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Lauren: Africa’s teams at the World Cup will not get past last eight
April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Stanley Kwenda*

Former Cameroon international Lauren played at the World Cup in 1998 and 2002

Former Cameroon international Lauren played at the World Cup in 1998 and 2002

Former Cameroon and Arsenal defender, Lauren, says none of the African teams at the World Cup will get past the quarter finals in Russia.

He says a combination of mismanagement and a difference in quality means Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco will struggle.

No African nation has made it past the last eight of the World Cup.

“I could say Africa will be in the semis, we’re going to win, but that’s not the reality,” he told BBC Sport.

“To be honest with you I can’t see any of them go further than the quarter finals.

“This is my honest opinion because we are still one step behind the top teams.

“I can’t see them challenge the Germans, Argentina, Spain or Brazil, they are not in that level.”

Lauren, who played at the 1998 and 2002 World Cup finals with Cameroon, is also unhappy with the way football is run on the continent.

“I don’t like to lie to people. I am very honest, I speak my mind because we don’t do things the right way,” the 41-year-old added.

“It happens in football, it happens in so many other African societies.”

He believes that his experience in football could benefit the running of the game in Africa.

“Politics is in my blood but I wouldn’t like to really got into politics,” the Arsenal ambassador explained.

“But maybe to try to help African football with the knowledge I have got about business and how to do things in a structural way.”

To date only three African nations have reached the last eight at the World Cup; first were Cameroon in 1990, followed by Senegal in 2002 and then most recently Ghana in 2010.

Morocco make a return to the World Cup for the first time since 1998. They were paired with Spain, European Champions Portugal and Iran.

Egypt are back after a 28-year absence and will play in a group alongside Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

Tunisia are in a tough-looking group with Belgium, England and Panama.

Senegal will take on Poland, Columbia and Japan as they begin their bid to emulate their feats of 2002 in Japan and South Korea.

Nigeria, who are making their sixth appearance at the finals and in the same group as Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.


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South Africa backs Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup
April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
This is Morocco's fifth attempt to host the World Cup after making bids for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 finals

This is Morocco’s fifth attempt to host the World Cup after making bids for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 finals

The South Africa Football Association (Safa) has pledged its ‘unqualified’ support for Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

Morocco is up against a joint bid from Canada/Mexico/United States and is aiming to become the second African country to host the World Cup after South Africa in 2010.

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity and naysayers should stop using the political argument,” said Safa president Dr Danny Jordaan.

“Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” the Safa President added.

Morocco are making their fifth bid to host the tournament.

They have previously campaigned for the right to organise the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions.

Former Cameroon goalkeeper, Joseph-Antoine Bell, is visiting South Africa as part of a delegation representing the Morocco bid.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards; from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” Bell said.

“Morocco needs South Africa’s voice, it is the loudest voice on the continent,” added the Cameroonian.

South Africa’s backing for Morocco’s 2026 bid follows similar pledges of support from both Algeria and Guinea-Bissau.

The hosts for the 2026 World Cup will be decided in Russia on 13 June


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Cameroon’s ghost president
April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

How Paul Biya has held onto power for over 35 years despite spending much of it abroad.


On the podium for the World’s Longest-Serving President, Paul Biya currently holds the silver medal. At an impressive 35-plus years in office, the Cameroonian leader’s ability to keep hold of power over the decades has been remarkable – perhaps all the more so because of how little he actually exercises it.

In our recent investigation with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, we found that Biya has spent huge chunks of his presidency outside Cameroon. In some years, he has been abroad for a third of the time. Overall, he has spent at least four and a half years on “brief private visits to Europe”, often at the 5-star Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva. His official foreign trips add up to at least one additional year.

In response to these eye-opening findings, the government in Yaoundé accused us being “a real office of destabilisation” and defended the president. “Even when Biya is abroad, for republican needs, he governs Cameroon in a very beautiful way,” said Higher Education Minister Jacques Fame Ndongo in a radio interview, “with ICT, it is possible to pilot an organisation from wherever you are”.

The reality, however, is that Biya is neither working from home nor working remotely. Rather, Cameroon is a country with a ghost captain at the helm, a Titanic knocking into one iceberg after another.

In October 2016, when an overloaded train derailed in Eseka, killing at least 82 people, Biya was in Geneva. A year later, when protests broke out in the English-speaking North West and South West regions, he was there again on another “brief private visit”. In fact, that time, the president stayed in Switzerland for another three weeks as security forces at home cracked down on the demonstrations, killing several civilians and arresting hundreds. Those violent actions contributed to the emergence of a separatist conflict that continues to escalate.

Even when Biya eventually responded to the unrest, he was clearly out of touch. He claimed the situation was “stabilising” when the reality was the opposite. Meanwhile, his creation of a Ministry of Decentralisation and Local Development, headed by an Anglophone official, was seen as largely symbolic given Cameroon’s repeated past failures to devolve power.

