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Israel Reverses Course Hours After Signing U.N. Deal To Resettle African Migrants
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Sarah Ruiz-Grossman*

Eritrean refugees protest against the Eritrean government outside the nation's embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2015. (Baz Ratner / Reuters)

Eritrean refugees protest against the Eritrean government outside the nation’s embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2015. (Baz Ratner / Reuters)

Less than a day after the Israeli government announced a deal with the United Nations’ refugee agency to resettle more than 16,000 African migrants and grant legal status to others, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended and then definitively scrapped the deal.

Early on Monday, the Israeli government and the U.N. agency, formally known as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, revealed the outlines of a deal they’d signed concerning the status of more than 34,000 undocumented Eritreans and Sudanese living in Israel. Under the agreement, more than 16,000 would resettle in other countries, largely in Europe. The rest would receive legal status in Israel.

By Monday night, however, Netanyahu had walked back the announcement, saying on Facebook that the deal would be put on hold until further review. On Tuesday, he announced the deal was dead.

“I have listened carefully to the many comments on the agreement. As a result, and after I again weighed the advantages and disadvantages, I decided to cancel the deal,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement.

The Israeli prime minister’s reversal came after a backlash from right-wing politicians and some residents of southern Tel Aviv, where many Eritreans and Sudanese have settled.

Most of the Eritrean and Sudanese people living in Israel have fled war and persecution in their countries of origin. The area of southern Tel Aviv, where many reside, is “economically challenged” with “unemployment and social tension,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told HuffPost on Monday.

Spindler said that Eritrean and Sudanese people in Israel should be considered refugees, not migrants, as they left their homes to escape persecution and war. He also noted that Israel, as the receiving nation, has only in a very few cases processed and officially designated the migrants as refugees.

“It is with regret that UNHCR notes cancellation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Israel-UNHCR Agreement,” the U.N. agency wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “We encourage the Government of Israel to consider the matter further, while standing ready to be of help.”

The deal between Israel and the UNHCR, which was to be carried out over the next five years, had rested on the agency’s ability to relocate some 16,000 of the refugees to “developed” countries where the agency has resettlement programs ― including in Europe, the U.S., Canada and Australia, Spindler told HuffPost. As of Monday, no country had officially agreed to take in any of those refugees.

The agreement had also included support services for the African migrants who would be staying legally in Israel, Spindler said, including vocational training to help them find employment beyond southern Tel Aviv.

Per the agreement, Israel would no longer pursue its “non-voluntary relocation policy,” according to a U.N. release.

Earlier this year, Israel had announced a plan to force undocumented African migrants to “voluntarily” leave the country by the end of March or risk being detained. The plan would provide $3,500 to migrants to relocate to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. At the time, the UNHCR criticized the policy as one that left migrants in unsafe conditions. Israel’s high court blocked the policy’s implementation through a temporary order in mid-March.

*Huff Post

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AP Interview: Somaliland president defends UAE military deal
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By MALAK HARB*

Somalia’s breakaway northern region of Somaliland declared its independence nearly three decades ago, but despite having its own currency, parliament and military the predominantly Muslim country hasn’t been recognized by any foreign government.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi is hoping to change that by aligning his country’s interests with energy-rich Gulf Arab states eager to expand their military footprint in the Horn of Africa along the vital shipping corridor of Bab al-Mandeb, the entryway to the Red Sea for ships from Asia and oil tankers from the Gulf heading to Europe.

Speaking to The Associated Press in the capital, Hargeisa, on Tuesday, Abdi defended an agreement that allows the United Arab Emirates to establish a military base in Somaliland.

“Our government is not so strong and our zone needs to be protected,” he said. “I think we need a friendly country to have a cooperation with military security, we need it.”

Securing the Horn of Africa has become increasingly important for Gulf countries since March 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition launched a war against Iran-allied rebels in Yemen. On Tuesday, the coalition, which includes the UAE, said the rebels attacked a Saudi oil tanker in the Bab al-Mandeb strait, causing minor damage.

Abdi declined to disclose how many Emirati troops would be based in Somaliland or when construction of the base will be complete. The lease for the base is for 25 years.

“Yes, we are allied to the United Arab Emirates and to Saudi (Arabia),” Abdi said.

“All our business, main assets, are in Dubai. All our imports depend on United Arab Emirates, their ports,” he said. “We have relations of business and economic ties with them, so we are allies with them.”

Abdi, who won elections in November, spoke Tuesday from his office in Somaliland’s capital of Hergeisa, home to around 1 million people. Somaliland is far more peaceful than Somalia, where the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab group carries out frequent attacks.

Except for a Coca-Cola factory outside the largely impoverished city, there are no visible signs of multinational companies. The city, which moves without traffic lights, is not home to any major international hotel chains, American fast food restaurants or bustling shopping malls.

Instead, the country is capitalizing on its strategic location near Bab al-Mandeb.

Somaliland signed an agreement last year with one of the world’s largest port operators, DP World, to operate its Port of Berbera. The agreement with DP World, which is majority-owned by the Dubai government in the UAE, was signed the same year that the UAE’s plans to build a naval base in Berbera were revealed.

It’s the latest example of how DP World’s business dealings in East Africa increasingly mirror the UAE’s military expansion in the region.

The UAE, which is also reportedly building up a long-term military presence in Eritrea, is not the only country with troops in East Africa. Turkey opened a military base in Somalia last year. Neighboring Djibouti is home to a U.S. base that launches drone missions over Somalia and Yemen, as well as a Chinese military base and Japan’s first overseas base since World War II.

Last week, Somalia asked for the United Nations Security Council to intervene to stop the UAE from building the military base in Somaliland. Somalia said the agreement between the Gulf state and Somaliland, which it refers to as the “Northwestern Region of Somalia,” was made without the consent of Somalia’s government and is in “clear violation of international law.”

Somaliland’s minister of foreign affairs, Saad Ali Shire, said his country’s alliance with the UAE is a sign of the growing “realization that Somaliland should be recognized.”

“We feel that we have the right to be recognized. We have the right for self-determination under the U.N. charter,” Shire told the AP. “That’s a fact which I think everybody should recognize, and perhaps the UAE is finally coming around to recognize that fact as well.”

DP World’s recent expansion into Somaliland creates an alternative corridor for imports for landlocked Ethiopia, a country of 110 million people and the largest economy in the Horn of Africa. Cargo going to Ethiopia currently constitutes 15 percent of Berbera port’s operations.

DP World holds a 51 percent stake in the port, Somaliland holds a 30 percent stake and Ethiopia holds the remaining 19 percent.

DP World operations in Berbera threaten Djibouti’s near monopoly on Ethiopia’s imports and exports. Djibouti’s port provides Ethiopia with more than 95 percent of Ethiopia’s imports.

The deal with Somaliland prompted Djibouti to abruptly end DP World’s contract for its Doraleh container terminal in February.

DP World’s Berbera operations manager, Ali Ismail Mahamoud, acknowledged that the port is a competitor in East Africa. He spoke to the AP on a recent visit to the port.

“Whenever you open a port near another port which is close to it, definitely you have to be competitive. (We are) not purely competitive with Djibouti, but I would define it as we have to be competitive,” he said.

*AP

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Africa’s premier investment marketplace to accelerate continent’s economic transformation
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

To help Africa find the path to its long-deserved economic fortune, the African Development Bank is championing the region’s premier investment market.

The Bank is providing collaborative leadership for a new 100% transactional initiative – the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) – which provides Africa’s best opportunity so far to encourage accelerated economic transformation.

The African Development Bank is working with the world’s leading financial institutions to de-risk investment through the platform and make it a springboard for Africa’s economic transformation.

The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, told key Government and private sector leaders at a breakfast session on the sidelines of the 2018 Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan on March 27, 2018, that the AIF would be exclusively about transactions and investment deals.

“This is not a talk shop. There will be no political speeches. It provides an open platform to organise efforts among multilateral institutions, governments and private sector to improve a pipeline of projects capable of transforming the continent,” he said.

The first Africa Investment Forum will be held from November 7-9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It will then be held yearly to enable and facilitate interactions to broker and accelerate deals, for candid discussions with policy-makers to shape the business and regulatory environment, as well as to track the implementation of commitments.

Adesina noted that the cost of doing business in Africa is improving.

“Last year, and the year before, at least 30% of all the business and regulatory reforms that were done globally were not done in Asia. They were not in Latin America. They were done in Africa. If you look at what is happening in terms of foreign direct investments coming to Africa, it continues to rise. Why are they rising? This is because of the greater political stability that is found on the continent,” he said. “So there is a lot of optimism about our continent and in fact there is a discussion among our leaders towards an Africa beyond aid.”

He highlighted Africa’s human and material resources, stressing how they could be harnessed to make Africa the powerhouse of the world. “I think that the sovereign wealth of Africa is actually not being invested in Africa. It is being invested outside of Africa. And if Africa doesn’t invest enough, then who is going to invest? One of the reasons this happens is because people have a perception of risk. But the issue is not risk. It is about how you manage risk.”

On the AIF platform are the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, among others, who are working with the African Development Bank to set up a “mutualized co-guarantee platform” to de-risk investments.

“We also have those that are working on pipelines – Africa50 and others – that are very actively involved in this,” Adesina said.

Ghana’s Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, stressed that the bond market should be a strong part of the new move to mobilize resources for Africa’s economic transformation and lauded the idea of the African Development Bank and partners coming together through AIF to de-risk investment.

“The reality for the world is that Africa has to be, and will be, the best place to invest in future. What do we do for ourselves so that we unlock our own potential for investments? I think the emphasis now is on increasing infrastructure so that we open up the continent for investment opportunities to be properly exploited,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of one Africa’s largest distributor of consumer goods, Massmart, Kuseni Dlamini, called attention to the need for Africa to move from risk to opportunities and to take advantage of the many investment opportunities presented on the continent.

“The time to talk transaction is indeed now. I think that Africa has a lot to offer and we need to take advantage of opportunities,” he said.

Tigui Camara, Chief Executive Officer of Tigui Mining Company, said she was delighted that the African Development Bank was leading the investment initiative and called for more support for women in the informal sector.

Alain Ebobissé, the Chief Executive Officer of Africa50 – the Pan-African infrastructure investment platform – called on African Governments to create the right environment to attract investors to the continent.

The breakfast session was well attended by top Government officials, industry leaders and financial institutions, including the President of African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank), Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah.

The Africa Investment Forum will focus on improving the ease of doing business in Africa by advancing and promoting investment-friendly regulation. It will also champion ethical business practices in Africa.

