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Congo opposition to run against Sassou Nguesso in March polls
January 16, 2016 | 0 Comments
Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso speaks during a news conference after his meeting with Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi at Carthage Palace in Tunis January 22, 2015. REUTERS/Anis Mili

Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso speaks during a news conference after his meeting with Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi at Carthage Palace in Tunis January 22, 2015. REUTERS/Anis Mili

BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) – Congo Republic’s opposition has conditionally agreed to run against President Denis Sassou Nguesso in an election in March, even though it is widely seen as unlikely to secure what would be the first change in leadership in nearly 20 years.

Congo’s veteran leader has ruled the oil-rich former French colony for 31 of the past 36 years in two separate spells and is widely expected to run in March and win comfortably, whether or not the opposition participates.

Opposition parties boycotted an October referendum on whether the president could legally seek a third consecutive term, a vote that Sassou Nguesso won by a landslide.

Some observers expected them to also refuse to participate in the March vote.

“We are working on the best strategy on behalf of our political family in order to win the presidential election,” said Charles Zacharie Bowao, a former defence minister now in the opposition, at the meeting late on Wednesday.

He added that the opposition, which in the past has suffered from internal divisions, have not yet decided whether they will present a single opposition candidate or several.

The two main opposition alliances Initiative for Democracy in Congo and The Republic Front for the Respect of the Constitutional Order and Democratic Transition (FROCAD) will participate so long as there is an independent electoral commission and voter lists are reliable, among other conditions.

Congo Republic is deemed “not free” by U.S.-based democracy watchdog Freedom House. Security forces fired on anti-government protesters during the October referendum, killing at least four people, while some opposition leaders were placed under house arrest by presidential guards.

The government said detentions were necessary to restore order and accused the opposition of planning an insurrection.

Attempts by other veteran African leaders to extend their mandates have also led to unrest such as in Burundi where President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term has sparked violence, killing more than 400 people.

Analysts said that the risk of street violence in Congo’s polls would be greater if the opposition participates, since they are more likely to denounce irregularities and provoke public anger.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo

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Africa: The Growth-Governance Puzzle in Africa
January 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Richard Joseph*

Photo: AfricaPlus/African Leadership Some African leaders with 20 years in power, from top left to bottom right: Omar al-Bashir, Sudan; Idress Deby Itno, Chad; Yoweri Museveni, Uganda; King Mswati III, Swaziland; Denis Sassou Nguesso, Republic of the Congo; Paul Biya, Cameroon; Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe; Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, Angola; Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasongo, Equatorial Guinea.

Photo: AfricaPlus/African Leadership
Some African leaders with 20 years in power, from top left to bottom right: Omar al-Bashir, Sudan; Idress Deby Itno, Chad; Yoweri Museveni, Uganda; King Mswati III, Swaziland; Denis Sassou Nguesso, Republic of the Congo; Paul Biya, Cameroon; Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe; Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, Angola; Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasongo, Equatorial Guinea.

Why did sub-Saharan Africa experience such a prolonged economic downturn starting in the mid-1970s? And why has it experienced such a sustained economic upturn since the mid-1990s?

A consensus did emerge that the former trend was caused by bad governance, bad policies, declining investments, and unfavorable terms of trade. But what accounts for the positive growth rates over the past two decades, and why are they seen under such a diverse array of political systems? Finally, will African countries grow out of mass poverty, or will we see a new equilibrium of economic expansion without structural transformation – the latter understood as increased productivity, more and better-paid jobs, diversified exports, and vastly improved infrastructures? While we have become more aware of the growth-governance puzzle, resolving it remains elusive.

The disappointing growth performance of sub-Saharan Africa during the first three decades of independence was called a puzzle.[1] In 2016, it is the sustained economic turnaround that remains puzzling. Although surveys of the statistical data often paint a glowing picture, certain questions persist. Since Africa was overly dependent on international aid flows and the export of mineral commodities for decades, why did that scenario begin shifting? Second, since the quality of growth remains deficient–in terms of its inclusiveness and ability to create jobs–are the progress reports misleading?[2]

Steven Radelet is one of the undeterred optimists about economic progress in Africa and other less-developed areas.[3] He continues to stress the critical contribution made by good governance, including democratization, to such progress. Africa today is seen through split screens: one depicts steady progress while another shows communities struggling to meet basic needs and coping with abysmal infrastructure.

