Outer Space with Astrophysicist Prof. Datuk Mazlan Othman

Vivian Kobusingye
Birchall walking toward
one of the submillimeter array Antennas

The eight radio telescopes of the Smithsonian Submillimeter Array
Photo: Reno
Historically, people have studied space, using the cycles of the moon for religious and agricultural purposes, and the positions of the stars and constellations for navigation.  In the last century, these interests led to space exploration.
Replica of Sputnik
Photo: NASA

The Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite into orbit on October 4, 1957.  The first American satellite, Explorer 1, followed on January 31, 1958. The first human to orbit Earth was Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union, on April 12, 1961.  John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth on February 20, 1962, and on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon.  In the years since, thousands more satellites representing over 80 countries, and citizens of 37 countries, have been launched into space.

Africa’s first spaceport, the San Marco Equatorial Range, opened in 1964 near Malindi, Kenya, as a partnership between NASA and the University of Rome.  In 1970, the first satellite specifically for X-ray astronomy, Uhuru, was launched from Kenya. 
San Marco Equatorial Range- Malindi, Kenya
Photo: Wiki commons

The site no longer launches satellites, but still tracks them. African countries from Morocco and Algeria to Ghana, Kenya and Mauritius now use satellites for scientific research, environmental and land-use monitoring, radio and television broadcasts, and internet.

Today, we live in a world where space technology is used in our day to day lives, and almost taken for granted. Our aircraft, ships, cars and even smartphones know where they are at all times.  We have constant views of Earth’s weather and storms. And live television or radio broadcasts from anywhere in the world can be received worldwide, even by people who live “off the grid.”

Prof. Datuk Mazlan Othman

At the International level, the United Nations has an office for Outer Space Affairs which implements the decisions of the United Nations General Assembly and of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and maintains a database of satellites registered by the nations which launch them.

In observance of International Women’s day, my guest, via Skype is Professor Mazlan Othman, former Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. Prior to taking that office, she was the founding Director General for Malaysia’s National Space Agency, Angkasa. She is currently the Project Director for the Academy of Sciences in Malaysia.

Watch Episode:

Professor Othman was the first woman to earn a physics Ph.D. from the University of Otago in New Zealand, and the first physics Ph.D. in Malaysia.  Working in a field that was previously dominated by men, she led the way for more women to follow.

We chatted about her experience working in the space industry for the past 29 years; people’s misconception that space is secretive and elitist; the positives and negatives for society, from the use of space; thoughts on establishment of a Space Force and the United Nations guidelines for the increased use of space

Vivian Kobusingye Birchall with Japanese
Astronaut Koichi Wakata 

Harvard Medical School- Global Health Catalyst Summit 2019

In May 2019, Harvard Medical School will be hosting its annual Global Health Catalyst Summit. This summit is a unique event designed to catalyze high international collaborations to eliminate global health disparities and curb the growing burden of non-communicable diseases.

Last year, I participated as a presenter at this Summit, on the “Wakanda” panel. My presentation was about bridging Africa’s Healthcare gap with ethno medicine, as a sustainable way to disrupt the health care disparities that communities in Africa face. Read more

On Thursday January 31, 2019, I hosted Oscar Nebangwa, Diaspora Outreach Coordinator- Harvard Global Health Catalyst Summit on Africa2U.

Watch  episode

We talked about the Global Health Catalyst Summit - its purpose and desired outcomes, the African Renaissance Ambassador Corp, and his experience working with processes and programs designed to create catalytic development in Africa and the United States.

MIT Africa Innovate Conference- Made in Africa

Youssef Aroub- MIT and Vivian Birchall- Africa2U

Africa is not labeled as an innovation hub, but it is home to some of the most significant inventions. A large number of inventions are developed to meet the needs of local communities, in predominantly poor economies.

Case in point, Malaria.  It is estimated that malaria costs the African economy almost 1.5% of its GDP. Last year, a non-invasive malaria test called Matibabu, developed by Ugandan university students, won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. The invention is being tested in partnership with a national hospital, and is expected to give results in one minute, with no need to draw blood. 
However, the continent has also produced some high-tech inventions to address global issues in the healthcare, banking, navigation, space, energy and artificial intelligence fields.

The Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) recognizes African potential and for eight years, the MIT Africa Club has hosted an Africa Innovate Conference.  As part of Africans in Boston, I attended last year’s conference, on the theme “Digitization of Africa,” which attracted a cross section of participants including MIT Alumni, business leaders and advisors from Africa and the United States, politicians, and members of the diaspora.
Youssef Aroub

This year, the club will host the 9th annual MIT Africa Innovate Conference on April 14, 2019 at the Samberg Conference Center. The conference theme is “Made in Africa.”  

On Friday February 22, 2019, I hosted Youssef Aroub, Chair, MIT Africa Innovate Conference, on Africa2u, to talk about the MIT Africa Innovate Conference (Origin/background, goals, objectives), significant innovations from Africa, the innovation patterns in Africa, and what Africa needs to get ahead in innovation and technological advancement.
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The conference creates an opportunity for participants to learn and share best practices and strategies required to accelerate the scaling of impactful enterprises and innovations on the continent across sectors and create partnerships and collaborations.

Perspective on the History of South-South Cooperation and Migration in Africa

In this article, I provide perspective on the history of South-South cooperation in Africa and how it has influenced south-south migration.

- Approximately 215 million migrants live outside their home countries.
- 80% of African migrants live within the region.
- Uganda has the largest number of refugees in Africa.

The history of migration and cooperation within the global south dates back to the beginning of mankind, and the global south, specifically Africa, has always been an important player in the international arena, though very rarely recognized as such.

In November, 2018, I traveled to United Nations headquarters in New York, to participate as a presenter and panelist at a side event to the Global South-South Development Expo.  Convened by the International Organization for Migration, this event, like others at the Expo, contributed to the preparatory process for the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, which will be held this March in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

More immediately, the dialogue presented information to UN Member States and other stakeholders considering the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and offered them an opportunity to discuss the benefits of South-South and triangular cooperation in promoting better migration governance.  The Global Compact has since been adopted at a conference in Marrakech on December 10, and endorsed by the UN General Assembly on December 18, 2018.

It is worth recognizing, however, that South-South migration and cooperation pre-date modern diplomatic institutions.

In one of the previous episodes, I pointed out that migration has been a consistent part of human civilization. History reveals that mankind originated in Africa and through migration, spread to the other parts of the world. According to genetic evidence and the most recent fossil discoveries, groups of modern humans first moved across the Sinai Peninsula about 180,000 years ago. Innovative talent carried our species into every exploitable niche. We were living in the eastern Mediterranean region by 90,000 years ago and reached Asia and Australia by 40,000 years ago and Europe by 30,000 years ago.

During ice ages, sea levels were as much as 425 feet lower than they are today, so there were land bridges connecting many of today’s islands and continents. Humans walked across what is now the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska by 15,000 years ago, and reached the southern tip of South America by 12,000 years ago.  Polynesian voyagers even colonized New Zealand at least 700 years ago.

Historically, there have been different social, economic, and political reasons for migration.

These migration trends led to cities emerging, markets, trade routes and most importantly established trade relations and diplomacy.

In Africa, as a product of these trade practices, many of the indigenous people of the Maghreb and the Sahara before the Arab/Muslim conquest, - the Berber, adopted whichever language was spoken by their conquerors or trade partners. Due to the transportation barrier caused by the Sahara Desert, they interacted more with the European and Arab traders who used the Mediterranean Sea as their trade routes, and picked up their culture.

This scenario is similar to the settlement and integration of refugees in Uganda.  I earlier mentioned that Uganda hosts the most refugees in Africa and many of these refugees have picked up local identities and practices.

However, there were also the trans-Saharan trade routes, and the Nile Valley migratory routes that led various groups of people from across the Sahara into Sub-Saharan Africa, and they settled there. As a result of the trans-Saharan trade, Berber merchants and nomads incorporated the lands of the Sudan and other lands in the sub-Saharan region into the Islamic world and culture. 

The Zulu are part of the Bantu ethnic group
There was also the great African Migration of the Bantu from West Africa, all the way to the south,  and how the Bantu interacted with
the nilotics, nilo-hamites, and other ethnic groups.

