Cameroon, Guinea, South Africa….NDI’s Dr Chris Fomunyoh On Africa’s Shrinking Democratic Space
September 16, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
While it may be heartening to see how much Africa has changed in the past three decades, the rate at which the successes of political transitions of the 90s are been rolled back should be of concern to everyone says Dr Christopher Senior Associate for Africa at the Washington, DC based National Democratic Institute.
A seasoned professional who has played a leading role in some of the most successful stories of democracies in Africa since the early 90s, Dr Fomunyoh says it is disappointing to see the prevalence of armed conflicts, opposition leaders been thrown in jail, elections being stolen, and constitutions amended by leaders who want to perpetuate themselves in power.
African democrats must not relent in their advocacy and must continue to fight for inclusive and accountable government, says Dr Fomunyoh in an interview with Ajong Mbapndah L for Pan African Visions.
Speaking with passion about his native Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh says the overall situation looks bleak, and the country’s future precarious. Describing the recent trial of Anglophone leaders as a travesty of justice, Fomunyoh says their sentencing further aggravates the Anglophone crisis and deepens the mistrust, and bitterness that exists between Anglophones and the government of President Paul Biya.
“We must maintain the pressure for dialogue because it is the only means through which this conflict could be brought to an end and the legitimate grievances of Anglophones addressed in Cameroon,” Dr Fomunyoh says.
For the dialogue announced by President Biya to be credible, the government must create an enabling environment in which participants feel that the dialogue would be open and broad based, allowing for different viewpoints to be heard, says Dr Fomunyoh.
“The government must also take confidence-building measures to show that the call for dialogue is sincere. Notably, the killings must stop, the arbitrary arrest and detention of young Anglophones must end, and people who are detained unjustly should be released immediately,” Dr Fomunyoh said.
Considering that many Anglophones have lost trust in the Biya government, Dr Domunyoh said the burden will be on the government to show that it will not steamroll participants to obtain a predetermined outcome.
Dr Fomunyoh, you have just returned from Guinea Conakry, an African country that has tremendous resources, but has experienced difficult political transitions in the past. What is your overall assessment of the situation there in the lead-up to national elections scheduled for 2020?
You are so right, Guinea is a country with so much potential given its mineral wealth that includes some of the world’s highest reserves of bauxite and iron ore, and timber and water resources. Unfortunately, the impact of past military and authoritarian rule is still being felt, and citizens still crave an improvement in their well-being in this age of democratic government. The overall political situation in Guinea is tense and polarized, as the country prepares for legislative and presidential elections which have to be conducted between now and December 2020. On top of that, there is speculation that the country could run into a major crisis over whether to adopt a new constitution or not. Political parties, civil society organizations, labor unions, academics and other opinion leaders are already taking sides on the airwaves and various social media platforms. Many Guineans remain hopeful that the day would come when a democratically elected president transfers power through the ballot box to his successor, something that has not happened since the country gained independence in 1958.
Recently in Cape Town, South Africa, as a guest speaker at the joint conference co-organized by the University of Cape Town and the Kofi Annan Foundation, you stated that “political space is shrinking across Africa.” What leads you to that conclusion?
First let me say how uplifting it was to be at the University of Cape Town for a conference in memory of two great sons of Africa — Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan — who as world leaders epitomized the best of humanity in terms of their vision and commitment to promoting human dignity, development and world peace. I was truly honored to be invited.
In the spirit of Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, it is heartening to see how much Africa has changed in the past three decades: political pluralism is now common practice in all African countries, independent media continues to grow, the continent’s youth are becoming politically engaged, and, increasingly, political power is being transferred through the ballot process. Who could have thought that in Sudan, by the sheer determination of citizens engaged in civil protest, a thirty-year autocracy under General Al-Bashir would collapse! At the same time, one must state the disappointment that in too many African countries some of the successes of political transitions of the 1990s are being rolled back. Armed conflicts are still prevalent, opposition leaders are being thrown in jail, injustice is being inflicted on ordinary citizens, elections are being stolen, and constitutions are being amended by leaders who want to perpetuate themselves in power.
So what should Africans do about the democratic backsliding?
African democrats must not relent in their advocacy and fight for inclusive and accountable government. We need more open political space to engage citizens across the board and harness the rich diversity of talent and expertise that our continent possesses. We must find ways to galvanize our human capital to best utilize the countries’ wealth to improve the wellbeing of our fellow citizens. For this to happen, we have to learn to aggregate our efforts as opposed to operating in silos, we have to build alliances across the continent so that the good guys can support each other and draw inspiration from each others’ successes. The next generation of Africans expect from us a better continent than we may have inherited from the generation before us.
You were in South Africa around the week of xenophobic attacks by South Africans against Africans of other nationalities. What do you make of these attacks and how was the mood like while you were there?
It is sad and despicable to watch Africans being killed by other Africans for no other reason than their countries of origin. Nelson Mandela and other founders of today’s democratic and free South Africa would be turning in their graves, because they would remember the contributions by other African countries to the liberation struggle. Without the frontline states that include countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia, and Nigeria, perhaps we would not have South Africa as we know it today. Even if South African youth are exposed to many challenges such as high levels of unemployment, lack of opportunities and a sense of abandonment by the state, that still cannot explain why they would take out their grievances violently against fellow Africans. It is my hope that the government of South Africa would draw the appropriate lessons from this unfortunate incident and come out with well-crafted programs that can provide a safety net for the less fortunate of South African society, and a sense of safety and security for other Africans that choose to live in this beautiful country. That tragedy also exposes the failures of other governments across the continent whose citizens now feel obliged to flee their homeland to become refugees in foreign lands, because of political repression or because of lack of economic opportunity. What’s happening in South Africa today must prick our collective conscience as Africans.
Coming now to your home country of Cameroon, what is your assessment of the political situation there, in what shape is the country?
