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Harnessing the Power of African Influencers for Development (AI4Dev)

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In the dynamic landscape of global development, Africa stands at the crossroads of innovation and progress. Amidst its diverse tapestry of cultures, languages, and landscapes lies a burgeoning force driving change: African Influencers for Development, or AI4Dev. This collective of individuals represents a new wave of advocacy, harnessing the power of digital platforms to propel social and economic advancement across the continent.

At its core, AI4Dev embodies the spirit of grassroots mobilization, leveraging technology to amplify voices and catalyze action. From entrepreneurs pioneering sustainable solutions to activists championing social justice, these influencers wield influence not merely for personal gain, but for the collective upliftment of communities.

One of the defining features of AI4Dev is its decentralization. Unlike traditional top-down approaches to development, these influencers operate from within their communities, intimately understanding local needs and realities. Whether through YouTube channels, Instagram stories, or Twitter threads, they bridge the gap between policymakers and the populace, advocating for inclusive policies and holding leaders accountable.

To Drive Sustainable Development From Within

Moreover, AI4Dev embodies diversity in its truest sense. From the bustling streets of Lagos to the remote villages of Malawi, influencers from all walks of life are united by a common goal: to drive sustainable development from within. This diversity not only enriches the discourse but also ensures that solutions are contextually relevant and inclusive.

Education lies at the heart of AI4Dev’s mission. Recognizing that knowledge is the cornerstone of progress, influencers utilize their platforms to disseminate information and foster dialogue. Whether it’s tutorials on agricultural techniques or discussions on climate change adaptation, they empower individuals to take ownership of their futures, equipping them with the tools to thrive in an ever-changing world.

AI4Dev is not merely a digital movement; it’s a catalyst for tangible change on the ground. By leveraging their networks, influencers mobilize resources and galvanize support for community-led initiatives. Whether it’s crowdfunding for a local school or organizing clean-up drives, they exemplify the power of collective action in driving sustainable development.

Access to Technology, Censorship, Digital Divides… A Lot of Obstacles

In a continent where women often face systemic barriers to participation, AI4Dev stands as a beacon of gender equality. Female influencers play a pivotal role in shaping narratives and driving change, challenging stereotypes and breaking down barriers. From advocating for girls’ education to championing reproductive rights, they are at the forefront of the fight for gender equality and empowerment.

However, AI4Dev is not without its challenges. Limited access to technology, censorship, and digital divides pose significant obstacles to its reach and impact. Moreover, navigating the ethical complexities of influence and representation requires a delicate balance between authenticity and responsibility.

Despite these challenges, the potential of AI4Dev to drive transformative change is undeniable. As Africa continues to navigate the complexities of development in the 21st century, the collective power of its influencers serves as a potent force for progress. By harnessing the power of digital platforms, fostering inclusive dialogue, and driving community-led initiatives, AI4Dev is reshaping the narrative of development from within, one post, one tweet, one action at a time.

Photos : undp.org and twimg.com

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Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak : To Shift Towards a More Sustainable and Equitable Planet

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Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak is a figure whose career is emblematic of contemporary environmental leadership, combining deep passion with a pragmatic approach to conservation and sustainability.
 
Born and raised in the United Arab Emirates, a country known for its rapid modernization and rich natural ecosystems, Al Mubarak has been deeply influenced by the juxtaposition of progress and preservation. Her educational background, including studies abroad, equipped her with a global perspective on environmental challenges and solutions, setting the stage for her eventual return to the UAE to spearhead its conservation efforts.
 
Al Mubarak’s nomination as the Director General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) marked a significant milestone in her career and the agency’s history. Under her leadership, the EAD has embarked on ambitious projects aimed at protecting the emirate’s biodiversity, addressing climate change, and promoting sustainable development. Her appointment to this critical role reflects not only her expertise and commitment to environmental stewardship but also the UAE’s broader commitment to elevating women to leadership positions in sectors traditionally dominated by men.
 
One of the core missions of Al Mubarak’s tenure at EAD has been to reconcile economic development with environmental sustainability. Abu Dhabi, as part of the oil-rich UAE, faces unique challenges in balancing its economic backbone with the need to preserve its natural heritage and mitigate climate impacts. Al Mubarak has navigated these waters by promoting innovative conservation projects, such as the reintroduction of native species and the establishment of protected marine and terrestrial areas. She has also been a vocal advocate for renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions, aligning with the UAE’s vision to diversify its energy sources.