These routes would be equivalent to modern day migratory corridors.
Most recently, with digitization and quick access to information, people have learnt in real time the facts and challenges that come with migration to the north and more are choosing to stay closer to their home countries. Major cities in Africa are becoming migration hot spots.

As the IOM points out, countries in the global South are increasingly generating their own best practices and knowledge to address sustainable development challenges. This is critical to a successful south-south cooperation that would have to tap into indigenous/local solutions to challenges, especially since there are less formal migration policies in the south, specifically Africa.

It goes without saying that there are financial challenges to migrant hosts.

Indeed, countries in the global south need to work together to strengthen south- south cooperation on national, bilateral and multi-lateral levels. 

My recommendation is that Africa, as part of the global south, be more practical in its strategies by revisiting the things that Africa is naturally gifted with, such as its friendly people, flora, fauna and minerals, and leverage that in promoting south-south cooperation, without having to borrow a lot of money from the north, and get tied into debt.

Here are some of the things the continent can do.

1. Celebrate Africa’s innovation and share success stories
2. Specify benefits of migration to increase political will for mart migration policies 
3. Boosting tourism within the south and targeting visitors within the south. Give the people in the 
        south reason to invest in activities that appreciate nature in the south, in this case, Africa. That 
        would generate additional revenue for the countries

4. Putting in place an ecosystem for the youth to thrive

5. We also know for a fact that the diaspora is positioned to play a critical role in providing 
       solutions for south- south cooperation and migration. In a previous episode, I also mentioned that 
       reports indicate that immigrants from the continent of Africa to the United States are highly
       educated and contribute significantly to academic research, though many are under-employed.  
      These immigrants can easily be engaged for consultation, strategic planning and networking

Vivian Kobusingye Birchall

US Relations with Burkina Faso and Cabo Verde

Interview with Ms. Maria G. Martinez- U.S Department of State

Ms. Maria G. Martinez (left) - Department of State and Ms. Vivian Birchall (right) - Producer and Host, Africa2U at Acton TV

2018 marks two hundred years since the U.S. opened its first consulate in Sub-Saharan Africa in Cabo Verde, then a Portuguese colony. Ms. Maria Martinez from the Department of State-Bureau of African Affairs represented the Department of State at the celebratory event in Quincy, Massachusetts. 

Ms. Martinez was also hosted on Africa2u, in an interview about the United States’ bilateral relations with Burkina Faso and Cabo Verde, the African Growth Opportunity Act,  (AGOA) and Millenium Challenge Corporation programs. She also discussed how the African diaspora can engage in Africa’s development processes and programs.

She joined the State Department as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2015, was a political-military officer at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and served as a desk officer for Qatar and for Nigeria.  She is currently the desk officer for two African countries - Burkina Faso and Cabo Verde.

Prior to joining the State Department, Ms. Martinez served in the United States Marine Corps for 13 years, during which she was stationed in Okinawa, California and Virginia, and deployed to Australia, Thailand and South Korea to support bilateral military exercises.

She holds dual Bachelor’s Degrees in International Security and Conflict Resolution and Islamic and Arabic Studies, and a Master’s Degree in U.S. Foreign Affairs.

Watch Interview
During the interview, Ms. Martinez mentioned cooperation areas and goals for the U.S. and Cabo Verde today, include promoting economic growth driven by the private sector. Cabo Verde has completed two Millenium Challenge Corporation compacts with the United States – the first country to do so – and the US government is promoting American business investment in the country.
The first compact signed in 2005 with approximately $110 million focused on expanding the port of Praia located in the southern part of the Island of Santiago, and building bridges and roads to promote internal integration of Cabo Verde’s markets and reduce transportation costs. The second compact, signed in 2012, focused on water, sanitation and land registration sectors, and promoting private investments.

The United States government is also working with Cabo Verde to strengthen its maritime security capabilities. The Department of Defense and Coast Guard conducted joint military training exercises with security forces, and provided 10 harbor patrol boats, which have already been used for rescue missions between islands.