Cameroon is in bad shape. Thousands of Anglophones have been killed, others in their thousands are in detention centers spread across the country; members of security forces have lost their lives in hundreds; over two hundred villages have been burned; 40,000 Anglophones now live in refugee camps in Nigeria and 600,000 others are internally displaced, now living in other regions of the country. For three years running, schools have been unable to open in the Anglophone regions of the country. The United Nations estimates that close to 1.4 million Anglophones could be at risk of famine, all because of the ongoing crisis.
At the same time, the runner-up in the last presidential election, Professor Maurice Kamto, and hundreds of his supporters — many of whom are lawyers, economists and other professionals — are being detained in Yaoundé, with some charged to appear before a military tribunal.
The country also continues to battle Boko Haram extremists in its extreme north region that borders north-eastern Nigeria and Chad. The overall situation looks bleak, and the country’s future precarious. There is reason to be alarmed.
Getting into more recent developments, what is your take on the heavy jail sentence slammed on the Anglophone leader Julius Ayuk Tabe and others?
In my opinion, the sentencing of Ayuk Tabe and 9 others to life imprisonment by a military tribunal in Yaoundé is a travesty of justice on multiple fronts, notably the conditions of their arrest and extradition from Nigeria; their detention incommunicado for an extended period of over 9 months; their trial before a military tribunal constituted only of French speaking military judges; and the all-night trial that ended with a ruling at about 5 am in the morning. There is no doubt in my mind that this sentencing further aggravates the Anglophone crisis and deepens the mistrust and bitterness that exists between Anglophones and the government of President Paul Biya.
The heavy sentence came at a time when there are increasing calls for dialogue, what impact do you think this could have on prospects of dialogue?
This life imprisonment goes contrary to the vein of recent pronouncements in favor of dialogue by the government, multiple opinion leaders, the African Union and the international community. We must maintain the pressure for dialogue because it is the only means through which this conflict could be brought to an end and the legitimate grievances of Anglophones addressed in Cameroon.
As a seasoned professional on governance and conflict resolution, what proposals do you have for a way out of the present crisis?
I have been consistent in advocating for dialogue and in putting forward ideas that could help the country resolve this crisis. As recently as November 2018, I presented a 10-point agenda on concrete steps that could have been taken at the time to bring an end to the conflict. Since then, the situation has gotten worse, more lives have been lost, and the increasing number of victims only reinforces the urgency of concrete actions that must be taken to end the massacres and conflict. As I’ve stated over the years, I’m willing to put on the table how that roadmap could be implemented, were there to be an open platform and a genuine effort to end this crisis and get the country out of the mess in which it currently finds itself.
On Tuesday, September 10, President Biya addressed Cameroonians and, for the first time in three years, he discussed the crisis in the North West and South West regions in some detail. What is your reaction to the speech?
Modern day governance and crisis management demand that leaders be more proactive in communicating with citizens when countries face crises of the magnitude of what Cameroon has gone through over the past three years. It is good that President Paul Biya finally spoke directly to this crisis. The promise of a national dialogue is commendable, although I wish that the rest of the speech was less accusatory and provocative, so as to create an environment in which the dialogue could actually begin.
You have always called for dialogue, and now President Biya says there will be one starting by the end of September. What are some of the necessary ingredients for successful dialogue and a lasting solution?
First, for the dialogue to be credible, the government must create an enabling environment in which participants feel that the dialogue would be open and broad based, allowing for different viewpoints to be heard. The government must also take confidence-building measures to show that the call for dialogue is sincere. Notably, the killings must stop, the arbitrary arrest and detention of young Anglophones must end, and people who are detained unjustly should be released immediately. Cameroonians still remember that a similar national dialogue in the early 90s came up with recommendations, most of which were ignored by the government. It is therefore important to send strong signals that the underlying grievances of Anglophones would be addressed, so they feel that the outcome of the dialogue would restore their dignity and what they have lost during this crisis. Given that many Anglophones have lost trust in the Biya government, the burden is on the government to show that it will not steamroll participants to obtain a predetermined outcome.
Given that President Paul Biya is 86 years old and his legitimacy is questioned in some quarters, do you think Biya is in a position to resolve the crisis in Cameroon?
I have serious doubts that a president who is 86 years old, has been in power for 37 years, and has always been aloof and distant from the population can all of a sudden change his governance style and put in the energy and effort required to resolve the crisis. In the past three years, the magnitude of the crisis has grown exponentially, and it now has ramifications both across the country and internationally; I have strong doubts that the Biya government alone can find a way out. Other actors of good will, nationally and internationally, must step in given that trust has been severely broken between the Biya government and a sizeable chunk of the Anglophone population.
What do you think accounts for the levity with which the rest of Africa, and the broader international institutions like the African Union and the UN have treated the crisis in Cameroon?
I agree that the international community has been slow to respond to the crisis, and so far there have been more declarations than concrete actions. At least, some countries and organizations such as the United States, Germany, the European Union and recently the French Foreign Ministry, have been calling on President Biya to change his approach to the crisis and to engage in genuine dialogue. The United Nations recently expressed its support for a Swiss-led effort to mediate between the government and Anglophone secessionist movements, and the Security Council even held an informal debate on Cameroon in May. However, these measures are insufficient as the conflict continues unabated. One would have thought that after the Genocide in Rwanda in 1994, declarations such as “Never again” would prick the conscience of the international community so as not to allow crises like the one in Cameroon to fester. I truly hope that the African Union and the international community can step up their engagement to bring peace to the country.
You are familiar with the way Washington works; can you help us better understand the different Congressional resolutions that have come up of recent on Cameroon?
I am heartened by the interest shown in the Cameroon crisis by the United States Congress, and I urge Cameroonians and friends of Cameroon to continue to educate members of Congress as well as the international community at large on the devastating nature of this crisis and its negative impact on millions of Cameroonians. Recently, Congresswoman Karen Bass, who is the Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee, led a congressional delegation to Cameroon to hear firsthand from Cameroonians and victims of the crisis. Congressional resolutions, especially when passed on a bipartisan basis as we’ve seen in the case of Cameroon, carry a lot of weight. They capture the voice of the US Congress on an issue, and also have the capability of influencing the executive branch of government in its foreign policy approach. The European parliament, the German Bundestag and other important bodies have made similar pronouncements which help raise the level of awareness of the magnitude of the crisis, both within Cameroon and internationally. Hopefully, more concrete actions will follow.
