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AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK In India
June 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

Bow ties, flashing smiles and the big sell 9th June 2017

African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Africa’s biggest bank takes its annual meeting to India as it courts new investors and seeks a massive capital increase The worst is behind us, it is time to invest. That mood music – for the presidents, prime ministers, finance ministers, bankers and chief executives – played throughout the African Development Bank’s annual meeting in Gandhinagar, near Ahmedabad, on 23-25 May.

Master of ceremonies was the AfDB’s ever upbeat President, Akinwumi Adesina, whose team clearly picked the right host city this year. With Europe and the United States distracted by crises nearer to home, India’s government and companies are bullish on Africa. India’s business-minded Prime Minister and relentless national booster, Narendra Modi, wants to build on the fast-growing trade ties with the continent (AC Vol 58 No 2, Global shocks, local differences).

Modi’s diplomatic air miles rival those of China’s President Xi Jinping (AC Vol 57 No 8, Economy thwarts Buhari). ‘Since 2015, I have visited six African countries, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritius and Seychelles,’ Modi said when opening the meeting. ‘Our President has visited three countries, Namibia, Ghana and Ivory Coast. The Vice-President visited seven countries, Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Mali, Algeria, Rwanda and Uganda.

I am proud to say that there is no country in Africa that has not been visited by an Indian minister in the last three years.’ As New Delhi and Beijing well know but many Europeans seem to have forgotten, much of African diplomacy is about showing up. India’s rising Africa enthusiasms helped Adesina’s project. The Nigerian former Agriculture Minister wants investors and Bank shareholders to share his view that Africa is heading for another growth surge. Only then can he push through his expansion plans for the AfDB.

They include a capital increase, a hard sell at the best of times. The AfDB struggled to get financing for its concessional lending arm, the African Development Fund, last year. These are not the worst of times but they remain fragile (see African economy Feature, The great growth divide). The African Economic Outlook, launched at this meeting, forecast growth of 3.4% in 2017; it had fallen to 2.2% last year, its lowest in decades. Commodity prices have stopped sliding but are by no means robust. High five

The AfDB’s new investment agenda, summed up as the ‘high-five’ (power, agriculture, regional integration, industrialisation and quality of life) is clearer than last year. The Bank had a record 2016: disbursements hit $6.5 billion; approvals, $12.5 bn. Each AfDB dollar disbursed has a fourfold multiplier effect, says Adesina. The Bank is ramping up guarantees for investors in risky-looking infrastructure projects. Its private equity infrastructure outfit, called Africa 50, has mobilised $854 million and aims for $1 bn. by December.

regional governors are sceptical, though. Some talk about inconsistencies in the financial reporting. Others say the Bank is not getting value for money from its proposed investments. They cite former AfDB head Babacar Ndiaye’s ambitious expansion of the AfDB in the 1990s, which provoked bitter political disputes and the bank losing its AAA credit rating (AC Vol 37 No 7, Funding fall-off). Others gripe about management. A new set of directors has been recruited but there have been high-profile exits, such as Senior Vice-President Frannie Leautier from Tanzania and Senegalese Communications Director Ismaila Dieng. A large cohort of Nigerians has arrived in the Bank. ‘Some of them are on American or South African passports. We are being ignored,’ complained a senior Bank official from a small African country. However, Adesina’s focus on agriculture could pay off handsomely.

His proselytising for farmers fitted well with the tours showcasing India’s agricultural revolution. The AfDB’s quiet espousal of industrial policy – still anathema to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund – continues. The former Chief Economist at the World Bank, China’s Justin Lin, and the AfDB’s new Chief Economist, Célestin Monga of Cameroon, argued at their joint book launch for a new generation of special economic zones, to strengthen local companies (AC Vol 49 No 6, The people versus Biya). ‘Industrial policy doesn’t have to be just linked to manufacturing,’ explains Ethiopia’s Abebe Shimeles Abebe, acting Director of the AfDB Research Department. India’s agro-processing sector is an example.

When Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat State, of which Gandhinagar is now the capital, there was a relentless pursuit of growth, sometimes at the expense of political accountability. Modi’s brand of populism and high-growth economics propelled him to the prime minister’s office. Much of his success lay in administrative competence although Gujarat’s double-figure growth reflected an upturn across the entire country. A professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, Anil Kumar Gupta, says Modi’s efforts to raise the productivity of small farmers underpinned the state’s growth, particularly the building of small dams and irrigation systems.