The largest countries in the continent–the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Sudan–remain in a time-warp of highly predatory and dysfunctional governance. Popular disenchantment, even in a country often praised for its democracy such as Ghana, is now aired in international forums.[4] Meanwhile, authoritarian regimes in Ethiopia and Rwanda exceed their democratic counterparts in growth and socio-economic progress.

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‘The Looting Machine’ explains why Africa isn’t rising
January 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

By JAMES GIBNEY*

dt.common.streams.StreamServerIn one of Africa’s most celebrated surprises of 2015, Nigerian voters unseated President Goodluck Jonathan. The election of Muhammadu Buhari defied expectations of electoral fraud and violence, and his anticorruption platform sparked hopes for reform and economic growth.

Yet progress on both fronts has been slow and uneven. To understand why, pick up Tom Burgis’s The Looting Machine, a bracing look at why a continent blessed with one-third of the world’s hydrocarbon and mineral wealth remains mired in poverty and dysfunction.

A former Africa correspondent for the Financial Times, Burgis goes beyond the tales of spectacular venality among Africa’s “Big Men” – the world’s four longest-serving rulers are in African countries bursting with oil or minerals – to explain how the continent’s “resource curse” is sapping its development.

Nigeria is a case in point. Africa’s biggest oil producer gets more than 90 percent of its foreign earnings and two-thirds of its tax revenue from oil exports. Yet there are many reasons why that hydrocarbon bounty is a mixed blessing.

For starters, it can drive up the value of a nation’s currency, making other exports less competitive and imports more attractive. As Burgis points out, textiles used to be Nigeria’s most important manufacturing industry. But cheaper Chinese imports smuggled in by Nigerian gangs (an illicit trade worth more than $2 billion a year) have devastated the industry – one example of why Africa produces just 1.5 percent of global manufacturing output, despite its abundance of cheap labor.

Billions of dollars in oil revenues are also a tempting pot of money for bent politicians. One 2012 report said corruption had swallowed up $37 billion worth of Nigeria’s oil money over the last decade. That surpasses the annual economic output of more than half of the nations in Africa as well as Nigeria’s annual federal budget.

Such corruption has other toxic effects. Dirty money from bribes and kickbacks has to be laundered, and because those doing the cleaning don’t care so much about profit or productive investment, their infusions of cash distort the value of assets.

Nigeria’s reliance on oil for tax revenues also creates a perverse political dynamic: As Burgis puts it, “the ability of rulers of Africa’s resource state to govern without recourse to popular consent.” Instead of having to do right by taxpayers to win their votes, politicians focus on controlling and dispensing mineral wealth to bolster their patronage networks.

“Politics becomes a game of mobilizing one’s ethnic brethren,” Burgis notes – a contest with dangerous destabilizing effects in Nigeria’s fractious polity. In fact, as one Nigerian governor explains, if he failed to share the wealth, ill-gotten or otherwise, “I’ve got a big political enemy.”

Nigeria is far from the exception. At least 20 African countries are what the International Monetary Fund calls “resource-rich”: that is, their natural resources account for more than one-quarter of exports. Risking limb if not life, Burgis gamely takes readers around some of them, from the coltan mines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea’s rich bauxite and iron ore deposits to the diamond fields of Zimbabwe.

Even as the names and histories of the different predatory leaders blur, one thing is clear: Their looting depends on an all-too-willing cast of outside partners, whether Western mining and oil companies that plunked down bribes and abetted massacres, shady Israeli middlemen or shell companies in the British Virgin Islands.

Particularly disquieting is Burgis’s description of the unsavory role played by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, which backed visibly corrupt, environmentally destructive, or just plain inequitable oil and mining ventures in Chad, Guinea and Ghana – all countries it was supposed to be helping.

If Burgis’s book were to be made into a movie, though, the star villain would have to be Samuel Pa, the bespectacled, bearded Zelig behind some of the continent’s most dubious recent resource deals. Over the course of several decades, Pa parlayed the connections he made as a Chinese intelligence operative and arms merchant into a sprawling, secretive consortium based in Hong Kong known as the 88 Queensway Group, not to mention a spot on the U.S. Treasury’s sanctions list.

Western criticism of China’s growing presence in Africa, Burgis writes, nonetheless carries a “distinct whiff of hypocrisy” that might make even King Leopold blush. Moreover, ordinary Africans stand to gain much from the $1 trillion or so that Chinese entities will reportedly plow into their continent by 2025.

