World Bank Review Reveals a Weakening of Policy and Institutional Performance in Africa
July 26, 2017 | 0 Comments
OUAGADOUGOU, July 24, 2017-The quality of policies and institutions weakened in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016 amid challenging economic conditions, according to the latest review by the World Bank. This weaker trend was observed in 40% of the region’s IDA countries, notably commodity exporters and fragile states.
The African trade revolution quietly afoot
July 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
In a tumultuous year for the global trading landscape, negotiations for a huge Africa-wide free trade area are progressing rapidly.
BY DAVID LUKE*
Across the developed world, longstanding advocates of free trade are in retreat. America has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and stepped back from the World Trade Organisation. Meanwhile, a crisis is brewing at the heart of the European single market.
Recognition has grown that the inequalities generated by trade are not being sufficiently addressed. And this has fuelled an anti-trade populism.
Noting these tumultuous trends, international institutions from the OECD to the International Monetary Fund and G20 have sought to reaffirm the benefits of trade and argued against protectionism.
A quiet revolution
Set against this uproar, an African trade revolution is also quietly afoot. The innovation is the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). A boldly ambitious endeavour, the CFTA seeks to combine the economies of 55 African states under a pan-African free trade area comprising 1.2 billion people in a market with a combined GDP of $2.19 trillion.
Announced in 2012 by the African Union (AU) heads of state and government, the CFTA is the first flagship initiative of the AU’s Agenda 2063. It will reduce tariffs between African countries, introduce mechanisms to address the often more substantial non-tariff barriers, liberalise service sectors, and facilitate cross-border trade. This will also help rationalise the overlapping free trade areas that already exist within Africa.
The CFTA negotiations are complex. The 55 participating countries span a diversity of economic and geographic configurations. 15 are landlocked, while 6 are Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The biggest (Nigeria) has a GDP of $568 billion, while the smallest (Sao Tome & Principe) a GDP of just $337 million.
Many outside observers have been quick to cast pessimism upon the project. This is not just because of the challenging world trade environment and complexity of negotiations, but Africa’s history of trade negotiations.
In particular, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the European Union and African regional economic communities have proved an infamous failure. Despite 14 years of negotiations, only one EPA – that with Southern Africa – has been concluded.
With expectations low, the rapid progress in the CFTA negotiations is therefore all the more remarkable. The first negotiating forum was launched in February 2016. Since then, five more negotiating rounds have been concluded.
The most recent, held in Niger, determined modalities for trade in goods and services. It also pronounced a level of ambition to liberalise 90% of tariff lines – substantially more than aspired to in the EPAs – and establish a review mechanism to gradually lift this further.
The remainder of 2017 will see technical working group meetings and two more negotiating rounds to refine market access offers and the legal text of the agreement. The intention is to finish negotiations by the end of this year.
One African chief negotiator commenting at the last negotiating round remarked that he had “never seen negotiations move so rapidly”.
Boosting intra-African trade
These impressive achievements are being realised by political commitment at the highest level and a pan-African resolve to cooperate and compromise. Pan-Africanist forefathers like Kwame Nkrumah would be proud.
Success also derives from a shared belief in the project. Studies by the UN Economic Commission for Africa and UNCTAD identify the potential for the CFTA to boost intra-African trade. This would help diversify Africa’s exports away from a dependence on commodities that is little changed since colonial times.
Intra-African trade is substantially more diversified than Africa’s trade with the outside world. It comprises a greater share of value-added and industrial products such as textiles, cement, soap, pharmaceuticals, and even automobiles from South Africa as well as primary and processed food items. Services such as banking, telecoms, energy and transport are also being traded across borders. The CFTA forms part of an African strategy for industrialising through trade.
It could also help piece together Africa’s small fragmented markets to realise economies of scale necessary for industrial investment and growth. Niger’s President Issoufou Mahamadou, the African Union Champion for the CFTA, recently lamented looking upon a map of Africa as a “broken mirror”. The CFTA can help to fix this.
Making it a win-win
The CFTA, however, is no panacea. It must be accompanied by investments in infrastructure, energy and trade facilitation.
