Chinese iPhone

As with so many things in Africa the people here often simply make do. Read more

“Help me find a container!”

Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive.  And frankly, this is nothing new.

In September 2001, while images of New York’s tumbling towers were being shown on a loop on all television screens in Mogadishu, business leaders there were not too much concerned about geo-politics – yet.

Instead they kept telling me they were looking forward to paying taxes.

Taxes,  in their view, were better than security, transport and energy bills they had to foot themselves in the absence of any working government.

Of course, Somali entrepreneurs already ran banks, telecommunication networks and soda bottling plants. Crucially, they also were in charge of hospitals, schools and security.

Deals were being enforced without courts or even legal framework.

A couple of years before, in Alexandra, one of Johannesburg’s poorest townships,  a single mum working as a self-employed baker approached me with a sudden request: “Where can I find a container? Help me!”.

At the time, the unemployment rate in Alexandra was up to 70 or 80 percent.  Sewers were running out in the open — less than a mile away from Sandton,  Johannesburg’s new banking and business district.

Living with her two young children in a shack, the young mum was earning a living selling buns outside a school.

She knew she had a market and wanted to corner it. She needed capacity – in the form of a container where she would store raw material, set up proper baking facilities and a stall to conduct her business.

I have no idea whether she eventually found a container – and I certainly could not help. But she and thousands of other entrepreneurs like her have been seizing and creating similar opportunities across the continent.

This is what the BBC World Service  Power of The Private Sector series has been showcasing all week on Focus on Africa and Network Africa.

Inside the IMF

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After the Storm

It’s only a handful of times that I have felt this. It’s what I call a Mandela moment – being aware of living through something historical and extraordinary.

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Ethiopia — Life’s Little Luxuries

What price life’s little luxuries? That’s not an idle question here in Ethiopia. As a landlocked country (Eritrea got the seaports) Ethiopia has just one way to the sea — through the seriously congested port of Djibouti. It seemed a like a good idea at the time to concentrate its export efforts on low-volume, high-value commodities. Read more

World Have Your Say from Coco Beach

Last night’s World Have Your Say was a tricky programme. Power surges and power cuts not to mention low-flying bats all formed hazards that needed to be avoided.

Still, we managed to get several Tanzanians on air at the Coco Beach bar and heard their views on the impending crisis. Special thanks to WHYS regular Adam who heard us on FM 104 — a local World Service rebroadcaster — and turned up to take part.

The podcast is here.

World Have Your Say live at Coco Beach.

Some of the contributors left to right: Emmy, Dina, Jacqueline, Salim and Ranjiv

And a massive thanks to the World Service business unit’s Rob Young who’s quick thinking with batteries saved our equipment from getting fried. Cheers Rob!

Rob young

Live from Tanzania II

It’s the concluding “conversation” here in Dar es Salaam. The moderator has asked for frank and feisty remarks. She must know Bob Geldof is in the audience.

11:05 A question has been posed: “Washington-lead governance is over? Do you agree?”

11:06 Not many in support of the motion which was posed by Jeffrey Sachs yesterday.

11:07 What is Tanzania doing to drive private entrepreneurship.. . . ? Asked to President Kikwete directly.

11:08 He seems a little fazed by the question . . . Trevor Manuel from SA has stepped in to help.

11:12 Same Q to Senegal’s Abdoulaye Diop.

11:14 Bob Geldof’s on . . . watch out: “Unless we pull the poor into the system it will not stabilise.”

11:16 Sir Bob: “Dar es Salaam is rife with corruption” . . . Kikwete’s response not recorded.

11:18 Sir Bob to President Kikwete: “You snigger instead of naming these thieves.”

>>>>>>>>>>> Click here to hear Sir Bob Geldof

11:19 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is on now, she is a strong speaker: “My continent is hurting . . . ”

11:26 Trevor Manuel on the IMF: “These organisations have a built in recalcitrance to change . . ”

11:27 Trevor Manuel re the USA financial crisis: “If that had been any African country the IMF would have been all over you like a ton of bricks”

11:29 Dominique Strauss-Kahn, MD of the IMF: “I’m hoping the G20 will give some answers. The crisis is the first in history that originated in another part of the world and which will affect Africa”

11:20 DSK: “We need to change the governance of our organisation”

11:34 Trevor Manuel: “The IMF is not a donor agency it’s a devlopment finance institution.”

11:35 Trevor Manuel: “We [Africans] are too weak to engage with the experts [from the IMF]”

11:35 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from Nigeria: “We need to mobilise the diaspora to help . . let’s try and encourage them to come back home” Food for thought . . any Africans outside of Africa care to comment

11:36 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: “I’m gonna give you fireworks. We want a change in global governance. Women — that’s an aspect that hasn’t been put on the table. Even on this table [APPLAUSE!]”

11:39 The moderator has a question for President Kikwete again “What are you doing?” You can’t deny, it’s a direct question . . .

11:40 President Kikwete “The issues are difficult to comprehend” Very true . . . very true.

