Phnom Penh

Introduction

Phnom Penh formerly known as Krong Chaktomuk Serimongkul or shortly known as Krong Chaktomuk is the capital and most populous city in Cambodia. It lies at the confluence of the Basăk , Sab, and Mekong river systems, in the south-central part of the country. Phnom Penh has been the national capital since French colonization of Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation’s economic, industrial, and cultural center.

Once known as the «Pearl of Asia,» it was considered one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina in the 1920s. Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, are significant global and domestic tourist destinations for Cambodia. Founded in 1372, the city is noted for its historical architecture and attractions. It became the national capital in 1434 following the fall of Angkor, and remained so until 1497.

It regained its capital status during the French colonial era in 1865. There are a number of surviving French colonial buildings scattered along the grand boulevards. On the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong, and Bassac Rivers, Phnom Penh is home to more than 2 million people, approximately 14% of the Cambodian population.

Data and Facts

  • For 2016, Phnom Penh ranks as the 118th costliest city for newly relocated citizens, up 24 places from 2015 when Mercer recognized Phnom Penh as the world’s 142nd most expensive city
  • Population density is many times higher within Cambodia’s capital city with an average 21,900 Phnom Penhers per square mile (8,400 per square kilometer)
  • Phnom Penh was named after a Buddhist Temple, Wat Phnom. It has stood high atop their city since the 14th Century. Penh was a real person, too–a nun who played a prominent role in the founding of the city
  • Monsoon season (typically occurring in September and October) can shower Phnom Penh with over 200 inches of rain in a single month
  • The dry season lasts from December to April; when overnight temperatures can drop to 22 °C (72 °F)

Administration

Phnom Penh is a municipality of area 678.46 square kilometres with a government status equal to that of Cambodian provinces. The municipality is divided into 14 administrative divisions called khans . The sections are subdivided into 105 sangkats , and further subdivided into 953 phums . All khans are under the governance of the Phnom Penh Municipality. Dangkao, Meanchey, Porsenchey, Sen Sok and Russei Keo are considered the outskirts of the city. The municipality is governed by the governor who acts as the top executive of the city as well as overseeing the Municipal Military Police, Municipal Police, and Bureau of Urban Affairs. Below the governor is the first vice governor and five vice governors. The chief of cabinet, who holds the same status as the vice governors, heads the cabinet consisting of eight deputy chiefs of cabinet who in turn are in charge of the 27 administrative departments. Every khan also has a chief.

Economy

Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s economic centre as it accounts for a large portion of the Cambodian economy. Double-digit economic growth rates in recent years have triggered an economic boom in Phnom Penh, with new hotels, restaurants, bars, high rises and residential buildings springing up in the city. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism made up 17.5 percent of Cambodia’s GDP in 2009 and accounts for 13.7 percent of total employment. High rise buildings will be constructed at the entrance of the city and near the lakes and riverbanks. Furthermore, new roads, canals, and a railway system will be used to connect Camko City and Phnom Penh.

The economy is based on commercial interests such as garments, trading, and small and medium enterprises. In the past few years the property business has been booming, with rapidly increasing real estate prices. Tourism is also a major contributor in the capital as more shopping and commercial centres open, making Phnom Penh one of the major tourist destinations in the country along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. The Bureau of Urban Affairs of Phnom Penh Municipality has plans to expand and construct new infrastructure to accommodate the growing population and economy. High rise buildings will be constructed at the entrance of the city and near the lakes and riverbanks. Furthermore, new roads, canals, and a railway system will be used to connect Camko City and Phnom Penh.

With booming economic growth seen since the 1990s, new shopping venues have opened: Sorya Center Point, Aeon Mall Phnom Penh, Aeon Mall Sen Sok City, Olympia Mall, and Parkson Mall . Many international brands have opened such as Mango, Salvatore Ferragamo, Hugo Boss, Padini Concept Store, Lily, Timberland, Jimmy Choo, CC Double O, MO, Brands Outlet, Nike, Converse, Pony, Armani Exchange, and Super Dry. The tallest skyscraper in Phnom Penh is Vattanac Capital Tower at a height of 188 metres , dominating Phnom Penh’s skyline with its neighbour skyscraper Canadia Tower. The tower was topped out in May 2012 and was completed in late-2014.

Business Environment

Over the past few years, Phnom Penh has undergone tremendous changes. Numerous businesses have sprung up and tourism is booming. Cambodia introduced liberal investment laws to attract foreign investors. The number of restaurants and hotels have grown considerably and there had been a huge increase in the number of visitors.

Much of the development that has taken places has been rather haphazard and shoddy. In recent years an effort has been made to control development and preserve the character of historical central area. In the late 1990s, $5 million was spent on improving the storm drains, sewers and street lighting.

To relieve traffic congestion and make the roads safer, city officials in the early 2000s: 1) re-engineered the roads to make them traffic flow more smoothly; 2) embarked on an aggressive campaign to crack down on illegal driving; 3) encouraged more people to take public transportation; urged rickshaw drivers to use the side streets so they didn’t disrupt traffic; and introduced separate lanes for buses, motorbikes, cars and pedestrians so they didn’t interfere with one another. The impact of the effort however was unable to keep pace with influx of vehicles that descended on the city.

Additionally in the early 2000s, Phnom Penh was given a serious sprucing up when it hosted a major ASEAN meeting that was attended by U.S. The Chinese community has grown considerably in recent years. There are now lots of Chinese restaurants and signs in Chinese almost outnumber those in Thai. Though the city is located 120 miles away from the sea, its proximity to the Mekong river valley makes it an ideal port – connecting the landlocked region to the South China Sea via Vietnam by the Hau Giang channel of the Mekong Delta. Phnom Penh is home to 1.5 million people, and serves as a major global and domestic tourist destination in Cambodia. Khmer, the most popular and official language of the country is the main language; English and French are also widely spoken.

Since the end of Cambodia’s civil war in 1975, the city has undergone rapid development in terms of infrastructure. The city has four main national highways and three rail lines that connect it to the main seaport at Sihanoukville . The highways radiates out to other parts of Cambodia and its neighboring countries – Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.

Phnom Penh International Airport is well connected with popular cities in the region, such as Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City and regional hubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Domestically, too, it is well connected – Phnom Penh has direct and frequent flights to Siem Reap, the main tourist gateway to the ancient Khmer ruins of Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Cambodia’s economy has grown remarkably in the past few years, with an annual growth rate averaging more than 7 percent between 2012 and 2016. Some of the key incentives include corporate income tax exemption of up to nine years, exemption from import duty on materials and equipment used in production, investment protection agreements with the world’s leading economies, freedom from price control, as well as free remittance of foreign currency. Besides, export-oriented manufacturers can access preferential treatment under ASEAN’s Free Trade Agreements to explore Asian markets and increase competitiveness.

Since foreign nationals cannot own land in Cambodia, SEZs offer them an opportunity to develop, or sub-lease plots with up to 50 years of renewable leases. This gives businesses more flexibility in organizing their factory activities over a long period of time.

Phnom Penh’s is the country’s economic center, accounting for a large share of the Cambodian economy. The city, along with its neighboring provinces, serve as the most industrially developed area in the country – in terms of labor force and infrastructure. Phnom Penh specializes in light labor-intensive industries such as garments and footwear, food and beverage, and consumer products.

The Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone , established in 2006, holds the key to the city’s economic growth and development. The SEZ is strategically located between Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City at the center of the East-West Economic Corridor that links Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar. The economic zone serves as a manufacturing hub for over 77 export-oriented companies that produce a diverse range of products. These include companies manufacturing mechanical and electrical products, garments and shoes, pharmaceutical products, consumer products, as well as pharmaceutical, packaging, and logistics companies.

Over the years, with the opening up of its economy and a stable political environment, several other industries have mushroomed in Phnom Penh. A number of shopping centers, hotels, and commercial centers have opened up, making real estate a lucrative business in the city.

Infrastructure

Phnom Penh International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in Cambodia. It is seven kilometres west of central Phnom Penh. The airport is connected to the city center by taxi, train, and shuttle bus.Cambodia’s national flag carrier, Cambodia Angkor Air, launched in 2009, is headquartered in Phnom Penh and has its main hub there, with an additional hub at the Angkor International Airport. Air France used to serve Phnom Penh from Paris-Charles de Gaulle but this service has since stopped. Qatar Airways now flies to and from Phnom Penh, via Ho Chi Minh City. There are numerous bus companies, including Phnom Penh Public Transport and GST Express, running services to most provincial capitals, including Sihanoukville, Kampong Chhnang, Oudong and Takéo. Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Co. offers bus service to several provincial destinations along the National Routes and to Ho Chi Minh City. Giant Ibis is another bus company based in Phnom Penh, which travels to Sihanoukville, Kampot, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh, and has free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and modest pricing.

The city is Cambodia’s main freshwater port, a major port on the Mekong River. It is linked to the South China Sea, 290 kilometres distant, via a channel of the Mekong in Vietnam. Phnom Penh is served by three air conditioned bus lines. The city is now served by three bus lines, operated by the Phnom Penh municipal government. Private transportation within the city include the cycle rickshaw, known in Khmer as “cyclo”, the motorcycle taxi known in Khmer as «moto», the auto rickshaw known locally as “tuk-tuk”, the trailer attached to a motorcycle taxi known in Khmer as «remorque», and the standard automobile taxicab known in Khmer as “taxi”. Private forms of transportation used by locals include bicycles, motorbikes, and cars. Water supply in Phnom Penh has improved dramatically in terms of access, service quality, efficiency, cost recovery and governance between 1993 and 2006. The number of customers has increased ninefold, service quality has improved from intermittent to continuous supply, water losses have been cut dramatically and the city’s water utility went from being bankrupt to making a modest profit. These achievements were recognized through international awards such as the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award and the 2010 Stockholm Industry Water Award.

Technology

Cambodia is pursuing its transformation from a post-conflict state into a market economy. Growth averaged 6.4% per year between 2007 and 2012 and the poverty rate shrank from 48% to 19% of the population, according to the Asian Development Bank’s Country Partnership Strategy 2014–2018.Cambodia exports mainly garments and products from agriculture and fisheries but is striving to diversify the economy. There is some evidence of expansion in value-added exports from a low starting point, largely thanks to the manufacture of electrical goods and telecommunications by foreign multinationals implanted in the country. Between 2008 and 2013, high-tech exports climbed from just US$3.8million to US$76.5 million.In 2014, the country adopted its Cambodia Vision 2030, which aims to turn Cambodia into an upper-middle economy by 2030. In 2015, it adopted its Industrial Development Policy 2015–2025.Cambodia is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations , which formed a common market in late 2015 called the ASEAN Economic Community. The planned removal of restrictions on the cross-border movement of people and services is expected to spur cooperation in science and technology. The greater mobility of skilled personnel should be a boon for the region and enhance the role of the ASEAN University Network, which counted 30 members in 2016, including the Royal University of Phnom Penh.International and civil wars decimated Cambodia’s scientific capacity in the 1970s. More recently, Cambodia has been held back by the limited co-ordination of science and technology across ministries and the absence of any overarching national strategy for science and development. A National Committee for Science and Technology representing 11 ministries has been in place since 1999. Although seven ministries are responsible for the country’s 33 public universities, the majority of these institutions come under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Support.In 2010, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Support approved a Policy on Research Development in the Education Sector. This move represented a first step towards a national approach to research and development across the university sector and the application of research for the purposes of national development.This policy was followed by the country’s first National Science and Technology Master Plan 2014–2020. It was officially launched by the Ministry of Planning in December 2014, as the culmination of a two-year process supported by the Korea International Cooperation Agency. The plan makes provision for establishing a science and technology foundation to promote industrial innovation, with a particular focus on agriculture, primary industry and ICTs.The large foreign firms in Cambodia that are the main source of value-added exports tend to specialize in electrical machinery and télécommunications. The principal task for science and technology policy will be to facilitate spillovers from these large operators towards smaller firms and across other sectors like agriculture, in order to strengthen the technical capacity of these smaller firms.There is little evidence that the Law on Patents, Utility Model Certificates and Industrial Designs has been of practical use, thus far, to any but the larger foreign firms operating in Cambodia. One strategic policy issue will be how to align NGO research support on national strategic plans for development.

The Internet penetration in Cambodia has increased rapidly . From small businesses to large organisations, the backbone of their daily operation demands fast, yet reliable Internet connection.In January 2017, a new startup accelerator and incubator will be opened in the heart of Phnom Penh. Trybe is going to be a place where people make, do, and share. A maker-space, a co-working space, startup focal point all in one. With these startup communities continue grow like mushrooms in rainy season, Phnom Penh is becoming a charming city of startups. A more premium class work space is just a few walks away from Wat Phnom: Rain Tree Development. «Nurturing entrepreneur spirits falls within our core values. We’ve been working with Impact Hub and Tekhub since the beginning,» Vireak Ouk, SINET’s Chief Operating Officer, told me recently.Cambodian tech startups don’t, at this point in time, really have the kind of support from the government like in Singapore or even Thailand and Vietnam. The main challenge facing the startup people here is: to change the mindset of the users . For example, even a successful startup that can build the best tech platform with a lot of payment methods, local customers are not willing to take the risk.

But more could be done to bring Southeast Asia’s tech boom to Cambodia. Both established IT firms and tech startups would benefit from more foreign direct investment, more foreign venture capital, and closer ties with regional tech hubs.

Drawing the big tech firms to Cambodia would help Cambodian startups solve the complex programming and engineering challenges they face in bringing products to market. To make these things happen, the government, private sector, and Cambodia’s international partners need to work together. Based on my 30 years of experience in economic development, I see four important jobs ahead. Cambodia’s tech scene is built on a couple of key strengths. Information technology programmes in Cambodian universities are improving in quality and are producing better trained graduates every year. More than two dozen co-working spaces, incubators, and innovation labs are providing critical early support to tech entrepreneurs. Singapore is a centre for venture capital and, increasingly, artificial intelligence. Indonesia is a major player in the e-marketplace and service sector.

There is no reason why Cambodia could not become a leader in its own niche – but identifying that niche and tailoring specific support for it will require close cooperation between Cambodia’s private sector and the government. Uber’s launch in Phnom Penh last month shows the impact of effective government-industry cooperation. Uber is the world’s most valuable tech startup but has had growing pains in many markets. Thanks to strong cooperation with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Cambodia now has the most forward-thinking regulatory framework for ridesharing in Asia. This framework should lead to strong growth in Cambodia’s ridesharing market as Uber’s competitors also look at the market.

Technology is different than manufacturing, construction and other traditional economic sectors. The capital requirements for startups are much lower, especially at the beginning. Tech entrepreneurs tend to be young, creative, collaborative, and very international.The lesson of Silicon Valley and other technology centres is that the best way to grow a dynamic tech sector is to send a clear signal that startups and tech entrepreneurs are welcome, focus government efforts on strengthening the indirect building blocks for the sector, and to let the creative process develop on its own. After Singapore, Cambodia already has the most welcoming business environment in the region. And the startup sector doesn’t need direct financial support from the government at this time. But the government could send a welcoming signal to international investors if it consulted with the tech industry and announced a targeted programme to support startups and the tech sector. This programme could be structured along the lines of Thailand’s «Thailand 4.0» programme or Vietnam’s «Vietnam Silicon Valley» initiative. For the next few years, Cambodia’s tech sector and market for new technologies may be too small to draw in the largest tech companies.

Social Wellness and Human Resources

As of 2019, Phnom Penh had a population of 2,129,371 people, with a total population density of 3,136 inhabitants per square kilometre in a 679 square kilometres city area. The population growth rate of the city is 3.92%. The city area has grown fourfold since 1979, and the metro area will continue to expand in order to support the city’s growing population and economy.

Phnom Penh is mostly inhabited by Cambodians . They represent 90% of the population of the city. More than 90% of the people in Phnom Penh are Buddhists. Chams have been practicing Islam for hundreds of years. Since 1993, there has also been an increase in the practice of Christianity which was practically wiped out after 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took over. The official language is Khmer, but English and French are widely used in the city. The number of slum-inhabitants at the end of 2012 was 105,771, compared with 85,807 at the start of 2012.

Phnom Penh also has its own dialect of Khmer. Phnom Penh is also known for its influence on New Khmer Architecture. Phnom Penh is notable for Ka tieu Phnom Penh, its variation on rice noodle soup, a dish available in sit-down cafes as well as street cafes. Music and the arts are making a revival throughout Cambodia, especially in Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh currently hosts a number of music events throughout the city. ‘Indie’ bands have grown in number due also in part to the emergence of private music schools such as SoundsKool Music , and Music Arts School. The two most visited museums in the city are the National Museum, which is the country’s leading historical and archaeological museum, and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former Khmer Rouge prison.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phnom_Penh

https://www.britannica.com/place/Phnom-Penh

https://www.travelingeast.com/asia/cambodia/phnom-penh-city-guide/15-interesting-facts-phnom-penh/

https://www.trip.com/blog/things-to-do-in-phnom-penh-cambodia/

http://factsanddetails.com/southeast-asia/Cambodia/sub5_2f/entry-3499.html

https://www.worldscapitalcities.com/capital-facts-for-phnom-penh-cambodia/

https://kids.kiddle.co/Phnom_Penh

https://www.aseanbriefing.com/news/investing-cambodias-phnom-penh/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_and_technology_in_Cambodia

https://tharum.com/blog/cambodia-tech-startups/

A to-do list for Cambodia’s technology sector 

 

Port Louis

Introduction

Port Louis is the largest city and capital of the small island nation Mauritius, which is located in the southwest Indian Ocean. The city had a population of 148,416 people in 2010. Port Louis, located on the northwest coast of the main island, is an important financial services center and tourist destination. Due to tourism and a manufacturing economy based around the port, which includes the production of chemicals, textiles, plastics, and pharmaceuticals, Port Louis is one of the most prosperous African cities.

The history of Port Louis goes back to its founding and settling in the 17th century by Dutch mariners who named it Noordt Wester Haven. In 1736 the French took control of the island and renamed the city after French King Louis XV. The French used Port Louis as a port of call for ships that, on their passage between Asia and Europe, needed to go around the Cape of Good Hope inSouth Africa. The island was also used for sugar production. Enslaved people, imported from Madagascar, were summoned to work on the sugar plantations.

Data and facts

  • Capital landmarks: Citadel Fort Adelaide, Bank of Mauritius Tower, Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre, and Caudan Waterfront Casino.
  • Including municipal city limits plus nearby communities, Port Louis’ land area measures 18 square miles (47 square kilometres) with an estimated population of 149,194 residents in 2015.
  • At the country level, Mauritius has a population equal to 1.3 million inhabitants as of July 2016. The nation’s total land territory is 784 square miles (2,030 square kilometres).
  • Population density is more concentrated within the Mauritian capital city Port Louis with an average of 8,300 inhabitants per square mile (3,200 per square kilometre).
  • For Mauritius overall, population density drops significantly to an average of 1,700 people per square mile (700 per square kilometre).
  • Mauritius won its independence from the United Kingdom on March 12, 1968. Mauritians celebrate each March 12 as their Independence Day alternatively called Republic Day.

Government

Local governance of Port Louis is overseen by a municipal council. The City Council of Port Louis was first established in 1830 and is currently one of five municipal councils responsible for the urban areas in Mauritius, as organized under Local Government Act 2011. Twenty-four councillors are elected democratically to administer the council. Councillors then elect a Lord Mayor and a Deputy Lord Mayor. Functions of the council are performed through Departments of Administration, Finance, Land Use and Planning, Public Infrastructure, Public Health, Welfare, Parks and Gardens, and City Library. Services delivered by the local government include pre-school, kindergarten, and vocational schools, health protection, housing regulation, some road services, refuse collection, cemeteries, some environmental and consumer protection services, and economic promotion activities. Other services are provided to the city by the central government. These include police services through the Mauritius Police Force, which maintains two divisions responsible for the Port Louis area (Metropolitan Divisions North and South). There is also a specific Port Police, composed of the Harbour Police and Bulk Sugar Terminal Police. Their roles include providing security to cargo and facilities in the port area and enforcing laws related to harbor regulations, customs, quarantine, immigration, and drug trafficking.

