Saturday, April 29, 2006
Back to ancient time, classical tasks of the state have been making war and ensuring internal order. However, the event of modernism has seen the state mostly performing a role of economic transformation and development achievement though still performing its classical roles.
In present times, there is mounting evidence that success in development depends, to certain extent, on internal structures that a state is made of. Many studies such as the one by the sociologist Peter Evans prove enough that differences in the level of development is much due to the nature of states and the kind of relationships states develop with their societies.
As far as sub-Saharan Africa is concerned, the observation is that conditions of empty democracies easing elite to capture many states, failing and under-resourced bureaucracies, corruption, and many other symptoms still prevail. Yet without state, the other master institution of modern society (markets) cannot function (Evans 1995).
On the other hand, “managing an economy is not an easy task, especially in a context of global imperatives, where a country that deviates from the global norm is meted with punishment by global capital. The task is more difficult in a society like ours [South Africa] with conflicting imperatives. … These competing imperatives pose critical challenges for building one nation that belongs to all South Africans. To a large extent, South Africa’s ability to effectively address these imperatives will be dependent on the ability of the ruling party, the African National Congress… (Edigheji, 2005).
However, this long quote should not be taken for excuse. Instead, Africa should learn that the 3 successful post-war development experiences over the world emphasize the role that state apparatuses have played:
- The Marshall plan, which consisted of funding the post war reconstruction of Europe. Great results where achieved by European states such as France.
- The East Asian Growth and Development Plan (where US capital inflows helped to generate anti-communist states), and
- The European Integration Programme (attempt to promote growth and overcome regional inequalities in Europe).
In the East Asian case for instance, the East Asian miracle, countries did not only receive US aid to prevent communist expansion. Well known as the tigers, states played a vital role by:
- Successfully using financial instruments to channel investment decisions in line with national priorities, hence the concept of state-capitalism;
- Effectively initiating and presiding industrial transformation, hence the concept developmental state;
- Surmounting particularistic interest and securing collective goals, hence the concept embedded autonomy.
In the 1990s, the World Bank initiated a research in more than 200 countries to determine prospects of development based on six sectors:
- Voices and Accounatbility, measuring political, civic and human rights;
- Political Instability and Violence - measuring the likelihood of violent threats to, or changes in, government, including terrorism;
- Government Effectiveness - measuring the competence of the bureaucracy and the quality of public service delivery;
- Regulatory Burden - measuring the incidence of market-unfriendly policies;
- Rule of Law - measuring the quality of contract enforcement, the police, and the courts, including judiciary independence, and the incidence of crime;
- Control of corruption.
All the 6 indicators used by the bank relate to governance, that shows how good governance is determinant for development.
In 2005, the World Bank research was released and its main findings indicate that a realistic improvement in just one of the 6 areas within a country, can result in about 300% increase in the national per capita income over the long the term!
Main conclusions of the World Bank report are that:
- Improved governance leads to higher standards of living and poverty alleviation;
- Such improvements in governance are realistic;
- Measuring governance changes over time: significant improvements are feasible;
- Yet the worldwide reality is sobering: limited progress on average;
- Demand for rigorously monitoring progress: the power of data.
Hence the Bank to conclude: ‘Yet good governance is not a luxury that only wealthy countries can afford’.
Despite this brief book review one should be aware that I am not an advocate of the World Bank, in fact my empirical study in DRC last year made me side with those still questioning the genuineness of the Bank’s latest policy regarding poverty alleviation, I do respect most of their research findings.
Besides that, the UN Convention against Corruption has just set some institutional arrangements to fight corruption and urges States to appoint bodies to coordinate prevention and enforcement measures (UNDP, April 2006).
All this makes me conclude that the thesis that development’s outcomes in third world depend on the role a state performs is still valid to a certain extent. Thus, good and stable governance, sound macroeconomic policies, pro-poor bureaucracies and service delivery will characterize African countries that are going to make a difference.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
WOW bearing fruits
Hello every body nothing much has happened this week, but I have learned that some of our colleagues have secured internships with different organizations and I just want to say to them congratulations. It just shows that the WOW programme is quick and effective, because within a week after the completion of the programme about four people have been placed for internships and they are working already.
After hearing such good news, I gained so much confidence in myself and believe that very soon it will be me and other who have not been placed yet. I hope that by the end of the year almost every one of the WOW trainees will have been placed and some of us employed permanently by their host organizations.
I hope you as the WOW trainees will share your good news with us so that we know what is going on in your lives also so that we can share tips on ho is hiring and so forth. I have so heard that five WOW trainees have been placed one of them of course being Rochelle. I wish all of them the best and I hope that they will do us proud.
I got an internship!
I have been working at Gender Links (GL) for a week now. I had an interview on Thursday, 13 April, with organization called GL (see http://www.genderlinks.org.za/
), to be an intern. I got the position and I am very excited. This blog is not about the organisation or even the interview, rather I want to start a discussion on our blog about networking and networking skills. Throughout our internship programme, various presenters stressed the need to network with people in our field of interest and also with random people who may be of assistance in the future.
So I interviewed the Director of GL, Kubi Rama, last year September, while I was doing my field work for my research. She is an expert in the area of gender and media and she had a lot to say in regards to my research topic (news media coverage of women's health in the realm of HIV and AIDS). While I was at the interview I met someone who used to go to Wits, Agnes, and she was the intern at the time. I told Agnes what great experience she was getting and that I would want to intern there as well. Now that I think retrospectively, this was the first point of the network, but I did not think much of this at the time, I was working really hard to finish my research report. I just wanted to share my enthusiasm with her about how I thought GL is doing great work.
In March I got an email from Agnes, she wanted a copy of my research because she was doing some research herself on a similar topic and wanted to sort of compare notes. I sent her a copy and at the same time I asked her if there was any positions for an intern open at Gender Links. She replied gratefully for my research and said she would ask around to see if there were any openings. I waited about two days and she told me to forward my CV to her director (she returned the favor). I sent my CV in an email the next day and a week later I got a phone call to come in for an interview; that was Thursday the 13th of April. I met with the Executive Director and the staff in an informal meeting/interview and they asked me questions about my interests and passions and realized that I was a great fit for their organization and told me I could start today.
Now the point of this little story is to ask about the issue of networking. I do not think GL would have told me that they have a place for an intern if I had phoned their office and no openings were advertised on their website. This makes me think that I would not have known about this position if I didn’t know Agnes. I know that I had to be qualified and available to actually get the position, so I am not saying that’s it is ALL about who you know. It just makes me think about the importance of networking. I would like some feedback on this…
“It’s all about people. It’s about networking and being nice to people and not burning any bridges. “ ~ Mike Davidson (not related to me. I think…)
Chelly blogs at http://www.rochellerenere.blogspot.com/
Monday, April 24, 2006
Africa reinvention = NEPAD = Government and business cooperation
) is the African initiative for development which is an attempt to put Africa on the path of good governance and prosperity with a consolidation of peace, security and stability. It is especially an attempt to shift the ideology of a donor-recipient relationship to rather a partnership between nations to give and receive aid.
