Free trade talks point to new African era

first_img7 December 2011An important process that started three years ago will begin to move forward this week as the first round of negotiations to establish a free trade area covering 27 countries in east and southern Africa kicks off in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday.It is envisaged that negotiations for the proposed free trade area (FTA), which promises to be an important instrument for the future of trade and industrialisation in Africa, will be completed in about 36 months.The three trade blocs involved – the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) – decided in Kampala, Uganda in October 2008 to move towards a free trade agreement.Boosting intra-regional trade, industrialisationThe intention is to boost intra-regional trade. Because the market will be much bigger, there will be more investment flows, enhanced competitiveness and the development of cross-regional infrastructure.At the same time, the FTA will act as a spur to industrialisation, as countries move from selling primary products to making goods to sell.Competition with older, established and also bigger emerging economies might be a stumbling block initially, but the huge new market may make it possible for locally manufactured goods to compete with those imported from outside the FTA.With close to 600-million people live within the FTA, and a combined gross domestic product of $1-trillion, the region could find itself competing in the same league as the likes of China, India, Russia, Brazil, the US and the EU.The next economic frontierAnd it is becoming easier to make the world believe this, because the continent is already being touted as the next economic frontier.A glance at some figures confirms this view:Africa’s combined consumer spending was US$860-billion in 2008, and will be an estimated $1.4-trillion in 2020. With 43% of Africans currently under the age of 15, by 2040 there will be 1.1-billion Africans of working age.  Urbanisation enhances growth – Africa already has 52 cities with more than a million inhabitants, more than Europe. By 2030, around fifty percent of Africa’s populationi will be living in cities.  Africa’s returns on foreign direct investment (FDI) are the highest in the world. South Africa well placed to benefitSouth Africa, with its advanced and sophisticated economy, is best suited to exploit the advantages offered by such an expanded market.Already, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has rated South Africa first in the world for the strength of its auditing and reporting standards and for the regulation of its securities exchanges. The soundness of the country’s banks – rated second in the world – is an important asset these days when banks everywhere else are shaky.Add the certainty offered by the government’s recently announced National Development Plan, which sets out the country’s path until 2030, and it is clear that South Africa’s competitiveness will only be enhanced by the establishment of an African FTA.South Africa’s fellow BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – all started their upward economic trend based on huge domestic markets. With the establishment of an FTA, South Africa will have access a market 12 times bigger than the 50-million domestic customers it now has.Tough negotiations expectedHowever, the road to setting up the FTA could be a rocky one. Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has warned that negotiations over industrial policy could be tough. South Africa has just set out to implement its Industrial Policy Action Plan, and talks around the trade in manufactured goods will be of particular concern.But South Africa does have an advantage. As Davies points out, unlike exports to the rest of the world, a high percentage of exports into Africa are already made up of value-added products.Other problems would be the levels of protectionism between African countries, restrictive trade permit needs, and very obvious economic disparities.Additionally, the fact that three existing trade blocs aim to merge into one is a stumbling block as they are at different levels of integration, with different rules and regulations.All of this will be part of the negotiations that start this week.The fact remains that economic growth in all participating countries will be boosted by increased intra-regional trade. For Africa as a whole, intra-regional trade currently stands at only 12% of all cross-border trade, whereas in Asia the figure is rising toward 50%, and in the European Union towards 80%.The FTA would also be an important building block towards achieving the vision of the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963 – a continent-wide African Economic Union.The December talks may be the first concrete sign of Africa rising to take its rightful place in the world.Source: Brand South Africalast_img read more

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What is The Future of Human Powered Search?

