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Clinging to power in Africa
December 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here is a range of precedents over the past 15 years:

– Successful bids –

[caption id="attachment_23113" align="alignleft" width="300"]An amendment to the constitution would allow Rwandan President Paul Kagame, 58, to run for an exceptional third seven-year term in 2017 (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker) An amendment to the constitution would allow Rwandan President Paul Kagame, 58, to run for an exceptional third seven-year term in 2017 (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)[/caption]

– BURUNDI: After a constitutional row, President Pierre Nkurunziza won a controversial third term in July 2015, in polls boycotted by the opposition and denounced by the United Nations as neither free nor fair. His re-election bid sparked an attempted coup by rebel generals and months of civil unrest that has killed hundreds and driven hundreds of thousands from the country.

– ZIMBABWE: A new constitution adopted in 2013 allowed President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, to stand in an election, which he won.

– DJIBOUTI: In April 2010, Djibouti’s parliament approved a constitutional amendment allowing President Ismael Omar Guelleh, in power since 1999, to run for a third term, which he won in 2011. He is now eyeing a fourth term in 2016.

– ANGOLA: The adoption in January 2010 of a constitutional amendment providing for the election of a president by indirect suffrage, by parliamentarians, allowed head of state Jose Eduardo dos Santos, in power since 1979, to be sworn in in 2012 after his party’s victory in legislative elections.

– ALGERIA: In November 2008, parliament removed the presidential two term limit, voting for a revision of the constitution. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999, was then re-elected in 2009 and again in 2014. – CAMEROON: In April 2008, parliament revised the constitution, scrapping the limit on the number of presidential terms. Paul Biya, who had been in power since 1982, was elected to a sixth term in October 2011. – UGANDA: In July 2005, a constitutional reform scrapped restrictions on the number of presidential terms. Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, was re-elected in 2006 and 2011 and is running again in 2016. – CHAD: In June 2005, a constitutional revision was adopted after a disputed referendum abolished a limit of two five-year terms. Idriss Deby, in power since 1990, was re-elected in 2006 and again in 2011. – TOGO: In December 2002, a constitutional amendment paved the way for Gnassingbe Eyadema, in power since 1967, to seek another term in 2003. After his death in office in February 2005, a constitutional revision by parliament allowed his son, Faure Gnassingbe, favoured by the army, to be sworn in as president. He won a third term in April 2015. – Failed attempts –

Other leaders have not managed to impose constitutional changes to remain in power.

– BURKINA FASO: In October 2014, the announcement that long-serving president Blaise Compaore sought to extend his rule beyond 30 years brought hundreds of thousands of protesters onto the streets, forcing him to step down.

– ZAMBIA: Frederick Chiluba had to throw in the towel in 2001 under popular pressure, and in MALAWI, the parliament in 2002 blocked Bakili Muluzi from seeking a third mandate in 2004. – NIGERIA: Military ruler turned democrat Olusegun Obasanjao failed in his 2006 effort to change the constitution to allow him a third term in power. – Still trying –

– THE REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Veteran Congo ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso’s government on October 27, 2015 claimed a landslide victory in a referendum on changes to the constitution that would make him eligible to contest elections next year, extending his three-decade stay in power.

– THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: President Joseph Kabila inherited his post after his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, was killed in January 2001. The opposition believes Kabila will try to circumvent the constitution and run for a third five-year term in 2016.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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The Paris Climate Change Agreement – A Window for Africa’s Sustainable Development
December 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina – AfDB President. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina – AfDB President.[/caption] “The Adoption of the Paris Agreement shows that the world understands that with climate change there are no winners and no losers.  Either we all win together, or we all lose together”, the President of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, said Sunday. “And yesterday we all committed to win together.” “The Summit marked a historic moment, when 195 countries chose to stand on the side of justice and common sense.  And the voice of Africa has been heard – loud and clear. African countries came to COP21 well prepared with a unified narrative, a clear agenda, and a bottom line for a fair deal.” Adesina stressed that Africa has changed its narrative, coming to Paris as a solution provider whose voice must be heard.  He praised the coherent structure which was established through the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), the African Ministerial Conference of the Environment (AMCEN), and the Committee of African Heads of State and Government (CAHOSCC). Other developing countries have relied on Africa to lead the negotiations on their behalf, he said. “While the Agreement may not be perfect, it has largely reflected Africa’s specificities, while accommodating the needs of other developing regions. I have always said that a deal that is not good for Africa is no deal at all,” he went on. He set out the five characteristics that Africa expected from the Declaration: a binding agreement under the Climate Change Convention; an Agreement that respects the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities; an Agreement that creates parity between adaptation and mitigation; an Agreement that keeps global warming below 1.5oC; and an Agreement that creates greater ambition to progressively increase climate change financing to developing countries from a floor of US $100 billion per annum from 2020. The Africa Group of Negotiators went to Paris with two initiatives that would contribute to achieving the expected outcomes of the Paris Agreement, Adesina said.  These were the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative and the Africa Adaptation Initiative. Both initiatives were launched at the COP, and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative has received strong support and financial pledges from partners. The Paris Agreement further acknowledges the need to promote universal access to sustainable energy in developing countries, in particular in Africa, through the enhanced deployment of renewable energy. “While the Agreement is indeed ambitious, we cannot rest on our oars,” Adesina concluded. “There is much more work to be done. Assessments have shown that current commitments in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) will result in global warming of about 3oC. The Agreement includes a pledge to review and strengthen commitments every five years. It’s just the beginning. We need to build on its momentum to ensure that Africa transitions to a low-carbon and climate-resilient development pathway. The will is there. The commitment is there. This window of opportunity will not be open for much longer.  Let us seize it.” *AFDB]]>

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What Obama and Xi said to Africa
December 9, 2015 | 0 Comments

Both President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping have made trips to Africa this year Both President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping have made trips to Africa this year[/caption]

China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama have both made major speeches in Africa this year. President Xi spoke last week to heads of state at a summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, and in July President Obama spoke at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Their oratory show some remarkable similarities and some interesting differences.


Partnership of equals?

Bongo and Deng XiopingImage copyrightAFP
Both leaders spoke about past relations with the continent. President Xi: “What has made China-Africa friendship durable and vigorous is that our two sides have always been guided by the principle of treating each other as equals… China and Africa will forever remain good friends, good partners and good brothers.” President Obama: “As president, I’ve worked to transform America’s relationship with Africa – so that we’re truly listening to our African friends and working together, as equal partners.” Both presidents used the word “partners” but there is still a difference. Africa analyst Aubrey Hruby says that China is able to emphasise the shared development experience with Africa, whereas the US has had to work harder at making the equal partnership a reality.

Speak up or keep quiet?

Woman with mouth taped upImage copyrightAFP
Despite talking about Africa solving its own problems, the US president said that he would not be afraid to bring up human rights issues, while the Chinese leader underlined China’s policy of non-interference. President Obama: “The bottom line is that when citizens cannot exercise their rights, the world has a responsibility to speak out. And America will, even if it’s sometimes uncomfortable, even when it’s sometimes directed toward our friends.” President Xi: “We should respect each other’s choice of development path… China strongly believes that Africa belongs to the African people and that African affairs should be decided by the African people.”

How to do business

CashImage copyrightAFP
President Obama’s trip to Africa this year was timed to coincide with the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya. Ms Hruby says he came with a message of private business development and brought potential investors with him, whereas President Xi emphasised big infrastructure development. President Obama: “Entrepreneurship creates new jobs and new businesses, new ways to deliver basic services, new ways of seeing the world – it’s the spark of prosperity.” President Xi: “We should fully leverage the strengths of political mutual trust… and focus on industrial capacity cooperation as well as… industrialisation.”

The Mandela quote

Nelson MandelaImage copyrightAFP
Both leaders felt it necessary to name-check the late South African President Nelson Mandela, though they chose quotes which emphasised different issues. President Xi: “President Nelson Mandela… said: ‘We stand at the dawn of an African century, a century where Africa will take its rightful place among the nations of the world.’ I couldn’t agree more with this statement.” President Obama: “Nelson Mandela taught us ‘to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others'”.

Peace and progress

Chinese peacekeepers
Both men chose to link security and development and were keen to offer their country’s help. Again, their emphasis was slightly different: President Xi: “Poverty is the root cause of chaos while peace is the guarantee for development… China stands ready to take an active part in Africa’s efforts in capacity-building for maintaining and strengthening peace and security.” President Obama: “Africa’s progress will also depend on security and peace… Now, as Africa stands against terror and conflict, I want you to know that the United States stands with you.”

Spot the difference

These word clouds were generated from the two men’s speeches:
World cloud based on President Obama's speechImage copyrightWordle
World cloud based on President Xi's speech
  *BBC]]>

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Washington, D.C. to welcome African Ministers of Energy to international investment conference on African Power
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

The first Powering Africa: Summit attracted over 450 delegates to learn about the opportunities for investment into Africa’s power sector The first Powering Africa: Summit attracted over 450 delegates to learn about the opportunities for investment into Africa’s power sector[/caption] The aim of the meeting is to drive forward strategic partnerships between investors, project developers, governments, utilities and regulators to achieve the goal of bringing power to Africa EnergyNet is to host the second annual Powering Africa: Summit  at the Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C. from 27-29th January 2016. Industry leaders from the USA and Africa who have confirmed to attend include H.E. Hon Minister Jeannot Matadi Atadi Nenga Gamanda, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, DRC, H.E. Hon Minister Obeth Kandjoze, Minister of Energy and Minerals, Namibia, Andy Herscowitz, Co-ordinator, Power Africa and Trade Africa, Anita Marangoly George, Senior Director, Energy and Extractives, The World Bank Groupand Karen Breytenbach, Head of IPP Office, Department of Energy, South Africa. The Powering Africa: Summit (PA:S) is an investment conference where African ministers of finance and energy and US government agencies behind the Power Africa initiative meet with private sector investors and power developers from across North America and Africa. The first meeting, held in January 2015, saw 17 African countries represented with 57% of attendees originating from North America. Programme Manager Veronica Bolton-Smith commented, “PA:S is a valuable platform as it enables dialogue between key stakeholders and developers, chiefly heads of African utilities, US-based private equity houses and wealth management establishments.” The aim of the meeting is to drive forward strategic partnerships between investors, project developers, governments, utilities and regulators to achieve the goal of bringing power to Africa. Following a surge of private equity interest across Sub-Saharan Africa, PA:S will explore the power & infrastructure projects currently piquing the interest of investors, including the gas to power supply chain. Attendees will also receive an update on the South African Gas IPP programme and the opportunity this presents to investors. Industry and agriculture will feature on the 2016 agenda, examining the role transmission plays in the success of these industries. Targeted workshops will examine the landscape for investment in Morocco, South Africa and Nigeria, as well as exploring industry-specific themes such as Public Private Partnerships and “Innovation time”- a workshop for innovators to meet with private equity investors. The 2016 Summit will launch a networking app to enhance participants’ experience by allowing them to set up private meetings and meet with the right contacts more easily. *APO]]>

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Samsung Nigeria named Best Company in Youth Focused CSR at SERAS 2015
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

In addition, its Corporate Citizenship Manager, Abosede Modupe Alimi, was recognized as one of the top three CSR practitioners in the country [caption id="attachment_22784" align="alignleft" width="300"]Koye Sowemimo, Head of Corporate Marketing and Abosede Modupe Alimi, Corporate Citizenship Manager of Samsung Electronics West Africa receives the Award for Best Company in Youth Focused CSR at the 2015 SERAS Awards Koye Sowemimo, Head of Corporate Marketing and Abosede Modupe Alimi, Corporate Citizenship Manager of Samsung Electronics West Africa receives the Award for Best Company in Youth Focused CSR at the 2015 SERAS Awards[/caption] Samsung Nigeria  was conferred the Best Company in Youth Focused CSR at the recently concluded (SERAS) Nigeria CSR Awards 2015. In addition, its Corporate Citizenship Manager, Abosede Modupe Alimi, was recognized as one of the top three CSR practitioners in the country. The awards, reputed to be the major force behind galvanising businesses across various sectors and industries in Nigeria to promote CSR and Sustainability in Nigeria, aims to acknowledge corporate entities who invest in society through CSR programmes. Mr. Brovo Kim, Managing Director of Samsung Electronics West Africa said: “We are humbled by this recognition but by the same token, understand that the task ahead is even bigger. We need to rise to the challenge and provide apt and innovative partnerships that will set Nigeria on the path to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.” Samsung Electronics West Africa is among several businesses assessed by a jury made up of experts drawn from Nigeria and other parts of the world. The jury based its assessment on the outcome of field visits and verification of data. For the Best Company in Youth Focused Award, Samsung was lauded for its sterling work and contribution to the lives of the Nigerian youth through the following programs:

  • Samsung Engineering Academy which has trained 118 young people, 40% of which are gainfully employed as a result of the training received;
  • Digital Village placed in Cross Rivers State, which has a significant number of young people who would potentially benefit from this project especially the Solar Powered Internet School.
Samsung was nominated in a total of three categories including Best Company in Youth Focused CSR, Best Company in CSR Innovation and Most Improved Company in CSR 2015. Receiving both awards for Samsung on the night, Abosede Modupe Alimi, said:  “For me, this accolade represents a vote of confidence in our efforts to positively impact the lives of people, particularly the youth. Our goal has always been to address the felt-needs of the communities we operate in and this recognition will go a long way in inspiring the team to do more in ensuring that we change the course of Nigeria through sustainable corporate citizenship programmes.” Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.  inspires the world and shapes the future with transformative ideas and technologies, redefining the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, cameras, digital appliances, printers, medical equipment, network systems, and semiconductor and LED solutions. We are also leading in the Internet of Things space through, among others, our Smart Home and Digital Health initiatives. We employ319,00 people across 84 countries with annual sales of US $196 billion. *APO]]>

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Equatorial Guinea’s National Gas Company Opens Negotiations for LPG Purchase
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

