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$80 billion, not $50 billion: loss of African funds even worse than thought – Mbeki
April 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

By LEE MWITI*

Panel revises figures upwards, and the money is not leaving continent in plastic bags: Kinshasa, we have a problem

Obiang Mangue: Was linked to the export of hundreds of millions of dollars to the US where he bought property and fancy cars. (Photo/TNOM/Flickr).

Obiang Mangue: Was linked to the export of hundreds of millions of dollars to the US where he bought property and fancy cars. (Photo/TNOM/Flickr).

IN 2005, US lawyer George Nagler was contacted by Rosalina Romo, the executive assistant of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of Africa’s longest serving president and who is on course to extend his 37-year rule over oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

Romo and Nagler together set up Sweet Pink Inc, which named Romo as its CEO, secretary and chief financial officer. Mangue was listed only as “assistant treasurer”, but under questioning in a US Senate investigation, the lawyer said it was his understanding the younger Nguema was the sole owner and source of funding.

A few days later, Mangue’s then girlfriend, well-known US rapper Eve Jeffers was appointed the firm’s president.  The company was among those known to have been used by Mangue to between 2005 and 2007 move more than $110 million into the US and buy property.

Under pressure from authorities, his US banker eventually closed the accounts, according to the resulting Senate report that was captured in a 2011 World Bank report on stolen assets, The Puppet Masters, and which also in part spotlights how public officials including presidents and state governors from Nigeria and Zambia to Kenya used corporate and financial structures to obscure money trails.

The big people eat it all

Equatorial Guinea has a population of about 760,000  people and on paper a GDP per capita of $20,500—the highest in Africa. Yet three quarters remain mired in poverty, despite its natural-resource riches, with oil exports constituting 80% of its GDP.

The stashing away of such funds in tax havens and global financial centres and which would otherwise build schools, hospitals and infrastructure, costs Africa heavily.

But it was only last year that the continent put a figure to the haemorrhage, when a joint panel headed by former South Africa president Thabo Mbeki in a much-anticipated report (pdf) showed that between 2000 and 2008, Africa lost at least $50 billion annually to illicit outflows.

On the back of the resulting uproar, the continent’s policy community set to work to show just how much of a difference such amounts would make to the region’s development.

The money was enough to simultaneously cut poverty and inequality on the continent by half, organisations from the African Union to the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa, which both backed the report, said.

It is also regularly highlighted that the total outflows from the continent every year were more than the amount of official foreign aid into the continent, which in 2012 was set at $46.1 billion.

But at the release of the findings from its two-year investigation, the Mbeki panel had a caveat: the amount fell “well short of reality”—an acknowledgment of the continent’s well known data problem, but also of just how difficult it is to track flows that by their nature are intended to be hidden from view.

The leak of the so-called Panama Papers has reinvigorated the debate and delighted many leading African names, giving a coveted glimpse into the secretive world of offshore structures. The leaked data from the legal firm Mossack Fonseca featured many African names, even as the distinction is strenuously made that they are not inherently illegal and some have their legitimate uses.

Could be worse

Now the panel says the problem could be worse than previously thought. The continent is losing at least $80 billion, Mbeki said Monday at a press briefing in Johannesburg, as the panel continues to burrow into newer numbers.

Mbeki said that after looking closer at the figures, the number had increased to an estimate of between $80 billion and $90 billion dollars—or nearly the amount the World Bank in 2009 said the continent would need to spend annually for 10 years to narrow the gap with the rest of the world.

“This could either be because more thorough work has been done or in fact there is in actual increase in the activity,” Mbeki said.

While the focus tends to be on the criminal activities such as tax evasion, corruption and trafficking, legally allowed tactics actually account for the bulk of outflows.

Mbeki said the commercial sector is responsible for handling two thirds of capital illicit outflows from the African continent.

Measures to clamp down on funds lost illicitly are being rolled out, but as the former president pointed out, the majority of such flows pass through the systems of banks, as he urged central banks to help track the money.

“This money is not leaving the continent in plastic bags, it goes through financial systems.”

One study showed that African countries lost up to $407 billion between 2001 and 2010 from trade misplacing alone—the misrepresenting of data about imports or exports.

The UN’s trade and development body UNCTAD says profit shifting costs poorer countries—the majority of which are in Africa— up to $100 billion a year.

In one famous case, an American construction conglomerate had almost 30% of its employees in Asia and Africa, made 30% of its sales in Asia and Africa—but recorded only one percent of its profit in Asia and Africa. Eighty percent of its profit went to a tax haven.

In July, a proposal by the continent for multinationals to be more transparent on tax avoidance was heavily watered down by wealth nations.

Mbeki also called for efforts to strengthen the ability of tax authorities on the African continent to keep up with the ever-adapting nature of such outflows, as there were institutional weaknesses.

Without understanding the nature of methods and structures used, it is very much shooting in the dark.

“We need to find a way of tracking these outflows so that we are able to measure whether the measures are working, leading to a reduction of the outflows,” Mbeki said.

Mbeki said the panel is consulting with countries and financial institutions such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Central Bank.

He said the OECD has agreed to work with the panel in tracking and reducing the illicit outflows, and to develop measures of whether progress has been made.

With wealthy nations under pressure following the Panama leak, the outcome of a landmark anti-corruption summit in London next month will be closely watched by the continent, where leaders are turning up the campaign to have those funds found to be illicit to be repatriated to finance development.

*Source MGA Africa

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Slave states: a story of survival in the Gulf
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

By *

African migrants are increasingly moving to rich Gulf States in search of opportunity. More often than not they find exploitation. This is Harriet’s story.

Sunset over Dubai, UAE. Credit: Paolo Margari.

Sunset over Dubai, UAE. Credit: Paolo Margari.

For the millions of people who flock to rich Gulf States to take up jobs as cleaners or builders, the opportunity to work is typically seen as a rare chance for employment and the empowerment that comes with it. Usually from poor countries where prospects are weak, huge numbers of workers have journeyed to glittering Gulf States in recent years in the hope of making a living.

In fact, the numbers are so high that migrants now make up the majority of many Gulf States’ populations. An estimated 7.8 million of the UAE’s 9.2million population are non-nationals, for example, while 70% of Kuwait’s population and 85% of Qatar’s is made up of foreigners. These countries rely on migrant labour to function, though the relationship between employers and employees is far from equal.

Migrants come for work, but many ultimately find themselves trapped, exploited and abused. The government policy known as kafala requires workers to have a local sponsor to work or stay in many of these countries, and this requirement gives employers enormous power over their employees who are unable to change jobs or leave without their consent.

Under this system then, millions of workers have no means of escape and few rights. They find themselves brutally exploited, their movement controlled, and their wellbeing disregarded. Reports of psychological, physical and sexual abuse, of torture, and of suicides are widespread. And there is often no way out.

The fruits of imported workers can be seen all across the Gulf States, not least in the form of the huge skyscrapers built on migrant labour, but the experiences of these individuals are usually hidden below the shiny surfaces of the cities, and go unreported and unheard. Migrants typically come from South and East Asia, but they are increasingly coming from Africa now too. Below is the story of Harriet, just one such migrant from Uganda.

