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Brand Africa 100: DANGOTE and MTN are The Most Admired African Brands.
May 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

NIKE is The Most Admired Brand in Africa.   

Highlights – Most Admired Brands in Africa:

  • Over 15,500 brand mentions and 2,200 individual brands in the survey
  • Nike rises one spot to the #1 most admired brand in Africa.
  • African brands up one spot to take 17% (17/100) (+1) share of the Top 100 brands in Africa.
  • Europe leads the table with 40/100 (-2). North America with 24/100 (- 2) and Asia with 19/100 (+2)
  • Ralph Lauren (+48), Versace (+41) and Reebok (+43) made the most gains.
  • Ford (-39),), Etisalat (-31) and Sprite (-38) lost the most ground.
  • Zimbabwe’s Econet (#40) made most spectacular entry into the Top 100.
  • Technology and Electronic brands (29%), consumer (non-cyclical) (19%), apparel (15%), automobile (8%), food (7%) and sports & fitness (5%) categories are the top categories.
  • Non-African brands are #1 in 17/23 countries, led by Samsung (8/23), Nike (6/23), Coke (2/23) and Gucci (1/23).
  • African brands are #1 in 6/23 countries, led by MTN (2/23), Econet (1/23), Trade Kings (1/23) and Azam (1/23).
  • Highlights – Most Admired African Brands:
  • Dangote is the #1 most admired African brand recalled when consumers are prompted about the continent of origin.
  • MTN retains position as the #1 Most Admired African brand spontaneously recalled irrespective of country of origin.
  • West Africa (9) with Nigerian brands (4) leads the table, Southern Africa (7) leads with South African brands (5), East Africa (5) leads with Kenya (3) and North Africa (1) leads with Morocco (1) among brands recalled when prompted on continent of origin.
  • Southern Africa (9) leads with South Africa (5), West Africa (9) leads with Nigeria (4), and East Africa (5) leads with Kenya (3) and North Africa (1) with Morocco (1) among brands recalled when prompted on continent of origin.
    • West Africa (6) with Nigeria (6) leads the table, Southern Africa (6) leads with South Africa (4) and East Africa (5) leads with Kenya (3) among brands recalled spontaneously.
    JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 25th, 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Brand Africa in association with the JSE, today announced the Top 100 best brands in Africa on their 6th annual Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands at the JSE in Johannesburg.
    Thebe Ikalafeng Founder and Chairman of Brand Africa with representatives of Dangote (Most Admired African Brand), Nike (most Admired Brand in Africa), MTN (most Admired African Brand)

    Thebe Ikalafeng Founder and Chairman of Brand Africa with representatives of Dangote (Most Admired African Brand), Nike (most Admired Brand in Africa), MTN (most Admired African Brand)

    The US sports and fitness brand, Nike, is the overall #1 brand in Africa spontaneously recalled by consumers. South African tele-communications brand MTN is the #1 African brand spontaneously recalled irrespective of continent of origin, while Nigerian industrial brand Dangote is the #1 African recalled when consumers are prompted about the continent (Africa) of origin.

    The Brand Africa 100 ranking is based on a survey among consumers 18 years and older, conducted in 23 countries across Africa. The countries, representing all African economic regions, collectively account for 75% of the population and the 74% of the GDP of Africa.
    African brands rose slightly to account for 17% of the Top 100 brands in Africa, non-African brands retained their firm position in Africa with 83% share of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa. Europe leads the table with 40/100 (-2), North America at 24/100 (- 2) and Asia 19/100 (+2). West Africa (6) with only Nigerian brands (6) and Southern Africa (6) with South African brands (5) lead the table, East Africa (5) leads with Kenya (2) among brands recalled spontaneously.
    The Top 100 is dominated by technology and electronic brands (29%), consumer (non-cyclical) (19%), apparel (15%), automobile (8%), food (7%) and sports & fitness (5%) categories are the top categories.
    Overall, the 2017/18 Brand Africa 100 list, which started out with over 15,500 brand mentions covering over 2,200 admired brands, illustrates a very diversified portfolio of categories and brands in Africa. There is an incredible year-on-year consistency, with 60% of the Top 10 brands common among the Top 10 Most Admired African Brands and Most Admired Brands in Africa, led by Nigeria’s Dangote and Glo, South Africa’s MTN and Shoprite, Kenya’s Tusker and Ethiopia’s Anbessa. Out of the 16 African brands in Top 100 in 2016/17, 6 exited and 7 entered the Top 100 in 2017/18.
    The major change on the list is the status of the Safaricom/Mpesa brand. Because Vodacom/Vodafone recently became majority owner of the business, in the 2017/18 tables the Safaricom/Mpesa brand was consolidated into the Vodacom/Vodafone brand. Singled out, the Safaricom/Mpesa brand ranked 27, higher than the Vodacom/Vodafone brand, which is at #31. Collectively, the Vodacom/Vodafone/Safaricom brand is now at #17. But Safaricom/Mpesa remains a highly recalled ‘African’ brand among Financial Services and the Most Admired Brands in Africa. Zimbabwe’s Econet made the most spectacular first time entry into the Top 100 at #40. After a long stay on the list despite its innumerable challenges, BlackBerry finally fell off the list as the brand exited the consumer markets. On the other hand, Etisalat, which dropped 31 spots remains on the list of the Top 100 despite exiting Africa in 2017.
    The highest gains are dominated by apparel and lifestyle sport brands Ralph Lauren (+48), Versace (+41) and a resurgent Reebok (+43). The sports category, led by Nike (#1), remains a strong performer, due to streategic repositioning or expansion in their positioning towards lifestyle and high profile endorsements and partnerships which have freshened and broadened the brands’ appeal, particularly to youthful and young consumers.
    The biggest faller was Ford, dropping 78% from 50 to 89, possibly due to their much publicized safety issues and recall of the Kuga and Focus brands. Sprite also lost some fizz, dropping 38 spots and Etisalat dropped 31 positions.
    In a country-by-country analysis, non-African brands are #1 in 17/23 countries, led by Samsung (8/23), Nike (6/23), Coke (2/23), Gucci (1/23). African brands are #1 in 6/23 countries, led by MTN (2/23), Econet (1/23), Trade Kings (1/23) and Azam (1/23).
    Because of their transformational impact in Africa, Brand Africa also includes a focused prompted media and financial services sub-survey.
    In the media sub-survey, DStv (incorporating GoTV, Multichoice and Supersport) is the lone pan-African media brand within the Top 10 media list. The media list is led by BBC, which has an extensive history and coverage of Africa through its BBC Worldservice radio and specific African programming. The media list is dominated by America (40%), Europe (30%) and Asia (20%). A deeper analysis of the media category shows high levels of fragmentation, with many local and regional players – thus in general only global players with extensive African reach and resources dominate the top of the list.
    In the financial services sector, 60% of the Most Admired Brands are made in Africa. GTB retains its #1 position as the Most Admired Financial Services Brand, and Safaricom Mpesa retains its pole position among mobile money brands. Mobile money brands, Safaricom Mpesa (#9), Airtel Money (#21), PayPal (#24) and Orange Money (#25)’s presence underscore the impact of not only Mpesa as the catalyst, but mobile as a key enabler for financial access. Nigeria (6), South Africa (5) and Kenya (3) lead the finance brand tables in a continent that’s cash rather credit led.
    “African brands have an important role in helping to build the African brand,” says Thebe Ikalafeng, Founder and Chairman of Brand Africa and Brand Leadership. These rankings are an important metric of the progress Africa is making in creating home-grown world-class brands that are changing the narrative on African competiveness, image and reputation and contributing to its socio-economic transformation.”
    Brand Africa 100 was developed by pan-African branding and reputation advisory firm, Brand Leadership Group supported by GeoPoll, the leader in mobile-based market research throughout Africa, and strategic analysis and insights by Kantar TNS, the world’s largest information research firm and Brand Leadership, Africa’s premier brand and reputation consultancy.
    GeoPoll used their sophisticated mobile survey platform to identify the most admired brands in Africa among a representative sample of African consumers in 23 African countries. These countries collectively represent an estimated 75% of Africa’s population across all political and economic regions.
    “GeoPoll’s multi-modal survey platform and panel of respondents across Africa allowed us to quickly reach a large sample of respondents in multiple countries, providing brands with valuable data on their standing in the continent that they can utilize to track brand health over time” said Nick Becker, CEO, GeoPoll.
     “‘Success for brands is about establishing an emotional connection, creating intimacy and being more present in consumers everyday lives. This survey is a critical assessment of the various brands that play that vital role in Africa,” says Karin Du Chenne – CEO, Kantar.
    “The JSE is a platform of African and global companies alike to raise capital and grow their businesses and brands. It is our continuous aim that as an exchange we continue to provide a platform for growth with innovative products to meet the needs of our clients and grow the African continent from strength to strength,” says Zeona Jacobs, Director Marketing and Corporate Affairs at the JSE.
    The Brand Africa 100 results will be published in African Business on sale globally from 25 May 2017 and online to subscribers on and