It realizes the need for policy reforms in order to establish sustainable development within all African states. It is an attempt to redefine the concept of development assistance, and it has a strong emphasis on partnership to be able to do this. Thus it seeks policy reform and enhanced investment within the following sectors: Agriculture; human development, particularly in health and education; developing a better infrastructure which incorporates transport, energy, and information technology; more diverse economies with regards to their export and production particularly with regards to mining, tourism and agro-industry; promote trade between African states and increase access to developed markets of the world. These aims and policy reforms are very similar and can be directly related to that of the Post Washington Consensus.
Throughout this brief background of NEPAD it can clearly be seen that the central policies outlined in NEPAD, namely constant macroeconomic policy and strength, greater openness of African economies to the world, and good governance, are at the heart of the Post Washington Consensus policy instruments. Similarly, these two mechanisms for development realizes that developing nations need stable financial guidelines, competitiveness, policies to assist in the transfer of technology, and transparency, to name a few aspects ignored by the Washington Consensus. Like the Post Washington Consensus, NEPAD understands that without government action there will be too little investment in the production and adoption of new technology.
Initiatives like NEPAD can be seen as a response to these reforms, trying to apply the Consensus reforms in a positive way. It is a reaction to the failures of the Washington Consensus, but it also takes some of the positive aspects and it attempts to promote greater integration of Africa into the international economy from which it has been marginalised. One of its main goals is increased international competition by, for instance, encouraging regional production chains and the development of the markets around Africa.
However, NEPAD faces some problems. In brief, the major difficulty they are facing at present is the fact that it is not very clear about the development path that needs to be obtained in order to reach the clearcut goals they have set forth. There is also the worry that NEPAD is taking on the same policies that have been in the running for 20 years which are linked to the Bretton Woods institutions, and in turn the Washington Consensus. And many critics argue that NEPAD is only there to answer the call of institutions like the World Bank (www.worldbank.org
) and donors countries for Africa to implement policies that reflect those of the Washington Consensus.
Having mentioned the above however, one must also note that without the commitment on the part of both government and business on the continent towards issues of good governance, both politically and within the corporate sector these ideals will not see the light of day. Continuous engagement between the two parties on issues such as the foreign policy objectives of a country also becomes very important. Here, one refers to not only the political objectives but also government always being on the lookout for possible contracts on behalf of companies in their respective countries. Another matter that requires urgent attention and cooperation is on the infrastructural challenges facing the continent, an important component of Nepad. Expertise and experience from all over the continent needs to be harnessed in order to meet the ultimate objectives of the programme. Technological expertise needs to be shared amongst African countries and further regional integration needs also to take place.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Last Friday I attended a conference which brought 8 former African presidents to address the public at wits. Great initiative! This was part of the African Presidential Roundtable co-organized by Boston University and the African Presidential and Archives Research Center (http://www.bu.edu/aparc/). Pierre Buyoya from Burundi, Masire from Botswana, Rawlings from Ghana, Kaunda from Zambia, Offman from Mauritius, Nicefore Soglo (Benin), Maria Pereira (Cape Verde), William B Mkapa (Tanzania), and Hassan Mwinyi (Tanzania) were there. They are controversial figures since many people relate African misery to them. Avoiding the blame game, I took away two things from them:
- Excellence Kaunda (Zambia) said: ‘Young people, you are the legacy of Africa, and if you do not take over your responsibilities, then Africa is lost’.
- N Soglo (Benin) argued that, once in office I was confronted by things that I never learnt from university: I realized that corruption was a world institution, institutionalized and protected by the west!
Drawing from that, my first premise is that African development needs a strong leadership form the current generation.
Many attendees at that conference may disagree with me. Indeed, the discussion we had mostly turned around questions like: corruption, why very long stay in offices, why didn’t you implement what you are saying now, why, why and why.
Disagree or not, WHY is the most difficult question on this earth. One day, after watching some pictures of some ‘wanted’ gangsters in his city, a little boy went to see a police officer in his vicinity and asked him this very question: “why did not you guys catch these gangsters when you were shooting them?”…
And so was our conference.
To answer the question on overstay in power, ex president Ketumile Masire stood up as the respondent on behalf of the group. His argument, “you can be in that office as long as you perform…in the US, people were overstaying up to when one took too long. Then they decided to fix a term. We are simply coping from them. Chirac in France, Thatcher in UK, etc overstayed and no one complained…”
Another argument ex African president sticked to, was that: we fought for our independences.
The real question that we should ask our self, as next generation or rulers, is how well prepared and ready are we compared to them?
It’s always good to look at deficiencies of a predecessor, but I think we better move the debate beyond that.
Being endowed with diversity of natural resources brought misfortune to Africa. Western countries, helped by African elite in power have been looting our riches. The aim of those powers has always been to have control over the Liberian or Sierra Leonean diamond. Belgian declared DR Congo a geological scandal! Since the last discovery of petrol in Chad, the country is now subject of international attention from some western powers after years of neglect.
As Soglo (Benin) said, corruption is like tennis game, you need a receiver on the other side to send the ball back to you. Do not blame African leaders only; it’s a highly organized network. Moreover, your university curriculum will never teach you about that.
When blogging on that, I do not mean that we should go for corruption! Instead, it teaches me about ethics, and that is my second premise.
If African leaders do not understand their role in the expected change, things are likely to not improve. Zimbabwe celebrated her national day 5 days ago, but the situation there leaves much to desire. Mugabe is a great nationalist, true and great, but we want to see that being translated in improvement of people’s lives and national economics. Emigration in that country has tremendously increased, would you tell me that Mugabe is doing well. On the other side, his opponents seem to be short of inspiration.
LD Kabila took over Mobutu’s 32 year-rule in DRC. I liked that guy, fluent in more that 7 international languages. His discourse was seducing: “Le peuple congolais a besoin du changement” (= Congolese need change). Indeed, we were tired of Mobutu. Then, Kabila ruled for 4 years but except his discourse, he never proved to be the nationalist (Lumumbist, Lumumba) he claimed to be.
South Africa, at least what sub-Saharan Africa can be proud of, is still struggling with a crisis of leadership and a jobless growth that is not yet correcting the wealth divide caused by Apartheid.
