Is it time for Africa to regulate Bitcoin?
January 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
In a continent that has for long been dogged by cash and liquidity challenges, one would think any probable solution would be welcomed and embraced as it emerges but alas in our beloved Africa, we tend to wait until everyone else (and I mean everyone) adopts something before we do.
Bitcoin is a digital currency anonymously founded in 2009 that works in as much the same way as conventional currencies. Since 2009, Bitcoin has been rising in value steadily before astronomically hitting dizzy heights in the second half of 2017. In its first couple of years, many people around the world were sceptical on Bitcoin but as the years passed, many started to embrace and adopt this digital currency.
Despite Bitcoin’s high uptake rate among individuals and corporates globally, only a few namely Canada, Malta and at one stage China regulated and accepted Bitcoin as a legal medium of exchange. However, as countries such as the US, UK and Australia have the highest rates of Bitcoin uptake; we are inclined to forgive the governments of these countries as they have some of the world’s most stable economies and strong currencies. The same however cannot be said of Africa, a continent that has struggling economies at various stages of underdevelopment and a continent that has some of the world’s most highly volatile and inflatable currencies, others like Zimbabwe not even having their own currencies.
Countries in Africa cite different reasons they have not and are currently not considering adopting Bitcoin. However, one of the most cited reasons is that Bitcoin opens up avenues for inter alia the financing of terrorism and money laundering. Notwithstanding the fact that terrorism and money laundering are two evils that need to be weaved out especially the former in North and West Africa, it seems in this case that the positives far outweigh the negatives.
Bitcoin and its underlying technologies’ positives include the potential to facilitate faster transactions, reduce payment costs, reduction in third-party seizures, fully compatible with mobile and allow user anonymity. Juxtaposition the positives and negatives, one would say it’s now time for Africa to start regulating Bitcoin.
A case-by-case study reveals that most African states haven’t yet formulated policies, laws or regulations specifically relating to Bitcoin. Below we look at some selected countries and how their governments view Bitcoin and its underlying Blockchain technology.
Just like most states, South Africa has not explicitly restricted or banned Bitcoin but it has shown some disdain by issuing a public notice through the South African Reserve Bank warning the public on the dangers of using Bitcoin. The South African government, however, became a signatory to the Bitcoin Scaling Agreement in August 2017 and many Bitcoin investors saw this as the first step by the government in warming up to Bitcoin.
Kenya took the same step taken by South Africa in issuing a public notice warning the public from using Bitcoin. It went a step further by explicitly restricting banks from providing loans to start-ups with interests in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies. Despite all this, Kenya remains the largest volume trader of Bitcoin on the African continent.
Officials from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe insist that transacting using Bitcoin in Zimbabwe is illegal though there are no legal provisions to that effect. This has left a gap exploited by many people in this country that has been bedevilled by years of hyperinflation, a weak currency and a limited access to financial access. Zimbabwe’s Bitcoin adoption ranks as one of the highest in Africa.
Bitcoin is unregulated in Swaziland but the government of Swaziland recently made it clear that it will soon be opening up the Swaziland market for Bitcoin. Majozi Sithole, the country’s Central Bank Governor while speaking at the Swaziland Economic Conference in 2017 said that the government is seeking expert opinion relating to Bitcoin and soon the digital currency will be open for everyone to use.
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS VACATIONS® ANNOUNCES 10 % OFF ALL PACKAGES TO AFRICA FOR TRAVEL IN 201
January 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
Air-Inclusive Packages on Sale through February 28th*
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Any package booked by February 28th for travel in 2018 will offer special savings of 10% off. Now is the time to visit one or more of the many exciting destinations Africa has to offer. SAA Vacations® specializes in providing an amazing African experience and travelers can have full confidence that they are getting the best value for their money.”
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This special discount is available for new reservations made by February 28, 2018, for any air-inclusive package offered by South African Airways Vacations®. To take advantage of the 10% discount or for more information, travelers should contact their professional travel consultant or call 1-855-359-7228. South African Airways Vacations® offers vacation options for all budgets, with African Specialists on hand to ensure clients experience the vacation of their dreams. For a complete overview of vacation packages to Africa, visit www.flysaavacations.com.
A division of South African Airways (SAA), South African Airways Vacations® (SAA Vacations®) is highly regarded for its wide array of affordable luxury packages to Africa and uses SAA’s extensive route network to create packages for travel throughout South Africa,Botswana, Victoria Falls, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Ghana and the Indian Ocean Islands.
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South African Airways (SAA), South Africa’s national flag carrier and the continent’s most awarded airline, serves over 75 destinations worldwide in partnership with SA Express, Airlink and its low cost carrier Mango. In North America, SAA operates daily nonstop flights from New York-JFK and direct flights from Washington D.C.-IAD (via Accra, Ghana and Dakar, Senegal) to Johannesburg. SAA has partnerships with United Airlines, Air Canada and JetBlue Airways, American Airlines, Virgin America and Hawaiian Airlines, which offer convenient connections from more than 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada to SAA’s flights. SAA is a Star Alliance member and the recipient of the Skytrax 4-star rating for 15 consecutive years.