One of the Congressional resolutions called for a return to the Federation that existed between 1961 and 1972. Do you think that could work?
At a minimum, such a concession could create the space for rebuilding trust, given that the government in power was part of the team that dismantled the first Federation in 1972. Moreover, when the current crisis broke in 2016, the Biya government would not entertain proposals for federalism, and even went as far as banning public discussions on the subject. For peace to prevail, Cameroonians will have to sit around the table and agree on a structure that can guarantee for every citizen his or her liberties and the preservation of their culture and dignity. It is inconceivable that Cameroon could rebuild without acknowledging the specificities of its English speaking population.
What is your take on the issue of school resumption?
As you may be aware, The Fomunyoh Foundation which has been active since 1999 has as one of its priorities to promote and support education in Cameroon. The Foundation has over the years distributed books and other school materials and organized public speaking events in academic institutions in all regions of the country. This underscores my personal commitment to the education of the younger generation. In the context of the ongoing crisis, education entails more than just having kids in a classroom. The back-to-school campaign to be successful, has to be part of a comprehensive package that includes among others, overall peace in the Northwest and Southwest regions of the country; reassurances from both the military and armed groups that neither students, nor teachers, nor parents would be shot at or harassed; that the curriculum is relevant; and that the kids can ultimately be guaranteed a future. This requires a deep analysis and proper preparations to make it meaningful. I am saddened that some people are treating this matter as mere sloganeering for political advantage.
If the government calls on the expertise of the seasoned professional that you are, will you be willing to provide it?
For the past two decades, I have been consistent in raising concerns about how the country was being governed. I have been pained and truly aggrieved by what has happened to the Anglophone community in the past three years. It has been disappointing to see how legitimate grievances by lawyers and teachers were summarily dismissed by the authorities, and subsequently how other socio-political grievances that were brought to the fore were violently repressed. Here we are, with thousands of fellow compatriots killed, others in detention, in refugee camps and internally displaced – all of which could have been avoided. Under those circumstances, one has an obligation, if called upon, to contribute ideas and recommendations on how to stop the killings and get out of this mess.
Some people have mooted ideas for a transitional government led by someone neutral that could help the country wade through the myriad of crises it is facing. First, what do you think of the idea and secondly were this to happen and you were asked to preside over a transition, is this something you could consider?
With each passing day, as these multiple — Anglophone, political, and security — crises we just discussed endure, my faith in this government’s ability to resolve all of them diminishes. At the same time, the current constitution of the country doesn’t allow for a transitional government as you allude to, and so I do not see how this could come about.
What lessons will a future Cameroon and the rest of Africa learn from this crisis?
Many. For example, that a people would rise up if their dignity is trampled upon; that truth, honesty and other democratic values matter for people’s trust in their government; that preventive diplomacy would save us and our continent a waste of human capital and human resources; and that it is incumbent on our generation to shape and give meaning to institutions that should improve the wellbeing of our fellow citizens.
So, what’s ahead for you and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) over the next year?
In the coming year we will be paying very close attention to the transition process in Sudan, as well as political developments across the Sahel and in the Horn of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region. We will also be paying close attention to upcoming competitive elections in countries such as Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique and Niger Republic. The beauty of this all is the partnerships that NDI has with civic and political organizations across the board in all of the countries in which we work. They are the true champions of democratic development in their respective countries, and our role is to give them the support and solidarity that they need to succeed.
* Full Interview Will feature in September Issue of Pan African Visions Magazine
In Central Africa, a revolutionary driller is teaching us a lesson about oil
September 14, 2019 | 0 Comments
As drilling activity picked up, production increased, and so did revenues
By Mickael Vogel*
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 13, 2019/ — By Mickael Vogel, Director of Strategy, African Energy Chamber
Chad’s rigs count has been surprisingly high for a year now, in a country that produces only about 100,000 bopd. With seven rigs deployed on its territory since September 2018 accoridng to Baker Hughes GE, Chad counts more rigs than most African petroleum provinces. It is more than Angola, sub-Saharan Africa’s second largest producer of oil. It is almost more than Congo, sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest producer. The list continues: it is more than Gabon, Cameroon, or even Equatorial Guinea.
The reason: Chad is drilling. In efforts to expand exploration and boost domestic production, the land-locked Central African nation is proving that focusing on basics is a recipe for success. Drilling efforts have translated in increased production and oil revenues, despite several industry setbacks.
The recovery of Chad’s economy and petroleum sector after the recent plunge in oil prices has indeed not been a smooth journey to say the least. Chad has Africa’s 10th largest proven oil reserves but its output has been slipping in recent years due to maturing fields and disruptions caused by the conflict with Boko Haram in the southwest. Lower commodity prices added another layer of complexity to an already very intricate situation, and put the economy in jeopardy. Hopes brought by the renegotiation of the country’s debt with Glencore and the rebound in oil prices were short lived. In 2019, both ExxonMobil, which produces a fourth of the country’s oil and Glencore, which represents about 9% of Chad’s production, announced their intention to sell their assets in the country.
But as two of its biggest operators prepared their exit, Chad welcomed new ones and did not loose focus on bringing out what former minister Me Béchir Madit had then called a “second golden age of oil between the end of 2019 and 2025.” To ensure the growth of its industry, Chad launched the construction of the mini Rig-Rig refinery in 2017 to address crying domestic shortage of petroleum products, granted several new fields to the CNPCIC in the Bongor Basin, welcomed new operator United Hydrocarbons, and renegotiated its debt with commodity trading giant Glencore in 2018.
As oil prices started rebounding, good news came along. Taiwan’s Overseas Petroleum and Investment Corporation completed its exploitation platform and connection pipeline to the Komé centre, while Petrochad developed its Krim-Krim wells. The Société des Hydrocarbures du Tchad (SHT), the country’s national oil company, also made progress on the development of its Sedigui field by signing a contract with a Sino-British consortium for the construction of a gas pipeline, gas treatment facility and gas terminal in Djarmaya.
