Africa: New Head of AU Commission
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Cristina Krippahl*
New African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat officially takes up his post on Tuesday. But who is Faki and what does he stand for?
A seasoned diplomat and politician, 56-year-old Moussa Faki Mahamat is no stranger to the challenges presented by the top job he was elected to on January 30. He is seen as the architect of Chad’s nomination to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member and also of the country’s presidency of the AU in 2016. He headed the AU Commission on Peace and Security at the Nairobi summit in 2013, which was dedicated to the fight against terrorism. Above all, as a former Chadian prime minister and current foreign minister he has had a decisive say in all the military and strategic operations his country was and is engaged in: Libya, Mali, South Sudan and Central African Republic, the Sahel and the Lake Chad region.
His election as chief executive of the AU thus indicates a very likely reorientation of AU policies towards issues of peace and security on the continent, Liesl Louw-Vaudran of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria told DW: “His country, Chad, is well known for seeing itself as a sort of champion of military intervention.”
His predecessor, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was severely criticized for neglecting the pressing issues on the crisis-riven continent, preferring to concentrate on longterm plans of prosperity for Africa, not to mention her own political career at home. Moussa Faki, on the other hand, has already left a mark in the fight against terrorism, most notably as chairman of the council of ministers of the G5Sahel, a military anti-terror alliance made up of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, of which Ndjamena is the driving force.
His election to the AU Commission is likely to please both Europe and the United States of America, who support Chad in the fight against Boko Haram and other jihadist groups. Chad is also the headquarters of the French counterterrorism operation in the Sahel, Operation Barkhane.
Democracy not a priority
But not everybody welcomed the news. Doki Warou Mahamat, a Chadian who coordinated the campaign against Faki’s election, told DW: “Moussa Faki is on the payroll of a dictatorship. The Chadians are in a state of mourning. You have to clean up your own act before starting somewhere else.”
Moussa Faki is reputed to be very close to President Deby who was reelected in April 2016 for a fifth consecutive term. The outcome was widely criticized because of serious irregularities. Deby has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1990. Both are members of the Zaghawa ethnic group. Analysts note that Deby succeeded in placing a man he trusted at the helm of the AU on the same day that he handed over the rotating presidency of the organization to Guinea, showing the extent of Chad’s influence in the AU and on the continent.
Reforms in the offing
Nevertheless, Faki’s election was not a foregone conclusion. Internal rifts in the AU were highlighted in July 2016 when no candidate won the necessary two-thirds majority at a previous attempt to elect a chairperson, forcing Dlamini-Zuma to stay on for an extra six months. And early this year it took seven rounds of voting before Faki emerged as the winner ahead of Kenya’s Amina Mohamed, long considered the favorite.
While campaigning, Faki, who studied law in Brazzaville and Paris, said that as head of the AU Commission he would want a continent where “the sound of guns will be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories.” While he promised to put development and security at the top of the agenda during his four-year term, he might also want to go ahead with at least some of the reforms deemed necessary to make the organization more effective. “The AU chairperson should be able to make a stand and authorize the sending of AU troops in crisis situations. At the moment, the Commission is sort of beholden to the decision of the 55 member states. Basically, the Commission’s hands are tied,” expert Liesl Louw-Vaudran said. Being a man accustomed to power and who expects to be obeyed, it is likely that Faki will want to change that.
Liberated Africa: Pathways to Self-Transformational Development
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ehiedu Iweriebor*
NEW YORK, United States of America, March 13, 2017/ — In the period since independence in the 1950s, Africa has undergone profound social, cultural, economic and political changes. Some inherited and historically rootless colonialist political and social systems have collapsed, been transcended and reconstituted. Different political systems – single party rule, personal rule and military governments have come and gone. New post-independence political and social systems; economic institutions, professional associations and labour unions, various types – traditional and new and varied cultural expressions have all emerged. Creative efforts to foster effective nation-building, develop a sense of belonging and manage diversity productively have also been made. New political systems, different forms of electoral democracy and democratic government; political parties and groups, varied social and intelligentsia organizations, confident youth groups, civil society organizations are also emerging. Disruptive and traumatic political and social crises have occurred. These include civil wars, secessionist wars, famines, elite generated manipulative ethnicity and deadly intergroup conflicts, and recently home grown and imported religious terrorism and their destructive wars, spectacular damaging actions, the creation of refugees and internally displaced peoples and the generation of general feelings of insecurity.
Social development institutions like health and educational facilities that barely existed under colonialism have been built. For example, vast numbers of schools at all levels including universities and other tertiary institutions – conventional and specialized have been established and dot various parts of Africa. They have produced millions of educated Africans as never existed before in African history. New physical infrastructures: roads, railways, water ways and airports have been built. This is a rough profile of profound changes in Africa since the 1950s.
However, given Africa’s size and vast unmet human, social and economic needs there is no question that substantial as what has been built is, the extant physical and social infrastructures are not adequate or abundant enough.
At the same time, it is quite clear that the physical and social landscapes of Africa today are vastly different from what they were 60 years ago such that it is unlikely that people from those times will recognize Africa of today.
Yet it is also true that there are some aspects of African realities that have not changed substantively or for the better during this period because Africa did not regain, recover or assert its ownership and use of its autonomous self-direction capacities in some spheres over the past six decades. These are primarily in the areas of economic sovereignty, development capacitation, self-actuated development and ideological self-direction. This failure is manifested in such conditions as persistent underdevelopment, the pre-eminence of primary commodities production and export in its economic interactions with the world, import dependency, development incapacitation and poverty generation. It is also manifested in Africa’s ideological subordination to external diktat through the acceptance and implementation of the economic management dogmas and prescriptions of the multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank, IMF and similar bilateral external agencies. These prescribed non-development dogmas include: privatization, deregulation and African states self-withdrawal from promoting socio-economic development and the simultaneous promotion of the ascendancy of “MARKET FORCES, FOREIGN INVESTORS, FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS and FOREIGN TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER ” as the primary and indispensable engines of African economic growth.
The forceful application of these disempowering dogmas through the active complicity of psychologically programmed and ideologically defeated African leaders and elite over the past three decades has yielded or in fact consolidated Africa in its status as under- developed, under-equipped and incapable of development self-propulsion. With African economies arrested in primary commodity export and the mass importation of manufactured goods they are mired in the same exocentric rut and this inevitably results in the export of jobs and import of poverty, therefore recurrent poverty-generation.
This condition and its persistence over this period suggest that IT CANNOT BE RESOLVED WITHIN ITSELF. It has to be transcended by African strategies of psycho-cultural recovery and development capacitation. Psycho-cultural recovery will entail the self-conscious efforts of liberated Africans to peel off the layers of self-deceit, self-delusion, psycho-ideological incapacitation, diminution of African self-worth, self-marginalization of African agency in African development. It would also require the expurgation from African leaderships and elite of their worshipful dependence on outsiders and preference for all things foreign including pre-fabricated solutions that have been introduced into Africa as dogmas of disempowerment and mechanisms of control from the slave trade era to the present. In its various incarnations, African disempowerment was partially procured through various seemingly neutral but ultimately destructive external ideological constructs such as “Christianization”, “Islamization”; European “Civilization” during the colonial era; “Modernization” in the neo-colonial period after independence and its latest expression, as multilateral imperialist “globalism” and dictatorial globalization that ideologically and politically dictates a single, global capitalist and liberal democratic system as the only “approved” economic, political and social and order for all times. This would be composite world of the rich and powerful, and the weak and powerless with Africa at the top.
But all these disempowering political, social, cultural and economic constructs and systems of domination were politically and self-consciously created by organized and mission-driven national and racial elites pursuing the objectives of group ascendancy and global domination. They are not divine constructs imposed on the world. In the same way, liberated Africans can self-consciously choose and work to exit from this state of UNFREEDOM AND INDIGNITY by dismantling and reconstituting the extant world order (as Asians have done) and chose to create and enter the realms of FREEDOM AND SELF-DIRECTION through development capacitation, psychological liberation, cultural recuperation, mental freedom and self-actuated development so as to emerge as powerful participants in the world system as actors not subjects. This is the liberatory imperative.
