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Africa and the Global Security Architecture
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

Africa must ensure that its positions on international security concerns – and not just African issues – are carefully coordinated and well presented as it seeks to have a permanent position in the international security architecture.

By Kofi Annan*

At the outset of these remarks, allow me to thank our Chairman for inviting me to the Tana Forum. This is the first time I am attending this prestigious event, which brings together many distinguished participants who share a deep, mutual interest in the security and well-being of Africa.

Our topic this afternoon is Africa and the Global Security Architecture.

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

During the Cold War years that would have not been a subject for much discussion. In those days, we looked for big-power champions who could provide diplomatic and security cover.

The contemporary world is far more complex.

And, as the awful atrocities that have been perpetrated in West, East and North Africa have shown, the continent is not immune to the security threats that many countries around the world now face.

But I want to start with some good news. Africa is actually doing better than many people may realize in terms of the security of its citizenry.

Today, and despite a few egregious exceptions, armed conflict is actually a smaller risk to most Africans than traffic accidents.

This improvement of the security situation helped set the stage for rapid economic growth of 5-6% per year for the last fifteen years.

As a result of this sustained period of growth, extreme poverty has fallen by 40% since 1990.

And Africa’s growth can no longer be explained just by global demand for its commodities.

Two thirds of Africa’s growth over the last decade has come from increased domestic demand for goods and services in thriving sectors such as telecoms, financial services, manufacturing and construction.

As a result, today, inflows of private investment dwarf international aid.

They have been encouraged by the efforts of governments across Africa to improve their macro-economic environments.

Although there is still some way to go, we have seen encouraging steps towards gender parity, and the continent is moving towards universal primary education.

The spread of HIV/AIDS is in decline, and the number of deaths from tuberculosis and malaria is falling.

Democracy is extending its roots as Burkina Faso, Guinea and Nigeria have recently demonstrated.

Other countries like Cote d’Ivoire, have emerged from the abyss of conflict and are making strides towards a better and more democratic future.

In other words, our continent is generally heading in the right direction.

This encouraging analysis will come, I know, as very cold comfort for those millions of people who are still living every day in the shadow of violent conflict and abject poverty.

Progress remains uneven, and the dangers today are both internal and external.

Rebel groups have flourished in the impoverished parts of weak states that feel hard-done by their governments, where the population is often abused by the security forces, or where they do not trust the courts to deliver justice.

External forces are taking advantage of these shortcomings. We cannot ignore that from Mauritania in the west to Somalia in the east, the flag of Jihad is being raised.

More than a dozen sub-Saharan countries are concerned, and tens of thousands have already died as a result.

Boko Haram actually killed more people last year than the Islamic State. Attacks in many places are a daily or weekly occurrence.

And local extremist groups are now linking up to each other across borders, and even to global franchises like Al Qaeda or Islamic State.

Precisely because of these affiliations, these conflicts are generally seen through a unique prism: the global war on Islamist terrorism.

This neglects what they have in common with other insurgencies on the continent, which have nothing to do with Islam.

It is no secret that unemployed young men are especially vulnerable to the temptations of violence and easily instrumentalised for that purpose.

This is not a specifically Muslim problem: a World Bank survey in 2011 showed that about 40% of those who join rebel movements say they are motivated by a lack of jobs.

In Africa, as elsewhere, the answer does not lie in a purely military response that fails to deal with the root causes of disaffection and violence.

As I constantly repeat, you cannot have peace and security without inclusive development, the rule of law and the respect for human rights. These are the three pillars of all successful societies.

It is largely because these three pillars are quite fragile in parts of Africa that we are still seeing instability and violence.

The truth is that the economic growth in Africa over the last fifteen years, though impressive, has been neither sufficient nor inclusive.

In fact, Africa has become the world’s second most unequal continent, according to the African Development Bank.

Too much of that growth has enriched a narrow elite and not enough was spent on infrastructure, health or education, which would have fostered development.

It is no coincidence that Boko Haram originated in one of the world’s poorest and most deprived areas of the continent.

Not only does wealth not trickle down, but it is barely taxed, depriving the state of resources to provide public services.

It is not just that Africa is unequal: it is also unfair. An African Union report has estimated that up to one quarter of the continent’s GDP is syphoned off every year through corruption.

The trafficking of drugs creates an especially difficult challenge. Drug money is insidious and invasive. It corrodes political institutions.

We must focus on the money trail.  We have been locking up the minor offenders while the big fish swim free.

The fight against violent rebel movements is necessary, and will require enhanced inter-African as well as international cooperation.

But this is not enough because the challenge of security in Africa is often a political challenge revolving around the acquisition and use of power.

As a result, elections are a source of tension and repression rather than an opportunity for the free expression of political will.

Leaders who hang on to power indefinitely by gaming elections and suppressing criticism and opposition are sowing the seeds of violence and instability.

African leaders, like leaders everywhere, must remember that they are at the service of their citizens, and not the other way around.

They have a mandate given to them, in trust, by their people, who can also take it away from them if they are found wanting and to have outstayed their welcome.

So looking forward, I see five critical challenges for Africa as it fashions its role in the global security order.

First, at the global level, Africa must have a strong and consistent voice at the pinnacle of the international security architecture – in the Security Council.

Ideally, this means African permanent seats. But until that can be accomplished, Africa must ensure that its positions on international security concerns – and not just African issues – are carefully coordinated and well presented.

Second, at the regional level, we should recognize and applaud the work of the AU and the sub-regional organisations, which have acquired considerable and commendable experience in mounting peace operations.

This effort must continue. But African states will have to give the AU the means to do so and, in future, rely less on outside funding.

Third, looking to the national level, the most urgent challenge is to create enough jobs for the continent’s youth.

According to the World Bank, eleven million young people are expected to enter Africa’s labour market every year for the next decade.

If these young people cannot find jobs, and do not believe in the future, they may be tempted by rebel movements of all kinds, as well as crime and migration.

Wherever I am in Africa, I am always struck not just by the number of young people, but also by their energy, their creativity and their talent.

We should invest in them, harness their talent and ensure that the next generation of leaders will do better than we have done.

Another major challenge lies in building confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.

Elections should be the vehicle for popular choice in which the winner does not take all and the losers do not lose all.

Those who win must recognize that they do not have a licence to rule without restraint or remain in office in perpetuity.

Let us not confuse legality with legitimacy. Elections that meet legal form but fail the test of integrity are only pyrrhic victories that usually store up trouble for the future.

Finally, I want to mention the quality of national security forces. Madiba once said that “freedom would be meaningless without security in the home and in the streets”.

That security in the home and in the streets depends in good measure on our security forces.

We must invest in them but also make them fully accountable as part of our democratic societies. They must be trained to protect the individual and his or her family and property, to earn their trust and work with the people.

We have come a long way from the Cold War days.

Africa is now part and parcel of the global security architecture.

We can and must step up to that role by investing in our people and by protecting rights and not just regimes.

If we do that, I am convinced that our future will be more peaceful and secure than our recent past and Africa will exert a powerful and constructive influence within the global security architecture.

