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Chinese Trade in Angola Helps Recovery

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Two-way trade between Africa and China has been an outstanding success story of the past decade. It has led to significant new investment in the continent and brought many new job opportunities. The Chinese community in Africa comprises a mix of entrepreneurs and workers. In formerly war-torn Angola, Chinese workers and investors have led an economic boom as the country recovers from decades of conflict.

The Chinese are generally young, well-educated, English-speaking, ambitious and hard-working. Estimates put the number of Chinese people in Angola at 100,000, and about 1 million across Africa.

The reason these bright young things need to come to Africa goes back to the essential reality of modern China: despite rapid economic growth, per capita incomes classify it as a poor country. While the outside world sees the glitzy, go-go progress of China’s cities, the country’s rural poor go unseen. Around 400 million of China’s 1.3 billion people have annual per-capita income equivalent to US $8,000, while the remaining 900 million have per-capita incomes as little as one-tenth that amount.

Some 6.3 million people in China will graduate this year from university, and it is still very hard for a well-educated Chinese person to get a good job right away. More than a quarter of these graduates will be unemployed, according to the Education Ministry.

There has also been disquiet in parts of Angola over China’s role, with some calling it “neo-colonialism”. But clearly, both Africa and China have much to gain by increasing cooperation.

In the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guangzhou), a trading hub nicknamed “Africa Town” has emerged since 1998. There are officially 20,000 African traders and entrepreneurs in the city of 18 million, but unofficial estimates put the number at more than 100,000. This African trading hub has emerged to the benefit of both the Chinese and Africans. It is a coming together of small traders matching Africa’s strong demand for consumer goods with China’s manufacturing powerhouse.

In Angola, the mix of entrepreneurs and workers is having a big impact on the country’s development.

Betty, a 22-year-old Chinese woman who has various projects in Angola, including the local Chinese language newspaper, is a typical go-getter.

“I am doing much better here than if I had stayed in China,” she told the BBC.

Another beneficiary of the two-way trade is Deng, a construction a worker: “I earn twice as much as I would at home and I have got a better job,” he said.

For most Chinese, foreign travel is still rare and the excitement of going to Africa to work both attracts and repels because of the continent’s reputation.

“At first I found it frightening, “said Wang. “You hear lots of stories of Chinese people being robbed by the locals.” But he found “there are great opportunities here.”

Another, Jet, who runs an air conditioning business, came to Angola five years ago.

“Everything had been destroyed,” he recalled. “There were no roads, railways, shops, nothing. Some Western companies were already here selling their products but I knew I could import things cheaper from China.”

The large infrastructure projects being undertaken by major Chinese companies are also creating new opportunities. Many Chinese labourers are working on building roads, railways, hospitals and vast housing complexes.

One of the more visible symbols of Chinese investment in Angola is the restoration of the Benguela Railway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benguela_railway), considered one of the great routes of Africa and built by British contractors. An engineering triumph, its 1,344 kilometres (835 miles) of track stretch up the Angolan coast, right into southern Congo. The railway took almost 30 years to build in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but little remained. Until very recently all but a tiny stretch of the line was closed. Now Chinese investment is rebuilding the railway and bringing economic improvement in its wake.

“I couldn’t do this before the railway was fixed,” a woman using the train to get to the market to sell her plump red tomatoes told the BBC. “Before, I had to travel by car which was much more expensive.”

And her income has improved along with the refurbished railway. “I am not rich, but a bit richer,” she said.

And unlike the British, who used the railway to export copper without paying for the resource, the Chinese labourers are getting paid and the Angolan government is paying back the Chinese loan for the railway repairs by selling oil overseas for a market rate.

Published: October 2010

Resources

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Old Adage Gets New Life

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Education is recognized as critical for development and improving people’s lives. Universal primary education is a Millennium Development Goal and countries are now allocating more funds for primary education across the global South. However, the options available to youth after primary education are often very limited.

The World Bank estimates that only nine percent of youth in the developing world will be able to go to a university or benefit from higher education scholarships. For the vast majority of youth, getting a job is often the only viable option to securing a livelihood; but in most developing countries the number of formal sector jobs is low and the only option is self-employment. Acquiring relevant training and practical skills can be crucial to becoming successfully self-employed. But where will the training and skills come from and who will provide it and pay for it?

This dilemma is being addressed by the “self-sufficient schools” concept. The model combines entrepreneurship and vocational education through school-based businesses that blend training and revenue-generation. The principle is simple: entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills are taught by successful entrepreneurs.

