Africa: Resolved to Address African Problems Using African Solutions
May 24, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Baher Kamal*
Istanbul — The African Union (AU) representing 54 countries and home to 1,2 billion inhabitants, will be in Istanbul to participate in the May 23-24, 2016, first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) with two key demands – that the international humanitarian system be redefined, and a strong, firm own commitment to itself, to the continent and its people, anchoring on the primacy of the states.
In an interview with IPS on the eve of the WHS, the Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Displaced Persons Division at the AU Commission, Olabisi Dare said “All the key concerns that the AU will be raising at the World Humanitarian Summit is that there is a need for the redefinition of the international humanitarian system; this redefinition should take the form of a reconfiguration of the system.”
The Nigerian career diplomat and international civil servant with over 27 years international field and desk experience in Asia, Africa, Europe and America, added that the requested redefinition “should take the form of a reconfiguration of the system, it being understood that the existing system which is predicated on the UN Resolution 46 182 is to say the least not being faithfully implemented.”
It is therefore in this context that the African Union is going to Istanbul with its own commitments to itself, that is its own commitment to the continent and its people and one of the key things of this commitment is to anchor on the primacy of the states itself, “the State has the primary responsibility to its own people to satisfy their needs and to take care of their vulnerabilities,” said Olabisi.
“We look at these in several forms:
The African Union feels the State has to play the primary role of coordinating any and all humanitarian action that may take place within its territory; the States have in their efforts to alleviate the needs of its people; the States have also to maintain humanitarian space and have a responsibility to guarantee the safety of both the humanitarian workers and humanitarian infrastructure.
We note that the State has the capability and capacity in key areas like use of military assets in assisting humanitarian action-a key example is the use of military forces in Liberia and other acted countries the military was deployed to serve as the first line of defense to combat the spread of the disease.
That said, Olabisi remarked “We can’t over-emphasise the role of the State in ensuring that humanitarian action and relief is dispensed in an effective manner and we see that this in itself will effect humanitarian action more readily on the continent.”
Asked what are the African needed solutions that the AUC brings to the WHS, Olabisi, who was also senior Political/Humanitarian Affairs Officer at the African Union Mission in Liberia, with extensive experience in various aspects peace-building in a post conflict environment, including serving on the Technical Support Team to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, reaffirmed “The African Union will make proposals in terms of what it considers as the reconfiguration of the International Humanitarian systems.”
“Part of the solution is that there is a need for governments to play the primary role and a greater coordination role in order to fulfill the attributes of state in terms of its predictive and responsive nature and other attributes and this in itself is as part of what Africa has committed to do and if this find its way to the Secretary General’s report as part of the recommendation, this would be very good.”
Olabisi, who was involved in the return and rehabilitation programme of over 300,000 Liberian refugees from across the West Africa sub-region, added “We are also going to call for the re-engineering of resolution 46182 Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations to reflect Africa’s views, to reflect the need to elevate the role of the state primarily to be to deliver to its people.”
The Resolution 46182 that Olabisi refers to, was adopted in 1991, setting as “Guiding Principles” that humanitarian assistance is of cardinal importance for the victims of natural disasters and other emergencies and must be provided in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality.
Guiding Principle 3 clearly states, “The sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be fully respected in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. In this context, humanitarian assistance should be provided with the consent of the affected country and in principle on the basis of an appeal by the affected country.”
And Guiding Principle 9 stresses, “There is a clear relationship between emergency, rehabilitation and development. In order to ensure a smooth transition from relief to rehabilitation and development, emergency assistance should be provided in ways that will be supportive of recovery and long-term development. Thus, emergency measures should be seen as a step towards long-term development.”
For its part, Guiding Principle 10 stresses, “Economic growth and sustainable development are essential for prevention of and preparedness against natural disasters and other emergencies. Many emergencies reflect the underlying crisis in development facing developing countries.
“Humanitarian assistance should therefore be accompanied by a renewal of commitment to economic growth and sustainable development of developing countries,” it adds. “In this context, adequate resources must be made available to address their development problems.”
“Contributions for humanitarian assistance should be provided in a way which is not to the detriment of resources made available for international cooperation for development,” says Guiding Principle 11.
Obalisi then recalled “When you look at the Common African Position (CAP) [on the post 2015 development agenda], you find that the first pillar speaks to the privacy of the state; all the other 9 pillar speak the same in one form or another.”
Africa will be calling on itself to be able to deliver more on resources and allocate more resources to humanitarian action, he added. “This is because it is mindful of the fact that the resource portals are dwindling from the north.”
Asked what are the outcomes that Africa would most expect from the WHS, Olabisi said that Africa expects the guarantee that international humanitarian system will be reconfigured to conform with new demands and address the issues faced by the humanitarian system at the moment – one of the main outcome the Summit will deliver.
“Africa is making these commitments to itself-due to the non-binding nature of the summit. The commitments Africa has made go beyond the WHS whether the summit is binding or not it will not affect what Africa is committed to, in its own self-interest and this is one of the key recommendations we will be taking to WHS.”
He stressed that Africa’s commitments are not to the WHS but the Summit “gives us an opportunity to discuss a paradigm shift in terms of the way we do things in the humanitarian field in Africa and also to see that we can positively add to the mitigation and alleviation of the sufferings of our people when disasters and displacements occur.”
“One of the key things to note is that Africa will go ahead with its own commitments, “our resolve to come up with something that is workable, pragmatic, and something that will make us see ourselves in a light that puts us in a position to help ourselves despite the grand bargain on Africa being shut out of the whole system,” Olabisi emphasised.
“Africa however is resolved to begin addressing its own problems using African solutions to African problems.”
Has Barack Obama Disappointed Africans?
May 19, 2016 | 0 Comments
BY ADEDEJI ADEMOLA*
Under the terms of the 20th Amendment, U.S. President Barack Obama’s second term as president of the most powerful country in the world ends at noon on January 20, 2017. By this time, one of the main challengers to the “throne” (Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump) will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. But the question on the mind of several observers, particularly in Africa, is whether Obama’s presidency as “son of the soil” yielded any fruit for Africans?
