The annual Manufacturing Indaba provides a platform for international and local industry players in manufacturing to discuss challenges and to share examples and solutions. Some of the 2017 Manufacturing Indaba conference discussions focused on supporting local industry and creating a demand for local goods, contributing to the manufacturing value chain, skills improvement, and initiatives that can assist in moving Africa towards a more advanced manufacturing industry.
Topics and insights from the previous event forms the foundation of the critical themes for the upcoming 2018 Manufacturing Indaba, which has the overarching event theme of “Manufacturing our Future”. Some key points on the required factors for success and the challenges to overcome, as highlighted at the 2017 conference, include:
FACTORS FOR SUCCESS
- Reinforcing the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, supported by expertise
- Ongoing risk assessment, understanding the market and adapting to change
- Modern infrastructure: internet, access to new markets, advanced machinery and equipment, specialised and skilled employees
- Progress from a producer of raw materials (the smallest place in the value chain), to include value added activities
- High-impact, low-cost interventions (e.g. Pareto and fishbone analysis)
- Safe, environmentally compliant workplace
- Capable employees with continuously developing skills
- Incentive programmes and policies tailored to support industrial development
- Promoting greater inclusivity, more equitably spread and moving away from false empowerment
- Investing in business with high labour usage to preserve jobs
- Achieving greater coherence in localisation
- Becoming more EFFICIENT and more COMPETITIVE
SOME OF THE CHALLENGES IDENTIFIED
- Global challenges: low demand and investor confidence, lasting impact of 2008 financial crisis, oversupply in some sectors resulting in cut-throat pricing
- Impending uncertainty of the 4th industrial revolution and what impact this will have for manufacturers
- High unemployment rate
- Wages are increasing and productivity is falling
- Low levels of private sector investment due to the period of slow worldwide economic growth
- Domestic market not big enough; we need to be a trading economy. Some import opportunities have closed, but unlike China and India we cannot turn to our local markets
- Electricity costs are increasing above inflation
- Marginal effective tax rate is among the highest for manufacturing
- Skills shortages
- Inefficiencies in roads and infrastructure
Join us at Manufacturing Indaba 2018 to participate in the debate and to learn what
industry specialists say about Manufacturing our Future in Africa.
Visit our new website: www.manufacturingindaba.co.za to learn more about this prestigious event.
Africa will remain turbulent because it is poor and young, but also because it is growing and dynamic. Development is disruptive but also presents huge opportunities. The continent needs to plan accordingly.
Levels of armed conflict in Africa rise and fall. Data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, the Global Terrorism Database and others indicate that armed conflict peaked in 1990/91 at the end of the Cold War, declined to 2005/6, remained relative stable to 2010/11 and then increased to 2015, although it peaked at lower levels than in 1990/91 before its most recent decline.
Armed conflict has changed. Today there are many more non-state actors involved in armed conflict in Africa – representing a greater fracturing of armed groupings. So it’s not a matter of “government vs an armed group” but a “government vs many armed groups”. Insurgents are often divided and sometimes even fighting amongst themselves. This greater fragmentation complicates peacemaking.
Terrorism has also increased, but depending on how one defines it, it has always been widely prevalent in Africa both as a tactic to secure decolonisation as well as between and among competing armed groups. The big question for 2017 is: is violent political extremism going to move from the Middle East to Africa? Put another way, is it in Africa that Al Qaeda and the Islamic State will find solid footage as they are displaced from the Middle East?
Anti government turbulence has also increased in recent years. In Africa, this has led to disaffection and violence around elections that are often rigged rather than free and fair. Generally this is because governance in many African countries present a facade of democracy but don’t yet reflect substantive democracy.
Seven relationships lie behind patterns of violence on the continent, and provide insights into whether it can be managed better.
Relationships explaining violence
Internal armed conflict is much more prevalent in poor countries than in rich ones. This is not because poor people are violent but because poor states lack the ability to ensure law and order. The impact of poverty is exacerbated by inequality, such as in South Africa.
Updated forecasts using the International Futures forecasting system indicate that around 37% of Africans live in extreme poverty (roughly 460 million people).
By 2030, 32% of Africans (forecast at 548 million) are likely to live in extreme poverty. So, while the portion is coming down (around 5% less), the absolute numbers will likely increase by around 90 million. It’s therefore unlikely that Africa will meet the first of the Sustainable Development Goals on ending absolute poverty on a current growth path of roughly 4% GDP growth per annum.
