It is important to choose and recruit the right people to work with and businesses you partner with. Think long-term in whatever you do. Having a strong work ethic and philosophy that is published for all to see in the workplace is important. How do you participate in mentorship, if you do? I am a firm believer that we should employees that treat their work as they would if they were running their own businesses. How does the company contribute to the community? Philafrica Foods announced its acquisition of a majority stake in The Dutch Agricultural Development & Trading Company’s (DADTCO) cassava processing activities. DADTCO has pioneered an innovative mobile cassava processing technology that is having a major positive impact on Africa’s smallholder farmers. With existing operations in Mozambique and advanced projects in West Africa, Philafrica Foods is looking to leverage DADTCO’s technology and its management team’s extensive experience to scale cassava processing in sub-Saharan Africa (“SSA”). DADTCO’s vision to unleash the potential of cassava throughout
Africa, the technical expertise of its management team, and innovative mobile processing technology, align perfectly with our vision and values at Philafrica Foods. Cassava is a root crop grown in tropical climates – in Africa it is the second largest source of carbohydrates after maize. Currently eight of the top 10 producers globally are in SSA, with a total of 145 million MTs – 54% of global production – produced annually in Africa. There are many advantages to cassava, amongst these being that it needs less water to grow than maize and rice, making it an attractive crop for smallholder farmers and it can remain underground for more than two years after maturity, reducing the need for large storage facilities. Philafrica Foods will actively pursue close collaboration with donors to make the mobile cassava processing technology available to as many smallholder farmers in SSA as possible. How is the company doing in terms of Transformation objectives? If you are in the food business, it is imperative to have the right diversity in the teams and have people who understand the end consumers. Don’t be a politically correct business in your dealings; rather have a smart business that understands the people you serve. How do you ensure the company is delivering quality customer service?
Service is key, if you don’t perform and deliver on your promise, people will go somewhere else. Food safety and food quality is a must, sophisticated laboratories that will ensure country and universal quality standards in the different markets you are in is vital. What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night in terms of your role? My issue is not having enough good and qualified people in our human capital at Philafrica Foods who love people and are willing to travel to the markets we want to venture into. What have been the highs and lows in your working career? The China experience where I moved (over 20 years) from being a sales consultant to being the Chairperson of Nestle there was a highlight – my experience at Mercy ships was remarkable. The lows would be when the people you trust turn around to stab you!
What awards have you or the company won? Philafrica Foods was only officially launched in April 2017. Whilst I was Chairperson at Nestle in China in 2013, I won the Business man of the Year Award. I also won the Man of Year Award at 2014 in Switzerland (Bilanz Magazine). When you not at work, what do you get up to, including family life and where can people follow you online? My wife and four girls aged between 9 and 13 years keep me so busy when I am not at work, I enjoy family life. I am too busy for social media, I prefer talking to people. Our work is at www.philafricafoods. com.
How does the organisation take part in developing the profession you belong to? We have a demo farm with our partners in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, each of our ventures across Africa will have such demo-farms. We have an apprenticeship programme in our farming and training colleges where we have 60 learners in Mozambique and 100 learners in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. www.theafricanpro.com
S Q W I D N E T ’ S P H AT H I Z W E M A L I N GA
“LEADERSHIP IS A RESPONSE TO A NEED FOR SOMEONE TO STEP UP.”
QWIDNET is the premier network provider for the Internet of Things in South Africa. It is based on the SIGFOX standard, which enables a multitude of low-cost, low-power devices to monitor or respond to events in the environment and to exchange data with each other and with operators and users – all to make life easier, safer, more convenient, and more streamlined. The African Professional Magazine spoke to Chief Solutions Officer at SqwidNet Phathizwe Malinga; he is responsible for developing the strategy and connected devices solutions divisions for SqwidNet, a subsidiary of Dark Fibre Africa. Malinga is no stranger to the role of a strategist, as he consulted with both Max Healthcare and Life Healthcare Group in his previous position with the organisation. He has been involved in the information technology and telecommunication industry for over two decades, having held senior management level positions. In his previous role as Head of Application Strategy at Life Healthcare Group, Malinga oversaw the IT Application strategy and Software Development for the group. He completed his Executive MBA from the Graduate School of Business, Cape Town and he is also a Guest Lecturer with the university.
Tell us about your role Today! I've been in Software Development, mainly as a project manager and head, for almost 20 years. I spent time in the telecoms industry working on billing systems, then have spent the last 10 years in healthcare creating and growing their hospital management system. Today, I find myself heading up the solutions space for SqwidNet, a fairly new start-up focussed on providing South Africa's first nationwide IoT network. What does it mean to you that your colleagues have entrusted you with the position of Chief Solutions Officer (CSO)? It is always an honour to be trusted, and the validation that comes with it. To me, it means to remain humble enough to be able to serve my colleagues in the way that they hope I will, rather than to become drunk with power and no results. We are a start-up, and only results will get us out of the gates, so it also means that I am accountable for results. What would you like to have achieved by the end of your term as CSO? I would like for SqwidNet, in the longterm, to be known as the company that makes IoT simple. As such, I would like to produce simple solutions that enable our customers and end users to benefit fully from being IoT users, in a way that gives South Africa a better quality of life. www.theafricanpro.com
How would you describe your management and leadership styles? I am a servant, first and foremost. My upbringing, my background and even my name allow for me to claim this as my raison d’être. And then, I am forceful, opinionated, demanding and fair. Leadership in my opinion, is a response to a need for someone to step up. Standing up doesn't make you a leader. Remember what you stood up for, and doing that work unapologetically, is how I'd like to be seen. What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position as CSO? Simplicity. How do we keep our solutions simple? For our customers, for our users, and most importantly for the people that will have to scale and maintain IoT in South Africa, our staff. And once we get it right, how do we repeat success in an ever changing world? How do you take part in mentoring others? Mentoring can be both an explicit activity and an inherent part of how one works. I subscribe to the latter. I believe in mentoring in the work, elbow deep, immersed in complexity. When I answer "how" questions, I like to be standing in the mess. There is a book called Superbosses by Sidney Finkelstein that contains the ideals I aspire towards. In terms of explicit mentoring, I work with MBA students at the GSB, and I now intend to get back to my mentoring
high school scholars work through the Alexander Education Committee. If you had to relate a couple of experiences, what would be the highs and what would be the lows of your working career?