Brand Africa is a non-profit intergenerational movement to inspire a great Africa through creating a positive image of Africa, celebrating its diversity and driving its competitiveness.

Brand Africa mobilises African and diaspora decision makers, thought leaders, influencers and future leaders to engage with, shape and drive an African agenda catalytic for creating an enabling environment for driving Africa’s growth, reputation, competitiveness and unity.

Brand Africa is an independent Non-Profit Organisation registered in the Republic of South Africa (NPC 2013/146300/08) and a signatory to the Independent Code of Governance for Non-Profit Organisations in Africa (


Brand Leadership

Brand Leadership is a pan-African brand development, activation and measurement firm and a strategic partner for global and African decision-makers and brand builders interested in and/or invested in Africa. Established in 2002, Brand Leadership has over the years delivered brand-led solutions that respond to African conditions, needs and ambitions for over 100 African and non-African brands in Africa across diverse industries and markets in the private and public sectors.


GeoPoll is a leader in providing fast, high quality market research from areas that are difficult to access using traditional methods. Working with clients including global brands, media houses, and international development groups, GeoPoll facilitates projects that measure ROI of TV advertisements, demonstrate demand for new products, and assess food security around the world.

GeoPoll combines a robust mobile surveying platform that has the ability to conduct research via multiple modes with a database of over 240 million respondents in more than 60 countries. Strengths lie in GeoPoll’s ability to target extremely specific populations, deploy surveys in multiple countries, and provide expert guidance on how to collect accurate, reliable data through the mobile phone.

Kantar TNS

Kantar TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and stakeholder management, based on long -established expertise and market -leading solutions. With a presence in over 80 countries, Kantar TNS understands individual human behaviour and attitudes across all cultural, economic and political regions of the world. Kantar TNS is part of the Kantar group, one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy groups, with over 25 000 employees across 100 countries encompassing the spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle.

African Business

African Business is the best-selling pan-African business magazine with an award-winning team widely respected for its editorial excellence. It provides the all-important tools enabling decision makers to maintain a critical edge in a continent that is changing the world. African Business special reports profile a wide range of sectors and industries including transport, energy, mining, construction, aviation and agriculture.

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Fairtrade moves the 5th agrofood & plastprintpack West Africa from Accra to Abidjan
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

-Côte d’Ivoire is becoming the bread basket of West Africa

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, May 23, 2018/ — Market update: Good business prospects for the agrofood, plastics and packaging industries in Côte d’Ivoire and West Africa

According to GTAI Germany Trade & Invest of 16 May 2018, Côte d’Ivoire is becoming the bread basket of West Africa . Agriculture and the food industry, especially in Abidjan, have been very dynamic for years, both in production and processing. Further investments will follow. Both sectors also enjoy a prominent regional position as they also supply the other francophone countries of the region, such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Niger, Togo and Benin.

The increasing demand for food throughout the rather homogenous French-speaking West African market of 110 million inhabitants and the good general economic situation in Côte d’Ivoire continue to offer positive prospects for suppliers of agrofood and plastics, printing and packaging technology.

Reasons enough for fairtrade Messe ( to move the 5th agrofood  & plastprintpack  West Africa from Accra to Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast. The event is due on 20 to 22 November 2018 at the Radisson Blu Hotel Abidjan Airport.

Since 2013, the German trade show specialists fairtrade Messe organize agrofood & plastprintpack West Africa in Accra, Ghana. On the background of favourable economic conditions in Ivory Coast and at the request of exhibitors and associations, the 5th agrofood & plastprintpack West Africa will now for the first time be held in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast.

agrofood   is West Africa’s 5th International Trade Show on Agriculture, Food processing & packaging, Ingredients, Bakery & pastry and Food & Hospitality. plastprintpack   is West Africa’s 5th International Plastics, Printing and Packaging Trade Show.

“In the future, agrofood & plastprintpack West Africa could take place alternately, in the even years in Abidjan, in the odd years in Accra, Ghana”, says Martin März, founder & managing partner at fairtrade. “agrofood West Africa covers the entire value chain – from field to fork with the three dedicated events agro & AgroTech West Africa, food + bev tec West Africa and food + hospitality West Africa. The partner event plastprintpack West Africa covers all relevant industries in the plastics, printing and packaging sector.”

