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Pan-African Tourism Spirit Unites USA And UK- African People To Worship Their Heritage..
October 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority [ZTA] is opening Tourism Sector’s wide path for Economic Recovery and Heritage worship of those Africans in the diaspora. The Tourism Sector is the most functional among Agriculture, Mining and Manufacturing Industry. It has over the years been the pinnacle in stepping up the Zimbabwe Economy in terms of its Gross Domestic Product, Growth per Capita, National Growth and Development. In its continued effort it has invited Afro-Americans and Africans based in UK to tour their original roots in Africa.

Under the Leadership of Karikoga Kaseke the Chief Executive of ZTA, the Sector continues to move swiftly in focus of our tradition and culture linked to Tourism for Economic Sustainable Development. Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has gone through success stories. It’s planning, Leading, Organizing and controlling has fortified the Gross Domestic and National Product to better levels of Economic Stability over the recent years despite hardships created by the former Government years back.

It is an African motivational aura to pronounce the connotative meaning of Tourism Development in the country .In its marathon Mission, vision and goal endeavor, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority hook- lured 35 Member Delegation of African American origins and some from United Kingdom to visit the country. This is a positive move to show that Zimbabwe is open for Business.

The main objective of the visit is to showcase the need to re-visit Pan- Africa History, Tradition and culture in a Modernized and dynamic World. Secondly, it is time and séance to get back to the roots of Ancestor- ship. In addition, ZTA Chief Executive Officer says the country is now open for Business unlike how it used to be in the past.

‘’Zimbabwe is now open for Business more than how it used to be. The country is ready to take anyone aboard without favor. We need to embrace the spirit of togetherness, oneness and solidarity to make ourselves how we are. There is no time for our Visitors to feel in-secured. We are in a New Zimbabwe.

‘’Investors in every sector must feel free to visit and have a base-line survey. After their escapades, they are free to come back into the country and do Business peacefully and freely in this Democratic country.

‘’Our visitors shall be in the country for 2 weeks to witness the prevailing peace we have. Zimbabwe is the most recognized peaceful country under new Leadership that is working hard to build better, sustainable Economy for the betterment of all people.

‘’Our esteemed visitors shall start kick the African spirit of the love of their roots by visiting the Victoria Falls , Great Zimbabwe and some of the great monuments and Tourist Attraction areas in the country . This is the beginning of African History made in Zimbabwe to cherish Historical Pan-African values.

Standing on behalf of the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Priscillah Mupfumira who did not attend the occasion , Douglas Runyowa said the country has the light way forward with the New Government which is ready to transform the Economy .

‘’Zimbabwe is ready to listen, take aboard and abide to International Protocols just like any other country. A New Zimbabwe means New Changes in terms of what we need to take ahead of us. A new Zimbabwe is already functioning well. We are ready to take every corner of the World as we move forward to a Middle Income Country by 2030 ‘’.

‘’Tourism is one of the main sectors of the Economy. We there –fore need to support it. Let us show the spirit of building New Zimbabwe. A new Zimbabwe looks ahead of us. We move forward with the spirit of peace building and economic solidarity and Empowerment of those who are in need of it‘’,

The visiting Social ARCHTECT Ayo Kihathi with that vivacity to see the New Africa as well in floating bounce said Africa is now its  time to re-visit its Traditional and cultural roots . The Pan African serenated woman from America said It is time for Afro-Americans to visit their roots and know where they came.

‘’ The Visit to Zimbabwe has made me revive my roots as an individual. Just imagine 400 years under repression in Slavery. We experienced the pain of Feudalism, Imperialism and colonialism. This is not just a joke. We need to look sideways and find for ourselves where we need to go, what we need to do and the way forward.

‘’This is time for Africa to go back to its roots, revive its culture and Tradition and to visit its original vestiges from where their Ancestors were born, bred and buried. We are the remaining sons and daughters of this Land who need to see a New World of African History and its future light ahead.

‘’Africa is our home for -ever. Together, we build a new Africa living under Liberalism, freedom and Independence of mind. This is another time and opportunity to come up with a new Africa. A New Africa that opens way for us to know where we came as nations’’, said the spirited African vivacious man.

The visiting delegates shall look at issues affecting YOUNG PEOPLE. The discussion is that there is need to remind the young people about our roots, where we came from and what went wrong and the new way forward. Shalo Campbell a visitor who took it with the same spirit to raise the African fire kept burning said young people are the Leaders tomorrow. She reiterated that young people need peace in the peace of mind to grow and develop their continent.

‘’Young people have got lost. We need to embrace our Heritage, Culture, Tradition and Religious values of total respect, unity, peace and social solidarity. Africa has lost its salt and light. If a country has lost its taste, saltiness and savory, its future as well is doomed as we move along as a country.

‘’Africa needs to revive itself as a continent .We need decolonize our- selves. This is only possible through Peace and Unity. However .I feel pity that Africa is still lagging behind. Worse still we are submerging fast into deep waters.’’

Apart from raising Tourism in Zimbabwe, the most important concept is to build a New Africa. Delegates also voiced that there is need for all children of those Afro-Americans and various similar ethnical groups to visit their soil and seed their love on the African soil

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Released Ethiopian Bloggers expose digital media control tactics
October 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali

Accra, Ghana

Released Ethiopian bloggers have expressed cautious optimism on recent political reforms started by the new Prime Minister Dr Abi Ahmed, saying some behaviors of previous regime are still lingering in the East African country.

