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Ethiopian Airlines opens new air route to south west China
May 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

A direct flight has opened between Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, and Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Operated by Ethiopian Airlines, it will depart from Chengdu every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with a travel time of 9.5 hours.

It is the second direct air route from Chengdu to Africa, also the 100th international and regional air route to operate at Chengdu airport.

Ethiopian Airlines has direct air routes to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

The airline now serves 13 airports in Asia on 100 weekly flights.

*Reuters/Africanews

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Ethiopia’s Tedros wins WHO race, first African to get top job
May 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister and foreign minister, received more than half the votes in the third round.

Ethiopia’s Tedros wins on third ballot

* Offers more geographical representation of WHO jobs

By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles*

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

GENEVA, May 23 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus won the race to be the next head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday, becoming the first African to lead the United Nations agency.

The former health minister and foreign minister received more than half the votes in the first round and eventually won a decisive third-round election to beat Britain’s David Nabarro to the job.

“It’s a victory day for Ethiopia and for Africa,” Ethiopia’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Negash Kebret Botora told Reuters before Tedros, as he is widely known, was to take the floor at the WHO’s annual ministerial assembly.

Six candidates had stood to take the helm at the WHO, which is tasked with combating outbreaks and chronic diseases.

The job has never before been earned through a competitive election and health officials from all over the globe thronged the assembly hall in the U.N.’s Geneva headquarters where voting took place behind closed doors.

Tedros will begin his five-year term after Margaret Chan, a former Hong Kong health director, steps down after 10 years on June 30. Chan leaves a mixed legacy, after WHO’s slow response to West Africa’s Ebola epidemic in 2013-2016, which killed 11,300 people.

In a last pitch before voting began, Tedros had appealed to ministers by promising to represent their interests and to ensure more countries got top jobs at the Geneva-based WHO.

“I will listen to you. I was one of you. I was in your shoes and I can understand you better,” Tedros told the ministers. “I know what it takes to strengthen the frontlines of healthcare and innovate around the constraints.”

Tedros was widely seen as having the support of about 50 African votes, but questions about his role in restricting human rights and Ethiopia’s cover-up of a cholera outbreak surfaced late in the race, threatening to tarnish his appeal.

Nabarro, a WHO insider who has worked for 40 years in international public health, had pitched himself as a “global candidate”.

Chan, in a speech on Monday, urged ministers to tackle inequalities as a “guiding ethical principle”.

“Scientific evidence is the bedrock of policy. Protect it. No one knows whether evidence will retain its persuasive power in what many now describe as a post-truth world,” she said.

*Reuters

 

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How Trump’s Uncertainty on Africa Could be China’s Gain
May 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Conor Gaffey*

LEFT: United States President Donald Trump. RIGHT: President Uhuru Kenyatta

LEFT: United States President Donald Trump. RIGHT: President Uhuru Kenyatta

China is set to benefit from a possible pulling back of investment by U.S. companies in Africa under the Trump administration, according to a report.

The number of Chinese-funded projects increased by more than 100 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the Africa Attractiveness survey released on Wednesday by EY, formerly Ernst & Young.

By contrast, the number of American foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Africa fell by 5.2 percent in 2016, although the United States remains the leading overall investor in Africa. Chinese projects also created more than 38,000 jobs in Africa, more than three times as many as American investments.

Since coming to office, President Donald Trump has had little to say about U.S. policy on Africa under his administration. The Trump administration is yet to appoint a head of the African Affairs bureau in the State Department and has made only a handful of calls to African leaders, though the U.S. president did receive Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at the White House in April.

Trump Sissi meeting President Trump meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on April 3. Trump’s meeting with Sisi was his first with an African leader since becoming president in January. Kevin Lamarque/reuters

While the EY report measures private investment in Africa, as opposed to government-to-government investment or aid, any changes in U.S.-Africa policy may have an impact on business relations. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which was instituted in 2000 and allows tariff-free access for certain goods from African countries into the U.S., is one example of where policy and business could collide. Trump has not commented directly on the AGOA, but his favoring of bilateral trade deals over multi-party agreements would suggest a preference for individually-negotiated deals that benefited the United States, not just Africa.

Michael Lalor, the head of EY’s Africa Business Center, says that while he does not foresee a marked decrease in U.S. investment in Africa in the short term, significant policy changes could impact on the likelihood of U.S. businesses starting new investments on the continent.

“A strength of U.S.-led investment in Africa has been the connectedness of investment. Business and government and development agencies aren’t acting in isolation,” says Lalor, citing the Power Africa program—an initiative launched by President Barack Obama in 2013 to bring 30,000 megawatts of electricity to sub-Saharan Africa—as an example.

“It helps to have government and business on the same page…The danger is that this might be a more fragmented approach to investment, versus the approach from other countries—China is a good example—where it is quite an integrated approach,” says Lalor. “It might just blunt the competitive advantage of the U.S. in Africa.”

While the rate of investment slowed, the U.S. continued to be the leading inward investor in Africa, accounting for 13.5 percent of total FDI projects on the continent. The main target for investment by American companies was South Africa, where 28 of the 91 U.S.-sourced FDI projects were based. South Africa has long been a hub of international investment in Africa: It is the continent’s biggest and most industrialized economy. Behind it, U.S. companies also invested heavily in North Africa, particularly Morocco (14 projects) and Egypt (13 projects).

“Counting the sheer number of projects is a rather questionable measure of FDI when compared to actual capital invested. By the latter, the United States remains Africa’s most important partner,” says J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council.

Kenya China flag A Kenyan dock worker waves a Chinese flag during a farewell ceremony for a Chinese naval ship before it leaves the Kenyan port city of Mombasa for Tanzania on October 18, 2010. The number of Chinese investment projects in Africa increased by more than 100 percent in 2016, according to a report. JEAN CURRAN/AFP/Getty

Pham also says that the business acumen possessed by Trump and members of his administration means that “commercial diplomacy” will likely take a more central role under Trump, benefitting both U.S. firms and Africa.

Morocco is an example of where this could be true, Pham says. The EY report ranked the North African country as the most attractive destination for international investors in 2017, based on six factors including economic resilience, market size and ease of doing business. Morocco is the only African country—and one of only 20 countries in total—to have a free trade agreement with the United States, which entered into force in 2006. The deal has contributed to a massive increase in U.S.-Morocco trade, from $35 million in 2005 to $844.2 million in 2016. “American firms are especially well-positioned to triangulate in their business with Africa through Morocco,” says Pham.

China has been involved in Africa for at least 60 years and is the continent’s single largest trade partner. As well as trade and FDI, the Chinese government and state-run entities have undertaken enormous infrastructure projects in Africa—such as a $4 billion, 450-mile railway linking the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti, launched in October 2016—in exchange for privileged access to Africa’s huge marketplace of people and resources and increased international status.

Beijing has also been a huge contributor of development assistance to African countries. At a 2015 China-Africa summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion in assistance, including grants, loans and aid to the continent.

In his budget proposal released in March, President Trump proposed cutting the budget of the State Department and foreign aid by 28 percent, as well as eliminating various government agencies, including the African Development Foundation, which promotes development by investing in African enterprises.

While aid and investment are two different things, U.S. companies are likely to follow the administration’s lead in drawing back from Africa, says Stephen Chan, professor of world politics at SOAS University of London. “Investors will take aid cutbacks as a political signal and one that will lead to possible insecurity in the country concerned. So investors will be more cautious and I expect a decline in the volume of investment,” says Chan.

Such a pullback could mean strategic losses in U.S. influence in Africa and leave further space for China to capitalize, says Chan. “For China, the benefits are upstream in a future where a growing Chinese economy will have grown to need African resources and paybacks from FDI and aid commitments made now,” says Chan. “The Chinese, as ever, are playing a long game. President Trump, at the moment, is playing no game at all in Africa.”

*Newsweek

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CCA President and CEO Visits Ghana, Nigeria on West Africa Tour
May 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

CCA President and CEO, Florizelle Liser and H.E. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Acting President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

Washington, DC – May 16, 2017: Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) President and CEO, Ms. Florizelle Liser met with H.E. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Acting President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and other high level government officials and business leaders on her first official trip to West Africa as part of the ongoing effort to promote trade, investment and business engagement between the United States and Africa.