Lows are learning opportunities, right? They humble you. So I have these almost every year, from not firing an employee for sleeping in their car at work to projects that end before their deliver value to the end user. I don't internalise these lows, I rather try and learn from the lessons I reflect on when they happen. And I guess that leaves me feeling like I don't really have earth-shattering lows at work. The highs, I try to relish. I have worked with phenomenal developers throughout my career and watching them blossom from "drenched in potential" to "confident with scars" remain my highest highs. What accolades have you and your organisation received recently? Sqwidnet has been voted 2nd for the fastest network rollout by Sigfox, our global technology provider, out of 35 countries. We now cover 54% of the population and are on track to cover 85% by end of this year. On a personal note, I recently completed my EMBA and graduated from UCT. How has the firm fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives? We, as an executive team, are very demanding of ourselves and our teams.
As it stands we remain ahead of own targets, and remain confident that we will get better still. Through what means does the organisation ensure that the firm maintains high level of ethics and integrity? With Sqwidnet being part of the Dark Fibre Africa family, we inherit all of these values from our parent company. This forms a great basis. Then each of the staff that have joined the company have been handpicked to have this trait high amongst the other. Finally, with Sigfox as our technology partner, it affords our customers transparency to what we do. Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to? Transformation is very important for South Africa, and at SqwidNet, it is a big driver in who we hire, including our interns. Reshaad, our CEO, and the company's executives are 100% ACI. ACI preferred candidates remain a hiring policy of DFA and of SqwidNet. Kindly highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community and to the relevant professions your professionals are a part of. As an IoT platform, SqwidNet allows for South Africa to deal with a number of its challenges, especially at a local government level. From "below the ground" to "above the ground", www.theafricanpro.com
our technology allows for smarter industry. From mining to agriculture, to manufacturing and logistics, to home and security. As a company, we speak regularly at conferences in order to educate the market on what is here now. We will spend the next year developing our corporate social initiatives to take advantage of the technologies as we enable them. We are speaking to a few NGOs already, and will be able to say more in the coming months. We also provide free connectivity to universities, learning institutions and students. Just get hold of us on our website. How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld? The executive team at SqwidNet is all ex-corporate. So we have been exposed a fairly high-level of bureaucracy, and we maintain this in our new venture, in a way that doesn't get in the way of "nimble". We keep in touch with all of our customers regularly, and mostly weekly. We provide free technical and consulting services, especially when they have to go pitch IoT to their customers, and we are evangelists of local Sigfox manufacturers and system integrators. Where can people find you online? You can find us on www.sqwidnet.com, and you can learn!
The Internet of Things is here. SqwidNet is the SIGFOX network operator for South Africa. It provides an ecosystem for IoT innovation and for developing and delivering IoT solutions that are enabled through: • the deployment of long-range networks that are purpose-built for IoT • access to low-cost and highly secure connectivity • access to low-cost, low-power devices and modules. SIGFOX is a global IoT network deployed in 36 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The SqwidNet network roll-out started in January 2017 and now covers close to 65% of South Africa’s population. National coverage will extend to 85% of the population by the end of this year. For more information or to sign up as a SqwidNet partner, visit www.sqwidnet.com.
IDEAS ON HOW TO OVERHAUL
AGRICULTURE TRAINING I N
S O U T H
griculture delivers more jobs per rand invested than any other productive sector. If the entire agriculture value chain is considered in South Africa, its contribution to GDP reaches approximately 12%. South Africa has the ability to meet national food requirements - yet more than 7 million citizens experience hunger. A further 22.6% of households have inadequate access to food. There are a number of reasons for this. Unsustainable food production practices have led to soil erosion, biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change. There is also increased competition with other industries, like biofuels, for the use of arable land.
A F R I C A
Declined access to quality water and the failure to address land redistribution are also contributing factors. Another major reason that the sector is unable to realise its full potential is the fact that education and training is in need of a very serious overhaul. This is the core finding of a recently published consensus study I chaired for the Academy of Science of South Africa. The study identified three key areas in need of attention: substantial institutional reform, stimulating innovation in the sector and ending the fragmented way in which education and training in the sector is managed.
Fragmented system There are only a few agricultural secondary schools in the country. At secondary school level, agricultural science as subject is a popular choice. The tertiary sector consists of 12 agricultural colleges that offer specialised training. Ten of the countryâ€™s 26 public universities also offer agricultural science degree programmes up to doctoral level. But the current system of managing education and training is fragmented and in dire need of substantial reform. For example, responsibility for agricultural education and training is split between research councils and various government departments.
On top of this, agricultural colleges are administered at the provincial level and aren’t formally part of the national higher education system. Postgraduate education, training and research at universities is supported by the Department of Science and Technology through the National Research Foundation. But there’s no formal mechanism to coordinate the work of these various entities.
Recommendations for reform Reform should be directed towards greater integration, cooperation and accountability. The panel believes that it’s necessary to establish a National Council for Agricultural Education and Training. Its first responsibility would be to ensure the inclusion and participation of all of the linked departments and other critical stakeholders in the sector. Its work would be to coordinate their various policies and programmes. But, given the current moratorium on establishing statutory bodies, the recommendation is to appoint a Ministerial Committee to oversee this process. In 2015 the cabinet took a decision to move agricultural colleges from provinces to the national Department of Higher Education and Training. A task team was appointed to investigate the implications of the transfer of authority. But there’s been little progress.
