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China dismisses ‘absurd’ African Union HQ spying claim
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Chinese built the African Union headquarters, which opened in 2012

The Chinese built the African Union headquarters, which opened in 2012

China has dismissed reports it bugged the African Union (AU) headquarters as “preposterous”.

Kuang Weilin, the Chinese ambassador to the AU, told reporters in Ethiopia the “absurd” claim in France’s Le Monde was “very difficult to understand”.

He spoke out three days after the newspaper published an article claiming data from the Chinese-built AU building was being copied to Shanghai.

The article said the discovery resulted in all the AU servers being switched.

Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who claimed the alleged transfer was taking place late at night [link in French], and was only spotted in January 2017 due to the spike in activity between midnight and 02:00, despite no-one being in the building.

It was suggested the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, was opened.

Officials also brought in security experts from Algeria to sweep the entire headquarters for potential bugs, the newspaper said, leading to the discovery of microphones in desks.

But Mr Kuang – who hailed the headquarters as a “monument” to his country’s relationship with the continent – said it was entirely untrue.

“I really question its intention,” he told reporters on Monday. “I think it will undermine and send a very negative message to people. I think it is not good for the image of the newspaper itself.

“Certainly, it will create problems for China-Africa relations.”

*BBC

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Can Kagame? The African Union
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame

The continental group of 55 countries has long sought to reduce its dependence on the West, with limited success. Will 2018 be different?

This week is Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s first as chairman of the AU’s Assembly, its top decision-making body. He plans to remake the notoriously sclerotic AU in his own image: lean and ruthlessly efficient. But first comes financial self-sufficiency, which means securing big commitments from African peers.

Last year member states funded just 14% of the AU’s budgeted programmes, well below the 75% they committed to in 2015. A 0.2% levy on imports into Africa might more than double revenues, but implementation has been slow; 21 countries have signed up, but only Ghana and Rwanda have enshrined it in law.

Mr Kagame wants tougher sanctions for recalcitrant members. But it will take deft diplomacy to overcome opposition from big economies like South Africa—a skill not all are convinced Mr Kagame possesses.

*Source The Economist

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Netanyahu scoffs at notion Rwanda unsafe for deported migrants
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

PM tells meeting of Likud ministers that the UN is already protecting 180,000 refugees in camps in the African country

By STUART WINER and TOI STAFF*

PM Netanyahu, left, with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi, Kenya, November 28, 2017 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

PM Netanyahu, left, with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi, Kenya, November 28, 2017 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministers on Sunday that Rwanda is a fitting deportation destination for African asylum seekers as the United Nations is already taking care of nearly two hundred thousand refugees in the African state

At the opening of a meeting of Likud party ministers, Netanyahu addressed Israel’s plans to deport tens of thousands of African migrants to a third country.

The prime minister has praised deals to send migrants to third-party countries in Africa, but has refused to publicly divulge where they are. Media reports have focused on Rwanda and Uganda as the destination countries.

“There are 180,000 refugees sitting there under the protection of the UN, so the claims that it is dangerous are a joke,” Netanyahu said of Rwanda.

Last month, the Knesset approved an amendment to the so-called “Infiltrator’s Law” paving the way for the forced deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants and asylum seekers starting in March, and the indefinite imprisonment of those who refuse to leave “voluntarily.”

There are approximately 38,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Israel, according to the Interior Ministry. About 72 percent are Eritrean and 20% are Sudanese, and the vast majority arrived between 2006 and 2012. Many live in south Tel Aviv, and some residents and activists blame them for rising crime rates and have lobbied the government for their deportation.

The amendment has gained international attention and is fraught with controversy.

On Saturday a number of severed doll heads doused in red paint were left outside the Tel Aviv office of the Population, Immigration, and Border Authority (PIBA) in what appeared to be a protest move against the deportation plan.

Yossi Edelstein, PIBA’s head of enforcement and foreign affairs administration, complained Sunday that protests against the deportations had gotten out of hand and that opponents’ claims were rife with misleading information.

“What started as a protest became incitement and what happened yesterday in our offices in Tel Aviv is a result of that incitement,” Edelstein told Army Radio. “There are columnists who call for attacking [PIBA] workers. What have we come to? We have crossed every red line you can in protest and we crossed into incitement.”

While refusing to identify the specific countries the migrants will be sent to, he insisted that the destinations are safe and that PIBA operates a careful followup process.

African asylum seekers and human rights activists protest against deportation in front of the Rwandan Embassy in Herzliya, on January 22, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

African asylum seekers and human rights activists protest against deportation in front of the Rwandan Embassy in Herzliya, on January 22, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“In the last two weeks there has been false information published,” he told the radio station, dismissing supposed claims that Israel is sending asylum seekers to their deaths. “The High Court has examined those claims from every angle and found that the countries are safe.”

Rami Gudovich, a social worker dealing with asylum seekers, said that some 100 people who were deported by Israel to South Sudan have died, and that there have been several accounts of rape as well as mistreatment by local authorities.

“We are gambling with peoples’ lives,” Gudovich said, saying that some of the asylum seekers that Israel deported to South Sudan have been killed in the civil war there. Other were arrested by local authorities or are suffering because they no longer have access to the medicines and treatments available in Israel, he said.

Israeli rights activists and Jewish communities in the US have spoken out against the deportation plan.

Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Netanyahu met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and agreed to a demand that his country would only accept asylum-seekers Israel is looking to deport if the move was made in accordance with international law.

*The Times of Israel

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This is Africa too
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Enuma Okoro*

Aerial view of Lagos PHOTO: CLUTTONS

Aerial view of Lagos PHOTO: CLUTTONS

A few months ago, at a recent forum on ‘Africa and Media,’ I got into a vibrant discussion with another African writer about the types of stories we choose to tell about the continent. From my understanding of her viewpoint, she was concerned that in trying to “change the narrative” of Africa, people would begin to “whitewash” certain realities in Africa; like poverty, unemployment, hunger, and other destitute factors affecting many Africans across the continent, and which she felt, were the significant issues important to write about and the stories to be shared.

She said that as someone born and raised in Africa, she wasn’t interested in new narratives, what she referred to as “private jet owners” or “fashion stories,” that she felt stemmed from a colonial mentality of Africans’ need to justify themselves by western standards and for western eyes. To be honest, I listened in disbelief. But after having more discussions on this topic I’ve also found that quite a few people hold this opinion that there are certain narratives about Africa that should be prioritized out of a sense of responsibility to the continent’s continued development. However, this suggests to me a limited imagination only allowing room for extremes, and that given a choice between the two – poverty-stricken or successful and rising – people like this writer, feel it is more beneficial to tell the world about Africa’s poor, needy and destitute, than to promote narratives about a rich and diverse Africa. Because, the argument claims, people need to stay aware that Africa and her citizens are still in need of so much for basic survival and development.

Unfortunately, I vehemently disagreed with this line of thought, which led to my heated discussion with the writer. I have no fear of overwrought narratives of a poor and destitute Africa being whitewashed by narratives of a rich, vibrant and pulsating Africa replete with stylish and success-driven citizens and cities. On the contrary I think we need more of those sorts of stories and media portrayals to counter balance what already exists in popular cultural imaginations of the continent. But her comments did make me rethink something, that maybe instead of using the phrase, “change the narrative,” a more suitable term would be “expand the narrative,” because these stories that she and others are invested in telling are in fact true and necessary stories of Africa.

Poverty, hunger, unemployment, disease, lack of basic amenities is the reality for many people, and these stories do need to be told because ongoing awareness, action, development and change are essential for a more equitable continent. But the only problem is that the world is already more than familiar with these narratives. So familiar that many outside of Africa are tempted to think that this is the only true reality of the continent, that need and destitution is the only true story. It is one reason that people can jump on the bandwagon of such an ignorant, racist and disgraceful comment such as that made earlier this month by the 45th President of the United States of America. When few alternate narratives are made available, it only helps to continue to limit people’s imagination about Africa and what it means to be African. If we don’t make the effort to share our own stories and images about the multiple realties of the continent then we’re simply continuing to allow outsiders to shape the larger imagination of what it means to be African and what it means to live in Africa.

Which is why the role of writers, musicians, painters, photographers, filmmakers, essentially what I think of as culture-bearers is so powerful and necessary. It is possible to control our own narratives in a way that can radically shift global perceptions. On a whim, I created an Instagram page called @ThisIsAfricaToo, and posted a few pictures of images that show Africa in ways many people overseas probably are not used to seeing. As I go about my daily life in Nigeria and on my travels throughout the continent I will continue to share these images that show other sides of our cities and countries than people may be used to. They will be images that suggest more than one reality and more than one tried and trite narrative. I invite people to share their own photos of the beautiful and rich Africa they know, and to tag the Instagram handle @ThisIsAfricaToo. It’s a small action but a picture speaks a thousand words. That writer I engaged with earlier would question why we feel the need to shift global perspectives if we ourselves know what is true about ourselves. Well, to put it in a very elementary way, because Africa is not a continent in isolation from the rest of the world and the world needs to know and hear our multiple truths in order to engage us appropriately.

*Source The Guardian Nigeria

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African Heads of State Endorse New Measurement of Progress on Neglected Tropical Diseases Reaffirming Commitment to Health Equity
January 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
For the first time, annual African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Scorecard for Accountability and Action will reveal progress and gaps across five neglected diseases that affect countries’ poorest and most marginalised communities
Mectizan distribution in the Tshiaba Mbumba village in Western Kasai.

Mectizan distribution in the Tshiaba Mbumba village in Western Kasai.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 28, 2018/ — Today, at the 30th African Union Heads of State Summit , the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) added neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) to its annual scorecard on disease progress. The scorecard is personally reviewed by African heads of state every year, putting NTDs alongside malaria and maternal and child health as top health priorities for the continent.

Developed by the World Health Organization in collaboration with Uniting to Combat NTDs , this index reports progress for the 47 NTD-affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa in their strategies to treat and prevent the five most common NTDs: lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma. By adding NTDs to the scorecard, African leaders are making a public commitment to hold themselves accountable for progress on these diseases.

“My government is determined to make sure we can take ‘neglected’ out of these diseases,” said His Excellency, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn. “Improving the health, education and productivity of our poorest citizens by eliminating NTDs can put Africa on the path to prosperity and universal health coverage. I urge my fellow African leaders to build on the progress already made and increase their efforts to tackle NTDs to make them a subject for much concerted effort and action at the African Union.”

A Health Priority for Well Over A Billion

NTDs are a group of diseases that affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, often living in the most remote communities. More than 1.5 billion people are at risk for NTDs globally, including more than 620 million in Africa. Whilst NTDs cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year, their primary impact is on the millions that are left trapped in endless cycles of poverty. They cause blindness, disfigurement, disability, stigma and discrimination. Parents are left unable to work and children unable to go to school.

Fortunately, the five diseases that are being monitored in the ALMA scorecard respond well to cheap, safe medicines, which are donated by pharmaceutical companies and are broadly distributed to treat and prevent the diseases. As a result of a global public-private coalition, more people than ever before are being treated for NTDs, and the number of people at risk of infection globally has dropped by more than 400 million in the last five years.

Good NTD coverage also promotes universal health coverage: NTD programs have trained over a million health workers and brought a variety of services, including family planning tools and vitamins, to people in remote communities otherwise unreached by the health system. This connection is discussed in more length in Uniting to Combat NTDs’ recent progress report, “Reaching a Billion: Ending Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Gateway to Universal Health Coverage,” launched last month.

“When it comes to diseases that affect the very poorest and most marginalised communities, it is up to political leaders to make them a priority,” said Thoko Elphick-Pooley, Director, Uniting to Combat NTDs Support Centre. “Beating NTDs is essential for Africa’s economic development, and we are thrilled that African Heads of State will be reviewing their progress every year and holding themselves accountable for equitable health outcomes.”

Progress in Africa, But More to Do

The scorecard shows the evidence of progress in Africa:

  • In 2016, 40 million more people were reached with preventive treatment for at least one NTD than the year before.
  • More than half of all countries improved their coverage index between 2015 and 2016, with 12 countries having doubled their coverage index.
  • Togo was certified by WHO as eliminating lymphatic filariasis, Malawi has stopped treatment for lymphatic filariasis and is in the process of being validated by WHO, and both Ghana and the Gambia report having eliminated trachoma.

