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“Lights, Power, Action”: AfDB’s Adesina and Kofi Annan Urge Governments to Close Africa’s Energy Deficit
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Chair of the Africa Progress Panel and former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, have called on African governments and their partners to do everything possible to close the continent’s huge energy gap.

They made the call on Monday, March 13, 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, at the launch of the Africa Progress Panel Report on “Lights, Power, Action: Electrifying Africa,” which calls for the adoption of every available on-grid and off-grid solution to light up and power Africa.

“The electricity deficit in Africa is immense,” said Adesina. “Today, 645 million people do not have access to electricity.

“Yet the continent has abundant supply of solar, hydropower, wind and geothermal potential, as well as significant amounts of natural gas and in some countries coal deposits. Africa has energy potential, yes, but we need to unlock that potential. And we must do so quickly, because Africans are tired of being in the dark.”

Adesina stated that he drew inspiration from the Panel’s previous report in developing the Bank’s High 5 development priorities, which places energy as the top priority, and which has, through the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa, committed to investing US $12 billion on energy in the next five years and leveraging US $45-50 billion from the private sector and other partners. The goal is to connect 130 million households via the grid, 75 million people via off-grid and provide some 130 million households with access to clean cooking energy.

The AfDB President commended the Africa Progress Panel for another very insightful report which, he said, will help Africa think through how to achieve the off-grid electricity revolution, as part of the comprehensive New Deal on Energy for Africa.

Lights, Power, Action notes that more than 620 million Africans without access to electricity cannot wait for grid expansion. While grid-connected megaprojects such as large dams and power pools are essential to scale up national and regional energy generation and transmission, they are slow and expensive. Therefore, governments must also increase investment in off-grid and mini-grid solutions, which are cheaper and quicker to install, the report says.

 “What we are advocating is for African governments to harness every available option, in as cost-effective and technologically efficient a manner as possible, so that everyone is included and no one is left behind,” said Kofi Annan.

Of the 315 million people who will gain access to electricity in Africa’s rural areas by 2040, it is estimated that only 30 per cent will be connected to national grids. Most will be powered by off-grid household or mini-grid systems.

“Lights, Power, Action” is an in-depth follow up to the influential 2015 Africa Progress Report, “Power, People, Planet: Seizing Africa’s Energy and Climate Opportunities“. It urges governments to put in place the incentives needed to encourage greater investment in off-grid and mini-grid systems, protect consumers, and facilitate demand among disadvantaged groups.

Above all, governments need to foster an environment in which companies can enter energy generation, transmission and distribution markets, climb the value chain, and build the investment partnerships that can drive growth and create jobs.

“Traditional approaches to extending the grid are no longer viable as the main option for African countries,” Annan said. “They will take too long and will not meet the needs of our growing economies and societies. Instead, governments and their partners need to seize the opportunity to re-imagine their energy futures.”


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Energy Ministers from South Africa, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Democratic Republic of Congo to address investors at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit
March 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

H.E. Hon.Tina Joemat-Pettersson MP, Minister of Energy, South Africa, H.E. Patrick Sendolo, Minister for Energy, Land and Mines, Liberia, H.E. Hon Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda, H.E. Hon. Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy, Sierra Leone and H.E. Hon Pierre Anatole Matusila, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Democratic Republic of Congo are the latest speakers to confirm attendance at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit, taking place from 9-10 March 2017 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington D.C.

The Ministers will join over 400 investors and over 100 speakers in this investment forum exploring global opportunities within Africa’s energy & infrastructure sectors.

U.S. Representative Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee has also confirmed to address delegates at the 2017 Summit. Chairman Royce worked tirelessly to pass the Electrify Africa Act which was successfully signed into law in early 2016. The bill seeks to address the significant electricity shortage in Africa that affects the everyday lives of millions of people. His participation will provide an insight into the act and how it will continue to maintain competitiveness in Africa whilst increasing global security and social stability.

The Summit will take the form of panel discussions and roundtables focusing on sector-specific topics and addressing how bottlenecks can be overcome to drive forward projects. Maintaining US competitiveness in Africa will be a key theme, setting out how commercial partnerships can deliver energy, create jobs, build capacity and spur industrial growth. 26 countries will be represented at the Summit to date, including 16 African countries. A networking reception will take place on the evening of 9th March, and delegates will have the opportunity to arrange meetings with other attendees using an onsite networking app.


This meeting will be co-located with the Growing Economies: Latin America Energy Forum, focusing on investment opportunities in Latin America’s energy & infrastructure sectors.

For more information about this meeting:

Meeting dates: 9-10 March 2017

Venue: Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C., USA


Contact: Amy Offord – Marketing Manager


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7384 8068

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Africa Wants 10 Slots At the Expanded 2026 World Cup Competition
February 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Fred Obera

African nations want 10 places at the expanded 2026 World Cup competition from the current five representatives. The continent’s football association tabled a request proposal to the world soccer governing body FIFA, The recent expansion of the competition to a 48-team World Cup is an opportunity for less celebrated footballing nations across the continent to participate at the biggest stage.

African nations want 10 places at the expanded 2026 World Cup competition from the current five representatives. The continent’s football association tabled a request proposal to the world soccer governing body FIFA, whose mandate includes organizing and managing soccer worldwide.

The request for 10 slots featured during the meeting between FIFA president Gianni Infantino and more than 50 presidents of African Football Associations in South Africa.

The 2026 World Cup will be the 23rd FIFA World Cup. With 211 national football associations as members, the quadrennial international men’s football championship is contested by the national teams of the member associations of FIFA. The expansion to a 48-team World Cup was unanimously approved in Zurich by the FIFA Council in January 2017, and will come into effect at the 2026 tournament.

Read: Mahrez Crowned BBC african footballer of the year finishes 7th ballon dor standings

“All associations back an expanded World Cup and Africa hopes for 10 places,” South African FA president Danny Jordaan, told a Johannesburg radio station.

The new FIFA World Cup 2026 format will feature 16 first-round groups from which winners and runners-up qualify for the knockout phase.

“It has been a very good idea and a chance for the associations to also speak directly to the Fifa leadership about their issues and concerns,” said Ahmad Ahmad, president of Madagascar Football Federation.

 Ever since the World Cup started, no African country has gone further than the quarter-finals, and the expansion could be a great opportunity for African countries.

Even though the continent successfully hosted the 2010 World Cup, held in South Africa and many African footballers have dominated the European clubs, football development on the continent is still facing numerous challenges.

The story of disappointing performances of the national teams during the World Cup competitions has always been a big concern. The moribund leadership, from the continental mother body, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), to the national administration has been identified as a key problem. Corruption, poor infrastructure and poverty are some of the issues affecting the game in Africa.

All these cross-cutting issues affecting African football need to be addressed urgently to bring trophies to Africa, otherwise teams from the continent could just be making up numbers.

History of FIFA World Cup changes

The FIFA World Cup tournament began in 1930 in Uruguay with 13 teams, with only one entrant each from Asia and Africa. The 2026 tournament will be the first to feature 48 teams. This is the largest expansion in the history in terms of percentage in the World Cup. In 1982, it went from 16 to 24 teams and later it increased to 32.

With this expansion, the less celebrated footballing nations across the continent have an opportunity to participate at the biggest stage.

In 2018, Russia will be the host of the FIFA World Cup and Qatar will host the competition in 2022.


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How Trump’s African Team May Shape Up
February 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

On The Heels Of Phone Call to Leaders Trump Administration Working on African Team

By Ajong Mbapndah L

President Trump has spoken to Nigeria's Buhari and South Africa's Zuma

President Trump has spoken to Nigeria’s Buhari and South Africa’s Zuma

With  little mention of Africa in the course of his campaign, many are still scratching heads on what the African Policy of the Trump Administration will look like. A month into office,clues are few, but sources close to the Administration say  slow but steady progress is been made to put in place its African team.

Administration sources familiar with the buildup of the African team say President elect Trump accepted a congratulatory call from Rwandan President Paul Kagame back in December. Reports about a meeting between Trump and Congo’s Sassou Nguesso in December were discredited when a trip to the USA by the Congolese leader ended without any encounter with President elect Trump.

On February 13, Trump had phone conversations with Nigerian President Buhari and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Though Nigeria and South Africa boast the largest economies in the continent, sources were unclear about the choice of just these two leaders, considering that the US maintains close security ties with other countries like Kenya and Uganda.

Discussions with Zuma were centered on prospects of maintaining and broadening the strongly diplomatic ties between the two countries according to South African government Officials. With about six hundred USA companies operating in South Africa, economic ties obviously came up in the discussion sources from Zuma’s office said.

Although ailing President Buhari was not in Nigeria at the time of the call, a Presidential Spokesperson said, ““President Trump assured the Nigerian president of U.S. willingness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism.”

Prior to the forced resignation of General Michael Flynn as the National Security Adviser,  African policy watchers were perplexed with reports that  the CIA denied a security clearance for Robin Townley, appointed to serve as Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. With the appointment of a new National Security Adviser, it is not yet clear what role will be reserved for Townley one of the officials in Trump world with on the ground experience in Africa where he served in Somalia.

Sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Rex Tillerson is still to put in his own team. Given the length of the vetting process, it is unlikely that most of the positions will be fully staffed before June 2017, said the source close to the Trump Administration.

Appointed by President Obama to serve as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, sources say Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield was as asked to stay on the job until a successor is found. Highly respected within African policy circles, Ambassador Greenfield was actually mandated by the Trump Administration to represent the USA at the official inauguration of Gambian President Adama Barrow on February 18.  The race is on for the replacement of Greenfield who is expected to leave office by March 10 for Georgetown University, where she will serve as a visiting Fellow.

Informed sources cite Dr. J. Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council, Colonel Charles Snyder, former special envoy for Sudan; and Dr. Kate Almquist Knopf of the National Defense University as leading contenders to replace Ambassador Greenfield as the leading US government Official on Africa.

Snyder, who currently teaches at the Institute for World Politics in Washington, is also a possible candidate to replace Amanda Dory as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs.  The post may also be given to Michael Phelan, currently a top legislative aide to Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

As for Almquist Knopf, sources cite her closeness to former Obama Officials like Susan Rice and Samantha Power (National Security Adviser and UN Ambassador respectively) may play to her disfavor.

Atlantic Council, Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham with Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield

Atlantic Council, Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham with Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield

A familiar face on Africa affairs in Washington, DC, Peter Pham has used the platform of the Atlantic Council to host debates and discussions with visiting African dignitaries and personalities.

Others in the mix include former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, Cindy Courville, former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union and former National Security Council and Defense Intelligence Agency official. The merits of the candidates are been considered to facilitate prospects of confirmation said the source who cited open opposition to Trump for some, and Lobbying activities of others as of the tiny details that may come into play.

Those individuals who are being seriously considered for the Assistant Secretary of State position are also in the running for alternative posts, such as on the personal staff of the Secretary of State, in the Policy Planning Bureau, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs (“DAS”), or as special envoys to Sudan/South Sudan or to the Great Lakes Region,the sources say.

At the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the likely nominee for Administrator is former Congressman Mark Green (R-Wisconsin), who recently has been president of the International Republican Institute (IRI) and also served as U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania.

Two candidates have emerged to fill USAID’s position of Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa:  Gregory Simpkins, a longtime staff director for Chairman Christopher Smith of the Africa subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Lester Munson, former staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who previously held several positions at USAID.  Jeffrey Krilla, a former Bush administration State Department official, is likely to replace Amos Hockstein as the Special Envoy in the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, a position that addresses U.S. relationships with oil-producing countries, including those in Africa.

Krilla may also be appointed to a position in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, or USTR, which may also be where business executive and Africa trade expert Anthony Carroll lands.  (Carroll is also been linked for an Ambassadorial post, perhaps South Africa.)

There is also a possibility that former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner, who served in the first term of President George W. Bush, may be brought into the State Department for a high-level position by Secretary Tillerson.

Kansteiner has been in charge of ExxonMobil’s Africa operations and is said to be very close to Tillerson, ExxonMobil’s former chairman and CEO.  Tillerson may tap Kansteiner for something higher than the assistant secretary level, such as Undersecretary or deputy secretary, or as a special envoy

On Capitol Hill, the leadership on the committees that deal with Africa will remain the same: Senator Jeff Flake continues as chairman of the Africa and Global Health Policy subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Congressman Chris Smith will again be chairman of the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The new Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are Dina Titus (D-Nevada), Norma Torres (D-California), Brad Schneider (D-Illinois), Thomas Suozzi (D-New York), Adriano Espaillat (D-New York), Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), Ann Wagner (R-Missouri), Brian Mast (R-Florida), Francis Rooney (R-Florida), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania), and Tom Garrett (R-Virginia).

Freshman Garrett and veteran Sensenbrenner have been assigned to the Africa subcommittee, along with Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Thomas Suozzi (D-New York).  Representatives Ami Bera (D-California) and Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) return to the subcommittee from the 114th Congress.  Representative Ed Royce (R-California) remains chairman of the full committee while Representative Ted Yoho (R-Florida) becomes the committee’s vice chairman.  Representative Karen Bass (D-California) remains ranking member of the House Africa subcommittee.

