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Trump’s tone resonates in strongman-weary Africa
November 3, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Julian Hattem*

tumblr_inline_nz4g5wetde1tedrp5_540KAMPALA, Uganda — Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has­­ had surprising resonance in parts of Africa where people are weary of the political establishment and see the real estate mogul as a global force for change.

Despite famously pushing an “America first” foreign policy and appearing to show little interest in events outside the U.S., the Republican nominee for president is enjoying a strong amount of popularity in Uganda and other African nations a week out from Election Day.

Trump is also up against Hillary Clinton, a woman known on the international stage for more than two decades, most recently as a globetrotting secretary of State, and whose family foundation has helped to save millions from malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases — including many Africans.

Yet for many in and around this capital city, scattered across hills in the jungle of East Africa, Trump’s candidacy represents a strike against political dynasties and the established order that has kept strongmen such as their own president in power for decades. Trump’s tough rhetoric and a fake viral quote have boosted his appeal to many looking for a change.

“Trump has presented himself as a candidate that is anti-establishment, that he wants to turn around things and cause a revolution of some sort,” said Moses Khisa, a lecturer of political science at Northwestern University and columnist for a Ugandan newspaper.

Trump, Khisa said, is tapping into “the same fertile ground of disillusionment and anti-establishment sentiment” on both sides of the Atlantic.

To be sure, support for Trump is not unanimous.

One poll conducted in South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two largest economies, showed a marked distaste for Trump. According to the WIN/Gallup International Association poll, released in October, respondents in those two countries overwhelmingly preferred Clinton, 69 percent to 20.

Due to a paucity of polling, it’s difficult to get a full understanding of feelings about the presidential race across the continent. It’s also dangerous to make sweeping generalizations about the political preferences of more than 1.2 billion Africans.

Worldwide, data suggest that Clinton is the overwhelming favorite. A Pew Research Center surveyof countries in Europe and Asia found strong support for Clinton and deep distrust of Trump.

But Trump has certainly struck a chord among a sizable number of Africans, who see him as a rejection of the current system who nonetheless speaks in a recognizable vocabulary.

Last week, five activists here descended on the U.S. embassy to demonstrate in support of Trump, waving misspelled signs and hoping to gather media attention. Two were arrested and later charged with failing to give proper notice about their plans.

“Among the candidates for the presidents of America, he’s the only man who says that once he becomes the president of America, he will fight the dictators — all African dictators including Museveni,” one of the activists, Kizza Hakim, told a local TV station, referring to Uganda’s 72-year-old President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni has been in power since 1986, after helping to topple dictator Idi Amin, and has shown an increasingly autocratic bent in recent years.

Hakim appeared to be referring to a fake Trump quote that has circulated around East Africa, in which he supposedly promised to not “condone any dictatorial tendencies exhibited by dictators around the world, especially the two old men from Zimbabwe and Uganda.”

“[Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe and Museveni must be put on notice that their days are numbered and that I am going to arrest them and lock them in prison,” Trump is falsely quoted as saying. “If the past American administrations have failed to stop these two despots, I will personally do it.”

A Trump campaign spokeswoman confirmed that the quote is false.

However, it was nonetheless briefly picked up by media around the continent earlier this year and forced a retort from Museveni. Trump “has got enough work to do in U.S.,” the Ugandan president said, noting rates of American gun violence.

 

Those who speak highly of Trump in Africa describe the GOP nominee as an outsider willing to speak truth to power.

“Above all, his willingness to disregard political correctness makes the supporters feel he’s saying exactly what they really feel about issues, but they’re afraid to say it in public. In a way, he represents their hopes, fears and frustrations,” Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi, a columnist in Ghana, wroteearlier this year.

“Isn’t he the kind of person we need desperately in Ghanaian politics right now?”

Clinton, meanwhile, is seen by some as part of the political establishment that has helped run the U.S. for the last two decades.

 

Despite being of Kenyan heritage, President Obama’s legacy in Africa is somewhat mixed, especially when compared to former President George W. Bush’s aggressive efforts to combat HIV/AIDS through the PEPFAR program. Clinton’s association with Obama’s administration hasn’t made her universally adored across Africa.

Trump also embodies many of the “big man” stereotypes that have permeated African cultures.

“For me, as an African, there’s just something familiar about Trump that makes me feel at home,” “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, a South African native, quipped last October.

“Trump is basically the perfect African president.”

Throughout the campaign, Trump has railed on issues of globalization, China’s rising status, political cronyism and depressed economic opportunities. Many of those sentiments hit home in African countries that feel at the mercy of foreign powers, just as they do in parts of Europe that have experienced their own nationalist movements.

“One of the things that perhaps is a little bit of a paradox is that African populations often feel that their countries are slightly exploited by the West, therefore they support leaders domestically that stand up to people,” said Nic Cheeseman, a professor of politics and African studies at the University of Oxford. “And I think they may be looking to see someone like Trump and think that Trump is also trying to do the same thing for his country.”

“When Trump says he’s going to put some of those forces back in the box — even though he’s not talking about Africa, he’s talking about America — I think some of the African audiences hearing that would see a connection to their own battle against globalization, against multinationals,” he added.

*The Hill

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ICC gets support after 3 withdrawals, but Kenya is critical
November 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY EDITH M. LEDERER*

FILE - Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, second right, talks to his defense team when appearing before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Oct. 8, 2014.

FILE – Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, second right, talks to his defense team when appearing before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Oct. 8, 2014.

Many countries pledged support for the International Criminal Court on Monday following the announced withdrawal by three African nations, but Kenya, which the tribunal is investigating, was sharply critical and questioned its long-term survival.

Many in the General Assembly called for talks between the ICC and the African Union in hopes of addressing the continent’s concerns and reversing the decisions to leave by Burundi, South Africa and Gambia.

Kenyan Ambassador Tom Amolo didn’t say whether his country would also leave, but he told the 193-member world body that his country was monitoring the withdrawals “with very keen interest.”

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, as well as Senegal, the first country to ratify the Rome Statute that established the court, and Tanzania reiterated their support for the ICC, stressing the court’s importance in combatting impunity for the world’s most atrocious crimes, including genocide.

The ICC has been accused of bias by some African leaders because since the Rome treaty came into force in 2002, only four people have been convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Three were from Congo and one from Mali. So far, it has indicted only suspects from Africa, and of the 10 full-scale investigations currently underway, nine are in Africa and only one elsewhere — in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

But the ICC is expanding its global reach. It is currently conducting 10 so-called preliminary examinations — probes to establish whether to open a full investigation — in countries including Afghanistan, Ukraine and Colombia, as well as the Palestinian territories and alleged crimes by British forces in Iraq.

ICC President Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, presenting the court’s annual report to the assembly, said two trials are under way and another is set to start soon. And following convictions, she said, proceedings for reparations for victims are under way in four cases.

But Kenya’s Amolo called the ICC’s “dismal output of tangible results … disheartening and simply confounding.”

He accused the court of having lower standards than national courts and warned that “something radical and urgent must be done if this court is to stand any chance of long-term survival as a viable and credible international institution.”

The ICC indicted Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on charges of crimes against humanity for 2007 post-election violence in which more than 1,000 died. The case collapsed because of what the ICC prosecutor called threats to witnesses, bribery and lack of cooperation by Kenya’s government, but it remains open.

Amolo said African countries “have tried to engage constructively” with the ICC with little success.

Tanzania’s U.N. Ambassador Tuvako Manongi said the court’s “particularly tumultuous relationship with Africa … has engendered fear of an African exodus from the court.”

But he said “that need not be the case,” pointing to the African Union’s commitment to justice and the rule of law.

Manongi called for “confidence building measures” on how the ICC functions and interacts with the 124 countries that have ratified the Rome Statute.

“All too often avoidable misunderstandings, when left unattended or dismissed as inconsequential, grow into regrettable outcomes,” he said. “Lectures and claims of high moral ground from outside the continent are unhelpful.”

Senegal’s Minister Counsellor Abdoulaye Barro called for dialogue and expressed hope “that a consensus can be found so that Africa will continue to play a major role in the fight against impunity.”

New Zealand’s U.N. Ambassador Gerard von Bohemen said “better engagement” with the AU and African nations is needed. And he expressed hope that in the coming year, before the withdrawals take effect, “there is room for meaningful dialogue on a potential resolution and to provide for a pathway back to the court.”

“At the same time, we must not panic,” von Bohemen said. “We need to take the challenges seriously and recognize the political realities in which the court operates … and we will need a diplomatic process to address the challenges it is now facing.”

Joao Vale de Almeida, the European Union’s U.N. envoy, put the challenge succinctly: “The world needs the ICC, and the ICC needs all countries to support it.”

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U.S. tech firms turn to Africa-based developers
November 1, 2016 | 0 Comments
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg visits the Andela offices in Lagos, Nigeria. (Photo: Lex Ash)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg visits the Andela offices in Lagos, Nigeria.
(Photo: Lex Ash)

Tech companies founded in the United States are setting up software development centers in Nigeria and Kenya, where a number of young developers has led to growing tech communities.

Microsoft has launched its Microsoft 4 Afrika initiative, aiming to help empower African youth, entrepreneurs, developers and others to make their ideas a reality. Steve Case, the AOL founder, and his wife Jean, Generation Investment Management and Sir Richard Branson have provided $19 million to Kenyan pay-as-you-go energy start-up M-KOPA Solar.

Andela, which has attracted $24 million of funding from a scheme led by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, says it has screened more than 40,000 applicants across Africa over two years and accepted the top 0.7% to work at its bases in Lagos and Nairobi. The developers write code and specialize in frameworks such as Python/Django, iOS and Android and PHP/Laravel.

Andela picked Lagos and Nairobi as bases because of the interest in technology among young people, a buzzing tech sector and the fact English is spoken in both countries. The firm said it intends to announce a third country by the end of the year.

New York-based Christina Sass, who co-founded Andela with Jeremy Johnson, Ian Carnevale and Iyinoluwa Aboyeji  in May 2014, told USA TODAY they wanted the young people to have global exposure but to remain at home to keep talent there — “the obvious answer was software development.”

The ultimate goal is for Andela alumni to lead the spread of technology across the continent, and Andela’s founders expect them to start their own social businesses and to be chief technology officers and product managers.

These coders also could fill what U.S. tech companies say is a shortage of qualified engineers — a claim that’s been contested by some advocates for U.S. tech workers

Jonathan Godfrey, vice president for public policy and public affairs at Washington-based The App Association, which represents more than 5,000 app companies, said there’s a “drastic shortage” of software developers across the United States.

“This is felt in companies large and small and in communities of every size across the country,” he said. “Start-ups find their path to growth are blocked if they cannot hire talented developers. This is a problem of critical importance to the entire tech industry.”

However, some studies suggest there is no shortage in skilled STEM programmers. Hal Salzman, a professor at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, said “the supply of graduates is substantially larger than the demand for them in industry” in computer science and engineering, the Los Angeles Times reported.

With Andela scheduled to open another center in Africa soon, more software development is expected in English-speaking parts of the continent.

“We live in a world where talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not. Andela’s mission is the close that gap,” said Zuckerberg in a statement.

Innocent Amadi, 24, joined Andela in June this year and has dealt with two projects from inception to completion.

“It’s just amazing,” Amadi, from Imo State in eastern Nigeria, said of his experience. He met Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg when he visited Andela’s offices in Nigeria this year and told them how he started.

“We see that everything is possible — it depends on what you believe in and what you do,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from.”

In the future, Amadi said he wants to tackle education problems in Africa, giving more people access to education.

Blessing Ebowe, an Andela fellow from Benin City in southern Nigeria, said she didn’t know much about programming when a friend told her about Andela. She applied and joined last year.

“Nigerian developers now understand that the world is watching and are therefore putting more effort, time, hard work and passion into what was on ground before,” she said, adding that it would give Nigerian developers an edge in the worldwide tech industry and increase investment locally.

Seni Sulyman, Andela’s director of operations in Nigeria, said in his vision for Nigeria’s tech future, he expects to see a lot of innovation from “unexpected pockets” in the country.

He said three key challenges the country’s tech industry faces are a lack of affordable infrastructure — especially electricity, Internet and real estate — low access to funds and a dearth of experienced tech entrepreneurs.

“Despite these challenges, Andela is already driving change by connecting local talent into the global technology ecosystem, and we aspire to eventually mobilize hundreds of thousands of developers across Africa,” he said.

