President elect Trump with President Obama at a press appearance after post election meeting
Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election means an uncertain future for Africa.
His rival Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a landslide – at least among those in Barack Obama’s ancestral village in western Kenya.
The mock poll in Kogelo gave Mr Trump just a quarter of the votes in a place he might not have heard of, were it not for his accusations that it was the outgoing president’s birthplace.
“The people of Kogelo are very much annoyed,” said one resident.
“Being a woman of great substance and Donald Trump being a reality show personality… Clinton should have won,” said one another.
But they would say that – President-elect Trump won’t get anything like the reception President Obama received last year when he came to Kenya.
He had strong connections here – his father was Kenyan – and he launched his Power Africa project, which aims to double the number of people with electricity across the continent.
President George W Bush brought the continent the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) – which provided millions of people with the drugs to help them fight HIV.
The US spends billions in Africa through aid and investment, but there is uncertainty over what Mr Trump will do, or even how much he knows about the continent.
“Trump has said very little about Africa – I don’t think he knows much about Africa,” said Jakkie Cilliers, chairman of the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), a think tank in South Africa.
“It is just not on his radar – it seems like he will be an insular president focused on US interests – in some sense, isolationist.”
He questioned what it might mean for Pepfar or the African Growth and Opportunities Act (known as Agoa – a hugely valuable American free trade deal with African countries), and efforts to tackle malaria.
“The fact he doesn’t know that much is perhaps our best protection,” said Mr Cilliers, only half joking.
Trump’s bulging in-box
The other key pillar of America’s involvement in Africa is security.
The US military footprint has slowly and secretly been spreading across the continent in reaction to radical Islamist militants.
There are drone bases and special forces troops watching, and acting against so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda linked groups across the continent.
The key things that need to be in the new President Trump’s Africa in-box include:
Islamist militants and people-smugglers operating in the Sahel region of the southern Sahara desert who are moving weapons and migrants into Libya
Who benefits from withdrawal from the International Criminal Court as a response to the double standards and asymmetrical power relations in global politics? Leaving the ICC erodes international criminal jurisdiction and thereby the protection of people further, especially on a continent where no other local, regional or continental court with a similar mandate exists.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) was created to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
It can only bring individual perpetrators to task. A total of 124 countries ratified the Rome Statute, and brought the ICC into existence. 34 African states were the biggest continental bloc of signatories. Who is accountable?
The ICC’s jurisdiction is limited to citizens of countries, which ratified the statute. None of the big powers were among these. In contrast, African governments took African perpetrators to task. As a result, the ICC almost exclusively investigated and prosecuted crimes on the continent.
But the ICC not only prosecuted rebel leaders. It also investigated the responsibility of heads of state in acts of mass violence, such as Sudanese president al-Bashir or Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta. This reinforced the feeling that the powerful in the world are the only ones setting the rules of the game.
After years of dissatisfaction, African states terminated their obligations to be held accountable. Burundi, South Africa and Gambia announced their withdrawal in October. Burundi and Gambia border on domestic policy towards so-called rogue states at a high cost to their own citizenry.
In contrast, Botswana, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia expressed their regrets over these withdrawals. What about Namibia?
Tanzania seems to differ with President Hage Geingob since his state visit to Tanzania last year when he lobbied for the exit. In his speech at the AU Summit in August 2015, when he praised Robert Mugabe as role model, he lashed out against the ICC as an abomination, in which “you have the right to quit since it has ceased serving its intended purpose.”
On 23 November 2015, Namibia’s minister of information, Tjekero Tweya, announced that government had decided to withdraw from the ICC as part of a reformulation of its foreign policy.
But who benefits from such withdrawals as a response to the double standards and asymmetrical power relations in global politics?
Leaving the ICC erodes international criminal jurisdiction and thereby the protection of people further, especially on a continent where no other local, regional or continental court with a similar mandate exists. The SADC Tribunal as the only one of its kind was, with support of Namibia, closed when its judges ruled against the Zimbabwean government.
Being confronted with a highly flawed international system, where the rule of law all too often degenerates into the law of the rulers, should have different consequences. One should rather demand that only ICC member states have a say over its matters and decide if and when it executes its jurisdiction.
After all, EU member states (or those members of any other body, be it international, or even the local football club) would rightly so dismiss any influence or claim by non-members over their authority to decide and act.
This would mean that three of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (notably China, Russia and the USA) would disqualify to refer matters to the ICC. Meanwhile, four of the permanent members are currently accused of war crimes outside their territories, and should therefore be investigated by the ICC, if it had the power to do so.