Successes and Controversies

Her successes are numerous and varied, ranging from tangible conservation victories, such as the significant increase in the population of the once-endangered Arabian Oryx, to strategic achievements like enhancing Abu Dhabi’s international environmental reputation. These successes underscore her ability to leverage her role for broad, impactful environmental gains.

Al Mubarak’s career has not been without controversy, a common trait among those leading change in complex fields. Her initiatives, especially those pushing for significant shifts in policy or practice, have sometimes faced resistance from traditional sectors accustomed to the status quo. However, her approach—grounded in science, diplomacy, and a genuine dialogue with all stakeholders—has often turned skepticism into collaboration.

Challenges remain, as with any leadership position in a field as dynamic and urgent as environmental conservation. Climate change, habitat loss, and biodiversity decline are global issues that require local actions to be effectively addressed. Al Mubarak’s perspective, shaped by her years of experience and the unique position of Abu Dhabi within the global environmental context, remains focused on innovation, collaboration, and a steadfast belief in the possibility of positive change.

Razan Al Mubarak’s biography is not just a testament to her personal achievements but also a reflection of the evolving role of leadership in environmental conservation. Her journey from a passionate student of the environment to the Director General of the EAD encapsulates a broader narrative of progress, challenge, and hope for a sustainable future. Through her work, Al Mubarak continues to inspire not just immediate action but a generational shift towards a more sustainable and equitable planet.

Photos : razanalmubarak.com

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Masoud Kipanya : From a Cartoonist to an EV Manufacturer

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Masoud Kipanya is a name synonymous with versatility and innovation in Tanzania. Born into the vibrant culture of East Africa, Kipanya has carved a niche for himself across various sectors, including media, fashion, and now, the burgeoning field of electric vehicle manufacturing. This 500-word article delves into his life, career, and the recent challenges he has encountered as he ventures into uncharted territories.

Masoud Kipanya began his career as a cartoonist, quickly gaining notoriety for his sharp wit and the ability to capture the socio-political landscape of Tanzania through his art. His cartoons, which are widely circulated in national newspapers and online platforms, have not only entertained but also provoked thought and discourse among his audience. His unique style, characterized by humor and poignant observations of everyday life, earned him accolades and a steadfast following.

However, Kipanya’s talents are not confined to the realm of cartooning. He is also a celebrated radio journalist, known for his engaging interviews and insightful commentary on current affairs. His ability to connect with listeners and bring complex issues to the fore has made his radio shows a must-listen for many Tanzanians. Through his work in radio, Kipanya has further cemented his status as a key influencer in the Tanzanian media landscape.

In addition to his contributions to media and journalism, Masoud Kipanya is the entrepreneurial mind behind Kipanya Wear, a clothing company that has gained popularity for its quality and creativity. The brand reflects Kipanya’s artistic vision, blending contemporary designs with traditional Tanzanian motifs. This venture into the fashion industry showcases his versatility and commitment to promoting Tanzanian culture on a global stage.

The latest chapter in Masoud Kipanya’s illustrious career is perhaps his most ambitious undertaking yet: venturing into electric vehicle manufacturing. Recognizing the global shift towards sustainable transportation and the potential for electric vehicles (EVs) in Tanzania, Kipanya embarked on this journey to not only contribute to environmental conservation but also to position Tanzania as a player in the global EV market. This endeavor signifies a significant pivot from his previous roles but underscores his visionary approach and willingness to tackle new challenges.

The transition to electric vehicle manufacturing has not been without its hurdles. The EV industry in Tanzania, like in many developing countries, is in its nascent stages, with challenges ranging from infrastructural readiness to consumer acceptance. Kipanya has had to navigate these waters carefully, advocating for policy support, investment in charging infrastructure, and public education on the benefits of electric vehicles. Despite these challenges, his determination to drive innovation and sustainability in Tanzania’s transportation sector remains unwavering.

Masoud Kipanya’s journey from a cartoonist to an electric vehicle manufacturer encapsulates the spirit of innovation and resilience. His ability to seamlessly transition across different industries, all the while maintaining a commitment to societal improvement, is truly remarkable. As he forges ahead with his electric vehicle venture, the challenges are many, but so are the opportunities. Kipanya’s story is a testament to the power of vision, versatility, and relentless pursuit of progress.

