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SADC Hosts Avian Influenza Preparedness Meeting Following Reports of Virus Resurgency in Affected Countries
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Dr Chimimba David Phiri

Dr Chimimba David Phiri

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have convened a regional meeting in South Africa on 2 to 4 August 2017 on assessing preparedness,response capacities and actions of member states to the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza virus.

The meeting is being held as some countries in the region have reported the resurfacing of the virus and are actively putting measures to control its spread.

According to a FAO sub-regional office for Southern Africa
spokesperson, following the outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 virus in southern Africa, Zimbabwe and South Africa, the SADC secretariat, in collaboration with FAO have organized a regional technical meeting to assess the preparedness, response capacities and actions of member states to the recent outbreaks of HPAI in the sub-region.

According to Chimimba David Phiri , Subregional Coordinator for
Southern Africa for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations and Moetapele Letshwenyo, Subregional Representative for Southern Africa for the World Organisation for Animal Health in a recent opinion piece titled:
Avian influenza is in Southern Africa, concerted regional approach
required to manage it, the first ever confirmation of outbreaks of the
highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in southern Africa, so far
reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, has far-reaching animal health, food and nutritional security and socio-economic impacts in the Sub-region.

They report that the potential losses due to the devastating nature
of the disease and attendant negative impacts on trade in poultry area is a further blow in a region that is struggling to recuperate from the effects of consecutive droughts and other emerging high impact transboundary crop pests and animal diseases such as the fall armyworm and foot and mouth disease.

They say that poultry is a relatively cheap, easily accessible and
high quality source of protein and poultry production presents
livelihoods opportunities, particularly for rural women and youths.
It is reported that the outbreaks are expected to challenge the
preparedness and response capacities of countries and to trigger a
reconfiguration of the structure of poultry production, policies,
regulations and trade both at national and regional level.

“The manner and effectiveness with which this disease outbreak is
managed will determine the severity of the losses to the Sub-region,” they say in the piece.

They also add that, as such, the time to act is now. “The clarion
call is for all countries in the Sub-region, those already infected
and those that are still free but are at risk of infection, to move
swiftly and in a coordinated manner, to control the disease. Failing
to do so could see the region relapsing into further food and income
insecurity and massive losses on the gains that have been made in
recent years,” the experts add.

It is also reported that the outbreak of the avian influenza was
predictable after some countries in North, West and Eastern Africa
confirmed its presence earlier this year, as well as the global
increase in cases of the disease.

In an emergency regional conference on emerging transboundary animal and crop pests and diseases, convened by FAO, SADC and OIE in February 2017, experts and delegates were warned of this likelihood. The meeting was alerted to a scenario of migratory birds, the most likely carrier of the virus, following their usual migratory paths through southern Africa and exposing domestic poultry to the disease.

The meeting has also been convened when Zimbabwe has just reported the resurfacing of Avian influenza at Irvine’s, one of the country’s leading poultry producers forcing the government to extend the quarantine period for the poultry producer.
The reported outbreak of the highly pathogenic virus at Irvine’s has
forced the culling of 10 000 birds.

Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services Principal Director,
Dr Unesu Ushewokunze Obatulu confirmed the outbreak.
“We thought at the end of 12 weeks we would be out of the woods, but unfortunately there has been a recurrence. It is not a new case, it
just requires us to continue to manage the property under quarantine,”she said.

Dr Obatulu urged the public, poultry producers and keepers to be on
alert for sudden poultry deaths.The regional meeting is expected to provide an opportunity to assess the preparedness, response capacities and actions of affected and at risk member states, review the contingency plans of member states, harmonize and standardize the laboratory testing protocols and capacities of member states, provide a platform for sharing of information, experiences, knowledge and good practices, on the management of HPAI H5N8 outbreaks in the region and improve regional coordination by strengthening sub-committees, technical working groups
and networks.

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Africa: A.P. Moller Holding launches new infrastructure fund with a focus on Africa
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
The new fund will focus on investments in infrastructure in Africa to support sustainable economic growth in the region while delivering an attractive return to its investors
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, August 10, 2017/ — A.P. Moller Holding (www.APMoller.com) has together with PKA, PensionDanmark and Lægernes Pension launched a new infrastructure fund with a focus on Africa. The fund has received commitments of USD 550 million from anchor investors.

Access the A.P. Moller Holding – Factsheet here (http://APO.af/qrt5D5).

From left: Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO of PKA; Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner and CEO of A.P. Moller Capital; Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO of PensionDanmark; Chresten Dengsøe, CEO of Lægernes Pension, Robert Mærsk Uggla, CEO of A.P. Moller Holding

From left: Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO of PKA; Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner and CEO of A.P. Moller Capital; Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO of PensionDanmark; Chresten Dengsøe, CEO of Lægernes Pension, Robert Mærsk Uggla, CEO of A.P. Moller Holding

The new fund will focus on investments in infrastructure in Africa to support sustainable economic growth in the region while delivering an attractive return to its investors.

The fund will be managed by A.P. Moller Capital, which is an affiliate of A.P. Moller Holding, and consists of a team lead by four partners, Kim Fejfer, Lars Reno Jakobsen, Jens Thomassen and Joe Nicklaus Nielsen. The partners all have extensive industrial and investment experience combined with a substantial network in Africa.

“We are very pleased with the significant support from the Danish pension funds and A.P. Moller Holding. Together, we will build and operate infrastructure business in Africa to support sustainable development and improvements in living standards across the continent. We will combine the best from industry in terms of project management and operational capabilities with the best from private equity in terms of agility and focus,” says Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner and CEO of A.P. Moller Capital.