The panel has made a strong recommendation that the task team’s work should be expedited. And that sufficient resources should be allocated to make sure that there is progress. Attention also needs to be given to institutional capacity and resources. Exploring land-grant possibilities The panel has also recommended that South Africa pilot test a land-grant system that links research, education, training and extension. Extension is the application of scientific research and new knowledge through farmer education. Land-grant systems have been successfully implemented in countries ranging from the US to Brazil and India. Over the past six decades the US has built 60 land-grant universities. Academics hold appointments with dual responsibilities for teaching, on one hand, and research or extension, on the other. In their capacity as extension officers, academics advise and assist farmers on the ground, with the goal of ensuring sustainable production and rural development. They then bring this experience back to the university. They facilitate the flow of information both ways - bringing new innovative research and technology to farmers, and feeding knowledge about field problems back into the university to inform the research and teaching agenda. www.theafricanpro.com
The US has managed to develop one of the most sophisticated agricultural innovation systems in the world using land-grant institutions. India has also adopted a land-grant system called the State Agricultural University System. It now has a network of 41 institutions that have played a major role in lifting millions out of poverty. The system has also led to crop yield increases of 1.6% a year for 30 years. Next steps Some research entities, provinces and universities have already expressed an interest in taking part in the South African pilot. The three national government departments involved in agricultural education – higher education and training, science and technology, and agriculture, forestry and fisheries all support the findings of the consensus study. And they’ve made a commitment to ensuring support for the ideas to become policy. The study has also been recognised by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture as having the potential to address challenges faced by agricultural education and training across Africa.
FRANS SWANEPOEL (The Conversation)
THE ‘AFRICA RISING STORY’
WAS BASED ON FAULTY LOGIC –
HERE’S HOW TO FIX IT
ntil a couple of years ago, all financial institutions and investment banks were celebrating ‘Africa Rising’, in a symphony of compliments that should have cautioned any reasonable African leader as well as citizens on the continent. But what did they really mean when they were saying that Africa was rising? They simply meant that its gross domestic product (GDP), which is the conventional measure of economic growth, had been growing (on average) at a faster rate than in other regions of the world. Of the world’s top 10 countries in real GDP growth rates for 2012, five were indeed African. Libya topped the list, with an astounding 124%, followed by Sierra Leone with 15.2%, Zimbabwe with 13.6%, Niger with 11.8% and Ivory Coast with 10.1%. A year later, in 2013, South Sudan was Africa’s best performer, with 29.3%. Ever since, other very fast growing economies included Angola, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But GDP tells us nothing about the health of an economy, let alone its sustainability and the overall impact on human welfare. GDP is simply a measure of market consumption, which has been improperly adopted to assess economic performance. Rebuilding Libya after the civil war has been a blessing for its GDP growth. Similarly, building the South Sudanese economy from scratch has invariably
meant astronomic growth. Both these countries’ economies indeed bounced back from annihilation. Libya’s GDP growth was -66% in 2011, while South Sudan’s was -52% in 2012. As expected, their growth was short-lived. Libya went negative in 2013 and so did South Sudan right after.
Critical reflection missing
In 2013, I warned against celebrating Nigeria’s economic “miracle” at the time when the country was about to become the continent’s largest economy. I indicated that Nigeria’s economic expansion was ephemeral, unsustainable and extremely unequal, which would soon trigger social conflict and a prolonged recession.
This makes them easily affected by the volatility of international markets. It also gives a false perception of national income. Indeed, most of the profits generated by foreign companies add to the “domestic” GDP but are highly unlikely to remain in the country.
Most media, business and a number of colleagues ridiculed my predictions. But I was right: the country’s approach to growth was self-destructive. No surprise Nigeria has fallen into one of the worst recessions on the continent. And the list of these growth disasters continues. In 2016, only two African countries were in the top ten global GDP growth contest – Ethiopia and Ivory Coast. But rather than reflecting critically on why this is happening, the continent’s politicians are putting their heads in the sand and simply hoping for more growth. This is very dangerous in the current global economic landscape. Economic growth is slowing down almost everywhere and there is little chance it will return to Africa in the foreseeable future.
There are important structural reasons why one should be suspicious of the ‘Africa rising’ discourse. Most fast growing African economies are heavily dependent on exports of commodities and foreign direct investment.
Rather than obsessing over whether African economies are rising or not, the focus should be on how to make African people thrive. And these are two different things. Indeed, the problem with the continent’s current model of industrial growth is that it privileges the formal at the expense of the informal, big corporations at the expense of small businesses, large centralised infrastructure at the expense of decentralisation. In the end, this growth leads to more inequality and environmental destruction. Rather than big business districts, African countries need labour intensive economies. As the only continent that will experience exponential population growth in the next decades, Africa will soon be faced with a major unemployment problem. This can only be addressed through widespread networks of small businesses, which are the real creator of good jobs, and doing away with the dominance of a few
corporate giants, which are shedding jobs and are increasingly reliant upon automation. The Africa Progress Panel, a think tank chaired by former UN secretary Kofi Annan, highlighted the crucial role smallholder farmers can play in making Africa food secure. It also noted that small farmers ensure sustainable livelihoods to people. And it pointed to the need to move beyond “big-grid” high carbon infrastructure and to renewable energy to turn conventional top down economic growth “on its head”. 22
In their own analysis, energy production must be “democratized” so that Africa’s poorest and most vulnerable people could be reached through renewable energy on terms that drive down energy costs, stimulate small and mediumsized enterprises, generate jobs and reduce pollution-related health risks. Innovators point the way In my new book, Wellbeing Economy: Success in a World Without Growth, I show numerous examples of African innovators using new communication technologies to support networks of small businesses and micro-enterprises. Mobile connections are widespread across Africa. This means that there is an unprecedented opportunity to improve coordination between producers and consumers, cutting middlemen and the dominance of big retailers. On top of this, developments in other new technologies, from 3D printing to energy production through small-grids powered by renewable
resources, are making SMMEs ever more competitive. From farming to manufacturing, the future may very well be dominated by customisation rather than mass production. As summed up by Joe Kraus, one of the leaders of the dot.com boom of the late 1990s, the availability of new manufacturing technologies, which diversify production and multiple markets for local producers, makes the shift to a decentralised economy easier than ever. He says: the 20th century was about dozens of markets of millions of consumers. The 21st century is about millions of markets of dozens of consumers. A new economy founded on networks of small businesses, a post-industrial form of artisanship and integrated smallholder farming is the best chance for Africa to develop sustainably as well as to generate the decent and fulfilling jobs that millions of Africans rightfully aspire to.
LORENZO FIORAMONTI (The Conversation) www.theafricanpro.com
PARENTS: â€œAll parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.â€? ~ Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven.
