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Boko Haram Realeses 101 DAPCHI Abducted Girls …as five of the Girls were allegedly killed
March 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Olayinka Ajayi
 
The directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to all security agencies to do everything possible to secure the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls, who were abducted 19 Feb. 2018, has yielded fruits, with the confirmed release of 101 of the 110 abducted students in the early hours of Wednesday.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the 101 are those who have been documented so far, adding that the release of the abducted students is ongoing.
The number of the Dapchi schoolgirls who were released on Wednesday has increased from 76 to 101, with the documentation of more of the freed girls by the insurgent group.
The Minister said the number could still increase, as the documentation of the freed girls is ongoing.
The Minister said the girls were released around 3 a.m. through back-channel efforts and with the help of some friends of the country, and that it was unconditional.
”For the release to work, the government had a clear understanding that violence and confrontation would not be the way out as it could endanger the lives of the girls, hence a non-violent approach was the preferred option.
”Within the period when the girls were being brought back, operational pause was observed in certain areas to ensure free passage and also that lives were not lost,” he said.
However, Sahara Reporters reported that five of the girls are dead as the insurgent group reportedly returned all kidnapped DapchiGirls girls back to Dapchi township in Yobe.
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In light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal: Should African countries holding elections be concerned
March 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg meets Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, Nigeria, on September. Mark Zuckerberg's African tour

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg meets Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, Nigeria, on September. Mark Zuckerberg’s African tour

Anyone who has been on the internet since last Friday at one point or the other must have come across news pieces focusing on a firm called Cambridge Analytica or the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook scandal. It’s not always the case that most internet users’ click on news with a special focus on firms or people they aren’t familiar with or in faraway places. However, the trending Cambridge Analytica scandal should be a concern for everyone regardless of location.

Why is the Cambridge Analytica scandal a big deal for everyone including Africans?

Everyone must be gravely concerned about the ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal because it affects each one of us directly and has influenced or possess the influence to alter our lives significantly. Firstly, the scandal occurred in the form of data mining by private firms on unsuspecting social media users (specifically Facebook but can also apply to other social media platforms). As most of us are social media users, this means it can affect or has already affected us.

Secondly, the scandal is a political machination meant at influencing the political outcome in elections, thus threatening the notion of democracy of free, fair, and credible elections. Something that affects us all.

Understanding the Cambridge Analytica in brief

Cambridge Analytica is a political data analysis firm operating in the US; it’s a subsidiary of Strategic Communications Laboratory, a London based company. Cambridge Analytica is accused of mining social media profiles and using the information to influence the elections.

The journey did not start with Cambridge Analytica, rather a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge called Dr. Aleksandra Kogan started it all, working separately from the Cambridge University of course. Kogan created an app, thisisyourdigitallife whose aim was to identify personalities of social media users and derive their behaviour. Kogan managed to get consent from 270 000 Facebook users for his app.

At some point during that time, Kogan found a loophole in Facebook and he was able to exploit it in the process increasing his app’s user base from 270 000 to 5 million (270 000 users voluntarily downloaded the app but Kogan managed to pilfer over 50 million profiles as the default terms of his agreement with Facebook enabled his app to gather data from the friends of the users who had voluntarily downloaded the app).

It is at this time that Kogan took his app and idea to Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell, two other psychologists who worked at Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre and had their own personality app called mypersonality developed in 2007. In 2013, Michael Kosinski and David Stillwell together with fashion forecasting Ph.D. student named Christopher Wylie started Cambridge Analytica after Christopher Wylie had approached Michal and David with a proposition to use mypersonality as a precursor to political behaviour.

Cambridge Analytica quickly took on Kogan’s thisisyourlife app together with its 5 million users. Kogan surrendered the app to Cambridge Analytica afterward, however news quickly reached Facebook that Kogan had exploited a loophole in Facebook’s operations and was able to mine data of 5 million users. Facebook instructed Kogan and Cambridge Analytica to stop mining the data; Cambridge Analytica refused as reported by Rolling Stone.

Cambridge Analytica’s influence in US elections

According to the Dallas News and the Guardian, Ted Cruz was the first US presidential candidate to have used the services of Cambridge Analytica in 2013. He, however, has issued a statement saying that the firm assured him at the time that its voter methods were legit.

Cambridge Analytica was however, more involved in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump as it was the main digital campaign trail. Cambridge Analytica used its Facebook data to combine voter records and other sources and develop targeted and personalised advertising.  The firm also mapped out the areas where the candidate (Trump) should visit to garner most votes.

Cause for concern for Africa

The Cambridge Analytica scandal comes in the same year that 20 African countries are going to hold national elections. Though Cambridge Analytica’s influence is limited to the West according to evidence thus far, it’s possible that its activities may well have reached Africa. Even if this is not the case, there is the possibility that another firm that uses identical methods to Cambridge Analytica may well have some operations in Africa.

In order for Africa to protect itself from such firms that prey on unsuspecting social media users, it’s important to know how they go about their operations so that effective counter-strategies can be formulated. The first method as reported that Cambridge Analytica commonly used was to trace one’s Facebook history, almost all the activities one does on Facebook was used to create a pattern of behaviour; ‘likes’ determined someone’s preferences i.e. liberal or conservative. Age, sex, and precise location also including the type of cosmetic or food you enjoy were all used to narrow down one’s preferences. This very same information was also used to create targeted and personalised advertising that swayed voters to the preferred candidate.

It’s probably difficult for the general populace to know if such firms are part of a country’s election especially in the absence of strong investigative journalism. However, that does not mean such firms have power over social media users, you can protect yourself, your vote and also your country by keeping your social media data secure and safe by among other things being more alert on the data you share with external websites and apps.

If you have allowed several websites and apps permission to use your Facebook data in the past, you can follow the steps below to check the apps and sites with permission to your Facebook data so you remove those that feel and look suspicious.

On desktop:

  • Click the downward pointing arrow in the top right-hand corner.
  • Click ‘Settings’
  • In the sidebar on the left, select ‘Apps’

On mobile:

  • Tap the icon with the three horizontal lines
  • Scroll down and select ‘Settings’
  • Then ‘Account Settings’
  • Scroll down and select ‘Apps’
  • Tap ‘Logged in with Facebook’ to see all of the services accessing your account.

 

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Ramaphosa proposes single African currency: AU Summit
March 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
File: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday strongly punted the idea of creating a single homogeneous currency for African countries in a bid to attract infrastructure investment and enable ease of intra-African trade.

File: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday strongly punted the idea of creating a single homogeneous currency for African countries in a bid to attract infrastructure investment and enable ease of intra-African trade.

KIGALI – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday strongly punted the idea of creating a single homogeneous currency for African countries in a bid to attract infrastructure investment and enable ease of intra-African trade.

Speaking as a panelist on financing intra-Africa trade at the African Continental Free Trade Area business forum in Kigali, Rwanda, Ramaphosa said that it was time that Africa stops relying on foreign currency for its development and trade, adding that this was born of colonial mentality.

“These are the reasons we need partners who must work with us and assist us ensure we de-risk projects in order to attract finance for infrastructure projects. I am particularly interested in the notion of us having a tradeable currency that allows us to trade effectively across territorial borders,” Ramaphosa said.

“We must rid ourselves of this colonial mentality that demands we rely on other people’s currency. Perhaps the day, the hour and the moment could have arrived for us to create a single African currency. Our focus should not be on our individual countries but the continent as a whole to unlock great opportunities and capabilities.”

At least 53 African Heads of States have gathered in Kigali for the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the AU to consider the legal instruments of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) and also launch the agreement officially to establish the treaty.

AfCTA is aimed at deepening African economic integration, promoting agricultural development, food security, industrialisation and structural economic transformation through single-air continental transport market with free movement of persons, capital, goods and services.

AU chairperson and Rwanda President, Paul Kagame gave a strong indication yet that member states will sign the treaty to create the continental free trade area even if the continent’s most-populated country, Nigeria, withdraws from the meeting.

Ramaphosa said that the AfCFTA signals a new beginning for Africa and an opportunity to unleash African people’s entrepreneurial nature, adding that the treaty would create a level playing field for African countries to participate in meaningful trade.

He also touched on the nagging issue of visa barriers for travellers between South Africa and Rwanda, saying that African leaders were creating pathways for their countries which had been impeded by artificial borders to flourish.

“Earlier today, I met with His Excellency President Kagame. We have agreed that we will put the relationship between our two countries on a much better footing. Amongst the issues we discussed, was that we must resolve the challenge of issuing of visa to people of Rwanda wanting to visit South Africa,” Ramaphosa said.

“Our Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation have been tasked to work on this immediately and we thus consider this matter of visas as solved.”

*African News Agency

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Initiative for Global Development Announces Sponsorship Line up for U.S. Roadshow Tour
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
Sponsors announced for the inaugural Africa Investment Rising’s four-city U.S. Roadshow Tour to Spur Trade and Investment in Africa

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 20, 2018 – The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) announced today its lineup of sponsors and partners for its four-city U.S. Roadshow Tour, taking place from April 18 – May 1, 2018, to spur bold action on increasing U.S. trade and investment in Africa.

The U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”, is aimed at re-shaping perceptions on doing business in Africa by bringing trade and investment opportunities to U.S. companies and forging stronger connections between U.S. and African business leaders in key growth sectors.

African and U.S. CEOs and senior executives from sector-leading companies and investors are invited to participate in the U.S. roadshow’s multi-city series of site visits, panel discussions, and speed networking among investors and business leaders to spur greater U.S. investment in Africa.

Top level sponsors of the U.S. Roadshow Tour include USAID’s East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs as Premier Sponsor. The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group will serve as Collaborating Partner and the Bank’s top leadership from key sectors will be participating throughout the roadshow tour.

Launching the U.S. roadshow in Washington, D.C on April 18 with an evening reception to kick off the U.S. Roadshow Tour on Capitol Hill.

A high-level morning session on April 19 will focus on U.S. financing of businesses operating in Africa. A Private Sector Engagement Forum, to be held on the afternoon of Thursday, April 19, will bring together development actors — USAID officials, African government officials and representatives from the private sector and civil society — for an action-oriented discussion on building successful public-private partnerships to promote sustainable development and economic prosperity on the continent.

The roadshow tour will then travel to New York City to highlight banking, financing, and investment opportunities; Des Moines, IA for agriculture and agro-industry; and Houston, TX for energy and power.

“It has never been a better time for trade and investment in Africa,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcoych, President and CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD). “We’re excited about launching the U.S. roadshow tour to showcase the continent’s economic potential.  Expanding trade and investment will enable both U.S. and African companies to scale and tap into new markets, leading to mutually beneficial job creation and greater economic prosperity. It’s a win-win.”

Platinum sponsors are ChevronNorton, Rose and Fulbright LLPIowa State University Research Park, and AGCOLilium Capital, and Orrick; Gold sponsors are Corteva AgriscienceEndeavor EnergyJohn DeereSasol, and AllAfrica.com; and Silver sponsors are World Food Prize Foundation and Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Organizational Partners are PAN Diaspora Capital ManagementHarris Africa Partners/Grant T. Harris, The Serendra Group LLC/Robert van Zwieten, U.S. Bilateral African Chamber of CommerceGlobal Farmer NetworkU.S. Small Business Administration, and Invest Africa.

Media partners are Africa InvestorAfrica.com,  Afropop Worldwide, AlloAfrica.com,  Asoko InsightFace2Face AfricaPan-African Visions, and VoxAfrica.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is a regional multilateral development bank engaged in promoting the sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries, thus contributing to poverty reduction. The USAID East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs provide extensive support to deepen the U.S.-Africa economic and commercial relationship with and within their regions.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available and IGD will announce additional sponsors and media partners on an ongoing basis. For information contact, Lara Bangs, Manager of Corporate Events, at lbangs@igdleaders.org or visit www.aircampaign.org

The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a Washington, DC-based network of African and global business leaders who are committed to advancing sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa through business investment. IGD brings together CEOs and senior executives from leading African and global companies through our Frontier Leader Network to catalyze greater business investment and impact on the African continent.

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Pan African University 2018 Student Call Now Open: Join Africa’s Leaders in Water and Energy
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES) offers four distinct two-year Master programs
The PAUWES Class of 2017 celebrates at their graduation ceremony on 29 October 2017 at the University of Tlemcen

The PAUWES Class of 2017 celebrates at their graduation ceremony on 29 October 2017 at the University of Tlemcen

TLEMCEN, Algeria, March 20, 2018/ — The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES) (http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz) in Algeria contributes to promoting higher education and applied research in the fields of water, energy and climate change – a key contribution to sustainable development in Africa. The admissions process for its Master programs in water and energy (both engineering and policy tracks) starting in September 2018 is now open. All AU citizens (including diaspora) are encouraged to apply, particularly women and candidates from Southern, Central, and Northern Africa.

