What Sepp Blatter and I understand about FIFA

When the corruption scandal broke, I was initially shocked that the derited States was prosecuting and the first thoughts on mind were akin to Imperialism (please read through before you judge).

I didn’t really pay much attention except to count how many times Loretta Lynch and her henchmen repeated “soccer, soccer…” at some point, it sounded like “sucker.” It was okay for me, but I could imagine watching in Nigeria and other parts of the world and wanting to tell them “no, it’s football”!

Anyway, when the facts came out, I realized that the U.S. had jurisdiction etc. And, who better to probe corruption – especially in a body like FIFA – than the U.S.? In spite of her “deflategate,” multiple steroidal Olympians, and Mayweatherisms, the U.S. is still better than most parts of the world corruption-wise. It’s like a whirlwind compared to a tornado. So I was glad that the U.S. was prosecuting, but my thoughts still lingered.

Now it is a fact that all the countries that have won the World Cup since inception have hosted it before (I realized this in the last decade when deliberations were going on about an African World Cup).

Of course, these two may not be related but I know that when you get to those heights, where preparation and talent are only basic requirements, several other factors come into play – confidence, psyche, fan clubs, referee united, winning mentality, limbs of God etc. And if you know what I know, you’ll understand that any advantage is an advantage.

So was I expectant and happy when South Africa got the nod? Of course! And to prove my point, it would have been the best outing of any African country to date except for the intervention of the Mike Tyson of football. There are several other examples to support my hypothesis (e.g. Japan/South Korea – 2002, etc.).

Why the Youth Unemployment Crisis in Ghana is a Global Challenge

By Jeph Acheampong, ZNews Africa Contributor

In a bid to escape the awkward silences at a friend’s birthday dinner, a plethora of topics was consistently juggled in the span of two hours. However, the one topic that sparked the most excitement for me was Uber’s penetration in the African market. This meant I wouldn’t be quoted an out-of-range price by taxi drivers once they hear my “non-Ghanaian” accent or wouldn’t have to bargain with multiple taxi drivers before gauging the actual estimated cost of a trip.

In July 2017, I had arrived in Ghana hopping from one venue to the next. My goal was to connect with as many people as possible and yet had somehow forgotten all about Uber’s expansion. Only two days in, my physical cash was quickly depleting from transportation costs alone.

There’s a Warren Buffett rule I have always abided by; “rule #1: Don’t lose money and rule #2: Never forget rule #1.” It didn’t take long for Uber to come to mind.

Now let’s divert slightly. According to the segmented labor market theory, there exists a primary labor market (high-skilled), and a secondary labor market (low-skilled). Most well-educated young adults from Ghana who find it difficult to secure a career obtain a visa from a family member or friend and migrate abroad to find employment.

According to Quartz, Ghanaian citizens are the world’s leading applicants for US green cards with around 7% of Ghana’s 27 million populations applying to win the US visa lottery in 2015.

Since a college degree from most African countries does not hold much weight in most countries abroad, young Africans work in the secondary labor market in industries such as retail and fast food restaurants. All the while, they balance these long working hours while paying to attend late-night classes for the purposes of securing job placement in an industry of interest.

Uber is an ephemeral solution for many young adults who are striving to migrate as a result of the high unemployment rate. However, it also comes with challenges. In Lagos-Nigeria, for example, Uber drivers went on strike in April 2017 after fares were slashed by 40%. Drivers responded by asking passengers to take the trip offline so that it would appear as if the ride was canceled and Uber will not be collecting any commission from the cash payment the driver would receive. (Source: Quartz)

Based on observations as such, the youth unemployment crisis has commonly been attributed to bad attitude and a lack of professional etiquette by most. In fact, Kusi Consulting – a Ghanaian consulting and service providing company, assisting businesses to gain a competitive advantage in their respective industry – recently shared a very solid infographic which confirmed and highlighted the two aforementioned attributions.

However, I also do believe the additional challenges contributing to the youth unemployment crisis in Ghana are even direr. Two of these challenges can be categorized as;

Lack of Preparation for Employment:

Students in many colleges and universities throughout Ghana are being primed solely for scholarly development. The lack of focus on students’ development of technical skills and real-world experience means that many students graduate ill-prepared to meet the demands of the labor market.

This is similar to the educational system in the United States where a student may excel academically yet find it difficult to secure a job post-graduation due to the lack of sufficient career development opportunities available to him/her throughout his/her undergraduate career.

