Call Us Now: (240) 429 2177

countries

African Challenges to African Development
March 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ehiedu Iweriebor*
Ehiedu Iweriebor, Professor and former Chair of the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA

Ehiedu Iweriebor, Professor and former Chair of the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA

NEW YORK, March 3, 2017– The parlous story of African economic and social development since independence best expressed in the failure to achieve the autonomous capacity for self-actuated development and in particular to create conditions of national and continental modern mass production and prosperity is well known and need not be repeated. It is enough to re-state that Africa’s development failure was because of the leaderships’ choice to retain, maintain and expand the inherited exocentric colonial system of development incapacitation, primary commodity export, import dependency and poverty generation.

The progressive efforts of some African states and leaders to change the system and create self-reliant economies were stymied by the leaderships’ ideological inadequacies and dependency, the balance of payment crises of the late 1970s and 1980s and the subsequent economic crises and decline. This provided the avenue for Western multilateral imperialist agencies  the World Bank and the IMF – to successfully infiltrate into Africa, re-colonize African states and convert them into neo-colonial out-posts of the so-called neo-liberal consensus. This framework embodied in the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) with its destructives conditionalities: currency devaluation, trade liberalization, subsidy removal, deregulation and privatization, re-directed the African states to focus on expanded raw materials production and exports and to abandon industrialization and development capacitation.

The application of these anti-development SAP dogmas in the 1980s and 1990s ushered in two decades of deepening indebtedness, serious economic crises, de-industrialization, socio-economic decline, deepening impoverishment and political repression. On the other hand, the period also saw the upsurge of popular democratisation struggles, civil rights campaigns, the restoration democracy, and the establishment of electoral democracy and the decline of military interventions in African politics. In the economic sphere, there were innovative dependency-reducing responses. This was because among businesses there was an increased re-orientation toward local sourcing of well-known agricultural and mineral endowments to expand production. This led to the emergence of new economic sectors and especially the expansion of cottage, small and medium scale consumer goods industries which were operationally autonomous due to the increased utilization of local resources for production and self-development.

In addition there was relative political stability and policy and institutional the support for businesses through the creation of enabling environments for attracting investments.

It was partly because of these new domestic conditions and the economic self-activation, and the partly because of return of better commodity prices in the first decade of the 21st century that the Western media fabricated and propagated the new view of “Africa Rising”. This became a very popular and re-assuring slogan among some African leaders, politicians and intelligentsia.

However, it was an insecure condition because a “Rising Africa” whose upsurge is generated by increased external demand for primary commodities is essentially insecure. It does not represent genuine African development that is based on expansive domestic production and prosperity generation. It merely reinforces African dependency on primary commodity export and its dependence on the importation of manufactured goods. It is evaporating with the speed with which it was proclaimed.

But there was a more consequential development story of this period that ushered in what this author describes as the Affirmative African Narrative phase of development. This is the progressive assumption by African businesses of the leadership role in promoting national and pan-African development. This new trend of African self-development is captured by the new concept of “Africans Investing in Africa” This is the process by which African industrial, service, and commercial enterprises began to make large-scale investments in many different African countries. The investments involve for example the expansion of Banks, telecommunication companies, trading companies and so on. Examples of these include Nigerians Banks like UBA, Zenith, Access, First Bank; South African banks like Standard Bank and Moroccan Banks; Telecommunication companies such as MTN of South Africa, ECONET of Zimbabwe and GLOBACOM of Nigeria. Others are Shoprite, Coca cola and South African Breweries.

While Africans investing in Africa is becoming common and commendable, it is important to emphasize that NOT ALL African investments in Africa are of equal economic importance or strategic development value. For example, African investments like Shoprite and similar companies which merely establish commercial or trading enterprises that do not add value to African economies are no different from traditional non-African FDI companies that are established to create captive markets for products from their home countries and thereby maximally exploit Africa.

On the other hand, African companies that make investments that are decisive and transformational are those that deliberately promote and advance African development capacitation, through local resource exploitation, mass industrialization, large scale industrial, agricultural and mineral production, and beneficiation for internal use.

In terms of investment for development capacitation through local resource utilization and valorization, the vanguard African company is the Dangote Group. In order to ensure that Africa achieves self-sufficiency in the critically important infrastructure development requirement – CEMENT – Dangote embarked on a pan-African investment strategy to establish integrated plants, or grinding plants or cement terminals in African countries according to their resource endowments. The Group’s ultimate objective is become the ascendant cement manufacturing company in Africa. There is no question that the Dangotean strategy of development capacitation through local resource exploitation, mass industrial production and domestic prosperity-generation is what Africa requires to become the self-actuated mover of its own development and to create a secure development upsurge and continental prosperity that does not depend on the vagaries of external demand for primary commodities.

This Dangotean transformational mission and project is now been threatened by what seems like the unwillingness of African countries to respect and maintain carefully crafted legal investment agreements as sacrosanct documents and binding commitments. Within the past year the Group has faced major challenges as a result of the failure of some African states to keep their sides of the bargain or agreements concluded with Dangote Group. This happened late last year in Tanzania when the government seemed to renege on some elements within the agreements reached with the Dangote Group to give it concessions and incentives for the massive investments of over $500 million dollars that the Group made in the construction of the monumental cement plant in Mtwara, Tanzania. This Dangote Cement plant with its 3 million metric tonnes per annum capacity is the largest cement plant in Eastern Africa. In addition to the cement plant, other associated Dangote development projects include the construction of a coal power plant and a jetty. While these are primarily beneficial to the Groups business, they also represent important investments and permanent additions to Tanzania’s power and sea transport sectors.

Together these projects have generated significant direct employment opportunities and as they mature and attain full production capacity the multiplier effects in various sub-sectors would be expansive and extensive, thereby creating prosperity and income in the community as well as revenues for the local, regional and national the governments. But due to the problems Dangote had to temporarily shut down the plant; and after negotiations and assurances that restored the original terms, the plant resumed production. This Dangotean Tanzanian experience of government infidelity to the sanctity of agreements can only create profound doubts among business people on the readiness of African states and leaders to move Africa forward.

But the Group’s challenges in Africa are not over. Just recently, in Ethiopia, the regional government of Oromo Regional State where Dangote’s new over $400 million dollar, 2.5 million metric tonnes per annum cement plant is located came up with new conditions that are bound to disrupt the operations of the Dangote plant. In what it claimed is an attempt to provide employment for jobless Oromo youth it decided to withdraw all mining licences and agreements already concluded with Dangote and similar other companies with mining concessions. In its place the regional government claimed that it would create youth owned companies that would now supply the minerals required by the cement and other plants.

This action of the Oromo regional government in illegally annulling legally approved mining agreements with the Dangote Group and other companies raise major questions on the genuine preparedness of African states, politicians, and bureaucrats to foster Africa’s self-development through Africans investing in Africa. Without question the action of these governments represents major challenges to Africans assumption of responsibility for their development and the emergent Affirmative Africa Narrative. In fact at its core, these anti-investment actions are a repudiation of the long-standing aspirations of Pan-Africanism and its advocates, and the practical commitment of the continental organizations like the former Organization of African Union (OAU) and the current African Union (AU) to promote African-led development through investments, intra-African trade and exchange, as instruments for creating secure African development and domestic prosperity-generation.

This is a good example of how some African leaderships’ represent serious obstacles to African development. Quite clearly any aspiration for Africa’s take off through self-actuated development as represented by the transformational efforts of Dangote and similar committed pan-African economic revolutionaries is weakened by such leadership unfaithfulness, irresponsibility and lack of serious commitments to African investors.

Despite these set-backs, it is important for African states and the continental and regional economic groups to reaffirm their commitment to African-led transformational industrial development as the basis for Africa’s capacitation for self-actuated development. In this light, it is imperative for the AU and its various economic agencies to design Continental Investment Protection Agreements that would commit African states to respect and uphold already approved agreements and avoid arbitrary nullifications of legally binding instruments. An additional guarantor is for each African state to negotiate investment protection treaties with each other. In fact this is especially indicated for countries such as Nigeria where investors are increasingly embarking on Pan-African development investments.

Finally, pan-African transformational investors like Dangote should remain committed and not be discouraged by these clearly disruptive actions of hapless, backward and anti-African development leaders. The Dangotes’ of Africa as continental transformational vanguards should remain firmly committed to their chosen paths of legal profit making and simultaneous contribution to Africa’s transformation, economic development, prosperity-generation, psychological liberation, and the restoration of Africans dignity and equality with others in the world. These are worthwhile and enduring ideals and challenges that transformational revolutionaries and societal game-changers are bound to encounter and overcome so as to create new worlds.

*Ehiedu Iweriebor is a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA.

0
Read More
Amokachi backs Africa’s Chinese temptation: ‘We play to make money’
March 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

Former Nigeria star Daniel Amokachi has backed the host of Africans lured by the riches of the Chinese Super League.

Several Africans moved to China prior to its transfer window closing this week, including Super Eagles John Mikel Obi, Odion Ighalo and Brown Ideye.

“We play football because we want to make a living,” said Amokachi.

 “We don’t have that platform whereby everything has already been set for us from the day we were born – like Europeans. We don’t live on welfare.”

A former assistant coach of Nigeria who now manages JS Hercules in Finland, the onetime Everton forward said this lack of financial support explained the wave of Africans and South Americans moving to China.

While some have questioned the ambition of footballers who have quit the top leagues of Europe for the vast wealth of China, Amokachi begs to differ.

He points to Mikel who has yet to turn 30 but who won the European Champions League, two Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the Europa League during his decade-long spell with Chelsea.

The midfielder joined Tianjin Teda in January after failing to feature for the Blues this season.

“Mikel played for a top team in Europe and won practically everything that he needs to win as a footballer,” Amokachi told BBC Sport.

“What’s left for him is to make a lot of zeros to secure his future and that of his kids and family back home.”

Like Mikel, the 28-year-old Ideye has signed for Tianjin Teda who finished 11th in last season’s Super League.

Ighalo, meanwhile, was sold for £20m by Premier League side Watford to Changchun Yatai.

Amokachi’s former international team-mate Sunday Oliseh fully agrees that the players are entitled to chase riches above glory.

“If a man leaves his country and goes abroad, firstly he wants to work – because football is his job,” the former Nigeria coach told BBC Sport.

“Secondly, he goes to the country where he gets better remuneration for the services he is giving – so it’s going to be good and the way the Chinese are really putting attention on football now, it can only be good.”

Daniel Amokachi played at two World Cups with Nigeria while also winning both the Olympics and the Africa Cup of Nations

Daniel Amokachi played at two World Cups with Nigeria while also winning both the Olympics and the Africa Cup of Nations

Amokachi, who went by the nickname ‘The Bull’, said selectors should not be put off choosing Nigerians in China for the national team.

“Don’t forget that the Chinese are very physical when it comes to training,” he explained.

“I think the players will be fit but match fitness is a different ball game. That’s why it’s important for a manager to look at players who have that 90 minutes week in week out.”

This week, Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr left Mikel, Ighalo and Brown out of the squad for this month’s friendlies against Senegal and Burkina Faso.

This was to allow the trio time to settle in China, while also giving an opportunity to younger players to have their chance.

Other Africans to have moved to China in recent times include Senegal’s Demba Ba, Ivorian Gervinho and Cameroon’s Stephane Mbia.

*BBC

0
Read More
African Leadership Prize Withheld – Again
March 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

FILE - Mo Ibrahim a speaks to reporters during the announcement of the 2008 recipient of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in London, Oct. 20, 2008. The winner was Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana.

FILE – Mo Ibrahim a speaks to reporters during the announcement of the 2008 recipient of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in London, Oct. 20, 2008. The winner was Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana.

Sudanese telecom magnate Mo Ibrahim failed to award a $5 million African political leadership prize on Tuesday, the second year in a row that the prize has been withheld because of a lack of suitable candidates.

Since its launch in 2006, the Ibrahim Prize has been awarded only four times — to Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano, Botswana’s Festus Mogae, Cape Verde’s Pedro De Verona Rodrigues Pires and Namibia’s Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2014.

Candidates have to be democratically elected African heads of state or government who have left office in the previous three years at the end of their constitutional terms.

Although such figures are becoming less rare on a continent infamous for its coups and aging leaders, a peaceful departure after years of plunder does not guarantee the prize, as the hopeful’s record while in office is also considered.

“The prize is intended to highlight and celebrate truly exceptional leadership, which is uncommon by its very definition,” prize committee chairman Salim Ahmed Salim said in a statement accompanying the 2016 non-award.

The prize is meant to set the winner up for life, with $5 million paid out over 10 years followed by a $200,000-a-year pension. However, it does not appear to be gaining much traction with Africa’s ruling elite.

Congo Republic’s Denis Sassou Nguesso and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame have recently pushed through changes to their respective constitutions to extend their stays in power, while Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila has gone nowhere since his mandate expired in December.

One surprise late entry could have been eccentric Gambian autocrat Yahyah Jammeh, who stunned his 1.8 million countrymen — and most of the rest of Africa — when he accepted defeat in a December election after 22 years in charge.

However, he then changed his mind and only left power a month later after an invasion by thousands of Senegalese, Ghanaian and Nigerian troops.

*VOA

0
Read More
International election observation is decades out of date. I should know.
February 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

By *

I helped design the first African election observation mission in 1980. The world’s transformed since then, but they’re still using the same old model.

How can election observation be changed to reflect the challenges faced today? Credit: Commonwealth Secretariat.

How can election observation be changed to reflect the challenges faced today? Credit: Commonwealth Secretariat.

In 1979, I was a member of the Commonwealth Secretariat, an organisation that played a major role in the negotiations that led to Zimbabwe’s independence. One of the preconditions for majority rule agreed in the Lancaster House talks was that elections would be held and that they would be independently observed.

