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CNN talks to Jim Thompson, an executive who started his own company by taking big risks.
Clothing manufacturers thought they could count on stable cotton prices. They were wrong. CNN's Maggie Lake reports.
(CNN) - If you have $90 then you could own your slave.
Depending on the kind of person you are that sentence could be at once shocking, saddening or darkly comical. However you might feel though, it’s the plain truth, says Kevin Bales.
The modern-day slavery expert explained to CNN that the current $90 rate for a human slave is actually at an historic low. Two hundred years ago, a slave cost about $40,000 in today’s money. The reason for this price slide: a massive boom in the world’s population, especially in developing countries, has increased the supply of “slaveable” people.
And this has basically turned a human being into a cheap commodity – Bales says like a Styrofoam cup that’s cheaply replaceable if damaged, “If they get sick, what’s the point of paying for medicine – it’s cheaper to let them die and acquire a new one than it is to help the ones you’ve got.
What sound would you associate with Africa? For me, it is the hum of generators.
From Lagos to Maputo, from Addis Ababa to Dar es Salaam, many businesses are powered by generators because power is either non-existent or intermittent.
I recently chatted with someone from the World Energy Council and he told me that in most sub-Saharan African countries about 15% of the population has access to a consistent, standard supply of electricity. It is only in three countries (South Africa, Mauritius and Botswana) that electricity access rates are above 50%, he said.
Basically, nearly three-quarters of the continent has no access to power when the sun sets over Africa. We know that seen from space at night, Africa is pitch dark while other regions twinkle with light.
The implications are huge. I concede that this realization is nothing new - the need for more power stations and for creating clean sources of energy is a widely recognized issue. However, I spend each week talking about “Business in Africa” and the striking question is, how will Africa embrace the opportunities of the 21st century if there is no stable electricity network to power growth?
As the continent continues to develop at the rates we are currently seeing, the demand for more power is only going to grow. This is, of course, only going to put further pressure on the already inefficient infrastructure.
There are solutions - and many countries are trying to rectify the situation - but the process is expensive and slow.
How bad is the electricity situation where you are? Which African country is the worst affected by power cuts? How do you deal with not having regular electricity? Is this issue one of the biggest barriers to development?
About Business 360
CNN International's business anchors and correspondents get to grips with the issues affecting world business, and they want your questions and feedback.