*Real News. Kofi Annan, President of the Kofi Annan Foundation, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Prize Laureate, presented this Keynote Address at the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa which Held from April 16 – 17, 2016, in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

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The State of Peace and Security in Africa
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments
Olusegun Obasanjo

Olusegun Obasanjo

‘Traditional’ causes of conflict, insecurity and violence still persist and have gained greater currency today and when they are unattended and unaddressed, they will invariably lead to group dissatisfaction, breed grievances and incubate injustice.

|  By Olusegun Obasanjo*

  1. When some six years ago, the late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, invited and convinced me to take on the task of establishing and managing the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, little did I realise how African security issues would transform in substantive and radically different ways within half a decade. I shared Meles’ vision and we started to work. In the first year, our topic was diversity and its management as a source of insecurity. In the second year, we moved to organised crime and how to curtail it. In the third year, we dealt with illicit financial flows and its implications on security. Last year, which was the fourth year of the Tana Forum, our topic was Secularism and Politicized Faith in Africa. This year, I am particularly delighted that another timely and appropriate theme has been chosen: on “Africa in the Global Security Agenda.”
  1. Before giving you a panoramic overview of the African security landscape since we met at this same venue one year ago, let me note-with satisfaction-one key addition we have made to the structure of this event: the institutionalisation of the Meles Zenawi Annual Lecture Series. In this series, we examine in as much detail as possible and within the time available, the leadership qualities, styles, deficiencies and legacies of a particular leader. So far, we have x-rayed Meles Zenawi as a leader; we have followed this with Nelson Mandela; then Kwame Nkurumah; and this year, it is Patrice Lumumba. As a young army officer, on UN peacekeeping duties in 1960 in the then Congo Leopoldville, I had the honour of meeting Patrice Lumumba. He was certainly a leader.
  1. The informality that has now become the distinguishing hallmark of the multi-stakeholder Tana Forum is testament to our conviction that mobilising diverse views and perspectives on pertinent security problems, even when the go against conventional wisdom, is crucial in our quest for lasting solutions to the seemingly intractable peace and security challenges we face as a continent. The continent’s challenges are not the issues of a few individuals in Africa but affect all Africans and therefore require all voices to be heard and accommodated. After all, the security challenges experienced by Africans are not contained within the continent only. The same can be said for security challenges from outside which Africans have also to contend with almost on daily basis. Indeed, a testimony to the fact that our lives as Africans are closely intertwined with those of other parts of the world is evident in how violence in one part of the world has grave consequences for stability and security on the continent, and vice versa.
  1. The transnational nature of conflicts today calls for innovative thinking and collaborative action in their resolution. Any sound and long lasting solutions to the myriad of security challenges the continent faces require in-depth analysis of each conflict system inclusive of and led by local actors. Those who breathe and live the disrupting effects of violent conflicts are in a better position to express where the proverbial shoes pinch.
  1. The complexity of existing conflicts, and newly emerging threats, in Africa means there cannot be a one-size fits all approach to managing and resolving them. We need to vary our approaches to suit the local contexts, and to heed the voices of those caught in the web of prolonged violent conflicts. Since we have two days, with eminently qualified persons leading us through the topic for this year, I will not dwell any further on the theme of this year’s Forum.
  1. Now, let us go to the panorama of peace and security challenges on the continent since the last time we all converged at this same venue. It is clear for me that old-or ‘traditional’ causes of conflict, insecurity and violence still persist and have gained greater currency today. They can be one or more of the following: inadequate attention to the issue of diversity, leading to marginalization, exclusions, lack of popular participation; inequity, inequality, uneven development and oppression; inadequate attention to education and unemployment particularly of youth; gender inequality; and of course religious bigotry. The presence of any of these, or more than one, in sufficient magnitude for any length of time, when unattended and unaddressed, invariably lead to group dissatisfaction, breed grievances and incubate injustice. Together, they allow groups to seek redress through a variety of unwholesome means, including armed insurgencies and terrorism.
  1. Developments in Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Côte d’Ivoire, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Somalia and Tunisia reflect the recurrent volatility that confronts the continent on a daily basis. Such protracted conflicts not only have a debilitating impact on the continent’s pathways to development, but also place huge strain on the peace-making, peacekeeping and peace-building efforts of African States and inter-governmental institutions. Even if, as some have claimed that the number of conflicts in Africa has decreased in nominal terms since 2014, we are daily reminded about the fragility and susceptibility of the continent to a variety of ominous and vicious conflicts.
  1. In reflecting on the state of peace and security in Africa in 2015, and its far-reaching repercussions for Africa, and the world, let me quickly underscore the troubling resurgence of Africa’s long-forgotten conflicts. Notably, one of the worst plagued in this regard is the Great Lakes region. We see this recurrence, time and again, in DRC where the situation has remained volatile; marked by the atrocious activities of various armed groups. That conflict, especially in the Eastern DRC, epitomizes the hybrid nature of conflicts in Africa where armed groups are locked in battles that have turned the region into a gangster’s paradise, with serious regional dimensions and ramifications. The international community, led by African governments and institutions, must bear this in mind in fashioning such a viable and sustainable solution to one of the continent’s most intractable conflict.
  1. The potentials of DRC are enormous and so are the internal contestations and contradictions. If care is not taken, the forthcoming election in the DRC is likely going to further fuel the existing conflict. How the election is conducted, for good or bad, will also determine the trajectory of peace in the country, but also across the wider Great Lakes region. It will undoubtedly also become the litmus for AU’s pro-active management of potential conflict and the seriousness and ingenuity of the international community.
  1. If one country deserves our eternal vigilance and decisive action to pull from the brinks of an unnecessary and full-scale war, Burundi would no doubt qualify. No one should disbelief how quickly an already tense situation in that country, one of the poorest in the world according to the UN Human Development Index, has deteriorated-especially following the decision by the incumbent President Pierre Nkuruziza to seek re-election despite the evident constitutional backlashes. To date, the government has not only remained headstrong but also seemed determined to defy wise counsel from the international community; including those from the African Union.
  1. Despite the endorsement by the UN Security Council via statement of December 19, 2015 of the decision of the AU to deploy 5,000-strong troops to maintain law and order, and to protect civilians, the government in Bujumbura vehemently opposes its deployment, and even went as far as threatening to treat it as an army of occupation. It is not surprising to me, however, shameful, that during the just-concluded AU Assembly in January 2016, the Union quietly stepped back from its earlier proposal by adopting a position virtually encouraging what is going on in Burundi. The on-going situation in Burundi only makes Africa a laughing stock. Collectively, African leaders must summon the political will to bring a quick and durable solution to the country.
  1. Collectively, African leaders must summon the political will to bring a quick and durable solution to the country. Whatever it takes, a solution must be put in place to move the country towards peace, security and progress; and to stem the tide of flow of refugees that is threatening neighbouring countries. I must express what may be a distasteful personal opinion here: I found it contrary to the Constitutive Act of the AU that Burundi should threaten the AU; and by such threat, abdicate its responsibility. Before it is too late, the AU must therefore live up to its responsibility in such a situation to save the lives of Africans.
  1. However, we must not feel shy of demanding and insistently so, for restitution from the US and Europe for unlocking the virus through the action of NATO in Libya. President Obama’s conscience may be clear by admitting recently that he and his NATO allies created a mess in Libya, but that does not pay for the hardship suffered by our people. They should not look away while we grapple with the consequences of their action. Such strength of AU and regional economic communities to make demands for harm done and to stand firm on our responsibilities must obviate a situation where, like in Mali and Central African Republic, African forces were not able to intervene before troops from outside came in. How do we talk of African solutions for African problems when in the face of problems we are impotent to act promptly and decisively? That was not the situation in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo and Darfur. Africa can, if there is political will and leadership.
  1. Another major flashpoint is Darfur. That conflict alone, long only slightly on our radar, continues to generate unprecedented humanitarian crisis leading to the outflow of tens of thousands of civilians from their homes. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate with the displacement of more than 2.5 million civilians on the last count.
  1. In the south of the continent, Mozambique is now grappling with a residue of conflict between two diehard archenemies: the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and the Resistance Movement of Mozambique (RENAMO). With its roots in an earlier civil war which started in 1977, just two years following a devastating spell of independence war, the present conflict flared up in 2013 due to factors not far from festering power contestations, perennial concerns about governance conditions, and of course, the recent discovery of natural resources such as coal and gas.
  1. Whereas many parts of Africa may not necessarily be experiencing overt forms of direct violence, they are nonetheless faced with unprecedented situations of fragility and vulnerability to conflicts. Zimbabwe offers a good example in this regard; but it should not by any means be considered a poster case. More than two years to the next general elections in 2018, tension is already brewing around leadership contestations and factional politics within the ruling and opposition parties, and between them. The dust has not fully settled on the Ugandan post-election situation, and we must not miss the ominous prospects in Zambia.
  1. Of the ten countries that the International Crisis Group identified as conflicts to watch in 2016, four are in Africa: Libya, Lake Chad Basin with the epicentre in Nigeria, South Sudan and Burundi. Other areas that are low-levelled but are nonetheless smouldering are Mali and Somalia, even as pockets of insurgencies linger in Algeria, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic. The conflict between Western Sahara and Morocco continues to linger many decades since it first broke out, while ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood are far from being spent forces in Egypt. In recent times, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, like Tunisia, have been hit by a new wave of terrorism which goes for the soft underbelly of seemingly conflict-free countries; killing innocent men and women in international hotels and popular resorts.
  1. No country in Africa can claim immunity against this new wave, and none of them can claim to be adequately prepared for it. We are all potential victims that we are left with no choice but to share intelligence, plan together and work together. Because terrorists have become creative with the use of modern infrastructures of border communication, transportation and financial transaction, African governments must make these facilities useful and indispensable servants in the fight against new generation terrorists whose objective is to destroy, instil fear, and kill while rendering government impotent to provide adequate security for their citizens.
  1. In all these cases, it is important to flag how decades of missed developmental opportunities have partly played a part in the exclusion and alienation of youth who now form the bulk of those that have found alternative spaces for rebellion and other forms of insurgent and terrorist activities.
  1. Let me now come to the dangerous and dehumanizing issue of migration from Africa to Europe, which has made the Mediterranean the maritime graveyard for many of our able-bodied brothers and sisters. There are two basic causes; first, physical insecurity due to violence; and second, economic insecurity due to unemployment and poverty. The answer, or antidote, to both is here in Africa, in our different countries, if only we can muster the necessary political will and commitment to act. The only way, in my view, to stem the tide is to embark on policies, programmes and strategies that create jobs and eliminate conditions that impoverishes, dehumanizes and snatches the dignity and self-pride of our people from them. For every African that dies crossing the Mediterranean either trying to escape violence or economic insecurity, our collective conscience as African leaders must be troubled.
  1. Today, Africans are grappling with the challenges associated with climate change; which, by the way, is no longer esoteric and ‘distant’, but have also become such a difficult burden we have to bear. Climate change not only undermines economic growth and development, but also poses significant threat to the continent’s food security even as it is fuelling other environmental vulnerabilities and conflicts. While climate change is affecting every part of the globe, I would hasten to add that the African continent would likely be more vulnerable to its adverse impacts being already the warmest continent.
  1. The threat from climate change is compounded by our limited access to requisite adaptation knowledge, technologies and institutions. The African Group of Negotiators tried their best to make Africa’s voice heard during the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris; making the strong point that Africa only produces 7% of the world’s CO-2 emissions but faces the most threats from global pollution. The adoption of a Common African Position at that meeting, in my view, was an exemplary step to position Africa on the global climate agenda; and, by extension, on the international security agenda.
  1. Let’s not ignore the myriad other non-conventional threats to security in Africa, but zero in on the one directly linked to the deterioration, or outright collapse, of public health systems in many countries across the continent. Not too long ago, in fact from early 2014 to the end of 2015, Africa grappled with the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease, with countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea being the most severely affected. Although the frightening phase seems to be over, but it is too early to celebrate that we have put it, or other diseases, behind us. There is no doubt that the impact of this epidemic was monumental on the continent’s fledgling governance and socio-economic landscape. We must learn the right lessons for the future and make adequate preparation. No country is immune.
  1. The prerequisite to tackle all of the pressing security issues spilling over from 2015 to 2016, and to strengthening Africa’s standing in the international security agenda is leadership. Here, I should emphasize leadership on all levels -local, municipal, national, regional, continental and global. Where and when leadership is asserted, commitment should follow. Commitment means putting our money where our problems are, not expecting others to take the lead on our behalf. Africa needs to start taking responsibility, in concrete terms, by funding its own peace initiatives and developmental priorities.
  1. To start with, AU member-States must pay their contributions to the general budget, and also those for critical political missions and peace operations. An organization that is still mostly funded by external donors, including for the most basic routine of travels, will only have limited elbowroom, or policy autonomy, when the interests of its key benefactors are at stake.
  1. I would like to return to my earlier point, by way of conclusion, that the security threats that Africa faces affect the rest of the world; just as those faced by the rest of the world have profound implication for Africa. This means, in my view, that we have no choice than to work together. We therefore need to explore the far-reaching benefits and opportunities of our mutual interdependence to create the kind of partnerships that are crucial to overcoming common security challenges.
  1. While we are grateful to our technical and financial partners, my take is that Africa has sufficiently come of age to choose its partners wisely if it must secure the common goal of peace and security for itself, and the rest of the world. As a continent, we need to take a serious look our security priorities and infrastructure, and ask a number of overdue questions: what can Africans do themselves to deal with these issues; where does Africa need to partner with international actors; and what should be the continent’s role in formulating security policies globally? Let us try to answer these questions, and more during this year’s Forum.
  • Source Real Magazine.Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria and chairman of the Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa delivered this paper entitled: “The State of Peace and Security in Africa 2016″ at the Tana Forum which took place in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on Saturday, April 16, 2016
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Why the wealth of Africa does not make Africans wealthy
April 19, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Kieron Monks*

A gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country holds natural resources worth trillions of dollars but the population is blighted with extreme poverty and violence. In a new edition of his book 'The Looting Machine,' investigative journalist Tom Burgis explores why resource-rich states are failing their people

A gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country holds natural resources worth trillions of dollars but the population is blighted with extreme poverty and violence.
In a new edition of his book ‘The Looting Machine,’ investigative journalist Tom Burgis explores why resource-rich states are failing their people

Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo is blessed with enormous natural wealth, including vast deposits of precious minerals such as diamonds, gold, and tantalum.

Katanga saw a spectacular mining boom around the turn of the century, when President Laurent-Desire Kabila and then his son Joseph licensed international mining companies to tap its treasures.
A diamond polishing factory in Botswana, part of a high-skill industry that has been developed from the nation's raw materials.

A diamond polishing factory in Botswana, part of a high-skill industry that has been developed from the nation’s raw materials.

This arrangement generated riches for the Congolese elite, and vastly more for the prospectors, but offered little to the poverty-ravaged population. From 1999 to 2002, the Kabila regime “transferred ownership of at least $5 billion of assets from the state-mining sector to private companies under its control… with no compensation or benefit for the State treasury,” a United Nations investigation found.

The bonanza coincided with a ruthless crackdown on dissent. In 2004, a small, mostly civilian group took over a mine operated by the Australian firm Anvil Mining in Kilwa village, protesting that the company was making huge profits without rewarding the local workforce.
According to a UN report, the Congolese army crushed the uprising and killed around 100 people, many by summary execution.