In order for Africa to assume responsibility for its own transformation and elevation, and be able to undertake self-reliant development and create secure domestic prosperity, it has to create its own specific ideology and strategy of self-development. To do this there are a number of irreducible components that have to be designed and put in place. These are: the recovery and application of African agency in African development, the creation of the liberated African state, establishment of an African development capacitation system, the creation and dissemination of the Affirmative Africa Narrative and African comprehensive military empowerment.
The Centrality of African Agency in African Development
The first requirement of this liberated development strategy and process is the emplacement of African Agency at the centre of African thought and action as the primary psycho-cultural foundation, ideological premise and endogenous propellant for Africa’s self-actuated development. In this context African Agency is the endogenously created psycho-cultural software embedded in societies with which African societies train, organize, motivate, self-activate and direct themselves to accomplish desirable ends individually and collectively. It is the absolute psycho-cultural grounding and ideological ownership of the African project devoid of compromises to any external imperatives. African Agency is grounded on the supremacy of African endocentric thought and motive-forces as the propellants of development as a self-directed imperative.
Without contemporary Africans’ psychological internalization of this understanding and ownership of their development vision and their assumption of complete responsibility for self-actuated development, African societies will remain dependent, underdeveloped and insecure. Therefore the new liberated Africa vision must recognize the absolute necessity of the restoration of African Agency to primacy for any successful African actuated process of transformation. This new perspective is critically important because it has to be realized that one of the major challenges and primary impediment to Africa’s development since independence in the 1960s has been the absence of African Agency in African development as the directive force. This was due to the concerted and largely successful efforts of external multilateral imperialist forces (posing as omniscient advisers) working with psycho-ideologically unprepared and even naive African collaborator-leaders to promote exocentric authority and the corresponding marginalization, diminution and de-activation of African Agency in African development. Consequently, without the unquestioned ascendancy, centrality and directive role of African Agency, African development understood as Africans’ self-equipment for total liberation and radical transformation can never occur.
The Liberated African State
Second, is the imperative of the creation of a new Liberated African State through the rigorous ideological cleansing, psychological re-empowerment and administrative reconstruction of the contemporary politically compromised and disabled neo-colonial African states that are more representative of external forces than national interests.
The decolonization of the colonial African state and the evolution and emergence of the liberated state after independence was disrupted in the 1980s when most African states were captured and disabled by the cancerous ideologies, dogmas and prescriptions of the multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank and the IMF and their bilateral supporters in the context of the economic crises of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Embodied in various formulations and policy diktats such as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), and its unvarying conditionalities: currency devaluation, subsidy removal, trade liberalization and others like deregulation, privatization, poverty reduction; these prescriptions have transformed African states into disabled, compromised, neo-colonial political-administrative contraptions that are responsible to neo-imperialist multilateral institutions and not to Africans. They therefore cannot serve Africa’s interests
This is why it is imperative to create the new Liberated African state. It will be a strong and interventionist developmental state. Its raison d’ etre would be the representation and promotion of national interests. This Liberated African state will be grounded on the affirmation and militant expression of its untrammeled sovereignty; and the absolute non-compromise of national interests to any external agencies, formulations, dogmas and imperatives. It would self-consciously assume and assert uncontested ideological ascendancy. In fact the new liberated state will represent the completion of the decolonization of the African states and the emergence of truly endogenous states. It is only such Liberated African developmental states that can lead to the realization of the African citizens’ expectations for defence and protection, advanced development, material prosperity and freedom from want and colonialist philanthropy, psychological security and empowerment, dignity and equity with all other groups in the world.
The African Development Capacitation System
The third critical requirement is the development and placement of an African Development Capacitation System as the primary motive-force for Africa’s social and economic transformation and creation of advanced societies. This is proposed against the background of the complete failure of the extant neo-colonial economic system inherited and maintained from colonialism. In over five decades of its use and application as the dominant economic management system and growth strategy it has yielded and maintained Africa in a state of development incapacitation, primary commodity exportation, secondary goods importation, dependency, poverty generation, incapacity for self-propulsion, and subjection to the diktat and control of multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank and IMF. It is quite clear that the extant exocentric economic system with its development motive forces externally situated is organically defective, un-reformable and inherently incapable of propelling Africa to the highest levels of development.
Therefore in order for Africa to develop and achieve the highest levels of human development it has to own the instruments and systems of self-actuated development. This perspective is partly based on this author’s succinct definition of Development – as a society’s self-equipment with the resources and capacities for its self-reproduction. Consequently, the African Development Capacitation system is the creation and existence within all African societies of the endogenous capacities to conceive, design, construct, manage and operate projects in ALL sectors of the economy. These include the technological, scientific, managerial and operational capabilities for all facets of modern industrial and agricultural production and development self-propulsion.
Practically, the components of the development capacitation system include the domestic possession and ownership of the following capacities: Project Conception and Design capabilities; Technological Production Capacity or Capital Goods Industries comprising : Engineering Industries for the manufacture of all types and levels of machine tools, industrial machinery and equipment, transport equipment, electrical and power equipment; electronic and professional tools and equipment. Intermediate Goods Industries (Metals, Heavy Chemicals, Petrochemicals, Paper, Rubber etc); Civil Engineering Construction Capabilities for large, medium and small scale projects; and Project management and operation and supervision Capabilities.
This endogenous development capacitation system is found in all successful global examples of societal self-development as the prime movers of any society’s self-actuated transformation from conditions of UN-FREEDOM: material underdevelopment, mass poverty, indignity and colonialist philanthropy to new empowered conditions of FREEDOM: expressed as self-created material abundance and prosperity, psycho-cultural confidence and dignified existence. This is practically expressed in mass industrialization, modernized mass agricultural production, mass mineral exploitation and beneficiation primarily for domestic use; mass employment, mass prosperity generation; cultural elevation, self-actuation, self-agency, human dignity and societal power. This is in effect the enthronement of the strategy and process of endocentricity and its ineluctable creation and production of a state of development.
The Affirmative Africa Narrative
The fourth basic requirement is the creation and permanent dissemination of a self-elevating paradigm or narrative to be known as the Affirmative Africa Narrative. Currently there is no global African created narrative that conceives, presents, projects and widely propagates a truthful, complex and elevating narrative of Africa and Africans. In its absence there exists a universal externally fabricated, pervasive and routinely propagated perverse perspective on Africa that I describe as the Pathological Africa Narrative. This narrative which evolved from the era of the European slave trade; was expansively propagated and consolidated during colonialism and has been fine-tuned and expanded since independence to the present to include other foreign propagators like Asians and even Africans. It presents an image and impression; perception and narrative of Africa as a world of deficits, lack, deprivation, absence, danger, disease, inaction, native incapacity, immobility and a basket charity case that is rescueable only by the self-assigned salvationary efforts of Western multilateral imperialist agencies – World Bank and IMF – their dogmas, experts and prescriptions. This Pathological Africa Narrative is not only inaccurate but it is also dangerous and damaging as it represents the software of African self-denigration, servility, surrender and incapacitation.
In order to pursue the vision of liberated Africa it is imperative to create and propagate the Affirmative Africa Narrative. This would be a robust and unapologetic statement of African accomplishments in all areas of human endeavor since independence despite all internal and external obstacles. It would provide the psychological props and grounding among Africans for their self-representation. The Affirmative Africa Narrative is intended to confront, combat, degrade, pulverize, defeat, eliminate and replace the Pathological Africa Narrative that currently pervades external and internal descriptions and representations of Africa and Africans. In its place, the Affirmative Africa Narrative should become the primary perceptual representation and imagistic projection of an energetic and boundless; resurgent and self-directed Africa.
Consequently, for Africans committed to racial upliftment and continental advancement and empowerment embodied in the new liberated Africa vision, the requisite framework of self-representation, self-projection and self-activation is the Affirmative Africa Narrative. This is thus a necessary and indispensable accompaniment and organic adjunct to the determined pursuit of the liberated African vision and mission.
