Germany’s ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’
May 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Andrew Green*
BERLIN, Germany — A proposal from Germany’s development ministry stands to rewrite the country’s — and possibly the G-20’s — aid relationship with Africa. The so-called Marshall Plan with Africa would prioritize encouraging private investment on the continent, possibly while reducing or shifting official development assistance.
The plan is part of a broader German focus on Africa in 2017, in an effort to play a stronger role leading donor policy within Europe and the G-20.
Analysts and advocates working in Africa say the plan puts into writing some of the trends already underway in aid, including a shift toward the private sector. They warn, however, that moving away from ODA entirely could leave gaps in need. Others, meanwhile, are looking to the German government to use the plan to engage a wider range of actors, including other donors and multilateral banks, to introduce a range of initiatives that could truly have a long-term impact.
For now, though, the debate is largely hypothetical. The plan is still only a proposal, and Germany’s position on Africa is set to evolve rapidly in the coming weeks. The finance ministry is currently constructing a separate “Compact with Africa,” and the country is set to host the G-20 summit in July, where relations with Africa will feature heavily on the agenda. German elections in September could also impact the development agenda, particularly if Chancellor Angela Merkel loses her bid for a fourth term.
Amid the uncertainty, experts are cautious not to either under or overstate the Marshall’s Plan potential impact. German aid and implementing partners are equally unsure how to react. The ministry declined to answer specific questions about whether development partners should read the document as a broader shift in priorities, or consider realigning their programs to match the interventions highlighted in the document.
But one indicator of the proposal’s impact could come in June, as Berlin hosts a G-20 African Partnership Conference, ahead of the broader G-20 meeting in July. The agenda for that meeting, which is focused on improving the investment climate in African countries, dovetails with the emphasis in the plan and could indicate how much influence it will ultimately have on German aid.
What does this Marshall Plan entail?
The Marshall Plan with Africa, released earlier this year, is effectively a blueprint for tackling a range of challenges on the continent — chief among them the problems that could result from Africa’s likely population explosion by 2050.
The proposal aims to be an “integrated overall approach” to address issues ranging from food security, good governance to social concerns, Gerd Müller, the federal minister for economic cooperation and development, explained during a business summit in Nairobi in February.
The plan positions Germany to help African governments with more than 100 different reform ideas that fall under three broad pillars: Economic activity, trade and employment; peace and security; and democracy and the rule of law. Each pillar includes recommendations for African country governments, the German government and the larger international community. Some are quite specific, for example a call on African countries to support a continental human rights court. Others offer more vague guidance, as in the call for international partners to “promote local value chains.”
Throughout, the plan emphasizes improving the investment climate. Among the proposed initiatives are plans to help create incentive packages for businesses. It also floats the idea of using ODA funds to secure private investments.
“It’s not the governments that will create all the long-term employment opportunities that are needed, it’s the private sector,” the plan reads. “So it’s not subsidies that Africa needs so much as more private investment.”
The plan also looks to directly seed the ground for investors. It would support programs that promote peace, security and anti-corruption efforts, in order to better protect investment. It would also look to boost job and vocational training initiatives to prepare young people for the workforce. Traditional development initiatives, including improving health, education systems and infrastructure, would also likely continue.
“We need more ODA funds to meet the current challenges,” the plan says, without specifying an ideal amount. In 2015, the German government spent about 16 billion euros ($17.8 billion) on ODA — the third highest amount in the world behind the United States and the United Kingdom.
Still, “it’s definitely a pro-private investment shift and a bit away from ODA,” said Manfred Öhm, the head of the Africa department at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The German political foundation, which draws some financial support from the government, runs a range of development programs in Africa.
Implications for the G-20 relationship with Africa
If expanded, some advocates say the plan could have a significant impact, in part because Germany looks to be positioning itself as a policy-leading donor on the continent. The draft was released in a year when Germany is hosting the G-20, and has made re-evaluating its relationship with Africa a priority. Already, German officials appear to be reframing the plan, which is the vision of one ministry, as part of the larger discussion of the G-20’s relationship with Africa.
Speaking to the African Union last October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to “make the issues that concern you in Africa one of the priorities of the G-20 agenda, and also launch a large-scale initiative with Africa to this end.” The first step, the G-20 African Partnership Conference, will be designed to encourage private investment, sustainable infrastructure and employment in Africa.
The plan could form a significant part of the broader global discussion about the international community’s relationship with Africa, according to Jamie Drummond, the co-founder and executive director of ONE, a grassroots organization fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa.
