Writing

Client Opinion Pieces

Explore a featured selection of my authored and co-authored work for clients below, which have been featured in a wide range of global media. Topics range from agricultural development, science, public health, climate action, and more. 

Commitments don’t grow crops: why Africa needs action to tackle hunger once and for all

The meeting of our leaders in Addis Ababa at the African Union Summit this month, therefore, takes place against dire, if not entirely unprecedented, circumstances. For instance, my own country of Sierra Leone is among the most exposed to the escalating impacts of climate change. These changes in the climate – from unpredictable rainfall to rising temperatures – disrupt agricultural yields and food systems at large.

These challenges arise at a critical time when over 50 percent of the household

The world needs an International Decade for Data–or risk splintering into AI ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots,’ UN researchers warn

The rapid rise in data-driven technologies is shaping how many of us live–from biometric data collected by our smartwatches, artificial intelligence (AI) tools and models changing how we work, to social media algorithms that seem to know more about our content preferences than we do. Greater amounts of data are affecting all aspects of our lives, and indeed, society at large.

This explosion in data risks creating new inequalities, equipping a new set of “haves” who benefit from the power of dat

How Africa’s cotton markets could help to boost continental growth

Africa’s reputation as a resource-rich powerhouse is well-known. The continent is famously abundant in a wide variety of sought-after natural resources that are produced for international export, from coffee and cacao to diamonds and the rare materials that power modern smartphones and electric batteries. Can Africa’s cotton sector also become a major export revenue source for the continent and boost continental growth?

Recent trends are discouraging – Africa’s global exports of cotton products

Reducing food loss and waste: A hidden solution to the climate crisis

Question: What does food have to do with climate change?

Previously misunderstood or ignored for too long, there’s now a growing awareness of the integral connection between global food systems and the climate crisis.

We see the link in the surge of storms and floods that disrupt food supplies. We see it with extreme heat and droughts that devastate agricultural production. We see it in the rise of diseases and pests, like locusts, that harm livestock and crops.

Meanwhile, food production and

How ambitious AfCFTA implementation can drive agricultural trade growth for Africa

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which entered into force in May 2019, promised to unlock the full potential of Africa’s agricultural sector and accelerate sustainable economic growth and food security throughout the region. However, recent crises, from the conflict in Ukraine to the aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic and the accelerating impact of climate change, have given rise to significant setbacks for continental food security and prosperity.

Still, government

Underground colonies of fungi could help us grow stronger, more plentiful food crops

If scientists can ensure continuous colonisation of plants by fungi, even where sufficient nutrients are present, by using modern genetic engineering techniques, it could result in substantially less chemical fertiliser being needed, as more will be absorbed after each application.

Likewise, researchers are looking to better understand a soil bacteria called rhizobia, which has a unique ability to convert, or ‘fix’, nitrogen from the air into a form that can be absorbed by plants.

Currently, t

How dormant plant traits could be reawakened to unlock fertiliser-free farming

FPlants are among the most intrepid explorers on Earth. Roughly 460 million years ago, the first plants started leaving lakes and rivers and appeared on land. At that time, the surface of Earth was mostly bare rock.

These pioneers had to overcome extraordinary challenges as they transitioned from their aquatic lifestyle. The crops we grow to feed ourselves now are struggling to adapt to the new extremes in our climate. But there is a way to help protect them: reawaken their ancient resilience.

Gender equality can accelerate Africa’s food systems transformation – Here are 5 ways to make this happen

Beautiful African agriculturist in the farm using laptop There is more than enough evidence that gender inequality has far-reaching ramifications for various sectors, with the toll heavily borne by women, limiting their potential to be agents of change. Tackling the inequalities facing women is not only a moral imperative; it just makes economic sense. If women had equal access to and decision-making power over productive resources, income-generating activities, education, and services, there wo

How to unlock African women’s power in the agri-food business

Countries across Africa are making progress towards gender equality in the agriculture sector, but challenges such as COVID-19 and conflict have undermined these efforts.

