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RANDGOLD’S BRISTOW SETS OFF ON ANOTHER EPIC BIKE RIDE FOR AFRICA’S POOR
June 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

6014_RRL_BoB_Newslett#97AFERandgold Resources chief executive Mark Bristow and a small group of friends and colleagues left here today on a fund-raising motorbike safari which will take them from east to west across mid-Africa through dense equatorial jungle.  It is believed to be the first time this challenging route has been attempted by motorbike.

Dubbed Safari Kwa Afrika Bora – Swahili for Riding for a Better Africa – the journey’s aim is to raise a further $3 million for some of the continent’s most needy people, notably the women and children deprived of a decent life by strife and poverty.  The money will go to Nos Vies en Partage (French for Sharing Prosperity) the independent charitable foundation established by Randgold in 2014.

This is the fourth trans-Africa motorbike safari Bristow has undertaken and to date the rides have raised
$2.5 million distributed to 55 entities in 15 countries.  The foundation is already planning donations to some of the DRC’s post-conflict reparation programmes, particularly those aimed at supporting abused women and rehabilitating child soldiers.

The 2016 ride will take 30 days, going from Kenya through Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo before ending in Muanda on the west coast at the end of June, passing the sources of both the Nile and Congo rivers en route.  In terms of terrain, says Bristow, this will be their toughest ride yet.  Because of the need to circumnavigate the worst parts, they will actually be covering well over 7 000 kilometres, more than double the 3 500 kilometre direct distance.  Their progress can be followed at www.boyzonbikes.com.

The safaris had their origin in a Cape-to-Cairo motorbike ride Bristow and his two then-teenaged sons undertook in 2009 under the light-hearted banner 3BoyzonBikes.

“As an old Africa hand I was aware of the difficulties endured by many of its people but as we travelled through small villages in remote regions I saw at first hand the extent of their plight and resolved to do something about it,” Bristow says.

BoB_routes_2009-2016_-_small“The following year I combined my annual exploration review with a fund-raising ride and, accompanied by a team of Randgold geologists, we traversed Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, having named our project Nos Vies en Partage.  Thanks to the generous support of a wide range of donors, we were able to provide some relief to the people in those countries.  Then in 2012 we travelled from Budapest to Bamako via Morocco, western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal and then on through Côte d’Ivoire to Abidjan.  In 2014, we completed the trip around Africa, riding from Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire via Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, the Congo, the DRC, Angola, Namibia back to Cape town.  That year we also converted the Nos Vies en Partage initiative into a charitable foundation, headed by Philippe Liétard, a former Randgold chairman.”

Bristow says that past sponsors as well as new donors have already pledged more than half of the
$3 million target Safari Kwa Afrika Bora has set itself.

Bristow, who will use satellite and other hi-tech equipment including a communications-wired helmet to continue running the company during the ride, also noted that as the Nos Vies en Partage riders paid their own way, all the money raised by the ride would go to the foundation beneficiaries.  Priority will be given to people and causes falling outside the mainstream of Randgold’s sustainability efforts.

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African Development Bank says continent far from debt crisis
May 31, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Matthew Hill*

Buildings and roads sit on the coast in this aerial view of Ikoyi in Lagos island, a residential area in Lagos, Nigeria, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer which derives 90 percent of export earnings from the commodity, is struggling to cope with an almost 60 percent plunge in Brent crude prices since June 2014 to below $45 a barrel. Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

Buildings and roads sit on the coast in this aerial view of Ikoyi in Lagos island, a residential area in Lagos, Nigeria, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer which derives 90 percent of export earnings from the commodity, is struggling to cope with an almost 60 percent plunge in Brent crude prices since June 2014 to below $45 a barrel. Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

Africa is a long way from facing a debt crisis even as commercial lending to the continent soars and Mozambique became the first regional country to miss a payment on a dollar loan this year, according to a senior official at the African Development Bank.

Debt levels across the continent’s 54 countries average 17 percent to 18 percent of GDP, which is low, Abebe Shimeles, acting director in the AfDB’s development research department, said Thursday in an interview at the lender’s annual meetings in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.

“In terms of the continent we are not even close, forget about crisis, we are not even close to a debt burden, especially the external debt,” said Shimeles. “It’s not systemic now. It’s not that all African countries are exposed to a debt crisis. The bad news is sometimes heard faster than the good news.”

Costly Repayments

Countries on the continent raised $26 billion in Eurobonds from 2006 to 2014 and a further $12 billion last year, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said on May 24 when he officially opened the meetings, warning a debt crisis must be avoided. While foreign-currency debt has soared, currencies on the continent have weakened, making repayments more costly as economic growth slows.

“Some countries have also experienced a spike in their debt levels that may be worrying in particular cases, unless they take measures to contain it,” Shimeles said. “The AfDB and other multilaterals can learn from previous mistakes and really step in with a solution to manage the debt, restructure it and also undertake some necessary reforms before we reach a level of crisis.”

Dollar debt sold by sub-Saharan African nations have returned 6.3 percent this year, compared with the 7.1 percent average return for emerging markets. Average yields have climbed to 7.63 percent, compared with 5.8 percent a year ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Economic Expansion

Adesina

Adesina

The bank would consider assisting countries that ask for it, and could work with other lenders including the International Monetary Fund, he said. Nigeria is already in talks with the AfDB for a $1 billion facility.

Growth on the continent will probably exceed the 4.5 percent the AfDB forecast for 2017 in a report published this week, Shimeles said. Domestic demand in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Sudan will lead to “much higher” economic expansion, he said.

“I believe that Nigeria has now taken the right steps in terms of the macro-economy,” he said.

Africa’s biggest economy this month cut fuel subsidies and signaled a more flexible exchange rate policy for the naira, which has been pegged to the dollar for 15 months.

“We are optimistic,” said Shimeles. “Still, this doesn’t mean we deny the headwinds. They are strong but I think the economies are resilient.”

*Source Bloomberg

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Okocha, Eto’o, Kanu, Moyes honour Joseph Yobo in Port Harcourt testimonial
May 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Lolade Adewuyi*

The former Nigeria captain was given a befitting exit from the game on Friday evening by a coterie of stars in Port Harcourt

 joseph-yobo_hu4et8uqe16k18ui958acrdeuJoseph Yobo was given a grand exit from professional football by a stellar collection of football stars and legends during his testimonial in Port Harcourt on Friday.

Illustrious African stars Samuel Eto’o, Sulley Muntari, Stephen Appiah, Lomana Lualua and Laryea Kingston were joined by former Nigeria players Nwankwo Kanu, Austin Okocha, Mutiu Adepoju, Austin Eguavoen and Ben Iroha to celebrate the 101-cap Yobo.

A Team Nigeria composed of current footballers Vincent Enyeama, Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike, Godfrey Oboabona, Efe Ambrose, Joel Obi was coached by legendary Amodu Shaibu and Samson Siasia.

They took on Team World led by Eto’o and coached by former Everton and Manchester United manager David Moyes, who was assisted by former Nigeria youth coach Fanny Amun.

However, Chelsea duo of John Terry and John Obi Mikel were missing after it was announced that they were going to be available for the game.

Before the game, Yobo was presented with a commemorative trophy and a jersey marked ‘101’ by NFF 2nd Vice President  Shehu Dikko, who also played in the game.

After a prolonged delay to the start of the game which led to anxiety in the stands and agitated guest of honour Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State, Yobo started in defence for Team World as they swiftly fell behind to a brace from Emenike after impressive work by Okocha in midfield.

Muntari and Eto’o would score for Team World, the Cameroonian making Enyeama grovel which led to a comic chase of the striker.

Eto’o would be involved in the other funny scene when he asked Okocha to be substituted due to the midfielder’s stunning skills which continuously prised open his side.

The first half ended 4-3 with Yobo scoring just before the break to keep the scores close.

Yobo switched sides at resumption as Kanu, funnyman Ayo Makun (AY) and former goalkeeper Ike Shorunmu all came on.

He played two penalties against Dele Ayenugba, missed the first and scored the second to make it 5-3.

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Angelle Kwemo Joins Washington Media Group as International Practice Grows
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
African "Olivia Pope", Angelle Kwemo is set for another exciting challenge

African “Olivia Pope”, Angelle Kwemo is set for another exciting challenge

Washington Media Group (WMG) has  announced the appointment of Angelle B. Kwemo as Director of the company’s growing Africa practice.

Ms. Kwemo worked for nearly a decade on Capitol Hill for two members of Congress and was the Founder and President of the Congressional African Staff Association. She went on to create Believe in Africa, aimed at empowering women and youth while engaging the private sector; and the AstrategiK Group, providing international trade and advisory services to corporations and government officials across Europe and Africa.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Washington Media Group team, and to help the firm continue to expand its international client work,” said Ms. Kwemo. “Washington Media Group’s world-class communications and creative services are relied upon by clients across Washington and the country, and the word is getting out around the world as well. I’m excited to be joining the WMG team,” Ms Kwemo said.

WMG, which began more than 10 years ago as a crisis communications firm, has since grown into a full-service communications and creative services firm serving clients around the world.

“This is an exciting time for WMG as we continue to grow at home and abroad by offering proven strategies and services,” said WMG CEO and President Gregory L. Vistica. “With her deep knowledge of Africa, Angell will be a central part of our efforts throughout the continent in representing governments, corporations, non-profits and high-net worth individuals. I’m thrilled that she is joining our growing team.”

Ms. Kwemo began her career in France, at the Bestaux Law Firm. In her native Cameroon, she served as Chief of the Maritime Claims and Disputes Department, and later as General Counsel for Bollore Technology Group and Geodis Overseas. Named one of the “World’s Most Influential Africans in the Diaspora” by Paris-based Africa 24 Magazine, she earned an International Business Transactions and Human Rights Law degree from Washington College of Law at American University, in Washington, D.C.

About WMG

WMG is a full-services communications firm that has saved its clients tens of millions of dollars. With offices in China, Qatar and Africa, we’ve successfully solved high-profile crises, protected and repaired corporate and executive reputations, improved brand value and growth, and enhanced public recognition for our clients in the U.S. and overseas.

 

 

 

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New Book Highlights “The Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders”
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Dr. Roland Holou*

bookMany books have been written about people of African descent, but so far no single volume has highlighted the lives, visions, achievements, policies, and strategies of exceptional contemporary African Diaspora leaders across the globe. To fill the gap, an International Selection Committee composed of some of the top African diaspora Leaders in the Caribbean, Europe, North America, South America, and West Africa was created to nominate and vet recipients of “The Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders Honor.” For the first edition of this book, 30 leaders were featured in detail and out of the 50 chapters of this 336 page book, one was devoted to each. Others chapters were devoted to one hundred other nominees whose contribution warranted their inclusion in this book.

The stories of these Leaders showcase the diversity, complexity, and richness of the ongoing global African Diaspora engagement efforts. Their experiences of struggle, failure, growth and success will motivate current and future generations of people of African descent to take initiative, provide guidance to those interested in Africa’s development, and promote interest in the growing field of diaspora engagement. The featured leaders are known for their long-lasting achievements. Their bold actions contributed to important historical movements that significantly shaped and transformed the lives and history of people of African descent and removed major roadblocks preventing the prosperity of Africa and its Diaspora. They have brought about enormous and rare progress that would have been impossible without their leadership, including economic and political development of Africa and its Diaspora. To get your copy of the book, please visit www.AfricanDiasporaLeaders.com/order

Dr. Roland Holou

Dr. Roland Holou

Some of the initiatives featured in the book include the African Union African Diaspora Sixth Region Initiative, Healthcare Reform in Africa, Pan-Africanism, Global Anti-Racism Initiatives, International Decade for People of African Descent, Implementation of the UN Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; the Commission on Reparations, the Hebrew Israelites, the Initiatives of the Central American Black Organization; the World Diaspora Fund For Development; the Projects of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century; the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe, the Pan-African Holiday Kwanzaa; the Educational Initiatives of Steve Biko Cultural Institute in Brazil, the Initiatives of DiasporaEngager concerning the Map of the Diaspora and their Stakeholders, the Diaspora Directory and the Global Diaspora Social Media Platform; the Initiatives of the African Diaspora in Australia and Asia Pacific; the AU Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus Organization in the USA; the “Taubira Law” Voted by the French Republic to Recognize that the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean are a Crime Against Humanity; The Global Movement for Reparatory Justice; the Ratification of the Article 3q of the AU Constitutive Act which “invites and encourages the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of Africa; the Economic Development for Black Empowerment in America and Europe; the African Diaspora Contribution to Democracy and Development in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America; the Initiatives of the Brazilian Association of Black Researchers; the Oprah Effect; the Promotion of the Black Population in Brazil; the Palmares Cultural Foundation in Brazil; the Celebrations of Zumbi dos Palmares in Brazil; the Caribbean Community [CARICOM] Commission on Reparation and Social Justice; the Initiatives of famous Prophet Shepherd Bushiri (Major1, the World’s Sharpest Major Prophet), and many initiatives in the USA, etc.

Some of the struggles still faced by the African Diaspora and discussed in the book relate to: Afrophobia, civil rights, denial of justice and devaluation of Black lives, education with curricula full of “lies” regarding history and history of scientific discoveries, healthcare problems, high rates of unemployment and imprisonment, housing problems, institutional racism and slavery, lack of access to good education and justice, media which persistently diffuse open racist stereotypes, multiple forms of discrimination, police violence, political and economic marginalization and stigmatization, poverty, racial discrimination, vulnerability to violence, xenophobia and related intolerance and discrimination. The book also addressed some of the strategical mistakes and divisions among the Continental African Diaspora and the Historical African Diaspora.

 

If you are interested in learning the secrets, agendas, strategies and potential of these modern leaders, then this is the book for you. Since influence can at times have negative effects, this book also addresses the destructive actions of certain leaders that are pulling down both Africa and its people. To learn more about the recipients, please visit www.AfricanDiasporaLeaders.com/recipient. Join the International Diaspora Engagement Social Media Platform today by creating a free account .

About the Author

Dr. Roland Holou is a scientist, businessman, and an international consultant in Agriculture/Agribusiness, Biotechnology, Diaspora Engagement, and Africa Development. He is the Founder and CEO of DiasporaEngager, www.DiasporaEngager.com and the architect of the map of Diaspora and their stakeholders . To learn more about him and contact him www.RolandHolou.com.