In this vacuum of meaningful action or even dialogue, calls for secession – once a fringe idea – garnered mass support in the English-speaking regions. Several armed groups emerged and murdered a handful of security forces in guerrilla attacks. The Cameroonian army retaliated, killing dozens of people and torching whole villages, forcing 20,000 refugees to flee into Nigeria.

How Biya maintains control

According to the renowned Cameroonian political scientist Achille Mbembe, President Biya’s prolonged absences are not just a side-effect of his wanderlust. Rather, they part and parcel of a political strategy that has kept him in power for so long.

“His way of exercising power is to not decide,” argues Mbembe. Biya’s approach, he says, “is basically to do nothing at all or to do very little”, making him a “ghostly figure” hidden behind a cloud of mystery. “Nobody knows what Biya thinks, or what he’ll do,” continues Mbembe, “everything can be changed from one day to the next”.

This form of governance affects the whole administration. Afraid of losing their government jobs in a country with few high-paying options in the private sector, officials simply avoid taking decisions. In this way, they replicate the president’s withdrawn management style, rendering Cameroon’s bureaucracy inept at accomplishing even the most basic tasks.

At the same time, Biya wields high-level government posts – lucrative positions thanks to pervasive corruption – as incentives for loyalty. “Everyone is near their radio, they are waiting to be appointed, and when it’s not right away, they keep on hoping that it will be next time,” says Mbembe. “Nobody moves because all are waiting to be appointed.”

By expanding his patronage network for over three decades, Biya now has over 60 ministers and state secretaries with whom he rarely convenes. The last ministerial cabinet meeting, held in March 2018, made international headlines because it was Cameroon’s first since 2015.

One of the latest victims of this capricious carrots and stick system was Martin Belinga Eboutou. He was one of the president’s closest aides and had racked up nearly three years’ worth of trips alongside Biya, according to our investigation. Yet despite decades of service, Eboutou was kicked out of his job in a March government reshuffle without any apparent reason. He’s reportedly refused to vacate his office.

Others have fared worse. Former Minister of Energy and Water, Basile Atangana Kouna, and a few others were accused of corruption and arrested in the recent shake-up. Once a minister falls into disgrace, Biya’s anti-corruption Epervier operation often fast-tracks them to the VIP quarters of Yaoundé’s Kondengui prison. There, they can join a couple dozen other former officials. Some joke that there’s enough of them there to form a whole shadow government.

The People’s Choice?

When the country holds its presidential elections this October, it is unlikely to lead to regime change. Despite widespread disaffection, Biya’s political strategy has already allowed him to weather several decades of crises. He won the 2011 elections with 78% of the vote under the slogan “The People’s Choice”.

In his characteristic laissez-faire fashion, President Biya has yet to officially announce his candidature for the October vote. But if he does and wins as expected, it will allow him to maintain power for another seven years.

Sooner or later though, the 85-year-old’s rule will have to come to an end. Even for a ghostly president governing from far-flung lands, ruling Cameroon from beyond the grave would surely be a step too far.

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Transatlantic strides and the French role: Disentanglement from her former colonies
April 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Tangwe Abraham*

French President Macron with African leaders

French President Macron with African leaders

The transatlantic synergy of nation remains a formidable force in international relations and adhering nations operate on the basis of mutual respect, trust, intercultural cohesion and standing for all in case of any nuance. Such a drive can be torpedoed by greed and the lack of respect for anyone in the setup. Apparently, the French role in the transatlantic organigram completely negates the tenets of togetherness and puts it role into jeopardy and unreliability. The simple reason for France shooting itself in the leg stems from the fact that France has refused to disentangle itself from its former colonies in Africa more than fifty years after independence. This has completely diminish the realism of these former colonies vis-à-vis other nations of the world.

Such actions by France negates the relevance of the charter of the European Economic Community (EEC) at inception in 1957. In its preamble, it stated inter-alia that the creation of the EEC was “intending to confirm the solidarity which binds Europe and overseas countries, and desiring to ensure the development of their prosperity, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations which advocates and uphold the sovereign equality of all nation-states. The spirit and letter of this dictum has been flouted by France with impunity. This is buttress by section 1, (3 c) of the charter of the EEC which argues that “the establishment of a common customs tariff and a common commercial policy towards third countries” definitely must hold sway. This guides us in the following question;

Has France been fair in its relations with the 14 Countries that constitutes its former colonies in Africa?


France has been a pain in the ass of its former colonies and the leaders and denizens of these countries have grudgingly endure such degradation and revolting relationships that is completely unfathomable. France conceded to African demands for independence in the 1960s but carefully organized its former colonies in a system of “compulsory solidarity” which consisted of obliging the 14 African states to put 65% of their foreign currency reserves into the French treasury, plus another 20% for financial liabilities. This means these 14 African countries only ever have access to 15% of their own money! If they need more they have to borrow their own money from the French at commercial rates! And this has been the case since the 1960s. They remain the chasse gardée of France ( Bradley, 2013).

