France gives citizenship to 28 African WW2 veterans
April 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
French President Francois Hollande has given citizenship to 28 Africans who fought for France in World War Two and other conflicts.
Mr Hollande said France owed them “a debt of blood”.
The veterans – many from Senegal, and aged between 78 and 90 – received their new certificates of citizenship at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Campaigners have long been calling for the rights of the veterans, long-term French residents, to be recognised.
“France is proud to welcome you, just as you were proud to carry its flag, the flag of freedom,” said President Hollande.
More naturalisation ceremonies are expected to follow for other veterans in France.
One of those granted citizenship on Saturday, Mohamed Toure, said the gesture will go some way towards healing old wounds.
“President Hollande did what none of his predecessors ever imagined. And that repairs a lot of things,” he said.
The granddaughter of a Senegalese soldier, Aissatou Seck, who is herself deputy mayor of a Parisian suburb, has been a lead campaigner for African veterans’ rights.
Last year, she started a petition that gained tens of thousands of signatures in less than a week.
The veterans have long been struggling for recognition and equality in France.
Until 2010, they received lower pensions than their French counterparts.
Their ambiguous status also meant they lacked access to other benefits and sometimes found it difficult to travel, said the BBC’s Africa editor, Mary Harper.
In 1944, dozens of West Africans were shot dead by French troops when they mutinied over unequal pay and pensions.
A few years ago, Mr Hollande acknowledged that French soldiers had gunned down their African counterparts.
But many war veterans are still demanding a full apology.
France’s Le Pen calls for end to ‘Francafrique’ relations, CFA franc currency
March 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
N’DJAMENA French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen pledged on Wednesday to break with her country’s decades-old relationship with Africa known as “Francafrique” and abolish the CFA franc currency policy that binds Paris and its former colonies.
Francafrique describes an informal web of relationships Paris has maintained with its former African colonies and its support, sometimes in the form of military backing, for politicians who favor French business interests.
Le Pen, one of the frontrunners in the presidential election, spoke at the end of a two-day visit to Chad where she sought to outline her policies regarding the continent, which has long held an important place in French foreign policy.
“It was only in coming here and explaining that I am able to get around the lies of my political adversaries who don’t want Africa to hear me,” the National Front (FN) party candidate said at a news conference in the capital N’Djamena.
“I’ve come to condemn the policy of Francafrique that they’ve carried out. I have come to say I will break with this policy,” she said.
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy and incumbent Francois Hollande also vowed to end the Francafrique policy, but both kept France deeply involved in African politics and security matters.
Le Pen, a nationalist and vocal critic of the European Union, has spoken of her desire for France to abandon the euro currency.
In N’Djamena, she also called for an end to the CFA franc, a currency used in 14 west and central African nations, which is tied to the euro at a fixed exchange rate – with the peg guaranteed by the French Treasury.
“I understand the complaints of African states which consider as a matter of principle that they must have their own currency and that the CFA franc is a hindrance to their economic development. I completely agree with this vision,” she said.
In building the FN into a viable mainstream party, Le Pen has worked to shake off the baggage of its historical anti-semitism and deflect current accusations of racism and Islamophobia.
And while she sought to highlight that French citizens of African origin have the same rights and duties as any other citizens, she maintained the hard line on immigration that has solidified her support among many voters.
“Because France is sovereign, because it has its laws, because everyone who enters a country must respect these laws, foreigners living illegally in France will be sent home and French borders will be restored,” she said.
Challenges of the WHO Must be Turned to Opportunities-Ethiopia’s Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyus
March 23, 2017 | 1 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Mounting a strong bid to be the next Director General of the World Health Organization, shortcomings must be turned to lessons and new challenges into opportunity, says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyus of Ethiopia.
Currently serving as Minister, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and backed by the African Union, Dr Tedros says a fresh view is needed to efficiently tackle the global health challenges of today. The upcoming elections present an opportunity for WHO to be led by someone who has lived and worked through some of the most pressing health challenges facing our world today, said Tedros a Former Minister of Health in his country.
