BERLIN, Germany — A proposal from Germany’s development ministry stands to rewrite the country’s — and possibly the G-20’s — aid relationship with Africa. The so-calledMarshall Plan with Africa would prioritize encouraging private investment on the continent, possibly while reducing or shifting official development assistance.
The plan is part of a broader German focus on Africa in 2017, in an effort to play a stronger role leading donor policy within Europe and the G-20.
Analysts and advocates working in Africa say the plan puts into writing some of the trends already underway in aid, including a shift toward the private sector. They warn, however, that moving away from ODA entirely could leave gaps in need. Others, meanwhile, are looking to the German government to use the plan to engage a wider range of actors, including other donors and multilateral banks, to introduce a range of initiatives that could truly have a long-term impact.
For now, though, the debate is largely hypothetical. The plan is still only a proposal, and Germany’s position on Africa is set to evolve rapidly in the coming weeks. The finance ministry is currently constructing a separate “Compact with Africa,” and the country is set to host the G-20 summit in July, where relations with Africa will feature heavily on the agenda. German elections in September could also impact the development agenda, particularly if Chancellor Angela Merkel loses her bid for a fourth term.
Amid the uncertainty, experts are cautious not to either under or overstate the Marshall’s Plan potential impact. German aid and implementing partners are equally unsure how to react. The ministry declined to answer specific questions about whether development partners should read the document as a broader shift in priorities, or consider realigning their programs to match the interventions highlighted in the document.
But one indicator of the proposal’s impact could come in June, as Berlin hosts aG-20 African Partnership Conference, ahead of the broader G-20 meeting in July. The agenda for that meeting, which is focused on improving the investment climate in African countries, dovetails with the emphasis in the plan and could indicate how much influence it will ultimately have on German aid.
What does this Marshall Plan entail?
The Marshall Plan with Africa, released earlier this year, is effectively a blueprint for tackling a range of challenges on the continent — chief among them the problems that could result from Africa’s likely population explosion by 2050.
The proposal aims to be an “integrated overall approach” to address issues ranging from food security, good governance to social concerns, Gerd Müller, the federal minister for economic cooperation and development, explained during a business summit in Nairobi in February.
The plan positions Germany to help African governments with more than 100 different reform ideas that fall under three broad pillars: Economic activity, trade and employment; peace and security; and democracy and the rule of law. Each pillar includes recommendations for African country governments, the German government and the larger international community. Some are quite specific, for example a call on African countries to support a continental human rights court. Others offer more vague guidance, as in the call for international partners to “promote local value chains.”
Throughout, the plan emphasizes improving the investment climate. Among the proposed initiatives are plans to help create incentive packages for businesses. It also floats the idea of using ODA funds to secure private investments.
“It’s not the governments that will create all the long-term employment opportunities that are needed, it’s the private sector,” the plan reads. “So it’s not subsidies that Africa needs so much as more private investment.”
The plan also looks to directly seed the ground for investors. It would support programs that promote peace, security and anti-corruption efforts, in order to better protect investment. It would also look to boost job and vocational training initiatives to prepare young people for the workforce. Traditional development initiatives, including improving health, education systems and infrastructure, would also likely continue.
“We need more ODA funds to meet the current challenges,” the plan says, without specifying an ideal amount. In 2015, the German government spent about 16 billion euros ($17.8 billion) on ODA — the third highest amount in the world behind the United States and the United Kingdom.
Still, “it’s definitely a pro-private investment shift and a bit away from ODA,” said Manfred Öhm, the head of the Africa department at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The German political foundation, which draws some financial support from the government, runs a range of development programs in Africa.
Implications for the G-20 relationship with Africa
If expanded, some advocates say the plan could have a significant impact, in part because Germany looks to be positioning itself as a policy-leading donor on the continent. The draft was released in a year when Germany is hosting the G-20, and has made re-evaluating its relationship with Africa a priority. Already, German officials appear to be reframing the plan, which is the vision of one ministry, as part of the larger discussion of the G-20’s relationship with Africa.
Speaking to the African Unionlast October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to “make the issues that concern you in Africa one of the priorities of the G-20 agenda, and also launch a large-scale initiative with Africa to this end.” The first step, the G-20 African Partnership Conference, will be designed to encourage private investment, sustainable infrastructure and employment in Africa.
The plan could form a significant part of the broader global discussion about the international community’s relationship with Africa, according to Jamie Drummond, the co-founder and executive director of ONE, a grassroots organization fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa.
“This G-20 could and must herald a more coordinated push with Africa than we’ve seen since 2005 and Gleneagles,” Drummond said, referring to the U.K.-hosted G-8 summit that agreed to double aid to Africa, and eliminate the debts of some of the world’s poorest countries.
Drummond is looking for something equally bold to emerge — or at least begin — in Hamburg, where Germany is hosting its G-20. He would like to see momentum towards improving the quality and quantity of funding for education, increasing funds for women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship and an emphasis on good governance, alongside any focus on improving the climate for private investment.
“The private sector approach is incredibly important,” he said. “But if it was the only thing that was being proposed, that would not be enough.”
With Africa’s population set to more than double by 2050, from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion, according to thePopulation Reference Bureau, “African development is now clearly central to European and G-20 security into the twenty-first century,” he said. “That’s what this G-20 acknowledges and now we must urgently act on that.”
Domestic support for the plan
The Marshall Plan proposal will need to pull in new elements and some more collaborators — including from within the German government — if it is to be relevant, some analysts warn.
Given what it hopes to achieve, the proposal doesn’t yet include enough partners, said Stefan Brüne, an associate fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations. The federal ministry for economic cooperation and development may not be the best body to strengthen democracy, for example, he said.
“They are not in a position to really address these problems,” he said, compared to their counterparts in the ministry of foreign affairs, for instance, who can exert more political pressure.
Domestic politics could also impact the roll out. Though Müller comes from the ruling party coalition, it is still not clear how popular his plan is within his own government. Experts are looking for input from the ministry of defense, and greater cooperation with the ministry of finance, as it puts together its own compact with Africa. They are also watching to see if Merkel will more publicly embrace the plan or introduce her own strategy that might borrow elements from it.
If it is to truly jumpstart a broader conversation, it would also need to draw in officials from other G-20 nations, the World Bank and other international institutions — something its architects are clearly already aware of and which its advocates are prepared to push for.
Öhm said one of the ministry’s priorities should be providing more clarity, including about the future of ODA, programs the government plans to support and which governments the ministry is specifically hoping to assist. Some African countries are interested in reforms to improve the investment climate, and some are interested in transparency and democratic promotion, but the two groups are not necessarily the same.
At best, he and some other analysts see the plan as a potential starting point for conversations about the balance between ODA and private investment, for instance.
Truly rethinking Germany’s — or the G-20’s — relationship with Africa in the terms that the plan lays out would require a significant generational commitment, experts said. The question is whether the Marshall Plan actually represents that.
The grand vision was launched in 2013 originally as the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. It involves China underwriting billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in countries along the old Silk Road, linking it with a network of countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.
At the centre of the plan are two physical routes: the Silk Road Economic Belt, stretching from Asia to Europe; and the Maritime Silk Road that begins in China and passes along the Indian Ocean littoral to East Africa and then Europe.
Because of its high ambitions, the initiative has been criticised for being unachievable. Critics are also questioning the impact it may have on countries that are not officially linked to the routes.
For some countries, including BRICS stalwarts like India, the project challenges the current global order, replacing it with a Sino-centric one. Others believe the initiative presents an alternative approach to globalisation in an era where powers like the US seem intent on increasing protectionism and retreating from their global leadership role.
China has maintained that it is committed to taking an inclusive approach to trade and diplomacy. In a 2015 white paper it reiterated that the development of the initiative was open and welcomed the active participation of all countries and international organisations.
Thanks to the initiative’s massive financial ambitions, it’s likely to have a ripple effect on a number of regions. For example, the impact could be felt across Africa, although its significance in relation to other regions remains unclear. It could help the continent plug its infrastructure deficit, a necessary step for economic growth on the continent and in particular industrialisation.
Meeting of minds
This isn’t the first attempt to revive the ancient trade routes. There have been attempts by the European Union, US, Russia and even India to reconstruct the ancient Silk Road that linked Asia and Europe in particular.
What makes China’s attempt different is the commitment of President Xi, as well as the numerous agreements – such as the 130 transport pacts – it has already signed with partner countries along the route.
China made clear from the beginning that the initiative wouldn’t get off the ground without widespread participation. As such, the summit was positioned as an opportunity to build consensus.
The overall plan aims to provide a commitment of some $1 trillion in future funding. And China used the summit as an opportunity to increase the Silk Fund from $40 billion to $100 billion.
China is using the Belt and Road initiative as an opportunity to position itself diplomatically on the global stage. This was clear from the summit which provided a platform for the country to amplify its voice on the world stage.
Over 50 countries took part. This included the presidents of Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Vietnam and Uzbekistan. Representatives of the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and World Bank also attended.
As scholar Gregory Chin explains in China’s Bold Economic Statecraft, global relations are under constant negotiation. They are increasingly characterised by shifting alignments rather than fixed alliances.
China understands the opportunities presented by this state of flux.
Where does Africa feature?
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the summit, along with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry and Tunisia’s Minister of Culture.
Kenya’s presence was particularly significant because East Africa has been the main focus of the initiative on the continent.
While this may be of concern to other African countries, China is also supportive of Africa’s homegrown development plan as set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063. There are clear synergies with the Belt and Road initiative that support greater connectivity.
As African countries have expressed interest, China has responded, at least rhetorically, in favour of their inclusion.
Yet this won’t be enough. Support from African countries is key. And success depends on them providing adequate security to protect the investment environment.
More broadly, African governments will need to promote an enabling environment for projects to succeed, particularly if, as envisaged, the private sector plays a key role in Belt and Road projects.
Your Excellencies, I wish to thank Prime Minister Gentiloni for inviting me to participate at this G7 Summit. It sends a major message: the G7 takes Africa seriously and sees the African Development Bank as a strategic partner. Let me thank you all in the G7 for your strong support for the African Development Bank.
The new spring in our step for Africa’s development comes from the Bank’s High 5 priorities: Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa. These High 5s will help to achieve 90% of the Sustainable Development Goals for Africa and 90% of Agenda 2063.
Africa needs innovation. This is crucial for access to energy, because 645 million Africans do not have access to electricity. Africa cannot develop in the dark. Africa needs an energy revolution.
That is why the Bank is investing $12 billion over the next five years in the energy sector as well as to leverage up to $50 billion, to address this challenge. We are investing in unlocking Africa’s renewable energy potential, especially innovations on solar power. Our goal is to connect 130 million households to grids and 75 million households to off-grid solar systems within ten years. To light up and power Africa is the biggest deal of the century.
Even insects migrate from where it is dark to where there is light. No wonder Africa’s youth – our assets – take huge risks migrating to Europe, looking for a better life. The future of Africa’s youth does not lie in migration to Europe; it should not be at the bottom of the Mediterranean; it lies in a prosperous Africa. We must create greater economic opportunities for our youth right at home in Africa.
That’s why the African Development Bank has launched the Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative, with the goal of creating 25 million jobs within 10 years, with a focus on agriculture and ICT. We are investing in skills development in computer sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics to prepare the youths for the jobs of the future.
But we must also avoid what I call the “triangle of disaster” – that deadly combination of extreme rural poverty, high youth unemployment and environmental climate degradation. Where these factors are found, they provide rich recruitment zones for terrorists.
We must turn rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity. This requires new agricultural innovations and transforming agriculture into a sector for creating wealth. We must make agriculture a really cool choice for young people. The future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come initially from agriculture.
Africa is leading globally today on mobile banking, taking advantage of rapid growth in the use of mobile phones (and President Kenyatta explained this brilliantly this morning). Innovations in digital finance will be critical to reaching the unbanked – especially women. No bird can fly with one wing. Africa will develop faster when it achieves equality for women.
That’s why the Bank launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) to help leverage $3 billion for women in Africa. Women are bankable, after all 97% of them pay back their loans. (Don’t ask me what the corresponding figure is for men.)
But we also need innovation in our perspectives. I want you to please see Africa differently – not just as a place for economic development, but as an investment growth frontier.
So, let’s talk business: Africa will have the same population as India and China today, taken together, by 2050. Consumer spending in Africa is projected to reach $1.4 trillion in the next three years and business-to-business spending to reach $3.5 trillion in the next eight years. And Africa is reforming, making itself open for business: it accounted for 30% of global business and regulatory reforms in 2016.
The G7 should look at Africa as a huge investment opportunity.
To help unlock massive private investments in Africa, the African Development Bank together with our partners will be launching the Africa Investment Forum next year. This will be a totally transactional forum that will be all about making deals happen and fast-tracking investments in Africa by pension, sovereign wealth, insurance funds and other institutional investors. It will provide the platform for the success of the Compact with Africa being developed through Chancellor Merkel’s excellent leadership.
So, Africa’s huge investment opportunities and innovations beckon you – from agriculture and agribusiness, to energy, health, ICT, infrastructure and financial services. And the African Development Bank will be there to help advance private-sector investments from G7 countries in Africa.
Together with the G7, let’s innovate. Let’s give Africa a High 5.
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) talks with Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (R
A former banker and economy minister, President Emmanuel Macron is now at the head of En Marche, a manifesto turned into a political start-up, launched barely a year ago. En Marche promotes a technocratic perspective and is marketed by a handful of French brains of African descent moulded into the country’s elite universities.
For many, Macron’s recurring contradictory statements suggest a desire to appeal to everyone, while hiding his true colours and concealing the obvious – that he has no policy for Africa.
Beyond the spellbinding eloquence that coined slogans such as “France needs Africa to build its future,” or “I will act with transparency in Africa, away from conniving networks,” Macron’s vision for Africa is reduced to the thinness of “supporting local small and medium entrepreneurship.”
Macron must have missed the memo, for “African SMEs need an integrated banking system rather than a French president who has not secured the Senate control” argued Mamadou Diallo, the political analyst and member of the West African think-tank WATHI. For Diallo “The Macron campaign’s loudest feat was in using the colonial question and the crime against humanity committed in Algeria”, only for it to be reduced to a storm in a teacup. “The colonial debate appeal to voters of the African diaspora for it gives them an emotional acknowledgment in lieu of a real economic recognition. A father of four in Kinshasa couldn’t care less about a moral recognition of colonialism. He wants to know how to pay for his children school fees,” further clarifies the Guinean analyst.
There is a palpable fear that Macron’s presidency is a continuation of Hollande’s, who had voted for him during the first round. Using the historical representations of colonialism and slavery has undeniably set Macron apart from other candidates. However, his lauded anti-colonial statement quickly tempered by “but one has to assume its positive elements” brought Gaddafi’s ghost back in the conversation.
Africans have not forgotten the savage pulverisation that former French president Sarkozy inflicted upon the Libyan people. How can it be omitted that Macron has inherited from the horrific Mali military invasion? Did Africa really need France’s intervention if it meant that the mediator would become a party to the conflict? En Marche only reaffirmed France’s militaristic endorsement of European, EU and NATO’s interference to protect their interests, all of which can only signal more wahala for the African continent.
Macron’s key job is to redress French prosperity by facilitating the movement of entrepreneurs and researchers, in other words, the movement of capital, a large percentage of it originating from Africa and through a wheeler-dealer diplomacy that in Macron’s own words is also “erratic”.
With Africa’s trade balance growing eastwards and inwards, how would a former banker restore France’s relations with Africa at a time when a viral grassroots campaign for the abolition of the CFA (French African Colony) money is raging in fourteen countries? After all, why do 22-year-old graduates on the Quai d’Orsay payroll staff presidential entourages of the CFA countries afflicted by brain drain and youth unemployment? Surely Macron would concede that liberating fourteen countries from the bondage of pumping France’s economy up would appear to be a sensible step towards fair reparations for the crime against humanity that colonialism is. The trouble is that pegged to the French treasury, the abolition of the CFA currency would in a blink bring Molière’s country on its knees.
As for En Marche’s views on integration and immigration, put it simply, they are two sides of the same coin, that of racism and exclusion which carry significant economic costs. For a country in dire need to repopulate to keep the state apparel afloat, France holds a distorted discourse by single-handedly targeting its populations of Afro-descendents. France’s migrant population accounts for a mere ten percent of the population, a third of which is made of international students integrated into the relatively lifeless economy. Why else would 2.5 million of French citizen not racially profiled choose to live outside of France?
Actually, integration and immigration are coded words for Europe’s all time greatest fear dating back to eight centuries of an Afro-Moorish rule: Islam with its political, cultural and security translation. Again, in the European conflicted representation, Islam is no longer located in the Arab-Muslim heart but in the Arab-Turkish-Persian world. But most of the illegal migrants into Europe do not originate from the Syrian conflict or the Afghan convulsions, but from supra-Saharan or sub-Saharan African countries not at war and with a sizeable Muslim population.
