When I worked for international NGOs in Africa about 15 years ago, most senior people were non Africans. Their salary packages were sometimes 10 times (I am not exaggerating) that of their local peers who were often twice their age and multiple times more experienced. This hasn’t changed significantly today – a few are tweaking things here and there but I am not satisfied with the progress.
Later in development finance, I would hear quite a few white American and European senior employees elevate their only 3 months’ part- time work in as if it were a decade of deep, in-country or specific sector experience! They would splash this over their cvs in a jaw -dropping exaggeration of their ‘local context’ knowledge that would catapult them from junior employees to senior directors in no time. All the while extraordinarily knowledgeable ‘local’ staff had the less senior jobs.
I have worked with twenty -something year old foreigners with degrees from US or European schools and only one or two years experience; they use complicated -sounding English jargon and pretty powerpoints as they claim to be solving Africa’s greatest problems in education, healthcare etc. Again many senior Africans with actual sector expertise were passed over for these positions.
A well -known NGO in agriculture and food security in Africa talks about millions of farmers reached and food security being addressed, but didn’t have any African senior managers or directors that I knew of (in the period 2012–2016) and still has very few. A few years ago, I saw an apology from the founder – he said he hired from his networks and accepted that this strategy is flawed as his network is, well, white mostly. I still don’t see significant progress with this NGO.
In an international setting, a well- meaning Caucasian (I presumed he was well-meaning) asked me, after confirming that I am east African, what dialects I speak. I said, ” I don’t know about dialects but I speak the rich language of Swahili.” (Why should African languages be considered dialects I wonder?) “Oh”, I continued, “I also speak French, Spanish, Portuguese, English, some Luganda and a whole bunch more. What dialects do you speak!”
When I saw him at annual management meetings, he would repeatedly ask me to remind me what dialects or languages I speak! I realized after a few of these conversations that he just couldn’t compute that as an African, I had the right foreign (white) languages for the international job. Some of my current work involves venture capital funding.
Recently, a team and I were looking at a score of startups in Africa to make some investment decisions about where to channel very limited funding. I found, to my dismay, that a handful are not owned by Africans. My rough math is that less than 10 percent of international VC funding for startups goes to black Africans in east Africa. This is documented more rigorously elsewhere, with even more depressing findings (see article by Larry Madowo in the Guardian, 17 July 2020). This blatant bias continues to befuddle me.
We just can’t let these biases happen without interrogating them at minimum. I am past the stage of interrogation, so I need to act. International development should not be a place where foreigners from the West get to have the cushy jobs as they purport to solve poverty. After all, the “poverty” problems persist so we know that the foreigner-designed approaches and answers have not been working.
Africa’s supremely talented entrepreneurs build significant businesses against all odds- should we not give them a chance at real success? A chance to really contribute to our economic progress?
- Let’s hire talented people ensuring diversity in all spaces, particularly in Africa’s international development quagmire. Policies should be put in place that insist that NGOs, UN Agencies and the like have to use local skills, at all levels. If really these skills don’t exist, then governments can force these organizations build them among their nationals. (Few African countries mandate this).
- Let’s not create neocolonial bubbles that lead to resentment. Rather we should always look out for logic and equity and build real meritocracies in places of work. All foundations and philanthropic organizations in Africa should build respectful structures and human resources that show off the strengths of our continent.
- Let’s create regional- and continental- funds that fund home-grown businesses while also working with policy makers to insist that foreign capital is channeled to local businesses.
- Let us work on our own mindsets that sometimes are to blame.
- Let’s vehemently disagree with the myth that talent is so hard to find in Africa. All I see is hungry, shining talent.
- Let us say something and do something, to paraphrase the late John Lewis.
Author: Micheline Ntiru – Global pan-African. Catalyst of business + impact in Africa + Latin America. Constant Scribbler. Short Stories. Polyglot. Accent-curious. Wellness-minded.
Presidential Candidates Nigerians should not consider voting for in 2023 – Adaku Efuribe
Nigerians would be going to the polls in 2023 to elect a new president. I have written a lot of articles in the past regarding qualities of a great leader, but going by the understanding of most Nigerians, it would be more sensible to discuss the character of candidates not suitable for the job to enable us to separate the goat from the sheep so to say.
In solving mathematical equations, we sometimes use elimination methods to arrive at the correct answer. if we all know who we shouldn’t vote for, perhaps we could pinpoint who the possible suitable candidates are.