France has the first right to buy or reject any natural resources found in the land of the Francophone countries. So even if the African countries can get better prices elsewhere, they cannot sell to anybody until France says it does not need the resources. In the award of government contracts, French companies must be considered first; only after that can these countries look elsewhere. It does not matter if the CFA countries can obtain better value for money elsewhere (ibid).

Amazingly, the final say on the C.F.A arrangements belongs to the French Treasury, which invests the African countries’ money in its own name on the Paris Bourse or the stock exchange. (Jabbar, 2013). Worst of all, it has spearheaded instability in all its former colonies especially when the leaders of such nations appear to slip off their fingers. Gbagbo of Cote D’Ivoire had to be arraigned before the ICC for preferring China over France over the construction of a major bridge and Prof. Pascal Lissouba of Congo had to be booted out for opting for the USA over France for the tapping of petroleum products.

Hence, France actions within the confines of the transatlantic alliance is fraught with greed, double standards and backstabbing and no matter how it struggles to break even in such circumstances, its former colonies are viewing France with complete mistrust and hate. This explains why any action led by France in this alliance is met with scorn and sure to fall flat like a pack of cards. It should mend the fences, hands off completely on its former colonies and build its economy in a disinterested and responsible posture.

*Tangwe is a Ph.D. student at the University of Bamberg in Germany



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flydubai marks Africa expansion with Kinshasa inaugural
April 16, 2018 | 0 Comments
flydubai is the first national carrier for the UAE to create direct air links to the Congolese capital, Kinshasa
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, April 15, 2018/ —

  • Dubai-based carrier launches daily flights to Kinshasa with enroute stop in Entebbe
  • flydubai’s network in Africa grows to 13 destinations across 10 countries

Dubai-based flydubai’s ( inaugural flight touched down today at N’djili Airport (Kinshasa International Airport – FIH).  flydubai will operate daily flights to N’djili Airport with an enroute stop in Entebbe.

flydubai is the first national carrier for the UAE to create direct air links to the Congolese capital, Kinshasa and with the start of the service sees its comprehensive network in Africa grow to 13 destinations in 10 countries.

With the start of flights to Kinshasa another gateway is opened up for passengers from the GCC, Russia and the Indian Subcontinent into Central Africa.  Passengers from Kinshasa have access to more than 90 destinations on the flydubai network and through its codeshare partnership with Emirates ( can connect easily and conveniently to Emirates’ destinations spanning six continents in over 80 countries.

The inaugural flight touched down at 14:20 (local time) and on board was a delegation led by Sudhir Sreedharan, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations (UAE, GCC, Indian Subcontinent & Africa) for flydubai. The delegation was met on arrival by Mr. Tshiumba Pmunga Jean, Director General, Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Kufula Makila Rex, Cabinet Director, Minister of Transport and Mr. Bilenge Abdala – General Director RVA- (Régie des Voies Aériennes).

Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer of flydubai, said on the launch of flights to Kinshasa: “As one of the largest and most populous cities in Africa, Kinshasa, is a key hub for travel and trade. Africa is one of the UAE’s emerging trade partners and with the opening of this new route to one of the busiest airports in the Democratic Republic of the Congo there will be further opportunities to strengthen commercial ties across a neighbouring continent with vast natural resources.”

The fast-growing economies of the countries of Africa are important trading markets for the UAE and their increasing prosperity will ensure that their contribution of visitor numbers to Dubai will similarly grow strongly.

Sudhir Sreedharan, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations (UAE, GCC, Indian Subcontinent and Africa) at flydubai, who led the inaugural delegation, added: “Africa has been an important market for flydubai since the airline’s launch in 2009.  We continue to see strong demand for direct airlinks and last year flydubai contributed 13% of the total growth at Dubai Airports for the African market. I am pleased to see our network in Africa grow to 13 destinations in 10 countries with the launch today of flights to Kinshasa. With the start of the daily service from Dubai’s aviation hub to one of the largest countries in Africa, passengers will have access to increased connectivity.”

All flights to and from Kinshasa will offer travellers flydubai’s onboard experience, whether opting for priority services and more space and privacy in Business Class, or enjoying flexibility and convenience as a passenger in Economy Class.

flydubai will codeshare this route with Emirates. With the partnership, passengers can connect easily and conveniently to over 90 of flydubai’s destinations which complement the Emirates route network, spanning six continents in over 80 countries.

For bookings under the codeshare, Emirates passengers receive complimentary meals and the Emirates checked baggage allowance on flights operated by flydubai in Business and Economy classes.

In under 10 years, flydubai has grown an extensive network across Africa and currently offers flights to Addis Ababa, Alexandria, Asmara, Djibouti, Entebbe, Hargeisa, Juba, Khartoum and Port Sudan as well as Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar.