This generation of ours is the next to take over the destiny of the continent. What a huge responsibility! If we are not aware of it, we are likely to do the worse.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
This post is by Guy Kawasaki, copied from his blog at blog.guykawasaki.com. I regard him as one of the great gurus of the business world. He's new-ish to blogging, and already has a huge following. That's cos he follows his own advice. Walk his talk.
-- Roy Blumenthal.
I know a fair amount about evangelism and a little bit about blogging, so I've combined the two in order to provide some insights into the evangelism of a blog. Granted, I've only been at blogging for 120 days or so, but marketing is marketing, right?
1. Think “book” not “diary.” First, a bit of philosophy: my suggestion is that you think of your blog as a "product." A good analogy is the difference between a diary and a book. When you write a diary, it contains your spontaneous thoughts and feelings. You have no plans for others to read it. By contrast, if you write a book, from day one you should be thinking about spreading the word about it. If you want to evangelize your blog, then think “book” not “diary” and market the heck out of it.
2. Answer the little man. Now that you're thinking of your blog as a product, ask yourself if it's a good product. A useful test is to imagine that there's a little man sitting on your shoulder reading what you're writing. Every time you write an entry, he says, “So what? Who gives a shiitake?” If you can't answer the little man, then you don't have a good blog/product. Take it from someone who's tried: It's tough to market crap, so make sure you have something worth saying. Or, write a diary and keep it to yourself.
3. Collect email addresses. The first piece of advice that I give authors who want to evangelize their book is to accumulate email addresses. (The second piece of advice is to start blogging before the book comes out.) When I launched The Art of the Start, I sent out email to 95,000 people who had made contact with Garage in the past nine years by attending our conferences, submitting business plans, ... whatever. Also a team of student interns compiled a database of every entrepreneurial organization on the planet for me.
When I started this blog, I sent out 10,000 email announcements. (I didn't use the entire Garage database because I thought that was too tacky even for me.) You may not have the ability to collect email on this scale but collect them nonetheless. For example, when a bozo includes you on a large carbon-copy email, mine the addresses. However, don't buy address lists or spam people (I define "spam" as sending email to someone who has never sent me one) because for email promotion to work, you must know the recipient--or be known by the recipient.
Two more email related recommendations. First, when you answer an email, stick in a “by the way” that mentions your blog. (The only email responses that I send that don't make reference to my blog are the ones that are responses to an email about my blog.) Second, your email signature should contain your blog address.
4. Collect links for blog rolling. This is something I wish I had done on day one, but I was totally ignorant of this linking thing. If I had to do it over again, I would look for all the interesting blogs that cover similar topics to my blog. Then, on day one I would have blog rolled them all and ensured that Technorati pinged my blog, so that the bloggers might find out that I existed. I use Blogrolling.com to create my current blog roll.
Now that I understand how linking works, I use NetNewsWire and Endo to look for new links to my blog, and I find sites that I would have never seen were it not for their links to my site. Basically, you want bloggers to find out about you because you linked to them. You never know what they might do for you.
5. Scoop stuff. There's a very interesting honor system in blogging. Suppose Blogger A finds an obscure article and posts it to his blog. Blogger B reads about it on Blogger A's blog and links to it. However Blogger B doesn't link only to the article; she also links to Blogger A to give him credit for finding the article.
This means that if you hustle and scoop stuff, other bloggers will link to you. For example, when I found and publicized the Stanford Social Innovation Review article by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton, many other bloggers linked to my blog, not just the article itself. I was surprised by this. Bottom line: if you want lots of people to link to you, read voraciously and find cool stuff first. As a Japanese philosopher once said, "Eat like a bird, and poop like an elephant."
6. Supplement other bloggers with a followup entries. Read the blogs of the top fifty or so bloggers (using Technorati's ranking is fine) and see if you have in-depth knowledge about their topics. Then instead of leaving the typical, dumb shiitake comment (“I think you're an orifice who shouldn't make money recommending products that you've invested in.”), craft a real essay that complements the blogger's entry.
When someone does this for my entries, I want to get down on my knees and thank God because it's less stuff that I have to write. Look at this example that was a followup for my entry about recruiting. I don't know about other bloggers, but one of the biggest challenges I face is feeding the content beast. If you can help me feed it, I'll gladly link to you and give you publicity.
7. Acknowledge and respond to commenters. Only good things can happen when you read all the comments in your blog and respond to them. It makes commenters return to your blog. This, in turn, makes commenters feel like they are part of your blog's community which makes them tell more people to read your blog.
(I'd like to do this better, but I've created a monster. I don't have any quantitative evidence, but it sure seems like a I get large volume of comments to my entries. There are days that I simply can't keep up, so forgive me.)
8. Ask for help. If you are providing value in your blog, don't hesitate to ask for your readers to help. If you don't ask, you don't get. You don't have to be as blatant as I am in the desire to climb Technorati's ranking, but in a perfect world, you provide something in your blog and your readership will want to reciprocate by helping you spread the word.
9. Be bold. I'm not saying you should intentionally piss other bloggers off, but if you can't speak your mind on your own blog, we might as well all give up and stay on the porch. This is a fascinating thing about blogging: Even when people torch you, they link to your site. I would have thought that you don't link. My logic was: Why give someone you torched any exposure?
10. Make it easy to join up. A blogger named Steve Nipper showed me the list about this. I had no idea what Feedburner and FeedBlitz did until he told me about them. The bottom line is that you should enable your readers to get to your blog in multiple ways. It's no different than distributing physical products through multiple channels.
May you use this knowledge to rise in Technorati and make the A List. Just say hello as you pass me by--someday I'll be sucking up to you. :-)
Here are some other resources that I found by reading Christian Blog Evangelism:
How to Build Traffic to Your Blog by Priya Shah
Promoting Your Blog
Friday, April 21, 2006
I am very pleased about the development of infrastructure in South Africa, especially the rural places. When visiting villages like Qwa-qwa [Free State Province], Tlokweng [North West] I am always surprised to see the enormous change from what I saw ten years ago. There are roads, water taps available at every corner, shopping facilities, well -build educational facilities, houses,pleasure and accomodation places.
Afer winning the 2010 World Cup opportunity to host the Fifa soccer, we now have a chance of showing the world that South Africa is the best. We have a chance to show how we can work together as a nation. Business people and the community will participate as well as gain economically by providing excellent transportation and communications systems, not to mention the hotels and other accommodation places.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Post internship training
The internship training is complete and I am waiting in anticipation to gaining entry in any organization that is willing to give me a chance to do an internship with them. So far I have been to two interviews and none of these two organizations are interested in me. I am starting to panic and wonder if there is anything that I am doing or not doing that is making these people uninterested in me.
