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RANDGOLD’S BRISTOW SETS OFF ON ANOTHER EPIC BIKE RIDE FOR AFRICA’S POOR
June 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

6014_RRL_BoB_Newslett#97AFERandgold Resources chief executive Mark Bristow and a small group of friends and colleagues left here today on a fund-raising motorbike safari which will take them from east to west across mid-Africa through dense equatorial jungle.  It is believed to be the first time this challenging route has been attempted by motorbike.

Dubbed Safari Kwa Afrika Bora – Swahili for Riding for a Better Africa – the journey’s aim is to raise a further $3 million for some of the continent’s most needy people, notably the women and children deprived of a decent life by strife and poverty.  The money will go to Nos Vies en Partage (French for Sharing Prosperity) the independent charitable foundation established by Randgold in 2014.

This is the fourth trans-Africa motorbike safari Bristow has undertaken and to date the rides have raised
$2.5 million distributed to 55 entities in 15 countries.  The foundation is already planning donations to some of the DRC’s post-conflict reparation programmes, particularly those aimed at supporting abused women and rehabilitating child soldiers.

The 2016 ride will take 30 days, going from Kenya through Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo before ending in Muanda on the west coast at the end of June, passing the sources of both the Nile and Congo rivers en route.  In terms of terrain, says Bristow, this will be their toughest ride yet.  Because of the need to circumnavigate the worst parts, they will actually be covering well over 7 000 kilometres, more than double the 3 500 kilometre direct distance.  Their progress can be followed at www.boyzonbikes.com.

The safaris had their origin in a Cape-to-Cairo motorbike ride Bristow and his two then-teenaged sons undertook in 2009 under the light-hearted banner 3BoyzonBikes.

“As an old Africa hand I was aware of the difficulties endured by many of its people but as we travelled through small villages in remote regions I saw at first hand the extent of their plight and resolved to do something about it,” Bristow says.

BoB_routes_2009-2016_-_small“The following year I combined my annual exploration review with a fund-raising ride and, accompanied by a team of Randgold geologists, we traversed Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, having named our project Nos Vies en Partage.  Thanks to the generous support of a wide range of donors, we were able to provide some relief to the people in those countries.  Then in 2012 we travelled from Budapest to Bamako via Morocco, western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal and then on through Côte d’Ivoire to Abidjan.  In 2014, we completed the trip around Africa, riding from Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire via Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, the Congo, the DRC, Angola, Namibia back to Cape town.  That year we also converted the Nos Vies en Partage initiative into a charitable foundation, headed by Philippe Liétard, a former Randgold chairman.”

Bristow says that past sponsors as well as new donors have already pledged more than half of the
$3 million target Safari Kwa Afrika Bora has set itself.

Bristow, who will use satellite and other hi-tech equipment including a communications-wired helmet to continue running the company during the ride, also noted that as the Nos Vies en Partage riders paid their own way, all the money raised by the ride would go to the foundation beneficiaries.  Priority will be given to people and causes falling outside the mainstream of Randgold’s sustainability efforts.

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New Ghana kit represents eye-catching departure for Puma
May 31, 2016 | 0 Comments
The Black Stars' new shirt is a startling new offering from the sports manufacturer

The Black Stars’ new shirt is a startling new offering from the sports manufacturer

Puma South Africa revealed a new Ghana kit on Monday, with various South African media outlets carrying a press release introducing the new shirt.

Twitter was a abuzz as Black Stars fans and commentators caught a first glimpse of the new strip, which represents a startling departure for the West African giants.

Notably, there is significantly more black than the shirts have traditionally featured, with black sleeves and shoulders set off by a yellow hooped collar.

According to the press release—as per Kick Off—Ghana will wear the new ‘technological design’ in an as yet unspecified fixture this year, although there are conflicting reports as to whether the shirt presented in the photos is a definitive design or a trial template from Puma.

CjsqiMtWEAAkE81The kit uses the same evoKNIT technology as recent offerings for Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund, including a ‘dynamic moisture management system’, which is clearly a feature that Puma are particularly proud of.

As well as the Black Stars, Puma have also unveiled new designs for both Cameroon and the Cote d’Ivoire, with the Indomitable Lions debuting their latest kit against France on Monday evening, and the Ivorians sporting theirs against Gabon on Saturday.

*Yahoo/Goal

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African Development Bank says continent far from debt crisis
May 31, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Matthew Hill*

Buildings and roads sit on the coast in this aerial view of Ikoyi in Lagos island, a residential area in Lagos, Nigeria, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer which derives 90 percent of export earnings from the commodity, is struggling to cope with an almost 60 percent plunge in Brent crude prices since June 2014 to below $45 a barrel. Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

Buildings and roads sit on the coast in this aerial view of Ikoyi in Lagos island, a residential area in Lagos, Nigeria, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer which derives 90 percent of export earnings from the commodity, is struggling to cope with an almost 60 percent plunge in Brent crude prices since June 2014 to below $45 a barrel. Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

Africa is a long way from facing a debt crisis even as commercial lending to the continent soars and Mozambique became the first regional country to miss a payment on a dollar loan this year, according to a senior official at the African Development Bank.

Debt levels across the continent’s 54 countries average 17 percent to 18 percent of GDP, which is low, Abebe Shimeles, acting director in the AfDB’s development research department, said Thursday in an interview at the lender’s annual meetings in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.

“In terms of the continent we are not even close, forget about crisis, we are not even close to a debt burden, especially the external debt,” said Shimeles. “It’s not systemic now. It’s not that all African countries are exposed to a debt crisis. The bad news is sometimes heard faster than the good news.”

Costly Repayments

Countries on the continent raised $26 billion in Eurobonds from 2006 to 2014 and a further $12 billion last year, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said on May 24 when he officially opened the meetings, warning a debt crisis must be avoided. While foreign-currency debt has soared, currencies on the continent have weakened, making repayments more costly as economic growth slows.

“Some countries have also experienced a spike in their debt levels that may be worrying in particular cases, unless they take measures to contain it,” Shimeles said. “The AfDB and other multilaterals can learn from previous mistakes and really step in with a solution to manage the debt, restructure it and also undertake some necessary reforms before we reach a level of crisis.”

Dollar debt sold by sub-Saharan African nations have returned 6.3 percent this year, compared with the 7.1 percent average return for emerging markets. Average yields have climbed to 7.63 percent, compared with 5.8 percent a year ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Economic Expansion

Adesina

Adesina

The bank would consider assisting countries that ask for it, and could work with other lenders including the International Monetary Fund, he said. Nigeria is already in talks with the AfDB for a $1 billion facility.

Growth on the continent will probably exceed the 4.5 percent the AfDB forecast for 2017 in a report published this week, Shimeles said. Domestic demand in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Sudan will lead to “much higher” economic expansion, he said.

“I believe that Nigeria has now taken the right steps in terms of the macro-economy,” he said.

Africa’s biggest economy this month cut fuel subsidies and signaled a more flexible exchange rate policy for the naira, which has been pegged to the dollar for 15 months.

“We are optimistic,” said Shimeles. “Still, this doesn’t mean we deny the headwinds. They are strong but I think the economies are resilient.”

*Source Bloomberg

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Terrorism overshadows internal conflicts As African countries scramble for solutions
May 31, 2016 | 0 Comments
A guest is checked with a metal detector at the entrance of a hotel in Yaounde, Cameroon. Photo: Panapress/Jean-Pierre Kepseu

YAOUNDE – SEPTEMBER 11: A customer is checked with a metal detector a the entrance of La Falaise Hotel on September 11, 2015 in Yaounde, Cameroon. Since the kamikazz attacks which killed several people in the extreme North region, the security measures strengthened as much in state services as private firms. (Photo Jean-Pierre Kepseu / Panapress) 

Is terrorism becoming the dominant mode of conflict in Africa? This is a question many are asking following the recent surge in terror attacks across Africa. Since January about a dozen African countries, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, CÔte d’ivoire and Somalia, have suffered terror attacks in which thousands of civilians have been killed.

The attacks at the beginning of the year in Burkina Faso, in which 30 people died, reveal a new pattern in that the attackers — without any apparent base or network of support in the country, and with no clear strategic local goals — came from elsewhere and targeted distinct tourist attractions with no known connection to either government or the military.

The groups perpetrating these attacks are embryonic: their only definable characteristic is that they profess extremist Islamic tendencies. For this reason they respect neither political nor geographical boundaries; and, except perhaps for Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, the attackers do not articulate clear local political goals.

From what societal wellspring does this deadly militancy arise? And how is Africa tackling it?

Now a key security threat

In the 1990s, terror attacks in Africa were somewhat episodic and limited to relatively well-defined local contexts (in Algeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda, for example). But now the emergence of groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria (with its regional reach), and the spread of Somalia’s Al-Shabaab attacks into Kenya and Uganda, have made terrorism a key security threat in Africa.

According to research by veteran African security analyst Jakkie Cilliers, head of the Institute of Security Studies, about 37% of the 39,286 violence-related fatalities recorded in Africa in 2014 occurred in Nigeria, mainly as a result of attacks by Boko Haram. This is followed closely by the percentage of such fatalities related to attacks by Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

In 2014, for example, Boko Haram killed 6,664 people — mostly civilians — in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, not to mention the kidnapping of hundreds of people, including the 250 girl students of Chibok over a year ago. That’s more than the 6,073 deaths attributed to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In all, Boko Haram has killed more than 15,000 people and displaced more than 2.1 million Nigerians since it began its extremist activities a few years ago. Mr. Cilliers’s research shows that largely due to terrorist activities, armed-conflict incidents in Africa rose from 40% of the global total in 2013 to 52% in 2014. This is despite the fact that Africa has barely 16% of the world’s population.

Africa currently hosts several terrorist groups that are affiliated with or influenced by Al-Qaeda. They operate across the vast expanse of the Sahel in Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria, as well as in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Somalia, Mali and Kenya.

The deadly attacks on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, on 20 November 2015, which killed 22 people, including two attackers, and an eerily similar attack on the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, on 15 January this year, which killed 30, have been claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

African armies fight back

Nigeria has spent billions of dollars and dedicated tens of thousands of troops to fight Boko Haram, as have other African countries, with significant outside support. These efforts have blunted the power of these groups. Since the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria in March 2015, Boko Haram appears to have been pushed out of large swaths of territory it once occupied—but the militants remain active in Nigeria and surrounding countries.

In eastern Africa powerful armies from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda are confronting Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya. The presence of regional troops operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has prevented Al-Shabaab from taking over the country. Except for the failed bombing of a Daallo Airlines flight departing Mogadishu earlier this year, the group has lately been unable to carry out any serious attacks on the neighbouring countries.

Who is a terrorist?

Within the African Union, discussions about what constitutes a terrorist group are highly contentious. Countries in western and eastern Africa that are directly affected by such attacks are more ready to label militant groups as terrorists; southern African countries whose liberation struggles against white domination were routinely described as terrorist are invariably wary of the term. After all, they argue, even Nelson Mandela was once described by major Western powers as a terrorist.

As a result the African Union has adopted a fairly convoluted definition of terrorism, describing it merely by implication. Armed struggles waged by people in accordance with “the principles of international law for their liberation or self-determination, including armed struggle against colonialism, occupation, aggression and domination by foreign forces” shall not be considered as terrorism, it states. The burden is therefore to determine the causes, determinants and course of each violent action or manifestation of extremism.

Some experts assert that some terrorist acts are due to some unresolved local issues. Most of the attacks may be terroristic, but are the militants therefore terrorist groups by the oblique definition of the African Union? These experts believe it might be better to isolate each group’s distinct social roots — what it draws upon and what makes it persist amid the powerful forces ranged against it.

Boko Haram started as a local rebellion in northern Nigeria and for many years remained so. It has roots in the widespread resentment of economic and social dereliction and official neglect in the largely impoverished northern half of Nigeria. The election of Mr. Buhari, a northerner, has undermined the group’s appeal, which is partly why it has lost territory.

Counterstrokes

In West Africa the recent reorganization of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) by Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin to tackle Boko Haram offered immense hope in many quarters. The force was set up in 1994 by the Nigerian government to “checkmate banditry activities and to facilitate free movement” along its northern border. But an early setback for the force came in January 2015, when Boko Haram fighters overran its headquarters at Baga, Nigeria. After that the MNJTF headquarters was moved to N’Djamena, Chad, and troops were increased.