While most data points to progress, the scorecard shows areas of concern. Nearly two-thirds of countries have a NTD coverage index of less than 50%. The percentage of affected countries implementing disease-specific interventions ranges from 92% for trachoma to just 72% for schistosomiasis, suggesting that there is still much more to do.

“Beating NTDs will help lift millions out of poverty, improving the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. There is a huge amount at stake and we know that eradicating these diseases is too big a job for one sector alone,” said Tanya Wood, chair of the NTD NGO Network and CEO of the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations. “With the ALMA initiative driving accountability and action, and new cross-sector partnerships like the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy  combining expertise, we are getting closer to a world where NTDs are neglected no more.”

African Leadership in Health
Established in 2009, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance is a groundbreaking initiative, established by heads of state themselves and designed to foster collaboration in order to solve a crisis that affects the entire continent. The ALMA Scorecard empowers national leaders to battle Africa’s most devastating diseases by:

  • Providing a forum to review progress and address challenges in meeting the malaria targets.
  • Implementing a monitoring and accountability system through the ALMA Scorecard for Accountability and Action to track results, identify bottlenecks, and facilitate appropriate action.
  • Identifying and sharing lessons learned for effective implementation of national programs.

Because some NTDs are transmitted in the same manner as malaria, and shared community distributions platforms are used for both malaria and NTDs, ALMA has chosen to include NTDs in its scorecard.

“Malaria and NTDs both lay their heaviest burden on the poor, rural and marginalised. They also share solutions, from vector control to community-based treatment,” said Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary, ALMA. “Adding NTDs to our scorecard will help give leaders the information they need to end the cycle of poverty and reach everyone, everywhere with needed health care.”

The addition of the index happens just before the 6th anniversary on 30 January of the London Declaration on NTDs  a multi-sectoral partnership of pharmaceutical companies, donors, endemic countries and non-governmental organizations committed to control, eliminate or eradicate 10 diseases by 2020.

About Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Neglected tropical diseases affect the poorest, most marginalised and most remote communities in the world. They are a consequence and cause of poverty as they thrive where access to clean water, sanitation and health care is limited. Their impact on individuals and communities can be devastating. Many of them cause severe disfigurement and disabilities. They impact on life expectancy, education and economic opportunities of affected individuals and the communities they live in.

African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA)
The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (http://APO.af/ZupcNu) is a groundbreaking coalition of 49 African Heads of State and Government working across country and regional borders to eliminate malaria by 2030. They leverage collective knowledge and influence to bring about action and accountability to fight the continent’s most devastating diseases.

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Uniting to Combat NTDs (http://UnitingToCombatNTDs.org) is a group of organizations committed to achieving WHO’s 2020 goal to control and eliminate 10 NTDs. By working together, Uniting to Combat NTDs aims to chart a new course toward health and sustainability among the world’s poorest communities. Affiliated organizations have signed the London Declaration on NTDs, which was launched on 30 January 2012.

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I profoundly Respect The Partnerships And Values We Share-Trump in Goodwill Message To African Union
January 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

-Announces Extended Visit of Secretary Tillerson in March

By Ajong Mbapndah L

President Trump recently  met with with Rwanda's President Paul Kagame during the World Economic Summit in Devos

President Trump recently met with with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame during the World Economic Summit in Devos

U.S President Donald Trump has expressed respect for the partnerships and values his country shares with Africa.

In a message to the African Union as it meets for its 30th Summit, Trump says the U.S respects the people Africa while expressing his firm commitment to strong and respectful relationships with African States as sovereign nations.

The statement issued on July 25, commends the leadership of current Chairperson Moussa Faki as it works to transform the AU into an effective institution to advance economic prosperity peace and positive outcomes for Africa.

“We are working together to increase free, fair, and reciprocal trade between the United States and African countries, and partnering to improve transportation security and safeguard legal immigration,” the statement reads.

Describing seminal Summit   issues on advancing trade and development, resolving armed conflicts, and combatting corruption as critical for the future of Africa, President Trump said the African Union could count on the support and partnership of the U.S.

President Trump said he looked forward to building on relationships established during a lunch he had with African leaders on the sidelines of the last U.N General Assembly, and the Africa Ministerial Engagements in Washington.

The statement indicates that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Africa for an extended visit in March while the President looks forward to welcoming African leaders to Washington, DC.

Prior to his return from the World Economic Forum in Devos, Trump met with incoming Chairman of the Assembly, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda . President Trump faced a barrage of criticisms in the wake of remarks attributed to him describing Africa as a shithole. A number of U.S Ambassadors serving in Africa were forced to offer explanations on the statements of the President.

This can be considered as a good start says Ambassador Omar Arouna

This can be considered as a good start says Ambassador Omar Arouna

Describing the statement as a good start, Omar Arouna a former Ambassador of Benin to the USA and Managing Partner of the US-Africa Cyber Security Group thinks that this may be the closest to an apology Africa may get from a leader who is known to double down on his statements. Arouna, who is also a Member of the Washington, DC, Mayor’s Commission on Africa believes that the size, and importance of Africa, make it difficult for the Trump administration to ignore the continent.

 

 

 

 

 

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Africa Prefers Fair Trade to Marshall Plans –Nigerian VP Osinbajo
January 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
Remarks by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, The Vice President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, at an Interactive Session Titled “Stabilizing the Mediterranean” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, 24 January, 2018
 Prof. Yemi Osinbajo-VP of Nigeria

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo-VP of Nigeria

DAVOS, Switzerland, January 25, 2018/ — Remarks by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, The Vice President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, at an Interactive Session Titled “Stabilizing The Mediterranean” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, 24 January, 2018:

Q: How realistic is Africa replacing China as the factory of the world, how realistic is that? How do you look at the Marshall plan for Africa, is it something you think is credible?

Vice President: Let me begin with the Africa Rising narrative and all of the possibilities around Africa replacing China as the factory of the world. I think that probably is in the natural cause of things. Even now, we see that as wage costs go up in China, Africa is becoming the obvious choice for some certain industries, so it is clear that will happen and there are quite a few initiatives in that direction already; there are a few countries like Ivory Coast, Nigeria, with the development of Special Economic Zones, with partnerships coming from China.

I think those sorts of arrangements will very quickly absorb labour because obviously, you are looking at growing populations in Africa, the projections as you know are in the next 20 years or so, we are looking at the youth population… probably 70% of Africa’s population would be young people and Africa would probably about be the third largest population.

I think that the critical thing is to see that we cannot deal with this in any quick way, there are no quick fixes to this, we have got to look at this long term, because clearly there’s no way that African economies will ramp off quickly enough to be able to meet all of the expectations, especially all of the projections around population. So this is going to be a long walk and I think that it is important for all of us to see this as such.

The idea of the Marshall Plan is to me, in some sense, bringing old solutions to what really is a dynamic problem. I think that what Africa needs and what a lot of the southern neighbours of the Europeans need are fairer trade policies and a cocktail of policies that centre on job creation in those locations, more investments, but I think more thinking through those ideas and policies that creates more opportunities, partnership between Europe and Africa.

I don’t think that aid has worked through the years. I think that there’s a need for possibly just much more commitment to the whole process. I mean there have been multi-processes, several of them, but I certainly think that if we look at this as a major global problem and when you look around and look at extremism, terrorism and all of the various things that are exported along with illegal migration, it is a global problem and we really does deserve a global solution and the way to look at that is by coming together to reason these things through, but frankly it is not by those Marshal Plans off the shelf, I think it is more nuanced than that.

Q: Do you feel that values of human rights are being compromised in order for Europe to have tactical immediate solutions?

Vice President: I certainly agree that it was a great shock to see actual slave dealings in this century; it was absolutely horrifying to see that. What we are seeing is a degeneration of criminal activities where you find that state capacity is unable to maintain international human rights norms.

One of the crucial things is to encourage repatriation. Nigerian government for example is working with the Libyan government in repatriating everyone who is in the camps. It is a slow process because there are those who claim nationalities because they see a way out of the camps. There is also a great deal of willingness on the part of those who are in the camps to go back because it is entirely voluntary. There is pressure where there is no state capacity or inadequate state capacity to maintain law and order and international human rights norms. The pressure is a bit too much for the Libyan authorities, so what you find is that the criminal gangs and all of these asymmetric type organizations dominate the space and we may not be able to do much without relieving the Libyan authorities of a lot of the illegal migrants in their custody or their country.

Q: With a Yes or No, 5 years from now, are we still going to be seating here having the same discussion?

Vice President: Would you give us a chance to say, “I hope not?” (Laughter). I really suspect yes.

*Courtesy of Laolu Akande,Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity),Office of the Vice President

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Refugee Settlements To Be Transformed Into Digital Communities For Long-Term Economic Growth
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

Mastercard and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Power Africa Initiative Announce Powerful New Public-Private Coalition

Davos, Switzerland – January 24, 2018 – Mastercard and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced the launch of a public-private coalition that will bring together technology, solutions and experience from multiple sectors to transform refugee settlements into digitally-connected communities. This commitment delivers on a vision laid out in research conducted last year by Mastercard to better understand the critical needs of the over seven million refugees living in camps or settlements today.

The coalition, led by Mastercard and USAID’s Power Africa initiative, will launch pilot programs during the first half of 2018 to address some of the biggest barriers to development. For example, mobile phone and internet access is as critical to refugees’ safety and security as food, shelter and water. The organizations will work together to introduce internet and mobile connectivity, access to clean, efficient energy, and digital financial tools for communities in Kenya and Uganda, with plans to scale to other refugee-hosting countries around the world.

In addition to Mastercard and Power Africa, organizations participating in the coalition include: AccentureAcumenBRCKDanish Refugee CouncilEnergy Peace PartnersFenix InternationalGSMAThe Innovation VillageLutheran World FederationMercy CorpsMicrosoftMoving Energy InitiativeNetHopeNorwegian Refugee CouncilOff-Grid ElectricPawamePowerGen Renewable EnergySolarKioskTent FoundationUSAID Global Development LabU.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and MigrationVecna Cares Charitable Trusts, and World Vision.

“We’ve spent the past several years testing and learning with our partners to take what we do well as a technology company and apply it to help solve this humanitarian crisis,” said Tara Nathan, Executive Vice President, Public Private Partnerships, Mastercard. “Our payments technology has helped to reduce inefficiencies and expenses, add transparency, empower refugees, and stimulate local markets. Now we’re also acting as a force multiplier by combining our strengths with those of the coalition members to make an even bigger impact.”

Today, approximately 31 percent of the world’s refugees live in refugee camps or settlements. They are men, women and children who have fled from countries ravaged by war, political unrest and natural disasters, in hopes of a better life. But they spend an average of 10 years in exile, most often residing in low-and middle-income countries that are already under significant economic strain.

Uganda and Kenya are among the ten countries with the largest refugee populations. Uganda hosts 1.4 million refugees and is home to Bidi Bidi, currently the largest refugee settlement in the world. Kenya hosts approximately 490,000 refugees in settlements, including Kalobeyei, which was established in 2015 to improve the conditions of refugees and host communities through an economically integrated approach.

Mastercard recently published a recommendation for a new integrated model for refugee camps following a year of extensive research in the Kakuma and Kalobeyei camps in Kenya. The insights from the study helped identify the three key areas on which coalition members will focus:

  • Connectivity – Coalition members will work together to create accessible and resilient connectivity platforms that deliver vital information to refugees and host communities and enable efficient management of settlement operations.
  • Digital tools – Whether providing cash-based assistance or conducting outreach to refugees and host community members, agencies increasingly rely upon technology to effectively address needs. The coalition will work to design and implement an integrated set of identity, payment, and data tools that improve the delivery of essential services.
  • Energy access – Power is not provided in settlements as a service, so refugees often rely upon donated solar lanterns for basic light, and poor quality, expensive diesel generators for small businesses. The coalition members will implement solutions for providing energy access to refugees and host communities in a more efficient and low-cost way.