WE TRULY HAVE OUR WORK CUT OUT FOR US
hen I was younger, I hated it when older folks would say “when we were younger, we didn’t do that or we behaved better or this or that.” It used to irritate me no end. “Times have changed and they should accept that,” my fifteen year old self would think to herself while she politely smiled and didn’t say a word. Over a decade later, how ironic that I find myself doing the same in my ripe old early thirties. Am I the only one who thinks children are becoming aware of their own sexuality and being desensitized to sexual acts a little too early in life? Technology has brought the world closer than my great-grandmother and even my grandmother could have ever imagined. The leaps and bounds in technology in recent times are amazing. But it has brought with it a whole new world that requires parenting skills our grandparents never needed. The World Wide Web is freely accessible from any number of devices, especially cell phones. Almost every child has a cell phone these days. Controlling what they access on their phones is nearly impossible. If they want to access adult content, they will. In addition to that, there’s the small matter of television. I love me a good series. While watching my newest find, Weeds, which is about a single mum who sells weed to make ends meet after losing her husband unexpectedly, while at the same time trying to deal with her hormonal teenage son and an even younger son with a severe identity crisis and sociopathic tendencies, an
interesting realisation dawned on me. Almost every wildly popular series in recent years involves sexual relationships in high school. So much so in fact that I had become desensitised to it. I found myself rooting for the vampire boy and the teenage girl in Vampire Diaries to hook up. I found myself silently cheering when the outcast in Jane By Design finally “dates” the hottest girl in the school. In almost every series I have watched that deals with high school, sex is the norm. When did this happen? I hadn’t even noticed the issue until the 15-year-old girl in Weeds says to her boyfriend’s mother, “I am ready. I have made him wait three months. I’m 15 years old. I know what sex is about. Even before I had sex with my last boyfriend I was prepared.” Stop the bus! The 15-year-old is sexually savvy. Kill me now. I can’t even begin to comment on music videos, twerking Mileys, naked Nikkis and blurred lines. You all know what’s out there. You have seen the meme with the pouting school child who could be 10 years old or less and with the hair on the sides of her funky do shaved. That is more than a little disturbing. I can’t help but wonder what her parents are thinking. My mother would have saved everyone the trouble of wondering and shaved my whole head. My primary and high school principals would have done the same to me. Any of my mum’s friends would also have done the job for my mum even before she saw my hair. But that was then. Way back then before courts passed judgments allowing 9-12 www.theafricanpro.com
year olds to engage in sexual activities with each other legally. It feels like I am behind the times even before I am old enough to be. Maybe Anne Frank was right when she said “Parents can only give good advice and put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” I am not a parent yet but I can tell you now that our generation will have its work cut out for it in the parenting department. You can’t prevent a child from accessing the internet and you can’t prevent them from watching TV. If we shelter our kids too much they will be sitting ducks, if we don’t….. I guess the bottom-line is we will have to deal with issues directly that our parents could get away with ignoring and we will face issues previous parenting generations never imagined. We have our work cut out for us and not doing it is simply not an option.
'DAUGHTER OF THREE WORLDS
– AN EDUCATION IN VALUES' BY G. WAKURAYA WANJOHI
aving read female autobiographies such as Unbound by Wangari Maathai I was eager to find out what was fresh in G. Wakuraya Wanjohi’s Daughter of Three Worlds: An Education in Values. The title was indeed intriguing and I wondered what these three worlds were. Then I found out that the author was born in the Netherlands, was educated in Canada and the United States (US) and eventually married and settled in Kenya.
The story of Wakuraya is a journey through her three worlds: it is a journey of discovering the world as well as a journey of self-discovery. Above all, it is a daunting journey and what gives her the courage and determination to soldier on is her strong belief in values; hence the subtitle, “An Education in Values.” These values include: Christian values, family values, value of friendship, work ethics and so on. No doubt it is her sense of responsibility and commitment to work that enabled her to survive in Canada. Quite early in the autobiography she states: Our immigration to Canada put an end to my stint of work with Philips. I was given a letter of recommendation indicating that I had always performed my duties with zeal and my behavior had been correct. (p 46) Indeed her attitude to work proves valuable for her economic survival while pursuing further education in Canada and the U.S. She is not choosy about what kind of part-time jobs she handles and she performs them with utmost and unequalled dedication. Her warm and
loving personality as she works for one professor leads the latter into an attempt at match-making between her and his unmarried colleague. Wakuraya’s family values coupled with her strong belief in God help her surmount one of the worst tragedies a woman can experience: the unexpected death of her fiancé, Gert, who drowns three months before their planned wedding. Perhaps it is to prepare the reader for the daunting nature of her journey that she decides to start the autobiography with the narration of this tragedy. It is narrated as the prologue entitled, ‘Man Proposes but God Disposes.’ Hence she believes that only God can heal her wounded spirit. Her visit to Gert’s family in Holland, “the old country,” is a giant step towards her letting go of her late fiancé. This is eventually sealed by her releasing the engagement ring Gert had given her to the latter’s niece who is named after her. There is no speck of doubt that Daughter of Three Worlds is a female autobiography whose major beneficiaries are women. It is a self-narrated story of a woman who was born during a period when women were underprivileged and discriminated against; yet she spared no effort to overcome her disadvantages and follow her dream to attain success. Wakuraya was born, not only female, but a first daughter in a family of nine children. She narrates that being a first daughter in such a family meant that she at times had to act as a surrogate mother to her younger siblings. In the Holland, girls were born and bred to be wives and mothers. The writer tells www.theafricanpro.com
us that, in spite of the fact that she passed at the top of her class in primary school, she was not expected to attend secondary school but go to a ‘domestic science’ institution where she could learn skills to be a good home maker. It was only through the persistence of her aunts, who perceived how talented she was, that her parents agreed to send her to secondary school. Some years after the death of her fiancé, Wakuraya decided to further her education in the United States. For this venture, she joined Calvin College which had a Reformed Church foundation. While pursuing her B.A. degree in English here, the writer noted the great commitment of Calvin College professors, not only to their work but also to their students. Perhaps it is the Christian values again which account for this dedication. Reading about this commitment, a Kenyan reader cannot afford not to feel challenged about the situation in our universities and wish we could inject what it takes to transform our institutions into environments that are more conducive to learning and where our students can feel more at home. Her great determination to excel leads Wakuraya into joining McGill University in Canada for a professional degree in librarianship. It must be noted that the autobiography puts a case for education as a liberating tool for women. It was the aspirations for emancipation from stereotyped roles for women that spurred Wakuraya on the path she followed. These aspirations paid off when she moved to Kenya with her husband Gerald Wanjohi. Her qualifications earned her
librarianship jobs at the University of Nairobi and the United Nations at Gigiri. Thus Wakuraya’s journey arrived at another milestone that is important in women’s autobiographies: the milestone of identity, carved along the woman’s own aspired destiny. This review would not be complete without comments on two features that make Wakuraya’s work an authentically female autobiography. The first feature is the tendency for the author to lay bare personal experiences that one would otherwise be tempted to be silent about. Wakuraya openly talks about having had to deal with a genetic condition of tremors that often interfered with her ability to make presentations in public. She also narrates that she and her husband Gerald became parents through
adopting two children, as a result of a condition that led her into agreeing to have a hysterectomy.