In two months alone, between July 2018 and September 2018, rigs deployed in Chad went up from only one to seven, according to Baker Hughes GE. That’s a considerable jump in such a short time, while most of its neighbours were still dealing with a drilling syndrome. For a year now, Chad has had more rigs deployed on its territory than most other African markets, revealing sustained drilling activity which has now translated in numbers. As drilling activity picked up, production increased, and so did revenues.
According to the latest reports of the Ministry of Finance and Budget, Chad’s oil production and oil revenues have witnessed considerable increase in 2019 so far. In the first quarter, oil revenues increased by over 64% compared to the same period last year, led by an increase in production by over 18%, most of it due to the CNPCIC, and thanks to a better foreign exchange rate. The second quarter confirmed the trend. During this period, oil revenues increased by another 38.6% while oil production increased by 23%, again led by the CNPCIC which has witnessed a growth of production by over 45% this year so far. Between January 2019 and June 2019, Chad produced 22,791,749 barrels. On a daily basis, that’s an average of 126,000 bopd, a very healthy figure for a state whose revenues come at 70% from oil exports.
Improved situation in Chad explains why the acquisition of ExxonMobil’s 40% stake in the Doba Basin has become a source of intense bidding and negotiations. It also explains why the country’s economic forecast are bright. In 2019, the IMG predicts Chad’s economy to grow by 4.5%, well above the world’s average of 3.3%. When many African oil nations struggle with a slow recovery, Chad reminds us that a successful energy strategy is a no brainer, and drilling must be a part of it.
*Director of Strategy, African Energy Chamber
Tanzania unveils first Senographe Pristina Digital Mammography: another key milestone for early detection of breast cancer in East Africa
September 14, 2019 | 0 Comments
Launch of the digital mammography system in line with the country’s Health Sector Strategic Plan to improve prevention and management of non-communicable diseases
|DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, September 13, 2019/ — GE Healthcare’s (www.GEHealthcare.com) Senographe Pristina is engineered by Women for Women to help reduce pain, discomfort and anxiety women experience during a mammography; Launch of the digital mammography system in line with the country’s Health Sector Strategic Plan to improve prevention and management of non-communicable diseases.
The Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam (AKHS) has installed GE Healthcare’s Senographe Pristina, a more advanced and comfortable mammography system for patients, with next-generation 3-D digital technology for the first time in Tanzania. The hospital endeavors to give greater access to high quality breast healthcare for women as a part of its comprehensive cancer care program and its vision to provide access to quality healthcare within the country. The launch is also in line with the government’s Health Sector Strategic Plan to improve prevention and management of non-communicable diseases.
Designed by a team of female GE Healthcare engineers who used their own insights coupled with feedback from more than 1,000 other patients, technologists and radiologists, Senographe Pristina helps to address the fear of discomfort that women face around mammograms. The system offers comfort features for a better patient and technologist experience, including rounded corners instead of sharp edges that used to poke patients’ ribs and armpits, and armrests for women to lean on instead of conventional handgrips, so women can relax their muscles during the exam, which simplifies positioning, compression and image acquisition.
Speaking during the launch Mr. Sulaiman Shahabuddin, Regional Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Health Services, East Africa said, “Radiology department at AKHS has been a pioneer in investing in advanced technologies to enhance diagnostics which play a key role in modern day management of patient. Mr. Shahabuddin added, “We were proud to the first to start MRI services in the country, initiated provision of image guided minimally invasive procedures including biopsies and drainages, installed a first ever complete Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) and Radiology Information System (RIS) and the only private institution with a Cardiac Catheterization lab, Radio Nuclear Medicine & Chemotherapy suite.”
Mammograms play a key role in the detection of breast cancer, a disease if caught earlier is more likely curable. This ultra-modern unit will further boost the efforts of the institution to not only increase awareness with screening campaigns performed every first Saturday of the month but will also aid in early detection of the disease.
Chief guest Dr. Daisy Majamba, Regional Dental Officer, Dar es Salaam representing Dr. Yudas Ndungile, Regional Medical Officer, Dar es Salaam said, “Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after cancer of the cervix and second leading cause of cancer mortality among women in Tanzania. It is predicted that there will be 82% increase in number of new breast cancers diagnosed in Tanzania by 2030 with an increase of 80% in breast cancer deaths by 2030. The launch of the digital mammography system is a huge milestone in the country’s public-private partnerships in the fight against cancer”.
Andrew Waititu, Managing Director of GE Healthcare East Africa commending on the launch said, “Breast cancer is a scary thought for every woman and hence early detection of the disease remains key in the disease control. We are proud to partner with AKHS to bring digital mammography services for the people of Tanzania that will help in the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of the disease.”
Tanzania is the second country in Sub-Sahara Africa to install the mammography with the next-generation 3-D digital technology after South Africa.
Innovative thinking marks African Development Bank’s Africa jobs manifesto
September 14, 2019 | 0 Comments
Employment is top of the agenda of every African leader – SVP Charles Boamah
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, September 13, 2019/ — Innovative thinking about Africa’s conventional employment issues is what marks the African Development Bank’s (www.AfDB.org) new policy research document “Creating Decent Jobs: Strategies, Policies, and Instruments,” participants heard at the report launch, held 12 September 2019.
The report elicited strong presentations and a lively debate during the event which took place in the Babacar N’Diaye Auditorium at the Bank’s headquarters, attended by senior management, diplomats, staff, and media representatives.
The Bank’s Senior Vice President Charles Boamah introduced the issue of employment as being “at the top of the agenda of every African leader”, and said that the report was “the first of its kind in challenging and unveiling some of the misconceptions that many experts have about the nature of under-employment and unemployment in Africa.
“The report signals the start of some fresh thinking about the nature of employment creation on the continent and clarifies which development strategies and policy interventions are needed for low-income countries in Africa”, Boamah said. He went on to predict that the report would “serve as a reference document on employment in Africa for some years to come”.
