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From the ashes of war, Sierra Leone rises with Solar-Powered Youth Hubs

What is a pragmatic recipe for a low-cost Youth Entrepreneurship Hub in a country like Sierra Leone? Get a shipping container, fit it with air-conditioning, work desks and chairs. Then add PCs, internet access and solar panels to provide electricity, and you get the picture of Sierra Leone’s Solar-Powered youth hubs

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What is a pragmatic recipe for a low-cost Youth Entrepreneurship Hub in a country like Sierra Leone? Get a shipping container, fit it with air-conditioning, work desks and chairs. Then add PCs, internet access and solar panels to provide electricity, and you get the picture of Sierra Leone’s Solar-Powered youth hubs.

Computer Aid International is a non-profit organization that combines IT asset disposal with global development. Earlier in the year, CAI installed two Youth Entrepreneurship Hubs in Makeni and Pujehun in Sierra Leone. As described above, they are both solar-powered.

The containers do not look so special from the outside, but step inside and the picture changes. They could pass for a mini mission control centre in a blockbuster movie.

The town of Pujehun has no electric power, with diesel generators being the only source of power for many. In addition, it has no public computers nor ICT training centres. The situation is largely the same at Makeni, though there is public power supply.

The solar powered Zuba boxes, as they are called, are self-sustaining. These Youth Entrepreneurship Hubs are part of a project that reportedly provides 1,230 young people with vital digital business skills.

Sierra Leone’s solar-powered youth hubs are giving quite a number of students their first exposure to many much needed skills, including typing, computer usage, web browsing, and more.

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Nigeria’s FDI in manufacturing rises by $644m in 2023

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According to data from Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), foreign investments into the industrial sector increased by $644 million in 2023 to $1.5 billion from $948 million the year before.

In its capital imports report, the NBS said that the manufacturing sector had the highest investment levels.

The industries comprising the top three investment magnates were banking and finance, which ranked distantly second and third, respectively.

Manufacturing investments of $1.5 billion in 2023 made up 39% of all capital imports that year ($3.8 billion). Compared to $5.4 billion in 2022, foreign investments in Nigeria decreased by $1.5 billion to $3.8 billion.

The total capital importation was primarily driven by foreign direct investments ($377.3 million) and portfolio investments ($1.1 billion), with other investments accounting for the largest share of the total at $2.37 billion.

With $2.5 billion, Lagos State was the most popular travel destination in 2023, followed by Abuja ($1.1 billion). $150 million and $6 million were recorded by Abia and Rivers States, respectively.

In the same year in review, investments were also drawn to Ogun, Ekiti, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, and Adamawa states. 29 states were unable to draw in any capital during that time.

Foreign investments in Nigeria have consistently decreased in recent years. The largest economy in Africa saw a $18.6 billion fall in foreign investment in just four years (2019–2022), according to NBS.

Eight states were unable to draw in any kind of foreign investment over the four years. Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Gombe, Jigawa, and Kebbi were the states that were impacted. The report indicates that $23.9 billion in foreign investments were made in Nigeria in 2019.

The amount fell to $9.6 billion by 2020, then to $6.7 billion the next year, and finally to $5.3 billion in 2022. This suggests a $18.6 billion drop in the following four years. Over the course of the four years, the world’s most populated black country earned roughly $46 billion.

With $35.4 billion in foreign investments, Lagos State topped the way, followed by Federal Capital Territory ($10 billion).

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South Africa to withdraw from emergency reserves to reduce growing debt

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South Africa’s National Treasury announced on Wednesday that the government would take $8 billion over the following three years from emergency reserves kept at the central bank in order to curb the country’s growing debt.

The most industrialised economy in Africa has not expanded significantly in over ten years, as the state budget has been increasingly consumed by escalating debt servicing expenses.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana stated during the presentation of the 2024 budget that the unconventional decision to remove 150 billion rand ($7.93 billion) from the Gold and Foreign Exchange Contingency Reserve Account (GFECRA) would not jeopardise the solvency of the central bank and would instead leave ample reserves to withstand shocks to the currency rate.

The Treasury stated that GFECRA, which records gains and losses on the nation’s foreign exchange reserve operations, has a balance of more than 500 billion rand, which is greater than likely reserve losses due to rand appreciation.

The next fiscal year, which ends in March 2025, will give the government 100 billion rand; the next two years, it will receive 25 billion rand each.

Duncan Pieterse, the director general of Treasury, informed reporters that the government was essentially substituting more costly borrowing with the reserve account.

Investor confidence regarding the government’s financial needs led to a minor increase in the rand and a strengthening of the nation’s sovereign dollar bonds.

A general election scheduled for May 29th is approaching, and given the dire state of the economy, it is possible that the ruling African National Congress party may lose its legislative majority for the first time since apartheid ended thirty years ago.

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