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Posts Tagged ‘Africa

Coke in Africa

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Often, in conversation about medical drug distribution, Coca Cola is idolized for its ability to deliver its products to the most remote locations. Certainly, Coke’s distribution network is impressive.  As this story from a recent Business Week edition suggests, Coca Cola is pursuing a strategy that is inclusive of local micro-vendors in Africa.

Kingori’s sundry store—known locally as a “duka“—also sells plastic buckets and mattresses, and is no larger than a small bedroom. Her Gold status brings benefits, like an introduction to Coke’s globally standardized selling techniques. She’s urged by Coke to promote combo meals to boost profits, and so red menu signs supplied by the beverage company suggest a 300-milliliter Coke and a ndazi, which is a kind of greasy donut, for 25 Kenyan shillings. Coke also paid for the red refrigerated drink cooler at the entrance to the shop, which is protected by a blue cage. She’s told to keep it full to draw attention, and to stock it according to a diagram inside: Coca-Cola always at the top, Fanta in the middle, large bottles on the bottom. At stores down Naivasha Road, and throughout the continent and the rest of the world, Coke fridges are stocked in similar fashion.

Coca-Cola teaches these mini-distributors everything about how to run a business—from things as simple as waiting until the midday rush before icing down the Cokes to save resources to how to buy a house with their newfound wealth.

via Longreads


Written by Niall

May 29, 2011 at 11:04 am

Posted in Africa, Kenya

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African Broadband Speed Classifications

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There is a lot of excitment and even more potential from fibre cables encircling Africa.  Currently, the download speeds suggest three groups of countries.

1) Fast, but sporadic – Ghana and Rwanda are the high achievers, basically at US circa 2008 speeds.

2) Moderate, with steady growth: Kenya stands out, but like Uganda and South Africa, it is exemplary of a rather constant growth rate since 1999. Namibia, though showing lower speeds, has also demonstrated stable growth during the same period.

3) Still slow – All other countries are below 1500 kbps. Ignoring some early data noise in Malawi and Madagascar, only Botswana has demonstrated speeds near 2000kbps.

Will there is a bit of oversimplification,  these groupings should help us to understand what policy should focus on. For group 1, it’s suring up stable connection speeds. Group 2, it’s maintaining stead growth rates or achieving a positive shock (EASSy or SEACOM improvements) to get to the level of Group 1. For Group 3, where infrastructure is thinnest, the focus may still be to focus on connectivity.

Zimbabwe and Mozambique don’t fit nicely into any of these categories. Zimbabwe’s data speeds are strikingly low pre-2011, possibly a change in data collection techniques or correlated with the opening of the economy? And Mozambique has progressed and regressed constantly

HT kenyanpundit

Written by Niall

May 25, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Posted in Africa

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Soul Power

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This documentary looks awesome:

Zaire ’74 almost didn’t happen. The festival was “a fool’s mission” from the start, said Stewart Levine…When Mr. Levine heard about the boxing match in Zaire, he said by telephone from Los Angeles, “it just hit me — how about a music festival?”

…The government of Zaire subsidized the boxing match; Zaire’s dictator,Mobutu Sese Seko, wanted to burnish his country’s image. But Zaire would not finance the festival. So Mr. Levine rounded up backing from bankers in Liberia…

…With contacts at ABC, Mr. Levine said, he prevailed on the sportscaster Howard Cosell to hold back for 24 hours the news that the fight had been postponed, lest the American musicians stay home. He was also lucky, he said, that it was Rosh Hashanah, and many of the performers’ managers were observing the holiday.

…Many of the performers and Mr. Ali himself are shown as starry-eyed about Africa. Mr. Withers, who was well-traveled after nine years in the Navy, was more levelheaded. “I felt like a very privileged person in an unprivileged setting,” he said. “This Mobutu guy, this dictator — that didn’t cheer me up, the disparity in the wealth. There seemed to be a large gap between the chosen people that were around him and everybody else.”

Seems like a must see.

