How to put the ‘African’ back into African Studies
November 4, 2016 | 0 Comments
From 1993 to 2013, the proportion of articles written by Africa-based scholars plummeted in two leading journals. Why?
Earlier this year, a new piece of research looking at the make-up of contributors to two leading Africa-focused journals found that the proportion of articles written by authors based in Africa had plummeted. Ryan C. Briggs and Scott Weathers found that whereas in 1993, about 30% of articles in African Affairs and the Journal of Modern African Studies were written by Africa-based academics, by 2013, this figure had halved to just 15%.
This change was not because scholars on the continent were submitting fewer articles, the researchers found, but because of falling acceptance rates. The authors could not explain why this was the case through their analysis, but said that editors in informal conversations have suggested the quality of research is often a key barrier.
Much more examination is needed to add to their research, which covers just two journals over two decades. But if the trend of dramatically declining acceptance rates found is representative, some clues as to why this is the case may be found by looking at what daily life is like for academics at African universities.
To begin with, scholars at African universities face several pressures. Some of these are more direct such as political pressures to avoid certain topics or opt for safe ‘neutral’ issues. But academics also face less visible strains – particularly in terms of time and resources – that can interfere significantly with research.
For instance, administrative duties eat up large amounts of many Africa-based academics’ time and energy. Meanwhile, faculty members, especially younger ones, have to deal with heavy teaching loads. Class sizes at African universities tend to be large – often reaching a few hundred at basic undergraduate courses – and are mostly taught by a single individual.
At the same time, economic pressures can weigh heavily. In many African countries, the typical income of a university lecturer is not sufficient to live a reasonable middle-class lifestyle, meaning other opportunities to generate extra income are needed.
One way to earn money from publishing in Kenya, for example, is to have a school textbook adopted for the local Primary or Secondary curriculum. This can divert academics from scholarly publishing, which earns no financial rewards.
There is also the temptation to ‘moonlight’ at neighbouring campuses to earn extra money teaching on a part-time basis. This has become particularly prevalent in Kenya because of the proliferation of satellite campuses across the country.
And finally, there is also the lure of paid consultancies. Such offers can be appealing and still involve research, but the research is set by the employer. This means that the outputs generated are likely to more policy-based and not easily convertible into the kind of scholarship typically suitable for Western academic journals.
Out of the loop
While scholars at African universities have been facing growing economic and time pressures over the past decades, the routes to being published in international journals may also have been getting less clear. Academics based in Africa generally face significantly higher barriers compared to their international counterparts on this front.
Although the Internet is increasingly accessible and university libraries are becoming better connected to international journals, for example, there is still a huge deficiency in terms of access to recent publications, in particular books. Additionally, even where electronic journals may be available in theory, slow internet connections mean scholars struggle to access articles or may find themselves paying for quicker connections at cyber cafes rather than at their universities.
The avenues to getting published have also become tougher. In earlier decades in East Africa, there were several locally-based journals – such as Uganda Journal, Kenyan Geographer, East African Geographical Review, Tanzania Notes and Records, and Transafrican Journal of History – that could provide a first step on the publication ladder. But many of these have since ceased operations.
Being published and being cited in international articles is also partly a question of one’s network, and more recent generations of African scholars may not have had the same opportunity to develop social and professional links in Europe and North America as earlier generations. Many of the first generation of Africa-based scholars completed their higher degrees abroad before returning to Africa to teach. But today’s academics are more likely to have done their higher degrees at African universities and may not have had the same interaction with those from outside the continent.
This can lead to a gradual weakening of their contact with “mainstream” scholarship in Europe and North America, and even with the English language as written and spoken in scholarly discourse. Even if the Internet now provides access to both language and scholarship, it cannot fully replace the influence of individual mentors and networks.
The obstacles facing Africa-based scholars are multi-faceted and go beyond these daily realities. This means that reversing the trend of falling acceptance rates in journals will be difficult to address, but there are a few measures that could be taken.
Firstly, confronting funding shortages will be crucial. There is an urgent need for financial support for academic research that is not directed by NGOs or consultancies. Back in the 1970s, Kenyatta University had its own research funds that were administered through the Deans’ Committee, but today there is a greater need for researchers to draw on foreign funds. This not only requires time, but leads to problematic power dynamics.
Although it will not be straightforward to mobilise greater finances, reasonable national funds for research as well as higher basic salaries for university lecturers – so they are not required to spend their time supplementing their earnings rather than focusing on academia – would significantly help their ability to conduct research.
Another area of support would be to help Africa-based scholars build stronger international networks. For example, travel programmes that involved visits to North American or European universities – such as the six-month fellowships offered through the Cambridge University African Studies Institute in the early 2000s – would help African academics meet with other researchers, editors and access international libraries.
On a less extensive scale, shorter (two to three week) workshops in which African scholars could bring their work-in-progress for critique and advice from people experienced in publishing would significantly help the quality of research. This could be combined with Internet-based communication, but face-to-face contact and discussions with others can be highly beneficial.
Much will need to be done to increase the number of Africa-based scholars publishing in international journals, but these measures could provide an important start.
*African Arguments.Celia Nyamweru (Professor Emerita, Ph.D. Cambridge) is a former Academic Dean at Kenyatta University, Kenya, where she worked for 19 years. She also taught at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY for 19 years and is currently Adjunct Professor at Pwani University in Kilifi, Kenya. Her five books include Rifts and Volcanoes and a co-edited volume on African Sacred Groves. Her current work involves social and cultural issues at the Kenya Coast.
Trump’s tone resonates in strongman-weary Africa
November 3, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Julian Hattem*
KAMPALA, Uganda — Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has had surprising resonance in parts of Africa where people are weary of the political establishment and see the real estate mogul as a global force for change.
