>Africa Report x 2

> Today, I came across two interesting Africa Reports that I wante to share with you.

AR#1. The African Commission’s Final Report.

The African Commission , set up by the Danish government last year, is a high level group wanting to bring light to Africa’s opportunities and add new strategies to the development cooperation. I wonder if Dembisa Moyo that I wrote about last week thinks they succeeded.

Anyways, the group of really distinguished Africans and others includes Nigerias former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who I wrote about here and the Commission presents its recipy for development as follows: (this is the quick version, the 90-page report can be downloaded in pdf here).

1. The creation of an African Guarantee Fund in partnership with the African Development Bank aimed mobilizing loans for three billion USD and reducing the cost of access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, SME’s. Africa’s SME’s provide 80 percent of output and jobs in Africa;

2. Ensuring access to energy at the local level by launching a new initiative in partnership with the EU and the African Development Bank. More than three-quarters of Africans lack access to electricity – a major constraint to economic development, doing business and standards of living;

3. Improving the business climate and Africa’s competitive edge by making sure that the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report covers all African countries. More than that, the Commission will work with a range of Africa-based entities to ensure that the findings of this benchmarking process is followed-up by the development of detailed policy responses and concrete reforms;

4. Unleashing the power of African entrepreneurship, both in start-up and existing enterprises, by providing advisory services and access to finance in order to allow young people to translate their good ideas into practical plans. The initiative will be implemented in partnership with the ILO and Youth Employment Network (a partnership between the UN, ILO and World Bank). It is expected that this initiative alone will create 40,000 new jobs and 20,000 new businesses;

5. Supporting higher education and research. Specifically, the initiative will increase the quantity and quality of artisans through apprenticeships, especially in the rural areas. Also, it will link tertiary research and business practices especially to expanding agricultural output.

I like how the Commission acknowledges the lack of electricity and how that is a basic problem in Africa (see what I wrote on it here). Also education is key, of course for development and currently the future for the African academy looks rather bleak. Just as in the north, links with research and businesses need to be improved. So, far I agree.

However, I am more sceptical towards yet another fund, the African Guarantee fund – I think many times it is information and reporting that is scarce – not a complete lack of money. And then sometimes I think the people in those high level meetings overstate the influence of their instruments. I mean, can the “World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report” really improve the business climate in Africa?

What do you think?

AR#2 Magazine The Africa Report.

I picked up a copy of this mag I haven’t seen before. I am a huge fan of news magazines like Focus on Africa and The Economist and today I found one that can compete.

In this mag, I liked the topics and the rich ways of describing current issues in Africa. I have studied it now for about 45 minutes, but is nowhere near done. I like that type of publication density.

The current issue of The Africa Report gave a very illuminating report of Mills’ first 100 days in power and came with an interesting economic report-booklet of Cote D’Ivoire.

I guess that makes it three Africa reports today…

In the top pic Africa’s future on the beach in Kromantse, Central Region, Ghana.

>Dead Aid Debate II: Interview with Moyo

>Radio journalist Dave Lucas sent me this link to an interview with Dembisa Moyo in where she gets to explain her argument. She is well-spoken and lays out her arguments clearly. A man from Nigeria also voices his critique against the book and interestingly also talks about how to reverse the brain-drain out of Africa which I have touched on in these posts. Moyo then replies to the critique.

The interview is a 12 minutes I recommend to everyone interested in the aid-debate.

>Employment in Ghana

> I thought I should share some local job opportunities. Even if I am not looking, I belong to a generation who likes to know the options…

I am on a few mailing lists, and recently a couple of interesting jobs caught my attention. Firstly, African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) is looking for new staff. They are searching for experienced policy experts, but also HR and some other research staff and interestingly offering “competitive international remuneration packages”. More on the organization and the job openings here.

Some of my information I get through the International Development Jobs Newsletter, which lists all kinds of jobs all over the world in the “development industry”. To subscribe visit their webpage. Other jobs come though the site/newsletter Find A Job in Africa.

Last, but not least, there is also the Ghanaian site Jobs in Ghana which lists all kinds of jobs, currently themselves are also hiring.

>Prof Mills Now Prez Mills

> So, finally we have a new president. In the run off on the 28th of December, NDC won with the slimmest margin ever in Ghanaian political history, 50.23 %. John Atta Mills, also called Prof since he is a professor, mostly researching taxation law, will be inaugurated tomorrow as Ghana’s new president.

Mills is a true academic with some 25 years in teaching at University of Ghana and other universities abroad. His PhD was completed at School of Oriental and African Studies in London. We’ll see if he will use his in depth knowledge in taxation issues in the four years to come. And if his nick-name Prof will stay, or if it will be changed for Prez.