Harriet’s story

Harriet, a young woman in her mid-20s, was an aircraft cleaner with a large private security company. She had worked with one of my school friends in Kampala before coming to Dubai, UAE.

That’s how we first got in touch, and we met at Al Khail Mall in the Al Qouz Industrial Area 4. This was a short distance from her accommodation, a room she shared with three other women, one also from Uganda and two from the Philippines. Harriet started by showing me a few pictures of functions, mostly weddings, that she had taken while in Uganda and then handed me her CV. I noticed that she had a higher diploma in social sciences from one of Uganda’s largest institutions of learning.

Driven by unemployment for about a year back home, Harriet had decided to seek opportunities in Dubai. A recruitment company had taken her on and charged her $600 for her air ticket, visa and recruitment fees. She had now been in Dubai for about six months and was cleaning aeroplanes at Dubai International Airport. She showed me a rash on her arms and part of her face, explaining that she got them from exposure to a cleaning detergent called Bacoban. She had complained to her supervisors, who took her to a hospital where she received treatment. But she had only recently found out that to cover the cost of the visit, her salary had been slashed from 800 dirhams ($215) a month to just 200 dirhams ($54).

Harriet had intended to return to hospital as the rash had persisted and the constant itching made her sick. But she was forced to cancel these plans. Not only could she not afford another pay cut, but many companies here issue penalties for taking time off, even for illness.

Harriet said she was repeatedly required to work more than the stipulated hours in a day without a single break to even drink water. She told me of a colleague from Kenya who had fainted inside the plane because the air conditioning was not working and she had not eaten or drunk anything since early in the morning. There were some women, Harriet said, who took food or water from inside the plane, but this was a serious risk if caught.

Her work supervisor meanwhile, a man from India who hardly spoke any English, regularly harassed her verbally, physically and sexually. When she was cleaning, he would lean down to touch her buttocks. When she asked what he was doing, he would tell her, “Sorry, banana standing. This banana big problem.”

All of Harriet’s colleagues complained amongst themselves but no one dared report him to their superiors. In the past, one of their co-workers had been dismissed after she reported a similar incident of sexual harassment. “They would twist everything and turn it around accusing you of being a prostitute,” said Harriet.

The only thing Harriet was grateful for was her one day off each week, a privilege considering that few other employees – such as security guards – were afforded the same luxury. Having said that, Harriet would spend her days off staying in bed crying, though she was glad to have this chance to weep in private so she could avoid breaking down in public. Crying was the only way she could reduce the burden of her problems, she said.

Trapped

Outside work, Harriet’s situation was just as miserable. In her accommodation, all sorts of activities were forbidden. Cooking, for example, was prohibited with workers required to buy food from restaurants despite their meagre salaries. Residents were also banned from washing their clothes; instead, the management insisted they use the coin-operated washing machine which cost four dirhams ($1.20) just to launder work uniforms. For Harriet and others, violating these rules was the only way for them to survive and they would prepare meals using secretly-stashed cooking utensils and did their laundry covertly in bathtubs and sinks. The fear of being caught and punished brought additional stress.

Harriet also felt unsafe about leaving her room and going around the surrounding area. Although her quarters were reserved for women, groups of men gathered around the complex, begging and baiting women to come out. The situation was worst at night. When I dropped her off one evening at around 7:30pm, the premises were very busy and although the space was meant to be for women only, most of the people in the compound were men. Cars, ranging from the latest models of Land Cruisers to older makes of Toyota Corollas, constantly streamed in and out.

Harriet told me that most women complemented their paltry earnings with prostitution and that these cars were not here to pick up or drop off friends and girlfriends but women working as prostitutes. Some women were dropped off down the road at Al Khail Mall and walked the short distance back home to disguise their activities.

I reasoned that most of the men who simply crowded around the compound were only there to look at the female residents, unable to afford paying for their services, but Harriet said it was a matter of price discrimination. She challenged me to walk around the dark corridors of the neighbouring buildings that acted as short-time lodges.

She also told me that were reports of men raping women who happened to pass by at night. This was the one thing worried the female residents the most and stopped them from leaving the premises, especially once night had fallen. They would rather go hungry and sleep without eating anything than walk the short distance to a restaurant or Al Khail mall. They were trapped.

Escape

In the ensuing weeks after our first meeting, Harriet checked out jobs in the classifieds and sent emails as per my advice. She received a few responses but was always asked if her sponsor was willing to give a No Objection Consent (NOC) letter to facilitate a change in jobs and sponsors in the UAE.

She had no idea about such a document and when she queried her employer’s human resources office, she was told that they did not give out such letters and was instructed that she’d be banned from working in the UAE if she tried to change jobs.

Under the kafala system, Harriet was at the mercy of her sponsor, but mercy was not something her employer was willing to extend. She was essentially bound to servitude until her contract was over. Harriet had no choice but to keep her head down, do what she could to ease her pain, and persevere through to the end of her two-year contract.

Fortunately for Harriet, she made it through and was finally able to find a new job after her ordeal. She now works a saleswoman in a cosmetics shop in Dubai. This job brings with it its own difficulties and challenges, but they are small compared to those she faced in her previous employment. “I still consider the two years I worked as a cleaner the worst experience of my life,” she says.

But while Harriet survived and escaped, others have taken her place as a cleaner and many millions more face the same conditions as she did, and worse, across the Gulf States. These countries serve as a portal for hopeful but vulnerable migrants from across Asia and, increasingly, Africa. They come here looking for opportunity, but are more often than not met with exploitation facilitated by hugely unequal and unjust employment laws.

This article is based on an excerpt from Yasin Kakande’s forthcoming book Slave States: The Practice of Kafala in the Gulf Arab Region.

*Source African Arguments.Yasin Kakande is a Ugandan journalist who has reported from the Middle East for over a decade. His first book, The Ambitious Struggle: An African Journalist’s Journey of Hope and Identity in a Land of Migrants, was published in October 2013.

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URBAN AFRICA’S BIG CHANCE
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY AND *

Nigerians participate in a marathon in Lagos, Nigeria, February 6. Lagos is one of three existing megacities—with populations of more than 10 million—in Africa, and more are expected to spring up in the coming decades. STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Nigerians participate in a marathon in Lagos, Nigeria, February 6. Lagos is one of three existing megacities—with populations of more than 10 million—in Africa, and more are expected to spring up in the coming decades.
STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

In popular imagination of Africa, the continent is more famous for its savannahs than its skyscrapers. Sub-Saharan Africa’s total urbanized population is just 37 percent, compared to nearly 75 percent of European Union citizens who live in cities.

Africa’s rural population has always been larger than its urban population. But that is changing, and in 2030, the number of urban and rural Africans will be roughly the same: nearly 1.6 billion people altogether. By 2050, nearly two-thirds of all Africans will live in cities. By the same year, nearly a quarter of the world’s workforce will be African—and these workers will be overwhelmingly young.

Africa is the second-fastest urbanizing continent, following closely behind Asia. It is home to three “megacities,” each with more than 10 million residents: Kinshasa, Lagos, and Cairo. By comparison, New York City is the largest city in the United States, topping out at 8.5 million residents. In the coming decades, Johannesburg, Luanda, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Casablanca, and Khartoum will approach megacity status, and hundreds of other smaller African cities will emerge and grow.