 

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The Africa We Want -The Leadership We Want! Where are the eagles?
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

We should not allow the chickens to lead the eagles even if the chickens convince themselves that they’re actually eagles!

 Yohannes Mezgebe


Yohannes Mezgebe

From 10 – 18 July 2016, African leaders will be meeting in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda for the 27thOrdinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU). A key highlight of the forthcoming summit will be the election of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC). The winner, he or she, will lead the continental body for the next four years, renewable once.

The AU was founded, as a premier continental institution for the promotion of accelerated socio-economic and political integration of the continent; not just as the level of countries or governments, but also by forging greater bonds amongst citizens of Africa.

To give expression to the above imperatives, the African Union Commission (AUC) of the AU is tasked to serve as the crucial administrative hub for driving and achieving the numerous mandates; including the implementation of Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. The Commission is, in particular, envisaged to be the key organ responsible for the day-to-day management of the affairs of the Union. It represents the Union; the yearnings and aspirations of member states, and also defends the continent’s collective interests. Alongside, it is expected to articulate and give concrete expression to the African common position, determine the strategic vision, plan and future horizons of the Union.

Whatever the AU has become today builds on the pioneering efforts of prominent sons and daughters of the continent; from His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Sellasie to Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Julius Nyerere, and Seiko Toure, to name a handful. These founding fathers, without an iota of doubts, had a clear vision; they could see far where the continent was heading, almost as if they had the power to look into the future. All of them, without exception, made their mark in the struggle for freedom and liberation. When three years ago, Africans celebrated the 50thAnniversary of the Organization of African Unity/AU, it was a milestone opportunity; both to celebrate but also begin to contemplate how to translate our collective dreams into concrete results to make Africa a better place for the present and future generations. The celebration was the beginning of a new phase in the collective journey, not its end.

Clearly, the AUC has generated considerable amount of momentum around African development and Integration issues. Yet, many of the ‘teething’ challenges the continent faced at inception continue to slow the pace; just as new ones have crept in. Most of today’s problems may be attributed to the slow progress made in the quest for unity and integration. At best, these have remained aspirational despite best of efforts. If 1963 the continent’s leaders were preoccupied with colonial and post-colonial struggles, and the consolidation of independence, nowadays, there are myriad new – no less daunting – realities.

Given the many challenges Africa faces now, the continent needs to have at the helm of the AUC a leaders with proven track records in dealing with Africa’s myriad problems: poverty, resource use, economic development, wealth sharing, peace and security, democracy, human rights, neo-colonialism, environmental protection, climate change and corruption. The list is far from exhaustive. The experience of the new AUC Chair as well as his or her unshakable determination to overcome the challenges – not merely deal with them – would be critical if the continent is to realize the vision of a united, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

 In today’s knowledge-driven world, the clarion call for visionary and committed leadership at the helm of the AUC is far greater than ever. The leader needed must be capable and willing to identify and tap into the pool of amazing talent of African citizens, starting with the team of talented staff of the Union; a growing number of whom risks drudgery and disillusionment with the status quo. The men and women who work at the Commission should be more than satisfied, they should be energized and passionate in what they do not the business-as-usual attitude that is so endemic now. The leader the Commission deserves must be one that leads by example and inspires. The right leader for the AUC must have a clarity of purpose working to achieve results, hand in hand, with broad constituencies of stakeholders: from the civil society to the private sector; from women’s group to youths’ movement.

Because the AU represents the hope of Africa and its peoples, it must care about the caliber of leaders who aspire to head the Commission. So, in Kigali this July 2016, when convening to elect the incoming Chair and leadership of the Commission, all eyes will be on the Heads of States and Governments to do what is right. They must put aside petty politics and permutations to decide what is best for the AUC and the continent. We stand at a crossroads: if Africa fails to make the right decision in electing the right leader the AUC deserves, the continent risks taking several fatal steps backwards.

Because it does not pay to allow chickens to lead the eagles even if the chickens convince themselves that they’re actually eagles, African citizens must demand a move from mediocrity to excellence. The incoming chairperson must not be determined by which region the candidate comes from but rather by his or her strength of character to lead.

Africa has had its faire share of failures over the years since 1960’s. It still carries old scars and new bruises, but it must look into the future with hope. In 50 years, the architects of Agenda 2063 and those currently tasked with its implementation might no longer be around given the mean life expectancy on the continent. This means, there will not be a united, prosperous and peaceful Africa unless the youth – the very people who will still be around in 50 years – is actively engaged in the process. The message of African youth calls for a different mindset, a different way of thinking, a different way of making decisions and acting. The choice before the Kigali conclave in July will be a tall one.

As they elect the right leader, they will have no better loyal partner than African citizens. They must deliver by all means; posterity will remember and not forgive them doing otherwise. As Frantz Fanon puts it perceptibly decades ago: “Each generation discovers its mission. It either achieves it or it betrays it”.

*Founder, Ubuntu Leadership Institute

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Family of American security contractor jailed in Congo pleads for his freedom
May 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

By MARGARET BRENNAN*

Congolese military and policemen surround Lewis' vehicle at political rally. OBTAINED BY JONES GROUP INTERNATIONAL

Congolese military and policemen surround Lewis’ vehicle at political rally. OBTAINED BY JONES GROUP INTERNATIONAL

Hundreds of police and military officers suddenly appeared at the rally in the southeast Congo city of Lumumbashi in late April, and the mood of the Congolese crowd swiftly shifted from celebration to tension. Caught in the middle of the mob were four American security contractors, including 48 year-old Darryl Lewis, a former U.S. airman-turned-security-adviser at the Virginia-based Jones Group, headed by Gen. Jim Jones (ret).

The crowd was right to be tense — without warning, authorities cracked down and began shooting tear gas and live ammunition at them. All the Americans fled to safety except Lewis, who was arrested. He has been stuck behind bars in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), ever since the rally. Now Lewis’ family and co-workers tell CBS News that his life is in danger, and for the first time they are speaking out in the hope it will help set him free.

Lewis has been accused by the DRC’s Justice Minister of being a mercenary sent to assassinate President Joseph Kabila. In a rare and direct statement on the case, the U.S. ambassador strongly refuted the claim as false and pointed out that Lewis was unarmed when he was arrested.

His employer Jones Group International, which is run by USMC General Jim Jones (ret), also shot down those claims. Indeed, the accusation that a firm run by Jones — a four star general, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, and national security adviser to President Obama — would possibly be part of a broader conspiracy to overthrow Kabila was met with deep skepticism by many in Washington.

For his family, Lewis’ arrest is the latest blow in an already tough year. His mother recently had a stroke and has been in and out of the hospital. Prostate cancer killed his older brother two weeks ago. Younger sister Tonya Lewis said she asked the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa to let Darryl Lewis know through a consular official during a scheduled prison visit.

“We just want him to come home so that my mother can see her son and the family can join back together,” Tonya Lewis told CBS News by phone from her Mississippi home. “We just want him safe and healthy. We don’t really care about what he’s charged with.”

It has become clear to many that Lewis has been entangled in a brutal struggle for power inside the DRC because of the work he was doing for popular opposition politician Moise Katumbi. Chris Adames, a former U.S. Marine and one of the Jones Group advisers working with Lewis in the DRC, explained their mission in a phone interview.

Katumbi had recently faced death threats, Adames said, including one instance late last year when he was poisoned. Now preparing for a presidential run that would make raise his profile further as a target, Katumbi hired Jones to advise his bodyguards on how to tighten his personal security.

Due to the death threats, the Jones Group team members were there to assess his bodyguards in action.

“We observe and report and if the situation calls for it we can suggest changes,” Adames said. “We are not permitted to bear arms. And our role didn’t call for it.”

Tear gas sprayed at Congo rally where Darryl Lewis was arrested. OBTAINED BY JONES GROUP INTERNATIONAL

Tear gas sprayed at Congo rally where Darryl Lewis was arrested. OBTAINED BY JONES GROUP INTERNATIONAL

On the day of the arrest, Lewis had been seated inside a black SUV belonging to Katumbi. Using cell phones and communications gear, he kept in touch with the guards surrounding Katumbi as the politician prepared to address the rally. Adames said he then saw Congolese military and policemen surround the vehicle.

“He was doing nothing. There is no evidence that we was doing anything other than riding as a vehicle identified as Katumbi’s vehicle,” Adames said.

Lewis, he said, has become a political pawn because he was working with the politician who poses the single greatest threat to President Joseph Kabila’s reelection, if elections are held this fall, as scheduled. By linking Katumbi to a trumped-up conspiracy plot, Adames maintains, Kabila would essentially neutralize him as a political threat.

“He’s trying to prevent Katumbi from running,” Adames claimed.

On Thursday, an arrest warrant was issued for Katumbi following his indictment on charges of hiring mercenaries as part of a plot against Kabila, according to a DRC government spokesperson. He has been in the hospital for nearly a week since police fired tear gas at him outside the prosecutor’s office where his case was being heard. At the time, Katumbi denied accusations made by Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba that he had hired Lewis and the other ex-U.S. soldiers as so-called mercenaries.

Back in Washington, the State Department has been watching the case and regularly sending U.S. Embassy officials to the prison to make sure that Lewis is not being tortured during his interrogations. It is not clear whether Lewis will face any charges or see a day in court.

Fair treatment in the DRC is something of an oxymoron. Indeed, high-level U.S. officials are also concerned that Kabila is looking for any excuse not to hold the constitutionally mandated elections. Secretary of State John Kerry recently warned Kabila that there would be consequences if he used force to suppress public outcry and extend his term.

DRC elections are scheduled for November, but little effort has been made even to register voters. The country has between 72 – 80 million people but has not had a census in decades. Congo is also unaccustomed to transitions. Kabila, if he’s unseated, would be the first president not to die in office.

President Obama has personally urged Kabila to hold the elections, though his entreaty may have fallen on deaf ears. A high-level State Department official, Assistant Secretary Greenfield, told Congress last week that the U.S. is already preparing sanctions, in anticipation of the Kabila regime’s efforts to suppress the elections, causing further destabilization to a country long wracked by war.

*Culled from CBS

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Has Barack Obama Disappointed Africans?
May 19, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY *

President Obama speaking at a YALI event in 2015.

President Obama speaking at a YALI event in 2015.

Under the terms of the 20th Amendment, U.S. President Barack Obama’s second term as president of the most powerful country in the world ends at noon on January 20, 2017. By this time, one of the main challengers to the “throne” (Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump) will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. But the question on the mind of several observers, particularly in Africa, is whether Obama’s presidency as “son of the soil” yielded any fruit for Africans?

It is instructive to note that the whole of Africa was on the edge in 2008, when Obama won the nomination of the Democratic Party. I remember abandoning classes to watch his speeches and campaigns live on DSTV. At the time, his story was a great motivation for a lot of us African youth that whatever you set your mind on, if you continue working consistently at it, you can achieve it.

Not since the times of the legendary Socrates,Cicero, or Abraham Lincoln had the world seen a more charismatic, powerful speaker, and intelligent leader. For me, there’s no one that can be compared with President Obama in local or international politics. And with the fact that he is a Kenyan biologically, I thought, like many others, that Africa will develop dramatically this time round.

But my expectation was dashed.

During his first term in office, Obama’s engagement with Africa was almost zero. To be fair to him, the whole world was undergoing economic depression when he became the president so he concentrated more on strengthening America’s economy and creating jobs. The stimulus package and other policies promoted were pointers to this fact. Although he traveled to some countries in Africa, it was all talk and less action. But during his second term in office, he was able to muster the courage to get some things done.

Some of the accomplishments President Obama achieved, according to the White House, included the strengthening of democratic institutions in Cote d’ Ivoire, Kenya, Sudan, and more. The administration also supported regional efforts to help countries affected by terrorist groups; launched the Feed the Future Initiative to address root causes of hunger and poverty; responded to humanitarian crises and disasters; promoted trade and investment; launched the Global Climate Change Initiative; Power Africa Initiative; Global Health Initiative; strengthened theAfrican Growth and Opportunity Act; introduced new U.S. initiatives to boost trade and investment opportunities for the least developed countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, among others.

The achievement I found very unique, distinguished, and noble is the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Started in 2010, the program seeks to provide tools to support leadership development, promote entrepreneurship, and connect young leaders with one another and the United States.

Since the program started, more than 2,000 young Africans have been trained in these areas. I have argued in other platforms that until the youths in Africa are trained and prepared to take over the reins of government in the next generation, Africa’s future looks not only bleak but also unsustainable.

President Obama Greets Residents of Gorée Island. (Photo credit: whitehouse.gov)

President Obama Greets Residents of Gorée Island. (Photo credit: whitehouse.gov)

This is because youths all over Africa are more interested in their survival only, so they continue to struggle for life. They are far removed from their country’s governance, welfare, or well-being due to the socio-political and economic conditions in several countries on the continent. Thus, if the youth get into leadership unprepared, then Africa is done for.

Unfortunately, considering the large population of youth throughout Africa, which is the largest in the world, the number of youth trained so far in the program is negligible.

It has been said that Obama’s African legacy cannot be compared with that of his predecessor or even former President Bill Clinton who remains a popular figure in Africa. Obama’s last trip to Africa (possibly his last) is nothing compared to the warm welcome received by George W. Bush on his final trip to Africa.

George Bush was treated like a hero. Apart from fighting terrorism across the African region, he fought the HIV/AIDS scourge on the continent like no one, reauthorized the African Growth and Opportunity Act as well as designed the Millennium Challenge Corp. to fight poverty on the continent. As argued by Hussein Hassen in his article “Washington’s Engagement with the Continent Continues To Prioritize Security Over Human Rights and Economic Partnership,” Obama’s two main pet projects (Power Africa and YALI) do not measure up to his predecessor’s bold initiatives. During Obama’s tenure, South Sudan, Libya, and the Central African Republic have become failed states.

What is noticeable is that Obama’s popularity in Africa has diminished. Who talks about him these days?

Still, African leaders as well as her citizens need to realize that no power or force in the world can aid them to development until they themselves show their determination to do so.

Senator Obama, in 2006, visiting his Kenyan family. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Senator Obama, in 2006, visiting his Kenyan family. (Photo credit: Reuters)

African leaders are always looking for some foreign aid, a foreign intervention, or a foreign development model, but the sincerity of the most altruistic foreign leader can never spur any country to development until African leaders themselves drive such vision with ruthless determination.