He said Zuckerberg’s visit “reinforces not only his support of Andela’s mission, but his belief that indeed the next generation of great technology leaders will come out of Lagos, Nairobi and cities across Africa.”

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Expect Broader Engagement with Africa in Clinton Administration-Policy Experts
October 31, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

fb_img_1477849664895Restive Africans are getting assurances that it will not be business as usual with the continent, should democratic candidate Hillary Clinton succeed President Barack Obama as the next U.S President.

At a recent meeting organized by the Africa Coalition for Hillary at The Elliott School of International Studies at George Washington University in Washington, DC, Senior policy advisers indicated that as President, Hillary Clinton will build and expand on successes and programs initiated by the Obama Administration while seeking to expand areas of cooperation.

Amb. Michelle Gavin, former U.S. Ambassador to Botswana and Representative to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Former Special Assistant to President Obama and Former Senior Director for Africa at the NSC who  advises HFA on African Affairs; Nicole Wilett–Jensen, former NSC Director for African Affairs and who advises HFA on African Affairs; Witney Schneidman, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Amb. Robin Sanders, CEO, FEEEDS, Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and Congo; Amb. Omar Arouna, Former Ambassador of Benin to the U.S., Co-Chair of the African Coalition for Hillary and Ms. Semhar Araia, a diaspora women White House Champion and CEO, Semai Consulting, engaged the audience of some 100 people in a spirited exchange on the stakes for Africa in the upcoming elections and why the African Diaspora must throw its weight behind Clinton.

“This event serves as a platform to inform and educate the diaspora on Sec. Clinton’s record on Africa, propose new policies and encourage Africans to get out the vote,” said Angelle Kwemo, a Cameroonian born policy advocate, CEO of Believe in Africa, and Co-Chair of Executive Women for Hillary (DMV) and founder of the African Coalition for Hillary.

“We live in a democracy – that obviously and unfortunately can produce candidates with divisive views-, and we need to play our part. At the end of the day, if Africans are not at the table, we will surely be on the menu,” Angelle Kwemo said in weighing the stakes for Africa.

14729289_584763751731064_6199042307301853208_nDiscussions were anchored around the results of a survey carried out by Believe in Africa, a diaspora organization Kwemo launched in 2014 to promote African solutions to African problems, on African priorities for the next U.S. Administration. The survey ranked democracy, trade and development, job creation, youth and women empowerment as the top areas Africans will love to see more engagement in.

Summing up some of the successes registered by the Obama Administration, Amb Michelle Gavin who planned the first White House African diaspora meeting, and Wilett–Jensen cited the Commerce Department Doing Business in Africa (DBIA), the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI),the African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) ,Feed the Future, Power Africa and other successful initiatives that the next administration could build on.

Participants agreed on the need for the next U.S Administration to work with African leaders in building structures that will facilitate orderly transfer of power through credible electoral processes which will see the emergence of leaders with a healthy dose of legitimacy. In doing so, the U.S must avoid a one-policy-fit -all solution , Ambassador Omar Arouna cautioned. Arouna opined that engagement of the U.S. with Africa on promoting peace and democracy could be more effective with a country specific approach that takes into consideration existing realities.

On combatting corruption, African countries will need to do their part by building strong institutions and strengthening the rule of law said Witney Schneidman. Amb Sanders indicated that Hillary’s campaign was aware of the need to include the African Diaspora and small and medium size to participate in future high profile forums like the US-Africa leaders’ Summit.

14516487_584763571731082_7202102399667156912_nSteve Lande, from Manchester Trade went a step further by calling for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council on Africa to have African diaspora and SME initiatives. The Panel agreed that the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) regime started by Bill Clinton needs to be uplifted while individual African beneficiary countries need to define their own AGOA strategy to effectively take advantage of the program.

Lande noted that the AGOA policy should enable beneficiary countries to leverage their agricultural potentials and be able to export agricultural products in the U.S. market.  AGOA at this point mainly supports the U.S, textile industry. Lande noted that a new initiative needs to be launched to accelerate African regional integration, currently undermined by European Union Economic Partnership Agreements. He also expounded on the role of manufacturing in the growth of African economy, urging the incoming administration of Secretary Clinton to enhance AGOA to include an investment fund that would extend capital investments to small and medium enterprises, a critical barrier to full realization of the good intentions embedded in the initiative.

fb_img_1477849623712Africans attending the meeting expressed their appreciation to the African Coalition For Hillary for offering a platform to facilitate dialogue with Africans. Agnes Nabasirye, a diaspora member from Uganda, recognized the role of the coalition in bringing Africans in the diaspora together, on African issues. She mentioned that there was an expressed interest among Africans present to proactively seek input from African minds and leaders to add the voice of the diaspora to  formulating US policy on Africa .

In closing remarks, Angelle Kwemo invited the community to exercise their right and be responsible citizens. “We cannot stay on side line and expect the new administration to respond to our need”. “Hillary Clinton record shows that she is with Africa. We need to help her get elected, help her shape a new Africa policy and hold her accountable,” Kwemo said.

fb_img_1477849518005The African Coalition For Hillary (AC4H) is a coalition of leaders of African descent, policy experts, professionals, youth and civil society organizations supporting Hillary Clinton in her mission of becoming the first woman President of the United States. Initiated by Angelle Kwemo, it has as co-chairs Amb. Omar Arouna, Witney Schneidman, Dorinda White, Marilyn Sephocle, Steve Lande, Sarian Bouma and Philomena Desmond.

 

 

 

 

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ICC’s toughest trial: Africa vs. ‘Infamous Caucasian Court’
October 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

Criticising Hague-based institution for perceived anti-African bias has long been a favourite pastime for many African leaders

* South African move paves way for ICC exodus

* Gambia rails against ‘persecution of Africans’

* Uganda pushing for AU motion to quit court

* ICC prosecutor admits departures a ‘challenge’

By Ed Cropley*

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, speaking in Kampala

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, speaking in Kampala

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 28 (Reuters) – South Africa and Burundi’s decision to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC) and an attack by Gambia against its supposed ‘Caucasian’ justice are likely to embolden other African states to leave the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal.

Although criticising the Hague-based institution for perceived anti-African bias has long been a favourite pastime for many African leaders, in most cases it amounted to pandering to a domestic audience without much real intent.

That has now changed, with the precedent established of local politics justifying actual withdrawal.

With South Africa – a continental heavyweight and key backer of the ICC in the late 1990s – making clear it could no longer tolerate the court’s denial of immunity to sitting leaders, the departure gates have been flung open.

All eyes are now on Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the ICC’s chief tormentor who made history in 2013 by becoming the first sitting head of state to appear before the court, on charges of crimes against humanity.

The case relating to Kenyatta’s alleged role in post-election violence in 2008 in which at least 1,200 people died collapsed in 2014 for lack of evidence.

But in January this year, with charges still hanging over his deputy, William Ruto, Kenyatta took to the floor at the African Union (AU) to call for a “roadmap for withdrawal” for Africa’s 34 ICC members.

Supporting South Africa’s subsequent stance, Kenyatta took aim in particular at Article 27 of the ICC’s 1998 Rome Statute which affirms the “irrelevance of official capacity” – in other words, nobody, no matter how powerful, is above the law.

Kenyatta, who faces another election next year, then played the global security card, saying this compromised Kenya’s ability to fight Islamist militancy, a genuine concern in the wake of a major attack in 2013 on Nairobi’s Westgate mall.

“We’ve had to contend with the ICC pursuing weak, politicised cases. This has become a huge distraction from our duty serve our people and this continent fully. That is not what Kenya signed up for when we joined the ICC,” he said.

“USELESS PEOPLE”

Kenya’s parliament has passed two resolutions since 2010 calling for withdrawal, but government spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the cabinet was still deciding – in the wake of South Africa’s move – whether to go ahead.

“It is accurate to say that a decision of the executive is pending,” he said.

Neighbouring Uganda, whose President Yoweri Museveni labelled the ICC “a bunch of useless people” at his inauguration in July, is already shaping up for a fresh push at the next AU summit in January for an African exodus.

“The ICC deserves what’s happening to it now,” junior foreign affairs minister Okello Oryem said.

“Our argument has always been that there’s a need for the whole of Africa to withdraw from the ICC. We hope that matter will come up at the next AU summit and then we’ll be able to pronounce ourselves.”

RUNNING FOR COVER?

Most worrying for the ICC, which has been fighting to counter the allegations of anti-African bias and ‘neo-colonialism’, is that local or regional politics stood behind the three recent decisions to pull out.

Although Gambia, which derided the ICC as the ‘Infamous Caucasian Court’, does not yet appear to have sent its formal divorce papers, President Yahya Jammeh, who has been accused of serial rights abuses since seizing power in a 1994 coup, is unlikely to back off ahead of an election in December.

While also citing ICC neo-colonialism, Burundi’s move followed the ICC’s opening of an initial probe into the rape, torture and murder of hundreds of people during an 18-month political crisis.

South Africa’s decision can be traced back to visit a year ago by Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir when Pretoria flouted its obligations to arrest him under an ICC warrant for alleged war crimes.

It even violated a domestic court order in allowing Bashir to leave, a clear demonstration of the shift in Pretoria’s foreign policy under President Jacob Zuma from the international idealism of Nelson Mandela to plain African realism.

The ICC admits it is rattled but is determined to keep going, and in particular to counter the allegations of anti-African bias.

“We must remain strong,” chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian, told reporters in The Hague this week. “This is a challenge we see now. We will see it more. It is not going to go away.”

To date, all but one of the court’s 10 investigations have been in Africa and its five convicted suspects are from Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Mali.

However, it argues that many of these cases were brought by African governments themselves, not outsiders, and that it has 10 preliminary investigations into alleged atrocities elsewhere in the world, including in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, the Palestinian Territories and Ukraine.

“Even if half the African countries leave, it would be very unfortunate and damaging to the concept of international justice but it won’t shut the court down,” one ICC official, who did not want to be named, told Reuters.

“This was bound to happen when dictators – for the most part that’s what they are – decide to run for cover.”

*Reuters

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$32 billion trans-African highway network proposed
October 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

tomtom-trans-african-highway-680x365The African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union (AU) and the
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) are working
together to plan the development of a trans-African highway network,
according to information revealed by the Corporate Council on Africa
(CCA).
According to CCA’s projects in the pipeline initiative, although the
corridors largely remain unconnected to one another, planners estimate
that about 7,000 km of added roadways and 10,000 km of added railways
will be needed to complete the highway network at a total cost of
roughly $32 billion.

 

The project is to be showcased at the  Corporate Council on Africa’s 2016 U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Conference on Building Blue Economies in October 16 to 18, 2016 in  New Orleans, Los Angeles.

 

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Reporting Africa conference to explore how African media portrays continent
October 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

 

Eric Chinje

Eric Chinje

The African Media Initiative (AMI) will on 10 to 11 November 2016 host the Reporting Africa conference 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya in a bid to explore how  African media covers the continent beyond national borders.

According to Eric Chinje, AMI CEO, the conference will also explore how international media portrays the continent.

The conference will also focus on findings of a research that AMI has carried out on coverage of issues affecting the African continent.

Chinje said that his organisation has made plans for the forthcoming discussion to be graced by some of the top editors from all the 54 African countries.

This is also expected to facilitate wide ranging debate and deliberations on issues related to media coverage of the continent.

This is also expected to chart a new way forward for media organisations in Africa to play a more positive role in the continent’s development agenda.

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In Celebration of 10th Anniversary X-Maleya heads to U.S for Dream Tour
October 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

x-maleya-fillmore-latestX-Maleya, one of Africa’s hottest boys band is kicking off celebrations for its 10th anniversary in style with a U.S Dream Tour. The Group whose origins are from the Central African Country of Cameroon, will be in the USA from October 16th through November 5th. The tour which starts with a concert at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, MD, on October 16 ,will also take the group to New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston.

X-Maleya has become recognized for their unique Afro and contemporary music. They have been able to mix and match musical elements and cultural experience. The group has managed to make music that is relevant to worldwide audiences while espousing the ancestral roots of their identity and cultural experience. Through their music, the X-Maleya group proposes to their audience a mix and match of Bantu sonorities which reflect their various origins and every style of music most Americans would enjoy: soul, reggae, jazz, spirituals, blues, and electro. This mix is rooted in multiple strands of the African Diaspora.

