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Tana Forum Brainstorms on How Africa Can Harness its Resources
May 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Maureen Chigbo, reporting from Ethiopia  *|

THE sixth Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa presented another opportunity for African leaders, academics and security experts to discuss issues affecting the growth and development of Africa in an informal setting barred from rigid protocol and officialdom. Both the young and old in the presence of presidents and ex-presidents of some African countries brainstormed on how Africa can manage its natural resources in a sustainable way to move the continent forward and provide job for the youths.

It was particularly exhilarating when Farah Nguegan, Ph.D. candidate, International Relations Institute of Cameroon, who won the Tana University Essay Competition with her essay entitled: “African Natural Resource Governance” addressed the audience. She stressed the importance of education and job creation through effective management of Africa’s natural resources to absorb the teeming unemployed youths in the continent.

Participants at the event were not disappointed as those who spoke to Realnews said some of the frank contributions were provocative although their expectations were met. Some also made suggestions as to how to improve the forum in future. For instance, Elissa Jobson, African Union, AU, Relations, who is attending the forum for the fourth time, thinks the forum is unique in making it possible for people to have access to heads of state of African countries. However, she observed that

“It’s got a bit more formal. It will be good to go back to it being a dialogue between experts and heads of state. But even so it’s unique; there is no other forum as intimate as this”.


Ethiopian prime minister at the Tana forum

The two-day forum from April 22-23, started with launch of the book: Making Africa Work: A handbook for Economic Success, co-authored by Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria and chairperson of the Tana Forum and Greg Mills, director of the Brenthurst Foundation, South Africa.

The book is a practical account of how to ensure growth beyond commodities, and to create jobs. It is a handbook for dynamic leadership inside and outside the continent based on the authors’ experience.

According to Obasanjo, the book is the first to be launched at the Tana Forum since it started six years ago, adding that there is no reason why a book launch should not be part of the forum’s future activities. “It is not an academic book. It is a realistic book about what has been, what is and what should be in the future,” Obasanjo said, adding that there is no magic formula for leaders to develop Africa except to do a few things right and continue to do them right as stated by Lee Kuan Yew, former late leader of Singapore.

Shortly after the book launch, another special event: the 2017 Annual Meles Zenawi Lecture Series saw Akere T. Muna, chairperson of the International anti-Corruption Conference and Sanctions commissioner of the African Development Bank group, Cameroon, delivering the lecture: “Leadership in Africa: Reflections on the legacies of the late Wangari Maathai, environmental activist and Nobel Peace laureate.” During the lecture, he emphasised that leadership is not about noise-making but about setting the right example, adding that the passion you brought into what you do as a leader guarantees your success.

[L-R] Billene Seyoum, moderator at the lecture delivered by Muna

[L-R] Billene Seyoum, moderator at the lecture delivered by Muna

This is exactly the kind of leadership Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Obasanjo demonstrated at the opening of the 6th the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa which ended a resounding success. Desalegn recollected Ethiopia’s long standing contribution to Pan Africanism and its ideals, emphasising that Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa is only one aspect of Ethiopia’s commitment to African causes. Also, when Victor Ochen, a young participants from Uganda, observed that the forum did not involve youths who are future leaders of Africa in the proceedings at the forum, Obasanjo readily accepted and promised to correct the omission in future. While welcoming participants, Obasanjo noted, with immense appreciations, that the Forum has established itself as a front-runner gathering in the calendar of high-profile events of its kind specifically addressing broad issues of peace and security, especially as they concern the African continent.

“I personally believe – and I imagine many of you must share my conviction – that with the myriad peace and security issues confronting our continent, the importance of this Forum for the frank exchange of ideas and in the search for creative solutions is assured,” he said.

As it has become the Tana Forum tradition, Obasanjo reminded participants of the informality of Tana and the mutual learning process it provides. “Let me begin by casting my net wide. We cannot but be globalists because whatever happens anywhere else in the world has implications for us in Africa. We must therefore think globally while we act continentally to ensure peace and security in Africa as a crucial contribution to global peace and security.