 CCA, a Washington D.C. based organization, is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa. On this inaugural visit to West Africa as CCA’s CEO, Ms. Liser visited Ghana and Nigeria.

 Ms. Liser kicked off her trip on Tuesday in Accra, Ghana, where she met with the Honorable Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry. There was a vibrant discussion on efforts to enhance Ghana’s export of value added products to the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), to incentivize manufacturing and job creation in key sectors, and to make the reforms needed to attract investment to Ghana. She also met with Ambassador Robert Jackson, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, and Mr. Yoofi Grant, CEO Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) who shared that there would be a large delegation of Ghanaian businesses participating in CCA’s U.S.-Africa Business Summit on June 13-16, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

 In Nigeria, Ms. Liser met with H.E Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Acting President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama, Honorable Minister for Foreign Affairs; Dr. Okechukwu E. Enelamah, Honorable Minister for Industry, Trade And Investment; Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum; Mrs. Yewande Sadiku, CEO, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC); Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, Executive Director and CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) as well as the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria.

 Acting President Osinbajo congratulated Ms. Liser on her new role and spoke about potential areas for collaboration with CCA. He emphasized the importance of driving trade and investment between both countries. He also spoke about diversifying Nigerian exports to the United States and taking greater advantage of AGOA market access beyond oil, the importance of Nigeria being positioned in global supply chains, reforms around the ease of doing business, and the progress being made in the Niger Delta.

 At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Onyeama spoke about his plan to drive economic diplomacy and leverage Nigeria’s 114 foreign offices to drive FDI into Nigeria. “At the last [United National General Assembly] UNGA, we were in touch with CCA and we were very impressed with the enthusiasm of U.S. businesses to engage with Nigeria,” said Minister Onyeama.

 Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, commended Ms. Liser and CCA for their work supporting Nigeria’s efforts to create an enabling business environment in Nigeria and promote U.S.-Nigeria business partnerships. “Many years ago, when we were starting the Africa Capital Alliance,” said Minister Enelamah, “CCA played an important role when there was a strain in the relationship between U.S. and Nigeria, thus ensuring lots of businesses were kept alive.” Nigeria recently approved the establishment of the Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiation. One of the functions of the office is to drive proactive negotiation in the areas of trade and investment. The Ministry will be the focal ministry in trade negotiations while the other ministry-members of the presidential economic team will support.

Florizelle Liser and Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum, Federal Republic of Nigeria

Florizelle Liser and Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum, Federal Republic of Nigeria

 At the meeting with Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum, Ms. Liser commended his efforts on “7-big wins” in the oil sector and stressed the importance of Africa to the U.S. especially in the oil and gas sectors.  The Minister discussed plans for modular refineries. The modular refineries model being introduced will be tailor-made to the Niger Delta and the ministry would support investors looking to navigate the complex business environment. The Ministry also asked for CCA and its members’ support in streamlining and standardizing technology in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. “We look to CCA when we have something strategic to do with the governments of Africa and promoting greater U.S. FDI into Africa. We are in a trying period and we are looking at whatever investments that come into Nigeria” said the Hon. Minister.

Florizelle Liser and Mr. Aliko Dangote, Dangote Group

Florizelle Liser and Mr. Aliko Dangote, Dangote Group

 Ms. Liser also had individual meetings with CCA members Mr. Aliko Dangote of Dangote Industries Limited  and Mr. Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank, both of whom sit on CCA’s Board of Directors.  On Friday, Ms. Liser was hosted to a special dinner by Mr. Aliko Dangote, which was attended by Mr. Ovia and a dozen leading Nigerian private sector stakeholders to discuss ways to promote greater U.S.-Nigeria investment and business partnerships, and more broadly, to raise the continent’s profile as an important U.S. partner for global business. They also discussed CCA’s upcoming U.S.-Africa Business Summit in June in Washington, D.C. as an important opportunity to showcase that partnership.

 CCA has 30 member companies in Ghana and Nigeria – indigenous and multinationals – including leading businesses like Dangote Industries Limited, Microsoft, Zenith Bank, ExxonMobil, Procter & Gamble, Adepetun Caxton-Martins Agbor & Segun (ACAS-LAW), Caterpillar and Afro Tourism. About 15 percent of CCA member companies are African, and Nigerian firms make up almost 50 percent of that number. CCA has a satellite office in Abuja, which is led by Mr. Ekenem Isichei, Director for West Africa.

 About Corporate Council on Africa (CCA)

Florizelle Liser and Honorable Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, Republic of Ghana

Florizelle Liser and Honorable Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, Republic of Ghana

Corporate Council on Africa is the leading U.S business association focused solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa. CCA uniquely represents a broad cross section of member companies from small and medium size businesses to multinationals as well as U.S and African firms. Learn more at www.corporatecouncilonafrica.com. For more information  contact  Michaela Ehimika

mehimika@corporatecouncilonafrica.com  .Tel 202-263-3531

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South Africa: SA ‘Working On Scrapping Visa for All African Citizens’
May 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
Photo: Pixababy

Photo: Pixababy

South Africa is working towards allowing all African citizens to enter the country without visas – but at first “trusted travellers” like diplomats, officials, academics, business people and students will be the only ones to benefit.

The Department of Home Affairs outlines the steps that will be taken towards scrapping visa requirements in its latest White Paper on International Migration, which was adopted by cabinet six weeks ago but not made public yet.

The African Union’s Agenda 2063, championed by former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, calls for the scrapping of visa requirements for all African citizens travelling on the continent by 2018 based on the views of the African Rennaissance.

The African passport was launched with great ceremony by Dlamini-Zuma and Rwandan President Paul Kagame at last year’s AU summit in Kigali.

According to the White Paper, South Africa “fully supports the vision of an Africa where its citizens can move more freely across national borders, where intra-Africa trade is encouraged and there is greater integration and development of the African continent”.

It said the current status was untenable. “For instance, on average Africans need visas to travel to 55% of other African countries. They can get visas on arrival in only 25% of other countries. Finally, they do not need a visa to travel to just 20% of other countries on the continent.”

Security-based approach

But the White Paper, which moves South Africa’s approach to immigration from a purely administrative one to a security-based approach, warns that the scrapping of visas needs to happen with caution.

South Africa’s risk-based approach “advocates for an incremental removal of migration formalities for frequent and trusted travellers including diplomats, officials, academics, business persons, students, etc.”

The policy is envisaged as follows: African citizens can enter South Africa visa-free where there are reciprocal agreements.

Visas will only be needed when there are risks of foreign nationals overstaying, security risks like organised crime, terrorism and political instability, civil registration risks, i.e. fraud by foreign governments in issuing documents or an unable or unwillingness to identfy their nationals when requested, and for countries “with a high number of nationals who abuse the asylum system”.

One of the countries identified elsewhere in the document as doing such is Zimbabwe.

 Key elements of the visa-free regime would be visa-free entry for visits up to 90 days, recognition of visas for third parties, for example regional visas, agreed standards on immigration and border management, agreed standards on civil registration and “sophisticated, real-time risk management, information and intelligence sharing”.

 Where visas are required “South Africa should make it as easy as possible for bona fide travellers to enter South Africa”, by standardising and expanding the use of long-term, multiple-entry visas for frequent travellers, business people and academics, according to the White Paper.

A list will be developed of countries whose visa adjucation systems are trusted and recognised by South Africa, and technology will be used to establish trusted traveller schemes.

Free movement of African citizens

At regional level, South Africa “should continue to advocate for a free movement of African citizens,” the paper states.

It also says, however, that there has been a large influx of semi-skilled an unskilled economic migrants who couldn’t get visas and permits through the “mainstream immigration regime”.

These had some negative consequences, such as the asylum seeker management system being “abused and overwhelmed by economic migrants”, and then these migrants, and by extension also South African workers, being abused by “some unscrupulous South African employers”.

There has also been “increased trade in false documentation and petty corruption by police and immigration enforcement officials”, and social cohesion has suffered, “as all citizens assume that all migrants from the rest of Africa are irregular and undesirable”.

