Women rule in Rwanda


Isabelle Alenus-Crosby

Last week, the ruling party in Rwanda won a resounding victory in their parliamentary elections. This surprised no one. What surprised everyone was that during the last election Rwandan women won a 56% representation in the Lower House and that this number has now leapt to a staggering 64%.

Female politicians are consistently beating their male counterparts in openly-contested seats making Rwanda the world’s only parliament where women form a majority. Women are very much underrepresented in almost every national parliament around the world, so what makes Rwanda different?

1) By law, women in Rwanda must have at least 30% of the seats in government, including local government. This is President Kagame’s brainchild, seeking to end the blatant inequality between the sexes still typical across the whole of Africa.

2) The Rwandan population is 60% female. If you compare this to China, where there will be approximately 30 million more men than women by 2020, it makes sense that the Chinese parliament has less women and that the Rwandan parliament has more.

3) Since 1994, Rwandan women have been at the forefront of rebuilding the nation and are now being rewarded for it.

In a vote of confidence, the US government agreed recently to ratify a new trade pact with Rwanda, without questions asked. Rwandan women are obviously doing something very right.


Currency in Africa


With investors increasingly bullish on Africa, the time should be ripe for African central banks to come up with a long-term view on exchange rate policies.

Stable exchange rate regimes are essential to ensure competitiveness and to continuously attract foreign capital. This is precisely why African countries began liberalising their foreign exchange regimes in the 1990s and that the difference between the official and parallel exchange rates became minimal relatively quickly.

Another direct result is that two decades on we are witnessing improved growth rates as well as per capita income across most of Africa. With more investors looking at the continent every day, a long-term view on exchange rate policies might become crucial to entice the more reluctant among them and reduce the lingering anti-export bias. Many structural reforms are already in place clearing the way for exchange rate liberalization.

A stronger foreign exchange regime should additionally encourage increased domestic investment. Domestic investment is necessary to create employment, which is not growing quickly enough in Africa according to the IMF (2012) . This is one of the reasons that African leaders all agreed on the establishment of a continental free trade area during the last African Union Summit. Intra-African trade definitely needs to be boosted in order to maintain the continent’s current (and stellar) growth. The reason that exchange rate policies are top of the African Union’s list for next year’s summit is a clear sign that everything is coming together quite nicely.

Africa is after all “on the brink of an economic take-off, much like China was 30 years ago” (World Bank 2011).


Advice to Graduates wishing to pursue a career in PR


The good news is that according to the IDS (Income Data Services) there is an 8% increase in the number of graduate roles being advertised this year.  Last year it had pretty much flat lined at 0.1%.  So the tide is definitely turning and we’re certainly feeling it here at Gong. Our numbers have more than doubled in less than a year.  A third of our new starters were graduates.  Our international client base and the expansion of Gong Creative, has allowed us to stretch upwards and outwards.

However, there remain 2.49 million unemployed people in the UK and last year 1 in 10 graduates were still unemployed 6 months after graduating.  We have a way to go yet.  CV’s and covering letters have never been more important.

Much of my time is spent going through these CV’s.  Here are my top 5 tips-

1. Research – Dig deep into agency websites and research thoroughly the company you wish to approach.  If you can drop in a subtle one liner, something you’ve noticed, or are interested in, or impressive company stats/achievements this will show you have done your homework and impress potential employers.

2. Covering letter – this should detail, a little about you, why we should employ you and what attracted you to us, keep it brief, informative and relevant.

3. CV’s -should be no more than 2 pages.  Make sure the layout is clear and sectioned off neatly, so that if someone is scanning through it, they can find information fast.

4. Internships – do as many as you can.  You can’t beat office experience.  Internships have become an elongated  ‘interview process’, they’re a fantastic way for you to gain experience and re-confirm your career path.  As an employer, it gives us the chance to see how you work and fit in, so make the most of it, be keen and get stuck in.

5. Stay in touch, link up with everyone and stay in touch via the usual social media networks. Generate a strong presence out there, keep it up to date, but be mindful of your output.

