COFFEE CULTURE GROWS IN NIGERIA


By Paul Ndiho

Most coffee sold in Nigeria is instant and imported. But a local beverage company is working to market its new blends of freshly roasted and ground coffee to a growing middle class in Nigeria that has given rise to coffee drinking in the country. images

Kaldi Africa promotes locally roasted and processed coffee made from blends of coffee sourced in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.  The beverage processing company operates in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos.

The company, launched nearly a year ago, started roasting coffee beans sourced from Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia as part of a larger plan to offer Nigerian coffee lovers a more premium product.

The goal is to target a growing middle-class that is ready to spend while meeting in coffee shops opening around the city.

Kaldi’s managing director, Nasra Ali, says most supermarkets in the country sell imported instant coffee varieties but that there is demand for freshly ground and brewed quality coffee.

“When you look at the generation that was in the 40s, 50s and 60s, they were exposed to coffee drinking and that was in the peak of Nigeria exporting coffee. They were drinking, then of course that went down drastically and so did the production. What we are having right now is as a result of the globalization and the coffee drinking culture globally, we know that coffee is the second drunk beverage after water. It is the second highest traded commodity after oil. Then it is inevitable that it would catch up in Nigeria. So what we are basically doing is we are using the best of the African product, and preparing ourselves for the launch of the coffee culture in Nigeria and the greater West Africa,”

After a roasting process, coffee beans go into a de-stoning machine to make sure that the last bits of impurities are removed before being grounded and packed in bags for sale. One kilogram of Kaldi’s coffee sells for about 8 U.S. dollars.

The company also works closely with farmers to buy their produce and help them promote their coffee. Nearly 10 percent of the world’s coffee comes from the African continent. Alfred Mwai is the head of operations at Kaldi African.

“We have no doubt because the kind of business model that we picked was very well thought through, it was not just about coffee roasting. It is about when we roast, what are going to do with the coffee. Do we have the capacity to be able to give the education to people on the benefits of drinking fresh roasted coffee, and how are they going to have the consistency of fresh roasted coffee. So I think, I cannot regret, it is really working,”

 

Apart from Ethiopia, which consumes half of the coffee it produces, few Sub-Saharan African markets have a taste for the drink. During weekends, Kaldi African treats guests to various coffee drinks made by top barristers to give people a chance to sample and learn more about the benefits of taking coffee.

“It was a great experience. Aside from the quality of the product, the passion, the zeal and everything is quite interesting. And then for me as a person the fact that we have such a thing here in Nigeria is actually great. I think it is a break through,”

New coffee startups in Nigeria compete with big brands like, Nestle which is responsible for more than 80 percent of the country’s coffee sales, mostly instant coffee sold off mobile carts on the streets.

 


 

ONLINE GAMING IN UGANDA

By Paul Ndiho

Video gaming is undeveloped in Africa. Though various start-up companies have appeared across the continent, few successes have been made. Well, in Uganda, Kola Studios might be a game changer.  Creators of the popular card game “Matatu” are making their mark on the global tech scene. unnamed

The introduction of broadband Internet has spawned a generation of young ICT savvy people in Africa. Gaming is among the fastest growing industries on the continent. Here in the Ugandan capital Kampala, young techies have developed a cutting edge mobile APP called “Matutu”. At over one hundred thousand downloads the card game has been played over 6 million times.

With the success of this gaming app, Jasper Onono, the brain behind all Android apps at Kola Studios has joined the growing ranks of East Africa’s wiz kids helping to propel the region into the tech spotlight.

“It’s the most popular game in Uganda right now. The idea came up back on campus when we were attending a conference. A thought just hit us: ‘Oh, why don’t people have this game on their phones.”

Matatu – a traditional two-player card game – has long been popular here in Uganda. But with the rapid growth of the smartphone market – in Kenya alone 1 in 5 people access the web through their phones. Sharon Rwakatungu says that the goal of the game is to play all your cards before your opponent.

“I like having it on the phone because then I can playing it anytime. Even when I’m alone, I don’t need to have friends around or a group of people. I can just have it on my phone and play it anytime, anywhere. And it’s fun.”

In 2011 Matatu was a finalist in Google’s Android Developer Challenge for Sub-Saharan Africa – providing them with publicity and mentoring, as well as having their app hosted in Google play store and Google cloud.

Uganda has experienced a dramatic “tech-hub boom” – spurred on by collaborative workspaces such as Outobox, Innovation Village and growing international investment where investors are looking to break into these lucrative markets.

“When you ask young people, about apps they have on their phones, they tell you that at least five apps on their phone,  are either from Ugandan or Kenyan apps. I feel like that will go a long way in encouraging other young people to believe that there is more potential than just what they see. We’re not just consumers of content, but we’re creators of it.”