This is critical if sufficient jobs are to be created for Africa’s youth. 60% of Africa’s population is 24 or below and about to enter the workforce. Yet a shortage of opportunities contributes to high youth unemployment, poverty rates approaching 70%, and pressures to migrate.
It is also important not to overlook the origins of populist sentiment against free trade elsewhere in the world. Trade produces both winners and losers. The problem is that while gains can compensate losses in theory, that is not happening in practice.
Recognition of this has fuelled rethinking of trade policy across the world. For instance, the Canada-European Union trade agreement (CETA) was reworked following the election of the Trudeau administration to better reflect a new “progressive trade policy”.
The CFTA must likewise be crafted as a win-win agreement that leaves no one behind. Here, the UN Economic Commission for Africa has undertaken a human rights impact assessment of the initiative and advocated for a number of supporting measures.
This includes strategies to protect small-holder farmers and help them integrate into regional agricultural value chains. It calls for improving border controls to help informal cross-border traders, many of whom are women and major players in intra-African trade.
It also demands an approach that benefits Africa’s diversity of countries, including those which are small, island economies, landlocked or fragile states. One way to achieve this is by supporting initiatives for regional value chains and connectivity that have proven successful in Africa’s regional economic communities.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Light shines at the end of the tunnel for the CFTA, but obstacles remain. Implementation is a key but persistent challenge on the continent. To quote Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former Chairperson of the AU Commission, “I don’t think Africa is short of policies. We have to implement. That is where the problem is”.
The commitment and belief shown in the CFTA by African leaders must be seen through for the benefits of the CFTA to be realised.
The reward would appear to be worth it. Africa’s consumer market is the fastest growing in the world. In just over 30 years from now, by 2050, it will comprise a population larger than that of India and China combined. This is the right time to seize the opportunities generated by such a large market.
*African Arguments.David Luke is Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
21 Next Generation African Leaders Announced as Winners of the Resolution Social Venture Challenge
July 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
IGD Launches Inaugural “Making Farming Cool!” Podcast Series
July 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
Produced by Afropop Worldwide, a Peabody award-winning radio program and online magazine dedicated to music from Africa and the African diaspora, Cameroonian-born veteran broadcaster Georges Collinet will host the podcast series. The podcast series is a component of the Africa Investment Rising (AIR) campaign, IGD’s dynamic communications and advocacy effort.
Agriculture is the engine driving in many African economies. While job opportunities exist in the agricultural value chain, young people are largely not entering the agriculture sector.
An estimated 25 million young people are expected enter the job market each year in Africa by 2025. To absorb the new entrants in the labor force, more than 10 million new jobs per year will have to be created in rural areas in the next two decades, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
“We’re thrilled to launch the ‘Making Farming Cool!’ podcast series,” said Mima S. Nedelcovych, IGD President. “The podcast series has a youthful vibe and will feature compelling interviews with private sector leaders and experts working in agriculture to draw attention to the tremendous business opportunities for growth and innovation in the agriculture sector.”
In the first episode, host Georges Collinet will take listeners on a captivating journey through South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province to meet Siehle Zealous Sibisi, a 28-year-old who manages his family’s successful sugarcane farm, TBS Holdings, which produces 30,000 tons of sugar a year. TBS Holdings is a supplier of IGD Frontier Leader Illovo Sugar Group. Listeners will also hear about how the family business is a successful model of South Africa’s post-apartheid land restitution program.
IGD Frontier Leaders listened to a preview of the a podcast episode featuring Dr. Abdu Mukhtar, Group Chief Strategy Officer of Dangote Industries Limitedduring a May 5 evening reception at the Frontier 100 Forum in Durban, South Africa.
The podcast series will roll out new episodes of “Making Farming Cool!” on the Afropop Worldwide website at http://www.afropop.org/37720/making-farming-cool/. New episodes will be released in September and October.
The podcast series will be distributed through IGD’s media partners and initially broadcast in three target media markets: Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. The series will also be distributed in the U.S. through Afropop Worldwide.