It is instructive to note that the whole of Africa was on the edge in 2008, when Obama won the nomination of the Democratic Party. I remember abandoning classes to watch his speeches and campaigns live on DSTV. At the time, his story was a great motivation for a lot of us African youth that whatever you set your mind on, if you continue working consistently at it, you can achieve it.
Not since the times of the legendary Socrates,Cicero, or Abraham Lincoln had the world seen a more charismatic, powerful speaker, and intelligent leader. For me, there’s no one that can be compared with President Obama in local or international politics. And with the fact that he is a Kenyan biologically, I thought, like many others, that Africa will develop dramatically this time round.
But my expectation was dashed.
During his first term in office, Obama’s engagement with Africa was almost zero. To be fair to him, the whole world was undergoing economic depression when he became the president so he concentrated more on strengthening America’s economy and creating jobs. The stimulus package and other policies promoted were pointers to this fact. Although he traveled to some countries in Africa, it was all talk and less action. But during his second term in office, he was able to muster the courage to get some things done.
Some of the accomplishments President Obama achieved, according to the White House, included the strengthening of democratic institutions in Cote d’ Ivoire, Kenya, Sudan, and more. The administration also supported regional efforts to help countries affected by terrorist groups; launched the Feed the Future Initiative to address root causes of hunger and poverty; responded to humanitarian crises and disasters; promoted trade and investment; launched the Global Climate Change Initiative; Power Africa Initiative; Global Health Initiative; strengthened theAfrican Growth and Opportunity Act; introduced new U.S. initiatives to boost trade and investment opportunities for the least developed countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, among others.
The achievement I found very unique, distinguished, and noble is the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Started in 2010, the program seeks to provide tools to support leadership development, promote entrepreneurship, and connect young leaders with one another and the United States.
Since the program started, more than 2,000 young Africans have been trained in these areas. I have argued in other platforms that until the youths in Africa are trained and prepared to take over the reins of government in the next generation, Africa’s future looks not only bleak but also unsustainable.
This is because youths all over Africa are more interested in their survival only, so they continue to struggle for life. They are far removed from their country’s governance, welfare, or well-being due to the socio-political and economic conditions in several countries on the continent. Thus, if the youth get into leadership unprepared, then Africa is done for.
Unfortunately, considering the large population of youth throughout Africa, which is the largest in the world, the number of youth trained so far in the program is negligible.
It has been said that Obama’s African legacy cannot be compared with that of his predecessor or even former President Bill Clinton who remains a popular figure in Africa. Obama’s last trip to Africa (possibly his last) is nothing compared to the warm welcome received by George W. Bush on his final trip to Africa.
George Bush was treated like a hero. Apart from fighting terrorism across the African region, he fought the HIV/AIDS scourge on the continent like no one, reauthorized the African Growth and Opportunity Act as well as designed the Millennium Challenge Corp. to fight poverty on the continent. As argued by Hussein Hassen in his article “Washington’s Engagement with the Continent Continues To Prioritize Security Over Human Rights and Economic Partnership,” Obama’s two main pet projects (Power Africa and YALI) do not measure up to his predecessor’s bold initiatives. During Obama’s tenure, South Sudan, Libya, and the Central African Republic have become failed states.
What is noticeable is that Obama’s popularity in Africa has diminished. Who talks about him these days?
Still, African leaders as well as her citizens need to realize that no power or force in the world can aid them to development until they themselves show their determination to do so.
African leaders are always looking for some foreign aid, a foreign intervention, or a foreign development model, but the sincerity of the most altruistic foreign leader can never spur any country to development until African leaders themselves drive such vision with ruthless determination.
Whatever Barack Obama has done or not done is left for historians to reconstruct. It is unfair to say he does not cherish Africa or his roots because he does. But it is also unfair to say he helped Africa more than any U.S. president in recent history.
I wish him a wonderful retirement from office in advance.
BMCE Bank of Africa closes registration for the 2016 African Entrepreneurship Award and prepares to announce the candidates for its second round
May 18, 2016 | 0 Comments
The Group BMCE Bank of Africa announces the closing of Round 1 of the second edition of the African Entrepreneurship Award . The AEA is dedicated to inspire talented African entrepreneurs, or originating from Africa, by funding businesses using technologies that transcend borders to create jobs and improve lives.
Round 1 opened in mid-February and closed May 6th 2016, attracting about 8800 entrepreneurs from 105 countries submitting 3900 business ideas, that is an increase of +33% in applications volume compared to the Award’s first edition in 2015. From now until May 31st, 130 Regional African mentors are mentoring each business idea to decide who continues to Round 2 “Most Likely to Succeed Across Africa” in each category: Education, Environment and Uncharted Domains. Entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries plus 51 countries in the diaspora competed in Round 1 for “Most Needed In My Region”.
Round 1 winners will be announced on May 31st for the opening of Round 2, lasting from May 31st to July 31st 2016. During Round 2, entrepreneurs will benefit from the Pan-African mentors’ expertise to improve their business’ ability to meet customer needs and compete effectively across Africa. Following this second round, the best ideas will qualify for the third round of the AEA competition, where Global Mentors from the three continents will mentor African entrepreneurs to improve their businesses and rank “The Most Significant and Sustainable Businesses” for Africa.
Initiated in November 2014 by the Chairman of the Group BMCE Bank of Africa, Mr. Othman Benjelloun, the African Entrepreneurship Award illustrates the commitment of this group to inspire entrepreneurship across all of Africa. Each year, this initiative funds 1 million USD for the best African entrepreneurs, thus supporting their efforts to create jobs and improve lives for every African region. In 2015, the 1 million USD Award was shared among 10 winners from five economic zones across Africa.
AGAINST ALL ODDS : HOW TO STAY ON TOP OF THE GAME-Angelle Kwemo shares tips in new book
May 17, 2016 | 0 Comments
International Business Strategist, Attorney and Author, Angelle B. Kwemo shares her journey while outlining the steps anyone can take to achieve ultimate success in every area of their lives.
