Monday, August 24, 2009

Why is Africa poor? Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed

Quote of the Day
"Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed." - President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, 2009.

The following report also tells us that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says she underestimated the problem of graft.

From BBC News, Monday, 24 August 2009:
Why is the African continent poor?
By Mark Doyle, BBC world affairs correspondent
The desolate, dusty town of Pibor on South Sudan's border with Ethiopia has no running water, no electricity and little but mud huts for the population to live in.

You would be hard put to find a poorer place anywhere on earth.

I went there as part of a journey across Africa to ask the question "Why is Africa poor?" for a BBC radio documentary series.

I was asked to investigate why it is that every single African country - with the exceptions of oil-rich Gabon and Algeria - is classified by the United Nations as having a "low" broadly defined Human Development Index - in other words an appalling standard of living for most of the people.

In Pibor, the answer to why the place is poor seems fairly obvious.

The people - most of whom are from the Murle ethnic group - are crippled by tribal conflicts related to disputes over cattle, the traditional store of wealth in South Sudan.

The Murle have recently had fights with the Lol Nuer group to the north of Pibor and with ethnic Bor Dinkas to the west.

In a spate of fighting with the Lol Nuer earlier this year several hundred people, many of them women and children, were killed in deliberate attacks on villages.

There has been a rash of similar clashes across South Sudan in the past year (although most were on a smaller scale than the fights between the Lol Nuer and the Murle).

And so the answer to why South Sudan is poor is surely a no-brainer: War makes you destitute.

Why is there so much war?

And yet South Sudan is potentially rich.

"It's bigger than Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi combined," the South Sudan Regional Co-operation Minister Barnaba Benjamin, enthused.

"Tremendous land! Very fertile, enormous rainfall, tremendous agricultural resources. Minerals! We have oil and many other minerals - go name it!"

The paradox of rich resources and poor people hints at another layer of explanation about why Africa is poor.

It is not just that there is war. The question should, perhaps be: "Why is there so much war?"

And the headline question is in fact misleading; Africans as a people may be poor, but Africa as a place is fantastically rich - in minerals, land, labour and sunshine.

That is why outsiders have been coming here for hundreds of years - to invade, occupy, convert, plunder and trade.

But the resources of South Sudan, for example, have never been properly developed.

During colonial rule South Sudan was used as little more than a reservoir of labour and raw materials.

Then independence was followed by 50 years of on-off war between the south and north - with northerners in Khartoum continuing the British tactic of divide and rule among the southern groups.

Some southerners believe this is still happening today.


On my journey across the poorest, sub-Saharan swathe of the continent - that took in Liberia and Nigeria in the west, Sudan in the centre, and Kenya in the east - people explored the impact that both non-Africans and Africans had had on why Africa is poor.

Almost every African I met, who was not actually in government, blamed corrupt African leaders for their plight.

"The gap between the rich and the poor in Africa is still growing," said a fisherman on the shores of Lake Victoria.

"Our leaders, they just want to keep on being rich. And they don't want to pay taxes."

Even President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia came close to this when she told me she had underestimated the level of corruption in her country when she took office.

"Maybe I should have sacked the whole government when I came to power," she said.

"Africa is not poor," President Johnson-Sirleaf added, "it is poorly managed."

This theme was echoed by an architect in Kenya and a senior government official in Nigeria.

Both pointed out that the informal sector of most African economies is huge and almost completely unharnessed.

Marketplaces, and a million little lean-to repair shops and small-scale factories are what most urban Africans rely upon for a living.

But such is their distrust of government officials that most businesspeople in the informal sector avoid all contact with the authorities.

Kenyan architect and town planner Mumo Museva took me to the bustling Eastleigh area of Nairobi, where traders have created a booming economy despite the place being almost completely abandoned by the government.

Eastleigh is a filthy part of the city where rubbish lies uncollected, the potholes in the roads are the size of swimming pools, and the drains have collapsed.

But one indication of the success of the traders, Mr Museva said, was the high per-square-foot rents there.

