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THE U.S. AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION INVESTS IN 35 YOUNG AFRICAN ENTREPRENEURS
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

WASHINGTON, DC – September 6, 2017– The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is pleased to announce $375,000 in seed capital funding to 35 young African social entrepreneurs for social and community change in 20 sub-Saharan countries in Africa.

Winners were selected from the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship program, as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). By pairing seed capital with technical assistance, USADF is empowering young entrepreneurs who are leading the charge in investing in Africa’s economic growth. Each entrepreneur will receive up to $25,000 in start-up capital to strengthen systems that will support the growth of their enterprises – ranging from agribusiness and healthcare services, to renewable energy, waste management and technology. C.D. Glin, President & CEO of USADF says, “These young people represent the best and brightest of Africa’s future business leaders and social entrepreneurs.”

With USADF seed capital and technical assistance, these social entrepreneurs are creating jobs, training and employing other youth, and creating or expanding markets by providing goods and services. They are also working to find new and innovative ways to improve their communities and create economic growth opportunities.

Delia Diabangouaya, CEO of Chocotogo, says, “I am building my business to produce top-quality chocolate and support smallholder cocoa farmers. With this grant, I am hoping to have a lasting impact in my community.” Chocotogo is an artisan chocolate company based in Togo that sources cocoa from rural farmers. With USADF funding, Delia aims to transform the cocoa value chain to benefit over 100 local smallholder farmers and produce high-quality, artisan chocolates.

Entrepreneurs like Chioma Ukonu are finding new ways to manage waste and protect the environment in busy cities like Lagos, Nigeria. Ukonu’s enterprise, Recycle Points, uses a points-based incentive model to encourage recycling in Lagos. Her business hires youth to collect waste door-to-door from subscribers, who in turn receive points redeemable for household items and cash. Ukonu says, “I wanted to find a way to incentivize people to recycle, while also starting my own business. USADF believes in empowering local entrepreneurs to find solutions affecting their communities.”

As Mandela Washington Fellows, these young entrepreneurs have all demonstrated leadership in business, the ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups, and are strong communicators actively engaged in making a difference. They are the future leaders committed to catalyzing change in their communities, countries, and Africa’s growth. USADF’s goal is to catalyze young Africans ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to launch and expand their social enterprises so every African may be a part of Africa’s growth story. Since 2014, USADF has awarded over $3M to over 150 young entrepreneurs in over 30 countries.

 

About USADF

The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is an independent U.S. Government agency established by Congress to support and invest in African owned and led enterprises which improve lives and livelihoods in poor and vulnerable communities in Africa. For more information, visit www.usadf.gov
About the Mandela Washington Fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, begun in 2014, is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2017, the Fellowship provides 1,000 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. college or university with support for professional development after they return home. For more information, visit www.yali.state.gov/washington-fellowship.

For the official press release, click here.

List of USADF 2017 Mandela Washington Fellows Winners: 

·         Koketso Leshope, Botswana, Ma-Tla-Long

·         Malick Lingani, Burkina Faso, Magic Touch

·         Narcisse Parfait, Cameroon, Agri-Invest

·         Flavien Simo, Cameroon, Save Our Agriculture

·         Henry Foretia, Cameroon, Ets. Henry Et Freres

·         Rock Klahadoum, Chad, First Business Center

·         Yannick Rudahindwa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cedya Systems

