CAIRO – 16 April 2019: Egypt and the United Nations (UN) discussed supporting a number of development projects and activating the framework strategic agreement between both entities till 2022, worth $1.2 billion.
The meeting was held between Egypt’s Minister of Investment
Sahar Nasr and UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohamedon the sidelines of the 2019 ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up (FfD Forum) at the UN Headquarters in New York.
The discussed development projects included supporting development in Sinai and Upper Egypt, supporting and developing a water and sanitation systems, developing the education system, health, women’s empowerment and social responsibility, according to the Investment Ministry’s statement.
The UN deputy secretary general praised Egypt’s economic reform program, stating that this program contributed to improving the economic performance which resulted in the positive indicators of the last period.
Mohamed highlighted the pivotal role Egypt plays on the regional and international levels in light of its presidency of the African Union, which helps in discussing several cooperation opportunities between Egypt and the UN. These opportunities include supporting development projects in Egypt, the UN’s role in financing private sector projects to achieve development objectives and deepen the economic relations through joint investments and intra-trade.
She clarified that the United Nations considers Egypt a pioneer in economic reforms, especially in the African continent, where Egypt comes first in the rate of increase of foreign direct investment.
The meeting discussed the role of the United Nations and international institutions in financing projects, and the participation of the private sector in achieving development goals.
For her part, the minister emphasized the government’s interest in boosting the role of the private sector in a number of public development projects, shedding light on the major legislative reforms that are set to enhance the investment climate.
Nasr pointed out that, besides the economic reform, the social aspect has been taken into consideration and support has been provided for the neediest groups. “The government is continuously working to support the neediest classes through direct and indirect support programs.”
Nasr stressed that the UN programs and framework should focus on the poorest and neediest areas in Egypt, referring to the importance of partnership with the United Nations, which comes at an important and strategic time.
The minister also met with Administrator of the United Nations Development Program Achim Steiner, where it was agreed to support Egypt’s program during President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s presidency of the African Union. Also,strengthening and deepening the strategic partnership between the African Union and the United Nations Development Program, especially in the field of development in the African continent and the promotion of integration projects and regional integration, was agreed upon.
The two sides also agreed to cooperate in the field of entrepreneurship, as the fund works to support development projects and encourage investments that contribute to the achievement of development goals in areas such as poverty reduction, job creation and renewable energy.
Steiner stressed the keenness of UNDP to strengthen cooperation with Egypt to establish development in the African continent, to achieve economic integration and regional integration, and to advance the African common action.
The minister asserted Egypt’s keenness to establish partnerships with various United Nations organizations to contribute to attracting investments to the African continent, stressing the importance of setting a priority to increase support for the private sector to participate in development, and stimulate the growth of emerging companies in the continent.
– Egypt Today
The Future of Brand Communication in a Self-Actualized Economy of 2050
Towards the end of the year last year, I was invited to be a panelist at the Global Work Tech Scenarios 2050 South Africa Conference. At first, I was nervous to share my thoughts as I was not sure how they would be received, and I was not so sure about how my expertise in the field of Marketing and Communications would fit in the context of the future of science and technology. Quite often, the tendency is that we see science as a mutually exclusive subject that does not directly impact our daily lives – well at least that’s what I thought.
However, the more exposed I have been to this field,the more I realise how the different waves in science and technology have been shaping the cultural experience of society, for example, the way in which society communicates, shops and accesses information has changed because of the digital age. Attending this conference has further opened my eyes to this and as a result, has demanded that I think about the possibilities of the future and role of Marketing and Communications in this regard.
In preparation for the panel discussion, we were sent a document titled Future Work/Tech 2050 Global Scenarios. Using a future studies method, the case study thoroughly highlights potential scenarios that could emanate by 2050 as a result of global technological advancements. Additionally, the case study examines the effect these advancements will have on politics, economics and culture. Out of the three scenarios presented to us, the third one titled: If humans were free – the self-actualization economy resonated with me the most.