Strong international support

agrofood & plastprintpack 2018 enjoys the support of the following international institutions:

• France – adepta French agrofood association & French Embassy Côte d’Ivoire

• Germany – German Embassy Abidjan

• Italy – Italian Embassy Côte d’Ivoire • Netherlands – Agricultural Counselor for West Africa with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

• Turkey – Ministry of Economy

France, the Netherlands and Turkey have already decided to be present at agrofood & plastprintpack West Africa 2018 with official national pavilions.

agro & AgroTech West Africa 2018: New strategic partnership between fairtrade and DLG

DLG German Agricultural Society enters into strategic partnership with fairtrade   and brings in its agro and trade fair expertise by introducing its AgroTech brand to agro West Africa 2018 and onwards. The focus of the cooperation lies on agricultural technology, animal production, flori- and horticulture and hot-house technology.

Fact finding mission and symposium by VDMA Plastics and Rubber Machinery

Germany’s VDMA Plastics and Rubber Machinery   organizes a fact-finding mission to Abidjan in the area of packaging and recycling with 5-10 plastic and rubber machine manufacturers.  Within the framework of plastprintpack West Africa 2018, a symposium will then be held so that German machine manufacturers can present their companies and get an overview of the trade fair and the Ivorian market. In addition, there will also be company visits to local processors.

Market update Ivory Coast and West Africa: Good business prospects for the agrofood, plastics and packaging industries

The French-speaking West Africa is a rather homogenous market of about 110 million inhabitants, which is growing by more than 3 million people every year. With the exception of Guinea, all countries use the franc CFA franc, which is linked to the euro. The currency facilitates not only the overseas export of machinery from Europe and Asia to Abidjan, but also the export of food within the French-speaking countries of West Africa.

According to VDMA, the German Engineering Federation, West Africa imported 187.2 million euros of agricultural equipment .The main markets in West Africa, apart from Nigeria, are Ghana, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Benin, by order of importance.

In the same year, West Africa imported food processing and packaging technology at a value of EUR 557 million  , a plus of 10% compared to 2015. The Top 3 major West African markets and their share, apart from Nigeria, are Ghana (23%), Ivory Coast (21%) and Senegal (20%).

Also the plastprintpack  sector provides great chances for doing business as West Africa imported plastics technology at a value of EUR 143 million in 2016. The major West African market, apart from Nigeria, being Ivory Coast with 34%, followed by Ghana and Senegal.

And West African imports of printing and paper technology amounted to EUR 122 million in 2016. Ivory Coast, apart from Nigeria, ranks first with 33%, followed by Ghana and Guinea.  Last but not least West Africa imported packaging technology at a value of EUR 240 million in 2016. Here again its major market, apart from Nigeria, is Ivory Coast with 30%.

West African food imports increased by 6% to 14.43 billion USD  in 2015 according to WTO whereas West African food exports rose by 9% to 15.99 billion USD.

fairtrade ( was founded by Martin März in 1991. Since long, fairtrade ranks among the leading organisers of professional international trade fairs in emerging markets, especially in North and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Managed by its shareholder and his son Paul März and committed to the values of a family business and the team spirit, fairtrade maintains a powerful network of partnerships throughout the world. fairtrade organizes shows in the sectors Agrofood, Building, CIT Solutions, Energy, Environment, Industry and PlastPrintPack and strives for a high level of customer satisfaction. By means of innovative products and excellent service fairtrade organizes professional platforms for valuable business contacts between exhibitors and visitors. fairtrade is a member of UFI The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and AAXO The Association of African Exhibition Organisers. Our management is ISO 9001:2015 certified.


2A CONSULTING ( is a communication consulting agency specialized in events, approved by the Higher Advertising Council (CSP).  It is one of the best event agencies in Côte d’Ivoire, given the quality of its work and experience. 2A CONSULTING has expanded its activities by creating 2A Éditions, a structure specialized in publishing and advertising management, which produces ESPRIT, the first Ivorian Mind Style magazine. 2A Consulting is composed of about fifteen young and dynamic people with between 5 and 15 years of experience in communication and marketing in agencies or with advertisers.


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Ethiopian Marks African Aviation History with 100th Aircraft in Active Service
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest Aviation Group in Africa and SKYTRAX certified Four Star Global Airline, is pleased to announce that it will take delivery on 5 June 2018 of its 100th aircraft, a Boeing 787-900, the 1st for an African airline to operate 100 aircraft fleet in the history of the continent, thus maintaining its pioneering aviation technology leadership role and ascertaining its leadership position in all aspects of Aviation Services in the continent.

On the planned delivery of the 100th aircraft, Ethiopian Group CEO, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam said: “It is an immense honor for all of us at Ethiopian to reach the milestone of 100 aircraft. This milestone is a continuation of our historical aviation leadership role in Africa and a testimony of the successful implementation of our fast, profitable and sustainable growth plan, Vision 2025.

Ethiopian was the first to avail jet service in the continent back in 1962, and operated the first African B767 in 1984, the first African B777-200LR in 2010, the first African B787-800 Dreamliner and B777-200 freighter in 2012 and the first African A350 in 2016 and the first African B787-9 aircraft in 2017.

Ethiopian now operates one of the youngest and most modern 100 aircraft, with an average age of less than 5 years. Fleet modernization and expansion is one of the four critical pillars of our Vision 2025 strategic roadmap, in support of our fast expanding network, which has now reached over 110 international destinations covering 5 continents.

Our new and cutting-edge fleet composed of B787s and A350s offer unparalleled on-board comfort to our customers and offer the best possible connections when traveling within Africa and between the continent and the rest of the world.

This 100 fleet milestone, which we have achieved ahead of our Vision 2025 targets, compels us to revise our plans with a view to phase in more aircraft and further expand our network so as to meet the growing travel needs of our continent and support its economic development and integration by facilitating the flow of investment, trade and tourism. We will continue to connect more and more Africans with their fellow citizens of the continent and with their brothers and sisters in the rest of the world to make life better every single day”

Ethiopian operates a mix of state-of-the-art aircraft with an average fleet age of five years. The Airline has 5 more Boeing 787-900 and 16 Airbus A350 airplanes on order, among others. Ethiopian was the first African Airline and second only to Japan to operate the B787 Dreamliner in 2012 and the first carrier in Africa to usher with  the Airbus A350 XWB in 2016.

About Ethiopian

Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian) is the fastest growing Airline in Africa. In its seventy plus years of operation, Ethiopian has become one of the continent’s leading carriers, unrivaled in efficiency and operational success.

Ethiopian commands the lion’s share of the pan-African passenger and cargo network operating the youngest and most modern fleet to more than 110 international passenger and cargo destinations across five continents. Ethiopian fleet includes ultra-modern and environmentally friendly aircraft such as Airbus A350, Boeing 787-8, Boeing 787-9, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 777-200LR, Boeing 777-200 Freighter, Bombardier Q-400 double cabin with an average fleet age of five years. In fact, Ethiopian is the first airline in Africa to own and operate these aircraft.