He noted that since 2016 Tana Forum, some water has passed under the bridge elsewhere in the world which cannot be ignored. The first was the heavily increased outflow of migrants from Africa and Middle-East to Europe and the effect it had on the political and social landscape of Europe. The phenomenon has remained as the causes of migration from the countries of origin are still very much there. The next issue flowing directly or indirectly from migration is what is regarded as rising populism and abandonment of liberal attitude or de-globalisation in favour of diminishing integration leading to Brexit in June last year.

He observed that by “admiring Brexit and using it to campaign in the U.S, saw the emergence of President Donald Trump, who against popular run of the mill became the 45th President of America with his populism, America First etc and the unknowns and the apprehensions about his presidency.

“There is a lot of disquiet about French election. All these cast dark cloud on the horizon of world peace, security, stability and solidarity especially as they are superimposed on the war in Syria which has now lasted more than six years, the situations in Iraq and Yemen,” Obasanjo said.

According to him, “We are moving from the fairly liberal, stable if not totally predictable world to an unstable, unpredictable, populist, world with disequilibrium. There is danger for every nation and for every region in such a world. And Africa by virtue of its apparent weakness cannot wish for such a world where it will be a pawn and a victim especially in light of our current precarious peace and security situation.”

No doubt, the security of Africa to a large extent hinges on the management of its natural resources for the betterment of its people. That is why the theme of the 6th Tana Forum entitled: “Natural Resource Governance in Africa” is apt.

After all the presentations, deliberations, and discussions on the various aspect of the natural resources governance in Africa covering the extractive sector, biodiversity, land and oceans by different discussants, Stergomena Lawrence Tax, executive secretary, Southern Africa Development Community, SADC, Botswana, presented the takeaways from the forum. She among other key issues reiterated that Africa is blessed with countless God-given resources, whereas, the resources are extremely beneficial they are often negatively impacted by poor or insufficient systems of governance. These resources if managed appropriately will transform African economies.

Another takeaway is that natural resources extraction, distribution and usage have social, economic, environmental, and political underpinnings, influenced by both endogenous and exogenous factors. These attributes have generated low-intensity tensions or large scale insurgencies, and are more complex in situations where there is lack of transparency and insufficient accountability and management mechanisms in licensing, exploration, contracting, extraction, and in revenue generation and sharing, just to mention a few.

There is also the relationship between natural resource governance and security which is also affected by the global resource politics, which is mainly generated by the involvement of multinational corporations. This has fueled social inequalities, where the locals have not benefitted from the extractions while the global actors have become grandiose.

It was also said that Africa is over reliant on external support for the management of its natural resources and strategies to address her challenges. Hence she observed that Illicit and illegal extraction of natural resources along the entire value chains benefit a few individuals, and illegal international syndicates at the expense of communities that own the natural resources.

Tax said that lack of, or inadequate benefits that accrue to the intended beneficiaries result in conflicts and, hence, insecurity, which give an advantage to the global illicit players to smuggle the resources. Due to the availability of the infrastructure for illicit financial flows, there is tendency to fuel armed conflicts and increase security threats in order to continue with illegal extractions.

As a way forward, Tax said in order to ensure proper governance of the natural resources, “there is need to re-orient the focus, from the conventional understanding of extractive industries, namely, oil, gas and minerals, etc, to broader natural resources endowments, which include non-extractive natural resources such as land, water, seas, forests and biodiversity. All these have a security bearing and direct impact to sustainable growth and development of African economies.

Obasanjo at the 6th Tana Forum

Obasanjo at the 6th Tana Forum

Africa needs to build the necessary capacities, in both, state and non state actors, that will facilitate proper management and governance of natural resources in among others, contract negotiations and management, enforcement of rights and responsibilities, monitoring and evaluation, etc. Without setting aside adequate funding for this cause, the whole agenda becomes easily distorted because, as it is said, “Those who pay the piper play the tune“. African countries cannot continue to rely on external funding if is to ensure proper governance architecture of her natural resources.

She said natural resources are supposed to benefit the people of a particular sovereign state. This calls for participation of the local communities in decision-making processes to instill a sense of ownership and ensure sustainable use, thereby reducing tensions and conflicts. Deliberate efforts should be made to promote and facilitate reviews of national policies and legal frameworks in order to promote ownership and facilitate transparency and accountability in natural resource management and governance, while ensuring optimal use and benefits.