Democratisation can trigger violence in the short to medium term, particularly around elections. Recent events in Kenya are an example. Where there is a large democratic deficit, as in North Africa before the Arab spring, tension builds up and can explode.
And a democratic deficit – where levels of democracy are below what can be expected when compared to other countries at similar levels of income and education – often leads to instability.
Instability is also fuelled by the manipulation of elections and constitutions by heads of state to extend their stay in power. Examples include Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and Uganda.
The nature of the governing regime is another structural factor. Most stable countries are either full democracies or full autocracies. But most African countries have mixed regimes with some elements of democracy mixed with strong autocratic features. They present a façade of democracy but lack its substantive elements. Mixed regimes are inherently more unstable and prone to disruptions than either full democracies or full autocracies.
Africa’s population is young, with a median age of 19. By comparison, the median age is 41 in France (a relatively young country by European standards). So 22% of adult French are in the youth bulge of 15-29 years compared to 47% of Africans.
Young countries tend to be more turbulent because young men are largely responsible for violence and crime. If young people lack jobs and rates of urbanisation are high, social exclusion and instability follow.
A history of violence is generally the best predictor of future violence. Countries such as Mali, Central African Republic and the DRC are trapped in cycles of violence. This is very difficult to break. It requires a huge effort and is very expensive, often requiring a large, multi-dimensional peace mission that only the UN can provide. But, scaling peacekeeping back rather than scaling it up is the order of the day at the UN.
A bad neighbourhood
Where a country is located can increase the risk of violence because borders are not controlled and rural areas not policed. Most conflict in Africa is supported from neighbouring countries. Violence spills over national borders and affects other countries while poorly trained and equipped law and order institutions generally cannot operate regionally.
Slow growth and rising inequality
Africa is quite unequal, so growth does not translate into poverty reduction. In addition, the world is in a low growth environment after the 2007/8 global financial crisis, with average rates of growth significantly lower than before. Africa needs to grow at average rates of 7% or more a year if it is to reduce poverty and create jobs, yet current long term forecasts are for rates significantly below that.
Opportunity amid challenges
These seven related factors indicate that the notion that Africa can somehow “silence the guns by 2020”, as advocated by the African Union as part of its Agenda 2063 is unrealistic. Violence will remain a characteristic of a number of African countries for many years to come and Africa should plan accordingly.
In the long term only rapid, inclusive economic growth combined with good governance can chip away at the structural drivers of violence. It is also clear that middle income countries are making progress in attracting foreign direct investment but that poor countries will remain aid dependent.
Much more international and regional cooperation will be required as part of this process, including substantive and scaled up support for peacekeeping.
– Jakkie Cilliers is Chair of the Board of Trustees and Head of African Futures & Innovation at the Institute for Security Studies and Extraordinary Professor in the Centre of Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.
Construction work has started on Deloitte Africa headquarters at Waterfall City, Midrand with a sod-turning ceremony onsite.
The project is set to cost in excess of 1 billion South African Rand.
The 42,500m2 ultra‐modern offices are expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020, and Deloitte plans to begin operating from its new base from April 2020.
Atterbury, a leading South African property investment and development business, and JSE‐listed premier property company, Attacq, are co‐owners in a 50/50 joint venture on the development of the new Deloitte premises.
Atterbury CEO Louis van der Watt believes that their deep understanding of Deloitte’s operational business needs will ensure the project’s success in the years ahead.
“Deloitte’s new offices will see them enjoy an excellent position in the sought‐after location of Waterfall, Gauteng. Here, they will consolidate their operations in the region in a central location. This development will not only provide Deloitte with room to grow as a business, but also be an asset that supports them in attracting new talent and continuing to serve their expanding market,” said Mr Watt.
Mike Jarvis, chief operating officer at Deloitte Africa, said they were excited about their new custom-designed headquarters for Deloitte Africa in what is clearly a sought-after corporate destination.
“This new centre of operation gears our Africa Firm to attract the best talent, serve our expanding market, and consolidate approximately 3700 of our people to make an even greater impact with our clients and communities,” Jarvis said.
Deloitte Africa headquarters features
The building, which will enjoy prime positioning alongside the Allandale interchange of the N1 highway, has space capacity for close to 5,000 people and promises Deloitte prominent highway frontage at the eastern side of Waterfall City as well as its clients and talent easy and quick access to its premises.