Speaking at the just concluded forum on Internet Freedom in Africa, for the first time the young bloggers shared their experience on the control of digital media, surveillance and censorship in Ethiopia with a pan-African and international audience.

African bloggers, journalists, activists, legal experts, researchers and governments gathered in the West African city to discuss freedom of expression online amid increasing rights violation in the digital space.

The group of bloggers also known as ‘Zone 9’ talked with emotion their surveillance experience, arrests, interrogation and imprisonment in what they called torture centres in Ethiopia.

‘Zone 9’ launched their blog in 2012, after two years of activities Ethiopian government arrested the bloggers.

“After three months of interrogation they trumped charges against us,” said Mr. Zelalem Kibret, co-founder of “Zone 9” platform in an interview.

They were charging us with crime against the constitution and crime of terrorism,” Mr Kibret explained.

According to the blogger, the real accusations were working with international rights organizations to terrorize the public.

Before the new political reforms several Human rights organizations documented crack down cases against opposition and lack of media freedom in Ethiopia which led to the forced exile of many journalists, activists and opposition politicians.

It was not unexpected because there were thousands of Ethiopians by the time who were jailed as per anti-terrorism law, Kibret, further noted.

“So we expected that it was coming,”

In recent months thousands of opposition and media websites were unblocked as part of political reforms that were largely welcomed in the country and abroad.

Young bloggers narrated crackdown online with their colleagues who were allegedly monitored by security agents, including a blogger whose website was blocked 17 times despite changing domain names.

“We were forces to censor ourselves,” said one of bloggers who was on a panel during Internet Freedom Forum.

Social media played a key role in their publications. Bloggers said Facebook was also their main channel to reach their audience in Ethiopia and diaspora.

While young Ethiopians knew the risk of challenging government with a different narrative, they said that they were surprised by the extent of government reaction.

One of the bloggers revealed their phones were tapped over a year, their movements were also monitored.

Online Publications

There was not limit to the stories they posted. From sports, politics, economics to social issues.

“Most of the time we published opinions on political issues and very critical on government,” said the blogger, writer who is also a legal practitioner.

“I personally, I am a lawyer most of my blogs are on legality, constitutionalism, everything related with the law as well as politics”.

“Most of the time we focused on very difficult political topics that government does not want to be published,” said the blogger

Interned penetration in Ethiopia is very low in comparison to its East African neighbors.

According to data from International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in 2016 Internet penetration was at 15 percent.

Bloggers said their audience was diverse including those living in Ethiopia and diaspora.

“We got trust from most of people because we were genuine,” We did not hide anything”. Noted the Ethiopian writer

“There are a lot of people who hide themselves behind anonymity,”

Mr Charles Onyango Obbo, a publisher based in Nairobi, Kenya and veteran journalist described the rising power of Internet and Social media on governance and political change as “digitalcracy”.

Social media tax also dominated the conversation; some saying it hinders freedom of expression online and access to Internet.

Uganda has imposed the tax which led the loss of revenue of MTN, one of major telecom operators in the East African country.

Zambia introduced tax on Internet Voice Calls, while Benin suspended the tax reportedly due to public pressure and critics from Human rights organizations.

According to Dr Wairagala Wakabi, executive director of Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), other African countries will likely introduce Social Media tax in future.

Internet Shut-downs

Cameroon, Gabon, Togo and a host of other African countries have been cited for shut down internet connectivity within the last two years mainly for political reasons.

Olumide Babalola, a Nigerian lawyer was quoted as saying: “Internet shut down will continue with impunity unless we rise up to denounce this ill in the strongest possible terms,”

“We must also find ways to circumvent the incessant censorship by governments on cyberspace” stated Dr. Wakabi.

Some activists and internet freedom advocates said most governments use security as an excuse to shut down Internet.

“Governments will always use ‘national security’ as an excuse to shut down the internet and repress freedom of expression ”, Sulemana Braimah, executive director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) told attendees at the opening of the two-day event in Accra, Ghana last week.

 

 

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Twice as many African presidents made it to China’s Africa summit than to the UN general assembly
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Abdi Latif Dahir*

As the current chairperson of the African Union, Rwandan president Paul Kagame was among the first five leaders to address the just-concluded 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Kagame extolled the “deepening” partnership between Africa and the global body, noting, “the dividend of a more focused and functional Africa benefits everyone.”

But even as he emphasized this mutual cooperation, it was hard not to notice the absence of major African leaders at the world’s biggest political summit. A Quartz analysis of the African principals who spoke at the general debate using the country list published by the UN shows fewer African presidents attended the general assembly in New York than were at the third summit of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation that took place in Beijing two weeks earlier in September. The index of leaders who attended FOCAC was gathered from the forum’s official English website. By Quartz’s count 51 African leaders were in Beijing compared with 27 in New York.

And it’s not just about the presidents: at least 24 African states sent lower-ranking officials to the UN than they did to FOCAC.