I have a feeling this is going to be a long road that is felt with uncertainties but not disappointments because I am positive that some one will be interested in me and others fellow trainees who are in the same boat as I am. I am looking forward to this journey, because it is after a long weekend (Easter weekend) and I had enough time to reflect on what I have learned in the training programme and how I can use the skills that I have learned in to practice.
I hope that we as fellow trainees we will keep in touch so that we can inform each other about the developments that are happening in our lives. After the graduation ceremony, I am hoping that we will actually see the fruits of the internship training programme and I am excited because I believe that exciting things will come our way and we will get a chance to show our expertise and skills in the work place, thanks to Lesley and Jean and the guest speakers who made this internship training possible.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Now that the debate over the gospel of Judas
has reached its peak in news during the time Christians celebrate Easter, some are focused on the first democratic elections in the DRC
!) and others are concerned with the mixture of the next Italian government
, I am shifting away from all that to blog on the ambiance we had in the World Of Work (WOW) training
. Definitely, this is one of the experiences that I will always remember in my life.
From March 13 to April 11, 2006, as interns of the WOW program; we were addressed by almost 40 people from different organizations. Some of them spoke for as long as 20 minutes but said as much constructive as longer presenters. One of the earlier things I learnt is an advice from Shameen Naidoo (CCDU
) who addressed us on emotional intelligence (EQ) and stress management. Being altruistic by nature, my main challenge was how to find a balance between self and social awareness. Her advice was simple; three of the 5 elements of EQ concern the self […], therefore allow sometimes to you and give yourself this month then work from that. Three weeks later, I have realized that it was the done thing to myself and I can still find room for people surrounding me.
After a school attendance of 24 years, despite some interruptions here and there, it was time to negotiate an eventual shift. Please note that, the record for school attendance among 2006 WOW interns was held by Maina
with 25 years!
We were a group of 17 interns, all humanities students but from all over the world. The beauty of the thing was that we had to see each other and spend at least a third of each working day, which was quite different from post-graduate studies we have just finished. When attending postgraduate classes (at least at Wits), the longest sessions we had were two-week block studies intermittently held. In the WOW, I started to realize that my formal studies were over though I am still struggling between embarking for the workplace or progressing towards a Phd, which is another story.
The WOW was a sort of ambiance I had to discover and learn from. Planning to work in an organization with diversity as main characteristic, the WOW was the shadow of the career environment I have been longing for. Not only that the caliber of guest speakers
was high, but also the diversity of study programmes and countries we all were from gave it a special character.
Besides that, we had two special ladies: Jean Power and Lesley Emanuel managing the programme. I like the power and heart Jean has; you can’t be insensitive to that. On the other hand, Lesley’s frankness, desire for excellence and high-standard pieces of work taught me a lot.
Another opportunity this program gave me was to make me part of the the blogosphere, this complex virtual community of people from all over the world, not limited by space and time, but always interacting through web blogs. I really felt what it entails to be a citizen of the global village. Thanks Roy
, thank you to all our guest speakers
(since I cannot name each individually).
Now, with this blogteam, my wish is to see the very same atmosphere, not as real as the physical we had, but a virtual interaction through blogging.
I learnt a lot and space does not allow me to list what I have been empowered to. In short, after attending this programme and listening to all our guest speakers
, I feel like being given and taught on a pack of two things: ‘a map and a compass’ with their user’s guides. Drop me in the Amazon forest and for sure, with the two tools, I can still find my way out, I can still locate South Africa or DRC. I mean, I am ready to ‘go to work’ in South Africa, Brazil, DRC or elsewhere as long as it is on earth where I can use my map and compass.
Thanks a million,
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Development with DBSA
I got so excited today when the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) www.dbsa.org
came to present their internship opportunities in their company. In the beginning of the presentation I thought Jean must have made a mistake because there are no B Com students in the training programme. Then the speakers told us that there are actually many opportunities for social science students in their programme that are dealing with research, project management and so on.
What I like about the bank is that it deals with development issues, for example poverty alleviation and unemployment, especially amongst graduates. I am interested in community development and I would like to do an internship with DBSA. I also have a background in research, because I helped with research in the department of Forced Migrations studies at Wits. What is more exciting is that the speaker told us that there are employment opportunities after the completion of the internship, depending on the performance of the individual and commitment. As post-graduate students I think that we are capable of introducing new project that are linked to development that is why we are suitable to work at DBSA.
It is refreshing to know that financial institutions are interested in social science students and see them as valuable in their companies. I am also glad that we are finally being given a chance to offer our expertise in financial institutions, because the speaker spoke of other banks (Land bank and so on) that also employ social science students. So we are employable after all.
Yesterday an Executive Director asked students to prepare a presentation on aspects of his organisation. For early next week. Very early. From my corner of the room, I could see the turmoil on all the students’ faces: the opportunity (of the presentation) versus
-difficulty getting computer/internet access
-other work demands!
-holiday time (so well deserved right now, after WoW training sessions)
One brave person spoke for all the others: “Actually, could we have more time? We have holidays...”
Deadlines, when you’re trying to gain access into an organisation, can’t be negotiated. When you don’t have an established reputation, or when they don’t know you, employers make a very easy jump to some very damaging conclusions when prospective interns/employees try to shift things to suit themselves:
-“he’s not keen”
-“ah, so that’s his work ethic: holidays come first!”
-“she doesn’t really want this job”
-“that kind of attitude won’t fit in here.”
If you’re an intern, or an entry-level employee, you are going to have to make some personal compromises in areas like these.
Actually, this isn’t only true for interns. I know a married couple who have worked together for the last 30 years. They create databases, she designs and he delivers. They got a great contract. She designed – and he had to install it, right in the middle of an extraordinary, wonderful camping holiday to Mozambique that they had planned with extended family. She went. He worked.
They complained bitterly - to friends only, of course. He did the work professionally and only mentioned the fact that he had missed his holiday in passing, once, to the company CEO. The story ends with the contract ending successfully. Lots of subsequent work.
Oh - and the CEO gave them a gift. He painted the couple holidaying together in Mozambique. Framed it, and also gave them a fully paid weekend to Mozambique, in their own time.
Not that we can expect the same for our commitment to our work. But maybe we should re-think the degree to which we are prepared to compromise and commit. Maybe we should think differently about things like workplace ‘dead’- lines, because when you’ve handed in a piece of work, or when you sit down right after you have given a presentation, you have created the potential for exciting, life-changing things to start happening. Maybe that’s how workplace deadlines are different to deadlines for academic work.
So when you’re offered a deadline (perhaps as part of an interview process) that has you in a corner, grab it with enthusiasm and energy, even while your heart sinks. Late nights, red-eyes, working under pressure will pay off in the end.
On the subject of what to do and what not to do in an interview: here’s a fun article, a collection of weird stories from employers – the worst experiences they ever had with a candidate in an interview or in the hiring process.