Photo : millardayo.com

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Progreen : Turning Waste Matter Into Energy

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Progreen Innovations stands at the forefront of environmental and energy solutions in Kenya, championing a revolutionary approach to waste management through its innovative waste-to-fuel technology. This pioneering company, based in Kenya, is reshaping the narrative around waste, transforming it from an environmental burden into a valuable resource for producing alternative fuels.

Founded with the vision of addressing two critical challenges—waste management and the energy crisis—Progreen Innovations embarked on its mission to develop sustainable and eco-friendly solutions. The company recognized the untapped potential of municipal and industrial waste, which traditionally ends up in landfills, contributing to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. By converting this waste into fuel, Progreen Innovation not only aims to reduce the environmental footprint of waste but also to provide a renewable energy source that can mitigate reliance on fossil fuels.

The Waste-to-Fuel Process

The core of Progreen Innovations’s technology lies in its sophisticated waste-to-fuel conversion process. This process involves several stages, starting with the collection and sorting of waste materials. The waste is then subjected to a series of treatments, including drying, pyrolysis, and condensation, to break down the organic material into smaller molecules. The end products are fuels like biodiesel, ethanol, and other biofuels, which can be used in existing engines and infrastructure with minimal modifications.

One of the distinguishing aspects of Progreen’s technology is its efficiency and environmental friendliness. The process is designed to minimize emissions and energy consumption, making it a cleaner alternative to traditional fuel production methods. Moreover, it provides a solution to the problem of plastic waste by converting it into valuable fuel, thus addressing two environmental issues simultaneously.

To Diversify the Energy Mix in Kenya

The impact of Progreen’s work is multifaceted. Environmentally, it offers a sustainable way to manage waste, reducing landfill use and cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. Economically, it contributes to the local economy by creating jobs in waste collection, processing, and fuel distribution. Furthermore, by producing alternative fuels, Progreen helps to diversify the energy mix in Kenya, enhancing energy security and reducing dependence on imported fuels.

Progreen has garnered recognition both locally and internationally for its innovative approach to waste management and energy production. Its achievements include partnerships with municipal governments for waste collection and processing, as well as collaborations with industries seeking sustainable energy solutions.

Future Prospects

Looking forward, Progreen is set to play a pivotal role in Kenya’s environmental and energy landscape. As the world increasingly focuses on sustainability and renewable energy, the demand for alternative fuels is expected to rise. Progreen is well-positioned to expand its operations and scale up its technology to meet this growing demand.

Moreover, the company is exploring new technologies and processes to enhance the efficiency and range of fuels produced from waste. By continuously innovating, Progreen aims to contribute to a circular economy, where waste is not seen as an end product but as a resource that can be continuously reused and recycled.

Progreen embodies the transformative potential of waste-to-fuel technology. Through its pioneering work, it is not only tackling environmental and energy challenges in Kenya but also setting a precedent for sustainable waste management practices worldwide. As Progreen Innovations continues to evolve and expand, its journey offers a hopeful vision of a world where waste is no longer a problem but part of the solution to our energy needs.

Photo : rfi.fr

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Algeria: A “Start-Up Nation” with Global Aspirations

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Algeria, traditionally known for its rich history and vast natural resources, is increasingly being recognized as a burgeoning “start-up nation.” This North African country, with a young and tech-savvy population, is making strides towards establishing itself as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, aiming to leave a significant footprint on the global digital economy.

The Current Landscape

Algeria’s start-up ecosystem is still in its nascent stages, yet it shows immense promise. The government, realizing the potential of digital transformation, has been instrumental in fostering a conducive environment for start-ups. Initiatives like the National Startup Fund, established to finance innovative projects, and the implementation of the “Start-up Act,” which provides legal and financial support to young entrepreneurs, are pivotal in this journey.

The country’s youthful demographic is a key asset. With over 70% of the population under the age of 30, Algeria boasts a large, dynamic workforce eager to embrace new technologies and innovation. This demographic dividend, combined with increasing internet penetration and mobile usage, sets the stage for a thriving digital economy.