While this reality confronts a host of young adults in Ghana, those from low-income families are impacted most, as they do not have the same opportunity to procure additional education and training abroad like their wealthier counterparts. So long as schools continue to lack a focus on career development, students will continue to struggle to make themselves marketable and employable.

Obsolescence of Native Workers in the Job Market:

In Ghana, there has been a recent influx of foreigners who invest in the abundance of resources ranging from infrastructure development, retail services, and agricultural production. Unfortunately, Ghanaians are unable to take part in their endeavors because of their limited knowledge and skill sets in comparison to their foreign counterparts.

Foreign investors have compensated for this by bringing thousands of their own laborers and businessmen; this group represents a new face of globalization in Africa. While foreigners are able to benefit from these emerging industries, young adults in Ghana still remain disadvantaged, with the unemployment rate at double for the 25-44 age demographic and triple for those aged 45-65.

Another reason for the high unemployment rate amongst young adults is the evolution of technology in Ghana. Many Ghanaians are now being replaced by equipment that performs quicker, better, and of utmost importance to stakeholders, at less cost. Unless one has a specialized skill in great demand, making a decent living proves extremely challenging.

Unfortunately, only a select few are openly discussing ways and processes to adequately address the rationale above. On every trip I partake in, I serve as an entrepreneurial tourist. This puts me in a position to connect with citizens and subconsciously do a ton of market research about the innovations currently occurring in the city or country. On this trip to Ghana, my conversation with Uber drivers was the better part of my entire experience.

In one particular conversation with an Uber driver (let’s assume his name is Peter), a summary of our conversation went as follows;

Peter was born and raised in Kumasi-Ghana, where he graduated honors three years ago with a concentration in Oil & Energy. Since graduation, he has lost count of the number of interviews he has been to. Thrilled to pacify my curiosity, Peter shared that the jobs exist, however; nepotism plays an integral role in deciding who would be employed after attaining a degree. As he said and I paraphrase, “there are last names in the Ghanaian system that will just never disappear. If you are born into a family with such name, you will encounter no or minimal financial challenges. However, if you aren’t in that position, it’s going to be very difficult to climb up the ladder of prosperity.” Frustrated after two years of searching, Peter enrolled in a Ghanaian University (name undisclosed) training program where he paid thousands of dollars for a certificate to garner skill sets ranging from fire safety, swimming, and teaching. Yet, still nothing. When Uber came into the picture, he then gave all hope in potentially securing employment and settled to be a driver. Through Uber, Peter makes on average 500 – 700 Ghana Cedis a month (~$110 – $160). After spending 150 Ghana Cedis (~$30) on rent, he scrapes to barely sustain himself.

Coincidentally (or not), three additional Uber drivers echoed Peter’s story. As a result, I invited them to Anansi Digital’s First Annual Social Gathering. None of them showed up.

This is when it all made sense. Every minute for the unemployed young adult counts as it determines whether she has enough money to sustain herself tomorrow. Secondly, a number of unemployed college graduates who have been out of school for at least a year have gone on to explore countless training programs without receiving job placement. Thirdly, they are just fed up.

During a 2015 service trip to Ghana to hold a youth diaspora initiative for orphans and neglected youth (picture to the left), I witnessed many hardworking young adults squander their talents at virtually no fault of their own. No matter how much they strived to change their situation, they inevitably succumbed to the forces of their environment — the single most damning factor is the lack of employment opportunities. Lack of clear choices, educational opportunities, and role models also have long-lasting negative effects on their careers and overall quality of life.

Frustrated by this reality, my impeccable team and I outlined ways to tackle the over 40% youth unemployment rate in Ghana. Backed by resources from the Clinton Foundation and New York University, our mission was (and still is) to launch a talent accelerator that equips recent college graduates with the skills and experience needed to secure employment in leading companies across Ghana. However, there was a slight hesitation then. Unlike most talent accelerators, we had no interest in launching a program that may disappoint our fellows in the long run.

This hesitation is what sparked the idea of organizing a social gathering where recent college graduates could cultivate genuine relationships with human resource professionals across Ghana. In turn, it also afforded us the opportunity to conduct a very solid market research amongst our target demographic and has better equipped us with palpable insights for our go-to-market strategy.

With limited time to plan, we successfully attracted over 60 recent college graduates and human resource professionals (at peak) to connect and to learn about the importance of digital marketing for African businesses.