Marrakech to host The World Premier high-level dialogue of leaders on Women, Agriculture and Sustainable Development September 11- 12, 2017 at the Four Seasons Hotel, Marrakech, Morocco
July 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Believe in Africa has chosen Morocco, the picturesque “Western Kingdom – a place the sun sets,” for this year’s “Woman and Agriculture” conference. Hosting this conference in the Africa continent closer to home will bring together a cross-fertilization of ideas and home grown solutions from more than 500 delegates representing the diverse face of leading Africans in politics, business, regional/international experts in financing, technology and innovation, climate change and access to markets, including the voices of members of non-governmental organizations and institutions. By bringing people together, BIA 2017 will be the place where the pivotal role African women play, and contribute, in agriculture and sustainable development will be discussed and honoured.
“Our choice of Morocco is not fortuitous. With the efforts deployed by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, King of Morocco with his clear vision and leadership in advancing African economic integration and enhancing the collaboration between, and within, African countries, was the inspiration behind our decision to choose Morocco for this year’s conference, for the first time in the African continent, “said Mrs. Angelle KWEMO, president of the association and president of the Congress. She added that “Women and Agriculture” wishes to create a platform to empower women.
“Morocco is one of the most economically dynamic African countries. Geographically, and strategically located, Morocco is a bridge to Europe and the U.S. for Africa and a leader for South-South trade. It is certain that during this Congress we will learn a lot from the Moroccan experience in developing and expanding its agriculture sector. With the strong support of our conference partner, the OCP Group, world leader in phosphates and derivatives production, this conference will bring visibility to women who work daily in fields across Africa, concludes Mrs. Kwemo.
Another partner is the United Nations Women organization and BEYA Capital, a pioneer Casablanca-based climate investment and advisory firm that joined several global partners to organize the innovative Global Climate Finance Action Summit 2016 (GCFA 2016) during COP22. GCFA Summit made history by convening high-level international public and private sector leaders to discuss scaling actionable solutions to unlock climate finance flows towards developing countries, with a particular focus on Africa. Mustapha MOKASS, Founder & CEO of BEYA Capital stated “Women are the backbone of Africa food security and Climate change mitigation. Empowering them equals empowering the world”. He added “we are proud to join Believe in Africa in this historical event to showcasing concrete financial solutions to African women entrepreneurs’ projects to Climate Change Adaptation as a prelude to the upcoming gathering of GCFA Investors Platform on September 18/19 during NY Climate Week and during upcoming COP23 in Bonn (Germany).”
To drive our stimulating BIA 2017 agenda, we welcome our strategic partners, Washington Media Group, Reseau des Femmes Artisanes du Maroc (RESFAM), Africa 24 TV, Forbes Africa, AllAfrica.com, Horizon Africa, Inside Consulting … and others will soon be joining us in moving our agenda forward.
Believe in Africa (www.believeinafrica.org) is an African diaspora-led initiative founded by former U.S. congressional staffers and African leaders in the U.S. to empower Women and young Africans, to harness the power of the African Diaspora, educate policy makers and the public about African economic growth and highlight the continent’s gradual rise in the global community.
Africa: Tribute to Babacar Ndiaye – Titan of Africa
July 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Harold E. Doley, Jr*
New Orleans — The Greek mythological Titan of Forethought, Prometheus, dared to disobey Zeus’ wishes by sharing fire and heat with humanity. His punishment was to be shackled to the Caucasus Mountains (The derivation of Caucasian comes from the people of the Caucasus Mountains.).
This humane act for humankind led to eternal condemnation. Each day, the eagles ate Prometheus’s organs, but because he was a Titan (i.e. god), the organs grew back. Prometheus endured this daily fate until Hercules broke his chains.
Babacar Ndiaye, who passed away in Dakar yesterday, lived the life of Prometheus. He did what he knew was right and paid the price many times over.
Many people that he helped throughout his life hurt him and hurt him dearly. I personally saw him reconcile with each one of those people, even though just one of those blows could have been mortal.
Babacar was a religious man who knew the Koran as well as the Old and New Testaments and understood that we are all One. He recognized that Ishmael, Abraham’s first son, was the forbearer of Islam. He knew the Old Testament teachings that Noah son Ham’s descendants are Black, cursed to always be the servant of servants (slaves). In the New Testament, Babacar liked to point out that two men carried the cross to Calvary, Jesus and Simon of Cyrene, a black man.