“What we’re seeing across Europe is that domestic politicians – whether in Germany, France, or even Greece – are increasingly asking the EU to do their dirty work” cautions Loren Landau, the Chair of the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Hence Macron’s a continuation of Europe’s forked tongue discourse. “It allows them to show that politicians are doing something about stopping Africans from coming, without themselves being implicated in the nefarious deals the EU is promoting” added Landau.
It is high time Africa cures her post-colonial syndrome and stops giving a disproportionate importance to the French political game, according to the Cameroonian political scientist Achille Mbembe.
All things considered, could it be agreed that France’s views on Africa are of no interest to Africans? Africa matters more to France’s seventy million than the other way around, if only because Africa hosts two hundred million French speakers, or a fifth of its billion population.
* Source IOL .Yoletta Nyange is a Visiting Scholar at the African Centre for Migration and Society of the University of the Witwatersrand
AHMEDABAD, India, 24 May 2017, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Winners of the 2017 African Banker Awards were announced at a prestigious Gala Dinner in Ahmedabad, India. The Awards, held annually on the fringes of the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank, celebrate excellence in banking and finance on the African continent.
No one country dominated the awards this year. The President of AfreximBank, Dr Benedict Oramah won Banker of the Year. His bank has grown considerably in the past year, whilst other metrics, such as income to cost ratio were very competitive.
Nigerian bank, GT Bank beat off competition from five shortlisted nominees to win the coveted ‘African Bank of the Year Award’. GT Bank posted a 37% in profits in 2016, despite difficult trading conditions in its main market Nigeria.
The ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ was presented to an institution for the first time, as opposed to an individual. This is recognition to the outstanding contribution to African banking that Citi as an organisation has done since it has started operating in Africa and in shaping some of Africa’s leading bankers, many of who have led the growing number of African financial institutions across the continent.
Waheed A. Olagunju, the acting CEO and Managing Director of Bank of Industry was honoured with this year’s African Banker Icon award, which recognizes a banking career that spans over two decades.
Senegal’s Amadou Ba won the Finance Minister of the year award. He has managed to successfully steer the Senegalese economy which is today one of the best performing ones in Africa. Only last week, Senegal issued a Eurobond that was seven times oversubscribed. The ‘African Central Bank Governor of the Year’ accolade was awarded to Mauritius’ Rameswurlall Basant Roi. Mauritius today is one of Africa’s leading financial capitals and this is largely the work of the Governor. Its financial services sector is one of the strongest in Africa and it has thriving capital markets.
Commenting on the ceremony, Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker, commented on the breadth of winners as well as the important banks and financial institutions have in driving growth and development: “This year’s entries in the financial inclusion and innovation categories were particularly encouraging. Financial inclusion is possibly the single most important priority so that we can mobilise funds and make this capital to work effectively. Banks are at the centre at this and rising to the challenge.”
This is the first time the African Banker Awards take place in India, more precisely in Ahmedabad, the capital of the state of Gujarat. As a shareholder in the African Development Bank, the Indian government offered to host this year’s Annual Meetings aiming to strengthen its long-standing relationship with Africa.
The eleventh edition of the African Banker Awards, hosted by African Banker magazine took place at the Hyatt Regency. The awards which are held under the high patronage of the African Development Bank are sponsored by the African Guarantee Fund as Gold Sponsor and the Bank of Industry as Silver Sponsor. Other sponsors include the African Trade Insurance Agency and the Trade Development Bank.
THE 2017 AFRICAN BANKER AWARD WINNERS
Banker of the Year
Dr Benedict Okey Oramah, President, Afrexim Bank
Bank of the Year
GT Bank Group
Minister of Finance of the Year
Amadou Ba (Senegal)
Central Bank Governor of the Year
Rameswurlall Basant Roi (Mauritius)
Best Retail Bank
Equity Bank (Kenya)
Investment Bank of the Year
Rand Merchant Bank (South Africa)
Award for Financial Inclusion
Caisse Centrale de Garantie (Morocco)
Groupe Crédit Agricole (Morocco)
Ecobank – MasterCard
Deal of the Year – Equity
OGP sale to Helios (Argentil)
Deal of the Year – Debt
Helios Towers, $600m debut High Yield Offering (Standard Bank)
Infrastructure Deal of the Year
AFC and Harith Asset Merger (Africa Finance Corporation)
African Banker Icon
Waheed A. Olagunju, Bank of Industry
Lifetime Achievement Award
Best Regional Bank in North Africa
Best Regional Bank in West Africa
Best Regional Bank in Central Africa
Trust Merchant Bank
Best Regional Bank in East Africa
Best Regional Bank in Southern Africa
Mauritius Commercial Bank
African Banker is a quarterly magazine dedicated to banking and finance in Africa. It taps into the growing demand for information about Africa’s banking and financial world, a sector that is consolidating rapidly and reshaping the economy of the continent.
David Oyelowo is serious about inspiring positive change in the world.
GEANCO In addition to his scholarship for girls in Nigeria, Oyelowo says he wants to extend his humanitarian efforts to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking.
The actor will be honored on June 4 by the Diamond Empowerment Fund, a nonprofit co-founded by Russell Simmons, with the Diamonds Do Good International Vanguard Award. The award, which will be given to Oyelowo during the organization’s annual awards gala in Las Vegas, recognizes his achievements in the arts and in the educational empowerment of vulnerable girls in Nigeria.
Oyelowo told HuffPost that he prefers projects that showcase Africa’s overlooked history, such as “United Kingdom,” which highlighted Botswana’s role as a leading diamond-producing nation. In that film, Oyelowo plays Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama.
“My passion is really behind any African story that highlights the transcendent beauty and just the amazing quality of Africa and its people,” Oyelowo told HuffPost. “So whether it’s in ‘United Kingdom’ or whether it’s in ‘Queen of Katwe’ or other projects that I’m at the inception stages with, that’s what I’m fundamentally interested in and it just so happens that Botswana’s success story is tied into diamonds.”
The actor, who was born in England to Nigerian parents, adds that in addition to highlighting Africa’s abundant culture on the silver screen, he also wants to change the negative perception of Nigeria ― specifically as it pertains to the marginalization of women.
“One of the stories that isn’t a success story of course is surrounding the Chibok girls and what’s going on with Boko Haram, and what’s going on with the marginalization of women generally, not just in Nigeria, but on the African continent and around the world,” he said. “So for me, it’s about highlighting the great story, but also trying to change the narrative around the negative, because those are things that can and must change.”
“Going beyond the borders of Nigeria, human trafficking, modern-day slavery, sex trafficking, these are really disgusting things that are going on in society,” he said. “A lot of them are dealing with girls being pulled out of Africa. It’s happening within the continent itself. Even here in Los Angeles ― the San Fernando Valley, where I live ― it’s one of the worst hubs for human trafficking in the country.”
“So it’s on our doorstep, and it’s international. And if you’re a father of children, really it’s a thing that young people are being subjected to by those who prey upon them,” the actor continued. “It’s unthinkable to think about what’s going on out there. So anything and everything I can do, and my colleagues can do, to eradicate this is what I’m interested in.”
Sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable.”David Oyelowo
Oyelowo is committed to reducing these startling statistics, regardless of public recognition.
“I think that’s one of the problems with our society in general. And sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable,” he argued. “Anything that is for instant gratification for yourself will not last. This is a problem in terms of what’s going on in Nigeria, and specifically the marginalization of women.”
“If you’re looking in Hollywood, it’s not as egregious and injustice as sex trafficking and human trafficking but, when you look at sexism within the film industry, we have these moments when everyone pays it attention and then people forget,” he said.
Rather than participating in an occasional initiative for instant gratification, Oyelowo encourages more of his peers in entertainment to commit themselves to humanitarian movements in order to see real change.
“I’m a big believer in not focusing in on the big moment, but on the movement,” he said. “The movement is something that has to be perpetual. Once I attach myself to something I try to focus on it and not let go until the job is done, regardless if the cameras are on or not.”
“I think if more of us do that, the more will actually get done,” he added.
Grant Harris (right), former special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House, joins Karen Attiah, global opinions editor at the Washington Post, for a Facebook Live discussion on the importance of US engagement in Africa.
The cuts to foreign aid proposed in US President Donald Trump’s new budget, if passed, would drastically diminish US influence in Africa, threaten US security interests, and make way for countries like China to fill the void, according to a former White House official.
We can’t be ceding this space to China and to other players to have them deepen their economic ties and their political ties and have the US really lose out,” said Grant Harris, who served as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House from 2011 to 2015.
Trump’s new federal budget would put an end to important US engagement on the continent, engagement which, according to Harris, is vital for US national security.
This is the premise of his recently published Atlantic Council report: Why Africa Matters to US National Security. “Far too many people think that Africa is of secondary importance to US interests, where, in reality, it’s really important to US national security,” Harris said in a Facebook Live discussion with Karen Attiah, the global opinions editor with the Washington Post, at the Atlantic Council on May 25.
Why does stability in Africa matter for security in the United States? Karen Attiah from the Washington Post discusses why Africa is important to US national security interests with Grant Harris, former special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House. To learn more, read Harris’ new report: http://bit.ly/2qnK3oJ
In order to stem the spread of transnational threats, from terrorism to pandemics, Africa must become stable, said Harris. However, achieving stability requires that the United States remain actively engaged, providing not only humanitarian assistance, but also promoting economic growth. “The budget cutbacks would hurt all of that,” he said.
Attiah noted that in the “new US political climate – it’s not just Africa—there’s a real sense that the US may be retreating from its role as a global leader.” This turn inward has opened the door for other nations, such as China, to strengthen their foothold in Africa.
China is already actively engaged in providing funds to many African nations in desperate need of improved infrastructure. Attiah described how China’s influence in Africa is “visible,” down to details such as Chinese signs in airports throughout the continent. However, Harris said, while Chinese funding of infrastructure projects in many African countries is good for those countries, the projects have “no strings attached,” meaning there are no stipulations regarding labor regulations, human rights, or environmental concerns.
“The US holds itself to different standards, and it should,” said Harris. He insisted that principled engagement bolsters not only US influence, but strengthens relationships with African partners, who are becoming increasingly significant voices on the world stage. African votes make up more than a quarter of the votes in the United Nations, therefore, “we need African partners to advance [US] priorities,” said Harris.
Africa is vital not only to US national security interests, but to the United States’ European allies as well, Harris claimed, citing the migration crisis as a major concern.
Harris said that while his report stresses Africa’s importance to US national security, “even if you’re skeptical of what I’m saying, you’ve got to believe that European allies are important to national security.” Consequently, he said, while Europe seeks to promote stability in Africa in order to stem migration, the United States should engage as well, if not for its own interests, to promote the interest of its allies. “If the US retrenches and we pull back on our assistance… then we’re going to be part of the problem,” according to Harris.
Previous US administrations have promoted deep bipartisan engagement in Africa. Harris called for the Trump administration to follow suit, emphasizing the importance of a much-overlooked, but increasingly important part of the world.
*Allafrica.Rachel Ansley is an editorial assistant at the Atlantic Council.
Africa is poor, but we can try to help its people.
It’s a simple statement, repeated through a thousand images, newspaper stories and charity appeals each year, so that it takes on the weight of truth. When we read it, we reinforce assumptions and stories about Africa that we’ve heard throughout our lives. We reconfirm our image of Africa.
Try something different. Africa is rich, but we steal its wealth.
That’s the essence of a report (pdf) from several campaign groups released today. Based on a set of new figures, it finds that sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor to the rest of the world to the tune of more than $41bn. Sure, there’s money going in: around $161bn a year in the form of loans, remittances (those working outside Africa and sending money back home), and aid.
But there’s also $203bn leaving the continent. Some of this is direct, such as $68bn in mainly dodged taxes. Essentially multinational corporations “steal” much of this – legally – by pretending they are really generating their wealth in tax havens. These so-called “illicit financial flows” amount to around 6.1 per cent of the continent’s entire gross domestic product (GDP) – or three times what Africa receives in aid.
Then there’s the $30bn that these corporations “repatriate” – profits they make in Africa but send back to their home country, or elsewhere, to enjoy their wealth. The City of London is awash with profits extracted from the land and labour of Africa.
There are also more indirect means by which we pull wealth out of Africa. Today’s report estimates that $29bn a year is being stolen from Africa in illegal logging, fishing and trade in wildlife. $36bn is owed to Africa as a result of the damage that climate change will cause to their societies and economies as they are unable to use fossil fuels to develop in the way that Europe did. Our climate crisis was not caused by Africa, but Africans will feel the effect more than most others. Needless to say, the funds are not currently forthcoming.
In fact, even this assessment is enormously generous, because it assumes that all of the wealth flowing into Africa is benefitting the people of that continent. But loans to governments and the private sector (at more than $50bn) can turn into unpayable and odious debt.
Ghana is losing 30 per cent of its government revenue to debt repayments, paying loans which were often made speculatively, based on high commodity prices, and carrying whopping rates of interest. One particularly odious aluminium smelter in Mozambique, built with loans and aid money, is currently costing the country £21 for every £1 that the Mozambique government received. British aid, which is used to set up private schools and health centres, can undermine the creation of decent public services, which is why such private schools are being closed down in Uganda and Kenya. Of course, some Africans have benefitted from this economy. There are now around 165,000 very rich Africans, with combined holdings of $860bn. But, given the way the economy works, where do these people mainly keep their wealth? In tax havens. A 2014 estimate suggests that rich Africans were holding a massive $500bn in tax havens. Africa’s people are effectively robbed of wealth by an economy that enables a tiny minority of Africans to get rich by allowing wealth to flow out of Africa.
So what is the answer? Western governments would like to be seen as generous beneficiaries, doing what they can to “help those unable to help themselves”. But the first task is to stop perpetuating the harm they are doing. Governments need to stop forcing African governments to open up their economy to privatisation, and their markets to unfair competition.
If African countries are to benefit from foreign investment, they must be allowed to – even helped to – legally regulate that investment and the corporations that often bring it. And they might want to think about not putting their faith in the extractives sector. With few exceptions, countries with abundant mineral wealth experience poorer democracy, weaker economic growth, and worse development. To prevent tax dodging, governments must stop prevaricating on action to address tax havens. No country should tolerate companies with subsidiaries based in tax havens operating in their country.
Aid is tiny, and the very least it can do, if spent well, is to return some of Africa’s looted wealth. We should see it both as a form of reparations and redistribution, just as the tax system allows us to redistribute wealth from the richest to the poorest within individual societies. The same should be expected from the global “society”.
To even begin to embark on such an ambitious programme, we must change the way we talk and think about Africa. It’s not about making people feel guilty, but correctly diagnosing a problem in order to provide a solution. We are not, currently, “helping” Africa. Africa is rich. Let’s stop making it poorer.
*Allafrica/Al Jazeera.Nick Dearden is the director of UK campaigning organisation Global Justice Now. He was previously the director of Jubilee Debt Campaign.
President Trump has made it clear that he plans to put an unorthodox mark on foreign policy. While recent executive orders demonstrate that his approach will be characterized by challenging the status quo in many regions, from Mexico to China to Russia, one region remains still largely unknown: Africa. But challenging the status quo on Africa poses some problems — first and foremost will be defining what that status quo is.
U.S. interests in Africa have shifted over the past several decades, from supporting humanitarian missions and security training to human and social development. Recently, a more commercially oriented set of interests urged successive administrations to consider Africa’s strategic value to U.S. investors and companies. What has emerged is an expansive foreign policy that has at different times in different places tended to focus on three issues: security, governance, and economic development. The reality is that most of the time, the United States has had the interest to commit fully to only two of those priority areas. This tendency has sent African partners conflicting signals: enforcing elections in some places, but not elsewhere; encouraging trade and investment, but imposing burdensome and inoperable regulations. Given these realities, the bar for success in Africa is quite low for the Trump administration.
Because U.S. Africa policy has tended to shift over time and has lacked a clear overarching strategic vision, a better approach for the Trump administration in Africa might be to articulate a limited set of principles that clarifies and solidifies a more sustainable framework that is better suited to address fundamental drivers of Africa’s future rather than getting bogged down in contested theories of development and fraught disputes over values. These principles should include prioritizing key countries and rationalizing resources, creating an “Investment-First” policy in Africa, and more clearly communicating our interests and values. In practice, streamlining in this way would inevitably upset disparate interest groups, an established “development set” with strong views, and even stronger backers in Congress.
Prioritize and Rationalize
After fifteen years of converging economic growth in Africa, where virtually all countries saw significant economic growth, Africa has entered an era of divergence, where the development paths of each country and each region differ markedly. To be sure, Africa’s countries have always had different development paths. But the end of the most recent commodity super cycle and the Ebola crisis revealed the extent to which each country had truly transformed their economies in the past decade, and which were simply riding a commodity or consumer wave.