These may sound painfully obvious, but very rarely are such simple guidelines followed.  If you’re interested in joining the team I’d be delighted to hear from you.  Gong continues to grow both in London and internationally, particularly E. Africa and the US.  We have a wonderfully diverse culture in our London office alone, 50% of our employees are non-Brits and between us we have a huge array of skills, languages, experience and creativity to bring to the table.  For more information please go to our ‘about us’ page and get in touch Frankie@gongcomms.wpengine.com


What has the G20 in St. Petersburg (Sept 5-6, 2013) meant for Africa?


Isabelle Alenus-Crosby

Africa may have only one seat at the G20 table (South Africa), but the continent accounts for 14% of the global population.

And not only does it represent the largest untapped source of oil, gas and minerals, but also the world’s most rapidly growing consumer market. These are all rather significant statistics. It therefore came as quite a shock when Oxfam announced that Africa had lost more in tax revenue over the last 30 years than it gained in development aid.

Such an issue can only be dealt with on a global scale and such a perspective is precisely what the G20 provides. Although initially much attention was on Syria, a global tax reform seems to have been discussed at length on day 2. Various media outlets have reported that G20 leaders endorsed the idea that countries should exchange information in order to catch tax evaders.

If transparent beneficial ownership is enforced, then the use of tax havens, shell companies, and multi-layered company structures will become illegal. Properly designed and effectively implemented these global reforms will benefit Africa in particular by making available a fairer share of revenues which could have enormous consequences (such as an end to development aid). In addition, companies doing business in Africa will benefit from predictable business environments, with much clearer regulation.

Let’s hope that the implementation process will be done swiftly.


Running the Numbers: Chinese Social Media and Dangote Industries


Tom Griffiths

Last week, we at Gong were treated to a lunchtime talk by Jonathan Smith of Hot Pot Digital. Jonathan runs a bespoke service, representing a number of the UK’s brands on Chinese social media sites like Sina’s Weibo (China’s Twitter-equivalent in both micro-blog format and number of users). His talk raised a question in my mind: what share of voice does African business news have on Chinese social media channels, as compared with Twitter?

China-Africa trade receives a lot of attention, both positive and negative, in English and French social media. Simply search for the words “China” and “Nigeria” on Twitter and receive a stream of news, statistics and viewpoints. This is of little surprise given China’s perceived importance in many of Africa’s economies. I was interested if a similar ‘conversation’ exists on Weibo.

The story I decided to test my hypothesis on was this week’s news that Dangote Industries, a Nigerian Conglomerate, intends to invest US$9billion in building the country’s biggest oil refinery along with petrochemical and fertiliser plants. Dangote Industries’ founder, Aliko Dangote, announced that his company will be putting up US$3 billion and seeking US$6 billion in loan capital.

My admittedly less than rigorous method of investigation was to compare mentions of “Dangote” on Twitter with mentions of “Dān gē tè (丹格特)” on Weibo over the 5th of September. Before going into the findings I would like to note that I recognise Twitter is widely used in Nigeria when compared with Weibo. I have looked at geo-tagged tweets from users outside of Nigeria to try to negate this bias however I realise any findings were always going to be heavily weighted towards Twitter.

The results: Weibo had only two posts that mentioned the story. Both simply stated the facts without commentary and provided a link to a longer write up. Both posts were made by petroleum industry trade publication’s Twitter accounts. Twitter, on the other hand, held a huge number of tweets on the news. Many of these came from Nigeria, however there were also many hundreds from Kenya, the US, Britain and Indonesia. Most tweets simply restated the facts, however a number commented on the potential job creation of the new factories.

The results were striking, even with the obvious bias in the experiment: 2 Weibo posts compared with thousands of tweets. It seems that the new Nigerian refinery just wasn’t a talking point on Weibo, despite the resource trade between China and Africa being so well publicised. However, as many African countries’ economies rise, will we see an increase in discussions on African business on Weibo?

It would be interesting to repeat the test on a piece of news that directly involves both China and an African country: an experiment for a later day.