From Dusk ’til Dawn in Namibia

From Dusk ’til Dawn in Namibia

Namibia is a country which takes hold of your heart and doesn’t let go. If you’ve been there once, there is a good chance you want to go back again and again.

I have been lucky to work in Namibia as an associate consultant with many local teams since 1999 and last week I was back to facilitate strategy sessions in Windhoek for the Meat Board of Namibia and Standard Bank Namibia. It was hard work from morning, through some nights, to morning, but fruitful and productive.

The one session was held at River Crossing Lodge – close to the city, yet it feels completely remote when you are there. I’ve only facilitated here twice and not yet experienced the accommodation, but it is well run, the service is attentive, the food is good and the setting is spectacular.

Namibia at dusk; Hosea Kutako airport; Namibia at dawn

Namibia at dusk (view towards Windhoek from River Crossing Lodge); Hosea Kutako airport; Namibia at dawn

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Impressions of Kinshasa

Impressions of Kinshasa

On 1-3 April 2014 two related but separate conferences were held at the Grand Hôtel in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC):

  • “Convening the Africa LEDS Partnership” was held on April 1st as a natural progression of the LEDS Global Partnership and LEDS regional partnerships in Asia and Latin America.
  • “Pathways to Green Growth in Africa” hosted by the Green Growth Knowledge Platform took place on April 2nd and 3rd and aimed to facilitate knowledge exchange and foster synergies across the region on green growth approaches and practices.

I represented the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA) at these events to explore further networking opportunities for SARUA’s planned research clusters and capacity development networks with other regional and global organisations and partners – you can read my previous blog post on the Capacity Development Programme for Climate Change here.

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The rise of an entrepreneurial niche? Japan’s unique bakeries

The rise of an entrepreneurial niche? Japan’s unique bakeries

I recently travelled to Japan for holiday – a country which, depending who you speak to, can conjure up anything from images of sushi to technology to anime to nuclear catastrophes to controversial whaling practices. It was my third visit and I was once again reminded of how difficult it is to “get to know” another country, culture or its people, while only being exposed very briefly to the (tourist) tip of their lives. Understanding is a complex activity and in a country with as many stimulations, but also unspoken rules that govern everyday behaviour, it is even more so.

The one theme I found intriguing was what seems to be a strongly emerging entrepreneurial culture among young people, specifically in services, food and hospitality.

Japan’s bakery culture is the stuff of salivating tales and recollections of the ubiquitous panya, literally bread shops. What I found very interesting in buying daily goods from these small independent bakeries was the youth demographic. A large percentage of the small bakeries we bought from in Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kagoshima and Takamatsu, were run by 20-something Japanese. What I want to know is whether they are owner/managers, or employees only?

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SARUA mapping study overview

At the start of October 2013 the HEMA Consortium hosted the final of 12 in-country workshops as part of the SARUA Climate Change Counts mapping study. The workshop was very well attended thanks to the efforts of the host institution, Zimbabwe Open University. The university published some videos from the workshop on Youtube.

The full playlist of videos is available here:

My overview of the SARUA mapping study:

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SARUA Climate Change Counts – an overview

SARUA Climate Change Counts – an overview

Since December 2012 I have been the project manager for a mapping study to kick-start a five year Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA) Capacity Development for Climate Change programme. The study is supported by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), the SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme (REEP) and SARUA member institutions. It is conducted by a team of climate change, development and higher education experts who are working together as the Higher Education Management Africa (HEMA) Consortium.

Read my blog post highlighting the objectives of the programme and our mapping study activities over the last 10 months. The CDKN Africa page can be found here.

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