Being unable to prosecute the imperialist aggressors of this world, however, should not let the al-Bashirs go off the hook. International solidarity with whom?
Such advocacy would recognise and live up to the kind of international solidarity which had organised worldwide support for the resistance of people on the African continent against colonialism. Apartheid, for that matter, was declared by the United Nations a crime against humanity.
Such solidarity and a global governance system guided by normative frameworks rooted in the UN Charter and related conventions were, after all, not ideological humbug or completely ineffective.
Those states and policy makers who lower their levels of advocating human dignity and rights and compromise justice for the sake of convenience as a misnomer of solidarity with the wicked and evil have often forgotten that they earlier on were beneficiaries of a similar uncompromising siding with what is right in the face of wrong.
Not that this is missing from the official rhetoric. Namibia’s President stated on 29 September 2015 at the UN General Assembly: “Namibia is a child of international solidarity, midwifed by the United Nations. As Namibians, we are both grateful and proud of the support we received from the international community, through the United Nations system, during our struggle for independence.”
And he also claimed that “Africa has turned a new leaf, bidding farewell to the days of coups d’état and embracing electoral democracy. We, as Africans, through the African Union, have ostracised those who come to office through unlawful ways.”
Addressing the General Assembly on 21 September 2016, Geingob reiterated, “global solidarity is needed for us to effectively respond to the needs of our fellow human beings.”
The decisive question to answer, therefore, remains: solidarity with whom – the rotten apples in the basket, or the ordinary people suffering and victimised by those who do not care for their lives? – Which side are we on? * Pambazuka.Henning Melber is director emeritus and senior adviser of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and senior research associate of the Nordic Africa Institute, both in Uppsala, Sweden; a senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies/University of London and extraordinary professor at the University of Pretoria and the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. He joined Swapo in 1974. This article previously appeared in The Namibian.
Constitutional referendums are becoming a regular fixture of African politics. Next up is Ivory Coast, which on Sunday holds a vote on a new draft constitution. President Alassane Ouattara wants to scrap a controversial rule that says the president’s parents must have been born in the country—a stipulation that twice stopped the former IMF economist from running (he was later cleared to stand under the terms of a peace plan).
The change is overdue: tensions between narrowly defined Ivorians and those, like Mr Ouattara, with roots in neighbouring Burkina Faso contributed to civil war in the 2000s. But critics cite a lack of public consultation, and fret that the changes will allow Mr Ouattara to install a hand-picked successor before he stands down in 2020.
Debate has been acrimonious, with 23 opposition parties rejecting the draft. Ivory Coast remains a relatively peaceful (if fragile) democracy in an unstable region; Ivorians will hope Sunday’s vote doesn’t change that.
The African Media Initiative (AMI) will on 10 to 11 November 2016 host the Reporting Africa conference 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya in a bid to explore how African media covers the continent beyond national borders.
According to Eric Chinje, AMI CEO, the conference will also explore how international media portrays the continent.
The conference will also focus on findings of a research that AMI has carried out on coverage of issues affecting the African continent.
Chinje said that his organisation has made plans for the forthcoming discussion to be graced by some of the top editors from all the 54 African countries.
This is also expected to facilitate wide ranging debate and deliberations on issues related to media coverage of the continent.
This is also expected to chart a new way forward for media organisations in Africa to play a more positive role in the continent’s development agenda.
Geneva — African countries are boosting intra-regional trade and deepening economic integration at a time when politicians in the global North are raising doubts about the benefits of trade, says the head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi told the World Trade Organization’s annual public forum in Geneva: “Africa is widely noted for its low levels of intra-regional trade, but in fact the levels are much higher when North Africa is removed from the analysis.”
Speaking at a session on inclusive trade at the recent forum, he said economic integration will be key to Africa’s long-term success and African nations must integrate more.
“Africa has to know that there is no part of the world which has been successful in trading globally without learning first to trade with its neighbors,” Dr. Kituyi said.
UNCTAD says that in East Africa, intra-regional trade is closer to 26 percent, the same level as in Latin America.
At the opening of the forum, Nigeria’s Trade and Investment Minister, Okechukwu E. Enelamah, presented remarks for President Muhammadu Buhari which underlined the importance of an inclusive trade agenda.
“This is a key question, particularly at this moment, when leaders are grappling with the challenge and consequences of inequality which has emerged as a major risk to peace and security,” Enelamah said.