Barbara Mettle-Olympio of B Branding Solutions has strategically categorized the importance of digital marketing for African Businesses into three points;

(1) Low barrier to entry – Traditional marketing activities can be expensive. Digital marketing is scalable and can be utilized to reach target audience,

(2)67% mobile penetration – Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to add more than 100 million unique subscribers to surpass a half billion mark by 2020, according to a report by the GSM Association, and

(3) Reach larger audience – Traditional marketing activities can be limited to a particular geographic area. With digital marketing, you can reach an international audience.

Our reputable speakers included Rita Kusi (CEO at Kusi Consulting & 360 Ghana), Barbara Mettle-Olympio (Founder/Director of Client Services at B Branding Solutions), Nana Boatemaa Amoah (Marketer/Blogger at, Jeffrey Opoku (Founder/CEO at Sidekick Social Media), Simon W. Alangde (Managing Partner/Co-Founder at Wineloya), and Prince Adu-Appiah (Founder & CEO of 1Billion Africa).

Aligning their respective presentations with our mission, their insights included the positive effects viral content can have on African businesses, the importance of cultivating an employable skill set outside class lectures, and the outstanding impact interning, volunteering, and/or networking has on potential job placement. From conversations had with our participants, it was also evident another critical challenge most new graduates face is an inability to express their skills and experience on their CV or resumes. We will cultivate partnerships to address this moving forward.

Since the social gathering, we have received a number of requests to organize a similar experience that explores a different theme. Such recommendation and feedback is not taken lightly however, we were even more thrilled to be informed about these following outcomes; A social entrepreneur in the recycling space secured an outstanding project opportunity at an elementary school

–A social entrepreneur in the recycling space secured an outstanding project opportunity at an elementary school

–One of our speakers extended an internship opportunity to the developers under the Tech2Orphans initiative. Tech2Orphans is a subset of 1Billion Africa that gives orphans 21st Century ICT and Coding Skills. This should be in operation by October this year (2017)

–A number of recent college graduates have directly inquired about ways to expand their skill sets in online marketing. A recommendation from one of the participants resulted in our newly formed Digital Services Awareness Facebook group. All are welcomeA number of the participants have gone on to create LinkedIn accounts and are eager to cultivate a strong personal and professional brand

–A number of the participants have gone on to create LinkedIn accounts and are eager to cultivate a strong personal and professional brand

–Our closing performer – who used Facebook Live as her digital marketing strategy – has secured another opportunity to perform at the opening of an even bigger social gathering!

Margaret Mead once shared, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” We – at Anansi Digital – may have no interest in changing Ghana or its economic landscape.

Yet we understand the unemployment crisis amongst Ghanaian youth is a global challenge, it’s our challenge. The African continent boasts 1.2 billion people of which 200 million are aged between 15 and 24. This makes Africa the continent with the youngest population in the world. Whether it be the mining industry, the agricultural sector, or the fashion industry, our African youth will play an integral role in its development. And whether we choose to see the indirect link or not, their success is our success too. Henceforth, just like a drop of water in the vastness of the ocean, we are confident our little contribution to the employment ecosystem will spark the human capital present to expand their skill sets and channel their inner potential to catapult the economic growth of our great nation, Ghana and ultimately, our continent Mama Africa.

***To be informed on our next social gathering, kindly share your email here. To learn more about our work, please send a note to personal email,

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Jeph Acheampong writes as a millennial voice on a wide range of topics including business, entrepreneurship, and philosophy. Jeph is a contributor for ZNews Africa, serves as founder of Anansi Digital and Head of Marketing at Esusu, which tackle the African youth unemployment and financial inclusion respectively. He is also extremely passionate about social entrepreneurship and its role in the development of the African continent.


From ‘South Africa to South Brooklyn’ Climate Change Affects Everyone

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

Written by ZNews Africa Staff

Imagine if you could provide financial resources to enthusiastic entrepreneurs in emerging markets, empower women and fight climate change all at the same time? This is the work of New York-based non-profit and social investment fund, Shared Interest.

The organization mobilizes the resources for Southern Africa’s economically disenfranchised communities to sustain themselves and build equitable nations. International investors and partners on the ground enable Shared Interest to provide collateral, unlock local capital, and build capacity for entrepreneurs in low-income communities.

“You hear many people say ‘save the planet,’ ‘save the planet,’ ‘save the planet.’ The good news I want to say to you is the planet is just fine. The planet does not need saving,” remarked South African global activist Kumi Naidoo. Naidoo is the incoming secretary general of Amnesty International and former executive director of Greenpeace International.

