United States of Africa and Why every Person in Support Dies


The term “United States of Africa” was mentioned first by Marcus Garvey in his poem Hail, United States of Africa in 1924. Garvey’s ideas and formation systems deeply influenced former Africa leaders and the rebirth of the African Union.

In February 2009, upon being elected chairman of the 53-nation African Union in Ethiopia, Gaddafi told the assembled African leaders: “I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa.” The BBC reported that Gaddafi had proposed “a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move freely around the continent”. Other African leaders stated they would study the proposal’s implications, and re-discuss it in May 2009.

The focus for developing the United States of Africa so far has been on building subdivisions of Africa – the proposed East African Federation can be seen as an example of this. Former President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, had indicated that the United States of Africa could exist from as early as 2017. The African Union, by contrast, has set itself the task of building a “united and integrated” Africa by 2025. Gaddafi had also indicated that the proposed federation may extend as far west as the Caribbean: Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and other islands featuring a large African diaspora, may be invited to join.

Gaddafi also received criticism for his involvement in the movement, and lack of support for the idea from among other African leaders. A week before Gaddafi’s death during the Libyan Civil War, South African President Jacob Zuma expressed relief at the regime’s downfall, complaining that Gaddafi had been “intimidating” many African heads of state and government in an effort to gain influence throughout the continent and suggesting that the African Union will function better without Gaddafi and his repeated proposals for a unitary African government.

After the death of Gaddafi

Gaddafi was ultimately killed during the Battle of Sirte in October 2011. While some regard the project to have died with him, Robert Mugabe expressed interest in reviving the project. Following the 2017 Zimbabwean coup d’état, Mugabe resigned as President. On 6 September 2019, Mugabe died.


The nations of Eritrea, Ghana, Senegal, and Zimbabwe, have supported an African federation. Others such as South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria have been more skeptical, feeling that the continent is not ready for integration. North African countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, and post-revolution Libya who have traditionally identified more with rival ideologies like Arab nationalism, Berberism and Islamism have shown less interest in the idea.

Support appears to be inversely proportional to a nation’s power and influence. Doubts have been raised about whether the goal of a unified Africa can ever be achieved while ongoing problems of conflict and poverty persist throughout the continent.

The proposed federation would have the largest total territory of any state, exceeding the Russian Federation. It would also be the third most populous state after China and India, and with a population speaking an estimated 2,000 languages.


In the fictional Star Trek universe, the United States of Africa exist as part of the United Earth Government. Commander Uhura and Lieutenant Commander La Forge originate from Kenya and Somalia respectively, both within the United States of Africa.

In the fictional Halo universe, the United States of Africa exist as a nation of the United Earth Government, within the United Nations Space Command.

Arthur C. Clarke’s 1987 science fiction novel 2061: Odyssey Three features the formation of a United States of Southern Africa.

The 2006 French-Beninese film Africa Paradis is set in the United States of Africa in the year 2033.

The 90’s cartoon Bots Master has a United States of Africa, and its President is one of the few people who believes that Ziv “ZZ” Zulander is not a terrorist.

(Source:Wikipedia)

How Billions is lost daily on traffic and what we could do


It’s 15th September 2019, there’s smell of smoke everywhere, the streets are in utter confusion and the atmosphere is filled with hoots from cars and matatus. From a half a mile away, I see two matatu conductors fighting for a customer. Ahead of my car are hundred other cars and I’m starting to loose patience. I’m tempted to hoot too but where will the other matatu go to. It’s been a painful 40 minutes and I’ve barely moved more than 100 metres. I turn my engine off to atleast pass time with chess before my concentration is disrupted by a tap on my window. She’s a mother selling old school African hats. “mum, unauza aje?” I asked (mum, how much is a hat going for?) “Ni Mia tu kijana wangu” (it’s just a 100 Bob) she replied. Out of heartfelt apathy, I open my wallet and hand her a 200 shilling note with a smile on my face telling her to keep change.

“Ting!” That’s my medium app phone notification. Nairobi ranked the 4th most congested city losing 50 million Kenyan shillings daily and close to 18.25 billion annually. My mind is blown away. That’s a hefty amount of cash. What can that amount do? It can expand the existing roads we have or even build a new road from the city entirely. It can pay annual tuition fees for all day scholar secondary school kids. It can completely overhaul the housing situation in our urban slums not to mention the number of poor citizens that money could lift out of poverty. Right now, my line of thought is disrupted by a lame beggar going car to car to car in the hope of having something to put on the table by dusk. I’m tempted to argue for congestion but the 50 million we lose daily could help her too.

Traffic congestion involves so many powerful players that solving it automatically comes with a net political loss. I’m talking about the oil industries, matatu sector, road construction companies and the elephant in the room political donors. The 50 million that is lost goes to the hands of petroleum companies whose owners need no introduction, corrupt police officers, matatu owners and the car dealership companies.