The Deloitte Africa headquarters consists of a ground floor with six stories of offices and four basement parking levels including nearly 2,000 parking bays.
Architecture practice Aevitas designed the new Deloitte headquarters to comply with a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Rating on completion.
Image source: atterbury
Providing detailed information for visitors
In practice, this means marketing the city’s attractions, experiences, accommodation and people across a variety of platforms including digital, social media and traditional media. Cape Town Tourism provides a wealth of detailed information for visitors to explore the city more, to ensure that their experiences are consistently world-class.
Cape Town Tourism also represents the city at trade shows and on other trade marketing platforms, to showcase what’s on offer and attract more visitors. This, with a view to expand the market locally, regionally and globally to key markets, which include the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Far East, as well as on the rest of the African continent ¬ – this includes promoting Cape Town as a destination and also identifying opportunities and potential partnerships.
Cape Town Tourism is a membership organisation comprising almost 1,300-member businesses, which include all tourism or tourism related businesses ranging from SMMEs to large multinational organisations.
Promoting and growing the tourism industry
As the city’s primary tourism organisation, Cape Town Tourism conducts extensive research into the economic value of tourism as well as visitor perceptions.
“We have long enjoyed working with the honorable mayor and her team as well as all those who represent the tourism industry in Cape Town in promoting this fantastic destination and ensuring that all expectations are met and exceeded for our visitors; it’s an honour that this working relationship is set to continue,” says Enver Duminy, CEO, Cape Town Tourism.
says Patricia de Lille, executive mayor, City of Cape Town.Cape Town Tourism encourages locals to extensively explore the city and to make use of the city’s resources on offer, and treat visitors well to ensure the ongoing growth of the tourism sector.
Africa is the fastest growing tourist destination. It offers a rich mélange of culture, heritage and natural wonders which draw tourists from all over the world. From rich forests to barren deserts and unmatched wildlife, Africa has everything to offer. However, constant tourism can put a huge strain on the resources, leading to its rapid depletion.
The beautiful continent has already started coming up with new and improved means to counter depletion and make way for sustainable tourism. It has adopted a four-pronged approach to containing the damage caused by some of the major aspects of tourism.
With more and more tourists visiting the continent, the need for production of food has been rapidly on a rise. This has resulted in practices which improve production but also lead to depletion of resources. To counter this, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in 2003.
This aims to allot at least 10 percent of the budget to agriculture. This promotes sustainable practices while also causing a growth in production. Crop rotation, use of natural fertilisers, drip cultivation and rainwater harvesting are encouraged. It is estimated that over the next decade, the production of food will increase to the point of solving a majority of the hunger issue of the continent while reducing wastage and damage to the planet.
Green initiatives by hotels
A number of African hotels are adopting green initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint and conserve their resources. From planting more trees to recycling and harvesting rainwater to convert it into drinking water, the tourism industry of Africa is going the extra mile to conserve the continent and its precious resources. Some hotels have discarded conventional sources of electricity and opted for solar power.
It has been seen that the green initiatives adopted by the hotels have resulted in greater footfall which acts as a huge incentive for more and more hotels to join the movement. Hotels in countries like South Africa, Egypt, Madagascar, etc. have managed to make an actual and substantial contribution towards the protection of their country’s resources by adopting sustainable means.
Energy efficient tourism
The recent years have seen a huge rise in eco-tourism. Here travellers are offered all the basic comfort and amenities but there is barely any extravagance. It is true that it offers minimum luxury but maximum experience is what one takes back. This is a very useful model of tourism which minimises the damages that are associated with tourism. Solar energy is the primary source of energy while traditional materials and sustainable practices are implemented in order to conserve. African countries are now actively promoting eco-tourism in a bid to offer tourists an authentic African experience as well as to reduce the energy consumption.
It is a known fact that tourism produces quite a lot of waste. Right from food waste to plastic water bottles, the amount of waste that is a direct result of the tourism industry is staggering. To manage the problem of waste, governments have started taking active steps to promote segregation and treatment of wastes to promote a more sustainable model.
There are talks of converting biodegradable waste into biofuel, while on the other hand recycling is given an extra push in order to reduce the quantity of non-biodegradable waste. Segregated waste baskets have been installed at various popular tourist spots and also in cities and hotels. The waste management sector has done a great job in improving sustainable tourism in the continent.
As tourism is increasing, various African governments are gearing up for a greater footfall without causing a strain on their resources. They have been taking active steps to build a sustainable model of tourism and it is their relentless, challenging work that is putting Africa on the road to a completely sustainable development.