NEPAD/ACBF sign MOU to support Africa’s transformation and implementation of Agenda 2063
January 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African
Capacity Development Foundation (ACDF) have signed a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) to build partnerships for supporting the
implementation of Africa’s socio-economic transformation.
According to Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of the
ACBF, the two parties now endeavor to engage more strategically on
areas of common interest based on Africa’s emerging capacity needs. He
also added that that is why the two organisations are now formally
renewing and stepping up their level of engagement.
According to Professor Nnadozie, ACBF’s relationship with NEPAD
dates back to January 2004 when the two parties engaged into an MOU
that sought to establish a partnership between the two organisations
in matters relating to capacity building.
It is reported that a number of activities have been implemented
under the MOU, with ACBF directly investing $2 million, out of which,
NEPAD managed to absorb about $1 869 244.
The MOU will provide a framework of cooperation to facilitate
collaboration between ACBF and NEPAD focusing on the strengthening of
capacity development in Africa for the effective implementation,
monitoring and evaluation of Agenda 2063 and its 10 year plans.
Nnadozie added that priority areas of mutual focus will include
implementation, monitoring and evaluation of capacity development in
the first 10year plan of Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030, joint
implementation of African Union AU/NEPAD 2015 to 2025 capacity
development plan for Regional Economic Communities on institutional
development for effective implementation of regional development plans
and agenda 2063, joint implementation of findings from ACBFs
assessment of Regional Economic Communities capacity needs,
partnership in the design and implementation of critical technical
skills development programmes at country and regional levels,
cooperation on development and publication of the ACBF flagship Africa
capacity reports and other capacity development knowledge products
such as tools, guides and case studies in Africa’s priority areas of
The other focus will be to jointly mobilise resources for the
implementation of the areas of collaboration.
Asked by the Pan African Visions to reveal the cost of the new MOU,
Professor Nnadozie said that they were in the process of doing the
costing and would come up with the appropriate amount soon.
Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD agency signed the MOU on
behalf of his organization.
Africa’s Generational War
January 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
Last year was a good one for the continent’s autocrats. But young Africans have launched a democratic revolution — and they’ve got the numbers on their side.BY JOHN GITHONGO*
NAIROBI — In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta finally secured a second term on Nov. 28 after two flawed elections, outbreaks of violence, and a series of court battles. Across the continent in Liberia, the former soccer star George Weah won a presidential election after a similar court battle had delayed that country’s first peaceful democratic transfer of power since 1944. And in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe was finally deposed last year after 37 years in power — only to be replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, a ruthless former national security minister responsible for some of the regime’s bloodiest excesses.
It has been a dizzying few months, but two important but contradictory trends have emerged. The first is the deepening of a democratic recession, made evident by the recent assault on presidential term limits in places such as Rwanda and Uganda. This process has been driven by elites’ development of new and subtle forms of political and electoral manipulation — including the use of counterterrorism laws, financial aid from Western nations, and geopolitical arm-wrestling over resources with China — to stymie the political opposition and entrench the power of ruling elites.
The second trend is the continuing resilience of political optimism among African voters, especially the youth, who overwhelmingly support democracy. Young people made up the bulk of demonstrators who battled with police in recent months from Togo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Kenya and Zambia. Their optimism has been buoyed in part by the rise of an aggressively independent media, the maturing of institutions such as the judiciary, and by the explosion of nongovernmental organizations fighting to hold governments accountable despite increasingly restrictive conditions.
Indeed, a massive generational struggle is now underway between entrenched elites and impatient youthful populations across the continent. In several countries, institutions that were once firmly under the thumb of elites are showing glimmers of independence — from the media (including social media) to the church and the judiciary. Never in Africa’s independent history has such a broad alliance stood for democracy against elites with deep financial and security ties to powerful countries in the wider world
The question now is whether this grassroots democratic consolidation, exemplified by the massive anti-Mugabe protests and the armies of lawyers and human rights campaigners fighting for transparency in Kenya, can check or begin to reverse the tide of authoritarianism being unleashed by elites from above.
In the long term, demographic shifts make democratic change seem inevitable. Africa’s population is the youngest, fastest growing, and, in many places, the most rapidly urbanizing on the planet. The individuals driving this youth bulge are increasingly globalized in their aspirations, more digitally savvy than preceding generations, and far more impatient with the authoritarian leaders their parents long ago learned to tolerate.
But change won’t happen overnight. Political transitions in Africa have always been fraught affairs. It was far worse in the first three decades after most sub-Saharan African countries gained independence in the 1960s, when civil wars raged across much of the continent and coups were all too common. Since then, losing an election or handing over power because of constitutional term or age limits has become less of a novelty, even if the Sudanese telecoms billionaire Mo Ibrahim has found few deserving recipients for his $5 million prize for democratically elected heads of state who step down on time and with a relatively clean slate. (Since the annual Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership was created in 2006, it has been awarded only five times.)