Imagine if we only had KBS and double cabin buses on our roads. That amount of loss could be cut by three fifth (3/5). But who wants to board those buses if there’s a better alternative, manyangas and personal cars that can easily carry us to malls. I get the dire need for luxury but with that amount of money we can make those buses attain those standards too.

Moving on is the issue of routes, profitable and unprofitable. The routes to rich areas generally aren’t profitable that’s why you’ll rarely find a manyanga (pimped matatu). Just stop and think for a second, why? Luxury comes at a cost. Pollution that leads to many cases of terminal illness in these not so rich neighborhoods. Our lungs are getting polluted, many of our kids aren’t going to live to celebrate their 70th birthdays. It works like a drug, slow but steady doze that unlimately self distracts your entire system. Pollution doesn’t affect only our health but the atmosphere too like the unpredictable weather patterns, excessive floods, scorching sun and ice freezing cold.

In the end, this leads to many more poor people with poor health. Unlike the positive optimism peddled by our pundits about a growing, increasing economy, the net result is an increase in profit for the motor vehicle companies (foreign profits) and a shocking fall in people’s living standards. While the oil companies are benefiting and the GDP is increasing, millions are losing one of the most critical life’s essence :health.

The problem is sooo big that 3000 to 13000 Kenyans lose their lives from these vehicles and this year alone 262 have lost their lives. The issue of cars is a hot button issue but needs conversation all the same. The solution lies with all of us. We must force the hands of our politicians to spend that amount we are losing in cuting our traffic time by investing on rails and double cabin buses and getting rid of small vehicles or lowering the number to absolute minimum. It’s doable and it must be done.

Our society’s weakest link and the salient role of our teachers


Getting kids out of school was one of the policy decision errors made by our government. Atleast that’s what a lot of people are saying. Well there’s is no school in the entire world that left pupils in school. With a whole academic year now canceled, parents are more frustrated than they have ever been. Many are starting to realize that schools play bigger roles than just impacting knowledge. Teachers after all deserve some descent pay.

I have a sister and a brother in school, a typical day for them is waking up late and going to bed late. A larger share of the day is spent either binge watching TV shows or playing video games. The attitude is all the way up and playing a teacher role in their life is reasonably not working. With the economy proving steel hard, I’m tempted to tell my siblings that this is how the real world is. Just read the news of parents abandoning kids. It’s not that they are willing, it’s only because their hands are tighed. I know though that their minds are not well built to take in all those.

Here is what has unfolded since schools were indefinitely closed. First, thousands of teenage girls are pregnant. Second, a vast majority of students are engaging in drugs. Third, an overwhelming number has dropped academics all together and are now engaging in bodaboda businesses. Lastly, is the obvious lose of morals in the period they’ve been at home, increase in bad attitude, STDs and so on.

It’s a big problem and should the situation continue then we are going to lose an entire generation. We all thought that those highlighted problems were a thing of the past, but now we realize that they’re way costly than we ever thought before. Teen pregnancy is not only depressing to a teenager but also plays a good role in lowering their self esteem. Furthermore, it causes psychological trauma to parents who had great hopes in their daughters. Acute stage may lead to a parent losing hope all together.

Moving on is the perfect enemy of our society called drug abuse. Well, the effects are as sure as the sunrise. It not only impacts the economy but also the individual persons health and those around them. Heightened aggression, rudeness, being on the wrong side of the law are some but just a few of the short term negative effects.

Schools and teachers without a doubt helped in the larger war of fighting society’s malpractice and vices. Teachers played roles that many parents don’t. I’m beginning to think that strokes should be brought back. A little punishment keeps a kid in line. Those problems are our weakest link and the sooner we patch them, the stronger our society becomes. It’s going to call for all stakeholders in our society to chip in:parents, teachers, local authorities, government officials and even the students themselves. In the faces of struggle, in situations where the odds were massively against us, the only way we’ve always come back is via the untiring spirit of Harambee.

Kids and students are the engine of this country. They are a force for good. They can make big actual difference now and in the future. The harsh reality is that we’ve failed in inspiring, empowering and
grooming them. The fact of the matter is that we need our best strategist to reimagine our education curriculum. Short term, an emphasis on the traditional fabric of our society like respect for the elderly and consideration for our religious /spiritual values. Longterm is something in emotional intelligence, financial education, sex education and uncensored real life talks. No matter how small, no matter how big the baby steps we take in these directions, we will succeed in reawakening the undaring angelic spirit in our kids. Harambee!!

