“The potential of African students in the light of the Arab Spring” Thabo Mbeki Lecture at Stellenbosch Univesity

This was part of Thabo Mbeki’s Lecture address at Stellenbosch University, to those that missed it. The man is indeed a treasure and a great asset not only to South Africa but to Africa as a whole. A visionary beyond his time only the enlighted can understand his vision.

(26/08/2011) Chairperson of the SRC, Chairperson of SASCO, Vice Chancellor, leaders, staff, students and workers of Stellenbosch University, Ladies and gentlemen: I would like to thank you for inviting me to return to this important centre of learning to reflect on what is obviously an important and relevant topic. In its invitation letter to me the SRC said the Council had “identified as some of (its) goals to stimulate dialogue, encourage criti … Read More

via Minilicious’ World

The fellowship of the Union

The African Union is well on its way to becoming an irrelevant institution like its predecessor the OAU. I say this simply because the name has changed but the leaders remain the same. Under the leadership of the founding fathers there was some measure of success. A number of countries got independence albeit it was also partly due to the help of the now fallen Brother leader Qaddafi. I am surprised to hear a prominent African leader like Thabo Mbeki appearing puzzled by events taking place in Libya and questioning why AU has been side-lined “Mbeki slams West’s gunboat diplomacy against Gaddafi . Again it is reported the the International Contact Group, which has been conducting military operations in support of the Transitional National Council (TNC) rebels fighting Gaddafi, met in Istanbul to discuss how to manage a post-Gaddafi Libya. The AU was not included in these talks.

There is a simple reason as to why the AU has been side lined; the AU simply lacks the political will to tackle the conflicts in Africa. When called upon to act African leaders chose indifference over decisive action. Quiet diplomacy as was Mbeki’s legacy would have meant Qaddafi would have continued slaughtering his kinsman into submission. AU does not even value its own principles, it is important to note African countries like South Africa voted in favour of the same UN resolution that the AU is now crying foul over. One wonders if they even knew what they were voting for?

 

The AU’s proposed solution to the crisis was to insist on a peace road map that would retain elements of Gadaffi in power. Now when called to make a decision on the release of funds to rebuild Libya South African now decides to wait to receive the go ahead from AU( “Libya conflict: Africa’s dilemma over seized assets” and “SA to wait for AU decision on Libya” ) . One wonders why in the first place they did not wait for an AU decision before voting for the UN resolution. My advice to the fellowship of the so called Union if they ever want to be relevant and determine the fate of their own nations they need to be decisive leaders. Have principles and be ready to die for those principles.

Five quick reasons to invest and stay in Zimbabwe

I have met a lot of investors who are interested in investing in Africa. They always ask me this question “given the option where would I invest my money outside South Africa in the SADC region?”. It would definitely be Zimbabwe. I thought of putting together five quick reasons that quicklycome to mind

1.      Zimbabwe has one of the best climates in the world;

Seventh Wonder of the World

According to the International Living’s 2011 Quality of Life Index Zimbabwe and Malta have the Best Climate in the World. Every year, the magazine rates and ranks 192 countries for this index, and Zimbabwe scored 100% on climate, one of the nine categories voted upon. So it is the good climate that one is after you are sure to get that in Zimbabwe.

2.      Its people are hardworking, eduacated and entrepreneurial.

Harare's Skyline

For the period up to 2010, Zimbabwe had the highest adult literacy rate (91.2 percent) in Africa; Countries with the lowest being Mali and Burkina Faso have the lowest (28.7 percent).In the world it is rated higher than countries like India and Brazil which are taunted as some of the world leading emerging markets.

3.      It is the richest country in natural resources per capita in the world

Operation at one of Zimbabwe's platinum mines

Zimbabwe is the richest country on earth with respect to untapped natural resources per person. Zimbabwe sits at the centre of the largest concentration which consists of the world’s largest diamond reserves, second largest platinum reserves and over 40 exploitable minerals has the potential to turn Zimbabwe into the jewel of Africa.