This coalition complements the UN General Assembly endorsed Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the Global Compact on Refugees, which seeks to ease pressure on host countries and enhance refugee self-reliance. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and lead for the CRRF, welcomes innovative private-public approaches to longstanding refugee situations that advance the sustainable development agenda and the CRRF.

The Tent Foundation’s Partnership for Refugees will host the Smart Communities Coalition website, enabling additional companies to join the effort to tailor their services to meet refugee and host community needs, a focus area for Tent. Mastercard joined the Tent Partnership in 2016, and this coalition is an extension of its pledge to explore better ways to integrate refugees in host communities.

Louise James, Managing Director, Accenture Development Partnerships:

“Accenture is proud to be a coalition member and to support the mission of this group. Our main goal is to help refugees have the connectivity they require through access to mobile phones and the internet. Connectivity will expand refugees’ access to critical vocational, health and safety information and services.”

Sherwin Das, Managing Director, Energy Peace Partners:

“Energy Peace Partners is pleased to be part of the Smart Communities Coalition and excited to leverage our Peace Renewable Energy Credit (PREC) instrument to drive new renewable energy investment in some of the world’s most fragile settings.”

Lyndsay Handler, CEO, Fenix International:

“Fenix is committed to providing affordable energy products and inclusive financing to the hundreds of millions of people in Africa living without access to the grid. We are proud to partner with the Smart Communities Coalition to find innovative technology and customer experience solutions to overcome the barriers of delivering clean energy and other life-changing products to this population.”

Lennart Hernander, Program Representative, Lutheran World Federation:

“LWF is proud to work with so many dedicated and professional partners in the ‘Smart Communities Coalition’. LWF has supported refugees in Kakuma for more than 25 years. We were among the first few partners present on the ground when the ‘Lost Boys’ from Sudan started to arrive.  We see the ‘Smart Communities Coalition’ as a major step towards a future-looking and integrated solution for refugees and local communities, which through connectivity and renewable energy will provide new opportunities for all. The Smart Communities Coalition approach empowers communities in a dignified and accountable manner, this is at the very core of LWFs vision and objectives globally.”

Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO, Mercy Corps:

“At Mercy Corps, we have long held the belief that to solve complex problems, we need to work together across sectors – public, private and nonprofit – to bring to bear our collective knowledge to design bold solutions. We’re thrilled to be a founding member of the Smart Communities Coalition and hopeful about the possibility to bring needed technology and other services to refugee settlements.”

Ben Good, Project Director, Moving Energy Initiative and CEO, Energy 4 Impact:

“The Moving Energy Initiative believes that a paradigm shift in the way humanitarian sector “does energy”, including new types of partnership with the private sector, can create major benefits for the environment, for the agencies and for displaced persons.  And, as it is with energy access, so it is with connectivity and the digital economy. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with the Smart Communities Coalition.”

Lauren Woodman, CEO, NetHope:

“Internet connectivity is a lifeline that connects refugees to information, resources, and opportunities. Put simply: Information is aid.”

Neil Turner, Kenya Country Director, Norwegian Refugee Council:

“Offering refugees increasing livelihood opportunities, unleashing their entrepreneurial skills, and creating environmentally friendly, energy efficient ways of doing this, is at the heart of the NRC’s work in Kenya.”

Xavier Helgesen, CEO and Co-Founder, Off-Grid Electric:

“We have long been a proud partner of Power Africa, and are thrilled by the opportunity to use our technology and experience in Africa to serve refugee communities with affordable & reliable power.”

Maurice Parets, CEO, Pawame:

“Pawame is a social enterprise distributing solar home systems in Turkana County, where Kakuma refugee camp is located. We launched our operations in September 2017 and Pawame is committed to creating jobs by distributing its solar home system, empowering the lives of refugees and reducing the carbon footprint. Through our solar home systems, which provide lighting, phone charging and television, we will empower refugees with increased energy access.”

Andreas Spiess, CEO and Co-Founder, SolarKiosk:

“SOLARKIOSK is thrilled to be one of the founding members of the Smart Communities Coalition. We look forward to enabling our solar powered infrastructure, the E-HUBB, to become an integral part of the Coalition’s mission to bring renewable energy and economic generating opportunities to refugee and host communities.  With a network of over 200 E-HUBBs across Africa and Asia, experience with refugee and host communities in the Middle East and over five years of know-how in providing retail products and energy services to underserved markets, SOLARKIOSK can greatly contribute to the transformation led by the Coalition.”

Paul Amendola, Executive Director, VecnaCares:

“VecnaCares is excited to be a member of the coalition. Our goal is to develop and deploy an electronic medical records system and CliniPAK to help close the information gaps between patients, caregivers, and decision-makers. Digital patient-centered data in real-time will impact and improve patient health, clinical treatment, and medical resources for refugees.”

Kevin Jenkins, President and CEO, World Vision International:

“The Smart Communities Coalition represents the positive shift in how private and public partners are working together to address growing humanitarian needs, especially in refugee settings. As part of the Smart Communities Coalition, World Vision will work with our partners to identify technologies and approaches that will expedite the delivery of services to reduce the vulnerabilities of children and build self-reliance for their families, particularly in fragile and conflict contexts.”

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Next Einstein Forum launches survey to measure gender gap in STEM education and research in Africa
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
Female NEF fellows

Female NEF fellows

KIGALI, Rwanda, 24 January 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA) – The Next Einstein Forum (NEF), an initiative of the Africa Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with Robert Bosch Stiftung, today announces the launch of an important survey that hopes to measure the existing gender gap in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) education and research in Africa.

The survey results will be announced through a report released at the NEF Global Gathering 2018 to be held 26-28 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Further, the results will inform a White Paper to be unpacked during the highly anticipated panel on bridging the gap for women in science and technology to be held on the first day of the NEF Global Gathering 2018.

“The NEF and our AIMS Women in STEM (AIMSWIS) Initiative are committed to promoting scientific excellence and gender equity. We believe the two go hand in hand, improving scientific output and outcomes. We have launched this survey to get a better understanding of what barriers exist and what best practices can be adopted organically to advance gender equity in STEM education and research on our continent,” said Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS and Chairman of the NEF.

Questions will focus on participants’ academic journey and work experience including the opportunities and barriers faced along the way. The results will be compiled in a report which will provide much needed primary data to inform discussion and recommendations among policy makers, academic institutions, funding partners and civil society.

Central to the NEF’s vision of propelling Africa onto the global scientific stage, the NEF actively works to increase women’s representation in STEM fields in Africa and globally. Leading by example, NEF Fellows and Ambassadors cohorts comprise at least 40% women.

To participate in the survey, click here. The first 100 completed surveys will receive a participation prize.

Launched in 2013, the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The NEF is a platform that connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world – with the goal to leverage science for human development globally. The NEF believes that Africa’s contributions to the global scientific community are critical for global progress. At the centre of NEF efforts are Africa’s young people, the driving force for Africa’s scientific renaissance. The NEF is a unique youth-driven forum. At our headline biennial scientific events, 50% of participants are 42 or younger. Far from being an ordinary science forum, the NEF Global Gatherings position science at the centre of global development efforts. The next NEF Global Gathering will be held on 26-28 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. In addition, through our Communities of Scientists, we showcase the contributions of Africa’s brilliant youth to Africa’s scientific emergence through its class of NEF Fellows, who are Africa’s top scientists and technologists under the age of 42, and NEF Ambassadors, who are the NEF’s 54 science and technology ambassadors on the ground.

The NEF is also working together with partners such as the African Academy of Sciences, Ministers’ of Education, Science and Research across Africa, foundations and other global scientific and private sector companies, to build an African scientific identity. By bringing together key stakeholders, the NEF hopes to drive the discussion from policy to implementation by leveraging buy in and best practice results from Africa and the world. Have a look at our benchmark Dakar Declaration.

Finally, the NEF is telling untold stories of scientific research and innovation across the continent through our various platforms. We want to recalibrate what ‘innovation’ means in Africa. We want to make the link between science and technology, even basic sciences, to everyday life. We want the public involved in science and we have recently concluded the first coordinated Africa Science Week – an annual three to five day celebration of science and technology through coordinated science events across the continent. We believe the next Einstein will be African.

The NEF has been endorsed by the African Union Commission, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Governments of Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa, the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and a growing number of private sector and civil society partners from across the world who are passionate about positioning Africa’s scientific community as an influential member in the global scientific community, which will ensure sustainable human development in Africa and other parts of the world.

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African Union Diaspora Headquarters to be established in Accompong Jamaica
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
Accompong Minister of Finance, Hon. Timothy E. McPherson Jr., salutes Ambassador Quao as she confirms AU Diaspora Headquarters to be established in Accompong

Accompong Minister of Finance, Hon. Timothy E. McPherson Jr., salutes Ambassador Quao as she confirms AU Diaspora Headquarters to be established in Accompong

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 24 January 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- African Union Permanent Ambassador to the USA, Hon. Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao, has re-affirmed the decision to establish an African Union Diaspora Headquarters in Accompong Jamaica during the official ceremony to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Peace Treaty between the Accompong Maroons and the British.

The Ambassador applauded the Maroons for maintaining their African cultural heritage and traditions, and described the Maroon state as being a piece of Africa in the heart of the Caribbean.

The Right Hon. Colonel Ferron Williams, Accompong Head of State, welcomed the decision and said “Today we Maroons are vindicated for having fought to defend our African heritage and identity. We are honoured by our ancestors valor and victory against European colonialism.”

AU Ambassador Arikana Chihombori Quao addresses the nation during the 280th Accompong Maroon Festival and announces new AU Diaspora Headquarters to be built in Accompong.

AU Ambassador Arikana Chihombori Quao addresses the nation during the 280th Accompong Maroon Festival and announces new AU Diaspora Headquarters to be built in Accompong.

The new headquarters will be used to consolidate the African Diaspora in a strategic cooperation with the African Union, Governments and key institutions. The African Union officially recognizes the Diaspora as the Sixth Region of the Union, but it is widely accepted that the Diaspora must become organized before it can have a meaningful engagement with the continent.

Accompong’s Minster of Finance, Hon. Timothy McPherson, was instrumental in brokering the agreement which he describes as signaling “a new era of economic cooperation and development between Africa and the Diaspora. This cooperation is what the African family has been waiting for during the last 500 years, now that its here let’s return to building wonders of wonders and achieving things the world is yet to imagine. ”

The Headquarters is expected to begin its operations in February 2018.

 
 

The African Union Representational Mission to the United States of America is the first bilateral diplomatic mission of the African Union. Officially launched on July 11, 2007 in Washington, DC, its mandate is to undertake, develop and maintain constructive and productive institutional relationships between the African Union and the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government, the African Diplomatic Corps, the Africans in the Diaspora, and the Bretton Woods Institutions through.

Sovereign State of Accompong
This state is a nation within the nation of the island of Jamaica. The Maroon settlement of Accompong perched high up in the mountains of St. Elizabeth in western Jamaica was founded in 1739, established after rebel slaves and their descendants fought a protracted war with the British, the runaway Maroon slaves signed a peace treaty with the British to gain semi-sovereignty over the area. Accompong is a little piece of Africa in the heart of the Caribbean.

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African Union Commission to launch highly-anticipated Single African Sky
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire
The African Union Commission is set to launch the first AU Agenda
2063 Flagship project, the Single African Air Transport Market
(SAATM), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 28th January 2018 as a historic
event at the African Union Summit, nearly two decades after the
adoption of the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision.

Speaking ahead of the launch event, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner
for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission said
“With preparations continuing on schedule, the launch of the Single
African Air Transport Market will spur more opportunities to promote
trade, cross-border investments in the production and service
industries, including tourism resulting in the creation of an
additional 300,000 direct and two million indirect jobs contributing
immensely to the integration and socio-economic growth of the
continent.”

The Commissioner stated that the aviation industry currently
supports 8 million jobs in Africa and hence SAATM was created with the
aim of enhancing connectivity, facilitating trade and tourism,
creating employment, and ensuring that the industry plays a more
prominent role in the global economy and significantly contributing to
the AU’s Agenda 2063.