Urbanization does not automatically translate into prosperity. But it does seem to be a prerequisitefor sustainable growth. As Africa’s growing, youthful workforce moves to cities, they will become a growth engine for the continent’s economy.

By concentrating consumers and their spending, Africa’s cities can serve as new markets for goods and services. In just fifteen years, consumer spending in African cities is projected to reach $2.2 trillion, a three-fold increase from current levels. These markets will attract attention and investment from both international brands—including clothing, restaurant, and hotel chains catering to African consumers—and local industries that reflect a city’s unique culture. Cities, by design, concentrate people, and these populations form the backbone of valuable urban industries such as manufacturing. The increased business will prime the pump for more government revenue, job growth, and infrastructure investment. These benefits of “agglomeration”—having thousands of people in close spatial proximity to each other—also apply to governments, who face lower service provision costs among dense populations.

Successful cities support strong and stable agriculture by making up the key market for Africa’s many smallholder farms. Concentrating consumers in urban areas benefits such farms, which contribute to urban food security and remain an integral part of the continent’s overall economy.

For entrepreneurs, opportunities are ripe for the picking. Africa’s urban challenges—construction, housing, financing, and communications infrastructure, among others—benefit from the educated citizens and private investment concentrated in cities. In fact, the most innovative and successful businesses have emerged from obstacles to growth; market inefficiencies led to the development of products ranging from cell phones to mobile money to Uber.

Kenya’s support for tech incubator iHub is an example of how African governments can support fast-growing and valuable new industries that harness the creativity of the urban workforce. Nigeria has announced a similar focus on information and communications technology with itsSmartCity Innovation Hub in Lagos.

In spite of its enormous size, Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, is a prime example of how to govern a megacity. Lagos residents—21 million and counting—benefit from strong local leadership, which has reformed the city’s tax system and used the increased revenues to provide services including waste collection and improved transport systems. The city was integral to preventing the spread ofEbola in Nigeria in October 2014 after an infected Liberian man traveled to Nigeria and later died in a Lagos hospital.

While rapid urbanization has many benefits, it is also a double-edged sword.

Africa’s developing economies have limited time to grapple with serious demographic challenges—including an urbanizing, “youthening” population—while bringing broad economic growth to their populations. And rapid urbanization brings with it very real threats to prosperity and stability. The first is that urbanization is outpacing the ability of fragile governments and developing economies to support their citizens. Financing and building vast infrastructure to accommodate burgeoning urban populations is a critical challenge. As Africa Center Senior Fellow Aubrey Hruby observed in 2015, Africa needs some $50 billion in infrastructure investment annually.

In recent years, China has been one of the most eager investors on the continent, alleviating this infrastructure challenge through concessional and commodity-backed loans. But China’s current economic slowdown and weakened global commodity prices will slow its pace of African investments and curb access to the large pot of Chinese infrastructure financing.

Governments are also struggling to keep up service provision in rapidly expanding cities. Many African governments are already stretched to deliver basic housing, health, education, and public safety to their populations. Vast African slums in cities like Nairobi or Johannesburg, with poor access to clean water, sanitation facilities, electricity, and durable shelter, compound concerns that urban poverty and unemployment can lead to criminality, gang violence, or even radicalization. Education systems will have to keep up with growing populations and industries. Governments, in turn, will have to promote private investment and support new job creation.

A new Atlantic Council study by J. Peter Pham and Aubrey Hruby, Embracing Impact: How Africa Can Overcome the Emerging Market Downturn, outlines how the current emerging market slowdown will constrain African budgets and threaten the steady economic growth many African countries have achieved over the past decade.

Urbanization is a silver lining to these worrying predictions. If managed properly, cities will become Africa’s growth engine and fuel continent-wide investment and development.

  • Source Newsweek.Kelsey Lilley is Associate Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center and Stephanie Sparrow is an Africa Center intern.
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Africa and the Global Security Architecture
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

Africa must ensure that its positions on international security concerns – and not just African issues – are carefully coordinated and well presented as it seeks to have a permanent position in the international security architecture.

By Kofi Annan*

At the outset of these remarks, allow me to thank our Chairman for inviting me to the Tana Forum. This is the first time I am attending this prestigious event, which brings together many distinguished participants who share a deep, mutual interest in the security and well-being of Africa.

Our topic this afternoon is Africa and the Global Security Architecture.

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

During the Cold War years that would have not been a subject for much discussion. In those days, we looked for big-power champions who could provide diplomatic and security cover.

The contemporary world is far more complex.

And, as the awful atrocities that have been perpetrated in West, East and North Africa have shown, the continent is not immune to the security threats that many countries around the world now face.

But I want to start with some good news. Africa is actually doing better than many people may realize in terms of the security of its citizenry.

Today, and despite a few egregious exceptions, armed conflict is actually a smaller risk to most Africans than traffic accidents.

This improvement of the security situation helped set the stage for rapid economic growth of 5-6% per year for the last fifteen years.

As a result of this sustained period of growth, extreme poverty has fallen by 40% since 1990.

And Africa’s growth can no longer be explained just by global demand for its commodities.

Two thirds of Africa’s growth over the last decade has come from increased domestic demand for goods and services in thriving sectors such as telecoms, financial services, manufacturing and construction.

As a result, today, inflows of private investment dwarf international aid.

They have been encouraged by the efforts of governments across Africa to improve their macro-economic environments.

Although there is still some way to go, we have seen encouraging steps towards gender parity, and the continent is moving towards universal primary education.

The spread of HIV/AIDS is in decline, and the number of deaths from tuberculosis and malaria is falling.

Democracy is extending its roots as Burkina Faso, Guinea and Nigeria have recently demonstrated.

Other countries like Cote d’Ivoire, have emerged from the abyss of conflict and are making strides towards a better and more democratic future.

In other words, our continent is generally heading in the right direction.

This encouraging analysis will come, I know, as very cold comfort for those millions of people who are still living every day in the shadow of violent conflict and abject poverty.

Progress remains uneven, and the dangers today are both internal and external.

Rebel groups have flourished in the impoverished parts of weak states that feel hard-done by their governments, where the population is often abused by the security forces, or where they do not trust the courts to deliver justice.

External forces are taking advantage of these shortcomings. We cannot ignore that from Mauritania in the west to Somalia in the east, the flag of Jihad is being raised.

More than a dozen sub-Saharan countries are concerned, and tens of thousands have already died as a result.

Boko Haram actually killed more people last year than the Islamic State. Attacks in many places are a daily or weekly occurrence.

And local extremist groups are now linking up to each other across borders, and even to global franchises like Al Qaeda or Islamic State.

Precisely because of these affiliations, these conflicts are generally seen through a unique prism: the global war on Islamist terrorism.

This neglects what they have in common with other insurgencies on the continent, which have nothing to do with Islam.

It is no secret that unemployed young men are especially vulnerable to the temptations of violence and easily instrumentalised for that purpose.

This is not a specifically Muslim problem: a World Bank survey in 2011 showed that about 40% of those who join rebel movements say they are motivated by a lack of jobs.