Whatever Barack Obama has done or not done is left for historians to reconstruct. It is unfair to say he does not cherish Africa or his roots because he does. But it is also unfair to say he helped Africa more than any U.S. president in recent history.

I wish him a wonderful retirement from office in advance.

*Source F2AF

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AGAINST ALL ODDS : HOW TO STAY ON TOP OF THE GAME-Angelle Kwemo shares tips in new book
May 17, 2016 | 0 Comments
Angelle Kwemo

Angelle Kwemo

International Business Strategist, Attorney and Author, Angelle B. Kwemo shares her journey while outlining the steps anyone can take to achieve ultimate success in every area of their lives.

 

AGAINST ALL ODDS

HOW TO STAY ON TOP OF THE GAME

By Angelle B. Kwemo

On Sale NOW

 “You Must Act As If It Is Impossible To Fail” ~ Ashanti

 The Oracle Group International is thrilled to announce the publication of AGAINST ALL ODDS: How to Stay On Top of The Game (Paperback; On Sale Now; $14.99; ISBN: 9781483441566) by award winning international business, political consultant and entrepreneur Angelle Kwemo, CEO of Astrategik Group and Founder of Believe in Africa. A lifetime in the making, Angelle provides readers with a clear and practical blueprint for personal and professional success, while sharing her amazing journey from childhood in Cameroon to become a globally respected government policy and international trade strategist.

41-KhhxmuRL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_AGAINST ALL ODDS is the captivating story of one woman’s determination to pursue her passion and aspirations while defying self-limitation and status quo. Angelle Kwemo, who is proud to be an African woman, followed her dreams, ignored the ridicule, and fought aggressively to seize every opportunity that presented itself to her.  Today, Angelle is one of the worlds most sought after government relations and international trade advisory strategists. She advises multi dimensional entities on such matters as how to compete globally and build inroads into the United States, Africa, and other emerging markets. Angelle has lectured at Universities and Conferences around the globe, teaching techniques and strategies on how to successfully navigate into the international marketplace along with the art of remaining competitive.

So what does it take to build the courage to follow your vision, overcome challenges and be relentless in the pursuit of your dreams? Angelle will tell you. Presented here is Angelle Kwemo’s unique blueprint on how to become non-negotiable about your goals and eliminate those toxic behaviors that could potentially impede all efforts towards the attainment of success. To assist in the accomplishment of the aforementioned feat, Angelle utilizes AGAINST ALL ODDS to offer provocative lessons, real-life case studies, and proven strategies of risk and reward that are designed to help pave your own-chartered course of success and live a life of richness.

This story is for all people of race, color, and color, but not for the light of heart, I think its important to share how I shaped my vision, developed endurance, over came the challenges, and became relentless in the pursuit of my dreams”, says Ms. Kwemo, “Life is like a game, having different levels of championship to grow and evolve, this manual will help you stay on top of your game and overcome life’s challenges at every stage of your career”. 

   ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angelle Kwemo in a file picture with Congressman Bobby Rush, John Kufuor former President of Ghana and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria

Angelle Kwemo in a file picture with Congressman Bobby Rush, John Kufuor former President of Ghana and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria

Angelle Kwemo is Founder & Chair of Believe in Africa advocating for empowering the African private sector, women and youth. She is President & CEO of AstrategiKGroup, a firm that provides government relations, international trade advisory and strategic advice to multi-dimensional entities, allowing them to compete globally and build inroads into the United States, Africa and other emerging markets. A native of Cameroon, she started her career in France at Bestaux Law firm.  In Douala, Cameroon, as one of the youngest executives, she served as the Chief of the Maritime Claims and Disputes Department, and later as the General Counsel for Bollore Technology Group and Geodis Overseas, one of the largest French investors in West Africa. She moved to the United States in 2001 where her determination landed her job in U.S. Congress where she worked for 8 years.

AGAINST ALL ODDS BY ANGELLE KWEMO

May 25, 2016; $14.99

Lulu Publishing, Inc.

ISBN #: 9781483441566

eBook ISBN #: 9781483441573

 

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Yahsat and Tele10 Enter MOU to Discuss Opportunities for Yahclick in Rwanda, Burundi and East DRC
May 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

YahClick, the number one satellite broadband service in Africa, to expand to 19 African countries with the launch of Al Yah 3 satellite

image001 (7)UAE-based satellite operator, Yahsat , signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tele10 Group, the regional broadcast and internet service provider, to discuss collaborations for improving internet connectivity in Rwanda, Burundi and East Democratic Republic of the Congo. The MoU comes ahead of Yahsat taking delivery of its third satellite, Al Yah 3.

The launch of Yahsat’s upcoming satellite will see the roll out of YahClick, the company’s cost-effective satellite broadband service, to 19 new markets in Africa during the first half of 2017. YahClick, delivered through a modem and small satellite dish, is currently the number one satellite broadband service in Africa, providing subscribers access to uninterrupted, high-speed internet anywhere in the coverage area with in-country technical, operational, and customer care services. As Yahsat works towards expanding its coverage area across the African continent, the company is in talks with local service providers to reinforce the presence of YahClick and strengthen its customer care.

Commenting on the MoU, David Murphy, Yahsat’s Chief Commercial Officer, said, “Our cutting edge satellite technology connects individuals and businesses across Africa, regardless of the level of telecommunications infrastructure present in each country. At Yahsat, we are dedicated to serving underserved and remote areas by providing better connectivity to new and existing internet users. To further our commitment to the region, we have entered an MoU with Tele10 to discuss the provision of high-speed connectivity to three of Africa’s fast-emerging markets, Rwanda, Burundi and East Democratic Republic of the Congo. We look forward to working together and providing unparalleled broadband services to our customers across our expanding footprint.”

Tele10 has been serving the East African region for 20 years, by providing diverse solutions including pay-TV, radio broadcasting, and ICT services. In 2017, the company will grow its portfolio to offer the YahClick broadband products, services and value-added solutions to its existing customer base as well as new customers. New markets will be served using the latest Ka-band technology, which is highly reliable in all weather conditions.

Tele10 Group’s CEO said, “In this era of digital migration across the African continent, where several technologies such as 3/4G, hotspots, fibre and others are struggling to win the market, we are confident that YahClick will definitely give us a serious competitive advantage against other players in the region and make us lead the Internet industry.”

Murphy concluded: “Today, internet plays a crucial role in socio-economic development as it facilitates education, trade, commerce, and agricultural activities. By providing the YahClick service to growing economies, we ensure the delivery of unmatched connectivity to support knowledge transfer and consequently, regional development.”

 

Yahsat  provides multipurpose satellite solutions (government and commercial) for broadband, broadcast, government, and communications use across the Middle East, Africa, and Europe in addition to Central and South West Asia. Based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and wholly owned by Mubadala Development Company , the investment vehicle of the Government of Abu Dhabi, Yahsat is the first company in the Middle East and Africa to offer multi-purpose ka-band satellite services including:

  • YahClick – offers broadband satellite solutions for home and business
  • YahService – offers managed solutions and government capacity
  • YahLink – offers IP trunking solutions, corporate networking and backhauling capacity
  • Yahlive – a joint venture between Yahsat and SES, offers premium services to broadcasters and a select choice of TV channels

Yahsat’s first satellite Y1A was successfully launched in April 2011, and the company’s second satellite Y1B was successfully launched in April 2012. Yahsat has announced the manufacturing of its third satellite, Al Yah 3, planned for launch in early 2017, extending their commercial Ka-band coverage to an additional 20 markets reaching 60% of Africa’s population and over 95% of Brazil’s population, marking the company’s first entry in to Brazil.
About Tele10

Incorporated in 1993 in Burundi, TELE-10 started as a pay-tv company, transmitting international TV programming in a UHF analog system, through main Burundi city.

TELE-10 Group of companies is principally a pay-tv operator and an ISP company that aims to provide high-level expertise in TV and ISP industries using diversified implementation strategies.

The Company facilitates the acquisition of hardware and software, value addition, consultancy services.

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Ecobank Group Appoints Amin Manekia as Group Exec, Corporate & Investment Banking
May 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

Mr Manekia was most recently with Citigroup, where he spent 25 years of his career

ecobankb (1)Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) , parent company of the Ecobank Group, today announced the appointment of Mr Amin Manekia as Group Executive of its Corporate & Investment Banking business. Mr Manekia steps into the position vacated in late 2015 by Mr Charles Kié, who moved to become Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria.

A national of Pakistan, Amin Manekia joins Ecobank with 28 years of international corporate banking experience. It includes an excellent grounding in transaction banking, commercial banking, credit risk and general management. His career spans various business and regional leadership roles across different parts of the world, notably  the United States, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Mr Manekia was most recently with Citigroup, where he spent 25 years of his career. He joined Citigroup directly from university in the United States in 1988, moving to South Africa earlier this year as Managing Director and Africa Head for Citi Securities & Banking. In this role, he successfully led Citibank’s Institutional Clients business.

Before his move to South Africa, Mr Manekia spent two transit years at the Samba Financial Group in Saudi Arabia. There, he was the executive responsible for rebuilding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s corporate banking portfolio following the financial crisis. Prior to this, he held various positions with Citibank in different  businesses and regions. These included his Nairobi-based role as Managing Director & Banking Head for East and Southern Africa, with business management responsibilities for corporate banking for that region. In 2007, he was the Commercial Banking Head across Citibank’s Africa platform.

As Citibank Country Head for Bulgaria from 2004 to 2007, Mr Manekia successfully led the execution and development of a transformation strategy, which he achieved by quadrupling the bank’s business revenue base within his three-year tenure. In 1993, he relocated from New York to Pakistan, where he worked on  the origination side of the business. During his six-year tenure in Pakistan, he held a series of corporate banking roles in Karachi and Lahore.

Mr Manekia’s appointment as Group Executive of Ecobank’s Corporate and Investment Banking business takes effect from 4 July 2016. He will report directly to the Ecobank Group CEO and be responsible for the following business lines: Corporate Banking Group; Transaction Service Group; Investment Banking Group; Fixed Income, Currencies & Commodities (Treasury); and Securities, Wealth and Asset Management.

Incorporated in Lomé, Togo, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) (www.Ecobank.com) is the parent company of the leading independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank. It currently has a presence in 36 African countries: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Group employs over 20,000 people in 40 different countries in over 1,200 branches and offices. Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals. More information can be found on the Group’s website: ecobank.com or on Twitter: @GroupEcobank

*Ecobank/APO

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Moïse Katumbi and the Congo’s race for the presidency
May 12, 2016 | 0 Comments
 The influential businessman and former governor of Katanga has taken an early lead in an aggressive race, but has he made his move too early?
Could this be the DRC’s next president? Credit: Radio Okapi.

Could this be the DRC’s next president? Credit: Radio Okapi.

Moïse Katumbi has had an eventful and emotional few days since he declared his intention to run for president. On 4 May, the former governor of Katanga announced his candidacy on Twitter, and the next day found his house surrounded by police. Katumbi’s arrest seemed imminent, but eventually the police left their positions under pressure from MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The presidential elections for which Katumbi intends to run are scheduled for 27 November, but it is doubtful whether they will actually take place. At this point, not many people believe that credible elections can be organised within the constitutional delays.

There are several reasons for this, but the most important is that the government has systematically withheld the funds needed by the electoral commission to organise the various phases of the process. This could be seen as a symptom of the government’s lack of ownership over its own elections, but it is actually closer to a boycott.

Over the last couple of years, the government has attempted several times to create the conditions to prolong the reign of President Joseph Kabila beyond the stipulated constitutional limit. In September 2014, for instance, Speaker of the National Assembly Aubin Minaku tried but proved unable to change the constitution. Then, in January 2015, the government again tried but failed to pass a new electoral law that would have delayed the elections by several years.

The only strategy that has worked so far is le glissement (‘slippage’) – that is to say, delaying the elections due to the government’s position that it is not possible financially or technically to organise them in time. Remaining in power by simply not organising elections.

Crystalising or cracking?

It has become clear since around 2014, however, that Kabila has had difficulties in maintaining the superficial unity among the informal networks and interest groups that make up his regime. And particularly since September 2015, Kabila’s Majorité Présidentielle has been in a state of disarray.

That month, seven senior political figures – known as the G7 – were expelled from the ruling coalition after calling on the president not to cling onto power. Then, shortly after, the influential Katumbi announced his resignation from the ruling PPRD party. Meanwhile, anti-Kabila sentiment continued to grow in Katanga and Kabila’s relationships within his inner circle of power remained poor.

By the end of 2015, the possibility of this growing opposition managing to work together in a solid constellation was looking hopeful.  And different rapprochements between Kabila’s opponents crystalised in mid-December with the creation of the Front Citoyen 2016.

Nevertheless, the opposition is frequently targeted by the regime and subject to attempts to fragment the parties from within.

Amongst the opposition, Moïse Katumbi has increasingly been seen as the best placed challenger to Kabila since around 2014. As governor of Katanga from 2008 until 2015, when the province was dissolved, he was seen as successful and popular; he has built an economic empire as a businessman; and his looks, communication skills and money contribute to his ability to mobilise large crowds in what was formerly Katanga and beyond.

However, not everything is in his favour. It is not obvious that the Congolese electorate will want a third consecutive president whose roots are in Katanga; Katumbi’s wealth and the way he acquired it make him vulnerable to allegations and potential court cases; and the business community in the town of Lubumbashi not only complains that he is greedy but claims he used his political mandate to expand his economic empire.

Furthermore, Katumbi is still somewhat of an outsider when it comes to national politics. He has yet to prove he has the political skills and nerves of steel necessary to set up and lead the broad coalition it would take to really challenge Kabila (or his crown prince if he were to appoint one).

As it stands then, both the current regime and opposition fail to fully convince. Important politicians have left the ruling majority, others are suspected to be preparing their departures, while many of those who remain are competing with each other with impressive zeal.

The hardliners of the regime perhaps have the advantage currently, which is palpable in its public statements, in the media and in the growing repression of opposition leaders, dissidents and other critics, including in civil society and the press.

The opposition meanwhile still has to show it can make a difference and come forward with a coherent political constellation, centred around in a single candidacy. In December 2015, the Front Citoyen 2016 was established as a broad coalition for the respect of the Constitution, but for now the main merit of the group is the fact that it exists.

