RCA Flag
RCA Flag
Connecting Africa’s Skilled Professionals
RCA Flag

ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

Library of Articles

Africa Diaspora & Development

ImageHow Sierra Leone's Diaspora is promoting Investment for the country's development
Sierra Leone today is open for business. With enormous potential across sectors including tourism, mineral resources, fisheries and agriculture, investing in the country also offers a link to the wider market of West Africa and the 225 million inhabitants of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). However, for potential investors - including non-resident nationals of Sierra Leone - gaining access to information and advice about investment opportunities within the country can be difficult.

The Sierra Leone Investment Information Portal (SLIIP) was developed to address the lack of cohesive Diaspora-specific investment information on Sierra Leone. An initiative of the Sierra Leone Diaspora Network (SLDN), SLIIP was borne out of a series of consultative forums held by Diaspora in the UK in 2005 and in Sierra Leone in 2006.

ReConnect Africa spoke to Georgina Awoonor-Gordon, Programmes Manager of SLIIP, to learn more about the organization and what it is aiming to achieve for the country.

RCA: What factors influenced the SLDN to create the Sierra Leone Investment Information Portal (SLIIP)?

G A-G: Sierra Leoneans have long been major investors in Sierra Leone, but this has been largely on an informal basis. The first Sierra Leone Investment Forum in the UK in June 2005 posed the question of the role of the Diaspora in Sierra Leone's development.

"The main challenge for us over the last few years has remained the perception that Sierra Leone is still engulfed in war."

One of the constraints to investment in Sierra Leone, as highlighted by the delegates, was the lack of Diaspora specific investment information. Further consultation sessions also pointed to the need for a 'one stop shop' that provided information on investment opportunities.

In short www.sliip.org was launched to provide information that was at the time, unavailable through other sources. The information provided is focused on business, policies and regulations that relate to the various sectors, employment and consultancy opportunities in Sierra Leone.

RCA: How do you reach out to Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora with investment advice?

G A-G: SLIIP is an online portal so is open to the Diaspora and all investors all over the world. Regular bulletins and newsletters are sent out to our database and posted on various networks.Image One of our objectives is to form sector specific working groups (based on interest and skills) in order to encourage active participation in investment back home. These working groups are then charged with formulating action plans for sustainable investment within the various sectors.

SLDN works closely with the Sierra Leone High Commission and other groups and individuals. After various consultative meetings, two areas for intervention and investment were identified, namely Agriculture and Health. Until a governing body is elected, these working groups are led by SLDN Steering Committee specialists.

Based on a number of enquiries to SLIIP, another group has been formed which will focus on Alternative / Renewable Energy investment in Sierra Leone.

RCA: What are some of the perceptions that challenge your efforts to market Sierra Leone as an investment destination?

ImageG A-G: The main challenge for us over the last few years has remained the perception that Sierra Leone is still engulfed in war, or in some level of civil and political unrest. This is a perception that has affected Sierra Leone on so many different levels, and one which we, along with other individuals and organisations, are very keen to reverse. The term 'Re-branding Sierra Leone' has now become a buzz word for many Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora.

Another challenge is the unfortunate reputation of corruption. Related to this are the reports of the various complications encountered when trying to set up a business in Sierra Leone. We are happy to say that the Government of Sierra Leone (past and present), in collaboration with other NGOs, most notably DFID, have worked hard over the last few years to reverse these barriers to investment. This has resulted in an official announcement in February this year, outlining a reduction of the administrative steps to setting up a business. Of course, the process of effecting these changes in still in its infancy, but we are hopeful that this signals a positive and encouraging step for potential investors.

RCA: What are some of the initiatives and projects that SLIIP is involved in?

G A-G: SLDN currently acts as the coordinating body for the sector-specific working groups mentioned earlier. On a day to day basis, SLIIP welcomes enquiries about investing in Sierra Leone. We are keen to link people and networks together with the aim of creating a bigger impact. We have had requests for information from as far as Singapore, and we have managed to link this source with a women's agricultural community based organization in Sierra Leone.

"The first step to making any investment is 'Research', and this is where the information provided on SLIIP proves important; be aware of the policies and regulations that govern your sector of interest."

SLIIP holds an 'Announcements' section where clients can upload various consultancy and project details. As well as our very popular job vacancies section, another major project for us is the collation of a skills database of Sierra Leoneans. This database will highlight the wealth of intellectual and entrepreneurial resource that can be found within our nation, both at home and in the Diaspora. The potential of such a resource cannot be overstated as it would mean that one can tap into skilled Sierra Leoneans across various disciplines all around the world.