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 20: Incoming Amnesty International Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo accepts an award onstage during the Shared Interest 2018 Annual Spring Benefit at the Edison Ballroom on March 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Shared Interest)

“If we continue on the path that we are on… the end result will be we get the planet to the point where we do not have water. We don’t have soil and we cannot produce food. So let’s be very clear; If we continue on the path we are on, the end result is that we will be gone. The planet will still be here,” Naidoo emphasized.  

Climate change is of course not restricted to affecting Southern Africa. The problem is a global one.

“Whether you’re in South Africa or South Brooklyn, it’s the same challenge we all face,” urged Bill De Blasio, Mayor of New York City at a recent benefit hosted by the group.

The Mayor emphasized that the very real effects of climate change are not limited to particular geographic regions and can affect even the world’s most developed cities. “We in New York City got an extraordinary wake-up call when hurricane Sandy hit. It made climate change very personal for all of us. The worst natural disaster in the history of the city just five years ago,” he remarked.

“What Cape Town is going through now as the precious resource of water is slipping away, it’s a reminder that climate change is not a theory. It’s not abstract. It’s very personal for everyone who is affected by it.”

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio addresses a crowd at Shared Interest’s Annual Spring Benefit in Manhattan on March 20, 2018. (Photography by Eric Acquaye)

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Representative to the United Nations address the very personal issue this is for women. In a statement she declared, “All around the world communities are grappling with the reality of climate change and frequently it’s overburdened women left to run households feed their families and care for loved ones who also feel the brunt of climate change. This is especially true in developing countries.”

The reality is climate change is an issue of survival for human beings. The planet will restore itself, with or without us. As Naidoo points out, “Once we become extinct as a species the forest will recover. The oceans will regain their salt. So do not worry about saving the planet. Understand that the struggle we are engaged in here is to ensure humanity fashions a way to coexist with nature.”

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Sankofa: Investing in Africa in the Rising Era

Editor’s note: This is a recap of the 2016 Wharton in Africa Business Forum. If you’re interested in attending the 2017 event Nov 3-5, visit:

“I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me.” – First Prime Minister and President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah

Africa has been painted with a negative perception by many, which has created a distorted, one-dimensional view by individuals in the West. In multiple scenarios, members of the African diaspora sometimes partake in this deception, telling narratives that catapult negative stereotypes and in turn, harm the growth of the continent.

Africa has been perceived through a prism of disease, starvation, corruption, poverty, and war. Author Chimamanda Adichie coined this “a single story.”  Even after the celebration of more than 50 years of independence in most African countries, the manacles of ignorance and the portrayal of the media still sadly cripple the continent in the perspectives of many.

For myself, pursuing a westernized education was a driving force in shaping my identity as an African. It provided me with a macroscopic view of the continent and propelled me to comprehend the bottlenecks faced by generational leaders.

There is a popular word in Ghana called Sankofa, which loosely translates to “go back and get it.” Growing up, I never understood the potency of the word, but as I look back today, this word alone has imbued in my ethos a reasoning to not look past Africa as the ultimate destination to grow, harvest, and sell my crops.

This past weekend at the annual Wharton Africa Business Forum, the agenda was to explore the diverse business opportunities that lie in the intersection of the public, private, and social sectors across Africa. Throughout the conference, professionals exchanged ideas, pitched initiatives, and expressed both their excitement and frustration about the state of the continent. It was both awakening and inspiring.

As Richard Branson said, “Finding something frustrating and seeing an opportunity to make it better is what entrepreneurship is all about.” Based on Branson’s quote, it could be argued that almost every attendee present embodied an entrepreneurial drive and possessed a burning flame in their hearts to make a difference on the continent. However, the apparent roadblock seemed to be “How, when, and why do I even begin?”

The first keynote speaker, Ambassador Herman Cohen, President and CEO at Cohen and Woods International and Consultant on Africa at ContourGlobal, advised attendees to look at Africa as an investment destination as opposed to a humanitarian destination.

In her book – Dead Aid – Dr. Dambisa Moyo echoes this statement by making the case that overreliance on aid has stagnated the growth of developing nations by leaving these countries in poverty, leaving their leaders more dependent on aid, and funneling corruption.