HOW TO STAY ON TOP OF THE GAME
By Angelle B. Kwemo
On Sale NOW
“You Must Act As If It Is Impossible To Fail” ~ Ashanti
The Oracle Group International is thrilled to announce the publication of AGAINST ALL ODDS: How to Stay On Top of The Game (Paperback; On Sale Now; $14.99; ISBN: 9781483441566) by award winning international business, political consultant and entrepreneur Angelle Kwemo, CEO of Astrategik Group and Founder of Believe in Africa. A lifetime in the making, Angelle provides readers with a clear and practical blueprint for personal and professional success, while sharing her amazing journey from childhood in Cameroon to become a globally respected government policy and international trade strategist.
AGAINST ALL ODDS is the captivating story of one woman’s determination to pursue her passion and aspirations while defying self-limitation and status quo. Angelle Kwemo, who is proud to be an African woman, followed her dreams, ignored the ridicule, and fought aggressively to seize every opportunity that presented itself to her. Today, Angelle is one of the worlds most sought after government relations and international trade advisory strategists. She advises multi dimensional entities on such matters as how to compete globally and build inroads into the United States, Africa, and other emerging markets. Angelle has lectured at Universities and Conferences around the globe, teaching techniques and strategies on how to successfully navigate into the international marketplace along with the art of remaining competitive.
So what does it take to build the courage to follow your vision, overcome challenges and be relentless in the pursuit of your dreams? Angelle will tell you. Presented here is Angelle Kwemo’s unique blueprint on how to become non-negotiable about your goals and eliminate those toxic behaviors that could potentially impede all efforts towards the attainment of success. To assist in the accomplishment of the aforementioned feat, Angelle utilizes AGAINST ALL ODDS to offer provocative lessons, real-life case studies, and proven strategies of risk and reward that are designed to help pave your own-chartered course of success and live a life of richness.
“This story is for all people of race, color, and color, but not for the light of heart, I think its important to share how I shaped my vision, developed endurance, over came the challenges, and became relentless in the pursuit of my dreams”, says Ms. Kwemo, “Life is like a game, having different levels of championship to grow and evolve, this manual will help you stay on top of your game and overcome life’s challenges at every stage of your career”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angelle Kwemo is Founder & Chair of Believe in Africa advocating for empowering the African private sector, women and youth. She is President & CEO of AstrategiKGroup, a firm that provides government relations, international trade advisory and strategic advice to multi-dimensional entities, allowing them to compete globally and build inroads into the United States, Africa and other emerging markets. A native of Cameroon, she started her career in France at Bestaux Law firm. In Douala, Cameroon, as one of the youngest executives, she served as the Chief of the Maritime Claims and Disputes Department, and later as the General Counsel for Bollore Technology Group and Geodis Overseas, one of the largest French investors in West Africa. She moved to the United States in 2001 where her determination landed her job in U.S. Congress where she worked for 8 years.
May 25, 2016; $14.99
Lulu Publishing, Inc.
ISBN #: 9781483441566
eBook ISBN #: 9781483441573
President Kaunda, where is the book?
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments
Current leaders and the citizens can learn a lot from books authored by previous presidents. Zambia would benefit tremendously from hearing from President Kenneth Kaunda, the founding president who was in power for 27 years. How and why did he make the many momentous and not-so-momentous decisions during his time in office? He owes Zambians explanations.
It is my submission that presidents owe us good governance when they are in office and owe us another obligation when they retire – and that is to explain to the nation the reasons they made certain choices of crucial importance when they were in power. Even if some explanations may be informed by post-facto justifications and not afore-thought decisional predilections, they are still worth more than nothing at all. There are so many questions that require answers concerning the governorship of the most consequential president in Zambian history. This is the president who delivered us from colonialism, the president who stitched the nation together when it could have torn itself into tribal and regional fiefdoms; the Barotse region wanted independence, Nkumbula after being the second leader of the independence party after Lewanika, was sidelined to heading a party centred in Southern Province.
The president put together the most tribally-representative cabinet to date, including well-educated and technocratic ministers; the president built the first university; the first president decided that aiding the liberation movement at great economic and political and other costs to the nation was a worthy goal; the president determined that social spending in health and education was the way to go; he decided that it was a great call to encourage diversification into agriculture by giving cheap loans for fertilizers and agricultural equipment and to build farrows (migelos) to stem soil erosion; that national military service for students built national character; that ‘one Zambia one nation’ should be pursued; that non-alignment in international politics was a safer foreign policy method; that the Tazara Railway line be built by the Chinese and that Zambia become a one-party state; and more than a million other decisions. A lot of questions have been raised. We need answers.
What influenced Dr. Kaunda to make all the crucial decisions indicated above? Why and by what processes? How? Does he regret any one of them? Could he have appointed another minister and not the other one? How and why did he ignore tribal sentiments and how did he handle tribal sentiments? If he were to govern now, what would he do the same or differently?
A lot of former presidents have written books after leaving office. I like the books written by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Ian Smith’s book is a dynamite. De Clerk has written a book. Mandela wrote several books after leaving office. Tony Blair has explained why he did what he did. Fidel Castro’s book is second to none. Obasanjo of Nigeria has several books written by him with the assistance of my former colleague from Canada. Nkrumah is my hero in writing books. And so on.
Current leaders can learn a lot from books authored by previous presidents. The nation of Zambia would benefit tremendously from hearing from President Kaunda. Maybe some of the criticisms about his governorship would be tempered if we heard directly as to why he made certain policies and decisions.
One of the easiest books to write is a presidential memoir. Presidents have daily memo and appointment books. There are minutes written of most things they do. The people they meet, like other presidents, also keep daily official minutes. The president’s life is regimented so it is easy to obtain the information from the diaries which are official and from other official documents. The books of Mandela, Clinton, Carter, Blair and so on clearly indicate that they are derived from official diaries. A president can fill in the gaps. So why not write now, Dr. Kaunda? This is not for personal gratification. It is for the benefit of Zambia. Presidential immunities continue after leaving office, so should the obligation to impart knowledge and experience to Zambia through a book or books.