The oppressor versus the rich


A larger share of the population have been feeling marginalized and after days of waiting, the president heeded their call. The economy is going to reopen, people are going to move, churches once again will be accessible and yes, the inevitable is going to be back on out screens :politics. They say many are chosen but few are called. In the past 100 days we’ve seen new faces braving up for the top seat in our political ladder. On one hand we have the rich lead candidate proposed by the BBI and on the other we have the oppressor backed by the rift and a section of mount Kenya MPs. In the middle, we have Makueni governor, Kivutha Kibwana whose presence is pretty much irrelevant just like Ekuro Aukot and Alfred Mutua.

How did we reach here? To this state where we have two very bad options. We both know that the cynical, opportunic and darwinian rich have done nothing good but loot lots of public funds and keep more of the public money and economy to themselves. They advocate for unity in one hand but what they really mean is unity of the rich where anybody less is brutally and ruthlessly treated with threats, police brutality,massive unemployment and helfty court action.

The other side of the coin is not very good either. We have a totalitarian, propagandist, Trojan horse oppressor selling himself as a man of the people and a religious fanatic. The core lesson of history is that religion wrongly applied can sway the masses to do very bad things. An example in mind is Hitler. He brainedwashed the Germans with selective Bible verses to justify their atrocities and murder of millions of jews. We must and cannot buy into that. Moving on, oppression is nothing new in Kenya, we have had one before who not only mercilessly killed but also painfully tortured hundreds who discented politically and who spoke truth to the people. That’s not a good path we should follow either.

A vote for the two will be utter demoralization of our human values. It will be an act of cleansing and fine tuning our rotten tomatoes in our society. It will be a move to the worst spectrum of our democracy, not the dictionary meaning we currently have but real democracy where your vote really counts. A vote for the two will be a move from bad enough to worse.
Either we are going to witness a massive inequality gap between the opulent rich and the pitiful poor or we are going to get lots of innocent, well meaning people killed. Either we’re going to increase the GDP while all the same having a larger share of poor population or we are going to loose a government to appeal to totally.

Either way it’s a desperate situations Kenyans are presented with. Neither of the options are good nor an attempt to sway the masses into a third option. The resource and the influence the two horses have is unmatched. In conclusion, we arrived here as a result of decades of lies. We’ve been given an illusion of everything from democracy to education to economy. We don’t understand how our government genuinely and truly works. Elections have been reduced to an auction, education to a formality and economy a hoax where benefit goes to the political and business wealthy and the cost evenly distributed to the pitiable tax payers. It will take two years to recover from this conspiracy.

The fallacy of a non working economy


With eminent ease on lockdown, Kenyans are electrified and eagerly anticipating good news from the president. Humanity has survived a long test of time and the survival is far from over. A crystal clear picture of the over 100 days of lockdown is grotesque. A child killing a grandmother, women abandoning children. Teenage girls getting pregnant like dogs. There’s a smell of poverty everywhere you walk. People are desperate to do anything to keep their heads up. In other words, the economy is not working.

It’s a well known fact that Kenya has wonderfully managed the virus. The scarcely talked about issue is the number of city residents that are currently positive. A city with 100% energetic people and the devastating effect easing lock down could have on our elderly population back in our rural homes. Instances and cases of deaths could spiral if not sky rocket in the coming few months. An image that I genuinely don’t want to see.

Next up is the elephant in the room, the mass number of unemployed people and the myth of a non working economy. Brutal truth is that economy is just doing fine but the overwhelming number of people aren’t. The masses are hungry and some are homeless. In every ten young people, chances are more than 6 are not employed now. Lots of cash have been poured in the economy in the name of reducing the burden but that too isn’t working. That amount of money is just not reaching the guy in the street. Life is getting tough and tougher for him with each passing second.

What’s interesting is the widening wealth inequality between those at the top of the society(the politicians, the corporate CEO and so on) and those at the bottom of the pile. Nothing much has changed among the wealthy class. Their businesses are booming and their earnings over the past three month period has close to doubled. Just check our corporate half annual reports and out politicians salary not including their allowances let alone the so called covid 19 money that isn’t reaching the ground.

Attempts by global well wishers to make life bearable is almost definitely met with a corrupt cohort of greedy politicians. A group with no human moral framework. A group that expresses concern with one hand and lights fire with the other. Care for and about you only comes up in their speeches with barely no tangible action thereafter. It’s probably a painful truth we must take to heart. At the core of our spirit, we have conquered so much, we have come so far and a change in minds and hearts is paramount on our part. We must change our long held truth. A believe that the other person of a different tribe or religion is my enemy. Your enemy is the wealthy class. Your enemy is the propaganda machine that bombards you with lies every hour of every day. Your enemy is the illusion of democracy and the dictionary meaning of a working economy.