“This G-20 could and must herald a more coordinated push with Africa than we’ve seen since 2005 and Gleneagles,” Drummond said, referring to the U.K.-hosted G-8 summit that agreed to double aid to Africa, and eliminate the debts of some of the world’s poorest countries.
Drummond is looking for something equally bold to emerge — or at least begin — in Hamburg, where Germany is hosting its G-20. He would like to see momentum towards improving the quality and quantity of funding for education, increasing funds for women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship and an emphasis on good governance, alongside any focus on improving the climate for private investment.
“The private sector approach is incredibly important,” he said. “But if it was the only thing that was being proposed, that would not be enough.”
With Africa’s population set to more than double by 2050, from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion, according to the Population Reference Bureau, “African development is now clearly central to European and G-20 security into the twenty-first century,” he said. “That’s what this G-20 acknowledges and now we must urgently act on that.”
Domestic support for the plan
The Marshall Plan proposal will need to pull in new elements and some more collaborators — including from within the German government — if it is to be relevant, some analysts warn.
Given what it hopes to achieve, the proposal doesn’t yet include enough partners, said Stefan Brüne, an associate fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations. The federal ministry for economic cooperation and development may not be the best body to strengthen democracy, for example, he said.
“They are not in a position to really address these problems,” he said, compared to their counterparts in the ministry of foreign affairs, for instance, who can exert more political pressure.
Domestic politics could also impact the roll out. Though Müller comes from the ruling party coalition, it is still not clear how popular his plan is within his own government. Experts are looking for input from the ministry of defense, and greater cooperation with the ministry of finance, as it puts together its own compact with Africa. They are also watching to see if Merkel will more publicly embrace the plan or introduce her own strategy that might borrow elements from it.
If it is to truly jumpstart a broader conversation, it would also need to draw in officials from other G-20 nations, the World Bank and other international institutions — something its architects are clearly already aware of and which its advocates are prepared to push for.
Öhm said one of the ministry’s priorities should be providing more clarity, including about the future of ODA, programs the government plans to support and which governments the ministry is specifically hoping to assist. Some African countries are interested in reforms to improve the investment climate, and some are interested in transparency and democratic promotion, but the two groups are not necessarily the same.
At best, he and some other analysts see the plan as a potential starting point for conversations about the balance between ODA and private investment, for instance.
Truly rethinking Germany’s — or the G-20’s — relationship with Africa in the terms that the plan lays out would require a significant generational commitment, experts said. The question is whether the Marshall Plan actually represents that.
David Oyelowo Demands The Horrors Of Human Trafficking In Africa ‘Must Change’
May 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
He tells HuffPost he’s on a mission to eradicate human trafficking on the continent and around the world.
David Oyelowo is serious about inspiring positive change in the world.
The actor will be honored on June 4 by the Diamond Empowerment Fund, a nonprofit co-founded by Russell Simmons, with the Diamonds Do Good International Vanguard Award. The award, which will be given to Oyelowo during the organization’s annual awards gala in Las Vegas, recognizes his achievements in the arts and in the educational empowerment of vulnerable girls in Nigeria.
Oyelowo told HuffPost that he prefers projects that showcase Africa’s overlooked history, such as “United Kingdom,” which highlighted Botswana’s role as a leading diamond-producing nation. In that film, Oyelowo plays Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama.
“My passion is really behind any African story that highlights the transcendent beauty and just the amazing quality of Africa and its people,” Oyelowo told HuffPost. “So whether it’s in ‘United Kingdom’ or whether it’s in ‘Queen of Katwe’ or other projects that I’m at the inception stages with, that’s what I’m fundamentally interested in and it just so happens that Botswana’s success story is tied into diamonds.”
The actor, who was born in England to Nigerian parents, adds that in addition to highlighting Africa’s abundant culture on the silver screen, he also wants to change the negative perception of Nigeria ― specifically as it pertains to the marginalization of women.
“One of the stories that isn’t a success story of course is surrounding the Chibok girls and what’s going on with Boko Haram, and what’s going on with the marginalization of women generally, not just in Nigeria, but on the African continent and around the world,” he said. “So for me, it’s about highlighting the great story, but also trying to change the narrative around the negative, because those are things that can and must change.”
“Going beyond the borders of Nigeria, human trafficking, modern-day slavery, sex trafficking, these are really disgusting things that are going on in society,” he said. “A lot of them are dealing with girls being pulled out of Africa. It’s happening within the continent itself. Even here in Los Angeles ― the San Fernando Valley, where I live ― it’s one of the worst hubs for human trafficking in the country.”
“So it’s on our doorstep, and it’s international. And if you’re a father of children, really it’s a thing that young people are being subjected to by those who prey upon them,” the actor continued. “It’s unthinkable to think about what’s going on out there. So anything and everything I can do, and my colleagues can do, to eradicate this is what I’m interested in.”
Sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable.”David Oyelowo
As many as 17,500 people are trafficked into the country every year, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with an estimated 21 million people trafficked around the globe.
And, according to the United Nations, sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking in the world, and women and girls make up the largest proportion of victims.
Oyelowo is committed to reducing these startling statistics, regardless of public recognition.
“I think that’s one of the problems with our society in general. And sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable,” he argued. “Anything that is for instant gratification for yourself will not last. This is a problem in terms of what’s going on in Nigeria, and specifically the marginalization of women.”
“If you’re looking in Hollywood, it’s not as egregious and injustice as sex trafficking and human trafficking but, when you look at sexism within the film industry, we have these moments when everyone pays it attention and then people forget,” he said.
Rather than participating in an occasional initiative for instant gratification, Oyelowo encourages more of his peers in entertainment to commit themselves to humanitarian movements in order to see real change.
“I’m a big believer in not focusing in on the big moment, but on the movement,” he said. “The movement is something that has to be perpetual. Once I attach myself to something I try to focus on it and not let go until the job is done, regardless if the cameras are on or not.”
“I think if more of us do that, the more will actually get done,” he added.
This is Why Africa Matters to the United States
May 27, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Rachel Ansley*
The cuts to foreign aid proposed in US President Donald Trump’s new budget, if passed, would drastically diminish US influence in Africa, threaten US security interests, and make way for countries like China to fill the void, according to a former White House official.
We can’t be ceding this space to China and to other players to have them deepen their economic ties and their political ties and have the US really lose out,” said Grant Harris, who served as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House from 2011 to 2015.
Trump’s new federal budget would put an end to important US engagement on the continent, engagement which, according to Harris, is vital for US national security.
This is the premise of his recently published Atlantic Council report: Why Africa Matters to US National Security. “Far too many people think that Africa is of secondary importance to US interests, where, in reality, it’s really important to US national security,” Harris said in a Facebook Live discussion with Karen Attiah, the global opinions editor with the Washington Post, at the Atlantic Council on May 25.
Why does stability in Africa matter for security in the United States? Karen Attiah from the Washington Post discusses why Africa is important to US national security interests with Grant Harris, former special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House. To learn more, read Harris’ new report: http://bit.ly/2qnK3oJ
Posted by Atlantic Council on Thursday, May 25, 2017
In order to stem the spread of transnational threats, from terrorism to pandemics, Africa must become stable, said Harris. However, achieving stability requires that the United States remain actively engaged, providing not only humanitarian assistance, but also promoting economic growth. “The budget cutbacks would hurt all of that,” he said.
Attiah noted that in the “new US political climate – it’s not just Africa—there’s a real sense that the US may be retreating from its role as a global leader.” This turn inward has opened the door for other nations, such as China, to strengthen their foothold in Africa.
“The US holds itself to different standards, and it should,” said Harris. He insisted that principled engagement bolsters not only US influence, but strengthens relationships with African partners, who are becoming increasingly significant voices on the world stage. African votes make up more than a quarter of the votes in the United Nations, therefore, “we need African partners to advance [US] priorities,” said Harris.
Africa is vital not only to US national security interests, but to the United States’ European allies as well, Harris claimed, citing the migration crisis as a major concern.
Harris said that while his report stresses Africa’s importance to US national security, “even if you’re skeptical of what I’m saying, you’ve got to believe that European allies are important to national security.” Consequently, he said, while Europe seeks to promote stability in Africa in order to stem migration, the United States should engage as well, if not for its own interests, to promote the interest of its allies. “If the US retrenches and we pull back on our assistance… then we’re going to be part of the problem,” according to Harris.
Previous US administrations have promoted deep bipartisan engagement in Africa. Harris called for the Trump administration to follow suit, emphasizing the importance of a much-overlooked, but increasingly important part of the world.
*Allafrica.Rachel Ansley is an editorial assistant at the Atlantic Council.
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*
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.
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.
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.
Albino hunters ravage southern African region
April 26, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Southern African region is witnessing an increase of cases of
people living with albinism being targeted by albino hunters for their
According to Samanatha Munodawafa, Programme Officer for the United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) based in Pretoria, South
Africa, issues of albino hunters on the prawl in the region are being
classified as human trafficking and the organization is working with
its other partners to conduct investigations and prosecute offenders.
