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Gambia: Barrow Leaves for France
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

President Adama Barrow, accompanied by a high-powered delegation, this morning left for Paris, France, on a state visit upon the invitation of his French counterpart, President Franchois Hollande, the Office of the President has announced.

During the two-day visit, the Gambian leader is expected to discuss with his French counterpart areas of cooperation such as in the field of telecommunications, trade, energy and education.

With the new Gambia, the government can seek support and financial assistance to promote human rights and good governance in The Gambia.

From Paris, President Barrow will be going to Belgium, on 16 March, for a daylong visit, where he will discuss with members of the European Union financial support to boost The Gambia’s economy since he inherited “empty government coffers”.

 President Barrow would also discuss the reactivation of all the projects of the EU in The Gambia. During Jammeh’s 22-year rule, the relations between The Gambia and the EU was fragile.

New State House

Meanwhile, before travelling to France, yesterday he moved from Kairaba Hotel to the vice president’s residence in Fajara which he would be using as an office.

His Excellency the President and delegation departed Banjul International Airport at 3:00a.m in the early hours of today Tuesday, 14 March 2017, and those invited to see him off were requested to be at the airport half an hour before departure for the usual ceremonies.

*All Africa/The Point

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Africa: New Head of AU Commission
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Cristina Krippahl*

New African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat officially takes up his post on Tuesday. But who is Faki and what does he stand for?

Photo: allafrica.com

Photo: allafrica.com
African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat

A seasoned diplomat and politician, 56-year-old Moussa Faki Mahamat is no stranger to the challenges presented by the top job he was elected to on January 30. He is seen as the architect of Chad’s nomination to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member and also of the country’s presidency of the AU in 2016. He headed the AU Commission on Peace and Security at the Nairobi summit in 2013, which was dedicated to the fight against terrorism. Above all, as a former Chadian prime minister and current foreign minister he has had a decisive say in all the military and strategic operations his country was and is engaged in: Libya, Mali, South Sudan and Central African Republic, the Sahel and the Lake Chad region.

His election as chief executive of the AU thus indicates a very likely reorientation of AU policies towards issues of peace and security on the continent, Liesl Louw-Vaudran of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria told DW: “His country, Chad, is well known for seeing itself as a sort of champion of military intervention.”

 International approval

His predecessor, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was severely criticized for neglecting the pressing issues on the crisis-riven continent, preferring to concentrate on longterm plans of prosperity for Africa, not to mention her own political career at home. Moussa Faki, on the other hand, has already left a mark in the fight against terrorism, most notably as chairman of the council of ministers of the G5Sahel, a military anti-terror alliance made up of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, of which Ndjamena is the driving force.

His election to the AU Commission is likely to please both Europe and the United States of America, who support Chad in the fight against Boko Haram and other jihadist groups. Chad is also the headquarters of the French counterterrorism operation in the Sahel, Operation Barkhane.

Democracy not a priority

But not everybody welcomed the news. Doki Warou Mahamat, a Chadian who coordinated the campaign against Faki’s election, told DW: “Moussa Faki is on the payroll of a dictatorship. The Chadians are in a state of mourning. You have to clean up your own act before starting somewhere else.”

Moussa Faki is reputed to be very close to President Deby who was reelected in April 2016 for a fifth consecutive term. The outcome was widely criticized because of serious irregularities. Deby has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1990. Both are members of the Zaghawa ethnic group. Analysts note that Deby succeeded in placing a man he trusted at the helm of the AU on the same day that he handed over the rotating presidency of the organization to Guinea, showing the extent of Chad’s influence in the AU and on the continent.

Reforms in the offing

Nevertheless, Faki’s election was not a foregone conclusion. Internal rifts in the AU were highlighted in July 2016 when no candidate won the necessary two-thirds majority at a previous attempt to elect a chairperson, forcing Dlamini-Zuma to stay on for an extra six months. And early this year it took seven rounds of voting before Faki emerged as the winner ahead of Kenya’s Amina Mohamed, long considered the favorite.

While campaigning, Faki, who studied law in Brazzaville and Paris, said that as head of the AU Commission he would want a continent where “the sound of guns will be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories.” While he promised to put development and security at the top of the agenda during his four-year term, he might also want to go ahead with at least some of the reforms deemed necessary to make the organization more effective. “The AU chairperson should be able to make a stand and authorize the sending of AU troops in crisis situations. At the moment, the Commission is sort of beholden to the decision of the 55 member states. Basically, the Commission’s hands are tied,” expert Liesl Louw-Vaudran said. Being a man accustomed to power and who expects to be obeyed, it is likely that Faki will want to change that.

