Spontaneous combustion Right education the key
Ambassador Charles Stith, your guest columnist, is absolutely right (‘How to contain spontaneous combustions’, African Business, May 2011 issue). When Ambassador Stith writes that leaders “must establish a new set of moral moorings if their countries are to be anchored”, he makes a powerful point.
He touches on precisely why populations rise up and overthrow their rulers. When people’s lives become increasingly impoverished and devoid of hope, and leaders corrupt and insulated from their people’s daily reality, social combustion is bound to flare up.
Ignoring the rights of young people to have meaningful employment is a recipe for conflagration.
It is the lack of meaningful employment opportunities that inspires youth to rise up against venal, tyrannical leaders. Yet there is another aspect to this question. There has been a headlong rush to stimulate education across Africa, but little thought as to how young people are to find work after attaining their academic qualifications.
I believe there is a valid argument that, in many cases, Africa’s educational system does not suit local requirements. What is the point of thousands of university graduates when there are only a few hundred situations vacant for them? Should we not put a stronger emphasis on training for practical vocational skills that will allow young adults to establish small business enterprises?
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mar Blay Douala, Cameroon
It would also useful to allow people to respond to the proceedings, making use of new media such as Twitter or email to ask their questions and voice their opinions. We all know the huge role that new media had in the Arab Spring uprisings in the north of our continent. Let’s take that model forward and begin a objective dialogue with our business and political leaders.
Kenneth Schmidt Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Management and product Get your priorities straight Much as the review of Fully Charged was interesting and entertaining, (Book review, African Business, May 2010 issue), I take issue with the premise that it is management that is the secret of a company’s success when it seems clear that the quality of the product or service that a company offers to its marketplace is even more crucial. This fact is often overlooked or even ignored by management theorists, and this is a very dangerous practice.
WEF – on Africa, on line? A digital age beckons Thank you for the World Economic Forum on Africa preview (‘Translating vision into action’, African Business, May 2011 is- sue). It was very revealing in terms of the thinking behind it, but I have one question for the organisers. Could you not run a live stream on the internet to allow a far greater audience of ordinary Africans to participate?
It does not matter how excellent a manager is: unless he or she has a product or service that is in demand, it matters not one jot whether the workplace or office energy is positive or not. That is not to say that positive energy is never a factor in determining the quality of a product, but that is another story completely. It is appropriate to quote the old saying: “You can’t make a silk purse from a pig’s ear.”
A rose is a rose is a rose Taxes, and avoidance
I was somewhat surprised at the tone of Valerie Noury’s article (‘Kenya’s cut-flower tax swindle’, African Business, May 2011 issue). It is common knowledge that the avoidance of tax by companies operating in Africa is very widespread. To report a major company that does not avoid tax would be a lot more surprising.
The fact is that the multinationals have teams of accountants to seek out legal loopholes in order to lower their clients’ tax bills. Note that we are talking about avoidance, not evasion. The difference? It is said to be the width of a prison wall as the former is, although unethical, absolutely legal while the later is absolutely illegal.
When you have companies that can massage their balance sheets, export their profits offshore and outwit the tax authorities, national treasuries are the losers, but the finance ministries of many countries lack the resources and manpower to counter this. It is just possible that by naming and shaming the worst culprits, Africa’s media can play its part by informing public opinion and forcing errant companies to mend their ways, or risk a consumer backlash and boycott.
ana N’Simba Freetown, Sierra Leone
African Business | June 2011