That said, the tale of Pa and Queensway, which has its tentacles wrapped around oil holdings in Angola and Nigeria, diamond mines in Zimbabwe, and agriculture in Mozambique (to name just a few of its ventures), reeks of sulfur and brimstone. As several seasoned African mining executives told Burgis, the Queensway Group reminded them of Cecil John Rhodes, the forerunner of those who “use the conquest of natural resources to advance political power and vice versa.”

One of the best hopes for curbing this rapacity and corruption may be to impose greater transparency on Africa’s outside business partners. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, for instance, recently proposed a rule requiring U.S.-listed oil, gas and mining companies to publish details of their payments to governments.

Even China may see the writing on the wall. A few months after Burgis’s book came out this year, he reported that Pa had been detained in one of China’s deepening anti-corruption probes. Guess that scotches the prospect of any Pa Scholarships in the future.

*Source Bloomberg/Concord Monitor

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Mathias Dzon wants Presidential elections in Congo to be held in July 2016
December 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Matthias Dzon Matthias Dzon[/caption] Speaking by phone from his house in Brazzaville, the capital, of Congo, Matthias Dzon, leader of Congo’s largest extra parliamentary opposition, has rejected t calls made by President Denis Sassou Nguesso for early presidential elections to be held in the first semester of next year. Mr Dzon who was President  Sassou Nguesso’s finance  minister between 1997 and 1999,  said  the reason why his party and a majority of Congolese were rejecting early  presidential elections, as announced by President Denis Sassou Nguesso in his new year speech, was because, the current president had lost all legitimacy. He added: President Denis Sassou Nguesso lost legitimacy when, he decided to organize an illegal referendum in October this year. The said referendum ended the January 20th 2002 constitution of the country.The said constitution barred President Denis Sassou Nguesso who is in his second and final two terms mandate, to stand for re-elections. Mathias Dzon, however said, his party and other political parties of the opposition and civil society organizations are ready to enter into negotiations with President Denis Sassou Nguesso, for what he called an “electoral governance” or a process that will guide the holding of presidential elections in July this year and not in March as desired by President Denis Sassou Nguesso. He also added that, the planned negotiations will also come up with rules or measures that will govern Congo during this period of illegality. What Mr Dzon never said was whether he or his party has already made propositions to the government or what will be his reaction or that of his party, should President Denis Sassou Nguesso refuse their proposals. *Elie Smith, Journalist, Cameroon & Nigeria Specialist, Bonneuil sur Marne, Greater Paris Region, France, Blog:www.eliesmith.blogspot.com]]>

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Congo leader plans to bring forward presidential vote
December 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso has been in office since 1997 (AFP Photo/Dominique Faget) Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso has been in office since 1997 (AFP Photo/Dominique Faget)[/caption]

Brazzaville (AFP) – The Republic of Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso said Tuesday he planned to call a presidential election early next year, sooner than scheduled.

Under the terms of a controversial new constitution adopted after an October referendum that would allow Sassou Nguesso to extend his term in office, an election was due to be held in July.

But he told lawmakers he wanted to bring it forward to the first quarter of 2016 to implement the “new dynamic” following the referendum.

The country’s constitutional court last month said a whopping 94 percent of voters had backed changing the constitution to scrap a 70-year age limit on presidential candidates and lift a ban on presidents serving more than two terms.

But Congo’s opposition dubbed the referendum “a constitutional coup”, with the FROCAD opposition coalition declaring “the vote was neither free, nor just, nor fair, nor transparent”.

And Congo was rocked by protests in the run-up to the vote, with at least four people killed in clashes between opposition demonstrators and security forces.

Sassou Nguesso, who is 71 and has already served two consecutive seven-year mandates, is expected to seek reelection next year.

*BBC]]>

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Clinging to power: the African leaders who won't stand down
December 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Marc JOURDIER* [caption id="attachment_23196" align="alignleft" width="959"]A controversial referendum in October 2015 allowed Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his 31-year rule (AFP Photo/Thierry Charlier) A controversial referendum in October 2015 allowed Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his 31-year rule (AFP Photo/Thierry Charlier)[/caption] Kinshasa (AFP) – The fate of Blaise Compaore, who was ousted after a bloody uprising in 2014 after 27 years as president of Burkina Faso, has not been enough to deter other African leaders from clinging to power long after their constitutions demanded they go.

In 2015, two African presidents amended their constitutions to allow them to seek another term — or more.

Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has now led Congo-Brazzaville for more than 31 years, and Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s head of state since 1994, both ordered referendums which will allow them to run again in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

In neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila is due to stand down in 2016 after 15 years at the helm, but fears are mounting he too could stay on as the country endures a period of uncertainty.

The president has shown no sign of preparing to leave office and is now calling for a “national dialogue” to allow for a peaceful vote. Opponents view the demands as a trap, which could allow his supporters to put off polls for two to four years until they can organise “credible” elections.

Meanwhile, to the east of the DR Congo, Burundi has been in crisis since April, when president Pierre Nkurunziza sought a third term in a move that even some in his own camp judged unconstitutional.

[caption id="attachment_23198" align="alignright" width="300"]Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza delivers a speech after being sworn-in for a controversial third term in power, at the Congress Palace in Kigobe district, Bujumbura on August 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Landry Nshimiye) Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza delivers a speech after being sworn-in for a controversial third term in power, at the Congress Palace in Kigobe district, Bujumbura on August 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Landry Nshimiye)[/caption]

The situation deteriorated when Nkurunziza was re-elected in July, on a ballot that was boycotted by the opposition. The country has since spiralled into violence and there are fears in the international community this could break out into genocide.

“The limit of two presidential terms in African constitutions goes back to the late 1990s,” said Thierry Vircoulon, associate researcher at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).

“It was a lesson drawn from (the results of) autocratic regimes and presidency for life,” he told AFP.

– Testing the limits –

But these limits were quickly broken, beginning with Togo in 2002, followed by Chad and Uganda in 2005, where Idriss Deby Itno and Yoweri Museveni have been in power since 1990 and 1986 respectively.

Constitutions in Angola, Djibouti and Cameroon have also been changed to allow incumbents to stay in power, as well as in Zimbabwe, where 91-year-old Robert Mugabe has been president since 1980.

“The basic tendency (in central Africa) over the last few years has not between towards greater democracy, but in the opposite direction,” said Vircoulon.

“Civil wars and peace agreements have not changed the way of doing politics in these countries,” he added.

But this has not been the case everywhere on the continent.

In Burkina Faso, it was Compaore’s attempts to change the constitution which led to a popular uprising and pushed him into exile in October 2014.

After a year which saw an attempted putsch, the people of Burkina Faso in November elected a new president in polls which were judged to be transparent and credible.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in March presidential elections led to the first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history.

In a recent note, however, strategic consulting firm Control Risks said it was “unlikely” the changes in Burkina Faso and Nigeria would bring about others elsewhere in Africa in 2016.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Clinging to power in Africa
December 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here is a range of precedents over the past 15 years:

– Successful bids –

[caption id="attachment_23113" align="alignleft" width="300"]An amendment to the constitution would allow Rwandan President Paul Kagame, 58, to run for an exceptional third seven-year term in 2017 (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker) An amendment to the constitution would allow Rwandan President Paul Kagame, 58, to run for an exceptional third seven-year term in 2017 (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)[/caption]

– BURUNDI: After a constitutional row, President Pierre Nkurunziza won a controversial third term in July 2015, in polls boycotted by the opposition and denounced by the United Nations as neither free nor fair. His re-election bid sparked an attempted coup by rebel generals and months of civil unrest that has killed hundreds and driven hundreds of thousands from the country.

– ZIMBABWE: A new constitution adopted in 2013 allowed President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, to stand in an election, which he won.

– DJIBOUTI: In April 2010, Djibouti’s parliament approved a constitutional amendment allowing President Ismael Omar Guelleh, in power since 1999, to run for a third term, which he won in 2011. He is now eyeing a fourth term in 2016.

– ANGOLA: The adoption in January 2010 of a constitutional amendment providing for the election of a president by indirect suffrage, by parliamentarians, allowed head of state Jose Eduardo dos Santos, in power since 1979, to be sworn in in 2012 after his party’s victory in legislative elections.