SONAGAS to market its share of LPG production to international buyers  

  • SONAGAS to market its share of LPG production to international buyers
  • Negotiations with offtakers ongoing, SONAGAS to determine best bidder
  • SONAGAS is 20 percent shareholder in LPG operations at Punta Europa
  [caption id="attachment_22781" align="alignleft" width="300"]Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima[/caption] The Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy of Equatorial Guinea has announced that national gas company SONAGAS  will begin marketing the State’s share of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced at the Alba Plant, on Bioko Island. SONAGAS has now opened negotiations with offtakers and will begin marketing its LPG production stake to international buyers from January 1, 2016. SONAGAS is a 20 percent shareholder, alongside Marathon Oil (40 percent) and Noble Energy (40 percent), in LPG production at the Alba Plant, situated at the Punta Europa gas complex. The Alba Plant partners, SONAGAS and the Government of Equatorial Guinea have agreed that SONAGAS will market its 20 percent share of LPG production on behalf of the State. The Government believes this is a major step for local content in Equatorial Guinea. H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy, stated: “SONAGAS marketing its share of LPG fulfills one of the major objectives envisaged by the State in creating the company a decade ago – that of a national gas company with capacity across the spectrum of gas activities. SONAGAS is evolving to take on more of the gas business, not only as a shareholder at Punta Europa, but throughout the entire value chain.” The LPG production plant began operating in 1991 and was modernized in 2003-2005. The plant produces 8,000 barrels per day of butane, 14,000 barrels per day of propane and 6,000 barrels per day of condensed gas. Sociedad Nacional de Gas G.E., known as SONAGAS, was set up in 2005 to develop gas projects on behalf of the Government of Equatorial Guinea and to maximize the value of natural gas to the country. The company is owned fully by the Government. It acts as a promoter of natural gas sector activities in Equatorial Guinea and is the state’s representative and stakeholder in national projects. *APO  ]]>

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Mundipharma Signs Exclusive Agreement With bitop AG for Anti-Allergy Portfolio
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Mundipharma has in-licensed bitop’s Ectoin® based products for skin care, allergy prevention and treatment in the Middle East and Africa [caption id="attachment_22778" align="alignleft" width="214"]Dr. Ashraf Allam,Regional Vice President,Mundipharma Middle East & Africa Dr. Ashraf Allam,Regional Vice President,Mundipharma Middle East & Africa[/caption] Mundipharma , the innovative pharmaceutical company and leader in the science of pain alleviation, today announced a strategic agreement with medical devices developer and the sole producer of Ectoin®, bitop AG. The exclusive license agreement is for the patented Ectoin®-containing medical devices and grants Mundipharma the rights to register, commercialize and export the products in 56 countries across the Middle East and Africa. This agreement will support the development and delivery of soothe and relief remedies for allergy, dermatitis, cough and cold, respiratory disease, and eye/nose dryness. According to the WAO’s (World Allergy Organization) White Book on Allergy, owing to dust and pollution, more than one third of the population in the Middle East and Africa suffer from some form of allergies all year round. The Ectoin® range of products have excellent membrane-stabilizing and inflammation-reducing characteristics, have been clinically proven to be effective in preventing and managing such allergies and can be used also in children and sensitive patients. The agreement is a result of a mutual commitment to improve patients’ accessibility to effective medication treatments. The addition of the anti-allergy group of products will greatly reinforce the strong consumer portfolio of Mundipharma, and will continue to cement the company’s position as a major contender in the over-the-counter space in the Middle East and Africa, addressing unmet needs of patients and physicians in these markets. Mundipharma expects to launch this family of products from 2016. Dr. Ashraf Allam, Regional Vice President, Mundipharma Middle East and Africa region, said, “Our partnership agreement with bitop comes at a time when Mundipharma is stronger than ever, in both our consumer health and specialty businesses. Since the beginning of 2014, we have significantly strengthened the fundamentals of our business, solidified our presence in key markets and put in place robust engines for profitable growth, laying the groundwork for complementary transactions such as this one with bitop. This agreement is another step forward on our roadmap to reinforce our already strong position in the consumer health space,” said Dr. Ashraf Allam. “bitop and Mundipharma share a commitment to innovation, quality, and helping people to live healthier and longer. We look forward to delivering the benefits of this transaction to our stockholders, and better serving patients, customers and healthcare systems throughout the Middle East and Africa,” he added. Daniel Johannes Berger, Chief Executive Officer, bitop AG, stated: “The partnership with Mundipharma means a lot to us. We have consistently pursued the concept of Ectoin®-containing medical devices and developed innovative, high quality products with clinically proven safety and efficacy. That this concept has convinced Mundipharma is an important confirmation of our strategy.” “We see Mundipharma as the perfect partner for the Middle East and Africa region and believe this partnership will result in a great success for both companies. Innovative products in self-medication under the umbrella of an established, multinational pharmaceutical company: that is indeed a promising combination.” The Mundipharma  network of independent associated companies consists of privately owned companies and joint ventures covering the world’s pharmaceutical markets. These companies are committed to bringing to patients the benefits of pioneering treatment options in the core therapy areas of oncology, pain, respiratory, consumer healthcare and rheumatoid arthritis. bitop AG is a fast growing company based in Witten, Germany. Since the company was founded in 1993, it focuses on the development, manufacture and marketing of medical devices and high quality active ingredients for cosmetics. The technological base of bitop AG’s business are substances from the class of extremolytes, in particular the compound Ectoin®. In both the medical and cosmetics segments, bitop AG is positioned as a provider of innovative and high quality products whose safety and effectiveness is scientifically demonstrated by elaborate experiments and test systems. In the interest of ensuring the highest quality standards, bitop AG operates a certified quality management system according to DIN EN 13485. *APO  ]]>

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Corruption on the rise in Africa poll as governments seen failing to stop it
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Transparency International estimates 75 million Africans paid a bribe in the past year Corruption-cartoon-of-a-police-boss-by-Basati-via-SomalilandsunA majority of Africans say corruption has risen in the past 12 months and most governments are seen as failing in their duty to stop the abuse of power, bribery and secret deals, according to a new opinion poll from Transparency International (Transparency.org). In the report People and Corruption: Africa Survey 2015, part of the Global Corruption Barometer, Transparency International partnered with Afrobarometer, which spoke to 43,143 respondents across 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa between March 2014 and September 2015 to ask them about their experiences and perceptions of corruption in their country. The majority (58 per cent) of Africans in the surveyed countries, say corruption has increased over the past 12 months. In 18 out of 28 countries surveyed a large majority of people said their government is doing badly at fighting corruption. Despite these disappointing findings, the bright spots across the continent were in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Lesotho and Senegal. Citizens in these countries were some of the most positive in the region when discussing corruption. For the first time, people reported business executives as highly corrupt. Business ranked as having the second highest levels of corruption in the region, just below the police. The police regularly rate as highly corrupt, but the strongly negative assessment of business executives is new compared to previous surveys. Many Africans, particularly the poor, are burdened by corruption when trying to get access to key basic services in their country. 22 per cent of people that have come into contact with a public service in the past 12 months paid a bribe. Of the six key public services that we asked about, people who come into contact with the courts and police are the most likely to have paid a bribe. 28 per cent and 27 per cent respectively of people who had contact with these services paid a bribe. Across the continent, poor people who use public services are twice as likely as rich people to have paid a bribe, and in urban areas they are even more likely to pay bribes. “Corruption creates and increases poverty and exclusion. While corrupt individuals with political power enjoy a lavish life, millions of Africans are deprived of their basic needs like food, health, education, housing, access to clean water and sanitation. We call on governments and judges to stop corruption, eradicate impunity and implement Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals to curb corruption. We also call on the people to demand honesty and transparency, and mobilize against corruption. It is time to say enough and unmask the corrupt,” said Transparency International Chair José Ugaz. pesayachai_bwanamdogoIt is increasingly clear that citizens are a key part of any anti-corruption initiative. However, the survey finds that corruption reporting mechanisms are often seen as too dangerous, ineffective or unclear. More than 1 out of 3 Africans thinks that a whistleblower faces negative consequences for reporting corruption, which is why most people don’t report. “Our work as civil society is clear: we have to spread a message of hope across the continent. Corruption can be tackled. People need to be given the space to stand up against it without fear of retaliation and governments need to get serious about ending the widespread impunity.” Transparency International recommends:

  • Governments strengthen and enforce legislation on corrupt business people and anti-money laundering to curb the high volume of illicit flows from the continent. This could address the negative perception of business if those profiting are held to account.
  • Governments establish right to information and whistle-blower protection legislation to facilitate the role of civil society in making public institutions more transparent, accountable and corruption-free.
  • Governments show a sustained and deep commitment to acting on police corruption at all levels by promoting reforms that combine punitive measures with structural changes over the short- and medium-term. Cracking down on petty bribery has direct impact on the most vulnerable in society.
  • The African Union and its members provide the political will and financing needed to implement the review mechanism established for its anti-corruption convention.
Unless it’s stopped, corruption slows development and economic growth while weakening people’s trust in government and the accountability of public institutions. *APO]]>

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African printing industry can immensely benefit from SGI Dubai 2016
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Trade visitors from over 80 countries across all continents to visit the largest printing and signage exhibition in Dubai next year [caption id="attachment_22767" align="alignleft" width="199"]Mr. Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Chairman of IEC Mr. Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Chairman of IEC[/caption] International Expo Consults (IEC) stated that the African printing industry stakeholders can immensely benefit by visiting the (Sign and Graphic Imaging) SGI Dubai 2016 trade show. The event will showcase the innovative products and services from various exhibitors from across the globe under a unified platform. As per the Smithers Pira report the printing revenues in Middle East and Africa are set to touch US$26 billion in 2018. SGI Dubai 2016 in its 19th edition will be held on the 10th, 11th and 12th of January 2016, at the Dubai World Trade Centre.  This is also the largest and prominent trade event for printing and signage industry in the region.  SGI Dubai 2016 will also have dedicated pavilions for the players within the digital signage, textile printing and retail signage industry sectors. Mr. Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Chairman of IEC states, “We are looking forward to welcoming the trade visitors from Africa to our show. We received close to 13000 visitors from across 78 countries in the previous edition of our show and the numbers are slated to increase in 2016 as well.  There is a huge demand for state-of-the-art printing equipment and signage as the African economy is now consolidating and growing to the next level. Hence, a strategic approach from Africa’s print and signage industry can provide the ideal solutions that could contribute to the development of businesses within several vertical industry segments.” “There is a huge potential in Africa’s printing industry. Stakeholders are looking to gradually phase out old equipment to bring in new technology. This growth translates into large scale opportunities for printers, raw material suppliers and print equipment suppliers in Africa. Growing requirement from industries such as retail, entertainment and healthcare are definitely expected to drive the local demand in the coming years,” added Mr. Falaknaz. SGI Dubai 2015, an official Dubai Shopping Festival event welcomed over 400 global exhibitors from across 34 countries and registered over 12,781 trade visitors from 78 countries during the last edition. SGI Dubai 2016 is an ideal converging point where visitors and exhibitors can reach out with architects, sign makers, print and production manufacturers, media agencies, real-estate developers, brand and image consultants among others. In the past decade, the GDP of 54 countries in Africa has been rapidly expanding as compared to the global average and is now a USD$2 trillion economy. As per reports six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are now located in Africa and the world is currently witnessing its booming economic success. This is also slated to give a tremendous boost to the economy’s printing industry sector in the coming years. International Expo-Consults (IEC) is an internationally recognized trade show management company with an impressive track record of 20 years of operations in the Middle East and Asia Pacific region. The Exhibition arm of the Dubai-based conglomerate, the Falak Holding; IEC is the organiser of key exhibitions including Sign and Graphics Imaging (SGI Dubai) and the Dubai, Entertainment, Amusement and Leisure (DEAL). Dubai-based conglomerate, Falak Holding has been an industry pioneer for the last 33 years having diversified business interests. Falak Holding is also a key stakeholder and investor in the prestigious Dubai Sports City project *APO]]>

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Quantum Global Advisory Board hosts Symposium of Female Entrepreneurism in Africa
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Symposium Speakers: Far left Bineta Diop (African Union Chairpersons special envoy for Women, Peace and Security and Executive Director of Femmes Africa Solidarité), second from left Andia Chakava (Co-founder of Alpha Africa Asset Managers), fourth from left Sophia Bekele (Founder of Yes2dotAfrica campaign) and third from right Rolake Akinkugbe (VP & Head Energy & Natural Resources of Lagos based investment bank, FBN Capital) Symposium Speakers: Far left Bineta Diop (African Union Chairpersons special envoy for Women, Peace and Security and Executive Director of Femmes Africa Solidarité), second from left Andia Chakava (Co-founder of Alpha Africa Asset Managers), fourth from left Sophia Bekele (Founder of Yes2dotAfrica campaign) and third from right Rolake Akinkugbe (VP & Head Energy & Natural Resources of Lagos based investment bank, FBN Capital)[/caption] On 19 November 2015, Quantum Global   played host to the group’s second Advisory Board Symposium during an event which reflected recent work conducted by both the African Union and G7 in looking at female empowerment. The high level moderated panel discussion addressed the impact, health and likely trajectory of female entrepreneurship in Africa and its impact on markets, civic society and the Continent’s overall leadership narrative. The event, an important component of Quantum Global’s fledgling thought leadership programme, brought together an authoritative, all African female panel comprising Bineta Diop, the African Union Chairpersons special envoy for Women, Peace and Security and Executive Director of International NGO-Femmes Africa Solidarité-an organisation committed to promoting gender parity within Africa. Joining her on the panel was Sophia Bekele, successful international entrepreneur and named in New Africa Magazine as “one of Top 50 African Trailblazers” and by Bloomberg as ‘’one of the two leading ladies in Africa’s ICT sector.” Accompanying them on the panel was Andia Chakava, a decorated and African female fund manager (one of the first in Kenya) and awarded one Africa’s Most Influential Women 2014 (Financial Services Category) by CEO Magazine. The Symposium, expertly moderated by Rolake Akinkugbe, VP and Head Energy & Natural Resources of Lagos based investment bank, FBN Capital and a successful entrepreneur in her own right, tackled a raft of issues associated with the influence of female leadership at both micro and macro levels in African business and society as well as highlighting the challenges and the hurdles which remain in place for inspirational female leaders in African societies. The Quantum Global thought leadership platform, characterised by the Advisory Board Symposia and other planned activities and events, reflects the group’s desire to engage with real life issues confronting its African partners, friends and clients. Under the auspices of Founder, Jean-Claude Bastos De Morais, the thought leadership platform will seek to make constructive and significant contributions to Africa’s developing success narrative through the provision of informed, expert and sympathetic discussion and debate associated with contemporary African narratives. With planning already underway for the 3rd Advisory Board Symposium to take place in June 2016, the twice yearly Advisory Board Symposia will adopt a variety of formats each seeking to reach diverse professional and expert audiences tackling a variety of key contemporary African issues. The Quantum Global group   of companies is an international investment partner providing access to specialist advice and unique investment opportunities. The group consists of the following entities: Quantum Global Investment Management Ltd, Quantum Global Private Wealth Ltd, Quantum Global Alternative Investments Ltd, Quantum Global Research Lab Ltd and Quantum Global Corporate Services Ltd. Quantum Global Alternative Investments Ltd (QGAI) assists governmental institutions in their investments. The company’s activities span Private Equity, Infrastructure and Real Estate sectors. QGAI advises a family of funds targeting direct investments into Africa’s growth sectors – Agriculture, Healthcare, Hotels, Infrastructure, Mining and Timber – as well as a fund targeting prime real estate in developed markets. Our team combines a solid track record and proven expertise to identify and execute unique investment opportunities with focus on Africa. QGAI works in close partnership with key stakeholders to maximize investment value and returns through active management and value creation. *APO]]>