God and history created Babacar, who was a compilation of Prometheus, Ishmael, Ham and Simon of Cyrene.
Bababcar is recognized for his decade (1985-1995) as president of the African Development Bank (AfDB). What is lesser known is that he orchestrated the quadrupling of the capital of that Bank and that he secured the first AAA rating for an African institution or sovereign country. He also was instrumental in creating Shelter Afrique, the African Export-Import Bank and the African Business Roundtable.
One little known anecdote is that – when the superpowers agreed in 1991 that the next Secretary General of the United Nations should be an African – Babacar Ndiaye was next in line for the position, had Boutros Boutros-Ghali not prevailed following a stalemate in the voting. Another unknown gem is that Babacar was asked by Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi to deliver his wish to Washington to reconcile with the United States.
Perhaps most important was Babacar’s behind-the-scenes contribution to ending apartheid. In 1985, the year Babacar became AfDB President, Hughlyn Fierce, senior executive vice president of Chase Bank in New York, won approval for the Bank to refuse to renew the debt of South Africa. This decision immediately put the white government in default, forcing the closure of the foreign currency exchange window and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
Less than 60 days later, President P.W. Botha gave his Rubicon speech in Durban and spoke of the ‘new’ South Africa. Within a matter of weeks, Nelson Mandela was moved from prison to a halfway house, and the lengthy negotiations that led to the country’s first non-racial elections in 1994 were underway.
Babacar quietly supported Chase Bank in extraordinary ways, and It was the cooperation of these two men of color – Fierce and Ndiaye – which helped to bring about this remarkable change.
Throughout his career, Babacar handled tens of billions of dollars. Yet he did not die a wealthy man in monetary terms. What he accomplished was to do his job extraordinarily well.
Now that his earthly chains have been broken, we need not cry for Babacar. We should, however, mourn the fact that Africa has lost a great titan to whom we all are indebted..
*Allafrica.Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr. (Ret.) was the first U.S. Executive Director to the African Development Bank and Fund.
South Africa: Lies Were Used to Oust Me – Mbeki
July 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
Former president Thabo Mbeki has resurrected the ghosts of the ANC’s elective conference in Polokwane, saying lies were used to oust him.
Mbeki was speaking during a more than two-hour interview with Gauteng-based radio station Power FM on Thursday night. He said the “habit of telling lies” had crept into the party at the 2007 conference.
“A lot of what happened at that conference was based on lies. Lies were told to Juju [Julius Malema] by people. He had no reason to disbelieve it and, quite correctly, he acted on the lies. And then he discovers much later that he was lied to,” Mbeki said, to the amusement of the audience.
Malema was one of those who led Jacob Zuma’s presidential campaign, alongside former Cosatu president Zwelinzima Vavi and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande.
Both Malema and Vavi have since apologised for their campaign, while Nzimande has said he felt betrayed by Zuma.
Mbeki was running for a third term as ANC president in 2007, but faced a bruising defeat to his then deputy, Zuma.
Mbeki had fired Zuma in 2006, after he was implicated during the fraud and corruption trial of his financial advisor, Schabir Shaik.
Malema, who was in the audience, backed Mbeki and said they had been “misled”.
‘Zuma was corrupt’
Zuma, at the time, faced 783 charges, stemming from the 1999 arms deal. The DA has been waging an eight-year battle to have the charges reinstated after then-National Prosecuting Authority boss Mokotedi Mpshe dropped the charges against Zuma.
Mbeki said the watershed conference had refused to discuss his political report that detailed the problems which were plaguing the ANC today.
He said the same problems were now contained in secretary general Gwede Mantashe’s diagnostic report delivered at the party’s policy conference last week.
Mantashe’s report talked about state capture by the Gupta family, factionalism and gatekeeping. Mbeki said that Mantashe had, however, failed to address the use of “lies to achieve particular objectives”.
Mbeki said he had warned in his 2007 political report that the ANC risked losing support.
“I say that in 2012, we going to celebrate centenary of ANC. We must be careful that we are not the only people who celebrate that centenary, and the rest of country stays away because of our misbehaviour.
“They didn’t want to discuss it because a lot of what happened at that conference was based on lies,” Mbeki said at the time.