– ALGERIA: In November 2008, parliament removed the presidential two term limit, voting for a revision of the constitution. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999, was then re-elected in 2009 and again in 2014. – CAMEROON: In April 2008, parliament revised the constitution, scrapping the limit on the number of presidential terms. Paul Biya, who had been in power since 1982, was elected to a sixth term in October 2011. – UGANDA: In July 2005, a constitutional reform scrapped restrictions on the number of presidential terms. Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, was re-elected in 2006 and 2011 and is running again in 2016. – CHAD: In June 2005, a constitutional revision was adopted after a disputed referendum abolished a limit of two five-year terms. Idriss Deby, in power since 1990, was re-elected in 2006 and again in 2011. – TOGO: In December 2002, a constitutional amendment paved the way for Gnassingbe Eyadema, in power since 1967, to seek another term in 2003. After his death in office in February 2005, a constitutional revision by parliament allowed his son, Faure Gnassingbe, favoured by the army, to be sworn in as president. He won a third term in April 2015. – Failed attempts –

Other leaders have not managed to impose constitutional changes to remain in power.

– BURKINA FASO: In October 2014, the announcement that long-serving president Blaise Compaore sought to extend his rule beyond 30 years brought hundreds of thousands of protesters onto the streets, forcing him to step down.

– ZAMBIA: Frederick Chiluba had to throw in the towel in 2001 under popular pressure, and in MALAWI, the parliament in 2002 blocked Bakili Muluzi from seeking a third mandate in 2004. – NIGERIA: Military ruler turned democrat Olusegun Obasanjao failed in his 2006 effort to change the constitution to allow him a third term in power. – Still trying –

– THE REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Veteran Congo ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso’s government on October 27, 2015 claimed a landslide victory in a referendum on changes to the constitution that would make him eligible to contest elections next year, extending his three-decade stay in power.

– THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: President Joseph Kabila inherited his post after his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, was killed in January 2001. The opposition believes Kabila will try to circumvent the constitution and run for a third five-year term in 2016.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Afrique Telecom, Eutelsat and Wikimédia France to offer free access to French-language Wikipedia in Africa
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Afrique Telecom, Eutelsat and Wikimédia France combine skills in large-scale initiative to extend free access to French-language Wikipedia in Sub-Saharan Africa via Wi-Fi hotspots [caption id="attachment_22790" align="alignleft" width="300"]The partners :From left to right : Michel AZIBERT - Eutelsat, Nathalie MARTIN - Wikimedia Foundation, Philippe TINTIGNAC - Afrique Telecom The partners :From left to right : Michel AZIBERT – Eutelsat, Nathalie MARTIN – Wikimedia Foundation, Philippe TINTIGNAC – Afrique Telecom[/caption] Afrique Telecom  is progressively deploying Internet solutions over Sub-Saharan Africa in combination with Eutelsat’s satellite capacity. Its “TamTam” service extends access to the Internet in rural areas using Wi-Fi hotspots for collective access. In a new step announced today, “TamTam” will be used to offer free access to French-language Wikipedia content for many thousands of users. This initiative, starting in French-speaking Africa, supports Wikimédia France’s strategy to promote free access to educational content, in particular through Wikipedia. In order to offer free, unlimited access, Afrique Telecom has developed a server located at “TamTam” hotspots that will locally host French-language Wikipedia content. The content will be updated regularly via a satellite link provided by Eutelsat. A major pilot project Afrique Telecom’s ambition is to roll-out “TamTam” to between 4000 and 8000 hotspots in the next two years. Eutelsat has agreed to finance servers hosted by the first 1,000 hotspots as a springboard that will also measure the impact of the service. The Wikimedia movement has made a priority of improving accessibility and content creation on Wikipedia for so-called “Southern” countries. There is still a large gap between Northern and Southern countries in terms of the number of readers and contributors to Wikimedia platforms as well as content on Southern countries. French-speaking Africa is a priority action area for the Wikimédia France Foundation, as a complement to its Afripédia project. Wikimédia France, an association for free knowledge-sharing, was founded in 2004 to promote and support all projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation in France. Wikimédia France does not produce or host any Wikimedia Foundation projects, but strives to enrich them and raise their profile through its members’ support of its actions. Founded in 2005, Afrique Telecom (NYSE Euronext Paris: MLAFT, ISIN code: FR0011233659)  is an innovative telecommunications service operator offering economic models of satellite-based connectivity solutions that are unique on the market. The expertise of Afrique Telecom’s development teams is acknowledged in Africa for their work to reduce the digital divide on the continent. With more than 4000 stations in operation, Afrique Telecom is one of the leading players in satellite-based connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Established in 1977, Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL, ISIN code: FR0010221234) is one of the world’s leading and most experienced operators of communications satellites. The company provides capacity on 38 satellites to clients that include broadcasters and broadcasting associations, pay-TV operators, video, data and Internet service providers, enterprises and government agencies. Eutelsat’s satellites provide ubiquitous coverage of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas, enabling video, data, broadband and government communications to be established irrespective of a user’s location. Headquartered in Paris, with offices and teleports around the globe, Eutelsat represents a workforce of 1,000 men and women from 37 countries who are experts in their fields and work with clients to deliver the highest quality of service. *APO]]>