The UN list included nations from all regions of the continent, both small and large. Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed, Africa’s youngest leader, skipped the session even though he was expected to be one of the prominent speakers. Presidents from Somalia to Gabon, Uganda, and Senegal all missed UNGA, sending prime ministers and foreign secretaries instead. These African heads joined other global leaders who snubbed the assembly of nations including China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and German chancellor Angela Merkel. (The exception to the rule was eSwatini, the only African state with diplomatic relations with Taiwan which didn’t attend the shindig in Beijing.)

Observers say the disparities in attendance between UNGA and FOCAC point to the shifting dynamics and priorities of the African continent. It also illustrates the limitations facing the UN, whose lofty declarations and bold rhetoric has faced growing criticism in recent years. The 193-member state body has also struggled to make its work more substantive globally, as the threats to multilateralism grow and it stares down funding cuts from the United States under the Trump administration, one of its major contributors.

The truancy could, however, be practical says Hannah Ryder, the CEO of Beijing-based consultancy firm Development Reimagined (DR). While the general debate takes place every year, the China-Africa forum happens every three, meaning “there is going to be some priority given to something that happens less often.” UNGA also provides African country representatives an opportunity to catch up, network and discuss pressing matters, something, Ryder notes, leaders might have already done in Beijing.

African heads of states and governments might have chosen to stay back given the tense protests and domestic pressures they face at home too. This could be true of Cameroon, Togo, South SudanUganda besides Ethiopia, where premier Abiy chaired a major ruling party meeting this week following deadly ethnic violence in recent months.

The variance in attendance also shows how the relationship with China is absolutely crucial to African leaders—a point Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo emphasized in his speech at the UN. Research from Development Reimagined has indicated that few other continental or country-specific bilateral summits have managed to attract as many African heads of states or pledges as FOCAC. And Chinese leaders reciprocate this goodwill, visiting the continent more often than their European or American counterparts, and announcing pledges to the tune of $60 billion in the next three years.

African countries are also prioritizing their engagements with each other by signing free trade agreements, discussing how to finance their own security, and working to reduce external mediation and interference in regional security affairs.

In these changing times, Ryder says the UN should work to bring African states into the fold and rejuvenate their commitment to pursuing common global goals. This, Ryder adds, will involve addressing the imbalances in the very foundation of the UN system and engaging these emerging states when they don’t need traditional aid or peacekeeping forces. “It’s a big task.”

*Called from Quartz Africa

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Africa’s most ambitious companies are winning by going pan-African
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Abdi Latif Dahir*

African companies are gradually realizing that their path to profit and growth is tied closely to the continent.

Leading companies in sectors as diverse as finance, manufacturing, transportation, retail, and media are expanding their businesses across borders to generate higher returns. In African Development Bank (AfDB)’s first Africa-to-Africa investment report, the multilateral financial institution says a pool of 300 companies are showing more confidence in the continent’s long-term growth, tailoring their business models to regional markets, hiring and training local talent, and building private-public partnerships.

The report specifically notes the example of Ethiopian Airlines, which through a mix of strategic investments, airline acquisitions, and pan-African partnerships has taken off as Africa’s largest airline. Financial institutions like Togo’s Ecobank, South Africa’s Standard Group, and the Kenya Commercial Bank were also lauded for adopting flexible cross-border strategies, promoting diversity in their business portfolio, and pushing governments to embrace regional integration.

AfDB estimates that between 2006 and 2016, intra-African greenfield investments grew from $4 billion to $10 billion. The number of intra-regional mergers and acquisitions also doubled from 238 deals in 2006 to more than 418 in 2016.

Africa is seeing better integrated trade these days, and the volatile global environment is helping to push nations to promote intra-regional investment as one way to shore up against external shocks. This is exemplified in the signing in March of the African Continental Free Trade Area, aimed at uniting a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion. Countries are also improving on their pro-business climate: Sub-Saharan Africa was the region with the highest total number of reforms in terms of doing business in 2016/17, according to the World Bank. Companies are also realizing the potential for returns and impact are also here, given rising population numbers, increasing access to technology, and improving visa rules to facilitate free movement.

AfDB, however, says there’s a long way to go before businesses in Africa can have the resources and temerity needed to cross borders. These include access to finance, high tax rates, electricity shortages, besides regulatory challenges. Yet smaller firms can draw on insights from leading multinationals. Key among these lessons is building a strong domestic base first before launching regional or continental operations.

*Culled from Quartz Africa
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Nobel Peace Prize winner: Denis Mukwege from DR Congo
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
Dr Mukwege says the conflict in DR Congo is being waged to destroy Congolese women

Dr Mukwege says the conflict in DR Congo is being waged to destroy Congolese women

Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege is known as “Doctor Miracle” for his ability to repair through reconstructive surgery the horrific damage inflicted on women who have been raped.

The 63-year-old Congolese gynaecologist set up the Panzi hospital in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Bukavu nearly 20 years ago – shortly after he had his first experience of treating a woman who had been raped and mutilated by armed men.

Dr Mukwege recounted the horrific injury the patient had suffered in a BBC interview, saying the woman had not only been raped but bullets had been fired into her genitals and thighs.

He, along with his colleagues, have since treated tens of thousands of victims.