Modern colonialism

The combination of staggering wealth, rampant violence, and abject poverty in DR Congo is no coincidence, but part of a pattern causing devastation across Africa, according to Financial Times investigative journalist Tom Burgis.
In a new edition of his book The Looting Machine, the author probes the paradox of “the continent that is at once the world’s poorest and, arguably, its richest.”
Burgis, a former correspondent in Lagos and Johannesburg, finds a wide variety of kleptocrats and rackets over his travels through dozens of resource-rich countries. But a common thread is that the wholesale expropriation of resources during colonial times has barely slowed through the post-independence era, albeit with new beneficiaries.
“Western governments are not supposed to wield commercial and political power at the same time, and certainly not to use one to benefit the other,” says Burgis. “In colonial states…The British or Portugese would cultivate a small group of local people who would fuse political and commercial power to control the economy.”
“When the foreign power leaves, you are left with an elite that has no division between political and commercial power. The only source of wealth is mines or oilfields, and that is a recipe for ultra-corrupt states. Somewhere like Nigeria, an ‘extractor elite’…wanted to draw to itself the rent that oil and mining resources generate.”
Burgis cites another colonial hangover in the continued presence and power of oil and mining firms.
“The multinational companies hold enormous economic and political power in post-independence African countries,” he says. “In this way, there is a pretty straight line from colonial exploitation to modern exploitation.”

Fueling oppression

The ability of governments to rely on resource revenue leads to corruption and oppression, Burgis argues, as they are not accountable to their people through a social contract based on taxation and representation.
He cites Angola, which earns almost half of its GDP from oil, as an example of government as “a service for the elite.” A 2011 IMF audit revealed that $32 billion disappeared from official accounts between 2007 and 2010, a quarter of the state’s income.
The Angolan elite rejects accountability and does not tolerate any challenge from the public, Burgis adds, recalling the recent case of activists being jailed for a public reading of a pro-democracy book.
“Government can behave that way if it doesn’t need the consent of its people,” the author says.
Angola has taken steps to address such criticism in recent years, with the 2012 election deemed “generally free and fair” by neutral observers. But human rights groups attest that oppression remains a fact of life.

Secret deals

Innoson Motors factory in Nnewi. Nigeria is attempting to diversify its economy away from oil dependency, and towards manufacturing

Innoson Motors factory in Nnewi. Nigeria is attempting to diversify its economy away from oil dependency, and towards manufacturing

The growth of offshore banking in the late 20th century created new opportunities for resource tycoons to cover their tracks, a practice laid bare in the Panama Papers.

Israeli businessman Dan Gertler was an early pioneer. After forging a close friendship with DR Congo President Joseph Kabila, he was granted a near monopoly on exporting the nation’s diamonds, and quickly became a billionaire. Gertler routed the cash through an elaborate network of offshore accounts in tax havens, keeping the details of controversial deals secret.
“In the case of African resource deals, offshore funds have been shown to conceal questionable transactions,” says Burgis. “In the 1980s, bribes were literally cars full of cash and you handed the key to the official you were trying to bribe.”
“Bribery now is much more sophisticated, and has become harder to define as bribery if it’s (through) offshore transactions or people being given equity shares in offshore companies…You have to crack open a lot of offshore secrecy to see the conflict of interest that lies at the heart of them.”
The era of global finance has opened African markets to a new generation of mysterious traders. Burgis spent years on the trail of elusive Chinese businessman Sam Pa, who has cycled through multiple aliases while making deals across the continent from Angolan oil to Zimbabwean diamonds. Pa is believed to lead the secretive Queensway investor group, and Burgis claims he has represented the Chinese state, although the government denies this.

Breaking the chain

Burgis is skeptical that resource industries can ever be reformed.
“There is a troubling possibility that it’s not possible to put natural resources in these countries to work for the common good,” says Burgess. “(Almost) everywhere that receives a significant share of its income from oil or mining is badly run and often violent — it’s in the nature of these industries to cause these problems.”
Botswana and South Africa have befitted from moving up the value chain — developing high-skilled industries from natural resources rather than just exporting raw materials, such as diamond polishing or manufacturing metallic goods. Burgis believes that diversifying economies away from a single resource — as President Buhari’s government in Nigeria is attempting to do — can mitigate the effects of dependency.
He suggests another option is to keep resources in the country and implement high tariffs to protect domestic industries, but African leaders have been reluctant to adopt such measures.
“We have a world trading architecture with strict rules on imposing tariffs,” says Burgis. “African countries have adopted the market orthodoxy that led them to pare down states and embrace global economic competition — in which they are overwhelmingly the losers.”

Collective complicity

Responsibility for the plight of resource-dependent nations goes beyond traders and dictators. The global economy still requires a huge supply of raw materials that originate in Africa, creating an imperative to maintain the existing, destructive model.
Burgis applauds steps such as the Kimberley Process for preventing ‘blood diamond’ trade, but feels that developed nations could go much further.
“The lesson for those in the West who want to address the damage from oil and mining industries, and the corruption that goes with them, is ‘put your own house in order,'” he says. “There has been a tendency to lecture African rulers (but) the problems are in the world financial system.”
The author suggests a global public registry of companies and trusts to counter the use of shell companies in illicit deals.
“That financial secrecy is available is not Africa’s fault,” says Burgis. “Address the part that sits within the global system, which can be regulated from Western capitals.”
The nature of the global supply chain means that complicity with the crimes around resource extraction extends from African dictators all the way to a European mobile phone buyer.
At every level, delusion is a powerful barrier to change. Burgis recalls a meeting with a leading figure of Angola’s kleptocratic regime, who argued passionately that he was protecting his people from even worse abuses.
“It’s human nature,” says Burgis. “Nobody thinks they are the bad guy.”
*Source CNN
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Eleven Congo women, girls say pregnant by Tanzania peacekeepers -U.N.
April 7, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Michelle Nichols

This Aug 31, 2013 file photo shows U.N. peacekeepers from Tanzania attending a special parade for a slain colleague outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

This Aug 31, 2013 file photo shows U.N. peacekeepers from Tanzania attending a special parade for a slain colleague outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 (Reuters) – Tanzania will investigate accusations that some of its peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo abused and exploited five women and six girls, leaving them all pregnant, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

“We can confirm that out of the 11 allegedly abused women six were minors. Seven of the alleged victims have already given birth and four women are still pregnant,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.

The Tanzanian contingent is part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission’s Force Intervention Brigade, tasked with offensive operations. The mission said it received the allegations in the northeast Congolese village of Mavivi on March 23.

Haq said four of the allegations are linked to members of the current Tanzanian battalion, while the rest were related to the previous contingent. The accused peacekeepers have been detained, while the remaining troops were confined to base.

“Pending the results of an investigation all measures will be considered in terms of how we respond including potentially the repatriation of the unit and command accountability will also be sought,” Haq said.

He said Tanzania told the United Nations on Monday that it had appointed an investigation team, which would travel to Congo in the coming days. He said the United Nations had recommended that Tanzania conduct a joint investigation with the U.N. Office for Internal Oversight Services.

The women and girls had been referred to the U.N. Children’s Agency UNICEF, which has a team on the ground, Haq said.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, which was initially put in place during a civil war that took place in 1998-2003, is the world body’s largest, with around 20,000 uniformed personnel.

The United Nations pledged to crack down on allegations of abuse to avoid a repeat of past mistakes.

The United Nations reported 99 allegations of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse involving U.N. staff members last year, a sharp increase from the 80 allegations in 2014. The majority, 69, involved personnel in 10 peacekeeping missions.

It has been dealing with dozens of accusations of sexual abuse and exploitation against the U.N. peacekeepers in neighboring Central African Republic, where the U.N. troops assumed authority from African Union troops in September 2014.