Ethiopian is currently implementing a 15-year strategic plan called Vision 2025 that will see it become the leading aviation group in Africa with seven business centers: Ethiopian International Services; Ethiopian Express Services; Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics center; Ethiopian MRO Services; Ethiopian Aviation Academy; ET In-flight Catering; Ethiopian Ground Services, Ethiopian Airports Services  and Ethiopian Skylight Hotel. Ethiopian is a multi-award winning airline registering an average growth of 25% in the past seven years.


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Egyptian lawyer files €1 billion lawsuit against Ramos over Salah challenge
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Dom Farrell
TOPSHOT - Liverpool's Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah (R) falls with Real Madrid's Spanish defender Sergio Ramos leading to Salah being injured during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26, 2018. Picture  credit GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images

TOPSHOT – Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah (R) falls with Real Madrid’s Spanish defender Sergio Ramos leading to Salah being injured during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26, 2018. Picture credit GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images

The Liverpool forward’s injury saga has taken a bizarre twist, with a fellow countryman looking to sue the Real Madrid skipper who sidelined him

 An Egyptian lawyer has launched a €1 billion (£873m/$1.2bn) lawsuit against Sergio Ramos after Liverpool and Egypt star Mohamed Salah was injured in a challenge with the Real Madrid captain during Saturday’s Champions League final.
Salah landed heavily on his left shoulder after grappling with Ramos during the Kiev showpiece and ligament damage around the joint placed his World Cup participation in doubt.

The Premier League Golden Boot winner posted on Twitter on Sunday to say he was “confident” he would be able to represent Hector Cuper’s side at Russia 2018 , but that has done nothing to quell the apparent anger of lawyer Bassem Wahba.

In an appearance on Egyptian television channel Sada El-Balad , Wahba announced he had filed a complaint to FIFA and accused Ramos of a deliberate act and inflicting “physical and psychological harm” upon a nation and its most celebrated footballer.

“Ramos intentionally injured Mo Salah and should be punished about his actions,” he claimed. “I’ve filed a lawsuit and a complaint to FIFA.

“I’ll ask for compensation, which could exceed €1 billion, for the physical and psychological harm that Ramos gave Salah and the Egyptian people.”

In the seemingly unlikely event of winning any compensation, Wahba has pledged to donate to the state’s Long Live Egypt Fund.

On Monday, a petition on the website asking UEFA and FIFA to take action against Ramos for the challenge on Salah passed 300,000 signatories.

During the match, referee Milorad Mazic did not award a foul for the incident.



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Life In A War Zone : 30 Days in Ambazonia/Anglophone Cameroon (2)
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

-Far-Near War While Anticipating an Attack on the City

By Solomon Ngu*

If one takes seriously the popular narrative surrounding the marginalization and oppression of the Anglophones, the conclusion would be that those who have taken up arms against the government are fighting a war of decolonization – they want to send away the colonizer. This evokes memories of decolonial wars fought around Africa between the 1950s and 1970s. Just how brutal these wars were is a subject that one cannot deal with in detail here but what we all know is that a certain category of people were fighting for their freedom. This war of liberation – according to the Fighters – is no longer about a return to federalism that the country experienced between 1961 and 1972. They want an independent Ambazonia or Southern Cameroons. Government crack-down, particularly soldiers’ unchallenged killings of unarmed Anglophones within the past twenty months, is fuelling the determination of those Ambazonians who want to get their country back. At the center of all this is the Francophonization of everything in Cameroon.

Anyone familiar with Anglophone Cameroon would attest that people in this part of the country talk about loss of freedom all the time. But the reality is that Cameroon is a police state where human rights violation, usually encapsulated by police brutality, has been normalized. Armed resistance against the government by the Amba Fighters has seen authorities devising many methods to further curtail the freedom of citizens. We witness that the government, fearful of what the Fighter could do, imposes curfews, undertake mass arrests, kidnappings, detentions and killings. It does not take long for anyone familiar with daily life in the Anglophone major cities of Limbe, Buea, Bamenda and Kumba to realize a shift in attitude as well as visceral adjustments to the new realities of urban uncertainty. In Buea where I spent most of my time, all the people I met constantly speculated when the war may reach the city. But at the same time, they went about their daily routine, cautiously.

I quickly adjusted to the new realities partly due to my familiarity with bodily discipline. I have been visiting Cameroon yearly for more than a decade and can thus easily tell what a tensional atmosphere is. Going to the countryside, a practice deeply rooted in my visits to Cameroon, was completely out of the question.  All I could hear was that I would be endangering myself and the family if I dared ventured into the village. In a worst case scenario the fear was that it could become difficult for me to get out of the war zone in time to catch my flight back to USA. A point I made in my earlier post and to which I will return frequently is the ravaging war in the villages where the soldiers, out of desperation to eliminate the Amba Fighters, have resorted to burning down villages. These acts of vandalism also take an opportunistic trajectory as when they set up their command post in one or more of the deserted houses and then feed and feast on the food, cattle, chicken and pigs of the fleeing villagers. There have been reports of soldiers setting these occupied houses on flames when they relocate to another part of a village. Videos and photos of vandalized villages continue to circulate on social media.

Amba Fighters’ guerilla strategy whereby they attack the soldiers and then vanish into the bushes has left a frightened urban population. They fear what the soldiers could do to innocent civilians if the Fighters attack individuals and institutions they see as sustaining the Francophonization of this part of the country. Would they burn down entire neighborhoods and markets, destroy people’s livelihood and kill innocent civilians as they do in the villages? How the city dwellers survive in a war situation is the more troubling considering that unlike villagers who are relatively self-sustaining, these urbanites primarily depend on food imported from neighboring farming villages. It should be reiterated that the war has destabilized the vital rural-urban connection that has sustained sociocultural and economic ties between the city dwellers and their village of origin. Within the past hundred years, villages in Anglophone Cameroon have provided sanctuaries for urbanites who return to their land and ancestors when they encounter difficulties in the city.

As far as I could tell, no one took it lightly when it was rumored that the Amba Fighters were present in Buea. What I witnessed in Buea was that government administrators and the police people generally restrain from their well-known wanton lifestyle. Anyone familiar with urban life in Cameroon knows just well how members of the police force in uniform intimidate and bully ordinary citizens at non-office hours. But here is the thing I observed in Buea: police generally do not wear uniforms at non-office hours. In fact, they take off their uniforms before returning home from work. They do not go to the taverns and bars anymore in their uniforms. The words of one police officer I met in Buea summarize this transformed sartorial practice. Referring to a possibility of an attack by Amba Fighters in Buea, he said ‘who no di fear die (who isn’t afraid of death?)’. He took off his police paraphernalia as soon as he finished work so as to conceal his identity.

