China’s Overture towards Africa
The heads of African countries with the exception of E-swatini converged in Beijing on September 3, to attend the 2018 Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
At the summit, President Xi Jinping pledged that China would give financial assistance to the African continent to the tune of $60 billion (US). The finances, according to Mr. Jinping, would comprise of $15bn of grants, interest free and concessional loans, plus another $20bn of new credit lines; furthermore, $10bn would be provided as special fund for development financing, while, $5bn would similarly be advanced for financing imports from Africa; Chinese companies would in addition, invest at least $10bn in Africa within three years.
China’s outreach to Africa aims to build trade, investment and political ties with a continent often seen as overlooked by the U.S. and other Western nations. The advantage that China has is, unlike former colonial masters, Britain and France, is that the oriental country’s financial assistance doesn’t come with demands on governance and daily politics, waste and environmental management.
Although the heads of State received the proposal with great applause not everyone feels that the move is in the best interest of the continent. Critics of the move have said this is a debt trap while others strongly believe that Chinese engagement in the region is primarily concerned with natural resource extraction, infrastructure development.
Some segments of African society criticize Chinese enterprises for their poor labor conditions, unsustainable environmental practices, and job displacement. This was demonstrated in a viral video showing Chinese railway workers torturing Kenyan workers. Adding to this, a large number worry that Chinese funding will be a form of neo colonialism.
For now, only time will tell if the marriage of Africa and China will bear good fruit or otherwise.
Yoco offers credit card options to Businesses
In the highly globalized African nation of South Africa, statistics show that a mere 7% of South African businesses accept credit card payments although about 75% of the nation’s population are card holders.
This problem has plagued businesses that often are unable to sell their goods and services. In a bid to fill this lacuna, young South African entrepreneur, Katlego Maphai created Yoco.
Yoco offers a card reader and app, which allow users to turn smartphones into payment terminals. Now small businesses can use their smart phone the Yoco mobile app, and the hand held card reader to accept payments. The app has been widely accepted and so far Yoco is servicing 27,000 small businesses.
Cooking Oil into Diesel
Not trailing too far behind in the innovation sector is Kenya where 29-year-old Brian Lukano has found a way to combat steep fuel prices by converting cooking oil into diesel.
Through his company Biogen Diesel Kenya Limited, he has managed to convert cooking oil into a petroleum product he calls Zijani. The production process begins by scouring Nairobi for the raw product. He goes from hotel to hotel asking for used cooking oil, which he then transports to his plant for processing. As a testament to the effectiveness of the product, he has been using Zijani to fuel his car for the last nine months.
The cost of diesel in Kenya is Ksh. 103.25 (CAD 1.33) and while Lukano offers his at one litre for Ksh85 (CAD 1.09) to regular customers and at Ksh70 (CAD 0.90) to owners of the hotels that provide him with the cooking oil.
The plant has two tanks, one for storage and the second one where the used oil is cleaned and mixed with regular diesel before becoming a finished product.
His work has been approved by regulatory bodies including, the National Environment Management Agency and the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute.
He was quoted as saying that even airlines in the country have expressed interest in buying the product.