Given this shift, the Trump administration should consider designing its foreign policy in Africa around the fact that it is dealing with a disparate group of countries each at different stages of development and each of different strategic importance for the United States. It should revisit the “One Africa” model of engagement, and re-emphasize the need for engagement with the continent that is more finely tuned to, and reflective of, individual country capacities, historical ties, and sustainable potential. This more granular approach will allow the U.S. government to more adequately align its resources and bureaucracy for the “next Africa.” Prioritizing regional hegemons — such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Morocco — commercial corridors, and major metropoles would be a good place to start. One area that the Trump administration could revisit immediately is the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) partnering mandate. Allowing sub-national entities, like Lagos State in Nigeria — a state larger than most African countries — to apply for MCC funding will undoubtedly do more to advance U.S. strategic interests than awarding Cabo Verde, a country the size of one small Lagos neighborhood, with a third MCC compact.
An “Investment-First” Africa Policy
The shift from aid to trade is well underway. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is already including more entrepreneurship-focused programs into its activities as a way to create a strong foundation for further development. Moreover, many donor governments are focused on finding new methods for incorporating private-sector models into their development programs, such as USAID’s Global Development Lab. The Trump administration should reinforce this shift. But it would do well to shift it completely out of the Beltway. Too often making aid more private sector friendly has simply meant transferring funds into private contractors who tend to fly in and out and often at costs that far exceed their nonprofit peers. As The Economist notes, “CEOs at private development contractors on average earn in excess of $500,000 — more than twice as much as non-profit bosses.”
Instead of bolstering a private sector development lobby with ersatz aid contracts, policymakers should focus their efforts on promoting the next great shift — the one that will take U.S.–Africa commercial relations from trade to investment. Fostering investment creates cross-border linkages that go beyond obvious, high-level government and political ties. It opens new paths for growth that are mutually beneficial to both host country and home country nationals and corporations by reinforcing existing markets and opening new ones, providing ways to create diversified portfolios to mitigate risks (and reap rewards), and creating foreign and domestic jobs, among other things.
U.S. policymakers already have tools to promote the jump from trade to investment. The most useful among them is the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The agency’s utility and necessity have been the subject of argument among politicians, particularly at times of governmental transition. Instead of rehashing the argument, it is time to put the debate to rest: there are few other agencies that can help efficiently allocate limited resources while at the same time encouraging investment abroad. OPIC is a profit-making agency that funds its own operations at marginal cost to taxpayers, and it has consistently added money to government coffers since its creation in the 1970s while being required to have no negative effects the U.S. economy.
Other policies can help engender a shift toward investment if they are reworked slightly. The African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) has enjoyed bi-partisan support as the premiere U.S.–Africa trade policy since it was enacted in 2000. But since AGOA passed, a lot has changed: in 2000, only five countries counted China as their largest trading partner; today, more than 100 countries do, and many of those countries are in Africa. While AGOA helped (and continues to help) propel the shift from aid to trade with Africa by providing duty and quota-free access to the U.S. market, it offers no functional support to U.S. companies and investors adjusting to a new competitive paradigm on the continent. A post-AGOA agenda should be bilateral and investment-focused. Above all, it should be more attuned to the new commercial opportunities and partners, like China, that the continent has.
Part of reworking a post-AGOA framework, should involve taking a comprehensive view of U.S. foreign investment policy and identifying which policies influence which investors where. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is among the least understood, but potentially most consequential for at least one class of U.S. investor — the African diaspora. FATCA’s goals are important — ensuring that Americans with financial assets located in foreign jurisdictions pay their fair share of taxes at home — but the law results in overly onerous burdens for members of the African diaspora with U.S. citizenship wishing to do business and invest abroad. FATCA is complicated and requires enormous amounts of resources to ensure compliance. For Americans from the African diaspora wanting to invest in their country of origin, investments and bank accounts larger than $40,000 have to be reported and audited. Because of the reporting requirements, many African banks have refused to do business with the U.S.-based diaspora, which makes investing in African start-ups and entrepreneurs harder. As a result, many of the diaspora end up operating outside of the formal investment channels, choosing instead to funnel funds through other means. Pulling back FATCA requirements for Africa-interested investors will facilitate more private flows of capital to the continent and go a long way to heading off any criticism the Trump administration may get from cuts laid out in the draft budget to other development programs.
A final way for the Trump administration to encourage the shift from trade to investment is to encourage the development of Africa’s capital markets. Apart from South Africa, African capital markets are relatively undeveloped — no individual sub-Saharan countries have stock exchanges with market capitalizations over $30 billion, and, with very few exceptions, African sovereign debt ratings are not investment grade. As U.S. retirement funds see yields shrink globally,creating new, diversified securities could help American pensioners get better return on their 401K investments.
In this vein, the Trump administration could explore helping develop the continent’s bond market. The liquidity, depth, and scope of the bond market has evolved so much that specific sub-sectors have begun to accommodate the specific desires of investor groups — from Samurai Bonds and Dragon Bonds to Yankee Bonds. Despite the variety of bond issuers tapping the markets for all types of projects, Africa’s bond markets remain on the margins of the industry. Getting more credit agencies to rate sovereigns, or having them rate specific projects — perhaps in infrastructure — would go a long way to improving the issuance of marketable bonds. Even more important is the provision of credit support or enhancements that could secure investment grade ratings of specific projects. While the U.S. government may balk at doing this directly, the multiplier benefits of it doing so could catalyze more investment than all of USAID’s development programs combined. The Trump administration can also address the lack of capital market expertise in Africa by enhancing and supporting the work of the National Association for Securities Professionals (NASP) which is pioneering a knowledge-exchange program linking U.S. consultants and pension funds with African policymakers and firms. Doing so could not only help grow better capital markets in Africa — which can indirectly help to strengthen U.S.–Africa commercial ties — it could also provide ways for U.S. investors to more easily become directly involved on the continent.
Clearly Communicating Interests and Values
U.S. foreign policy can sometimes seem at conflict with itself to the casual observer. Nowhere more conspicuous is that conflict than in Africa, where accusations of hypocrisy often prevent the United States from playing a key role as intermediary and trusted partner. Mixed messages on democracy promotion or governance, particularly the former, can confuse or undermine other efforts, sometimes in completely different parts of the continent. The passing of 1502 of Dodd Frank, or the conflict minerals act, as it is known colloquially, is one such policy. Well intended by its promoters, 1502 sought to reduce violence in the DRC and “Great Lakes region” by compelling companies sourcing minerals from the region to diligence their suppliers more thoroughly so as to redirect their payments away from suppliers that may have been supporting militia. Instead, in addition to being held up in part in the DC circuit court, the act has precipitated a rapid divestment by global companies and led, according to one UNU-WIDER study, to an increase in child mortality around the various “artisanal” mine sites because of the subsequent decline in economic activity.
The tendency of the U.S. government to advocate for issues where there is no consensus within the government itself has undermined U.S. influence on the continent. The importance of increasing investment — helping U.S. companies succeed and improving African livelihoods — is an issue on which most people agree. While there may be different opinions on how best to promote and regulate investment, having an issue that is both of strategic importance to the United States and easy to rally around for foreign counterparts is key to developing relationships that will allow the United States to become a trusted partner. Similarly, as the U.S. government looks to modernize its approach to development assistance, it might more fully consider purely outcome-oriented programs — such as cash transfer programs — that do not prescribe to countries how to go about achieving certain things, but rather grant the resources with which to achieve them. For the United States to be a trusted partner, it also needs to clearly indicate to others that the United States trusts them: it is a two-way street.
Another area where the Trump administration can immediately disentangle U.S. interests and values is in how it deals with transparency and corruption on the continent. Countries that are victims of corruption should be given the civil penalties and disgorgement proceeds associated with any corrupt activities, rather than simply having these resources withheld indefinitely, as has been the case with looted money from Nigeria. Keeping it in the U.S. Treasury achieves nothing and engenders feelings of resentment. Finding ways to return this money while strengthening commercial ties can help to send a message that the United States wants to work together to advance mutual interests. Proceeds from corruption-related prosecutions and disgorgements could be split equally and placed in an escrow account with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and investment-promotion councils in each country having oversight so it is clear that money is not being returned directly to the original perpetrators.
Few things can be as challenging as crafting a policy that anticipates the future. This task is especially challenging when that policy is focused on a continent with 54 countries, each at different stages of development and which, taken together, are changing more quickly than any collectively in history — on any measure: from demography, urbanization, development, to political trajectory. It is why the U.S. Africa policy has been hard to classify. It remains, to this day, a mix of legacy presidential initiatives and institutions, an occasionally overt, but mostly covert, security enigma and an only infrequently interesting investment destination for multinationals. But herein lies the opportunity. This scattered history offers the Trump administration an opportunity to make its mark by promoting a focused foreign policy that doesn’t tackle the entire continent, but cultivates key partner countries — like Nigeria, Morocco, and Ethiopia; that accelerates the U.S. transition out of aid and into investment; and, perhaps more than anything else, more clearly communicates our interests and values where, when, and to whom they matter most.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister and foreign minister, received more than half the votes in the third round.
Ethiopia’s Tedros wins on third ballot
* Offers more geographical representation of WHO jobs
By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles*
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
GENEVA, May 23 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus won the race to be the next head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday, becoming the first African to lead the United Nations agency.
The former health minister and foreign minister received more than half the votes in the first round and eventually won a decisive third-round election to beat Britain’s David Nabarro to the job.
“It’s a victory day for Ethiopia and for Africa,” Ethiopia’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Negash Kebret Botora told Reuters before Tedros, as he is widely known, was to take the floor at the WHO’s annual ministerial assembly.
Six candidates had stood to take the helm at the WHO, which is tasked with combating outbreaks and chronic diseases.
The job has never before been earned through a competitive election and health officials from all over the globe thronged the assembly hall in the U.N.’s Geneva headquarters where voting took place behind closed doors.
Tedros will begin his five-year term after Margaret Chan, a former Hong Kong health director, steps down after 10 years on June 30. Chan leaves a mixed legacy, after WHO’s slow response to West Africa’s Ebola epidemic in 2013-2016, which killed 11,300 people.
In a last pitch before voting began, Tedros had appealed to ministers by promising to represent their interests and to ensure more countries got top jobs at the Geneva-based WHO.
“I will listen to you. I was one of you. I was in your shoes and I can understand you better,” Tedros told the ministers. “I know what it takes to strengthen the frontlines of healthcare and innovate around the constraints.”
Tedros was widely seen as having the support of about 50 African votes, but questions about his role in restricting human rights and Ethiopia’s cover-up of a cholera outbreak surfaced late in the race, threatening to tarnish his appeal.
Nabarro, a WHO insider who has worked for 40 years in international public health, had pitched himself as a “global candidate”.
Chan, in a speech on Monday, urged ministers to tackle inequalities as a “guiding ethical principle”.
“Scientific evidence is the bedrock of policy. Protect it. No one knows whether evidence will retain its persuasive power in what many now describe as a post-truth world,” she said.
FILE PHOTO: A porter transports a cart loaded with empty plastic drums to a recycling dealer in the outskirts of Kenya’s capital of Nairobi April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo
Africa will see a lift-off in economic growth this year and next on the back of a rebound in global commodity prices, an annual report predicted on Monday.
The African Economic Outlook, co-authored by the African Development Bank, the OECD and the United Nations Development Programme, expects the continent’s economy to grow by 3.4 percent in 2017 and 4.3 percent in 2018, up from an estimated 2.2 percent last year.
The report was released as the African Development Bank began its annual meeting, this year being hosted by India in the capital of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.
Modi invited African leaders to a summit in 2015 and has sought to promote ‘south-south’ economic ties with a continent that has a large Indian diaspora but has seen far larger inward investment from China.
The report said that a decline in commodity prices starting in mid-2014 had a devastating impact on several commodity-exporting African economies. Nigeria, for example, which has the biggest share in Africa’s GDP, slipped into recession.
Africa has been worryingly dependent on commodities to power economic growth. The fall in raw materials prices inflicted a significant shock on sub-Saharan Africa as fuels, ore and metals account for more than 60 percent of the region’s exports.
However, commodities have staged a comeback since late last year, buoyed by an improvement in the world economic outlook together with the return of risk appetite among global investors.
If the rise in commodity prices is sustained, the report said, it would trim the continent’s current account deficit to 5 percent of GDP this year from 6.5 percent in 2016.
Africa is expected to witness a marginal improvement in external inflows that are estimated to inch up to $179.7 billion in 2017 from $177.7 billion a year ago.
The report urged the countries in the region to diversify their exports to reduce their exposure to commodity-price shocks and take measures to boost trade within Africa.
*Reuters.(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Douglas Busvine)
LEFT: United States President Donald Trump. RIGHT: President Uhuru Kenyatta
China is set to benefit from a possible pulling back of investment by U.S. companies in Africa under the Trump administration, according to a report.
The number of Chinese-funded projects increased by more than 100 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the Africa Attractiveness survey released on Wednesday by EY, formerly Ernst & Young.
By contrast, the number of American foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Africa fell by 5.2 percent in 2016, although the United States remains the leading overall investor in Africa. Chinese projects also created more than 38,000 jobs in Africa, more than three times as many as American investments.
Since coming to office, President Donald Trump has had little to say about U.S. policy on Africa under his administration. The Trump administration is yet to appoint a head of the African Affairs bureau in the State Department and has made only a handful of calls to African leaders, though the U.S. president did receive Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at the White House in April.
Trump Sissi meeting President Trump meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on April 3. Trump’s meeting with Sisi was his first with an African leader since becoming president in January. Kevin Lamarque/reuters
While the EY report measures private investment in Africa, as opposed to government-to-government investment or aid, any changes in U.S.-Africa policy may have an impact on business relations. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which was instituted in 2000 and allows tariff-free access for certain goods from African countries into the U.S., is one example of where policy and business could collide. Trump has not commented directly on the AGOA, but his favoring of bilateral trade deals over multi-party agreements would suggest a preference for individually-negotiated deals that benefited the United States, not just Africa.
Michael Lalor, the head of EY’s Africa Business Center, says that while he does not foresee a marked decrease in U.S. investment in Africa in the short term, significant policy changes could impact on the likelihood of U.S. businesses starting new investments on the continent.
“A strength of U.S.-led investment in Africa has been the connectedness of investment. Business and government and development agencies aren’t acting in isolation,” says Lalor, citing the Power Africa program—an initiative launched by President Barack Obama in 2013 to bring 30,000 megawatts of electricity to sub-Saharan Africa—as an example.
“It helps to have government and business on the same page…The danger is that this might be a more fragmented approach to investment, versus the approach from other countries—China is a good example—where it is quite an integrated approach,” says Lalor. “It might just blunt the competitive advantage of the U.S. in Africa.”
While the rate of investment slowed, the U.S. continued to be the leading inward investor in Africa, accounting for 13.5 percent of total FDI projects on the continent. The main target for investment by American companies was South Africa, where 28 of the 91 U.S.-sourced FDI projects were based. South Africa has long been a hub of international investment in Africa: It is the continent’s biggest and most industrialized economy. Behind it, U.S. companies also invested heavily in North Africa, particularly Morocco (14 projects) and Egypt (13 projects).
“Counting the sheer number of projects is a rather questionable measure of FDI when compared to actual capital invested. By the latter, the United States remains Africa’s most important partner,” says J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council.
Kenya China flag A Kenyan dock worker waves a Chinese flag during a farewell ceremony for a Chinese naval ship before it leaves the Kenyan port city of Mombasa for Tanzania on October 18, 2010. The number of Chinese investment projects in Africa increased by more than 100 percent in 2016, according to a report. JEAN CURRAN/AFP/Getty
Pham also says that the business acumen possessed by Trump and members of his administration means that “commercial diplomacy” will likely take a more central role under Trump, benefitting both U.S. firms and Africa.
Morocco is an example of where this could be true, Pham says. The EY report ranked the North African country as the most attractive destination for international investors in 2017, based on six factors including economic resilience, market size and ease of doing business. Morocco is the only African country—and one of only 20 countries in total—to have a free trade agreement with the United States, which entered into force in 2006. The deal has contributed to a massive increase in U.S.-Morocco trade, from $35 million in 2005 to $844.2 million in 2016. “American firms are especially well-positioned to triangulate in their business with Africa through Morocco,” says Pham.
China has been involved in Africa for at least 60 years and is the continent’s single largest trade partner. As well as trade and FDI, the Chinese government and state-run entities have undertaken enormous infrastructure projects in Africa—such as a $4 billion, 450-mile railway linking the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti, launched in October 2016—in exchange for privileged access to Africa’s huge marketplace of people and resources and increased international status.
Beijing has also been a huge contributor of development assistance to African countries. At a 2015 China-Africa summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion in assistance, including grants, loans and aid to the continent.
In his budget proposal released in March, President Trump proposed cutting the budget of the State Department and foreign aid by 28 percent, as well as eliminating various government agencies, including the African Development Foundation, which promotes development by investing in African enterprises.