In January 1980, the month before these elections, the Commonwealth Secretariat sent a small party to what was then still Southern Rhodesia to establish a headquarters and work out whether and how this observation could be conducted.

We had no detailed instructions. Electoral observation had not been attempted before, certainly not on this scale. So two of us – Peter Snelson and I – conducted a rapid reconnaissance of the country in a single week. Our report formed the only field input for the plan then devised by Moni Malhoutra.

Both in this first week and in those that followed, we had no advanced idea of what we were doing. But our improvisation in hazardous conditions assumed a pattern and, ultimately, partly through luck, we were able to do an imperfect but respectable job given the circumstances and conditions.

Since then, I have witnessed several more African elections and seen how independent observers’ processes have become bureaucratically more robust (or fussy). However, it amazes me that despite all that’s changed in terms of how elections are conducted and fought, and how technologies have progressed, today’s observers are still essentially using the same semi-improvised, low-tech methods and models we devised in a hurry 37 years ago.

Changing observation

Of course, some things have changed since 1980, though not always with positive results.

One of the earliest decisions of the Commonwealth team in Zimbabwe was that observation had to be decentralised. Officials were rotated around different zones on a weekly basis, while a small secretariat remained in place in each area to prepare for the polls and liaise with the various political parties and security forces.

By and large, modern electoral observation still seeks to spread officials across the country being observed. But today, it does so without the rotation of observers, without the aim of being present for more than a month before Election Day, and without on-site secretariats. Moreover, it tends to avoid war zones or volatile areas.

In the 2010 South Sudan elections, for instance, UN peacekeeping bases were meant to provide accommodation for observers, but the Chinese and Kenyan camps did not comply. Although the Ukrainian and Canadian ones did, many regions were under curfew, so officials were discouraged from travelling to certain areas for fear of being stranded. It was often these regions that were most in need of scrutiny.

Another aspect of observation that has developed – and arguably progressed – since 1980 has been the use of bureaucratic check lists. These are indicators of good performance that can be easily tabulated to give ‘scores’ for different aspects of electoral conduct.

For example, there are now generally tick boxes for whether party agents are the right distance from the polling desks; whether special assistance was available for the disabled and elderly; whether all documents, ballots and ballot boxes were in place; whether voters’ rolls were accessible, and so on. The 1980 Zimbabwe observation sought to check similar indicators of good polling practice but without formal checklists.

However, one result of these two shifts – the rise of the tick-box, combined with a diluted version of decentralised observation – is that scrutiny of elections has become heavily focused around the day of voting itself.

Observers are dispersed to their stations just a few days prior to the vote, and governments and electoral commissions concentrate their energies on mounting an Election Day that conforms to international norms, precisely for the benefit of international officials.

This means that the preceding weeks of campaigning around the country get much less scrutiny. Yet it is in this period that systemic violence, widespread bribery and unjust infringements on freedoms of movement and expression can ensure that an election is far from “free and fair”, even if voting day itself is exemplary.

Changing elections

Despite some changes in practices though, the basic principles and models of election observation have changed relatively little in 37 years. However, in that same period, the nature of elections and of attempts to manipulate their results have changed quite dramatically. The age of dictators stuffing ballots and winning with an implausible 90% vote share is over. Today, when elections are stolen, much of the work is done after votes are cast and in sophisticated ways that deliberately mirror real voting patterns.

This new trend could be seen as early as a decade ago in Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections. At the time, the ruling ZANU-PF had never been less popular as the economy was tanking and hyper-inflation was running wild. Despite these problems, however, the party seemed so confident of victory that its campaign was half-hearted and shoddily executed.

It was caught unprepared then the day after the 29 March polls closed, when initial results from polling stations showed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai leading President Robert Mugabe by a factor of around 2 to 1.

Soon, the announcements slowed, then ceased altogether. The electoral commission called for patience and cited technical issues and the need for recounts.

What happened next is subject to many rumours and may never be known conclusively, but it was not until several weeks later that the official results were finally declared on 2 May. Despite the opposition’s projections and several earlier predictions of a first-round victory for Tsvangirai – some by a large margin – the electoral commissions declared him to have received just 47.9%. Short of a majority, a second round run-off would be required.

This was clearly no ordinary rigging. The time it took shows that painstaking efforts were taken to maintain a degree of credibility. The results had to be adjusted according to figures that had already been independently verified and they had to be manipulated to plausibly mirror the outcome of the parliamentary elections as well as previous voting patterns. A month to do all this was actually probably very good going.

This was one of the earlier examples of such sophisticated manipulation, but since then, it has become far more common for election results to be adjusted centrally in a subtle and somewhat believable manner, all beyond the gaze, remit and capacity of today’s observation missions.

Towards a new model

So how can election observation be made to match old and newer challenges in order to provide a genuine check on the conduct of elections?

Firstly, observation needs to be conceived of as a broader affair. It cannot be condensed into a short period of time, nor should it be seen as the exclusive activity of the accredited observer group. Civil society and other observer groups should be part of the process too.

An advance team of experts – or those briefed on the constitutional, electoral, and political affairs of the country – should be in place as a reconnaissance unit at least a month before polling day. And that team must be energetic and mobile, traversing the country. Observation is no country for old men, nor old women, the unfit, timorous or easily frightened.

In the 2010 Sudan elections, we took a simple executive decision: if we saw a European Union, African Union, or Carter Centre car, we weren’t out far enough. We kept going until there were no other observers for miles around, but then asked ‘why?’

Furthermore, officials need to know what they are looking for. For instance, subtle intimidation by means of cultural signs or local language may not be picked up by foreign observers, especially those veterans of the system who may be motivated more by the per diems than ensuring a fair ballot.

A youthful party militant rattling a box of matches – a silent promise that people’s property will be burnt if they vote against the government – can go unacknowledged. A euphemistic threat in a local language can slip under the radar. And the strategy behind targeted but seemingly low incidences of violence can easily fail to be fully appreciated.

Secondly, observation needs to adapt to current challenges. Insofar as African governments now prepare almost immaculate polling days – feats of organisation involving thousands of stations – election observation has accomplished something. But it needs a more extended and sophisticated presence during and after campaigning, including regarding the counting of votes and the testing of the count.

As Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections demonstrate, it is crucial to have officials present at all stages of the count as well as its verification. The process of counting needs to be carefully observed, but so does the moment that the electoral commission, party agents and accredited observers agree that the count reflects the parallel vote tabulation (PVT) – a methodology for independently verifying the results conducted concurrently – and when this agreement is transmitted.

Additionally, the official results should be tested against these PVTs as well as opinion polls and patterns from previous elections. The count at each stage must be tested against computer projections, calibrated according to results already submitted as well as a range of different conditions such as constituency type, electoral histories and voting patterns. This would give a measure of the plausibility and trustworthiness of the numbers being checked and announced.

This kind of number crunching is already done in many cases, not just by foreign “consultants” allegedly brought in by incumbents, but also by other interested parties and foreign embassies, though not for public release. It is time observer groups were given the same resources and capacity.

Having witnessed, or been involved in, election observation since 1980, seeing the state and effectiveness of observer missions in Africa today is highly dispiriting. Citizens depend on elections being free and fair to ensure their voices are heard, and observation therefore needs to be reflect the contemporary realities and challenges, not simply replicate a model cobbled together three decades ago.

The protection of electoral democracy today and tomorrow requires tools that cannot simply be borrowed from yesterday.

This is an abridged version of an article originally published here at Democracy in Africa.

*African Arguments.Stephen Chan is Professor of International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.

0
Read More
How Trump’s African Team May Shape Up
February 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

On The Heels Of Phone Call to Leaders Trump Administration Working on African Team

By Ajong Mbapndah L

President Trump has spoken to Nigeria's Buhari and South Africa's Zuma

President Trump has spoken to Nigeria’s Buhari and South Africa’s Zuma

With  little mention of Africa in the course of his campaign, many are still scratching heads on what the African Policy of the Trump Administration will look like. A month into office,clues are few, but sources close to the Administration say  slow but steady progress is been made to put in place its African team.

Administration sources familiar with the buildup of the African team say President elect Trump accepted a congratulatory call from Rwandan President Paul Kagame back in December. Reports about a meeting between Trump and Congo’s Sassou Nguesso in December were discredited when a trip to the USA by the Congolese leader ended without any encounter with President elect Trump.

On February 13, Trump had phone conversations with Nigerian President Buhari and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Though Nigeria and South Africa boast the largest economies in the continent, sources were unclear about the choice of just these two leaders, considering that the US maintains close security ties with other countries like Kenya and Uganda.

Discussions with Zuma were centered on prospects of maintaining and broadening the strongly diplomatic ties between the two countries according to South African government Officials. With about six hundred USA companies operating in South Africa, economic ties obviously came up in the discussion sources from Zuma’s office said.

Although ailing President Buhari was not in Nigeria at the time of the call, a Presidential Spokesperson said, ““President Trump assured the Nigerian president of U.S. willingness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism.”

Prior to the forced resignation of General Michael Flynn as the National Security Adviser,  African policy watchers were perplexed with reports that  the CIA denied a security clearance for Robin Townley, appointed to serve as Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. With the appointment of a new National Security Adviser, it is not yet clear what role will be reserved for Townley one of the officials in Trump world with on the ground experience in Africa where he served in Somalia.

Sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Rex Tillerson is still to put in his own team. Given the length of the vetting process, it is unlikely that most of the positions will be fully staffed before June 2017, said the source close to the Trump Administration.

Appointed by President Obama to serve as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, sources say Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield was as asked to stay on the job until a successor is found. Highly respected within African policy circles, Ambassador Greenfield was actually mandated by the Trump Administration to represent the USA at the official inauguration of Gambian President Adama Barrow on February 18.  The race is on for the replacement of Greenfield who is expected to leave office by March 10 for Georgetown University, where she will serve as a visiting Fellow.

Informed sources cite Dr. J. Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council, Colonel Charles Snyder, former special envoy for Sudan; and Dr. Kate Almquist Knopf of the National Defense University as leading contenders to replace Ambassador Greenfield as the leading US government Official on Africa.

Snyder, who currently teaches at the Institute for World Politics in Washington, is also a possible candidate to replace Amanda Dory as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs.  The post may also be given to Michael Phelan, currently a top legislative aide to Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

As for Almquist Knopf, sources cite her closeness to former Obama Officials like Susan Rice and Samantha Power (National Security Adviser and UN Ambassador respectively) may play to her disfavor.

Atlantic Council, Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham with Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield

Atlantic Council, Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham with Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield

A familiar face on Africa affairs in Washington, DC, Peter Pham has used the platform of the Atlantic Council to host debates and discussions with visiting African dignitaries and personalities.

Others in the mix include former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, Cindy Courville, former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union and former National Security Council and Defense Intelligence Agency official. The merits of the candidates are been considered to facilitate prospects of confirmation said the source who cited open opposition to Trump for some, and Lobbying activities of others as of the tiny details that may come into play.

Those individuals who are being seriously considered for the Assistant Secretary of State position are also in the running for alternative posts, such as on the personal staff of the Secretary of State, in the Policy Planning Bureau, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs (“DAS”), or as special envoys to Sudan/South Sudan or to the Great Lakes Region,the sources say.

At the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the likely nominee for Administrator is former Congressman Mark Green (R-Wisconsin), who recently has been president of the International Republican Institute (IRI) and also served as U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania.

Two candidates have emerged to fill USAID’s position of Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa:  Gregory Simpkins, a longtime staff director for Chairman Christopher Smith of the Africa subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Lester Munson, former staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who previously held several positions at USAID.  Jeffrey Krilla, a former Bush administration State Department official, is likely to replace Amos Hockstein as the Special Envoy in the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, a position that addresses U.S. relationships with oil-producing countries, including those in Africa.

Krilla may also be appointed to a position in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, or USTR, which may also be where business executive and Africa trade expert Anthony Carroll lands.  (Carroll is also been linked for an Ambassadorial post, perhaps South Africa.)

There is also a possibility that former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner, who served in the first term of President George W. Bush, may be brought into the State Department for a high-level position by Secretary Tillerson.

Kansteiner has been in charge of ExxonMobil’s Africa operations and is said to be very close to Tillerson, ExxonMobil’s former chairman and CEO.  Tillerson may tap Kansteiner for something higher than the assistant secretary level, such as Undersecretary or deputy secretary, or as a special envoy

On Capitol Hill, the leadership on the committees that deal with Africa will remain the same: Senator Jeff Flake continues as chairman of the Africa and Global Health Policy subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Congressman Chris Smith will again be chairman of the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The new Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are Dina Titus (D-Nevada), Norma Torres (D-California), Brad Schneider (D-Illinois), Thomas Suozzi (D-New York), Adriano Espaillat (D-New York), Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), Ann Wagner (R-Missouri), Brian Mast (R-Florida), Francis Rooney (R-Florida), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania), and Tom Garrett (R-Virginia).

Freshman Garrett and veteran Sensenbrenner have been assigned to the Africa subcommittee, along with Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Thomas Suozzi (D-New York).  Representatives Ami Bera (D-California) and Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) return to the subcommittee from the 114th Congress.  Representative Ed Royce (R-California) remains chairman of the full committee while Representative Ted Yoho (R-Florida) becomes the committee’s vice chairman.  Representative Karen Bass (D-California) remains ranking member of the House Africa subcommittee.

The new Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are Todd Young (R-Indiana), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon).  Booker becomes the new ranking minority member of the subcommittee on Africa and Global Health and Young and Merkley are newly assigned to the subcommittee, as well.

Ties between the US and Africa have witnessed strong growth under the last two Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama and many are anxious to see in what direction things will go under the Trump Administration.