If the future of computing lies in mobile – and the fastest growth in mobile comes from the developing world – many are beginning to look to African startups for a taste of things to come.

 

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) a multinational professional services network based in London, Africa’s gaming industry has been on a significant upswing in the past few years, driven primarily by advances in mobile phone technology.

 

GHANA AND GAMBIA ELECTIONS ANALYSIS


By Paul Ndiho

Opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo won Ghana’s national election last week, on his third attempt, cementing the country’s reputation as a standard bearer of democracy in West Africa.   Meanwhile, political turmoil has erupted in Gambia, after President Yahya Jammeh reversed course, to reject the outcome of the December first vote.

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Gambia’s longtime leader president Yahya Jammeh is drawing international condemnation after going back on his word to step down after losing the presidential election to Adama barrow.  Mister Jammeh initially conceded defeat to president-elect barrow.

“I at this moment take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Adam barrow for his victory. It’s a clear victory because our system says ‘simple majority. I will help him work towards the transition while i part to go and work on my farm…”

But, by late Friday, Jammeh had changed his mind — and in a televised statement, he shocked the world and announced that had decided to reject the ballot on charges of fraud and that he would challenge the voting results before the nation’s Supreme Court.

A delegation of West African heads of state, led by Liberian president Ellen Johnson sirleaf, have travelled to Gambia to mediate the dispute.

In Ghana, President John Mahama and the nation’s voters have again demonstrated that their country is a beacon of West African democracy.  President Mahama quickly called opposition leader nana Akufo-Addo to concede defeat in the national election.  President-elect Akufo–Addo won an outright majority in the vote, according to the country’s electoral commission.

“Going b figures, and by the power vested in me as the chairperson of the electoral commission, and the returning officer for the presidential election, it is my duty and my privilege to declare nana Akufo-Addo wins as the president-elect of the republic of Ghana. Thank you, god bless our homeland Ghana, and make our nation greater and stronger.”

Nana Akufo-Addo defeated President John Mahama with nearly 54 percent of the vote.  After hearing the news, his supporters, the new patriotic party broke into cheers and dancing as car horns blared, and fireworks erupted across the capital, Accra.  Akufo-Addo, 72, says he is ready for the challenge.

“I make this solemn pledge to you tonight: I will not let you down. I will do all in my power to live up to your hopes and expectations,”

Ghana’s President John Mahama conceded defeat and called to congratulate opposition leader nana Akufo-Addo, after a hotly contested election, seen as a test for a country viewed as a beacon of stability in West Africa.

“I want to assure the nation that we’ll respect the outcome of this election whether it is positive or negative.”

In the end, voters gave President John Mahama just one four-year term before rejecting his administration.  Akufo-Addo and his new patriotic party will inherit an economy that for years was rated one of Africa’s most dynamic, but has slowed sharply since 2014, in part, because the prices for the country’s main exports — gold, cocoa, and oil — have fallen.

GHANAIANS VOTE IN GENERAL ELECTIONS


 

By: Paul Ndiho

Ghanaians are voting n neck-and-neck presidential and parliamentary elections. Two candidates dominate the race – President John Mahama, who is seeking a second term in office. And, his main rival, Nana Akufo-Addo, a veteran politician and businessman.

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High unemployment, and corruption scandals have beset mahama’s presidency, but he has urged Ghanaians to re-elect him.  But Akufo-Addo believes he has the business acumen to turn the economy around.  But for one small business owner in accra, the stakes could not be higher.

Incumbent President John Mahama is running for a second and final four-year term in office under a National Democratic Congress (NDC) ticket. He has made proposals to boost industry, energy, infrastructure, health and education.

His main opponent, Nana Akufo-Addo and his New Patriotic Party criticizes Mahama for squandering the wealth the country has amassed since it began producing oil in 2010 and being out of touch with the people.

Akufo-Addo promises to give every constituency the equivalent of $1 million a year to alleviate poverty by installing basic services such as electricity, running water and sanitation.

Mabel Simpson is an accessories designer and entrepreneur working in Accra. She resigned her office job in 2010 to launch her own clothing label in mSimpson. Since then, she has created quite a buzz on the Ghanaian fashion scene.

“I feel like Ghana needs a leader who is going to fight corruption, who is going to bring jobs especially for young people and who is also going to make sure that the manufacturing industry in Ghana is doing very well.”

Simpson’s fascination with fashion- and love for raw African prints started when she was a young girl. She now competes with some of the biggest names in the African fashion industry.

Today, her design label – Msimps sells products in a store in Accra and online for clients making orders from all over the world.