According to this particular future study, new technologies in the form of artificial intelligence will change the face of the job market as we know it today. By 2050, approximately 4-billion people will gravitate towards self-employment. This means, although new technologies might not necessarily support formal employment but, they may provide a conducive environment for alternative forms of employment to thrive. With this kind of economic shift, the study predicts that the percentage of people employed by corporations will decrease and there will be an increase in the number of self-employed individuals. The study also suggests that individual power will begin to increase relative to government and corporate power.
This economic shift which is a result of a technological revolution will also have a direct impact on global culture. Due to increased individual power, society will begin to embrace the concept of a self-actualized economy. Essentially, what this means is, individuals will begin to decide for themselves how to use their time, ponder on issues concerning their life purpose and find ways to express their purpose through work. As a result, a culture of self-awareness, creativity and purpose will culminate and this could also change the way in which people relate to brands. In a society where individuals are self-aware and are driven by the need to express self, one has to ask themselves how will this affect the way corporates market and communicate their brand to the public.
Corporate for many years has benefited from the existence of public relations, marketing and communications. This is because this field of study specialises in examining the behaviour of consumers or a particular target audience, understanding their needs and wants then, using various methods to mass communicate a particular service or product to a group of people for the purpose of profit.
In fact, Edward Bernays who is considered the “father of public relations” and known as nephew of Sigmund Freud,based the foundation of public relations on studying crowd psychology – which is a broad study of how an individual’s behaviour is influenced in a large crowd. Over the years, this approach has worked like a charm because the economic system of capitalism bred a societal culture of competitiveness, consumerism and the need for attaining material success in order to gain social acceptance. Therefore, corporate through public relations, marketing and communications, have been able to win over the loyalty of various publics by tapping into this.
However, if future studies are predicting a self-actualized economy by 2050, which will have us witness a decrease in corporate power and an increase in individual power. If the order of the day in society will be about exploring personal creativity, self-awareness and pursuing purpose as opposed to seeking material success for gaining social acceptance, it may mean that the field of marketing and communications may have to start finding a different approach to communicating brands to the public.
I therefore suspect that as opposed to a mass communication approach which groups people according to what they have – for example, using the living standard measuring (LSM) method to understand a particular target audience, a more personalised approach may have to be adopted. This means, brands may have to invest more time in scanning the environment of their target market, taking the time to understand what affects them, what they want, what they need, their deepest desires and fears. The changing consumer market will dictate that brands have the ability to engage as an active member of the community, and skillfully interpret their belief and value systems, and not just their physiological needs.
Previously, brands got away with simply marketing and communicating a product to push it in the market. This approach worked for years because the consumerist culture of that time was more about, what can a particular product or service do for me. However, this approach to a consumer of today seems detached. With the digital age which allows us to access information easily, there already has been a gradual increase in consumers who are more aware and have taken interest in the politics that govern how a brand operates. As a result, consumers confidently reject a brand that does not represent their beliefs or value system. This kind of consumer, unapologetic and self-aware is predicted to increase exponentially by 2050. For the brands that refuse to observe and listen, they will remain detached from the reality of their target audience and will find themselves preaching to the unconverted.
Egyptian-Japanese missed opportunities
CAIRO – 6 August 2019: Lots of missed opportunities need to be reconsidered for further cooperation between Egypt and Japan in the near future. The two countries still have a lot of potential for joint coordination in several aspects.
Taking a closer look on Japan would make you re-think of it as more than just a technologically sophisticated country, and for Egypt, as more than a North African developing, and economically growing country.
Egypt, which is currently the head of the African Union, is looking for more discussions and solutions to several national and African issues, including the countries’ economic reform and growth as a priority.
Other issues including enhancing peace and security, countering terrorism, developing health, education and infrastructure are among the challenges that need a second look in Africa. That is in addition to poverty, forced displacement and illegal immigration.
What could Africa as a nation with all its particularchallenges and prioritiesbenefit from cooperating with Japan?
The policy of the “closed door” was forced in Japan for hundreds of years. Per this policy, very few things could have the opportunity to enter or leave the country. This affected the country’s trade, culture and military and led to the transformation of the country.