While aid and investment are two different things, U.S. companies are likely to follow the administration’s lead in drawing back from Africa, says Stephen Chan, professor of world politics at SOAS University of London. “Investors will take aid cutbacks as a political signal and one that will lead to possible insecurity in the country concerned. So investors will be more cautious and I expect a decline in the volume of investment,” says Chan.
Such a pullback could mean strategic losses in U.S. influence in Africa and leave further space for China to capitalize, says Chan. “For China, the benefits are upstream in a future where a growing Chinese economy will have grown to need African resources and paybacks from FDI and aid commitments made now,” says Chan. “The Chinese, as ever, are playing a long game. President Trump, at the moment, is playing no game at all in Africa.”
CCA President and CEO, Florizelle Liser and H.E. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Acting President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
Washington, DC – May 16, 2017: Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) President and CEO, Ms. Florizelle Liser met with H.E. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Acting President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and other high level government officials and business leaders on her first official trip to West Africa as part of the ongoing effort to promote trade, investment and business engagement between the United States and Africa.
CCA, a Washington D.C. based organization, is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa. On this inaugural visit to West Africa as CCA’s CEO, Ms. Liser visited Ghana and Nigeria.
Ms. Liser kicked off her trip on Tuesday in Accra, Ghana, where she met with the Honorable Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry. There was a vibrant discussion on efforts to enhance Ghana’s export of value added products to the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), to incentivize manufacturing and job creation in key sectors, and to make the reforms needed to attract investment to Ghana. She also met with Ambassador Robert Jackson, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, and Mr. Yoofi Grant, CEO Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) who shared that there would be a large delegation of Ghanaian businesses participating in CCA’s U.S.-Africa Business Summit on June 13-16, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
In Nigeria, Ms. Liser met with H.E Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Acting President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama, Honorable Minister for Foreign Affairs; Dr. Okechukwu E. Enelamah, Honorable Minister for Industry, Trade And Investment; Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum; Mrs. Yewande Sadiku, CEO, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC); Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, Executive Director and CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) as well as the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria.
Acting President Osinbajo congratulated Ms. Liser on her new role and spoke about potential areas for collaboration with CCA. He emphasized the importance of driving trade and investment between both countries. He also spoke about diversifying Nigerian exports to the United States and taking greater advantage of AGOA market access beyond oil, the importance of Nigeria being positioned in global supply chains, reforms around the ease of doing business, and the progress being made in the Niger Delta.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Onyeama spoke about his plan to drive economic diplomacy and leverage Nigeria’s 114 foreign offices to drive FDI into Nigeria. “At the last [United National General Assembly] UNGA, we were in touch with CCA and we were very impressed with the enthusiasm of U.S. businesses to engage with Nigeria,” said Minister Onyeama.
Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, commended Ms. Liser and CCA for their work supporting Nigeria’s efforts to create an enabling business environment in Nigeria and promote U.S.-Nigeria business partnerships. “Many years ago, when we were starting the Africa Capital Alliance,” said Minister Enelamah, “CCA played an important role when there was a strain in the relationship between U.S. and Nigeria, thus ensuring lots of businesses were kept alive.” Nigeria recently approved the establishment of the Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiation. One of the functions of the office is to drive proactive negotiation in the areas of trade and investment. The Ministry will be the focal ministry in trade negotiations while the other ministry-members of the presidential economic team will support.
Florizelle Liser and Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum, Federal Republic of Nigeria
At the meeting with Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum, Ms. Liser commended his efforts on “7-big wins” in the oil sector and stressed the importance of Africa to the U.S. especially in the oil and gas sectors. The Minister discussed plans for modular refineries. The modular refineries model being introduced will be tailor-made to the Niger Delta and the ministry would support investors looking to navigate the complex business environment. The Ministry also asked for CCA and its members’ support in streamlining and standardizing technology in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. “We look to CCA when we have something strategic to do with the governments of Africa and promoting greater U.S. FDI into Africa. We are in a trying period and we are looking at whatever investments that come into Nigeria” said the Hon. Minister.
Florizelle Liser and Mr. Aliko Dangote, Dangote Group
Ms. Liser also had individual meetings with CCA members Mr. Aliko Dangote of Dangote Industries Limited and Mr. Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank, both of whom sit on CCA’s Board of Directors. On Friday, Ms. Liser was hosted to a special dinner by Mr. Aliko Dangote, which was attended by Mr. Ovia and a dozen leading Nigerian private sector stakeholders to discuss ways to promote greater U.S.-Nigeria investment and business partnerships, and more broadly, to raise the continent’s profile as an important U.S. partner for global business. They also discussed CCA’s upcoming U.S.-Africa Business Summit in June in Washington, D.C. as an important opportunity to showcase that partnership.
CCA has 30 member companies in Ghana and Nigeria – indigenous and multinationals – including leading businesses like Dangote Industries Limited, Microsoft, Zenith Bank, ExxonMobil, Procter & Gamble, Adepetun Caxton-Martins Agbor & Segun (ACAS-LAW), Caterpillar and Afro Tourism. About 15 percent of CCA member companies are African, and Nigerian firms make up almost 50 percent of that number. CCA has a satellite office in Abuja, which is led by Mr. Ekenem Isichei, Director for West Africa.
About Corporate Council on Africa (CCA)
Florizelle Liser and Honorable Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, Republic of Ghana
Corporate Council on Africa is the leading U.S business association focused solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa. CCA uniquely represents a broad cross section of member companies from small and medium size businesses to multinationals as well as U.S and African firms. Learn more at www.corporatecouncilonafrica.com. For more information contact Michaela Ehimika
AU Chair Moussa Faki in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. Tiksa Negeri/Reuters
In April 2017 US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stood up one of Africa’s most powerful people, African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki. Tillerson invited Faki to Washington for a meeting, then backed out at the last minute. Former US ambassador to the AU, Reuben Brigety, called the Secretary of State’s snub the dumbest thing in the world, adding that 21st century Africa has a bigger voice in global politics, which could cost US presence in Africa.
That said, Tillerson’s snub was a direct challenge to Africa’s international position and it sends a double-pronged message.
Second, this proves that Africa is strategically insignificant to US President Donald Trump’s administration. When you add the rising nationalism in Europe to the equation, the continent finds itself in a precarious position internationally.
As such, there’s a clear and present need for African led-states like South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt and Libya to act in concert. These countries have been referred to as Africa’s Big Five.
With the exception of Libya, these states are not only the biggest financial contributors to the AU but they also have the material capacity to lead.
Does the continent have what it takes?
American scholar, Randall Schweller, once wondered why regional powers in Africa – like Nigeria – had not enhanced their power positions by filling in purported power vacuums on the continent.
Other scholars believe that South Africa is just as powerful in southern Africa as Nigeria is in the west of the continent, while some refer to the two countries as Africa’s twin pivotal powers.
But beyond the power-struggle between Africa’s two largest economies, the time is right for lead states on the continent to aspire for regional dominance. This is a sure way to protect Africa’s right to chart its own course on the international stage.
The question is this: can these African countries lead with little or no external assistance? Perhaps, but they would need a steady flow of cash to do so. Unfortunately, in Africa a lot of money is either misused or misappropriated.
Indeed, the Thabo Mbeki report on Illicit Financial Flows shows that billions of dollars leave the continent illegally every year.
Furthermore, it has been suggested that for every 50 billion dollars in aid to Africa, the west gets a return of more than $400 billion in legal and illicit trade. This suggestion makes a mockery of the purported sanctity of aid and support given to Africa every year.
The AU’s Peace and Security Department has a 200 million dollar budget. Despite their domestic challenges, African lead states can meet this cost. And a broader category of AU member states can make significant non-financial contributions.
If lead states boost the union with human and material resources, it could then harness intellectual capital from the Big Five, as well as from countries like Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola, Botswana and the African diaspora.
This initiative would reduce Africa’s dependency on western expertise by a significant margin.
Peace and security
To secure local populations across the continent, African countries have the capacity for strategic airlifts, maritime sea lifts, logistics, and strategic and operational intelligence, all of which are currently provided by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the United States Africa Command.
Algeria is the only country on the continent that has consistently provided military support to AU peace missions. As such, the AU must widen its net to seek military assistance from the Big Five, plus member states like Ethiopia, Morocco, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.
But such a radical suggestion can only be realised if the AU changes its mode of operation. The commission needs to do away with the sanctity of political egalitarianism enshrined in Article 4 of the AU’s Constitutive Act. Big states cannot lead if their counterparts are structurally empowered to frustrate their efforts.
On the other hand, adjustments need to be made to equate politics with economics. To participate in international politics Africa must protect its economic interests. Without twinning politics and economics, African leaders will not be able to lessen the commission’s fiscal burden.
An African concert of powers
Finally, Africa’s lead states will need to form a soft concert of powers. This would be a coalition of African powers who agree to act in ideological unison, with a burden-sharing formula for each common project.
The lead states would promote the same political and economic ideals on the continent. This would mean that although the power index of states would vary, a commitment to unity would be sustained. Critically, this concert would be state-centric rather than personality-based.
Countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Kenya and Angola, which are significant actors in their regions, would have to sign new treaties and memorandums of understanding specifically aimed at building a concert of African powers.
These treaties and agreements would outline a formula for role playing and burden-sharing, something which has eluded African regionalism for a long time.
Moreover, a concert of powers would have at its core a common position, doctrine and structure to regulate leadership, capabilities and contributions. By presenting this united front, external actors would no longer be able to polarise African countries. A central focus of power would also address sensitivities around issues such as intelligence-sharing and trade.
The AU needs to roll back the capacity-substitution forced on the continent by the west. To do this, Africa must embrace reform. If things don’t change, the continent will remain at the mercy of external meddlers such as the United States, France and others for the next 50 years or more.
*Culled from The Conversation.Tshepo T. Gwatiwa is PhD Candidate, Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID), Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID)
Photo: Mohamed Mambo/Daily News Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his host, President John Magufuli, acknowledge cheers from a section of Dar es Salaam residents who turned up at the State House grounds in the city.
Abidjan — Africa, like India, is a continent of rich and compelling diversity. Both continents share a similar landscape, a shared colonial history, and similar economic and demographic challenges. This helps both India and Africa work especially well with each other.
This cooperation is both a mutual privilege and priority. At the end of the 2015 India-Africa Forum Summit, Indian Prime Minister Modi announced very substantial credits and grant assistance which benefitted our relationship. In addition to an India-Africa Development Fund, an India-Africa Health Fund and 50,000 scholarships for African students in India were established.
India’s bilateral trade with Africa has risen five-fold in the last decade, from $11.9 billion in 2005-6 to $56.7 billion in 2015-16. It is expected to reach $100 billion by 2018. This is attributed largely to initiatives by India’s private sector, and here again we are on the same wave length. We understand and appreciate that the private sector will be the critical element in Africa’s transformation.
African countries are targeted by Indian investors due to their high-growth markets and mineral rich reserves. India is the fifth largest country investing in Africa, with investments over the past 20 years amounting to $54 billion, 19.2% of all its total Foreign Direct Investment.
At the same time a transformed Africa is taking shape. Despite a tough global economic environment, African countries continue to be resilient. Their economies, on average, grew by 2.2% in 2016, and are expected to rise to 3.4% this year. But the average does not tell the true picture. Indeed, 14 African countries grew by over 5% in 2016 and 18 countries grew between 3-5%. That’s a remarkable performance in a period when the global environment has been impeded by recession.
By 2050, Africa will have roughly the same population as China and India combined today, with high consumer demand from a growing middle class and nearly a billion ambitious and hard-working young people. The cities will be booming, as the populations (and economic expectations) rise exponentially around the continent.
This is the busy and bustling future that Africa and India must shape together in a strategic partnership. And nowhere is this partnership more needed than on the issue of infrastructure.
At the top of the list is power and electricity. Some 645 million Africans do not have access to electricity. It’s why the African Development Bank launched the New Deal on Energy for Africa in 2016. Our goal is to help achieve universal access to electricity within ten years. We will invest $12 billion in the energy sector over the next five years and leverage $45-50 billion from the private sector. We plan to connect 130 million people to the grid system, 75 million people through off grid systems and provide 150 million people with access to clean cooking energy.
The African Development Bank is also in the vanguard of renewable energy development and the remarkable “off-grid revolution” in Africa. We host the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, jointly developed with the African Union, which has already attracted $10 billion in investment commitments from G7 countries.
Universal access requires large financial investments. By some estimates, Africa needs $43-$55 billion per year until the 2030s, compared to current energy investments of about $8-$9.2 billion.
We must close this gap. And to do so, the mobilization of domestic resources will play a major role. Pension funds in Africa will reach $1.3 trillion by 2025. Already tax revenues have exceeded $500 billion per year. Sovereign wealth funds in Africa stand at $164 billion.
To attract significant investment by institutional investors, infrastructure should become an asset class. The African Development Bank has launched Africa50, a new infrastructure entity, now capitalized by African countries at over $865 million, to help accelerate infrastructure project development and project finance. Also, later this year, the African Development Bank will be launching the ‘Africa Investment Forum’ to leverage African and global pension and sovereign wealth funds into investments in Africa.
Moreover, the African business environment keeps improving, with easier regulations and more conducive government policies to attract the global investors. In 2015, Africa alone accounted for more than 30% of the business regulatory reforms in the world.
The fact is, we have already started to transform Africa. This is the territory of the High 5s: Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of life of Africans.
We can forge winning partnerships investing in power generation, energy, agro-aligned industrialisation and food processing. In doing so we can work on the synergies that exist between infrastructure, regional integration, the regulation of enterprises, employment, health and innovation.
In each of these areas I see the prospect for cooperation and collaboration with Indian partners. For example, we are partnering with the EXIM Bank of India and others to establish the Kukuza, a company based in Mauritius, to help develop and support public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure project development and finance.
India is already one of the top bidders for Bank projects. This is a reflection of its immense expertise in a diverse range of areas from engineering to education; from ICT to railway development; skills development to regional integration; and from manufacturing to industrialisation.
It is our pleasure to partner with such an inveterate and committed investor in Africa. And may this investment be lucrative and justified, and may our mutual interest and cooperation continue for many years to come.
*Allafrica.Dr Akinwumi Adesina is President of the African Development Bank. The 2017 AfDB Annual Meetings will be held in Ahmedabad, India, 22-26 May.
South Africa is working towards allowing all African citizens to enter the country without visas – but at first “trusted travellers” like diplomats, officials, academics, business people and students will be the only ones to benefit.
The Department of Home Affairs outlines the steps that will be taken towards scrapping visa requirements in its latest White Paper on International Migration, which was adopted by cabinet six weeks ago but not made public yet.
The African Union’s Agenda 2063, championed by former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, calls for the scrapping of visa requirements for all African citizens travelling on the continent by 2018 based on the views of the African Rennaissance.
The African passport was launched with great ceremony by Dlamini-Zuma and Rwandan President Paul Kagame at last year’s AU summit in Kigali.
According to the White Paper, South Africa “fully supports the vision of an Africa where its citizens can move more freely across national borders, where intra-Africa trade is encouraged and there is greater integration and development of the African continent”.
It said the current status was untenable. “For instance, on average Africans need visas to travel to 55% of other African countries. They can get visas on arrival in only 25% of other countries. Finally, they do not need a visa to travel to just 20% of other countries on the continent.”
But the White Paper, which moves South Africa’s approach to immigration from a purely administrative one to a security-based approach, warns that the scrapping of visas needs to happen with caution.
South Africa’s risk-based approach “advocates for an incremental removal of migration formalities for frequent and trusted travellers including diplomats, officials, academics, business persons, students, etc.”
The policy is envisaged as follows: African citizens can enter South Africa visa-free where there are reciprocal agreements.
Visas will only be needed when there are risks of foreign nationals overstaying, security risks like organised crime, terrorism and political instability, civil registration risks, i.e. fraud by foreign governments in issuing documents or an unable or unwillingness to identfy their nationals when requested, and for countries “with a high number of nationals who abuse the asylum system”.
One of the countries identified elsewhere in the document as doing such is Zimbabwe.
Key elements of the visa-free regime would be visa-free entry for visits up to 90 days, recognition of visas for third parties, for example regional visas, agreed standards on immigration and border management, agreed standards on civil registration and “sophisticated, real-time risk management, information and intelligence sharing”.
Where visas are required “South Africa should make it as easy as possible for bona fide travellers to enter South Africa”, by standardising and expanding the use of long-term, multiple-entry visas for frequent travellers, business people and academics, according to the White Paper.
A list will be developed of countries whose visa adjucation systems are trusted and recognised by South Africa, and technology will be used to establish trusted traveller schemes.
Free movement of African citizens
At regional level, South Africa “should continue to advocate for a free movement of African citizens,” the paper states.
It also says, however, that there has been a large influx of semi-skilled an unskilled economic migrants who couldn’t get visas and permits through the “mainstream immigration regime”.
These had some negative consequences, such as the asylum seeker management system being “abused and overwhelmed by economic migrants”, and then these migrants, and by extension also South African workers, being abused by “some unscrupulous South African employers”.