Ms. Martinez also discussed the G5 Sahel regional cooperation framework, which includes Burkina Faso along with Chad, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania, the framework’s role in protecting the Sahel region from extremists, and how the United States has helped with this process.
She highlighted a joint force established by the G5 Sahel in February 2017, focused on counter terrorism operations. The United States announced $60 million in support in 2017, and has contributed a total of $110 million in bilateral security assistance to the joint force thus far, with the number expected to grow depending on specific country needs. The US government will provide $46 million to Burkina Faso in bilateral security assistance, including vehicles, training, and protective equipment.

Burkina Faso has completed one Millenium Challenge Corporation compact.  A second compact is being developed, which will focus on the energy sector and human capital development to address energy quality, access to energy, and workforce development. 
Both Cabo Verde and Burkina Faso are eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA. Ms. Martinez noted that it has been difficult for these countries to maximize the benefits, and that USAID’s Africa trade hubs can help develop strategies for maximizing benefits.

Ms. Martinez also offered guidance on the African Diaspora’s search for ways to partner with governments, non-profit organizations and businesses to contribute to the development of Africa, including Cape Verde and Burkina Faso in particular. She highlighted private investment in energy development, targeting collective remittances to specific projects, and working with the State Department and Embassies to identify available investment and loan opportunities.
Describing upcoming US policy on Africa, she noted that the President recently signed into law the BUILD Act, which consolidates the capabilities of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and USAID’s Development Credit Authority into the new US International Development Finance Corporation, with $60 billion in assets.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee convened a hearing on US Policy in Africa on December 12, 2018, including testimony from the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and National Security Advisor John Bolton will present the policy in remarks at the Heritage Foundation on December 13, 2018.

Of course, it remains how successfully the new programs can propel the growth of low-income and lower-middle income countries, in which large numbers of rural poor still practice subsistence agriculture and have few ties to western economic systems.

Lunch at Asmara restaurant with diaspora, convened by Africans in Boston, in Massachusetts

Implementing the Global Compact for Migration through South-South Cooperation

Image: IOM
I recently participated as a presenter and panelist at a side event to the Global South-South Development Expo, which took place between 27 and 30 November at United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York.

The informal dialogue was convened by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Office to the United Nations, as a contribution to the preparatory process of the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 20 to 22 March 2019. The outcomes will inform the upcoming UN conference to adopt the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration (Global Compact). It is intended to offer UN Member States and other stakeholders an opportunity to discuss the benefits of South-South and triangular cooperation in promoting better migration governance.

According to the IOM, the dynamics of South-South migration, and especially intra-regional migration, necessitate new and expanded forms of partnership between developing countries. Migration trends in the global South require further investigation and policy attention, given the challenges they pose for migrants and communities and the potential benefits these evolving trends may hold for development. At the same time, countries in the global South are increasingly generating their own best practices and knowledge to address sustainable development challenges. Exploring how to build upon those practices to promote better migration governance should be part of the discussion.

A summary of discussions was produced as a contribution to the broader Expo outcomes and other intergovernmental discussions on South-South cooperation.

Details of my presentation

The South-South migration trend is characterized by people from very poor economies moving to emerging economies triggered by conflict (as refugees), search for better economic and employment opportunities, for school and sometimes in hopes of experiencing lifestyles they have only seen in the media or movies.

I was asked to share my experience working with the African diaspora in New England, and to highlight the contributions the diaspora community has made to home countries, as well as ideas for countries to work with their citizens living overseas to improve development at home.

Today, moving between countries in the south is easier for individuals with passports from the north than for those with passports from countries in the south. Changing the trajectory of migration from South-North to South-South can be encouraged and realized in part by improving mobility within the south. In Africa, this could entail revisiting the visa policies of different countries and working toward standardization of documentation, as well as improving infrastructure and getting rid of unnecessary customs, taxes, and tariffs. 

As diaspora, we have the privilege of being removed from the day-to-day challenges in Africa such as access to electricity, modern health care and other basic needs, and the internet. This places us in a strategic position to do amazing things with technology that can be shared with the continent. We also have the capacity for high-tech, bio-tech, finance, and other infrastructure development for the advancement of poor and emerging economies.

In the African way of life, families are still deeply dependent on each other socially, economically and in other ways.  This historical trend makes the diaspora a critical resource. Migrants maintain connections to their home countries, and send remittances to improve the ways of life of the people back home. These remittances make up a meaningful percentage of their home countries’ income.

