There were any number of issues clamouring for attention at Davos this year – the Arab Spring, the Eurozone crisis, burgeoning youth unemployment, the shifting of power from West to East, to name but a few. Nevertheless, the clarion call from Africa was quite distinct: “Africa is Rising”; this was the message from the African heads of state who attended the Forum.
They put on a great show. The stigma of Africa as the “hopeless continent,” as it was labelled by the Economist in 2000, must be removed they said. There is new hope, democracy is growing, dictatorship is dying out, pragmatic leadership is on the increase, political instability is on the decline. The tables are turning; Angola is funding Portugal and the genocide in Rwanda happened 18 years ago – it is over and Rwanda is making great strides in opening its economy to investment and new enterprise.
Indeed, the African delegation effectively countered India’s case, presented at Davos a year ago, as an alternative to investment in Africa. India argued that it is English speaking, it is a democracy, people are literate, it has mineral resources and it is an attractive alternative for foreign direct investment. Africa’s rebuttal this year was just as strong.
Growing at a rapid rate
The delegation presented a compelling scenario of a continent that is experiencing the highest rate of urbanisation in the history of mankind, that is the second fastest growing region in the world after Asia, that experienced the least volatility during the financial crisis and where the average economic growth for 2011 was 6%, with 45 out of 46 countries growing their GDP last year. In the West the general perception is that Africa is a continent of poverty but, in truth, 34% of households are middle-income. The size of the untapped market is formidable – Nigeria alone will have a population of 390 million people by 2050, making it the 5th most populous country in the world.
A notable presentation came from President Alpha Condé of Guinea Conakry who reported on his country’s drive for transparent governance within in government. For instance, Guinea’s mining tenders are now placed online and the winning bids are also published online in the interests of transparency and reducing fraud and corruption. President Condé also spoke, to great acclaim, of the need for Africans to develop self-respect by setting higher standards of professionalism for themselves, including moving away from the ubiquitous ‘Africa time’. “I see our country as a sleeping beauty that needs to wake up soon,” he said.
At the same time there was a pragmatic consensus that Africa still has many obstacles to overcome, foremost amongst these being infrastructure, education, transparency and governance, trade barriers and access to energy and technology. Investment is seen as the necessary catalyst for change, bringing new capacity and empowerment to the continent and, in turn, producing economic dividends for all. In this context, the Governor of the Bank of Botswana, Linah Mohohlo, called for a sovereign credit rating for Africa, as a route to providing clarity and confidence to the investor market and increasing investment into Africa.
There is, as we know, huge scope for infrastructure investment. Africa needs roads, pipelines, intra-country airline services, power generation, supply chain capacity and connectivity (digital connectivity in particular). With infrastructure investment coming into the country, industry and manufacturing opportunities would be there for the taking – at present, only 1% of the world’s manufactured products come out of Africa.
Governments are welcoming private-public partnership initiatives that involve capacity building and skills transfer to local communities. Indeed, the most successful investment projects are those that are delivering holistic solutions, with companies in diverse sectors collaborating with each other and with in-country and regional stakeholders, to supply infrastructure, logistics, services, connectivity, training, routes to market and so on.
The potential for agricultural development in Africa is very encouraging. At present, only a small percentage of arable land on the continent is used for cultivation; yet there is huge opportunity for food security. China is already buying up large tracks of arable land for growing its own food. But investment in logistics infrastructure is critically needed, so that local producers can reach wider markets. Without this kind of investment, farmers will remain trapped in subsistence agriculture and we will continue to see famine-stricken areas dependent on food flown in by donor agencies, rather than receiving supplies from their neighbouring countries.
Kenya reported on its forward thinking strategy to supply cheaper bandwidth. The Kenyan government took the decision to slash the cost of bandwidth to promote the uptake of internet connectivity and drive business growth. The result is that Kenya has leapfrogged South Africa as the country with the highest internet penetration in Africa (South Africa has dropped to fourth place) and is making rapid progress in building an IT culture and economy.