ImageIt is important to understand that SLIIP is a portal of information and a 'signposting' vehicle to other relevant organizations and individuals, with the main aim of boosting economic growth in Sierra Leone. We are keen to complement the work of other investment and developmental organizations such as the Sierra Leone Business Forum (SLBF), whose mission it is to support Private Sector Development (PSD) in Sierra Leone. SLDN will be hosting an event on PSD and Relocation to Sierra Leone in May, in collaboration with the SLBF and the newly opened Office of the Diaspora. Please visit www.sliip.org for more information.

RCA: What are your future plans for organisation and for getting your message out to a wider audience?

G A-G: It is all about 'promotion, promotion, promotion' for SLIIP at the moment. Our main aim for the future is to continue to produce reliable and quality information so that we can acquire a bigger client base by building upon our brand.

We are also keen to develop strategic partnerships with relevant organisations, again as a way to promoting collective action. For example, SLIIP will work with Sierra Leone Television (SLTV), aired on BEN TV (Sky Channel 194). This partnership will provide an opportunity for SLIIP to highlight the work being done on a global level to support socio-economic development in Sierra Leone.

SLDN will continue to work with the Government of Sierra Leone, making recommendations for improvements in policies and regulations across the various sectors, as necessary.

"Our main aim for the future is to continue to produce reliable and quality information so that we can acquire a bigger client base by building upon our brand."

We have an Outreach Officer who is charged with the responsibility of visiting various Diaspora organisations nationally and internationally to promote the work of SLDN and SLIIP's services.

RCA: What advice can you offer to potential investors from the Diaspora?

G A-G: My top five tips for Diaspora investment are:

  • The first step to making any investment is 'Research', and this is where the information provided on SLIIP proves important; be aware of the policies and regulations that govern your sector of interest;
  • 'On the ground' research is of course, vital. It is surprising how many people embark upon projects in Sierra Leone without a proper business plan (including a budget);
  • Join a network like SLDN, where potential investors can network and share and exchange ideas and experiences;
  • Be open to forming partnership(s).
  • Look beyond the capital, Freetown, for viable investment opportunities

For further information on SLIIP and the Sierra Leone Diaspora Network (SLDN): www.sldn.org.uk   www.sliip.org

Migrant workers are expected to send home US$225 billion this year, according to a World Bank study which showed remittances playing a key role in slashing poverty rates in developing economies and representing the biggest source of foreign exchange in many countries.

While remittances highlighted migration's positive impact on development, the study also examined the negative effects of the brain drain of educated migrants from developing countries. Five out of 10 college graduates from Sierra Leone and Ghana, for example, live outside their country while many countries in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa show rates of migration among professionals of over 50 percent.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Prof. Wangari Maathai addresses Africa Diaspora and Development Day 2005

On July 2nd, 2005, while British rock stars took to the stage in London’s Hyde Park, several hundred Africans gathered at the London Metropolitan University to tackle the serious question of how Africans outside the continent can mobilise their own resources to create and sustain jobs, enterprise and wealth in Africa.

Africa Diaspora and Development Day (AD3) is the annual one-day event held by UK-based African Foundation for Development (AFFORD).  Enterprise was the focus for the 2005 event; how Africans can use the skills, experience and knowledge acquired outside the continent to boost employment-creating economic growth in Africa.  Featuring a range of master classes and workshops on subjects including enterprise development, employment and careers in Africa, the purpose of this year’s ADDD was to explore the mindsets, structures and mechanisms needed in order for Africans outside Africa to support SME growth in Africa.

ImageArriving to a standing ovation, the keynote speaker for the event, Professor Wangari Maathai, Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in Kenya and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, expressed her delight at the commitment of Africans in the Diaspora to the economic and social development of Africa.  While acknowledging the efforts of the musicians campaigning in London’s Hyde Park, she urged the Africans present to remain focused on what they are already doing.

Peace and Democracy

Professor Maathai paid tribute to the Nobel Prize awarders for recognising that the environment, democracy and peace are inextricably linked.  Using the analogy of a 3 legged African stool, she noted that the extent to which any country is willing to invest in all 3 legs – managing resources in a sustainable way, sharing resources more equitably and creating a democratic space that respects the rule of law and human rights – will determine the extent of its ability to develop. 

