Sunday, April 29, 2007

G. Kofi Annan on Advertisers Ignoring Africa. «

G. Kofi Annan on Advertisers Ignoring Africa. « "G. Kofi Annan on Advertisers Ignoring Africa.

Posted by beninmwangi on April 29th, 2007

A few minutes ago I came across a post on Kofi’s blog entitled, “African’s Aren’t Affluent Enough” this post challenged me personally to do more to help “update” public perceptions of Africa.

Here is an excerpt:

“…I was speaking to an acquaintance last week and she told me a story about trying to get advertisers for her magazine. She had contacted a large Africa-based corporation to see if they would be interested in taking up an ad in her publication. After getting the runaround, the ad agency, which was handling the ad placements for the corporation, told her, “We only place ads in publications with an affluent readership…”

I have to admit the first time I read this post, my initial reaction was anger at the company who chose to reject the magazine’s ad proposal. Incidentally, my gut feeling is that I may know the magazine that Kofi is talking about and if it is so, the magazine that Kofi mentions is very well put together.


Sunday, April 22, 2007


Hi, I just wanted to let you know that editing and authoring this blog up until now has been a labor of love. Since setting this blog up on the blogspot platform, there has been this desire to do something on wordpress. That time, I believe has come. Starting this week you will probably begin to notice that most of my blogging activity is taking place on rather than here on the blogspot blog. Also, I have not exactly decided what to do with this blog, if you have any suggestions please feel free to let me know. And by all means you are invited to .

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bringing Agriculture in Africa Back!

courtesy of:
The African Executive

This article grabbed my attention because it reminded me a lot about an opinion piece that I had written for Kenya Empowerment News. The article that I read in the African Executive highlights the phenomena of agriculture suddenly becoming unpopular amongst Africa's younger generation of business persons. Whereas, my article talked about how the same thing is happening in Kenya.

On one hand, it is easy for me to understand why this trend is on the rise in Africa, especially with all of the talk of high tech industries revolutionizing the way that business is done in Africa. However, when one considers the abundance of agricultural resources on many parts of the continent and the availability of unemployed labor. Add the those to variables the fact that south of the Sahara the vast majority of household income still comes from agriculture it would seem like more investment into agriculture, rather than less, should be the answer...

Below is an excerpt from the African Executive:

"...Robert Sabiiti, Agricultural Economist and Uganda’s representative in the UN agencies responsible for food and agriculture shares insights on the steps being taken by Uganda to popularise agriculture with Josephat Juma of The African Executive. Robert, who is currently in the Department of Agricultural Planning, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries offers perceptions about herbicide use.

Ghana’s President recently decried the unpopularity of agriculture among Ghanaian youth. What disincentives chase African University youths from Agriculture?

It is always important to remember that Africa is not homogeneous. It is characterised by different cultures and other socio-economic challenges. The disincentives range from a poor perception of agriculture to limited investment in the sector.

The low position that agriculture occupies in society even among the farming communities makes it unattractive to the young generation. The historic context of agriculture in Africa, in general, and Uganda, in particular, reveals that farming is a responsibility of the poor and uneducated. The majority view agriculture as an ignoble profession in which one should not be involved if there was an alternative. Most of the small scale farmers confess that they are unemployed..."
Next is an excerpt from my article:

"...if you decided to study these headlines, over time, then you may come to notice that writers seem to put a heavy emphasis on the nation’s more glamorous or let’s say exciting business industries or activities. This would tend to make one feel like Kenya’s business environment must be really, really diverse, after all out of all of these headlines only a few mentions agriculture. Even in our random conversations, I even noticed recently myself that it’s rare that I tell someone, “Gee, I think I want to start a farm in Kenya”. But don’t you think that in a way we are all doing this industry a disservice by forgetting about it so often..."
Again, the African Executive did a great service to the economies of Africa by focusing on this topic. It was really good how they touched upon several African countries througout their analysis. In fact, I believe that not enough could be said about the need for Africa's investors and business persons to invest more heavily in agriculture. Somehow, it seems that there is a need for this fact to be emphasized not just on the African continent, but even more so ( as Jurgen Nagler points out) in Europe and in the America's. With it perhaps more investment into Africa's agriculture and less trade barriers against agriculture from abroad would be a by-product. What do you think?

For some strange reason, prior to this visit to the African Executive, my idea of the site was that it was a human resources recruitment website. Wow, that could not have been further from the truth, as they are actually quite a pivotal African business media resource. So now that my understanding of what they do is a little bit clearer, thanks to Ken, I hope to become a much more regular visitor to their site. To the folks at the African Executive-great job!


Monday, April 16, 2007

Here's Something You Didn't Know...

This is from my myspace blog...

People always ask me what inspired me to get so involved in Africa or how did I wind up wanting to promote the African continent as a business destination.