11:40 President Kikwete: “The current crisis has not yet hit us. There is an impending crisis.”

11:42 President Kikwete “I’m trying as much as I can.”

11:43 Bob’s on again . .

11:44 Sir Bob: “We built a leveraged society and there’s no more leverage”

11:45 Sir Bob has calmed down a bit: “Whatever hopes DSK and Kikwete have about the IMf and Africa this is about a different relationship between Africa and the world. don’t go anymore with the attitude of being supplicants. We go into the G8. The G8 which has done so little . . forget the word PROMISE . . it comes with emotional issues. Why don’t Africans say WHERE’S THE MONEY” Echoes of Live Aid in 1985 which I’m sure many of you will remember. Actually, I don’t think he’d calmed down at all . . .

11:49 Trevor Manuel from South Africa is on again: “The impetus in wealthy countries tends towards nationalism in times like this. It’s the electorate that matters”


It’s been a dynamite Kikwete v. Geldof session. I’m posting a video of it soon.

12:02 DSK: “You need to have meeting where everyone is represented . . that’s the strength of the IMF and the World Bank. African voices may not be strong enough but there IS a voice.”

12:06 An unknown minister is on: “People have accepted that Africa is at the table. Will they listen?”

12:07 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: “African leaders need to hold an alternative forum and invite the G20 to come [APPLAUSE]. We don’t know how to manage our own media relations. We should hold it in London.”

12:09 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: “Africans developed Europe. With the resources taken from Africa Europe developed.”

12:10 President Kikwete “What Ngozi said is important. We may organise that meeting and they may not turn up. E.g. in the SADC region we have this annual consultation between SADC and Europe . . it is supposed to be at the ministerial level. . . and no ministers from Europe come except senior officials. And this is suppoed to be a consultative forum!”

12:16 Trevor Manuel is talking about ” . . . people in the IMF who write and look and behave exactly like each other. You need diversity to engage differently. The problem is there’s been one song sheet, one gospel . .. you were rewarded for taking the gospel to the heathens out there in Africa. The institution has to change”

12:20 Trevor Manuel: “We don’t have a banking crisis like the united States has. African countries have sound financial regulation.”

12:22 Trevor Manuel: “Between Zimbabwe and ourselves [SA] we probably have 90% of the world’s platinum. Same for DRC and Zambia re copper. If people don’t have money for jewellery it has an impact. It’s different from industries in Detroit that have surpassed their life.” A harsh message for car workers in the USA.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

12:30 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: “President Kikwete is doing a wonderful job” Some support for the Pres at last . . .

12:32 Linah Moholho, governor of Botswana’s central bank: “The IMF is prohibitively expensive in technical assistance. Decision-making is still skewed in the direction of the Gs . . G8 . . G20.”

12:35 Mr. Akwetey of Ghana: “Kikwete’s approach is commendable but inadequate. We need to find methods of getting people to comprehend what is difficult.”

12:36 Sir Bob is putting his faith in the internet: “It’s not up to presidents or parliamentarians . . . the access to the web means they must engage with civic society. Who appoints the regulators . . .? We’re all the victims of this massive Ponzi scheme which everyone participated in.”

12:40 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: “The NGOs have to get to gether to make sure the NGIs — Non Governmental Individuals –are put to one side.”

12:41 President Kikwete: “My friend in Ghana . . . I will give you the assurance that we have a civil society in Tanzania that is free.”

12:57 President Kikwete: “I’m going to London on the 16th to communicate to Gordon Brown our sentiments. We’ll try as much as we can to communicate this message to the G20. Thank you you’ve made us proud. It is an honour for us to host this meeting. Africa is the last frontier in man’s development. Something is being don but what is being done is not enough. Promises are not being kept. Keep the promise. Thank you for coming.”

13:10 Dominique Strauss-Kahn: “For some in Africa it’s not just about unemployment it can be about life a death. We need to act now. It’s time to keep promises — resources of course but all the other kind of promises too . . . fighting corruption. Advanced economies have to have in mind they have a responsibility to the citizens of the world”

13:15 DSK: “Advanced economies need to be less arrogant” . . . He’s including himself when he was French finance minister . . . “I can be proud of many things done by the IMF in the past.”

13:17 DSK: “We are your institution. You need to use us but you need to be confident that we are on your side. In the coming months and unfolding crisis we wil be able to found a new kind of partnership”

That’s it

Jeffrey Sachs on African aid

Jeffrey Sachs is a special advisor to the UN’s Ban Ki Moon. He’s one of the key speakers here at the IMF conference in Dar es Salaam . . .

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The game of Bao

Two men playing this ancient game in Slipway north of Dar es Salaam.

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Tanzania — the skills shortage

Like many east African countries Tanzania has a sizeable ethnic Indian middle-class. Ranjiv Kapur is a film maker who’s been living in Dar es Salaam for 9 years. He described the frustrations of getting staff and doing business in Tanzania during the economic crisis.

Click here to listen to Ranjiv (3 mins 37 secs)

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