Written by Niall

July 5, 2009 at 11:02 am

When the History of the Development Debate is Written…

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…this paragraph from Michela Wrong’s It’s Our Turn to Eat should figure prominently when reflecting on the first half of this decade:

By the turn of the century, Western policy in the developing world was increasingly being set not in ministeril offices but by NGOs – organizations like Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid. The Make Poverty History campaign, pushing for the cancellation of Africa’s foreign debt and dramatic increases in Western aid levels, was gathering momentum. Jeffrey Sachs, the brilliant American economist who campaigned in favour of a massive hike in funding, appeared to have won the emotional, if not the intellectual, argument. Other analysts might shake their heads at Sach’s simplistic formula for the continent’s recovery, but he had successfully wooed pop-star campaigners like Bono and Sir Bob Geldof, and their abilty to mobilise a younger generation bored by traditional politics awed Western governments. Whether on the right or the left, political parties realised that promising to ‘save’ Africa was a potential vote winner in the eyes of an idealistic coming generation. No wonder members of the African elite, aware of these pressures, sometimes sounded unappetisingly smug when contemplating tortured Western attitudes to the continent. As one Kenyan newspaper editor told me: ‘What we Africans have realized is that your leaders need to lend to us more than we need to be lent to.’

See Chris Blattman’s review of the book.

Written by Niall

June 27, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Book release anticipation: William Kamkwamba’s Story

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Not published until September 29 of this year, William Kamkwamba’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (with Brian Maeler), is already on my reading list.

William, already a top blogger in Southern Africa, provides an example of an inventor and a man with a spirit for making dreams reality. I predict that it will be a worthwhile read for anyone interested in development, Arfica and invention. The power of human ngenuity should be a motivation for all of us who strive to improve living conditions throughout the world.

William’s home town is in Kasungu, Malawi, where I do a lot of my work. I hope to meet him once he returns to Malawi after an international tour of engagements.

Here is the twitter feed for The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: http://twitter.com/malawindmilbook

And here is a short clip of William at TEDTalks.

Written by Niall

June 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm

“If you fight corruption, it fights you back.”

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Quoted from a recent article by Celia Dugger on corruption in Africa.

I am currently reading Michela Wrong’s It’s Our Turn to Eat, a thoroughly engaging account of John Githongo’s life and struggle to fight corruption in Kenya. This is by far one of the best books on contemporary African politics. In particular, it provides a very accessible introduction to Kenyan politics.

Githongo is one of the modern-day heros of Africa. Former head of Transparency International-Kenya, he was picked by an incoming President Mwai Kibaki in 2003 to be the anti-corruption head for the Kenyan government. Up against inertial tendencies toward graft and shady deals, Githongo quickly realized that the plague of corruption was deeply seeded in the upper echelons of Kenyan officials. Refusing to play the puppet, Githongo pursued a strategy of collecting evidence against fellow government officials by recording audio tracks of meetings. Carrying these tapes and other evidence with him, Githongo went into self-imposed exile in London.

In Dugger’s article, Githongo (now back in Kenya) is quoted:

“Going after big fish hasn’t worked,” he said. “The fish will not fry themselves.”

Written by Niall

June 21, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Africa, Kenya

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Travel items for Africa

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Over at White African, there is a valuable list of items to bring along during travel in Africa.

The following are the five items that I have with me in Malawi that I have repeatedly thanked myself for bringing:

  1. Rechargeable batteries. Whether they be AA or AAA, batteries in Malawi are ridiculously expensive (once you exclude the generic Chinese “Tiger” batteries that last about 2 hours on a GPS unit).
  2. African history books. I get most of my contemporary African history from online sources, but nothing online can replace the in-depth and detailed histories laid out in some of the 600+ page histories of the African continent and its peoples.
  3. Ultra-light backpack. This is
  4. Netbook. This is a recent addition to my collection and probably one of the most useful items while doing field work.
  5. Comfortable shoes. Walking is inevitable. Might as well be soft on the soles.

The two most important tools I can advise to anyone traveling or working in Africa are not material items, however. Patience and curiosity get you further and provide greater rewards than anything you could pack in a suitcase.

ht to Kim.

Written by Niall

June 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Posted in Africa

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