Helen Hai: Is “Made in Africa” possible?

When thinking about Africa, words like be “War”, “Disease”, “Corruption”, and “Safari” may come to mind. But this is not truly Africa. In this TEDxBeijing Talk, Helen Hai, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization Goodwill Ambassador for industrialization in Africa, brings out the often overlooked side of Africa through three personal stories. Helen explains why she chose Ethiopia, which ranked 125th in World Bank Doing Business Report at the time, as the location to start a shoe factory. Secondly, the problems she encountered when doing business in Africa. Lastly, how her childhood experiences triggered her to help Ethiopia find the right path of development, and change the lives of many local people.

CEO of the Made in Africa Initiative, which advises the governments of Ethiopia, Rwanda and Senegal for industrialization and investment promotion. Ambassador Hai is Co-Founder of C&H Garments, which is a pioneer Pan-African export-oriented garments manufacturer with presence in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal.

Ambassador Hai was trained as an actuary in the United Kingdom with 15 years of international experience in FTSE100 companies. She served previously as Vice President and Chief Actuary for Zurich Financial Services in China, and a Partner in Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group in London. Ambassador Hai was named a 2015 Global Young Leader by World Economic Forum and received the 2015 African Business Icon Award.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

 

Short Film Laisuotuo 莱索托

A new short film Laisuotuo was released by filmmaker Carl Houston Macmillan.

He says, “This is a film about two immigrants, a Chinese shop owner in Lesotho and an African doctor in China. This 20 min film is about how stereotyping and racial profiling reduces our empathy. Cultural understanding is ever so important in our global village.

short film Laisuotuo China-Africa story

As a regular listener to the China-Africa Project’s podcast, I always follow up on the guests interviewed on the show. Eric Olander (American) and Cobus van Staden (South African) host the best podcast about China-Africa issues. Even though they usually discuss politics and economic issues, in this show they highlighted a beautiful short film Laisuotuo 莱索托.

There are two stories joined together with empathy. The first story takes place in Beijing, China. An African doctor, fluent in Mandarin Chinese, goes to visit a new patient. She’s blind, and her husband asks the doctor not to tell her that he is black. After the doctor leaves, the blind wife admonishes her husband for treating people of colour differently.

A vivid dream sequence, in the short film Laisuotuo, on the Great Wall of China, serves as the transition between the two stories.

The second story takes place back in the mountains of Lesotho. A young student is expelled from school because his father cannot pay the school fees. The principal sends him home, and his father apologises half-heartedly. The father sends him to buy flour and warns him not to buy from the Chinese shop.

Without spoilers, I want to encourage you to watch this short film below. It’s a good lesson for South Africans given the high levels of xenophobia exhibited in their country over the last 10 years. More Chinese migrants will come to Africa and more Africans will study and work in China. This film shines a light on some of the immediate challenges facing us in a multicultural world.

Watch the whole short film Laisuotuo below and please leave a comment…

 

2009 Year End Message from ISOC President & CEO

Thanks for an Extraordinary Year of Achievements from Lynn St.Amour, President and CEO of ISOC.

Dear Members, Friends, and Colleagues,

The end of 2009 is here – and what a year it has been. The Internet Society continued to prosper in 2009, the results of our work reaching wider and deeper than ever before. So it is a pleasure to extend my sincere gratitude to all of you whose combined efforts, energy, and dedication have made this such a great year.

We often use the term “Internet community” and, looking back at the achievements of this year, it is clear that these are truly the result of a strong, committed community pulling together around shared values and principles.

It is impossible to list here all of the Internet Society’s achievements from such a busy and productive year, but I would like to single out a few highlights.

Continue reading “2009 Year End Message from ISOC President & CEO”

 

Unlocking the Potential of Mobile Technology for Social Impact

Mobile Active 2008 South African NGO NetworkThe Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) and MobileActive.org will host the MobileActive08 Summit from 13-15 October 2008 at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg. The theme of the event is “Unlocking the Potential of Mobile Technology for Social Impact”.

With more than 350 confirmed participants from over 40 countries, this will be the largest international event to date focusing on this topic and one of the most important ICT4D events to be hosted in Africa in 2008.

Speaking at the end of September 2008 at the United Nations in New York during a high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Hamadoun Touré, announced that worldwide mobile cellular subscribers are likely to reach the 4 billion mark before the end of this year. “The fact that 4 billion subscribers have been registered worldwide indicates that it is technically feasible to connect the world to the benefits of ICT and that it is a viable business opportunity”, he stated. “Clearly, ICTs have the potential to act as catalysts to achieve the 2015 targets of the MDGs.”

However, even with ubiquity of access, the challenge to development practitioners and technology experts is how best to adapt and translate growth and innovation in mobile technology in support of specific development challenges. As a result, there is an urgent need to share lessons learned to date and explore the most effective use of this technology.