Despite famously pushing an “America first” foreign policy and appearing to show little interest in events outside the U.S., the Republican nominee for president is enjoying a strong amount of popularity in Uganda and other African nations a week out from Election Day.
Trump is also up against Hillary Clinton, a woman known on the international stage for more than two decades, most recently as a globetrotting secretary of State, and whose family foundation has helped to save millions from malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases — including many Africans.
Yet for many in and around this capital city, scattered across hills in the jungle of East Africa, Trump’s candidacy represents a strike against political dynasties and the established order that has kept strongmen such as their own president in power for decades. Trump’s tough rhetoric and a fake viral quote have boosted his appeal to many looking for a change.
“Trump has presented himself as a candidate that is anti-establishment, that he wants to turn around things and cause a revolution of some sort,” said Moses Khisa, a lecturer of political science at Northwestern University and columnist for a Ugandan newspaper.
Trump, Khisa said, is tapping into “the same fertile ground of disillusionment and anti-establishment sentiment” on both sides of the Atlantic.
To be sure, support for Trump is not unanimous.
One poll conducted in South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two largest economies, showed a marked distaste for Trump. According to the WIN/Gallup International Association poll, released in October, respondents in those two countries overwhelmingly preferred Clinton, 69 percent to 20.
Due to a paucity of polling, it’s difficult to get a full understanding of feelings about the presidential race across the continent. It’s also dangerous to make sweeping generalizations about the political preferences of more than 1.2 billion Africans.
Worldwide, data suggest that Clinton is the overwhelming favorite. A Pew Research Center surveyof countries in Europe and Asia found strong support for Clinton and deep distrust of Trump.
But Trump has certainly struck a chord among a sizable number of Africans, who see him as a rejection of the current system who nonetheless speaks in a recognizable vocabulary.
Last week, five activists here descended on the U.S. embassy to demonstrate in support of Trump, waving misspelled signs and hoping to gather media attention. Two were arrested and later charged with failing to give proper notice about their plans.
“Among the candidates for the presidents of America, he’s the only man who says that once he becomes the president of America, he will fight the dictators — all African dictators including Museveni,” one of the activists, Kizza Hakim, told a local TV station, referring to Uganda’s 72-year-old President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni has been in power since 1986, after helping to topple dictator Idi Amin, and has shown an increasingly autocratic bent in recent years.
Hakim appeared to be referring to a fake Trump quote that has circulated around East Africa, in which he supposedly promised to not “condone any dictatorial tendencies exhibited by dictators around the world, especially the two old men from Zimbabwe and Uganda.”
“[Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe and Museveni must be put on notice that their days are numbered and that I am going to arrest them and lock them in prison,” Trump is falsely quoted as saying. “If the past American administrations have failed to stop these two despots, I will personally do it.”
A Trump campaign spokeswoman confirmed that the quote is false.
However, it was nonetheless briefly picked up by media around the continent earlier this year and forced a retort from Museveni. Trump “has got enough work to do in U.S.,” the Ugandan president said, noting rates of American gun violence.
Those who speak highly of Trump in Africa describe the GOP nominee as an outsider willing to speak truth to power.
“Above all, his willingness to disregard political correctness makes the supporters feel he’s saying exactly what they really feel about issues, but they’re afraid to say it in public. In a way, he represents their hopes, fears and frustrations,” Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi, a columnist in Ghana, wroteearlier this year.
“Isn’t he the kind of person we need desperately in Ghanaian politics right now?”
Clinton, meanwhile, is seen by some as part of the political establishment that has helped run the U.S. for the last two decades.
Despite being of Kenyan heritage, President Obama’s legacy in Africa is somewhat mixed, especially when compared to former President George W. Bush’s aggressive efforts to combat HIV/AIDS through the PEPFAR program. Clinton’s association with Obama’s administration hasn’t made her universally adored across Africa.
Trump also embodies many of the “big man” stereotypes that have permeated African cultures.
“For me, as an African, there’s just something familiar about Trump that makes me feel at home,” “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, a South African native, quipped last October.
“Trump is basically the perfect African president.”
Throughout the campaign, Trump has railed on issues of globalization, China’s rising status, political cronyism and depressed economic opportunities. Many of those sentiments hit home in African countries that feel at the mercy of foreign powers, just as they do in parts of Europe that have experienced their own nationalist movements.
“One of the things that perhaps is a little bit of a paradox is that African populations often feel that their countries are slightly exploited by the West, therefore they support leaders domestically that stand up to people,” said Nic Cheeseman, a professor of politics and African studies at the University of Oxford. “And I think they may be looking to see someone like Trump and think that Trump is also trying to do the same thing for his country.”
“When Trump says he’s going to put some of those forces back in the box — even though he’s not talking about Africa, he’s talking about America — I think some of the African audiences hearing that would see a connection to their own battle against globalization, against multinationals,” he added.
Rwanda’s tech initiatives prove African governments can catalyze innovation
November 1, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Jake Bright*
The government of Rwanda, in partnership with California-based startup Zipline, recently started the world’s first national drone delivery program.
As an audience of local techies and international press looked on, President Paul Kagame sent the inaugural flight from a tablet-controlled launcher at a drone-port in Rwanda’s Muhanga district. The scene stood in stark contrast to media images 22 years ago of Kagame in military fatigues leading the country out of civil war.
Rwanda’s come a long way since the 1990s. Becoming a technology hub is central to the country’s national priorities. And Rwanda’s partnership with a Silicon Valley drone startup shows the potential of African nations to shape ICT policies that catalyze innovation with global applications.