Innovative Projects and Sectors

Algerian start-ups are making waves across various sectors. In tech, there are burgeoning developments in AI, fintech, e-commerce, and renewable energy technologies. Notable examples include TemTem, a successful ride-hailing app, and Djazair Ta3mal, an online platform helping Algerians enhance their employability.

The agricultural sector, integral to the Algerian economy, is also seeing a digital overhaul. Start-ups are leveraging technology to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability, addressing challenges such as water scarcity and food security.

The Future Outlook

The future looks bright for Algeria’s “start-up nation” vision. The government’s increasing focus on digitization and economic diversification, away from oil dependency, signals a commitment to nurturing the start-up ecosystem. Moreover, the growing interest from international investors and venture capitalists in African tech start-ups could bode well for Algeria.

Advantages and Opportunities

Algeria’s strategic location as a gateway between Africa and Europe, combined with its large, young, and increasingly well-educated workforce, presents significant advantages. The country’s rich cultural heritage and diverse landscapes also offer untapped potential in sectors like tourism and cultural industries.

Furthermore, the government’s push towards enhancing digital infrastructure and the gradual shift in societal attitudes towards entrepreneurship are creating a fertile ground for innovation and business growth.

Challenges and Problems

However, the journey is not without its challenges. Bureaucracy, regulatory hurdles, and limited access to funding remain significant obstacles for many start-ups. Additionally, while the government has shown support, more consistent policies and effective implementation are needed to sustain long-term growth.

The education system, though improving, still needs to align more closely with the evolving demands of the digital economy. Bridging the skills gap and fostering a culture of innovation and critical thinking is crucial for the sustainable development of the start-up ecosystem.

Not Just a Dream but an Evolving Reality

Algeria’s aspirations to become a “start-up nation” reflect a bold and forward-thinking approach to economic development. While there are challenges to overcome, the country’s advantages, such as its young population, strategic location, and evolving digital landscape, provide a strong foundation for growth. With continued government support, international collaboration, and an emphasis on education and skills development, Algeria is well-positioned to realize its aspirations on the global stage. The nation’s journey towards becoming a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship is not just a dream but an evolving reality, paving the way for a vibrant and diversified economy.

Photos : israelvalley.com / jeuneafrique.com

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Leyja: The Latest Sustainable Tourism Destination in Saudi Arabia

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Leyja, NEOM’s latest sustainable tourism destination in Saudi Arabia, nestled between the Gulf of Aqaba coast and 400-meter-high mountains, exemplifies the kingdom’s commitment to a multifaceted, eco-friendly tourism industry under Vision 2030, offering three architecturally distinct hotels and curated experiences in a nature-reserve setting.

In a significant stride towards a more sustainable and diversified tourism industry, NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s futuristic super-city, has unveiled Leyja, its latest ecotourism destination.

Nestled along the Gulf of Aqaba coast and winding inland through a valley surrounded by 400-meter-high mountains, Leyja is a testament to Saudi Arabia’s commitment to sustainable development and its ambitious Vision 2030 initiative.

Where Is Leyja? 

Leyja is strategically positioned to unfold from the Gulf of Aqaba coast, creating a natural valley that carves through the impressive mountains of NEOM.

What sets Leyja apart is its dedication to preserving nature, with 95% of its expansive landscape designated as a nature reserve.

This aligns with NEOM’s overarching strategy to blend innovative ecological design with construction techniques that integrate seamlessly with the environment.

A Strategic Step in Saudi Arabia’s Commitment

Leyja represents a strategic step in Saudi Arabia’s commitment to diversifying its tourism destinations and boosting its economy. As part of the NEOM super-city, this $500 billion development aims to attract discerning travelers with its ultra-luxurious offerings, including high-end stores, helipads, and fine-dining restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs.

Led by renowned architects Mario Cucinella, Chris van Duijin, and Shaun Killa, Leyja’s architectural direction reflects a harmonious blend of luxury and sustainability. The development features three distinctive hotels, each offering a unique experience while staying true to its natural surroundings.