cultural values which ascertained that our parents were not at the mercy of old people’s homes like in the West.
The second feature that makes the work authentically female is the extensive use of detail to amplify issues of great social significance. She narrates her observation about how in Kenya, while women had to hurry back home after work to attend to household chores, their male counterparts stopped at “watering holes” for a beer before heading home. A very important detail in the autobiography is the narration about the care given to Wakuraya’s aging motherin-law by female members in one of her sons’ households. When we read about the love, tenderness and respect the old lady is accorded, we cannot help lamenting the loss of African traditional
So how do we classify this autobiography in terms of its social and academic significance? This is female autobiography that raises various important social issues, including issues that affect women. The autobiography speaks to both male and female readers as an inspiration. In Daughter of Three Worlds: An Education in Values, G. Wakuraya Wanjohi shares her story, not only to challenge, but also to encourage us to persevere and confront any obstacles on the road of life in order to realize our full potential.
E. OLWAGEN: BOOGERTMAN + PARTNERS D E S I G N
oogertman + Partners Architects was established in 1982. With offices in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, and Kenya, the practice engages in projects throughout Africa continually embracing social, economic, and functional challenges through ‘Human Centered design’. Having gained national and international acclaim, Boogertman + Partners has successfully completed projects in Egypt and Sudan; has on-going projects in Botswana, Kenya, South Africa and Zambia, as well as numerous design proposals in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Boogertman + Partners are driven by a dynamic team of directors who share a vision for contextually responsible and innovative design; with a dedicated approach to the building process from project inception to execution. The team is complimented by talented professionals- urban designers, interior designers, architects, and technicians, including an in house graphic design and marketing team as well as the support of administrative staff. Armed with this intrinsic nexus of skills, Boogertman + Partners encourages a collaborative process in which the client brief and dialogue is realised by a creative vision, shaped by geographic location and environmental characteristics, moulded by economic and social conditions and refined through technical and sustainable advances- resulting in a holistic project solution.
T E A M
Gold founder members of the Green Building Council of South Africa, Boogertman + Partners fully support the environmentally sustainable transformation of the built environment. With increasing concerns over global warming and the pressures of sprawling urbanism, Boogertman + Partners, through our integrated design approach, is committed to creating and developing sustainable environments; environments that are low energy consuming, efficient and flexible; encouraging an optimally healthy lifestyle. Boogertman + Partners also endeavour to sustain mutually beneficial relationships with our clients. Irrespective of building category, we believe a continuous design process which engages the client, consultants, contractors as well as the end user add value not only to the clients’ investments but the greater community. Currently ranked in the BD World Architecture 100 Magazine as 105th globally and currently rated as top South African practice, Boogertman + Partners stand testimony to their philosophy of empowerment through education and ‘Human Centered design’. The South African Professional Services Academy spoke to Interior Design Team Leader at Boogertman + Partners Elene’ Olwagen about her professional journey. Tell us your brief history and your role TODAY at Boogertman Partners? I studied Consumer Science (Interior) at the University of Pretoria and graduated in 2008. I started as an intern www.theafricanpro.com
L E A D E R at Boogertman + Partners the same year and was permanently appointed in 2009. I am now part of a team of 13 fabulous interior designers at our Pretoria office, where my role is to assist in managing the team. I am the point of contact on many projects, focusing on client relationships and overseeing on site projects. What does the role of Interior Design Team Leader at Boogertman Partners mean to you? It is an honour to work with such an amazing team. My role as leader is to guide the team and to make sure that we deliver on our promise. You have had several academic and professional achievements, which one stands out for you and why? Receiving an International Award for our Google Johannesburg project. What advice do you have for students who are looking forward to joining the profession? You must have a passion for the construction industry; this is not your normal 8-5 office job. The job satisfaction of seeing your dream and sketch on paper come to life is worth every second. What has been the highlight of your career with the company? Receiving various awards for numerous projects such as DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) and GOOGLE! What principles and values do you think are important for a young professional? Integrity and Passion.
Explain what contribution you have made to the company since joining it? I am a driven young individual with a passion for this industry, this is evident in the way I approach and handle every project. Who stands out for you as a role model and why? My parents, my mother is as solid as a rock with the kindest soul ever, and my dad, who is also in the construction industry, is the family’s foundation.
Where do you want your career to be in 10 years’ time? I would like to make a visible change. Literally, I would like to change people’s perceptions, not only of this industry, but by creating liveable designs. I want to deliver designs that are focused on the end-user. When you are not at work, what do you get up to? I enjoy good quality time with family and friends. I bake often and if I must say,
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I’m pretty good at that too. I love good food, good wine, good company, and if you throw in a good breakaway, it’s a bonus. Where can people follow you online? Follow me on Instagram or LinkedIn.
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MUST OWN UP TO ITS PART IN
outh Africa is reeling from a string of scandals involving state owned enterprises and the Guptas, a family with close ties to President Jacob Zuma. A trove of recently leaked Gupta emails exposed the involvement of prominent businesses in the extensive corruption networks. Sibonelo Radebe asked Mills Soko to explain the implications of the scandals.