This is a question that I get fairly often. Most of the time people from the States and sometimes every now/then from people that I meet and know from Africa. It seems like the questions, behind the questions could be "why should it matter that there are business opportunities and succesful entrepreneurs in Africa?" And "what do you know about Africa, anyway?" But, you background's not really in psychology or anything-thats just my take on these questions. Anyway though, this post is my round-about attempt at answering both questions. So comeon and let's see if we can really just rap a tad and get to the bottom of it all. Be forewarned though, it's a bit longish...Plus, ya know what..this is my myspace, so i'ma kick back and kinda lose the whole professional, academic, tie...the whole 9. So by the time we finish i'ma just have on my slippers, the robe, and oh can't forget the tank- top...cause right now thats just how we doin this today ya figga deal me, doh?Now the year was September 1995, I was like a 3rd year sophmore at Morehouse College (I had just changed my major from engineering to economics-smart move, aye?). More importantly, my path seemed paved for the road of tycoonship( ). You see at 20 years old my partner and I had already started our own real estate biz. We were'nt making any $$$ yet but everyday our rolodex got bigger and bigger. It really felt like the tipping point was right in front of us...And that's when it happened-my father found out that he had been chosen as a Fulbright Scholar to teach physics at some univeristy in Ghana, it was the University of Cape Coast, for like 17 months. He told me about it & and being the bad *#$@ that I was at the time, my thoughts were like... why you tellin me? To my Dad's credit, for the next one to two months he worked on my mind with subtle, yet persistant suggestions. For some reason, we just wudnt hearin it thouugh...Then he finally was like if you don't go you gon' regret it possibly forever. Hmmmmm. Ok, my thoughts were like OK, I'll keep that in mind. Timeout---You can probably surmise from my tone, that back then my Pops and I were not under the best of terms, lookin back on it guess it's kinda natural for a young brother growing up in America to feel that way, once he feels like he can make it on his own---Back to the story---But next he was like on top of you regretting it if you miss out on this opportunity if you don't go, I aint goin... now that was some psychology fo yo *&^$.

That day, changed my life forever, we made something kinda like a father and son agreement. Not gonna spill the beans on the contents here though, cause it's a lil' more personal. But, let's just continue, shall we? The next day I spoke to all of my professors and my student advisor to make sure that my student status would still be intact upon my return, which would be in a year. They assured me that not only would it be intact, but that since my father was going under the Fulbright Program, in essence I would be doing the same thing, plus on top of that since the University of Cape Coast had such a strong reputation, any classes that I took would count for the normal credit hours...Man this thing keeps getting better and better is what I was thinking (because to tell you the truth, even though my Dad and I had the talk, somethin in me was like-you can still back out if you want-NOT) that's when it hit me that the young lady who was kickin it wit me was in the dark. So I told her about it and back and forth, back and forth we kept goin on it. Cause we thought we was serious, ya knawmean? In the end we chose to stick it out and go the distance (technically we were already long distance deal to begin with-I was at the House' and she was at..umm...somewhere else-outta state). So, we were about to go from baby-maybe I'll see you on the weekend to like some ole- I'll be gone til November, type stuff . This was October 95'-I think..Anyway where was I??????????

Oh, fast forward to November 95'...Since my dad and I were supposed to leave for Ghana towards the end of November my proffessors all agreed to let me take my finals a lil' bit early. My recollection is that by the end of November everything was ready-my finals were complete, my father and I had taken our shots, physicals, passports, visas, then the goin away party, and all that other goodstuff.

So now, all we had to do was prepare our belongings for the long journey, that lay ahead. This took about another week, which worked out ah-ight, cause our departing flight was probably like that first week in December. Funny thing about it is even though it seemed like we had so much time and were so prepared on the day of the flight we were still runnin around like some headless chickens. Someone, who was helping us do like some final packing on the day of departice had noticed that there were a lot of opened packages in our luggages-you know like toothepaste, lip balm, hair pomade ( that was back when I had a full head of it). Our friend who just so happened to be from West Africa, was like where yall think you goin with dese opened packages....we was like-huh??? But what happened is we had overlooked the fact that U.S. customs & didnt allow those kinda things on international flights ( somethin to do w. international security.....). Inside the back of my mind was, "all these times Dad went to Africa (my father loves Africa and always has), how we gone forget this?" By the time we took care of it we were late for the flight. Matter of fact when we got to the gate the plane had already started pullin away from the terminal. We ran as fast as we could and the airline agent who was about to leave his podium somehow managed to stop the flight from leaving without us.

The flight was gruelling, from the time we left ATL. to the time we arrived in Ghana was like 24 hours-granted we had a 6 hr layover in Amsterdam-which we maximized to the fullest....[SIDENOTE: what started out for me as just a one year study abroad in Africa, slowly progressed into some real good bonding between me and my dad-it started in Amsterdam] by the time we arrived in Ghana we were so tired and dehydrated we didn't know how we'd even make it off the plane. But we did make it off...that was the beginning...will be continued...

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An Eternity!

Good Day!

To all of my beloved blog readers, it has been only two days since the last posts on The Benin Epilogue. To me it feels like those two days have been an eternity. Over the weekend I spent time with my family and come away feeling most rewarded.

Otherwise, I sincerely hope that this months posts have been enjoyable for you. I believe that we might have perhaps two to three more posts focusing on mainstream media from the African continent before moving on to my favorite part-the Africa bloggers, yey!!!

While we decide on which articles to focus on, thought it would be good to dedicate a post or two to someone who has influenced me a lot-my dad.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Kenyan Entrepreneur Provides An Innovative Solution to Local Market Challenges

I am not very sure the details of who provided and managed the production of this media. But I found it very intriguing. It is difficult for me to imagine coming up with such a creative solution. Below are the questions that I had.