“The AU Summit will also see the adoption of the regulatory text of
the Yamoussoukro Decision, that is, the competition and consumer
protection regulations that safeguards the efficient operation of the
market,” the Commissioner added.

An exhibition billed “Flying the AU Agenda 2063 for an integrated,
peaceful and prosperous Africa” will be unveiled to mark the launch,
as well as ribbon cutting and the inauguration of the commemorative
plaque.

So far, 23 African countries out of 55 have subscribed to the Single
African Air Transport Market whereas 44 African countries signed the
Yamoussoukro Decision.

“The African Union Commission, under the leadership and personal
commitment of H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, has been playing a key
coordinating role in the establishment of the Single African Air
Transport Market and advocacy to AU Member States, who have not yet
committed to the solemn commitment, to do so,” the Commissioner
intimated.

The African Union Commission (AUC), the African Civil Aviation
Commission (AFCAC), the International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the
African Airlines Association (AFRAA) are also advising African
countries to open their skies for enhancement of connectivity and
efficiency of air services in the continent.

“As the first of the 12 African Union’s Agenda 2063 flagship projects
to be launched, the implementation of SAATM will pave the way for
other flagship projects as the African Passport and enabling the Free
Movement of People, the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA),”
Commissioner Abou-Zeid stressed.

The Declaration on the establishment of a Single African Air Transport
Market, as a flagship project of the AU Agenda 2063, was adopted by
the African Union (AU) Assembly in January 2015. Immediately
thereafter, eleven (11) AU Member States declared their Solemn
Commitment to establish a Single African Air Transport Market through
full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 that provides
for full liberalization of market access between African States, free
exercise of traffic rights, elimination of restrictions on ownership
and full liberalization of frequencies, fares and capacities.

To date, the number of Member States that have adhered to the Solemn
Commitment has reached twenty-three (23), namely: Benin, Botswana,
Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia,
Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger,
Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and
Zimbabwe.

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Ugandan president: Why I love Trump
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

-Uganda’s Museveni: I love Trump for being frank with Africans

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has given a speech declaring his “love” for US President Donald Trump.

Earlier this month, Mr Trump was accused of referring to African nations as “shithole” countries during an immigration meeting.

Mr Trump has denied making the remarks but US senators who attended the meeting say that he did.

The African Union demanded that Mr Trump apologise for his “clearly racist” comments.

“America has got one of the best presidents ever,” Mr Museveni said to laughter during the opening of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in the Ugandan capital of Kampala.

“I love Trump because he tells Africans frankly. The Africans need to solve their problems, the Africans are weak.”

Mr Museveni’s comments are in opposition to the reaction of many leaders who have condemned Mr Trump’s language.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron told the BBC that he shared Africa’s outrage.

On Monday, people in Haiti, another country that Mr Trump disparaged, protested against the president’s remarks.

Mr Museveni’s defence of the US president came just hours after the US ambassador to Uganda criticised Mr Trump.

“[His words] are obviously quite disturbing and upsetting,” Deborah Malac said.

Mr Trump allegedly used the term “shithole countries” when asking why the US should accept immigrants from Haiti and some countries in Africa.

In 2017, Mr Trump allegedly said that Afghanistan was a terrorist haven; all people from Haiti “have Aids”, and that Nigerians would never “go back to their huts” once allowed into the US, the New York Times reported.

The White House denied Mr Trump made the comments.

*BBC

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Morocco launches 2026 World Cup campaign and logo
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
Morocco is up against a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States to host the World Cup

Morocco is up against a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States to host the World Cup

Morocco has launched its campaign to host the 2026 World Cup in Casablanca.

The North African nation, making its fifth bid to host the finals, faces competition from a joint bid proposed by Canada, Mexico and the USA.

“Morocco 2026 will showcase the best of football, at the heart of the world,” bid chairman Moulay Hafid Elalamy said at Tuesday’s launch.

The decision on who will host the event will be made on 13 June, the eve of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow.

“We promise to stage a tournament overflowing with real passion and to celebrate the values of unity and peace,” added Elalamy.

“A World Cup in Morocco will deliver commercial success and leave a long-lasting legacy and if we win the honour of hosting we believe the winners will be football, the young people of our nation, Africa and the world.”

No details were given about the host cities, with the vote to determine the host less than five months away.

The North African nation has failed in four previous World Cup bids – in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010.

In 2010, the tournament was hosted by South Africa as the continent staged the World Cup for first – and so far only – time in its history.

Morocco is looking to change all that and has appointed Elalamy, a government minister, to lead the bid while former Confederation of African Football Secretary General Hicham El Amrani will be its chief executive.

Former Caf Secretary General Hicham El Amrani (right)
Former Caf Secretary General Hicham El Amrani is the CEO of Morocco’s bid

Fouzi Lekjaa, the head of Morocco’s Football Federation (FRMF), said at Tuesday’s launch: “This is an important moment as we begin to showcase our bid to Morocco, the international community and Fifa’s National Associations.

“We have assembled a committed, experienced team to bring our vision to life.”

Rachid Talbi El Alami, Morocco’s minister of youth and sports, said that the country’s infrastructure is more ready than at any time to host an expanded World Cup, with 48 teams set to play in the 2026 finals.

“Morocco has made rapid progress since 2003 – in sport, infrastructure, hotels, airports, motorways and public transport networks,” said Talbi El Alami.

 *BBC
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Africa need to be recolonized, but this time by Africans themselves.
January 24, 2018 | 1 Comments

By  Gareth Morris*

Moussa Fakir Mahamat, the President of the African Union Commission

Moussa Fakir Mahamat, the President of the African Union Commission

Unfortunately corruption and bad leadership in Africa is not just caused by greed, it’s also coming from the failure of other African leaders in the past who had good intentions and wanted to develop their country and create a prosperous life for their people but end up becoming a target of the west who would assassinate them like Patrice Lumumba.

So to keep themselves safe they avoid following those leaders and work with the west to exploit Africa. And with the failure of Zimbabwe’s economy after Mugabe tried to do the right thing, many African leaders are afraid of following him so their country can be freed from white control.

Plus with the growing influence China now have in Africa, many African leaders are now slaves to foreign power and even if they wanted to put the interest of Africans first, they can’t.

So as you can see, it has become impossible to depend on Government leaders in Africa to put their fellow Africans first so Africans can live a happy prosperous life because of the increasing influence different foreign powers have in Africa today.

This problem is not unique to Africa. Globalization has given richer countries power and control over poorer ones which make it difficult for poorer countries to develop.

So in order to stop foreign powers from exploiting Africa so that Africans can start benefiting from Africa’s resources, Africans will have to take control of their countries by taking control of their Government leaders.

Just like how people from other countries are able to take control of our Government leaders and assassinate them whenever they refuse to do what they want, we Africans are able to do the same as well to get what we want.

So in order for Africa and Black countries worldwide to strive, we need Pro Black Pan Africans to be in control of the Government, military and economy.

That can easily be accomplished by creating an organization run by Pro Black Pan Africans who’s job is to hold Government leaders responsible and punish them when they fail to do the right thing.

With such an organization, Africans and their countries would be protected from corruption, exploitation and other problems.

We also need an organization similar to the CIA and MOSSAD of Israel to protect the interest of Africa and Africans worldwide from foreign powers. Everyone have an organization to protect their interest, so why shouldn’t we as well?

*Gareth Morris and I’m a 27 year old entrepreneur from Jamaica. He identifies humself as a Pan Africanist who’s goal is to empower fellow Africans though knowledge so they can free and protect themselves for oppression. The views expressed are his

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: The legacy of Africa’s first elected female president
January 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Tamasin Ford*

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made history as Africa's first elected female president

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made history as Africa’s first elected female president

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made history as Africa’s first elected female president, but also faced accusations of corruption and nepotism. How will she be remembered?

Mrs Sirleaf’s story is pitted with remarkable feats of defiance and courage, entangled with accusations of corruption and nepotism.

Just days before she was due to step down from 12 historic years in power, she was expelled from her own political party. Some people hold her up as their saviour; others say she’s just like all the rest.

“The best thing she did is the peace she kept for us,” said 22-year-old Jenneh Sebo, who was sitting lazily in the scorching sun drumming down on the capital Monrovia when I saw her ahead of the country’s election in October last year.

This is not an uncommon answer. Liberians went through 14 years of barbaric, drug fuelled, chaotic war, where child soldiers carried out the most unspeakable crimes. Myriad rebel groups reigned over towns and cities with terror, stripping the country of any semblance of infrastructure.

Hospitals, schools, roads and even lamp-posts were destroyed; the latter out of a belief that enemy soldiers could turn themselves into one. So to be thankful for peace is not a flippant response.

However, 15 years on from the end of the war people have long begun demanding more from their government. Jenneh, too young to remember much of the fighting, was sitting in the sun because she did not have a job and had not been in education since high school.

The same month, on a grassy field opposite President Sirleaf’s house in the more affluent Sinkor area of Monrovia, hundreds of women dressed in white danced to music blasting from massive speakers. The musicians sang “we want peace in Liberia, peace in Monrovia”, the song Ivorian reggae star Alpha Blondy wrote about their country during the war in 1992.

Many of these women launched a mass peace movement in 2003 that helped finally end war. They organised sex strikes, until their men put down their arms. They forced a meeting with President Charles Taylor, getting him to agree to go to Ghana for peace talks. Once there, they surrounded the room threatening to take off their clothes until some sort of peace deal was reached.

Women in Peacebuilding Network activists in October 2017Image copyrightAFP
Image captionFemale peace activists helped get Mrs Sirleaf elected in the past

It was these women who then rallied the country to vote for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005.

“We don’t want no problem again,” said 73-year-old Kula Freeman, who remembers the war in all its graphic detail. “We don’t want no wahala,” her friend, 65-year-old Kwa Sheriff said, chipping in over her shoulder. Wahala is the Liberian word used to describe anything from an argument in the street to a full out war. They are both happy for the peace President Sirleaf brought to the country.

Behind them, activist Leymah Gbowee, who won the Nobel Peace Prize alongside President Sirleaf in 2011, began rallying the ladies together. She was one of the key figures who led the peace movement at the end of the war.

Ms Gbowee said Mrs Sirleaf will always be remembered for becoming the continent’s first elected female president. But for Ms Gbowee, that is all she has achieved.

“In terms of delivering a women’s agenda we really didn’t see that,” she said.

Ms Sirleaf (L) and Mr Weah (R)Image copyrightEPA
Image captionMrs Sirleaf (L) is to be replaced as president by former footballer George Weah (R)

President Sirleaf is not a warm, cosy character and she certainly didn’t focus on women during her 12 years in power. However, the Harvard-trained economist did erase nearly $5bn (£3.2bn) in debilitating foreign debt after three years of being in office, paving the way for foreign investment and boosting the annual government budget from $80m to $516m by 2011.

But Ms Gbowee expected more for women.

“She’s said she’s not a feminist, that feminism is extremism,” she exclaimed. “I say, well, if it is I’m a proud extremist.”

Under President Sirleaf’s tenure a new, tougher rape law came into force but was then amended, reducing the tough sentences and making it a bailable offence.

During her final week in office, President Sirleaf signed an executive order on domestic violence, protecting women, men and children against “physical, sexual, economical, emotional and psychological abuses”.

She is however disappointed that a key part of her proposal, the abolition of female genital mutilation (FGM) against young girls under the age of 18, was removed.

“It undermines the very essence of the law and leaves it incomplete”, Mrs Sirleaf’s spokesman said of the amendment by the Senate and House of Representatives.

Mr Weah grew up in Monrovia's Gibraltar slumImage copyrightEPA
Image captionMr Weah grew up in Monrovia’s Gibraltar slum – a reminder that much of the country remains poor

Many thought a female president would pave the way for more women in politics. Yet, not unlike the Thatcher era in the UK, Mrs Sirleaf’s departure also marks the departure of women in power. Of 19 presidential candidates there was only one woman, 40-year-old Macdella Cooper, a former girlfriend of incoming President George Weah.

“She didn’t have enough women in the house of parliament to help push bills to support women initiatives,” said Cooper.

“Economically she didn’t have enough women to approve budgets or at least create and craft budgets that will support women. So, she had her limitations.”