The new Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are Todd Young (R-Indiana), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon).  Booker becomes the new ranking minority member of the subcommittee on Africa and Global Health and Young and Merkley are newly assigned to the subcommittee, as well.

Ties between the US and Africa have witnessed strong growth under the last two Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama and many are anxious to see in what direction things will go under the Trump Administration.


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Energy Ministers from Uganda, Liberia and Democratic Republic of Congo to address investors at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit
February 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

26 countries will be represented at the Summit to date, including 16 African countries

LONDON, United Kingdom, February 20, 2017/ — H.E. Patrick Sendolo, Minister for Energy, Land and Mines, Liberia, H.E. Hon Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda and H.E. Hon Pierre Anatole Matusila, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Democratic Republic of Congo are the latest speakers to confirm attendance at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit , taking place from 9-10 March 2017 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington D.C.

The Ministers will join over 400 investors and 50 speakers in this investment forum exploring global opportunities within Africa’s energy & infrastructure sectors.

U.S. Representative Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee has also confirmed to address delegates at the 2017 Summit. Chairman Royce worked tirelessly to pass the Electrify Africa Act which was successfully signed into law in early 2016. The bill seeks to address the significant electricity shortage in Africa that affects the everyday lives of millions of people. His participation will provide an insight into the act and how it will continue to maintain competitiveness in Africa whilst increasing global security and social stability.

The Summit will take the form of panel discussions and roundtables focusing on sector-specific topics and addressing how bottlenecks can be overcome to drive forward projects. Maintaining US competitiveness in Africa will be a key theme, setting out how commercial partnerships can deliver energy, create jobs, build capacity and spur industrial growth.

26 countries will be represented at the Summit to date, including 16 African countries. A networking reception will take place on the evening of 9th March, and delegates will have the opportunity to arrange meetings with other attendees using an onsite networking app.

This meeting will be co-located with the Growing Economies: Latin America Energy Forum, focusing on investment opportunities in Latin America’s energy & infrastructure sectors.

For more information about this meeting:
Meeting dates: 9-10 March 2017
Venue: Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C., USA
Contact: Amy Offord – Marketing Manager
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7384 8068

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Research Calls for New Approach to Youth Employment Training Strategies in Africa
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

Youth Livelihood Diaries Shed New Light on Working Lives of African Youth


Sarah Bafumba,(right) ,a Youth Researcher in discussion with Hamidah Nyahzi (left), a respondent in Uganda during the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,The MasterCard Foundation

Sarah Bafumba,(right) ,a Youth Researcher in discussion with Hamidah Nyahzi (left), a respondent in Uganda during the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,The MasterCard Foundation

Kigali, Rwanda, February 17, 2017 Innovative research released today by The MasterCard Foundation is making the case for a new approach to youth employment training strategies in Africa. Invisible Lives: Understanding Youth Livelihoods in Ghana and Uganda, released today at the Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, sheds light on the working lives of African youth. The report, produced in collaboration with Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT), argues that international development programs favour skills training for formal sector careers over training that can be applied to multiple jobs in the informal sector. The result is that their efforts fall short of reaching the millions of unreached youth on the continent who engage in mixed livelihoods.

“To reach a critical mass of young people, fundamental shifts in our approach to skills-building, access to finance and entrepreneurship support are necessary,” says Lindsay Wallace, Director of Learning and Strategy, The MasterCard Foundation. “Development efforts must strengthen social, education and economic systems, and promote inclusive growth that will provide the most vulnerable and marginalized young people with opportunities to improve their lives.”

Invisible Lives set out to explore how young people integrate mixed livelihoods into their working lives, what challenges this approach poses, and how best to design interventions for young people in the informal sector. The research used a diaries methodology to document the working lives of 246 youth ages 18-24 from Ghana and Uganda over a one-year period, honing in on questions around behaviour, income, economic activities, and time management. While these data speak to the realities of employment in Ghana and Uganda, the research suggests that these also reflect emerging trends across Africa.


Invisible Lives highlights the extraordinary lengths that young people go to in order to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Findings of the Invisible Lives research indicate that:


  • Young people in Africa diversify their livelihoods, undertaking a mix of informal sector employment, self-employment, and agriculture-related activities to sustain their livelihood.
  • Agricultural production is central to young people’s livelihoods, but agricultural incomes were meagre. Many young people run small enterprises that can be easily started, stopped, and restarted as needed. The most successful young people in both Ghana and Uganda diversified their income and risk by growing multiple crops, raising a variety of livestock, and pursuing a wide range of additional activities.
  • Both formal and informal wage employment is rare and sporadic, or elusive. While the informal sector, which constitutes about 80 percent of Africa’s labour force, provided more wage employment opportunities for young people, they were by no means abundant.
  • Support networks are critical for young people and they play an extensive role in their lives, not only providing support in the form of advice regarding where to look for and how to find employment, skills development, and business guidance, but also proving instrumental in accessing financial resources needed.
Anne Marie van Swinderen

Anne Marie van Swinderen

“Respondents who participated in this study generously shared experiences from their lives over the course of a full year,” explains Anne Marie van Swinderen, lead researcher on Invisible Lives from Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT). “Data from the study shows us that these young people readily take up all opportunities that come their way, with enormous energy and positive spirit. Through the L-IFT diaries methodology, these young respondents and the young researchers who interviewed them, also grew a great deal, simply through the act of asking and answering questions about their diversified livelihoods.”

In addition to providing new information on the employment and risk-mitigation strategies of young working Africans, the research maintains that youth who participated in this study were largely invisible to both development organizations and their own governments, and did not have any access to support services, training or finance capital.

Nakagubo Manjeri(left) participated in the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,MasterCard Foundation

Nakagubo Manjeri(left) participated in the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training, and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.

The Youth Livelihoods Program seeks to improve the capacity of young men and women to transition to jobs or create businesses through a holistic approach which combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, and appropriate financial services. Through our partnerships, our program is supporting innovative models that help young people transition out of poverty and into stable livelihoods. Since 2010, the Foundation has committed $US402 million to 37 multi-year projects across 19 countries in Africa. More than 1.8 million young people have been reached through the Youth Livelihoods program



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Africa: The Strong Breed – the Rise and Fall of Africa’s Great Literary Leaders
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: Rwanda Government Many of Africa’s leaders at independence were acclaimed writers, but this is no longer the case.

Photo: Rwanda Government
Many of Africa’s leaders at independence were acclaimed writers, but this is no longer the case.

In Uganda and beyond, the political influence of writers has greatly diminished, with different kinds of artists starting to take their place.

In an essay published after his death in 1982, the Ugandan poet, philosopher, lawyer, footballer and novelist Okot P’Bitek wrote:

“If there are two types of rulers in every society, that is, those who use physical force to subdue men, and those that employ beautiful things, sweet songs and funny stories, rhythm, shape and colour, to keep individuals and society sane and flourishing, then in my view, it is the artist who is the greater ruler.”

In P’Bitek’s generation, Africa’s great artists and leaders often overlapped. Leopold Senghor of Senegal, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Agostinho Neto of Angola, for example, were all poets and writers as well as founding presidents.

Similarly, the novelist Chinua Achebe led Biafra’s diplomatic front in the war in the late-1960s. The playwright and poet Wole Soyinka has been one of successive Nigerian governments’ most vocal critics and once founded a new political party. Ama Ata Aidoo served as Education Minister in Ghana. Ken Saro-Wiwa led the Ogoni struggle in the 1990s in the Niger Delta. And Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s outspoken political activism led to him being jailed in 1970s Kenya.

Many of Africa’s best known writers have been celebrated for their political leadership as much as their creative works.

On this front, Uganda is no different. In the 1970s, for example, playwright Robert Serumaga joined anti-Idi Amin political activities and later served as Minister of Commerce. Novelist and poet John Nagenda was appointed to the Truth Commission into human rights violations set up in 1986 and is now a senior adviser to President Museveni.

Renowned author Timothy Wangusa was an MP, Education Minister, and is now a presidential adviser. And Mary Busingye Karooro, who founded the Association of Uganda Women Writers (FEMRITE) in 1995, has been a member of parliament since 2004 and served in several senior cabinet positions.

The illustrious list is long. But looking across it, it’s quickly apparent that all these individuals are either fast-approaching retirement or have passed away. It is difficult to find any of today’s generation of writers with nearly the same political influence as their forbearers.

This is not for lack of international acclaim. Within Uganda’s FEMRITE community alone, for example, the country boasts of Commonwealth prize winners Jackee Batanda and Doreen Baingana, MacMillan prize winner Glaydah Namukasa, Caine Prize winner Monica Arac de Nyeko, Jalada prize winner Aujo Lillian, and Caine Prize and PEN/Studzinski Literary Award nominee Beatrice Lamwaka, among others.

 But none of these celebrated writers has political influence comparable to the equivalent generation a few decades ago. Even Atukunda Victoria Abigail, one writer who has actively sought to follow in Karooro’s footsteps in aspiring to become an MP, has yet to make it very far.

How did creative writers lose political influence?

In the 1960s and 1970s, state publishing was thriving thanks to the East African Literature Bureau, which ensured audiences were served by local writers in both English and indigenous languages. This was complemented by the African Writers Series of Heinemann Educational Publishers, which, besides their main target market of schools and universities, also produced work for the general public.

Over time, however, the state publishing model has disappeared and publishing has fallen into the hands of the market. This has meant that today, contemporary Ugandan writers are mostly published by foreign presses, which do not see African markets as their main target.

 There are a few small non-profit presses in Uganda such as FEMRITE, the African Writers Trust, and the Lantern Meet Foundation. Meanwhile, a few independent presses such as Sooo Many Stories and Mattville Publishing have emerged, and many Ugandan writers have self-published. But according to FEMRITE, to qualify as a Ugandan bestseller these days, one only needs to sell a mere 1,000 copies.

This situation has particularly affected indigenous language publishing, which has greatly declined. Whereas the likes of P’Bitek made sure to publish in their local languages, many contemporary Ugandan writers publish exclusively in English. The literary and cultural infrastructure that produces the critical acclaim today is also decidedly Anglophone and typically controlled from outside the country’s borders. The many prizes that have been lauded on Uganda’s authors, for instance, are mostly limited to works composed in English.

While there may be advantages to writing in a language spoken so widely across the world, English is not Uganda’s lingua franca. It may be the official language and the one used in the education system, but it is not the language in which business is conducted or through which voters interact with their leaders.

Political influence is about followership, and followers will not be attracted to people they do not know or to artists whose work they cannot access or consume.

Send in the clowns

While writers have declined in their domestic readership and political influence, however, there may be other kinds of artists that have stepped up to take their place. In Uganda’s 2016 parliamentary polls, for example, the popular gospel musician Judith Babirye and comedian Kato Lubwama both notably became MPs (though the latter’s election is facing a legal challenge).

This appears to be following in a broader trend across the continent in which other creative forms are gaining in political traction. For instance, musicians have been central to several popular protest movements in Africa recently, such as Y’en a Marre in Senegal and Le Balai Citoyen in Burkina Faso, while in 2009, music DJ Andry Rajoelina ascended to the presidency of Madagascar and ruled until 2014.

It makes sense that these kinds of artists may be filling the gap left by their literary counterparts. For example, in Uganda, musicians today have much larger audiences than writers due to the growth of FM stations across the country, many of which also have comedy in their programming too.

Most of these radio stations broadcast in indigenous languages, in which most musicians and comedians also ply their trade. Babirye and Lubwama primarily work in Luganda, Uganda’s most widely spoken indigenous language.

Not all musicians working in Luganda have been able to translate influence and popularity into electoral success – Daniel Kazibwe (alias Ragga Dee), for instance, lost the Kampala mayoral race despite his pedigree as a veteran singer – but musicians and comedians working in local languages seem to have been considerably more successful in electoral politics than writers in recent years.

While free market economics led to the collapse of the 1960s-70s indigenous publishing infrastructure, thereby degrading the production and circulation of Ugandan literature and the influence of writers, the same policies have had a different effect on music and comedy, facilitating growth in those now highly popular artistic industries.

This means that whereas the age of the great writer-leader may have passed, the political influence of musicians and comedians is on the up. How the shift from writers to musicians will affect the quality of Ugandan leadership remains to be seen.

*Allafrica/African Arguments.Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire is an African Leadership Centre Fellow attached to the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town. He is the co-founder of the Kampala based Centre for African Cultural Excellence. Follow him on twitter at @bwesigye.

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Disadvantaged Young Africans Find A Lifeline In The MasterCard Foundation
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

-$2.1 Billion has been made in total commitments by the Foundation

By Ajong Mbapndah L


Kenyan vegetable farmer harvesting spinach with her wheelbarrow.Photo Jennifer Huxta, MasterCard Foundation

Kenyan vegetable farmer harvesting spinach with her wheelbarrow.Photo Jennifer Huxta, MasterCard Foundation

With its financial inclusion, education and learning, and youth Livelihood programs, the MasterCard Foundation is emerging as a leading partner in pushing through a development agenda that favors disadvantaged youth across Africa.

