Harnessing African intellectual property

first_img9 June 2008A key report launched at the World Economic Forum on Africa last week shows that effective IP (intellectual property) strategies can raise African producers’ incomes by up to 320%, compared with traditional aid models, which raise incomes by only about 1.6% a year.Called “Distinctive values in African Exports: How intellectual property can raise export income and alleviate poverty“, it was produced by an organisation called Light Years and funded by the Department for International Development in the United Kingdom.“In sub-Saharan Africa, something quite new is happening with intellectual property,” the report states, adding that intellectual property is increasingly being used in business strategies to boost the export incomes of large numbers of African producers.Light Years IP studied 14 product sectors, had found that these sectors have the potential to increase export income from US$1.1-billion per year, to between $2.5-billion and $3.5-billion per year.If applied properly to sub-Saharan exports, which earn an estimated $9-billion per year, these strategies would increase the export income in this region to between $20-billion and $27-billion per year.Intangible valueThe report notes the dramatic increase in the intangible value of products over recent decades, finding that this has now overtaken the physical value of products as the main source of corporate income.Now, with the value of intangible assets at the top end of the value chain, intellectual property strategies are more important than ever.The report states that Africa could develop business strategies with IP built-in when exporting to developed country markets where value is dominated by IP, arguing that at the moment, “valuable returns from IP are being captured in the importing country and not in the African country of origin”.Up to now, the authors argue, strategies for export development in Africa have relied too heavily on increasing the production of commodities and establishing new processing or manufacturing plants.This has put African countries in “intense competition” with other developing countries that are also increasing production and manufacturing.The report outlined a number of areas where African countries could receive more of the value from their products. For instance, Ethiopian coffee, it says, is recognised as being among the best in the world.“However, the significantly high retail prices for these coffees were being enjoyed by foreign coffee distributors and retailers, while the producers were compensated at very low levels – around five percent to 10% of the retail price.”Kuapa KokooIn one sign of success, the report pointed to a successful IP-based business strategy initiated by cocoa farmers in Ghana.A cooperative set up called Kuapa Kokoo – which in turn helped to establish the Fairtrade chocolate marketing company Divine Chocolate Ltd – now brands its product, which is becoming well known in developed country markets and allowing the producers to receive a major share in the brand and a significant share in the profits.When it came to modern technology, the opportunity for trading on more equal terms was now better for Africa, says Light Years IP chief executive officer Ron Layton.“Transmission of digital products has dramatically levelled the playing field for Africa, a change unprecedented in world trade.”More than 800 participants from around 50 countries engaged with each other in the 18th World Economic Forum on Africa, which ended last Friday.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

What African universities can do to attract academics back from the diaspora

first_imgThe African academic diaspora can contribute positively to the continent – by offering their skills and expertise, or training young academics – especially if they partner up with African universities, writes Osabuohien P. Amienyi. Africans studying abroad, or teaching in academic institutions can help improve Africa. (Image: Flickr)• Oxford and UCT: oldest universities working together for new solutions • Why South Africa’s Karoo is a palaeontological wonderland• Innovation research needs more investment • Nigerian student builds solar car from scrap • New technologies stand to benefit poorer countries Osabuohien P. Amienyi, Arkansas State UniversityI moved from Nigeria to the US in the 1970s during the “golden age” of immigration that followed the introduction of America’s Immigration Act in 1965.At this time, it was relatively easy for an ordinary Nigerian with a burning desire to travel abroad to obtain an international visa. I did not believe my prospects of going to university in Nigeria were good. Between 1962 and 1980, there were only 13 universities in Nigeria. Access to these was quite limited.One of the most attractive things about the diaspora was how media studies blended theory with practice. The style of teaching at Nigerian universities then was highly theoretical. I wanted both the conceptual knowledge and practical skills that could later be applied to my working life as a journalist.My field, communication, was not widely available at Nigerian universities. The US, on the other hand, had many reputable and attractive degree programmes in this field.There were other reasons for my move. In the 1970s, a person educated abroad enjoyed high status and prestige upon their return. They were likely to land a senior administrative position – and with this, perks like a nice house, car and stewards to wait on them. I came from a humble background and saw studying abroad as a ticket to success in life.I was also following a trend. Many of my friends and family had studied abroad. But like many before and after me, my aspiration was to come to the US, obtain my education and return to serve Nigeria.When I got back to Nigeria in the early 1980s, though, I experienced a profound culture shock. I had become a foreigner in my own country – so I returned to the US.Reaching out to diaspora talentThere are between 20,000 and 25,000 African-born academics working at America’s colleges and universities. Many of whom I have met and worked with – and I myself – want to contribute to our home continent. We have a great deal to offer in terms of skills and knowledge. We can train young academics. We can help to build our native countries. There are several ways that African universities can get us involved.For starters, each must take stock of its core strengths and weaknesses. This will reveal not only the administrative and instructional structures that need support, but also the nature of the support that’s needed.Next, they must consult available databases to identify universities and individuals in the diaspora that have the capacity to meet their needs. Then they can directly contact these people, departments or institutions. Some universities believe they are already doing this through existing global exchange programmes – but these don’t benefit all African institutions and aren’t available to all diaspora academics.Building more than just relationshipsThere is more to drawing diaspora academics back to their home countries than merely striking up individual relationships. Although the situation varies from country to country, it is fair to say that African universities, like the societies they occupy, generally have poor infrastructure.More often than not, buildings, classrooms, grounds, instructional technology, teaching resources like books, journals and laboratories are decades out of date. This makes it difficult for diaspora academics to collaborate with colleagues at African universities on research and teaching.I am reminded of the difficulties I had teaching a television production course to students at a sub-Saharan Africa university that had no cameras, nor a studio. In another instance, a colleague from an African university couldn’t send me data that he’d collected – because there weren’t enough computers on campus.For African diaspora academics who are accustomed to working in resource-rich environments, these types of difficulties can become a disincentive for exploring ties with African universities.Better institutional managementThe poor state of infrastructure at African universities is directly related to inadequate funding, as shown in a Nigerian study. Often, funds promised to African universities by governments never arrive, arrive late or arrive in much smaller amounts than expected. This makes it difficult for African universities to obtain the resources to operate effectively and efficiently.This is frequently compounded by internal administrative factors like internal politics, inadequate compensation and low morale, competing values and a lack of commitment by staff.African diaspora academics want to contribute their talents to benefit universities in Africa, and some are already doing so. The benefits of these interactions can be maximised if administrators of African universities take appropriate steps to enable an environment where the limitations of distance, space and time are easily transcended.Osabuohien P. Amienyi is Professor of Creative Media Production and Chair, Department of Media at Arkansas State University.This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.last_img read more