Despite sharing the title of Nobel Laureate, Mrs Sirleaf and Ms Gbowee haven’t spoken since Ms Gbowee said she “criticised her government for corruption and nepotism”.

An Ebola victim in MonroviaImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionHealth officials were not being paid when the Ebola outbreak arrived in the country

Mrs Sirleaf has long come under fire for appointing three of her sons to top government posts, something she has always defended. Up to 20 members of her family have had government positions at some point. As for the charge of corruption, in 2006 Sirleaf declared corruption “public enemy number one” only to be hit with a flurry of scandals.

Civil servants routinely went unpaid; most notoriously health officials in Lofa County in the north west of the country just as Ebola crept across the border from Guinea. The devastating virus killed nearly 5,000 people, leaving the country reeling and its health system in tatters.

Despite all this, Mrs Sirleaf was a history-maker. Her presidency may have been riddled with corruption and nepotism, but she proved to the world that a woman can dismantle the patriarchal seat of power.

“One thing we can brag and boast of, she broke the glass ceiling,” said Ms Gbowee.

“That’s a huge inspiration for women.”

*Culled from BBC

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Volkswagen opens new plant in Rwanda
January 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Operations for the new Volkswagen plant in Kigali, Rwanda have started just a month after the company concluded its feasibility study. The plant is expected to meet local demand for cars in its first years of production before it starts looking at exporting to the rest of the African continent.

In December 2016, Volkswagen South Africa Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Schafer signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the then RDB Chief Executive Officer, Francis Gatare. The MoU among other things laid the foundation for the Volkswagen Kigali Plant.

Volkswagen and the government of Rwanda agreed to do a feasibility study in 2017. In December 2017, Volkswagen South Africa Group announced that it had concluded the feasibility study and was encouraged by the potential of Rwanda. From the feasibility study, Volkswagen resolved that it would entirely target the Rwandan market at least for the first years of operation. The study revealed that the Rwandan market needs 2 000 to 3 000 cars per year. However, for a start, Volkswagen will start with a production of 1 000 cars per year but will increase that figure year on year depending on the uptake and the company’s performance against imported cars.

The Volkswagen chief executive said that they were aiming to officially open their doors mid-year but were forced to do so earlier due to the impressive results of the feasibility study. He, however, stated that production would start at the scheduled date that is in June this year.

The Volkswagen Kigali Plant will be manufacturing two models. Production will mostly focus on the new ‘Think Blue’ model. The Think Blue model is a new VW model that is environmentally friendly. The Think Blue model is easy to maintain and it’s low on fuel consumption and gas emission. Volkswagen says it’s going to manufacture this new model as it aims to stay in line with the country’s environmental policies.

Volkswagen will also be manufacturing the electric version of the VW Golf model albeit in small numbers. The VW Gold model is the most popular VW model in Africa thus Volkswagen wants to cater for the needs of those who prefer the more established model.

Schafer says either Rwandans can purchase the cars or they may make use of the company’s lease program.

Volkswagen says they are committed to development in Rwanda hence with the new plant; they will help by creating employment opportunities for locals and making Rwanda a pioneer in technology and innovation. Volkswagen says it has already engaged with some Germany companies as it seeks to create a local technical academy to ease the transfer of skills and technology.

As Volkswagen initial capital injection exceeds $50 million, the company stands a chance to get a tax holiday for a seven-year period. The incentive is reserved for investments in the ICT, Health, Tourism, Energy, and Manufacturing sectors.

The Volkswagen Kigali Plant is the fourth Volkswagen Plant on the continent after South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.

The Volkswagen Kigali Plant becomes the second largest investment in the country after American firm Symbion Energy signed a $370 million deal with the Rwandan government for the methane-generated power plant in Lake Kivu.

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Ethiopian airlines to start flights to Kisangani and Mbuji Mayi in the DRC
January 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest Aviation Group in Africa and SKYTRAX certified four star global airline, will launch new flights to Kisangani and Mbuji Mayi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from March, 2018.

The DRC, the largest country in Francophone Africa, is among the most resource-rich countries on the planet with an abundance of gold, tantalum, tungsten, and tin, all minerals used in electronics such as cell phones and laptops.

Ethiopian airlines Group CEO, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, said, “We are delighted to include Mbuji-Mayi and Kisangani to our ever extending global and African network. This will also increase our gateways in the Democratic Republic of Congo to five which includes Kinshasa,Goma and Lubumbashi. Our flights to Mbuji-Mayi and Kisangani will enable travellers from and to these two economically important cities to enjoy convenient and seamless connectivity to our global network of over 100 international destinations stretching across 5 continents in Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East.

We thank the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the support extended to us for the launch of the new flights.”Ethiopian is expanding its global network with a plan to 10 new destinations in just six months of the 2018 calendar year.

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The Murder of Lumumba
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

Dr. G.K. Busch

Photo: Lumumba raises his arms, injured by shackles, after his release from prison

Photo: Lumumba raises his arms, injured by shackles, after his release from prison

Fifty-four years ago today the leading nationalist figure of the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) Patrice Emery Lumumba was murdered by the Belgians.

The parallels with today’s Africa are so stark that perhaps a fuller description is necessary.

The Belgians, who had just recently been compelled to allow its colony to reach independence in June 1960, continued to demand a strong and decisive role in Congolese affairs despite this independence; or, if that was not possible, to separate the mineral-rich region of Katanga from the rest of the Congo to remain under Belgian control through its puppet Moise Tshombe.

The main protagonist in the struggle for independence was Patrice Lumumba, who became head of the MNC (Mouvement National Congolais) and then, at independence, the first Prime Minister of the new state. The Belgian point of view was made clear when Lumumba was not invited to participate in the Independence celebrations. The Belgians insisted on keeping many of its colonial officers in charge of key positions in the Congolese administration. Most of the officers in the Army were still Belgians after independence. At independence there were only eight African college graduates in the whole of the Congo. It was a General Jannsens who announced to the troops that their pay would not increase after independence and that they would remain under Belgian officers. The army revolted and civil disorder spread across the land, fostered and armed by the Belgians. This disorder had the required effect and on the 11th of July 1960 Katanga seceded from the Congo. The Belgians and their giant mining complex, Union Miniere, adopted Tshombe as their own.

The United Nations sent its first peacekeeping mission to Africa; to the Congo, but it was ineffectual. It refused to intervene in the Katanga secession so Lumumba was powerless to seek the re-unification of the province. Unable to garner Western or UN support he turned to the Soviet Union to send weapons, airplanes, trucks and medicines to the Congolese forces opposing Katanga. This triggered off a major Cold War crisis. The US and the UK joined with Belgium to support Katangan secession and the ouster of Lumumba.

In a series of documentaries by the BBC in London in 2000 the records of their intervention were exposed. Ludo de Witte uncovered documents in the Belgian archives showing that Moise Tshombe, who led the secession, acted on orders from the Belgian government, which has always claimed that it only sent troops into Katanga to protect Belgian lives and property. De Witte’s researches have shown that the Belgians plotted to dismember the Congo. US Documents released August 2000 revealed that President Eisenhower directly ordered the CIA to assassinate Lumumba. Minutes of an August 1960 National Security Council meeting confirm that Eisenhower told CIA chief Allen Dulles to “eliminate” Lumumba. The official note taker, Robert H. Johnson, had told the Senate Intelligence Committee this in 1975, but no documentary evidence was previously available to back up his statement. A British Foreign Office document from September 1960 notes the opinion of a top ranking official, who later became the head of MI5, that, “I see only two possible solutions to the [Lumumba] problem. The first is the simple one of ensuring [his] removal from the scene by killing him.”

Their first step was to promote a military coup in the Congo. On 14 September 1960 Col. Joseph Desiree Mobuto, with the active assistance of the US and the UN, overthrew the Kasavubu-Lumumba government and took power. Lumumba was placed under house arrest but escaped to Stanleyville. Mobutu’s troops captured him on 1 December 1960 and Lumumba was flown back to Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) where he was placed in prison. The Russians raised the issue in the Security Council and asked for the immediate release of Lumumba, the jailing of Mobutu and the evacuation of the Belgians from the Congo. The UN refused as it said this would cause severe problems in the Congo.

Their problem was resolved with the forced flight of Lumumba, in chains to Elizabethville (Lubumbashi) on 17 January 1961. According to the documentaries, he was conducted under arrest to Brouwez House and held there bound and gagged. Later that night, Lumumba was driven to an isolated spot where three firing squads had been assembled. According to David Akerman, Ludo de Witte and Kris Hollington, the firing squads were commanded by a Belgian, Captain Julien Gat, and another Belgian, Police Commissioner Verscheure, had overall command of the execution site. Lumumba was killed that night.

Patrice Lumumba unwittingly wrote his own epitaph in a letter to his wife, Pauline, from his cell in December 1960. Perhaps it should be compulsory reading in all African schools.

“My dear companion,

I write you these words without knowing if they will reach you, when they will reach you, or if I will still be living when you read them. All during the length of my fight for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and myself have consecrated our lives. But what we wish for our country, its right to an honourable life, to a spotless dignity, to an independence without restrictions, Belgian colonialism and its Western allies-who have found direct and indirect support, deliberate and not deliberate among certain high officials of the United Nations, this organization in which we placed all our confidence when we called for their assistance-have not wished it. They have corrupted certain of our fellow countrymen; they have contributed to distorting the truth and to bring our independence into dishonour.

What else could I say? Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not I who counts. It is the Congo; it is our poor people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage from whose confines the outside world looks on us, sometimes with kindly sympathy, but at other times with joy and pleasure. But my faith will remain unshakeable. I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will get rid of our internal and external enemies, that they will rise up like a single person to say no to a degrading and shameful colonialism and to reassume their dignity under a pure sun.

We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and free and liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese. They will not abandon the light until the day comes when there are no more colonizers and their mercenaries in our country. To my children whom I leave and whom perhaps I will see no more, I wish that they be told that the future of the Congo is beautiful and that it expects for each Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstruction of our independence and our sovereignty; for without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.

No brutality, mistreatment, or torture has ever forced me to ask for grace, for I prefer to die with my head high, my faith steadfast, and my confidence profound in the destiny of my country, rather than to live in submission and scorn of sacred principles. History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that Brussels, Paris, Washington or the United Nations will teach, but that which they will teach in the countries emancipated from colonialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and it will be, to the north and to the south of the Sahara, a history of glory and dignity.

Do not weep for me, my dear companion. I know that my country, which suffers so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty.

Long live the Congo! Long live Africa!”

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African energy stakeholders to meet leading international businesses in Washington, D.C. to discuss investment partnerships
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
U.S. Governmental agencies and leading businesses unite to explore partnerships that will provide predictability and security in the development phase of energy projects in Africa
Networking evening at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit in March 2017

Networking evening at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit in March 2017

LONDON, United Kingdom, January 18, 2018/ — The Powering Africa: Summit (www.PoweringAfrica-Summit.com) will return for a fourth year to the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington D.C. from 28 February to 2nd March 2018 to discuss opportunities to develop and invest in power projects on the African continent.

US intergovernmental agencies confirmed for the summit including OPIC, Power Africa and USAID are increasing their objectives for the African continent as well as their involvement in the development of projects from a more varied mix of technologies.

In numerous conversations with EnergyNet (www.EnergyNet.com), Department of State and Department of Energy communicated a clear determination to play a greater role in Africa, promoting commercial partnerships and progressing deals at an increased pace which will be measured to help navigate bottlenecks more effectively.

Whilst the market has hesitated in some key economies, the likes of Uganda, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Zambia and Ghana are booming with projects including the multibillion dollar Uganda-Tanzania Oil Pipeline, which has investors buzzing.

Simon Gosling, Managing Director of EnergyNet comments:

“South Africa has struggled over the last 24 months to finalise the renewable IPPs, these projects are now progressing because of increased localisation and BPE engagement which will allow these PPAs to finally be signed in the coming weeks. This will trigger the Gas IPP Programme which will be a huge opportunity for foreign investors and gas providers as well as being transformative for the development of the country.”