“Nigeria believes that a meaningful approach to inclusive trade will combine action by multilateral institutions for updated and more flexible rules, on the one hand, with acceptance of responsibility for serious and sustained domestic policy reforms by member states, on the other hand.”
The minister highlighted efforts the Nigerian government has made to create an enabling environment for business, including the recent ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
The TFA will significantly reduce trade costs for businesses in developing countries, particularly for SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and is also expected to help unblock logjams in intraregional trading.
Enelamah said Nigeria has also established itself as an African start-up center for high-tech firms and the WTO can be supportive on this point by developing an “unfettered” platform for the internet economy.
Meanwhile, preparations continue for the Continental Free Trade Area, bringing together more than one billion people in 54 African countries with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion.
Kituyi said the CFTA was unlikely to be launched in 2017 as originally planned, but the target had helped to move the project forward.
“I had the privilege to visit 16 African presidents to talk to them about the CFTA and I am satisfied that a large number of the political leadership believes in the future and the need for African integration.”
Change is already happening. In the space of a year, the time required to move a container from Mombasa in Kenya to Kampala in Uganda has dropped from 48 days to four. “That is progress.”
Africa’s largest economic sector, its extractive industries, has not created enough jobs on the continent. More intra-African trade will lead to fairer, more equitable, growth, and the creation of more and better jobs.
Dr. Kituyi said there are limits to regional integration, however. He noted Switzerland has prospered without joining the European Union.
And although a single African currency is politically attractive, it cannot be effective without an effective mechanism to discipline public deficits.
Despite the reservations of some politicians, trade is a powerful driver of jobs, economic growth, and achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“Trade is not just about statistics on goods and services. It is also about people,” Kituyi said. “And for me, trade integration is most exciting whenever it creates more jobs.”
At the forum the WTO launched a new publication entitled “African Perspectives on Trade and the WTO.”
The book – co-published by the WTO and Cambridge University Press – examines how enhanced participation in world trade could help Africa achieve further growth and emphasizes the need for the continent to undertake structural reforms to underpin its economic transformation.
Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara addresses the Ivorian parliament during the presentation of a new constitution in Abidjan, Oct. 5, 2016
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara presented the draft of the new constitution to parliament Wednesday. Among the reforms is the removal of a clause that helped trigger civil war five years ago.
The clause, Article 35, required that both parents of presidential candidates be natural-born Ivory Coast citizens, according to Reuters. The new constitution would soften that rule.
“The spirit of this draft for the new constitution is to reinforce social cohesion, to assure our country peace and stability,” Ouattara said. “It is also the opportunity to definitely move on from the past crisis that our country went through.”
Ouattara himself was blocked from several presidential elections by claims his parents were foreigners, thus rendering him ineligible to run.
But the opposition denounced the draft, which would create a deputy president and a Senate, saying it was not the result of a national consensus and was being forced through.
“We all agree on the reform of Article 35 since we all signed the [Linas-Marcoussis] peace deal,” said opposition member Pascal Affi N’Guessan, from the Ivorian Popular Front party. “But the peace deal didn’t say we had to write a new constitution entirely, or that we should implement bicameralism.”
He said Ouattara “betrays the spirit of the peace deal, he manipulates it … for personal gains.”
The draft also removes the age limit of 75 for presidential candidates. Some members of the opposition argue that Ouattara, 74, might have removed the age limit in order to seek a third term in 2020. But the new constitution stipulates the president is only re-eligible once.
Parliament has until October 15 to approve the draft, then the text will be submitted to Ivorian voters during a referendum October 30.
FILE – Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara speaks during his inauguration ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Nov. 3, 2015.
Ivory Coast voters will decide this month whether to soften a nationality clause that helped trigger a decade-long political crisis, a draft of a new constitution showed Monday.
President Alassane Ouattara promised during his campaign for re-election last year to change the language of an article in the constitution which states the parents of presidential candidates must both be natural-born Ivorians.
Ivorian nationality was at the heart of a crisis that began with a 1999 coup and included a 2002-2003 civil war that split the country in two for eight years.
The proposed revision to the constitution, seen by Reuters and due to be presented to parliament on Wednesday, means only one parent must now be “Ivorian by origin,” a term that excludes naturalized citizens.
Ivory Coast has long attracted immigrants from neighboring countries, and the clause became a symbol of exclusion, particularly of northerners whose family ties often straddle regional borders.
Ouattara, a northerner, was repeatedly barred from seeking the presidency because of what opponents said were his foreign origins.
He finally won election in 2010, although his victory sparked a second brief war that killed more than 3,000 people.