3 Directing Tips For Adding Suspense To Your Thriller

first_imgA thriller without suspense falls as flat as a comedy with no jokes. Crank up the tension and get the audience reaction you want with these tips.Top image of Alfred Hitchcock from Leva FilmWorksThere’s a very common thread among films in the thriller genre that don’t succeed: they sell the steak and not the sizzle. In other words, they’re so focused on the payoff of the idea and the delivery of the film’s premise, that the buildup and suspense of the whole piece falls short. A great thriller is far more concerned with the anticipation of an event than with the payoff moment, yet time after time directors seem to make poor choices when working in this genre. So if you’re gearing up to direct your next thriller, consider the three tips below for adding real suspense to your next film:1. Be Selective With the ActionImage: Cary Grant in North by Northwest via IMDbMany poorly executed thrillers wind up feeling more like action films once they eventually hit the screen. And the reason why often has to do with pacing above all else. Directors without a lot of experience in the genre are often fearful that their stories aren’t moving quickly enough, and wind up flooding their scripts with unnecessary action sequences that are designed to “thrill” the audience but really just take away from story’s pensiveness. Thrillers are all about anticipation, and when you take away an audience’s breathing room to bite their nails or sit on the edge of their seats, you’re left with an action film – not a thriller.2. Don’t Overdo the Music in the EditOn the opposite side of the coin, there are films that move far too slowly and don’t have genuine suspense built into them, which is equally problematic. In these cases, filmmakers will often overuse suspenseful music in order to compensate for a lack of true depth in their scenes. If you ever reach this point, I can assure you that laying the soundtrack on thickly isn’t what your film needs… chances are you need a re-shoot.In the above scene (via Fandango Movieclips) from Steven Spielberg’s 2005 sci-fi thriller War of the Worlds, you’ll find a great example of a sequence that successfully utilizes music and silence to create an atmosphere thick with tension and suspense.3. Focus on One Major Idea at a TimeImage: Jimmy Stewart from Rear Window via IMDbThis note applies equally to the writing phase of making a thriller as it does to editing one. Many directors attempt to force too many ideas into their thrillers as a means to keep their audience guessing. While their intentions are in the right place, in practice this just doesn’t work. By flooding your film with potential ideas, outcomes, and suspects, your audience will feel disoriented and disinterested pretty quickly. A far better approach would be to focus on a singular idea (or two at the most) at any given point, and then twist and turn only when absolutely necessary to ensure that you’re always staying ahead of your audience.What are some of your favorite moments of suspense in the world of film? Let us know in the comments below!last_img read more