“A.P. Moller Holding was established to build value creating businesses that have a positive impact on society. Africa, with a working-age population likely to reach more than one billion people in the next decades, has a pressing requirement for more investments in infrastructure. In this respect, we are delighted to have established a new promising company in our portfolio with a strong team, who hold the right capabilities and experience to manage infrastructure investments in emerging markets,” says Robert Mærsk Uggla, CEO of A.P. Moller Holding.

The fund has a duration of 10 years and has an initial target of 10 to 15 investments in total.

Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO at PKA: “PKA has for many years invested in infrastructure both in Denmark and abroad. We have positive experiences investing in Africa and we have for a long time wanted to invest more on the continent. With this new fund we will be making infrastructure investments in Africa and get the opportunity to provide a good return to the pension savers and at the same time make a positive difference in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.

Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner and CEO of A.P. Moller Capital

Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner, AP Møller Fonden

Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO PensionDanmark: “We are delighted to be among the seed investors in Africa Infrastructure Fund I. We see this as a unique opportunity to invest in a region with high economic growth and attractive investment opportunities alongside a partner, A. P. Moller Capital, that has extensive investment experience combined with a strong network and a promising pipeline of potential investment projects. The fund is a good example of how private capital can be mobilized on large scale to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”.

Chresten Dengsøe, CEO at Lægernes Pension: “Lægernes Pension are delighted to invest in the development of sustainable infrastructure in Africa together with similar-minded Danish pension funds. The team has many years of experience and a proven track record in the region and we expect them to provide attractive investment opportunities going forward”.

Following first commitments, the fund will be open for additional institutional investors for the next 12 months. The ambition is to raise USD 1bn in commitments.

 

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AFRICA’S SKYROCKETING UNEMPLOYMENT: WHO IS TO BLAME, THE UNIVERSITIES OR THE STATES?
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Moses Hategeka

 A few years back, I wrote an article titled, “Universities/Varsity Curricula Must be Practical” that was published in, The Herald, Zimbabwe’s most popular and biggest Newspaper, and was as well republished in various other Newspapers and Magazines in other African countries.

In that article, I argued that, theory based and powered curricula as administered in most African universities, cannot spur a critical mass of skilled graduates needed to transform African economies and called, for its total overhaul.

In the same article, I called upon, African governments to step up funding to their universities and compel them to overhaul cramming based learning and adopt research powered learning.

Research powered learning especially in the experimental sciences curricula, makes students, to gain knowledge of producing inventions, innovations, and ground breaking technologies, which if backed by supportive conducive governments’ policies, can be a catalyst, in spurring industrial and entrepreneurial development in African countries. It also enables the students from social sciences and humanities field, to gain interdisciplinary knowledge, that in turn makes them, critical thinkers, capable of objectively analyzing public policies and other issues at hand, and provide remedies where inadequacies exists.

Africa’s skyrocketing unemployment problem, especially youth unemployment that is affecting millions of youth on the continent, is a manifestation, of the failure of governments and universities, to harmonize their visions, into one complimentary vision of finding solutions to the challenges facing the continent.

Universities are supposed to be the center of knowledge production and dissemination where learners are equipped with relevant knowledge and skills that makes them capable of solving societal problems and meeting societal needs. Are African universities serving this purpose fully?

Moses Hategeka

Moses Hategeka

Globally, research is a chief driver of new knowledge and innovation crucial for spurring sustainable industrial and entrepreneurial development, but how much of the research have African universities done or are doing that have translated or are translating into industrial commercial usable products? Why is it that, African industries are majorly powered by imported technologies despite the fact that we have engineering and technology faculties at our universities?

In the medical field, why is that all the health complications that requires specialized surgeries are mainly done outside Africa with those unable to afford it dying miserably despite us having medical schools/faculties at our universities? Still in medical sector, why is that the few molecular biologists in our countries are unable to use computerized technologies to read and analyze the genomes of viruses and only do so after being subjected to re-training by experts trained from abroad?

African governments are supposed to apportion a good percentage of their national budgets for research development, if research, is to result into implementable policies and industrial usable products. But wait a minute! Looking at countries’ national Budgets, how much money percentage wise does African countries allocate to their institutions for research development?

Governments are also supposed to create robust favorable environment and opportunities for its employable citizens not only at national level, but also at international level, by incorporating in their foreign policies and international relations, the issue of systematically and legally transporting their employable labor to other countries where it is needed through bilateral relations, like what Cuba, Russia, China, and India have done and are doing. What are African countries doing in this regard?

For example, on realizing that, it cannot employ, all its trained Doctors, Cuba, decided to integrate medicine as a fundamental element in its foreign policy and international relations, as thus, eighty percent of Doctors and health professionals in Venezuela, are Cubans, send there by the Cuban government, on bilateral arrangement with Venezuelan government, where by Cuba, supplies medical workers in return for oil and gas supplies from Venezuelan government. Cuba also has hundreds of Doctors working on bilateral arrangement in other Latin American and African countries. Russia, India, and China, who produces, highest number of technology specialists and professionals in life and experimental sciences also does the same.

To the Chinese government, where there is Chinese capital and trade, there should be Chinese labor. Many people keep on wondering, why there is large presence of Chinese engineers, technicians, and traders, especially allover in African countries and other developing nations, forgetting that, transportation of labor to foreign countries, is a cardinal part of Chinese foreign policy and international relations. In fact, all the major infrastructural development projects in Africa, like major road high ways, Dams, buildings and industries construction, have been and are being executed by Chinese supported companies and labor

To overcome, the waves of rural- urban migration tied unemployment, and curb horrible unemployment figures among its science and technology specialists, the Chinese government, developed an economic diversification policy aligned, to urbanization, industrialization, and transformation of rural locations, into production centers, which involved relocating major industries from already congested industrial centers to rural areas, thus expanding industrial base and creating new towns and employment in the process, Wuxi and Nantong for example, owe their transformation from rural to major industrial centers to this policy.