According to the World Bank, there is a trillion dollars of African money not sitting in Africa. For this money to circulate the continent, it’s imperative members of the African diaspora put an end to exporting commodities and importing foreign goods. To fill the missing components in the enigma, Ambassador Cohen highlights the lack of technological advances and storage as the problem. For example, 40% of African food goes to waste due to lack of storage and innovative technologies to catapult its longevity.

Leading thinkers, such as Sangu Delle, have created more sustainable ways of growing the continent and produced more jobs through local investments. By investing in the agro processing company Stawi, the company has leveraged economies of scale to create value for people on the African continent. Stawi – like most successful businesses – was born out of frustration.

The founder, Eric Muthomi, noticed the over 400,000 banana farmers in Kenya who produced too many bananas, which eventually went to rot. He then decided to take the bananas and make banana based gluten-free flour and baby food. Today, Stawi foods are sold throughout the Kenyan market. But this is just one success story.

One third of food, beverages, and similar processed goods consumed in Africa is imported. This goes to show a plethora of problems go unsolved on the continent every single day, which creates an opportunity for working members of the African diaspora to play an integral role in enhancing the growth of the continent.

In most African countries, there has been a recent influx of foreigners – particularly from Asia – who gradually invest in the abundance of resources such as infrastructure and agriculture. Unfortunately, most Africans on the continent are unable to take part in their endeavors because of their limited knowledge and experiences in comparison to their Asian counterparts. Foreign investors have compensated for this disparity by bringing thousands of their own laborers and businessmen; this group represents a new face of globalization.

While foreigners are able to benefit from these emerging industries, members of the African diaspora still remain disadvantaged, with only 10% of trade occurring among Africans. However, on the fortunate end, independent court systems have been established to operate fairly in a number of African countries. Regional groups, such as The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have also made it simpler for Africans to trade among themselves.

All these practices contribute to making it simpler for commerce to exist between African nations, thus making it increasingly difficult for foreigners to sell cheaper to Africans. As Ambassador Cohen added,

“The key is not Foreign Direct Investment, the key is African Investment.”

Often times, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes may have the resources, skill-sets, determination, and commitment to succeed however; the missing ingredient boils down to capital. Keynote speaker Sacha Poignonnec, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Jumia, shares that finding the money to execute on an idea is not the hardest part of investing in Africa, the challenge is finding the right investors to hold the rope tight as you climb mountains.

Simply put, the worst thing an entrepreneur can do is to train an unseasoned investor about the continent. Poignonnec proposed for entrepreneurs to do their due diligence before committing to any capital, no matter the scenario. To emphasize this point, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Co-Founder of Andela and Flutterwave, believes that positioning yourself in the right circle makes funding inevitable. He added that investors are averse to risk-taking and unless an entrepreneur has the right track record or a Co-Founder with the experience to complement her skill-set, it is best not to approach an investor right away.

Different experts have varying opinions on the subject however; funding is not the most important hurdle. Poignonnec advised participants to have an idea that is relevant to the people. Often times, entrepreneurs looking to invest fail to conduct a thorough market research on the ground prior to execution. Having so much belief in an idea to the point where you fail to fully comprehend the problem is a setback for many.

Joe Gebbia, Co-founder of Airbnb, proposes “Enlightened Empathy” as the solution to this. According to Gebbia, “Enlightened Empathy is the process of seeing the world so closely in the shoes of the person you are creating for to the point where you see the world the way that they see it and you bring those insights back to the drawing board, combine it with your own design point of view, to create something new.” When channeling your ideas to fruition, Poignonnec encourages participants to strengthen the intersection between three things; talent, brain, and heart. Aboyeji, on the other hand, proposes that it’s best to burn bridges. He believes for an entrepreneur to have one leg in and another out will most likely result in two of many things: cash burn on flights and dwindling profits.

Fred Swaniker, Founder & CEO of the African Leadership Academy, also offered his perspective on the conversation. His formula is simple; pay early employees less than the salary received from their past occupations. This is the mark of true commitment. The recent trend of moving back to Africa has been closely associated with obligation. Swaniker challenges members of the African diaspora to move back not as a sense of obligation, but because it’s an opportunity of our lifetime. He also added,

“We, as black people, will never be fully respected until we have economic power. The reality is this happens in Africa.”

As you look into strengthening the economic pillars of Africa, a few of many sectors to consider include Agriculture, Power, and Payments. Today, approximately 60% of the African population is in the agricultural sector. However, the most talented individuals are leaning towards more conventional sectors for the sake of prestige. Although agriculture has been perceived through a dark lens for many years, the problem is the definition.

