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Women Entrepreneurs in Africa: Overcoming challenges to boost the continent’s development and economic growth
October 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

By *

One of the things that African market places in sub-Saharan Africa have in common is the active presence of women, sailing food, vegetables, clothes and many other consumers’ products. Women are very visible in most capitals, playing a vital role in the socio-economic fabric of the country. Unfortunately, their economic activities are often limited to the informal or domestic areas. Their potential is yet to be unleashed.

According to McKinsey institute in August 2016, in the private sector in Africa, only 5% of women are CEO’s, 29% are senior managers, and 44% have senior positions. Women do not only represent more than 50 percent of Africa’s population but various reports have shown that women spent their revenue in their household, therefore their economic empowerment will unequivocally bolster economies and have a positive impact on health, education and the wellbeing of the communities and the society as a whole. Such gender inequality has a negative economic impact on economies, with an estimated annual lost of revenue of $95 billion lost annually in Africa.

You cannot ignore over 50% of the population of a continent and still hope to harness and exploit its full potential. This is the shift that all decision makers need to make for the betterment of all.

Empowering women goes beyond feminism, or gender inequality. It is an economic imperative.

Although the importance of the role of women is recognized, we still have a lot of cultural and legal barriers that are preventing women entrepreneurs to turn into global businesswomen.

African women entrepreneurship paradox

Women entrepreneurship activities have intensified in recent years. Their global business activities have grown by 10 percent, reducing the gender gap by 5 percent since 2014. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where women make up the majority of self-employed individuals.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reported that Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs in the world, defying the odds but only few of these women-owned businesses reach national and/or global stage. They also have the highest failure rate of 8,4 percent.

Why?

There are several key constraints that hold back African women entrepreneurs such as education, cultural mindset, legal barriers, and lack of access to markets, capital, and networks.

In the banking sector for example, statistics show that close to 1 billion women have no access to financial services. Only 20 percent of women in Africa have access to financial services, more than 50 percent of them have it through their husband and only 1 percent has access to capital in the formal sector.

In the agriculture sector, women represent more than 70 percent of the workforce. They are very active in the entire value chain but yet also lack access to credit and have no land ownership, therefore no capacity to become competitive at the national and export level. Agriculture development is a prerequisite for Africa wants to boost economic growth and reach food sufficiency. For that, mechanisms need to be put in place to transform those women from being subsistence farmers into agribusiness leaders. If women were given the necessary tools, they could succeed like any man or any westerners. Living examples are successful agro-preneurs like Sirebara Fatoumata Diallo in Mali championing “Above ground cultivation”, Korka Diaw producing rice in Senegal and Mosunmola Umoru with Pretty farmers in Nigeria.

It is imperative that we overturn these traditional mind-sets and customs and promote inclusivity in business and in this particular industry, the agriculture sector, by tapping into the immense untapped resources offered by women.

There are several key constraints that hold back African women entrepreneurs such as education, cultural mindset, legal barriers, and lack of access to markets, capital, and networks.

We need to turn women from being job seekers into job creators, becoming entrepreneurs and businesswomen

How do we do that? The complexity of the challenges requires investment from all sectors of society and commitment from all stakeholders.

– The public sector should implement specific policies and create the enabling environment for women to prosper and become competitive. Setting up government agencies in charge of women affairs does not suffice. It needs to be accompanied by an intra-government approach integrating gender parity into all programs from various sectors. Furthermore, greater incentives should be given to encourage women participation into the procurement processes such as giving preference to women-owned businesses.

– We need to depart from postcolonial models of economic production and promote a “made in Africa” market. This will allow African industries to succeed by producing, through their own specific patterns, what they consume and consume what they produce. This approach will make women businesses profitable, especially in the agricultural sector where they are most active.

– Creating the ecosystem for women to create value-added products. Women should be able to turn raw materials into value-added products that can be sold in local and international markets, thereby increasing their income and economic power.

– Capacity building and training are two key tools for helping women understand and produce products for the wider market. Giving them access to information, sharing best practices, providing affordable business development services and improving their financial literacy will also help them access financial services and grow their business ventures.

Above all this, more importantly, women are master of their own destiny. Creating mentoring and networking platforms to share experiences, skills and best practices to support each other will go a long way. “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talents in the world” said Hillary R. Clinton. It is time to put all our hands to the task, take action and use all our human assets to make Africa’s economic transformation a reality.

*Source Medays.Angelle B. Kwemo is a lawyer by training, author of “Against All Odds”, Africa Director of Washington Media Group and advocate. She is the founder of Believe in Africa, a US based non-profit organization aiming at promoting Africa’ economic prosperity, women and youth empowerment.

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“Internet Refugee Camp” and other takeaways from FIFAfrica17
October 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Sodiq Alabi

The 2017 Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa held in Johannesburg between September 27 and 29. According to the organisers, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and the Association for Progressive Communication (APC), FIFAfrica is an annual assembly of discussions towards promoting a Free and Open Internet in Africa. I attended the forum as a representative of Paradigm Initiative and I share some important insights I learnt during the 3-day Forum.