AFRICA has been gradually turning into a net importer of food, as countries have continuously failed to produce enough to cover their consumption needs.
Although agriculture remains the mainstay of many economies in the region, a consistently growing population and a little diversifying agricultural sector has seen an increase in demand for food, which cannot be met locally.
The continent is abundantly endowed with approximately 50 percent of the world’s uncultivated land, abundant fertile soils and favourable climate.
Yet it still fails to feed itself, depending mostly on imports.
Grains top the list of foods that Africa imports, especially wheat, rice and maize.
However, due to the massive volumes that are traded on the global market every year, grains attract more traders and speculators resulting in volatile prices.
But this has not deterred African countries that continue to buy.
A Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-CS) meeting held last year, revealed that Africa spends approximately US$15 billion every year on grain imports.
SARD-CS co-ordinator, Dr Solomon Assefa, said it was unfortunate that Africa was spending billions of dollars to import food when it had the potential to be self-sufficient.
“Africa has huge arable land but cannot meet its potential. About 49 percent of the population in the region is living on less than US$1.20 per day. By addressing productivity, we will ensure people have decent lives. The US$15 billion being spent by Africa on importing food can be spent on other developmental programmes,” he said.
Market watchers have said Africa cannot reach its full economic potential without food security. They say the continent will remain poor as long as it continues to depend on other nations for food it can grow in its backyard.
And how can Africa address food self-sufficiency?
To be able to do this, there is need for greater private sector participation in the agricultural sector. If the private sector can join hands with government to come up with out-grower schemes that will benefit both the farmers and the company, economies will automatically benefit from a reduced import bill.
And contract farming is nothing new. It has existed since time immemorial.
In ancient Greece, the practice was widespread, with specified percentages of particular crops being a means of paying tithes, rents and debts. China and the United States also had such a practice at the turn of the century.
The concept has over the years been modified to benefit both the farmer and the contractor instead of favouring one partner.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the contract farming system should be seen as a partnership between agribusiness and farmers.
“To be successful, it requires long-term commitment from both parties. Exploitative arrangements by managers are likely to have only a limited duration and can jeopardise agribusiness investments. Similarly, farmers need to consider that honouring contractual arrangements is likely to be to their long-term benefit,” FAO said in a 2014 report.
One such arrangement has seen Dangote Group coming in to fund rice production in Nigeria.
Earlier this month, the group announced that its subsidiary Dangote Rice will launch a multi-million-naira rice out-grower scheme in Nigeria’s Sokoto state.
Dangote Rice projects when operational, are expected to generate a “significant number of jobs and increase income for smallholder farmers, all while diversifying Nigeria’s economy and reducing the nation’s food import bill”.
Official statistics in Nigeria show that rice demand stood at 6.3 million metric tons in 2015 but local production has been failing to satisfy that demand, only reaching 2.3 million tonnes.
The gap of about 4 million tonnes left by local production has been filled through rice imports.
Nigeria, along with South Africa, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola are the continent’s top rice buyers, contributing to an import bill of more than US$3.5 billion every year.
But Africa has been growing rice for more than 3,500 years but due to the huge demand, local producers fail to meet demand.
So, if more companies can invest in rice production, the continent can significantly reduce that import bill.
Wheat has been part of the African every-day diet for decades. Wheat flour is used by bakeries and food processors across the continent to make bread, noodles, biscuits and several other pastries.
Up to 85 percent of wheat consumed in Africa is imported so Africa spends no less than US$6 billion on imports every year.
The leading importers are Nigeria, South Africa and Angola.
While Zimbabwe’s import bill is small compared to these big economies, it is still necessary to mention it.
Agro-processing firm, National Foods, has been investing into contract farming for wheat production, but this has not been enough to improve production to meet Zimbabwe’s requirement of between 350,000 and 450,000 tonnes of wheat per year.
This means that there is need for more firms to contribute towards wheat productions if that is to happen.
Contract farming schemes are also needed in maize production, which is a staple food for over 500 million Africans.
Africa produces roughly 50 million tonnes of maize every year, but still imports nearly 30 percent of its maize consumption. This is largely because most maize is rain-fed making it susceptible to droughts, as was the case last year when most parts of the continent, especially Southern Africa, were hit by the El Niño-induced drought.
More agribusinesses need to take up such schemes and correct the continent’s ineffective grain supply value chains.