Flight Timings are in Local Time

Flight Number Frequency Departure Airport Departure Time Arrival Airport Arrival Time
FZ617 Daily Dubai International Terminal 2 8:00 Entebbe International Airport 12:20
FZ617 Daily Entebbe International Airport 13:20 Kinshasa International Airport 14:20
FZ618 Daily Kinshasa International Airport 15:20 Entebbe International Airport 20:15
FZ618 Daily Entebbe International Airport 21:15 Dubai International Terminal 2 03:45


Business Class return fares will start at AED 6,000 (USD1580) and are inclusive of all taxes and 40kg checked baggage.  Economy Class return fares will start at AED 2,700 (USD521) including 20kg checked baggage.

Flights can be booked through flydubai’s website (, the official flydubai App, Contact Centre in Dubai on (+971) 600 54 44 45, the flydubai travel shops or through our travel partners.

For more information about Holidays by flydubai, please visit:

For the full timetable and fares, visit:

About flydubai
From its home in Dubai, flydubai ( has created a network of more than 100 destinations and over the next decade the airline will see its fleet grow by up to 296 aircraft. Since commencing operations in June 2009, flydubai has been committed to removing barriers to travel, creating free flows of trade and tourism and enhancing connectivity between different cultures across its ever-expanding network.

flydubai has marked its journey with a number of milestones that represent the scale of the ambition planned for the airline:
• An expanding network: Created a network of more than 100 destinations in 46 countries across Africa, Central Asia, The Caucasus, Eastern Europe, The GCC and The Middle East, and the Indian Subcontinent.
• Serving underserved markets: Opened up more than 70 new routes that did not previously have direct air links to Dubai or were not served by a UAE national carrier from Dubai.
• An efficient single fleet-type: Operates a single fleet-type of 61 aircraft including Boeing 737 MAX 8 and Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
• Record-breaking orders: Placed the largest single-aisle aircraft orders in the region at the 2013 and 2017 editions of the Dubai Airshow.
• Enhancing connectivity: Carried 10.9 million passengers across its network in 2017.

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The Mohammed IV Museum for Water Civilization in Marrakech – AMAN – will host the second edition of “African Women in Agriculture Congress” (AWA) May 8th to 10th, 2018.
April 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

AWA Congress is an initiative of Believe in Africa which vision is to create opportunities for the less privileged. Believe in Africa is, therefore, inviting the world to converge to Morocco to discuss the role of African Women in agriculture, improve their living conditions and help them get the support they need.

The second edition of the AWA Congress will be co-chaired by Her Excellence Aissata Issoufou, First Lady of Republic of Niger joined by Her Excellence Hilda Deby Itno, First Lady of the Republic of Chad, Mrs Nadira El Guermai, Governor National coordinator of the National Human Development Initiative (INDH) , H.E. Fatoumata Tambajang, Vice President of the Republic of Gambia, H.E. Khoudia MBAYE, Minister of Investment Promotion, Partnerships and Teleservices of Senegal. The high level dialogue aims at creating a network of stakeholders dedicated to ensuring the effective empowerment of African women in agriculture helping them feed the continent and the world.


During two days, worldwide recognized personalities such as:

  • Mr. Jean Pierre Senghor, National Executive SecretaryFood Security Council, Senegal
  • Mrs. Maria Mulindi, Chief of Staff, Président of the African Development Bank, Kenya
  • Mrs Lissar Mbang Ekoutou, Vice Président,  de la Chambre d’Agriculture, de l’Elevage, des Pêches et des Forêts of Cameroon (CAPEF)
  • Amb. Sidahmed Alphadi, Unesco Arstist for Peace, Niger
  • Dr. Wanida Lewis, Foreign Affairs Officer, State Department, Office of Agriculture Policy, USA
  • Mrs. Brabrahim Nadia, President, Federation Interprofessionnelle de l’heliciculture, Morroco
  • Mrs. Ada Osakwe, Chief Executive Officer, Agrolay, ADB Youth Advisory Council, Nigeria
  • Mrs. Lucy Muchoki,Chief Executive Officer, Pan African Agribusiness Consortium, (PanAAC) – Kenya
  • Mme Olga Johnson, Managing Director, Energies for Africa, Benin
  • Mrs. Rahama Wright, Founder et CEO, Shea Yeleen, US, Member of US Advisor Council on doing Business in Africa, USA
  • Pr. Zoubida Charrouf, University Mohammed V, Morocco
  • Mrs. Carole Robert, Foundation Biotechnologie pour le Développement Durable en Afrique (BDA), Canada
  • Patrick Andre, Founder, BOTANICOSM’ETHIC, France
  • Mrs Karima El Kmiti, Managing Director, Qualavi , Morroco

among others will take the stand to share their experience in agriculture and provide solutions for the betterment of African women in agriculture.

For more informations, contact us at

au ou +212 677 77 87 21


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Thread war: Rwanda takes a stand against cheap, secondhand clothes from the US
April 14, 2018 | 0 Comments

Rwanda has raised tariffs on secondhand clothing shipped from the US claiming the cheaply sold cast-offs undermine local textile companies. In response, the US is suspending duty-free status for clothing manufactured in Rwanda.