The SADC executive secretary said that as long as Africa continues to lose its natural resources to global actors, the continent will continue to face discontentment among its citizenry. This will continue to cause conflicts and threaten peace and stability in Africa.

Unlike the scramble for Africa of the yester-century, African citizens have become of age in terms of their knowledge of resource governance. They demand that African resources should be used for Africa’s development, and that can only happen if there are measures to institute accountable and transparent governance systems.

According to her, at the centre is how African national governments can develop a long term transformation ideology and strategy, and promote good governance, rule of law, accountability and transparency.

*Culled from Real News

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Albino hunters ravage southern African region
April 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

Wallace Mawire

Samantha at  a Food for Thought discussion on trafficking in persons at the US Embassy in Zimbabwe

Samantha at a Food for Thought discussion on trafficking in persons at the US Embassy in Zimbabwe

The Southern African region is witnessing an increase of cases of
people living with albinism being targeted by albino hunters for their
body parts.

According to Samanatha Munodawafa, Programme Officer for the United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) based in Pretoria, South
Africa, issues of albino hunters on the prawl in the region are being
classified as human trafficking and the organization is working with
its other partners to conduct investigations and prosecute offenders.

“We are seeing the extraction of body parts in our region.We are
witnessing cases of albinos being targeted for organ extraction in
Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, where it is believed their body parts
make one wealthy using occult methods. Syndicates have emerged known
as albino hunters, who systematically target this group, Munodawafa
said.

She added that there is no country in the SADC region that is
untouched by human trafficking. Munodawafa said that this is why
there is quite a lot of momentum to do something about human
trafficking amongst all countries in the SADC Region.
She said that all 15 SADC countries are parties to the United
Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons especially women and children. She said that 13 out of 15
countries in the region have enacted specific legislation on the
scourge.

“This has helped in that now law enforcement agencies and prosecuting
authorities are able to investigate and prosecute the crime in its own
right. We are seeing a number of cases being detected and
investigated in the region,” Munodawafa said.
She added that people get trafficked to be exploited in the sex
industry, in domestic servitude and labour exploitation in industry,
including extraction of body parts in the region which is getting
rife.

According to Munodawafa, in Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Tanzania and
Malawi there has been an emergence of cases of women being
trafficked to the Gulf States like Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia to
be exploited in domestic servitude.

She said that some work as long as 20 to 22 hours a day, are
subjected to physical, verbal, sexual abuse, and have their travel
documents and cellphones confiscated.
It is reported that many Gulf states still have the Kafalar system in
place, which is a visa sponsorship system tying a person to an
employer.

“ So even when subjected to inhumane working conditions, women are
often unable to legally leave without their employers consent.
Although transnational trafficking is what’s mostly highlighted,
domestic trafficking is also very rife in Zimbabwe as in the region,”
she said.

She said for example that a family takes a poor 12 year old from the
rural areas to Harare to use as a domestic worker, making her wake up
at 04:00 am, she is the last one to sleep at 10:00 pm, does not go
school but does all the house work, takes care of other children, is
made to eat left overs.

“This is also trafficking. As is forced child marriage by cultural
rites. There is a South African case, the Jezile case, which ruled
that the abuse of the cultural practice of “ukuthwala”/musengabere, is
trafficking in persons,” Munodawafa said.

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

BY MARK HENSCH*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*The Hill

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

By Collins Mwai*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How it is planned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Allafrica/The New Times

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Africa: Museveni – I love that man Trump
April 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
Ugandan President Museveni and former Nigerian President Obasanjo 'Bonga' greet at the ongoing 6th High Level Forum On Security In Africa. Photo: Nabusayi L. Wamboka‏/Twitter

Ugandan President Museveni and former Nigerian President Obasanjo ‘Bonga’ greet at the ongoing 6th High Level Forum On Security In Africa. Photo: Nabusayi L. Wamboka‏/Twitter

President Yoweri Museveni has urged African leaders to stop what he described as ideological meandering. Leaders, he said, should thoroughly discuss and distill positions which can help their people transform and develop using their natural resources.