About ten million young people have been engaged by the Foundation through its work in diverse sectors across Africa, said Ann Miles Director of Financial Inclusions at the MasterCard Foundation. Speaking from Canada in a skype interview to discuss the second annual Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali Rwanda, Ann Miles said the Foundation was shifting discussion from how to engage youth in agriculture to how young people can be the drivers of agricultural transformation.

Taking place on February 16 and 17, the second annual Young Africa Works Summit will be a gathering of some 300 thought leaders from the NGO’s, government, funders and the private sector committed to developing sustainable youth employment strategies in Africa. The MasterCard Foundation has had a significant impact in working with youth especially those who are out of school or seeking transition to jobs, Anne Miles said.

Miles disclosed that Of the $2.1 billion in total commitments, circa $ 1 billion has already been disbursed. At the Summit, there will be 34 nationalities represented (total), of which 20 nationalities are African. The summit will have people from Cameroon to Congo, Kenya to Senegal, Zimbabwean to Malagasy, and from other countries like Bangladesh, Paraguay, India, and Poland

some 10 million young people have benefited from programs of the Foundation said Ann Miles.Photo Jennifer Huxta , The MasterCard Foundation

some 10 million young people have benefited from programs of the Foundation said Ann Miles.Photo Jennifer Huxta , The MasterCard Foundation

Working in about 25 countries, the Foundation has had a strong impact on the livelihood of young people through tertiary education, financial opportunity, and scholarship and entrepreneurship opportunities. Those who have studied through scholarships have returned to their home countries to share valuable knowledge and experiences acquired elsewhere, said Miles.

As one of the countries where the activities of the Foundation have taken strong root, Rwanda was not a hard choice to make to host the second annual summit. Agriculture is a very important topic, Miles said, and went on to explain that the Summit will focus on the inter-related themes of agricultural transformation, gender technology and climate smart agriculture.

On how the Foundation keeps track or stays engaged with beneficiaries of its programs, Miles said  evaluations and surveys are usually done ahead of each summit. The Foundation remains committed to its work in Africa in the hope that it will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of young people and the overall development of the continent ,Miles said.


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Nigerian group asks US for $500 million
February 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kieron Monks*

(CNN)The rancorous reign of the 45th US President faces a fresh controversy.

General Sani Abacha seized power in a 1993 coup and reigned for five years.

General Sani Abacha seized power in a 1993 coup and reigned for five years.

A Nigerian economic and social rights group has written to the White House demanding the return of $500 million of stolen funds, which it claims are being held by the US.

“(We urge) the administration to attach and release to Nigeria some $500 million worth of US-based proceeds of corruption traced to former Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha,” the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) wrote in an open letter.
The letter cites US obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption, and demands that the government “promptly initiate civil asset forfeiture proceedings” to ensure that the funds are swiftly returned to Nigeria.

Following the money

General Sani Abacha was a notorious dictator who led Nigeria for five years after taking power in a 1993 coup. He is alleged to have stolen over $4 billion during his reign, before his death in 1998.
SERAP’s claim is the latest in a series of attempts to recover lost wealth from Abacha and his family, which has been frozen in accounts and assets around the world.
Switzerland has recovered and returned around $700 million to Nigeria to date, with further sums pending. The US Department of Justice had already seized $480 million in 2014, prior to SERAP’s new claim, although this has yet to be returned.
The Nigerian government’s focus is on reclaiming the funds it is due from these latter cases rather than the SERAP claim, says Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption.
Extracting the money from the US in particular has been a frustrating process for Nigeria.
“President Obama met with our President Buhari and made a commitment to return this sum to the government of Nigeria,” says Owasanoye. “This has been subject to legal challenge, and the bureaucratic system in the US is hindering the return so far.”
“Developed countries are very happy to recover money but very slow to return it,” he adds.
The legal challenge comes from Godson Nnaka, a former attorney for the Nigerian government.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) says that the appeal must be resolved before the funds can be returned to Nigeria.

‘Lawyer’s feast’

The Nigerian government will face further obstacles before recovering the money.
Some of the forfeited $480 million is located in banks outside the US, which will require an even more laborious process to recover.
“The US has to get court orders for those countries to physically move cash back to the US to go in the pot of seized assets,” says Alexander W. Sierck, a Washington-based lawyer who has represented SERAP pro-bono for several years in their efforts to recover Abacha funds.
Teodorin Nguema Obiang, Vice-President of Equatorial Guinea, agreed to a deal that allowed proceeds of corruption from the country to be repatriated through a trust partly overseen by the US.

Teodorin Nguema Obiang, Vice-President of Equatorial Guinea, agreed to a deal that allowed proceeds of corruption from the country to be repatriated through a trust partly overseen by the US.

“It is a lawyer’s feast that that generates a lot of work — but it is a slow process.”

A further complication is the DoJ’s determination to avoid allowing repatriated funds to be lost to corruption a second time, often seeking safeguards.
In the landmark case of Equatorial Guinea, a haul of assets worth $30 million seized from the ruling Obiang family including property and sports cars was repatriated in the form of charitable trusts, partly overseen by the US. A similar deal was reached over proceeds of corruption from Kazakhstan.
The US Congress has discussed a bill that would see the Nigerian funds placed in a charity to support the victims of Boko Haram, but Nigeria is unlikely to accept such an arrangement.
“The US should not impose conditions,” says Owasanoye. “They can monitor to the use of the funds — we are transparent — but we are a sovereign state and the money should be returned to us.
The need is particularly acute as Nigeria struggles through a period of recession, he adds, claiming the money will be used for a range of social welfare projects.

Fractions of fractions

The World Bank estimated in 2007 that developing countries lose up to $40 billion a year through corruption, and little is successfully reclaimed.
“What is being recovered is a fraction of a fraction,” says Emile van der Does de Willebois, the Bank’s global lead for financial market integrity and asset recovery. “Legal procedures take time and an enormous amount of resources.”
“Of any number of corruption cases you can only focus on one or two…(and) it is up to prosecutorial authorities to make a judgement on what is the most important case.”
The process is further complicated by problems with mutual legal assistance and co-ordination, says de Willebois, as “victim” states often lack expertise in how to deal with financial centers such as Switzerland and the US.
But there has been progress, he adds, such as through a legal maneuver that allowed Switzerland to reclaim Abacha assets by classifying his family as a criminal organization, thus lowering the burden of proof required for seizure.
New initiatives such as the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, and European Union-led efforts to establish transparency in offshore holdings, also aid recovery efforts.
But asset recovery experts also say that the attitude of the new US administration will be critical for further progress on the issue, and the Nigerians await their answer from the White House with no little anxiety.
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Corruption Weary Africans Taking Anger To The Polls-TI 2016 CPI Index
February 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

John Mahama or Ghana (in suit) and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia both lost elections in 2016

John Mahama or Ghana (in suit) and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia both lost elections in 2016

If affable candidates like former President John Mahama of Ghana lost elections last year, it may in part have been due to corruption.The finding is contained in the recently published 2016 corruption perception index of Transparency International.

“In countries like Ghana, which is the second worst decliner in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index in the region, the dissatisfaction of citizens with the government’s corruption record was reflected in their voting at the polls,” Transparency International said in a statement that accompanied the release.

Africa did not fare so well said Samuel Kaninda Regional Advisor for Africa at Transparency International. In a skype interview, Kaninda who was on mission in Accra, said  the recently released perception index found a co-relation between democracy and good governance. Countries with a history of free elections and a stable democracy faired comparatively better as compared those where democracy and the rule of law are still struggling to take root.

On the countries that did well, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe emerged as the most improved in Africa. Both countries held elections, which got rave reviews from observers. For his efforts and management style, Jorge Carlos Fonseca was rewarded with another term of office. In Sao Tome and Principe, there was a smooth transition of power, a feat that still eludes many countries in the continent.

For the democratic advances it has made, corruption in Ghana was described as rampant. Corroborating statements in the TI Release, Samuel Kaninda believed that the outcome of the recent election mirrored the anger and disappointment of Ghanaians who voted out a sitting President.

Despite high profile arrests and pompous amounts recouped from corrupt politicians, Nigeria failed to see any significant improvement in the index. The doctrine of change that brought the Buhari APC led government to power has so far been a mirage. Nigerians are increasingly voicing out their frustrations and should things not change before the 2019 elections, the APC may be in for a rude awakening.


Africa should seek the partnership of the international community to fight illicit flows of capital from the continent says Samuel Kaninda

Africa should seek the partnership of the international community to fight illicit flows of capital from the continent says Samuel Kaninda

The situation was similar in South Africa, trailed by sleazy tales of corruption with fingers pointing directly at President Jacob Zuma himself. Though serving his second and last term of offices, there have been growing calls for Zuma to step down. Down and bruised, Zuma has so far weathered the storm, but his battered image is taking a toll on ruling ANC. That it took heavy military Presidents to quell a mutiny from the opposition before Zuma could make a recent state of the Union Address speaks volumes on the situation Mandela’s own country.

With elections due later this year, if corruption were to be a decisive factor, President Uhuru may have some blushes as little progress has been made during his first term.

On the category of countries that equally fared poorly are the regulars like Somalia, South Sudan, Guinea Bissau, Central Africa, Chad, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Cameroon, DR, Congo and the Republic of Congo.

Fighting corruption should be task for everybody said Samuel Kaninda in response to solutions for the way forward. Besides the framework that countries need to put place, the civil society has to step up its role.

Transparency International is willing to engage with countries in the continent and the wider international community in the quest for lasting solutions, Kaninda said. With growing attention from the international corporate world, Kaninda said corporations coming to Africa need to be clearly identified .Institutions and clear-cut rules need to be put in place to curb incidence of corruption, he said.

Corruption is not an issue of the South or the North, Kaninda said in response to a question on illicit outflows of money from Africa. Without these massive flows, Africa will not be talking about Aid but Trade,  said Kaninda. African governments should engaged in discussions with the rest of the world especially those that provide safe haven for massive loots from Africa so as to curb this trend which saps Africa of resources needed for its own development ,said Kaninda.



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New-look Champions League set to begin
February 11, 2017 | 0 Comments
Mamelodi Sundowns won the Champions League in 2016

Mamelodi Sundowns won the Champions League in 2016

Up to 18 players who competed at the Africa Cup of Nations could be involved in the new-look Champions League when it kicks off this weekend.

Among them is Georges Bokwe, one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final last Sunday in Gabon.

Bokwe was kept out of the starting line-up by the consistent brilliance of Spain-based Fabrice Ondoa, who was included in the team of the tournament.

But Bokwe is the first choice for regular Champions League entrants Coton Sport from northern Cameroon cotton town Garoua.

Coton qualified for the 2008 final, losing to Al Ahly of Egypt, but have fared poorly recently with first round exits in the past two seasons.

Drawn against Atlabara of South Sudan in the two-leg preliminary round this year, the Cameroon outfit are favoured to secure a last-32 place.

While Coton have the experience of 15 previous Champions League campaigns behind them, Atlabara suffered a preliminary-round loss in a lone previous challenge.

Coton and Atlabara are among 46 clubs in action this weekend as an exciting new chapter in the Champions League unfolds.

Total prize money has soared from $5.7m (£4.6m) to $10m, a 119.30% increase.

Significant prize fund

The group phase – where the cash kicks in – has been expanded from eight to 16 clubs with participants guaranteed at least $550,000 (£440,000) each.

For clubs dreaming of going all the way and succeeding where Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa did last year, the “carrot” is a $2.5m (£2m) first prize.

Sundowns are among nine clubs given byes on merit into the round of 32, with record eight-time champions Al Ahly another.

Georges Bokwe was one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final of the recent African Nations Cup

Georges Bokwe was one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final of the recent African Nations Cup

Preliminary participants include V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1973 winners of the African Cup of Champions Clubs, forerunner to the Champions League.

The Kinshasa outfit face Royal Leopard of Swaziland and can call on Joyce Lomalisa Mutambala, a defender with unhappy memories of the 2017 Cup of Nations.

He was the only player sent off in the 32-match tournament, having come off the bench in a win over Morocco and been yellow-carded twice within 17 minutes.

Former title-holders in the second-tier Confederation Cup, Stade Malien of Mali, FUS Rabat of Morocco and AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville, play this weekend.

Stade face Barrack Young Controllers II of Liberia, FUS meet Johansen of Sierra Leone and Leopards play UMS Loum of Cameroon.

Others in action include three clubs who won the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup, Enugu Rangers of Nigeria, Horoya of Guinea and Al Merrikh of Sudan.

Enugu tackle JS Saoura of Algeria, Horoya confront Goree of Senegal and Merrikh challenge Sony Ela Nguema of Equatorial Guinea.


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The best way to honour Tshisekedi is to take on the fight for democracy in DR Congo
February 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

Now more than ever, we must heed the late politician’s declaration that, ultimately, the people must take responsibility for themselves.