Since launching on October 13th, Zipline’s unmanned aerial vehicles now make 50-150 daily deliveries of critical medical supplies (primarily blood and vaccines) to 21 locations across Rwanda. The small craft lift-off from a customized “drone-nest,” drop their loads by parachute, then return to their base — guided digitally by Zipline’s California navigation system connected to Rwanda’s 3G network.
“It’s the first program of its kind,” said Zipline co-founder Keller Rinaudo. He notes there have been a number of drone delivery demonstrations across the world, but nothing like the Rwanda operation. “We’re operating a commercial service at a national scale, with national regulatory approval and a customer that is paying us to do it on a daily basis.”
Though Zipline’s profile sounds like a social venture, it is a for-profit entity. Rinaudo and his former Harvard classmate Will Hetzler formed the company after identifying a market for delivering essential medical products cheaper and faster, particularly to remote areas and regions with challenged infrastructure.
Rinaudo estimates the value of urgent health logistics in Africa as north of $1 billion. In Rwanda, Zipline is paid per delivery by the government. The company’s vision is to expand its operations in Rwanda and then across the continent, all at a profit.
Zipline has raised $19 million in venture capital from investors including Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, and Subtraction Capital. The company tests its drones, which are custom designed by robotics engineers, at a private facility outside of San Francisco.
While Zipline’s eureka moment came to Rinaudo on a trip to Tanzania, a referral by former Economist Africa correspondent and Red Line drone founder Jonathan Ledgard led him to Rwanda.
“He knew Kagame pretty well and relayed Rwanda’s vision for how this technology could make an impact in the country,” said Rinaudo. Upon research and meetings, “we found Rwanda really forward-looking, innovative, and the government was already making big investments in technology and healthcare,” Rinaudo said.
Because of this, “it seemed like a natural place…to launch something new,” according to Rinaudo. The government of Rwanda has supported the development of drone operating systems in the country. In the case of Zipline, it granted land and offered cooperation with its Ministries of Health, Defense, and Civil Aviation Authority. This aligned with the country’s commitment to fostering ICT models to improve the living standards of its people.
Throughout Africa’s shift away from economic disconnection to integration with the global economy and technologic advancement, Rwanda has been a standout. The country has adopted e-government service initiatives, aggressively courted partnerships with international investors, and significantly reformed its private sector.
Rwanda is now the highest ranked African country on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business list — 54th, ahead of countries such as Chile, Luxembourg, and Greece. The government is still chided on democracy and human rights issues (see its suppression of political dissent and Kagame’s possible third term), but it has made undeniable progress in shaping a technology-driven business environment.
“Rwanda is a startup country,” the Minister of Youth and ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana told TechCrunch. “Our development strategy has been clear from the beginning that ICT would be one of the foundations of our transformation,” he said, referring to the country’s Vision 2020 Program launched President Kagame in 2000. The plan has stated goals of transitioning Rwanda to a “knowledge-based…middle-income country” with “science and technology” as a “cross-cutting influence” to business and government.
Perhaps the most fundamental step toward this end was the establishment of a ministry devoted specifically to IT. With the exception of South Africa and Botswana, governments committing significant resources to ICT is a relatively recent trend in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya led the way in 2010 with completion of The East African Marine System (TEAMS) undersea fiber optic cable project.
TEAMS increased East African broadband and led to the establishment of Kenya’s Information and Communication Technology Authority. Both laid the foundation for the IT successes (namely mobile money) that have earned Kenya its Silicon Savannah moniker.
Kenya and Rwanda’s formation of ICT authorities and Africa’s emerging technology movement have prompted other governments, such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Tanzania, to flesh out more defined national technology strategies.
Minister Nsengimana welcomes increased national competition on the continent to foster innovation. He believes it is “the right thing to do for all African countries” noting Rwanda’s desire to be on top.
“We should end up with a constellation, where there are many tech hubs across the region,” he said. “But in any constellation, not all stars have the same brilliance. My job is to make sure that Kigali and Rwanda become the most brilliant, but not by any means the only star in the group.”
Rwanda is posting some shining ICT achievements. The country should soon reach 40 percent internet penetration, up from less than 10 percent three years ago, according to government statistics.
The improvement derives largely from a national investment of over $100 million in a 4,500-kilometer fiber optic network. Rwanda is rolling out its 4G LTE program nationwide and is the highest ranked African country on the Alliance for Affordable Internet’s Affordability Index.
In education, Rwanda’s embraced technology at the primary school and university level through its One Laptop Per Child program and partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, which has created a Kigali campus offering advanced degree programs in computer science and IT.
The list of Rwanda’s ICT initiatives goes on. The country is manufacturing laptops for Argentine hardware maker Positivo BGH through its Kigali Special Economic Zone. It is hosting a tech-driven African Smart Cities Initiative with partner Ericsson.
And next year it will launch the $100 million Rwanda Innovation Fund to invest in early stage tech startups. “Leading on drones is just one example. We’re also looking to lead in other cutting edge technologies such as blockchain and others,” said Minister Nsengimana.
In the case of drone delivery, Rwanda’s progressive ICT stance may have already produced an innovation model with advanced economy impact.
As TechCrunch reported in August, Zipline’s Rwanda program gained the attention of the White House’s UAV initiative, which has tapped the startup to test drone delivery of medical supplies to remote U.S. communities. “We have the U.S. Secretary of Transportation visiting our test facilities next month,” said Zipline CEO Rinaudo. “With what we’ve done in Rwanda just the last month there’s been a big shift in terms of what’s possible, especially in the developed world.”
Expect Broader Engagement with Africa in Clinton Administration-Policy Experts
October 31, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
At a recent meeting organized by the Africa Coalition for Hillary at The Elliott School of International Studies at George Washington University in Washington, DC, Senior policy advisers indicated that as President, Hillary Clinton will build and expand on successes and programs initiated by the Obama Administration while seeking to expand areas of cooperation.