A new concept of operations, under the supervision of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, was also recently agreed upon, and in October 2015 the United States deployed 300 Special Forces personnel to Cameroon to help in the surveillance of Boko Haram and to support the MNJTF. News reports also suggest that US president Barack Obama might be considering increasing counterinsurgency activities against the Islamic State in Libya.

Meanwhile the UN Security Council continues its support for AMISOM as well as for the African-dominated UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)—both of them combating militant activities. Militant attacks, including against peacekeepers, continue in both countries.

Security Council resolution 2231 of July 2015 urged the African Union to undertake “a structured and targeted reconfiguration of AMISOM to boost its efficiency, in particular by strengthening command and control structures, and enhancing cross-sector operations.”

All that notwithstanding, the 12 November 2015 UN report on the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel paints a grim picture, noting that “terrorist groups have intensified asymmetric attacks in the north and have even moved southwards with attacks in the centre too, including in the Malian capital, Bamako, at the border with Burkina Faso and Mauritania, as well as in the south at the border region with Côte d’Ivoire.”

Despite an increase in terrorist activities, many believe that Africa should still celebrate the end of major wars—in Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and elsewhere. The efforts by African governments and their armies, with international support, to defeat terrorism should ensure the important achievement of ending many wars is not undercut.

*Courtesy of Africa Renewal

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Cameroon’s Cardiopad inventor wins African engineering award
May 29, 2016 | 0 Comments
Mr Zang, right, received the prize at a ceremony in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Mr Zang, right, received the prize at a ceremony in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Cameroonian inventor Arthur Zang has won a £25,000 ($37,000) prize for his device that does heart examinations.

The Cardiopad is a tablet computer that takes a reading and sends it to a heart specialist.

It allows health workers to give heart examinations and send the results to heart specialists far away.

BBC Africa’s Mamadou Moussa Ba says there are just 50 cardiologists in Cameroon, which has a population of 20 million people.

Mr Zang’s invention was awarded the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering at a ceremony in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam

The results from his Cardiopad are sent to a cardiologist via a mobile network and can be interpreted within 20 minutes.

Cardiopads are distributed to hospitals and clinics in Cameroon free of charge, and patients pay $29 (£20) yearly subscriptions.

“My uncle died from a stroke after I had already started working on the Cardiopad and this gave me extra motivation to see the project through to the end”, Mr Zang told the BBC earlier this month.

The device is already being sold in Gabon, India and Nepal.

Last year’s winner of the award was Tanzanian chemical engineer Askwar Hilonga who invented a sand-based water filter that absorbs anything from copper and fluoride to bacteria.

*BBC

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Okocha, Eto’o, Kanu, Moyes honour Joseph Yobo in Port Harcourt testimonial
May 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Lolade Adewuyi*

The former Nigeria captain was given a befitting exit from the game on Friday evening by a coterie of stars in Port Harcourt

 joseph-yobo_hu4et8uqe16k18ui958acrdeuJoseph Yobo was given a grand exit from professional football by a stellar collection of football stars and legends during his testimonial in Port Harcourt on Friday.

Illustrious African stars Samuel Eto’o, Sulley Muntari, Stephen Appiah, Lomana Lualua and Laryea Kingston were joined by former Nigeria players Nwankwo Kanu, Austin Okocha, Mutiu Adepoju, Austin Eguavoen and Ben Iroha to celebrate the 101-cap Yobo.

A Team Nigeria composed of current footballers Vincent Enyeama, Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike, Godfrey Oboabona, Efe Ambrose, Joel Obi was coached by legendary Amodu Shaibu and Samson Siasia.

They took on Team World led by Eto’o and coached by former Everton and Manchester United manager David Moyes, who was assisted by former Nigeria youth coach Fanny Amun.

However, Chelsea duo of John Terry and John Obi Mikel were missing after it was announced that they were going to be available for the game.

Before the game, Yobo was presented with a commemorative trophy and a jersey marked ‘101’ by NFF 2nd Vice President  Shehu Dikko, who also played in the game.

After a prolonged delay to the start of the game which led to anxiety in the stands and agitated guest of honour Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State, Yobo started in defence for Team World as they swiftly fell behind to a brace from Emenike after impressive work by Okocha in midfield.

Muntari and Eto’o would score for Team World, the Cameroonian making Enyeama grovel which led to a comic chase of the striker.

Eto’o would be involved in the other funny scene when he asked Okocha to be substituted due to the midfielder’s stunning skills which continuously prised open his side.

The first half ended 4-3 with Yobo scoring just before the break to keep the scores close.

Yobo switched sides at resumption as Kanu, funnyman Ayo Makun (AY) and former goalkeeper Ike Shorunmu all came on.

He played two penalties against Dele Ayenugba, missed the first and scored the second to make it 5-3.

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Angelle Kwemo Joins Washington Media Group as International Practice Grows
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
African "Olivia Pope", Angelle Kwemo is set for another exciting challenge

African “Olivia Pope”, Angelle Kwemo is set for another exciting challenge

Washington Media Group (WMG) has  announced the appointment of Angelle B. Kwemo as Director of the company’s growing Africa practice.

Ms. Kwemo worked for nearly a decade on Capitol Hill for two members of Congress and was the Founder and President of the Congressional African Staff Association. She went on to create Believe in Africa, aimed at empowering women and youth while engaging the private sector; and the AstrategiK Group, providing international trade and advisory services to corporations and government officials across Europe and Africa.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Washington Media Group team, and to help the firm continue to expand its international client work,” said Ms. Kwemo. “Washington Media Group’s world-class communications and creative services are relied upon by clients across Washington and the country, and the word is getting out around the world as well. I’m excited to be joining the WMG team,” Ms Kwemo said.

WMG, which began more than 10 years ago as a crisis communications firm, has since grown into a full-service communications and creative services firm serving clients around the world.

“This is an exciting time for WMG as we continue to grow at home and abroad by offering proven strategies and services,” said WMG CEO and President Gregory L. Vistica. “With her deep knowledge of Africa, Angell will be a central part of our efforts throughout the continent in representing governments, corporations, non-profits and high-net worth individuals. I’m thrilled that she is joining our growing team.”

Ms. Kwemo began her career in France, at the Bestaux Law Firm. In her native Cameroon, she served as Chief of the Maritime Claims and Disputes Department, and later as General Counsel for Bollore Technology Group and Geodis Overseas. Named one of the “World’s Most Influential Africans in the Diaspora” by Paris-based Africa 24 Magazine, she earned an International Business Transactions and Human Rights Law degree from Washington College of Law at American University, in Washington, D.C.

About WMG

WMG is a full-services communications firm that has saved its clients tens of millions of dollars. With offices in China, Qatar and Africa, we’ve successfully solved high-profile crises, protected and repaired corporate and executive reputations, improved brand value and growth, and enhanced public recognition for our clients in the U.S. and overseas.

 

 

 

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Cameroon teen escapes Boko Haram after raid
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

Cameroon teenage girl kidnapped by Boko Haram and trained to be suicide bomber escapes and is welcomed by home village

By EDWIN KINDZEKA MOKI*

FILE- In this Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, file photo, Cameroon soldiers stand guard at a lookout post as they take part in operations against the Islamic extremists group Boko Haram, their guard post is on Elbeid bridge, left rear, that separates northern Cameroon form Nigeria's Borno state near the village of Fotokol, Cameroon. A 16-year-old girl was kidnapped with her 1-month-old baby by Boko Haram from her home in northern Cameroon 18 months ago, taken to Nigeria, married off to an extremist fighter and then trained to be a suicide bomber. (AP Photo/Edwin Kindzeka Moki, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

FILE- In this Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, file photo, Cameroon soldiers stand guard at a lookout post as they take part in operations against the Islamic extremists group Boko Haram, their guard post is on Elbeid bridge, left rear, that separates northern Cameroon form Nigeria’s Borno state near the village of Fotokol, Cameroon. A 16-year-old girl was kidnapped with her 1-month-old baby by Boko Haram from her home in northern Cameroon 18 months ago, taken to Nigeria, married off to an extremist fighter and then trained to be a suicide bomber. (AP Photo/Edwin Kindzeka Moki, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A 16-year-old girl was kidnapped with her 1-month-old baby by Boko Haram from her home in northern Cameroon 18 months ago, taken to Nigeria, married off to an extremist fighter and then trained to be a suicide bomber.

Last week she succeeded in escaping when the Nigerian military launched a raid on a Boko Haram camp. She wandered through Sambisa Forest in northeastern Nigeria for several days until, tired, weak and hungry, she was found by members of a local defense group fighting the extremists, who handed her over to Cameroon’s military, said Midjiyawa Bakary governor of the Far North region of Cameroon.

“When the Nigerian army attacked the Boko Haram camp where we were, there was confusion everywhere and I escaped to the forest where I walked for a week and handed myself to the first people I saw,” she said.

The teenager is among thousands of people who have been kidnapped by the Nigeria-based Islamic extremists since they launched their insurgency nearly seven years ago. Recently the abductions have reached across Nigeria’s borders to Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

 The Cameroonian girl is among hundreds freed since January. On Sunday, she was reunited with her parents but her daughter, she said tearfully, had been left with the man she was forced to marry after her kidnapping.

“I was taken to a prison in a cave where we were locked up for three weeks and then distributed to men. We were given food every morning to prepare for our husbands,” she said in the local Hausa and Fulfulde languages through an interpreter. “Every afternoon we were asked to pray and vow that we would remain obedient.”

She said she and many other girls were trained to be suicide bombers. “They took us two times every week and gave us lessons on how to detonate bombs. We were told if we died while defending Allah’s cause against evil men, we shall be received in paradise.”

 Crowds of people, including government officials and traditional rulers, welcomed the teen home to Tourou village, near Mokolo in northern Cameroon. Her 52-year-old father said he was delighted to see her.

“I am grateful to all those who fought hard for the release of my daughter. As you can see, all of Tourou is very happy that she is back, even though her 2-year old daughter is not here with us,” he said. “Our immediate plight now is how to have her treated because she looks tired and very sick.”

The girl needs more medical attention, according to Jacob Kodji, one of Cameroon’s military commanders of troops fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.

“She was very, very sick when she was brought to us,” Kodji said. “We did our best to save her life and will continue to take care of her. We are also thanking the Nigerian military for the attacks that freed her. We have deployed troops to the forest to see if other freed captives can be found.”

The Cameroonian girl is among dozens who have escaped or been freed since January as troops from Nigeria and the multinational joint task force continue to launch raids against Boko Haram, including in its stronghold in the Sambisa Forest, near Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria.

A Nigerian girl who escaped last week was one of the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok school in a mass abduction in 2014 that sparked international outrage. A May 19 raid on a Boko Haram camp liberated some 97 women and children and killed 35 extremists, said the Nigerian army.

 These rescues are renewing hopes that the fight against Boko Haram is yielding results and the group will not be able to kidnap so many young women and girls to launch suicide attacks or act as sex slaves and young men and boys who are forced to join their fight to create an Islamic caliphate.
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New Book Highlights “The Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders”
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Dr. Roland Holou*

bookMany books have been written about people of African descent, but so far no single volume has highlighted the lives, visions, achievements, policies, and strategies of exceptional contemporary African Diaspora leaders across the globe. To fill the gap, an International Selection Committee composed of some of the top African diaspora Leaders in the Caribbean, Europe, North America, South America, and West Africa was created to nominate and vet recipients of “The Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders Honor.” For the first edition of this book, 30 leaders were featured in detail and out of the 50 chapters of this 336 page book, one was devoted to each. Others chapters were devoted to one hundred other nominees whose contribution warranted their inclusion in this book.