Many things happened during wars and conflicts, especially World War II,forwhich the country officially apologized. Years after all of this, Japan has become more than just atechnologically-advanced country;it is a country which is still seeking to learn, and communicate.
“Japan is an isolated country.It is far from Africa. It needs nearly a day of traveling so we can reach each other,” President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Shinichi Kitaoka said during a meeting that included ten journalists from different African countries, reviewing the Japanese-African relations and the aspects of ongoing cooperation.
During the meeting,Kitaoka said that Japan supports other countries to grow and be independent through providing ODA loans. “Loan is something to support being independent. Countries need to know how to utilize these loans and give themback after several years,” Kitaoka explained.
“We made mistakes in World War II, invaded other Asian countries, so we wanted to give back to these countries, and this is what we did during the past years. However, as the Asian countries have developed, we think that Africa has to be the main focus of Japan at the meantime,” Kitaoka added.
TICAD, as a start
In 1993, Japan and Africa started holding Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). TICAD was held for the first time in Tokyo on October 5 and 6, 1993, aiming to enhance dialogue between African-Japanese leaders, promote Africa’s development, peace and security, strengthen relations between the countries, and establish strong partnerships between Tokyo and Africa.
The international conference which has been held regularly since then is not just led by Japan, despite being a Japanese initiative. Several international partners shared the organization of TICAD, which is co-sponsored by the United Nations, along with the Japanese government. The partners include the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the World Bank.
On August 28, TICAD7 is expected to be held inthe presence of all African leaders, including Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Many things were announced to be discussed.
During meeting with JICA and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) officials in Tokyo in July, Business Today knew several details about the awaited conference including the side eventsbeing held for the first time with an Egyptian start up participation among other African startups invited to the conference.
Under the theme “Africa and Yokohama, Sharing Passion for the Future,” several issues are going to be discussed during the conference. Technology and innovation wereannounced to be part ofall discussions this year.
But, as discussions have been ongoing between Africa and Japan extensively since 1993, what else could be done, so no opportunities would be missed, especially between Egypt and Japan?
Egypt is a rising market for startups. According to start-up platform MAGNiTT’s 2018 Mena Venture Investment Report, Egypt is the fastest growing startup ecosystem and the second largest after the UAE.
Egypt’s share of the total number of seed funding agreements grew by 7 percent y-o-y to $196.5 million, representing 22 percent of all MENA closes in 2018. “Egypt is seeing a second wave of entrepreneurs and investors that are more mature and experienced. The population is also starting to embrace technology for everyday activities,” Algebra Ventures Managing Partner ZiadMokhtar said.
Accordingly, Egypt’s entrepreneurs could not just see golden opportunities during TICAD7, but also for what a city like Kobe could offer to them.
Kobe is a Japanese city promoting itself as the young people and innovators’ first choice. During a presentation for Kobe officials at the city administrative headquarters, they focused on the city’s goal to become an environment where entrepreneurs can grow easily and create their new business.
The start-up visa for foreigners is among the very special things offered by Kobe city. Meeting with the city officials, they explained that they can offer a startup visa that allows foreign entrepreneurs to stay in Japan for one year maximum.
After getting the approval of the city officials, entrepreneurs will be able to start their business in Japan and enjoy a subsidy provided by the government “covering half of rent and communication cost, 2million ($1.8K) Yen personnel expenses for hi-tech engineersand a maximum of13 million ($120K) subsidies for 3years.”
However, after the first year of operating in Japan, startups need to meet the city’s demands to continue operating for further periods. The city’s criteriainclude the business has “a maximum of two fulltime staff or a capital exceeding 5million Yen”.
This Japanese city is offering a start-up visa for entrepreneurs even if they do not have an existing business at their own countries. The officials affirmed to Business Today that no legal consequences will be imposed onthe startups or the founders if they fail to meet the demands. They added that the Japanese perspective towards startups is different than the African one, and they believe that startups will have a fair chance in Japan to succeed and continue.