With the veteran opposition figure out of the picture, the government may feel less pressure to implement the recent agreement. Credit: VoteTshisekedi.

With the veteran opposition figure out of the picture, the government may feel less pressure to implement the recent agreement. Credit: VoteTshisekedi.

Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, the historic leader in the struggle for democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), died at a hospital in Brussels, Belgium, on 1 February, reportedly of pulmonary embolism. He was 84 years old.

His death was announced the same day by a spokesperson for his party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), founded by Tshisekedi and other political leaders in 1982.

Born on 14 December 14, 1932, in Kananga (then Luluabourg) in Kasai province of the Belgian Congo, Tshisekedi began his political career by working closely with the Congo’s notorious leader Mobutu Sese Seko for nearly 20 years. This relationship began in 1960 when Mobutu, who had recently become army chief-of-staff and led a coup against Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, nominated Tshisekedi to the Council of General Commissioners. Still a law student at Lovanium University in Kinshasa (then Léopoldville), Tshisekedi was named Deputy Commissioner for Justice.

In 1961, Tshisekedi became the first Congolese to obtain the doctorate in law. He left politics for a few years to serve as Rector of the National School of Law and Administration (ENDA) in Kinshasa. But in 1965, he returned to politics as Interior Minister following Mobutu’s second coup d’état in which he seized the presidency, an office he would hold until 1997.

As a key minister, Tshisekedi played a crucial role in the process of consolidating Mobutu’s personal rule. He helped draft the 1967 constitution, which outlawed multi-partyism, and create the single-party regime under the People’s Revolutionary Movement (MPR).

In the second half of the 1970s, however, relations between the hitherto close friends deteriorated as Mobutu became increasingly corrupt and notorious for gross violations of human rights. This rift came to a head in December 1980 as Tshisekedi, along with twelve other MPs, sent a 52-page letter to the president demanding the restoration of multiparty democracy. The dissenters were arrested, tortured, and sent to remote detention centres in the bush.

It was this episode in which Tshisekedi earned the respect of the Congolese people as he remained the one person to endure the suffering without giving in to either fear or bribery. A man of extreme courage and strong moral and political principles, he showed that he would put the country’s interests above personal ambitions, living by his motto le peuple d’abord. The people first.

Fighting authoritarianism

In July 1991, a year after Mobutu had ended his ban on other political parties amidst internal and external pressure, the dictator offered Tshisekedi the role of prime minister. Demonstrators descended on the opposition leader’s residence in Kinshasa to dissuade him from collaborating with “the devil”.

Tshisekedi refused the nomination. But he did later go on to become prime minister on three separate occasions under Mobutu, all for short periods of time that ended in disagreements between the two men.

The one stint as PM that stands out most for Congolese was Tshisekedi’s election to the position in August 1992 at the Sovereign National Conference. At this forum, established to interrogate the past and chart a new course for the country, 2,842 delegates representing all strata of Congolese society overwhelmingly voted in favour of Tshisekedi becoming prime minster over Mobutu’s favoured candidate. This national forum remains a central reference point for Congolese aspirations for democracy and rule of law.

As arguably the single most important political leader in the DRC since Patrice Lumumba, Tshisekedi embodied these aspirations in his opposition to the authoritarian regimes of not just Mobutu, but his successors.

His political activities under President Laurent-Désiré Kabila (1997-2001), who overthrew Mobutu, resulted in Tshisekedi being relegated to his village of origin in Eastern Kasai. And under Joseph Kabila, who took power after his father’s death in 2001, Tshisekedi was the Congo’s most prominent opposition leader .

Tshisekedi boycotted the 2006 elections, but when he ran for president in 2011, the man by now known as the Vieux (Old Man) drew enormous crowds across the country’s provinces. When the official results declared the Kabila the winner therefore, the overriding response was of disbelief.

National and international observers said the elections had been marred by serious irregularities and a lack of transparency, while the Bishops’ Conference, which had observers across the country, said the results did not reflect the will of the people. Tshisekedi rejected the results and held a parallel inauguration ceremony.

Taking responsibility

The next elections were constitutionally required to be held in 2016, but Kabila’s government employed a variety of tactics to delay them, meaning he is now still in office despite his official mandate ending on 19 December.

As this crisis has unfolded, Tshisekedi returned to the fore and became one of the leaders of the opposition coalition known as the Rassemblement, which organised huge protests. At the end of 2016, the Rassemblement engaged in negotiations with Kabila’s camp, leading to an agreement on 31 December that called for power-sharing and a one-year transition to elections in 2017.

In the month that has gone by since that accord, however, little progress has been made. And with the death of Tshisekedi, the main opposition figurehead whose ability to mobilise huge street protests was unparalleled in the Congo, the Kabila regime is likely to feel less pressure to implement the agreement.

Such a temptation from the regime would be misguided. The Congolese people’s desire for democracy and willingness to exert their popular power is not to be underestimated.

We saw this in independence uprisings of January 1959; in the mass “second independence” movement of 1963-68; in the huge demonstrations of 16 February 1992; in the three-day protests of January 2015, when at least 50 people were killed demonstrating against a bill requiring a national census before elections; and we saw this in massive protests around the country in September and December 2016 against Kabila’s determination to stay in office beyond his mandate.

Tshisekedi embodied this spirit and was central in mobilising many of these demonstrations. But Congolese patriots will continue to fight for democracy and social progress with or without iconic opposition leaders like him.

Indeed, as we mourn the loss of the Vieux, the best way to honour his selfless, incorruptible and patriotic service over several decades is to take it upon ourselves to restore democracy in the DRC. The Congolese people have a duty to remove Kabila and his cronies from power and end a regime that is more interested in looting the country than in building institutions, protecting citizens, and ensuring peace and development.

Tshisekedi will be deeply missed, but as he reminded us following the 2011 elections, le people doit se prendre en charge. Now more than ever, the people must take responsibility for themselves.

*African Arguments.Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja is professor of African and global studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA).

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Africa: Nigeria Opposes Mass ICC Withdrawal
January 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

The plan the African Union (AU) members to collectively withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) may suffer a setback as Nigeria and some other countries are opposed to it.

Foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama said in a statement in Abuja on Friday that Nigeria did not subscribe to the AU strategy.

The minister said that when the issue came up during a meeting, several countries opposed it.

He said Nigeria and others believed that the court had an important role to play in holding leaders accountable.

The only voice

“Nigeria is not the only voice agitating against it, in fact Senegal is very strongly speaking against it, Cape Verde and other countries are also against it.

“What they (AU) did was to set up a committee to elaborate a strategy for collective withdrawal.

“And after, Senegal took the floor, Nigeria took the floor, Cape Verde and some other countries made it clear that they were not going to subscribe to that decision,” he said.

Mr Onyeama said a number of countries also said that they needed time to study the proposal.

He said that Zambia, Tanzania, Liberia, Botswana and a host of others were not willing to withdraw from the court.

Mr Onyeama stressed that each country willingly acceded to the 1998 Rome Statue on the setting up of the court.

 “Each country freely and willingly acceded to the Treaty, and not all of the members of the AU acceded, each country acceded individually exercising its own sovereign right.

“So, each country, if they want to withdraw, has the right to do that individually.

Publicly declared

Three African states in 2016 publicly declared their intention to withdraw from the court.

Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia applied to withdraw, with reports that Namibia, Kenya and Uganda were also contemplating quitting the ICC.

The court has repeatedly been criticised by African states as an inefficient, neo-colonial institution of the Western powers to try African leaders.

The argument was supported by the fact that nine of the 10 situations under investigation, with three others under preliminary investigations, involved African countries.

However, as noted by the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), “the rift is often caused by a neat difference in priorities.

“Where one gives more importance to peace processes, while the other gives more weight to obtaining [international] justice.”

African state parties to the Rome Statute make up the biggest regional membership, comprising 34 of the 124 members.


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Africa Finance Corporation issues US$150 million maiden Sukuk
January 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

Issuance represents the global market’s first USD Sukuk transaction of 2017 and the first Sukuk transaction from an African supranational entity

Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a leading pan-African multilateral development finance institution and project developer, has issued its maiden Sukuk, the highest-rated ever Sukuk issuance from an African institution.

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC

Following high levels of investor interest, the initial target of US$100 million was more than twice oversubscribed, resulting in the transaction being upsized to US$150 million and a final order book of approximately US$230 million. In addition to being the first Sukuk transaction of 2017, it is also the first Sukuk to be issued by an African supranational entity.

The Sukuk is AFC’s second foray into Islamic finance; the corporation accepted a US$50 million 15 year line of financing from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in 2015 to finance Islamic Finance-compliant projects located across the numerous African IDB member countries.

The privately placed 100% Murabaha Sukuk, which has been awarded an A3 senior unsecured rating by Moody’s Investors Service, has a three year tenor and will mature on 24 January 2020. Emirates NBD Capital, MUFG and RMB acted as Joint Bookrunners and Joint Lead Managers with Emirates NBD Capital also acting as the Sole Global Coordinator.

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC, commented on the announcement: “The core values of Islamic finance, the need to invest ethically in assets that have a tangible positive social impact, made a Sukuk issuance a natural choice for us. We offer global investors the chance to be involved in high-impact infrastructure projects that not only promote social and economic development across Africa but also generate economic returns for our investors.

“This Sukuk represents a milestone in our financing activities, a milestone that will enable us to further diversify our funding sources, to build new relationships with key investors in international markets and help us diversify our portfolio of projects to continue delivering real impact across the continent.”

Ahmed Al Qassim, CEO of Emirates NBD Capital, added: “Emirates NBD Capital is delighted to have supported the inaugural US$150 million 3 year Sukuk issuance. The successful completion of the transaction is a testament to AFC’s standing with the international investor community and AFC’s commitment to develop new sources of funding.

“As the Sole Global Coordinator for the Sukuk, Emirates NBD Capital continues to lead the development of international Sukuk as a product and providing our clients with unique solutions to meet their funding requirements.”

AFC has a diverse funding base, with a range of funding from sources across different markets. Last year the corporation issued its debut Swiss Franc denominated long three-year bond, raising CHF 100 million, and accepted a US$150 million 15 year loan facility from KfW Development Bank. In 2015 AFC’s inaugural 144A/Reg S, US$750 million 5-year international bond was more than six times oversubscribed at over US$4.7 billion, attracting institutional investors from across Asia, Europe, Middle East and the United States.

The Corporation will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2017 at the AFC Live Summit, which will bring together many of the top international players in African infrastructure investment for high level discussions on the industry’s many challenges, and potential solutions.

AFC is a dynamic, international investment grade multilateral finance institution whose mission it is to help bridge Africa’s significant infrastructure gap whilst delivering competitive financial returns, robust economic growth and positive social impact.


Established in 2007 to be the catalyst for private sector infrastructure investment across Africa, AFC is now the second highest investment grade rated multilateral financial institution in Africa with an A3/P2 (Stable outlook) rating from Moody’s Investors Service. A successful borrowing programme has raised more than US$3.5 billion for AFC’s activities, including the Corporation’s debut US$750 million Eurobond issue which was over 6 times oversubscribed. In terms of impact, AFC has invested more than US$ 4 billion in projects across 26 African countries to date.


AFC’s investment approach combines specialist industry expertise with a focus on financial and technical advisory, project structuring, project development and risk capital tailored to addressing Africa’s unique infrastructure development needs in the core sectors of power, natural resources, heavy industry, transport, and telecommunications.
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New African Railways Ride on Chinese Loans
January 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Salem Solomon &Falastine Iman*

Locomotives for the new Ethiopia to Djibouti electric railway system sit outside a train station on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Sept. 24, 2016,

Locomotives for the new Ethiopia to Djibouti electric railway system sit outside a train station on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Sept. 24, 2016,

Earlier this month, the first train rumbled down the tracks of a $3.4 billion electric railway connecting landlocked Ethiopia with Djibouti and its access to the Red Sea. The 750-kilometer (466 miles) line, expected to carry up to five million tons of goods per year, promises to have a massive impact on the economies of both countries and the region at large.

At the official launch of the project, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said its importance cannot be overstated.

“This project is like our blood vessels,” he told a VOA Somali service reporter who was riding on the inaugural train. “The reason is because Ethiopia’s outlet is through Djibouti. Therefore, this project determines if we can live or not live.”

The project was 70 percent funded by a loan from China’s state-run EXIM Bank and built by China Railway Group and Chinese engineers.

Kenya railway line almost done

It is the latest in China’s massive infrastructure investment in Africa. A $13-billion railroad in Kenya, financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and built by the state-owned China Road and Bridge Corporation, is nearly complete. Other railway lines are planned to stretch into East African countries including South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Between 2000 and 2014, China made $24.2 billion in loans to finance transportation projects on the African continent, according to researchers at the China-Africa Research Initiative, a group at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies focusing on China-Africa relations. Eighty percent of those loans were for roads and railways.

China eyes African ports

Experts say Chinese infrastructure investment in Africa is not about altruism. Funding railways benefits China by connecting ports and facilitating the movement of raw commodities that are badly needed to fuel China’s development.