In fact, in 2021, Africa was the region with the highest global increase of people suffering from severe or moderate food insecurity. This inhibited progress affects the continent as a whole, with dire ramifications for women. Recognising women as agents of change and leveraging their contributions to Africa's agrifood systems

Amid worsening global crises, children need a new safety net

From a myriad of armed conflicts to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shocking impact of climate change and dire cost-of-living hardships, the world is living through a polycrisis that is impacting all corners of the world like never before.

Yet amid this all, we must not forget that it is children — especially those who are growing up alone, in fragile family environments or without adequate care — who suffer the most. It is therefore urgent to focus on providing a new safety

Three ways the world is finally making progress on food waste

One of the most pressing global challenges is built on a paradox: more than 828 million people are facing hunger in the world today, yet one-third of all food produced for human consumption worldwide continues to be lost or wasted each year. From inadequate storage infrastructure to oddly shaped vegetables or simply misleading “sell by” dates, too much good food ends up in landfills.

Food banks are one solution that can play a critical role in both supporting people and reducing food waste. But

Opinion: Insect-resistant cowpea two years on: Scaling a best-practice agricultural innovation to feed a growing African population

Two years ago, Nigeria commercialized SAMPEA 20-T, a breakthrough new variety of insect-resistant cowpea – a critical crop for nutrition and livelihoods throughout sub-Saharan Africa. This breakthrough not only illustrated how advances in crop innovation are reaching smallholder farmers – but also the significant work that remains in scaling uptake to reach more communities, more effectively.

Eaten by roughly 200 million Africans, predominantly in West Africa, cowpea is commonly referred to as

From ‘Gateway to the West’, St. Louis blazes new trail as major agtech hub

Known originally as the “Gateway to the West” as it meets the confluence of the great Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, St. Louis is now increasingly recognized for the flow of scientific advancement that is transforming its role into that of a major agricultural technology capital.

Tackling rising global hunger in the context of complex challenges like climate change requires the right mix of research institutes, industry and start-up agility. Thankfully, this “frontier” spirit of innovation is

Malawi’s former president: ‘Africa’s food systems are in danger of failing due to high debt and climate change. A new financial pact can reverse this’

Agriculture is the cornerstone of African communities and economies. Not only is the majority of the continent’s working population employed in the sector, but just under a quarter of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP is generated by the work of its farmers. Yet, climate change is now undermining what progress has been made across the continent in the last few decades–with hunger, malnutrition, and poverty all on the rise.

Amidst these challenges, the significant debt servicing obligations that African

Foodbanks can help tackle East Africa’s hunger crises

Foodbanking builds on African traditions of generosity and communal help and can play a key role in redistributing food in times of drought.

Facing a sixth consecutive failed rainy season, countries in the Horn of Africa are staring at the region’s worst drought in at least 70 years. This, research shows, would not have happened without climate change.

As crops fail and livestock dies out, families are being forced to go without food. More than 20 million people now face severe levels of food

A crop pandemic could devastate the Global South. Here’s how to limit the risk

While the spread of plant disease may be difficult to prevent, the consequences on food security and economies needn’t be. Donors, particularly in developed countries, which have access to many of these tools, must support the scaling up of essential disease monitoring and prevention systems in low- and middle-income countries.

After all, as we saw during the Covid-19 pandemic, preventing outbreaks anywhere is in everyone’s interests everywhere.

To begin with, donors and aid-giving countries s

How a Data and AI Revolution is Helping Africa’s Farmers Build Resilience and Productivity Through More Accurate Predictions

Dr. Racine Ly, Director, Department of Data Management, Digital Products, and Technology, AKADEMIYA2063, discusses how the emerging technology revolution is helping Africa’s farmers build resilience through innovative crop production predictions.

From climate change and conflicts to health crises, plant disease, and pest outbreaks, Africa’s food production systems are constantly battling numerous threats. Countering these shocks would require accessible data and quality evidence, not only for A

African farmers have a data problem – but modern technology can help

From automated tractors, temperature and moisture sensors, all the way to aerial imagery and drones, farmers in most advanced agricultural systems are in an increasingly digital world, with a range of vital data available at the touch of a button.