*Source Allafrica/ News24
Zambia: Where Is Zambia’s President Heading?
July 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Dewa Mavhinga*
It seems like Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu is seeking to consolidate his power.
Just last week, he seized on the fact that an arsonist had torched the capital Lusaka’s main market, to declare a state of threatened emergency. The declaration, among other things, allows police to ban public meetings and impose travel restrictions, actions that suppress dissent.
The parliament voted to approve these emergency powers. But in June, the parliament suspended 48 members of parliament from the opposition United Party for National Development for a month without pay for refusing to attend an address by Lungu. These members had no chance to vote on the emergency powers.
That month, opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema – who narrowly lost both the 2015 by-election and 2016 presidential election to Lungu – was arrested and charged with treason. Treason is a non-bailable offense in Zambia, carrying a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of a death sentence. The official police statement alleges that Hichilema showed “unreasonable, reckless and criminal” behavior toward the president and caused “unnecessary anarchy.” Yet the charges relate to a traffic violation, at best, as Hichilema’s motorcade failed to ease passage for the presidential motorcade. There was no altercation or collision and no injuries were reported.
Around that time, we were part of a Human Rights Watch team that visited Zambia. Many of the people we met worried about the dark clouds of political intolerance. They feared it could threaten the country’s multi-party politics, introduced in 1991 after nearly three decades of dictatorship, and its legacy of peaceful elections and transitions of power.
Because the government is considering leaving the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Lungu called for popular consultations to decide if the country should make this move. An overwhelming 93.3 percent of people who participated in the consultations said they supported remaining with the ICC. We were there to see that the government officially reported and committed to abiding by the consultation results. We were heartened to see how much the people of Zambia cared about justice.
Lungu should keep in mind that stripping people of their rights will not solve Zambia’s problems. It will only make them worse.
*Human Rights Watch/All Africa
China focuses on its military footprint in Africa, setting stage for new rivalry with West
July 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Fabio Scala*
While the United States is scaling back its international positions amid a significant reduction in State Department’s budget that will affect international aid, another superpower, China, is working to substantially increase its international engagement.
For years China has been spending enormous sums of money buying political influence, including in Africa. But China is now revving up its military engine, looking to step up where opportunities allow it amid an uncertain commitment from the West.
One of China’s top geographical priorities is Africa. This is because Beijing sees an opening, as Africa is being neglected by both Europe and the United States. For the West, the continent is always analyzed through the lenses of illegal migration, terrorism, and the extraction industry. The continent is largely seen first as a source of problems, and rarely an opportunity. China too has been focusing on natural resource acquisition, but it has also committed investments and manpower to build infrastructure and export its technical capabilities to its African partners. As these investments expand, Beijing is now seeking to protect the billions it already committed in the continent by flexing its military muscles.
The Chinese military has been on overdrive these past days. In the Mediterranean, on the northern tip of the African continent, the Chinese navy is conducted live-firing drills this week. It committed a destroyer, a frigate and a support ship in drills that took place on July 10. The group is headed next to Russia, where it will join its Russian counterpart in St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad to perform joint exercises.
This week also, China is inaugurating its military base in the strategically located Djibouti, a country transformed into an open military fortress for many foreign forces, include those of France, Italy, Japan, the Unite States, and soon Turkey and Saudi Arabia. China argues that its Djibouti presence will be for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid in Africa, but rivalry with the US and the protection of Chinese assets and investments in East Africa, and elsewhere in the continent are critical drivers to China’s military focus there. This week, several navy ships left the port city of Zhanjiang in China’s southern Guangdong province, headed to the small port of Obock, in the of the Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti. The port is linked to the Gulf of Aden, allowing it easy reach to the troubled Middle East.
China’s presence in Africa is pretty ubiquitous, and that includes the Southern Africa region too. Also this week, the Chinese military made a symbolic gesture to Mozambique when it pledged $18 million to build new Mozambican Armed Forces barracks in Maputo. The gesture is symbolic indeed, but there are major implications on the long run in the aftermath of the high-profile visit of Chang Wanquan, the Chinese Defense Minister to Maputo. During the visit, the two parties highlighted China’s commitment to training Mozambican soldiers, but they are also planning a Chinese involvement in military infrastructure and logistics.