The model is being pioneered in several countries and has been successfully applied by UK-based charity TeachAManToFish in Ghana and Paraguay, targeting rural youth from farming families through a network of 250 vocational experts and institutions in 45 countries. The approach promotes a model for making education both more relevant and financially sustainable in rural communities.

Self-sufficient schools share several characteristics: they produce and sell goods and services; they focus on developing an entrepreneurial culture; they make a direct connection between theory, practical work and financial reward; they encourage learning by doing; they strive to keep improving in order to remain economically competitive; students are encouraged to work cooperatively; and students receive support after graduating, often in the form of microfinance for their new businesses.

In the South American nation of Paraguay, the Fundacion Paraguaya – San Francisco Agricultural High School – run by an NGO committed to poverty reduction through supporting entrepreneurship – found that small-scale farmers not only knew how to produce food, they also knew how to make a prosperous living out of it when given the right tools. Taking over a school previously run by a religious order, the NGO had the opportunity to put the concept to the test.

The organization’s head, Martin Burt states, ”It is not a matter of knowing how to grow the crop, or raise the animal; it is a matter of how to make money and then how to be financially successful doing farming in poor countries.”

The Paraguayan school is half way through its five-year plan, and already is covering two thirds of its recurring costs from the production and sale of goods and services, including specialist cheeses.

Published: May 2007

Resources

  • A paper on the concept of self-sufficient schools: Click here
  • CIDA City Campus, Johannesburg, South Africa: CIDA is the country’s only “’free’, open-access, holistic, higher educational facility” and is “operated and managed by its students, from administration duties to facilities management. In addition every student is required to return to their rural schools and communities, during holidays, to teach what they have learnt.”
  • The First International Conference on Self-Sufficient Schools is being planned by TeachAManToFish. Expressions of interest are sought from all individuals and organizations interested in taking part in the conference. Email conference@teachamantofish.org.uk for more information.

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Saving Water to Make Money

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

The world’s water supplies are running low, and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), four out of every 10 people are already affected. But despite the gloomy reality of this problem, entrepreneurs in the South are rising to the challenge to save water.

“The situation is getting worse due to population growth, urbanisation and increased domestic and industrial water use,” said WHO’s Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan. While the WHO has adopted the theme ‘Coping with Water Scarcity’ for this year, every year more than 1.6 million people die from lack of access to safe water and sanitation. Ninety percent of these deaths are children under the age of five.

The health consequences of water scarcity include diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, salmonellosis, other gastrointestinal viruses, and dysentery.

One unnecessary waste of water is car washing. The number of cars in developing countries is growing fast, with a 27 per cent increase in sales in China this year, and South America overtaking Asia as the world’s fastest-growing regional vehicle market (Global Auto Report). And all these cars will be washed, wasting this precious resource.

The large informal car washing market in Brazil has long been known for paying low wages and avoiding taxes. On top of this they also waste water. Lots and lots of water. In Brazil, 28.5 per cent of the population (41.8 million people) do not have access to public water or wastewater services. And 60 per cent do not have adequate sanitation (Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research).

Started in 1994, Drywash uses a locally available Brazilian organic carnauba wax to clean cars without using water. Drywash has also developed a line of cleaning products that cleans every part of a car without the need for water. They estimate they have saved 450 million litres of water in their first 10 years of operation. From the start, they set out to change the status quo and run a business that “thinks like a big corporation,” said its international partner, Tiago Aguiar.

To do this, Drywash’s management team focused on operating an efficient and professional business. When Brazil’s government passed strict laws against informal selling of products, Drywash was well positioned to benefit, with companies preferring to work with a legal business. Customers have also been attracted to Drywash because they know the service is consistent and to a high standard. Drywash made US $2.7 million in 2005.

Drywash prides itself on operating “on the books”, and paying taxes. They are also ambitious, and have expanded outside Brazil and into other services.

And they don’t just do private cars: they also clean private jets, with Drywash Air. They have also expanded into Mexico, Portugal and Australia, on top of 50 Brazilian franchises. They also want to enter the US market.

In China, Landwasher toilets is tackling the growing problem of providing flush toilets to the country’s 1.32 billion people. As its founder Wu Hao told the World Resources Institute (www.nextbillion.net), “Assuming all of our country uses water-flushing toilets, not even the Changjiang and the Yellow Rive will be enough.”

Formed six years ago, it has patented a process using a special agent and sterilisation to dispose of human waste without using water, and very little electricity.

