10 Days at STRATEGIES! Consulting Firm

Our work at STRATEGIES! is always extremely busy and extremely exciting. The last 10 working days have been a great example of this. 

10 Days Contributing to Solutions in 10 Key Areas Across the Globe

 

1) Fiscal Decentralization and Investment Environment in Benin.

With the GIZ Governance Fund based in Germany we began analysis of how to support ongoing reforms in fiscal decentralization and strengthening the national framework for public and private investment in Benin.  The GIZ team in Benin and experts from Germany will provide technical assistance, STRATEGIES! will facilitate the process. A great kick-off online working session enabled us to begin identifying priority areas for support to Benin institutions. Exciting to see Benin making changes that will strengthen decentralization and improve the business environment.

2) Agriculture in Africa

STRATEGIES! has been working to support Agriculture at the continental level since 2007.  It was bittersweet to attend the session bringing an end to GIZ support to CAADP programs. Bitter, because endings are always a little so. Ever so sweet as CAADP successes were listed and we could identify where STRATEGIES! had contributed.  From anchoring CAADP implementation in national planning and budgeting frameworks to ensuring the voices of farmers and especially women farmers are included in the process. STRATEGIES! played its part.

                                        

3) Mining in West Africa

Since 2012, STRATEGIES! has been working on mining in Africa.  In the last 10 days we have engaged with partners at the KP-Civil Society Coalition and at GIZ in Côte d’Ivoire in healthy discussions on how the mining sector in Africa is adapting to COVID-19.  What is the impact in the short term and the medium term? What are the strategic decisions countries need to take for both large-scale and artisanal mining?  How do we ensure the rights of communities affected by mining are protected in this moment? Very interesting initial study produced by our partner the KP-CSC here: https://www.kpcivilsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/The-Impact-of-COVID-19-on-African-communities-affected-by-diamond-mining-KPCSC.pdf

4) Racial Justice in the United States

The United States is in crisis. Citizens are also examining the opportunities to rethink and redesign their society.  As our partners at Humanity United and Vital Voices analyze how to improve racial justice within their institutions, they called on us at STRATEGIES! to help think through solutions and facilitate discussions. Our unique African perspective contributes to globalizing perspectives on racial justice. It is extremely exciting to be part of this discussion.

                                                  

5) Police Reform in Africa

As racial justice is top on the global agenda, so is police reform.  Throughout the world communities, cities and entire countries are discussing the role of the police.  STRATEGIES! was thrilled to be contacted by the GIZ program on Police Reform in Africa to help develop and facilitate their first online discussion session. 

            

 

 

6) Macro Trends in the Great Lakes Region

The International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) has been a privileged partner at STRATEGIES! for over 12 years.  STRATEGIES! facilitated the development of the ICGLR mission, vision and strategic framework years ago and we have facilitated planning sessions at various levels over the years. To strengthen evidence-based planning at the ICGLR, STRATEGIES developed a macro-trends tool in 2015 which gives an overview of the key security, economic and humanitarian statistics in the region yearly. 1/3 Africans lives in the Great Lakes Region.  As the region faces COVID-19, it is more important than ever, to analyze the macro-trends.

 

7) Planning with Farmers at the Continental Level

The Pan-African Farmers’ Organization is a long-time partner.  It was great to renew with them this year as STRATEGIES! facilitated the development of the African Agribusiness Youth Strategy for the African Union.  This week PAFO engaged discussions with us about its own strategic planning.  PAFO represents 70-80 million farmers in Africa with farmer’s dozens if organizations at national level, 5 regional levels and the continental level.  We are still in preliminary discussions, but it would be an honor to support the planning process of this essential continental organization.

           

 

8) Engaging Men as Allies for Women’s Political Participation

Gender equality is part of the DNA of STRATEGIES! and we continuously look forward to projects that enable us to work in this domain.  This week we were thrilled to develop a bid for an offer on “Engaging Men as Allies for Women’s Political Participation”.  Will STRATEGIES! win the bid?  Remains to be seen.  However, we have truly enjoyed developing our offer and it has rekindled our commitment to this value. Fingers crossed!

                                    

 

9) Fighting Gender-Based Violence in the Great Lakes Region

The Regional Training Facility of the ICGLR is based in Uganda and trains police, medical and judicial staff from ICGLR’s 12 Member States on how to fight against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence using national institutions and instruments that have been agreed upon at the ICGLR regional level.  It is always a delight to exchange with the results-focused RTF team.  Despite COVID-19, they are carrying out studies and training sessions. We discussed how STRATEGIES! can support them to strengthen their online training sessions.  It will be a pleasure as usual.