Dr Tedros is no stranger to facing challenges. With a Ph.D. in Community Health, and a Master of Science in Immunology of Infectious Diseases, Tedros is a globally recognized expert and author on health issues. With stints as Chair for the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria Board, Chair Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board, Co-Chair, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Board, Dr Tedros is supremely confident of his ability to help the WHO reach its potential and create a healthier world.
A few weeks back, Dr Tedros presented his vision and candidacy to the 34 Member States of the Executive Board of the WHO. In the voting to shortlist candidates, Tedros received the highest number of votes in both rounds. Buoyed with such a strong showing and with growing support and endorsements across the globe, Dr Tedros found time off his hectic schedule to discuss his vision, campaign, and more on the WHO and global health issues. Together we can create a healthier world, and every country has a stake in that vision says Tedros.
DR. TEDROS ADHANOM you are running for the office of Director-General for the World Health Organization (WHO), how are things shaping up with that?
I am honoured by the African Union’s endorsement for my candidacy last year and re-affirmation this year. I am motivated by the enthusiastic encouragement I have received from many other governments and global health leaders around the world. I am humbled by their confidence in me.
Since I launched my campaign over a year ago, I have met with Ministers, Heads of Delegations, and some Heads of States of over 180 of the 194 WHO Member States. These discussions have significantly shaped the priorities that I will pursue if I am elected Director-General. They have enriched my understanding of global health priorities and how these needs manifest themselves differently around the world. I am encouraged by the overwhelming alignment across Member States regarding most of WHO’s priorities, opportunities, and risks. I have also noted some areas of diverse interests and positions.
Several weeks ago, I presented my vision and candidacy to the 34 Member States of the Executive Board of WHO. I was honoured to receive the highest number of votes in both rounds of the short-listing of candidates from six down to three. I am encouraged by this early success and re-energised heading into the final stage of the election.
What is your motivation in seeking the WHO Director-General position and what makes you stand out as the best candidate for the job?
My motivation to become DG boils down to three main themes:
1) My passion for health
2) My belief in the power and potential of WHO; and
3) I have the skills and track record that can help realize WHO’s potential.
My passion for health starts from a personal level, growing up in a poor family in Ethiopia. I saw my own and countless other families in our community suffering because of poor access to health, unsafe drinking water, and food insecurity. My passion is rooted in a refusal to accept that people should live or die because of these things.
I believe in the power of WHO. I have personally seen the impact, WHO can have, as a partner to countries’ health programmes, to support and challenge us so that we can have more impact, on more people’s lives. We must turn WHO’s past shortcomings into lessons, and new challenges into an opportunity to evolve and adapt.
I believe what I have accomplished can help WHO reach its potential and create a healthier world. I have spent 3 decades learning, planning, innovating, building national capacity, coordinating partners, increasing domestic health spending, implementing comprehensive health sector reform, and managing our programs with accountability. I have remained committed and focused, translating reform into results. My vision for the WHO draws on lessons learned throughout my career: the health successes achieved here in Ethiopia, building international partnerships as Foreign Minister, and the intricacies of global health diplomacy and financing that I learned to navigate through international roles. I have chaired the Boards of the major global health institutions, overseeing their strategies and reforms, and helping to rebuild donor confidence.
A fresh view is needed to efficiently tackle today’s global health challenges. The upcoming election presents an opportunity for WHO to be led by someone who has lived and worked through some of the most pressing health challenges facing our world today.
What assessment do you make of the way the WHO has fared in the last few years and its response when the Ebola crisis struck parts of West Africa?
The Ebola crises shocked WHO to its core. However, it also offered an opportunity that
WHO launch serious reforms aimed at improving its ability to respond more rapidly and effectively to public health emergencies. Those reforms must be implemented with a sense of urgency to yield results and rebuild the confidence.