In Africa, as elsewhere, the answer does not lie in a purely military response that fails to deal with the root causes of disaffection and violence.

As I constantly repeat, you cannot have peace and security without inclusive development, the rule of law and the respect for human rights. These are the three pillars of all successful societies.

It is largely because these three pillars are quite fragile in parts of Africa that we are still seeing instability and violence.

The truth is that the economic growth in Africa over the last fifteen years, though impressive, has been neither sufficient nor inclusive.

In fact, Africa has become the world’s second most unequal continent, according to the African Development Bank.

Too much of that growth has enriched a narrow elite and not enough was spent on infrastructure, health or education, which would have fostered development.

It is no coincidence that Boko Haram originated in one of the world’s poorest and most deprived areas of the continent.

Not only does wealth not trickle down, but it is barely taxed, depriving the state of resources to provide public services.

It is not just that Africa is unequal: it is also unfair. An African Union report has estimated that up to one quarter of the continent’s GDP is syphoned off every year through corruption.

The trafficking of drugs creates an especially difficult challenge. Drug money is insidious and invasive. It corrodes political institutions.

We must focus on the money trail.  We have been locking up the minor offenders while the big fish swim free.

The fight against violent rebel movements is necessary, and will require enhanced inter-African as well as international cooperation.

But this is not enough because the challenge of security in Africa is often a political challenge revolving around the acquisition and use of power.

As a result, elections are a source of tension and repression rather than an opportunity for the free expression of political will.

Leaders who hang on to power indefinitely by gaming elections and suppressing criticism and opposition are sowing the seeds of violence and instability.

African leaders, like leaders everywhere, must remember that they are at the service of their citizens, and not the other way around.

They have a mandate given to them, in trust, by their people, who can also take it away from them if they are found wanting and to have outstayed their welcome.

So looking forward, I see five critical challenges for Africa as it fashions its role in the global security order.

First, at the global level, Africa must have a strong and consistent voice at the pinnacle of the international security architecture – in the Security Council.

Ideally, this means African permanent seats. But until that can be accomplished, Africa must ensure that its positions on international security concerns – and not just African issues – are carefully coordinated and well presented.

Second, at the regional level, we should recognize and applaud the work of the AU and the sub-regional organisations, which have acquired considerable and commendable experience in mounting peace operations.

This effort must continue. But African states will have to give the AU the means to do so and, in future, rely less on outside funding.

Third, looking to the national level, the most urgent challenge is to create enough jobs for the continent’s youth.

According to the World Bank, eleven million young people are expected to enter Africa’s labour market every year for the next decade.

If these young people cannot find jobs, and do not believe in the future, they may be tempted by rebel movements of all kinds, as well as crime and migration.

Wherever I am in Africa, I am always struck not just by the number of young people, but also by their energy, their creativity and their talent.

We should invest in them, harness their talent and ensure that the next generation of leaders will do better than we have done.

Another major challenge lies in building confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.

Elections should be the vehicle for popular choice in which the winner does not take all and the losers do not lose all.

Those who win must recognize that they do not have a licence to rule without restraint or remain in office in perpetuity.

Let us not confuse legality with legitimacy. Elections that meet legal form but fail the test of integrity are only pyrrhic victories that usually store up trouble for the future.

Finally, I want to mention the quality of national security forces. Madiba once said that “freedom would be meaningless without security in the home and in the streets”.

That security in the home and in the streets depends in good measure on our security forces.

We must invest in them but also make them fully accountable as part of our democratic societies. They must be trained to protect the individual and his or her family and property, to earn their trust and work with the people.

We have come a long way from the Cold War days.

Africa is now part and parcel of the global security architecture.

We can and must step up to that role by investing in our people and by protecting rights and not just regimes.

If we do that, I am convinced that our future will be more peaceful and secure than our recent past and Africa will exert a powerful and constructive influence within the global security architecture.

*Real News. Kofi Annan, President of the Kofi Annan Foundation, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Prize Laureate, presented this Keynote Address at the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa which Held from April 16 – 17, 2016, in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

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The State of Peace and Security in Africa
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments
Olusegun Obasanjo

Olusegun Obasanjo

‘Traditional’ causes of conflict, insecurity and violence still persist and have gained greater currency today and when they are unattended and unaddressed, they will invariably lead to group dissatisfaction, breed grievances and incubate injustice.