In a keynote speech punctuated by extended applause, the Kenyan Minister spoke of Africa as a continent rich in natural and human resources but impoverished by the exclusion of the majority to the natural resources of the land.  Another major cause of poverty, she said, was the inability of African countries to add value to their natural resources and cited the need for skills, information, knowledge and tools as critical to the development of value added processes and services.

Touching on the subject of the billions of dollars sent to Africa by the Diaspora each year in the form of remittances, the Nobel Laureate warned that without skills, remittances will not enable people to make productive use of the money sent.  Turning to the theme of the day, she noted that 90% of businesses in Africa are small enterprises and urged the conference to identify ways in which skills could be identified to aid such businesses as, with limited opportunities for employment; an enterprise culture is needed as a means of creating wealth in Africa.

“Where are your 10 trees?”

Referring to the environment, Professor Maathai urged a change of attitude to the ecosystem.  “The Congo Basin forest ecosystem”, she said, “is the second largest in the world and is of critical importance to African and global climate patterns.”  She challenged the audience to make sure that each person plants ten trees to replace the carbon dioxide they will use in their lifetime. 

“Plant trees”, she said. “Ask people to plant trees for you in your village, in your country.  Do you know where your ten trees are?”

Fielding questions from the audience after her speech, Professor Maathai insisted that Africans are now in a position to push their leaders, especially since African leaders are now more willing than ever to be pushed.  “Democracy will happen when people demand better governance of their leaders and for that they need education and information,” she said.  Thanking the organisers of AD3, she closed by urging action and the need to work together, adding; “We met here today and because of this, we have made a difference.”

According to the World Bank, remittances from Africans living in the diaspora represent the largest flows of money into Africa today, far exceeding official donor aid and foreign direct investment.

ImageFinancial resources are not the only options on offer and a number of Africans in the diaspora would also like to offer human resources to support African development. For many who want to share their skills within Africa, a combination of ineffective structures and systems as well as negative attitudes on the ground, often prove a major obstacle.

The African Foundation for Development (AFFORD), a non-governmental organisation founded in 1994 to expand and enhance the contribution that Africans in the diaspora make to Africa's development, has taken on the challenge of harnessing the skills of Africans in the diaspora for the benefit of grassroots entrepreneurs in Africa.

March 2006 saw 15 resource persons leave the UK for Sierra Leone, the first country to benefit from this programme. Recognising that for many Africans, particularly the young, entrepreneurial activities are often used as a route to migrate to the West rather than to stay at home to invest their money in a business, AFFORD’s initiative connects experienced diaspora resources with African entrepreneurs to deliver tangible results.

The programme has two aspects; training people in Sierra Leone to become trainers in basic business skills and, secondly, providing business planning sessions in Freetown and across the regions through local partners that include the Swazy Jewellers Organisation, SLIBA (Sierra Leone Indigenous Business Association), the Ministry of Youth and Sport, the Young Leaders Group and ENCISS.

The project involved extensive planning by AFFORD and was preceded by a three-week feasibility study in Ghana and Sierra Leone, including in-depth discussions with over 100 individuals from grassroots entrepreneurs to established businesspeople, business support agencies, development experts, academics and senior government officials. The selection of the resource people identified for Sierra Leone followed a rigorous assessment day that tested both the technical and soft skills of applicants.

Project Aims

A key aim of the project, which was funded by Voluntary Services Overseas and its Diaspora Volunteering Initiative, is to develop a resource pool of skilled Africans from the diaspora and in-country to support grassroots entrepreneurs through face-to-face and long-distance interaction. This approach will enhance the skills and confidence of entrepreneurs, helping to develop their business ventures and provide hope along with the creation of much-needed jobs. At the same time, it offers a chance for an often-disconnected diaspora to re-engage with “home” and find a means to contribute to society by improving in-country institutional capacity of small-scale grassroots entrepreneurs and enterprises.

“The long term goal is to help these businesses to improve and create jobs thereby reducing unemployment.”

One particular outcome of the programme is the intention to heighten awareness of business ventures most likely to have a direct poverty-reducing impact, encouraging Africans outside the continent to channel their remittances in a manner that supports enterprise and helps with job and wealth creation. The project also aims to support gender equity and diversity by providing equality of opportunity to young women entrepreneurs, young entrepreneurs with disabilities or living with HIV/AIDS.