*AFDB

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Khama leaves the stage after a successful preservation of Botswana democracy
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Like his predecessors,Khama has set a new standard for African leaders to follow

Like his predecessors,Khama has set a new standard for African leaders to follow

On the 1st of April 2008, Ian Khama rose to assume the reigns of the most powerful office in Botswana. While giving his inauguration speech, Ian Khama stated that he never had the desire to become a President nor to assume a political office but was persuaded. He, however, acknowledged the task at hand, maintaining Africa’s best model of democracy and helping to improve the plight of the rural poor as had been done by his predecessor in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Ian Khama’s time in office was going to be a tough one and he knew it. In order to effectively address all of the areas that needed his attention, Ian Khama on his inauguration outlined the 5Ds i.e. Democracy, Discipline, Development, Dignity, and Delivery.

Assuming office, Ian Khama already had critics. Khama’s critics increased during the time when he was the country’s Vice President and the Minister for Presidential Affairs. During that time, he was termed an authoritarian who didn’t take kindly to opposition. In supporting their claims, critics cited the way he clamped down on ‘Dikgang tsa palamente.’ The programme aired the comments of MPs and encouraged debate among the populace. Khama also faced criticism in that he ordered without permission to be flown around the country by BDF choppers in violation of the BDF Act.

Despite his shortcomings during his time as the Vice President, Khama was determined to become a success during his time as President and this is how he leaves the country.

Domestically

On the political front, Khama strayed away from the status quo. Rather than leading in the way his predecessors had done in the past, Khama was more of an executive president who liked the executive ‘part’ of his job. Not clamping down on human rights or violating Botswana’s democracy, he ruled the country with a firm hand something Botswana citizens had not experienced before. Khama was media shy at least when it came to debates and other like events, during the times he would be covered by the media, often times he was visiting the rural poor playing to traditional songs and pampering them with goodies. While Botswana nationals had not been used to the firm hand Khama ruled with, he still managed to preserve the country’s democracy. Khama’s past as the commander of the BDF can be used in his defence for his firmness.

Economically, Ian Khama inherited an economy that was one of the biggest in Africa. Credit to him, he not only managed to maintain the strong economy but further developed it. Leaving Botswana on a far stronger standing, the country’s economy is expected to grow by 5.3 percent this year from last year’s 4.7 percent. The country’s economy has largely been aided by the recovery in the global economy in relation to mining.

On other fronts, Khama managed to do his bit in helping to stop the spread of rural poverty. Botswana’s disparity between the rich/middle class and the rural poor had been increasing for a decade or so before Khama’ tenure. Though he failed to eliminate rural poverty, the foundations he put in place will be a good start for his successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi. Khama also worked hard to electrify parts of rural Botswana which still relied on primitive energy such as firewood.

Internationally

While Khama’s firmness in Botswana may have resulted in him getting more enemies, the exact opposite did happen in the international sphere as his firmness made him more friends especially on the African continent. Khama was not shy to tell neighbouring Zimbabwe’s the then leader, Robert Mugabe that his time was up at a time when all other African presidents could not utter a word but instead showered the authoritarian leader with praises for his outspokenness.

Khama was not fazed by personality or the strength of a nation, while Zimbabwe’s new leader said his response to the US president, Donald Trump comments on Africa as a shithole continent was in solidarity with the African Union (AU)’s response and could not give his own (something also said by many other African countries), Khama took it upon himself to issue a strongly worded response to the US President.

In all, Ian Khama brought a new leadership style to Botswana politically, and even though some of the country’s citizens may not have liked it, all he did was for their good and benefit.

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A legacy like no other: Winnie Mandela 1936 to 2018
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela

South Africa’s anti-Apartheid icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died. Winnie who was the face of the blacks’ struggle against the ruthless white regime in pre-independent South Africa succumbed to a long illness at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg aged 81.

Victor Dlamini, the Madikizela family spokesman said Winnie who was affectionately known as the ‘Mother of the Nation’, “succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones” following a long illness, which had seen her go in and out of hospital since the start of the year.

Anti-Apartheid Activist- Before 1994

In 1936 in the small town of Bizana in Transkei (Eastern Cape), a girl by the name of Winnie Madikizela was born. Unbeknown to many at the time, Winnie was going to be the face of the struggle against white minority rule. When she reached the age of 22 in 1957, she met Nelson Mandela, a lawyer who was at the forefront in the fight against Apartheid. The two romantic flirtations grew quickly and they married a year later.

Their union was however cut short by the government as Nelson Mandela was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964. Left alone, Winnie was left with a daunting task, not just to look after the family but to champion for his husband’s release and to spearhead the campaign against Apartheid. For any other woman, this would have been a task too much to handle but not for the feisty Winnie. She took her newly found responsibilities with gusto.

Leading the struggle against white rule from the front, Winnie organised rallies and protests. Her action made her an enemy of the white government. She was ultimately arrested in 1976 and spent much of her time in prison in solitary confinement. In 1976, she was banished to a small town where she lived in solitary confinement.

The government thought they were going to break Winnie by putting her in solitary confinement. Instead, their actions only hardened the resolve of Winnie, she came out of prison more determined to fight her oppressors. In her own words after leaving prison, Winnie said, “ The years of imprisonment hardened me … Perhaps if you have been given a moment to hold back and wait for the next blow, your emotions wouldn’t be blunted as they have been in my case. When it happens every day of your life when that pain becomes a way of life … there is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn’t any pain I haven’t known.”

Start of the controversy

Winnie just like all other humans was not flawless, she was subjected to some criticism in her life. The first controversial moment came soon after her release from prison. While addressing thousands of Anti-Apartheid supporters in Soweto, she boldly stated that “Together, hand-in-hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.” This was in reference to necklacing, a painful method used by the ANC to eliminate those accused of treason amongst its ranks by inserting a petrol-filled burning tyre around the neck of a ‘sell-out’.

Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela

Winnie also had a team of personal bodyguards known as the Mandela United Football Team (MUFC). In 1989, Winnie’s MUFC was accused of killing a 14-year-old boy, Stompie Seipei. The case attracted wide media coverage but Winnie herself was found not guilty of murdering the young boy by the courts but was found guilty of a lesser crime, kidnapping. For her role, she was sentenced to 6 years in prison but did not serve the term as it was suspended for a fine.

Winnie had to face massive criticism for her role in the murder of Stompie Seipei but she vehemently denied any involvement. Perhaps the most severe criticisms came from revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu after South Africa had gained its independence in 1994 during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings. Tutu begged Winnie to apologise for Stompie’s death but she refused. Since that day, Winnie said she hasn’t forgiven Tutu for forcing her to apologise for an act she knew nothing about. Until her time of death, Winnie had not forgiven Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Winnie was however exonerated of any wrongdoing or involvement in Stompie’s death when Jerry Richardson, the team coach for Winnie’s MUFC confessed to murdering Stompie. Stompie and Richardson were allegedly police informers who also worked for Winnie. Richardson stated that he killed Stompie after he had threatened to expose him to Winnie. Richardson was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison but died in prison in 2009.

Winnie also had confrontations with the law later on in post-independent South Africa with the standout coming in 2005 when she was alleged to have defrauded a bank and involved in corrupt practises. She never faced jail time.

The last of Winnie’s feisty nature was seen during the xenophobic attacks of 2008 when foreigners in South Africa were subjected to torture. Winnie stood on the side of foreigners against the perpetrators of xenophobic violence.

Relationship with Nelson Mandela

Winnie and Nelson were married for 38 years but they spent much of that time separate as Nelson spent 27 years behind bars. The two divorced in 1996, two years after Nelson became South Africa’s first black president. The real reasons behind the divorce were never divulged but it’s suggested in some quarters that Winnie had become too radical for the reformed Nelson Mandela and that she was involved in an affair during the time Nelson was in jail. Winnie kept Nelson’s surname after the divorce and they both kept close contact with her visiting Nelson almost on a daily basis before his death in 2013.

The family of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is yet to release burial details.

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President Xi hails Mugabe’s successor as ‘old friend of China’
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ben Dooley*

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 (AFP Photo/Greg BAKER)

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 (AFP Photo/Greg BAKER)

President Xi Jinping greeted Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa as an “old friend” of China on Tuesday as the African leader visited Beijing, which previously backed his ousted predecessor Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa, who received military training in China when he was a young liberation fighter in the 1960s, was met with a military honour guard at the Great Hall of the People on his first state visit outside of Africa.

The two leaders oversaw the signing of six documents, including a letter on economic and development cooperation and another on emergency food assistance, as Mnanangwa seeks help from a major ally with historic ties to Zimbabwe.

“I heartily welcome President Mnangagwa on his visit to Beijing,” Xi said as the two sat down for talks.

“You are an old friend of China and I appreciate your efforts to develop relations in all areas,” he said.

Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa from his job as vice president in November over a succession tussle with the first lady Grace Mugabe, leading to a military intervention that culminated with the veteran president’s ousting and Mnangagwa taking office.

The country’s then-army chief, General Constantino Chiwenga, had visited Beijing shortly before the military action, leading to questions about whether China had any role in the power transfer.

Chiwenga was named vice president in December. China denied it played any part in the transition.

Beijing had long been one of Mugabe’s most powerful allies and a major trade partner, as the West shunned him over his government’s human rights violations, but it avoided publicly taking sides during his ousting.

“Last November Zimbabwe achieved a peaceful, smooth transfer of power that was broadly recognised by the international community,” Xi said.

“I am willing to work with Mr. president (Mnangagwa) to jointly map out our future cooperation and write a new chapter in China-Zimbabwe relations for the benefit of our two peoples.”

Mnangagwa, wearing a scarf in the the colours of Zimbabwe’s flag, told Xi he appreciated China’s “political support and goodwill” following the “peaceful political transition in Zimbabwe”.

– ‘Socialism with Zimbabwean characteristics’ –

Mnangagwa has also been accused of playing a key role in his mentor Mugabe’s authoritarian regime that left the economy in ruins and under sanctions.

He was targeted by EU and US measures imposed on Mugabe and his close allies over violence and intimidation during Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The visit comes as China takes a more proactive role in Africa, where it has long invested in infrastructure projects and sought resources. It has recently built its first overseas military base in Djibouti.

Relations between China and Zimbabwe date back to the liberation struggle of the 1960s, when Beijing provided arms and trained some of the top guerrilla leaders including Mnangagwa.

Before his arrival on Monday, Mnangagwa told China’s official Xinhua news agency that his trip was aimed at thanking Xi and the Chinese people for supporting his country “during the hard times when the West imposed sanctions on us”.

He said he would seek to sell Zimbabwe as a destination for Chinese investment and take part in economic forums aimed at attracting business to the country.

Zimbabwe was China’s largest foreign supplier of tobacco, with some 40 percent of the product imported by the Asian country coming from the African nation.

China also set up a joint venture with Zimbabwe in a diamond mining company, but Mugabe announced the nationalisation of the nation’s diamond mines in 2016.

Chinese companies have also been involved in projects to install a cellular phone network, expand a hydropower station and build a coal-fired power plant.

Mnangagwa will meet Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday, then visit the eastern provinces of Anhui and Zhejiang before his visit ends on Friday.