first_imgRelated Posts Mahalo popularized the term “human powered search” when they launched just over a year ago. Many of the pitches we get still use that term as part of their positioning. Many of them are bootstrapped, so the price of entry is clearly low. But the upside has not yet been established. In this post we look at the pros and cons of human powered search engines in general, look at some differentiating strategies and ask “what is the future for Human Powered Search?”Old Wine In New Bottles?When Mahalo first launched, my instinctive reaction (which I recorded on my personal Blog) was that this was “old wine in new bottles”. Traditional publishers have been doing “human powered search” even BI (Before Internet) but these went by boring names like Directory. Human editors work great in well defined niches, always have done and always will. Human editors produce the expert content that Google finds for you. This is long tail publishing. This is Business Media and Enthusiast Media, large but slow growth traditional publishing segments of the media industry.But an Internet scale venture powered by humans rather than software? We look at three reasons why this might work and two reasons why it won’t work.Three Pros And Two ConsMost ventures in this space highlight three things that a human editor can always do better than a software program. These are the three Pros:1. Spam control. Humans can easily spot even the most ingenious spam .2. Duplicate control. 10 articles that all say virtually the same thing are just a waste of time.3. Disambiguation. Computers need an awful lot of expensive programming to always spot the difference between “apple” as a fruit, a consumer electronics company or a record label. Humans can do it in a flash.The two Cons:1. You cannot persuade people to break their Google habit until your searches are better than Google for most cases (not just the few cases where you specialize). This massive hurdle is true for all search engines.2. You cannot win as a destination site if you are general purpose. You go to the sites that specialize in the areas that interest you. If you don’t know what sites to go to, Google will find those sites for you.So, do three Pros beat two Cons? Not in this case. The Pros are three relatively minor irritants that human powered search fixes. The Cons are total showstoppers.Pay People To Write Content?Mahalo pays people to create content. That means they can predict the quality of the results. Paying people requires lots of funding. Mahalo has plenty of funding and it is unlikely anybody else will get funded with the same model. So Mahalo has a fairly long and clear runway before take-off. Mahalo is private company so we don’t know how long it will take them to get to profitability or even if the basic economics make profitability feasible at all. In today’s climate, nobody will buy Mahalo without a clear path to profitability.Are you Bullish or Bearish on Mahalo? Cast your vote in our Company Index (powered by TradeVibes). My vote was Bearish and I was in the majority at the time I cast my vote (80% Bullish vs 20% Bearish). The sample size on that vote was too low to be meaningful (40), so the more votes the better.The Elephant In The Community Generated Content RoomMost other ventures get “the community” to create the content. The elephant in this room is of course Wikipedia. How on earth do you get general knowledge content that is better at scale than Wikipedia? How do you motivate people to create content if, unlike Mahalo, you are not paying their salaries? Google’s answer with Knol was to pay them indirectly via Adsense revenue. The market jury on Knol is still out. If Google cannot win, how can any other start-up without their brand power? If the Knol competitor also monetizes through Adsense, their margin is even less.About The PlayersThe other well funded venture that wears the human powered search label is Wikia. Founded by Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia fame, this looks like the largest pure Wiki style venture. Content is community generated, but it appears that they have editors/moderators/curators on payroll.Squidoo looks like a bootstrapped venture. It is hard to tell if it has traction. Looking at Squidoo’s page on TradeVibes will point to many other inexpensive Wiki style ventures. The basic technology of Wikis is now a total commodity.One of the earliest ventures, About.com, is now owned by the New York Times. On my survey of one, About is the one site other than Wikipedia that surfaces a lot in general knowledge type searches. At the scale they operate, it may well be profitable. So Mahalo, Wiki and other human powered search engines may have a bright future.What do you think? Can general purpose human powered search engines scale and make money? Or will they either fail or move into small niches? What new ventures have a fundamentally differentiated approach to this market? bernard lunn Tags:#NYT#Trends#web A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

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Antonio Brown faces rape accusations by former trainer

first_img(AP) New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown is facing rape accusations by a former trainer.According to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Southern District of Florida, Britney Taylor says Brown sexually assaulted her on three occasions.Brown has denied the allegations. Darren Heitner, a lawyer representing Brown, told The Associated Press his client plans to countersue. Heitner said Brown and Taylor had “a consensual personal relationship.”Taylor also said in the statement she will cooperate with the NFL and any other agencies.A spokesman for the NFL declined comment, but the Patriots say the league told the team it will launch an investigation.last_img

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