Though there have been challenges, WHO has been working to address them to be better prepared for the global health issues of today and tomorrow.
If elected to serve as DG, a top priority will be strengthening emergency preparedness, particularly in provision of increased support at country level to prevent, detect, and swiftly respond to disease outbreaks. Going back to your question about Ebola, Nigeria and Senegal were able to contain the outbreak rapidly. This was due to better coordination, incident management systems, robust surveillance platforms and community engagement. This is why country capacity is so important. The relay of information from countries to regions and then to the headquarters is very important for an outbreak to not spread globally. But if there is weak capacity and if International Health Regulations are not fully implemented at the country level, then you cannot get the information flow and rapid response needed. That is why we need, as a global community, to work together to build capacity collaboratively – whether it is through South-South partnerships, gaining access to essential vaccines, and committing to fully implement International Health Regulations.
Can you explain the vision you have for the World Health Organisation? What will the WHO under the leadership of Dr. Tedros look like?
If elected, I will focus on five priorities:
My top priority is Universal Health Coverage. All roads lead to Universal Health Coverage, from Sustainable Development Goals to gender equality to emergency preparedness.
My second is to strengthen the capacity of national authorities and local communities to detect, prevent and manage health emergencies, including antimicrobial resistance.
My third is to put women, children, and adolescents at the centre of the global health development agenda, and to position health as a more powerful contributor to the gender equality agenda.
My fourth is to address health effects of climate and environmental change.
Lastly, in order to accomplish these, we will need to create a transformed WHO: one that is strong, effectively managed, adequately resourced, results- focused and responsive.
You can find out more about my vision for WHO at www.DrTedros.com.
May we know the support you have from the AU or the African bloc and in what other parts of the world are you hoping to get the necessary support to boost your chances of victory?
I am honoured to have received the endorsement of the African Union for my candidacy, and I am grateful for the support I have received.
I am campaigning on a vision that together we can create a healthier world, and every country has a stake in that vision. So in this campaign, I want to listen to and speak with people from every nation. To be successful, we all have to do this together, all 194 Member States.
If we are to build a healthier world together, we must recognize the unique challenges that each continent and each country has to face and not shirk or ignore any of them. This is, after all, a global effort.
You were Minister of Health in your native Ethiopia from 2005-2012, what did your leadership achieve for the health sector in Ethiopia?
When I began as Ethiopia’s Minister of Heath, our country faced extraordinary challenges. We took an honest look at the state of our health care system and at what would be required to expand health to reach all our fellow citizens in need.
We made a conscious decision to address the essential building blocks for health system-wide reform – investing in critical health infrastructure, expanding the health workforce, creating new financing mechanisms, improving service delivery, strengthening pharmaceutical supply, integrating information management, and investing in epidemiology/outbreak preparedness.
We worked with communities to identify health challenges and obstacles and, together, came up with workable and culturally acceptable solutions for each unique context.
As a result of working with teams across the country at each level, we were able to expand healthcare to tens of millions more Ethiopians. Through these initiatives, we were able to dramatically expand access to health services and meet ambitious health targets, translating reform into results: reducing child mortality by 67%; reducing maternal mortality by 71%; reducing malaria mortality by 75%;reducing mortality from tuberculosis by 64%; and reducing mortality from HIV by 70%.
If you win the election you will be the first African to head the WHO, what would this mean to you?
It is one thing to tell countries what they should do, but it is an entirely different thing to have lived it and done it oneself, as I have. I have the ability to say that I designed the health reform, implemented it, and saw the results.
As someone who comes from a region hardest hit by many of the world’s biggest health challenges, I would bring WHO a fresh perspective about how much can still be done with limited resources. If elected, that will be recognition by our peers around the world that this type of frontline experience is paramount to successfully addressing health challenges not only here but around the world.
Last May, you were presented with the Award for Perseverance during the Fourth Global Conference of Women Deliver in Copenhagen, Denmark; did you consider this an early endorsement for your bid?