Before the elections, I wrote a column on the Ghana elections for the Swedish social democratic newspaper Aktuellt i Politiken here (unfortunately only in Swedish).

In the pic John Atta Mills, pic borrowed from republicoftogo.com

>The Academic Future of Africa

> I have spent a few days at The University Leaders’ Forum 08, organized by Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) in collaboration with University of Ghana. It was a conference around the topic of the New Generation of Academics.

Because of the emergence of a global knowledge society, enrollment rates world wide are increasing, in Africa even more so, putting pressure on the aging group of university lecturers and highlighting the need for new blood. At the same time, young well educated people move abroad in search of better opportunities, hence increasing the pressure on those remaining.

Even if the enrollment rates are increasing, its not enough. Many drop out, many more do not have access to tertiary education and finally very few become university lecturers in Africa. The consequences are two; there will not be enough teachers to educate the new generation, even at lower levels. Additionally, with a low output of tertiary graduates, Africa will be left behind in the knowledge economy.

My research looking at why Ghanaian students migrate (or don’t) was a perfect fit for the conference. I was the most junior participant and enjoyed the discussions and academic input. It was highly rewarding to meet with Vice-Chancellors from the whole continent, researchers whose works I’ve read and foreign founders who work relentlessly to change the academic environment in Africa, but will the change come from them?

The map from Worldmapper.org shows the territory size by world wide proportion of people enrolled in tertiary education, who live there. Thanks to the VC of University of Western Cape, Brian O’Connell for pointing me to this effective visualizing aid.

>Moringa Miracles

> A friend here in Ghana told me about the many healthy effects of the moringa tree (“benzolive” in French, “drumstick tree” in English) some time ago. I had never heard of it, but through a little research online I now know my friend was right to sprinkle dried moringa leaves on her kids’ food.

It contains vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3 and C) as well as calcium and potassium. But the miracle is it also contains complete proteins, which few plants do. Another example is the soy bean, but moringa is much richer in protein! According to Trees for Life an organization promoting the use of Moringa to combat hunger, the leaves also prevent various diseases. Download Trees for Life’s interesing PDF on possible uses of Moringa here.

You simply eat the fresh or dried leaves with your food or brew tea out of it.

The Moringa tree grows in tropical areas and the fast growing tree requires little water and no particular soil. It’s leaves can be fed to animals, a meal made from the seeds can purify water and be used to produce bio fuels!

On my way home from work I always pass a little shed with a “Moringa is sold here” sign (opposite the Shell station at the end of the Tema motorway leading towards Achimota). I always used to wonder, what IS Moringa anyway? Now I know.

Pic of the moringa leaf from Trees for Life

>Important Vacation

> In three short weeks I had time to meet up with a bunch of friends and family members, eat “sill” and “kräftor”, take walks on the beach and talk, talk, talk in Swedish. It is extremely important to reconnect with your base as an expatriate. This I’ve learned from among other aliens Agneta Nilsson, founder of the SWEA. She is able to live in two worlds (LA and Sweden) by sustaining her contacts in Sweden even though she lives in the US since many years.

I feel better grounded now somehow, I know my friends still care for me even though I moved away and a further reassurance was the gut feeling that came to me already when I walked to the gate for the Accra flight last Sunday – it is clear that Ghana is my home now.

My lovely vacation is hereby over and there are a lot of things to sink my teeth into back in Ghana. Among others a slow launch of the website aponkye.com, a new go at my migration research proposal and a Ghana bloggers meet up on Thursday.

>Inspiring People

> An inspiring person, just one, can change your whole outlook on life. When you see someone talk with that sparkle in their eye, work hard and deliver the most amazing outcomes and move around life as if the situation was custom made for him or her – then I want to do the same. My interest in my surroundings, work morale and heck – even joy of being alive – gets a boost.

Some inspiring people that has crossed my lucky path recently here in Ghana are June Arunga, a young Kenyan woman who works in the IT industry here in Ghana, gives globalization speeches and have traveled the continent in the TV program The Devil’s Footpath. She is fast and fun and a person I am just getting to know (including her inspiring book shelf, thanks June!).

Michael Boampong is youth activist and founder of the NGO Young People We Care and one of the 40 most active in Taking IT Global, an online community which seeks to inspire, involve and inform young people. I have not had the opportunity to meet with him yet, but through Internet I know of him and maybe he soon knows of me as well! (all this also inspiring, isn’t it?)

I sat down with Nii Mantse just last week who is the editor of Jive, a magazine covering entertainment in Ghana. He has also worked in TV production, for instance with Studio 53 which covers Africas 53 nations, but also with Ghanaian television. We spoke about what matters at work, what young people like to do in Accra and an hour flew by.

All these three people have that energy/drive/sparkle in their eye that inspires me.