What do you think about Antony Mwaniki's very forward thinking concept? Can this be the change in the employment market that Kenya and other African nations are looking for? Will this lead to a new market based industry in Kenya? Those are the questions that I had while watching this video. What do you think?

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Aliko Dangote! Nigeria: Tribute to Aliko Dangote at 50 (Page 1 of 2): "By all account, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who has just turned 50 years today, is an instant toast of writers and tribute-payers because there is much to say in admiration of this extra-ordinary personality. Even the most dyed-in-the-wool cynics will find something complimentary to say about the man, Aliko Dangote as the elements seem to be well-mixed in this one individual.

Unarguably, one risks the temptation of being carried away when faced with the task of paying tribute to such a celebrated personality, perfect gentleman and a personification of excellence. This notwithstanding, I hoplwill be able to unravel the inner man of the celebrant. A
Africa 2007

I was privileged to be appointed on the Board of Benue Cement Company Pic. three years ago as a representative of the Benue State Government and Dangote is the core-investor and Chairman of the Board. This brought me into contact with him, thus affording me the rare opportunity to study this remarkable genius from a close range.

Nigeria needs the likes of Aliko Dangote in various fields of endeavour politics. government, business and the society in general for us to be able to evolve a higher standard of public character essential for the moral growth of the society.


Tinapa Open for Business!

photo courtesy of: Akromose on Now Public

This is a brief run-down of an article that I read from the Vanguard News (Nigeria). For me what they were talking about in this article was so cutting edge and so inspiring that I was unable to stop reading this article. This article is an interview between Peter Egwuatu who is a Vanguard journalist and Mr. Sam Anani (CEO, Tinapa Business Resort Limited). Although the interview was a short interview with only seven questions, it was very packed with so much exciting information.

And did my eyes deceive me or did I get it correctly on the CEO saying that Tinapa will be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange? OK, now I know that Tinapa is a resort and a tourist center; but in the sense that it is also thought of in the same way that one might think of a city or a very large community this sounds really pioneering. In fact I've never heard of something like this happening-anywhere in the world.

Here are a few of the seven things that Peter asked Mr. Anani, which I thought were very insightful:

What has government put in place to make Tinapa function effectively?

How is the government going to generate revenue from Tinapa?

Now that there is erratic supply of electricity and you have decided to use independent power provider (IPP), how effective is it going to be?

courtesy of: Vanguard Online

In summary, this was an extremely important interview which was carried out almost to perfection. The only thing that I might have done differently is added some descriptive photos of the event. But again, in content and news worthiness on a scale from one to ten, with one being lowest and ten being highest, this story gets a nine or a ten in my books. But what do you think, though?

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Blogs That Make Us Think!

If there was ever a blogger whose posts have really "schooled me" on how a to build a community around your blog it would have to be Jim Walton. The thing that sticks out in my mind about him is that Jim knows how to keep his blog's community engaged in the whole blogging process. He is one of the best that I have seen at this and has been blogging for only a few weeks longer than me. Recently, in his post called "Thinking Blog Award" he acknowledged some blogs that make him think about deeper issues. The Benin Epilogue was one of the five blogs that he awarded and the prize is that we get to go out and do the same thing. So here it is...

These are some of the blogs that make me think:

Odegle on just another weekend in Nairobi...

Casthompson tells us to know when to holdem' and when to foldem'

DaveSpeaks about Jay-Z's impression of Hurricane Katrina via you tube

Mshairi uses prose and verses againgst the likes of Michael Richards

Sudanese Thinker sums up thoughts on those bad *&!@# kids!

So what do you think?

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West Africa Business Blogs -Global Voices

This is a small snapshot of my latest Global Voices post...

This week while perusing through the Africa business bloggers section of my RSS reader, I noticed a peculiar thing, or maybe this is not so peculiar. But I noticed that a large number of the business blogs that I have been reading lately are authored by writers of West African origins. Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon are some of the West African nations have been brought into the spotlight by West Africa’s business bloggers. Without delay let us begin by visiting a few of these bloggers.

The first that we shall look at is Emmanuel Oluwatosin. I first learnt about Emmanuel through the African Path. In his recent post, he urges readers to pay careful attention to the tenets of Mr. John D. Rockerfeller.

Emmanuel Oluwatosin of Nigeria writes:

…According to Nelson Rockerfeller, the one time Vice President of the United States, his father John D. Rockerfeller, Jr, gave each of his five sons an allowance “We got 25 cents a week, and had to earn the rest of the money we got.” To earn part of that extra money he raised vegetables and rabbits…” We always worked.

All the boys were required to keep personal daily account books. They were required to give 10 percent of their income to charity, to save 10 percent, and to account for all the rest.” They had to balance their account books every month and to be able to tell what happened to every penny they earned. The Rockerfeller kids were taught a specific pattern for dealing with their money. These are the Rockerfeller rules.