It does not have much of an active institutional life and strategic thinking is still being done in the headquarters of different opposition parties. Above all though, the opposition has yet to demonstrate a vision – a plan explaining what they will do in power if they obtain it.

Jostling for position

At present, the political scene in Congo resembles a cycling peloton as the racers prepare for the sprint finish: hectic, fast, and with an awful lot of shoving. Everyone wants to position themselves as well as possible for the final straight, though whether the finish line is where it is meant to be – or whether it will be pushed back and back – remains to be seen.

In this jostling for position, Katumbi may find that he has taken the lead of the pack too early. The irritated reactions of fellow opposition leaders Vital Kamerhe and Félix Tshisekedi point in that direction. Meanwhile, taking pole position also means that Katumbi may have to deal with strongest headwinds of repression.

Indeed, on the very day Katumbi announced his candidacy, Congo’s justice minister announced an investigation into allegations that the opposition politician has recruited mercenaries, an accusation many believe is politically motivated. Furthermore, Human Rights Watch has reported that at least 27 of Katumbi’s allies were arrested in and around Lubumbashi between 22 April and 7 May.

“The recent developments in Lubumbashi come in the context of a broader crackdown against activists, opposition party members and others who have urged that presidential elections be organized according to the constitutional timetable”, said the organisation.

What will happen next in this complex competition for power is difficult to predict, but one thing that is certain is that the race is just getting started.

* African Arguments.Kris Berwouts (Gent, 1963) has worked for a number of different Belgian and international NGOs over the past 25 years, focused on building peace, reconciliation, security and democratic processes. Since 2012, he has worked as an independent expert and writer on Central Africa.

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NDI’s Chris Fomunyoh to Capitol Hill: Democratic governance is critical to counterterrorism strategy
May 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L.

Dr Chris Fomunyoh

Dr Chris Fomunyoh

As African countries battle with the threats of terrorism, the international community should be cautious of giving dictators a free pass just because of their engagement in the fight says Dr Chris Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute.

On Capitol Hill to discuss Terrorism and Instability in Sub-Saharan Africa, Fomunyoh told a Senate Hearing on May 10, 2016, that democracy and good governance must be a fundamental part of any successful counter terrorism strategy.

“Africans of this generation are jittery and extremely fearful of reliving the experience of the Cold War era during which dictatorships thrived amidst grave human deprivation and gross human rights abuses just because some leaders were allies of the West at the time,” said Fomunyoh, who has used the NDI platform to facilitate the emergence of several democracies in Africa.

“The fight against terrorism should not become a substitute for the Cold War paradigm of this century with regards to sub-Saharan Africa,” Fomunyoh said, as he cautioned the international community against giving autocratic regimes a pass just because there are partners in the fight against terrorism.

In the recommendations made to the U.S Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Fomunyoh said successful counter terrorism strategies must be grounded in the consolidation of democracy and good governance for short term military victories to be sustained in the medium and long term.

“Shrinking political space, frequent and overt violations of citizen rights and freedoms, and the undermining of constitutional rule and meaningful elections breed discontent and disaffection that form the fertile ground for recruiters and perpetrators of violence and extremism,” Fomunyoh told the Committee Chaired by  Sen .Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)

Good partners in countering violent extremism and terrorism should match that with good performances in democratic governance, Fomunyoh said, while recommending that governments need encouragement to invest in rehabilitating communities and creating structures that eliminate conditions that breed the rise of terrorism.

Paying a courtesy call to President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso, Fomunyoh told the US.Senate that young but fragile democracies must be supported

Paying a courtesy call to President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso, Fomunyoh told the US.Senate that young but fragile democracies must be supported

“Consolidation of democracy should be approached as a long-term process that requires consistent and continued support with mechanisms to reward or incentivize good behavior and penalize poor performance,” Fomunyoh said in making the case for more assistance towards supporting young democracies with weak political institutions.

Supporting the argument of Nicholas Kristof that education can be more effective in combatting militancy than military intervention, Fomunyoh told the Senate Hearing that more investment was needed in education to give young people more opportunities.

“Friends of Africa must make sure that they do not, willingly or inadvertently, allow themselves to become accomplices in denying Africans their basic rights and freedoms and a secure, prosperous future,” he concluded.

Accompanying Dr Fomunyoh on the second panel of the hearing was Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa United Nations Development Program.

The Senate was the first in a two day Capitol Hill blitz for Fomunyoh, who also appeared before a Congressional Hearing to discuss The U.S Role in Helping Nigeria Confront Boko Haram, and other Threats in Northern Nigeria.

 

 

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How to steal from Africa, all perfectly legally
May 7, 2016 | 1 Comments

When UK PM David Cameron opens the Anti-Corruption Summit on 12 May, we should be aware that the greatest fraud perpetrated on the majority of the world’s citizens is all perfectly legal.

by *

The City of London, arguably the heart and headquarters of a international network of tax havens. Credit: Michael Garnett.

The City of London, arguably the heart and headquarters of a international network of tax havens. Credit: Michael Garnett.

Africa loses at least $50 billion a year — and probably much, much more than that — perfectly lawfully. About 60% of this loss is from aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, which organise their accounts so that they make their profits in tax havens, where they pay little or no tax. Much of the remainder is from organised crime with a smaller amount from corruption. This was the headline finding of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, headed by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, a year ago.

This amount is the same or smaller than international development assistance ($52 billion per year) or remittances ($62 billion). If we take the accumulated stock of these illicit financial flows since 1970 and factor in the returns on this capital, Africa has provided the rest of the world with $1.7 trillion, at a conservative estimate. Africa is a capital exporter.

The rest of the world didn’t take much notice of the Mbeki Panel’s findings until the Panama Papers revealed the extent to which this is just part of a global phenomenon. The rich aren’t being taxed. The rest of us pay for everything.

The OECD calls the phenomenon ‘base erosion’ (referring to the emasculation of the tax base of the affected countries) and ‘profit shifting’. The beneficiaries are a small fraction of the world’s wealthiest 1%, and the secrecy jurisdictions (aka tax havens) where they sequester their money. These locations include the City of London, numerous British overseas territories, Switzerland, and new entrants to the global business of looking after the monies of the hyper-wealthy and ordinarily wealthy, who would prefer not to pay tax. Countries including Mauritius, the Seychelles, Botswana and Ghana are seeking to enter this competition.

And the vast majority of this is perfectly legal.

Accountants’ alchemy

Two hundred years ago, the slave trade was legal. One hundred years ago, colonial occupation and exploitation were legal. This time the legal immiseration is done by accountants.

This dimension of unethical financial activity isn’t captured by Transparency International (TI) and its Corruption Perceptions Index. That index is, as it says, a measurement ofperceptions. But of what andby whom? As the UN Economic Commission for Africa recently observed, it relies on asking key power players in a nation’s economy what they think of the level of corruption. Many of those are foreign investors. Using this approach a country like Zambia will unsurprisingly tend to rank high on corruption – 76 worst out of 168. Meanwhile, Switzerland will rank low – 7th.

But the perfectly legal transfer of the wealth of Africa to Europe isn’t captured by this index. As TI notes, “Many ‘clean’ countries have dodgy overseas records”. Consider this: the number one destination for Zambian copper exports is Switzerland, which in 2014 accounted for 59.5% of the country’s copper exports. Yet Switzerland’s own imports that year scarcely contained any mention of copper at all. Had the African country’s main exports just vanished into thin air? The 2015 figures suggest that in fact much of these exports were destined for China (31%), though Switzerland remained the number one destination (34%).

The answer to where the money goes lies in accountants’ alchemy. International corporations present their books in such a way that they pay as little tax as possible in either Zambia or China. And they don’t pay much in Switzerland either – because the Swiss don’t demand it.

Suddenly the ranking of Switzerland, 69 places ahead of Zambia in the honesty league, looks a bit suspect. But of course it’s all perfectly legal.

From Zambia’s point of view, what counts as corruption is defined by the rich and powerful. When their country is robbed blind by clever accounting tricks, against which their government and people have no recourse, it is just the operation of a free market controlled – as free markets so often are – by corporations that have enough power to set the rules.

Political money in a political marketplace

Another little noticed but significant feature of illicit financial flows from Africa is that there are occasional reverse flows. The movements back into African countries aren’t as big as the outflows, but they are important. What is happening here is “round-tripping”: spiriting funds away to a safe place so they can be brought back, with their origins unexplained, and no questions needing to be asked.

The same multinational corporation that is defrauding an African country can pay money into the offshore account of one of its political leaders. Or that leader can whisk funds away by other means. Our main concern here isn’t the money invested in real estate in France, yachts, fast cars, or foreign business ventures. These are personal insurance policies in case things go wrong at home, or tickets to the global elite club. Rather, our concern is the cash kept liquid, to be brought back home when needed – the money brought back to fix elections, buy loyalties and, in sundry other ways, secure leaders in power. These are political budgets par excellence: the funds used for discretionary political purposes by political business operators.

In the United States, almost any kind of political funding you can think of can be done in a perfectly legal manner, given a smart enough accountant and lawyer. Political Action Committees can spend as much money as they like in support of a candidate. Campaign finance is essentially without a ceiling.

In Africa, political finance laws range from lax to non-existent. Spending vast amounts of money on winning political office – or staying in office – offends no law. The monetisation of politics is one of the biggest transformations in African political life of the last 30 years. It is generating vast inequalities, consolidating a political-commercial elite which has a near-monopoly on government office, fusing corporate business with state authority, and making public life subject to the laws of supply and demand. Political markets are putting state-building into reverse gear, transforming peace-making into a continual struggle against a tide of mercenarised violence, and – most perniciously – turning elections into an auction of loyalties.

Political money is discrediting democracy. Some of the transactions that constitute Africa’s political markets are blatantly corrupt, but many are simply the routine functioning of political systems based on the exchange of political services for material reward.

Yes, there is corruption in Africa, just as there is corruption in international trade and finance. But when Prime Minister David Cameron opens the Anti-Corruption Summit next week on 12 May, we should be aware that the greatest fraud perpetrated on the majority of the world’s citizens – notably those living in Africa – is all perfectly legal.

*Source African Arguments.Alex de Waal is the Director of the World Peace Foundation. 

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WHO IS MOISE KATUMBI, CONGO’S FOOTBALL CHIEF CHALLENGING JOSEPH KABILA?
May 6, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY *

Congolese politician and football club owner Moise Katumbi, pictured attending a match of his club TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi on November 8, wants to replace Joseph Kabila as president this November. JUNIOR KANNAH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Congolese politician and football club owner Moise Katumbi, pictured attending a match of his club TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi on November 8, wants to replace Joseph Kabila as president this November.
JUNIOR KANNAH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The president of a football club that has won Africa’s Champions League five times. The former governor of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) wealthiest region. An ex-ally of controversial DRC President Joseph Kabila.

Moise Katumbi holds a multitude of roles within one of Africa’s largest and most complicated countries. Now, he is hoping to add DRC President to his list of titles.

Katumbi announced his candidacy on Wednesday for presidential elections due to be held in November having already received the support of three opposition movements in the country—the G7, the Collectif des Nationalistes and the Alternance pour la République 2016. “I sincerely thank these political movements, as well as all civil society, for the trust they have placed in me. I accept their nomination with humility and a sense of deep responsibility,” said Katumbi from his base in DRC’s second city Lubumbashi, in an emailed statement.

Described as Congo’s “most popular man,” Katumbi served as a close ally of Kabila for eight years between 2007 and 2015 as the governor of Katanga province, a region in southeastern DRC that is rich in minerals including cobalt and copper, as well as diamonds. Katumbi was a popular governor in Katanga—a region the size of Spain—rebuilding around 30 percent of the province’s roads and increasing access to running water exponentially among the population. Come September 2015, however, Katumbi announced he was resigning his position and leaving Kabila’s party, the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy, accusing the president of attempting to delay the 2016 elections.

Since then, Katumbi has been vociferous in his calls for Kabila to honor the constitution and step down at the end of his second five-year mandate in November. The DRC president has actually been in power since 2001, taking over after his father Laurent Kabila was assassinated. While Kabila has not publicly confirmed he will attempt to run again or amend the constitution, Congolese opposition activists have seen signs of what they term glissement, or the “slippage” of election dates as the president prepares to launch a third-term bid. In January, DRC’s electoral commission said it would take at least 13 months to update voter lists, pushing the elections back from their scheduled date. Katumbi has rejected the proposed delay, co-founding an opposition coalitioncalled the Citizen Front that has demanded elections proceed as scheduled.

Much of Katumbi’s popularity is derived from his position as chairman of TP Mazembe, a Congolese football club that is one of Africa’s most successful teams ever. As well as winning a slew of national titles and the African Champions League, the club became the first from outside of Europe or South America to reach the FIFA Club World Cup Final in 2010, where they were ultimately defeated by Italian giants Inter Milan.

Should he ultimately succeed in his challenge to Kabila, however, DRC would not be getting a president without controversy. Katumbi has had to consistently deny accusations that he misused his position in Katanga to benefit his club—specifically, that a mining company made tax-deductible “voluntary social payments” totaling almost $2 million to the football club.

On Wednesday, the Congolese government also initiated an investigation into Katumbi’s alleged recruitment of mercenaries in his private bodyguard. Congolese Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba announced that the government had “documented evidence” of former U.S. soldiers being employed by Katumbi, and the allegations follow the arrest of four relatives of Katumbi in Lubumbashi in April. Katumbi decried the allegations as “low manoeuvres” that would not deter him from his candidacy. “I will be the rule of law’s candidate,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

Over the coming months, Katumbi intends to try and attract further support from other opposition parties in DRC, including the Union for Democracy and Social Progress led by Etienne Tshisekedi, who came second to Kabila at the last election in 2011. Katumbi will be hoping that, as the elections approach, his proficiency in the sporting arena will translate into an effective presidential campaign.

*Source Newsweek

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US$7 Million Prize to Fund African Renewable Energy Projects
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

Calling all entrepreneurs and developers of renewable energy projects in Africa

  • Just three weeks left for entrepreneurs to enter the ACF competition which will see developers across the continent compete for funding and expertise
  • Calling all entrepreneurs and developers of renewable energy projects in Africa

Access Power , a developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today kicked off the countdown for applications to the ACF 2016, the second edition of its successful Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) for renewable energy projects in Africa.

eef1acfb29c60dcRenewable energy developers have less than one month left to submit their applications for a chance to win US$7million in ACF prize funding. The deadline for applications is the 20st May 2016.