Panzi hospital now cares for more than 3,500 women a year. Sometimes Dr Mukwege performs as many as 10 operations a day.

‘Rape capital of the world’

“I… started a hospital made from tents. I built a maternity ward with an operating theatre. In 1998, everything was destroyed again. So, I started all over again in 1999,” he told the BBC in 2013.

Denis Mukwege talks to staff and students during a round at the ward for recovering patients on November 2, 2007 in BukavuImage copyrightAFP
Image captionDr Mukwege talks to staff and students during a round at the ward for recovering patients

Panzi hopsital has since grown to become a major health facility in eastern DR Congo. Its website says it has 370 doctors, nurses and support staff.

It serves a population of 400,000 and also treats patients from neighbouring countries.

Eastern DR Congo has been wracked by more than two decades of conflict, with numerous armed groups battling for control of the region’s rich deposits of gold and other precious minerals.

Many different militias have been accused of carrying out the indiscriminate rape of the region’s women.

“The conflict in DR Congo is not between groups of religious fanatics. Nor is it a conflict between states. This is a conflict caused by economic interests – and it is being waged by destroying Congolese women,” Dr Mukwege told the BBC.

In 2010, a top UN official labelled the country “the rape capital of the world”.

Women raised funds for his return

In September 2012, in a speech at the UN, Dr Mukwege criticised President Joseph Kabila’s government and other countries for not doing enough to stop what he called “an unjust war that has used violence against women and rape as a strategy of war”.

The following month he was targeted by gunmen who broke into his home and briefly held his daughters hostage.

According to his organisation’s website, his trusted friend and security guard was killed during the attack.

He later fled with his family to Sweden, then to Belgium.

DR Congo Map

He returned home in 2013 following a campaign by local women who raised funds to pay for his return ticket.

“After that gesture, I couldn’t really say no. And also, I am myself determined to help fight these atrocities, this violence.”

“My life has had to change, since returning. I now live at the hospital and I take a number of security precautions, so I have lost some of my freedom,” he told the BBC’s Outlook programme in 2013.

Dr Mukwege currently lives under the permanent protection of UN peacekeepers at his hospital.

‘I was operating when I heard the news’

He told the Nobel committee in a brief interview that he was in the operating theatre when the news of the prize came through.

“It was when I was operating and I heard people start to cry and it was so, so surprising,” he said.

“I can see in the face of many women how they are happy to be recognised and this is really so touching,” he added.

A picture of Dr Mukwege and the staff of Panzi hospital celebrating the Nobel win has been shared on Twitter:

Crowds gathered at the hospital cheered and ululated to celebrate the prize which Dr Mukwege said was dedicated to the many women who were victims of sexual violence.

Although he has fallen out with DR Congo’s government, its spokesman Lambert Mende congratulated Dr Mukwege.

“We have had differences with [him] every time that he tried to politicise his work, which however is important from a humanitarian standpoint. But now, we are satisfied with the Nobel Academy’s recognition of the work of a compatriot,” Mr Mende told AFP news agency.

Dr Mukwege was born in 1955 in Bukavu. He went to medical school across the border in Burundi and later studied gynaecology and obstetrics at the University of Angers in France.

He was inspired to become a doctor after numerous visits to see the sick with his preacher father.

He has received many other international awards, including the 2008 UN Human Rights Prize. He was named African of the Year in 2009.

*Source BBC

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Researcher: Signs of anglophone crisis were there 20 years ago
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

As Cameroon prepares for a presidential election on 7 October, violence continues in the English-speaking Southwest and Northwest regions. In a prophetic article in 1999, Professor Francis Nyamnjoh described how the state system of divide and rule makes Cameroon’s regional and ethnic groups turn against each other. “Regrettably, this is what we are seeing today”, he tells The Nordic Africa Institute.

Cameroonian elite Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) members during a patrol in the south west city of Buea, Photo: Zohra Bensemra

Cameroonian elite Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) members during a patrol in the south west city of Buea, Photo: Zohra Bensemra

The brewing conflict erupted into violence after security forces in October 2017 cracked down on protests calling for English to be used in classrooms and courtrooms in Cameroon’s anglophone regions. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International estimates that 400 citizens have been killed in the past year and 160 members of the security forces since late 2016.

According to Nyamnjoh, the anglophone movement is not only a protest against the marginalisation of the English-speaking population in the former French colony, but also a protest against President Paul Biya, who has held a firm grip on Cameroonian politics for 36 years.

“The fact that anglophones oppose the government doesn’t make it an anglophone problem necessarily. In fact, it is a very Cameroonian problem: of a state that doesn’t deliver, a state that has no business being there because there are no results.”

After decades under the same political system, people have become numb, according to Francis Nyamnjoh. Photo taken at Hotel Gillet in Uppsala in September 2018. Photo: Mattias Sköld

In his 1999 article Cameroon: a country united by ethnic ambition and difference Nyamnjoh, a Cameroonian national himself, described how Biya had turned Cameroon into a country with a chronic lack of vision or commitment to democracy, and had created a corrupt system that had “more room for loyal mediocrity than critical excellence”. He also described how the president had perfected a policy of regional and ethnic balance, instituted by his predecessor Ahmadou Ahidjo, borrowing from the colonial legacy of “decentralised despotism”.