The stories of these Leaders showcase the diversity, complexity, and richness of the ongoing global African Diaspora engagement efforts. Their experiences of struggle, failure, growth and success will motivate current and future generations of people of African descent to take initiative, provide guidance to those interested in Africa’s development, and promote interest in the growing field of diaspora engagement. The featured leaders are known for their long-lasting achievements. Their bold actions contributed to important historical movements that significantly shaped and transformed the lives and history of people of African descent and removed major roadblocks preventing the prosperity of Africa and its Diaspora. They have brought about enormous and rare progress that would have been impossible without their leadership, including economic and political development of Africa and its Diaspora. To get your copy of the book, please visit www.AfricanDiasporaLeaders.com/order

Dr. Roland Holou

Dr. Roland Holou

Some of the initiatives featured in the book include the African Union African Diaspora Sixth Region Initiative, Healthcare Reform in Africa, Pan-Africanism, Global Anti-Racism Initiatives, International Decade for People of African Descent, Implementation of the UN Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; the Commission on Reparations, the Hebrew Israelites, the Initiatives of the Central American Black Organization; the World Diaspora Fund For Development; the Projects of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century; the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe, the Pan-African Holiday Kwanzaa; the Educational Initiatives of Steve Biko Cultural Institute in Brazil, the Initiatives of DiasporaEngager concerning the Map of the Diaspora and their Stakeholders, the Diaspora Directory and the Global Diaspora Social Media Platform; the Initiatives of the African Diaspora in Australia and Asia Pacific; the AU Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus Organization in the USA; the “Taubira Law” Voted by the French Republic to Recognize that the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean are a Crime Against Humanity; The Global Movement for Reparatory Justice; the Ratification of the Article 3q of the AU Constitutive Act which “invites and encourages the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of Africa; the Economic Development for Black Empowerment in America and Europe; the African Diaspora Contribution to Democracy and Development in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America; the Initiatives of the Brazilian Association of Black Researchers; the Oprah Effect; the Promotion of the Black Population in Brazil; the Palmares Cultural Foundation in Brazil; the Celebrations of Zumbi dos Palmares in Brazil; the Caribbean Community [CARICOM] Commission on Reparation and Social Justice; the Initiatives of famous Prophet Shepherd Bushiri (Major1, the World’s Sharpest Major Prophet), and many initiatives in the USA, etc.

Some of the struggles still faced by the African Diaspora and discussed in the book relate to: Afrophobia, civil rights, denial of justice and devaluation of Black lives, education with curricula full of “lies” regarding history and history of scientific discoveries, healthcare problems, high rates of unemployment and imprisonment, housing problems, institutional racism and slavery, lack of access to good education and justice, media which persistently diffuse open racist stereotypes, multiple forms of discrimination, police violence, political and economic marginalization and stigmatization, poverty, racial discrimination, vulnerability to violence, xenophobia and related intolerance and discrimination. The book also addressed some of the strategical mistakes and divisions among the Continental African Diaspora and the Historical African Diaspora.

 

If you are interested in learning the secrets, agendas, strategies and potential of these modern leaders, then this is the book for you. Since influence can at times have negative effects, this book also addresses the destructive actions of certain leaders that are pulling down both Africa and its people. To learn more about the recipients, please visit www.AfricanDiasporaLeaders.com/recipient. Join the International Diaspora Engagement Social Media Platform today by creating a free account .

About the Author

Dr. Roland Holou is a scientist, businessman, and an international consultant in Agriculture/Agribusiness, Biotechnology, Diaspora Engagement, and Africa Development. He is the Founder and CEO of DiasporaEngager, www.DiasporaEngager.com and the architect of the map of Diaspora and their stakeholders . To learn more about him and contact him www.RolandHolou.com.

 

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The Africa We Want -The Leadership We Want! Where are the eagles?
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

We should not allow the chickens to lead the eagles even if the chickens convince themselves that they’re actually eagles!

 Yohannes Mezgebe


Yohannes Mezgebe

From 10 – 18 July 2016, African leaders will be meeting in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda for the 27thOrdinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU). A key highlight of the forthcoming summit will be the election of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC). The winner, he or she, will lead the continental body for the next four years, renewable once.

The AU was founded, as a premier continental institution for the promotion of accelerated socio-economic and political integration of the continent; not just as the level of countries or governments, but also by forging greater bonds amongst citizens of Africa.

To give expression to the above imperatives, the African Union Commission (AUC) of the AU is tasked to serve as the crucial administrative hub for driving and achieving the numerous mandates; including the implementation of Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. The Commission is, in particular, envisaged to be the key organ responsible for the day-to-day management of the affairs of the Union. It represents the Union; the yearnings and aspirations of member states, and also defends the continent’s collective interests. Alongside, it is expected to articulate and give concrete expression to the African common position, determine the strategic vision, plan and future horizons of the Union.

Whatever the AU has become today builds on the pioneering efforts of prominent sons and daughters of the continent; from His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Sellasie to Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Julius Nyerere, and Seiko Toure, to name a handful. These founding fathers, without an iota of doubts, had a clear vision; they could see far where the continent was heading, almost as if they had the power to look into the future. All of them, without exception, made their mark in the struggle for freedom and liberation. When three years ago, Africans celebrated the 50thAnniversary of the Organization of African Unity/AU, it was a milestone opportunity; both to celebrate but also begin to contemplate how to translate our collective dreams into concrete results to make Africa a better place for the present and future generations. The celebration was the beginning of a new phase in the collective journey, not its end.

Clearly, the AUC has generated considerable amount of momentum around African development and Integration issues. Yet, many of the ‘teething’ challenges the continent faced at inception continue to slow the pace; just as new ones have crept in. Most of today’s problems may be attributed to the slow progress made in the quest for unity and integration. At best, these have remained aspirational despite best of efforts. If 1963 the continent’s leaders were preoccupied with colonial and post-colonial struggles, and the consolidation of independence, nowadays, there are myriad new – no less daunting – realities.

Given the many challenges Africa faces now, the continent needs to have at the helm of the AUC a leaders with proven track records in dealing with Africa’s myriad problems: poverty, resource use, economic development, wealth sharing, peace and security, democracy, human rights, neo-colonialism, environmental protection, climate change and corruption. The list is far from exhaustive. The experience of the new AUC Chair as well as his or her unshakable determination to overcome the challenges – not merely deal with them – would be critical if the continent is to realize the vision of a united, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

 In today’s knowledge-driven world, the clarion call for visionary and committed leadership at the helm of the AUC is far greater than ever. The leader needed must be capable and willing to identify and tap into the pool of amazing talent of African citizens, starting with the team of talented staff of the Union; a growing number of whom risks drudgery and disillusionment with the status quo. The men and women who work at the Commission should be more than satisfied, they should be energized and passionate in what they do not the business-as-usual attitude that is so endemic now. The leader the Commission deserves must be one that leads by example and inspires. The right leader for the AUC must have a clarity of purpose working to achieve results, hand in hand, with broad constituencies of stakeholders: from the civil society to the private sector; from women’s group to youths’ movement.

Because the AU represents the hope of Africa and its peoples, it must care about the caliber of leaders who aspire to head the Commission. So, in Kigali this July 2016, when convening to elect the incoming Chair and leadership of the Commission, all eyes will be on the Heads of States and Governments to do what is right. They must put aside petty politics and permutations to decide what is best for the AUC and the continent. We stand at a crossroads: if Africa fails to make the right decision in electing the right leader the AUC deserves, the continent risks taking several fatal steps backwards.

Because it does not pay to allow chickens to lead the eagles even if the chickens convince themselves that they’re actually eagles, African citizens must demand a move from mediocrity to excellence. The incoming chairperson must not be determined by which region the candidate comes from but rather by his or her strength of character to lead.

Africa has had its faire share of failures over the years since 1960’s. It still carries old scars and new bruises, but it must look into the future with hope. In 50 years, the architects of Agenda 2063 and those currently tasked with its implementation might no longer be around given the mean life expectancy on the continent. This means, there will not be a united, prosperous and peaceful Africa unless the youth – the very people who will still be around in 50 years – is actively engaged in the process. The message of African youth calls for a different mindset, a different way of thinking, a different way of making decisions and acting. The choice before the Kigali conclave in July will be a tall one.

As they elect the right leader, they will have no better loyal partner than African citizens. They must deliver by all means; posterity will remember and not forgive them doing otherwise. As Frantz Fanon puts it perceptibly decades ago: “Each generation discovers its mission. It either achieves it or it betrays it”.

*Founder, Ubuntu Leadership Institute

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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UN Happy Africa’s Rapid Reaction Force About to Be Reality
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

By EDITH M. LEDERER*

African-Union-Standby-ForceThe U.N. peacekeeping chief said Tuesday that the United Nations — which has 80 percent of its peacekeepers deployed in Africa — is very happy that the African Union’s long-awaited rapid reaction force will become a reality in July.

Herve Ladsous told a Security Council meeting on peace and security cooperation between the U.N. and the AU that strengthening this partnership is “absolutely critical” especially because nine of the U.N.’s 16 peacekeeping missions are in Africa.

He said the African Standby Force, first proposed in 1997, is about to be declared operational at the next AU summit in July, which will mark an important step forward in Africa’s “capacity to respond to crises.”

The AU plan calls for each of the continent’s five regions — north, south, east, west and central — to provide a brigade of 5,000 troops to the force, with one always on standby to respond swiftly to crises anywhere in Africa.

Ladsous called the African Union “the most important partner of the U.N. in peacekeeping.”

He cited not only the U.N’s missions — from Congo, Central African Republic and Mali to South Sudan and it joint mission with the AU in Somalia — but the fact that almost 50 percent of the 105,000 U.N. peacekeepers worldwide come from AU member states.

The Security Council unanimously approved a statement stressing “the importance of further strengthening cooperation and developing an effective partnership” with the AU — not just in peacekeeping but in early warning of crises, preventive diplomacy, mediation and conflict resolution.

The council also welcomed “the enhanced peacekeeping role of the African Union” and regional African groups.

Haile Menkerios, the U.N. special envoy to the African Union, stressed that while much progress has been made, “threats to international peace and security in Africa remain real and numerous.”

In recent weeks, the U.N. and AU acted together to de-escalate political tensions in the island nation Comoros off the African coast, he said, and along with regional groups they are trying to get the government and opposition in Burundi to engage in an inclusive dialogue to find “a durable solution” to the current crisis.

Menkerios said the “collective challenge” of the U.N. and its member states is to support and strengthen the AU’s institutions to promote peace and security, “particularly the African Standby Force and the African Union’s preventive diplomacy and mediation capabilities.”

*AP/ABC

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Africa: Resolved to Address African Problems Using African Solutions
May 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

Olabisi Dare, Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Displaced Persons Division at the AU Commission.

Olabisi Dare, Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Displaced Persons Division at the AU Commission.

Istanbul — The African Union (AU) representing 54 countries and home to 1,2 billion inhabitants, will be in Istanbul to participate in the May 23-24, 2016, first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) with two key demands – that the international humanitarian system be redefined, and a strong, firm own commitment to itself, to the continent and its people, anchoring on the primacy of the states.

In an interview with IPS on the eve of the WHS, the Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Displaced Persons Division at the AU Commission, Olabisi Dare said “All the key concerns that the AU will be raising at the World Humanitarian Summit is that there is a need for the redefinition of the international humanitarian system; this redefinition should take the form of a reconfiguration of the system.”

The Nigerian career diplomat and international civil servant with over 27 years international field and desk experience in Asia, Africa, Europe and America, added that the requested redefinition “should take the form of a reconfiguration of the system, it being understood that the existing system which is predicated on the UN Resolution 46 182 is to say the least not being faithfully implemented.”

It is therefore in this context that the African Union is going to Istanbul with its own commitments to itself, that is its own commitment to the continent and its people and one of the key things of this commitment is to anchor on the primacy of the states itself, “the State has the primary responsibility to its own people to satisfy their needs and to take care of their vulnerabilities,” said Olabisi.

“We look at these in several forms:

The African Union feels the State has to play the primary role of coordinating any and all humanitarian action that may take place within its territory; the States have in their efforts to alleviate the needs of its people; the States have also to maintain humanitarian space and have a responsibility to guarantee the safety of both the humanitarian workers and humanitarian infrastructure.

We note that the State has the capability and capacity in key areas like use of military assets in assisting humanitarian action-a key example is the use of military forces in Liberia and other acted countries the military was deployed to serve as the first line of defense to combat the spread of the disease.

That said, Olabisi remarked “We can’t over-emphasise the role of the State in ensuring that humanitarian action and relief is dispensed in an effective manner and we see that this in itself will effect humanitarian action more readily on the continent.”