Monday, April 10, 2006
How to put your resume online on your blog
This is one way of putting a decent cv online. Take a look at John T. Unger's blog
for an example
of how he's done it.
- Log onto your Blogger account, and click on 'make a new post' in your own blog.
- If you've got your CV formatted in MS Word, cut and paste it into your blog post. If not, simply type it in, and use the various formatting tools to make it look good. Please note: if you're using an old-style approach to CVs, you're doing yourself a disservice. NO ID NUMBERS. NO AGE. Okay??? This is vital! An employer does NOT need to know how old you are.
- Give the post a proper title. Such as: The Online Resume of Joe Bloggs -- Updated 08 April 2006.
- Post the cv to your blog.
- Now, view the blog. At the bottom of the entry you'll see a little hash sign: #. If you right-click on that sign, a context menu should come up, depending on the browser you're using. Look down the menu until you see something that looks like, 'Copy Link Location'. Something like that. Click on that option. You will now have the permalink URL (address) of your CV on the computer's clipboard.
- Go to your blog dashboard, and click on 'edit settings'.
- Now go to 'template'. Click on it.
- Up pops a window with loads of inscrutable CSS and HTML in it. Ignore the confusion.
- WARNING: Do not skip what I'm about to tell you. I caused myself three hours of extra work last night cos I forgot this one vital step... Copy the text of your existing template into an MS Notepad document, and save it to your desktop, so that you have a backup copy of your template.
- Now you're ready to start tampering. Scroll down that code until you find the contents of the sidebar. (This is where the link 'edit me' was found before you edited that. It's where you popped links of your buddies' blogs in.)
- Just take a moment to study the format of that section. You're going to do something cunning right now.
- Find a nice position for your CV to go. I would put it directly beneath the profile section. Put the cursor in the right place, and PASTE the URL into that spot. You're a quarter of the way through now.
- Now, you need to make a section titled: 'My Resume', with an entry in it called, 'The Online Resume of Joe Bloggs'.
- Right... easy... take one of the existing sections, such as 'Links'. Copy the code, including the links. Now change the text within that. Where it says 'links', change that to 'My Resume'. Where the link url appears (the thing with href="http://etcetera" re-copy your pasted URL into its place (eg http://etcetera). Then change the link text (eg blahblah) to your desired link text.
- Remember that HTML works with opening and closing things, and they're all embedded. Whenever you see something in sharp brackets you've got to see an equivalent closing set And they're nested.
See what I mean?
- Click 'preview'. A new window will open with your blog in it. This is a preview. It does NOT exist until you've saved and published your site. It's there for you to see if your change is right, or if something awful is wrong.
- If you're happy with what you see, go back to the template edit page that's still open, and click, 'save template'. Once it's done that, which will take some seconds, up comes an instruction at the top of that page that says, 'publish index only' and 'publish site'. Click on 'publish site'. That will take a bit of time. Once it's finished, you're done. Your blog has a section labelled 'My Resume' with a link in that section titled 'The Online Resume of Joe Bloggs', or whatever you've chosen to use.
- If some disaster has befallen your code, you've got to go through it with a fine tooth comb, ensuring that those tags are nested, and that every open tag has an equivalent closed one.
- And please, guys, help each other with this. HTML can be tricky for beginners. But you need to be a resource for each other. And you need to ask for help from your friends.
Good luck!Roy Blumenthal blogs at Coffee-Shop Schmuck.
Technorati Tags: resume
, curriculum vitae
War is a destroying force that has been hindering prospects of development in many African countries and over the world. It has taken hope away from our countries by recruiting young teenage soldiers just like these two pictures.
If yesterday only dictators were spending billions for war-related needs, the current trend is that developed countries have taken the shift. I am not the right person to tell how much Bush spent in Afghanistan and Iraq ($ 45.3 billions were budgeted for 2006! http://www.clubconspiracy.com/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=1445
Most of African leaders that invested much in military spending have passed away, but as if history teaches nothing, some current presidents are following the very same path. The motives behind their behavior are always greed, gluttony, megalomania, and delusions of grandeur. Mobutu (find his profile on http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761578969/Mobutu_Sese_Seko.html
) is one of them, at least the one that I know better since he ruled my country for 32 years. The guy always argued that ‘Zairians (Congolese) owe me everything’. He instituted the law of jungle and ruled by force.
On the other hand, being endowed with natural resources brought misfortunes on certain countries. Liberian and Sierra Leonean diamond, Iraqi gas, Angolan diamond, as well as Congolese diverse wealth are roots of what we coin in civilized words civilian wars and genocide.
When coming to colonize DRC, Belgians for instance clearly stated ‘this is a geological scandal’. And for 5 decades, the Belgian King had DRC (a country 80 times bigger than his) as his own property. Unfortunately after the colonial looting citizens did worse.
What most of them forget is that, there is no harmful situation as feeling that you are missing your family or you will never see them anymore. Some finally came to understand only after a coup was inflicted to them. They never cope with exile.
Just like a plant, human beings seeking for asylum or refuge as well as displaced need their homeland to blossom. Being uprooted from homeland where one belongs has turned to a nightmare for some.
The wealth that was supposed to help us build Africa serves to oppose brothers. As a result, African diamonds and gold end up in Beyrouth, Tel Aviv, or Brussels at the expense of African sons and daughters that are buried. (http://mondediplo.com/2000/06/02sierraleone http://www.un.org/peace/africa/Diamond.html
Genocide and atrocities (such as disemboweling pregnant women, crushing living babies, raping women, and burning villages) have affected young generations by leaving indelible traumas. Most of these scenes were kept far from media broadcasting, but the wounds they caused are very alive in many and tough to tell.
This is a painful and terrifying experience no one wishes to revive. What Africa needs today is ‘ubuntu’, that consciousness that we are humans, and as such we need to unite and care for each other. That is the basis for building a sustained ‘amani’ (peace) and secure development for next generations.
Contradictory, when diamond fuels wars elsewhere in Africa, Botswana the world’s largest producer of diamond is a very good example stability, peace and growth (http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/courses/306/africa_diamond_wars1.htm
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Rich...! is a dude you can learn from. His company -- Missing Link -- walks the talk. When you leave their premises, if you're not wild about that company, it's probably cos you're a walking dead person.
I first came across them when I was directing a tv series about the Open Source movement (you can download the series via bit-torrent). At that time, they had skateboard ramps all over their offices, with okes actually skateboarding on them. And because of that first impression, I've been yearning to work with them for ages (and we have indeed done some work together), and I've been spreading their name far and wide.
Here is some core thinking from Rich...! on using excellence as your starting point, adding uniqueness and memorability as your differentiator. Pay attention to this post. It'll make you rich. (Or Rich...!)