“We are seeing the extraction of body parts in our region.We are
witnessing cases of albinos being targeted for organ extraction in
Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, where it is believed their body parts
make one wealthy using occult methods. Syndicates have emerged known
as albino hunters, who systematically target this group, Munodawafa
She added that there is no country in the SADC region that is
untouched by human trafficking. Munodawafa said that this is why
there is quite a lot of momentum to do something about human
trafficking amongst all countries in the SADC Region.
She said that all 15 SADC countries are parties to the United
Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons especially women and children. She said that 13 out of 15
countries in the region have enacted specific legislation on the
“This has helped in that now law enforcement agencies and prosecuting
authorities are able to investigate and prosecute the crime in its own
right. We are seeing a number of cases being detected and
investigated in the region,” Munodawafa said.
She added that people get trafficked to be exploited in the sex
industry, in domestic servitude and labour exploitation in industry,
including extraction of body parts in the region which is getting
According to Munodawafa, in Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Tanzania and
Malawi there has been an emergence of cases of women being
trafficked to the Gulf States like Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia to
be exploited in domestic servitude.
She said that some work as long as 20 to 22 hours a day, are
subjected to physical, verbal, sexual abuse, and have their travel
documents and cellphones confiscated.
It is reported that many Gulf states still have the Kafalar system in
place, which is a visa sponsorship system tying a person to an
“ So even when subjected to inhumane working conditions, women are
often unable to legally leave without their employers consent.
Although transnational trafficking is what’s mostly highlighted,
domestic trafficking is also very rife in Zimbabwe as in the region,”
She said for example that a family takes a poor 12 year old from the
rural areas to Harare to use as a domestic worker, making her wake up
at 04:00 am, she is the last one to sleep at 10:00 pm, does not go
school but does all the house work, takes care of other children, is
made to eat left overs.
“This is also trafficking. As is forced child marriage by cultural
rites. There is a South African case, the Jezile case, which ruled
that the abuse of the cultural practice of “ukuthwala”/musengabere, is
trafficking in persons,” Munodawafa said.
Tillerson snubs African Union chair: report
April 26, 2017 | 0 Comments
BY MARK HENSCH*
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.
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.
ZAMBIAN ACTRESS WINS CANNES FILM FESTIVAL AWARD
April 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Zambian Actress, singer and musician, Josephine Kachiza has
AAI Takes Third State of Education Conference To Kenya
April 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
In furtherance of one of its core missions of building the capacity of Africans through education and training, The Africa-America Institute is hosting the Third State of Education Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Taking place from May 3-4, the Conference is expected to bring together educators and innovators from around the world to help advance the progress of primary, secondary, tertiary, technical, vocational and post-graduate higher education in Africa.
With a galloping youth population, the AAI seeks through the Conference to elevate and mainstream the conversation on education as a key component of the economic development narrative of Africa. According to information from the AAI website, The State of Education In Africa Conference aims to have a solution-driven conversation with policy-makers, educators, administrators, philanthropists and those interested in capacity building about the challenges and opportunities in education on the African continent
Education is crucial in helping Africa decide its future says Ghanaian-born Kofi Appenteng, who has served as President and CEO of the AAI for the last six months. Interviewed in Washington, DC, recently on his return from a trip to Kenya, Mr. Appenteng said with the rapidly growing youth population, it was important to take regular stock of new approaches to education and training.
Started by his predecessor Aminu Kajunju with the Ford Foundation as leading partner, the conferences have helped to foster greater collaboration between African countries and global partners. Considering the challenging context that African countries find themselves, there are still a number of good stories, said Kofi Appenteng in describing the current state of education of in Africa. While resources may be an issue, Mr. Appenteng sees in the strength and genius of the African youth a reason to be optimistic about the future.
In existence for the last 63 years, makingAAI Alumni are found in virtually every part of Africa, including two sitting Presidents in Hage Geingob of Namibia and Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast. The AAI stays in close touch with its Alumni and is proud of their efforts to make an impact on their communities, said Kofi Appenteng.
On the future of U S-African ties under the Trump Administration, Mr Appenteng said it was too early say. There is no expectation that it is any one government policy that will change the fortunes of Africa, he said, citing fresh perspectives from other private sector actors, and NGO’s in creating new opportunities for Africa.
Challenges of the WHO Must be Turned to Opportunities-Ethiopia’s Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyus
March 23, 2017 | 1 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Mounting a strong bid to be the next Director General of the World Health Organization, shortcomings must be turned to lessons and new challenges into opportunity, says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyus of Ethiopia.
Currently serving as Minister, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and backed by the African Union, Dr Tedros says a fresh view is needed to efficiently tackle the global health challenges of today. The upcoming elections present an opportunity for WHO to be led by someone who has lived and worked through some of the most pressing health challenges facing our world today, said Tedros a Former Minister of Health in his country.