The Imperative of African Military Empowerment
A fifth requirement of the liberated Africa vision is the imperative of Africa’s military empowerment through deliberate provisions for continent-wide development of military capabilities. In order to meet the defence needs of a self-conscious people and continent determined to assume responsibility for its own self-advancement, self-protection, self-projection and emergence as a powerful and dynamic participant in global affairs, two range of actions are minimally imperative.
First is the establishment and development of military industries throughout Africa to ensure that virtually all military equipment from the most basic to the most advanced are manufactured (not assembled) in Africa. This is will free Africa from its current pathetic situation of dependency for military wares from the countries which participated in the past in Africa’s conquest and colonization as well as from new armament producers and traders. To be militarily none self-equipped and self-reliant is to reside in a state of UNFREEDOM.
The second aspect of African military empowerment is the revival, re-steaming and realization of the long-standing grand visions from the 1960s for continental defence institutions and systems. The founding nationalist and pan Africanist leaders of the 1960s and 1970s, had canvassed and proposed the development a comprehensive continental military defence system. This is was to be known as the African Military High Command. These pioneer leaders envisaged it as a powerful continental defence force for self-protection, internal security issues, intra-continental intervention, conflict resolution, contributions to continental and global peace keeping and management as needed and as a force of self-projection that announces Africa’s global presence. It would also be responsible for the security of African geo-political and oceanic spaces against foreign powers desirous of containing, controlling and constraining Africa by the establishment of their military cordon around the continent.
The over-all rationale for the prescription of Africa’s military empowerment is due to the historical purblindness and psychological incapacitation of African leaderships and dominant elite since independence. In the light of the rapid conquest, colonization and exploitation of African communities after the Berlin Conference between the 1880s-1900s, self-conscious Africans should never have the luxury of forgetting that Africa was conquered primarily because of Western military superiority in arms and armaments. Thus it would seem minimally patriotic, psychologically imperative, behaviourially logical and eminently sensible that such a people and continent should give premium attention to the establishment of a powerful military capacity for defence and offense as indicated by its historical experiences and new status as sovereign states.
Therefore a fulsome strategy for African military self-equipment and a powerful and expansive African Military High Command should be developed and incorporated as part of the liberated development strategy to equip Africa to defend, protect and project itself and to play a dynamic role in global affairs.
The various elements outlined above constitute a new strategy and process of endocentric development or African Liberated Development and their application would produce Liberated Africa. This Africa would be truly self-made: developmentally transformed, ideologically self-directed, politically stable, technologically advanced, industrially developed, socially prosperous, culturally renascent, psychologically assertive, militarily powerful, a globally ascendant continent with self-restored human dignity, an Africa of which all Africans will be duly proud.
*Ehiedu Iweriebor, Ph.d (Columbia) is a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA.
‘Wind of change blowing in African football’
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Piers Edwards*
“It’s time we introduce a new regime,” says Liberian Football Association president Musa Bility ahead of what has been described as the most important Confederation of African Football elections for almost three decades.
African football goes to the polls on Thursday to choose a new Caf president and for the first time since he came to power in 1988, incumbent Issa Hayatou faces a serious challenge.
Only twice before has the Cameroonian run against another candidate and he swept aside both with ease: Angola’s Armando Machado in 2000 (by 47 votes to 4) and Ismail Bhamjee of Botswana in 2004 (46-6).
Bility, who has long been a thorn in Caf’s side after speaking out on several issues, told BBC Sport. “The reality is that football has come to be more active, more democratic, more involving – and we have to do that.
“We have to follow the path of the rest of the world, as Africa cannot afford to be left behind. I believe that Africa is ready for change. This is the first time in the history of (Hayatou’s) Caf that there is a real and possible challenge to the leadership.”
Under the 70-year-old Haytou’s control, African football has changed immensely.
He has, among several measures, overseen the expansion of the Africa Cup of Nations from eight teams to 16, the increase in the number of Africa’s World Cup representatives (from two to five), remodelling and financially boosting club competitions as well as greatly boosting Caf’s finances.
The 2007 introduction of the African Nations Championship, which is like the Nations Cup but only using footballers who play in their domestic league, has proved very popular while it was also on the Cameroonian’s watch that Africa staged its first World Cup in 2010 (in South Africa).
Despite the myriad achievements, Bility believes time is up for veteran Hayatou and that a new leader should steer African football into the future.
He believes Ahmad, who outlined a desire for improved governance, with a commitment to increased transparency and reinvestment in his manifesto, is the right man.
“He’s presented a programme to all 54 countries – I’ve never seen this before,” added Bility.
“Normally, we go to elections and there are no promises. There is nothing to hold the president against. This time around, we have a guy who is running on something we can hold him to.
“The other candidate (Hayatou) does not care to give a programme. He just goes through election after election, acclamation after acclamation. There is no promise made to us, therefore there are no obligations nor broken promises. This is what we need to change.”
With Hayatou’s critics saying he runs African football with an iron fist while relying on a handful of close advisers, Bility believes Caf will benefit from different personnel and fresh ideas.
“It’s not to say that Hayatou has not done much for Africa – African football has come of age – it’s to say that there is no way that you can keep an individual in authority for over 29 years. There is nothing new expected,” he claimed.
“Ahmad is from a country that is struggling to develop football. He understands the difficulties we go through as presidents.”
The southern African football region Cosafa, which encompasses Madagascar, has said it will vote for Ahmad – which accounts for 14 votes (a tally that might be less given Comoros has offered its vote to Hayatou) – while Nigeria and Djibouti have also publicly backed the Malagasy.
Nigeria’s federation president Amaju Pinnick told BBC Sport he believes there is a need to change the “tiny cabal” that runs Caf, so echoing Ahmad who spoke of the need to reconcile the African football family in his manifesto.
There is also a need to repair relations with Fifa, which frayed after Caf instructed all its members to vote for Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman in the football’s world governing body’s February 2016 elections.
When Gianni Infantino assumed the Fifa presidency instead, Caf was left exposed.
“You can see clearly that Caf and Fifa are not moving in the same direction,” says Bility.
“If President Hayatou wins, there will be rancour and I would foresee a period of uncertainty.”
Despite his desire to see Hayatou replaced, Bility is adamant the Cameroonian should be afforded a befitting send-off.
“We’d like to see President Hayatou retire honourably. We’d like to thank him for everything he has done for African football. We want to respect and make sure his time is recorded in history – with due honour given,” he said.
“But at the same time we want to move forward to a new development and a new generation of leaders. This is not a campaign in which we are going to get involved in mud-slinging and bad-mouthing – we just want change.”
African Challenges to African Development
March 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
|By Ehiedu Iweriebor*|
NEW YORK, March 3, 2017– The parlous story of African economic and social development since independence best expressed in the failure to achieve the autonomous capacity for self-actuated development and in particular to create conditions of national and continental modern mass production and prosperity is well known and need not be repeated. It is enough to re-state that Africa’s development failure was because of the leaderships’ choice to retain, maintain and expand the inherited exocentric colonial system of development incapacitation, primary commodity export, import dependency and poverty generation.
The progressive efforts of some African states and leaders to change the system and create self-reliant economies were stymied by the leaderships’ ideological inadequacies and dependency, the balance of payment crises of the late 1970s and 1980s and the subsequent economic crises and decline. This provided the avenue for Western multilateral imperialist agencies the World Bank and the IMF – to successfully infiltrate into Africa, re-colonize African states and convert them into neo-colonial out-posts of the so-called neo-liberal consensus. This framework embodied in the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) with its destructives conditionalities: currency devaluation, trade liberalization, subsidy removal, deregulation and privatization, re-directed the African states to focus on expanded raw materials production and exports and to abandon industrialization and development capacitation.
The application of these anti-development SAP dogmas in the 1980s and 1990s ushered in two decades of deepening indebtedness, serious economic crises, de-industrialization, socio-economic decline, deepening impoverishment and political repression. On the other hand, the period also saw the upsurge of popular democratisation struggles, civil rights campaigns, the restoration democracy, and the establishment of electoral democracy and the decline of military interventions in African politics. In the economic sphere, there were innovative dependency-reducing responses. This was because among businesses there was an increased re-orientation toward local sourcing of well-known agricultural and mineral endowments to expand production. This led to the emergence of new economic sectors and especially the expansion of cottage, small and medium scale consumer goods industries which were operationally autonomous due to the increased utilization of local resources for production and self-development.