In the 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall heralded the reintroduction of multiparty politics across the continent, 48 new constitutions were promulgated in Africa. Thirty-three of them included term limits for heads of state — most of them two five-year terms. But by 2015, a dramatic reversal was underway. In at least 24 of the 33 countries with term limits, attempts were made to remove them — half of them successful, as was the case in Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Elsewhere, authoritarian leaders clung to power through other means — by delaying elections indefinitely, as President Joseph Kabila has done in Congo, or by rigging them cleverly enough to pass the muster of international observers, as Kenyatta has done in Kenya.
Aiding and abetting this trend toward authoritarianism were Western countries worried about the spread of Islamic extremism in Africa. The United States in particular has lavished military and counterterrorism aid on African governments with little regard for their democratic credentials — so long as they were willing to fight jihadis. In many cases, these governments grew more repressive, using anti-terrorism legislation and other legal and extralegal instruments to cow the opposition and silence dissenting voices while U.S. security assistance continued to flow. Niger experienced an erosion of political rights between 2015 and 2017, according to Freedom House, while its government deepened military cooperation with the United States. Other important U.S. allies, such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Cameroon, and Chad, have experienced democratic backsliding or were authoritarian to begin with.
Kenya’s story is particularly disappointing. It has been one of America’s most important counterterrorism partners in the troubled Horn of Africa region and also had the dubious distinction of leading the continent in extrajudicial killings by the police in 2016, according to Amnesty International. Abuses by the security forces marred the most recent election campaign as well, with more than 60 Kenyans killed by the police between the Aug. 8, 2017, election and the court-ordered rerun in October. None of these murders has been successfully investigated, and Kenyatta later praised the police for their actions during the election period.
There have also been attacks on organizations promoting human rights and good governance, many of which sought relief from the courts, which were themselves under attack by Kenyatta. Last September, Chief Justice David Maraga was forced to make a rare statement pleading for the security of his judges after the president threatened to “deal with” the judiciary, and on the eve of the election rerun the bodyguard of the deputy chief justice was shot in broad daylight in an apparent assassination attempt. Kenyatta’s subsequent victory came amid an opposition boycott and 39 percent turnout — the lowest in decades. For the first time in 50 years, Kenyans boycotted the country’s Independence Day celebrations on Dec. 12, forcing the president to address a near-empty stadium.
As leaders have rolled back democratic gains, the attitudes of ordinary Africans toward democracy and its accompanying freedoms remain robust. According to a 2016 Afrobarometer poll, 67 percent of Africans prefer democracy to other forms of government. Meanwhile, the independent media continues to blossom across the continent; whereas in the 1980s there were only a handful of countries with a free press, the media in Botswana, Ghana, South Africa, Cape Verde, Comoros, Burkina Faso, Niger, Lesotho, Kenya, Ivory Coast, and a number of other countries have become an essential part of the democratic infrastructure. Organizations that didn’t exist two decades ago have come to play a similar role in ensuring political accountability.
And although Kenya’s recent elections were deeply flawed, the government didn’t dare choke off the internet or shut down social media, as more authoritarian regimes such as Ethiopia’s and Uganda’s have done in recent years. That’s because Kenya’s oligarch class — unlike in many other countries in the region — comprises businesspeople, not soldiers. The internet and financial technology are essential to the country’s vibrant and increasingly globalized economy.
Across the continent, the trend at the grassroots level is toward more democracy, not less. Authoritarian leaders are still clinging desperately to power, and in the short term they may well succeed in halting or reversing democratic strides. But the younger, more impatient generation now coming of age has corrupt, authoritarian elites squarely in its sights. In Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s resignation is merely the beginning of the next chapter in the country’s democratic journey — one that will pit the pro-democratic youth against the corrupt old guard.
Democracy is messy, and the next phase of this generational contest will be messy, too. But Africa’s youth are redefining the rules of political engagement and will determine the continent’s future.
*Culled from Foreign Policy.John Githongo is the chief executive of Inuka Kenya Trust and a former permanent secretary to the Kenyan government on governance and ethics.
Activity Expands in African Economies on Stability, Demand
January 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
PMIs show expansion in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda
South African index remains below neutral level of 50
Business activity in some of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest economies is expanding due to increased demand and the return of political stability.
Purchasing Managers Indexes published on Thursday showed expansion in companies in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia in December. In South Africa, the continent’s most-industrialized economy, the index fell and remained below the neutral mark of 50 for the fifth straight month as the fiscal outlook remains challenging and the risk of further sovereign credit-ratings downgrades persists.
