The questions that I get asked most often by students, policy makers and political leaders are: “can democracy work in Africa?” and “is Africa becoming more democratic?”.
As we celebrate Africa Day and reflect on how far the continent has come since the Organisation of African Unity was founded in 1963, it seems like a good time to share my response.
Some people who ask these questions assume that the answer will be “no”, because they are thinking of the rise of authoritarian abuses in places like Burundi and Zambia. Others assume that the answer is “yes” because they remember recent transfers of power in Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria.
Overall trends on the continent can be read in a way that supports both conclusions. On the one hand, the average quality of civil liberties has declined every year for the last decade. On the other, the number of African states in which the government has been defeated at the ballot box has increased from a handful in the mid 1990s to 19.
To explain this discrepancy, I suggest that we need to approach the issue a little differently. Instead of focusing on the last two or three elections, or Africa-wide averages, we need to look at whether democratic institutions such as term-limits and elections are starting to work as intended. This tells us much more about whether democratic procedures are starting to become entrenched, and hence how contemporary struggles for power are likely to play out.
When we approach the issue in this way it becomes clear that democracy can work in Africa – but that this does not mean that it always will.
The rules of the game
Democracies are governed by many different sets of regulations, but two of the most important are presidential term-limits and the need to hold free and fair elections. Because these rules have the capacity to remove presidents and governments from power, they represent a litmus test of the strength of democratic institutions and the commitment of political leaders to democratic principles.
So how are these institutions faring? Let us start with elections. Back in the late 1980s only Botswana, Gambia and Mauritius held relatively open multiparty elections. Today, almost every state bar Eritrea holds elections of some form. However, while this represents a remarkable turn of events, the average quality of these elections is low. According to the National Elections Across Democracy and Autocracy dataset, on a 1-10 scale in which 10 is the best score possible, African elections average just over 5.
As a result, opposition parties have to compete for power with one hand tied behind their backs. This helps to explain why African presidents win 88% of the elections that they contest. On this basis, it doesn’t look like democracy is working very well at all.
Colonialism brought large-scale farming to Africa, promising modernisation and jobs – but often dispossessing people and exploiting workers. Now, after several decades of independence, and with investor interest growing, African governments are once again promoting large plantations and estates. But the new corporate interest in African agriculture has been criticised as a “land grab”.
Small-scale farmers, on family land, are still the mainstay of African farming, producing 90% of its food. Their future is increasingly uncertain as the large-scale colonial model returns.
To make way for big farms, local people have lost their land. Promises of jobs and other benefits have been slow to materialise, if at all. The search is on for alternatives to big plantations and estates that can bring in private investment without dispossessing local people – and preferably also support people’s livelihoods by creating jobs and strengthening local economies.
Two possible models stand out.
Contract farming is often touted as an “inclusive business model” that links smallholders into commercial value chains. In these arrangements, smallholder farmers produce cash crops on their own land, as ‘outgrowers’, on contract to agroprocessing companies.
Then there is growth in a new class of “middle farmers”. These are often educated business people and civil servants who are investing money earned elsewhere into medium-scale commercial farms which they own and operate themselves.
So what are the real choices and trade-offs between large plantations or estates; contract farming by outgrowers; or individual medium-scale commercial farmers?
These different models formed the focus of our three-year study in Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. Evidence suggests that each model has different strengths. For policy makers, deciding which kind of farming to promote depends on what they want to achieve.
Plantations are ‘enclaves’
Our cases confirm the characterisation of large plantations as being “enclaves” with few linkages into local economies. They buy farming inputs from far afield, usually from overseas, and in turn send their produce into global markets, bypassing local intermediaries.
Plantations are large, self-contained agribusinesses that rely on hired labour and are vertically-integrated into processing chains (often with on-farm processing). They’re usually associated with one major crop. In Africa, these started with colonial concessions, especially in major cash crops such as coffee, tea, rubber, cotton and sugarcane. Some of these later became state farms after independence while others were dismantled and land returned to local farmers.
Many plantations do create jobs, especially if they have on-site processing. Plantations may also support local farmers if they process crops that local smallholders are already growing. For example, we found an oil palm plantation in Ghana that buys from local smallholders, giving them access to processing facilities and international value chains they would otherwise not reach.