The United Nations currently has 106,000 troops and police serving in 16 peacekeeping missions. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish)

*Source Reuters

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In central Africa, citizens are using social media to build democracy. Here’s how.
April 7, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Elie Smith*

Congolese displaced residents from the southern districts of Brazzaville take shelter in a church after fleeing intense clashes between security forces and unknown assailants on April 4. (AFP/Getty Images)

Congolese displaced residents from the southern districts of Brazzaville take shelter in a church after fleeing intense clashes between security forces and unknown assailants on April 4. (AFP/Getty Images)

Early Monday, heavy gunfire was reported in Brazzaville in Congo Republic, after disputed elections led President Denis Sassou Nguesso to declare he had been reelected to yet another term in his 32-year rule — continuing a story whose background I will explain in depth below. That fresh fighting reminds us again of the bad news from central Africa, a region that’s also known as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

But here’s the surprise: There’s some good news, too.

Why isn’t central Africa as democratic as neighboring West Africa?

The bad news is that compared with West Africa, where 13 out of 15 countriescan reasonably be described as democracies, central Africa has seen little progress in human rights, free speech or democracy. Central Africa is home to most of the continent’s longest-serving presidents, including not just Nguesso but also Angola’s Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who has spent 37 years in power; Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, also 37 years; Cameroon’s Paul Biya, 33 years; and Chad’s Idriss Derby, 25 years.

That’s true in part because the region is rich in mineral deposits, forests, and other natural resources. Central African leaders know they can continue profiting from lucrative trade relationships, regardless of how undemocratic they are — because even when governments and corporations condemn those leaders’ undemocratic behaviors, they keep paying for those resources.

What’s more, central African states’ political opposition is fragmented, their civil society weak, and their news media fragile. Central African journalism struggles for funds and works under tough or even draconian press laws. Journalists are too often arrested, killed, or expelled when theyinvestigate those in power or report on corruption.

But social media offers some hope

But here’s the good news. Using social media — especially Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter — citizens are reviving moribund civil society organizations, energizing opposition movements, exposing human rights violations and electoral fraud, and rebuilding interest in elections among people who’ve become apathetic after decades of electoral fraud. That’s been true in Rwanda and in Burundi, where activists are using social media to expose state brutality, to support activists, and to exchange information. For instance, in Burundi, according to reporting by OkayAfrica, activists and independent journalists have been highly creative in spreading information via Twitter and online, reporting that:

… the best source for news on the ground is the Soundcloud account SOS Médias BURUNDI. Made up of independent journalists in Burundi now too frightened to work openly, the group posts radio clips to Soundcloud, distributing them viaTweets and Facebook posts.

A vibrant online community congregates around this news, analyzing and poking at it in real time. In August, the satirical hashtag #10millionpresidents became its popular rallying cry. The hashtag is a satirical take on Nkurunziza’s rushed third-term inauguration, proclaiming each and every Burundian a president with many participants posting their presidential platforms and images of themselves taking the oath of office.

Below are country vignettes that highlight how, specifically, social media is being used in particular ECCAS nations.

In Central African Republic, social media was central in pushing outPresident Francois Bozize in 2013. Journalists used their smartphones to film the abuses of the presidential guards, especially in their operations in the north. Those images were circulated via Facebook. It enabled citizens in the main cities of Bangui and Berberati, strongholds of Bozize, to see graphic images of torture carried out by the army and in particular the presidential guards.

Images circulated on Facebook are partly the reason why the Seleka rebels’ support increased in CAR. That also contributed to Bozize’s fall, because he no longer had popular support. When the Seleka rebels took over after Bozize, social media activists then used the same method against the Seleka. This time around, journalists and some politicians used both Whatsapp and Facebook to expose the new government’s abuses as well.

Through Whatsapp and Facebook, CAR citizens first discovered the mass graves of people who were killed by the Seleka rebels. That’s also how CAR citizens learned that foreign soldiers — in particular, from Sudan and Chad — had helped the Seleka rebels gain power and were now looting their country.

When the country held its first presidential elections after the conflict, watchdogs used social media to keep the outcome honest. In the first electoral round, Faustin-Archange Touadera finished second against Anicet-George Dologuele. Opposition candidates and social activists threw their support to Touadera for the second round.

And here’s how social media was key. Some pro-democracy activists, journalists and groups fighting corruption used Whatsapp and Facebook to circulate information on how Dologuele’s time as prime minister was marred by corruption. Before the electoral commission could declare a winner, local electoral observers used Facebook and Whatsapp to announce that the president-elect was Touadera, based on firsthand accounts from individual central Africans observing the votes being tallied locally. They used smartphones to film results slips — which made it far more difficult for the centralized elections commission to change the results.

CAR citizens believed that Touadera had been fairly elected, and the nation avoided post-election violence.

In Cameroon, social media activists and opposition parties have teamed up against President Biya’s plan to run for a seventh term in 2018. Using Whatsapp in particular, activists have helped expose severe failings in the country’s health system. Social media outrage prompted civil society organizations to turn out in massive numbers to demonstrate against the death of a pregnant woman who was not attended to at the hospital because she had no money. The government was forced to justify her death on television and radio, something that Cameroon’s government officials rarely do.

So what’s happening, in particular, in Congo-Brazzaville?

In that country, where we’ve just seen violence, democracy activists are relying mostly on Facebook pages to expose human rights abuses and electoral fraud and to revive the political opposition. Congo’s opposition had long denounced the government’s fraudulent election practices — as when, in an October referendum, the government declared that citizens had agreed to throw out constitutional term limits and allow President Nguesso to stand for a third term. But social media had not been widely used before this year’s presidential elections, so there was little evidence to support the fraud allegations.

However, the March 20 elections were different. In the run-up to the vote, activists used social media in two major ways.

First, they used Facebook postings to successfully unite opposition voters behind challengers to Nguesso, after Nguesso’s camp made strategic mistakes. For instance, on social media, citizens posted evidence that the government was systematically arresting people close to one opponent, Andre Okombi Salissa, and that police had beaten another declared opponent, Gen. Jean Marie Michel Mokoko, after beating and tear-gassing journalists who had turned out to cover him.

Second, after reporting on those attacks, pro-democracy activists successfully used social media to convince Congolese to register to vote. Congolese saw via Facebook postings that government-sponsored thugs had attacked opposition party candidates. Meant to intimidate, these attacks produced the contrary effect. Congolese concluded a government prone to vote-rigging might actually be able to be defeated at the ballot box. Otherwise, why would it fear opposition leaders?

That decision to go to the polls was a dramatic transformation in public attitudes, which hadn’t been accomplished before by the government or by such international organizations as the European Union and La Francophonie. Congolese had lost faith in free and fair elections. But as social media reported the government’s several attempts to arrest Mokoko, citizens became highly motivated to vote. They saw the government’s attempts to stop Mokoko as a sign that what had seemed to be an invincible, rigged system was actually vulnerable — and that their votes might actually be recorded.

Let’s look more closely into how Mokoko was created by social media. Unlike Congo’s more established opposition figures, Mokoko doesn’t have a political base or party. No one knows what he stands for, or whether he is a nationalist, leftist or conservative.
Here’s what we know: He is a soldier, a former chief of staff for Congo Republic’s armed forces, and a former U.N. staffer. In the 1990s, he helped Congo organize its first and only truly democratic presidential elections after independence. He announced his intentions first on Facebook and other social media applications, rather than in traditional press conferences or interviews with such French-language news media as Radio France International, Le Monde, or Le Figaro. As a result, he is supported primarily by young people born between 1991 and 1997 who are heavy Facebook and social media users.

Mokoko’s candidacy sparked hope in part because many Congolese were tired not only of President Nguesso but also of established opposition party leaders — and in part because, being a soldier, he could face down fellow soldier Nguesso.