Agriculture is more than planting and cultivating, it is every little thing we touch. This includes the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the cement used in building our homes, et al. Power, on the other hand, has recently tickled the fancy of well-read African Millennials. However, there is still potential for growth because 5-10% of annual sales on the continent are lost from electricity outages in Angola, Egypt, and Nigeria. An increase in talents and investments are definitely needed in this sector to fuel enterprises to amass on the continent. As the continent grows and as power plants and innovative renewable energy products are prioritized, manufacturing of local goods will be prevalent.

As highlighted in “Lions on the move II,” McKinsey Global Institute’s widely acknowledged report on Africa’s economic prospects, anywhere between 6 million to 14 million stable jobs could be created through increased manufacturing output. In addition to that, there will be a $326 billion increase in annual revenue by 2025 possible for African manufacturers targeting domestic markets. To make trade between villages, cities, and countries as seamless as possible, Payments will play an integral role. Incredibly intelligent members of the African diaspora are creating some of the most powerful APIs to enable local vendors to accept payments, build, and scale their businesses across the continent. It is no wonder six of the fastest growing economies are currently in Sub- Saharan Africa.

“Lions on the move II” discusses that the continent will profit from rising global demand for natural resources; boast a consumer market of 128 million households by 2020; and see its labour force top 1 billion people by 2040. In addition to this analysis, it is important to keep in mind that investors love transformation. They want to get into spaces that are going through a major transformation from being seemingly horrible to being very powerful. Sankofa. But before that, ponder and you may realize the opportunity you may be overlooking.


Jephthah Acheampong is an Entrepreneur, Writer, and Storyteller based in New York. Equipped with a background in Economics, Jephthah writes as a millennial voice on social justice, women equality, and education. He currently serves as Director of Sales & Marketing at Esusu. Jephthah also founded Anansi Global, a non profit empowering youth in Ghana by providing quality education and mentorship.

View his work at or find him on Linkedin.

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Africa’s young entrepreneurs seek to inspire its leaders

Africa’s enterprising youth champion a new development model that will generate prosperity while fostering stability and promoting security. The ethos they embody may be the inspiration that challenges African leaders to re-discover the buccaneering zeal of their forebears who led the independence movement.

There was change in the air in the leafy suburbs of Ota, Ogun state in Nigeria a fortnight ago. The first cohort of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs Program gathered together to embark on one of the more exciting challenges of our times – an ‘entrepreneur-led development’ model that seeks to create sustainable businesses that will generate $10 billion in revenue and create a million jobs in Africa over the next decade, all the while addressing social issues that will foster stability and security.

I felt like a kid in a candy store listening to members of my cohort oozing with confidence and boundless energy as they begin their noble quests in using business to address pressing social issues. Some of the note worthy ventures being undertaken include ventures that deal with local issues such as waste management to the outright daring – using unmanned aircrafts to boost agricultural yields in the inhospitable Sahel region.

The journey began with a grueling application process in which 5% of applicants from 51 African countries were selected out of a pool of over 20,000 applications.

Participants have benefited from the seven pillars of this program which have included a start-up enterprise toolkit, mentoring, online resources, bootcamp and in the course of the year, an entrepreneurship forum, seed capital funding and upon completion, being part of the program’s alumni network.

The highlight of the program for me was the bootcamp. My objectives going into this event were the opportunity to meet and be inspired by business leaders and entrepreneurs, put a name to the faces that I had been in touch with over the last couple of weeks and build lasting relationships.

The occasion far exceeded my expectations. We were spoiled for choices with a list of speakers, which included leaders in business, civil society, entertainment and public officials such as the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Prime Minister of Benin and the Governor of the State of Kaduna.

Our patron, Tony Elumelu also provided us with a no holds barred opportunity to learn more about him, his successes (and failures) and his expectations from us. He made it abundantly clear that failure was not an option for us. That said, it was reassuring to note that he is willing to do what he can to ensure we succeed.

Not to be outdone, the entrepreneurs also shared their stories with each other, cross-pollinated ideas and when the time was ripe, took to the dance floor with gusto, amidst laughter, drinks and great expectations from each other.

The common themes that appeared to embody the aspirations of these inspired young men and women were a profound sense of mission, customer/people-centric approach, improvisation and tinkering, adapting best practices to local environments and more importantly, a can-do attitude.