AFFORD has an impressive record of building capacity, having worked with over 100 African organizations in the UK working for Africa’s development through direct hands-on advice, training, and networking. It has successfully pioneered many initiatives that help Africans in the diaspora support initiatives by Africans within Africa.

Project Benefits

The programme will deliver a number of key benefits by enabling more young people to draw on business support services to establish their own businesses rather than migrate.

Through gender-sensitive training, AFFORD hopes to inspire more young women to set up their own businesses, thus breaking a cycle of poverty. A longer-term benefit is the ability of the programme to foster the flow of remittances into productive investment ventures, creating a wider impact from these flows and a faster reduction of poverty. Christine Matambo, AFFORD’s Programme Officer emphasises that the organisation’s mission over the next three years is centred on enterprise and tapping into the UK diaspora as resources to provide skills, financial and social contacts.

Image"We are starting with the skills mission and this mission is allowing the diaspora to take time to share their skills, either in their country of origin or from a pan African perspective, to empower local grass roots entrepreneurs," she explains.

"The long term goal is to help these businesses to improve and create jobs thereby reducing unemployment. We’re not talking about large-scale jobs; even if one or two are created by each business, this will contribute to reducing especially youth unemployment, which is an Africa-wide problem"

"A Fantastic Experience"

The programme has proved an unqualified success and provided a memorable experience for participants. For Manja Kargbo, a resource person who travelled to Makeni with her team, the programme was evidence that business people in the informal sector do know what they need but often simply lack support.

“The mission was a fantastic experience that allowed me to look at the informal business sector with fresh eyes and share my ideas with the local participants on how to grow their businesses”, she says.  “In the developed world, most who want to start businesses can go to business development agencies for advice and support, or can easily access the internet for information- in Sierra Leone, that is not readily available.'

Matambo and AFFORD hope that the financial benefits will flow as relationships are built.  “Through these missions,” she adds, “the diaspora and home entrepreneurs will be able to develop a level of trust so that, in the near future, we hope that people from the diaspora will be able to invest financially in these small businesses.”

The next enterprise development mission is to Ghana in May/June 2006 and AFFORD are looking for Ghanaians to join the initiative.  For further details, contact: Christine Matambo, Programme Officer, AFFORD on 020 7587 3900 or Christine@afford-uk.org

Photo: Lisa Anderson

AFFORD launches programme to supporting Susu Collectors in Ghana

As a component of its MAHDREIA (Mobilising African Home and Diaspora Resources for Enterprise in Africa) programme, the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) is organizing its second Enterprise Mission to Ghana in July 2006.

ImageThe programme involves tapping into diaspora skills, knowledge and experience to support the development or expansion of grassroot enterprises in Africa. The UK Enterprise Africa Resource Pool will work on the ground for two to three weeks with identified grassroots entrepreneurs – The Susu Traders - who have already made important strides in their business.

Mentoring for Business Growth

The UK Resource Pool will be listening to the ideas and experiences of the Susu Traders and will draw on their own skills and experience to help with developing robust business plans and providing business advice.

84% of economically active Ghanaians operate in the informal sector

84% of economically active Ghanaians operate in the informal sector.Most of them use informal financial systems such as Susu Collectors to handle their cash.

“That’s why working with Ghana’s Susu Collectors to help them grow their businesses is also a vital part of helping millions of Ghana’s entrepreneurs to grow Ghana’s economy, improve their lives and create more jobs,” says AFFORD. 

The project is intended to improve and expand business for the Susu Traders, ultimately leading to creation of jobs and wealth for young people in the country. As part of their strategy, AFFORD hopes to contribute, in the long term, to supporting Africans to harness Africa’s enormous potential and riches for the benefit of Africans in Africa.

“The enterprise missions to Africa represent a unique way of tackling the high unemployment levels faced by the majority of African countries,” explains Christine Matambo, AFFORD’s Project Officer. “Leveraging diaspora resources to help grassroot entrepreneurs develop their businesses to a point where they are able to provide even two jobs, would make a significant contribution to employment-based poverty reduction and foster economic growth and development.”

The Susu Traders

On the July 2006 mission, members of the AFFORD Enterprise Resource pool will work with the Susu Traders to help them improve their business services. Currently, their operations focus on collecting weekly from market women and at the end of each month, the Susu Traders give the market women back their total monthly revenue, thereby helping the market women to save better. In return for these informal banking services, the Susu Traders earn a commission from the market women

“The enterprise missions to Africa represent a unique way of tackling the high unemployment levels faced by the majority of African countries.”

