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mercredi, juin 20, 2007

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: How to help Africa? Do business there

The talk Mrs Okonjo-Iweala gave late March before the Ted conference attenders in Monterrey is somewhat old but still very refreshing. The first female to hold the finance minister, she did a terrific job while in office and her sudden fallout from the Obansanjo government has not prevented her from endeavouring to help her country. She is now actively engaged in a financial money recovery initiative. This initiative is aimed at recovering all the money that was laundered to the very countries that need it.

In this talk, she discusses the various reforms her country has been making in the areas of financial management of the assets of Nigeria. Numbers are there, those are visible results that speak for themselves because there are compelling. Business opportunities in other non oil sectors such real estate or agriculture can arise when you straighten out the market economy. As she depicts Africa, she gives a message of hope, delivers a great advocacy for women and propose a new and compelling approach to Africa.

mardi, juin 19, 2007

A part ca, quoi de neuf? 20-06-2007

La terre vue du ciel, voilà à peu près à quoi se résume ma vie en ce moment. Littéralement la tête dans les nuages, il n'en emeure pas moins que cette avec une certaine attention que je suis les événements qui font que notre monde soit finalement si palpitant. Dans le désordre, les liens du jour:

  • Un portrait de Dora Akunyili, surnomée par le quotidien Le Monde "la femme médécine", cette femme de tête et de coeur se bat sans relâche contre les faussaires de médicaments au Nigéria. Le fléau est si courant, et pas seulement au Nigéria que la méprise entre un comprimé de mil et de la quinine a ceci de tragique qu'elle s'est avérée fatale à beaucoup et pour cela le combat de Dora Akunyili est précurseur et aurait besoin d'être suivi ailleurs en Afrique.
  • L'écrivain, scénariste Sénégalais Sembène Ousmane nous a quitté le 9 Juin dernier. Avec lui, un pan de l'histoire du cinamé se referme. Connu à travers le monde pour ses oeuvres telles que le roman Mandat ou au grand écran avec Mooladé, le Times Magazine et d'autres voyaient en lui le "Père du cinéma africain." Le New York Times dresse un beau portrait d'un des contradicteurs les plus féroces du président Léopold Sédar Senghor dans un article intitulé "a filmmaker who found Africa's voice". Extraits: “He valorized African languages over French. He began to say that independence had failed. He celebrated the equality of Africa with Europe. And it was very good for us to see a man who was self-taught, who did not come out of the French educational system, who went on to write these books.”....“Sembène’s films are translatable. They’re never going to be blockbusters, but you can show one of them in China, in France, in Africa, in the United States, and people will know what it’s about.” A la suite du blog d'Etounou, nous sommes en droit de nous demander "qui reprend, qui repdnrea le flambeau?"
  • Sacré Dilem. Il n'a pas son pareil pour croquer des événements aussi importants que la mise en service de la liaison aérienne Alger-Montréal.

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mardi, juin 05, 2007

Live from TEDGlobal 2007 (2): Day 1 recap

On Monday afternoon, the conference sessions began, with the first session themed “The Africa You Don’t Know”.

  • Euvin Naidoo, the president of the South African Chamber of Commerce in America, opened with a talk on investment in Africa, stressing that Africa provides a viable investment option both from a diversification perspective and a value investor’s objective.
  • Carol Pineau, a journalist and filmmaker, showed clips of her inspiring video on entrepreneurship, Africa Open for Business. I am looking forward to her next film, Africa Investment Horizons.
  • Andrew Mwenda, a journalist and social critic, argued passionately against aid and charity for Africa, emphasizing that aid makes objects of the poor, preventing them from being active participants in their own economic development.
  • After the break, Bono who has been instrumental in pressuring the G8 countries to meet their commitments of aid to Africa, argued passionately for aid and stressing that it is not charity but justice.

Already, one thread of conversation has emerged: aid vs. investment, symbolized by the Bono camp and the Andrew Mwenda camp. The fact is, there is truth in both camps. As Bono stressed, there are emergencies that need to be dealt with, such as the 3,000 children who die of malaria each day. There is also the importance of long-term, sustainable growth and development, which is where investment and trade come in. So, in truth, I do not believe it is an either-or argument. On Tuesday, Jacqueline Novogratz, a “market-based philanthropist” expressed this perspective. She stressed that dignity is even more important that wealth, and that dignity comes from being able to achieve dreams and make self-determined progress. She stressed that aid certainly cannot solve all the problems, but that the market cannot necessarily solve all the problems either – that a creative combination of these is necessary.