  • How Internet Refugee Camps helped Cameroonians during shutdown: Have you ever wondered how people managed to survive the 93-day internet shutdown in parts of Cameroon? The keynote speaker at the Forum, Rebecca Enonchong told the gathering about the resilience and innovation of the people of Cameroon who were denied internet services for more than three months. Internet refugee camps were created in areas where there were internet services. People would travel a great deal of distance to make use of internet in those centres. Sometimes they would give their phones to others travelling to those places so their pending messages and emails could be received. As Ms Enonchong, a tech entrepreneur shared this experience, I began to appreciate more the centrality of internet services to our lives.  It is important that no government should have the right to turn it off just to deny citizens their freedom of speech.
  • Africa as a country: Over the course of several panels with stakeholders from different countries in Africa, I noticed several similarities in many of the stories the panellists and audience shared. These similarities were so strong that it was possible to mistake a discussion on terrible tech policies in Zimbabwe for one on Tanzania. The only major differences are the actors and the countries concerned, but other details of an attempt to stifle dissent, to regulate (read: emasculate) civil society, the use of national security as a defence for internet shut down or regulation, all these details stand. When it comes to the internet, Africa may as well be a country where all the provinces compare notes on how to deny their citizens and residents inalienable rights. Just look at the number of African countries that have used their recently passed Cybercrime laws to persecute dissenters. Look at the number of African countries that have embarked on comprehensive and multiple data capturing of their peoples without a decent data privacy law and framework.  Look at the number of African countries that have passed or are about to pass an NGO regulatory bill, something Kenya has shown to be quite effective in muzzling the voice of an NGO the government does not like.
  • Platform and collaboration remain paramount: For digital rights advocates to be able to put up a decent fight against governments bent on discarding digital rights, there is a need to create, sustain and expand platforms for sharing of ideas and incubating collaborative efforts. Platforms like FIFAfrica and Paradigm Initiative’s Internet Freedom Forum must be sustained and expanded to ensure sufficient coverage of all countries in Africa. In addition, Francophone Africa deserves more attention than they are currently getting and there is a need to nurture platforms in those countries that are currently under-covered. Closely related to that is the issue of collaboration between organisations with interest in digital rights and inclusion. The impact of collaboration could be seen in the way organisations came together to protest against internet shutdown in Cameroon and Togo. Collaboration also extends to sharing of information, ideas and leveraging others’ resources and expertise instead of reinventing the wheel. This is already happening to an extent, but it is important to improve the system and platforms that enable collaboration. As Delta Ndou, a Zimbabwean journalist and digital activist said at the Forum, advocates must also learn to amplify their messages using traditional media, which remains largely the media of the elite and political leaders. That we are working on internet freedom does not mean the advocacy should be limited to online platform. While the coverage of the Forum online was excellent with the hashtag trending throughout the duration of the Forum, the coverage in the traditional media of South Africa was far from perfect. This is heartbreaking because many important issues explored at the Forum would have benefited from media coverage. We must do more to collaborate with print and broadcast media to amplify our messages. This is important because oppressive internet policies affect human rights online and offline. Operators of traditional media should also be more receptive to collaboration on digital rights issues as a gag on online media will affect traditional media eventually.
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New African literature is disrupting what Western presses prize
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

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Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie after a reading of her book ‘Americanah’ in Lagos in 2013. Akintunde Akinleye /Reuters

Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie after a reading of her book ‘Americanah’ in Lagos in 2013. Akintunde Akinleye /Reuters

African literature is the object of immense international interest across both academic and popular registers. Far from the field’s earlier, post-colonial association with marginality, a handful of star “Afropolitan” names are at the forefront of global trade publishing.

Books like Chimamanda Adichie’s “Americanah” and “Half of a Yellow Sun”, Teju Cole’s “Open City”, Taiye Selasi’s “Ghana Must Go” and Yaa Gyasi’s “Homegoing” have confounded neat divisions between Western and African literary traditions. The Cameroonian novelist Imbolo Mbue captured a million-dollar contract for her first book, “Behold the Dreamers”. That’s even before it joined the Oprah’s Book Club pantheon this year.

Such commercial prominence, though, has attracted considerable and unsurprising push back from Western and Africa-based critics alike. Far from advancing narratives with deep roots in local African realities, such critics fear, many of Africa’s most “successful” writers hawk a superficial, overly diasporic, or even Western-focused vision of the continent.

Noviolet Bulawayo was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2013 for her book Olivia Harris/Reuters

Noviolet Bulawayo was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2013 for her book Olivia Harris/Reuters

The most visible of these critiques has been directed at the Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo’s “We Need New Names” (2013). The Nigerian novelist Helon Habila worried in a review in the London Guardian that it was “poverty-porn”. The popular Nigerian critic Ikhide Ikheloa (“Pa Ikhide”) frequently makes a similar point. Fellow Nigerian writer Adaobi Nwaubani critiqued the West’s hold on Africa’s book industry in a much-circulated New York Times piece called “African Books for Western Eyes”.

Such debates about African writing could, and likely will, go on forever. Questions about Africa’s place in the current global literary marketplace broaden some of the most urgent queries of the postcolonial era. Who gets to document African realities? Who are the “gatekeepers” of African publishing traditions?

It goes on: To what sort of audience does African writing cater? What is the role – and what should it be, if any – of Western institutions in brokering cultural prestige?

All these issues merit concern.

Between the default poles

Too often, though, African writing ends up volleyed between two default poles of “corporate global” and “activist local”. Some onlookers, as in a recent essay by the Canadian scholar Sarah Brouillette, go as far as to name the biases of even Africa-based print outlets. Kenya’s Kwani Trust is exposed as “Western-facing” due to a web of donor relations. “West” here is code for neoliberal. “Western-facing” is for complicity with a market that skews toward British and American interests.

Faced with a “world system” argument like Brouillette’s, African literature would seem trapped between a rock and a hard place.

But, in fact, this tells only a small part of the story of how African writing now makes its way through the world. It is incomplete to the point of being outdated, given the boom over the past five years in new, globally conscious small US literary presses collaborating with African writers.

A “West subsuming Africa” brand of critique works fine for scholars with no real skin in the game of literary publishing. It also denies real agency to a lot of African writers and other literary professionals. On the ground the literary field is far more forward-thinking and diverse.

There is an entire new body of African writing that escapes this closed circuit of damning truisms. A wave of new or recently galvanised independent literary presses in the US and the UK are working in tandem with some of Africa’s most generative outlets. Together they are publishing and promoting work by young and adventurous African writers.

Labours of love

Books published originally by presses like Umuzi (South Africa), amaBooks (Zimbabwe) and Kwani (Kenya) find second lives with international publishers working to defy the constraints of profitability. They’re mostly labours of love with skeleton staffs that speak to a transcontinental commitment to innovative African writing.

Here are a few key examples of African texts published by independent American outlets – “independent” here refers to presses beyond the “Big Five” US trade publishers (Hachette Book GroupHarperCollinsMacmillanPenguin Random House and Simon and Schuster.