Amb. Michelle Gavin, former U.S. Ambassador to Botswana and Representative to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Former Special Assistant to President Obama and Former Senior Director for Africa at the NSC who advises HFA on African Affairs; Nicole Wilett–Jensen, former NSC Director for African Affairs and who advises HFA on African Affairs; Witney Schneidman, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Amb. Robin Sanders, CEO, FEEEDS, Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and Congo; Amb. Omar Arouna, Former Ambassador of Benin to the U.S., Co-Chair of the African Coalition for Hillary and Ms. Semhar Araia, a diaspora women White House Champion and CEO, Semai Consulting, engaged the audience of some 100 people in a spirited exchange on the stakes for Africa in the upcoming elections and why the African Diaspora must throw its weight behind Clinton.
“This event serves as a platform to inform and educate the diaspora on Sec. Clinton’s record on Africa, propose new policies and encourage Africans to get out the vote,” said Angelle Kwemo, a Cameroonian born policy advocate, CEO of Believe in Africa, and Co-Chair of Executive Women for Hillary (DMV) and founder of the African Coalition for Hillary.
“We live in a democracy – that obviously and unfortunately can produce candidates with divisive views-, and we need to play our part. At the end of the day, if Africans are not at the table, we will surely be on the menu,” Angelle Kwemo said in weighing the stakes for Africa.
Discussions were anchored around the results of a survey carried out by Believe in Africa, a diaspora organization Kwemo launched in 2014 to promote African solutions to African problems, on African priorities for the next U.S. Administration. The survey ranked democracy, trade and development, job creation, youth and women empowerment as the top areas Africans will love to see more engagement in.
Summing up some of the successes registered by the Obama Administration, Amb Michelle Gavin who planned the first White House African diaspora meeting, and Wilett–Jensen cited the Commerce Department Doing Business in Africa (DBIA), the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI),the African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) ,Feed the Future, Power Africa and other successful initiatives that the next administration could build on.
Participants agreed on the need for the next U.S Administration to work with African leaders in building structures that will facilitate orderly transfer of power through credible electoral processes which will see the emergence of leaders with a healthy dose of legitimacy. In doing so, the U.S must avoid a one-policy-fit -all solution , Ambassador Omar Arouna cautioned. Arouna opined that engagement of the U.S. with Africa on promoting peace and democracy could be more effective with a country specific approach that takes into consideration existing realities.
On combatting corruption, African countries will need to do their part by building strong institutions and strengthening the rule of law said Witney Schneidman. Amb Sanders indicated that Hillary’s campaign was aware of the need to include the African Diaspora and small and medium size to participate in future high profile forums like the US-Africa leaders’ Summit.
Steve Lande, from Manchester Trade went a step further by calling for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council on Africa to have African diaspora and SME initiatives. The Panel agreed that the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) regime started by Bill Clinton needs to be uplifted while individual African beneficiary countries need to define their own AGOA strategy to effectively take advantage of the program.
Lande noted that the AGOA policy should enable beneficiary countries to leverage their agricultural potentials and be able to export agricultural products in the U.S. market. AGOA at this point mainly supports the U.S, textile industry. Lande noted that a new initiative needs to be launched to accelerate African regional integration, currently undermined by European Union Economic Partnership Agreements. He also expounded on the role of manufacturing in the growth of African economy, urging the incoming administration of Secretary Clinton to enhance AGOA to include an investment fund that would extend capital investments to small and medium enterprises, a critical barrier to full realization of the good intentions embedded in the initiative.
Africans attending the meeting expressed their appreciation to the African Coalition For Hillary for offering a platform to facilitate dialogue with Africans. Agnes Nabasirye, a diaspora member from Uganda, recognized the role of the coalition in bringing Africans in the diaspora together, on African issues. She mentioned that there was an expressed interest among Africans present to proactively seek input from African minds and leaders to add the voice of the diaspora to formulating US policy on Africa .
In closing remarks, Angelle Kwemo invited the community to exercise their right and be responsible citizens. “We cannot stay on side line and expect the new administration to respond to our need”. “Hillary Clinton record shows that she is with Africa. We need to help her get elected, help her shape a new Africa policy and hold her accountable,” Kwemo said.
The African Coalition For Hillary (AC4H) is a coalition of leaders of African descent, policy experts, professionals, youth and civil society organizations supporting Hillary Clinton in her mission of becoming the first woman President of the United States. Initiated by Angelle Kwemo, it has as co-chairs Amb. Omar Arouna, Witney Schneidman, Dorinda White, Marilyn Sephocle, Steve Lande, Sarian Bouma and Philomena Desmond.
Let Kagame Have a Third Term as President
October 29, 2016 | 0 Comments
Rwanda, a name indelibly associated with the genocide of as many as 1 million people, is today a beacon of hope on the African continent — in large part due to the leadership of President Paul Kagame. After his election as President in 2000, he vowed to heal the country, promote good governance, advance human development, and pursue an economic vision that would make Rwanda a middle income country by 2020. He initiated the drafting of a constitution to enshrine pluralistic governance and democracy. He grew the service sector, from banking and finance to trade, medical services, and tourism.
Acting on the conviction that women’s empowerment is essential to national development, Kagame instituted a quota system in parliament to guarantee them a minimum number of seats. Today, via transparent elections, women have far exceeded the quota by simple winning at the polls. They now hold 64 percent of the country’s parliamentary seats, the highest proportion of any parliament in the world.
