Beyond Crime and War: Alternative African stories from last week
London, March 4, 2018 (AltAfrika)-The week ending 03/03/2018 produced some fascinating stories across Africa that may not be well captured by the ever hostile international media.
With the help of our friends, Alternativeafrika re-present such fascinating stories to refresh our minds that many things happen in Africa beyond crime and war
Since 2010, international migrant population numbers from Africa have grown significantly, so much so that eight in 10 of the fastest-growing migrant populations are from sub-Saharan African nations, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the latest United Nations data on the number of emigrants, or people living outside their country of birth.
Much of the conversation about migration, particularly when it comes to Africans, is dominated by the terrible scenes we see reported from Libya and deadly Mediterranean crossings. But much of the current migration is the same as it’s always been with people seeking a better life in new surroundings.
From an economic point of view, the rapid growth in the numbers from Africa are of great interest. This is especially true for the money transfer industry. Remittances to sub-Saharan Africa grew to $37.8 billion in 2017, according to the World Bank and are forecast to hit around $39.2 billion this year and $39.6 billion in 2019. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as the largest population and economy, Nigeria topped African recipients with $22.3 billion in 2017. Liberia was the African country for whom remittances accounted for the highest share of GDP at 25.9%.
Even as those numbers grow, it’s clear the nature of migration and the migrant experience is changing. Technology is making this even more true. Ismail Ahmed, founder of World Remit, a London-based remittances business, is very clear about the impact of innovation on his business. World Remit, which opened an office in New York this week, has operations in 50 countries around the world and completes nearly a million transactions a month. It took around £60 million (~$80 million) in revenue last year and expects to do around $100 million this year.
Ahmed, who is originally from Somaliland, says innovation has played a crucial role in changing the way companies like his are able to connect migrants in Western countries to their homes in Africa, Asia or Latin America for example. Needless to say, the mobile phone has been vital in enabling the ease of connection, more migrants send smaller amounts more frequently now, with apps, mobile money and traditional bank accounts all playing their role.
But while much focus is often on migrants in Western countries, the biggest migration is within Africa. One challenge has been that many African countries do not make it easy for their citizens to move money between neighboring countries. Ahmed sees this as an important opportunity for his company to fix a multi-billion dollar money transfer problem between neighboring African countries.
Eritrean music in the age of YouTube. In 2016, Eritrea’s brutal dictatorship lifted its previous censorship of artistic expression in books, music, and art. In African Arguments, Abraham T. Zere writes about how musicians are now frequently uploading their songs to YouTube, giving them an avenue to go mainstream and a chance for those in the diaspora to be critical of the regime through the comments section.
How China is turning Ethiopia into the world’s fast-fashion factory. With Chinese investment and construction expertise, Ethiopia has opened industrial parks already producing clothes for H&M and Levi’s—with the eventual aim of creating two million manufacturing jobs by 2025. In Bloomberg Businessweek, Bill Donahue reports on whether this outsourcing experiment can survive political, environmental, and workers’ rights concerns.
South Africa’s strengthening currency is a mixed blessing for the economy. Since president Cyril Ramaphosa took the reins of the African National Congress, the rand has risen by some 15%, boosting the national psyche about reviving the currency’s downward spiral. But for a commodities-driven economy, a stronger currency also means lower revenues and competitiveness for manufacturing and agricultural sectors.
Amid abject poverty in DR Congo, showjumping thrives as a hobby for the elite. The people in DR Congo barely benefit from their country’s valuable mineral deposits. Reporting from Lubumbashi, Lynsey Chutel finds champagne-drinking, wealthy gentry excluded from the country’s difficult reality while their children take part in equestrian sports at private riding clubs.
The Ghanaian instructor who teaches computing using a blackboard. With no facilities, Richard Appiah Akoto teaches information and computer technology at a junior high school in rural Ghana—by drawing the features of Windows using multicolored chalk. After his photo in class went viral, Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu spokewith him to find out what inspires him to go the extra mile for his students.
Shoprite’s foray shows why Kenya’s retail market is still attractive to investors. The South African retail giant announced this week it will open seven stores in Kenya starting from mid-2018. Despite fears that dominant foreign chains will crowd out struggling local outlets, observers say the competition will only strengthen Kenya’s retail marketplace, reports Abdi Latif Dahir.
Expropriating land without compensation will only burden South Africa’s economic growth. South Africa’s parliament voted to seize land from white farmers without compensation. By taking Zimbabwe’s experience into account, agricultural economists Johann Kirsten and Wandile Sihlobo argue the plan will cost the economy through lost export revenues, job opportunities besides deficits in pensions and savings.
The underwhelming culinary experiences of a Nigerian palate abroad. At the age of 16 and heading to London, Yemisi Aribisala was still ravenous even after a three-course meal on the plane because it lacked anything resembling meat. In this excerpt from her book Longthroat Memoirs, Aribisala vividly documents why Nigerians will always be disappointed with bland food.
Cellphones, hair salons and grit: Digital art shows Africans in Israel as more than just migrants
Days ago, desperate African migrants painted their faces white in the hope that Israeli officials would treat them with more humanity.It was the latest act by Eritreans, Sudanese and other African migrants protesting their deportation from Israel in a system that has refused to make any room for them, describing the thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese who fled war as “infiltrators.”
While studying abroad at Tel Aviv University, Canadian artist Alicia Mersy was inspired by the drive and grit of African immigrants to make a life in Israel.
Mersy’s work offers a glimpse into the spaces where immigrants create a community and let their guard down.
Using photography as an excuse to get close to people and digital tools to go beyond documentary, Mersy’s work delves into the uncomfortable questions raised by Israel’s policies. The subjects of her work are by no means passive, and their visual representation challenges the negative stereotypes of African immigrants in Israel