Dalberg Hosts a Private Sector Week in Dar es Salaam Culminating in an Iftar Dinner for 150+ Business Leaders

As part of a Private Sector Week organized by the Dar es Salaam office, Dalberg, The Africa List and the CEO Roundtable hosted an Iftar dinner to celebrate Dalberg’s 10 years in Africa. The event kicked off a discussion on Tanzania’s future and the role that the private sector plays in building the economy while addressing issues that affect Tanzanians. More than 150 business leaders in Tanzania attended, representing a diverse range of sectors including finance and banking, telecoms, agribusiness and manufacturing.

Dalberg co-hosted the event with The Africa List and the CEO Roundtable. The Africa List is an invitation only private sector community that was set up with the belief that above all, the quality of leadership determines whether a company succeeds or fails. Currently active across five of Africa’s high growth countries – Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Uganda and DRC – The Africa List was created to bring together the leaders responsible for the continent’s next decade of growth. The CEO roundtable of Tanzania (CEOrt) was founded in 2000 by a small group of CEOs and is a policy forum dialogue that now brings together over 100 leading companies doing business in Tanzania. The main objective of the forum is to have a platform through which industry leaders within the Tanzanian private sector can constructively engage with government, its development partners, and other stakeholders with a view of creating a more conducive environment for business to prosper and for the country to develop.

Dalberg Dar es Salaam’s Founding Partner – Devang Vussonji kicked off the discussion with reflections on Dalberg’s work on the continent (and in Tanzania) over the past decade and on the importance of “Big Bets” for Tanzania that would address the needs of off-grid societies.

He reflected, “We have seen a few catalytic developments in Africa in the past decade that we have been on the continent: most prominent has been the telecom revolution that has allowed us to connect even the most remote consumers to a digital ecosystem. This revolution has enabled the off-grid energy revolution that has allowed us to develop energy products for the 64% of people in Tanzania – who are unable to access energy through traditional infrastructure. These consumers of off-grid energy are off-grid in many other ways. They don’t have access to full bank branches that allow them to access finance, or to supermarket chains that allow them to access affordable household products, or to schools and hospitals…all of which are very expensive to develop for remote populations. Everyone attending this event is trying to tackle solutions for these populations.”

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“Day 1” Philanthropy Done Right – An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos

By Rachna Saxena 

On June 15, 2017, Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, posted on Twitter a “request for ideas” for philanthropy. Rachna Saxena responds to his call for advice.

Dear Jeff –

Over the past 10 days, you have received over 40,000 messages with suggestions for your philanthropy strategy. Clearly, you have no shortage of ideas. However, the key to successful philanthropy lies not just in finding good ideas, but also in executing them well. Here are four recommendations for executing your strategy, incorporating the Day 1 principles that have made your businesses a success:

1)      Pick the right “right now” solution

While many solutions can help people “right now,” not all of these will achieve that elusive lasting impact. For instance, giving a meal to a malnourished child may diminish his hunger today, but he will still face malnutrition tomorrow. However, there are key inflection points in individuals’ lives during which a short-term solution can actually prevent long-term suffering, and thus have lasting impact. For instance, think about evictions caused by unexpected financial difficulties such as a medical emergency. When a family is evicted from its home, this can begin a downward spiral that makes it difficult to keep kids in school or hold down a job. The eviction affects credit scores, making it harder to receive financial support in the future. In addition, landlords are often reluctant to rent to individuals that have been evicted in the past.  But what if these families received small loans or grants to cover these emergencies and avoid eviction? A small-scale, seemingly short-term solution like a cash transfer, provided at a critical juncture, can actually bring about lasting impact for these families.

2)      Scale your impact by addressing structural challenges

And yet, while a solution such as a cash transfer can help an individual family, it is not enough. There are millions of renters facing eviction in the US; even if you provided a cash transfer to each one of them, it would not stop evictions from happening to others the next month. But what if you combined short-term interventions with additional solutions that addressed the underlying structural challenges? Creating financial management support services for at-risk households to help them prepare for unexpected expenditures, building more affordable housing, or offering legal support for renters in housing court could all address the structural drivers of eviction. By combining short-term interventions that have lasting impact on individuals with “longer-term” solutions that address these structural challenges, your impact can be amplified.

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Looking to the Past to Help Shape the Future of Work

By Diptesh Soni and Devang Vussonji

The debate around the future of jobs is a polarised one: on the one hand, there are the pessimists, who believe we should prepare now for a world of no work. On the other are the optimists, who see the current challenges within global labour markets as a mere blip in a long-term trend of growing prosperity and employment. But neither of these outcomes is predetermined, and neither perspective is entirely new.