ACF 2016 is a competition dedicated to finding local power project developers with credible renewable energy projects in Africa who need access to funding, technical experience, and expertise to bring their plans to life.

Following the competition’s successful launch last year, the ACF increased its funding from US$5m in 2015 to US$7m for this year’s winners.  Up to three successful projects will be selected by a panel of expert judges whose decision will be based on commercial, technical and environmental merits, the local regulatory environment, and capability of the project team.

The winners of ACF 2016 will be announced on Tuesday 22nd June 2016 before a live audience during the Africa Energy Forum in London  (see Notes to Editors for further details). The winners will enter a Joint Development Agreement with Access Power, which will take an equity stake in the winning projects and fund third-party development costs such as feasibility studies, grid studies, environmental and social impact assessments and due diligence fees.  Access Power will also provide technical support, financial structuring and development process management.

Nasir Aku, ACF Program Manager at Access Power commented, “With just one month to go until the application deadline, we want to make sure that all local developers across the African continent are aware of this fantastic opportunity to secure valuable funding and expertise that can turn an idea for a renewable energy project into reality.”

ACF 2016 is leading the way in demonstrating and supporting the type of renewable energy projects that will help meet Africa’s massive and urgent need for electrification.

drawing“Through this unique facility, we hope to encourage innovation and support companies in their efforts to deliver power to places that desperately need it. Last year we received a total of 55 submissions from 18 countries across Africa, including solar, wind, hydro, hybrid and bio-mass projects. The applications are coming in fast so 2016 looks set to build on that success.”

The inaugural ACF in 2015 was won by Quaint Solar Energy from Nigeria and Flatbush Solar from Cameroon. Other competing projects hailed from Cape Verde, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania.

One project has already pre-qualified for ACF2016. A 25MW solar project being developed in Sierra Leone by Africa Growth and Energy Solutions (AGES) won the Solar Shark Tank competition at the Making Solar Bankable conference in Amsterdam on 18th February. In a keenly fought contest, three emerging markets developers competed for a US$100,000 grant to support the development of their solar projects, funded by Access Power and Dutch development bank FMO. Part of the prize, subject to terms and conditions, was pre-qualification for ACF2016.

  • The independent judging panel of four judges will include industry and legal experts as well as representatives from multilateral development banks.

 

  • Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges at the Africa Energy Forum in London on the 22nd June 2016.
  • Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the Forum within a given time and take questions from panel members.
  • Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
  • ACF 2016 submission period runs from 18th February to 20th May, 2016.

Access Power (‘Access’)  was founded in 2012 with the aim of becoming a leading developer, owner and operator of power assets in emerging and frontier markets.  Access has assembled a development team with a track record of financially closing ~30 GW of power projects across the globe.  Through its various subsidiaries, Access is currently developing power assets in over 20 countries in Africa and Asia. Access’ portfolio predominantly consists of renewable energy projects with a gross total investment cost of over US$ 1 billion.

*APO

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Cameroonian – American Teen Accepted to Nine Prestigious Colleges
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments
A big feat for Niven Achenjang with acceptance into all 9 prestigious colleges he applied to

A big feat for Niven Achenjang with acceptance into all 9 prestigious colleges he applied to

A local senior, Niven Achenjang of Knox Central High and The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Bowling Green, Kentucky has been accepted into all 9 prestigious colleges he applied to. The humble dual student, gives credit to his teachers, school mates and guidance counsellors at Knox Central and The Gatton Academy as well as his extended family, siblings, friends and St. Gregory church Barbourville for earning his way to this moment.

Niven Achenjang who was recently named a National Merit Finalist by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation received the coveted YES, Congratulations and admission offers from Western Kentucky University, Stanford University, University of Kentucky, (these three under the Early Action program), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Vanderbilt University-TN, California Institute of Technology-Caltech, Georgia Institute of Technology-GeorgiaTech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology-MIT and Harvard College. Rejection letters can worsen what many seniors and their parents consider as a stressful and frustrating college process, but hard work pays and hopefully future seniors would be inspired by this story.

Niven smiles as he quips praising the Lord and adding that he must have something that the highly competitive/selective schools see as being of value in him. May that be true and may I not fail my friends, family, school district and myself as I look forward to define my place in the world and in what the future holds. Mr. Results driven Niven, plans to major in Math and Computer Science technically called Mathematical and Computational Science, with specialization in Software Engineering at Stanford.

Asked why he selected Stanford, he said, he planned on studying computer science and researching in the field adding that it was his understanding that Stanford has one of the top CS programs in the nation. He just returned from the admit weekend visit at Stanford and recalls that he came across satisfied that Stanford offers a flexible curriculum in many subject areas, with a diverse student body, culturally and intellectually. Being a part of Stanford, I believe, will be challenging and help me grow as I am surrounded by people different than me. Stanford also has great weather, many nice places for outdoor activities (running, hiking, etc.), and connections to many big name companies.

Asked what inspires him most, he revealed that he was probably most inspired by impactful ends. When I find something new, he continues, I try to think about what it could lead into and what that could mean for me, the people around me, and the world at large. The dream of being a part of something that has a long lasting effect (on mankind?) is what inspires me to take the steps to achieve that end.

On whether, he felt Knox Central/Knox County had helped him grow, he answered in the affirmative. Definitely, he said, I have been in Knox County for most of my life. It is where I was raised for the most part, and it is where I had the experiences that have made me who I am. If it were not for all the support and advice from family, friends, teachers, and members of the community I have come to know; for all the good times I have had with them; and for all the times I have messed up and been steered right by one of them, I would not have been able to accomplish what I have. For this and more I am grateful to them and thankful to God

Finally, on how he felt looking back on his work and accomplishments, he said, I feel proud. Not only proud of what I have done, but proud of the fact that I did not do it alone. I am elated that I have been able to meet and befriend people who have been willing to help me along the way as I have gone through life.

Niven’s hobbies include track and field, cross country, frisbee, and community involvement.

*Previously published as a Special for The Times Tribune of KY, with caption KNOX COUNTY TEEN ACCEPTED BY TOP COMPETITIVE COLLEGES TO THE CLASS OF 2020!

 

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‘Rumba king’ Papa Wemba posthumously decorated in DR Congo
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments
Fans of late Congolese rumba star Papa Wemba wait outside Ndjili airport during the repatriation of his body, in Kinshasa on April 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/Junior Kannah)

Fans of late Congolese rumba star Papa Wemba wait outside Ndjili airport during the repatriation of his body, in Kinshasa on April 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/Junior Kannah)

Kinshasa (AFP) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s rumba king Papa Wemba was posthumously awarded one of his country’s highest honours on Monday, a week after he collapsed on stage and died aged 66.

At a ceremony in the national parliament in Kinshasa, where Papa Wemba’s body lay in state, Congo’s President Joseph Kabila made the singer a grand officer of the Order of National Heros Kabila-Lumumba for “the merits, the loyal and eminent services rendered to the Congolese nation”.

Papa Wemba collapsed while performing at a festival in Ivory Coast on April 24. The flamboyant musician, who led the Kinshasa music scene for four decades, died before reaching hospital.

An enormous red hat, modelled on the one the renowned sharp dresser was wearing at the time of his death, served as the roof of the chapel erected to house his coffin inside parliament.

A life-sized effigy of the singer, dressed as he during his last concert, stood behind it.

“Papa Wemba, the Congo orphaned,” read a giant banner at the entrance to the building, where the funeral procession arrived early in the morning to be welcomed by the city governor and the military band of the Republican Guard.

A Roman Catholic priest accompanied the coffin, which was carried by eight men in black and draped in the national flag.

“This is great suffering and sadness,” said Biby Krubwa, who starred alongside Papa Wemba in a 1988 film, ‘La Vie est Belle’ (‘Life is Rosy’) about an aspiring singer who comes to Kinshasa. “Papa Wemba is a baobab that has fallen.”

Jean Misha Mulongo, a childhood friend of Papa Wemba who flew in from his home in the US city of Atlanta for his funeral, hailed the musician as a man of the people who “came to earth to give pleasure”.

A father of six, Papa Wemba helped to pioneer a blend of Congolese popular music with electric rock during the 1980s, when an interest in world music stirred in Western countries.

He is due to be laid to rest in a cemetery on the outskirts of Kinshasa on Wednesday.

*AFP/Yahoo

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Carlos Lopes: To industrialise, Africa needs strong but smart states
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

“Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas…Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.”

by *

Credit: UNECA.

Credit: UNECA.

African Arguments caught up with the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Director to talk about economic transformation, what’s holding the continent back, and whether leaders will really take action in the wake of the #PanamaPapers.

In a lot of your work, you emphasise the need for Africa to undergo ‘structural transformation’. What does this mean, and why is industrialisation so important to it?

There is a whole literature about structural transformation, but in practical terms right now in Africa it means moving to higher productivity sectors. We see this happening in three particular areas. Firstly, there’s agricultural productivity, which is at its lowest in Africa yet offers incredible potential for minimising poverty and contributing to industrialisation through agro-processing. Secondly, there’s manufacturing, which requires policies that mimic part of the experience of successful industrialisation processes of the past but are much more adapted to African characteristics. And thirdly, there’s the service sector, which needs to become more integrated into the formal economy.

Industrialisation plays a critical role because it’s more than just the production of processed goods or value addition from natural resources. It’s also an enabler for a rising society and, being a latecomer, Africa can learn from the experiences of others and adjust. For Africa, issues such as the environment, for instance, can be tackled up front.

There are varying verdicts as to how African industrialisation is faring. Some emphasise that manufacturing as a share of Africa’s GDP has almost halved from its 20% level in 1970. But others highlight that manufacturing is increasing at 3.5% a year, faster than the global average. What’s your take?

If you measure it by manufacturing value added, which is the common preferred indicator, then yes it is true that in percentage GDP terms, African manufacturing is stagnating if not falling. But African economies have doubled in the last 15 years, so even if you maintain the same percentage it means a lot more industry has come on board. Moreover, this also doesn’t take into account a number of activities that we can consider industrial but aren’t counted in statistics because of delays in updating national accounts.

Our take is that industrialisation is increasing significantly in some countries, though not across the entire continent, and that we need to accelerate and aggressively.

What’s holding African industrialisation back? Is it insufficient infrastructure? Lack of imagination amongst policymakers? Trade treaties that constrain what governments are able to do?

It’s all of those but the important question is which of those comes first. I think the capacity for comprehensiveness that comes with an industrial policy is what is the most important, because if you tackle the issue from just a specific sector or enabler or dimension, you are never going to get your act together.

The countries that really move and industrialise always have the same recipe: a very strong state hand, but a state that is very smart, a state that is capable of introducing smart protectionism because crude protectionism is no longer available, a state that is capable of identifying the critical enablers like infrastructure, and a state that knows how to fund its policies whether through domestic resource mobilisation or astute borrowing.

In a recent ECA report, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Bilateral Investment Treaties and Economic Partnership Agreements are painted as significant barriers to African industrialisation. Do these agreements just need tweaking or are they inherently detrimental for Africa?

I think African countries have embarked on signing stuff they shouldn’t sign, but too bad for them. The WTO is a consensus-based mechanism that would allow for stalling, so if Africans don’t get their act together to stall the things that are bad for them, then that’s an African problem not a WTO problem.

I think Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas. They are not taking advantage of space they already have. And Africans are also distracted by negotiating bilateral trade agreements before they finalise their own. Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.

Given enormous global power imbalances, do you think it’s enough for African policymakers to just be slightly smarter and more imaginative under the current system, or do you think there needs to be more fundamental change too?

The moral and political dimension I leave for the media, NGOs, and civil society, though we should certainly give them ammunition so their claims are evidence-based. Where we can really make a difference is in deconstructing some untruths that have long been masquerading as truths. That’s why we’ve been plunging into legislative issues, contract negotiations, and investment and trade treaties to try and have a more informed discussion. We think a lot of space exists in these that Africans are not using. After all, countries that are good negotiators do get a better deal.

In terms of untruths, take this race to the bottom towards zero tax for investors for an example. Does it attract more investors in relation to potential competitors? No. Typically countries that are well organised and structured and that offer investors a package of incentives that are not tax-based are more attractive than ones offering tax incentives.

When it comes to illicit financial flows, through which $50 billion leaves Africa each year according to an ECA report, do you think leaders will seize this moment after the #PanamaPapers to implement real reforms?

There are various dimensions to the debate, but because of Mossack Fonseca we are currently focusing on one dimension: namely tax jurisdictions and how multinationals are taking advantage of different loopholes to move from one jurisdiction to another in order not to pay tax.

Another dimension, however, is the competition amongst financial centres. The City of London, for example, doesn’t want to lose its prominence as one of the leading financial centres of the world. This means that they have to stay ahead of competitors and protect a certain number of very complex legislative dimensions that will appear from a regulatory point of view to be very strong and powerful, but at the same time be lenient where they know competitors could have an edge.

There is certainly now a strong public push for regulators to put a bit of order to things. And I don’t think the rhetoric is hypocritical, but how far they will go and how much political leaders will embrace actual change is another matter.

*Source African Arguments.James Wan is the editor of African Arguments. He tweets at @jamesjwan.

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Africa needs the space to learn (and make mistakes) on its own terms
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

As Africa finds its voice after centuries of being silenced, well-intentioned outsiders must be careful to help and not hijack this moment.

by *

South Africans march for action against climate change in Durban. Credit: Ainhoa Goma/Oxfam.

South Africans march for action against climate change in Durban. Credit: Ainhoa Goma/Oxfam.

Just back from the Tana Forum on Peace and Security, held in the sleepy town of Bahir Dar on the shores of Ethiopia’s Lake Tana, my head churns with questions about how African debates like this should be organised.

Should they be held under a Baobab tree or in international hotels? Should they be formal or informal? Should they emulate Western or Asian styles or ignore them altogether? And ultimately, after centuries in which African voices have rarely been heard – from slavery, through colonialism, and up to the present day – who should now talk for Africa about Africa?