Economy

The economy is dominated by its port, which handles Mauritius’ international trade. The port was founded by the French who preferred Port Louis as the City is shielded by the Port Louis/Moka mountain range. Manufacturing is dominated by clothing and textiles, but also includes chemicals, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. Tourism is also important. The development of the Caudan Waterfront, central to Port Louis, with shopping and cinema facilities, appeals to tourists visiting the city. Port Louis is home to the biggest port facility in the Indian Ocean region and one of Africa’s major financial centers

Port Louis is the second most important financial center in Africa after Johannesburg. It is the city with the highest per capita income in Africa.

Finance industry

Port Louis is the financial center of Mauritius, which has established itself as safe and trusted location for conducting business due to its strong democracy, political stability, and multilingual population. Located in Port Louis is the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. Also in Port Louis are over ten commercial banks that serve both domestic and offshore clients, insurance companies, pension funds, mutual funds, leasing companies, and foreign exchange dealers. The oldest bank based in Port Louis is the Mauritius Commercial Bank, which was founded in 1838. The Bank of Mauritius is the central bank of the country.  The Bank of Mauritius Tower is the tallest building in the country, Measuring 124 m (407 ft) from ground level.

Business Environment

According to a new World Bank report, Inclusiveness of Growth and Shared Prosperity add that economic growth and declining inequality are equally important for the reduction and possible eradication of poverty in Mauritius.

“I’m sure this report will be an important tool in helping our current efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals, more particularly those aimed at eradicating poverty in all its forms and everywhere,” Prithvirajsing Roopun, Mauritius Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment said in his opening remarks during the report launch.

Infrastructure

Policies designed to upgrade infrastructure, support research, development, and innovation, advance public-sector efficiency, and further improve the business environment are deemed key to boosting productivity, according to a new World Bank report.

Construction for the light rail transit transport system began in the Fall of 2017, with the government of Mauritius awarding the contract to Mumbai-based design and construction firm of Larsen & Toubro. The Mauritius Metro Express is expected to link Port Louis to Rose Hill by September 2019 and the line will be extended until Curepipe by September 2021.

Technology

“In an era where the world is being driven by technology, it is essential that Mauritius, as a small island State, embrace the use of the latest technology and innovation to pave the way forward towards a modern economy” – The Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, made this statement yesterday afternoon during the launching of the I-Council at the District Council of Moka in Quartier Militaire.  The project, I-Council, funded to the tune of about Rs 7 million, is a first of its kind.

Mauritius has achieved the most outstanding Telecom Maturity Index (TMI) in Africa with a score of 49. This comes as a result of massive investment from the government into improving connectivity in the island.

Mauritius Telecom has invested more than Rs 5 billion (approx. US$75m) to roll out fibre across the island, and the project which was expected to be complete in 2020 was way ahead of schedule and saw completion last year. Mauritius is the sixth country in the world with 100% Fiber to the Home (FTTH) and citizens can benefit from broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s at affordable prices.

Social Wellness and Culture

Education

The education system in Mauritius is largely based on the British system since Mauritius was a former British colony. It consists of a 3+6+5+2 system of formal education. The education system in Mauritius is categorized into 4 main sectors – pre-primary, primary, secondary, and tertiary. Pre-primary schools accept students from the age of three. Children from the age of five to eleven go to primary school. They are admitted to a standard I and gradually moves on to standard 6. Primary education ends with a national examination which is the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE). Students passing CPE gains admittance to secondary schools, those with excellent results are admitted in National secondary schools. Secondary education is normally a 7-year study, starting from Form I to Form VI. The National Assessment at Form III is carried out in the third year of Secondary education. Varied subjects are taught and as from Form IV, students are streamlined according to subjects they choose. At the end of the 5th year of study at the secondary level, students sit for the Cambridge School Certificate (SC) examination. Passing the SC exam, allows them to continue another 2-year study ending with the Higher School Certificate (HSC) exam.

Health

The Ministry of Health and Quality of Life is responsible for public healthcare. Anwar Husnoo is the minister of health. The five regions each have their own Health Advisory Board. Healthcare, which is financed through general taxation, is free for Mauritian citizens. More than 650 doctors, 2,700 nurses, 50 dentists, and 20 pharmacists are employed in the public system. There are also 17 private clinics which between them have over 600 beds. As from 2020, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, telemedicine became a mainstream healthcare delivery method through the medicine.mu platform

Media

The constitution guarantees freedom of expression and of the press. Television is the most popular medium. State-owned Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) radio and TV generally reflect government thinking. MBC is funded by advertising and a TV license fee. Daily newspapers and weeklies offer balanced coverage in several languages. They are often critical of both the government and the opposition parties. Two media groups – Le Mauricien Ltd and La Sentinelle Ltd – dominate the press scene.

Culture

Though Mauritius is located near the African continent, its culture is quite distinct owing to its British and French colonial heritage and the predominant Indian population. The diversity of the city of Port Louis is reflected in its architecture, cuisine and festivals. Thaipusam is an important Hindu festival celebrated in Mauritius, celebrated by the Tamil community. Other popular festivals include Diwali, Eid, Ugadi, Christmas and Chinese New Year. The city has predominantly modern architecture, but it is also common to spot gleaming high-rises beside colonial buildings. There are several cultural venues and theatres in Port Louis that host classical music, drama and jazz performances.

Museums

The most famous and oldest museum in Port Louis and Mauritius is the Natural History Museum, Port Louis Museum, or Mauritius Institute. It exhibits of the impressive fauna of Mauritius, with a gallery devoted to birds and terrestrial animals, a second focusing on marine species, and a third focused on the dodo, the famous Mauritian bird which became extinct during the Dutch occupation.

The Blue Penny Museum is located at the Caudan Waterfront, and is dedicated to the history and art of the island. Its collection includes antique marine maps, paintings, sculptures, engravings, and stamps, including examples of the famous orange-red one penny and deep blue two pence stamps.

The Mauritius Photography Museum, located in a small 18th-century white-washed French colonial building, is a private museum that displays artefacts and documents about Mauritian photography and the early days of cinematography.

The China Heritage Museum, located in Chinatown, displays historical items representing the daily life of the Chinese community.

Sport

Popular sports activities in Port Louis are the Thoroughbred horse races held at the Champ de Mars Racecourse, which is the second oldest horse race track in the world. Gambling on the horse races can be done both with bookies and the tote, available at multiple locations inside the grandstand.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Louis

http://www.mccpl.mu/

https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/port-louis-mauritius-1968/

https://www.indian-ocean.com/museums-in-port-louis/

https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/public-administrator/index.cfm

https://www.worldscapitalcities.com/capital-facts-for-port-louis-mauritius/

https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/~rwest/wikispeedia/wpcd/wp/p/Port_Louis.htm

https://www.apsa.in/education-system-in-mauritius.html

http://www.govmu.org/English/News/Pages/Innovation-and-Technology-are-drivers-for-a-modern-economy,-says-Prime-Minister.aspx

https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/mauritius/publication/mauritius-inclusiveness-growth-shared-prosperity

Yaoundé

Introduction

Yaoundé, also spelled Yaunde, city and capital of Cameroon. It is situated on a hilly, forested plateau between the Nyong and Sanaga rivers in the south-central part of the country. Founded in 1888 during the period of the German protectorate, Yaoundé was occupied by Belgian troops in 1915 and was declared the capital of French Cameroon in 1922. From 1940 to 1946 it was replaced as the capital by Douala, but after independence it became the seat of the government of Cameroon in 1960, of the federal government in 1961, and of the united republic in 1972.

It has a population of more than 2.8 million,  and is the second-largest city in the country after the port city Douala. It lies in the Centre Region of the nation at an elevation of about 750 metres (2,500 ft) above sea level.

Data and Facts

  • Cameroon is the second most linguistically diverse nation after Nigeria, with 287 living languages including colonial versions
  • Yaoundé is in the Guinness World Records as the site for the largest business lesson. It was on August 6, 2016 that Freedom Faithnet Global conducted a business lesson attended by 2,464 people in Cameroon’s capital city
  • Cameroon is often known as “Africa in miniature” because of its geographical and cultural diversity

Administration 

The National Assembly makes legislation. The body consists of 180 members who are elected for five-year terms and meet three times per year. Laws are passed on a majority vote. Rarely has the assembly changed or blocked legislation proposed by the president.

The 1996 constitution establishes a second house of parliament, the 100-seat Senate, was established in April 2013 and is headed by a President of the Senate who is the constitutional successor in case of untimely vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic. The government recognises the authority of traditional chiefs, fons, and lamibe to govern at the local level and to resolve disputes as long as such rulings do not conflict with national law.

The president appoints judges at all levels. The judiciary is officially divided into tribunals, the court of appeal, and the supreme court. The National Assembly elects the members of a nine-member High Court of Justice that judges high-ranking members of government in the event they are charged with high treason or harming national security.

Cameroon is viewed as rife with corruption at all levels of government. In 1997, Cameroon established anti-corruption bureaus in 29 ministries, but only 25% became operational, and in 2012, Transparency International placed Cameroon at number 144 on a list of 176 countries ranked from least to most corrupt. On 18 January 2006, Biya initiated an anti-corruption drive under the direction of the National Anti-Corruption Observatory. There are several high corruption risk areas in Cameroon, for instance, customs, public health sector and public procurement. Numerous regional political groups have since formed. The primary opposition is the Social Democratic Front , based largely in the Anglophone region of the country and headed by John Fru Ndi.

Biya and his party have maintained control of the presidency and the National Assembly in national elections, which rivals contend were unfair. Human rights organisations allege that the government suppresses the freedoms of opposition groups by preventing demonstrations, disrupting meetings, and arresting opposition leaders and journalists. In particular, English-speaking people are discriminated against; protests often escalate into violent clashes and killings. In 2017, President Biya shut down the Internet in the English-speaking region for 94 days, at the cost of hampering five million people, including Silicon Mountain startups.

Economy 

Most of Yaoundé’s economy is centred on the administrative structure of the civil service and the diplomatic services. Owing to these high-profile central structures, Yaounde has a higher standard of living and security than the rest of Cameroon. Major industries in Yaoundé include tobacco, dairy products, beer, clay, glass goods and timber. It is also a regional distribution centre for coffee, cocoa, copra, sugar cane and rubber.

Local residents engage in urban agriculture. The city is estimated to have «50,000 pigs and over a million chickens».

In 2010, under Mayor Jean Claude Adjessa Melingui, Yaoundé began a flood reduction project, the Yaoundé City Sanitation Master Plan, to deal with «severe floods [that] disrupted the city 15 to 20 times a year, affecting as many as 100,000 people at a time.» After four years, the frequency of flooding had been reduced from fifteen to three times a year, and cases of water-borne diseases such as typhoid and malaria were reduced by almost half. Although Melingui died in 2013, local officials are continuing his efforts to transform the city. Ongoing improvements to sanitation infrastructure are being carried out under a «$152 million plan, largely financed by loans, primarily from the African Development Bank and the French Development Agency», slated for completion in 2017.Despite the security issues and humanitarian crises that have plagued the central African nation, its economy remains stable. In fact, there is diversification of its productive economic activities, with the services sector contributing about half of the total domestic production.However, like many African countries, Cameroon has long suffered from corruption, which dominates almost all the sectors, particularly in the capital city. Oil, gas and mining revenues are rarely reported, which implies massive graft. In addition, there is weak protection of real and intellectual property, and the judicial system is vulnerable to political manipulation. According to Yaoundé City Council data, over 130 floods struck the city between 1980 and 2014, causing massive loss of life and economic damage. However, there has been a reduction of flooding in the city since the establishment of a sanitation master plan to address the issue. Another measure was to relocate people living along the drainage routes and in low-lying flood zones.

Business Environment

Cameroon has Central Africa’s most diversified economy, but it remains one of the continent’s most difficult operating environments for businesses due to a range of issues, from poor electricity supplies to generalised corruption. Economic growth is slowing because of the recent drop in oil prices, the weakness of local demand and the security crises in the north and Anglophone regions of the country.

Oil is Cameroon’s top export, representing more than half of total exports. To cope with the downturn, the government signed a deal with the International Monetary Fund to help it to implement a programme of economic and financial reforms. In 2017, the country’s gross domestic product dropped to 4%, down from 6% in 2015.

Despite the downturn, the government in Yaoundé has big plans for the economy. In 2009, Cameroon launched the Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi , with the goal of making the country an emerging economy by 2035. Analysts and donor governments doubt Cameroon’s ability to meet that target, as economic growth is falling. The DSCE calls for economic growth of at least 5.9% from 2016 to 2020 in order for the economy to create enough jobs and wealth. The government is now forecasting growth of 4.2% for 2018. The IMF predicts that growth will rise from there but still not reach the target of 5.5% until 2021.

Doing business in Cameroon is a headache for many company executives due to several long-standing problems. The operating environment was worse in 2017, according to to the Groupement Inter-patronal du Cameroun , the country’s top business lobby, and it is not due to be any better this year. Even though it climbed three places since the last survey, Cameroon remains in the bottom 30 countries in terms of the ease of doing business. The survey is based on 10 measures , from how long it takes to create a business to how difficult it is to pay taxes.

One area of improvement was in terms of setting up a business, but there is a lot of room for improvement in many other fields.

The many complaints of the SME sector led the government to launch a bank for SMEs, the Banque Camerounaise des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises.

Cameroon has a large youth population, with more than 60% of the populace under the age of 25. In spite of many economic challenges, consumers in Cameroon have enjoyed increased annual disposable incomes in recent years, resulting in rising consumer expenditure . While still struggling with poverty , the country has a growing urban middle class that has benefited from an increased number of young professionals. The retail sector is becoming more formal and modern.

Cameroon’s economy suffers from factors such as stagnant per capita income and a relatively inequitable distribution of income. The Government of Cameroon provides subsidies for electricity, food, and fuel. Though this contributions helped many households, at the same time they had their toll on the federal budget and diverted funds from education, healthcare, and infrastructure projects.Price and accessibility are the main drivers for the majority of Cameroonians consumers, though a smaller segment of wealthier consumers also take into account brand recognition and quality.

As the family is central in Cameroonians’s life, advertising campaigns centered on family image are likely to have a stronger impact. Durable products such as fridges and microwave ovens are becoming more common in urban areas. The basic Cameroonian diet consists of starchy foods and cereals. Even though Cameroon has a large variety of food products as compared to its neighboring central-African countries, it has a deficit in meat products such as those from cattle or fishing. The demand for drinks is principally that for beer and in second place for fizzy drinks. Since the devaluation in 1994, the consumption of sweetened condensed milk, milk powder and yogurt has risen faster than the demographic rate.

All the import procedures are gathered at the Guichet unique des opérations du commerce extérieur . This one-stop shop gathers all the services involved in the import process. Procedures for importing and exporting goods to Cameroon include formalities for obtaining the status of importer/exporter involving registration in the Trade and Personal Property Credit Register, obtaining the trader card and professional exporter/importer card. The minimum wage was XAF 32,270 per month in 2014 according to the ILO . At the beginning of 2018, this amount was still in force and several proposals for its increase were discussed.

Infrastructure

Yaoundé Nsimalen International Airport is a major civilian hub, while nearby Yaoundé Airport is used by the military. Train lines run west to the port city of Douala and north to N’Gaoundéré. Many bus companies operate from the city; particularly in the Nsam and Mvan districts. Frequent buses run on the road between Yaoundé and Douala, which has witnessed several fatal accidents. Travel time by road between Douala and Yaounde is approximately 3 hours. Traffic in the city can be heavy during weekdays, but is very light during the weekends. Yaoundé has made significant progress in infrastructure, especially road construction.

Technology 

The Cameroon government is backing a new technology hub to be called «Cameroon Silicon River» in its capital city Yaoundé, in a move that is likely to move attention from its small, but already thriving ecosystem in the country’s southwest region. The new tech hub is modeled after Buea’s Silicon Mountain and will take a sizable portion of the 11.92 billion CFA francs 2019 budget of Cameroon’s ministry of scientific research and innovation. The government says Cameroon Silicon River will be a platform for research and innovation where young, creative, and enterprising Cameroonian software developers and other technologists will have the infrastructure and support they need.As Africa experiences the highest rate of growth of digital consumerism in the world, Cameroon finds itself at the forefront of the continent’s technological boom.

This rise of the tech industry in Cameroon is quickly changing the landscape of the country, and the investment opportunities these companies are bringing in, as well as the digital products they produce, could prove key to building Cameroon’s economy and improving the lives of its impoverished citizens. Despite the steady improvement of living conditions in Cameroon, many citizens still struggle to survive. As a result, numerous startups in the country have set out to use advancements in technology to work for people in need. Similarly, Agro-Hub set out to help farmers, who make up nearly 70 percent of Cameroon’s population, as they fight to keep their work profitable. The startup helps farmers adapt to market changes, sell their products and find a community among other farmers who may offer help.

As unemployment remains a constant issue, web platform Njorku helps people from Cameroon to find jobs by offering an easy-to-use interface for both people looking for work and recruiters trying to find well-suited candidates. These startups, only a few among many, use technology to solve real-world issues with practical solutions. As they succeed, the users they target also succeed.Seeing the possibilities that can arise when people are educated and knowledgeable about technology, many tech industry professionals both within Cameroon and abroad have invested time and resources to prepare young people for participation in the industry. The Genius Center in the Cameroon city of Douala teaches children coding, computer skills and the ability to think of digital solutions for real-world issues, preparing them not only for employment but also to use these skills to improve their communities.

While Africa’s fast-growing population raises alarms of poverty and unemployment, the rise in technology training provides hope for job openings increase and creation of well-educated workers who are capable of performing in these roles.As the tech industry in Cameroon continues to grow, significant changes are necessary for the growth to be sustainable. The country is still reeling from a three-month government-imposed internet shutdown in English-speaking regions that ended in early 2018, leaving tech professionals wary of the government as it announces plans to support the industry in the coming years. Due to tech professionals’ suspicion of the government and Cameroonian business peoples’ hesitation to invest in this industry, many startups have sought investment from investors outside of the country. For Cameroon to fully enjoy the benefits of this growing industry, domestic investors must understand and support the rapidly evolving direction in which the world market is trending.

Social Wellness and Human Resources

According to current projections, Cameroon’s population is projected to increase throughout the rest of the century. Cameroon’s current population of about 26.55 million is expected to increase to 50 million by 2050 and then 89.62 million by 2099. Despite negative net migration, Cameroon’s population growth rate is 2.59%, adding over 600,000 people to the population every year. This is likely because of Cameroon’s high fertility rate of 4.60 births per woman. Additionally, the birth rate is 34.71 births per 1,000 people and the death rate is 9.028 deaths per 1,000 people.

Cameroon has a young population with a median age of 18.7 years and 41.25% of the population being between zero to 14 years old. It was claimed in the latter part of the 19th century by German traders during the ivory industry’s peak. «The country’s name is derived from Rio dos Camarões —the name given to the Wouri River estuary by Portuguese explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1884 the Germans extended the word Kamerun to their entire protectorate, which largely corresponded to the present state» . This evolved into the name ‘Cameroon’ that we are familiar with now. Yaoundé’s population is 2.5 million, which makes it the second-largest city in the country after Douala, which has more than 3 million residents. Douala is the 27th most expensive city on earth, and the most expensive African city. Cameroon’s population is made up of its indigenous ethnicity, the Baka, also known as the pygmies. Kirdi and Fulani peoples are also a good percentage of the residents of Cameroon. Cameroonians usually have large, extended families with both polygamous and monogamous marriages in practice. Thanks to the encouragement of large families with many children, more than 60% of the current Cameroonian population is under 25 years of age. The current median age of those residing in Cameroon is 18.5 years of age, with a total life expectancy of approximately 59 years.