“I feel like Ghana needs a leader who is going to fight corruption, who is going to bring jobs especially for the young people. It’s just not going to be, he is saying it but then he acts on it also. They would keep the promises they made to Ghanaians, so that people would be proud of Ghana.”

Ghana exports gold, oil and cocoa but has suffered from a slump in global commodity prices and macro-economic instability in the form of inflation that stood at 15.8 percent last month, an elevated budget deficit and high unemployment.

“We need to cut down on imports and rather concentrate more on exports so that we can grow the economy. So whichever leader that I feel is going to actually going to implement these policies. I think that leader is going to have my vote.”

She says she wants Ghana to invest more in manufacturing and export of “Made in Ghana” products and to provide more support for entrepreneurs as a way of dealing with unemployment and boosting the economy.

“I’m also looking for a leader who is going to make sure that young start-ups or entrepreneurs have some tax rebates so that we can grow the economy and employ more people.”

Fashion experts say the industry has tremendous potential to meet the growing demand for high-end products in the global market- including Africa’s growing middle class. Simpson says that young African designers can play a significant role on the continent through entrepreneurship.

As the mSimps label becomes more popular and expands, other young African designers are also looking forward to expressing their creativity in the marketplace.

NIGERIAN TECH FIRMS DRAWING INTERNATIONAL VENTURE CAPITALISTS


 

BY Paul Ndiho

Tech firms in Nigeria are rushing to get office space in Lagos’ Yaba district, a university town that has transformed itself into a vibrant technology hub.

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At first glance, Yaba is like many other parts of Nigeria’s sprawling commercial capital: a cacophony of car horns and shouting street vendors, mingling with exhaust fumes.    But in between the run-down buildings in this seemingly inauspicious part of Lagos, a city of around 21 million, tech start-ups are taking root and creating a buzz that is drawing international venture capitalists and more established digital firms.

Online retailer Jumia, dubbed the Amazon of Africa, has set up shop here…hoping it can propel the continent’s rising consumer middle class out of the street markets and onto its websites.  Nicholas Martin is the chief executive at Jumia.

“Lagos has the potential to become something that is relevant and on the map in the global scale.  It’s going to take time, it’s going to take support, it’s going to take a lot of infrastructure work because there is still a lot of work to be done. But the full amount of potential is here, the market is here, the appetite is here. We have started to also seeing a strong flow of repatriate talents coming here and irrigate that hub, so Lagos is actually very hot and that drives Yaba,”

Yaba draws on a pool of talent from the nearby University of Lagos and Yaba College of Technology. African tech centers are a recent phenomenon that mix web business concepts borrowed from other parts of the world with start-ups focused on Africa-specific challenges in creating opportunities in areas such as mobile payments and e-commerce.

Yaba also has a growing number of established tech companies that hope the area, where rents are relatively cheap, might breed success.

Africa Internet Group, backed by Germany’s Rocket Internet, South African mobile phone giant MTN and Sweden’s Millicom, moved six of its tech firms, including Hellofood and Easy Taxi, to Yaba last December.

Guillaume Leblond, is the managing director of hellofoods.

“The presence of UNILAG (University of Lagos) as well is important for us because we recruit a lot of people. If you look at my staff behind me, probably sixty percent of them come from UNILAG so they know the area well, they have good network of friends that we recruit or that we hire for ambassadors,”

Investors have taken an interest in several Yaba-based start-ups. Nigerian hotel booking company hotels.ng got seed funding from the EchoVC Pan-Africa Fund and the Omidyar Network, created ed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

The potential market size of Africa’s most populous nation makes Nigeria, with around 170 million people, an attractive location. Google and Microsoft ran coding workshops, while a deal between CCHub, the Lagos state government and local telecoms firm MainOne brought cheap high speed Internet via fibre optic cable.

“You won’t find warehousing space in Yaba, you won’t find warehousing space that is big enough to host a company like the size of Jumia. Jumia is by any measurement not only the biggest e-commerce and also the biggest retailer of the land and therefore we just need warehouse space and that ware house space, as long as I can keep it tight and tied together with the office space I will,”

Even though it is Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer, Nigeria’s Internet speeds and network coverage have lagged behind other countries such as Ghana and Kenya. But that in itself is an opportunity, with a 2013 report by consultancy McKinsey suggesting that only 1.5 percent of Nigeria’s nearly $500 billion economy took place online.