In a way these questions have never been more salient. After all, even looking back at the continent’s recent history, there is no shortage of examples of Africa suffering from the sharp end of foreign countries’ self-interest or misguided decisions while its own voice has been silenced.

This is true even after most countries gained independence, as the ideological rivalries of the Cold War turned Africa into a battleground for proxy wars coordinated in distant capitals, giving no room for Africa’s own interests; when structural adjustment in 1980s and 1990s was imposed heavy-handedly from the offices of the IMF and World Bank, their prescriptions ignoring the realities and resistances on the ground; and still today, as the continent is defined in the international media as Hopeless, Rising or anything in between while Africa’s own perspectives remain marginalised.

This is where the Tana Forum comes in, a rare event that is genuinely Africa-led and organised. Established to provide a space for debate about peace and security, it was set up five years ago by the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in conjunction other African leaders such as former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki.

It has been held annually since and the topic of this year’s edition was ‘Africa in the global security agenda’. Among the many speakers were the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, former president of Timor-Leste Ramon Horta who had just completed a report on peace operations around the world, and Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Also there was Wolfgang Ischinger, Chair of the Munich Security Conference, the world’s leading think tank on peace and security issues. Ischinger took to the floor to re-emphasise the strong partnership between his institution and the Tana Forum which is modelled on the Munich Security Council.

To be frank, not everyone was happy about this year’s Forum. For instance, political analyst Alex de Waal, writing here on African Arguments, expressed his view that the event has become “dull, repetitive and formal”, adding that in contrast to the first edition which was “devoted to intense, informal and candid discussion”, the 2016 event was mostly “taken up by entirely predictable speeches”.

Frank criticisms such as these are all well and good, and all new endeavours will inevitably fall short and fail to please everyone. But as we think ahead to the next conference, and in the context of Africa’s history of being marginalised in its own affairs, the important thing going forwards is that regardless of any limitations, the Tana Forum and projects like it are given the breathing space to learn on their own terms.

After centuries of being lectured, reprimanded and pressured to do things differently, it is crucial that African initiatives are able to correct their own weaknesses and learn by doing. It may take time, but patience is needed if genuinely African perspectives and models are to be built up – ones that is of Africa, by Africa and for Africa.

Across the continent, there are hopeful signs of a new and louder voice emerging as more African research institutes, think tanks and media houses provide increasingly candid reports from African viewpoints. But this newly assertive Africa, admittedly still coming of age, needs to be listened to and nurtured, even when it makes missteps and blunders.

As the continent’s economies develop, its political influence increases, and its population grows, Africa and African initiatives need to be given the breathing space to take charge of their own destinies on their own terms. This should be the new normal, the new name of the game. After over 50 years of independence, the continent is mature enough to discuss its challenges in a robust and rigorous way, and while their views are welcome, well-intentioned outsiders must be careful to help and not hijack this moment of exploration, renewal and growth.

We all, in humility, will gain by listening to what others bring to the table. As Leopold Senghor, the late poet-President of Senegal, said, we must have a “seat at the give and take table as equals”.

*Source African Arguments.Adama Gaye is a Senegalese Author, former editor of London-based West Africa Magazine. and a Tana Regional Fellow. The views expressed here are his own.

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ENGANAMOUIT SHORTLISTED FOR BBC WOMEN’S PLAYER AWARD
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

Enganamouit270416-400Cameroon’s forward, Gaelle Enganamouit of FC Rosengard has been nominated among five other players for the BBC Women’s Player of the Year Award. The other nominees are: Amandine Henry (France, Midfielder, 26), Kim Little (Scotland, Midfielder, 25) Carli Lloyd (United States, Midfielder, 33), Becky Sauerbrunn (United States, Defender, 30)

The 23 year Cameroonian is the only African enlisted and her performance in 2015 speaks for itself. She finished the Swedish championship as top scorer with 18 goals to her credit earning the golden boot with Eskilstuna United DFF.

Exiting the 2015 World Cup at the knock-out stage, Gaelle Enganamouit had left her foot prints with a hat-trick, in Cameroon’s 6-0 defeat against Ecuador, the first for an African at the highest football level.

She was crowned African Player in 2015 and won the 2016 Swedish Super League with Rosengard prior to her nomination.

Her international debut started in 2012 with Spartak Subotica in the Serbian league where she is said to have scored the fastest goal in three seconds.

The shooting queen with 43 caps and ten goals for the national team who was part of the Olympic squad in 2012 played for Tonnere Kalara club before moving to Lorema in 2004.

*Camer be

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How Election Monitors Are Failing
April 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

Uganda’s recent election showed, once again, that international election observers aren’t calling it like they see it.

BY NIC CHEESEMAN, GABRIELLE LYNCH, JUSTIN WILLIS*

In the photo, Ugandan police officers stand guard outside the house of the country’s main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, in a suburb of Kampala on February 22. Photo credit: ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

In the photo, Ugandan police officers stand guard outside the house of the country’s main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, in a suburb of Kampala on February 22.
Photo credit: ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Uganda, heated controversy still surrounds President Museveni’s re-election with just over 60 percent of the vote two months ago. At a press conference on February 20, the European Union election observation mission presented its preliminary report on how the election had been conducted. The controversy surrounding the race, and the claim by the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) that the polls had been rigged, ensured a charged atmosphere. But despite finding that the number of votes it counted did not correspond to the official results in 20 percent of observed polling stations, the mission refused to answer a question about whether the elections were “free and fair.” Instead, they pulled their punches, directing the audience to read the report “and draw their own conclusions.” 

International election observation missions — when small teams of foreign nationals are sent to watch over elections under the auspices of groups such as the European Union, African Union and the Carter Center — are intended to deter foul play and ensure free and fair polls.

In practice, these monitors are not generally known for toughness or frank criticism.

In practice, these monitors are not generally known for toughness or frank criticism. But even by their notoriously cautious standards, the verdict in Uganda was strikingly tentative and evasive. The EU monitors had heard human rights groups’ complaints about intimidation by security forces and pro-government “volunteers,” witnessed voting materials turn up late to many polling stations located in opposition strongholds, and seen the main opposition candidate, Kizza Bessigye, arrested multiple times. The chair of Uganda’s Electoral Commission, Badru Kiggundu, evenbroke the most basic rule of official neutrality when he declared that Besigye was not “presidential material.”

The refusal of the European observers to make a strong and clear statement about these abuses frustrated Uganda’s opposition and civil society, but it was not surprising. Across Africa, international observers have frequently refused to give elections the evaluations they deserve for fear of offending incumbent governments and triggering political instability — and, also, it would seem, because they apply lower standards on the continent. Research by Brian Klaas of the London School of Economics has found that elections in Africa are significantly less likely to be branded “unfree and unfair” than elections held elsewhere in the world when they suffer the same manipulations. As a result, incumbents typically get away with a wide range of abuses, including such major offenses as the exclusion of rival candidates.

Although the problem is worse in Africa than elsewhere, this is a global phenomenon. Problematic elections have been given the “green light” in places such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Iraq, as international leaders place security and stability — and their own relationships with established governments — ahead of democracy. This has led to many situations in which the content and the conclusion of election observation reports are out of sync. While the small print often lists pages of significant failings, the summary invariably concludes that the elections were “good enough.” The implications for democracy are dire: it’s not just B+ polls that are being allowed to “pass” international scrutiny — even “incompletes” are being allowed through.

The challenges facing election monitors are both political and technical. One of the reasons demonstrating electoral manipulation is particularly difficult in places like Uganda is that the size of most monitoring missions is pitifully small. The EU mission in Uganda, for example, was only 130 strong. Since observers must go around in pairs, in practice, about 45 “teams” were responsible for covering something like 28,000 polling stations. It is simply not practical to detect subtle electoral fraud on this basis. Moreover, therandom sampling technique that the EU uses to select polling stations for its teams to cover — on the basis that such sampling is more likely to ensure a representative sample of the national picture — means that observers have polling stations selected for them in advance and cannot target areas that are known to be problematic.

The technical limitations are exacerbated by political realities. In many of the world’s semi-democratic states, the combination of repression by government forces and the failure of electoral commissions to quickly release a full set of results make it all but impossible for observers or the opposition to provide incontrovertible evidence of fraud. In Uganda, the law sets a 10-day deadline for the submission of evidence of rigging. But during this period, opposition offices were raided by police or mysteriously “burgled,” and the main opposition leader was placed under house arrest. This alone should be sufficient for international observers to declare the process flawed — but the appeals process is rarely given much weight in election observers’ reports, which focus heavily on the period leading up to polling day.

This is not just an African phenomenon. In the 2013 election in Azerbaijan, a set of “results” was accidentally released the day before the election on an iPhone app. Officially, this was explained away as a simple technical mistake, and a different set of figures were announced after voting had taken place. But many suspected that President Ilham Aliyev had intended to release a set of pre-fabricated results, and had only been prevented from doing so because they had been accidentally circulated too early. Subsequent evidence of “widespread irregularities, including ballot-box stuffing and what appeared to be fraudulent counting” was reported by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Yet international observers that focused only on the act of voting, like those from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s short-term delegation, missed the bigger story, concluding that they had witnessed a “free, fair and transparent electoral process.” Few observers who were able to take a longer-term view concurred with that judgment.

Clearly, the idea that international election observers are a neutral, independent force is a myth.

Clearly, the idea that international election observers are a neutral, independent force is a myth. In reality, they are every bit as subject to political pressures as the parties they observe. In the early 1990s, observersturned a blind eye to deeply flawed elections in Kenya because they were worried that speaking out would trigger civil war and regional instability. In so doing, however, they became complicit in the attempts of a brutal authoritarian regime to hold onto power and undermined their own reputations. In the run-up to the 1992 election, President Daniel arap Moi’s regime instigated ethnic clashes designed to displace, and hence disenfranchise, opposition voters. In total, over 1,500 people died and 300,000 more were forced to flee their homes. The government also engaged in a wide range of other dubious measures, from censoring the press to stuffing ballot boxes. The international community’s failure to speak out against these developments motivated the respected Kenyanist Stephen Brown to write a scathing article with the eloquent subtitle, “How Foreign Donors to Keep Kenya’s Daniel arap Moi in Power.”

Similar tensions are at play in Uganda today. President Museveni’s decision to send Ugandan troops to form the bulk of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) has made his government central to Western anti-terror efforts in the Horn of Africa. As a result, the EU and U.S. can ill afford to lose Museveni as an ally — even if harsh words are often exchanged in public. Like their counterparts in Kenya and Iraq, Western representatives in Uganda are also concerned about what would happen if they called for the results to be recounted or the election to be re-run. Would the country implode under the pressure? Could a Besigye presidency be relied upon to deliver stability and to be as enthusiastic about sending Ugandans to fight in a foreign country?

The uncertainty around these questions has left western election observers in a familiar dilemma. They cannot endorse the results of elections that have been so evidently uneven, but they cannot condemn the process entirely, for that would both imply that Uganda’s government has no legitimacy (an awkward implication for a regional ally) and suggest that elections can never bring political change. 

As a result, the EU report on Uganda’s recent elections is a classic of a genre that has emerged over the recent decades of electoral observation in Africa. The report captures a whole catalog of dubious electoral practices, including local-level intimidation of opposition, obstructions placed in the way of opposition presidential campaigns by the police, and the wide gap between a ruling party that draws freely on state resources for its campaign and an opposition that relies on donations from supporters. At the same time, in a strenuous effort to put a good face on the proceedings, the report commends the public for their “remarkable determination on election day [while] waiting for long hours to cast their ballots,” implicitly offering “voter enthusiasm for the democratic process” as a form of endorsement of the elections (if not explicitly for their result).

This is all eminently understandable. Serving as an election observer is a great responsibility and concerns of political stability are legitimate in countries with a history of conflict. It is also true that, for all the faults of the elections, Museveni may well have won the most votes.

Even so, observers who pull their punches may end up causing considerable damage.

Even so, observers who pull their punches may end up causing considerable damage. Excessive tact in assessing election results can set back the cause of democracy and undermine the confidence of opposition parties and their supporters that Western governments will play fair. Governments in places such as theDemocratic Republic of Congo and Zambia — both of which are due to have elections this year — will be watching events in Uganda closely. In both countries, the contests are expected to be particularly tight, and leaders there will be looking for every advantage they can get. The failure of election observers to take a stand in Uganda will encourage other dictators to rig their own elections, safe in the knowledge that they are unlikely to be held to account. In the long run, this is likely to erode public support for the political process and to breed political grievances that all too often spill over into conflict.

Maybe it’s time to take a more hard-headed approach to elections in authoritarian states. If the circumstances are simply too uneven to provide genuine competition, and if observers know that they will not be in a position to call out fraud if they see it, then might it be better for international monitors to stay at home? At least this way the international community will avoid legitimating — and hence becoming complicit in — deeply flawed polls that make a mockery of democracy.

*Source FP

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Riding High: From Naomi Achu comes “Long Live the Queen.”
April 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Destiny Kwenchia*

NaomiAchuAlbumCover“There is definitely something in this album for everybody,”says Naomi Achu as she calls on fans to join her on April 30 for the launching of her latest musical production. Dubbed “Long Live the Queen,” the album brings out the creative genius of the hard working star who has succeeded to carve a niche for herself. In the midst if a hectic schedule preparing the album launch, Naomi Achu found time to respond to questions from PAV.

Can you introduce the new album for us?

It’s called “Long Live the Queen”. And it’s a combination of world music, afro-pop, hip-hop and a little bit of reggae; many songs for dancing as well as many songs for reflection.

What makes this album different from the previous ones that have been produced?

 There is definitely something in this album for everybody; Even if it’s just one song. It stretches though different age groups, colors and cultures. It has some very relatable tunes and concepts.

12115825_10154160889471591_7184672948709815363_nYou have been in the music scene for a while now, what makes Naomi Achu tick and how to do you juggle additional responsibilities that have come along like been a wife and a mother?

Music to me is a form of expression. So I’ve been able to incorporate music into every aspect of my life. I write songs as I go. As I see or experience different things.

What appraisal do you make of the African music scene generally; any suggestions that could help make it better?
The Africa music scene is doing amazing things. It’s getting more and recognition outside of the continent with crossover artists bringing African flare into the pop music scene. I think if we keep promoting our culture, it will trend and make an international statement.

To the younger people who look up to you as a model, and who want to embrace the music industry, any words of wisdom for them?