The Zimbabwean leader gave a nod to his host’s political philosophy, “Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”

“I will take this mantra to Zimbabwe and hope to develop some socialism in Zimbabwe with Zimbabwean characteristics,” he said.

*AFP

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Veteran Egypt goalkeeper El-Hadary eyes World Cup history
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Tarek Talaat

Egypt's Essam El-Hadary, 45, would become the oldest man to play at a World Cup if he features at Russia 2018

Egypt’s Essam El-Hadary, 45, would become the oldest man to play at a World Cup if he features at Russia 2018

Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who at 45 could become the oldest man to play at a World Cup, says he hopes his story inspires others to follow their dreams.

El-Hadary is desperate to make Egypt’s squad for Russia where he hopes to make his World Cup debut.

“I’m very happy to play at the World Cup, and that is a message to all footballers and others around the world, that you should believe in your dreams and fight to make them come true,” El-Hadary told BBC Sport.

“My age is 45 years old, but for me, this is just a number on paper.

“I train hard every day, I don’t know what the word ‘impossible’ means. I will keep fighting until the World Cup to have the chance to play and defend my homeland colours,” he added.

Faryd Mondragon of Colombia became the oldest man to play at the World Cup when he featured against Japan in Brazil in 2014 aged 43 years and 3 days.

El-Hadary, who currently plays for Al-Taawoun FC in the Saudi Professional League, says his late father’s memory is pushing him to break that record.

“My father who passed away told me that his dream is to watch me playing at a World Cup and I want to make my dad proud.

“I’ve won many titles, but I have not played at a World Cup and this is the dream I want to make true, that is my main objective.”

Egypt team
Essam El-Hadary was part of the Egypt side which beat Congo Brazzaville 2-1 to qualify for the Russia World Cup.

Egypt qualified for the World Cup thanks to a 95th minute penalty from Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in a 2-1 victory over Congo Brazzaville.

El-Hadary says Salah’s phenomenal season has motivated the whole Egyptian side.

“I’m so proud of what Mohamed Salah keeps doing – he’s started a new era for Egyptian players.

“He changed the way that Egyptian players think and now many players have decided to search for clubs in Europe – even small clubs.

“They want to follow in Salah’s steps because what he’s done will make many clubs around the world trust in Egyptian players.”

Egypt have been drawn in Group A for the World Cup where they will face hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

“All the teams in our group are very strong. Saudi Arabia is an Arabic team and our matches with them will be very interesting, so it will not be easy.

“Russia will play in front of their fans and in their grounds, and when you talk about Uruguay you talk about an amazing team and big names like Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez, so it will not be easy at all.”

*BBC

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Martin Luther King Jr.’s work still resonates across Africa
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
By RODNEY MUHUMUZA*
In this undated photo supplied by the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. on display at the embassy in Pretoria South Africa. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa on streets, schools, even a bridge in Burkina Faso. It is a measure of the influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad. (Chris Marais/US Embassy South Africa via AP)

In this undated photo supplied by the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. on display at the embassy in Pretoria South Africa. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa on streets, schools, even a bridge in Burkina Faso. It is a measure of the influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad. (Chris Marais/US Embassy South Africa via AP)

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Streets. Schools. A bridge in Burkina Faso. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa, a measure of the global influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad.

A school for poor children that is named after King in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, took as its motto, “Have a Dream,” borrowing a line from one of King’s most famous speeches.

“Martin Luther King stood for human rights and equality, so we wanted a way of inspiring and motivating our students,” said Robert Mpala, the school’s founder.

In rural Liberia, a West African nation founded by freed American slaves, one official spoke proudly of a privately owned Martin Luther King School. “Martin Luther King was a great man. We still follow his dream,” said J. Maxime Bleetahn, director of communications at the Ministry of Education.

Africa’s push for independence from colonialism, which mirrored King’s own movement for racial equality in America, attracted the civil rights leader’s attention and support.

King first set foot on the continent in March 1957 to attend celebrations marking the West African nation of Ghana’s independence from Britain.

After he returned to Africa in November 1960 to attend the inauguration of Nigeria’s first president, King said African leaders had told him “in no uncertain terms that racism and colonialism must go, for they see the two as based on the same principle.”

The parallels between King’s efforts and Africans’ quest for independence were perhaps strongest in apartheid-era South Africa, where racist laws oppressed the majority black community for decades.

In December 1965 King delivered a speech in New York denouncing South Africa’s white rulers as “spectacular savages and brutes” and called on the U.S. and Europe to boycott the nation, a strategy the West eventually embraced and that helped end white rule.

King was unable to visit South Africa after being denied a visa. But years later a bust of King was slipped secretly — by diplomatic pouch — into a South Africa still in the grip of apartheid.

American sculptor Zenos Frudakis said the U.S. government approached him about creating a bust of King that would be installed in South Africa for “political impact.” As it was barred by South Africa’s government from being displayed in a public space, the sculpture was dedicated in 1989 at the U.S. Embassy, visible to people outside the embassy fence.

People who were part of the struggle against apartheid spoke at the sculpture’s dedication, and Frudakis said he was impressed “as they were risking their lives to bring equality and freedom to everyone in South Africa.”

Today, the bust of King remains on display in a vastly different South Africa, which was transformed after anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was freed from prison in 1990 and elected the country’s first black president four years later.

Mandela was keenly aware of King’s contribution to equal rights and mentioned him when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize along with South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, F.W. de Klerk, in 1993.

“Let the strivings of us all prove Martin Luther King Jr. to have been correct when he said that humanity can no longer be tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war,” Mandela said. The Nelson Mandela Foundation plans to mark the anniversary of King’s assassination.

King’s inspirational speeches on love and justice, as well as his insistence on non-violent resistance, continue to resonate among some intellectuals and political activists in Africa, where many countries are now ruled by strongmen or democracy is in decline.

The civil rights leader was frequently cited by Ugandan activists last year as lawmakers moved to pass a bill that could keep the longtime president in power for many years more.

“We as a nation must recognize what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the ‘the fierce urgency of now,'” one opposition activist, Mugisha Muntu, said at the time. “We too must make our voices heard.”

*AP

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African Migrants in Israel Will Be Deported to Western Countries Instead of Africa. Where Will They Go?
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Cristina Maza*

African migrants and Israelis demonstrate in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on February 24, 2018, against the Israeli government's policy to forcibly deport African refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda. JACK GUEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

African migrants and Israelis demonstrate in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on February 24, 2018, against the Israeli government’s policy to forcibly deport African refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda.
JACK GUEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Israel has scrapped a controversial plan to forcibly deport African migrants back to Africa— and struck an agreement with the United Nations to send the asylum seekers to Western countries instead.

The news comes after African refugees and human rights defenders staged weeks of protests, arguing that migrants sent back to Africa could face violence or other abuses.  The agreement announced Monday will send 16,000 African asylum seekers to Western countries such as Canada, Italy and Germany.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates that there are around 38,000 African asylum seekers currently in Israel, the majority of whom are from Eritrea and Sudan. Asylum seekers who are not relocated to Western countries will be permitted to stay in Israel for the next five years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

The announcement is a significant departure from the policies Netanyahu had touted just a month ago. Israel had told thousands of African migrants in February that they had to leave the country by April or they would be sent to prison. Israeli officials had said they would give migrants around $3,500 each to leave, either to their home country or to a third country in Africa like Uganda or Rwanda.

Netanyahu’s right-wing government had also dubbed the migrants “infiltrators” and argued that they were economic migrants seeking better opportunities instead of genuine refugees fleeing violence and persecution.

Some experts say that Netanyahu was pressured by far-right elements in his coalition government to expel the migrants in order to maintain the Jewish character of Israel. Demographics have been a point of contention in Israel since its founding, and some extremist elements advocate for non-Jews to be expelled from the country.

Human rights groups, however, challenged the government’s deportation plans in court. On March 15, Israel’s High Court issued a temporary ban on the deportation plan. Experts say that Monday’s announcement proves that civil society can make a difference when it comes to shifting public policy.

“Policy shifts like this can be surprising when they happen, but they underscore a key lesson. Pressure from civil society can make a difference,” Martin Edwards, a diplomacy expert at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, told Newsweek. “Elected governments want to avoid looking bad as much as possible, and the optics of this were not favorable for the Netanyahu government. It’s a good lesson for activists around the world to learn: pressure can make a difference.”

*Newsweek

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Ethiopia installs new PM amid hopes he can stop protests
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By ELIAS MESERET*

Abiy Ahmed, the newly elected chair of the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is sworn in as the country's Prime Minister, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Abiy Ahmed, the newly elected chair of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is sworn in as the country’s Prime Minister, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Young and outspoken Abiy Ahmed has been sworn in Monday as Ethiopia’s prime minister, amid hopes he will be able to quell the sustained anti-government protests that have rocked Africa’s second most populous nation.

Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s parliament, succeeding Hailemariam Desalegn who resigned in mid-February as a result of widespread protests that have taken the lives of several hundred people, mainly in the restive Oromia and Amhara regions.

“This is a historic moment,” said Abiy in his inaugural address to Ethiopian lawmakers. “This is high time for us to learn from our past mistakes and make up for all the wrongs done in the past . we understand there are a lots of problems that need to be solved with great urgency.”

Abiy apologized for the deaths of civilians in the violent protests. He said his administration will strive to solve grievances by discussion rather than by force, provide more space for opposition parties, fight corruption and focus on respect for rule of law.

The new leader said he aims to open up a fresh dialogue with arch-foe Eritrea and called upon Ethiopia’s diaspora to more actively take part in the country’s affairs.

Abiy is the first Oromo politician to become Ethiopia’s prime minister since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991. It is hoped he will be able to bring an end to the protests that have been raging since late 2015 to press for wider political freedoms and the release of opposition figures. The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group of Ethiopia’s 100 million people, have long felt marginalized both politically and economically.

A former Lieutenant Colonel in the army and head of Ethiopia’s Science and Technology ministry, Abiy, 42, has a reputation as an effective orator and reformer.

Many welcomed the new leader.

“I think this is a very important step toward the overall democratization and stability of the country,” said Kiya Tsegaye, a lawyer and political analyst. “But he needs the support of the people around him, especially top party officials to implement his reform measures.”

The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene) The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Prominent opposition leader Merara Gudina expressed cautious optimism over Abiy’s election, saying the future of Ethiopia’s peace and stability depends on the policies of the incoming leader and his party.

“What he aims to achieve depends on what his party allows him to do,” Merara said, adding that Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s ruling party and not directly by the population through a general election. “But still it goes without saying that a change in personalities within the leadership may bring changes in terms of bringing better ideas that may ultimately lead to national reconciliation.”

Ethiopia’s Olympic gold medalist runner, Haile Gebrselassie, said the peaceful transfer of power is a win-win situation for all Ethiopians.

“The new leader’s election has answered many Ethiopians’ questions,” Haile told The Associated Press, saying that Abiy should implement his pledges without delay. “His inaugural address today has the ability to bring together not only Ethiopians, but countries in the region as well.”