Under Modi, some 45% of land was irrigated, a 15% improvement, and many more farmers prospered, spreading their wealth into far-flung villages. African delegates examined India’s latest farm technology in an exhibition hall next to the Bank meeting. They included a system of solar panels linked to water pumps – roughly $1,500 for a 1HP pump, enough to irrigate a hectare. Subsidised by the national government for 50% of the cost and 40% by the state government, the farmer has to pay just $150. It allows farmers to grow several crops a year and control it with an application on a mobile phone. ‘Fashionomics’

Replete with his signature bow-tie, Adesina spoke of the need to change mindsets in farming: ‘We need to make agriculture the coolest thing for the youth.’ Stars of India’s film industry, ‘Bollywood’, and Nigeria’s ‘Nollywood’ took the stage together for a session of ‘Fashionomics’. Their mind-bending mission was to describe – in a star-studded drama – the chain of production, from high fashion to the textile industry and then to the cotton growers. Next, Ghana’s former President, John Mahama, joined a chorus of young African ‘agripreneurs’ on stage to explain that agriculture is serious business.

The way, says Mahama, to show that agriculture is cool, is to ‘show that you can make serious money’. There are other Indian policies that Africa might imitate. For the Chief Executive Officer of the Nairobi-based African Guarantee Fund, Felix Adahi Bikpo, the advantage of coming to Ahmedabad was that the chaos and colour and mass poverty visible from the road reminds African delegations that India has much in common with the continent. ‘It is not so different from back home, and yet they have power, they are building.’ Modi rocked India with his ‘demonetisation’ policy: to move the country away from a cash economy and towards a formal banking sector. Over 250 million free bank accounts were created with biometric identity cards, allowing more accurate targeting of subsidies. Large denomination notes were outlawed and replaced, angering the politicians and businesspeople who had stashed huge sums. ‘The people who were crying foul were doing so not because they had sympathy for the common man but because it would hurt them most,’ a British-based academic told Africa Confidential.

He pointed to a cash haul of $43 mn. found by Nigerian anti-corruption enforcers in a Lagos flat in April. Some Nigerian officials looking to give a fillip to their government’s anti-corruption campaign have been studying the ‘Modi effect’ – high-growth economic strategies twinned with an authoritarian style of pushing through public policy.  The African Bank’s Love Affair with Asia Bringing the African Development Bank annual general meeting to India is a bold statement of intent by the hosts.

The arrival of the yearly jamboree followed a long courtship by New Delhi. The Export-Import Bank of India had worked hard to drum up interest. China’s US$3 trillion ‘One Belt One Road’ infrastructure programme plans massive investment along a modern version of the old Silk Road linking China to Europe. India is boycotting it, which shows how Asian rivalries could be projected on to Africa. New Delhi is partnering with Japan to create an ‘Asia-Africa growth corridor’. Tokyo sent its deputy Finance Minister to the AfDB gathering in Gandhinagar (which is named after the late Mahatma Gandhi) to make the case.

A cultural evening featuring Indian and African dancers showed the breadth of ties. ‘Historically, communities from western India, especially Gujarat, and the eastern coast of Africa have settled in each other’s lands,’ said India’s Premier, Narendra Modi. ‘The Siddhis of India are said to have come from East Africa. The Bohra communities in coastal Kenya date back to the twelfth century. Vasco da Gama [a Portuguese explorer] is said to have reached Calicut with the help of a Gujarati sailor from Malindi.’

Trade between India and Africa thrived during the last commodity boom. Bilateral trade was at $1 billion in 1995; in 2015, it hit $75 bn.; it should break $100 bn, by 2018, according to the AfDB. Like Japan and China, India focuses on East Africa and long has done so: the gas and coal reserves in Mozambique and Tanzania attract Indian heavyweights such as the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited and Coal India; the big consumer markets of South Africa and Kenya are targets for Indian exporters. Modi wants India to claim the next 30 years just as China’s ‘peaceful rise’ has dominated the last 30.

New data from Yi Fuxian, at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, suggests India’s population (1.33 billion) overtook China’s (1.29 billion) at the end of last year. The AfDB’s own turning to Asia continues. Its meeting next year will be in Busan (ex-Pusan), South Korea. Taken with its meeting in Shanghai in 2007, that makes three Asian safaris in eleven years. By contrast, Europe has hosted the Bank just once in that period.