Introducing the report, Celestin Monga, the Bank’s Chief Economist, remarked that part of its appeal was in applying innovative thinking to conventional employment issues. For example, one problem identified was that domestic economic progress was often assessed by the allocation of public funding to priority sectors or by analyzing the number of reforms carried out to improve the business environment. In this context, he observed that several of the world’s top-performing countries had low rankings for the ease of doing business.
Monga also remarked that the official unemployment figures of many African countries were so unrealistically low that policymakers found it difficult to explain how demand for labor in markets was so buoyant. Africa was also the world region with the highest proportion of its workforce in vulnerable employment, which served to hide rather than clarify the essential issue of employment in Africa. A new model for measuring employment that related to actual conditions in Africa was needed, he said. The report should also be seen as a manifesto for African jobs.
Finally, he praised the painstaking work of his co-editors, and particularly recommended a focus paper written by Andinet Woldemichael, principal research economist, entitled “The Missing Women in African Labor Markets” in the report.
In the face of rapidly growing populations and heightened risks of social unrest or discontent, jobless growth was the most serious concern for African policymakers, said Abebe Shimeles, manager in the Chief Economist’s complex, who spoke on the highlights of the report. “One problem”, he added, “was already well known – that employment and unemployment needed to be more closely defined in their relative context, a task that had already caused difficulties in other development finance institutions. Traditional labour market economists were not capable of accurately defining the particular African employment phenomenon”. In addition, he pointed out that the status of the ministries of work or labour in many African countries was often not important enough to be considered as a critical policy sector, reflecting the low priority given to making a serious difference to the continental employment challenge facing all the African countries.
Following questions from the audience, a small panel briefly discussed the overall issue presented by the report. This session of reflections featured Ivorian minister of youth promotion and employment Mamadou Toure, in the government of Cote d’Ivoire, who drew attention to the interconnections that existed around the jobs issue. “This cannot be resolved on its own, and certainly not without considering carefully other related aspects, such as skills, education, training, enterprise and social services” he said.
Professor Tchetche N’Guessan, of the University of Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Cocody, Cote d’Ivoire; and Mr Freddy Tchala, CEO of MTN in Cote d’Ivoire. Also spoke, discussing different aspects of employment, education, training, skills and government measures for the promotion of youth entrepreneurs.
African Development Bank launches US$ 2 billion 1.625% Global Benchmark due 16 September 2022
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 13 September 2019 – The African Development Bank, rated Aaa/AAA/AAA (Moody’s/S&P/Fitch, all stable), has launched and priced a US$ 2 billion 3-year Global Benchmark bond due 16 September 2022, its first US$ benchmark of the year.
Launched on September 11, the bond issue is the Bank’s second Global Benchmark of 2019, following a EUR 1 billion 10-year priced in March 2019. With this transaction, the Bank has now raised US$ 4.4 billion in 2019 to date and executed 61% of its borrowing program for the year. The transaction received strong support from investors globally, with order books reaching US$ 2.8 billion and 53 investors participating. The high quality of the order book is illustrated by the strong participation of Central Banks and Official Institutions, taking 64% of the allocations.
The African Development Bank decided to take advantage of favorable investor sentiment post summer break to access the 3-year tenor, in spite of volatile market conditions ahead of the Fed Meeting the following week. The mandate was announced on Tuesday, September 10, at 12:00 London time with Initial Pricing Thoughts of Mid-Swaps + 13 basis points (bps) area.
The transaction met strong interest from the outset, with Indications of Interest in excess of US$ 1.8 billion (excluding Joint-Lead Managers interest) when order books officially opened at 08:00 London time the following morning, with initial price guidance of Mid-Swaps + 13bps area.
Momentum continued throughout the European morning, with orders in excess of US$ 2.5 billion around 11:20 London time. At this time, final pricing was set at Mid-Swaps + 13bps. Following the close of the order book in the US, the size of the transaction was set at US$ 2 billion by 14:20 London time.
The transaction was priced at 16:24 London time with a re-offer yield of 1.679%, equivalent to a spread of 8.75bps vs UST 1.5% 15 September 2022, the issuer’s tightest print vs US Treasuries to date.
“We are delighted with this successful dollar Global Benchmark, and particularly pleased by both the very high quality of the order book and the solid participation of African Central Banks. The African Development Bank achieved its tightest ever spread to US Treasuries, and we are grateful to our investors across the world for this outcome, and the financing it will bring to the African continent”. Hassatou Diop N’Sele, Group Treasurer, African Development Bank
Investor distribution statistics:
|By Geography||By Investor Type|
|Issuer:||African Development Bank (“AfDB”)|
|Issuer rating:||Aaa/AAA/AAA (Moody’s/S&P/Fitch)|
|Amount:||US$ 2 billion|
|Pricing date:||11 September 2019|
|Settlement date:||18 September 2019|
|Coupon:||1.625%, Fixed, Semi-Annual 30/360|
|Maturity date:||16 September 2022|
|Re-offer yield:||1.679% Semi-Annual|
|Re-offer spread:||Mid-Swaps + 13bps / UST 1.5% 15 September 2022 + 8.75bps|
|Joint lead-managers||Citi, Daiwa, HSBC, JP Morgan, Société Générale|
Oprah Winfrey Is Looking for African Women Who Are Passionate About Public Service
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
The Oprah Winfrey Foundation is offering fully funded scholarships to study at New York University
By Lerato Mogoatlhe*
Oprah Winfrey is once again lending her name and influence to help educate and empower more African women.
The mogul — who is fondly known as Mama Oprah in South Africa — announced that the Oprah Winfrey Foundation has launched a fully-funded fellowship aimed at empowering African women who are in public service.
It offers women from African countries the chance to study for free at New York University’s (NYU’s) Wagner graduate school of public service — in the hope of supporting Africa-led solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues.
The African Women’s Public Service Fellowship — a partnership between Winfrey and NYU — will provide full tuition, fees, housing, travel to and from the United States, and a stipend to cover books and other expenses.
The aim of the fellowship is to “expand the opportunity for African women” who want to change public service in their countries,according to the New York University (NYU).