4.      A peaceful land

Zimbabwe dollars during the crisis period

Zimbabwe still presents a sound infrastructure and great living space. It is no Somalia and is surrounded by countries, themselves emerging from conflicts and collapse but now exhibiting rapid growth and considerable stability like Mozambique and Angola.

5.      A top destination for those interested in seeing Untamed Africa

Elephant Hills golf course

Zimbabwe is teeming with wildlife. One of its biggest nature reserves is part of the three Trans Frontier Parks which constitute the largest contiguous conservation area in the world with the greatest diversity that is available anywhere in the world.

USD being "Laundered " in Harare

At present Zimbabwe probably has the most open and free economy in Africa – there is no exchange control, no limits on what you can bring in or take out. They have no price controls and the labour market is regulated but dominated by negotiations between organized labour and management. They have a good banking system that is highly competitive and a stock market that is growing and able to serve the need for raising local capital.

Well if these are not enough reasons to convince some one, the Chinese investors seem only to be interested in one reason, “Natural Resources”.

Fake Apple Store: Update with Video (via BirdAbroad)

Will they ever close all Fake shops in China.

As we head towards 1,000,000 views in less than 72 hours over here on BirdAbroad, I think it's time to take stock and give an update on China's favorite ripoff Apple store. As many of you know, this story has struck a nerve in the Western world, and has spread virally…well, basically everywhere. Reuters is claiming that the story has been been picked up by nearly 1,000 media outlets – and I can tell you that I have personally been contacted by … Read More

via BirdAbroad

Are you listening, Steve Jobs? (via BirdAbroad)

Could China’s growth be attributed to their lack of respect of IP rights?

Are you listening, Steve Jobs? The Western news media is replete with pithy descriptions of the rapid changes taking place in China: China has the world's fastest growing economy. China is undergoing remarkable and rapid change. This represents a unique moment for a society changing as quickly as China. You probably read such things in the paper every day – but if you have never been to China, I'm not sure you know quite what this means on a mundane level. As I've mentioned el … Read More

via BirdAbroad

The Death of African Cities : By Edson Charikinya

Death of African Cities

It is my opinion that Africa should brace itself for more massive protests similar to those that are being seen in the northern part of the continent. Unlike what most people would want the world to believe this wave of uprising are not being caused by Twitter, Facebook or the Internet.  This new wave of uprising threatening African cities is due to a swell in the urban population. According to a recent report from UN-HABITAT over a third of Africa’s 1 billion inhabitants currently live in urban areas, but by 2030 that proportion will have risen to one and a half billion. That represents a 50% increase in urban population in just over 20 years. In its 2010 report UN-HABITAT reported that, Cairo would grow by 23% to 13.5m people. By 2025, however, it will have been overtaken by both Lagos (15.8m) and Kinshasa (15m). This gives one a clear indication of where the next trouble spots are going to be on the African continent. This massive growth of our cities results in shortages of water, food and electricity. Infrastructure to support this growth in African cities is not being developed at a rate that is fast enough to meet the demands of a rising population.

Richard Florida in his book The Rise of the Creative Class (2002) identified a fraction of a city’s population termed the “creative class” as an essential element in spear heading developmental growth in cities .The term creative class used by Richard Florida refers to individuals who create growth and development in today’s post-industrial society. This class covers a wide range of professions from the traditional services and production profession to professions in areas such as science, education and product development. Richard Florida further states that the creative class is not only defined by job type but also by the characteristics that promote the expression of the creative aspect. He highlights the three Ts that are essential preconditions for creativity to unfold which are: talent, technology and tolerance.