By Rodney Muhumuza*

The sweaty mechanic tossed aside the used jeans one by one, digging deep through the pile of secondhand clothes that are at the center of another, if little-noticed, Trump administration trade war.

The used clothes cast off by Americans and sold in bulk in African nations, a multimillion-dollar business, have been blamed in part for undermining local textile industries. Now Rwanda has taken action, raising tariffs on the clothing in defiance of United States pressure. In response, the US says it will suspend duty-free status for clothing manufactured in Rwanda under the trade program known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

President Trump’s decision has not gone down well in Rwanda, a small, largely impoverished East African nation still trying to heal the scars of genocide 24 years ago. Similar US action against neighboring countries could follow; Uganda and Tanzania have pledged to raise tariffs and phase in a ban on used clothing imports by 2019.

The action against Rwanda comes just weeks after Mr. Trump met Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the World Economic Forum and proclaimed him a “friend,” as Trump sought to calm anger in Africa over his reported vulgar comments about the continent.

Mr. Kagame currently chairs the African Union, where heads of state just days after the meeting drafted, but decided against issuing a blistering statement on Trump.

The US trade action is finding a mixed response in Africa, with some upset at Trump again, while others defend the secondhand clothing as popular, inexpensive, and well-made.

The US is a “bully” for retaliating against Rwanda’s efforts to grow its own textile industry, said Dismas Nkuranga, who deals in secondhand footwear in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.

“The main objective for Rwanda is to see more companies in the country produce clothes here,” said Olivier Nduhungirehe, state minister for foreign affairs. “It’s also about giving Rwandans the dignity they deserve, not wearing secondhand clothes already used by other people.”

But at the sprawling Owino Market in neighboring Uganda’s capital, Kampala, the trade in used clothing continues to crackle, with some sellers shoving merchandise into the arms of shy potential buyers: a pair of jeans for a fraction of a dollar, a T-shirt for even less.

“Affordability is what I want,” said John Ekure, the mechanic who was shopping for jeans.

As some African governments worry that the bulk imports of used clothes constitute dumping, others question the ability of local clothing makers to satisfy appetites for quality goods at rock-bottom prices.

Rwanda has been supporting Chinese investors to set up textile factories in the hopes that the country eventually can produce affordable products and create 350,000 jobs by 2025. But many in Rwanda who praise the government’s decision to raise tariffs as progressive remain concerned about whether that goal can be reached.

 In Uganda, where the per capita income is $615, traders and buyers said they hope the government will not move as swiftly as Rwanda in imposing higher tariffs on used clothes.

One trader said he had noticed a rise in the number of Rwandans coming to his stall to check out trench coats and jackets, apparently because such goods have become rare back home.

“If they are telling us they are going to create many industries making clothes, I can tell you they don’t have the capacity to do that,” Muhammad Kiyingi said of Uganda’s government. “Somebody should tell the government to think carefully.”

He predicted that tightening restrictions on imports of used clothing from the US would lead to a spike in imports from places like China and the United Arab Emirates instead.

Following Rwanda’s lead would “cause more harm than good,” said Ramathan Ggoobi, an economist at Uganda’s Makerere University. “We have not yet built capacity to produce new products … so we would be protecting an inefficient producer.”

To satisfy the demand for Western fashion, African governments could offer incentives for Western textile companies to set up factories on the continent, said Uche Igwe, an analyst who advises the government in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.

“It is nice to grow our domestic industries and create employment,” he said. “However, we must first fix our infrastructural deficits so that local producers will produce at competitive costs.”


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How to ensure Africa’s bold free trade area propels industrialisation
April 14, 2018 | 0 Comments

Africa’s industrialisation needs a boost. Implemented correctly, the AfCFTA could provide it. Here’s how.


At the Huajian shoe factory in the Eastern Industrial Zone, Ethiopia. Credit: UNIDO.

At the Huajian shoe factory in the Eastern Industrial Zone, Ethiopia. Credit: UNIDO.

On 21 March, dozens of African countries agreed to establish what could be a truly transformative trade deal. At a special African Union summit convened in Rwanda, 44 governments signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The majority of the remaining 11 AU member states signed the Kigali Declaration, a promissory note to ratify the AfCFTA. 27 additionally signed a separate AU Protocol on the Free Movement of People.

Africa’s two biggest economies – Nigeria and South Africa – did not sign the AfCFTA agreement. However, it is expected that they – along with the remaining member states – will do so following national consultations or the fulfilment of constitutional requirements for signing international treaties.

The agreement will enter into force once 22 African countries have ratified the deal. Given the current momentum behind the project, this process is expected to be swift and smooth.