There has also been “increased trade in false documentation and petty corruption by police and immigration enforcement officials”, and social cohesion has suffered, “as all citizens assume that all migrants from the rest of Africa are irregular and undesirable”.
There has also been a “revolving door” of migrants returning, and deportations to neighbouring countries increasing significantly.
The White Paper, which has a strong focus on attracting more skilled migrants to counter the brain drain, also announces a special dispensation for migrants from the Southern African Development Community, with the focus on giving visas to skilled migrants, traders and small and medium sized business owners.
Visas for lower skilled migrants will be “quota-based”, but details on this still have to be decided.
Home Affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize is expected to announce details on the new immigration dispensation in her budget speech in Parliament on Wednesday.
It is expected that the new policy will find its way into legislation by next year.
A site internationally renown as a symbol of enslavement will host the launch of an emerging Pan-African movement determined to build a new future for the peoples of Africa.
As part of its continent-wide launch on 25 May 2017, Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity will hold a programme of activities on Gorée Island, off the coast of Senegal. This will be one of scores of activities in more than 32 countries, comprising the launch.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Gorée Island is known as an infamous symbol of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It was from this point of no return, that millions of enslaved Africans were forced onto European ships, bound for plantations in the Americas in the 18th century. Gorée represents horrific crimes against humanity stemming from an economic model based on extreme exploitation and systemic oppression.
But the site also symbolizes the resilience of a people that rise in spite of structural repression. And it is a pivotal place to confront the modern day forced migration of Africans to distant lands.
Gorée Island is a sacred space where Africans Rising will bring together leaders from the continent and the diaspora to launch a movement for justice, peace and dignity. This Pan-African movement is intentionally forging alliances that unite the continent and engage the diaspora.
Said Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan, Africans Rising Coordinator: “Africans from the continent and the diaspora, it is significant that we gather at a site that is a symbol of our brutal past in order to affirm our commitment to peace, justice and dignity and to build the future we want.”
Africans Rising is a de-centralized, self-selecting people’s movement committed to a citizen-led future that builds support and solidarity for local struggles, empowers local leadership and bolsters activists in the grassroots work of building and sustaining movements for change.
The movement was formally validated in August 2016 by hundreds of representatives of civil society, trade unions, women, young people, men, people living with disabilities, parliamentarians, media organizations and faith-based groups from across Africa and the African diaspora gathered at a conference in Arusha, Tanzania.
The #AfricansRisingGorée Launch event begins on the Island at 11am UTC on #25May2017. The programme will include music, slam poetry, and the dedication of a commemorative mural, which will remain a permanent symbol of Africans Rising.
Said Africans rising Ambassador CoumbaToure: “Gorée has also become a symbol of resilience of people of African descent, where, despite the crimes of humanity across the centuries, we return, not to mourn but to celebrate ourselves, our history and the survival of our people.”
Mireille Fanon-Mendes -France, with the UN Working Group on People of African Descent, affirmed Africans Rising stating that, “the Kilimanjaro Declaration is in congruence with the programme of activities of the UN Decade for People of African descent and to be linked with the declaration of the African Union concerning the diaspora as the 6thregion…it is the work to be done.”
To join the movement, click here and sign The Kilimanjaro Declaration.
To participate in the launch of Africans Rising on #25May2017, we ask that you:
Wear an item of RED clothing or clothing accessory to signify the blood that was shed for African liberation, the bleeding of the continent’s resources and wealth and that no matter where we come from we all have the same red blood in our veins.
Gather in a group between 12 noon and 2pm, read out the Kilimanjaro Declaration and a list of demands for changes you would like to see happen.
Turn off your lights between 8pm and 9pm in solidarity with the millions of Africans with no access to electricity and light a candle to light the way for brighter leadership and governance.
The dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here. Sthe Shabangu, Lead: Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship, Samsung Africa Office asks whether we are doing enough to ensure Africa is ready.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 16 May 2017, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Africa is standing before a small window of opportunity to grow future-ready leaders equipped to take on a new era of industry. It will be our ability to come together and develop those leaders that will determine whether we fly or fall.
The tough reality is that radical disruption to skills requirements in the workplace is headed our way as we edge towards the next Industrial Revolution.
Research presented at the World Economic Forum on Africa last week shows that in South Africa alone, 39% of the core skills required across industries will be completely different in three years’ time.
Yet, the Forum also brought forward concerning statistics which paint a picture of a continent that is struggling to develop skills for today, never mind skills for tomorrow.
Indeed, WEF’s Human Capital Index reveals that sub-Saharan Africa currently captures just 55% of its human capital potential, when compared with the global average of 65%.
On the one hand, employers say an under-skilled workforce is holding their businesses back – as many as 41% of all firms in Tanzania and 30% in Kenya. But on the other hand, just 50% of Africa’s school-age children are enrolled in secondary school, and a startlingly low 7% in tertiary education.
The gap between skills required and skills administered is greater in Africa than in any other region in the world.
Radical intervention is needed.
It’s simple, if we fail to adequately upskill our youth, we will be guilty of throwing away the future of an entire continent.
By ‘we’ I don’t just mean the government or education providers, but you and I, the people and private entities who wake up each morning on this vibrant continent we call home.
The good news is that every challenge also presents an opportunity. While the next Industrial Revolution will brings a massive wave of disruption, it also brings the promise of completely new job descriptions which will call on dynamic and exciting skills sets.
According to findings from WEF, our continent will need young individuals who can combine digital and stem skills with more traditional skill sets. Africa is going to need significant numbers of digital-mechanical engineers and business operations data analysts, to name a few.
How do we get there?
The million dollar question is: how do we grasp hold of this golden opportunity to see our continent transition into a new industrial era? I believe the answer lies in the stories that belong to remarkable young individuals like Ken Gitonga.
Ken is the administrator of the Samsung Engineering Academy in Nairobi. The Academy, which was launched in Nairobi in 2014, revolutionises traditional education by providing technical and vocational training for school learners, tertiary students and employed youth.
As will become evident from Ken’s story, the strength of the Academy lies in its ability to provide talented individuals like Ken, not only with the skills they need to succeed, but also to invest back into their communities.
Ken has been making things from as young as six years old, when he built himself a toy car out of wire and wood. He would use sticks, wires and just about any empty household item he could find, to create his own ‘gadgets’. As he didn’t have a lot of money growing up, these gadgets were his toys.
While Ken was given the opportunity to develop his considerable skills by attending the Academy himself, he now uses his talents to help grow the skills of the next generation.
His analytical mind serves him well in this pursuit. Through his planning and logistical genius, he has created a bespoke work station programme that enables students to effectively learn about a particular electronic device. Every day, Ken prepares the course materials needed by the Academy’s lecturers and helps deliver course content when needed.
His is just one of the many stories currently unfolding as Samsung continues to drive the development of skills-for-employability amongst the youth in Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria through the Engineering Academy Initiative.
As a continent of individuals and entities, both private and public, we need to come together to push forward initiatives like these so that we can grasp hold of the unique opportunity that stands before us; growing a generation of talented young individuals ready to take the continent forward.
Together, we can be unstoppable.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Samsung Electronics.
About Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. inspires the world and shapes the future with transformative ideas and technologies. The company is redefining the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, cameras, digital appliances, medical equipment, network systems, and semiconductor and LED solutions.
-With Wheel to Africa, a young American and his friends highlight the importance of people-to-people engagement in US-Africa relations.
Support for a noble cause:Ambassador Arouna with Jason and his young friends collecting bikes to send to Africa
Today Saturday, May 13, 2017, I pulled up into Bethesda Library Parking lot on Arlington road. Bethesda is an affluent Maryland town in the suburb of Washington DC the nation capital. I am here to meet Jason a college rising sophomore in African studies who spent summers in Africa, mainly Tanzania and Ghana. Jason and his friends under the guidance of his parents are collecting bikes to ship to Africa as part of the Wheel To Africa Initiative.
As soon as entered the parking lot I was greeted by a jubilant and grinning group of kids happy to see the two bikes attached on the back of my car. I could not help but to reminisce, back to the day… I mean, way back when I received my first bike as a child and how happy it felt then. Thinking about it, I am sure it is probably a fair statement to say that, these kids look as happy as the people who will soon be receiving these bikes in the continent of Africa.
Upon getting out of my vehicle, I met and greeted Jason Kohn the young men who initiated today’s event, his parents, and a few of his friends, all passionate about Africa. I introduced myself and we talked about their initiative and their passion for Africa while some of the kids unloaded the two bikes I donated and stacked them against dozens of others bikes neatly arranged on the asphalt. I spent few more minutes’ chit-chatting before saying goodbye, and got into my car. While I was putting the key in the ignition to start the car, I murmured to myself, “Jason loves Africa… so does America” before driving off…
In today’s America where most in the international development community are wondering about the Trump administration stance on Africa, Jason and his friends with their good deeds remind us, this simple fact; before there was a government, there are people and there lies the answer.
A strong and stable relationship between the United States and Africa is undoubtedly at the center of the Trump overall foreign relations. Washington’s support to the security of the continent, especially as part of the global war on terrorism is probably an essential part of “making America great again” US foreign policy, however many non-governmental or “people-to-people” interactions such as trade and cultural exchanges as well as initiatives such as Jason’s are paramount. This dependence is expected to remain unchanged in the foreseeable future.
As history teaches us, whether it be slavery, the rise of African Nationalism, or the Cold War, America and the African continent have a complicated history full of contradictions, but ultimately the strength of the relationship lies in people-to-people engagement on both continents.
About Wheel To Africa:
During a vacation in Africa with his mother, 10-year-old Winston Duncan was struck by the distances that people had to walk to find food, water, and medical care. It was then that he decided that he needed to find a way to help
His answer: Collect bikes, because “everyone has an old bike”!
In Africa, a bike is a lifeline to survival for many people. It is often their only means to access food and water, markets, education, and jobs. Winston’s passion has motivated family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances to organize annual drives across three states
*Omar Arouna is the immediate past Ambassador of the Republic of Benin to the United States of America. He answers regularly present to initiatives that touch on US-Africa Relations and is President & CEO GlobalSpecialty, LLC.
$1.1 million were set aside for an upcoming solar energy storage facility in Kenya. The funds are being allocated to Xago Africa, a company known for the development of sustainable energy and infrastructure projects in Africa. Xago Africa will be aided by Alevo, a North Carolina based grid-scale energy storage provider. The project will consist of a 40 MW solar farm facility to regulate energy distribution in Siaya County.
Renewable energy and energy storage projects like this one have the potential to increase the reliability of Africa’s power grid. Xago and Alevo’s work should increase energy efficiency in the region as well. Additional benefits of the USTDA project include expanding Kenya’s horizons in terms of energy storage capabilities and energy reliability.
The USTDA is also working to assist other energy projects in Africa. The group has awarded Power Africa with a grant aimed at developing 25 solar microgrids throughout Nigeria. The installation of these microgrids is projected to produce 5MW of power for the residents of the region. Not only will these installations make great progress in bringing energy to the rural region, but they will also aid in collecting data for a study that will be conducted about energy for rural regions. Understanding this data will assist companies and organizations in understanding how to serve the electricity needs of rural regions.
To meet the needs and resources of the rural communities, customers will pay for the use of the microgrid installations through the use of pay-as-you-go technology. Because many customers do not have the cash up front to make the payments, pay-as-you-go options will enable residents of these rural regions to become involved in the electrification process more quickly than they would have been able to before.
Solar energy in Sub-Sahara Africa is being viewed as an extremely lucrative opportunity for companies involved in the industry. There are about 660,000 African residents who lack access to electricity. Companies are attracted to the region as a major emerging player on the stage of the power market. As you can see, the U.S. has taken an interest in aiding this process through their funding and support initiatives through the USTDA and Power Africa Initiative. Project opportunities on the continent range from large scale grid operations to power urban areas to small scale solar, microgrid projects aimed at powering refrigerators.
Private investors are not the only party poised to benefit from the energy storage projects being proposed. The African countries themselves are being positioned by U.S. agencies involved in the projects to reap the benefits and capitalize on the large potential energy market that is present in Kenya, Nigeria, and nearby regions.
All of the parties involved, such as the USTDA, Power Africa Initiative, private investors, and African governments, share the same goal. To power the region of Sub-Sahara Africa with increased reliability, availability, and efficiency, while capitalizing on one of the largest emerging power markets in the world.
The summit will take place on the 7th of June, collocated at the Datacloud Europe 2017 conference in the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco. This is the prime forum for leaders, innovators and investors from Africa, Europe and beyond to meet, network and do deals.
“Africa is a growth story for the next decade,” commented Philip Low, Chairman, BroadGroup, the consulting company who research and produce Datacloud. “Attendees will be able to hear from and meet the leadership of companies pioneering the evolution of digital networks and critical facilities across the continent along with a financial perspective with the International Finance Corporation and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in attendance.”
The theme of internal data center and connectivity developments within Africa will be explored by speakers from data centers in Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Morocco taking part in Leadership Roundtable discussions.
Companies such as Schneider Electric, Flexenclosure, Etix Everywhere, The Uptime Institute, Minkels, APL, & NxtVn who are facilitating partnerships between the African and European data center communities will exhibit at Datacloud Europe 2017.
“No forum so far has focused on this tremendous opportunity to explain the much-needed data center investment opportunity, galvanize interest and significantly impact the development of digital technologies across the continent. We hope that the Summit will better serve the unique needs of partnership and innovation from Scandinavia to South Africa” said Marcello Brescia, Africa Business Lead at BroadGroup.
Datacloud Europe 2017 is EMEA’s foremost networking and business deal making forum for data center and cloud players, their customers, investors and suppliers. Attracting 1800+ executives from more than 60 countries as well as 90+ exhibiting companies, delivering a unique networking opportunity and a chance to secure real-time deals.
Sponsor and exhibitor opportunities are now open. Take action to assure your participation in what will be the EMEA’s largest infrastructure and IT event including this highly-targeted summit for Africa.
Meeting participants urged African governments to intently focus on growing intra-African trade and diversifying their economies away from commodity reliance in order to reduce vulnerability to external shocks
(L-R) Honourable Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury of Kenya and H.E. Patrice Talon, President of the Republic of Benin
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11, 2017/ — The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) (www.ATI-ACA.org), held its 17th Annual General Meeting today. The sustained commodity price decline and current geopolitical uncertainties took centre stage. Meeting participants urged African governments to intently focus on growing intra-African trade and diversifying their economies away from commodity reliance in order to reduce vulnerability to external shocks. With sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP growth rates expected to hit a record low of 1.5% depressed commodity rates are seen to be one of the major drivers with export producers accounting for two-thirds of the region’s growth.
Set against a backdrop of increased geopolitical uncertainties that could prove challenging for improved growth, H.E. Patrice Talon, President of the Republic of Benin and Hon. Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury of Kenya delivered opening addresses that pointed to ATI as a vital partner in supporting Africa’s journey toward diversification, self-reliance and more sustainable growth.
In 2016, ATI facilitated financing of trade and investments in Kenya valued at close to USD800 million which represents around 1.2% of Kenya’s GDP. Similarly, in ATI’s two newest member countries, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, the company supported USD400 million worth to trade and investment to these economies. “This is a very significant contribution to our economy. It demonstrates real benefit because these financial flows could not have been realized without the support of ATI,” noted Hon. Rotich.
During the opening ceremony, which attracted leaders from the public and private sectors across Africa, ATI announced its 2016 results. The pan African investment and credit risk insurer posted record results for the sixth consecutive year. ATI has moved from being loss making as recently as 2011 to posting a positive net result representing a 36 percent increase over 2015. Among other factors, ATI attributes this success to stronger partnerships with African governments, who increasingly see the value of ATI to their growth and development objectives.
In 2016, ATI’s impact in Africa and globally continued to increase. In the last six months, the company attracted new members Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and earlier in 2016, the UK’s export credit agency, UKEF. ATI also insured USD4 billion (KES405 billion) worth of trade and investments into its African member countries while backing strategic projects such as the USD159 million loan from the African Development Bank to support Ethiopian Airline’s fleet expansion. ATI also underwrote the first deal in a non-member country in Angola in Q-1 2017, reflecting the company’s new pan-African mandate.
During the closed meeting of the General Assembly shareholders discussed the company’s 2016 annual accounts and financial statements in addition to recovery of funds from defaulting member countries, the establishment of constituencies that will accommodate ATI’s regional expansion and election of Directors and Alternate Directors.
ATI – 17th Annual General Meeting
ATI is a multilateral investment insurer that was formed by COMESA member countries with the support of the World Bank in 2001. Since then, ATI has expanded to include countries in the ECOWAS region. The company provides a range of products that mitigate risks impeding the flow of investments and trade to and within Africa. As of 2016, ATI has cumulatively supported USD25 billion (KES2.5 trillion) worth of trade and investments into its member countries since inception.