Asked what are the African needed solutions that the AUC brings to the WHS, Olabisi, who was also senior Political/Humanitarian Affairs Officer at the African Union Mission in Liberia, with extensive experience in various aspects peace-building in a post conflict environment, including serving on the Technical Support Team to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, reaffirmed “The African Union will make proposals in terms of what it considers as the reconfiguration of the International Humanitarian systems.”

“Part of the solution is that there is a need for governments to play the primary role and a greater coordination role in order to fulfill the attributes of state in terms of its predictive and responsive nature and other attributes and this in itself is as part of what Africa has committed to do and if this find its way to the Secretary General’s report as part of the recommendation, this would be very good.”

Olabisi, who was involved in the return and rehabilitation programme of over 300,000 Liberian refugees from across the West Africa sub-region, added “We are also going to call for the re-engineering of resolution 46182 Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations to reflect Africa’s views, to reflect the need to elevate the role of the state primarily to be to deliver to its people.”

The Resolution 46182 that Olabisi refers to, was adopted in 1991, setting as “Guiding Principles” that humanitarian assistance is of cardinal importance for the victims of natural disasters and other emergencies and must be provided in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality.

Guiding Principle 3 clearly states, “The sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be fully respected in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. In this context, humanitarian assistance should be provided with the consent of the affected country and in principle on the basis of an appeal by the affected country.”

 “Each State has the responsibility first and foremost to take care of the victims of natural disasters and other emergencies occurring on its territory. Hence, the affected State has the primary role in the initiation, organization, coordination, and implementation of humanitarian assistance within its territory,” states also the Guiding Principle 4.

And Guiding Principle 9 stresses, “There is a clear relationship between emergency, rehabilitation and development. In order to ensure a smooth transition from relief to rehabilitation and development, emergency assistance should be provided in ways that will be supportive of recovery and long-term development. Thus, emergency measures should be seen as a step towards long-term development.”

For its part, Guiding Principle 10 stresses, “Economic growth and sustainable development are essential for prevention of and preparedness against natural disasters and other emergencies. Many emergencies reflect the underlying crisis in development facing developing countries.

“Humanitarian assistance should therefore be accompanied by a renewal of commitment to economic growth and sustainable development of developing countries,” it adds. “In this context, adequate resources must be made available to address their development problems.”

“Contributions for humanitarian assistance should be provided in a way which is not to the detriment of resources made available for international cooperation for development,” says Guiding Principle 11.

Obalisi then recalled “When you look at the Common African Position (CAP) [on the post 2015 development agenda], you find that the first pillar speaks to the privacy of the state; all the other 9 pillar speak the same in one form or another.”

Africa will be calling on itself to be able to deliver more on resources and allocate more resources to humanitarian action, he added. “This is because it is mindful of the fact that the resource portals are dwindling from the north.”

Asked what are the outcomes that Africa would most expect from the WHS, Olabisi said that Africa expects the guarantee that international humanitarian system will be reconfigured to conform with new demands and address the issues faced by the humanitarian system at the moment – one of the main outcome the Summit will deliver.

“Africa is making these commitments to itself-due to the non-binding nature of the summit. The commitments Africa has made go beyond the WHS whether the summit is binding or not it will not affect what Africa is committed to, in its own self-interest and this is one of the key recommendations we will be taking to WHS.”

He stressed that Africa’s commitments are not to the WHS but the Summit “gives us an opportunity to discuss a paradigm shift in terms of the way we do things in the humanitarian field in Africa and also to see that we can positively add to the mitigation and alleviation of the sufferings of our people when disasters and displacements occur.”

“One of the key things to note is that Africa will go ahead with its own commitments, “our resolve to come up with something that is workable, pragmatic, and something that will make us see ourselves in a light that puts us in a position to help ourselves despite the grand bargain on Africa being shut out of the whole system,” Olabisi emphasised.

“Africa however is resolved to begin addressing its own problems using African solutions to African problems.”

*Source IPS/Allafrica

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BMCE Bank of Africa closes registration for the 2016 African Entrepreneurship Award and prepares to announce the candidates for its second round
May 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

image001 (10)8800 entrepreneurs from 105 countries registered with 3900 business ideas

The Group BMCE Bank of Africa announces the closing of Round 1 of the second edition of the African Entrepreneurship Award . The AEA is dedicated to inspire talented African entrepreneurs, or originating from Africa, by funding businesses using technologies that transcend borders to create jobs and improve lives.

Round 1 opened in mid-February and closed May 6th 2016, attracting about 8800 entrepreneurs from 105 countries submitting 3900 business ideas, that is an increase of +33% in applications volume compared to the Award’s first edition in 2015. From now until May 31st, 130 Regional African mentors are mentoring each business idea to decide who continues to Round 2 “Most Likely to Succeed Across Africa” in each category: Education, Environment and Uncharted Domains. Entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries plus 51 countries in the diaspora competed in Round 1 for “Most Needed In My Region”.

Round 1 winners will be announced on May 31st for the opening of Round 2, lasting from May 31st to July 31st 2016. During Round 2, entrepreneurs will benefit from the Pan-African mentors’ expertise to improve their business’ ability to meet customer needs and compete effectively across Africa. Following this second round, the best ideas will qualify for the third round of the AEA competition, where Global Mentors from the three continents will mentor African entrepreneurs to improve their businesses and rank “The Most Significant and Sustainable Businesses” for Africa.

Initiated in November 2014 by the Chairman of the Group BMCE Bank of Africa, Mr. Othman Benjelloun, the African Entrepreneurship Award illustrates the commitment of this group to inspire entrepreneurship across all of Africa. Each year, this initiative funds 1 million USD for the best African entrepreneurs, thus supporting their efforts to create jobs and improve lives for every African region. In 2015, the 1 million USD Award was shared among 10 winners from five economic zones across Africa.

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AGAINST ALL ODDS : HOW TO STAY ON TOP OF THE GAME-Angelle Kwemo shares tips in new book
May 17, 2016 | 0 Comments
Angelle Kwemo

Angelle Kwemo

International Business Strategist, Attorney and Author, Angelle B. Kwemo shares her journey while outlining the steps anyone can take to achieve ultimate success in every area of their lives.

 

AGAINST ALL ODDS

HOW TO STAY ON TOP OF THE GAME

By Angelle B. Kwemo

On Sale NOW

 “You Must Act As If It Is Impossible To Fail” ~ Ashanti

 The Oracle Group International is thrilled to announce the publication of AGAINST ALL ODDS: How to Stay On Top of The Game (Paperback; On Sale Now; $14.99; ISBN: 9781483441566) by award winning international business, political consultant and entrepreneur Angelle Kwemo, CEO of Astrategik Group and Founder of Believe in Africa. A lifetime in the making, Angelle provides readers with a clear and practical blueprint for personal and professional success, while sharing her amazing journey from childhood in Cameroon to become a globally respected government policy and international trade strategist.

41-KhhxmuRL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_AGAINST ALL ODDS is the captivating story of one woman’s determination to pursue her passion and aspirations while defying self-limitation and status quo. Angelle Kwemo, who is proud to be an African woman, followed her dreams, ignored the ridicule, and fought aggressively to seize every opportunity that presented itself to her.  Today, Angelle is one of the worlds most sought after government relations and international trade advisory strategists. She advises multi dimensional entities on such matters as how to compete globally and build inroads into the United States, Africa, and other emerging markets. Angelle has lectured at Universities and Conferences around the globe, teaching techniques and strategies on how to successfully navigate into the international marketplace along with the art of remaining competitive.

So what does it take to build the courage to follow your vision, overcome challenges and be relentless in the pursuit of your dreams? Angelle will tell you. Presented here is Angelle Kwemo’s unique blueprint on how to become non-negotiable about your goals and eliminate those toxic behaviors that could potentially impede all efforts towards the attainment of success. To assist in the accomplishment of the aforementioned feat, Angelle utilizes AGAINST ALL ODDS to offer provocative lessons, real-life case studies, and proven strategies of risk and reward that are designed to help pave your own-chartered course of success and live a life of richness.

This story is for all people of race, color, and color, but not for the light of heart, I think its important to share how I shaped my vision, developed endurance, over came the challenges, and became relentless in the pursuit of my dreams”, says Ms. Kwemo, “Life is like a game, having different levels of championship to grow and evolve, this manual will help you stay on top of your game and overcome life’s challenges at every stage of your career”. 

   ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angelle Kwemo in a file picture with Congressman Bobby Rush, John Kufuor former President of Ghana and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria

Angelle Kwemo in a file picture with Congressman Bobby Rush, John Kufuor former President of Ghana and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria

Angelle Kwemo is Founder & Chair of Believe in Africa advocating for empowering the African private sector, women and youth. She is President & CEO of AstrategiKGroup, a firm that provides government relations, international trade advisory and strategic advice to multi-dimensional entities, allowing them to compete globally and build inroads into the United States, Africa and other emerging markets. A native of Cameroon, she started her career in France at Bestaux Law firm.  In Douala, Cameroon, as one of the youngest executives, she served as the Chief of the Maritime Claims and Disputes Department, and later as the General Counsel for Bollore Technology Group and Geodis Overseas, one of the largest French investors in West Africa. She moved to the United States in 2001 where her determination landed her job in U.S. Congress where she worked for 8 years.

AGAINST ALL ODDS BY ANGELLE KWEMO

May 25, 2016; $14.99

Lulu Publishing, Inc.

ISBN #: 9781483441566

eBook ISBN #: 9781483441573

 

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THE RISE OF A PEACEMAKING CAPITAL, IN AFRICA
May 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY LAURA SECORUN PALET*

1434e17719d384aa17f81519a45cf84dThe Arusha airport looks like a huge souvenir shop with an airstrip attached. Thousands of tourists pass through here on their way to Tanzania’s famed national parks and Mount Kilimanjaro. But what those sunburned visitors may not know is that where their safari starts is where civil wars end.

This sleepy city in the north of Tanzania has been a diplomatic hub since the signing of the Arusha Accords in 1993 ended the war in Rwanda. But now, with civil conflict brewing or in full swing in neighboring Burundi and South Sudan, this neutral city may be the region’s best broker for peace agreements. Over 345 new cases of torture and abuse by security forces have been reported in Burundi since the start of 2016 and experts warn of the violence taking an even darker turn. “We are not there now,” says Alexandre Lévêque, Canada’s high commissioner and envoy to the East African community, “but everybody remembers Rwanda.”

The role of peacemaker is one that Tanzania’s recently elected president John Magufuli is taking seriously. He has appointed a seasoned diplomat as minister of foreign affairs and at the top of his agenda is addressing the violence in Burundi, where the election of President Pierre Nkurunziza to an unconstitutional third term has thrown the East African nation into turmoil. If the Tanzanian official manages to convince Nkurunziza to come to the table, that table will be in Arusha.

Home to a number of crucial institutions, including the East African Court of Justice, Arusha is also where the Burundi civil war ended in 2005 after 12 years — and some 300,000 dead. It was there that the National Liberation Forces, Burundi’s last rebel group, finally signed a deal to stop the fighting, demobilize and be integrated into the national army. Today, nestled among rolling green hills, Arusha moves slowly; save for an occasional four-wheel-drive vehicle rushing tourists to view zebras, the city gives the impression that nothing bad could happen here.

Tanzania has more moral authority than all countries in the area combined, so they are best placed to make peace happen.

Paul Nantulya, Pentagon adviser

But can Arusha — “the Geneva of Africa,” as Bill Clinton once called it — live up to its past image as peacemaker? Part of that depends on the rest of Tanzania. Paul Nantulya, a Pentagon adviser who was part of a peace-based negotiating team in Arusha in 1998, says having morally respected arbiters — the late South African leader Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s founding father — are key to any peace agreement. “Those accords only happened because of Mandela and Neyrere,” Nantulya says. “Tanzania has more moral authority than all countries in the area combined, so they are best placed to make peace happen.”

Given Tanzania’s neighbors, there isn’t much of an alternative. Kenya has a recent history of electoral violence, and Ugandan and Rwandan leaders have both forsaken term limits — the same issue fueling violence in Burundi. Meanwhile, Tanzania just had a peaceful change of government, and in 2003, when violence threatened Zanzibar, the country managed to negotiate the creation of a “unity government.”