What do you make of the situation? If nothing else, the Gupta leaks have shown us how perilously close South Africa is to losing everything so many people fought so hard for. Not only does corruption divert capital allocated for public services away from the poor, it hollows out important state institutions and, ultimately, frays the social and economic fabric of the country. It threatens the hard won democracy and political stability. The ongoing revelations around state capture and patronage are giving South Africans an unprecedented and frightening glimpse into the machinery of corruption. The most unnerving element of the emails is how many of the transactions appear blatant and almost casual. The absolute cynicism and lack of ethics revealed in this correspondence is breath taking. What we do with this knowledge as a country is going to count for everything. As a business community we can look away and call these tales of corruption isolated incidents – or we can step up to ensure that our organisations hold
themselves to a higher standard. Most critically the law must take its course. What does it tell us about the role of business? The emails remind us that in any corrupt interaction it takes two to tango. And while governments and public money are so often at the centre, the enablers of corruption are not in government but in the private sector. With the Gupta’s at the centre of the rot, prominent international companies like accounting firm KPMG, consulting giant McKinsey, ICT player SAP, engineering company Liebherr and capital equipment manufacturer Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries have been implicated in the mounting scandal. It’s worrying to see that companies of such calibre can be involved in such nefarious activity. Corruption is, of course, not a new phenomenon – and nor is it unique to South Africa, as the Global Corruption Index shows. But certainly, the scale of what is going on in South Africa right now is unprecedented. How do you rate the responses by the implicated businesses? Companies have scrambled to distance themselves from the reputational firestorm that the Gupta leaks have unleashed. McKinsey acted promptly to suspend Vikas Sagar, a director in its South African office, to allow an internal investigation to proceed. For its part SAP, which originally denied the allegations, has similarly suspended South African staff while launching a full anti-corruption investigation , which www.theafricanpro.com
is to be carried out by a multinational law firm and overseen by its executive board member Adaire Fox-Martin. It’s convenient to blame these incidents on bad apples. But this doesn’t get below the surface of what is really going on. The scale of the corruption and the apparent ease with which it has been unfolding speaks to the fact that something is very wrong with the system. And it highlights an utter lack of business ethics and governance failures. This isn’t something the country can afford. What should be done to root out the corruption? While all of this may seem overwhelming, what is unfolding also presents the business community with an opportunity for some introspection. Calls have been made for greater purpose and responsibility on the part of South African leaders. But how can we make sure these fine words and intentions are internalised? How do we make sure as a country that our business as well as our state institutions are committed to not allowing this to happen ever again? Educational institutions, business schools in particular, are positioned as a first-line duty in making sure that graduates are equipped to recognise and reject corruption in any form. The country needs business leaders who are committed to building sustainable and profitable businesses but who are also mindful of their social and ethical obligations.
Citizens as workers and consumers also have a significant role to play. As individuals working in companies and purchasing goods and services from companies, they can condemn unethical behaviour from companies. This was partly reflected in how the general public put pressure on Bell Pottinger the UK based public relations firm which did work for the Gupta’s. By rounding on Bell Pottinger, effectively causing the company to lock its Twitter account and issue a formal and unprecedented apology to the country (even though they also blamed
the fiasco on bad apples rather than the system), South Africans have shown the power they can wield when united against wrongdoing. But the country needs to go further. While government and business have not enjoyed the best relationship in recent times, they need to bury the hatchet and come together to fix the inequalities in this country. Deep divisions have laid South Africa open to the kind of racist exploitation that Bell Pottinger unleashed. Until the country rights this situation, it will continue to remain vulnerable
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to these kinds of nefarious influences. South Africa needs to be united in the spirit of building a country that works for everyone – not just a select few. Things are broken, yes – but it’s not impossible to repair the damage.
MILLS SOKO (The Conversation)
Manufacturer: Transnet Engineering
1 7 2 4
Manufactured in South Africa by Booyco. The air conditioner cools the locomotive main cab.
The platform is manufactured from raw materials by Transnet Engineering in South Africa. It provides the basic structure and support for all elements.
Final assembly and testing in South Africa by Transnet Engineering. The traction motor provides power to the locomotive wheels.
Manufactured and assembled in SA by Transnet Engineering. The bogie allows for the locomotive wheels to follow the contours of the track.
The fuel tank is manufactured in South Africa by Duys.
Manufactured and assembled in South Africa by Wabtec. The radiator cools the engine water.
Manufactured and assembled in South Africa by Knorr Bremse South Africa.
SHOULD CONSIDER HELP FROM THE IMF
TO FIX ITS ECONOMY
he prognosis that the South African economy is in dire straits is pretty obvious even to the untrained eye. The solution to the country’s present predicament is also pretty much understood. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently produced a comprehensive viewwhich deserves to be considered.
But in most instances, these are wellintentioned and aimed at success.
The IMF identifies three key ailments as causes of the country’s anaemic economic growth. These are low consumer and investor confidence and policy uncertainty.
Continued slow growth should be a matter of grave concern and ought to be treated as an emergency.
The country’s poor economic growth record spawned a number of problems. A shrinking economy means tax revenue shortfalls. The fiscal policy response would be higher taxes or bigger budget deficits.
Thus far the short and medium term outlook suggests that growth outcomes will continue to be pedestrian. What is even more worrying is that over the past four years global economic growth has gained momentum, suggesting that the solution to South Africa’s vanishing growth lies in the country. The new minister of finance, Malusi Gigaba, recently hinted that South Africa may be compelled to seek assistance from the IMF. I think the conditions are right for serious consideration of the proposal even though IMF programmes are not very popular with politicians. There are a number of reasons for this. Requests for IMF assistance suggest that those who manage the domestic economy have failed. The fund’s programmes also come with clearly defined milestones, often described as “conditionalities”.
It’s better to enter an IMF programme early before the situation becomes frantic. As medical doctors might argue, it is easier to deal with an ailment in the earlier stages before it reaches an advanced stage.
The alternative to asking for help now would be continued poor growth outcomes which would have serious social and economic costs.
