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How the Democratic Republic of the Congo Beat Ebola in 42 Days
July 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Children in Guinea get their feet disinfected in the West African Ebola outbreak of 2015

Children in Guinea get their feet disinfected in the West African Ebola outbreak of 2015

The latest outbreak was swiftly contained by a fast, decisive response, acting as a model for containing infectious diseases in remote places.

By ED YONG*

As anti-climaxes go, it was a most welcome one. On May 11, the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) notified the World Health Organization that one of its citizens had been infected with the Ebola virus. The announcement marked the start of the country’s first Ebola outbreak since the historically unprecedented West African epidemic that infected 28,000 people between 2014 and 2016, and killed more than 11,000.

But after just 42 days, it was all over.

With the last confirmed patient having tested negative for the virus for the second time in a row, the WHO declared an end to the outbreak on Sunday. Just four people had died, and just four more had become infected.

This swift resolution was partly a matter of luck. The virus hit the remote and sparsely populated Likati region, which is 1,300 kilometers away from the capital city of Kinshasa, and nestled deep in equatorial rainforest. “People weren’t moving around in the way they were during the West African outbreak,” says Anne Rimoin from the University of California Los Angeles, who has worked in the DRC for 15 years. “So it was a very small outbreak in and of itself.”

But just as importantly, once the first cases were confirmed, the response was fast, decisive, and coordinated—all qualities that were initially missing in West Africa. The DRC response shows that when everything goes right, Ebola can be quickly brought to heel, even when it hits poor, remote places. “With the end of this epidemic, DRC has once again proved to the world that we can control the very deadly Ebola virus if we respond early in a coordinated and efficient way,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s new Director-General, in a statement.

The DRC has had eight run-ins with Ebola since 1976, and has proven to be remarkably successful at controlling the virus. In 2014, for example, while West Africa was struggling with its historically unprecedented epidemic, the DRC managed to contain its own separate outbreak after just 66 cases and 49 deaths. “In the West Africa outbreak, nobody was looking for Ebola. It wasn’t on a list of things that people were worried about, or even among the top suspects at the time,” says Rimoin. “But in the DRC, when you see something that resembles Ebola, it’s one of the first things that come to mind.”

The symptoms of Ebola are greatly exaggerated in the popular press. It’s not a disease of apocalyptic hemorrhaging from every orifice, and symptoms can easily be mistaken for other maladies. In this case, the first patient—a 45-year-old man who contracted the virus on 22 April—initially went to see a traditional healer. When that didn’t work, he took a taxi to a health center—and died on the way. (Both the driver, and a third individual who cared for the man, also eventually died.) The center quickly suspected Ebola and immediately sent samples to a national laboratory in Kinshasa. The staff there had the right knowledge, training, and connections—they ran some preliminary tests while also calling international colleagues. Rimoin flew over with the latest diagnostics.

 After the first positive case was confirmed, the government immediately notified the WHO, which activated their emergency protocols. That inaccessibility of Likati was both a blessing and a curse—it made it harder for the virus to spread, but also harder for health workers to reach the infected zone. Fortunately, after the sluggish response to the West African Ebola epidemic, the WHO had set up a $41 million contingency fund to ensure that money would be readily available for future emergencies. This fund allowed them and other organizations to quickly rent helicopters for flying personnel, generators, and supplies into Likati. “Within 24 hours, we could start airlifting,” says Ibrahima-Soce Fall, director of the health security and emergencies cluster at the WHO’s African office.

The team set up a base camp and field lab in the grounds of a former convent. Health workers immediately started tracking anyone who had contact with infected individuals, eventually tracing 583 such contacts. There weren’t any good maps of the area, so the volunteers used their cellphones to start charting the region. They spread out through the region’s villages to improve accessibility by fixing bridges and forest tracks. With training from UNICEF and the WHO, they taught local communities how to stop Ebola from spreading, how to safely bury people who die from the disease, and how to disinfect affected homes.

In the end, the outbreak was so small that it’s unclear if this fast response made much of a difference. But with diseases like Ebola, it’s far better to be accused of overreacting than of being lax. “It’s a good sign of things to come,” says Rimoin. “It wasn’t necessarily needed in this case, but it showed that the world is much more capable of managing outbreaks.”

The response was so effective that even though this was the first Ebola outbreak where a potential vaccine was available, it wasn’t necessary. Around 300,000 doses had been stockpiled. None were used. “This is a candidate vaccine, which still has some steps before it is fully licensed,” says Fall. “The WHO expert committee recommended to use it in the event of an outbreak, on health workers and [people who had been in contact with cases.] But because the outbreak was rapidly controlled, we didn’t need to use it.”

The outbreak may be over, but the response continues. For the next 90 days, the WHO will continue to strengthen health services in the region, to ensure that local volunteers are trained to spot possible symptoms should the disease arise again. That, after all, is what preparedness is all about. A country’s ability to control diseases in a crisis depends on everything that it sets in place during peace-time.

“This is clearly not the last outbreak,” says Rimoin. “But this time we did better. And every time, we do better.”

*The Atlantic

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Better connecting Africa to the US should be a priority
July 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

BY JOHN WILLIAM TEMPLETON*

The new Ambassador of the African Union to the United States has a distinctive viewpoint for her task.

Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao has practiced medicine in middle Tennessee for the past 25 years, operating four clinics.

A new generation of African leaders versed in science and finance are changing the image of the continent.

Chihombori, known in Tennessee simply as “The African Queen,” has been part of that transition since the ascension of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa.

The Zimbabwe native launched the African Diaspora Healthcare Initiative 20 years ago to bring about a vision of world-class medical centers on the continent, fueled by doctors from around the world who make time in Africa an important part of their experience, and train practitioners while there.

 

She joined us in Los Angeles for the launch of a tourism initiative to spotlight the black experience in Southern California, where 1.5 million African-Americans are among the 50 million yearly visitors to Los Angeles.

However, they rarely learn about the significant role of blacks in the city’s history or the extensive cultural amenities which the 1 million African-American residents have created.

Along with her was Richard Patterson, CEO of Trion Supercars, the first African-American automaker in a century.

The previous week, I had been in lower Manhattan where 25 years ago, the black community of New York City insisted that the bones of 15,000 17th century Africans be properly respected with the African Burial Ground National Monument.

The new Visitor Center is as moving as the new Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History, with a 20 minute film that captures the feelings of the people who worked so hard to build what became the world’s greatest city.