If history is any guide, this can-do attitude may be a harbinger of a transformation that could alter the face of the continent in profound ways as was witnessed on the sunny morning of February 28th, 1948 at Christiansborg Castle in Accra, Ghana. Returning ex-servicemen from the Gold Coast Regiment who had fought alongside His Majesty’s army in Burma, emboldened by their exploits in the war, demonstrated against the colonial authorities due to unfulfilled promises.

The agitation of these men created a sense of awareness and a crescendo that emboldened “troublemakers” such as Kwame Nkrumah and his cohort of “uppity” Young Turks of their time to cause even greater mischief that eventually toppled the erstwhile British colonial regime. The rest of sub-Saharan Africa was not spared the remorseless march of this rebellion. Just three years later, another 17 countries, a stunning 40% of previously unliberated African colonies were freed, bringing down the mighty edifice of European imperial rule.

The confidence and assertiveness of the returning service men changed the face of Africa. However, it is far from complete. Almost 70 years have passed us by with very little to write home about since that fateful morning. In the intervening period, have been unfulfilled potential, false dawns and a desperate desire for the continent’s leaders to re-discover the buccaneering zeal of its forebears to lay the foundation that will bring the best out of the continent’s most valuable resource – its people – to create a virtuous path that will generate prosperity, foster stability and promote security. Thankfully in Africa’s enterprising youth, they need not look too far out for inspiration.

The author is a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur and a Managing Partner of West Africa-focused investment funds, Diaspora Capital and The Heart of Africa Economic Empowerment Fund (HOA Fund).



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The Battle Against Skin Bleaching; African, not African-American.



Greetings ZNews Readers,

Today Google posted a new Doodle to recognize Ghanaian entrepreneur Esther Afua Ocloo. She was a force in helping millions of low-income women secure loans through Women’s World Banking, the organization she founded. She would have turned 98 years old today.

Africans leveraging our acquired skills and education deciding whether or not to passionately focus on the progress of the continent and her diaspora with its 160,000 millionaires is an issue thoughtfully covered this week by ZNews contributor Jephthah Acheampong.

ZNews is looking to grow our community of amazing storytellers. If you have something to say or a great story to share, please reach out to us. Feel free to spread the word to talented folks you believe would be interested.

My most satisfying smile this week came from viewing a NowThis feature on my friend and inspiration Erikan  Obotetukudo, founder of KIN. Check out the vid, share some love and spread the good energy.

Keep those comments and questions coming. Share your stories, comments, and suggestions with us at




I had been lured to America by the promise of the American dream. White Americans were friendly but spoke to me about African-Americans as if they were of a different species. This didn’t bother me because I considered myself African, not African-American.

The real secret to Asian American success was not education: In the 1850s, newspapers in California complained that Chinese immigrants were the dregs of the laboring class, having “most of the vices and few of the virtues of the African.” Yet by the 1960s, attitudes had completely flipped.

Uganda has thrown an academic in jail over a “buttocks” insult to president Museveni: #PairOfButtocks is trending on Ugandan Twitter, but don’t be too quick to join in. The Ugandan academic who inspired the hashtag, will be spending 14 days in a maximum security prison in Kampala.

What does it take to date a black man in India? Bryan was an international student from Nairobi, Kenya and we met seven weeks before he was to leave India. In that brief spell, I learned more about race, culture and myself in a way I could never have anticipated.

Congo opposition calls for investigation into expensive passports: Top opposition leaders in Democratic Republic of Congo called on the new prime minister on Monday to investigate revelations by Reuters last week that most of the money paid by Congolese citizens for new passports goes overseas.

“Donald Trump is going to send you and your family back to your country,” Said a woman who was caught on cellphone video threatening to call the police and falsely accuse a Muslim Uber driver of rape.

It Isn’t Just Asian Immigrants Who Thrive in the U.S.: By many measures, the most educated immigrant group in the U.S. isn’t East Asians. It’s Africans.

Youth unemployment is a problem all over Africa, except for one country: A new report by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, titled Africa at a Tipping Point, reveals reams of data that paint a dire picture for the continent’s youth, but there was one bright spot.

“Black Women at Work” Hashtag Proves Ever Present Diversity Problem: What It’s Really Like to be a Black Woman at Work. It’s not Pretty. 

How I left my consulting career behind and broke into tech: Three months ago, I moved to San Francisco — one of the most expensive cities on Earth — with no job, no housing, and barely any money. Plenty of people thought it was crazy.