*Africa Confidential

 

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Former winners Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Zambia lose at home
June 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Oluwashina Okeleji*

Tokelo Rantie put South Africa 1-0 up against Nigeria in Uyo

Tokelo Rantie put South Africa 1-0 up against Nigeria in Uyo

Former African champions Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Zambia all suffered home defeats on Saturday in their first group qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Nigeria, who failed to qualify for the last two editions of the tournament, fell to their first competitive defeat to South Africa, losing 2-0 in Uyo in the Group E match.

Second-half goals from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau sealed a deserved win for Bafana Bafana against three-time African champions Nigeria.

Rantie opened the scoring with a brilliant close-range header in the 54th minute.

Tau broke free in a swift counter-attack, putting the ball around goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi before slotting home in the 81st minute.

Nigeria fluffed chances in the first half as Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Simon Moses failed to score.

It was second time lucky for coach Stuart Baxter who was in charge when Bafana beat Nigeria 2-1 in the 2004 Nelson Mandela challenge at home.

Friday: Grp L: Cape Verde v Uganda (postponed to Sunday)
Grp A: Sudan 1-3 Madagascar Grp G: DR Congo 3-1 Congo
Grp E: Libya 5-1 Seychelles Grp I: Burkina Faso v Angola (1800)
Saturday: Grp C: Mali v Gabon (1900)
Grp B: Malawi 1-0 Comoros Grp A: Senegal v Equatorial Guinea (2000)
Grp C: Burundi 3-0 South Sudan Grp H: Ivory Coast 2-3 Guinea
Grp K: Zambia 0-1 Mozambique Sunday:
Grp I: Botswana 0-1 Mauritania Grp G: Zimbabwe v Liberia (1300)
Grp B: Cameroon 1-0 Morocco Grp H: CAR v Rwanda (1400)
Grp J: Niger 0-0 Swaziland Grp D: Benin v The Gambia (1500)
Grp K: Guinea-Bissau 1-0 Namibia Grp F: Ghana v Ethiopia (1530)
Grp E: Nigeria 0-2 South Africa Grp D: Algeria v Togo (2100)
Grp F: Sierra Leone 2-1 Kenya Grp J: Tunisia v Egypt (2200)
Grp L: Tanzania 1-1 Lesotho

The twelve group winners plus the best three group runners-up will qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations along with the hosts Cameroon.

Seydou Doumbia’s brace was not enough for Ivory Coast as the Elephants were beaten 3-2 at home by Guinea in Group H.

Doumbia gave the home side a 15th minute lead, before Guinea equalised in the 32nd minute.

Naby Keita’s shot was spilled by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo and Abdoulaye Sadio Diallo pounced on the rebound to put the visitors level.

Doumbia grabbed his second goal in the 62nd minute, but four minutes later France-based Francois Kamano made it 2-2.

However, the impressive Naby Keita sealed the stunning win for Guinea in the 79th minute to complete a bad start for new Ivory Coast manager Marc Wilmots.

The defeat for Ivory Coast in Bouake came just five days after the death of former Ivorian international Cheick Tiote.

In Ndola, former winners Zambia were left stunned by a late goal as they lost 1-0 to Mozambique at home in Group K.

Mozambique left it until the 89th minute to earn their first ever win over Chipolopolo with Germany-based Stanley Ratifo scoring the goal.

2012 African champions Zambia dominated the encounter for long spells but failed to turn their superiority into goals.

The Mambas made them pay for their profligacy when Ratifo finished brilliantly from a cut-back to stun the home side.

Elias Pelembe should have doubled the lead in added time but goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene rushed out of his box to stop the Bidvest Wits winger.

Coach Abel Xavier and the Mambas held on to celebrate a first triumph over Zambia in 18 attempts.

In the other Group K game, Guinea-Bissau beat visitors Namibia 1-0 thanks to a powerful header from Jerson in the 24th minute.

Veteran striker Aristide Bance scored twice as Burkina Faso beat Angola 3-1 in Group I.

 

Aristide Bance
Aristide Bance struck twice for Burkina Faso in their win over Angola.

Bance’s opening goal in the 22nd minute was quickly cancelled out by Gelson Dala a minute later.

Bance then restored the lead from the penalty spot just before half-time with Chelsea winger Betrand Traore scoring the third in the 79th minute.