Police station in Molyko,Buea, partly surrounded by sandbags

Police station in Molyko,Buea, partly surrounded by sandbags

Police stations and checkpoints now have 1.6 meter tall wall of sandbags that are intended to defend the police in an event of an attack. The biggest surprise – when we see god-like figures responding to insecurity – has been that of the governor of the South West Region. Mr Bernard Okalia Bilai presently lives in the Francophone city of Douala from where he commutes daily to work in Buea flanked by security. Recall that this governor not too long ago said Anglophones are ‘dogs’ that would face the full force of the police if they dare protest on the streets. As it stands now, he has realized his own vulnerability and has come to terms with the fact that he no longer has the monopoly to subject citizens to discomfort.

As I began writing this piece about uncertainty in a war zone, I began to think of acts of profound love and pain that some women endured as the fled from the government forces in the villages. I think of this lady who walked for miles at twilight through the forest with her one and a half years old baby. She was seven months pregnant. There was also this lady who abandoned her ailing and helpless mother for hours when news of approaching government soldiers reached her village. Both these women found a way to flee to Buea but were now facing another possibility of fleeing again into the Francophone zone in case war erupted in Buea.

These feelings of impending war in the city point to the fact that there are diminished possibilities to live life as usual but most importantly, it has to do with the question of mortality. Diminished livelihood possibilities and death are catastrophes that have afflicted villagers ever since the military started invading the countryside in October 2017.  And there seem to be no end in sight. As I write, people are still uncovering  the corpses of unarmed civilians killed by a recent military onslaught in villages around Santa, Menka/Pinyin, Oshei, etc

*This is part of the series Life in a War Zone:30 Days in Ambazonia by  Solomon Ngu

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Prudent management of Africa’s resources will ensure dev’t – Bawumia
May 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah.

Samira Bawumia

Samira Bawumia

Ghana’s Second Lady, Samira Bawumia, has said Africa’s underdevelopment is largely attributable to lack of prudent management of the continent’s resources.

“We can only have a developed Africa if we manage our resources prudently and in the best interest of our people; “ Mrs Bawumia said, when she delivered a speech at the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry at an event to mark the 55th Anniversary of African Union (AU) Day celebration in Rome.

She asserted that African countries need to translate opportunities offered by globalization into inclusive growth, increased poverty reduction and sustainable development.

However, we need to take account of the fact that, integration into global markets have some risks; as countries may become more susceptible to global trends, including corrupt practices by multinational corporations and other vested external interests.

The theme of the 55th Anniversary of the AU: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Development”, according to Mrs Bawumia “goes to the crux of our national priorities.


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ICT University graduates more than over 1000 in Uganda
May 27, 2018 | 0 Comments


There was an ever present message of the changing times in academics and the global working order, as 1,421 students were awarded degrees, diplomas and certificates from ICT University in collaboration with Makerere University Business School (MUBS).

On May 25, students from across Africa were awarded different certificates, with some completing a doctor of philosophy. Other graduands were awarded masters, bachelors, diplomas and certificates at the MUBS main campus in Kampala Uganda.

 Uganda and in particular Makerere University and its colleges are attractive to many students from across the African continents. It is this understanding that saw the proprietors of ICT University sign a memorandum of understanding with MUBS. And this decision is paying off, as those graduating came from Nigeria, Uganda and other countries in between.

The day, however, wasn’t just about merrymaking and enjoying one’s academic achievements, as speaker after speaker focused little on the congratulatory messages, with most choosing instead, to talk about the realty of joining the job market in an age when humans are now competing with artificially intelligent machines.

Jointly organised by two universities that are generally businesses oriented, the merrymaking didn’t stop the speakers from delving into the serious conversation of becoming gainfully employed when you are an African youth. So even in the face of celebration, cultural dances and the promise of celebratory meals, the graduands, especially those that were receiving their first degree were reminded that this was the beginning. This was the time when the graduands could start the process of making a difference through a lot of discipline, sacrifice and hard work.

Patrick Mweheire the Stanbic Bank Chief Executive Officer who gave the commencement speech warned the graduands that even jobs like accounting which used to be considered prestigious and hard to get have since been automated.

It was a festive air at the graduation

It was a festive air at the graduation

Faced with this challenge, Mr Mweheire advised the graduands to compliment the hardcore knowledge acquired from university with soft skills.

“Hardcore skills contribute 15 per cent to success. Soft skills contribute 85 per cent. So you have to make a conscience effort to continuously develop soft skills,” he says.

He says that since soft skills are not learnt from school, require constant learning. Such skills include the ability to deal with people and motivate others. He also says that someone with the right kind of soft skills has to have the ability to solve problems under pressure.

The soft skills he says will come in handy for looking for employment, as that’s how people with the same education on paper are differentiated. For those who want to start businesses, he says convincing someone to believe in an idea that doesn’t exist yet, isn’t something that can be learnt in school.  The fact that millennials stay longer with company if, the business’ goals are aligned with personal ones means that even holding onto employees can be for an executive that lacks soft skills.

Dr Ezra Suruma the Makerere University Chancellor added that having graduated through an education system that largely examines the ability to cram and memorize facts and figures; the graduands had to reinvent themselves. The skill of cramming and reducing information is a skill that no longer has much value.

“The challenge that you face individually and collectively is that remembering Napoleon’s birthday is no longer of much value because you can get this information off the internet in an instant,” he says.

Dr Suruma advised the graduands to seek more knowledge, be persistently innovative and creative.

But the changing times wasn’t just reflected in the how to become gainfully employed messages. It was also in the fact that Makerere University’s Vice Chancellor was present for this particular graduation, suggesting an improvement in relations with MUBS. For the students Makerere University’s presence provides more authenticity for their academic documents.

“In the past the seat of the Vice Chancellor would have remained empty,” said the MUBS Principal Prof Waswa Balunywa.

MUBS is still a constituent college of Makerere University. The MUBS students that are not part of ICT University will graduate in January alongside those studying at the Makerere University. Years of fights of resources and independence had created a lot of enmity Makerere University and its constituent college MUBS.

 Since MUBS become a semi independent institution, the two institutions didn’t fight over graduation lists and finances.

MUBS has even been actively campaigning to become independent, but Makerere University insisted this would require a change of name. Since MUBS without its Makerere association loses some of its popularity, this had become a continuously contentious issue until the arrival of Professor Barnabas Nawangwe.