Looking at these preconditions and trying to get a picture of where Africa stands is not an easy task. If the major economic indicators are anything to go by Africa is in a real mess and one gets the feeling that our cities are facing imminent death. African cities have lost a significant proportion of their Talent pool to AIDS.  The presence of a large population of African emigrants in developed cities also highlights the extent at which Africa has lost most of its talent. This brings similar conditions to Africa to those that were brought about by the slave trade which significantly diminished Africa’s population thereby resulting in little economic growth on the continent. Back then manpower was the essential element for economic growth, way before the invention of the steam engine.

It is obvious to me that due to poor education and telecommunication infrastructure our societies are not embracing new technology at a rate that is fast enough to allow us to make effective use of new technology in our production processes. New technology would make our production processes much cheaper hence result in our products being competitive on the international market.  As it stands all Africa has to offer the world is its raw mineral resources which are limited. Exploitation of Africa’s natural resources is also leaving a huge dent on the environment which is making rural life unsustainable hence the swelling of the cities. As for tolerance within our cities the recent Xenophobic attacks in South Africa highlights the low level of tolerance towards different nationalities in our cities. Racial tensions still play a key role in retarding growth in most African cities making them unfavourable destination for much needed foreign investment. The question that i think will face the next generation of African leaders is how to improve on these preconditions (the three Ts) that foster creativity?

Top Talk 7 April 2011 – 12:45-13:00, MFM studio

Guest: Edson Charinkinya from Brightest Young Minds

Topic: Brightest Young Minds

Presenter: Lunette Louw

Questions:

1.       Edson, please tell us about Brightest Young Minds – also, when and why was it founded?

The Brightest Young Minds organisation was founded in 2000 and aimed to channel the hearts and minds of the brightest young minds in the country and fast track their development for the benefit of SA. Today BYM aims to channel the hearts and minds of young leaders into initiatives that will bring about positive social change and  help create a better future for all. BYM therefore identifies, inspire and equip young leaders to be positive change agents. It does this on two levels:

  • Through developing young leaders and equipping them to affect social change  from where they are and with the resources to their disposal.

Brightest Young Minds seeks to inspire, develop, train young people through several initiatives. Of these, the annual Brightest Young Minds summit is our flagship project. Other spaces created for fresh dialogue throughout the year are the Think Tanks, and Play shops.

  • Through designing, developing and supporting projects that have a positive social impact

Brightest Young Minds™ (BYM) started out in 2000 with the vision “to create a platform that showcases the Brightest Young Minds’ potential and fast track their development for the benefit of South Africa.”
It started out just as a week long Summit aiming to bridge the gap between students and the outside world and giving students a platform to share their ideas amongst inspiring peers. For partnering companies it provided the opportunity to listen to the ideas of the students and pose them specific challenges.

2.       Tell us about your experience as a Brightest Young Minds?

 

Being a BYM delegate in 2009 was a thought provoking and life changing experience for me. I met some of South Africa’s brilliant minds. It was inspiring interacting with some of South Africa’s leading corporate and social figures. It challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and make a difference, hence my continued involvement with the organization. I met 100 great friends in only one week. Just being associated with BYM opened up many opportunities for  me.

3.       What is the BYM annual summit?

The Annual BYM Summit is the entry point into the BYM programme, and brings together 100 of the country’s brightest young minds from diverse backgrounds and disciplines for a week‐long summit. The summit environment is dynamic and highly energetic, and during the week delegates are given the opportunity to network, brainstorm, collaborate, and explore new ventures and ideas. All Corporate Partners will get an opportunity to provide input at the summit and to interact with delegates. Drawing on the high‐level inputs given by Corporate Partners and other leaders, summit delegates also get to work on their own ideas and projects, and 6 to 8 of these are presented on the final day of the Summit.