"You'll be surprised to note that Eastleigh is the most expensive real estate in Nairobi."

He added that if Eastleigh traders trusted the government they might pay some taxes in return for decent services, so creating a "virtuous circle".

"It would lift people out of poverty," he said.

"Remember, poverty is related to quality of life, and the quality of life here is appalling, despite the huge amount of wealth flowing through these areas."

Then the young Kenyan architect echoed the Liberian president, some 5,000km (3,000 miles) away on the other side of the continent.

"Africa is not poor," he also said.

"Africa is just poorly managed."
See blog: Why is Africa poor? Have Your Say

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Prendergast's ENOUGH Project: Poker players Ante Up for Africa charity - Sudan, Uganda, Congo, Chad, and Somalia

Posted to YouTube by ENOUGH - Ante Up for Africa, June 25, 2008:
ENOUGH is the project to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Focusing on the crises in Sudan, Uganda, Congo, Chad, and Somalia, ENOUGH uses a 3Ps crisis response strategy: promoting peace, protecting civilians, and punishing the perpetrators.

This year ENOUGH again joined the benefit poker tournament Ante Up for Africa, hosted by Don Cheadle and Annie Duke.
To learn what you can do to join the fight against genocide, go to ENOUGH.

© Center for American Progress
Category: Nonprofits & Activism
Tags: Cheadle Prendergast genocide Sudan Khartoum Uganda Somalia ICC advocacy Gayle Smith Africa war ENOUGH Ante Up Poker charity benefit Hollywood
- - -

From Thursday, 13 August 2009 by Bruce:
Full Tilt Poker's "Ante up for Africa" Charity Tournament
As part of Full Tilt Poker's FTOPS XIII online poker series, they are holding a special charity poker tournament known as "Ante up for Africa". The tournament will be held at 3 p.m. on August 15th [2009], and it will raise money for the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The tournament will be hosted by actor and avid poker player Don Cheadle. The buy in for the tournament will be $100+20. The twenty dollar tournament fee will be donated to the charity. This charity tournament will be part of the FTOPS VIII online poker championships, which will feature more than $16 million in prize money over various tournaments. The last of the tournaments is known as the main event, and it will be held on August 16th with a massive guaranteed prize pool of $2.5 million.

Back in 2007, Cheadle co founded an Ante up for Africa Poker Tournament with Norman Epstein and Annie Duke. At the recent 2009 World Series of Poker, the third annual Ante up for Africa charity tournament was held. The tournament attracted some of the top celebrities from both poker and entertainment. Some of the stars in attendance were actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and they were joined by poker pros Erick Seidel and Jennifer Harmon. The tournament had a $5,000 entry fee, and the players were asked to donate 50% of their winnings to the charity. When the tournament was complete, over $600,000 was raised. Since the Ante up for Africa charity was formed a few years back, over $2 million dollars has been raised. The funds have been distributed to organizations such as "Not on Our Watch", "Enough Project", and "International Rescue Committee". The upcoming online charity tournament will help raise even more money for such a good cause.

The FTOPS XIII charity tournament will take place on a Saturday afternoon giving most players the opportunity to play and help raise money for a good cause. Even though the tournament is designed to raise money for the Ante up for Africa charity, there is plenty of money to be won as well. The tournament will have a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool, with the winner guaranteed to walk away with at least $22,500. Players can take that their shot at winning some serious cash, while raising money for a great organization. Along with the chance to play with many well known poker professionals, players who play in the tournament will also get to play alongside celebrities such as Matt Damon. This will be another opportunity for poker players to help raise money for the ongoing crisis in Darfur.

To discuss this and other Poker articles like it drop by our brand new forum at:
- - -

From Wednesday, 12 August 2009 by Elaine Chaivarlis:
2009 WSOP Ante Up for Africa Recap
ESPN’s third week of 2009 WSOP coverage aired last night with the Ante Up for Africa event. Dozens of celebrities and poker pros showed up for this event. This was the first time that Ante Up for Africa was aired on television.