Chihombori understands the mandate of that history as she discusses the “Joseph generation” in the Biblical analogy which was separated in order to save their home in the future. The continent’s leaders have charged her with being the catalyst for invigorating ties between the Sixth Region of the African Union-the Africans who migrated around the world–and its nations.

Changing old stereotypes takes direct personal engagement. On a suggestion from a patient, she visited the auction of Chapman Clearing, a plantation dating back to 1799 and unexpectedly won the property, which had practiced slavery during the 19th century. In an act of grace, she told the Chapmans that they could stay in the property while she decided what to do with the investment.

Later on, Chapman confided with her that it had completely changed the way he thought about black people.

She and her husband, Dr. Nii Saban Quao, then turned the former slave plantation into Africa House, using the 15,000 square foot mansion and the surrounding 30 acres for tourists, events and conferences on the transformation of the African continent.

She also bought a hotel in Durban, South Africa which is also a place for cultural heritage tourism and intellectual engagement.

The graduate of Fisk University and Meharry Medical College is returning the grace that former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher extended during her medical studies. She had almost turned down her acceptance to Meharry because she lacked the funds for medical school, but her husband insisted that she accept.

Although the money didn’t materialize, every year, the financial aid office sent her to meet with Dr. Satcher, then the president of the college, for a long conversation about her goals and African culture. Every year, he would sign papers to allow her to continue her studies. Eventually, she completely repaid all the tuition and fees.

Satcher’s insight channelled the voices of those unknown Africans buried in the African Burial Ground and at Chapman Clearing who endured suffering so that future generations would learn about the proud heritage that they inherit.

Africa’s new spokesperson in the U.S. knows America from the inside out.

Both sides of the Atlantic are certain to benefit.

*The Hill.John William Templeton is co-founder of the 14th annual National Black Business Month and creator of the California African-American Freedom Trail. He leads African Free School summer institutes in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Miami in July and August.

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Bushra al-Fadil wins 18th Caine Prize for African Writing
July 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Bushra al-Fadil

Bushra al-Fadil

Bushra al-Fadil has won the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for his short story entitled “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, translated by Max Shmookkler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction(Comma Press, UK. 2016). The Chair of Judges, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, announced Bushra al-Fadil as the winner of the £10,000 prize at an award dinner this evening (Monday, 3 July) held for the first time in Senate House, London, in partnership with SOAS as part of their centenary celebrations. As a translated story, the prize money will be split – with £7,000 going to Bushra and £3,000 to the translator, Max Shmookler.

“The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away” vividly describes life in a bustling market through the eyes of the narrator, who becomes entranced by a beautiful woman he sees there one day. After a series of brief encounters, tragedy unexpectedly befalls the woman and her young female companion.

Nii Ayikwei Parkes praised the story, saying, “the winning story is one that explores through metaphor and an altered, inventive mode of perception – including, for the first time in the Caine Prize, illustration – the allure of, and relentless threats to freedom. Rooted in a mix of classical traditions as well as the vernacular contexts of its location, Bushra al-Fadil’s “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, is at once a very modern exploration of how assaulted from all sides and unsupported by those we would turn to for solace we can became mentally exiled in our own lands, edging in to a fantasy existence where we seek to cling to a sort of freedom until ultimately we slip into physical exile.”

Bushra al-Fadil is a Sudanese writer living in Saudi Arabia. His most recent collection Above a City’s Sky was published in 2012, the same year Bushra won the al-Tayeb Salih Short Story Award. Bushra holds a PhD in Russian language and literature.

Bushra was joined on the 2017 shortlist by:

  • Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria) for ‘Bush Baby’ published in African Monsters, eds. Margarét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas (Fox Spirit Books, UK. 2015)
  • Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) for ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’ published in A Public Space 24 (A Public Space Literary Projects Inc., USA. 2016)
  • Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa) for ‘The Virus’  published in The Harvard Review 49 (Houghton Library Harvard University, USA. 2016)

The panel of judges was chaired by Nii Ayikwei Parkes – member of the Caine Prize Council and Director of the Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing at the African University College of Communications in Accra, the first of its kind in West Africa. He is the author of the novel Tail of the Blue Bird (Jonathan Cape, UK. 2009) which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2010.

Alongside Nii on the panel of judges are: Chair of the English Department at Georgetown University, Professor Ricardo Ortiz; Libyan author and human rights campaigner, Ghazi Gheblawi; distinguished African literary scholar, Dr Ranka Primorac; and 2007 Caine Prize winner, Monica Arac de Nyeko.

As in previous years, the winner of the Caine Prize will be given an opportunity to take up residence at Georgetown University at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The winner will also be invited to speak at the Library of Congress. Each shortlisted writer receives £500, and Max Shmookler, translator of Bushra al-Fadil’s shortlisted story (originally written in Arabic) receives £250. The winner is invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, Storymoja in Nairobi and Ake Festival in Abeokuta, Nigeria.

Last year the Caine Prize was won by South African writer Lidudumalingani for his story “Memories We Lost” from Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You (Burnet Media, South Africa. 2015). Lidudumalingani has since gone on to win a Miles Morland Scholarship and is currently writing his debut novel, Let Your Children Name Themselves.

The New Internationalist 2017 anthology, The Goddess of Mtwara and other stories, is now published and it includes all of the shortlisted stories along with 11 other short stories written at the Caine Prize 2017 workshop in Tanzania. You can buy the anthology at https://newint.org/books/fiction/caine-prize-2017/. The anthology is also available from 11 African co-publishers who receive the print ready PDF free of charge.

The Caine Prize, awarded annually for African creative writing, is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years.

The Prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer published in English (indicative length 3,000 to 10,000 words). An African writer is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality.

The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka and J M Coetzee, are Patrons of The Caine Prize. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is President of the Council, Ben Okri OBE is Vice President, Dr Delia Jarrett-Macauley is the Chair, Adam Freudenheim is the Deputy Chairperson and Dr Lizzy Attree is the Director.

Full biographies of the shortlistees are available at http://caineprize.com/2017-shortlist/.

Full biographies of the 2017 judges are available at http://caineprize.com/2017-judges/.

This year 148 short stories from writers representing 22 African countries were received and entered into the 2017 Caine Prize before they were whittled down to the final 5. The judges made their final decision on the winner today.