      

 

10) Writing the STRATEGIES! Story

It is 2020 and @Strategies is 25 years old!  We are preparing for celebration.  One of the things that will mark this celebration is the writing of our story.  Today began the first session of the collective writing of the book. A session full of laughter, memories and lessons. It’s going to be great!

 

By Kah Walla, CEO of STRATEGIES! Consulting Firm

Key Impacts of COVID-19 in Africa

africa map Key Impacts of COVID-19 in Africa

As soon as Africa recorded its first case of coronavirus in mid-February, multiple projections on the disease’s impact on the continent were made.  Though it is still difficult to ascertain how COVID-19 is evolving on the continent due to very limited testing and research at national levels, four months after the coronavirus outbreak, here are some of the most important effects of the pandemic on Africa in health, socio-economic and politics.

 

1. Impact of Covid-19 on Health

Impact of Covid-19 on Health

According to Africa CDC data, all 55 countries in Africa are now affected by COVID-19. The numbers on June 12, 2020 (9 am East Africa Time) show 216,446 reported cases, 5,756 deaths and 97,068 people recovered. Specifically, these data showed that:

  • Southern Africa appears to be the most affected region (for total cases) with 61,772 Cases 1,239 Deaths 33,156 Recoveries. But northern Africa is very close behind in terms of total number of cases (61,615) and recorded more deaths (2,454) than any other region. It is to be noted however, that the Northern African countries were the first to begin testing and have, on average, tested in larger numbers than the rest of the continent except South Africa.
  • South Africa, which is the country that has tested the largest number of people (1,028,399 tests), is the country with the highest number of Covid-19 positive cases with 58,568 cases, while Egypt has the highest death rate with 1,377 fatalities.
  • The 10 most affected countries (South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Morocco, Sudan, Senegal and DRC) account for 166,864 positive cases out of the 216,446 cases reported, i.e. more than 77% of the continental record. Once again, these are, for the most part, the countries with the highest testing numbers.
  • Health facilities are overcrowded with growing number of COVID-19 leading to patients with high burden diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria lacking access and/or adequate care. In most countries COVID-19 is predictably having a negative impact on access to healthcare in general.
  • Increase of Sexual and gender-based violence: Across Africa, governments, police and activists report an increase in attacks against women and girls who are locked up with an abusive partner or parent. In the first week of confinement, the South African police received 2,320 complaints of domestic violence, an increase of 37 per cent. As a result, on May 6, 2020, 6 African countries joined 53 others to sign the Joint Declaration on Protecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Promoting Gender Equality during the Covid-19 Crisis.

On the basis of official figures to date, Africa appears to be the least affected continent by the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is clear that the impact of the virus appears for the moment much less catastrophic than anticipated by everyone.  However, the truth is that these numbers are only telling part of the story.

Given the newness of COVID-19, research is also at very initial stages. Several factors are being examined that may explain the seemingly reduced impact in Africa.

reduced impact of Corona virus in Africa

  • Demography – In other parts of the world, COVID-19 has had devastating effects on the elderly. In a continent where 60% of the population is less than 25 years old, youth may be providing resilience to the disease.
  • Heat – Though the research is far from conclusive, some studies appear to show that the virus is less potent and multiplies less quickly in hot, humid environments.
  • The Malaria Advantage – Malaria medication including the now famous hydroxychloroquine may provide some protection from coronavirus. Given the prevalence of malaria in Africa and the large percentage of the population that have taken malaria treatment, this may be providing some resistance to COVID-19. Many of the remedies both clinical and herbal developed and used against COVID-19 in countries such as Benin, Madagascar and Cameroon use anti-malaria components as a base.
  • Less Travel – Africans travel less, and the continent only receives about 5% of the world’s tourists. Given the coronavirus was largely spread by travellers, Africa may have simply not “received” the virus in as large quantities as the rest of the world.

While it is clear that COVID-19 is present and that numbers of infected are climbing, it is also clear that the disease is not behaving in Africa as it did in other parts of the world.  Unfortunately for now, the level of testing and the research do not permit conclusions beyond these initial observations. We are still far from getting a true picture of the African COVID-19 story.