|  By Olusegun Obasanjo*

  1. When some six years ago, the late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, invited and convinced me to take on the task of establishing and managing the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, little did I realise how African security issues would transform in substantive and radically different ways within half a decade. I shared Meles’ vision and we started to work. In the first year, our topic was diversity and its management as a source of insecurity. In the second year, we moved to organised crime and how to curtail it. In the third year, we dealt with illicit financial flows and its implications on security. Last year, which was the fourth year of the Tana Forum, our topic was Secularism and Politicized Faith in Africa. This year, I am particularly delighted that another timely and appropriate theme has been chosen: on “Africa in the Global Security Agenda.”
  1. Before giving you a panoramic overview of the African security landscape since we met at this same venue one year ago, let me note-with satisfaction-one key addition we have made to the structure of this event: the institutionalisation of the Meles Zenawi Annual Lecture Series. In this series, we examine in as much detail as possible and within the time available, the leadership qualities, styles, deficiencies and legacies of a particular leader. So far, we have x-rayed Meles Zenawi as a leader; we have followed this with Nelson Mandela; then Kwame Nkurumah; and this year, it is Patrice Lumumba. As a young army officer, on UN peacekeeping duties in 1960 in the then Congo Leopoldville, I had the honour of meeting Patrice Lumumba. He was certainly a leader.
  1. The informality that has now become the distinguishing hallmark of the multi-stakeholder Tana Forum is testament to our conviction that mobilising diverse views and perspectives on pertinent security problems, even when the go against conventional wisdom, is crucial in our quest for lasting solutions to the seemingly intractable peace and security challenges we face as a continent. The continent’s challenges are not the issues of a few individuals in Africa but affect all Africans and therefore require all voices to be heard and accommodated. After all, the security challenges experienced by Africans are not contained within the continent only. The same can be said for security challenges from outside which Africans have also to contend with almost on daily basis. Indeed, a testimony to the fact that our lives as Africans are closely intertwined with those of other parts of the world is evident in how violence in one part of the world has grave consequences for stability and security on the continent, and vice versa.
  1. The transnational nature of conflicts today calls for innovative thinking and collaborative action in their resolution. Any sound and long lasting solutions to the myriad of security challenges the continent faces require in-depth analysis of each conflict system inclusive of and led by local actors. Those who breathe and live the disrupting effects of violent conflicts are in a better position to express where the proverbial shoes pinch.
  1. The complexity of existing conflicts, and newly emerging threats, in Africa means there cannot be a one-size fits all approach to managing and resolving them. We need to vary our approaches to suit the local contexts, and to heed the voices of those caught in the web of prolonged violent conflicts. Since we have two days, with eminently qualified persons leading us through the topic for this year, I will not dwell any further on the theme of this year’s Forum.
  1. Now, let us go to the panorama of peace and security challenges on the continent since the last time we all converged at this same venue. It is clear for me that old-or ‘traditional’ causes of conflict, insecurity and violence still persist and have gained greater currency today. They can be one or more of the following: inadequate attention to the issue of diversity, leading to marginalization, exclusions, lack of popular participation; inequity, inequality, uneven development and oppression; inadequate attention to education and unemployment particularly of youth; gender inequality; and of course religious bigotry. The presence of any of these, or more than one, in sufficient magnitude for any length of time, when unattended and unaddressed, invariably lead to group dissatisfaction, breed grievances and incubate injustice. Together, they allow groups to seek redress through a variety of unwholesome means, including armed insurgencies and terrorism.
  1. Developments in Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Côte d’Ivoire, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Somalia and Tunisia reflect the recurrent volatility that confronts the continent on a daily basis. Such protracted conflicts not only have a debilitating impact on the continent’s pathways to development, but also place huge strain on the peace-making, peacekeeping and peace-building efforts of African States and inter-governmental institutions. Even if, as some have claimed that the number of conflicts in Africa has decreased in nominal terms since 2014, we are daily reminded about the fragility and susceptibility of the continent to a variety of ominous and vicious conflicts.
  1. In reflecting on the state of peace and security in Africa in 2015, and its far-reaching repercussions for Africa, and the world, let me quickly underscore the troubling resurgence of Africa’s long-forgotten conflicts. Notably, one of the worst plagued in this regard is the Great Lakes region. We see this recurrence, time and again, in DRC where the situation has remained volatile; marked by the atrocious activities of various armed groups. That conflict, especially in the Eastern DRC, epitomizes the hybrid nature of conflicts in Africa where armed groups are locked in battles that have turned the region into a gangster’s paradise, with serious regional dimensions and ramifications. The international community, led by African governments and institutions, must bear this in mind in fashioning such a viable and sustainable solution to one of the continent’s most intractable conflict.
  1. The potentials of DRC are enormous and so are the internal contestations and contradictions. If care is not taken, the forthcoming election in the DRC is likely going to further fuel the existing conflict. How the election is conducted, for good or bad, will also determine the trajectory of peace in the country, but also across the wider Great Lakes region. It will undoubtedly also become the litmus for AU’s pro-active management of potential conflict and the seriousness and ingenuity of the international community.
  1. If one country deserves our eternal vigilance and decisive action to pull from the brinks of an unnecessary and full-scale war, Burundi would no doubt qualify. No one should disbelief how quickly an already tense situation in that country, one of the poorest in the world according to the UN Human Development Index, has deteriorated-especially following the decision by the incumbent President Pierre Nkuruziza to seek re-election despite the evident constitutional backlashes. To date, the government has not only remained headstrong but also seemed determined to defy wise counsel from the international community; including those from the African Union.
  1. Despite the endorsement by the UN Security Council via statement of December 19, 2015 of the decision of the AU to deploy 5,000-strong troops to maintain law and order, and to protect civilians, the government in Bujumbura vehemently opposes its deployment, and even went as far as threatening to treat it as an army of occupation. It is not surprising to me, however, shameful, that during the just-concluded AU Assembly in January 2016, the Union quietly stepped back from its earlier proposal by adopting a position virtually encouraging what is going on in Burundi. The on-going situation in Burundi only makes Africa a laughing stock. Collectively, African leaders must summon the political will to bring a quick and durable solution to the country.
  1. Collectively, African leaders must summon the political will to bring a quick and durable solution to the country. Whatever it takes, a solution must be put in place to move the country towards peace, security and progress; and to stem the tide of flow of refugees that is threatening neighbouring countries. I must express what may be a distasteful personal opinion here: I found it contrary to the Constitutive Act of the AU that Burundi should threaten the AU; and by such threat, abdicate its responsibility. Before it is too late, the AU must therefore live up to its responsibility in such a situation to save the lives of Africans.
  1. However, we must not feel shy of demanding and insistently so, for restitution from the US and Europe for unlocking the virus through the action of NATO in Libya. President Obama’s conscience may be clear by admitting recently that he and his NATO allies created a mess in Libya, but that does not pay for the hardship suffered by our people. They should not look away while we grapple with the consequences of their action. Such strength of AU and regional economic communities to make demands for harm done and to stand firm on our responsibilities must obviate a situation where, like in Mali and Central African Republic, African forces were not able to intervene before troops from outside came in. How do we talk of African solutions for African problems when in the face of problems we are impotent to act promptly and decisively? That was not the situation in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo and Darfur. Africa can, if there is political will and leadership.
  1. Another major flashpoint is Darfur. That conflict alone, long only slightly on our radar, continues to generate unprecedented humanitarian crisis leading to the outflow of tens of thousands of civilians from their homes. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate with the displacement of more than 2.5 million civilians on the last count.
  1. In the south of the continent, Mozambique is now grappling with a residue of conflict between two diehard archenemies: the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and the Resistance Movement of Mozambique (RENAMO). With its roots in an earlier civil war which started in 1977, just two years following a devastating spell of independence war, the present conflict flared up in 2013 due to factors not far from festering power contestations, perennial concerns about governance conditions, and of course, the recent discovery of natural resources such as coal and gas.
  1. Whereas many parts of Africa may not necessarily be experiencing overt forms of direct violence, they are nonetheless faced with unprecedented situations of fragility and vulnerability to conflicts. Zimbabwe offers a good example in this regard; but it should not by any means be considered a poster case. More than two years to the next general elections in 2018, tension is already brewing around leadership contestations and factional politics within the ruling and opposition parties, and between them. The dust has not fully settled on the Ugandan post-election situation, and we must not miss the ominous prospects in Zambia.
  1. Of the ten countries that the International Crisis Group identified as conflicts to watch in 2016, four are in Africa: Libya, Lake Chad Basin with the epicentre in Nigeria, South Sudan and Burundi. Other areas that are low-levelled but are nonetheless smouldering are Mali and Somalia, even as pockets of insurgencies linger in Algeria, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic. The conflict between Western Sahara and Morocco continues to linger many decades since it first broke out, while ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood are far from being spent forces in Egypt. In recent times, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, like Tunisia, have been hit by a new wave of terrorism which goes for the soft underbelly of seemingly conflict-free countries; killing innocent men and women in international hotels and popular resorts.
  1. No country in Africa can claim immunity against this new wave, and none of them can claim to be adequately prepared for it. We are all potential victims that we are left with no choice but to share intelligence, plan together and work together. Because terrorists have become creative with the use of modern infrastructures of border communication, transportation and financial transaction, African governments must make these facilities useful and indispensable servants in the fight against new generation terrorists whose objective is to destroy, instil fear, and kill while rendering government impotent to provide adequate security for their citizens.
  1. In all these cases, it is important to flag how decades of missed developmental opportunities have partly played a part in the exclusion and alienation of youth who now form the bulk of those that have found alternative spaces for rebellion and other forms of insurgent and terrorist activities.
  1. Let me now come to the dangerous and dehumanizing issue of migration from Africa to Europe, which has made the Mediterranean the maritime graveyard for many of our able-bodied brothers and sisters. There are two basic causes; first, physical insecurity due to violence; and second, economic insecurity due to unemployment and poverty. The answer, or antidote, to both is here in Africa, in our different countries, if only we can muster the necessary political will and commitment to act. The only way, in my view, to stem the tide is to embark on policies, programmes and strategies that create jobs and eliminate conditions that impoverishes, dehumanizes and snatches the dignity and self-pride of our people from them. For every African that dies crossing the Mediterranean either trying to escape violence or economic insecurity, our collective conscience as African leaders must be troubled.
  1. Today, Africans are grappling with the challenges associated with climate change; which, by the way, is no longer esoteric and ‘distant’, but have also become such a difficult burden we have to bear. Climate change not only undermines economic growth and development, but also poses significant threat to the continent’s food security even as it is fuelling other environmental vulnerabilities and conflicts. While climate change is affecting every part of the globe, I would hasten to add that the African continent would likely be more vulnerable to its adverse impacts being already the warmest continent.
  1. The threat from climate change is compounded by our limited access to requisite adaptation knowledge, technologies and institutions. The African Group of Negotiators tried their best to make Africa’s voice heard during the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris; making the strong point that Africa only produces 7% of the world’s CO-2 emissions but faces the most threats from global pollution. The adoption of a Common African Position at that meeting, in my view, was an exemplary step to position Africa on the global climate agenda; and, by extension, on the international security agenda.
  1. Let’s not ignore the myriad other non-conventional threats to security in Africa, but zero in on the one directly linked to the deterioration, or outright collapse, of public health systems in many countries across the continent. Not too long ago, in fact from early 2014 to the end of 2015, Africa grappled with the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease, with countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea being the most severely affected. Although the frightening phase seems to be over, but it is too early to celebrate that we have put it, or other diseases, behind us. There is no doubt that the impact of this epidemic was monumental on the continent’s fledgling governance and socio-economic landscape. We must learn the right lessons for the future and make adequate preparation. No country is immune.
  1. The prerequisite to tackle all of the pressing security issues spilling over from 2015 to 2016, and to strengthening Africa’s standing in the international security agenda is leadership. Here, I should emphasize leadership on all levels -local, municipal, national, regional, continental and global. Where and when leadership is asserted, commitment should follow. Commitment means putting our money where our problems are, not expecting others to take the lead on our behalf. Africa needs to start taking responsibility, in concrete terms, by funding its own peace initiatives and developmental priorities.
  1. To start with, AU member-States must pay their contributions to the general budget, and also those for critical political missions and peace operations. An organization that is still mostly funded by external donors, including for the most basic routine of travels, will only have limited elbowroom, or policy autonomy, when the interests of its key benefactors are at stake.
  1. I would like to return to my earlier point, by way of conclusion, that the security threats that Africa faces affect the rest of the world; just as those faced by the rest of the world have profound implication for Africa. This means, in my view, that we have no choice than to work together. We therefore need to explore the far-reaching benefits and opportunities of our mutual interdependence to create the kind of partnerships that are crucial to overcoming common security challenges.
  1. While we are grateful to our technical and financial partners, my take is that Africa has sufficiently come of age to choose its partners wisely if it must secure the common goal of peace and security for itself, and the rest of the world. As a continent, we need to take a serious look our security priorities and infrastructure, and ask a number of overdue questions: what can Africans do themselves to deal with these issues; where does Africa need to partner with international actors; and what should be the continent’s role in formulating security policies globally? Let us try to answer these questions, and more during this year’s Forum.
  • Source Real Magazine.Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria and chairman of the Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa delivered this paper entitled: “The State of Peace and Security in Africa 2016″ at the Tana Forum which took place in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on Saturday, April 16, 2016
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The Spirit of Tana
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