The “Adventure Hotel” (Chris Van Duijn) is a designed as a vertical structure with a deconstructed aesthetic resembling a cliffside staircase. It’s a hub for tourists seeking high-octane activities such as rock climbing. Its design minimizes impact on the natural terrain, allowing guests to engage with the rugged landscape

 

“Oasis Hotel” (designed by Mario Cucinella Architects) is emerging from the rocks with five facade fins, it serves as a gateway to exploration, offering panoramic views of the valley. The design mirrors the natural context, providing guests with an immersive experience that complements the breathtaking surroundings

The Wellness Hotel is a reflective retreat with two opposing volumes adorned with high-tech facades. This immersive wellness retreat complements Leyja’s commitment to holistic experiences, offering guests a serene escape amidst nature.

Experiences And Activities At Leyja

Leyja goes beyond traditional hospitality by curating refined experiences for visitors. Fine dining by world-renowned chefs, rooftop infinity-style pools, and wellness facilities are just a glimpse of what the destination has to offer.

For those seeking adventure, Leyja provides guided wadi walks, hiking trails, mountain biking, and climbing, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the dramatic mountain landscape.

Leyja stands as a beacon of sustainable luxury in the heart of Saudi Arabia’s mountains, inviting visitors to experience the beauty of nature without compromising on comfort. As the kingdom continues to invest in projects like Leyja, it not only aims to meet its tourism targets but also sets an example for environmentally conscious and innovative development on a global scale. With Leyja, NEOM is not just creating a destination; it’s crafting an ecological masterpiece that harmonizes with the natural wonders of Saudi Arabia.

Photos : zawya.com –

 

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Nollywood : the Nigeria’s burgeoning film industry

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Nollywood, Nigeria’s second-largest film industry, has risen from modest beginnings, revolutionizing storytelling and challenging societal norms, making a significant impact on the global film landscape.

Nollywood, Nigeria’s burgeoning film industry, has rapidly evolved into a global cinematic sensation over the last few decades. Emerging from modest beginnings in 1992, it now stands as one of the world’s most prosperous and influential film sectors, fundamentally reshaping our perceptions of movie production.

Originally rooted in Nigeria’s rich oral traditions, Nollywood draws from centuries of storytelling through song and dance. This deep-seated tradition can still be heavily observed through Nollywood films, where stories often interweave traditional music and dance, adding a unique cultural vibrancy to the industry.

From Humble Beginnings

Nollywood has come a long way since it took off in the early 1990s when trailblazers such as Kenneth Nnebue and Ola Balogun played pivotal roles in its birth. Kenneth Nnebue made history by producing Nigeria’s first feature film, “Living in Bondage” (1992), which immediately captivated audiences and set the stage for a new era in Nigerian cinema.

The film’s success inspired other aspiring filmmakers to enter the industry using video cameras and minimal budgets. These early productions were characterized by their resourcefulness, often filmed on location without the benefit of professional equipment or crews.

Fast-forward to the present, Nollywood has transformed into the second-largest film industry globally, second only to Bollywood in India. Every year, it produces over 2,000 movies and boasts an estimated revenue of $1.2 billion, establishing itself as one of the most prolific film industries worldwide.

Statistics On Nollywood Film Industry 

During the first quarter of 2023, Nollywood exhibited its unwavering productivity by delivering a total of 280 films according to Alhaji Adedayo Thomas, the Executive Director/CEO of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB).

This figure of 280 films actually represents a decrease compared to the 340 films produced in the fourth quarter of 2022, marking an 18 percent decline.

However, this slight dip does not diminish the ongoing significance of Nollywood in the larger context of Nigeria’s economy. Breaking down the production areas, the NFVCB reported that Lagos, as a prominent hub, took the lead with 106 movies.

Following closely was Nigeria’s federal capital, Abuja, contributing 99 films, while Onitsha added 32 to the cinematic landscape. Other cities, such as Abeokuta, Kano, and Benin, also played their part, albeit on a smaller scale.

Nollywood’s Strategy To Become An Empire

There are a couple of key features that helped make Nollywood into what it is today. First of all : the low production costs. The hallmark of Nollywood’s success lies in its ability to craft compelling narratives on limited budgets, often releasing these films directly to the video market instead of going through production companies and studios. Second : they are relatable! These films courageously confront the daily social issues and challenges that confront Nigerians, making them not just movies but mirrors reflecting the lives of millions. 

Also, Nollywood challenges time-honored values and beliefs, nudging individuals to view the world with fresh perspectives. Through their narratives, these films become catalysts for change, encouraging people to question, evolve, and aspire to a different reality.