X-Maleya has established itself as one of the true positive leaders and motivational musicians. With enough compassion, love and practical knowledge, they understand that the music they play can transform lives and better the global community. Their incredible upbeat attitude and positive energy combine to make them the Best African group.

x-maleya-son-me-samuel-etoo-2As African musical ambassadors, they understand the power they possess and responsibility entrusted to them. The group continues to inspire younger generations with music that transcends cultural and linguistic barriers to establish a communion of people from all horizons. They use their music as a tool to engage countries to work in concert towards intercultural understanding and peace.

“We are truly excited and honored to host the X-Maleya as we are applying our proven expertise in African music promotion and marketing and public relations linking musicians with audiences around the world,” reads a release from J&R Music and Arts Production, the entity facilitating the tour.

J&R Music and Arts Production is an international recognized musical marketing and promotion and public relations organization that specializes in producing international music events and programs that enhance understanding of our diverse and multicultural world through the transformative art of music. Its primary focus is to connect musicians with events and programs that engage and uplift communities at the local, national, regional and global levels. More information can be obtained from  www. Jrmusicproduction.com or

https://www.facebook.com/JRMusicproductionUSA , Contact: JR@ jrmusicproduction.com or jrmusicproduction@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

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Cameroon Deploys Navy to Seize Illegal Fishing Vessels
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

FILE - Chinese fishing trawlers anchor off the coast of Freetown, Nov. 18, 2012

FILE – Chinese fishing trawlers anchor off the coast of Freetown, Nov. 18, 2012

Cameroon has deployed its navy to seize illegal fishing vessels off the country’s southwestern coast. Tensions have risen there as local communities say foreign trawlers are fishing in protected areas and destroying resources.

Fifteen armed sailors of Cameroon’s navy search the high seas off the central African state’s Atlantic coast for illegal fishing boats scooping up large amounts of sealife for export.

Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Sone, the highest navy official in southwest Cameroon, says within two weeks the navy has seized six Chinese vessels with crews from China and Cameroon.

“The evidence was clear. These people were catching species that were prohibited within our waters,” he said. “Last night, when the maritime patrol was out there, they actually found more vessels than these ones. Just to tell you that the illegal activities in our waters is just too much and even though we are doing our best to carry out the operation, it is not enough for now.”

Dealing with foreign fishing vessels

Several countries’ coast guards in the region have struggled to respond to the dramatic increase in the number of foreign fishing vessels.

Sone says the majority of the unauthorized fishing operations in his area are Chinese. But other nationalities are also involved, including Nigerians, Ghanians and Kenyans.

Cameroon’s most senior fishery official based in the southwest, Walters Ndi, says some of the Chinese have registered under Cameroonian businesses, but refuse to respect fishing norms.

“For industrial fishing, fishing vessels are not supposed to go beyond three nautical miles from the coastal areas,” he said. “These areas are areas that the artisan fishermen can carry out their normal activities without any conflicts. These are areas for reproduction, so for sustainable management of our fishing resources, industrial fishermen are not supposed to go there because that is where we have the majority of the young fishes. It is from there that they can be able to move to the high seas for proper growth.”

Impact on local population

Limbe Association of Fisherwomen President Serah Epoule Kome says the local price of mackerel, a food staple in this area, has doubled.

“If you go to the market now, you will just see small-small fishes. That is all what you will see in the market. You will not see anything good,” said Kome.

Limbe residents told VOA that last week local fishermen beat up a group of foreign fishermen and took their equipment.

Lucie Ekema sells fish caught by local fishers.

“The Chinese people have their nets,” she said. “They will just throw something inside the sea, all the fishes will go inside the nets, even small fishes. They wreck all. But in the morning that my fisher people are going, “Look, you are seeing now?” There is no fish. How can the common man live? ”

FILE - A Russian trawler "Oleg Naïdenov", is moored in Dakar on Jan. 5, 2014. The ship was boarded after it was observed illegally fishing in Senegalese waters near the border with Guinea Bissau.

FILE – A Russian trawler “Oleg Naïdenov”, is moored in Dakar on Jan. 5, 2014. The ship was boarded after it was observed illegally fishing in Senegalese waters near the border with Guinea Bissau.

In a report released earlier this year, the Overseas Development Instituteidentified the western coast of Africa as the global “epicenter” of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Local communities are paying the price.

*VOA

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Africa: Will Rwanda Support for Kenya’s AU Chair Nominee Tip the Scales?
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

Kenya's nominee for the African Union Commission chair - Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed (file photo)

Kenya’s nominee for the African Union Commission chair – Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed (file photo)

Rwanda is supporting Kenya’s nominee for the African Union Commission chair – Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed – but it remains to be seen which way Tanzania and Uganda will lean.

Ms Mohamed was proposed for the job by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who cited her credentials in diplomacy and exemplary performance in her current docket.

She has been Kenya’s ambassador/permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, and served as the assistant secretary general and deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi.

Ms Mohamed, who will be standing against candidates from the other regional blocs, stands a better chance of election if she gets support from all EAC member states.

Elections to replace Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is stepping down after one term to prepare for a stab at the South African presidency, will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January.

On Friday, a committee to vet candidates met in Addis Ababa.

Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo told The EastAfrican that her country would support Ms Mohamed, ruling out speculation that they would front the former president of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka or former EAC secretary general Richard Sezibera.

“She is the best woman for the job, and she is very much Rwanda’s candidate. She is highly qualified, has incredible diplomatic and managerial experience, and the right heart and mind when it comes to the strategic interests of our continent, as well as Africa’s active presence on the global scene,” Ms Mushikiwabo said.

Uganda’s International Relations State Ministry Permanent Secretary James Mugume said the country was yet to decide on whom to support, but would back the candidate the region agreed on between Kenya’s Ms Mohamed and Somalia’s Fowyiso Yusuf Haji Adan.

The nomination process for the chairperson was opened afresh after the AU Heads of State Summit in Kigali in July failed to elect a successor to South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who has been at the helm since 2012. At the Kigali summit, none of the three contenders for the position – Botswana’s Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, her counterpart from Equatorial Guinea Agapito Mba Mokuy and former vice president of Uganda Specioza Wandira Kazibwe – obtained the required two-thirds majority after seven rounds of voting.

Ms Mohamed is expected to battle it out with Mr Mokuy, Somalia’s Ms Adan and the July elections lead candidate Ms Moitoi. Uganda withdrew its nomination of former vice president Specioza Kazibwe after she did not make it among the top candidates.

The SADC trade bloc, has, however, maintained that it will forward Ms Moitoi’s name because Ms Zuma did not serve her second term. Mr Mokuy had portrayed himself as the Economic Community Of West African States (Ecowas) candidate, yet it was Senegal that instigated the 28 states to boycott the elections due to lack of “high calibre” candidates.

Mr Mokuy had sought the support of Nigeria, the West African economic powerhouse, and Kenya, with a special appeal from President Theodore Obiang Nguema.

Another likely candidate is Senegalese diplomat and politician Abdoulaye Bathily, who is currently the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Central Africa.

Chad’s President Idriss Deby, who currently holds the AU rotational leadership, is also believed to have put forth the name of his Foreign Minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who served as prime minister between 2003 and 2005, and who would present a second candidate for the Central African bloc.

South Africa is said to have great influence on the SADC countries. This week, South African President Jacob Zuma will be in Nairobi for a three-day state visit, and it is expected that President Kenyatta will use the opportunity to drum up support for Ms Mohamed.

In the July elections, South Africa supported Ms Moitoi. Then South Africa’s international relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the region would campaign with Botswana, and that South Africa was fully behind the SADC initiative. They have not come up with an alternative candidate.

Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal, which led the Ecowas campaign to postpone the election, have also been pushing for a candidate.

In May, Senegal’s President Macky Sall raised concerns about the candidates with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Senegalese diplomat and politician Abdoulaye Bathily who is currently the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Central Africa was presented as a candidate at the Kigali meeting, but was turned down because the nominations had closed.

In Mr Bathily, in particular, Ms Mohammed is likely to face a veteran of African politics with working experience in West and Central Africa, one whose participation in the Pan African Movement and socialist movements left him with contacts across the continent, including liberation movements in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola and South Africa.Additional reporting by Daniel Kalinaki and Edmund Kagire.

*Allafrica/East African

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Africa Makes Progress On Trade and Economic Integration
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

Mukhisa Kituyi

Mukhisa Kituyi

Geneva — African countries are boosting intra-regional trade and deepening economic integration at a time when politicians in the global North are raising doubts about the benefits of trade, says the head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi told the World Trade Organization’s annual public forum in Geneva: “Africa is widely noted for its low levels of intra-regional trade, but in fact the levels are much higher when North Africa is removed from the analysis.”

Speaking at a session on inclusive trade at the recent forum, he said economic integration will be key to Africa’s long-term success and African nations must integrate more.

“Africa has to know that there is no part of the world which has been successful in trading globally without learning first to trade with its neighbors,” Dr. Kituyi said.

UNCTAD says that in East Africa, intra-regional trade is closer to 26 percent, the same level as in Latin America.

At the opening of the forum, Nigeria’s Trade and Investment Minister, Okechukwu E. Enelamah, presented remarks for President Muhammadu Buhari which underlined the importance of an inclusive trade agenda.

“This is a key question, particularly at this moment, when leaders are grappling with the challenge and consequences of inequality which has emerged as a major risk to peace and security,” Enelamah said.

‘Inclusive Trade’

“Nigeria believes that a meaningful approach to inclusive trade will combine action by multilateral institutions for updated and more flexible rules, on the one hand, with acceptance of responsibility for serious and sustained domestic policy reforms by member states, on the other hand.”

The minister highlighted efforts the Nigerian government has made to create an enabling environment for business, including the recent ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The TFA will significantly reduce trade costs for businesses in developing countries, particularly for SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and is also expected to help unblock logjams in intraregional trading.

Enelamah said Nigeria has also established itself as an African start-up center for high-tech firms and the WTO can be supportive on this point by developing an “unfettered” platform for the internet economy.

Meanwhile, preparations continue for the Continental Free Trade Area, bringing together more than one billion people in 54 African countries with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion.

Kituyi said the CFTA was unlikely to be launched in 2017 as originally planned, but the target had helped to move the project forward.

“I had the privilege to visit 16 African presidents to talk to them about the CFTA and I am satisfied that a large number of the political leadership believes in the future and the need for African integration.”

Change is already happening. In the space of a year, the time required to move a container from Mombasa in Kenya to Kampala in Uganda has dropped from 48 days to four. “That is progress.”

Africa’s largest economic sector, its extractive industries, has not created enough jobs on the continent. More intra-African trade will lead to fairer, more equitable, growth, and the creation of more and better jobs.

Dr. Kituyi said there are limits to regional integration, however. He noted Switzerland has prospered without joining the European Union.

And although a single African currency is politically attractive, it cannot be effective without an effective mechanism to discipline public deficits.

Despite the reservations of some politicians, trade is a powerful driver of jobs, economic growth, and achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“Trade is not just about statistics on goods and services. It is also about people,” Kituyi said. “And for me, trade integration is most exciting whenever it creates more jobs.”

At the forum the WTO launched a new publication entitled “African Perspectives on Trade and the WTO.”

The book – co-published by the WTO and Cambridge University Press – examines how enhanced participation in world trade could help Africa achieve further growth and emphasizes the need for the continent to undertake structural reforms to underpin its economic transformation.

*Allafrica

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Africa: U.S. Elections 2016: the View from Africa
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Chelsea Markowitz*

An unusually controversial election

second-presidential-debate-12This year, an elevated level of press has surrounded the upcoming US general elections on 8 November, primarily because of the erratic and often offensive statements made by businessman and Republican nominee Donald Trump.

This past week, a tape from 2005 surfaced revealing Trump speaking vulgarly about women, and it has now even begun to alienate his own party support. For Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton, the revelations over her private email server while she was still Secretary of State, and the allegations that certain countries received high-level access to her by making donations to the Clinton Foundation, have also added to the media hype.

This year’s elections have come down to the wire, with polls showing both candidates neck and neck, making ‘swing states’, which historically have switched between voting Democrat and Republican, crucially important. This year, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are crucial swing states, both because of their high number of electoral votes and undecided populations.

The debates provide the first head-to-head comparison of the two candidates’ policies, whereas much of the electoral campaign thus far has focused on ethics and personal attacks. Hot topics for this year’s debates include: fighting terrorism, immigration reform, police violence, and economic policy (taxes, free trade agreements and employment creation).