Perhaps of greatest significance to a nation bloodied by its recent past, Kagame has achieved a model of post-conflict justice and reconciliation that is on par with that of post-Apartheid South Africa. After the genocide. he revived the country’s traditional “Gacaca” community courts and deputized them to try over a million = suspects. The courts were mandated to grant lenient sentences, to be commensurate with the defendants’ degree of remorse and sharing of truth and therefore closure to the victims’ families. Meanwhile, Kagame steered the “National Unity and Reconciliation Commission” to offer peace education, inculcate liberal egalitarian values, provide trauma counseling, and, above all, promote just, transparent, democratic institutions capable of helping to defeat the conditions that lead to civil conflict.
In Kagame’s view, national reconciliation ultimately rests with the population itself. As he told an audience at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania recently, all the peace-building projects his government has built carried an underlying message to Rwandan citizens: “You are part of this. Ensuring your security isn’t going to be achieved by somebody doing it for you. You need to participate and ensure that you give security to others and you can expect that others will give security to you.” Praised for his role in supporting the effort, he said it would be follow for him or other Rwandans to rest on their laurels: We have built a very firm foundation, but then you have to build on top of that. We are now in the phase of building on the foundation. The foundation is there: people understand the reason to get along and to give and take. They understand that not everything will be rosy and not all people will be satisfied, but there will be a balance that allows us to move forward.”
Over time, Rwanda has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, achieving an average of more than 8 percent growth over the 16 years Kagame has held the reigns. The wealth, moreover, is far more evenly distributed than the many kleptocracies on the content where impressive GDPs mask massive graft and a hoarding of wealth to the privileged few: In health and education, Rwandans are benefiting from the country’s new resources and capacities. Poverty, still alarmingly present, has nonetheless been significantly reduced.
Small wonder, as the President’s second term draws to a close this year, that the population has called for the immensely popular Kagame to run for a third. A constitutional amendment making it legal has sailed through parliament and won majority popular support in a national referendum. Kagame has signaled that he will run, win, and accept the popular mandate.
Yet he is is facing international pressure to refrain from running for a third term of office. Earlier this year, upon receiving word of Kagame’s likely third bid for the Presidency, the U.S. State Department said it was “deeply disappointed,” and warned that it would likely “weaken democratic institutions.” America’s UN Ambassador, Samantha Power, stated that she “expect[s] President Kagame to step down at the end of his term in 2017.” The European Union, for its part, was no less emphatic: EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini declared that the move “weakens the credibility of the constitutional reform process, as it undermines the principle of democratic change of government.”
But defenders of Kagame see a double standard underlying the international campaign against his third term. For example, Germany, from which much of the pressure comes, is itself currently led by a Chancellor serving her third term in office. In the U.S., Senators and Congresspeople serve without term limits, and the American Presidential term limit is still a relatively recent development: Over four consecutive terms, Franklin Delano Roosevelt ably led the country through the Great Depression and Second World War. There is a feeling of Rwanda that Kagame is the nation’s “Roosevelt,” and his leadership is sorely needed at a critical moment for the country. Yet outsiders would deny the population their preferred candidate.
At the same time, Kagame is not without his international supporters. Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in the Rwandan capital Kigali, American businessman and philanthropist Howard Buffett wholeheartedly endorsed a Kagame third term. Buffett, himself vested in Rwanda, said, “If I didn’t think president Kagame was going to be here for another seven years,” he said, “we wouldn’t even consider doing some of the things we’re trying to do.” Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, himself a three-term head of state, lent his voice in support of a Kagame third term as well.
Among Kagame’s international boosters, a pattern emerges: They are supporters of the traditional “Pax Americana” who recognizes that he has been promoting liberal universalist principles and good governance within his country. They are also know that he has been a friends to American and British entrepreneurs and companies as they strove to make their way into African markets. Rwanda is one of Israel’s closest friends on the African continent to boot. And last Tuesday evening, Moroccan King Mohammed VI came to the Rwandan capital Kigali for a series of meetings with Kagame and senior officials. The two leaders signed more than two dozen bilateral agreements to deepen trade, investment, and cooperation for governmental reforms and human and economic development. From the standpoint of the Moroccan monarch, boosting relations with Rwanda falls into a broader vision of Morocco as a guarantor of peace and development across the continent and a bridge between the continent and Morocco’s staunch American and European allies. The king went to great lengths to voice his appreciation for Kagame’s leadership.
It is incumbent on Kagame to nurture new leadership in Rwanda, thereby ensuring that the institutions he has played a vital role in building will eventually run smoothly without him. But there is no reason why, after a stunningly successful run as leader and healer-in-chief and overwhelming popular support for his continued leadership, he should bow to pressure from outsiders powers to retire. His country needs him, the African continent needs him, and the world needs him.
*Huffington Post.Moroccan media CEO and Mid-East policy advisor in Washington
Rwanda’s Last Monarch, The ‘King of Africa,’ Dead at 80
October 18, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Ty McCormick*
The last king of Rwanda is dead.
Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, who ruled his tiny country in central Africa for just nine months before fleeing into exile in 1960, passed away on Sunday in the United States. He was 80.
The last in a long-line of monarchs drawn from Rwanda’s Tutsi minority, Kigeli V was ousted by a Belgian-backed Hutu uprising that began in 1959. Rwandans voted to abolish the monarchy two years later.
Kigeli V spent the next three decades footloose in Africa. He initially sought refuge in Tanganyika, now Tanzania, but later accepted an offer of asylum from Idi Amin in Uganda. When Amin was overthrown in 1979, the exiled king took up residence in Kenya, where in 1990 the New York Times described him living a “modest life” in the suburbs.
He was granted asylum in the United States in 1992, just as his home country was careening toward what would be the defining moment in its history, the slaughter of more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus over the course of 100 days. Kigeli V later established a charity to benefit refugees and orphans of the 1994 genocide.
“It is not something that is easy. It was like the feeling of losing one’s children,” he said of the genocide in 2009. “One must have courage, to see one’s son or one’s mother killed like that and that makes a strong impact. I can’t imagine that it is something that everyone can understand.”