I also know how easy it is to write from dairies and documents. I penned my book ‘Thoughts Are Free: Prison Experience and Reflections on Law and Politics in General’ (1992) from the existing raw materials and recollections and talking to friends who experienced some events at the same time. A president can have a team of authors or ghost-writers. It is permitted. It is not a secret.
I am reliably informed that President Kaunda has a book but that one of his children is said to have spirited it away and it has not been released. That book if it exists is not a family book. It is a common heritage to Zambia and humankind for their benefit.
President Kaunda will forever remain the most important and consequential leader Zambia ever had, thus he owes us as Zambians, the benefit of the gravitas that enabled him to steer the Zambian ship safe to harbour for 27 years.
West Africans have a saying that when an old man dies, a library burns to the ground. Can you imagine how many millions of libraries burn when a President dies? President Kaunda, where is the book?
* Source Pambazuka. Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa teaches law at Zambian Open University and is the compiler of ‘The Case Against Tribalism in Zambia’. He is also the author of ‘Thoughts Are Free.’
US$7 Million Prize to Fund African Renewable Energy Projects
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments
Calling all entrepreneurs and developers of renewable energy projects in Africa
- Just three weeks left for entrepreneurs to enter the ACF competition which will see developers across the continent compete for funding and expertise
- Calling all entrepreneurs and developers of renewable energy projects in Africa
Access Power , a developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today kicked off the countdown for applications to the ACF 2016, the second edition of its successful Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) for renewable energy projects in Africa.
ACF 2016 is a competition dedicated to finding local power project developers with credible renewable energy projects in Africa who need access to funding, technical experience, and expertise to bring their plans to life.
Following the competition’s successful launch last year, the ACF increased its funding from US$5m in 2015 to US$7m for this year’s winners. Up to three successful projects will be selected by a panel of expert judges whose decision will be based on commercial, technical and environmental merits, the local regulatory environment, and capability of the project team.
The winners of ACF 2016 will be announced on Tuesday 22nd June 2016 before a live audience during the Africa Energy Forum in London (see Notes to Editors for further details). The winners will enter a Joint Development Agreement with Access Power, which will take an equity stake in the winning projects and fund third-party development costs such as feasibility studies, grid studies, environmental and social impact assessments and due diligence fees. Access Power will also provide technical support, financial structuring and development process management.
Nasir Aku, ACF Program Manager at Access Power commented, “With just one month to go until the application deadline, we want to make sure that all local developers across the African continent are aware of this fantastic opportunity to secure valuable funding and expertise that can turn an idea for a renewable energy project into reality.”
ACF 2016 is leading the way in demonstrating and supporting the type of renewable energy projects that will help meet Africa’s massive and urgent need for electrification.
“Through this unique facility, we hope to encourage innovation and support companies in their efforts to deliver power to places that desperately need it. Last year we received a total of 55 submissions from 18 countries across Africa, including solar, wind, hydro, hybrid and bio-mass projects. The applications are coming in fast so 2016 looks set to build on that success.”
The inaugural ACF in 2015 was won by Quaint Solar Energy from Nigeria and Flatbush Solar from Cameroon. Other competing projects hailed from Cape Verde, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania.
One project has already pre-qualified for ACF2016. A 25MW solar project being developed in Sierra Leone by Africa Growth and Energy Solutions (AGES) won the Solar Shark Tank competition at the Making Solar Bankable conference in Amsterdam on 18th February. In a keenly fought contest, three emerging markets developers competed for a US$100,000 grant to support the development of their solar projects, funded by Access Power and Dutch development bank FMO. Part of the prize, subject to terms and conditions, was pre-qualification for ACF2016.
- The independent judging panel of four judges will include industry and legal experts as well as representatives from multilateral development banks.
- Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges at the Africa Energy Forum in London on the 22nd June 2016.
- Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the Forum within a given time and take questions from panel members.
- Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
- ACF 2016 submission period runs from 18th February to 20th May, 2016.
Access Power (‘Access’) was founded in 2012 with the aim of becoming a leading developer, owner and operator of power assets in emerging and frontier markets. Access has assembled a development team with a track record of financially closing ~30 GW of power projects across the globe. Through its various subsidiaries, Access is currently developing power assets in over 20 countries in Africa and Asia. Access’ portfolio predominantly consists of renewable energy projects with a gross total investment cost of over US$ 1 billion.
Cameroonian – American Teen Accepted to Nine Prestigious Colleges
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments
A local senior, Niven Achenjang of Knox Central High and The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Bowling Green, Kentucky has been accepted into all 9 prestigious colleges he applied to. The humble dual student, gives credit to his teachers, school mates and guidance counsellors at Knox Central and The Gatton Academy as well as his extended family, siblings, friends and St. Gregory church Barbourville for earning his way to this moment.
Niven Achenjang who was recently named a National Merit Finalist by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation received the coveted YES, Congratulations and admission offers from Western Kentucky University, Stanford University, University of Kentucky, (these three under the Early Action program), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Vanderbilt University-TN, California Institute of Technology-Caltech, Georgia Institute of Technology-GeorgiaTech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology-MIT and Harvard College. Rejection letters can worsen what many seniors and their parents consider as a stressful and frustrating college process, but hard work pays and hopefully future seniors would be inspired by this story.
Niven smiles as he quips praising the Lord and adding that he must have something that the highly competitive/selective schools see as being of value in him. May that be true and may I not fail my friends, family, school district and myself as I look forward to define my place in the world and in what the future holds. Mr. Results driven Niven, plans to major in Math and Computer Science technically called Mathematical and Computational Science, with specialization in Software Engineering at Stanford.
Asked why he selected Stanford, he said, he planned on studying computer science and researching in the field adding that it was his understanding that Stanford has one of the top CS programs in the nation. He just returned from the admit weekend visit at Stanford and recalls that he came across satisfied that Stanford offers a flexible curriculum in many subject areas, with a diverse student body, culturally and intellectually. Being a part of Stanford, I believe, will be challenging and help me grow as I am surrounded by people different than me. Stanford also has great weather, many nice places for outdoor activities (running, hiking, etc.), and connections to many big name companies.