The opportunity isn’t open, however, to applicants who are looking to fund advanced professional certificates and non-degree programmes, NYU highlights.
To qualify, applicants must also be a citizen and resident in an African country; have a strong academic record; and a proven commitment to public service in their country or around the continent.
The fellowship is applicable to study on these programmes at Wagner: Masters of Public Administration (MPA) in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy; MPS in Health Policy & Management; Master of Urban Planning, and Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) for Public Service Leaders.
Recipients of the fellowship also must commit to returning to their home countries when the programme ends, with the goal of taking on a leadership position in Africa — where they can “meaningfully contribute to the challenges currently confronting Africa,” the university says.
To apply for the opportunity, applicants must send an essay, a one-minute submission video, and fill out this online application form by Dec. 2.
Candidates who make the shortlist will be invited to Skype interviews with the selection committee by mid-February 2020.
The fellowship joins many other education initiatives supported by the Oprah Winfrey Foundation.
Speaking at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 event that was held in Johannesburg in Dec. 2018, Winfrey said society can change if we all play our part, no matter how small, in helping others.
“I always thought it was because Madiba was a citizen of the world that he really got to see how the power of one leads to the empowering of many,” she said. “He knew when a society is wounded, we all bleed.”
She added: “As Maya Angelou taught me: Your legacy isn’t some big grand gesture that’s waiting to happen, your legacy is every life you touch… I built a school right here in South Africa to help girls become leaders of a new South Africa. Every time one of them succeeds, it is my greatest reward.”
*Source Global Citizen
Cameroon: Citizens urged to be involved in peace building process
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Citizens in Cameroon has been urged to be involved in the peace building exercise and should also learn to be proactive as a means to bringing peace in the country. According to participants, the government cannot do everything on its own. These amongst others were some solutions proposed by participants during a public dialogue which took place September 12, 2019, at Mbouoh Star Palace Hotel in Dschang under the theme “The quest for citizen participation in promoting peace in Cameroon.”
The event was in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, whose mission is to provide independent, in-depth and insightful policy recommendations that advance the Cameroonian economy, and the economies of other sub-Saharan African countries, in partnership with NEDemocracy
During the discussions, three prominent issues were x-rayed by participants such as: the ongoing Anglophone crisis in the South West and North West Regions, the Boko Haram insurgencies in the North, and the refugee crisis in the East Regions.
Some 80 participants from the public, private and civil society organizations, and others were present to propose solutions through which Cameroon can accelerate its progress towards the resolutions of the current conflicts it is presently facing.
On the Anglophone crisis, participants indicated that a national inclusive dialogue will go a long way in resolving the present upheavals in the Regions. This call comes at a time when the Head of State has equally acknowledged the Anglophone crisis. In his unprecedented State of the Nation address, the President said there will be a national dialogue at the end of this month which will involve all stakeholders. “The dialogue to be presided over by the prime minister will bring together all Cameroonians, especially traditional rulers, lawmakers, the clergy and all elected officials,” Biya said.
To one participant, “We have to solve the problem by tackling it from the root. There has to be the respect for the fundamental rights of individuals especially those of the Anglophones. They are not respected at all.” “This issue also boils down to the respect of cultural differences-Cameroon being French and English. These two languages and cultures are very different from one another and no one should be seen as superior and forced down on people.”
Another major solution proposed to solve the Anglophone crisis is for the release of political prisoners, and the release of all those arrested in connection to the crisis. This has been one of the calls from the opposition parties and human rights organizations both internally and externally. Many had equally hoped that prior to the head of State’s address all those in prison would be released-something which was not done by the Head of State.
Participants say the elimination of bad governance and corruption will contribute in solving the numerous problems in Cameroon. It is not new in Cameroon that corruption has become pervasive and has affected all sectors of the government, and even the private sector.
Corruption in Cameroon is caused by various issues such as personal interest, favoritism, ineffective system of accountability and others. According to the 2018 Corruption Perception Index reported by Transparency International, Cameroon is the 152 least corrupt nation out of the 175 countries.
With respect to the Boko Haram crisis in the North, and the refugee crisis in the East of Cameroon, participants suggest that before the intervention of the government, citizens should regroup themselves to protect their territories. For years now, the Cameroon military has been battling embers of the Boko Haram sect in the North with casualties in the numbers.
In May 2014, Cameroon declared war on Boko Haram at the Paris Summit. Since then, Boko Haram has intensified its activities in the Far North Region of the country, making Cameroon the second most targeted country, regarding attacks by the sect. From July 2015 to March 2016, Boko Haram carried out more than 50 suicide attacks in Cameroon, killing more than 230 people while wounding 500 others.
Deloitte Africa honoured for efforts towards increasing representation of women
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Johannesburg, 06 September 2019 – Deloitte Africa has been honoured with second place in both the Empowerment of Women in the Community and the Women on Boards categories at this year’s Gender Mainstreaming Awards, held at Gallagher Estate, in Johannesburg, last night.
Managed by Business Engage, these awards aim to encourage private sector buy-in to achieving more meaningful representation of women in the mainstream of business and to serve as a springboard for further achievement for companies that are still starting out on their gender diversity journey.
Deloitte Africa was this year also awarded two further accolades in the individual categories, with the chairman of Deloitte Africa, Trevor Brown, winning the Trailblazer award in the Inclusive Leadership category; and the leader of Diversity and Inclusion for the company’s Africa operations, Eshana Manichand, being named the second place finalist for the Positive Role Model: Management award.
Deloitte Africa was also selected as a finalist for the Mainstreaming Gender and Disability award.
Justine Mazzocco – Managing Director of Talent and Transformation, Deloitte Africa –
says the company is immensely proud to be recognised for its efforts to increase the representation and retention of women on their staff.
“We are working hard to ensure that our talent pool is diverse and reflects the make-up of our society. Operating a diverse and inclusive organisation is also fundamental in this area and we seek to leverage our differences as a strength that makes our organisation better,” Mazzocco says, “Some of the initiatives we’ve implemented include focusing on creating an environment that enables women to achieve their ambitions and embraces generational diversity. To date, we have a record 33% female representation on the Africa board, and a 31% women ownership as of 1 June this year, which further highlights our commitment to elevating women at strategic levels”.
