Tony Elumelu Foundation Picks 1,000 for $ 100 million Entrepreneurship Programme
March 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L*
According to a statement from the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the successful candidates represent diverse industries including agriculture, ICT, and fashion. Over 45,000 applications were registered from 54 countries with the highest numbers coming from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon.
The release from the Foundation indicates that for the next nine months, the selected entrepreneurs will receive intensive online training, networking and mentoring that provides a tool kit for success and sustainability. Later in the year, the entrepreneurs will join in the three day Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum which is the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurial talent.
“The 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs will become a generation of newly empowered African business owners, who are the clearest evidence yet, that indigenous business growth will drive Africa’s economic and social transformation,” Founder Tony Elumelu ,commented.
“In TEEP’s first year we spent over $8 million of our $100 million commitment – with $5 million going directly to entrepreneurs as seed capital — and the results have far exceeded our expectations,” said Elumelu .
To TEEP selection committee member Angelle Kwemo, it was a daunting task making the choice from the avalanche of brilliant and viable ideas. “We believe in Africa and the potential of its people,” said Kwemo, a Cameroonian, and Founder & chair of Believe in Africa, a US based organization promoting African economic transformation.
“The TEEP is proving to be one of the most effective tools in support of job creation and it should be adopted and duplicated,” Kwemo said, as she challenged other African businessmen and leaders to join forces or emulate the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
Describing TEEP as “a life changing, challenging but rewarding journey,” Angelle Kwemo was pleased with the surge in French speaking entrepreneurs led in numbers by Cameroon. Wishing the new participants luck, Kwemo said Africa is looking forward to the full blown manifestation of the incredible potentials of the entrepreneurs.
Launched in 2015, TEEP is the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship and represents a 10-year, $100 million commitment, to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, create a million jobs and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation is an Africa-based, African-funded philanthropic organization. Founded in 2010, TEF is committed to driving African economic growth, by empowering African entrepreneurship. The Foundation aims to create lasting solutions that contribute positively to Africa’s social and economic transformation. Through impact investments, selective grant making, and policy development, it seeks to influence the operating environment so that entrepreneurship in Africa can flourish
AAI Conversations on Africa Seeks to Set Direction for the Next U.S. President
March 16, 2016 | 1 Comments
NEW YORK CITY – March 15, 2016 – As the U.S. presidential election gears up for the November election, AAI will host its next Conversations on Africa (COA) forum on April 21 on Capitol Hill, where congressional leaders, U.S. Government officials, policy experts and Members of the African Diplomatic Corps will take stock of the White House’s legacy on engagement with Africa and propose U.S.-Africa policy priorities for the next Administration.
The Conversation, Looking Ahead: Setting American Policy in Africa for the Next U.S. President”, will take place at Capitol Hill’s B338 Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
The two-term Obama Administration will come to a close in less than a year. The full-day Conversations on Africa offers a platform for reflections and panel discussions on the White House and the Congress’ strategy and engagement with sub-Saharan Africa.
The Obama Administration laid out overarching pillars for U.S.-Africa policy to: strengthen democratic institutions; spur economic growth, trade, and investment; advance peace and security; and promote opportunity and development.
The White House signature initiatives and high-level events include Power Africa, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), and the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with sitting African Heads of State in 2014. President Obama also became the first U.S. president to visit the African Union in Addis Ababa in 2015.
During President Obama’s tenure, U.S. Congress passed a 10-year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the U.S.-Africa trade law, and the Electrify Africa Act, which aims to expand access to affordable and reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
“AAI’s Conversations on Africa forum offers an opportune time for us to look back and reflect on Obama Administration’s legacy on U.S.-Africa policy,” said AAI President Amini Kajunju. “It also is a time to identify what more needs to be accomplished before the end of the congressional session, and hear perspectives in moving forward on future Africa engagement from foreign policy advisors to the top presidential candidates.”
Moderated by Witney Schneidman, Senior Nonresident Fellow at The Brookings Institute, the panel“Africa: What Should the Remaining Priorities for the 114th Congress Be?”, with congressional staffers of the House and Senate Subcommittee on Africa, will review the Administration’s key priorities and give an update on progress to date. Staffers will share where Congress stands on proposed U.S.-Africa policy legislative bills.
The panel “Reflections: The Obama Administration’s Approach to Promoting Education in Africa”, moderated by The Honorable Vivian Lowery Derryck, President & CEO of The Bridges Institute, will offer insight into the White House’s focus on education. Confirmed panelists include Julie Hanson Swanson, Deputy Chief, Education Division, Bureau of Africa, USAID and Her Excellency Mathilde Mukantabana, Rwanda
The Honorable Reuben E. Brigety II, George Washington University’s Dean of Elliott School of International Affairs, will deliver a Fireside Chat on “Identifying Best Practices for U.S. Engagement in Africa” during the Policy Luncheon.
Prior to taking the helm of the Elliot School, Ambassador Brigety was the U.S. representative to the African Union and U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He also previously served as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of African Affairs and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, among other positions.
Carol Pineau, award-winning producer, writer, director and journalist will moderate what is expected to be a spirited panel “Beyond the Obama Administration: What Can We Expect for Africa?” with U.S. presidential candidate representatives. Candidate representatives will offer the presidential candidate’s perspective on U.S.-Africa policy and their vision for U.S. strategy for sub-Saharan Africa.
COA panels are still in formation and will be updated accordingly, leading up to the event.
To RSVP to cover the event, please contact Shanta Bryant Gyan at email, email@example.com or call (202) 412-4603.
First American of African Descent appointed Area Engineer for District 5 in MD
February 12, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L*
The African immigrant community recently registered another mile stone with the appointment of Dr Peter.M. Keke as Area Engineer and Assistant District Engineer for District 5 in Md. Originally from Cameroon, Dr Keke is the first American of African descent to hold these positions. From 1990 when he got to the USA, it has been a very eventful journey for Dr Keke whose experiences mirror those of most other successful African immigrants. “Never let people define your destiny and do not allow yourself be cut in myths,” says Dr Keke as he settles into his new job.