The new constitution, which will go to a public referendum Oct. 30, also removes an age limit of 75 for presidential candidates.
All three of Ivory Coast’s main political figures — Ouattara and former presidents Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bedie — will be older than 75 in 2020, when the next elections are due.
New language also makes it easier to change the constitution.
It lowers the number of votes required for revisions submitted directly for approval by parliament to two-thirds of MPs from four-fifths, and removes a clause requiring a public referendum for any changes to presidential mandates.
Other major changes include creating a post of vice president and a Senate.
Currently, the speaker of parliament is second in line to the president, but the constitution states that new elections must be organized within 90 days, a time frame critics say is unworkable.
Under the new charter, the vice president would finish the mandate if the president died or was incapacitated while in office.
The creation of the Senate, which together with the existing National Assembly will make up a two-chamber Congress, marks an expansion of the president’s influence over the legislative branch of government.
A third of senators will be appointed by the president. The remaining two-thirds will be chosen in an indirect election process, details of which must be worked out in a separate law.
Ivory Coast’s opposition has criticized the drafting process for the new constitution, claiming it lacked transparency. It had called a sit-in in front of parliament on Wednesday, when Ouattara will put the changes to lawmakers, but municipal authorities said the demonstration was not authorized.
Ivory Coast defeated four-time champions Ghana after a penalty shootout in Equatorial Guinea last year to win the Africa Cup of Nations tournament a second time (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)
Johannesburg (AFP) – Title-holders Ivory Coast, hosts Gabon and former champions Algeria and Ghana were named Tuesday as the top seeds for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Ivory Coast defeated four-time champions Ghana after a penalty shootout in Equatorial Guinea last year to win the African football showpiece a second time.
Algeria conquered Africa when they hosted the biennial competition in 1990 while the quarter-finals is the furthest Gabon have progressed.
Gabon, co-hosts of the 2012 Cup of Nations with Equatorial Guinea, stage the 2017 finals from January 14 to February 5 in Libreville, Franceville, Port Gentil and Oyem.
Libreville, capital of the small, oil-rich central African state, hosts the October 19 draw that will split the 16 contenders into four groups with winners and runners-up securing quarter-finals places.
While three former champions, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia, are notable absentees, the third seeds for Gabon illustrate the strength of the line-up.
Record seven-time champions Egypt, Cameroon and Morocco have lifted the trophy and Senegal lost on penalties in the 2002 final.
All four countries are potential 2017 champions, as are second seeds Tunisia, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The lowest seeds include first-time qualifiers Guinea-Bissau, shock winners of a qualifying group that included Congo Brazzaville, Kenya and Zambia.
Pot 1: Gabon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria
Pot 2: Tunisia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, September 21, 2016 – NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department has convened a two-day meeting on September 27-28, at the African Development Bank (AfDB) headquarters in Abidjan, with development partners, the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), government officials and representatives of customs and revenue authorities to discuss a more coordinated approach to the management of West African corridors.
The two-day event, jointly organized by the AfDB, ECOWAS, the Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) project, and the NPCA, seeks to bring together all stakeholders, financiers and technicians to help streamline views, review the latest corridor performance metrics and foster synergies and create a platform for better co-ordination and efficiency in West African Corridor development and management.
“This critical meeting is in line with the Bank’s commitment to promote efficient transport corridors in West Africa and support Africa’s regional integration agenda for inclusive economic growth. At the end of the meeting, we hope to be better equipped to improve the conditions of shippers, transporters and traders in West Africa when they engage in cross-border trade,” said Moono Mupotola, Director of the AfDB’s NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department.
The meeting will be structured around two key initiatives that aim at promoting dialogue between different stakeholders involved in the projects. The first day will be dedicated to the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor development led by the AfDB, the ECOWAS Commission and the NPCA, while discussions on the Day 2 will focus on the three corridors covered by the Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) project, namely Abidjan-Ouagadougou, Tema-Ouagadougou and Lomé-Ouagadougou.
The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor, a flagship project of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), is the busiest corridor in West Africa. The six-lane, 1,028-kilometre highway will connect Abidjan, Accra, Lomé, Cotonou and Lagos, while serving landlocked countries and ports in the region. The corridor is one of the main economic drivers of West Africa with over 75% of economic activities in the ECOWAS region and a total population of 35 million inhabitants.
Experts agree that support to regional trade and integration in West Africa is substantial but fragmented. The meeting is therefore timely to ensure that the approach to the development of corridors is coherent and inclusive of all key players.
Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) is an initiative funded by the Danish and Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs aiming to establish a durable, multi-donor vehicle dedicated to advancing regional integration, expanding trade and lowering costs along key trade routes in West Africa.
ATWA takes inspiration from East Africa, where eight development partners have pooled their support and established a single non-profit organisation working across the East African Community (EAC) to further its integration agenda. The organisation, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), is a technical partner of the ATWA Project.
The ATWA Project Team will present analysis detailing the performance of selected West African corridors for formal and informal traders, and seek input from participants as to what activities and programmes could be elaborated to improve the situation.
Given the veritable platform that it promises to be, the AfDB intends to take lead and continually play host to this coordination process in order to streamlining efforts and activities among development partners and other stakeholders in the region.
Abou Dieng CEO and President of Global Green International Holdings LLC believes that Africa is the next destination
With its buying power combined with expertise and knowledge, the Diaspora is Africa’s could be Africa’s secret weapon says Abou Dieng, Director of EMONECO, a publicly traded financial company on the US-Stock. Dieng, originally from Senegal would rather be referred to as African because to him, the boundaries are artificial and Africans are one people.
Dieng, who is also CEO and President of Global Green International Holdings LLC, Executive Director and Ambassador for Africa of Global Treasury Supreme Trust believes that more needs to be done to extend banking services to the broader African population especially in rural areas.
A member of Arizona’s Who’s Who Top 100 Executives, Mr. Dieng has been invited to the White House to discuss the new Immigration Bill, S-744 and works extensively with The US State Department’s African Desk, and has more than 20 years of experience in Finance and International market development.
Strongly attached to his roots, Mr Dieng was closely linked with the organization of the World Pan-African Congress in Atlanta GA in 2003, the International Summit of Descendants of African Kings and Queens in Atlanta, GA, the First ECOWAS US-Africa Textile Tradeshow in Indiana and many other Africa themed events.
His current projects revolve around opportunities for hundreds of millions of Africans with no access to formal banking images, and rebranding Africa, a media project to showcase the unseen side and unheard side of Africa to the world.
Mr Dieng you are President and CEO of Global Green International Holdings, may we know about your company and what services it offers?
Well first of, I would like to thank you for your time and the great work you are doing in keeping us informed for almost a decade with the PanAfricanVisions News website.
My company Global Green International is a Holding Group is comprised of many companies 100% geared towards the development of the African Continent. I started building this company as a consulting company in 1995, then got into mining, agriculture, and started doing acquisition of other technology companies in 2002. We acquired a Housing System Technology that can produce 150 homes a month using concrete and cement. In 2010, in partnership with Katec Group, we started developing an educational system based on tablets and a proprietary closed circuit telecommunication system. In 2014 we partnered with Phoenix Renewable Technologies to introduce Waste to Energy to Africa. Today we are also involved in Media with our Rebranding Africa Project with East West Communication, Digital Banking with Emoneco, Mining and Petroleum. Over the years, we have developed great relationships with more than 600 banks around the world, and we work with the World Bank, IMF, Millennium Challenge Corporation, United Nations, African Union. We have office presence in 10 countries including US, Switzerland and Africa, we have done business in 29 African countries and have interest in 45.
You are of Senegalese descent and apparently very proud of your African heritage, what did it take for Mr Dieng to get to where he is,we ask the question because there are struggling African immigrants who could learn from your success.
Well, anyone who is successful today will tell you that Success is the end result of Hard work, struggles and sacrifices. I have been there.
In october 1990, I remember having a conversation with someone in the NYC subway and he asked me what country I was from? I said Senegal. He asked where is Senegal? I said West Africa. Is Senegal poor or rich he asked? I said poor. Do you have land he asked? I said Yes. Do you have rain or running water for agriculture? I said Yes. How about Natural Resources, do you have any? I said Yes. Do you have access to the coast for fishing he asked? I said yes. Then he looked at me straight in the eyes and said to me: “My friend it is your fault if you are poor!” I remember this conversation as if it was yesterday, and my world was turned upside down, It seemed like I was just given a knock out punch, and for days I tried to figure out something. For someone who love Africa like me, I took it personal to change that and I started putting together a game plan and “blue print” for the development of Africa.I made a decision to dedicate the rest of my life for the development of Africa. I wanted to be part of the actors of the development and a role model. I dropped everything I was doing and went to school. I started putting together a blue print and a plan to follow. After school I traveled extensively to Africa. I divided the continent in five regions (West, North, East, Central and South), and I divided every region in Industries (Housing, Energy, Finance, Agriculture, Mining, Healthcare….). Then I started putting together a quiet underground network of major players in those industries in those regions. This way I was aware of the problems in every part of the continent.