Previous winners are Sudan’s Leila Aboulela (2000), Nigerian Helon Habila (2001), Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Kenyan Yvonne Owuor (2003), Zimbabwean Brian Chikwava (2004), Nigerian Segun Afolabi (2005), South African Mary Watson (2006), Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007), South African Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008), Nigerian EC Osondu (2009), Sierra Leonean Olufemi Terry (2010), Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo (2011), Nigerian Tope Folarin (2013), Kenyan Okwiri Oduor (2014), Zambian Namwali Serpell (2015), and South African Lidudumalingani (2016).

The five shortlisted stories, alongside stories written at Caine Prize workshop held in Tanzania in March 2017, are published annually by New Internationalist (UK), Interlink Publishing (USA), Jacana Media (South Africa), LanternBooks (United States), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe), Mkuki na Nyota (Tanzania), Redsea Cultural Foundation (Somalia and Somaliland), Gadsen Publishers (Zambia), Huza Press (Rwanda),  Books are available from the publishers or from the Africa Book Centre, African Books Collective or Amazon.

The Caine Prize is principally supported by The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, The Miles Morland Foundation, The Carnegie Corporation, the Booker Prize Foundation, Sigrid Rausing & Eric Abraham, The Wyfold Charitable Trust, the Royal Over-Seas League and John and Judy Niepold.  Other funders and partners include, The British Council, Georgetown University (USA), The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, The van Agtmael Family Charitable Fund, Rupert and Clare McCammon, Adam and Victoria Freudenheim, Arindam Bhattacherjee, Phillip Ihenacho and other generous donors.

Special thanks also go to the Centre of African Studies and SOAS, University of London, for supporting this year’s award dinner, held for the first time in London.

*The Caine Prize

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CNN journalist thanks Nigerian medics for saving mother’s life
July 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Isha Sesay

Isha Sesay

Isha Sesay, a British journalist of Sierra Leonean descent, has thanked Nigerian doctors and nurses for saving her mother’s life.

In a series of posts on Twitter, the journalist who works for CNN, said: “It would make a huge difference in the lives of ordinary citizens if Sierra Leone’s leaders went to our public hospitals for treatment.”

“When my mother took ill in Sierra Leone last December, I had to take her to Nigeria. I’m so grateful for Nigerian nurses and doctors who saved her life,” she wrote.

“Many have asked which hospital my mum was admitted to in Nigeria. It was Lagoon hospital in Apapa. She was in ICU for three months.

“I am thankful there were medical options in Nigeria for my mother because I had none available in Sierra Leone.”

When my mother took ill in Sierra Leone last Dec I had to take her to Nigeria. I’m so grateful for Nigerian nurses & docs who saved her life https://twitter.com/Dokunsworld/status/881239714375794689 

Many have asked which hospital my mum was admitted to in Nigeria. It was Lagoon hospital in Apapa. She was in ICU for 3 mths  https://twitter.com/OnyieChine/status/881417693341024260 

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Mugabe donates $1 million to African Union
July 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe arrives at the African Union headquarters during the opening ceremony of the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Governments, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe arrives at the African Union headquarters during the opening ceremony of the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Governments, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Monday he was donating $1 million to the African Union (AU), hoping to set an example for African countries to finance AU programmes and wean it off funding from outside donors.

For years, about 60 percent of AU spending has been financed by donors including the European Union, World Bank and governments of wealthy non-African countries.

Mugabe, who has held power in Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, has said reliance on foreign funds allows big powers to interfere in the work of the AU.

The 93-year-old Mugabe told an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he had auctioned 300 cattle from his personal herd in May to fulfil a promise made to the continental body two years ago.

“Africa needs to finance its own programmes. Institutions like the AU cannot rely on donor funding as the model is not sustainable,” Mugabe said in comments broadcast on Zimbabwe’s state television.

“This humble gesture on Zimbabwe’s part has no universal application but it demonstrates what is possible when people apply their minds to tasks before them.”

The African Union’s 2017 budget is $782 million, increasing from $416.8 million last year. African leaders in July 2016 agreed in principle to charge a 0.2 percent levy on some exports to help finance AU operations.

Zimbabwe, whose economy was devastated by a drought last year, does not disclose its contributions to the AU. The top five African contributors are Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and South Africa.

*Reuters.(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by James Macharia and Andrew Roche)

 

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World Food Prize goes to African Development Bank president •June 26, 2017
June 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

By DAVID PITT*

Dr Akinwunmi Adesina

Dr Akinwunmi Adesina

The son of a Nigerian farm laborer who rose out of poverty to earn graduate degrees in agricultural economics and spent his career improving the availability of seed, fertilizer and financing for African farmers is the winner of this year’s World Food Prize announced Monday.

Akinwumi Adesina, president of African Development Bank, says the future of global food security relies on making farming in Africa a profitable business and developing local food processing that adds value to agricultural products to help move farmers out of poverty.

“I believe that what Africa does with agriculture and how it does it is not only important for Africa but it’s important for how we’re going to feed the world by 2050 because 65 percent of all the uncultivated arable land left in the world is in Africa,” he said. “To help Africa get it right in agriculture is also going to be a key part of securing food for the world.”

World Food Prize President Kenneth Quinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, said those goals are one reason the organization’s board chose Adesina this year for the $250,000 prize.

An official announcement for the World Food Prize came in a ceremony Monday at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue hosting the event. Adesina, 57, works in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where the African Development Bank is based. He will receive the prize in a ceremony Oct. 19 at the Iowa Capitol.

“Dr. Adesina knows that our work is not done. The challenge of feeding 9 billion people in just a short time will continue as we address the hunger issue,” Perdue said. “At USDA we keep that in mind as the world population grows and we want to be a huge contributor in providing the food needed to resolve and to supply the global demand for that vital noble resource.”

The World Food Prize was created by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug in 1986 to recognize scientists and others who have improved the quality and availability of food. The foundation that awards the prize is based in Des Moines, Iowa.

The award recognizes several of Adesina’s accomplishments including:

—Negotiating a partnership between commercial banks and development organizations to provide loans to tens of thousands of farmers and agribusinesses in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Mozambique.

— Creating programs to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production and to help cassava become a major cash crop while serving as Nigeria’s minister of agriculture from 2011 to 2015.

—Helping to end more than 40 years of corruption in the fertilizer and seed sectors in Nigeria by launching an electronic wallet system that directly provides farmers with vouchers redeemable for inputs using mobile phones. The resulting increased farm yields have led to the improvement of food security for 40 million people in rural farm households.

Adesina said it’s vitally important to show young people in rural regions of Africa that farming can be profitable and can improve their lives as a way to stem terrorist recruitment efforts. He said high unemployment among young people, high or extreme poverty, and climate and environmental degradation all contribute to conditions in which terrorists thrive. He said these factors make up “the disaster triangle.”

