Smart Cities in Africa: Nairobi and Cape Town

Smart cities leverage on technology and use the large amount of data their citizens generate every second to optimize resources, to connect people and to improve business and trading. A smart city targets energy savings and adopts environmentally friendly technologies, which helps promoting sustainable development.
Nairobi and Cape Town rank among the most advanced cities on the African continent on the smart city front. Nairobi, capital of Kenya and home to over 3 million people, won the title of Most Intelligent City in Africa for two years in a row. Going south, Cape Town blossoms as one of the best places to do business in the continent as the South African government continuously implements thoughtful planning and cutting edge technology to attract businesses and improve the lives of its citizens. Both Nairobi and Cape Town look at Singapore as a role model for the city of the future.

What Africa can Expect from the US in Foreign Policy

In the wake of controversial picks for Trump’s cabinet, the spotlight turns to his appointed choice for Secretary of State, the highest diplomatic rank in the United States government. After a brief interlude with Mitt Romney, which would certainly be a favourite pick among Republicans, Donald Trump showed that he would continue with his anti-establishment agenda and decided instead to recommend Rex Tillerson for the role.

Rex Tillerson is an experienced executive of the Oil and Gas industry, with 41 years working in ExxonMobil. Tillerson ascended to become the company’s chairman and CEO in 2006, roles that he occupied until the end of 2016 when he finally left the company. He was nominated US Secretary of State on early February.

However, more than one month into the role, a large number of vacancies in the US State Department are still to be filled. Adding this to the isolationist rhetoric Trump has preaching and to the recent proposed cut in funding to the State Department make one think that American foreign affairs will not be a top priority in the Trump presidency.

Unleashing Zimbabwe’s tourism potential

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in Southeast Africa, bordered by Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. The country has a population of over 15 million people, from which around 2.8 million people live in the metropolitan area around its capital, Harare.

International tourism accounted for 20.3% of Zimbabwe’s exports in 2014 and generated a revenue of US$ 827 million to the country. The Victoria Falls and the Zambezi river account as the most sought-after sight-seeing places by the tourists visiting the country.

Although Zimbabwe holds unmatched natural beauties, the sector accounts for only a small portion of the country’s GDP.

Improving the laws to attract foreign investment, fostering private-public partnerships in hospitality and largely invest in the marketing of the Zimbabwean brand in the international market could be the first steps that will make the tourism sector gain more traction in the country.

Trump Effect on the African Oil

After the shock post November 8th with the results of the American presidential election, the world started studying what a Trump presidency in the USA would mean to the international markets and geopolitical environment. Africa is one of the largest exporters of raw commodities to the USA and will certainly experience changes in the trading dynamics with the world power once Donald Trump assumes his place in the White House, on 20 January 2017.

Among the raw products Africa exports, crude oil has a prominent place. The continent’s oil exporters had the USA as its largest buyer of the product until quite recently. In 2005, the USA imported 1.8 million barrels per day of crude oil from Sub-Saharan African countries. This figure remained fairly constant until 2010 when the USA’s domestic production of the commodity reached historically high levels.

By 2015, the USA was importing only 274 thousand barrels per day from Sub-Saharan Africa. The high revenues countries such as Nigeria and Angola extracted from oil, started to dry up. Could a Trump administration possibly revert this trend and propel the USA to buy more of the African crude oil once again?

Brief on the Education Sector across Africa

Education is the central piece that propels economic growth. A country can be rich in natural resources, but if its population lacks education, it will continue to be poor and dependent on foreign help. Singapore is probably the best example of this statement: a city-state, with no natural resources, but ranking 3rd as the largest GDP per capita in the world, according to the IMF. This achievement would never have been reached if education had not spread throughout all the socio-economic layers of its population since the country’s independence in 1965.
Moving from Singapore to the countries in Africa, the gap in education is staggering. This article will present a picture of the state of education in the continent of Africa and how it is placed in a global context.

The Middle Class in Africa: Fact or Fiction?

“The most perfect political community is one in which the middle class is in control, and outnumbers both of the other classes.”

This quote from Aristotle could not be more true in our modern society. A society with a strong middle class and a small gap between rich and poor is more likely to experience economic growth. Inequality negatively affects societies because the poor are less able to invest in their education, are more likely to suffer poor health and, as a result, will have lower productivity.

On the other hand, according to controversial former American Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, the very rich do not spend or generate jobs proportionally to their wealth. The wheel of economy does not spin because of the poor or the rich, it turns on the strength of the middle class.

Singapore bets in Africa’s Agricultural Sector

With more than 60% of its 1.166 billion people living in rural areas, Africa’s economy is inherently dependent on agriculture. More than 32% of the continent’s gross domestic product comes from the sector. However, agricultural productivity still remains far from developed world standards. Over 90% of agriculture depends on rainfall, with no artificial irrigation aid. The techniques used to cultivate the soil are still far behind from what has been adopted in Asia and Americas, lacking not only irrigation, but also fertilizers, pesticides and access to high yield seeds. Agriculture in Africa also experiences basic infrastructural problems such as access to markets and financing.

Singapore is proving to be an engaged ally in the process of changing this reality. Some big players in the agricultural sector with their headquarters in Singapore are investing heavily in Africa. Technology and skills are being transferred to smallholder farmers and the large scale producers are cooperating, playing a fair game that will help develop the sector and make it more sustainable. Singapore is also investing through private equity in local farmland and through investment in portfolio companies based in Africa with focus on agriculture.