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Letter from Africa: Why do presidential jets cause a storm?
November 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Elizabeth Ohene*

[caption id="attachment_22543" align="alignleft" width="660"]South African President Jacob Zuma has been accused of leading an extravagant lifestyle South African President Jacob Zuma has been accused of leading an extravagant lifestyle[/caption]

In our series of letters from African journalists, Ghanaian writer and former government minister Elizabeth Ohene looks at the uproar presidential jets cause in Africa, following reports that South Africa plans to buy a new one.

I am not quite sure why the purchase of presidential jets for African leaders attracts such negative reactions from everybody. I wonder if it has anything to do with luxury in the air, as opulence of the most absurd levels appear tolerable on firm ground. Private jets are probably the ultimate in self-indulgence. To acquire one is a sign that you have attained a particularly exclusive status. Never again would you have to wait for scheduled flights or spend hours at airports. Never again would you need to be away from your base for a week when you attend a two-day conference because commercial flight schedules are the way they are. Saving time is the best excuse for buying a private jet. Executive time, after all, is expensive or is presumed to be expensive. But then a private jet wouldn’t be a private jet unless and until it has been customized to include grand bedrooms, bathrooms with gold washbasins as standard features, and sitting arrangements reconfigured to ensure there are comfortable armchairs and sofas. It must cost twice the original price of the jet. When Microsoft founder Bill Gates flies around the world doing good in his private jet, nobody begrudges him; he has a demanding schedule, he has made his own money and he deserves to travel in style. But when charismatic church leaders in Nigeria insist that luxury private jets must be part of their lifestyle, people are not quite sure. If you are a poor country, or simply an African country and you want to buy an aeroplane for the exclusive use of your president, then you have crossed some imaginary line. You are beyond the pale – the type that watches children die. [caption id="attachment_22544" align="alignright" width="624"]Bill Gates has funded health and development programmes in Africa - no-one begrudges his private jet Bill Gates has funded health and development programmes in Africa – no-one begrudges his private jet[/caption] I wonder if the outrage that greets every news about the purchase of a presidential jet would be less if the announcement said that a rugged, utility plane with an austere interior was being purchased? When Swaziland’s King Mswati set off a huge controversy earlier this year for wanting to buy a new plane, I wonder if it would have been more tolerable if the plane were not to have a gold-plated royal lavatory fitted into it? Malawi’s former President Joyce Banda was highly praised when she sold off the presidential jet and famously announced she would be hitching rides with other leaders when she travels. Her successor, Peter Mutharika, is not going to be very popular with Malawi’s donors when he keeps saying he is spending too much time waiting at airports and should acquire a plane. Malawi executive time is not likely to be quite as expensive as Malaysia executive time. Executive time is as expensive as the gross domestic product of the country being managed.

‘Ghana presidential jet not luxurious’

In the past week, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has been the subject of much vitriol when news emerged that a new luxury plane was being sought by the state-owned defence company to add to the current VVIP fleet. Mr Zuma’s palatial extensions will be forgiven, the state might continue to keep his many wives in style but a new luxury plane won’t be tolerated. And I must make a confession here. I have had a ride in a private jet belonging to a rich businessman, in Ghana’s presidential jet, and in one of the jets in the Nigerian presidential fleet. What will new South Africa jet be like?
Graphic of presidential jet South Africa may buyImage copyrightNews24
  • Range of 13,800km (8,600 miles)
  • Able to fly non-stop to New York or Moscow
  • Carry up to 30 passengers
  • Private bedroom suite
  • Conference room for eight people
  • Could cost up to ($280m; £185m)
  • No final decision to buy it
  • Cheaper option will be considered
Source: South African media At the time, what passed for the presidential jet here in Ghana could hardly pass the luxury test; most airlines have more luxurious business class seating than that plane. But it saved time and made it possible to undertake certain trips that could not have been done if you had to rely on scheduled flights. The home of the businessman I refer to was far, far more luxurious than his plane, but it was always the private jet that attracted the comments. I think there is something about luxury in the air that offends the sensibility of people. This must be why private cars don’t attract the same opprobrium as private jets. It seems to me they perform the same function and you need the same excuses to buy them as you do to buy a private jet – you save time and you arrive at your destination in a better state than if you were squeezed into an overcrowded train or bus. So, every time I now get into my car, I am going to make sure I remind myself that this is my own private jet on our potholed streets. *Source BBC  ]]>

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Cyber-crime is Africa's 'next big threat', experts warn
November 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Government and commercial online services could become the next frontier for illegal activity in Africa, security experts are warning.

[caption id="attachment_22487" align="alignleft" width="300"]A hacker can take just 15 minutes to break into websites which have the typical level of security A hacker can take just 15 minutes to break into websites which have the typical level of security[/caption] As more people get access to the internet across Africa, governments and businesses are increasing their online presence but there are questions about how secure these websites are. The email scam using a message from someone pretending to be a relative of a dead African leader asking for bank details is well known, but now tactics have changed. Today’s cyber-criminals do not need users’ approval or awareness to access valuable data, which could lead to the theft of a large amount of money. For example, a recent cybersecurity report on Kenya says businesses are losing about $146m (£96m) every year to cyber-crime. Kenyan cybersecurity analyst Freddy (not his real name) showed me how the average Kenyan website lacks adequate protection. Working on a dummy site with a typical level of security, he showed me how it was possible to hack into it. “This will take me about 15 minutes,” he said as he typed away, writing code. As predicted, in just a quarter of an hour, he had full access to the database and was able to change the administrator password and upload his own material. Freddy is one of the good hackers who advises companies and defends them from attacks rather than exploits the problems, but he feels the response to the online risks is inadequate. This situation is replicated across the continent. South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper reported that hackers launched 6,000 cyber-attacks against South African infrastructure, internet service providers (ISPs) and businesses in October alone.
  [caption id="attachment_22488" align="alignright" width="300"]Freddy gained access to a website's database and change passwords within a short time Freddy gained access to a website’s database and change passwords within a short time[/caption] Bright Mawudor, a Ghanaian cybersecurity expert at Pukyong National University in South Korea, says that most African banks, government agencies and ISPs, in the face of competition, prioritise what their website can do and how fast new features can be released to the public. Security is an afterthought, he argues. “These websites are usually outsourced to software development companies who get pressured to deliver quickly,” he says. “Something that should take about a month has to be delivered in a week and is thus sub-standard. They always make a mistake and the hacker just has to find one.”

Government website threat

Rather than creating their own systems from scratch, there is a tendency to take a shortcut and use existing popular templates, which Mr Mawudor says can easily be breached. He says he knows of several African governments that use these for their websites that can contain sensitive information including individuals’ personal details, which can be used for identity theft. According to the recent Kenyan cybersecurity report, most African-based businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, are unable to withstand cyber-attacks. “If there was the threat of a physical attack you would see a lot of fences and guards,” says William Makatiani of Serianu Limited which was behind the report. “Unfortunately with cyber-attacks, very few people can detect them and you can go for up to a year without knowing you’ve been attacked.” At the Serianu offices in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, big screens show world maps with yellow spots appearing in different countries representing cyber-attacks happening in real time. As these continue, Mr Makatiani suggests the main reason some companies are waking up to the threat is because they are losing money, but he says they are only disclosing these incidents discreetly. The types of crimes are also becoming more sophisticated – moving from password theft, to stealing credit card details to attacks on computer networks. [caption id="attachment_22489" align="alignleft" width="300"]Freddy gained access to a website's database and change passwords within a short time Freddy gained access to a website’s database and change passwords within a short time[/caption] Even if the worst-affected businesses like banks and insurance companies improved their security, the ISPs are accused of not doing enough to create sufficient security for the small businesses they serve. South Africa recently opened a virtual cybersecurity hub in its capital, Pretoria, to help business, government and civil society work together on responses to these incidents. Research firm Columinate suggests that South Africa is one of the world’s cybercrime hotspots. State Security Minister David Mahlobo pointed out that for the country to be adequately protected, there needs to be more awareness of the threats.

Challenging hackers

This situation is mirrored across the continent and has led Mr Mawudor to help found Africahackon, a forum bringing together cyber-security experts, from university to corporate level, to discuss how to take the initiative on these issues, rather than wait for the security gaps to be exploited. The group works with a lot of young people with newly-acquired computer skills who might otherwise be tempted to use them for illegal activity online. “You can never stop cyber-attacks but you can employ the best practices to curb them,” says Mr Mawudor. “This will be a process over time and not a one-day event.” *BBC]]>

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African policy-makers take stock at inaugural infrastructure meeting in Abidjan
November 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

200 (2)More than 150 participants including senior government officials, representatives  from continental organizations  and the private  sector  gathered  in the Ivorian capital for the inaugural   PIDA Week (Programme for Infrastructure Development  in Africa) organized by the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Development Bank. The aim of the high- level  meeting  was  to  evaluate  the  progress  made  toward  the  implementation   of  the  16 priority infrastructure projects identified under the PIDA initiative. These projects were selected and announced at the Dakar Financing Summit  in June 2014 and are of particular strategic,  political and economic importance, most notably because of their transformative power in regional development. Since 2012 progress has been recorded, but several  challenges  lay ahead, delegates heard at the meeting.   Five of the 16 projects have already broke ground: the Abidjan-Lagos  corridor; the Dakar- Bamako rail link; two hydroelectric dams, Sambangalou  in Guinea and Ruzizi III in Rwanda;  and the road from Serenje to Nakonde in Zambia. The others are slated for completion  by 2025. “Once implemented,  the 16 projects are expected to significantly boost Africa’s competitiveness  and business climate,” said Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency. He added, “Trade between countries and regional cooperation are of the utmost importance when it comes to building a strong and sustainable  African economy. By encouraging regional integration,  NEPAD also helps  countries to improve their trade links, to better share their resources, and to build infrastructure that will form the foundations of vital economic diversification for development.” Following the adoption of PIDA in 2012 by the African Union Assembly, the NEPAD Agency has worked with  the  African  Union  Commission,   the  African  Development   Bank,   the  Regional   Economic Communities and key strategic partners to undertake comprehensive monitoring and evaluation of mor e than 400 PIDA Priority Action Plan projects. In June 2014, President Macky Sall of Senegal hosted the Dakar Financing Summit,  where 16 of the 400 projects were identified and endorsed for immediate implementation. The 16 mega-projects  are documented  on a dedicated map designed on the occasion of the PIDA Week. They include transport corridors, energy projects, ICT connections of the hinterland by means of optic fiber and ports. “A new consensus has taken shape in Abidjan. Various workshops  with participants from all over the continent have allowed  us to validate  key steps on the road to developing  our 16 projects. African governments,  the donor community and international investors are now defining a new paradigm that heralds a new era in Africa’s development,  based on the financing and construction of infrastructure that will unlock its economic takeoff,” Dr. Mayaki said. He added that delegates expressed interest in ensuring that the PIDA Week become a major annual event  on Africa’s development  calendar to ensure close monitoring  and evaluation  of the progress achieved. As a catalyst for African integration, the NEPAD Agency works with African nations to develop closer partnerships across borders and to cooperate more effectively with international partners. Its role was cemented in the Union’s Agenda 2063 strategy set forth in 2013. NEPAD is tasked with implementing the major development projects that will shape Africa’s future in six main areas: agriculture and food security, crosscutting topics – gender, capacity building, climate change, infrastructure, human development and governance. *APO]]>

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China contributes 2 USD million to support the establishment of the Africa’s Centre for Disease Control
November 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