* Work for all you get
* Give away the first 10%.
* Pay yourself the next 10%.
* Live on the rest.
* Account for every penny…”

Africaincorp is a blog that I have been following for a few months now. This blog is written by an Ivorian blogger, Frederic Tape. He chronicles the story of an African entrepreneur who has recently launched an investment portal website:

"…Africanselect was “Launched in 2006 with the goal to go beyond just creating an awareness of African Stock Markets but also offer a technologically advanced platform that allows African and international retail and corporate investors to take part in investment opportunities across the continent.”

This business could be added to the likes of LiquidAfrica and The one question that has been raised during our team meeting was the following: how can such company leverage the aggregating power of social networks such as Facebook, MyspaceAfrica, Afriville, Myafricasite, Edumela and Hi5 among others to reach out to the huge number of young African professionals and entice them to find interest in the real estate, securities markets of Africa.

The reality is that many young individuals with disposal income, stay oblivious to the opportunities laying in the open in Africa. The incomes they generate in the western world is sufficient to make them potent players on these markets more so than in the American or European markets…"

For some reason, these round up posts are a lot of fun. And you know...most of the time I never know who will be the next subject of the round up until the moment of writing the post!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

On the Upcoming Launch of Enrique Pierre Clothing

This press release came to me by way of fellow Africa blogger Frederic Tape. Of course, we already knew what a wonderful blogger he is, writing with such flair and originality. But as it turns out, he is also quite the business person, as well and is involved with a fashion design company here in the States (Virginia) called Stockpile of Southern Urbanity Enrique Pierre Clothing.

Stockpile of Southern Urbanity Enrique Pierre Clothing ( is the new fashion concept that is set to land in the United States market. Enrique Pierre Clothing is the offspring of New entrants to the fashion industry Enrique Pascal & Pierre-Louis who fuse Southern comfy style with very avant-garde decorative designs.

EPC couples its fashion aptitude with affordable prices for its customers. ' The focus of our production is to attain quality on each piece of clothing, while maintaining low cost of production which translates into affordable pricing for our customers.' says Pierre
ECP's cofounder.

Prices range from 25 US Dollars to 50 US Dollars for the T-shirts which constitute the first collection of this effervescing clothing line.

'Colorful, vivid, gusto, and agreeable-such are the characteristics of the collection for this year. These are characteristics we share and want to incorporate in the collection' says Enrique ECP's main designer.

'The Collection will serve as a canvas to paint bits of stories in language that people can understand. We have a lot to share and the shirt collection will be a medium to express the colorful and wonderful scenes I see inside my mind' says Enrique Pascal.

The launch to the line will be during the summer 2007, starting with the women's collection.

The product lines will be targeted towards women who want refinement in simplicity. Additionally, the spokesperson for the company, Mr. Frederic Tape indicates that there is a good chance that some or most of their fabrics might be sourced from Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. Also it should be noted that he believes that, right now, the time is right for other urban designers to start seriously considering the African continent for fabrics. Mr. Tape stresses that whilst the fabric markets are still developing, both in finance and infrastructure, that the opportunities for urban designers may extend far beyond sourcing fabrics.

Also, we are working on setting up a phone interview with Mr. Tape which might focus on how such ventures could benefit fabric sourcing companies in West Africa...


Monday, April 09, 2007

Making the Grade: Timothy Bukumunhe of Sunday Vision

Have you ever played the game of imagining that you were in someone else's shoes? That being said, this post puts me in the mind of an investigative journalist, who by the way just so happens to be writing for the Sunday Vision in Uganda. Also, the name of the journalist whose article we are reviewing is Timothy Bukumunhe. So, if you would please join me and let us take a step back for a moment and imagine that we were journalists writing business stories for a relatively well known newspaper based in Uganda. Then imagine having to render, daily, the following rigors and deliverables.

1) An ever so demanding boss, who happily reminds you at every chance she gets that if you don't find a way to get her better stories (which she says leads to greater market share, which leads to greater ad revenue) every day within deadline by next week, then there will be someone to take your spot by Monday.

2) Your own desire to push the envelope and find creative ways to repackage business news in a way that makes it hard for the readers to lose interest.

3) That incessant need that most all professionals have to reach the pinnacle of success in their respective profession.

4) And live up to the standard of providing honest and responsible journalism [considering the effect the story will have on the people that you write about].

Now with those 4 points in mind let us evaluate this story, as if we were about to turn it in to our demanding editor. First, we wanted to do a story about the nation's government officials and their lavish business dealings but due to a lack of public information on that topic, this story was canned. So, in that story's absence we are putting together the next best thing. Something more akin to a who's who listing of the nations wealthiest and most successful business people. In a nutshell the story sets out to do two or maybe three things. First, to show the readers that there are many personal examples of market successes to be found within Uganda, in the form of a list containing the names of Uganda's top 134 entrepreneurs, executives, and NGO officers along with the organizations which they have helped to build. Second, to try to bring out the similarities between the nations top entrepreneurs, executives, and NGO officers. And third to rank these business people into different categories according to their relative position within Uganda's business circles.

Here is an excerpt from Timothy's article:

"...FROM real estate to mineral water: Who are the richest people in Uganda?

By INGENUITY, not industry, is the common characteristic of the people who have featured in our rich list. These people made money in everything from media and real estate to coffee, farming and road haulage. The list is not limited to Ugandans and it includes individuals and families born overseas, but who predominantly work and/or live in Uganda.