These include Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s Ugandan epic “Kintu”which was originally launched by Kwani. It was the first Anglophone novel put out by the brand-new Transit Books based in Oakland, California. The press seeks maximum visibility for translated fiction alongside texts originally written in English. They advocate for more ethical legal and financial dealings with translators, as well as international writers.

A number of similarly tiny, ambitious ventures have published some of the most acclaimed recent African writing in translation. Deep Vellum Publishing was behind the English translation of Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s Etisalat Prize-winning “Tram 83”.

Also dedicated exclusively to works in translation, LA-based Phoneme Media in 2016 published the first ever Burundian novel in English, Roland Rugero’s deeply contemplative “Baho!”. Phoneme’s tagline, fittingly, is “curious books for curious people”.

In a similar vein, Brooklyn’s Restless Books was founded to combat “parochial, inward-looking, and homogenised trends in American publishing”. Among their forthcoming titles, translated from the French is Naivo’s “Beyond the Rice Fields”. It’s the first novel from Madagascar to see its way to English.

Veteran nonprofit press Archipelago Books is also in Brooklyn. In 2015, it published the translation from the Portuguese of Angolan writer Jose Eduardo Agualusa’s “A General Theory of Oblivion”.

Every one of these throws a wrench in a clear, cynical sense of what kind of novel Western presses prize. That is not to mention the many African writers, publishers, and editors working in concert to promote these same texts.

Small, focused channels

It applies to the Anglosphere too. Books that offer a decidedly more locally textured experience than those of the “Afropolitan” rock stars have made their way abroad through small, focused channels.

These works might include Tendai Huchu’s “The Maestro, the Magistrate, and the Mathematician” (published originally by amaBooks, and in the US by Ohio University Press); Imraan Coovadia’s “Tales of the Metric System” (from Umuzi, and again by Ohio University Press); and Masande Ntshanga’s “The Reactive” (also Umuzi; in the US by family-run Two Dollar Radio.

Clearly, this collection just scratches the surface. But what these works have in common is an investment in stylistic and structural experimentation that confounds rather than caters to an international taste for “digestible” fiction, or to mostly Western points of cultural and institutional reference.

This counter-current of transnational African literary life complicates the equation of culture, geopolitics and economics in more useful ways than stale materialist critiques.

As such titles and presses continue to gain acclaim and recognition by an international readership that is aware of and hostile to shallow representations of Africa – and who crave engagement with challenging fiction, regardless of its origin – critics will need to rethink some of their orthodoxies.

There is more to both African literature and Western publishing than meets an eye too practised in its suspicion. If literature is doomed only to echo the failings of globalisation, then why bother? On the contrary, a new generation of writers and publishers deserve our awareness of the “global literary marketplace” as a meaningfully multidimensional space.

*Culled from The Conversation. is Assistant Professor of World Anglophone Literature, Johns Hopkins University

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African Innovation Foundation – Call for Applications: Innovation Prize for Africa 2018 Awards
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

“Investing In Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems”

A pan-African open call inviting submissions for the seventh edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) awards from 10 October 2017 to 10 January 2018 

 Grand share prize of US$ 185 000 to be awarded to top ten African innovators who demonstratescalable, impactful, market-oriented, and outstanding innovations solving African challenges

 African women innovators especially encouraged to participate, following a record number of entries in the previous edition.

Accra, Ghana | Tuesday, 10 October 2017: The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) today announced the seventh edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) themed “investing in inclusive innovation ecosystems” thereby inviting submissions to reward the best home-grown innovations on the continent. The annual Award seeks to celebrate outstanding breakthroughs that deliver practical, and commercially viable African solutions that are innovative and sustainable.

Affirming AIF’s purpose to catalyse the innovation spirit in Africa, Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, the IPA Director commented, “We are pleased to launch IPA 2018 and are confident that this edition will prove bigger and better in terms of participation and quality of submissions. With each edition, IPA has gone from strength to strength attracting innovators across disciplines and with outstanding solutions to African challenges. For this seventh edition, we also look forward to expanding our ever-growing network of innovators, enablers and partners in order to join hands and build stronger, more sustainable innovation ecosystems that will propel the continent forward.”

 IPA Awards timeline and eligibility

The call for entries will run for three months starting from 10 October 2017 with a submission deadline of 10 January 2018 at 23:59pm GMT. IPA’s goal is to strengthen African innovation ecosystems by supporting a culture of innovation and competitiveness, whilst spurring growth of innovative, market-driven African solutions to African challenges. Specifically, IPA honours and encourages pioneering achievements that contribute towards developing new products, increasing efficiency and/or saving cost in Africa. Applications will be accepted from all Africans including those living in the diaspora.

This edition encourages greater participation from women innovators who are increasingly playing a key role in driving African economies forward through business and entrepreneurship.

The submissions will be judged on the backdrop of IPA’s themes supporting social and economic innovation in the following five categories: manufacturing and service industry; health and well-being; agriculture and agri-business; environment, energy and water; and ICT showcasing ground-breaking innovations.

IPA 2018 winners will be announced at an annual ceremony in July 2018 (exact dates and country to be confirmed). The Award is the leading innovation event on the African calendar, bringing together some of Africa’s most inspiring innovators and entrepreneurs, leaders of hubs and accelerators, angel and venture capital investors, development institutions, government leaders, media practitioners and  other game changers.

Creating an enabling environment for local innovators

This year’s theme ‘Investing in Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems’ calls for African governments and innovation stakeholders to invest in building bridges for more inclusive ecosystems that will accelerate and scale African innovation at all levels of society. The aim is to increase access to innovative financing and know-how and to enhance collaboration between African nations to enable local innovators to access higher value markets for their solutions at a faster rate.

“IPA is a platform to showcase the inherent ingenuity that exists in Africa,” said Walter Fust, Chairman of the AIF Board. “Each year, several hundred participants submit their entries with new solutions to overcome African-specific challenges. This year we want to drive greater pan-African synergies across our network of enablers and partners to create inclusive opportunities for local innovators and together disrupt business models, empower people and drive positive social impact across the continent.”