There has also been a “revolving door” of migrants returning, and deportations to neighbouring countries increasing significantly.

The White Paper, which has a strong focus on attracting more skilled migrants to counter the brain drain, also announces a special dispensation for migrants from the Southern African Development Community, with the focus on giving visas to skilled migrants, traders and small and medium sized business owners.

Visas for lower skilled migrants will be “quota-based”, but details on this still have to be decided.

Home Affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize is expected to announce details on the new immigration dispensation in her budget speech in Parliament on Wednesday.

It is expected that the new policy will find its way into legislation by next year.

Source: News24

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JASON LOVES AFRICA
May 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

-With Wheel to Africa, a young American and his friends highlight the importance of people-to-people engagement in US-Africa relations.

Support for a noble cause:Ambassador Arouna with Jason and his young friends collecting bikes to send to Africa

Support for a noble cause:Ambassador Arouna with Jason and his young friends collecting bikes to send to Africa

Today Saturday, May 13, 2017, I pulled up into Bethesda Library Parking lot on Arlington road.  Bethesda is an affluent Maryland town in the suburb of Washington DC the nation capital.  I am here to meet Jason a college rising sophomore in African studies who spent summers in Africa, mainly Tanzania and Ghana. Jason and his friends under the guidance of his parents are collecting bikes to ship to Africa as part of the Wheel To Africa Initiative.

As soon as entered the parking lot I was greeted by a jubilant and grinning group of kids happy to see the two bikes attached on the back of my car. I could not help but to reminisce, back to the day… I mean, way back when I received my first bike as a child and how happy it felt then. Thinking about it, I am sure it is probably a fair statement to say that, these kids look as happy as the people who will soon be receiving these bikes in the continent of Africa.

Upon getting out of my vehicle, I met and greeted Jason Kohn the young men who initiated today’s event, his parents, and a few of his friends, all passionate about Africa. I introduced myself and we talked about their initiative and their passion for Africa while some of the kids unloaded the two bikes I donated and stacked them against dozens of others bikes neatly arranged on the asphalt. I spent few more minutes’ chit-chatting before saying goodbye, and got into my car.  While I was putting the key in the ignition to start the car, I murmured to myself, “Jason loves Africa… so does America” before driving off…

In today’s America where most in the international development community are wondering about the Trump administration stance on Africa, Jason and his friends with their good deeds remind us, this simple fact; before there was a government, there are people and there lies the answer.

A strong and stable relationship between the United States and Africa is undoubtedly at the center of the Trump overall foreign relations. Washington’s support to the security of the continent, especially as part of the global war on terrorism is probably an essential part of “making America great again” US foreign policy, however many non-governmental or “people-to-people” interactions such as trade and cultural exchanges as well as initiatives such as Jason’s are paramount. This dependence is expected to remain unchanged in the foreseeable future.

As history teaches us, whether it be slavery, the rise of African Nationalism, or the Cold War, America and the African continent have a complicated history full of contradictions, but ultimately the strength of the relationship lies in people-to-people engagement on both continents.

About Wheel To Africa:

During a vacation in Africa with his mother, 10-year-old Winston Duncan was struck by the distances that people had to walk to find food, water, and medical care. It was then that he decided that he needed to find a way to help

His answer: Collect bikes, because “everyone has an old bike”!

In Africa, a bike is a lifeline to survival for many people. It is often their only means to access food and water, markets, education, and jobs. Winston’s passion has motivated family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances to organize annual drives across three states

*Omar Arouna is the immediate past Ambassador of the Republic of Benin to the United States of America. He answers regularly present to initiatives that touch on US-Africa Relations and is President & CEO GlobalSpecialty, LLC.

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French election: What Emmanuel Macron’s win means for Africa
May 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

Emmanuel Macron’s decisive win in the French presidential election has not only spurred enthusiasm in Europe. Across Africa, where France retains huge influence in its former colonies, his election has been celebrated in the hope that it will usher in a radical change in France’s African policy. The BBC’s Lamine Konkobo looks at what that change might look like.

Africa’s ‘Ode to Joy’ moment

It was a very powerful, if subtle, symbol.

On Sunday evening, as supporters of Emmanuel Macron gathered at the Louvre’s Esplanade in central Paris waiting for their champion to arrive and address them, the podium was turned for about 15 minutes into a gigantic dance floor by one of Ivory Coast’s most famous bands.

Magic System took to the stage, flooding the Parisian night with rhythms and dance moves not often heard and seen in this part of town.

Mr Macron had originally taken to the stage to the European anthem Ode to Joy for his victory speech but for African audiences watching on television, this was their Ode to Joy moment.

It was a nod to Africa; a nod that reflected the positive message of openness and universalism which has underlined Macron’s winning campaign.

Magic System, Ivorian musical bandImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionTop Ivory Coast band Magic System performed at Mr Macron’s victory party

It could also be seen as one in the eye for defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who must have felt repulsed by such a cultural invasion.

If the sight of Magic System at the Louvre was refreshing for Africans, that is not why the French presidential contest was closely watched across Africa.

Mr Macron is expected to deliver on issues of far greater importance in respect of the continent.

Fighting Islamist militancy

Mr Macron has said little on his African policy on the campaign trail, because Africa was not a decisive topic that could give him the votes he needed to win.

However, from the little he said about the continent, it appears that fighting Islamist militancy will be prominent on his African agenda.

French soldiers of the anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane sit on a vehicle in Gao, MaliImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThere are about 4,000 French troops fighting Islamist militancy in Africa

He was elected while France was under a state of emergency following a series of Islamist attacks in recent years, some of which were carried out by people with African links.

But while on the campaign trail, he made it clear that he realised that France was not the only country affected:

“Africa is struggling more and more with terrorism,” he told Jeune Afrique.

“We saw it in Bamako [Mali], in Ouagadougou [Burkina Faso] and in Grand Bassam [Ivory Cost].”

Islamist militants targeted hotels in all these places last year, killing many people, including foreign tourists.

“Everyone should get involved in the fight against terrorism,” he said.

France has deployed about 4,000 troops in the Sahel region of Africa as part of the anti-terrorism Barkhane operation.

The president-elect has no plan of withdrawing these troops in the foreseeable future.

On the military front, France’s policy in Africa under Mr Macron will be more of the same.

On aid, trade and development

There is a famous saying that nations have no permanent friends but only permanent interests.

Street scene from Chateau Rouge, ParisImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionFrance has a large population with African roots

Mr Macron has been elected to serve France’s interests and he will do so in his relationship with Africa, political analyst Serge Theophile Balima told the BBC.

“Macron is a neo-liberal who believes in businesses and trade,” Mr Balima says.

“He will do his utmost to open Africa to a maximum of French businesses. That is obvious.”

However, the new president believes that partnership with the continent will be more beneficial if Africa is strong.

As a candidate, he vowed to lobby the G20 at its July summit in Germany to support economic development in African countries.

In more clearer terms he has pledged to channel to Africa most of France’s foreign aid, which he intends to increase to 0.7% of his country’s GDP.

However, Mr Macron comes to power at a time when a growing movement of economists and political leaders have been pushing for a major reform they view as more empowering than aid.

A woman displays several 10,000 CFAImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Macron says African countries have to decide whether they want to keep the CFA currency

One sign of France’s continued influence over its former colonies is the CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro with the financial backing of the French treasury.

While some see it as a guarantee of financial stability, others attack it as a colonial relic.

Critics say true economic development for the 14 African countries can only be achieved if they shake off the CFA currency.

Some argue that in exchange for the “luxury” of the guarantee provided by the French treasury, the African countries channel more money to France than they receive in aid.

Ms Le Pen said that if elected, she would drop the link. While no previous French president has ever expressed a willingness to let go of the CFA, Mr Macron says the decision to move away from it is for African countries to take.

Breaking from antiquated politics

France’s African policy has come under attack from pro-democracy activists since the 1990 Baule conference, at which former President Francois Mitterand issued a call for African countries to embrace democracy, following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Family picture of African heads of state posing with their French counterpart Francois MitterandImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAnalysts say Mr Macron brings hope as he represents a break from an old generation of political leaders

Critics have consistently railed against what they perceive as a form of hypocrisy.