We have measured identifiable wealth, whether land, property or significant shares in publicly quoted companies and we have excluded bank accounts — to which we have no access.

Alooni Mwagalwa: Luweero-based Mwagalwa is the owner of Nakaseke International College, which is the largest private education institution in Luweero District. He also owns several businesses in Kampala and is an agent for Uganda Breweries

Elly Karuhanga: Word on the street is that one should never underestimate the honorary consul for the Seychelles. Karuhanga has a passion for the Sheraton Hotel, where perhaps most of his deals go down. In some circles, especially with investors, Karuhanga is known as ‘Mr. Fix it’. They say he knows how to open up doors and put you in contact with the right people. He was an instrumental figure regarding the visit to Uganda by the owner of Celtel, and for his services, it is said he was paid a six-figure sum in US dollars. He is a brilliant lawyer and a partner in Kampala Associated Advocates..."

courtesy of: Sunday Vision Sunday April 8, 2007

Putting myself in this person's shoes I could imagine all of the dedication and research that would have gone into finding the information on which to base the story. Not to mention the creativity involved in actually presenting the information and making it look appealing to the readers, who need I remind you get bored very easily. On top of the effort and creativity is the timeliness of the article, coinciding it with the recent stories of Uganda's growing investor confidence should put a big smile on the editor's face. Finally, the entrepreneurs themselves should be pleased that someone took the time to say all of these wonderful things about them, right?

So now, let us step back into our own selves again? How would you grade this journalist? If the grade scale was based upon the 4 points that we mentioned earlier, here's my assessment:

1) I think that Timothy's bossy editor could rest assured that the reach of this article is both deep and wide. Expanding the paper's market share deeper within the Ugandan business community, as well as outside of the country's borders.

2) The author of this article should be able to look back at it and feel further inspired to push the envelope even further. Just finding that many people to find detailed information on shows a level of patience that is commendable. Then when you consider that many journalists find a difficult time saying good things about one person and this fellow found motivation in 134 different individuals in one article-wow!

3) Again, the fact that Mr. Bukumunhe took the time to research and report his findings on such a large number of people is daunting. I could imagine that even if he was only able to meet 10% of these execs while writing this story that his career and business opportunities could have multiplied almost exponentially.

4) In living up to the standard of being a responsible journalist, I would give Timothy high marks. He gave the reader enough information about each subject without overloading us or infringing upon the personal rights or safety of any of them. This should be applauded.

In summary, if I were this journalist's editor I'd say that his job was safe for at least two more weeks :) Seriously, he gets an A for the effort, ingenuity, and creativity in my book. Also, I was happy that he did not publish the financial details of these business persons (for saftey and security reasons). Additionally, it is very easy for me to agree with him that a very common feature of Uganda's successful entrepreneurs is creativity, in fact this might be said of the successful entrepreneurs in any of the other nation's in Africa also. My only remark of constructive criticisms would be in perhaps providing the reader with a little bit more an introduction and backdrop regarding the celebration of entrepreneurship and investment in Uganda-as in the broader picture.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Africa Bloggers & Beyond-Hat Tips

Ordinarily, when I write a post on The Benin Epilogue about blogs that I visit, the focus is on Africa bloggers. But there have been some posts, which have kept me going back again and again. So it seemed only fair that in addition to giving recognition to the Africa bloggers, that some of the other blogs that I enjoy, that happen to be from other parts of the world be mentioned here also.

Africa bloggers:

Recently, Africa business blogger Emmanuel Oluwatosin's ( Nigeria) writing has caught my eye. And it's not that he's new either, to my knowledge he has been blogging for nearly two years. His blog focuses on entrepreneurship with a "how to" bend to it. Check out this post where he explains to would be entrepreneurs on how to find a start up concept!

Another blogger from West Africa, but who blogs from Ghana has also caught my attention. His name is Oluniyi David Ajao. Although he blogs from Ghana, he is also from Nigeria. His name came across to me by way of a comment that he posted on one of my Global Voices posts. This post where he talks about the perceived risks associated with online purchases, I thought was pretty original.

Gavin Chait, a South African business blogger had a very interesting post which almost relates to David Ajao's post. His post talked about how the lack of a credit agency for online purchases raises the costs of doing business on the Internet.

Bankelele is a banker who blogs from Kenya. This post where Kenya's banks are ranked according to their assets is quite insightful. Looks like there is quite a bit of banking competition in Kenya. Take a look for yourself.

Imnakoya is another Africa blogger (also from Nigeria) whose blog I frequent very often. In this post he explains how RSS feeds work and how they can turn out to be a great marketing strategy for news publications, especially Nigerian newspapers...

Ugo and Chika Okafor of Spectrum Women are yet two more Africa bloggers from Nigeria who have a very wonderful blog. In this post Ugo Okafor talks about the upcoming arrival of BHF magazine onto the Nigerian fashion scene.

Bloggers from Beyond...

Oh, I found lots of enjoyment in a post that was recently featured on Wayne Hick's blog. It is about a book called African American History for Dummies. What was most enjoyable to me was where he shared an invitation to bloggers to share a part of their family tree in their comments for this post. By the way you should see Wayne's profile on linked in, it reads like a who's who of American enterprise and small govt.