On winning the award for Inclusive Leadership, Brown says, he has always had a natural affiliation towards gender equality, even before it became a corporate imperative.
“Mutual respect and the belief that all people should be treated with dignity must underpin organisational culture,” he says, “The tone at the top, when it comes to gender equality, drives the ethos throughout the organisation. Being intentional about diversity and driving gender equality is of utmost importance to Deloitte, and especially key to me in my leadership role.”
Manichand said of her achievement, “With our global ALL IN strategy we have reinforced our commitment to maintaining an organisation where everyone has an equal opportunity to grow, develop, and succeed; to be their truest selves, both professionally and personally.
She says Deloitte Africa aims to increase the representation and retention of under-represented groups across all levels of the organisation, with a particular focus on women.
“Investing our time, effort and energy in people and witnessing their moment of success is extremely rewarding and purposeful,” she says.
Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL does not provide services to clients. Please see www.deloitte.com/about to learn more about our global network of member firms.
Deloitte provides audit & assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 500® companies through a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories bringing world-class capabilities, insights and service to address clients’ most complex business challenges. To learn more about how Deloitte’s approximately 264,000 professionals make an impact that matters, please connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Banishing blinding trachoma in Egypt
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Antibiotics to treat the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness have been delivered to nearly 300,000 people in Egypt. It was the first mass drug administration (MDA) of its kind in the country for trachoma and is crucial in preventing children and adults from going needlessly blind. It was delivered by the ministry of health and district level governates, with other organisations such as Sightsavers and other NGOs playing a vital role in distribution and facilitating its success.
Trachoma is an infectious and painful condition, which traps millions of people in a cycle of poverty because they are often unable to work. Over 1.7 million people in Egypt are at risk of trachoma, and a further 11 million live in areas where the disease is endemic, according to surveys taken in 2015.
To tackle the disease, community programmes have raised awareness and understanding of trachoma and how to prevent it, but until now no drugs had been mass distributed.
Egypt has a successful track-record in treating other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). It was the first country in the Eastern Mediterranean to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (aka elephantiasis) and has made inroads to eliminating Schistosomiasis (snail fever). It is hoped this experience will help the country eliminate trachoma as a public health problem.
Philip Downs, Sightsavers’ Technical Director for NTDs said:
“This is a real milestone for public health in Egypt. Blinding trachoma has been causing suffering in Egypt since the age of the Pharaohs – yet could very soon be banished to the history books if it is made a priority.”
“This is the first time there has been such a large-scale distribution of antibiotics in the country. The Egyptian government, regional governments and other partners, have done a fantastic job to make this happen and proved that collaboration is key to overcoming challenges.
“But it’s important to remember that this is just the first step – more work is needed before Egypt follows in the footsteps of other countries and eliminates trachoma.”
The first trachoma MDA in Egypt happened in Matay, in the Menia region, at the end of July, where nearly 10 per cent of children aged one to nine had symptoms of the disease. Over the course of seven days health workers distributed doses of the antibiotic Zithromax®, donated by Pfizer, to 288,365 people aged six months and up. Children under seven received their dose in the form of syrup. Teams issued medical advice as well as distributed the antibiotics, and included a nurse and a recorder. The teams went house to house in 24 villages and three suburban areas, travelling across difficult terrain, to villages nestled into the base of mountains, and even visited a Matay prison, where the director of health personally took a dose of the antibiotic in front of prisoners to encourage acceptance.
The 468 health workers also prepared communities for the drug distribution and shared information about trachoma through local media, social media, community leaders, policy makers, faith leaders, and other community organisations.
Dr Ahmed Mousa, Chairman of Nourseen, on the frontline of delivering the programme, said this community engagement was key to the success of the programme as it meant people knew what to expect and why it was important. He added: “The community was very receptive to receiving the drugs and the distribution went smoothly. Health education helps reduce a certain amount, but you need the drug to treat a big slice of the community all at once.”
The treatment programme was delivered by the Egyptian Ministry of Health and district level governates, and was the result of a global collaboration with international organisations including Sightsavers, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Nourseen foundation, KCCO and the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). Local government and NGOs played a vital role in distribution and facilitating the success of the treatment programme.
For more information about the global drive to eliminate trachoma please visit https://www.sightsavers.org/protecting-sight/ntds/towards-trachoma-elimination/
For images and/or more information please call 01444 446739 or email Katya Mira at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
- Funders of the MDA in Egypt are the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population and the Menia governorates in the Matay district, with Zithromax® provided by Pfizer and the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). The project was made possible through a partnership with Sightsavers, the World Health Organisation, Nourseen Charity Foundation for Community Ophthalmology, Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) and ITI.
- If momentum continues, trachoma could be just years away from elimination. In 2012 Oman became the first country WHO validated as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, followed by Morocco in 2016, then Mexico, Cambodia and Laos in 2017, and most recently Ghana, Iran and Nepal in 2018. China, Togo, The Gambia and Myanmar are also believed to be on the cusp of elimination.
Sightsavers is an international organisation that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities. It is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) www.sightsavers.org
Sightsavers holds Independent Research Organisation (IRO) status, making us one of the only international non-governmental organisations to hold this status in the UK. We conduct high quality research to address global gaps in knowledge and put research findings into practice by feeding them back into the design of our programmes.
There are 36 million blind people in the world; 75% of all blindness can be prevented or cured.
In the six decades since its foundation, Sightsavers has:
- Supported over 1.1 BILLION treatments for neglected tropical diseases
- Carried out over 10.2 million operations to restore sight
- Trained more than 795,427 primary eye care workers
- Carried out rehabilitation training for 225,954 blind or low vision beneficiaries
- Supported 62,908 blind or low vision children to gain a school education
Reaching global financial inclusion by 2020 is almost impossible
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Ferdinand Maniraguha
International organizations have that admitted reaching hundred percent financial inclusion by 2020 is not possible though much has been done since that vision has been set.