The spirit of Tana forum encourages open debate on security issues in Africa uninhibited by secrecy that characterises formal engagements on such matters

By Prof. Andreas Eshete*

Andreas-Eshete-450x450At this, the fifth Tana forum, it may well be premature for a full-fledged retrospective. Still, a glance at the past may help to remind us what inspires and animates our annual gathering at Tana.

Tana Forum began as an initiative of the Institute of Peace and Security Studies of Addis Ababa University, Inspired by the exemplary work of the Munich Security Conference. The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the first champion of Tana Forum, was convinced that the Forum would serve to promote two companion aims, aims that he artfully and passionately pursued throughout the course of his public life. First, to enrich reasoned public discussion on the challenges of peace and security facing Africans in ways that extend the reach and depth of the terms of public debate; and; second, to foster a shared understanding of the nature and source of these challenges in order to forge a collective African vision, voice and capability on how best to avoid and overcome African’s troubles in this area. The idea was not, of course, to supplement the valuable work of formal institutions. To the contrary, Meles Zenawi worked tirelessly to strengthen African regional and continental institutions such as IGAD, NEPAD and the African Union as well as to elevate their international standing. The aim instead was to complement the efforts of Africa’s formal institutions by exploring the distinctive possibilities and virtues of alternative public fora for reflection and conversation.

Tana Forum offers a public space for reasoned deliberation unfettered by either the mandate and formalities of official fora or the exigencies in such bodies for reaching decisions and taking actions. The determination to convene an unceremonious assembly was evident from the beginning. I recall our distinguished chair, Chief Obasanjo’s, in a characteristic expression of his wise stewardship, casting aside part of his robe during an early forum to highlight the call for an unbuttoned exchange of ideas. The Forum chose to solicit the hospitality of the city and people of Bahir Dar in order to secure a peaceful and beautiful haven, where the participants can wholeheartedly join public discussions undistracted by official engagements. There are various reasons in favor of an informal African forum on peace and security. For one thing, national discussions on immediate matters of security tend to be inhibited by secrecy and other considerations of state. Second, national and other formal fora are not readily responsive to the fact that many challenges to African security increasingly defy national borders, and that this reach extends beyond the continent. Consider, for instances, the deft deployment of social media for propaganda and recruitment by militant groups. Further, personal and public virtues like toleration, crucial for the fate of peace and security, cannot be engendered or bolstered by formal institutions alone. Finally, the strains and divisions that surfaced in the European Union in the wake of the recent flow of refugees to Europe is a salutary reminder of the risks incurred and frailties exposed by banking on formal arrangements.

Another feature that breathes life into the proceedings of the Forum is the unusually wide range of interlocutors. There are in our midst political leaders, senior officers of intergovernmental institutions and prominent members of civic and business communities. Also present are scholars, seasoned practitioners, youth, and Africa’s committed partners. The robust representation of leaders and citizens from a wide spectrum of African society matters because the cause of peace and security is everyone’s concern and its imperilment is felt more by the many poor and vulnerable. On the latter, think of the truly tragic use of abducted young girls as sexual slaves and suicide bombers by Boko Harem. Tana affords a rare opportunity for us to hear African leaders of state and government speaking in a personal capacity and voice. The presence of former heads of state and government, now released from the responsibilities of public office, enables us to benefit from their practical wisdom and experience. The interaction between incumbent political leaders and individuals with whom they do not normally enjoy direct contact may reveal aspects of the character, values and convictions of Africa’s leaders that go beyond or against the grain of their public self –image? Moreover, the diversity of participants and perspectives contributes to the democratic ethos of the deliberation at Tana. Amartya Sen remarks: “democracy has to be judged…by the extent to which different voices from diverse sections of the people are actually heard.” In this respect Tana Forum modestly carries on a venerable tradition of democratic participation practiced at different times and places much as the early American town-hall meeting, the Paris Commune, and the African village assembly, here symbolized by the tree depicted before you.

