Africa Grantmakers Blog

promoting increased & more effective funding in Africa

African Philanthropy -AGN Meets in South Africa

The African Grantmakers Network is holding its second conference in Johannesburg.  It is exciting to see such a mix of philanthropy organizations gathererd in one place.  The fact that national and international networks are present denies the question that there is no philanthropy sector in Africa.

The conference is being streamed live, so check it out.

Mobile Apps in Africa.

There is a lot of talk about technology and how we can use it. What kind of technology growth is happening in African countries?

Spotlight on Africa: The Future Starts Here” is a short video on mobile use and growth in Africa by the Praekelt Foundation that builds open source, scalable mobile technologies and solutions to improve the health and well being of people living in poverty. They have programs in 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Foundation also has another good video  “Did You Know: Mobile Stats for Africa” that skips the commentary of the “Spotlight”  video and just presents the facts.

(What did we ever do before YouTube?)


The debate about how best to support development efforts in Africa is a rich one with a range of perspectives and opinions but at its center is the concept of partnership. The wonderful thing about philanthropy is that there are ample opportunities for working at various levels of scale.

First Peoples World Wide just announced a partnership with Citizen Effect to help them identify projects for their “citizen philanthropists.” One of the great things about this partnership is the learning that can take place about the issues facing indigenous communities. First People World Wide believes that having control over their assets is the most important way to strengthen indigenous communities.

Communication technology and the Internet gives us access to information about how our fellow citizens are living on this planet. Mutual respect and understanding is an important part of philanthropy that is often ignored in pursuit of solutions.  I like this idea of citizen philanthropists and partnerships that can leverage knowledge and resources.

A good source of information on issues affecting indigenous communities is the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs.   They have resources on various regions including Africa. including Albert Kwokwo Barume’s book, Land Rights of Indigenous People in Africa.”

There are lots of interesting things going on as part of the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC.  The Cradle Project is an art installation that calls attention to the nearly 12 million children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. While most of the cradles are now in private collections, twenty-one cradles are on display  at the Washington Studio School.  Take time to visit it.   These cradles are powerful images that evoke feelings of sadness at the loss of so many young lives to HIV/AIDS and of hope for those who will escape infection and live healthy lives.

  • Filed under: Art, Health
  • Asha-Rose Migiro has been appointed as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.  This dynamic women from Tanzania is a lawyer and has served as Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.  Check out one of her presentations at the UN.

    According to UNAIDS,  In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people newly infected with HIV fell from 2.2 million [1.9 million–2.4 million] people in 2001 to 1.8 million [1.6 million–2.0 million] in 2009. And, in 22 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the HIV incidence rate declined by more than 25% between 2001 and 2009.  But despite this good news,  women remain the hardest hit and in nearly all countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of people living with HIV are women, especially girls and women aged 15-24. In South Africa, HIV prevalence among women aged 20-24 is approximately 21%, compared to about 7% among men in the same age range. (source: UNAIDS Global Report)

    The International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC next week will bring together many of the world’s leaders and activists with the theme “Turning the Tide Together.”  There is a lot going on at this historic and important event. i

    If you can’t be there, you can check out the webcast.  For those working in philanthropy, Funders Concerned About AIDS has published  a “Funders Guide to AIDS 2012.”   Check it out.



  • Filed under: Gender, Health
  • India and Africa

    These two article regarding India’s engagement with Africa caught my eye.  As we live in a more global world and the diaspora community expands, will more engagement by India into Africa mean more engagement of Indian philanthropy?

    India targets $ 40 bn trade with West Africa by 2015
    Economic Times –
    ACCRA (GHANA): India looks to double the trade with West African nations to $ 40 billion by 2015, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said today. Sharma, who is leading a 200-member Ficci delegation here for ‘India Show’, said the West African …

    The race to build in Africa
    Business Standard ‎
    Indian aid to Africa is mostly focused on capacity building and knowledge sharing. Total aid to Africa during 2011-2012 was Rs 150 crore ($27.5 million), quite a contrast to just Rs 10 crore in 1997-98. Trade between India and Africa has increased from …

    Africa literature is so rich and diverse.  It was the Ambiguous Adventure written by the Senegalese author Cheikh Hamidou Kane, (I read the translation by Katherine Woods) that first captured my attention.  Soyinka, Okri, Ba, and Okorafor are some of my favorites.

    Each year the Caine Prize for African Writing recognizes a writer.  This year Rotimi Babatunde won for his short story Bombay’s Republic, the story of a Nigeria soldier working in the Burma war of WWII.   You can download the story and read it.   I highly recommend it — and some of the previous winners as well.

  • Filed under: Culture- Music
  • understanding Africa through its music……

    If the music of Africa is part of your passion and you are looking for one place where you can explore and learn, then you have to bookmark the website of Afropop WorldWide. They have a new website with a great design.  Founder Sean Barlow, somehow magically makes all of this happen from his modest offices in Brooklyn, New York.

    I can lose myself on the website very easily, checking out familiar artists as well as new ones.  The HIPDEEP project is a series of programs placing music in the broader context of culture as both reflecting culture and serving as its repository. And if you are lucky enough to live in New York, be sure to check out the opportunities to listen to African music live.

    And for those in the Academy, the project includes interviews with scholars.  One of my favorites is “A Tango with Robert Farris Thompson,” the noted African scholar from Yale.  My copy of Thompson’ s 1964 book, Flash of the Spirit,  is falling apart from years of reading, highlighting, and notes in the margin.

    AfoPop WorldWide can be heard weekly on National Public Radio.

    reality radio and development

    As part of celebrating its 100 year anniversary, the Rockefeller Foundation has announced the winners of its 2012 Innovation Challenge.  The ideas range from encouraging and supporting youth involvement in agriculture, to more efficient use of water, to access to data to help improve services in poor communities.

    As part of the reality show format that appears to appeal to everyone, one of the winners, Mobido Coulibaly from Mali will create “FarmQuest,” a reality radio show where young people compete over a year to create the best new farm out of a small plot of land.

    I must admit that I am a big radio listener and it is always playing in the background in my office.  I wouldn’t mind following that reality radio show myself!

    For more information about the range of ideas that the Rockefeller Foundation has supported, check out the Centennial website.  Interesting reading.

    Yes, life is about choices and the choices that have to made in light of the economic impact on philanthropy can be hard to understand.  On June 28th we join forces with our colleague organization, Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) to sponsor a discussion of  “Philanthropy and the Global Fund – A Funders’ Briefing.”

    It is a timely discussion not only because of the international AIDS conference in Washington, DC but also because of the changes in how the Global Fund is supporting efforts to address the impact of HIV/AIDS in local communities.  Topics will include the status of the Global Fund, overview of its impact over the past ten year, opportunities for private philanthropic involvement, and advocacy activities.

    In a January 2012 Open Society Foundations blog,”Why Are the World Leaders Turning Their Backs on Africa?” Stephen Lewis, Co-Founder / Co-Director of AIDS-Free World talked about the move by the Global Fund to cancel the application for new proposals.  He calls upon African leaders to help fill the gap in funding for the Global Fund and also notes the moral obligation to help those with infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.

    In a May 2012 OSF blog, “Less Money, More Problems,” Laura Lopez Gonzales talks about the impact when pledges fall short and research by the OSF in Swaziland, Malawi, and Zimbabwe about the impact of this decision on organizations that had planned to apply for Global Fund funding.

    Both are very informative about the choices the Global Fund has made and the impact. Hard choices.