Yet, despite increasing threats such as climate change and the spread of new pests and diseases, farmers in Africa with access to data remains limited – often passed down from the previous generation or fellow farmers – to inform what and how they gro

How the Rise of Timor-Leste’s Aquaculture Sector Is a Blueprint for Other Small Island Nations

How the Rise of Timor-Leste’s Aquaculture Sector Is a Blueprint for Other Small Island Nations

PENANG, Malaysia, May 3 2023 (IPS) - For Timor-Leste, as with most other islands in the Pacific, fortunes are to be found in fish – an equity food available to all regardless of status.


Nevertheless, the island is highly exposed to the impacts of climate change, hampering domestic food production and contributing to Timor-Leste’s ranking of 110th out of 121 countries for malnutrition. Meanwhile, th

In wake of ‘natural’ disasters, not reducing biodiversity loss is a big missed opportunity (commentary)

Floods, heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires – a changing climate is bringing with it ever more frequent and destructive so-called “natural” disasters, often impacting the most vulnerable areas and communities of the world.

Amidst these rising impacts, the role of nature is too often framed as “creating” such events. Yet, as both science and traditional knowledge attest, nature is not only our best defense against climate-related hazards, it is also a bountiful source of benefits and advantages f

What food banks need to prevent the worst of the coming recession

After a year of rising inflation and shocks to supply chains during 2022, little relief is expected in 2023, with many of the world’s economies now staring down the prospect of recession in the coming year.

So much so, as countries and international businesses gathered at Davos, the World Economic Forum is called for “bold collective action” to address the “sheer number of ongoing crises.”

Ultimately, the access to healthy food will be at the forefront of the coming economic upset, with acute

The African innovations unlocking new pathways to scale access to climate finance

Climate change has reduced productivity growth of African food systems by 34 per cent since 1961. Still, continued warming to 2C this century could cause crop yields to fall by up to 20 per cent by 2030, endangering countless lives and livelihoods alike. In the face of this urgent challenge, there remains a huge gap in Africa’s current climate adaptation funding, estimated to be within the region of US$41.3 billion – annually – for the entire continent. To bridge this climate finance gap, Africa

Here’s where Africa can find the food revamp cash it needs | Context

From Rwanda to Benin to Zimbabwe, African countries are finding ways to source climate change adaptation funds at home

While African countries have nearly doubled their annual public expenditure in agriculture since the mid-1990s, absolute funding levels have started to stagnate and decline. This is happening at a time when the continent also faces a climate adaptation finance gap of some $41.3 billion.

While high-income countries must continue to meet their obligations to fund climate adaptat
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Journalism

Topics range from US big tech, business news, the 2020 US Election, US-China relations, and more.

Wildberries, “Russia’s Amazon,” goes head to head with the e-commerce giant in Europe

Founded in 2004 by former teacher Tatyana Bakalchuk, Wildberries has since leapfrogged larger competitors to become one of the country’s largest online retailers.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to remarkable growth in the global e-commerce industry, but global giants like Amazon.com, Inc. haven’t been the only ones to profit.

A report from International Business Machines Corporation’s (IBM) United States Retail Index in August 2020 suggested that the pandemic had accelerated the shift away f

Uber drivers declared “workers” in the UK. What does this mean for the “gig economy?”

The ruling could be transformative for Uber’s business not just in the UK, but worldwide.

The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court has delivered a devastating ruling for Uber Technologies, Inc., declaring its drivers to be “workers” and, in the process, entitling thousands of drivers in the UK to minimum wage and other rights.

The ruling, which originated in a 2016 employment tribunal in which two former drivers argued they “worked” for Uber, could be transformative for Uber’s business not just in t

Janet Yellen calls for “big” stimulus under Biden administration as US recovery slows

The unprecedented public health crisis remains deeply entwined with a difficult economic climate, underscoring the significant challenges that await the Biden administration.

Now that Joseph R. Biden, Jr. has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, attention has turned to America’s ongoing recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

With more than 400,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus, the country remains in the depths of what the new president has referred to as a “dark wi

What is Biden’s plan to vaccinate America?

President-elect Joe Biden has outlined a plan to accelerate the delivery of vaccines to Americans, calling the rollout overseen by President Donald Trump a “dismal failure thus far.”