They say France has repeatedly used anti-democratic means on the continent to further dictatorships or overthrow unfriendly governments if they serve French interests, while openly extolling democratic values.

The system of personal networks which backed these controversial practices is pejoratively referred to as “Francafrique”.

The times are long gone when a French commando unit would fly parachutes in broad daylight into an African capital to restore a deposed head of state.

But Francafrique is not totally dead.

Mr Macron says he will finally kill it off.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy with two African heads of stateImage copyrightCORBIS
Image captionFormer French presidents including Nicolas Sarkozy had vowed to ended “Francafrique” but failed to deliver

He says he will defend and respect fundamental democratic principles everywhere in Africa, working with the African Union and regional organisations.

But how will he deliver where his predecessors failed to meet similar promises?

“I think he is in a position to bring that end,” analyst Mr Balima told the BBC.

“First of all, he is young. He does not belong to the old generation. He has few friends in the Mafiosi circles in Francophone Africa.”

“When meeting African heads of state, some will be embarrassed to speak to this man who could be their son.”

African leaders will no longer benefit from the former era’s complicity, Mr Balima says.

“A head of state in a situation of bad governance… could not count on Macron to mobilise the French army to quash a rebellion in a military barracks.”

If Mr Macron delivers on that promise, he would indeed turn a page that has been a source of much acrimony in French-African relations.

Addressing wounds from the past

And how France should remember its colonial legacy is closely related to the issue of whether it still pursues a neo-colonial policy in Africa.

Right-leaning French political leaders have long maintained that colonisation was not only about forced labour, exploitation and mass graves but that colonised countries also benefited.

French solidiers round up indigenous Algerians during colonial warImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe new French president does not shy away from apologising for the stains in his country’s history

In 2005, under President Jacques Chirac, a provision enshrining that patriotic view in law was passed. However, it was repealed a year later as a result of an outcry in France as well as in some of its former colonies and overseas territories.

Nicholas Sarkozy, as a candidate and later on as president, often complained about being tired of endlessly apologising for his country’s past transgressions.

Unlike those politicians on the right, Mr Macron considers that recognising the wrongs France did in its past interaction with African people is crucial in redefining the type of dialogue necessary for the new relationship with the continent.

As a candidate on a visit to Algeria, he stirred a controversy by branding as a crime against humanity France’s colonial war in Algeria.

While that statement was condemned by Ms Le Pen and her supporters, it was well received across the whole of French-speaking Africa.

Immigration

What was strikingly different between Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen was how the two approached immigration.

Ms Le Pen’s closed-border proposition was that she “has love for the Africans but only if they are at home in Africa”, while Mr Macron has defended a policy of immigration that should be defined by France’s needs.

In other words, under President Macron, there would be no reason to stop an African from coming to France if they have skills that are useful to the country’s economy.

Since the 1970s, waves of migrants from North Africa and then former colonies south of the Sahara have found their way into France, playing a role in various sectors of the country’s economy.

Marine Le Pen, defeated French presidential candidateImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionUnlike Marine Le Pen, Mr Macron believes France stands to gain from immigration

Mr Macron does not say he will make immigration from Africa easier. But nor will he obsess about tightening immigration control to stem a real or supposed flow of migrants from Africa.

“That is part of the dynamics of [his] liberalism,” Mr Balima told the BBC.

The president-elect has said he would encourage foreign students and those with useful skills to move to France.

With Mr Macron’s liberal attitude to immigration, isn’t there a fear that Africa might end up losing its best talents?

Not really, says Mr Balima. “There will always be enough manpower within Africa for the development of Africa.”

*BBC

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A new reality for Africa’s property market
May 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
In order to address this new reality, API Events is hosting the 8th annual API Summit & Expo in Johannesburg on August 24th and 25th, 2017
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 9, 2017/ — The African real estate narrative has shifted and evolved over the last 2 years with the impact of geo-political and economic challenges changing the property landscape. Moving forward, investors have come to realise that a more measured approach may hold the key to reaping long term rewards in Africa.

In order to address this new reality, API Events (www.APIevents.com) is hosting the 8th annual API Summit & Expo (www.APIsummit.co.za) in Johannesburg on August 24th and 25th, 2017.

“Africa is facing a new reality, but what does this mean for investors and developers looking to expand their growth and uncover new opportunities? Not only do we need to better understand this new reality, but also how best to approach it, realigning development strategies and investment models, all the while working together with new players in order to continue to develop and enhance Africa’s future property market,” says API Events Managing Director, Kfir Rusin.

Alongside this new era for the African continent comes a divergence in growth paths for two groups of economies. On one side we have Africa’s oil exporters, who have experienced sharp declines in growth, while Africa’s more diversified economies have continued to accelerate their GDP expansion. Despite these differing growth patterns from an economic point of view, the shift in real estate capital flows have yet to fully move over to East Africa, with long term investors still seeing the likes of Nigeria as a key market.

These changing fortunes, together with strict central bank regulations within individual countries, and the volatility of local currencies against the US dollar, have, however, made real estate funding a lot more complex.

“With modest recovery expected in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) economies, prospects for improved real estate funding would increase where there are strong domestic governance policies and strong risk management practices. Attracting capital flows into SSA depends on the ability of individual nations to improve sovereign risk and growth prospects”, said Klaus-Dieter Kaempfer Barclays Africa’s Head of Commercial Property Finance.

The geography of opportunity within Africa has also evolved with French-speaking West Africa, particularly Ivory Coast, Senegal and Cameroon piquing new interest from an investment point of view, while East Africa continues to lead as Africa’s most stable frontier.

 

In this regard, companies like Mara Delta continue to focus on the long term fundamentals rather than short term volatilities, as seen with their own sustained and increased investments into countries such as Mozambique and Zambia over the last 2 years.

Bronwyn Corbett, Chief Executive of Mara Delta commented: “In addition to taking a view on political and currency risk, key considerations for us are the ability to conduct business in hard currency, the repatriation of funds, land tenure and the ability to raise debt. Based on these considerations, we have identified Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Botswana and Ghana as potential territories for expansion. Our nodal expansion in-country depends on tenant demand, as you need some level of concentration in an area or region to make it economically viable.”

Looking ahead, there will be a definite shift in terms of sectors of interest and asset sizes. The office market has suffered a steady decline across the continent, while the retail sector is expected to continue to move towards convenience retail and smaller, more tailored retail centres across Sub-Saharan African cities.

Elaine Wilson, Divisional Director for Research at Broll Property Group says: “Some investors are getting wary of investing in the continent because of currency volatility especially in the retail sector due to dollar based rentals. East Africa is seeing an increase in formal retail space, however, financially strained consumers will still frequent informal traditional markets.”

On the other side of the spectrum, the demand for bigger and better warehousing space has increased significantly, with mega distribution warehouse projects kicking off in cities like Lusaka, Nairobi and Tema.

In terms of infrastructure on the continent, LAPPSETT, West African rail network and The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are expected to further influence the direction of Africa’s future going forward, boasting huge potential in unearthing new real estate opportunities across the continent in the current year.

The 2017 API Summit and Expo promises to delve in-depth into each of these topics, and more, with participation from over 35 countries, 600 delegates and 250 companies, providing insights, thought-leadership and solution-focused tools.

“Our understanding of Africa has changed over the last decade, and developers and investors alike are now ready to take a more measured approach to the continent, with a specific focus on attaining sustainable growth in the years to come. With this new understanding in mind, it has become vital for all industry players to come together, to learn from their peers, share their own on-the-ground experiences and forge new avenues for real estate growth in Africa,” Rusin says.