Tish is a blogger, out of New York City, whose blog I am also a bit new to. But it already seems that it will feature heavily in my daily blog travels. In this post she is talking about something that came across as quite cute. It's about an older blogger maybe an auntie or a grandma from Singapore (I believe), who has been climbing the blog popularity charts like crazy recently- check it out!

And rounding out our list is Theo, who publishes a podcast blog. Side note: his podcast promo is really cool. But in this post, he talked about US college sports icon Eddie Robinson and the legacy that he leaves behind.

Of course, I love your comments. But, if you can't comment at this particular time- but would like to let us know that you were here; please sign and View my guestbook


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Tremendous Resource!

Thanks to Imnakoya, I have been led to an amazing resource for anyone seeking to socialize and rub shoulders with African entrepreneurs.

Afrotalk - 2007 | Afrotalk: "Having completed our first full year, we are pretty proud of the progress we have made. We have approx 1,000 members and the site is averaging close to 1,000 unique visitors per day. The London section had 4 socials last year and raised over £2,500 for African Children's charities. Our Mothers of Afrikids microlending fund was is succesfully lending money to some of Ghana's poorest and stimulating micro enterprise succesfully. I have attached a report on its activities.

The world's view of Africa is conditioned by the media messages it receives and too often it is focused just on the negatives of war, corruption and starvation. All of us who involved in Africa know this is only part of the stort. It is Afrotalk's mission to spread the word that there is lots of good stuff going on. Africa is open for business and is actively making a positive contribution to the world.

If we have one message to our members, it is please take advantage of this site to post your positive messages, opportunities, to promote African events and news stories about Africa. Trade dwarfs aid in its importance in economic development. This site is all about exchanging skills, opportunities and information to encourage African businesses and investment in Africa."

Although I am just learning about it, already it seems like Afrotalk is an invaluable resource. So, I don't know about you, but my plan is o get more involved with Afrotalk-hope to see you there!


Friday, April 06, 2007

Thanks Theo!

Recently, I was tagged by podcaster Theo Johnson . Since this is my second meme post I will talk about my goals, as opposed to things that you might not know about me.

  1. To be a better Father to my daughter and husband to my wife this year.
  2. To become a better Christian, starting now!
  3. To become an authority on entrepreneurship in Sub Saharan Africa and build a brand around that expertise.
Now for the meme part.

Tag you are it:

David Ajao

Emmanuel Oluwatosin




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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Africa In the News Again..Two Stories, Two Realities, & One Continent

Two stories from two different and internationally renowned media houses, both about African economies, one bleak and one bright. One story by Thomas L. Friedman, acclaimed author of "The World Is Flat" talks about why Kenya could soon become an African tiger (economically speaking). The second story written by William R. Easterly, economist and the author of "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good" wrote about the economics of poverty in Africa.

Once again we are critiquing news stories from the West (the next story, I hope, will come from media in one of Africa's 53 countries), which focus in some way on business and the economies on the African continent. But instead of looking at just one story, we will be looking at two. The reasoning is that these two stories really seem like they may be intertwined. One starts in Ghana and the other in Kenya. And as we know, these two African nations are on opposite coasts and are opposite in many other ways, as well. However, there are a few similarities that the nations share. For instance, their independence came within very close time spans. Then their founding presidents, Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta were both very visionary leaders and they shared the idea that African nations should be freed from colonial authorities. Both nations have also had their shares of economic struggle, but one was from statism and while in Kenya it was from corruption. That may be where the comparisons will end. After independence however, the two nations took different paths at the proverbial fork in the road,which we shall call economic ideology. Ghana chose the route of a state directed economy, while Kenya treaded the path of a more open market economy. Now fast forward this picture to the current and the two nations seem to be once again on the path of convergence.

Now please note that these two articles are not making any comparisons, Thomas Friedman focuses on Kenya, while William Easterly starts in Ghana and attempts to aggregate this discussion to the whole of the continent. It is just for the purpose of discussing contrasts and parallels that we are mentioning the two within the same post. Here's an excerpt which summarizes Kenya's recent economic growth, as told by Thomas L. Friedman:

"...Kenya also now has a democratically elected government that is learning to get out of the way of Kenya 's entrepreneurs and to get them the bandwidth they need to compete globally. It's way too early to declare Kenya an economic ''African Tiger,'' but something is stirring here that bears watching..."

courtesy of: April 4, 2007 edition NY Times

Now here's an excerpt from William Easterly's article:

"...There is a sad law I have noticed in my economics career: the poorer the country, the poorer the economic analysis applied to it. Sub- Saharan Africa, which this month marks the 50th anniversary of its first nation to gain independence, Ghana, bears this out..."

Courtesy of: March 23, 2007 Oped column of The Wall Street Journal

So first, let us start with Mr. Friedman, his article was describing how with the help of one of it's newest industries-Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Kenya's economy is becoming more robust. He takes the story of homegrown Kencall, an outsourcing firm in Kenya, which started out as a sourced provider of telesales for America's late night infomercial inustry. He navigates the reader through the government regulatory hurdles that the company had to overcome to in order to set the stage for a competitive playing field. And look at Kencall now, they have gone from $0 to $ 3.5 m, in three years. In taking this single story and extrapolating it onto Kenya's broader political and economic scenery, he is essentially saying that with enough Kencall's or similar stories Kenya can become an economic tiger (I only wish that he would have used the cat that is native to Kenya and said lion, but hey guess you can't have your way all the time...). But he concludes that it could not have happened without a government that wasn't afraid to get out of the way and let the country's entrepreneurs takeover.