First Debates: Implications for Africa

Monday 26 September marked the first presidential debate, and Sunday 3 October the second. In the first presidential debate, the broad consensus was that Hilary Clinton fared better. She exuded a sense of ease and preparation, while Trump appeared to be flustered by her personal attacks, which put him on the defensive rather than his usual confident offensive.

In second presidential debate, the outcome was decidedly opposite. Trump excelled with calmly executed one-liner attacks, but pundits still questioned whether he did enough to sway needed independent voters.

Winners and losers aside, the policy implications of the presidential debate in particular are important to note. Though neither Trump nor Clinton mentioned any African countries, a few key policy implications can be extrapolated from their discussions and the positions they have taken on the campaign trail.

Free Trade Agreements: Not really keen on ‘free’ or ‘a call for modern day protectionism’

When the candidates were asked how they propose to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, the debate quickly spiralled into a clash on free trade agreements. Trump echoed his frequent condemnation of jobs leaving America for countries like China and Mexico, which he blamed on agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Clinton voted in favour of.

Negotiations for a SACU-US free trade agreement under a Trump presidency, which must start soon given that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is set to expire in 2025, will be even more difficult than usual, if they even start at all.

This is significant, as trade with the US was USD$12.7 billion in 2015. AGOA has created approximately 60,000 jobs for South Africans in labour-intensive industries such as agriculture and automotives. Failing to negotiate a new trade agreement post-AGOA will almost certainly reduce South Africa’s exports to the US, which totalled USD$896 million in 2016 (YTD June). Additionally, for fellow SACU member Lesotho, AGOA has provided a sizeable boost to the garment and textile industry, providing exports worth USD$300 million in 2015. This number is significant for such a small country, and approximately 3% of the labour force is engaged in the manufacture of textiles and garments exported to the US under AGOA.

Clinton, despite also stressing the need to keep and create manufacturing jobs, reiterated her position of much more openness to free trade agreements during the debate. She stated she is generally supportive of such agreements if they do not negatively impact employment, income or national security, and commended their ability to increase exports. It is unlikely that a free trade agreement with SACU will significantly impact these three factors, as the region only constitutes a minimal percentage of US trade. In 2013, SACU exports to the US totalled USD$9.4 billion, or 0.34% of total US goods imports. Thus the prospects for a favourable agreement would be much more likely under a Clinton presidency.

Foreign Aid: a tool of diplomacy or unnecessary burden?

Trump’s espoused isolationism also begs the question as to whether America’s profile of aid to the African continent will change if he becomes President. Trump stated during the debate: ‘we cannot be the policeman of the world, we cannot protect countries all over the world, where they’re not paying us what we need.’ He was referring specifically to his disenchantment with NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), and other NATO members’ inadequate defence budgets, which should be 2% of GDP.

Would this nationalist sentiment extend to shrinking American bilateral aid to the African continent as well? The US contributed USD$31.08 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2015, almost double that of the UK, the second largest contributor. US aid to Africa is currently projected to be USD$7.1 billion for fiscal year 2017. And such actions would not only impact bilateral aid, but the capacity of prominent multilateral donors such as the World Bank and United Nations, to which the US is a large contributor.

However, these are of course only speculations, and given that ODA is only 0.17% of US gross national income, reducing aid may not be priority for Trump. At the same time, many of Trump’s statements throughout the campaign seem to shooting from the hip rather than based on logic. One can only speculate as to how far Trump’s isolationist sentiments could extend in actual practice.

If Clinton becomes president, one can be more confident that aid flows will remain relatively stable. Contrary to Trump, Clinton has constantly reaffirmed the importance of American allies and NATO, in line with the importance she places on the US’s partnerships with the rest of the world. Historically, US aid has always played a role in the country’s foreign policy engagement, and as Secretary of State in 2010, Clinton launched the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), a blueprint to improve US aid and diplomacy.

Given Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State and the precarious global security context, however, a Clinton presidency would more likely see aid linked closely to American security concerns. Yet perhaps also issues such as women’s rights, which Clinton has championed vehemently domestically as first lady and Secretary of State, could have an increased presence in the American aid profile.

*SAIIA/Allafrica

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Tens of Thousands of Cameroon Students Without Teachers
October 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Moki Edwin Kindzeka*

FILE - Muslim boys rest their heads on their desks during a language class at Al-Haramain madrassa at the Islamic Complex in Cameroon's capital Yaounde. Teachers, especially in the north, are afraid to return to their classrooms because of Boko Haram

FILE – Muslim boys rest their heads on their desks during a language class at Al-Haramain madrassa at the Islamic Complex in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde. Teachers, especially in the north, are afraid to return to their classrooms because of Boko Haram

Cameroon’s government says at least 500 teachers in the north have not reported for duty this school year amid safety concerns.

The Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram has targeted schools since its insurgency began in 2009. The nickname of the group roughly translates as “Western education is sinful.”

General Jacob Kodji, one of the commanders of Cameroonian troops fighting Boko Haram, has sought to reassure teachers and coax them back into the classrooms.

He told VOA the commanders have been working in collaboration with the administration and education officials to prevent any attacks. He says they are asking the population, including parents, teachers and students, to report suspicious people and share information to keep everyone safe.

Dire straits

Officials of the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union, including Secretary General Tassang Wilfred, say children are paying the price.

“We send out a clarion call for teachers to teach the children the nation has put at their disposal with all their energy in spite of the very harsh conditions in which most of us have to work,” Wilfred said. “We look at the plight of children. Their future seems bleak.”

Cameroon, featuring the cities of Douala, Yaounde, Garoua, Kousseri, Bamenda, Maroua, Bafoussam, Mokolo, Ngaoundere, and Bertoua

Cameroon, featuring the cities of Douala, Yaounde, Garoua, Kousseri, Bamenda, Maroua, Bafoussam, Mokolo, Ngaoundere, and Bertoua

Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of Cameroon’s Far North region, also has called on teachers to resume their duty. The governor says better security measures have been put in place.

But teachers are still afraid.

Two years ago, Boko Haram attacked a school in Tourou, setting it on fire. Several children were killed or wounded, officials said.

The government reopened the school this year. But only two of its eight teachers were present when VOA visited.

Vicious attacks

Teacher Ngeunang Timothy said they were traumatized by the attack.

“When they came that day, we were so sad because we ran from Tourou to Mokolo on foot,” he said. “We are now back in Tourou again and I think the government has taken a serious measure so as to keep our school safe and to enable us do our work smoothly.”

In the north, teachers have refused to go back to school.

As the school year opened last month, the government said 100,000 children displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency do not have access to education. Officials now say the teacher shortage in the north has put the education of an additional 100,000 students in jeopardy.

Boko Haram is blamed for about 20,000 deaths since beginning its insurgency in northern Nigeria in 2009. The Islamist extremist group says it wants to create a strict Islamic state in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria.

*VOA

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Hilton Builds for the Future at AHIF with Its First Modular Hotel in Africa
October 4, 2016 | 0 Comments
Hilton Garden Inn Accra Liberation Road becomes landmark deal, with additional signings in Kenya and Nigeria as Hilton seeks to double its presence across the continent
Hilton,Nairobi

Hilton,Nairobi

KIGALI, Rwanda, October 3, 2016/ — Hilton Worldwide  has marked this year’s African Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) with the announcement of new properties and extensions in three African countries. It continues the company’s commitment to expansion across the continent as it seeks to double its footprint from its existing 39 hotels to more than 80 hotels in the next 3-5 years.

Among the new hotels agreed is Africa’s first modular build hotel , the 280 guest-room Hilton Garden Inn in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, a concept that Hilton first premiered in 2014 through a partnership with CIMC Modular Building Systems. Other deals see the creation of Africa’s tallest hotel in Nairobi, while Hilton builds on its industry leading airport hotel legacy with an extension to the recently signed Legend Curio at Lagos Airport. Hilton will manage all three properties as it continues to expand its managed hotel portfolio.

Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president development, EMEA, Hilton Worldwide said, “Having been present in Africa for more than 50 years we’re proud to have remained at the forefront of pioneering hotel growth on the continent. This year at AHIF we’re breaking new ground in the region with the announcement of our first modular build hotel, a fast-paced construction solution that we feel has huge potential in Africa, with quicker returns for investors and a world-class hospitality experience for guests.

“We remain hugely committed to Africa across our portfolio of world-class brands, continuing to introduce our hotels to new markets across the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa in the coming years.”

Modular construction is an innovative solution that can be used to drive hotel development, offering numerous benefits including faster development, streamlined design and cost efficiencies. The process involves assembling portions of the hotel – including guest rooms and hallways – in China, before transporting them to the final site for completion, thereby significantly reducing the time taken for construction. The model helps ensure consistent quality and accelerates the build schedule on site, a particular benefit for developers and investors in emerging markets.

Hilton Garden Inn Accra Liberation Road is being developed under a management agreement with Independence Properties Ltd, whose majority shareholder is Trasacco Estates Development Company Ltd. With a planned opening in 2018, this will be the first Hilton Garden Inn in Ghana.

Ian Morris Director Independence Properties and CEO Trasacco Estates Development Company said: “After building a number of three star plus properties in West Africa the option to go modular and improve on room quality, project delivery and minimise construction risk was warmly embraced by our development, design and construction teams and we feel is the future of the industry.”

Paul Blackmore, Managing Director CIMC MBS, said: “We are very proud of the continued association between Hilton and CIMC, with Hilton Garden Inn being an excellent brand for utilising our modular technology. In Independence Properties we have another great partner focussed on a high-quality product. Africa is a key strategic focus for CIMC, where our solutions can minimise risk on site while protecting and improving owner returns.”

 

Located on Liberation Road, the main connection between Ghana’s capital and its major international airport, the hotel will feature three restaurants and amenities offered at each Hilton Garden Inn location, including complimentary high speed Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, 24-hour business and fitness centers, alongside four adjustable meeting rooms and a 450sqm ballroom.

Hilton Nairobi Upper Hill, Kenya (255 guest rooms)

A management agreement with Jabavu Village Ltd and White Lotus Projects sees Hilton expand on its existing presence in Kenya to create Africa’s tallest building. Standing 330m high, Hilton Nairobi Upper Hill is due to open in 2020, as a 255 guest-room and suite hotel in Kenya’s capital. It will offer multiple food and beverage outlets, including a relaxing poolside bar, speciality smokehouse and grill restaurant, lobby dining area with landscaped deck and a boutique rooftop bar with unbeatable vista views of the Nairobi skyline on the 43rd level.

Finally, having previously announced the signing of Curio, The Legend, Lagos Airport, Hilton has also confirmed that an additional 76 guest rooms will be added to the hotel bringing the room count up to 130-keys and further strengthening its expansion in the country. The hotel, due to open during 2017 will be the first within the airport environment giving guests and airline passengers alike unrivalled ease of access to the airports’ facilities.

Hilton  is a leading global hospitality company, comprising more than 4,700 managed, franchised, owned and leased hotels and timeshare properties with over 775,000 rooms in 104 countries and territories. For 97 years, Hilton has been dedicated to continuing its tradition of providing exceptional guest experiences. The company’s portfolio of 13 world-class global brands includes Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations. The company also manages an award-winning customer loyalty program, Hilton HHonors®. Hilton HHonors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to benefits including an exclusive member discount, free standard Wi-Fi, as well as digital amenities that are available exclusively through the industry-leading Hilton HHonors app, where Hilton HHonors members can check-in, choose their room, and access their room using a Digital Key

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#PrayforSong: Football world unites for Rigobert Song
October 3, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Shina Oludare*

Rigobert SongThe likes of Samuel Eto’o and Patrick Mboma were quick to offer their solidarity to the football legend who battles for life

 The football world has united to show their support for Cameroon football legend, Rigobert Song.

The former Indomitable Lions skipper and head coach of Chad senior national team is in a critical condition after suffering from cerebral aneurysm.

According to reports, the 40-year-old was at his home in the Odza neighborhood in Yaounde when the malaise hit him.

There was an outpouring of sympathy from well-wishers around the world and Goal has compiled tweets from footballers who expressed their concern.

Yoğun bakımda olan eski oyuncumuz Rigobert Song’a acil şifalar dileriz. Kalbimiz seninle Afrika Aslanı!

Let’s pray for a speedy recovery for our captain and most indomitable Lion, Rigobert Song!

Hearing awful news about former Liverpool player Rigobert Song. Really hope he pulls through.

Prayers up for Rigobert Song. I hope he will make it through 🙁

The greatest African center back of all times ” Rigobert Song” suffered a heart attack. Hope he’ll be alright.