Abiy will be Ethiopia’s third prime minister since the former military junta, the Derg, was overthrown in 1991.

Ethiopia in February declared its second state of emergency in two years amid the ongoing protests that effectively crippled transportation networks and forced the closure of businesses. On Saturday, Ethiopian officials said that more than 1,000 people have been detained since the latest emergency rule was put in place.

The U.S. Embassy in the capital, Addis Ababa, commended the peaceful transfer of power, saying it is the first time a living leader has handed over power in Ethiopia’s recent history.

“We stand ready to support the government’s rapid implementation of democratic and economic reforms and look forward to the lifting of the state of emergency,” the U.S. embassy said in an email sent to The Associated Press.

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‘A new South Africa on the horizon?’
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati*

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa

It’s now 24 years since South Africa, ‘the rainbow nation’ as its affectionately known gained independence in 1994. At the end of Apartheid, the new democratic South Africa was the beacon of hope for not just South Africans in particular and also Africans in general.

To some extent, the country has managed to live to the early hype, it’s one of Africa’s strongest economies and its democracy is an envy of many. However, this side of South Africa is the one that the country uses in marketing itself and surprisingly, it’s this side that is most loved and covered by international media.  There is another side to the coin, however, that is shunned by the media. This side exposes the plight of South Africa’s poor which is increasing year on year due to the rising gap between the haves and the have-nots.

While it’s always hard to live on the other side largely because without exposure, on your own you cannot really influence much on the national level, it seems South Africa’s poor might have a reason to smile again. A ray of light in the form of the newly elected South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa is promising to bring solace and comfort to the weeping many.

Ramaphosa may well not be popular among many poor South Africans but if we are to take anything from his inauguration speech and promises in his first days in office, then poor South Africans ought to celebrate his ascendancy to power.

Unlike Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa is not a populist but rather a reformist and if there is anything the world has taught us, it’s to respect a reformist. While a populist has the charisma, appeal and sweet mouth to lure supporters, his/her rhetoric often times ends only in words while the reformist stresses more on doing than talking.

In light of this, let’s look at the promises that the reformist Cyril Ramaphosa has promised the people of South Africa especially the man, woman, and child in the most impoverished towns/cities of South Africa.

Fight against corruption

Cyril Ramaphosa took office the following day after a morning raid on the Gupta family, a family that epitomises corruption in South Africa. As corruption in the name of State Capture is the most important element that led to the demise of Jacob Zuma, it was clear from the word go that whoever succeeded Zuma would have to take on corruption if s/he was to gain traction. That is exactly what Ramaphosa did by promising to fight corruption.

While it’s those at the top that enjoy the benefits of corruption such as unscrupulously winning government tenders, it’s those at the bottom that Face the brunt of corruption. Corruption results in a job/task/project being handed to an incompetent person or body. The results, therefore, are below par and of poor quality mostly service provision which affects the middle class and the poor. By tackling corruption, Ramaphosa will open the environment for more people to challenge for opportunities that would otherwise be reserved for a select few. If the fight against corruption is successful, then there is reason for South Africans to celebrate.

Economic growth

Ramaphosa says his priority in government is to revitalise South Africa’s economy and his two main areas of focus are a digital revolution and fixing the mining sector. The world is becoming digital by the way and therein lays opportunities and challenges for South Africa’s growth. The first step that Ramaphosa is set to undertake is to establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission tasked which consists of the private sector, civil society, and the government. It is Ramaphosa’s hope that the Commission will unlock opportunities that will go a long way in aiding economic development.

On the same front, experts state that the telecoms sector in South Africa is stagnant due to two telecoms ministries fighting each other for supremacy. The new president needs to merge the two ministries and remove duplicate roles to ensure more sustained growth in the telecoms field.

Ironically, Ramaphosa has promised to spearhead the fixing of the mining sector, the one sector he has come under immense pressure in owing to the Marikana massacres. It’s not clear what Ramaphosa’s strategy is going to be but it surely it must have a special focus on the workers’ working conditions and remuneration.

Social grants

Ramaphosa has also made reference to social grants in his first weeks in office. For a country that is seeing its unemployment levels rise up year on year, it’s crucial that its social welfare structure is robust and that is exactly what Ramaphosa wants to see. Ramaphosa has stressed that there should be the efficient delivery of social grants. In the past, especially towards Zuma’s last days in office, the body tasked with administering social grants, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has had to delay releasing the funds. There are seven types of grants in South Africa which include Child Support, Older Person’s Grant, Disability Grant, Grant-in-Aid, Care Dependency, War Veteran’s Grant and Foster Child Grant.

Worker Rights

In a bid to address the plight of the poor who find themselves in some unfavourable working conditions, Ramaphosa has also that he wants to see worker’s living and working conditions improve under his tenure. He said that the first step is to implement a national minimum wage at par with the Poverty Datum Line that is going to give workers a better standard of living.

Being reformist, Ramaphosa is more likely to fulfil his promises, however, this is just an assertion that needs Ramaphosa’s will and determination in pursuing these promises for them to become reality. As such, it’s every South African’s hope that indeed Ramaphosa will stay true to his word and fulfil these promises that will ultimately make the life of South Africans better.

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Across Africa With Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

-US-Africa Relations Bigger than personalities Officials says

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Ambassadors Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan with Journalists at the State Department

Ambassadors Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan with Journalists at the State Department

Relations with Africa and the USA go beyond any one leader or official, Senior State Department Officials told Journalists in Washington, DC, recently in a media briefing. Speaking at the State Department to Journalists  from Pan African Visions, the Washington Post,Allo Africa News, and Reuters, Ambassador Don Yamamoto, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan , Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of African Affairs ,discussed US-African relations under the Trump Administration, and shared perspectives on a number of developments across the continent.

Giving an over view of the recent African tour of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Ambassador Sullivan who was part of the delegation, said much of the focus was on strengthening trade and development relationships, strengthening regional security, including counter-terrorism cooperation, a focus on good governance and democratic values, and the relationship on economic developments and building resilience in communities to avoid the extremist ideology.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was the first stop of the tour, Secretary Tillerson and AU Chairperson Moussa Faki reaffirmed the commitment to the shared goal of a stable and prosperous Africa. Secretary Tillerson held talks with Ethiopian government officials on human rights, the need to open political space, and the ongoing political transition, Ambassador Sullivan said.

In Djibouti, there were discussion on the situation at the container port, investment climate, and security issues. In Kenya, Secretary Tillerson congratulated President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga on the statesmanship on display as they seek to move the country forward. There were discussions on hot spots like South Sudan and Somalia with Kenyan government officials. A highlight of the Kenya lap of the trip was the meeting with survivors of the 1998 Embassy bombing, and laying of a wreath at the site of the former Embassy where the bombing took place, Ambassador Sullivan disclosed. Secretary Tillerson also had meetings with President Buhari in Nigeria, and Idriss Derby in Chad to round up the tour.

On what the trip did in restoring confidence on US-Africa ties after controversial statements attributed to President Trump, a few months before the trip, the State Department Officials said AU Chairperson Moussa Faki summed it best when he said the focus was on the future and not the past. U.S -African relations are very unique in their own way the Officials said. The departure of Secretary Tillerson will be no effect to engagements taken, Ambassador Sullivan added.

Both Officials fielded questions on immigration, China in Africa, engagement with the African diaspora, the political situation in Cameroon, South Sudan, Guinea and Zimbabwe amongst others.

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Masisi to Lead Botswana as Khama Steps Down After a Decade
March 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
  • Reducing diamond dependence among new president’s challenges
  • Masisi is ‘safe pair of hands,’ economist Jefferis says
 
 
Ian Khama, left, shakes hands with Mokgweetsi Masisi. Phoographer: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

Ian Khama, left, shakes hands with Mokgweetsi Masisi. Phoographer: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

Ian Khama, a former army general who’s led Botswana for the past decade, will step down on Sunday, leaving his deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi in charge of the world’s second-biggest diamond producer until next year’s elections.

 While Masisi, 55, will inherit one of Africa’s wealthiest and best-governed nations, he’ll still have his hands full reducing the economy’s dependence on diamonds, creating jobs for the almost one in five workers who are unemployed and wooing more foreign investment. Aside from gems the country has little other than tourism to generate foreign exchange.
 “A safe pair of hands” is how economist Keith Jefferis, a former deputy central bank governor, describes Masisi. He expects him to push changes the economy needs, including doing more to integrate it into regional and global markets.
 “It will be essential to re-establish much better public-finance discipline,” Jefferis said. “The quality of public financial management has deteriorated over many years, with poor spending decisions and an increasing level of waste and inefficiency.”
 Trained Teacher

Masisi trained as a teacher and worked as an education project officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund for eight years before quitting in 2003 to enter politics. He was appointed assistant minister for presidential affairs and public administration after being elected as a lawmaker in October 2009 and given the same ministerial portfolio in 2011. Khama named Masisi minister of education and skills development in 2014, a portfolio he retained when he became vice president that year.

“He is a jack-of-all-trades and is experienced in numerous areas,” said Leonard Sesa, a political scientist at the University of Botswana. “He will be the type of president who assigns someone something, then monitors them very closely because he knows exactly what the output should be.”

Botswana law restricts the president to serving two five-year terms, and provides for the vice president to automatically fill the post should it become vacant. The National Assembly will elect a new president after elections scheduled for October next year. Khama also took office a year before elections in 2009.

Lack of Jobs

The Botswana Democratic Party, which has ruled since the southern African nation gained independence from the U.K in 1966, is likely to name Masisi as its presidential candidate. While the party’s share of the vote slid to the lowest level since it took power in the last elections in 2014 amid voter disenchantment over the quality of state services and a lack of jobs, it’s still expected to retain its majority.

The son of Botswana’s first post-independence president, Khama, 65, angered several of his fellow African leaders, including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Congo’s Joseph Kabila, when he publicly berated them for overstaying their welcome.

His administration has also sniped at U.S. President Donald Trump for making derogatory remarks about African nations and the UN Security Council for not doing enough to end the war in Syria.

Read more about Botswana’s unorthodox approach toward diplomacy.

Khama is likely to continue wielding influence after he steps down, according to Sesa.

“Khama appointed Masisi his deputy and trusts him completely,” Sesa said. “They both have made statements indicating that there has been joint planning for Khama’s retirement. I expect to see Masisi award Khama some type of national assignment once he is retired. There’s clearly mutual understanding there about working together.”

*Bloomberg

 
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Six African referees chosen for 2018 World Cup
March 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
Bakary Papa Gassama from Gambia will officiate at the world cup in Russia

Bakary Papa Gassama from Gambia will officiate at the world cup in Russia

Fifa has chosen six African officials for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it was revealed on Thursday.

In addition there will also be 10 assistant referees from Africa.

The referees and the assistants make up a total of 99 officials selected for the tournament.