It’s barely half a decade ago when thousands suffered and some died for a true and real democratic process. Today, the same contenders are working together, with you as a pawn in another myth of building bridges. What they’re really saying is that your educated, smart, intelligible you has been reduced to a bargaining chip. A product to amass wealth and enrich one another. This is that time to reexamine all you see and know. This is the time to ask yourself who is your true enemy. This is the time to rember the words of Martin Luther King Jr, that oppression, poverty, injustice and propaganda anywhere is oppression, poverty, injustice and propaganda everywhere.

The working poor


The working poor.
In the tenure of my life, I’ve never seen anything as  scandalous as hunting for a job in a crowded market. It’s a long, painful and agonizing process. At the end of it, there’s always a juicy reward. To some, this is a dream come true but for many this is just but the beginning of decades of slavery.

Ever earning but never getting satisfied. Simply stated, working poor.

Well, in layman’s language, you earn but the amount of money you have is never enough to meeting your most urgent basic needs. I’m a career journalist, I get paid something close to 40,000 after tax and deductions . I pay rent of 15,000, I use about 6000 for transport, 3000 for lunch, 3000 for supper, breakfast of about 2000, airtime worth 1000, Wi-Fi of 2500. My salary is done and I haven’t sent my parents anything yet let alone buying clothes and household items. Not to mention another liabity, a girlfriend.

I have young siblings back at home. I’m first generation in my family to secure a real job. By now you get roughly how pathetic my life is, even though I have a job. Hypothetically speaking, I’m not alone. Many first time graduates are going through this exact situation. The situation is worse for people with families to maintain and loans to pay.

This kind of situation actively fuels desperation. An employee can falsify books, steal, engage in corrupt activities just to keep themselves a float. Essentially, they’re at the risk of depression, consequences of which are devastating. We’ve come so far to get this job, worse still, there are millions that can’t get this opportunity. We’re so close yet so far from breaking even. Clear and informed knowledge of our rights is paramount at this stage.

This is the time for a broader debate and discussion with our bosses. This is the time to let our bosses know that we’re overworked yet underpaid. Be warned though. You don’t do that alone. Be in a union or unionize. Unionization makes you indispensable. It can help you address the poor working condition in your work place.

Necessary precaution has to be undertaken in the formation of these unions. They’re the target of politicians and its very easy for your union to loose track of it’s core purpose and divert to a politically oriented union that’s is backward and unenlightened. You can see some of these unions around in this country with lots of their member’s silenced into grim poverty.

Rarely will you get a pay raise, the status quo is and has always been a constant if not a declining wage. Job security is rare and it’s going to be worse after the pandemic. Profit maximization is and has always been the pivotal aim of our organizations and that’s expected to be even more fierce after this pandemic. Stuff will be laid off with no replacement with the remaining employees forced to overwork to compensate for their gone colleagues. Guess what? All these with no pay increase. You can change that with this knowledge. Remember, our struggle is genuine equality which is economic equality.

Ruto : The politician.


Ruto is a force to be reckoned with, both by the local political elites and the global political establishment. He made two presidents :Raila and uhuru. When Ruto rallies behind you, you win. This though is not the image of Ruto you have.

The image that the dynasty and their media corporation have succeeded in painting is a corrupt man, a snake,a venomous snake to be killed entirely. It’s a carefully crafted campaign strategy that started way back with rumors of the deputy president being sent back to Hague, to attack on his overstated networth to sands of scandals he’s linked to and finally to the now attack on his close allies. This is how you take down a big fish.

What’s is saddening is that all these are just lies. They are selective application of partial facts to sway the general population’s public opinion. He has proven to everyone that he’s the perfect enemy of good.

The greatest threat for both our local politicians and international community is having a social revolution among our citizens. That’s the core reason why they’ll play all cards on the book to stop that from happening. Media is the number one tool they use to manipulate the educated class in our society into thinking that building bridges is literally building your life. That’s an outrageous lie.

Simple fact is that none of these so called senior leaders want you to get off poverty. It’s not that they can’t get you out, it’s only because there are so many interest at play. And trust me, you’re not on the table. Successful development is independent development. And Ruto happens to be that positive example for many that must be stopped. He’s proved himself a shrewd politician. He’s also proved himself that he can never bow to the foreign forces when it comes to Kenyan interests. In other words, he’s not a puppet.

He’s willing to take them on both here and abroad. He’s willing to play by the west philosophy that the world must be ruled by force in the illusion of democracy and human rights. He’s aware of the sea of misery and suffering that has characterized many of our citizens for years. Now with an electrifying danger glaring before him, we must all work along side him to stop the millions of silent genocides and atrocities that claim our population inform of debts and propaganda. He’s the best we have for now. He’s leveled out the political playing field.

Poor, hopeless youth. You’re the target of attack!