“The PMIs indicate that sub-Saharan African economies entered 2018 on a more positive note than at the beginning of last year,” Mark Bohlund, an economist at Bloomberg Economics, said. “The South African PMI reading is in line with our expectation for the strong private consumption growth in the second and third quarters to moderate in the fourth quarter and 2018.”
While economic growth in the region almost doubled to 2.6 percent last year, according to International Monetary Fund estimates, delays in policy changes is a risk to expansion. Output levels in these economies are often sensitive to changes in commodity prices and the political environment.
Ghana held a peaceful election at the end of 2016, with a new government taking over at the start of last year. Kenya’s August vote and the rerun in October were marred by violence and while the incumbent government retained its position, the opposition disputes the outcome. South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two largest economies, will both hold elections next year.
Nigeria’s December PMI rose to 56.8 from 55.2, with the fastest growth in new business received by private-sector companies since Stanbic IBTC Bank and IHS Markit started the survey in 2014. The nation has relaxed some currency controls implemented after the price of oil, its main export, crashed in 2014. That’s helped revive the economy — which contracted in 2016 — even though there are still dollar shortages and the central bank continues to operate a system of multiple exchange rates.
“The rebound in foreign-exchange availability partly due to improvements in the oil sector helped buoy economic growth in 2017,” Ayomide Mejabi, an economist at Stanbic, said in a note. This year, “we expect the Nigerian economy should continue its rebound, perhaps reaching 2.5 percent driven mainly by further improvements in the oil sector and some structural adjustments.”
Kenya’s December PMI rose above 50 for the first time since April and new business and new-export orders increased for the first time in five months. The index was little changed in Uganda at 54.3 and Ghana at 53.5. Zambia’s PMI dropped to 52.9 from 54.7.
“The PMIs indicate that East Africa will continue to outgrow other sub-regions,” Bohlund said.
More governments should be using digital financial technologies to fight corruption
January 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Tidhar Wald*
Economists predict the global economy will grow by nearly four percent in 2018 – the strongest growth rate since 2011. However, if history repeats itself, as it often does, a significant portion of that growth and prosperity could be undermined by the annual cost of corruption – which is estimated to be as high as $ 2.6 trillion, or equivalent 5% of global GDP.
Corruption is not just a matter of ethics, but an issue of vital economic and political significance –being one of the biggest barriers to sustainable economic growth, and development across the globe. It is therefore unsurprising that the fight for greater transparency and to eradicate corruption is gaining momentum globally. The United Nations prioritized it in the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, citing corruption as a major obstacle to economic and social development around the world. Similarly, last July, G20 leaders reiterated their countries’ commitment to fight corruption and create public administrations that are more resilient and transparent.
One sticky impediment to progress is the problem of cash. Every year, hundreds of billions of dollars of government payments and transfers are made in physical cash. Those take the form of government salaries, health payments, pensions or financial support for families in need. However, because they are made in cash, those payments are often difficult to trace, unsecure and inefficient. The anonymity of cash makes those payments vulnerable to skimming off the top and “ghost” recipients who don’t exist.
This is not a minor issue. In 2016 The McKinsey Global Institute estimated that this causes over $110 billion in losses every single year in emerging economies, including countries across Africa.
Thankfully, growing connectivity and technological innovation allows for a shift from cash to digital payments, ensuring these billions of dollars either go back to state coffers or reach the intended recipient in full.
Tangible examples of governments who are leveraging digital finance technologies, in a responsible manner, illustrate the power of this shift. In India, the government has already saved $5 billion since it began paying fuel subsidies directly into citizens’ bank accounts – thereby eliminating non-existing recipients and reducing transaction costs. In Tanzania, the digitization of entrance fee payments in National Parks reduced leakages by 40 percent, resulting in more income to the government. In Rwanda, the digitization of bus fares led to a 140 percent increase in revenues due to the reduction in leakages. In Ghana, digitization efforts, including the country’s biometric database for all civil servants, are expected to create savings of over GHS 250 million in 2017 and improve transparency.
But the benefits go beyond being good for governments. When the shift to digital is done responsibly and responsively to citizen’s needs it can make their lives better. People from Argentina to Kenya have reported they did not have to pay bribes anymore or be asked to pay a percentage of their benefit to a middleman or a corrupt official. Citizens are freed up of the costs of travel to a cash-collection office, saving valuable time and restoring a sense of dignity in their interaction with government.
What’s more, digital payments, when coupled with creating access to an account can unlock unprecedented economic opportunities, particularly for women who are twice as likely to be excluded from the formal financial system. Having an account can make saving more convenient and secure and lower the costs of accessing services that are critical to financial security and growth, such as insurance and credit products.
To be sure, digital payments are not a silver bullet. However, as economies and governments increasingly look for new ways to modernize, leaders must look beyond cash. The citizens they serve are increasingly adopting digital financial tools in their everyday lives—in Kenya, alone, nearly 70 percent of adults use a mobile money account. Governments cannot afford to continue to pay the cost of cash. By committing to shift their payments from cash to digital, governments can seize the potential of digital technologies to save billions and achieve better government for all.
