By +Caroline Anande Uliwa @CarolAnande-Instagram @CarolAnande-Facebook @CarolAnande-Twitter
It wasn’t just the glamorous African fabrics glittering off their skin in striking colours that unified these ladies. There was something else, a fire that lit their sternums urging them to share the best of their knowledge, so as to drive a movement for the betterment of the continent.
“The products which are coming from our soil, the fruits of our own sweat they have to be transformed here… Even food, we are at a point in this continent where we’re spending billions to import food! Women have a role in changing this, they don’t have to sweat like my mother, use technology get industrialisation, to deduce small machinery to cultivate without sweating that much…”—Mme Graca Machel on the first day of the ‘Women Advancing Africa-WAA’ forum, that held it’s first annual conference inside the Hyatt Hotel in Dar es Salaam, from the 9th to the 12th last month.
Organised by the Graca Machel Trust-GMT this new Pan African initiative WAA, looks to acknowledge and celebrate the critical role women play in shaping Africa’s future. “We’re meeting at a time where we can no longer afford, to ignore the intricate role of women in pushing for the development agenda…This platform provides us with yet another opportunity, to renew our collective efforts in identifying solutions and pitching new ideas. That will ensure everyone lives a life of dignity and isn’t left behind in the development bandwagon…” Hon Vice president of Tanzania Samia Suluhu speaking as guest of honour at the launch of the plenary sessions inside the WAA conference.
During the conference you would bump into amazing African women, like Andia Chakava- currently an Investment Consultant, back in 2009 she was the youngest female managing director in Kenya to run a non family owned business ‘Old Mutual Investment Group’. Where she was responsible for assets amounting to US$1 billion. Mme Getrude Mongela Tanzanian the former Secretary-General and Chair of the Beijing World Conference on Women and first President of the Pan-African Parliament.
|Among the speakers in the 'AgriBusiness track' with the CEO |
of Alaska Enterprises in Tanzania Jennifer Bash
(wearing a coral blue top with an ivory necklace)
Sheila Khama from Botswana, current Practice Manager-'energy and extractive industries global practice' at the World Bank, former CEO of De-Beers Botswana. Vice Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa; former Miss Tanzania and Managing Director of Enjipai a fashion accessories brand working with rural Maasai Women since 2010 Nasreen Karim. Hon Ummy Mwalimu, Minister of Health, Gender, Community Development, Children and the Elderly inTanzania and so many more.
Seeing these women at every turn though for just a few days, made you easily envision that African World. Where the corridors of power are lined with fair inclusion of women to the ratios of our population. Oh yes the ambience would be sweet.
Identified challenges facing women's advancement in Africa
|Hon Vice President Mme Samia Suluhu, presenting|
as the Guest of Honour to open the track sessions
that went on in this WAA forum
The plenary sessions were the crux of the conference lining captains of industry in various fields mostly women, who were divided into six main tracks that convened in small groups. Divided into agribusiness; energy, extractives and infrastructure; services and trade; technology; financial inclusion and media and creative industries.
In energy extractives & infrastructure
“The data is out now, that indicates how much capacity Africa has in terms of solar power. And with this technology we can work towards base load solar without necessarily worrying about storage…there aren’t that many women participating in this field, we have less than 3% women participating in the Energy space in Africa. We also have a funding issue even as you find women who are in engineering as in this room. It’s very difficult for us to be able to raise the funding to develop power projects because development is a risk…”—Elekanyani Ndlovu SA, speaking inside the energy, extractives & infrastructure track hailing as head of engineering and project management at Pele Energy Group in South Africa.
She highlighted how concentrated solar power-CSP, poses huge opportunities for energy solutions in Africa, yet with the gender gap in the implementation of this investment. Interlinked with the fact that women are the ones to greatly benefit from bridging the gap of over 600 million Africans, in Sub-Sahara who lack electricity. A fact her fellow speaker Adele Boadzo knew personally, from the unfortunate passing of her grandmother in Ghana due to a gas stove explosion. Which inspired her to start the company ‘Hope Rises Solar’; that works to bring solar power to the rural areas. It was understood clearly that recruiting & sustaining more women in this industry was key. <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FCarolAnande%2Fvideos%2F1438391306257462%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>
In financial Inclusion
|Far left Andia Chakavo next to one of the MC's for |
this forum Chidiogo Akunjili
“Unfortunately new data will be out later, so I am going to use the 2013 data. Financial inclusion in Tanzania has grown from 15% in 2009 to 58% in 2013 that is huge growth…You look at the formal banking in 2009 it was 9.2% in 2013 it only grew by 2% points…the growth is coming from the non-banking sector…”—Irene Mlola operations director at Financial Sector Deepening Tanzania-FSDT. This track was one hot bed of discussion. It was noted that the majority of women entrepreneurs on the continent still fall within the small holder farmer, vendor category. That they faced the challenge of collateral, battling with land ownership due to customs and or lack of financial literacy due to levels of education growing up.
That said it was also noted that there was a growing number of middle sized businesses that found bottlenecks in expanding their businesses, “Over 50% of 607 female entrepreneurs cited access to finance (31%) and access to markets (23%) as the two main challenges. The two biggest obstacles cited in accessing finance are collateral requirements and prohibitive interest rates.We found that out of the total 443 respondents that applied for a loan, just over a quarter (12) of them were successful”—Survey to explore growth barriers faced by female entrepreneurs in East Africa by the Graca machel Trust, Women in Finance network 2016.