In sum, universities’ curricula must be research derived and interdisciplinary powered, for the graduates to translate the acquired knowledge and skills, into industrial usable products and attaining critical thinking skills, capable of finding solutions to the societal challenges and needs and African governments must ably fund their varsities for this to happen in addition to putting in place, the implementable policies that stimulate entire spectrum

Moses Hategeka is a Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer

Email: moseswiseman2000@gmail.com

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Fitch affirms African Development Bank’s Triple ‘A’ rating with Stable Outlook
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Leading global rating agency Fitch Ratings has affirmed the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘AAA’ with a Stable Outlook and its Short-Term IDR at ‘F1+’ (best quality grade, indicating exceptionally strong capacity to meet its financial commitments).

In a statement released on 4 August, the agency said the ‘AAA’ rating primarily reflects extraordinary support from AfDB’s shareholders which provides a three-notch uplift over the Bank’s intrinsic rating.

“AfDB enjoys strong support from its 80 member states, which include 26 non-African countries with high average ratings. Callable capital subscribed by member states rated ‘AAA’, the largest of which are the US, Germany and Canada, accounts for 21% of the total. This fully covered the Bank’s net debt at end-2016, underpinning the ‘aaa’ assessment of shareholders’ capacity to support,” the statement said.

The report underscores the strong propensity of member states to support the Bank in case of need as illustrated by previous capital increases and the Bank’s important role in the region’s financing.

In the assessment, Fitch maintains that fast growth in AfDB’s lending in the last two years has translated into a rapid increase in its indebtedness, noting that the Bank’s Management has indicated that if there is no clear evidence of a capital increase within the next two years, it will have no choice but to curb lending growth to preserve the Bank’s solvency metrics. The report added that if no capital increase is approved by 2019, debt will not be fully covered by callable capital from ‘AAA’ rated countries, adding that this would place substantial pressure on Fitch’s assessment of extraordinary support and, hence on AfDB’s IDR.

Fitch asserts that the relatively high risk profile of borrowers is mitigated by the preferred creditor status (PCS) that the Bank enjoys on its sovereign exposures.

Fitch assesses AfDB’s liquidity at ‘aaa’, which reflects excellent coverage of short-term debt by liquid assets (2.9x). However, Fitch notes that the share of the portfolio invested in securities or bank placements rated ‘AA-‘ or above (83% in 2016) is declining, although their quality is still assessed at excellent. Fitch understands that management intends to rebalance the treasury assets portfolio in order to increase the proportion of assets rated ‘AA-‘ or above. This would help underpin Fitch’s assessment of the strength of extraordinary support, given the relevance of liquid assets’ quality to the net debt calculation.

“The -1 notch adjustment to AfDB’s solvency stemming from our assessment of its business environment reflects the high risk operating environment in which the bank operates,” the report says, noting that the majority of African countries are classified as low income by the World Bank. The average income per capita and average rating of member states are the lowest of all regional MDBs, and they are subject to an overall high level of political risk.

Commenting on the rating, AfDB Acting Vice-President for Finance, Hassatou Diop N’Sele, said, “We welcome the confirmation of the AfDB’s AAA rating by Fitch, with a stable outlook. The Bank is dedicated to doing the most to make a marked positive difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans, while at the same time preserving its financial integrity. Our High 5agenda is our response to the need to accelerate and scale up Africa’s development to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the continent. The High 5 agenda, reflecting five identified priority areas (namely energy, agriculture, industrialization, integration and human capital development), enjoys strong support from our shareholders. The AfDB will continue to maintain a careful balance between maximizing its development effectiveness and assuring complete preservation of the interests of its stakeholders.”

*AFDB

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One Thousand Young African Leaders Convene in Washington to Collaborate on Leadership and Skill Building
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
Ngale Foretia Henry, a Fellow from Cameroon hopes to put his experience to use in transforming the poultry sector

Ngale Foretia Henry, a Fellow from Cameroon hopes to put his experience to use in transforming the poultry sector

One thousand young African leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., last week for the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit. Representing 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the diverse group of leaders immersed themselves in activities to strengthen their leadership skills and to build connections with each other and U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders logo

Held July 31 – August 2 and hosted by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with support from IREX, the Summit marked the culmination of the Fellows’ six-week Academic and Leadership Institutes at colleges and universities across the United States. Fellows now return home to apply the skills they have gained and utilize the networks they have created to enhance peace and security, spur economic growth, and strengthen democratic institutions to the benefit of Africa and the United States.

 

 

Mandela Washington Fellow Peo Pinkie Sebotho from Botswanacommented on collaborating with other Fellows. “We were excited to share our experiences and our dreams for Africa. I made friends, I made business partners. We were planning what we would do together in the future.”

Participants at the Institute for Regional & International Studies at UW Madison

Participants at the Institute for Regional & International Studies at UW Madison

Mark Taplin, then Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said: “I don’t think of this as just a Mandela Washington Fellows Summit. This may be the biggest gathering all year here in D.C. of the up-and-coming, the leading and creating, the dreaming and doing, the sharing and caring. You are the future in business and entrepreneurship, in civil society and governance of the world’s most up-and-coming continent.”

Wade Warren, then Acting Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, also addressed the Fellows, calling on them to use the full power of the networks the Fellowship has helped them forge, and to think of challenges as opportunities.