What does the future hold for Africa in 2018?
January 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati*
As the year begins, we all hope that our beautiful continent, Africa, continues to rise in all facets of development. Africa possesses all the necessary ingredients for sustainable development i.e. natural resources endowment and a skilled and technology savvy labour force. However, the major challenge that has curtailed African development pertains to a toxic environment that inhibits sustainable development, innovation and entrepreneurship.
The toxic environment is largely a creation of non-peaceful and sometimes violent transitions of power. With this background in mind, we have drafted a detailed overview of the countries that are going to conduct electoral processes in 2018 so we all can keep an eye as the events unfold in these countries and gauge if Africa is progressing or regressing in terms of democratic transitions of power.
Cameroon 2018 Presidential Election
In October, Cameroonians are going to the polls to choose their new leader. To date, only two opposition candidates, Akere Muna and John Fru Ndi have submitted their names to compete against incumbent Paul Biya who has been in power since 1982. However, it’s only a matter of time before other candidates submit their names for selection come October. Muna is a lawyer by profession and a strong anti-corruption activist who has served as Vice President of the internationally acclaimed organisation, Transparency International. The political field in Cameroon is at best level now, but if opposition parties unite as has been muted in various circles, then the tilt might just be in the opposition’s favour come October. All Africa wants is a peaceful election that recognises the wishes and aspirations of the masses. Hope Cameroon does not fail Africa.
Egypt 2018 Presidential Election
The events of the Egyptian revolution are still fresh in our minds though seven years have since lapsed. Egypt is gearing up for its second presidential election after the revolution and many think the elections will usher in a new wave of change. The incumbent, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a former military commander took over power 4 years ago after ousting the then President, Mohamed Mursi. Sisi’s presidency has however been marked by numerous protests due to some dictatorial tendencies such as banning the independent media and restricting the conducting of opinion polls. Only one candidate has thus far declared interest to compete against the incumbent that is Khaled Ali. Ali has since said if discrepancies appear in terms of how the elections are conducted, he will boycott leaving Sisi to go in a one-man race. Africa, however, hopes it does not come to this.
Mali 2018 Presidential Election
The troubled West African nation of Mali hasn’t had many difficulties when it comes to conducting credible elections. The same is expected this year when the nation goes to an election. The incumbent, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is currently in his first term and is seeking a second term in office. Keita will face Kalifa Sanogo if no other candidates throw their names into the hat before election day.
Sierra Leone 2018 Presidential Election
Sierra Leone will hold its presidential elections on 7 March. Four candidates will be on the ballot paper. These are former United Nations top official, Kandeh Yumkella (National Grand Coalition), former Vice President, Samuel Sam Sumana (Coalition for Change), former military junta leader retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, and current foreign minister, Samura Kamara (All People’s Congress, the ruling party). The incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma is ineligible for re-election after serving his two terms. After contentious elections in its first years after independence, Sierra Leone now relatively holds peaceful elections.
South Sudan 2018 Presidential Election
South Sudan is pushing for elections this year though the conditions are unfavourable for the process. The country is currently at war meaning voter registration will be hampered by insecurity, the government itself says it does not have the adequate resources to conduct elections and the main opposition party leader, Dr. Riek Machar is in exile in South Africa meaning he cannot campaign or hold rallies. The incumbent, Salva Kiir came to power via a negotiated Peace Agreement in 2015 that created a Transitional Government of National Unity with a lifespan of 30 months. The 30 months window closes in February this year meaning the country has to hold elections. Despite the negative factors, President Kiir is pushing for elections in a bid to legitimise his stay in power beyond February 2018. The hope around Africa is that this will not lead to an escalation of the already warlike environment in the country.
Zimbabwe 2018 Presidential Election
There were some dramatic events in Zimbabwe over the past two months that eventually led to the resignation of long-time President, Robert Mugabe who had been in power since 1980. Mugabe’s resignation meant that the newly appointed (by the party of outgoing President, ZANU (PF)) President, Emmerson Mnangagwa will finish off Mugabe’s term. At the end of the term, on or before September 2018, Zimbabwe will go to the polls to elect a new leader. Before the rise of Mnangagwa to the top post, both the ruling party and the main opposition were embroiled in destructive political divisions and fights but basing on the new dispensation, it looks as if ZANU (PF) has regrouped and is now a unified force while the opposition is still showing signs of fissures. Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised a free, fair and credible election thus Africa hopes he will stay true to his word.
Democratic Republic of Congo challenges
2018 is not supposed to be an election year in the DRC but with the way things are going, an election seems to be the only feasible lasting solution. The incumbent, Joseph Kabila was supposed to step down in November 2016 when his term ended but did not and he failed to call for an election at that time. However, reports say the presidential election may be held simultaneously with the legislative, regional and local elections scheduled for December 23rd this year. Several protests in the capital, Kinshasa some violent are now a common feature. Africa’s hope is that the elections are held at the said date and done in a peaceful manner.