Museveni added that focus should be on home-based solutions and self reliance. He said new US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies will jolt Africans into the reality of their situation.

“I love Trump. I love that man Trump because that man has told you that he is not your uncle. And I think it is good. For those Africans who feel orphaned, am sorry for them. Let’s come back to our continent and mind our own affairs,” Museveni said.

Museveni was speaking Saturday at a discussion on “Managing Natural Resources In Africa: Challenges and Prospects,” at the ongoing 6th High Level Forum on security in Africa at Blue Nile Hotel, Bahir Dar in Ethiopia.

The president spoke passionately about processing Africa’s minerals from Africa to create jobs and get more value from their resources, illustrating his point by saying it was “foolish to give your neighbor firewood when you don’t have firewood in your house”.

“We have a lot of Uranium. Canadians came and said they wanted to take to Canada to process it from there and I said it will stay in the ground until we build own nuclear power station because am not a fool to give firewood to my neighbor when I don’t have firewood in my house,” he said.

Education is not only solution

President Museveni who disagreed with some of the presenters who said education was the solution to solving Africa’s problems said policy mistakes by both technocrats and polictical leaders have led to various problems in Africa.

“That if you educate your people, everything will be okay? This was part of mistakes in 1960. This fragmented thinking, fragmented vision is incorrect. If you educate people but you don’t have infrastructure including electricity, where will they work? How will they work”? the president said.

The president used the example of the Phillipines which he said has its citizens working all over the world because they don’t have jobs in their own country while South Korea has its citizens working home.

 “We in Uganda have identified 10 strategic bottlenecks and our view is that they all must be handled together. These include ideology, state formation, infrastructure development, market integration –

If I produce but do not have enough buyers, how will I benefit?”

Museveni said while Africa is at a structural disadvantage in that great ideas do not apply to the whole of Africa, the Tana Forum can still spread the ideas throu ‘osmosis’. He said it takes good ideas to spread on the continent to consolidate its gains and urged all Africans to come together and achieve this.

“Africa has a structural disadvantage. We are not like China. In China when there is one good thinker…the whole china follows them. Here, you may have good ideas in Ethiopia but they are localized and do not apply to the whole of Africa. This forum can help ideas spread by osmosis,” he said.

He urged all Africans to come together and achieve this.

 Who owns the resources?

Museveni also urged the forum to focus on who owns the natural resources on the continent.

“On issue of mineral resources, my question is who owns the minerals. With petroleum we have production sharing agreements (PSA) where the company which has exploration licences agrees with government to pay so much to regain what they invested and the rest is for government,” he said, adding that, it is not clear what the case is with other minerals including where companies own minerals but governments have loyalties.

“In Uganda, am not bothered with minerals because Uganda has been developing at a good rate depending on agriculture and industry. We discovered petroleum about 12 years ago but up to now we have not exploited it because I could not agree with those companies. They wanted to cheat us. I said no, the petroleum has been in the ground for the last many years it can stay there until we agree. That is because in my view, minerals should belong to the country,” he said.

Mineral rich Uganda

Museveni also emphasized locally based value addition for countries to fully exploit their natural resources for the benefit of their people.

“We have got huge reserves of iron ore in Uganda. Indians came and said they want to export soil to India and process it there. If they take as soil, they would pay $38 per tone. Our iron ore is 70% pure, one of the best in the world, only second to Peru. When steel prices are high instead of $38 per tone, you get$900. I said nobody will take an ounce of iron ore from Uganda until we agree.. up to now its still in the ground,” he said.

He revealed that the government agreed with the Chinese to process locally the lover version magnetite which they are using to produce steel.

On petroleum, Museveni said various companies tried to convince Uganda to export its petroleum from abroad and where discouraging the country from building an oil refinery saying it was not economically productive.

“I was told Uganda does not need a refinery because it was not productive and not economic that means those with refineries are Mother Theresas’ working for nothing. I went to Iran and asked how many refineries they have and they said they got 9 and building another 6. I said no refinery no oil. It is still in the ground until we agree,” he said.

What is TANA?

The Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa is an annual meeting that brings together African leaders and stakeholders to engage and explore African-led security solutions. Currently in its 6th edition the Forum is at the forefront of initiating dialogue with the continent’s policymakers and influencers.

The Forum complements formal meetings of African heads of state and government by assembling them in an informal, collaborative environment. In the spirit of gatherings taking place under the Baobab tree, the Forum offers room and space for panel discussions, interaction with the floor and bilateral talks to share views and experiences in a time efficient, results-oriented and open manner.

“Frank, relevant and candid dialogue is fundamental to resolving conflict and transforming societies,” explains TANA organisers.

The Tana Forum promotes African-led solutions by holding discussions on the strategic and pro-active management of African peace and security issues driven by the interest to contribute to stronger ownership of these issues.

*Allafrica/The Independent

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ZAMBIAN ACTRESS WINS CANNES FILM FESTIVAL AWARD
April 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
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World Bank Group Launches New Program to Support Africa’s Top Digital Entrepreneurs
April 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

With support from prominent African investment groups, XL Africa will help the 20 selected start-ups attract early stage capital between $250,000 and $1.5 million

WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, April 20, 2017/ — The World Bank Group (www.WorldBank.org) launched XL Africa (www.XL-Africa.com), a five-month business acceleration program designed to support the 20 most promising digital start-ups from Sub-Saharan Africa. Start-ups will receive mentoring from global and local experts, learn through a tailor-made curriculum, increase their regional visibility, and get access to potential corporate partners and investors. With support from prominent African investment groups, XL Africa will help the 20 selected start-ups attract early stage capital between $250,000 and $1.5 million.

“Digital start-ups are important drivers of innovation in Africa,” says Makhtar Diop, Vice President for the Africa Region at the World Bank. “To scale and spread new technologies and services beyond borders, they need an integrated ecosystem that provides access to regional markets and global finance; pan-African initiatives like XL Africa play a critical role by linking local start-ups with corporations and investors across the continent.”

The program comes at a time of increasing interest in the African digital sector. According to a recent report by Disrupt Africa, in 2016, the number of tech start-ups that secured funding increased by 16.8% compared to 2015.

“XL Africa aims to put a spotlight on the continent’s growing digital economy by scouting for and supporting the most innovative tech start-ups,” said Klaus Tilmes, Director of the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice at the World Bank Group. “The success of these ventures will create a demonstration effect that can attract much-needed growth investment in the sector and catalyze scaling of transnational businesses in the region.”

The program’s flagship activity includes a two-week residency in Cape Town, South Africa, where the ventures will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from their mentors, peers, and local partners. The Cape Town residency will conclude with the Venture Showcase, a regional event in which the entrepreneurs will present their business models to a select audience of corporations and investors.

“The program’s unique combination of targeted mentorship and access to investors represents a vital resource for digital ventures ready to grow,” said Lexi Novitske, Principal Investment Officer for Singularity Investments, a venture group based in Lagos, Nigeria. “By connecting innovative business ideas with the knowledge and resources available in the ecosystem, XL Africa will create a pipeline of investment-ready companies, unlocking better investment opportunities for regional and global investors.”

The program will collaborate with prominent African investment groups, including the African Business Angel Network (ABAN), AngelHub Ventures,Goodwell Investments, Knife Capital, Nest Africa, Silvertree Capital, Singularity Investments, South African Business Angel Network (SABAN), TLcom Capital, Zephyr Acorn and 4Di Capital, and corporate partners, such as Orange, .Eco, Ringier, and Thomson Reuters.

Interested companies can apply online on the XL Africa website www.XL-Africa.com by Monday, June 12, 2017.

XL Africa is funded by the governments of Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and administered by the World Bank Group with implementation support from IMC Worldwide, VC4A, and Koltai & Co.

*World Bank

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AAI Takes Third State of Education Conference To Kenya
April 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

AAI CEO Kofi Appenteng

AAI CEO Kofi Appenteng

In furtherance of one of its core missions of building the capacity of Africans through education and training, The Africa-America Institute is hosting the Third State of Education Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Taking place from May 3-4, the Conference is expected to bring together educators and innovators from around the world to help advance the progress of primary, secondary, tertiary, technical, vocational and post-graduate higher education in Africa.