Register NOW for IPA 2018

Last year saw over 2 500 applications from across the continent, with the highest number of women applicants (482 representing 19%). This year promises to be even bigger. To date, IPA has attracted more than 7 500 innovators spanning 52 countries featuring 55 of the continent’s top innovators and 400+ innovation enablers making it a truly a pan-African initiative.  Previously AIF has supported past winners and nominees with over US$ 1 million to move their innovations forward. Due to the exposure received via IPA, past winners have gone on to secure over US$ 30 million in investments to grow and scale their businesses.

In addition to the lucrative share prize of US$ 185 000 cash, selected innovators are offered many opportunities including access to the AIF networks via its platform, ZuaHub, where AIF connects innovators with resources and help them grow.

AIF has contributed to building African innovation ecosystems and has witnessed increased opportunities for African innovators in comparison to 2011 when IPA was launched.

The selection process will be led by an expert panel based on their knowledge and experience within the aforementioned IPA five key sectors as well as their influence and contributions to the tech and business industry on the African continent.

For more details, please check out www.innovationprizeforafrica.org and apply for IPA 2018 NOW by clicking on https://ipa.africaninnovation.org.

 Get involved and sponsor IPA 2018

In the last six years, the IPA has recognized numerous Africans for their innovative solutions aimed at improving the lives of people across the continent. The IPA Awards celebrate African ingenuity by showcasing and rewarding the very best African innovators solving African challenges and creating new opportunities which lead to inclusive growth across the continent.

For this edition, the IPA will bring together select stakeholders comprising of innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, leaders of innovation hubs and technology parks, policy makers as well cutting-edge African training institutions. It is an opportunity for companies to forge important partnerships, synergies and collaborations with innovation enablers from across the continent to strengthen Africa’s investment climate through innovation.

Organizations can register their interest in supporting African innovation by contacting AIF for more details on the IPA sponsorship opportunities available.

 

 

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African Innovation Foundation (AIF) works to increase the prosperity of Africans by catalyzing the innovation spirit in Africa.

 

Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) is a landmark initiative of the AIF. Its goal is to strengthen African innovation ecosystems through supporting a culture of innovation and competitiveness, whilst spurring growth of innovative, market-driven African solutions to African challenges.

 

Previous IPA editions were held in Ghana (2017), Botswana (2016), Morocco (2015), Nigeria (2014), South Africa (2013) and Ethiopia (2012). IPA was endorsed at its inaugural edition in Addis Ababa in 2012 where African ministers at the joint Africa Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) passed a resolution to support AIF to promote innovation-based societies across the continent.

 

Besides a host of exciting side events and brand new initiatives for Africa by Africans, IPA 2018 will offer the following prizes and incentives to winners and nominees:

√ Grand prize of US$100 000

√ Second Prize of US$25 000

√ Special Prize for Social Impact US$25 000

√ A voucher for each of the seven IPA nominees of US$5 000

√ Additional incentives include investment opportunities, training and access to a vibrant network of innovation enablers, ongoing PR support and media coverage, and invitation to join ZuaHub.

 

 

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Nigeria, Major World Economies Consolidate Progress on Trade and Investment Facilitation
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
Dr. Okechukwu E. Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Nigeria

Dr. Okechukwu E. Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Nigeria

Nigeria, Brazil, China, the European Union (EU) and a host of other leading economic powers today, made tremendous progress on Investment Facilitation Initiative for Development, in Marakech, Morocco, during the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Mini-Ministerial meeting

In a breakthrough for Nigeria, the group of WTO Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development (FIFD) pledged support for the success of the High-Level Investment Forum taking place in Abuja on the 3rd and 4th of November, co-hosted by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) Commission in partnership with FIFD

Investment Facilitation for Development is an initiative by some WTO members including Nigeria as a core member to constructively and progressively drive trade and investment with concrete deliverables in mind

This WTO Investment Coalition is made of Nigeria, Argentina, China, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada and the European Union

A draft declaration is being negotiated for finalization at the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of the deliverables for the Buenos Aires, Argentina,  Ministerial Conference in December.

The Objective of the Investment Coalition are: (a) Place investment facilitation as a priority for the WTO Ministerial MC11 in Buenos Aries, Argentina (b) Achieve coherence between the trade and investment policy communities and position the WTO to be more pro-development with actual deliverables for its members (c) Seek active investment opportunities in their countries

“Nigeria is part of this coalition because we see investment and trade facilitation as a positive and pro-development agenda, and ensure that the WTO is better responsive to domestic economic priorities,” said the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr. Okechukwu

“This Investment Facilitation Initiative is potentially significant to position WTO better to respond to the investment needs of developing countries, in general and African countries in particular,” he added

In his remarks, the Director General/Chief Negotiator of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe expressed delight at the progress made so far, saying: “This is for economic growth and recovery, creation of employment opportunities and connection to global value chains.”

The Abuja event titled “High-Level Forum on Trade and Investment Facilitation for Development” is expected to bring together African Investment and Trade decision makers as well private sector representatives to share perspectives on leveraging trade and investment opportunities on the continent. It seeks to connect actual investors within and outside the continent with African policy makers in order to produce concrete outcomes

At the concluding session of the WTO Ministerial in Marrakech, Edward Yau, HongKong China Trade and Industry Secretary, in reporting to the Ministerial Meeting, invited the WTO to ensure the success of the Abuja event on trade and investment facilitation.

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Facebook gets behind African entrepreneurs in a ‘celebration of tech’ week as part of its sponsorship of TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Africa
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
The event will see entrepreneurs and developers compete across three categories: social good; productivity and utility; and gaming and entertainment
Ime Archibong, Facebook's Vice President of Partnerships

Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Partnerships

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 9, 2017/ — Showcasing Facebook’s (www.Facebook.com) passion for investing in creative, diverse talent across Africa, and nurturing the tech and startup ecosystem, Facebook announces a week-long celebration of activities as part of its sponsorship of TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Africa 2017 (http://APO.af/wJeqkQ).

In the first event of its kind on the continent, TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Africa 2017, will search for the best innovators, makers and technical entrepreneurs in Sub Saharan Africa. The event will see entrepreneurs and developers compete across three categories: social good; productivity and utility; and gaming and entertainment. It will tell the founders’ stories, uncovering the next wave of disruptive innovations and putting African invention under the global spotlight.