The event had a $5,000 buy-in and attracted 137 players. The total prize pool generated for the event was $665,820. It was suggested that players donate 50% of their winnings to the charity.

Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Sarah Silverman, Montel Williams, Nelly, Cedric the Entertainer, Herschel Walker, and Charles Barkley were among the notable celebrities at the event. Several poker pros played the event as well, including Annie Duke, Jennifer Harman, Howard Lederer, Mike Matusow, Peter Eastgate, and Dennis Phillips.

Let’s face it, there weren’t a lot of stellar players, or plays in this event, as the event was created more as a fun way to raise money and awareness for the Darfur region.

Charles Barkley and Herschel Walker were two celebrities that might be able to benefit a little from the PokerNews strategy section. They both made this event entertaining to watch with their interesting plays. In one hand, where he rivered trip queens, Walker doesn't even know what the minimum bet is, but was happy with the face time he got from his hollywooding. Charles Barkley got it all in post flop when he flopped a flush draw with his . He never got there and was eliminated.

Mike McDermott (or Matt Damon, whatever you like to call him) ended up at the feature table sitting next to Erik Seidel. This is significant, only in that because of the movie Rounders, Erik Seidel's second place finish to Johnny Chan in the 1988 WSOP has been seen millions of times. So maybe Seidel had it out for Damon a little. Damon, like every other celebrity in this event, didn't make it to the final table. Wonder what happened to all those tells he used to pick up on.

The final table was, not surprisingly, packed with poker pros. Jennifer Harman, Matt Kay, John Hennigan, Phil Gordon, Chris Ferguson, Erik Seidel, Rafe Furst, Adam Richardson, and Alex Bolotin all made the final table of the Ante Up for Africa event. Five of the players at the table, Harman, Hennigan, Ferguson, Seidel, and Furst hold a combined 18 WSOP bracelets.

With the super fast structure, the final table saw its players drop rather quickly with Adam Richardson all but out the door at one point when he was all in and went runner runner clubs to stay alive. Richardson ended up going heads up against the eventual winner, Alex Bolotin, who won $176,449 for his first place finish.

There have been numerous opinions about whether or not there should have been more events from the 2009 WSOP aired on television. We're sure the minds over at ESPN had a reason for the lack of other coverage. We're not sure, however, if this will be the trend next year. What we can say is, in regards to this event, people watch what their favorite celebrities are doing, and if their favorite celebrity is playing poker, then they’re watching them play poker, bringing a more mainstream audience to the game, and that much we like. No matter what the broadcast schedule is next year, we definitely hope this event will be in the mix.

Be sure to tune into ESPN every Tuesday night for continuing coverage of the WSOP, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter.
Good luck to all.


ENOUGH was conceived in 2006 by a small group of concerned policymakers and activists who wanted to transform their frustration about inaction into pragmatic solutions and hope. Co-founded by Africa experts Gayle Smith and John Prendergast, ENOUGH launched in early 2007 as a project of the Center for American Progress. John Norris is Enough’s Executive Director. Read more about ENOUGH at

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CECAFA U-17 football tournament: Ethiopia v Zanzibar (Juba, S. Sudan, 2.30pm on 19 Aug 2009)

From Pana via Afrique en ligne, Wednesday, 12 August 2009:
Fixtures of Cecafa youth football tournament in Sudan
(Kenya) - Below are the fixtures for this month's Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) championships taking place in Sudan.

The regional event, known as the Cecafa U-17 tournament, is slated for 19-31 August in three Sudanese cities - Khartoum, Juba and Medani. It is being sponsored by Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir to the tune of US$ 700,000.

Aug. 19 - Ethiopia v Zanzibar (Juba 2.30pm); Kenya v Uganda (Juba 4.30pm).

Aug. 20 - Somalia v Nigeria (Khartoum 5.30pm); Sudan v Tanzania (Khartoum 9.30pm )

Aug. 21 - Zanzibar v Kenya (Juba 2.30pm); Uganda v Ethiopia (Juba 4.30pm).