Building a prosperous and stable Africa calls for a new generation of African leaders capable of and committed to facing the vast challenges of the continent. These challenges include water scarcity, renewable energy, and climate change. The Pan African University (PAU) (https://PAU-AU.net), a key initiative of the African Union Commission, is dedicated to this mission. The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES) is hosted by the University of Tlemcen in Algeria. Since its establishment in 2014, over 200 students from 31 countries across Africa have enrolled, and 73 students have been successfully graduated from its programs. “PAUWES is a prototype of the Africa of tomorrow, for which we are laying the foundations,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, during his official visit to PAUWES on 11 March 2018. PAUWES benefits from the support of the Algerian government and the German Development Cooperation.

Today, PAUWES offers four distinct two-year Master programs. Students striving to be future engineers have the choice between the Master of Science (MSc) in Water Engineering and the MSc in Energy Engineering. Students interested in policy-making and governance can choose between the MSc in Water Policy and Energy Policy. The language of instruction is English, and students have the opportunity to study French at the onset of the program. PAUWES students come from all over Africa, which creates a unique possibility to study in a multicultural environment of highly motivated and engaged peers.

Current PAUWES students greet Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, during his official visit to the Institute on 11 March 2018

Current PAUWES students greet Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, during his official visit to the Institute on 11 March 2018

PAUWES strives to balance theory and practice through international internships, case studies, and field trips. To provide the students with specific technical skills in their field of interest, PAUWES offers electives (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energies, water and sanitation, integrated water resource management, policy analysis or leadership). Graduates benefit from career pathways in public administration, policy-making, research, private enterprise, consulting and civil society. Access to the Institute’s international expert network, research partnerships, career-promotion programs and forthcoming entrepreneurship centre further boosts graduates’ profiles.

Under the framework of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, PAUWES places a special emphasis on recruiting and empowering female students. The Institute facilitates women-focused networking events and workshops. To further develop its vision of diversity, PAUWES also encourages applicants with disabilities and candidates from under-represented regions (Southern Africa, Central Africa, Northern Africa) to apply. All PAUWES students receive full scholarships (covering tuition and living expenses) following a competitive admission process.

Application
Interested students are invited to apply until 20 April 2018 under the following link: https://PAU-AU.net/apply

About Pan African University
In 2008, the African Union Commission (AUC) set up the Pan African University (PAU) (https://PAU-AU.net) to strengthen higher education and research in areas that pose particular challenges for Africa. PAU addresses five thematic areas: Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation; Life and Earth Sciences (including Health and Agriculture), Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences; Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES); and Space Sciences. The thematic areas are assigned to five flagship institutes hosted by existing universities of excellence across Africa’s five geographic regions. For more information:  https://PAU-AU.net

About PAUWES
As an integral part of the Pan African University, the Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (including Climate Change) (PAUWES) (http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz) in Tlemcen, Algeria, contributes to advancing higher education and applied research in the fields of water, energy and climate change – a key contribution to sustainable development in Africa. PAUWES, which is supported by the host country of Algeria and the German government, currently offers four Master programs in the fields of water and energy, covering both engineering and policy. For more information:  http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz

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Moammar Gadhafi’s son wants to be the next president of Libya
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Joe Tacopino*

Moammar Gadhafi, AP

Moammar Gadhafi ,AP

The son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi reportedly wants to run for president of the country in elections later this year.

The candidacy of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi — who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity — was announced by the Libyan Popular Front party on Monday, according to London’s Telegraph newspaper.

Saif al-Islam, 45, is currently in hiding. The political party said they would address the country about his plans.

Human rights activist Khaled Guel told the pan-Arab newspaper al-Araby al-Jadeed that things are so bad in Libya that people want Gadhafi to take over.

“The humanitarian situation is deteriorating and the path forward is unclear,” said Guel.

“Therefore many Libyans now believe that the only way to save the country is through Saif al-Islam.”

Moammar Gadhafi was killed in 2011 after overseeing a bloody suppression of an uprising against him.

Saif al-Islam was held by a militia for six years and released last year and granted amnesty by a local government.

A court in Tripoli, however sentenced him to death, in absentia, in 2015 for crimes committed during the revolution.

He is accused of inciting violence and murdering protesters.

*New York Post

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Roll up your sleeves and start thinking BIG – how to get ICT in Africa right
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Murray Steyn*

Whether one subscribes to the Africa Rising narrative (a term perhaps coined by this analysis of Africa’s prospects, published by The Economist in 2011)) or a more moderate outlook for the continent, the fact is that the ICT sector has the most to gain from Africa’s economic advancement, and the most to contribute to it too.

There isn’t a single industry – from mining to manufacturing, education to entrepreneurial endeavours of every flavour, from city construction to individual actualisation – that will not be advanced by reliable, affordable access to the Internet. I don’t think there’s another sector in the world that can make such a momentous promise.

The opportunity for ICT companies of all sizes – from neighbourhood ISPs to cross-national carriers – is significant, particularly for home-grown ICT operations that surely know our continent and its markets better than any imported from overseas. Increasingly, local ICT players are collaborating to offer competitively-priced and technologically-sound solutions that are outperforming those presented by international competitors.

Many of these would only be possible through wholesale product offerings by large network operators like Internet Solutions. This may appear to be a counter-intuitive business model but for those that invested in the infrastructure and licences on which new competitors grow their market share, there is a lot of opportunity to be had in reallocating network capacity.

Below are some of the trends we’re seeing in the wholesale ICT sector, specifically looking to Africa:

Local carriers are also entering partnerships with third-party service providers

The days of operators owning the entirety of their own networks – from first- to last-mile – are over. And that’s fine. As I’ve mentioned, where some licensees have adopted business models based on owning their infrastructure, other operators have opted to partner with existing network players to bring innovative services to the market faster.

What is interesting is that even at a very local level, where one could argue that infrastructure investment is fairly contained, ISPs are recognising the benefit of outsourcing network, data centre and other assets to experienced partners. By concentrating on what they do best, which is likely servicing their customers, even the smallest ISP has the means to build a thriving business.

Red tape and regulation still hampers cross-border operations

Africa is the continent with the most countries – 54 to be exact. It’s comprised of countless tribes, innumerable languages, political instability, infrastructure challenges and more than enough regulation to go around.

The fact is that African policy-making has not been able to keep up with the exponential growth of technology, devices and their applications. As such, regulation is reactive rather than supportive, and appears to handicap development rather than encourage it.

Perhaps the solution is that foreign companies – even African ones – get closer to policy-makers in their new markets to better mitigate the risks of changing policy. Perhaps more involvement, lobbying, and monetary and other investment from the get-go will lead to better mitigation of the risks associated with policy change.

Asian operators have their eyes on Africa too

China and India are two Asian markets that not only survived the global recession but thrived despite it.

Their respective population bases, and size of their economies, provide economies of scale that are driving the growth of their ICT sectors, while the number of science and engineering students in both countries looks to sustain this growth and innovation well into the future – and into foreign territories like Africa.

Perhaps it’s true that many African ISPs lack the financial and experiential muscle of Asian competitors, but how many of these can boast genuine pan-African development agendas, and partnerships with local companies to overcome infrastructure challenges?

As Ayanda Dlamini, Business Development Manager at LGR Telecommunications, said recently: “Africa has both the resources and the resourcefulness to develop a thriving ICT sector delivering solutions fit for purpose in Africa.  The outlook is very healthy. All we need to do is take action and seize the opportunity.”

Beware of competing on cost

When it comes to Internet connectivity and access, cheapest is not necessarily best. Consumers want speed. In our experience, the arguments against unreliable connections are about as vociferous as those against high data costs.

The fact is that the speed vs. cost debate comes down to the market one is serving. A less sophisticated market has yet to learn that fast becomes cheap, whereas an experienced market of users with more high-end devices and applications comes to realise that if they can’t get data at the price they’d prefer to pay for it (i.e. free), then speed and bandwidth capacity is something they simply won’t compromise on.

My advice to ISPs entering new African territories – whether into a new country or a new neighbourhood – is to research your market thoroughly to understand who your consumers are and what they need. Then structure and price your offering accordingly.

Doing business in Africa is complicated, but it’s far from impossible. After all, Internet Solutions has been doing so for more than 20 years. We have invested in long distance and last-mile networks – the latter is especially challenging given that customers are geographically dispersed and often in underdeveloped locales.

Importantly, we have built and maintained relationships with trusted, in-country service providers. We understand exactly how consumers use data and can project future usage patterns as populations grow and disposable income increases.

What remains is the increasingly vital component of customer service, which we entrust to our wholesale clients

*Murray Steyn, Executive Head: Wholesale at Internet Solutions

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In Africa, Trump’s firing of Tillerson a new sign of neglect
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By RODNEY MUHUMUZA*

Former Secretary of State Tillerson with President Buhari of Nigeria

Former Secretary of State Tillerson with President Buhari of Nigeria

Ask some Africans what they think of President Donald Trump and they just shake their heads. That sense of indifference appears to have deepened after Trump fired his secretary of state at the end of Rex Tillerson’s first Africa tour last week.

Tillerson’s visit was widely seen as a Trump peace offering after the uproar over his reported vulgar remarks about African nations and his administration’s neglect of the world’s second most populous continent. The former secretary of state had been seen as a restraining influence on Trump and had clashed with the president over several foreign policy matters.

Now many Africans are tamping down their expectations of Trump even more. The U.S. president has rarely spoken about any priorities for a continent where many of its 50-plus nations have long relied on U.S. support for everything from health care to security.

Tillerson’s trip to Africa, including to the headquarters of the continent-wide African Union, had been widely seen as an effort to repair damage to relations. Now, with his firing, some in Africa feel they are starting anew with the Trump administration.

Tillerson’s departure is a sharp indication of Trump’s less-than-positive attitude toward the continent, some say.

“That, in my opinion, is adding insult to injury,” said Ted Alemayhu, an Ethiopian-born American who is running for Congress to represent California’s 39th District.

While in Africa, Tillerson tried to project a more positive image of the continent, saying its rapid economic growth and fast-growing populations mean its future is increasingly linked to America’s.

He visited some of Africa’s most prominent economies in Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia and highlighted U.S. security issues with stops in Chad and Djibouti, the site of the only permanent U.S. military base on the continent.

Tillerson also sought to reassure African nations that aid would continue even as the Trump administration pursues deep cuts in foreign assistance, announcing at the end of his visit $533 million in humanitarian aid for countries such as South Sudan and Nigeria.

Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, told The Associated Press that “we don’t see any change happening” in relations with the U.S. after Tillerson’s firing.

Unlike Trump, recent U.S. leaders engaged substantially with Africa.

Bill Clinton created a signature trade program known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and George W. Bush launched an HIV treatment program, PEPFAR, that has boosted the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of AIDS patients across Africa.

Barack Obama enjoyed goodwill throughout the continent, even though some in Africa felt he fell short of expectations as the son of Kenyan man.

Trump has not indicated any possible initiatives for Africa.

Trump “has no need, as he has discovered,” to engage with the continent, said Timothy Kalyegira, a prominent social critic in Uganda. “The feeling is that he is a free agent. If he wants to visit Africa, it’s fine. If he doesn’t want, it doesn’t matter.”

Trump has not named an assistant secretary of state to oversee the continent, nor an ambassador to key countries like South Africa. And Africa got a mere seven paragraphs on the very last pages of Trump’s National Security Strategy.

That lack of attention has left room for other countries such as China to step up their influence.

With its offers of concessional loans that help finance the ambitious infrastructure projects of some African governments, China’s footprint is widening. And African leaders like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni have said they would rather do business with a partner who does not lecture them about good governance and respecting human rights, giving China the thumbs-up.

In Djibouti, China’s development of its first overseas military base just a few miles from the U.S. base has illustrated the broader competition between the U.S. and China playing out across the continent.

Even as some argue that the Trump administration’s focus on Africa is notable in counterterror efforts if not in other issues, some Africans say they have given up on the U.S. president.

“Africans have nothing to take Trump seriously,” said Befekadu Hailu, a prominent Ethiopian blogger. “He already proved himself ethno-centrist and exclusivist, no friend to Africa.”