Prof Nawangwe who is the new Makerere University Vice Chancellor was so cordial, he even directed that more of MUBS practices are adopted by the other colleges at the main campus, as this provides opportunity for improved performance and discipline.

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African Development Bank delivers strong operational results
May 26, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Bank is scaling up its efforts to accelerate the pace of industrialization, supported by its presence in 38 countries and by timely and quality operations


BUSAN, Republic of Korea, May 24, 2018/ — The African Development Bank ( is delivering on its goals and making good progress towards achieving its development and operational targets according to the 2018 Annual Development Effectiveness Review (ADER) , which was released at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Busan, Republic of Korea.

Every year, ADER scrutinizes the Bank’s operational effectiveness and its organizational efficiency, using the Bank’s results measurement framework for 2016-2025. It brings together evidence of strengths and weaknesses to provide management with a clear understanding of what has worked well and what the Bank must do better to achieve its High 5 development goals.

“The report shows that the African Development Bank is delivering on its commitment to help Africa achieve the Bank’s High 5 priorities,” said Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President. “The Bank continues to strengthen its effectiveness as an organization, while scaling up its operations.”

This year’s ADER has a special focus on industrializing Africa. “There are good reasons to be optimistic that industrialization is achievable in the coming years. Africa is open for business, with stable economies and supportive business environments,” said Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina. “It has a young and growing workforce that is increasingly global in outlook. Urbanization and the rise of the African middle class are opening up new consumer markets, which act as a magnet for investors.”

In 2017, companies had improved access to transport, energy, and skills, which expanded their ability to do business across the continent. The Bank contributed to these improvements: it provided 14 million people with access to transport – well above its target – while building or rehabilitating 2,500 km of roads in 2017 and also helped 210,000 small and micro businesses access finance, which benefitted 2.6 million people.

“This level of performance is promising, but we must continue driving operational delivery and impact,” said Simon Mizrahi, Bank Director for Delivery, Performance Management and Results.

The Bank is scaling up its efforts to accelerate the pace of industrialization, supported by its presence in 38 countries and by timely and quality operations. This backbone and experience position the Bank well to mobilize more resources from institutional investors around the world for industrial development.


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Society for AIDS in Africa witnesses renewal of governance
May 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Prof John Idoko

Prof John Idoko

 On 8th May 2018, the Fiesta Royale Hotel in  Accra, Ghana, witnessed the renewal of governance of the Society for AIDS in Africa in accordance with articles 10.1, 10.2 and 12 of the SAA Constitution.

 According to  Luc Armand Bodea, Permanent Secretariat of the Society for AIDS in Africa,   After the regional electronic voting system which facilitated the elections of the new Administrative council members, six of the newly elected council members came to SAA’s Headquarters in Ghana to democratically elect their new Executive Council for a tenure of  4 years (2018- 2021).

  The executive council elections were held at the SAA Permanent Secretariat, located at Adjiringanor, East Legon. The presiding election officer was Prof. Robert Soudre from Burkina Faso, member of SAA board of Trustees, seconded by Dr. Amissa Bongo, immediate past Vice President as electoral commission secretary.

The following Administrative Council Members were elected as Executive office Bearers:

President:                                                          Prof. John Idoko. (Nigeria)

Vice President:                                                 Hon. Dr. Pagwesese David Parirenyatwa (Zimbabwe)

Secretary-General:                                          Prof. Tandakha Ndiaye Dieye (Senegal)

Deputy Secretary-General:                            Mrs. Sahra Guleid (Somaliland)

Treasurer:                                                          Dr. Namwinga Chintu. (Zambia)

Deputy Treasurer:                                            Prof. Samuel Elias Kalluvya (Tanzania)

The SAA Permanent Secretariat coordinator, Mr. Luc Armand Bodea in his welcoming speech at Fiesta Royale Hotel stated that it is the 6th handing over ceremony of the Society. The First President was, Prof. Bensilman from Morocco, followed by Dr. Pierre Kelibou Mpele (Democratic Republic of Congo), and the third President, Prof. Femi Soyinka (Nigeria) who established the SAA Permanent secretariat in Accra in 2009, then the 4th President, Prof. Robert Soudre (Burkina Faso) followed by Dr. Ihab Ahmed A. (Egypt) the current out-going President. He further said the strength of the organization resided in the constitutional respect of the governing board and also the establishment of the SAA Permanent Secretariat. Civil society organizations such as NAP+ Ghana with members of the international Community, were in attendance with Mrs. Angela Trenton – Mbonde country Representative of UNAIDS, Amb.Dr. Mokowa Blay Adu Gyamfi, Director General of Ghana AIDS Commission and Mr. Hamidu Adakurugu, representative of the Minister of Health, Ghana.

The immediate past President of the 5th SAA governing Board officially handed over the leadership of the organization to the new SAA President Prof. John Idoko. In his speech, Dr. Ihab commended the outgoing fellow board members for their dedication and selflessness that permitted him to steer the affairs of SAA for the term of four years with good governance, integrity, and excellence. Dr. Ihab said and I quote: “Over the past years in office, we have demonstrated the need for a more innovative approach to prevent, control and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa, this has been achieved through various initiatives mainly ICASA conferences. We tried as much as possible to give more visibility and transparency to SAA as an institution. This humble achievement could not have been possible without the support and commitment of our various stakeholders, civil society organizations, UNAIDS, WHO, Ghana AIDS Commission, Donors and others,”

In this direction, he expressed utmost gratitude particularly to Ghana AIDS Commission for its support to SAA Headquarters since the establishment of the Permanent Secretariat in Ghana. “I also thank WHO, UNAIDS, USAID, AU and all other UN agencies as well as all Donors working for the noble cause of preventing HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria in Africa. He, therefore, urged the incoming SAA President, Prof. John Idoko and his team to build on the past achievements that he believes now more than ever needs the absolute attention of this young generation of leaders to achieve the SDG’s and beyond while targeting the three 90.

The newly-elected SAA President, Prof. John Idoko, in delivering his official address commended Dr. Ihab and the past board members for their commitment and for organizing a transparent and democratic election which brought him into office. He emphasized the need to train younger research scientists to improve research towards achieving 90, 90, 90 and end AIDS. He further stressed that HIV/AIDS pandemic for past four decades taught us a lot and we need those experiences to efficiently tackle other emerging deceases like Ebola, Zika, Hepatitis, Cancer, Tuberculosis among others set in to destabilize our efforts, adding that there were areas that the organization would have to expand its scope to have better health for all.