Dr Keke, you recently became the first American of African descent to hold the Office of Area Engineer and Assistant District Engineer for Construction in the State of Maryland, how did your recent appointment come about?
The Assistant District Engineer for Construction position in District- 5 was opened to those who had the qualification to interview during the month of May 2015. I was one of the interviewees out of 5 people. The interview panel was made up of 4 people and each of us was drilled with 9 questions. The selected candidate was screened and interviewed by the Governors appointment secretary for final approval. Accordingly, I emerged successful and was appointed on December 7, 2015 based on my ability to meet all the requirements, demonstration of an efficient and effective understanding of construction and managerial principles throughout the interview and screening process.
May we know what exactly your new duties entail and what jurisdiction you cover?
In a nutshell, my new duties are administrative and engineering construction management. I represent the District on all matters relating to Highway and Bridge construction within my area. Some of the responsibilities are; management of a $356 million construction program annually, attend legislative meetings to advice and report on construction projects, challenges, and needs. Attend town hall public meetings. Represent and advice the District Engineer, Administrator, MDOT Secretary on construction related matters. Inspect and coordinate construction activities of contractors, hire construction inspections, and coordinate with upper management on how to attain the District’s strategic and construction goals. My jurisdiction covers four counties: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties.
Prior to this new appointment, what functions did Dr Keke have within the MD Government?
I was a construction inspector from 1998 to 2000 in District-5. Then from 2000 I was a Project Engineer in the District up to 2004. I continued as a Project Engineer in District-3 from 2004 to 2006. In 2006 I became the first black Area Engineer in District-3 up to 2013 (District-3 covers Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties). In 2013,
I moved to District- 4 (that is Baltimore and Harford Counties) in the same capacity as the Area Engineer. And in December 7, 2015 I was appointed the Assistant District Engineer for Constriction in Disrtict-5.
What experiences and academic background does Dr Keke bring to his new job?
I bring lots of construction experiences in this position. First I worked in Ministry of Public work and Transport Cameroon, Highway Department Limbe after graduating from National School of Technology (Survey School Buea) as Chief or Technical Officer from 1982 to 1998. Then I became the Chief of Subdivision Highways Department Kumba from 1998 to 1990. I moved to the United States in May 1990 were I worked (from 1990 to 1996) at a gas station as security guard, and later served as a housekeeper, a nursing assistant, and a medicine aid, while at the same time going to school. From 1994 to 1997 I also served as the first Mathematical Student President of Bowie State University. In addition I served as a student tutor in both Mathematics (calculus 1, 2, and 3) and Engineering (Engineering mechanics and differential equations) in Bowie State University and University of Maryland College Park respectively. I also worked as a student mathematical intern with the National Air space Museum in Washington D.C for 3 months in 1997. During the same period from 1996 to 1998 I worked with the Driggs Construction Company as Quantity Engineer and Project Engineer before joining the Maryland State Highway in 1998.
Academically; I hold a diploma in Surveying, BS in Mathematics, BS in Civil Engineering, MS in Project Management/Engineering, and a PhD in Project Management.
For the immigrant that you are, how challenging has it been for you to get to where you are?
As an immigrant it has been very challenging with varied experiences from rejection, to temptations, oppositions, and a different culture. In short, the journey demands great patience, hard work, endurance, and tenacity. Another interesting challenge is language/accent. Despite the fact that I studied in the US, each time I talk people still see me as a foreigner because of my accent. Sometimes, you face rejection because of the accent and skin color. However, my focus is to not allow such distractions became obstacles; therefore, I have always been hard working, willing to learn at all times, and to take advantage of situations. My goal has always been to be the best at all times.
To the young ones who see in you a role model and will love to emulate your example and career trajectory, what message do you have for them?
Never let people define your destiny and do not allow yourself be cut in myths. For example, I was told a black foreign person cannot graduate from University of Maryland College Park. This is a myth since I graduated from the school with honors. Another, advice is to be patient with your plan, work hard on it and it will all pay off at the end. An important point to note is that transforming from a Cameroon society to US society is challenging. You must accept and be willing to make the change needed for assimilation. You will have to start with small or odd jobs, but do not allow the jobs to define you; rather use these small or odd jobs as a means to an end. Finally, things can be made much easier if you have a mentor. Though I had none, I find that a mentor to rely on can help understand, and guide you towards success.
The International Criminal Court’s Failure Against ISIS:ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda Must Go
February 2, 2016 | 0 Comments
I accuse the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of gross negligence in the global struggle against ISIS and its affiliates.
The purpose of this allegation against the International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor is twofold. First to expose the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor Mrs. Fatou Bensouda as being in breach of her duties and to explain the reason a career ICC prosecutor would so badly fail in her responsibilities. Secondly, it has finally come to pass that the ICC through its long term fecklessness has at last become an unwitting tool of Sunni Muslim extremism in a world ravaged by the Daesh (ISIS) and its affiliates.
The International Criminal Court’s original purpose was to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and to aid victims of these crimes. This court’s record undeniably is poor and shabby, two convictions of minor sub Saharan war lords in 13 years of existence. All of its current pending cases are against Africans all but one black. And this after the expenditure of well over $1 billion. The current ICC budget for 2015 is over $150 million. These figures alone and lack of convictions qualify the ICC as one of the most wasteful international government organizations in history.
The first ten years of the ICC’s existence under Chief Prosecutor Ocampo were an example of extreme incompetency. With all the resources of the UN behind him Ocampo managed all of one conviction, a minor Congolese warlord. He handed off faltering cases against the rulers of Kenya and Sudan to his deputy and successor Fatou Bensouda. While Ocampo’s tenure can at best be called a joke; Bensouda has shown herself to be far more dangerous to human rights and international law.