 

0
Read More
African Immigrant Population on Rise in US
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Salem Solomon*

A candidate for citizenship holds the American flag against his chest during the playing of the national anthem at the start of a naturalization ceremony for 755 new United States citizens at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team in Atlanta, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. The ceremony, in honor of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, was the largest in Georgia this year and the 755 citizens sworn in marks the number of home runs hit by former Braves player Hank Aaron. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A candidate for citizenship holds the American flag against his chest during the playing of the national anthem at the start of a naturalization ceremony for 755 new United States citizens at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team in Atlanta, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. The ceremony, in honor of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, was the largest in Georgia this year and the 755 citizens sworn in marks the number of home runs hit by former Braves player Hank Aaron. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The United States is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for African immigrants, with their numbers more than doubling since 2000. Although many are coming from war-torn countries, the immigrants also include large numbers of highly educated professionals.

According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, as of 2015, there were nearly 2.1 million people living in the U.S. who were born in Africa. That number is up from 880,000 in 2000 and only 80,000 in 1970.

Monica Anderson, a research associate and the author of the study, said the numbers are doubling approximately every decade and she sees that trend continuing.

“In 1980 only 1 percent of refugees admitted to the U.S. were from an African country and today that share is about 37 percent. That is one major factor that is driving the growth of African immigrants but it doesn’t tell the entire story,” she told VOA in an interview.

Anderson says various clusters of vibrant immigrant populations are reshaping places like Minnesota, which is home to 25,000 people of Somali origin, about one-fifth of the foreign-born population in the state.

Nigerians make up the largest African diaspora population in the U.S. at 327,000, followed by Ethiopians at 222,000 and Egyptians at 192,000, Pew found. The top destinations for African immigrants to the U.S. are Texas, New York, California and Maryland.

“Many of these places in the U.S. are …having a larger share of African immigrants than they had before,” Anderson said. “In different clusters in the U.S., African immigrants are really reshaping the immigrant population there.”

Still small portion of immigrant population

Despite the increases, African immigrants still make up a relatively low percentage of the total immigrant population. Randy Capps, director of research for U.S. programs at the Migration Policy Institute, said there are both historical and geographic reasons for that.

“It’s a long distance from Africa and the number of people in Africa with sufficient incomes to migrate that far has been relatively small,” he said. “And secondly we didn’t really open up channels for legal African migration to the U.S. substantially until the 1965 Immigration Act and so, like Asian immigrants, there just weren’t very many African immigrants here until starting at that time.”

The Immigration and Nationality Act signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, ensured that quota systems based on national identity were eliminated and allowed the acceptance of immigrants of all nationalities equally. Immigrant families were able to reunite due to this act, also known as the Hart-Celler Act, and skilled immigrants were encouraged to migrate easily.

Today’s African immigrants include tens of thousands of refugees from Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Eritrea. But it also includes highly-educated doctors, engineers and others immigrating to the country in search of a better life.

Capps said that, as of 2013, 38 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 28 percent of all U.S. immigrants and 30 percent of the U.S.-born population.

Will Trump Stop the Flow?

It remains to be seen how changes in U.S. immigration policy could affect the flow of immigrants from Africa. An executive order signed by President Donald Trump halted immigration from three African countries and paused the U.S. refugee resettlement program.

That executive order was halted by a federal court, but the Trump administration has promised a revision.

Another proposal by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., would reduce the number of green cards issued by the U.S. from 1 million to 500,000.

“I see it as more of an open question as to whether fewer students will come, fewer visitors will come, or whether it will be harder for people to sponsor their relatives. I think it’s just too soon into the Trump administration to know if that’s going to be the case,” said Capps.

But barring a major change, African immigration is likely to continue to rise since the U.S. continues to have a strong economy offering opportunities to immigrants.

“The U.S. has a pretty open job market, a strong job market now,” says Capps. “It’s a large job market relative to a lot of other countries that African immigrants might go to and a lot of the African immigrants here are doing quite well. So I think without something more drastic, a bigger change in U.S. immigration policy, there are still going to be very strong pull factors to come to the United States.”

*VOA

0
Read More
Caf say Hayatou has support of President Zuma despite Cosafa stance
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Caf President Issa Hayatou with the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma

Caf President Issa Hayatou with the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) announced that South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, had pledged his full support toCaf president Issa Hayatou ahead of African football’s upcoming elections.

It followed a meeting on Saturday morning when President Zuma received Hayatou at his residence in Pretoria.

The meeting came just six days after the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) announced it was endorsing Hayatou’s rival Ahmad Ahmad as a Caf presidential candidate.

South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, South African Football Association (Safa) President Danny Jordaan and Mamelodi Sundowns President Patrice Motsepe were also present at Saturday’s meeting with President Zuma.

South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, winners of the African Champions League, were scheduled to host the continent’s Confederation Cup winners, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, later on Saturday.

Issa Hayatou, who has presided over African football since 1988, will be seeking an eighth term in office when he stands in the elections in March to be held in Ethiopia.

The Cameroonian was re-elected unopposed during the last Caf presidential elections in 2013.

He had previously stated this term would be his last until a change of regulations altered his stance.

In 2015, Caf voted to change the statutes which previously stopped officials serving past the age of 70.

*BBC

0
Read More
Fake news: How can African media deal with the problem?
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
This fake news story was published in a satirical column called Crazy Monday

This fake news story was published in a satirical column called Crazy Monday

At a time when fact-based reporting is increasingly being undermined by fake news, the BBC’s Dickens Olewe looks at the lessons for the media in Africa.

“ALERT: Don’t fall victim to fake news!”

This is the message that pops up when you visit South Africa’s Eyewitness News (EWN) website.

The warning advises readers to be more vigilant about the news they consume.

The message goes on to say that the publication is committed to providing news that is accurate, fair and balanced.

It then links to another page that gives tips on how to spot fake news, with a list of websites it has identified as purveyors of fake news in South Africa.

The publication also invites readers to send in fake stories they come across and those which they are unsure about.

EWN’s attempt to fight the spread of false news content is probably a first on the continent.

ScrengrabImage copyrightEWN
Image captionEWN’s fake news advisory is a first on the continent

Katy Katopodis, EWN editor-in-chief, told the BBC that the publication felt it had a duty to protect the integrity of journalism by educating its audience.

“We have to be proactive to acknowledge the dangers of fake news and to offer our readers advice on how to spot a fake news story,” she says.

“At Eyewitness News we believe we need to counter the lies and the fake news with the truth and a reality check.

“We all have a responsibility to disseminate news that is factual and correct.”

EWN’s fake news guide was implemented last month amid allegations that the governing African National Congress (ANC) had planned to run a campaign to create and disseminate false information to discredit opponents ahead of last year’s local election in which it lost many seats.

ScreengrabImage copyrightMBUYISENI NDLOZI
Image captionThe ANC’s “War Room” was alleged to have printed posters maligning the EFF’s leader Julius Malema

AmaBhungane, an investigative journalism team, reported that a covert operation dubbed the War Room, was intended to “disempower Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters parties” by using digital media and social media influencers.

The ANC has denied the allegations, with one official accused of being involved in the planning of the operation describing it as “fake news”.

The term fake news, which has been used a lot since last year’s US presidential elections, was meant to call attention to falsified news content that was widely shared on the internet, mostly on social media.

Trump ‘endorsed by the Pope’

An analysis by BuzzFeed released after the US elections found that top fake election news stories generated more total engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news outlets combined.

The top five stories under this study were positive spins to prop up the candidacy of Donald Trump, including one claiming that he was endorsed by the Pope.

“Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement,” the article’s headline read.

The other stories promoted conspiracy theories about his then challenger Hillary Clinton which some analysts say helped undermine her campaign.

The creation and distribution of misinformation is not new, the difference at the moment is that spreading false information has been incentivised.

Digital publishing platforms like Facebook and Google have built ecosystems that reward clicks on website links and one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to a website is to entice readers with sensational content.

The Macedonian teenagers became infamous after it was revealed they were behind several fake stories shared during the US election, mostly in support of Mr Trump, earned thousands of dollars by getting thousands of clicks on articles they shared on Facebook.

In Africa, several articles have managed to fool many and garnered a lot of clicks for their promoters. Here are a sample of some of the headlines:

  • Eritrean men ordered to marry two wives or risk jail
  • UK Announces Visa Free Entry For Nigeria And Other Commonwealth African Countries
  • Trump says “Africans are lazy fools only good at eating, lovemaking and thuggery”
  • Robert Mugabe says Zimbabweans are “honest people” but “stealing is in every Kenyan’s blood”.

The allure of getting clicks has seen some publishers take advantage of the interest fake stories generate.

Recently, Kenya’s sports website Game Yetu, owned by a mainstream publisher The Standard, lifted a story from Mzansi Live, a fake news website in South Africa with an unlikely claim – that Zimbabwe had sent its female footballers to Brazil to be impregnated by soccer legends there:

Game Yetu story about Zimbabwe sending female footballers to BrazilImage copyrightGAME YETU
Image captionThis story was lifted from a fake news website in South Africa

Game Yetu tried to keep editorial distance from the article by placing it under the rumours and gossip section of its website.

Ms Katopodis says she is concerned about mainstream publishers pursuing clickbait.

The South African paper editor says that it behoves credible newsrooms and journalists to fact-check stories and promote media literacy.

“I am inspired by how the banking sector has been educating its customers to deal with online scams – we should do the same.”

While there is nothing wrong with curating content to lure readers to read stories on your website, overselling and packaging of news items using misleading headlines does a lot to undermine publishers’ credibility.

With traditional revenue sources drying up and with viral content bringing in the money, for-profit media organisations are caught in a conundrum.

Porn warning

Huffington Post’s South Africa edition exemplified this.

It recently published a handy guide for spotting faking news which included this important advice: “Reputable media houses will have credible adverts on their pages. Fake news sites often have pornographic adverts. That should raise red flags.”

However, below the article it had a widget containing a series of fake news stories, including one of US President Donald Trump calling South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma “the best ever”.

*BBC

0
Read More
Research Calls for New Approach to Youth Employment Training Strategies in Africa
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

Youth Livelihood Diaries Shed New Light on Working Lives of African Youth

 

Sarah Bafumba,(right) ,a Youth Researcher in discussion with Hamidah Nyahzi (left), a respondent in Uganda during the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,The MasterCard Foundation

Sarah Bafumba,(right) ,a Youth Researcher in discussion with Hamidah Nyahzi (left), a respondent in Uganda during the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,The MasterCard Foundation

Kigali, Rwanda, February 17, 2017 Innovative research released today by The MasterCard Foundation is making the case for a new approach to youth employment training strategies in Africa. Invisible Lives: Understanding Youth Livelihoods in Ghana and Uganda, released today at the Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, sheds light on the working lives of African youth. The report, produced in collaboration with Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT), argues that international development programs favour skills training for formal sector careers over training that can be applied to multiple jobs in the informal sector. The result is that their efforts fall short of reaching the millions of unreached youth on the continent who engage in mixed livelihoods.

“To reach a critical mass of young people, fundamental shifts in our approach to skills-building, access to finance and entrepreneurship support are necessary,” says Lindsay Wallace, Director of Learning and Strategy, The MasterCard Foundation. “Development efforts must strengthen social, education and economic systems, and promote inclusive growth that will provide the most vulnerable and marginalized young people with opportunities to improve their lives.”

Invisible Lives set out to explore how young people integrate mixed livelihoods into their working lives, what challenges this approach poses, and how best to design interventions for young people in the informal sector. The research used a diaries methodology to document the working lives of 246 youth ages 18-24 from Ghana and Uganda over a one-year period, honing in on questions around behaviour, income, economic activities, and time management. While these data speak to the realities of employment in Ghana and Uganda, the research suggests that these also reflect emerging trends across Africa.

 

Invisible Lives highlights the extraordinary lengths that young people go to in order to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Findings of the Invisible Lives research indicate that:

 

  • Young people in Africa diversify their livelihoods, undertaking a mix of informal sector employment, self-employment, and agriculture-related activities to sustain their livelihood.
  • Agricultural production is central to young people’s livelihoods, but agricultural incomes were meagre. Many young people run small enterprises that can be easily started, stopped, and restarted as needed. The most successful young people in both Ghana and Uganda diversified their income and risk by growing multiple crops, raising a variety of livestock, and pursuing a wide range of additional activities.
  • Both formal and informal wage employment is rare and sporadic, or elusive. While the informal sector, which constitutes about 80 percent of Africa’s labour force, provided more wage employment opportunities for young people, they were by no means abundant.
  • Support networks are critical for young people and they play an extensive role in their lives, not only providing support in the form of advice regarding where to look for and how to find employment, skills development, and business guidance, but also proving instrumental in accessing financial resources needed.
Anne Marie van Swinderen

Anne Marie van Swinderen

“Respondents who participated in this study generously shared experiences from their lives over the course of a full year,” explains Anne Marie van Swinderen, lead researcher on Invisible Lives from Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT). “Data from the study shows us that these young people readily take up all opportunities that come their way, with enormous energy and positive spirit. Through the L-IFT diaries methodology, these young respondents and the young researchers who interviewed them, also grew a great deal, simply through the act of asking and answering questions about their diversified livelihoods.”

In addition to providing new information on the employment and risk-mitigation strategies of young working Africans, the research maintains that youth who participated in this study were largely invisible to both development organizations and their own governments, and did not have any access to support services, training or finance capital.

Nakagubo Manjeri(left) participated in the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,MasterCard Foundation

Nakagubo Manjeri(left) participated in the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training, and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.

The Youth Livelihoods Program seeks to improve the capacity of young men and women to transition to jobs or create businesses through a holistic approach which combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, and appropriate financial services. Through our partnerships, our program is supporting innovative models that help young people transition out of poverty and into stable livelihoods. Since 2010, the Foundation has committed $US402 million to 37 multi-year projects across 19 countries in Africa. More than 1.8 million young people have been reached through the Youth Livelihoods program

 

 

0
Read More
Disadvantaged Young Africans Find A Lifeline In The MasterCard Foundation
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

-$2.1 Billion has been made in total commitments by the Foundation

By Ajong Mbapndah L

 

Kenyan vegetable farmer harvesting spinach with her wheelbarrow.Photo Jennifer Huxta, MasterCard Foundation

Kenyan vegetable farmer harvesting spinach with her wheelbarrow.Photo Jennifer Huxta, MasterCard Foundation

With its financial inclusion, education and learning, and youth Livelihood programs, the MasterCard Foundation is emerging as a leading partner in pushing through a development agenda that favors disadvantaged youth across Africa.