*Fox News/AP

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Zimbabwe crowns first ‘Miss Albino’ in bid to tackle stigma
March 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
Miss Albinism Zimbabwe 2018 winner Sithembiso Mutukura poses for a picture with her crown after a beauty contest featuring people with albinism in Harare, Zimbabwe, on March 16, 2018. (Photo: Aaron Ufumeli, EPA)

Miss Albinism Zimbabwe 2018 winner Sithembiso Mutukura poses for a picture with her crown after a beauty contest featuring people with albinism in Harare, Zimbabwe, on March 16, 2018.
(Photo: Aaron Ufumeli, EPA)

Sithembiso Mutukura beat 12 other contestants to claim the crown at Zimbabwe’s first-ever Miss Albinism beauty contest — an achievement she hopes will inspire others living with the rare disorder.

“We must continue to advocate for our rights and I hope my win will empower the girl child,” the 22-year-old social work student said.

“I have gone through a lot, but I want people living with albinism to be brave and persevere in life.”

During the event in Harare on Friday night, the contestants had to respond to questions on stage and model a range of gowns and traditional African robes. Mutukura was awarded $85 in prize money after being named the winner.

Pageant organizer Brenda Mudzimu said a lack of funds had made it difficult to get the initiative off the ground. In the end, the contest only attracted one sponsor, but Mudzimu says she hopes to one day make the event international.

“This will be an annual event which will later be advanced to Miss Albinism Africa and Miss Albinism World because we want to reach all corners of the world,” she said.

In many African countries, people with albinism routinely face discrimination and persecution because of the way they look. The genetic disorder prevents skin cells from producing melanin , resulting in abnormal pigmentation of the skin, hair, and eyes. People with the condition also suffer from vision problems and are susceptible to skin cancer.

“The pageant aims to instill confidence in girls living with albinism in Zimbabwe as well as reduce the stigma,” Mudzimu said.

Tapuwa Muchemwa, a Zimbabwean government representative who was the guest of honor at the pageant, said the country’s leaders “strongly advocate that people with albinism deserve their right to life and security and to be protected as well as the right not to be subjected to torture and ill-treatment.”

The rate of albinism in Africa is much higher than in other parts of the world. Communities in some countries believe albinism can bring magical powers, wealth and good fortune — a superstition that has led to attackers kidnapping and murdering albinos to sell their body parts to witch doctors on the black market.

According to the United Nations, there have been over 600 attacks on people with albinism documented in 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade. Many more cases are thought to go unreported.

*USA Today/DW.com

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UNAIDS Regional Director now President/CEO of ARDN
March 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Hassan Zaggi*

Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Senior Adviser to the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Djibril Diallo,

Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Senior Adviser to the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Djibril Diallo,

The Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Senior Adviser to the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Djibril Diallo, has been appointed as the President and Chief Executive Officer of African Renaissance and Diaspora Network, Inc. (ARDN). The appointment takes effect from March 25, 2018.

Dr. Diallo has held several management positions with the United Nations (UN) for more than three decades

ARDN is an internationally operating NGO headquartered in New York, with the status of a United States 501(c)(3) public charity.

ARDN’s mission, according to findings, is to accelerate the attainment of the African renaissance by advocating for and supporting UN programs, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Reacting to the appointment of Dr. Diallo, the UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, promised to continue to work closely with him to enable him succeed in his new task.

“We look forward to continued close collaboration between UNAIDS and ARDN with Djibril in the lead,” Michel Sidibé said in a message to all UNAIDS staff.

According findings by The AUTHORITY, Dr Diallo in his capacity as the chief executive officer of ARDN, will lead the organization’s “Pathway to Solutions” initiative, which aims to popularize the UN SDGs and to also increase public understanding of the role and functions of the UN.

On his part, Constance B. Newman, a Senior Fellow of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, disclosed that after over 9 months of extensive consultations, the “A Pathway to Solutions” strategic plan was presented to the UN Deputy-Secretary-General on 19 December 2017, at a coordination meeting held at the UN headquarters.

Newman further noted that: “Dr. Diallo’s expertise in international relations, diplomacy and human development will be critical at a time when the international community is pursuing, in tandem, the SDGs, the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), and the African Union Agenda 2063.

“We are confident that under his leadership, ARDN will be well-poised to contribute to the world we want – one defined by peace, justice, freedom, respect, social progress, equal rights and human dignity, tolerance, solidarity and sustainability – starting with Africa and the African diaspora.”

Speaking on his appointment, Dr. Diallo said that he was deeply humbled by the trust and confidence placed in him.

“I’m deeply humbled by the trust and confidence that has been placed in me. I’m excited to see what I can do in this new capacity to advance the United Nations’ hope and vision of a better world.

“When we talk about Africa and the diaspora, we’re ultimately talking about the entire world. ARDN is built on the fundamental principle that we are stronger together.

“Today, more than ever, it’s important that we remember and reflect on this. This planet earth is the only home we have, and we are one human family,” Dr Diallo further noted.

With over 35 years of experience at the UN, Dr. Diallo’s work for peace, sustainable development and protecting the most vulnerable has been recognized by numerous national and international organizations.

A steadfast supporter of youth, Dr. Diallo initiated the first-ever UN Youth Leadership Summit in 2006, bringing together youth leaders from 192 countries, with a vision toward gender parity in participation. He speaks twelve languages.

*Authority NIG

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2026 World Cup: Morocco promise ‘compact’ tournament after presenting bid book
March 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
Football fans celebrated in the streets in November after Morocco qualified for its first World Cup since 1998

Football fans celebrated in the streets in November after Morocco qualified for its first World Cup since 1998

Morocco have promised a “compact” tournament if they are named the host nation for the 2026 World Cup.

The North African nation presented its bid book to Fifa on Friday and is the only rival to a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States.

All the host cities are within a 550km radius (342 miles) of Casablanca and a maximum 75 minutes flight time apart.

A ‘Legacy Modular Stadium’ concept also means that some of the stadia can be downscaled after the tournament.

The 2026 World Cup will be expanded to feature 48 nations, at least 60% of which will be located within three hours of Morocco’s time zone, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), making the bid more attractive to the European audience and sponsors.

This is Morocco’s fifth attempt to host the World Cup after making bids for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 finals. The host for the 2026 tournament will be decided in Russia on 13 June.

*BBC

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Standard Chartered Bank Launches its First-Ever Digital Bank in Africa
March 17, 2018 | 0 Comments
Côte d’Ivoire marks the pilot launch of the digital bank
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 16, 2018/ — Standard Chartered Bank (www.SC.com) today announced the official launch of its digital bank in Côte d’Ivoire. This marks the Bank’s first digital bank in Africa and the first-of-its-kind to open in Côte d’Ivoire.

Mr. Bruno Nabagné KONE, Minister of Information technologies and communication of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, was the guest of honour at the official launch event. The event was attended by dignitaries, business leaders, clients and senior management, as well as sporting legend and Ivorian icon, Didier Drogba. As the Bank’s Digital Ambassador, Drogba shared his experience on the ease of opening an account using his mobile phone. He is the first person in Côte d’Ivoire to open a digital account at the Bank.

Commenting on the launch, Sunil Kaushal, Regional CEO, Africa and Middle East said: “We are pleased to launch our first digital bank in Africa with the support of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire. This is a key milestone on our digital journey as a Bank and underlines our commitment to investing and growing in the market. We have been steadily investing in expanding our footprint in Africa over the years, and this will continue to be a priority moving forward. Digitising Africa remains at the heart of our business strategy for the region, and we look to implement our Côte d’Ivoire model across other markets in the coming months.”

Commenting on the launch, Jaydeep Gupta, Regional Head of Retail Banking, Africa & Middle East, said: “Our new digital bank was developed with our clients in mind. We have taken into consideration the feedback received by our clients at each stage of the design process and have incorporated innovative technology to allow them to execute all banking activities from a mobile device. This includes 70 banking services through the app.”

“In addition, for the first time, the client onboarding journey has been digitised and in under 15 minutes a client can open a new account through the app. What has also been introduced is the ability for clients to track and trace a request submitted, which is a first for Standard Chartered. This is something we are very proud of.”

Isaac Foly, Chief Executive Officer, Côte d’Ivoire, said: “I’m pleased to have launched the Bank’s first digital retail bank in Côte d’Ivoire and proud to see the progress the country has made over the past decade. We have seen how digital transformation has contributed to economic development and will continue to do so, in line with the country’s National Development Plan. Our partnership with Didier Drogba has helped raise awareness, not only for our digital offering, but for enhancing financial literacy and improving accessibility to financial services across Côte d’Ivoire. Promoting the social and economic wellbeing of communities is a key component of our strategy to support sustainable development and our digital bank is certainly another step in the right direction.”

The bank’s digital services are available by downloading the Standard Chartered mobile application. New clients can execute all of their banking activities right from their mobile devices, starting by opening their bank account in less than 15 minutes. They can also provide all verification documents by uploading to the application and fully complete their onboarding process within minutes.

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Africa, Latest Theater in America’s Endless War
March 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Joe Penney*

Emin Ozmen/Magnum Photos Security forces passing near a refugee camp for Nigeriens displaced by Boko Haram attacks, Niger, 2017

Africa. Niger. Toumour. 2017. Nigerien security forces pass near Toumor refugee camp where 47 thousand Nigerian refugees and internally displaced Nigerians took shelter in southeastern Niger. According to the UN last report (August 2017) 2,3 million people displaced in Lake Chad Basin and 129 thousand Nigeriens internally displaced in Niger after Boko Haram attacks in the region since 2015.

Last October, four American soldiers, four Nigerien soldiers, and a Nigerien translator were killed in combat on Niger’s border with Mali while looking for the jihadi militant Doundoun Cheffou. For the most part, the fallout concentrated on President Trump’s mangled call with the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson. But the incident also called attention to a dangerous development at multiple levels of US politics. From a small village in rural Niger all the way to the White House, the US military has increasing influence over American foreign policy in Africa.

American Special Forces have been operating in Niger since at least 2013, when President Obama authorized forty troops to aid the French intervention against jihadist groups in Mali. At the time of the Tongo Tongo attack, four years later, there were 800 US soldiers in Niger. The American engagement there remains the second largest on the continent, after Djibouti. Special Forces are stationed around the country and carry out missions against jihadist targets and drug traffickers with their Nigerien counterparts. The US Air Force is building a $110 million drone base that is technically the property of the Nigerien military, although it is paid for and built by the Pentagon, and access for Nigerien soldiers is currently restricted.

A senior Nigerien military commander told me that the American military has an expansionist agenda in the country and constantly pushes for more missions on the ground. According to a Nigerien soldier who participated in the operation on October 4, the American soldiers involved in Tongo Tongo had ignored the advice of their Nigerien colleagues, putting their unit in danger. In Niger, buoyant, proactive, and well-resourced security institutions like the Department of Defense, Africa Command, and Special Operations Forces have led policy at the expense of a demoralized and downgraded State Department.

Defense cooperation between the US and Africa took off after George W. Bush established Africa Command in 2007. Since then, the Command, known as AFRICOM, has established a constellation of American forward-operating bases and runs training programs and exercises with nearly every country on the continent. Under Obama, the use of Special Forces expanded to the point where they are like “a command within a command” in Africa, according to Matthew T. Page, a former diplomat and current associate fellow with the Africa program at the British-based foreign policy institute Chatham House. Special Forces can fund and train foreign elite units under a legal precedent set by Section 1208 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005. By 2017, the 1208 authority budget has swelled to $100 million.

Niger is just one of the many countries around the world in which the US has trained elite military units in the name of counterterrorism. But as Lauren P. Blanchard, an analyst at the Congressional Research Service, told me, “The problem with training elite units is that those forces may be first and foremost in charge of regime protection versus civilian security.” American and host government interests align when jihadist groups are the security priority, but if a government feels that its power is more threatened by democratic protesters, or members of an opposition party, it often employs its special forces in ways the Americans did not envision in their training programs.

For example, the US trained Mali’s elite parachute regiment, known as the red berets, for years in order to fight the growing terrorism problem in the country’s northern regions. Jihadist veterans from Algeria’s civil war had established themselves there throughout the early 2000s, and recruited in the desert areas. But in 2012, lower-ranking soldiers carried out a coup d’état after soldiers in the Kati military camp briefly detained the defense minister, who was visiting them to quell concern over conditions of their colleagues fighting in the north. The soldiers then seized munitions and took control of the presidential palace. The red berets were suddenly out of power, and they launched a counter-coup that failed. In the ensuing violence, almost two dozen red berets were killed. “It was a presidential protection unit and, at the end of the day, [the American training] didn’t professionalize that unit,” said Page. “When this coup attempt happened, half the regiment turned its guns on the other half, killed them and buried them in a mass grave.” In the chaos that followed, jihadist militants took control of the north of the country.