Key themes and trends up for discussion at this year’s summit will include:

  • Trumpenomics, Brexit, African elections and their effects on African real estate;
  • New debt: the emergence of non-bank lenders and new sources of debt financing;
  • Will local governments and public sector step up in the drive to make housing more affordable and accessible?
  • How are Zambia, Kenya and Ghana leading Africa’s logistics sector rise?
  • The move towards convenience retail or are mixed-use developments the answer to a successful African retail sector?
  • Overcoming the overcrowding issue: how can African cities become more economically dense — not merely crowded?
  • Green-building in Africa: uncovering the return on investment;
  • Healthcare facilities and serviced apartments as lucrative new asset classes?
  • The rise and rise of collaborative offices and its effect on Africa’s commercial real estate sector ;
  • Local institutional and pension fund capital fuelling African real estate;
  • How will innovative technologies impact the way we design, build and operate real estate in Africa?
  • Cameroon: Africa’s new hotspot.
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New Caf president Ahmad refuses to accept a salary
May 9, 2017 | 0 Comments
Ahmad won the Caf presidential election in March, ending Issa Hayatou's 29-year reign

Ahmad won the Caf presidential election in March, ending Issa Hayatou’s 29-year reign

The new Confederation of African Football (Caf) President, Ahmad, says he has refused to accept a salary from African football’s governing body.

His election in March ended Cameroonian Issa Hayatou’s 29-year reign.

“I’ve refused a Caf salary for the simple reason it doesn’t respect good administration,” he told BBC Sport.

“The salaries of all Caf employees, from administrators to the executive committee and president, all have to be transparent.”

The 57-year-old from Madagascar held his first senior Caf meetings on Monday ahead of the Fifa Congress on Thursday 11 May.

Key among the topics being discussed are how to reform Caf.

“The reform of the administration is a very important point – everyone must know what is happening” said Ahmad.

“First we must review the standards of management so that we can apply the reforms.

Ahmad, who goes by a single name, says there is much work to be done – in lots of areas – to make Caf work “as it should.

“I’m sorry to tell you when I was part of the Caf Executive Committee there was no separation of powers – the judicial body, the executive one and the congress – and we have to respect the independence of each body,” he continued.

“There is a big tendency to monopolise power in the executive committee.

“It has to be reviewed and reformed with new statutes for Caf so that everyone can concentrate on their proper tasks.

Ahmad has also voiced concerns about the popularity of their flagship Africa Cup of Nations tournament saying it’s in danger of being overshadowed by the African Nations Championship (CHAN) which is for locally based players.

He says in light of these concerns, there will also be a full review of all the Caf competitions, and as such, a symposium will be organised to discuss the future of the events.

“The symposium will be made up of representatives from all parts of African football so we can discuss what we are going to do in all the competitions – Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations], CHAN, the youth tournaments and the women’s events,” he explained.

Ahmad said he was particularly keen to address issues such as dwindling numbers of spectators at recent tournaments, and players increasingly finding themselves in compromised situations with their clubs during Nations Cups.

“We need to take into account their situation. We must ensure that the Nations Cup doesn’t destroy their careers,” he insisted.

“So we are going to review all of that and we will take a decision that suits everyone so that this competition is valued again and attracts more resources and attract bigger audiences in Africa.”

Ahmad also spoke about giving more power to the presidents of the individual federations, describing them as the “Sovereign Body” – who “have to make the big decisions for the confederation.”

Ahmad has promised to arrange a new Caf congress in due course in order to validate the proposed changes.

He also wants to look at the re-investment of Caf resources to aid the development of football across the continent, stressing that “Caf is not here to make money to enrich itself.”

*BBC

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We Will Champion Case For Stronger US-Africa Business Ties With Trump Administration- Florizelle Liser, President & CEO Corporate Council on Africa
May 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

When it comes to business relations and trade between Africa and the USA, there are few people around with depth of knowledge and wealth of experience of Florizelle Liser, President & CEO of the Washington, DC, based Corporate Council of Africa-CCA.

For over ten years, she served with the office of the US Trade Representative including a stint as its representative for Africa prior to departure from Government last year. Appointed by the Bush Administration, she served through the Obama years and even out of government, her professional life continues to circle around issues of Trade with Africa as she serves as the first female President of the CCA.

Though she served in the Asia Pacific Region, and Latin America, in the course of her career, it is not until I moved to the African Region that I thought my true calling had been found, said Florizelle in a recent interview at the CCA headquarters. With a combination of her experience, and the great work done by her Predecessor Steve Hayes, Florizelle Liser is confident that the CCA is on course to write the next great chapter of US-Africa Trade relations.

The start of Florizelle’s leadership of the CCA coincided with the arrival of the Donald Administration whose African policy is still in a state of flux, but if there is one thing she is bent on doing, it is to make sure that the momentum on US-Africa Trade relations is sustained. Citing a litany of programs from the Bush and Obama Administrations that facilitated growing business ties, Florizelle said the CCA will be leading the charge in making the case to the Trump Administration on why corporate ties between the US and Africa should be a priority.

While the corporate background of President Trump may help him see the great opportunities and partnerships that abound in Africa, the broader perceptions Americans have about Africa need to change, Florizelle said.  For a continent with all sorts of negative stereotypes, people will be surprised to know that in South Africa alone, there are over 800 U.S companies, there will be surprised to know that there are African companies doing so well in the continent to the extent that there are also setting up shore in the US as well , said Florizelle.

The Administration and the broader American public needs to get the message that if businesses are going to Africa, it is because of profit, it is because of a more enabling environment, and the growing interest of Africans to partner with US businesses, Florizelle said.

In her new role as CEO of the CCA, one of her first major events will be the 11th biennial US-Africa Business Summit that takes place in Washington, DC, from June 13-16. The Forums alternate between the US and Africa, said Florizelle and Washington is excited to host it again after the 2015 summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This will be a great opportunity for the CCA membership to interact with Trump Administration Officials. We have invited Officials from the most senior levels of the US Administration, Florizelle said, as she expresses optimisms for positive interactions between CCA members, African leaders and those who could be key actors in shaping the Administration’s policies on Africa.

 It has been 5-months now, since your appointment as CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa.  In what shape did you meet the CCA, and what has changed so far under your leadership?

Florie Liser: First of all, I have actually been here 3-months, and I was telling people up until probably this week that I have been here 6-weeks, 10-weeks.  When I got too far, I had to change it to months.  So, now I am saying that I have been here 3-months.  I started on January 23rd and I am delighted that I had the confidence of the full board that unanimously made me the CEO.  I am the first woman CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, but I do not think that they chose me for that.  I think that one of the things that I bring to the table is my long-standing expertise and experience in terms of US-Africa trade and investment and I think the second thing that I bring to the table is the array of relationships that I have both here in the United States and across the continent.  And I’ve been very, very fortunate; very blessed to have been exposed to many, many stakeholders who have shared the vision that I have, which is that the economic relationship between the US and Africa is an important one, a vital one.  And that in this new job, the Corporate Council on Africa, is going to build on the 17-years that Steve Hayes was here.

I   commend him for the excellent leadership that he had of CCA.  But now, I believe that we want to build on CCA’s strengths.  I think that we are one of the most successful organizations focused on US-Africa business engagement.  We are the only ones in my view that are focused solely on Africa.  Other organizations have Africa as one of the areas that there are focused on, but we are solely focused on Africa.

In addition, we have, I think in terms of our successes, also been able to bring together numerous businesses from across the continent.  We have African members first, and we have not only large members of companies that are mega companies, but over 50% of our members are small and medium-size businesses as well.  And I think that, that sort of breadth of engagement also makes us a bit unique, because we are not solely focused on what is best for US businesses.  And of course, we are strong advocates for US businesses, but I think we are probably well-suited and best situated to promote mutually beneficial relationships between US and African businesses.

We held last year I think you know; a US-Africa business summit where we had more than 1400 participants and over 600 companies that attended.  This was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  And actually, I was there.   I was there wearing my previous hat.  In addition, last year we had 6-trade missions, we hosted a range of very senior officials from Africa who came here, including the president of Mozambique, high-level trade delegation from Nigeria and so again, I think that we stand on our past and our history, but we also have a vision for the future.

And one of the things that we will be faced with now as I’m coming into leadership here, is how we work with the new US administration to make sure that the issues of US-Africa economic engagement are a priority for them.  We hope that we can make the case for expanding and enhancing the US-Africa business relationship.  And so, the issues will not only be, for example, Peace, Security, Counterterrorism, which are all very important, and in fact security is one of our core issues here.