Languages in use here include the official use of English and French, with at least 24 major African language groups that are used regularly. Religious affiliation within Cameroon boasts a whopping 70% Christian belief base. 21% is of the Islamic faith, and a marginal 6% still maintain indigenous belief systems dating back to the cultural inception thousands of years ago . Islamic believers are concentrated in the north of Cameroon while Christian believers are dense in the southern and western region of the country.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaound%C3%A9

https://www.britannica.com/place/Yaounde

https://www.worldscapitalcities.com/capital-facts-for-yaounde-cameroon/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13146029

https://www.theafricareport.com/656/cameroon-what-business-wants/

https://international.groupecreditagricole.com/en/international-support/cameroon/business-environment

https://qz.com/africa/1530993/cameroon-plans-francophone-tech-hub-undermines-silicon-mountain/

https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/cameroon-population/

Harare

Introduction

Harare is the capital and most populous city of Zimbabwe. The city proper has an area of 960.6 km2 and an estimated population of 1,606,000 in 2009, with 2,800,000 in its metropolitan area in 2006. Situated in north-eastern Zimbabwe in the country’s Mashonaland region, Harare is a metropolitan province, which also incorporates the municipalities of Chitungwiza and Epworth. The city sits on a plateau at an elevation of 1,483 metres above sea level and its climate falls into the subtropical highland category.

The city was founded in 1890 at the spot where the British South Africa Company’s Pioneer Column halted its march into Mashonaland; it was named for Lord Salisbury, then British prime minister. The name Harare is derived from that of the outcast Chief Neharawe, who, with his people, occupied the kopje at the time the Pioneer Column arrived and seized the land. The city was created a municipality in 1897 and developed after the arrival of the railway from the port of Beira, Mozambique, becoming a market and mining centre. It was chartered as a city in 1935. Industrialization during and after World War II led to an influx of population.

The city was founded in 1890 by the Pioneer Column, a small military force of the British South Africa Company, and named Fort Salisbury after the UK Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. Company administrators demarcated the city and ran it until Southern Rhodesia achieved responsible government in 1923. Salisbury was thereafter the seat of the Southern Rhodesian government and, between 1953–63, the capital of the Central African Federation. It retained the name Salisbury until 1982, when it was renamed Harare on the second anniversary of Zimbabwean independence from the United Kingdom.

Data and Facts

  • For 2016, Harare ranks as the 157th costliest city up 11 places from 2015 when Mercer recognized Harare as the world’s 168th most expensive city for newly relocated citizens
  • Harare’s built-up area including nearby towns and villages encompasses 320 square miles (829 square kilometers). In 2015, there were an estimated 2.2 million people living in the city of Harare plus the surrounding built-up area
  • Population density is higher within the built-up area including the capital city Harare, combining for an average 6,900 residents per square mile (2,700 per square kilometer)
  • Harareans enjoy a subtropical highland climate with three main seasons (warm & wet, cool & dry and hot & dry) and an average annual temperature of 17.95°C
  • Zimbabwe actually has 16 official languages, but Shona, Sindebele and English are most commonly spoken in Harare
  • Zimbabwe has 8 different currencies in circulation, but the US Dollar is most commonly used in this city

Administration 

Under the 2013 constitution, Zimbabwe is a unitary republic. The head of state and government is the president, who is elected to a five-year term; the president can serve no more than two terms. The president is assisted by two vice presidents. The parliament consists of the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly normally has 210 members, all of whom are directly elected. For the first two parliaments elected after the promulgation of the 2013 constitution, however, the National Assembly has 270 seats, with the 60 additional seats reserved for women—6 from each of the 8 provinces and the 2 cities with provincial status—elected through a system of proportional representation. The Senate comprises 80 members: 60 elected by a party-list system of proportional representation, with men and women being listed alternately on every list; 16 traditional chiefs elected by the provincial assemblies of chiefs in the 8 provinces; 2 seats for the president and deputy president of the National Council of Chiefs ; and 2 representatives of people with disabilities. The provinces and metropolitan provinces are further divided into districts. Provinces are administered by provincial councils; they are headed by a chairperson, who is elected by the council. Bulawayo and Harare are administered by metropolitan councils; the mayor of each city serves as a council chairperson.Zimbabwe’s judicial system includes the Constitutional Court, which is the highest court in matters pertaining to the constitution; the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of appeal in all other matters; and the High Court, which has original jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters and supervises the magistrates courts and other subordinate courts. There are also a Labour Court and an Administrative Court, as well as customary law courts, which adjudicate on matters of traditional law and custom.

In the early twenty-first century, Harare has been adversely affected by the political and economic crisis that is currently plaguing Zimbabwe, after the contested 2002 presidential election and 2005 parliamentary elections. The elected council was replaced by a government-appointed commission for alleged inefficiency, but essential services such as rubbish collection and street repairs have rapidly worsened, and are now virtually non-existent. In May 2006, the Zimbabwean newspaper the Financial Gazette, described the city in an editorial as a «sunshine city-turned-sewage farm».In 2009, Harare was voted to be the toughest city to live in according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s livability poll. The situation was unchanged in 2011, according to the same poll, which is based on stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.In May 2005, the Zimbabwean government demolished shanties and backyard cottages in Harare, Epworth and the other cities in the country in Operation Murambatsvina. The government claimed it was necessitated by a rise of criminality and disease. This was followed by Operation Garikayi/Hlalani Kuhle a year later which consisted of building concrete housing of poor quality. In late-March 2010, Harare’s Joina City Tower was finally opened after fourteen years of delayed construction, marketed as Harare’s new Pride. Initially, uptake of space in the tower was low, with office occupancy at only 3% in October 2011. By May 2013, office occupancy had risen to around half, with all the retail space occupied.The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Harare as the world’s least liveable city out of 140 surveyed in February 2011, rising to 137th out of 140 in August 2012. In 2018, the Harare was ranked 137 out of the 140 surveyed cities by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking, making it the World’s sixth least liveable city.During late-2012, plans to build a new capital district in Mt. Hampden, about twenty kilometres north-west of Harare’s central business district, were announced and illustrations shown in Harare’s daily newspapers. The location of this new district would imply an expansion into Zvimba District.

Economy

Harare is Zimbabwe’s leading financial, commercial, and communications centre, as well as a trade centre for tobacco, maize, cotton, and citrus fruits. Manufacturing, including textiles, steel, and chemicals, are also economically significant, as is local gold mining. Zimbabwe has the second biggest informal economy as a share of its economy which has a score of 60.6%. Agriculture and mining largely contribute to exports. The economy of Zimbabwe grew at average of 12% from 2009 to 2013 making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world recovering from negative growth from 1998 to 2008 before it slowed to 0.7% growth in 2016.

Since 2000, Zimbabwe has seized and forcibly redistributed most of the country’s white-owned, commercial farms. The new occupants, mainly consisting of indigenous citizens and several prominent members of the ruling ZANU-PF administration, were usually inept, inexperienced, or uninterested in farming – thereby failing to retain the labour-intensive, highly efficient management of previous landowners. Idle land is now being utilised by rural communities practising subsistence farming. Production of staple foodstuffs, such as maize, has recovered accordingly – unlike typical export crops including tobacco and coffee. Zimbabwe has also sustained the 30th occurrence of recorded hyperinflation in world history.Government spending is 29.7% of GDP. State enterprises are strongly subsidized. Taxes and tariffs are high. State regulation is costly to companies. Starting or closing a business is slow and costly. Labour market is highly regulated, hiring a worker is cumbersome and firing a worker is difficult. By 2008 unemployment had risen to 94%.A 2014 report by the Africa Progress Panel found that, of all the African countries looked at when working out how many years it would take to double per capita GDP, Zimbabwe fared the worst, and that at its current rate of development it would take 190 years for the country to double its per capita GDP. Uncertainty around the indigenisation programme, the perceived lack of a free press, the possibility of abandoning the US dollar as official currency, and political uncertainty following the end of the government of national unity with the MDC as well as power struggles within ZANU-PF have increased concerns that the country’s economic situation could further deteriorate.In September 2016 the finance minister identified «low levels of production and the attendant trade gap, insignificant foreign direct investment and lack of access to international finance due to huge arrears» as significant causes for the poor performance of the economy.

Poverty and unemployment are both endemic in Zimbabwe, driven by the shrinking economy and hyper-inflation. Poverty rates in 2007 were nearly 80%, while the unemployment rate in 2009 was ranked as the world’s largest, at 95%. As of January 2006, the official poverty line was ZWD 17,200 per month . However, as of July 2008 this had risen to ZWD 13 per month . Most general labourers are paid under ZWD 200 Billion per month. A nurse’s salary in September was Z$12,542 , less than the cost of a soft drink. The lowest 10% of Zimbabwe’s population represent 1.97% of the economy, while the highest 10% make 40.42%. .

Business Environment

IN recent years Chinese companies have made inroads into Zimbabwe. Today, there are 80 state-owned Chinese companies operating in the country under the Chamber of Chinese Enterprises in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Independent senior reporter Tinashe Kairiza this week spoke to Chamber of Chinese Enterprises chairman and Tian Ze Tobacco Company general manager Ye Hai about Chinese company operations in the country, opportunities and challenges as well as allegations of flouting labour laws and working conditions. The organisation is called the Chamber of Chinese Enterprises in Zimbabwe and it was formed in June 2006 under the leadership of the Chinese embassy and the business consular office. Its membership is constituted by all Chinese state-owned enterprises which are legally operating in Zimbabwe. Secondly, under the leadership of the embassy we are trying to work together with the local government and departments to enhance business cooperation between the two countries.

Currently, Zimbabwe is in a complex period and is facing a number of challenges in the economy. Zimbabwe is Africa’s largest tobacco producer and this year’s marketing season for the golden leaf, which was set to begin on April 22, was expected to bring some relief to an economy already struggling with electricity and fuel shortages. On March 30, the country imposed a 21-day lockdown to stop the spread of the disease that has infected over a million people globally and killed tens of thousands. This week the government was, however, forced to relax the lockdown regulations to allow citizens to access remittances from the diaspora as foreign currency inflows started drying up. Experts said with the tobacco marketing season hanging in the balance, the economy would take a further battering as shortages of foreign currency become more pronounced. The opening of the auction floors had already been delayed by a month due to the late onset of the 2019/20 farming season as well as disagreements between tobacco farmers and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe over payment methods.

Projected tobacco output for this year has been put at 225 million kilogrammes, down from last year’s 250 million kilogrammes.Average prices for last year’s crop also ranked among the lowest in a number of years with fears that the situation could get worse this year. By Wednesday, Zimbabwe had recorded 11 coronavirus cases, with two fatalities, forcing the country into making a chain of decisions to contain the spread. Raymond Sixpence from the Progressive Agriculture and Allied Industries Workers Union, which represents tobacco farm workers, said they expected serious disruptions in the tobacco sector because of the outbreak of the Covid-19.

Infrastructure

The public transport system within the city includes both public and private sector operations. The former consist of ZUPCO buses and National Railways of Zimbabwe commuter trains. Privately owned public transport comprised licensed station wagons, nicknamed emergency taxis until 1993, when the government began to replace them with licensed buses and minibuses, referred to officially as commuter omnibuses.The National Railways of Zimbabwe operates a daily overnight passenger train service that runs from Harare to Mutare and another one from Harare to Bulawayo, using the Beira–Bulawayo railway. Harare is linked by long-distance bus services to most parts of Zimbabwe. The city is crossed by Transafican Highway 9 , which connects it to the cities of Lusaka and Beira. In reference to the mobile phone network, there is instability, with the government taking over Telecel, one of the three phone companies in Zimbabwe. To add, the socio-political infrastructure is unstable, as citizen engagement with the government is at its lowest level in over a decade.

Zimbabwe has tried to change things for the better but the country is still in a crisis. The economy is struggling and the politics pertaining to the future of the country are uncertain.

The infrastructure in the Harare showcases the instability in the infrastructure of Zimbabwe. The main issue is problems with the country’s water. As of 2010, only 50 percent of the people in Harare had water service all day, every day, while 55 percent of the residents had water that was poor quality. Zimbabwe made plans to redo water piping and began the process in 2009; by 2013, only 150 kilometers of the 6,000 had been replaced. By March 2016, only 40 percent of the work had been completed.

Even though infrastructure in Zimbabwe is struggling and facing issues, there is a plan to improve it. The main goals of the country are to rehabilitate and upgrade the bulk of the basic infrastructure assets and reinforce the existing integration of Zimbabwe’s network with other countries in the southern region of Africa.

The plan is to rehabilitate the national power grid, rehabilitate the national road network, the railway network, upgrade the status of air traffic communications, invest in storage to transport water resources, rehabilitate the existing water supply, develop national communications on a fiber-optic network and bring in a program of institutional reform and strengthening that measures to streamline the regulation of basic infrastructure services.

Technology

Zimbabwe’s Second Science and Technology Policy (2012) cites sectorial policies with a focus on biotechnology, information and communication technologies (ICTs), space sciences, nanotechnology, indigenous knowledge systems, technologies yet to emerge and scientific solutions to emergent environmental challenges. The policy makes provisions for establishing a National Nanotechnology Programme.Zimbabwe has a National Biotechnology Policy which dates from 2005. Despite poor infrastructure and a lack of both human and financial resources, biotechnology research is better established in Zimbabwe than in most sub-Saharan countries, even if it tends to use primarily traditional techniques.The Second Science and Technology Policy asserts the government commitment to allocating at least 1% of GDP to research and development, focusing at least 60% of university education on developing skills in science and technology and ensuring that school pupils devote at least 30% of their time to studying science subjects.

Much of Zimbabwe’s research effort is directed at improvements in agriculture. The government’s budget for agricultural research is administered by the Agricultural Research Council which is headquartered in Harare and operates seven research institutes, eight research and experiment stations, and the National Herbarium and Botanic Garden. In Harare, at the Blair Research Laboratory, simple, innovative technologies are being developed to improve Zimbabwe’s water supply and sewage disposal. Other research organizations, all in Harare, include the Geological Survey of Zimbabwe, the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and the Public Health Laboratory. The National University of Science and Technology, founded in 1990 at Bulawayo, has faculties of industrial technology and applied sciences. The University of Zimbabwe, founded in 1955 at Harare, has faculties of agriculture, engineering, medicine, science, and veterinary science. Degrees in agriculture and polytechnic studies are offered by seven colleges. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 24% of college and university enrollments.

Social Wellness and Human Resources

The population of Zimbabwe has grown during the 20th century in accordance with the model of a developing country with high birth rates and falling death rates, resulting in relatively high population growth rate . After a spurt in the period 1980-1983 following independence, a decline in birth rates set in. Since 1991, however, there has been a jump in death rates from a low of 10 per 1000 in 1985 to a high of 25 per 1000 in 2002/2003. It has since subsided to just under 22 per 1000 a little below the birth rate of around 27 per 1000.The high death rate is a result of poor medical facilities. This leads to a small natural increase of around 0.5%. Deaths due to HIV/AIDS have reduced due to improved methods of protection. However, outward migration rates of around 1.5% or more have been experienced for over a decade, therefore actual population changes are uncertain. Because of the high number of unaccounted emigrants, the recent increase of emigration and the death toll from AIDS, the total population might be declining to as low as 8 million according to some estimates.Based on the 2019 revision of the World Population Prospects, the population of Zimbabwe was estimated by the United Nations at 14,438,802 in 2018. Of the rest of the population, the great bulk—perhaps 30,000 personsare white Zimbabweans of European ancestry, a minority which had diminished in size prior to independence.The vast black majority has grown at a projected annual rate of 4.3% since 1980. Although present figures are difficult to ascertain, the white community once reproduced itself at an annual rate similar to that of most totals in developed nations. Of the two major ethnolinguistic categories, Shona speakers formed a decisive plurality and occupied the eastern two-thirds of Zimbabwe. Ndebele speakers constitute about 16%, and none of the other indigenous ethnic groups came to as much as 2% in recent decades. African speakers of non-indigenous languages included migrant workers from Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique.Three-quarters of white Zimbabweans are of British or British diasporan origin; at various times many emigrated from South Africa and elsewhere. After World War II, Zimbabwe received a substantial influx of emigrants from the United Kingdom—a handful previously resided in other colonies such as Pakistan and Kenya. Also represented on a much smaller scale were individuals of Afrikaner, Greek, and Portuguese origin. After Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, Ian Smith’s administration removed technical obstacles to immigration from southern Europe.

A heavily urbanised Coloured population is descended, partially, from early unions between White Rhodesian settlers and local Black African females. An educated class, they have traditionally engaged in retail trade or manufacturing. Zimbabwe has 16 official languages: Chewa, Tonga, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa. English is widely used in administration, law and schools, though less than 2.5%, mainly the white and Coloured minorities, consider it their native language. The rest of the population speak Shona and Ndebele , Kalanga , etc. Shona has a rich oral tradition, which was incorporated into the first Shona novel, Feso by Solomon Mutswairo, published in 1956. English is spoken primarily in the cities, but less so in rural areas. Television news is broadcast in English, Shona and Ndebele though the local languages time slot falls out of prime viewing time, but radio broadcasts in English, Ndebele, Shona, Kalanga, Nambya, Venda, Suthu and Tonga. English, Ndebele and Shona are given far more airtime. 85 percent of Zimbabweans are Christian, and of that number, 61 percent regularly attend Christian churches. The largest Christian churches are Anglican, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist and Methodist.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harare

https://www.britannica.com/place/Harare

https://www.worldscapitalcities.com/capital-facts-for-harare-zimbabwe/

https://facts.uk/16-heavenly-facts-about-harare/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Zimbabwe

https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/business/Zimbabwe-hit-where-it-hurts-the-most–forex/2560-5521068-bfnyt8z/index.html

https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2019/08/23/its-now-difficult-to-do-business-here-in-zim/

https://borgenproject.org/infrastructure-in-zimbabwe/

https://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Africa/Zimbabwe-SCIENCE-AND-TECHNOLOGY.html

 

Guatemala City

Introduction

Guatemala City, locally known as Guatemala or Guate, officially Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción (New Guatemala of the Assumption), is the capital and largest city of Guatemala, and the most populous urban area in Central America. The city is located in the south-central part of the country, nestled in a mountain valley called Valle de la Ermita (English: Hermitage Valley). It is estimated that its population is about 1 million. Guatemala City is also the capital of the Municipality of Guatemala and of the Guatemalan Department. Lying in a valley of the central highlands at an elevation of 4,897 feet (1,493 metres) above sea level, it has a temperate and invigorating mountain climate.

Guatemala City is the site of the Mayan city of Kaminaljuyu, founded around 1500 BC. Following the Spanish conquest, a new town was established, and in 1776 it was made capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala. In 1821, Guatemala City was the scene of the declaration of independence of Central America from Spain, after which it became the capital of the newly established United Provinces of Central America (later the Federal Republic of Central America). In 1847, Guatemala declared itself an independent republic, with Guatemala City as its capital. The city was almost completely destroyed by the 1917–18 earthquakes. Reconstructions following the earthquakes have resulted in a more modern architectural landscape.Today, Guatemala City is the political, cultural, and economic center of Guatemala. It is served by La Aurora International Airport.

Data and Facts

  • Guatemala City was the site for a Guinness World Record on April 2, 2015 for the longest sawdust carpet measuring 1.45 miles (2.329 kilometers)
  • The most highly populated city in Central America, Guatemala City is home to 2.4 million residents living within an area measuring 150 square miles (388 square kilometers)
  • Due to the unique geography of the area, there is a pronounced risk of sinkholes. These holes are normally caused by underground rivers which erode the bedrock on which cities are built.
  • Guatemala City is located 4,900 ft above sea level.Guatemalans living in Guatemala City enjoy a tropical savanna climate with little temperature variation – the average temperature ranges from 22°C to 28°C throughout the year
  • Guatemala welcomed 1,455,000 tourists into the country in 2014, many of whom visited Guatemala City for its rich culture, great coffee and high concentration of fine restaurants

Administration

In addition to the government offices and services concentrated there, Guatemala City handles nearly half of the capital invested in the country and accounts for more than half of the industrial establishments and production of the republic. It is the focus of highway, rail, and air transport and is the commercial and banking centre of the country.

Guatemala is a constitutional democratic republic whereby the President of Guatemala is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Congress of the Republic. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

On 2 September 2015, Otto Pérez Molina resigned as President of Guatemala due to a corruption scandal and was replaced by Alejandro Maldonado until January 2016.