Many of the changes we are seeing today have occurred in some way, shape, or form before. Previous periods of technological disruption have typically led to creative destruction (e.g. replacement of music cassettes by CDs and eventually by mp3 files), widespread job displacement, and reactive populist politics.

It was the responses of civil society, policymakers, and their market counterparts that shaped how we went from doom and gloom to labour market boom. And it will be the decisions of their contemporaries that shape the future of work in the coming decades.

Each era of mass disruption and displacement is different from the last. Today, change is happening on a grander scale, much faster than it ever has before.

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[Podcast] Discussion on Entrepreneurship to Celebrate a Decade of Dalberg in Africa

Is entrepreneurship going to create the mass-scale jobs we need, or should we give up the notion that those that have the most reason to be risk averse should be the ones leading the charge on risk loving new business ventures?

On Tuesday May 30, Dalberg hosted a discussion in Johannesburg centred around entrepreneurship in celebration of our 10th official anniversary on the African continent and the launch of the book 17 Big Bets for a Better World. A panel of business leaders and entrepreneurs – including Ashish Thakkar of the Mara Group; Thema Baloyi of Discovery Insure; Pavlo Phitidis of Aurik Investment Holdings; Maryana Iskander of Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator; Samuel Mensah of Kisua; James Mwangi of Dalberg –  discussed the role of entrepreneurship in driving inclusive growth.

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[Podcast] Nneka Eze on Catalyzing Growth in Nigeria Through Regional Innovation Hubs

In a World Bank podcast, Nneka Eze, Partner and Lagos Office Director, discusses a recent project Dalberg worked on with the Office of the Vice-President of Nigeria to understand the state of innovation in the country, and the potential of innovation hubs. From analysis of global innovation hubs, Nneka explains that there are seven different types of innovation hubs – ranging from science and technology parks, to accelerators, and research centres – and four guiding principles that differentiate successful hubs.

When looking at Nigeria specifically, Nneka explains that while innovation hubs should play a critical role in building the innovation ecosystem, significant gaps still exist around infrastructure, policy, and financing. These gaps must be addressed to unlock the full potential of entrepreneurs and innovators in the country.

Listen to the podcast.

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Vanishing Vaquita: Saving the World’s Most Endangered Marine Mammal

By Simon Allan and Ellie Marsh

A little known marine mammal found in northwest Mexico has been gaining global press attention for weeks now – and for good reason. The vaquita – a small porpoise known as the “panda of the sea” due to the distinctive black circles around its eyes – is on the verge of extinction. With less than 30 vaquitas left in the wild, a new Dalberg authored report for WWF finds that the vaquita could become extinct by the middle of 2018, without immediate action to curb illegal fishing and wildlife trafficking.

The vaquita population has been decimated in recent years, falling by 90% since 2011. The vaquitas’ decline has been accelerated by the world’s growing demand for fish which has led to increased use of gillnets, among other unsustainable and often illegal fishing practices. Gillnets, which are hung vertically in the sea to catch fish by their gills, have been adopted by fishers to increase their catch size. But gillnets and associated practices hugely increase the unintentional bycatch of other species. In particular, the vaquita has been a bycatch victim of illegal fishing for totoaba – a fish whose swim bladder is highly prized in Asian markets not only for traditional medicine but also as a Chinese delicacy. Despite gillnets being temporarily banned in Mexico in 2015, the decline of the vaquita has continued due to illegal fishing.

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New Report: Decentralised Renewable Energy is Important for Improving Access to Power, But Policy Gaps and Challenges Impede Growth

Governments globally realize the social and economic benefits of providing reliable and affordable power to their citizens and businesses. Over the past few years, many countries have announced ambitious electrification goals: India and Nigeria plan to reach universal electrification by 2019 and 2030 respectively. However, a new study authored by Dalberg shows that these goals are challenged by the financial, political, and institutional reality on the ground.

The study detailing the challenges – and opportunities – the governments of India, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda face as they seek to increase access to electricity through off-grid energy solutions.