“Anywhere you find those you find terrorists operating. It never fails,” he said.

Adesina grew up in poverty in a rural area of Nigeria and said his father and grandfather walked fields as laborers. After his father was chosen for a government job, Adesina was able to go to college. He earned agriculture economics degrees — both a master’s and a doctorate — from Purdue University in Indiana.

As a student, he said he saw that classmates were able to attend school when agriculture afforded them the opportunity, but they dropped out when it didn’t. He said from that experience he learned making agriculture profitable so families can provide their children with an education was a key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

He said he often thinks of the hundreds of millions of young, rural African people whose opportunities are limited because of what is happening with agriculture.

“So in a way for me this is not a job,” Adesina said. “This is a mission. And I believe that in getting agriculture to be a business — turning our rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic opportunity — therein lies the future of Africa’s youth, especially those rural youths.”

*AP/ABC News

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These 6 African Players Were Drafted Into the NBA Last Night
June 26, 2017 | 0 Comments
Frank Ntilikina

Frank Ntilikina

DIASPORA—The 2017 NBA draft took place last night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Standout players from college basketball teams and international divisions—60 in total—were given the opportunity to join the pros in hopes of becoming future NBA stars.

A number of African athletes were present for the affair and a total of six players—five from Nigeria and one from Rwanda—will be added to team rosters this upcoming season.

See all of the African players picked during this year’s NBA draft below. Congrats to them all!

Frank Ntilikina

The point guard, born in Strasbourg, France to Rwandan parents, was drafted by the Knicks and was the 2017 eighth overall pick.

The 19-year-old, Nigerian-American power forward was the 14th overall draft pick. He joins the Miami Heat after playing just one season of college basketball at the University of Kentucky.

Also 19, the British-born, Nigerian forward was picked 23rd overall by the Toronto Raptors. Before being drafted, Anunoby played college basketball for the Indiana Hoosiers.

Wesley Iwundu 

The Nigerian-American small forward from Kansas State was the 33rd overall pick, and will join the Orlando Magic.

Semi Ojeleye 

Ojeleye hails from Southern Methodist University and was the 37th overall pick last night. The Nigerian-American power forward was one of three of the Boston Celtic’s second round picks.

Ike Anigbogu

The Indiana Pacers drafted the Nigerian-American University of California, Los Angeles  freshman in the second round. He was the 47th overall pick.

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African Solutions Are Needed For African Problems-Prophet Shepherd Bushiri on his Corporate Side
June 21, 2017 | 17 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems, says Prophet Bushiri

We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems, says Prophet Bushiri

In just two years, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri Founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), says his Ministry has registered over 300,000 new members. But why is the ECG such a crowd puller in so short a time? Blending the spiritual needs of his followers, with skills to navigate daily challenges  with success seems to be the winning recipe.

“We do not just preach, in words and deeds, the gospel of the living Jesus Christ. We also teach and empower people on how to face daily economic challenges of their lives through entrepreneurship programmes and also skills development,” says Prophet Bushiri.

With headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa, Prophet Bushiri says in addition to his spiritual work, he has the vision to seek African solutions to African problems.

While many may be familiar with the religious side of Prophet Bushiri, the man of God has a rapidly growing business empire with the Shepherd Bushiri Investments. From aviation to real estate, farming, financial, education and IT services, Prophet Bushiri is slowly but steadily carving a niche for himself in the African business landscape.

‘At the ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Prophet Bushiri of the sustained efforts to also boost the  entrepreneurial skills of his followers.

Mr Shepherd Bushiri, thanks for accepting to grant this interview could you start by introducing yourself, who is Prophet Shepherd Bushiri the man of God, and Entrepreneur?

Thank you for affording me this opportunity to speak with you. I truly appreciate you taking time out of your schedule for this.

I am a Malawian born Man of God currently based in Pretoria, South Africa. I am married to Prophetess Mary Bushiri and we have two beautiful daughters.

I am the founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) and its headquarters is in Pretoria South Africa.

In just two years in South Africa, the church has achieved over 300 000 registered members just in South Africa.

Further, we have branches in Africa, Europe, Australia and North and South America.

Prophet Bushiri with his family, his wife plays a leading role in running SBI

Prophet Bushiri with his family, his wife plays a leading role in running SBI

I often get asked: Why is your ministry growing fast? Simply put, it is because we do not just preach, in words and deeds, the gospel of the living Jesus Christ. We also teach and empower people on how to face daily economic challenges of their lives through entrepreneurship programmes and also skills development. People are able not just to read and hear about the word of God; they also see, live and experience it.

You are President of Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI), can you tell us about your group, and how it has evolved over the years to what it is today?

We started with a vision of creating structures and systems that could empower young Africans with skills development and employment. This vision has turned into a reality.

Today, we own and manage a number of business entities under Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI). We are in Travel and Aviation for VIP’s and Presidents, through SBI Airways, where we have four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates. We are in financial services where our Trading and Stock Exchange Services industry specialists provide comprehensive, integrated solutions to the Banking & Securities, Insurance, and Investment Management sectors.

We are also in Real estate where our industry practice providing world-class standards of differentiated residential and commercial property services and delivery. Hospitality Services. Currently, we own Sparkling Waters Hotel and Spa, situated in the heart of South Africa’s Magaliesburg Mountains, it is a luxurious three-star hotel, the ideal holiday or conference venue. Further, we are also in Mobile Telecommunications Services through one of SBI’s largest group of specialists providing cutting-edge mobile services specifically designed for PSB Network members.

SBI Airways, has four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates

SBI Airways, has four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates

Other entities include: SB University, SB Mining, SB Mobile Network, SB Trading Exchange Platform, SB Media, SB Real Estates and SB Agriculture.

How did you get the seed money or capital and at what point did the big break come for the SBI Group?

After I began my ministry in Malawi, I realised that for a ministry to go far, I needed more money. Besides that, I am a father, a husband and a family man. I needed money to take care of my family. Using my small savings from personal endeavours, family assistance and well-wishers I ventured into farming. I was growing and selling maize on a family land—by the way, maize is Malawi’s staple food. I started saving and investing every fortune I got from my maize sales. With days, my investments began to grow. These profits afforded me the opportunity to be where I am today.

The key word is ‘saving’ and ‘investing wisely.’

There are definitely other business ventures of yours that we are not aware, is Prophet Shepherd Bushiri willing to share them with us?