Also in Group I, Mohamed Abdellahi Soudani’s second-half strike sealed a famous 1-0 win for Mauritania away to Botswana.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Gerald Phiri Junior scored the only goal as Malawi began their Group B campaign with a 1-0 home win over Comoros in Blantyre.

The South Africa-based winger hit a free-kick from outside the 18 yard box which flew over the wall and into the right corner on 31 minutes .

The flames had several chances but failed to punish a resolute Comoros.

It is a first competitive win for Malawi’s coach Ronny Van Geneugden who took over in April.

Malawi have taken an early advantage in the group after hosts Cameroon beat Herve Renard’s Morocco 1-0 in Yaounde.

Vincent Aboubakar
Vincent Aboubakar scored Cameroon’s only goal in their 1-0 win over Morocco

A 29th minute goal from Vincent Aboubakar gave the Indomitable Lions the victory which puts Morocco bottom of Group B after the opening round of matches.

Cameroon qualify automatically as hosts for the 2019 Nations Cup, but their group matches still count as qualifiers for their opponents.

After the victory, Cameroon’s coach Hugo Broos confirmed that defender Oyongo Bitolo would definitely miss the Fifa Confederations Cup later this month.

The player was stretchered off the pitch after suffering a knee ligament injury which Broos said would keep him out of the game for seven months.

Burundi began their 2019 Nations Cup campaign in triumphant fashion by beating South Sudan 3-0 in Group C on Saturday.

The Swallows secured all three points with first half goals.

Cedric Amissi set the tone with the opening goal in the 15th minute.

Gael Duhayinnavyi added the second ten minutes later before Fiston Abdul Razak made it three in the 30th minute.

Mali face Gabon later on Saturday in the other Group C match.

In Freetown, goals from Julius Woobay and and Umaru Bangura penalty helped Sierra Leone make a winning start to their Group F campaign as they beat Kenya 2-1.

Kenya had Brian Mandela sent off but they did get a consolation goal through Michael Olunga. Ghana take on Ethiopia in that group on Sunday.

Spain-based Cedric Bakambu grabbed a brace as DR Congo beat neighbours Congo Brazzaville 3-1 in Group G.

Bakambu scored opened the scoring in the 20th minute.

Thievy Bifouma equalised for the visitors on the stroke of half-time.

Bakambu grabbed his second after 56th minute before Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba ensured victory in the 90th minute.

The Group L match between Cape Verde and Uganda – scheduled for Saturday – had to be postponed to Sunday after some members of Uganda’s squad were delayed in Dakar en route to Praia.

In the other Group L game Tanzania drew 1-1 with Lesotho in Dar es Salaam.

Mbwana Samata put Tanzania ahead with Thapelo Tale hitting the equaliser for the visitors.

On Friday, Libya and Madagascar opened the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with impressive victories.

Libya beat Seychelles 5-1 in Group A and in the first qualifier for Cameroon 2019, Madagascar were 3-1 winners away to Sudan in Al-Obeid in Group E.

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Africa is tackling the threat of global warming one tree at a time
June 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Global climate change is at Africa’s door step. As we celebrate World Environment Day today, what can we do to assuage its effects, questions Jung Hyun Park, Vice President and Managing Director of Samsung Electronics East Africa.
 NAIROBI, Kenya, 5 June 2017, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- From the US to Thailand, the Caribbean and Kenya, this past month alone has seen countries across the world hit by devastating encounters with flooding.

As we witness these terrible events unfold, a question lingers at the back of our minds: Are we starting to see the more sinister effects of global warming at play?

Undoubtedly the wrath of global warming is expected to take its toll over the coming years, with the threat of everything from flooding to drought, the spread of disease and even lack of drinking water looming. According to National Geographic, the global average surface temperature has already increased between 0.6 and 0.9 degrees Celsius since 1906. As a result, ice across the world is melting.

The massive task before us in reducing the harmful effects of global warming almost seems insurmountable – but as J.M. Darhower was wise enough to point out: “Change happens little by little. Day by day. Hour by hour.”

And in the case of climate change – it just may happen one tree at a time.

The future relies on our forests
In fact, environmental advocacy group, the Environmental Defense Fund, is adamant that any realistic plan to reduce global warming sufficiently – and in time to prevent catastrophic effects – will rely in part on preserving our forests.

Nowhere does the need to save our forests ring truer than in Africa, where according to research from the Green Africa Foundation, the rate of annual deforestation exceeds the global annual average by 0.8%.