Ocampo earned the distinction of being labeled a persecutor of Africans while ignoring war crimes in other parts of the world. Under Ocampo thousands of communications to the ICC sat for years before being rejected. The only cases opened were in Africa. Therefore, when ICC Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the former Justice Minister of Gambia and former UN Rwanda Tribunal prosecutor was elected to succeed Ocampo a collective sign of relief was in heard in Africa and beyond. Bensouda while not a stellar legal mind was at least thought to be competent and evenhanded towards Africans. Upon accepting her post, Bensouda touted her Islamic principles which did not raise any alarm bells at the time. Swept under the prayer rug of peace was the fact that Bensouda started her legal career as the Justice Minister for the dictatorial regime of Gambia strongman Yahya Jammeh.
Bensouda is a Sunni Muslim from Gambia and is married to a Moroccan businessman. Gambia was a small secular state in west Africa, whose overwhelming majority is Muslim. In December 2015, Gambia’s long time ruler Yahya Jammeh declared Gambia an Islamic republic. Bensouda obtained her law degree from Nigeria Law School.
However, it is the lack of action by Prosecutor Bensouda against the Islamic State or Daesh and its affiliates Al Shabaab and Boko Haram which elevates this deliberate nonfeasance to an entirely new level – intentional breach of duty by a truly flawed ICC Chief prosecutor who is blinded by her Sunni Muslim faith.
The Islamic State or “Daesh” is the single greatest threat of the 21st Century. The Daesh and its affiliates Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and others have claimed the lives of tens of thousands in Africa, Europe and the Middle East through numerous well documented crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. If one logically adds the Al Qaeda network to the mix, since Daesh began life as Al Qaeda in Iraq, the tactical reach of the organization is truly staggering. Since December 1, 2015 the Daesh has struck in such varied places as California, Chad, Aden, Nigeria, Dagestan, Philadelphia, Marseilles, Paris, Istanbul and Jakarta. This of course is in addition to more conventional Daesh ground forces in Somalia, Libya, Syria and Iraq. The list is incomplete but Daesh has the demonstrated ability to simultaneously undermine security in Africa, Asia, North America and Europe and challenge conventional forces on the ground. Not since World War Two has such a threat to stability and peace arisen. Today’s Daesh are as infamous as yesteryear’s Nazis for their cruelty and barbaric crimes.
Daesh is a global organization with cells and caliphates in countries that are firmly under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court including France, Kenya, Mali, Chad, Nigeria and the United Kingdom. It is undisputed that the Daesh modus operandi includes genocide against Shia, Christians, and Yazidis; and related war crimes and crimes against humanity. Verified video evidence exists of ISIS war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. There is uncontroverted evidence and admissions that IS has committed beheadings, suicide bombings, mass executions, enslavement, mass rape, looting, and destruction of cultural heritage. Thus even a newly minted prosecutor could find ample material upon which to build a case against the Daesh leadership and its henchmen.
Prosecutor Bensouda however has found no ICC jurisdiction exists because: “I have come to the conclusion that the jurisdictional basis for opening a preliminary examination into this situation is too narrow at this stage.”
Such a finding is not only an insult to the victims and their families but to the intelligence of the public and ICC member states. Prosecutor Bensouda has refused to act against the transnational Daesh network on the flimsiest of excuses. By refusing to act for justice and truth in the face of the worst threat to human dignity since Nazi Germany, Prosecutor Bensouda has joined the ranks of those Muslims who tacitly support Daesh through their silence except that Bensouda need not be silent. The world would applaud her even in a vain attempt to expose the criminality of the Daesh. What then ails Bensouda?
Prosecutor Bensouda is guilty of a serious breach of duty. Further, her refusal to open investigations of Daesh suggests a bias in favor of radical Islam given the credible allegations of Daesh funding and material assistance from NATO member Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Prosecutor Bensouda has effectively granted Daesh impunity from prosecution and has sent a message of non-accountability to the war criminals in the Daesh. This is inconsistent with the Rome Statute and the dignity of the ICC Prosecutor’s office. Bensouda like many Sunni Muslims somehow does not see the Daesh as the big problem facing the world today.
Legal argument – The International Criminal Court only has jurisdiction in the countries which have ratified the Rome Statute. This includes many countries where Daesh and its affiliates including Boko Haram and Al Shabaab operate and have committed numerous atrocities: Afghanistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Chad, Mali, Tunisia and Niger. In Nigeria alone Boko Haram claimed over 6000 victims in 2014.
Since Daesh operates as a unified organization, even though the ICC cannot indict them for crimes committed in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, and Libya, it surely may indict the Daesh for crimes committed within ICC jurisdiction. The question is why has the ICC not done so?
Fatou Bensouda has offered this mind boggling rationale to justify a hands off policy towards Islamic terror. According to Bensouda, she can do nothing because Daesh seems to be mainly based in Syria and Iraq and therefore these countries are not ICC members. She stated, “In this context, I have come to the conclusion that the jurisdictional basis for opening a preliminary examination into this situation is too narrow at this stage.”
Perhaps to someone ignorant that Boko Haram has joined Daesh or that Daesh is active in Afghanistan, Bensouda’s excuse may sound vaguely plausible. However, it is not plausible but disingenuous. Fatou Bensouda not only has forsaken the best chance for the ICC to be seen as something more than a persecutor of Africans but to actually be relevant in international law. This is all bad enough but something even more sinister lurks in Bensouda’s flawed logic.
Fatou Bensouda is a Sunni Muslim. When asked by Al Arabiya if her religion influenced her, she answered it definitely did, “Islam, as you know, is a religion of peace, and it gives you this inner strength, this inner ability and a sense of justice. Together with my experience, this will help a lot.”
Bensouda’s failure to act against the Daesh, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, and Al Shabaab becomes even more flagrant when viewed in terms of the cases upon which she is currently squandering ICC resources.