Democracy activists on social media also launched an operation called “Je vote et je reste” or “I vote and I stay.” Voters cast their votes — and then stayed at their polling stations, watching the count and waiting to see the results, in person. After every result was read and signed, voters used their smartphones to film the polling station reports. They sent those results to a parallel electoral commission created by the opposition to monitor fraud and verify official results, headed by Charles Zacherie Bowao.

The parallel electoral commission succeeded — because most activists used the Firechat App, which creates a peer-to-peer network among smartphones via Bluetooth and therefore didn’t rely on the Internet, which the government had shut down. In addition, an Al Jazeera reporter who was in Brazzaville to cover the elections was able to communicate directly to the Internet via satellite — and so her reports on Twitter were broadcast around the world.

Congolese social media activists were thus able to discredit the government when it declared victory on state TV at 3:30 a.m. Why so late? Because the government feared that, since the population already had seen the real results via social media, a daytime announcement would spark riots.

But this attempt to hijack the results failed. When the minister of internal affairs announced that Nguesso had won, he was unable to produce evidence from local polling stations to support that. By contrast, social media activists published online detailed reports showing results by polling stations and regions, and showing that in most areas, the winners were from the opposition. In fact, according to this evidence, the first-round balloting winner was Mokoko, followed by Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas. And Nguesso had not even met the cut-off mark for entering the second round.

What happens now? According to the constitution, the second round of balloting should take place two weeks after the first-round results were known. But Nguesso’s government had already declared a first-round winner and reported no need for a second round. Hence the post-election violence, objecting to what most Congolese accept as outright fraud.

Central Africa has a new tool for democratic revival

Social media will not replace traditional methods for democracy and free speech activists. But in Congo and elsewhere in central Africa, social media is becoming an important tool for democratic revival. Voters can use their phones to document and circulate what they’ve observed. That’s a powerful testament and force for open and fair elections, making clear when a government is intervening through brute force. And in central Africa, it’s giving many renewed hope for change.

*Source Washington Post.Elie Smith, Cameroonian journalist, reporter and translator, is a  visiting fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy. He served most recently as director of the MNTV television station in Congo-Brazzaville.

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African Ministers of Energy to discuss opportunities for power sector investment this June
April 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

Over 130 speakers to date have confirmed to attend the 18th annual Africa Energy Forum (AEF), taking place in London this year from 22-24th June.

Ministers officially open the 2015 Forum: Hon. Dr Kwabena Donkor, Minister of Power Ghana; Hon. Mr. Mamadou Frankaly Keita, Minister of Energy and Water Mali; Hon. Mr. James Musoni, Minister of Infrastructure, Rwanda; Hon. Mr. Simon Dujanga, State Minister of Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Uganda; Hon. Amb. Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy, Sierra Leone; Hon. Mr Charles Zulu, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development Zambia

Ministers officially open the 2015 Forum: Hon. Dr Kwabena Donkor, Minister of Power Ghana; Hon. Mr. Mamadou Frankaly Keita, Minister of Energy and Water Mali; Hon. Mr. James Musoni, Minister of Infrastructure, Rwanda; Hon. Mr. Simon Dujanga, State Minister of Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Uganda; Hon. Amb. Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy, Sierra Leone; Hon. Mr Charles Zulu, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development Zambia

LONDON, United Kingdom, April 4, 2016/ — Over 130 speakers to date have confirmed to attend the 18th annual Africa Energy Forum (AEF) , taking place in London this year from 22-24th June. Widely considered the meeting place for Africa’s power sector professionals to discuss opportunities for investment into the power sector, 56% of the African continent was represented at the Forum in 2015.

Recent decision-makers confirmed include Honourable John Abdulai Jinapor, Acting Minister of Power, Republic of Ghana, H.E. Honourable Spéro Mensah, Minister of Energy, Petroleum and Mining Research, Water and Renewable Energy Development, Republic of Bénin, H.E. Honourable Mamadou Frankaly Keita, Minister of Energy and Water, Republic of Mali, Nick Hurd, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, Government of the United Kingdom, Brigadier General Emeldah Chola, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Water Development, Zambia and Karén Breytenbach, Head of IPP Projects, IPP Office, South Africa.

The agenda includes government keynote addresses, targeted industry seminars and plenary sessions, discussing topics such as how to accelerate renewable energy uptake, increase the bankability of projects, and encourage partnerships between the public and private sector. An exhibition of 80 solution providers enables attendees to network throughout the three days of the conference.

250New for 2016, North and East Africa regional panel discussions will bring together the regions’ governments to discuss how they can collaborate to support cross-border power developments and energy infrastructure. More specific country-focused sessions will also explore the investment landscapes in countries such as Mozambique, Nigeria and Ghana.

Sponsor of the Forum Access Power will host the ACF competition for local clean power entrepreneurs in Africa, allowing developers to pitch their projects to a panel of specialists for the opportunity to win US$7million in prize funding.

Organisers EnergyNet will host a ‘Festival of Energy’ evening concert on the evening of 23rd June to bring together high profile bands in the UK with African musicians from across the continent. The Festival will highlight the role of commercial trade in delivering energy access to millions living beyond the grid.

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Morocco 1st to qualify for African Cup, Nigeria misses out
March 30, 2016 | 0 Comments
The Super Eagles have taken a nose dive since Stephen Keshi was fired as head coach

The Super Eagles have taken a nose dive since Stephen Keshi was fired as head coach

Morocco became the first team to qualify for next year’s African Cup of Nations with a 2-0 win over Cape Verde on Tuesday as new coach Herve Renard delivered immediate success.

Egypt is on the brink of making it to Gabon and its first Cup of Nations since 2010 following a 1-0 home win over Nigeria in front of 40,000 people in Alexandria. That eliminated Nigeria, the 2013 African champion.

Current title holder Ivory Coast remains on course to defend its title at the 2017 finals despite being held 1-1 in Sudan.

Renard, who won African Cups as coach of Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast last year, took over Morocco last month. He oversaw away and home wins over Cape Verde in the last four days to ensure the North Africans won Group F with two rounds of games to spare.

Youssef El Arabi scored twice for Morocco on Tuesday to leave Cape Verde, Africa’s top-ranked team, seeking to qualify as one of the two best second-place teams from the 13 groups. The group winners qualify automatically.

Highly-rated teenage midfielder Ramadan Sobhi scored the crucial goal for the record seven-time champion Egypt against Nigeria in the 65th minute at Alexandria’sBorg El-Arab Stadium, where a longstanding ban on fans attending games in large numbers in Egypt was temporarily lifted.

Egypt, whose national soccer team’s fortunes have dipped dramatically with the onset of political turmoil in the country, needs just a draw with Tanzania in its final qualifier in June. Egypt can even qualify if it loses that game by two goals or less.

The 18-year-old Sobhi made another vital contribution with his winner from a low shot that was deflected home through a crowd of players. He set up the equalizer in Egypt’s 1-1 draw in Nigeria at the weekend.

Egypt’s national team won its record-extending seventh title in 2010 but the one-time dominant force in African soccer was absent for the last three continental championships while football at home was marred by violent clashes that reflected the political strife in Egypt.

Nigeria has now failed to make two straight African Cups. Nigeria’s fate wasn’t helped by the withdrawal of Chad from the qualifying competition on Sunday, reducing Group G to three teams and meaning there is no chance of a place for Nigeria as one of the two best second-place teams. They have to come from groups with four teams.

Also on Tuesday, Cameroon took a big step toward qualifying by drawing 0-0 inSouth Africa and, in another big matchup, Togo and Tunisia also drew 0-0 in a game that marked the return to internationals for Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor. Adebayor couldn’t convert an early chance and the Tunisians celebrated their away draw at the final whistle.