With a galloping youth population, the AAI seeks through the Conference to elevate and mainstream the conversation on education as a key component of the economic development narrative of Africa. According to information from the AAI website, The State of Education In Africa Conference aims to have a solution-driven conversation with policy-makers, educators, administrators, philanthropists and those interested in capacity building about the challenges and opportunities in education on the African continent

Education is crucial in helping Africa decide its future says Ghanaian-born Kofi Appenteng, who has served as President and CEO of the AAI for the last six months. Interviewed in Washington, DC, recently on his return from a trip to Kenya, Mr. Appenteng said with the rapidly growing youth population, it was important to take regular stock of new approaches to education and training.

Started by his predecessor Aminu Kajunju with the Ford Foundation as leading partner, the conferences have helped to foster greater collaboration between African countries and global partners. Considering the challenging context that African countries find themselves, there are still a number of good stories, said Kofi Appenteng in describing the current state of education of in Africa. While resources may be an issue, Mr. Appenteng sees in the strength and genius of the African youth a reason to be optimistic about the future.

Education is crucial in helping Africa decide its future says Kofi Appenteng

Education is crucial in helping Africa decide its future says Kofi Appenteng

In existence for the last 63 years, makingAAI Alumni are found in virtually every part of Africa, including two sitting Presidents in Hage Geingob of Namibia and Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast. The AAI stays in close touch with its Alumni and is proud of their efforts to make an impact on their communities, said Kofi Appenteng.

On the future of U S-African ties under the Trump Administration, Mr Appenteng said it was too early say. There is no expectation that it is any one government policy that will change the fortunes of Africa, he said, citing fresh perspectives from other private sector actors, and NGO’s in creating new opportunities for Africa.

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Singapore Company Invests in Namibia’s Kudu Gas Project
April 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire
BW Kudu Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of BW Offshore Singapore
Pvt Ltd has entered into investment agreement with the National
Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR) which is expected to see the
Namibian company boosting power generation capacity for the country.
According to Immanuel Mulunga, NAMCOR Managing Director, the company
has agreed to accept an investment offer from BW Kudu Limited for a
56% working interest in the offshore 885 megawatt kudu gas field.

It is reported that BW Offshore, a joint Norwegian/Singaporean owned
company is one of the world’s leading suppliers and operators of
offshore floating production systems with extensive experience in the
development of offshore fields.
NAMCOR has also agreed to transfer the role of field operator to BW
Kudu, but will work closely together with BW Kudu within a joint
development team as the field is prepared for the final investment
decision and the subsequent field development.This will include the
drilling of production wells, the construction of sub-sea and gas
transmission pipelines and the installation of a floating production
system.

It is also further reported that the Kudu Gas to Power project is a
key strategic power generation project for Namibia, which is expected
to witness decreased reliance on imported power and accelerate
economic development.It involves the development of the offshore Kudu
gas field to deliver gas through a 170km long pipeline to a power
station to be built at Uubvlei, some 25 kilometres northeast of
Oranjemund. The station will be connected to the Namibian and South
African electricity grids by new transmission lines.

BW Offshore CEO Carl Arnet said that Kudu represents another
opportunity for BW Kudu to take a proactive development role in a
project that will produce for 15 to 25 years.He said that the
electricity generated by the power station will reshape electricity
supply in south-western Africa, providing a secure long term supply to
support the development of Namibia and potentially neigbouring countries.

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Trump Doubles Down On Ex-Military Talent For The White House’s Top Africa Job
April 13, 2017 | 0 Comments

Retired Lt. Col. Rudolph Atallah will be senior director for Africa on the White House National Security Council, a White House official tells BuzzFeed News.

By John Hudson*

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has offered a retired lieutenant colonel with decades of experience in special forces and counterterrorism the position of White House senior director for Africa, a White House official told BuzzFeed News.

The selection of Rudolph Atallah, a respected fellow at the Atlantic Council who served for more than 20 years in the US Air Force, adds another veteran to a National Security Council (NSC) stacked with former military officials.