South Africa (Two centres of power)
One of Africa’s biggest economic giant, South Africa is currently embroiled in legal challenges aimed at removing the incumbent, Jacob Zuma from power. Zuma’s term runs until 2019 when the country is scheduled to conduct its elections. However, there is a high probability that Zuma may not last until 2019 largely as a result of the emergence of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC’s President. Ramaphosa was elected ANC President in December 2017. Since Ramaphosa came into power, ANC bigwigs have been calling on Zuma to resign or be impeached. The Parliament failed to impeach Zuma last year after countrywide protests about Zuma’s corrupt tendencies. However, the odds are now stacked heavily against Zuma, as both his party and the opposition want him out of office. Regardless of the circumstances that will eventually lead to Zuma’s ouster whether impeachment or via elections, Africa hopes that South Africa will remain unscathed and will continue to raise the African flag high.
Why Africa’s young people are the real winners at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Awards
January 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Benedict Peters*
Almost nowhere on earth is football followed as passionately as in Africa. It is loved by Africans from all walks of life across the continent. This week, I am giving the opening address at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Awards in Accra, Ghana. This has afforded me a good opportunity to reflect on Africa’s relationship with football and how it can help deliver a brighter future for our young people.
I believe we need only look to the Liberian presidential election for a fine example of the transformative power of football. Against the odds, football legend and opposition candidate, George Weah was victorious and today, is President-elect of Liberia, one of Africa’s most popular countries. Weah’s perseverance in the face of an initial unsuccessful attempt is a testament to the endurance football teaches.
Before he was a Presidential candidate, of course, Mr. Weah was an outstanding footballer whose career spanned great clubs like Paris Saint Germain, Marseille, Monaco and even English Premiership giants like Chelsea and Manchester City.
A striker of fearsome reputation, Weah has been described as the greatest footballer to emerge from Africa, confirmed in 1995 when he won both FIFA Footballer of the Year and the highly valued Ballon d’Or. Over a three year period, in 1989, 1995 and 1996, he claimed the top prize of African Footballer of the year, crowning that in 1996 with the African Footballer of the Century award.
The power of a footballer entering frontline politics cannot be overstated, for two reasons. First, it shows that politics is accessible to all, to the ambitious individual who dares envisage a way he or she can contribute to their country’s future. Second, it makes politics interesting and relevant to young people. If our continent is ever to reach its full potential, then it is our young people who are going to deliver it.
Africa’s youth are already shaping today and redefining tomorrow with their creativity, passion and innovation. I believe that the greatest gift that our generation can give them is to continue to provide platforms for aspiration, recognition and inspiration. But the idea of ‘opportunity’ or of ‘potential’ can be an abstract enough concept to adults never mind the younger generation, many of whom have been overlooked by the decisions of governments not to allow funds raised from investment to trickle down into stronger education systems, apprenticeships and advancement.
In football, the notion of opportunity is far from abstract. Football has always been a unifying factor and a great tool for promoting integration and development. But more than that, it is a global currency, a language spoken in the United Kingdom as much as in Brazil, China and Nigeria. And in football we see, most tangibly, the bold young role models and ambassadors of Africa who are inspiring others and have set the pace in their pursuit of excellence.
Of course, we must be careful not to set false expectations. Football is affected by the same attrition rate that applies to other sports in that very many are called but few ultimately make the dizzy heights that many dream of. President Barack Obama pointed out that youth in the United States may have good role models for economic empowerment and entrepreneurship in the music industry, but that it was unlikely that each child would grow up ‘to be the next Lil Wayne’, so children must also work hard in school. The same can be said of football: not all of our children will grow up to be the next George Weah, Abedi Pele, Dider Drogba or Jay Jay Okocha, but these role models still offer young people a concrete example of the hard work that goes into the pursuit of excellence.
The example of football goes far beyond the 22 men or women who stand on the pitch for 90 minutes each week. I know this because I have seen the extraordinary depth of support services that go into creating the finished product of a football match, and the transformative role they play when properly looked after.
Over the last year, Aiteo has been supporting sports development in Nigeria, leading a partnership agreement with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to provide financial Support to the technical team of Nigeria’s national team for the next five years. In the months since, Nigeria has won more games than they have lost and has qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Aiteo has also made significant contributions towards developing the local football by underwriting the costs associated with organising the Federation Cup, Nigeria’s equivalent of the English FA Cup, helping smaller teams grow and improve on the national stage.
With coaching roles, training roles, marketing, advertising, commercial partnerships and merchandising roles all part of the infrastructure of a newly-global Nigerian football team, no child need only grow up to be the next Alex Iwobi if they are to benefit from the transformative power of football. If a footballer can become the head of a nation, they why not a football coach, a medic or a marketing executive?