Deforestation is a particular problem in Kenya – in 2015 it was estimated that Kenya was losing a shocking 5.6 million trees daily. The effects of deforestation have been significant, leading to reduced rainfall and increased soil erosion, in turn causing food scarcity and other difficulties.

But the Kenyan government has taken a stand by setting itself the goal of planting a total of 20 million trees in and around Mount Kenya and other highland forests by 2024. It plans to increase forest cover and restore degraded land, and in so doing make a valuable contribution towards the war against climate change.

As such forest cover has already begun to improve. According to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, coverage in Kenya is currently at 7%. The goal, however, is for this to increase to at least 10% by 2020.

It is an achievable target and one which will help us beat back the harmful ravages of global warming – country by country, forest by forest, tree by tree.

10 000 trees to start
Samsung Electronics East Africa is determined to be part of tackling this threat by playing a part in rehabilitating Karura Forest in Nairobi.

Recently, Samsung partnered with Friends of Karura Forest and Kenya Forest Service to help grow forest coverage in Karura Forest specifically, and Kenya in general, committing to planting 10 000 trees over the next two years.

Located in the northern part of Nairobi and covering 1 041 hectares, Karura Forest is one of the largest urban gazetted forests in the world. It is home to 50km of well-maintained trails in which visitors can walk, run or bike. As part of Samsung’s commitment, 5 000 trees will be planted in the forest this year and 5 000 in 2018. 200 benches and picnic tables have also been donated towards the initiative.

The benefits of a project like Karura Forest extend beyond reducing the effects of climate change. It also has a positive impact on the surrounding communities, in particular the Huruma and Deep Sea informal settlements that border the forest to the north and south, from which residents have been employed to plant the 10 000 trees donated by Samsung.

There is no doubt that we have a great deal of work to do if we’re going to leave a healthier world for future generations. Samsung firmly believes the task is not insurmountable though – little by little, inch by inch, we’ll succeed in taking our planet back.

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. For the latest news, please visit Samsung Newsroom at http://news.samsung.com
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One man, four wives: The new hit reality TV show
June 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Megha Mohan*

Musa Mseleku and his four wives

Musa Mseleku and his four wives

A new hit reality TV show has restarted a debate over the traditional practice of polygamy in South Africa.

Musa Mseleku says he wants to change people’s perceptions of polygamy. And he’s getting some help – from his four wives.

The 43-year-old property developer, along with his wives and their 10 children, are the stars of a new reality show called Uthando Nes’thembu, which translates as “Love and Polygamy”.

The series, which premiered 19 May, is consistently a top trending topic on Twitter in South Africa, with thousands of tweets debating the place of this traditional set-up in modern society.

The show is filmed at the Mselekus’ rural homestead near Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast. The four wives each have their own house but share the land.

“One of the biggest misconceptions [about] polygamous lifestyles is that it is a culture which seeks to oppress women,” Mr Mseleku tells BBC Trending radio. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to do the show, to allow people to see that it’s not like that in our case. I want to show men that you can be in a polygamous relationship and also be a considerate husband.”

However, not everyone agrees. While several people expressed their appreciation for the show, some feel that the lifestyle is indeed restrictive.

Some tweeters, mostly female, picked up on an episode where Mseleku insisted on a 17:00 curfew for his wives. They also have to ask his permission if they want to hang out with their friends or drink alcohol.

“I believe that in each and every house, especially us as South Africans, we believe your husband is like your god,” Thobile Mseleku, Musa’s fourth wife, tells BBC Trending, “So you can’t just do what you wish, unless he gives you his blessing.”

The four Mrs Mselekus. Thobile (far left) says the women rarely have conflict and are "like sisters"

The four Mrs Mselekus. Thobile (far left) says the women rarely have conflict and are “like sisters”

Musa Mseleku adds that he also has restrictions imposed on him. He has to be home an hour earlier than his wives, he says, “so I can prepare for them all!”

Thobile and Musa have been married for nine years. When she met him, he already had two other wives, so she says that she knew what she was getting into. Her grandparents had also been part of a polygamous family.

She says that the four wives – the others are Busisiwe MaCele, Nokukhanya MaYeni and Mbali MaNgwabe – are like sisters and rely on each other for advice and help.

But the show, which explores how the four Mrs Mselekus balance their daily routine, careers (which include business and government jobs), household commitments and parenting duties, also shows the tensions within the family.