Congress appointed former Universidad de San Carlos President Alfonso Fuentes Soria as the new vice president to replace Maldonado.Jimmy Morales assumed office on 14 January 2016.Guatemala has long claimed all or part of the territory of neighboring Belize. Due to this territorial dispute, Guatemala did not recognize Belize’s independence until 6 September 1991, but the dispute is not resolved. Negotiations are currently under way under the auspices of the Organization of American States to conclude it.Guatemala is divided into 22 departments (Spanish: departamentos) and sub-divided into about 335 municipalities. In 2008, Guatemala became the first country to officially recognize femicide, the murder of a female because of her gender, as a crime. Guatemala has the third-highest femicide rate in the world, after El Salvador and Jamaica, with around 9.1 murders for every 100,000 women from 2007 to 2012.

Economy

Guatemala City, as the capital, is home to Guatemala’s central bank, from which Guatemala’s monetary and fiscal policies are formulated and promulgated. Guatemala City is also headquarters to numerous regional private banks, among them CitiBank, Banco Agromercantil, Banco Promerica, Banco Industrial, Banco GyT Continental, Banco de Antigua, Banco Reformador, Banrural, Grupo Financiero de Occidente, BAC Credomatic, and Banco Internacional. By far the richest and most powerful regional economy within Guatemala, Guatemala City is the largest market for goods and services, which provides the greatest number of investment opportunities for public and private investors in all of Guatemala. Financing for these investments is provided by the regional private banks, as well as by foreign direct and capital investment, mostly from the United States. Guatemala City’s ample consumer base and sophisticated service sector is represented by the large department store chains present in the city, among them Siman, Hiper Paiz & Paiz , Price Smart, ClubCo, Cemaco, Sears and Office Depot.

Guatemala is the largest economy in Central America, with a GDP per capita of US$5,200. The CIA World Fact Book considers 54.0% of the population of Guatemala to be living in poverty in 2009.In 2010, the Guatemalan economy grew by 3%, recovering gradually from the 2009 crisis, as a result of the falling demands from the United States and others Central American markets and the slowdown in foreign investment in the middle of the global recession.Remittances from Guatemalans living in United States now constitute the largest single source of foreign income . Some of Guatemala’s main exports are fruits, vegetables, flowers, handicrafts, cloths and others. In the face of a rising demand for biofuels, the country is growing and exporting an increasing amount of raw materials for biofuel production, especially sugar cane and palm oil. Critics say that this development leads to higher prices for staple foods like corn, a major ingredient in the Guatemalan diet. As a consequence of the subsidization of US American corn, Guatemala imports nearly half of its corn from the United States that is using 40 percent of its crop harvest for biofuel production. In 2014, the government was considering ways to legalize poppy and marijuana production, hoping to tax production and use tax revenues to fund drug prevention programs and other social projects.Gross Domestic Product in purchasing power parity in 2010 was estimated at US$70.15 billion. The agricultural sector accounts for about two-fifths of exports, and half of the labor force. Organic coffee, sugar, textiles, fresh vegetables, and bananas are the country’s main exports. Inflation was 3.9% in 2010.

The 1996 peace accords that ended the decades-long civil war removed a major obstacle to foreign investment. Tourism has become an increasing source of revenue for Guatemala thanks to the new foreign investment.In March 2006, Guatemala’s congress ratified the Dominican Republic – Central American Free Trade Agreement between several Central American nations and the United States.

Business Environment

Guatemala is poor and therefore open to great opportunities; the market is unreserved so you can find lots of opportunities to develop new and creative businesses. Don’t look for difficult problems. If you are an entrepreneur or a venture capitalist it is much better to seek the low-hanging opportunities in Guatemala. Guatemala is positioned geographically very strategically. We have access to two oceans with seaports on each and our time zone is EST, which puts us in a very strategic position for import/export and outsourcing. But our greatest resource is our people. Guatemalans are a talented, outgoing and hardworking peoples. Guatemala ranks first in mobile network coverage, according to a report by the World Economic Forum. Guatemala’s developers, programmers and entrepreneurs are creating amazing new businesses transcending our frontiers with innovative ideas… and we still have a lot coming.

Guatemala doesn’t rank well in the World Bank Doing Business Report. That said, I dare say that the costs of doing business in Guatemala City are manageable and well worth your troubles. Legal and fiscal matters are agile and easy compared to doing business in Europe, for example. I would say there is a strong business oriented culture in the country, however, the majority of people doing business now have either a small business or are self-employed. Also, a very large part of these businesses are part of the informal economy. This business-oriented culture has taught us that we have a lot of talented and resilient people and we can make things happen, but there has to be a transformation in the way Guatemalans perceive the value of entrepreneurship.

We still need to learn to see entrepreneurs with dignity and admiration. That is why over the last few years there have been a lot of entrepreneurial programs and initiatives creating and promoting entrepreneurship and focusing on transforming the way we see entrepreneurship, like heuristica.ufm.edu an entrepreneurial experience that brings together the best ideas with investors, Peoplefund.com a private investment fund backing extraordinary people building scalable businesses around the world, along with many others.

Infrastructure

Renovated and expanded, La Aurora International Airport lies to the south of the city center. La Aurora serves as Guatemala’s principal air hub. Public transport is provided by buses and supplemented by a BRT system. The three main highways that bisect and serve Guatemala start in the city. Construction of freeways and underpasses by the municipal government, the implementation of reversible lanes during peak rush-hour traffic, as well as the establishment of the Department of Metropolitan Transit Police , has helped improve traffic flow in the city. Despite these municipal efforts, the Guatemala City metropolitan area still faces growing traffic congestion. A BRT system called Transmetro, consisting of special-purpose lanes for high-capacity buses, began operating in 2007, and aimed to improve traffic flow in the city through the implementation of an efficient mass transit system. The system consists of five lines. It is expected to be expanded around 10 lines, with some over-capacity expected lines being considered for Light Metro or Heavy Metro.

Traditional buses are now required to discharge passengers at transfer stations at the city’s edge to board the Transmetro. This is being implemented as new Transmetro lines become established. In conjunction with the new mass transit implementation in the city, there is also a prepaid bus card system called Transurbano that is being implemented in the metro area to limit cash handling for the transportation system. A new fleet of buses tailored for this system has been purchased from a Brazilian firm. A light rail line known as Metro Riel is proposed.

Technology

There is no doubt that one of the primary catalysts of the Guatemala tech scene is a well-known multiplier effect. Few people are aware of it but Guatemala is the source of some great entrepreneurs success stories.The serial entrepreneur Matias Tezano founded hoteles.com, one of the first online reservation sites targeting Spanish speaking internet users and sold to Expedia in 2002 when he was only 22! Since then, Matias has been involved in over 20+ startups as founder and/or angel investor. In 2006, he created Peoplefund, a private equity company that invests in tech startups. Interestingly, Peoplefund invested in Bluekite and Kingo during the first days of their launch.BlueKite, a Guatemalan technology firm that facilitates cross-border bill payments and mobile phone top ups acquired in 2014 for USD 15 million by Xoom, which was itself acquired 2 years later by the giant Paypal. Today, the group has an office in Guatemala City with over 100 engineers.Kingo is a local startup founded by Juan Fermin Rodriguez in 2013 with the vision to provide low income communities with affordable and sustainable electricity. They developed a solar smart kit very simple and quick to install, and it works with technology such as Big Data, artificial intelligence and Blockchain. On April 26th, the startup received an investment from the Leonardo DiCaprio fund.We could not forget Duolingo, the world famous app that helps thousands of people worldwide learn languages through gamification; it was founded by the Guatemalteco Luis Von Ahn in 2011.These success stories can breed other successes and convince influential players to bet on tech entrepreneurship in the country.

One of the greatest advantages of Guatemala is its pool of talents. Guatemala has a high English speaking population, due to the fact many Guatemalan citizens migrated to the US . This makes for a great place to outsource services for countries like the US as it combines qualified English speaking workers with low salaries. Out of the 16 universities in the capital, a few are known for providing high-quality education in business administration and/or technology . Sadly, these universities are private, and therefore, access is unequal.

This year was the first time that we traveled to Guatemala. At the moment, we can only witness the talents rising in the region. The quality of applications we received was surprisingly high, and the top 3 winners were one of the best trios we saw this year at the regional level.

In March, Telefonica announced the launch of their program Open Future that aims to connect entrepreneurs with digital technology solutions, investors, private and public organizations in over 16 countries through a partnership with Multiverse. Claro has also been supporting different initiatives, including our pitching competition where Samsung and Huawei also partnered with us to make the event possible. Telco companies are often the first to participate in innovation, but others are joining as well. For example, in Guatemala, Unilever has recently partnered with Alterna, an accelerator for social entrepreneurs, to support them with efficient solutions that can improve the lives of the low income population. Finally, last September, the government approved the so called, Ley de Fortalecimiento al Emprendimiento. The objective is to strength entrepreneurship by providing a better tax environment, financial support and training for entrepreneurs. It also aims to simplify the process needed to constitute a company. For tech entrepreneurs, many are likely to continue incorporating in Delaware or Virgin Island as it remains faster, cheaper and easier for investment purpose. Nevertheless, the effort is there, Guatemala is the first country in Central America to implement an entrepreneurship law.

It’s definitely the right moment to propel the Guatemalan ecosystem to the forefront of the impact & VC investing movement. We have witnessed the talents, the hungry achiever mindset and capacity of the entrepreneurs. While one could think that the market is too small present an opportunity , it is important to remember that Guatemala is located near 2 giants – USA and Mexico. The cost of talent in Guatemala is very attractive for the US and Canadian companies. For example, an experienced senior engineer or analyst earns on average 12,500 Quetzal to approximately 20,000 Quetzal per month and 7,250 for junior level . Local talents usually speak English without a strong accent and are in the same time zone as the USA which makes it easier to work together. More important than funding though, is access to know-how and high-end network within and outside the country.

Guatemala is a small market compared to, for example, Mexico City or Sao Paulo. The first right step for any entrepreneur is to test, fail fast, iterate and expand to new markets. Multiverse and Heuristika have definitely helped early-stage startups to structure their business and get a better chance at survival, but local founders are asking for a tremplin that can help them scale outside providing them with strategic connections abroad and the methodology to hack their growth. While there is no similar program yet, initiatives like Volcano Summit which aims to create a bridge between Guatemala and the Latin American tech scene with an international network of corporates, investors and entrepreneurs, are great tools to connect and inspire the community.

Looking ahead, it will be all about building a critical mass of investibles ventures. Many entrepreneurs and players complain about the lack of money in the game, but we think that money is there. A few key facts as proof: Guatemala has one of the highest rates of a helicopter and private jet ownership per capita in the world. Also, looking at real estate and urban development, we can conclude that there is a fair amount of wealth in the country. Paseo Cayala is a great example of that. It’s an area of 14 hectares that gathers the wealthy families of the capital. Clearly the money is there, but investors need to be educated about the existing opportunities and to become familiar with venture capital. Mostly, they need trust first.

We have witnessed that success stories like Duolingo or Kindo together with an agenda of different events have convinced more people to launch their own ventures. We expect the number of startups to grow, making it even more important to provide the right environment for development and investment. International acceleration programs can be the right tool to help.

Social Wellness and Human Resources

It is estimated that the population of Guatemala City proper is about 1 million, while its urban area is almost 3 million. The growth of the city’s population has been robust since then, abetted by the mass migration of Guatemalans from the rural hinterlands to the largest and most vibrant regional economy in Guatemala. The inhabitants of Guatemala City are incredibly diverse given the size of the city, with those of Spanish and Mestizo descent being the most numerous. Guatemala City also has sizable indigenous populations, divided among the 23 distinct Mayan groups present in Guatemala. The numerous Mayan languages are now spoken in certain quarters of Guatemala City, making the city a linguistically rich area. Foreigners and foreign immigrants comprise the final distinct group of Guatemala City inhabitants, representing a very small minority among the city’s citizens.Due to mass migration from impoverished rural districts wracked with political instability, Guatemala City’s population has exploded since the 1970s, severely straining the existing bureaucratic and physical infrastructure of the city. As a result, chronic traffic congestion, shortages of safe potable water in some areas of the city, and a sudden and prolonged surge in crime have become perennial problems. The infrastructure, although continuing to grow and improve in some areas, it is lagging in relation to the increasing population of those less fortunate. Guatemala City is not unique in facing and tackling problems all too common among rapidly expanding cities around the world.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guatemala_City

https://www.britannica.com/place/Guatemala-City

https://theculturetrip.com/central-america/guatemala/articles/8-surprising-facts-you-never-knew-about-guatemala-city/

https://www.worldscapitalcities.com/capital-facts-for-guatemala-city-guatemala/

https://facts.uk/16-great-facts-about-guatemala-city/

https://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/worlds-best-start-hubs-guatemala-city-guatemala

https://www.seedstars.com/magazine/guatemalas-startup-eruption-overview-of-a-nascent-ecosystem/

 

Nouakchott

Introduction

Nouakchott is the capital and largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the Sahel. The city also serves as the administrative and economic center of Mauritania. Nouakchott, city, capital of Mauritania, on a plateau near the West African Atlantic coast, about 270 miles (435 km) north-northeast of Dakar, Senegal. Originally a coastal village on the desert trail north from Dakar, it was developed after independence (1960) as the capital of the new nation. Nouakchott was a major refugee centre during the Saharan droughts of the 1970s, and its rapid growth during that period (together with a sharp decline in the number of Mauritania’s nomads) was attributed to migration and urbanization in response to the droughts. The city focuses on a square, the Place de l’Indépendence, and includes an airport and industrial area. It is centrally located on the main north-south highway, connecting the more populated agricultural south with the sparsely populated but mineral-rich north.

Nouakchott was a mid size village of little importance until 1958, when it was chosen as the capital of the nascent nation of Mauritania. It was designed and built to accommodate 15,000 people, but drought and increasing desertification since the 1970s have displaced a vast number of Mauritanians who resettled in Nouakchott. This caused massive urban growth and overcrowding, with the city having an official population of just under a million as of 2013. The resettled population inhabited slum areas under poor conditions, but the living conditions of a portion of these inhabitants have since been improved. The city is the hub of the Mauritanian economy and is home to a deepwater port and Nouakchott–Oumtounsy International Airport, one of the country’s two international airports. It hosts the University of Nouakchott and several other more specialized institutes of higher learning.

Data and Facts

  • Nouakchott had an estimated population of 968,000 residents in 2015, living in a land area measuring 33 square miles (85 square kilometers)
  • Population density is higher within Mauritania’s capital city with an average 29,300 residents per square mile (11,300 per square kilometer)
  • At the national level, population density shrinks to a miniscule 9 Mauritanians per square mile (4 per square kilometer)
  • The Arabic name is said to mean “The place of winds” in the language of the Berber people
  • It was a tiny fishing town until 1958. It is possible that the Berber Muslim Almoravids came from the area. The city was selected as the capital city for its mild climate and its location near the center of the country

Administration

Nouakchott is divided into three regions , each of which contains three departments. The town was initially divided into four departments in 1973. In 1986 the current nine departments were created. Formerly a district, in 1990 Nouakchott became a region of Mauritania. On 25 November 2014, it was split into the three current regions and its governor Mahi Ould Hamed became the first governor of Nouakchott-Nord.

The Mauritanian state had a presidential regime from 1960 until 1978, when a coup d’état installed a military government. A civilian government established in December 1980 was replaced the following April by a largely military administration. Additional coups took place in 2005 and 2008, each followed by elections. Constitutional amendments to the 1991 constitution, put forth in 2006, included a new legislative body, an adjustment of the presidential term, and an age limit of 75 for presidential candidates. Following the 2008 coup, the military leadership announced that the 1991 constitution, augmented by a supplemental charter, would remain in place.

Mauritania is a republic. The president, elected by popular vote for a five-year term, is head of state and government and is assisted by the prime minister, whom he appoints. Until 2017 Mauritania had a bicameral legislature made up of the Senate, the majority of whose members were elected by municipal leaders, and the National Assembly, whose members are elected by popular vote for five-year terms. Qadis in rural and settled communities hear cases relating to marriage, divorce, and other personal status issues. A High Council of Islam is made up of five individuals appointed by the president to advise on matters at the president’s request. The judiciary also includes the lower courts, labour and military courts, the Court of State Security, a six-member Constitutional Council, a High Court of Justice, and a Supreme Court, the highest court of appeal, which deals with administrative as well as judicial matters.Suffrage in Mauritania is universal for Mauritanian citizens age 18 and older, all of whom are permitted to hold office. A 2006 decree stipulated that one-fifth of political party positions be reserved for women; in addition, in September of that year two women were appointed as the country’s first female governors. Minorities also participate in the political process, though in general at a rate lower than their proportion of the wider population.The Mauritanian defense forces consist of an army, a navy, an air force, and a paramilitary.

Economy

Nouakchott is the center of the Mauritanian economy, with three-quarters of service sector enterprises located in the city as of 1999 with 90% of the city’s economic activity consisting of informal transactions. Some inhabitants have multiple addresses and maintain strong ties with their regions of origin, at times returning for labor. The economy of Mauritania is still largely based on agriculture and livestock, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurring droughts in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for almost 50% of total exports. The decline in world demand for this ore, however, has led to cutbacks in production. With the current rise in metal prices, gold and copper mining companies are opening mines in the interior. The nation’s coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue. In March 1999, the government signed an agreement with a joint World Bank-International Monetary Fund mission on a $54 million enhanced structural adjustment facility . The economic objectives have been set for 1999–2002. Privatization remains one of the key issues.

Mauritania is likely to benefit from the global transition to renewable energy and is ranked no. 2 among 156 countries on the index of geopolitical gains and losses after energy transition . Current GDP per capita of Mauritania grew 82% in the Sixties reaching a peak growth of 166% in the Seventies. But this proved unsustainable and growth consequently scaled back to 14% in the Eighties. In 2007, mining industries accounted for well over 35 percent of the Mauritanian economy, with the fish industry so much as 54% . Diversification of the economy into non-mining industries remains a long-term issue. Mauritania is a net importer of food, reportedly importing 70% of its domestic food needs.

In 2015, Kosmos Energy made significant natural gas discoveries on the maritime border between Senegal and Mauritania, and in December 2016, it entered into partnership with British Petroleum. The two companies, along with Mauritanian and Senegalese governments and the two countries’ national oil companies, are optimistic about the potential of these gas discoveries. The Grand Tortue/Ahmeyim reserves are estimated at 15 trillion cubic feet. The production phase will begin in 2022, starting with 2.3 million tons annually.Mauritania has 380 MW of generating capacity, of which 263 MW are fossil fuels and 117 MW are renewable.

Business Environment

Both the Mauritanian government and the donor community see youth employment as a priority for the country. A 2016 estimate puts the country’s median age at 20.3 years . Youth between the ages of 15 and 25 comprise 20 percent of the population and are experiencing an unemployment rate of around 19 percent. Youth are seen as key drivers of social change in the country, but a lack of economic opportunities—partially due to population growth and urbanization—has also made them a vulnerable demographic. Tackling youth issues is also of geostrategic importance for Mauritania and its government given the relevance of this demographic to stability and inclusive socio-economic development.

By all accounts, Mauritanian youth do not lack for entrepreneurial instincts. Our research team met with young entrepreneurs with both new innovations as well as local adaptations of business models that have been developed elsewhere.

Nouakchott has a small but active group of incubators, and the research team met with four of them: Startup Mauritania, Hadina RIMTIC, i-Lab Mauritania and Nouakchott Business Center. Most of these incubators were created in the last five years, and as you might expect, all of them provide youth-led startups with a mixture of training and capacity building to startups, working spaces, internet access, and—of course—caffeine. Some of them also supplement their income by offering consulting services to international donors. They also host coding challenges; Startup Mauritania hosts Startup Weekend once a year, and Hadina RIMTIC also hosted a mobile app development competition known as the Mauriapp challenge. It was clear, however, that compared to Ghana, Mauritania’s startup and incubator ecosystem is ready for the next stage in its development.

However, since few of the startups generate revenue, they aren’t yet able to pay for the services that incubators offer. Incubators are currently refining their internal business models to be able to support entrepreneurs in an sustainable way.First, banks provide relatively large loans, typically above USD$25,000. Most microfinance institutions targeting small poverty-reduction products provide loans less than USD$10,000. Startups usually fall within this ‘missing middle,’ and there are no financial products available in the market to meet their needs. Second, banks demand traditional collateral—land titles, security deposits, a minimum of five years of credit history, etc.—which the typical local startup cannot provide. Third, given very low banking rate , banks don’t have access to long-term resources and require fast repayment terms . Local startups cannot sustain this kind of repayment schedule.