So, when I stand on the stage this week to open the CAF Awards, the winners will be very clear to me before the awards have even been handed out: the true winners will be every young person who sees that event; sees that the eyes of the world are on Africa and that a future for each one of them exists in which they can go beyond their school, their hobbies, their parents, and truly embrace their potential. Because the way we conceive the future sculpts the present.
*Benedict Peters is Executive vice president of the Aiteo Group
Clinigen extends agreement with Eisai to supply Halaven®, Fycompa® and Lenvima® into 10 African countries
January 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
|All three medicines will be submitted for registration in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, subject to local regulatory approval|
|BURTON-ON-TRENT, United Kingdom, January 3, 2018/ — Clinigen Group plc (AIM: CLIN, ‘Clinigen’) (www.ClinigenGroup.com), the global pharmaceutical and services company, has extended its exclusive agreement with Eisai Europe Ltd. (www.Eisai.com) to obtain the marketing authorisation and subsequently launch Halaven® (eribulin), Fycompa® (perampanel) and Lenvima® (lenvatinib) into 10 African countries.
The new agreement follows the successful launch of Halaven and Fycompa in South Africa in February and July 2017 respectively. All three medicines will be submitted for registration in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, subject to local regulatory approval.
Eribulin is currently licensed in South Africa only for the treatment of women with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer who have received at least two chemotherapeutic regimens for their disease. These would usually include an anthracycline and taxane, unless not suitable. In 2012, breast cancer was the leading cancer among the female population in the majority of countries in Africa and is responsible for one in four diagnosed cancers and one in five cancer deaths in women worldwide.
Perampanel is currently licensed in South Africa only for the adjunctive treatment of partial-onset seizures, with or without secondarily generalised seizures in patients with epilepsy aged 12 years and older. Across Africa, the prevalence of epilepsy varies between 2.2 to 58 cases per 1000 people, with an average prevalence of 15.8 per 1000. The World Health Organisation estimates that in Africa, epilepsy directly affects 10 million people.
Lenvatinib is not currently registered in any of the 10 countries. In Europe, lenvatinib is licensed for the treatment of adult patients with progressive, locally advanced or metastatic, differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC), refractory to radioactive iodine. DTC is the most common form of thyroid cancer. Overall annual incidence globally is about 1/10,000, and the incidence appears to be increasing.
Healthcare professionals can obtain details about any of the medicines mentioned above by emailing Info@EquityPharma.co.za
Benjamin Miny, Managing Director, South Africa, Clinigen, said:
“This agreement builds on the strong partnership we have with Eisai in providing access to medicines.”
“We are able to leverage our extensive distribution network in the region and local expertise to enable access to these important medicines, helping to address the unmet medical needs of patients and their families across southern Africa.”Clinigen Group plc (AIM: CLIN) (www.ClinigenGroup.com) is a global pharmaceutical and services company with a unique combination of businesses focused on providing ethical access to medicines. Its mission is to deliver the right medicine to the right patient at the right time through three areas of global medicine supply; clinical trial, unlicensed and licensed medicines. Clinigen acquired Quantum Pharma in November 2017.
For more information, please visit www.ClinigenGroup.com
About Eisai Co., Ltd.
Drug Education is key to lowering the drug overdose epidemic
January 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
Washington, DC – The deadly synthetic opioid, carfentanil, used to treat elephants, has now been reported to be connected to drug overdoses in Loudoun County, VA. More than 1,100 people in Virginia have died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016. Similarly Prince George’s and Baltimore Counties in Maryland have seen skyrocketing increases in opioid-related deaths in the first part of 2017. In Washington, DC, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has been monitoring deaths involving heroin, morphine and fentanyl for several years and saw a 102% increase in fatal overdoses due to opioid use from 2014 to 2016.
The news is filled with tragic stories.
In response to these opioid overdose epidemics in the greater Washington, DC area, the Foundation for a Drug-Free World announced the launch of its 2018 drug education initiative to fight the rising opioid, heroin and synthetics drug overdose epidemic. The campaign will start with a year-long series of seminars to educate not only those not yet on drugs but those who are working in the drug education field. The role of prevention is key to helping with the drug epidemic. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy stated that, “The simplest and most cost-effective way to lower the human and societal costs of drug abuse is to prevent it in the first place.”
Knowing that drug education is a huge challenge but is vital to the greater DC area, Drug-Free World has been joining efforts and hands with other government agencies and non-profit organizations continuing its goal of many years to help saturate the city with drug education materials to bring about a better understanding of the harmful effects of drugs.
Currently, the legal status of marijuana is not clear to everyone in the District. It has been “decriminalized” and is only legally used in certain areas. The effects of marijuana especially marijuana “edibles” – brownies, cookies, sprinkled popcorn – as well as the effects of lacing synthetic opioids and heroin with fentanyl and deadly carfentanil need to be known. Authorities are reminding citizens never to approach or touch suspected narcotics as in many cases the substances can be inhaled and even trace amounts on the skin can have extremely adverse reactions. Parents must be educated and take responsibility. Youth must be educated.