H.E Mr. Erastus Mwencha H.E Mr. Erastus Mwencha[/caption] The People’s Republic of China has donated 2 USD million to the African Union Commission to support the establishment of the African Center for Disease Control (ACDC). The grant documents were signed today 13th November 2015 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa by the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E Mr. Erastus Mwencha and the Vice Minister of Commerce, H.E Mr. Qian Keming who was leading a high level Chinese delegation. H.E Mr. Mwencha, on behalf of the AUC Chairperson, H.E Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, expressed his gratitude to the People’s Republic of China for the financial support of the 2 USD million for the inception of the African CDC project and also for the donation of IT equipment to the Commission. Furthermore, the Deputy Chairperson acknowledged the strong and fruitful cooperation between Africa and china highlighting the impressive growing economic relations between China and Africa. “In 2012, the volume of trade was 198.5 USD billion and is estimated to reach 385 USD billion by end of 2015 if the current trends continue” He said. “These relations are mutually beneficial to both parties and are underscored by a sense of mutual respect. While Africa gains by the injection of technical and financial support, China also gains the access to Africa’s vast consumer market and to reserves of natural resources, which are needed to support China’s growing industrial sector.” He continued. The Deputy Chairperson also noted that since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000, it has provided a valuable platform for Africa-China dialogue on key issues of development for both parties. He appreciated the ongoing partnership in various sectors including economic cooperation, trade, industrial investments, infrastructure and aviation, with transformational benefits over the last decade has made on bilateral basis with African countries. H.E Mr. Qian Keming, Vice Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China expressed the readiness of his country to strengthen and broaden the areas of cooperation with Africa. The Vice Minister of Commerce highlighted that the Africa’s Agenda 2063 its First ten-year implementation Plan can be compared to China’s thirteenth five-year plan, which aims at boosting China’s long-term social and economic policies. He reiterated the commitment of China to fully supporting the African Union in the implementation process of Agenda 2063. He also said that the upcoming Forum on Africa-China Cooperation (FOCAC) that will take place is South Africa would be a critical step in demonstrating the will of the two partners to testify their excellent cooperation. H.E Mr. Qian Keming also said that H.E Xi Jin, President of the People’s Republic China would announce the Africa-China Cooperation for the next three years. He added that Plan would focus on development areas industrialization, infrastructure, and agriculture modernization. The discussions between the two delegations also included, among others, the regional aviation cooperation between China and Africa, the establishment of the Pan African Television and Radio and  the construction of the High Speed Train network. The 6th FOCAC will take place in December 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the margins of the Summit, the 5th Africa-China Entrepreneur Summit, the China Manufacturing Expo will be organized APO]]>

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Massey Ferguson launches new entry-level tractors and implement range for Africa and Middle East
November 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

50-85hp MF 300 Series tractors set for introduction in early 2016 fit (3)Massey Ferguson , a worldwide brand of AGCO , is introducing a new range of 50hp-85hp tractors for selected African and Middle East markets. This latest move will further strengthen its product offering in the lower horsepower tractor sector in these territories and offer a broader choice to farmers looking for a rugged and reliable multi-purpose machine. In addition, to complement these new MF 300 Series tractors, a new line of Massey Ferguson-branded implements is also being unveiled for the region. “Simple, yet powerful, the MF 300 Series tractors are tried and tested, with a strong reputation for straightforward operation and robust dependability – they are ideally-equipped to meet the tough challenges of African and Middle East agriculture,” says Thierry Lhotte, Massey Ferguson Vice-President Marketing, Europe/Africa/Middle East. “More than 1.5 million units based on this renowned design are already at work in the world.” Affordable and economical to run, these entry-level ‘do anything’ tractors will have strong appeal as the main power source for smallholder farmers or local community groups looking to mechanise or upgrade their agricultural operations. The models can also be a valuable addition to a machinery fleet on larger farms or estates requiring a cost-effective workhorse. Initially, a choice of six Massey Ferguson matched implements, covering cultivation, planting and transport, will be available for the MF 300 Series. These include a 1.6m-width disc harrow, 0.5m-width fixed-disc plough, 2-tine subsoiler, 2-row planter, 3-tonne trailer and transport box. Plans are in place to develop and expand the implement range according to market demand. “As true multi-taskers, the MF 300 Series are equally adept at cultivation, planting, transport or yard duties, working across a wide range of farm sectors including arable, livestock and horticulture,” explains Mr Lhotte. “Low cost of ownership, easy servicing and maintenance plus expert support from the Massey Ferguson local Distributor ensure a fully-sustainable and inclusive farm mechanisation package.” Consisting of six models in total, three MF 300 Series models are set for release in early 2016 – the 50hp MF 345 two-wheel-drive (2WD), 75hp MF 375 (2WD) and 85hp MF 385 (2WD and 4WD).  The longer wheelbase 50hp MF 350 (2WD), 60hp MF 355 (2WD) and 60hp MF 360 (2WD) will follow later in the year. Fuel-efficient power comes from Perkins 3-cylinder AD 3.152 and 4-cylinder AD 4.41 diesel engines. The well-proven mechanical transmission offers four gears in two ranges to provide eight forward and two reverse speeds. Powerful hydraulics are based on the renowned Ferguson hydraulic ‘Scotch Yoke’ pump delivering full draft, position and response control. Fingertip hydraulic operation of implements above or below ground is by means of the familiar quadrant control. Lift capacities at the rear linkage range from 1415-2145 kg. A dual-stage clutch ensures efficient drive- and PTO- engagement, while the oil-immersed multi-disc brakes allow safe and secure stopping. For reduced driver fatigue, the MF 350, MF 360, MF 375 and MF 385 models are fitted with power steering. The MF 300 Series tractors boast a spacious operator’s environment equipped with a spring-suspension deluxe seat.  All controls are well laid out and fall neatly to hand. Depending on the model, the tractors are available in footstep or semi-platform configuration. As part of Massey Ferguson’s global manufacturing strategy, the MF 300 Series are  being produced in Pakistan by Millat Tractors who are a long-term partner of Massey Ferguson with 50 years’ experience building MF tractors as a licensee manufacturer. Massey Ferguson engineers from the Beauvais tractor manufacturing facility in France are heavily involved in developing the MF 300 Series for the Africa and Middle East regions. In a related initiative, work has also started on the potential localisation of Massey Ferguson sub-100hp tractor assembly in Russia. “Massey Ferguson is committed to providing high-quality machinery and appropriate technology to suit all types of farm operations all over the world,” adds Thierry Lhotte. “The new MF 300 Series fits perfectly with our existing product offer in Africa and Middle East markets. The range represents a key element in our ‘three-segment tractor strategy’ in the region to provide farmers at varying stages of development with the right choice of machines across a spectrum of power and specification requirements. The MF 300 Series will now provide an entry-level product in addition to our superb, higher specification MF 400 series and brand-new MF 4700 Global Series.” *APO]]>

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Improving aid delivery and development strategy in East Africa
November 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Aid & International Development Forum Africa Summit 2016 will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia [caption id="attachment_22258" align="alignleft" width="300"]Nardos Bekele-Thomas, Resident Representative, UNDP Kenya, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system in Kenya Nardos Bekele-Thomas, Resident Representative, UNDP Kenya, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system in Kenya[/caption] More than 250 senior representatives and advisors from regional governments, UN agencies, international and regional NGOs, CBOs, investors and donors, research institutes and the private sector are going to meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the Aid & International Development Forum Africa Summit 2016 The Summit set for 2-3 February at the United Nations Conference Centre will focus on technological innovations and best practice to improve aid delivery and development strategy in East Africa. The Aid & International Development Forum has been building long-lasting partnerships between key actors in the humanitarian and development sector for over 13 years. The agenda has been developed in consultation with key organisations, such as WFP, IRFC, World Vision, USAID, UNICEF, World Bank, Save the Children, UN Habitat, CRS, FHI360, Oxfam, Habitat for Humanity International, IRD and will include case studies, panel discussions, workshops, and interactive roundtable sessions. AIDF Africa Summit 2016 will provide comprehensive overview of the latest trends around humanitarian logistics, community health, WASH, security of aid workers and communities, camp management, mobile for development, financing, communication with communities and among aid agencies. The unique event format combines high level strategic information with multiple specialist topic tracks and structured networking as well as peer-to peer round table discussions enabling full and frank sharing of views, experience and vital feedback within the community. Key speakers include:

  • Nardos Bekele-Thomas, Resident Representative, UNDP Kenya, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system in Kenya
  • Dr Chukwudozie Ezigbalike, Chief of the Data Technology Section at the Africa Centre for Statistics, UN Economic Commission for Africa
  • Dr Sharad Sapra, Director of Global Innovation Centre, UNICEF
  • Christopher Hoffman, Regional Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Director (RHEAD), World Vision (Kenya)
  • Rishi Ramrakha, Head of Zone Logistics Unit, Africa, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
  • *APO
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Samuel Eto’o brings health promotion messages to West Africa
November 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

SE-1-255x300A FIFA delegation led by FIFA Chief Medical Officer Prof. Jiří Dvořák and supported by Cameroonian superstar Samuel Eto’o has just completed a visit to Sierra Leone and Ghana to experience first-hand the progress of FIFA’s health campaigns. One year after the emergency campaign “11 against Ebola” was launched in West Africa at the peak of the Ebola epidemic, FIFA is now introducing its longer-term health promotion campaign, “FIFA 11 for Health”, in Sierra Leone. The timing of the visit could not have been more symbolic with only three days to go until the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declares Sierra Leone Ebola‑free on 6 November 2015. Known for his social engagement and strong commitment to the African continent, Samuel Eto’o took the opportunity during his visit to Sierra Leone and Ghana to interact with vulnerable communities, especially children affected by the Ebola epidemic. As well as visiting the Grafton orphanage in Freetown, which takes care of very young children who have lost their entire families to the Ebola virus, Eto’o also went in to local schools in Sierra Leone and Ghana to communicate and promote the “FIFA 11 for Health” messages. fifa-11-5The four-time African footballer of the year was one of the first players to support the “FIFA 11 for Health” programme , which harnesses the power of football and scientific research to inspire girls and boys to lead healthy lifestyles. The programme seeks to improve children’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviour around vital health issues such as HIV, TB, malaria, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. It has been a success in more than 20 countries around the world since its introduction ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. After visiting several health projects in Freetown and Accra, Samuel Eto’o said: “I’m excited to be home in Africa and proud to see what my brothers in Sierra Leone have achieved in successfully fighting against the Ebola virus. Health is the most important thing in life, with health and a strong dream you can achieve anything in life. Football has an important role to play in educating young girls and boys to live a healthy lifestyle.” *FIFA/APO]]>

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Diack – Africa's powerbroker in world sport
November 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

Then-IAAF president Lamine Diack, pictured on August 20, 2015, led the International Athletics Associations Federation during a huge boom in its revenues (AFP Photo/Greg Baker) Then-IAAF president Lamine Diack, pictured on August 20, 2015, led the International Athletics Associations Federation during a huge boom in its revenues (AFP Photo/Greg Baker)[/caption] Dakar (AFP) – Lamine Diack was the first non-European president of the world governing body of athletics, the cornerstone Olympic sport now at the centre of a corruption and doping storm.

Diack, a former long jumper, football coach and then businessman and politician, led the International Athletics Associations Federation during a huge boom in its revenues. He was warned about his own financial conduct as well.

The IAAF earned more than $1.3 billion (one billion euros) from the time the Senegalese official took over as president in 1999 to the time he handed over, aged 82, to British running legend Sebastian Coe in August.

The federation has reserves of about $65 million (60 million euros).

Doping has been a continual stain on athletics over the past 30 years. Now tainted by accusations that he took bribes to cover up doping cases, Diack told AFP in an interview in August that athletics led the “crusade to have a clean sport”.

“When confronted with painful issues such as doping the IAAF has always stood firm and we continue to lead the way in this global fight against cheating,” Diack insisted on the sidelines of an IAAF Congress in Beijing.

Born in Dakar on June 7, 1933, Diack started his sporting career as a long jumper, winning the French athletics championships title in 1958. A knee injury prevented him from competing in the 1960 Olympics, however.

He was also a footballer and was technical director of Senegal’s national team from 1966 to 1969.

Diack also became head of Senegal’s Olympic Committee, mayor of Dakar, a lawmaker and was head of the West African country’s national water company before taking over as head of the IAAF following the sudden death of its previous president Primo Nebiolo. The African power-broker said he had played a key role in globalising athletics. He had previous brushes with scandal before the new charges. Diack and FIFA’s current interim leader Issa Hayatou both received warnings from the International Olympic Committee in 2011 over cash payments they received from International Sport and Leisure (ISL), a marketing company whose collapse caused a major scandal for football’s governing body. Diack told the IOC he received payments totalling about $35,000 from ISL. At the time, the IAAF was negotiating a marketing contract with ISL. Diack had “placed himself in a conflict of interest situation”, the IOC said.

His son, Pape Massata Diack, left the IAAF in December last year over allegations that he was involved in covering up Russian doping scandals.

Before leaving office, Diack said that the media was turning athletics into a “monster.”