“In reality, this policy is far less about balance than it is about diverting attention from real to imagined problems and causes”, Nyamnjoh wrote.

“The crisis in the anglophone regions continues because of poor governance. The state is using the divide and rule tactic, claiming that ‘the protesters want to divide our beloved country’. In this way it is preventing the formation of a broader movement of Cameroonians, regardless of colonial heritage and postcolonial intermediary identities, rallying against the real problems of the government.”

Francis Nyamnjoh says that the existing climate of conflict and division feeds on caricatures and stereotypes about francophones and anglophones, with short and easy-to-remember, often derogatory, representations of the other.

“You can argue that ethnicity has crystalised around this common idea of Anglo-Saxon heritage, whether real or imagined, in the Cameroonian context – that people identify with an opposition to what they consider as the negative aspects of the French heritage in Cameroon.”

According to Nyamnjoh, the same principle of divide and rule would also help explain why Cameroon has not seen broader movements for political change, as in Tunisia, Egypt, Burkina Faso or The Gambia.

“After decades under this system, people have become so numb, including the intellectuals that you would expect to speak up.”

Nyamnjoh, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town is also writer of fiction. In his novels he writes about the fictional country Mimboland. Mimbo in Pidgin English means alcohol, and Mimboland is the land of alcohol and drunks in abundance. The country’s leader, President Longstay, is there forever. He doesn’t produce results, but he is eternally there.

“How come Africa is so full of President Longstays?” says Nyamnjoh.

He hopes that Cameroonians, especially the young, will rise above hollow pretences and aspire for a common humanity, a common ‘Cameroonian-ness’ without shackles.

“Everybody is a human being first, who is entitled to certain needs and a certain respect, before being francophone or anglophone. If we divide we will keep dividing and cut, cut, cut… There is always something to cut and the problem will not disappear.”

Nyamnjoh says that Cameroonians must stop hiding away from the problems of the current government.

“They should not claim that because the questions are posed by anglophones then it is not a Cameroonian problem. The Cameroonian problem is that the leadership has failed us, francophones and anglophones alike.”

TEXT: Mattias Sköld

President Paul Biya.

The presidential election on 7 October

Paul Biya, Cameroon’s 85-year-old president, is expected to win a seventh term in office, extending his rule well into his 90s. Biya has been head of state since 1982, when he took over following the resignation of Ahmadou Ahidjo, who had held power since independence in 1960.

Several opposition parties are boycotting the election, with one party leader calling it “a setup for one person to win”. Opposition members have demanded an independent electoral commission, functioning biometric system for voter registration and two-round presidential election.

The crisis in the anglophone regions (the Northwest and Southwest)

The crisis is rooted in historical identity-based grievances. Many anglophones feel they have been politically and economically marginalised.

After security forces in October 2017 responded violently to protests, the movement rapidly developed into an armed insurgency. According to independent observers, such as the International Crisis Group, the government bears a large share of the responsibility for the conflict. It failed to recognise the legitimacy of anglophone grievances, its security forces committed widespread abuses and imprisoned many peaceful activists.

Two armed militias, the Ambazonia Defence Forces and the Southern Cameroons Defence Forces, and several small ‘self-defence’ groups carry out attacks against the security forces. The insurgents have symbolically proclaimed the independence of a new state called ‘Ambazonia’. According to the UN, some 160,000 people have fled their homes in Cameroon, while more than 25,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria.

Francis Nyamnjoh

Professor of Anthropology at University of Cape Town, originally from Cameroon. He has written extensively on issues as diverse as democratisation, ethnicity and regionalism in Africa, globalisation, and the role and place of the media in Africa. He was keynote speaker at the Nordica Africa Days 2018, held in Uppsala in September.

*Source Nordic African Institute

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U.S. startup finds new way to finance African businesses
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
Ovamba co-founders Marvin Cole (left) and Viola Llewellyn are helping small businesses in West Africa access capital. (© Ovamba)

Ovamba co-founders Marvin Cole (left) and Viola Llewellyn are helping small businesses in West Africa access capital. (© Ovamba)

Emmanuel Neossi is so good at his job, exporting cocoa and coffee beans from Cameroon, that some call him “Monsieur Cocoa.”

Neossi founded Producam SA in 2012 with just a couple of warehouses in Cameroon’s western region. By 2017, his business was growing so rapidly he could not keep up with demand. He approached Ovamba, a U.S. financing company that helps small businesses like Neossi’s grow, but in a different way than traditional banks.

Ovamba connected Neossi with three foreign investors ready to finance 10,000 tons of cocoa for export. Within a year, Neossi closed on $500 million with an American private equity firm to begin cocoa processing in-region.

“Banking falls short,” said Viola Llewellyn, Ovamba’s co-founder and president, of the difficulty entrepreneurs in African nations face in finding financing. “The ‘missing middle’ of Africa’s growing middle class can’t get business services.”

That “missing middle” is a rising portion of populations across the continent that earn too much to qualify for government services or assistance from nonprofits, but not enough to invest in their own advancement, whether by paying university tuition or by funding a new business venture.

John Sedunov, a professor of finance at Villanova University, says many banks in Africa are hesitant to take the chance on small and medium-sized enterprises like Producam because they do not have the traditional data sources to assess an investment’s risk that larger businesses do.