“Our biggest source of conflict is time,” Thobile Mseleku says. “It can be frustrating if we’re all going to go out together and one is ready and you have to wait for one of the other wives.”

Time, adds Musa, is something he thinks about a lot.

 

 

 

“I try to make sure that I divide my time equally between the women and my children.”

In South Africa, polygamy – while not adopted by the majority of people – is not illegal, nor specific to a particular religion. It is most common among the Zulu ethnic group, and South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, himself a Zulu, has three wives.

Ndela Ntshangase, a lecturer in the school of Zulu studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, says that the polygamous unions in South Africa began to wane in the 19th century when white missionaries preached that conversion to Christianity entailed divorcing one’s “extra” wives.

“British colonisers pushed [monogamy] down the throats of black people through taxes that rose for each wife, and land allocations with insufficient space for polygamous family units,” Ntshangase says.

But can it work both ways? Would Musa Mseleku be OK with one of his wives taking another husband?

“No way,” he laughs, “I would die!”

Thobile says her husband’s attitude doesn’t bother her.

“We chose this life. We chose him and him alone.”

So is there room for a fifth wife?

“We are exploring that on the show,” Musa says, “so keep tuned in.”

 

 

 

*BBC

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Namibia: Poverty Still a Challenge – Geingob
June 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

President Hage Geingob

President Hage Geingob

President Hage Geingob said despite progress having been made, poverty levels remained a major national challenge.

Geingob said this yesterday at the official launch of the fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) at State House, adding that development was defined by the economic, political and social well-being of citizens.

“The problem of poverty continues to be a challenge. We have sought to provide relief in crises, but we need to find a durable solution that helps everyone achieve the kind of lives they have reason to value,” he said, adding that poverty eradication remained the focus of his administration.

He said Namibia was considered an upper middle income country by multilateral financial institutions, despite the fact that “the top 1% have the same amount of income as the bottom 50%”.

Geingob said NDP5 would bring the country closer to realising its Vision 2030 objectives, and emphasised that the Harambee Prosperity Plan would fast-track some interventions, and not replace Vision 2030.

The President further noted that although budgetary allocations were already deliberately skewed in favour of social sectors such as health, education and housing, NDP5 would maintain the focus on increasing investments in education, health, housing and the integration of disadvantaged persons into the mainstream economy.

According to him, Namibia’s population is expected to have increased to 3,5 million by 2030, and being overwhelmingly youthful.

“Young men and women of tomorrow could propel Namibian society towards Vision 2030,” he said.

The President added that the country needed to prepare for this demographic change in order to give “an early start to toddlers today. Namibia will aggressively invest in early childhood development during NDP5”.

Modernising and scaling up various sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, fisheries, mining and tourism, should also create more jobs to absorb new entrants.

Geingob said the issues at hospitals, schools, in housing and human resources, all needed to be addressed as they posed challenges to development.

“Informal settlements in towns and cities pose challenges to the administration of these cities and towns,” he added.

A presentation by Sylvestor Mbangu, government’s chief national development adviser, showed that NDP5 has four pillars, namely economic progression, social transformation, environmental sustainability and good governance.

He said NDP5’s goals included achieving inclusive, sustainable and equitable growth, building capable healthy human resources, ensuring a sustainable environment, and promoting good governance through effective institutions, all while fostering a competitive economy.

 Mbangu said the economic progression pillar aims to ensure higher income growth and improved income distribution for Namibia’s citizens and reduce unemployment, while the social transformation pillar will look at improving housing provision.
Under the environmental sustainability pillar, mitigating climate change and improving environmental protection are broad strategies, while under the good governance pillar, expected results are improved service delivery and an improved global peace index score.

Economic planning minister Tom Alweendo said Namibia was in a better state than it was before, but that achievements did not mean that there were no challenges remaining to be addressed.

*The Namibian/Allafrica

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Germany’s ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’
May 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Green*

Photo by: Irina Patrascu / CC BY

Photo by: Irina Patrascu / CC BY

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-called Marshall 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 a G-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 Union last 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 the Population 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.

*DEVEX

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Where’s Africa in China’s mega Belt and Road project?
May 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

China has welcomed African countries that have expressed interest in its massive trade plan, but this won’t be enough.

BY  YU-SHAN WU, CHRIS ALDEN & ELIZABETH SIDIROPOULOS*

China’s proposed one belt, one road route map. Credit: Shutterstock

China’s proposed one belt, one road route map. Credit: Shutterstock

Chinese President Xi Jinping made it clear at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos this January that the world should abandon protectionism and commit itself to an open global economy.