“East Africa, particularly the ports in Kenya, ports in Tanzania and especially ports in Djibouti, these are very important for the Chinese just for the exports,” said Jyhjong Hwang, a senior research assistant at Johns Hopkins’ China-Africa Research Initiative.

Hwang says that for China, these projects will take a long time to pay dividends.

By contrast she said African economies are likely to see an immediate impact.

“These are big transportation projects that will stimulate local economies, these are good for basic infrastructure,” she said. “This is good for local, loan recipient countries just because these projects have a lot of costs and not a lot of immediate financial return.

“These are the projects that need a lot of financial infusion to begin with and obviously the financier has to be willing to want to take on a lot of risk, but willing to recuperate over a longer horizon,” said Hwang.

Not a ‘clear pattern’

The Ethiopia-Djibouti project was 70 percent funded by a loan from China's state-run Exim Bank and built by China Railway Group and Chinese engineers.

The Ethiopia-Djibouti project was 70 percent funded by a loan from China’s state-run Exim Bank and built by China Railway Group and Chinese engineers.

In 2016, the China-Africa Research Initiative published its database of all known loans made by China to Africa between 2000 and 2014. The countries that received these loans were not all resource-rich countries, researchers found.

“When we talk about China and Africa and interests, people talk about natural resources, but one of our findings was that actually there isn’t a clear pattern in terms of the amounts of loans to countries and how well endowed they are with natural resources,” said Janet Eom, a research manager at the China-Africa Research Initiative.

Oil-rich Angola received the largest amount of funding, Eom says. But resource-poor Ethiopia came in second.

‘One Belt, One Road’ policy in Africa

China views its investment abroad as part of its “One Belt, One Road” policy. Spearheaded by Beijing, this effort is a Chinese public-private partnership, Hwang says, “even though technically no company is truly private in China.”

It aims to develop a modern “silk road” where goods and commodities can be easily transported between China and its surrounding region. Eventually, China says, it would like to shift labor-intensive industrial work to places like Africa.

Local governments are aware a lack of infrastructure is a roadblock to international investment, Hwang says, and are eager to partner with China.

“On the Chinese side, they want to have better investment opportunities in Africa, so if they don’t have a railroad, they will help them build it themselves,” she said.

China also has a large number of infrastructure contractors who need work, many of whom have close links to the ruling party or are state owned.

The quality of the work has come under scrutiny, says Hwang. But, she added, “they are capable of doing [the work] very fast and very cheap, and they are able to find the financing for it …”

Most laborers are African

The Johns Hopkins researchers also found Chinese projects benefit African workers, the foremen and technicians tend to be Chinese while the manual laborers are generally African.

There are concerns about the ability of African nations to pay back these loans, researchers found. This is particularly true in countries heavily reliant on oil revenue, which have seen the price per barrel slump in recent years.

There are also concerns China may pull back its investment on the continent as it experiences an economic slowdown.

But the recipient countries of this investment believe it is a win-win.


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Development experts debate Trump’s likely impact on Africa
January 26, 2017 | 2 Comments

By Christin Roby*

A map of Africa. Photo by: Emma Line / CC BY-NC-ND

A map of Africa. Photo by: Emma Line / CC BY-NC-ND

Development experts at the annual Foresight Africa panel hosted by the Brookings Institution believe development and business opportunities for President Trump’s administration in Africa are vast, ranging from technology and infrastructure to road creation and renewable energy.

But they also said it is too early to know exactly what the Trump administration’s priorities are regarding the continent.

Angelle Kwemo said that domestic priorities for Trump and his team will likely take precedence over international ones. “Today we are all speculating,” said the director of Washington Media Group’s Africa practice.

“He [Trump] has not promised anything to the African constituency because we did not support him, so we can’t hold him accountable for anything because he hasn’t given any signals as to what he will do,” Kwemo continued.

But other experts pointed to one prime area of opportunity being mobile telecommunications and the rapid spread of internet connectivity. With an estimated 1 billion cellphone users in Africa, increasing access to 3G/4G networks and stronger internet services, senior international advisor for Africa at Covington & Burling LLP. Dr. Witney Schneidman called the continent an ideal atmosphere for technology adaptation in major African cities.

“There is a tremendous potential to use technology, not only to capture value for filmmakers, designers and other innovators, but in doing so, Africa gets to tell its own story … gets control of the narrative,” Schneidman said.

According to a 2016 smartphone ownership survey conducted by Pew Research Center, Kenya, Ghana and Senegal ranked among emerging countries with the steepest smartphone ownership growth, with Nigeria leading the continent with a 9 percent increase in smartphone ownership since 2013.

Other resources — such as iROKOtv, a Netflix-like service in Nigeria — provide examples of internet capabilities in parts of Africa, Schneidman said. Entrepreneurs across the continent seem to be catching on and have found ways to monopolize on mobile technology with the appearance of Uber in 14 African cities across Egypt, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa and Uber-like taxi hailing mobile apps such as TaxiJet and Africab in French-speaking Ivory Coast.

“Technology can be used as an economic developer and bring people into the mainstream of African economic progress,” Schneidman suggested.

However, the legacies left in Africa by prior administrations gives some experts hope that Trump will support initiatives that are already in place.

The 2000 passing of the African Growth and Opportunity Act by former U.S. President Bill Clinton — which added 300,000 jobs in Africa — forged a bipartisan consensus that the U.S. has interest in Africa worth investing in, explained Schneidman.

George W. Bush’s 2003 President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief that has helped lower HIV/AIDS rates across sub-Saharan Africa to their lowest levels, and the bipartisan creation and recent extension of the 2004 Millennium Challenge Corporation, which has applied a revised selection process to dispersing foreign aid, are other examples of bilateral U.S. agreements that have demonstrated U.S. support in Africa.

“We don’t see a lot of controversy when it comes to engaging,” Kwemo said. “The question is what he [Trump] will do and how far he [Trump] will go.”

Schneidman said it’s natural to be concerned about the future of Africa-focused programs during administration changes when the new president has the power to cut budgets and funding to programs such as the Young African Leaders Initiative and PEPFAR.

Fears around Trump’s plans in Africa increased drastically with the recent publication in the New York Times of a four-page questionnaire from his transition team to the State Department that posed questions such as, “Is PEPFAR worth the massive investment when there are so many security concerns in Africa? Is PEPFAR becoming a massive, international entitlement program?”

Some of the questions clearly had a critical and abrasive tone, including “With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our money is stolen? Why should we spend these funds on Africa when we are suffering here in the U.S.?” This has left some observers wondering if Trump will radically reduce American engagement with Africa.

But others struck a less alarmist note, speculating that Trump’s involvement in Africa could take time to develop, just as it took President Barack Obama an entire term before making a visit to Africa and launching the Power Africa Initiative, which happened in 2013.

Dr. Ken Opalo, assistant professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, suggested that the president’s background in business might be good for Africa.

“Business and jobs are what end poverty,” Opalo said. “And if he [Trump] sticks to a pro-business agenda that might be good, especially to the extent that he brings American companies onto the continent.”

But the overall message emerging from the forum was clear: Don’t get too carried away with asking if Africa is a priority for Trump or not because it’s just too early to know for sure.

Kwemo said that, though a continuity in policy would be ideal, she also urged African leaders to “stop waiting for heaven to come from somewhere else” and instead “take responsibility and think about their own strategies.”


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Unpredictable Trump could prove a game changer for Africa
January 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

With his win of the White House, president-elect Trump has made no secret that his electoral college mandate to “make America great again” should apply to US foreign policy as well.

During the campaign and after his victory, Trump has unabashedly and unpredictably turned US policy on its head with a cascade of jaw-dropping statements about Mexico, China, Russia and Putin, ISIS, Muslims, NATO, Israel and more.
There is, however, one area of the world Trump seems to have eschewed altogether, an area where his skittishness could prove a boon.
For the past eight years Africa has been relegated to the back burner of US foreign policy. President Obama, whose father hailed from Kenya, elicited high expectations when he came to office and was seen, initially, as a potential champion for African causes. Yet, aside from his struggling “Power Africa,” a $7-billion presidential initiative launched in 2013 and aimed at doubling Africa’s electrical grid by 2030, Obama has little to show for when it comes to Africa.
Unlike his immediate predecessor, who morphed into a staunch Africa supporter with several African programs to boot (including his Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR), the first black president departed from the White House in January 2017 with a legacy of soaring rhetoric and lofty slogans, but no tangible and successful African signature policies.
Because Trump favors protectionism, the argument goes, he will turn his back on Africa and will happily don Obama’s mantle to continue Washington’s minimalist involvement in African affairs.
Trump, however, might just do the opposite and, just as George W. Bush, surprise many critics by implementing sensible policies vis-à-vis Africa.
One may wonder why. Why would Trump care about Africa? Why should Africa matter to a Trump administration that has pledged to build roads and bridges in North Carolina, not in South Sudan? The answer to these questions is simple: China. If Trump is serious about China, as he has ostensibly touted on the campaign trail and via twitter, if he is determined to flex his muscles against China, he should first challenge the rising power of the Red Dragon in Africa.
That’s because Africa has served as China’s economic launching pad for over two decades. Africa has fueled and will continue to fuel China’s booming industries for several decades to come.
With the US economic presence in Africa receding, China has occupied the void and driven competition out, including many European companies and investors. The Chinese are building infrastructures at a dizzying pace, from Cairo to Cape-town, in exchange for Africa’s rich mineral ores. Buoyed by state subsidies, Chinese companies are outbidding competition with many shoddy, built-on-the-fly construction projects, and take a disproportionate role in Africa’s extractive production and industries.
Thousands of Chinese companies are doing business in 50 African countries, down to some small-scale businesses operating in Africa’s remotest villages. Chinese state-owned companies are buying vast swatches of Africa’s arable land to set up large-scale agricultural projects. Together, they contributed to the estimated $300 billion generated by China-Africa trade in 2015. In addition to trade, China relies on loans to buttress its presence in Africa. In 2015, during the sixth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Johannesburg, Chinese president Xi Jinping pledged a whopping $60 billion loan, aid, and export credit package to Africa.
Then there are America’s national security interests that should also matter as Trump is assembling his team.
Islamic terror groups, including Al-Shabaab and Al Qaeda operate cell groups in Africa’s rogue states. They are after American soft targets and it’s just a matter of time, if the trend is not reversed, until we see the kind of acts that targeted American interests in Nairobi and Benghazi. The Chinese, of course, prefer not to interfere with what they consider to be African states’ internal affairs.
African dictators are leery of a Trump presidency, and for good reason.
A new sheriff is in town, and unlike the one he will replace in January he may not be all talk and no cider. With his penchant for contumely and tit-for-tat escalation, Trump might be the game changer that shakes things up in Africa and disrupts corrupt political regimes that have quietly survived and thrived under Obama’s two terms in office. They have largely ignored Obama’s paper tiger rhetoric, but Trump’s iron fist may well be what will compel them to get in line and relinquish their illegitimate power.
Why? Because dictators and failed states are bad for business. They feed on corruption, serve as breeding ground for terrorism, and have no qualms about letting their nuclear raw materials fall into wrong hands.
Democratically-elected African leaders, on the other hand, may find in President Trump an unlikely ally, a more decisive and unfettered leader to work with to advance an economic and political agenda that could benefit both the US and Africa.
As the global spotlight shines on his presidency, Trump might prove his critics wrong by dealing differently with Africa and restoring America’s clout on a continent that cannot afford to put its eggs in the same basket and should not let China’s monopolistic drive dictate the terms and pace of its development.
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Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, guest of honor at the AFRICA CEO FORUM 2017
January 18, 2017 | 1 Comments

Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will participate in the 5th edition of the AFRICA CEO FORUM, alongside 1000 international and African economic decision-makers, including 300 top investors.

As the second largest African market, Ethiopia is one of the most robust and best performing economies on the continent, with a two-digit growth rate over the past 10 years (a 10,8% annual average since 2005).

Accompanied by a delegation of Ethiopian CEOs, the Prime Minister will present the strategic orientations of his economic policy as well as several concrete investment projects in high potential sectors. The Ethiopian Government has launched significant programmes in sectors such as transport, telecommunications, energy and industry, especially textile industry, to accelerate the structural transformation of the country’s economy.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister will also participate in the “Head of State panel” where he will discuss Ethiopia’s economic outlook, highlighting the private sector’s role in its growth dynamic. In 2016, the Presidents of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana participated in this unique panel which has since become a highlight of the
AFRICA CEO FORUM’s programme.
Set up in partnership with the African Development Bank, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is an event organized jointly by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and rainbow unlimited, a Swiss company specializing in the organization of economic promotion events.

Launched in 2012, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has established itself as the foremost international event dedicated to the development of the African private sector. In 2016, the AFRICA CEO FORUM hosted nearly 1000 African and international public figures including 600 CEOs from 43 African countries and 100 high-level speakers.