And then again, interest payments, the fastest growing government expenditure item, would grow even faster. Already, about 11 cents out of every rand goes into servicing public debt. As the economy shrinks, more and more income would have to be spent on interest payments. Government’s ability to provide a social safety net in the form of social grants and other services, like education and health care, would be much more constrained. The service delivery proteststhat have become increasingly the norm would become even more widespread as the fiscus comes under serious strain. Ultimately, the brigade of the unemployed would bear the brunt. Of www.theafricanpro.com
course, the employed would also suffer because slow growth affects incomes. Low and anaemic growth dries out consumer confidence. Job losses and subdued growth in incomes as a result of poor growth outcomes and prospects chips away at consumer confidence. South Africa’s growth performance post 2008 has been very low. Over the past 10 years, the economy recorded an average of 2% growth per year. If this continues it will take more than 30 years to double average incomes in South Africa. But if the country can increase growth to 5% as projected by the National Development Plan, it would take only 14 years to double average income. The higher the growth rate the shorter the time required to double incomes and bring people out of poverty.
Investor confidence deficit
The investor confidence deficit is largely as a result of ever increasing political risk, policy uncertainty and wrangling in the ruling party and lately revelations of alleged looting of public funds by the political elite. But not everything’s broken. The performance of the country’s monetary authorities in the management of monetary policy is admirable. Where there appear to be lapses is the asset and liability management of the National Treasury. And here, the massive losses of state owned enterprises readily come to the fore. This is a blot on the canvas of fiscal
policy management. And the much touted structural reforms that are required havenâ€™t been forthcoming because the government lacks the capacity to formulate and implement the appropriate policies. In fact, even if it designed the correct ones, the investor community has little faith in its ability to carry them through. Hence, the need for an IMF programme.
The IMF has the solution
stability in the rand foreign exchange rate market. This in turn would improve investor confidence, leading to more investment in the country. Economic growth would pick up and thereâ€™d be an improvement in consumer confidence. An IMF programme would send a clear and unassailable signal to investors that the country was committed to pursuing a given set of policy options. And it would make the commitment appear credible.
An arrangement would achieve a number of objectives. Firstly, the fund could help the country formulate policies that would unblock the problems that continue to inhibit economic growth and job creation. The mere adoption of an IMF programme would help address the question of policy uncertainty. Secondly, the IMF is well placed to provide foreign exchange loans, bringing
MATTHEW KOFI OCRAN (The Conversation) www.theafricanpro.com
IN CONVERSATION WITH
FLAVIAN MARWA Tell us about your early life and your role today, what was your training like? I was born in Nyalikungu, Maswa, Tanzania and grew up a nomad, in Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Dodoma because my parents were civil servants who got transferred very often and stationed in both rural and urban centers. As a result I also changed schools several times. My childhood helped define who I am today and understand the intricacies of living and working in diverse environments. It also helped shape my understanding of development. I run a boutique consulting firm that is doing regional and global development strategies at the intersection of technology and financial services. Although I have been living in the US for the past 20 years working in the US, Africa and parts of Latin America, I have decided that it is time to share my expertise and experience here in Africa. I am excited to be part of the transformation happening on my continent. I have a diverse set of skills based on my training at the University of Dar es Salaam (Bachelor of Science in Engineering), University of Maryland at College Park (Master of Science), The Harvard Kennedy school of government (Masters in Public Administration), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management (Masters in Business Administration). I also have a post-graduate diploma in investment appraisal and risk analysis from Queens University.
What advice do you have for younger professionals who are looking forward to joining the profession you are in? It is about passion, dedication and reading. We need to broaden our thinking, critique what is perceived as status quo and dare to ask questions.
As a prominent African in the diaspora, what issues or challenges are you confronted with? There seems to be a gap between political rhetoric and realities on my continent. I also grapple with the fact we as Africans are generally not united. It is easier to get a visa or to travel to Europe, for example than it is to travel between some of the African countries. Technology remains an issue in this fast-paced world, which affects our ability to compete internationally. The widening gap between the rich and the poor is perplexing, particularly the disparity between the urban and the rural population. What principles and values do you think are important for any professional and why? • Integrity. • Quality. • Transparency. • Respect for people, their talents and their ability. • Appreciation of diversity. I believe that every professional needs to have a values-based approach to their work in order for them to excel. Additionally, we need to remember that no man is an island; we can complement, connect and collaborate better if we listen and appreciate others’ values as well.
How would people describe you as a leader? Feedback from my peers and colleagues is that I am generally results-driven, outcome-oriented and decisive. How do you strike the balance of career, business and interpersonal skills? I put people first. It is about getting the right skills; clearly communicating the bigger picture, gaining buy-in, giving people space to learn, unlearn and relearn, being inclusive, driving change and celebrating success. How do you maintain ethics, integrity and professionalism? In essence, it is about being true to yourself, to the cause and to those with whom you work. I believe that respect, listening and understanding are key pillars for any professional. How do you participate in mentorship, if you do? I mentor my peers and colleagues.I provide mentorship on business skills and customer value-proposition to early stage entrepreneurs. What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night in terms of your working life? • Passion and care • Determination • Desire for change What have been the highs and lows in your working career? I have had an exciting career, working on multiple issues with people from diverse backgrounds. I have been part of creating www.theafricanpro.com
dynamic change processes in Africa and in USA. I must say that I consider myself very lucky to have been involved in changing the way business is done. My lesson though is that perceptions can affect the way some people work with you, and it is important to give them the space to understand who you are, what you bring to the team and how you can contribute to the bigger picture. My childhood also shaped the way I work. I can go straight from a board meeting, roll up my sleeves and get the work going. When you not at work, what do you get up to? I believe in staying healthy so I often work-out. Oh I love music. I probably have every genre of music from the fifties to date. I love my God, he keeps me strong and steady. He reminds me that there is a bigger purpose in life. I am blessed to be surrounded by a loving family and circle of friends who keep me grounded. Where can people follow you online? I tend to be involved in thinktanks and development discussion boards where I feel I can make meaningful contributions.