Age, health and society
The challenges in Japan and Egypt are severely different. Egypt deals with the high and rapidly growing population as a problem which is equally dangerous to terrorism, according to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s earlier statements. Japan is suffering from the rising number of elderly people and the reluctance of young people to marry and have children. According to statistics reviewed during a presentation at the National Hospital Organization, Nagasaki Medical Center, Japan in the future willsuffer population reduction.
Japan’s Ministry of Health is currently working to promote increasing the population, according to doctorAtsumasa Komori from Nagasaki Medical Center. “The increasing numberof elderly people in Japan is our biggest problem,” he said.
Enhancing communications between Japanese and African nations and increasing the cultural exchanging channels could offera solution for both countries.
“Egypt’s steadily growing population should be used as a privilege,”JICA’s Middle East division Director Masataka TAKESHITA said during an interview with Business Today at JICA’s headquarters’ in Tokyo. He assured that the country’s population is one of the positive sides that should be exploited in the best ways.
He pointed out that Egypt still needs to work on creating more job opportunitiesamid the government’s economic reforms.
Japan has many successful experiments on human development especially in Asia, according to Shigeru Ushio, director-general for African Affairs department and assistant minister offoreign affairs.
Egypt and Japan had a lot of meetings and discussions ahead of TICAD7, set to be held on August 28 in Yokohoma city, according to Ushio, who affirmed that both parties held a number of senior officials’ meetings.
He added that Japan has huge commitments with Egypt. “The Egyptian government always sends high level seniors to Japan to follow up on updates of our agreements and discussions and we respect their views and leadership,” Ushio added.
He pointed out during a limited press conference held in the attendance of the African media representatives that Egypt and Japan held a lot of discussions, especially regarding human development aspects where Japan has a number of successful experiences in cooperation with other countries.
“We believe development is the key to do anything, as we have done this with many countries, especially in Asia, and believe that the time has come to do it with Africa now,” Ushio stated
With Further discussions among officials in both countries, maybe Japan and Egypt can reach a solution for them both.
“I am interested in Delta. If there is a chance to conduct research and see what we can do in this area, we are certainly interested in it,” Yasuhiro Tsujimoto, a member of the Crop, Livestock, and Environment division at Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Science (JIRACAS) told Business Today during a presentation at JIRACAS headquarters in Tsukuba.
Tsujimoto was reviewing his pilot project implemented in Madagascar since 2001. He said that the final results of his project, which aims at improving rice production in Africa, cannot be officially announced yet. He added, however, that if JIRACAS found that any of its research results are suitable with Egypt’s agriculture conditions and climate, it will definitely share it.
He also explained that his project, entitled “FY VARY project”, aims at the improvement of rice yield production under law fertilizer input and poor soil fertility environment in SSA. It was mainly conducted as a pilot experiment in Madagascar, and is scheduled to continue until 2022.
Answering Business Today’s question about JIRACAS’ researches in North African countries, and especially Egypt, in order to raise the production rate and quality, Yasuhiro said the institute is not currently conducting research in North Africa, especially with the existence of a nearby universities and institutes interested in conducting researches on Egypt’s climate and agriculture conditions.
“We are not conducting current research in North Africa, as other universes are doing research. We are focusing more on doing what no one else has done before, especially in other African countries,” Yasuhiro said.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) published a research on rice production in Africa titled, “Rice production in Africa, current situation and issues”. The study states that, “With the exception of a few countries that have attained self-sufficiency in rice production, rice demand exceeds production and large quantities of rice are imported to meet demand at a huge cost in hard currency.”
According to a FAO study, Africa consumes a total of 11.6 million tons of milled rice per year, of which 3.3 million tons (33.6 percent) areimported.
Egypt, in particular, has imposed restrictions on planting rice since the beginning of 2018 due to fears of water shortage. The government has decided to reduce the area of rice cultivation from 1 million feddans to 724,000feddans. Furthermore, planting rice was prohibited in certain governorates, including Aswan, Luxor, Qena, Sohag, Assiut, Minya, BeniSuef, Fayoum, New Valley, Giza, Cairo, Qaliubiya, Menoufia, MarsaMatrouh, North Sinai, South Sinai and Red Sea.