“On a recent trip to South Africa, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry noted how energy increases security for the young. An obvious corollary is how increased security increases confidence which enables better learning, stronger ideas and employment, and in the end a more ready and able consumer – which will really turn the lights on across the continent.”

From these perspectives, Africa should be emboldened to negotiate a greater volume of deals and at the 4th Powering Africa Summit a significant number of these conversations will commence.

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2018 African Economic Outlook: African Development Bank makes a compelling case for Africa’s industrialization
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Bank would organise the Africa Investment Forum on November 7-8, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to mobilise funds for infrastructure development, to bridge an estimated funding gap of $130-$170 billion a year
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, January 19, 2018/ — The President of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), Akinwumi Adesina, has made a compelling case for accelerating Africa’s industrialization in order to create jobs, reduce poverty and promote inclusive economic growth.

Citing data from the Bank’s 2018 African Economic Outlook (http://APO.af/GHTmei) launched in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on Wednesday, Adesina said infrastructure projects were among the most profitable investments any society can make as they “significantly contribute to, propel, and sustain a country’s economic growth. Infrastructure, when well managed, provides the financial resources to do everything else.”

Noting that economic diversification is key to resolving many of the continent’s difficulties, he urged African governments to encourage a shift toward labour-intensive industries, especially in rural areas where 70 percent of the continent’s population resides.

“Agriculture must be at the forefront of Africa’s industrialization,” he said, adding that integrated power and adequate transport infrastructure would facilitate economic integration, support agricultural value chain development and economies of scale which drive industrialization.

He reminded the audience of policy-makers and members of the diplomatic corps in Côte d’Ivoire that economic diversification via industrialization with tangible investment in human capital will enable the continent’s rapidly growing youth population to successfully transition to productive technology-based sectors.

Adesina also highlighted the relatively unknown win-win situation that Africa’s industrialization can generate within the developed world, citing data from the report, which notes that “increasing the share of manufacturing in GDP in Africa (and other Less Developing Countries) could boost investment in the G20 by about US $485 billion and household consumption by about US $1.4 trillion.”

The Bank President highlighted various innovative ways in which African countries can generate capital for infrastructure development and what the Bank is doing through its ambitious High 5 (http://APO.af/6D641c) development agenda to address the issues raised in the report.

He announced that the Bank would organise the Africa Investment Forum on November 7-8, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to mobilise funds for infrastructure development, to bridge an estimated funding gap of $130-$170 billion a year, up from previous estimates of US $100 billion per year.

New infrastructure financing gap estimates and innovative ways through which African countries can raise funds for infrastructure development are among the highlights of the 2018 edition of the report, which was launched at the Bank’s headquarters for the first time in the publication’s 15-year history.

The African Economic Outlook was first published in 2003 and launched mostly in various African capitals outside the Bank’s headquarters in May each year.

In his remarks, Célestin Monga, the Bank’s Chief Economist and Vice-President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management, said the African Economic Outlook has become the flagship report for the African Development Bank, providing data and reference material on Africa’s development that are of interest to researchers, investors, civil society organizations, development partners and the media.

This year’s edition focuses on macroeconomic development and structural changes in Africa, and outlines economic prospects for 2018. The report emphasizes the need to develop Africa’s infrastructure, and recommends new strategies and innovative financing instruments for countries to consider, depending on levels of development and specific circumstances.

Abebe Shimeles, Acting Director, Macroeconomic Policy, Forecasting and Research, said the Bank will publish Regional Economic Outlooks for Africa’s five sub-regions. The self-contained, independent reports, to be released at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in May 2018, will focus on priority areas of concern for each sub-region and provide analysis of the economic and social landscape, among other key issues.

Participants at the launch session, moderated by the Bank’s Director of Communications and External Relations, Victor Oladokun, included members of the diplomatic community in Côte d’Ivoire, representatives of international organisations and multilateral development banks, civil society and the media.

The African Economic Outlook is produced annually by the African Development Bank. The full report is available in English, French and Portuguese at www.AfDB.org/aeo. Official hashtag: #2018AEO

*AFDB

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African nations set to approve huge free trade deal
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Alanna Petroff *

The African continent is on the cusp of something big.

Fifty-five nations are negotiating a free trade deal that will cover more than 1.2 billion people across Africa, from Morocco all the way to South Africa.

 Their leaders are planning to give political backing to the deal in late March, and launch a free trade zone for goods and services before the end of 2018, according to a spokesperson for the African Union, an organization that represents all 55 countries.

The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) could eventually be extended to create common policies on investment, competition and intellectual property.

It covers economies with a combined GDP of around $3.4 trillion.

The deal is designed to replace a patchwork of smaller trade agreements and bring countries closer together, following the pattern set by the European Union.

Like the EU, African nations hope one day to allow the free movement of people across the continent. An African central bank and single currency could follow within 10 years, said Prudence Sebahizi, the CFTA’s chief technical adviser.

Analysts are still crunching the numbers for what the CFTA means for economic growth and prosperity. The United Nations estimated in 2012 that the CFTA could boost trade within Africa by about 50% over the course of a decade.

Growth is very uneven across the continent and has generally slowed over the past few years, down to 3.5% in 2017 from a recent peak of 7% in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund. It is forecast to rise in the coming years, but not by much.

“The potential for the agreement to support the continent’s development is huge,” said Danae Kyriakopoulou, chief economist at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), a financial think tank in London

Two of the biggest economies — Nigeria and South Africa — support the deal, according to the African Union, which works to promote economic and political integration. Nigeria is chairing the negotiations while South Africa has sent big delegations to each round of talks, it added.

But some experts are cautious about the prospects for success.

John Ashbourne, an Africa economist at Capital Economics, is a self-professed CFTA skeptic. He worries that the free trade zone could be “unworkably large” and may have limited benefits.

“While tariffs are a big problem, there are also very tangible reasons why intra-Africa trade is low. The infrastructure needed to facilitate intra-regional trade is poor, and most countries don’t produce many finished goods that their neighbors want,” he said.

That’s reflected in relatively weak trade ties between African countries.

“In absolute terms, African countries traded almost twice as much with the European Union as they did with each other in 2016,” said the OMFIF’s Kyriakopoulou. “This defies one of the principles of trade economics: that proximity matters.”

In a recent article in the Financial Times, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou listed several obstacles to boosting continental trade, including “border delays, burdensome customs and inspection procedures.”

But the potential rewards are simply too big to ignore, he added.

“With the continent’s economy expected to grow to $29 trillion by 2050, the CFTA may evolve to cover a market that is larger than NAFTA today,” he wrote, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

*Source CNN Money

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Nikki Haley voices regret to African UN envoys after Trump slur
January 19, 2018 | 0 Comments
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley meets South Sudanese refugee children at the Nguenyyiel refugee camp in Gambella Region, Ethiopia October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley meets South Sudanese refugee children at the Nguenyyiel refugee camp in Gambella Region, Ethiopia October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – US Ambassador Nikki Haley expressed regret on Thursday to African ambassadors who were outraged by President Donald Trump’s alleged description of African countries as “shithole” nations, the head of the African Group said.

Haley asked to meet the African ambassadors at the United Nations after they released a joint statement on Friday demanding an apology from Trump for his “outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks.”

Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba of Equatorial Guinea, who chairs the Africa Group, said the US ambassador did not offer an apology during the closed-door meeting, but she did express regret.

Haley told the meeting that “she was not there at the White House, she is not sure what was said, but she regretted all this situation that has been created,” the ambassador said.

The US mission declined to say whether Haley had addressed the furor over Trump’s remarks allegedly made a week ago at a White House meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform.

Ndong Mba said the Africa Group “made a recommendation” to Haley to defuse tensions, which she promised to pass on to Trump.

Diplomats, who declined to be named, said they had suggested that Trump send a friendly message to African leaders at their upcoming summit in Addis Ababa as a gesture of goodwill.

“We appreciate the fact that she came and she talked about all the cooperation between the United States with Africa,” said Ndong Mba, who described the meeting as “very friendly.”

The US mission posted photos of the meeting on Twitter and said: “Thank you to the Africa Group for meeting today.”

“We discussed our long relationship and history of combatting HIV, fighting terrorism, and committing to peace throughout the region,” it said in the post retweeted by Haley.

Trump’s remarks were condemned by the 55-nation African Union while some African governments summoned the US ambassador in their capitals to demand an explanation.

Trump reportedly demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from “shithole countries,” after lawmakers raised the issue of protections for immigrants from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador.

However he later tweeted: “this was not the language used.”

Earlier this week, 78 former US ambassadors to Africa wrote a letter to Trump expressing “deep concern” over his comments and urging him to “reassess” his views on Africa.

The United Nations slammed the reported remarks as “shocking and shameful” as well as “racist.”

“You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’ whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome,” Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN human rights office, told reporters in Geneva.

*Source AFP

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African Tech Startups Raise $195 Million
January 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Mfonobong Nsehe *

Africa’s tech revolution is picking up speed, with 2017 proving the best year on record for the continent’s tech startups as investment topped US$195 million over the course of the year.

New research by entrepreneurship portal Disrupt Africashows that in 2017 the number of African tech startups to raise funding hit 159 – up from 146 companies in 2016. In 2015, only 125 startups managed to attract investment. Investor confidence and willingness to back African tech ventures is clearly accelerating.

The total funding raised by these companies – US$195,060,845 – also marks a 51% rise on the previous year’s figures, taking investment into African startups to an all-time record high.

“The tech entrepreneurship ecosystem is really coming into its own across Africa. There have been years of speculation as to whether the tech-first Africa narrative is real or just hype, but these numbers emerging in our research show undeniably that African startups are impacting all aspects of daily life and service delivery,” says Gabriella Mulligan, co-founder of Disrupt Africa.

While startups are using technology to shake-up everything from healthcare to home cleaning, fintech has been by far the best backed sector since tracking began. In 2017, almost one third of all funding went to fintech companies – this proportion has remained stable over the past three years.

A few other sectors also saw success in 2017. Although e-commerce floundered in 2016 – receiving little support from investors – this trend reversed in 2017. The e-commerce space grew 350% on the previous year to collect over US$16 million in investment over the course of the year.

With nearly one billion people in Africa active as smallholder farmers, it comes as no surprise that entrepreneurs and investors alike are starting to tap into the agri-tech space. This space is charting out a decidedly upward trajectory, with funding into this sector growing 203% in 2017.

“Areas like agri-tech and e-health offer the perfect balancing of motivations for investors. With vast untapped markets in need of innovative new solutions, and the substantial impact element of ventures operating in these areas, these investments offer both sizeable returns and impact,” Mulligan says.

South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya continued to solidify their position as the top three investment destinations in Africa, although 2017 saw other markets begin to emerge as alternative hotspots. Activity in Egypt and Ghana is picking up pace, while countries like Uganda and Morocco also placed themselves on the map this year.

As such, investment in Africa’s tech ecosystem took on a decidedly pan-African flavour in 2017, a trend which will continue to develop as the continent carries on presenting high quality innovations and businesses, tackling Africa’s challenges, but also scalable across the world.

*Courtesy of Forbes .Follow Mfonobong on Twitter @MfonobongNsehe.  mfon.nsehe@gmail.com

 

 

 
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Cedric Bakambu: Villarreal forward set for African record £65m deal
January 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
DR Congo's Cedric Bakambu has scored 14 goals for Villarreal in all competitions so far this season

DR Congo’s Cedric Bakambu has scored 14 goals for Villarreal in all competitions so far this season

Cedric Bakambu is set to become the most expensive African footballer of all time after Beijing Guoan agreed to meet Villarreal’s release clause.

The Spanish club set the clause at 40m euros (£35.3m) for the Chinese Super League-bound DR Congo striker.

But the total fee will be around £65m because of taxation rules that have recently been introduced in China.

That will eclipse the £34m Liverpool have paid for Mo Salah and Saido Mane, and their £48m deal for Naby Keita.

“Villareal informs that the release clause of its player Cedric Bakambu has been activated, meaning he no longer belongs to the squad,” the La Liga side said in a statement (in Spanish) on Wednesday evening.

“The club wants to thank the footballer for his commitment and professionalism, and wishes him the best in his sporting career.”