We have 10-issue areas, as you know, which go from agribusiness, to health, security, trade, infrastructure, finance, energy, and power, etc.  But, one of the things that we will definitely want the new administration to recognize is that US businesses are in Africa because it’s profitable.  Because it is a critical part of their bottom lines as businesses.  And CCA is, and plans to be a very strong voice for US businesses who are engaged in the Continent, and also for African businesses which are expanding regionally and also some of them who are investing in the United States.  You know, it’s not one way and a lot of times people lose sight of or lose track of the fact that there are African businesses that are so successful that they are investing in the United States.    We have our upcoming US-Africa Business Summit in June and it will be our 11th biennial meeting.  We see that upcoming summit as one of the first opportunities for high-level officials from Africa, as well as CEOs, and US CEOs to meet with various people from the Trump administration.  And we have a theme which sort of reflects part of what I was saying.

We will get back to specifics of some the issues you raised as the interview proceeds.  Prior to your appointment, you serve with the office of US assistant trade representative for what?  Over 10-years?

Yeah.

Including a stint as Assistant as Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa?

Right.

How is this background helping you at the CCA?

So, you know; it’s such a natural progression to come from there, because the major role of the Assistant US trade representative for Africa was for us to promote US-Africa trade and investment.  That was my major responsibility and I did it for 13-years actually.  From 2003 until I left the US government at the end of December of 2016. Though I had worked in other regions of the world like the Asia-Pacific region, and Latin America, when I moved to the African region, I thought, wow, this was my dream job. I had studied Africa, when I was in graduate school, and visited Africa, a number of times, even in other positions.  And so, this was really an incredible opportunity for me, on a hands-on basis, to promote US-Africa trade and investment.  So, I worked with African heads of state, and ministers of trade and finance and those in charge of investment promotion on the African side as well as US businesses that will come in to ask questions about where they should go and issues that they had working in different countries.  I worked with members of Congress, and I had the privilege of working under a number of administrations. I was actually put in that position under the Bush administration, and then continued through succeeding administrations.  And I think that job was a perfect platform for me to come now and work here at CCA to continue doing really a lot of things that I’ve been passionate about for so long.

With this unique experience, in the government and now with the CCA, which is a private entity, you are in a good position to offer an assessment of business ties Between the USA and Africa.  At what point are we?  Where are things at the moment?  What is working?  And what is not working and what needs to be done to make things better?

First, I think, the average American citizen would be surprised at the number of US companies that are operating in Africa.  There are thousands and thousands of them there.  I think, in South Africa alone, there are almost 800 US companies that are there.  And so, we are all across the continent.  Our business is all across the continent in a range of sectors.  We are not just in extractive.  Although obviously, we have a huge stake in the extractive industries, we are also in telecommunications, manufacturing, and retail. We could go down the list of CCA members and beyond who are there.

Now, what has changed?  Even though many US companies have been in Africa for some time, the landscape has changed and is changing in Africa.  You know, where there were many conflicts in the past – there are only a small handful of conflicts today.  Where in the past there were governance and leadership issues, today, there are only a small number of countries where we could say that we have concerns about governance.  Where it was difficult to identify where opportunities were maybe more than a decade ago, I think today, many more US companies are aware of the opportunities in Africa.  It has the highest rate of return on investment there and the opportunities for joint ventures are probably endless.

These are economies that are growing more rapidly than most economies in the world, they have a burgeoning middle class, and disposable income is rising rapidly.  They have a youth bulge, which also has implications for the kinds of products and services that are desired on the continent, and there is a strong interest on the part of Africans to actually partner with Americans.  Therefore, a lot has changed.

Now, what is not working?  What is still difficult in many countries, is the doing business atmosphere.  The environment for quickly getting into a country, getting your operating licenses, being able to get access to the right partnerships.  These are things, which again, a number of countries in Africa are working on.  There are some who have done great in terms of the World Bank doing business scores that are rapidly rising.  But, I think anyone who goes to Africa also knows that there are some difficulties in navigating the African market.  Whenever US businesses would come in to talk to me before a trip, and they think, “well, we’re going to go there for a week and we’re going to close X deal!”  And I think, emm… I do not think that is going to happen.  And so, US businesses will still find sometimes that it takes a little bit too long to get things moving and solidify some of these partnerships.

But, because the benefits are so great, because the opportunities are so wide.  I think many of them realize, “okay, it’s going to take more than one trip.”  It may actually take me numerous trips and it might even take up to a year or more, but I am not going to run away, I am not going to lose this opportunity because I am impatient.   So, yes, I think there are ways that things could operate more smoothly, more efficiently, more effectively in Africa, and I think many US businesses would say that.  But again, the opportunities are enormous and so I think businesses are buckling down and trying to find a way forward.  Even if it is a little bit tough sometimes, even if it takes a little longer sometimes than they want.

 As we speak, there is a new administration in the USA, the Administration of President Donald Trump and people do not yet know the direction of its African policy.  From your experience in government, and signals you have seen, what should Africa expect?  Could his business background be a silver lining for business ties between USA and Africa? 

I mean, clearly it could.  Obviously, he is a businessman, he understands the benefits of doing business, not just here in the US, but across the world.  Because he is not just operating in the US.  He has operated in many places.  In fact, I was in Lesotho in November and someone was sharing with me that they thought there was a factory there that was even producing some products for one of the Trump product lines, yeah.  I did not get a chance to visit the factory, so I cannot definitively say it is true, but I had heard that.

So, what could this mean for the US-Africa business relationship – to have a businessman in the White House?  It could mean a lot.  But right now, it appears that those who our new President is looking to are largely in the area of military expertise, and people who when they look through the particular lens that they have-I’m not saying that’s a Bad lens, but, when they look through the lens that they have, they see Africa in a particular way.  And those issues such as security issues, counterterrorism issues, issues of peace, and conflict resolution; because that’s their sort of area of expertise, I think whenever they put on their lenses to look at Africa as well as other parts of the world, they see it through that lens.

I think one of the things that will be very important to do will be to help Trump Administration Officials and the President himself to take that lens off, and to put on the lens that many of our businesses and members of CCA have.  Which as I said earlier, is there are in Africa because Africa is a profitable place to be.  Everybody else in the world is scrambling to be first in Africa and to have access to what that market provides. we hope that with a strong voice from CCA as well as our members, that we can push that point, and hopefully have a Trump Administration which in short order will be talking about progress in pursuing on the business relationship with Africa.  And again, as a businessman, we are hopeful that President Trump and his Administration will do that.

I think some of them may already be leaning in that direction.  I know Secretary Ross of the Department of Commerce, mentioned Africa in his confirmation remarks, I believe, he talked about the fact that you really could not ignore Africa as a continent, and opportunities there. I understand last week, just last week that a number of the Finance Ministers and Energy Ministers that were here met with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.  So, I was very encouraged by that and we are hoping for a robust US -Africa economic and business relationship.

As you mentioned in your last answer, “there is a growing competition for business opportunities in Africa,” you have the Chinese, you have Japanese, Indians, in addition to the traditional European countries all expressing interest.  How do you make the case for US business in Africa?  Why should African countries prefer or pick US businesses as partners as opposed to all these other partners trying to get in?

I actually do not think they should just choose us.  I think that the Africans are fairly savvy now.  This is not like the olden days where people just moved in and told Africans what to do, and treated them as if they were children.  The Africans are mature, they should not allow countries to just come in, or businesses from different countries just come in and sort of dictate.  I think that there is so much to be done there and so many opportunities that the key I think, will be to manage who can work with them most effectively, in which areas.

Just as an example, it could be that you know, to actually physically build out the hard infrastructure in Africa, perhaps which is something that the Chinese can do best.  But then, if you look at the engineering side of it, maybe that’s something that US businesses actually can provide for or someone was telling me of an example of where in a particular country, they were saying that the locomotives were being provided by the Chinese, but the engines were being provided by the US.

What you’re finding is that Africans are not, I think been forced to choose should I pick the Chinese or the American, should I pick the Americans or the French, should I pick the Indians or you know, I think what they’re doing and I think it’s a wise thing to do, is looking at what are the different partnerships we can have with different countries?