The representative of the Minister of Health, the Director General of Ghana AIDS Commission and the Country representative of UNAIDS Ghana all acknowledged that since the inception of SAA with its ICASA platform the burden of HIV and related diseases in Africa has stabilized in the face of considerable progress in access to prevention, treatment, care, and support. They emphasized the relevance of the ICASA platform in helping to increase knowledge, experience sharing and development of strong networks and significant reduction of stigma in our society. They, therefore, commended the out-going President and newly elected President for their achievements and commitment in Africa’s effort to respond to HIV and AIDS, which has enhanced tremendously the image of SAA. Mr. Hamidu Adakurugu representing the Minister of Health concluded that, as Ghana is the host country of SAA Headquarters, Ghana has failed to secure several ICASA bids and it is the Governments’ wish for Ghana to Host ICASA.

The first board of the Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) was established in Kinshasa in October 1990 during the 5th International Conference on AIDS and Associated Cancers in Africa, a precursor to the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA). ICASA is a biennial and bilingual (English & French) conference that convenes 7,000 to 10,000 plus delegates.

The formation of SAA with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) brought to an end, the practice of organizing the International Conference on AIDS in Africa, outside the African continent. At the same time, it empowered Africans to address and respond to the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS on the continent.

The Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA), the custodian of ICASA was founded in 1989 at the fourth International Symposium on AIDS and Associated Cancers in Africa (now ICASA) held in Marseille, France by a group of African scientists, activists and advocates in response to this epidemic. SAA envisions an African continent free of HIV, TB and malaria and their debilitating effects on communal and societal structures, where people are socially and economically empowered to live productive lives in dignity.

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South Sudanese army blame peacekeepers for failure to protect aid workers
May 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

More than 12,000 UN peacekeeping mission troops have been in South Sudan since it gained independence

More than 12,000 UN peacekeeping mission troops have been in South Sudan since it gained independence

Juba – Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) has blamed United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) of failing to protect road travelers several aid workers travelling across the country.

This comes after several incidents involving the abduction of aid workers in the former Western Equatoria region and Yei River State, latest incident took place last week, in which eight aid workers were abducted in Yangiri area in Tombura respectively.

According to the constitution, SPLA is mandated to protect and provide security for the civil population in the country.

While addressing journalists, this week, Army spokesperson Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang said the government was ready give protection to the humanitarian agencies in areas under its control.

 But army spokesperson Lul says this incidents occurred “in rebel-held territories”.

“That should have been the responsibility of UNMISS where our services are not needed. They are not doing anything to protect civilians especially the humanitarian workers …..some of these organizations are contracted or they are sub-contracted, implementing UN projects either for UNMISS of for any organizations. But they leave their sub-contarcts vulnerables,” Lul said.

Lul argued that the peacekeepers are of only concentrating their patrol in the city.

However, he says, aid workers don’t ask for escort because they fear their neutrality in the conflict could be questioned.

“Some of these organizations are contracted or they are sub-contracted, implementing UN projects either for UNMISS or for any organizations. But they leave their sub-contractors vulnerable,” Brigadier Lul said. “And the agreement says that…where you have no control, it is that authority with control in that place that is entrusted or would be entrusted with protection of whoever will be operating there,” he further added.

The Regional Protection Force or RPF – which is under the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan – is mandated to provide protection to key facilitate in Juba and the main routes into and out of the city.

They were also mandated to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and use all means to prevent attacks from any armed groups.

It will also to strengthen the security of UN protection of civilians’ sites and other UN promises.

In response, the UNMISS communication officer said the UNMISS provides peacekeeping support to humanitarian groups upon their request.

South Sudan plunged into war in December 2013, barely two years after independence from Sudan, after a disagreement between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar in the ruling party, deteriorated into a military confrontation.

Tens of thousands have been killed, including aid workers by the fighting between troops loyal to Kiir and forces loyal to Machar. The conflict has also left a quarter of the country’s population of 12 million either internally displaced or as refugees in neighbouring countries.

Of recently, talks in Ethiopia to revive South Sudan’s failed 2015 peace pact and end the country’s civil war broke up on Wednesday without a deal.

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Namibia owes its independence to the OAU-President Geingob
May 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Andreas Thomas

President Hage Geingob, founding President Sam Nujoma and former President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

President Hage Geingob, founding President Sam Nujoma and former President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

Windhoek – For Namibia, the work of the Organisation of Organisation Unity (OAU) Liberation Committee and the solidarity of the African people were instrumental in securing the Namibian independence, said President Hage Geingob.

“It is why our future progress will remain intimately tied to the success of the African continent and its people,” President Geingob said in his Africa Day message on Friday.

Africa Day, marking the founding of the OAU on 25 May 1963 is a key moment in the history of the African continent.

He said the formation of the continental body, that has since transformed into African Union, does not only shine light on Pan-Africanism as an ideology of liberation and decolonization, but crucially, it also aligns our independence to the unity of the African continent.

“Africa is free. We are now in the second phase of our struggle in which the noble ideal of shared economic prosperity for all is not secondary, but an indispensable condition for a sustainable African future.

“The work of the African Union through Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want remains important in ensuring that the majority of Africans have access to decent housing, health, education and economic opportunity.

“To fight poverty, inequality and marginalization, and to unlock opportunities for our shared prosperity, particularly for our young people and future generations, we should encourage deeper economic integration; increase people-to people exchanges and make more investments in infrastructure to facilitate trade”.

The President emphasized that peace, security and effective governance “are the conditions sine qua non for our shared prosperity in the New Africa. In line with Agenda 2063, we have to silence the guns by 2020, for an Africa of opportunity for the majority to become a reality.

“We cannot create opportunities for our youth if we do not create accountable and transparent institutions, and intensify efforts to fight corruption. The decision by the African Union to dedicate its theme for 2018 to the fight against corruption is a step in the right direction. Concerted efforts should follow.

“I have no doubt that with more determination and focused implementation of policy; our vision of a united and prosperous Africa will become a reality. We have a unique opportunity to create sustainable conditions for our collective success.

On this Africa Day, we should reaffirm our commitment to work for a better Africa, a New Africa, and a different narrative for our continent”.

Africa Day signify victory against formal colonialism on the continent. “The rise of Africans against the brutality of imperialism and colonialism – Africans, conscious that they had the right to determine their own destiny, pursued through different forms of resistance and armed struggle, the systematic dismembering and termination of colonialism,” he said.

Geingob stressed that Africans need to pause, reflect and remind themselves with courageous deeds by the Pan-Africanist movement from its base in the Diaspora, led by influential activists and academics, including W.E.B DuBois, Henry Sylvester Williams and Edward Blyden, to leading nationalists such as Nkwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere, Modibo Keita and Ahmed Sékou Touré.