In Burkina Faso, the US worked closely with the Régiment de Sécurité Présidentielle, the feared presidential guard whose chief, Gilbert Diendéré, was also the country’s top intelligence officer. When popular protests forced his boss, former President Blaise Compaoré, to flee the country aboard a French military helicopter in 2014, the government that was then elected began investigating Diendéré and his unit for killing protesters. Diendéré and his soldiers responded by launching a coup, which was eventually put down peacefully by the rest of the military.

A US Army News Service article points to a dilemma faced by soldiers in northern Cameroon, who are stationed there to aid Cameroon’s fight against the militant group Boko Haram. The American soldiers are carrying out a diplomatic role that is not normally within their purview. “With no State Department personnel stationed in the area, soldiers are often placed into a warrior-diplomat role, representing the American government wherever they go.” But even AFRICOM seems worried by the mission creep that inevitably takes place when a solider becomes a “warrior-diplomat.” Posted by AFRICOM to its official website, the article notes that “any misconduct by a soldier could spark controversy and put the nascent relationship between both countries in jeopardy.”

In Cameroon, American Special Forces work closely with the Brigade d’intervention rapide, an elite, Israeli-trained unit that fights Boko Haram. Last year, Amnesty International found that on a small base in Salak, near the border of Nigeria that the American soldiers shared with the B.I.R., at least sixty people “were subjected to water torture, beaten with electric cables and boards, or tied and suspended with ropes, among other abuses.” Some of the B.I.R. soldiers have now been deployed to put down an uprising in Cameroon’s Anglophone region on the border with Nigeria. Reports of human rights abuses in the area are rife, and the Internet has been shut down there for the past year.

Yet, little seems to weaken AFRICOM’s vision of its work as inherently good. “Within US policy circles, or within US training and assistance community, or within the Special Operations community, there are these beliefs in cardinal truths, that US training and engagement makes these units more professional, that we ‘have to do something’ to help them fight terrorism,” said Page, the Chatham House researcher. “This failure to appreciate the consequences of these day-to-day things that we’re doing and what long-term implications they may have… characterizes US foreign policy in the Sahel.”

There is little hope that the US will stop putting heavy emphasis on military solutions in Africa, or, for that matter, elsewhere in the world. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had no prior experience in diplomacy, is essentially charged with taking apart his own agency. State’s budget has been slashed, and Tillerson has overseen the exit of an entire echelon of senior diplomats from the department. In the meantime, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has secured ever more resources for the Defense Department.

Trump’s choice for Senior Africa Director on the National Security Council is Cyril Sartor, who was the Deputy Assistant Director of the CIA for Africa. There has not been a permanent Secretary of State for African Affairs since January 2017, but in December, the Defense Department named Alan Patterson its new Deputy Assistant Secretary for African AffairsPatterson is another CIA alum, who was previously in charge of clandestine operations in Africa. That former CIA officers occupy two of three leading positions for US engagement in Africa is dismaying. In earlier decades, the CIA was implicated in the assassination of Congo’s independence leader Patrice Lumumba, the coup d’état that overthrew Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, and the arrest by the apartheid South African government of Nelson Mandela. More recently, in 2011 the CIA armed rebels fighting Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. The agency’s history of disruptive actions is not a promising backdrop to the general contours of American strategy today on a continent of countries that the US president has labeled “shithole.”

The gap left by the US’s (and, to some extent, Europe’s) lack of economic and political engagement with Africa has led the continent to turn its attention elsewhere for trade and investment. “Essentially, the entire non-military agenda in Africa of Africa’s outside partners has been ceded to China,” said Columbia professor Howard French, author of China’s Second Continent, a study of Chinese involvement in Africa. The lack of engagement is to the detriment of both Africa and the US, he argued.

Abou Tarka, a brigadier general in Niger’s military whose brother-in-law was recently named chief of staff of the country’s armed forces, told me that Niger won’t end up like Yemen, where the US has killed at least 103 civilians, because the relationship between the country’s government and the American military is strong. “The situations are different,” Tarka said. “In Yemen, Americans are belligerent; they don’t cooperate with the government.” A top Nigerien military commander, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the press, told me that he doesn’t believe the drones will make mistakes because they are only authorized for use in defensive situations.

But this is the same authorization that the US employs elsewhere for manifestly offensive operations. Jennifer Gibson, a lawyer who researches American drone strikes for the nonprofit group Reprieve, explained: “We’ve seen this malleable definition before, most recently in Yemen and Pakistan, where a program that started as ‘defensive’ wound up striking people simply because their behavior ‘looked’ suspicious. Hundreds of innocent men, women and children were killed as a result.”

I asked a Nigerien civilian who works on the drone base what the forces there think about their mission. “The American soldiers themselves don’t know why they’re here,” she said, but the local population is anxious about whether the US will make the same mistakes in West Africa as they have elsewhere in the world. “The Americans are on a balance,” she said. “It’s up to them as to which way they will tip the scale.”

Trump was elected on a platform that pledged to break with past US interventionism, arguing “we cannot commit American troops to battle without a real and tangible objective.” But the latest iteration of the endless global “war on terror”—this time, as a war in Africa with little civilian oversight, dangerous consequences, and ballooning budgets—undermines that resolve. And while America is making war in Africa and military engagement morphs into a proxy for foreign policy run by the Pentagon, China is doing business.


*Source NYR Daily .Reporting for this article was facilitated by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

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Israel court suspends plan to deport African migrants
March 16, 2018 | 0 Comments
People from Eritrea and Sudan make up a significant number of migrants in Israel

People from Eritrea and Sudan make up a significant number of migrants in Israel

Israel’s supreme court has suspended a controversial government plan to deport tens of thousands of African migrants who entered the country illegally.

It gave the state until 26 March to provide more information on the plan.

In January, the migrants – mostly from Eritrea and Sudan – were offered $3,500 (£2,510) and a plane ticket to leave Israel voluntarily by the end of March.

Otherwise, they faced detention and subsequent expulsion. The UN refugee agency criticised the plan.

The Israeli court issued its ruling on Thursday, following a legal challenge by a group of migrants from Eritrea and Sudan.

The government now cannot deport African migrants until the court receives additional information.

Israeli authorities say there are currently more than 40,000 African migrants in Israel, describing them as “infiltrators”.

Most of them entered from Egypt several years ago, before a new fence was built along the desert border. This has almost ended illegal crossings.

Only single young men are affected by the government plan.

It exempts children, women, parents of dependent minors and victims of slavery and human trafficking.

The authorities have said the migrants’ return will be humane and “voluntary”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that an unchecked influx of African migrants could threaten Israel’s Jewish character.

*BBC

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Egyptian ministry of civil aviation to host aviation Africa summit 2018
March 14, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The Egyptian ministry of Civial Aviation will host the third edition of the Aviation Africa 2018 exhibition and summit covering the full aviation and aerospace spectrum across the African continent in Cairo on April 17 to 18 2018, according to the organisers.

It is reported that the summit will be hosted under the theme ‘Securing Strategy for Africa’s Success.’It is also added that the two-day summit will focus on the key drivers to grow business and opportunities across Africa in the aviation sector. Also, alongside the summit will be an exhibition area featuring more than 70 exhibitors.

Topics at the summit will include understanding the framework for aviation across Africa, understanding the threat and the solutions both in the cyber world and the real one,profit, competition, security or passengers? What keeps CEOs awake at night? airline business – challenging the status quo: Bringing low cost,regional and charter operations and new models to market and surviving surviving accidents and incidents with reputations intact, developing infrastructure and support for Africa’s aviation future on the ground and in the air and on human capital, developing and inspiring future generations to solve people shortage.

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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS APPOINTS MARLENE SANAU AS NEW VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES, NORTH AMERICA
March 14, 2018 | 0 Comments
Marlene Sanau

Marlene Sanau

Fort Lauderdale, FL (March 13, 2018) – South African Airways (SAA), Africa’s most awarded airline, has announced the appointment of Marlene Sanau as the new vice president of sales, North America, based at the airline’s North America Regional Office in Fort Lauderdale.

In this role, she will be responsible for implementing sales strategies to strengthen and grow business relationships with SAA’s travel trade partners, online travel agency distribution channels, corporate customers, and key tourism industry organizations. She will also oversee SAA’s team of sales development directors located throughout North America, along with the Business Development and Inside Sales Departments in Fort Lauderdale.

Marlene joins the South African Airwaysleadership team in North America with an extensive international airline background having spent over 25 years with Lufthansa German Airlines serving in several sales and  operational management positions in the U.S., Germany, Australia, and South Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Central Michigan University.

“We are delighted to have Marlene join South African Airways and lead our sales team with her in-depth knowledge of the airline industry and revenue development strategies,” said Todd Neuman, executive vice president – North America for South  African Airways. “Marlene brings a wealth of experience that will be a tremendous benefit to SAA
and our trade partners. She possesses the skills and expertise that will be critical to expanding and enhancing SAA’s presence in the very competitive North America to Africa market.”

South African Airways offers the most daily flights from the U.S. to South Africa with daily nonstop service from New York-JFK Airport and daily nonstop service from Washington, DC-Dulles Airport to Accra, Ghana or Dakar, Senegal, with continuing service to Johannesburg. our Johannesburg hub, SAA links the world to over 75 destinations across the African continent and Africa’s Indian Ocean islands. Onboard, SAA provides an in-flight experience designed for pure comfort for long-haul travel. Our customers enjoy a spacious Economy Class cabin, gourmet cuisine and a selection of complimentary spirits and award-winning South African wines and generous checked baggage allowance. Also included are individual audio /visual entertainment systems that deliver an extensive menu of first-run movies, music choices,and games.

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CAN THE BLEAK FUTURE OF AFRICA’S SMALLHOLDER FARMERS BE MADE BRIGHT?
March 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Moses Hategeka*

“Our Son, our farms soil fertility have for years been drastically declining and so is our farms yields and thus we are poor and food insecure and unable to feed our families well. We have no collateral to access credit to enable us, purchase fertilizers, inputs, and agricultural equipment like walking tractors for use in tilling our lands. As you can see, most of us are elderly and less energetic and yet the traditional tools we currently use requires energetic and young people, who unfortunately have all run to cities in search of better income generating jobs/businesses” Says, a group of women smallholder farmers, in Karonga district, Malawi, during, our practical on farm training workshop that included training farmers in Karonga district in modern tilling, planting, and fertilizer application techniques.

When asked what makes it difficult for them to access credit, Their Leader responded that, “The patriarch setup of our society and cultural norms here, are too discriminative, as they don’t allow women to own land. She went on to say that: Women here don’t own the lands on which they farm and therefore cannot present land a collateral to seek credit from banks”.

The average age of smallholder farmers in Africa is 65 implying that the smallholder farming is dominated by aging, who in most cases, are traditionally oriented and finds it hard to easily grasp and adopt modern farming techniques.

Agricultural policy makers in Africa, must begin addressing questions such as’, Why is it that agricultural sector in Africa is not attractive to the youth and what can be done to make farming enjoyable and profitable to the youth?

This bleak situation is prevailing in all African countries and needs to be resolved, if African countries are to attain rural transformation and sustainable development that is all inclusive factoring in the fact that, agriculture in Africa is dominated by smallholder farmers.

Smallholder farmers in Africa, needs money to acquire suitable new agricultural technologies to boost their farm yields but continues to face huge dilemma, in accessing agricultural credit financing due to lack of collateral and the matter is made worse by traditional norms in some communities, where land is communally owned and one cannot even dare to claim ownership over it and cannot therefore present it anywhere to seek agricultural financing loan.

But let us ask ourselves a question. Why is it that African countries have failed and are still failing to develop an agricultural financing model to replace land as collateral and what needs to be done?

I have extensively traveled in rural communities of several African countries, especially, Eastern, Southern and Western African countries, training smallholder farmers, in new evolving methods of profitable farming, and practically witnessed, the absence of agricultural technologies, knowledge transfer, and lack of access to credit, predicaments which the smallholder farmers are facing. This scenario is making it hard for them to jump out of food insecurity and poverty trap.

What then needs to be done? African governments together with banking institutions operating in African countries, must develop a financing model, that replaces land as collateral, which would be like in form of the governments depositing an evolving agricultural development fund, in selected banking institutions, for disbursement on an interest free basis, to mapped out smallholder farmers, who on after harvesting and selling their produce, must return back, the interest free borrowed funds, to these selected banks, so that the other smallholder farmers can be covered in an evolving scheme.