Much of the king’s later life was spent in impoverished obscurity. A 2013 profilein Washingtonian magazine described him surviving on food stamps in low-income housing in a suburb of Washington D.C.
“They call me the King of Africa,” he said of his neighbors there.
Still, Kigeli V clung to the hope of returning to the throne. In 1996, Paul Kagame, who has ruled the country since his Rwandan Patriotic Front ousted the Hutu government and brought the genocide to a halt in 1994, said he was welcome to return home – but not as a monarch. Kigeli V hoped to let the Rwandan people decide that through a referendum.
“The Rwandese people may or may not want me. But in order to return home, I need to know if they still want me to be their king,” he told the BBC.
The exiled king denied links to armed resistance groups bent on restoring him to power. But in 1999, Rwandan authorities detained roughly 200 youths on charges of belonging to “the army of the king.”
“Whoever will come [by the gun] will definitely die…We are ready,” Kagame was quoted as saying at the time.
Kigeli V, who was born Born Jean-Baptiste Ndahindurwa in 1936, passed away early on Sunday morning. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed.
“It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that His Majesty King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, the last King of Rwanda, died early this morning,” read astatement on his website. “He was a devout and dedicated believer and the last anointed African Roman Catholic king to reign over a full country.”
Reporting Africa conference to explore how African media portrays continent
October 12, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The African Media Initiative (AMI) will on 10 to 11 November 2016 host the Reporting Africa conference 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya in a bid to explore how African media covers the continent beyond national borders.
According to Eric Chinje, AMI CEO, the conference will also explore how international media portrays the continent.
The conference will also focus on findings of a research that AMI has carried out on coverage of issues affecting the African continent.
Chinje said that his organisation has made plans for the forthcoming discussion to be graced by some of the top editors from all the 54 African countries.
This is also expected to facilitate wide ranging debate and deliberations on issues related to media coverage of the continent.
This is also expected to chart a new way forward for media organisations in Africa to play a more positive role in the continent’s development agenda.
Africa: Three Women to Join Kagame’s African Union Reform Team
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Edmund Kagire*
At least three eminent women are set to join President Paul Kagame’s team that is charged with spearheading reforms at the African Union.
After The EastAfrican exclusively reported the appointment of Carlos Lopes, Donald Kaberuka, Strive Masiyiwa and Acha Leke to the team, one of the president’s 1.5 million Twitter followers questioned why no woman had been named.
“The team is not complete… awaiting consent of two women to join the team. Thinking of three,” President Kagame replied.
The AU is expected to wean itself of donor dependency by 2018. President Kagame was tasked with leading efforts to reform the AU into a self-reliant body.
Mr Kaberuka, the former president of the African Development Bank, presented a new model of financing to African leaders during the 27th Heads of State Summit held in Kigali in July. He will work with Mr Lopes, the outgoing executive director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and Mr Masiyiwa, the Econet Wireless founder. Mr Leke is a senior partner at global consultancy firm McKinsey & Company.
There was speculation that the team would include Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, but this was countered by the argument that her Cabinet position would not allow her to take up another full time engagement.
The other possible appointee was former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Ms Mushikiwabo, who is also the government spokesperson, confirmed that three women will join the team but said she could not reveal the names yet.
“Indeed, shortly three women will join the team working with President Kagame on the AU reform proposal to be shared with other heads of state at the next AU Summit in January 2017. President Kagame’s work on the reforms is quite advanced, but it’s never too late to get a woman’s views. The president wrote to his fellow African heads of state after the Kigali Summit asking for input to enrich his work, and a few have already responded,” Ms Mushikiwabo told The EastAfrican.
The AU has in the past come under scrutiny for its dependency on donors and its failure to make firm decisions on important matters affecting the continent.
Although the leaders have adopted a new model for financing the AU, challenges remain on how it will be implemented considering that a similar model floated by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo failed to take off. Mr Obasanjo had suggested that states levy a tourism tax of $2 on hotel rooms and a $10 levy on each air ticket bought.
The new model championed by Mr Kaberuka will see countries raise about $1.2 billion to finance AU operations through a 0.2 per cent tax on imports.
“Africa can do better in terms of mobilising internal resources,” Mr Lopes said.
Africa: Will Rwanda Support for Kenya’s AU Chair Nominee Tip the Scales?
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Allan Olingo*
Rwanda is supporting Kenya’s nominee for the African Union Commission chair – Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed – but it remains to be seen which way Tanzania and Uganda will lean.
Ms Mohamed was proposed for the job by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who cited her credentials in diplomacy and exemplary performance in her current docket.
She has been Kenya’s ambassador/permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, and served as the assistant secretary general and deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi.
Ms Mohamed, who will be standing against candidates from the other regional blocs, stands a better chance of election if she gets support from all EAC member states.
Elections to replace Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is stepping down after one term to prepare for a stab at the South African presidency, will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January.
On Friday, a committee to vet candidates met in Addis Ababa.
Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo told The EastAfrican that her country would support Ms Mohamed, ruling out speculation that they would front the former president of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka or former EAC secretary general Richard Sezibera.
“She is the best woman for the job, and she is very much Rwanda’s candidate. She is highly qualified, has incredible diplomatic and managerial experience, and the right heart and mind when it comes to the strategic interests of our continent, as well as Africa’s active presence on the global scene,” Ms Mushikiwabo said.
Uganda’s International Relations State Ministry Permanent Secretary James Mugume said the country was yet to decide on whom to support, but would back the candidate the region agreed on between Kenya’s Ms Mohamed and Somalia’s Fowyiso Yusuf Haji Adan.
