Daily Archives: Sep 7, 2015

By Herald van der Linde, HSBC

On the face of it, it makes no sense that the international flower industry should be headquartered in the Netherlands. The feeble sunshine and predisposition for a large number of rainy days would not make the Netherlands the first choice for anyone starting a flower-growing business today – if not for the fact that the business, and its integral supply chains, are already there. This is a huge competitive advantage for a new entrant, who can benefit from such things as the sophisticated Dutch flower auctions, the flower-growers’ associations and advanced research centres.

Academic Michael Porter uses this very example to illustrate his cluster theory of trade development, whereby whole supply chains “cluster” together. Another well-known cluster is the auto manufacturing industry in Michigan in the US. Over 50 per cent of North American auto companies are based in Michigan, and 46 of the top 50 global auto suppliers have operations in the state. Further south in the US, around Dalton in Georgia, over 90 per cent of all functional carpets are produced. It is why Dalton is called the “carpet capital of the world”. Read more

Nigeria’s new government must use its mandate to implement much-needed reforms in the oil and gas sector, which continues to be the driving force behind the economy. The country has achieved what initially looked to be an unlikely result – democratic elections and a peaceful transition of power. This is an important step towards the country’s full transformation into a developed economy and should be used as a platform for real change.

For a country so rich in oil and with almost ideal geological characteristics, Nigeria suffers from poorly developed infrastructure and sub-par living standards for the majority of the population. Since Shell discovered its first commercial oilfield in the Niger delta, Nigeria has grown to become Africa’s largest oil producer. The oil industry quickly crowded out investment in other sectors of the economy and the country’s oil and gas sector continues to be the most important contributor to the budget. Read more

Youth unemployment across the G20 is stuck at 16 per cent. Globally, some 358m young people are not in education, employment or training – more than the population of the US and Canada combined. The scale of the problem is such that the major economies of the world are at serious risk of another financial crisis if nothing is done. How do we ensure a bright future for our youth that not only contributes to their livelihood, but builds upon and strengthens our economic foundations?

The answer of course is obvious – produce more jobs and provide skills and confidence to young people. But how we get there is a better question to ask. Read more

Four years after independence there is very little to celebrate in South Sudan. Border and land disputes continue to strain ties, and given other high-visibility emergencies the civil war is not the subject of much attention from international media. However, there is a small good news story amid all the conflict in the form of new investment in agriculture as a means of providing livelihoods and promoting peace. It turns out that sustainable agriculture, particularly coffee, can be an important building block for peace and development in Africa. Read more