Always be open to learn new things. Stay true to who you are and remain humble.

The album will launch on April 30, can you share some information on the event, venue, cost, and other side treats your fans may get?

The event will take place at the Friendship Center in Laurel, MD. General admission is $20. And VIP admission is $50.

13083190_1056219694423822_338598395867581897_nWhat’s next for Naomi Achu after the album launch?

I’ll be on a promotional tour, taking the album across Africa and USA alike. Maybe Europe; we shall see. And after that I hope to start working on the next project.

 Thanks for talking to Pan African Visions

Thanks for having me, once again

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Letter from Africa: Anger, fear and ‘Afrophobia’ in Zambia
April 28, 2016 | 0 Comments
Many of the 700 foreigners who have fled their homes took refuge at a church in Lusaka

Many of the 700 foreigners who have fled their homes took refuge at a church in Lusaka

In our series of letters from African journalists, film-maker and columnist Farai Sevenzo considers the implications for Zambia of recent riots.

Six bodies of murdered citizens have turned up in the Zambian capital Lusaka in the last month.

It was widely reported that the victims had been mutilated and were missing their hearts, ears and private parts.

At the heart of the matter lay the darkness of ritual killings – when people are murdered for their body parts in the malevolent belief that in the hands of powerful sorcerers, these organs can be employed as charms to enhance political ambition and improve the lot of individuals in the pursuit of business and money.

While no African imagination is bereft of these tales, the practice of ritual murder has been shocking because of the frequency of its occurrence.

Albinos have borne the brunt of it in Burundi, Tanzania and now Malawi – where just this week police arrested 10 men for allegedly killing a 21-year-old albino woman.

Farai Sevenzo:

Other cases of ritual killings have been reported from Nigeria to South Africa.

As a short cut to riches and influence, ritual murders have never been proven to work or they would have long replaced the tried paths of education, ambition and sweat.

What they do instead is polish “Heart of Darkness” labels for constant use on a continent awaking to her full potential and the promise of a 21st Century free of superstition.

Hunger and unemployment

The consequences of these murders were to prove far more serious for President Edgar Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) government.

The residents of Lusaka’s townships of Zingalume, George and Matero – where the bodies were discovered – attacked the police with stones for not doing enough to protect them from the ritual murderers.

But far more insidious enemies have been stalking Zambia’s poor – hunger and unemployment.

"Afrophobia is our xenophobia; it appears to be as African and as regular as ritual murders and deserves to be shunned"

“Afrophobia is our xenophobia; it appears to be as African and as regular as ritual murders and deserves to be shunned”

The collapse of the Zambian copper trade as well as the kwacha currency and the onset of the southern African drought could easily be detected in the motives of the subsequent riots which saw xenophobic attacks on foreigners in Lusaka’s high-density suburbs.

The rioters took what they could to eat and blamed foreign shopkeepers for the ritual murders.

The “foreigners” under attack had spilled over the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and then into Zambia after the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

They were mainly Hutu refugees who had stayed on in Zambia, despite the UN refugee agency declaring Rwanda a safe destination for their return back in 2013.

There is nothing glamorous about being a refugee – for 22 years some 6,000 Rwandans have wandered stateless in Zambia without passports and legal status.

They then mingled with the locals in townships just like Zingalume, which are by no means upmarket addresses, and set up little shops to trade and survive.

More than 250 people have been arrested by police sent out to stop the looting

More than 250 people have been arrested by police sent out to stop the looting

It is in xenophobia’s nature to point the finger of blame at those foreigners who own something, who show evidence of money where there is none to be found.

The former Rwandans found themselves seeking shelter in churches and assurances for their safety from the Zambian government with more than 700 displaced after two days of rioting.

In the short and dangerous history of xenophobia in South Africa and now Zambia, the word “foreigner” invariably refers to black Africans, not to the Portuguese escaping Lisbon’s meagre prospects for the oil fields of Luanda, or the Chinese who run Zambia’s copper mines, supermarkets and chicken farms.

Afrophobia is our xenophobia; it appears to be as African and as regular as ritual murders and deserves to be shunned.

Freedom fighters welcomed

Zambia’s history of welcoming Africans without a home is legendary.

South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) was based in former President Kenneth Kaunda’s Zambia as they fought apartheid, as were Zimbabweans fighting white-minority rule in what was then Rhodesia.

At the centre of President Lungu’s dilemma is the economic crisis now gripping Zambia as copper mines fold and the rains refuse to fall.

Youth unemployment and a rising cost of living seems more likely to be the roots of future riots, not ritual murders.

A Global Hunger report has grouped Chad, the Central African Republic and Zambia as the “three most hungry countries on the global hunger index”.

Mr Lungu became president in January 2015 following a rushed poll necessitated by the death in office of Michael Sata.

Zambia’s gloomy economic outlook has him trying to put out fires on many fronts as the country prepares for general elections due in August 2016.

The move to deploy soldiers to the townships is being seen as a calculated government plan towards voter intimidation, not a means to restore security.

It is unlikely that any amount of soldiers on the streets will make this an easy ride for the PF government.

History records only too well how this nation responds to hunger.

A month after his release from jail in 1990, Nelson Mandela visited Zambia to thank the country for its help in the fight against apartheid

A month after his release from jail in 1990, Nelson Mandela visited Zambia to thank the country for its help in the fight against apartheid

Thirty years ago Mr Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president, tried to face down riots that had began in the mining towns of Kitwe and Ndola at the doubling of food prices.

By June 1990 the riots had reached Lusaka, the soldiers sent to quell them attempted a coup and Mr Kaunda was to be defeated at the ballot box by 1991.

The ritual killings may have left six citizens dead and mutilated, hundreds of refugees displaced and soldiers on the streets; but as long as the economic crisis continues to grip Zambia, further riots may come to Lusaka sooner than the rains.

*Source BBC

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$80 billion, not $50 billion: loss of African funds even worse than thought – Mbeki
April 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

By LEE MWITI*

Panel revises figures upwards, and the money is not leaving continent in plastic bags: Kinshasa, we have a problem

Obiang Mangue: Was linked to the export of hundreds of millions of dollars to the US where he bought property and fancy cars. (Photo/TNOM/Flickr).

Obiang Mangue: Was linked to the export of hundreds of millions of dollars to the US where he bought property and fancy cars. (Photo/TNOM/Flickr).

IN 2005, US lawyer George Nagler was contacted by Rosalina Romo, the executive assistant of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of Africa’s longest serving president and who is on course to extend his 37-year rule over oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

Romo and Nagler together set up Sweet Pink Inc, which named Romo as its CEO, secretary and chief financial officer. Mangue was listed only as “assistant treasurer”, but under questioning in a US Senate investigation, the lawyer said it was his understanding the younger Nguema was the sole owner and source of funding.

A few days later, Mangue’s then girlfriend, well-known US rapper Eve Jeffers was appointed the firm’s president.  The company was among those known to have been used by Mangue to between 2005 and 2007 move more than $110 million into the US and buy property.

Under pressure from authorities, his US banker eventually closed the accounts, according to the resulting Senate report that was captured in a 2011 World Bank report on stolen assets, The Puppet Masters, and which also in part spotlights how public officials including presidents and state governors from Nigeria and Zambia to Kenya used corporate and financial structures to obscure money trails.

The big people eat it all

Equatorial Guinea has a population of about 760,000  people and on paper a GDP per capita of $20,500—the highest in Africa. Yet three quarters remain mired in poverty, despite its natural-resource riches, with oil exports constituting 80% of its GDP.

The stashing away of such funds in tax havens and global financial centres and which would otherwise build schools, hospitals and infrastructure, costs Africa heavily.

But it was only last year that the continent put a figure to the haemorrhage, when a joint panel headed by former South Africa president Thabo Mbeki in a much-anticipated report (pdf) showed that between 2000 and 2008, Africa lost at least $50 billion annually to illicit outflows.

On the back of the resulting uproar, the continent’s policy community set to work to show just how much of a difference such amounts would make to the region’s development.

The money was enough to simultaneously cut poverty and inequality on the continent by half, organisations from the African Union to the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa, which both backed the report, said.

It is also regularly highlighted that the total outflows from the continent every year were more than the amount of official foreign aid into the continent, which in 2012 was set at $46.1 billion.

But at the release of the findings from its two-year investigation, the Mbeki panel had a caveat: the amount fell “well short of reality”—an acknowledgment of the continent’s well known data problem, but also of just how difficult it is to track flows that by their nature are intended to be hidden from view.

The leak of the so-called Panama Papers has reinvigorated the debate and delighted many leading African names, giving a coveted glimpse into the secretive world of offshore structures. The leaked data from the legal firm Mossack Fonseca featured many African names, even as the distinction is strenuously made that they are not inherently illegal and some have their legitimate uses.

Could be worse

Now the panel says the problem could be worse than previously thought. The continent is losing at least $80 billion, Mbeki said Monday at a press briefing in Johannesburg, as the panel continues to burrow into newer numbers.

Mbeki said that after looking closer at the figures, the number had increased to an estimate of between $80 billion and $90 billion dollars—or nearly the amount the World Bank in 2009 said the continent would need to spend annually for 10 years to narrow the gap with the rest of the world.

“This could either be because more thorough work has been done or in fact there is in actual increase in the activity,” Mbeki said.

While the focus tends to be on the criminal activities such as tax evasion, corruption and trafficking, legally allowed tactics actually account for the bulk of outflows.

Mbeki said the commercial sector is responsible for handling two thirds of capital illicit outflows from the African continent.

Measures to clamp down on funds lost illicitly are being rolled out, but as the former president pointed out, the majority of such flows pass through the systems of banks, as he urged central banks to help track the money.

“This money is not leaving the continent in plastic bags, it goes through financial systems.”

One study showed that African countries lost up to $407 billion between 2001 and 2010 from trade misplacing alone—the misrepresenting of data about imports or exports.

The UN’s trade and development body UNCTAD says profit shifting costs poorer countries—the majority of which are in Africa— up to $100 billion a year.

In one famous case, an American construction conglomerate had almost 30% of its employees in Asia and Africa, made 30% of its sales in Asia and Africa—but recorded only one percent of its profit in Asia and Africa. Eighty percent of its profit went to a tax haven.

In July, a proposal by the continent for multinationals to be more transparent on tax avoidance was heavily watered down by wealth nations.

Mbeki also called for efforts to strengthen the ability of tax authorities on the African continent to keep up with the ever-adapting nature of such outflows, as there were institutional weaknesses.

Without understanding the nature of methods and structures used, it is very much shooting in the dark.

“We need to find a way of tracking these outflows so that we are able to measure whether the measures are working, leading to a reduction of the outflows,” Mbeki said.

Mbeki said the panel is consulting with countries and financial institutions such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Central Bank.

He said the OECD has agreed to work with the panel in tracking and reducing the illicit outflows, and to develop measures of whether progress has been made.

With wealthy nations under pressure following the Panama leak, the outcome of a landmark anti-corruption summit in London next month will be closely watched by the continent, where leaders are turning up the campaign to have those funds found to be illicit to be repatriated to finance development.

*Source MGA Africa

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DRC leader offers plane to ferry the body of Papa Wemba
April 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

President Kabila also stepped in to assist the family to defray the expenses.

By AMOS NGAIRA*

Congolese music star Papa Wemba performs during the Femua music festival in Abidjan on April 24, 2016 before collapsing on stage. DR Congo President Joseph Kabila has offered a plane to fly back from Cote d’Ivoire to Kinshasa on Thursday the body of Papa Wemba. AFP PHOTO | MAGAZINE TOP VISAGES

Congolese music star Papa Wemba performs during the Femua music festival in Abidjan on April 24, 2016 before collapsing on stage. DR Congo President Joseph Kabila has offered a plane to fly back from Cote d’Ivoire to Kinshasa on Thursday the body of Papa Wemba. AFP PHOTO | MAGAZINE TOP VISAGES

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila has offered a plane to fly back from Cote d’Ivoire to Kinshasa on Thursday the body of Papa Wemba, who collapsed and died at a concert in Abidjan.

In a generous gesture of the recognition of the singer’s contribution to the development of Congolese music and the entertainment industry, President Kabila has stepped in to assist the family to defray the expenses.

The aircraft will carry more than 50 people, including Papa Wemba’s widow, Mama Marie-Luzolo Amazone, some family members, and his musicians, who were at the festival in Cote d’Ivoire with him.

Speaking to the Daily Nation from Kinshasa on Tuesday, musician Maika Munan said an entourage of top Congolese artistes led by veteran band leader Kiamuangana Mateta Verkys, would travel on the plane to go and collect their compatriot’s body.

“We will be accompanied by some government officials and family members,” he said.

Papa Wemba’s widow is already in Abidjan, having arrived on Monday morning, accompanied by government officials.

FUNERAL PLANS

The body leaves Abdijan for Kinshasa on Thursday afternoon.

There is still no indication as to whether a post-mortem would be performed to ascertain the cause of the sudden death on the stage at the weekend.

Arrangements for public viewing of Wemba’s body in Kinshasa and funeral service will be announced by Friday.

Meanwhile, former Wenge Musica singer Adolph Dominguez and some of his colleagues have already composed and recorded a tribute song to mourn their fallen idol.

“Ever since we learnt of his death we have been in the studio working on a special track to be used during the mourning period,” the Wenge Tonya Tonya splinter group leader said.

Their fellow countrymen and women based in Europe are also working on tracks and have organised gatherings to pay tribute to Papa Wemba.

They include Paris-based mercurial singer and composer Nyboma Muandido.

*Daily Nation 

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Papa Wemba, Congo music star, dies after stage collapse
April 24, 2016 | 0 Comments
Congolese authorities said his death was a "great loss"

Congolese authorities said his death was a “great loss”

The influential Congolese musician Papa Wemba has died aged 66 after collapsing during a concert.

Video from the show in Ivory Coast showed him slumped on stage behind a group of dancers, before they rushed to his aid.

His pioneering blend of African, Cuban and Western sounds became one of Africa’s most popular music styles.

Wemba also toured around the world, and recorded with British artist Peter Gabriel.

“I would put him in the same bracket as Fela Kuti when it comes to influence on African music,” said DJ Edu, BBC 1xtra’s African Music Ambassador.

The musician fell ill in the early hours of Saturday morning. The cause of his death has not been established.