SBI businesses are the ones stated above.

What ties do you have with your home country of Malawi and any projects you have carried out there?

I am a proud and patriotic Malawian. I go to Malawi often on philanthropic work. We distribute relief maize to the poor, we go to prisons, we reach out to the sick, the orphans and the elderly.

Malawi is a beautiful and friendly nation. It is my home.

What are some of the challenges you faced growing the group, and how will you describe the business climate in Africa, atleast in countries where you currently do business in?

Well, challenges of doing business—ranging from corruption, dwindling consumer buying power and soaring taxes—will always be there. SBI, however, is turning them into success by advancing a business and investment culture that puts the clients first. Africa is a great continent with great potential. Opportunities are many and I think they will always be there.

What I envision, of course, is an Africa with African solutions—be it politics, economics and social life. We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems.

How does Prophet Bushiri balance his pastoral duties with the corporal responsibilities he has at the SBI?

Time management is essential for all works that one does but most importantly is having a strong team. Fortunately, our team is excellent.

Any biblical precedent for this blend of spiritual duties and corporate interests which seems to be working for you?

If you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham says Prophet Bushiri in response to the vilification of men of God "blessed with fortune"

If you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham says Prophet Bushiri in response to the vilification of men of God “blessed with fortune”

I need to emphasise here that there is a tradition of vilifying Men of God whom have been blessed them with a fortune. There is this perception that Men of God are not supposed to be involved in business, to get rich, for instance. I don’t know where this perception comes from, but, if you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham. It really sets a good example but then you do not just get rich. You must be a great worker—something which I am.

What is the reaction of your Church members to the business successes of their leader and for those who will want to register the same what message do you have for them?

My congregants are heavily encouraged with my success in business. They see me as a source of hope and also the definition of succeeding in doing business even when you are a Christian.

With the motto ‘At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires’, I aim to transfer knowledge and skills of doing business in my congregants through the Monday Evening Service called the Diplomatic Service. During this weekly service, I train my congregant on how to begin, grow and manage a business using Godly ways.

I am telling you we are making unprecedented progress!

Africa has witnessed a proliferation of churches, and the opulence in which the Pastors or owners of some of the mega churches live is at odds with the everyday toil and pain of their follows, how do your own followers feel about your wealth, how do you feel when in all the wealth you have followers who live in misery, and what is your response to criticisms that religious leaders like you exploit followers for selfish ends?

At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Bushiri

At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Bushiri

Wealth comes from God—it’s a blessing, a gift that we are all born with. What matters is to listen to God for He is the one who has the keys to unlock it for us. The key thing is PRAYER and hard work.

I have never been involved in exploiting my church members. What they contribute to ECG is for the growth of the ministry—not my personal life. This is the reason I started venturing in business so that I do not meet my needs using money from church.

From your take Prophet Bushiri, how can Africans make the distinction between real and fake prophets, genuine men of God and adventurers?

I am a Man of God, heavenly ordained. I cannot speak for others. I feel it’s the sole responsibility of God to make that distinction.

We end with business which was the main thrust of the interview, what projects will the SBI Group be working on  in the years ahead?

We are interested in growing our entities and expanding to almost every country in Africa. We also want to support more especially—the elderly, orphans and youth.

 

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Why do opposition coalitions succeed or fail?
June 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

Some sweep to power. Many more crumble. Why? And which way will Zimbabwe’s 2018 coalition go?

BY NICOLE BEARDSWORTH*

Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru join hands in a bid to win the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru join hands in a bid to win the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe.

For the past two decades, the phenomenon of the opposition coalition has gained growing traction and interest across Africa.

In 2000, a group of opposition parties in Senegal joined forces as the Sopi (or “Change”) alliance. Together, they defeated the incumbent president and ended 40 years of one-party dominance.

In 2002, Kenya’s opposition repeated the trick. In the 1992 and 1997 elections, losing parties had cumulatively gained over 60% of the vote. But this time around, they grouped together as the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). This united opposition swept to power, removing the party that had governed Kenya since 1963.

Since then, pre-electoral coalitions have changed governments again in Senegal, as well as in Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Nigeria and The Gambia.

When elections are held in 2018, Zimbabwe hopes to join this growing list.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party (NPP) have agreed – in principle – to team up. A host of other opposition parties have also provisionally joined, including: Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Dumiso Dabengwa’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD), Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and Elton Mangoma’s Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ).

This would be a broad and impressive coalition, bringing together many well-known faces and politicians who have electoral support outside of traditional opposition strongholds. But for every successful opposition alliance Africa has seen, there have been several more that have crumbled after early optimism or fallen flat at the ballot box.

Why do coalitions sometimes become more than the sum of their parts and generate a huge surge of support? Why do they often fragment and collapse?

Fighting each other vs. fighting together

One crucial indicator of whether an opposition coalition will succeed is how polarised the political landscape is. This can determine the degree to which parties are able to join forces coherently and without undermining their own reputation and principles.

According to political scientist Nicolas Van de Walle, opposition coalitions only work when they appear capable of winning and thus prompt members of the ruling party to defect. These defectors not only bolster the ranks of the opposition, but can bring supporters with them and sway undecided voters.

Ahead of Nigeria’s 2015 elections, for example, the All Progressives Congress was significantly strengthened by mass defections from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Similarly, in Zambia in 2016, dozens of defectors from the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) drastically improved the electoral fortunes of the United Party for National Development (UPND).

However, this strategy is not straightforward. To begin with, it can be difficult to encourage members of the ruling party to cross the aisle. And when they do, it can be tough to persuade opposition supporters to vote for someone who was, until recently, part of the government.

The more deeply polarised the political landscape, the harder this is.

Uganda, for example, is at the other end of the spectrum to Nigeria or Zambia where defections are not particularly costly. In Uganda, the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has long defined itself in stark contrast to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). It emphasises the persecution it has experienced at the hands of the ruling party, which it characterises as illegitimate and unjust.

This makes it hard for the FDC to encourage defections from the NRM, which it consistently attacks in no uncertain terms. Moreover, when figures within the ruling party do defect, it can be risky for the FDC to bring them into the fold without undermining its own image.

In 2016, the FDC faced a dilemma when the opposition alliance it was part of voted for the recently-expelled former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi to be its flag-bearer. The FDC was confronted with the prospect of backing a former insider in the very government it had long denounced. Afraid of alienating its base and diluting its anti-regime brand, the FDC decided to leave the coalition.