I went back to the US to start a company and surrounded myself with other companies that could offer solutions to African problems, and I never looked back.
So what you see today is the result of hard work, sacrifices, struggles, failures and starting overs, discipline and dedication. So to all my struggling African peers, my advice is to have a plan and follow it with dedication and discipline… You will be succesful.
We understand you did some mentorship for the Washington Mandela Fellowship also known as Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI Fellows) this year, can you share your experience with us and what impressions the YALI Fellows left on you?
Abou Dieng with Dana Hyde, CEO of MCC
I have known about this program now for a couple of years and I do have many Fellows who I am mentoring in my network. This Year I was invited by Arizona State University to teach a Leadership Class to the Fellows in Phoenix and it was a great experience to share my activities and meet 50 young leaders from different African countries. Everyone of these leaders reminded me of myself when I started my journey. It also gives me hope that what Global Green is building now will be duplicated in many countries, and these Fellows will continue the journey to develop Africa.
Overall, what do you think that particular program, we mean the YALI program could do in changing the fortunes of Africa?
When President Obama started this Initiative, it is designed to empower Young Africans to be more involved in building their communities and give them the leadership training they need to become good leaders. However, after the training is done and the certificates are framed, what each and every Fellow does is what will eventually determine the success of this program. The program by itself is just an initiative. It’s like you buy your kid a brand new car with all the latest techonologies, and they decide to park it on the driveway. Unless your kid decides to put the car on the road and put the metal to the ground, you will not know what impact it will have. Each Fellow needs to understand that they are the hope of their community and when they get back home from the training, they are the light of that community and they need to apply the 3i process: Inspire, Influence and Impact the community. And collectively we can be the light in many parts of Africa.
As the first African American President of the United States, what legacy do you think Mr Obama will leave for Africa, did anything change for Africa in his Presidency?
During his Presidency , President Obama has visited more countries in Africa than any other American President before him. He also started different programs like the US-Africa summit, the Lighting Africa Project, the Washington-Mandela Fellowship… These are all great programs that can contribute to better business relationships between the US and Africa. However, The meaningfull changes that will help develop Africa, will be initiated in Africa, by Africans. So our Presidents in Africa need to be Leaders and Visionaries at the same time, even if it may feel uncomfortable at times.
In a recent interview with AfricanNews, you expressed concerns on the population of Africa that does not have access to Banking, what suggestions is Mr Dieng bringing to the table to improve the situation?
A big part of the African population don’t have access to Banking, yet the economy in africa is projected to reach $29 Trillion by 2030. Banks usually have very complicated process just to open an account. So Emoneco, one of the companies I am involved with as Member of the Board of Director has created a solution that combine the latest technologies in Finance, Banking and Telecom to offer a real time payment solution and can use your cell phone number as your bank account with a triple layer of security and a backup bank card. People like retirees will get their pension payments on their cell phone, Government workers, military, can get pay on their cell phone, students can receive their educational grants on their cell phone. Specialists in this sector have done an indepth eveluation of our system and concluded that we are 7 to 10 years ahead of everyone in this industry. This solution will help millions of Africans to have access to banking in the next 18 to 24 month, governments will save money and increase revenues and GDPs will increase as well.
You are also working on the a concept to rebrand Africa, why is this important and what plans do you have to make these concepts realities?
With Thione Niang at the White House,the diaspora could be Africa’s secret weapon says Abou Dieng
To this day most investors don’t want to go to Africa and this is the direct result of the negative image the media is showing about Africa. So we decided to change that by starting a Rebranding Africa project. We picked the country that was the poorest country for decades and decided to rebrand it. My friend and partner Thomas who is the CEO of East West Communication travelled to Equatorial Guinea and put together a video showcasing all positive realisations of the government. During my Leadership conference at Arizona State University, I asked the question if anyone was interested to go to Equatorial Guinea, no one wanted to go, I asked the same question 10 minutes later after I played the video, and everyone wanted to go. That’s the reaction we want to create. This rebranding program has many phases. We want to show the best image of every country starting from the Embassy by creating a high quality investment magazine, a dvd investment portfolio, a tourist program, a new website and 3 to 4 investment trips to the country. We will work hand and hand with the governments to bring our expertise and help them create an Emerging Economic Plan for their country. The highlight of the plan is that we are able to guaranty investments to the country that follow our program. You can view this video for Equator Guinea at www.EGVistas.com
On and how and what the diaspora can do to contribute to a more meaningful way to change the fortunes of Africa, any recommendations you have in mind?