The ICC has been chasing the Sudanese president Al Bashir for years. Surely, he is no poster child for human rights yet an agreement was made with Southern Sudan that has saved the lives of millions. More tellingly, Sudan is on the front line struggle against Daesh, at least one Daesh affiliate operates in Sudan. Arresting Al Bashir would likely throw the entire Sudan region into chaos much like Libya.
Speaking of Libya, the ICC instead of chasing the head chopping Daesh that have set themselves in Libya, has concerned itself with the hapless Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi as an indirect co-perpetrator of crimes against humanity: a man whose father for all his faults kept the extremists out of Libya. Saif Gaddafi is a proxy for his murdered father.
Yet another very important front line state in the struggle against Daesh is under ICC attack. The president and vice president of Kenya have been charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity. Kenya furnishes the bulk of troops in the war against Daesh affiliate Al Shabaab in Somalia and the Kenyans have paid a heavy price in blood for their willingness to guard east Africa from extremism. Prosecuting the brave foes of the Daesh seems weirdly flawed.
Finally, we have the ultimate proof of Bensouda’s insularity. While Daesh has destroyed and looted priceless ancient Roman and pre Roman sites in Syria, Iraq and Libya, the ICC has concerned itself with vandalism of Muslim mausoleums in Timbuktu, Mali. On 18 September 2015 the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Ahmad al-Faqi, who is accused of the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, specifically the mausoleums and mosques located in Timbuktu. Thus the Daesh may pillage and destroy classical archaeological sites but the ICC somehow sees the damaging of Muslim sites in Mali as the greater crime and evil. Meanwhile the antiquities market in Europe and Turkey are glutted with the fruits of Daesh looting.
The ICC has recognized Palestine and has called the Turkish Gaza flotilla incident a minor war crime. This does not bode well for Israel another bulwark nation against Daesh. However, given the glacial approach favored by ICC nothing substantive will likely occur regarding Palestine this decade. Other ICC failing under Bensouda can be evidenced by lack of action in Ukraine where ICC foot dragging has permitted the Ukrainian government a free hand.
Nuremburg this is not – we don’t know if Bensouda studied the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial at Nigeria Law School but they are the standard for swift and efficient justice. Unlike UN Tribunals in which trials can drag out for ten years or more, Nuremburg disposed of Nazi Germany’s major war criminals in 11 months. This was done without information technology, the Internet and a $150 million annual budget.
The crimes of the Daesh are well documented in video, admissions, and written statements. There is no lack of evidence. Being a criminal defense attorney it seems odd to me to be castigating a prosecutor for not doing their job but in this case Bensouda is undermining the promises of international law. A prosecutor who won’t do her job must be removed from her position. A Muslim prosecutor who does not deem the Daesh worthy of pursuing is blinded by the religion of peace and is impeding justice. She is a menace who must be sacked.
The bottom line is that Fatou Bensouda by invoking a legally flawed jurisdictional argument to avoid the Daesh has presented the Daesh with the greatest gift of all – impunity for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Fatou Bensouda must be removed from her post for the sake of the victims of the Daesh.
*Dr. Jonathan Levy is a member of the International Criminal Court Bar and is an adjunct member of the Political Science faculty at Norwich University and Southern New Hampshire University. As Chief Administrative Officer of the Organization of Emerging African States OEAS, he has called for ICC member states to remove Fatou Bensouda from her position as ICC prosecutor. Paper prepared for the John Naisbitt University, National and International Security Conference on Contemporary Global Challenges, 3-4 February 2016 Belgrade, Serbia
The plunder of West Africa Ebola funds
January 29, 2016 | 0 Comments
The much-vaunted rebuilding of livelihoods ruined by Ebola is far from happening.
In early 2014, when the Ebola virus began ravaging three West African countries, it came with an all-shattering venom.
Although Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and the Congo were all affected, the real devastation occurred in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
In these three countries, humans were crushed by the virus. Dozens died long before medics reached an understanding of the intruder they were dealing with. Medical facilities were overwhelmed at an alarming rate, already-lean government purses were stretched to the limits, the courage of health workers was tested to the brim, and normal human life was ruined.
A cry for help
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president, called on the world for help in October 2014. Her country had spent the previous 11 years recovering from its civil war, and she feared that Ebola was threatening to “erase all the hard work”.
“This fight requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise,” she wrote in a widely publicised open letter.
By that time, 9,191 people across West Africa were suspected to have been infected and 4,546 had died. In Liberia, 4,262 people had been found to infected by the virus, while 2,484 had died. Guinea and Sierra Leone had the bulk of the deficit of 2,062 deaths.
And so the funds started coming in. Within a month of Sirleaf’s plea, money pledged from outside Africa to the Ebola-hit countries was building up. By July 2015, the United Nations announced that donors had promised $5.2bn, which far outweighed the $3.2bn the three countries said they needed to “return to the progress of [their] pre-Ebola trauma“.
In Liberia, the outbreak left half the heads of households out of work, while women – who account for more workers in the non-agricultural, self-employed sectors – were among the hardest hit. Ebola’s destruction of livelihoods sorely needed to be addressed.
This was acknowledged at a UN meeting in July 2015 at which President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of the three Ebola-hit countries, said: “Humanity sometimes displays short attention spans and wants to move to other issues because the threat from Ebola seems over … The threat is never over until we rebuild the health sector Ebola demolished, until we rebuild the livelihoods it compromised.”
A month after Koroma’s statement, I was on a plane to Liberia to investigate how the money had been used, courtesy of some civil society initiatives to monitor the situation on the ground. My findings were damning.
The much-vaunted “rebuilding of livelihoods ruined by Ebola” was far from happening. The Liberian government, whose task force destroyed the belongings of Ebola patients, was providing no help as survivors struggled daily for decent food, housing and employment. As Josephine Karwah, one of only three pregnant women to survive the virus, told me, the government left survivors “in a limbo”.