When it comes to Zimbabwe, the environment looks similarly polarised, especially between the main opposition MDC-T and the ruling ZANU-PF. The MDC-T claims to be the democratic saviour to the ZANU-PF’s illegitimate authoritarianism; ZANU-PF presents itself as the liberator hero to the MDC-T’s foreign subservience.

But unlike the FDC in Uganda, the MDC-T seems to be – at least in principle – less averse to allying with the long-standing government insider, Joice Mujuru. Nevertheless, the fundamental irreconcilability between the images of the MDC-T and ZANU-PF brings a certain riskiness to this decision. What does it say about the vociferous opposition party that it now says it is prepared to stand alongside a former ZANU-PF stalwart and vice-president? How will its supporters react?

In Zimbabwe, however, there are added complications arising from the fact that the hostile political climate also stretches to relations between some opposition parties. The MDC-T, for example, has used polarising rhetoric not just to condemn the ruling party, but also to criticise the opposition groups that emerged from a split in 2005. Tsvangirai’s faction branded this MDC breakaway as “sell outs” and “traitors”.

This rhetoric made attempts at a rapprochement in 2008 and 2013 more difficult. It will also make joining forces trickier ahead of 2018, especially given that many opposition groups have splintered even further since then. The PDP, for example, is the result another split in the MDC-T from when Tendai Biti walked out in 2014. And the ZRD is the result of fissure in the PDP.

It can be difficult to build stable and effective structures when so many bridges have been burned.

Who will lead the coalition?

The main hurdle at which most opposition coalitions fall is in picking its leader. This contest is often keenly fought, particularly since the benefits of the presidency are so great in most African countries.

The decision of who should be the figurehead is least contentious when there are recent and reliable indicators of party strength, such as the results of parliamentary by-elections. With this data, it is more straightforward to work out which candidate has the most recognition and support.

However, this kind of information doesn’t guarantee an easy process. In Zambia, for example, the opposition UPND won a series of unexpected by-elections victories between 2011 and 2016. Its candidate Hakainde Hichilema also garnered 46.7% of the vote in the 2015 presidential by-election, losing by just 27 000 votes.

Nevertheless in 2016, when the UPND tried to form a coalition with opposition leader Edith Nawakwi – who got 0.9% in 2015 – Nawakwi insisted that she should lead the alliance. She said that she had supported Hichilema in a 2006 coalition and that now it was his turn to support her. The parties went their separate ways.

In Uganda 2016, the choice of who should head up the coalition was also a source of disagreement and ended up breaking apart the alliance. In this instance, the uncertainty over the relative popularity of the two potential candidates made it harder to judge who would be the best-placed candidate.

The FDC’s Kizza Besigye had the broadest national reach and most organised structures, but had not surpassed 37% in three previous presidential runs. Meanwhile, former PM Mbabazi was an unknown quantity as an opposition figure, but was well-known nationally and had insider knowledge about the ruling party’s election strategies. When Mbabazi was chosen, the FDC refused to back him and left, leading to the breakdown of the coalition.

Zimbabwe’s nascent coalition is now in a similar situation. Tsvangirai is a veteran opposition figure with a proven track record of mobilising supporters, while Mujuru is an untested but well-known former ruling party insider with support in ruling party strongholds and close contacts in the intelligence services and police. It is uncertain which figure would draw the most voters and which will prevail in the contest to lead the coalition.

In terms of measuring the MDC-T’s support, the series of splits and a three-year electoral boycott make it difficult to judge. But the 2017 Afrobarometer survey suggests that the opposition has lost ground since the 2013 elections, when Tsvangirai got just 34% of the vote. According to the study, the opposition is trusted by just 32% of the population, compared to 65% who trust the president and 56% the ruling party.

This may give more ammunition to those who’d prefer to see Mujuru as the flag-bearer. But it remains to be seen if the MDC-T would accept this outcome, or make the same decision as the FDC in Uganda.

Keeping the lower ranks happy

However, it is not just the leader of the coalition that matters. Political parties are comprised of hundreds of functionaries with their own ambitions and goals, and alliances frequently collapse as a result of vested interests at lower party echelons.

Ahead of Zambia’s 2011 elections, for example, a pact between the two largest opposition parties at the time – the UPND and the Patriotic Front (PF) – was apparently scuppered by PF Secretary-General Wynter Kabimba. Kabimba had his own presidential ambitions and knew that he would be pushed down the pecking order under a coalition.

A similar thing happened in Zimbabwe in 2013. In that situation, two of Tsvangirai’s inner circle that reportedly opposed a coalition with the breakaway MDC due to fears of losing their own positions in the hierarchy.

These concerns also arise around parliamentary races. Opposition parties that typically compete for the same seats face much more internal resistance to coalitions than those with different, complimentary constituencies.

In Kenya, for example, coalitions are frequently formed between relatively geographically contained, ethnic-based parties. Because the parties within these groupings – such as the recently formed National Super Alliance – rarely compete for the same seats, coalitions in Kenya face relatively little resistance from the lower ranks.

By contrast, negotiations between the two MDC factions in Zimbabwe in 2007 ultimately failed, partly because the MDC-T insisted on contesting two seats held by the other party in the opposition’s shared stronghold in Matabeleland. Both sides refused to back down.

Ahead of 2018, Zimbabwe’s opposition groups will face these discussions once again. But it is possible that they will be easier this time around. Because of repeated fragmentation, many of the resulting parties looking to form a coalition are smaller and newer.

This may mean that they are less able to make strong demands. It may also mean that negotiations are more about bringing party leaders on board than appeasing each grouping’s structures. Because of this, the talks may bypass complex internal party dynamics and side-step vested interests lower down the party chain.

Zimbabwe 2018: Can a coalition win?

While 45% of Zimbabweans polled by Afrobarometer expressed support for the idea of an opposition coalition, there are still many answered questions and tricky challenges facing the nascent coalition in the run up to 2018.

Can the animosity between different factions be put aside? Will opposition supporters accept the inclusion of Mujuru, a decades-long ZANU-PF insider?

How will the presidential candidate be picked, based on what calculations and agreements? And how will those less pleased by the choice react?

Will a coalition deal involve running joint candidates in each constituency? And if so, how will those asked to shelve their ambitions respond?

These are tricky questions. But in many ways, they are just the start. Even once these dilemmas are resolved, there is still the ultimate question of whether even a perfectly-coherent and functional opposition coalition has much chance of winning. Bringing together a range of opposition parties is the first step in defeating the ruling party, not the final blow.