At MobileActive08, participants will explore how mobile phones are used to advance development work in different parts of the world, assess the current state of knowledge in the use and effectiveness of mobile technology to advance social action, and investigate trends, needs and investment opportunities. Specific attention will be given to the role of mobile technology in health, human rights, economic development, research, advocacy, citizen journalism and democratic participation.

According to David Barnard, Executive Director of SANGONeT, “During the first day and a half of the event more than 60 speakers will share their experiences through a variety of workshops and skill-share sessions, rotating mini-talks, SIMlabs and SIMplaces. The second part of MobileActive08 will be conducted in an ‘open space’ format where participants will delve more deeply into the topics discussed during the first part of the event.”

Some of the key mobile experts that will make presentations at the event include Brian Richardson of Wizzit, Jonathan Donner of Microsoft, Peter Benjamin of Cell-Life, Russell Southwood of Balancing Act and Erik Hersman of Ushahidi.

Go to the MobileActive website for the detailed information about the programme and speakers.

Delegates will include NGO and development practitioners, mobile technologists, researchers studying the use of mobile phones, government officials, and representatives from the international donor community and telecommunications industry.

The MobileActive08 Summit is supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Microsoft, Department of Communications, Vodacom, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership, HIVOS, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Ford Foundation and Torque IT.

SANGONeT’s new corporate identity and the new SANGONeT NGO Portal, NGO Pulse, will also be launched during the event.

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For additional comments and media accreditation, please contact:

David Barnard, Executive Director
Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT)
Tel: (011) 403-4935 or Cell: 082 870-8968
E-mail: dbarnard@sangonet.org.za

“Linking civil society through ICTs”

 

TEDGlobal 2007: Session 11: James Shikwati

James Shikwati economistThis is the 2nd talk on the second last session of TEDGlobal 2007. We need to commercialising enterprises or entrepreneurship in Africa. Chris Anderson, TED curator, described him as one-man think tank, a libertarian economist.

Address famine as a business opportunity. Lost $200 million due to famine in Kenya. Estimated cost 300 to 500 million people to malaria and cost billions to the GDP of Africa. Young people in a project he is running are cleaning huts and using it as a business to fight mosquitoes. Exploit urban set-up with endless opportunities and offer more variety.

What is missing in Africa is confidence – not money! Africans sometimes think it’s someone else’s problem to fix things in Africa. We need to start using passion of young people to start businesses. Create Olympic style business plan competition to get young people interested and excited about business.

Now back to the Jeffrey Sacks debate. We need to understand how the world works, how the world thinks. The Aid debate operates under the constrained position i.e. the African person is in a box, somebody else must free him. We need to focus on releasing the African mind. Everybody talks about corruption. When a foreigner meets an African the first thing they see is corruption.  One example he quotes, which I’ve heard before is that in Africa not even the most corrupt or the poorest people will deny you water. Yet million of dollars are being spent on buying water like the very popular bottled water products.

With aid it’s like foreign countries subsidising their own companies in Africa. So African companies can never compete, being paralysed and never develop to a point where they can be world class. Keep focussing on entrepreneurship with young people. They are the future and can stop Africa crying.

Chris did a short Q&A with James in which he confronted him on aid debate.

For more information on James Shikwati visit the Inter Region Economic Network.  And read this excellent interview with SPIEGEL, For God’s Sake Please STOP Aid!

 

TEDGlobal 2007: Session 1: Bono

Bono @ TEDGlobal 2007Bono is one of Africa’s biggest supporters. He was not listed on the official program for this TEDGlobal as a speaker and made an impromptu appearance on stage. Back in 2005 Bono won the TEDPrize and accepted with a truly riveting talk on why the West should help Africa and how they can benefit as capitalists not as donors.

Since there had been two mentions of the Marshall plan Bono mentioned that it’s the anniversary of this initiative on Tuesday, on June 5. He went on that a comedian normally says what nobody else wants to say in a room. And I think here he refers to himself saying what nobody else wants to say the world leaders and other powerful people that he meets in the course of his advocacy work on behalf of Africa. It is unfair that Africa’s grandchildren have to pay for the debt of their forefathers. When the colonialists moved out of Africa in many cases they started lending huge amounts of money back to these colonies. There was so much more to Bono’s talk but you’ll have to wait until this one is released on the TED website.

When he took some questions from the audience there was a sense of him being attacked or put on the spot because those asking the questions disagreed vehemently about the appropriateness of aid to Africa going forward. Bono is a master communicator and responded without defending himself. And in this way probably gained even more respect from the audience. This was a very fitting end to the first session on day 1 on TEDGlobal.

You may want to read Ethan Zuckerman’s detailed reporting on the Bono vs Mwenda debate on Aid.