Dr Tedros is no stranger to facing challenges. With a Ph.D. in Community Health, and a Master of Science in Immunology of Infectious Diseases, Tedros is a globally recognized expert and author on health issues. With stints as Chair for the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria Board, Chair Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board, Co-Chair, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Board, Dr Tedros is supremely confident of his ability to help the WHO reach its potential and create a healthier world.
A few weeks back, Dr Tedros presented his vision and candidacy to the 34 Member States of the Executive Board of the WHO. In the voting to shortlist candidates, Tedros received the highest number of votes in both rounds. Buoyed with such a strong showing and with growing support and endorsements across the globe, Dr Tedros found time off his hectic schedule to discuss his vision, campaign, and more on the WHO and global health issues. Together we can create a healthier world, and every country has a stake in that vision says Tedros.
DR. TEDROS ADHANOM you are running for the office of Director-General for the World Health Organization (WHO), how are things shaping up with that?
I am honoured by the African Union’s endorsement for my candidacy last year and re-affirmation this year. I am motivated by the enthusiastic encouragement I have received from many other governments and global health leaders around the world. I am humbled by their confidence in me.
Since I launched my campaign over a year ago, I have met with Ministers, Heads of Delegations, and some Heads of States of over 180 of the 194 WHO Member States. These discussions have significantly shaped the priorities that I will pursue if I am elected Director-General. They have enriched my understanding of global health priorities and how these needs manifest themselves differently around the world. I am encouraged by the overwhelming alignment across Member States regarding most of WHO’s priorities, opportunities, and risks. I have also noted some areas of diverse interests and positions.
Several weeks ago, I presented my vision and candidacy to the 34 Member States of the Executive Board of WHO. I was honoured to receive the highest number of votes in both rounds of the short-listing of candidates from six down to three. I am encouraged by this early success and re-energised heading into the final stage of the election.
What is your motivation in seeking the WHO Director-General position and what makes you stand out as the best candidate for the job?
My motivation to become DG boils down to three main themes:
1) My passion for health
2) My belief in the power and potential of WHO; and
3) I have the skills and track record that can help realize WHO’s potential.
My passion for health starts from a personal level, growing up in a poor family in Ethiopia. I saw my own and countless other families in our community suffering because of poor access to health, unsafe drinking water, and food insecurity. My passion is rooted in a refusal to accept that people should live or die because of these things.
I believe in the power of WHO. I have personally seen the impact, WHO can have, as a partner to countries’ health programmes, to support and challenge us so that we can have more impact, on more people’s lives. We must turn WHO’s past shortcomings into lessons, and new challenges into an opportunity to evolve and adapt.
I believe what I have accomplished can help WHO reach its potential and create a healthier world. I have spent 3 decades learning, planning, innovating, building national capacity, coordinating partners, increasing domestic health spending, implementing comprehensive health sector reform, and managing our programs with accountability. I have remained committed and focused, translating reform into results. My vision for the WHO draws on lessons learned throughout my career: the health successes achieved here in Ethiopia, building international partnerships as Foreign Minister, and the intricacies of global health diplomacy and financing that I learned to navigate through international roles. I have chaired the Boards of the major global health institutions, overseeing their strategies and reforms, and helping to rebuild donor confidence.
A fresh view is needed to efficiently tackle today’s global health challenges. The upcoming election presents an opportunity for WHO to be led by someone who has lived and worked through some of the most pressing health challenges facing our world today.
What assessment do you make of the way the WHO has fared in the last few years and its response when the Ebola crisis struck parts of West Africa?
The Ebola crises shocked WHO to its core. However, it also offered an opportunity that
WHO launch serious reforms aimed at improving its ability to respond more rapidly and effectively to public health emergencies. Those reforms must be implemented with a sense of urgency to yield results and rebuild the confidence.
Though there have been challenges, WHO has been working to address them to be better prepared for the global health issues of today and tomorrow.
If elected to serve as DG, a top priority will be strengthening emergency preparedness, particularly in provision of increased support at country level to prevent, detect, and swiftly respond to disease outbreaks. Going back to your question about Ebola, Nigeria and Senegal were able to contain the outbreak rapidly. This was due to better coordination, incident management systems, robust surveillance platforms and community engagement. This is why country capacity is so important. The relay of information from countries to regions and then to the headquarters is very important for an outbreak to not spread globally. But if there is weak capacity and if International Health Regulations are not fully implemented at the country level, then you cannot get the information flow and rapid response needed. That is why we need, as a global community, to work together to build capacity collaboratively – whether it is through South-South partnerships, gaining access to essential vaccines, and committing to fully implement International Health Regulations.