·         Joel Mayimbi, Democratic Republic of Congo, First Tech RDC

·         Melaku Lemma, Ethiopia, SLM Teaching Aid Materials

·         Ama Duncan, Ghana, Fabulous Woman Network

·         Isaac Quaidoo, Ghana, Nexlinks Company

·         Silvia Tonui, Kenya, Marigat Gold Enterprises

·         Paballo Mokoqo, Lesotho, Dust Busters Home Cleaning Service

·         Israely Andrianjafiarisaona, Madagascar, Fereau Technologie

·         Mavis Banda, Malawi, Kanjadza Acres

·         Aderonke Jaiyeola, Nigeria, Pattern Design

·         Chioma Ukonu, Nigeria, RecyclePoints

·         Usman Lawan, Nigeria, USAIFA International

·         Atinuke Lebile, Nigeria, Cato Food and Agro Allied Global Concepts

·         Ucheoma Udoha, Nigeria, Cripvision

·         Janvier Uwayezu, Rwanda, Rwanda Biosolution

·         Sylvie Sangwa, Rwanda, SYBASH

·         Papa Zongo, Senegal, Ailes Du Gaal

·         Insa Drame, Senegal, CAIF

·         Thabang Mabuza, South Africa, Ulwazi Resource Center

·         Jennifer Shigoli, Tanzania, Elea Reusable Sanitary Pads

·         Domitila Silayo, Tanzania, Mayai Poa

·         Dina Kikuli, Tanzania, H.D. Agribusiness

·         Delia Diabangouaya, Togo, Chocotogo

·         Adjo Bokon, Togo, MiabePads

·         Francis Asiimwe, Uganda, Kaaro Telehealth

·         Rodney Nganwa, Uganda, My Boda

·         Guy Mbewe, Zambia, Kukula Solar

·         Muzalema Mwanza, Zambia, Lakefarms and Fishing Lodge

·         Connie Karoro, Zimbabwe, Coco Seed Culture

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dotAfrica (.africa) the best option for Africa in cyberspace
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 7, 2017/ — It is now possible to own an Internet address, or domain name, ending with .africa.

Already, more than 8000 of the continent’s and world’s biggest brands, businesses and individuals have registered for this exciting new Internet address.

Diverse organisations ranging from banks to media companies are registering .africa domain names. “Leading continental and international brands are snapping up .africa domain names because they recognise the importance of being associated with Africa’s bright future online. With many positive stories coming out of Africa, brands understand that .africa domain names are valuable virtual real estate,” says Lucky Masilela, CEO of the ZACR, the non-profit company tasked with administering the new .africa domain name on behalf of the continent.

54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s. These written resolutions stated that ICT will be central to Africa’s future wellbeing and .africa is surely amongst the top African-led ICT initiatives of the last twenty years.

“Initiatives like .africa help harness the power of new technologies to solve old problems. .africa is unique in that it gives Africans an important sense of pride to help motivate them to achieve the very best for their continent and themselves. ZACR appeals to all Africans to take ownership of .africa, because it truly belongs to us all,” concludes Masilela.

.africa domain names are now available and anyone can register through companies listed here: http://Registry.Africa/registrars

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Unlocking Solar Capital Africa conference features first Solar Power Incubator to Unlock Potential of Energy in the Region
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Phanes Group will announce the winners at Solarplaza’s event in Abidjan come October
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, September 7, 2017/ — Solaplaza’s (www.Solarplaza.com) ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference, an event focused on connecting solar project development and finance & investment, will be the first African event featuring a Solar Incubator program, aimed at identifying PV projects of potential in sub-Saharan Africa by providing access to funding, and commercial and technical knowledge.

The initiative, ‘The PV Solar Incubator, Your Project, Our Expertise, For a Sustainable Future,’ will be launched by Phanes Group in partnership with Solarplaza, Hogan Lovells, responsAbility, and Proparco, and invites PV developers to submit proposals for projects that are based in sub-Saharan Africa, and have a clear CSR component.

Candidates are asked to submit their proposals before October 1, 2017, via Phanes Group’s website or through the conference website. Shortlistees will be invited to pitch their projects to an expert panel at Solarplaza’s ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference in Ivory Coast, October 25 – 26, where the industry’s biggest players will hold extensive discussions about solutions for Africa’s solar energy funding gap.

It comes as part Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’s goal to solve Africa’s solar energy funding gap and Phanes Group’s core strategy to collaborate with Africa-focused counterparties, such as local project owners, governments, and developers on projects that seek to create a sustainable future for urban and rural communities across the sub-Saharan region.

“Clean energy has the potential to transform sub-Saharan Africa for years to come, but successfully implemented PV solar projects require a diverse mix of expertise and knowledge to bring them to financial close,” said Martin Haupts, CEO, Phanes Group. “We believe the Phanes Group Solar Incubator will leverage untapped local PV potential, and create more opportunities for local projects. Combined with our strengths in developing bankable solutions for clean, affordable energy and efforts in CSR, the incubator initiative can help to address local needs that haven’t yet been met.”

There are currently more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa(www.WorldEnergyOutlook.org/africa) living without electricity, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which works to ensure global access to reliable, affordable and clean energy.

This initiative aims to support developers not just in the funding phase, but throughout the project development and delivery phases, to ensure important, CSR-focused projects are brought to financial close. Phanes Group, along with its partners, will provide PV developers with access to a reliable partner that will support them in reaching bankability. Through an initial incubator phase, extensive mentorship, and access to the right network, this year’s candidate will have an opportunity to roll-out a sustainable energy solution in their community, as well as develop a lasting relationship with an end-to-end, integrated solar expert.