About ten million young people have been engaged by the Foundation through its work in diverse sectors across Africa, said Ann Miles Director of Financial Inclusions at the MasterCard Foundation. Speaking from Canada in a skype interview to discuss the second annual Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali Rwanda, Ann Miles said the Foundation was shifting discussion from how to engage youth in agriculture to how young people can be the drivers of agricultural transformation.

Taking place on February 16 and 17, the second annual Young Africa Works Summit will be a gathering of some 300 thought leaders from the NGO’s, government, funders and the private sector committed to developing sustainable youth employment strategies in Africa. The MasterCard Foundation has had a significant impact in working with youth especially those who are out of school or seeking transition to jobs, Anne Miles said.

Miles disclosed that Of the $2.1 billion in total commitments, circa $ 1 billion has already been disbursed. At the Summit, there will be 34 nationalities represented (total), of which 20 nationalities are African. The summit will have people from Cameroon to Congo, Kenya to Senegal, Zimbabwean to Malagasy, and from other countries like Bangladesh, Paraguay, India, and Poland

some 10 million young people have benefited from programs of the Foundation said Ann Miles.Photo Jennifer Huxta , The MasterCard Foundation

some 10 million young people have benefited from programs of the Foundation said Ann Miles.Photo Jennifer Huxta , The MasterCard Foundation

Working in about 25 countries, the Foundation has had a strong impact on the livelihood of young people through tertiary education, financial opportunity, and scholarship and entrepreneurship opportunities. Those who have studied through scholarships have returned to their home countries to share valuable knowledge and experiences acquired elsewhere, said Miles.

As one of the countries where the activities of the Foundation have taken strong root, Rwanda was not a hard choice to make to host the second annual summit. Agriculture is a very important topic, Miles said, and went on to explain that the Summit will focus on the inter-related themes of agricultural transformation, gender technology and climate smart agriculture.

On how the Foundation keeps track or stays engaged with beneficiaries of its programs, Miles said  evaluations and surveys are usually done ahead of each summit. The Foundation remains committed to its work in Africa in the hope that it will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of young people and the overall development of the continent ,Miles said.

 

0
Read More
‘Make America Great Again’ in Africa
February 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

BY ROSA WHITAKER*

If President Donald Trump is to “Make America Great Again” he cannot afford to ignore Africa. It is in this region of over one billion people — the world’s second-fastest growing continent — that the rise of China and the relative decline in U.S. power is more stark than in any other. China surpassed the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009. Since then Britain and France have also passed America by.

Yet as recently as 2008 America’s capacity to inspire and influence this region, both economically and diplomatically, seemed indisputable, with President Obama, a “son of the soil,” offering hope to millions of Africans.  Africa’s adoration, however, was not matched by a corresponding record of accomplishment on the continent. Obama’s Africa achievements do not compare to the unprecedented success of President Bill Clinton’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which created millions of jobs in both the region and the U.S. – or President George W. Bush’s investment of billions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Obama’s signature policy – “Power Africa” – aimed at creating more than 30,000 megawatts of electricity for an under-powered continent, today generates just over 4,000MW. To the chagrin of many African leaders and citizens alike, America is now increasingly seen as a paternalistic lecturer promoting her own progressive norms and cultural mores in the continent than a reliable partner.

So how might President Trump “Make America First Again” in Africa?

It starts with the recognition that the recent decline in U.S. influence was not inevitable and is only reversible by prioritizing economic engagement over social policies and aid. To put “America First” in Africa Trump must throw down the gauntlet and super-charge trade by expanding AGOA and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation with incentives for U.S. companies to invest across the continent; such incentives could be limited to sectors that do not undermine American jobs.  Trump’s “America First” Policy in Africa should also include a reinvigorated U.S. Export-Import Bank–to enable the growth of U.S. exports to compete in what McKinsey projects to be a $5.6 trillion African household and business spending market by 2025.

All of Africa’s most pressing capital needs – power, infrastructure, transportation, telecommunications, water and sanitation – are those in which American companies excel. These sectors, backed through “America First” funding support, would provide immediate opportunities for the U.S. to become more competitive in Africa’s emerging and robust markets.

Going further, President Trump might make it a requirement that projects in Africa financed by the U.S. taxpayer – for example through the Millennium Challenge Account – are undertaken only by U.S. contractors using U.S. equipment– this is currently not the case.

Secondly, Trump might administer a sea-change in how America assesses and manages international aid programs, by reforming the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Too much American aid money is directed towards a vast aid-industrial complex, driven by former USAID employees- turned-contractors in Washington, rather than deployed on the ground in Africa where it is needed most.

Development schemes should primarily focus on humanitarian interventions and enterprise solutions to address poverty. A focus on the latter would incentivize American companies to bring jobs, capital, skills and new technologies to the continent while benefiting the U.S. and African economies at the same time. To re-calibrate the former, as well as combat the USAID job-creation machine for Washington beltway insiders, Trump may even consider bolstering the role of faith-based organizations – his key political constituency – in the delivery of disaster and humanitarian aid.

Thirdly, President Trump’s Africa Policy should recognize Africa’s parallel: the poorest and at the same time among the world’s fastest growing regions.  America therefore, have reasons both economic and of principle for strong U.S. engagement.

Finally, through enriched relationships with African countries, President Trump might harness continent-wide support for U.S. goals on the international stage. Increasingly the 54 countries of Africa are wielding influence together: they are proportionately the largest bloc of votes at many multilateral institutions – providing decisive swing votes in international forums from the United Nations to the World Trade Organization.

A substantive U.S.-Africa partnership would inevitably lead to another crucial benefit: the strengthening of America’s security intelligence and cooperation needed to counter the growing threat from radicalized terrorists groups across the continent. Even an America that is Great Again needs friends and allies: and there are many to win – decisively – in Africa.

*The Hill.Whitaker served as Assistant United State Trade Representative for Africa under the administrations of President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush. She is currently the CEO and president of the Whitaker Group, a consultancy aiming at helping their clients to implement their businesses in Africa.

0
Read More
Corruption Weary Africans Taking Anger To The Polls-TI 2016 CPI Index
February 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

John Mahama or Ghana (in suit) and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia both lost elections in 2016

John Mahama or Ghana (in suit) and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia both lost elections in 2016

If affable candidates like former President John Mahama of Ghana lost elections last year, it may in part have been due to corruption.The finding is contained in the recently published 2016 corruption perception index of Transparency International.

“In countries like Ghana, which is the second worst decliner in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index in the region, the dissatisfaction of citizens with the government’s corruption record was reflected in their voting at the polls,” Transparency International said in a statement that accompanied the release.

Africa did not fare so well said Samuel Kaninda Regional Advisor for Africa at Transparency International. In a skype interview, Kaninda who was on mission in Accra, said  the recently released perception index found a co-relation between democracy and good governance. Countries with a history of free elections and a stable democracy faired comparatively better as compared those where democracy and the rule of law are still struggling to take root.

On the countries that did well, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe emerged as the most improved in Africa. Both countries held elections, which got rave reviews from observers. For his efforts and management style, Jorge Carlos Fonseca was rewarded with another term of office. In Sao Tome and Principe, there was a smooth transition of power, a feat that still eludes many countries in the continent.

For the democratic advances it has made, corruption in Ghana was described as rampant. Corroborating statements in the TI Release, Samuel Kaninda believed that the outcome of the recent election mirrored the anger and disappointment of Ghanaians who voted out a sitting President.

Despite high profile arrests and pompous amounts recouped from corrupt politicians, Nigeria failed to see any significant improvement in the index. The doctrine of change that brought the Buhari APC led government to power has so far been a mirage. Nigerians are increasingly voicing out their frustrations and should things not change before the 2019 elections, the APC may be in for a rude awakening.

 

Africa should seek the partnership of the international community to fight illicit flows of capital from the continent says Samuel Kaninda

Africa should seek the partnership of the international community to fight illicit flows of capital from the continent says Samuel Kaninda

The situation was similar in South Africa, trailed by sleazy tales of corruption with fingers pointing directly at President Jacob Zuma himself. Though serving his second and last term of offices, there have been growing calls for Zuma to step down. Down and bruised, Zuma has so far weathered the storm, but his battered image is taking a toll on ruling ANC. That it took heavy military Presidents to quell a mutiny from the opposition before Zuma could make a recent state of the Union Address speaks volumes on the situation Mandela’s own country.

With elections due later this year, if corruption were to be a decisive factor, President Uhuru may have some blushes as little progress has been made during his first term.

On the category of countries that equally fared poorly are the regulars like Somalia, South Sudan, Guinea Bissau, Central Africa, Chad, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Cameroon, DR, Congo and the Republic of Congo.

Fighting corruption should be task for everybody said Samuel Kaninda in response to solutions for the way forward. Besides the framework that countries need to put place, the civil society has to step up its role.

Transparency International is willing to engage with countries in the continent and the wider international community in the quest for lasting solutions, Kaninda said. With growing attention from the international corporate world, Kaninda said corporations coming to Africa need to be clearly identified .Institutions and clear-cut rules need to be put in place to curb incidence of corruption, he said.

Corruption is not an issue of the South or the North, Kaninda said in response to a question on illicit outflows of money from Africa. Without these massive flows, Africa will not be talking about Aid but Trade,  said Kaninda. African governments should engaged in discussions with the rest of the world especially those that provide safe haven for massive loots from Africa so as to curb this trend which saps Africa of resources needed for its own development ,said Kaninda.

 

 

0
Read More
New-look Champions League set to begin
February 11, 2017 | 0 Comments
Mamelodi Sundowns won the Champions League in 2016

Mamelodi Sundowns won the Champions League in 2016

Up to 18 players who competed at the Africa Cup of Nations could be involved in the new-look Champions League when it kicks off this weekend.

Among them is Georges Bokwe, one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final last Sunday in Gabon.

Bokwe was kept out of the starting line-up by the consistent brilliance of Spain-based Fabrice Ondoa, who was included in the team of the tournament.

But Bokwe is the first choice for regular Champions League entrants Coton Sport from northern Cameroon cotton town Garoua.

Coton qualified for the 2008 final, losing to Al Ahly of Egypt, but have fared poorly recently with first round exits in the past two seasons.

Drawn against Atlabara of South Sudan in the two-leg preliminary round this year, the Cameroon outfit are favoured to secure a last-32 place.

While Coton have the experience of 15 previous Champions League campaigns behind them, Atlabara suffered a preliminary-round loss in a lone previous challenge.

Coton and Atlabara are among 46 clubs in action this weekend as an exciting new chapter in the Champions League unfolds.

Total prize money has soared from $5.7m (£4.6m) to $10m, a 119.30% increase.

Significant prize fund

The group phase – where the cash kicks in – has been expanded from eight to 16 clubs with participants guaranteed at least $550,000 (£440,000) each.

For clubs dreaming of going all the way and succeeding where Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa did last year, the “carrot” is a $2.5m (£2m) first prize.

Sundowns are among nine clubs given byes on merit into the round of 32, with record eight-time champions Al Ahly another.

Georges Bokwe was one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final of the recent African Nations Cup

Georges Bokwe was one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final of the recent African Nations Cup

Preliminary participants include V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1973 winners of the African Cup of Champions Clubs, forerunner to the Champions League.

The Kinshasa outfit face Royal Leopard of Swaziland and can call on Joyce Lomalisa Mutambala, a defender with unhappy memories of the 2017 Cup of Nations.

He was the only player sent off in the 32-match tournament, having come off the bench in a win over Morocco and been yellow-carded twice within 17 minutes.

Former title-holders in the second-tier Confederation Cup, Stade Malien of Mali, FUS Rabat of Morocco and AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville, play this weekend.

Stade face Barrack Young Controllers II of Liberia, FUS meet Johansen of Sierra Leone and Leopards play UMS Loum of Cameroon.

Others in action include three clubs who won the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup, Enugu Rangers of Nigeria, Horoya of Guinea and Al Merrikh of Sudan.

Enugu tackle JS Saoura of Algeria, Horoya confront Goree of Senegal and Merrikh challenge Sony Ela Nguema of Equatorial Guinea.

*BBC

0
Read More
The AFRICA CEO FORUM puts female leadership in Africa at the heart of the debate
February 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

The AFRICA CEO FORUM and McKinsey & Company are pooling their expertise to launch the African Women in Business initiative at the 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM on 20 and 21 March in Geneva. McKinsey & Company will participate as a knowledge partner.

Four businesswomen at the AFRICA CEO FORUM. From left to right: Tigui Camara, Diane Chenal, Ghislaine Ketcha Tessa, Neila Benzina. Credits: Jacques Torregano

Four businesswomen at the AFRICA CEO FORUM. From left to right: Tigui Camara, Diane Chenal, Ghislaine Ketcha Tessa, Neila Benzina. Credits: Jacques Torregano

PARIS, France, 8 February 2017 – The 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM, the biggest international African private sector gathering, will host over 1,000 African and international personalities and key African industrial, financial and political decision-makers, including around 200 female business leaders from 43 African countries.

An essential platform for dialogue and networking, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is devoting this year’s edition to the role of women in African enterprise. As part of the African Women in Business initiative, a high-level panel will bring together the most influential women in the African private sector and the CEOs most active in promoting gender diversity. The goal is twofold: to identify the best strategies for increased female representation in business and to highlight the career paths of the women who have shaped the African private sector.