 

Shutterstock 388127020

Source: Shutterstock

But regional unity is lacking from the Burundi negotiations. During the 2005 Burundi accord, neighboring countries agreed to a severe embargo and to put peacekeeping boots on the ground. Today, Tanzania has to be the one to lead the way to a more coordinated effort. “Tanzania is capable of doing that,” says Hassan B. Jallow, chief prosecutor of the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, from his small office in Arusha. Lévêque says it’s urgent for the country to “step up to its reputation.”

There are many obstacles remaining in the way of President Magufuli playing Switzerland’s role in this heated region. For starters, his party has a long-standing relationship with Burundi’s ruling party, so it finds itself torn between its roles as peacekeeper and ally. And Tanzania’s relationship with some of its neighbors is becoming more strained, says Nantulya. Even if it manages to be the peacemaking arbiter it aims to be, there is no guarantee of success — despite Tanzania’s best efforts to help manage violence in South Sudan after the country’s civil war, the peace accord disintegrated only a few months after its signing.

Near the Arusha airport is the almost empty Mount Meru Hotel. Recently, its sad-looking conference rooms and echoing halls were packed with more than 1,000 well-dressed men and women attending an East African summit. At the top of the agenda? Burundi. Welcoming attendees was a massive photo of Nyerere — the man who brokered the Arusha Accords and who warned, more than half a century ago, “We must either unite now or perish.”

*Source ZY

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Patrick Ekeng’s death prompts calls for ‘better care’ at stadiums
May 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Piers Edwards*

Cameroon midfielder Patrick Ekeng died after collapsing on the pitch while playing for Dinamo Bucharest in Romania

Cameroon midfielder Patrick Ekeng died after collapsing on the pitch while playing for Dinamo Bucharest in Romania

Fifa’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jiri Dvorak, is to ask football’s world governing body to implement tougher rules on stadium medical care.

His comments come in the wake of the death of Cameroon’s Patrick Ekeng.

The 26-year-old died of a suspected heart attack on 6 May playing for Dinamo Bucharest in Romania, with the ambulance that treated him having no defibrillator.

“At professional football matches, there should be an automatic external defibrillator (AED) on the sidelines and staff adequately trained to use it,” Dvorak told BBC Sport.

“I will pass this on to the [Fifa] Council for a strategic decision so that we can implement it within our member associations.”

An AED is a device that sends a powerful electric shock to a heart to try to restore its natural rhythm.

Professor Jiri Dvorak’s reaction to Patrick Ekeng’s ambulance not having an AED:
The question is why then have the ambulance there? If you have an ambulance, it is an absolute must to have a defibrillator within the ambulance.

Following the death of another Cameroonian, Marc-Vivien Foe, in 2003, Fifa has ensured that all of its international competitions take place in stadiums with sufficient medical equipment.

“We also have to see that competitions at national levels have the same standard of care,” said Dvorak.

“We have to intensify this campaign all over the world.”

Following Ekeng’s death, his agent Hasan Anil Eken proposed a new ruling called the ‘Eken’g Rule’ in which he called on Fifa to make small hospitals a mandatory requirement for every stadium.

This came after what the Turk described as ‘unacceptable mistakes’ in the treatment of Ekeng, who was buried in Cameroon on Sunday.

Ekeng’s medical assistance is currently subject to an inquiry by prosecutors in Romania after the ambulance company was heavily criticised by the country’s Interior Ministry.

In a statement, the Ministry said the company Puls had chosen to supply ambulances without defibrillators ‘without previously acquiring the legal approval in this respect.’

An investigation into other ambulances provided by Puls discovered defibrillator machines with expired batteries while some medicine, such as adrenaline shots, had expired.

“There were unacceptable mistakes caused to lose his life, with wrong doctor intervention and a lack of medical equipment like defibrillator,” Eken said in his letter to Fifa.

“In these kinds of injuries, every second is very important to save lives.”

Fifa says players that have suffered sudden cardiac arrest have ‘a success rate of 90% for resuscitation’ if they receive treatment from an AED within 1-2 minutes, with the probability of success declining at a rate of ‘about 10% per minute’ thereafter.

Video evidence shows that Ekeng was still in the insufficiently-equipped ambulance on the pitch two minutes and 45 seconds after he collapsed, prior to being taken to hospital.

Dvorak has welcomed Eken’s proposal for better facilities inside a stadium but suggests logistical and financial concerns rule it out as a possibility.

“The mini-hospital is a good idea, but this is not feasible to establish all around the world,” said the Czech.

“Having a defibrillator and educated staff is currently sufficient to deal with the situation.”

Dvorak also revealed his reaction to hearing that the ambulance treating Ekeng had no defibrillator.

“The question is why then have the ambulance there? If you have an ambulance, it is an absolute must to have a defibrillator within the ambulance.”

Paramedics who treated Fabrice Muamba when he collapsed at White Hart Lane in 2012 have credited the use of an AED on the Bolton Wanderers player as he lay on the pitch as being critical to his survival.

In 2013, Fifa issued a Medical Emergency Bag, which contains an AED among other equipment, to all its member associations, but this is largely used for international – not club – matches.

This month alone, three players have died of suspected heart attacks – with Brazil’s Bernardo Ribeiro and another Cameroonian, Jeanine Christelle Djomnam, as well as Ekeng.

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Ecobank Group Appoints Amin Manekia as Group Exec, Corporate & Investment Banking
May 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

Mr Manekia was most recently with Citigroup, where he spent 25 years of his career

ecobankb (1)Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) , parent company of the Ecobank Group, today announced the appointment of Mr Amin Manekia as Group Executive of its Corporate & Investment Banking business. Mr Manekia steps into the position vacated in late 2015 by Mr Charles Kié, who moved to become Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria.

A national of Pakistan, Amin Manekia joins Ecobank with 28 years of international corporate banking experience. It includes an excellent grounding in transaction banking, commercial banking, credit risk and general management. His career spans various business and regional leadership roles across different parts of the world, notably  the United States, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Mr Manekia was most recently with Citigroup, where he spent 25 years of his career. He joined Citigroup directly from university in the United States in 1988, moving to South Africa earlier this year as Managing Director and Africa Head for Citi Securities & Banking. In this role, he successfully led Citibank’s Institutional Clients business.

Before his move to South Africa, Mr Manekia spent two transit years at the Samba Financial Group in Saudi Arabia. There, he was the executive responsible for rebuilding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s corporate banking portfolio following the financial crisis. Prior to this, he held various positions with Citibank in different  businesses and regions. These included his Nairobi-based role as Managing Director & Banking Head for East and Southern Africa, with business management responsibilities for corporate banking for that region. In 2007, he was the Commercial Banking Head across Citibank’s Africa platform.

As Citibank Country Head for Bulgaria from 2004 to 2007, Mr Manekia successfully led the execution and development of a transformation strategy, which he achieved by quadrupling the bank’s business revenue base within his three-year tenure. In 1993, he relocated from New York to Pakistan, where he worked on  the origination side of the business. During his six-year tenure in Pakistan, he held a series of corporate banking roles in Karachi and Lahore.

Mr Manekia’s appointment as Group Executive of Ecobank’s Corporate and Investment Banking business takes effect from 4 July 2016. He will report directly to the Ecobank Group CEO and be responsible for the following business lines: Corporate Banking Group; Transaction Service Group; Investment Banking Group; Fixed Income, Currencies & Commodities (Treasury); and Securities, Wealth and Asset Management.

Incorporated in Lomé, Togo, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) (www.Ecobank.com) is the parent company of the leading independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank. It currently has a presence in 36 African countries: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Group employs over 20,000 people in 40 different countries in over 1,200 branches and offices. Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals. More information can be found on the Group’s website: ecobank.com or on Twitter: @GroupEcobank

*Ecobank/APO

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Patrick Ekeng; Funeral of Cameroon international held in Yaounde
May 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Leocadia Bongben*

Mourners attend Patrick Ekeng's funeral in Yaounde

Mourners attend Patrick Ekeng’s funeral in Yaounde

The funeral of Cameroon international Patrick Ekeng has been held in Yaounde, following his death during a league match in Romania on 6 May.

Ekeng died aged 26 of a suspected heart attack after collapsing on the pitch playing for Dinamo Bucharest.

Cameroon players past and present attended the service, and gave support to Ekeng’s wife and family.

The country’s sports minister Bidoung Kpwatt also attended, representing Cameroon’s president Paul Biya.

Ekeng’s brother Jacques Ekeng, paid tribute to “Patou” as he was known.

“He gave more love to his friends than to his family. That is Patrick, he was generous,” Jacques Ekeng said.

“No matter the beauty, riches and cars, you cannot be saved from death,” he told his brother’s friends.

“My brother is dead with a smile, and this is what comforts me.”

Ekeng’s club Dinamo Bucharest said they would honour the player’s memory by sending the Romanian Cup to his family in Cameroon if they win the trophy.

The 13-time winners face CFR Cluj in the postponed final on 17 May.

*Source BBC

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NDI’s Chris Fomunyoh to Capitol Hill: Democratic governance is critical to counterterrorism strategy
May 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L.

Dr Chris Fomunyoh

Dr Chris Fomunyoh

As African countries battle with the threats of terrorism, the international community should be cautious of giving dictators a free pass just because of their engagement in the fight says Dr Chris Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute.

On Capitol Hill to discuss Terrorism and Instability in Sub-Saharan Africa, Fomunyoh told a Senate Hearing on May 10, 2016, that democracy and good governance must be a fundamental part of any successful counter terrorism strategy.

“Africans of this generation are jittery and extremely fearful of reliving the experience of the Cold War era during which dictatorships thrived amidst grave human deprivation and gross human rights abuses just because some leaders were allies of the West at the time,” said Fomunyoh, who has used the NDI platform to facilitate the emergence of several democracies in Africa.

“The fight against terrorism should not become a substitute for the Cold War paradigm of this century with regards to sub-Saharan Africa,” Fomunyoh said, as he cautioned the international community against giving autocratic regimes a pass just because there are partners in the fight against terrorism.

In the recommendations made to the U.S Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Fomunyoh said successful counter terrorism strategies must be grounded in the consolidation of democracy and good governance for short term military victories to be sustained in the medium and long term.

“Shrinking political space, frequent and overt violations of citizen rights and freedoms, and the undermining of constitutional rule and meaningful elections breed discontent and disaffection that form the fertile ground for recruiters and perpetrators of violence and extremism,” Fomunyoh told the Committee Chaired by  Sen .Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)

Good partners in countering violent extremism and terrorism should match that with good performances in democratic governance, Fomunyoh said, while recommending that governments need encouragement to invest in rehabilitating communities and creating structures that eliminate conditions that breed the rise of terrorism.

Paying a courtesy call to President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso, Fomunyoh told the US.Senate that young but fragile democracies must be supported

Paying a courtesy call to President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso, Fomunyoh told the US.Senate that young but fragile democracies must be supported

“Consolidation of democracy should be approached as a long-term process that requires consistent and continued support with mechanisms to reward or incentivize good behavior and penalize poor performance,” Fomunyoh said in making the case for more assistance towards supporting young democracies with weak political institutions.

Supporting the argument of Nicholas Kristof that education can be more effective in combatting militancy than military intervention, Fomunyoh told the Senate Hearing that more investment was needed in education to give young people more opportunities.

“Friends of Africa must make sure that they do not, willingly or inadvertently, allow themselves to become accomplices in denying Africans their basic rights and freedoms and a secure, prosperous future,” he concluded.

Accompanying Dr Fomunyoh on the second panel of the hearing was Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa United Nations Development Program.

The Senate was the first in a two day Capitol Hill blitz for Fomunyoh, who also appeared before a Congressional Hearing to discuss The U.S Role in Helping Nigeria Confront Boko Haram, and other Threats in Northern Nigeria.

 

 

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How to steal from Africa, all perfectly legally
May 7, 2016 | 1 Comments

When UK PM David Cameron opens the Anti-Corruption Summit on 12 May, we should be aware that the greatest fraud perpetrated on the majority of the world’s citizens is all perfectly legal.

by *

The City of London, arguably the heart and headquarters of a international network of tax havens. Credit: Michael Garnett.