According to the World Bank, remittances are the second-largest source of foreign inflows into Africa, after Foreign Direct Investment.  Averaged across all of Africa, remittances account for a few percent of domestic GDP, but the percentage is higher in some countries.  In 2017, Africa registered almost $40 billion in “formal” remittances, and more than 25% of Liberia’s GDP came from remittances.

In my experience with Africans in Boston, I have found that the diaspora is not only hungry to send remittances, but also to contribute to improving the economic and political governance of Africa, and is looking for entry points into building partnerships with corporate, political and social structures on the continent.  This year, we have moved beyond providing a platform for the diaspora to build partnerships and social and economic networks and strengthen the socio-economic status of Africans in New England, and established a working relationship and partnership with the African Union Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao.

We engage in dialogue with the Ambassador about the different ways we can contribute to Africa.  As a result of these conversations, Africans in Boston is exploring the creation of a Diaspora financial entity in New England, which would serve the diaspora in the region, and also be one of many avenues for investing in Africa, in the future.

In addition, we have created a “book of list,” which is a database of Afro-owned or Afro-themed businesses, both to take inventory of the African businesses in the area, and to be in a strategic position to mobilize capacity for future projects in Africa.  The diaspora has the capacity to fill gaps that many countries in the South face, sensitizing communities in the south to support each other, to not only reduce “brain drain,” but also help build poor and emerging economies.

We recognize, though, that our influence as professionals is modest and must be leveraged using the right tools to have an impact.  If the influence of a professional, teacher, innovator or doctor is a five out of ten, I might rate the influence of a celebrity or professional athlete in the diaspora at nine out of ten.  Engaging influential figures the public looks up to can help mobilize both the diaspora and communities in Africa to create structures and infrastructure, advance the agenda for encouraging south-south migration, and create financial entities that would be a stepping stone for contributing to the development of the South.

What the diaspora can do, given the tools

  • Create financial entities to fund development projects in the South
  • Build universities in the rural regions, electrical power infrastructure,  television and radio   networks and sports to help transform these rural regions into mini cities with a full eco-system of their own.
  • Mobilize expertize to meet specific needs in the south, through creating a “Book of list” of diaspora businesses, professionals and organizations
  • Develop local eco-systems in the south with capacity comparable to those in the North for education, health care, technology, et cetera so that countries in the south can tap into these local eco-systems
  • Innovations and creations that utilize existing local resources to promote local capacity
  • Identify people and places in Africa with projects that the diaspora could help facilitate, equip with the necessary tools, and help succeed.
  • Create jobs and opportunities in the far remote villages that would reduce the need for people to migrate in search of economic opportunities.
  • Serve as advisors and consultants to governments and organizations trying to achieve good governance of South-South migration.
  • Work with organizations that facilitate South-South Migration as advisors
  • Build call centers in the south in partnership with governments, to create communication hubs
  • Create positive images of Africa, to help young media consumers feel proud and comfortable about where they live, to prevent peer-pressure triggers for South-North migration.
  • Speak well to the development of Africa, because the power of the spoken word and the power of the mind determine what one does.
To conclude, South-South migration, facilitated by the cooperation between developing countries will be realized by not only creating structures and policies that provide an environment for developing countries to help each other with knowledge, technical assistance, and/or investments, but also by the South, specifically Africa, tapping into its diaspora for professional advice, technical assistance and building partnerships with the north.

Vivian Kobusingye Birchall

Africa's Economic Systems Over Time

Africa’s indigenous economic systems have influenced the current economic models on the continent.

Beyond the image of mud huts and subsistence agriculture, ancient African Kingdoms had economic structures that supported economic activities, before they were overwhelmed by foreign entities. These indigenous institutions and systems served to protect the social, economic and political interests of the people.

The economic systems were characterized by self-reliance and built capacity for self-sustaining development, encouraged broad participation by the communities and consensual decision making, also known as inclusive planning. Social values, rather than formal rules and sanctions, worked to prevent conflict of interest in the socio-economic and political set up of these communities.

Niger-Sahara Medievel routes- Wikipedia
Let us explore how production was organized, goods exchanged and distributed, how the natives obtained finance, and what role the chiefs or native governments played in the economy, and what indigenous technologies were applied.