Aug. 22 - Nigeria v Tanzania (Khartoum 5.30pm); Somalia v Sudan (Khartoum 9.30pm ),

Aug. 22 - Eritrea v Rwanda (Medani 5.30pm); Egypt v Burundi (Medani 9.30pm).

Aug. 23 - Kenya v Ethiopia (Juba 2.30pm); Zanzibar v Uganda (Juba 4.30pm).

Aug. 24 - Tanzania v Somalia (Khartoum 5.30pm); Sudan v Nigeria (Khartoum 9.30pm ).

Aug. 24 - Rwanda v Burundi (Medani 5.30pm); Eritrea v Egypt (Medani 9.30pm).

Aug. 25 - Rest Day.

Aug. 26 & 27 - Quarter finals

Aug. 28 & 29 - Semi finals (Khartoum).

Aug. 30 - Rest Day.

Aug. 31 - Third place play offs/Finals (Khartoum).
Cross posted from Sudan Watch on Wednesday 12 August 2009: Fixtures of CECAFA U-17 football tournament in Sudan 19-31 Aug 2009

Click on labels here below for related reports and updates.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Microfinancing: Launch of new Mobile Money Transfer Directory will focus on Sub-Sahara Africa

A new Mobile Money Transfer Directory at launches in 2 wks focus on Sub-Saharan Africa (by @CreditSMS)

Source: White African Erik Hersman via Twitter 04 Aug. 2009
- - -

Snippets from CreditSMS website:
In December 2009, CreditSMS will launch several pilots throughout Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Additional pilot requests have been submitted for Kenya, Sudan, and Sierra Leone. Uganda and DRC have 87% and 66% rural populations respectively, constituting a nascent market of as many as 76 million potential clients and consumers. By enabling MFIs [microfinance institutions] to reach and meet the demands of this market, CreditSMS will facilitate a form of 'bubble up' development whereby the income of microloan recipients will increase and the price of newly-available goods and services will trend toward market equilibrium. All pilot results will be made free and accessible via as they become available.
- - -

The Beginning...
By Ben Lyon
Published: July 14, 2009

Formal banks were hesitant to give "the bottom billion" loans because they didn't have collateral. Today, microfinance institutions (MFIs) fill that void by providing collateral-free loans to micro-entrepreneurs. In order to compete with traditional moneylenders, however, those MFIs had to charge exorbitant interest rates, mostly to absorb the high transport cost of making weekly visits to rural areas to collect loan repayments. With teledensity penetration and mobile commerce growing faster by the day, one has to wonder: why are loan officers still making the trip? Read More...
- - -

Increasing revenue and impact through technology
By Ben Lyon
Published: July 22, 2009
[article written for Project Diaspora]

Aaron Ewedafe wakes up every morning at least one hour before the sun rises. Donning his satchel full of client records and repayment schedules, he hails the nearest okada driver and races into the surrounding countryside to begin a long day of loan group meetings. The trip from headquarters in Oshogbo to the village of Ojudo and back can take all day. Aaron rarely makes it home before nightfall. Altogether, Aaron spends 112 hours and 5,000 naira a week to manage 350 microloan recipients. His profit is negligible. Read More...
- - -

The 'Phone as Cow' Model
By Ben Lyon
Published: August 1, 2009

Mobile phones are quickly becoming the hottest topic in development. Everyday, waves of new innovations are rolled out to connect 'bottom of the pyramid' (BOP) entrepreneurs to markets and information. But many advocates and implementers seem to neglect a fundamental question: What good are mobile innovations if BOP entrepreneurs can't afford handsets? According to Iqbal Quadir of Grameenphone, the answer is to issue the handset as the first microloan. Read More...
- - -

Follow Credit SMS on Twitter

Check out Mobile Money Africa - Africa's leading online resource for mobile financial inclusion:

Labels: , ,