Ovamba has custom-built dozens of software programs for the company’s clients in Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire. These programs collect data on clients’ businesses and transactions to build a robust risk assessment for investors, as an alternative to traditional documents that banks use.

Llewellyn and her business partner, Marvin Cole, started Ovamba in 2013. Both had years of experience working on finance in sub-Saharan Africa, but they were frustrated by the foreign perception of investment in the region as small and charitable. They wanted a way to “make capital available to African businesses that is authentic [and] meets their cultural needs.”

Chart showing loan challenges and solutions in Africa (State Dept./J. Maruszewski)
(State Dept./J. Maruszewski)

 

Llewellyn’s message to small and medium-sized businesses is: “We can help you grow. We’re going to let you know when you should buy more at a rate you want, so the money in your bank account stays there.”

“We want to reach those people who are almost ignored by the corporations,” says Ovamba’s chief technology officer, Prashant Mahajan.

*Source ShareAmerica

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Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi Outlines Trade and Investment Opportunities in Mozambique at IGD Presidential Breakfast
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
U.S. and global business leaders gathered to learn more about investment and participating in the IGD Advanced Executive Program in Mozambique
President Nyusi

President Nyusi

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 3, 2018 – Touting high growth rates and an improved business environment, H.E. Felipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique, outlined why the Southern African nation is an attractive investment destination and invited U.S. and global investors and business leaders to travel to the country to explore its trade and investment opportunities.

The Initiative for Global Development hosted President Nyusi and top ministers from key growth sectors in the Mozambican government at the Presidential Breakfast on Doing Business in Mozambique on September 26, during the United Nations General Assembly, at the Thomson Reuters Times Square Building in New York City.

“Mozambique is a country with untapped potential and there are so many areas to be explored,” said President Nyusi at the breakfast gathering of investors and private sector leaders.

The Presidential Breakfast, sponsored by Thomson Reuters, officially kicked off the IGD Advanced Executive Program, which will be held from October 29 to November 2 in Mozambique. The Advanced Executive Program is aimed at equipping U.S. and global business leaders with the professional capacity and leadership skills, connections and real-world business exposure to effectively explore and engage in trade and investment opportunities on the African continent.

President Nyusi said that Mozambique’s trade engagement with the United States has been primarily through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the signature U.S.-Africa trade law. The president noted that in 2016 only 2 percent of the country’s total goods and products were exported to the U.S. “It shows that Mozambique is not tapping properly into the AGOA program,” he said.

The IGD Advanced Executive Program seeks to reverse that trend by bringing investors to the country to forge potential trade and investment partnerships.

IGD’s Leila Ndiaye with President Nyusi in New York

“Our goal is for American business leaders to return home from Mozambique with not only the knowledge and skills on how to conduct business in the country, but also with meaningful interactions with the local business leaders to form long-lasting partnerships,” said Leila Ndiaye, President & CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD).

“Through the executive immersion program, we look forward to strengthening the trade and investment tis between the U.S. and Mozambique,” said Ndiaye.

Organizational partners include the USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub; USAID SpeedPlus Program; U.S. Commercial Service/U.S. embassy of Mozambique, U.S. Department of Commerce; International Council on Small Business (ICSB); and Thomson Reuters. Sasol is a major sponsor of the executive immersion program.

The five-day immersion program will feature educational seminars led by African business leaders, visits with top African government officials, site visits to leading industries, and a cultural celebration. Upon completion of the Advanced Executive Program, participants will receive certification for completion of the program.

The country’s abundance of natural resources offers foreign investors immense trade and investment opportunities in energy, mines, agriculture, forestry, fishing and tourism. Exclusive meetings with Government Ministers and officials from key sectors will provide insight into the regulatory reforms and business and investment environment.

Understanding and navigating the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the largest trade agreement signed since the World Trade Organization (WTO) was established, will be highlighted during the training program.

During the Presidential Breakfast, U.S. and Mozambican business leaders made connections during the B2B networking session at the end of the program.

To register and learn more about the IGD Advanced Executive Program on Doing Business in Africa, please visit http://www.igdleaders.org/igd-advanced-executive-program/.

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Rule of law key to peace building – UN advisor
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Adama Dieng

Adama Dieng

Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has stated that respect for the rule of law is a key factor in preventing and mitigating atrocious crimes and human right violations.

He said that developing strong rule of law institutions must also be central to governments’ preventive efforts, adding that responsive rule of law institutions is key to stability, conflict prevention and peaceful co -existence.

The breakdown of rule of the law significantly increases the risk of gross violations of human rights which may lead to atrocity crimes.

Mr Dieng made this submission at the 6th Kofi Annan – Dag Hammarskjold Annual Lecture in Accra.

He spoke on the theme: Preventing Armed Conflicts: Identifying and Mitigating Risks.

He said that in post-conflict situations and divided societies, rule of law is especially critical to ensuring accountability and rebuilding trust and confidence in state institutions and government framework.

“Credible state institutions and governments that citizens can trust are essential to build a peaceful society.

 It is always disheartening to see some governments around the world neglect their primary duty to fulfill this role and instead, officials engage in misappropriation of state resources for personal gain thus denying delivery of essential services like education, healthcare and security to their people”, he said.