JOHANNESBURG’S INNER CITY: THE DUBAI OF SOUTHERN AFRICA, B U T A L L B E L OW T H E R A DA R
ver the last 20 years Johannesburg has become an intense wholesale and retail centre for local hawkers and for traders from all over sub-Saharan Africa. Billions of rand worth of fast fashion is sold annually in the traditional central business district and in 20 large Chinese shopping malls west of the inner city. It is a vast, booming, low-end globalised trade that has transformed space and pioneered a retail phenomenon in the inner city for the sale of cheap clothing, shoes, household wares and accessories. Informal estimates based on bus passenger numbers and spending reported in the survey suggest that cross border shoppers are spending over R10 billioneach year in Johannesburg’s CBD. A new study into cross-border shopping in the inner city maps the shops and the
goods sold. Researchers did detailed interviews with 300 retailers and 400 cross border shoppers as well as hotel managers and bus operators that service the flow of shoppers who travel to Johannesburg from countries including Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zambia. The survey gave the first concrete insights into a vast trading web that operates in the cash economy and below the radar of formalised planning regulation. Yet it is an economy yielding four times the annual turnover of an average regional sized shopping mall. The extent of the trade isn’t really known. And the scale of cross border shopping is widely disputed in City offices and among property investors. But the survey shows that the city of Johannesburg should acknowledge that its inner city www.theafricanpro.com
has developed into the shopping hub of sub-Saharan Africa. Some retailers have dubbed it the Dubai of South Africa. That ambition – that it be a global retail centre – should be embraced in economic strategy and in physical plans to upgrade the area. Hive of unreported activity The research focuses on 53 city blocks within the Johannesburg CBD anchored by more than 3000 shops. These are streets that bustle with street traders, ground level shopping alleys and high rise shopping centres. The shopping zone is close to rail, bus and taxi infrastructure. It is also served by cross border bus depots and hotels. The shopping hub is intense with throngs of pedestrians and determined shoppers crowding the streets on any given
day. Buildings that have outlived their usefulness as office space and medical suites have been appropriated and converted at a rapid rate – primarily by migrant Ethiopian traders - to shopping centres hosting thousands of cupboard sized shops. This activity has developed over two decades. It started as a quiet encroachment of space in the mid-1990s when Ethiopian survivalist entrepreneurs, who had fled their country to seek political asylum in South Africa, rented space in almost empty office towers. The space grew first incrementally and then in rapid bursts to become a burgeoning economic enclave created through the dramatic occupation and subdivision of space. Based on the interviews, we calculated that the annual profit takings in the city blocks we surveyed amounts to close to R7 billion profit every year. But this is likely to be a major underestimate. The sample survey indicates that about 70% of the shoppers contributing to these profits are cross border shoppers. Each shopper is spending an average of R14 364 on goods per shopping trip. In addition R3 497 is spent on other services including transport. A large number of bus companies is linked to the trade. On one day 51 bus companies were operating from 19 sites. In that same week, a moderate shopping season of the year (mid August), 465 buses carrying up to 60 passengers many of these being shoppers - left Johannesburg to neighbouring countries. Johannesburg as a violent city
But retailers and shoppers face enormous risks. The dependence on cash poses a big risk in an area rife with crime and corruption and where law enforcement agencies appear to be complicit in illegal activities. Over 60% of retailers interviewed said they had been physically attacked or assaulted. And 38% had regularly “gifted” police officers. For shoppers the risk is also extreme. A third of shoppers interviewed had been exposed to violent crime. They travel in groups and hide their money. They depend heavily on the security and storage facilities of hotels and bus depots for safety. These levels of crime are a major break on Johannesburg’s ability to maximise the benefits of these shopping trips. Shoppers are spending an average of 2.5 days on each trip. But they spend comparatively little on accommodation and almost nothing on entertainment. And they are too fearful to spend more time in Johannesburg than their shopping requires.
which attract jobs and investment in the inner city. They require and inspire new investment in buildings, maintenance, entertainment services, transportation services and accommodation establishments. They transform buildings and environments. And they attract and support new cultural enclaves and diversity. Shoppers and retailers say they would like to increase their investment in shopping in the inner city, there are signs of renewed interest from property investors and a number of new shopping centres have been developed in recent years. But this potential will go untapped unless the city changes its attitude and tackles the risks in the area. Crime – particularly crime committed by law enforcement officers – must be curbed. By recognising and celebrating this sub-Saharan African shopping hub Johannesburg can take full advantage of the benefits of being the region’s shopping hub. In turn that could lead to Johannesburg becoming the host of choice for shoppers and retailers in this international trade.
Most said they didn’t use city restaurants, preferring to lock themselves in their hotel rooms in the early evening. And retailers said they would like extended shopping hours but they close shops around 5pm because of safety concerns. Untapped potential Cross border shoppers are international visitors to Johannesburg. Their visits increase the demand for services, products and good infrastructure – all of www.theafricanpro.com
DR. TANYA ZACK (The Conversation)
ALI Media Fellowship Programme
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Issa Aremu, NPOM, mni
KC Rottok Chesaina
Fatima Abbas Hassan
Ekundayo Ezekiel Kayode
Lucy Nyasi Kilalo
Chidi Henry Lemchi
Akeem Olabode Mustapha
Noel Kazungu Mwakughu
Yvonne Buliba Okwara
Sunday Trust, Nigeria
Citizen TV, Kenya
BusinessDay Media Ltd., Nigeria
Financial Mail, South Africa
Media Trust Limited, Nigeria
CCTV Africa, Kenya
The African Professional, South Africa
Nation Media Group, Kenya
I’M Original Productions, South Africa
Business Day, Nigeria
Freelance Journalist, Nigeria
EnergyTimes Newspaper, Nigeria
Mail & Guardian, South Africa
Nation Media Group, Kenya
Guardian Newspapers Ltd., Nigeria
Citizen TV, Kenya
Primedia, South Africa
Nation Media Group, Kenya
eNCA, South Africa
SABC, South Africa
Kenya Television Network, Kenya
Nigeria Labour Congress, Nigeria
Primedia Broadcasting, South Africa
Freelance Journalist, Kenya
The Times Media Group, South Africa
Financial Mail, South Africa
Silverbird Communications, Nigeria
World Vision, Kenya
Nigeria Television Authority, Nigeria
Businessday Media Ltd., Nigeria
Nation Media Group, Kenya
The Media, Nigeria
The Vanguard, Nigeria
Freelance Journalist, South Africa
eNCA, South Africa
Mail & Guardian Africa, Kenya
GetBiz, South Africa
The Nation, Nigeria
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The Star Newspaper, South Africa
Bloomberg News, South Africa
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Business Day TV, South Africa
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Published on Dec 4, 2017