I think, what the US business brings to the table about why Africans really like working with Americans is first, I think many Americans go in with high-quality products and services.  Therefore, the value for dollar is there. You may get something cheaper from someone else that is fine.  And I’m not just speaking of Chinese, but you may get a product cheaper, but what do you get with the US is in terms of the quality of the product.

The second thing is, I think US companies are also valued for the fact that we are working with people on maintenance.  We are not just going to come in initially sell you a product or provide a service and then not build in to that relationship, what it is, what’s required to maintain it, you know.  So, what is the point of a road and three years later, it is falling apart, or getting equipment that would not last? What is the point of having, equipment and you know two years later, it is breaking down.  Maybe you would have been better off buying what would last for longer.  I think we do that.

The other thing is the partnerships.  I think that we; our US companies, we are very interested in transferring skills and technology to our African partners.  That is not to say that others do not do it, but I think we are particularly good at those transfers of skills and technology.   The kind of partnerships we then have with our African partners are a reflection of that.  So, those are some of the reasons actually, we hear back from the Africans about why they like working with us.  We treat them as partners; we do not bring them in at the lowest levels of the business and leave them there.  And to be frank, I visited a lot of factories built and run by others, we won’t say who, where if they left, even though the majority of the workers in the factory were African, the Africans actually would not know what to do to keep the business going.  They were not brought in to understand the entire value chain and what has to happen from point A to point Z to keep the business running.  And I think that, that is something that I think Americans; when we come in, we bring people in and we have them as full partners in knowing all the aspects of the businesses that we partner with.

From June 13-16, the CCA will be hosting the 2017 US-Africa Business Summit; can you shed some light on this?

 CEO Florizelle Liser with PAV's Ajong Mbapndah L at the CCA Office in Washington,DC

CEO Florizelle Liser with PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah L at the CCA Office in Washington,DC

Yes, this will be our 11th Summit.  We have been having these summits both here in the US and in Africa.  In fact, we alternate back and forth.  So, we have them every other year.  They are biennial, the last one was in Ethiopia, we had over 1400 participants over 600 companies, I think over 37 countries represented there from across the continent, and it was quite successful.  This year it is going to be in the US and we wanted it here.  We were glad it was our turn to host.  Because, we thought with the new US Administration coming in, this was going to be an excellent opportunity to bring together all of our stakeholders, our members, and many beyond our members to actually come together and to talk about the US stake in Africa, and the partnerships working with Africa.

Over the years, we have had probably over 40 heads of state.  We hope we will get a few; these are tough times because you know there are a lot of competing interests.  The G-20  is coming up.  I think the Africa program it actually happens almost on the same time frame in Berlin, but you know, we are hoping we will.  However, if we do not, we will have lots of high-level Officials, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Energy, Health, Agriculture, and so forth. We will also have some doing business in whatever country as a part of it.  Some sessions will be on doing business in Ghana, doing business in Ethiopia, or wherever as a part of it.

We are also planning to have an event on the Hill.  We have been invited to have an event on the Hill, where we will be having a dialogue with key members of Congress, both from the Senate and the House and from both parties. The hill is so important especially right now.  They have always been important, and will always be important. We hope to have a good turnout of both US and African businesses, and CEOs covering a wide range of issues, core issues, all of CCA’s core issues will be touched on during the summit.  So, we’re inviting, I hope all those who read this article will hear about this summit and will register, and come and be a part of it.  Be that active voice that is needed right now, so that the US Administration can hear from all of us.

You mention the new US administration, and this will be the first summit that is taking place under the new leadership.  First, what level of participation do you expect from them?  Secondly, it was reported in March that there was an African Trade meeting out in California, where there were no Africans because of visa issues.  The Africans who were supposed to turn out were never granted visas to come for the summit.  Is the CCA concerned about this development?

Well, I think first of all, you asked who has been invited; we have invited practically all of the highest-level people from the Administration, who we think have a stake in Africa. So, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Energy, we’re still waiting though for some other people to come into key positions throughout the Administration.  So, again, at the lower levels, or some of the more prominent folks that we would normally engage with are not even there yet.  But, we expect to have participation from a number of US Agencies.  We are also having a session that will be about engagement with Agencies of the US Government.  And we’re getting all of the highest-level people that are there, from the Department of Commerce, to OPIC, EXIM Bank, the US Trade Representative’s office where I came from; to come and be on a panel that will talk about our programs across those different government agencies and institution.  MCC will be a part of it, people who do work on power Africa will be there as well.  So, we think we’ll have a very good discussion of what the US ship brings to the table under this Administration, as well as others.

In terms of the visa issue, of course, you know we have to be a bit concerned that, that happens.  I don’t know the particulars of why that happened with the California conference, but what we’ve done is, we’ve talked to State Department and we’re going to be working with the State Department to let them know which Africans have been invited and also you know, as people register for the conference from different African countries, we will be sending that information to State Department so that they are aware of these people who will need visas.

And then CCA for our African partners who are coming from the private sector, we will be providing them with visa letters.  So, a letter of invitation, which is often needed for getting your visa. We will do that, and we have kind of broadly let people know that.  And as I said, we’re just going to work with the powers that be here to facilitate getting our African delegations into the summit.  That is the best that we can do, and we are going to hope for the best and hope that it will be positive.

Prior to leaving the USTR, you work with two Presidents one Republican, one Democrat. How have you seen the evolution of US-Africa business relations over the years? Who did more? Was it the republicans or was it the democrats?  

Well you know, that’s a great question and I love that question.  Now, my experience you know is that under President Bush, a lot of really incredible programs were launched. so we can talk about PEPFAR, to work on HIV-AIDS,  we can talk about the Millennium Challenge Corporation, that was set up and provides grants to build infrastructure in Africa, there was a program on malaria and girls’ education and so forth.  Then you get to the Obama administration, and he also launched some really effective programs like Power Africa, Trade Africa, YALI, and so on, but here is what I would say that distinguishes them.  I think that the trend has been more to move from initiatives the US has with Africa that are more, could more be described as aid, and development assistance to initiatives that are really more focused on trade and business engagement.  And so, I very much think that is the trend.  My expectation under the Trump Administration is, it will continue moving in that direction.

Another Program that I did not mention, that was very important under President Obama, was the President’s Advisory Council on doing business in Africa; we call it the PAC – DBIA.  Very focused on the doing business relationship, the economic relationship, and that one had CEOs from different US businesses there. We are looking to see now, whether under the Trump Administration that would continue, one would hope it would.

He gets it, he is a businessperson, and we expect that to continue that way.  But, I think the major sort of trend has been that we recognize that yes, aid is important, development assistance is important, but what is most important, what has probably more of a sustainable impact on Africa is private sector driven partnerships and relationships.  Public-private partnerships pushed by and supported by the private sectors on both sides. Power Africa is a good example of that, Trade Africa is a good example of that.

So, that is my experience and let me just say, that’s not to say that we should not give aid.  We definitely should, we have some countries in Africa right now that are facing famines , we want to make sure that we provide that kind of assistance and relief, but I remember from many years ago, they talked about how if Africa was able to increase its share of world trade by just one percentage point; at the time, they had 2% of world trade  Now, they have about 3%, but the movement of 1% additional trade would actually generate every year, three times the amount that Africa gets in aid from everybody in the world.  Just 1 percentage point of trade.

And I use that example, it is an old one.  It came from the old Blair report that came out, Oh, my gosh!  More than a decade ago.  But, the reason I use that is, because it shows you the power of trade and economic engagement.  That no matter how much aid you have, if you are generating your economic growth through private sector investment, through greater trade, the production of value-added products on the continent, the creation of jobs that come from investment and from trade, you can do way more with that, than you can with the aid – yeah.

Last question Ms. Florie, you have spent a huge part of your career working on Africa, and I believe that you have done a lot of travel, different countries, and different people

I have! I have!

What are some of the changes that you have seen? 