4.       What is the topic of this year’s summit and where will it be held?

The theme for the 2011 summit is: “A Climate for Change. At BYM we believe in the power of young people to bring about positive social change. Our generation of leaders will be faced with the challenge of building a low-carbon and low-poverty world. This challenge might seem extremely bold to conquer, especially if one is to look at the state of affairs in north Africa and the Middle East. But it is in this very gloomy climate that we believe that young positive change agents must take hands, and respond to the challenges facing us. We also believe that the brightest young minds can and will provide the revolutionary leadership that is so needed to change this country and continent for the better”. This year’s summit will see the inauguration of the Brightest Young Minds Lecture, a high‐profile key‐note address.(and if she asks out about this, this is top secret)

5.       Who may apply for the BYM Summit and how many gets chosen?

The brightest and most passionate university students, recent graduates and other positive change agents between the ages of 20-30 are encouraged to apply and only 100 delegates get chosen to attend the summit.

6.       What are the benefits of / opportunities attached to being a BYM?

The BYM summit offers an opportunity for delegates to learn from recognized South African Market leaders and work on innovative projects with like‐minded individuals. It provides an excellent training ground for tomorrow’s leaders and is a very powerful networking platform. The BYM participants have proven to be a sought‐after talent‐pool in terms of recruitment and sourcing innovative ideas. BYM has served as the launch pad or inspiration for several successful businesses and social endeavours. Some of the ideas developed at previous summits include:

  • AIDS Industry Management Standard – this project was later funded and taken over by

Metropolitan

  • Taxi Smart Card system – the idea was published on the main page of Die Burger, Beeld and

Volksblad

  • A personalised publication service using social network data – the idea has been developed into a business that has won national prizes and attracted venture capital
  • A platform for delivering educational and life‐skills content via mobile phones – this project is currently ongoing

7.       Edson, what does being a BYM entail – are you guys involved with projects and actually do things, or is it primarily attending the summit?

In the first half of the year, BYM will run a ‘Playshops’ in Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively. A Playshop is a specific format used by BYM to explore a relevant topic interactively from various perspectives in a few hours. The Playshops are specifically aimed at the 1000 BYM alumni. Besides the Playshops, two more alumni events will be held in the second half of the year, again in Johannesburg and Cape Town. These events will introduce the Class of 2011 to the rest of the network, and once again tie in with the overall theme for the year

Other BYM activities include  the BYM’s Think Tank activities. This is be structured around two themes:

Youth Leadership and Innovation.

Over the years BYM has often been asked to comment on matters related to youth and youth leadership. This year BYM will engage in the public discourse on youth leadership in a more structured manner. This will include conducting member surveys on relevant issues and publishing the results, as well as publishing thought leadership pieces from time to time.

For the Innovation theme BYM will use its members as a source of new ideas and innovation, whether through research, workshops or surveys. Previous innovation projects that BYM has participated inlooked at Green Healthcare, the future of energy, and scenarios for the future of SA amongst others.

8.       Tel us a bit more about the criteria used to select the BYM’s?

The one hundred delegates are selected on the criteria of Innovation, leadership, Initiative shown  and academic accomplishment. The selection process follows an extensive marketing campaign that sees up to 1500 applications from all over the country.

 9.       Are there previous Brightest Young Minds, or alumni, that achieved great success and attribute it to some extent to being part of the organization?

Several social initiatives, such as Women in Engineering, the Investec Young Women in Finance conference, the Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA), Twenty30 and BYM Australia, have been inspired by BYM. Alumni from the BYM programme have also gone on start numerous successful businesses (including, Enablis and Endeavor winners) and been awarded top scholarships (16 Rhodes scholars in the last 6 years alone). BYM alumni today also occupy positions in many of the leading companies in the country, some on a senior executive level. Furthermore, BYM has been endorsed byseveral top leaders from business, government and academia throughout the years. In 2010, BYM was approached to be part of the  MTN Leading CEO Council, and all the Protégés in the programme came from the ranks of BYM.

 10.   When do the applications close and where can interested students get more information?

Applications for the summit are available on the BYM website (www.bym.co.za) and the closing date is the 14th of April. Successful applicants will be able to attend the summit free of charge.