*DW/Allafrica

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Liberated Africa: Pathways to Self-Transformational Development
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ehiedu Iweriebor*

Ehiedu Iweriebor

Ehiedu Iweriebor

NEW YORK, United States of America, March 13, 2017/ — In the period since independence in the 1950s, Africa has undergone profound social, cultural, economic and political changes. Some inherited and historically rootless colonialist political and social systems have collapsed, been transcended and reconstituted. Different political systems – single party rule, personal rule and military governments have come and gone. New post-independence political and social systems; economic institutions, professional associations and labour unions, various types – traditional and new and varied cultural expressions have all emerged. Creative efforts to foster effective nation-building, develop a sense of belonging and manage diversity productively have also been made. New political systems, different forms of electoral democracy and democratic government;  political parties and groups, varied social and intelligentsia organizations, confident youth groups, civil society organizations are also emerging. Disruptive and traumatic political and social crises have occurred. These include civil wars, secessionist wars, famines, elite generated manipulative ethnicity and deadly intergroup conflicts, and recently home grown and imported religious terrorism and their destructive wars, spectacular damaging actions, the creation of refugees and internally displaced peoples and the generation of general feelings of insecurity.

Social development institutions like health and educational facilities that barely existed under colonialism have been built. For example, vast numbers of schools at all levels including universities and other tertiary institutions – conventional and specialized have been established and dot various parts of Africa. They have produced millions of educated Africans as never existed before in African history. New physical infrastructures: roads, railways, water ways and airports have been built. This is a rough profile of profound changes in Africa since the 1950s.

However, given Africa’s size and vast unmet human, social and economic needs there is no question that substantial as what has been built is, the extant physical and social infrastructures are not adequate or abundant enough.

At the same time, it is quite clear that the physical and social landscapes of Africa today are vastly different from what they were 60 years ago such that it is unlikely that people from those times will recognize Africa of today.

Yet it is also true that there are some aspects of African realities that have not changed substantively or for the better during this period because Africa did not regain, recover or assert its ownership and use of its autonomous self-direction capacities in some spheres over the past six decades. These are primarily in the areas of economic sovereignty, development capacitation, self-actuated development and ideological self-direction. This failure is manifested in such conditions as persistent underdevelopment, the pre-eminence of primary commodities production and export in its economic interactions with the world, import dependency, development incapacitation and poverty generation. It is also manifested in Africa’s ideological subordination to external diktat through the acceptance and implementation of the economic management dogmas and prescriptions of the multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank, IMF and similar bilateral external agencies. These prescribed non-development dogmas include: privatization, deregulation and African states self-withdrawal from promoting socio-economic development and the simultaneous promotion of the ascendancy of  “MARKET FORCES, FOREIGN INVESTORS, FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS and FOREIGN TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER ” as the primary and indispensable engines of African economic growth.

The forceful application of these disempowering dogmas through the active complicity of psychologically programmed and ideologically defeated African leaders and elite over the past three decades has yielded or in fact consolidated Africa in its status as under- developed, under-equipped and incapable of development self-propulsion. With African economies arrested in primary commodity export and the mass importation of manufactured goods they are mired in the same exocentric rut and this inevitably results in the export of jobs and import of poverty, therefore recurrent poverty-generation.

This condition and its persistence over this period suggest that IT CANNOT BE RESOLVED WITHIN ITSELF. It has to be transcended by African strategies of psycho-cultural recovery and development capacitation. Psycho-cultural recovery will entail the self-conscious efforts of liberated Africans to peel off the layers of self-deceit, self-delusion, psycho-ideological incapacitation, diminution of African self-worth, self-marginalization of African agency in African development. It would also require the expurgation from African leaderships and elite of their worshipful dependence on outsiders and preference for all things foreign including pre-fabricated solutions that have been introduced into Africa as dogmas of disempowerment and mechanisms of control from the slave trade era to the present. In its various incarnations, African disempowerment was partially procured through various  seemingly neutral but ultimately destructive external ideological constructs such as “Christianization”, “Islamization”; European “Civilization” during the colonial era; “Modernization” in the neo-colonial period after independence and its latest expression, as multilateral imperialist “globalism” and dictatorial globalization that ideologically and politically dictates a single, global capitalist and liberal democratic system as the only “approved” economic, political and social and order for all times. This would be composite world of the rich and powerful, and the weak and powerless with Africa at the top.

But all these disempowering political, social, cultural and economic constructs and systems of domination were politically and self-consciously created by organized and mission-driven national and racial elites pursuing the objectives of group ascendancy and global domination. They are not divine constructs imposed on the world. In the same way, liberated Africans can self-consciously choose and work to exit from this state of UNFREEDOM AND INDIGNITY by dismantling and reconstituting the extant world order (as Asians have done) and chose to create and enter the realms of FREEDOM AND SELF-DIRECTION through development capacitation, psychological liberation, cultural recuperation, mental freedom and self-actuated development so as to emerge as powerful participants in the world system as actors not subjects. This is the liberatory imperative.