Participants from Togo

Participants from Togo

Wednesday highlighted U.S. and African perspectives on leadership with remarks from Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation; Dr. Helene Gayle, CEO of McKinsey Social Initiative; Norman Moyo, Author and CEO of New Enterprise Business DPA & CUMII at ECONET; and General (Retired) Richard Myers, President of Kansas State University and 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://youtu.be/YHl_wNJ0KDE

“I’ve studied why leaders are successful and I’ve seen a common thread: legacy. So as young leaders, you must think legacy. You must think long-term. The age you’re creating is the age of empowerment,” Elumelu declared.

In his address, General Myers emphasized courage and risk-taking. “If you’re trying to make a difference, you have to persevere. It takes more than a heroic leader to make a difference, it takes all of us,” urged Myers.

Wednesday also featured a Congressional forum on investing in the next generation of Africa with U.S. Senator from Delaware Chris Coons discussing advocacy, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, human rights, and U.S.-Africa relations.

IREX President and CEO Kristin M. Lord notes: “The Mandela Washington Fellowship creates a network of leaders advancing peace, prosperity, and more effective governance. That benefits not only people on the African continent, but forges people-to-people and government-to-government relationships that benefit both the United States and Africa.”

*Source IREX/PR Newswire.Contact Alex Cole, Director of Strategic Communications, IREX
acole@irex.org
202-628-8188

 

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World Cup 2026: Morocco confirms it will bid to host tournament
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010

South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010

The Moroccan Football Federation has announced it will bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

The deadline for countries to express their intention to bid to host the tournament is Friday, at which point Fifa will confirm the bidders.

The United States, Canada and Mexico announced in April that they intend to put forward a joint bid.

The World Cup has only been hosted once in Africa – in South Africa in 2010 – and this will be Morocco’s fifth bid.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) gave its backing to a Moroccan bid in July.

A total of 48 teams, rather than the current 32, will compete at an expanded tournament in 2026 after changes announced by Fifa earlier this year.

The decision on who will host event will be made in 2020.

Fifa’s rotational hosting policy means Africa is one of four confederations that can bid to host the 2026 finals as Europe (Russia 2018) and Asia (Qatar 2022) cannot be considered.

*BBC

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Has France Found an African Solution to an African Problem?
August 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

The days of the French colonial empire may be long gone, but Paris’ involvement in the unstable region of the Sahel is not. French forces have been offering support for countries in the region — notably Group of 5 (G5) members Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Niger and Mauritania — for years. But as French concerns about the overmilitarization of the Sahel have grown, Paris seeks to find another solution in the form of the G5 Sahel Force. Made up of African troops from the G5 states, this counterterrorism and counter-trafficking entity may eventually play a critical role in stabilizing the Sahel region.

As recently as Aug. 2, French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly visited the Sahel states of Chad, Niger and Mali to engage with soldiers and speak with leaders. The subtext for Parly’s trip was a desire to reaffirm French support for the Sahel Force. France and its allies are hoping that the entity will one day offer regional security using local forces, enabling Paris and other Western nations to lessen their involvement in the Sahel.

The Long Struggle

Africa’s Sahel region is most commonly associated with a handful of countries stretching across the sub-Saharan portion of the continent, including the G5. These nations are prone to several forms of state weakness, including a lack of resources and investment, poverty, corrupt and ineffectual armed forces and an inability to assert control over vast territories. Thus, the region has historically been a hotbed for terrorism, political instability and the trafficking of arms, drugs and humans. As a result, Western nations — particularly France, a former Sahel colonizer — have often stepped in to help stabilize the area. The French military, for example, has been conducting counterterrorism operations there under the auspices of Operation Barkhane since 2013, when Paris intervened to prevent Mali’s collapse amid an assault from Tuareg and Islamic militant forces.

France has been fairly successful as the region’s security guarantor, pulling its diplomatic and security weight to aid Mali and shore up other relatively weak regional allies such as Niger. But recently, Paris has sought to lessen its defense burden in the Sahel by increasingly offloading onto African and European allies. (The U.S., for its part, is already involved in the region, engaging in special operations, drone operations and logistical support.) All European states are ultimately threatened by the problems of the Sahel, given that its relative proximity to the Mediterranean Sea provides a thin barrier for transnational issues. It is therefore understandable that France would expect these nations — especially Germany — to increase their contributions.

One key component of this redistribution of resources has been the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM), designed to advise and train the Malian military. As noted, Mali has been at the epicenter of the region’s terrorism problem, and since 2013, the EUTM has been critical in building up the Malian armed forces following a coup and decades of corruption. Training missions such as the EUTM have been particularly useful in encouraging involvement from European countries — including Germany — that are more reticent about exercising hard power overseas.

The EUTM mission and Operation Barkhane are successes in many respects. But the overall picture of Sahel security in the coming years is one that will heavily feature French forces, simply because of the limited capacity of regional governments and militaries. From Mauritania to Niger, countries on the continent continue to struggle with border security: On July 12, the Mauritanian minister of defense declared the country’s border with Algeria closed and its immediate area a military zone, with the Mauritanian armed forces considering all individuals in the zone to be legitimate targets. The decision was no doubt the result of increased drug trafficking and terrorist group operations in the area.

And the degradation of the security environment in recent months and years is not exclusive to Mauritania’s remote north. Other zones, such as the tri-border region between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, have seen increases in terrorist activity: militants have attacked wayward government outposts to steal provisions, wreak havoc on locals and sometimes kidnap the few Westerners left in the vast space. Thus, the local authorities of formerly stable zones are now under additional pressure to address the metastasizing threat.
An African Solution

The reality is that France cannot significantly reduce its security burdens in the Sahel right now. The former colonial power has instead been attempting to broaden the scope of its strategy. French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed concern about France’s strategy in the region becoming overly militarized in recent years, to the detriment of longer-term state building. Since May 2017, Macron’s administration has accelerated efforts to get the G5 Sahel Force up and running. Designed to tackle the more transnational nature of terrorism and crime, the standing force has been touted as “An African solution for African problems” (a term no doubt used to drum up international support). But as with everything in the instability-plagued region, the launch of the G5 Sahel Force has been marked by almost equal parts success and setbacks.

