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How carefully managed urbanization can help African nations prosper

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Dr. Cheick Modibo Diarra, former Prime Minister of Mali and Chairman of ALN. The ALN Africa Investment Conference takes place in Dubai on 7-8 November 2018. More details can be found here.

Sub-Saharan Africa is in the midst of a huge wave of urban growth. The African Development Bank suggests that 760 million people will be living in African cities by 2030, a figure that will rise to 1.2 billion by 2050. In the face of such dramatic pressures on our continent’s cities, the requirement for fast, comprehensive management of growing urban centers is needed now more than ever before.

For many, urbanization presents challenges. As the number of people living in urban centers increases, so too does the demand for adequate housing, access to utilities (electricity, water and sewerage), education and jobs. If this demand cannot be met, or managed effectively, the result can be catastrophic. Nowhere is the rise of inequality clearer than in urban areas, where more affluent communities coexist alongside, yet separate from, informal settlements.

Africa is no stranger to unplanned development in urban areas. In Mali, for example, our capital Bamako has one of the fastest growing urban populations on the continent, and accounts for 34 per cent of Mali’s overall GDP. Yet, such rapid growth has led to the development of pockets of crowded informal settlements in the city. And whilst these settlements are positioned in our bustling capital, a lack of connectivity isolates these areas. In reality, this means that for the many Malians residing there, they are unable to access quality education, health services, and ultimately, realize  their true potential. Yet, despite these challenges, settlements like these should not be perceived with pity or frustration, but as untapped potential.

If managed correctly, urbanization can provide citizens with access to these basic opportunities.  According to the World Bank, 80 per cent of global GDP is derived from urban centers. And it’s easy to see how cities play a key role in fostering economic growth and self-development. Commuting to work becomes cheaper and faster. There are greater job opportunities and easier access to schools. Cities are home to a high concentration of consumers whose demand for goods and services promotes business growth. Over the next 15 years, consumer spending in African cities is estimated to reach a staggering US$2.2tn.

Sustainable cities – that is those designed with consideration for social, economic and environmental impacts for current and future populations – are the cornerstone of prosperous and strong nations. For example, African cities are, on the whole, inadequately equipped for the needs of the older population and governments must make provisions in areas including geriatric healthcare and access to services such as public transport and libraries.  As such, it is imperative that governments create long-term plans for the development of urban and industrial areas. The key is that these plans are unique to their respective cities, and urban planners are fully integrated in the planning process.  Effective spatial planning facilitates sectoral coordination, as businesses in close proximity to each other are able to develop practical synergies, allowing for specialization, growth and increased profits.

Informal economies that exist in locations such as Nairobi’s Kibera settlement have the capacity to breed entrepreneurship and innovation. Businesses, in turn, gravitate towards a growing pool of highly-motivated and skilled labor. Local governments officials must therefore work hand-in-hand with central governments to harness the potential that lies in these areas. They must channel human capital away from informal trade, towards official platforms by providing connectivity, resources and opportunities. Such localized economic prosperity is contagious: higher incomes lead to higher spending, kickstarting a process of growth that ripples throughout the city, the nation and the wider region.

That said, effective spatial planning is difficult to implement retrospectively. Yet, many African countries are positioned relatively early in the urbanization process. Approximately 70 per cent of Mali’s population, for example, is rural. Another significant advantage held by ‘less-urbanized’ countries is their ability to bypass the many inefficient systems that more mature cities have evolved through, leapfrogging to implementing environmentally, economically and socially sustainable solutions. From developing infrastructure grids conducive to renewable energy sources, to using mobile phone networks to measure migration patterns, young cities have the potential to learn from the mistakes of others and leverage the benefits of modern technology to guide their expansion.

It is vital that those driving and managing urban growth today, recognize that they are not pushing a city towards a defined end point but engaging in an ongoing process. And this is the very theme which will be discussed at the ALN Africa Investment Conference in Dubai later this year. Short sighted projects that stretch resources to their limit must be rejected. Stakeholders must remain aware that one day they will have to pass on the baton of development to future generations. When considering the future of Mali, it hinges on equal opportunity for all and preserving an environment for the happiness of generations to come. And with this in mind, cities must plan for tomorrow as they build for today, only then will sustainable development be achieved and maintained, rewarding Africa, and its citizens, with the prosperity it deserves.

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IWG GROWTH IN AFRICA – FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITIES

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Flexible working is growing rapidly, with IWG’s continued expansion across its operating brands, seeing another 156 new locations opening in 34 countries around the globe

The company has established 156 locations across 34 countries across its operating brands, since the turn of the year, continuing its mission to service a flex working revolution. Add to this the expansion of their franchising model into the African continent and they are on track to reach their target of increasing their presence in the 1,000 cities and towns where they already operate.

Flexible working, sometimes known as co-working, refers to office space, meeting rooms and co-working areas that can be rented by individual workers or corporates from one hour to several years.