 

Evolution of numbers in Africa as of June 16th

COVID-19 reported cases  by Region in Africa

2.Economic effects of Covid – 19 crisis

Economic effects of Covid – 19 crisis

The African Union commission Forecasts show a negative growth from 3.4% to between -0.8% to -1.1% due COVID-19 outbreak. (1)

There have also been significant disruptions in some of the continent’s economic dynamics:

  • Decrease in export revenues due to weak global demand for raw materials. This concerns both oil exporting countries such as Angola or Nigeria and mineral exporting countries such Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Tanzania just to name a few. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) estimates COVID-19 could lead to Africa’s export revenues from fuels falling at around US$ 101 billion in 2020. (2)
  • Decreased in diaspora transfer. The World Bank estimates that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, remittance flows to Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to decline by 23.1 percent to reach $37 billion in 2020 in comparison to $48 billion in 2019. ​
  • Increase of the unemployment rate due to the cessation/ reduction of activities. The African Union notes that the pandemic could cause the loss of nearly 20 million jobs on the continent.
  • Tourism, which accounts for a consistent percentage of some African countries Gross Domestic Product (GDP) like Morocco (12.3 million tourists), Egypt (11.35 million tourists), South Africa (10.47 million tourists), Tunisia (8.3 million tourists), Zimbabwe (2.57 million tourists) are witnessing a deep contraction, as is the airline industry that contributes to it. A recent study from the African Union estimates that the tourism and travel sector in Africa could lose at least $50 billion due to the pandemic outbreak and at least 2 million direct and indirect jobs (3) .  The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on its own estimates the economic contribution of the air transport industry in Africa at USD 55.8 billion, supporting 6.2 million jobs and contributing 2.6% of the continent’s GDP.
  • Graph Top five of most visited african countries
  • Food insecurity due to trade disruptions, lower agricultural production, food shortages, rising food prices, fewer imports and transport difficulties. The United Nations estimates that nearly 30 million more people could fall into poverty and the number of acutely food-insecure people could significantly increase. In addition to climate change, growing violence, agricultural disruptions, locust plague in East Africa, there is therefore an urgent need to provide adequate responses to food insecurity so that post-coronavirus Africa does not sink into starvation.

While the health impact of COVID-19 in Africa is uncertain, the economic impact is not.  The African economy is suffering greatly and will continue to suffer throughout 2020 and more than likely 2021. As many as 49 million people may be pushed into extreme poverty because of COVID-19, 27 million of them live in Africa.

 

  1. Political impact of the Covid – 19 crisis

While the political impact of COVID-19 is at various levels, we will take a close look here at the impact on elections.

  • The 2020 Electoral Calendar

              Elections and political impact of covid19 in Africa

Elections in Africa are still for the most part precarious operations which in many cases have direct impact on the levels of violence, security and stability in the country. COVID-19 puts countries which have elections scheduled in a dilemma. To hold or not to hold? Both options entail significant risks.

Table from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies 

Covid19 and elections in Africa

  • To hold or not to hold elections in this context?

Over 30 elections (presidential, legislative, municipal and regional elections) were scheduled this year in Africa.

  • 10 of the 12 presidential polls are scheduled as of June 2020
  • Over 10 elections (legislative and other local elections) are also scheduled in the same period.

Countries are caught between holding elections on schedule and risking the lives of millions. Some countries such as Burundi (general elections of 20 May 2020) and Malawi (presidential elections scheduled for 2 July 2020, have decided to go on with elections as scheduled.  A few weeks after intensive campaigns former President Nkurunziza of Burundi is dead and his wife is undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in Nairobi.  Other countries have decided to postpone as Ethiopia has done with its legislative elections. Neither solution is ideal.

Elections held in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic will:

  • By default, extend mandates of current elected officials which poses the challenge of legitimacy and could be problematic in many countries
  • More than likely limit the participation of citizens in a key moment for exercising political rights.
  • Provide cover for actions of fraud and corruption in the countries where this is already a problem.
  • Put the country in a budget dilemma where it must choose between providing resources to fight COVID-19 and providing resources to organize elections.

With either solution, in countries where political stability is precarious, there is a risk of increased instability, insecurity and violence.

4 – The urgency of an effective, systemic, comprehensive and sustainable response

An analysis of the direct effects and repercussions of COVID-19 in Africa shows that while there is still much uncertainty in many areas, it is unquestionable that effective management of the crisis requires a real paradigm shift in governance in many African states. Proactivity, anticipation and evidence-based planning should be central to the vision and actions of every leader and every government.

Furthermore, it is imperative for our states to really put the human beings that are their citizens at the heart of decisions and policymaking. The African Union, development partners, international organizations and RECs that design and implement programmes with countries need to be supporting and insisting on systemic solutions that now more than ever, address the practical needs of citizens as the utmost priority.