This Chinese charm offensive in Mozambique is taking place as the Southern African country has witnessed a reduction of aid from Western donors amid a major financial scandal that has rocked Mozambique. But it is also happening as Mozambique prepares to produce a significant amount of gas from the northern Rovuma basin, off the coast of Cabo Delgado. Although symbolic for now, the Chinese investment in Mozambique is likely to accelerate in the near future, and that would include a growing military presence to protect such investments.
China’s interest in Africa is no secret. It begun years ago and in 2015, its leadership renewed their commitment to Africa with pledged investment of $60 billion going forward. China’s footprint can be found in many places across the continent, making it the continent’s biggest economic partner, surpassing by far the colonial powers, who have been neglecting the continent. The Chinese presence can be found in sectors like highways and railways, ports and housing. It is also in engineering and energy, in places like Djibouti, Ethiopia, Angola, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia and of course North Africa. The Chinese engagement is now expanding into the military world, and that could create the next area of conflict in the world, post-Daesh.
*The North Africa Journal
Africa: Trump’s US Still Lacks an Africa Policy – but That Might Be About to Change
July 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Stephen Chan*
When Donald Trump was elected, almost no one in the US was thinking about Africa. People knew the swingeing State Department and foreign aid cuts the new president promised would hit Africa the hardest, but whereas the US is too embedded in the woes of the Middle East to scale back its costly operations there, Africa simply can’t match it for strategic value or public profile.
On the sidelines, however, serious thinkers were contemplating the future of the US in Africa, and as always happens in the jostling for position that accompanies new presidents in the US, people began to lay out their wares in the hopes of earning an appointment. And at the end of 2016, one, in particular, stood out: J Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council, a foreign affairs think tank, who published a paper widely taken as an Africa policy manifesto for the new administration.
Entitled A Measured US Strategy for the New Africa, it uses the sober language of deliberate realism. Examining both the US’s interests and global security, it affirms that the US still has a mission to undertake in Africa, but not the one it has embarked on previously. Judging by what I heard on a recent visit, the Washington rumour mill now seems convinced Pham will be nominated as the US’s assistant secretary of state for Africa, a vital state department post that’s gone unfilled since Trump took office. So what does Pham’s “manifesto” for American Africa policy say about him?
Old and new
As his choice of title implies, Pham is apparently determined to upend old American perceptions of Africa; the tired old “dark continent” is nowhere to be seen in his paper. But while Pham doesn’t exactly say what the “new Africa” looks like, he does emphatically suggest that the US rein in its dealings with African states that can’t act like states – that can’t or don’t build structures to benefit their citizens or earn proper legitimacy as both states and governments.
Pham also emphasises that the US should not look only to states, but to Africa’s rapidly developing private sector. The state, he says, cannot and should not do everything – a core Republican tenet of domestic policy transposed onto African affairs.
The paper is laden with such “selling points”. One, clearly calculated to appeal to an administration disinclined to rely on the state department is the open admission that that department needs “rationalisation” – in other words, cuts. How this is to be done is another question. So, it is being done by not nominating anyone to fill key posts, and by what the British courts would call “constructive dismissal”. But plenty of very real talent and experience is being lost.
And in a White House where the president’s son-in-law has become a high-level envoy to the Middle East with no obvious experience in anything but real estate, the state department needs every bit of countervailing expertise it can muster.
On this front, Pham’s paper is a worrying document. It implies that the US’s approach to African conflicts might best be left solely to the Pentagon, a move which would do terrible damage. Abandoning civilian oversight would hollow out the US’s understanding of these highly complex wars and insurgencies. The State Department needs conflict experts more than anything else. As anyone who’s witnessed US foreign policy since 9/11 knows, the causes of war are not addressed by dropping bombs.
The lie of the land
Perhaps this is purely academic. After all, when (more likely than if) Pham is appointed, he’ll have little political or budgetary heft to work with. But notwithstanding the diminishment of the State Department in which he may soon be serving, he is undeniably an impressive figure.