He died before he could be brought to hospital, a spokesman for the Ivosep morgue in Abidjan told Reuters news agency.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qry3nwoED9Y

 

Born in 1949, Wemba, whose real name was Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, began his singing career in religious choirs.

He helped modernise Congolese rumba music, with the genre that emerged – soukous – influencing music across Africa.

Together with his bands Zaiko Langa Langa, Isifi and Viva La Musica, he racked up hit after hit, including L’Esclave and Le Voyageur.

He appeared in two feature films, Life Is Beautiful (1987) and Wild Games (1997).

Influence on fashion

Wemba was also a style icon, the driving force behind the cultural movement the Sapeurs, whose young men spend vast amounts on designer clothes.

Seen here on stage in Paris in 2006, Papa Wemba was a star for more than four decades

Seen here on stage in Paris in 2006, Papa Wemba was a star for more than four decades

On his look, Wemba told CNN he in turn was inspired by his parents getting dressed up on Sundays. They were “always well put together, always looking very smart”, he said.

In 2004, he was convicted of people-smuggling in France and spent three months in prison.

The conviction related to a racket whereby illegal immigrants were taken to Europe posing as members of his band.

A Belgian court convicted him of the same crime in 2012, handing down a fine of €22,000 (£17,143; $24,690) and suspended prison sentence of 15 months.

He was also once jailed in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) for allegedly having an affair with a general’s daughter.

Tributes to ‘icon’

Wemba was performing at a music festival in Ivory Coast before his collapse

Wemba was performing at a music festival in Ivory Coast before his collapse

Congolese President Joseph Kabila has expressed his condolences, and there are likely to be large events paying homage in the coming days.

Congolese Culture Minister Baudouin Banza Mukalay called his death a “great loss for the country and all of Africa”, Associated Press reported.

“A huge loss”: Kinshasa rapper Youssoupha on Papa Wemba’s death

 

Kinshasa rapper Youssoupha mourned the band leader in a tweet (in French), saying, “Like my community, I am devastated by the death of Papa Wemba.

“He was the icon of our culture, of our lifestyle. This is a huge loss.”

*BBC

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Slave states: a story of survival in the Gulf
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

By *

African migrants are increasingly moving to rich Gulf States in search of opportunity. More often than not they find exploitation. This is Harriet’s story.

Sunset over Dubai, UAE. Credit: Paolo Margari.

Sunset over Dubai, UAE. Credit: Paolo Margari.

For the millions of people who flock to rich Gulf States to take up jobs as cleaners or builders, the opportunity to work is typically seen as a rare chance for employment and the empowerment that comes with it. Usually from poor countries where prospects are weak, huge numbers of workers have journeyed to glittering Gulf States in recent years in the hope of making a living.

In fact, the numbers are so high that migrants now make up the majority of many Gulf States’ populations. An estimated 7.8 million of the UAE’s 9.2million population are non-nationals, for example, while 70% of Kuwait’s population and 85% of Qatar’s is made up of foreigners. These countries rely on migrant labour to function, though the relationship between employers and employees is far from equal.

Migrants come for work, but many ultimately find themselves trapped, exploited and abused. The government policy known as kafala requires workers to have a local sponsor to work or stay in many of these countries, and this requirement gives employers enormous power over their employees who are unable to change jobs or leave without their consent.

Under this system then, millions of workers have no means of escape and few rights. They find themselves brutally exploited, their movement controlled, and their wellbeing disregarded. Reports of psychological, physical and sexual abuse, of torture, and of suicides are widespread. And there is often no way out.

The fruits of imported workers can be seen all across the Gulf States, not least in the form of the huge skyscrapers built on migrant labour, but the experiences of these individuals are usually hidden below the shiny surfaces of the cities, and go unreported and unheard. Migrants typically come from South and East Asia, but they are increasingly coming from Africa now too. Below is the story of Harriet, just one such migrant from Uganda.

Harriet’s story

Harriet, a young woman in her mid-20s, was an aircraft cleaner with a large private security company. She had worked with one of my school friends in Kampala before coming to Dubai, UAE.

That’s how we first got in touch, and we met at Al Khail Mall in the Al Qouz Industrial Area 4. This was a short distance from her accommodation, a room she shared with three other women, one also from Uganda and two from the Philippines. Harriet started by showing me a few pictures of functions, mostly weddings, that she had taken while in Uganda and then handed me her CV. I noticed that she had a higher diploma in social sciences from one of Uganda’s largest institutions of learning.

Driven by unemployment for about a year back home, Harriet had decided to seek opportunities in Dubai. A recruitment company had taken her on and charged her $600 for her air ticket, visa and recruitment fees. She had now been in Dubai for about six months and was cleaning aeroplanes at Dubai International Airport. She showed me a rash on her arms and part of her face, explaining that she got them from exposure to a cleaning detergent called Bacoban. She had complained to her supervisors, who took her to a hospital where she received treatment. But she had only recently found out that to cover the cost of the visit, her salary had been slashed from 800 dirhams ($215) a month to just 200 dirhams ($54).

Harriet had intended to return to hospital as the rash had persisted and the constant itching made her sick. But she was forced to cancel these plans. Not only could she not afford another pay cut, but many companies here issue penalties for taking time off, even for illness.

Harriet said she was repeatedly required to work more than the stipulated hours in a day without a single break to even drink water. She told me of a colleague from Kenya who had fainted inside the plane because the air conditioning was not working and she had not eaten or drunk anything since early in the morning. There were some women, Harriet said, who took food or water from inside the plane, but this was a serious risk if caught.

Her work supervisor meanwhile, a man from India who hardly spoke any English, regularly harassed her verbally, physically and sexually. When she was cleaning, he would lean down to touch her buttocks. When she asked what he was doing, he would tell her, “Sorry, banana standing. This banana big problem.”

All of Harriet’s colleagues complained amongst themselves but no one dared report him to their superiors. In the past, one of their co-workers had been dismissed after she reported a similar incident of sexual harassment. “They would twist everything and turn it around accusing you of being a prostitute,” said Harriet.

The only thing Harriet was grateful for was her one day off each week, a privilege considering that few other employees – such as security guards – were afforded the same luxury. Having said that, Harriet would spend her days off staying in bed crying, though she was glad to have this chance to weep in private so she could avoid breaking down in public. Crying was the only way she could reduce the burden of her problems, she said.

Trapped

Outside work, Harriet’s situation was just as miserable. In her accommodation, all sorts of activities were forbidden. Cooking, for example, was prohibited with workers required to buy food from restaurants despite their meagre salaries. Residents were also banned from washing their clothes; instead, the management insisted they use the coin-operated washing machine which cost four dirhams ($1.20) just to launder work uniforms. For Harriet and others, violating these rules was the only way for them to survive and they would prepare meals using secretly-stashed cooking utensils and did their laundry covertly in bathtubs and sinks. The fear of being caught and punished brought additional stress.

Harriet also felt unsafe about leaving her room and going around the surrounding area. Although her quarters were reserved for women, groups of men gathered around the complex, begging and baiting women to come out. The situation was worst at night. When I dropped her off one evening at around 7:30pm, the premises were very busy and although the space was meant to be for women only, most of the people in the compound were men. Cars, ranging from the latest models of Land Cruisers to older makes of Toyota Corollas, constantly streamed in and out.

Harriet told me that most women complemented their paltry earnings with prostitution and that these cars were not here to pick up or drop off friends and girlfriends but women working as prostitutes. Some women were dropped off down the road at Al Khail Mall and walked the short distance back home to disguise their activities.

I reasoned that most of the men who simply crowded around the compound were only there to look at the female residents, unable to afford paying for their services, but Harriet said it was a matter of price discrimination. She challenged me to walk around the dark corridors of the neighbouring buildings that acted as short-time lodges.

She also told me that were reports of men raping women who happened to pass by at night. This was the one thing worried the female residents the most and stopped them from leaving the premises, especially once night had fallen. They would rather go hungry and sleep without eating anything than walk the short distance to a restaurant or Al Khail mall. They were trapped.

Escape

In the ensuing weeks after our first meeting, Harriet checked out jobs in the classifieds and sent emails as per my advice. She received a few responses but was always asked if her sponsor was willing to give a No Objection Consent (NOC) letter to facilitate a change in jobs and sponsors in the UAE.

She had no idea about such a document and when she queried her employer’s human resources office, she was told that they did not give out such letters and was instructed that she’d be banned from working in the UAE if she tried to change jobs.

Under the kafala system, Harriet was at the mercy of her sponsor, but mercy was not something her employer was willing to extend. She was essentially bound to servitude until her contract was over. Harriet had no choice but to keep her head down, do what she could to ease her pain, and persevere through to the end of her two-year contract.

Fortunately for Harriet, she made it through and was finally able to find a new job after her ordeal. She now works a saleswoman in a cosmetics shop in Dubai. This job brings with it its own difficulties and challenges, but they are small compared to those she faced in her previous employment. “I still consider the two years I worked as a cleaner the worst experience of my life,” she says.

But while Harriet survived and escaped, others have taken her place as a cleaner and many millions more face the same conditions as she did, and worse, across the Gulf States. These countries serve as a portal for hopeful but vulnerable migrants from across Asia and, increasingly, Africa. They come here looking for opportunity, but are more often than not met with exploitation facilitated by hugely unequal and unjust employment laws.

This article is based on an excerpt from Yasin Kakande’s forthcoming book Slave States: The Practice of Kafala in the Gulf Arab Region.

*Source African Arguments.Yasin Kakande is a Ugandan journalist who has reported from the Middle East for over a decade. His first book, The Ambitious Struggle: An African Journalist’s Journey of Hope and Identity in a Land of Migrants, was published in October 2013.

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Congo Signs Historic Rainforest Preservation Pact
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments
FILE - The Dzanga-Ndoki National Park and Dzanga-Sangha dense forest special reserve are located in the rainforest in the southwestern part of the Central African Republic, Congo Basin.

FILE – The Dzanga-Ndoki National Park and Dzanga-Sangha dense forest special reserve are located in the rainforest in the southwestern part of the Central African Republic, Congo Basin.

The Republic of Congo has signed an historic $200 million agreement that aims to reverse the rapid deforestation of its vast rainforest, the world’s second largest behind the Amazon.

Congo is the first nation to sign a pact with the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), a seven-month-old program designed to renew forest protection efforts in the Congo Basin.

The initiative was launched last year by five other African nations and European donor countries. It requires participating nations to create investment plans to identify and attack activities that are contributing to deforestation.

Forests in the Congo Basin cover about two million square kilometers, about the size of the Central American country of Mexico. But the forests in the Congo Basin are shrinking by about 5,600 kilometers a year due, in part, to the expansion of palm oil plantations.

The environmental group Global Witness says Congo’s largest logging companies are routinely violating national laws that are designed to protect the country’s forests.

President Joseph Kabila has promised to reform the agricultural industry in his country, which is rich in minerals and fertile land.

Timing of the agreement coincided with Earth Day, during which more than one billion people around the world participated in activities to promote environmental protection.

*Source VOA

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Scoring for Global Health
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Eto’o*

Samuel-EtooGrowing up in the disadvantaged districts of Douala, Cameroon, I learnt to count on my mates to navigate the rugged streets where we played football. Among these friends, I found comradeship and compassion. Among the adults, however, I found guidance, mentorship, support and sometimes some spanking for disobedience. The circumstances of my upbringing give real meaning to the adage “it takes a village.”

This learning made me resilient to challenges, a quality that was invaluable when I arrived to play football in Europe as a lad of 16. In my luggage, I had a dream, a passion, but I also brought with me dribbling skills and the pace to pounce and score – an essential urge for a striker. Those footballing skills learnt in the bumpy surfaces I was used to practice, propelled me fast in the even grounds of Europe and have taken me to top leagues in Spain, Italy, Russia, England and Turkey.

But I almost never made it. As a young boy, I suffered from countless bouts of malaria that could very easily have killed me. It was just that I was one of the lucky ones, as the disease has killed millions of children in my country and across Africa. Additionally, I also came to age in the 90s – those days when AIDs seemed unstoppable. I saw people in my country succumb to the epidemic, and communities waver under the weight of the disease.

I very easily could have been one of those people taken by these diseases in my community. I have learnt to count my blessings and ask how I can give back – how I can play part in fighting these diseases and others. Of course I am a footballer, not a doctor or a public health specialist. But I hope to contribute by joining others to play and to win against these diseases. I am enlisting myself to the battle by working as a champion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The world has made progress against these diseases over the last decade. We may have bent the curve of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria yet far too many people continue to die from these diseases. These men, women and children present far too many dreams that will never be realized. It is why we must press on.

I hope to contribute my bit by sharing the story of my life, but more importantly the story of people affected by these diseases. The stories are many and diverse. They are stories of girls who have lived on to become doctors and teachers and farmers, who are building their communities. Stories of boys, like me, who survived these diseases and lived on to play football, basketball and other sports at an international level and have returned to make a difference in their communities and beyond. These men and women have not only conquered disease, they are also agents of change in our countries.

I hope that with these stories, we can galvanize the world to embrace our differences and our diverse strengths, and to press on with the fight against these diseases with a goal of ending them. I have confidence that with determination and working with the Global Fund partnership we can write the last chapter of these diseases.

Courage and determination are essential qualities in football, and in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria. One of my most memorable moments in football was the African Cup of Nations final between Nigeria and my country, Cameroon. I was a teenager then, but I scored the first goal and created the second. We went on to win that great final through penalties. I have known other exceptional moments in my career.

In all I have done in football, playing for my national team made me most proud. Right from the 1998 world cup, where, at 17, I represented my country as the youngest player in the tournament. Being called to national duty, being part of the “Indomitable Lions”, was always a big honour. A chance to give back to the people who made me. Cameroon is my blood, every time I wore the jersey of my national team, it was a unique opportunity for me and a great pride.

I hope to use the experience I have gained in football to give back to my country and to Africa by supporting the Global Fund partnership, which has contributed to saving more than 17 million lives, in my country and across the world. Football is a powerful tool, a language that permeates borders. It is a language we can use to fight infectious diseases, which also know no borders. Defeating these diseases will need everyone to play together. That is why I am joining global health. I want to play a prominent role in this urgent mission. I see helping save lives as the biggest fight of my life.

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