This must be done hand in hand, with governments organizing smallholder farmers, into cooperatives and giving them a production enhancement morale, initially, for example, by constructing for them postharvest storage and small scale value addition facilities. This will make them not only to avoid postharvest losses, but to also be in better position, to negotiate for better prices for their produce.

African governments, must also seriously persuade global leading manufacturers of agricultural equipment like AGCO, John Deere CLAAS, among others, to massively begin producing products for smallholder farmers too, and not only for large scale farmers, who for decades have been and still are their main target market. African smallholder farmers need suitable equipment such as, A70-100 PS tractors and not A600 PS tractors.

One year back, while on, a practical field learning tour of, CLAAS factory, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of Agricultural machinery, with corporate headquarters in Harsewinkel, Westphalia, Germany, with production facilities worldwide, in countries such as, Hungary, Nebraska, USA, Southern Russia, India, and China, I only witnessed  monster agricultural machinery, suitable only for very large scale farming.

However the good news is that, these global agricultural equipment manufacturing brands, have all set foot in African countries, and have appreciated the need to start producing products for smallholder farmers too, and some are in fact, producing walking tractors, which a few small scale farmers are finding it easy in using, in boosting their production. These walking tractors, are still out of reach, for millions of smallholder farmers in Africa, and the onus, is therefore on African governments to develop a funding model that will enable their smallholders farmers to get these much needed suitable equipment.

In sum, the skyrocketing Africa’ population, which is expected to double from current 1.2 to 2.4 billion people by 2050, necessitates, that, the continent, must devise food production strategies, that will, rapidly result into massive production of food, on sustainable basis, in the next 20 years, failure of which, will leave a greater percentage of its people trapped in food insecurity and poverty scenario, with resultant impact of widened unrest, wars, and crime increase, and to avert such catastrophes, African government must do, whatever it takes, to help its smallholders farmers access suitable equipment and inputs, to boost their farm yields.

*Moses Hategeka, is a Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst and Writer.

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BMCE Bank of Africa launches its 4th edition of the African Entrepreneurship Award (AEA) supporting innovative entrepreneurs in Africa
March 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
The African Entrepreneurship Award will fund $1 million USD to African entrepreneurs with scalable and sustainable businesses in 2 new categories: Sports and Innovation
CASABLANCA, Morocco, March 12, 2018/ — BMCE Bank of Africa is proud to announce the March 1st opening of the 4th edition of the African Entrepreneurship Award (www.African-Award.com).

The Award was announced by President Othman Benjelloun in 2014 at the Marrakech Global Entrepreneurship Summit and illustrates BMCE Bank of Africa’s ambition to encourage entrepreneurship across borders in Africa by rewarding talent and technology.

This initiative aims to support talented entrepreneurs from Africa or Africans in the diaspora whose ideas create jobs and improve lives on the continent. The competition remains open for entries until April 30th.

During the past 3 years the Award was dedicated to projects in Education, Environment, and Uncharted categories. Over 12,000 entrepreneurs applied from 132 countries. Mentors selected 112 Finalists and the Presidential Jury selected 33 winners to receive funding to launch or scale their business.

Volunteer mentors from all over the world support entrepreneurs with free, online business advice. These mentors are entrepreneurs, academics, and leaders from all continents who assist the applicants throughout each stage of the contest.

This year, the African Entrepreneurship Award will fund $1 million USD to African entrepreneurs with scalable and sustainable businesses in 2 new categories: Sports and Innovation.

The first round is open to all entrepreneurs to apply, from every country in Africa. Rounds two and three question entrepreneurs on the scalability and sustainability of their idea. Applicants are asked to support their project with an uploaded video or document.  At the end of the journey, Finalists are flown in to Morocco for a Boot Camp, before they pitch in front of the Presidential Jury for their chance at $ 1 million.

BMCE Bank of Africa operates in nearly 20 countries over the continent. With this fourth edition of the AEA, BMCE Bank of Africa reasserts its commitment to support and encourage young entrepreneurs in their efforts to create jobs and improve lives in Africa.

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Ex-Fifa chief Blatter expresses support for Morocco World Cup bid
March 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter says his 'heart still beats for Africa'

Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter says his ‘heart still beats for Africa’

Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter believes Morocco should stage the 2026 World Cup because of the logistical challenges thrown up by the joint bid from Canada/Mexico/United States.

Blatter told reporters this week that joint bids are a “nightmare”.

“If Morocco is able to organise this World Cup with 48 teams, then it must be chosen,” said 82-year-old Blatter.

“After the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, we (concluded) that co-organisation was a nightmare,” he said.

“We decided that as long as we had a single nomination, it would be privileged.”

There has never been a co-hosted World Cup since, with Germany, South Africa and Brazil all staging by themselves in 2006, 2010 and 2014 respectively.

Under the proposed plans of the triple bid, the United States would host 60 of the 80 matches, with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 games each.

The United States will stage all knock-out games from the quarter-finals onwards.

Morocco, meanwhile, is set to emphasise its compact nature and small travelling distances when it hands over its formal bid book later this month.

Both Morocco and the United States/Canada/Mexico must submit their 2026 World Cup bid books by 16 March.

The 2026 finals will be the first to feature 48 teams, 16 more than the tally that will contest both this year’s tournament in Russia and the 2022 event in Qatar.

The North African nation is making a fifth bid to host the World Cup, having failed to land the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions.

Since none of the bidding nations are eligible to vote, Morocco will need to win 104 votes when the decision on who will host the 2026 finals is made in Russia on 13 June.

Earlier this week, the joint Canada-Mexico-US bid announced a reshuffle of its leadership, emphasising diversity as its leaders seek to attract voters.

The leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico federations will now serve as co-chairs of the bid, replacing former United States Soccer Federation chief Sunil Gulati, who steps down.

United 2026 said the changes reflect the “unity” at the highest levels of the joint bid, while some have seen the change in leadership as a strategic move to shift the perception of the bid as being a largely American-driven enterprise.

Blatter, who led Fifa for 17 years before being barred for ethics violations (that he is contesting) in 2015, was a central figure in organising the rotation system that eventually took the World Cup to Africa for the first time in 2010.

His extensive reign was ended when he was barred for ethics violations amid the biggest corruption scandal that world football’s governing body had ever seen.

The Swiss still hopes that Fifa’s ethics committee will reconsider his case and lift his six-year ban from the sport.

 *BBC
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Mauritius President Gurib-Fakim to resign over financial scandal
March 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim became Mauritius's first elected female President in 2015

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim became Mauritius’s first elected female President in 2015

Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, is to quit over a financial row.

She has been accused of using a bank card provided by a charity to make personal purchases worth tens of thousands of dollars.

She is to step down after ceremonies to mark the 50th anniversary of the island’s independence next week.

Denying wrongdoing, she said she had refunded all the money, Reuters news agency reports.

Ms Gurib-Fakim is a renowned scientist and in 2015 became the first woman to be appointed to the ceremonial position of president of Mauritius.

“The president of the republic told me that she would resign from office and we agreed on the date of her departure,” Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth told reporters without giving the chosen date.

“The interest of the country comes first, and I am proud of Mauritius’s image as a model of living democracy in the world.”

He added it would take place before parliament returned at the end of the month.

The Mauritian daily L’Express published bank documents purporting to show Ms Gurib-Fakim had used a credit card given to her by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in London to buy thousands of dollars worth of clothes, jewellery and other personal items.

According to the paper, the card was given to her as part of her work as an unpaid director for the charity.

One of the organisation’s directors is Angolan businessman Alvaro Sobrinho who, the paper says, secured a permit to found an investment bank in Mauritius, prompting allegations of favouritism.

The BBC has approached the PEI for comment.

*BBC

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How to build Wakanda: Lessons for African leaders from ‘Black Panther’
March 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Taa Wongbe*

The king of Wakanda Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong'o.

The king of Wakanda Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o.

As “Black Panther” nears a billion in box office worldwide, many Africans have flocked to theaters, sporting traditional African attires with pride to watch their brothers and sisters portrayed as superheroes, a narrative that has been lacking in popular culture.

With the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects reporting that three of the ten fastest growing economies are in Africa, “Black Panther” provides a vision of what African countries could look like if some things are done right.
The movie is filled with many lessons that African leaders and government officials can take to promote sustainable economic growth, peace and prosperity to build their Wakanda. Here are five:
Empower and elevate women, and ensure you surround yourself with them.
There is no escaping the power of women in “Black Panther.” The newly crowned Prince T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, surrounds himself with powerful women, who he leaned on for guidance, wisdom and strength.
Africa has seen many women leaders — Winnie MandelaMiriam MakebaWangari Maathaiformer President Joyce BandaNgozi Okonjo Iweala and my own former President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf— who have played critical roles in shaping their countries’ destiny.
When women are empowered, they promote the well-being of society by championing health, education and peace. To build Wakanda, African leaders must put more women in positions of leadership.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education is key.
For me, Princess Shuri was the coolest and most inspiring character in the movie; no one could resist her intellect. She reinforced the power of STEM education. Because of the film’s success, Disney donated $1 Million for STEM education for young boys and girls in the US.
Education can change everything, and technology has the power to be the great equalizer. Because of this, African leaders should focus on STEM at an early age so Africa does not fall behind in the technology sector. Leading this charge for STEM education in Africa is Rwanda.
The country has a strategic plan to transform its economy by 2020 and STEM education is at the nexus. Investing in STEM education will not only confront the rampant unemployment challenges we have, but it will also address the gaps in human resources in Africa to build infrastructure, manage natural resources, and control diseases.
African leaders must take immediate steps to ensure STEM is included in national curricula.
Use natural resources to develop your country, and keep them in the people’s hands for today and tomorrow.
We have heard horror stories about the resource curse in Africa, but in Wakanda, Prince T’Challa and his late father fought to protect their natural resources. The Wakandans added value by developing technologies and did not export their resources hastily.
Few countries in Africa have avoided the curse, but one success story is Botswana, one of the world’s largest producersof diamonds. The nation has pursued economic diversification and has developed sound fiscal policies to regulate diamond wealth and government spending.
Botswana also invested diamond revenues for future generations using a sovereign wealth fund called the Pula Fund. Botswana is paving the way for their youth to become educated and empowered, and their society to prosper. Other nations must learn from this, it’s the Wakanda way.
Respect cultures and traditions while modernizing and allow them to coexist with the basic tenets of democracy.
Democracy is essential for every country to aspire for. But it comes in many forms — it is not a one size fits all system. In Wakanda, culture and traditions were important.
The Wakandans followed them while evolving their country. They did not simply accept a new form of government because it worked for other societies. Africa has seen charismatic leaders elected democratically and celebrated by the West only for those leaders to change the rules to fit them.
Democracy can be manipulated. We saw that recently in Rwanda, and in Uganda for years. Wakanda seems to embrace and exhibit some of the basic tenets of democracy while respecting their culture and tradition. For example, while there were no elections, certain citizens could challenge the king to win the throne.
This was their form of election and it was valued and respected. While we modernize and develop our society, we should remember the positive traditions and cultures that got us here and preserve them as we modernize. This is a firm lesson for African leaders.
Embrace the natural habitat of the land while developing and building up.
In Wakandan architecture, we saw red dirt and market places while alongside super railways and skyscrapers.
Many roads in Africa are built with asphalt which is highly expensive and difficult to procure. Wakandans built using the natural habitat, and fortunately, this is possible in Africa. For example, the Nubian Vault technique has been used since the ancient kingdom of Nubia, located in the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan. Environmentalists laud this as environmentally friendly and sustainable, and can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
African leaders must support architectural innovation with their natural habitat.
“Black Panther” inspired me to imagine what Africa could be if our leaders take some bold and collective actions.
It also inspired me that we should all be a part of this Wakanda-like development journey by developing leaders, specifically in the public service, that will passionately serve their people, protect their natural resources, embrace innovation and preserve cultures and traditions that are worth preserving.
*Source CNN.Taa is a Liberian Entrepreneur, Advocate and Philanthropist and the founder and CEO of the Khana Group, a leading social impact research and consulting firm in Africa. Taa has consulted with McKinsey, Deloitte and other consulting firms and was recently awarded the Business Leadership Excellence Award and inducted into the African Leadership Magazine’s CEO Hall of Fame.
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South Sudan Media Authority Suspends UN Radio Station
March 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

FILE (VOA)- Radio Miraya host Lubna Lasu broadcasts the Betna Weekend Edition program in the southern Sudanese city of Juba, April 10, 2010.