The subjects so far selected for attention at the Forum address issues central to the achievement of peace and security in Africa. The significance of diversity and state fragility — the theme of the maiden session — has been vindicated by developments in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and by the spread of militant movements marching under the banner of faith — the latter was the focus of last year’s forum. Another session looked into the illicit flow of funds from Africa. The Panama Papers and the numerous African cases already revealed in the files vividly show that the rich and powerful secretly divert scarce African resources at the expense of the populace’s abiding interest in growth and equality, this year’s them unities us to take a measure of how we are treated in the global security agenda and to explore promising possibilities to enhance Africa’s agency in shaping it in the future.

Beyond the examination of these subjects, the Forum now hosts the annual Meles Zenawi memorial lecture devoted to critical appraisals of political leadership in Africa.

The series opened with a look at Meles Zenawi’s bold experiment with federative arrangements designed to find public room for Ethiopia’s many cultural communities and identities. The inaugural session also addressed Meles Zenawi’s learned advocacy and decisive public action to lay the foundation of an African democratic developmental state. Subsequent lectures attended to the illustrious lives of Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah and, now, Patrice Lumumba.

Alongside the forum, there are now regular occasions for interaction among participants at the forum and the students and academic staff of Bahir Dar University on issues that bear on the concerns of the Forum.

Yesterday, Her Excellency, Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda, spoke on the rationale for an African developmental state, drawing upon the encouraging experience of Rwanda.

In sum, in a short span of time, the Forum has emerged as a vibrant vehicle for public discussion and reflection on how Africa can be free from recurrent and recalcitrant strife, strike which plainly stands in the way of popular yearning for enduring progress in self-government and emancipation from poverty across Africa. This is an auspicious beginning for joining the quest to revisit and to revive a sense a sense of Pan-African solidarity that we, together would the continued support with his Excellency Prime Minister Hailemariam Deslagen and our partners, can now carry forward with confidence.

. Culled from Real Magazine.Prof . Andreas Eshete, special advisor to the prime minister of Ethiopia and deputy chairperson of the Tana Forum Board presented this speech at the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa which held on April 16 – 17, 2016 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

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African leaders’ relatives named in Panama Papers
April 4, 2016 | 0 Comments
The eldest son of former president of Ghana John Kufuor is said in leaked documents to have controlled a $75,000 bank account in Panama for his father and his mother that he ran through an offshore company (AFP Photo/Mujahid Safodien)

The eldest son of former president of Ghana John Kufuor is said in leaked documents to have controlled a $75,000 bank account in Panama for his father and his mother that he ran through an offshore company (AFP Photo/Mujahid Safodien)

Paris (AFP) – A nephew of South African President Jacob Zuma and the son of Ghana’s former president John Agyekum Kufuor were among African figures named in the Panama Papers trove of leaked tax documents.

Zuma’s nephew, Clive Khulubuse Zuma, is a cigar-chomping mining magnate who is thought to own up to 19 collectible cars.

The documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca show that Khulubuse Zuma was authorised to represent Caprikat Limited, one of two offshore companies that controversially acquired oil fields in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2010, as questions were raised about the acquisition, British Virgin Islands authorities ordered Mossack Fonseca to provide additional background information on Zuma. Later that year, Mossack Fonseca ended its relationship with the companies.

Zuma and representatives of the companies have rejected allegations of wrongdoing and claimed the oil deals are “quite attractive” to the DRC government.

Also implicated is John Addo Kufuor, the eldest son of Ghana’s former president John Agyekum Kufuor, who led the country from 2001 to 2009.

A trained accountant, the younger Kufuor is said in the documents to have controlled a $75,000 bank account in Panama for his father and his mother that he ran through an offshore company. He did not respond to the ICIJ’s requests for comment.

The son of Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso also appears in the Mossack Fonseca files, in the 1990s.

Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso is said to have approached Mossack Fonseca about setting up a company based in the British Virgin Islands, called Phoenix Best Finance, according to the French daily Le Monde, which is one of the media partners for the release of the documents.

Sassou Nguesso told Le Monde he did not know the law firm and had no knowledge of Phoenix Best Finance.

The documents were first obtained by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung a year ago, led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and involving more than 100 publications from nearly 80 countries.

*Source AFP/Yahoo

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Danny Glover to Chair. Pan African Institute
March 31, 2016 | 1 Comments
Danny Glover Actor, Director, Producer, Political Activist

Danny Glover
Actor, Director, Producer, Political Activist

The Institute of the Black World 21st Century has tapped Danny Glover, Actor, Humanitarian, Activist and Chairman of the Trans-Africa Forum to be the Honorary Chairman of the Pan African Institute at State of the Black World Conference IV. The Pan African Institute will focus on the struggle for democracy and development in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America within the context of the U.N. Decade for People of African descent and the global movement for Reparatory Justice.

A major Town Hall Meeting will be devoted to exploring developments in U.S. and global Reparations Movements. Former Heads of State, activists, organizers, scholars, artists and opinion leaders from around the Pan African World are expected to participate in what promises to be a historic and impactful gathering!

*Source SOBWC

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RANDGOLD UNIQUELY POSITIONED TO SUSTAIN VALUE DELIVERY, SAYS CEO
March 31, 2016 | 0 Comments

London, 31 March 2016  –  Randgold Resources’ operations are strongly placed to generate robust cash flows even at gold prices below current levels and to continue delivering value to all stakeholders, says chief executive Mark Bristow in the company’s 2015 annual report published today.

Dr. Mark Bristow, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Randgold Resources

Dr. Mark Bristow, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Randgold Resources

What the gold mining industry needs, says Bristow, is to make new discoveries, as even a significant rise in the gold price and an injection of fresh capital will at best enable it to clear its debt, but will provide little scope for adding any value or reversing the production decline.  Through its consistent investment in exploration and development Randgold, in contrast, was projecting sustained growth from a solid foundation.

“Our mines have been modelled to generate cash flows at gold prices well below the $1 000/oz level.  Our positive production and cost profiles extend to a 10-year horizon, we have had no impairments or write-downs, and have substantial cash resources.  Our exploration teams are not only replacing the ounces we deplete but are making significant progress in the hunt for our next big discovery.  In fact, we are in a unique position to continue delivering value to all our stakeholders,” he says.

Randgold set a new annual production record of more than 1.2 million ounces in 2015, up 6% on the previous year, while reducing group total cash cost per ounce by 3% to $679.  Strong cash flows from the operations boosted cash on hand by 158% to $213.4 million but profit for the year was $212.8 million against the previous year’s $271.1 million, reflecting the decline in the gold price.  The board nevertheless recommended a 10% increase in the annual dividend.

Also in the annual report, chairman Christopher Coleman reports that even in the current challenging market, Randgold is not reducing its investment in corporate and social programmes, in line with its philosophy that sustainability is central to all its activities.