A recent summit in Beijing that focused on China’s most ambitious foreign policy to date – the Belt and Road initiative – added texture to this call.

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.

*African Arguments.This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.The Conversation

 

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Remarks by Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, at the G7 Summit, May 26-27, 2017, Taormina, Italy
May 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

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.

Thank you very much.

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Citi bank wins Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s African Banker Awards
May 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
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)

CSR
Groupe Crédit Agricole (Morocco)

Innovation 

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
Citi

Best Regional Bank in North Africa
Attijariwafa Bank

Best Regional Bank in West Africa
Orabank

Best Regional Bank in Central Africa
Trust Merchant Bank

Best Regional Bank in East Africa
KCB Bank

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.

*AMA
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Opinion: The ‘door of return’ is open for people of African descent
May 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kamil Olufowobi*

My school years in the US were marked by many heated debates between African and African-American students about who was guiltier for the transatlantic slave trade: whites or Africans?

Who should pay whom or who should apologize to whom? In retrospect, I should have advocated more for reconciliation among people of African descent rather than restitution or reparations by whites, which I had previously advocated mainly because every other group; Jewish or Japanese-Americans, received monies from the US government for historical wrongdoings.
This is still important but I believe less pressing than the healing that needs to happen between a people divided.

Change of heart

The diaspora in the context of Africa evokes in my mind a people who were, by force or by choice, estranged from their homeland, while the homeland of Africa evokes in my mind a diverse land (54 countries) of milk and honey with limited skills to distribute the wealth.
Like the story of two siblings, where one sold the other into slavery, Africa and its diaspora are sometimes deeply divided and each finding their way through the wilderness alone, forgetting that united we stand, divided we fall.
There are around 200 million people identifying themselves as being of African descent who live in the Americas. Many millions more live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent. Whether as descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade or as more recent migrants, we constitute some of the poorest and most marginalized groups.

Discrimination

In many cases, people of African descent still experience discrimination in recognition of our achievements, access to justice, and face alarmingly high rates of police violence and racial profiling. Casual racism has become commonplace in the United States and many attribute this to the election of President Trump and his anti-foreigner stance during the election campaign.
Furthermore, our degree of political participation is often low, both in voting and in occupying political positions. This racial discrimination lessens when inside Africa but problems of poverty, corruption and conflicts replaces it. The one thing we seem to have in common, that binds us regardless of where we find ourselves, inside or outside Africa, is the misery that’s become synonymous with the black experience.

The door of return

So, when I learned that the United Nations had proclaimed 2015 — 2024, the International Decade for People of African Descent, I saw an opportunity to reconnect the broken bridge between Africa and its diaspora, control the narrative about the black experience and help heal the pains and resentment between long lost siblings.
While our ancestors left Africa bound and chained through the doomed ‘doors of no return,’ I firmly believe that reconciliation and prosperity can offer a ‘door of return’ for people of African descent back to Africa.

Collective goal

This led me on journey to create the global civil society initiative: The Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD), born out of the desire to bring together a progressive group to support the United Nations’ resolution declaring the years 2015 — 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent to combat racism, xenophobia and intolerance of Africa and its people worldwide.
MIPAD is a unique global list that identifies 200 high achievers, under the age of 40, of African descent in public and private sectors worldwide. Hundred of them live inside Africa, and 100 outside Africa in the diaspora. The idea is to connect them with their counterparts across the world. There are well known African names such as Senegalese musician Akon, British actor David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyongo but there are also those whose ancestors are from Africa such as golfer Tiger Woods and Beyonce among many others.
The truth is that not all people of African descent will move back to Africa, this is not the goal, instead it is to know that wherever we are, inside or outside Africa, our unifying and collective goal is the uplifting of Africa as a continent, knowing that making Africa great again is key to the dignity and respect we seek as a people.
*CNN.Kamil Olufowobi is Founder & CEO, Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) a global civil society initiative in support of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent. He is passionate about repairing the broken bridge between Africa and its diaspora in different parts of the world
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This is Why Africa Matters to the United States
May 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

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.

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 Africa Matters to US National Security

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

Posted by Atlantic Council on Thursday, May 25, 2017

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.

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Africa is Not Poor, We Are Stealing Its Wealth
May 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

ANALYSIS

By Nick Dearden*

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.

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