The Susu Traders are currently undergoing enterprise training under the Barclays Microbanking Programme, which is working closely with the Ghana Cooperative Susu Collectors Association to help local Susu Collectors support local enterprises. The AFFORD mission will also provide post-training mentoring around developing business plans to help the Susu Traders take their business to the next level, improve their creditworthiness and expand their businesses.

For further information about the AFFORD mission: contact Christine Matambo at Christine@afford-uk.org

Image Nepad Chief Executive Joins African Heads of Mission to celebrate Africa Day in London

At a special Africa Heads of Mission in London meeting to mark Africa Union Day on 25 May, Professor Firmino Mucavele, the Chief Executive of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), paid tribute to the visions of Africa’s founding fathers, while highlighting the challenges faced by Africa today.  Established in 1999, the Africa Union is the successor of the Organisation of African Unity which was formed in 1963 to promote the unity and solidarity of African states, eradicate colonialism, defend territorial integrity and promote international co-operation.

Welcoming the diplomatic delegates and other invited guests, H.E. Samuel Mbei, Dean of the African Union Heads of Mission, introduced the panel of speakers and challenged those present to engage in a frank exchange of views on the way forward for Africa.

David Batt, Director of the African Partnership Forum, presented a speech on behalf of the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn.  In it he highlighted the steps that had been taken since the report presented by the UK’s Africa Commission and noted that “the role of the AU is essential in finding and implementing Africa solutions to African problems.”

The African Union and NEPAD

Professor Mucavele reflected on the ideals behind the formation of the OAU and how, 36 years later, the leaders of Africa decided to set up the African Union (AU) to succeed the OAU in order to better face the new challenges of integration on the continent. 

Professor Mucavele spoke of his own organisation and the philosophy, strategy and progress of NEPAD. “NEPAD is about partnership, ownership and mutual accountability.”  He stressed that NEPAD is not an institution in conflict with the AU, but a programme of the AU, developed by African leaders to promote sustainable development and that the organisation is about making smart partnerships for human, social, institutional and economic development.

“NEPAD is also a philosophical framework,” he explained.  “A programme, a development framework and a philosophical framework.” As a programme of the AU, it aims to promote good governance, rule of law, peace and security; to build institutional capacity and mobilise human, material and financial resources for Africa’s development.

Image The need for unity in Africa is paramount, Professor Mucavele said.  “We should stand together. NEPAD is about building Africa and strengthening the Africa Union.”

The Professor spoke of his organisation’s mission to help restore self-confidence   to Africa and of how unity and partnership among African countries would lead to more appropriate and effective negotiations with the West for development in Africa.  In seeking financial resources, he spoke of how Africa could leverage its existing resources to better effect.  “The problem of Africa is not about money but sharing what we know.  It’s about self-confidence,” he said.  “We must use these principles to negotiate with our development partners and to dignify Africa.” 

The Professor argued that the continent needs to mobilise its human resources in order to have knowledge and value systems and to better leverage its natural resources.  “We have them,” he said, “but still suffer from famine – 300 million people living on less than $1 dollar a day.”  The continent, he added, also needs institutional resources to harmonise and synchronise procedures and laws so that it can trade. 

Unity and Partnerships

ImageUnity and partnership was the recurrent theme of the Professor’s address.  “Partnerships are key for Africans, but only when we know what we want and we know what we want to do.  Then we can negotiate knowing our comparative advantage.  We should create new products and markets and harness and generate financial and human resources for development.”

The Professor acknowledged the challenges of corruption within the Continent but also pointed out that corruption is a universal challenge and one that involves complicity from other parts of the world.  “We can fight to change the image of Africa but we have to move to new ways,” he said.

What is needed to help make the difference for the African continent, he said, was working together to effect increased productivity, efficiency and lower transaction costs on the continent.  The role of NEPAD in this process was critical.  “NEPAD operationalises the principles of the AU and oversees their implementation.  Our emphasis is now on partnership between African countries and regional and continental integration.”

Pictures by Bright Malopa.

Image “Let us be ambitious in what we want for our countries and our continent”said Gibril Faal, Chair of the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) as he welcomed participants to the organisation’s annual flagship event, the African Diaspora Development Day (AD3).


Describing the event as one that celebrates the contribution of Africans in the Diaspora, Faal urged those present to use the event to learn how to improve the impact of these contributions to Africa. “We come to AD3 aware of the constraints and barriers,” he said.  “However the event is one for being solution merchants rather than problem peddlers.  That is the spirit with which we come to AD3.”