The Diaspora constitute the secret weapon of Africa for two reasons:
The buying power; For example the Senegalese Diaspora sent back to Senegal in 2015 more than $800 million to family and friends. We are working with major financial institutions to setup an Investment fund fully funded by the Diaspora, and we can use that to finance major projects in
Expertise and knowledge: the majority of people in the Diaspora went to school and have some sort of qualification or experience that can benefit the country of origine. This will eventually be the source of new entreprenorship, job creation….
If there is a way to bring all the Diaspora into a Federated African Diaspora we can have access to funding for our own project.
To those who look around the continent and see the bad infrastructure, the galloping unemployment, the electoral violence with the recent example of Gabon, the corruption and more, how does Abou Dieng sustain the case that Africa has potential and is indeed the continent of the future?
We all know that Africa has billions of tons of natural resources that are still not exploited, and we have many more natural resources that are not even discovered yet. If you take a nation like the Republic of Guinea, this nation alone has enough natural resources that can develop the entire continent. I can say the same thing for other nations like Liberia, Sierra Leone, both Congos, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana, South Africa, and the list goes on. So the potential from the exploitation of the natural resources alone is very exciting.
Other factors that will make a big difference are the potential in Education, Agriculture and Manufacturing. Africa is at the same level where India was 25 years ago in terms of wanting to increase the education level of the population. Africa is at the same level where China was in the 1980s with the Agriculture needs and investment. Africa is also at the same level where Turkey and Mexico were 15 years ago in terms of Manufacturing increasing investments. So if you combine those 3 levels of readiness, you can conclude that Africa is heading to the same path that led India to its boom because of Education, Africa is heading to the same path that led China to its boom in Agriculture and Industrization , and Africa is heading to the same path that led Mexico and Turkey to their boom in Manufacturing. This is exciting.
With Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona
But the most exciting factor yet for Africa is its young population. As Walt Disney once said “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children”. More than 60% of Africans are between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. The number of young Africans is going to continue to get bigger year after year till 2050. The Middle Class is growing and the urbanisation rate is at 37% just like China and bigger than India. This is why I can say that Africa will be where Turkey and Mexico are today in the next 10 years and where China is today in the next 20 years. Demographie is destiny.
Finally, we can also mentione that we have better quality of Leaderships now, and they are putting the right reforms for economic growth. The debt level is low 10 t0 30% to GDP in most African countries compare to 130% to GDP in China, more than 200% to GDP in US, UK and Spain.
So when you put together all of these factors that I mentione, Economic growth becomes inevitable.
Thank you Mr. Dieng for your sharing your vision with us. Before we conclude, on a personal note, can you talk about the recent attacks regarding your person and your divorce.
Thank you again for this opportunity to talk about my passion that is Africa.
There is a trend I have been noticing for a while, and now I find myself in it. More and more I see succesful African businesmen brought down by ex wife who are going after them for monetary gains. Unfortunately many of them end up losing everything. Success makes you an easy target.
Regarding my divorce, you are right, there are malicious attacks rescently that are very disturbing. This divorce was filed in Arizona by my ex wife back in 2007 to take over 50% of my networth according to Arizona laws. Unsatisfied with the results, my ex wife filed another law suit in a smaller court to claim that I abandoned her and my 3 kids for 32 months and she requested $2000/ month for child support and $1000/ month for alimony. When this law suit was filled I was in Africa and my 3 kids were with me in Senegal. Once the suit is filled the court gives you 30 days to respond, and since I was in Senegal and in fact didn’t know anything about the law suit, I didn’t file a response in time and she was given a judgement by default, and overnight I owe her $96,000 plus fees and penalties. This is unfortunate, but this was done since 2010. And my ex wife and I are in good terms since then for the sake of the kids and I am taking care of my kids who I am very closed with.
Recently a powerful group doing business in Africa approached me to join forces with then, but I refused. I cannot join forces with a group that does not have the best interest of Africans in mind. A week before my leadership conference at Arizona State University, the attacks started and this group is spending a lot of money to try to tarnish my image and to discredit me thus the recent attacks. I am glad to say that in 26 years doing business in the US, I always focus on being my best and the fact that they are out trying to attack me, this only confirms to me that I am on the right path and I will continue to fight for the Emergence of Africa.