“The IAAF completely understands the importance of credibility in competition. I have said on many occasions that when the day comes where we no longer can believe what we see then sport is dead.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Anzisha Prize announces esteemed judging panel for 2015 African youth entrepreneurship award
November 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Heba Gamal (EG), Sangu Delle (GH), Willy Mukiny Yav (DRC), George Bakka (UG) will be deliberating which of the Anzisha finalists walk away with a sum of $75,000 in prizes [caption id="attachment_22099" align="alignleft" width="300"]Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs[/caption] The Anzisha Prize  is pleased to announce a diverse, experienced and representative judging panel for the 2015 Anzisha Prize award for African youth entrepreneurs. The Prize has invited a panel of four experienced professionals from the both the business and social sectors who represent a holistic view of contributors to the dialogue around youth entrepreneurship in Africa. The judges’ experience stems from a diverse knowledge and experience base. The panel includes entrepreneurs at both an established and scaling stage, leaders from social and business sectors, contributors to the African business dialogue through media, and represents a cultural diversity that is relevant to and mirrors the youth entrepreneurs that they will be assessing. The finalists for the Anzisha Prize will pitch their ventures to the judges on Monday 16 November. The panel will consider each project on its own merits in responsiveness to a market opportunity or social need, ingenuity, scalability and impact. The grand prize-winner will be announced at a prestigious awards ceremony on Tuesday 17 November at Room Five in Rivonia, Johannesburg, South Africa. “It is essential that we encourage conversation and deliberation on the potential for youth to impact African economies through entrepreneurship in a multifaceted dialogue with cross-sector, cross-continent, cross-cultural contribution,” says Grace Kalisha, Senior Manager for the Anzisha Prize. “We are pleased and encouraged that such an esteemed panel would engage critically with our finalists for the Anzisha Prize this year.” The 2015 Anzisha Prize Awards Judges are: Heba Gamal, based in Egypt, an entrepreneurship and technology expert. She is the Managing Director of Endeavor Egypt, a non-profit organization focused on supporting high-impact entrepreneurs. Prior to Endeavor, Heba was managing search quality for the Middle East & North Africa at Google, Inc. Her international expertise spans Silicon Valley, India, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Heba has been a speaker at various conferences and summits about entrepreneurship, technology and women in leadership. The Anzisha prize welcomes her contribution to this year’s panel due to her social entrepreneurship focus, strong advocacy for the role of women in business, and North Africa experience. Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group. He has 21 years’ experience in communications specialising in African Markets. Having developed excellent high-level contacts within Africa, over the past 22 years, Willy has used these to become involved in developing numerous ventures in Africa. As a consequence he has expertise in modus operandi and business practice in both French and English speaking Africa and further developed a network of contacts in the upper political, business and social echelons.  Willy served as a judge for Anzisha in 2014 and enabled clear understanding of the francophone ventures for fair assessment. Sangu Delle, Ghanaian, will be contributing to the Anzisha judging conversation as an established entrepreneur who dedicates his time and energies to enabling other entrepreneurs.  Sangu is an entrepreneur, author, clean water activist, Soros Fellow and TEDGlobal Fellow. He is the Founder and Chief [caption id="attachment_22100" align="alignright" width="300"]Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group Willy Mukiny Yav, Congolese, Co-founder and Director of Pygma Group[/caption] Executive Officer of Golden Palm Investments (GPI); an investment holding and advisory company focused on building world class companies in Africa.  GPI operates companies in high growth industries and funds promising start-ups that can have social impact and generate jobs. GPI has backed startups such as SOLO Mobile in Nigeria, mPharma in Ghana and Stawi Foods in Kenya. George Bakka, Ugandan, is an Anzisha Fellow, inducted into the inaugural cohort of the Fellowship in 2011. As a scaling and widely celebrated youth entrepreneur, he epitomizes the journey that the finalists are embarking on. George is the Founder & CEO of Angels Initiatives. He is a serial pan-African entrepreneur passionate about building solutions and companies that catalyze growth in Africa. Some of the companies he has started include Angels Hub and Unreasonable EastAfrica. In addition to being an Anzisha Fellow, he is also an Acumen and Educate Fellow. The 12 finalists for Anzisha Prize were selected from an impressive initial pool of 494 young entrepreneurs, up from 339 applications in 2014. The Anzisha Prize is proud to have attracted applicants from 33 African countries, with finalists from Zimbabwe and Ethiopia identified for the first time this year. Applications were also received from a diversity of sectors, with agriculture having the most applicants. Now in its fifth year, The Anzisha Prize will be celebrating these outstanding young people during Global Entrepreneurship Week joining the worldwide festivities. Finalists for the Anzisha Prize win a share of US$75,000 and access to ongoing support to scale their enterprises and expand their impact. The Anzisha Prize team is running a social media campaign where members of the public can vote for their favourite entrepreneur and offer words of support and encouragement on the Anzisha website  and on Facebook. An award will be given to the finalist receiving the largest number of votes. The goal is to support them on their Anzisha journey and share their success stories with other youth.   The Anzisha Prize is delivered by African Leadership Academy in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Through the Anzisha Prize, the organisers seek to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship among youth across the continent. African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of entrepreneurial leaders who will work together to achieve extraordinary social impact. Each year, ALA brings together the most promising young leaders from all 54 African nations for a pre-university program in South Africa with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. ALA continues to cultivate these leaders throughout their lives, in university and beyond, by providing on-going leadership and entrepreneurial training and connecting them to high-impact networks of people and capital that can catalyse large-scale change. The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. *APO]]>

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African army gears up for crisis intervention
October 31, 2015 | 0 Comments

An African army that can quickly respond to crises on the continent is about to become a reality, 13 years after its conception.

[caption id="attachment_22028" align="alignleft" width="660"]An African army that can quickly respond to crises on the continent is about to become a reality, 13 years after its conception. An African army that can quickly respond to crises on the continent is about to become a reality, 13 years after its conception.[/caption] From January 2016, the African Standby Force (ASF) will be able to intervene in cases of war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity if an African Union member state requests assistance or if the AU itself considers the situation serious enough. It will also be able to provide humanitarian assistance and undertake peacekeeping and observer missions, although any deployment would be subject to donor funding. This multidisciplinary force will be made up of five brigades – each with police, military and civilian components that could be deployed within 14 days in their own regions. The Cameroonian city of Douala will host the logistics base, where equipment will be stored, but the ultimate power remains in Addis Ababa, at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital. The force was initially expected to be ready by 2008, but AU members have dragged their feet over its creation. It was part of Muammar Gaddafi’s vision for his United States of Africa. Regardless of the late Libyan leader’s intentions, it was clear that the continent needed an improved response to its continuous conflicts. At the moment, 5,000 troops from around the continent are taking part in an ASF field training exercise in South Africa to help evaluate how ready the force is to deploy. The number of personnel is expected to rise to 25,000 by the time the force is operational in January. But Africa does have experience in mounting special response operations, and has already begun taking responsibility for its own peacekeeping, even providing most of the troops in the UN missions on the continent – more than 8,000 troops from Ethiopia alone. Under the AU’s own auspices, South African troops were deployed to Burundi in 2001 to oversee a peace process, while in 2008 Tanzanian-led forces quelled a rebel uprising in the Comoros. “There’s been a positive experience of African contributions to keeping peace on the continent,” says Peter Pham, director of the Africa Centre of the Atlantic Council.

Fighting Islamist militancy

The nature of conflict has evolved from being primarily armed intra-state conflicts – mostly rebel groups fighting for control of natural resources or to topple governments – to the increasing threat of Islamist militants. It means that the role of the intervention forces has also changed from traditional peacekeeping to engaging in active combat like the AU troops fighting al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia. The force which has grown from initial deployment of 8,000 troops in 2007 to more than 22,000 has managed to recapture all major towns and cities from al-Shabab. This change strengthens the cause of the ASF, says Ben Payton from the risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft. “The rise of cross-border terrorist campaigns in Africa potentially increases the usefulness of the standby force, since African governments will be more willing to use the force to counter what is seen as a common threat.” [caption id="attachment_22029" align="alignright" width="624"]The force will be ready to be deployed on a mission within 14 days The force will be ready to be deployed on a mission within 14 days[/caption] The 2012 crisis in Mali presented a good example of where the ASF could have intervened but the initial poor response by African nations meant France stepped in to drive away the Islamist militants. With the escalation of violence by the Boko Haram group in areas bordering north-eastern Nigeria – the insurgents’ base – yet another AU-backed multinational force was created. This one took seven months to become operational – and is still not fully funded. The existence of the ASF would eliminate the need to set up a fresh force for every conflict. While the troops should be in place, the force still faces several issues. The biggest one is funding – the AU says it still needs $1bn (£650m) to properly finance the force. Without donor support it will be difficult for a mission to actually be deployed. [caption id="attachment_22030" align="alignleft" width="624"]Air power is one of the weaknesses of the force Air power is one of the weaknesses of the force[/caption] Home-grown financing could prove a problem, especially as countries with larger budgets might prefer to invest in countering their own domestic threats rather than contributing to a force they have little control over. Militarily there are weaknesses too – air power and solid intelligence gathering are poor across the continent. “The concept of specialisation has largely not occurred in Africa,” says Mr Pham. “For example, it’s harder to co-ordinate infantry brigades from five different countries that are trained to do the same thing, than having five different units that do five different tasks that learn to operate together and complement each other. “The latter is more efficient in terms of resources and operation.” Some of the contributing nations also have armed forces that lack training, equipment and discipline. Another major challenge is that of political will – getting a timely reaction from AU member states when a crisis erupts. An ASF intervention also has to come with the approval of the UN Security Council, which could further delay the response. Despite these hurdles, come January, the AU member states do not have much holding them back should troops need to be deployed to trouble spots speedily. *Source BBC]]>

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Bamboo Finance and Louis Dreyfus Holding Launch Impact Investment Fund NISABA, Focusing on Agribusiness in Sub-Saharan Africa
October 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Combining agribusiness and impact-investing expertise with long-term capital to increase capacity, promote more equitable value chain development, foster innovation and streamline distribution for smallholder farmers and their communities [caption id="attachment_21981" align="alignleft" width="300"]Nisaba, Impact Investment Fund for Agribusiness in Sub-Saharan Africa Nisaba, Impact Investment Fund for Agribusiness in Sub-Saharan Africa[/caption] Bamboo Finance, a private equity firm specializing in investing in business models that benefit low-income communities in developing economies and Louis Dreyfus Holding, which owns a controlling stake in leading global agribusiness Louis Dreyfus Commodities, announced today a partnership to launch and jointly manage NISABA, a US$50 million impact investment fund project with a focus on small- and medium-sized agribusiness enterprises (SMEs) in Sub-Saharan Africa. As project sponsor, Louis Dreyfus Holding will invest US$10 million to seed NISABA. “We are excited to apply an integrated investment approach with a vast network of local expertise for the benefit of smallholder farmers and their communities, while demonstrating the value of impact investing,” said Bamboo Finance CEO, Jean-Philippe de Schrevel. “This is a pioneer partnership that will merge multinational sector expertise with access to finance and impact investment know-how, in order to actively co-manage investments from pipeline to exit. This type of active collaboration represents an important milestone in the field of impact investing”. “Agribusiness development is at the crossroads of major challenges for Africa. With an estimated population of 2 billion by 2050, and 330 million young Africans expected to enter the labor market by 2025, global agricultural production is not keeping pace with population growth. We believe that through appropriate financing tools like impact investing, the private sector must take an active role in addressing such challenges,” said Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, Chairperson of Louis Dreyfus Holding. NISABA will target a balanced portfolio of countries, activities and commodities, and will invest in financing gaps across the agribusiness value chain in growth markets. The focus will be on SMEs that combine social, environmental and financial returns by improving efficiency through access to data, finance and risk mitigation, training and technology innovation; strengthening market access by linking producers to end-consumers; and building local capacity through post-harvest handling and storage, value-addition or processing solutions, among others. More information is available on nisabafund.com Through its controlling stake in Louis Dreyfus Commodities, Louis Dreyfus Holding has a 164-year-old global presence in the agribusiness sector, with expertise in a wide range of commodities, participation in various diversified businesses and a strong presence in Africa. The SME agribusiness sector in Sub-Saharan Africa represents untapped potential for investors and smallholder farmers alike to foster sustainable and inclusive economic development, while capturing the value of early-stage growth. *APO]]>

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India to Africa: We're not China
October 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

Over 2,000 African delegates are in India this week for the third annual summit between India and China. What’s on the agenda? By Maddy Crowell*

IndoAfricaSummitIndoAfricaSummitThursday will mark Africa and India’s third annual summit – with over 2,000 African delegates from over 54 countries arriving in New Delhi to meet with the Indian Parliament. The agenda includes helping Africa combat rising terrorist threats, food, health, environmental sustainability, and economic trade. Oh, and China.

In recent years, India has made strenuous efforts to amplify its presence in Africa. Since Indiaopened its markets to all least developed countries in 2008 and Indian-African trade now totals roughly $7.8 billion a year.

But the numbers don’t come anywhere close to those racked up by China: In the past four years, China has doubled its trade with Africa to nearly $222 billion in 2014, importing 1.3 million barrels of crude oil a day in from Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Sudan, and the Republic of the Congo.

The Indian government, however, is working hard to distinguish itself from its Chinese neighbors. When asked by African journalists whether India was trying to compete with China, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shrugged off the question.

This is a relationship that is beyond strategic considerations. It is a relationship with a strong emotional link. It has been forged by our intersecting history; our centuries-old ties of kinship, commerce and culture; our common struggle against colonialism; our quest for equality, dignity and justice among all people; and, our shared aspirations for our progress and a voice in the world,” Mr. Modi said, adding, “Our relationship with Africa is unique and does not need any point of reference.”

In recent years, India has crafted a new image in Africa. India has built solar panel plants in Mozambique, increased trade in Ghana, helped Cameroon fight off the Boko Haram, and built highways and sugar plantations in Ethiopia.

In addition, India is a major exporter of pharmaceuticals and motor vehicles to African countries, and imports a significant amount of crude oil, coal, gold and gemstones from Africa. But this year’s summit includes a new line of requests from African countries: managing livestock in South Sudan, reconstructing an island destroyed by a volcanic eruption in Cape Verde, and more help in controlling Boko Haram’s presence in Cameroon.

India isn’t the only country with an eye on China’s presence in Africa: President Obama has also made attempts to encourage stronger trade relations between the US and Africa. In April this year, China surpassed the United States as a trading partner. In a four-day visit to Ethiopia last April, President Obama offered the US as an alternative trading partner – while taking some digs at the ways in which China has forged its own bonds with the continent. “Economic relationships can’t simply be about building countries’ infrastructure with foreign labor or extracting Africa’s natural resources,” Mr. Obama said. “Real economic partnerships have to be a good deal for Africa. They have to create jobs and capacity for Africans.” Whether this year’s summit will do much to change China’s growing presence in Africa is unlikely, but it’s a step in a new direction for India and Africa. As Modi reminded, Africa and India are bonded by something China can’t touch: a colonial legacy.

Africa does not need any lessons from us. The colonial legacy left a long and deep impact on all of us. Africa, too, has passed through difficult times. However, Africa is making impressive progress now,” Modi said, later adding, “India has emerged as a major investor from the developing world in Africa, surpassing even China.”