That was a great honor. I would not say it is an endorsement of my candidacy, but I would say it is a recognition of the importance of gender equality to us all. I have long been a champion of empowering women since I have found from experience that inclusiveness and different ways of viewing issues tends to prompt innovative thinking and deliver results.
Leading on gender quality is a core value of mine and among my five leadership priorities for WHO. Investments in girls’ and women’s health and rights are investments in a healthy and more prosperous future. We see over and over again the untapped potential of women, because we disempower them, marginalize them, and undervalue them. When we do this, our societies are poorer today. Likewise, when we neglect the health and development needs of our children, our societies are poorer tomorrow. What a shame to lose both today and tomorrow, by not investing in women and children.
Healthy, empowered girls and women have the potential to build stronger communities, economies, and nations, and ultimately transform entire societies. For example, in Ethiopia, we trained over 38,000 women to be health extension workers, who bring local health services to communities across the country, and we built a Health Development Army, a 3-million strong organized women’s network that communicates directly with families to promote health practices and disease prevention across the country. This led to a major expansion of healthcare access.
I accepted the award on behalf of my colleagues and partners who tirelessly work to improve the lives of the girls and women over the last 30 years, and consider it an acknowledgment that similar efforts need to be replicated on a global scale.
The final elections are in May. What plans do you have to better introduce yourself to the world and reassure skeptics about your abilities to provide leadership for such an important global organization?
In May, all 194 countries that are members of the World Health Organization will each get an equal vote for the next Director-General.
I am speaking to people near and far from all regions of the world. Through these conversations, I am deepening my understanding of the needs and opportunities around the world, as well as demonstrating the successes and the lessons from our experiences in the health sector transformation in Ethiopia and my leadership roles with other international organizations. I am confident and hopeful that I will receive the necessary support to be successful in the final election in May at the World Health Assembly.
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.
USTDA announces grant for Burkina Faso solar project at Powering Africa: Summit today in Washington DC
March 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
Speaking at the Powering Africa: Summit today, Enoh T. Ebong, Acting Director, U.S. Trade & Development Foundation (USTDA) announced a recent grant signing for a feasibility study for two 17 megawatt solar photovoltaic plants near the villages of Pá and Kodéni in Burkina Faso. The solar plants are being developed by BioTherm Energy, a South African renewable energy company.
“For Burkina Faso, this presents the chance to bring much needed power to one of the most under-developed electricity sectors in Africa,” commented Ebong. Several of USTDA’s other project and funding successes over the last 12 months in countries such as Tanzania and Nigeria were also touched upon; “since the launch of Power Africa, USTDA has increased its energy portfolio by over 800%.”
The Powering Africa: Summit welcomed 500 investors to the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington DC from across North America, Africa and Europe to present energy projects, discuss investment opportunities and build relationships within the international power community.
Over 100 speakers participated in panel discussions, presentations and roundtables focusing on topics such as gender diversity in the energy sector, US-Africa partnerships for growth and trade, energy economics for gas Independent Power Projects (IPPs) and an update on recent renewable energy successes across Africa.
Developer, owner and operator of power projects Access Power also announced the official opening of the submissions process for ACF 2017 – the third edition of the funding and support platform for renewable energy projects in Africa.
Principal speakers at the conference included South African Minister for Energy H.E. Hon Tina Joemat-Pettersson, H.E. Hon Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy & Mineral Development, Uganda, H.E. Hon. Pierre Anatole Matusila, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Democratic Republic of Congo and H.E. Hon James Musoni, Minister of Infrastructure, Rwanda.
Outgoing Top Diplomat Reassures Restive Africans On US Policy
March 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
-Africa is traditionally a bi-partisan issue says Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas Greenfield
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Departing Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield is urging patience for those eager to see signals from the Trump Administration on its African Policy. The Administration is barely a month in Office and needs time Ambassador Greenfield said, in response to questions from restive Africans on what to possibly expect .