For the last 25 years, STRATEGIES has worked with local, regional and international organizations in the areas of governance, management systems, planning, capacity building and more. Through its work, STRATEGIES! supports government agencies, organizations, international and regional institutions in developing effective and innovative strategies to address the complex challenges of improving local, national and regional governance structures in various areas in Africa.

Today more than ever, STRATEGIES! believes that there is a need to accompany political, economic and social actors on the African continent in developing appropriate responses to mitigate the effects of the current crisis and put in place robust systems to enable African communities to bounce back stronger than ever by building resilience to crises as a whole.

In the current context imposed by the COVID-19 and characterized by the closing of the borders and reduced mobility of people, STRATEGIES! and its team of consultants have adapted quickly, developing tools and processes that allow us to continue to support clients and partners from a distance.

In this COVID-19 period, the health of individuals, companies, organizations and governments is at stake.  We must preserve all. At STRATEGIES! we continue to develop solutions to enable organizations maintain their performance and achieve their goals.

 

By STRATEGIES ! Team : Franck ESSI, Vanessa TCHINDJE & Joel S. SOSSO Njanga (Consultants)

Working amidst Covid-19 at STRATEGIES!

STRATEGIES! in the world. We are globetrotters. We earn our living by travelling around the world and gathering people together to plan, think, learn, solve problems, create, share and so on.

With the spread of Covid-19 across five continents, everything happened so quickly: closing of borders, sharp slowdown of economic and social activities, closure of schools, universities and training centers, imposition of measures for “social distancing”.

What an incredible crisis for us!

 

A few key words describe how STRATEGIES! consultants are working amidst and despite the Covid-19 crisis, three months in.

 

STUNNED: An unprecedented impact on mass transport and travel

In our wildest imaginations, we could not have imagined that a disease would cause all commercial flights worldwide to be suspended overnight, causing the temporary closure of airports, train stations and subways, as well as thousands of hotels and hospitality facilities around the world.

As consultants, this meant we could not travel, we could not work.

Or could we?

An unprecedented impact on mass transport and travel

PROACTIVITY: A need to adapt, adjust and plan as never before

Faced with this sudden global paralysis, we had to understand, adjust and plan both for ourselves and for our clients. It was time to truly test the proactivity which is one of the fundamental principles of our brand.

Understanding the disease

We had been following COVID-19 and wondering about its impact on our clients.  In early March when the first case in Cameroon was confirmed, reality hit home. We did what consultants naturally do. Gather information (there was so much of it, yet so much was uncertain), analyze and make decisions.  After a series of initial analysis and meetings with our team, we made quick decisions.

  1. We had to keep everyone safe and healthy. This meant shutting down the office and working from home.
  2. We were extremely lucky to have work that could tide us over the next six months, on condition that we adapted quickly and found solutions for our clients.
  3. We had to determine the equipment, methods and tools that would enable us to make this adjustment within about 10 days in order not to lose contracts and enter a company financial crisis.

The shift to teleworking

We had always prided ourselves on remote work, 98% of our business is done outside Cameroon. However, having everyone shift to remote work and delivering from start to finish at a distance was a whole different level.  We realized some people needed equipment; everyone needed stable, strong internet connections from home, a whole new type of methodology needed to be developed.

The frequency and timing of meetings in the first week was absurd. Meeting after meeting, brainstorming after brainstorming, almost everyone at STRATEGIES! was online from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. We were thoroughly exhausted and luckily figured out in the following weeks how to pace and space online meetings so we could get offline work done and so we could rest.

METHODOLOGY: Figuring out how to do full workshops online

The crisis hit 15 days into a 58-day consultancy and two weeks before we had the first workshop to deliver. The consultancy included three in-person workshops. The client was at project closure. STRATEGIES! was determined to meet initial contractual deadlines despite the crisis.

Using a combination of WhatsApp, Skype and Google Suite tools, we figured out how to work as a 6-person team to deliver three virtual workshops with participants from 15 countries.

Zoom was our very best friend as we wrote the first draft of a Youth Agribusiness Strategy for Africa with five consultants in five locations.

Today STRATEGIES! has a clear methodology not just for 1-2 hour webinars, but for 2-3 day workshops online to do problem analysis, work through solutions and develop strategic plans. STRATEGIES! can do research, analysis and report-writing using a team of consultants working 100% virtually. We can deliver what we did in-person, online.