The nomination process for the chairperson was opened afresh after the AU Heads of State Summit in Kigali in July failed to elect a successor to South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who has been at the helm since 2012. At the Kigali summit, none of the three contenders for the position – Botswana’s Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, her counterpart from Equatorial Guinea Agapito Mba Mokuy and former vice president of Uganda Specioza Wandira Kazibwe – obtained the required two-thirds majority after seven rounds of voting.
Ms Mohamed is expected to battle it out with Mr Mokuy, Somalia’s Ms Adan and the July elections lead candidate Ms Moitoi. Uganda withdrew its nomination of former vice president Specioza Kazibwe after she did not make it among the top candidates.
The SADC trade bloc, has, however, maintained that it will forward Ms Moitoi’s name because Ms Zuma did not serve her second term. Mr Mokuy had portrayed himself as the Economic Community Of West African States (Ecowas) candidate, yet it was Senegal that instigated the 28 states to boycott the elections due to lack of “high calibre” candidates.
Mr Mokuy had sought the support of Nigeria, the West African economic powerhouse, and Kenya, with a special appeal from President Theodore Obiang Nguema.
Another likely candidate is Senegalese diplomat and politician Abdoulaye Bathily, who is currently the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Central Africa.
Chad’s President Idriss Deby, who currently holds the AU rotational leadership, is also believed to have put forth the name of his Foreign Minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who served as prime minister between 2003 and 2005, and who would present a second candidate for the Central African bloc.
South Africa is said to have great influence on the SADC countries. This week, South African President Jacob Zuma will be in Nairobi for a three-day state visit, and it is expected that President Kenyatta will use the opportunity to drum up support for Ms Mohamed.
In the July elections, South Africa supported Ms Moitoi. Then South Africa’s international relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the region would campaign with Botswana, and that South Africa was fully behind the SADC initiative. They have not come up with an alternative candidate.
Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal, which led the Ecowas campaign to postpone the election, have also been pushing for a candidate.
In May, Senegal’s President Macky Sall raised concerns about the candidates with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Senegalese diplomat and politician Abdoulaye Bathily who is currently the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Central Africa was presented as a candidate at the Kigali meeting, but was turned down because the nominations had closed.
In Mr Bathily, in particular, Ms Mohammed is likely to face a veteran of African politics with working experience in West and Central Africa, one whose participation in the Pan African Movement and socialist movements left him with contacts across the continent, including liberation movements in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola and South Africa.Additional reporting by Daniel Kalinaki and Edmund Kagire.
Africa Makes Progress On Trade and Economic Integration
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Peter Kenny*
Geneva — African countries are boosting intra-regional trade and deepening economic integration at a time when politicians in the global North are raising doubts about the benefits of trade, says the head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi told the World Trade Organization’s annual public forum in Geneva: “Africa is widely noted for its low levels of intra-regional trade, but in fact the levels are much higher when North Africa is removed from the analysis.”
Speaking at a session on inclusive trade at the recent forum, he said economic integration will be key to Africa’s long-term success and African nations must integrate more.
“Africa has to know that there is no part of the world which has been successful in trading globally without learning first to trade with its neighbors,” Dr. Kituyi said.
UNCTAD says that in East Africa, intra-regional trade is closer to 26 percent, the same level as in Latin America.
At the opening of the forum, Nigeria’s Trade and Investment Minister, Okechukwu E. Enelamah, presented remarks for President Muhammadu Buhari which underlined the importance of an inclusive trade agenda.
“This is a key question, particularly at this moment, when leaders are grappling with the challenge and consequences of inequality which has emerged as a major risk to peace and security,” Enelamah said.
“Nigeria believes that a meaningful approach to inclusive trade will combine action by multilateral institutions for updated and more flexible rules, on the one hand, with acceptance of responsibility for serious and sustained domestic policy reforms by member states, on the other hand.”
The minister highlighted efforts the Nigerian government has made to create an enabling environment for business, including the recent ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
The TFA will significantly reduce trade costs for businesses in developing countries, particularly for SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and is also expected to help unblock logjams in intraregional trading.
Enelamah said Nigeria has also established itself as an African start-up center for high-tech firms and the WTO can be supportive on this point by developing an “unfettered” platform for the internet economy.
Meanwhile, preparations continue for the Continental Free Trade Area, bringing together more than one billion people in 54 African countries with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion.
Kituyi said the CFTA was unlikely to be launched in 2017 as originally planned, but the target had helped to move the project forward.
“I had the privilege to visit 16 African presidents to talk to them about the CFTA and I am satisfied that a large number of the political leadership believes in the future and the need for African integration.”
Change is already happening. In the space of a year, the time required to move a container from Mombasa in Kenya to Kampala in Uganda has dropped from 48 days to four. “That is progress.”
Africa’s largest economic sector, its extractive industries, has not created enough jobs on the continent. More intra-African trade will lead to fairer, more equitable, growth, and the creation of more and better jobs.
Dr. Kituyi said there are limits to regional integration, however. He noted Switzerland has prospered without joining the European Union.
And although a single African currency is politically attractive, it cannot be effective without an effective mechanism to discipline public deficits.
Despite the reservations of some politicians, trade is a powerful driver of jobs, economic growth, and achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“Trade is not just about statistics on goods and services. It is also about people,” Kituyi said. “And for me, trade integration is most exciting whenever it creates more jobs.”
At the forum the WTO launched a new publication entitled “African Perspectives on Trade and the WTO.”