But, typically, plantations have limited connections into the local economy beyond the wages they pay. Where production is mechanised, they create few jobs, as we found in Zambia: the Zambeef grain estate employs few people, and most of these are migrants whose wages don’t go into the local economy. And the jobs that are created are invariably of poor quality.
The main story is that plantations take up land and yet often don’t give back to the local economy. In the cases we researched, all the plantations led to local people losing their land. For instance, the establishment and later expansion of the 10,000-hectare Zambeef estate led to forced removals of people from their cropping fields and grazing lands.
There are some benefits from plantations and estates. But, given more than a century of bad experience, it may be time to concede they seldom – if ever – live up to their promises.
Contract farming brings benefits for some
Contract farming has a long history in Africa, dating back to colonial times. As with plantations, these arrangements were largely for the major cash crops, including cocoa, cotton, tobacco and sugarcane.
Contract farmers are smallholders who enter into contracts with companies that buy and process their crops. Sometimes members of outgrowers’ households might also get jobs on larger “nucleus” estates run by the companies. Whether or not they benefit, or get mired in debt and dependence, depends entirely on the terms of these contracts. Our study looked at contract farming in Ghana’s tropical fruit export sector, in French bean production in Kenya and in sugarcane farming in Zambia.
Contract farming has been hailed by some as the “win-win” solution, enabling commercial investment for global markets without dispossessing local farmers. Farmers farm on their own land, using their own family labour, while also accessing commercial value chains – rather than being displaced by large farms. But we found that this is not necessarily the case. Crucially, there are different kinds of arrangements that determine who benefits.
In Kenya, contract farmers are poorer than most farmers around them. For them, farming on contract provides a crucial livelihood, especially for poor women, who cultivate French beans for the European market and combine this with seasonal jobs on big farms.
In one Zambian block scheme all outgrowers gave up their land to Illovo, a South African company that grows sugarcane. The company pays them dividends. Here, the landowners, typically the old patriarchs, benefit from cash incomes. Young people lose out: they neither inherit the land nor control the cash incomes.
Contract farming clearly provides one effective avenue for smallholders to commercialise. It means, though, that smallholders take on both the risks and the benefits of connecting to commercial value chains.
Medium-scale farming: a promising option
Between the large plantations and the small contract farmers is another model: medium-scale commercial farms owned by individuals or small companies. We studied areas where medium-scale farms were dominating: mango farmers in Ghana, coffee farmers in Kenya and grains farmers in Zambia. While this kind of medium-scale farming also has colonial origins, the past two decades have seen massive growth in new “middle farmers”. Many of them are male, wealthy, middle-aged or retired, often from professional positions.
The medium -scale commercial farming model has a lot to offer. We found that they create more jobs and stimulate rural economies more than either big plantations or smallholder contract farmers. Yet cumulatively, such farms may threaten to dispossess smallholders, just as the big colonial and more recent plantations and estates have done.
The push behind the explosion of the “middle farmers” in the countries we studied has been investment by the educated and (relatively) wealthy. In Ghana in particular, we found, their expansion has displaced smallholders. Cumulatively, even modest-sized farms have led to substantial dispossession and reduced access to land.
Their informal employment patterns mean poor working conditions and few permanent jobs. But, unlike the plantations, these farms are well connected with the local economy. Building on social networks, these “middle farmers” often buy inputs and services from local businesses. At least some of their produce is sold into local markets.
Winners and losers
While policy choices are of course political, they can and should be informed by research about the implications of these different pathways of agricultural commercialisation. What is clear from our research is that different kinds of commercial farming will have different effects on the economy. It’s not just about efficiency. Ultimately, it’s about who wins and who loses.
Ruth Hall, Associate Professor, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape; Dzodzi Tsikata, Associate Professor, University of Ghana, and Ian Scoones, Professorial Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
South Africa’s top manufacturing union NUMSA said that 600 workers out of 1,500 at General Motors SA will lose their jobs by July after a decision last week by the car maker to sell its local operations.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) said in a statement that GM had confirmed the numbers and issued lay-off notices as required by law.
American automotive giant General Motors had last week announced that it is withdrawing from the South African market. As a result, production and sales of Chevrolet models will cease and Isuzu will take control of the firm’s Port Elizabeth operations.
Experts at the 52nd African Development Bank Annual Meetings, which started Monday in Ahmedabad, India, have identified the missing links to building a strong trade and investment relationship that will lead to sustainable development in India and Africa.