The rollout of vaccination programs across the world has accelerated hopes that the end of the coronavirus pandemic is within sight.

But before that end can be realized, more grim news is on the way for the United States.

Experts have projected that the US remains on course to see some 500,000 Americans dead from

Telegram and Signal user numbers soar after WhatsApp rules change

The new policy changes will primarily benefit companies and businesses, which will now be allowed to use WhatsApp’s metadata to produce more targeted advertising and marketing.

A change in the privacy policy of WhatsApp has triggered an exodus of users to the rival messaging platforms Telegram and Signal.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook Inc., requires users to accept recent changes to its privacy policy if they wish to continue using the app. These changes stipulate that the popular messa

What direction will US-China relations take under President Biden?

Under the Biden administration, a different strategy will likely be sought to counter those issues in US-China trade highlighted during the Trump years.

The trade war between the United States and China is likely to be one of the lasting legacies of the Trump administration. Such a legacy should come as no surprise, as then-candidate Trump’s criticism of Chinese trade practices was a key feature of his 2016 presidential campaign.

Yet, after years of tit-for-tat tariffs and sanctions, it appear

US housing market faces unaffordability crisis after coronavirus

Though mortgage rates have been driven low, affordability has not followed and prices have surged over the last year as a result of the pandemic.

Amid the coronavirus-induced instability afflicting Americans’ savings, jobs and livelihoods, there has been one constant – house prices in the United States continue to rise.

A major house price index has shown that prices of houses in 20 US cities rose in October 2020 by some 7.95% on a year-on-year basis and faced a 1.6% rise from the previous mon

After chaos at US Capitol, President Trump is frozen out of social media

The growing conflict between Trump and social media platforms came to a head after the disturbing events of January 6.

Every four years following a presidential election, a joint session of Congress meets to certify the electoral college vote in what is, typically, a ceremonial affair.

The events of January 6, 2021, were anything but ceremonial.

Thousands of Trump supporters gathered in Washington, DC that day for a long-planned march to “Save America.” The rally had been boosted online in ri

China’s scrutiny of tech companies fuels crackdown fears

Chinese tech companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. are closing out the year under significantly more financial and regulatory scrutiny than ever before.

Growing antitrust scrutiny and allegations of monopolistic behavior have led to mass uncertainty among big tech companies operating in the world’s second-largest economy.

Chinese tech companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. are closing out the year under significantly more financi

How will the Biden administration handle Australia-China tensions?

China’s economic and diplomatic conflict with Australia will play a central role in dictating how the new US president navigates relations with the world’s second-largest economy.

Following his inauguration in January, President-elect Joe Biden will face a number of immediate challenges.

The former vice president’s incoming administration will need to take control of an accelerating vaccination program throughout the United States at a time when the coronavirus remains in high circulation. The

How has US-China trade evolved under President Trump?

As President Donald Trump’s term now comes to an end, the future of US-China relations will likely remain volatile under President-elect Joe Biden.

The United States’ trade relationship with China has dominated President Donald Trump’s time in office, which shouldn’t come as any surprise given the president’s tough talk on China during his 2016 presidential campaign.

During that campaign, Trump often spoke critically of US-China trade relations, at one time claiming that China was responsible

Are “vaccination passports” the future of international travel?

The rollout of effective vaccinations promises relief to certain industries that have been relentlessly battered by the pandemic.

With the numbers of vaccinated individuals slowly rising around the United States, a tantalizing prospect has risen for the not-so-distant future – a return to relative normality.

A vaccine that has been proven successful, safe and is widely-available has long been hailed as the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic, which to date has now killed nearly 34

SoftBank CEO wants his company to go private Insiders aren’t so sure

Son is reportedly looking to continue selling assets in order to fund a buyback of shares held in the company, until SoftBank can make the return to being privately-held.

Japanese investment giant Softbank Group Corp. could be taking a radical turn and going private.

At least, according to the alleged plans of founder and chief executive officer Masayoshi Son.

Son is reportedly looking to continue selling assets in order to fund a buyback of shares held in the company, until SoftBank can make

Did concerns over the US debt lead to a smaller stimulus package?