Press contact :
Abdoul Maïga
Tel. +33 1 44 30 18 18 
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Growth, Trump, and debt in Africa: Key economic trends to watch in 2017
January 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

By *

After a challenging 2016, will African economies fare any better in the coming year?

Much of sub-Saharan Africa’s overall economic performance in 2017 will depend on its two biggest economies. Credit: GCIS.

Much of sub-Saharan Africa’s overall economic performance in 2017 will depend on its two biggest economies. Credit: GCIS.

In 2016, real GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to have been the weakest since the 2008-09 global financial crisis. This was largely because of the weak performance in its two largest economies, South Africa and Nigeria, which together make up about half of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.

Although oil and mining economies were hurt by the commodity slowdown, much of East Africa as well as oil-importing Francophone economies such as Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal managed robust rates of growth of above 6%. The slowdown in Africa was not uniform.

But what are the prospects for African economies in 2017?

[Things may have to get worse to get better in Africa. They certainly got worse in 2016]

How will Africa’s two leading economies fare?

Hopes for faster growth rest on prospects in the region’s two largest economies.

In South Africa, recovery after a severe drought in 2016 and improved electricity generation should provide a modest lift. But private sector confidence remains weak, and rising debt levels mean that South Africa remains at risk of losing its investment grade credit rating. With little room to scale up public investment, a tepid recovery is likely, at best. Faster growth will be needed to contain rising public debt. South Africa faces its next round of rating reviews in June, but it will be difficult to achieve anything meaningful by then.

In Nigeria, following a probable contraction of GDP in 2016, it will not take much to drive growth to positive levels in 2017. But higher oil prices alone – we forecast an average of $66/barrel in 2017 – are no panacea. Oil output and Nigeria’s ability to curb militancy in the Niger Delta will also matter.

Even more important are prospects in the non-oil economy, which makes up 92% of Nigeria’s GDP. Activity in the non-oil sector has been sluggish, hampered by poor policy choices, in particular a poorly functioning foreign exchange market. Despite several flawed attempts at currency flexibility, Nigeria has never fully embraced a liberalised foreign exchange regime. The authorities are uncomfortable with allowing demand and supply to determine the value of the Nigerian naira. Because Nigeria has low levels of accumulated oil savings and its foreign exchange reserves have come under pressure, it has had to resort to curbing import demand in order to maintain a steady foreign exchange rate. However, squeezing import demand has meant maintaining a severe squeeze on the real economy. Growth prospects will depend on how quickly unsustainable foreign exchange bottlenecks are resolved.

2017 is likely to bring a cyclical recovery to sub-Saharan African economies. But this will not mean a restoration of previously robust growth rates.

How will Trumponomics affect the continent?

Much uncertainty surrounds the likely economic impact of a Donald Trump presidency in the US. In recent weeks, global equity and commodity markets have rallied in anticipation of more expansionary fiscal policy and the possibility of faster US economic growth. The US dollar has strengthened against other currencies, especially those of emerging markets, which are seen as especially vulnerable to a potential trade war.

Many worry about how the US will afford more infrastructure spending; bond markets have sold off (with prices falling and bond yields rising), reflecting the concern that larger fiscal deficits may be needed to enable any spending stimulus. Each of these factors will have implications for sub-Saharan African economies in 2017.Africa is unlikely to be the direct target of any Trump-induced trade protectionism. But if trade tensions escalate, potentially weakening confidence in emerging market prospects, sub-Saharan African economies are likely to be affected. Over the last two decades, Africa’s trade with emerging markets has grown rapidly, at the expense of its trade with more developed partners. A slowdown in global trade would be a negative for trade-dependent emerging markets and could hurt their demand for Africa’s export commodities.

To counter this, African economies will have to redouble efforts to boost intraregional trade. While unlikely to compensate for a global trade slowdown, this might mitigate some of its more negative effects. Plans for an African Tripartite Free-Trade Area (TFTA) − encompassing 26 economies from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) − should get underway in 2017. The challenge will be how to make the new trade partnership meaningful. Poor infrastructure links and weak trade complementarities hampered earlier trade initiatives. However, faced with the threat of new disruptions to existing trade patterns and supply-chain integration, it is even more important that African economies start trading more among themselves.

Will Africa be able to borrow?­

In the years following the 2008-09 global financial crisis, African economies took advantage of cheaper financing to issue record amounts of traded external debt. Many of these countries are now only five or six years away from a large amount of this Eurobond debt maturing. Ordinarily, borrowing countries would be looking to refinance their existing debt, issuing more long-term debt some time before their existing debt is due to mature. But rising US interest rates and higher bond yields may complicate this process as global investors will likely demand even higher returns for investing in sub-Saharan African debt, which is perceived to be more risky.

For African governments, borrowing internationally to invest in infrastructure is likely to become more expensive. They will have to do more to reassure lenders that they can repay existing debt. Those countries that are able to boost confidence by signing up for IMF and World Bank reforms will likely be rewarded with access to cheaper financing. Those that fail to adopt reforms could find their access to international capital markets more constrained.

Will African companies be able to borrow?

Weak growth in recent years has impacted the health of the banking sector in different sub-Saharan African economies. Weaker commodity prices and sluggish fiscal revenue resulted in many governments falling behind on payments to suppliers and contractors. The prevalence of fiscal arrears (late payment by government) has often been closely linked to the problem of non-performing loans in different banking systems.  As banks face mounting losses, they become more reluctant to lend. Economic momentum slows further.

Often the problems are country-specific. Prior to the collapse in the oil price in late-2014, Nigerian banks were used to lending in foreign exchange. But currency depreciation since then has made foreign exchange loan repayment more difficult. It has also called into question capital adequacy, the buffer (measured in local currency) through which banks are able to absorb losses. Until these issues are resolved comprehensively, it is difficult to see the return of new lending appetite on a sustained basis.

Populist policies have also played a role in weakening the performance of the financial sector. In Kenya, the full impact of the adoption of loan rate caps and regulated loan-deposit spreads, introduced in 2016, will only be seen in 2017 or beyond. Banks now face a maximum rate at which they are able to lend to clients. Wherever loan rate caps have been introduced in the past, the effect has been the same. If banks cannot price adequately for risk, they withdraw their lending, choosing to lend only to the safest and most established borrowers.  Small and medium enterprises as well as new start-ups with no established credit histories will likely face the brunt of this, meaning several growth and employment opportunities will be forgone somewhat needlessly.

While Africa’s economies face more difficult external conditions in 2017, many of the policies that have contributed to weaker economic growth are home-grown. The good news is that average regional growth should recover in 2017. But greater reform and deeper debate on the domestic policy choices that have constrained growth are required for more meaningful transformation.

*African Arguments.Razia Khan is Regional Head of Economics, Africa, at Standard Chartered Bank.Razia Khan will be speaking at Africa in 2017: Prospects and Forecasts in London on 11th January. Book tickets here.

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UAE research programme for rain enhancement science to award grants for research proposals
January 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Research programme for rain enhancement science is to award the most innovative research proposals for rain enhancement science during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability week at a ceremony to be held at the Abu Dhabi national exhibition centre on 17 January, 2017, according to a team spokesperson.

It is reported that the programme  is one of the world’s forefront leaders in finding solutions and innovations for water security challenges.

Organisers  of the event say that with a projected total global population increase of three billion over the next three decades which will severely pressure the limited supplies of fresh water, countries are leading research to find technologies that will offer a viable, cost-effective supplement to existing water supplies.

“The programme  is the first of its kind that aims to build feasible alternatives in arid and semi-arid regions that will serve future generations through international cooperation in science and technology,” according to organisers.

The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, an initiative of the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs and overseen by the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), offers a grant of 5 million US dollars over a three-year period to be shared by up to five winning research proposals. The programme  was launched with the aims of addressing water security challenges and placing the UAE at the international forefront of scientific research into rain enhancement.

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Africa: International Media and Human Rights Organisations Stole the Gambia Election
January 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock. Yahya Jammeh initially conceded defeat in the elections before rejecting them in a dramatic U-turn. COLUMN By Lonzen Rugira President Yahya Jammeh, in his New Year's message to the Gambian people, persisted in his rejection of last month's election outcome, which he

Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock.
Yahya Jammeh initially conceded defeat in the elections before rejecting them in a dramatic U-turn.
By Lonzen Rugira
President Yahya Jammeh, in his New Year’s message to the Gambian people, persisted in his rejection of last month’s election outcome, which he

President Yahya Jammeh, in his New Year’s message to the Gambian people, persisted in his rejection of last month’s election outcome, which he says was tampered with.

On this basis, he quickly rescinded his concession to Adama Barrow, the coalition candidate. He has petitioned the Supreme Court to declare the election null and to demand for a fresh vote; meanwhile, he has declared that he will stay in office in order to ‘defend the constitution.’

But was it the election that was tampered with or was it Jammeh himself? Jammeh’s mistake thus far is to pretend that the reason for his rescission is the former.

He ought to have come clean that it was the latter that had forced his change of heart.

It was all perplexing. For some reason, folks in the leadership of the political opposition thought it was wise to bloviate to the international media about their plans for the president, a man who had just conceded defeat: there would be no immunity; they’d return to the ICC; they’d seize Jammeh’s assets and prevent him from traveling abroad; and they’d prosecute him in less than a year and possibly within the next three months because they wanted to “move fast,” a senior official was quoted saying.

They’d even go as far as bragging that Jammeh had tried to reach out to Barrow but the latter had denied him access. They feared that Jammeh was too cunning that if given an audience he would manage to win himself a deal that would exchange immunity for leaving power: “The President-Elect has refused because his predecessor is so unpredictable,” a senior member of the opposition coalition is quoted telling the Guardian news organisation, before boasting, “There’s no question of immunity.”

Similar stories were published in the aftermath of the election. There were all kinds of “inside reporting” that painted a picture of a besieged Jammeh. In one of the stories, the reporter was certain about the events that transpired on election night.

She wrote how the chiefs of police and army had gone to meet with Jammeh and that they had urged him to ‘prepare for defeat.’ They told him, she said, that he was on his own because ‘the people had spoken.’

He could not count on their support henceforth. Whether such reporting intends to convince that one, Jammeh in this case, is at once a brutal dictator as well as someone who welcomes threats from his subordinates is left hanging.

In her reportage, she even managed to solicit quotes from senior opposition politicians – the government in waiting – who were eager to play along. They are caricatured and they caricature themselves along the way.

I, like most people observing the train-wreck, waited for the voice of reason from the opposition to deny any association with such ‘inside reporting’ and to provide the requisite reassurance.

 Nothing. And so, a crisis was birthed. Political immaturity in the form of the strategic inability to manage victory was manifest through a series of tactical blunders. But a different path was possible.

Political maturity would have dictated that if, indeed, there’s reason to ‘move fast’ the rhetoric ought to have quickly shifted to reconciliation programmes and calls to all forces to join the new government in forging a united path in efforts geared towards building a country were all Gambians would be proud to all home.

Such a message would have resonated well to both the outgoing government as well as to the thousands of exiles who were driven out of the county over the years.

Or simply promise to ‘move fast’ against poverty. But beyond the tactical errors is a more profound problem. The unforced errors of the political opposition in the Gambia that made them fumble away victory is borne of the inconvenient truth faced by most opposition political parties in Africa: that the people inside their respective countries are not the primary constituency of interest.

This is otherwise known as democracy for the gallery. It is a serious problem facing Africa in its efforts to democratise. As is often the case, the primary constituency is the Western gallery. And so, the opposition in the Gambia was eager to bear fruit to its benefactors, their partners in the fight against “autocratic rule.”

In this haste, the opposition exposed itself to a display in the Internationalmould of youthful exuberance.

But they were not alone. Even their patrons in the West are often rushed to demonstrate to their local constituencies that their work to spread democracy in foreign lands is paying off: government agencies in a rush for vindication that their civic education programmes work; NGOs positioning themselves to to raise more funds, etc.

In this haste, the opposition often loses most. In the Gambia, they sacrificed the movement. For Jammeh, this was proof that the country was under siege and that the opposition were fifth columnists, stooges of foreign forces. Handing over power to them would be irresponsible. And so, he usurped the responsibility to ‘defend the constitution.’

Who could blame him? This is the signal the opposition was sending out. Now they are rescinding their threats saying that they will not prosecute him. But the adage goes that once the genie is out of the bottle it cannot be put back inside.

It was a political own goal. External tampering helped usurp the democratic process from the Gambian people, inadvertently retrenched the ‘dictatorship” they claim intent on fighting, and in so doing usurped power from Adama Barrow.

It also gave rise to a conflictual political environment that could lead to serious violence.

*The New Times/AllAfrica

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China announces ban on ivory trade by end of 2017
January 2, 2017 | 0 Comments
Kenya set alight 105 tonnes of ivory tusks in April to help tackle the illegal trade

Kenya set alight 105 tonnes of ivory tusks in April to help tackle the illegal trade

China has announced a ban on all ivory trade and processing activities by the end of 2017.

Conservation groups hailed the decision as “historic” and a “game-changer” for the future of elephants.