In order for Africa to assume responsibility for its own transformation and elevation, and be able to undertake self-reliant development and create secure domestic prosperity, it has to create its own specific ideology and strategy of self-development. To do this there are a number of irreducible components that have to be designed and put in place. These are: the recovery and application of African agency in African development, the creation of the liberated African state, establishment of an African development capacitation system, the creation and dissemination of the Affirmative Africa Narrative and African comprehensive military empowerment.

The Centrality of African Agency in African Development
The first requirement of this liberated development strategy and process is the emplacement of African Agency at the centre of African thought and action as the primary psycho-cultural foundation, ideological premise and endogenous propellant for Africa’s self-actuated development. In this context African Agency is the endogenously created psycho-cultural software embedded in societies with which African societies train, organize, motivate, self-activate and direct themselves to accomplish desirable ends individually and collectively. It is the absolute psycho-cultural grounding and ideological ownership of the African project devoid of compromises to any external imperatives. African Agency is grounded on the supremacy of African endocentric thought and motive-forces as the propellants of development as a self-directed imperative.

Without contemporary Africans’ psychological internalization of this understanding and ownership of their development vision and their assumption of complete responsibility for self-actuated development, African societies will remain dependent, underdeveloped and insecure. Therefore the new liberated Africa vision must recognize the absolute necessity of the restoration of African Agency to primacy for any successful African actuated process of transformation. This new perspective is critically important because it has to be realized that one of the major challenges and primary impediment to Africa’s development since independence in the 1960s has been the absence of African Agency in African development as the directive force. This was due to the concerted and largely successful efforts of external multilateral imperialist forces (posing as omniscient advisers) working with psycho-ideologically unprepared and even naive African collaborator-leaders to promote exocentric authority and the corresponding marginalization, diminution and de-activation of African Agency in African development. Consequently, without the unquestioned ascendancy, centrality and directive role of African Agency, African development understood as Africans’ self-equipment for total liberation and radical transformation can never occur.

The Liberated African State
Second, is the imperative of the creation of a new Liberated African State through the rigorous ideological cleansing, psychological re-empowerment and administrative reconstruction of the contemporary politically compromised and disabled neo-colonial African states that are more representative of external forces than national interests.

The decolonization of the colonial African state and the evolution and emergence of the liberated state after independence was disrupted in the 1980s when most African states were captured and disabled by the cancerous ideologies, dogmas and prescriptions of the multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank and the IMF and their bilateral supporters in the context of the economic crises of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Embodied in various formulations and policy diktats such as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), and its unvarying conditionalities: currency devaluation, subsidy removal, trade liberalization and others like deregulation, privatization, poverty reduction; these prescriptions have transformed African states into disabled, compromised, neo-colonial political-administrative contraptions that are responsible to neo-imperialist multilateral institutions and not to Africans. They therefore cannot serve Africa’s interests

This is why it is imperative to create the new Liberated African state. It will be a strong and interventionist developmental state. Its raison d’ etre would be the representation and promotion of national interests. This Liberated African state will be grounded on the affirmation and militant expression of its untrammeled sovereignty; and the absolute non-compromise of national interests to any external agencies, formulations, dogmas and imperatives. It would self-consciously assume and assert uncontested ideological ascendancy. In fact the new liberated state will represent the completion of the decolonization of the African states and the emergence of truly endogenous states. It is only such Liberated African developmental states that can lead to the realization of the African citizens’ expectations for defence and protection, advanced development, material prosperity and freedom from want and colonialist philanthropy, psychological security and empowerment, dignity and equity with all other groups in the world.

The African Development Capacitation System
The third critical requirement is the development and placement of an African Development Capacitation System as the primary motive-force for Africa’s social and economic transformation and creation of advanced societies. This is proposed against the background of the complete failure of the extant neo-colonial economic system inherited and maintained from colonialism. In over five decades of its use and application as the dominant economic management system and growth strategy it has yielded and maintained Africa in a state of development incapacitation, primary commodity exportation, secondary goods importation, dependency, poverty generation, incapacity for self-propulsion, and subjection to the diktat and control of multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank and IMF. It is quite clear that the extant exocentric economic system with its development motive forces externally situated is organically defective, un-reformable and inherently incapable of propelling Africa to the highest levels of development.

Therefore in order for Africa to develop and achieve the highest levels of human development it has to own the instruments and systems of self-actuated development. This perspective is partly based on this author’s succinct definition of Development – as a society’s self-equipment with the resources and capacities for its self-reproduction. Consequently, the African Development Capacitation system is the creation and existence within all African societies of the endogenous capacities to conceive, design, construct, manage and operate projects in ALL sectors of the economy. These include the technological, scientific, managerial and operational capabilities for all facets of modern industrial and agricultural production and development self-propulsion.