*Source Christian Science Monitor/Yahoo]]>

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Off-grid solar power is gathering steam in Africa, what's next?
October 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Adva Saldinger* [caption id="attachment_21926" align="alignleft" width="616"]Elizabeth Mukwimba, an M-Power Off Grid Electric customer in Tanzania. With increased investment, cheaper products and innovative business models, solar is not only on the rise, but could transform the way the African continent is powered. Photo by: Russell Watkins / U.K. Department for International Development / CC BY Elizabeth Mukwimba, an M-Power Off Grid Electric customer in Tanzania. With increased investment, cheaper products and innovative business models, solar is not only on the rise, but could transform the way the African continent is powered. Photo by: Russell Watkins / U.K. Department for International Development / CC BY[/caption] For years solar seemed like a potential solution for millions without access to electricity in Africa, but high costs and slow technology left it largely out of reach. In the past few years, however, that has changed. With increased investment, cheaper products and innovative business models, solar is not only on the rise, but could transform the way the continent is powered. It will be used to boost economic activity as businesses stay open late and students are able to study after dark, but it may also be used for unexpected purposes such as lighting a goat hut to keep prized animals safe from predators. And this growth is being driven by private companies who look at the 600 million people in Africa, or the 1.3 billion people in the world who lack access to power and see the vast market opportunity. “Energy access and infrastructure are fundamental to eliminating poverty and improving people’s lives,” said Russell Sturm, global head for energy access at International Finance Corp. Advisory Solutions. “Building an electric grid and having centralized power is untenable for much of the world — particularly Africa.” It’s a sentiment that seems to be echoed more widely these days. And there are examples across the spectrum — from inexpensive solar lanterns, to home solar systems, to microgrids or commercial-scale projects. Just in the past week the U.S. government announced millions of dollars in new commitment to off-grid solar and the U.K.’s Department for International Development launched a new Energy Africa initiative. And this week the off-grid solar industry is gathered for the 4th International Off-Grid Lighting Conference, organized by the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association.

Incredible progress

What’s helped create this progress is a mix of factors: technology costs have dropped making pricing more competitive, investment has increased and, in some cases, governments have created favorable environments for progress. When IFC first began working to explore solar technology 15 or 20 years ago, home solar systems cost $500 to $1,000, which even with the most creating leasing model was still unaffordable to those living on less than $2 a day. But between 2000 and 2013 the efficiency of these systems improved by about 10,000 percent and the costs of batteries, LED lights, and photovoltaic cells, all dropped more than 80 percent, according to Sturm. LED lights, along with an an emerging set of appliances, are also dramatically more efficient. This means the same 40 watt solar panel that 10 years ago could power one 25 watt light bulb can today power four LED lights, a color tv, a phone charger and a radio. As those prices went down and efficiency went up, a market opportunity emerged. If only those products could be marketed in a way that competed with products people were using (which in most cases were kerosene or battery-powered flashlights). That’s where some early funding from the development industry helped — IFC started working on setting quality standards, providing market intelligence, business assistance and education programs for consumers.

Dynamic developments

Several years ago innovation really started around solar lanterns and donor darlings liked.light drew attention and funding. While some might dismiss these solar lanterns — Sturm describes them as “underappreciated” — they are an important “first rung on the energy ladder,” he said. From solar lanterns, consumers can step up to home solar panels or to microgrids, though their set up has proven more complex. “What we see is governments slowly picking up that there is more to access than grid extension,” said Koen Peters, executive director of the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association. “The market is developing in a very dynamic way.” And this shift on the part of local governments — perhaps too for donor governments — has led to a slew of recent announcements and commitments designed to bring more funding and attention to the industry. Several of these new investments by the U.S. government fall under the Power Africa Initiative, which with these announcements and other funding, is clearly now going to support solar, off-grid power. That’s a big of a departure from the early days of the initiative. While the launch of Power Africa included included both megawatt and access targets, many of the early announcements focused on large-scale, grid-connected generation. “What I think has happened is there has been a maturity of business models for OPIC to credibly finance,” said John Morton, the Overseas Private Investment Corp’s chief operating officer. “We want to grow the access piece of our portfolio.”

Business models

While all those advancements in technology and plunging costs have opened up the market, what’s making it possible and leading to exponential growth for some companies is the innovation around business models. Companies like M-KOPA Solar, which installs home solar systems and hit 250,000 sales in September, uses a pay-as-you-go system integrated with the M-pesa mobile money platform. This allows customers to sell solar power on a monthly, daily, weekly or even hourly basis. The model seems to be working — the company had 60,000 customers in April 2014 — so there is a fast pace of growth. In Tanzania, Off Grid Electric — which guarantees service for the lifetime of the product and operates a 24/7 call center to respond to customer needs — has deployed a leasing model and is adding 10,000 customers a month. The company estimates that 80 percent of the Tanzanian population could be potential customers and that their pricing is not only competitive with kerosene and phone charging, but is possible even for those living on less than $2 a day. The company is now in its 10th cohort and recently expanded to a large new office building in Arusha, Tanzania. This was in part to house the Off Grid Academy: as they started building their workforce they recognized a need for more skilled employees, so they built one in-house and around 500 people have been hired through the training program.   https://youtu.be/Cw3vNViw20A     “We’re hoping gather support around that, because it’s quite new to business,” said Jessica Eastling, business development manager at Off Grid Electric, adding that they are still working to improve it and get it right. There are also many others, though most of the early success stories are coming from East Africa, which according to Peters is in part due to demographics but also as a result of market conditions. The pervasiveness of mobile money systems has made business models easier to develop. Nova Lumos, which just received a $15 million loan from OPIC to finance its expansion, is one of the companies testing the waters in West Africa. The company works in Nigeria for a fairly simple reason — it’s the largest market in Africa. But what’s needed in the Nigerian market is somewhat different than the smaller home solar systems that have been succeeding in East Africa. Many potential consumers in Nigeria use diesel-powered generators instead of kerosene and have greater power needs. The Nova Lumos system provides the added capacity — it uses bigger panels — and the company has set up a unique arrangement with the country’s largest mobile network operator MTN. The systems are shipped directly to MTN storefronts and are sold through its existing distribution networks, with marketing also done by MTN. In a country where mobile payments aren’t often used, Nova Lumos is allowing consumers to use phone credit to pay for electricity.

Looking forward

The industry is still young and the market opportunity is massive. That means that issues of financing, ensuring quality standards, developing metrics and enabling scale all need to be on the agenda. And they are at the GOGLA conference. Financing, particularly debt financing and working capital financing will be important. Many of the companies operating today need to reinvent their business models repeatedly in order to grow. “This sector is growing but is not fully commercial yet … [they] still need public sector support,” Peters said. “They don’t necessarily need subsidies anymore but they do need the public sector to help mobilize investment and build capacity.” Nir Marom, Nova Lumos co-founder, said that the OPIC investment is important, not just for the money but as a commitment to prove that debt investments in the space can be successful. “Estimates are that the market is millions, you can’t do that without debt,” he said. Similarly, companies — particularly in the solar lantern sector — are hamstrung by their ability to get access to working capital, Sturm said. In fact, sales of quality-verified solar products were flat based on a June year-on-year comparison. So what’s the problem? It’s not growth. There is money out there from investors, especially for the frontrunners who have shown they can deliver returns, but what’s been lagging is working capital. For companies that rely on cash sales and are selling devices to retailers it’s a critical component to operating and growing business. Companies have told Sturm they expect they could continue on the path they were on a year ago with 100 percent year-on-year growth if they had working capital. IFC is working to help leverage additional financing, in part through its $10 million investment in ResponsAbility’s Energy Access working capital debt fund. The World Bank Group member would like to invest more in this area, according to Sturm, and is interested in working with local banks to create new types of financing to support customers who want to buy these products. Government regulations can have a big impact on market growth. Countries that are not corrupt, have supportive business environments, don’t have a high kerosene subsidy, generally have low tariffs and import fees, and decent infrastructure will be the most appealing. Working with countries to change bad policies and encourage favorable ones will help future industry growth. As an industry association GOGLA is also working to identify minimum quality standards and will look for ways to hold those not in compliance accountable. IFC has been working on quality assurance for years and has worked to build its quality-verified system, which can be and is used as a benchmark, particularly for products like solar lanterns. Having standardized measurement, particularly of social impact, will help get all companies on the same page when it comes to reporting. It’s an issue also likely to be discussed at this week’s meeting. And while innovation may happen at a slower place, there’s plenty of room for more — particularly in products and appliances like low-watt televisions and fans that consumers are demanding. Because as people gain access to electricity they tend to want to move up the energy access ladder pretty quickly. So making that affordable, and providing the finance and the business models to make it happen, will be important. *Source Devex.To read additional content on innovation, go to Focus On: Innovation in partnership with Philips.]]>

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India hosts biggest Africa summit; plays catchup with China
October 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the inauguration of the 46th session of Indian Labour Conference in New Delhi, India, July 20, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the inauguration of the 46th session of Indian Labour Conference in New Delhi, India, July 20, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi[/caption]

India hosts its biggest-ever Africa summit this week as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to challenge China’s dominance on a continent that is blessed with vast natural resources and has the world’s fastest-growing population.

New Delhi wants to project its soft power and historical ties to Africa, in contrast to China’s focus on resource extraction and capital investment that has sparked a backlash in some countries against Beijing’s mercantilist expansion.

Of the 54 countries invited, the hosts expect more than 40 to be represented by their heads of state and government who, after a series of ministerial meetings, will hold a full summit on Thursday.

India’s trading ties with Africa date back to antiquity and both found common cause in the struggle against colonial rule. Yet India’s influence faded over the course of the Cold War as it withdrew into non-aligned isolation.

Now Modi, self-styled chief salesman of a “Make in India” export drive, wants to capitalise on an economic slowdown in China to highlight India as an alternative partner for trade and investment.

“India is the fastest-growing major economy. Africa is experiencing rapid growth too,” Modi told African journalists on the eve of the summit.

Although India’s headline economic growth has overtaken China’s, its economy is one-fifth the size and it lacks the financial heft to challenge Beijing in a head-to-head contest for the African market.

“We can’t match the Chinese in terms of resources – but any engagement we do with the Africans at least gives them a choice,” said C. Raja Mohan, a foreign policy commentator at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

The India-Africa Forum Summit is the third of its kind and, since the first was held in 2008, two-way annual trade has more than doubled to $72 billion.

That lags trade between China and Africa, which has exploded to $200 billion as the world’s No.2 economy sucks in oil, coal and metals to feed its industrial machine.

The world’s largest democracy has been criticised by human rights groups for inviting Omar al-Bashir, the president of oil-rich Sudan wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur. EXPLOITATION AND EXTRACTION For India, business comes first.

State-run oil company ONGC (ONGC.NS), which has fields in Sudan and South Sudan, is on the hunt to buy $12 billion in foreign assets over the next three years and has identified Africa as an investment target.

India is also in talks with South Africa to buy coal mines producing up to 90 million tonnes of coking coal each year to feed its growing steel industry. South Africa is already a major coal supplier to India.

Still, India wants its involvement in Africa to be less transactional than China’s, seeking a development partnership for two regions that account for a third of the world’s people, but seven in 10 of those living in poverty. “Our partnership is not focused on an exploitative or extraction point of view, but is one that focuses on Africa’s needs and India’s strengths,” said Vikas Swarup, spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

Trade ministers from India and Africa are looking to make common cause at a World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Nairobi next month, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Although India dropped its veto against a WTO deal to streamline customs procedures a year ago, it remains uneasy over Western pressure on food stockpiling it says is vital to ensure its 1.25 billion people don’t go hungry.

“India and Africa are on the same page,” Sitharaman told reporters.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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The few known knowns about US drone policy in Africa
October 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

by *

The US military says it only has a “small footprint” in Africa, but leaks and investigations reveal a sprawling network of operations and drone bases.

 

An unmanned Reaper drone comes in to land. Photograph by Fg Off Owen Cheverton/Defence Images.

An unmanned Reaper drone comes in to land. Photograph by Fg Off Owen Cheverton/Defence Images.

On 15 October, documents leaked from a study conducted by a unit of the US Pentagon revealed that Washington has been expanding its shadow war against terrorism in Africa.

The papers, obtained and published by The Intercept, were leaked by a whistleblower. Amongst other things, they reveal details about the operations of a secretive unit known as Task Force 48-4 between 2011 and 2013.

The leaked documents give some insight into secret US military policy and drone operations in Africa. Meanwhile investigations by media and other organisations over the past few years have revealed a little more. There’s still a lot we don’t know, but here’s some of what we do.

How extensive are AFRICOM’s operations in Africa?

Managed by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), there are approximately 5,000 to 8,000 US forces on the ground across the continent, according to a 2014 New York Times report.

AFRICOM was unable to verify how many or where its African operations are located, when asked by the Intercept. But media reports and the leaked information suggest the US military could have at least 14 drone bases across the continent, spread over 10 countries.

AFRICOM has said it only has a “small footprint” in Africa, but it has conducted operations to support other missions in recent years, such as in the Central African Republic, Mali, and in pursuit of the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda and the surrounding region. Furthermore, on 14 October, President Barack Obamaauthorised the deployment of 300 troops to Cameroon to fight Boko Haram. The US Army also engages in joint military exercises with several countries across the continent. According to investigative journalist Nick Turse, the US carried out 674 military operations in Africa of one sort or another – “from drone strikes to counterinsurgency instruction, intelligence gathering to marksmanship training” – in 2014 alone.

Where are the US drone bases located?

AFRICOM seems to operate based on a hub-and-spoke approach, with Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier, the only official permanent US base in Africa, at its core. The recently leaked documents suggest that the Djiboutian base was home to 14 drones and 16 surveillance and fighter aircrafts in 2012. And according to a Washington Post report from that time, 16 drones were taking off or landing from the camp each day. There is another large base in Chabelley, Djibouti, where 10 drones are permanently stationed.

Camp Lemonnier serves as the nerve centre of a sprawling network of multi-country and multi-city operations, mainly across East Africa. But in addition to Djibouti, there is also a strong presence in other countries in the region.

There are at least two drone outposts in Somalia – one in the key port city of Kismayo and another in the town of Baledogle near the capital Mogadishu – according to a 2015 report by Foreign Policy. According to an investigation by The Nation meanwhile, the CIA operates a third base out of Mogadishu International Airport.

In Kenya, there are believed to be two bases for operations. One is located in Manda Bay, Lamu Island, while the capital Nairobi is understood to host the main East African branch of Task Force 48-4.