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Corruption on the rise in Africa poll as governments seen failing to stop it
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Transparency International estimates 75 million Africans paid a bribe in the past year Corruption-cartoon-of-a-police-boss-by-Basati-via-SomalilandsunA majority of Africans say corruption has risen in the past 12 months and most governments are seen as failing in their duty to stop the abuse of power, bribery and secret deals, according to a new opinion poll from Transparency International (Transparency.org). In the report People and Corruption: Africa Survey 2015, part of the Global Corruption Barometer, Transparency International partnered with Afrobarometer, which spoke to 43,143 respondents across 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa between March 2014 and September 2015 to ask them about their experiences and perceptions of corruption in their country. The majority (58 per cent) of Africans in the surveyed countries, say corruption has increased over the past 12 months. In 18 out of 28 countries surveyed a large majority of people said their government is doing badly at fighting corruption. Despite these disappointing findings, the bright spots across the continent were in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Lesotho and Senegal. Citizens in these countries were some of the most positive in the region when discussing corruption. For the first time, people reported business executives as highly corrupt. Business ranked as having the second highest levels of corruption in the region, just below the police. The police regularly rate as highly corrupt, but the strongly negative assessment of business executives is new compared to previous surveys. Many Africans, particularly the poor, are burdened by corruption when trying to get access to key basic services in their country. 22 per cent of people that have come into contact with a public service in the past 12 months paid a bribe. Of the six key public services that we asked about, people who come into contact with the courts and police are the most likely to have paid a bribe. 28 per cent and 27 per cent respectively of people who had contact with these services paid a bribe. Across the continent, poor people who use public services are twice as likely as rich people to have paid a bribe, and in urban areas they are even more likely to pay bribes. “Corruption creates and increases poverty and exclusion. While corrupt individuals with political power enjoy a lavish life, millions of Africans are deprived of their basic needs like food, health, education, housing, access to clean water and sanitation. We call on governments and judges to stop corruption, eradicate impunity and implement Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals to curb corruption. We also call on the people to demand honesty and transparency, and mobilize against corruption. It is time to say enough and unmask the corrupt,” said Transparency International Chair José Ugaz. pesayachai_bwanamdogoIt is increasingly clear that citizens are a key part of any anti-corruption initiative. However, the survey finds that corruption reporting mechanisms are often seen as too dangerous, ineffective or unclear. More than 1 out of 3 Africans thinks that a whistleblower faces negative consequences for reporting corruption, which is why most people don’t report. “Our work as civil society is clear: we have to spread a message of hope across the continent. Corruption can be tackled. People need to be given the space to stand up against it without fear of retaliation and governments need to get serious about ending the widespread impunity.” Transparency International recommends:

  • Governments strengthen and enforce legislation on corrupt business people and anti-money laundering to curb the high volume of illicit flows from the continent. This could address the negative perception of business if those profiting are held to account.
  • Governments establish right to information and whistle-blower protection legislation to facilitate the role of civil society in making public institutions more transparent, accountable and corruption-free.
  • Governments show a sustained and deep commitment to acting on police corruption at all levels by promoting reforms that combine punitive measures with structural changes over the short- and medium-term. Cracking down on petty bribery has direct impact on the most vulnerable in society.
  • The African Union and its members provide the political will and financing needed to implement the review mechanism established for its anti-corruption convention.
Unless it’s stopped, corruption slows development and economic growth while weakening people’s trust in government and the accountability of public institutions. *APO]]>