That Togo-Tunisia result left Liberia top of Group A in a major surprise and in line for its first appearance at the African Cup since 2002. Liberia beat Djibouti 5-0, with Spain-based striker William Jebor netting a hat trick. Djibouti, one of the world’s six lowest-ranked teams, was eliminated after conceding 15 goals in four games.

Sudan held current African champion Ivory Coast to a 1-1 draw with Max Gradel and Muhand El Tahir scoring. Ivory Coast is still top and in position for the automatic qualification place from their group with two rounds of games to go in June and September.

While the likes of Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ghana, Cameroon, Mali, Algeria and Senegal all lead their groups, minnows Liberia, Zimbabwe and Guinea Bissau have provided the surprise stories and are also on course to qualify.

*AP/USA Today

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Le Bouder Takes on New Role at Leading African Private Equity Firm
March 24, 2016 | 1 Comments

AFIG Funds today announced the promotion of Mr. Stéphane Le Bouder to Managing Director

The Advanced Finance & Investment Group LLC (AFIG Funds) , one of Africa’s leading private equity fund management companies, today announced the promotion of Mr. Stéphane Le Bouder to Managing Director.

Stéphane Le Bouder

Stéphane Le Bouder

AFIG Funds is headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, and is the manager of the Atlantic Coast Regional Fund (ACRF), a USD 122 million growth and expansion fund with investments across West, Central and East Africa. ACRF considers investments in all sectors, targeting strong growth companies, preferably with a regional scope. Investors include leaders in emerging markets investing with long, established track records. AFIG Funds is currently raising its second fund, which will build on the proven strategy of ACRF.

Mr. Le Bouder, who joined AFIG Funds in 2013, brings a wide-ranging experience to the Managing Director role.

“It is a true privilege to be a member of a team with such diverse backgrounds and skills, and to be offered an opportunity to play a leadership role as AFIG Funds continues to build on its solid foundation,” said Mr. Le Bouder. “As Africa’s middle class continues to grow, and its markets mature, we believe that our tested approach to value-added investing and active engagement with portfolio companies to build regional champions will continue to yield strong returns for our investors.”

Before joining AFIG Funds, Mr. Le Bouder served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the US Treasury Department in Washington D.C.  An Obama Administration appointee, he worked with senior Treasury and White House officials to advance the Administration’s international financial and development agenda. Prior to that, he worked for the US Congress as Staff Director for the House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade, and was a senior staffer involved in drafting the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.

Papa Madiaw Ndiaye, CEO of AFIG Funds said: “Stéphane’s contribution since joining AFIG Funds has been important in laying the foundation for our continued success and growth. Our hands-on approach to investing requires the capacity to actively engage with portfolio companies. Through his work at AFIG Funds, Stéphane has demonstrated his capacity to accurately assess and manage risk in an increasingly volatile environment and provide the internal and external leadership required to be successful in a rapidly evolving African PE market.”

Born in the Central African Republic, Mr. Le Bouder holds a BA and MA in Economics from McGill University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

AFIG Funds  seeks to create a new African regional blue chips by applying a disciplined approach to investing which relies on a heavy emphasis on value addition beyond financial contributions along with a cross regional partnership approach. AFIG Funds is managed by experienced African private equity professionals who combine developed markets investment expertise with local insight and relationships to invest in local companies with an eye to building regional champions.


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Cameroon Military Frees CAR Rebel Hostages
March 21, 2016 | 0 Comments

Moki Edwin Kindzeka*

Cameroon’s military has freed 12 people held hostage by 30 suspected rebels on its border with the troubled Central African Republic. Cameroon’s military says that two of the suspected rebels were killed and several its soldiers were wounded in a 48 hour operation.

The governor of the Adamawa region of Cameroon says the 12 people, including children, were freed from captivity after Cameroon military launched an operation on its border with the Central African Republic.

Kildadis Taguieke Boucar says, unfortunately, some of the hostage takers escaped to the neighboring country.

He says the assailants were quickly detected by the population and Cameroon military because they were dressed in foreign military uniforms, an indication many rebels and evildoers from foreign countries were still operating on Cameroonian territory.

Among the freed hostages flown by Cameroon’s military from the border zone to the Ngaoundere airport in Adamawa region is 47-year old cattle rancher Mohamadou Njobdji, who says he spent two weeks in captivity after he was seized with his two children from his home at Ngaoui.

He says the day he was kidnapped there was a loud knock on his door about 11:00 PM with voices threatening that if he refused to let them in, he and his family would be killed.  He says when he opened the door some masked people, dressed in black and armed with guns ordered his household to follow them.

Njobdji says while in captivity on the mountainous border zone, they were asked to pay ransoms of up to $10,000 each for their release.  He says they were beaten each morning and fed with meat from stolen cattle.

Colonel Asoualai Blama, who led the operation to free the hostages, has called for civilians to report suspects and strange people in their localities.  He says Cameroon’s military is determined to fight the attackers, but the battle can not be won without the participation of the general population.

He says he is very thankful to the population, especially farmers and cattle ranchers who collaborated by giving useful information to the military. He says without such collaboration the armed men who operate on border localities should have retreated to the Central African Republic.

Before 2014, CAR rebels were attacking Cameroon frequently to press for the release of Abdoulaye Meskine and 10 anti-Balaka soldiers who were arrested in Cameroon in 2013.

Cameroon and CAR negotiated the repatriation of Meskine to an undisclosed location and the attacks reduced.  But since May 2015, Cameroon has been complaining that suspected CAR rebels were attacking its territory, kidnapping cattle ranchers and rich business persons and asking for ransoms.

Cameroon shares a 900-kilometer long boundary with the landlocked Central Afrtican Republic and there are 300,000 CAR refugees in Cameroon.

*Source VOA

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AAI Conversations on Africa Seeks to Set Direction for the Next U.S. President
March 16, 2016 | 1 Comments
President & CEO of The Africa-America Institute Amini Kajunju

President & CEO of The Africa-America Institute Amini Kajunju

NEW YORK CITY – March 15, 2016 – As the U.S. presidential election gears up for the November election, AAI will host its next Conversations on Africa (COA) forum on April 21 on Capitol Hill, where congressional leaders, U.S. Government officials, policy experts and Members of the African Diplomatic Corps will take stock of the White House’s legacy on engagement with Africa and propose U.S.-Africa policy priorities for the next Administration.

The Conversation, Looking Ahead: Setting American Policy in Africa for the Next U.S. President”, will take place at Capitol Hill’s B338 Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The two-term Obama Administration will come to a close in less than a year. The full-day Conversations on Africa offers a platform for reflections and panel discussions on the White House and the Congress’ strategy and engagement with sub-Saharan Africa.

The Obama Administration laid out overarching pillars for U.S.-Africa policy to: strengthen democratic institutions; spur economic growth, trade, and investment; advance peace and security; and promote opportunity and development.

The White House signature initiatives and high-level events include Power Africa, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), and the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with sitting African Heads of State in 2014. President Obama also became the first U.S. president to visit the African Union in Addis Ababa in 2015.

During President Obama’s tenure, U.S. Congress passed a 10-year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the U.S.-Africa trade law, and the Electrify Africa Act, which aims to expand access to affordable and reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.

“AAI’s Conversations on Africa forum offers an opportune time for us to look back and reflect on Obama Administration’s legacy on U.S.-Africa policy,” said AAI President Amini Kajunju. “It also is a time to identify what more needs to be accomplished before the end of the congressional session, and hear perspectives in moving forward on future Africa engagement from foreign policy advisors to the top presidential candidates.”

Moderated by Witney Schneidman, Senior Nonresident Fellow at The Brookings Institute, the panel“Africa: What Should the Remaining Priorities for the 114th Congress Be?”, with congressional staffers of the House and Senate Subcommittee on Africa, will review the Administration’s key priorities and give an update on progress to date. Staffers will share where Congress stands on proposed U.S.-Africa policy legislative bills.