Infrastructure

Nouakchott has a Chinese-built deepwater port that opened in 1986. It was designed for a capacity of 500,000 tons deadweight (DWT) of cargo a year, but has been handling 1,500,000 tons (DWT) by 2009. China agreed in 2009 to invest US$282 million in the port, aiming to extend the main quay by over 900 m (3,000 ft).As of 2011, the World Bank was investigating funding a new shipping container facility at the port.Air service is provided by Nouakchott–Oumtounsy International Airport, which replaced the previous Nouakchott International Airport in June 2016.The Cairo–Dakar Highway leg from Nouakchott to Nouadhibou was paved in 2004, although the Nouakchott-Rosso leg was paved before independence. A 1,100-kilometre (680 mi) road (Route d’Espoir (Road of Hope)) connects the city with Néma via Boutilimit and Kiffa. In the city, there is a public transport and commuter system, with vehicles serving major boulevards.

Social Wellness and Human Resources

For comparison, its population was only 20,000 in 1969. Part of the difficulty in estimating the city’s population is that part of it is nomadic, setting up tents in suitable locations, then packing up when the need strikes. Some estimates put the 2008 population at over 2 million, estimated to be close to one-third of the country’s population. The 2013 census gave the city’s population as 958,399.In 2009, the government of Mauritania announced that it would begin a process of clearing the slum on the outskirts of Nouakchott, as 24,000 families would eventually be relocated to planned housing in the city. The process was scheduled to begin with the relocation of 9,000 families from the outskirts into the poor Arafat department neighbourhood of “Kosovo”, popularly named for its high crime rate and poor services. The government planned to begin moving families in June 2009, despite concerns from aid agencies that needed infrastructure could not be put in place in the receiving neighbourhood. In 2013, it was reported that “slums have been replaced by social dwellings for the poorest”, with the World Bank reporting that the plan met with substantial success, resulting in access to improved services for 181,035 people in the slum areas.

Attractions in Nouakchott include the National Museum of Mauritania, the National Library and the National Archives. The city hosts several markets including the Nouakchott Silver Market, and the beaches. One beach is devoted to fishing boats where fish can be bought fresh. Nouakchott is a principal selling place of native Saharan meteorites.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouakchott

https://www.britannica.com/place/Nouakchott

https://www.worldscapitalcities.com/capital-facts-for-nouakchott-mauritania/

https://www.britannica.com/place/Mauritania/Government-and-society

https://dai-global-digital.com/kic-expands-its-support-of-tech-driven-entrepreneurship-to-mauritania.html

 

Tashkent

Introduction

Tashkent or Toshkent , is the capital and largest city of Uzbekistan, as well as the most populated city in ex-Soviet Central Asia with a population in 2018 of 2,485,900. It is located in the north-east of the country close to the border with Kazakhstan. Tashkent lies in the northeastern part of the country. It is situated at an elevation of 1,475 to 1,575 feet (450 to 480 metres) in the Chirchiq River valley west of the Chatkal Mountains and is intersected by a series of canals from the Chirchiq River. The city probably dates from the 2nd or the 1st century bce and was variously known as Dzhadzh, Chachkent, Shashkent, and Binkent; the name Tashkent, which means “Stone Village” in Uzbek, was first mentioned in the 11th century.

Before Islam influence started in the 8th century AD, Tashkent was influenced by the Sogdian and Turkic cultures in its early history. After its destruction by Genghis Khan in 1219, the city was rebuilt and profited from the Silk Road. From the 18th to 19th century, the city became an independent city-state, before being re-conquered by the Khanate of Kokand. In 1865, it fell to the Russian Empire, and became the capital of Russian Turkestan. In Soviet times, Tashkent witnessed major growth and demographic changes due to forced deportations from throughout the Soviet Union. Much of the city was destroyed in the 1966 Tashkent earthquake, though it was rebuilt afterwards as a model Soviet city. It was the fourth-largest city of the Soviet Union at the time, after Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev. Today, as the capital of an independent Uzbekistan, Tashkent retains a multi-ethnic population, with ethnic Uzbeks as the majority. In 2009, the city celebrated its 2,200 years of written history.

Data and Facts

  • Tashkent, Uzbekistan is in the Guinness World Records for having the oldest Koran, specifically the Holy Koran Mushaf of Othman owned by the Muslim Board of Uzbekistan. That Koran once belonged to Caliph Othman (c.AD 588-656) third successor to the Prophet Mohammed. Today about half of the original 706 pages survive
  • Tashkent city occupies 129 square miles (335 square kilometers), within which live an estimated 2 million people.
  • Including city proper, Tashkent’s built-up urban area encompasses 415 square miles (1,075 square kilometers) which serves as home for approximately 2.8 million inhabitants
  • Population density is much higher within Uzbekistan’s capital city with an average 15,300 Uzbeks per square mile (5,900 per square kilometer). Density diminishes to an average 6,700 people per square mile (2,600 per square kilometer) when Tashkent’s built-up urban area is factored in
  • The only five-star hotel in Tashkent is HYATT Regency Tashkent. It includes seven floors, 300 guest rooms sized from 35 to 190 square meters, five conference rooms, two restaurants, a bar, a spa area, a pool, many open terraces with a beautiful view of the capital

Administration 

The Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan exercises executive power in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The members of the government are the President of Uzbekistan, Prime Minister of Uzbekistan, Ministers, and deputy ministers. It has its legal basis in the Constitution of Uzbekistan. Cabinet of Ministers – The Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan is the executive power body of the Republic of Uzbekistan, ensuring guidance over effective functioning of the economy, social and cultural development, execution of the laws, and other decisions of Supreme Assembly, as well as decrees and resolutions issued by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Republic of Uzbekistan is a presidential constitutional republic, whereby the President of Uzbekistan is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Supreme Assembly, the Senate and the Legislative Chamber. The judicial branch (or judiciary), is composed of the Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, and Higher Economic Court that exercises judicial power.

The movement toward economic reform in Uzbekistan has not been matched by movement toward political reform. The government of Uzbekistan has instead tightened its grip since independence (September 1, 1991), cracking down increasingly on opposition groups. Although the names have changed, the institutions of government remain similar to those that existed before the breakup of the Soviet Union. The government has justified its restraint of public assembly, opposition parties, and the media by emphasizing the need for stability and a gradual approach to change during the transitional period, citing the conflict and chaos in the other former republics (most convincingly, neighboring Tajikistan). This approach has found credence among a large share of Uzbekistan’s population, although such a position may not be sustainable in the long run. Despite the trappings of institutional change, the first years of independence saw more resistance than acceptance of the institutional changes required for democratic reform to take hold. Whatever initial movement toward democracy existed in Uzbekistan in the early days of independence seems to have been overcome by the inertia of the remaining Soviet-style strong centralized leadership.

Economy 

Today Tashkent is the main economic and cultural centre of Central Asia. Cotton is the chief crop of the region in which it is situated. Wheat, rice, jute, vegetables, and melons are also grown, and silkworms are bred. The city lies in the most industrially developed part of Uzbekistan, and much of its industry is in some way connected with cotton—the manufacture of agricultural and textile machinery and of cotton textiles. It also has various food-processing industries.

Since independence, the economy of Uzbekistan continues to exist as a Soviet-style command economy with slow transformation to market economy. The progress of governmental economic policy reforms has been cautious, but cumulatively Uzbekistan has shown respectable achievements. Its restrictive trade regime and generally interventionist policies continue to have a negative effect on the economy. Substantial structural reform is needed, particularly in these areas: improving the investment climate for foreign investors, strengthening the banking system, and freeing the agricultural sector from state control. Remaining restrictions on currency conversion capacity and other government measures to control economic activity, including the implementation of severe import restrictions and sporadic closures of Uzbekistan’s borders with neighboring Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan have led international lending organizations to suspend or scale back credits.

Working closely with the IMF, the government has made considerable progress in reducing inflation and the budget deficit. The national currency was made convertible in 2003 as part of the IMF-engineered stabilization program, although some administrative restrictions remain. The agriculture and manufacturing industries contribute equally to the economy, each accounting for about one-quarter of the GDP.

For purchasing power parity comparisons in 2006, the U.S. dollar is exchanged at 340 som.

Uzbekistan’s GDP, like that of all CIS countries, declined during the first years of transition and then recovered after 1995, as the cumulative effect of policy reforms began to be felt. It has shown robust growth, rising by 4% per year between 1998 and 2003, and accelerating thereafter to 7%-8% per year. In 2011 the growth rate came up to 9%. Given the growing economy, the total number of people employed rose from 8.5 million in 1995 to 13.5 million in 2011.

This healthy increase of nearly 25% in the labor force lagged behind the increase in GDP during the same period , which implies a significant increase in labor productivity. Official unemployment is very low: less than 30,000 job seekers were registered in government labor exchanges in 2005-2006 .

Underemployment, on the other hand, is believed to be quite high, especially in agriculture, which accounts for fully 28% of all employed, many of them working part-time on tiny household plots. However, no reliable figures are available due to the absence of credible labor surveys. The minimum wage, public-sector wages, and old-age pensions are routinely raised twice a year to ensure that base income is not eroded by inflation. Although no statistics are published on average wages in Uzbekistan, pensions as a proxy for the average wage increased significantly between 1995 and 2006, both in real terms and in U.S. dollars. The monthly old-age pension increased in real sums by almost a factor of 5 between 1995 and 2006.

Stabilization efforts implemented with active guidance from the International Monetary Fund rapidly paid off, as inflation rates were brought down to 50% in 1997 and then to 22% in 2002. Since 2003 annual inflation rates averaged less than 10%.The severe inflationary pressures that characterized the early years of independence inevitably led to a dramatic depreciation of the national currency. The exchange rate of Uzbekistan’s first currency, the «notional» ruble inherited from the Soviet period and its successor, the transient «coupon som» introduced in November 1993 in a ratio of 1:1 to the ruble, went up from 100 rubles/US$ in the early 1992 to 3627 rubles in mid-April 1994. On July 1, 1994 the «coupon soʻm» was replaced with the permanent new Uzbek soʻm in a ratio of 1000:1, and the starting exchange rate for the new national currency was set at 7 som/US$, implying an almost two-fold depreciation since mid-April. Within the first six months, between July and December 1994, the national currency depreciated further to 25 som/US$ and continued depreciating at a fast clip until December 2002, when the exchange rate had reached 969 som/US$, i.e., 138 times the starting exchange rate eight and a half years earlier or nearly 10,000 times the exchange rate in early 1992, soon after the declaration of independence.

Then the depreciation of the som virtually stopped in response to the government’s stabilization program, which at the same time dramatically reduced the inflation rates. During the four years that followed the exchange rate of the som to the US dollar increased only by a factor of 1.33, from 969 som to around 1865 som in May 2012.

From 1996 until the spring of 2003, the official and so-called «commercial» exchange rate – both set administratively by the Central Bank – were highly overvalued. Many businesses and individuals were unable to buy dollars legally at these «low» rates, so a widespread black market developed to meet hard currency demand. The spread between the official exchange rate and the curb rate widened especially after the Russian financial crisis of August 1998: at the end of 1999 the curb rate stood at 550 som/US$ compared with the official rate of 140 som/US$, a gap by nearly a factor of 4 . By mid-2003, the government’s stabilization and liberalization efforts had reduced the gap between the black market, official, and commercial rates to approximately 8% and it quickly disappeared as the som was made convertible after October 2003.

Business Environment

Two years after the death of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s first president, the once impenetrable country has shown interest in opening up to international investors. Enthusiasts regard this as the «Uzbek spring», a new beginning for the country under its new leader, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Others have pointed to the sluggish and inconsistent pace of liberal reforms in the Central Asian state, which could just be used as façade to attract foreign capital.

Take Tashkent City, a government-sponsored project that aims to develop a high-tech business hub in Uzbekistan’s capital at a total cost of around $1.3 billion. British, Korean and German companies were awarded the main lots for construction. As Mirziyoyev, who is overseeing the project, stated in October 2017: «Tashkent City is a project which we will use to announce ourselves to the international community.» But closer scrutiny into one of the foreign investors into Tashkent City reveals a complex network of companies and individuals closely linked to Central Asia, casting doubt on the positive news that Uzbekistan’s official media initially trumpeted. Hyper Partners GmbH, though heralded as a German investor for Tashkent City’s Lot 3, seems to belong to a network of Uighur businessmen, partnering with a Kazakh entrepreneur currently facing fraud charges. Neither this company, nor others associated with its public directors, has any record of experience of large-scale construction projects.

The Uzbek government’s desire to showcase its friendliness to foreign investors led journalists to investigate the ownership of the companies that won the tenders to develop Tashkent City, unveiling a complex network of companies and individuals which operate without a clear financial rationale. With the help of legal experts in Germany, we were able to disentangle the threads and highlight the network behind Hyper Partners GmbH, one of Tashkent City’s main investors and foreign contractors.

The project worth 5.5 million USD is aimed at developing, based on Korean experience, a system of providing comprehensive assistance to entrepreneurs in implementation of their business projects.

Within the framework of the project, standard business incubators that provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to receive practical assistance from qualified specialists in implementation of their business ideas will be created in Tashkent. Here proposals will be developed to improve the normative-legal framework in supporting future entrepreneurs, stimulating their activities, developing an innovative business ecosystem in Uzbekistan. In the business incubator, special attention will be paid to the development of youth entrepreneurship.

Infrastructure

Tashkent International Airport «Yuzhniy» is just a few kilometers from the city centre. Airlines serving Tashkent include Aeroflot, Air Astana, Air Baltic, Asiana, Uzbekistan Airways and Turkish Airlines. It is also the hub of Uzbekistan Airways , which flies to many destinations including Almaty, Tokyo, Bangkok, London, and New York-JFK. All the airports in Uzbekistan have immigration posts and Uzbekistan Airways Operates direct flights from Samarkand, Bukhara, Urgench, Andijan, Fergana airports to CIS Countries. Note that while the domestic and international terminals are at the same airport the only way to get from one to the other is by road, a ten minute taxi ride and see notes below about the taxi situation. A taxi should not cost more than 5000 som between the terminals, but the taxi drivers will try to cheat you. Alternatively, there are two buses that operate between both terminals, 11 and 77.

In the international terminal, buses leave from in front of the terminal. Walk straight out, past the parking lot where the bus stops are just before the main road. In the domestic terminal, the bus stop is to the left of the terminal in a large parking lot that does not look like a bus stop. Note that buses do not operate at night. Pay the driver after the ride. As of June 2017, a bus ride costs 1000 som and marshrutka ride costs 1200 som. A short and inexpensive taxi journey is the easiest way to get to the city center. One should bear in mind, however, that upon exiting the international terminal, a large number of men will be crowded at the exit door offering «taxi» services. For the most part, these are not «official» taxis. «Taxi» drivers will attempt to charge whatever they believe an international tourist can stomach. You have to buy a token to unlock the trollies. Baggage collection is a lengthy wait – can be up to 1.5 hours. There are only two luggage belts. The indicator showing the belt to collect your luggage may not be correct. It is therefore good to stay in the centre of the two luggage belt so that you can see both belts at the same time.

Arrival customs clearance has changed a lot in recent times – No declarations forms or long lines while all bags are checked. The usual Red/Green channels to walk through. If stopped by an customs officer they’ll send you to one of the x-ray machines to check bags. This seemed to happen only to returning citizens with large amounts of luggage. Tourists mostly walked through without being stopped. You can go through the «green» corridor, without completing the customs declaration, if imported foreign currency does not exceed the equivalent of 2,000 US dollars and the cost and the number of imported goods do not exceed the norms not subject to customs payments established by law or there are no goods whose import or export is prohibited or restricted in accordance with the law. The entire amount of foreign currency in cash exceeding the equivalent of 2,000 US dollars is subject to mandatory written declaration when importing and exporting. Be aware that the arrival area has a number of ATMs , hence arriving with a few USD is a good idea, there are exchange banks before customs. Travellers should also be wary of the «tourist welcome desk» before customs, they may overcharge you on the SIM card and offer the third placed network that has poor reception across the country, and no 4G no matter what they claim… You are better getting SIMs in town unless you speak no Russian. Go to the airport early and check in early, the taxi may try to charge 3000SOM for an official drop-off, or walk for 50 metres for free. The departures area is on the upper floor, however the access road has been closed, so you have to walk around the left hand side of the arrivals level and up some stairs/escalator, or up the road. Sometimes, simple items such as expensive chocolate may have problem clearing and have to be disposed by the custom officers doing the checking. The Uzbekistan Airways Main Ticketing office is located at Amir Timur Str,51. Flight tickets can also be purchased from hundreds of ticketing agents and some even offer free ticket delivery.

Tashkent is a key stopping point for rail services from Central Asia. There are direct connections to Moscow, Russia and Almaty, Kazakhstan. If changing trains it is possible to travel from or to Dushanbe in Tajikistan and Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. It is possible to travel to China . Ticket prices are cheap by western standards, but will need to be paid for in cash. There are many warnings about thefts of personal belongings on the trains.

To Samarkand there is a fast train that now leaves daily at 8AM arriving Samarkand at about 10:10AM. On Saturday and Sunday there is a second train that leaves Tashkent at 7AM arriving Samarkand at 9:10AM. The return train is at 5PM and 6PM, arriving back to Tashkent around 7:10 and 8:10PM respectively. All trains leave now from the Northern Railway Station , Tukestan kochasi, Metro station «Toshkent». Make sure that you buy ticket in advance or arrive 1 hour before train departure as the queue for ticket office is often long, though appears to have improved recently as there is now a formal ticketing system which has avoided most people jumping the queue. Get a ticket on arrival from a machine on the left that has English, Russian and Uzbek options. The even easier choice is to do an e-ticket, making sure you print it at home first. Alternatively you can get the ticket office to print your tickets, even if booked online, though it will take a few minutes and you need your reference numbers . To travel by bus to Uzbekistan a traveller has to take a bus to the border post,then cross the border on foot and then take another bus to the final destination.

Technology 

From the first days of independence Uzbekistan has paid great attention to the comprehensive development of information and communication technologies and their wide application in all spheres of life of state and society. Over a short period the authorities created the legal framework conducive to further formation and progress of market of IT-technologies. In particular, in 1992 the Law «On telecommunications» was adopted, which established general principles of progressive promotion of the industry. Issues of ICT legal regulation received further development in the Law «On information» dated December 11, 2003. President’s Resolutions «On measures for further implementation and development of modern information and communication technologies» dated March 21, 2012 and «On further development of computerization and introduction of information and communication technologies» dated May 30, 2002, became important documents in this direction. At present the Complex program of development of National information and communication system of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2013-2020 is being implemented. This program was approved by President’s Resolution dated June 27, 2013.

Making a statement at enlarged meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to the socio-economic development in 2015 and the most important priorities of economic program for 2016, President Islam Karimov noted that in today’s conditions in the era of Internet and electronics, the widespread introduction of information and communication technologies in the fields of economy, radical acceleration of creation of system «Electronic government» are of priority significance. As the head of our state underlined, development of ICT has a direct impact on the level of competitiveness of the country, allows you to collect and summarize vast amounts of information, offers great opportunities for management at strategic level. The task of regular improving of the governance, strengthening the capacity of IT-industry was entrusted to the Ministry for development of information technologies and communications, created by the Resolution of the Head of our state dated February 4, 2015. In addition, since 2002 a Centre for development and introduction of computer and information technologies UZINFOCOM operates, which assists in the development and implementation of national programs of computerization and introduction of ICT in all sectors of public administration, economic and social spheres. As a result of comprehensive measures at airports, railway stations, places of frequent-stay travelers, parks, shopping malls and other public places of the capital and each administrative center of republic Wi-Fi points have been created. The high development rates of national Internet segment should be separately noted. Uzbekistan has 10.2 million web users. According to UZINFOCOM center, in January 2016 the number of websites in the UZ zone exceeded 25 thousand, while growth totaled more than 30% compared to same period of last year. The use of ICT and software products in the management and production processes plays a major role in the development of sectors of the economy and the domestic industry. For instance, in 2014-2015 in the framework of a special state program 86 projects have been realized in order to introduce information systems in large joint-stock companies, associations and organizations totaling more than 330 billion soums. Particular attention is paid to development of national market of software products. In order to stimulate domestic programmers the National register of software developers has been created, which already included 69 companies. A directory of software manufacturers Software.uz has been developed that provides necessary information to citizens and businesses.