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Anzisha Prize announces esteemed judging panel for 2015 African youth entrepreneurship award
November 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Heba Gamal (EG), Sangu Delle (GH), Willy Mukiny Yav (DRC), George Bakka (UG) will be deliberating which of the Anzisha finalists walk away with a sum of $75,000 in prizes [caption id="attachment_22099" align="alignleft" width="300"]Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs[/caption] The Anzisha Prize  is pleased to announce a diverse, experienced and representative judging panel for the 2015 Anzisha Prize award for African youth entrepreneurs. The Prize has invited a panel of four experienced professionals from the both the business and social sectors who represent a holistic view of contributors to the dialogue around youth entrepreneurship in Africa. The judges’ experience stems from a diverse knowledge and experience base. The panel includes entrepreneurs at both an established and scaling stage, leaders from social and business sectors, contributors to the African business dialogue through media, and represents a cultural diversity that is relevant to and mirrors the youth entrepreneurs that they will be assessing. The finalists for the Anzisha Prize will pitch their ventures to the judges on Monday 16 November. The panel will consider each project on its own merits in responsiveness to a market opportunity or social need, ingenuity, scalability and impact. The grand prize-winner will be announced at a prestigious awards ceremony on Tuesday 17 November at Room Five in Rivonia, Johannesburg, South Africa. “It is essential that we encourage conversation and deliberation on the potential for youth to impact African economies through entrepreneurship in a multifaceted dialogue with cross-sector, cross-continent, cross-cultural contribution,” says Grace Kalisha, Senior Manager for the Anzisha Prize. “We are pleased and encouraged that such an esteemed panel would engage critically with our finalists for the Anzisha Prize this year.” The 2015 Anzisha Prize Awards Judges are: Heba Gamal, based in Egypt, an entrepreneurship and technology expert. She is the Managing Director of Endeavor Egypt, a non-profit organization focused on supporting high-impact entrepreneurs. Prior to Endeavor, Heba was managing search quality for the Middle East & North Africa at Google, Inc. Her international expertise spans Silicon Valley, India, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Heba has been a speaker at various conferences and summits about entrepreneurship, technology and women in leadership. The Anzisha prize welcomes her contribution to this year’s panel due to her social entrepreneurship focus, strong advocacy for the role of women in business, and North Africa experience. Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group. He has 21 years’ experience in communications specialising in African Markets. Having developed excellent high-level contacts within Africa, over the past 22 years, Willy has used these to become involved in developing numerous ventures in Africa. As a consequence he has expertise in modus operandi and business practice in both French and English speaking Africa and further developed a network of contacts in the upper political, business and social echelons.  Willy served as a judge for Anzisha in 2014 and enabled clear understanding of the francophone ventures for fair assessment. Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs.  Sangu is an entrepreneur, author, clean water activist, Soros Fellow and TEDGlobal Fellow. He is the Founder and Chief [caption id="attachment_22100" align="alignright" width="300"]Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group[/caption] Executive Officer of Golden Palm Investments (GPI); an investment holding and advisory company focused on building world class companies in Africa.  GPI operates companies in high growth industries and funds promising start-ups that can have social impact and generate jobs. GPI has backed startups such as SOLO Mobile in Nigeria, mPharma in Ghana and Stawi Foods in Kenya. George Bakka, Ugandan, is an Anzisha Fellow, inducted into the inaugural cohort of the Fellowship in 2011. As a scaling and widely celebrated youth entrepreneur, he epitomizes the journey that the finalists are embarking on. George is the Founder & CEO of Angels Initiatives. He is a serial pan-African entrepreneur passionate about building solutions and companies that catalyze growth in Africa. Some of the companies he has started include Angels Hub and Unreasonable EastAfrica. In addition to being an Anzisha Fellow, he is also an Acumen and Educate Fellow. The 12 finalists for Anzisha Prize were selected from an impressive initial pool of 494 young entrepreneurs, up from 339 applications in 2014. The Anzisha Prize is proud to have attracted applicants from 33 African countries, with finalists from Zimbabwe and Ethiopia identified for the first time this year. Applications were also received from a diversity of sectors, with agriculture having the most applicants. Now in its fifth year, The Anzisha Prize will be celebrating these outstanding young people during Global Entrepreneurship Week joining the worldwide festivities. Finalists for the Anzisha Prize win a share of US$75,000 and access to ongoing support to scale their enterprises and expand their impact. The Anzisha Prize team is running a social media campaign where members of the public can vote for their favourite entrepreneur and offer words of support and encouragement on the Anzisha website  and on Facebook. An award will be given to the finalist receiving the largest number of votes. The goal is to support them on their Anzisha journey and share their success stories with other youth.   The Anzisha Prize is delivered by African Leadership Academy in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Through the Anzisha Prize, the organisers seek to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship among youth across the continent. African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of entrepreneurial leaders who will work together to achieve extraordinary social impact. Each year, ALA brings together the most promising young leaders from all 54 African nations for a pre-university program in South Africa with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. ALA continues to cultivate these leaders throughout their lives, in university and beyond, by providing on-going leadership and entrepreneurial training and connecting them to high-impact networks of people and capital that can catalyse large-scale change. The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. *APO]]>