Those missing links are the inability of African countries to exploit the preferential trade agreements provided by India; the need for capacity-building of small and business enterprises in Africa to bring out their real potential; using technology to leapfrog development in many sectors like education; and the inability of Indian financial institutions to push credit facilities to banks in Africa.
Manoj Dwivedi, Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department of Commerce, Government of India, highlighted the four missing links when he address the audience at a panel session on African India Co-operation entitled: “Exploring Diversity: Promoting Trade and Investment”. He was joined by Admassu Tadesse, President and Chief Executive of Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB), who said that his bank has been opening up to India for support it with credit facilities but it has not taken the opportunity.
“It’s time to consolidate our trade agreement preferably with trade blocs such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),” said Dwivedi, adding that out of 21 countries, which offered duty-free partnership 11 of them have not subscribed to it.
Mahmood Mansoor, Executive Secretary of Comesa Clearing House, Zimbabwe, who was a participant at the session, concurred. Mansoor insisted that only India can address the problem.
Other panelists included David Rasquinha, Managing Director, Export-Import Bank of India; Sfiso Buthelezi, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Finance, Republic of South Africa; Abdoulaye Fall, Vice-President, Operations, ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development.
India and Africa have had robust trade relations. Bilateral trade between them has risen around five-fold in the decade from US $11.9 billion in 2005-2006 to US $56.7 billion in 2015-2016. The rapid growth in bilateral trade flows has come about because both Indian and African Governments have systematically brought down the barriers to seamless bilateral trade flows, by dismantling various tariff and non-tariff barriers. Private sectors in both regions have been at the helm of various trade promotion and facilitation initiatives.
According to a theme paper on “Africa-India Cooperation 2017: Partnerships to Industrialise and Move Africa up the Value Chains”, India has steadily opened up its markets to African exports. The result is that Africa’s trade surplus with India has increased rapidly, albeit driven in large part by a narrow range of suppliers and commodities. Consequently, today India’s export to Africa have increased almost four-fold from US $7 billion in 2005-2006 to US $25 billion in 2015-2016, accounting for 9.5 percent share in India’s total exports.
Conversely, India’s imports from Africa, increased seven-fold from US $4.9 billion in 2005-2006 to US $31.7 billion in 2015-2016, accounting for 8.3 percent share in India’s imports total imports. India’s imports from Africa grew at an annual average of 29.8 percent during 2005-2006 to 2015-2016, as against India’s exports to Africa that grew at an annual average of 15.9 percent during the same period.
Read more - African Development Bank (AfDB) Group website.
Seeking societal outcomes to investment is a growing theme to watch as more wealth is directed towards making a difference.
While philanthropy is still an immature market in Africa – the recent Knight Frank Wealth Report 2017 pegs it as a 4% priority in Africa versus a 9% global average – increasing wealth in Africa will change this paradigm significantly.
Global Head: Wealth Advisory at Standard Bank Group, Philip Faure says wealth management is a far broader concept today than it ever was, with philanthropy set to grow in popularity across Africa.
“More African wealthy people are thinking beyond their own lifetimes to make a difference to their communities and societies after they are gone. Seeing a social return on investments is becoming increasingly sought after and this trend correlates with increases in wealth,” says Faure.
The Knight Frank findings show that over the next decade Africa’s number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals will grow by 33%, after suffering a decline of 2% in 2015-16 due to tough market conditions. The growth in ultra-wealthy populations in Africa will outpace that of Europe and North America over the next decade.
“The funny thing about the free market system is while it creates innovation and pushes society to new areas, you tend to also get a lot of money in a few hands. There is no doubt there is a growing gap between haves and have nots, but this is in turn generating interest in the formalised giving process. People in Africa are definitely putting a lot more thought into giving,” says Faure.
The Knight Frank Wealth Report 2017 Attitudes survey points out that private aviation, education and philanthropy are all high on the agenda for ultra-high net worth individuals worldwide. “There are a lot of reasons for this, ranging from leaving a family legacy to seeing it as an obligation because the system is so imperfect. While giving often drops below the radar in a country like South Africa due to the private nature of foundations, there is a lot of activity and people are hard at work bridging the gaps in society,” says Faure.
So while there is enough money out there that can make a difference, wealthy people also want to ensure they achieve an impact and are not ripped off by doing so. “This is why education and advice is so important. Families need to understand the full range of these activities, from establishing foundations, managing foundations, managing capital and grant making, among others. They need to work with trusted partners and adviser to ensure their objectives are met within an over-arching wealth management strategy,” says Faure.