According to reports, Nigeria was named the largest producer of rice in Africa, replacing Egypt which was known of being on top of Africa’s production in this regard.
In March 2019, Egypt’s government has announced raising the allowed area of rice cultivation, to be once again 1 million feddans, in order to reduce the import expenses for rice.
Egypt and Japan already have a “successful implemented experience” regarding educational cooperation, according to JICA’s Egypt Office Chief Representative, Yoshifumi Omura, during an interview with Business Today.
Nearly 100 schools are to be opened during the several coming years. Some 35 schools have already opened their doors and received Egyptian students for the academic year 2018/2019. Five more schools are expected to open during the next year.
The 100 schools will be based on “Tokkatsu”. As identified by Japanese Asakawa elementary school principal, Ms. Hiromi Shimizu, Tokkatsu is a kind of student activity which builds the students’ characters to make them more independent and positive. She said that studies have been conducted on students’ behavior before and after applying the Tokkatsu activities, and showed significant transformation in students’ behaviors. Students turn into more engaging and open individuals who are willing to participate in discussions without fear.
Many Egyptian teachers came to Japan to take the Tokkatsu training, according to Shimizu. She added that she met and trained some of them, and even became friends with them.
“We understand that we have an education system different from the one in Egypt, or any other country; however, Tokkatsu is not just about learning, it is also about building personalities,” Shimizu said.
By the end of the academic year, teachers will have to fill a form to check if all of the Tokkatsu goals have been achieved during the year. This is the only aspect through which they can check if Tokkatsu was successful or not.
“Tokkatsu can be applied anywhere around the world. Eventually, Tokkatsu is about changing people’s mind sets to be more motivated to participate in the society even more,” Shimizu said.
“Of course we expected to face some difficulties and problems in the beginning because the whole idea is new. But, so far, I can say that the experience is pretty much successful, despite everything that happened during setting up the process last year,” JICA’s Egypt Office Chief Representative, Yoshifumi Omura, said.
Japan is not a countrywithso many natural sources; however, they managed to create different sources to strengthen their economy. JICA’s Kitaoka reviewed during the meeting with the Africanjournalists that Japan focused after World War II on reforming the country’s economy. Several years later, Japan, a country which survived two atomic bombings, turned from an invading country during the war to a supporting country for its neighbors.
The Implication Of Financial Illiteracy In Nigeria
Nigeria is a country with a high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) compared to its colleague in the developing yard Bangladesh. Data revealed that with the high GDP, Nigeria harbors 4-time people living below the poverty line than Bangladesh. The reasons can be attributed to the country’s 56 percent income spend on food (highest in the world) as opposed to its counterpart with less than 40 percent. In Nigeria, approximately 60 percent live below the poverty line. In Bangladesh, however, that number is 24.3 percent indicating 55.3 percent likelihood to live below the poverty line in Nigeria compared to Bangladesh.
Source: Country Economy, 2018
Should appropriate financial knowledge (Literacy) solve this discrepancy considering:
- The current situation of education curriculum containing only 5% of studied courses about personal finance for non-business students and only 10% studied financial courses in business colleges.
- The literacy rate. In Nigeria, the literacy rate is 59.6%. In Bangladesh, it is 72.8% showing a 22.1 percent more likely to be literate in Bangladesh when compared to Nigeria.
- The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the two economies as shown in the figure below;
Source: Country Economy, 2018
Asides the high GDP in Nigeria compared to Bangladesh, above all others metric, Bangladesh is a better economy owning to Nigeria’s low level of Education and epileptic education structure; education which can increase the level of financial literacy is in shambles. It becomes imperative for the government of the country to devise actionable plans to improve its citizen’s financial literacy which will invariably repress consumption, at the same time, encourage saving and investment. This is based on the assumption that negative relationship exists between literacy level and consumption. In other words, the higher the financial literacy, the more informed the citizens financial decisions are, hence a moderate consumption. As such, it will be concluded upon that high level of is associated with low consumption level. More so, in a study conducted by Adriaan K. et al (2016)[i] to examine the impact of financial literacy on household consumption. It was found that financial literacy of man plays a large role and a higher financial literacy score of the women decreases consumption.