Migration Research Update: June has also done a documentary on why the educated youth leaves the continent called “Africa’s Ultimate Resource” and Michel wants to be a “migration expert” in the future. I think I need to talk to both of them in preparation for my upcoming migration studies.

In the pic the Ghanaian fertility symbol Akuaba to illustrate the mind fertilization and inspiration in this post.

>Swedish Summer in Ghana

> But you always have summer in Ghana? Temperature wise, maybe. But real summer in Ghana is totally correlated with summer in Sweden. I have some examples:

Today, I am listening to the Swedish Radio program series “Sommar” as pod radio. Every summer famous people, it can be astronauts, politicians, entertainers or an interesting entrepreneur get the chance to talk about anything they want (often themselves) and play their favorite music for 1,5 hours on national radio. Here in Ghana, I have downloaded my favorites – mostly authors – and plan to listen to them just as I did when living in Sweden.

Also, Swedish Midsummer celebrations have passed in company with Swedish friends here in Ghana. It was a wonderful event, pickled herring (sill) has never tasted so good.

This week is the annual “Politicians’ Week” in my hometown Visby, an event I love because of its wonderful meet-and-greet opportunities. Everybody in Swedish politics, media and lobbying are there. Probably right now drinking rosé wine in the sunset. All of it I can follow though news and blogs. With a glass of wine, its almost as if I am there (although over here the wine isn’t free).

Personally, I have probably never been happier. Ghana is such an interesting society. Everyday I learn new things. I have an exciting job, good prospects of starting my PhD in the fall, a happy marriage, beautiful home (and plans of moving to a better one). I have cool friends and I speak to a family member almost every day on phone.

Still, I just long for the day when I can book my ticket to go to Sweden for vacation. It will definitely be during summer.

Longing for home is a demon.

Picture from the Swedish Midsummer in Ghana. Absolut Vodka and hibiscus.

>Getting to Know My Readers

> Away from home, I have found that having Swedish friends is crucial for my well-being. To be able to fully express myself, to have fika with everybody involved understanding the concept, for a while coming down on Ghana instead of always siding with things that go on here. Those moments feel like breathing in the chilly air of Swedish autumn, Ahhhh.

Then imagine my sadness when my two Swedish companions A and J left for Sweden last week. A whole year, these two have been my confidents, my close friends and obvious plannning mates for midsummer and xmas (ok, thats not quite true, for xmas they eloped to Mali and I had herring and potato all by myself, but you get what I’m saying?)

And now it is just me and the scolding sun, thousand pairs of curious eyes and noone to share a good cup of coffee with. Until…

…I got a comment on my blog from Maya. A Swede living less than 10 minutes from me here in Tema. Hurray! We are to meet up for the first time this weekend.

And then S called. S is a Swede living in London with her Ghanaian husband and we have been in touch since a couple of months. S found my blog when researching their idea to relocate to Ghana. I invited the Ghanaian-Swedish couple over for dinner on Thursday!

So thanks to this very blog I am getting to know my (Swedish) readers, and I don’t have to feel so terribly lonely.

In the pic: Like Gulder and Star, J and I. Will miss you!

>December in Dakar

An event I really wish I hadn’t missed was the African Gender Awards 2007, held this past December in Dakar, Senegal. The award is organized by the organization Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS) and was this year given to Rwanda and its president Paul Kagame for the efforts of bringing women into national desicion making. Rwanda has currently 48% women in its parliament.

The forum attatched to the award ceremony had the theme “African Women for African Development: Building Partnerships with the Diaspora” and the issues discussed were very close to issues I’d like to include in my research like “Migration and the changing genderroles” and “Curbing emigration: What steps can Africa take to better train and retain its human resources?”

Now I just have to console myself with that some of the documents used for discussion are available online, and that maybe in 2009 I can join the Femmes Africa Solidarité somewhere else on this beautiful continent.

In the picture the statuette of the Award inspired by the African woman Nandi. A film on her talking to her daughter about the future of the continent can be seen here.

>Destination Unknown

>Last week I attended the graduation ceremony for University of Ghana where graduates from the student body of 27 000 was awarded their diplomas. The sun was shining over bright smiles as they one by one were called to the podium to be recognized. But after accepting the diploma, what happens to the graduates?

The research project I am about to start will investigate what people do leave Ghana for supposedly greener pastures abroad and what groups stay. For instance if half of the medical doctors trained in Ghana leaves for Europe and US, why do the rest stay? These days I am collecting and reading articles on the subject and spending time thinking about how to narrow my topic down. Will I focus on groups of university graduates and look at how migration patterns differ between the sexes? Or will I look at other groups too since the educated group is relatively small – although influential on the country’s development? What sectors should I choose? Will I compare the situation in Ghana to another African country? The destination is unknown both for me and for my fellow students in Ghana.