This comes as inequality is at centre stage on the global agenda. “In Africa philanthropy needs to play a big role where general resources fall short – government has limited resources after all – so this is a key way to top up the difference,” says Faure.
The super wealthy, in particular, have responsibility to give back but there is also a need to take a step back and see the impact of philanthropy as a social return on investment.
While most wealthy people very often still view philanthropy in isolation from their wealth creation, more wealthy families are actively considering the social and environmental impact of the businesses they own or the investments they make, according to Knight Frank.
Importantly, the art of giving must form part of an overall, long-term wealth management plan, which includes building wealth, preserving wealth, and maintaining lifestyle and legacy wealth.
Standard Bank – Africa’s largest bank by assets and with a footprint in 20 countries in sub-Saharan African, as well as in Jersey, the Isle of Man and London – continues to provide advice that matters to families seeking to broaden their philanthropic activities while maintaining their overall wealth objectives.
“Despite philanthropy being an immature market in Africa at the moment, we will see this trend growing in the future. Education on the benefits and how it works will become more important as there are enormous complexities involved. Trusted experts with a deep understanding of Africa need to assist by setting up the most appropriate structures to maximise outcomes and optimally formalise the giving process,” says Faure.
Zimbabwe’s visa regime is among Africa’s most restrictive, after it was rated number 21 on the Visa Openness Index out of 54 countries on the continent.
Zimbabwe’s visa regime has three categories, namely A- in which citizens from selected countries are exempt from visa requirements, B – where citizens of the targeted countries apply for visas on arrival and C, where those falling in the group are required to apply for a visa while still in their home country.
The report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas by looking at what they ask of citizens from other African countries when they travel. The report was also done in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the World Economic Forum measures.
According to the report, Zimbabwe at number 21 is tied with Zambia with a score of 0.433 points and in terms of visa openness by category Zimbabwe is ranked number 17 on No Visa, number 8 on Visa on arrival and 29 on Visa’s required.
South Africa is one of over 54% of African countries whose borders are not open to fellow Africans travelling from another country and therefore require a visa before they can enter. The more liberal or relaxed a country’s visa policy for travelers is, the more visa open they are. Data on visa openness was collected between September 2016 and January 2017.
The data found that Seychelles is the only country that is visa free for all Africans, and therefore ranked highest on the Africa Visa Openness Index. South Africa ranked 34th on the index, up one spot from 35th in 2016, as we provide visa-free entry to 14 countries and require a visa before entry from 40. While Africa has 55 countries, the report only features 54 countries recognised by the African Union.
Western Sahara is the least visa-open country as it requires a visa from travelers from all 54 countries on the continent. East Africa is the most visa-open region, while North-Africa is the least open.
Visa-openness is important building a bigger, more integrated market to promote greater stability and attract investment, according to the report.
“African countries are on average becoming more open to each other, with indications that travel within the continent is becoming easier. Africans currently don’t need a visa to travel to more countries than previously and they need visas to travel to fewer countries, ” it states.
Four countries moved into the top 20 most visa-open states on the index and over a third of countries put in place efforts to offer more liberal visa policies. At the same time, more countries announced specific measures to improve their visa regimes going forward.
Twenty-one of 55 African countries have moved upwards in rank on the index since 2015. Forty-seven countries have improved or maintained their visa openness scores. “When we started this work, only five African countries offered liberal access [visa-free or visa upon arrival entry] to all Africans. We are making progress, but need to accelerate the pace. For countries who have either visa-free or visa-on-arrival policies you can see the positive impact on the number of visitors to those countries. Over time, you’ll also see it in the trade figures,” said Acha Leke, Director, McKinsey and Company and member of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Africa.
See the full report on African Development Bank (AfDB) Group website.
In theory, the world of entrepreneurship should be gender-blind. Start-up businesses are judged on whether they survive or die, and you might have thought that the same stark definition was applied to entrepreneurs themselves.
But the discussion around how business people operate in this bruising arena has struggled to detach itself from broader stereotyping around sex – and it is starting to wear thin.
In popular thinking around entrepreneurship, in the press and in research, certain attributes are presented as “male-only”. These traits associated with building a business include self esteem, risk taking, autonomous decision making, over confidence, the need for control, resilience, and ego. Put all that together and you have a familiar archetype … of a male entrepreneur.