The leaked documents also suggested that two drones, one Predator and one Reaper, are operated by American contractors from Ethiopia’s Arba Minch outpost.

Other African countries where there are drone outposts span across the continent, from Niger and Burkina Faso in West Africa; across to Cameroon and Chad in Central Africa; through to Uganda amongst those other key countries in the East; and then the Seychelles and ships in the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, 29 African international airports have refuelling agreements with the US military.

Who is being targeted by drones?

US military policy in Africa seems to be primarily targeted around the Horn of Africa and in particular Somalia where the Islamist militants al-Shabaab operate.

Data collected from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism of attacks in Somalia estimates that since 2007, there have been 15-19 drone attacks in the country, killing up to 108 people. Secret missions have been ongoing since 2001, and the most recent drone attack occurred on 15 July, 2015.

Little is known officially about who has been killed by the US drones program in Africa. But the leaks reveal that in January 2012, Bilal el-Berjawi, a British-Lebanese man was killed in Somalia by the covert special operations unit. He had been on the US ‘kill list’, and according to the leaked documents, was being monitored for at least five years during his travels between London and Somalia.

Previous reports indicate that the US used secret drone strikes in Somalia as early as 2007 when a missile targeted a convoy carrying Aden Hashi Ayro, an Al-Qaeda operative. He was not killed during the attack, but died a year later in a different US attack.

Is Africa the new playground for drones?

It seems so. Apart from the US, there has also been a proliferation in the use of drones by various African governments. For instance, in January, a crashed Chinese-made armed drone was found in a village in northeastern Nigeria. It is suspected that it was being used by the Nigerian military.

In February, the US outlined a new policy for the sale of military drones to other countries, stressing the need for sale in accordance with American “values and international standards” and in compliance with international law. While these rules will still require export to be determined on a case-by-case basis, it opens the door to more widespread sales.

Other countries, such as the UK, France, Israel and Pakistan also manufacture drones or have used drone strikes, although (as far as we know) not on the African continent.

Do drone strikes work?

The most common argument made in favour for drones is that they are precise and targeted. Yet the leaked Pentagon study on strikes in Afghanistan indicates that between January and February 2012, only 35 of over 200 people killed were “jackpots” – i.e. the people actually being targeted.

Rights groups have expressed concern that these attacks might constitute extrajudicial killings or war crimes. At a minimum, they are a denial of justice. Further, these attacks are often taken without the consent of the target country, which is a breach of sovereignty.

Until governments conduct independent and open investigations, the details and scope of the US African drone programme will continue to remain scant, and justice for victims unlikely. We do not know much, but what we do know is of great concern.

*Source African Arguments.Anjli Parrin is a Kenyan journalist. Modupe Odele is a Nigerian lawyer. Both authors are at Columbia Law School, where they work at the Human Rights Clinic.

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New media technologies and political participation in Africa
October 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Sarah Chiumbu*

The euphoria concerning the potential of new technologies to transform society and increase democracy is based on a flawed instrumentalist assumption that technologies by themselves have transformative power, but ICT access and online political deliberation or activism in sub-Saharan Africa cannot automatically be interpreted as a sign of deepening democracy and accountability

[caption id="attachment_21714" align="alignleft" width="586"]Ushahidi Liberia’s election monitoring map. Image: Ushahidi Ushahidi Liberia’s election
monitoring map. Image: Ushahidi[/caption] When a paper on new media and social protests in South Africa was presented at a roundtable seminar at the University of Witwatersrand in 2011, the familiar, almost inevitable view was raised that Africans’ use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is still low compared to other regions due to the “digital divide”. In response, one panellist stood up and said: “Yes, it is true that the digital divide exists in Africa – but we also know that millions of people on the continent are connected to the internet and social media platforms. Our attention should then be drawn to consider how these millions are using new technologies. We cannot run away from the real presence of ICTs in sub-Saharan Africa.” Indeed, Africa is connected. Recent statistics show that 26 percent of the population used the internet by the end of 2014. As for mobile phones, “[a] report by Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson said that mobile subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa were set to surpass 635 million by the end of 2014 – a figure ‘predicted to rise to around 930 million by the end of 2019.’” There is no doubt that digital technologies have contributed to a dramatic shift that has empowered individuals and non-state actors on an unprecedented scale. Characteristically networkable, dense, compressible and interactive, ICTs provide (in theory) greater opportunities for political participation and engagement than do the traditional mass media. We have seen new media technologies open up civic engagement across the globe, albeit with tensions and contradictions.   In Africa, political participation and civic engagement have been restricted by both colonial and postcolonial political and socio-economic realities. The “public sphere” and media systems under colonialism were restrictive and exclusionary, leading black people to create various forms of subaltern counter-public spheres. The postcolonial state did not fundamentally alter the situation and the continent witnessed attempts by successive post-independence governments to limit access to information. Despite the opening up of media space during sub-Saharan Africa’s “third wave” of democratisation in the 1990s and the toppling of many one party states, restrictions have continued, as freedom-of-expression organisations such as the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) continue to report. Traditional media’s democratic potential has been curtailed by different shades of authoritarianism and economic imperatives. In many cases, colonial laws that had banned or inhibited forms of expression were maintained, and sometimes enhanced. Many people hail the proliferation of ICTs as ushering in a “fourth wave” of democratisation on the continent. The new media technologies promise to include a greater number of people in the mediated public sphere. Citizens can bypass both state or market media restrictions, as seen in the Arab Spring in 2011 and food riots in Mozambique in 2010. However, questions still remain about the extent to which ICTs are facilitating political participation and how much this is leading to greater democratisation and accountability on the continent. The Contradictions of ICTs in (Post-) Repressive Contexts [caption id="attachment_21715" align="alignright" width="586"]Man holding a poster during the 2011 protests in Egypt. Image: Essam Sharaf Man holding a poster during the
2011 protests in Egypt. Image: Essam Sharaf[/caption] There is no question of the link between democracy and access to information. No genuine democracy may exist without vibrant media and an informed citizenry, and yet the media–democracy nexus in sub-Saharan Africa has been fraught with challenges. New media technologies appear to resuscitate hope for social and political change in Africa and, indeed, ICTs have been at the centre of the democratic project in many countries. In repressive and post-repressive countries such as Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Sudan, they have sometimes successfully enlarged the democratic project. At other times, they have been obstructed. In Zimbabwe, for example, ICTs allowed activists and ordinary citizens to sidestep the restrictive media laws passed by the ZanuPF government between 2000 and 2008. The monopoly on information that the governing party had held since independence in 1980 was broken as people began to access independent news and discuss politics on social media platforms. ICTs enabled the public to subvert the dominant discourses peddled by the state-owned media. A key issue is the role of mobile phones in general elections in Africa. In Zimbabwe, election results have long been widely disputed, with allegations of rigging, vote-buying, coercion and other irregularities. In 2008, citizens used text messages to monitor the elections, and any instances of irregularities were shared on mobile phones. Similarly, in Sudan’s 2010 elections, civil society organisations used the Ushahidi platform to support the independent monitoring and reporting of the country’s first multi-party elections in 24 years. With web and SMS reporting, the Sudan Vote Monitor (www. sudanvotemonitor.com) attracted wide interest from citizens and other organisations. Across the continent, elections are no longer the preserve of political parties, the mainstream media, electoral commissions and observer missions. Citizens are playing a more prominent role in monitoring and safeguarding their votes. The Ethiopian regime has recognised the power of ICTs to empower citizens and give them a voice. As a result, it has repeatedly censored internet content, closed websites and intercepted SMS messages using highly sophisticated tools. Bloggers and online journalists have been arrested under the country’s harsh laws. As the digital infrastructure is mostly state-owned, government is in a position of complete control. There has also been an increase in states using laws against defamation or subversion to prosecute online expression, and not only against journalists. Citizens have been arrested for comments that are said to offend or to pose threats to national security. The first such incident happened in Zimbabwe in 2011, when a Facebook user posted a message to the page of then-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that referred to the Arab Spring and the shockwaves it was sending to dictators. In Kenya, a Facebook user was arrested in 2012 for making a defamatory comment towards an assistant minister in the government. In 2015, a 25-year-old Kenyan man was jailed for insulting President Uhuru Kenyatta in a post on a social media site. While many governments are clamping down on ICTs, they are also using them for their political campaigns. In the 2011 Zambian elections, political parties for the first time communicated their messages via websites, social media pages and bulk SMS messages. The same happened in elections in Uganda in 2011, Kenya in 2013, South Africa in 2014 and Nigeria in 2015. From the discussion above, we see that digital technologies offer both opportunities and risks. On the one hand, they offer democratising, emancipatory and mobilising potential. On the other, they open the way for repression and surveillance. ICT, Social Mobilisation and NGO Movement Building “We use Facebook to schedule our protests, Twitter to coordinate and YouTube to tell the world.” (Egyptian activist) Since the 2010/11 Arab revolutions, the role of new media technologies in allowing ordinary people to effectively organise themselves for political change has been a hot topic. Although writers such as Malcolm Gladwell and Evgeny Morozov warn against techno-euphoria, stating that ICTs reinforce existing political structures rather than transforming them, there is no doubt ICTs facilitated – and accelerated – the revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt. Since then, we have seen innovative use of these technologies in mobilisation and the adoption of decentralised, non-hierarchical organisational forms in social movements and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). For instance, in Malawi, digital technologies played a central role in prior to, during, and following the national demonstrations against poor governance in July 2011. People gathered, posted and updated information via social networks on a scale not seen before. At the same time, social mobilisation has been affected by state disconnections and restrictions. Uganda shut down Facebook and Twitter for 24 hours during the Walk to Work protest in April 2011. In the 2010 Mozambican food riots, the government ordered cellphone operator Vodacom Mozambique to shut down its SMS services. Similarly, the Central African Republic shut down SMS services of all four mobile phone companies for eight weeks in the midst of political demonstrations against the transitional government that came to power in January 2014. In April 2015, during waves of protests opposing Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, phone lines of private radio stations were cut. Digital Inequality and the Need to Strengthen “Old Media” Ecologies As ICTs have spread across the continent, those who have little or no access are becoming increasingly marginalised. Although mobile phone penetration is nearing the 100-percent mark in many countries, there is still a divide between those with access to smartphones and those without. As more affluent people get access to faster broadband, those who do not, especially in the rural areas, become ever more distanced from the kind of political participation the new technologies allow. The differentiated uses and knowledge of ICTs, whether through lack of access, lack of interest or lack of computer literacy, is creating “digital inequality”. Those with digital capital participate more fully in digitally mediated spaces and enjoy many advantages over their digitally disadvantaged counterparts. [caption id="attachment_21716" align="alignleft" width="600"]Image: Enough is Enough social movement in Nigeria Image: Enough is Enough social movement in Nigeria[/caption] While focusing on the positive changes brought about by new technologies, it is also important to keep in mind that these new forms of communicating, interacting and networking do not replace traditional modes of political and civic engagement. A “communicative ecology” approach explores the modes of communication and media that are available to communities in their locales. Communicative ecology theorists distinguish different “layers”, intricately entwined and mutually constitutive, which can provide opportunities for empowerment: discursive (themes or content of both mediated and unmediated communication), technological (ICTs, TV, radio), and social (community meetings, informal networks, institutions). Our accounts of the relationship between citizens, media and political participation should include traditional (or old), new, and alternative media in their entirety, including such forms as theatre, music, art, spoken-word poetry, etc. A case in point is the Burkina Faso revolution in October 2014 that ended the 27-year presidency of Blaise Compaoré. Organic, people-driven and with little reliance on digital technologies, the revolution managed to gather thousands of people at the Place de la Nation in the capital. Their tactics also need to be documented.   Enclosure of the Digital Commons? The increasing demand for smartphones in Africa has run in tandem with growing state interest in mobile telephony. Through SIM registration – the most pervasive form of control across the continent – service providers are obliged to collect their customers’ personal data (name, current address, profession etc.) for the state. Since no registration means no access to service, people comply with procedures whose consequences they might not be aware of, although these regulations have a range of implications for inclusion, surveillance and development. Another area of concern is threats to the privacy and security of users, whether from state surveillance or third-party access. For instance, applications such as Google, which come already installed on most Android devices, have the ability to read and analyse usage and adjust themselves to the user’s preferences. Such capabilities can be beneficial to a user, for their convenience and computing genius. However, they can also be compromising in the hands of a state bent on limiting political participation by creating a culture of censorship and digital insecurity. In the absence of digital literacy, and with the insistence on a single narrative with regards to mobile telephony in Africa (“mobile is accelerating development”), most governments have created legal frameworks that allow them to build massive surveillance capabilities to monitor and intercept the private communications. In most countries, the vulnerability of citizens to state power has become a permanent feature. ICTs have increased this vulnerability. The African Union’s Draft Convention on the Confidence and Security in Cyberspace notes that: “Africa is faced with security gap [sic] which, as a result of poor mastery of security risks, increases the technological dependence of individuals, organizations and States on computer systems and networks that tend to control their information technologies needs and security facilities. African States are in dire need of innovative criminal policy strategies that embody States, societal and technical responses to create a credible legal climate for cyber security.” Although states have a legitimate responsibility for ensuring digital security for its people, the language of the African Union paints a picture that prioritises restriction above freedom, of digital enclosures rather than an enlargement of scope and possibility. The near silence from African civil society regarding state surveillance could indicate the extent to which African governments have succeeded, quite secretively, to pursue policies and legislation that inspire digital insecurity. Hence, there remains an urgent need for sincere inclusive dialogue that can give as much weight to citizens’ rights to online privacy, security and expression as is given to their rights offline. Surveillance of online platforms contributes to an atmosphere of self-censorship. Conclusion This paper has taken a mixed view of the role of ICTs for broadening democracy. There is no doubt that they have radically changed the media and communications landscape in Africa, in the process opening up new spaces for communication, political deliberation and free expression. For civil society actors and social movements especially, digital media and online social networking applications have changed the way in which dissent is organised. However, ICT access and online political deliberation or activism in sub-Saharan Africa cannot automatically be interpreted as a sign of deepening democracy and accountability. The euphoria concerning the potential of new technologies to transform society and increase democracy is based on a flawed instrumentalist assumption that technologies by themselves have transformative power. There also seems to be no direct link between the increase in digital users and improvements in democracy. For example, Nigeria and Kenya stand out for their increase in ICT users, but we also see deteriorating human rights and governance issues in these countries. Political participation through digital media also seems to be threatened by the steady rise of various surveillance tactics that are being introduced by governments around the continent. Repression in the offline world seems to be encroaching on digital spaces. As the dominant, but restrictive, macrolevel developmental readings of ICT usage in Africa are slowly giving way to studies that focus on African ICT users and their practices, there is still need for more nuanced studies of the actual relationship between ICTs, democracy and social change. Apart from the few examples in North Africa, there is little documentation from other parts of Africa of how ordinary activists and social movements use the tools of digital technology to enhance their struggles. *Source This is Africa]]>

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Less poverty in Africa but numbers remain stubbornly high
October 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Emmanuel Vorgbe with Marie Wolfrom* [caption id="attachment_21596" align="alignleft" width="300"]Labourers pick tea in Rwanda, which has made clear progress thanks to advances in agriculture, World Bank vice-president Makhtar Diop told AFP (AFP Photo/Phil Moore) Labourers pick tea in Rwanda, which has made clear progress thanks to advances in agriculture, World Bank vice-president Makhtar Diop told AFP (AFP Photo/Phil Moore)[/caption] Accra (AFP) – Poverty has slightly eased in sub-Saharan Africa in the past 20 years but the population boom means the numbers living in extreme conditions remains stubbornly high, a World Bank study showed Friday.