I am very inspired by this particular story. One of the main reasons that I was drawn to this story is how the writer was able to move past the same topics that every third or fourth journalist hammers at readers about African nations and their economic policies. Something that Mr. Friedman alluded to which resonates with my thoughts is that Africa's entrepreneurs can be both the continent's growth engine, as well as the chief drivers of economic prosperity. That's not to say that good policy is not important, but it says that one does not need to wait for perfect conditions before setting out to improve a given situation.

Now contrast that story against William Easterly's, who opens his column first by chiding the foreign economic advisors to who go to African countries and condone statist practices and then with reference to Ghana's 50 year jubilee. Somehow, he was able to use Ghana's 50year anniversary as an analogy to the continent's economic woes. This was somewhat shocking to me, given the success that the country has seen since the 1990's. So, it was difficult for me to continue reading the story at this point, but yet I persisted. And on the one hand something inside of me wanted to be able to refute all that he was saying as untrue, but sadly there was some truth to some of the statements that he made.

Namely, he mentioned that at independence Ghana's output today is almost the same as it was 50 years ago, largely due to the socialist leaning policies that the country adopted during the Nkrumah era. This is something that I can agree with him on. Then he advances the discussion into the subject of UN, IMF, and World Bank economic advisors who write papers and make speech's which show very tolerant attitudes towards the state controlled economic policy. This to me was the highlight of the article. Placing some of the blame on the continents foreign economic advisors was something new to me. Yet the article still began to lose my attention at this point, because of the writers attempts to use India and China as examples of the free market successes that African nations could follow. But, hmmm...I thought China was, with the exception of one major city, a state run economy. And both China and India until the last century had experienced at least one millennium of economic stagnation.

Fortunately, the conclusion was strong enough to wake me up. His opening statement about free market economies being tough roads that over time carry nations into prosperity, was sage advice. He even devoted the last couple of sentences to Africa's blossoming entrepreneurs, who he says are learning to make economics work to their advantage instead of to their detriment.

Although Mr. Easterly's article, at times resembled a roller coaster ride, I was able to pick up the crux of what Mr. Easterly was saying. He was trying to say that the people and the entrepreneurs of Africa want and deserve so much more than weak politicians and poor economic policy advisors. Another theme that his column gives credence to is that Africa experiences the low levels of output that we see because of this intersection of mis-governance and moribund economic practices. Again, I believe that he makes a good point here. However, it seemed like he was speaking in very general terms when he was speaking about the continent. If I didn't know better perhaps my idea walking away from reading this story could have been that Africa was a country and Ghana was it's capital. Furthermore, when he mentions the success of some of Africa's entrepreneurs, the idea came across that outside of their financial success no one else would benefit.

Even with all of these differences that I found with this article, it still has it's place and makes some strong points. And again the unfortunate truth is that there are some countries in Africa and other parts of the developing world that do fit Mr. Easterly's description. My question about this type of "shock value" writing is who or how does it empower? At the moment, it seems like the continent's greatest hopes lie within its private leaders, the entrepreneurs and the NGO founders. Under the right circumstances these groups can move more quickly than the bureaucrats or economic policy makers who are employed by these bureaucrats who are bound by tons of red tape. So why not write articles where 85 % of the content addresses them? And many of Africa's entrepreneurs have already found ways to make profit, while simultaneously speaking to the greater good of the societies in which they serve, so maybe more that should be written to encourage them that they are on the right path.

In conclusion, two stories have been told, and although I don't think that today's economic realities in Kenya and Ghana are far apart, there are some vast economic differences on the continent between Africa's haves and have-nots. And as both writers have illustrated policy and entrepreneurship or the lack thereof play vital roles in the two differnt realities that we see on the African continent.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

He's Not Heavy, He's My B...

I am not sure if you are familiar with the phrase, "he's not heavy, he's my brother". It connotes the idea of using one's own growth within a community to help other up and coming members of the community. This was a phrase that became very common at my Alma Mater, Morehouse College.

Anyhow, my aim was to take that phrase and use it as an analogy in introducing a new entrant to the Africa blogger scene. However, judging from the writing this blogger is already capable of carrying a big load, i.e. giving back to the community. He definitely doesn't need much or any assistance in the writing department!

This blogger goes by the name "Branded" and hails from Kenya. Perhaps to date you have not heard much from Branded, but mark my words-you soon will. A business person extraordinaire, Branded blogs at Business in Focus and will also be blogging here on The Benin Epilogue, topics will range from African business media to market branding. So, please show this blogger some love!

Branded, welcome to The Benin Epilogue and thank you for accepting the invitation. Sorry I didn't do this earlier, but soon you'll know how it is when...well, we'll leave i at that. Once again It's good to have your input here-Thanks again!

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Is Africa really ready for business?