ATI’s key 2016 results:
Volume of Business Supported Since Inception: USD25 billion (+ 16%)
Profit: USD6.4 million (+ 36%) – On a comparable basis
Cost Ratio: 35% (-30%)
Return on Equity: 3.2% (+ 28%)
Shareholders’ Capital: USD202 million (+ 12%)
Rating (S&P): A/negative
ATI (www.ATI-ACA.org) was founded in 2001 by African States to cover the trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI provides Political Risk, Surety Bonds, Trade Credit Insurance and Political Violence and Terrorism & Sabotage cover. As of 2016, ATI has supported USD25 billion in trade and investments across Africa in sectors such as agribusiness, energy, exports, housing, infrastructure manufacturing, mining and telecommunications. ATI has an ‘A/negative’ rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor’s.
In order to address this new reality, API Events is hosting the 8th annual API Summit & Expo in Johannesburg on August 24th and 25th, 2017
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 9, 2017/ — The African real estate narrative has shifted and evolved over the last 2 years with the impact of geo-political and economic challenges changing the property landscape. Moving forward, investors have come to realise that a more measured approach may hold the key to reaping long term rewards in Africa.
In order to address this new reality, API Events (www.APIevents.com) is hosting the 8th annual API Summit & Expo (www.APIsummit.co.za) in Johannesburg on August 24th and 25th, 2017.
“Africa is facing a new reality, but what does this mean for investors and developers looking to expand their growth and uncover new opportunities? Not only do we need to better understand this new reality, but also how best to approach it, realigning development strategies and investment models, all the while working together with new players in order to continue to develop and enhance Africa’s future property market,” says API Events Managing Director, Kfir Rusin.
Alongside this new era for the African continent comes a divergence in growth paths for two groups of economies. On one side we have Africa’s oil exporters, who have experienced sharp declines in growth, while Africa’s more diversified economies have continued to accelerate their GDP expansion. Despite these differing growth patterns from an economic point of view, the shift in real estate capital flows have yet to fully move over to East Africa, with long term investors still seeing the likes of Nigeria as a key market.
These changing fortunes, together with strict central bank regulations within individual countries, and the volatility of local currencies against the US dollar, have, however, made real estate funding a lot more complex.
“With modest recovery expected in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) economies, prospects for improved real estate funding would increase where there are strong domestic governance policies and strong risk management practices. Attracting capital flows into SSA depends on the ability of individual nations to improve sovereign risk and growth prospects”, said Klaus-Dieter Kaempfer Barclays Africa’s Head of Commercial Property Finance.
The geography of opportunity within Africa has also evolved with French-speaking West Africa, particularly Ivory Coast, Senegal and Cameroon piquing new interest from an investment point of view, while East Africa continues to lead as Africa’s most stable frontier.
In this regard, companies like Mara Delta continue to focus on the long term fundamentals rather than short term volatilities, as seen with their own sustained and increased investments into countries such as Mozambique and Zambia over the last 2 years.
Bronwyn Corbett, Chief Executive of Mara Delta commented: “In addition to taking a view on political and currency risk, key considerations for us are the ability to conduct business in hard currency, the repatriation of funds, land tenure and the ability to raise debt. Based on these considerations, we have identified Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Botswana and Ghana as potential territories for expansion. Our nodal expansion in-country depends on tenant demand, as you need some level of concentration in an area or region to make it economically viable.”
Looking ahead, there will be a definite shift in terms of sectors of interest and asset sizes. The office market has suffered a steady decline across the continent, while the retail sector is expected to continue to move towards convenience retail and smaller, more tailored retail centres across Sub-Saharan African cities.
Elaine Wilson, Divisional Director for Research at Broll Property Group says: “Some investors are getting wary of investing in the continent because of currency volatility especially in the retail sector due to dollar based rentals. East Africa is seeing an increase in formal retail space, however, financially strained consumers will still frequent informal traditional markets.”
On the other side of the spectrum, the demand for bigger and better warehousing space has increased significantly, with mega distribution warehouse projects kicking off in cities like Lusaka, Nairobi and Tema.
In terms of infrastructure on the continent, LAPPSETT, West African rail network and The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are expected to further influence the direction of Africa’s future going forward, boasting huge potential in unearthing new real estate opportunities across the continent in the current year.
The 2017 API Summit and Expo promises to delve in-depth into each of these topics, and more, with participation from over 35 countries, 600 delegates and 250 companies, providing insights, thought-leadership and solution-focused tools.
“Our understanding of Africa has changed over the last decade, and developers and investors alike are now ready to take a more measured approach to the continent, with a specific focus on attaining sustainable growth in the years to come. With this new understanding in mind, it has become vital for all industry players to come together, to learn from their peers, share their own on-the-ground experiences and forge new avenues for real estate growth in Africa,” Rusin says.
Key themes and trends up for discussion at this year’s summit will include:
Trumpenomics, Brexit, African elections and their effects on African real estate;
New debt: the emergence of non-bank lenders and new sources of debt financing;
Will local governments and public sector step up in the drive to make housing more affordable and accessible?
How are Zambia, Kenya and Ghana leading Africa’s logistics sector rise?
The move towards convenience retail or are mixed-use developments the answer to a successful African retail sector?
Overcoming the overcrowding issue: how can African cities become more economically dense — not merely crowded?
Green-building in Africa: uncovering the return on investment;
Healthcare facilities and serviced apartments as lucrative new asset classes?
The rise and rise of collaborative offices and its effect on Africa’s commercial real estate sector ;
Local institutional and pension fund capital fuelling African real estate;
How will innovative technologies impact the way we design, build and operate real estate in Africa?
PwC’s Africa Business Agenda report shows that 85% of African CEOs (Global: 85%) are confident in their own company’s prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months.
Dion Shango, CEO of PwC Southern Africa
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 9, 2017/ — Africa’s CEOs are confident that the outlook for business on the continent remains positive notwithstanding the unpredictable economic and socio-political climate. PwC’s (www.PwC.com) Africa Business Agenda report shows that 85% of African CEOs (Global: 85%) are confident in their own company’s prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months. Despite the fact that only 30% of CEOs in Africa (Global: 29%) believe the global economy will improve in the next year, no less than 97% (Global: 91%) are confident about the prospects for their own company’s growth in the medium term.
Hein Boegman, CEO for PwC Africa, says: “This level of optimism is the highest recorded since we started our research on Africa CEOs in 2012. However, in the past year we have seen a change in the outlook for some countries as external developments impact many of the drivers of Africa’s growth.
“As countries around the globe try to make sense of the increased levels of risk and uncertainty that have gripped the world, Africa needs to continue rising by capitalising on all the opportunities that lie ahead.”
The report suggests that one of the reasons for such optimism on the Africa continent is that CEOs have learned to look for the upside and seize on opportunities that may arise in the face of uncertainty. In the wake of climate of muted growth, CEOs have also acknowledged that while they focus on organic growth and cost reductions, they also need to prioritise investment in new strategic alliances and joint ventures to expand their markets and grow their customer bases. According to the survey, organic growth (Africa: 80%; Global: 79%) and new alliances (Africa: 69%; Global: 48%) are the top activities CEOs are planning in order to drive corporate growth or profitability.
The Agenda compiles results from 80 interviews with CEOs across 11 countries in Africa and includes insights from business. The results are benchmarked against the findings of PwC’s 20th Annual Global CEO survey of 1 379 CEOs in 79 countries conducted during the 4th quarter of 2016. The Agenda provides an in-depth analysis and insights into how businesses are adopting to meet the challenges of operating in Africa.
Notwithstanding the current climate and challenges, it is notable that there remains a significant amount of potential to unlock more growth on the continent. African CEOs are looking to international markets for opportunities, with the US (31%), China (28%) and the UK (24%) considered the top three countries for growth. Johannesburg (36%), Lagos (16%) and Cape Town (14%) are considered the top three African cities for growth opportunities.
Main risks to doing business in Africa
Although the returns for doing business on the continent can be high, so too can the risks. Africa’s CEOs are working in difficult times – finding the right talent for their business, dealing with hurdles that come with working with governments, and managing expansion plans across the continent.
In addition, infrastructure remains a challenge as it lags well behind that of the rest of the world. More than two-thirds of African CEOs (69%) are concerned about inadequate basic infrastructure (Global: 54%) and a stronger focus on expanding power supply is required to solve one of the biggest challenges in the business environment.
Other clouds on the business horizon include exchange rate volatility (Africa: 90%; Global: 70%); social instability (Africa: 85%; Global: 68%); geopolitical instability (Africa: 79%; Global: 74%); unemployment (Africa: 79%; Global: 45%); and climate change and environmental damage (Africa: 64%; Global: 50%). For most of these factors, the level of concern among African CEOs is higher than the global average. In addition, over-regulation features on the list of concerns this year, with almost half (46%) (Global: 42%) of African CEOs saying they are “extremely concerned”.
CEOs also believe social instability resulting from inequality, an increasing tax burden, a lack of economic diversity with an overdependence on natural resources, and corruption remain problems in many countries.
Overall, globalisation has benefitted connectivity, trade and mobility. However, just over half of African business leaders say globalisation has done nothing to promote equality, in particular in closing the gap between rich and poor – in fact, this gap may well be widening.
A number of CEOs think it is vital to address social challenges. CEOs believe the corporate community can assist in spreading the benefits of globalisation more widely. The majority say the best way is to collaborate, particularly with government. “While Africa’s potential is undoubted, its achievement remains in question. Business, government and civil society will need to work harder to turn potential into tangible gains against the backdrop of a rapidly changing world,” Dion Shango, CEO of PwC Southern Africa adds.
Talent and technology
The forces of globalisation and technology are increasingly transforming the workplace. Over half of African CEOs (53%) are exploring the benefits of humans and machines working together in the workplace. Over a third of African CEOs (36%) are considering the impact of artificial intelligence on future skills needs.
In some sectors, automation has already replaced some jobs entirely. “As automation takes deeper root in the workplace, companies in Africa will have to increasingly focus on achieving the right cognitive re-apportionment between man and machine,” Shango adds.
However, as CEOs develop their services, they are finding that human interaction in the workplace is still important and place the investment in talent as a top business priority. Just over half of African CEOs (51%) plan to increase their headcount in the next 12 months. Conversely, 23% plan to cut their company’s headcount over the coming year, with more than two-thirds of expected reductions being attributed to automation and other technologies.
According to the survey results, no less than 80% of African CEOs (Global: 77%) see the availability of key skills as the biggest threat to growth (ahead of volatile energy costs and cyber threats). They are finding it particularly difficult to source soft skills – adaptability, problem solving, creativity and leadership.
Technology & trust
Technology has brought about a number of advancements in efficiency and the ease of doing business in Africa. No less than 91% of African respondents (Global: 90%) believe technology has changed competition in their industry in the past five years.
While the digital era offers a host of opportunities, it also creates significant challenges and constraints in the arena of privacy and security. Organisations are holding increasingly large volumes of personal data about their customers, suppliers and employees. According to the survey results, 71% of African CEOs (Global: 61%) say they are concerned about cyber threats. Furthermore, the vast majority of African CEOs (93%) (Global: 91%) believe that cybersecurity breaches affecting personal information or critical systems will negatively impact stakeholder trust levels in their organisations in the next five years. A high 96% of business leaders are also concerned that IT outages and disruptions could impair trust in their respective industries over the next five years.
As disruptions gain more speed, the ability to ensure trust, security and privacy across all interactions will become critical to businesses’ competitiveness. But almost two-thirds of African CEOs (61%) (Global: 59%) are concerned that they are not prepared to respond to a crisis in their business, should one arise.
“In the face of economic and socio-political uncertainty, we remain confident that the outlook for business in Africa remains positive. But to succeed, businesses need to adapt swiftly to change,” Shango concludes.
Robert Mugabe, 93, has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980
Zimbabwe is the most highly developed country in Africa after South Africa, President Robert Mugabe has said.
He denied that the country was a fragile state.
“We have over 14 universities and our literacy rate is over 90 [%] – the highest in Africa,” he said, adding that the economy was improving.
Zimbabwe has been struggling to pay its civil servants recently and is ranked 24th on the UNDP’s Human Development Index for Africa.
“We have more resources, perhaps more than the average country in the world.” Mr Mugabe said, during a panel discussion on fragile states at the World Economic Forum on Africa in South Africa’s costal city of Durban.
“We have a bumper harvest, maize, tobacco, and other crops. We are not a poor country,” Mr Mugabe added, while acknowledging that Zimbabwe had problems.
Last year, more than four million people were in need of food aid in Zimbabwe after rains failed. The country was once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa.
The opposition accuses Mr Mugabe, who has ruled since independence in 1980, of ruining the economy.
Zimbabwe has faced a severe cash shortage since last year and has introduced so-called bond notes as a substitute for the US dollar, the main currency people use.
Hyperinflation forced the government to abandon the Zimbabwean dollar in 2009.
After Mr Mugabe came to power in 1980, he was widely praised for improving access to education in the country and in the 1990s, it did have among the highest literacy rates in Africa.
However, schools have also been affected by the country’s economic problems and rates have now dropped back.
African countries with highest adult literacy rates
When it comes to business relations and trade between Africa and the USA, there are few people around with depth of knowledge and wealth of experience of Florizelle Liser, President & CEO of the Washington, DC, based Corporate Council of Africa-CCA.
For over ten years, she served with the office of the US Trade Representative including a stint as its representative for Africa prior to departure from Government last year. Appointed by the Bush Administration, she served through the Obama years and even out of government, her professional life continues to circle around issues of Trade with Africa as she serves as the first female President of the CCA.
Though she served in the Asia Pacific Region, and Latin America, in the course of her career, it is not until I moved to the African Region that I thought my true calling had been found, said Florizelle in a recent interview at the CCA headquarters. With a combination of her experience, and the great work done by her Predecessor Steve Hayes, Florizelle Liser is confident that the CCA is on course to write the next great chapter of US-Africa Trade relations.
The start of Florizelle’s leadership of the CCA coincided with the arrival of the Donald Administration whose African policy is still in a state of flux, but if there is one thing she is bent on doing, it is to make sure that the momentum on US-Africa Trade relations is sustained. Citing a litany of programs from the Bush and Obama Administrations that facilitated growing business ties, Florizelle said the CCA will be leading the charge in making the case to the Trump Administration on why corporate ties between the US and Africa should be a priority.
While the corporate background of President Trump may help him see the great opportunities and partnerships that abound in Africa, the broader perceptions Americans have about Africa need to change, Florizelle said. For a continent with all sorts of negative stereotypes, people will be surprised to know that in South Africa alone, there are over 800 U.S companies, there will be surprised to know that there are African companies doing so well in the continent to the extent that there are also setting up shore in the US as well , said Florizelle.
The Administration and the broader American public needs to get the message that if businesses are going to Africa, it is because of profit, it is because of a more enabling environment, and the growing interest of Africans to partner with US businesses, Florizelle said.
In her new role as CEO of the CCA, one of her first major events will be the 11th biennial US-Africa Business Summit that takes place in Washington, DC, from June 13-16. The Forums alternate between the US and Africa, said Florizelle and Washington is excited to host it again after the 2015 summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This will be a great opportunity for the CCA membership to interact with Trump Administration Officials. We have invited Officials from the most senior levels of the US Administration, Florizelle said, as she expresses optimisms for positive interactions between CCA members, African leaders and those who could be key actors in shaping the Administration’s policies on Africa.
It has been 5-months now, since your appointment as CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa. In what shape did you meet the CCA, and what has changed so far under your leadership?
Florie Liser: First of all, I have actually been here 3-months, and I was telling people up until probably this week that I have been here 6-weeks, 10-weeks. When I got too far, I had to change it to months. So, now I am saying that I have been here 3-months. I started on January 23rd and I am delighted that I had the confidence of the full board that unanimously made me the CEO. I am the first woman CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, but I do not think that they chose me for that. I think that one of the things that I bring to the table is my long-standing expertise and experience in terms of US-Africa trade and investment and I think the second thing that I bring to the table is the array of relationships that I have both here in the United States and across the continent. And I’ve been very, very fortunate; very blessed to have been exposed to many, many stakeholders who have shared the vision that I have, which is that the economic relationship between the US and Africa is an important one, a vital one. And that in this new job, the Corporate Council on Africa, is going to build on the 17-years that Steve Hayes was here.
I commend him for the excellent leadership that he had of CCA. But now, I believe that we want to build on CCA’s strengths. I think that we are one of the most successful organizations focused on US-Africa business engagement. We are the only ones in my view that are focused solely on Africa. Other organizations have Africa as one of the areas that there are focused on, but we are solely focused on Africa.
In addition, we have, I think in terms of our successes, also been able to bring together numerous businesses from across the continent. We have African members first, and we have not only large members of companies that are mega companies, but over 50% of our members are small and medium-size businesses as well. And I think that, that sort of breadth of engagement also makes us a bit unique, because we are not solely focused on what is best for US businesses. And of course, we are strong advocates for US businesses, but I think we are probably well-suited and best situated to promote mutually beneficial relationships between US and African businesses.