The book – co-published by the WTO and Cambridge University Press – examines how enhanced participation in world trade could help Africa achieve further growth and emphasizes the need for the continent to undertake structural reforms to underpin its economic transformation.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) announces investment opportunities in the Kivu Belt, hotbed for luxury and leisure tourism
October 4, 2016 | 0 Comments
|According to tourism statistics, the industry registered more than US $ 340m in revenues in 2015 indicating a 10% increase from 2014|
KIGALI, Rwanda, October 4, 2016/ — The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) today held a press conference to announce the Africa Hotel Investment Forum that is happening in Kigali, Rwanda from 4th to 6th October. The forum will provide an excellent platform for Rwanda to showcase its immense investment opportunities in the hotel and tourism industry. At the press conference the Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza encouraged participants to discover the various opportunities, especially the Kivu Belt Rwanda’s tourism and hospitality haven along with six prime real estate properties in the Kivu Belt, west of Rwanda.
“Rwanda is a strategic investment choice primarily because we provide a supportive business environment with all necessary services available online 24/7. With tourism being the country’s mainstay, the government is a key stakeholder and has taken great care to develop the necessary infrastructure to support the growth of the sector, such as strong roads, water supply and electricity,” Kariza said.
The key investment opportunities presented include: a hot spring eco-tourism resort on the Rubavu Peninsula, an entertainment and leisure complex in Rubavu, a five-star golf resort and residential villas, an Ecolodge on Gihaya Island, a premium boutique hotel and tourism center in Rusizi and the completion of a five-star conference and leisure hotel in Rusizi district. The respective projects range in value from $50 up to $152 million.
Rwanda’s western province is a popular tourist destination given its vicinity to the Volcanoes National Park, home of the mountain gorillas and its current offering of lakeside resorts and water sports. According to tourism statistics, the industry registered more than US $ 340m in revenues in 2015 indicating a 10% increase from 2014.
“As we develop more tourism packages, it is important that we diversify our offering in terms of luxury accommodations and amenities for our clients. Lake Kivu is literally paradise on earth and presents the opportunity for Rwanda to become a resort destination,” she added.
The Kivu belt offers a breath-taking, incredible scenery, exquisite weather and accessibility making it attractive holiday destination. The Kivu Belt houses prime lakeside properties, flora and fauna, cultural and heritage sites and nature trails.
The Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) is the premier hotel investment conference in Africa, attracting many prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers and management companies. The forum provides a platform for exchange of information, transfer of knowledge and more importantly, an occasion to pitch Rwanda as the ideal investment destination to decision makers in the hotel investors.
Cautious Optimism for Investors in Sub-Saharan Africa Hotel Sector
October 4, 2016 | 0 Comments
|Investor sentiment for hotels in Sub-Saharan Africa remains positive despite economic headwinds in key markets, according to the latest JLL research into the sector|
KIGALI, Rwanda, October 4, 2016/ — Investor sentiment for hotels in Sub-Saharan Africa remains positive despite economic headwinds in key markets, according to the latest JLL research into the sector. The long-term outlook continues to be strong and is driven by positive economic, demographic and tourism trends, with all indicators pointing to continued hotel demand growth as the region’s economy and hotel sector continue to mature.
Speaking at the Africa Hotel Investment Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, Xander Nijnens, Senior Vice-President, Hotels and Hospitality Group, JLL Sub-Saharan Africa , said: “Our medium-term outlook for the hotel sector is positive and JLL forecasts demand growth of 3% to 5% per annum during the coming three years. From an investment perspective, we forecast USD1.7 billion to be invested in hotels in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2017 and a further USD1.9 billion in 2018. The new supply pipeline continues to grow with greater efficiency in realising new developments as the sector matures”.
Nijnens added, “The hotel sector is not, however, without its challenges and we are seeing an increasing divergence of the performance and outlook for key markets. The region offers a broad range of challenges and opportunities, as well as risk and reward. From the perspective of global capital searching for investment opportunities, the region can be a challenging one to navigate. Investors and lenders alike are recognising this and, while regional players continue to leverage their first mover advantage to entrench their presence in the sector, global capital will increasingly flow into the region as markets mature and transparency increases.”
Hotel developers and operators are increasingly understanding how to tap into this demand and are offering a broader hospitality offering best suited for each market and client base. This demand growth, paired with more effective matching of supply to demand, sets a good foundation for investment. Nijnens noted that, “Long-term investment fundamentals for the region remain positive despite the short-term challenges that have impacted the hotel sector in Sub-Saharan Africa in the past two years. Macro-economic development and government policy towards tourism, investment and economic growth remain critical in a corporate demand-led sector.”
The main barrier to entry in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the research, is finding projects that meet the minimum return threshold. The capital is available, but investors are seeking the right leveraging to achieve their equity returns. Lack of foreign currency ranked higher this year as investors struggle to deal with various currency factors. Improvements in political, economic and currency stability will see a reduction in the risk premium placed on hotel investment in the region, which will in turn increase capital flows. Development costs should reduce in the medium-term as development professionals, owners and lenders gain experience in the region. As the pipeline of new projects is more effectively implemented, liquidity will increase and exit options will improve.
Lenders in the region are more cautious towards the hotel sector than their clients, particularly with regard to underwriting operational cash flows in what is seen as an emerging sector. Nijnens concludes, “For the foreseeable future, we can expect commercial bank lending to be determined on the basis of recourse to the sponsor, while the development banks will play a critical role in pioneering new frontiers. As institutional investment increases, lending is expected to become more readily available at improved terms, which will in turn provide better leverage returns on equity.”
Investors who carefully consider the supply and demand variables of the markets in which they develop and transact are well placed to generate high risk adjusted returns. Those who are able to establish platforms with scale should be increasingly well placed to attract external capital or become an acquisition prospect for larger global players.
The diverse set of fundamentals in each market is becoming integral to the way in which investors and lenders approach the sector, with a region-wide approach becoming increasingly challenging. The research promotes the view that investors should embrace the diversity that these markets bring, but most importantly understand the variety and nuances of these markets.