The pick also fills a major void on the NSC where Africa policy has largely remained a mystery given President Donald Trump’s scant remarks about the continent and the aborted selection of the previous senior director for Africa candidate after the CIA denied his top security clearance.

For Africa, particularly, the abundance of officials with military backgrounds on the NSC has raised concerns about an over-emphasis on counterterrorism rather than other issues that affect the continent, such as development assistance and human rights.

The first signal of a potential change in US priorities came in January when Trump transition officials submitted a four-page list of Africa-related questions to career US officials that suggested a lack of interest in humanitarian and development goals.

Then came the administration’s budget blueprint, released in March, that cut the budget for the State Department and US Agency for International Development by nearly 30% and eliminated some executive agencies such as the US African Development Foundation, which supports development projects in 30 African countries. If enacted, the changes would have a disproportionate effect on Africa given its status as the biggest recipient of US foreign aid than any other continent.

But Africa analysts familiar with Atallah’s work said his depth of experience wasn’t likely to limit his outlook on the range of challenges facing African countries.

“Though he is best known for his work on East Africa and counterterrorism issues, he has broad experience that cuts across regions and policy areas,” Matthew Page, a consultant and former State Department Africa analyst, told BuzzFeed News.

Others said that Atallah’s background fits the expanded responsibilities of the position. Unlike under the Obama administration, Trump’s senior director for Africa will be responsible for Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Libya, countries previously under the Middle East portfolio. Not only will his background in counterterrorism operations prove valuable for North Africa, his supporters said, but so too will his fluency in Arabic.

“True, Atallah has a military background, but his knowledge of troubled parts of Africa will add value,” said Rida Lyammouri, a Sahel analyst and researcher.

As a Christian born in Beirut, Lebanon, Atallah comes to the NSC with a unique background and a skepticism of radical Islam, said an Africa analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he worked with Atallah in previous jobs. But his ex-colleague noted that Atallah has traveled extensively in Africa and worked cordially with people of many faiths, including Muslims. “We’re not talking Sebastian Gorka territory,” he said, referring to a current White House official with a long history of aggressive and disparaging comments about Islam.

While serving in the Air Force, he gained experience in aviation, intelligence, special operations and counterterrorism. In his last posting in the military, from 2003 to 2009, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Africa Counterterrorism Director. In the dual-hatted role, he also served as East Africa Director between 2003 and 2009.

Attallah is also an amateur photographer who boasts an impressive body of work from his travels.

For skeptics, the pick is an affirmation of the Trump administration’s preference toward a security-based approach to Africa that might not address problems holistically. “I look at this as the continuation of the administration’s counterterrorism focus more than anything else,” said his former colleague. “If the focus is only counterterrorism in Africa that means we’re missing really important issues of governance, and we’re not really paying attention to the problems that have allowed terrorist groups to blossom.”

Critics of this approach worry that the US might turn a blind eye to African governments with troubling human rights records, such as Niger and Kenya, as long as they remain reliable counterterrorism partners.

But Atallah’s defenders said his breadth of experiences gives him a far broader aperture than his critics acknowledge. “Rudy won’t approach his new job with a partisan political or deconstructionist agenda,” said Page, “but most likely will seek to reboot US Africa policy and forge consensus between the White House and a likely wary and suspicious set of decision makers spread across multiple other agencies.”

*Buzzfeed.John Hudson is a Foreign Affairs Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.

Contact John Hudson at john.hudson@buzzfeed.com.

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Africa: Kenya’s Internet Speed Ranked Fastest in Africa
April 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Kenya’s internet is faster, and cheaper as compared to many countries around the world a report by Akamai, a leading Content Delivery Network revealed. Out of the 108 countries sampled globally, Kenya ranked number 23, and the country is the top ranked African country, with the fastest internet connectivity speed. The fast and reliable internet in Kenya has significantly influenced the improvement of e-commerce, generating enormous social, and economic benefits for the country.

Kenya’s internet speed and connectivity is faster, and cheaper as compared to many countries around the world a report by Akamai, a leading Content Delivery Network (CDN) has revealed.

Out of the 108 countries that were sampled globally, Kenya ranked number 23, and the country is the top ranked African country, with the fastest internet connectivity speed. South Korea has the highest average connection speed globally at 26.1 megabytes per second (Mbps).