Hao graduated from Beijing University’s Physics Department and developed management experience working in manufacturing, securities investment and corporate management.

“On a personal level, I love the natural environment… I can’t endure the large scale waste and damage to the environment caused by the process of construction in China.”

Landwasher has seen its sales grow to 40 million Yuan (US $5.2 million), and has six sales offices covering 27 provinces.

Landwasher has just been awarded a contract to provide portable toilets to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Published: September 2007

Resources

  • World Water Council: Established in 1996, the World Water Council promotes awareness and builds political commitment to trigger action on critical water issues.
  • Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council: Works on sustainable sanitation, hygiene and water services to all people, with special attention to the underserved poor.
  • The Stratus Group is a Brazilian fund looking for sustainable SMEs in Brazil’s high-growth green sectors.

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Successful Fuel-Efficient Cookers Show the Way

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

A Kenyan entrepreneur has cooked up a fuel-efficient stove and oven that uses less of a precious national resource: wood from trees.

Most African households using fuel-burning stoves either cannot afford clean-burning fuels like natural gas or electric stoves, or do not have access to them. They are stuck having to burn wood or other materials like animal dung – collectively called biomass – on open fires.

As well as using up wood and contributing to deforestation, there is another downside to these stoves. The use of polluting fuel-burning stoves by half the world’s population – including 80 percent of rural households – is a documented contributor to a host of health problems. Poor households not only have to contend with the ill health effects of dirty water and poor sanitation, the fumes from burning dung, wood, coal or crop leftovers lead to the global deaths of more than 1.6 million people a year from breathing toxic indoor air (WHO).

Two solutions in Kenya are helping people to cook more efficiently (meaning less time wasted on gathering material to burn, and less fuel used) and reducing cooking time by using heat more effectively.

Invented by Dr Maxwell Kinyanjui, the Kinyanjui Jiko is a fuel-efficient charcoal oven that comes in small, medium and large industrial sizes. Made entirely in Kenya, the ovens are custom designed for a variety of environments, from domestic household use and on-the-go safari models to high-capacity models for micro-enterprises and large institutions. Cooks can use the ovens to bake, toast, steam or boil. And they are 40 percent cheaper than cooking with electricity and between 15 and 20 percent cheaper than gas.

Kinyanjui’s Musaki Enterprises Ltd. (www.reskqu.blogspot.com/2009/01/arboretum-project.html) has developed a reputation for pioneering work in developing fuel-efficient stoves and ovens. Its most popular success to date has been the Kenya Ceramic Jiko (jiko is Swahili for cooker), or KCJ, a cheap, simple and effective stove. The company was set up in 1992, but has been involved in international aid-funded research and development efforts since the 1980s.

“My dad was on a very good team of highly motivated individuals in the early 80s who developed the stove through pragmatism, logic and good old-fashioned ingenuity,” said his son, Teddy Kinyanjui. “He then set up the independent Musaki Enterprises.”

The KCJ uses a ceramic liner placed inside a metal container. The metal is usually recycled, often taken from 55 gallon steel drums. The ceramic liner stops the heat energy from simply escaping into the environment and helps to focus the heat on cooking. Simply adding the ceramic liner reduces the stove’s fuel consumption by between 25 and 40 percent. The charcoal or wood sits in the ceramic basin and the burnt ash falls through holes in the bottom of the liner.

The stove design was a result of international and Kenyan cooperation, and has become popular in many African countries, including Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Senegal and Sudan. It is used in 50 percent of urban homes in Kenya and 16 percent of rural homes.

Musaki Enterprises say the KCJ stoves on average save between 1 and 1.5 tons of CO2 per stove per year compared to other models. In supermarkets, the KCJs retail for around US $5 and the Kinyanjui Jiko ovens start at around US $100.

The deployment of the KCJ stoves has helped in slowing the deforestation of the country, but has not been able to bring it to a halt because of population growth and poor re-forestation efforts, says Teddy Kinyanjui.

“The lack of forward planning in tree planting is making firewood and charcoal harder and harder to obtain,” he said. “Fossil fuels are unavailable or unaffordable. Tree planting must begin now on a huge scale for people to continue cooking.”

Teddy won’t reveal how profitable the KCJ stoves have been, but says, “I wouldn’t have gone to school if they didn’t sell well.”

“Well, more and more people keep buying the damn things as fast as we can make them, so I think our customers like them,” he said. “They really all seem to like that the stoves cook really well for really cheap and are very high quality.”

Published: June 2009

Resources

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022