“A greater representation of women in companies is crucial to the prosperity of the African private sector”, said Amir Ben Yahmed, President of AFRICA CEO FORUM.
“By creating the 

African Women in Business initiative, we have decided to put female leadership at the heart of our discussions.”

The African Women in Business initiative will also present the findings of the McKinsey & Company Women Matter Africa report. This report sets out the progress made by the African private and public sectors in terms of women’s representation. While Africa equals – and even exceeds – international standards, there is still a long way to go to achieve true gender equality.

By launching the African Women in Business initiative, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is contributing to the implementation of concrete solutions for the improvement of gender diversity. It aims, as in all matters to the life of African companies, to shake things up and push boundaries.

About the Women Matter Africa Report

Among the conclusions:

* Companies with greater gender diversity within their boards tend to perform better financially.
* The same applies to African companies; the top 25% most diverse companies have a 20% higher earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) than their industry average.
* Those with boards made up of at least 25% women have a 20% EBIT above their industry average.
* In the private sector, Africa has more women board members, CEOs and managers than the world average. However, there is an under-representation of women at other hierarchical levels.
* In the public sector, Africa has more women in parliament than the world average, but this rate has to double to achieve gender equality.
* Although the number of women leaders has increased in the private as well as the public sector, they do not necessarily have more power or influence.

About the AFRICA CEO FORUM

Developed in partnership with the African Development Bank, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is an event organised by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company that specialises in organising events promoting and facilitating business.

Launched in 2012, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has become the leading international meeting on the development of Africa and its companies, in a high-level professional setting. The 2016 edition hosted over 1,000 African and international personalities, including 600 business leaders from 43 African countries and 100 high-level speakers.

*AMA

0
Read More
The best way to honour Tshisekedi is to take on the fight for democracy in DR Congo
February 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

Now more than ever, we must heed the late politician’s declaration that, ultimately, the people must take responsibility for themselves.

With the veteran opposition figure out of the picture, the government may feel less pressure to implement the recent agreement. Credit: VoteTshisekedi.

With the veteran opposition figure out of the picture, the government may feel less pressure to implement the recent agreement. Credit: VoteTshisekedi.

Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, the historic leader in the struggle for democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), died at a hospital in Brussels, Belgium, on 1 February, reportedly of pulmonary embolism. He was 84 years old.

His death was announced the same day by a spokesperson for his party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), founded by Tshisekedi and other political leaders in 1982.

Born on 14 December 14, 1932, in Kananga (then Luluabourg) in Kasai province of the Belgian Congo, Tshisekedi began his political career by working closely with the Congo’s notorious leader Mobutu Sese Seko for nearly 20 years. This relationship began in 1960 when Mobutu, who had recently become army chief-of-staff and led a coup against Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, nominated Tshisekedi to the Council of General Commissioners. Still a law student at Lovanium University in Kinshasa (then Léopoldville), Tshisekedi was named Deputy Commissioner for Justice.

In 1961, Tshisekedi became the first Congolese to obtain the doctorate in law. He left politics for a few years to serve as Rector of the National School of Law and Administration (ENDA) in Kinshasa. But in 1965, he returned to politics as Interior Minister following Mobutu’s second coup d’état in which he seized the presidency, an office he would hold until 1997.

As a key minister, Tshisekedi played a crucial role in the process of consolidating Mobutu’s personal rule. He helped draft the 1967 constitution, which outlawed multi-partyism, and create the single-party regime under the People’s Revolutionary Movement (MPR).

In the second half of the 1970s, however, relations between the hitherto close friends deteriorated as Mobutu became increasingly corrupt and notorious for gross violations of human rights. This rift came to a head in December 1980 as Tshisekedi, along with twelve other MPs, sent a 52-page letter to the president demanding the restoration of multiparty democracy. The dissenters were arrested, tortured, and sent to remote detention centres in the bush.

It was this episode in which Tshisekedi earned the respect of the Congolese people as he remained the one person to endure the suffering without giving in to either fear or bribery. A man of extreme courage and strong moral and political principles, he showed that he would put the country’s interests above personal ambitions, living by his motto le peuple d’abord. The people first.

Fighting authoritarianism

In July 1991, a year after Mobutu had ended his ban on other political parties amidst internal and external pressure, the dictator offered Tshisekedi the role of prime minister. Demonstrators descended on the opposition leader’s residence in Kinshasa to dissuade him from collaborating with “the devil”.

Tshisekedi refused the nomination. But he did later go on to become prime minister on three separate occasions under Mobutu, all for short periods of time that ended in disagreements between the two men.

The one stint as PM that stands out most for Congolese was Tshisekedi’s election to the position in August 1992 at the Sovereign National Conference. At this forum, established to interrogate the past and chart a new course for the country, 2,842 delegates representing all strata of Congolese society overwhelmingly voted in favour of Tshisekedi becoming prime minster over Mobutu’s favoured candidate. This national forum remains a central reference point for Congolese aspirations for democracy and rule of law.

As arguably the single most important political leader in the DRC since Patrice Lumumba, Tshisekedi embodied these aspirations in his opposition to the authoritarian regimes of not just Mobutu, but his successors.

His political activities under President Laurent-Désiré Kabila (1997-2001), who overthrew Mobutu, resulted in Tshisekedi being relegated to his village of origin in Eastern Kasai. And under Joseph Kabila, who took power after his father’s death in 2001, Tshisekedi was the Congo’s most prominent opposition leader .

Tshisekedi boycotted the 2006 elections, but when he ran for president in 2011, the man by now known as the Vieux (Old Man) drew enormous crowds across the country’s provinces. When the official results declared the Kabila the winner therefore, the overriding response was of disbelief.

National and international observers said the elections had been marred by serious irregularities and a lack of transparency, while the Bishops’ Conference, which had observers across the country, said the results did not reflect the will of the people. Tshisekedi rejected the results and held a parallel inauguration ceremony.

Taking responsibility

The next elections were constitutionally required to be held in 2016, but Kabila’s government employed a variety of tactics to delay them, meaning he is now still in office despite his official mandate ending on 19 December.

As this crisis has unfolded, Tshisekedi returned to the fore and became one of the leaders of the opposition coalition known as the Rassemblement, which organised huge protests. At the end of 2016, the Rassemblement engaged in negotiations with Kabila’s camp, leading to an agreement on 31 December that called for power-sharing and a one-year transition to elections in 2017.

In the month that has gone by since that accord, however, little progress has been made. And with the death of Tshisekedi, the main opposition figurehead whose ability to mobilise huge street protests was unparalleled in the Congo, the Kabila regime is likely to feel less pressure to implement the agreement.

Such a temptation from the regime would be misguided. The Congolese people’s desire for democracy and willingness to exert their popular power is not to be underestimated.

We saw this in independence uprisings of January 1959; in the mass “second independence” movement of 1963-68; in the huge demonstrations of 16 February 1992; in the three-day protests of January 2015, when at least 50 people were killed demonstrating against a bill requiring a national census before elections; and we saw this in massive protests around the country in September and December 2016 against Kabila’s determination to stay in office beyond his mandate.

Tshisekedi embodied this spirit and was central in mobilising many of these demonstrations. But Congolese patriots will continue to fight for democracy and social progress with or without iconic opposition leaders like him.

Indeed, as we mourn the loss of the Vieux, the best way to honour his selfless, incorruptible and patriotic service over several decades is to take it upon ourselves to restore democracy in the DRC. The Congolese people have a duty to remove Kabila and his cronies from power and end a regime that is more interested in looting the country than in building institutions, protecting citizens, and ensuring peace and development.

Tshisekedi will be deeply missed, but as he reminded us following the 2011 elections, le people doit se prendre en charge. Now more than ever, the people must take responsibility for themselves.

*African Arguments.Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja is professor of African and global studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA).

0
Read More
Late winner gives Cameroon Afcon title
February 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Stephen Fottrell*

Cameroon's last-gasp win ends a 15-year wait for another continental crown

Cameroon’s last-gasp win ends a 15-year wait for another continental crown

Cameroon came from behind to beat Egypt 2-1 and seal a fifth Africa Cup of Nations in a thrilling, edgy final.

Substitute Vincent Aboubakar swept in the winner two minutes from time, flicking the ball over defender Ali Gabr and thumping it home.

Nicolas Nkoulou had earlier equalised for Cameroon, rising highest to power in a header on the hour mark.

 The equaliser cancelled out Mohamed Elneny’s opener on 22 minutes with a beautifully taken near-post strike.

The wild celebrations for Aboubakar’s winner announced Cameroon’s return to the continental summit, after a wait of 15 years.

It also makes them the second most successful nation in the competition’s history – behind Egypt – and marks the first time they have beaten the Pharoahs in the final in three attempts.

Besiktas striker Aboubakar ran towards the triumphant Cameroon fans in the Stade de l’Amitie stands in Libreville to celebrate, pursued by delirious teammates and coaching staff.

Underdogs Cameroon had already upset the odds to reach the final and stunned the much-fancied Egyptians with the late dramatic strike, after fellow substitute Nkoulou had drawn them level.

Cameroon players celebrate Vincent Aboubakar's winner
Cameroon players – and staff – run for the stands to celebrate Vincent Aboubakar’s winner

Despite being beset by pre-tournament problems, including the withdrawal of key players such as Joel Matip and Eric Chuopo-Moting, coach Hugo Broos managed to assemble a squad that got their reward for being strong, adaptable and resilient in equal measure throughout.

The Pharaohs – bidding for an eighth title after seven years in the international wilderness – started comfortably and Elneny’s opening strike capped a wonderful fluent move down the right.

The Gunners midfielder started the move and finished it, after receiving the ball from Mohamed Salah in the box and sweeping it past Fabrice Ondoa into the roof of the net at the near post.

Nicolas Nkoulou celebrates with teammate Benjamin Moukandjo
Goalscorer Nicolas Nkoulou celebrates with winning teammate Benjamin Moukandjo

But Egypt invited the Indomitable Lions to come at them in the second half and they paid a heavy price.

The excellent Cameroon forward Benjamin Moukandjo whipped in an excellent, menacing cross and substitute Nkoulou muscled his way through the Egyptian defence to beat Ahmed Hegazy to the ball and bury it past 44-year-old Essam El Hadary in the Egyptian goal.

The contest developed into a fascinating cagey final, with Cameroon, inspired by the excellent Christian Bassogog and Jacques Zoua up front, pinning Egypt back and limiting them to long balls to Salah and substitute Ramadan Sobhi.

Fatigue soon set in in the Egyptian ranks and Cameroon got their ultimate reward for increasing the pressure on the experienced Egyptian defence.

Egypt's veteran keeper Essam El Hadary
Egypt’s veteran keeper Essam El Hadary was denied a fifth Africa Cup of Nations title

Aboubakar controlled a long ball forward with his chest at the edge of the box, flicked it over the stranded Gabr, before gathering, taking a step and smashing home off his right foot for a fitting winner.

The Egyptians – featuring the tournament’s oldest and most experienced player – El Hadary, were left stunned after looking comfortable for much of the first half.

As they had done for much of the tournament, Egypt relied on a well-marshalled defence, led by Ahmed Hegazy, Gabr and Hull City’s Ahmed Elmohamady. They also had the formidable Elneny and Salah leading the line.

The Pharaohs more than played their part in an entertaining final, but it was Cameroon’s energy that would light up the occasion and provide a thrilling end to a thoroughly entertaining tournament for the near-capacity crowd of more than 38,000 in the Gabonese capital.

Belgian coach Hugo Broos celebrates with his Cameroon players
Belgian coach Hugo Broos celebrates his first African title with Cameroon

Belgian coach Broos reflected the unity in his squad’s ranks, as he celebrated the first Nations Cup title of his career.

“I am happy for the players,” he said. “This is not a group of football players, they are a group of friends.”

Egypt coach Hector Cuper was left to dwell on another defeat in a major final, having lost two European Champions League finals with Spanish club Valencia.

“The sadness I have is not because I lost another final,” he said.

“It’s because there was so much hope especially among the people in Egypt and I am sorry for the players who put in so much effort.”

*BBC

 

0
Read More
‘Africa’s Youngest Billionaire’ Is Less Successful Than He Seems
February 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

The finances of Ashish Thakkar, once called the continent’s youngest billionaire, face scrutiny in a London divorce court

By MARGOT PATRICK*

Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group, has run into problems with some of his ventures. PHOTO: DREW ANGERER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group, has run into problems with some of his ventures. PHOTO: DREW ANGERER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Ashish Thakkar started selling computer parts at age 15 after fleeing Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, eventually becoming an emblem of Africa’s economic promise.

His vision for a more prosperous, tech-savvy Africa enabled his company, Mara Group, to attract partners including former Barclays PLC Chief Executive Bob Diamond, General Electric Co. and Mozido Inc. Several publications referred to Mr. Thakkar, now 35, as “Africa’s youngest billionaire.”

So it came as a surprise to a U.S. investment company checking on a Mara Group e-commerce startup to find that Mr. Thakkar didn’t own a stake in the new business, or in its parent company, which is based in the world’s tallest building in Dubai. Further checking showed that various projects he had publicized hadn’t made it off the ground, and most of 11,000 people he has said the company employs in 25 African countries don’t work directly for Mara.

On Monday, a London court is set to study Mara Group’s ownership as part of Mr. Thakkar’s divorce from his wife of five years. Mr. Thakkar told the divorce court last year he doesn’t own Mara Group and his personal assets are worth less than $600,000.

A Wall Street Journal examination of corporate filings and court records, and interviews with two dozen people including investors, show Mara Group has investments and assets worth about $30 million, the biggest chunk being a minority stake in a technology-services company. They are held through a network of companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. Until 2012, the company, which doesn’t file financial reports, was owned by a “bearer share” Panama foundation, owned by whoever held the stock certificate.