Akamai aims to make the internet fast, reliable, and secure for its customers.

In most African countries internet is expensive, and speeds are generally slow. In Kenya several internet providers such as Safaricom, Airtel and Orange have upgraded their speeds to the benefit of their customers, and such upgrades have had a positive impact on the economy.

The reliable internet in Kenya has significantly influenced the improvement of electronic-commerce. Many Kenyans are now able to bank and transact online, download music and videos while the uptake of e-learning resources and usage of social media platforms has also greatly improved over the past few years.

According to the report, Kenya overtook third-quarter leader Israel to gain the top spot for average connection speeds among the surveyed Middle East and Africa countries in the fourth quarter. The country has had a tremendous growth in high-speed connectivity in the past years.

The report further said, Kenya has an impressive average of 15mbps followed by Israel at 14.4mbps, South Africa recorded 6.6 mbps, Morocco 5.2 mbps, and Nigeria 4.1 mbps.

Kenya’s National broadband strategy

The improvement to Kenya’s connection speeds and broadband adoption rates is attributed to the successful implementation of the National Broadband Strategy (NBS). The vision of this broadband strategy has been to see the transformation of the country to a knowledge-based society driven by a high capacity nationwide broadband network.

The overall objective of this strategy is to provide quality broadband services to all citizens.

“The strategy has enabled the government to roll out the National Optic Fibre Broadband Infrastructure that has linked all the counties to the Internet by fibre cable. Fibre cable ground installation and provision of 4G network coverage has contributed to the high speeds and efficiency in connectivity,” Joseph Mucheru, the Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information said.

 Access to fast and reliable internet has the potential to generate enormous social economic benefits for the country. The benefits include economic growth, job creation, growth of investment opportunities, access to online government services, improved education and training services, improved national safety and security services among others.

Top ranked countries with high speed internet connectivity:

South Korea: 26.1Mbps

Norway: 23.6Mbps

Sweden: 22.817.3Mbps

Hong Kong: 21.9Mbps

Switzerland: 21.23Mbps

Denmark: 20.7Mbps

Finland 20.6Mbps

Singapore: 20.2Mbps

Japan: 19.6Mbps

Netherlands: 17.6Mbps

*AllAfrica/This is Africa

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Former U.S. president Bush touts signature Africa AIDS program in Botswana
April 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ed Stoddard *

Former US President George W. Bush greets children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017.  REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Former US President George W. Bush greets children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Former U.S. President George W. Bush touted his signature aid project for Africa during a visit to Botswana on Tuesday, saying he hoped Washington would recognize its importance in saving lives threatened by AIDS.

Launched in 2003 during the first Bush administration, PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, is the world’s largest provider of AIDS-fighting medicine and has branched out over the years to include provision of services for cervical cancer, which is linked to HIV infections in women.

U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed steep cuts in the budget for diplomacy and foreign aid but his administration has so far said it will “maintain current commitments and all current patient levels on HIV/AIDS treatment” under PEPFAR.

Bush, visiting a clinic with his wife Laura that provides screening and treatment for cervical cancer, said he hoped such commitments would remain.

Former US President George W. Bush greets children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017.  REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Former US President George W. Bush greets children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

“I hope our government when they analyze what works around the world will understand that PEPFAR has saved over 11 million lives,” he said.

 “And while progress has been made we’ve got to continue to stay in this battle in order to save lives. Every human life matters. And I hope the people of America understand that through their generosity millions now live.”

Bush said cervical cancer was now the leading cause of death among women in Botswana, a sparsely-populated southern African nation where one in five adults is infected with HIV, according to the United Nations.

Former US President George W. Bush poses for a photograph with children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017.  REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Former US President George W. Bush poses for a photograph with children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Bush, a Republican, had historically low popularity ratings – about 33 percent – when he left office.

But the Obama ministration maintained PEPFAR and the program enjoys bipartisan support – a rarity in Washington’s polarized atmosphere.

Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, an initiative of the George W. Bush Institute, works with PEPFAR on programs to reduce mortality rates among women from cervical and breast cancer in developing countries.

*Reuters

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