“Without commitment to provide these essential; services to those who lack them, our hope for the world where human life is respected and rule of law honored will remain elusive”, he added.

Mr Dieng said that rule of law calls for accountability for atrocity crimes and other violations of human rights.

“I have always argued that peace and justice are like identical twins joined at the hip. It is difficult to separate them and achieve sustainable peace in post conflict situation or indeed any other society.

While we would expect domestic judicial institutions to effectively complement the work of international and regional judicial institutions, the reality on ground in many countries demonstrate that local judicial systems are inadequate to sufficiently respond to the demand for justice that they are supposed to satisfy”, he added.

He said his office had developed a framework of analysis based on international standards and practice that identifies risk factors for atrocity crimes that could assist to prevent conflict situations before they deteriorate.

He said this framework had helped the office to raise risk of atrocity crimes at an early stage in many situations, including the Central African Republic, Myanmar and South Sudan.

Speaking on human rights, Mr Dieng said, “We cannot undertake meaningful prevention without respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms universally recognized and guaranteed by the international Bill of Rights and other international and regional instruments.

United Nations Resident Coordinator Christin Evans-Klock, said the lecture rightly put cooperation and coordination among regional and national actors at the heart of that effort form the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS, down to the national governments and civil society organizations.

“They all have relevant mandates to bring to bear and lessons from experience to share in identifying and mitigating risks”, she said.

“So today, here, we have the opportunity to examine root causes of persistent conflicts, to identify new risks, and to discuss candidly what we have tried so far and what new approaches are needed to resolve conflicts and avert violence”, she added.

The Commandant, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) AVM Evans Santrofi Griffiths said that loss of lives and properties, displacement, and increased levels of poverty, sexual exploitation and gender-based violence, spill-overs into nearby states are sine if the negative effects of armed conflicts which retrogress individuals and communities.

He said “in spite of its natural resource endowments and very youthful population, the continent is still described as “poor in the midst of plenty” and its influence on international politics has profoundly diminished due to deficits of peace, governance and development”.

“We cannot continue with this same narrative. We need to reverse this trend, we need to offer our people better life opportunities so that they can feel safe to be part of the change we so desire.

The journey to reverse this trend, I believe, is by tackling the root causes of conflict and the precursors to instability by prioritizing, financing and investing in same”, he said.

He added that “this theme is a natural fit into KAIPTC’s vision to be the leading and preferred international center for training, education and research in African peace and security.

We strive to incorporate the needs of the SDG’s, agenda 2063, ECPF and the governance and democracy principles into our training, research and academic programming to build the needed capacity and to influence policy to foster peace and stability”.

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Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is Slower than Expected
October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
Investments in Non-Resource Sectors, Jobs and Efficient Firms and Workers are Needed
Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa.

Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa.

WASHINGTON, October 3, 2018 – Sub-Saharan African economies are still recovering from the slowdown in 2015-16, but growth is slower than expected, according to the October 2018 issue of Africa’s Pulse, the bi-annual analysis of the state of African economies by the World Bank. The average growth rate in the region is estimated at 2.7 percent in 2018, which represents a slight increase from 2.3 percent in 2017.

 
“The region’s economic recovery is in progress but at a slower pace than expected,” said Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa“To accelerate and sustain an inclusive growth momentum, policy makers must continue to focus on investments that foster human capital, reduce resource misallocation and boost productivity. Policymakers in the region must equip themselves to manage new risks arising from changes in the composition of capital flows and debt.”
 
Slow growth is partially a reflection of a less favorable external environment for the region. Global trade and industrial activity lost momentum, as metals and agricultural prices fell due to concerns about trade tariffs and weakening demand prospects. While oil prices are likely to be on an upward trend into 2019, metals prices may remain subdued amid muted demand, particularly in China. Financial market pressures intensified in some emerging markets and concern about their dollar-denominated debt has risen amid a stronger US dollar.
 
The slower pace of the recovery in Sub-Saharan Africa (0.4 percentage points lower than the April forecast) is explained by the sluggish expansion in the region’s three largest economies, Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa. Lower oil production in Angola and Nigeria offset higher oil prices, and in South Africa, weak household consumption growth was compounded by a contraction in agriculture. Growth in the region – excluding Angola, Nigeria and South Africa – was steady. Several oil exporters in Central Africa were helped by higher oil prices and an increase in oil production. Economic activity remained solid in the fast-growing non-resource-rich countries, such as Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Rwanda, supported by agricultural production and services on the production side, and household consumption and public investment on the demand side.
 
Public debt remained high and continues to rise in some countries. Vulnerability to weaker currencies and rising interest rates associated with the changing composition of debt may put the region’s public debt sustainability further at risk. Other domestic risks include fiscal slippage, conflicts, and weather shocks. Consequently, policies and reforms are needed that can strengthen resilience to risks and raise medium-term potential growth.
 