How to differentiate your company. by Rich...! at Missing Link
So here's the trick as I see it. People need to stop trying to differentiate simply on the product alone. They should just differentiate (like these guys).
Let me use our company as a case-study here. I own a presentation firm, our client's are big corporate companies, in theory they just come to us for presentations i.e. we're not a "creative" company as such. However when they come, we have a rule, and every employee knows it:
When someone visits our office we have to make such an impression that people talk about us at home later, not just at their office.
So we collect em in a stretch limo with hot-rod flames, we have no corporate ID, but collectable business cards (here's one). My desk is a queen-sized bed, D'ave has a coffin for his, we have a beach in the office, clients get doggy bags when they leave, and there are lots of other little things.
None of this has anything to do with our product though.
Here's the secret, the product rocks, it has to, but it doesn't matter if they talk about the product or not, as long as they talk about us.
The human brain likes to compartmentalise things, so we set out to make an impression, a big one. That big impression gets tagged "presentation guys" in our client's mind. Later when they chat to someone about presentations, that tag sets of an alarm and our guy will say, "You just have to chat to this crew, they're really good, and crazy too, they..."
So make sure your product is better than good enough, then differentiate on the simple day-to-day things that no-one else bothers with. Our visitors apologise that their business cards are so dull. That's a cool conversation to have.
This post is not about us though, promise. It's about you.
Change the mundane...!
Post inspired by Richard
Posted by Rich...! | Permalink
Roy Blumenthal blogs at Coffee-Shop Schmuck.
Technorati Tags: rich...!, missing link, presenting, marketing, differentiation
writes about delivering presentations on his blog, Presentation Zen
. Here, he looks at how 'you can be like Steve Jobs' (the main honcho at Apple). His main point? When you're presenting, be more yourself and less the expectation of what a presenter should be. Being you is the key to conveying your passion.
Technorati Tags: garr reynolds, presentation zen, presentation, powerpoint, present
The blog entry is reproduced from: http://presentationzen.blogs.com/presentationzen/2006/04/advice_for_conf.html
by Garr Reynolds
Today in Business Week Online, presentations coach, Carmine Gallo, has an interesting article on Steve Jobs' acclaimed presentation skills called How to Wow 'Em like Steve Jobs.
I've talked about Jobs' presentation style a lot on this site, more than any other prominent business figure. He's the best. (Gallo also highlights many other great communicators, including Jobs, in an older BussiessWeek article called The Great Communicators.)
I don't suggest you necessarily "be like Steve." Instead I suggest you "be yourself." But -- and it's a big but -- that's easier said than done. In front of a large audience most people have a difficult time being that clear-thinking, interesting, charismatic person they are in small meetings and personal conversations. What Steve Jobs does so well, then, is to appear relaxed, natural, and enthusiastic on stage (without having to jump around). He appears absolutely confident, focused and in control, and yet warm, human, and approachable. Audiences respond well to this kind of speaker. The key is not to "be like Steve," but to be like that interesting, engaging person that you actually are.
Below are the five key points made by Gallo in the BusinessWeek article (in bold). I've added my comments under each of Gallo's points.
"Sell the Benefit"
Do not only give the "what" (statistics, features, etc.) but the "so what." Sell the meaning. Ask yourself: Who cares? Why is this important? What's it all mean?
"Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More"
A lot of practice will allow you to appear more relaxed, confident, as well as conversational and spontaneous (yet organized and focused). Practice helps you nail your story, cut out the fat, and speak more extemporarily on your key points during the presentation. Practice gives you the confidence to go more fully naked.
"Keep It Visual"
Slides and other visuals should help you make your point easier to grasp quickly and retain for the audience. Don't get bogged down in nitty-gritty details on a slide -- we're lucky if our audience remembers two-three key ideas from our talk the next day. There's no point drowning them in superfluous details. Focus on what is most important. Remember, complex graphs, table, etc. usually work better in your takeaway documents.
"Exude Passion, Energy, and Enthusiasm"
If you are asking people to sit for 20 minutes or an hour for your talk, it must be important. Right? And if it's important, you sure as heck must have a passion for the subject. Show that energy, show your enthusiasm. If it were only about giving information, sending a well-written document may be more effective. But it is not only about the transfer of information, it is about selling your ideas. And that selling is done better live. Non-verbal communication is powerful; don't waste the opportunity to make a real connection.
"And One More Thing..."
Here Carmine Gallo is talking about Steve Jobs' tendency to have surprises in his talks, especially at the end. A sort of "save the best for last." Audiences generally love little surprises and they are hoping to learn something new or to be unexpectedly inspired. Never be afraid to delight or to surprise, and always finish big. Conference presentations usually have a Q&A session near the end. Fine. But do not end on that. Take the last few minutes to drive your point home again in a different way such as with a relevant short story, amazing photograph or statistic, etc. Finish big with a "one more thing" not with a "well, that's all folks..."
You say it's not the same thing. You say it's easy for Jobs because his audiences love him. Yes, he has fans. But most people in your audience, too, want you to succeed. They want you to do well. Why would they want to waste their time watching a failure? Who's got time for that? Sure, they may be skeptical or hard to convince, but your enemy they are not. Also, in Jobs' case, the bar is high and the audience's expectations are higher because Jobs is always competing with his last excellent presentation. Unfortunately, a lot of conference presentations are mediocre at best and the bar of expectations is rather low. But this is good news for you. Be engaging, be clear, concise, and relevant and you just may standout above all others. So next time you speak at a conference, why not put your audience first and make a stab at being "insanely great." It's worth a shot, isn't it?
Thanks to Blackfriars Communication for the Businessweek article link.
Friday, April 07, 2006
Research has indicated that in Africa the majority of HIV positive adults are women mostly between the ages of 15 -24 than men of the same age group. Women are disproportionately affected by HIV in multiple ways due to the influence of gender and other cultural factors. HIV related risks are greatest in situations where women are socialized to please men and defer to male authority. Traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, the lack of social support for single women, vaginal tightening which increases friction and may cause tears and abrasions during sex, wife inheritance, rape or violence contribute greatly to the vulnerability of women to HIV/AIDS.
The African epidemic is understood as one in which women especially poor women are significantly more vulnerable to HIV infection than men. Such vulnerability is based on biology and the lower social status of women. Women subjected to sexual abuse, often finding themselves in coercive sexual relations, unable to insist on condom use and frequently remaining faithful to abuse by partners who are not www.undp.org/hiv/publications
. In areas where virginity testing has become commonplace like here in South Africa, young women may be engaging in unprotected anal sex. The rise of such cultural practices has been accompanied by a corresponding rise in infection rates in girls of the relevant group www.aegis.com/news/suntimes
. In some parts of Africa, women can be beaten for suggesting a condom, for refusing sex, and being found or suspected of having another partner www.hrw.org/campaigns/women/aids/factsheet
It is important to interrogate gender or the ways in which men and women are socialized in trying to understand how the disease is pursuing its trajectory in the African population. Research and intervention programmes are needed for both men and women to solve problems that may arise from methods that may be used to prevent HIV/AIDS.