The move follows a resolution at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in South Africa in October.

China has the biggest ivory market in the world – some estimates suggest 70% of the world’s trade ends up there.

The war on elephants

Why elephants are seeking refuge in Botswana

Ivory can reach $1,100 (£850) per kilogram in China.

‘Great leadership’

China’s State Council announced the details of the ban on Friday.

The commercial processing and sale of ivory will stop by 31 March, and all registered traders will then be phased out, bringing a full halt to the market by the end of the year.

Conservation group WWF welcomed the latest news, calling it a “historic announcement… signalling an end to the world’s primary legal ivory market and a major boost to international efforts to tackle the elephant poaching crisis in Africa”.

Elly Pepper, deputy director of wildlife trade for the Natural Resources Defense Council, praised China for its “great leadership” on the issue.

“Setting such an aggressive timeline to close – once and for all – the largest domestic ivory market in the world is globally significant.

“It’s a game changer and could be the pivotal turning point that brings elephants back from the brink of extinction,” she said.

While the international market in ivory has been closed since 1989, legal domestic markets have continued in many countries around the world.

A surge in the killing of elephants over the past seven years has seen populations across Africa shrink by a third, according to the recently published Great Elephant Census.

China had backed the Cites resolution in October, surprising participants with the strength of its support for a ban.

Some delegates said Beijing had wanted an even stronger resolution.


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How Trump can turn a blunder on Africa into a win for democracy
December 29, 2016 | 0 Comments


Africa watchers were scrambling the day after Christmas, when the spokesperson for president of the Republic of Congo, Thierry Moungalla announced on his Twitter feed that President-Elect Donald Trump would meet with Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

It would be Trump’s first encounter with any African head of state!

The purported topic of conversation was to be Libya, a country where ISIS has taken root and an uncontrolled flow of refugees threatens to destabilize neighboring states and undermine the security of Europe.

Plausible. … Sassou is the chair of the Africa Union’s Committee on Libya.

 From that single tweet date-lined Brazzaville, the nation’s capital, the story exploded across the internet and was picked up by US and international media.

“Trump’s first meeting on Africa over Libya, with Congo’s Sassou Nguesso,” wrote Reuters. The Hill reported “Trump will meet with the President of Congo.” “Who is Sassou Nguesso?” the International Business Times wrote. The Francophone media likewise pushed the story out on their platforms.

By early evening on Dec. 26, PST, my iPhone started to ping continuously with notifications based on the Congo news.

“Does this mean that Trump will place the fight against terrorism in Africa ahead of long-standing support for democracy and human rights?” a representative from a prominent NGO asked me on WhatsApp.

“This is a president who changed the constitution so he could run for a third-term, extending his 32 years in office to perpetuity!” She was outraged.

Then a friend living in the West African nation of Liberia, originally from the Diaspora, started a chat with me on Facebook, “Sassou Nguesso represents the strong-men of the past. Is American policy going backwards? Please tell me no!”

Everyone seemed to be tracking the story. A journalist based in London reached out to me by email and asked, “Any idea how this (meeting) got scheduled? And why? Do you know when the Trump people will assign someone to Africa?”

I was just as perplexed as everyone else, but fortunately I didn’t have to speculate for long, because by mid-day on the 27th, Hope Hicks, spokeswoman for the Trump transition team, after being prompted that the story was spiraling, told Reuters, “No meeting had been set with Sassou Nguesso.”

It’s not surprising to me that a single tweet, date-lined Brazzaville, without even secondary verification, went viral on mainstream media. After all, Africa policy has been a black hole for candidate — Trump and the incoming Trump administration.

The continent was mentioned only anecdotally during the campaign, and according to reports, as of Dec. 2, none of the calls Trump and Vice President-elect Pence conducted with foreign leaders included an African head of state.

While it would be convenient to attribute this unforced error to another instance of fake news, it would only be half-true. As in a vacuum of emptiness, rumor and speculation rule. And that’s why the Congo story got legs.

The Trump transition team needs to take the Congo experience to heart, and recognize that an entire part of the world, one where approximately 1.2 billion people reside, a continent that is critical to U.S. food, energy and national security, with vast and untapped potential, needs a placeholder.

Rather than let the Africa policy void be filled by the speculators, or it wait out until the confirmation hearing of the Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, the new administration should indicate early that it will support the bi-partisan/bi-cameral policy that has defined U.S.-Africa relations for decades — a policy grounded in democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights, private-sector led development and transparency.

And with that as a basis, a good place to start its African outreach would be shouting out to Ghana, which just completed its fourth consecutive peaceful transfer since the country returned to civilian rule in 1993.

Earlier this month, on Dec. 9, the Chairwoman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Charlotte Osei, declared Nana Akufo-Addo the president of the Republic Ghana with 54 percent of the vote.

Akufo-Addo, from the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), beat the sitting president, John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), in a highly contested campaign, where many feared violence. It was the first time in Ghana’s history that an incumbent president was defeated.

And in gestures of grace and political maturity, President Mahama called Nana Akufo-Addo to concede the election, and Akufo-Addo, in his acceptance speech, promised to be the president of all the people of Ghana.

Johnnie Carson, the former U.S. assistant secretary of State for Africa Affairs leading the U.S. observer mission from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) called the process one of the best run elections that he had witnessed in the past 20 years. He cited Ghana as “the gold standard” for African democracy.

On Jan. 7, 2017, Nana Akufo-Addo will be inaugurated as the fifth president of Ghana’s Fourth Republic.

So how about it team Trump? Signals are important. Maybe a congratulatory letter to Akufo-Addo and the people of Ghana are in order early in the New Year.

*The Hill.K. Riva Levinson is President and CEO of KRL International LLC a DC-based consultancy that works in the world’s emerging markets, and author of “Choosing the Hero: My Improbable Journey and the Rise of Africa’s First Woman President” (Kiwai Media, June 2016).

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African Economic Conference closes with call for agriculture to be at the centre of Africa’s development
December 13, 2016 | 0 Comments

ImpressionThe 11th African Economic Conference (AEC) wound up in Abuja, Nigeria on Wednesday, after three days of intensive discussions on how African countries can achieve agro-allied industrialization.

Over 300 participants attended the annual event, co-organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB), UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on the theme, “Feed Africa: Towards Agro-Allied Industrialization for Inclusive Growth.”

“This should not just be another conference. There has to be some key actions going forward, deploying agriculture to spearhead Africa’s economic transformation,” Ousmane Dore, the Resident Representative of the African Development Bank’s Nigeria Country Office, said as he closed the meeting.


Dore highlighted the Bank’s operations in Nigeria, a huge agriculture portfolio including the ENABLE Youth programme, which is assisting young graduates, or “agripreneurs”, to venture into a variety of agri-businesses. The theme of the conference was timely, he said.

Commenting on the outcomes, Adam Elhraika, Director of Macroeconomic Policy Division of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), urged participants to share the excitement and important messages that emerged from the conference with partners and governments in order to ensure their implementation.

For his part, Ayodele Odusola, Chief Economist and Head of the Strategy and Analysis Team for UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, said the theme of the conference was in tune with the African Union’s 2063 agenda as well as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. He echoed the sentiments of the Conference that agro-allied industrialization would lead to the attainment of Africa’s ultimate development objectives.

Several research papers were presented at the conference, alongside high-level panel discussions on agro-allied industrialization. The research papers ranged from agriculture, climate change and food security, which served the conference well as they initiated discussions on sustainable development.


Opening the conference earlier, Nigeria’s Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, commended the theme and the high-level participation in the conference, adding that the Government looks forward to the outcome of its deliberations “as it would be very useful as we design our new economic recovery plan where agro-industrialization will certainly play a key role.”

AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina gave a keynote speech in which he underscored the fact that agriculture, which contributes over 28% of Africa’s GDP, holds the key for accelerated growth, diversification and job creation for African economies and its people.

“Agriculture provides the basic raw materials needed for industrial development. Food accounts for the highest share of consumer price index and providing cheap food is critical for taming inflation. When inflation is low, interest rates decline and it brings greater private sector investments. A more productive, efficient and competitive agriculture sector is critical for boosting rural economies, where the majority of the population live in Africa,” Adesina said. “The future of Africa depends on agriculture.”

Two research papers claimed the top positions in the final review by the conference organizers. The first position went to Mintewab Bezabih of the UK School of Economics and Political Science, Remidius Ruhinduka of the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Mare Sarr, University of Cape Town, South Africa, who presented their work on “Climate change perception and system of rice intensification (SRI) in Tanzania: A moment approximation approach. While the second position went to a paper titled “Greenhouse Gas Mitigation in the Agricultural Sector: Win-Win or Trade-Off among Small Farmers from West Africa” written and presented by Tiertou Edwige Some of Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal; and Bruno Barbier of the Centre de Recherche d’Économie Appliquée (CREA) in Senegal.

The conference attracted a number of eminent speakers over the three days, including Eric Maskin, Economics Professor at Harvard and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize; Xiaobo Zhang, Economics Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); Chris Barrett, Professor in Applied Economics at Cornell University; and Paul Amaza, a Medical Professor at the University of Jos, Nigeria.




Other high-level participants included, among others, Cho Gyoung-Rae, Secretary General of the Korea-Africa Good and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (KAFACI); Charles McClain, Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Planning and Development in the Liberia Ministry of Agriculture; Henry Eyebe Ayissi, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Cameroon; and Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The 12th African Economic Conference will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in December 2017.


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New Strategies for Fighting Corruption in Africa
November 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Steve Feldstein*

Steven Feldstein

Steven Feldstein

Corruption violates the dignity of citizens and shatters the social compact between leaders and their populations. Across Africa, corruption is responsible for fueling wars, perpetuating violence, undermining democracies and empowering kleptocrats and dictators. Breaking the cycle of corruption is a long-term struggle that requires sustained political will, substantial political and economic reform, and a significant shift in attitudes. This will not happen quickly or easily. As the Panama Papers demonstrate, however, we are witnessing the emergence of a global grassroots movement focused on transparency and accountability that is constraining the ability of kleptocrats to siphon state assets, solicit large-scale bribes, and stash ill-gotten gains in offshore bank accounts.

I witnessed this firsthand during a trip in April to Burkina Faso. In that country, a movement of young artists, musicians and students fed up with the country’s corrupt autocracy broke the 27-year reign of President Blaise Compaore and forced him and his compatriots into exile. The Burkinabe then held their first democratic elections since 1978 and elected a technocratic government focused on financial transparency, accountability and rule of law. One of its first acts was to pass an anti-corruption law requiring political leaders to publicly declare all of their assets.

Despite progress in places like Burkina Faso and Nigeria, the overall scale of corruption remains staggering. Last month, Transparency International reported that Zimbabwe is losing at least $1 billion a year to corruption, largely through illicit payments to local government officials and the police. After just one year of independence, the Government of South Sudan acknowledged that $4 billion of public funds had been stolen by government officials. Meanwhile in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Global Witness reported earlier this month that the Congolese state mining company had signed over $880 million in royalties from its most lucrative mining project to a close friend of President Kabila’s. These funds could be used to purchase life-saving medicine, prepare for elections, or send kids to school; instead it is lining the pockets of the wealthy few.

Corruption is often endemic in economies dominated by natural resources, where complex extractive industries are often loosely regulated and lack transparency. The extractive industries, such as oil, gas, and mining, dominate many African economies. In 2010 African countries exported $333 billion worth of fuel and minerals, which was seven times greater than the total amount of donor funds that came to the continent. For some countries, the numbers are even more skewed. A staggering 97% of the value of exports from Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy – comes from oil. Many of these countries have struggled to ensure accountability for large-scale extractive projects and institute sufficient transparency measures, providing opportunities for businesses and corrupt officials to skim off the top or engage in wholesale diversion of public resources.

U.S. efforts to combat corrupt practices form a key part of our foreign policy. Under Secretary John Kerry’s leadership, the State Department has elevated fighting corruption as a foreign policy priority and core part of our human rights agenda. In January, Secretary Kerry called for corruption to be treated as a “first order national security priority.” He echoed this message at the Global Anti-corruption Summit hosted by the United Kingdom in May. Our hope is that implementing anti-corruption commitments at the country level and as part of multilateral organizations will continue to be a priority.

Last month, I participated in a panel discussion at SXSW Eco in Austin with Brad Brooks-Rubin from the Enough Project, Varun Vira from C4ADS, and Stephanie Ostfeld from Global Witness to talk about innovative strategies that civil society groups, concerned citizens, the private sector and governments are adopting to fight corruption, enhance transparency, and bring accountability for billions of stolen assets. In the panel, I highlighted three areas that the State Department champions in the fight against corruption.

First is building greater transparency globally, especially within governments, so that spending and procurement decisions, contracting, and public services are easily accessible and can be tracked by citizens. For example, the Open Government Partnership (OGP), launched by President Obama in 2011 with seven other heads of state, is partnering with civil society to help countries advance transparency and accountability through national action plans for reform. Seventy countries, including 10 in Africa – Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Tunisia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and South Africa – currently participate in OGP. Similarly, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which the United States has supported since its creation, has set a global standard designed to increase transparency and accountability in the extractives sector. EITI now includes 51 countries, including 27 in Africa, committed to strengthening disclosures of their oil, gas, and mining sector revenues, improving governance of these sectors, and combating corruption so citizens will obtain greater benefits from their country’s natural resources.