This includes production, processing and marketing.
We have already seen such organisation in the brewing industry in Africa, which has been growing tremendously with several companies contracting farmers to grow their sorghum, barley, cassava and other grains used in beer production.
In Uganda, contract farming of sorghum for brewing purposes was first pioneered in 2008 by SABMiller. Sorghum-based beer now accounts for half of SABMiller’s 55 percent share of the Ugandan beer market.
In Zimbabwe, Delta Beverages last year injected more than US$4 million into its Beverages Sorghum Contract Farming Scheme (BSCFS) and received about 15,675 tonnes of the grain, which was more than enough to meet its annual requirement of 15,000 tonnes.
So if there is the same organisation in out-grower schemes for food crops, as there is in the brewing industry, we can begin to see a shift in Africa’s need to import.
To meet skyrocketing demand for electricity, African countries may have to triple their energy output by 2030. While hydropower and fossil fuel power plants are favored approaches in some quarters, a new assessment by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has found that wind and solar can be economically and environmentally competitive options and can contribute significantly to the rising demand.
“Wind and solar have historically been dismissed as too expensive and temporally variable, but one of our key findings is that there are plentiful wind and solar resources in Africa that are both low-impact and cost-effective,” said Ranjit Deshmukh, one of the lead researchers of the study. “Another important finding is that with strategic siting of the renewable energy resource and with more energy trade and grid interconnections between countries, the total system cost can be lower than it would be if countries were to develop their resource in isolation without strategic siting.”
The research appeared online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in an article titled, “Strategic siting and regional grid interconnections key to low-carbon futures in African countries.” The lead authors are Deshmukh and Grace C. Wu, both Berkeley Lab researchers in the Energy Technologies Area. Much of the initial research was funded by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is based in Abu Dhabi. Individual fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Link Foundation to Wu and Deshmukh supported the expanded analysis on wind siting.
“As a region, Africa is in an unparalleled energy crisis rife with electricity deficiency, lack of access, and high costs,” said Wu. “How African countries and the international community tackle this crisis in the coming decades will have large social, environmental, and climate implications.”
One-of-a-kind open-source planning framework and tool
The Berkeley Lab study is the first of its kind for Africa, using multiple criteria-such as quality of the resource, distance from transmission lines and roads, co-location potential, availability of water resources, potential human impact, and many other factors-to characterize wind and solar resources. Looking at the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP), which together include 21 countries accounting for half the continent’s population, it found that many countries have wind and solar potential several times greater than their expected demand in 2030.
The tool they used to make these evaluations, the Multicriteria Analysis for Planning Renewable Energy (MapRE, at mapre.lbl.gov) was developed at Berkeley Lab in collaboration with IRENA and is open-source and publicly available to researchers and policymakers.
“Usually project developers will just choose the site with the least levelized cost and best wind speeds, but in reality those aren’t the best sites,” Deshmukh said. “Often times you want development closer to transmission infrastructure or to cities so you don’t have to assume the risk involved in developing transmission infrastructure over long distances, let alone transmitting electricity across those distances. It’s difficult to quantify those costs. Our tool enables stakeholders to bring all these criteria into their decision-making and helps them prioritize areas for development and preplanning of transmission.”
Siting and grid interconnections are key
Not only did the researchers find plentiful wind and solar resources in Africa, another key finding was that system costs and impacts could be lower with robust energy trade and grid connections between countries. And if wind farms are strategically sited so as to manage peak demand, costs can be lower still.
“System costs can be further reduced if wind farms are sited where the timing of wind generation matches electricity demand rather than in areas that maximize wind energy production,” Wu said. “These cost savings are due to avoided natural gas, hydro, or coal generation capacity.”
For example, the researchers found that in a high-wind scenario in the Southern Africa Power Pool, strategic siting and grid interconnections would reduce the need for conventional generation capacity by 9.5 percent, resulting in cost savings of 6 to 20 percent, depending on the technology that was avoided.
“Together, international energy trade and strategic siting can enable African countries to pursue ‘no-regrets’ wind and solar that can compete with conventional generation technologies like coal and hydropower,” Wu said. “No-regrets options are low-cost, low-impact, and low-risk.”
With Berkeley Lab’s MapRE tool, policymakers will be able to do a preliminary evaluation of various sites on their own without having to rely on developers for technical information. “This information brings policymakers level with project developers,” Deskhmukh said. “It reduces costs for everybody and allows for a much more sustainable planning paradigm.”