The conference is being held at the same time as the G8 summit. Bono used his influence to get the German chancellor to send a video message addressing the attendees at the conference, which was shown on the first day. Her message commended the conference, saying how it was appropriate that while governments consulted on some of the challenges and opportunities of Africa, that individuals do so too.

On the first day, we also saw and heard from filmmaker Newton Aduaka and saw soul-wrenching clips from his film Ezra, a story told through the eyes of a Sierra Leonean child soldier. We learned from paleontologist Zeray Alemseged about his team’s discovery of the 3.3-million-year-old hominid child in Ethiopia. We saw photography from Andrew Dosunmu in his quest to redefine the images we see of Africa. What a diversity of experiences, what food for thought!

I came away from the first day with a deep-seated sense of humility. Humility based on the reinforced recognition of the complexity of the issues facing Africa, the reinforced understanding that each of these issues is important and the danger of painting a black-and-white picture that would suggest that there is only one solution that is important. Humility based on the recognition that for each of us, focus is important – a focus that necessitates approaching with excellence the particular sphere we work in, the particular challenge or issue that we or our organizations are addressing, because we cannot each work simultaneously with excellence on education, health, markets, investments, art, culture, rural development and any of the other issues relevant to Africa. However, with humility, we will appreciate and recognize the importance of the contributions of others, in other spheres of activity. We will not stress aid to the exclusion of investment, or investment to the exclusion of humanitarian work.

So far, the conversations I have had with other attendees are incredible. The attendees are all inspiring and interesting in their own way. I look forward to learning more in the remainder of the conference.



Live from TEDGlobal 2007 (1) by Ayorkor

Africa. A vast and diverse continent. Did you know that you can fit the whole of the United States, China and Europe into Africa and still have space to spare?

When I was in college in New Hampshire, my dear friend Ema and I decided one summer that since we were both planning trips home, Ema to Tanzania and I to Ghana, it would be wonderful to visit each other's country. We decided to travel together from the U.S. first to Tanzania, from Tanzania to Ghana, and then from Ghana back to the U.S in time for the next academic year. Our excitement lasted until we spoke to a travel agent and found out how much it would cost to make the trip - much more than we could afford as college students. And sadly, the most expensive part of the trip would be the journey between Tanzania and Ghana. In fact, it would have been more affordable to make two separate trips: from the U.S. to Tanzania and back, and then from the U.S. to Ghana and back. It was sad and ironic that it was easier to travel to another continent than to travel within Africa. With disappointment, we put our idea on hold and instead individually visited our respective home countries. However, we have both held on to the dream of being able one day to travel the length and breadth of the continent, experiencing and learning first hand the similarities and differences between east and west, north and south.

Fast forward seven or eight years to today. Around midday on Sunday, I looked out of the window on my Ethiopian Airlines flight from Accra through Addis-Ababa to Kilimanjaro, and saw lush green plains dotted with trees. Mount Kilimanjaro was not visible through the cloud cover, but the view was still breathtakingly beautiful. We landed in quiet Kilimanjaro airport and moved quickly through immigration. For the first time, I was in East Africa, in Tanzania, and the purpose was to attend the TEDGlobal conference as a TED Fellow. On my travel, I had already met several other people attending the conference, speakers and fellows from Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia.

The van that met us at the airport drove for forty or so minutes through the Tanzanian countryside. It is the rainy season, the weather is cool and damp, and everything is green. The conference site, the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, is set in a quiet spot, surrounded by nature. There are attendees from forty countries at TED’s first conference in Africa.

On Monday morning, I went on one of the NGO tours that had been organized. My group accompanied representatives of the Kilimanjaro Center for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) to a district hospital to observe and learn about their community eye-care projects serving the Kilimanjaro region. The project involves diagnostic services and cataract surgery.

More to come


Ayorkor Mills-Tettey