Of all the rumoured finalists for the position, he stands head and shoulders above the rest; a Vatican-trained theologian with immense historical knowledge, he worked for the Vatican’s diplomatic service in conflict zones in Africa. He speaks and writes knowledgeably about the crucial importance of northern Nigeria; he is very well connected and well travelled.
If he can use the assistant secretary position to its fullest, he might be better placed than the UK’s new minister of state for Africa, Rory Stewart, a young adventurer who wound up administering much of Iraq and who went on to philanthropic work in Afghanistan. Unlike his predecessor Tobias Ellwood, who was simultaneously minister for both Africa and the Middle East, Stewart will at least be devoted to Africa – but he will also be split between two ministries, the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development.
It seems that on the British side of the Atlantic, Africa is too often still viewed as a single patient in need of foreign remedies rather than a cluster of very different emerging diplomatic and economic players. On that, chalk up at least one preliminary point for Pham in what might end up a sideways-glancing competition between two relatively young men who suddenly find themselves serious world players in the service of equally hapless governments.
Macron Got A Lot Wrong About Africa … But Made One Good Point
July 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Viviane Rutabingwa*
At a press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 8, French President Emmanuel Macron answered a question from a Cote d’Ivoire journalist.
The reporter asked why there was no Marshall Plan for Africa.
Macron’s response included these comments: “The challenge of Africa is completely different, it is much deeper. It is civilizational today. Failing states, complex democratic transitions, the demographic transition.” He later said, “One of the essential challenges of Africa … is that in some countries today seven or eight children [are] born to each woman.”
Many commentators have called these statements racist, problematic and arrogant. And many of us Africans agree.
The Audacity Of Macron
The French colonial empire ruled over much of North, West and Central Africa from around 1830 until 1960. During this time, African peoples were labeled “French subjects” but as a rule could not own property or vote.
By the time the last French colonial country — Gabon — fully gained its “independence” in 1960, France had left behind a legacy of colonization, slavery and pillage.
President Macron, as the leader of France, speaks on the status of Africa with this backdrop looming behind him. In 1884, a French statesman and leading proponent of colonialism, Jules François Camille Ferry, stated: “The higher races have a right over the lower races, they have a duty to civilize the inferior races.” He called it France’s “mission civilisatrice” or “civilizing mission.” That idea was at the core of French colonial ideology. And now in 2017, President Macron declares the problems in Africa “civilizational.”
It is concerning to see the casual manner in which a head of state can play into racist stereotypes of the African continent and African women. Africa is a continent of 54 dynamically different countries. Each of them — like any other country on earth — has strikingly different needs and issues to face — and a conglomerate of local individuals and organizations working hard to address them.
When Macron in his comments refers to “failed states, complex democratic transitions, demographic transition, infrastructure, porous borders, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking, violent fundamentalism, Islamist terrorism….,” he plays into the tiresome trope that “Africa is a country, everyone is poor and can’t help themselves.”
Which country is he speaking of? Could it be Rwanda, one of the fastest growing economies globally and a country that is always high up on the list of gender equality: almost 64 percent of parliamentarians are women compared to just 22 percent worldwide? Or perhaps is he referring to Botswana, which has demonstrated remarkable economic progress by jumping from a low-income to a middle-income country within a few decades.
It has been discussed ad nauseum why the rhetoric that there’s one story for all of Africa is damaging to the progress of African countries and the dignity of African people.
Birth Rate Misinformation
And then there is the matter of children.
Niger is the country with the world’s highest fertility rate — 7.6 children per mother, according to World Bank data. But the number of children per African woman in many African countries is lower and is generally declining. The data in 2015 shows 3.5 in Namibia, 5.6 in Nigeria, 4.3 in Kenya (down from 7.9 in 1960).
In 2015, on average, according to World Bank data, a Sub-Saharan African mother gives birth to 4.9 children.
I’m distressed by the ease at which this president throws out an extreme number to paint an inaccurate and stereotypical picture of African mothers.
Moment Of Clarity
Despite my criticisms of Macron’s comments, I do believe he made a pertinent point when he said: “If we want a coherent response to Africa, then Africans must develop a series of policies that are far more sophisticated than a simple Marshall plan.”
