Today at Andrew Marvell College in East Hull, A Tale of Africa in 10 objects will be told by The History Troupe – a performing arts group researching, devising and delivering local hidden histories. Working with David Murden, the inspirational founder of the AAF, the performance works with artefacts drawn from across villages in West Africa that David has worked with for years. The idea is to draw attention to the potential and the skills that can make these villages sustainable.
Before the performance of poems, stories, images and song a film of the transformational work of AAF runs. Building from the original concept of local networks and the 3 T’s (Trees, Trade and Training), the transformational agenda explores the logistics and capacity building needed to make things happen.
Much has happened to build momentum. AAF has linked to the Northern Gateways Initiative – a focus on trade corridors in the North of England and across the world. This was just before Northern Powerhouse launched and now, the focus has developed more with links building globally on trade. David’d work on the Volta river sits well with this transformational agenda.
In the past few months, David’s vision for the Volta trade corridor and the connectivity this can facilitate for the 70 villages he has visited constantly over many years has been adopted by the Rotary Club and plans are taking shape to fund the construction of boats made in Hull destined for the area outlined in this short film.
The first boat, Wilberforce 1 is to be built in Hull by Seahorse Marine and sent out to bolster the Medical capacity within the community along this extraordinary Volta river system. David’s insight has galvanised efforts to raise the money to fund the construction of Wilberforce 1 – named after the inspirational figure who was born in Hull just like David. There are plans to link with a parallel initiative for Sierra Leone.
In the coming months, more films will provide an update on the project.
Jim Brophy taught me the importance of bees. Each morning, he would look to the hives – he had up to 30 – to check the weather. If the bees were out and about there would be no rain. After a day in the fields at Desart in Kilkenny, he would clean his hands with honey; use it on scrapes or wounds and, on the press next to busts of Napoleon and Padraig Pearse were his prized moulds made out of polished bees wax. He would give talks about plant pollination and how crucial bees are to the harvest and, I recall the wonder of lifting the lid of the hive to see such industry and organisation. *As we develop T L perspectives on high impact industries for the developing and emerging world capable of delivering sustainable and inclusive growth – honey is worth a closer look.
A hive of industry
Honey is big business. Global production of over 1250 metric tonnes generates a $1.5 billion market. Prices vary. China produces over 20% of global production at just over $1,000 per tonne. New Zealand honey fetches over $6,000. Ten producing countries generate over 70% of global production and, the demand far outstrips supply in many countries. The US imports 55% of its demand and this is worth $150 million; the UK produces under 10% and Saudi Arabia 2% of their needs. Honey is a massive opportunity for developing countries to grow an added value agricultural industry at relatively low cost. Let’s look at the history and then, reflect on the potential to use honey to transform a market and boost income for the poor. Continue reading →
Business is all about innovation and improving on an idea. This means mapping a process from start to finish; exploring ways to improve the route to market. In logistics and supply chain terms seek out ways to make supply chains ever better, cheaper and faster. In other words, work out the best route from primary sources to finished goods; carpets from loom to room; dairy products from the cow to the consumer and so on across all sectors.
These days, much of this work is done by sophisticated supply chain modelling and mapping tools using optimisation software. These past few years, we have been working all over the world in places lacking even the most basic connectivity and equipment. This demands a return to basics using shoe leather to walk the talk and map all sorts of processes on the ground. In Zambia: mapping leather from the herd to the hide; in Ghana, linking basket weaving with leather crafts to produce practical bags with strong leather handles and, in South Africa mapping bakery products through the shanty towns.