The City of London, arguably the heart and headquarters of a international network of tax havens. Credit: Michael Garnett.

Africa loses at least $50 billion a year — and probably much, much more than that — perfectly lawfully. About 60% of this loss is from aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, which organise their accounts so that they make their profits in tax havens, where they pay little or no tax. Much of the remainder is from organised crime with a smaller amount from corruption. This was the headline finding of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, headed by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, a year ago.

This amount is the same or smaller than international development assistance ($52 billion per year) or remittances ($62 billion). If we take the accumulated stock of these illicit financial flows since 1970 and factor in the returns on this capital, Africa has provided the rest of the world with $1.7 trillion, at a conservative estimate. Africa is a capital exporter.

The rest of the world didn’t take much notice of the Mbeki Panel’s findings until the Panama Papers revealed the extent to which this is just part of a global phenomenon. The rich aren’t being taxed. The rest of us pay for everything.

The OECD calls the phenomenon ‘base erosion’ (referring to the emasculation of the tax base of the affected countries) and ‘profit shifting’. The beneficiaries are a small fraction of the world’s wealthiest 1%, and the secrecy jurisdictions (aka tax havens) where they sequester their money. These locations include the City of London, numerous British overseas territories, Switzerland, and new entrants to the global business of looking after the monies of the hyper-wealthy and ordinarily wealthy, who would prefer not to pay tax. Countries including Mauritius, the Seychelles, Botswana and Ghana are seeking to enter this competition.

And the vast majority of this is perfectly legal.

Accountants’ alchemy

Two hundred years ago, the slave trade was legal. One hundred years ago, colonial occupation and exploitation were legal. This time the legal immiseration is done by accountants.

This dimension of unethical financial activity isn’t captured by Transparency International (TI) and its Corruption Perceptions Index. That index is, as it says, a measurement ofperceptions. But of what andby whom? As the UN Economic Commission for Africa recently observed, it relies on asking key power players in a nation’s economy what they think of the level of corruption. Many of those are foreign investors. Using this approach a country like Zambia will unsurprisingly tend to rank high on corruption – 76 worst out of 168. Meanwhile, Switzerland will rank low – 7th.

But the perfectly legal transfer of the wealth of Africa to Europe isn’t captured by this index. As TI notes, “Many ‘clean’ countries have dodgy overseas records”. Consider this: the number one destination for Zambian copper exports is Switzerland, which in 2014 accounted for 59.5% of the country’s copper exports. Yet Switzerland’s own imports that year scarcely contained any mention of copper at all. Had the African country’s main exports just vanished into thin air? The 2015 figures suggest that in fact much of these exports were destined for China (31%), though Switzerland remained the number one destination (34%).

The answer to where the money goes lies in accountants’ alchemy. International corporations present their books in such a way that they pay as little tax as possible in either Zambia or China. And they don’t pay much in Switzerland either – because the Swiss don’t demand it.

Suddenly the ranking of Switzerland, 69 places ahead of Zambia in the honesty league, looks a bit suspect. But of course it’s all perfectly legal.

From Zambia’s point of view, what counts as corruption is defined by the rich and powerful. When their country is robbed blind by clever accounting tricks, against which their government and people have no recourse, it is just the operation of a free market controlled – as free markets so often are – by corporations that have enough power to set the rules.

Political money in a political marketplace

Another little noticed but significant feature of illicit financial flows from Africa is that there are occasional reverse flows. The movements back into African countries aren’t as big as the outflows, but they are important. What is happening here is “round-tripping”: spiriting funds away to a safe place so they can be brought back, with their origins unexplained, and no questions needing to be asked.

The same multinational corporation that is defrauding an African country can pay money into the offshore account of one of its political leaders. Or that leader can whisk funds away by other means. Our main concern here isn’t the money invested in real estate in France, yachts, fast cars, or foreign business ventures. These are personal insurance policies in case things go wrong at home, or tickets to the global elite club. Rather, our concern is the cash kept liquid, to be brought back home when needed – the money brought back to fix elections, buy loyalties and, in sundry other ways, secure leaders in power. These are political budgets par excellence: the funds used for discretionary political purposes by political business operators.

In the United States, almost any kind of political funding you can think of can be done in a perfectly legal manner, given a smart enough accountant and lawyer. Political Action Committees can spend as much money as they like in support of a candidate. Campaign finance is essentially without a ceiling.

In Africa, political finance laws range from lax to non-existent. Spending vast amounts of money on winning political office – or staying in office – offends no law. The monetisation of politics is one of the biggest transformations in African political life of the last 30 years. It is generating vast inequalities, consolidating a political-commercial elite which has a near-monopoly on government office, fusing corporate business with state authority, and making public life subject to the laws of supply and demand. Political markets are putting state-building into reverse gear, transforming peace-making into a continual struggle against a tide of mercenarised violence, and – most perniciously – turning elections into an auction of loyalties.

Political money is discrediting democracy. Some of the transactions that constitute Africa’s political markets are blatantly corrupt, but many are simply the routine functioning of political systems based on the exchange of political services for material reward.

Yes, there is corruption in Africa, just as there is corruption in international trade and finance. But when Prime Minister David Cameron opens the Anti-Corruption Summit next week on 12 May, we should be aware that the greatest fraud perpetrated on the majority of the world’s citizens – notably those living in Africa – is all perfectly legal.

*Source African Arguments.Alex de Waal is the Director of the World Peace Foundation. 

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Export-Import Bank of the United States Chairman Hochberg to travel to Cameroon and Rwanda from May 9th- 13th, 2016
May 6, 2016 | 1 Comments
Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg

Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg

Chairman Hochberg will meet with government and business leaders in Cameroon, to discuss EXIM Bank financing opportunities for Sub-Sahara African businesses.

Chairman Hochberg will also attend World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, where he will participate in conference activities and engage strategic dialogues with African leaders in the public and private sectors.

ABOUT EX-IM BANK:

EXIM Bank is an independent federal agency that supports and maintains U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees and export credit insurance, to promote the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad. Almost ninety percent of its transactions directly serve American small businesses.

In fiscal year 2015, EXIM Bank approved $12.4 billion in total authorizations. These authorizations supported an estimated $17 billion in U.S. export sales, as well as approximately 109,000 American jobs in communities across the country.

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If you’d bet on the ‘Netflix of Africa’ five years ago, you’d have made a 3,000% return
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Yomi Kazeem*

Nollywood money is big money.(Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Nollywood money is big money. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

As Nigeria’s tech space has matured over the last few years, it has drawn the attention—and money—of curious investors. But there have been questions with the still-maturing tech industry if any investors are making significant profitable exits.

Well, maybe some of them have. Jason Njoku, founder of iROKOtv, the online streaming service often dubbed the ‘Netflix of Africa’, says his early investors made a whopping 3,000% profit on their early investment.

Less than a year old at the time, Njoku says the investors paid $80,000 for 10% of the iROKOtv but sold the entire stake earlier this year to other existing investors, for $2.4 million. It doesn’t necessarily imply iRokoTV was valued at $24 million because as early investors it is likely their stakeholding was reduced with subsequent rounds of funding.

In a typically frank blog post Njoku explained his journey with investors:

$80k for 10% of iROKO. That’s an $800k valuation. At the time it was crazy for a less than one year old company, which had generated $200, $1k and $6k in the previous 3 months. I was a terrible negotiator then, so was pretty desperate. I actually offered an old university friend of mine 35% for about $50k. Thank God Bastian [iRoko co-founder] did the negotiation and was a less generous than I. In the end? He passed.

Earlier this year, after 5.2 years, the same investors sold their entire stake for which they paid $80k for in 2011. For $2.4m.$2,400,000.00. With Naira at N300, that’s N720m. Thats a x30 ROI. 3,000%. It took 5 years.

Five years after launch, iROKOtv remains a leading player in the video-on demand space. In January, only weeks after Netflix announced its Africa launch, iROKOtv raised $19 million from French cable service Canal+ and the Swedish-based media company Kinnevik AB. The money, the company said, will be invested in producing 300 hours of original content this year and double that by 2018. iROKOtv has grown popular, particularly outside the continent where 55% of its subscribersare located. Offering a range of titles, the online service allows Africans in the diaspora watch flicks on subscription based packages of around$5 per month.

Njoku, who was named a Quartz Africa Innovator 2015, is himself an active investor and mentor to startups in Nigeria. Now one of the biggest destinations for venture capital on the continent, Nigeria ranked only behind South Africa for investment raised in 2015.

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The grand heist: A perspective from the South on the Panama Papers
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Sungu Oyoo*

mm_6In South Africa, over $60 million was lost through a well-orchestrated fraud from the mineworkers’ death benefits pool. 46,000 widows and orphans lost their benefits in this fraud revealed in the Panama Papers. Can you I imagine the pain of a widow  going to claim her husband’s death benefits only to find it all gone? Imagine that this widow has four children and no real source of income. We must resist!

The world woke up to news of the Panama Papers a few weeks ago. The release of the Panama Papers – an information trove comprising about 11.5 million documents leaked from Panamanian law-firm Mossack Fonseca – by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists helped shed light on the shadowy world that is international capital, and cast global attention on underhand financial dealings at international level. These papers have shown us how corporations, governments and individuals in the highest echelons of governments have colluded with their agents who include lawyers, bankers and accountants to create a parallel universe of offshore companies which they use to conceal wealth, evade taxes, perpetuate fraud and hide proceeds of bribery.

Several corporations, global leaders and their associates were adversely mentioned in the Panama Papers. But Panama is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the magnitude of financial institutions and governments that would be implicated if humanity knew of happenings in just twenty tax havens in the world.

The media has covered the Panama papers and the 215,000 offshore companies extensively since their emergence into the spotlight. However, most commentaries on the Panama Papers have been focused on financial aspects of the shadowy transactions and the people behind them. But what’s the impact of all this on humanity? Perhaps it’s time you and I had a frank discussion on the impact of these tax havens on our daily lives.

Africa is estimated to lose $50 billion annually to illicit financial flows, according to a 2014 report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). This figure is, however, likely to be way higher in actual sense due to a general lack of data and the secretive nature of tax havens. Illicit financial flows are known to inhibit tax collection, and limit the overall ability of governments to provide needs like education, health, housing, and other social services to citizens.

In Uganda, this has happened through evasion of taxes from oil revenue. The Panama Papers reveal how Heritage Oil and Gas Company moved its domicile from Bahamas to Mauritius, which has a double tax treaty with Uganda, so as to evade a tax liability of $400 million. All this happened while hospitals in Uganda were understaffed, faced shortages of medicine and equipment, and had patients sleeping in overcrowded hospital wards. Uganda’s health budget in 2015/2016 stood at 1.2 Trillion shillings – approximately $ 358.2 million – which is less than the $400 million tax evaded by Heritage Oil.

This issue also brings to fore elements of the dependency syndrome. The Ugandan government only financed 45% of its 2015/2016 budget from taxation, and sourced the remaining 55% from foreign aid and loans. This brings to the fore issues of dependency syndrome, the misguided belief that some countries cannot solve their own problems without outside help. Why are some states quick to opt for external financing of their budgets, while allowing multinational corporations to evade taxes?

Perhaps more interesting is the role of these financial institutions in the trade of conflict minerals. What’s the impact of happenings in these tax havens on people who live in regions where conflict has been used to facilitate mineral extraction and plunder? We must not shy away from discussing what the Panama Papers mean for mineral-rich but conflict-ridden countries like Sierra Leonne and the Democratic Republic of Congo. What roles do tax havens, banks and other multinational corporations play in this grand heist? Where do the interests of the state and the interests of capital connect?

International law requires disclosure of origins of gold and other precious minerals by those who trade in them. Rawbank, a commercial bank in the DRC, accepts gold in exchange of services without employing any clear mechanism to verify the source of the gold. 70% of Congo’s gold is alleged to end up in Dubai which refines, then exports it to Switzerland, a tax haven with access to the global market. Switzerland sells gold to the world.