After the winning project has been announced at the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ event, the developers will be invited to join Phanes Group for an intensive 4-day workshop at its headquarters in Dubai, UAE. This will help lay the foundations for delivering a bankable and sustainable project.

“As dreamers of a future where everybody can have access to electricity for a fair price, initiatives focused on long-term success like the Phanes Group’s Solar Incubator are always dear to our hearts,” said Edwin Koot, Solarplaza. “Renewable energy infrastructure projects result in myriad benefits. We wish participants the best in bringing forth this ripple effect to their communities, and look forward to meeting them at the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference this October,” Edwin Koot added.

More about the Solar Power Incubator 

The inaugural Solar Incubator, held under the theme of ‘Your Project, Our Expertise, For a Sustainable Future’, will be supported by Solarplaza, Hogan Lovells, responsAbility, and Proparco.

The initiative aims to select and develop PV project opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa that haven’t been able to gain access to funding and necessary know-how. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an integral part of this initiative; along with the project details a solid CSR concept must be submitted and will be further developed during the incubator phase, and implemented in parallel with execution of the PV project.

The candidate of the winning project will enter a partnership with Phanes Group and hold a long-term stake in the project, collaboratively bringing it to financial close. With the incubator, Phanes Group and its partners will provide the winner with extensive mentorship and knowledge transfer throughout the project.

The deadline to submit projects for evaluation and shortlisting ends on October 1, 2017. The final selection process will take place during a live panel session in the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, October 25-26, 2017, where the winner will be announced. Interested candidates can submit directly on the PV Solar Incubator Competition website at www.PhanesGroup.com/incubator or on the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference website at http://Africa.unlockingsolarcapital.com/solar-incubator.

Phanes Group is an international solar energy developer, investment and asset manager, strategically headquartered out of Dubai with a local footprint in sub-Saharan Africa, through its two offices in the region’s largest economies – Nigeria and South Africa.
Phanes Group has a pipeline of 600 MW under development in Africa, with 260 MW of grid connected solar PV in Nigeria across three different projects. The first of the three to be built, in the Sokoto region, is backed by one of the Nigerian government’s 14 PPAs. In addition, the group is developing off-grid solar solutions to ensure communities across the region have access to a stable and clean energy supply.
Established in 2012, Phanes Group’s integrated approach, combining financial and engineering expertise, enables the company to deliver end-to-end solar energy solutions. The group has a growing portfolio of solar investments and developments spanning multiple geographies with a distinct focus on emerging markets, especially MENA and sub-Saharan Africa.

Unlocking Solar Capital Africa is an event entirely focused on connecting solar project development and finance & investment across the entire African solar sector (On-grid Solar, micro-grids, off-grid lighting and household electrification). Unlocking Solar Capital Africa 2017 will bring together hundreds of representatives from development banks, investment funds, solar developers, IPPs, EPCs & other solar stakeholders to engage in extensive discussions to solve Africa’s solar energy funding gap – and get projects realized.
As a professional solar event organizer, Solarplaza has hosted over 90 events in 30 countries around the world, ranging from exploratory trade missions in emerging markets to large-scale conferences with 450+ participants. Unlocking Solar Capital Africa 2017 is Solarplaza’s 8th conference on the African continent, and directly builds on our previous Unlocking Solar Capital Africa (Nairobi, Kenya) and Making Solar Bankable (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) conferences.
For more information regarding the program, attendees, and registrations, visit http://Africa.unlockingsolarcapital.com.

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FIFA orders SAfrica to replay Senegal WC qualifier
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
South Africa's Andile Jali (L) passes Senegal's Saliou Ciss (R) during the 2018 World Cup qualifying football match between South Africa and Senegal on November 12, 2016 at the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

South Africa’s Andile Jali (L) passes Senegal’s Saliou Ciss (R) during the 2018 World Cup qualifying football match between South Africa and Senegal on November 12, 2016 at the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

Paris (AFP) – FIFA on Wednesday ordered a World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Senegal to be replayed after the referee was banned for match fixing.

The November 2016 tie, which will be restaged in November, was won by South Africa 2-1 after Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey awarded them a controversial penalty.

Lamptey was initially suspended for three months by African football’s ruling body CAF for awarding a penalty for a non-existant handball”, with FIFA handing down the life ban in March.

News of the rematch comes as a boost for Senegal, who are placed third, one point behind Cape Verde and Burkina Faso in African zone qualifying Group D, with two games to go.

Only the group winners secure a ticket to the 2018 finals in Russia.