The AfCFTA commits members to cut tariffs down to zero on imports covering 90% of tariff lines, as well as address a host of other non-tariff barriers. All this is expected boost trade between African countries by an impressive 52.3%. This could have momentous repercussions for a trade area that would potentially contain 55 countries, 1.2 billion people, and a combined $2.5 trillion in GDP. It would enable significant scale economies and attract external investment.

More intra-African trade would also have crucial knock-on effects. Given that manufactured goods make up a much higher proportion of regional exports than those leaving the continent – 41.9% compared to 14.8% in 2014 – more intra-African trade means much more opportunity for industrialisation.

As noted in a recent report by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Africa is bizarrely less industrialised today than it was three decades ago. In 2014, manufacturing contributed just 9.8% on average to Africa’s GDP, a quarter lower than in 1990. Africa’s exports today still predominantly consist of primary commodities and raw materials, with fuels alone accounting for 53.9% of exports in 2014.

At the same time, however, manufacturing in Africa is on the rise in absolute terms. Between 2009 and 2014, for instance, manufacturing production grew at an average 5.1% per year in real terms, with particularly strong performances in Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Niger and Sudan.

Statistics show that from 2004 to 2014, the value of African manufacturing exports more than doubled. Meanwhile, in 2016, UNCTAD calculated that the manufacturing sector now contributes approximately one-fifth of Africa’s inward FDI stock.

Despite a disappointing backdrop, these trends are promising and suggest that with the right impetus, they could be accelerated.

Industrialisation matters

The benefits of industrialisation – and the reasons it’s been central to national development strategies across Africa – are clear to see.

Manufactured goods are much less vulnerable to fluctuating global prices than extractive goods, meaning they can provide a more sustainable tax base. They are more frequently produced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which comprise about 80% of all enterprises in Africa, and are therefore key to poverty reduction. And, perhaps most importantly, manufactured goods tend to be labour intensive, meaning they can better create jobs for Africa’s bulging youth population.

Industrialisation is also crucial to transforming the agricultural sector, which accounts for about half of Africa’s workforce. Increasing agricultural productivity through agro-processing would help reduce rural poverty and facilitate the release of more labour. These workers could move onto the more productive activity of manufacturing itself, whose output is six times that of agriculture.

Making the AfCFTA work for industrialisation

It is for these reasons that the AfCFTA has been specifically designed to drive industrialisation. It is crucial this remains a priority as the agreement is implemented. How can this be done?

To begin with, the ratification and implementation of the agreement must be expedited. Industries on the continent must have time to find and build their competitive edge before African markets are further opened up to the rest of the world.

The AfCFTA’s process of reducing tariffs should also prioritise “intermediate goods” – namely semi-finished products used in the production of final goods. This would boost incentives for businesses to source these inputs from within Africa and support the expansion of manufacturing.

The removal of non-tariff barriers and harmonisation of standards across borders could also focus initially on products with industrial potential. Mechanisms to monitor non-tariff barriers, simple rules of origin requirements, and common accreditation practices will be crucial in supporting the expansion of industrial supply chains between African countries.

The AfCFTA’s second phase will see negotiations around investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy. This much-needed legal framework – in particular common investment rules – should facilitate cross-border investments that could alleviate constraints to intra-African trade including in infrastructure and technology. This would further help regional industrialisation.

Finally, if the AfCFTA is to fulfil its potential in boosting African manufacturing, it must come up with a clear digital strategy. Technological innovations such as automation threaten traditionally labour-intensive routes to industrialisation. The continent must be ready to address these challenges, but also recognise the opportunities these trends present.

Expanding the scope of the AfCFTA to include e-commerce, for instance, could provide a platform for connecting African businesses. Meanwhile, it should be recognised that while technology may remove some routes to employment, new jobs are being created in agro-processing as well as trade-related sectors such as branding, marketing, logistics, transportation and distribution. In fact, services now account for over 50% of Africa’s GDP, although there is scope to move from low to higher value services.

With discussions over the AfCFTA’s implementation ongoing at the AU, it is promising that the continent’s leaders appreciate that the landmark agreement could play a game-changing role in Africa’s industrialisation. This is not an opportunity to be missed.

*Source African Arguments. David Luke & Lily Sommer  is Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre at the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Lily Sommer is a Trade Policy Fellow at the African Trade Policy Centre

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Bribes Lose Their Fizz as Angolan Leader Fights Corruption
April 14, 2018 | 0 Comments
  • President Joao Lourenco puts corruption fight center stage
  • ‘From now on, everyone is equal before the law,’ analyst says
Joao Lourenco. Photographer: Ampe Rogerio/AFP via Getty Images

Joao Lourenco. Photographer: Ampe Rogerio/AFP via Getty Images

Corruption used to be so widespread in Angola that “gasosa,” the Portuguese word for a fizzy drink, became a common term for bribes. Now, President Joao Lourenco is on a drive to change that — and the son of his predecessor could soon be put on trial.