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Africa Cup of Nations seeds named
September 28, 2016 | 0 Comments
Ivory Coast defeated four-time champions Ghana after a penalty shootout in Equatorial Guinea last year to win the Africa Cup of Nations tournament a second time (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Ivory Coast defeated four-time champions Ghana after a penalty shootout in Equatorial Guinea last year to win the Africa Cup of Nations tournament a second time (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Johannesburg (AFP) – Title-holders Ivory Coast, hosts Gabon and former champions Algeria and Ghana were named Tuesday as the top seeds for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

Ivory Coast defeated four-time champions Ghana after a penalty shootout in Equatorial Guinea last year to win the African football showpiece a second time.

Algeria conquered Africa when they hosted the biennial competition in 1990 while the quarter-finals is the furthest Gabon have progressed.

Gabon, co-hosts of the 2012 Cup of Nations with Equatorial Guinea, stage the 2017 finals from January 14 to February 5 in Libreville, Franceville, Port Gentil and Oyem.

Libreville, capital of the small, oil-rich central African state, hosts the October 19 draw that will split the 16 contenders into four groups with winners and runners-up securing quarter-finals places.

While three former champions, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia, are notable absentees, the third seeds for Gabon illustrate the strength of the line-up.

Record seven-time champions Egypt, Cameroon and Morocco have lifted the trophy and Senegal lost on penalties in the 2002 final.

All four countries are potential 2017 champions, as are second seeds Tunisia, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The lowest seeds include first-time qualifiers Guinea-Bissau, shock winners of a qualifying group that included Congo Brazzaville, Kenya and Zambia.

Seeds

Pot 1: Gabon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria

Pot 2: Tunisia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo

Pot 3: Cameroon, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt

Pot 4: Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Guinea Bissau

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Cameroon Clamps Down on Private Security Firms
September 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Moki Edwin Kindzeka*

FILE - Cameroonian soldiers guard against Boko Haram militants on Elbeid bridge near the village of Fotokol, on the border with Nigeria's Borno state. Militant attacks have fed demand for private security firms, now the focus of a government clampdown.

FILE – Cameroonian soldiers guard against Boko Haram militants on Elbeid bridge near the village of Fotokol, on the border with Nigeria’s Borno state. Militant attacks have fed demand for private security firms, now the focus of a government clampdown.

Cameroon’s government says it is clamping down on unlicensed private security firms in an effort to improve public safety and enforce regulations.

It plans to close all but nine of the country’s nearly 50 private companies. The sector’s numbers have risen sharply in the two years since the militant group Boko Haram began carrying out attacks in the country’s northern region. Cameroon has an estimated 70,000 private security guards, compared with about 15,000 armed policemen.

The closings could leave tens of thousands of people jobless, authorities say, but they contend the sector has become rife with crime.

Criminal suspects are all too common among the ranks of private security guards, according to Senior Police Commissioner Ossomba Ansleme. He said two guards had been taken into custody as suspects in a rape case being investigated this week in the capital.

Police reportedly still are hunting for five people suspected of attacking Chinese gold miners last week in the town of Ngaoundere. Authorities killed one alleged assailant – and then realized the dead man, and possibly his five peers, had been hired as guards by the victims.

More regulation supported

Kuma Emmanuel, who owns a private security firm, doesn’t dispute the need for more regulation.

“We have companies that … just get a truck, open up and then young guys come in,” he said. Such firms merely “dress them up as security guards.”

A poorly trained guard, he added, “does not know where his powers begin and where his powers end. Obviously, there is a problem. Most of these workers that you see you see putting on uniforms – let me say 80 percent of them have not been trained.”

But government inefficiency also was faulted. Some owners said it could take authorities years to process applications for security businesses.

Promoting public safety

The man handling the shutdowns is Issanda Issanda Alain Solomon, the Ministry of Territorial Administration’s director of political affairs. He said public safety is the top concern.

He said any well-trained guards losing their jobs because of the closings will find new opportunities with authorized private security companies. The law permits licensed firms to recruit up to 5,000 guards, yet most have 2,000 or fewer.

Issanda Issanda said guards for authorized security companies should wear yellow uniforms.

He dismissed local media criticism that the proliferation of private firms reflected the government’s failure to provide adequate security.

In June, the government reported that at least 1,400 people have died in Boko Haram attacks and related fighting. The actual figure is likely higher, as many people die in the bush and are not accounted for.

*VOA

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What Do Tourists to Africa Want? An Easy Visa Process
September 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

FILE - An elephant crosses a road made for Safari vehicles as tourists take photos in Tarangire National Park on the outskirts of Arusha, northern Tanzania, Jan. 16, 2015.

FILE – An elephant crosses a road made for Safari vehicles as tourists take photos in Tarangire National Park on the outskirts of Arusha, northern Tanzania, Jan. 16, 2015.

South Africa, Ghana and Senegal rake in cash from their tourism industries, but not Africa’s second-largest economy, Nigeria. A report released this week suggests tourists may pick where to visit based on how easily they can get visas.

Ghana and Nigeria are often seen as sister countries in West Africa. But one way they diverge is in their success at attracting visitors.

A report released by London’s Renaissance Capital this week says Nigeria gets about $500 million in revenue from tourism each year. That is just 0.1 percent of its $481 billion economy.

Ghana, in contrast, reaps a huge benefit from the tourist trade, according to Renaissance Capital global chief economist Charles Robertson.

“Now 0.1 percent of GDP is so much, so much lower than say Ghana, a couple of countries away, which gets over two percent of GDP, in fact it is 25 times more money, relatively, in Ghana than Nigeria,” said Robertson.

Ghana, in fact, ranks among the continent’s best tourism performers, along with Tanzania, Rwanda and Senegal. Nigeria is near the bottom, second only to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These countries practice varying forms of democracy. But that is not what brings in tourists, Robertson says. Morocco and Jordan are monarchies and also major tourist destinations.

The continent’s top attractions are also free of the war and insecurity that pervades some African states. But that is not what attracts tourists either. South Africa is home to some of the most dangerous cities in the world but still gets between two and three percent of its GDP from tourism.

Robertson said people travel to countries like Senegal and Tanzania because they are easy to get in to.

“A lot of the countries that do well from tourism have a very easy visa regime,” said Robertson.

Rwanda recently overhauled its visa process to increase access, and is seeing benefits, Robertson said.

“They have introduced this open visa regime system as well, and they get four percent of GDP. That is at least 40 times more than what Nigeria does,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s official tourism website does not even work, and visa costs can run into the hundreds of dollars.

Robertson says some African countries maintain tight visa requirements because their own citizens face onerous processes to get visas to other countries.

But with Nigeria’s economy in a recession, thanks in part to drops in the price and production of the country’s top export, oil, Robertson said growth in Nigeria’s tourism sector could only help.

*VOA

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Fuel ‘too dirty’ for Europe sold to Africa
September 16, 2016 | 0 Comments
Sulphur particles in diesel emissions have been linked to a range of health problems

Sulphur particles in diesel emissions have been linked to a range of health problems

Swiss firms have been criticised in a report for their links to the African trade in diesel with toxin levels that are illegal in Europe.

Campaign group Public Eye says retailers are exploiting weak regulatory standards.

Vitol, Trafigura, Addax & Oryx and Lynx Energy have been named because they are shareholders of the fuel retailers.

Trafigura and Vitol say the report is misconceived and retailers work within legal limits enforced in the countries.

Three of the distribution companies mentioned in the report have responded by saying that they meet the regulatory requirements of the market and have no vested interest in keeping sulphur levels higher than they need to be.

Although this is within the limits set by national governments, the sulphur contained in the fumes from the diesel fuel could increase respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis in affected countries, health experts say.


Why are regulations so lax?

The picture is changing but there are still several African countries which allow diesel to have a sulphur content of more than 2,000 parts per million (ppm), with some allowing more than 5,000ppm, whereas the European standard is less than 10ppm.

 

Rob de Jong from the UN Environment Programme (Unep) told the BBC that there was a lack of awareness among some policy makers about the significance of the sulphur content.

map showing legal limits for sulphur levels across africa

For a long time countries relied on colonial-era standards, which have only been revised in recent years.

Another issue is that in the countries where there are refineries, these are unable, for technical reasons, to reduce the sulphur levels to the standard acceptable in Europe. This means that the regulatory standard is kept at the level that the refineries can operate at.

Some governments are also worried that cleaner diesel would be more expensive, therefore pushing up the price of transport.

But Mr De Jong argued that the difference was minimal and oil price fluctuations were much more significant in determining the diesel price.


What’s so bad about sulphur?

The sulphur particles emitted by a diesel engine are considered to be a major contributor to air pollution, which the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks as one of the top global health risks.

It is associated with heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory problems.

Traffic in Nigeria

The WHO says that pollution is particularly bad in low and middle income countries.

Reducing the sulphur content in diesel would go some way to reducing the risk that air pollution poses.


What’s being done about it?

Unep is at the forefront of trying to persuade governments to tighten up the sulphur content regulations and is gradually making progress.

In 2015, the East African Community introduced new regulations for Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. Diesel cannot now have more than 50ppm in those countries.

It is clear that the situation has improved since 2005.

map showing legal limits for sulphur levels across africa in 2005

Unep’s Jane Akumu is currently working with the West African regional grouping Ecowas and its Southern African counterpart Sadc to try and change the regulations there.

She told the BBC that she was optimistic that governments would bring down the legal sulphur limits as the arguments in favour are compelling.

*BBC

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130 still missing in Cameroon after crackdown, says Amnesty
August 31, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Carley Petesch*

FILE - Cameroon's President Paul Biya waves as he arrives at an EU-Africa summit on April 3, 2014, at EU Headquarters in Brussels.

FILE – Cameroon’s President Paul Biya waves as he arrives at an EU-Africa summit on April 3, 2014, at EU Headquarters in Brussels.

DAKAR, Senegal — One hundred thirty men and boys remain missing in Cameroon nearly two years after a government crackdown on suspected members of the Nigeria-based Boko Haram extremists, Amnesty International said Tuesday, calling on the government to provide answers.

Authorities on Dec. 27, 2014 arrested more than 200 people in Magdeme and Double villages in Cameroon’s Far North region, Amnesty said. The arrests were part of a push by the government to combat Boko Haram. They came within days of Cameroon’s first airstrikes against the Islamic extremists to dislodge about 1,000 fighters who had seized a military base and attacked several villages along the border with Nigeria, according to reports at the time.

More than 25 of the arrested men died in custody and 45 were transferred to a prison the next day, with three more dying due to dire conditions, Amnesty said. Nine civilians were killed, and 70 homes destroyed in the operations in the two villages by the military, it said.

“The country must stop using its fight against Boko Haram to justify its blatant violations of human rights,”said Alioune Tine, Amnesty’s regional director for West and Central Africa.

The rights organization said it considers the 130 people victims of enforced disappearance, a crime under international law. The group called on Cameroon’s government to reveal the locations of those arrested, launch an independent investigation into the disappearances and hold fair trials for those who may be responsible.

 The rights group said it has noted 17 other cases of suspected enforced disappearance in Cameroon between June 2014 and June 2016.

Cameroon has joined neighboring countries, including Niger, Nigeria and Chad, in a multinational force to combat the seven-year Boko Haram insurgency that has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced some 2.6 million others in the region.

*Washington Post

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Uganda to host 2016 forum on internet freedom in Africa
August 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

FIFA-e1466142978819-667x340_cThe Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) will on 27 to 29 September 2016 host the 2016 forum on internet freedom in Africa to explore new issues affecting internet freedom in Africa, according to a recent statement released by the organisation.

According to CIPESA, this year they expect to expand on the number of countries they conduct research in on the state of internet freedom as well as broaden the discussions that form the pillar of the forum.

It is also reported that in 2015, the forum brought together 200 human rights defenders, journalists, government officials, bloggers, developers and representatives from academia, the arts community, law enforcement agencies and communication regulations from 18 countries.

The 2014 forum hosted 85 participants from six countries. Some of the countries which have participated in previous forums include Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, UK,USA and Zambia.

Organisers say that as internet use has risen in Africa, so have the abuses and attacks on internet freedom, including a proliferation of laws, legal and extra-legal affronts, as well as limited judicial oversight over surveillance and interception of communications.

It is also reported that the forum is one of a kind in Africa that is committed to advancing an understanding and upholding of internet freedoms and how they impact media freedom, free expression and privacy for a range of civic actors such as journalists, human rights defenders, sexual minorities, women, political actors and bloggers.