In addition to Africa, the researchers have uploaded data for India and plan to add more countries, most likely in Asia. And they have held five workshops in Africa for regulators, academics, utilities, and energy officials to share the approach and findings. “They’ve been super enthusiastic,” Deshmukh said. “We’re seeing impacts on the ground.”
The amount of wind and solar currently deployed in Africa is tiny, he said. But with global prices having declined dramatically in the last decade or so, renewable energy has become a competitive alternative. And while hydropower is a significant and familiar resource in Africa, climbing costs and persistent droughts are making it less attractive.
“Just based purely on economics today wind and solar are attractive,” Deshmukh said. “It makes economic sense. Through planning around multiple stakeholder criteria and prioritizing wind and solar projects for regional energy trade, policymakers and financiers can increase their cost-competitiveness.”
The attack marks a shocking new development in a crisis that sees more than three rhinos killed every day in their southern African homelands. Trade in rhino horn is completely illegal but demand from Vietnam and China fuels poaching and smuggling, putting the rhinos at risk of extinction.
Rhino horn is made of keratin – the same material as human fingernails – but an urban myth about a senior Vietnamese figure being cured of cancer pushed up demand in recent years and as its price rose, it has become a status symbol and hangover tonic. Longer-standing uses such as a supposed fever treatment in traditional Chinese medicine and as ornamental carvings have also driven up prices.
With the prices high and, until recently, the penalties very low, international organised crime networks mobilised to supply the illegal trade – wildlife trafficking is a multi-billion dollar enterprise only surpassed by the smuggling of drugs, arms and people.
The zoo raid, and thefts from museums across Europe in recent years, reveal how the criminals have been keeping ahead of authorities. “The criminal networks involved have shown themselves to be far more innovative and utterly ruthless,” said Julian Rademeyer, an expert on rhino horn at Traffic, the leading wildlife trade monitoring organisation. “They are often outthinking law enforcement and government regulations, finding new loopholes to exploit.”
The criminals have even shown a brazen marketing flair: the idea that powdered rhino horn is an aphrodisiac began as a western myth, said Rademeyer, but the syndicates latched on to it and now sell wine laced with rhino horn as aphrodisiacs in Vietnam.
Rademeyer and all the key wildlife trade groups decline to detail the current price of rhino horn, for fear of encouraging more crime. But it is public knowledge that the horn peaked in price at about $65,000 a kilogram in 2012. It is thought to have fallen significantly since then, though it remains many times more valuable than elephant ivory.
There has been a crackdown on poaching in South Africa, home to about 70% of all rhinos, but killings have spiked in Namibia and Zimbabwe as poachers seek easier targets.
“There have been warnings for the last four to five years that zoos need to tighten up security,” Rademeyer said. Police are visiting every zoo and wildlife park in the UK that houses rhinos – 111 in total – to provide security advice.
Rademeyer said there have been hundreds of rhino horn thefts across Europe in recent years. In 2016, seven men received lengthy jail sentences in the UK over a series of museum raids which targeted horns and jade artefacts estimated to be worth over £50m.
However, the epicentre of the rhino crisis remains in southern Africa, where poor young men are willing to risk their lives by poaching. They receive just a tiny fraction of the horns’ ultimate value, but even a few hundred dollars is a huge sum in their communities.
Hundreds of poachers have been killed in the last seven years and a much smaller but significant number of rangers, soldiers and policemen have also died. “People have limited sympathy for poachers but I think [their poverty] is a reality that has to be grappled with,” said Rademeyer.
“Shooting and jailing the poachers is not a long term solution,” he said. “They are very easy [for the crime syndicates] to find and very easy to exploit. Whether they get killed or arrested means very little to the syndicates, and the same applies to the couriers. The kingpins who are making the big money are getting away with it.”
Rademeyer said police cooperation is crucial to tackling the global rhino horn trade: “You are dealing with very sophisticated transnational organised crime syndicates in many cases and yet your law enforcement is hampered by international borders. Police tend to police their own backyard.” He says campaigns in Asia to stigmatise rhino horn use are important too, and have helped cut the shark fin trade.
The Paris poaching also raises the controversial question of whether a legalised trade in rhino horn, harvested sustainably from wild or farmed animals, could destroy the black market. Many nations and organisations strongly oppose the idea, saying it would simply allow illegal horns to be laundered with fake permits, but South Africa backs the idea.