Colonialism robbed Africa of many resources – and acted as one of the main systems on which the growth of capitalism was then anchored. At the end of colonial rule, the empire left a small cabal of petty bourgeoisie who eventually found their way into power or close to power in most African states. This cabal evolved into the political and economic elite of today. This elitist class facilitates the actions of multinational corporations by looking the other way while their states are plundered. In states like the Congo, armed militias have been pitted against one another for decades. Who thrives in this environment of endless wars, and reaps benefits from plunder of minerals? Definitely not the Congolese people.

In South Africa, over $60 million was lost through a well-orchestrated investment fraud from the mineworkers’ death benefits pool. 46,000 South African widows and orphans lost their benefits as a resultant effect of this fraud that was carefully hidden in a plethora of accounts revealed in the Panama Papers. I’m not South African, but I imagine the pain felt by a widow who goes to claim her husband’s death benefits only to find it all gone. Now, imagine this widow has four or more children, and no real source of income. There exists the possibility that she has no rural home to go to because both she and her husband were born into squatter families – dispossessed of land generations ago.

What has all this reduced her to? Probably another statistic to be discussed at international conferences on poverty. Violence comes in many forms – and poverty is one of the greatest forms of violence that can be meted out on a human being. I relate to her situation because the situation of the African person is the same throughout the continent. Individual circumstances in South Africa and in my native Kenya may be different, but the grand structure that facilitates exploitation of people and demeans their being is of one shape – a capitalistic shape.

Having sincere discussions will make us alive to the harsh reality that today’s world is. Many corporations and individuals operate with a brazen sense of impunity because they know they are powerful enough to get away with almost anything. State capture is real. Many states in the global south have been enslaved by the owners of capital, the so-called one-percenters, who place profits before people. People in the global south have, on the other hand, been reduced to mere factors of production.

The level of interaction between the economic elite and the political class has never been more frightening, and paints to a worrying future for us all. Banks are big drivers in all this. Bankers finance the politicians. Politicians help preserve the status quo, and tax havens live on. International criminals will keep doing business until we confront these systems head-on. We must resist!

*  Source Pambazuka.Sungu Oyoo is an advocate for economic and social justice in Kenya. Follow him on twitter: @Sungu_Oyoo.

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US$7 Million Prize to Fund African Renewable Energy Projects
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

Calling all entrepreneurs and developers of renewable energy projects in Africa

  • Just three weeks left for entrepreneurs to enter the ACF competition which will see developers across the continent compete for funding and expertise
  • Calling all entrepreneurs and developers of renewable energy projects in Africa

Access Power , a developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today kicked off the countdown for applications to the ACF 2016, the second edition of its successful Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) for renewable energy projects in Africa.

eef1acfb29c60dcRenewable energy developers have less than one month left to submit their applications for a chance to win US$7million in ACF prize funding. The deadline for applications is the 20st May 2016.

ACF 2016 is a competition dedicated to finding local power project developers with credible renewable energy projects in Africa who need access to funding, technical experience, and expertise to bring their plans to life.

Following the competition’s successful launch last year, the ACF increased its funding from US$5m in 2015 to US$7m for this year’s winners.  Up to three successful projects will be selected by a panel of expert judges whose decision will be based on commercial, technical and environmental merits, the local regulatory environment, and capability of the project team.

The winners of ACF 2016 will be announced on Tuesday 22nd June 2016 before a live audience during the Africa Energy Forum in London  (see Notes to Editors for further details). The winners will enter a Joint Development Agreement with Access Power, which will take an equity stake in the winning projects and fund third-party development costs such as feasibility studies, grid studies, environmental and social impact assessments and due diligence fees.  Access Power will also provide technical support, financial structuring and development process management.

Nasir Aku, ACF Program Manager at Access Power commented, “With just one month to go until the application deadline, we want to make sure that all local developers across the African continent are aware of this fantastic opportunity to secure valuable funding and expertise that can turn an idea for a renewable energy project into reality.”

ACF 2016 is leading the way in demonstrating and supporting the type of renewable energy projects that will help meet Africa’s massive and urgent need for electrification.

drawing“Through this unique facility, we hope to encourage innovation and support companies in their efforts to deliver power to places that desperately need it. Last year we received a total of 55 submissions from 18 countries across Africa, including solar, wind, hydro, hybrid and bio-mass projects. The applications are coming in fast so 2016 looks set to build on that success.”

The inaugural ACF in 2015 was won by Quaint Solar Energy from Nigeria and Flatbush Solar from Cameroon. Other competing projects hailed from Cape Verde, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania.

One project has already pre-qualified for ACF2016. A 25MW solar project being developed in Sierra Leone by Africa Growth and Energy Solutions (AGES) won the Solar Shark Tank competition at the Making Solar Bankable conference in Amsterdam on 18th February. In a keenly fought contest, three emerging markets developers competed for a US$100,000 grant to support the development of their solar projects, funded by Access Power and Dutch development bank FMO. Part of the prize, subject to terms and conditions, was pre-qualification for ACF2016.

  • The independent judging panel of four judges will include industry and legal experts as well as representatives from multilateral development banks.

 

  • Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges at the Africa Energy Forum in London on the 22nd June 2016.
  • Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the Forum within a given time and take questions from panel members.
  • Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
  • ACF 2016 submission period runs from 18th February to 20th May, 2016.

Access Power (‘Access’)  was founded in 2012 with the aim of becoming a leading developer, owner and operator of power assets in emerging and frontier markets.  Access has assembled a development team with a track record of financially closing ~30 GW of power projects across the globe.  Through its various subsidiaries, Access is currently developing power assets in over 20 countries in Africa and Asia. Access’ portfolio predominantly consists of renewable energy projects with a gross total investment cost of over US$ 1 billion.

*APO

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Cameroonian – American Teen Accepted to Nine Prestigious Colleges
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments
A big feat for Niven Achenjang with acceptance into all 9 prestigious colleges he applied to

A big feat for Niven Achenjang with acceptance into all 9 prestigious colleges he applied to

A local senior, Niven Achenjang of Knox Central High and The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Bowling Green, Kentucky has been accepted into all 9 prestigious colleges he applied to. The humble dual student, gives credit to his teachers, school mates and guidance counsellors at Knox Central and The Gatton Academy as well as his extended family, siblings, friends and St. Gregory church Barbourville for earning his way to this moment.

Niven Achenjang who was recently named a National Merit Finalist by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation received the coveted YES, Congratulations and admission offers from Western Kentucky University, Stanford University, University of Kentucky, (these three under the Early Action program), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Vanderbilt University-TN, California Institute of Technology-Caltech, Georgia Institute of Technology-GeorgiaTech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology-MIT and Harvard College. Rejection letters can worsen what many seniors and their parents consider as a stressful and frustrating college process, but hard work pays and hopefully future seniors would be inspired by this story.

Niven smiles as he quips praising the Lord and adding that he must have something that the highly competitive/selective schools see as being of value in him. May that be true and may I not fail my friends, family, school district and myself as I look forward to define my place in the world and in what the future holds. Mr. Results driven Niven, plans to major in Math and Computer Science technically called Mathematical and Computational Science, with specialization in Software Engineering at Stanford.

Asked why he selected Stanford, he said, he planned on studying computer science and researching in the field adding that it was his understanding that Stanford has one of the top CS programs in the nation. He just returned from the admit weekend visit at Stanford and recalls that he came across satisfied that Stanford offers a flexible curriculum in many subject areas, with a diverse student body, culturally and intellectually. Being a part of Stanford, I believe, will be challenging and help me grow as I am surrounded by people different than me. Stanford also has great weather, many nice places for outdoor activities (running, hiking, etc.), and connections to many big name companies.

Asked what inspires him most, he revealed that he was probably most inspired by impactful ends. When I find something new, he continues, I try to think about what it could lead into and what that could mean for me, the people around me, and the world at large. The dream of being a part of something that has a long lasting effect (on mankind?) is what inspires me to take the steps to achieve that end.

On whether, he felt Knox Central/Knox County had helped him grow, he answered in the affirmative. Definitely, he said, I have been in Knox County for most of my life. It is where I was raised for the most part, and it is where I had the experiences that have made me who I am. If it were not for all the support and advice from family, friends, teachers, and members of the community I have come to know; for all the good times I have had with them; and for all the times I have messed up and been steered right by one of them, I would not have been able to accomplish what I have. For this and more I am grateful to them and thankful to God

Finally, on how he felt looking back on his work and accomplishments, he said, I feel proud. Not only proud of what I have done, but proud of the fact that I did not do it alone. I am elated that I have been able to meet and befriend people who have been willing to help me along the way as I have gone through life.

Niven’s hobbies include track and field, cross country, frisbee, and community involvement.

*Previously published as a Special for The Times Tribune of KY, with caption KNOX COUNTY TEEN ACCEPTED BY TOP COMPETITIVE COLLEGES TO THE CLASS OF 2020!

 

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NIGER NEEDS $1 BILLION FROM EUROPE TO TACKLE MIGRATION: MINISTER
May 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY *

People look for drinking water in the Assaga refugee camp in southeast Niger, September 16, 2015. The camp was established by the U.N. to host Nigerians fleeing from violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

People look for drinking water in the Assaga refugee camp in southeast Niger, September 16, 2015. The camp was established by the U.N. to host Nigerians fleeing from violence perpetrated by Boko Haram.
BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Niger says it needs 1 billion euros ($1.15 billion) in funding to stem the flow of hundreds of thousands of West African migrants en route to Europe.

The West African country—ranked by the United Nations as having the worst living conditions in the world—is part of a major transit route for African migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean and enter Europe. Between 120,000 and 150,000 migrants and refugees will pass through Niger in 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), most of whom will come from other West African states and travel onwards to Algeria and Libya, from where many willattempt the perilous sea crossing into Europe. Almost 29,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Europe by crossing the Mediterranean in 2016, with people from Nigeria, Gambia and Senegal making up the highest proportions.

“Niger needs a billion euros to fight against clandestine migration,” said the country’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Yacoubou at a press conference on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Yacoubou was speaking alongside the French and German foreign ministers, Jean-Marc Ayrault and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who were visiting Niger to discuss several issues including migration and extremism. “We’ve solicited the help of the European Union, France and Germany. We want to protect legal migration against clandestine migration,” said Yacoubou.

More than 33,000 migrants and refugees have been recorded as leaving Niger since February, according to the IOM’s latest weekly report on migration trends in the country. Some 13,000 have been recorded as entering Niger during the same period, many of whom are likely to be in transit to another country. An IOM office was established in Agadez, central Niger, in April, with funding from the EU and the U.K., in order to provide information and counselling to migrants leaving and returning to Niger.

Niger, a vast and arid country in the center of Africa’s Sahel region, borders Libya to the north, Mali to the west and Nigeria to the south. All three countries are struggling to contain radical militant groups—Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali and a number of extremist groups, including an affiliate of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), in Libya. Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou has made tackling the Boko Haram threat in particular a key priority, contributing troops to a multinational regional task force aimed at ending the Nigerian group’s insurgency.

French minister Ayrault said that he was struck by “the energy Niger has deployed in the fight against terrorism and migration” during the European ministers’ visit, which also included a stay in Mali. The European Union signed off on 1.15 billion euros ($1.32 billion) in funding for the West African region as a whole in July 2015, part of which was supposed to go towards tackling migration and which is supposed to run until 2020

*Source Newsweek

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Nigeria officials ‘stole $15bn’ from anti-Boko Haram fight
May 4, 2016 | 0 Comments
Mr Osinbajo says the culture of stealing public funds has to stop

Mr Osinbajo says the culture of stealing public funds has to stop

About $15bn (£10bn) was stolen from the fight against militant Islamists in Nigeria under the previous government, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said.

The money was diverted through fraudulent arms contracts, he added.

Several allies of ex-President Goodluck have been put on trial after being accused of awarding fake arms contracts worth $2bn. They deny any wrongdoing.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to office last year, has vowed to fight corruption and recover “stolen funds”.

Those facing charges included former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, ex-military chiefs and several contractors. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Speaking at a university in the south-western city of Ibadan, Mr Osinbajo said the amount stolen was more than half of Nigeria’s current foreign exchange reserves of $27bn.

“It is important to send a message that no public officer can steal the resources of this country and expect to escape,” he said.