“It is one of very few gatherings that assemble an African audience within the continent to discuss matters related to upholding internet freedom. While similar conferences are held elsewhere like in Asis, America and Europe, it is expensive for Africa-based actors to attend and for some of these events only bits of the agenda are relevant to Africa,” CIPESA said.

The forum is also being held at a time when the conversation on the need to promote internet freedom is crucial and the forum will provide a unique opportunity for deliberations and building a network of African actors to promote internet freedom for a range of civic actors.

CIPESA says that presently there is a minimal collaboration between African tools developers and those on the frontlines defending human rights. It is also expected to bring together African technical experts to explore ways in which they can work together in advancing internet freedom, including on testing tools and user interfaces, on digital security training and secure design.

It is expected to empower developers from the region to appreciate internet freedom tools design and to turn them into advocates of secure tools to protect internet freedom.

Another key feature of the forum is the assembly of discussions that take place and how each of these influences the work onwards of many of the participants at the forum.Topics explored to date include discussions around the growing presence of online violence against women, whose magnitude and manifestation is not clearly known, as most cases in Africa go unreported.

Combating hate speech and violations of freedom of expression including during periods of electioneering, empowering media as infomediaries and advocates of digital rights whilst also recognizing them as a vulnerable group, advocating for increased judicial oversight over surveillance and interception of communications and  bridging the gap between techies.

The need to address gaps, policy and legislative in the right to privacy will be explored including continued capacity building and awareness raising among citizens, media, human rights defenders and activists on the appreciation of digital safety tools and practices.

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Kenya to host 6th African Green Revolution forum
August 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

C-63-780x439African leaders are set to meet in Nairobi, Kenya at the African Green Revolution (AGRF) forum to be held on September 5 to 9 with an ambition of transforming agriculture into an engine for inclusive socio-economic growth and development.

According to a statement released by Waiganjo Njoroge, AGRA, Global Media Lead, the historic gathering will  include hundreds of influential leaders and CEOs and is also expected to award the newly established Africa Food prize.

Njoroge adds that the sixth African Green Revolution forum or AGRF 2016 is Africa’s largest agricultural event.

“This year’s forum arrives at a time when an unprecedented number of leaders in both African and donor countries are signalling that agriculture development is essential to Africa’s long term economic growth,” Njoroge said.

It is also reported that the emergence of agriculture as the sector that will determine Africa’s future is reflected in the theme of the 2016 forum titled: Seize the moment: Africa rising through agricultural transformation.

Organisers say that the forum will feature a strong slate of influential leaders and CEOs from the public and private sector.

They add that a major highlight of the forum will be the inaugural award of the new Africa Food prize which was created to call attention to individuals and institutions that are inspiring and driving agriculture innovations that can be replicated throughout Africa.

Also the landmark annual African Agriculture Status Report, which this year will chronicle agricultural progress on the continent over the last decade and suggest strategies towards accelerated economic growth and development through agricultural transformation will also be launched.

Over 1000 leaders from politics, business and civil society from across Africa and beyond are expected to grace the event.

Some of the key speakers at the forum will include President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, Strive Masiyiwa, Chair and Founder of Econet Wireless who is also Board Chair of the AGRA, just to mention a few.

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NWCA: FOOTSTEPS TOWARDS PROGRESS.
August 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Aaron Yancho Kaah*

nwcaThere is a buzz of excitement in the air for some 35000 coffee family farmers’ in the North West Region of Cameroon who now constitute an extended network of Hope and Self-reliance under the North West Cooperative Association (NWCA).

This cooperatives recent tireless crusade to build the capacity of these coffee farmers and to improve their lives through incentives with basic farm inputs and better financial remuneration has provided new safety nets to lift the production capacity of this Association from almost zero tons of coffee in 2013 to 850 ton’s in 2016. “2017 promises to be another year of progress and success” Recounted Fonguh Peter marketing manager of this cooperative.

The new general manger of NWCA – Waindim Timothy Ntam, has proven that the simple but powerful act of collecting, processing and marketing of cocoa and coffee can benefit farmers and their communities if well articulated. “Working to bridge the long standing gaps between our member’s and cooperatives we have proven that sustainable development is possible” Remark the GM.

Working and doing business with some 12 Secondary Unions and 43, Cooperative Producing and Marketing Societies across the region, NWCA is braving the storms to tactfully manage the obsolete equipments at its disposal to meet its needs and demands. “We are determine to keep moving step by step in building the formidable  value chain of taking coffee from the farm to the cup despite all the odds” said Timothy. And true to this endeavor, at least 96 packets of coffee are processed a week form organic green Arabica coffee beans farmed across the Region.

nwca2NWCA was built with the sweat and pennies of farmer’s in the 1950, as the only leading farmer organization in the NW Region of Cameroon. This association is accredited for having helped its member’s source income for their personal emergency needs and development. “This was the hope of farmers”. Recounted the- GM.

Waindim Timothy who had work for this association in various portfolios in the last 16years also recalled that it was thanks to this association that the first sheets of corrugated zinc were nailed in houses across the Region. “Things were shaping up well but the liberation of the coffee sector in the early 1990’s changed the farmer’s involvement with the Association” The GM lamented. The resulting consequence led to a decline in coffee production. The lack of land, limited resources and the sensitive nature of the Arabica coffee to the climate changes made a bad situation worse. Hardship rocked the Association to financial debts. “Not wanting to give off, desperate times called for desperate measures” He added. So without hesitation the cooperative went into some structural internal reforms and the global marketing of some of its finished products.

 

                                   KOLA –COFFEE TEA

 

With enough action, this Association began processing and distributing the beans of the green Arabica coffee into powder-rich in flavor and aroma.  Processed with care and craft, every crisp and a mouthful of tea coffee celebrate not only one of Africa’s mountainous coffee beans but kola tree shade grown coffee in Cameroon. ‘To identify with our region and our coffee farming system we opted to name this final product as KOLA coffee” remarked the GM. nwca 3According to Achu Frederick, the coffee roaster of this cooperative of cooperative -The adage that he who brings kola brings life has summoned up the taste and sunshine in kola coffee tea. The credibility in handling this venture successfully saw NWCA breaking into the US market in 2008 under the kola coffee company LLC. “Our principal objectives were to invade the US markets with this kola tea and to enhance our cooperative visibility”. The GM added. To say the least this dream was nibbled in the bud due to limited financial means. In keeping the steam afloat, recent quality controls of the coffee bean’s and modernize processing techniques which involve the processing and packaging of this Africa’s indigenous tea has continuously kept Kola –Coffee  a trump card for  resurrecting cooperative. “For the moment NWCA has plans to take this product to the wide world and they are visible plans to improve the production and marketing capacities” added The GM.

 NWCA AND LAND

Some NWCA projects are specifically designed to help NW farmers adapt to the climate changes. “Seasonal uncertainties had long obstructed the coffee growing season the high prevalence of pest and diseases also became a big worry for us “the GM said.

These climatic changes, brought in by high temperatures also distorted the metabolic process in coffee beans bearing. Form statistics 1*c rise in temperature led to approximately 137kg lost in production for one hectare of coffee farm land. . All these evidence gave rise to the Agro-forestry strategist which NWCA now propagates across the region. “High canopy kola nuts trees are cultivated side by side with the coffee plants to help reduce the high day time temperatures” the GM said. This shade grown coffee projects also benefitted ecosystems and biodiversity as these shade trees save as habitat for birds and wildlife. Through this shade grown coffee, farmers benefit high food crop yields in areas like Oku, Belo and Donga Mantung as the leaves of these kola nut trees are rich food crop and plant fertilizer. “This Kola trees also provide kola nuts for food and extra additional income for these farmers” remarked Mbah Linus a farmer in Boya division and an active cooperatives member.

nwca4This method portrays a site specific adaptation strategy to help mitigate the effects of climate change on the coffee sector in this region of Cameroon. No doubt this has curved a unique niche for NW coffee. According to North West Cooperative Association management grevilea is another tree species which is highly encouraged to be cultivated. All these integrated tree planting projects will boast land security and care for the earth in this region

This cooperative dreams for a better future on the coffee business sector is very interesting according to its Waindim Timothy Ntam. He proudly opines that the future will be very engaging at the national and international levels. “Owing to the fact that most NWCA farmers fall between the 58-60 age brackets across the Region, more dynamic ways are being introduce to get youth into the sector and to boast production” he recounted. . This is a magic wand the cooperative is counting on to sustain its business around its cherished farmers across the seven divisions of the region. Though private buyers and middle men have not helped matters for the farmers and for the cooperative in the past years, NWCA is more determine to help every farmer to enjoy the sweat of his labor through good pay according to the General Manager. “While our dreams are wide we are more self-confident to build a stronger vibrant Association of NW coffee farmers and to continue to thrive in cooperative and in synergy with the Cameroon government” He added.

nwca6There is already good news in the making. NWCA has signed (MoU) Memoranda of understanding with the Italian Farmers Union to assist it articulate projects that will better and lift the aspirations of the association in the near future. “At the heart of this partnership will be the creation of Micro-Financial Institution that will serve as a bank for our farmers”. The GM said with a smile.

The North West Cooperative Association is looking to the world with open arms to solicit for partnerships and grants that could help steam up good life around the coffee farming sector in this part of Cameroon. Mr. Waindim Timothy Ntam and his team of collaborators are also in a notable struggle to get the NW green Arabica coffee beans certified at the world market as part of its Foot steps Towards Progress.

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Roland Fomundam and the mission of making Agriculture Look Cool
August 25, 2016 | 1 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Agriculture must not be seen as something for the poor and uneducated says Fomundam,a Graduate of Northeastern University

Agriculture must not be seen as something for the poor and uneducated says Fomundam,a Graduate of Northeastern University

For over eight years now, Roland Fomundam, founder and CEO of Greenhouse Ventures (GHV) and a seasoned social entrepreneur has devoted his time to finding lasting solutions to tackle challenges facing agricultural communities that make up the bulk of the population in Cameroon and Africa.

Fomundam started GHV, to address  challenges, improve the lives of farmers and bridge income inequality by deploying a Greenhouse business model that not only challenges the stigma that agriculture in Africa is for the poor, the dirty and uneducated people, but also portrays one that is enjoyable, profitable, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Greenhouse Ventures Ltd is today Cameroon’s premier sustainable agriculture company with a mission to make agriculture more productive and more profitable. The company develops and deploys sustainable technologies with a primary focus in agriculture and rural development.

A product of Northeastern University, Fomundam’s solutions and ideas have been implemented in several communities throughout Cameroon

“Our greenhouses and the GreenHouse Ventures model meets the three pillars of sustainability and can be vital in alleviating poverty and minimizing food insecurity challenges in Cameroon and Africa as a whole,” says Fomundam

 Can you tell us a bit about your background and how the idea of Greenhouse ventures was conceived?

Once it is thinkable then it is doable, says Fomundam in encouragement to young Africans

Once it is thinkable then it is doable, says Fomundam in encouragement to young Africans

My name is Roland Fomundam. I am the founder and CEO of Greenhouse Ventures Ltd – Cameroon’s premier sustainable agriculture company with a mission to make agriculture more productive and more profitable. The company develops and deploys sustainable technologies with a primary focus in agriculture and rural development.

I am educated as an entrepreneur, as such I find opportunities in every crisis situation.  When I looked at the crisis situation within the agriculture industry in Cameroon, I immediately uncovered several opportunities to capitalize on. Since 2006, I have taken several exploratory trips to Cameroon where I worked on the realization of a number of goals: forming cooperative groups; building capacities within farmer’s and rural groups and introducing several technologies to minimize post harvest losses, foster productivity, increase profitability with a common goal to upgrade the socio economic standards of target communities.

In Cameroon, there is an aging farmer’s population – and the demand for produce is on the rise. The existing producers cannot meet current demand and so the pressure continuous to mount on them. They are forced to employ unethical and unsustainable means to meet production such as the use of excess fertilizers among other things to forcefully increase production at the detriment of the consumers – sadly, them too.

In Cameroon, unemployment rates are soaring as high as 30%. The growing and educated youth population is unable to find jobs for several reasons. Urban cities are experiencing a surge and the rural areas being affected by depopulation and an exodus. The resulting situation is a loss of resource and talent in the rural areas with a corresponding rise population density and youth delinquency in urban areas.