On this front, the prospects for the opposition in Zimbabwe do not look particularly rosy.

Trust in the opposition is low. Old methods of party mobilisation using organised labour are no longer an option given skyrocketing unemployment and informal livelihoods. And the impact of new social movements – such as #ThisFlag and #Tajamuka – is likely limited given that they are predominantly urban-based.

Meanwhile, ZANU-PF has shifted into election mode, doling out urban land in an effort to shore up support and turning the screws on vocal opponents. The ruling party may be riven with internal factionalism, but it’s unclear if the opposition can turn this to their advantage.

The MDC-T remains the most organised opposition party with the largest organisational reach. If it could make it work, a broad coalition would bolster its ranks and could give it further appeal. But there remain serious concerns in the opposition including poor strategic thinking, complacency, a tendency towards authoritarianism and internal fractionalisation.

Even if the 2018 vote is a straightforward contest between a ruling party and a truly united opposition, the election is still likely to be one of fairly poor choices.

*African Arguments

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Multinationals Leading Quest To Adopt Continent’s web address Dot Africa
June 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Jean –Pierre Afadhali

Lucky Masilela

Lucky Masilela

Multinationals are leading the quest to adopt Dot Africa, the continent’s web address that was recently delegated to a South African company.

Africa’s web address was unveiled early this year to give the continent an online identity, following the delegation by the worldwide web administrator, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN).

In an exclusive interview with PanafricanVisions at Africa Internet Summit held recently in Nairobi,Kenya ;Mr. Lucky Masilela ,CEO of ZA Central Registry NPC (ZACR), the company that manages the web address; revealed over 760 multinationals have applied for Africa’s cyberspace name as of 29 May.

“We are quite happy, this is the highest of domain names sold during sunrise in the world,” said Mr. Masilela

The “record” was not independently verified, but the launch phase of domain registration known as’ sunrise’ allows companies that hold intellectual properties of their brand names to pre-register names that are the same to their trademark in order to avoid Internet names’ theft.

The period that ended on the 2nd June saw international brands including names such as BMW and Apple register the Africa’s web name to show their presence on the continent market.

According to Masilela, South African companies followed in acquiring DotAfrica.

The current phase known as ‘Landrush’ is meant for premium high value names, meaning names that can be commercialized.

“For instance ‘Banks.Africa’ can be applied to get all banks under that domain names,” explained the CEO of ZACR ,the company that runs Africa’s web address through its subsidiary called Registry Africa Ltd, adding that other high value names includes domain names with short characters.

ZACR said the price for a domain name for a year will be less than 20 dollars the wholesale.

“Your registrar will put some other services like hosting and it goes to 25-30 dollars but for us we are selling to registrars at a wholesale price,” he noted

While getting more organizations to register their brand under the recently launched Africa’s web name is a milestone; it appears there is still a long way to go to convince more African companies and others organizations that operate on the continent to adopt the internet name.

“For us it is a journey,” said Masilela “It is going to take a lot to convince them (businesses)”

“We need to provision this name to the African community that they need to trust this name,”

According to internet marketing experts, the Africa’s domain name will help companies operating in Africa to market their business online, allowing them to brand their pan African market presence.

“We are going to be visiting different countries and work with local registrars to ensure that there is uptake of the name,” revealed the CEO who was attending Africa Internet Summit.

General Availability will commence on 4 July 2017, and this is when the general public can apply for their .Africa domain names.

During this phase any organization or business can apply Africa’s Internet name.

“It is the market open for anybody including myself, I can go and apply the name,” Mr Masilela explained, adding it is first come and first served stage!

According to the South African Internet Company, all these phases are meant to avoid Intellectual properties rights conflicts, amid increasing domain names theft in the cyberspace.

The South Africa Company has signed an agreement with African Union to use undisclosed amount of revenues generated from the commercialization of DotAfrica, in financing the continent ICT development projects.

 

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Google to Train 6000 African Journalists Free on digital Journalism
June 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

THE Google has said that it will train 6000 African journalists on Digital Journalism  to improve their knowledge and skills on data journalism by the end of February 2018.

Google News Lab and the World Bank collaborate with Code For Africa to empower journalists in Africa by giving them the necessary support to better understand the Web and how to use the tools available to them online.

The programme will take place over the next nine months to train journalists in 12 major African cities – Abuja, Lagos, Nairobi, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Casablanca, Dakar, Freetown, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, and Yaounde.

Code for Africa is a data journalism and civic technology initiative operating across Africa that trains and supports journalists and civic activists to better understand and use web tools for news reporting and storytelling.

Beginning June 15, in-person training sessions will be held in the cities mentioned above. In each city, training will be conducted in three newsrooms and training will be held twice a month for the duration of the initiative.

Beginning August, a massive open online course, MOOC, will be made freely available online, covering a range of web concepts and practices for digital journalists.

“We will also hold monthly study group meet-ups in collaboration with Hacks/Hackers to provide more focused, in-person instruction. Monthly meetings will take place in Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda,” Google said in a statement.

Daniel Sieberg, head of Training and Development at Google News Lab, said “The web and digital tools present an interesting array of options for journalists, but learning how to use these tools can be a daunting task for many media people.

“While the global news industry faces a knowledge challenge with regards to digital tools, Africa, by virtue of its non-digital education systems, faces even greater odds in the battle for digital integration in news and storytelling.

“In Nigeria, for instance, only a few of the journalism institutions offer training programmes that focus on Web tools, and many top news organisations lose out on stories due to their inability to utilise newer and more engaging digital techniques.”

In 2016, Google announced its commitment to train one million African youth within one year to help them create and find jobs via the Web.

“With the Digital Journalism initiative we want to contribute to the growth of Africa’s news and media ecosystem by training present and future practitioners on how to employ existing tools to tell stories, and support them to create locally-relevant tools that will reshape how Africans consume news,” he added.

*Real News

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Germany’s ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’
May 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Green*

Photo by: Irina Patrascu / CC BY

Photo by: Irina Patrascu / CC BY

BERLIN, Germany — A proposal from Germany’s development ministry stands to rewrite the country’s — and possibly the G-20’s — aid relationship with Africa. The so-called Marshall Plan with Africa would prioritize encouraging private investment on the continent, possibly while reducing or shifting official development assistance.

The plan is part of a broader German focus on Africa in 2017, in an effort to play a stronger role leading donor policy within Europe and the G-20.