Practically, the components of the development capacitation system include the domestic possession and ownership of the following capacities: Project Conception and Design capabilities; Technological Production Capacity or Capital Goods Industries comprising : Engineering Industries for the manufacture of all types and levels of machine tools, industrial machinery and equipment, transport equipment, electrical and power equipment;  electronic and professional tools and equipment. Intermediate Goods Industries (Metals, Heavy Chemicals, Petrochemicals, Paper, Rubber etc); Civil Engineering Construction Capabilities for large, medium and small scale projects; and Project management and operation and supervision Capabilities.

This endogenous development capacitation system is found in all successful  global examples of societal self-development as the prime movers of any society’s self-actuated transformation from conditions of UN-FREEDOM: material underdevelopment, mass poverty, indignity and colonialist philanthropy to new empowered conditions of FREEDOM: expressed as self-created material abundance and prosperity, psycho-cultural confidence and dignified existence. This is practically expressed in mass industrialization, modernized mass agricultural production, mass mineral exploitation and beneficiation primarily for domestic use; mass employment, mass prosperity generation; cultural elevation, self-actuation, self-agency, human dignity and societal power. This is in effect the enthronement of the strategy and process of endocentricity and its ineluctable creation and production of a state of development.

The Affirmative Africa Narrative
The fourth basic requirement is the creation and permanent dissemination of a self-elevating paradigm or narrative to be known as the Affirmative Africa Narrative. Currently there is no global African created narrative that conceives, presents, projects and widely propagates a truthful, complex and elevating narrative of Africa and Africans. In its absence there exists a universal externally fabricated, pervasive and routinely propagated perverse perspective on Africa that I describe as the Pathological Africa Narrative. This narrative which evolved from the era of the European slave trade; was expansively propagated and consolidated during colonialism and has been fine-tuned and expanded since independence to the present to include other foreign propagators like Asians and even Africans. It presents an image and impression; perception and narrative of Africa as a world of deficits, lack, deprivation, absence, danger, disease, inaction, native incapacity, immobility and a basket charity case that is rescueable only by the self-assigned salvationary efforts of Western multilateral imperialist agencies – World Bank and IMF – their dogmas, experts and prescriptions. This Pathological Africa Narrative is not only inaccurate but it is also dangerous and damaging as it represents the software of African self-denigration, servility, surrender and incapacitation.

In order to pursue the vision of liberated Africa it is imperative to create and propagate the Affirmative Africa Narrative. This would be a robust and unapologetic statement of African accomplishments in all areas of human endeavor since independence despite all internal and external obstacles. It would provide the psychological props and grounding among Africans for their self-representation. The Affirmative Africa Narrative is intended to confront, combat, degrade, pulverize, defeat, eliminate and replace the Pathological Africa Narrative that currently pervades external and internal descriptions and representations of Africa and Africans. In its place, the Affirmative Africa Narrative should become the primary perceptual representation and imagistic projection of an energetic and boundless; resurgent and self-directed Africa.

Consequently, for Africans committed to racial upliftment and continental advancement and empowerment embodied in the new liberated Africa vision, the requisite framework of self-representation, self-projection and self-activation is the Affirmative Africa Narrative. This is thus a necessary and indispensable accompaniment and organic adjunct to the determined pursuit of the liberated African vision and mission.

The Imperative of African Military Empowerment
A fifth requirement of the liberated Africa vision is the imperative of Africa’s military empowerment through deliberate provisions for continent-wide development of military capabilities. In order to meet the defence needs of a self-conscious people and continent determined to assume responsibility for its own self-advancement,  self-protection, self-projection and emergence as a powerful and dynamic participant in global affairs, two range of actions are minimally imperative.

First is the establishment and development of military industries throughout Africa to ensure that virtually all military equipment from the most basic to the most advanced are manufactured (not assembled) in Africa. This is will free Africa from its current pathetic situation of dependency for military wares from the countries which participated in the past in Africa’s conquest and colonization as well as from new armament producers and traders. To be militarily none self-equipped and self-reliant is to reside in a state of UNFREEDOM.

The second aspect of African military empowerment is the revival, re-steaming and realization of the long-standing grand visions from the 1960s for continental defence institutions and systems. The founding nationalist and pan Africanist leaders of the 1960s and 1970s, had canvassed and proposed the development a comprehensive continental military defence system. This is was to be known as the African Military High Command. These pioneer leaders envisaged it as a powerful continental defence force for self-protection, internal security issues, intra-continental intervention, conflict resolution, contributions to continental and global peace keeping and management as needed and as a force of self-projection that announces Africa’s global presence. It would also be responsible for the security of African geo-political and oceanic spaces against foreign powers desirous of containing, controlling and constraining Africa by the establishment of their military cordon around the continent.