Developments in Agriculture have proven to have a broad based potential to improve the socio economic standards of citizens. The President has on numerous occasions reminded the citizens to consider such investments in Agriculture but most importantly he has made several advances in ameliorating agriculture and its process – a transition into the second generation agriculture.

Greenhouse Ventures is a one stop shop for producers and consumers to engage and earn value that meet their present needs for sustainability.

What changes does your initiative bring to the development of Agriculture in Cameroon?

20151122_120944 (2)I am introducing a novel technology in Cameroon that will have an impact similar to the introduction of cell phones some few years ago. This greenhouse technology will engage more youths in agriculture thereby curbing the high unemployment rates, increasing productivity and nurture broad based economic growth in the entire region. Citizens will also have the ability to grow premium food year round for auto consumption and to sell to target markets.

The greenhouse technology was introduced in 2013 with the perceived expectations that it will be a vehicle to increase productivity and profitability for farmers. Three years later, our results have exceeded our expectations and the impact of our technology is already being felt in numerous communities

In terms of cost, how affordable is it and how sustainable is your model?

The cost of our greenhouses ranges from FCFA200 000 ($400) to FCFA 1 million ($2000) depending on size, use and accessories. Our greenhouses are affordable yet not cheap. We are selling not just a product but the value from the product. For this reason our business model guarantees positive returns from the use of our product. Users will have the opportunity to sell their produce through our platform at prices that assures positive returns within the very first year. Our greenhouses have an expected lifespan of 6 to 10 years making this a very attractive investment venue for all.

How have Cameroonians responded to this initiative of yours?

Fomundam says the soils and climate of Cameroon favor the production of a wide variety of crops, and his greenhouses are proving useful in meeting several agriculture needs

Fomundam says the soils and climate of Cameroon favor the production of a wide variety of crops, and his greenhouses are proving useful in meeting several agriculture needs

The adoption of this technology has been very rapid as opposed to what we expected in the beginning. Though it is fairly new in the fields, it has always been taught in schools in different topics so students have always had an idea of greenhouses. The excitement of seeing the technology and its perceived benefits is what has driven sales and adoption within the various market groups. We have also employed a marketing strategy that has sensitized the population enough and minimized any negative marketing effects.

We have seen picture of you with personalities like the Director of Customs, how much help have you received from the authorities?

I have not received any much help from any of the authorities in Cameroon as of yet. I have not asked or requested any assistance from them. I have treated them like customers and we have maintained business conversations with mutual beneficial outcomes through out our meetings.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced as you seek to implement your project?

My main challenges have been financial since I did not seek any external investments. The field challenges have been much expected and anticipated making them easier to contain.

You are from the diaspora based on your experiences, what advise do you have for other young Cameroonians who have similar bright ideas as yours?

Once it is thinkable then it is doable. Doing starts with a vision, a strategy and a tactics of getting it done. You must make up your mind to believe in what you set out to do. Follow the lead and then lead your way – it is easier said than done but I have been a representation of the phrase.

What appraisal do you make of the Agricultural policy of the Cameroon government and what needs to be done to make it better?

The excitement of seeing the technology and its perceived benefits is what has driven sales ,Fomundam said

The excitement of seeing the technology and its perceived benefits is what has driven sales ,Fomundam said

The agricultural policy of Cameroon is still very limiting in so many ways. The government is doing its best to meet the expectations of its target populations but the institutional voids hinder the seamless progress of a number of initiatives. That not withstanding, some progress is being felt and we remain confident that with time it will become even better.

There needs to be an exodus of many diasporians to get involved in this industry sector which is still very traditional and monopolized by the foreigners. The diaspora has a potential to modify the policies that govern this industry sector.

Any last word especially to the many young unemployed who do not see Agriculture as an option?

Before these greenhouses, you had a reason not to be involved in this industry. These greenhouses have now presented a stage for all, especially the youths to get involved in agriculture. There is an ever growing market for agriculture produce and the demand will only continue rising therefore there is a need for many more Cameroonians to get involved and our greenhouses are a vehicle for a smooth transition. Remember that the demand for food will never ever run out, the soils and climate of Cameroon favor the production of a wide variety of crops, our greenhouses have proven to be useful in meeting several agriculture needs. We have simplified the use of these greenhouses making it possible for anyone to become an owner with a know – how to produce and make desirable profits.

Our greenhouses and the GreenHouse Ventures model meets the three pillars of sustainability and can be vital in alleviating poverty and minimizing food insecurity challenges in Cameroon and Africa as a whole.

 

 

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From YALI with Hope & A Renewed Sense in Public Service
August 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Mercy Kyeng Tetuh*

with certificateIn Africa, we say that cancer is a disease of the rich and diabetes is a disease of affluence. Contrary to this perception, it is the poor that are most affected by these diseases – including those that become poor because of it.

Non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer accounts for more than 38 million deaths or 60% of all annual deaths worldwide. In America, every 1 in 5 adults has high blood pressure as opposed to every 1 in 3 adults in Africa. Kidney failure and stoke is one of the most common outcomes of diabetes and high blood pressure respectively and both outcomes have significant economic impacts not only on the victims but the entire community and society at large.

My work is in public health and epidemiology with special emphasis on reducing mortality and morbidity rates of non-communicable diseases in Cameroon. In Cameroon, my home, the effects of high blood pressure are forcing people below the poverty line. I recall attending a conference on kidney disease and a man from the North West region of Cameroon where I come from shared a story with me. This man was one of the highest paid classes of individuals in government and suffering from kidney failure.  Because of this disease and all of the management it required – the testing, treatment, missing work – this man of wealth had to beg his relatives to help him buy food. The tuition funds he might have once set aside for his children to acquire an education were no longer a possibility. Similarly, my own friend’s father was also on dialysis and he was forced to sell his organization in order to pay for his accumulating health bills. He is now incapacitated and depends solely on his family for survival; my friend foregoes school twice per week to wait at the dialysis center for her father’s turn to use one of a handful of dialysis machines that are used to treat hundreds.

I’ve been forced to ask myself many questions like, “Why are there no policies in place to combat these conditions in Cameroon? Why is it that only 3% of global funds are allocated to non-communicable diseases?” I couldn’t find an answer and it was then that I realized I had to become an answer. That was when I organized a team of Cameroonian medical professionals and created Value Health Africa (VAHA), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “add to the quality of life and promote sustainable community development in Cameroon by improving the health of the community.”

community screening by Value Health Africa

community screening by Value Health Africa

Since little support is available for addressing non-communicable disease in my country, we knew it was important to maximize local resources like the youth. Through the power and dedication of the youth, VAHA has been able to develop strong volunteer-led community forums in partnership with higher institutions. Through the community intervention programs, VAHA has succeeded to screen over 12 communities for non-communicable disease, revealing its true prevalence in Cameroon and the associated risk factors to locals. We share this information at health research forums in my country to raise awareness and bring this problem to lamplight. We have also succeeded in developing  a disease management structure for diabetes patients in partnership with rural health centers through a task shift approach policy meanwhile, we are also putting in place an early detection program where we conduct community health screenings and promote education and awareness campaigns, benefiting more than 12 communities already. We have had real success and it seems as if a pathway for change is being made…

As I look at the progress we have made and what more we may be able to accomplish, I can’t help but to think about the challenges we face and cannot yet overcome. I see myself on a motor bike, traveling to an interior village as I have been notified of an advanced diabetic case (at stage 5 kidney disease). I am rushing to a clinic with my team to intervene and, upon arrival; I am told that he has died. This is not a terrible dream I awoke from; this actually happened. We do not have enough medical equipment to fully address the need hence, we are being outpaced. The challenge we face is huge and we are attempting to do things that have never been done before in my country.

But this challenge has opened the door to opportunities. This year, I applied to the Mandela Washington Young African Leaders Institute (YALI) program. It is a well-known and highly competitive opportunity throughout all of Africa, with the chance to come to America to undergo trainings and acquire new knowledge and resources that can be taken back to our countries. Nearly 49,000 applied but only 1,000 were chosen with just 24places for Cameroon.  Other VAHA colleagues and I, were among the chosen and I was placed at Kansas state university for a 6-week civic leadership workshop with 23 other fellows from 14 different countries in Africa.

IMG_7518I thought that, this experience would be limited to a professional workshop environment, but it was much more than I expected. This experience has changed my perspective, the goals for my organization, and my life. The Staley School of Leadership Studies taught us about the importance of community in our work and created a peer network that connected us with faculty and community members doing work similar to ours. With the help of Professor Fadi  Aramouni of the Food Science Institute at KSU, I have been able to analyze the composition of some of our local foods in Cameroon. This will help us to educate locals on better eating habits which will go a long way in improving health conditions in the community. I met Kolia Souza of the Center for Engagement and Community Development, whose work is also dedicated to creating stronger communities through healthy food access.

From there, I was connected to Professor John Calvin of Johns Hopkins University, the Medical Society of Segwick County, the Kansas Health Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and even Imagining America. I now see everything with new eyes. I see the introduction of new technologies to revolutionize our food system. I see opportunities to partner with our local schools and their nurses to develop health promotion programs that teach children using both artistic and scientific methods. I see implementing more playgrounds to encourage physical activity, because the one we have for all of Cameroon is not enough. I see the opportunity for mentorship between the young and old. I have renewed vigor for engaging, teaching, and empowering our local citizens and government to reimagine Cameroon and devise how we can get there together. Furthermore, I want this to spread across all of Africa. Through YALI, I have learned about and shared in the struggle of my fellow Africans and we have all been inspired by the possibility for transformation, discovered during our time in America.

Value Health Africa staff at work

Value Health Africa staff at work

The burden of non-communicable diseases extends beyond just medical bills. It steals time from work, time with family, and years from peoples’ lives. It also extends beyond Cameroon, beyond Africa. This is a human struggle that requires a collaborative approach for greater impact to be made. We can encourage our educational institutions to incorporate healthy eating habits and physical exercise at the elementary school level. We can teach both young and old to care for their own health and their community’s health together. We can advocate for policies that create healthier environments and holistic health systems. We can engage with our local governments to build stronger health systems in our societies. We can also donate to support projects such as these in communities so as to make the vision of a healthy community a reality. Our struggle is your struggle. My community is your community. We can uplift one another.

*MPH/Epidemiology ,CEO: Value Health Africa,Mandela YALI Fellow 2016 from Cameroon

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New EU Trade Deal Stirs Controversy in Cameroon
August 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Moki Edwin Kindzeka*

FILE - Cameroon's President Paul Biya waves as he arrives at an EU-Africa summit on April 3, 2014, at EU Headquarters in Brussels.

FILE – Cameroon’s President Paul Biya waves as he arrives at an EU-Africa summit on April 3, 2014, at EU Headquarters in Brussels.

In Cameroon, a new trade deal with the European Union is stirring up controversy. Other Central African states have refused to ratify the agreement, saying it was neither fair nor balanced.

Civil society activist Emmanuel Mbami addressed a small crowd gathered near Cameroon’s Ministry of Finance Thursday, protesting the new trade deal.

Mbami said Cameroonian President Paul Biya was motivated by his desire to stay in office. He said Biya was afraid if he didn’t sign the deal, he would lose the support of European leaders. Biya, he added, has shown Cameroon to be shameless state that would betray the other countries in the region.

In late July, leaders in the Central African bloc CEMAC met in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, and decided not to sign the proposed trade agreement. But then, on August 4, Cameroon ratified the agreement on its own.

‘Trade balance will not be there’

Lawmaker Njong Evaristus says Cameroon was wrong because the agreement favors Europe.

“We are tilting towards the Asian countries, China and the rest, and if you have to clear the custom duties for European goods, it is going to affect us so much because, first, our budget depends on the custom duties,” Evaristus said. “We are a third-world country. We don’t have developed industries that are up to a level that they can compete with the industries from Europe. In that case, you cannot balance the economy since we are a country that is dealing with agricultural products and the rest, and they are dealing with goods which are already finalized goods. The trade balance will not be there.”

The European Union is Cameroon’s top trade partner, accounting for 35 percent of imports. The Economic Partnership Agreement, or EPA, removes customs duties on imports from the EU.

The EU argues that the agreement is favorable to developing nations as it also allows countries to export goods to the EU without tariffs or maximum quotas under World Trade Organization rules.

EU claims ‘development agreement’

Francoise Collet, head of the EU delegation to Cameroon, says the country will benefit from the deal.

FILE - A motorbike laden with locally-picked bananas is seen parked on a dirt road between the town of Mundemba and village of Fabe, Cameroon, June 8, 2012.