The quality of life of even the poorest and the most marginalised is affected by wireless connectivity – look at the impact of M-PESA, the mobile phone payment service for the unbanked. And we are only now starting to appreciate the impact that digital connectivity has on intellectual capital and to see how we can harness collective intellectual power to develop solutions. The opportunities in a wired Africa are breathtaking.
The message from Davos is that it is time for a new story about Africa – this will, in fact, be the theme of the Africa WEF meeting in Addis Abbaba in May this year. Although impediments remain, African leaders are showing greater unity on strategy. The world economy is a complex system in which all the pieces of the puzzle are shifting and one of the new favourites is Africa. For South Africa the opportunities are very exciting. We have the access, so we need to wake up and seize the day.
A Look At Youth Mentorship During Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)
Entrepreneur: A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.
Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off from 12 November – 16 November. Around the world, entrepreneurs are carving out their paths and are taking matters into their own hands.
Back home, Futureproof wants to instil a culture of curiosity, tenacity and risk taking in every South Africa – young or old, intrapreneur or entrepreneur.
In fact, we go as far as to teach young children from the age of 8-years-old about the art of entrepreneurship as part of our countrywide school program. Most recently, the company has seen success in the Orange Farm area and is teaching 110 Grade 3’s to master the art of entrepreneurship.
To celebrate this week, the team at Futureproof interviewed several well-known entrepreneurs and asked them the big question: ‘What do you wish someone had told you before you became an entrepreneur?’ Here’s what they had to say:
Clive Murray, the founder and CEO of World Water Exchange: “Making money is easier than keeping it. Don’t change the rules you make for yourself when times get tough.”
Marc Ashton, former MD of Moneyweb and CEO of Dynamic Body Technology:
- Don’t start a business…
- If you are feeling foolish and still wan to then do it with partners.
- If you are doing it with partners then lay out the terms of divorce upfront.
CEO and Co-Founder, Lisa Illingworth says that Futureproof has made it their life’s mission to aid children with the real-life, hands-on skills that they need to succeed as entrepreneurs.
“Text books just don’t teach the things that entrepreneurs really need to know. So much growth and economic activity can be realised out of entrepreneurial ventures, but we are all too scared to take the leap… why? Because we don’t feel supported and we would probably prefer to stay in our comfort zones”.
In fact, while entrepreneurship could literally catapult our country, an article in the Daily Maverick in 2017 described entrepreneurship in South Africa as ‘Sitting backwards on a donkey riding further away’.
Issues that entrepreneurs will come to face, even in their younger years is that of funding issues, lack of mentorship and opportunities, low skill levels, compliance and of course, poor standards of education and lack of access to education.
The current structure of the education system was initially designed in an entirely different age to achieve economic outcomes that are no longer viable due, in large, to the rapid innovation and adoption of technology.
“Gearing the country up for the forth industrial revolution is proving to be a challenge in both the public and private sectors. Are we really ready and how we use this particular week of the year to relook the problems and derive opportunities from them?” says Lisa.
Lisa provides context on the issues that entrepreneurs face. “Imagine this: you have a brilliant idea but no investment. You have no clue where to begin but you take it to the banks and a few potential investors. Without a solid plan and ‘street smarts’, the deals fall through, or you jump through hoops, give away more than half of your company and land up working tirelessly with no returns. This a reality for many who really don’t know how to launch an idea, understand its feasibility and raising the capital they need through mechanisms that won’t cannabalise the business at a later point.”
Lisa says that the country remains hopeful for President Ramaphosa to implement his vision for entrepreneurship as stated in the SONA 2018. “The President stated that ‘establishment through the CEOs Initiative of a small business fund – which currently stands at R1.5-billion – is an outstanding example of the role that the private sector can play. Government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups’,” she continues.
“We need to change how and what schools are teaching for this to be realised on a large scale and providing the foundations so that these kinds of funding initiatives will have the best possible chance of growth and success”.