Bakambu, 26, has had a medical with Beijing Guoan who, like all Chinese Super League clubs, are now subject to a transfer tax for any fee over 5m euros.

The laws were introduced in a bid to encourage clubs to buy China-based players and keep more money inside the country.

The former Sochaux and Bursaspor forward is Villarreal’s top scorer this season, with 14 goals in all competitions for the Spanish side.

Bakambu became the first African player to win La Liga’s Player of the Month award after scoring six of those goals in October.

The previous Chinese record was £60m, which Shanghai SIPG paid to sign Brazil international Oscar from Chelsea last January.

Keita will join Liverpool in July from German club RB Leipzig after the Premier League side agreed a deal for the Guinea international last summer.

 *BBC
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Why some African Americans are moving to Africa
January 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

African-Americans are returning to the lands of their ancestors as life becomes precarious and dangerous in the USA.

By Azad Essa*
Accra, Ghana – They have come from the big cities of San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Thousands of them. And many refuse to return.
Muhammida el-Muhajir says as an African American in the US, she felt she could 'never win' [Courtesy of Muhammida el-Muhajir]

Muhammida el-Muhajir says as an African American in the US, she felt she could ‘never win’ [Courtesy of Muhammida el-Muhajir]

A new wave of African Americans is escaping the incessant racism and prejudice in the United States. From Senegal and Ghana to The Gambia, communities are emerging in defiance of conventional wisdom that Africa is a continent everyone is trying to leave.

It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 African Americans live in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. They are teachers in small towns in the west or entrepreneurs in the capital and say they that even though living in Ghana is not always easy, they feel free and safe.

Take Muhammida el-Muhajir, a digital marketer from New York City, who left her job to move to Accra.

She says she moved, because despite her education and experience, she was always made to feel like a second-class citizen. Moving was an opportunity to fulfil her potential and avoid being targeted by racial violence.

She told Al Jazeera her story:

On life as a second-class citizen in the US…

“I grew up in Philadelphia and then New York. I went to Howard, which is a historically black university. I tell people that Ghana is like Howard in real life. It felt like a microcosm of the world. At university, they tell us the world isn’t black, but there are places where this is the real world. Howard prepares you for a world where black people are in charge, which is a completely different experience compared to people who  have gone to predominantly white universities.”

I can’t say what’s happening in America today is any worse than what’s been happening at any other time.

Muhammida el-Muhajir

On her first trip to Africa…

“The first country I went to was Kenya. I was 15 and travelled with a group of kids. I was one of two black kids. I saw early that I could fit in and wasn’t an outsider. Suddenly it switched, I came from America where I was an outsider, but in Africa, I no longer felt like that. I did graduate school in Ghana in 2003 and went back to New York and then moved to Ghana in 2014.

“I have no connection to Ghana. Some people in my family did tests, and we found ties to Senegal and The Gambia, but I don’t think you can ever figure it out. No matter where you were sold or left the port, Senegal or Ghana, no one can be certain where you came from.”

No matter where you were sold or left the port, Senegal or Ghana, no one can be certain where you came from.

Muhammida el-Muhajir

On leaving New York for Accra…

“Even when you live in a place like New York as a black person, you’re always an outsider.

“You hear stories about the richest black people, like Oprah Winfrey, getting shut out of a store or Jay-Z not being allowed to buy [an apartment]. Those things happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity, you’re a second-class citizen. This was the biggest issue for me.

“In America, you’re always trying to prove yourself; I don’t need to prove myself to anyone else’s standards here. I’m a champion, I ran track and went to university, and I like to win, so I refuse to be in a situation where I will never win.”

You might not have electricity, but you won’t get killed by the police either.

Muhammida el-Muhajir

On moving to Ghana…

“There are amenities that I am used to at home in New York – like parties, open bars and fashion, so when I realised I could do the same things in Africa as I could back in the US, I was sold. There is also a big street art festival here, and that was the difference from when I came [as a student]. I saw the things that I love at home here, so I decided that now is the time.”

On Ghanaian reactions…

Modern architecture in Ghana's capital [Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images]

Modern architecture in Ghana’s capital [Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images]

“When Ghanaians find out that I live here, they’re usually confused about why I chose to live here as an American. There is definitely certain access and privilege being American here, but it’s great to finally cash in on that because it doesn’t mean anything in America.”There are also plenty of privileged Ghanaians; if you take away race there’s a class system.”

On the ‘Blaxit’ documentary…

“In my documentary, I chose five people that I’ve met since I’ve been here and every one of them went to a black college in the US. It’s something that prepares you mentally to realise you aren’t a second-class citizen. Something like that can help you make a transition to live in Africa.

“I made Blaxit because of this wave of African-Americans moving to Africa. This trend started to happen around independence of African countries, but the new wave [comprises] people who come to places like this. This new group has certain access in America and comes here to have that lifestyle in Africa.

“Unbeknown to us, we’re living out the vision that [Ghanaian politician and revolutionary] Kwame Nkrumah set out for us, of this country being the gateway to Africa for the black diaspora.

“I don’t want people to think that Africa is this magic utopia where all your issues will go away. It’s just that some of the things you might face in America as a black person – you won’t have to suffer with those things here.

“You might not have electricity, but you won’t get killed by the police either.

“I want people to understand that they have options and alternatives. Most black people in America don’t know that these options exist; they think they have to suffer because there’s nowhere else to go. But no, there are other places.”

On the prospect of more African-Americans moving…

“I think more will come when they begin to see it as a viable alternative. But it’s not easy and it’s not cheap. I can’t say what’s happening in America today is any worse than what’s been happening at any other time. I think now is the time that people are starting to see they can live somewhere else.”

*Al Jazeera

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“It was a privilege to live in and learn from the diverse and spectacular countries of Africa”-78 Former Amb in Letter to President Trump
January 17, 2018 | 0 Comments
Herman Cohen -Former Ambassador to  Senegal, and  Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Reagan and Bush is among the the 78 Ambassadors who signed the letter

Herman Cohen -Former Ambassador to Senegal, and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Reagan and Bush is among the the 78 Ambassadors who signed the letter

In response to the remarks attributed to President Trump talking low about Africa, a group of 78 Ambassadors who served with both Democratic and Republican Administrations , say it was a privilege to live learn from the diverse and spectacular countries of Africa. Expressing concern on the remarks in a letter to President Trump, the former Ambassadors describe Africa as a continent with deep historical ties with the United States.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

As former U.S. Ambassadors to 48 African countries, we write to express our deep concern regarding reports of your recent remarks about African countries and to attest to the importance of our partnerships with most of the fifty-four African nations. Africa is a continent of great human talent and rich diversity, as well as extraordinary beauty and almost unparalleled natural resources. It is also a continent with deep historical ties with the United States.

As American ambassadors abroad we have seen Africa’s complex and rich cultures, awe-inspiring resilience, and breathtaking generosity and compassion. Even as some nations have faced challenges, we have counted among our contacts dynamic entrepreneurs, gifted artists, committed activists, passionate conservationists, and brilliant educators. We learned of novel solutions to complex problems, helped American companies find partners critical to their success, and counted on African military and intelligence officials who often assumed real risks to help achieve outcomes critical to our shared security.

 We know that respectful engagement with these countries is a vital part of protecting our own national interests. The United States of America is safer, healthier, more prosperous, and better equipped to solve problems that confront all of humanity when we work with, listen to, and learn from our African partners. We also know that the entire world is richer because of the contributions of Africans, including the many Americans of African descent.
Ambassador Robin Sanders and former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnie Carson pictured here here with former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan also signed the letter

Ambassador Robin Sanders and former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnie Carson pictured here here with former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan also signed the letter

It was one of the greatest honors of our lives to represent the United States of America abroad. It was also a privilege to live in and learn from the diverse and spectacular countries of Africa. We hope that you will reassess your views on Africa and its citizens, and recognize the important contributions Africans and African Americans have made and continue to make to our country, our history, and the enduring bonds that will always link Africa and the United States.

Sincerely,

Mark L. Asquino – Equatorial Guinea
Shirley E. Barnes – Madagascar
William (Mark) Bellamy – Kenya
Eric D. Benjaminson – Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe
Michele Thoren Bond – Lesotho
Parker W. Borg – Mali
Aurelia E. Brazeal – Kenya, Ethiopia
Pamela Bridgewater – Benin, Ghana
Reuben E. Brigety II – African Union
Kenneth L. Brown – Ivory Coast, Ghana, Republic of the Congo
1Steven A. Browning – Malawi, Uganda
Edward P. Brynn – Burkina Faso, Ghana
John Campbell – Nigeria
Katherine Canavan – Botswana
Timothy Carney – Sudan
Johnnie Carson – Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Phillip Carter – Ivory Coast, Guinea-Conakry
Herman Cohen – Senegal, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Frances D. Cook – Burundi, Cameroon
Walter L. Cutler – Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tunisia
Jeffrey S. Davidow – Zambia
Ruth A. Davis – Benin, Director General of the Foreign Service
Scott H. DeLisi – Uganda, Eritrea
Christopher Dell – Angola, Zimbabwe, Deputy Ambassador at AFRICOM
Harriet Elam-Thomas – Senegal, Guinea-Bissau
Gregory W. Engle – Togo
James F. Entwistle – Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Robert A. Flaten – Rwanda
Robert S. Ford – Algeria
Patrick Gaspard – South Africa
Michelle D. Gavin – Botswana
Donald H. Gips – South Africa
Gordon Gray – Tunisia
Robert E. Gribben – Central African Republic, Rwanda
Patricia McMahon Hawkins – Togo
Karl Hofmann – Togo
Patricia M. Haslach – Ethiopia
Genta Hawkins Holmes – Namibia
Robert G. Houdek – Uganda, Eritrea
Michael S. Hoza – Cameroon
Vicki J. Huddleston – Madagascar, Mali
Janice L. Jacobs – Senegal
Howard F. Jeter – Botswana, Nigeria
Dennis C. Jett – Mozambique
Jimmy J. Kolker – Burkina Faso, Uganda
Edward Gibson Lanpher – Zimbabwe
Dawn M. Liberi – Burundi
Princeton N. Lyman – Nigeria, South Africa
Jackson McDonald – The Gambia, Guinea
James D. McGee – Swaziland, Madagascar, Comoros, Zimbabwe
Roger A. Meece – Malawi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gillian Milovanovic – Mali
Susan D. Page – South Sudan
David Passage – Botswana
Edward J. Perkins – Liberia, South Africa, Director General of the Foreign Service
Robert C. Perry – Central African Republic
Thomas R. Pickering – Nigeria
Jo Ellen Powell – Mauritania
Nancy Powell – Uganda, Ghana
Anthony Quainton – Central African Republic
Elizabeth Raspolic – Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe
Charles A. Ray – Zimbabwe
Fernando E. Rondon – Madagascar, Comoros
Richard A. Roth – Senegal, Guinea-Bissau
Robin Renee Sanders – Republic of the Congo, Nigeria
Mattie R. Sharpless – Central African Republic
David H. Shinn – Burkina Faso, Ethiopia
A. Ellen Shippy – Malawi
George M. Staples – Rwanda, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Director General of the Foreign Service
Linda Thomas-Greenfield – Liberia, Director General of the Foreign Service, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Jacob Walles – Tunisia
Lannon Walker – Senegal, Nigeria, Ivory Coast
Melissa F. Wells – Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Zaire (Congo-Kinshasa)
Joseph C. Wilson – Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe
Frank G. Wisner – Zambia, Egypt
John M. Yates – Cape Verde, Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Permanent Charge (3 years) Zaire, Special Envoy for Somalia
Mary Carlin Yates – Burundi, Ghana, Sudan
Johnny Young – Sierra Leone, Togo

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AU comes of age: issues stern response to unfortunate Trump statement
January 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati*

In its many years of existence, even before it was rebranded, the African Union was seen by many as a toothless bulldog, which only came to life during the annual summits in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa where African leaders competed against each other for the bragging rights of being the most eloquent orators. Apart from the annual summit, the AU to many was just another body with strongly written principles but zero action.