Off-grid technology has emerged as important avenue for improving access to electricity over the past decade. Although off-grid energy solutions are being supported by the governments of all four countries, key policy gaps and challenges are impeding the rapid growth of the sector. The study found that despite the differences between the countries, policy-makers share common concerns around off-grid energy. These four concerns must be addressed to unlock the full potential of the sector:

1. Understanding the economics and viability of off-grid energy solutions

2. Politics and challenges between state and local level policy implementation

3. Capacity constraints within the government

4. Access to requisite data for planning

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Looking Beyond Off-Grid Energy to a Holistic Approach to Off-Grid Societies

By Ciku Kimeria

Reflections on The World Economic Forum on Africa

Under the theme “Achieving Inclusive Growth Through Responsive and Responsible Leadership”, a thousand global leaders from the private and public sector who are helping to shape the continent’s future gathered in Durban this past week for The World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa. Discussions ranged from ending famine, to addressing the problems of apartheid in South Africa, and highlighting innovations that are transforming people’s lives across the continent. One such innovation that took center stage was off-grid and decentralized energy solutions.

This year, Dalberg hosted two events on “off-grid societies”. These events, part of an ongoing series celebrating 10 years of Dalberg on the continent, were a chance to shape discussions on solutions for off-grid societies.

“Off-grid” – as the term is commonly used – refers to the over a quarter of the world’s population who are unable to access to energy through traditional infrastructure. In sub-Saharan Africa, 65% of the population has no access to electricity. While access to reliable electricity is crucial to unlocking economic opportunities, it is vital that we holistically consider the lack of infrastructure that limits these communities from reaching their full potential. Dalberg is helping define a new concept on “off-grid societies” that looks beyond energy access, and instead focuses on societies that do not have access to 20th century infrastructure, such as roads, bank branches, hospitals, and schools.

Finding solutions to reach these unconnected populations is extremely important if we are to achieve truly inclusive growth. Current efforts to create infrastructure to reach off-grid societies continue to lag behind population growth. For example, even with increasing investments in renewable energy, the International Energy Agency estimates that the creation of mini-grids can at best supply electricity for about 40% of the world’s un-electrified population. Creating effective solutions for off-grid societies often require us to devise new business models and leapfrog technologies that require formal infrastructure, such as phone networks or roads, to function.

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Arming Suicide Helplines to Better Combat India’s Mental Health Crisis

By Kapil Kanungo, Kishan Shah, Kashish Saluja, and Gaurav Gupta 

In 2014, nearly 131,000 people committed suicide in India. This number continues to grow each year, with India accounting for about 30% of all suicide deaths in the world. For young people aged 10-24 suicide is the single leading cause of death. With 60,000 deaths in the 15-24 age group, more young people in India die from self-harm, than from road accidents or tuberculosis. Compare this to China, where self-harm takes 11,000 young lives every year.

By decriminalising suicide and establishing the right to quality mental health care, the Mental Health Bill 2016 is a welcome step for those facing mental health issues and for those trying to provide help. According to Amrit Kumar from Thanal, a crisis and suicide helpline based in Calicut, “Stigma associated with suicides, coupled with its initial criminalisation discourages many people to reach out for help, but with the new law, there is hope that more people will contact the helplines.” While the new law is a first step in reducing stigma, and emphasising mental health care, in parallel there needs to be greater investment in India’s mental health infrastructure to make accessible and quality care a reality. As both a system for first response and last resort, suicide helplines are a critical part of this overall infrastructure.

Our study on global best practices in suicide prevention helplines has shown several positive cost-effective developments that have enhanced their functioning. In particular, there are four key enablers that, when adopted, could have a transformative effect on suicide helplines.

Read the full article on The Huffington Post.

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Making the Digital Economy More Inclusive

By Diptesh Soni 

Across the world, there is an inescapable sense that the machines are coming, and they’re going to take our jobs. This fear is not new. From the cotton gin, to the tractor, to the assembly line and beyond, jobs have faced and will continue to face threats from technological advances.

But throughout these disruptions, large-scale unemployment has typically been avoided: either machines could not do many of the innately human things people could do, or technology so drastically brought down costs that new markets were unlocked, in turn requiring more workers to serve new customers. Today, both these factors are playing out across sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa commands a meagre 1.5% share of the world’s total manufacturing output, and the low number of jobs available in manufacturing is, in part, leading to the growth of service-based employment. Technology is rapidly reducing the cost of serving consumers across industries as diverse as financial services, transportation, and hospitality – and is allowing products and services that were traditionally only accessed by the privileged few to reach a wide pool of new customers.

Greater internet and mobile penetration, the development of online market places, and changes in user and consumer behaviour are creating technology-enabled business models across the continent. It is precisely at this juncture that technology can be used to create job opportunities for Africa’s burgeoning youth population.

Read the full article on African Business Magazine.

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