Can you explain the vision you have for the World Health Organisation? What will the WHO under the leadership of Dr. Tedros look like?
If elected, I will focus on five priorities:
My top priority is Universal Health Coverage. All roads lead to Universal Health Coverage, from Sustainable Development Goals to gender equality to emergency preparedness.
My second is to strengthen the capacity of national authorities and local communities to detect, prevent and manage health emergencies, including antimicrobial resistance.
My third is to put women, children, and adolescents at the centre of the global health development agenda, and to position health as a more powerful contributor to the gender equality agenda.
My fourth is to address health effects of climate and environmental change.
Lastly, in order to accomplish these, we will need to create a transformed WHO: one that is strong, effectively managed, adequately resourced, results- focused and responsive.
You can find out more about my vision for WHO at www.DrTedros.com.
May we know the support you have from the AU or the African bloc and in what other parts of the world are you hoping to get the necessary support to boost your chances of victory?
I am honoured to have received the endorsement of the African Union for my candidacy, and I am grateful for the support I have received.
I am campaigning on a vision that together we can create a healthier world, and every country has a stake in that vision. So in this campaign, I want to listen to and speak with people from every nation. To be successful, we all have to do this together, all 194 Member States.
If we are to build a healthier world together, we must recognize the unique challenges that each continent and each country has to face and not shirk or ignore any of them. This is, after all, a global effort.
You were Minister of Health in your native Ethiopia from 2005-2012, what did your leadership achieve for the health sector in Ethiopia?
When I began as Ethiopia’s Minister of Heath, our country faced extraordinary challenges. We took an honest look at the state of our health care system and at what would be required to expand health to reach all our fellow citizens in need.
We made a conscious decision to address the essential building blocks for health system-wide reform – investing in critical health infrastructure, expanding the health workforce, creating new financing mechanisms, improving service delivery, strengthening pharmaceutical supply, integrating information management, and investing in epidemiology/outbreak preparedness.
We worked with communities to identify health challenges and obstacles and, together, came up with workable and culturally acceptable solutions for each unique context.
As a result of working with teams across the country at each level, we were able to expand healthcare to tens of millions more Ethiopians. Through these initiatives, we were able to dramatically expand access to health services and meet ambitious health targets, translating reform into results: reducing child mortality by 67%; reducing maternal mortality by 71%; reducing malaria mortality by 75%;reducing mortality from tuberculosis by 64%; and reducing mortality from HIV by 70%.
If you win the election you will be the first African to head the WHO, what would this mean to you?
It is one thing to tell countries what they should do, but it is an entirely different thing to have lived it and done it oneself, as I have. I have the ability to say that I designed the health reform, implemented it, and saw the results.
As someone who comes from a region hardest hit by many of the world’s biggest health challenges, I would bring WHO a fresh perspective about how much can still be done with limited resources. If elected, that will be recognition by our peers around the world that this type of frontline experience is paramount to successfully addressing health challenges not only here but around the world.
Last May, you were presented with the Award for Perseverance during the Fourth Global Conference of Women Deliver in Copenhagen, Denmark; did you consider this an early endorsement for your bid?
That was a great honor. I would not say it is an endorsement of my candidacy, but I would say it is a recognition of the importance of gender equality to us all. I have long been a champion of empowering women since I have found from experience that inclusiveness and different ways of viewing issues tends to prompt innovative thinking and deliver results.
Leading on gender quality is a core value of mine and among my five leadership priorities for WHO. Investments in girls’ and women’s health and rights are investments in a healthy and more prosperous future. We see over and over again the untapped potential of women, because we disempower them, marginalize them, and undervalue them. When we do this, our societies are poorer today. Likewise, when we neglect the health and development needs of our children, our societies are poorer tomorrow. What a shame to lose both today and tomorrow, by not investing in women and children.
Healthy, empowered girls and women have the potential to build stronger communities, economies, and nations, and ultimately transform entire societies. For example, in Ethiopia, we trained over 38,000 women to be health extension workers, who bring local health services to communities across the country, and we built a Health Development Army, a 3-million strong organized women’s network that communicates directly with families to promote health practices and disease prevention across the country. This led to a major expansion of healthcare access.
I accepted the award on behalf of my colleagues and partners who tirelessly work to improve the lives of the girls and women over the last 30 years, and consider it an acknowledgment that similar efforts need to be replicated on a global scale.
The final elections are in May. What plans do you have to better introduce yourself to the world and reassure skeptics about your abilities to provide leadership for such an important global organization?
In May, all 194 countries that are members of the World Health Organization will each get an equal vote for the next Director-General.