In services & trade
|A photo with key members oppening the WAA confrence in DSM |
In cream suit Ambassador Dr Gemet Zewide,
Navy blue suit mme Graca Machel,
Red hijab Hon Samia Suluhu,
sitting with kitenge outfit Mmr Jacqueline Maleko,
In blue jacket Nomsa Daniels CEO GMT
Another key challenge identified came from the services & trade track which noted how lack of intra African trade, posed a lost opportunity for women economic welfare on the continent.
“I was surprised I went to Mauritius, they had lots of sugar in their food supplies. When I asked why they have so much, they said because some European countries are no longer buying sugar from cane, that they’re buying it from beet…you see only 10% African trade is Intra-trade.” —Seun Omobo, Technical Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria
In the technology track, first it was noted that awareness of what technology is for the majority of the population in Africa is low. It was noted here that technology is how to use the knowledge that you know to make something. “There’s a 300 billion USD deficit from the gender gap bridge in the tech industry in the world, how do we leverage this opportunity…”—Robin Miller Partner at Dalberg Development Partners
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Agenda's moving forward from WAA
Before long it was the final day of the conference, each of these tracks were given a mandate to formulate three key solutions, that they would present on the last day and oversee them going forward. The fire lit in the sternums of all participants fuelled by the passionate speeches of Mama Graca, as well as Dr Mongela and Dr Gennet Zewide (former Minister of Education in Ethiopia & Ambassador to India for Ethiopia). Was now ready to present the barbecue it had been roasting. <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F281148898967511%2Fvideos%2F379451039137296%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>
Energy Extractives & Infrastructure
“A gender procurement based corporate policy is one of our mainstream agenda, as a matter of fact currently at the World Bank, we have a call with a mining company to work with them in designing a gender sensitive policy…”—Sheila Khama in responding to the challenge of empowering women in extractive industries, so as to usher them from artisanal miners to small scale miners.
In this track Elekanyi Ndlovu also highlighted the proposed solution of starting a fund by women for women, in the energy infrastructure sector. It was noted here that lobbying for an African multinational project, that will procure women in this industry from all over the continent, will further strengthen the stakeholders in this field in pushing for women’s inclusion.
In the financial inclusion track“We foresee leveraging influence of the GMT to incite governors of each African country to commit to policy or strategies. That focus on women financial inclusion that aim to reduce by 50% the gender gap in access to finance by 2021. This will be championed by Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa and Dr Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula Dept Governor in the Bank of Zambia”—Maureen Kwilasa TZ, financial inclusion advisor-Southern Africa CARE
|Sisonke Msimang, writer and activist presenting|
at the WAA on'changing the narrative
women in the storytelling landscape of Africa'
Maureen further added as solutions in this track, a goal of ensuring that 30% of all grassroots savings collectives the likes of SACCOS. To use digital solutions this to be championed by Irene Mlola of FSDT, an apt candidate as her organisation is in the throws of a trial applying this method. That will formalise records of these grassroots finance collectives, without disrupting their social design.
It was also agreed in this track as a solution to create a ‘gender sensitive Pan African corporative investment fund’ following the success of the ‘stockvel’s' model in South Africa. As well the establishment of a disruptive platform where fintech, market access, backward and forward linkages, are provided to allow women entrepreneurs to sell their products to other women entrepreneurs all over the continent. Pulling government and financial stakeholders to bring financial literacy as a service to the platform. This track foresees opening this platform by December 2017 championed by Irene Kiwia of the Portia Novelli company in Tanzania.
These solutions inspired contributions from the audience like when Marjorie Crauss from APCO added “I would like to find a corporate sponsor for each one of the tracks, not to come in and takeover anything because this has got to be from Africa for Africa driving Africa. But to provide a little bit of funding, maybe some assistance, the use of their labs, their know-how’s. Things that can accelerate the process…so by this time next year Mama Machel we will have at least one sponsor for each of these tracks”
In the Agribusiness tracks it was noted that efforts should be made to diversify produce for sustainability of small holder farmers by moving into indigenous crops such as Cannabis, Moringa. Which have a big market and could bring big financial gains.
|At a side event inside WAA-looking at what activisim |
looks like for the young generation.
The middle four from right Dr Ruth Meena (Lecturer,
Activist member of TGNP), Dr Getrude Mongela,
Mme Graca Machel &
Ambassador Dr Gemet Zewide from Ethiopia
To which an audience member, the CEO of Bomgi Nutraceuticals in Uganda, Brian Holmes responded by highlighting a solution through his organisation. Which pays women farmers for 8 USD per kilo of Moringa Ocifera, which is almost three times the price offered by other companies. He shared that the Moringa they get from these farmers in Uganda is being used to create a nutrition supplement that will greatly assist patients living with HIV/AIDS and children with chronic malnutrition.
More concrete data will be published by the forum from the wealth of knowledge that was shared and generated at this forum. You can follow the conversation here https://www.facebook.com/Women-Advancing-Africa-WAA-281148898967511/
This conference was erected by the GMT in partnerships with APCO Worldwide, the UPS Foundation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Intel’s Girls & Women Commitment, American Tower Corporation, CNBC Africa & The Nation Media Group.
P.S. this article was first published by The East African Newspaper here http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/women-are-smallholder-farmers-petty-traders/2558-4078354-4lkqb1/index.html