Mr. Thakkar said in an interview that Mara Group has always been owned by his mother and sister, and that he isn’t motivated by money. “Being the face of something doesn’t make you the owner of it,” he said. He never claimed to be a billionaire, he said. His other family members declined to comment.

Not long ago, a gold rush of foreign investment into the continent gave rise to the catch phrase “Africa Rising.” Now, investors’ enthusiasm has dimmed amid a commodities slump, and growth projections for sub-Saharan Africa are the lowest in two decades.

Mr. Thakkar and Mara Group, similarly, have hit a rough patch. Atlas Mara Ltd., the African banking group Mr. Thakkar co-founded with Mr. Diamond, lost 78% of its stock-market value in three years. A South African real-estate fund is removing “Mara” from its name after recently cutting ties with Mr. Thakkar. An Abu Dhabi sheik took legal action last year to cash out of a troubled, Mara-run fund. Shopping malls and office buildings Mr. Thakkar had hoped to develop have been mothballed, and the e-commerce venture struggled to raise capital.

“We’ve still got a lot to do, and we’ve still got a lot to prove,” Mr. Thakkar said. The company, he said, “never tried to make it out that it’s bigger than it is.”

Mara Group group employs about two dozen people, including family members. The 11,000 employees Mr. Thakkar often mentions, he said, refer mainly to those working at banks owned by Atlas Mara, of which he owns around 0.3%, and ISON Group, the technology-services company in which Mara holds a 22% stake.

Mr. Thakkar was born in Leicester, England, after his parents left Uganda during dictator Idi Amin’s purge of ethnic Indians. They moved to Rwanda when Mr. Thakkar was 12.

On his first visit to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, Mr. Thakkar watched out his window a massacre unfolding that would take 800,000 lives over 100 days, he recalled in his 2015 book, “The Lion Awakes: Adventures in Africa’s Economic Miracle.”

Mr. Thakkar left school at 15. He started flying to Dubai to buy computer parts, then sell them across Africa. It was the start of Mara Group, which grew to include a cardboard-manufacturing plant and a residential development in Kampala. At 18, he changed his name to Ashish, from Prateen, on the advice of the Hindu guru his family follows.

Around the turn of this decade, Mr. Thakkar hatched a proposition for investors coming to Africa: Mara could help cut through red tape, drawing on his relationships with governments. Executives at companies who worked with Mara say Mr. Thakkar helped secure local licenses and approvals and introduced them to government officials in countries such as Zimbabwe and Uganda.

“We were coming to Africa for the first time. We felt we would need somebody to hold our hand and take us through the complex nuances of a new continent,” said Ramesh Awtaney, the founder of ISON Group, a Kenya-based technology company that set up in Africa in 2010.

Mr. Thakkar became an unpaid adviser to Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, and to Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

A member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak al Nahayan, put $19 million into a fund for Mara’s projects in technology and agriculture, according to a legal filing by one of the sheik’s companies. The fund, run by Mr. Thakkar and his brother-in-law, Prashant Manek, bought part of Mara’s stake in the ISON venture and Ugandan farmland.

No other investors signed on, and the fund languished when Mr. Thakkar separated from Mr. Manek’s sister in 2013. The two men stopped speaking as the families tussled over the divorce, according to people familiar with the fund.

The sheik sued in the Cayman Islands to try to liquidate the fund, claiming Mr. Thakkar and Mr. Manek shirked their duties by failing to find other investors, running up unnecessary costs and letting the family dispute affect the company.

Mr. Thakkar said he has stepped down from the fund’s board. “It’s relationships related to my divorce, which were not managed well, and the entity was not managed well,” he said.

A lawyer for Mr. Manek declined to comment.

By then, Mr. Thakkar had hooked up with Mr. Diamond, who left Barclays in 2012. Mr. Diamond had set up a private-equity firm, Atlas Merchant Capital LLC, and was putting together a plan to buy African banks. The two men founded Atlas Mara six months after meeting at a conference. In 2013 and 2014, the company raised $625 million on the London Stock Exchange to buy banks in countries including Botswana and Nigeria.

Mr. Diamond said in an emailed statement that Mr. Thakkar’s relationships across Africa were crucial to Atlas Mara acquiring eight banks in seven countries.

Both men are on Atlas Mara’s board and own shares. Mr. Thakkar holds a stake now worth about $466,000.

The tie-up with Mr. Diamond elevated Mr. Thakkar’s profile with big institutional investors, including two of Atlas Mara’s biggest shareholders, U.S. mutual-fund company Wellington Management Co. and privately held investment firm Guggenheim Partners.

In 2014, Wellington invested $25 million in a now-defunct mobile-money venture Mara Group worked on with U.S. technology company Mozido Inc., people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Thakkar said Mara and Mozido “briefly formed a joint venture together but decided to go our separate ways.” Wellington and Mozido declined to comment.

Guggenheim Partners, which previously seeded Mr. Diamond’s private-equity fund with $200 million, also considered investments with Mara Group.

In November 2014, Messrs. Thakkar and Diamond took Guggenheim Chief Investment Officer Scott Minerd around Uganda and Rwanda by private jet and helicopter. In Kampala, they saw a 14-acre site Mr. Thakkar had been trying to develop for years, then lunched with Uganda’s prime minister.

A Guggenheim spokesman said its officials frequently travel to look at potential and existing investments, and it covers their trip costs.

Former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, right, co-founded African banking group Atlas Mara with Mr. Thakkar. PHOTO: WALDO SWIEGERS/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, right, co-founded African banking group Atlas Mara with Mr. Thakkar. PHOTO: WALDO SWIEGERS/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Last year, a property fund listed on the Johannesburg stock exchange bought a stake in a Kenyan mall from a consortium of investors including Mara Group and hired Mara to find more investments. The fund changed its name to Mara Delta Property Holdings Ltd. and Mr. Thakkar joined the board.

Mr. Thakkar said in November Mara Delta might buy more Mara-linked developments. Weeks later, he suddenly resigned from Mara Delta’s board.

Mara Delta said its contract with Mara Group was dissolved by mutual agreement and it plans to remove Mara from its name. Mr. Thakkar declined to comment.

In 2015, Mr. Thakkar visited investors in the U.S. to try to raise $100 million for the e-commerce business. Christian Unger, a technology executive at Swiss private-equity firm Partners Group AG, was named chief executive. When investors didn’t commit, Mr. Unger decided to remain at Partners Group, a person familiar with the matter said.

“We both decided that he wanted to move on,” Mr. Thakkar said. Mr. Unger declined to comment.

Back in Dubai, Mr. Thakkar is working on a scaled-down version of the e-commerce startup, delivering parcels.

*WSJ

0
Read More
All new Jozi Film Festival Award category, in partnership with Discovery Channel, kicks off 2017 call for submissions
February 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

Submissions for the sixth annual Jozi Film Festival (JFF) open on Monday 6 February 2017. As always, JFF is calling for feature films, short fiction films, documentaries (both short and long) as well as student films, both from South Africa and internationally.

For the first time, the Jozi Film Festival is thrilled to be partnering with Discovery Networks to launch a brand new category to this year’s lineup. The “Discovery Channel Don’t Stop Wondering Award” will call for 2-5 minute documentaries from filmmakers across Africa which showcase and celebrate unique African stories and capture Discovery’s ethos of sparking curiosity. This is an Africa-wide search for filmmaking talent that carries a cash prize from Discovery Channel of $5,000 for the final winner to go towards their next filming project. Entry is free and multiple entries are welcome.

“For over 30 years Discovery has been satisfying curiosity, breaking ground with high-quality factual entertainment programming that inspires and entertains audiences around the world,” said Lee Hobbs, VP of Brand & Content, Discovery Networks CEEMEA. “Discovery Channel’s Don’t Stop Wondering brand positioning is a call to action; a challenge to always remain curious and celebrate the value of treading your own path. Through this new partnership with the Jozi Film Festival, we hope to discover films that showcase what curiosity means to individuals today, all shot within a contemporary African context, and celebrate the continent’s remarkable filmmaking talent.”

The Top 10 films as selected by a JFF and Discovery jury will be broadcast on Discovery Channel in July and August, and later at the sixth annual Jozi Film Festival in September. The winning film will be selected by popular vote via the voting tool on Discovery’s website: www.discoverychannelafrica.com and the winner will be flown to Johannesburg to receive their prize at the Jozi Film Festival awards to be held on 24 September 2017.

Entrants must be 18 years or older and must reside on the African continent. Submissions for this category open at 12:00 on 6 February 2017 and close at 18:00 on 31 May 2017. For more information on how to submit to JFF2017, please visit www.jozifilmfestival.co.za or www.DiscoveryChannelAfrica.com

Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) satisfies curiosity and engages superfans with a portfolio of premium nonfiction, sports and kids programming brands. Reaching 3 billion cumulative viewers across pay-TV and free-to-air platforms in more than 220 countries and territories, Discovery’s portfolio includes the global brands Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Science and Turbo/Velocity, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport, the leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports content across Europe. Discovery reaches audiences across screens through digital-first programming from Discovery VR, over-the-top offerings Eurosport Player and Dplay, as well as TV Everywhere products comprising the GO portfolio of TVE apps and Discovery K!ds Play.
The Jozi Film Festival was initially created to provide a platform for local filmmakers in Johannesburg, and to develop an audience for South African films. While still prioritizing local film, JFF now accept films from around the world – features, short films, documentaries and student films. We are the longest running multi-genre festival in the City of Gold and our motto remains the same from Day One: We Love Jozi. We Love Film.
The Jozi Film Festival strongly supports independent films.
0
Read More
Africa: AU Bans Ministers From Nigeria, Other Member Countries From Representing Presidents
February 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
President Idriss Déby of Chad, centre, hands over to President Alpha Condé of Guinea, right, with the former head of the AU, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, left, at the summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photograph: Courtesy Africa Union

President Idriss Déby of Chad, centre, hands over to President Alpha Condé of Guinea, right, with the former head of the AU, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, left, at the summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photograph: Courtesy Africa Union

The Chairperson of the African Union, President Alfa Conde of Guinea, has banned ministers from addressing the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments as from next AU Summit.

Conde, told the 28th AU Summit on Tuesday in Addis Ababa that the measure was part of the recommendations made in 2016 at AU summit in Kigali,

He said that a committee headed by President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, was set up by AU to reform the Summit and how its meeting would be conducted.

“If you call it Assembly of Head of States, it should remain so, there is no need for minister to take the floor.

Ministers should be at the level of their executive meeting and should be limited to that, he said.

 He alleged that most of the president do not spend time at the meeting, adding that after opening ceremony, some of them take their leave.

Conde, who also frowned at attitude of not being punctual by the leaders, which called “African time,” said it was high time such attitude was checked.

According to him, when they go for such meeting outside Africa the leaders always keep to time but it is only in Africa they come to meeting at will and late.

The AU Chairperson, who said the measure would take effect from July, said it was one of the steps to implement the reform on how the business of the Summit should be conducted.

*AllAfrica/Vanaguard

0
Read More
Africa: Nigeria Opposes Mass ICC Withdrawal
January 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

The plan the African Union (AU) members to collectively withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) may suffer a setback as Nigeria and some other countries are opposed to it.

Foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama said in a statement in Abuja on Friday that Nigeria did not subscribe to the AU strategy.

The minister said that when the issue came up during a meeting, several countries opposed it.

He said Nigeria and others believed that the court had an important role to play in holding leaders accountable.

The only voice

“Nigeria is not the only voice agitating against it, in fact Senegal is very strongly speaking against it, Cape Verde and other countries are also against it.

“What they (AU) did was to set up a committee to elaborate a strategy for collective withdrawal.

“And after, Senegal took the floor, Nigeria took the floor, Cape Verde and some other countries made it clear that they were not going to subscribe to that decision,” he said.

Mr Onyeama said a number of countries also said that they needed time to study the proposal.

He said that Zambia, Tanzania, Liberia, Botswana and a host of others were not willing to withdraw from the court.

Mr Onyeama stressed that each country willingly acceded to the 1998 Rome Statue on the setting up of the court.

 “Each country freely and willingly acceded to the Treaty, and not all of the members of the AU acceded, each country acceded individually exercising its own sovereign right.

“So, each country, if they want to withdraw, has the right to do that individually.

Publicly declared

Three African states in 2016 publicly declared their intention to withdraw from the court.

Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia applied to withdraw, with reports that Namibia, Kenya and Uganda were also contemplating quitting the ICC.

The court has repeatedly been criticised by African states as an inefficient, neo-colonial institution of the Western powers to try African leaders.

The argument was supported by the fact that nine of the 10 situations under investigation, with three others under preliminary investigations, involved African countries.

However, as noted by the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), “the rift is often caused by a neat difference in priorities.

“Where one gives more importance to peace processes, while the other gives more weight to obtaining [international] justice.”

African state parties to the Rome Statute make up the biggest regional membership, comprising 34 of the 124 members.

*Allafrica

0
Read More
GRANT T. HARRIS: IT’S TIME FOR U.S. COMPANIES TO SEE AFRICA AS AN INVESTMENT DESTINATION
January 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

Former White House Principal Advisor on Sub-Saharan Africa outlines why American companies should invest in Africa

  By Grant T. Harris*

Grant Harris

Grant Harris

Investment attitudes toward sub-Saharan Africa tend to swing wildly between overly optimistic, excessively negative, and everywhere in between – often based on the latest economic outlook and commodity prices. In truth, there are both sizeable risks and opportunities within the continent’s many different markets. Savvy American investors would be wise to recognize the realities behind the hype and misperceptions.

Underlying the range of investment opportunities in Africa are some undeniable demographic and economic trends that will shape markets for decades to come. Africa’s population is young and expanding quickly: in the next 35 years, 1 out of every 4 people in the world will be African. The region is already witnessing rapid urbanization, and a growing middle class and consumer market. Although Africa’s exciting economic growth has slowed dramatically in the last two years due to falling commodity prices, quite a few non-commodity exporters are projected to grow by over 6 percent in 2017.