I am speaking to people near and far from all regions of the world. Through these conversations, I am deepening my understanding of the needs and opportunities around the world, as well as demonstrating the successes and the lessons from our experiences in the health sector transformation in Ethiopia and my leadership roles with other international organizations. I am confident and hopeful that I will receive the necessary support to be successful in the final election in May at the World Health Assembly.
Star studded Kgalagadi Soul to tour SADC for workshops and performances
March 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
Kgalagadi Soul is a collaboration of three top artists – Mumba Yachi of Zambia, Sereetsi from Botswana and Austebza a South African. The trio has acquired a wealth of experience wowing their fans all over the world on big and small stages. Kgalagadi Soul will present a rich repertoire drawn from the trio’s individual projects using one international band comprising musicians from Congo (Nseka Bienvenu – guitar), South Africa (Bokang Kupa – keyboards), Zimbabwe (Leroy Nyoni – drums) as well as the USA (Terry Lewis – saxophone) that makes the tour a strong collaborative affair.
Kgalagadi Soul will be doing workshops during the tour in cities they will be performing at to share their knowledge with young and aspiring musicians. The one-day workshops will be structured in this way:
Sereetsi whose 83 page four string folk guitar instructional book/CD has been approved by Botswana Education Ministry to be taught in schools, will be leading the workshops. He will be teaching the technique of playing a modern guitar on four strings. A tradition originally used by herdboys on a self-made tin guitar.
Mumba Yachi will be sharing his experiences in the international music business scene.
Austebza will also share her experiences as a performer, a session musician and a bandleader as a woman in the tough music industry.
MUMBA YACHI is a folk musician born in Mokambo, a border town with the DRC Congo. He developed interest in music at a tender age while listening to his mother singing in a church choir and his father playing his various records of African musicians
Mumba Yachi seriously involved with music after spending just one day at the university. He quit university to follow his music call. He has been active on the music scene since 2009 and has released four albums – I am Lenshina (1st May 2015), Mongu Rice (2013), Mokambo (2012) and Inspire Me (2010).
Mumba Yachi has won several awards in the Zambian music scene
including Best Traditional Album for his Mokambo album and Best Live Recording Album for I am Lenshina album. He has become a household name in Zambia and is considered the leading voice in traditional/folk music of his generation. He is also a UN Ambassador for Gender Equality.
He has already collaborated and shared the stage with a number of well known artists such as Femi Kuti, Mokoomba, Hugh Masekela, Joss Stone, Mama Sibongile Khumalo and Hope Masike. He recently shared the stage with Sereetsi and the Natives and Jonathan Butler in Gaborone.
SEREETSI has just won four awards out five nominations at the BOMU Awards 2016. He is considered a pioneer on the cultural landscape in Botswana. His 83 page guitar instructional book/CD on the local folk guitar tradition entitled The Solo Four String Guitar of Botswana is a groundbreaking first. He continues to present workshops on the folk guitar tradition in Botswana and internationally. His book has been assessed and approved for use in schools by Botswana’s education ministry.
Only over a year after the release of his debut album, Four String Confessions, the act has already shared stages with established names like Jonathan Butler, Oliver Mtukudzi, Caiphus Semenya, Jaziel Brothers, Letta Mbulu and McCoy Mrubata. Sereetsi is the first Botswana act to embark on a month-long tour of South African (2016).
Sereetsi has also played Chicago, USA, Planeta World Music Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden, the Mahika Mahikeng Jazz festival for two years in succession, Kgalagadi Jazz Festival and the Cultural Calabash Fest in Durban, South Africa. This is in addition to a busy festival and corporate gig schedule in Botswana. Among festivals Sereetsi & the Natives has played in Botswana are the Maun International Arts Festival, The Hamptons International Jazz Festival, Son of the Soil and the President’s Concert.
Born in Krugersdorp and bred between Boons and Mafikeng, AUSTEBZA is a vibrant, energetic, incredible musician. She started her music career after her parents couldn’t afford to pay her university fees, but she has always been involved in music throughout her middle and high school. She then went to join the music department at the Mmabana Cultural Centre in Mafikeng, where she learned how to play the acoustic guitar.
Austebza has just landed the musical directorship of Feather Awards 2016. She has also worked with various artists such as HHP, Gang of Instrumentals, Maxhoba., Wanda Baloyi, Swazi Dlamini, KB Motsilenyane. While working with these top musicians, Austebza managed to travel Nigeria, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, USA, Germany, Namibia, Jamaica.
Her debut album, Make a Difference has been well received. She is constantly performing with her band around South Africa.