In addition there was relative political stability and policy and institutional the support for businesses through the creation of enabling environments for attracting investments.
It was partly because of these new domestic conditions and the economic self-activation, and the partly because of return of better commodity prices in the first decade of the 21st century that the Western media fabricated and propagated the new view of “Africa Rising”. This became a very popular and re-assuring slogan among some African leaders, politicians and intelligentsia.
However, it was an insecure condition because a “Rising Africa” whose upsurge is generated by increased external demand for primary commodities is essentially insecure. It does not represent genuine African development that is based on expansive domestic production and prosperity generation. It merely reinforces African dependency on primary commodity export and its dependence on the importation of manufactured goods. It is evaporating with the speed with which it was proclaimed.
But there was a more consequential development story of this period that ushered in what this author describes as the Affirmative African Narrative phase of development. This is the progressive assumption by African businesses of the leadership role in promoting national and pan-African development. This new trend of African self-development is captured by the new concept of “Africans Investing in Africa” This is the process by which African industrial, service, and commercial enterprises began to make large-scale investments in many different African countries. The investments involve for example the expansion of Banks, telecommunication companies, trading companies and so on. Examples of these include Nigerians Banks like UBA, Zenith, Access, First Bank; South African banks like Standard Bank and Moroccan Banks; Telecommunication companies such as MTN of South Africa, ECONET of Zimbabwe and GLOBACOM of Nigeria. Others are Shoprite, Coca cola and South African Breweries.
While Africans investing in Africa is becoming common and commendable, it is important to emphasize that NOT ALL African investments in Africa are of equal economic importance or strategic development value. For example, African investments like Shoprite and similar companies which merely establish commercial or trading enterprises that do not add value to African economies are no different from traditional non-African FDI companies that are established to create captive markets for products from their home countries and thereby maximally exploit Africa.
On the other hand, African companies that make investments that are decisive and transformational are those that deliberately promote and advance African development capacitation, through local resource exploitation, mass industrialization, large scale industrial, agricultural and mineral production, and beneficiation for internal use.
In terms of investment for development capacitation through local resource utilization and valorization, the vanguard African company is the Dangote Group. In order to ensure that Africa achieves self-sufficiency in the critically important infrastructure development requirement – CEMENT – Dangote embarked on a pan-African investment strategy to establish integrated plants, or grinding plants or cement terminals in African countries according to their resource endowments. The Group’s ultimate objective is become the ascendant cement manufacturing company in Africa. There is no question that the Dangotean strategy of development capacitation through local resource exploitation, mass industrial production and domestic prosperity-generation is what Africa requires to become the self-actuated mover of its own development and to create a secure development upsurge and continental prosperity that does not depend on the vagaries of external demand for primary commodities.
This Dangotean transformational mission and project is now been threatened by what seems like the unwillingness of African countries to respect and maintain carefully crafted legal investment agreements as sacrosanct documents and binding commitments. Within the past year the Group has faced major challenges as a result of the failure of some African states to keep their sides of the bargain or agreements concluded with Dangote Group. This happened late last year in Tanzania when the government seemed to renege on some elements within the agreements reached with the Dangote Group to give it concessions and incentives for the massive investments of over $500 million dollars that the Group made in the construction of the monumental cement plant in Mtwara, Tanzania. This Dangote Cement plant with its 3 million metric tonnes per annum capacity is the largest cement plant in Eastern Africa. In addition to the cement plant, other associated Dangote development projects include the construction of a coal power plant and a jetty. While these are primarily beneficial to the Groups business, they also represent important investments and permanent additions to Tanzania’s power and sea transport sectors.
Together these projects have generated significant direct employment opportunities and as they mature and attain full production capacity the multiplier effects in various sub-sectors would be expansive and extensive, thereby creating prosperity and income in the community as well as revenues for the local, regional and national the governments. But due to the problems Dangote had to temporarily shut down the plant; and after negotiations and assurances that restored the original terms, the plant resumed production. This Dangotean Tanzanian experience of government infidelity to the sanctity of agreements can only create profound doubts among business people on the readiness of African states and leaders to move Africa forward.
But the Group’s challenges in Africa are not over. Just recently, in Ethiopia, the regional government of Oromo Regional State where Dangote’s new over $400 million dollar, 2.5 million metric tonnes per annum cement plant is located came up with new conditions that are bound to disrupt the operations of the Dangote plant. In what it claimed is an attempt to provide employment for jobless Oromo youth it decided to withdraw all mining licences and agreements already concluded with Dangote and similar other companies with mining concessions. In its place the regional government claimed that it would create youth owned companies that would now supply the minerals required by the cement and other plants.
This action of the Oromo regional government in illegally annulling legally approved mining agreements with the Dangote Group and other companies raise major questions on the genuine preparedness of African states, politicians, and bureaucrats to foster Africa’s self-development through Africans investing in Africa. Without question the action of these governments represents major challenges to Africans assumption of responsibility for their development and the emergent Affirmative Africa Narrative. In fact at its core, these anti-investment actions are a repudiation of the long-standing aspirations of Pan-Africanism and its advocates, and the practical commitment of the continental organizations like the former Organization of African Union (OAU) and the current African Union (AU) to promote African-led development through investments, intra-African trade and exchange, as instruments for creating secure African development and domestic prosperity-generation.
This is a good example of how some African leaderships’ represent serious obstacles to African development. Quite clearly any aspiration for Africa’s take off through self-actuated development as represented by the transformational efforts of Dangote and similar committed pan-African economic revolutionaries is weakened by such leadership unfaithfulness, irresponsibility and lack of serious commitments to African investors.
Despite these set-backs, it is important for African states and the continental and regional economic groups to reaffirm their commitment to African-led transformational industrial development as the basis for Africa’s capacitation for self-actuated development. In this light, it is imperative for the AU and its various economic agencies to design Continental Investment Protection Agreements that would commit African states to respect and uphold already approved agreements and avoid arbitrary nullifications of legally binding instruments. An additional guarantor is for each African state to negotiate investment protection treaties with each other. In fact this is especially indicated for countries such as Nigeria where investors are increasingly embarking on Pan-African development investments.
Finally, pan-African transformational investors like Dangote should remain committed and not be discouraged by these clearly disruptive actions of hapless, backward and anti-African development leaders. The Dangotes’ of Africa as continental transformational vanguards should remain firmly committed to their chosen paths of legal profit making and simultaneous contribution to Africa’s transformation, economic development, prosperity-generation, psychological liberation, and the restoration of Africans dignity and equality with others in the world. These are worthwhile and enduring ideals and challenges that transformational revolutionaries and societal game-changers are bound to encounter and overcome so as to create new worlds.
*Ehiedu Iweriebor is a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA.
UN, Regional Forces and the Need to Save Humanity
February 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
Terrorism is man’s new evil with the capability for self-extinction to mankind. It is crude, barbaric, cruel and inhuman. God Almighty frowns at it. Humanity has cursed it. Nations and countries of the world are fighting it to a standstill. The United Nations (UN), that world assemblage of civilized nations, is bitter and enraged with it.
Except the sadists who perpetrate terrorism, the evil is abhorred and resented everywhere and by every right thinking human. Yet, the mystery is that it has continued to rise and spread its tentacles to cover more grounds and nations.
Nigeria’s experience with Boko Haram terrorism is still fresh in memories, since 2009 when its atrocities on Nigerian people reached the pinnacle. The deaths, the brutal killings, the arsons, the destructions of property, the dislocation of social and communal life, the displacements of people and other mass inconveniences it created are the sad multiple relics of this evil on the land.
Though, Nigerian Military has defeated this obnoxious sect, the unalterable truth is that Boko Haram terrorists have not been completely wiped out from Nigeria, in the sense that the remnants have taken refuge in countries near Nigeria. And from time to time, they recuperate and gather momentum to strike obscure and soft targets in the country.