 Popularly known as the “terminator,” Lourenco is one of several African leaders who have put fighting graft at the center stage of their policies, pledging to dismantle corrupt business networks that have undermined state revenue. South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Tanzania’s John Magufuli and Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo have also encouraged the prosecution of corrupt officials and criticized citizens for normalizing a culture of bribery.
Lourenco, 64, has some way to go. Angola consistently ranked among the world’s 20 worst offenders on Berlin-based Transparency International’s corruption index after the country emerged from an almost three-decade long civil war in 2002 and tapped huge offshore oil reserves that transformed it into Africa’s second-biggest oil producer.
 “Things are changing so fast that people are scared of taking bribes,” Nuno Borges, head of the country’s car dealers’ association, said by phone. “Today, it’s rare for someone to pay a bribe to a policeman because they know they can get into serious trouble.”
 Thirsty Policemen

For years, offering “gasosas” would give access to basic public services or materialize multi-million dollar building contracts. Policemen or government officials who signaled they were thirsty and in urgent need of a soda were in reality asking for a bribe.

But the culture of bribery is losing its allure as Lourenco has vowed to hold corrupt officials accountable. It’s part of his strategy to make Angola more attractive to foreign investors and help the oil-dependent economy recover from the 2014 drop in crude prices. He’s also said authorities will repatriate funds held by Angolans in overseas accounts if they don’t bring the money back to invest in the country.

“Corruption happens because there is impunity,” Lourenco said in January. “That’s the reason why corruption is widespread at all levels — from the person who asks for a bribe on the street to those who hold prominent positions.”

In November, Edson Vaz, the Treasury director at the Finance Ministry, was accused of embezzlement and sent to jail. In February, a judge in the capital, Luanda, handed suspended prison sentences to two officials at the Health Ministry for the misappropriation of state funds meant to fight malaria.

Dos Santos Family

Graft became pervasive under Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled for almost four decades. When he stepped down as president in September, his children held top positions. His billionaire daughter Isabel was at the helm of the state oil giant Sonangol, his son Jose Filomeno headed a $5 billion wealth fund and two other children had contracts to manage Angola’s public TV channels.

Even though Lourenco was picked by Dos Santos as his successor, he swiftly moved to untangle the grip of the Dos Santos family on the country’s economy, dismissing Isabel and Jose Filomeno within weeks of assuming office. Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman, has told the Portuguese newspaper Negocios that the government is conducting a politically motivated campaign to tarnish her reputation.

Then, last month, authorities charged Jose Filomeno and the former head of the central bank, Valter Filipe da Silva, with fraud for allegedly transferring $500 million from a central bank account to a bank in London shortly before presidential elections last year. The Finance Ministry said the transfer was part of a plan to defraud the government of $1.5 billion.

Both men were barred from leaving the country, according to deputy state prosecutor Luis Benza Zanga, who said the case involves other people.

Jose Filomeno dos Santos said in a statement last month he will cooperate with authorities “for the full and satisfactory resolution” of the case.

The fact that Jose Filomeno, who was previously untouchable, has been publicly named as a suspect and will be prosecuted “was crucial in sending the message to ordinary Angolans that, from now on, everyone is equal before the law,” said Paulo Carvalho, a sociologist at Agostinho Neto University in Luanda.

“Angolans were used to a law that only applied to the weak and poor,” he said by phone. “What we are witnessing is the rebirth of hope for ordinary people who have been neglected for many years.”


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Africa Innovation Summit II Call for Application Launched Across Africa For Innovations Addressing Continent’s Challenges
April 14, 2018 | 0 Comments
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, April 13th, 2018, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Africa Innovation Summit (AIS II), which will take place from 6-8 June 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, under the esteemed patronage of His Excellences President Paul Kagame and Pedro Pires (ex-President of Cabo Verde), announced a call for applications to innovators across Africa whose solutions have the potential to solve the continent’s challenges.
The AIS II seeks innovative and disruptive solutions to the major challenges facing African countries, which include energy access, water, food insecurity, health systems, and governance. As a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and actions, AIS II will bring together people with the power to act, from all parts of the continent and elsewhere, including Heads of States and Governments, Ministers, corporates, innovators, investors, policy makers and academics, researchers, as well as policy, science and technology experts, with the aim of building robust ecosystems for innovation in Africa to ensure Africa’s structural transformation.

Dr. Olugbenga Adesida, co-Director of AIS, indicated that “AIS provides more than a robust and dynamic platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue, but rather a catalyst for “Made in Africa” innovations that are already addressing the challenges faced on the continent, but need assistance to take root and scale across the continent. ”

The AIS has partnered with Enterpriseroom, a transformation consultancy specializing in starting, sustaining, and accelerating businesses, to drive the sourcing and selection of up to 50 Innovations across the continent, to be showcased at the Summit. The CEO of Entepriseroom, Tracey Webster, said “We are delighted to partner with the AIS and believe the innovations selected to be showcased at the Summit will have a unique opportunity to engage the right stakeholders when it comes to discussing and unlocking blockages in the eco-system that are preventing solutions from going to scale, or ideas being commercialized.” AIS firmly believes that the solutions are in Africa and innovators need to be at the table architecting a conducive environment for Innovation to thrive in Africa.