What is Financial Literacy
In simple terms, it is a skill that helps people to make financial decisions effectively. It ensures having the required and appropriate knowledge, skills, and confidence to make responsible financial decisions. Research has found a positive relationship between financial literacy and financial decisions. Putting that into context, a high level of financial literacy translates better financial decisions and its low level equate poor financial decisions in which the latter is attributable to the current situation of the giant of Africa.
Contextually, the position of literature on elucidating a better understanding of financial literacy defines “knowledge as an understanding of personal and broader financial matters; skills as the ability to apply that financial knowledge in everyday life; confidence as having the self-assurance to make important decisions and responsible financial decisions as to the ability of individuals to use the knowledge, skills, and confidence they have gained to make choices appropriate to their own circumstances”. It gives the twin benefit of protecting from financial frauds as well as planning for financially secured future.
A poor or low financial literacy is often influenced by family background as found by Lusardi(2008) who claimed that 41 percent of required knowledge for better financial decisions usually comes from parenting and home advice. As such, family wealth accumulation lined in the league of factors affecting individual financial decisions. Others factors attributed to poor financial decisions include Education, household income, financial responsibility, and place of residence. The low level of financial literacy has affected and can be attributed to the slow pace with which Nigerians have adopted financial services in rural and urban areas.
The APEX Bank of Nigeria, Central Bank of Nigeria (The Bank), has released as part of its mandate to improve the level of financial literacy in the country. The bank in a statement stated that:
“An important mandate of the Bank is the promotion of a sound financial system in Nigeria. A key aspect of this function is the entrenchment of effective consumer protection regime that not only protects the rights of consumers but also engenders public confidence in the financial system. Furthermore, the bank added a commitment in 2011 referred to as the MAYA DECLARATION, to reduce the number of financially excluded Nigerians from 46.3 percent in 2010 to 20 percent by the year 2020”.
The current exclusion rate in 2018 was about 36.8 percent according to a recent report by Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EfinA, 2018). To ensure the fulfillment of this obligation.
A National Financial Inclusion Strategy was accordingly developed and launched on October 23, 2012. The strategy identified consumer protection and its constituent pillars of Market Conduct, Dispute Resolution & Consumer Education as critical to the attainment of its objectives.
Understanding the position of the bank, the metric for financial literacy is financial inclusion. It was claimed that 68.2 percent of the population is financially included of which 56 percent of income is spent on consumption. Should a high level of financial literacy not better position saving or investment ahead of consumption?
What is my Position?
The dominance of financial mistakes will not come as a surprise; this is due to the relative inadequate financial knowledge among households. High level of financial literacy is what differentiates the two countries mentioned earlier. As long as a larger portion of income is spent on consumption, the poor will remain poor.
As such, Quality Education in all sectors of the economy becomes imperative which includes
- Review of Education Curriculum to include 30 percent of financial related knowledge.
- Provision of incentives to promote savings and investments through financial institutions.
- Public sensitization and awareness on the need for better financial decisions through instilled financial knowledge which could involve partnership with media houses and agencies.
In all, a conscious effort must be made to scale financial inclusion in the country, through financial literacy. An increased level and quality of education can enhance better financial literacy.
Worth noting in a country with a high level of illiteracy is that financial knowledge will be abysmally low and higher proportion of the income will be spent on consumption
This poor knowledge will lead to low savings and investment and the cycle of poverty ensues. The implication of illiteracy can never be overemphasized on nation’s economy.
[i]Milena Dinkova, AdriaanKalwij, & Rob Alssie (2016), The impact of financial literacy on household consumption
Credit: Taiwo Oyekanmi
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