It was enough evidence that none of the dozen survivors I spoke to could pinpoint a single instance when the government offered help. But that wasn’t all. Liberia’s anti-corruption watchdog audited only a fraction ($15m) of the funding, and found that $800,000, most of which passed through the defence ministry, could not be accounted for.
“The conduct of the affairs of the National Ebola Trust Fund [NETF] were marred by financial irregularities and material control deficiencies for a number of transactions carried out by the Incident Management System and the eight Implementing Partners of the NETF,” the General Auditing Commission said in a report published on its website.
Specific instances of corruption included the disbursement of $600,000 for fuel, feeding, daily subsistence allowance, communication, medical training, repair and maintenance, without supporting documents; and the payment of $10,000 to 68 officers in 10 counties who could not be physically seen or whose names could not be traced in the daily attendance records.
In neighbouring Sierra Leone, the situation was no better. The report of the Audit Service of Sierra Leone unearthed a series of financial irregularities, most notably payments to thousands of fictitious health workers, and expenses running into several hundreds of thousands of dollars without supporting documentation.
Up until now the biggest outcry over the gulf between the money donated and that spent on the post-Ebola recovery has been in Liberia and Sierra Leone, but it may well be that the scariest levels of corruption have happened in Guinea.
The Ebola Fund Watch report launched by BudgIT in November 2015 reveals that although Guinea had received donations worth $330m as of November 4, 2015, there is not one audit report on the use of the fund.
The “reports of mismanagement” suggested in this report are given credence by the former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo’s description of Guinea as a country where “contracts aren’t signed and investments aren’t made”.
For a country ranked 139th out of 168 in Transparency International’s corruption perception index, Guinea’s lack of documentation for its use of the funds mirrors the secrecy with which Ebola funds were mismanaged in West Africa.
In all three countries, no individual has been tried, much less convicted, for their role in the mismanagement of money meant to save the lives of the dying. And these are people who – to parody novelist Bangambiki Habyarimana’s words – are still here on earth when they deserve to be sent to hell!
*AL Jazeera.Fisayo Soyombo edits the Nigerian online newspaper TheCable.
African leaders urge passage of Electrify Africa Act
January 28, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Tony Elumelu and Aliko Dangote*
In the next week, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Electrify Africa Act, passed by the Senate under unanimous consent late last year. This bill directs the President to establish a multiyear strategy to assist countries in sub-Saharan Africa implement national power strategies and develop an appropriate mix of power solutions, including renewable energy, to provide access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable power in order to reduce poverty and drive economic growth.
On behalf of the African Energy Leaders Group (AELG), a high-level public-private partnership launched last year, we welcome the leadership of the U.S. Congress on this issue. It is our view that the Electrify Africa Act will provide a durable strategic framework to address the challenges of energy poverty on the continent by leveraging a private sector-led, market-based approach which is essential to the sustainability of this effort over time. If passed, Electrify Africa will be the most significant legislation to advance U.S. commercial relations with the continent of Africa since the initial passage of AGOA, 15 years ago.
A wide range of energy sources exist on the continent. Yet, more than 600 million Africans lack access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services. Hundreds of millions are also denied access to basic nutrition, quality education, medical services and sanitation due to lack of adequate energy supply. Recent surveys of African businesses reveal that energy costs account for 40-60 percent of operating expenditure (more than 10 times what it is in the United States), dramatically increasing the cost of doing business in Africa. The effect of the power deficit on our economies is damaging and tangibly constrains development.
Africa has the largest rates of extreme poverty and the fastest population growth of any region. The rapid industrialization and sustained economic development necessary to provide jobs for this growing population simply cannot be achieved on a weak power base
We have been encouraged by the increasing awareness among both African and U.S. political leaders on these issues, and by the willingness of the private sector to invest alongside governments in meeting the growing demand for power on the continent. Through the much-lauded Power Africa Initiative, the United States is helping to provide assistance for policy reforms and transactions which expand infrastructure and strengthen regulations in the power sector. This is not only good for Africa, as these initiatives benefit U.S. companies seeking access to new and rapidly expanding markets for their equipment, expertise and products.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is another critical development instrument which supports U.S. investments in Africa’s energy sector. However, it is hampered by well-intentioned yet counterproductive restrictions on carbon emissions for projects financed even in the lowest emitting countries of the world. In order to better leverage U.S. resources towards implementing the objectives of the Electrify Africa Act, we encourage Congress to follow this legislation with a strong reauthorization of OPIC that includes the flexibility to align with the national realities and priorities of the countries you wish to help and considers the full range of energy options available to them. In this regard, we must work together to identify an appropriate balance between poverty alleviation and environmental protection.
We applaud the efforts of all those who have championed the Electrify Africa Act, and urge the House of Representatives to pass this legislation without delay. From our perspective, this bill would codify access to electricity in Africa as a long-term U.S. foreign policy priority, for the benefit of millions of Africans and for U.S. companies doing business on the continent.
*The Hill.Dangote is president of the Dangote Group. Elumelu is chairman of Heirs Holdings and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Both are co-founders of the African Energy Leaders Group.
The African Energy Leaders Group, launched at the World Economic Forum in January 2015, is a working group of high-level African business leaders and heads of state. In line with the targets of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All), one of the group’s primary goals is guaranteeing access to reliable, affordable energy services for all Africans by 2030, through regional power pools and innovative public-private partnerships
Dear Africa, presidential term limits is not democracy
January 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
It is has become obvious that the discussion on democracy in Africa has become solely about presidential term limits. Going a step further, it seems power grabbing and bad leaders are an African problem. Shall Africa accept this false characterization? What is our responsibility?
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to speak on RFI’s Appel sur l’actualité on the referendum on presidential terms limits happening the next day in Rwanda. I didn’t get a chance to say what was on my mind, so I decided to write instead. Dear Africans, do not be duped, presidential term limits is not democracy.