FILE – A motorbike laden with locally-picked bananas is seen parked on a dirt road between the town of Mundemba and village of Fabe, Cameroon, June 8, 2012.

“It will be a safer environment for trade, and for expanding trade between our regions but also for expanding trade within the regions. That’s one of our hopes,” Collet said. “It is not only a trade agreement, it is also a development agreement. That is the aim of the EPA everywhere in the world and including Cameroon.”

African countries had until October 2014 to ratify the EPA, without which preferential treatment being given to their exports to European markets were to be suspended. Central African nations were able to get the deadline extended to August 1, 2016.

Cameroon’s former minister of economy and current minister of public works, Emmanuel Nganou Ndjoumessi, is part of the negotiating team. He told VOA they saw no reason to disrespect their commitment.

“We are ratifying [the deal] in order to continue selling our goods in this market without paying customs duties. Cameroon has to respect its international engagements,” he said. “We have been selling to the European Union without paying custom fees, consequently, we could easily sell our banana, our chocolates, our beans and so on.”

The five other CEMAC countries which refused to sign on to the deal are Gabon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea.

At its last meeting, CEMAC asked Gabonese President Ali Bongo to meet with President Biya to discuss the matter.

*VOA

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Torn in Bakassi: Cameroonian on Paper, Nigerian at Heart
August 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Moki Edwin Kindzeka*

FILE - Locals wave good-bye to a departing Nigerian soldier in Archibong in the southern Bakassi Peninsula, in this Aug. 14, 2006, photo, as Nigerian troops withdrew from the disputed area, which was officially handed over to Cameroon in 2008.

FILE – Locals wave good-bye to a departing Nigerian soldier in Archibong in the southern Bakassi Peninsula, in this Aug. 14, 2006, photo, as Nigerian troops withdrew from the disputed area, which was officially handed over to Cameroon in 2008.

Cameroon took full control of the Bakassi peninsula from Nigeria three years ago as a result of a U.N.-supervised agreement. The transfer ended decades of dispute, but residents say they still feel conflicted. Many still feel Nigerian.

The Nigerian national anthem being sung at a meeting of Nigerian businessmen in Kombo Abedimo serves as a fitting illustration of the identity crisis still affecting the Bakassi peninsula.

Nigeria officially handed Bakassi over to Cameroon in 2008. About 30 percent of residents have since taken Cameroonian nationality, according to the government. But even they say they still feel Nigerian.

“No matter how long a stick lives in a river, it can never become a snake. I am a Nigerian. I will die a Nigerian,” says Deffand Agnes, a 46-year-old nurse who came to Bakassi from Calabar in Nigeria ten years ago.

Economic ties to Nigeria, too, remain strong.

Obi Emmanuel runs an engine boat between Calabar and Bakassi, regularly shuttling gasoline to the peninsula. This has been his business for the past 25 years.

“Here, we don’t have a petrol station. Without Nigeria, it should have been very difficult, so we consider Nigeria to be very sustainable for us,” Emmanuel says.

The transition

Bakassi started out as part of Cameroon but it attracted so many Nigerians that Nigeria placed it under the administration of Cross River State. Tensions rose, and in the early 1990s, Cameroon troops tried to take it back leading to bloody confrontations with Nigerian soldiers.

Cameroon took the matter to the International Court of Justice which ruled in its favor in 2002.

The five-year U.N.-supervised transition period began in 2008. When it ended, Cameroon created a Bakassi development fund to improve living conditions.

Ndoh Berta Bakata, president of Cameroon’s government commission to develop Bakassi, told VOA that more than $8 million have been spent.

“We need that more workers be sent to the zone to occupy those buildings. When they are there, they will keep safe those structures. We also need to try to ameliorate the conditions of the workers because some of them feel that they are being punished by going there. I must also say that it is a risky zone so something has to be done to improve their working conditions especially putting up electricity and water because that is essential for their stay,” Bakata says.

In spite of the investments, schools in Bakassi look deserted. Agbor Innocent teaches at the government school Kombo Abedim.

“When the children come up to class five (fifth grade), they are taken to Nigeria. They don’t stay in Cameroon. When there is fish, the children come. When there is no fish, they go away and they go with the children,” Innocent says.

Over 90 percent of the peninsula’s 300,000 inhabitants are said to be of the Efik ethnic nationality from Calabar, Nigeria.

*VOA

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Obama’s Greatest Legacy Empowers Next Generation Of African Leaders
August 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

By *

MANDELAAs the Obama presidency is near its end and historians are set to reflect on the legacy of America’s first black president, I can’t help but look favourably on the impact he has had on the continent of Africa.

His legacy is not one founded on the principles of charity, but that of an ever-expanding citizenry that has empowered the next generation of African leadership by way of a White House fellowship program.

The Mandela Washington fellowship, named after the iconic South African leader upon his death in 2014, was started to help empower the next generation of African leadership by president Obama.

Upon its foundation, the president reflected on how the next generation of African leadership will “leave behind for the next generation — and the generation after that — an Africa that is strong and vibrant and prosperous, and is ascendant on the world stage.” Amen to that.

Every year, the program brings its participants to the United States and gives them the tools they need to succeed by way of exclusive leadership training and rich networking opportunities with accomplished leaders from many sectors. Open to those who have looked at the challenges of Africa from youthful and unique perspectives, it aims to change the perception of a continent the Economist magazine once dubbed “the dark continent.”

In 2015 — Marta Tsehay Sewasew, a now 28-year-old Ethiopian social activist and social entrepreneur was among the 500 participants.

She was an attractive candidate with a hefty resume to her credit. Involved in a slew of developmental programs on girls’ education, women and youth economic empowerment, youth leadership, empowerment of young people with disabilities, and adolescent youth reproductive health — she was a posterchild of exemplary citizenship.

For six weeks, she lived in Wagner College, in New York and gained valuable skills. For her, “The six-week leadership program enabled me to enhance my knowledge on civic leadership and civic engagements.” After the conclusion of the training, she was invited to attend a three-day presidential summit hosted by President Obama involving leaders from many sectors.

At the summit, she co-moderated a panel discussion on girls’ education in Africa.

marta tsehay sewasew
Mandela Washington Fellowship recipient Marta Tsehay Sewasew. (Photo: Marta Tsehay Sewasew)

Currently serving as the Ethiopian National Project Coordinator with theInternational Labour Organization (ILO), she volunteers as a board member for Eastern Africa Regional Advisory Board (RAB) for Young African Leader Initiative Program, which plays an advisory role in providing inputs for USAID, IREX (the International Research & Exchange Board) and the U.S. Department of State.

I asked her what the legacy of the fellowship program has been for her. “As a young professional, the fellowship enhanced my knowledge, experience and created a networking opportunity with young, like-minded Africans engaged in developmental activities,” she replied, adding that “the fellowship created an opportunity to learn from the best practices of other Africa countries and U.S. in the area of education, health, environmental protection and civic engagement that can implemented in Africa.”

The formidable leader has initiated an intervention entitled “Mobile for Students Reproductive Health (M4RH).” The intervention provides monthly informative, confidential and youth-friendly text messages on reproductive health for Addis Ababa university students.

The PhD aspirant student in international relations wants to expand her initiative nationally, while looking at ways to create income generation and economic empowerment for young people in her country.

Last year at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, president Obama spokeof an ever-changing continent, where many envisioned a continent where trade, not aid, is the new approach, partnership instead of patrons is the new way and where liberty to choose one’s destiny instead of being dependent should be the future direction of their society.

That is why the Mandela Washington fellowship program is the roadmap to that vision and it may be one of president Obama’s greatest legacies from an international perspective.

*Huffington Post

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Chibok Girls: Wanted Journalist, Ahmed Salkida Replies Military
August 16, 2016 | 0 Comments
Ahmed Salkida

Ahmed Salkida

THE journalist declared wanted by the Nigerian Army in relation to the missing girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Ahmed Salkida, has said that he would soon visit the country to honour the summons by the Army authorities.

Salkida said in a statement made available to an Abuja-based media consultant to security agencies, PR Nigeria that he intended to get a ticket to visit the country as soon as possible. The journalists reputed to have access to the leadership of the Boko Haram stressed that his planned visit to the country would come quicker if the Army authorities were able to send a ticket to him.

He said that he had made personal sacrifices to pursue the release of the missing Chibok girls. Salkida said that his status as a professional journalist who effectively reported the Boko Haram insurgency was known to everybody.

“My attention has been drawn to a public notice put out by the Nigerian Army and signed by Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman, Acting Director, Army Public Relations. The statement declaring me wanted seeks culpable grounds to punish me on account of “last two videos released by Boko Haram terrorists and other findings…” by the Army.

“Clearly, my status as a Nigerian journalist who has reported extensively, painstakingly and consistently, the Boko Haram menace in the country since 2006 is an open book known to Nigerians and the international community. Equally, my total allegiance and sacrifice to the Federal Republic of Nigeria is self evident. I have stayed within the creed of professional journalism in my work.

“As a testimony to the credible and professional values of my access, since May 2015, l have been to Nigeria three times on the invitation of Federal Government agencies. I made personal sacrifices for the release of our Chibok daughters. Finally, the Army is aware that I am not in Nigeria. In the coming days I will seek to get a flight to Abuja and avail myself to the Army authorities. Indeed, my return will be hastened if the Military sends me a ticket.” He said

However, investigation conducted by our correspondent revealed that Salkida who is based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, would arrive the country within the week. A source close to the journalist said that he was making moves to visit the country to respond to the issues raised by the Army.

The Nigerian Army had declared Salkida and two others identified as Ahmed Bolori and Aisha Wakil, wanted in connection with the missing Chibok girls on Sunday. The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, said that the trio were declared wanted in connection with two recent videos released by the Boko Haram. Usman was emphatic that trio had knowledge of where the missing girls were being kept. – Punch

*Realnews

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Cameroon: Boko Haram Trying to Turn Self-Defense Militia
August 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

FILE - Cameroonian soldiers stand guard amidst dust kicked up by a helicopter in Kolofata, Cameroon, March 16, 2016. Part of a multinational force, the soldiers have intensified their fight against Boko Haram militants.

FILE – Cameroonian soldiers stand guard amidst dust kicked up by a helicopter in Kolofata, Cameroon, March 16, 2016. Part of a multinational force, the soldiers have intensified their fight against Boko Haram militants.

Cameroon has been arresting or dismissing members of local self-defense militia in the country’s north amid fears that Boko Haram may be trying to turn some of them against their communities.

Local authorities told VOA the crackdown follows an investigation by security agencies.

Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of the Far North region, expressed concern that Boko Haram militants may be trying to infiltrate Cameroon via the local self-defense groups.

Authorities are screening the groups, Bakari said.

He added that authorities are organizing self-defense groups so, going forward, they’ll coordinate with security forces and denounce suspects.

Crackdown in border villages

Bakari did not say how many of the vigilante group members had been arrested. But local newspapers report that at least 70 have been picked up by the police in a dozen border villages and that the crackdown is still on going.

Authorities did not offer any examples of this alleged cooperation between self-defense group members and Boko Haram and whether it has contributed to any specific attacks.

Last month, Amnesty International accused Cameroon of arbitrary arrests and human rights abuses against suspected Boko Haram supporters. Amnesty said more than 100 people have been sentenced to death since July 2015 in trials it described as “deeply unfair.”

The government slammed the Amnesty report as biased.

Abdoul Garba, who leads a self-defense group in Kolofata on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria, says the insurgents promise better conditions and deceive some vigilantes to work as spies.

Call for better working conditions

FILE - A civilian vigilante carries a bow and arrow while patrolling with the Cameroonian military in Kerawa, Cameroon, March 16, 2016.

FILE – A civilian vigilante carries a bow and arrow while patrolling with the Cameroonian military in Kerawa, Cameroon, March 16, 2016.

Garba said the government should give the self-defense groups food and material to boost their morale. That would improve working conditions and spur volunteers to work as the government expected, he added.

Self-defense groups say they’ve helped the military by patrolling villages and hard-to-reach border areas, but say they need more training for the hard, dangerous work.

Inoussa Hama, a member of a Kolofata self-defense group, said some of his men had been kidnapped and killed. He said they need special instruction to handle overnight shifts from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Cameroon authorities said they’ve reduced the terrorists’ ability to organize large-scale attacks but that the terrorists are trying to replenish their ranks by recruiting vulnerable youths in Cameroon.

*VOA

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