Duan Biggs, a researcher at Griffith University in Australia, said: “The issue is complex, but a well managed and enforced legal trade that is structured to fund rhino protection and deliver community benefits is likely to work better than the status quo.” He accepts some people might find it unethical, but said: “I think that poaching a rhino in a zoo or in the wild is even more morally repugnant than a well regulated legal trade.”
However, a legalised rhino horn trade is unlikely any time soon. Swaziland made such a proposal at an international wildlife trade summit in Johannesburg in September and it was soundly defeated.
Rademeyer remains cautiously optimistic that the perilous decline of the world’s rhino can be reversed, pointing to their comeback from the brink of extinction in the 1950s. “We have beaten this before,” he said.
As I set out this summer for a month traveling with my family through Africa, the Middle East and the United States for business and vacation, I wondered: Where would I find the best examples of sustainability and social impact — and lessons to bring home for businesses, brands and those of us working for a better world?
Let’s face it: Africa and the Middle East don’t usually conjure up images of “sustainability,” but quite the opposite.
We might think of impoverished, malnourished and oppressed people living in over-crowded, polluted cities, drought-stricken deserts or remote jungles — places where greedy corporations, corrupt dictators and violent warlords exploit them and natural resources.
The U.S. and other developed countries more likely would come to mind as a model for human rights, corporate responsibility and environmental conservation practices. But I was pleasantly surprised to find sustainability bright spots and takeaways in all five countries I visited on three continents: Senegal, Kenya, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S.
Senegal: Advancing human rights for women and girls
To address the lack of basic education at the root of most failed development projects in Senegal, American Molly Melching created the nonprofit Tostan in 1991 using a then-novel approach: educating villagers in their own national languages, such as Wolof and Pulaar, using non-traditional methods such as theater and storytelling. I knew this was something special when I first volunteered at Tostan (which means “hatching” in Wolof) for seven months in the mid-1990s.
But visiting this summer after more than 20 years, I found that Molly and her team have become the driving force behind a globally recognized movement to end the prevalent traditions of female genital cutting (FGC) and child or forced marriage in Senegal and five other African countries where Tostan operates, a story chronicled in the book “However Long the Night.”
To date, more than 7,400 African communities have pledged to end these practices and Senegal has outlawed FGC — sparing millions of girls and women the pain, infection birthing complications and even death that can accompany it.
How is Tostan succeeding on this complex issue where so many others have failed? Recognizing that women practice FGC out of respect for religious and cultural norms, Molly’s team didn’t judge them or even ask them to stop. Instead, they empowered women with the human rights and health knowledge that, over many years, led them to make their own brave declarations.
As Hillary Clinton put it, following her visits as first lady and later as a senator, “Tostan’s approach succeeds because of its deep respect for the people it serves.”
Takeaway: To change behavior, let the audience lead
If your brand or business wants people to take action, don’t tell them what to do. Instead, as Tostan teaches us, educate your audience in ways they like to learn and you’ll empower them to change even the most entrenched social norms.
Kenya: Reduce, reuse, recycle and respect
In the remote Masai Mara region north of the Serengeti, I found Cottar’s 1920s Safari Campreminiscent of a bygone era, but its sustainability practices and goal “to become net positive” cutting edge. Cottar’s funds a wildlife trust focused on conservation, community, culture and commerce; irrigates the onsite organic garden with recycled grey water; and is transitioning to solar, wind and other forms of alternative energy — which also seemed to include using elephant dung instead of wood as fuel for heating my shower.
Not only do they reduce and reuse, they also show great respect for the land, animals and people. Cottar’s hires and trains half its staff from surrounding communities, pays wages well above industry averages, and contributes several hundred thousand dollars a year in “land use fees” to the Masai’s regional council for daily access to the game preserve where they take guests on safari. This is even more impressive given that many safari operations in the region illegally build on protected land, exploit the Masai and leave a heavy environmental footprint.
I saw another win-win story in Nairobi, where Ocean Sole recycles thousands of flip-flops littering the beaches and waterways and turns them into hand-crafted animal figurines. This “upcycling” eco-venture is literally turning trash into treasure — creating job opportunities for locals, protecting oceans and wildlife, and educating countless souls worldwide about the threat of marine debris.
Takeaway: Be naturally resourceful
Cottar’s and Ocean Sole prove that even the smallest businesses can leverage natural resources creatively. Just as they use elephant dung and discarded flip-flops to make an impact, perhaps your company can find unconventional and untapped resources to advance your sustainability goals.