Drug-Free World is working with government agencies, the police, school personnel, school resource officers and many non-profits making available their educational material including booklets in English and Spanish on 13 different drugs, public service announcements, DVD documentaries on the 13 drugs and an educator’s kit complete with a guide on using the materials. The plan is to help others to use the materials themselves in a way most appropriate for the population being addressed.
Rev. Susan Taylor, Faith Liaison for the program called The Truth About Drugs, stated, “It is up to the community, working shoulder to shoulder with government, to bring about an increase in awareness of the dangers of not only street drugs but prescription drugs as well. Our opioid/heroin problem continues; synthetics in many forms are still used and the truth about marijuana and its actual legal standing are still not well known. We hope to be able to share the educational materials with as many youth and adults as possible so each can make their own informed choice. If everyone knew the harmful effects, the statistics would be going down. We have much more work to do.”
Drug-Free World is offering all of its educational materials for free. More information can be found at www.drugfreeworlddc.org. The Foundation for a Drug-Free World is an international organization with materials in 17 languages and is supported by Churches of Scientology internationally.
Rwanda to host the 20th edition of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA)
December 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Rwanda is set to host the 20th edition of International Conference on
AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) according to the organisers.
The Society for AIDS in Africa was established in Kinshasa in October
1990 during the 5th International Conference on AIDS and Associated
Cancers in Africa, a precursor to the International Conference on AIDS
and STIs in Africa (ICASA).
It is reported that the formation of the Society for AIDS in Africa,
was facilitated by the (W.H.O) to encourage the African continent to
host international conferences on HIV/AIDS, a disease whose scourge
has hardest hit the continent.
It is reported that the move
encourages and empowers Africans to directly address and respond to the
challenges posed by the HIV and AIDS pandemic on the continent.
The Society envisions an HIV free Africa with capacity to confront all
related consequences and diseases. The Society enables a positive
environment for research on HIV and related diseases. The Society for
AIDS in AFRICA (SAA) is governed by an Executive Council drawn from
South, North, East, West and Central Africa. SAA collaborates with
AFRICASO, SAFAIDS, SWAA, NAP+, and Network of Youth in Africa and enjoy
the support of the UN- System, as well as various International
organizations, including the International AIDS Society (IAS)
Since its inception, SAA has successfully organized 19 International
Conferences on HIV /AIDS and STIs in 14 Africa countries.
The 2017 International Conference on AIDS STIs was held in Abidjan –
Cote d’Ivoire, under the theme “Africa: Ending AIDS – Delivering
differently”. Over 6000 delegates from Africa and other regions of the
world convened in Cote d’Ivoire.
On 6th December, 2017, in Abidjan, during ICASA 2017 the Sofitel Hotel
Ivoire, the Minister of Health of Rwanda in the presence of ICASA 2017
President and the ICASA Director and other Executive Board Members, won the bid
to host the 20th International Conference on AIDS and STIs which was
conferred to Rwanda. Rwanda’s selection was a result of a rigorous
evaluation of 3 countries to host ICASA 2019.
With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Minister of
Health and SAA with the strong support of the Rwandan Government, Dr.
Ihab Ahmed, SAA President, officially declared Rwanda as the next host
country of the 20th edition of ICASA, ICASA 2019.
“We are conscious of the momentous task ahead as the host country prepare
for ICASA. We are optimistic that the Government of Rwanda with the good
people of this country through ICASA 2019, will further motivate all
African countries Governments, the International community to devote
more attention, and commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS and other
health related issues in Africa with the aims to end AIDS by 2030,”
the Rwanda health minister said.
It is added that they were appealing to all to closely follow the
of ICASA 2019 and to lend support to Rwanda, so that ICASA 2019
reflects lessons learnt that will further the new direction of the SDG
strategies to move Africa towards stronger Health systems, and the
elimination of HIV, TB and Malaria.
Kenya to host 14th edition of African dairy conference and exhibition
December 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The Eastern and Southern Africa Dairy Association (ESADA) will host the 14th edition of the African Dairy Conference and Exhibition (14th AfDa), the leading African Dairy Conference and Expo, on 20 to 24 August 2018 in
Nairobi, Kenya, according to the ESADA secretariat.
According to the secretariat, for more than a decade now, the African dairy conference and exhibition is the only dairy event in Africa that prides itself in bringing the latest trends and developments in the dairy sector,
giving delegates a deeper understanding of what is happening in the African dairy industry and the world at large.
The event will feature conference sessions tailored to explore strategies for the future of a sustainable dairy industry, policy reforms, domestic dairy initiatives, just to mention a few. Also an exhibition with over 100 exhibitors from over 30 countries is expected to be held.This is expected to feature exhibitors involved directly or indirectly in the dairy sector, displaying new technologies and products.Other activities will include dairy Awards and private workshops and seminars for the dairy sector.