Asked what inspires him most, he revealed that he was probably most inspired by impactful ends. When I find something new, he continues, I try to think about what it could lead into and what that could mean for me, the people around me, and the world at large. The dream of being a part of something that has a long lasting effect (on mankind?) is what inspires me to take the steps to achieve that end.
On whether, he felt Knox Central/Knox County had helped him grow, he answered in the affirmative. Definitely, he said, I have been in Knox County for most of my life. It is where I was raised for the most part, and it is where I had the experiences that have made me who I am. If it were not for all the support and advice from family, friends, teachers, and members of the community I have come to know; for all the good times I have had with them; and for all the times I have messed up and been steered right by one of them, I would not have been able to accomplish what I have. For this and more I am grateful to them and thankful to God
Finally, on how he felt looking back on his work and accomplishments, he said, I feel proud. Not only proud of what I have done, but proud of the fact that I did not do it alone. I am elated that I have been able to meet and befriend people who have been willing to help me along the way as I have gone through life.
Niven’s hobbies include track and field, cross country, frisbee, and community involvement.
*Previously published as a Special for The Times Tribune of KY, with caption KNOX COUNTY TEEN ACCEPTED BY TOP COMPETITIVE COLLEGES TO THE CLASS OF 2020!
Carlos Lopes: To industrialise, Africa needs strong but smart states
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments
“Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas…Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.”
African Arguments caught up with the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Director to talk about economic transformation, what’s holding the continent back, and whether leaders will really take action in the wake of the #PanamaPapers.
In a lot of your work, you emphasise the need for Africa to undergo ‘structural transformation’. What does this mean, and why is industrialisation so important to it?
There is a whole literature about structural transformation, but in practical terms right now in Africa it means moving to higher productivity sectors. We see this happening in three particular areas. Firstly, there’s agricultural productivity, which is at its lowest in Africa yet offers incredible potential for minimising poverty and contributing to industrialisation through agro-processing. Secondly, there’s manufacturing, which requires policies that mimic part of the experience of successful industrialisation processes of the past but are much more adapted to African characteristics. And thirdly, there’s the service sector, which needs to become more integrated into the formal economy.
Industrialisation plays a critical role because it’s more than just the production of processed goods or value addition from natural resources. It’s also an enabler for a rising society and, being a latecomer, Africa can learn from the experiences of others and adjust. For Africa, issues such as the environment, for instance, can be tackled up front.
There are varying verdicts as to how African industrialisation is faring. Some emphasise that manufacturing as a share of Africa’s GDP has almost halved from its 20% level in 1970. But others highlight that manufacturing is increasing at 3.5% a year, faster than the global average. What’s your take?
If you measure it by manufacturing value added, which is the common preferred indicator, then yes it is true that in percentage GDP terms, African manufacturing is stagnating if not falling. But African economies have doubled in the last 15 years, so even if you maintain the same percentage it means a lot more industry has come on board. Moreover, this also doesn’t take into account a number of activities that we can consider industrial but aren’t counted in statistics because of delays in updating national accounts.
Our take is that industrialisation is increasing significantly in some countries, though not across the entire continent, and that we need to accelerate and aggressively.
What’s holding African industrialisation back? Is it insufficient infrastructure? Lack of imagination amongst policymakers? Trade treaties that constrain what governments are able to do?
It’s all of those but the important question is which of those comes first. I think the capacity for comprehensiveness that comes with an industrial policy is what is the most important, because if you tackle the issue from just a specific sector or enabler or dimension, you are never going to get your act together.
The countries that really move and industrialise always have the same recipe: a very strong state hand, but a state that is very smart, a state that is capable of introducing smart protectionism because crude protectionism is no longer available, a state that is capable of identifying the critical enablers like infrastructure, and a state that knows how to fund its policies whether through domestic resource mobilisation or astute borrowing.
In a recent ECA report, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Bilateral Investment Treaties and Economic Partnership Agreements are painted as significant barriers to African industrialisation. Do these agreements just need tweaking or are they inherently detrimental for Africa?
I think African countries have embarked on signing stuff they shouldn’t sign, but too bad for them. The WTO is a consensus-based mechanism that would allow for stalling, so if Africans don’t get their act together to stall the things that are bad for them, then that’s an African problem not a WTO problem.
I think Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas. They are not taking advantage of space they already have. And Africans are also distracted by negotiating bilateral trade agreements before they finalise their own. Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.
Given enormous global power imbalances, do you think it’s enough for African policymakers to just be slightly smarter and more imaginative under the current system, or do you think there needs to be more fundamental change too?
The moral and political dimension I leave for the media, NGOs, and civil society, though we should certainly give them ammunition so their claims are evidence-based. Where we can really make a difference is in deconstructing some untruths that have long been masquerading as truths. That’s why we’ve been plunging into legislative issues, contract negotiations, and investment and trade treaties to try and have a more informed discussion. We think a lot of space exists in these that Africans are not using. After all, countries that are good negotiators do get a better deal.
In terms of untruths, take this race to the bottom towards zero tax for investors for an example. Does it attract more investors in relation to potential competitors? No. Typically countries that are well organised and structured and that offer investors a package of incentives that are not tax-based are more attractive than ones offering tax incentives.
When it comes to illicit financial flows, through which $50 billion leaves Africa each year according to an ECA report, do you think leaders will seize this moment after the #PanamaPapers to implement real reforms?
There are various dimensions to the debate, but because of Mossack Fonseca we are currently focusing on one dimension: namely tax jurisdictions and how multinationals are taking advantage of different loopholes to move from one jurisdiction to another in order not to pay tax.
Another dimension, however, is the competition amongst financial centres. The City of London, for example, doesn’t want to lose its prominence as one of the leading financial centres of the world. This means that they have to stay ahead of competitors and protect a certain number of very complex legislative dimensions that will appear from a regulatory point of view to be very strong and powerful, but at the same time be lenient where they know competitors could have an edge.
There is certainly now a strong public push for regulators to put a bit of order to things. And I don’t think the rhetoric is hypocritical, but how far they will go and how much political leaders will embrace actual change is another matter.