Ned Desmond, COO, TechCrunch adds, “We’re really pleased to be able to bring the first Startup Battlefield to Africa. This is an exciting event, with opportunities to discover the creativity, talent and imagination of startups from across the continent. TechCrunch has held events across the world, and being able to hold Battlefield Africa is a natural progression. We can’t wait to see the results.

Commenting on the partnership, Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Partnerships said: “Our partnership with TechCrunch on Africa’s first ever Startup Battlefield event is a natural fit. We’re big believers in supporting and developing young, creative, diverse talent, and we also have a passion for supporting small businesses and startups as they grow, and nowhere is this more exciting than in the rich, diverse continent that is Africa.”

The Facebook team will be in Nairobi, Kenya from 9-12 October to take part in and host a number of events aimed at connecting, listening and learning from the startup and wider tech community:

  • TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Africa 2017 – a day-long event aimed at celebrating and uncovering the best innovators, makers and technical entrepreneurs in sub Saharan Africa. Taking to the stage will be:
    • Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Partnerships
    • The Startup Journey to Success panel hosted by Emeka Afigbo (Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships for Middle East & Africa) with Chijioke Dozie (Co-founder and CEO, OneFi), Mark Essien (Founder and CEO, Hotels.ng) and Eric Thimba (Co-founder and CEO, MOOKH)
    • Uche Ofodile from the Facebook Connectivity team, taking part in a panel on ‘Solving Africa’s Connectivity Equation’
  • Facebook Platform Meetup, bringing together entrepreneurs, developers, and senior leaders at early-mid-stage startups in Kenya to learn how Facebook’s Platform products can help to accelerate their businesses 
  • Facebook Developer Circles Africa Masterclassa three-day training course bringing together Developer Circle leaders from across sub Saharan Africa
  • Women in Tech event – designed to engage with influential women working in Nairobi’s technology ecosystem and to share Facebook’s mission on Diversity
  • Developer Circles Nairobi Meetup – bringing together the Developer Circles Nairobi community in an evening of networking
  • Facebook Community event – aimed at bringing together Community Groups from across Nairobi
  • SMB, Agency & Content Creators Workshops – several workshops providing Kenyan entrepreneurs, agencies and SMB’s on how to grow their business using Instagram and Facebook

“With more than a billion people in Africa, we want to do more to enable businesses in the region to connect with people,” says Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships for Middle East & Africa. “We are excited to be part of a showcase of how African developers and tech entrepreneurs are empowering people and growing the economy.”

 

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SITA to provide 100% bag tracking for airlines at Istanbul new Airport from day one
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
SITA technology will allow airlines at one of the world’s biggest airports to track bags at every step
ISTANBUL, Turkey, October 9, 2017/ — İGA, contractor and designated operator of Istanbul New Airport, has appointed SITA (www.SITA.aero) to implement its innovative baggage tracking solution at what will be one of the world’s largest airports, allowing airlines to meet IATA Resolution 753’s baggage tracking requirements from day one.

The airport, due to open in 2018, will have capacity to accommodate 90 million passengers a year. Upon completion of all four phases, the passenger capacity will reach over 200 million passengers annually and will be required to track more than 750000 bags an hour. The potential for bags to be mishandled in such a busy environment will be significantly reduced with SITA’s baggage solution by providing information on where every single bag is on its route through the airport.

SITA’s baggage solutıon (http://APO.af/QvebHa) provides the IT infrastructure that makes it possible for airlines to track bags at key points in the journey, including check-in, transfer and arrival. Airlines will also be able to receive updates on where their baggage is at each step of the journey, allowing them to comply with IATA Resolution 753.

Yusuf Akçayoğlu, CEO of İGA Airports Construction said: “We fully understand that having the right technology will be essential to the successful operation of the new airport and future-proofing it for decades to come. It is also critical to ensuring our passengers fully benefit from our new, world-class facilities by providing innovative systems that make the journey through the airport enjoyable and effortless. We are confident that we will conclude this cooperation successfully.”

Ersin İnankul, CIO of İGA Airports Construction said: “In building a new facility, we have the opportunity to implement technology or capacity to accommodate new technologies. One of the technologies that will become a must-have is baggage tracking to meet the June 2018 deadline of Resolution 753. As a service to our airlines, we have partnered with SITA to implement the technology to meet the requirements from day one of operation.”

Jihad Boueri, SITA Vice President Airports for Middle East, India and Africa said: “Baggage is one key area where technology is improving the passenger experience. Increasingly airlines and airports are helping to relieve the anxiety of waiting for bags to arrive by providing real-time information on the status of their bags to passengers. At the same time, by understanding where a bag is at any point in its journey, airlines will be able to act proactively to ensure that a bag is correctly allocated to a flight, ensuring it arrives with the passenger at its destination.”

SITA’s Baggage Report 2017 showed that baggage management by airlines globally improved again in 2016 as the industry focuses on technology investments. According to the report, the rate of mishandled bags was 5.73 bags per thousand passengers in 2016, down 12.25% from the previous year and the lowest ever recorded.

SITA (www.SITA.aero) is the communications and IT solution provider that transforms air travel through technology for airlines, at airports and on aircraft. The company’s portfolio covers everything from managed global communications and infrastructure services, to eAircraft, passenger management, baggage, self-service, airport and border management solutions. Owned 100% by more than 400 air transport industry members, SITA has a unique understanding of its needs and places a strong emphasis on technology innovation.
Nearly every airline and airport in the world does business with SITA and its border management solutions are used by more than 30 governments. With a presence at more than 1,000 airports around the world and a customer service team of 2,000+ staff, SITA delivers unmatched service to more than 2,800 customers in more than 200 countries.
In 2016, SITA had consolidated revenues of US$1.5 billion. SITA’s subsidiaries and joint ventures include SITAONAIR (www.SITAONAIR.aero), CHAMP Cargosystems (www.Champ.aero) and Aviareto (www.Aviareto.aero).
For further information go to www.SITA.aero.