Zanzibar, Tanzania: Celebrate diversity
In Zanzibar, an archipelago of islands off the coast of Tanzania, I experienced a culture steeped in history and rich in ethnic diversity, yet seemingly enjoying social harmony.
As the tourism commission website notes, “Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguese, Omani Arabs, Dutch and British have settled here at one time or another and influenced the local culture into the present fusion.” Zanzibar is both a multiracial and multicultural society, with people of many faiths and origins, where almost the entire population is of mixed races, primarily of Arab and African decent blended with local culture.
I saw this diversity on display while strolling the streets during the final evenings of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when families in their finest, multi-colored traditional attire mingled with other locals and tourists. It was also evident in our tour guide Juma, a modest Muslim of African descent who spoke not only English and Swahili but also French, Japanese and Russian.
Another man perhaps best exemplifies the celebration of Zanzibar’s diversity: its most famous native son, Freddie Mercury. The flamboyant former frontman of rock band Queen was born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar to Persian parents from India, and his memory is still very much alive there thanks to his childhood home that’s now a popular museum.
Takeaway: Be patient but persistent
Achieving harmony among diverse people — whether in a business, a community or even an entire country — takes time. In Zanzibar’s case, it’s taken literally centuries to become the multicultural society it is today. In America, we’re still early in the struggle to overcome racial, religious and other tensions, and we have a long road ahead.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: An embarrassment of riches
Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, is known to boast about its largesse, from having the world’s tallest skyscraper and largest mall to the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. So it’s no surprise that Dubai has an entire “sustainable city” development, enough LEED-certified buildings to make the world’s top 10 list and plans to be the “Capital of the Green Economy” by 2021 — a goal which sustainability leader John Elkington called into question in this GreenBiz article.
In my brief visit, I found that sustainability in Dubai is not only a grand ambition but also a grand conundrum. On the one hand, Dubai is indeed doing environmental sustainability right in many areas, from green buildings and solar farms to desalination and public transportation. But such development, and the society itself, isn’t entirely sustainable or socially progressive when funded by fossil fuel profits, reliant on pervasive human rights abuses of migrant laborers and steadfast in its oppression of women and homosexuals.
In Dubai I caught a glimpse of how a lot of money is a double-edged sword for sustainability: It can help realize visionary plans for sustainable living in a harsh desert climate, yet also fuel the kind grandiose ambitions that result in Dubai’s man-made islands shaped like a giant palm tree(the world’s largest, of course, with high-end homes, shops, hotels and a water park) and islands forming a map of the world. That the latter project has been abandoned due to the 2008 global financial crisis is perhaps the best reminder that our scarce resources could be best applied to saving the islands we have rather than building new ones.
Takeaway: Spend wisely to achieve the attainable
While most of us struggle with a lack of funds rather than an abundance, Dubai is a good reminder to use what we have wisely. Before putting your bets on the best or biggest sustainability accomplishments in the field, focus your scarce resources on achieving outcomes that are meaningful for your business and don’t compromise your values.
West Virginia, United States: Challenge conventional thinking
Business brought me to rural Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where I trained the team at the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute (a client) to tell the story of the groundbreaking work they’re doing in land-based aquaculture, featured in the Time Magazine article “You Won’t Believe the Source of the World’s Most Sustainable Salmon.”
This story starts with the FedEx trucks that deliver salmon larvae from labs around the world to Freshwater — a collection of warehouses on a farm-like property outside town — where the team breeds fish in giant tanks (think above-ground swimming pools), embedding each with a transponder tag to track and optimize their growth based on variations such as feed type, water temperature and fish density. The operation is low impact on many levels, using fish feed made from agricultural byproducts, water that’s re-circulated from the onsite spring, fish waste that’s used as a soil-amendment for nearby farms, and slaughter techniques that are more humane than conventional methods.
The result is farmed — yes, farmed — salmon that’s surprisingly sustainable compared to alternatives, and one promising way we can help achieve the estimated doubling of world food supply that will be needed to feed the earth’s population by 2050.
Takeaway: Swim upstream
Despite the negative perception around farmed fish, Freshwater leaned into this space and found a way to do it better. So, don’t be deterred from taking on the most sticky, unsolved sustainability challenges. Swimming against the current may be more risky, but it also can set you apart as the biggest fish in your pond.