Developing this methodology has enabled many of our clients to stay on course and deliver their own work on schedule. In a world economy that is faltering, keeping our clients, our suppliers and ourselves working is an achievement we are extremely proud of.

 

HOME: The pleasures and inconveniences of working from home

Working from home of course has at least as many advantages as inconveniences.

The pleasures:

  • All of us are appreciating more time with family and especially with children. Both enjoying the moments and discovering various anomalies that time at the office made us blind to.
  • Recipes, menus and cooking – almost all of us are enjoying food more.
  • Reduced travel time. For those who live far away from the office, the reduction in travel time means a significant reduction in stress.
  • Exercise – with a few exceptions, most of us have been able to maintain our exercise (STRATEGIES! provides exercise sessions for staff at the office). Some have renewed with the pleasure of long walks.

The demands: Needless to say, working from home means more distractions and interruptions. We have gotten used to the noise of children, construction work and traffic in the background of online calls.

Strategies working from Home

Here are a few practical elements that have enabled us to maintain our productivity at home:

  • Choosing a corner of the house that is conducive to work.
  • Being strict about the hours dedicated to work.
  • Maintaining continuous contact with laptop and phone during working hours to stay permanently connected with the team.
  • Remaining focused even when distractions are present.

Three months into living with COVID-19, STRATEGIES! has negotiated what we hope will be the sharpest turn. However, we remain alert and continue to track the disease and adjust our working methods.  Unfortunately, it seems COVID-19 is here to stay and that we in Africa may have the longest curve.  Unfortunately, STRATEGIES! is based in a country that is not doing a very good job of managing COVID-19.

Within STRATEGIES! we are still stunned, struggling to be proactive and working to adapt methodology.  However, it is also clear that we as a continent and as a globe, shall surmount this disease. At STRATEGIES! we intend to stay at the forefront of those in Africa and in the world who are doing so.

By STRATEGIES!  Team | Led By Joel S. Sosso Njanga, Consultant

Faire Face à COVID-19 : Analyses et Approches pour les Entreprises en Afrique Centrale

Le COVID-19 est là; c’est une crise inédite qui va impacter votre entreprise fortement.

Il faut bâtir votre résilience et adapter le management de votre organisation. Le cabinet STRATEGIES!, spécialisé en Leadership et Management, est prêt à vous accompagner.

Après les 03 sessions de la semaine dernière; le mardi 7 avril 2020 prochain à 10 h 30 (GMT), nous vous offrons une autre séance gratuite de 60 minutes de conseils sur les premières actions à mener pour préparer votre organisation à surmonter le COVID-19.

La séance se fera en ligne et sera animée par Mme Kah Walla, CEO de STRATEGIES!

Pour plus d’informations sur la session, veuillez télécharger le document suivant  Faire Face à COVID-19 en Afrique Centrale: Analyses et Approches pour les Entreprises.pdf  

Veuillez confirmer votre réservation ici et préciser les informations suivantes en laissant un message au niveau de la partie “contacter le créateur du sondage”,
– Votre nom
– Nom de votre entreprise ainsi que votre fonction
– Vos 02 préoccupations majeures par rapport à cette crise
– Votre numéro de téléphone et votre adresse émail

Merci.

 

Facing COVID-19 in Africa: Building African resilience with Development Organizations

COVID-19 is a global pandemic, however there is no question that its impact on Africa will be particularly devastating.  As a development organization you are faced with several questions:
 
– What are the initial responses to COVID-19 by countries and regions on the Continent?
– How can you immediately mitigate effects on your development partners and beneficiaries?
– What will be the needs of African countries in the next 3 to 6 months as they face the aftermath of the peak?
 
As you think through these issues, our consulting firm, STRATEGIES!, specialized in Leadership and Management, will provide support. On Thursday April 2nd at 2:00 p.m. GMT or Friday April 3rd at 10:00 a.m. GMT, join us for a free 90-minute session on thinking through first steps of a response to COVID-19 in Africa for development organizations.
 
The session will be online and facilitated by Ms Kah Walla, CEO of STRATEGIES!.
For More Information about the session , download the document Facing COVID-19 in Africa: Initial Overview and Analyses April 2020.pdf
To ensure effective participation, the number of participants is limited to 10 per session.
 
Please register here, and provide us information on your:
– Name
– Position
– Organization / Program
– Email
– 02 expectations from the session
 
We look forward to exchanging with you.
 
 
 

A New Emphasis on Strategic Planning as Key to the Success of Peace and Security Programs in Africa

A New Emphasis on Strategic Planning as Key to the Success of Peace and Security Programs in Africa

Peace and Security in Africa: What is the situation?