If we want to improve our economy and place Nigeria in its rightful place in world affairs then we must make conscious effort to ensure people with certain character flaws do not come anywhere close to the office of the president
Nigerians must not consider voting for candidates with the following character flaws/history.
Some of the candidates who have declared interest have been known to tell false tales to Nigerians in the past. A good example is a notorious fella who once made Nigerians doubt their cognitive ability. A few thought they actually suffered from short term amnesia. I wouldn’t tell you who to vote for but do not vote for liars, especially the one that woke up one morning shouting enough is enough! he went ahead to say he would be staging a protest against the present Government, he talked about a dream he had in which God revealed to him what he must do…Then the next day ..he said he wasn’t referring to this Government.
Anyone who has been involved in advance free fraud, misappropriation of public funds or lack of accountability must not be voted for if we want to move forward in this country. A leopard cannot change its spots. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
People with unaccountable wealth
Any candidate who cannot explain the source of their wealth is not to be trusted. Some people just spring up from nowhere to tell us God made them rich and no one can comprehend their source of wealth. We have had public servants who could not give account of the budget of their former office or keep an open book on how they spent public funds, such people will only continue to loot the treasury if given the opportunity.
Aspirants who do not believe in cutting down the cost of Governance
The GDP in Nigeria has depreciated over the last 8 years and part of the reason why we cannot come out of economic hardship is the cost of Governance. We spend a lot of money on the welfare of elected Government officials and legislators, more than most developed countries. There is definitely something wrong somewhere. Any candidate who does not believe in cutting down the cost of governance will only do one thing i.e.- continue to use public funds to fund their lavish lifestyle while the masses die of hunger and economic hardship.
Aspirants with no proven track record of effective leadership
Anyone who does not have any proven track record of leadership should not dream of becoming Nigeria’s next president. This country has sunk really low and we don’t have to operate anymore experiments. We don’t need the usual ‘I can do’ attitude. It’s either the proven experience is there or not.
Once again, the power would be placed in your hands to redecide the trajectory of our beloved country Nigeria. I intend to vote and my vote must count this time around. I know exactly who I will be voting for as I do not operate with sentiments. For us to see our country rise up again from the dunghill, I enjoin you all to have an open mind and consider the future of this country with any decision you make.
Article by Adaku Efuribe, Health Promotion Ambassador/Political analyst.
World War 3? Africa’s opportunity
It has often been said that when elephants are fighting, the grass is the one that suffers the most. And this statement is highly applicable to Africa in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Whereas the European countries are fighting a physical war, Africa’s fight against economic challenges such as poverty, unemployment, trade deficit and starvation is worsened by the conflict. Barely a fortnight into the conflict, global commodity prices have been on the rise and had adverse effects on import dependent countries. What lessons can African nations pick from the conflict and what low hanging opportunities can be explored?
Both Russia and Ukraine are important players in agricultural production, supplying about 30 percent of the world wheat and barley. In 2020 alone, African countries imported agricultural products worth about $6.9 billion from the two countries. However, the conflict has caused a disruption in the global supply chain of agricultural products. Essentially drying up exports as evidenced by the supply ban imposed by Ukraine, resulting in higher prices and stockpiles reducing. The global citizen report estimates that over 500 million people would be forced into hunger because of the food crisis arising from the conflict. There is a supply gap created which will lead to importers to seek alternatives markets. And therein lies the opportunity for African countries to stand out as global suppliers of these agricultural products and fill the gap.
Historically, Africans are farmers who have survived on agricultural production mostly at a micro level. Africa is blessed with arable land and good climatic conditions that support the growth of various products but productivity has remained low over the years. To take advantage of this situation calls for deliberate efforts to direct resources into growing the agricultural products in large quantities and benefit from the sales. To boost productivity faster, farmers could be incentivised through the use of outgrower schemes. Which are systems that link networks of unorganized smallholder farmers with domestic and international buyers. The identified agricultural market requires that both farmers and countries expand their capacities by investing in equipment and modernisation for higher output. The after effects of the crisis are projected to last for extended periods of time but for those countries that will emerge as gap fillers stand to benefit for a long time.