Poor, hopeless youth. You’re the target of attack from both depression and politicians. You just graduated during worst of times. The country is facing a global pandemic and many companies are just not hiring. You’re the heartbeat of our political campaigns yet during one of your darkest moment, nobody seems to care about you. There’s a reason, that is reasonable, why you are at the state where you are. It’s not your lack of optimism and strength but the lack of political willingness to alleviate you from your already nasty condition.

You’re staying in a single room in probably not a very posh neighborhood. Probably you want to start or you already have a YouTube channel or a blog. You feel too old for your age and your dreams seems to be eluding you. You know profoundly deep in your heart what you need to do to prevent your younger sibling from going through the same nasty condition you’re currently undergoing.

You’re a human being and you’re far from perfect. We live in a world that’s not perfect herself. Your long reign of poverty will worsen if you don’t do all you can do to make this moment better. For a start, say no to depression. Stop gambling and stop wasting your life on drugs and start reading books. Learning the skillful schemes of our political propaganda machines demands that you study from the same playbook they’re studying from.

The journey ahead is far, however, it cries for our collective willingness to oppose and challenge the political status quo. You and I, know very well that our problems are not circumstantial but political. It goes to the very dime you pay when you buy bundles and withdraw from mpesa and yet don’t demand accountability on how your tax has been used. Worst is being quiet knowing very well the people wasting if not looting it. It’s a responsibly that’s too heavy for one individual to bear but it’s a burden that can be bore by all of us thinking critically about what happens in our political landscape.

Don’t undervalue your power. You’re a force for good with a right not a given to mould political beauty as you deem fit. Never ever give up on your inherent inalienable right to excise your political power. Engagement equates change and change equates a better life for all of us. Wish me best of luck in this journey and help me as a friend to make this city just what it could be rather than settling for what it is right now.

Age of Revolutions


For those who find it helpful to look at history to better understand current events, Age of Revolutions is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on episodes of political unrest and social upheaval.

Age of Revolutions

Africa:Driving Africa’s Growth



Curation: African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET)
Fostering entrepreneurship across the continent could boost growth and help address inequality
Entrepreneurs in Africa inhabit a fragmented, dynamic space that hovers between legitimate and illegitimate economies. That is in part a reflection of a society that is relatively less engaged with formal banking and payment services. As recently as 2014, only 34% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa had access to any financial services, according to the World Bank’s Global Findex Database; the version of the database published in 2018 found that in eight out of 10 economies in the region, more adults reported having saved money semi-formally than “formally” – that is, with a bank account. The interest rates on loans from traditional banks are generally prohibitive for regulated small businesses, while those operating in the informal economy are often ineligible for financing. That has had a limiting effect, but has also been an impetus for technology innovation; the 2018 World Bank database found that 21% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa had a mobile money account, the highest percentage of any region in the world. The further development of basic communications technologies and infrastructure is essential for lowering African entrepreneurs’ operating costs.

Globally, Africa is contending with a changing landscape – as traditional trading partners have faced economic slowdowns and economic interest from large emerging economies, particularly China, has grown. While Africa’s economic growth in recent decades has been impressive, high levels of inequality and youth unemployment have persisted. That could breed social discontent, and threaten political stability. A Boston Consulting Group study examined income per person, jobs, governance, health, and inequality, and found that general well-being in significant areas of sub-Saharan Africa is relatively low. Meanwhile 17 of the 20 lowest-ranked economies in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Competitiveness Index are in sub-Saharan Africa, and most economic activity still takes place in the informal (illegitimate) economy; 66% of all non-farm employment in sub-Saharan Africa was informal as of 2015, as was 52% in North Africa, according to International Labour Organization estimates. Sub-standard access to education and health care for those living in poverty further aggravates inequality, making it harder for the disadvantaged and their children to improve their economic status. And yet, inequality is not always an explicit focus of African governments.

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics:Robots at Work



Curation: University of Cambridge
Robot surrogates are increasingly being used for dangerous work and in extreme environments
Robots have long been used on factory floors for welding and painting. Now, they’re making custom-ordered hamburgers, navigating through crowded hotel lobbies, hopping on elevators, and delivering room service. Amazon has been at the forefront of introducing robots to our daily lives, with its clerk-free markets that enable automatic payment via credit card, Kiva merchandise handling systems, and drone delivery. Robots also enable exploration, by probing the depths of the ocean floor, deep space, the moon, and asteroids. The latest space-ready robots can work side-by-side with astronauts in the International Space Station, and US and Russian teams are working on robo-astronauts that could explore other planets. Robots are also being developed to perform crucial jobs during humanitarian crises. For example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge is developing robots that would have been capable of saving lives during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Other robots in development may perform hazardous deep mining jobs, work with toxic substances, and clean sewers. Drones in particular have captured the popular imagination; they are a popular option for aerial photography, and Amazon and others are testing their use for delivery. 