The trouble is that female entrepreneurship is most commonly described in opposition to these traits. And so a woman who starts a business is expected to show an affinity for collaborative decision making, a focus on service and an aversion to risk. The reliance on this stereotyping does not reflect the reality, and reinforces false ideas about what it takes to start and grow a business.
The truth is that female entrepreneurs strongly identify with so-called “male only” attributes. They use these traits to maximise business opportunities in the same way men do. To properly reflect that, it’s down to anyone involved with the entrepreneurial world to proactively change the labels and recalibrate the discussion.
It won’t be easy. Female entrepreneurs are even told by their own mentors, by female-only development programmes, and by others not to become like men in order to be successful; not to share the traits associated with male entrepreneurs. This is ludicrous. There are no behaviours that could be regarded as strictly for males that ambitious female entrepreneurs and professionals, either do not have, or won’t pick up en route to success in a competitive environment.
There is a caveat to this. Women tend to “do better” on programmes that are tailored towards females only, but this may well be because they don’t have to worry how to handle stereotypical expected behaviours. The uptake of female entrants into entrepreneurship can be considerably increased if we avoid alienating them with language, expectations and archetypes that make them feel like they are “acting like men” by displaying certain attributes.
Entrepreneurial learning theory – which studies what and how entrepreneurs learn while they explore opportunities – suggests that entrepreneurs with no business experience adopt behaviours which will allow them to be seen as credible and successful. We face the reality that gender differences still permeate research and public perception, and so female entrepreneurs feel the pressure to adapt in order to meet public expectations when dealing with investors and other stakeholders because the stakes are high.
What about when it comes down to emotions? Well, the idea of entrepreneurial emotions such as passion, pride and fear can be misleading. These emotions influence both genders and can be enduring or transient.
Gender differences in emotions still persist and have a strong influence on the entrepreneurial creation of new businesses (a male entrepreneur’s love for his businesses has been shown to be the same as a parent’s love for their child). A male’s sense of pride might appear greater than a female’s, but neuroscientist Antonio Damasio argues that everyone’s decisions are equally influenced by emotions. The context in which entrepreneurs find themselves is critical in this debate.
For example, when family and businesses collide this might create more vivid anxiety or guilt for women, while male entrepreneurs might display more clearly the same emotions in the failure of a business idea, because the interplay between work and home is less intense.
Attitudes towards risk are also still separated by sex in most discussions. The acceptance of risk is higher in males than females when starting a business. But women who have taken the same financial and business risks as men are largely overlooked among researchers and professionals because they are a smaller group and do not contribute significantly to statistics. It is time to recognise these women, so that we can address the stereotypes here. And at the same time, we can listen to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on how women can frame and embrace risk.
We can’t flip societal judgements overnight, but we should recognise that entrepreneurial attributes such as ego and high self esteem, which drive the need to be successful, are not gender specific. Many are guilty of judging a female entrepreneur who puts her business before her family by different standards to those of a male equivalent. A woman who takes a financial risk by putting up the family home as collateral can be deemed to be going against “female-only” entrepreneurial traits, rather than conforming to attributes shared by all fellow entrepreneurs.
Our understanding and labelling of successful entrepreneurial traits matters. There must be more discussion about the converging nature of female and male entrepreneur’s attributes and emotions, and a move decisively away from the idea that this somehow represents women “acting like men”. These are adventurous and professional women, making autonomous decisions, taking calculated risks, and needing to be in control. They are entrepreneurs.
Owned by Nespars, Multichoice Africa is Africa’s largest video entertainment and internet company with a strong presence in South Africa and across the African continent. The company owns the popular pay TV service called DStv.
According to MyBroadband, MTN is in discussions regarding a potential acquisition of MultiChoice Africa. Based in Dubai, MultiChoice Africa was founded in 1996 and offers numerous entertainment services, including DStv, Box Office, Catch Up, DStv Now. This comes as a result of MTN pointing out its plans to venture into Smartphone streaming services. The demand for online has been growing during the few recent years with pressure from services like Netflix and the now Youtube.
However, MyBroadband asked MTN about the discussions, but declined to comment. MultiChoice and Naspers sidestepped the question on the potential sale, and instead confirmed it is in discussions regarding a content supply agreement with MTN.