Africa’s largest economy and oil exporter has been hit hard by the global slump in crude prices.

It is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with two-thirds of the country’s 36 states struggling to pay salaries to workers.

Speaking at a university in the south-western city of Ibadan, Mr Osinbajo said the amount stolen was more than half of Nigeria’s current foreign exchange reserves of $27bn.

“It is important to send a message that no public officer can steal the resources of this country and expect to escape,” he said.

Africa’s largest economy and oil exporter has been hit hard by the global slump in crude prices.

Heavily armed militants have caused widespread destruction in north-eastern Nigeria

Heavily armed militants have caused widespread destruction in north-eastern Nigeria

It is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with two-thirds of the country’s 36 states struggling to pay salaries to workers.

The government says it inherited an “empty treasury” when it took office last year.

Mr Buhari’s political opponents accuse him of waging a witch-hunt against the previous administration.

During Mr Jonathan’s rule, soldiers complained that despite the military’s huge budget, they were ill-equipped to take on militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

The insurgents have killed thousands in north-eastern Nigeria in their campaign, launched in 2009, to create an Islamic state.

Mr Jonathan ruled Nigeria from 2010 to 2015.

*Source BBC

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‘Rumba king’ Papa Wemba posthumously decorated in DR Congo
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments
Fans of late Congolese rumba star Papa Wemba wait outside Ndjili airport during the repatriation of his body, in Kinshasa on April 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/Junior Kannah)

Fans of late Congolese rumba star Papa Wemba wait outside Ndjili airport during the repatriation of his body, in Kinshasa on April 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/Junior Kannah)

Kinshasa (AFP) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s rumba king Papa Wemba was posthumously awarded one of his country’s highest honours on Monday, a week after he collapsed on stage and died aged 66.

At a ceremony in the national parliament in Kinshasa, where Papa Wemba’s body lay in state, Congo’s President Joseph Kabila made the singer a grand officer of the Order of National Heros Kabila-Lumumba for “the merits, the loyal and eminent services rendered to the Congolese nation”.

Papa Wemba collapsed while performing at a festival in Ivory Coast on April 24. The flamboyant musician, who led the Kinshasa music scene for four decades, died before reaching hospital.

An enormous red hat, modelled on the one the renowned sharp dresser was wearing at the time of his death, served as the roof of the chapel erected to house his coffin inside parliament.

A life-sized effigy of the singer, dressed as he during his last concert, stood behind it.

“Papa Wemba, the Congo orphaned,” read a giant banner at the entrance to the building, where the funeral procession arrived early in the morning to be welcomed by the city governor and the military band of the Republican Guard.

A Roman Catholic priest accompanied the coffin, which was carried by eight men in black and draped in the national flag.

“This is great suffering and sadness,” said Biby Krubwa, who starred alongside Papa Wemba in a 1988 film, ‘La Vie est Belle’ (‘Life is Rosy’) about an aspiring singer who comes to Kinshasa. “Papa Wemba is a baobab that has fallen.”

Jean Misha Mulongo, a childhood friend of Papa Wemba who flew in from his home in the US city of Atlanta for his funeral, hailed the musician as a man of the people who “came to earth to give pleasure”.

A father of six, Papa Wemba helped to pioneer a blend of Congolese popular music with electric rock during the 1980s, when an interest in world music stirred in Western countries.

He is due to be laid to rest in a cemetery on the outskirts of Kinshasa on Wednesday.

*AFP/Yahoo

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Carlos Lopes: To industrialise, Africa needs strong but smart states
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

“Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas…Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.”

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Credit: UNECA.

Credit: UNECA.

African Arguments caught up with the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Director to talk about economic transformation, what’s holding the continent back, and whether leaders will really take action in the wake of the #PanamaPapers.

In a lot of your work, you emphasise the need for Africa to undergo ‘structural transformation’. What does this mean, and why is industrialisation so important to it?

There is a whole literature about structural transformation, but in practical terms right now in Africa it means moving to higher productivity sectors. We see this happening in three particular areas. Firstly, there’s agricultural productivity, which is at its lowest in Africa yet offers incredible potential for minimising poverty and contributing to industrialisation through agro-processing. Secondly, there’s manufacturing, which requires policies that mimic part of the experience of successful industrialisation processes of the past but are much more adapted to African characteristics. And thirdly, there’s the service sector, which needs to become more integrated into the formal economy.

Industrialisation plays a critical role because it’s more than just the production of processed goods or value addition from natural resources. It’s also an enabler for a rising society and, being a latecomer, Africa can learn from the experiences of others and adjust. For Africa, issues such as the environment, for instance, can be tackled up front.

There are varying verdicts as to how African industrialisation is faring. Some emphasise that manufacturing as a share of Africa’s GDP has almost halved from its 20% level in 1970. But others highlight that manufacturing is increasing at 3.5% a year, faster than the global average. What’s your take?

If you measure it by manufacturing value added, which is the common preferred indicator, then yes it is true that in percentage GDP terms, African manufacturing is stagnating if not falling. But African economies have doubled in the last 15 years, so even if you maintain the same percentage it means a lot more industry has come on board. Moreover, this also doesn’t take into account a number of activities that we can consider industrial but aren’t counted in statistics because of delays in updating national accounts.

Our take is that industrialisation is increasing significantly in some countries, though not across the entire continent, and that we need to accelerate and aggressively.

What’s holding African industrialisation back? Is it insufficient infrastructure? Lack of imagination amongst policymakers? Trade treaties that constrain what governments are able to do?

It’s all of those but the important question is which of those comes first. I think the capacity for comprehensiveness that comes with an industrial policy is what is the most important, because if you tackle the issue from just a specific sector or enabler or dimension, you are never going to get your act together.

The countries that really move and industrialise always have the same recipe: a very strong state hand, but a state that is very smart, a state that is capable of introducing smart protectionism because crude protectionism is no longer available, a state that is capable of identifying the critical enablers like infrastructure, and a state that knows how to fund its policies whether through domestic resource mobilisation or astute borrowing.

In a recent ECA report, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Bilateral Investment Treaties and Economic Partnership Agreements are painted as significant barriers to African industrialisation. Do these agreements just need tweaking or are they inherently detrimental for Africa?

I think African countries have embarked on signing stuff they shouldn’t sign, but too bad for them. The WTO is a consensus-based mechanism that would allow for stalling, so if Africans don’t get their act together to stall the things that are bad for them, then that’s an African problem not a WTO problem.

I think Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas. They are not taking advantage of space they already have. And Africans are also distracted by negotiating bilateral trade agreements before they finalise their own. Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.

Given enormous global power imbalances, do you think it’s enough for African policymakers to just be slightly smarter and more imaginative under the current system, or do you think there needs to be more fundamental change too?

The moral and political dimension I leave for the media, NGOs, and civil society, though we should certainly give them ammunition so their claims are evidence-based. Where we can really make a difference is in deconstructing some untruths that have long been masquerading as truths. That’s why we’ve been plunging into legislative issues, contract negotiations, and investment and trade treaties to try and have a more informed discussion. We think a lot of space exists in these that Africans are not using. After all, countries that are good negotiators do get a better deal.

In terms of untruths, take this race to the bottom towards zero tax for investors for an example. Does it attract more investors in relation to potential competitors? No. Typically countries that are well organised and structured and that offer investors a package of incentives that are not tax-based are more attractive than ones offering tax incentives.

When it comes to illicit financial flows, through which $50 billion leaves Africa each year according to an ECA report, do you think leaders will seize this moment after the #PanamaPapers to implement real reforms?

There are various dimensions to the debate, but because of Mossack Fonseca we are currently focusing on one dimension: namely tax jurisdictions and how multinationals are taking advantage of different loopholes to move from one jurisdiction to another in order not to pay tax.

Another dimension, however, is the competition amongst financial centres. The City of London, for example, doesn’t want to lose its prominence as one of the leading financial centres of the world. This means that they have to stay ahead of competitors and protect a certain number of very complex legislative dimensions that will appear from a regulatory point of view to be very strong and powerful, but at the same time be lenient where they know competitors could have an edge.

There is certainly now a strong public push for regulators to put a bit of order to things. And I don’t think the rhetoric is hypocritical, but how far they will go and how much political leaders will embrace actual change is another matter.

*Source African Arguments.James Wan is the editor of African Arguments. He tweets at @jamesjwan.

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Africa needs the space to learn (and make mistakes) on its own terms
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

As Africa finds its voice after centuries of being silenced, well-intentioned outsiders must be careful to help and not hijack this moment.

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South Africans march for action against climate change in Durban. Credit: Ainhoa Goma/Oxfam.

South Africans march for action against climate change in Durban. Credit: Ainhoa Goma/Oxfam.

Just back from the Tana Forum on Peace and Security, held in the sleepy town of Bahir Dar on the shores of Ethiopia’s Lake Tana, my head churns with questions about how African debates like this should be organised.

Should they be held under a Baobab tree or in international hotels? Should they be formal or informal? Should they emulate Western or Asian styles or ignore them altogether? And ultimately, after centuries in which African voices have rarely been heard – from slavery, through colonialism, and up to the present day – who should now talk for Africa about Africa?

In a way these questions have never been more salient. After all, even looking back at the continent’s recent history, there is no shortage of examples of Africa suffering from the sharp end of foreign countries’ self-interest or misguided decisions while its own voice has been silenced.

This is true even after most countries gained independence, as the ideological rivalries of the Cold War turned Africa into a battleground for proxy wars coordinated in distant capitals, giving no room for Africa’s own interests; when structural adjustment in 1980s and 1990s was imposed heavy-handedly from the offices of the IMF and World Bank, their prescriptions ignoring the realities and resistances on the ground; and still today, as the continent is defined in the international media as Hopeless, Rising or anything in between while Africa’s own perspectives remain marginalised.

This is where the Tana Forum comes in, a rare event that is genuinely Africa-led and organised. Established to provide a space for debate about peace and security, it was set up five years ago by the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in conjunction other African leaders such as former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki.

It has been held annually since and the topic of this year’s edition was ‘Africa in the global security agenda’. Among the many speakers were the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, former president of Timor-Leste Ramon Horta who had just completed a report on peace operations around the world, and Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Also there was Wolfgang Ischinger, Chair of the Munich Security Conference, the world’s leading think tank on peace and security issues. Ischinger took to the floor to re-emphasise the strong partnership between his institution and the Tana Forum which is modelled on the Munich Security Council.

To be frank, not everyone was happy about this year’s Forum. For instance, political analyst Alex de Waal, writing here on African Arguments, expressed his view that the event has become “dull, repetitive and formal”, adding that in contrast to the first edition which was “devoted to intense, informal and candid discussion”, the 2016 event was mostly “taken up by entirely predictable speeches”.

Frank criticisms such as these are all well and good, and all new endeavours will inevitably fall short and fail to please everyone. But as we think ahead to the next conference, and in the context of Africa’s history of being marginalised in its own affairs, the important thing going forwards is that regardless of any limitations, the Tana Forum and projects like it are given the breathing space to learn on their own terms.

After centuries of being lectured, reprimanded and pressured to do things differently, it is crucial that African initiatives are able to correct their own weaknesses and learn by doing. It may take time, but patience is needed if genuinely African perspectives and models are to be built up – ones that is of Africa, by Africa and for Africa.

Across the continent, there are hopeful signs of a new and louder voice emerging as more African research institutes, think tanks and media houses provide increasingly candid reports from African viewpoints. But this newly assertive Africa, admittedly still coming of age, needs to be listened to and nurtured, even when it makes missteps and blunders.

As the continent’s economies develop, its political influence increases, and its population grows, Africa and African initiatives need to be given the breathing space to take charge of their own destinies on their own terms. This should be the new normal, the new name of the game. After over 50 years of independence, the continent is mature enough to discuss its challenges in a robust and rigorous way, and while their views are welcome, well-intentioned outsiders must be careful to help and not hijack this moment of exploration, renewal and growth.

We all, in humility, will gain by listening to what others bring to the table. As Leopold Senghor, the late poet-President of Senegal, said, we must have a “seat at the give and take table as equals”.

*Source African Arguments.Adama Gaye is a Senegalese Author, former editor of London-based West Africa Magazine. and a Tana Regional Fellow. The views expressed here are his own.

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