Pranab is still ‘Poltuda’ in his ancestral village of Mirati in West Bengal

first_imgOn a chilly January night at Kirnahar, a sleepy district town in Birbhum, West Bengal, Annapurna Banerjee, 82, was rudely awoken from sleep by the sound of the ringing phone. She warily took the call, hoping there are no surprises in store for her at this hour. “Didi, TV te dekhlam khub thanda porechhe, tai khoj nilaam. Bhalo achho to? (I just heard on TV that there’s a cold wave there. Is everything all right?)” At the other end was her youngest brother Pranab (Poltu) from New Delhi, worried about his frail eldest sister’s health. He apologised for not having called earlier, saying he was caught up with the problems of governance. Didi didn’t complain. After all, Poltu, aka Pranab Mukherjee, 76, was known to be UPA’s troubleshooter-in-chief.”Poltu has always been very caring,” says Annapurna. She recalls how her eight-year-old brother kept following the palanquin to her inlaws’ house after her wedding, tears streaming down his face, his bare feet kicking up the dust in the nondescript village of Mirati, 7 km from Kirnahar, where the six siblings lived in their ancestral house. The young Mukherjee, shattered that his favourite sister was leaving home for good, saved a few sweets for her when she was due to return for the customary homecoming a week later. “The sweets, wrapped in sal leaves, were devoured by ants. Poltu was crestfallen,” she says, voice choking with emotion.”Poltuda was always a meritorious student and a good orator,” recalls Dhanapati Chaudhury, 71, Mukherjee’s neighbour in Mirati. The Mukherjees’ ancestral house was the hub of all cultural and sports activities in the village, recalls Chaudhury, who, along with friends Kiriti and Badal, would spend long hours there. “Poltuda would keep us engaged throughout the day. He was also a voracious reader and I remember him discussing news with his father with keen interest,” he says. Mukherjee also founded the Mirati Kishore Samity, a local club that boasts of one of the best libraries in the district.advertisementMukherjee’s father, the late Kamada Kinkar, was president of the District Congress Committee, Birbhum, a member of the All India Congress Committee and a member of the West Bengal Legislative Council from 1952 to 1964. Widely regarded as an astute politician and an altruist, Kinkar imbibed in his children the virtues of selflessness and camaraderie. “All of us have inherited this trait and so has Poltu,” says Annapurna. Kinkar would offer destitute children refuge in his house, though he never worked for a living. She remembers how their father would get two bullock carts full of clothes for the village folk during Durga Puja and his children would be left with nothing. “We never complained,” she says.A freedom fighter that the British had great regard for, Kinkar was always under the hawk eye of the British administration. Revolutionaries would drop in at his house and give him important and incriminatory documents. The documents would be concealed under the sand in earthen jars meant for storing molasses. During the Quit India Movement of 1942, when Kinkar was jailed, he advised his children that if the police came calling, they must be searched before being allowed to step inside. “They might carry documents which they would claim to have found from our house,” he warned. When a British police officer, accompanied by two constables, landed up to conduct a raid at their house, sevenyear-old Mukherjee accosted him and demanded that he must agree to be frisked. He also explained to the officer why he proposed to do so. To his amusement, the officer asked him how he proposed to search a six-feet-tall man. “Take me on your lap and let me search you,” he said nonchalantly. The officer burst into laughter and let him carry it out. “Only a tiger could be born to a tiger,” he remarked. When the police interrogation was over, Mukherjee insisted that they have lunch with them. “My father has instructed us that no one should leave our home without having lunch,” the little boy said. The policemen had to relent and stay on for a meal.Growing up also had its share of difficulties. Kirnahar Shibchandra High School was a good 7 km from Mukherjee’s house and he had to walk the distance everyday. During monsoons, the entire village would be flooded and the boys would wade through the water in coarse cotton towels and shield their books and uniforms from rain. The stubborn and determined Mukherjee would never miss class. “He’d also spend a lot of time at his teacher Saradindu Ghosh’s house,” recalls Chaudhury, who fondly remembers how the school had given the children a football but no pump to inflate it with. Mukherjee went to a nearby shop, got hold of a small pipe, inserted it in the football and used a cycle-pump to do the job. “He made it look so easy,” says Chaudhury. Pranab’s mother, the late Rajlakshmi, would always say that her son would grow up to become a scientist. “He may not have become a scientist, but look at how deftly Poltuda finds solutions to complex problems,” says Chaudhury.advertisementMukherjee’s ancestral house at Mirati, that was only a two-storied hut where the whole family lived, is now a two-storied brick-and-mortar house resembling a school building. It was built around 1982-83. Goutam Sarkar, 40, has been the caretaker since1989. He lives with his wife and son and all his expenses are taken care of by Mukherjee. “Since childhood, I have lived in this house as a member of the family and have always enjoyed the same benefits as the Mukherjees,” he says. He adds that Mukherjee’s mother Rajlakshmi was a kind-hearted woman and would care for destitute children and give them refuge. “Pranab has inherited this rare attribute from his mother,” says Sarkar.The village is now getting a concrete dam and a sluice gate over the Kuiye river that overflows every year. As the Union finance minister, Mukherjee sanctioned Rs 5 crore for the project. “All the development that you see here, from roads to sanitation to electricity, is because of him,” says Rabi Chattaraj, 60, Mukherjee’s long-time aide.When Mukherjee became the finance minister for the first time in 1982, his father asked him, “Do you know anything about the job, my son?” He replied, “I’ll learn on the job. I know how Ma runs the show at home.” Says Annapurna, “He was always very different from others. My husband, Dulal Chandra, and I always knew that he has the spark in him to become someone big.” Mukherjee stayed with her during his university days and started teaching in a school in a village in Howrah. “He also started practising in court on Chandra’s advice, but discontinued it later,” she says.Mukherjee’s career leaves little time for social and family gatherings, but his wife Suvra, 65, plays an active role in holding the family together. A low-profile woman, she has been a key figure in Mukherjee’s life, managing the household and taking care of the children.Mukherjee might be an important personality and a force to reckon with in two successive terms of the Manmohan Singh-led UPA Government, but to people in his native village, he remains the boy next door. All the villagers congregate at his house during Durga Puja, when he comes to perform the rites himself.”I hardly ever get to speak to him,” laments Annapurna. But the little boy who would always find someone or another to play his pranks on and would pick a fight with his beloved ‘Anna’ whenever he could, has come a long way.advertisementlast_img read more