Of course, it is equally undeniable that Africa faces real economic challenges. Not only is the region insufficiently connected to global markets, but intra-continental trade is also far too low. Poor infrastructure is a significant hurdle: two out of three people lack access to electricity, while inadequate road, rail, and harbor services increase the cost of cross-border trade within Africa by 30-40 percent. These deficiencies can be extremely costly for businesses, but can also present opportunities for investment.

More to the point, American companies are well placed to use their expertise and comparative advantages to fill unmet needs across a range of sectors, including energy, agriculture, and information technology (IT), to highlight just a few. Africa’s massive energy shortfall provides an opening for a wide range of players in electricity production, delivery, and financing, including to harness Africa’s huge renewable energy potential. In agriculture, Africa continues to experience low yields, even though the region contains 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, and despite the fact that agriculture is at the core of most countries’ economies and livelihoods. U.S. agribusiness companies could be at the forefront of supplying agricultural inputs while helping to improve food security on the continent.

In IT, Africa’s environment is primed to enable and benefit from disruptive innovations. Having bypassed the landline, cell phone usage is increasing exponentially, paving the way for groundbreaking mobile products and services. Facebook and Google have recognized Africa’s promise and are racing to facilitate Internet connectivity in the region – others in Silicon Valley may well find their own niche.

Moreover, investing in these essential sectors could, in turn, spur additional opportunities. For instance, improved energy access and infrastructure could boost untapped possibilities in manufacturing, where output could nearly double to $930 billion by 2025 if governments create the right enabling conditions.

As is true when investing in any emerging market, the challenges can be immense. Above all, investors must keep in mind that markets and business climates vary dramatically across the continent, as do the timeframes for profitable opportunities.

But as McKinsey puts it, Africa has “robust long-term economic fundamentals.” And those who have already invested in the region know it: according to Ernst and Young, investors present in Africa retain a far more positive outlook on the region’s prospects than those who have never done business there.

American companies would be smart to define how Africa can and should relate to their global strategies and growth plans. Over-simplifying the continent could mean misjudging risks, while opting to “wait and see” could lead to missed chances, just as many overly cautious investors now lament their late entry into China. Plenty of opportunities remain in Africa, but only well-informed investors will reap the benefits.

*IGD.Grant T. Harris is CEO of Harris Africa Partners LLC and was President Obama’s principal advisor on sub-Saharan Africa in the White House from 2011-2015.

0
Read More
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf confirmed to deliver keynote speech at the 2017 Tana Forum
January 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

Held every year in the northern Ethiopian city of Bahir Dar, the Tana High-Level Forum is an informal gathering of heads of state and government; leaders of regional organisations; civil society; the private sector; and eminent scholars and practitioners.

The Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa  Secretariat has today announced that the President of the Republic of Liberia, H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, will be the keynote speaker at the sixth Tana Forum to be held on 22-23 April 2017.

H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the 24th and current President of Liberia. She won the 2005 presidential election taking office on 16 January 2006, and was re-elected in 2011. She is the first elected female head of state in Africa. In June 2016, she was elected as the Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), making her the first woman to occupy the position.

President Sirleaf was jointly awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen. The women were recognized “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

“Having H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the keynote speaker is a great success for the Forum” said Michelle Ndiaye, Tana Forum Secretariat Head. “She can use her leadership to highlight on the role of the state in natural resource governance and to call for a proper inclusion of women in all debates that focus on the utilisation of natural resources in Africa”.

Held every year in the northern Ethiopian city of Bahir Dar, the Tana High-Level Forum is an informal gathering of heads of state and government; leaders of regional organisations; civil society; the private sector; and eminent scholars and practitioners. This year’s theme, “Natural Resource Governance in Africa” , aims to reflect on the centrality of natural resources, both in historical as well as in contemporary times, in understanding the far-reaching implications on state-society relations within the continent, and Africa’s disadvantageous position in global production and exchange.

The Tana Forum  is an annual meeting that brings together African leaders and stakeholders to engage and explore African-led security solutions. The 6th Tana Forum will take place on 22-23 April 2017 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

0
Read More
Africa Finance Corporation issues US$150 million maiden Sukuk
January 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

Issuance represents the global market’s first USD Sukuk transaction of 2017 and the first Sukuk transaction from an African supranational entity

Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a leading pan-African multilateral development finance institution and project developer, has issued its maiden Sukuk, the highest-rated ever Sukuk issuance from an African institution.

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC

Following high levels of investor interest, the initial target of US$100 million was more than twice oversubscribed, resulting in the transaction being upsized to US$150 million and a final order book of approximately US$230 million. In addition to being the first Sukuk transaction of 2017, it is also the first Sukuk to be issued by an African supranational entity.

The Sukuk is AFC’s second foray into Islamic finance; the corporation accepted a US$50 million 15 year line of financing from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in 2015 to finance Islamic Finance-compliant projects located across the numerous African IDB member countries.

The privately placed 100% Murabaha Sukuk, which has been awarded an A3 senior unsecured rating by Moody’s Investors Service, has a three year tenor and will mature on 24 January 2020. Emirates NBD Capital, MUFG and RMB acted as Joint Bookrunners and Joint Lead Managers with Emirates NBD Capital also acting as the Sole Global Coordinator.

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC, commented on the announcement: “The core values of Islamic finance, the need to invest ethically in assets that have a tangible positive social impact, made a Sukuk issuance a natural choice for us. We offer global investors the chance to be involved in high-impact infrastructure projects that not only promote social and economic development across Africa but also generate economic returns for our investors.

“This Sukuk represents a milestone in our financing activities, a milestone that will enable us to further diversify our funding sources, to build new relationships with key investors in international markets and help us diversify our portfolio of projects to continue delivering real impact across the continent.”

Ahmed Al Qassim, CEO of Emirates NBD Capital, added: “Emirates NBD Capital is delighted to have supported the inaugural US$150 million 3 year Sukuk issuance. The successful completion of the transaction is a testament to AFC’s standing with the international investor community and AFC’s commitment to develop new sources of funding.

“As the Sole Global Coordinator for the Sukuk, Emirates NBD Capital continues to lead the development of international Sukuk as a product and providing our clients with unique solutions to meet their funding requirements.”

AFC has a diverse funding base, with a range of funding from sources across different markets. Last year the corporation issued its debut Swiss Franc denominated long three-year bond, raising CHF 100 million, and accepted a US$150 million 15 year loan facility from KfW Development Bank. In 2015 AFC’s inaugural 144A/Reg S, US$750 million 5-year international bond was more than six times oversubscribed at over US$4.7 billion, attracting institutional investors from across Asia, Europe, Middle East and the United States.

The Corporation will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2017 at the AFC Live Summit, which will bring together many of the top international players in African infrastructure investment for high level discussions on the industry’s many challenges, and potential solutions.

AFC is a dynamic, international investment grade multilateral finance institution whose mission it is to help bridge Africa’s significant infrastructure gap whilst delivering competitive financial returns, robust economic growth and positive social impact.

 

Established in 2007 to be the catalyst for private sector infrastructure investment across Africa, AFC is now the second highest investment grade rated multilateral financial institution in Africa with an A3/P2 (Stable outlook) rating from Moody’s Investors Service. A successful borrowing programme has raised more than US$3.5 billion for AFC’s activities, including the Corporation’s debut US$750 million Eurobond issue which was over 6 times oversubscribed. In terms of impact, AFC has invested more than US$ 4 billion in projects across 26 African countries to date.

 

AFC’s investment approach combines specialist industry expertise with a focus on financial and technical advisory, project structuring, project development and risk capital tailored to addressing Africa’s unique infrastructure development needs in the core sectors of power, natural resources, heavy industry, transport, and telecommunications.
0
Read More
New African Railways Ride on Chinese Loans
January 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Salem Solomon &Falastine Iman*

Locomotives for the new Ethiopia to Djibouti electric railway system sit outside a train station on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Sept. 24, 2016,

Locomotives for the new Ethiopia to Djibouti electric railway system sit outside a train station on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Sept. 24, 2016,

Earlier this month, the first train rumbled down the tracks of a $3.4 billion electric railway connecting landlocked Ethiopia with Djibouti and its access to the Red Sea. The 750-kilometer (466 miles) line, expected to carry up to five million tons of goods per year, promises to have a massive impact on the economies of both countries and the region at large.

At the official launch of the project, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said its importance cannot be overstated.

“This project is like our blood vessels,” he told a VOA Somali service reporter who was riding on the inaugural train. “The reason is because Ethiopia’s outlet is through Djibouti. Therefore, this project determines if we can live or not live.”

The project was 70 percent funded by a loan from China’s state-run EXIM Bank and built by China Railway Group and Chinese engineers.

Kenya railway line almost done

It is the latest in China’s massive infrastructure investment in Africa. A $13-billion railroad in Kenya, financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and built by the state-owned China Road and Bridge Corporation, is nearly complete. Other railway lines are planned to stretch into East African countries including South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Between 2000 and 2014, China made $24.2 billion in loans to finance transportation projects on the African continent, according to researchers at the China-Africa Research Initiative, a group at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies focusing on China-Africa relations. Eighty percent of those loans were for roads and railways.

China eyes African ports

Experts say Chinese infrastructure investment in Africa is not about altruism. Funding railways benefits China by connecting ports and facilitating the movement of raw commodities that are badly needed to fuel China’s development.

“East Africa, particularly the ports in Kenya, ports in Tanzania and especially ports in Djibouti, these are very important for the Chinese just for the exports,” said Jyhjong Hwang, a senior research assistant at Johns Hopkins’ China-Africa Research Initiative.

Hwang says that for China, these projects will take a long time to pay dividends.

By contrast she said African economies are likely to see an immediate impact.

“These are big transportation projects that will stimulate local economies, these are good for basic infrastructure,” she said. “This is good for local, loan recipient countries just because these projects have a lot of costs and not a lot of immediate financial return.

“These are the projects that need a lot of financial infusion to begin with and obviously the financier has to be willing to want to take on a lot of risk, but willing to recuperate over a longer horizon,” said Hwang.

Not a ‘clear pattern’

The Ethiopia-Djibouti project was 70 percent funded by a loan from China's state-run Exim Bank and built by China Railway Group and Chinese engineers.

The Ethiopia-Djibouti project was 70 percent funded by a loan from China’s state-run Exim Bank and built by China Railway Group and Chinese engineers.

In 2016, the China-Africa Research Initiative published its database of all known loans made by China to Africa between 2000 and 2014. The countries that received these loans were not all resource-rich countries, researchers found.

“When we talk about China and Africa and interests, people talk about natural resources, but one of our findings was that actually there isn’t a clear pattern in terms of the amounts of loans to countries and how well endowed they are with natural resources,” said Janet Eom, a research manager at the China-Africa Research Initiative.

Oil-rich Angola received the largest amount of funding, Eom says. But resource-poor Ethiopia came in second.

‘One Belt, One Road’ policy in Africa

China views its investment abroad as part of its “One Belt, One Road” policy. Spearheaded by Beijing, this effort is a Chinese public-private partnership, Hwang says, “even though technically no company is truly private in China.”

It aims to develop a modern “silk road” where goods and commodities can be easily transported between China and its surrounding region. Eventually, China says, it would like to shift labor-intensive industrial work to places like Africa.

Local governments are aware a lack of infrastructure is a roadblock to international investment, Hwang says, and are eager to partner with China.

“On the Chinese side, they want to have better investment opportunities in Africa, so if they don’t have a railroad, they will help them build it themselves,” she said.

China also has a large number of infrastructure contractors who need work, many of whom have close links to the ruling party or are state owned.

The quality of the work has come under scrutiny, says Hwang. But, she added, “they are capable of doing [the work] very fast and very cheap, and they are able to find the financing for it …”

Most laborers are African

The Johns Hopkins researchers also found Chinese projects benefit African workers, the foremen and technicians tend to be Chinese while the manual laborers are generally African.

There are concerns about the ability of African nations to pay back these loans, researchers found. This is particularly true in countries heavily reliant on oil revenue, which have seen the price per barrel slump in recent years.

There are also concerns China may pull back its investment on the continent as it experiences an economic slowdown.

But the recipient countries of this investment believe it is a win-win.

*VOA

0
Read More
Gambia: Ecowas Force to Remain for 6 Months
January 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Marcel de Souza

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Marcel de Souza

The ECOWAS Commission has said its coalition force in The Gambia would remain for the next six months, as requested by President Adama Barrow.

Marcel de Souza said this while briefing members of the diplomatic corps and partner organisations on the political situation in The Gambia on Tuesday in Abuja.

Mr. De Souza, however, said that retaining troops in that country would be decided by the Chiefs of Army Staff.

“By the end of the week, the forces will fall back.

“Barrow would like us to have a sufficient force on ground for about six months; we will see which troops will be withdrawn and which would be retained.”

He said the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia was to secure peace contrary to reports that there was a military force in the country after former President Yayah Jammeh’s departure.

“We needed to have a specific strategy and prevent a single shot being fired and bloodshed.

“Orders were given for forces to move to Banjul; it was a force to secure the situation, the environment and the life of Barrow, not a military move.

 “What if there was an assassination attempt on his life, it will question the whole process.

“We are waiting for a report, by today or tomorrow we will be able to indicate that Barrow will return,” he said.

The commission’s president said that member countries handled the costs of maintaining the troops.

He also confirmed that the Gambian armed forces welcomed the ECOWAS coalition force.

He reiterated that Mr. Jammeh departed The Gambia for Equatorial Guinea on Friday after final mediation efforts by presidents Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania and Alpha Conde of Guinea.

He also said that the requests made by Mr. Jammeh which were also contained in the joint declaration by ECOWAS, AU and the UN were under review.