FIFA explained the decision to replay the game had come after sport’s highest court CAS had confirmed “the lifetime ban of match referee, Joseph Lamptey, for match manipulation, the ruling imposed by the FIFA Disciplinary and Appeal Committees”.

The statement added: “The match will be replayed within the November 2017 international window, with the exact date to be confirmed in due course.

*AFP

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Five years on: Syngenta’s Africa ambition bearing fruit, but access to technology by small farmers remains limited
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Smallholder development projects, run in partnership with industry, academia, farmer organisations, civil society and enabled by national governments and international organizations, are crucial to achieving impact at scale
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, September 6, 2017/ —

  • African market leader in agritech initiates stock-taking exercise with African partners
  • African Green Revolution Forum a “springboard” for forging more collaborations to reach more smallholders
A lead farmer checks his rice field in Senegal

A lead farmer checks his rice field in Senegal

In 2012, following the G8 in Camp David, USA, Syngenta (www.Syngenta.com) announced an ambitious ten-year growth plan for our African business. This year marks the midway point in our African growth journey. Syngenta wrote in the Wall Street Journal “the continent can be food-secure within a generation…a boon for business and humanity alike” (May 22, 2012). As we take stock, what have we achieved so far and where are the bottlenecks?

Tabitha Muthoni grows tomatoes in Utange, near Mombasa. There are more than 450 million smallholder farmers like her around the globe, most of whom have family farms of less than 2 hectares of land.

For farmers like Tabitha, increased productivity can make a big difference in their ability to support their families, send their children to school and continue investing in their fields.

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Since 2016, Tabitha has been part of Mavuno Zaidi, a project by Syngenta and TechnoServe that tackles difficulties faced by potato and tomato farmers in Kenya, including access to inputs, training opportunities and post-harvest storage solutions. Farmers participating also get better linkages to local markets. “Before the program” Tabitha says, “I had tried out tomato farming but had little knowledge on the crop and its diseases, often visiting agrovets with picked leaves to explain the problems I was facing.” Now she makes $5,000 per season on her small tomato farm—an increase from $2,000—and has grown from 4 to 11 employees.

To date, Mavuno Zaidi, or “grow more” in Swahili, has helped Syngenta and TechnoServe reach over 25,000 farmers, returning an average productivity increase of 185% for those tomato farmers.

Reaching out to farmers like Tabitha is just one example of our Africa ambition.

Alexandra Brand, Syngenta’s Regional Director for Europe, Africa and Middle East, joining this week’s AGRF explains, “Our chief aim is supporting the inclusion of smallholder farmers into viable value-chains so that they produce more of what national and global markets want. We strive to transform farmer yields at scale and increase their profitability in a way that creates sustainable value.”

How does Syngenta do this exactly?

Alexandra summarizes: “Our expertise lays in bringing top-class technology and agronomic knowledge tailored to the needs of diverse growers. Recognizing that Syngenta cannot achieve these goals alone and that farmers require holistic solutions, we continue to invest in innovative partnerships. These collaborations must tackle such barriers faced by African farmers as access to inputs, inadequate financial solutions, limited produce aggregation, dysfunctional markets, skills and information gaps.”

But despite many collaborative efforts, progress is slow.

Moving Africa closer to the UN Sustainability Development Goal of “Zero Hunger” requires long-term commitment. Moreover, the food chain revolving around the smallholder remains too disjointed.

Alexandra elaborates: “We see AGRF as a springboard to build stronger partnerships with like-minded organizations who share our vision and who can complement our skills and expertise with their own.”

Smallholder development projects, run in partnership with industry, academia, farmer organisations, civil society and enabled by national governments and international organizations, are crucial to achieving impact at scale. We at Syngenta believe that only through creative and committed collaborations can farmers access the full suite of products and services they need to succeed.

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Syngenta is a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources. Through world class science and innovative crop solutions, our 28,000 people in over 90 countries are working to transform how crops are grown. We are committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities.

Working across more than 50 countries in Africa and the Middle East with a team of over 3000 people, Syngenta is driving growth through local investment, capacity building and business development initiatives that aim to provide crop protection and seed technologies tailored to the specific needs of this territory’s vast potential. Our ambition is to increase large and small scale farmer’s ability to sustainably invest in agriculture, leading to dignified livelihoods and thriving rural communities.

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Africa50 to Announce its New Strategy, New Investments, and New Members at its Shareholder Meeting in Dakar on September 12
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

CASABLANCA, Morocco, 7 September 2017, Africa50, the pan-African infrastructure investment platform, will hold its third Shareholders Meeting in Dakar on Tuesday, September 12, at 11:00 a.m. at the King Fahd Hotel.