By this evidence, it is clear; terrorists are funded, trained and supplied with weapons in foreign countries to continue with their atrocities in Nigeria and other neighbouring countries. The unanswered question is; why is the shadows of some countries behind the evil of the festering and flourishing terrorism? And these suspected countries are members of the UN and also, some subscribe to the dozen region bodies in Africa, whose main mandate is to promote unity, peace and security, but none is being rebuked or reprimanded on account of support for terrorists?
The resolution is reviewed every two years. And for every member state, the United Nations and other appropriate international, regional and sub-regional organizations’ efforts are expected to heighten on implementing it in an “integrated and balanced manner… to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism”.
Nigerians are really worried that the UNSC is failing in its duty to assist nations to overcome terrorism, as in the case of Nigeria, by its somewhat hesitation to invoke the necessary disciplinary measures on erring countries to serve as deterrence. The impression being created is that someone somewhere has suppressed action on the law because Nigeria is involved?
But there is need to remind the world like it is acknowledged globally that Nigeria is the giant of Africa and a restive Nigeria would cause spiral disruptions to peace and security on the continent, which will in turn affect the much canvassed global peace and security. No one stands to make any gain from this conspiracy against Nigeria, especially as it concerns terrorism. Besides, what happiness would the world derive from the continued bloodletting and massacre of Nigerians by terrorists? Absolutely none!
Nigerians in diaspora should begin to pay more attention on the issue of terrorism in their country. A peaceful protest to the UN House in New York, and foreign embassies to demand for action and justice would not be a bad idea. It will reawaken the consciousness of the world to the predicament of Nigerians back home.
International election observation is decades out of date. I should know.
February 27, 2017 | 0 Comments
I helped design the first African election observation mission in 1980. The world’s transformed since then, but they’re still using the same old model.
In 1979, I was a member of the Commonwealth Secretariat, an organisation that played a major role in the negotiations that led to Zimbabwe’s independence. One of the preconditions for majority rule agreed in the Lancaster House talks was that elections would be held and that they would be independently observed.
In January 1980, the month before these elections, the Commonwealth Secretariat sent a small party to what was then still Southern Rhodesia to establish a headquarters and work out whether and how this observation could be conducted.
We had no detailed instructions. Electoral observation had not been attempted before, certainly not on this scale. So two of us – Peter Snelson and I – conducted a rapid reconnaissance of the country in a single week. Our report formed the only field input for the plan then devised by Moni Malhoutra.
Both in this first week and in those that followed, we had no advanced idea of what we were doing. But our improvisation in hazardous conditions assumed a pattern and, ultimately, partly through luck, we were able to do an imperfect but respectable job given the circumstances and conditions.
Since then, I have witnessed several more African elections and seen how independent observers’ processes have become bureaucratically more robust (or fussy). However, it amazes me that despite all that’s changed in terms of how elections are conducted and fought, and how technologies have progressed, today’s observers are still essentially using the same semi-improvised, low-tech methods and models we devised in a hurry 37 years ago.
Of course, some things have changed since 1980, though not always with positive results.
One of the earliest decisions of the Commonwealth team in Zimbabwe was that observation had to be decentralised. Officials were rotated around different zones on a weekly basis, while a small secretariat remained in place in each area to prepare for the polls and liaise with the various political parties and security forces.
By and large, modern electoral observation still seeks to spread officials across the country being observed. But today, it does so without the rotation of observers, without the aim of being present for more than a month before Election Day, and without on-site secretariats. Moreover, it tends to avoid war zones or volatile areas.
In the 2010 South Sudan elections, for instance, UN peacekeeping bases were meant to provide accommodation for observers, but the Chinese and Kenyan camps did not comply. Although the Ukrainian and Canadian ones did, many regions were under curfew, so officials were discouraged from travelling to certain areas for fear of being stranded. It was often these regions that were most in need of scrutiny.
Another aspect of observation that has developed – and arguably progressed – since 1980 has been the use of bureaucratic check lists. These are indicators of good performance that can be easily tabulated to give ‘scores’ for different aspects of electoral conduct.
For example, there are now generally tick boxes for whether party agents are the right distance from the polling desks; whether special assistance was available for the disabled and elderly; whether all documents, ballots and ballot boxes were in place; whether voters’ rolls were accessible, and so on. The 1980 Zimbabwe observation sought to check similar indicators of good polling practice but without formal checklists.
However, one result of these two shifts – the rise of the tick-box, combined with a diluted version of decentralised observation – is that scrutiny of elections has become heavily focused around the day of voting itself.
Observers are dispersed to their stations just a few days prior to the vote, and governments and electoral commissions concentrate their energies on mounting an Election Day that conforms to international norms, precisely for the benefit of international officials.
This means that the preceding weeks of campaigning around the country get much less scrutiny. Yet it is in this period that systemic violence, widespread bribery and unjust infringements on freedoms of movement and expression can ensure that an election is far from “free and fair”, even if voting day itself is exemplary.
Despite some changes in practices though, the basic principles and models of election observation have changed relatively little in 37 years. However, in that same period, the nature of elections and of attempts to manipulate their results have changed quite dramatically. The age of dictators stuffing ballots and winning with an implausible 90% vote share is over. Today, when elections are stolen, much of the work is done after votes are cast and in sophisticated ways that deliberately mirror real voting patterns.
This new trend could be seen as early as a decade ago in Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections. At the time, the ruling ZANU-PF had never been less popular as the economy was tanking and hyper-inflation was running wild. Despite these problems, however, the party seemed so confident of victory that its campaign was half-hearted and shoddily executed.
It was caught unprepared then the day after the 29 March polls closed, when initial results from polling stations showed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai leading President Robert Mugabe by a factor of around 2 to 1.
Soon, the announcements slowed, then ceased altogether. The electoral commission called for patience and cited technical issues and the need for recounts.
What happened next is subject to many rumours and may never be known conclusively, but it was not until several weeks later that the official results were finally declared on 2 May. Despite the opposition’s projections and several earlier predictions of a first-round victory for Tsvangirai – some by a large margin – the electoral commissions declared him to have received just 47.9%. Short of a majority, a second round run-off would be required.
This was clearly no ordinary rigging. The time it took shows that painstaking efforts were taken to maintain a degree of credibility. The results had to be adjusted according to figures that had already been independently verified and they had to be manipulated to plausibly mirror the outcome of the parliamentary elections as well as previous voting patterns. A month to do all this was actually probably very good going.
This was one of the earlier examples of such sophisticated manipulation, but since then, it has become far more common for election results to be adjusted centrally in a subtle and somewhat believable manner, all beyond the gaze, remit and capacity of today’s observation missions.
Towards a new model
So how can election observation be made to match old and newer challenges in order to provide a genuine check on the conduct of elections?
Firstly, observation needs to be conceived of as a broader affair. It cannot be condensed into a short period of time, nor should it be seen as the exclusive activity of the accredited observer group. Civil society and other observer groups should be part of the process too.
An advance team of experts – or those briefed on the constitutional, electoral, and political affairs of the country – should be in place as a reconnaissance unit at least a month before polling day. And that team must be energetic and mobile, traversing the country. Observation is no country for old men, nor old women, the unfit, timorous or easily frightened.
In the 2010 Sudan elections, we took a simple executive decision: if we saw a European Union, African Union, or Carter Centre car, we weren’t out far enough. We kept going until there were no other observers for miles around, but then asked ‘why?’
Furthermore, officials need to know what they are looking for. For instance, subtle intimidation by means of cultural signs or local language may not be picked up by foreign observers, especially those veterans of the system who may be motivated more by the per diems than ensuring a fair ballot.
A youthful party militant rattling a box of matches – a silent promise that people’s property will be burnt if they vote against the government – can go unacknowledged. A euphemistic threat in a local language can slip under the radar. And the strategy behind targeted but seemingly low incidences of violence can easily fail to be fully appreciated.
Secondly, observation needs to adapt to current challenges. Insofar as African governments now prepare almost immaculate polling days – feats of organisation involving thousands of stations – election observation has accomplished something. But it needs a more extended and sophisticated presence during and after campaigning, including regarding the counting of votes and the testing of the count.
As Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections demonstrate, it is crucial to have officials present at all stages of the count as well as its verification. The process of counting needs to be carefully observed, but so does the moment that the electoral commission, party agents and accredited observers agree that the count reflects the parallel vote tabulation (PVT) – a methodology for independently verifying the results conducted concurrently – and when this agreement is transmitted.
Additionally, the official results should be tested against these PVTs as well as opinion polls and patterns from previous elections. The count at each stage must be tested against computer projections, calibrated according to results already submitted as well as a range of different conditions such as constituency type, electoral histories and voting patterns. This would give a measure of the plausibility and trustworthiness of the numbers being checked and announced.
This kind of number crunching is already done in many cases, not just by foreign “consultants” allegedly brought in by incumbents, but also by other interested parties and foreign embassies, though not for public release. It is time observer groups were given the same resources and capacity.
Having witnessed, or been involved in, election observation since 1980, seeing the state and effectiveness of observer missions in Africa today is highly dispiriting. Citizens depend on elections being free and fair to ensure their voices are heard, and observation therefore needs to be reflect the contemporary realities and challenges, not simply replicate a model cobbled together three decades ago.
The protection of electoral democracy today and tomorrow requires tools that cannot simply be borrowed from yesterday.
This is an abridged version of an article originally published here at Democracy in Africa.
*African Arguments.Stephen Chan is Professor of International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.
How Trump’s African Team May Shape Up
February 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
On The Heels Of Phone Call to Leaders Trump Administration Working on African Team
By Ajong Mbapndah L
With little mention of Africa in the course of his campaign, many are still scratching heads on what the African Policy of the Trump Administration will look like. A month into office,clues are few, but sources close to the Administration say slow but steady progress is been made to put in place its African team.
Administration sources familiar with the buildup of the African team say President elect Trump accepted a congratulatory call from Rwandan President Paul Kagame back in December. Reports about a meeting between Trump and Congo’s Sassou Nguesso in December were discredited when a trip to the USA by the Congolese leader ended without any encounter with President elect Trump.
On February 13, Trump had phone conversations with Nigerian President Buhari and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Though Nigeria and South Africa boast the largest economies in the continent, sources were unclear about the choice of just these two leaders, considering that the US maintains close security ties with other countries like Kenya and Uganda.
Discussions with Zuma were centered on prospects of maintaining and broadening the strongly diplomatic ties between the two countries according to South African government Officials. With about six hundred USA companies operating in South Africa, economic ties obviously came up in the discussion sources from Zuma’s office said.
Although ailing President Buhari was not in Nigeria at the time of the call, a Presidential Spokesperson said, ““President Trump assured the Nigerian president of U.S. willingness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism.”
Prior to the forced resignation of General Michael Flynn as the National Security Adviser, African policy watchers were perplexed with reports that the CIA denied a security clearance for Robin Townley, appointed to serve as Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. With the appointment of a new National Security Adviser, it is not yet clear what role will be reserved for Townley one of the officials in Trump world with on the ground experience in Africa where he served in Somalia.
Sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Rex Tillerson is still to put in his own team. Given the length of the vetting process, it is unlikely that most of the positions will be fully staffed before June 2017, said the source close to the Trump Administration.
Appointed by President Obama to serve as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, sources say Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield was as asked to stay on the job until a successor is found. Highly respected within African policy circles, Ambassador Greenfield was actually mandated by the Trump Administration to represent the USA at the official inauguration of Gambian President Adama Barrow on February 18. The race is on for the replacement of Greenfield who is expected to leave office by March 10 for Georgetown University, where she will serve as a visiting Fellow.
Informed sources cite Dr. J. Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council, Colonel Charles Snyder, former special envoy for Sudan; and Dr. Kate Almquist Knopf of the National Defense University as leading contenders to replace Ambassador Greenfield as the leading US government Official on Africa.
Snyder, who currently teaches at the Institute for World Politics in Washington, is also a possible candidate to replace Amanda Dory as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs. The post may also be given to Michael Phelan, currently a top legislative aide to Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
As for Almquist Knopf, sources cite her closeness to former Obama Officials like Susan Rice and Samantha Power (National Security Adviser and UN Ambassador respectively) may play to her disfavor.
A familiar face on Africa affairs in Washington, DC, Peter Pham has used the platform of the Atlantic Council to host debates and discussions with visiting African dignitaries and personalities.
Others in the mix include former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, Cindy Courville, former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union and former National Security Council and Defense Intelligence Agency official. The merits of the candidates are been considered to facilitate prospects of confirmation said the source who cited open opposition to Trump for some, and Lobbying activities of others as of the tiny details that may come into play.
Those individuals who are being seriously considered for the Assistant Secretary of State position are also in the running for alternative posts, such as on the personal staff of the Secretary of State, in the Policy Planning Bureau, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs (“DAS”), or as special envoys to Sudan/South Sudan or to the Great Lakes Region,the sources say.
At the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the likely nominee for Administrator is former Congressman Mark Green (R-Wisconsin), who recently has been president of the International Republican Institute (IRI) and also served as U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania.
Two candidates have emerged to fill USAID’s position of Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa: Gregory Simpkins, a longtime staff director for Chairman Christopher Smith of the Africa subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Lester Munson, former staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who previously held several positions at USAID. Jeffrey Krilla, a former Bush administration State Department official, is likely to replace Amos Hockstein as the Special Envoy in the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, a position that addresses U.S. relationships with oil-producing countries, including those in Africa.
Krilla may also be appointed to a position in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, or USTR, which may also be where business executive and Africa trade expert Anthony Carroll lands. (Carroll is also been linked for an Ambassadorial post, perhaps South Africa.)
There is also a possibility that former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner, who served in the first term of President George W. Bush, may be brought into the State Department for a high-level position by Secretary Tillerson.
Kansteiner has been in charge of ExxonMobil’s Africa operations and is said to be very close to Tillerson, ExxonMobil’s former chairman and CEO. Tillerson may tap Kansteiner for something higher than the assistant secretary level, such as Undersecretary or deputy secretary, or as a special envoy
On Capitol Hill, the leadership on the committees that deal with Africa will remain the same: Senator Jeff Flake continues as chairman of the Africa and Global Health Policy subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Congressman Chris Smith will again be chairman of the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The new Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are Dina Titus (D-Nevada), Norma Torres (D-California), Brad Schneider (D-Illinois), Thomas Suozzi (D-New York), Adriano Espaillat (D-New York), Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), Ann Wagner (R-Missouri), Brian Mast (R-Florida), Francis Rooney (R-Florida), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania), and Tom Garrett (R-Virginia).
Freshman Garrett and veteran Sensenbrenner have been assigned to the Africa subcommittee, along with Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Thomas Suozzi (D-New York). Representatives Ami Bera (D-California) and Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) return to the subcommittee from the 114th Congress. Representative Ed Royce (R-California) remains chairman of the full committee while Representative Ted Yoho (R-Florida) becomes the committee’s vice chairman. Representative Karen Bass (D-California) remains ranking member of the House Africa subcommittee.
The new Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are Todd Young (R-Indiana), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon). Booker becomes the new ranking minority member of the subcommittee on Africa and Global Health and Young and Merkley are newly assigned to the subcommittee, as well.
Ties between the US and Africa have witnessed strong growth under the last two Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama and many are anxious to see in what direction things will go under the Trump Administration.
African Immigrant Population on Rise in US
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Salem Solomon*
The United States is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for African immigrants, with their numbers more than doubling since 2000. Although many are coming from war-torn countries, the immigrants also include large numbers of highly educated professionals.
According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, as of 2015, there were nearly 2.1 million people living in the U.S. who were born in Africa. That number is up from 880,000 in 2000 and only 80,000 in 1970.
Monica Anderson, a research associate and the author of the study, said the numbers are doubling approximately every decade and she sees that trend continuing.
“In 1980 only 1 percent of refugees admitted to the U.S. were from an African country and today that share is about 37 percent. That is one major factor that is driving the growth of African immigrants but it doesn’t tell the entire story,” she told VOA in an interview.
Anderson says various clusters of vibrant immigrant populations are reshaping places like Minnesota, which is home to 25,000 people of Somali origin, about one-fifth of the foreign-born population in the state.