Last but not least, Nollywood is an Ever-Growing Industry. The industry has, by employing over 200,000 individuals, made a substantial contribution to job creation. Moreover, Nollywood’s reach extends far beyond Nigeria’s borders, with its films captivating audiences in over 50 countries. This international appeal brings foreign investment, elevating the economic fortunes of Nigeria in a globalized world.

Obstacles Ahead For The Nollywood Film Industry

Despite its remarkable size and reach, the industry faces certain obstacles that warrant attention and innovative solutions. One of the most pressing challenges confronting Nollywood is the perennial need for increased funding.Nigerian films are typically produced on modest budgets, which can limit the production values and overall quality of the final product.

This budgetary constraint hinders Nollywood’s ability to compete on a global stage, where Hollywood blockbusters and other regional film industries often command significant financial resources for grand productions.

Rampant Piracy and Distribution Dilemma

Another formidable challenge that continues to plague Nollywood is piracy. Given the relatively low production costs of Nigerian films, they are particularly vulnerable to being illegally copied and distributed. Pirated copies frequently flood the market, and these unauthorized versions are sold on the streets at a fraction of their original price.

While the industry enjoys strong viewership within Africa, expanding its reach globally remains a complex endeavor. Getting Nigerian films into international movie theaters can be a time-consuming process, as many distributors prioritize established foreign films with proven track records of audience appeal.

How Nollywood Has Impacted The Globe

Nollywood’s impact on the film industry is undeniable. As the second-largest film industry globally, it has reshaped storytelling, challenged societal norms, and made substantial economic contributions.

Despite facing challenges, Nollywood’s influence continues to grow, highlighting the remarkable power of cinema to transcend borders and inspire change. It is a vibrant testament to the enduring and transformative impact of storytelling on a global scale.

photos : olorisupergal.com / miro.medium.com/

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Fadi Ghandour : The Visionary Behind Wamda

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Fadi Ghandour has made a lasting mark on the world of logistics and technology in the Middle East. Born on March 2nd, 1959, his journey is a testament to the incredible potential of perseverance and innovation.

Fadi is arguably most well-known for co-founding Aramex back in 1982. If you aren’t familiar with it already, it’s a company that started as a humble local courier service and grew into a global logistics powerhouse.

Under the guidance of Fadi Ghandour, Aramex expanded its reach far beyond borders, establishing a formidable presence throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond. Their remarkable journey culminated in the company going public on the NASDAQ stock exchange in 1997. However, Fadi Ghandour’s impact doesn’t end there.

The Driving Force Behind MENA’s Thriving Tech Startup Ecosystem

As a co-founder of Wamda Capital, Fadi Ghandour has been instrumental in fueling the dreams of countless budding entrepreneurs across the Middle East and North Africa, injecting vitality into the world of innovation. Beyond business, Ghandour’s philanthropic efforts and social initiatives shine just as brightly. 

His dedication to propelling economic development and fostering innovation in the Middle East has not only earned him acclaim but has transformed the landscape of the region.

Fadi Ghandour’s journey is nothing short of inspirational. His entrepreneurial spirit, combined with his commitment to driving innovation in the Middle East, makes him a standout figure in the business world.

Wamda, An Accelerant Of Innovative Entrepreneurship Systems

Wamda is a multifaceted platform and ecosystem dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurship and driving innovation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. It plays a pivotal role in supporting startups and equipping them with the resources needed to thrive in this dynamic and ever-changing landscape.

Wamda Capital sits at the core of Wamda. It’s an integral part of the organization and serves as a venture capital fund that injects essential financial support into both early-stage and growth-stage startups across MENA.

By providing capital, they empower these startups to transform innovative concepts into successful and (long-term) sustainable businesses. However, Wamda’s impact extends far beyond financial backing.

The organization is deeply committed to fostering a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem through mentorship and networking initiatives. It connects emerging startups with seasoned mentors, industry experts, and potential investors. This will naturally enable them to gain access to invaluable guidance, forge strategic partnerships, and secure additional funding to fuel their growth.

The organization also hosts a range of gatherings, conferences, and educational programs that bring together a diverse community of entrepreneurs and industry experts. These events serve as dynamic platforms for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and the showcasing of innovative ideas.