AIS is therefore calling all African innovators to apply for this unique opportunity. The innovators selected must meet the following criteria:
* Know or have an innovative idea or solution that can drive positive change in Africa and;
* The solution must be at a critical stage: either ready to commercilaise or ready to scale.

The identified innovators will meet influential people, policy makers, and investors who are ready to discuss Africa’s development challenges and ways to solve them. They will also have the opportunity to interact with
like-minded African innovators and change agents who are driving a new era of change in Africa.

Applications and additional information can be found on the AIS website: Applications close Midnight Sunday 15 April 2018 (CAT).

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Nigeria climb in FIFA World Rankings, Tunisia remain in top spot
April 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ed Dove*

Ali Maaloul of Tunisia, DR Congo's Jordon Ikoko

Ali Maaloul of Tunisia, DR Congo’s Jordon Ikoko

World Cup-bound Tunisia remain Africa’s highest placed team in the latest edition of the FIFA World Rankings, released on Thursday, while Nigeria are among the continent’s big movers.

The Carthage Eagles enjoyed a successful international break, in which they defeated Iran and Costa Rica, and climb a whopping nine places overall to 14th in the world.

Their ascent leaves them ahead of Mexico, Colombia and Uruguay, and only one place behind England, one of their Group G opponents at the World Cup in Russia.

Senegal, another of the continent’s quintet in Russia, are second-placed in Africa but drop one place overall to 28th, while the Democratic Republic of Congo complete CAF’s top three after climbing one spot to 38th globally.

Tunisia are Africa’s big movers in the upper echelon of the continent’s sides, but lower down the pecking order, Tanzania have also moved nine spots up to 137th place after a productive international break in which they downed the DRC.

Nigeria’s spot has been boosted by their friendly victory over Poland as they climb five places to 47th in the world. The Super Eagles remain sixth in the continent, behind Morocco (42nd) and Egypt (46th).

Ghana climb three places despite not playing during the international break, leaving them tied with Africa’s champions Cameroon in 51st, while South Africa’s victory in the Four Nations tournament sees them move up four spots to 72nd.

By contrast, Liberia were the big losers of the latest updates as they plunge 16 places to 151st globally. Rwanda, Sudan and Benin were some of the other nations to have taken a significant tumble in the rankings.

*Culled from ESPN

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Leon Balogun relishing Messi challenge at World Cup
April 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
Enzo Perez of Argentina vies for the ball with Leon Balogun of Nigeria during the International Friendly Match between Argentina and Nigeria at Krasnodar Stadium on November 14, 2017 in Krasnodar, Russia.

Enzo Perez of Argentina vies for the ball with Leon Balogun of Nigeria during the International Friendly Match between Argentina and Nigeria at Krasnodar Stadium on November 14, 2017 in Krasnodar, Russia.Pic credit Epsilon/Getty Images Europe

The prospect of going up against Lionel Messi and Argentina at the World Cup in Russia will be major thrill for Nigeria’s Super Eagles, with defender Leon Balogun saying it could turn out to be one of his career highlights.

The Mainz defender will be one of the players charged with silencing the Argentine genius when their two nations clash in their third Group D game in Saint Petersburg on June 26.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Balogun told KweséESPN. “I’m really looking forward to it, he’s one of my favourite players.

“I love to watch him play, but when we play them I have to forget about that and the beauty of his game.”

Balogun also insists that Nigeria won’t just be keeping an eye on Messi during the game, but also on his jersey after the match when they players swap shirts.

“A lot of players will ask for his shirt,” Balogun continued. “I might have to bribe a few.

“We will have to find a solution. Maybe I can get a message to Messi that he mustn’t just bring one jersey but bring 11 so everybody is happy afterwards!”

Nigeria and Argentina are familiar foes and, remarkably, this is the fifth time in their sixth World Cup appearance that the Super Eagles have been pitted against the South American giants.

The two sides having also met in a friendly in Krasnodar in November, with Nigeria running out 4-2 winners after a fine second-half fightback.

“I was outside on the pitch and didn’t see the draw on TV live, I just checked my phone when I came back to the change room,” Balogun added. “The physio and players who had stayed inside said to me: ‘Do you want to know, do you want to know? Then my Argentine teammate Pablo de Blasis said to me ‘Hey Leon! We are playing in the same group again’.’

“‘I said ‘Oh no, come on, every time the same group, this is getting boring!’ But seriously I think it’s a nice challenge.

“It’s similar to the group we had during the qualifiers, one of the most exciting groups I think and very competitive, but the chances [to qualify to the second stage] are there.

“Argentina is a team that stand for themselves if you look at their players and their individual quality but they are beatable,” he concluded. “I’m very optimistic.”

  • Source ESPN
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