The over-all rationale for the prescription of Africa’s military empowerment is due to the historical purblindness and psychological incapacitation of African leaderships and dominant elite since independence.  In the light of the rapid conquest, colonization and exploitation of African communities after the Berlin Conference between the 1880s-1900s, self-conscious Africans should never have the luxury of forgetting that Africa was conquered primarily because of Western military superiority in arms and armaments. Thus it would seem minimally patriotic, psychologically imperative, behaviourially logical and eminently sensible that such a people and continent should give premium attention to the establishment of a powerful military capacity for defence and offense as indicated by its historical experiences and new status as sovereign states.

Therefore a fulsome strategy for African military self-equipment and a powerful and expansive African Military High Command should be developed and incorporated as part of the liberated development strategy to equip Africa to defend, protect and project itself and to play a dynamic role in global affairs.

Conclusion
The various elements outlined above constitute a new strategy and process of endocentric development or African Liberated Development and their application would produce Liberated Africa. This Africa would be truly self-made: developmentally transformed, ideologically self-directed, politically stable, technologically advanced, industrially developed, socially prosperous, culturally renascent, psychologically assertive, militarily powerful, a globally ascendant continent with self-restored human dignity, an Africa of which all Africans will be duly proud.

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

 

 

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Outgoing Top Diplomat Reassures Restive Africans On US Policy
March 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

-Africa is traditionally a bi-partisan issue says Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas Greenfield

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Outgoing Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas Greenfield with Atlantic Council African Director J.Peter Pham

Outgoing Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas Greenfield with Atlantic Council African Director J.Peter Pham

Departing Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield is urging patience for those eager to see signals from the Trump Administration on its African Policy. The Administration is barely a month in Office and needs time Ambassador Greenfield said, in response to questions from restive Africans on what to possibly expect .

Speaking at a public address at the Atlantic Council on the theme “Africa’s Place on the World Stage,” Ambassador Greenfield said Africa has traditionally been a non-partisan issue. The Obama Administration certainly had its own challenges putting in place a policy though there was more optimism because of his African roots. Ambassador Greenfield indicated that it was too early for people to be in panic mood on the fate of U.S African relations as the new Administration is still putting in place its own team. Ambassador Greenfield said she expects relations to remain strong as the US will remain a committed partner to Africa.

Capping a sterling 35-year Foreign Service Career, Ambassador Greenfield used the address to paint a glossy picture of perspectives in Africa. Problems do not define Africa, as the continent is full of best opportunities and talent, she said. Ambassador Greenfield offered insights into issues that defined her stint in office like partnerships with Africa to counter terrorism, economic growth and development, security challenges, and how to provide opportunities for the surging Youth population.

Ambassador Greenfield's predecessors Johnne Carson,Herman Cohen, and Jendayi Frazer are joined by Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa Foundation and former Ambassador Omar Arouna former Ambassor of Benin

Ambassador Greenfield’s predecessors Johnne Carson,Herman Cohen, and Jendayi Frazer are joined by Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa Foundation and former Ambassador Omar Arouna former Ambassador of Benin

Despite the odds, the Africa has made tremendous progress, Ambassador Greenfield said. My last trip to Gambia for the inauguration of President Adama Barrow felt like a victory lap, she said, describing it as an opportunity to celebrate success and not resolve a crisis.

Ambassador Greenfield cited the USA-Africa leaders submit, the 2015 Presidential elections in Nigeria and the recent peaceful transition in Gambia as some of the best moments of her stint as the USA top Diplomat on Africa, which started in 2013.

Speaking of the  2015 elections in Nigeria, Ambassador Greenfield said no one was sure how things were going to turn out even after Secretary of State John Kerry personally made trips to talk to leading actors. Greenfield who was in Nigeria for the elections said she saw firsthand the resolve of Nigerians to make things work. Former President Goodluck Jonathan conceded gracefully and the trend has picked up in a number of African countries, Ambassador Greenfield said.

On regrets, Ambassador Greenfield cited South Sudan where the promise of hope for Africa’s newest nation turned to a nightmare with a civil that has created a humanitarian crisis.

The event was heavily attended by African Diplomats and Policy Experts,and State Department Officials

The event was heavily attended by African Diplomats and Policy Experts,and State Department Officials

In the course of her Career, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield served in Pakistan, Kenya, Gambia, Nigeria and as Ambassador to Liberia. The event at the Atlantic Council  was a crowd puller with over a dozen Ambassadors from African countries, State Department Officials, African Policy gurus, civil society actors and Journalist all present to listen to the parting comments of Ambassador Greenfield on Africa, a continent she has a particular fondness for. The event was also attended by three of her predecessors Herman Cohen who served under President Reagan, Jendayi Frazer who served under President George .W.Bush and Johnnie Carson who served in the first Obama term.