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Asoko Welcomes Submissions for Africa 2017 Forum Deal Room with COMESA
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Deal Room will connect some of Africa’s most enterprising SMEs and fast growth companies with investors to help them scale up their businesses.
London, 09 October 2017: Asoko Insight (Asoko), Africa’s largest repository of privately-held company information, will facilitate their second Deal Room at the forthcoming Africa 2017 Forum, to be held in Sharm El Sheikh between the 7th and 9th December.

Africa 2017 is the biggest B2B and B2G forum to take place in Africa this year, bringing together government delegations from over 30 countries and over 1,000 business leaders from across the continent.

The Forum, which will take place on the 8th and 9th December in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, will be preceded by a Young Entrepreneurs Day, on the 7th December aimed to connect tomorrow’s future business leaders, with like-minded entrepreneurs and help them, through a series of workshops and discussions, take their businesses to the next level.

The Deal Room is a platform that connects high investment potential African companies with angel investors, venture capital and private equity companies with the aim to help them raise capital and accelerate their growth. Asoko will facilitate the identification of these companies, support their preparation to pitch and use its network amongst the investor community to match capital to proven business models with great potential.

Speaking on the partnership, Asoko CEO and co-founder, Rob Withagen, said “We are delighted and excited to be an official knowledge partner at the Africa 2017 Forum. African businesses are rapidly growing in number and sophistication, but the challenge of positioning themselves in front of institutional investors and global corporates, remains. Being part of initiatives such as this, designed to enhance private sector cooperation and drive investment in sectors of strategic interest within Africa, is at the core of our vision at Asoko”.

The Deal Room at Africa 2017 will focus on companies from 3 sectors: i) agri/agribusiness;; ii) transport and logistics; and iii) light manufacturing. Each of these industry sectors align with the theme of Africa 2017 to promote inclusive growth and cross border trade in the African region.

The selection process will be completed by the end of October. Companies who meet the criteria can apply for consideration by submitting their company details through the following link by the 20th October:

Asoko Insight (Asoko) is Africa’s largest online repository of privately-held company information. Our objective is to facilitate instant access to reliable information on Africa’s most dynamic companies, at scale. With support of research teams based in Addis Ababa, Accra, Lagos and Nairobi, we have captured in-depth profiles on more than 10,000 mid to large cap corporates thus far and are rapidly adding to that number. We work with investors, corporates and governments worldwide who are looking for business partners and investment opportunities.

Africa 2017 Forum is held under the high patronage of H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi on 7th to 9th December 2017 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and is organized by the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation of Egypt and the COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA).

The 2017 edition builds on the success of the inaugural Africa 2016, which saw participation of 6 Heads of State and more than 1,000 delegates from 45 countries. This year the programme has been enhanced with exclusive Presidential Roundtables with African leaders and CEOs as well as a Young Entrepreneurs Day.

Africa 2017 remains the premier business platform to nurture new partnerships; meet investors and fast track your business objectives in Africa. More information available here www.businessforafricaforum.com

*Asoko Insight

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Conferencing in Africa reaches for the stars
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

African conferencing facilities are becoming more than just venues for local gatherings and are now attracting major international events. The continent’s breath-taking natural beauty, rapidly developing infrastructure and vibrant multi-cultural people offer an increasingly attractive destination for some of the biggest global strategic events.  Elzaan van Rhyn, Groups and Convention Manager at Peermont discusses the growing sophistication of conferencing facilities in Africa and how they can benefit companies and local communities.

Peermont Walmont at The Grand Palm, Gaborone,Botswana

Peermont Walmont at The Grand Palm, Gaborone,Botswana

With the global economy expected to grow by just 2.7% in 2017 and the African economy by 2.9%, live events have maintained their relevance in a time of cost-cutting. This is despite the potential challenge from teleconferencing technology, which is delivering a much higher image and sound quality than ever before. While the global village is relying more and more on technology to connect people, nothing beats a live event where people can interact with each other for longer periods of time and in genuine ways.

Long-term relationships and contacts can be built without the worry of losing Internet connection or electricity, and nothing could ever replace the subtle nuances of face-to-face contact that are lost even through the most advanced digital contact. Along with a vibrant grass-roots economy, the continent’s unique cultural and tourism experiences mean the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry in Africa is starting to boom, despite budget cuts.

In fact, while companies and government departments might cut marketing, advertising and promotion costs, budgets are being diverted to conferences and exhibitions, as the measurable return on investment is more substantial and impactful. Increasingly, conference organisers are looking for fresh locations that leave attendees inspired and energised – especially where team building, sales, strategy and creativity are critical elements to the event process.

Global conference organisers also want to host their events at the best locations, where their delegates won’t be distracted by the hustle and bustle of big city life. The growing trend towards ‘bleisure’ hospitality, where companies seek to combine ‘business’ and ‘leisure’ elements, is serving to create memorable, informative experiences in stress-free environments.

Developers are picking up on this trend and leading leisure properties are being renovated to include world-class conference centres to cater for business and industry events, along with entertainment. In this way, visitors to African destinations are offered the benefit of sophisticated corporate facilities along with the natural beauty and excitement of the African continent.

There’s no better time than now for owners of traditionally leisure-focused assets to boost their conferencing capabilities. While upgrade costs might be daunting, the long-term benefits are immeasurable. Owners benefit from referrals and marketing their properties while the surrounding economy is stimulated through job creation and new supply chains.

The Grand Palm in Botswana and the Umodzi Park in Malawi are two exciting properties that are attracting people who might otherwise have not even visited the continent.

In 2016, The Grand Palm Resort, located in Gaborone, erected a new multi-purpose marquee to add versatility to the resort, especially for large scale events. Since then it was picked as host to the widely televised World’s Strongest Man contest, performances by musician Monique Bingham and the Royal Moscow Ballet, among others.

In 2017, The Grand Palm’s four-star Walmont hotel began upgrades to create a world-class aesthetic quality, including a complete revamp of its Okavango and Moremi conference rooms. With new interior design and a full refurbishment of the main conference hall and breakaway rooms, the Conference Centre received a modern facelift that rivals leading venues abroad. With the casino also being completely overhauled, delegates will experience the same standard of excellence across the entire resort.