Generating Knowledge And Insights About The MENA Startup Landscape

Through extensive research efforts and the publication of informative reports, Wamda equips policymakers, investors, and entrepreneurs with a comprehensive understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities in the region. Additionally, Wamda operates a media platform that disseminates news, stories, and analyses related to entrepreneurship, startups, and technology in MENA.

This content not only informs and educates, but also celebrates the accomplishments and breakthroughs of startups in the region.

Fadi Ghandour’s remarkable journey from co-founding Aramex to his pivotal role in nurturing the MENA region’s startup ecosystem through Wamda and Wamda Capital is truly inspirational. His commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship continues to shape the future of the Middle East and Africa, fostering a vibrant landscape of innovation and economic growth.

Photos : menabytes.com /

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The Green Girl hurdling barriers in the race for sustainability

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Many observers see that out of the many challenges facing modern Africa, two in particular stand out. The first of these is the continent’s massive untapped renewable energy resources. The African Development Bank estimates that there is an annual potential of 350 GW in hydroelectric power, 110 GW from wind, 15 GW from geothermal and a huge 1000 GW from solar. In addition, the International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that surplus forest wood could provide 520 GW/year in bioenergy.

The second and perhaps more daunting challenge is breaking down the gender disparity barriers that have been entrenched since colonial days. The World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap index estimated that it would take 135 years (at current rates of progress) for the gap to finally close in sub-Saharan Africa, with North Africa taking even longer at 153 years.

Anything that attempts to meet these challenges should be applauded and promoted, and when a person or project attempts to tackle both of them at the same time, then there should be even higher levels of recognition and encouragement.

Monique Ntumngia Determined To Give Something to Those Who Lacked Opportunities

Enter Monique Ntumngia, founder of Cameroon’s ‘Green Girls’ and a renewable energy entrepreneur. The 29-year-old Cameroonian had a hard childhood as an orphan. And as she entered adulthood, she was determined to give something to those who lacked opportunities.

The idea for Green Girls was born in September of 2014 when Ntumngia was working in Nigeria for the NGO, Human Rights and Education. While taking part in the traditional distribution of school supplies at the start of the school year, children kept asking her: “Madam, how are we going to use these notebooks and books without light?”

It was at that point that Ntumngia decided that her path forward lay in marrying sustainable development with the promotion and spread of renewable energies. She began organising fundraising events and contacting organisations such as UNICEF and the EU. After raising US$10,000 in just two months, she bought 2,500 solar lamps from Norway that she distributed across Nigeria.

Only 10% of The Population Have Regular Access to Electricity.

After Nigeria, she wanted to do the same in Cameroon. Her home country – and Africa as a whole – suffers from a real problem as far as electricity production and distribution are concerned. Most rural areas have no supplies all. Across Africa as a whole, only 10% of the population have regular access to electricity.

Monique Ntumngia: Leading the way in promoting renewable energy and sustainability in Africa

But this young social entrepreneur quickly realised that solar lamps were not a long-term answer. She carried out an in-depth survey looking at the sustainability of local economies across Cameroon. She also realised that many of these local communities had an acute waste management problem. Biogas seemed to be an obvious answer to work alongside solar energy. Biogas is a renewable energy source made from the anaerobic fermentation of organic waste. She set up a company – Monafrik Energy – to develop solar and biogas solutions, to provide affordable energy, and to help support sustainable communities. Since December of 2015, the company has built eight solar installations and twenty bio-digesters for biogas production.

But Monique’s vision extended far beyond simple provision of electricity. She wanted to tackle gender disparity and the poverty that both causes and accompanies it. In August of 2016, she founded the charity, Green Girls. Its mission? To promote sustainable development in every African rural community through the infiltration of renewable energy; and getting African governments to develop gender policies that provide access to finance in order for these women to run clean energy businesses.

To Plant Trees To Replace the Forests Used As Sources of Firewood

The charity also plants trees to replace the forests used as sources of firewood before the communities had bio digesters constructed. Within just a few months of starting the charity, 623 girls between the ages of 14 and 18 had received training in three areas of Cameroon.