Ambassador Greenfield is expected to take up Fellowship at the George Washington University. J.Peter Pham whose name is reportedly in the mix of potential candidates to replace Ambassador Greenfield introduced her at the event.

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Gambia’s Isatou Touray Bags Jeane J.Kirkpatrick Award
March 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

 

Dr. Isatou Touray

Dr. Isatou Touray

Dr Isatou Touray, Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration, and Employment, has brought honor to the Gambia with the Jeanne .J.Kirkpatrick award presented by the Women in Democracy Network.

 

The Award was presented to Touray at a luncheon on March 2, 2017. Honored alongside Touray at the luncheon was Greta Van Susteran, a news anchor with the MSNBC network. Dr. Touray’s award comes in recognition of decades of advocacy for women’s rights, sexual and reproductive health, and a successful campaign to end female genital mutilation in Gambia.

“Women are just as capable as men of fully and equally participating in politics, the economy, and society,” Dr. Touray said in accepting her award.

“We have relentlessly fought against female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage, successfully changing people’s opinion on these issues and laying the groundwork for the legal ban on these practices in 2015 and 2016,” said Dr Touray in describing the work she has led others in doing to improve the rights of women in Gambia.

Touray, who last year made history by becoming the first woman to run for the office of President in the Gambia, spoke of the challenges of bringing change to Gambia after 22 years under an authoritarian regime.

Dr. Isatou Touray with Ambassador Omar Faye at the Luncheon

Dr. Isatou Touray with Ambassador Omar Faye at the Luncheon

“In this particular case, change meant restoring democracy, respect for the fundamental right of all Gambian citizens, and freedom of expression; bringing institutional and constitutional reforms, as well as bringing the country back to the community of Nations; and ending impunity, which for so long had been characteristic of the autocratic regime,” Touray said.

It is the same motivation that pushed me to support Adama Barrow and today he is the President of Gambia, Touray went on.

“I’m proud of what the men and women of the democratic opposition were able to achieve: restoring democracy to the Gambia, and opening doors for women to increase their participation in Gambian politics,” Dr. Touray said.

Dr. Touray, who was also the first official of the Barrow government to visit Washington, DC was treated to a reception at the Embassy of Gambia by Ambassador Omar Faye and the Embassy staff. Touray lauded the contribution of Ambassador to the democratic change with his early calls and principled stance in urging former President Yahya Jammeh to respect the verdict from the polls and the will of Gambians. Touray was impressed with the fact that the Gambian government owns the building hosting the Embassy.

In a chat at the Embassy, Dr. Touray said Gambia is living through very exciting times following the victory and installation of President Adama Barrow. We are conscious of the enormous challenges and expectations, she said, but expressed optimism that Gambians will not be disappointed. It is a new dawn for the Gambia, she said and called on all hands to be put on deck in writing the next chapter of the country’s history. She indicated youth employment issues will occupy a strong place on the agenda of her Ministry.

Dr Isatou Touray ,Amb Omar Faye, and PAV's Ajong Mbapndah at the Gambian Embassy

Dr Isatou Touray ,Amb Omar Faye, and PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah at the Gambian Embassy

The award is not only for me but also for the people of Gambia, Dr. Touray said. She welcomed the renewed interest in prospects of partnership with the international development organizations, some of which she had contacts with during her Washington, DC, trip.

Gambians should be proud of the award of Dr. Touray, Ambassador Faye said in a chat after the reception. Dr. Touray has worked hard on gender related and democracy issues and the award can only be a good omen as the government of President Adama Barrow gets to work, Faye said. Ambassador Faye indicated that the country was open to investors willing to tap into the myriad of economic opportunities in the Gambia.

Named after the first woman appointed to serve as Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, the Jeane Kirkpatrick Award was established in 2008. In addition to her membership of President Reagan’s cabinet and National Security Council, Dr Kirkpatrick was instrumental in the creation of the Women’s Democracy Network.

Prior recipients of the award include Tarja Kaarina Halonen, the first female President of Finland, and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in the United States Congress.