Hosting the first such meeting in West Africa, his Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, will welcome the delegates. His Excellency Bruno Tshibala, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will also attend. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Africa50, will give a feature address, and Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé will provide updates on Africa50’s most recent investments and its growing investment pipeline, as well as announcing two new country shareholders. Africa50’s 23 shareholder governments will be represented by finance ministers, senior officials, and ambassadors. Distinguished members of the business community and the Senegalese government will also attend.

Delegates will review Africa50’s 2016 activities and approve its financial statements. Africa50’s Board of Directors will present the fund’s updated investment, fund-raising and capital increase strategies.

Following the event, the media is invited to a press conference with the principals at 12:30 p.m. at the hotel conference center.

Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to the continent’s growth by developing and investing in bankable projects, catalyzing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact.

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Sierra Leone: The Land of the Lion Mountain
September 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

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Parminder Vir OBE with TEF Entrepreneurs at the Sierra Leone meetup in the Statehouse

Parminder Vir OBE with TEF Entrepreneurs at the Sierra Leone meetup in the Statehouse

One can never write a full story about disasters in Africa without talking about Sierra Leone. Hence, there will be many questions left unanswered on why the country moves from one form of disaster to the other.

Last month, Mr. Tony Elumelu, Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, invited me to accompany him to Sierra Leone. He was going to lend his support to President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone who were once again gripped by grief as a result of the devastating mudslides and floods that claimed hundreds of innocent lives and left many more still missing. He was amongst the first African business sector leaders to do the same when Ebola struck Sierra Leone in 2013; based on his fundamental belief that ‘Africans must help Africans.’

In the company of the Sierra Leonean President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, and the former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr. Elumelu, together with his team and I, visited some of the survivors at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown upon arrival in the country. Later, at the Sierra Leonean Statehouse, he donated USD$250,000 on behalf of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and another USD$250,000 on behalf of staffs, management, and Directors of United Bank for Africa (UBA) as emergency aid grants for victims of the mudslides.

Located on the west coast of Africa, Sierra Leone is a small country in terms of land mass. It totals 71,470 square kilometres with a population of just 7 million people. But it manages to squeeze beaches, rainforests, mountains, savannah grasslands, marshes, mangrove swamps and rivers into its relatively small size. Sierra Leone is belted on the west and southwest by the Atlantic Ocean, on the northwest, north, and northeast by Guinea, and on the east and southeast by Liberia. The capital and largest city is Freetown. Sierra Leone gained her independence from Britain in 1961 and became a republic on April 19, 1971. Comparatively, very few countries have faced as many natural disasters as Sierra Leone. Obviously, the more things change, the more they stay the same for Sierra Leone. At least 400 people were killed, hundreds more are still missing, and thousands have been rendered homeless in the mudslide that took place on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Freetown, in the early hours of August 14, 2017. The mudslide ranks as the country’s worst natural disaster in recent years and builds on years of the devastating impact of Ebola and before that civil war. And yet, for a natural disaster, it was not entirely unexpected bearing in mind that Freetown records the highest annual rainfall in Africa and previous flood incidents, while less devastating, have occurred. This incident can be linked to years of poor urban development planning. To avert similar situations from recurring in the future, Sierra Leone’s government will have to enforce urban planning regulations to prevent poorly planned construction of homes.

In its disastrous eleven year civil war, beginning in 1991, thousands of people lost their lives, countless more suffered mutilation, or rape and population was displaced. An official end to the civil war was declared in January 2002. By that time, it was estimated that at least 50,000 people had died, with hundreds of thousands more affected by the violence and some two million people displaced by the conflict. Sierra Leone with a very strong history of resilience, cannot continue to move from one problem to another.

On flying into the airport in Lungi, I could feel the impact of the latest disaster and see it in the faces of the people, gleaming with life, brilliance, and pain. The airport in Lungi, I discovered, is located on the opposite side of the mouth of a  giant river flowing towards the capital. We took a water taxi – Sea Coach Express – from Tagrin as the only alternative to a four-hour drive to the capital. On my first trip to Sierra Leone, despite the choppy sea, I was able to reflect on all that I had learnt about the history, cultures, and people of this extraordinary country through my past research as a filmmaker; reading fiction and non-fiction from some of its most brilliant writers like Aminatta Forna and watching documentaries by the award winning Salone documentary filmmaker Sorious Samaura. And of course, who can forget the Hollywood film Blood Diamond; story of the illicit diamond trade and its funding of the civil war in Sierra Leone, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou. I recalled a line from the movie by Danny Archer played by Leonardo DiCaprio “Sometimes I wonder …. Will god ever forgive us for what we’ve done to each other? Then I look around and I realise….God left this place a long time ago.” But still, the spirit of the people of Sierra Leone endures.