A report by consultancy firm The Instant Group found demand for flexible workspace globally increased by 19% last year, stating that the growth in the supply of flexible space was ‘the number one story’ in commercial property markets around the world.

John Williams, head of marketing at The Instant Group, put the growth down to two factors, a change in how large companies were operating – specifically in relation to flexible working practices – and changes to the nature of the workforce itself.

A reluctance by major companies to sign long-term lease agreements in order to stay financially flexible was also a driver according to Williams. 

“Market demand is growing by as much as 30% each year in some global markets and it is our understanding that the majority of companies are still not aware of their options in flex space, they are still learning about the types of space they can access and the costs involved,” Williams says.

Two major brands that have used Regus to grow in Africa are Google and P&G. Google has 50 employees with Regus in Kenya, and P&G has 100 employees in the country.

Though they have the finances and resources to build their own offices, startup costs can be expensive, and getting an office up to spec with high-speed broadband, useable meeting rooms and desk space can take up valuable time.

Plus, using flexible office space reduces the commitment for these big organisations, many of whom are still testing the water in new African cities.

A report on the Future of Work in Africa released by the World Bank, shows that access to digital technologies could set Africa on a different path to the rest of the world.

While there is globally a focus on new and old sectors, in Africa digital transformation will predominantly enable advances in productivity and efficiency in current sectors.

IWG is currently seeking driven landlords, private equity firms, multi-brand franchise operators and high net-worth individuals to partner with to buy into the lucrative flexible working market at attractive returns.

With the first franchise centre already open in Angola and new centres opening in Guinea and Djibouti in September, the company is determinedly targeting the African continent for development and investment opportunities for early adopters of the franchising model.

Eligible franchisees will commit to opening a prescribed number of centres within a period of 5 years, have a proven track-record in business, property or investment and will work closely with Regus to find and design ideal locations and uphold IWG’s strict operating standards.

In return, franchisees buy into an established global brand that provides multiple revenue streams including monthly memberships and referral fees; leverage their highly effective marketing strategy and global sales platform, which generates 100,000+ enquiries every month; have access to IWG’s entire network of world-class operational support; and diversify their investment portfolio to include an industry that will have created 30 million jobs across 16 of the world’s countries by 2030.

To find out more: https://franchise.iwgplc.com/

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Nigeria’s Manufacturing Power Couple On The Future Of Manufacturing In Nigeria

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Chief Razak Okoya: Chairman Eleganza Group And Rao Property Investment Company

Chief Razak Okoya is an industrialist who has managed to transform a small trading company into one of the largest conglomerates and indigenous manufacturers of household products in Nigeria.

As founder of Eleganza Group and leading property investment company RAO Property, he employs about 5000 people across Nigeria. In his interview with Forbes Africa, he discusses the trends that will influence the competitive Nigerian Manufacturing sector in the next decade.

Chief Folashade Noimat Okoya: Managing Director, Eleganza Industrial City

Chief Mrs. Folashade Okoya has been at the helm of affairs of the Eleganza Group and RAO Property Investment for the past decade using her strong entrepreneurial drive to further strengthen the goodwill of both organizations and its corporate positioning in Nigeria.

Under her watch, Eleganza Group has risen to new heights strengthening its position as a leading indigenous brand in Nigeria as well as one of the benchmark manufacturing companies in the country.

She talks about the stigma of women in manufacturing and the need for greater automation in the manufacturing process in Nigeria.

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Nigeria’s Biggest Corporations: A Pan-Nigerian View To The World

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At the beginning of the Japanese Economic Miracle, were the likes of
Akio Morita – Co-founder of Sony. In setting a Mission for Sony, Morita had
resolved to set for Sony Corporations the Mission to make Japan known for quality at a time the country was known for cheap-copycat product. It is indeed in this vision, that True Nigerian Experience was founded with a mission to showcase the Best of Nigeria.

According to the International Monetary Fund in 2018, Nigeria is regarded as the biggest economy in Africa with a Gross Domestic Product of about $400 Billion Dollars – Leading the entire 54 African Economies both in Population of over 180 Million people and GDP.

The Nigerian Economy is ranked the 30th largest Economy in the World. To mention a few, Nigeria’s Nominal GDP is bigger than the Republic of Ireland (US $373 Billion), Israel (US $370 Billion), Hong Kong (US $363 Billion), Singapore (US $361 Billion), Malaysia (US $354 Billion), Denmark (US $351 Billion), Colombia (US $333 Billion), Philippines (US $331 Billion), Chile (US $298 Billion), Finland (US $275 Billion), Czech Republic (US $242 Billion), Romania (US $ 240 Billion), Portugal (US $239 Billion, Peru (US $225 Billion), Greece (US $219 Billion), New Zealand (US $203 Billion) and over a hundred other countries’ economies in the World.

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