FILE (VOA)- Radio Miraya host Lubna Lasu broadcasts the Betna Weekend Edition program in the southern Sudanese city of Juba, April 10, 2010.

Juba – South Sudan’s media authority has suspended the UN – run known as Radio Miraya and ordered its frequency to be switched off in the country, citing failure to comply with directives to register in accordance with the provision of the media regulatory body.

This was announced in the press conference on Friday by Media Authority, asked the National Communication Authority to withdraw the frequency 101FM assigned to the UN radio station for non-compliance with conditions set for acquiring licenses for operation in the country.

The media regulatory body established by the government said the popular radio station should stop broadcasting with effect from today (Friday, March 9, 2018).

The media regulator accuses the UN- backed radio of non-compliance and refusing to be regulated under the country’s media laws.

Mr. Elijah Alier, managing director of the South Sudan Media Authority told a news conference that the radio station operated by the United Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS has failed to obtain a valid operation license.

Alier further says Radio Miyira journalists will not be allowed to cover stories until the suspension is lifted.

He denies criticism that the suspension of the radio station amounts to media censorship.

“This is to inform the public and media houses that the media authority has suspended the operation for persistent non-compliance and refusal to be regulated under the media laws in the Republic of South Sudan,” letter reads in part seen by Panafricanism.

According to the Media Authority’s suspension letter, the decision was taken following notifications starting on June 2017, September, 2017, November 2017 and February 2018.The management of Radio Miraya, the letter alleges has failed to respond in what authorities equate to violation and non-compliance with the media authority orders.

The suspension also came after the Country’s Information Minister and Government Spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, who then sanctioned by the UN, had been threatened to shut down the station, earlier saying he would not be afraid to close down the UN-owned radio station meant for peace building.

However, UNMISS spokesperson Francisca Mold says the management of Radio is till in talks with government and that UN – radio will continue to operate.

Since the conflict erupted in 2013, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the government lead by President Salva Kiir have not been good terms, government has several accused the UNMISS of supporting the country’s rebels lead by former first vice President Dr. Riek Machar.

According to a UN human rights report released last month, Press freedom in South Sudan has been affected by the ongoing conflict.

In July 2017, South Sudan’s authorities said blocked access to some websites such as Sudantribune,  Radio Tamazuj, Paanluel and others accusing them of “hostile” reporting.

In the aftermath of conflict, journalists in South Sudan were often complain of harassment and arbitrary detention by the security forces.

According to the Media Authority Act 2013, no one is allowed to provide broadcasting services in the country without valid license.

Moreover, the media body earlier this month, prevented a journalists who have not registered with them to cover a press conference held by the country’s Information Minister.

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Merck Foundation marks ‘International Women’s Day’ with the First Lady of Niger
March 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
Merck Foundation discusses their commitment to building healthcare capacity with the President of Niger
NIAMEY, Niger, March 8, 2018/ —

  • Merck Foundation, in partnership with the First Lady of Niger builds healthcare capacity in the country with special focus on Cancer, Diabetes and Infertility.
  • Merck Foundation appoints the first Lady of Niger, as an Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother.
  • Merck Foundation discusses their commitment to building healthcare capacity with the President of Niger.
Merck Foundation appointed the First Lady of Niger H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou as an Ambassador of 'Merck More Than a Mother'

Merck Foundation appointed the First Lady of Niger H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou as an Ambassador of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’

Merck (www.Merck.com) launched their Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com) in Niger in partnership with the First Lady of Niger and their Ministry of Health (www.NigerStateMoH.org). During the launch event Merck Foundation, a non-profit organization and a subsidiary of Merck KGaA Germany, marked ‘International women’s Day’ in Niger to empower infertile women through “Merck More Than a Mother” campaign.

During the event, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees emphasized, “We are very proud to launch our Merck Foundation in partnership with the First Lady of Niger and Ministry of Health to build healthcare capacity, improve access to Cancer and Diabetes care and to empower infertile women in the country.”

Dr. Rasha Kelej CEO of Merck Foundation explained, “We are very proud to appoint H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou, the First Lady of The Republic of Niger, as an ambassador of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign, to work closely with Merck Foundation in defining interventions to break the stigma around childless women across the country. Through our partnership, we will transform the lives of those unprivileged women, women who suffered all their lives from the Infertility stigma.”

L-R) Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, Her Excellency, the First Lady of Niger, H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou and Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation

L-R) Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, Her Excellency, the First Lady of Niger, H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou and Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation

Her Excellency, the First Lady of Niger, H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou emphasized, “I truly value our partnership with Merck Foundation. I firmly believe that building professional capacity is a good strategy to help our government to improve access to healthcare in our country. I will also work closely with Merck foundation to break the stigma around infertility at all levels by raising awareness, training the skills of local experts and by supporting childless women in starting their small businesses.”

She added “Currently, we don’t have any oncologist or fertility specialists in Niger, we even do not have cancer care facility and fertility clinic in the country. Merck Foundation makes history in the Niger, through its ‘Merck Oncology Fellowship Program’ and ‘Merck More Than a Mother’. They will provide training to the first oncologists and fertility specialists for Niger.

L-R) Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees discussed long-term commitment to healthcare capacity building with the President of Niger H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou

L-R) Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees discussed long-term commitment to healthcare capacity building with the President of Niger H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou

“As per the information received from the Ministry of Health, for 22 Million population, Niger has only six oncologists, one hematologist, and 12 radiotherapists. This gap is of course not enough to give proper access to quality and equitable cancer care across the country. We hope we can significantly increase the number of oncologists in the next three years.” Rasha Kelej added.

Merck foundation is committed to providing one-year to two-years Oncology Fellowship Programs and Clinical Fertility Management Training to four candidates from Niger in 2018 and is determined to provide training to more candidates in the future.

Merck Foundation met the President of Niger H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou to discuss and underscore our long-term commitment to healthcare capacity building, and empowering women and youth in Niger through our impactful programs; Merck Cancer Access Program and Merck More Than a Mother in partnership with the First Lady of Niger H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou

Merck Foundation met the President of Niger H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou to discuss and underscore our long-term commitment to healthcare capacity building, and empowering women and youth in Niger through our impactful programs; Merck Cancer Access Program and Merck More Than a Mother in partnership with the First Lady of Niger H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou

Moreover, Merck Foundation is committed to contributing toward advancing Diabetes Care in Niger, by providing online Diabetes Management Diploma in the French language, for medical postgraduates in Niger and other Francophone African countries, so that they can learn more about diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. The course is accredited by ‘Royal College of General Practitioners’ in the UK.

About Merck Foundation in Niger:
Merck Foundation is going to provide the oncology and clinical fertility training to the following healthcare professionals from Niger:

Oncology
1.    Dr. Mamadou Oumarou Ramatou- Adult medical oncology
2.    Dr. Mahamadou Aichatou- Paediatric Oncology
3.    Dr. Alhousseini Alhassane Laila- Radiation oncology
4.    Dr. Moussa Soffo Issa- Radiation technician

Clinical Fertility Management Training
1.    Dr. Abdoulaye Maiga
2.    Dr. Barkire Fatoumatou
3.    Dr. Lawali Chekarao Mamadou.

So far, candidates from Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Tanzania, Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Botswana, Liberia, Rwanda, Kenya, Chad, Niger, Guinea, Gambia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal have benefitted from Merck Foundation’s training programs in fertility or oncology fellowships. Merck Foundation aims to expand to more African and Asian countries soon.

(L-R) Hon. Dr. Idi Illiassou Mainassara, Minister of Public Health for Niger, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees and Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation discussing Merck Foundation's long-term commitment to building healthcare capacity in Niger

(L-R) Hon. Dr. Idi Illiassou Mainassara, Minister of Public Health for Niger, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees and Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation discussing Merck Foundation’s long-term commitment to building healthcare capacity in Niger

The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is a philanthropic organization that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. Please go to www.Merck-Foundation.com to read more and/or register online to interact and exchange experience with our registered members.
Merck Foundation is a subsidiary of Merck KGaA Germany

About Merck
Merck (www.Merck.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck generated sales of € 15.0 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials

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Africa a world leader in women business owners: Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs
March 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

Index shows Ghana has the highest percentage of women business owners worldwide. Uganda is third overall.

 Africa – 8 March 2018 – Following the release of the Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship (MIWE) today, it was revealed that 46.4 percent of businesses in Ghana are owned by women, making it one of the top performing African countries highlighted in the index.

The MIWE is a weighted index that helps to better understand and identify factors and conditions that are most conducive to closing the gender gap among business owners in any given economy. The three factors include Women’s Advancement Outcomes, Access to Knowledge and Financial Services, and Supporting Entrepreneurial Factors. The Index examined 57 different economies around the globe, including Botswana, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda; with Ghana, Nigeria and Malawi as new additions.

Nigeria and Ghana scored particularly well in terms of advancement outcomes: the women entrepreneurial activity rate was 100 percent, with overall scores in this regard coming in at 62.4 percent and 59.1 percent respectively. African countries also scored highly in women labour force participation – with Malawi at 100 percent, Ghana at 96.1 percent, and Ethiopia at 86.6 percent.

South Africa excelled in sharing knowledge assets with women and providing financial access, with a score of 84.3 percent– coming in 6th out of 57 countries. Botswana followed closely with a score of 73 percent.  Botswana and South Africa were the highest scoring African countries in the Index overall with scores of 66.5 percent and 64.2 percent respectively.

When compared to other African markets surveyed Botswana leads the charge with the highest rate of Supporting Entrepreneurial Conditions, at 68.1 percent, this is an increase of 2 percent from last year. Indicating that the country has positive Cultural Perceptions of Women Entrepreneurs and Quality of Governance. The continent scored highly in terms of women Financial Inclusion with South Africa at 98.7 percent, Ghana scoring 84.6 percent, and 77.1 percent in Ethiopia.

The Index results revealed that female entrepreneurs in developing countries are driven by grit and determination, along with a desire to provide for their families. The findings reinforce that women entrepreneurs are the backbone of economic growth and powerful engines of development and financial inclusion, especially in Africa.  The Index also showed an interesting contrast: women’s progress and advancement as entrepreneurs is not necessarily aligned to the pace of their own country’s economic growth and wealth. In fact, the highest rates of ownership are seen in developing economies where entrepreneurship is typically necessity-driven.

Women entrepreneurs in Africa and other developing markets have proven to be equally vibrant, resourceful and innovative in finding opportunities to improve their own lives as well as create a better future for their children.

“Botswana, Ghana and Uganda shine as examples of women’s determination to provide for themselves and their families and Africa excels at creating strong women entrepreneurs with the drive to succeed even in the face of financial, regulatory or technical constraints,” says Beatrice Cornacchia, Head of Marketing and Communications, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard.

An interesting outcome of the Index is that cultural perceptions of women entrepreneurs in Africa are predominantly positive – at 69.1 percent in Uganda and 67.2 percent in Nigeria, this is well above their Middle Eastern counterparts.

According to the Index, some women’s inclination towards business ownership may be undermined by limited access to education, financial and entrepreneurial opportunities. These are by no means only African – or developing – countries challenges, however. Women entrepreneurs even in developed nations face cultural and gender biases that restrict them from opening or expanding their own businesses.

These constraints are acting as barriers preventing women from starting businesses in the majority of the 57 countries surveyed. In New Zealand, the top ranked country overall for example, results revealed that society is less receptive towards female entrepreneurs because they are not perceived as having the same level of know-how as men. In Portugal, which ranked 6th on the Index with a score of 69.1 percent, women are not only constrained by a lack of cultural acceptance, but difficulties in getting bank loans, insurance, or trade finance. Even Botswana – which emerged as the top ranked African country on the Index at 14 with a score of 66.5 percent – has seen an increasing gender bias that acts as a barrier to women opening businesses.

This indicates that changes need to be implemented not just within society itself, but at economic, financial and political levels. “This requires collective action from public and private sector partners to implement initiatives that provide African women with the necessary education, training and mentorship to develop financial literacy to start and run successful and sustainable businesses,” Cornacchia concludes.

The full report is available here: https://newsroom.mastercard.com/mea/digital-press-kits/mastercard-index-of-women-entrepreneurs-2018

Methodology

The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs tracks female entrepreneurs’ ability to capitalize on opportunities granted through various supporting conditions within their local environments and is the weighted sum of three components: 1) Women’s Advancement Outcomes (degree of bias against women as workforce participants, political and business leaders, as well as the financial strength and entrepreneurial inclination of women), 2) Knowledge Assets and Financial Assets (degree of access women have to basic financial services, advanced knowledge assets, and support for small and medium enterprises), and 3) Supporting Entrepreneurial Conditions (overall perceptions on the ease on conducting business locally, quality of local governance, women’s perception of safety levels and cultural perception of women’s household financial influence).