What do I mean? Having a president who has a limit of two terms is not a guarantee that he or she will accomplish anything worthwhile in power. If the sole gauge of a successful term in office is respecting term limits, why is Europe not following its own advice?
Africa is not the bedrock of bad governance, dictators or corruption. On RFI, host Juan Gomez asked, “How can we put an end to this ‘African’ tendency of power grabbing…” And all the Africans on the call chimed in, “Yes, we must stop these African leaders…” I felt like I was reliving the partition of Africa. Does Africa have bad leaders? Yes, we have had some incompetent, corrupt leaders. So has Italy, Greece, Japan, Brazil, Canada, the US, Germany, France etc.
There is nothing that bothers me more than Africa accepting to be told who we are, what we should do, and what our limits are. The last time that happened, we were being colonized. Should African leaders be held accountable for their leadership? Absolutely. Should citizens rise up to demand the leadership they deserve? Most certainly, in fact, those examples are rarely spotlighted – like what happened in Burkina Faso or Senegal before that. Even Burundi, as complex as the situation has become, is about the people rejecting a self-proclaimed incompetent president.
I feel like we need a monthly lesson in African history given from [independent] African voices. Has the West brain washed us into thinking we didn’t have highly structured, efficient governance systems before they “discovered” us. In Rwanda, we certainly did. And using the Church, the German then Belgian colonizers convinced us (forcefully) that ours was a primitive system needing saving and the consequences of this are buried in graves across the country.
Beyond term limits
The issue isn’t how many terms but what you do with those terms. Like one Facebook commentator said, “What is the point of serving two terms, everyone claps for you for leaving and then you leave the country in billions of dollars of deficit that you and your cronies have carved up and stolen, with the support of the West?” Yes it is not always the case, but I think it is time that as Africans, individually and collectively, we ask ourselves, what is our responsibility in all of this? And what can we do going forward?
I don’t buy the argument that we can’t do anything about it. Thomas Sankara was a man like us. Even colonialism seemed impossible to overcome and some days, I wonder if we will ever get over the mountain of neo-colonialism, but the point is, we are not helpless.
In Rwanda, we have taken off the shackles of helplessness. I have said this before, we have many challenges but we reject being lectured to about things we know better than anyone else. Our President and his government have succeeded in rebuilding the nation under impossible circumstances. I was in a meeting a year ago, and a local leader said that everything was fine in his area and it wasn’t. Children were severely malnourished. After the statement, President Kagame showed pictures that had been taken without the knowledge of the local leader and I will never forget his words, “Shall we boast about progress when our children are hungry?” That is leadership. Africa needs leadership.
What is democracy?
I could give you a hundred examples but let me quote a young man who called into a radio program the day before the referendum, “My relationship with government starts and ends with service provision, if President Kagame’s government has done this, even beyond our expectations, why should we not be allowed to vote for him again. Shall the US dictate to us how to live? Shall France tell us what to do? That time has passed.”
Democracy is governance by the people for the people and for the last two centuries, everyone but Africans has decided what this means. Don’t get me wrong, we share some of that responsibility but now is the time, we are that generation that should define who we are not in response to stereotypes but drawing from history and looking to the future.
Rwandans are not being duped, they are exercising strategic wisdom. I actually wanted the new draft constitution to completely take off term limits, which have become a tool for manipulation and distraction, but Parliament decided to keep the two term limit with a seven year transition.
I want you to think for a minute, say term limits are not an issue like in Germany or Canada, what then are the checks and balances to power? Decentralization, inclusive economic policies, accountable governance mechanisms like performance contracts, robust civil service, independent judicial system, an empowered Parliament, an active civil society, media etc. Where are the discussions about this? Because these are the areas where Rwandans have spent most of their energy in the last twenty years, albeit imperfectly, and where much more effort has to be spent.
In this globalizing world, where Africa is the last frontier of exploitation, only leaders and countries focused on inclusive, strategic policies and interventions will survive. Africa, please don’t drown in poisoned poetic rhetoric about the democracy of others that we can’t seem to have; we need action, we need leaders.
Choose leaders who will better your life, speak against inequality (African resources are feeding the whole world while we go hungry) and who owe nothing to neo-colonialists. Hold those leaders accountable and if there aren’t any, then it is time for you to run for office. This is the Africa I want.
It is not utopia, it will take sacrifice – even death. Are we willing to pay the price?
Oxford statue row stirs ghosts of British colonialism
January 3, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Dario Thuburn*
London (AFP) – The toxic legacy of colonialism in Africa has stirred up a heated debate in Britain involving a prestigious Oxford University college, some high-powered alumni and a student campaign boosted by social media.
The focus of the debate is an unremarkable limestone statue looking down on Oxford’s High Street of Cecil Rhodes, the Victorian-era tycoon who founded the De Beers diamond company and what is now Zimbabwe.
“To put someone so literally on a pedestal is to tacitly condone their legacy,” said Daisy Chandley, a student and organising member of the Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford campaign.
Smudged by passing traffic on a busy thoroughfare and soiled by pigeons, the Rhodes statue is still in a stunning location surrounded by Oxford’s dreaming spires in the heart of the university’s college community.
An inscription underneath pays homage to Rhodes — a white supremacist like many builders of the British empire — for his donation to Oriel College.
Inspired by the popular movement that forced the removal of a statue of the famous colonialist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, campaigners have been asking the British college to do the same.
– ‘Wider racism’ –
The campaigns are distinct but supporters in Oxford use the same hashtag #RhodesMustFall as the Cape Town campaign and their actions have fuelled a political debate in South Africa as well as soul-searching in Britain ranging well beyond the statue itself.
“There have always been those who have questioned the statue as well as the wider racism within the university but the movement in South Africa brought debate over similar problems in Oxford to the forefront and triggered collective action,” Chandley told AFP.