What can Ghana teach South Africa about neocolonialism?: On how the man who coined the term “neocolonialism” fell victim to it and how not to repeat his mistakes.

How Liberia’s New Generation Of Female Entrepreneurs Is Revitalizing The Economy: Rebounding from a devastated economy, new businesses–powered by young self-starters–are on the rise.


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2 hours, 9 minutes, 37 seconds

Geoffrey Kirui’s time winning the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday. Edna Kiplagat won the women’s race to complete the Kenyan sweep.

1.6 million

The total reach of the ZNews Africa platform last month. Here’s why this is a huge investment opportunity.


How much black men with 11-20 years of work experience earned less than their white counterparts according to researchers at EPI.


The First Africa Startup Digital Accelerator: Accelerates 100 companies to market each year. Their 2-day accelerator program is open to all small businesses, startups, and freelancers connected to Africa. Each application round is rolling admission until they select the top 100. The top 10 companies from the applicant pool pitch investors on demo day. The top 3 are announced the next day and proceed to get capital investment with their investor network.

2017 Metro NY Chapter NBMBAA Scholarship: The Official Application for the annual scholarships for Undergraduate and Graduate students is now live. Apply by May 15, 2017.

ColorComm has launched the ColorComm Fellows Program to cultivate the next generation of young leaders in communications, marketing, media, and advertising. The program will provide mentorship, training, access, and opportunity to a select group of women ages 21-26 with 1-4 years professional experience, who can demonstrate how they would like to make an impact in the industry and how they currently contribute to their community.


How To Solve The Biggest Problems With Hospitals in Africa

Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

Written by John Kotey

Why are our health systems a mess? Negligent doctors and nurses cause so many deaths on a daily basis.

When my mom was bitten by a snake a few years ago in Ghana, the doctor on duty prescribed antimalarial drugs instead of anti-snake serum. When we cautioned him, he claimed there was no anti-snake serum at Ridge Hospital.

We combed through almost every hospital in Accra only to find anti-snake serum at Adabraka Polyclinic about 15 hours later. When we brought it back to Ridge hospital, we were told serum from the hospital had just been administered to my mom and that Ridge Hospital is the main hub that stores and distributes anti-snake serum to medical facilities in Ghana and West Africa.

So why did the doctor on duty not know that there was a stockpile of the drug in the hospital? Why didn’t any of the nurses or doctors know as well? If it wasn’t for God’s grace, my mom would have died that night.

That very night, three patients died in my mom’s ward. One’s oxygen run out but all the nurses were asleep so they couldn’t wake up in time to replace it. Another patient who lay next to my mom fell off his bed and died. My dad had prevented him from falling several times but got tired and dozed off when the lazy, sleeping nurses refused to help him consistently.

The next morning after hearing of the deaths of the three patients and the lack of knowledge of doctors and nurses that Ridge stores a lot of anti-snake serum, I caused a lot of commotion in the hospital. The nurses eventually barred me from entering my mom’s ward. But I swore to come back to place cameras in their common areas to make sure they do not sleep on duty. And I intend to keep that promise.

The niceness, and newness of the medical facilities does not make these medical institutions strong and reliable. We have doctors and nurses who go into the medical profession because it pays well. It’s prestigious. Their family forced them into it. People interpreted their WASSCE results as doctor material, or there was no other option than nursing school and the allowances thereto attached.

We have many in the medical profession who have no place being there. Imagine if 50 percent of pilots actually didn’t want to be pilots and so spent most of their time in the cockpit playing candy crush, WhatsApping or simply sleeping. Just imagine the carnage.

So why can’t we hold our medical professionals to a higher standard? Why aren’t we suing doctors, nurses and their medical institutions for negligent behavior that causes the demise of our family and friends?

Putting cameras in resting areas of nurses and doctors might be strongly opposed by these negligent professionals. But we can all use our phone cameras to record these sleeping, and negligent nurses and doctors. And maybe when we start publicly shaming and possibly jailing these assassins cloaked in medical attire, we can clear the rot in this noble profession.

John Kotey is a is a Systems Entrepreneur, STEM Enthusiast and Active Citizen. As a systems entrepreneur, he is the co-founder of Nsesa Foundation, an organization inspiring an innovation revolution in African through STEM education initiatives like Project iSWEST innovation bootcamps for high school students and SuaCode – a smartphone-based code learning system.

John often writes on a wide range of topics including entrepreneurship, political accountability and nation-building. He is passionate about the role of entrepreneurship in spurring the African renaissance.

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