One last advice to all my fellow Africans: we need all hands on desk to develop Africa, and “the best way to predict the future is to create it”.
FILE – An elephant crosses a road made for Safari vehicles as tourists take photos in Tarangire National Park on the outskirts of Arusha, northern Tanzania, Jan. 16, 2015.
South Africa, Ghana and Senegal rake in cash from their tourism industries, but not Africa’s second-largest economy, Nigeria. A report released this week suggests tourists may pick where to visit based on how easily they can get visas.
Ghana and Nigeria are often seen as sister countries in West Africa. But one way they diverge is in their success at attracting visitors.
A report released by London’s Renaissance Capital this week says Nigeria gets about $500 million in revenue from tourism each year. That is just 0.1 percent of its $481 billion economy.
Ghana, in contrast, reaps a huge benefit from the tourist trade, according to Renaissance Capital global chief economist Charles Robertson.
“Now 0.1 percent of GDP is so much, so much lower than say Ghana, a couple of countries away, which gets over two percent of GDP, in fact it is 25 times more money, relatively, in Ghana than Nigeria,” said Robertson.
Ghana, in fact, ranks among the continent’s best tourism performers, along with Tanzania, Rwanda and Senegal. Nigeria is near the bottom, second only to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
These countries practice varying forms of democracy. But that is not what brings in tourists, Robertson says. Morocco and Jordan are monarchies and also major tourist destinations.
The continent’s top attractions are also free of the war and insecurity that pervades some African states. But that is not what attracts tourists either. South Africa is home to some of the most dangerous cities in the world but still gets between two and three percent of its GDP from tourism.
Robertson said people travel to countries like Senegal and Tanzania because they are easy to get in to.
“A lot of the countries that do well from tourism have a very easy visa regime,” said Robertson.
Rwanda recently overhauled its visa process to increase access, and is seeing benefits, Robertson said.
“They have introduced this open visa regime system as well, and they get four percent of GDP. That is at least 40 times more than what Nigeria does,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s official tourism website does not even work, and visa costs can run into the hundreds of dollars.
Robertson says some African countries maintain tight visa requirements because their own citizens face onerous processes to get visas to other countries.
But with Nigeria’s economy in a recession, thanks in part to drops in the price and production of the country’s top export, oil, Robertson said growth in Nigeria’s tourism sector could only help.
Vitol, Trafigura, Addax & Oryx and Lynx Energy have been named because they are shareholders of the fuel retailers.
Trafigura and Vitol say the report is misconceived and retailers work within legal limits enforced in the countries.
Three of the distribution companies mentioned in the report have responded by saying that they meet the regulatory requirements of the market and have no vested interest in keeping sulphur levels higher than they need to be.
Although this is within the limits set by national governments, the sulphur contained in the fumes from the diesel fuel could increase respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis in affected countries, health experts say.
Why are regulations so lax?
The picture is changing but there are still several African countries which allow diesel to have a sulphur content of more than 2,000 parts per million (ppm), with some allowing more than 5,000ppm, whereas the European standard is less than 10ppm.
Rob de Jong from the UN Environment Programme (Unep) told the BBC that there was a lack of awareness among some policy makers about the significance of the sulphur content.
For a long time countries relied on colonial-era standards, which have only been revised in recent years.
Another issue is that in the countries where there are refineries, these are unable, for technical reasons, to reduce the sulphur levels to the standard acceptable in Europe. This means that the regulatory standard is kept at the level that the refineries can operate at.
Some governments are also worried that cleaner diesel would be more expensive, therefore pushing up the price of transport.
But Mr De Jong argued that the difference was minimal and oil price fluctuations were much more significant in determining the diesel price.
What’s so bad about sulphur?
The sulphur particles emitted by a diesel engine are considered to be a major contributor to air pollution, which the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks as one of the top global health risks.
It is associated with heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory problems.
The WHO says that pollution is particularly bad in low and middle income countries.
Reducing the sulphur content in diesel would go some way to reducing the risk that air pollution poses.
What’s being done about it?
Unep is at the forefront of trying to persuade governments to tighten up the sulphur content regulations and is gradually making progress.
In 2015, the East African Community introduced new regulations for Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. Diesel cannot now have more than 50ppm in those countries.
It is clear that the situation has improved since 2005.
Unep’s Jane Akumu is currently working with the West African regional grouping Ecowas and its Southern African counterpart Sadc to try and change the regulations there.
She told the BBC that she was optimistic that governments would bring down the legal sulphur limits as the arguments in favour are compelling.