AD3 is an action-oriented, interactive, participatory, and fun-filled day that attracts hundreds of Africans and friends of Africans in lively debate, sharing of ideas, and resolution to action.  The topics on the 2006 agenda included the subject of remittances and how these and other investments can support the creation of jobs, identifying the skills, knowledge and experience needed to support entrepreneurs in Africa and how to leverage networks, contacts and influence to lobby against barriers to job creation through enterprise in Africa. 

Master classes and workshops held across a range of topics including employment skills, fundraising and public speaking, as well as a vibrant African Development Marketplace, added to the variety of the day.

“Jobs, not handouts, will create wealth”

The theme of the event reflected AFFORD’s aim to create 8 million jobs in Africa.  By 2008 AFFORD aims to have mobilized 45 African Diaspora communities and groups in the UK to invest their financial, intellectual, political and social capital to create or support 15 small, micro and medium sized enterprises (SMMEs) that focus on providing employment opportunities for young people in the DRC, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda. Over the next three years AFFORD will concentrate on supporting the African Diaspora in the UK to contribute to wealth and job creation in Africa.

“AFFORD is convinced that jobs, not handouts, will create wealth, opportunity, dignity and hope in Africa,” said Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie, Executive Director of AFFORD.  “Following our deliberations here today, we shall commit to concrete, practical actions and initiatives in the next year to involve the African Diaspora and others in creating some of those much-needed jobs in Africa.”

“The creation of decent jobs that can be performed by poor people is the single most effective way to reduce poverty in Africa.” Economic Commission for Africa

RemitAid – Tax Relief for Remittances

In his welcoming address, Gibril Faal highlighted AFFORD’s work on remittances, which he described was now being as an important, and arguably better, part of Africa’s development finance.  Conservative estimates by the IMF show that Africans abroad sent home approximately $32 billion in 2005.  AFFORD has recently launched a policy initiative called RemitAid, which recommends that remittances sent to developing countries qualify for tax relief in the same way that donations to charitable organisations attract tax relief, known as Gift Aid.

AFFORD’s RemitAid campaign has started to gain momentum and is attracting support from key stakeholders including some developing country governments, UK money transfer operators, remitters and several hometown associations.  This lobbying, said Faal, has also contributed to the recent resolution passed by Finance Ministers of Africa urging Western countries to consider tax relief for remittances.

Partnership for Enterprise

AFFORD is also focusing on African businesses based in the UK which import goods from the continent, pointing out that if these businesses can be strengthened then they can import more goods which in turn will create more jobs.

AFFORD’s partners for the event, the Diamond Trading Company (DTC), part of the De Beers diamond company, was represented by Innocent Mabusela.  He spoke of the event’s objectives as being a platform to create workable ideas for development in Africa.  Mabusela highlighted his company’s strong commitment to corporate social responsibility as an integral part of the business, citing the 2000 Kimberley Process as an example of cross-sectoral partnership to address illegally traded diamonds. 

Image “The need for effective partnership is critical to the promotion of enterprise and investment in Africa,” he said, noting that De Beers is working successfully with Sierra Leone, providing expertise in diamond trading.  DTC sees its relationship with AFFORD as part of its policy of identifying key partners “Success can only be achieved with partnerships that deliver concrete results, such as AD3.  One of the things we can start doing is being an ambassador for our continent and change the perception of international business about Africa,” he said.                                                       

Ringtones for Enterprise

The Keynote speaker of AD3 epitomised the concept of enterprise.  Alexander Amosu is a successful UK-based entrepreneur who made a fortune pioneering the ring tone industry. The North London entrepreneur made his first million at the age of 24 by selling ringtones of the latest R&B and hip hop tracks. From what started as a favour to his brother – creating a ringtone for a mobile phone – Amosu, who originates from Nigeria, went on to set up a ringtone scheme that generated instant revenues.

Ringtones today are big business and were worth an estimated $3.5bn globally in 2003.  Amosu left university to expand his fledgling company, R&B Ringtones, and within four months had made enough money to recruit 21 staff and hire an office in London. 

ImageAmosu went on to sell the company and his latest project is Mobsvideo.com, an online community portal that encourages video-enabled mobile users from 21 countries to request and share film clips.