Speaking at a public address at the Atlantic Council on the theme “Africa’s Place on the World Stage,” Ambassador Greenfield said Africa has traditionally been a non-partisan issue. The Obama Administration certainly had its own challenges putting in place a policy though there was more optimism because of his African roots. Ambassador Greenfield indicated that it was too early for people to be in panic mood on the fate of U.S African relations as the new Administration is still putting in place its own team. Ambassador Greenfield said she expects relations to remain strong as the US will remain a committed partner to Africa.
Capping a sterling 35-year Foreign Service Career, Ambassador Greenfield used the address to paint a glossy picture of perspectives in Africa. Problems do not define Africa, as the continent is full of best opportunities and talent, she said. Ambassador Greenfield offered insights into issues that defined her stint in office like partnerships with Africa to counter terrorism, economic growth and development, security challenges, and how to provide opportunities for the surging Youth population.
Despite the odds, the Africa has made tremendous progress, Ambassador Greenfield said. My last trip to Gambia for the inauguration of President Adama Barrow felt like a victory lap, she said, describing it as an opportunity to celebrate success and not resolve a crisis.
Ambassador Greenfield cited the USA-Africa leaders submit, the 2015 Presidential elections in Nigeria and the recent peaceful transition in Gambia as some of the best moments of her stint as the USA top Diplomat on Africa, which started in 2013.
Speaking of the 2015 elections in Nigeria, Ambassador Greenfield said no one was sure how things were going to turn out even after Secretary of State John Kerry personally made trips to talk to leading actors. Greenfield who was in Nigeria for the elections said she saw firsthand the resolve of Nigerians to make things work. Former President Goodluck Jonathan conceded gracefully and the trend has picked up in a number of African countries, Ambassador Greenfield said.
On regrets, Ambassador Greenfield cited South Sudan where the promise of hope for Africa’s newest nation turned to a nightmare with a civil that has created a humanitarian crisis.
In the course of her Career, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield served in Pakistan, Kenya, Gambia, Nigeria and as Ambassador to Liberia. The event at the Atlantic Council was a crowd puller with over a dozen Ambassadors from African countries, State Department Officials, African Policy gurus, civil society actors and Journalist all present to listen to the parting comments of Ambassador Greenfield on Africa, a continent she has a particular fondness for. The event was also attended by three of her predecessors Herman Cohen who served under President Reagan, Jendayi Frazer who served under President George .W.Bush and Johnnie Carson who served in the first Obama term.
Ambassador Greenfield is expected to take up Fellowship at the George Washington University. J.Peter Pham whose name is reportedly in the mix of potential candidates to replace Ambassador Greenfield introduced her at the event.
Three Leading Organizations in Africa and The MasterCard Foundation Partner to Improve Livelihoods for 1.1 Million African Smallholder Farmers
March 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Foundation has committed a total of US$38.3 million to AgDevCo, ICCO Cooperation, and Root Capital for programs to improve productivity and market access for farmers in 11 African countries.
Ambassador Sanders’ New Book Focuses on Insta-impact of Africa’s SMEs
March 6, 2017 | 0 Comments
Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders’ new book on “The Rise of Africa’s Small& amp; Medium Size Enterprises” (SMEs) is an insightful examination of the dramatic shift in the development paradigm for Sub Saharan Africa – driven in large part by the imaginative, innovative and insta-impact leadership of the region’s small businesses or SMEs. “SMEs have helped drive economic growth and aided in increasing the size of the Continent’s middle class,” Sanders says. The book’s Introduction is by renowned civil rights leader Ambassador Andrew Young, and the Foreword is by Africa’s leading businessman, Mr. Aliko Dangote. Sanders’ credits the determination of Africa’s SMEs to step into the void left by 40 years of post-independence development efforts that had little impact on overall poverty reduction and job creation in the region.