The panel “Reflections: The Obama Administration’s Approach to Promoting Education in Africa”, moderated by The Honorable Vivian Lowery Derryck, President & CEO of The Bridges Institute, will offer insight into the White House’s focus on education. Confirmed panelists include Julie Hanson Swanson, Deputy Chief, Education Division, Bureau of Africa, USAID and Her Excellency Mathilde Mukantabana, Rwanda

The Honorable Reuben E. Brigety II, George Washington University’s Dean of Elliott School of International Affairs, will deliver a Fireside Chat on “Identifying Best Practices for U.S. Engagement in Africa” during the Policy Luncheon.

(L) Amini Kajunju and Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma attend Africa-America Institute 60th Anniversary Awards Gala at New York Hilton on September 25, 2013 in New York City. (Sept. 24, 2013 - Source: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images North America)

(L) Amini Kajunju and Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma attend Africa-America Institute 60th Anniversary Awards Gala at New York Hilton on September 25, 2013 in New York City.
(Sept. 24, 2013 – Source: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images North America)

Prior to taking the helm of the Elliot School, Ambassador Brigety was the U.S. representative to the African Union and U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He also previously served as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of African Affairs and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, among other positions.

Carol Pineau, award-winning producer, writer, director and journalist will moderate what is expected to be a spirited panel “Beyond the Obama Administration: What Can We Expect for Africa?” with U.S. presidential candidate representatives. Candidate representatives will offer the presidential candidate’s perspective on U.S.-Africa policy and their vision for U.S. strategy for sub-Saharan Africa.

COA panels are still in formation and will be updated accordingly, leading up to the event.

*AAI .For more information, visit the Conversations on Africa event page

To RSVP to cover the event, please contact Shanta Bryant Gyan at email, or call (202) 412-4603.  

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February 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY *

Faustin Archange Touadera, a former math professor and rank outsider in Central African Republic’s presidential elections, has won a run-off vote to lead the war-torn country.

Faustin Archange Touadera leaves a polling station in Bangui, February 14. Touadera has been elected as Central African Republic's new president and faces a raft of challenges in rebuilding the conflict-torn country. ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Faustin Archange Touadera leaves a polling station in Bangui, February 14. Touadera has been elected as Central African Republic’s new president and faces a raft of challenges in rebuilding the conflict-torn country.

Former Prime Minister Touadera, 58, won 62.71 percent of the vote on February 14, defeating another ex-premier, Anicet Georges Dologuele, who polled 37.29 percent, the National Elections Authority announced on Saturday, according to Reuters. The pair faced off after neither won an absolute majority in the first round of polling held in December 2015.

December’s vote was seen as a landmark for CAR, which has been beset by sectarian violence since March 2013, when former President Francois Bozize was overthrown by a mainly Muslim rebel alliance known as the Seleka. Largely Christian militias known as the anti-balaka formed in response and the rival militias have been engaged in tit-for-tat violence and killings. At least 100 people were killed in the capital Bangui between September and November, according to Human Rights Watch, while more than 460,000 Central Africans have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

Turnout in the run-off vote was around 61 percent, according to the elections authority, and the result must be certified within eight days by the Constitutional Court. The same court ordered in January that the parliamentary elections held in December 2015 be rerun after receiving more than 400 complaints about issues such as spoilt ballots. The presidential results look set to be verified, however, after Dologuele said he would accept Touadera’s mandate “for the sake of peace,” despite complaining of “massive fraud” in the second round of voting, Reuters reported.

Touadera, who served as prime minister between 2008 and 2013 under Bozize, ran on an independent ticket in the elections. During his premiership, Touadera kept up his teaching role at the University of Bangui and ensured that civil servants were paid on time, while also negotiating several peace deals between the government, opposition and rebel groups in 2008.

He faces a tough challenge in building a stable government in CAR, which has been led by interim President Catherine Samba-Panza since January 2014. CAR is the world’s third-poorest country by GDP and was ranked 187th out of 188 countries in the U.N.’s 2015 Human Development Index, ahead only of Niger in terms of the quality of living standards enjoyed by the majority of citizens.

The country has relied on more than 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers for stability since the current peacekeeping operation was established in March 2014. U.N. peacekeepers and international forces stationed in CAR have been caught up in a slew of allegations of child sexual abuse, however, with some reportedly paying as little as 50 cents in exchange for sexual intercourse in an internally displaced persons camp in Bangui.

*Source Newsweek

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Touadera leads C. Africa run-off election: partial results
February 18, 2016 | 0 Comments
A UN peacekeeper sits on an armoured vehicle beside a campaign poster of presidential candidate Faustin Archange Touadera in Bangui on February 10, 2016 (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)

A UN peacekeeper sits on an armoured vehicle beside a campaign poster of presidential candidate Faustin Archange Touadera in Bangui on February 10, 2016 (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)

Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) – Former Central African Republic premier Faustin Archange Touadera comfortably leads his presidential rival Anicet Georges Dologuele in votes counted in the capital Bangui following weekend nationwide ballots, officials said Wednesday.

The partial results, show former maths professor Touadera winning more than twice as many votes in Bangui as Dologuele in the hotly-contested presidential run-off, seen as crucial to usher in peace after decades of turmoil.

Touadera garnered slightly more than 120,000 votes in Bangui, compared to over 55,000 for his rival Dologuele, according to an AFP compilation of results released by the National Election Authority (ANE).

The ANE did not give overall figures, but its results showed Touadera easily in the lead apart from in the capital’s 2nd district, where the rivals were neck-and-neck.

Some 2 million voters were eligible to cast ballots. In the first round on December 30 turnout reached a high 79 percent, according to the ANE.

The candidates are both former prime ministers who have campaigned on promises to restore security and boost the economy in the mineral-rich but dirt-poor and chronically unstable country.

The first round was won by Dologuele, a 58-year-old former central banker known as “Mr Clean” for his attempts to bring transparency to murky public finances when in office. He took 23.78 percent of the vote.

He faced off against Touadera, also 58, who is standing as an independent. He surprised everyone by coming second in the first round with 19.4 percent.

– Fraud claims –

Earlier Wednesday the two rivals traded accusations of fraud, influence peddling and intimidation over the vote.

A spokesman for Dologuele’s party told a news conference they had “tangible proof of fraud organised by the adversary in (the capital) Bangui and in the provinces.”

“Fake polling stations were set up,” Saturnin Ndomby said.

“We have received reports of several cases of intimidation with chiefs of armed militias patrolling city districts and villages or in polling stations to influence voting.”

The two main Central African presidential candidates Anicet Georges Dologuele (L) and Faustin Archange Touadera on January 5, 2013 (AFP Photo/Sia Kambou, Issouf Sanogo)

The two main Central African presidential candidates Anicet Georges Dologuele (L) and Faustin Archange Touadera on January 5, 2013 (AFP Photo/Sia Kambou, Issouf Sanogo)

He also rejected allegations that Dologuele had held secret talks with a top official of the country’s election authority, Julius Ngouade Baba, late on Monday on rigging the results.

Ndomby denied such a meeting took place, adding that Touadera’s camp was trying to “fuel a climate of tension… and undermine the credibility of the institutions” organising the election.

The Central African Republic’s most recent episode of bloodletting was sparked by the March 2013 ousting of veteran president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance.

The coup triggered a series of revenge attacks involving Muslim forces and Christian vigilante groups known as “anti-balaka” (anti-machete) militias.

Thousands were slaughtered in the spiral of atrocities that drove about a tenth of the population of 4.8 million people to flee their homes.


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