However, recently the AU took a different turn to the AU many have become accustomed to. Instead of leaving it to member states to respond the ‘threat’ facing the entire continent, the AU for the first time took the first initiative to respond to the unfortunate statement reportedly uttered by the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

A couple of days ago, the Washington Post citing two sources from inside the White House stated that the US President had said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries coming here.’ The sources claim that the President was referring to Africa, Haiti, and El Salvador. Television network, CNN and other mainstream media channels from the US corroborated the story.

The Washington Post claims that the President did not stop there, but he went further to suggest that the US must be looking at ways to attract more immigrants from Norway, a country that has one of the highest white demographics in the world.

It’s alleged that Trump made the remarks during a meeting with two Congress representatives, Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and South Carolina GOP Senator, Lindsay Graham who had come to present the plan to cut the visa lottery on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus. The plan wants the other half of the visa lottery to be shared proportionally between Africa and Haiti.

In its response to the President of the United States, the AU spokesperson, Ebba Kalondo said it was disappointing that Donald Trump had little respect for the continent and he actually publicly stated it. Kalondo said the US was one of the countries that should never forget how crucial immigration is to the development of a country as it is through immigration that the US managed to achieve what it has achieved.

In reference to Trump’s statement saying we should have more immigrants from Norway, many interviewed officials from across Africa said this shows that the President of the US has racist tendencies especially if one factors in some of his earlier utterances in relation to some South American countries. By referencing Norway, one of the ‘whitest’ countries in the world, Trump just showed his true colours to the world.

Barely 24 hours after the news broke out; Trump addressed the media and denied ever saying ‘shithole countries’. He unconvincingly stated that he is not racist and is the “least racist person you will ever meet.”

In condemning Trump’s statement, the AU was joined by several African countries who issued their own responses. Many African nationals living in Africa and beyond also weighed in on social media uploading pictures of their beautiful shithole countries.

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Ringier Africa signs pan-African content agreement with The New York Times
January 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
Ringier Africa Digital Publishing (RADP) will publish New York Times journalism under its new media brand Pulse in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria
ZURICH, Switzerland, January 15, 2018/ — Ringier Africa Digital Publishing (RADP) (http://Ringier.com) further expands its news and media portfolio by entering into a digital content license agreement with The New York Times News Service (www.NYTimes.com) and Syndicate, the licensing and syndicate division of The New York Times. RADP will publish New York Times journalism under its new media brand Pulse in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. Pulse informs and entertains Africa’s mass and mobile population with a reach of 100 million people every month.

The launch of New York Times journalism on Pulse will bring award-winning reporting and storytelling to Africa’s informed readership. The New York Times is a globally renowned media outlet for news and opinion, which will complement Pulse’s news coverage. Pulse readers will now have access to The New York Times’ top news of the day as well as a selection of other digital articles addressing key social, political and economic issues as well as videos, photos and graphics.

«Publishing content from The New York Times will be setting new standards in the regional media space, offering up-to-date information at any time of the day, directly to Africa’s media consumption tool of choice, the mobile phone, via the Pulse website and our newly launched mobile app» says Tim Kollmann, Managing Director of RADP.

This agreement consolidates Ringier’s position as Africa’s leading news brand. It signals a new strategic direction, expands Pulse’s editorial scope to include more politics, current affairs and international news stories and strengthens the platform’s followership. It also furthers RADP’s plan to build one of the most robust digital ecosystems in Africa by continuing to find new ways and platforms to engage and stay connected with users.

Ringier Africa & Asia CEO, Robin Lingg, adds: «Ringier is constantly reaching out to new opportunities to strengthen its position as an innovative and leading digital publisher. We are excited about this cooperation with The New York Times. We see a lot of great potential in the product and its further growth opportunities on the continent. The inclusion of New York Times journalism comes at an exciting time for our publishing company, as we continue to invest in building out a fast-moving, pioneering, credible and truly pan-African digital publishing network.»

The New York Times is known globally for innovation in its print and digital storytelling. With the Ringier agreement, New York Times journalism will reach a new digital audience. General Manager of News Services and Print Innovation for The New York Times, Michael Greenspon says: «Ringier has a deep understanding of the digital space and is the ideal partner to help us bring The New York Times voice to sub-Saharan Africa. We are delighted that this agreement will expand the reach of our journalism to new readers.»

The New York Times Company (www.NYTimes.com) is a global media organization dedicated to enhancing society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information. The Company includes The New York Times, NYTimes.com, and related properties. It is known globally for excellence in its journalism, and innovation in its print and digital storytelling and its business model.

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CAN AFRICA’S SKYROCKETING POPULATION AND UNEMPLOYMENT BE TURNED INTO AN ECONOMIC DIVIDEND?
January 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

Moses Hategeka*

 

File Picture.President Barack Obama addresses the Young African Leaders Initiative in Washington, Wednesday, August 3, 2016. President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders in hope of strengthening democratic governance and encouraging peace and security across Africa.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

File Picture,President Barack Obama addresses the Young African Leaders Initiative in Washington, Wednesday, August 3, 2016. President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders in hope of strengthening democratic governance and encouraging peace and security across Africa. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

With transformative and visionary leadership in place, a high population, that is rightly skilled and economically empowered, can be a catalyst, for accelerating, a sustainable economic growth and development, that is all-inclusive and beneficial, for a harnessed, political, economic, and social prosperity of a Nation/Continent. Africa’ population which today stands at 1.2 billion people, and is expected to more than double by 2050, is rising, and so is unemployment, that is forcing, thousands of young people, to trek extremely very dangerous journey, through the Sahara desert, to Libya, and then on insecure boats, in the Mediterranean Sea, with the hope of finding opportunities for a better livelihood in Europe.

According to the international organization for migration, this year alone, 2017, over 8,800 African migrants, have been returned to their home countries. What is leadership in Africa not doing right, that is forcing millions of young people want to leave their continent in search of green pastures elsewhere?

Africa’s young people, who today, totals over 420 million aged between 15 -35 age, and is expected to increase to over 830 million by 2050, is a huge demographic asset, which if given right skills and opportunities, can be turned into an economic dividend driving the continent forward. Skilled young people produces high work rate, and acts as an attraction, for investors seeking to open up new investment prospects. Skilled young people, if also accorded right funding, can be able to produce inventions and innovations, in various sectors that can in the end result into turning Africa’s abundance natural resources, into usable finished products, thus promoting entrepreneurship and industrial development.

Are the African countries giving its young people factual skills and  opportunities to produce ground breaking technologies that can attract mutual industrial research and technological collaborations from developed countries especially in agriculture and agricultural related sectors?

Agriculture, which is, and is expected for the next decade, to continue being  a major employer, employing about 65 percent and source of livelihood for the majority of Africans, can if well consistently structured and profitably transformed, birth agribusiness enterprises and agro-industrialization in Africa, that can make majority of Africans, to secure well-paying jobs, and this would greatly curb migration of young Africans to Europe and mutually save both African and European economies, from spending millions of dollars, which they spend every year, trying to curtail their movement from Africa to Europe.

African countries, must in collaborations with regional and global institutions, such as African Development Bank and World Bank, design and implement policies and build institutions, that are job creation enhancing, and which provides for, creation of new rural micro- enterprises, larger scale agribusinesses, and agro- industrialization to thrive. This will not only contribute to transformation of rural economies and curbing of extreme poverty, but will also, create millions of jobs in agricultural and agricultural fed industrial sector, thus contributing to economic growth and development that is all- inclusive.

One youth from Uganda that I met recently had this to say, “Immediately after completing by Bachelor’s degree, in food science and technology in 2014, I underwent a basic agricultural training in passion fruits growing and juice making, armed with training and with funding from my parents and friends, I went to village and planted 4 acres of passion fruits. Initially I sold them, to fruits, making factories in raw form and earned good profit, which I later used to buy machines and other equipment’ to set up a medium juice making enterprise, which is now employing, 50 full time workers. I am now earning extremely very good profits from selling the juice to various institutions, and I am now working on securing a loan or a grant, to expand my factory and employ many more other people, as demand for my juice is higher than the supply”.

This in essence means that, access to timely funding from financial institutions, can make millions of unemployed African youth, to establish many small and medium enterprises, that has got the potential to turn into large scale industries, contributing to expanding of their countries’ economic and taxable base, but unfortunately lack of funding is their major constraint. To overcome this, African countries, must urgently put in place financial policy interventions, which unlocks the impasse that makes the youth, not to easily get timely funding to turn their entrepreneurship ideas into reality.

To attain this, activities such as establishment of an innovation and information labs that incubate new ideas and entrepreneurship, and scaling up establishment of well designed industrial parks complete with reliable power, access roads, guaranteed security, and other social amenities, which all stimulate private sector investments must be scaled up. These activities are very crucial in stimulating domestic investments and in attracting foreign direct investors, who are eager to come and massively invest in different sectors, to profit from the already existing large market driven by a high and skyrocketing population.

In sum, with abundance natural resources such as precious minerals, that are on high demand globally, and being home, to 60 percent of world’s arable land, coupled with expanding large market, Africa’s potential as destination of choice for investors is unquestionable. Virtually, all African sectors be it in, mining, oil and gas, agriculture, banking, among others, are very highly profitable for investors to invest in, either purely on private undertaking or through public private partnerships and investors must be genuinely and mutually interested in adding value to African products and create sustainable jobs that improves the welfare of Africa people.

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

Email: moseswiseman2000@gmail.com

 

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It’s about to get easier for almost 700 million Africans to travel by air in Africa
January 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Abdi Latif Dahir*

Defined by long delays and cancellations, limited connections, rickety planes, and dilapidated runways, flying across Africa can sometimes be quite inconvenient. The problem is also compounded by the restrictive regulations and protectionism that hinder intra-nation travel, leading African airlines to lose $800 million in 2016, according to the World Bank.

Yet some of those problems are set to become history when the Single African Air Travel Market (SAATM) is launched by the African Union (AU) in late January. As one of the AU’s pan-African Agenda 2063flagship projects, the plan aims to improve air connectivity in Africa and use air transportation as an engine for economic growth, job creation, and integration.

The idea is based on the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision, when African ministers responsible for civil aviation agreed to deregulate air services, put in place mechanisms for fair competition and dispute settlement, and liberalize frequencies and tariffs. As part of the agreement, countries would also free the exercise of up to fifth freedom rights for passengers and freight air services, allowing a carrier to fly between two countries on a flight originating or ending in its own country.

By setting this up, African nations hope to imitate and build on the single aviation markets in places like Europe and Latin America. The AU also hopes to encourage cross-border investment and innovation, improve business operations and efficiency, increased route competition resulting in lower fares, create more jobs, help airlines grow, and allow for the free mobility of people and goods.

So far, 21 countries that command more than 670 million of the continent’s population have committed to the plan. These include Benin, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone in the West; Kenya, and Rwanda in the East; Zimbabwe and South Africa in the south; and Egypt in the North. The single market is also host to eight of Africa’s top ten busiest airports including Bole International Airport in Ethiopia and O. R. Tambo in Johannesburg, South Africa. Up to 15 carriers, which account for more than 70% of intra-African air travel, have also signed up for the common market including Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, South African Express, and Egypt Air.

21 countries have-signed to the single african air transport market

21 countries have-signed to the single african air transport market

The move to liberalize air travel coincides with a push from African governments to open more borders and encourage inter-regional trade and tourism. Last year, Africans traveled more easily across the continent, and countries like Kenya, Namibia, and Ghana announced removing visa restrictions or granting visas on arrival. Local tourism in Kenya, Tunisia, and South Africa have also boosted domestic air travel, leading to the growth of budget carriers.

Yet despite the plan’s best intentions, African air travel still has a long way to go. Carriers like Kenya Airways or Nigeria’s Arik Air have struggled to make profit in recent years, plagued by debt or the results of a poorly timed expansion strategy. And unless more countries open up, government restrictions on visas and establishing air routes will continue hindering a potential five million Africans the chance to travel the continent, according to the International Air Transport Association. Air travel in nations like Somalia also have a long way to go before they can become fully integrated with the rest: after 27 years under the control of the United Nations, the country regained control of its airspace in Dec. 2017.

 **Courtesy of Quarz
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