The Kgalagadi Soul Tour 2017 is supported by an ANT Funding Grant from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
30 March – Pretoria – African Chef – Performance
31 March – Pretoria – Bentley’s Country Lodge
04 April – Gaborone – Maitisong Festival – Workshops and performance
05 April – Pretoria – Solomon Mahlangu Arts Centre
13 April – Kuruman – Kgalagadi Jazz Festival – Workshops
15 April – Kuruman – Kgalagadi Jazz Festival – Performance
02 May – Johannesburg – Wits School of Arts – Workshops
03 May – Pretoria – Tshwane School of Music – Workshops
17 May – Durban – UKZN Jazz Centre – Performance & workshops
More shows to be confirmed.
For Kgalagadi Soul Bookings and Media enquiries:
Experts: African Hunger Crisis Largely Man-made
February 27, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Salem Solomon*
This year, more so than usual, hunger is stalking Africa. The United Nations has declared a famine in parts of South Sudan and food insecurity is affecting tens of millions in nearly every geographic region of the continent.
The causes vary, as do the proposed solutions. But, experts say the worst crises are being fueled by war.
“Drought is an exacerbating factor in some contexts but conflict is really, really the major driver in the biggest emergencies,” said Chris Hillbruner, a senior official for the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).
“Drought can result in really severe food insecurity but usually, even when you have a severe drought, there’s an opportunity for recovery that starts with the next rainy season,” he said. “The challenge with conflict is that the conflict persists and persists and persists in many of these cases and so there’s little relief for the people.”
The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death in just four countries: Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. All four are in the midst of civil wars or insurgencies.
“Our first call and our first priority is for the warring parties in all these countries to give us the access that we need to reach those children,” said Najwa Mekki, spokeswoman for UNICEF.
UNICEF has 600 therapeutic feeding centers in South Sudan, but much of the affected population is unable to reach them. “Children are dying and we need to get to them soon and we need to get to them as fast as possible to be able to save lives,” Mekki said.
The number at risk on the continent stretches well beyond the countries identified by UNICEF. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) reports that 12 million people living in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa are now dependent on food aid.
By all accounts, low rainfall caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon plays a significant role in the crisis. In Mozambique, aid organizations told VOA Portuguese that Tete and Gaza provinces are experiencing a prolonged drought and people have used up all the food they had saved.
In Ethiopia, farmers in the Borena zone told VOA Amharic that their cattle are emaciated and they are having a hard time selling them to buy food. Farmer Guyu Halake said cows that sold for about $440 before the drought are now sold for $17.
Another farmer, Fekadu Jeldeta, said if assistance is delayed, the current drought will shift from affecting livestock to costing the lives of people.
In Somalia, WFP said it is seeing warning signals similar to those seen in 2011, when drought and famine killed an estimated 260,000 people.
In Baidoa, VOA Somali spoke to Muslimo Abdi Abikar, a mother of nine who said she used to have a herd of livestock, including camels, goats and cows. Today, only two goats and a few camels remain, she said, and even the survivors are weak.
But observers say armed conflict plays an equal if not greater role in the hunger crisis. The threat of violence prevents farmers from planting or harvesting crops and prevents food trucks from reaching markets. If a government doesn’t act, it can take only a couple of months for food to become scarce in a particular area, triggering inflation.
In the Somali town of Las’anod, a grocer reported that, within one week, the cost of vegetables nearly doubled. A kilogram of tomatoes, for instance, spiked from $29 to $48.
What is a crisis?
Data such as this is used by FEWS NET to determine how to classify the level of food security across the continent, said Hillbruner. To do this, FEWS NET uses two key tools.
The first tool is called the Integrated Phase Classification, which examines a variety of indicators to determine how severe a food crisis is on a five-tier scale, ranging from minimal problems to humanitarian catastrophe.
The second tool is called “scenario development,” which allows analysts to forecast how food availability might improve or deteriorate in the near future.
“We look at how people access food and income in a typical year and then we look at whether or not there will be any shocks during the coming months,” Hillbruner says. “What is the forecast for rainfall? What do we expect is going to happen with food prices? Is there conflict occurring?”
Recently, FEWS NET warned that South Sudan could soon reach IPC Phase 5, the highest level on the scale. Phase 5 is defined as a famine marked by high levels of excess mortality. The group warned that Unity State in the north of the country is facing the most extreme lack of food.
Joseph Siegle, director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said the latest food crises, particularly those in South Sudan and northeast Nigeria, show that famines may have climactic roots, but are made worse by man-made factors.
“The difference between the natural factors which create a challenge and then the actual outcome of famine is usually a human-made response or the lack thereof,” he said. “And I think that’s what we’re looking at today.”