In Malawi, construction on Umodzi Park commenced in 2009 and was completed in 2012 as a mixed-use facility. It is the ideal business getaway, featuring the 130-room President Walmont Hotel, the only five-star hotel in Malawi. Adjacent to this is the Bingu Wa Mutharika International Convention Centre, which has 15 different venues and the capacity to host 1,500 people in its main auditorium.

The Convention Centre was picked to host events such as the 2017 Miss Malawi pageant and the successful African Land Forces Summit, which received delegates from 44 countries in May, including the US, France, UK, Brazil and leaders from across Africa.

 

 

These properties are rare jewels in the African hospitality industry, and as more people enjoy their state-of-the-art features, they will continue to attract interest from global conferences, international musical performances and mega trade exhibitions.

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Nigerian industrialist Aliko Dangote shares secret of backward integration with investors: “Produce the entire value chain”
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
Nigerian industrialist Aliko Dangote shares secret of backward integration with investors: “Produce the entire value chain”
 
Aliko Dangote

Aliko Dangote

LONDON, United Kingdom, October 9, 2017/ — At the Financial Times’ 4th annual Africa Summit (http://APO.af/qv2dZF) at Claridges in London, editor in chief Lionel Barber conducted an extraordinarily candid public conversation with Nigerian Aliko Dangote, Africa’s most successful business leader, in the presence of Nigerian vice-president Professor Yemi Osingajo, Congolese presidential hopeful Moise Katumbi, and about 300 business leaders.

Mastering detailed production statistics and highly-compelling demographics on promising sectors of the African economy, Dangote outlined the key to his success: self-sufficiency and backward integration, a manufacturing strategy that extracts value from entire processes. “We are not going to import anything any longer,” he said. “In Nigeria we are learning how to produce the entire value chain.” Once a heavy importer of fertilizer, Nigeria is now gearing up to produce 3M tonnes of locally manufactured fertilizer, transforming the nation into one of the largest fertilizer exporters in Africa.

In 2007 Nigeria was the second largest importer of cement after the US, Dangote reminded the audience of business elites. “Today, we have not only satisfied domestic needs; we have become a leading exporter of 6-7M tonnes of cement,” he added.

Diversifying into agriculture, Dangote has eyes on the dairy industry motivated by the fact that “98% of all milk consumed in Nigeria is imported.” Same for rice.  Dangote Group has invested heavily in rice production by investing in local farmers and then offering to buy back the 1M tonnes at open market prices that they are growing. “Soon we will be able to feed not only Nigeria but the entire 320M large West African market.”

Dangote’s business accumen was on rare exhibition as FT editor Lionel Barber himself seemed impressed with the business mogul’s quick familiarity with the nuts and bolts of his businesses. “Are we going to continue to import everything?” Dangote asked. “Freight rates are now cheap but they will go up soon. A population of over 200M cannot continue to import basic needs on a daily basis,” he answered himself.

By 2100 Dangote stated Africa will represent 49% of the world’s population, up from 30% today. “If you don’t think big we won’t grow at all,” he said. “In Africa you have to play long-term.”

Aside from Nigeria, which African nations do you think are good growth opportunities? Barber asked Dangote. “Aside from Nigeria?” the business leader repeated and smiled. “I’d have to pick Nigeria. I am a big fan of Nigeria. We are only using 8% of our land.”

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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS EXTENDS GROUP BOOKING PROMOTION
October 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Get a complimentary* ticket when booking 10 or more passengers traveling to Africa

Fort Lauderdale, FL (October 09, 2017) – South African Airways (SAA), the national flag carrier of South Africa and Africa’s most awarded airline, has extended its special group booking promotion of offering one free tour conductor ticket* (restrictions apply) for every 10 group passengers traveling on SAA.

This offer is valid for new group bookings made and deposits received by October 31, 2017, for travel from October 26 through December 9, 2017, and January 11 through March 31, 2018. Travel is applicable on SAA-operated flights from New York-JFK Airport or Washington, DC-Dulles Airport to any
SAA destination in Africa.

“We invite families, friends, coworkers and travel clubs to take advantage of SAA’s low group fares and this special tour conductor offer to explore and experience the wonders of Africa,” said Todd Neuman, executive vice president, North America for South African Airways. “With this tremendous value, your group can experience the vibe of Africa’s cosmopolitan cities, enjoy an exhilarating game safari to view the Big Five, indulge in amazing wine and culinary delights, or spend quality time together under the majestic African skies.”

South African Airways offers the most service from the U.S. to South Africa and an extensive route network throughout the African continent. SAA’s competitive group fares and its dedicated group sales specialists are available to assist with all your group’s travel needs, including complimentary seat assignments. We invite groups big or small to experience SAA’s award-winning in-flight service designed
for pure comfort for long-haul travel with a roomy economy class cabin, gourmet cuisine and a selection of complimentary spirits and award-winning South African wines and, generous checked baggage allowance. Also included are individual audio / visual entertainment systems that deliver an extensive menu of first-run movies and music choices. Via our Johannesburg hub, SAA links the world to over 75
destinations across Southern Africa and Africa’s Indian Ocean islands.

To request your group quote, email GroupsNA@flysaa.com, or contact your local professional travel consultant. Visit www.flysaa.com to learn more about the exciting destinations we service.

South African Airways (SAA), South Africa’s national flag carrier and the continent’s most awarded airline, serves over 75 destinations worldwide in partnership with SA Express, Airlink and its low cost carrier Mango.

In North America, SAA operates daily nonstop flights from New York-JFK and direct flights from Washington D.C.-IAD (via Accra, Ghana and Dakar, Senegal) to Johannesburg. SAA has
partnerships with United Airlines, Air Canada and JetBlue Airways, American Airlines and Virgin America, which offer convenient connections from more than 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada to SAA’s flights. SAA is a Star Alliance member and the recipient of the Skytrax 4-Star rating for 15 consecutive years.