The US$900 billion bipartisan bill is on the lower end of what has been more than half a year’s worth of proposals for further coronavirus stimulus and economic relief.

With agreement having been reached on the latest coronavirus relief bill on Capitol Hill, some lawmakers have begun to reignite old concerns over the United States national debt.

Both as a result of the economic response to the coronavirus pandemic and the policies undertaken throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, US national de

Switzerland and Vietnam declared “currency manipulators” by the US

The designation adds yet another foreign policy conundrum for the incoming Biden administration to ponder, alongside the overarching and dominating issue of US-China relations.

The United States government recently declared Switzerland and Vietnam to be “currency manipulators,” a phrase that is not used lightly by the Treasury Department, nor those accused.

Currency manipulation can occur in a number of forms, but typically refers to interventions by national governments to shift the value of

Vaccine developer AstraZeneca acquires Alexion in a controversial move

Investors are uncertain about the acquisition’s merits, due to Alexion’s huge price tag and its relatively meager contribution to AstraZeneca’s future.

British-Swedish vaccine developer AstraZeneca PLC is acquiring the Boston, Massachusetts-based rare diseases specialist Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. in a bid to secure a post-coronavirus expansion for the company.

In a deal worth some US$39 billion, AstraZeneca will be acquiring Alexion in what will be the biggest deal in AstraZeneca’s history

What does Biden’s economic team say about his priorities?

The team will be tasked with fulfilling the Biden-Harris pledge to “build back better” following the coronavirus pandemic.

The Biden-Harris team has begun unveiling its nominees for the top positions in its economic team, showcasing a preference for prior Washington political experience.

The team will be tasked with fulfilling the Biden-Harris pledge to “build back better” following the coronavirus pandemic, as well as “creating an economy that gives every single American a fair shot and an eq

After a difficult 2020, where is Huawei now?

Now, after a long year of uncertainty and instability for Huawei, it appears the company’s woes are still not at an end.

Huawei Technologies Co. is one of a number of Chinese companies that has come under intense pressure in 2020.

The Chinese telecoms and smartphone giant has been targeted by the Trump administration for allegedly installing “backdoors” into its 5G network infrastructure.

As a result, authorities in the United States have claimed that Huawei’s operations pose a national secur

Trump’s lame-duck presidency sees sanctions of Chinese companies continue

Trump is using the eleventh-hour of his presidency to ratchet up pressure against Chinese corporations before the Biden administration can assume control.

Despite a wave of desperate legal attempts to reverse the decision of a majority of voters in the United States, President Donald Trump has lost his bid for reelection, with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris set to take over on January 20, 2021.

Despite this, Trump is using the eleventh-hour of his presidency t

Tsinghua Unigroup’s default illustrates the risks of China’s bond market

China’s government is increasingly willing to allow companies, even state-linked companies, to fail if they take on too much debt.

State-linked Chinese technology company Tsinghua Unigroup Co. Ltd. recently defaulted on an onshore US$198 million bond, triggering panic among investors and a significant downgrade in the company’s credit rating.

Tsinghua is one of China’s main drivers in the race to become self-sufficient in semiconductor technology, with the country having faced escalating sanct

Salesforce acquires Slack for US$27.7 billion in record year for remote working

Officially founded in 2013, Slack boasts around 12 million daily active users, with the work communication and services platform having seen a boost this year.

San Francisco-based cloud software company Salesforce.com, Inc., announced this month that it would be acquiring the work communication provider Slack Technologies in a deal worth US$27.7 billion. Rumors of the acquisition first surfaced in November.

Officially founded in 2013, Slack boasts around 12 million daily active users, with the

What would Janet Yellen mean for US relations with China?

Though Yellen’s personal views on China are well documented, she will have to face growing bipartisan distaste for China.

As President-elect Joe Biden announces the first of his cabinet picks, the face of his administration is slowly beginning to take shape.

In the role of treasury secretary, Biden has said he will nominate former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.

Yellen is an established figure in Washington, DC., having served not only as chair of the Federal Reserve during the Obama admi
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