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Women must redesign the table, and not just expect to be at the table – Graça Machel

Women must redesign the table, and not just expect to be at the table – Graça Machel

One of Africa’s foremost advocates for the rights of women and children, Graça Machel has called on women and policy makers to challenge gender inequality and inadequate female representation in the continent’s business and economic, political and policy space.

“Africa’s socio-economic transformation will only be realized once we aggressively address gender-specific challenges, prioritize gender equality and women’s participation, and firmly entrench women in leadership positions at all levels in society,” Machel remarked.

“African women need to be in the driving seat of national discourse…women need to be at the centre of our economies,” Machel said. “They must also pro-actively seek to correct the status quo.”

Machel spoke during the 22nd Eminent Speakers’ Lecture of the African Development Institute held at the Babacar N’diaye Auditorium in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Her address was titled: “Educating the Girl Child, Empowering Women, and Enhancing Female Entrepreneurship in Africa”.

“We have a remainder of 45 years to achieve the goals which we have set out for ourselves in Agenda 2063. Within these 45 years is a lifespan of an entire generation of young girls who will grow to become active citizens whose potential must be unlocked. To ensure that we achieve the goals for our development by 2063 we need to fully invest in and optimize of the continent’s other half which for too long has been neglected: the African female!” Machel said to a packed hall filled with development experts, Abidjan-based diplomats, members of the Southern African community in Cote d’Ivoire, students from Ivorian secondary and tertiary institutions, the media, management and staff of the African Development Bank.

The former freedom fighter who was also Mozambique’s first Education and Culture Minister, following the country’s independence in 1975, also called for increased investments in education, especially girl child education, agriculture and nutrition.

She remarked that, “Investing in education from early childhood has a lasting effect on the survival, development, protection and active participation of children in social, economic and political activities. Knowing what we know, we must demand that governments fully meet their commitments to the investment in education.”

Education transforms the lives of individuals, communities and nations and is a prerequisite for sustainable development, Machel said, emphasizing that, “Education, particularly for girls, is a catalyst for reducing child and maternal deaths and lifting people out of poverty.”

She observed that Africa as a whole has no meaningful development of an Early Child Development (ECD) system and that World Bank estimates paint a dire situation for investments in ECD in Sub Saharan Africa. “Nations in the region devote just 2 percent of education budgets to pre-primary education and early childhood development programs. This small percentage is committed in the face of overwhelming evidence that an additional dollar invested in quality early childhood programs yields a return of between $6 dollars and $17 dollars,” she said.

National spending commitments in education and Early Child Development systems in Africa vary widely, with Zambia and Central African Republic allocating just 1 percent of their GDP to education, according to Save the Children International and The Africa Policy Forum. And average spending across Africa has almost stagnated at around 4 percent of GDP over the past two decades or more.

There is therefore an urgent need for a joint coalition of the private and public sectors collaborating with civil society organisations to design and develop programs that address this scenario, Machel said, even as she sought for increased oversight of investment in human capital from Africa’s foremost development finance institution.

“While the African Development Bank is doing a good job leveraging its might, it still needs to exert pressure on governments and private sector partners to encourage investment in nutrition and ECD, as well as allocate its own resources to help build these building blocks of Africa’s human capital. What good is your power and influence as the AfDB if you are not leveraging your ability to truly impact change on the continent at the most fundamental of levels?”

Machel is Chair of the Graca Machel Trust. Founded in 2010, the Trust advocates for women’s economic and financial empowerment, food security and nutrition, education for all, as well as good governance. She is the widow of the former South African President Nelson Mandela and former Mozambican President Samora Machel.

According to African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, Graça Machel is an African political leader whose decades-long professional and public life is rooted in Mozambique’s struggle for self-rule and international advocacy for women and children’s rights. “We can think of no better Eminent Speaker to share insight on this topic than Your Excellency, Madam Graca Machel,” Adesina said in his welcome remarks.

Machel was honoured by Adesina as the first Kofi A. Annan Eminent Persons Speaker, the new name of the Bank’s African Development Institute’s Eminent Speaker Series.


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Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.