In less dramatic fashion, robots can use an electronic brain located in the cloud to become trustworthy butlers, silently and faithfully listening to queries about traffic, the weather, and turning on the air conditioning. Next-generation robots will be performing tasks that require even more complex decision-making, aided by continuously increasing computing power. In January 2016 the company Nvidia unveiled a supercomputer capable of up to 24 trillion operations per second, equal to the power of 150 MacBook Pro notebook computers. This could enable a car to learn to drive by itself, through so-called reinforcement learning, rather than the conventional approach of finding a safe path by using real-time optimization. As related technologies mature, self-driving cars will become common, and will likely fundamentally change the job market by eliminating occupations like bus driver. Critical tasks that go beyond physical labour, such as reading x-ray films and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, are already being performed by computers. Discovering new medicines might even be a possibility; after all, artificial intelligence is already helping to dispense financial advice to many people, with considerable accuracy and speed.

Banking and Capital Markets


Curation: Imperial College Business School
The financial crisis transformed the way we view the interaction between banking, capital markets, economics, and politics. We must find a way for the global economy to reach its potential, while also minimizing the risk of destabilizing side effects. Tighter global regulation, efforts to develop capital markets that operate in healthy co-existence with a bank-based financial system, and a more pivotal role for central banks are current features of the industry – with some variation according to location. In every country, technology is changing the face of finance, particularly as trust in the banking industry and the political establishment has generally eroded.

This briefing is based on the views of a wide range of experts from the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network and is curated in partnership with Professor Alexander Michaelides, Professor Gilles Chemla, Professor Marcin Kacperczyk, Professor David Miles and Professor Rajkamal Iyer at the Imperial College Business School.

Driving Africa’s Growth


Curation: African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET)
Fostering entrepreneurship across the continent could boost growth and help address inequality
Entrepreneurs in Africa inhabit a fragmented, dynamic space that hovers between legitimate and illegitimate economies. That is in part a reflection of a society that is relatively less engaged with formal banking and payment services. As recently as 2014, only 34% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa had access to any financial services, according to the World Bank’s Global Findex Database; the version of the database published in 2018 found that in eight out of 10 economies in the region, more adults reported having saved money semi-formally than “formally” – that is, with a bank account. The interest rates on loans from traditional banks are generally prohibitive for regulated small businesses, while those operating in the informal economy are often ineligible for financing. That has had a limiting effect, but has also been an impetus for technology innovation; the 2018 World Bank database found that 21% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa had a mobile money account, the highest percentage of any region in the world. The further development of basic communications technologies and infrastructure is essential for lowering African entrepreneurs’ operating costs.

Globally, Africa is contending with a changing landscape – as traditional trading partners have faced economic slowdowns and economic interest from large emerging economies, particularly China, has grown. While Africa’s economic growth in recent decades has been impressive, high levels of inequality and youth unemployment have persisted. That could breed social discontent, and threaten political stability. A Boston Consulting Group study examined income per person, jobs, governance, health, and inequality, and found that general well-being in significant areas of sub-Saharan Africa is relatively low. Meanwhile 17 of the 20 lowest-ranked economies in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Competitiveness Index are in sub-Saharan Africa, and most economic activity still takes place in the informal (illegitimate) economy; 66% of all non-farm employment in sub-Saharan Africa was informal as of 2015, as was 52% in North Africa, according to International Labour Organization estimates. Sub-standard access to education and health care for those living in poverty further aggravates inequality, making it harder for the disadvantaged and their children to improve their economic status. And yet, inequality is not always an explicit focus of African governments.

City Focus: Dubai


From the towering Burj Khalifa to the duck ponds of The Sustainable City, Dubai is a diverse and fascinating city. Business Chief takes a look at how it’s preparing for the coming decade.

Home to over 3.3 million people, Dubai is a shining jewel in the crown of the Persian Gulf. With its decadent man-made coastline shaped like palm trees, five-star hotels, and the 828 metre tall Burj Khalifa towering over it, the city stands in striking contrast to the surrounding desert. Dubai’s history was, for many years, linked to the United Arab Emirates’ fortunes as a titan of the oil and gas industry. Today, however, less than 5% of the country’s revenues come from oil, and the emirati government continues to take steps to ensure the country is an economic entity of the future, and that Dubai is at the forefront of its efforts.

This month, Business Chief explores Dubai as the city sets its agenda for the coming decade in terms of foreign trade, urban development, sustainability, industry, tourism and finance.