The book also has recommendations on what donors, the African Union, African Governments, and the new U.S. Administration can do to further assist Africa SMEs. For the US, Sanders notes that as the new U.S. Administration seeks to have markets for its goods and services as part of its efforts to reinvigorate jobs in the US Rust Belt (the Midwest Region), and as Africa SMEs expand their procurement sources and help expand the region’s manufacturing base – both efforts can be synergistic, and help stimulate both American and African economies. There is also an extensive chapter on China – what it is doing in the Africa SME sector, both the big plus, like special economic zones, the New Development Bank, and becoming the world’s net credit country, as well as addresses some of the things on which it needs to do better.
Included in the book are DataGraphs from the world-respected Gallup Analytics® on the enabling environment for Africa’s SMEs and comments on the importance and impact of the region’s SMEs from other key notables such as Gallup’s Managing Partner Jon Clifton, Nigeria telecom leader and Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria Hakeem Belo Osaige, CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Oscar Onyema, Chairman of Operation Hope John Bryant, CEO of Homestrings Eric Guichard, former Senior U.S. Small Business Administration official Ngozi Bell, and the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises of the Republic of Congo, Madame Yvonne Adelaide Mougany. Dr. Frederick G. Kohun, nationally-recognized scholar of Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University (RMU), a University Professor of Computer and Information Systems at RMU’s School of Communications and Information Systems, underscores Sanders point in the book that the impact of Africa SMEs is not only a result of technology and its mobility, but the sister relationship that these have with providing access to knowledge management for communities around the world that have helped small businesses globally transform their societies and their nations.
The prestigious Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) has included Sanders’ Africa SME book in its recognized series of Memoirs and Occasional Papers Series (MOPS) given its additional focus on the role and changes in diplomatic approaches to development over the ages, including the shift changes brought about the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
See story on Sanders’ book http://bit.ly/SandersAfricaSMEBook
Fake news: How can African media deal with the problem?
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
At a time when fact-based reporting is increasingly being undermined by fake news, the BBC’s Dickens Olewe looks at the lessons for the media in Africa.
“ALERT: Don’t fall victim to fake news!”
This is the message that pops up when you visit South Africa’s Eyewitness News (EWN) website.
The warning advises readers to be more vigilant about the news they consume.
The message goes on to say that the publication is committed to providing news that is accurate, fair and balanced.
It then links to another page that gives tips on how to spot fake news, with a list of websites it has identified as purveyors of fake news in South Africa.
The publication also invites readers to send in fake stories they come across and those which they are unsure about.
EWN’s attempt to fight the spread of false news content is probably a first on the continent.
Katy Katopodis, EWN editor-in-chief, told the BBC that the publication felt it had a duty to protect the integrity of journalism by educating its audience.
“We have to be proactive to acknowledge the dangers of fake news and to offer our readers advice on how to spot a fake news story,” she says.
“At Eyewitness News we believe we need to counter the lies and the fake news with the truth and a reality check.
“We all have a responsibility to disseminate news that is factual and correct.”
EWN’s fake news guide was implemented last month amid allegations that the governing African National Congress (ANC) had planned to run a campaign to create and disseminate false information to discredit opponents ahead of last year’s local election in which it lost many seats.
AmaBhungane, an investigative journalism team, reported that a covert operation dubbed the War Room, was intended to “disempower Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters parties” by using digital media and social media influencers.
The ANC has denied the allegations, with one official accused of being involved in the planning of the operation describing it as “fake news”.
The term fake news, which has been used a lot since last year’s US presidential elections, was meant to call attention to falsified news content that was widely shared on the internet, mostly on social media.
Trump ‘endorsed by the Pope’
An analysis by BuzzFeed released after the US elections found that top fake election news stories generated more total engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news outlets combined.
The top five stories under this study were positive spins to prop up the candidacy of Donald Trump, including one claiming that he was endorsed by the Pope.
“Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement,” the article’s headline read.
The other stories promoted conspiracy theories about his then challenger Hillary Clinton which some analysts say helped undermine her campaign.
The creation and distribution of misinformation is not new, the difference at the moment is that spreading false information has been incentivised.