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Trump Versus Rwanda in Trade Battle Over Used Clothes
May 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

BY CLEMENT Uwiringiyimana and Joe Bavier*

A worker prepares thread at the the Utexrwa garment factory in Kigali, Rwanda April 17, 2018. Picture taken April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Jean BizimanaREUTERS

A worker prepares thread at the the Utexrwa garment factory in Kigali, Rwanda April 17, 2018. Picture taken April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Jean BizimanaREUTERS

KIGALI/ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Early last year, weeks after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, a little known American trade association filed a petition with the U.S. Trade Representative.

That seven-page letter set Africa in the cross-hairs of the new administration’s ‘America First’ trade ideology, pitting the world’s largest economy against tiny Rwanda over an unlikely U.S. export: cast-off clothes.

In March, the USTR warned Rwanda it would lose some benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), America’s flagship trade legislation for Africa, in 60 days after it increased tariffs on second-hand clothes to support its local garment industry.

“The president’s determinations underscore his commitment to enforcing our trade laws and ensuring fairness in our trade relationships,” Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney said, announcing the decision.

The 60-day grace period expires on May 28.

But no matter the outcome, the row is further straining Washington’s relations with Africa at a time when it is being aggressively courted by America’s global competitors, not least China.

Beijing has invested tens of billions of dollars in the continent, most recently as part of its huge Belt and Road foreign trade strategy.

Under AGOA, enacted in 2000 with the aim of using trade to boost development, qualifying African countries are granted duty-free access to the U.S. market for 6,500 exported products.

The current dispute, which also initially involved Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, has received none of the attention of Trump’s trade war with China or his haggling with North American neighbors.

Yet critics – including former U.S. trade officials – see in it a worrying indication of how Washington will approach trade relations with Africa.

“It delegitimizes so much of what we’ve worked for for so many years,” said Gail Strickler, who served as the top U.S. trade official on textiles until 2015. “I think it’s horrible. I think it’s sad. I think it’s pathetic and I think it’s obscene.”


Since her husband was murdered in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, Devotha Mukankusi has relied heavily on the UTEXRWA garment factory in the capital Kigali.

“I survived the genocide together with my kids. But it’s thanks to this job that they have grown up,” she said, her voiced raised above the drone of sewing machines as she supervised a group of women assembling police uniforms.

Some 800,000 people – 10 percent of Rwanda’s population – were killed in the genocide. The economy was crushed.

Rwanda has bounced back in the past decade or so. As part of a drive to become a middle-income country by 2020, it is nurturing a garment sector it hopes can create 25,000 jobs.

But domestic demand for locally produced clothes has been stifled, east African governments say, by the ubiquity of cheap, second-hand garments imported from Europe and the United States.

The manager of the factory where Mukankusi works says the facility is only running at 40 percent capacity and second-hand garments, which can sell at well below his production costs, are at least partly to blame.

In response, East African Community (EAC) members Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda increased tariffs on used clothing in July 2016. Rwanda hiked import duties from 20 cents to $2.50 per kilogram.

At Kigali’s Biryogo market, where shoppers pick through bales of used garments, the downside of the increase in duties was immediate.

“Before, even with a little money, you could buy enough second-hand clothes for a child. But some children in my neighborhood are now naked,” Fillette Umugwaneza, 24, a mother of two told Reuters. “It is a disgrace to our country.”

Rwanda’s government argues such hardships will be short-lived. Opening new factories will create more, better paid jobs, while expanding domestic consumption will cut its external trade deficit, it says.

That will take time, admits Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, but early results are encouraging.

“Just in the last two or three years … we’ve seen almost three times growth in production of garments and textiles for the economy,” she said.

The government is also seeking to attract companies targeting the export market, like U.S. designer Kate Spade which assembles high-end handbags in Rwanda. It’s a strategy that has flourished elsewhere in Africa under AGOA, with duty-free exports from the continent to the U.S. market almost quadrupling to over $1 billion since the law was enacted.

The ultimatum from the office of the USTR, however, has thrown up a potential roadblock to further growth.

It acted after receiving a complaint in March last year from the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), a U.S.-based organization which represents companies that collect and resell Americans’ used clothing.

Selling America’s used clothing – much of it donated to charities and the bulk of it originally made outside the United States – is a nearly $1 billion industry. Exports typically end up in poor nations. Africa is a key destination.

SMART said the EAC duty increase violated AGOA.

“It basically was a shutdown in the market for my members,” SMART Executive Director Jackie King told Reuters. “When Rwanda particularly wanted the duties increased by 1,100 percent, it just wasn’t possible to do business there.”

The USTR agreed to review the AGOA status of all four countries. That decision shocked some veteran trade officials in Washington.

“AGOA clearly has a criterion that the beneficiary countries must be eliminating barriers to U.S. trade,” said Florie Liser, former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“That’s kind of always been there, but no one was looking to go after the AGOA countries.”


The mere prospect of losing AGOA benefits was enough to push Kenya, which in 2017 exported nearly $340 million worth of apparel duty-free to the United States, to back down.

The remaining east African nations initially tried to defend their position at a USTR hearing in July, rejecting SMART’s assertion that the new tariffs had cost 24,000 American jobs in the first nine months. Using U.S. trade data, they pointed out that the decline in exports to the EAC that SMART blamed for the job losses had already begun four years before the 2016 duty increase.

Data compiled by, an online information portal about AGOA run by the South Africa-based Trade Law Centre, indicates that U.S. used clothing exports to Rwanda in particular actually increased slightly in 2016.

SMART has not publicly disclosed the survey of its members used to calculate the job losses, saying it contains proprietary information.

The EAC also accused SMART of inflating the importance of the east African market to the industry. Trade data showed the United States shipped around $24 million worth of used clothing to the EAC in 2016.

SMART, however, added another $100 million in exports it said were shipped to third countries for processing before being re-exported. By its calculation the EAC represented over a fifth of the U.S. industry’s global market.

After the July 2017 hearing, Uganda and Tanzania followed Kenya’s example and capitulated, agreeing to roll back tariffs to pre-2016 levels.

Rwanda has held out. If it does not concede by the end of this month it faces losing duty-free access for its garment exports.

“The United States has been explicit about what Rwanda must do to adhere to the AGOA eligibility criteria,” a U.S. official told Reuters. “It is up to Rwanda to make a decision.”

The dispute has provoked dismay in Washington and Africa.

“(Africans) are watching. They’re shocked and they’re livid,” said Rosa Whitaker, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the United States’ first Assistant Trade Representative for Africa and helped draft the original AGOA legislation.

She called the Trump administration’s actions bullying and predicted they would backfire.

“African countries, from what they’re telling me, are feeling abandoned. We’ve just ceded it to China.”

Devotha Mukankusi is more matter of fact about the trade tiff. She’s survived genocide and the Trump administration doesn’t worry her, she said.

“My message for Trump is that it won’t affect us. We are determined to be self-reliant. We’ll make our own clothes.”

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