The world governing body also announced that video assistant referees (VAR) will be chosen from the pool of officials.

VAR, which has caused controversy in Europe, will be used for the first time at a World Cup when the tournament starts on 14 June.

The officials, chosen from 46 countries, will attend a two-week seminar at the Italian Football Association’s base in Coverciano next month.

The African referees are: Mehdi Abid Charef from Algeria, Malang Diedhiou of Senegal, Bakary Papa Gassama from The Gambia, Gehad Grisha from Egypt, Janny Sikazwe from Zambia, and Ethiopian Bamlak Tessema Weyesa.

Europe will be represented by referees from Germany, Turkey, Russia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Serbia, Italy, Slovenia and France.

Asia will have six as will north and South America and two from Oceania.

 *BBC
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MINING INDUSTRY SUBMITS MINING CODE PROPOSAL TO DRC GOVERNMENT
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Congo's Kabila

Congo’s Kabila

Kinshasa, DRC, 29 March 2018  –  Mining industry representatives* in the Democratic Republic of Congo have submitted a formal proposal to the country’s Ministry of Mines that is designed to address concerns about the recently revised mining code as well as the government’s revenue needs.

Among other things, it proposes linking a sliding scale of royalty rates to the prices of the key commodities, which industry representatives believe would be a more effective mechanism than the windfall tax introduced in the new code and at current prices would immediately give the government a higher share of revenues than what is provided in the new code.  It also deals with stability arrangements, state guarantees and mining conventions.

Along with the stability afforded to convention holders, enshrined in the 2002 mining code is a 10 year stability clause which provides that the holders of mining and exploration titles will continue to be governed by the terms of the 2002 mining code for such period in the event of the implementation of any new law.

Article 276:
“The State guarantees that the provisions of the present Code can only be modified if, and only if, this Code itself is the subject of a legislative amendment adopted by Parliament.

The rights attached to or deriving from an exploration licence or mining exploitation licence granted and valid on the date of the enactment of such a legislative modification, as well as the rights relating to or deriving from the exploitation licence subsequently granted by virtue of such an exploration licence, including among others, the tax, customs and exchange regimes set forth in this Code, remain acquired and inviolable for a ten-year period from the date of:

  1. the entry into force of the legislative modification for the valid exploitation licences existing as of that date;
  2. the granting of the exploitation licence subsequently granted by virtue of a valid exploration licence existing on the date of entry into force of the legislative modification.”

However, the proposal accepts 76% of the articles in the 2018 code and suggests changes to the rest only to ensure the effectiveness and legality of the code.  The mining industry representatives believe these changes will resolve issues with the code and contractual relationships while giving the DRC and its people increased participation in the proceeds of mining.

* Issued on behalf of members of the DRC mining industry representing more than 85% of the DRC’s copper, cobalt and gold production and most significant development projects: Randgold Resources, Glencore, Ivanhoe Mines, Gold Mountain International/ Zijin Mining Group, MMG Limited, Crystal River Global Ltd and China Molybdenum Co, Ltd (CMOC), AngloGold Ashanti.

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African leaders have created the world’s largest free trade area since the WTO—here’s its potential
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

 

By Landry Signé*

Free movement(Reuters/Feisal Omar/File Photo)

Free movement (Reuters/Feisal Omar/File Photo)

African leaders have just signed a framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization.

The free trade area aims to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. By 2030 the market size is expected to include 1.7 billion people with over $6.7 trillion of cumulative consumer and business spending—that’s if all African countries have joined the free trade area by then. Ten countries, including Nigeria, have yet to sign up.

The goal is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.

Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022.  The agreement has the potential to deliver a great deal for countries on the continent. The hope is that the trade deal will trigger a virtuous cycle of more intra African trade, which in turn will drive the structural transformation of economies – the transition from low productivity and labour intensive activities to higher productivity and skills intensive industrial and service activities—which in turn will produce better paid jobs and make an impact on poverty.

But signing the agreement is only the beginning. For it to come into force, 22 countries must ratify it. Their national legislative bodies must approve and sanction the framework formally, showing full commitment to its implementation. Niger president Issoufou Mahamadou, who has been championing the process, aims to have the ratification process completed by January 2019.

Cause and effect

Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022. Better market access creates economies of scale. Combined with appropriate industrial policies, this contributes to a diversified industrial sector and growth in manufacturing value added.

Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and likely to benefit from it the most. Manufacturing represents only about 10% of total GDP in Africa on average. This falls well below other developing regions. A successful continental free trade area could reduce this gap. And a bigger manufacturing sector will mean more well-paid jobs, especially for young people. This in turn will help poverty alleviation.

Industrial development, and with it, more jobs, is desperately needed in Africa. Industry represents one-quarter to one-third of total job creation in other regions of the world. And a young person in Africa is twice as likely to be unemployed when he or she becomes an adult. This is a particularly stressful situation given that over 70% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is below age 30.

In addition, 70% of Africa’s youth live on less than $2 per day.

The continental free trade area is expected to offer substantial opportunities for industrialization, diversification, and high-skilled employment in Africa.

The single continental market will offer the opportunity to accelerate the manufacture and intra-African trade of value-added products, moving from commodity based economies and exports to economic diversification and high-value exports.

But, to increase the impact of the trade deal, industrial policies must be put in place. These must focus on productivity, competition, diversification, and economic complexity.

In other words, governments must create enabling conditions to ensure that productivity is raised to international competitiveness standards. The goal must be to ensure that the products manufactured in African countries are competitively traded on the continent and abroad, and to diversify the range and sophistication of products and services.Drivers of manufacturing

Data shows that the most economically diverse countries are also the most successful.

In fact, diversification is critical as “countries that are able to sustain a diverse range of productive know-how, including sophisticated, unique know-how, are able to produce a wide diversity of goods, including complex products that few other countries can make.

Policymakers should favor the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent. Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and are likely to benefit from it the most. These countries will find a large continental market for their manufactured products. They will also use their know-how and dense industrial landscape to develop innovative products and respond to market demand.

But the agreement on its own won’t deliver results. Governments must put in place policies that drive industrial development, particularly manufacturing. Five key ones stand out:

Human capital: A strong manufacturing sector needs capable, healthy, and skilled workers. Policymakers should adjust curriculum to ensure that skills are adapted to the market. And there must be a special focus on young people. Curriculum must focus on skills and building capacity for entrepreneurship and self-employment. This should involve business training at an early age and skills upgrading at an advanced one. This should go hand in hand with promoting science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and mathematics as well as vocational and on-the-job training.

Policymakers should also favour the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent.

Cost: Policymakers must bring down the cost of doing business. The barriers include energy, access to roads and ports, security, financing, bureaucratic restrictions, corruption, dispute settlement and property rights.

Supply network: Industries are more likely to evolve if competitive networks exist. Policymakers should ease trade restrictions and integrate regional trade networks. In particular, barriers for small and medium-size businesses should be lifted.

Domestic demand: Policymakers should offer tax incentives to firms to unlock job creation, and to increase individual and household incomes. Higher purchasing power for households will increase the size of the domestic market.

Resources: Manufacturing requires heavy investment. This should be driven by the private sector. Policymakers should facilitate access to finance, especially for small and medium enterprises. And to attract foreign direct investment, policymakers should address perceptions of poor risk perception. This invariably scares off potential investors or sets excessive returns expectations.
Increased productivity

The continental free trade area facilitates industrialization by creating a continental market, unlocking manufacturing potential and bolstering an international negotiation bloc.

Finally, the continental free trade area will also provide African leaders with a greater negotiating power to eliminate barriers to exporting. This will help prevent agreements with other countries, and trading blocs, that are likely to hurt exports and industrial development.

*Quartz

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PRESS RELEASE Siemens creates opportunities for digitalization skills development across Africa
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
44% of all work activities in Ethiopia are susceptible to automation, as are 46% in Nigeria, 52% in Kenya and 41% in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 27, 2018/ —

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to revolutionize the job market and African industry must adapt to survive
  • Siemens aims to help accelerate digitalization skills and empower those who will be leading the change
  • State-of-the-art automation equipment donated to engineering faculties in five African markets

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is having a disruptive effect on economies and the development of digital skills is vital. There is an opportunity, especially in Africa, to embrace new and exponential technologies combined with human talent to accelerate industrialization and drive economic growth.

Siemens creates opportunities for digitalization skills development across Africa

Siemens creates opportunities for digitalization skills development across Africa

According to The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa Report , release by the World Economic Forum (WEF), it is predicted that 44% of all work activities in Ethiopia are susceptible to automation, as are 46% in Nigeria, 52% in Kenya and 41% in South Africa.

With this in mind, Siemens (www.Siemens.com) is handing over equipment specifically related to industrial automation that enables integrated engineering to 13 engineering faculties at universities in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa. This is part of the company’s commitment to sustainable skills development across the continent. The value of the equipment is close to $400 000.

Data collected by WEF  in key African markets shows employers across the region identify inadequately skilled workforces as a major constraint to their businesses, including 41% of all firms in Tanzania, 30% in Kenya, 9% in South Africa and 6% in Nigeria. This pattern may get worse in the future. In South Africa alone, 39% of core skills required across occupations will be wholly different by 2020.

“The uneven development of the past can only be overcome with locally engineered solutions,” says Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa. “In an African context, disruptive technology can be seen as an opportunity to leapfrog into the best and most advanced technologies, but this is only possible with access to the right training and equipment.”

Siemens will continue its commitment to Africa and offer long-term support to beneficiaries by ensuring that students are able to train on the most advanced technology available. This will ensure graduates, and therefore the emerging workforce, have the skills necessary to effectively lead large-scale digitalization across the continent, resulting in long-term benefits to economic growth.

Siemens firmly believes the best way for African markets to benefit from the digital revolution is to combine skills training and improved / new infrastructure.

Says Dall’Omo; “Convergence of man and machine intelligence will enable a new era of speed, flexibility, efficiency and connectivity in the 21st century. The conversation about man vs machine is not an either-or scenario. Ongoing education and training has a positive effect for both business and society. A strong pipeline of talent with the relevant skills and knowledge is beneficial to governments and businesses, while young people advance into jobs and careers with increased economic opportunity if they have the right skills.”

Factory automation and electrical engineering equipment donations have been made to the following institutions:

  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  • Dar-Es-Salaam Institute of Technology, Tanzania
  • Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT), Kenya
  • And nine Universities and Colleges across South Africa

“Our commitment to skills development and our relationships with these institutions goes beyond just this donation,” adds Dall’Omo. “We invest for the long-term and believe that by playing an active role in skills development, locally engineered solutions could catalyze the re-industrialization of the economy and trigger growth on an unprecedented scale.”

The company has a unique understanding of the challenges faced across the African continent, and has proved to be a reliable partner from grassroots level, right through to corporate and government level.

Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich) (www.Siemens.com) is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 165 years. The company is active in more than 200 countries, focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of efficient power generation and power transmission solutions and a pioneer in infrastructure solutions as well as automation, drive and software solutions for industry. The company is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment – such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging systems – and a leader in laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT. In fiscal 2016, which ended on September 30, 2016, Siemens generated revenue of €79.6 billion and net income of €5.6 billion. At the end of September 2016, the company had around 351,000 employees worldwide. Further information is available on the Internet at www.Siemens.com.

This document contains statements related to our future business and financial performance and future events or developments involving Siemens that may constitute forward-looking statements. These statements may be identified by words such as “expects,” “looks forward to,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” …

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Botswana president steps down
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Botswana's President Seretse Ian Khama waves to the crowd as he leaves after a rally in his village Serowe on March 27, 2018, before officially stepping down on March 31 and handing power to his vice-president on April 1. / AFP PHOTO / MONIRUL BHUIYAN

Botswana’s President Seretse Ian Khama waves to the crowd as he leaves after a rally in his village Serowe on March 27, 2018, before officially stepping down on March 31 and handing power to his vice-president on April 1. / AFP PHOTO / MONIRUL BHUIYAN

President Ian Khama of Botswana this week wrapped up a national “farewell tour” before he stands down on Saturday in a power transfer designed to stress his statesmanship and the country’s stability.

Khama has visited all of Botswana’s 57 constituencies since December, bidding a long goodbye to a population of just 2.2 million after serving the constitutional maximum of 10 years in office.

He will be succeeded by Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, a full 18 months before elections.

Khama’s two terms in power have been defined by his country’s rapid development thanks to lucrative diamond and beef exports and by a reputation for good governance.

He has also become renowned for straight talking — breaking with diplomatic convention to criticise leaders including US President Donald Trump and then-president Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday, his tour finished in his ancestral village of Serowe in the east of the country, with a day of songs, poems, gifts, ululation and pleading for him to remain in office.

Thousands of jubilant villagers dressed in blue, white and black, gathered in a kgotla, a traditional courtyard, to hear Khama speak.

“I was a soldier, I didn’t have interest to join politics, I had future plans, away from politics,” he told the crowd, adding that his predecessor Festus Mogae had to persuade him to take over in 2008.

– Son of independence leader –

Khama, 65, has cultivated a down-to-earth image — despite his father Seretse Khama serving from 1966 to 1980 as Botswana’s first president after independence from Britain.

Edna Monyena, a village elder in her 80s, lavished praise on the outgoing president, telling him that he was “an honest man, a straightforward man” who showed “real love”.

Many elderly female villagers wore blue dresses printed with portraits of Khama’s father, and some used cow bones as percussion instruments as they stood up to sing and dance.

Khama was showered with gifts including a 4×4 truck, 143 cows, hundreds of chickens, over 415,000 pula ($44,000), and a fully-equipped luxury caravan that his brother Tshekedi dubbed a “mobile state house”.

The avid conservationist also received a framed picture of a rhino.

“I wanted him to be 50 years more in office, I want him to work until the Almighty calls him,” unemployed Sadie Moleta, 23, told AFP in Serowe, where Khama is a chief of the Bangwato tribe.

Khama, a former pilot and military chief, demonstrated his outspoken streak when he recently accused Trump of promoting policies that encourage poaching, and summoning the US envoy over Trump’s alleged slur against African countries in January.

Khama called on Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to step down well before the nonagenarian was ousted, and his government has also urged Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila to resign after his term expired in December 2016.

The Botswana leader’s on-schedule departure has made a public display of obeying the constitutional term limit.

But his own record in office has not been without its critics, who accuse him of an autocratic leadership style.

He led the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to landslide victories in two elections, although the party won less than 50 percent for the first time in the 2014 vote.

– Uneven legacy? –

Often seen as one of Africa’s success stories, Botswana has recorded rising unemployment since 2009 as diamond prices fell.

The drop in revenue forced Khama to halt many planned investments in recent years.

“Internationally, he positioned himself as a moral leader in the region, stepping down as an example of a leader who respects laws and traditions — and inviting both President Kabila and Mugabe to respect democracy and the rule of law,” Matteo Vidiri, a BMI Research analyst, told AFP.

“(But) a slowing economy and increasing public discontent has damaged the narrative of Botswana’s ‘special character’, of a country being able to escape the ‘resource curse’.”

The opposition blames Khama for creating a society of “beggars”.

“He killed the spirit of self-reliance creating dependency through handouts,” Kesitegile Gobotswang, deputy president of the Botswana Congress Party, told AFP.

“The economy shed jobs under his leadership.”

Khama, who is unmarried, was born in Britain as his father married white British woman Ruth Williams — a mixed-race partnership that caused widespread shock in Africa and Britain.

Incoming president Masisi, 55, will be inaugurated on Sunday.

*AFP.

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“Let Africa evolve” says Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the Africa CEO forum
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
The President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and former President of Nigeria_ Olusegun Obasanjo

The President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and former President of Nigeria_ Olusegun Obasanjo

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, 27th March 2018, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/-  Economic recovery and institution building are the challenges faced by all African countries today.

During a panel discussion organised by the Africa CEO Forum around the theme,

When Leaders make History, the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, shared their experiences on the sustainable and inclusive growth of Africa in general and their own countries in particular.
 
According to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Africa’s problem is “the failure of leadership”. President Mnangagwa continued, saying, “Geographically, my country is far from Nigeria but that did not stop Nigeria from helping us when we needed it. It is this vision that we African leaders should share: mutual aid. Africa needs to learn how to manage its own problems, and this starts with the balance between leadership and institutions“. He believes that the executive, the legislature and the judiciary should be independent. Each must perform its mission freely and transparently, but play a complementary role.
 
The sustainable and inclusive growth sought by African countries is only possible if civil society and elected politicians operate without interference. “We have civilian organisations that come to our countries to support our people by building schools and health centres. It’s their role and we welcome that. What we do not accept is that they interfere in our politics. You cannot come from outside and tell us who we need to put at the head of our country, think our politics for us. We must let Africa evolve,” he said.
 
Zimbabwe has begun its economic recovery through the implementation of an agrarian reform process that enabled 367 families to gain access to land.
 
We are attempting to evaluate the situation before launching reforms. But we have started land redistribution. This was one of the major problems that we had to solve in Zimbabwe. Today, we need a structure to fight famine and poverty. For now, we are giving our farmers the means to improve and increase production. The food shortage will be alleviated through this system,” said President Mnangagwa, who also announced that women and young people will be given a prominent place in national decision-making. 
In his speech, Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, said that, in the fight against corruption, there was one principle to be respected: that of having strong institutions and effective leadership. “It’s good to have a law that sets up a strong institution. But you have to have the men who go with them, effective people. If not, we will not complete our mission. Our goals will never be achieved,” he said.
Cost-effective exports and affirmative action for women and young people will also contribute to the success of this highly awaited economic recovery.
 
The panel discussion ended on these words, after which the Jeune Afrique Media Group’s Publication Director, Marwane Ben Yhamed, closed the sixth edition of the Africa CEO forum.
The AFRICA CEO FORUM is organized by Jeune Afrique Media Group, the publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and by rainbow unlimited, a Swiss company specialized in event organization and economic promotion. With the success of its 2017 edition, which welcomed almost 1,200 business leaders from Africa and the world, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has established itself as the main international event for the African private sector to discuss the continent’s development in a highly professional environment ideal for business networking. The 2018 edition is co-hosted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC, part of the World Bank Group).
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Chad’s leader plots to stay until 2033
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Idriss Deby came to power in 1990

Idriss Deby came to power in 1990

President Idriss Deby is set to govern Chad until 2033 if a recommendation made by his party is approved, news agency Reuters reports.

A report issued by allied politicians, business leaders and traditional chiefs has proposed a presidential term limit for the country’s leaders from 2021.

The proposed changes include a six-year rather than five-year presidential term, limited to a maximum of two terms.

Mr Deby, who came to power in 1990, will be 81 by the time his final terms ends.

The opposition has dismissed the proposed changes as a plot to create a monarchy.

Chad, an ally of Western nations in the fight against Islamist militants in West and Central Africa, has faced strikes and protests in recent months over economic woes caused by low prices for its chief export, oil.

*BBC

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TRUMP TO END SPECIAL STATUS FOR LIBERIAN IMMIGRANTS IN US
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
President George Weah shakes hand with US Ambassador Christine Elder Photo Credit: Executive Mansion Photo

President George Weah shakes hand with US Ambassador Christine Elder
Photo Credit: Executive Mansion Photo

Trump has pursued a crackdown on legal and illegal immigration since becoming president.WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to special legal status for certain immigrants from Liberia, including some who have lived in the United States for decades, citing improved conditions in the West African country.

The special status would end on 31 March, 2019.

“Liberia is no longer experiencing armed conflict and has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance,” according to a memorandum signed by Trump and released by the White House.

Trump has pursued a crackdown on legal and illegal immigration since becoming president.

Some Liberians have been eligible for either Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure since March 1991 due to civil wars, fragile political and economic conditions and an Ebola virus outbreak in 2014, the memorandum said.

“Liberia has also concluded reconstruction from prior conflicts, which has contributed significantly to an environment that is able to handle adequately the return of its nationals,” Trump said.

“The 2014 outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease caused a tragic loss of life and economic damage to the country, but Liberia has made tremendous progress in its ability to diagnose and contain future outbreaks of the disease,” he said.

A 12-month “wind-down” period starting 31 March, 2018, would allow the Liberian government to prepare to re-integrate returning citizens and give time for affected Liberians to “make necessary arrangements,” according to the memorandum, which was addressed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The Liberian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. DHS officials did not immediately respond to a request seeking numbers of those who will be affected.

Trump previously included three other African countries — Chad, Somalia and Libya — among several whose citizens were blocked from entering the United States.

African politicians and diplomats blasted Trump in January after he was reported to have used vulgar language to describe African countries and Haiti, with some calling him a racist. Trump later denied making the remark.

In early January, the administration announced that around 200,000 Salvadorans would lose their Temporary Protected Status in September, 2019. Some 59,000 Haitians and 5,300 Nicaraguans who are in the program would also lose their status next year, while TPS for some 57,000 Hondurans expires 5 July, 2018.

*Reuters

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Nelson Mandela’s golden hand casts sell for $10m in bitcoin
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
HULTON ARCHIVE Image caption Four casts of Nelson Mandela's hands were made by mining group Harmony Gold in 2002

HULTON ARCHIVE
Image caption
Four casts of Nelson Mandela’s hands were made by mining group Harmony Gold in 2002

Gold castings of the hands of South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela have been sold for $10m (£7m) in bitcoin.

Canadian crypto-currency exchange firm Arbitrade bought four casts from South African businessman Malcolm Duncan.

The firm said it planned to launch a global “Golden Hands of Nelson Mandela” tour to educate young people about the anti-apartheid icon’s life.

This is the first time artefacts of Mr Mandela have been sold in bitcoin.