We held last year I think you know; a US-Africa business summit where we had more than 1400 participants and over 600 companies that attended. This was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. And actually, I was there. I was there wearing my previous hat. In addition, last year we had 6-trade missions, we hosted a range of very senior officials from Africa who came here, including the president of Mozambique, high-level trade delegation from Nigeria and so again, I think that we stand on our past and our history, but we also have a vision for the future.
And one of the things that we will be faced with now as I’m coming into leadership here, is how we work with the new US administration to make sure that the issues of US-Africa economic engagement are a priority for them. We hope that we can make the case for expanding and enhancing the US-Africa business relationship. And so, the issues will not only be, for example, Peace, Security, Counterterrorism, which are all very important, and in fact security is one of our core issues here.
We have 10-issue areas, as you know, which go from agribusiness, to health, security, trade, infrastructure, finance, energy, and power, etc. But, one of the things that we will definitely want the new administration to recognize is that US businesses are in Africa because it’s profitable. Because it is a critical part of their bottom lines as businesses. And CCA is, and plans to be a very strong voice for US businesses who are engaged in the Continent, and also for African businesses which are expanding regionally and also some of them who are investing in the United States. You know, it’s not one way and a lot of times people lose sight of or lose track of the fact that there are African businesses that are so successful that they are investing in the United States. We have our upcoming US-Africa Business Summit in June and it will be our 11th biennial meeting. We see that upcoming summit as one of the first opportunities for high-level officials from Africa, as well as CEOs, and US CEOs to meet with various people from the Trump administration. And we have a theme which sort of reflects part of what I was saying.
We will get back to specifics of some the issues you raised as the interview proceeds. Prior to your appointment, you serve with the office of US assistant trade representative for what? Over 10-years?
Including a stint as Assistant as Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa?
How is this background helping you at the CCA?
So, you know; it’s such a natural progression to come from there, because the major role of the Assistant US trade representative for Africa was for us to promote US-Africa trade and investment. That was my major responsibility and I did it for 13-years actually. From 2003 until I left the US government at the end of December of 2016. Though I had worked in other regions of the world like the Asia-Pacific region, and Latin America, when I moved to the African region, I thought, wow, this was my dream job. I had studied Africa, when I was in graduate school, and visited Africa, a number of times, even in other positions. And so, this was really an incredible opportunity for me, on a hands-on basis, to promote US-Africa trade and investment. So, I worked with African heads of state, and ministers of trade and finance and those in charge of investment promotion on the African side as well as US businesses that will come in to ask questions about where they should go and issues that they had working in different countries. I worked with members of Congress, and I had the privilege of working under a number of administrations. I was actually put in that position under the Bush administration, and then continued through succeeding administrations. And I think that job was a perfect platform for me to come now and work here at CCA to continue doing really a lot of things that I’ve been passionate about for so long.
With this unique experience, in the government and now with the CCA, which is a private entity, you are in a good position to offer an assessment of business ties Between the USA and Africa. At what point are we? Where are things at the moment? What is working? And what is not working and what needs to be done to make things better?
First, I think, the average American citizen would be surprised at the number of US companies that are operating in Africa. There are thousands and thousands of them there. I think, in South Africa alone, there are almost 800 US companies that are there. And so, we are all across the continent. Our business is all across the continent in a range of sectors. We are not just in extractive. Although obviously, we have a huge stake in the extractive industries, we are also in telecommunications, manufacturing, and retail. We could go down the list of CCA members and beyond who are there.
Now, what has changed? Even though many US companies have been in Africa for some time, the landscape has changed and is changing in Africa. You know, where there were many conflicts in the past – there are only a small handful of conflicts today. Where in the past there were governance and leadership issues, today, there are only a small number of countries where we could say that we have concerns about governance. Where it was difficult to identify where opportunities were maybe more than a decade ago, I think today, many more US companies are aware of the opportunities in Africa. It has the highest rate of return on investment there and the opportunities for joint ventures are probably endless.
These are economies that are growing more rapidly than most economies in the world, they have a burgeoning middle class, and disposable income is rising rapidly. They have a youth bulge, which also has implications for the kinds of products and services that are desired on the continent, and there is a strong interest on the part of Africans to actually partner with Americans. Therefore, a lot has changed.
Now, what is not working? What is still difficult in many countries, is the doing business atmosphere. The environment for quickly getting into a country, getting your operating licenses, being able to get access to the right partnerships. These are things, which again, a number of countries in Africa are working on. There are some who have done great in terms of the World Bank doing business scores that are rapidly rising. But, I think anyone who goes to Africa also knows that there are some difficulties in navigating the African market. Whenever US businesses would come in to talk to me before a trip, and they think, “well, we’re going to go there for a week and we’re going to close X deal!” And I think, emm… I do not think that is going to happen. And so, US businesses will still find sometimes that it takes a little bit too long to get things moving and solidify some of these partnerships.
But, because the benefits are so great, because the opportunities are so wide. I think many of them realize, “okay, it’s going to take more than one trip.” It may actually take me numerous trips and it might even take up to a year or more, but I am not going to run away, I am not going to lose this opportunity because I am impatient. So, yes, I think there are ways that things could operate more smoothly, more efficiently, more effectively in Africa, and I think many US businesses would say that. But again, the opportunities are enormous and so I think businesses are buckling down and trying to find a way forward. Even if it is a little bit tough sometimes, even if it takes a little longer sometimes than they want.
As we speak, there is a new administration in the USA, the Administration of President Donald Trump and people do not yet know the direction of its African policy. From your experience in government, and signals you have seen, what should Africa expect? Could his business background be a silver lining for business ties between USA and Africa?
I mean, clearly it could. Obviously, he is a businessman, he understands the benefits of doing business, not just here in the US, but across the world. Because he is not just operating in the US. He has operated in many places. In fact, I was in Lesotho in November and someone was sharing with me that they thought there was a factory there that was even producing some products for one of the Trump product lines, yeah. I did not get a chance to visit the factory, so I cannot definitively say it is true, but I had heard that.
So, what could this mean for the US-Africa business relationship – to have a businessman in the White House? It could mean a lot. But right now, it appears that those who our new President is looking to are largely in the area of military expertise, and people who when they look through the particular lens that they have-I’m not saying that’s a Bad lens, but, when they look through the lens that they have, they see Africa in a particular way. And those issues such as security issues, counterterrorism issues, issues of peace, and conflict resolution; because that’s their sort of area of expertise, I think whenever they put on their lenses to look at Africa as well as other parts of the world, they see it through that lens.
I think one of the things that will be very important to do will be to help Trump Administration Officials and the President himself to take that lens off, and to put on the lens that many of our businesses and members of CCA have. Which as I said earlier, is there are in Africa because Africa is a profitable place to be. Everybody else in the world is scrambling to be first in Africa and to have access to what that market provides. we hope that with a strong voice from CCA as well as our members, that we can push that point, and hopefully have a Trump Administration which in short order will be talking about progress in pursuing on the business relationship with Africa. And again, as a businessman, we are hopeful that President Trump and his Administration will do that.
I think some of them may already be leaning in that direction. I know Secretary Ross of the Department of Commerce, mentioned Africa in his confirmation remarks, I believe, he talked about the fact that you really could not ignore Africa as a continent, and opportunities there. I understand last week, just last week that a number of the Finance Ministers and Energy Ministers that were here met with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. So, I was very encouraged by that and we are hoping for a robust US -Africa economic and business relationship.
As you mentioned in your last answer, “there is a growing competition for business opportunities in Africa,” you have the Chinese, you have Japanese, Indians, in addition to the traditional European countries all expressing interest. How do you make the case for US business in Africa? Why should African countries prefer or pick US businesses as partners as opposed to all these other partners trying to get in?
I actually do not think they should just choose us. I think that the Africans are fairly savvy now. This is not like the olden days where people just moved in and told Africans what to do, and treated them as if they were children. The Africans are mature, they should not allow countries to just come in, or businesses from different countries just come in and sort of dictate. I think that there is so much to be done there and so many opportunities that the key I think, will be to manage who can work with them most effectively, in which areas.
Just as an example, it could be that you know, to actually physically build out the hard infrastructure in Africa, perhaps which is something that the Chinese can do best. But then, if you look at the engineering side of it, maybe that’s something that US businesses actually can provide for or someone was telling me of an example of where in a particular country, they were saying that the locomotives were being provided by the Chinese, but the engines were being provided by the US.
What you’re finding is that Africans are not, I think been forced to choose should I pick the Chinese or the American, should I pick the Americans or the French, should I pick the Indians or you know, I think what they’re doing and I think it’s a wise thing to do, is looking at what are the different partnerships we can have with different countries?
I think, what the US business brings to the table about why Africans really like working with Americans is first, I think many Americans go in with high-quality products and services. Therefore, the value for dollar is there. You may get something cheaper from someone else that is fine. And I’m not just speaking of Chinese, but you may get a product cheaper, but what do you get with the US is in terms of the quality of the product.
The second thing is, I think US companies are also valued for the fact that we are working with people on maintenance. We are not just going to come in initially sell you a product or provide a service and then not build in to that relationship, what it is, what’s required to maintain it, you know. So, what is the point of a road and three years later, it is falling apart, or getting equipment that would not last? What is the point of having, equipment and you know two years later, it is breaking down. Maybe you would have been better off buying what would last for longer. I think we do that.
The other thing is the partnerships. I think that we; our US companies, we are very interested in transferring skills and technology to our African partners. That is not to say that others do not do it, but I think we are particularly good at those transfers of skills and technology. The kind of partnerships we then have with our African partners are a reflection of that. So, those are some of the reasons actually, we hear back from the Africans about why they like working with us. We treat them as partners; we do not bring them in at the lowest levels of the business and leave them there. And to be frank, I visited a lot of factories built and run by others, we won’t say who, where if they left, even though the majority of the workers in the factory were African, the Africans actually would not know what to do to keep the business going. They were not brought in to understand the entire value chain and what has to happen from point A to point Z to keep the business running. And I think that, that is something that I think Americans; when we come in, we bring people in and we have them as full partners in knowing all the aspects of the businesses that we partner with.
From June 13-16, the CCA will be hosting the 2017 US-Africa Business Summit; can you shed some light on this?
CEO Florizelle Liser with PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah L at the CCA Office in Washington,DC
Yes, this will be our 11th Summit. We have been having these summits both here in the US and in Africa. In fact, we alternate back and forth. So, we have them every other year. They are biennial, the last one was in Ethiopia, we had over 1400 participants over 600 companies, I think over 37 countries represented there from across the continent, and it was quite successful. This year it is going to be in the US and we wanted it here. We were glad it was our turn to host. Because, we thought with the new US Administration coming in, this was going to be an excellent opportunity to bring together all of our stakeholders, our members, and many beyond our members to actually come together and to talk about the US stake in Africa, and the partnerships working with Africa.
Over the years, we have had probably over 40 heads of state. We hope we will get a few; these are tough times because you know there are a lot of competing interests. The G-20 is coming up. I think the Africa program it actually happens almost on the same time frame in Berlin, but you know, we are hoping we will. However, if we do not, we will have lots of high-level Officials, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Energy, Health, Agriculture, and so forth. We will also have some doing business in whatever country as a part of it. Some sessions will be on doing business in Ghana, doing business in Ethiopia, or wherever as a part of it.
We are also planning to have an event on the Hill. We have been invited to have an event on the Hill, where we will be having a dialogue with key members of Congress, both from the Senate and the House and from both parties. The hill is so important especially right now. They have always been important, and will always be important. We hope to have a good turnout of both US and African businesses, and CEOs covering a wide range of issues, core issues, all of CCA’s core issues will be touched on during the summit. So, we’re inviting, I hope all those who read this article will hear about this summit and will register, and come and be a part of it. Be that active voice that is needed right now, so that the US Administration can hear from all of us.
You mention the new US administration, and this will be the first summit that is taking place under the new leadership. First, what level of participation do you expect from them? Secondly, it was reported in March that there was an African Trade meeting out in California, where there were no Africans because of visa issues. The Africans who were supposed to turn out were never granted visas to come for the summit. Is the CCA concerned about this development?
Well, I think first of all, you asked who has been invited; we have invited practically all of the highest-level people from the Administration, who we think have a stake in Africa. So, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Energy, we’re still waiting though for some other people to come into key positions throughout the Administration. So, again, at the lower levels, or some of the more prominent folks that we would normally engage with are not even there yet. But, we expect to have participation from a number of US Agencies. We are also having a session that will be about engagement with Agencies of the US Government. And we’re getting all of the highest-level people that are there, from the Department of Commerce, to OPIC, EXIM Bank, the US Trade Representative’s office where I came from; to come and be on a panel that will talk about our programs across those different government agencies and institution. MCC will be a part of it, people who do work on power Africa will be there as well. So, we think we’ll have a very good discussion of what the US ship brings to the table under this Administration, as well as others.
In terms of the visa issue, of course, you know we have to be a bit concerned that, that happens. I don’t know the particulars of why that happened with the California conference, but what we’ve done is, we’ve talked to State Department and we’re going to be working with the State Department to let them know which Africans have been invited and also you know, as people register for the conference from different African countries, we will be sending that information to State Department so that they are aware of these people who will need visas.
And then CCA for our African partners who are coming from the private sector, we will be providing them with visa letters. So, a letter of invitation, which is often needed for getting your visa. We will do that, and we have kind of broadly let people know that. And as I said, we’re just going to work with the powers that be here to facilitate getting our African delegations into the summit. That is the best that we can do, and we are going to hope for the best and hope that it will be positive.
Prior to leaving the USTR, you work with two Presidents one Republican, one Democrat. How have you seen the evolution of US-Africa business relations over the years? Who did more? Was it the republicans or was it the democrats?
Well you know, that’s a great question and I love that question. Now, my experience you know is that under President Bush, a lot of really incredible programs were launched. so we can talk about PEPFAR, to work on HIV-AIDS, we can talk about the Millennium Challenge Corporation, that was set up and provides grants to build infrastructure in Africa, there was a program on malaria and girls’ education and so forth. Then you get to the Obama administration, and he also launched some really effective programs like Power Africa, Trade Africa, YALI, and so on, but here is what I would say that distinguishes them. I think that the trend has been more to move from initiatives the US has with Africa that are more, could more be described as aid, and development assistance to initiatives that are really more focused on trade and business engagement. And so, I very much think that is the trend. My expectation under the Trump Administration is, it will continue moving in that direction.
Another Program that I did not mention, that was very important under President Obama, was the President’s Advisory Council on doing business in Africa; we call it the PAC – DBIA. Very focused on the doing business relationship, the economic relationship, and that one had CEOs from different US businesses there. We are looking to see now, whether under the Trump Administration that would continue, one would hope it would.
He gets it, he is a businessperson, and we expect that to continue that way. But, I think the major sort of trend has been that we recognize that yes, aid is important, development assistance is important, but what is most important, what has probably more of a sustainable impact on Africa is private sector driven partnerships and relationships. Public-private partnerships pushed by and supported by the private sectors on both sides. Power Africa is a good example of that, Trade Africa is a good example of that.
So, that is my experience and let me just say, that’s not to say that we should not give aid. We definitely should, we have some countries in Africa right now that are facing famines , we want to make sure that we provide that kind of assistance and relief, but I remember from many years ago, they talked about how if Africa was able to increase its share of world trade by just one percentage point; at the time, they had 2% of world trade Now, they have about 3%, but the movement of 1% additional trade would actually generate every year, three times the amount that Africa gets in aid from everybody in the world. Just 1 percentage point of trade.
And I use that example, it is an old one. It came from the old Blair report that came out, Oh, my gosh! More than a decade ago. But, the reason I use that is, because it shows you the power of trade and economic engagement. That no matter how much aid you have, if you are generating your economic growth through private sector investment, through greater trade, the production of value-added products on the continent, the creation of jobs that come from investment and from trade, you can do way more with that, than you can with the aid – yeah.
Last question Ms. Florie, you have spent a huge part of your career working on Africa, and I believe that you have done a lot of travel, different countries, and different people…
I have! I have!
What are some of the changes that you have seen?
Yeah, well, even when I first started going to Africa, and it wasn’t a surprise to me, but you know, the pictures that you see of Africa here in the United States, the ‘Image’ I should say, of Africa here in the United States, is definitely not what is going on in the continent.
I went to cities that were vibrant, or growing metropolises even a decade, decade and a half ago, but you do not see those pictures on TV. You see children with big bellies and flies in their eyes and, so Americans typically don’t have the vision of Africa that it is.I’ve been to factories that are producing everything from eyeglasses, and toys, and an apparel and footwear and you know, inputs for automobiles and automobiles themselves that are being produced in Africa.