Second is supporting civil society-led investigations and strengthening capacity to expose abuses, track financial information across borders, and shed light on illicit activity. At the Global Anti-corruption Summit in May, U.S. government commitments included the establishment of a new global consortium support the critical work of investigative journalists and civil society networks in driving public demand for political will and action by law enforcement.

Third is supporting effective law enforcement. There is a limit to what non-governmental networks can achieve, in and of themselves. Civil society investigations must be accompanied by governments that are willing to prosecute corruption. Nigeria presents an interesting example, where the State Department is providing assistance to the government’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and deepening our collaboration to investigate and prosecute corruption. We have many other opportunities to engage governments such as Mozambique and Burkina Faso in the months and years ahead. These are just a few of the many efforts being undertaken across the U.S. government to help African governments and citizens combat corruption.

At the same event, I was also grateful to hear about similar and complementary efforts my fellow panelists’ organizations are taking to fight corruption in Africa.

The Enough Project has released a series of reports describing the confluence of corruption, violence and impunity in the Congo and South Sudan. They have also published a revealing report on new financial tools to counter kleptocracy in war zones in Africa.

Global Witness has run corruption investigations for over 20 years. Its recent reportuncovering mining sector bribes by UK firm Sable to senior officials in Liberia and Guinea has caught the attention of both the Liberia and Guinean governments and hopefully set the stage for legitimate judicial investigations.

C4ADS is a newer NGO that uses data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting to tackle conflict financing and illicit finance. It is playing a leading role in The Sentry consortium – which has released hard-hitting reports on illicit finance and corruption in Sudan, South Sudan, the Congo, Somalia, and the Central African Republic.

Corruption supports and reinforces authoritarian regimes. Corruption is a disincentive for economies to diversify and is a drag on productivity and growth. Corruption undermines good governance and is linked to conflict, terrorism and extremism. I am convinced that if citizens continue to demand greater transparency and accountability from their governments, and if the United States and other governments continue to play a leadership role in complementing these efforts, the fight to root out corruption will advance in surprising and unexpected ways.

 *Huffington Post. Author is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
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Donald Trump may push African countries away from America and closer to China
November 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Cobus van Staden*

A Donald Trump presidency might push Africa in the direction of China.

Forging friendships.

Forging friendships.

While China is a newer partner to Africa than the United States, it plays a powerful role as a counterexample. Many African governments see China as an model of a country that managed to develop without adopting American-style political systems. Until China came along, African countries were, (and still are,) prodded to follow Western ideas of democracy and civil society, as a gateway to modernity and development.

Chinese development presents a different narrative, one that some African governments interested in building centralized power, have eagerly embraced. The idea of the United States as the guardian of liberal values against powers like China, a story with echoes in the Cold War, might now be upended by the election of Trump to the US presidency. China’s counter-narrative of booming development guided by a strong centralized state is likely to become that much more appealing to politicians who want to believe in state power anyway.

 The idea of the US as the guardian of liberal values against powers like China might now be upended. We still don’t know what a Trump presidency will actually look like, especially as it relates to Africa. However, the president elect’s outspoken antipathy to traditional human rights principles—including his threats to prosecute his opponent Hillary Clinton after the election, his plan to build a wall between the US and Mexico, and his gleeful promises to ‘bomb the shit out of ISIS’— don’t fit the picture US public diplomacy has so far liked to present in Africa.

In this sense, the Trump presidency could herald the end of the binary pull between the US and China that we have seen in Africa over the last 15 years. The traditional narrative about the US and China’s role in Africa, presented by the US government, has been a choice between US-style development via liberal human rights and China-style authoritarianism.

In 2011, Clinton warned the continent against “new colonialism” in a not-so-veiled jab at China. Speaking in Ethiopia last year, President Obama said, “Economic relationships can’t simply be about building countries’ infrastructure with foreign labor or extracting Africa’s natural resources.” These coded statements weren’t only aimed at throwing shade at China. They were also meant to position the US as Africa’s only trustworthy partner.

Obama after remarks to the African Union in Addis Ababa in 2015.

Yet, America’s model of development and democracy has already suffered some setbacks on the continent, even before the election. When the US government talks about the US as a human rights champion in Africa, officials only seem to take into account official diplomatic messaging. Other realities, like the rapid militarization of the US presence in Africa, go unmentioned.

U.S. President Barack Obama applauds the assembly at the end of his remarks to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 28, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama applauds the assembly at the end of his remarks to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 28, 2015

US diplomats also don’t seem to realize that Africans have access to the internet. When presenting itself as a human rights paragon, they don’t completely grasp how images of black Americans being targeted by the police play in Africa. Africans are keen consumers of African-American media, and they are well aware of debates about racism and what it means to be black in America.

 While Trump might alienate Africans, American citizens’ reaction to his actions might draw them back in. As part of a recent class on national image, I asked my students, all young black women, where they would take an all-expenses paid vacation. Not one out of the group of 10 said the US. When I asked why no one wanted to go to New York or Los Angeles, they all said that when they imagine themselves in the United States, they think of being hassled by racist American cops. “America just isn’t for us,” one said.

If president Trump follows through on some of the promises made during his campaign, Africans will find the ideal of American democracy a lot harder to share. This would further muddy the idea that in terms of both an ally and a development model, Africa has to choose between a democratic superpower and an authoritarian one. If both superpowers come to seem equally iffy on human rights, governance and civil society, then Africa’s choice of a development model will be more driven by these powers’ recent track records on economic development.

On these terms China is far more appealing. China’s growth still outstrips that of the US, and it has been funding infrastructure left and right in Africa. Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s Africa initiatives have been few and far between. It remains unclear how much of his biggest projects, such as Power Africa, have actually been implemented.

However, much of America’s global power lies in its grip on our collective imagination. This means that while president Trump might alienate Africans, American citizens’ reaction to his actions might draw them back in. Popular resistance in America against racism and mis-administration won’t go unnoticed in Africa. Remember, Africans know a thing or two about living under corrupt leaders. How Americans resist, or not, will be keenly watched.

*Quartz/Yahoo.This article was written as part of the China Africa Project, a multimedia online resource dedicated to exploring China’s growing engagement with Africa.

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Africa, solidarity and the ICC
November 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
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African Leaders Launch Initiative to Resolve Libyan Crisis
November 10, 2016 | 0 Comments


 Idris Deby

Idris Deby

Seven African leaders met at the African Union headquarter in Ethiopia Tuesday to launch a new initiative to solve the 5-year-old Libyan crisis.

“Africa today is affected by the disastrous consequences of the Libyan crisis,” said Idris Deby, President of Chad and chairman of the African Union. “The situation in Libya is very complicated as there is a lack of homogeneity between the two camps with each one having a multitude of political and military actors.”

The African Union intends to bring together all the Libyan stakeholders as soon as possible “to enable them engage in a frank and direct dialogue,” said Deby. “There is no military solution to the Libyan crisis and this must be understood by all stakeholders,” he said.

The leaders of Chad, Congo, Ethiopia, Niger, South Africa, Sudan and Uganda will discuss how the African initiative can help resolve the Libyan crisis. The African Union panel on Libya is supported by the United Nations.

African Union chairwoman, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, reminded the African leaders that 2.4 million Libyans are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, including 350,000 internally displaced people. “The economic situation in Libya is equally dire with destruction of infrastructure leading to a dangerously low oil production. This situation cannot continue,” she said.


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Republic of Congo marchers want to leave international court
November 4, 2016 | 0 Comments


Congo's President Sassou Nguesso

Congo’s President Sassou Nguesso

About 300 people have marched in the Republic of Congo’s capital to demand that the country leave the International Criminal Court.

Thursday’s march comes shortly after three African countries, South Africa, Gambia and Burundi, announced they would leave the tribunal that is meant to pursue some of the world’s worst atrocities.

Some African countries say the court unfairly targets the continent, though many of its cases were requested by African states.

Thursday’s protesters were under the direction of two parties in the ruling coalition.

The country’s youth minister, Destinee Doukaga, says the treaty that created the ICC is at odds with the Republic of Congo’s recently amended constitution. An article of the constitution bars the extradition of citizens.

Local human rights groups are condemning the call to leave the court.

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ICC’s toughest trial: Africa vs. ‘Infamous Caucasian Court’
October 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

Criticising Hague-based institution for perceived anti-African bias has long been a favourite pastime for many African leaders

* South African move paves way for ICC exodus

* Gambia rails against ‘persecution of Africans’

* Uganda pushing for AU motion to quit court

* ICC prosecutor admits departures a ‘challenge’

By Ed Cropley*

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, speaking in Kampala

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, speaking in Kampala

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 28 (Reuters) – South Africa and Burundi’s decision to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC) and an attack by Gambia against its supposed ‘Caucasian’ justice are likely to embolden other African states to leave the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal.

Although criticising the Hague-based institution for perceived anti-African bias has long been a favourite pastime for many African leaders, in most cases it amounted to pandering to a domestic audience without much real intent.

That has now changed, with the precedent established of local politics justifying actual withdrawal.

With South Africa – a continental heavyweight and key backer of the ICC in the late 1990s – making clear it could no longer tolerate the court’s denial of immunity to sitting leaders, the departure gates have been flung open.

All eyes are now on Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the ICC’s chief tormentor who made history in 2013 by becoming the first sitting head of state to appear before the court, on charges of crimes against humanity.

The case relating to Kenyatta’s alleged role in post-election violence in 2008 in which at least 1,200 people died collapsed in 2014 for lack of evidence.

But in January this year, with charges still hanging over his deputy, William Ruto, Kenyatta took to the floor at the African Union (AU) to call for a “roadmap for withdrawal” for Africa’s 34 ICC members.

Supporting South Africa’s subsequent stance, Kenyatta took aim in particular at Article 27 of the ICC’s 1998 Rome Statute which affirms the “irrelevance of official capacity” – in other words, nobody, no matter how powerful, is above the law.

Kenyatta, who faces another election next year, then played the global security card, saying this compromised Kenya’s ability to fight Islamist militancy, a genuine concern in the wake of a major attack in 2013 on Nairobi’s Westgate mall.

“We’ve had to contend with the ICC pursuing weak, politicised cases. This has become a huge distraction from our duty serve our people and this continent fully. That is not what Kenya signed up for when we joined the ICC,” he said.


Kenya’s parliament has passed two resolutions since 2010 calling for withdrawal, but government spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the cabinet was still deciding – in the wake of South Africa’s move – whether to go ahead.

“It is accurate to say that a decision of the executive is pending,” he said.

Neighbouring Uganda, whose President Yoweri Museveni labelled the ICC “a bunch of useless people” at his inauguration in July, is already shaping up for a fresh push at the next AU summit in January for an African exodus.

“The ICC deserves what’s happening to it now,” junior foreign affairs minister Okello Oryem said.

“Our argument has always been that there’s a need for the whole of Africa to withdraw from the ICC. We hope that matter will come up at the next AU summit and then we’ll be able to pronounce ourselves.”


Most worrying for the ICC, which has been fighting to counter the allegations of anti-African bias and ‘neo-colonialism’, is that local or regional politics stood behind the three recent decisions to pull out.

Although Gambia, which derided the ICC as the ‘Infamous Caucasian Court’, does not yet appear to have sent its formal divorce papers, President Yahya Jammeh, who has been accused of serial rights abuses since seizing power in a 1994 coup, is unlikely to back off ahead of an election in December.

While also citing ICC neo-colonialism, Burundi’s move followed the ICC’s opening of an initial probe into the rape, torture and murder of hundreds of people during an 18-month political crisis.

South Africa’s decision can be traced back to visit a year ago by Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir when Pretoria flouted its obligations to arrest him under an ICC warrant for alleged war crimes.

It even violated a domestic court order in allowing Bashir to leave, a clear demonstration of the shift in Pretoria’s foreign policy under President Jacob Zuma from the international idealism of Nelson Mandela to plain African realism.

The ICC admits it is rattled but is determined to keep going, and in particular to counter the allegations of anti-African bias.

“We must remain strong,” chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian, told reporters in The Hague this week. “This is a challenge we see now. We will see it more. It is not going to go away.”

To date, all but one of the court’s 10 investigations have been in Africa and its five convicted suspects are from Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Mali.

However, it argues that many of these cases were brought by African governments themselves, not outsiders, and that it has 10 preliminary investigations into alleged atrocities elsewhere in the world, including in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, the Palestinian Territories and Ukraine.

“Even if half the African countries leave, it would be very unfortunate and damaging to the concept of international justice but it won’t shut the court down,” one ICC official, who did not want to be named, told Reuters.

“This was bound to happen when dictators – for the most part that’s what they are – decide to run for cover.”


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