According to the Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan «On measures to further strengthen the incentives of domestic software developers» dated September 20, 2013 new benefits and preferences for members of software industry were introduced. Thus, they are exempt from customs duties for imported equipment for their own use, components, parts, technical documentation and software until January 1, 2017. Information system E-Sud for electronic proceedings is functioning effectively since 2004. Through its implementation, procedures such as keeping registration books, document management within court, direction of judicial notifications and procedural acts, familiarization of sides with case are completely automated now. All educational institutions of the republic are connected to ZiyoNET network, which is functioning since 2005. In the library of portal, which was updated in 2014, has more than 75 thousand units of informative-educational resources, including textbooks, dissertations, research papers and others. As part of implementation of resolution of Head of our state «On measures on further improvement of foreign language learning system» dated December 10, 2012, «Foreign Languages» section has been created on ZiyoNET, which includes over four thousand materials such as textbooks, interactive lessons, games, relevant video and audio. The country regularly hosts major events dedicated to the development of hi-tech industry. In particular, Week of information and communication technologies ICTWeek Uzbekistan is being held since 2004. Traditionally it is opened with national exhibition of information technologies ICTExpo, which takes place once in two cities – Tashkent and Samarkand. The exhibition presents existing and future forms of ICT-based services, oriented to business community and authorities, and general population. Among the important events of the week – The Forum for Information and Communication Technologies ICTForum, wh ere representatives of leading companies, industry experts and foreign experts discuss state and prospects of progress in this sphere.

As part of the week conferences BestSoft Uzbekistan are also being held, during which they demonstrate the latest achievements of software developers, and e-Government Uzbekistan dedicated to the strategic objectives in the field of «e-government», results of implemented projects, exchange of experience and ideas in this direction. Training of personnel in the development of ICT sector is topical.

Social Wellness and Human Resources

In 1983, the population of Tashkent amounted to 1,902,000 people living in a municipal area of 256 km2 (99 sq mi). By 1991, (break-up of Soviet Union) the number of permanent residents of the capital had grown to approximately 2,136,600. Tashkent was the fourth most populated city in the former USSR, after Moscow, Leningrad (St. Petersburg), and Kiev. Nowadays, Tashkent remains the fourth most populous city in the CIS and Baltic countries. The population of the city was 2,295,300 people in 2004.

Tashkent’s 2020 population is now estimated at 2,517,381. In 1950, the population of Tashkent was 754,688. Tashkent has grown by 138,232 since 2015, which represents a 1.14% annual change. These population estimates and projections come from the latest revision of the UN World Urbanization Prospects. These estimates represent the Urban agglomeration of Tashkent, which typically includes Tashkent’s population in addition to adjacent suburban areas.

Russian and Uzbek are both the main spoken languages. As with most of Uzbekistan, street signs and other things are often a mix of Latin and Cyrillic scripts.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tashkent

https://www.britannica.com/place/Tashkent

https://www.dookinternational.com/blog/5-tashkent-facts-that-will-surprise-you/

https://www.worldscapitalcities.com/capital-facts-for-tashkent-uzbekistan/

http://tashkent.afisha.uz/en/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_Uzbekistan

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/odr/tashkent-city-project-uzbekistan-phantom-foreign-investors/

https://uza.uz/en/business/business-incubators-for-startups-to-be-created-in-tashkent-28-01-2020

https://wikitravel.org/en/Tashkent

https://www.un.int/uzbekistan/news/ict-important-factor-national-progress

 

Khartoum

Introduction

Khartoum or Khartum is the capital of Sudan. With a population of 5,274,321, its metropolitan area is the largest in Sudan, the sixth-largest in Africa, the second-largest in North Africa, and the fourth-largest in the Arab world. Khartoum is located at the confluence of the White Nile, flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile, flowing west from Lake Tana in Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as al-Mogran or al-Muqran. From there, the Nile continues to flow north towards Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. It has bridge connections with its sister towns, Khartoum North and Omdurman, with which it forms Sudan’s largest conurbation. The Mahdists besieged and destroyed it in 1885 and killed Major General Charles George Gordon, then the British governor-general of the Sudan. Reoccupied in 1898, Khartoum was rebuilt by Governor-General Lord Kitchener and served as the seat of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan government until 1956, when the city became the capital of the independent republic of Sudan.

Divided by these two parts of the Nile, Khartoum is a tripartite metropolis with an estimated overall population of over five million people, consisting of Khartoum proper, and linked by bridges to Khartoum North and Omdurman to the west. Khartoum was founded in 1821 as part of Ottoman Egypt, north of the ancient city of Soba. The Siege of Khartoum in 1884 led to the capture of the city by Mahdist forces and a massacre of the defending Anglo-Egyptian garrison. The city has continued to experience unrest in modern times. Three hostages were killed during the Attack on the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum in 1973. The Justice and Equality Movement engaged in combat with Sudanese government forces in the city in 2008 as part of the War in Darfur. The Khartoum massacre occurred in 2019 amongst the Sudanese Revolution.

Khartoum is an economic and trade centre in Northern Africa, with rail lines from Port Sudan and El-Obeid. It is served by Khartoum International Airport, with another airport, Khartoum New International Airport, currently under construction.

Data and Facts

  • Sudan exported US$5.6 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2015. Sudan’s highest-value export is petroleum oils, most crude and with a smaller amount of refined oil
  • Khartoum city has an area of 375 square miles (971 square kilometers), with a population of two million residents who must cope with a hot desert climate
  • Population density is much more intense within Sudan’s capital city with an average 8,500 people per square mile (22,100 per square kilometer)
  • On the whole, credit cards are not accepted in Sudan and there are no ATMs in Khartoum, so planning ahead and bringing enough cash for the duration of your trip is vital
  • Khartoum is home to several fascinating museums. Alongside the National Museum of Sudan, the Presidential Palace museums and Ethnographical Museum provide a glimpse into the fascinating history of the nation, its rulers and its culture

Administration 

The politics of Sudan formally took place within the framework of a federal representative democratic republic until April 2019, when President Omar al-Bashir’s regime was overthrown in a military coup led by Vice President Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf. As an initial step he established the Transitional Military Council to manage the country’s internal affairs. He also suspended the constitution and dissolved the bicameral parliament — the National Legislature, with its National Assembly and the Council of States . Ibn Auf however, remained in office for only a single day and then resigned, with the leadership of the Transitional Military Council then being handed to Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. On 4 August 2019, a new Constitutional Declaration was signed between the representatives of the Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change, and on 21 August 2019 the Transitional Military Council was officially replaced as head of state by an 11-member Sovereignty Council, and as head of government by a civilian Prime Minister. The legal system in Sudan is based on Islamic Sharia law. Between 2009 and 2014, many people were sentenced to 40–100 lashes. In August 2014, several Sudanese men died in custody after being flogged. 53 Christians were flogged in 2001. Sudan’s public order law allows police officers to publicly whip women who are accused of public indecency. Crucifixion is a legal punishment. In 2002, 88 people were sentenced to death for crimes relating to murder, armed robbery, and participating in ethnic clashes, Amnesty International wrote that they could be executed by either hanging or crucifixion.

On 19 December 2018, massive protests began after a government decision to triple the price of goods at a time when the country was suffering an acute shortage of foreign currency and inflation of 70 percent. In addition, President al-Bashir, who had been in power for more than 30 years, refused to step down, resulting in the convergence of opposition groups to form a united coalition. The protests continued after the overthrow of his government on 11 April 2019, when President al-Bashir was arrested and a three-month state of emergency was enacted. Over 100 people died in early June in clashes between pro-democracy protesters and state security forces, resulting in Sudan’s suspension from the African Union. Sudan’s youth had been reported to be driving the protests. The protests came to an end when the Forces for Freedom and Change and Transitional Military Council signed the July 2019 Political Agreement and the August 2019 Draft Constitutional Declaration.

The transitional institutions and procedures included the creation of a joint military-civilian Sovereignty Council of Sudan as head of state, a new Chief Justice of Sudan as head of the judiciary branch of power, Nemat Abdullah Khair, and a new prime minister. The new Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, a 61-year-old economist who worked previously for the UN Economic Commission for Africa, was sworn in on 21 August. He initiated talks with the IMF and World Bank aimed at stabilising the economy, which was in dire straits because of shortages of food, fuel and hard currency. Hamdok estimated that US$10bn over two years would suffice to halt the panic, and said that over 70% of the 2018 budget had been spent on civil war-related measures.

Economy 

Khartoum is a major trade and communications centre, with rail lines from Egypt, Port Sudan, and Al-Ubayyiḍ, river traffic on the Blue and White Nile rivers, and an international airport.Besides acting as a trading centre, Khartoum also produces textiles, gums, and glass and serves as a printing and food-processing centre. An oil pipeline between Khartoum and Port Sudan was completed in 1977.

After the signing of the historic Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement , the Government of Sudan began a massive development project.In 2007, the biggest projects in Khartoum were the Al-Mogran Development Project, two five-star hotels, a new airport, Mac Nimir Bridge and the Tuti Bridge that links Khartoum to Tuti Island.In the 21st century, Khartoum developed based on Sudan’s oil wealth . This has changed as major economic developments take place in other parts of the country, like oil exploration in the South, the Giad Industrial Complex in Al Jazirah state and White Nile Sugar Project in Central Sudan, and the Merowe Dam in the North.Among the city’s industries are printing, glass manufacturing, food processing, and textiles. Petroleum products are now produced in the far north of Khartoum state, providing fuel and jobs for the city. One of Sudan’s largest refineries is located in northern Khartoum.The Souq Al Arabi is Khartoum’s largest open air market. Al Qasr Street and Al Jamhoriyah Street are considered the most famous high streets in Khartoum State. Afra Mall is located in the southern suburb Arkeweet. The Afra Mall has a supermarket, retail outlets, coffee shops, a bowling alley, movie theaters, and a children’s playground. In 2011, Sudan opened the Hotel Section and part of the food court of the new Corinthia Hotel Tower.

Business Environment

Sudan has featured prominently in the news the past few months. Among the reasons for this phenomenon, was the USA lifting sanctions against the country, although it still kept Sudan on the list of countries sponsoring terrorism. Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UAE have all reached out to Sudan in one form or another. The latest news involved Sudan experiencing a serious cash-flow problem, to the extent that it is trimming its foreign diplomatic services quite seriously.

In spite of the challenges that Sudan is experiencing in the financial services sector, the country presents numerous investment opportunities, several in the financial services sector. Many of these opportunities require funding. This is where Sudan needs serious development. Some of the opportunities can be difficult to tap into given the lack of liquidity, and the challenges in the political sphere are an additional deterrent to investors as well. Still, for the keen investor there is a wealth of opportunity to unlock.

From the World Bank’s ease of doing business index for 2018, it is clear that Sudan is not the easiest place to do business. Ranking globally at 170 out of 190 countries, there is scope for a lot of improvement. Figure 1 below provides a breakdown of the elements that constitute the rankings. These are issues that need urgent reforms to entice foreign investors into the country. Another macro ranking that is of concern, is Sudan’s position on the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International. Of the 180 countries on the index, Sudan only came in at 175, which is a serious indictment against the Sudanese leadership. It has not succeeded in the five years since 2012 to bring about meaningful change. Together with the rather bleak picture from the ease of doing business index, this low ranking on the corruption index is a source of serious concern. See Table 1 for information on Sudan’s corruption reality.

According to Chambers and Partners, Sudan is a country of great economic potential. It has a strategic location, gold reserves, oil & gas fields, other mineral resources, a favourable climate, as well as excellent irrigation and soil conditions.

Sudan’s National Investment Encouragement Act of 2013 promotes foreign direct investment and prohibits discrimination against foreigners in investments. The act defines three types of investment projects: national, strategic and state. Sudan has put in place an open investment legislative framework with several laws and regulations that are modern and based on best practices. The act also establishes the National Investment Council, chaired by the president of Sudan. The focus and objective of this council is to facilitate investment in all sectors of the Sudanese economy. The act allows foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and to repatriate capital and profits.

Natural resources/mining: Natural resources, especially gold, oil, gas, chrome, manganese, zinc, aluminium, cobalt, and nickel. Gold production in Sudan reached 22.3 tonnes in 2016, ranking it as one of the top producers in Africa.Agriculture: With the Nile river running through it, Sudan has more than 150 million hectares of arable land. The climate is suitable for all types of crops, and water irrigation is readily available and/or natural. Sudan specialises in cereal production , crops , and tropical fruit and vegetables.Livestock: Sudan is highly regarded in both the Middle East and Africa for its livestock and animal resources. The country has national animal resources, which include cattle, camels, sheep, goats, poultry, horses, and an annual stock of more than 110,000 tonnes of fish. The most important animal products in Sudan are milk, meat, poultry, skins, fur and wool.

Transport: As Africa’s third-largest country and bordering seven countries, Sudan offers great opportunities for investment in the transport sector. The weakness in the transport network remains one of the greatest constraints to the economy.

Industry: Investment opportunities in industry in Sudan include the following sub-sectors: agri-processing, food, spinning and textiles, leather, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil and soap, engineering, building materials and refractories, and printing and packaging.

Nevertheless, in spite of the mentioned challenges and constraints, potential investors were already moving into Sudan from the Gulf, Asia, Europe and South America in March 2017, some of them well before this time.

China has invested in various aspects of the industry until it now controls as much as 75% of the Sudanese oil industry. Sudan currently produces 133,000 barrels of oil per day – a fraction of what it produced before the south of the country seceded in 2011, taking most of the country’s proven oil reserves with it. Today, Chinese companies are looking for new oil deposits in Sudan as increasing oil production is one of the government’s priorities. While China started in oil, they now have other interests in trade, mining, and construction as well. Within the oil industry today, most of the engineers and technical experts in Sudan and South Sudan are Sudanese. They were trained in China. Sudan is the only country in Africa where, over time, more locals have been employed by Chinese companies .

Saudi Arabia and the Saudi private sector are currently investing in maritime transport in Sudan, benefiting from the strategic situation of Sudan, to construct new harbours and ports at the Red Sea. The development of all transport units, particularly maritime transport, and the construction of new ports and harbours are deemed as very important.

The UAE agreed in the beginning of 2017 to provide the Central Bank of Sudan with a $400m deposit as a reserve. In addition, the Sudanese government had formed a joint business council with Bahrain to promote investments. A Saudi company was financing an industrial estate north of Khartoum with $150m.

Qatar has also been positioning itself in a meaningful way in Sudan.

Sectoral investment opportunities in Sudan

Infrastructure development in Sudan has a national focus and is directed in five-year plans. Based on results of the first Five-Year Plan , Sudan has already invested heavily in infrastructure development, with total government spending on infrastructure of SDG 5.4bn . Key areas of investment included transport, water supply and sanitation, electric power and communication networks.

However, the country’s growing infrastructure needs are beyond the budget capacity of local and central governments. This is not unique to Sudan and is the case for all of Africa. In 2014, the country’s overall budget deficit amounted to SDG 4.4bn . In order to bridge the funding gap, long-term funding provided by commercial banks and the private sector through public-private partnerships was essential.

Investment in infrastructure will be important as Sudan looks to increase the competitiveness of domestic trade and facilitate national integration. Currently, areas with poor infrastructure are isolated, resulting in high costs of goods and services and limited investment from reluctant capital providers.

Backed by government initiatives, Sudan’s banking sector has several growth opportunities to stimulate current economic development through infrastructure enhancement. The role of banks in financing infrastructure projects needs to be increased. Banks therefore need attractive and innovative infrastructure financing tools and clear marketing strategies. Currently, infrastructure projects are complex and have several distinct phases that require different banking instruments. To capture the potential growth of infrastructure financing, banks in Sudan should design products for each distinct phase of an infrastructure project, including planning, construction, and operations.

In the agriculture sector, Sudan has a lot of uncultivated arable land. According to foreign investors in agriculture, should Sudan have a sound strategy and an effective agriculture structure, it would be able to not only feed itself, but the entire MENA region. As it is, Africa as a whole is a potential target market, given that the continent is a net importer of food to the tune of $35bn annually.

Tackling the agriculture sector is a key priority as its growth is directly linked to improving Sudan’s infrastructure environment. Today, agricultural lands are not well utilised in Sudan mainly due to inadequate roads, insufficient water supply, and a lack of electric power in these isolated areas.

After the South Sudan secession in July 2011, Sudan changed the focus of its economic plan to revive the agriculture sector given that southern oil production accounted for over 75% of the country’s total production . The agriculture sector employs 80% of the country’s workforce and accounts for nearly one third of GDP. In general, the agriculture sector represents a business line that banks should focus on, especially with regards to financing trade, working capital, and capital expenditures.

Infrastructure

Khartoum is home to the largest airport in Sudan, Khartoum International Airport. It is the main hub for Sudan Airways, Sudan’s main carrier. The airport was planned for the Southern outskirts of the city; but with Khartoum’s rapid growth and consequent urban sprawl, the airport is still located in the heart of the city.Khartoum has rail lines from Wadi Halfa, Port Sudan on the Red Sea, and El Obeid. All are operated by Sudan Railways. Some lines also extended to some parts of south Sudan Architecture of Khartoum cannot be identified by one style or even two styles; it is as diverse as its culture, where 597 different cultural groups meet. In this article are 10 buildings of Khartoum to showcase this diversity in buildings’ shapes, materials, treatments. Sudan was home to numerous ancient civilizations, such as the Kingdom of Kush, Kerma, Nobatia, Alodia, Makuria, Meroë and others, most of which flourished along the Nile. During the pre-dynastic period Nubia and Nagadan Upper Egypt were identical, simultaneously evolved systems of Pharaonic kingship by 3300 BC.In response to the worldwide deterioration of the environment and the increase in pollution levels, there has been a strong movement towards sustainable architecture across the globe. This movement has received attention and concern from governments as well as private sectors. In the past decades, Sudan has seen a huge surge in infrastructure and technology, which has led to many new and innovative building concepts, ideas and construction techniques. There is now a constant flow of new projects arising, thus leading to a new, transformed, modernised form of architecture.

Technology 

It is almost a quarter-century since Omar al-Bashir appointed himself President of Sudan. In that same year, 1993, America deemed al-Bashir’s government a state sponsor of terror – a label it shares with Syria and Iran. Sanctions that prevent Sudan’s banks from making international transfers, and which prevent American businesses from dealing in the African country, have endured ever since.They may soon be dropped, ending the isolation of one of the world’s largest countries by area. And while debate rages as to whether al-Bashir has done much to earn the move, a small but energetic entrepreneurial community could be set to win big.The Sudanese Pound, introduced after the south’s split, suffers from a 20% inflation rate. However economic growth has rallied steadily in recent years, from just 1.6% in 2014 to 3.1% last year. Sudan’s GDP per capita is just $2,415, hit hard by the sanctions and the loss of 75% of its oil production revenue when South Sudan seceded in 2011.

Eighty percent of Sudanese citizens therefore rely on agriculture for their income. And while droughts and bad yields are all too commonplace, it is a sector which has received plenty of tech-based focus – as a countrywide entrepreneurial spirit begins to reap its own rewards.The International Atomic Energy Agency has supported a nuclear technology drip irrigation project that began operation in 2015. DAL, Sudan’s largest agriculture corporation, has woken up to cutting edge technology, as it attempts to counter Sudan’s harsh and hot weather. Startup Weekend, the influential global tech workshop, first traveled to Khartoum in 2014, and held its most recent event in the city last November. The Sudan Startup Hub is the first coworking space in Sudan. It is home to large NGOs and corporations like the UN, MTN and Zain. But it is also an attempt to torment entrepreneurialism in Sudan – and has been proactive in encouraging women to join its growing freelance economy.