Since South Africa reached democracy, it has embarked on a great national project for growth with the aim of alleviating poverty, creating jobs and growth. But honestly speaking, there has been very few jobs created. While in some economical sector the country is doing well, it is still lagging behind developed countries as the growth is too slow to lessen poverty and unemployment.I read somewhere on the internet that according to economist, this country should grow by at least 5% – 6% a year to absorb job seekers. It is believed that this economic growth will stimulate investment and make it worthwhile for companies to employ people.
http://www.southafrica.info/doing_business/economy/fiscal_policies/labour.htm I believe that in the beginning the country did well when it launched programmes that address the poor people's needs. As a sequel the economy turned up well and many foreigners started pumping money into the economy. But the problem with these investors is that they have a short-term effect in South Africa. They only want to market their products and seldom buy South Africa's bonds. In terms of long- term goal, they are very careful when it comes to transferring technology and employing people. Another problem is that social programmes are paid for by productive workers, but in South Africa most people are not working. Thus it is not easy for the economy to support the social programmes. The wage structure is also contributing negatively. Because unskilled workers are priced out off the job market, this causes some of the households to receive very little income. Crime is also hitting negatively on social programmes. Crime imposes directly on financial and emotional costs and indirectly on tourism and investment attraction.There are areas that require urgent attention in order to have effective growth programme in South Africa. South Africa needs to restructure their investment and privatisation programme for foreign investment. The country still needs to deal with the level of crime and the discrepancies in wage structure. Lastly, more effort should be structured in enhancing skills in South Africa.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Whenever I feel disoriented, a game of chess brings me back to my usual senses. As I pondered over my next move after a two game thrashing by my dear wife, I remembered the therapeutic session we had with Tracy Rowe of Investec before she gave us very useful tips on professionalism. This was a day after an enlightening and brilliant talk from robust Kuseni Dlamini.
Telling one’s story, what they call narrative therapy, is crucial in expunging pent up emotions. Colleagues went on about imprisonment, working as barmen, sad childhoods, exciting moments in life as well as embarrassing moments, shattered dreams and faded hopes(Joseph, I still hope that one day, I will be as prolific a striker as Samuel Eto’o). However, an aura of optimism amidst a dark past was enveloping throughout.
What struck me most was Pascalia’s story, which was my story, this time not in Zimbabwe but in Kenya. Interestingly though, these two countries share a common colonial legacy… settler colonies, armed resistance and suffered the direct rule under Her Majesty. It is no coincidence that both countries have produced leaders who leave a lot to be desired; Uncle Bob (Robert Mugabe) and Uncle Dan (Daniel arap Moi). The two leaders’ difference is only in academic qualifications with one being a man of letters while the other should have stuck to his initial calling…. goat herding (guys I have nothing against goats; the meat is quite tasty!!).
Sticking to the narrative therapy, I remember my other job (colleagues, forget about the barman story for now) as an intern when I was in my 2nd year at varsity at the premier human rights organization in Kenya. Brilliant boy, from the university, my first task was to type a letter. Had I seen computers…yes. Did I know how to use them…? Never. It took me a whole day to type a one page letter on MS Word (holy heavens, and here I am blogging!! Or is it bragging?!).
Sounds more like Pascalia’s story, not so? Over the three months, I was able to overcome challenges and when our university acquired Internet facilities, I was in the forefront of utilizing to the maximum the facility. Three years down the line, I was teaching Information Technology for the Humanities to undergraduate students at Wits University (yes, Wits, Johannesburg). Cutting a long story short, I think the computer challenges we faced just show how education systems can be inadequate, but again, computer facilities only held sway in Africa less than a decade ago (we were born at theh wrong time?!). It is encouraging that today’s kids are computer whiz- kids (I still learn a few computer tricks from my 14yr old nephew in Kenya). Given the life stories of the Zimbabwean and the Kenyan, (I’m sure there are worse stories we can get from both countries), we have endeavoured to overcome all these challenges, ranging from bad governance, to economic mismanagement, low levels of technological developments, etc. Surely, there is hope for Africa.
What is expected of us, as Kuseni Dlamini aptly puts it, is to transform from being consumers of knowledge to producers of knowledge. Experiencing life outside our depressing domains is a step towards embracing globalisation, a modern day reality; realizing the malfunctional systems which are our origins, embracing the fastidious life of more industrialized nations and producing knowledge which will uplift the horrible living conditions of our people is the important cycle of globalisation; local to regional to global to local…ad infinitum. We should think and act local, regional and global simultaneously.
… and I made my next move, but was checkmated by the accomplished chess player, my lovely wife. I was to avenge for the defeat in a three game-win in a row the next day against some anonymous chess player (we are living in a global village, aren’t we?) on http://www.chessanytime.com/
. The player might have been Garry Kasparov…who knows!!!
Water is an essential commodity, as Cyrille Mutombo suggested in his article Water in Africa. In 1996 South African government adopted GEAR as new economic policy. This policy included privatisation of government services such as water. The idea behind the privatisation of water is that in the townships people were not paying for water, because they could not afford or simply because of the culture of non-payment.
Access to water is right to all South Africans, those who can afford to pay and those who can not. However it becomes a problem for service providers to serve a good service if communities are not paying for the services, since they depend on water payments to do so. For instance they need to pay municipal workers, to fix the infrastructure and other things. This statement can justify the privatisation of water.
At the same time what about those people who can not afford to pay for water, because they are unemployed. I know that the government supports those households by giving them 6000 litres of water per month. But I do not think that it is enough, because most of black South African households you can find more 10 people living in the same households. Tell me what 6000 litres of water can do for them?.
I know water has been wasted before especially, in the areas where water was not paid before, but I believe that government could help those areas by teaching them how to save water and also introduced flexible ways of paying for water. Water is an essential commodity and no one can survive without it. The privatisation of water would force people to live in the unhealthy environment, such as untidy toilets.
We all have great need for water; however water should be treated with care ad respect, because it is a scarce commodity
Hugh Macleod on how blogging makes you powerfully viral in the real world
Now this post
by Hugh Macleod
is one mighty important post to bloggers. Very very important. Cos it's about HOW blogs work IN THE BACKGROUND.
Hugh's saying something vital.