District 2020

Launched in January by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, District 2020 (otherwise known as the Dubai Future District) is a new urban development linking the Dubai World Trade Centre, Emirates Towers and the Dubai International Financial Centre in what will be the Middle East’s largest purpose-built economic district development. The towers will become focal points for the development.

According to Marcus Sutton, the General Manager of the Jumeirah Emirates Towers, “Combining the three powerhouse districts will elevate the city’s overall financial appeal and Jumeirah Emirates Towers is proud to be in the centre of this ground-breaking initiative. It will provide convenient access for guests who are working and relaxing in the World Trade Centre and DIFC, and they will benefit from proximity to new cultural attractions such as the Museum of the Future.”

District 2020 has been envisioned as the birthplace and home for a new generation of emirati businesses, destined to carry the country forward into the new decade. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said via Twitter that District 2020 would be a “new space dedicated to the development of the future economy, as well as a [$272.25mn] fund to support new economy companies who can power Dubai’s future growth”.

The fund’s aim is to attract entrepreneurs and startups to the district through its Scale2Dubai programme, and to support them in an environment known as the future economy research centre.

A post-oil future

At the launch of District 2020, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also outlined directions to raise Dubai’s volume of non-oil foreign trade to more than $554bn by 2025. The country is committed to moving even further beyond its oil-reliant past.

“We’re aiming for a major shift in Dubai’s foreign trade through stimulation and revitalisation with continuous development of all its logistical, legislative and service tools, in addition to building new international partnerships,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who continued to note that tourism would also play an important part in the city’s future. “The new Dubai offices for trade and tourism promotion will be based around the world, and the unification of external efforts will carry better results for the Dubai economy,” he said. “2020 will be the beginning of a huge developmental leap, and it is the year that will drive us to the next decade with full force.”

An oasis of sustainability

Maintaining a bastion of luxury in the heart of the desert is no mean feat. The energy requirements to cool, feed and water Dubai are immense, but throughout the city the public and private sector are taking steps to ensure that its people have the opportunity to live as sustainably as possible.

The Sustainable City is a 46 hectare property development, just inland from the Palm Jumeirah. Built in 2015, the $354mn development is the first net zero energy development in Dubai. The area is festooned with solar panels, and set apart from other neighbourhoods by the striking series of habitat domes running through its heart. There are pools, electric smart cars – even ducks. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 2,700 people who live there have been recognised as “The Happiest Community” in the Gulf Cooperation Council for three years running at the Gulf Real Estate Awards instituted by the Dubai Land Department.

Expo 2020 Dubai – the greatest show on Earth

In October, 190 participating countries and millions of visitors will flock to Dubai in order to attend the first ever World Expo held in the Middle East. The Expo will be spread over 190 pavilions across 1,083 acres between the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi and will be divided into three themed districts: Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability.

In addition to facilitating trade and development around the world, Expo 2020 is intended to increase awareness of the challenges that humanity faces on a global scale. The focus of this gargantuan undertaking is very much the youth, the future and the planet they’ll inherit.

In order to avoid the sins of some previous Football World Cup and Olympic Events, the emirati government is ensuring that the hundreds of grandiose facilities currently under construction for the event will be in use for years to come. Over 80% of Expo 2020’s built environment will be repurposed into District 2020, which has been carefully planned to maximise the Expo site’s use in the future.

Dubai is about to enter the 2020s with a bang, and seems to show no signs of slowing down.

A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity for Universal Basic Income


With one eye already on re-election, US President Donald Trump is racing towards “opening up America again” despite economists’ consensus that re-opening the economy only when safe is better than risking lockdown again soon after. Regardless, once business does get back up to speed it is certain we will face a new normal.

The 2008 Global Financial Crisis was a walk in the park compared with the current predicament. The rise in unemployment as businesses close, lay-off or furlough employees is unprecedented. Even China’s first quarter GDP in 2020 shrunk by 6.8 percent. How long this recession will be is dependent on how soon a vaccine can be found.

Social distancing may have slowed the virus’ spread, but it also paralysed significant parts of the global economy, with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) particularly badly hit, making governments more important than ever before. Administrations all over the world dug into their reserves to keep the economy and, more importantly, the cash flow amongst individuals, alive. It is useful to differentiate between stimulus packages and survival handouts. At the height of the pandemic, when layoffs, furloughs and salary cuts enveloped a significant portion of the labour force, various handouts to help businesses stay afloat were of utmost importance. The Australian government announced on March 22 a package worth $54.2 billion (USD) and another worth $79 billion just eight days later, with a significant portion going to SMEs to help pay workers. In Hong Kong, the SAR government’s 2020-21 budget included a cash subsidy of $1,200 to all adult residents. In the UK, a programme granting companies 80 percent of workers’ salaries costing $95.1 billion was announced by the Chancellor on March 11.