The Index uses 12 indicators and 25 sub-indicators to look at how 57 economies across Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Latin America and Europe, representing 78.6 percent of the world’s female labour force, differ in terms of the level of the three components.

Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs – Top 10 markets with the strongest supporting conditions and opportunities for women to thrive as entrepreneurs

  1. New Zealand – 74.2
  2. Sweden – 71.3
  3. Canada – 70.9
  4. United States – 70.8
  5. Singapore – 69.2
  6. Portugal – 69.1
  7. Australia – 68.9
  8. Belgium – 68.7
  9. Philippines – 68.0
  10. United Kingdom – 67.9

Women business owners as a percentage of all business owners – Top 10 markets

  1. Ghana – 46.4%
  2. Russia – 34.6%
  3. Uganda – 33.8%
  4. New Zealand – 33.0%
  5. Australia – 32.1%
  6. Vietnam – 31.3%
  7. Poland – 30.3%
  8. Spain – 29.4%
  9. Romania -28.9%
  10. Portugal – 28.7%

 

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  Our global payments processing network connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.

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South Sudan Seeks Observer Status in Arab League
March 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

JUBA, South Sudan - File photo shows Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (L) and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir shaking hands at Kiir's presidential office in Juba in April 2013. (Kyodo)

JUBA, South Sudan – File photo shows Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (L) and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir shaking hands at Kiir’s presidential office in Juba in April 2013. (Kyodo)

Juba – South Sudan has formally applied observer status in 22-nation regional organization of the Arab League, reported the official Egyptian Middle East news agency (MENA) on Tuesday.

The League’s main goal is to draw closer the relations between member states and to safeguard sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.

South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Spokesperson, Amb Mawien Makol says the country have not applied for membership but to be observer in Arab League.

He argued that the decision for South Sudan to have observer status in the Arab bloc was to discuss important issues including waters of the Nile River and security, these issues need South Sudan to be present in Arab League.

The Country’s diplomat said his government haven’t submitted an officially application for membership in Arab League, but [government] was keen only in obtaining the observer status in the regional organization.

“We haven’t applied for a membership. We are not a full member. We would not pay fees to the League, so we are not required to commit to other things,” Amb. Mawien told Panafricanism.

He said South Sudanese ambassador to Cairo will be present when issues to do with South Sudan are discussed by the Arab League body.

MENA quoted report that South Sudan’s request to join the regional body would be referred to the Arab League Council which was scheduled to hold its 149th session this week at the level of the foreign ministers. If approved, South Sudan would be the 23rd member of the regional organization.

The Arab League’s current member states include: Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Syria (membership suspended), Tunisia, Oman, Lebanon, Qatar, the Comoros, Sudan, Palestine, Algeria, Mauritania and Libya.

Besides Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Comoros are the other East African states members of the League of Arab States.

The use of the Arabic language as an official language is a prerequisite to joining the Arab body.

This has been talked point for South Sudanese officials since the secession from Sudan in July 2011 to join Arab League States.

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Africa’s Year of Opportunity
March 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By CAROLINE KENDE-ROBB*

In many corners of the world, 2018 is shaping up to be yet another disappointing year, with inequality and poverty continuing to fuel anger and populism. While Africa will not be entirely immune from such developments, its inhabitants have at least eight good reasons – far more than most people elsewhere – to be optimistic.

GENEVA – We are still near the start of 2018, and already it feels like tension and disorder will be the year’s defining characteristics. From anti-immigration policies in the United States to flaring geopolitical hotspots in the Middle East and East Asia, disruption, upheaval, and uncertainty seem to be the order of the day.

But at least one metric offers reason for cautious optimism: economic growth. The International Monetary Fund estimatesthat global growth will reach 3.7% this year, up from 3.6% in 2017. As Christine Lagarde, the Fund’s managing director, put it in a speech in December, “The sun is shining through the clouds and helping most economies generate the strongest growth since the financial crisis.”

It was fitting that Lagarde made that observation in Addis Ababa, because it is in Africa where the rays of prosperity are shining brightest. In fact, I predict that 2018 will be a breakout year for many – though not all – African economies, owing to gains in eight key areas.

For starters, Africa is poised for a modest, if fragmented, growth recovery. Following three years of weak economic performance, overall growth is expected to accelerate to 3.5% this year, from 2.9% in 2017. This year’s projected gains will come amid improved global conditions, increased oil output, and the easing of drought conditions in the east and south.

To be sure, growth will be uneven. While nearly a third of African economies will grow by around 5%, slowdowns are likely in at least a dozen others. Sharp increases in public debt, which has reached 50% of GDP in nearly half of Sub-Saharan countries, are particularly worrying. But, overall, Africa is positioned for a positive year.

Second, Africa’s political landscape is liberalizing. Some of Africa’s longest-serving presidents – including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos, and the Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh – exited in 2017. In South Africa, Jacob Zuma’s resignation allowed Cyril Ramaphosa to become president. In January, Liberians witnessed their country’s first peaceful transfer of power since 1944, when former soccer star George Weah was sworn into office.

*former chief adviser to the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, is a senior fellow at the African Center for Economic Transformation. This piece was originally published in Project Syndicate

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China, Russia Mounting Growing Challenge to US in Africa
March 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jeff Seldin*

Ethiopia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Workneh Gebeyehu (center R) walks the red carpet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as he arrives to begin a six-day trip in Africa, landing at Addis Ababa International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 7, 2018.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Workneh Gebeyehu (center R) walks the red carpet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as he arrives to begin a six-day trip in Africa, landing at Addis Ababa International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 7, 2018.

China and Russia are working to expand their influence across Africa, hoping to outspend or out-compete the United States, U.S. officials warn, describing it as part of a larger effort by both countries to reshape the world order.

For months, top national security officials have been talking about the reemergence of what they describe as a great power competition, calling out China and Russia as the two countries doing the most to counter the United States.

FILE - Chinese workers pose at the inauguration site of a train linking Addis Ababa to Djibouti, 20 kilometres from the centre of Addis Ababa, Oct. 5, 2016.
FILE – Chinese workers pose at the inauguration site of a train linking Addis Ababa to Djibouti, 20 kilometres from the centre of Addis Ababa, Oct. 5, 2016.

Officials say the efforts by Beijing and Moscow are both regional and global, with both pursuing strategies to deny the U.S. access to conflict zones in times of crisis and to commercial markets in times of peace.

And in Africa, both are trying to portray themselves as viable, if not essential, alternatives to the United States.

On Tuesday, the commander of U.S. forces in Africa told lawmakers it is now critical for African countries to know Washington can and will remain a steadfast partner.

U.S. Marine Corps General Thomas Waldhauser holds a news conference at Camp Lemonnier in Ambouli, Djibouti, Apr. 23, 2017.
U.S. Marine Corps General Thomas Waldhauser holds a news conference at Camp Lemonnier in Ambouli, Djibouti, Apr. 23, 2017.

“It’s important that we’re there, that we’re present and that the African people see our commitment,” U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser told the House Armed Services Committee.

China’s expanding influence

Concerns about China’s ever-expanding reach into Africa are not new. U.S. intelligence warned this past September (2017) that Beijing’s first overseas military base, at Doraleh, in the east African nation of Djibouti, was likely to be the first of many.

FILE - Chinese People's Liberation Army personnel attend the opening ceremony of China's new military base in Djibouti, Aug. 1, 2017.
FILE – Chinese People’s Liberation Army personnel attend the opening ceremony of China’s new military base in Djibouti, Aug. 1, 2017.

“China seeks to build [military bases] around the world, creating new areas of intersecting, and potentially conflicting, security interests between China and the United States,” an intelligence official said at the time.

For U.S. Africa Command, perhaps no situation is as concerning as the one in Djibouti, home to Camp Lemonnier, the only permanent U.S. military installation on the African continent and a hub for U.S. counterterror operations.

FILE - In this image released by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Marines and sailors prepare to board a KC-130J Marine Super Hercules at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.
FILE – In this image released by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Marines and sailors prepare to board a KC-130J Marine Super Hercules at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

Gen. Waldhauser described the Chinese military base at Doraleh as, “right outside our gates.” And despite some efforts to work with the Chinese, in areas like medical aid and training, U.S. defense officials remain wary.

“We are not naïve,” said Waldhauser Tuesday. “We are taking significant steps on the counterintelligence side so that we have all the defenses that we need.”

But China’s military might in Africa, including its approximately 2,500 peacekeepers, is not what has U.S. defense, intelligence and diplomatic officials most concerned.

Rather, they point to the way Beijing relies on economic aid and promises of development to bring countries like Djibouti into its sphere of influence.

A Chinese naval base and U.S. base Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti
A Chinese naval base and U.S. base Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti

“The Chinese there are building facilities. They’re building a shopping mall. They built a soccer stadium,” Waldhauser said. “They built the infrastructure for communications in Djibouti.”

“When we talk about influence and access, this is a classic example,” he added. “We’ll never outspend the Chinese.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday went as far as to accuse China of “encouraging dependency” in its approach to the continent.

“Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries. When coupled with the political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic, political stability,” noted Tillerson in a speech hours before leaving on a five-country African trip.

Other U.S. officials have also raised concerns about the high levels of debt some nations are incurring as they increasingly accept Chinese loans. By some U.S. estimates, Djibouti, which is home to the U.S. military base, owes more than $1.2 billion to Beijing.

That has sparked fears among some U.S. lawmakers that China could make a play to take control of Djibouti’s key port, the Doraleh Container Terminal.

Djibouti took control of the port citing a contract dispute with the former operator, Dubai-based DP World.

“Reports that I’ve read say that they didn’t seize it for purposes of operating it for profit, but that they actually intend to gift it to China,” Republican Representative Bradley Byrne (from Louisiana) said during Tuesday’s hearing with Africa Command’s Gen. Waldhauser.

“The Chinese aren’t there for purely charitable reasons,” Byrne said. “We all would recognize that.”

U.S. defense officials admit that if China does take over the port and decides to impose any restrictions, the consequences could be significant – impacting the military’s ability to refuel ships and to resupply Camp Lemonnier and other outposts across Africa.

Russia’s focus on Africa

Russia, too, is making Africa more of a focus.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visits Africa this week, starting with a stop in Zimbabwe, where Moscow has been cultivating economic ties, including a $3 billion investment in platinum mining, while also pursuing deeper military ties.

There has also been extensive Russian outreach to northern African nations, particularly countries like Libya which border on the Mediterranean.

“Our concern would be their ability to influence and be on the southern flank of NATO, and also them to kind of squeeze us out, if you will, by them taking a prominent role,” said U.S. Africa Command’s Waldhauser.

Russian officials say they have no plans to back down.

“African countries view the development of cooperation in the military and technical sphere as an instrument of ensuring their sovereignty, independence and countering the pressure of Western countries,” Andrei Kemarksy, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Africa Department told the Tass news agency last month.

“We are training both military and police personnel for peacekeeping operations,” Kemarksy added.

*Source VOA

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Africa’s population explosion is a ticking time bomb — African Development Bank Governors
March 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
Africa is projected to have over 840 million youth by 2050 with the continent having the youngest population on earth
The African Development Bank and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment

The African Development Bank and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 7, 2018/ — The African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment, which they likened to a “ticking time bomb.”

The meeting described the continent’s growing young population as a potential growth engine for the world.

“The good news is that the solution is within our reach and will require investments,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

At the end of a two-day consultation at the headquarters of the Bank in Abidjan, CÕte d’Ivoire, the Bank and the Governors discussed strategizes for closing Africa’s $170 billion infrastructure investment gap.

To bridge the investment gap, ensure inclusive growth, and create employment for the continent’s population, the meeting endorsed the African Development Bank-led African Investment Forum and described it as a timely opportunity to catalyze investments into projects and attract social impact financing to Africa.

Tanzania’s Minister for Finance and Planning, Isdor Mpango, called for closer involvement of the private sector in financing development on the continent.

“The African Development Bank is well positioned to advise and assist Governments and the private sector to come up with bankable projects,” Mpango said, calling for direct resources to provide budget support and investment opportunities.”

Through the African Investment Forum, scheduled for November 7-9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Bank and its partners intend to showcase bankable projects, attract financing, and provide platforms for investing across Africa. The forum will bring together the African Development Bank and other global multilateral financial institutions to de-risk investments at scale.