Amosu’s focus is now on providing support, guidance and seed funding to young entrepreneurs with the establishment of the Alexander Amosu Charitable Trust, through which he hopes to produce a new generation of entrepreneurs from Africa and its UK Diaspora.  Having pledged £250,000 of his own money, he is now set on raising £750,000 for the fund.

Amosu spoke of the challenge of using his success to impact on Africa.  “It’s great being successful in the UK but if you’re not successful at home, then you haven’t really achieved anything,” he said.  Describing himself as “a pioneer and not a follower”, Amosu’s Trust aims to provide role models for young Africans and helping young black entrepreneurs by offering direction and advice.  His Trust will provide premises, business support and advice from accountants, lawyers and marketing experts for selected entrepreneurs for up to one year.

Creating Jobs is about Creating Hope at Home

Following the keynote speech, a lively debate by a panel of entrepreneurs was chaired by Kwame Kwei Armah, the noted UK playwright and creator of award winning play, ‘Elmina’s Kitchen’.

Events like AD3 highlight the desire of many Africans to move away from the emphasis placed on development aid.  As Onyekachi Wambu, AFFORD’s Information Officer pointed out, “At the moment, just giving people aid ensures that nothing sustainable is really being built.” 

Creating jobs in Africa is about creating hope at home, he said. 

“Ultimately, the most sustainable thing one can have is a business and if it’s making money, people will keep it going. If Gordon Brown wants to make an impact on poverty reduction he puts people in jobs and they create a dynamic business sector. So if it works here, why should Africa be any different?”

Image A new survey reveals a third of ethnic minority families in London send money home to Africa and Asia to fight poverty.


More than a third of ethnic minority households, who responded to a UK-wide survey, sent an average £870 back home to their families living in some of the poorest parts of Africa and Asia last year, according to a new report published today by the UK Department for International Development. The research is the most comprehensive look at the private money transfer habits of Britain's Asian, African, Caribbean and Chinese communities. Nearly half (45%) of the UK's ethnic minority population live in London.

According to reported research by the World Bank remittances have helped cut the share of poor people in Uganda by 11% and by 5% in Ghana. This survey was carried out by ICM Research on behalf of the Department of International Development between February and March 2006 in all 12 regions of the UK. Interviews took place across central and greater London. A total of 28,000 households were approached of which 7,051 responded to the survey.

Key Findings

According to Gareth Thomas, UK Minister for International Development, "Sending money home to families in developing countries plays a vital role in helping to tackle poverty, but until now there was little detailed information on what contribution ethnic minorities in the UK made.  "This new survey fills this gap, and improving understanding will help banks, community groups and financial service providers offer more options to people wishing to send money home to relatives."

Official IMF statistics reveal that $230 billion worth of remittances were sent to developing countries worldwide.  The survey highlights the fact that about 38 per cent of ethnic minority households who responded to the survey sent an average of £870 back home in 2005.  Of the 50 plus developing countries receiving money from the UK, the five largest recipients were Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Jamaica and Ghana.

Other key findings for the survey revealed that:

  • The average income of the senders was £22,000 and 70 per cent were between 25-44 years old

  • In almost 50 per cent of cases people were sending money to their parents, another 25 per cent to other close relatives like cousins and 15 per cent were sending money to spouses and children;

  • 31 per cent of senders said the money would be used to buy food, 21 per cent said it would help with medical bills and 17 per cent reported the funds would help pay for schooling; and

  • 80 per cent said the money would make a real difference to the lives

Remittances vs. Investment

Many poor countries receive more in money sent back by relatives than they do from overseas companies investing in the local economy. For instance, Ghana receives around 10-15 % of its national income from remittances sent from around the world, compared with around 3% from foreign investment. The survey also indicates that 15 % of people exclusively used informal methods, such as sending money with friends or relatives travelling back home.

The Department for International Development helped set up the UK Remittances Task Force which includes members from the British Bankers' Association, Barclay's bank, the Post Office, MoneyGram International, VISA Europe and ICICI Bank. The task force is looking at reducing barriers and costs to remittance flows, improving data and reducing barriers for firms to enter the remittances market. It will present its findings in a report to the government early next year.

DFID has provided up to date information on the services offered by different money transfer providers in the UK customers through a website: http://www.sendmoneyhome.org

The survey is available at  http://www.dfid.gov.uk

Welcome to the new, upgraded ReConnect Africa website.
Please help us provide you with information relevant to your needs by completing the fields below (just this once!)