There are countless examples of African forces struggling to make progress without being totally dependent on the financial and logistical support of the United Nations, the European Union and other global powers. For instance, the standby forces of the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States both faced serious difficulties in their efforts to become productive and autonomous. The G5 Sahel Force is almost certainly headed in the same direction.

On June 5, the European Union committed $56 million to the force following a visit to Mali by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. France has also ponied up, reportedly providing an initial $9 million along with 70 tactical vehicles, in addition to $228 million in regional development aid over the next five years. As Macron put it, France’s real contribution will be “advice, material and combat.” Moreover, Berlin is expected to host an international donors conference in September to partially fund the G5 Sahel Force.

In spite of these initial and prospective gains, the financial viability of the force is still in question. Reportedly, each G5 Sahel member state will contribute $10 million each, bringing in another $50 million. But Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita recently noted that current levels of funding were nowhere near the estimated $500 million annual budget that he sees as necessary to fund the 5,000-member force.

A “two steps forward, one step back” dynamic was further on display at the United Nations on June 21, when the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution that backed the Sahel Force. U.S. objections to additional U.N. spending obligations forced France to water down the resolution’s text. (The Trump administration has sought to cut its international commitments, including in the realm of peacekeeping.) The version of the resolution that ultimately passed states only that the U.N. Security Council “welcomes the deployment” of the force; it does not commit the international organization to any funding.

Putting the Sahel Force Into Action

Nevertheless, Macron is pushing hard to have the G5 Sahel Force up and running by October, so that it can “prove itself” on the ground. Some facts about the entity have already been revealed: For example, it will be headquartered in Sevare in northern Mali and will reportedly focus on three critical border regions: the West Zone (Mali-Mauritania), the Center Zone (Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger), and the East Zone (Niger-Chad). This follows the emphasis on cross-border security challenges implemented by the Multinational Joint Task Force, which was designed to address the threat posed by the Boko Haram insurgency. And in a broader sense, the regional focus continues a trend of Sahel states pooling their resources. In one such recent instance, Mali, Chad and Niger signed an agreement in May allowing the three countries to expedite potential terrorist or criminal suspects, exchange judicial records and obtain information about travelers.

However, the exact number and composition of the Sahel Force remain uncertain. It will reportedly be composed of battalions of 750 soldiers from each country, although this would tally up to a 3,750-member force, well short of the oft-cited 5,000-member figure. Moreover, it has been stated that these soldiers will operate under their own respective flags rather than being part of a supranational group. This could prove problematic if political leaders become unwilling to spread various burdens across the broader force. Chadian President Idriss Deby recently complained that his country’s armed forces — a key French ally and the region’s most capable military — are “overstretched” in their struggle to combat terrorism. The G5 request for more troop contributions comes amid Chad’s continued financial difficulties in the wake of falling crude oil exports prices. Deby is likely hoping to drum up more financial support from Western allies, namely France.

Overall, it remains to be seen how much interoperability can truly be achieved by the five nation, seven battalion Sahel Force — and how heavily the entity will rely on France. There have been joint African military operations in the past, such as Mali and Burkina Faso’s Operation Panga, which focused on rooting out militants in the Fhero Forest. But while that operation was hailed as a success because militants were killed and captured, materiel was seized and intelligence was gained, it relied heavily on the French military as its backbone. France’s Operation Barkhane furnished soldiers, tactical vehicles, fighter jets and drones.

One thing is clear: Along with limited help from other international actors, the French military is instrumental in holding the Sahel region together. Getting the G5 Sahel Force up and running is a big step forward in finding regional solutions for regional problems. But even in the best case scenario, France is still many years away from being able to significantly reduce its security burden in the Sahel.

*Culled from Stratfor Worldview

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Zimbabwe’s bond notes being smuggled to neighbouring SADC countries
August 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Dr Caleb Fundanga

Dr Caleb Fundanga

Zimbabwe’s bond notes are being smuggled to neighbouring
countries like Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa, where informaltraders are reported to be accepting them, despite their official need for domestic use, according to Dr Caleb Fundanga, ExecutiveDirector of theMacro-economic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI) whose regional office is in Harare.

Fundanga, who was key note speaker at the Zimbabwe quoted
companies 2017 awards held in Harare, said that the pegging of the
Zimbabwe current bonds notes at par with the United States (US$)
dollar has generated strong demand for the currency even out of the
country’s borders.

The situation has generated speculative tendencies with a parallel
market trading in currencies emerging unlike in the past 2008-09
period where the local bond faced rejection even beyond the country’s borders. Fundanga said that bond notes are trading at a discount of 15 to 20% per US$100.He also added that the central bank in Zimbabwe has up to now not reached the $200 million bond equivalent threshold which it had announced that it had bargained for creating severe shortages in the financial market.

Fundanga said that it is critical to note that the economy of
Zimbabwe has undergone various phases since independence in 1980.The phases include the hyper-inflationary period of 2000 to 2008, multi-currency system adopted in February 2009 and most recently, the era of bond notes.

“In each of the economic phases that the Zimbabwean economy has gone though, new opportunities have emerged and new challenges have been faced which require new solutions. In each phase, economic agents are affected in different ways and also devise different measures, good and bad, to cope with the situation at hand. Both positive and negative outcomes have emerged,” Fundanga said.