Analysts and advocates working in Africa say the plan puts into writing some of the trends already underway in aid, including a shift toward the private sector. They warn, however, that moving away from ODA entirely could leave gaps in need. Others, meanwhile, are looking to the German government to use the plan to engage a wider range of actors, including other donors and multilateral banks, to introduce a range of initiatives that could truly have a long-term impact.

For now, though, the debate is largely hypothetical. The plan is still only a proposal, and Germany’s position on Africa is set to evolve rapidly in the coming weeks. The finance ministry is currently constructing a separate “Compact with Africa,” and the country is set to host the G-20 summit in July, where relations with Africa will feature heavily on the agenda. German elections in September could also impact the development agenda, particularly if Chancellor Angela Merkel loses her bid for a fourth term.

Amid the uncertainty, experts are cautious not to either under or overstate the Marshall’s Plan potential impact. German aid and implementing partners are equally unsure how to react. The ministry declined to answer specific questions about whether development partners should read the document as a broader shift in priorities, or consider realigning their programs to match the interventions highlighted in the document.

But one indicator of the proposal’s impact could come in June, as Berlin hosts a G-20 African Partnership Conference, ahead of the broader G-20 meeting in July. The agenda for that meeting, which is focused on improving the investment climate in African countries, dovetails with the emphasis in the plan and could indicate how much influence it will ultimately have on German aid.

What does this Marshall Plan entail?

The Marshall Plan with Africa, released earlier this year, is effectively a blueprint for tackling a range of challenges on the continent — chief among them the problems that could result from Africa’s likely population explosion by 2050.

The proposal aims to be an “integrated overall approach” to address issues ranging from food security, good governance to social concerns, Gerd Müller, the federal minister for economic cooperation and development, explained during a business summit in Nairobi in February.

The plan positions Germany to help African governments with more than 100 different reform ideas that fall under three broad pillars: Economic activity, trade and employment; peace and security; and democracy and the rule of law. Each pillar includes recommendations for African country governments, the German government and the larger international community. Some are quite specific, for example a call on African countries to support a continental human rights court. Others offer more vague guidance, as in the call for international partners to “promote local value chains.”

Throughout, the plan emphasizes improving the investment climate. Among the proposed initiatives are plans to help create incentive packages for businesses. It also floats the idea of using ODA funds to secure private investments.

“It’s not the governments that will create all the long-term employment opportunities that are needed, it’s the private sector,” the plan reads. “So it’s not subsidies that Africa needs so much as more private investment.”

The plan also looks to directly seed the ground for investors. It would support programs that promote peace, security and anti-corruption efforts, in order to better protect investment. It would also look to boost job and vocational training initiatives to prepare young people for the workforce. Traditional development initiatives, including improving health, education systems and infrastructure, would also likely continue.

“We need more ODA funds to meet the current challenges,” the plan says, without specifying an ideal amount. In 2015, the German government spent about 16 billion euros ($17.8 billion) on ODA — the third highest amount in the world behind the United States and the United Kingdom.

Still, “it’s definitely a pro-private investment shift and a bit away from ODA,” said Manfred Öhm, the head of the Africa department at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The German political foundation, which draws some financial support from the government, runs a range of development programs in Africa.

Implications for the G-20 relationship with Africa

If expanded, some advocates say the plan could have a significant impact, in part because Germany looks to be positioning itself as a policy-leading donor on the continent. The draft was released in a year when Germany is hosting the G-20, and has made re-evaluating its relationship with Africa a priority. Already, German officials appear to be reframing the plan, which is the vision of one ministry, as part of the larger discussion of the G-20’s relationship with Africa.

Speaking to the African Union last October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to “make the issues that concern you in Africa one of the priorities of the G-20 agenda, and also launch a large-scale initiative with Africa to this end.” The first step, the G-20 African Partnership Conference, will be designed to encourage private investment, sustainable infrastructure and employment in Africa.

The plan could form a significant part of the broader global discussion about the international community’s relationship with Africa, according to Jamie Drummond, the co-founder and executive director of ONE, a grassroots organization fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa.

“This G-20 could and must herald a more coordinated push with Africa than we’ve seen since 2005 and Gleneagles,” Drummond said, referring to the U.K.-hosted G-8 summit that agreed to double aid to Africa, and eliminate the debts of some of the world’s poorest countries.

Drummond is looking for something equally bold to emerge — or at least begin — in Hamburg, where Germany is hosting its G-20. He would like to see momentum towards improving the quality and quantity of funding for education, increasing funds for women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship and an emphasis on good governance, alongside any focus on improving the climate for private investment.

“The private sector approach is incredibly important,” he said. “But if it was the only thing that was being proposed, that would not be enough.”

With Africa’s population set to more than double by 2050, from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion, according to the Population Reference Bureau, “African development is now clearly central to European and G-20 security into the twenty-first century,” he said. “That’s what this G-20 acknowledges and now we must urgently act on that.”

Domestic support for the plan

The Marshall Plan proposal will need to pull in new elements and some more collaborators — including from within the German government — if it is to be relevant, some analysts warn.

Given what it hopes to achieve, the proposal doesn’t yet include enough partners, said Stefan Brüne, an associate fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations. The federal ministry for economic cooperation and development may not be the best body to strengthen democracy, for example, he said.

“They are not in a position to really address these problems,” he said, compared to their counterparts in the ministry of foreign affairs, for instance, who can exert more political pressure.

Domestic politics could also impact the roll out. Though Müller comes from the ruling party coalition, it is still not clear how popular his plan is within his own government. Experts are looking for input from the ministry of defense, and greater cooperation with the ministry of finance, as it puts together its own compact with Africa. They are also watching to see if Merkel will more publicly embrace the plan or introduce her own strategy that might borrow elements from it.

If it is to truly jumpstart a broader conversation, it would also need to draw in officials from other G-20 nations, the World Bank and other international institutions — something its architects are clearly already aware of and which its advocates are prepared to push for.

Öhm said one of the ministry’s priorities should be providing more clarity, including about the future of ODA, programs the government plans to support and which governments the ministry is specifically hoping to assist. Some African countries are interested in reforms to improve the investment climate, and some are interested in transparency and democratic promotion, but the two groups are not necessarily the same.

At best, he and some other analysts see the plan as a potential starting point for conversations about the balance between ODA and private investment, for instance.

Truly rethinking Germany’s — or the G-20’s — relationship with Africa in the terms that the plan lays out would require a significant generational commitment, experts said. The question is whether the Marshall Plan actually represents that.

*DEVEX

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