Make Your Travel Even More Rewarding
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When travelling in Club, priority boarding is on offer giving passengers a minute or two to reflect as they settle into the comfort of the business class seats, meaning significantly more space, which can be utilised to work on your next business pitch, read a book on your digital device or stretch out and relax before touching down.
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As part of the Executive Club you will collect Avios every time you fly and you can even top up your Avios with ease and make use of a collective balance by pooling Avios together within a household account, to reach your dream destination sooner. By calculating earnable Avios and Tier points with the simple calculator available on ba.com, an estimation can be done before booking your next flight.
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How Schindlers Attorneys Became Involved In The Landmark Cannabis Case
Everything you accomplish accumulates and eventually comes back to assist you further along in your career. This is how a final year LLB assignment became the basis for a Constitutional Court case.
Schindlers Attorneys are the law firm that were involved in the landmark Constitutional Court judgement on cannabis use within a private space. Paul-Michael Keichel, Partner at Schindlers Attorneys shares how they came to be the foremost legal experts on cannabis and how they became involved in the Constitutional Court case:
How the journey began
“In 2005, my first year at Rhodes University, whilst studying for Intro to Law, it occurred to me that there were strong constitutional points that could be raised to objectively justify the decriminalisation of cannabis in South Africa,” explains Paul-Michael Keichel.
“In my final year LLB, 2009, I took Constitutional Litigation as an elective (largely motivated by the creation of a timetable clash, which meant that I’d not have to sit another semester of lectures for a module that I had failed the previous year). This provided me with the opportunity to write an assignment titled “A Critical Analysis of Prince and an Objective Justification for the Decriminalisation of Marijuana in South Africa”, in which I composed my argument (based on the right to equality in our Constitution).”
The start of the partnership
“Fast forward to 2013 and the Dagga Couple find themselves at Schindlers (where I am a first-year associate) to register their NPC, “Fields of Green for All”. The attorney handling the registration (who I’d also bored with my argument) suggests to the Dagga Couple that they speak to me. It turns out that they already knew of me, because my assignment had (unbeknownst to me) done the rounds on the underground cannabis networks. We get chatting and I rope-in my brother, Maurice Crespi, the managing partner of Schindlers,” explains Keichel.
“We are the only firm out of many approached by the Couple who are willing to take on their trial action against 7 state departments and Doctors for Life to push for a declaration of constitutional invalidity of the laws prohibiting cannabis use/possession/dealing in South Africa. We decide to run the challenge for them pro bono.”
The Cape ruling that started it all
“Prince and Acton et al have their matter heard in the Cape, which resulted in the 2017 Judgment. We run a portion of our trial (including expert evidence from international scientists and doctors – the best in field), but it is rendered part-heard. We then heard that Prince and Acton et al’s matter will be heard by the Constitutional Court in November 2017 and we decide, with the Dagga Couple, to intervene in that matter, upon which it is confirmed that my 2009 assignment forms the on-record basis of a major chunk of Prince and Acton et al’s arguments in support of legalisation.”
“Our involvement in the Constitutional Court was such that we provided clear legal argument and authority to support and expand upon what Prince and Acton et al were trying to say to the Court. Ultimately, much of what we submitted has found its way into the judgment of the Constitutional Court.”
How a final assignment became the foundation for a Constitutional Court case
“So, an idea (bolstered by wanting to create a timetable clash) resulted in an assignment, which provided certain credibility and impetus to cannabis activists. Two of these activists ended up being our clients, which, despite being handled pro bono, has brought Schindlers immeasurable positive publicity, and which, ultimately, contributed to the decriminalisation (and potential future legalisation and commercialisation) of cannabis in our country.”
“Schindlers now has a dedicated “Medicinal and Recreational Cannabis Law” department, through which we will continue to make submissions to parliament, apply for licenses on behalf of our clients, support those who have been arrested and charged.”
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