Ahmed El Murtada is Middle East regional director at Startup Grind. He also works with the University of Khartoum’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Community , one of Sudan’s loudest startup cheerleaders. El Murtada sees technology as a vital way to diversify and expand Sudan’s economy. Infrastructure, El Murtada adds, does little to help. Power shortages hamper online ventures. And an Internet penetration of just 26.4%, and mobile subscriptions at just 70% of the population, mean that entrepreneurs must get creative if they are to solve Sudan’s many issues sitting in front of a laptop. Companies have, slowly, begun to see Sudan as a potential marketplace rather than political hot potato. The Trump administration has indicated that it will drop sanctions soon. Many locals hoped they would be dropped altogether by this month. That may still happen. But the President has maintained that Khartoum must show its commitment to peace if the sanctions lift is to hold. «The Sudanese government knows that my administration will hold them responsible for any breach of obligations which came through strong bilateral ties and effective monitoring,» wrote Trump.

In anticipation of the sanctions lift, Sudan has already courted tech. The Korea International Cooperation Agency, a training center, will soon be inaugurated in Khartoum. Korean multinationals such as Daewoo, LG, Hyundai and Samsung already operate in the country. If and when the sanctions are lifted, El Murtada sees a country with much to contribute to the digital economy – especially with regards to beta testing, «because of its diverse population of more than 40m, which is composed of Africans, Arabs and expats. The country also has 853 kilometers of coastline and access to the Red Sea through Port Sudan, main port city». Sudan «continues to face countless social, economic and political challenges,» he adds. «However, this has not dampened the spirits of young Sudanese people, who are trying to use these structural challenges as a motivation to produce home-grown solutions in their budding startup ecosystem».

Social Wellness and Human Resources

Khartoum is one of the largest Muslim cities in North Africa. Sunni Muslims, which make up 70 of Sudan’s population, are concentrated in the north of the country; Christians make up five percent and are mostly in south and Khartoum; while 25 percent follow indigenous beliefs. Khartoum has Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Coptic cathedrals, Greek and Maronite churches, and several mosques.

Black people make up 52 percent of Sudan’s population, Arab 39 percent, Beja 6 percent, foreigners 2 percent, and others 1 percent. Sudan has faced large refugee influxes from neighboring countries, primarily Ethiopia and Chad.

Arabic is the official language. English is widely spoken, and is an official language. More than 100 languages and dialects are identified, including Nubian, Ta Bedawie, diverse dialects of Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic, Sudanic languages. A program of “Arabization” was in progress in 2008.

Khartoum is the location of the University of Khartoum, founded as Gordon Memorial College in 1902 and renamed in the 1930s, Juba University, which is the only university in Sudan to maintain English as language of instruction, Computerman College, Al Neelain University, Sudan University of Science and Technology, Bayan Science and Technology University, the Academy of Medical Sciences and Technology, Omdurman Islamic University, Ahfad University for Women, the Academy of Medical Sciences and Technology, and the Comboni College for Science and Technology.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khartoum

https://www.britannica.com/place/Khartoum

https://www.worldscapitalcities.com/capital-facts-for-khartoum-sudan/

https://www.corinthia.com/khartoum/discover-khartoum/khartoum-facts-eight-things-to-know-before-you-go/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudan#Government_and_politics

https://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/doing-business-in-sudan-investments-and-untapped-opportunities/61383/

https://www.redherring.com/startups/will-sudans-sanctions-drop-finally-connect-entrepreneurs-world/

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Khartoum#Demographics

 

Sofia

Introduction

Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. It is situated near the geographical centre of the Balkans region, in the Sofia Basin, a troughlike valley in the western part of the country. The city is at the foot of Vitosha mountain in the western part of the country. Being in the centre of the Balkans, it is midway between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea, and closest to the Aegean Sea.Sofia is the 13th largest city in the European Union. It is surrounded by mountains, such as Vitosha by the southern side, Lyulin by the western side, and the Balkan Mountains by the north, which makes it the second highest European capital after Madrid. The city is built on the Iskar river, and has many mineral springs, such as the Sofia Central Mineral Baths. It has a humid continental climate. Being Bulgaria’s primate city, Sofia is home of many of the major local universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies.The city has been described as the ‘triangle of religious tolerance’. This is due to the fact that three colossal temples of the three world major religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism, reside inside the borders of the city, which are the Sveta Nedelya Church, Banya Bashi Mosque and Sofia Synagogue. Sofia has been named one of the top ten best places for start-up businesses in the world, especially in information technologies.

Sofia was Europe’s most affordable capital to visit in 2013. In 1979, the Boyana Church in Sofia was included onto the World Heritage List, and it was deconstructed in the Second Bulgarian Empire, holding much patrimonial symbolism to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. With its cultural significance in Eastern Europe, Sofia is home to the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria, the National Palace of Culture, the Vasil Levski National Stadium, the Ivan Vazov National Theatre, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Serdica Amphitheatre. The Museum of Socialist Art includes many sculptures and posters that educate visitors about the lifestyle in communist Bulgaria.The population of Sofia declined from 70,000 in the late 18th century, through 19,000 in 1870, to 11,649 in 1878, after which it began increasing. Sofia hosts some 1.23 million residents within a territory of 492 km2, a concentration of 17.5% of the country population within the 200th percentile of the country territory. The urban area of Sofia hosts some 1.54 million residents within 5723 km², which comprises Sofia City Province and parts of Sofia Province (Dragoman, Slivnitsa, Kostinbrod, Bozhurishte, Svoge, Elin Pelin, Gorna Malina, Ihtiman, Kostenets) and Pernik Province (Pernik, Radomir), representing 5.16% of the country territory. The metropolitan area of Sofia is based upon one hour of car travel time, stretches internationally and includes Dimitrovgrad in Serbia. Unlike most European metropolitan areas, it is not to be defined as a substantially functional metropolitan area, but is of the type with “limited variety of functions”. The metropolitan region of Sofia is inhabited by a population of 1.68 million and is made up of the whole provinces Sofia City, Sofia and Pernik, comprising more than 10,000 km².

Data and Facts

  • Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe, established in 681 AD. It is also the only European country that hasn’t changed its name after the establishment
  • The first subway station took 30 years to build from 1960 to 1990. Every meter they dug, they found more and more archaeological sites ranging from the era of Thracians to the Romans. They even found thermal water
  • The oldest gold treasure in the world has been found on the territory of Bulgaria, at a burial site to the west of Varna city, close to the Black sea shore. During the digging were found more than 3000 golden artifacts being more than 6000 years old
  • Sofia Valley boasts more than 30 mineral springs, most hotter than 33°C (91.4°F) and low in mineralization, making the water perfect for consumption (after proper cooling at least)
  • At 550 m above sea level, Sofia is one of the highest capitals in Europe – after Andorra la Vella (1,023 m), San Marino (749 m), Madrid (667 m), and Pristina (652 m) – sitting at the base of Vitosha Mountain

Administration 

Sofia Municipality is identical to Sofia City Province, which is distinct from Sofia Province, which surrounds but does not include the capital itself. Besides the city proper, the 24 districts of Sofia Municipality encompass three other towns and 34 villages. Districts and settlements have their own governor who is elected in a popular election. The assembly members are chosen every four years. The common head of Sofia Municipality and all the 38 settlements is the mayor of Sofia. The current mayor Yordanka Fandakova is serving a third consecutive term, having won the 2015 election at first round with 238,500 votes, or 60.2% of the vote, when Reformist Bloc opponent Vili Lilkov was second with 9.6%; the turnout was 41.25%. A precedent happened, due to the suspicion, as a preventative action between 300 and 5000 people and counters had been locked inside Arena Armeets against their will for two days, following which the director of the Electoral Commission of Sofia resigned at the request of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

Sofia is the seat of the executive , legislative and judiciary bodies of Bulgaria, as well as all government agencies, ministries, the National Bank, and the delegation of the European Commission. The President, along with the Council of Ministers, is located on Independence Square, also known as The Largo or The Triangle of Power. One of the three buildings in the architectural ensemble, the former Bulgarian Communist Party headquarters, is due to become the seat of the Parliament. A refurbishment project is due to be completed in mid-2019, while the old National Assembly building will become a museum or will only host ceremonial political events.Under Bulgaria’s centralised political system, Sofia concentrates much of the political and financial resources of the country. Nevertheless, in the 21st century, crimes, including Bulgarian mafia killings, caused problems in the city, where authorities had difficulties convicting the actors, which had caused the European Commission to warn the Bulgarian government that the country would not be able to join the EU unless it curbed crime . Many of the most severe crimes are contract killings connected to organised crime, but these had dropped in recent years after several arrests of gang members. Corruption in Bulgaria also affects Sofia’s authorities. According to the director of Sofia District Police Directorate, the largest share of the crimes are thefts, making up 62.4% of all crimes in the capital city. Increasing are frauds, drug-related crimes, petty theft and vandalism. According to a survey, almost a third of Sofia’s residents say that they never feel safe in the Bulgarian capital, while 20% always feel safe. As of 2015, the consumer-reported perceived crime risk on the Numbeo database was “high” for theft and vandalism and “low” for violent crimes; safety while walking during daylight was rated «very high», and “moderate” during the night.

Economy 

Sofia is the economic hub of Bulgaria and home to most major Bulgarian and international companies operating in the country, the National Bank and the Bulgarian Stock Exchange. The city’s GDP (PPS) per capita stood at €29,600 ($33,760) in 2015, one of the lowest for a capital region in the EU, but well above other cities in the country. Nominal GDP in 2014 was 32.8 billion leva ($19.1 billion) The average per capita annual income was 6,890 leva ($4,019) in 2014, and average monthly wages in June 2018 were $880, the highest nationally. Services dominate the economy, accounting for 85.9% of gross value added. In 2015, Forbes listed Sofia as one of the top 10 places in the world to launch a startup business, because of the low corporate tax (10%), the fast internet connection speeds available – one of the fastest in the world, and the presence of several investment funds, including Eleven Startup Accelerator, LAUNCHub and Neveq.

Historically, after World War II and the era of industrialisation under socialism, the city and its surrounding areas expanded rapidly and became the most heavily industrialised region of the country. The influx of workers from other parts of the country became so intense that a restriction policy was imposed, and residing in the capital was only possible after obtaining Sofianite citizenship. However, after the political changes in 1989, this kind of citizenship was removed. In 2015, Globalization and World Cities Research Institute ranked Sofia as Beta- world city. As of 12 September 2018, Sofia is ranked among the 100 financial top centres worldwide. Up until 2007, Sofia experienced rapid economic growth. In 2008, apartment prices increased dramatically, with a growth rate of 30%. In 2009, prices fell by 26%. In January 2015, Sofia was ranked 30th out of 300 global cities in terms of combined growth in employment and real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in 2013–2014. This was the highest rank amongst cities in Southeast Europe. The real GDP (PPP) per capita growth was 2.5% to $33,105 (28,456 euro) and the employment went up by 3.4% to 962,400 in 2013–2014.

Business Environment

Sofia is one of the top ten cities in the world to found a company. With as little as a bunch of enthusiasts, €20M that the two early stage investment funds Eleven and Launchub deployed to 200+ projects, the two major co-working spaces that were founded around that time and the first widely known IT exit of Telerik, the environment has started to change its face. It has happened primarily due to private investments and private efforts. With one exception, there are no state-backed startup activities or initiatives that have brought significant results in Bulgaria.

In 2010 Alexander Mihaylov organized a meetup to explore the niche for coworking spaces in Sofia, after he had already been part of the betahaus Berlin creation. Predominantly advertising agencies, creatives and freelancers appeared to the event. Startup was certainly not a well known concept.

The first signs of any entrepreneurial culture in the city were a VC fund called NEVEQ and two organizations called Start It Smart and Startup Foundation. While NEVEQ was an investment fund focused on tech companies that were already in the scaleup stage, the young Start It Smart and Startup Foundation were trying to provide the emerging community with the most basic information and inspiration regarding entrepreneurship. Two major events happened in 2012 – betahaus, the first coworking space in Sofia was launched, and the European Investment Fund chose Eleven and Launchub as fund managers. And so it began.

Companies like Telerik, Chaos Group (the maker of the V-Ray software), and more recently, Tickey, have boosted the reputation of Bulgarian engineers and developers around the world. Sofia was even listed among the 10 top cities to launch a startup in an infographic curated by the The Brighton School of Business and Management and published by Seedstars World. Bulgaria’s low 10% income tax rate makes it particularly attractive for business owners, although they do still have to contend with widespread corruption. But it’s a vibrant ecosystem, albeit not a very well-known one.

Infrastructure

With its developing infrastructure and strategic location, Sofia is a major hub for international railway and automobile transport. Three of the ten Pan-European Transport Corridors cross the city: IV, VIII and X. All major types of transport are represented in the city. The Central Railway Station is the primary hub for domestic and international rail transport, carried out by Bulgarian State Railways , the national rail company headquartered in the city. It is one of the main stations along BDZ Line 1, and a hub of Lines 2, 5 and 13. Line 1 provides a connection to Plovdiv, the second-largest city in Bulgaria, while Line 2 is the longest national railway and connects Sofia and Varna, the largest coastal city. Lines 5 and 13 are shorter and provide connections to Kulata and Bankya, respectively. Overall, Sofia has 186 km of railway lines.Sofia Airport handled 6,962,040 passengers in 2018.Public transport is well-developed with bus 2,380 km , tram 308 km and trolleybus 193 km lines running in all areas of the city. In 2015 new 7 stations were opened and the underground extends to Sofia Airport on its Northern branch and to Business Park Sofia on its Southern branch. In July 2016 the Vitosha Metro Station was opened on the M2 main line. A third line is currently under construction and is expected to be finished in the second half of 2019. This line will complete the proposed underground system of three lines with about 65 km of lines. The master plan for the Sofia Metro includes three lines with a total of 63 stations. Marshrutkas provide an efficient and popular means of transport by being faster than public transport, but cheaper than taxis. There are around 13,000 taxi cabs operating in the city. Additionally, all-electric vehicles are available through carsharing company Spark, which is set to increase its fleet to 300 cars by mid-2019.

The municipality was known for minor and cosmetic repairs and many streets are in a poor condition. This is noticeably changing in the past years. There are different boulevards and streets in the city with a higher amount of traffic than others. These include Tsarigradsko shose, Cherni Vrah, Bulgaria, Slivnitsa and Todor Aleksandrov boulevards, as well as the city’s ring road, where long chains of cars are formed at peak hours and traffic jams occur regularly. Consequently, traffic and air pollution problems have become more severe and receive regular criticism in local media. The extension of the underground system is hoped to alleviate the city’s immense traffic problems. Sofia has an extensive district heating system based around four combined heat and power plants and boiler stations.

Technology 

The first science and technology park was built by the government and operated in a pretty institutional style for some years. The Sofia Tech Park, in which so far nearly €50M have been invested, was officially launched in 2015, and consists of three modules – a complex of 11 high tech labs, an incubator for startup companies and an event center. The concept, as in every government backed technology park, is to facilitate the collaboration between startups, academia and established business and provide them with crucial infrastructure to work together. So far this hasn’t happened. In the first three years the conference center was the only fully functional component of the technology park, where a lot of smaller and bigger international events have happened.

Since the beginning of this year finally a member of the startup community has the mandate to make decisions regarding the further development of the park. There are another 20 companies in the incubator, at least on paper, but they use it rather as an office space than as a typical coworking. The new management has the ambition to finally get the technology park function as the facility it was meant to be from the very beginning. «Our long-term goal is to become the hotspot of science-based entrepreneurship and tech transfer in South-East Europe and attract global, regional and national researchers, scientists and innovative companies», Natanail Stefanov, Vice Chairman of The Executive Board of Sofia Tech Park, told Trending Topics. The most mature and strategic effort so far, however, comes again from the private sector.

Bulgaria’s IT industry is booming and women are playing a key role: Around half of the people working in the country’s technology sector are women. It is becoming an incubator for startups. Over 80 percent of the startups in Bulgaria are developing products and services that will go on the international market.If statistics are anything to go by, their chances are excellent: «Companies with women in charge achieve results that are 63 percent more positive compared to companies led by men,» Bulgarian EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel told DW. Nearly 26.6 percent of employees in the industry are women. Germany — at 16.6 percent — lags far behind.

In the past several years the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Bulgaria has matured significantly. The development of collaborative and coworking spaces is one visible indicator for those processes. There are already different verticals on this market – hubs dedicated to specific sectors and activities such as social entrepreneurship , IT , creative etc. And there are a lot of organizations working towards the further development of this ecosystem.

The next step for Sofia is to mix the established business with the startup spirit. And obviously everyone is heading in this direction.«The coworking culture is a proven concept for companies that realize the importance of happier teams. The team satisfaction, which also directly influences productivity, is a key factor for the companies of the future. We see a shift in the way corps think about having some of their teams in shared offices and that’s a trend that will last», Metodi Terziev of betahaus said.

Social Wellness and Human Resources

According to 2018 data, the city has a population of 1,269,384 and the whole Sofia Capital Municipality of 1,328,120. The first census carried out in February 1878 by the Russian Army recorded a population of 11,694 inhabitants including 6,560 Bulgarians, 3,538 Jews, 839 Turks and 737 Romani. The ratio of women per 1,000 men was 1,102. The birth rate per 1000 people was 12.3 per mille and steadily increasing in the last 5 years, the death rate reaching 12.1 per mille and decreasing. The natural growth rate during 2009 was 0.2 per mille, the first positive growth rate in nearly 20 years. The considerable immigration to the capital from poorer regions of the country, as well as urbanisation, are among the other reasons for the increase in Sofia’s population. The infant mortality rate was 5.6 per 1,000, down from 18.9 in 1980. According to the 2011 census, people aged 20–24 years are the most numerous group, numbering 133,170 individuals and accounting for 11% of the total 1,202,761 people. The median age is 38 though. According to the census, 1,056,738 citizens are recorded as ethnic Bulgarians, 17,550 as Romani, 6,149 as Turks, 9,569 belonged to other ethnic groups, 6,993 do not self-identify and 105,762 remained with undeclared affiliation.

This statistic should not necessarily be taken at face value due to conflicting data – such as for the predominantly Roma neighbourhood of Fakulteta, which alone may have a population of 45,000.According to the 2011 census, throughout the whole municipality some 892,511 people are recorded as Eastern Orthodox Christians, 10,256 as Protestant, 6,767 as Muslim, 5,572 as Roman Catholic, 4,010 belonged to other faith and 372,475 declared themselves irreligious or did not mention any faith. The largest group are occupied in trading, followed by those in manufacturing industry. Within the municipality, three-quarters, or 965,328 people are recorded as having access to television at home and 836,435 as having internet. Out of 464,865 homes – 432,847 have connection to the communal sanitary sewer, while 2,732 do not have any. Of these 864 do not have any water supply and 688 have other than communal. Over 99.6% of males and females aged over 9 are recorded as literate. The largest group of the population aged over 20 are recorded to live within marriage , another 43.8% are recorded as single and another 9.9% as having other type of coexistence/partnership, whereas not married in total are a majority and among people aged up to 40 and over 70. The people with juridical status divorced or widowed are either part of the factual singles or those having another type of partnership, each of the two constitutes by around 10% of the population aged over 20. Only over 1% of the juridically married do not de facto live within marriage. The families that consist of two people are 46.8%, another 34.2% of the families are made up by three people, whereas most of the households consist of only one person.Sofia was declared the national capital in 1879. One year later, in 1880, it was the fifth-largest city in the country after Plovdiv, Varna, Ruse and Shumen. Sofia concentrates the majority of Bulgaria’s leading performing arts troupes. Theatre is by far the most popular form of performing art, and theatrical venues are among the most visited, second only to cinemas. There were 3,162 theatric performances with 570,568 people attending in 2014.