Mr Mandela was jailed for 27 years for fighting white minority rule in South Africa.

He was released in 1990, and served as president from 1994 to 1999.

Mr Mandela died in 2013 at the age of 95. He had turned into a global brand, with businessmen and artists cashing in on his name.

Mr Duncan, who now lives in Canada, bought the casts from mining group Harmony Gold in 2002 for about $31,000.

Half of the money paid to Harmony Gold was meant to go to charity, but it remains unclear as to whether that happened, Bloomberg news agency reports.

Harmony said it had “supplied Mr Duncan with the necessary paperwork verifying the provenance as requested by his attorneys,” but declined to comment on what happened to the donation, Bloomberg reports.

Nelson Mandela's old prison cell on Robben IslandImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island

The casts, which weigh around 20lb (9kg), include Mr Mandela’s hand, palm and fist. They are part of a collection meant to mark the years the former president spent in prison on Robben Island.

The artefacts are believed to be the only ones left in the world.

The other sets of the collection were ordered to be destroyed by Mr Mandela, Mr Duncan told Bloomberg.

It was part of the former president’s attempt to control his copyright after a number of scandals, including forgery allegations, arose around the sale of art bearing his image and name.

Arbitrade has paid Mr Duncan a bitcoin deposit that has been converted to $50,000, and the rest is expected to be paid in quarterly instalments of at least $2m, Bloomberg reports.

“They take possession when I have the dollar amount in the bank, At two-and-a-quarter million at a time, they take one hand at a time,” Mr Duncan was quoted as saying.

Arbitrade is due to launch an initial coin offering and plans to mine its own crypto-currencies and trade others, Bloomberg reports.

The company’s chairman, Len Schutzman, told the news agency that it will back all its virtual currency with a percentage of physical metal, such as gold.

*BBC

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Ethiopian Airlines Launches Split Scimitar® Winglets in Northern Africa
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Rendering of an Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 with APB Split Scimitar Winglets (PRNewsfoto/Aviation Partners Boeing)

Rendering of an Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 with APB Split Scimitar Winglets (PRNewsfoto/Aviation Partners Boeing)

SEATTLEMarch 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) announced today that Ethiopian Airlines has become the first operator in Northern Africa of its latest Split Scimitar Winglet technology.  The first installation of the System was completed on March 20, 2018, at its MRO in Addis Ababa.  Ethiopian Airlines intends to install the Winglets on its fleet of Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft.  Aviation Partners’ latest Winglet design, the Split Scimitar Winglet, uses existing Blended Winglet technology but adds new aerodynamic Scimitar tips and a large ventral strake, further increasing the efficiency of the airplane.

“Ethiopian Airlines recognizes the importance of investing in their fleet and is taking steps to be the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly airline in Africa,” says Aviation Partners Boeing director of sales and marketing Christopher Stafford.  “With the installation of the Split Scimitar Winglet System, not only will Ethiopian Airlines show its environmental stewardship, but the fuel savings and additional payload on long haul routes will significantly improve the operating economics of the Boeing Next Generation 737-700 and 737-800 models.”

The Split Scimitar Winglet modification reduces Boeing Next-Generation 737 block fuel consumption by up to an additional 2.2% over the Blended Winglets alone.  The Split Scimitar Winglet System will reduce Ethiopian Airline’s annual fuel requirements by more than 275,000 liters per aircraft, and their carbon dioxide emissions by over 700 tonnes per aircraft per year.

“As the leading carrier in Africa, Ethiopian has always been spearheading the introduction of aviation technology into the continent. The planned installation of the Split Scimitar Winglets is yet another testimony to our technology leadership in Africa’s aviation industry,” says Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Ato Tewolde Gebremariam. “Currently, we operate 8 Boeing Next-Generation 737-700s and 16 Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 aircraft. Once these airplanes are fitted with the newest winglets and enter operation, we will benefit a lot in terms of fuel efficiency, which in turn will take our environmental protection efforts one step ahead.” 

Since launching the Boeing Next-Generation 737 Split Scimitar Winglet program, APB has taken orders for over 1,800 systems, and over 1,000 aircraft are now operating with the technology.  APB estimates that its products have reduced aircraft fuel consumption worldwide by over 8.0 billion gallons to-date thereby saving nearly 85.0 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Aviation Partners Boeing is a Seattle based joint venture of Aviation Partners, Inc. and The Boeing Company. www.aviationpartnersboeing.com

Ethiopian Airlines is largest and fastest growing airline on the African continent and wholly owned by the government of Ethiopia.  In its seventy plus years of operation, Ethiopian has become one of the continent’s leading carriers, unrivalled in efficiency and operational success. It is the first airline to introduce the ultra-modern Boeing 787-8 aircraft into Africa and also operates a mix of modern airplanes with an average fleet age of five years.

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Congo rejects foreign funding for long-delayed elections
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Congolese president Joseph Kabila casts his ballot in the country's presidential election at a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on Nov. 28, 2011.

Congolese president Joseph Kabila casts his ballot in the country’s presidential election at a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on Nov. 28, 2011.

Congo’s government says it will not take international funding for its long-delayed elections, calling it a decision to avoid foreign interference.

A statement issued Monday thanks all partners who announced election contributions, saying the government should find a way to direct the money toward projects in health, education and infrastructure upgrades.

President Joseph Kabila, whose mandate ended in December 2016, has said elections will be organized by the Congolese only. The opposition has accused him of trying to cling to power. Some protests have turned deadly.

The election commission has said the vote now will be in December.

The United States last month urged Congo to abandon the use of electronic voting to avoid any challenges to results. Monday’s statement, however, recommends continued public awareness about the machines.

*AP

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Free gift? China extends influence in Africa with $32M grant for regional HQ
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jenni Marsh*

The African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was also a gift from China. It cost $200 million to build and was handed over in 2012.

The African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was also a gift from China. It cost $200 million to build and was handed over in 2012.

(CNN)China raised eyebrows this month by announcing it will give the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) a $31.6 million grant to build a new headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

African, right, and Chinese workers, left, build railway track sections for the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line in Tsavo, Kenya.

African, right, and Chinese workers, left, build railway track sections for the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line in Tsavo, Kenya.

Accepting the grant, the president of ECOWAS Jean-Claude Brou thanked China, and confirmed the organization’s commitment to promoting future ECOWAS-China cooperation. A press release said that Mr Brou called this a mark of goodwill from China.

But critics questioned the Asian economic powerhouse’s motives for the donation, which positions it at the center of West African politics.
Earlier this year, a published report in the French daily, Le Monde, alleged that Beijing spied on the African Union through the computer systems it helped install. Citing anonymous sources, Le Monde reported that data was transferred from the AU systems in Ethiopia to its servers in Shanghai. China’s foreign ministry called the Le Monde report “groundless accusations.”  The AU called the report “baseless.”
 “People will interpret this as a symbolic expression of China’s growing presence in Africa,” says Ian Taylor, professor in international relations and African political economics at the University of St Andrews, in Scotland.

“But the real question is 60 years after independence (for most member states), why does ECOWAS think it’s acceptable for a foreign power to build its headquarters?”
ECOWAS and the Chinese Ministry for Foreign Affairs did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Why did ECOWAS accept?

ECOWAS was established in 1975 to foster economic integration and collective self-sufficiency in West Africa.
Its 15 member states include one of Africa’s biggest economies by GDP Nigeria, causing Taylor and others to ask why ECOWAS isn’t self-funding the facility. Had the members split the bill, it would have cost just over $2 million each.
Philip Olayoku, project manager at the Abuja-based Information Aid Network, says the official numbers are misleading and many countries in the grouping don’t have cash to spare for such projects.
“For me, reliance on GDP is the wrong way to determine how well a country’s economy is doing,” he says. Corruption in many West African governments, he explains, means “funds that are accrued for national growth are often not where they need to be,” impairing a country’s ability to contribute effectively to bodies such as ECOWAS.
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Ethiopia’s ruling coalition names new chairman, set to be PM
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By ELIAS MESERET*

Dr Abiy Ahmed

Dr Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition named a chairman set to become the country’s new prime minister late Tuesday amid the latest state of emergency in Africa’s second most populous nation.

Abiy Ahmed is poised to take power, as the ruling coalition and its regional affiliates hold all parliament seats. A vote by lawmakers is expected on Wednesday.

The announcement followed months of the most severe anti-government protests in a quarter-century and the surprise decision by then-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn early this year to release prominent politicians, journalists and others from prison to free up political space.

But Hailemariam later announced his intention to resign and a new state of emergency was imposed in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.

Abiy is the first person from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, to hold the post of prime minister since the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991.

Ethiopians had eagerly awaited news of their new leader for days. This will be the third prime minister since the current ruling coalition came to power close to 30 years ago after overthrowing the Derg military regime by force.

Many hoped the development would bring calm after the months of protests demanding wider freedoms.

“I believe that the Oromia region president, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, is the answer to Ethiopia’s youths’ questions,” Yonas Alemayehu, an activist in the restive Oromia region, told The Associated Press. The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group among Ethiopia’s population of 100 million, have long felt marginalized.

The outgoing prime minister at times had been labeled as weak and under the shadow of former strongman Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012. Others argued that Hailemariam successfully continued the late leader’s core policies, of both economic transformation and repression.

In a 2016 interview with the AP, the outgoing prime minister acknowledged that good governance was in decline in Ethiopia and people were asking the government to correct it.

“That is the main reason why people are protesting,” he said at the time. “This is really a positive sign. I have recently apologized in front of the parliament for our mismanagement and lack of responsibility that have generated these dissents. We are now taking measures to address those grievances.”

However, the protests continue to this day.

*AP

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Morocco:Over 300 delegates Expected in Marrakech For The African Women in Agriculture Congress” May 8-10, 2018
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

-Marrakech will host  the second edition of AWA “The African Women in Agriculture Congress” May 8-10, 2018

-More than 300 delegates will discuss the role of women in Africa’s agricultural development.

Believe in Africa has chosen Morocco to organize its second international conference on the subject: “Women and Agriculture“.

The congress “African Women in Agriculture 2018“, will take place in Marrakech from May 8 to 10, 2018 at the Mohammed VI Museum of Water Civilization in Morocco – AMAN, with the support of the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI) , UN Women, Initiative for Global Develop (IGD) US Africa Foundation (USADF), Forbes Africa, Africa Agriculture, and AllAfrica Magazine.

The main purpose of AWAAfrican Women in Agriculture” is to create a grid of influencers based on an exchange between high-ranking personalities and small scales producers. AWA’s aspiration is to boost women’s empowerment in agriculture, in rural areas particularly, by empowering them to become self-reliant, productive and competitive. AWA covers the four agricultural sectors, which are: agriculture, livestock, fisheries/fish farming and agro-forestry and handicrafts.

Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa

Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa

For Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa; “AWA is a unique place to share knowledge and experience where personal success stories are honored and analyzed and shared.