Here’s an illustration of the type of work this involves from Rushikonda on the coast of Andra Pradesh. Rob Bell was working with MBA students from GITAM Business School and before a workshop on process mapping and supply chains he was taking a stroll along this glorious beach…
Out at sea he saw a vague image of men working on a boat – it made a terrific photo shot from the shore. Over the next few minutes the boat moved closer to the shore; moved up onto the beach itself; the nets were thrown overboard and then, women arrived to segment the fish into size and specie. Soon agents arrived to haggle over price and then, the men came back to move baskets of fish to the road into town and to the fish market. As the process unfolded, Rob took photos and soon the map took shape. Continue reading →
In the 13th century, the Edo people living in the Benin Region of present day Nigeria perfected techniques that created some of the most celebrated pieces in archaeology. In 1897 the Benin Bronzes were discovered and taken to the British Museum in London. Back then, colonial experts found it incredible that these “primitive and savage people” were responsible for such sophisticated objects. Some concluded that the Benin knowledge of metallurgy came from the Portuguese. Today it is clear that these were made in Benin from an indigenous culture.
THT is working with the And Albert Foundation on a set of objects from Africa, Asia and South America that illustrate the craft, innovation and sophistication of indigenous peoples. We plan a series of evenings combining the objects themselves with stories giving context, poems giving voice, music and dance to set the perceptive darkness echoing.
Mayhews London Labour and the London Poor (1861) describes street folk of the fast expanding capital city with flower sellers as the “aristocracy” of the street; their elevated status due to a combination of wealthy clients and the need to own sheds to store and carts to move their fragile crop avoiding, in his delightful phrase, ”concusive” transit – he may have been anticipating the last mile in Chennai! Mayhew describes in some detail a supply system that, by the end of the 19th century, was copied in the major US cities with horicultural growing centres located within or close to the major centres of population of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.
By the 1950s, the expansion of the interstate highway system facilitated transportation of cut flowers over longer distances with nurseries expanding further afield in Colorado; Denver and California. Today, horticulture has taken advantage of the rocket science of logistics to stretch supply lines into the most remote areas of the globe. It could act as a catalyst to transform Agriculture still further as well as being a testing house for green supply chains along the way. Here’s the story …
Kariakoo Market in Dar es Salaam is for locals, it is not the place for tourist trinkets. Since 1974, it has been a hub for local informal trade and with East and Central Africa. With daily business transactions of about $10 million and over 55,000 visitors daily Kariakoo is the centre of all kinds of businesses: estate development, banking, consultancy and shopping malls, buzzing with deals from street traders to business tycoons. The market also attracts customers from as far as Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe among other countries.
Kakania is a landlocked country in the developing world. Diotima is a traditional fishing village located close to Kakania’s biggest lake inhabited by 50 families; their cattle and, other livestock. The locals are content with their lot fishing and growing enough cereal, vegetables and fruit to eat and, raise their children. The cattle are social assets – which means that they are valued for status; dowries and to honour the dead at funeral banquets. The village is isolated – though one enterprising woman has purchased a mobile phone and makes it her business to store address books for each villager; coordinate remittances being sent from elsewhere and, pull together the needs of the community to be purchased in the nearest town a few miles away every week. Others take their produce to the Northern road close by and set up their charcoal; tomatoes and sweet potatoes to sell to trucks and cars as they pass by on their way to the capital. It has been a tough year.
Over the past few years I have worked on a variety of supply chains in far flung places: Moscow in the transition years looking to build a series of distribution networks; India and the Rushikonda fishing community; Zambia and herdsmen taking their livestock to the abattoir and on to tanneries. All of these examples are distant from the highly sophisticated supply chains of the developed world. And yet, as I look back through history, I note that many of the emerging supply chains of frontier markets find echoes of their development in a number of industries that were born in the industrial revolution. Continue reading →
The building of Regional powerhouses creates world class infrastructure and, accelerates industrial clusters and specialisation. However, there is an impact on the Informal Economy. The Delhi Mumbai Dedicated freight Corridor is another case in point.[i]
One of the greatest challenges facing logistics and supply chain efforts in frontier markets is the existence and quality of the roads. The World Bank and others have generated a number of useful Reports on spatial modelling taking into account expanding urban areas as well as how best to develop connectivity for remote rural communities. What about those in between – the people who sell and the communities who live alongside roads all over Sub Saharan Africa?