That we needed a pandemic and an economic meltdown to realise the need for a guaranteed income so that basic needs can be met is a tragedy in itself. The idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is not new. From 19th century British economist John Stuart Mill to 2020 US Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang, many have discussed the idea of a guaranteed and unconditional recurring payment to every member of society so basic needs can be met by everyone, especially society’s most vulnerable.

Clearly, in-depth studies need to be conducted to determine the correct amount in each territory, but Andrew Yang suggested a monthly income of $1000 per person while Arvind Subramanian, former Chief Economic Advisor to the Indian government, suggested an annual payment of about INR 8500 in some states in India.

A popular argument against UBI is that a guaranteed income will make people satisfied with “handouts” and unwilling to work. But this assumes poor people are lazy. Results from the World Values Survey show otherwise. In the sixth wave of the study (2010-2014) involving 60 countries and nearly 90,000 respondents, more than a quarter of the sample agreed that in the long run, only hard work brings a better life. Less than 7 percent said success is a result of only luck and connections. There was little difference in opinions between the richest and poorest quintiles. In the same survey, 24 percent agreed it is the government’s sole responsibility to ensure that everyone is provided for, while only 7 percent stated that it is the sole responsibility of the individual. Result vary from place to place, but with a guaranteed income, exploitation of the poor could be reduced, while among the non-poor, a greater interest in voluntary acts contributing to the social good could be facilitated.

Another concern is this policy would break the bank of the government. A $10,000 payment annually to every American would cost more than $3 trillion a year, which is equivalent to the entire tax revenue collected by the federal government. But social expenditure of the US, defined as all cash benefits, provisions of in-kind goods and services and tax breaks with a social purpose make up about 19 percent of the US GDP. This is marginally below the OECD average of 20 percent. Mexico spends only 7.5 percent of its GDP on social benefits. Considering the amount the US government spends on ineffective welfare programmes (as well as the billions it spends on destructive armaments), coupled with UBI’s ability to empower the population by providing a certain level of dignity, it is certainly well worth serious consideration. The fact that governments have allocated large amounts for social purposes in the last few months indicates it takes a non-partisan political will to make an impossible idea a reality.

The new normal of the post-COVID world will still require world leaders to solve old issues such as poverty and income inequality. Artificial Intelligence and off-shoring will continue to replace cheap manual labour and push workers into poverty, whilst owners of technology and other non-labour assets will continue to amass greater wealth. The subsidies given to companies and individuals to protect their livelihoods during this pandemic can offer governments insight into how UBI can be implemented intelligently and successfully in the coming new normal.

Every crisis brings change to the world. The Great Depression brought about greater spending on job creation and social welfare programmes; democracy and freedom bloomed in many developing countries after the Second World War; and a stronger financial system emerged from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic clearly shows that health and social welfare systems need to be re-vamped everywhere. Let’s not waste this once-in-a-century opportunity.

Dr. Bala Ramasamy is Professor of Economics and Associate Dean at CEIBS.

Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution


Technology can be a tool for positive change as we rebuild after the pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread it triggered a wave of potentially dangerous misinformation online. It also underlined both the potential benefits – and the potential privacy concerns – related to technologies capable of tracking a person’s location. Around the world, the technologies powering the Fourth Industrial Revolution played both positive and negative roles as countries grappled with one of the gravest global health crises in modern history. In the US and other countries, for example, the internet and social media networks in particular were used to spread misinformation about unproven and potentially dangerous treatments, and conspiracy theories about links between 5G technology and the coronavirus. Meanwhile in South Korea contact-tracing technology which may have violated privacy laws in other countries, including a government app used to track the whereabouts of foreign visitors and location-tracking bracelets, was effectively deployed to suppress the spread of COVID-19. As the global economy begins to recover from the pandemic, such technologies could be further harnessed in ways that, on balance, bring benefits – in terms of restoring health, preserving the environment, and bringing people together.

Instances of technology being used to help fight COVID-19 include machine learning-enabled chatbots that have been used to safely screen people for symptoms. Meanwhile wearable technology like smart wristbands has been used to curb the spread of the coronavirus in care homes – which have been inordinately impacted by the pandemic. In the United Kingdom, for example, the number of deaths in care homes reached 6,409 in the week ending 1 May; that exceeded the total number of deaths in hospitals for the same period, for the first time since the start of the outbreak. As the pandemic recedes, technology can also be better used to facilitate the sustainable use of natural resources. For example, blockchain technology could help players in the global seafood industry better match supply to demand as the effects of the pandemic continue to roil markets – and some catches are literally dumped back into the sea. Another example of applying technology to environmental challenges can be found in NASA’s call in May 2020 for gamers to help identify and classify the world’s corals through a video game dubbed NeMO-Net.

Source WEF