England vs India: Ben Stokes joins elite list, Sam Curran creates history

first_imgBen Stokes joined an elite list of English cricketers as he took the wicket of Dinesh Karthik on Thursday on the second day of the first Test between England and India at Edgbaston.Karthik, who was clean bowled, was Stokes’s 100th Test wicket and with his dismissal the all-rounder became only the fifth English player to score over 2500 runs and take 100 wickets in Test cricket.The other four cricketers to achieve the same feat before Stokes are Tony Greig, Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff and Stuart Broad.Stokes is also the third fastest in world cricket to reach the landmark. The all-rounder achieved the feat in his 43rd Test.India vs England 1st Test, Day 2: Live UpdatesBangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan took 37 Tests to score 2500 runs and take 100 wickets in Test cricket, while South Africa’s Trevor Goddard and England’s Grieg reached there in 40 matches.The recent success should help Stokes overcame the disappointment of last year after his involvement in a fight outside a Bristol nightclub kept him away from cricket for a long time.In September last year, Stokes was arrested and subsequently suspended by ECB following the incident in Bristol.The cricketer was charged of affray and that forced him to sit out of the Ashes in Australia. He only returned to the England side in March this year on the tour of New Zealand after he pleaded not guilty in a British court. The case is still ongoing.He made his return to international cricket at home with the two-match Test series against Pakistan in May.advertisementMeanwhile, youngster Sam Curran also entered the record books as he bamboozled Indian batsmen with his left-arm pace bowling.Curran, who took the wickets of openers Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and number three batsman KL Rahul, became the youngest English fast bowler to take four wickets in a Test innings in England, at the age of 20 years and 60 days.last_img read more

Brazilian Church responds to Venezuelan migrant crisis

first_imgVenezuelan migrants arriving in BrazilVenezuelan migrants arriving in Brazil Solidarity in welcoming Venezuelan migrants is one of the challenges the Brazilian Catholic Church is facing in recent months. Most Venezuelans arrive in the country along the border of Pacaraima, in the state of Roraima, a situation that continues, despite the border being closed. The diocese of Roraima is one of the main centers that receive and welcome these migrants.In recent months the project “Paths of solidarity” has been created, in which the work of Caritas, together with other institutions of the local Church, is fundamental. In other places in Brazil, various parishes, schools, religious congregations are offering to welcome these migrants and offer them alternatives to help them in their lives.Solidarity towards migrantsOne of these experiences is that of the parish of Santa Marta and Santa Paula, in the city of Leme, diocese of Limeira, State of São Paulo. In the statements sent to Fides News Agency by Caritas Roraima, the attitude of the parish priest, Father Isaiah Daniel, who contacted Mgr. Mario Antonio da Silva, Bishop of Roraima, emerges to see how the parish can show solidarity towards Venezuelan migrants.This attitude can serve as an example to dialogue with other requests of public power and local networks, in order to be able to support the Venezuelan family that is welcomed by the parish. Caritas Roraima emphasizes that this experience shows that from parishes, experiences can be realized that transform the lives of concrete people.At the same time, Caritas Roraima expects this type of attitude to lead more dioceses and parishes throughout the country to take on this type of initiative, which until now is not common in many Brazilian dioceses.In this sense, Mgr. Mario Antonio da Silva, in a letter sent to his confreres in the Episcopate, recently highlighted how the commitment that the Bishops themselves made during the 2018 General Assembly is put into practice: to be in solidarity with the many Venezuelan families in Roraima.WhatsApp <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> SharePrintlast_img read more