Africa and the Global Security Architecture
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments
Africa must ensure that its positions on international security concerns – and not just African issues – are carefully coordinated and well presented as it seeks to have a permanent position in the international security architecture.
| By Kofi Annan*
At the outset of these remarks, allow me to thank our Chairman for inviting me to the Tana Forum. This is the first time I am attending this prestigious event, which brings together many distinguished participants who share a deep, mutual interest in the security and well-being of Africa.
Our topic this afternoon is Africa and the Global Security Architecture.
During the Cold War years that would have not been a subject for much discussion. In those days, we looked for big-power champions who could provide diplomatic and security cover.
The contemporary world is far more complex.
And, as the awful atrocities that have been perpetrated in West, East and North Africa have shown, the continent is not immune to the security threats that many countries around the world now face.
But I want to start with some good news. Africa is actually doing better than many people may realize in terms of the security of its citizenry.
Today, and despite a few egregious exceptions, armed conflict is actually a smaller risk to most Africans than traffic accidents.
This improvement of the security situation helped set the stage for rapid economic growth of 5-6% per year for the last fifteen years.
As a result of this sustained period of growth, extreme poverty has fallen by 40% since 1990.
And Africa’s growth can no longer be explained just by global demand for its commodities.
Two thirds of Africa’s growth over the last decade has come from increased domestic demand for goods and services in thriving sectors such as telecoms, financial services, manufacturing and construction.
As a result, today, inflows of private investment dwarf international aid.
They have been encouraged by the efforts of governments across Africa to improve their macro-economic environments.
Although there is still some way to go, we have seen encouraging steps towards gender parity, and the continent is moving towards universal primary education.
The spread of HIV/AIDS is in decline, and the number of deaths from tuberculosis and malaria is falling.
Democracy is extending its roots as Burkina Faso, Guinea and Nigeria have recently demonstrated.
Other countries like Cote d’Ivoire, have emerged from the abyss of conflict and are making strides towards a better and more democratic future.
In other words, our continent is generally heading in the right direction.
This encouraging analysis will come, I know, as very cold comfort for those millions of people who are still living every day in the shadow of violent conflict and abject poverty.
Progress remains uneven, and the dangers today are both internal and external.
Rebel groups have flourished in the impoverished parts of weak states that feel hard-done by their governments, where the population is often abused by the security forces, or where they do not trust the courts to deliver justice.
External forces are taking advantage of these shortcomings. We cannot ignore that from Mauritania in the west to Somalia in the east, the flag of Jihad is being raised.
More than a dozen sub-Saharan countries are concerned, and tens of thousands have already died as a result.
Boko Haram actually killed more people last year than the Islamic State. Attacks in many places are a daily or weekly occurrence.
And local extremist groups are now linking up to each other across borders, and even to global franchises like Al Qaeda or Islamic State.
Precisely because of these affiliations, these conflicts are generally seen through a unique prism: the global war on Islamist terrorism.
This neglects what they have in common with other insurgencies on the continent, which have nothing to do with Islam.
It is no secret that unemployed young men are especially vulnerable to the temptations of violence and easily instrumentalised for that purpose.
This is not a specifically Muslim problem: a World Bank survey in 2011 showed that about 40% of those who join rebel movements say they are motivated by a lack of jobs.
In Africa, as elsewhere, the answer does not lie in a purely military response that fails to deal with the root causes of disaffection and violence.
As I constantly repeat, you cannot have peace and security without inclusive development, the rule of law and the respect for human rights. These are the three pillars of all successful societies.
It is largely because these three pillars are quite fragile in parts of Africa that we are still seeing instability and violence.
The truth is that the economic growth in Africa over the last fifteen years, though impressive, has been neither sufficient nor inclusive.
In fact, Africa has become the world’s second most unequal continent, according to the African Development Bank.
Too much of that growth has enriched a narrow elite and not enough was spent on infrastructure, health or education, which would have fostered development.
It is no coincidence that Boko Haram originated in one of the world’s poorest and most deprived areas of the continent.
Not only does wealth not trickle down, but it is barely taxed, depriving the state of resources to provide public services.
It is not just that Africa is unequal: it is also unfair. An African Union report has estimated that up to one quarter of the continent’s GDP is syphoned off every year through corruption.
The trafficking of drugs creates an especially difficult challenge. Drug money is insidious and invasive. It corrodes political institutions.
We must focus on the money trail. We have been locking up the minor offenders while the big fish swim free.
The fight against violent rebel movements is necessary, and will require enhanced inter-African as well as international cooperation.
But this is not enough because the challenge of security in Africa is often a political challenge revolving around the acquisition and use of power.
As a result, elections are a source of tension and repression rather than an opportunity for the free expression of political will.
Leaders who hang on to power indefinitely by gaming elections and suppressing criticism and opposition are sowing the seeds of violence and instability.
African leaders, like leaders everywhere, must remember that they are at the service of their citizens, and not the other way around.
They have a mandate given to them, in trust, by their people, who can also take it away from them if they are found wanting and to have outstayed their welcome.
So looking forward, I see five critical challenges for Africa as it fashions its role in the global security order.
First, at the global level, Africa must have a strong and consistent voice at the pinnacle of the international security architecture – in the Security Council.
Ideally, this means African permanent seats. But until that can be accomplished, Africa must ensure that its positions on international security concerns – and not just African issues – are carefully coordinated and well presented.
Second, at the regional level, we should recognize and applaud the work of the AU and the sub-regional organisations, which have acquired considerable and commendable experience in mounting peace operations.
This effort must continue. But African states will have to give the AU the means to do so and, in future, rely less on outside funding.
Third, looking to the national level, the most urgent challenge is to create enough jobs for the continent’s youth.
According to the World Bank, eleven million young people are expected to enter Africa’s labour market every year for the next decade.
If these young people cannot find jobs, and do not believe in the future, they may be tempted by rebel movements of all kinds, as well as crime and migration.
Wherever I am in Africa, I am always struck not just by the number of young people, but also by their energy, their creativity and their talent.
We should invest in them, harness their talent and ensure that the next generation of leaders will do better than we have done.
Another major challenge lies in building confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.
Elections should be the vehicle for popular choice in which the winner does not take all and the losers do not lose all.