The situation of peace and security in Africa remains alarming, with multiple political and security crises at national and transnational levels. According to Alert 2019!, an annual report on conflict,  human rights and peacebuilding; of the 34 armed conflicts recorded in 2018, 33 were still active at the end of the year, including 16 in Africa. Armed conflicts therefore remain a reality in Africa to which solutions must be found!

Who are the major actors?

Actors in African conflicts are heterogeneous and becoming increasingly more so. Conflicts have traditionally had as protagonists rebel groups and militias opposing regular armies. To this must be added today the waves of protests and popular uprisings that are spreading across countries either because of the longevity of some leaders in power, or simply bad governance. In many countries these are countered with state violence.  Finally, for over a decade, African states have been increasingly facing attacks by terrorist organizations. From Ethiopia to the Sahel via Sudan, the countries of the Lake Chad Basin and the Maghreb, the continent is now a solid base for various jihadist groups and the scene of numerous terrorist attacks. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Islamic State (IS) organization, Boko Haram, Al-Shebab, Al-Murabitoune, Ansar al-Sharia, Ansaru, etc. are all jihadist groups that regularly operate on the continent, creating multiple and sometimes vast areas of instability. Boko Haram is the most active and deadly actor in West Africa. Since 2009, this group has recorded more than 2,350 events and caused more than 27 000 deaths (ACLED data September 2019). In the Horn of Africa, more than 8,400 events involving Al-Shabaab since 2008 have claimed more than 22,000 lives (ACLED data September 2019).

What are the current major hotbeds of instability in Africa?

In 2018, the African continent hosted the largest number (16) of the 34 armed conflicts in the world (47%). A third (5/16)  of these conflicts were of high intensity and were located in Libya, Mali, in the region of Lake Chad (Boko Haram), Somalia and South Sudan  (Alert! 2019). The most affected conflict areas in 2019 form a belt across the continent from the Maghreb, to the Sahel Zone, through the Lake Chad Basin, into the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region as The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, from ACLED presents.

Source: https://www.acleddata.com/dashboard/ September 2019.

 

What are the major factors contributing to conflict in Africa?

The complexity of the current situation of peace and security in Africa stems from the multiplicity of threat factors as well as the manner in which these factors feed upon one another and create cyclical conflict.

cyclical conflict.

Conflicts often arise from the lack of good governance linked to struggles for power and resources.  Poor governance results in economic difficulties, high rates of unemployment, lack of social services, etc.  Some governments feeling threatened will focus on conserving power rather than delivering services to the population. Conserving power is done through a variety of mechanisms including removing term limits, confiscating power at all levels including the judiciary and legislative, rigging elections to the point where they become power conservation tools, etc.

To make these power conservation mechanisms effective, governments will use ethnicity, religion, violence, electoral fraud, etc.  This will result in large groups in the population feeling disenfranchised and marginalized, creating fertile ground for recruitment by groups who have chosen to fight with arms. The presence of such groups will further threaten the government which will crack down with increased violence and the cycle continues.

Due to prolonged conflicts, today some states have large ungoverned spaces lacking in government security, basic services and administrative institutions, therefore opening the way for all manner of illegal activities. Armed groups as well as government factions illegally exploit mineral resources, levy illegal taxes on commercial activities and extort the population in order to finance themselves and enable a steady stream of weapons into the continent. The illicit circulation of these weapons together with mercenary activities continue to fuel insurrections and rebellions.

It is the complexity of this context which requires that we take a look again at the strategic planning tool for peace and security programs on the continent.

 

Strategic Planning, a key tool for peace and security programs in Africa

National governments, state agencies, international organizations and NGOs all try to find solutions at sub-national, national and regional levels to the complex situations described above.  For institutions and organizations trying to build peace, regularly assessing the situation on the ground and developing or adapting approaches and programs to end conflict and build peace is a challenging, complicated endeavor.

In this context, the strategic planning process becomes ever more important.  Both national institutions and international organizations must resist falling into a trap that makes planning routine or superficial.  Strategic planning provides the opportunity to periodically carry out an in-depth analysis of the conflict situation, obtain a better understanding of the actors and dynamics at play in order to develop strategies that adequately address the situation on the ground.

After years of assisting institutions and programs that work on conflict management and peacebuilding, STRATEGIES! has realized that in addition to the classic strategic planning methods, five key tools enable programs to carry out more robust and realistic planning.