The university rejects accusations of racism but Oriel College promised to be “more diverse and inclusive of people from all backgrounds” in a response to the campaign earlier this month.
It said it would take down a Rhodes plaque on the wall of another college building and agreed to a six-month “listening exercise” on whether to remove the statue.
The college said Rhodes’s values “stand in absolute contrast to the ethos of the scholarship programme today and to the values of a modern University”.
It said it would put up a sign in an antique window below the statue saying that “the College does not in any way condone or glorify his views or actions”.
But it also talked up the positive contribution of the Rhodes Scholarships, which have allowed 8,000 students from around the world to study at Oxford, including former US president Bill Clinton and former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott.
One of the organisers of the campaign, South African Ntokozo Qwabe, was himself named a Rhodes Scholar last year and has defended himself against charges of hypocrisy by saying that he is taking back some of the money that Rhodes took from Africa.
“I’m no beneficiary of Rhodes. I’m a beneficiary of the resources and labour of my people which Rhodes pillaged and slaved,” he wrote on Facebook.
– ‘A man of his times’ –
Academics, politicians and famous Oxford alumni have waded into the row, heatedly debating the rights and wrongs of honouring a man who was a major driver of British territorial expansion in southern Africa and a key player in the Boer Wars that left thousands dead.
One opponent of the campaign even compared it to the monument-destroying Islamic State group.
In a letter to The Times newspaper, South Africa’s last white president F. W. de Klerk, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, dismissed the campaign as “folly”.
“If the political correctness of today were applied consistently, very few of Oxford’s great figures would pass scrutiny,” wrote de Klerk, who was key in ending racial segregation in South Africa.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, a radical left-wing party in South Africa, expressed “disgust” at de Klerk’s comments and called for his Nobel to be revoked.
“All apartheid and colonial statues and symbols must fall, not just here in South Africa, but the world over,” it said in a statement.
But in an open letter to Britain’s Independent daily, Abbott said Rhodes was “a man of his times”.
“The university should remember that its mission is not to reflect fashion but to seek truth and that means striving to understand before rushing to judge.”
This is How We Got to Zero Ebola Cases in West Africa
January 1, 2016 | 0 Comments
BY AMY POPE*
The world has now gone over 40 consecutive days without a single reported Ebola case. Here’s how we helped make that possible
For the first time since this outbreak was detected in West Africa in early 2014, the world has now gone over 40 consecutive days without a single reported Ebola case.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Guinea has successfully halted Ebola transmission and now joins Sierra Leone and Liberia in recovering from this devastating disease. This represents a significant milestone for Guinea, West Africa, and the international community.
Today we reflect on what is possible when partners around the world come together to solve a common problem. Through the undaunted courage of local communities and heroes from around the world, West Africa was able to halt Ebola. The United States was proud to offer help along with partners around the world.
Today we remember Ebola’s victims, and embrace the communities, families, healthcare workers, and survivors.
While we can take pride in what has been accomplished, our work is far from finished. West Africa is still at risk of a re-emergence of Ebola and other infectious disease threats. In addition, the people of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have disproportionately suffered from secondary economic and health effects. Rates of malaria, vaccine preventable illnesses, and unsafe child births are worse. And thousands of orphans and Ebola survivors are working to rebuild their lives in the wake of the Ebola crisis.
The United States and our partners will continue to support the Ebola affected countries in several ways:
- First, we will remain vigilant against Ebola and other infectious disease threats. We are supporting all three countries to build and maintain strong surveillance, laboratory, and rapid outbreak response systems for Ebola. The U.S. government stands ready to help respond to any new cases of Ebola and continues to work with the governments of the affected countries and partners to sustain the gains made by building local capacity.
- Second, we are working with the governments of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other partners in the region and around the world to develop long-term capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats through the development of five year plans to achieve all targets of the Global Health Security Agenda. The United States has committed to assisting at least 30 partners achieve these goals, starting in West Africa.
- Third, we are working closely with all three governments and with other partners to rebuild economies and assist the economic recovery of the region. For example:
- On November 2, our Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the government of Liberia signed a $257 million compact that combines infrastructure investments with policy and institutional reforms designed to modernize the country’s power sector and strengthen its road maintenance systems. MCC’s investment complements efforts to help Liberia recover from the Ebola outbreak, significantly enhances the U.S. government’s Power Africa engagement in Liberia, and supports two sectors critical for broad growth.
- On November 17, the MCC and the Republic of Sierra Leone signed a new $44 million Threshold Program—through which the MCC will support policy reforms, build institutional capacity, and improve governance in the water and electricity sectors. The partnership comes as Sierra Leone emerges from the devastating Ebola outbreak and complements economic recovery efforts.
- The U.S. government and United Nation partners are helping families recover from the economic effects of the crisis by helping to meet household food needs while encouraging school attendance by providing daily hot meals in schools in the most Ebola-affected areas—meals have been provided to about 120,000 children. Girls who attend school are provided with a take-home ration of vegetable oil to encourage attendance. Last quarter, food vouchers were provided to 10,000 beneficiaries in the region.
- And finally, the U.S. government is supporting the overall restoration of basic health services in the Ebola affected region. For example:
- In Liberia, we are supporting basic health services in six counties, including the procurement and distribution of essential medicines to community clinics and supporting national catch-up immunization campaigns to prevent five diseases. We have supported a measles vaccination campaign at the county, district, and community levels in Lofa and Margibi counties.
- In Sierra Leone, the U.S. government is partnering with other donors to procure and distribute essential life-saving medicines and health supplies to clinics around the country and to restore functional capability to key parts of the health sector supply chain of Sierra Leone that were damaged heavily by the effects of Ebola. Activities will reach nearly 3 million residents in the hardest hit districts, including Bombali, Port Loko, Western Area Urban, and Western Area Rural.