Almost half of the continent’s population (43 percent) was living below the poverty line in 2012, defined as surviving on less than $1.90 a day. In 1990, it was 56 percent.

Strong economic growth has helped achieve advances in health and education, but the rapid rise in population has led to an increase in the overall number of extreme poor, the study says.

Poverty remains more deep-rooted in Africa than in any other continent. Some 388 million people were considered to be living in poverty in 2012 compared to 280 million two decades earlier.

Africa’s population has grown from around 600 million in 1990 to over a billion in 2012 and will continue to grow to an estimated 1.6 billion by 2030, according to the African Development Bank.

Poverty figures mask wide disparities from country to country and also between urban and rural areas, the report shows, highlighting the difficulty of bringing together data from across the African continent.

Ghana, where the report was launched by World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, is a success, having cut its poverty rate from 53 percent in 1991 to 21 percent in 2012.

Rwanda and Ethiopia have also made clear progress thanks to advances in agriculture, World Bank vice-president Makhtar Diop told AFP in an interview.

“Rwanda has done impressive work in hill terracing,” Diop said, which had led to a doubling of the corn harvest and a 130-percent increase in the potato crop.

In a continent where 60-70 percent of people live in rural areas, “the growth rate in agriculture makes an enormous contribution to reducing poverty,” said Diop, a Senegalese economist.

Other countries, including Tanzania and Senegal, have achieved success using a scheme pioneered in Brazil under which the state gives non-financial aid to the poorest families, for example in the form of free vaccines.

– Fewer conflicts –

Unsurprisingly, war and violence remain the principal obstacles to reducing poverty.

In Burundi, the proportion of people living under the poverty threshold went from 21 percent before the 1993-2006 civil war to 64 percent in 2007.

But “there are fewer conflicts than before and they are changing in nature and are more local,” Diop said. [caption id="attachment_21597" align="alignright" width="300"]A local vendor offers her goods in Kumasi, Ghana which has cut its poverty rate from 53 percent in 1991 to 21 percent in 2012 (AFP Photo/Joe Klamar) A local vendor offers her goods in Kumasi, Ghana which has cut its poverty rate from 53 percent in 1991 to 21 percent in 2012 (AFP Photo/Joe Klamar)[/caption] The report also points to the “worrisome development” that people living in countries rich in resources such as oil, gold and diamonds are paying what it calls “a human development penalty”.

Their life expectancy is 10 percent shorter on average, they are less literate, suffer higher levels of malnutrition and also experience more domestic violence.

The six countries where the inequality is greatest — Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia — are all situated in the south where diamond and mineral deposits are high.

The disparities in wealth can also be seen within countries — in Kenya, for example, 8,000 people hold almost two-thirds of the wealth.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Democracy Activists Push Against African Autocrats
October 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

A man casts a ballot in Lagos, Nigeria, April 11, 2015. A man casts a ballot in Lagos, Nigeria, April 11, 2015.[/caption] In the next few months, African voters will go the polls in several countries, including Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Guinea and the Central African Republic. In many instances, it is not clear who is likely to win, even in countries where polls show the leadership to be unpopular. That’s because there are competing pressures between pro-democracy reformers and governments exercising new ways to maintain power. Often, long-established governments have retained the upper hand. The days of overt ballot box stuffing may be over, but Jennifer Cooke, the Africa director for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said authoritarian regimes are now using subtle and even legalistic ways to defeat opponents. They include strict media regulations, broadly interpreted security laws, and a crackdown on pro-democracy NGOs that receive foreign funding. Some use the democratically elected legislature or courts to enact constitutional reforms to remove presidential term limits. When confronted with the declining popularity of its long-serving ruler, the ruling party in Angola introduced reforms to ensure that the president would no longer be elected by direct vote, but by the majority in parliament. Cooke said even in places like Tanzania, which she called “a donor darling,” there are troubling media laws, including those that allow police to seize computers without justification. There are also laws that forbid the publication of statistics that are not approved by the government.” Fighting back Pro-democracy groups have their own means of fighting back, including new technologies. Cooke said in 2008, Zimbabwe’s opposition was able to assert it had won elections with photos of the polling results; in Nigeria’s recent polls, social media were used to educate voters on their rights and responsibilities and to monitor the elections. In some regions, pro-democracy NGOs now work across borders, while urbanization and economic advances are creating a more assertive middle class that wants its say in politics. “[There are] rising expectations on the part of African citizens,” Cooke said. “[There are] demands and pressure for democracy from young, more urban populations. Economic growth and investment — even though it’s been uneven across the continent — has meant many of those at subsistence levels are now part of the consuming, if not middle, class that are able to exert more political pressure and have more time to do that.” Democracy activists say civil society, African regional groups like the Economic Community of West African States, and the international community need to push back against authoritarian rule. Cooke said Western policymakers should question the long-term stability of their alliances with undemocratic governments. Activists say support during the Cold War for autocrats like Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko and apartheid South Africa harmed the reputation of the U.S. among ordinary Africans. “And in places like Rwanda and Ethiopia [that are experiencing growth],” said Cooke, “there will be a limit unless they can open up the economy with thinking that encourages entrepreneurialism.” Training future leaders Activists note that many national governments in Africa are ceding power to other levels of government, thus requiring greater transparency by, and monitoring of, state and local politics. They say such decentralization offers an opportunity for young people to get involved in local politics before one day engaging on the national level. The support of future political leadership and entrepreneurship is a key part of the Obama administration’s Young African Leaders Initiative, YALI. Chris Fomunyoh of the National Democratic Institute in Washington called for continued support for democratic reforms by Congress and the president. “When [President Barack Obama] speaks in Ghana and says, ‘Africa doesn’t need strong men, it needs strong institutions,’  young African youth believe him and in his investment in the YALI program,” he said. “What we are looking for is confirmation of that kind of [pro-democracy] stance. “So, way in advance,”  he continued, “when we have the sense that some of these leaders are looking for ways to tinker with their constitutions, there can be that friendly but very frank conversation that says, ‘You’re hurting your people and the world is not going to allow you to get away with it.’ ” Continued US support Activists say U.S. lawmakers should ensure adequate funding for election activities. Fomunyoh said that for the first time, money has been earmarked in Congress for democracy programs in Africa. The EU is also providing substantial support for civil society in Ethiopia and other countries. Together, NGOs and the international community can work with the African Union and other bodies to set continentwide norms for credible elections. And that should help guarantee that upcoming polls fulfill their promise of political and economic development — not just in theory, but in practice. *Source VOA]]>

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AfDB President calls for enhanced partnerships to unlock Africa’s energy potential as G20 adopts Action Plan on Energy Access in Sub-Saharan Africa
October 9, 2015 | 0 Comments

photo_verybig_3031African Development Bank Group (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina delivered the special keynote address at the first G20 Energy Ministers meeting held in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2015. The meeting organized under the theme “Inclusive Energy Collaboration: Delivering on the G20 Principles” was officially opened by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, under the aegis of Turkey’s current G20 Presidency. President Erdogan emphasized the role of public-private partnerships in attracting investments to solve the infrastructure challenges. In this regard, he stated that “the key issue is not financing, but earning the trust of the private sector”. In his keynote, President Adesina thanked the Government of Turkey for its vision and leadership in choosing energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa as a focus theme for the G20. He went on to underscore the critical role of energy access for Africa’s sustainable development, and highlighted the negative impact that the of lack of energy access is having for millions of Africans – children not being able to study with “over 90% of the primary schools not having electricity”; businesses and industry not being able to operate effectively or competitively; and 600,000 people – mainly women and children – dying every year from pollution because they don’t have access to clean cooking energy.” This situation is no longer acceptable for Africa, he told the Ministers gathered at the meeting. It is even less acceptable given Africa’s huge energy potential, both renewable and conventional, and with “Africa having an opportunity to lead a renewable energy revolution.” President Adesina stressed that “we must make access to electricity a democratic human right” and called on leaders to “take bold steps, think differently and act with a greater sense of urgency.” This is why the AfDB has launched the New Deal on Energy for Africa to fast-track universal access to energy. He commended the G20’s focus on energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa and the adoption of the Action Plan on Energy Access in Sub-Saharan Africa by the G20 Energy Ministers. The Action Plan outlines several critical areas for addressing the energy access: strengthening the policy and regulatory environment, the importance of technology development and deployment, the mobilization of investment and finance at scale, capacity-building, regional energy sector integration, coordination and collaboration. While highlighting the objective of the New Deal on Energy for Africa to fast-track universal access to energy by 2025, President Adesina reaffirmed the commitment of the African Development Bank to “work hand-in-hand with our partners to increase the level of aspiration and investment in Africa’s energy sector,” building on the success of key initiatives such as President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative and in the Bank’s capacity as host of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Africa Hub. The G20 Action Plan on Energy Access in Sub Saharan Africa will be an important contribution to the transformative partnership on energy for Africa that the Bank will be launching. *AFDB]]>

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Ambassadors briefed on Africa’s health policy direction
October 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

Pledge to support the 2016 Global Fund Replenishment efforts 200 (1)African Union Ambassadors meeting Friday were briefed on the progress in the implementation of AU health policy frameworks that are due to expire at the end of December and the next steps in achieving universal health access. The meeting comes in less than a week after world leaders meeting in New York adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that supersede the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The ambitious goals will address the unfinished business of health related MDGs and lay a solid foundation to put the world on a path to sustainable development and end poverty within an ambitious 15 years’ timeframe. “Sustaining health and education gains is key in our collective efforts to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals” said H.E. Daouda Diabate, Ambassador of the Republic of Cote D’Ivoire to the United States of America. Goal three of the SDGs seeks to  ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages. Ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by 2030 is one of the key priorities of the SDGs. “The international community has made remarkable progress since 2000 to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and tens of millions of lives have been saved. However the global community needs to continue to invest in lifesaving health programmes,” said President of the Friends of the Global Fund US, Deb Derrick. “Countries should remain committed to growing domestic health budgets in a time of limited international development resources,” she added. African Union Ambassadors pledged to advocate for the current efforts to have a fully funded Global Fund in the 2016 replenishment cycle. Close to 70% of the Global Fund resources support programmes in Africa. The AU representatives were briefed on the ongoing review of the Abuja Call and the AU Roadmap highlighting the critical milestones, remaining challenges and emerging issues in addressing health on the continent. In less than  a  decade access to  HIV  treatment  in  Africa  increased  more  than  100-fold. Approximately 10 million people are now on treatment.  New HIV infections and  AIDS-related deaths in Africa south of the Sahara declined by 33% and 30% respectively. Malaria incidence was reduced by 31% in Africa. An estimated 337 million malaria cases and 3 million deaths were averted in Africa. Malaria mortality rates have declined by 54% overall and by 58% among children. Africa’s TB treatment success rate reached 86% in 2013. In 2013 the case detection rate had slightly improved at 52%. Africa outpaced other regions in determining the HIV status of all people with TB. However Africa still confronts the world’s most acute public health threats. AIDS remains a leading cause of death in Africa, killing 1.1 million people on the continent in 2013, with an estimated 1.5 million new HIV infections. An African child still dies almost every minute from malaria. The TB response will need to reach about 1.3 million people in Africa. The meeting also provided a briefing on the recent Ebola pandemic that has brought to the fore the need for improved surveillance, international coordination and response, as well as the consequences of poorly- resourced national health systems. The African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) deployed the biggest contingent of medical and public health experts (855) from 18 countries on the continent. To be better prepared for epidemics in the future the January 2015,  24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU in Addis Ababa endorsed the establishment of the Africa CDC. The Africa CDC will serve as a specialised technical institution of the African Union with a vision for a safer, healthier, integrated and prosperous Africa in which Member States can prevent disease, detect, and respond together to crises of public health importance. The Africa CDC will establish early warning and response surveillance platforms to address in a timely and effective manner all health emergencies and support public health emergency preparedness and response. The African Union spearheads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the Regional Economic Communities and African citizens.  AU Vision An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena. Created at the Abuja 2001 Special Summit, AWA is an Africa-led instrument to stimulate leaders into action and mobilize the resources needed to address AIDS, TB and Malaria in an effective, sustainable and accountable manner. Friends of the Global Fight works to end the worldwide burden of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We educate, engage and mobilize U.S. decision makers to support the Global Fund, the world’s largest public health financier.. The Global Fund is a 21st-century partnership organization designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases. The Global Fund raises and invests nearly $4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in countries and communities most in need. *APO]]>

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