“A uniqueness of the African Investment Forum is that there will be no speeches. The only speeches will be transactions,” said President Adesina.

Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete said: “The African Development Bank has already discussed the concept of the African Investment Forum with us. The Rwandan Government takes this Forum very seriously.”

“Jobs will come from industrialization. The new approach using the African Investment Forum to de-risk the sector and attract investors is the way to go,” said Kiplagat Rotich, Kenyan Finance Minister.

13 per cent of the world’s population is estimated to live in sub-Saharan Africa today. That number is projected to more than double by 2050. Four billion (or 36 per cent of the world’s population) could live in the region by 2100, according to the UN Population Division. Africa is projected to have over 840 million youth by 2050 with the continent having the youngest population on earth.

According to Adesina, “We have 12 years left to the SDGs. It is an alarm bell because if Africa does not achieve the SDGs, the world won’t achieve them. The African Development Bank is accelerating development across Africa through the High 5s. We are deepening our reforms. We deepened our disbursements to the highest levels ever last year and we are leveraging more resources for Africa.”

Tunisia’s Finance Minister Zied Ladhari recalled how the Bank’s 11-year temporary relocation to his country helped strengthen the bonds between them. “We share the Bank’s vision. Africa is the continent of the future. This is a great Africa moment with the Bank at the centre. Unleashing the potential of African economies is a task which the Bank must accomplish.”

As part of the Bank’s High 5 agenda, 13 million African women have benefitted from new electricity connections and 23 million from improvements in agriculture. Also, 10 million African women have benefited from investee projects

An analysis of the African Development Bank’s impact from 2010-2017 indicates that 27 million Africans gained access to new electricity connections. 899,000 small businesses were provided with financial services. 35 million have benefitted from improved access to water and sanitation.

“With the Bank’s support, Somalia has evolved from a failed to a fragile state,” asserted Somalia’s Finance Minister, Abdirahman Beileh. “The African Development Bank has been with us throughout. Together we can reach the bright light at the end of the tunnel.”

Algeria’s Finance Minister, Abderahmane Raouia, said “The biggest challenge for Africa today is job creation. It is a stake of stability and a lever to pull economic growth upwards. We must offer job opportunities for young people to convince them to stay here on the continent.”

According to Simon Mizrahi, Director, Delivery, Performance Management and Results, the Bank needs to move from billions to trillions in its funding and leveraging effect.

Egypt’s Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Mohamed El-Hamzawi, who represented the Finance Minister, said the country has seen two revolutions in 2011 and 2014. He thanked the Bank for supporting the country’s macroeconomic stabilization, financial reforms, infrastructure, and energy projects, among others.

Morocco’s Economy and Finance Minister, Mohammed Boussaid, praised the Bank’s ambition for Africa, and underscored its support for energy, agriculture and infrastructure projects. He said “a capital increase today is not a choice, it is a necessity. Today, the leading export sector in Morocco no longer belongs to traditional sectors, such as phosphates, but to the automotive industry. This generates jobs and adds value for sustainable and robust growth.”

With a substantive capital increase, the African Development will be able to execute its robust pipeline of operations (15bn in 2018 alone), including infrastructure and regional integration projects. The prospects for 2018-2020 are bright, with 50.3 million people benefitting from improved access to transport compared to 14 million in 2017. Also, more than 35 million people are expected to benefit from new or improved electricity connections, in contrast to 4.4 million delivered in 2017.

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 37 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states. 

*AFDB

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This is Afrofuturism
March 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

Afrofuturism reimagines the past and envisions what can be. If fact follows fiction, the future will belong to Africa and our storytellers.  

BY BOLANLE AUSTEN PETERS*

Clockwise from top left: Sanford Bigger’s “Bam”; a bodypainting work by Laolu Senbanjo; the cover of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death; Janelle Monae’s album The ArchAndroid; poster from Black Panther; Awol Erizku’s “Girl With A Bamboo Earring”.

Clockwise from top left: Sanford Bigger’s “Bam”; a bodypainting work by Laolu Senbanjo; the cover of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death; Janelle Monae’s album The ArchAndroid; poster from Black Panther; Awol Erizku’s “Girl With A Bamboo Earring”.

A decade ago, superhero films were almost universally about white male characters, but the buzz around Black Panther reveals a growing appetite for art that pays homage to black history and black power. Within 24 hours of its release, the Marvel film had set a new sales record, helping to mainstream the Afrofuturism movement.

The term Afrofuturism, coined in 1993, seeks to reclaim black identity through art, culture, and political resistance. It is an intersectional lens through which to view possible futures or alternate realities, though it is rooted in chronological fluidity. That’s to say it is as much a reflection of the past as a projection of a brighter future in which black and African culture does not hide in the margins of the white mainstream.

When I grew up in 1970s Nigeria, the country hosted Festac ’77, a famous celebration of African history and culture that welcomed greats from Stevie Wonder to Miriam Makeba. I recall going to the National Arts Theatre and watching Ipi Tombi, a South African musical. The imagery from that experience jumpstarted my career as a director nearly 40 years later.

A parade as part of the Festac ’77 festival, a month long celebration also known as the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture.

A parade as part of the Festac ’77 festival, a month long celebration also known as the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture.

In that era, hope of Africa’s promise was high, but images of the Great African nation, a model of black modernity, died soon after during structural adjustment in the 1980s. Shrinking budgets left little space to dream about fine art or literature.

In Black Panther, the imaginary kingdom of Wakanda – like the fantastical realms of African-American author N.K. Jemisin – resurrects a vision of black sovereignty and success that has long been dormant. As the Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor says, “African science fiction’s blood runs deep, and it’s old, and it’s ready to come forth. And when it does, imagine the new technologies, ideas and sociopolitical changes it will inspire.”

Wakanda, for example, is the world’s most technologically-advanced country. This may seem a far cry from typical depictions of poverty-stricken Africa. However, as it becomes a truly digital-first continent, Afrofuturist films like Black Panther may just be giving us a glimpse at the future.

 

 

It can be hard to conjure up images of illustrious black royalty in a present that is fraught with intercommunal tensions. In the past year, racial inequality has been laid bare, from South Africa, where #RhodesMustFall challenged the remnants of brutal colonisation, to the US, where white supremacy groups have come out of the shadows.

Given the sometimes bleak present-day circumstances of Afro-descended people, Afrofuturism is a chance to envision a radical and progressive vision of blackness – one in which justice reigns in superheroes and where black creativity is mystical and fascinating. In this space, black life matters.

The body artwork of the Nigerian artist Laolu Senbanjo (above), for example, paints spiritual motifs on famous figures and reclaims African art in an overtly white culture. Meanwhile, Sanford Bigger’s 2015 work, Bam, features statues “re-sculpted” by real bullets and subtly calls out police brutality in America. These artworks are rooted in techniques and traditions of the diaspora, but are resolutely forward-looking.

Black history often lives in the shadows of modern consciousness. Afrofuturism is a means to discover that history in an impactful and engaging way. Musicians such as Janelle Monae and filmmakers like Ryan Coogler create new vehicles to challenge the status quo.

Time is not linear in this genre. An imagined future can impact the present as it unearths a buried African past. Afrofuturism pieces together parts of a history that people were not privy to as their stories had been sidelined for so long.

Afrofuturist novels in particular offer a unique platform to shed light on Africa’s history. Consider Kindred by Octavia Butler, in which a woman is transported from 1970s California to Africa at the height of the slave trade; or Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, about a woman tormented by her sorcerer father in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic Sudan.

Afrofuturism is a channel through which artists can go back in time to give old works of art a new, decidedly African identity. This is the case, for example, with Awol Erizku’s distinctive painting Girl With a Bamboo Earring, a 2012 interpretation of Vermeer’s famous Girl With a Pearl Earring. Like the historical recovery projects black intellectuals have engaged in for over 200 years, Afrofuturism does more than fight the erasing of black contributions to global history: it empowers and reimagines the past for lasting cultural impact.

If life truly imitates art, then art must lead the way in inclusiveness and representations that honour all of us. For Afrofuturism to function not as mere fantasy but as a revelation, it must be mainstreamed by producers and publishers and made equal to white artistic expression. History has been edited and the present is a silencer. But if fact follows fiction, the future will belong to Africa and our storytellers.

*African Arguments. Bolanle Austen Peters is the founder of Terra Kulture, Nigeria’s preeminent centre for the performing arts and culture.   

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Tillerson highlights sub-Saharan security challenges ahead of Africa visit
March 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Laura Koran*

U.S.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

U.S.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

(CNN)Secretary of State Rex Tillerson emphasized the real and potential threats posed by extremist groups in sub-Saharan Africa in a wide-ranging speech Tuesday, which centered on the administration’s plans to help African governments strengthen their institutions and governance.

Speaking at George Mason University just hours before he heads to the region for his first official visit, Tillerson spoke of the immense challenges and opportunities presented by huge population growth in Africa, which could threaten global security in the decades ahead.
“The growing population of young people, if left without jobs and a hope for the future, will create new ways for terrorists to exploit the next generation, subverting stability and derailing democratic governments,” said Tillerson. “Leaders will be challenged to innovate to manage limited financial resources they have.”
He recalled the attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in the late 1990s and more recent attacks, such as those perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria. He further pointed to the threat posed by ISIS and al Qaeda-affiliated groups on the continent.
“To prevail against such evil forces, the United States has committed to working with African partners to rid the continent and the world of terrorism by addressing drivers of conflict that lead to radicalization and recruitment in the first place, and building the institutional law enforcement capacity of African nations,” said Tillerson. “We want to help African states provide security for their citizens in a lawful manner.”
He praised the role the African Union and G5 Sahel Group have taken on the security and counterterrorism front. Last year, Tillerson pledged $60 million from the US to the G5 security force.
Tillerson said a central pillar of the Trump administration’s policy toward Africa is to make its countries “more resilient and more self-sufficient” to meet this challenge.
“The United States’ role in these and other regional and multilateral efforts is to build capacity — not dependency — so our partners can provide for their own security. That’s true of our approach to peacekeeping on the continent as well,” said Tillerson.
In his speech, Tillerson announced nearly $533 million in additional humanitarian assistance “to fight famine and food insecurity, and address other needs resulting from conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Lake Chad Basin.”
“The American people, as we always have been, are there to partner with African countries to ensure their most vulnerable populations receive life-saving assistance,” said Tillerson. “However, this assistance will not solve these ongoing conflicts, but only buy us time — time to pursue diplomatic solutions.”
Tillerson’s visit to the region is an opportunity for him to strengthen the administration’s relationships with leaders on the continent, some of whom were openly disturbed by President Donald Trump’s reported disparaging remarks in January about African countries and Haiti.

Many African countries ‘holding back’ on North Korea

Tillerson also spoke of the administration’s peaceful pressure campaign targeting North Korea, stressing — as he often does — the need to ensure the campaign is global in nature.
“North Korea threatens the entire global community through its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs and proliferation activities, including its arms exports to Africa,” said Tillerson. “It doesn’t just involve our allies in Europe or Asia. It doesn’t just include countries with longstanding ties to the DPRK, like China and Russia. This is and must be a global effort.”
“Nations in Africa need to do more,” said Tillerson, noting that “many African nations are holding back.”
Governments across Africa have been conducting business with the rogue regime in Pyongyang for many years, recently attracting the attention of the United Nations Panel of Experts on North Korea.
The State Department has been pushing these governments to cut trade, military and diplomatic ties with North Korea, using a mix of carrots and sticks. Last year, for example, Sudan pledged not to pursue future arms deals with Pyongyang after the US government suggested such sales were standing in the way of major sanctions relief.

Threat posed by corruption and China

Tillerson ended his remarks with an appeal to African governments to tackle the threat posed by corruption and bad governance.
“Bribes and corruption keep people in poverty, they encourage inequality and undercut citizens’ faith in government” said Tillerson. “Legitimate investment stays away, and insecurity and instability grows, creating conditions ripe for terrorism and conflict.”
Tillerson also took aim at China, which has been investing heavily on the continent and is constructing its first overseas military base in Djibouti.
“The United States pursues sustainable growth that bolsters institutions, strengthens the rule of law and builds the capacity of African countries to stand on their own two feet,” said Tillerson. “This stands in stark contrast to China’s approach, which encourages dependency — using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them the long-term, self-sustaining growth.”
“Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few if any jobs in most countries,” he added. “When coupled with political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic and political stability.”
*Culled from CNN
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