He said since the coming of the bond notes, the Zimbabwe economy has been facing new challenges, requiring new solutions.Fundanga said bond notes in circulation are limited and the US dollars have become scarce, resulting in stringent daily bankwithdrawal limits.

Currency deposits have also dwindled and the use of plastic money has increased significantly. He says that some amount of cash is still required for transacting in the informal sector where plastic money devises are not available.

“Traders are finding it hard to get customers due to cash shortages.
Long bank queues are now the order of the day, once again. Domestic demand for commodities has declined significantly, as a result.

Production is also going down, in tandem,” Fundanga said.
It is also reported that in the advent of bond notes, a new
three-tier market pricing system has emerged in the country.

Retailers are reported to be now giving discounts to purchases using US dollars in cash and no discounts for swiping using a bank debit card or bond notes.

The three-tier pricing system is reported to have resulted in an
increase in average market prices.

“At the same time, however, it is a boon for those who have large sumsof US dollar cash as they are able to reap the 15 to 20% premiums in selling US dollars. While it is lucrative business, it discourages productive sectors or long term projects where gains take time to berealised,” Fundanga added.

He adds that the current era of bond notes presents more serious
policy challenges. He says that to a large extent, the current cash
shortages reflect the deep seated structural challenges in the real
economy, which policy makers are seized with.

Fundanga adds that from a policy perspective, it is critical that
the policy agenda promulgated in the key policy blue prints, which
include the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic
Transformation (ZIMASSET) running from 2013 to 2018 is implemented in full.

He says that the economic environment in which ZIMASSET was based on has changed. He adds that for example, the bond notes that are currently in use were not envisaged.

Fundanga says that given the fast changing economic environment, it is critical and timely that the government of Zimbabwe makes a clear and final decision on how to proceed regarding the currency options.He says deeper dialogue on currency options has to be opened.

“Government needs to make a bold decision by pronouncing the optimal policy choice given the alternative options that have come out of dialogue so far. The optimal choice should be to hault the prevailing currency crisis. Closer engagement with the Zimbabwe diaspora community is also advisable given the critical nature of this group regarding investments and remittances,” he said.

Fundanga said that much talk has centred on Zimbabwe adopting the rand currency, but for the currency option to be agreed on, there
should be national consensus by all key stakeholders as to how to move forward.

“It is however, important to emphasise that if the currency option
chosen is to succeed, it should be accompanied by strong fiscal
discipline,” he said.

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Zimbabwe concerned over stagnation in South African tourist arrivals
August 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has reported that it is
concerned over the stagnation of tourist arrivals from South Africa,
which is one of the country’s major markets.

In its 2017 first quarter tourism performance highlights which
profiles 2017 tourist arrivals into the country, ZTA says that
arrivals from mainland Africa registered 400 290 foreign tourist
arrivals up from 380 790 in 2016 representing a 5% increase.

“The region continues to command the bulk of arrivals 84% into
Zimbabwe. The stagnation of in arrivals from South Africa, the
country’s major market is of major concern as the market is Zimbabwe’s
major market,” ZTA says in its report.
The country’s leading tourism organization says that the situation
calls for serious consideration in addressing facilitation issues
especially at Beitbridge border post. ZTA also says that there is also
need to seriously look at upgrading roads especially the
Harare-Beitbridge highway.

According to ZTA, Zimbabwe received 479 718 tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2017. The figure is reported to be 6% up from 450 572 during the same period in 2016. The increase is reported to be mostly driven by the 5% rise in arrivals from mainland Africa along with all other major markets save Asia.

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Rihanna is giving bikes to girls in Malawi to help their education
August 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

Rihanna is giving bikes to girls in Malawi to help them get an education.

It’s part of a new partnership between the singer’s Clara Lionel Foundation and Chinese bike-sharing company Ofo.

The campaign called 1 Km Action will fund scholarships to help hundreds of girls attend secondary schools in Malawi.

Those who qualify for a scholarship will receive bikes to make sure they get to school.

According to the foundation, there are approximately 4.6 million students across Malawi but only 8% of students complete secondary school.

One of the reasons for this is because of the poor transport links.

“I’m so happy about the Clara Lionel Foundation’s new partnership with Ofo because it will help so many young people around the world receive a quality education,” Rihanna said.

“And also help the young girls of Malawi get to school safely, cutting down those very long walks they make to and from school all alone.”

Rihanna has a reputation for being a humanitarian.

Through her foundation, which is named after her grandparents, she has focused on providing children with access to education in over 60 developing countries, giving priority to girls.

Her efforts helped win her Harvard University’s Humanitarian of the Year award.

 

*BBC

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CONSTITUENCY FOR AFRICA ANNOUNCES COLLABORATION WITH THE AFRICAN UNION AND THE ELLIOTT SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS FOR THE 2017 RONALD H. BROWN AFRICAN AFFAIRS SERIES
August 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
CFA President Melvin Foote  with Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao, the  African Union Ambassador to the United States.

CFA President Melvin Foote with Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao, the African Union Ambassador to the United States.

WASHINGTON, DC (August 3, 2017) – The Constituency for Africa (CFA) announces its collaboration with the African Union (AU) and the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University for the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series. This year’s Series will be held from September 18th through September 23rd in Washington, DC.

“I am excited about CFA’s partnership with the African Union and George Washington University,” stated Mr. Melvin P. Foote, CFA’s Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer. “We have worked closely with both institutions in previous years, and our collaboration this year affords CFA the opportunity to more closely align our efforts with the AU and George Washington University to engage the Diaspora on meaningful policy issues that affect the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans and Africans in the Diaspora.”