The charity now operates programmes on several levels. They train girls in how to construct and maintain solar panels and bio digesting equipment. They also teach them about the relevant Sustainable Development Goals so they understand better the sustainable community models. In order to encourage financial independence, they train the women in how to set up SMEs, with businesses aimed at the packaging and selling of organic fertilizer, growing organic crops, and making solar lanterns.

In order to expand the ideas and the training, one aspect of the Green Girl programmes is identifying future leaders and training them to be trainers. This offers the potential of rapid multiplication of women and girls taking part in the various programmes as well as an expansion of ideas and practical solutions.

To Expand the Green Girls Operations across All of Africa

Her hard work and innovative ideas have led to global recognition. To date, she has been awarded the following prizes: WWF Africa Youth Champion award (twice), US$100,000 Visa Everywhere Initiative Award 2019, the Africa Youth Connekt prize for Best Project and best Pitch, and the Cameroon special tourism award for promoting sustainable development

Ntumngia’s vision is to expand the Green Girls operations across all of Africa but she knows that there are many hurdles to cross and that both governments and African society need to be part of the battle to break down gender barriers as well as working towards a more sustainable Africa.

Photos: afrohustler.com/ Facebook.com / visamiddleeast.com

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Agricultural data is becoming big business in Africa

Comments (0) Business, Non classé

Africa can often be a continent of major contradictions, but perhaps especially when it comes to agriculture. The African Development Bank (ADB) released a recent report which stated that the continent contained an astounding 65% of the world’s uncultivated but arable land. Many areas also have an abundance of fresh water. The soil is extremely fertile, and the continent has around 300 days of sunshine every year. And when you look at the working population, in excess of 60% of people work in the agricultural sector in some capacity. 

Yet despite that potential, the continent as a whole continues to import much of its food ($64.5 billion in 2017) and many regions continue to suffer annual famines with around five million Africans dying every year from hunger and over a quarter of the population classified as “severely food insecure in 2016”.

To increase efficiency and productivity – and thus hopefully reduce hunger and reliance on imports – many African countries are now looking to data collection and analysis for solutions and creating a new demand and market by doing so. 

A lot of Challenges to Face

There are a number of challenges that Africa’s agricultural sector faces. As far as development of uncultivated land is concerned, many areas have poor or no transport links. There may be little in the way of communications, little credit to buy the machinery and seed stock needed to cultivate the land, issues with property rights, endemic corruption at local and national levels, a lack of access to technology, and various other issues. 

Many now see the use of data identifying the areas offering the most lucrative prospects as the way to move forward. Coupled with simpler smart phones to be used in situ, data scientists can analyse data from satellite imagery and records of climate and weather patterns to help focus on those initially promising areas. 

Another major problem that faces the sector, and also another that technology may offer a solution to, is that many African agricultural products are subject to the overuse of pesticides (or the use of banned pesticides). This means that they do not pass the stringent standards of target markets such as the European Union. 

Using Technology

Companies such as Acquahmeyer in Ghana are now using drones to monitor the health of crops so as to allow farmers to reduce their reliance on these pesticides. At $5 to 10 per acre, this is a growing data market across the continent. 

The ADB are also investing in data and data collection. As of 2018, they had launched a drone programme partnering with the Tunisian government and the city of Busan in South Korea. The programme will include training 32 young Tunisians on how to pilot drones and collect agricultural data. 

South African startup, Zindi, is another African company looking to harness data to improve agricultural yields. They use their platform to host competitions that brings together over 9,000 African data scientists to crunch numbers and data from satellite imagery and other sources to provide real solutions on – and in – the ground. 

But it is also about different data sets being harnessed to improve agriculture. In Nigeria, the government are undertaking a major registration programme to include its farmers on an electronic wallet system. This will allow the government to make grants and subsidy payments, share information on better farming practices, and help improve the continental supply chain. 

Monsanto Has Established Data Sharing Agreements: Good News for Africa?

Multinational conglomerate, Monsanto, has already established data sharing agreements with the American agricultural machinery producer, Agco. They also launched Climate FieldView in 2018, a tool specifically designed to collect and exploit agricultural data from across Africa. Given Monsanto’s track history, there are justifiable worries that while African NGOs seek to reduce hunger and poverty by increasing crop yields. 

Hopefully, the Pan-African efforts by various parties will continue to yield promising results.

Photos : blogs.worldbank.org / idss.mit.edu / agroinformatics.org

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