Furthermore The 2018 edition wants to take tangible actions and develop a roadmap for resource mobilization, training and optimization of production capacity, processing and marketing of agricultural products.

AWA 2018 will be an opportunity to highlight the collective commitment of this network put in place for the empowerment of African women, and above all allow participants to find investors and partners for the marketing of their products on the African and global market.

*For more information at http://www.believeinafrica.org/, email: Believeinafrica1@gmail.com

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Access Power launches 2018 edition of the $7 million Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) competition powering Africa & Asia
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
The winners of ACF 2018 will be announced during a live final evaluation panel on June 19th 2018 during the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 27, 2018/ — Access Power (www.Access-Power.com), a developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today announced the launch of ACF 2018, the third edition of the highly successful funding and support platform for renewable energy projects in Africa and Asia. For this third edition, Access has included Asia for energy projects and invite entrepreneurs across both Africa and Asia to compete.

Now in its fourth year, the ACF is an innovative US$7 million financial support programme designed to provide local power project developers and originators with project development support, technical experience, expertise and funding required to bring their renewable energy projects to life.

ACF 2018 aims to further build on the success of the previous three years where a total of 234 projects have been considered for the prize with several winning projects now benefiting from the mix of funding and technical expertise provided by Access Power. This year’s finalists will once again be evaluated and scored by an independent panel of industry experts, similar to last year’s which comprised of senior representatives from Power Africa, InfraCo Africa, Proparco, and the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) .

The winners of ACF 2018 will be announced during a live final evaluation panel on June 19th 2018 during the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius. The top three finalists from Africa and Asia will subsequently enter into direct Joint Development Agreement (JDA) discussions with Access Power.

Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman, Access Power commented; “This year we are delighted to welcome projects across Asia too to compete. By introducing new markets, we hope this will enable us to reach a bigger network of innovative and pioneering entrepreneurs across Africa and Asia with the opportunity to develop their ambitious ideas into tangible projects.”

The ACF 2018 application form and guidelines are available on Access Power website www.Access-Power.com

The ACF 2018 is a financial support mechanism designed to provide local developers and entrepreneurs with the technical expertise and funding required to bring their renewable energy projects to life.
• Applications for the ACF 2018 will open in March 19th  2018
• The submission period runs from March 19th to May 10th 2018.
• An independent judging panel will include industry experts as well as representatives from multilateral development banks.
• Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges at the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius,June 2018 (www.Africa-Energy-Forum.com).
• Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the Forum within a given time and take questions from panel members.
• Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
• The winners will negotiate and enter a Joint Development Agreement with Access Power, which will take an agreed equity stake in the winning projects and fund all third-party development costs. Access Power will also provide technical support, financing and development process management

About Access Power 
Access Power (www.Access-Power.com) ‘Access’ is a developer, owner and operator of power plants in emerging and frontier markets. Access today is one of the fastest growing independent power producers in emerging markets and is currently developing renewable energy projects worth over US$1 billion in 23 countries across Africa and Asia Our development team has a depth of experience in developing and building large portfolios of renewable energy projects, with a collective track record of financially closing 30 GW of power projects across the globe.

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Why Africa’s free trade area offers so much promise
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

By *

African leaders meet in Kigali to sign the continent’s free trade agreement. Paul Kagame/Flickr

African leaders meet in Kigali to sign the continent’s free trade agreement. Paul Kagame/Flickr

African leaders have just signed a framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organisation.

The free trade area aims to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. By 2030 the market size is expected to include 1.7 billion people with over USD$ 6.7 trillion of cumulative consumer and business spending – that’s if all African countries have joined the free trade area by then. Ten countries, including Nigeria, have yet to sign up.

The goal is to create a

single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.

The agreement has the potential to deliver a great deal for countries on the continent. The hope is that the trade deal will trigger a virtuous cycle of more intra African trade, which in turn will drive the structural transformation of economies – the transition from low productivity and labour intensive activities to higher productivity and skills intensive industrial and service activities – which in turn will produce better paid jobs and make an impact on poverty.

But signing the agreement is only the beginning. For it to come into force, 22 countries must ratify it. Their national legislative bodies must approve and sanction the framework formally, showing full commitment to its implementation. Niger President Issoufou Mahamadou, who has been championing the process, aims to have the ratification process completed by January 2019.

Cause and effect

Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022. Better market access creates economies of scale. Combined with appropriate industrial policies, this contributes to a diversified industrial sector and growth in manufacturing value added.

Manufacturing represents only about 10% of total GDP in Africa on average. This falls well below other developing regions. A successful continental free trade area could reduce this gap. And a bigger manufacturing sector will mean more well-paid jobs, especially for young people. This in turn will help poverty alleviation.

Industrial development, and with it, more jobs, is desperately needed in Africa. Industry represents one-quarter to one-third of total job creationin other regions of the world. And a young person in Africa is twice as likely to be unemployed when he or she becomes an adult. This is a particularly stressful situation given that over 70% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is below age 30.

In addition, 70% of Africa’s youth live on less than US $2 per day.

The continental free trade area is expected to offer

substantial opportunities for industrialisation, diversification, and high-skilled employment in Africa.

The single continental market will offer the opportunity to accelerate the manufacture and intra-African trade of value-added products, moving from commodity based economies and exports to economic diversification and high-value exports.

But, to increase the impact of the trade deal, industrial policies must be put in place. These must focus on productivity, competition, diversification, and economic complexity.

In other words, governments must create enabling conditions to ensure that productivity is raised to international competitiveness standards. The goal must be to ensure that the products manufactured in African countries are competitively traded on the continent and abroad, and to diversify the range and sophistication of products and services.

Drivers of manufacturing

Data shows that the most economically diverse countries are also the most successful.

In fact, diversification is critical as “countries that are able to sustain a diverse range of productive know-how, including sophisticated, unique know-how, are able to produce a wide diversity of goods, including complex products that few other countries can make.

Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and are likely to benefit from it the most. These countries will find a large continental market for their manufactured products. They will also use their know-how and dense industrial landscape to develop innovative products and respond to market demand.

But the agreement on its own won’t deliver results. Governments must put in place policies that drive industrial development, particularly manufacturing. Five key ones stand out:

Human capital: A strong manufacturing sector needs capable, healthy, and skilled workers. Policymakers should adjust curriculum to ensure that skills are adapted to the market. And there must be a special focus on young people. Curriculum must focus on skills and building capacity for entrepreneurship and self-employment. This should involve business training at an early age and skills upgrading at an advanced one. This should go hand in hand with promoting science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and mathematics as well as vocational and on-the-job training.

Policymakers should also favour the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent.

Cost: Policymakers must bring down the cost of doing business. The barriers include energy, access to roads and ports, security, financing, bureaucratic restrictions, corruption, dispute settlement and property rights.

Supply network: Industries are more likely to evolve if competitive networks exist. Policymakers should ease trade restrictions and integrate regional trade networks. In particular, barriers for small and medium-size businesses should be lifted.

Domestic demand: Policymakers should offer tax incentives to firms to unlock job creation, and to increase individual and household incomes. Higher purchasing power for households will increase the size of the domestic market.

Resources: Manufacturing requires heavy investment. This should be driven by the private sector. Policymakers should facilitate access to finance, especially for small and medium enterprises. And to attract foreign direct investment, policymakers should address perceptions of poor risk perception. This invariably scares off potential investors or sets excessive returns expectations.

Increased productivity

The continental free trade area facilitates industrialisation by creating a continental market, unlocking manufacturing potential and bolstering an international negotiation bloc.

Finally, the continental free trade area will also provide African leaders with a greater negotiating power to eliminate barriers to exporting. This will help prevent agreements with other countries, and trading blocs, that are likely to hurt exports and industrial development.

*Culled from The Conversation.is a Distinguished Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for African Studies, David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Global Economy and Development and Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution, and Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, Stanford University

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IGAD Decided to Lift South Sudanese Rebel Leader Machar House Arrest, Proposes Relocation
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg

Juba – The regional bloc of Inter –Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers has decided to release South Sudan’s exiled rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar from house arrest in South Africa.

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg. He is isolated from his friends and family, and has been frozen out of South Sudan’s peace process and the future of his country.

 The IGAD’s communique issued following its 61st Extra-Ordinary Session held on Monday in Addis Ababa, said it would release Dr. Machar as soon as possible if he would agree to renounce violence, not obstruct the peace process and relocate to any country “outside the region not neighboring South Sudan.”

Meanwhile, the wife of Dr. Machar told the VOA that the family is disappointed in a decision made by IGAD calling for a conditional “lifting of house arrest.”

“If you read it carefully, actually, there is no lifting of any house arrest. Because what they said is very clear that they will transfer him from where he is now, which is South Africa, to another location that is not in the region, and that would not be in any proximity with South Sudan,” Angelina Teny, Machar’s wife said, who is also senior opposition member.

The statement said that IGAD ministers would decide on a possible location for prominent South Sudanese rebel leader Machar, something his wife said the ministers of the regional bloc are not being fair to her husband.

Dr. Machar, who ended up in South Africa, came in aftermath of a new outbreak of fighting in July 2016 destroyed a tentative peace deal that had restored Machar to his government post, and forced him to flee the country.

The opposition groups say they are upset by the government demand to exclude Machar from the SPLM reunification process, peace revitalization forum, and the national transitional government.

President Kiir government made it clear since last year that Machar can only run for president at the end constitutional process, insisting that he should remain away from the rest claiming he would obstruct the whole operation.

Over the weekend, the government Chief Negotiator for the peace process said they have rejected the opposition proposal at the High Level Revitalization Forum talks to reinstate 1st Former Vice President Riek Machar to his former position, describes as problematic.

 “This of course is problematic and we don’t want to repeat that tragic history if that formula could work but we tried it could not work,” Chief Negotiator Nhial Deng Nhial said at the party rally, SPLM in Juba. “It’s an obstacle we hope that the SPLA/IO of Dr. Riek focus more on the representation of position as an institution rather than in the person of Riek SPLM/IO is fully entitled in key position in the government in keeping in its political weight that is something that we are already to consider.”

However, the observers said this new condition may obstruct the peace process as the third round of revitalization process is at doorstep.

Machar, who has long dominated South Sudanese politics, though he was rebelled against former SPLM leader Dr. John Garang De Mabior, was an instrumental figure in South Sudan’s fight for independence from Sudan, and has served as vice president twice in the very short history of the world’s newest nation. It became independent in 2011.

However, power struggling between Dr. Machar and President Salva Kiir sparked the civil war that began in 2013, leaving the country devastated in its wake.

The regional bloc also called upon the Transitional Government of National Unity and the nine opposition groups not to squander the opportunity for ending the suffering of the people of South Sudan.

IGAD did not set new dates for the resumption of the peace talks. Its special envoy, South Sudan Ambassador Ismail Wais, will consult various South Sudanese stakeholders to reconcile the position of the parties on power sharing and permanent security arrangements before the next talks.

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