Digital publishing platforms like Facebook and Google have built ecosystems that reward clicks on website links and one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to a website is to entice readers with sensational content.
The Macedonian teenagers became infamous after it was revealed they were behind several fake stories shared during the US election, mostly in support of Mr Trump, earned thousands of dollars by getting thousands of clicks on articles they shared on Facebook.
In Africa, several articles have managed to fool many and garnered a lot of clicks for their promoters. Here are a sample of some of the headlines:
- Eritrean men ordered to marry two wives or risk jail
- UK Announces Visa Free Entry For Nigeria And Other Commonwealth African Countries
- Trump says “Africans are lazy fools only good at eating, lovemaking and thuggery”
- Robert Mugabe says Zimbabweans are “honest people” but “stealing is in every Kenyan’s blood”.
The allure of getting clicks has seen some publishers take advantage of the interest fake stories generate.
Recently, Kenya’s sports website Game Yetu, owned by a mainstream publisher The Standard, lifted a story from Mzansi Live, a fake news website in South Africa with an unlikely claim – that Zimbabwe had sent its female footballers to Brazil to be impregnated by soccer legends there:
Game Yetu tried to keep editorial distance from the article by placing it under the rumours and gossip section of its website.
Ms Katopodis says she is concerned about mainstream publishers pursuing clickbait.
The South African paper editor says that it behoves credible newsrooms and journalists to fact-check stories and promote media literacy.
“I am inspired by how the banking sector has been educating its customers to deal with online scams – we should do the same.”
While there is nothing wrong with curating content to lure readers to read stories on your website, overselling and packaging of news items using misleading headlines does a lot to undermine publishers’ credibility.
With traditional revenue sources drying up and with viral content bringing in the money, for-profit media organisations are caught in a conundrum.
Huffington Post’s South Africa edition exemplified this.
It recently published a handy guide for spotting faking news which included this important advice: “Reputable media houses will have credible adverts on their pages. Fake news sites often have pornographic adverts. That should raise red flags.”
However, below the article it had a widget containing a series of fake news stories, including one of US President Donald Trump calling South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma “the best ever”.
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
Africa: The Strong Breed – the Rise and Fall of Africa’s Great Literary Leaders
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire
In Uganda and beyond, the political influence of writers has greatly diminished, with different kinds of artists starting to take their place.
In an essay published after his death in 1982, the Ugandan poet, philosopher, lawyer, footballer and novelist Okot P’Bitek wrote:
“If there are two types of rulers in every society, that is, those who use physical force to subdue men, and those that employ beautiful things, sweet songs and funny stories, rhythm, shape and colour, to keep individuals and society sane and flourishing, then in my view, it is the artist who is the greater ruler.”
In P’Bitek’s generation, Africa’s great artists and leaders often overlapped. Leopold Senghor of Senegal, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Agostinho Neto of Angola, for example, were all poets and writers as well as founding presidents.
Similarly, the novelist Chinua Achebe led Biafra’s diplomatic front in the war in the late-1960s. The playwright and poet Wole Soyinka has been one of successive Nigerian governments’ most vocal critics and once founded a new political party. Ama Ata Aidoo served as Education Minister in Ghana. Ken Saro-Wiwa led the Ogoni struggle in the 1990s in the Niger Delta. And Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s outspoken political activism led to him being jailed in 1970s Kenya.
Many of Africa’s best known writers have been celebrated for their political leadership as much as their creative works.
On this front, Uganda is no different. In the 1970s, for example, playwright Robert Serumaga joined anti-Idi Amin political activities and later served as Minister of Commerce. Novelist and poet John Nagenda was appointed to the Truth Commission into human rights violations set up in 1986 and is now a senior adviser to President Museveni.
Renowned author Timothy Wangusa was an MP, Education Minister, and is now a presidential adviser. And Mary Busingye Karooro, who founded the Association of Uganda Women Writers (FEMRITE) in 1995, has been a member of parliament since 2004 and served in several senior cabinet positions.