Nigerians make up the largest African diaspora population in the U.S. at 327,000, followed by Ethiopians at 222,000 and Egyptians at 192,000, Pew found. The top destinations for African immigrants to the U.S. are Texas, New York, California and Maryland.
“Many of these places in the U.S. are …having a larger share of African immigrants than they had before,” Anderson said. “In different clusters in the U.S., African immigrants are really reshaping the immigrant population there.”
Still small portion of immigrant population
Despite the increases, African immigrants still make up a relatively low percentage of the total immigrant population. Randy Capps, director of research for U.S. programs at the Migration Policy Institute, said there are both historical and geographic reasons for that.
“It’s a long distance from Africa and the number of people in Africa with sufficient incomes to migrate that far has been relatively small,” he said. “And secondly we didn’t really open up channels for legal African migration to the U.S. substantially until the 1965 Immigration Act and so, like Asian immigrants, there just weren’t very many African immigrants here until starting at that time.”
The Immigration and Nationality Act signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, ensured that quota systems based on national identity were eliminated and allowed the acceptance of immigrants of all nationalities equally. Immigrant families were able to reunite due to this act, also known as the Hart-Celler Act, and skilled immigrants were encouraged to migrate easily.
Today’s African immigrants include tens of thousands of refugees from Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Eritrea. But it also includes highly-educated doctors, engineers and others immigrating to the country in search of a better life.
Capps said that, as of 2013, 38 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 28 percent of all U.S. immigrants and 30 percent of the U.S.-born population.
Will Trump Stop the Flow?
It remains to be seen how changes in U.S. immigration policy could affect the flow of immigrants from Africa. An executive order signed by President Donald Trump halted immigration from three African countries and paused the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
That executive order was halted by a federal court, but the Trump administration has promised a revision.
Another proposal by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., would reduce the number of green cards issued by the U.S. from 1 million to 500,000.
“I see it as more of an open question as to whether fewer students will come, fewer visitors will come, or whether it will be harder for people to sponsor their relatives. I think it’s just too soon into the Trump administration to know if that’s going to be the case,” said Capps.
But barring a major change, African immigration is likely to continue to rise since the U.S. continues to have a strong economy offering opportunities to immigrants.
“The U.S. has a pretty open job market, a strong job market now,” says Capps. “It’s a large job market relative to a lot of other countries that African immigrants might go to and a lot of the African immigrants here are doing quite well. So I think without something more drastic, a bigger change in U.S. immigration policy, there are still going to be very strong pull factors to come to the United States.”
Research Calls for New Approach to Youth Employment Training Strategies in Africa
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Youth Livelihood Diaries Shed New Light on Working Lives of African Youth
Kigali, Rwanda, February 17, 2017 – Innovative research released today by The MasterCard Foundation is making the case for a new approach to youth employment training strategies in Africa. Invisible Lives: Understanding Youth Livelihoods in Ghana and Uganda, released today at the Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, sheds light on the working lives of African youth. The report, produced in collaboration with Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT), argues that international development programs favour skills training for formal sector careers over training that can be applied to multiple jobs in the informal sector. The result is that their efforts fall short of reaching the millions of unreached youth on the continent who engage in mixed livelihoods.
“To reach a critical mass of young people, fundamental shifts in our approach to skills-building, access to finance and entrepreneurship support are necessary,” says Lindsay Wallace, Director of Learning and Strategy, The MasterCard Foundation. “Development efforts must strengthen social, education and economic systems, and promote inclusive growth that will provide the most vulnerable and marginalized young people with opportunities to improve their lives.”
Invisible Lives set out to explore how young people integrate mixed livelihoods into their working lives, what challenges this approach poses, and how best to design interventions for young people in the informal sector. The research used a diaries methodology to document the working lives of 246 youth ages 18-24 from Ghana and Uganda over a one-year period, honing in on questions around behaviour, income, economic activities, and time management. While these data speak to the realities of employment in Ghana and Uganda, the research suggests that these also reflect emerging trends across Africa.
Invisible Lives highlights the extraordinary lengths that young people go to in order to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Findings of the Invisible Lives research indicate that:
- Young people in Africa diversify their livelihoods, undertaking a mix of informal sector employment, self-employment, and agriculture-related activities to sustain their livelihood.
- Agricultural production is central to young people’s livelihoods, but agricultural incomes were meagre. Many young people run small enterprises that can be easily started, stopped, and restarted as needed. The most successful young people in both Ghana and Uganda diversified their income and risk by growing multiple crops, raising a variety of livestock, and pursuing a wide range of additional activities.
- Both formal and informal wage employment is rare and sporadic, or elusive. While the informal sector, which constitutes about 80 percent of Africa’s labour force, provided more wage employment opportunities for young people, they were by no means abundant.
- Support networks are critical for young people and they play an extensive role in their lives, not only providing support in the form of advice regarding where to look for and how to find employment, skills development, and business guidance, but also proving instrumental in accessing financial resources needed.
“Respondents who participated in this study generously shared experiences from their lives over the course of a full year,” explains Anne Marie van Swinderen, lead researcher on Invisible Lives from Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT). “Data from the study shows us that these young people readily take up all opportunities that come their way, with enormous energy and positive spirit. Through the L-IFT diaries methodology, these young respondents and the young researchers who interviewed them, also grew a great deal, simply through the act of asking and answering questions about their diversified livelihoods.”
In addition to providing new information on the employment and risk-mitigation strategies of young working Africans, the research maintains that youth who participated in this study were largely invisible to both development organizations and their own governments, and did not have any access to support services, training or finance capital.
The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training, and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.
The Youth Livelihoods Program seeks to improve the capacity of young men and women to transition to jobs or create businesses through a holistic approach which combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, and appropriate financial services. Through our partnerships, our program is supporting innovative models that help young people transition out of poverty and into stable livelihoods. Since 2010, the Foundation has committed $US402 million to 37 multi-year projects across 19 countries in Africa. More than 1.8 million young people have been reached through the Youth Livelihoods program
Disadvantaged Young Africans Find A Lifeline In The MasterCard Foundation
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
-$2.1 Billion has been made in total commitments by the Foundation
By Ajong Mbapndah L
With its financial inclusion, education and learning, and youth Livelihood programs, the MasterCard Foundation is emerging as a leading partner in pushing through a development agenda that favors disadvantaged youth across Africa.
About ten million young people have been engaged by the Foundation through its work in diverse sectors across Africa, said Ann Miles Director of Financial Inclusions at the MasterCard Foundation. Speaking from Canada in a skype interview to discuss the second annual Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali Rwanda, Ann Miles said the Foundation was shifting discussion from how to engage youth in agriculture to how young people can be the drivers of agricultural transformation.
Taking place on February 16 and 17, the second annual Young Africa Works Summit will be a gathering of some 300 thought leaders from the NGO’s, government, funders and the private sector committed to developing sustainable youth employment strategies in Africa. The MasterCard Foundation has had a significant impact in working with youth especially those who are out of school or seeking transition to jobs, Anne Miles said.
Miles disclosed that Of the $2.1 billion in total commitments, circa $ 1 billion has already been disbursed. At the Summit, there will be 34 nationalities represented (total), of which 20 nationalities are African. The summit will have people from Cameroon to Congo, Kenya to Senegal, Zimbabwean to Malagasy, and from other countries like Bangladesh, Paraguay, India, and Poland
Working in about 25 countries, the Foundation has had a strong impact on the livelihood of young people through tertiary education, financial opportunity, and scholarship and entrepreneurship opportunities. Those who have studied through scholarships have returned to their home countries to share valuable knowledge and experiences acquired elsewhere, said Miles.
As one of the countries where the activities of the Foundation have taken strong root, Rwanda was not a hard choice to make to host the second annual summit. Agriculture is a very important topic, Miles said, and went on to explain that the Summit will focus on the inter-related themes of agricultural transformation, gender technology and climate smart agriculture.
On how the Foundation keeps track or stays engaged with beneficiaries of its programs, Miles said evaluations and surveys are usually done ahead of each summit. The Foundation remains committed to its work in Africa in the hope that it will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of young people and the overall development of the continent ,Miles said.