- In Guinea, the U.S. government is supporting the restoration of basic health services at 112 facilities. U.S. government partners are also providing training for health care workers in hospitals and clinics on infection prevention and control protocols, including the use of personal protective equipment (gloves, gowns, masks), procedures for isolating patients who many have an infectious illness, and the safe management of laboratory samples. These measures will help prevent the spread of Ebola or other communicable diseases and improve patient care at health facilities.
As we celebrate the occasion of no new Ebola cases in West Africa, the United States is committed to standing with Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone now, and into the future.
*Source White House.Amy Pope is Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security
Liberia's last two Ebola patients recover, leave hospital
December 5, 2015 | 0 Comments
File photo of men sitting in front of a house where Ebola victim Nathan Gbotoe lived, in Paynesville, Liberia, November 24, 2015. REUTERS/James Giahyue[/caption] MONROVIA (Reuters) – Liberia released its last two known Ebola cases from hospital on Thursday as it starts a new countdown to declaring itself free of the virus for a third time, health officials said.
Liberia had been the only country in West Africa with known cases. Neighbor Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free in November while Guinea’s last known case recovered two weeks ago.
“There are no cases in the ETUs (Ebola Treatment Units) in the entire Republic of Liberia,” said Tolbert Nyenswah, head of Liberia’s Ebola response, adding that Ebola safety procedures remained in place.
The two patients released from the Paynesville ETU are the father and younger brother of the presumed index case, a 15-year-old boy named Nathan Gbotoe from a suburb of the capital Monrovia who died from the disease last week. [ID:nL8N13J1V8]
However, new cases could still emerge in Liberia since there are 165 contacts still under quarantine, of whom more than 30 are deemed high risk, health officials told Reuters.[caption id="attachment_22904" align="alignright" width="300"] Liberia has twice been declared Ebola-free since the huge outbreak last year that killed thousands in the country (AFP Photo/Evan Schneider)[/caption] Nyenswah say the contacts under surveillance have completed 14 of their obligatory 21-day monitoring – a period that corresponds with the typical incubation period of the virus. “No need to cancel your plane ticket when you are planning to come to Liberia. Continue to come here; the place is safe,” Nyenswah told reporters.
Liberian medical workers are still grappling to explain how Ebola re-emerged in Liberia more than two months after it was declared free of the virus by the World Health Organization.
Resurgent cases in Liberia, possibly transmitted sexually by survivors, has cast doubt on the current policy of labeling a country Ebola-free after 42 days.*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>
Baby joy for Nigerian Ebola survivor
November 6, 2015 | 0 Comments
Lagos (AFP) – A Nigerian medical doctor who contracted and recovered from Ebola has given birth in the United States, the hospital where she works in Lagos said on Tuesday.[caption id="attachment_22148" align="alignleft" width="300"] Ebola virus survivors including Dr. Ada Igonoh (C) speak to volunteer Nigerian health workers on a mission to fight the Ebola virus in affected West African countries, in Lagos on December 3, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)[/caption]
“First Consultants Medical Centre officially announces that resident staff and Ebola survivor Dr Ada Igonoh gave birth to a baby girl a few hours ago,” it said in a statement.
“The baby girl, weighing nine pounds one ounce (4.11 kilos), was born at the Greater El-Monte Community Hospital, California.”
First Consultants hospital, a 40-bed private clinic in the bustling Obalende district of Lagos, was where Nigeria’s first case of Ebola was detected in July last year.
Igonoh helped to treat the patient, a Liberian finance ministry official, and certified him dead several days after he was first admitted. She fell ill the following week.Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates published her lengthy account of the experience on his blog www.gatesnotes.com/Health/Surviving-Ebola-Dr-Ada-Igonoh.
First Consultants said Igonoh had been under medical supervision since becoming pregnant and that her daughter was certified Ebola-free at birth.
The birth was “a new lease of life and in memory of fallen colleagues and survivors of Ebola”, it added.
The World Health Organization declared Nigeria Ebola-free in October 2014 after seven deaths from 19 confirmed cases.
Across West Africa, more than 11,000 people have died from the disease since late 2013 — the deadliest outbreak since the virus was first identified in 1976.*AFP/Yahoo]]>
AU Commission Chairperson congratulates Africa-Against-Ebola Campaign for 2015 Global Leadership Award
November 6, 2015 | 0 Comments
The African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has congratulated the Chairman and Board of Trustees of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust on their recognition by the UN Foundation. The Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust was recipient of the 2015 Global Leadership Awards at the annual Global Leadership Dinner, organised by the UN Foundation on Tuesday 3 November in New York City. As patron of the historic partnership of the African Union and African Businesses – Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust – the AU Commission Chairperson said The Trust was very instrumental in funding the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease. Having contributed well over $30 million, together with the Trust, the AU was able to deploy over 850 health workers at critical times to the most affected areas of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. “We share the pride and honour of the outstanding work by the Africa’s leading entrepreneurs in partnering with, and supporting the African Union,” Dr. Dlamini Zuma expressed her excitement at the news of the award. “Given the results of this innovative partnership, and the effective model for health financing, we will continue to work together with the Trust as we move to a broader challenge of setting up the Africa Centre for Disease Control. Warm congratulations to the Trust and the leadership,” the AU Commission Chairperson remarked. In handing the award to Mr. Strive Masiyiwa and Yusuf Manji of the Trust, former Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan said, “This unique and historic private sector initiative sought not only to confront Ebola today, but to strengthen health systems to be ready for the threats of tomorrow. Tonight we recognize a Board of Directors who have risen to the challenge of promoting the livelihood and long-term wellbeing of the West Africa region.” United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, attended the ceremony and was one of the five recipients of this year’s Awards. Apart from the UN Secretary and the Africa Against Ebola Trust, the other three honourees were: Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani; Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran; and United Nations Free & Equal Campaign. The Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust is a registered charity, in partnership with the African Union. It was established following the African Business Roundtable on Ebola convened on Saturday, 8 November 2014, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the AU Commission. *AU/APO]]>