“Randgold’s social initiatives extend far beyond the life of its mines.  At all its operations, it is developing ambitious legacy projects designed to provide a permanent source of employment and economic opportunity to these communities.  Based on agriculture, the primary building block of any developing economy, these range from training and funding would-be commercial farmers to a wide spectrum of agribusiness initiatives, many of which are already supplying local markets.  The company is equally mindful of the health and safety of its employees, and it strives constantly to improve an already exemplary record in this regard,” he says.

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PROGRESSIVE DIVIDEND MAINTAINED AS RANDGOLD BUILDS CASH FOR FUTURE GROWTH
March 31, 2016 | 0 Comments
Banner_-_Loulo_UG_-_March_2016London, 31 March 2016  –  In its annual report for 2015, published today, Randgold Resources reaffirmed its intention to continue to pay a progressive ordinary dividend that will increase or at least be maintained annually.  The board has proposed a 10% increase in the 2015 dividend to $0.66 per share for approval at its annual general meeting on 3 May 2016.

Commenting on this statement, financial director Graham Shuttleworth said that at a time when the gold mining industry was focused on survival, Randgold was able to maintain its dividend policy on the back of last year’s strong performance.  He confirmed that the company still intended to build its net cash position to approximately $500 million to provide financing flexibility for future new mine developments and other growth opportunities.

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Morocco 1st to qualify for African Cup, Nigeria misses out
March 30, 2016 | 0 Comments
The Super Eagles have taken a nose dive since Stephen Keshi was fired as head coach

The Super Eagles have taken a nose dive since Stephen Keshi was fired as head coach

Morocco became the first team to qualify for next year’s African Cup of Nations with a 2-0 win over Cape Verde on Tuesday as new coach Herve Renard delivered immediate success.

Egypt is on the brink of making it to Gabon and its first Cup of Nations since 2010 following a 1-0 home win over Nigeria in front of 40,000 people in Alexandria. That eliminated Nigeria, the 2013 African champion.

Current title holder Ivory Coast remains on course to defend its title at the 2017 finals despite being held 1-1 in Sudan.

Renard, who won African Cups as coach of Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast last year, took over Morocco last month. He oversaw away and home wins over Cape Verde in the last four days to ensure the North Africans won Group F with two rounds of games to spare.

Youssef El Arabi scored twice for Morocco on Tuesday to leave Cape Verde, Africa’s top-ranked team, seeking to qualify as one of the two best second-place teams from the 13 groups. The group winners qualify automatically.

Highly-rated teenage midfielder Ramadan Sobhi scored the crucial goal for the record seven-time champion Egypt against Nigeria in the 65th minute at Alexandria’sBorg El-Arab Stadium, where a longstanding ban on fans attending games in large numbers in Egypt was temporarily lifted.

Egypt, whose national soccer team’s fortunes have dipped dramatically with the onset of political turmoil in the country, needs just a draw with Tanzania in its final qualifier in June. Egypt can even qualify if it loses that game by two goals or less.

The 18-year-old Sobhi made another vital contribution with his winner from a low shot that was deflected home through a crowd of players. He set up the equalizer in Egypt’s 1-1 draw in Nigeria at the weekend.

Egypt’s national team won its record-extending seventh title in 2010 but the one-time dominant force in African soccer was absent for the last three continental championships while football at home was marred by violent clashes that reflected the political strife in Egypt.

Nigeria has now failed to make two straight African Cups. Nigeria’s fate wasn’t helped by the withdrawal of Chad from the qualifying competition on Sunday, reducing Group G to three teams and meaning there is no chance of a place for Nigeria as one of the two best second-place teams. They have to come from groups with four teams.

Also on Tuesday, Cameroon took a big step toward qualifying by drawing 0-0 inSouth Africa and, in another big matchup, Togo and Tunisia also drew 0-0 in a game that marked the return to internationals for Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor. Adebayor couldn’t convert an early chance and the Tunisians celebrated their away draw at the final whistle.

That Togo-Tunisia result left Liberia top of Group A in a major surprise and in line for its first appearance at the African Cup since 2002. Liberia beat Djibouti 5-0, with Spain-based striker William Jebor netting a hat trick. Djibouti, one of the world’s six lowest-ranked teams, was eliminated after conceding 15 goals in four games.

Sudan held current African champion Ivory Coast to a 1-1 draw with Max Gradel and Muhand El Tahir scoring. Ivory Coast is still top and in position for the automatic qualification place from their group with two rounds of games to go in June and September.

While the likes of Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ghana, Cameroon, Mali, Algeria and Senegal all lead their groups, minnows Liberia, Zimbabwe and Guinea Bissau have provided the surprise stories and are also on course to qualify.

*AP/USA Today

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Tony Elumelu Foundation Picks 1,000 for $ 100 million Entrepreneurship Programme
March 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L*

A second set of 1,000 Africans has been selected to join the $ 100 million Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme –TEEP.

TEF Founder Tony Elumelu flanked by Foundation CEO Parmindar Vir and Selection Committee member Angelle Kwemo

TEF Founder Tony Elumelu flanked by Foundation CEO Parmindar Vir and Selection Committee member Angelle Kwemo

According to a statement from the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the successful candidates represent diverse industries including agriculture, ICT, and fashion. Over 45,000 applications were registered from 54 countries with the highest numbers coming from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon.

The release from the Foundation indicates that for the next nine months, the selected entrepreneurs will receive intensive online training, networking and mentoring that provides a tool kit for success and sustainability. Later in the year, the entrepreneurs will join in the three day Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum which is the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurial talent.

“The 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs will become a generation of newly empowered African business owners, who are the clearest evidence yet, that indigenous business growth will drive Africa’s economic and social transformation,” Founder Tony Elumelu ,commented.

“In TEEP’s first year we spent over $8 million of our $100 million commitment – with $5 million going directly to entrepreneurs as seed capital — and the results have far exceeded our expectations,” said Elumelu .

To TEEP selection committee member Angelle Kwemo, it was a daunting task making the choice from the avalanche of brilliant and viable ideas. “We believe in Africa and the potential of its people,” said Kwemo, a Cameroonian, and Founder & chair of Believe in Africa, a US based organization promoting African economic transformation.

“The TEEP is proving to be one of the most effective tools in support of job creation and it should be adopted and duplicated,” Kwemo said, as she challenged other African businessmen and leaders to join forces or emulate the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Describing TEEP as “a life changing, challenging but rewarding journey,” Angelle Kwemo was pleased with the surge in French speaking entrepreneurs led in numbers by Cameroon. Wishing the new participants luck, Kwemo said Africa is looking forward to the full blown manifestation of the incredible potentials of the entrepreneurs.

Launched in 2015, TEEP is the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship and represents a 10-year, $100 million commitment, to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, create a million jobs and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is an Africa-based, African-funded philanthropic organization. Founded in 2010, TEF is committed to driving African economic growth, by empowering African entrepreneurship. The Foundation aims to create lasting solutions that contribute positively to Africa’s social and economic transformation. Through impact investments, selective grant making, and policy development, it seeks to influence the operating environment so that entrepreneurship in Africa can flourish

 

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