Those who win must recognize that they do not have a licence to rule without restraint or remain in office in perpetuity.
Let us not confuse legality with legitimacy. Elections that meet legal form but fail the test of integrity are only pyrrhic victories that usually store up trouble for the future.
Finally, I want to mention the quality of national security forces. Madiba once said that “freedom would be meaningless without security in the home and in the streets”.
That security in the home and in the streets depends in good measure on our security forces.
We must invest in them but also make them fully accountable as part of our democratic societies. They must be trained to protect the individual and his or her family and property, to earn their trust and work with the people.
We have come a long way from the Cold War days.
Africa is now part and parcel of the global security architecture.
We can and must step up to that role by investing in our people and by protecting rights and not just regimes.
If we do that, I am convinced that our future will be more peaceful and secure than our recent past and Africa will exert a powerful and constructive influence within the global security architecture.
*Real News. Kofi Annan, President of the Kofi Annan Foundation, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Prize Laureate, presented this Keynote Address at the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa which Held from April 16 – 17, 2016, in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.
The Spirit of Tana
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments
The spirit of Tana forum encourages open debate on security issues in Africa uninhibited by secrecy that characterises formal engagements on such matters
By Prof. Andreas Eshete*
At this, the fifth Tana forum, it may well be premature for a full-fledged retrospective. Still, a glance at the past may help to remind us what inspires and animates our annual gathering at Tana.
Tana Forum began as an initiative of the Institute of Peace and Security Studies of Addis Ababa University, Inspired by the exemplary work of the Munich Security Conference. The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the first champion of Tana Forum, was convinced that the Forum would serve to promote two companion aims, aims that he artfully and passionately pursued throughout the course of his public life. First, to enrich reasoned public discussion on the challenges of peace and security facing Africans in ways that extend the reach and depth of the terms of public debate; and; second, to foster a shared understanding of the nature and source of these challenges in order to forge a collective African vision, voice and capability on how best to avoid and overcome African’s troubles in this area. The idea was not, of course, to supplement the valuable work of formal institutions. To the contrary, Meles Zenawi worked tirelessly to strengthen African regional and continental institutions such as IGAD, NEPAD and the African Union as well as to elevate their international standing. The aim instead was to complement the efforts of Africa’s formal institutions by exploring the distinctive possibilities and virtues of alternative public fora for reflection and conversation.
Tana Forum offers a public space for reasoned deliberation unfettered by either the mandate and formalities of official fora or the exigencies in such bodies for reaching decisions and taking actions. The determination to convene an unceremonious assembly was evident from the beginning. I recall our distinguished chair, Chief Obasanjo’s, in a characteristic expression of his wise stewardship, casting aside part of his robe during an early forum to highlight the call for an unbuttoned exchange of ideas. The Forum chose to solicit the hospitality of the city and people of Bahir Dar in order to secure a peaceful and beautiful haven, where the participants can wholeheartedly join public discussions undistracted by official engagements. There are various reasons in favor of an informal African forum on peace and security. For one thing, national discussions on immediate matters of security tend to be inhibited by secrecy and other considerations of state. Second, national and other formal fora are not readily responsive to the fact that many challenges to African security increasingly defy national borders, and that this reach extends beyond the continent. Consider, for instances, the deft deployment of social media for propaganda and recruitment by militant groups. Further, personal and public virtues like toleration, crucial for the fate of peace and security, cannot be engendered or bolstered by formal institutions alone. Finally, the strains and divisions that surfaced in the European Union in the wake of the recent flow of refugees to Europe is a salutary reminder of the risks incurred and frailties exposed by banking on formal arrangements.
Another feature that breathes life into the proceedings of the Forum is the unusually wide range of interlocutors. There are in our midst political leaders, senior officers of intergovernmental institutions and prominent members of civic and business communities. Also present are scholars, seasoned practitioners, youth, and Africa’s committed partners. The robust representation of leaders and citizens from a wide spectrum of African society matters because the cause of peace and security is everyone’s concern and its imperilment is felt more by the many poor and vulnerable. On the latter, think of the truly tragic use of abducted young girls as sexual slaves and suicide bombers by Boko Harem. Tana affords a rare opportunity for us to hear African leaders of state and government speaking in a personal capacity and voice. The presence of former heads of state and government, now released from the responsibilities of public office, enables us to benefit from their practical wisdom and experience. The interaction between incumbent political leaders and individuals with whom they do not normally enjoy direct contact may reveal aspects of the character, values and convictions of Africa’s leaders that go beyond or against the grain of their public self –image? Moreover, the diversity of participants and perspectives contributes to the democratic ethos of the deliberation at Tana. Amartya Sen remarks: “democracy has to be judged…by the extent to which different voices from diverse sections of the people are actually heard.” In this respect Tana Forum modestly carries on a venerable tradition of democratic participation practiced at different times and places much as the early American town-hall meeting, the Paris Commune, and the African village assembly, here symbolized by the tree depicted before you.
The subjects so far selected for attention at the Forum address issues central to the achievement of peace and security in Africa. The significance of diversity and state fragility — the theme of the maiden session — has been vindicated by developments in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and by the spread of militant movements marching under the banner of faith — the latter was the focus of last year’s forum. Another session looked into the illicit flow of funds from Africa. The Panama Papers and the numerous African cases already revealed in the files vividly show that the rich and powerful secretly divert scarce African resources at the expense of the populace’s abiding interest in growth and equality, this year’s them unities us to take a measure of how we are treated in the global security agenda and to explore promising possibilities to enhance Africa’s agency in shaping it in the future.
Beyond the examination of these subjects, the Forum now hosts the annual Meles Zenawi memorial lecture devoted to critical appraisals of political leadership in Africa.
The series opened with a look at Meles Zenawi’s bold experiment with federative arrangements designed to find public room for Ethiopia’s many cultural communities and identities. The inaugural session also addressed Meles Zenawi’s learned advocacy and decisive public action to lay the foundation of an African democratic developmental state. Subsequent lectures attended to the illustrious lives of Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah and, now, Patrice Lumumba.