 

Finally, at STRATEGIES! we have learned the importance of building peace from the ground up.  This means that strategic planning for peace programs must also be structured in several phases that involve stakeholders from the grassroots to the grass tops. National and international level political decision-makers will only make good decisions if they are informed by those experiencing and dealing with conflict at grassroots level.

 

It is therefore important to structure the strategic planning process as a process with facilitates inclusive dialogue and inclusive decision-making.  This suggests more time, effort and resources must be dedicated to the strategic planning process in peacebuilding programs at the time of conception and throughout the life of the program.

 

The old saying “who fails to plan, plans to fail” is especially true when we are in the complex arena of ending conflict and building peace.

 

For more than a decade, STRATEGIES has collaborated with local, regional and international organizations in the areas of good governance, conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction. Through its work, STRATEGIES! supports government agencies, organizations and international and regional institutions in developing effective and innovative strategies to address the complex challenges of improving local, national and regional governance structures for peace and security in Africa.

TAKING INNOVATION TO SCALE IN AFRICAN AGRICULTURE

TAKING INNOVATION TO SCALE IN AFRICAN AGRICULTURE

Agriculture, a sector at the heart of Africa’s development challenges.

As we all know, Africa remains a continent with a fairly high poverty rate. Key facts and trends continue to reveal this:

  • About 41% of the population south of the Sahara lives below the global poverty line of $1.90 per person per day [1].
  • Undernourishment in Africa affects about 20.4% of the population, or just over 237 million people. In addition, the demand for food will increase in view of increasing demographic pressure. [2]
  • Agriculture already contributes to about 65% of employment in Africa, and this rate could be higher if the entire agri-food system is taken into account. However, these jobs remain precarious and do not allow small producers, who represent 80% of farmers, to live decently [3].

It therefore appears that agriculture is a key sector which, if developed, will help to achieve certain sustainable development objectives in Africa. These include poverty eradication, hunger eradication, access to decent work and stronger economic growth.

For years now, this sector has struggled to meet this potential due to low productivity, heavy losses, insufficient investment etc.  Climate change will undoubtedly magnify the productivity challenge. Within the last 5-7 years, many have begun to see innovation as the key to unlock Africa’s agricultural potential.  For innovation to act as a key to large scale improvements in agriculture, it must itself perform on scale.  What is happening with agricultural innovation on the continent and how can we bring innovations to scale so they in turn can impact agriculture on scale.  Let’s take a look.

Types of innovations in the agricultural sector in Africa.

Innovations in the agricultural sector in Africa focus on technical, technological and organizational aspects.

Technical innovations tend to focus on production, conservation and processing in both farming and livestock breeding.  They include the development of improved seeds, farm equipment and natural conservation techniques for agricultural and livestock products.

In the field of technology, drones are being developed to facilitate the performance of tasks such as crop protection and the surveillance of herds. Applications are being developed to enable farmers learn about weather, market prices and farming techniques. Networks on mobile devices enable farmers to exchange information, follow training courses and sell their products.

Images of Drones for Agricultural use and a mobile App to identify crops disease and find ways to cure.

Organizational innovations concern new forms of cooperation, with a view to enabling farmers to better organize themselves in order to strengthen their skills, disseminate technical knowledge as well as access funding and markets. Contract farming is an example where multi-year contracts with large companies can enable farmers to expand production, meet quality requirements and access both training and funding. The return to cooperatives is also enabling “innovation” that integrates lessons of the past to allow farmers better market their products and easily acquire their inputs.

Innovations are being developed daily across the continent.  Yet despite a lot of hype about drones on farms and mobile apps for cattle herders these innovations have so far had only a small impact on the development of the agricultural sector and the major challenges of production, conservation, transformation and the creation of decent jobs in African agriculture, remain intact.

Why have the innovations not had a significant impact on African agriculture so far?

STRATEGIES! facilitates an experience sharing event on innovation for rural development for over 200 participants from 14 countries for German Development Cooperation (GIZ)

 After a few years of supporting various organizations which focus on innovation, STRATEGIES! has identified a number of bottlenecks that limit the impact of agricultural innovations on the continent. The most salient are:

  • ►The weak involvement of public authorities in the innovation process. Innovations are very often driven by individual farmers or small start-ups. Few countries have a mechanism whereby these innovations can be supported by government services. Due to the lack of systems for identifying, adopting and replicating these innovations, they remain unknown to the general public and particularly to those in the agricultural sector who should use them. The innovator has neither the means nor the mandate to bring new equipment or technology to the farmers who need it most. Still today government services seem far removed from the cutting edge thinking that is innovating in agriculture.
  • ►The non-sustainability of innovations initiated through development organizations alone. Innovations initiated through development projects have the advantage of being supported for a creation and testing phase. However, if the project is not anchored within a large-scale farmers’ organization or within local, regional or national extension services, there is little chance that the innovation will be adopted by a large number of users.  As soon as the project ends, the innovation will either be abandoned or continue to be used on a very small scale.
  • ►The high cost of implementing innovation. Some innovations, because of the cost of their implementation, are beyond the reach of farmers. There is no mechanism in place to allow small farmers to access these innovations despite the cost. Other innovations are costly to develop and take to market. Neither farmers, nor innovators have support to develop and access innovations.

So overall, it is the absence of a system for identifying, supporting, introducing and scaling up innovations that limit their impact on the agricultural sector.

Key actions to scale agricultural innovations and boost agriculture in Africa

In order to scale up agricultural innovations in Africa, it would be wise to invest in the system for identifying, supporting, introducing and scaling innovations. In this cycle, each actor should play their role.

For Governments:

  1. Establish a system for promoting and identifying innovations at the local level, particularly in municipalities, within the education system and through agro-pastoral fairs.

– In municipalities, there should be a mechanism in place to enable innovators submit their work to the municipality and to local Ministry of Agriculture services. This will enable innovations to be identified early and will open up the possibility receive support for them.

– Identification should also be done at the level of schools and universities. To do so, agriculture should be a part of the education system, which will encourage young people to see agriculture as a professional option, even as it encourages innovation initiatives.

– Many governments organize agricultural fairs. During these fairs, innovation should be showcased and discussed. This will provide the opportunity to give innovators incentive awards and will facilitate outreach regarding to specific innovations.

  1. Strengthen government institutions in charge of innovation

This includes, for example, strengthening agricultural research and development institutes so that they are able to pick up the best innovations and scale them up. They must therefore receive funding to fully develop them in order to make them accessible to small farmers. Research facilities must also have a direct link to extension services which will enable farmers to be informed about an innovation, test the innovation and give feedback for scaling up.

  1. Subsidize innovations.

Some innovations require significant investment for both development and acquisition.  Subsidies which go directly to the innovator as well as those who enable the small farmer to access the innovation are essential.

In addition, municipalities can acquire expensive innovations (notably equipment) and set up a management system that enables large numbers of farmers to access the same equipment.

For Farmers’ Organizations:

It is important for farmers’ organizations to see innovation as an essential part of their work. Good organization will enable farmers’ organizations to partner with innovators, research institutions and/or governments.

Furthermore, well organized cooperatives and associations can develop partnerships which enable them to orient the development of specific innovations to solve problems identified by their members.

It is essential that farmers’ organizations identify, test, improve and scale up agricultural innovations with or without government support.

 For Development Organizations:

Today, development organizations are probably the actors that provide the greatest support to innovation on the African continent. This work is to be applauded as it has produced some remarkable results.  To scale it up and render it sustainable, development organizations must remember the following:

  • ►It is necessary for innovations to be anchored within the national ecosystem: farmers’ organizations, ministries of agriculture, research institutions, private sector organizations, etc. as early as possible.
  • ►It is necessary to develop the business case and business plan for an innovation. How will development, testing and dissemination be financed?  What is the market segment for the innovation, does that innovation have the buying power to access it, etc.
  • ►It is helpful to connect innovators across national borders and even across continental borders. It is important that this learning and sharing be anchored within the national ecosystem of the country where the innovation will be used.
  • ►A discussion on patents and intellectual property cannot come too soon. Africans have often been robbed of their innovations. Both innovators and actors in the national agriculture ecosystem may need assistance in navigating discussions on intellectual property.

Innovations, however successful they may be, are necessary but not sufficient instruments to enable the African agricultural sector to meet the challenges it faces. The answers to be provided must necessarily be part of collective approaches involving all the actors concerned. These responses must also highlight the mechanisms of interaction with the agriculture ecosystem in order to make innovations truly work for agriculture.

Africans are innovating.  It is essential to capitalize on these innovations to accelerate and scale up results in agriculture so we can meet the various challenges related to population growth, food needs and employment in Africa.

[1] 2018 Report of the world bank : https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/poverty-and-shared-prosperity

[2]  2018 Report of FAO : Africa regional overview of food security and nutrition

[3] Banque Mondiale 2016: https://www.banquemondiale.org/fr/topic/agriculture/brief/the-west-africa-agricultural-productivity-program