The illustrious list is long. But looking across it, it’s quickly apparent that all these individuals are either fast-approaching retirement or have passed away. It is difficult to find any of today’s generation of writers with nearly the same political influence as their forbearers.
This is not for lack of international acclaim. Within Uganda’s FEMRITE community alone, for example, the country boasts of Commonwealth prize winners Jackee Batanda and Doreen Baingana, MacMillan prize winner Glaydah Namukasa, Caine Prize winner Monica Arac de Nyeko, Jalada prize winner Aujo Lillian, and Caine Prize and PEN/Studzinski Literary Award nominee Beatrice Lamwaka, among others.
How did creative writers lose political influence?
In the 1960s and 1970s, state publishing was thriving thanks to the East African Literature Bureau, which ensured audiences were served by local writers in both English and indigenous languages. This was complemented by the African Writers Series of Heinemann Educational Publishers, which, besides their main target market of schools and universities, also produced work for the general public.
Over time, however, the state publishing model has disappeared and publishing has fallen into the hands of the market. This has meant that today, contemporary Ugandan writers are mostly published by foreign presses, which do not see African markets as their main target.
This situation has particularly affected indigenous language publishing, which has greatly declined. Whereas the likes of P’Bitek made sure to publish in their local languages, many contemporary Ugandan writers publish exclusively in English. The literary and cultural infrastructure that produces the critical acclaim today is also decidedly Anglophone and typically controlled from outside the country’s borders. The many prizes that have been lauded on Uganda’s authors, for instance, are mostly limited to works composed in English.
While there may be advantages to writing in a language spoken so widely across the world, English is not Uganda’s lingua franca. It may be the official language and the one used in the education system, but it is not the language in which business is conducted or through which voters interact with their leaders.
Political influence is about followership, and followers will not be attracted to people they do not know or to artists whose work they cannot access or consume.
Send in the clowns
While writers have declined in their domestic readership and political influence, however, there may be other kinds of artists that have stepped up to take their place. In Uganda’s 2016 parliamentary polls, for example, the popular gospel musician Judith Babirye and comedian Kato Lubwama both notably became MPs (though the latter’s election is facing a legal challenge).
This appears to be following in a broader trend across the continent in which other creative forms are gaining in political traction. For instance, musicians have been central to several popular protest movements in Africa recently, such as Y’en a Marre in Senegal and Le Balai Citoyen in Burkina Faso, while in 2009, music DJ Andry Rajoelina ascended to the presidency of Madagascar and ruled until 2014.
It makes sense that these kinds of artists may be filling the gap left by their literary counterparts. For example, in Uganda, musicians today have much larger audiences than writers due to the growth of FM stations across the country, many of which also have comedy in their programming too.
Most of these radio stations broadcast in indigenous languages, in which most musicians and comedians also ply their trade. Babirye and Lubwama primarily work in Luganda, Uganda’s most widely spoken indigenous language.
Not all musicians working in Luganda have been able to translate influence and popularity into electoral success – Daniel Kazibwe (alias Ragga Dee), for instance, lost the Kampala mayoral race despite his pedigree as a veteran singer – but musicians and comedians working in local languages seem to have been considerably more successful in electoral politics than writers in recent years.
While free market economics led to the collapse of the 1960s-70s indigenous publishing infrastructure, thereby degrading the production and circulation of Ugandan literature and the influence of writers, the same policies have had a different effect on music and comedy, facilitating growth in those now highly popular artistic industries.
This means that whereas the age of the great writer-leader may have passed, the political influence of musicians and comedians is on the up. How the shift from writers to musicians will affect the quality of Ugandan leadership remains to be seen.
*Allafrica/African Arguments.Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire is an African Leadership Centre Fellow attached to the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town. He is the co-founder of the Kampala based Centre for African Cultural Excellence. Follow him on twitter at @bwesigye.
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.