 

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Ambassador Sanders’ New Book Focuses on Insta-impact of Africa’s SMEs
March 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders’ new book on “The Rise of Africa’s Small& amp; Medium Size Enterprises” (SMEs) is an insightful examination of the dramatic shift in the development paradigm for Sub Saharan Africa – driven in large part by the imaginative, innovative and insta-impact leadership of the region’s small businesses or SMEs. “SMEs have helped drive economic growth and aided in increasing the size of the Continent’s middle class,” Sanders says. The book’s Introduction is by renowned civil rights leader Ambassador Andrew Young, and the Foreword is by Africa’s leading businessman, Mr. Aliko Dangote. Sanders’ credits the determination of Africa’s SMEs to step into the void left by 40 years of post-independence development efforts that had little impact on overall poverty reduction and job creation in the region.

The book also has recommendations on what donors, the African Union, African Governments, and the new U.S. Administration can do to further assist Africa SMEs. For the US, Sanders notes that as the new U.S. Administration seeks to have markets for its goods and services as part of its efforts to reinvigorate jobs in the US Rust Belt (the Midwest Region), and as Africa SMEs expand their procurement sources and help expand the region’s manufacturing base – both efforts can be synergistic, and help stimulate both American and African economies. There is also an extensive chapter on China – what it is doing in the Africa SME sector, both the big plus, like special economic zones, the New Development Bank, and becoming the world’s net credit country, as well as addresses some of the things on which it needs to do better.

Included in the book are DataGraphs from the world-respected Gallup Analytics® on the enabling environment for Africa’s SMEs and comments on the importance and impact of the region’s SMEs from other key notables such as Gallup’s Managing Partner Jon Clifton, Nigeria telecom leader and Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria Hakeem Belo Osaige, CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Oscar Onyema, Chairman of Operation Hope John Bryant, CEO of Homestrings Eric Guichard, former Senior U.S. Small Business Administration official Ngozi Bell, and the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises of the Republic of Congo, Madame Yvonne Adelaide Mougany. Dr. Frederick G. Kohun, nationally-recognized scholar of Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University (RMU), a University Professor of Computer and Information Systems at RMU’s School of Communications and Information Systems, underscores Sanders point  in the book that the impact of Africa SMEs is not only a result of technology and its mobility, but the sister relationship that these have with providing access to knowledge management for communities around the world that have helped small businesses globally transform their societies and their nations.

The prestigious Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) has included Sanders’ Africa SME book in its recognized series of Memoirs and Occasional Papers Series (MOPS) given its additional focus on the role and changes in diplomatic approaches to development over the ages, including the shift changes brought about the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

See story on Sanders’ book http://bit.ly/SandersAfricaSMEBook

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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

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Gambian made co-owner of top restaurant
March 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

-Dishwasher becomes part-owner of top restaurant Noma

Ali Sonko, far right, along with restaurant managers James Spreadbury and Lau Richter, are now partners in Noma, Copenhagen

Ali Sonko, far right, along with restaurant managers James Spreadbury and Lau Richter, are now partners in Noma, Copenhagen

A kitchen porter has been made a co-owner of the four-time winner of the world’s best restaurant.

Ali Sonko, 62, is now a partner at Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant where he has been working since it opened.

Mr Sonko, from the Gambia, was unveiled as one of three new partners, alongside two of its managers.

The two-Michelin starred restaurant closed its doors after 14 years at the current location, and will reopen in December as an “urban farm”.

“Ali is the heart and soul of Noma,” chef Rene Redzepi explained to friends gathered to celebrate the restaurant at the weekend, according to Danish newspaper Berlingske.

“I don’t think people appreciate what it means to have a person like Ali in the house. He is all smiles, no matter how his 12 children fare.

“And, by the way, my own father was also named Ali, and he too worked as a dishwasher when he came to Denmark.”

Posting a picture of Mr Sonko and fellow new co-owners restaurant managers Lau Richter and James Spreadbury to Instagram, Mr Redzepi added: “This is only the beginning, as we plan to surprise several more of our staff with a piece of the walls that they have chosen to work so hard within.”

 

Mr Sonko has lived in Denmark for 34 years

Mr Sonko has lived in Denmark for 34 years

Mr Sonko, who has lived in Denmark for 34 years, first rose to prominence in 2010, when he was unable, due to visa issues, to go to London with the team to pick up their first Best Restaurant in the World award.

 

But the team did not forget him: instead, they all wore T-shirts with the dishwasher’s face on it and two years later – the visa issues sorted out – Mr Sonko gave the acceptance speech as Noma was once again named the World’s Best Restaurant.

At the time, Mr Sonko, a farmer in the Gambia before his arrival in Copenhagen, described it as the “best job” he had ever had to Danish website BT.

Mr Sonko has been working in the restaurant since it opened

Mr Sonko has been working in the restaurant since it opened

“I cannot describe how happy I am to work here,” he said. “These are the best people to work with, and I’m good friends with everyone. They exhibit enormous respect for me, and no matter what I say or ask about, they are there for me. And that’s enough for me to say that it’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

Noma, which made its name with its locally sourced, Nordic food, has been named Best Restaurant in the World in the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best a further three times.