Yeah, well, even when I first started going to Africa, and it wasn’t a surprise to me, but you know, the pictures that you see of Africa here in the United States, the ‘Image’ I should say, of Africa here in the United States, is definitely not what is going on in the continent.

I went to cities that were vibrant, or growing metropolises even a decade, decade and a half ago, but you do not see those pictures on TV.  You see children with big bellies and flies in their eyes and, so Americans typically don’t have the vision of Africa that it is.I’ve been to factories that are producing everything from eyeglasses, and toys, and an apparel and footwear and you know, inputs for automobiles and automobiles themselves that are being produced in Africa.

African countries have the potential to do what China has done says Forizelle Liser

African countries have the potential to do what China has done says Forizelle Liser

When I see those thousands and thousands of workers in factories all across Africa, producing pepper sauces and all sorts of value-added agricultural products.  And I’ve been to cut flower farms, and just you know, it’s incredible places where they’re packing green beans and shipping them to the US and Europe.  The image I get is of an Africa that is a part of the global economy, that plays an important role in global value chains and how that Africa is critical to how everybody else is developing in the world too.  We need Africa to be a manufacturing floor, we need Africa’s labor.  Africa is going to contribute more to the global workforce in the next 20 years than any other region of the world.  And you know, FDI into Africa is increasing rapidly.

As I said earlier, the rate of return on investments is increasing rapidly.  Africa is a place now where people who are institutional investors you know, from the state of California or you know, people with pension plans here in the US, where firefighters and policemen and their money is being invested in Africa to their benefit.  And that’s an Africa that I see today and the potential of an Africa today that even 10 years ago, we did not see.  People were not putting their 401(k)s investments into Africa that kind of way 10 years ago, so the potential of Africa to be a fully integrated partner into the global economy is something that I can actually see it.  And you know, or read about it and so you know when I hear you know different fans talking about.  Oh yes, you know were to be investing these hundreds of millions or we have a call out and you know, the call has been filled in terms of you know, the investment bonds and so forth that are being issued.  You’re like wow!

This is what Africa is about today, I’ve been to stock markets in Ghana, in South Africa, in Botswana, and so I look at Africa and I see an Africa which, and let me end on this note, you know; “they are now where China was maybe 30 years ago,” And, if they continue in this direction, to me they have the potential to, not as one single economy because clearly they’re not, but then you know we have the concept of free trade area that’s been launched and where you know, 10 years from now, for sure, maybe we will be looking at it all as one large African market and economy.

I see them as having the potential in individual countries to do what China has done in terms of manufacturing, in terms of investment, in terms of business partnerships, companies that are present there, South Africa, Boeing just opened up an office in South Africa and Kenya, GE has an office in Kenya.

I mean we are seeing a lot of US business engagement there. There is a reason why they are going there.  They are not just going to Africa and setting up offices and businesses and investing there because they want to do good.  And they do, do a lot of good things, a lot of for corporate social responsibility in Africa, but are actually there to do well.  And so, the opportunity for mutually beneficial relationships between US and African businesses in all sorts of sectors and is a part of the global economy is really kind of the vision that everyone has for Africa now.  It is certainly not my vision, but I can personally attest to it.

Ms. Florie Liser, thank you very much for talking to Pan African visions!

Thank you for having me!

 

 

 

 

 

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Tillerson snubs African Union chair: report
April 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

BY MARK HENSCH*

Permanent AU Representative to the United States, Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao with stakeholders from the Diaspora in Washington

Permanent AU Representative to the United States, Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao with stakeholders from the Diaspora in Washington

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson invited the African Union chairperson to a meeting in Washington only to drop out at the last minute, according to a new report.

Tillerson’s proposed meeting with A.U. Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki fell apart last week, Foreign Policy said Tuesday.

Sources told Foreign Policy that Tillerson invited Faki to Washington the week of April 17 after Faki finished meetings at the United Nations in New York City.

Faki reportedly scheduled a trip to D.C. for April 19 and 20 while waiting for details of his visit with Tillerson to be finalized, Foreign Policy reported.

Tillerson’s office then went silent, Foreign Policy’s sources added, leaving Faki frustrated by the turn of events.

Faki, the head of a 55-nation bloc, canceled his visit to D.C. entirely over the misunderstanding.

Foreign Policy said Tillerson’s team offered Faki a chance to see lower level State Department officials instead, but that meeting never materialized.

“African officials were incensed,” said Reuben Brigety, a former U.S. ambassador to the A.U. who was familiar with the circumstances surrounding to Faki’s visit.

“This is ridiculous, particularly at a time when Africans are increasingly becoming more and more aware of their choices in partners around the world,” he said, calling the mishap “the dumbest thing in the world.”

Arikana Chihombori, the African Union’s ambassador to Washington, confirmed to Foreign Policy that Tillerson’s invitation to Faki did not end in a successful visit.

“The people I dealt with at the State Department were very attentive and did the best they could,” she said.

“We tend to rise above situations like this,” Chihombori added, noting the incident would not likely harm relations between the U.S. and A.U.

*The Hill

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Africa: Presidents Kagame, Deby, Conde and AU Commission Chair Call for Urgent Reforms
April 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Collins Mwai*

Presidents Kagame, Alpha Conde of Guinea (second-right) and Idriss Deby of Chad (right), and African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat in Conakry, Guinea, yesterday, during their meeting on the implementation of the AU reforms. The leaders jointly called for urgency in the implementation of the African Union reforms adopted in January this year in readiness for the rapid changes in the global context. Photo: Village Urugwiro/The New Times

Presidents Paul Kagame, Alpha Conde of Guinea, and Idriss Deby of Chad, and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, yesterday, called for urgency in the implementation of the African Union reforms adopted in January this year in readiness for the rapid changes in the global context.

The Heads of State and AU Commission chairperson were meeting in Conakry, Guinea, to discuss the institutional reform of the African Union, at the invitation of President Conde the current Chairperson of the African Union.

President Kagame has been leading the reform process following the mandate given during the African Union Summit held in Kigali last July.

Speaking on the need for implementation, Kagame said the reforms were urgent, especially at a time when the African continent ought to be united in the face of changes on the global level.

“The basis for the urgency of these measures is clear. The global context is changing rapidly. Standing united, with a common vision of our continent’s interests and aspirations, we can bend the trail of history in Africa’s favour,” he said.

In the build-up to the next summit, Kagame said the priorities include implementation of the decision to finance the union with a levy on imports.

 “First, we need to accelerate the decision to finance the African Union with a levy on eligible imports. Everything else flows from this and we cannot afford to get bogged down. The second priority is to move quickly with those reforms which can be implemented right away,” he said.

While sitting in Kigali in July last year, the African Union summit adopted a new formula to finance the African Union.

How it is planned

Under the formula, countries are to make their contributions through a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports, which would raise about $1.2 billion every year.

The levy will be collected by tax collection authorities of member states and channeled through their central banks.

For the continent to walk the talk in the implementation of the reforms, Kagame said it needs to have a common viewpoint when engaging with external partners.

“One example is speaking with one voice when Africa as a whole engages with external partners. Nobody benefits from the confusion inherent in the current method of doing business,” the President said.

Kagame also pointed to a mechanism to ensure that countries comply with decisions adopted by the Union as a key reform that can be implemented without delay.

“Another example is to agree on a binding mechanism to ensure that member states are held accountable for respecting key African Union decisions, such as the ones on financing and institutional reform,” the President said.

He called on nations to capitalise on the mood for change and prioritise the reforms.

“The mood for change is already there and we have a clear roadmap. Let’s capitalise on it, prioritise the next steps, and keep up the good momentum,” he said

Another reform adopted is for the African Union to focus on key priorities with continental scope and to empower Regional Economic Communities to take the lead on regional issues.

Other key reforms emphasised by the President include realigning AU institutions to deliver on its key priorities, connecting the African Union more to citizens for them to have a stake in its work, and managing the business of the AU more efficiently and effectively with particular focus on how summits are conducted and how personnel are selected.

Next month, officials from the AU Commission, led by the Chairperson, as well as Foreign Affairs ministers and permanent representatives of member states are expected to convene in Kigali for an extensive briefing on the reforms implementation.

*Allafrica/The New Times

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