This issue of Africa’s Pulse highlights sub-Saharan Africa’s lower labor productivity and potentials for improvement “Reforms should include policies which encourage investments in non-resource sectors, generate jobs and improve the efficiency of firms and workers,” said Cesar Calderon, Lead Economist and Lead author of the report.
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Top UN adviser calls for Cameroon investigation
October 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Emmanuel Igunza*

Mr Dieng said there's need for dialogue to resolve the Cameroon civil crisis

Mr Dieng said there’s need for dialogue to resolve the Cameroon civil crisis

The UN special adviser on prevention of genocide has called for immediate investigations into a wave of killings in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions.

Adama Dieng described the atrocities being committed in the country as “concerning” and said both sides of the conflict should “sit around the table and dialogue to end the conflict”.

“The crimes committed by both parties need to be properly and independently investigated and perpetrators of those crimes need to be brought urgently to justice so that people know that no-one is above the law – that all Cameroonians are equal,” he said.

Groups calling for independence of the region they call Ambazonia have been staging attacks against government forces, which have responded with what has been condemned as a brutal crackdown.

The separatists are riding on long-held complaints by residents of the South-West and North-West region over what they see as marginalisation by the French-speaking majority.

They say they are forced to use French in schools and courts.

Both sides have been accused of kidnappings, extra-judicial killings and the burning of villages.

“My worry is that we still have many people being killed, so far more than 400 people. We have seen atrocious crimes being committed. We need to have political dialogue but also demand for justice,” he told me.

Cameroon is to hold presidential elections on 7 October. “It is true that one could not exclude some form of violence [around the polls] but for the time being things seem to be under control,” Mr Dieng said.

Map

Cameroon government forces have also been accused of human rights crimes against civilians in their fight against Islamist militant group Boko Haram in the far north of the country.

Recently, a BBC investigative report analysed a horrifying video that showed two women and children being blindfolded and shot multiple times by Cameroonian soldiers.

The Cameroon government has since arrested some of the soldiers shown in the video despite initially dismissing the footage, which was widely shared on social media.

Mr Dieng also defended the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) after US President Donald Trump made scathing attacks against the Hague-based court, saying it lacked legitimacy and jurisdiction.

Some African countries have also threatened to withdraw from the Rome Statute that set up the institution.

“It is very unfortunate that there is today this perception that the ICC is selective. That’s not true,” Mr Dieng said.

He said the court was an important deterrent to war crimes being committed in the world.

“History has shown that the ICC is an independent court governed by the law. We saw the case against Kenya’s current President Uhuru Kenyatta being closed, and we also saw what happened with the case of [ex-Democratic Republic of Congo warlord] Jean-Pierre Bemba, who on appeal was also acquitted.”

“I supported African leaders when they said they wanted to have their own court, but since they adopted the protocol to set it up, how many Africa states have ratified the protocol? Not more than five. It’s very unfortunate,” he added.

*BBC

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Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa takes on repressiveness online
October 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Hans Ngala

Accra, Ghana.

The fifth edition of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) has ended with calls for media professionals to form coalitions to curb the harassment of these professionals by governments across Africa.

Three hundred participants from across Africa, Europe, Asia, North and South America discussed everything from fake news and disinformation to restrictive policies that make the work of journalists difficult and how these restrictions can be bypassed.

“Governments will always use ‘national security’ as an excuse to shut down the internet and repress freedom of expression”, Sulemana Braimah, executive director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) told attendees at the opening of the two-day event in Accra, Ghana last week.

“This is the time to hold these stakeholders to account” he added.

Smaller sessions discussed how to stay safe online in a continent where being online and expressing oneself is often equated with “terrorism”.

The topic was handled by the Zone 9 bloggers, a group of Ethiopian bloggers; some of whom were arrested and allegedly jailed for doing their job by the Ethiopian authorities.

“Governments label those who are brave to fight for justice as terrorists” said Befekadu Hailu, one of the Zone 9 bloggers narrating how he was tortured for simply blogging.

Discussions in other panels addressed the issue ‘fake news’ across social media platforms on the continent.

Journalists and bloggers were called upon to go last with a story and first with the truth to ensure that they don’t fall victim to the dissemination of unverified information. Added to this, they would need to find tools that will help them to verify the authenticity of photos, audio, tweets and other infographics that sometimes pass for ‘news’ on social media when they really are not.

“The internet nowadays is just as important as water or electricity. You simply cannot do without it” Peter Asare from the Pan African University in Cameroon told the audience. “You cannot separate your life online from your life offline’’ and so “we better fight for the right to freedom on the internet” Charles Onyangobo from Africapedia said.

Cameroon, Gabon, Togo and a host of other African countries have shut down internet connectivity within the last two years mainly for reasons to do with politics. A phenomenon which will “continue with impunity unless we rise up to denounce this ill in the strongest possible terms” according to Olumide Babalola, a Nigerian lawyer.

“We, like the proverbial hunter who shoots without missing, must also find ways to circumvent the incessant censorship by governments on cyberspace” stated Dr. Waraigala Wakabi from the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA).

It is worth mentioning that the FIFAfrica is a landmark event that convenes various stakeholders from the internet governance and online rights arenas in Africa and abroad to discuss issues relating to internet governance and internet freedom.

This is the first time it was held in West Africa, having been hosted in East and Southern Africa before. This year’s event was jointly hosted by CIPESA and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and saw students, academics, journalists, opposition politicians, ICT experts, human rights activists among several others in attendance.

 

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