*BBC

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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.

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Experts: African Hunger Crisis Largely Man-made
February 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Salem Solomon*

Residents of Ntuzuma collect water from a truck after cuts in water supply were made due to persistent drought conditions, in Durban, South Africa, Jan. 22, 2017.

Residents of Ntuzuma collect water from a truck after cuts in water supply were made due to persistent drought conditions, in Durban, South Africa, Jan. 22, 2017.

This year, more so than usual, hunger is stalking Africa. The United Nations has declared a famine in parts of South Sudan and food insecurity is affecting tens of millions in nearly every geographic region of the continent.

The causes vary, as do the proposed solutions. But, experts say the worst crises are being fueled by war.

“Drought is an exacerbating factor in some contexts but conflict is really, really the major driver in the biggest emergencies,” said Chris Hillbruner, a senior official for the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).

“Drought can result in really severe food insecurity but usually, even when you have a severe drought, there’s an opportunity for recovery that starts with the next rainy season,” he said. “The challenge with conflict is that the conflict persists and persists and persists in many of these cases and so there’s little relief for the people.”

The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death in just four countries: Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. All four are in the midst of civil wars or insurgencies.

“Our first call and our first priority is for the warring parties in all these countries to give us the access that we need to reach those children,” said Najwa Mekki, spokeswoman for UNICEF.

UNICEF has 600 therapeutic feeding centers in South Sudan, but much of the affected population is unable to reach them. “Children are dying and we need to get to them soon and we need to get to them as fast as possible to be able to save lives,” Mekki said.

Wide-ranging threat

The number at risk on the continent stretches well beyond the countries identified by UNICEF. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) reports that 12 million people living in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa are now dependent on food aid.

By all accounts, low rainfall caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon plays a significant role in the crisis. In Mozambique, aid organizations told VOA Portuguese that Tete and Gaza provinces are experiencing a prolonged drought and people have used up all the food they had saved.

In Ethiopia, farmers in the Borena zone told VOA Amharic that their cattle are emaciated and they are having a hard time selling them to buy food. Farmer Guyu Halake said cows that sold for about $440 before the drought are now sold for $17.

Another farmer, Fekadu Jeldeta, said if assistance is delayed, the current drought will shift from affecting livestock to costing the lives of people.

In Somalia, WFP said it is seeing warning signals similar to those seen in 2011, when drought and famine killed an estimated 260,000 people.

Goats with ribs showing crowd around a trough of well water in Somaliland region of Somalia, which is experiencing a devastating drought, on Feb. 9, 2017. (VOA/Jason Patinkin)

Goats with ribs showing crowd around a trough of well water in Somaliland region of Somalia, which is experiencing a devastating drought, on Feb. 9, 2017. (VOA/Jason Patinkin)

In Baidoa, VOA Somali spoke to Muslimo Abdi Abikar, a mother of nine who said she used to have a herd of livestock, including camels, goats and cows. Today, only two goats and a few camels remain, she said, and even the survivors are weak.

But observers say armed conflict plays an equal if not greater role in the hunger crisis. The threat of violence prevents farmers from planting or harvesting crops and prevents food trucks from reaching markets. If a government doesn’t act, it can take only a couple of months for food to become scarce in a particular area, triggering inflation.

In the Somali town of Las’anod, a grocer reported that, within one week, the cost of vegetables nearly doubled. A kilogram of tomatoes, for instance, spiked from $29 to $48.

What is a crisis?

Data such as this is used by FEWS NET to determine how to classify the level of food security across the continent, said Hillbruner. To do this, FEWS NET uses two key tools.

The first tool is called the Integrated Phase Classification, which examines a variety of indicators to determine how severe a food crisis is on a five-tier scale, ranging from minimal problems to humanitarian catastrophe.

The second tool is called “scenario development,” which allows analysts to forecast how food availability might improve or deteriorate in the near future.

“We look at how people access food and income in a typical year and then we look at whether or not there will be any shocks during the coming months,” Hillbruner says. “What is the forecast for rainfall? What do we expect is going to happen with food prices? Is there conflict occurring?”

Recently, FEWS NET warned that South Sudan could soon reach IPC Phase 5, the highest level on the scale. Phase 5 is defined as a famine marked by high levels of excess mortality. The group warned that Unity State in the north of the country is facing the most extreme lack of food.

Joseph Siegle, director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said the latest food crises, particularly those in South Sudan and northeast Nigeria, show that famines may have climactic roots, but are made worse by man-made factors.

“The difference between the natural factors which create a challenge and then the actual outcome of famine is usually a human-made response or the lack thereof,” he said. “And I think that’s what we’re looking at today.”

*VOA

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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.

 

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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

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