In her book Dead Aid, the acclaimed author and International economist Dambisa Moyo observes that African peoples — for decades — have been pointing to the inherently ineffective and actually destructive nature of Western aid programs. Too often these programs bring in foreign personnel and do not invest in grassroots efforts. And they fail to recognize that one size does not fit all.
Despite this bit of clarity, Macron’s comments dig up the ever hidden stems of old imperial notions. His words remind many of us Africans of the terror our ancestors and elders went through during the years of imperial rule.
And yet I’m not entirely sorry that Macron said what he said. His comments were a much-needed reminder that we must keep demanding accountability from imperial nations — a goal that president Macron himself seems to agree with. In a speech in Algeria in February, he called colonization “a crime against humanity.”
*NPR Viviane Rutabingwa was born in Nairobi, Kenya, at the twilight of the Ugandan civil war to Ugandan parents and grew up in Kenya, Burundi and Uganda. She now divides her time between Uganda and Canada. She is a public health professional with a focus on the uninsured and refugees. a Global Health Corps alumni and a founding member of A Place For Books. She tweets @Rootsi
Better connecting Africa to the US should be a priority
July 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
BY JOHN WILLIAM TEMPLETON*
Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao has practiced medicine in middle Tennessee for the past 25 years, operating four clinics.
A new generation of African leaders versed in science and finance are changing the image of the continent.
Chihombori, known in Tennessee simply as “The African Queen,” has been part of that transition since the ascension of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa.
The Zimbabwe native launched the African Diaspora Healthcare Initiative 20 years ago to bring about a vision of world-class medical centers on the continent, fueled by doctors from around the world who make time in Africa an important part of their experience, and train practitioners while there.
She joined us in Los Angeles for the launch of a tourism initiative to spotlight the black experience in Southern California, where 1.5 million African-Americans are among the 50 million yearly visitors to Los Angeles.
However, they rarely learn about the significant role of blacks in the city’s history or the extensive cultural amenities which the 1 million African-American residents have created.
Along with her was Richard Patterson, CEO of Trion Supercars, the first African-American automaker in a century.
The previous week, I had been in lower Manhattan where 25 years ago, the black community of New York City insisted that the bones of 15,000 17th century Africans be properly respected with the African Burial Ground National Monument.
The new Visitor Center is as moving as the new Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History, with a 20 minute film that captures the feelings of the people who worked so hard to build what became the world’s greatest city.
Chihombori understands the mandate of that history as she discusses the “Joseph generation” in the Biblical analogy which was separated in order to save their home in the future. The continent’s leaders have charged her with being the catalyst for invigorating ties between the Sixth Region of the African Union-the Africans who migrated around the world–and its nations.
Changing old stereotypes takes direct personal engagement. On a suggestion from a patient, she visited the auction of Chapman Clearing, a plantation dating back to 1799 and unexpectedly won the property, which had practiced slavery during the 19th century. In an act of grace, she told the Chapmans that they could stay in the property while she decided what to do with the investment.
Later on, Chapman confided with her that it had completely changed the way he thought about black people.
She and her husband, Dr. Nii Saban Quao, then turned the former slave plantation into Africa House, using the 15,000 square foot mansion and the surrounding 30 acres for tourists, events and conferences on the transformation of the African continent.
She also bought a hotel in Durban, South Africa which is also a place for cultural heritage tourism and intellectual engagement.
The graduate of Fisk University and Meharry Medical College is returning the grace that former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher extended during her medical studies. She had almost turned down her acceptance to Meharry because she lacked the funds for medical school, but her husband insisted that she accept.
Although the money didn’t materialize, every year, the financial aid office sent her to meet with Dr. Satcher, then the president of the college, for a long conversation about her goals and African culture. Every year, he would sign papers to allow her to continue her studies. Eventually, she completely repaid all the tuition and fees.
Satcher’s insight channelled the voices of those unknown Africans buried in the African Burial Ground and at Chapman Clearing who endured suffering so that future generations would learn about the proud heritage that they inherit.
Africa’s new spokesperson in the U.S. knows America from the inside out.
Both sides of the Atlantic are certain to benefit.
*The Hill.John William Templeton is co-founder of the 14th annual National Black Business Month and creator of the California African-American Freedom Trail. He leads African Free School summer institutes in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Miami in July and August.