Just a thought. But I believe that Africa is most ready for business. The world will only ignore Africa at its own peril. Sample this:
China hosted all Africa Presidents this year to expand on the available business opportunities in Africa. The main intention of China was to position itself to take advantage of the existing business avenues and as using Africa as a source of inputs for its vast and fast growing industries. Other developed countries are now realising that Africa cannot be taken for granted.

South Africa will host the world cup in 2010, and now more and more companies are lining up to set up businesses in the country to take advantage of the opportunities that have been created by this fact.

Kenya recently (on 24th March) hosted the World Cross Country Championships very succesfully. Despite the international travel advissory issued by the USA speciffically targeting the international event, the Kenyans saw it as a business opportunity to improve their international reputation. The travel warnings did not stop the show that had such a high level of security.

African leaders are travelling the world to take advantage of existing business opportunities. This not only says that Africa is more than ready for business but also shows that WE ARE IN BUSINESS. What do you think?
You can read more on how Africa is taking on the world on:


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tinapa, Africa's Best Kept Tourism Secret...

This is actually our first "In the News Commentary" on the Benin Epilogue. And it brings us all of the way to Tinapa, Nigeria. Admittedly, I was not aware that such a place as Tinapa existed in Nigeria. However, given the determination and tenacity that many of the nation's entrepreneurs embody, I cant pretend to be surprised. For anyone who falls in my category and is not familiar with Tinapa, to say that Tinapa is a city inside of Nigeria's Cross River State would be an understatement.

Tinapa, located within Nigeria's Calabar Free Trade Zone, is being dubbed as the next mega business and tourism resort of Africa- north of Cape Town and west of the Masai Mara. One of the main attractions of this destinations is the duty free shopping for tourist and tax-exemption for foreign investors. Already the mega resort has invested $358 m into this ambitious project. This project has not been completed and yet has already attracted the likes of some of the continents top companies-MTN and Shoprite are just two of them. No doubt these companies have done their homework and are there because of the anticipated annual influx of 3 million tourists annually into the region.

What are the implications? Well for an African nation that has not been able to attract a critical mass of tourists, I'd say that this is a tremendous start. Here and there on the web for the last five or sixth months, I have been noticing some stories from Nigeria which somehow were by and large missed by the radar of international media. Primarily, what we are describing are stories coming from Nigerian officials, law enforcement, and business persons pertaining to changing the countries image.

I have said this many times and will say it again that even outside of oil Nigeria seems to be a treasure house for African ingenuity and business potential. In fact, to say that Nigeria could offer investors some of the best opportunities on the continent might not be an exaggeration.

So this project, to me, is a representation of that very notion. It sort of reminds me of the Dubai of Africa. I am sure that many both in and out of Nigeria would see this as much welcomed transformation.

By the way, this post is actually commentary for this Reuters article.

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Take a look!

Please take a look, all the way toward the very bottom of the page. If you look there, you will see some photos and some news headlines.

If you may recall, earlier I mentioned that the bulk of this month the blog would focus on providing commentary on business news from around Africa. Well, here's where it ties together...those headlines that you see at the bottom of the page will comprise a large portion of the news that we will discuss here. Of course, there will be others, additionally you are encouraged to make suggestions as well.

My hope is that we will have some very lively dialogue on enterprise news coming from the African continent. Enjoy!

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

What Real Estate Boom in Kenya?

Did you know that since 2002 Kenya has been experiencing rapid growth in its real estate sector? Well, from what I have been able to gather it started with the change that occurred in the country's governance at that time. From then tourism went on a steady rise. And with the rise in Kenya's tourism cam the rise in various real estate opportunities. Some of the most rewarding have been found along the Indian Ocean shorelines in the form of beach front property. There are other fundamentals that add to Kenya's real estate boom. One being the Kenya Diaspora investment movement. It has been driving still further growth in the country's real estate market, with many expatriates sending hundred of dollars home each month over several years to build that dream house to one day call home. Of course during the wait, I am hearing many friends talking of building steady rental income during the interim. Then there is also the benefit of being east Africa's top business destination. This has helped in the way of attracting corporate regional headquarters onto Kenyan soil, in turn fueling more real estate growth.

While I was searching for information on this topic there was a blog conversation that I came across on Business Week's blog. Several readers from Kenya commented in a post discussing real estate investment clubs that it would be great if someone in Kenya could teach them how to do real estate investing in Kenya.

Here's the comment that followed:

"...We are a Kenyan registered architectural consulting and construction project management firm. We assist in investing in real estate projects in Kenya.We would like to hear from interested persons .Thanks..."
quote appears courtesy of:Business Week Online

The gentleman who wrote that comment on Business Week Online is called Francis Kamau, though his website focuses primarily on the architectural aspect of real estate in Kenya, I found it very interesting. The pictures were also quite captivating. In fact, here is one of them, so that you may see for yourself.
photo courtesy of: Architect Kenya

Also here is an informative and educational link on investing in Kenyan real estate. To summarize it a bit, it talks about the pros and cons of investing in Kenyan real estate. It also mentions some of the key categories of professionals that one considering investment there should consult. All in all, I found it a good read and would recommend it to anyone wishing to study this topic further.

Otherwise, this concludes our Real Estate Investment in Africa series and now we shall focus this month of April on providing commentary on business news coming out of the African regions-so please stay tuned...

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