The theme of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown Series is “Mobilizing the Diaspora in Support of the U.S.-Africa Agenda.” The purpose of the Series will be to bring together stakeholders from the U.S., Africa, and throughout the Diaspora to assess the U.S. Administration’s Africa policy, and to identify challenges and opportunities. Participants in the Ronald H. Brown Series will discuss critical issues in a number of key areas, including Healthcare Infrastructure, Democracy & Governance, Trade & Investment, Next Generation Leadership, Agriculture, and Diaspora Engagement. Based on these discussions, CFA and its partners will produce a Diaspora strategy to include policy recommendations for the U.S. Administration and the AU.

Over the first three days of the Ronald H. Brown Series, CFA will convene several policy roundtables at the AU Mission in Washington, DC. “The AU looks forward to hosting CFA and its participants. Over the years, we have followed CFA’s work closely, and believe that CFA is having tremendous impact on U.S.-Africa policy. Additionally – and just as important – CFA’s work to educate and mobilize the African Diaspora is consistent with one of our key activities at the AU Mission. The AU is fully aware that sustainable development in Africa must involve the African Diaspora,” said H.E. Arikana Chihombori, the AU’s Permanent Representative to the U.S.

After the conclusion of the policy roundtables, CFA will convene a U.S.-Africa Policy Forum hosted by the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. In 2016, this Policy Forum was Co-Chaired by the Honorable Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia; and His Excellency Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia.  “Last year’s U.S.-Africa Policy Forum was a tremendous success,” said Ambassador Reuben E. Brigety, Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA), who hosted and moderated the Forum. “Based on our experience last year, ESIA expects the upcoming U.S.-Africa Policy Forum to provide a platform for a robust and productive policy discussion. I look forward to an exchange of ideas, and the development of substantive policy recommendations for the U.S. Government and the African Union.” ESIA will also host the CFA Chairman’s Reception on the evening of Wednesday, September 20th.

For more information on this year’s Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series and to register for events, please visit www.ronaldbrownseries.org.

For over 26 years, CFA has established itself as one of the leading, non-partisan organizations focused on educating and mobilizing the American public and the African Diaspora in the U.S. on U.S.-Africa policy.  As a result, CFA has helped to increase the level of cooperation and coordination among a broad-based coalition of individuals and organizations committed to the progress, development, and empowerment of Africa and African people worldwide.

The African Union Representational Mission to the U.S. is the first bilateral diplomatic mission of the African Union. Officially launched on July 11, 2007 in Washington, DC, its mandate is to undertake, develop, and maintain constructive and productive institutional relationships between the African Union and the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. Government, the African Diplomatic Corps, the Africans in the Diaspora, and the Bretton Woods Institutions.

 

About the Elliott School of International Affairs

The George Washington University has educated generations of international leaders and advanced the understanding of important global issues since 1821. The Elliott School of International Affairs, named in honor of former GW President Lloyd H. Elliott and his wife Evelyn, is dedicated to this mission. ESIA trains its students in the theory and practice of international affairs, offering them in-depth analysis of international economic, political, scientific and cultural issues. The School’s widely respected faculty prepares Elliott School students for global careers in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

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Why Madonna’s Children’s Hospital in Malawi Is a Complete Game Changer
August 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

Madonna’s relationship with Malawi began when she adopted her son David Banda from the country in 2006 and daughter Mercy James in 2009. She also adopted twins Esther and Stella earlier this year. But Madonna wasn’t content merely growing her family; she wanted to give back to Malawi in a bigger way — hence, the Mercy James Centre, named after her 11-year-old daughter. Getting here, however, was a very bumpy road.

The 45-bed facility, centrally located in the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) compound, is dedicated to children’s surgery and includes the country’s first pediatric intensive care unit. Mercy herself spoke at the opening ceremony on July 12, thanking her mother and all of the partners involved in the construction of the hospital. Malawi President Peter Mutharika also took the podium and officially adopted Madonna as the “daughter of Malawi” in appreciation of her “motherly heart.”

Malawi’s infant mortality rate is incredibly high (44.80 per 1,000 births, versus 5.8 per 1,000 in the United States) due to a lack of sophisticated equipment and medicine, not to mention the long distances families must travel to receive care. According to Madonna’s charity, Raising Malawi, the new facility will help the QECH double the number of surgeries performed on children each year, as well as provide preoperative and postoperative care. It is, in the words of pediatric surgeon Dr. Eric Borgstein, “a game changer for Malawi.”

Since its opening less than three weeks ago, the MJC has already treated 313 patients, and a remarkable 73 children have undergone successful operations, according to hospital director Venancio Kapalamula. He also reports that patients are traveling to the new facility from all over the country, and of the more than 300 treated, 238 were admitted into the hospital and 75 were treated as outpatients.

The pediatric hospital is even more remarkable when you consider Madonna’s previous charity projects in Malawi, which have been blighted with controversies, including a very public row with former President Joyce Banda and court battles with previous employees.

An Obstacle Course to Adoption

Madonna’s Malawi obstacles started with the adoptions of David and Mercy, which were challenging due to Malawi’s archaic adoption laws that date back to the pre-independence colonial period in 1949. In the case of David, the law in Malawi did not allow someone who was not living in Malawi to adopt a child, and Madonna had to appeal the case before the adoption was granted.

The second adoption, too, faced legal huddles. At the time Madonna applied to adopt Mercy James, she had just divorced from Guy Ritchie. The court in Malawi turned her down on grounds that she was a divorcee and therefore unfit to raise a family as a single parent. Again, she had to appeal the case before she was granted adoption.