He said the requests had yet to be validated by the authorities

*Premium Times/Allafrica

0
Read More
The Gambia crisis: Yahya Jammeh says he will step down
January 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
Mr Jammeh had said there were irregularities in the presidential election

Mr Jammeh had said there were irregularities in the presidential election

The Gambia’s long-term leader Yahya Jammeh says he will step down, after refusing to accept defeat in elections.

In an announcement on state TV, he said it was “not necessary that a single drop of blood be shed”.

The statement followed hours of talks between Mr Jammeh and West African mediators. He gave no details of what deal might have been struck.

Mr Jammeh has led the country for 22 years but was defeated in December’s election by Adama Barrow.

Mr Barrow has been in neighbouring Senegal for days and was inaugurated as president in the Gambian embassy there on Thursday.

Troops from several West African nations, including Senegal, have been deployed in The Gambia, threatening to drive Mr Jammeh out of office if he did not agree to go.

Mr Jammeh’s decision to quit came after talks with the presidents of Guinea and Mauritania.

“I have decided today in good conscience to relinquish the mantle of leadership of this great nation with infinite gratitude to all Gambians,” he said.

“I promise before Allah and the entire nation that all the issues we currently face will be resolved peacefully.”

Shortly before the TV address, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said that a deal had been struck and that Mr Jammeh would leave the country. He gave no further details.

Discours d'adieu de Yahya Jammeh.

Posted by Mohamadou Houmfa on Friday, January 20, 2017

Mr Jammeh was given an ultimatum to leave office or be forced out by UN-backed troops, which expired at 16:00 GMT on Friday.

The deadline was set by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), a regional grouping backed by the United Nations.

The new president, Adama Barrow, was sworn-in in Senegal on Thursday

The new president, Adama Barrow, was sworn-in in Senegal on Thursday

The first signs of a breakthrough came on Friday when a senior aide to the new president told the BBC’s Umaru Fofana that Mr Jammeh had agreed to step down.

Mr Jammeh had at first accepted defeat in the election but then reversed his position and said he would not step down.

He declared a 90-day state of emergency, blaming irregularities in the electoral process.

The electoral commission accepted that some of its early results had contained errors but said they would not have affected Mr Barrow’s win.

Mr Jammeh had vowed to stay in office until new elections were held.

*BBC

0
Read More
Unpredictable Trump could prove a game changer for Africa
January 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

With his win of the White House, president-elect Trump has made no secret that his electoral college mandate to “make America great again” should apply to US foreign policy as well.

During the campaign and after his victory, Trump has unabashedly and unpredictably turned US policy on its head with a cascade of jaw-dropping statements about Mexico, China, Russia and Putin, ISIS, Muslims, NATO, Israel and more.
There is, however, one area of the world Trump seems to have eschewed altogether, an area where his skittishness could prove a boon.
For the past eight years Africa has been relegated to the back burner of US foreign policy. President Obama, whose father hailed from Kenya, elicited high expectations when he came to office and was seen, initially, as a potential champion for African causes. Yet, aside from his struggling “Power Africa,” a $7-billion presidential initiative launched in 2013 and aimed at doubling Africa’s electrical grid by 2030, Obama has little to show for when it comes to Africa.
Unlike his immediate predecessor, who morphed into a staunch Africa supporter with several African programs to boot (including his Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR), the first black president departed from the White House in January 2017 with a legacy of soaring rhetoric and lofty slogans, but no tangible and successful African signature policies.
Because Trump favors protectionism, the argument goes, he will turn his back on Africa and will happily don Obama’s mantle to continue Washington’s minimalist involvement in African affairs.
Trump, however, might just do the opposite and, just as George W. Bush, surprise many critics by implementing sensible policies vis-à-vis Africa.
One may wonder why. Why would Trump care about Africa? Why should Africa matter to a Trump administration that has pledged to build roads and bridges in North Carolina, not in South Sudan? The answer to these questions is simple: China. If Trump is serious about China, as he has ostensibly touted on the campaign trail and via twitter, if he is determined to flex his muscles against China, he should first challenge the rising power of the Red Dragon in Africa.
That’s because Africa has served as China’s economic launching pad for over two decades. Africa has fueled and will continue to fuel China’s booming industries for several decades to come.
With the US economic presence in Africa receding, China has occupied the void and driven competition out, including many European companies and investors. The Chinese are building infrastructures at a dizzying pace, from Cairo to Cape-town, in exchange for Africa’s rich mineral ores. Buoyed by state subsidies, Chinese companies are outbidding competition with many shoddy, built-on-the-fly construction projects, and take a disproportionate role in Africa’s extractive production and industries.
Thousands of Chinese companies are doing business in 50 African countries, down to some small-scale businesses operating in Africa’s remotest villages. Chinese state-owned companies are buying vast swatches of Africa’s arable land to set up large-scale agricultural projects. Together, they contributed to the estimated $300 billion generated by China-Africa trade in 2015. In addition to trade, China relies on loans to buttress its presence in Africa. In 2015, during the sixth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Johannesburg, Chinese president Xi Jinping pledged a whopping $60 billion loan, aid, and export credit package to Africa.
Then there are America’s national security interests that should also matter as Trump is assembling his team.
Islamic terror groups, including Al-Shabaab and Al Qaeda operate cell groups in Africa’s rogue states. They are after American soft targets and it’s just a matter of time, if the trend is not reversed, until we see the kind of acts that targeted American interests in Nairobi and Benghazi. The Chinese, of course, prefer not to interfere with what they consider to be African states’ internal affairs.
African dictators are leery of a Trump presidency, and for good reason.
A new sheriff is in town, and unlike the one he will replace in January he may not be all talk and no cider. With his penchant for contumely and tit-for-tat escalation, Trump might be the game changer that shakes things up in Africa and disrupts corrupt political regimes that have quietly survived and thrived under Obama’s two terms in office. They have largely ignored Obama’s paper tiger rhetoric, but Trump’s iron fist may well be what will compel them to get in line and relinquish their illegitimate power.
Why? Because dictators and failed states are bad for business. They feed on corruption, serve as breeding ground for terrorism, and have no qualms about letting their nuclear raw materials fall into wrong hands.
Democratically-elected African leaders, on the other hand, may find in President Trump an unlikely ally, a more decisive and unfettered leader to work with to advance an economic and political agenda that could benefit both the US and Africa.
As the global spotlight shines on his presidency, Trump might prove his critics wrong by dealing differently with Africa and restoring America’s clout on a continent that cannot afford to put its eggs in the same basket and should not let China’s monopolistic drive dictate the terms and pace of its development.
0
Read More
Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, guest of honor at the AFRICA CEO FORUM 2017
January 18, 2017 | 1 Comments

Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will participate in the 5th edition of the AFRICA CEO FORUM, alongside 1000 international and African economic decision-makers, including 300 top investors.

As the second largest African market, Ethiopia is one of the most robust and best performing economies on the continent, with a two-digit growth rate over the past 10 years (a 10,8% annual average since 2005).

Accompanied by a delegation of Ethiopian CEOs, the Prime Minister will present the strategic orientations of his economic policy as well as several concrete investment projects in high potential sectors. The Ethiopian Government has launched significant programmes in sectors such as transport, telecommunications, energy and industry, especially textile industry, to accelerate the structural transformation of the country’s economy.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister will also participate in the “Head of State panel” where he will discuss Ethiopia’s economic outlook, highlighting the private sector’s role in its growth dynamic. In 2016, the Presidents of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana participated in this unique panel which has since become a highlight of the
AFRICA CEO FORUM’s programme.
Set up in partnership with the African Development Bank, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is an event organized jointly by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and rainbow unlimited, a Swiss company specializing in the organization of economic promotion events.

Launched in 2012, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has established itself as the foremost international event dedicated to the development of the African private sector. In 2016, the AFRICA CEO FORUM hosted nearly 1000 African and international public figures including 600 CEOs from 43 African countries and 100 high-level speakers.

Press contact :
Abdoul Maïga
Tel. +33 1 44 30 18 18
a.maiga@theafricaceoforum.com 
0
Read More
Washington DC To Host EnergyNet’s 3rd Powering Africa Summit In March
January 18, 2017 | 0 Comments
Amidst the wait for US foreign policy decisions, proactive energy sector leaders from Africa get set to return to Washington DC for EnergyNet’s 3rd Powering Africa Summit this March
The Summit is supported again by Power Africa, the U.S. government interagency created to establish 60 million new household and business connections by 2030

The annual Powering Africa Summit  returns to Washington DC this March providing a platform for Africa’s energy sector stakeholders and developers to engage multilaterals, global investors and technology providers. The meeting will present backbone energy and infrastructure projects to the most proactive partners.

The Summit in 2016 welcomed 620 attendees from 18 countries and whilst 65% of delegates originated from North America, investors from Europe and Asia also participated, seeking partnerships with leading technology companies, governmental agencies, the World Bank, IFC and others to drive forward their African projects already under development.

The Summit is supported again by Power Africa, the U.S. government interagency created to establish 60 million new household and business connections by 2030, aiding the potential to double the size of some African economies and the spending power of the projected 1.5bln people.

Also supporting the meeting is the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), US Africa Development Foundation and the US Africa Business Center (USABC). EnergyNet’s  Managing Director, Simon Gosling, commented; “It’s exciting to be working with the USABC this year. Their members are hugely significant along the energy value chain and clearly doubling efforts to get projects moving, bringing with them much needed bankability for the capitalisation of projects.

Senior decision-makers take part in a panel discussion at the Powering Africa: Summit in 2016

Senior decision-makers take part in a panel discussion at the Powering Africa: Summit in 2016

Equally exciting is the presence and potential of African gas to power projects. This year those attending will be exposed to crucial Gas-to-Power updates including South Africa’s gas procurement programme, which will create massive opportunities for the winning bidders and their technology partners. Additionally, as some countries struggle to stabilise investor confidence [including South Africa itself], their IPP procurement programme in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry could lead to some 50% of international capital flowing through the country in the coming years. Therefore taking this programme to the home of the World Bank only stresses further the confidence of the Minister, DOE and the procurement team itself – so personally I’m very excited.”

For more information about this meeting:
Meeting dates: 9-10 March 2017
Venue: Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C., USA
Website: www.PoweringAfrica-Summit.com
Contact: Amy Offord – Marketing Manager
Email: Amy.Offord@EnergyNet.co.UK
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7384 8068

0
Read More
The Gambia’s president declares state of emergency
January 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has declared a 90-day state of emergency a day before his official mandate ends.

He decried “extraordinary” foreign interference in his country’s affairs and December’s election.

Yahya Jammeh seized power in the tiny West African country in 1994

Yahya Jammeh seized power in the tiny West African country in 1994

Regional leaders have been unsuccessfully trying to persuade Mr Jammeh to hand over power to Adama Barrow, who won the polls.

The move comes after Nigeria deployed a warship to put further pressure on Mr Jammeh to step down.

Regional bloc Ecowas, the Economic Community of West African States, has prepared a Senegal-led force but maintains that military intervention would be a last resort.

In his televised announcement, Mr Jammeh said “any acts of disobedience to the laws The Gambia, incitement of violence and acts intended to disturb public order and peace” are banned under the state of emergency.

He said security forces were instructed to “maintain absolute peace, law and order”.

Earlier, the National Assembly passed a motion condemning what it called the “unlawful and malicious interference” of the African Union and the country’s neighbour, Senegal, in The Gambia’s affairs.

Ministerial resignations

Mr Barrow, a property developer, is meant to be inaugurated as the new president on Thursday. His spokesperson expressed shock and sadness at the declaration, says the BBC’s Umaru Fofana in Banjul, the capital.

It is remains unclear if a curfew is being imposed, our correspondent says.

Mr Jammeh initially accepted the election results but then decided he wanted them annulled after the electoral commission admitted some errors, although it insists this did not affect the final outcome.

The Supreme Court is unable to hear the challenge until May because of a shortage of judges, and Mr Jammeh has said he will not step down until then.

At least three Gambian ministers, including the foreign minister, have resigned in recent days. Thousands of Gambians have also fled to Senegal, and further afield to Guinea-Bissau, amid fears of violence.

Map of The Gambia

BBC Africa security correspondent Tomi Oladipo says the Nigerian warship is being deployed to put on a show of strength rather than to launch an attack.

A military source says that the vessel – the NNS Unity – is currently sailing off the coast of Ghana.

Senegal is leading Ecowas’ standby regional force and is also preparing its ground troops ahead of Thursday’s deadline.

The Gambia’s small army is not expected to put up a fight in the event of an intervention, but even if it did, its forces would be quickly overrun, our security correspondent says.

In the December polls, Mr Barrow won 43.3% of the vote compared with Mr Jammeh’s 39.6%. A third candidate, Mama Kandeh, got 17.1%.

Yahya Jammeh seized power in the tiny West African country in 1994 and has been accused of human rights abuses, although he has held regular elections.

The African Union has said it will no longer recognise Mr Jammeh’s authority after his term ends. Mr Barrow is currently in Senegal.

Mourning president-elect’s son after dog attack

Habibu BarrowImage copyrightDR ISATOU TOURAY/FACEBOOK

There has been an outpouring of grief over the death of Mr Barrow’s eight-year-old son – and many Gambians on social media have been changing their profile photos to his image to show their sympathy.

Habibu Barrow died in hospital after being bitten by a dog on Sunday at his aunt’s house in Fajara, a coastal resort near Banjul. He was mauled by the dog and sustained a head injury.

Many residences in Fajara, an upmarket area, have security dogs to ward off intruders.

Mr Barrow was unable to attend Monday’s funeral as he intends to remain in neighbouring Senegal until his return on Thursday for his swearing-in. But his second wife Sarjo, Habibu’s mother, was there along with her two other children.

Since Mr Jammeh announced he was contesting the vote on 9 December, Mr Barrow, a devout Muslim with two wives, moved his children to stay with relatives for safety.

*BBC

0
Read More
1 173 174 175 176 177 183