I'll paraphrase him in my terms: 'If you have a very good blog, high quality, informative, and you post often, and you have a commitment to excellence, then there are three major consequences: (1) Your blog will display your skills to the world and show how good you are at what you do; (2) You become someone that other people can recommend; (3) You become someone who can recommend people to people.
Here's the post in HIS words:
on becoming more viral in the offline world...
Had an interesting conversation with Anu Gupta yesterday, all to do with how blogs make people more viral, even in the offline world.
Take HR, which is Anu's profession. I know very little about HR. What I know about HR could could probably be written on the back of a postcard.
So let's say I'm talking to some hotshot at a cocktail party, and he mentions he's looking to hire someone in HR.
As I know nothing about HR, nor do I know anyone in that profession very well, in the pre-blog world I would probably have just gone, "Sorry, can't help you", and quickly have changed the subject.
But with blogs I can tell the hotshot, "Well, there's this guy named Anu Gupta that works in HR. Don't know much about him. Met him once or twice before. Nice guy. Seems pretty bright. Here's his link. Maybe talk to him etc."
Suddenly a connection between the hotshot and Anu is made, without the bridge (i.e. me) having had to risk any of his (my) social capital, via making the recommendation.
In other words, the better your blog, the less qualified I have to be to recommend you. The easier and less socially risky it is for me to spread your story. Because all I have to do is give the guy your link, and hopefully your blog does the rest.
And if the same is true for everyone else who knows you, suddenly, like Anu, you've become a lot more viral.
Which surely is a good thing, right?
Roy Blumenthal's blog is Coffee-Shop Schmuck
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Globalisation and development
About ten years ago, third world and developing countries did not want accept globilasation. They wanted to reject it because they felt that the Super powers wanted to further their dominance and influence on third world and developing countries and opress them further economically andpolitically. Few years later, developing and third world countries realised that in order for their economies and politics to improve they had to join the game and catch up very quickly in order for them to survive the changing world.
I think that I can link globalisation to development because of the constant change of technology, for instance only few people post their letters by the post office and jobs are also applied through the internet. These days people use emails and so on to communicate with world, therefore one of significant changes is that peolpe must be copmuter literate in order for them to survive the changing world. Most of us were touched and motivated by Ghadijha Vallie to be invloved in cour communities on order to help them develop and catch up with rest of the continent. In my community I know that a lot of people are still not computer literate yet there are a lot of internet cafes. I realized that even though a lot of people in townships are now becoming computer literate, there is still the older generation who were not fortunate to be taught computers and therefore they are not going to fit in this evolved world.
I can safely say that I have discovered an area that needs to be develpoed in my community, and I will make a change, even though it is going to be difficult for me since I do not have a computer myself, but I am going to take one step at a time and see what I can change or help to develop in my community.
Monday, April 03, 2006
The presenter this morning, Andrew Hofmeyer, observantly stated that we are “nice people with wonderful intentions and unlikely to get a job.” While he wasn’t trying to be negative, his first impression of us is probably what most employers think.
Leslie Emmanuel stated that in the world of work perceptions = reality. She stressed this point in her business writing skills session because she wanted us to understand that the simplest of writing material (emails, cover letters, CVs) create perceptions about how professional and conscientious we are as potential employees.
After last week’s presentations we need to consider something important: there are perceptions about us (Arts and Humanities graduates) that our heads are stuck in the clouds because we are:
· too theoretical;
· we do not have the practical skills needed for the world of work;
· and, worst of all, we are idealistic.
This equation “perceptions = reality” does not only apply to writing professionally, I want us to consider that in the world of work this equation is one of the reasons why we as “theoretical idealists” cannot get work. The perceptions which I stated above unfortunately work against us. Apparently, we are people that cannot make the transition from student to worker.
How can we change these perceptions? Indicated by our team blog and being in this programme with you the last three weeks, we are people that are passionate about the progression and development of Africa and we have innovative thinking about how this process should happen. We need to update the narrow perceptions about students coming from humanities. We need to sell the fact that development in this country and in the rest of the continent will not be successful without critical thinking and visionary minds like ours.
My favourite session so far was on Thursday with Ghadija Vallie, such a visionary. Looking at your faces during her discussion I could see that she really gave us inspiration and confidence in our abilities to be a force in our world. She gave us some powerful instructions: be innovative, be a visionary, be self-motivated, be passionate and be humble.
Andrew Hofmeyer wanted us to see that we can create our own opportunities by being conscious of ourselves (i.e. our skills) and what we can contribute to the world of work.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” ~ Margaret Mead
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Investment in Africa worthwhile
In my previous post on the World of Work Team blog, I wrote about the importance of South African business and their effects on the rest of Africa. The question that I raised was whether these companies are a force for good or bad. But you ask yourself, why should South Africa be the one to be a force for good in Africa? Let me briefly explain this:
- South Africa (SA) can unlock Africa’s vast economic potential.
- SA is the economic powerhouse of Africa - our economic and environmental infrastructure is much more sophisticated, advanced and diversified.
- We are not as reliant on commodities, and we’ve got a strong manufacturing and industrial base.
- European and American activities in Africa are mostly only limited to petroleum, mining and construction (SA can fill that gap).
- SA expands itself further into non-traditional sectors (unlike most African countries).
SA’s good global reputation can rub off on Africa.
There are many aspects why Africa has found itself in this predicament of poor sustainable development and slow growth. These reasons differ from country to country, but overall, Africa needs this help because of the following reasons:
- Africa provides 1.5% to the global GDP, and 2.1% to global trade. But Africa makes up 13% of the world’s population.
- Some comparative examples: Spain’s GDP = $ 580 billion (Bigger than Africa’s GDP).
Pentagon budget = $ 400 billion (Slightly smaller than Africa’s GDP).
- Africa is in a marginal position and has a pessimistic stance towards the rest of the world.
- World investment is weary (due to corruption, high business costs etc.).
Considering these impacts, it is obvious that South African businesses should get involved in the development of Africa. It will help liberalise their productive forces, SA business will put some profit into social investment, there will be a transfer of skills, improvement of quality, and most of all a increase in SA Foreign Direct Investment into Africa.
There are some areas where Africa has already shown improvement. These improvements are reason enough to not doubt the effect of business integration into Africa. These improvements are the following:
- Even though there is still high risks involved, returns are quite high.
- Sometimes returns on investment can be between 50-60 %.
- Policies and regulations are improving and countries are becoming more transparent and accountable.
- There is more privatisation.
- Two-thirds of African governments have been democratically elected and there are many anti-corruption committees.
- There are high returns on equity.
- There is a big move towards membership in international organisations. The WTO already has about 40 African members.
With the help of South African companies and the improvement Africa has shown in the past couple of years, its only a matter of time that Africa could become the ideal business-friendly environment. We’ll just have to wait and see.