The adoption of the twins has been a smoother affair because of the remarkable growth of David and Mercy. This, coupled with the successful completion of the MJC hospital, has renewed confidence that Madonna only means well for the children and the country. Meanwhile, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has asked government to expedite amendments to the adoption law in order to protect children.

Raising Malawi’s Bumpy Road

Madonna’s first project in Malawi was the Raising Malawi Academy For Girls, a $15 million school outside of Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe, that planned to enroll 500 girls annually. However, in 2011, one year after laying the foundation stone, Madonna abandoned the project and let all of her employees go — including CEO Anjimile Oponyo-Mtila, the sister of Malawi’s former President Joyce Banda.

The controversy began when the New York Times reported that Raising Malawi Inc. had spent $3.8 million on the project — with very little to show for it.

This revelation did not go down well with the ex-employees, who alleged in Malawi’s The Nationnewspaper that the $3.8 million figure was wildly inaccurate. The ex-employees claimed only $654,630 had been transferred to the project, not $3.8 million, and that the sum had mostly been spent on two events involving Madonna during her visits.

That same year, seven ex-employees filed a court case demanding compensation from Raising Malawi. Court documents obtained at the labor court in Blantyre indicate that Raising Malawi settled, paying out a total of $129,533 in compensation to the six ex-employees in 2011. However, Joyce Banda’s sister, Oponyo, refused to accept the $88,515 she was offered, instead demanding $395,223 in compensation. As of April of last year, the court case was still on, but we do not know the outcome of the case or whether or not it has been settled. Raising Malawi did not respond to our requests for comment on the matter.

A National Controversy

In 2013, Madonna announced that she was shifting her focus from the girls’ academy to building primary schools across Malawi. She partnered with an organization called BuildOn, which adds classrooms to existing schools that have large student populations and not enough space; in rural Malawi, students are often forced to hold class outside. Admirably, Raising Malawi partnered with BuildOn to fund the construction of 10 new classrooms, but when Madonna claimed that she had “built 10 new schools,” it ignited a public row with then-president Banda.

Joyce Banda released an extraordinary statement to the press, accusing Madonna of lacking the decency to tell the truth: “This is an insult to the people of Malawi. She can’t be lying to the world at our expense . . . . For her to tell the whole world that she is building schools in Malawi when she has actually only contributed to the construction of classrooms is not compatible with manners of someone who thinks she deserves to be revered with state grandeur.”

“This is an insult to the people of Malawi. She can’t be lying to the world at our expense.”

The withering statement from Banda’s office also condemned Madonna for trying to use her celebrity to get special treatment. “Granted, Madonna is a famed international musician, but that does not impose an injunction of obligation on any government under whose territory Madonna finds herself, including Malawi, to give her state treatment.”

Adding an unorthodox turn of phrase, the statement said Malawi had played host to other international stars, including Chuck Norris and Bono, “who have never demanded state attention or decorum despite their equally dazzling stature.” In an absurd final blow, the government even denied Madonna use of the VIP lounge at the airport as she was leaving the country. (It should be noted that, in an unrelated story, the Malawi government this week issued a warrant for Banda’s arrest in relation to allegations of corruption.)

Celebrity and Charity in Harmony

But with the hospital project, Madonna has finally found her cause — and acceptance in Malawi. At the opening ceremony, Madonna thanked the partners who helped the hospital project happen. “What started out as a dream for Malawi and her children has become a reality, and we couldn’t have done it without your support,” she said in a press release. Madonna’s team did not respond to requests for comment regarding the actual cost of the hospital, saying only that Raising Malawi provided the bulk of the funding to build and equip the hospital. The MJC will continue to operate the facility in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.

In Malawi, the Mercy James Center’s impact could be far-reaching. Just a month ago, the nation woke up to the sad news that two mothers had given birth to two stillborn babies because there were no anesthetists to attend to them seven hours after their scheduled Caesarean operations at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. In the aftermath, QECH Chief Hospital Administrator Charles Mhango told the nation that the hospital has an acute shortage of anesthetists; the hospital has 20 operating theaters but only eight anesthetists to attend to patients.

A shortage of medical personnel is just a small portion of the mammoth challenges besetting the QECH. Chronic shortages of medicine, congestion in the wards, rising cases of gross negligence, and a lack of sophisticated equipment for diagnosis and treatment all cast a shadow of gloom over the patients at QECH. But with the opening of the Mercy James hospital, there are now three extra theater rooms to perform life-saving sophisticated surgeries.

Not only that, but the MJC has a classroom to teach more doctors the science of surgery. Alongside Raising Malawi, QECH surgeon Dr. Borgstein developed a training program for doctors, which recently produced the first Malawi-born pediatric surgeon. To further improve the quality of service at the center, 20 nurses received specialized training from experts flown in from South Africa, which is aimed to reduce the cases of negligence, according to Raising Malawi’s Facebook posts.

In a recent interview, former Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume urged Madonna to do more, noting that there are still gaps in the health system that require urgent attention. “Currently the Ministry of Health has 247 patients on the waiting list that require specialized treatment abroad,” he said. “Out of these, 76 are children, and 68 of these children are suffering from heart-related diseases. These children should not be on the waiting list. The MJC should start offering cardiac operations for these children. I appeal to you to open cardiac surgery as well at the MJC.”

The Mercy James Center is more than just a clinic for medical treatment. It is also a place where the healing process is accompanied by fun and where children can come to be inspired. The reception area features a mural of a giant tree giving shelter to birds, while the walls of the wards feature paintings of renowned statesmen, such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. In Mercy James’s words, the center is a place for healing and fun, and the art sends a strong message to the patients that tough times will not remain forever.

* Source POPSUGAR ,Photography / Kandani Ngwira

 

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