African countries have the potential to do what China has done says Forizelle Liser
When I see those thousands and thousands of workers in factories all across Africa, producing pepper sauces and all sorts of value-added agricultural products. And I’ve been to cut flower farms, and just you know, it’s incredible places where they’re packing green beans and shipping them to the US and Europe. The image I get is of an Africa that is a part of the global economy, that plays an important role in global value chains and how that Africa is critical to how everybody else is developing in the world too. We need Africa to be a manufacturing floor, we need Africa’s labor. Africa is going to contribute more to the global workforce in the next 20 years than any other region of the world. And you know, FDI into Africa is increasing rapidly.
As I said earlier, the rate of return on investments is increasing rapidly. Africa is a place now where people who are institutional investors you know, from the state of California or you know, people with pension plans here in the US, where firefighters and policemen and their money is being invested in Africa to their benefit. And that’s an Africa that I see today and the potential of an Africa today that even 10 years ago, we did not see. People were not putting their 401(k)s investments into Africa that kind of way 10 years ago, so the potential of Africa to be a fully integrated partner into the global economy is something that I can actually see it. And you know, or read about it and so you know when I hear you know different fans talking about. Oh yes, you know were to be investing these hundreds of millions or we have a call out and you know, the call has been filled in terms of you know, the investment bonds and so forth that are being issued. You’re like wow!
This is what Africa is about today, I’ve been to stock markets in Ghana, in South Africa, in Botswana, and so I look at Africa and I see an Africa which, and let me end on this note, you know; “they are now where China was maybe 30 years ago,” And, if they continue in this direction, to me they have the potential to, not as one single economy because clearly they’re not, but then you know we have the concept of free trade area that’s been launched and where you know, 10 years from now, for sure, maybe we will be looking at it all as one large African market and economy.
I see them as having the potential in individual countries to do what China has done in terms of manufacturing, in terms of investment, in terms of business partnerships, companies that are present there, South Africa, Boeing just opened up an office in South Africa and Kenya, GE has an office in Kenya.
I mean we are seeing a lot of US business engagement there. There is a reason why they are going there. They are not just going to Africa and setting up offices and businesses and investing there because they want to do good. And they do, do a lot of good things, a lot of for corporate social responsibility in Africa, but are actually there to do well. And so, the opportunity for mutually beneficial relationships between US and African businesses in all sorts of sectors and is a part of the global economy is really kind of the vision that everyone has for Africa now. It is certainly not my vision, but I can personally attest to it.
Ms. Florie Liser, thank you very much for talking to Pan African visions!
Emirates’ focus on meeting and exceeding customer expectations both
in the air and on the ground has been with four accolades at the
Business Traveller Middle East 2017 Awards.
Emirates was crowned “Best Airline Worldwide”. It was also named
“Airline with the Best First Class”, “Airline with the Best First
Class Lounge” and “Best Frequent Flyer Programme”.
Emirates invests continually in product developments and service
enhancements. In the past year, the airline’s on-board enhancements
include, newly designed Business Class seats, re-designed amenity kits
for First and Business Class passengers, environmentally sustainable
blankets and interactive augmented reality amenity kits for Economy
Class passengers, and regular updates of its range of onboard toys for
young flyers. The airline also continues to lead on the in-flight
entertainment front with a broad choice of over 2,600 channels on its
On the ground, Emirates completed a US$ 11 million makeover of its
Business Class Lounge at Concourse B in Dubai International Airport,
and expanded its global network of dedicated lounges with the opening
of its newest Emirates Lounge in Cape Town International Airport.
Emirate Africa Network
Emirates Skywards, the airline’s loyalty programme, last year launched
Cash+Miles, enabling members to redeem flights using a combination of
cash and Skywards Miles, regardless of their membership tier. This
popular initiative instantly reduces the cost of tickets and can be
used on any Emirates flight across all classes, making any seat
available to Emirates Skywards members. Emirates also introduced
“pay-per-visit” lounge access, enabling Emirates Skywards members and
their guests travelling on Emirates to enjoy the airline’s First and
Business Class lounges at Dubai International Airport and abroad.
For corporate customers, Emirates launched a revamped Emirates
Business Rewards programme to provide greater value, including easier
Miles redemptions and upgrades even on last minute bookings.
Currently, Emirates Skywards has 14 airline partners including
strategic partnerships with Easyjet and Qantas, offering member access
to one of the world’s largest networks of global travel destinations.
The programme also has 24 hotel partner brands covering nearly 20,000
Earlier this month, Emirates was recognised as the ‘Best Airline in
the World’ at the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for airlines.
The award was based on thousands of reviews Emirates received from the
TripAdvisor community over the past twelve months. Emirates was the
most positively reviewed airline in the industry over that period of
THE sixth Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa presented another opportunity for African leaders, academics and security experts to discuss issues affecting the growth and development of Africa in an informal setting barred from rigid protocol and officialdom. Both the young and old in the presence of presidents and ex-presidents of some African countries brainstormed on how Africa can manage its natural resources in a sustainable way to move the continent forward and provide job for the youths.
It was particularly exhilarating when Farah Nguegan, Ph.D. candidate, International Relations Institute of Cameroon, who won the Tana University Essay Competition with her essay entitled: “African Natural Resource Governance” addressed the audience. She stressed the importance of education and job creation through effective management of Africa’s natural resources to absorb the teeming unemployed youths in the continent.
Participants at the event were not disappointed as those who spoke to Realnews said some of the frank contributions were provocative although their expectations were met. Some also made suggestions as to how to improve the forum in future. For instance, Elissa Jobson, African Union, AU, Relations, who is attending the forum for the fourth time, thinks the forum is unique in making it possible for people to have access to heads of state of African countries. However, she observed that
“It’s got a bit more formal. It will be good to go back to it being a dialogue between experts and heads of state. But even so it’s unique; there is no other forum as intimate as this”.
Ethiopian prime minister at the Tana forum
The two-day forum from April 22-23, started with launch of the book: Making Africa Work: A handbook for Economic Success, co-authored by Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria and chairperson of the Tana Forum and Greg Mills, director of the Brenthurst Foundation, South Africa.
The book is a practical account of how to ensure growth beyond commodities, and to create jobs. It is a handbook for dynamic leadership inside and outside the continent based on the authors’ experience.
According to Obasanjo, the book is the first to be launched at the Tana Forum since it started six years ago, adding that there is no reason why a book launch should not be part of the forum’s future activities. “It is not an academic book. It is a realistic book about what has been, what is and what should be in the future,” Obasanjo said, adding that there is no magic formula for leaders to develop Africa except to do a few things right and continue to do them right as stated by Lee Kuan Yew, former late leader of Singapore.
Shortly after the book launch, another special event: the 2017 Annual Meles Zenawi Lecture Series saw Akere T. Muna, chairperson of the International anti-Corruption Conference and Sanctions commissioner of the African Development Bank group, Cameroon, delivering the lecture: “Leadership in Africa: Reflections on the legacies of the late Wangari Maathai, environmental activist and Nobel Peace laureate.” During the lecture, he emphasised that leadership is not about noise-making but about setting the right example, adding that the passion you brought into what you do as a leader guarantees your success.
[L-R] Billene Seyoum, moderator at the lecture delivered by Muna
This is exactly the kind of leadership Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Obasanjo demonstrated at the opening of the 6th the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa which ended a resounding success. Desalegn recollected Ethiopia’s long standing contribution to Pan Africanism and its ideals, emphasising that Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa is only one aspect of Ethiopia’s commitment to African causes. Also, when Victor Ochen, a young participants from Uganda, observed that the forum did not involve youths who are future leaders of Africa in the proceedings at the forum, Obasanjo readily accepted and promised to correct the omission in future. While welcoming participants, Obasanjo noted, with immense appreciations, that the Forum has established itself as a front-runner gathering in the calendar of high-profile events of its kind specifically addressing broad issues of peace and security, especially as they concern the African continent.
“I personally believe – and I imagine many of you must share my conviction – that with the myriad peace and security issues confronting our continent, the importance of this Forum for the frank exchange of ideas and in the search for creative solutions is assured,” he said.
As it has become the Tana Forum tradition, Obasanjo reminded participants of the informality of Tana and the mutual learning process it provides. “Let me begin by casting my net wide. We cannot but be globalists because whatever happens anywhere else in the world has implications for us in Africa. We must therefore think globally while we act continentally to ensure peace and security in Africa as a crucial contribution to global peace and security.
He noted that since 2016 Tana Forum, some water has passed under the bridge elsewhere in the world which cannot be ignored. The first was the heavily increased outflow of migrants from Africa and Middle-East to Europe and the effect it had on the political and social landscape of Europe. The phenomenon has remained as the causes of migration from the countries of origin are still very much there. The next issue flowing directly or indirectly from migration is what is regarded as rising populism and abandonment of liberal attitude or de-globalisation in favour of diminishing integration leading to Brexit in June last year.
He observed that by “admiring Brexit and using it to campaign in the U.S, saw the emergence of President Donald Trump, who against popular run of the mill became the 45th President of America with his populism, America First etc and the unknowns and the apprehensions about his presidency.
“There is a lot of disquiet about French election. All these cast dark cloud on the horizon of world peace, security, stability and solidarity especially as they are superimposed on the war in Syria which has now lasted more than six years, the situations in Iraq and Yemen,” Obasanjo said.
According to him, “We are moving from the fairly liberal, stable if not totally predictable world to an unstable, unpredictable, populist, world with disequilibrium. There is danger for every nation and for every region in such a world. And Africa by virtue of its apparent weakness cannot wish for such a world where it will be a pawn and a victim especially in light of our current precarious peace and security situation.”
No doubt, the security of Africa to a large extent hinges on the management of its natural resources for the betterment of its people. That is why the theme of the 6th Tana Forum entitled: “Natural Resource Governance in Africa” is apt.
After all the presentations, deliberations, and discussions on the various aspect of the natural resources governance in Africa covering the extractive sector, biodiversity, land and oceans by different discussants, Stergomena Lawrence Tax, executive secretary, Southern Africa Development Community, SADC, Botswana, presented the takeaways from the forum. She among other key issues reiterated that Africa is blessed with countless God-given resources, whereas, the resources are extremely beneficial they are often negatively impacted by poor or insufficient systems of governance. These resources if managed appropriately will transform African economies.
Another takeaway is that natural resources extraction, distribution and usage have social, economic, environmental, and political underpinnings, influenced by both endogenous and exogenous factors. These attributes have generated low-intensity tensions or large scale insurgencies, and are more complex in situations where there is lack of transparency and insufficient accountability and management mechanisms in licensing, exploration, contracting, extraction, and in revenue generation and sharing, just to mention a few.
There is also the relationship between natural resource governance and security which is also affected by the global resource politics, which is mainly generated by the involvement of multinational corporations. This has fueled social inequalities, where the locals have not benefitted from the extractions while the global actors have become grandiose.
It was also said that Africa is over reliant on external support for the management of its natural resources and strategies to address her challenges. Hence she observed that Illicit and illegal extraction of natural resources along the entire value chains benefit a few individuals, and illegal international syndicates at the expense of communities that own the natural resources.
Tax said that lack of, or inadequate benefits that accrue to the intended beneficiaries result in conflicts and, hence, insecurity, which give an advantage to the global illicit players to smuggle the resources. Due to the availability of the infrastructure for illicit financial flows, there is tendency to fuel armed conflicts and increase security threats in order to continue with illegal extractions.
As a way forward, Tax said in order to ensure proper governance of the natural resources, “there is need to re-orient the focus, from the conventional understanding of extractive industries, namely, oil, gas and minerals, etc, to broader natural resources endowments, which include non-extractive natural resources such as land, water, seas, forests and biodiversity. All these have a security bearing and direct impact to sustainable growth and development of African economies.
Obasanjo at the 6th Tana Forum
Africa needs to build the necessary capacities, in both, state and non state actors, that will facilitate proper management and governance of natural resources in among others, contract negotiations and management, enforcement of rights and responsibilities, monitoring and evaluation, etc. Without setting aside adequate funding for this cause, the whole agenda becomes easily distorted because, as it is said, “Those who pay the piper play the tune“. African countries cannot continue to rely on external funding if is to ensure proper governance architecture of her natural resources.
She said natural resources are supposed to benefit the people of a particular sovereign state. This calls for participation of the local communities in decision-making processes to instill a sense of ownership and ensure sustainable use, thereby reducing tensions and conflicts. Deliberate efforts should be made to promote and facilitate reviews of national policies and legal frameworks in order to promote ownership and facilitate transparency and accountability in natural resource management and governance, while ensuring optimal use and benefits.
The SADC executive secretary said that as long as Africa continues to lose its natural resources to global actors, the continent will continue to face discontentment among its citizenry. This will continue to cause conflicts and threaten peace and stability in Africa.
Unlike the scramble for Africa of the yester-century, African citizens have become of age in terms of their knowledge of resource governance. They demand that African resources should be used for Africa’s development, and that can only happen if there are measures to institute accountable and transparent governance systems.
According to her, at the centre is how African national governments can develop a long term transformation ideology and strategy, and promote good governance, rule of law, accountability and transparency.
HE Augusto da Silva Tomás, Minister of Transport of Angola and HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline
Emirates and the Republic of Angola, in its capacity as the majority
shareholder of TAAG Linhas Aéreas De Angola, have announced the
signing of a Management Concession Agreement which is expected to
see Emirates take a role in the management of TAAG. It is reported
that the agreement will lay the foundation for both airlines to
jointly leverage commercial opportunities in Africa and beyond.
According to a statement released by Langmead and Baker (Ltd), the
ten year Management Concession Agreement was signed by His Highness
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive,
Emirates Airline and Group and H.E. Augusto da Silva Tomás, the
Minister of Transport for the Government of Angola.
The initiative is reported to further the Republic of Angola’s
vision to create a world class Angolan carrier with the support of
Emirates. As part of the agreement, Emirates is reported to commit to
As part of the agreement, Emirates is reported to commit to
work closely with the Angolan government and TAAG Linhas Aéreas De
Angola to formulate and implement a business plan, provide management
support and devise fleet and route network strategies, whilst bringing
synergy through the complementary networks. Emirates is also reported
not to contribute equity under the agreement but will appoint four
senior managers to work for TAAG Linhas Aéreas De Angola.
Both airlines are also expected to cooperate across a wide range of
areas including bilateral code-sharing on cargo and passenger
services, participation of customers in both airlines’ frequent flyer
programmes and passenger and cargo handling. Emirates has also
committed to allocate its resources to staff and crew training on
best-in-class business and operational processes and systems.
It is further reported that TAAG Linhas Aéreas De Angola will
additionally explore business opportunities with dnata, in particular
its passenger and cargo handling, flight catering and travel services.
dnata, part of the Emirates Group, is the largest provider of air
travel services in the Middle East and employs about 23,000 staff in
H.H. Sheikh Ahmed said, “Through this partnership Emirates aims to
provide deeper reach and better connectivity for our passengers in
Central and Southern Africa. At the same time, we see an opportunity
for TAAG Linhas Aéreas De Angola passengers to benefit from Emirates’
We see huge potential in Africa, and are keen to continue playing an
active role in contributing to its economies. Emirates will continue
growing our presence in Africa by opening new routes, increasing
flight frequencies, and upgrading aircraft to meet the increasing
demand. Exploring mutually beneficial agreements with established
carriers such as TAAG Linhas Aéreas De Angola is another key strategy.
We believe this new partnership will build on the success that we have
seen on our Dubai-Luanda service, and also deliver operational and
business synergies for both airlines.”
H.E. Augusto da Silva Tomás, the Minister of Transport for Government
of Angola said “The signing of this agreement marks a very decisive
step towards the restructuring of TAAG. With Emirates, our new
partner and a leader in the world of civil aviation, equipped with
know-how, technology and experience, TAAG is starting a new era of
growth and progress which will also positively impact the development
Angola is Africa’s second largest oil producer with a strong mining
sector, and is one of the fastest growing economies in the world,
making it an attractive business destination. Emirates’ first point in
Africa was Cairo, launched in 1986, and the airline has since grown a
strong presence on the African continent, serving 22 passenger
destinations today: Abidjan, Accra, Addis Ababa, Cairo, Cape Town,
Casablanca, Dakar, Dar el Salaam, Durban, Entebbe, Johannesburg,
Khartoum, Lagos, Luanda, Nairobi, Tripoli, Tunis, Harare, Lusaka,
Conakry, Algiers and Abuja.
It is also reported that as African economies continue to flourish
and develop, Emirates is being well placed to contribute to this
growth, by providing valuable air links that enable trade and tourism
flows. Emirates operates over 160 flights across the continent each
week, connecting African economies and markets with Dubai and beyond
to a global network of over 140 major cities.
Emirates currently flies daily to Luanda, Angola’s capitol. EK 793
leaves Dubai at 1005hrs and arrives in Luanda at 1500hrs. The return
flight, EK 794, departs Luanda at 1800hrs, touching down in Dubai
eight hours later at 0510hrs.
It is also reported that the agreement will only take effect after a
number of conditions have been satisfied, including the receipt of
various government and regulatory approvals.