Complimentary Tour Conductor tickets are subject to applicable taxes & surcharges. Complimentary Tour Conductor ticket is awarded after a group of 10 or more paying passengers. Special is valid for new bookings only. Valid for ad-hoc groups only (no
series producers). Valid for travel 10/26/2017 – 12/9/2017 & 1/11/2018 – 3/31/2018. Valid for travel from New York (JFK) or Washington
Dulles (IAD) to Africa. Entire group (including tour conductor) must travel together. Valid on SAA-operated flights only. Groups must be booked and deposited by 9/30/2017. Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights. Change & cancellation penalties apply, per applicable group reservation and fare rules. Baggage and optional service fees may apply. Reservations made 7 days or more prior to scheduled departure may be canceled without penalty up to 24 hours after the reservation is made

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US ends 20 years of sanctions on Sudan
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

Anthony Morland*

Sudan's President El Bashir

Sudan’s President El Bashir

The United States has lifted decades-old economic sanctions against Sudan even though it still considers the country a state sponsor of terrorism and despite the fact Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir still faces arrest on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

In July, Washington said a decision on whether to do away with the sanctions, which Barack Obama had suspended shortly before leaving the White House, would be delayed for three months.

Khartoum’s recent move to end its support for North Korea seems to have tipped the balance in its favour and Donald Trump’s administration said there was now enough evidence of progress to justify the move.

The sanctions were imposed in 1997 when then-president Bill Clinton issued an executive order citing Sudan’s “continued support for international terrorism, ongoing efforts to destabilise neighbouring governments, and the prevalence of human rights violations.”

Including a comprehensive trade embargo and blocking the assets of Sudan’s government, they were expanded in 2006 to target individuals involved in the conflict in Darfur. The ICC’s charges against Bashir relate to acts, including murder, rape, and torture, committed by Sudanese troops in Darfur between 2003 and 2008.

Obama stipulated that the sanctions would only be ended if Sudan made progress in five areas: co-operation on counter-terrorism; resolution of the conflicts in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur; improving access to humanitarian aid; ending support to armed opposition groups in South Sudan; and addressing the threat of the Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

On Wednesday, Sudan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hamed Momtaz told the Reuters news agency that his country had “fulfilled all the necessary conditions relating to the roadmap and the US administration is a witness to that and therefore we expect the sanctions to be lifted.”

Khartoum had already won significant international support for this claim, with Israel and Saudi and Arabia busy lobbying on its behalf. And back in July, the UN Country Team in Sudan, which includes all United Nations development and humanitarian agencies working there, called for Washington to take a “positive decision” on the sanctions, saying there had been a “marked improvement in humanitarian access over the past six months” in areas from where aid agencies had previously been restricted.

Some key figures in the UN, however, paint a less rosy picture. Civilians in Darfur still face “violence and criminality”, the UN’s then-head of peacekeeping told the Security Council in January. Hervé Ladsous pointed in particular to the “widespread proliferation of weapons and the inadequacy of law and justice institutions” as well as inter-communal violence over land, water, and other resources.

Human rights activists have warned that lifting the sanctions will embolden Sudan and other states to continue committing atrocities.

On Thurday, Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher Jehanne Henry tweeted: “recent attacks on Darfur IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] and new political arrests. Has Sudan made ‘progress’ on human rights? @potus”

Reaching out to “emerging donors”

Henry’s tweet linked to a May position statement by HRW that criticised Obama’s 11th-hour suspension of sanctions for its failure to “identify clear benchmarks for progress or explicitly require improvements to the human rights situation before making the suspension permanent.”

Twenty years after the sanctions were first imposed on Sudan, “the human rights situation has not improved,” according to HRW.

“Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and aligned forces, notably the newly created Rapid Support Forces, have continued to attack civilians in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile with utter impunity. National security agents engage in entrenched patterns of repression, targeting civil society leaders, human rights activists, and students for harassment, arbitrary detentions, and torture; restricting civil society organisations and independent media; and using lethal force to disperse protesters, killing hundreds in broad daylight,” the May statement said.

And as researcher Jerome Tubiana pointed out in an opinion piece for IRIN in August, accurately measuring progress in human rights in theatres of conflict is almost impossible.

“Arguably, less is now known about what’s happening in Darfur than at any time since 2004, because access for international observers, aid workers, researchers, and journalists is constantly squeezed and is more difficult than ever. Those who do manage to get in are so afraid of being kicked out that they often prefer, consciously or not, to under-report, not to report, or even to deny the extent of the violence,” Tubiana wrote.

He also noted that “the wars in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile have not ended, and humanitarian access is far from what it was in Darfur in 2004, when the conflict there was at its peak.

“The international narrative that the wars in Sudan are now ‘low-intensity conflicts’, with sufficient security on the ground to implement early recovery and development programmes, is a dangerous fiction.”
Editor’s take – It’s not about human rights

The lifting of US sanctions against Sudan 20 years after they were imposed marks a long-fought victory for Khartoum, in particular al-Bashir and his inner circle. A trade embargo and a freeze on Sudanese government assets essentially isolated Sudan from the global financial system and prevented any US citizen or entity doing business with it. By contributing to the freefall of Sudan’s economy, the sanctions made it harder for al-Bashir to maintain his grip on the country. Yet neither the sanctions, nor an ICC indictment for genocide and crimes against humanity made the Sudanese president a pariah among his African peers; indeed several African countries have blithely ignored their Rome Statue obligation to arrest al-Bashir during his visits to their territory.

When he imposed the sanctions in 1997, Bill Clinton cited Sudan’s rampant violations of human rights as the main justification. But there is little evidence of a major improvement in the country’s human rights record, even though this is one of five areas of progress cited by Washington in justifying the lifting of the sanctions. In its latest report on human rights across the world, the US State Department cited “aerial bombardments of civilian areas by military forces and attacks on civilians by government and other armed groups in conflict zones” as well as abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape, all committed with impunity by intelligence agents. Reducing internal wars was another US benchmark, but armed conflict continues to simmer in the regions of Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan, where humanitarian access remains very restricted. It seems the US decision to lift sanctions is more closely linked to Khartoum’s role in global counter-terrorism and its recent cutting of ties with Pyongyang.

*IRIN

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