Alongside the forum, there are now regular occasions for interaction among participants at the forum and the students and academic staff of Bahir Dar University on issues that bear on the concerns of the Forum.
Yesterday, Her Excellency, Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda, spoke on the rationale for an African developmental state, drawing upon the encouraging experience of Rwanda.
In sum, in a short span of time, the Forum has emerged as a vibrant vehicle for public discussion and reflection on how Africa can be free from recurrent and recalcitrant strife, strike which plainly stands in the way of popular yearning for enduring progress in self-government and emancipation from poverty across Africa. This is an auspicious beginning for joining the quest to revisit and to revive a sense a sense of Pan-African solidarity that we, together would the continued support with his Excellency Prime Minister Hailemariam Deslagen and our partners, can now carry forward with confidence.
. Culled from Real Magazine.Prof . Andreas Eshete, special advisor to the prime minister of Ethiopia and deputy chairperson of the Tana Forum Board presented this speech at the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa which held on April 16 – 17, 2016 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
HOW TECHNOLOGY IS ACCELERATING ECONOMIC GROWTH IN AFRICA
April 5, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Ahmed Mheta
Technology has helped many countries around the world achieve economic growth. It is evident to most of us that technology speeds up and makes things we want to do easy. Technology can help in achieving economic and physical success. This article will look at how technology is accelerating economic growth in Africa and how people are benefiting from technological presense. According to Rupert Keeley, general manager for PayPal’s business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the rapid adoption of mobile technology and the growth of online shopping by an emerging middle class makes Africa a fertile region for expansion.
Technology has changed the way healthcare is being delivered globally allowing individuals easy access to health resources and services. The technological health resources include health text messaging projects, portable sensors and mobile apps that ensure effective service. For example, an international NGO named Malaria No More is curbing the spread of Malaria in Africa and internationally through the use of mobile technology. People are able to donate money to treat an individual with malaria using a smartphone. In Ghana, the MOTECH initiative allows women to register to receive local-language messages that provide advice for healthy pregnancy. In addition, the initiative allows health workers the ability to use mobile phones to record health services provided. Healthy citizens turn out to be active members of society and contribute to economic growth through effective participation. It is important for African countries to pay more attention to the health of people in society.
Agriculture and Farming
In most African countries, agriculture supports the well-being of about 70 percent of the continent’s population. Mobile technology has played a major role as a transformative tool for rural agriculture. For instance, the Kenyan text messaging platform Sokoni SMS allows farmers to transfer concise information about wholesale retails of crops and enabling other farmers to negotiate deals on agricultural stock. Sokoni users get value for their fees and their earnings have doubled as a result of access to timely text message market information. Finally, the role played by mechanical technology encompassing many agricultural operations cannot be forgotten. The use of engine powered equipment and irrigation systems that control volume of water is an example.
Technology has played a major role in how people bank their money and take care of their finances globally. The impact of technology can be seen in how people are banking in Africa today. An example of banking technological evolution in Africa, is the establishment of Safaricom’s M-Pesa , a service that makes it possible for users to store money on their mobile phones and then use it to pay their electricity bills or send money to their loved ones via text. The use of smartphones has clearly improved how people manage their finances online and personally. Most Africans can now use their mobile phones to monitor their money online and purchase goods and services.
The importance of technology has led to the growth of education in African countries. For instance, over 200 children in Ghana learned how to use computers through the Volta Regional Library’s mobile service. The library initiative brought computers to rural areas and taught students ICT skills necessary to aid them in passing their exams. Some students would not have had the opportunity to use computers in class while learning and only learn theory. Students are now able to implement new skills acquired to find information about farming which would improve the livelihoods of many people in Africa.
In South Africa, mining has been a major economic driving force for over 150 years ago. South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of platinum and one of the leading producers of gold and diamonds. Technology has played a major role in the success of mining in Africa. For example, mechanized mining seeks to use machinery to drill and extract minerals and metals. In addition, technology assists South Africa’s competiveness by maximizing productivity. Miners are trained to use and maintain highly specialized equipment. This technology allows miners greater access to reserves that would be too dangerous to explore. South Africa is setting global mining industry standards by the use of mechanization and robotics.
“Mobile Health: Transforming the Face of Health Service Delivery in the African Region.” African Health Observatory
“Agriculture and Development in Africa.” Agriculture and Development in Africa. Ed. Cutler J. Cleveland.2007
“Text Message Services Improve Agriculture in Kenya.” Commodities and Futures Trading Blog Articles. 2015
Mennell,Rick. “South Africa Info.” South African Innovation Sets Pace for Mining Industry.2015
South Africa: Blasphemy! Prophet Mboro Claims Jesus Has ‘Hot’ Wife
April 5, 2016 | 0 Comments
South African based controversial Paseka Motsoeneng, a self-styled ‘prophet Mboro’ has incensed many Christians with hi blasphemous comments on Sunday that his “visit in heaven” he found Jesus Christ has a “young, hot” wife.
Reports claim that in the first church service which he gave Sunday, the Prophet described heaven to his followers.
Talking about his heaven experience, Incredible Happenings Leader, Prophet Mboro, said Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour of the Christian Religion, has a young hot wife.
“I saw heaven and it is a surprise. Jesus for example, has a beautiful Xhosa wife. She is young, hot, and extremely attractive,” he said.
Christians generally do not want to hear any blasphemous statement against Jesus.
Mboro made international headlines last week after his followers claimed he was ‘abducted’ by God during an Easter service and taken to heaven.
Upon return, the man of cloth claimed he took pictures of heaven using his Samsung Galaxy S5 Smartphone.
His spokesperson proceeded to announce that the church would be selling photos of “heaven” a development which has seen Mboro roundly mocked online.
Although some of Mboro’s followers rushed to say that the story was satirical, that didn’t stop many from ridiculing the pastor.
“If the Americans can go to the Moon why can’t Pastor Mboro go to Heaven and take pics,” tweeted one. Another commented: “Don’t forget your selfie stick when U go to heaven.”
For those unable to afford the donation, there was also plenty of humorous speculation online about what the photos might show.
*Source Allafrica/Nyassa Times