Corruption Weary Africans Taking Anger To The Polls-TI 2016 CPI Index
February 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
If affable candidates like former President John Mahama of Ghana lost elections last year, it may in part have been due to corruption.The finding is contained in the recently published 2016 corruption perception index of Transparency International.
“In countries like Ghana, which is the second worst decliner in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index in the region, the dissatisfaction of citizens with the government’s corruption record was reflected in their voting at the polls,” Transparency International said in a statement that accompanied the release.
Africa did not fare so well said Samuel Kaninda Regional Advisor for Africa at Transparency International. In a skype interview, Kaninda who was on mission in Accra, said the recently released perception index found a co-relation between democracy and good governance. Countries with a history of free elections and a stable democracy faired comparatively better as compared those where democracy and the rule of law are still struggling to take root.
On the countries that did well, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe emerged as the most improved in Africa. Both countries held elections, which got rave reviews from observers. For his efforts and management style, Jorge Carlos Fonseca was rewarded with another term of office. In Sao Tome and Principe, there was a smooth transition of power, a feat that still eludes many countries in the continent.
For the democratic advances it has made, corruption in Ghana was described as rampant. Corroborating statements in the TI Release, Samuel Kaninda believed that the outcome of the recent election mirrored the anger and disappointment of Ghanaians who voted out a sitting President.
Despite high profile arrests and pompous amounts recouped from corrupt politicians, Nigeria failed to see any significant improvement in the index. The doctrine of change that brought the Buhari APC led government to power has so far been a mirage. Nigerians are increasingly voicing out their frustrations and should things not change before the 2019 elections, the APC may be in for a rude awakening.
The situation was similar in South Africa, trailed by sleazy tales of corruption with fingers pointing directly at President Jacob Zuma himself. Though serving his second and last term of offices, there have been growing calls for Zuma to step down. Down and bruised, Zuma has so far weathered the storm, but his battered image is taking a toll on ruling ANC. That it took heavy military Presidents to quell a mutiny from the opposition before Zuma could make a recent state of the Union Address speaks volumes on the situation Mandela’s own country.
With elections due later this year, if corruption were to be a decisive factor, President Uhuru may have some blushes as little progress has been made during his first term.
On the category of countries that equally fared poorly are the regulars like Somalia, South Sudan, Guinea Bissau, Central Africa, Chad, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Cameroon, DR, Congo and the Republic of Congo.
Fighting corruption should be task for everybody said Samuel Kaninda in response to solutions for the way forward. Besides the framework that countries need to put place, the civil society has to step up its role.
Transparency International is willing to engage with countries in the continent and the wider international community in the quest for lasting solutions, Kaninda said. With growing attention from the international corporate world, Kaninda said corporations coming to Africa need to be clearly identified .Institutions and clear-cut rules need to be put in place to curb incidence of corruption, he said.
Corruption is not an issue of the South or the North, Kaninda said in response to a question on illicit outflows of money from Africa. Without these massive flows, Africa will not be talking about Aid but Trade, said Kaninda. African governments should engaged in discussions with the rest of the world especially those that provide safe haven for massive loots from Africa so as to curb this trend which saps Africa of resources needed for its own development ,said Kaninda.
NEPAD-IPPF supports African countries to strengthen regional infrastructure: Approves eight projects for US $14.83 million in 2016
February 11, 2017 | 0 Comments
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, February 9, 2017 – The New Partnership for Africa’s Development Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) has continued to support African countries to strengthen regional infrastructure connectivity by providing grants for project preparation and development for complex, cross-border regional infrastructure projects in energy, transport, ICT and trans-boundary water. This directly supports Africa’s integration and industrialization efforts as well as trade in goods and services and helps to improve the quality of lives of Africans by improving access to infrastructure services – electricity, transport, communications and water.
NEPAD-IPPF provides grants to African countries through Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and specialized regional infrastructure institutions such as Power Pools to undertake feasibility, technical and engineering designs, environmental and social impact assessment studies, as well as preparation of tender documents and transaction advisory services to make projects bankable for financing and implementation in support of Africa’s socio-economic transformation.
Taking stock of achievements during 2016 at the Business Strategy Workshop for NEPAD-IPPF held at the headquarters of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on Friday, ebruary 3, 2017, Shem Simuyemba, NEPAD-IPPF Fund Manager, informed the gathering that during 2016, NEPAD-IPPF had approved a total of US $14.83 million for the preparation of eight regional projects covering energy, transport and water.
Five energy/power projects were approved, two in West Africa, two in Southern Africa and one in East Africa. In West Africa, these were, the Nigeria-Benin 330 kV Power Interconnector Reinforcement Project executed by the West African Power Pool (WAPP) and the Feasibility Study for Women in a Changing Energy Value Chain in West Africa under the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREE) intended to unlock business opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the energy value chain. In East Africa, NEPAD-IPPF funded the Uganda-Tanzania Refined Oil Products Pipeline Project with oversight from the East African Community Secretariat. In Southern Africa, approved projects were, the Zambia-Mozambique 400 kV Power Interconnector Project and the Kolwezi (DRC)-Solwezi (Zambia) 330 kV Power Interconnector Project linking the two copper-mining belts of Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Northwestern Zambia. The Executing Agency for the two projects is the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP). The Zambia-Mozambique Power Interconnector Project is co-financed with the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).
Project preparation and development work undertaken by NEPAD-IPPF has had a major impact in generating bankable projects, which have attracted financing for implementation. An example is the Power Interconnector, 330 kV North Core Project involving Nigeria, Niger, Benin and Burkina Faso. NEPAD-IPPF provided US $5.9 million for the preparation of this project (one of the largest grants for a single project). The estimated financing cost of the project was US $681.67 million. However, at the North Core Financing Roundtable held on November 9, 2016, under the auspices of WAPP and the countries concerned, the project attracted US $1.205 billion in financing pledges.
The two transport projects approved were the Route Multinationale, Kribi-Campo-Bata, the road/bridge over the Ntem River linking Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea, for a grant of US $3.04-million under the Economic Community of Central African States, an important transport and trade corridor in Central Africa. The other was in East Africa,the Lamu Port Development: Transaction Advisory Services and Technical Assistance – Phase 1 for a public-private partnership (PPP) to develop the new Port of Lamu in Kenya to serve the countries of Ethiopia, South Sudan and Kenya under the US $20-billion LAPSEET mega infrastructure project.
One trans-boundary water project, the Multinational, Orange-Sengu River Basin Project, was also approved in 2016. The purpose of the grant is to assist in the preparation of a Climate Resilient Water Resources Investment Strategy and Plan and Multipurpose Project for the Orange Senqu River Basin. The project is co-funded by the Africa Water Facility and the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and is managed by the Orange River Basin Commission. It will benefit the four countries of Lesotho, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia as it serves, among others, Africa’s most dense economic space, the Gauteng Province of South Africa with its mining, agricultural and industrial activities.
NEPAD-IPPF is a multi-donor Special Fund hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB), established under the G8 as part of the support to the NEPAD African Action Plan and is managed in close partnerships with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the NEPAD Agency. Donors supporting NEPAD-IPPF include Canada, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Spain and the UK. Since its establishment in 2005, NEPAD-IPPF has approved 72 grants for complex, cross-border regional infrastructure projects resulting in downstream financing of US $7.88 billion, demonstrating the high leverage effect of well-prepared projects.
Under its current Strategic Business Plan (SBP) for the five-year period, 2016-2020, NEPAD-IPPF requires funding of about US $250 million to prepare 80 to 100 regional infrastructure projects expected to generate US $25 billion in infrastructure investments. NEPAD-IPPF is also increasingly linking its project preparation work to financial closure and part of the thrust of its new business orientation is to engage early with project developers, financiers and investment houses to ensure that NEPAD-IPPF prepared projects respond better to investor needs.
“NEPAD-IPPF is a tested brand across Africa in supporting African countries to prepare complex, cross-border regional infrastructure projects and to bring them to bankability and therefore offers a total-project-development-solution,” said Simuyemba. He also observed that NEPAD-IPPF unlocks business opportunities across the “infrastructure value chain”, not just in advisory services, but also financing, construction, equipment supply, technology and skills as well as operations and maintenance.