 

 

 


 

TOGOLESE FASHION DESIGNER TURNS HER PASSION INTO A BUSINESS

By Paul Ndiho

Togolese fashion designer Lenina Codjo has always been a fashion fanatic. Now, she is the founder and creative director of her boutique and brand “AdjoAsika.”  Her use of “African prints” has made her one of the Togo’s top designers, selling fashionable clothing, accessories, and home décor items. 20151108_150209

Lenina Codjo started doing jewelry and other accessories when she was a student in neighboring Ivory Coast.  Now, she has turned her passion into a business, launching her clothing label “AdjoAsika”, meaning casual wear in her local direct.  Since then, she has created quite a buzz on the global fashion scene.

“From the jewelry, I started making bags for women, for men. Then I started doing clothing to match with the bags. People were more and more interested and then I opened my boutique.”

Codjo has participated in several fashion shows, showcasing innovative, unique and cutting edge fashion designs. Recently, here in Washington D.C, she was part of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, a U.S. Department of State initiative that identifies and builds networks of women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa that are poised to transform their societies by owning and operating small and medium businesses. The program also promotes business growth to U.S. markets through the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

“Here we learn a lot about how to improve our skills in business. In our country it’s critical, we need this kind of help to empower women. I have learned a lot about the US market too – how to integrate because now we want to tell our stories through our items, through our creativity so this is the way to have new customers, new people to talk to so that we can have more opportunities for our community.”

“My brand name is Adjoasika because I wanted this to be more serious to have a story to tell, so I designed this logo that inspires people.”

Codjo is part of the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are trying to make a difference in their communities.

Codjo’s fascination with fashion- and love for raw African prints started when she was a young girl- and now she competes with some of the biggest names in the West African fashion industry. Linena Codjo attributes her accomplishment to her client’s, and supporters.

“My clients are local and people abroad, experts, people who love handcrafts, individuals who want to encourage handmade/African made… the name of my brand is casual wear so it can be clothing or an accessory that you can feel.”

Fashion analysts say AdjoAsika’s collections are known for their uniqueness.  Her hand-made accessories such as handbags, brooches, laptop bags, shoes and other accessories with African prints are transformed into stylish pieces.   Codjo’s creations have tremendous potential to meet the growing demand for high-end products in the global market — including Africa’s rising middle class.

Lenina Codjo says that young African designers — especially women, can play a significant role in business development on the continent through their entrepreneurship.

 

EMPOWERING THE YOUTH IN MALI


By Paul Ndiho

This summer, one thousand young African leaders came to study in the United States through U.S. President Barack Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship program. One of these young leaders was Alfousseni Sidibe, a native of Mali, whose mission is to empower Mali’s youth through the power of public speaking.

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After being rejected two years in a row, Alfousseni Sidibe was finally selected as one of the one-thousand participants in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Initiative. The fellows represent nearly 50 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016, Sidibe founded “Live your Dream” a grassroots community development enterprise, inspired by Toastmasters International.  Alfousseni Sidibe is the founder.

“I needed to share with other people – especially because the foundation of any development is young people. So I said to myself, we need to start something and I said ‘ok, lets’ start with this organization “Live your Dream” I believe that each and every one of us has a dream and we are helping them to realize this dream.”

The 29-year-old Malian started this organization in his hometown, Bandiala, to focus on youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, public speaking, civic engagement — and business and mentoring programs.

“At some point in life, you have to define what makes you happy. My definition of happiness is when I can add value to other people, and I can only do that when I’m helping them to find their ways, what they want to become, what they want to do in the future. So once I see myself able to add value to another person, helping him to find his or her voices, helping them to find his way, this is what makes me happy.”

The African Union considers African youth as a unique resource that requires special attention, because they constitute up to 65 percent of the population. Sidibe says young people in Mali are a formidable, creative resource that can be harnessed for the countries socio-economic development.

“We say young people are the future of tomorrow, they are the future of a nation, but I say the future starts today. I believe that we Africans, we will make the change and this change starts from now, and I believe in each and every one of us. Do not sit and say ‘I don’t have something to do.’ There is always something to be done and let’s think out of the box.”

Finding opportunities for young people is a critical challenge for Mali, but Sidibe says that there are possibilities in farming and that young people should embrace going into agriculture as a profession.

“We have to value agriculture. It should start with the government providing incentive, taking measures to encourage production. For example, if you need the power to start your small business and you do not have it, it costs a lot for some people to start their farm because we have this mentality in mind that if you don’t use fertilizer. We need to sensitize people more about the easy way to do farming.”

Most exciting, perhaps, is that Alfousseni plans to continue empowering the youth with innovative programs on entrepreneurship, to tackle Mali’s high unemployment rate among youth ages 15 to 24.  Sidibe also has his sights set elsewhere in West Africa where he is already in talks with the administrators of other important youth initiatives to start “Live Your Dream satellite programs.