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A Conversation with Herman Cohen: Former Reagan and Bush Snr Aide on Africa shares his experiences in New Book
November 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Herman Cohen Herman Cohen[/caption] Few American Diplomats can match Herman Cohen when it comes to experiences in Africa. In his 38 year career in the US Foreign service, Ambassador Cohen’s area of specialization was Africa. In addition to posts in five countries, Cohen served as Ambassador to Senegal, served as Special Assistant for African Affairs to President Ronald Reagan and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President George .H.W.Bush. Now in retirement Ambassador Cohen is out with a new book titled “The Mind of The African Strongman: Conversations with Dictators, Statesmen and Father Figures.” The book chronicles experiences and conversations that Cohen had interacting with a rich and diverse cast of leaders across Africa. From Mobutu of D.R.Congo (Zaire), Bongo of Gabon, Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Arap Moi of Kenya, Muarmar Ghadafi of Libya, Kaunda of Zambia, to Babangida of Nigeria Cohen has a story to tell. Cohen did not only interact with leaders in power, the book has experiences with emblematic opposition figures like Nelson Mandela of South Africa. He also shares experiences trying to get Jonas Savimbi of UNITA to the negotiating table with President Dos Santos of Angola. In a recent interview to talk about the book,  Ambassador Cohen strongly defended  US Foreign policy in Africa, but admitted that Angola was the exception where cold war logic may have prompted the US to side with Jonas Savimbi. While he equally had strong criticisms for the way Ghadafi ran Libya, he concedes that his ouster without planning on the aftermath was a strategic error. Cohen thinks that President Obama has spoken the hard truth to Africa like no other US leader before him and expresses optimism on the future of the continent with more democracies emerging and a new generation of leaders breaking away from the old order. https://soundcloud.com/multimedia-podcast/herman-cohen-interview]]>

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Congo Opposition to Meet Western Envoys
October 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

n this file picture taken on September 27, 2015 a man holds a placard reading "Congo is not the property of N'Guesso" during an opposition demonstration in Brazzaville. PHOTO | AFP n this file picture taken on September 27, 2015 a man holds a placard reading “Congo is not the property of N’Guesso” during an opposition demonstration in Brazzaville. PHOTO | AFP[/caption] The leader of the Republic of Congo’s opposition Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development (MCDDI) said opposition and civil society groups would meet Thursday with envoys of the United States and the European Union to talk about the political situation in the country. Perfect Kolelas said discussions about ending violence in Congo would be high on the agenda. He called on the international community, including the African Union, to intervene in Congo to ensure the constitution is not violated. Kolelas’ comments came after violent clashes between police and opposition supporters left at least four people dead and many injured. The opposition youths were protesting attempts by President Denis Sassou Nguesso to use a referendum set for Sunday to change the constitution by removing age and term limits for the presidency. “We talked with the ambassador of the United States [and] the ambassador of the European Union,” Kolelas said. “They are pushing to go to a state dialogue even tomorrow; they asked us to go to a meeting in order to see if it is possible to enter a new dialogue with President Denis Sassou Nguesso and his political party.” He said the MCDDI, opposition and civil society groups would not be deterred in their determination to ensure the constitution is not violated. But local media quoted Pierre Ngolo, general secretary of the ruling Labor Party, as saying change is a must because the constitution, which limits the number of presidential terms to two and restricts candidates over 70 from competing, has had its day. “We want change for the future of the country, to ensure peace and stability. … The Congolese Labor Party will not lose power in 2016,” Ngolo said. Kolelas disagreed, saying opposition parties had officially petitioned the international community for help. “Our main struggle is to build a true democracy in the Congo-Brazzaville, but President Denis Sassou Nguesso wants to change the constitution,” he said. “[It] is not allowed to change the constitution. Therefore, people are fighting and are opposed to this changing of the constitution. … People have died, but we are trying our best to stop all these things.” Last year, the ruling party called for a constitutional amendment, which led to a conference on term limits removal that included 102 political parties and civil society groups. Opposition leader Kolelas said Nguesso and his ruling party want to contravene the constitution by holding an “illegal” referendum Sunday. *Source VOA]]>

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