At the 2015 World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings, they adopted measurable commitments to achieve Universal Financial Access by 2020 and help promote financial inclusion.
In 2011, 2.5 billion people were unbanked according to World Bank. That number reduced to 1.7 billion by 2017.
Dr Alfred Hannig, executive director of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) says that such objective is unlikely to be achieved on time.
He was speaking Tuesday at a press conference in Kigali, before a two day AFI Global policy forum 2019 program which kicked off this Thursday.
“I believe that this objectives have been quite optimistic , the timeline was very short and from our own experience, we can say that if you talk about hundred percent inclusion, we need to recognize that this take time”, he said
However, Hannig praised the decision of having set such vision, because it helped to put much efforts into bridging the gap between banked people and unbanked.
“From our point of view, the time that has been given it’s a little bit too short to achieve. On the other hand, the 2020 objective was also important looking to access to finance. The question is how can we achieve it in a very short time.”
He stressed that global financial inclusion may take up to 2030 to be achieved.
During the opening of 2019 AFI Global policy forum, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente urged countries to shift their focus on digital finance by bringing youth on the run.
He said that in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 60% of the population fall below age of 25, most of them are less likely to have a bank account compared to adults.
Bringing youth on board, Dr Ngirente said that financial institutions have to use technology which attract them.
“In this regard, financial literacy could be the starting point in this process since many of the youth have a keen interest in digital channel, digital financial services accessed and delivered through their mobile phones, could be the solution to banking them” said Ngirente.
One of the problems that still hinders financial inclusion, is a big number of women who are unbanked, because 56% of the unbanked population are women.
Rwanda Central Bank Governor, John Rwangombwa warned that the SDG 5 will not be achieved if women are excluded financially.
SDG5 on Gender and Equality, aims at bringing to an end all forms of discrimination against women and girls.
“These numbers imply that strong measures must be taken to create a conducive environment, for women to participate and benefit from all development opportunities” he said before adding that “Having access to quality and affordable financial products and services is a foundation to the efforts to promote gender equality.”
AFI says that since 2011 there is a 9 % gender gap in financial inclusion globally that needs to be bridged.
Withdrawal of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame from the World Economic Forum in South Africa Last Week was an Honorable Act for Africa
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
By James N. Kariuki
On Friday last week in one of South Africa’s national newspapers, The Citizen, Ralph Mathekga, usually insightful political analyst, was reported to have rebuked Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame for declining an invitation to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town.
The issue at hand related to African reaction to the on-going xenophobic attacks on non-South African nationals in SA. In Mathekga’s view, Kagame’s response to the attacks reflected ‘weak leadership’ and lack of ‘political maturity’ in Africa. In assessing the facts realistically, such a conclusion was not only unduly harsh; it was misleading, unjustified and disingenuous.
To begin with, besides Rwanda other African states had voiced grave reservations about attending the WEF under the prevailing circumstances in SA. These included Nigeria, Malawi, the DRC, Zambia and Tanzania. Kagame was hardly alone. More to the point, he had nothing to do with the causes, spread and execution of the xenophobic carnage and had virtually no influence over its perpetrators. After all, South Africa is a sovereign nation. The only avenue available to Kagame was indirect influence via the local South African authorities.
Yet, no utterances were forthcoming from the SA Government officialdom or the organizers of WEF that a plan was underway to stem or alleviate the impact of the savage and senseless attacks on innocent and defenseless fellow Africans. Obviously Kagame felt helpless and frustrated that the WEF seemed to be bent on proceeding as if nothing alarmingly critical was happening in its host country.
Mathekga’s reasoning would have been sound had it proposed that an urgent consultative meeting of African leaders be called by the SA government just before, or along the WEF, to discuss on emergency basis the crisis of the on-going Afrophobia-driven brutality. In the absence of the African Union in the WEF, the obligation to solicit such give-and-take views from other African leaders rested squarely on the shoulders of the host, President Cyril Ramaphosa. President Kagame was certainly not in a position to summon such a sub-meeting; he was a guest, not the man-in-charge. To repeat ourselves, South Africa is a young sovereign nation and is understandably ultra-sensitive to matters touching its jurisdiction.
By all indications, a give-and-take meeting of African leaders at, or parallel to the WEF, was not forthcoming. Conceivably, President Kagame felt that it would be a betrayal to his personal conscience and the people of Rwanda for him to sit among global leaders to discuss economic issues while innocent fellow Africans around them were being decimated with impunity. Meanwhile, the global leaders would be sitting at the majestic International Convention Center in Cape Town, securely protected by state security forces, possibly oblivious to the woes of the violence outside.
Viewed from this angle, President Kagame’s conscious and deliberate choice to formally exclude himself from Cape Town’s WEF was a carefully considered act of ultimate decency, political maturity, and diplomatic savvy. It was his way of protesting how victimized ‘foreigners’ in SA were being handled virtually indifferently by the country’s officialdom and to inform the victims of Afro-phobia that, “yes, we hear you and we do care. Indeed, you matter to us.”
Such a reaction is truly understandable coming from a leader who, in all likelihood, still encounters occasional sleepless nights, haunted by memories of man’s savagery to fellow man from the ghastly Rwanda Genocide which took place twenty five years ago and senselessly wiped out ten percent of his nation’s population.
It was indeed a misplaced judgment for Mathekga, otherwise a seasoned and compelling political analyst, to condemn President Kagame for finding it unacceptable to visualize himself sitting in an economic meeting while innocent people outside faced war conditions of life and death.
Seen in this context, President Kagame’s self-imposed ‘exclusion’ from WEF was indeed a dignified and decent diplomatic act to show that he, as a mature and committed African leader, drew the line in the sand to assert that what was happening in SA at that juncture was far from acceptable. To see this gesture any other way than honorable, verges on blaming the victim.
*James N. Kariuki is a Kenyan Professor of International Relations (Emeritus). He comments on public issues in various international publications.He runs the blog Global Africa
MenEngage Africa denounces recurring attacks of non-nationals of African descent in South Africa
September 11, 2019 | 0 Comments