Historically, these communities and kingdoms were decentralized into chiefdoms. Chiefs operated as custodians of customary law and communal assets, especially land. They dispensed justice, resolved conflicts and enforced contracts. They also served as guardians and symbols of cultural values and practices. They created local markets, and  developed extensive trade routes between villages and kingdoms, including navigating rivers and constructing sea ports. 

The communities engaged in quite a wide variety of economic activities utilizing Africa’s robust natural resources and created an environmentally conscious marketplace that preserved culture, promoting a healthy population through high quality agriculture, food security and social protection. 

While reviewing the indigenous practices of the people of Africa, we learn that early civilization in Africa gave birth to not only passing on traditional survival skills such as the ability to produce food in deserts and scrublands, but also new and innovative ways of increasing productivity and some of these innovations include hydraulic engineering which was used to irrigate crops, iron smelting to make iron tools, and excavation of minerals such as gold, that were used as a form of currency.

Speaking of gold, Emperor Musa the first of the Mali Empire, also known as Mansa Musa, made a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 along with thousands of his people and tens of thousands of pounds of gold, some of which he gave as charitable donations in Cairo, Medina and Mecca. Mansa Musa gave away so much gold during his famous hajj that it caused inflation and depressed gold prices in the region for years, but in doing so, he also gave visibility to Mali. It is said that his lavish spending led to Mali appearing on the map of the world in 1339.  Mansa Musa also created the city of Timbuktu, a strategic city along the trans Saharan trade routes.

King Jaja of Opobo

In what is now Nigeria, King Jaja of  Opobo was a merchant prince who showed high aptitude for business from an early age. In his prime years, the European “Scramble for Africa” took place, and his kingdom was part of the territories allocated to Great Britain.  It is said Jaja refused to accept British rule, levying duties on British traders and going so far as to shut down trade on the Imo river until one British firm agreed to pay duties.  His rule ended when he was lured into a meeting aboard a British warship, where he was arrested and taken to Accra for trial, found guilty of treaty-breaking and blocking trade, and exiled to the West Indies.

Africa’s abundant natural resources, and the indigenous markets and trade networks developed to exchange them, were among the factors that attracted colonial empires from Europe, eager to assume control of trade. As a result, the economic and political control of indigenous leaders was weakened. 

During the era of colonialism, local production was disrupted, as people feared working on the farms, going fishing or working on industrial processes for fear of being captured and taken as slaves. The economy in the region evolved, with cash crops emerging and taxation structured to serve the colonial regimes.

Communities that were destroyed by anti-colonization and anti-slavery rebellions were left with ruined economic structures including disrupted human resource capacity.  As a result, many post-independence governments inherited fractured communities and tried to create alliances by strategically appointing key tribal representatives to administrative structures. Lingering trauma caused by the slave trade also slowed the process of rebuilding these communities.
The president of the Republic of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni with the King of Buganda,Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi
Today, many African countries are still striving to create macroeconomic frameworks that support sustainable development, including inflation control, increased access to credit, fiscal decentralization, and promotion of investment and gains in productivity and marketing of agricultural produce.  They have also created regional economic integration arrangements such as the East African Community, the Southern African Development Community, the Economic Community of West African States and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

African leaders have been called upon to rethink current economic models in a much more comprehensive way during planning, so as to respond to critical challenges that emanate from the new economic reality of a capitalist system in a largely communal society.

NGO Forum, in its submission “Unlocking Uganda’s Development Potential”, notes that policies based on theories and models of purely self-interested “rational actors” are undermining, overwriting and displacing pre-existing norms, values, attitudes and practices among African populations.  This cultural dimension of rapid neo-liberal reforms has negatively affected the previously reciprocal and cooperative relationships and trade practices between smallholder farmers and traders in rural markets.

That said, some leaders in Africa recognize the resilience of the indigenous institutions and practices and have incorporated these structures into their modern governance structures. 

I will end with a quote by the Republic of Guinea’s Dr. Ousmane Dore, an economist with the African Development Bank:

“when policy neglects history, culture, and social context, huge amounts of effort and resources can be wasted on poorly conceived initiatives.”

Vivian Kobusingye Birchall