The Ivan Vazov National Theatre, which performs mainly classical plays and is situated in the very centre of the city, is the most prominent theatre. The National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria is a combined opera and ballet collective established in 1891. Regular performances began in 1909. Some of Bulgaria’s most famous operatic singers, such as Nicolai Ghiaurov and Ghena Dimitrova, made their first appearances on the stage of the National Opera and Ballet. Cinema is the most popular form of entertainment: there were more than 141,000 film shows with a total attendance exceeding 2,700,000 in 2014. Over the past two decades, numerous independent cinemas have closed and most shows are in shopping centre multiplexes. Odeon shows exclusively European and independent American films, as well as 20th century classics.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sofia

https://www.britannica.com/place/Sofia

https://www.travelwithwinny.com/bulgaria-sofia-travel/

https://routes.tips/blog/10_interesting_facts_about_sofia

https://visitmybulgaria.com/15-interesting-facts-about-sofia-and-bulgaria-that-youve-never-heard/

http://flipfloppeople.com/Sofia-Top-Interesting-Facts-189

https://www.forbes.com/sites/federicoguerrini/2016/04/14/is-sofia-bulgaria-the-real-digital-capital-of-the-new-markets/#1d896edb7bbf

https://www.trendingtopics.eu/starup-ecosystem-sofia-bulgaria/

https://www.dw.com/en/bulgarian-capital-sofia-becoming-a-womens-silicon-valley/a-43842959

Tunis

Introduction

Tunis is the capital and largest city of Tunisia. Tunis was built at the end of the shallow Lake of Tunis, an inlet of the Gulf of Tunis, and is linked with its port, Ḥalq al-Wādī, 6 miles (10 km) to the northeast. The greater metropolitan area of Tunis, often referred to as “Grand Tunis”, has about 2,700,000 inhabitants, making it the third-largest city in the Maghreb region (after Casablanca and Algiers) and the sixteenth-largest in the Arab world.

Situated on a large Mediterranean Sea gulf (the Gulf of Tunis), behind the Lake of Tunis and the port of La Goulette (Ḥalq il-Wād), the city extends along the coastal plain and the hills that surround it. At its core lies its ancient medina, a World Heritage Site. East of the medina through the Sea Gate (also known as the Bab el Bhar and the Porte de France) begins the modern city, or Ville Nouvelle, traversed by the grand Avenue Habib Bourguiba (often referred to by popular press and travel guides as “the Tunisian Champs-Élysées”), where the colonial-era buildings provide a clear contrast to smaller, older structures. Further east by the sea lie the suburbs of Carthage, La Marsa, and Sidi Bou Said. As the capital city of the country, Tunis is the focus of Tunisian political and administrative life; it is also the centre of the country’s commercial and cultural activities. It has two cultural centres, as well as a municipal theatre that is used by international theatre groups and a summer festival, the International Festival of Carthage, which is held in July.

Data and Facts

  • In 2015, an estimated 2.2 million people lived in Tunis city or nearby built-up urban areas. Combining the perimeters for Tunis and the surrounding built-up areas cover a total 170 square miles (440 square kilometers)
  • At the country level, Tunisia’s land area covers 59,985 square miles (155,360 square kilometers). The national population count was 11.1 million inhabitants as of July 2016
  • Population density is much more concentrated within Tunisia’s capital city with an average 13,200 residents per square mile (5,100 per square kilometer)
  • Within the vast Grand Tunis metropolitan region, density diminishes to an average 2,600 people per square mile (1,000 per square kilometer) for Tunis’s greater metropolitan area
  • Tunisia exported an estimated US$13.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016. Highest-value Tunisian exports are insulated wire or cable, olive oil, petroleum oil, clothing and electrical circuitry equipment

Administration 

Tunis has been the capital of Tunisia since 1159. Under Articles 43 and 24 of the Constitution of 1959, Tunis and its suburbs host the national institutions: the Presidential Palace, which is known as Carthage Palace, residence of the President of Tunisia, the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Advisors and parliament, the Constitutional Council and the main judicial institutions and public bodies. The revised Tunisian Constitution of 2014 similarly provides that the National Assembly is to sit in Tunis (article 51) and that the Presidency is based there (article 73). Following the municipal elections of 6 May 2018, Ennahdha obtained 21 seats out of 60. Nidaa Tounes came second with 17 seats. On 3 July 2018, the head of the Ennahdha list Souad Abderrahim was elected by the council as the new mayor of the capital. Before 2011, unlike other mayors in Tunisia, the mayor of Tunis was appointed by decree of the President of the Republic from among the members of the City Council. The 2008 budget adopted by the City Council is structured as follows: 61.61 million dinars for operations and 32,516 million dinars for investment.

It reflects the improved financial situation of the municipality, the year 2007 was a year registering a surplus in resources that allowed the settlement of debts of the municipality and the strengthening of its credibility with respect to its suppliers and public and private partners. Revenues are generated by the proceeds of taxes on buildings and vacant lots, fees for the rental of municipal property, income from the operation of the public, advertising, and the fact that the municipality has capital shares in some companies. On the expenditure side, provision is made for the consolidation of hygiene and cleanliness, the state of the environment and urban design, infrastructure maintenance, rehabilitation and renovation of facilities, and strengthening the logistics and means of work and transport.

The city of Tunis, whose size has increased significantly during the second half of the 20th century, now extends beyond the Tunis Governorate into parts of the governorates of Ben Arous, Ariana and Manouba. The municipality of Tunis is divided into 15 municipal districts: These include El Bab Bhar, Bab Souika, Cité El Khadra, Jelloud Jebel El Kabaria, El Menzah, El Ouardia, Ettahrir, Ezzouhour, Hraïria, Medina, El Omrane, El Omrane Higher Séjoumi, Sidi El-Bashir and Sidi Hassine.

Economy 

Products include textiles, carpets, and olive oil. Tourism also provides a significant portion of the city’s income. Because of the concentration of political authority and culture , Tunis is the only nationally ranking metropolis. Tunis is the heartland of the Tunisian economy and is the industrial and economic hub of the country, home to one third of Tunisian companies—including almost all the head offices of companies with more than fifty employees, with the exception of the Compagnie des Phosphates de Gafsa, headquartered in Gafsa—and produces a third of the national gross domestic product.

Tunis attracts foreign investors , excluding several areas due to economic imbalances. The urban unemployment rate of university graduates is increasing and the illiteracy rate remains high among the elderly .The number of people living below the poverty line, falling at the national level, remains higher in urban areas. In addition, unemployment is high in young people aged 18 to 24, with one in three unemployed as compared to one in six at the national level. In Greater Tunis, the proportion of young unemployed is at 35%.Gulf finance house or GFH has invested $10 billion in order for the construction of tunis financial harbor, that will transform Tunisia as the gateway to Africa from Europe. The project hopes to boost the economy of Tunisia as well as increase the number of tourists visiting Tunisia annually. The city is the largest financial center in the country hosting the headquarters of 65% of financial companies – while the industrial sectors are gradually declining in importance.

However the secondary industry is still very represented and Tunis hosts 85% of industrial establishments in the four governorates, with a trend towards the spread of specialized industrial zones in the suburbs. Primary industry such as agriculture, however, is active in specialized agricultural areas on the suburbs, particularly in the wine and olive oil industries. The generally flat terrain and the two main rivers in Tunisia, the Medjerda to the north and the Milian to the south, the soils are fertile. Tunis has several large plains, the most productive are in Ariana and La Soukra , the plain of Manouba and the plain of Mornag . In addition, groundwater is easily accessible through the drilling of deep wells, providing water for the different agriculture crops.

Business Environment

The World Bank ranks Tunisia at 74 out of 189 economies around the world in terms of ease of doing business. A company can be established in as little as 10 days with 11 procedures required. Minimum paid up capital required is low at $US500. A resident director is required for certain company set-ups but international incorporation services companies such as Healy Consultants Group PLC can provide nominee services.The workforce is plentiful and young. Literacy is estimated to be around 80% and as high as 100% in the age range 18-25. Employment is reported to be as high as 40% amongst the younger generation so there is a large workforce available with a low minimum wage requirement of only about 147.2 euros per month.The security situation is not ideal and the terrorist group ISIS have caused much havoc here in recent years. The government are working to stabilise the situation though and I just read recently how they have dispatched hundreds of police to the beaches and resorts to patrol and secure the tourist areas. There is talks of the U.K. lifting their travel advise not to travel in phases after the holy month of Ramadan. While the security issues have devastated the tourist industry (hotel occupancy down to as low as 5% according to some source), the economy seems to be weathering the storm.In 2015 the government reduced tax from 30% to 25% for corporations and some startups are even eligible for 5-year tax holiday making it an attractive place for company incorporation in North Africa. Additionally, businesses exporting their products and services are only subject to 10% tax which makes it an ideal place for a call service center and other similar businesses.The language of Tunisia is Tunisian Arabic making communication with their Middle Eastern neighbours smoother. About 30% can speak french and Increasingly university graduates are becoming fluent in English.The OEC report (2014) reports that Tunisia is the 75th largest export economy in the world with exports of $16.1B and imports of $22.7B. Top exports are insulated wire, crude petroleum, non-knit men’s suits, non-knit women’s suits and low voltage protection equipment. Top imports include refined petroleum, petroleum gas, cars, low voltage protection equipment and wheat.World trade Organisation(WTO) – Tunisia has been a member of WTO since 1995 and General Agreement on tariffs and trade (GATT) since 1990. It also has double tax avoidance treaties with over 45 countries.

Infrastructure

Tunis is served by the Tunis-Carthage International Airport. The growing metropolitan area is served by an extensive network of public transportation including buses, an above-ground light rail system , as well a regional train line that links the city centre to its closest northern suburbs. Multi-lane autoroutes surround the city and serve the increasing number of privately owned cars one encounters in Tunisia. The Tunis area is served by the métro léger and TGM , as well as bus services, and is linked to other places in Tunisia by SNCFT, the national railways. The important transport authorities are the Société des Transports de Tunis [and the Ministry of Transport The A1 motorway connects Tunis with Sfax to the south, and the A3 with Oued Zarga and Béja to the west, while the A4 is the link with Bizerte.

The city has, as of the beginning of the 21st century, a public transportation system developed under the management of the Société des transports de Tunis . In addition to some 200 bus routes, the first light rail line opened in 1985. A new mass transit was planned for Greater Tunis in 2009. This was the RTS , the local equivalent of the Paris RER, which was to carry tens of thousands of travellers from the distant suburbs of Tunis to the centre by using either existing tracks or new tracks yet to be built. The plan was for lines based on certain criteria such as population density and the lack of coverage for a given area. Among the priority lines were: Tunis-Borj Cédria where modernization and electrification are already planned; Tunis-Mohamedia-Fouchana ; Tunis-Manouba-Mnihla ; Tunis-Ezzouhour-Sidi Hassine Séjoumi . In addition, the TGM will be integrated into the light-rail network and a new line built around Ayn Zaghouan and Bhar Lazrag . Such an operation would require the upgrading of the docks’ TGM stations so that they become suitable for light rail trains.[81] Among other projects are a line to the city of Ennasr and the extension of the Tunis-Ettadhamen to Mnihla . For its part, the south light-rail line was extended in November 2008 to El Mourouj with a length of 6.8 kilometres . The terminal had 4.4 million passengers in 2006. In 2007 that increased to 6 million passengers with a rise in tourism to the city. After independence, in the 1960s, the National Board of Seaports, which supports all ports in the country, modernized the infrastructure of the port of Tunis.

In the 21st Century, the port of Tunis underwent further transformation with a marina as part of the redevelopment district of La Petite Sicile. Tunis is the starting point from which the main roads and all highways that serve different parts of the country of Tunis originate. This city has a high density of traffic because vehicle ownership is rising at 7.5% per year. The capital is home to approximately 40% of the cars in Tunisia, with 700,000 cars on average used in the city per day. In this context, major road infrastructure was initiated in the late 1990s to decongest the main areas of the capital.

Technology

The information and communication technologies sector is a priority sector in Tunisia both as a vector for development of other economic sectors but also as a dynamic sector of innovation open to the international market, export, foreign investment, partnership and subcontracting, particularly with African countries. According to the National Institute of Statistics, the sector contributes 7.5% of the GDP and employs around 86,000 people . It is made up of 2,120 private companies, 219 shared service centers, 8 development centers serving multinationals, a telephone density of 98.8 lines / 100 inhabitants and more than 4.1 million Internet users.

IT in Tunisia has experienced growth in production, investment and scientific training and research potential. According to the National Computer Center / CNI , more than 750 IT companies are engaged in the distribution of IT and engineering products . Most of the renowned international firms are present on the Tunisian market, for example SAGEM, ALCATEL, ORANGE, BULL, ERICSSON, OOREDOO and IBM.The IT Services and Engineering Companies assembles 200 companies, 120 of which are specialized in software development. These companies are primarily located in the greater Tunis area.

The size of the Tunisian market remains relatively small and undercapitalization limits development of IT services companies. These companies are strongly interested in foreign investment and partnership.Despite strengths of the sector, companies remain small, and face demands that come largely from public companies with large orders. Indeed, according to a World Bank report, most ICT companies in Tunisia are relatively young and small. About 80% of companies have less than 50 employees.Commercial opportunities exist in Tunisia due to an ambitious digital plan. The Tunisian market is a favorable destination for foreign ICT companies wanting to establish themselves and carry out privileged exchanges. Tunisia is ideally situated for accessing neighboring markets such as Algeria or Libya, as well as other African or Middle Eastern markets. Note that since 2017, about ten Canadian ICT companies have established themselves in Tunisia.Amounting to $ 100 million, will support an approach to promote technologies applied to public administration the digitization of education management services and the improvement of digital resources to reinforce teaching and learning. Source: the World Bank Group.

The World Bank Group announced two new investment projects in support of Tunisia’s goals of building a new economy that encourages entrepreneurs and generates more opportunities and making government more responsive to the needs of citizens through the digital transformation of key public services. The project will finance equity and quasi-equity investments in innovative startups and SMEs, as well as support for concept development, investment readiness and technology adoption. The project will also help entrepreneurship ecosystem players, such as incubators and accelerators, to enhance and expand the outreach of their programs; including to women-led startups and SMEs and those in the interior regions.The US$100 million Digital Transformation for User-Centric Public Services will support a GovTech approach to improving social protection and education, which puts citizens at the center of the reform process and combines innovations in public sector reform, change management and digital technologies. The aim is to ensure vulnerable populations, such as low-income groups, women in rural areas, illiterates and the disabled have access to these key services, and that systems enable greater citizen feedback to hold these services accountable.The Ministry of Information Technology, Communication and Digital Economy will oversee the implementation of both projects. Project Management Units will be housed in the ministry charged with the execution of the projects as well as cross-government coordination with other, concerned ministries. The Innovative Startups and SMEs project will be implemented by the Caisse de Dépôts et Consignations and will be coordinated closely with the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation. The PMUs, and implementing teams, will also coordinate closely with other development partners to ensure complementarity and synergy with ongoing and new investments in the sector.

With the new Start-Up Act, passed on April 2, 2018, Tunisia has started to clear the path for innovation that could lead to economic growth. The Act removed several bureaucratic hurdles that innovative projects faced when creating new business structures—vestiges of a system implemented in colonial times. While the French mostly moved right along modernizing their systems, Tunisia remains stuck in a Kafkaesque maze that is present across every single state office and institution. The Start-Up Act aims to alleviate some of these frustrations. It is a positive and hopeful development for young entrepreneurs looking to change the world around them.

Start-ups currently represent only a small fraction of the economy – their total turnover rate was close to 30 million Dinars in 2018. However, the adoption of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain by multinational organizations could undoubtedly impact not only the economy, but the social understanding of what labor means and how people interact with it. A few projects led by individual ministries are not sustainable or large enough in scope for the long term. It is not enough to have fragmented programs operate in silos within various ministries—it is important to push for the implementation of new technologies to reform the administration itself. Instead, the Tunisian Government could commission a vision-focused, persistent, and structured approach that is implemented with roll-out technology prioritizing inclusion, fairness, and progress.

This agenda would take into consideration the effects that machine learning could have on the job security of hundreds of thousands of public servants. Through the creation of remote or teleworking positions along with a focus on creative, sympathetic, and nuanced thinking; policymakers could make up for the potential loss of jobs that the introduction of public sector automation will cause. New types of work can also help tackle the unemployment rate as the implementation of these new technologies will undoubtedly continue to need more sophisticated skillsets to oversee the work; which require human intervention and oversight. Retraining the public service workforce on the introduction of emerging technology and to mitigate its possible harmful effects is crucial. By recognizing the importance of technology, its clear connection with the economy, and the changing nature of work; the Start-Up Act is a step in the right direction. But for the law to offer real added value to the country, a lot more needs to be done. For the Act to support regional growth, the government should craft communication programs to explain and promote the law with budding start-ups. By showing start-ups how they can use the law for their benefit—in a way that is tailored to the specificities of their region—the government can ensure that start-ups utilize the law fully to continue and expand their work. Disruptive technological change is taking the world by storm, and we are only starting to see the effects of it. Look at the impact of coordinated disinformation campaigns and media manipulation on the democratic process, and repressive regimes’ ubiquitous use of surveillance technologies to suffocate societies and free expression.

Social Wellness and Human Resources

In the years following independence, the population of the metropolitan area continued to grow: by 21.1% from 1956 to 1966 and by 28.5% from 1966 to 1975 . This steady growth was accompanied by changes which affected the nature of the settlement of the capital. Decolonization led to the exodus of some European minorities whose numbers dwindled every year. The gaps created by their departure were filled by Tunisians who emigrated to Tunis from other parts of the country.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the city of Tunis exceeds 2,000,000 inhabitants. After independence, the Tunisian government implemented a plan to cope with population growth of the city and country, a system of family planning, to attempt to lower the rate of population growth. However, between 1994 and 2004, the population of the governorate of Tunis grew more than 1.03% per annum. It represents, in the 2004 census, 9.9% of the total population of Tunisia. As in the rest of Tunisia, literacy in the region of Tunis evolved rapidly during the second half of the 20th century and has reached a level slightly higher than the national average. In 1964 the Dar Ben Abdallah, a palace probably dating back to the 18th century, became the seat of the capital’s Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions. In its exposition halls it holds numerous traditional items, witnesses of the everyday lives of families of the Medina quarter. The Museum of the National Movement is situated in Dar Maâkal Az-Zaïm, which was the residence of nationalist Habib Bourguiba for the entirety of the fight for independence. After the advent of independence, a museum was built there to relate the details of the national struggle between 1938 and 1952. The National Military Museum, opened in 1989 in the suburbs west of the city, holds a collection of 23,000 weapons, 13,000 of which date back to the 19th century, and some of which were used by the Tunisian troops during the Crimean War. Tunis holds some of the most prestigious musical institutions in the country. The Rachidia was founded in 1934 to safeguard Arab music, and in particular to promote Tunisian and malouf music. The group is made up of 22 members, both instrumental players and choral musicians. The Musical Troupe of the City of Tunis was created in 1954 by Salah El Mahdi. It worked on promoting Arab music, on music education and training, and on cooperation with various partners both in Tunisia and abroad. The Tunisian Symphony Orchestra, created in 1969 by the Minister of Culture, has also produced monthly concerts at the Municipal Theater and in various cultural spaces in the city.

Tunis is a center of Tunisian culture. The Théâtre municipal de Tunis, opened on 20 November 1902, showcases opera, ballet, symphonic concerts, drama, etc. On the stage of this theater, many performances are regularly given by Tunisian, Arabic and international actors. The National Theatre of Tunisia is an important public enterprise in Tunis, and since 1988 been located in the Khaznadar palace , renamed «Theater Palace.» In 1993, it also took possession of the former movie theater Le Paris, with a 350-person seating capacity. During each «cultural season» the theater holds over 80 events. The Al Hamra theater was the second theater to be opened in Tunis, situated on El Jazira Road. Al Hamra was one of the most famous theaters in the capital during the 1930s and 1940s. After being closed for fifteen years, it was turned into a small theater in 1986, and since 2001 has housed the first Arab-African center for theater training and research.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunis

https://www.britannica.com/place/Tunis

https://www.worldscapitalcities.com/capital-facts-for-tunis-tunisia/

https://blog.healyconsultants.com/7-good-reasons-to-start-your-business-in-tunisia/

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/new-technologies-for-a-new-tunisia/

https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2019/06/14/tunisia-takes-a-step-closer-to-a-new-economy-and-digital-transformation

https://www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/tunisia-tunisie/market-reports-etudes-de-marches/0002801.aspx?lang=eng