While it can be argued that globalisation and trade have been a key driver for growth and economic expansion for many nations, the gains have not been fairly distributed especially in Africa. Intra-Africa trade when compared to external trade accounts for a smaller percentage and hence the observed vulnerability of African trade to external factors. Imagine, while Africa is neither physically involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict nor imposing any sanctions on these countries. The effects of these two factors in derailing economic progress is worse in most African countries. Oil is a key input in various sectors of economies and the affordability and access to it has an impact on economic growth.
The crude oil prices are daily breaking record prices and for the many oil importing countries especially in Africa are at the receiving end of the spillover effects. Such as high cost of doing business and rising inflation which is detrimental to their economies. It defeats economic logic that African countries import oil from outside the continent, spending huge funds on transportation despite having neighbouring oil producing countries. The oil producing African countries should consider prioritising African nations for their exports to ensure that the continent is oil secure and the economies are thriving. Where possible, a differentiated preferential price which should be lower than the global price should be considered to ensure affordability and support to African nations.
The implementation of the Africa Continental free trade area, which has been envisioned as a game changer in African trade, has stalled with frequent postponements to actualisation. The current European conflict should be viewed as a catalyst for trade reorganisation in Africa and ACFTA implementation. This is because the crisis has indeed created a gap in trade and there is no guarantee that African nations could be prioritised in importing from the European countries that also have pressing needs. Self-sustenance in intra-Africa trade should be the target because, decades after independence, Africans cannot forever be dependants. Who are vulnerable to external factors which do not directly concern them.
While the conflict has devastating effects on some countries, it actually creates an opportunity for others. The identification of the comparative advantage that nations have in either current production or potential production is what should preoccupy those not participating in the physical fight. The current capacity in most African countries to manufacture products may not be able to compete with developed countries that have advanced technology. But in terms of primary produce, African nations have huge unexploited potentials.
Each country should introspect, organise its people and resources in targeting the global market. This is a matter of expanding what is already being produced and organising smaller businesses in bundling their produce. Working out strategies that will see individual countries to be a solution to a looming global crisis and benefit their nations in the process. If the opportunity is well taken and African nations stand out as solution providers, it could be a turning point for them to recover from indebtedness and economic challenges they have perpetually faced.
The looming crisis could just be a test to examine the capability of developing countries to switch from being dependents to being solution providers. The focus should not be on the current investment costs to be incurred. But rather the benefits that have potential to erase economic challenges when potential is exploited and opportunities seized.
By: Nchimunya Muvwende, Economist
Hamzat Lawal: Nigerian youth should pick a leader and support the person
Hamzat Lawal, Founder of Connected Development is one of the initial advocates for Anap Foundation. He has encouraged youths to shun any form of violence that might escalate to war or unnecessary bloodshed as the 2023 elections season gathers momentum.
Hamzat noted that ‘’Nigerian youths should pick a true leader and support the person from the beginning till the end. Don’t wait for a list and be searching for a lesser evil. Mobilize and rally behind a qualified candidate, Let’s Vote, let us take a chance at changing the trajectory of this country in 2023’’.
Hamzat Lawal position is coming as Anap Foundation kick-starts its enlightenment campaign themed, GoNigeria. A campaign to sensitize Nigerian youths to participate actively in the electoral process leading to the election of visionary leaders during the general elections come 2023.
Anap Foundation will be partnering with the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] and other advocates, celebrity ambassadors, corporate bodies. As well as volunteers in ensuring a huge success is attained in encouraging the youths in understanding that their votes count in having the right leaders at the country’s helm of affairs.
The campaign is in full gear with collaboration from the initial advocates of Anap Foundation. Who have intensified efforts at encouraging young Nigerians to register and collect their PVC to vote in next year’s general elections. Towards ensuring good governance and accessing the true dividends of democracy.
The initial advocates are Aisha Yesufu, Active Nigerian Citizen; Nuruddeen Lemu, Director, Research & Training, the Da’wah Institute, Islamic Education Trust. Also, Dike Chukwumerije, Poet; Folarin Falana (Falz), Musician, Actor, and Entertainer Atedo Peterside, Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank and President & Founder, Anap Foundation. Bishop Matthew Kukah, Catholic Church, Sokoto; Arunma Oteh, Chairperson, Royal African Society and Scholar, University of Oxford. Hamzat Lawal, Founder, Connected Development (CODE); Tomiwa Aladekomo, National Chair, Youth Party; Osita Chidoka.