We had arranged to meet the ten Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurs from Sierra Leone who have been selected for the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. We know they hold the key to the sustainable development of Sierra Leone and were keen to hear the impact of this latest tragedy on their emerging businesses. Indeed, their President had travelled to Lagos in October 2016 to speak to the 2016 TEF Entrepreneurs, applauding Tony Elumelu’s promise to not only empower entrepreneurs, but also to tackle the fundamental economic challenges confronting the African continent. Focusing on the uniqueness of TEF’s approach to entrepreneurship development, President Koroma hailed the programme as “a genuinely innovative approach to philanthropy in Africa – “an African offering African solutions.” He told their audience, “What is unique about this programme is that it not only provides a platform for entrepreneurs to build connections, but they are also being taught how to build their businesses in a sustainable way”.

We met the entrepreneurs in the Sierra Leonean Statehouse, built in 1895, it was the residence of the Governor of Sierra Leone and today the office of the President of Sierra Leone and his official residence. European contacts with Sierra Leone were among the first in West Africa. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the land and gave Sierra Leone its present name, which means “lion mountain.” The country was named by Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra, who mapped the region in 1462, built a fort and began trading in gold, ivory, and humans. This journey across the Atlantic was embarked upon from the Freetown Peninsula estuary; the place in which today’s Sea Coach Express now docks.

The dehumanising slave trade had a significant impact on Sierra Leone, as this trade flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries, and later as a centre of anti-slavery efforts when the trade was abolished in 1807. In 1808, Sierra Leone became a British Crown colony. It was while researching for Redemption Song, a BBC series on the history, politics and cultures of the Caribbean) that I first learnt about the colony organised by the British for the black settlers known as Black Loyalists of Freetown. The black settlers, referred to as the Creoles or Krios were returning to Africa in the late 18th century: freed slaves from Nova Scotia, the Maroons from Jamaica and poor blacks from Britain. The slave narratives of this time are fascinating. Today, the Krios are part of the rich ethnic diversity of Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone is well endowed in natural resources which is both an asset and “resource curse”. Freetown commands one of the world’s largest natural harbours. Sierra Leone is a mining centre. Its land yields diamondsrutilebauxitegoldiron and limonite. Diamond is the key natural resources that is found in the KonoKenema and Bodistricts in Sierra Leone. The mining industry of Sierra Leone accounted for 4.5 percent of the country’s GDP in 2007 and minerals made up 79 percent of total export revenue with diamonds accounting for 46 percent of export revenue in 2008. According to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (2014 Report), Sierra Leone received USD 58 million in revenue from its extractive industry operations. Eighty five percent of these revenues came from the mining sector, with the rest mainly stemming from exploration activities in the petroleum sector. Unfortunately, the country’s rich natural resources have not metamorphosed into economic growth. Sierra-Leone is among the poorest countries in Africa. This is sad, if we consider the fact that Sierra Leone was the attractive hub destination for international visitors in the 1990s.

Sierra Leone must capitalise on its human resources, which is the most important resource that any country can have. The entrepreneurs we met are a testament to that. These entrepreneurs are building businesses that focus on local solutions for local challenges in agriculture, waste management, construction and renewable energy, to name but a few. They are eager to share their business stories, impact of the disaster on their families and friends, as well as their hopes and aspirations. We were interrupted by the President and Mr Elumelu to meet the entrepreneurs who gave their best business elevator pitch in the short time. The TEF Meet-Ups are a critical pillar of the programme, with Mr Elumelu leveraging his convening power to introduce the TEF entrepreneurs to their respective presidents and policy makers and evangelising entrepreneurship across Africa.

Edward Nonie, one of the TEF Entrepreneurs, shares his story of how he had volunteered his company’s services and man power to the UN Operations to provide immediate risk assessment, topographical mapping using drones and geological surveys of the mudslide sites on Sugar Loaf Mountain, where the disaster occurred. Listening, I am impressed by just how far this startup has come in just one year with training, mentoring and seed grant of $5000 he has received from the Foundation’s entrepreneurship programme! Imagine the impact, if the government and the private sector leaders in Sierra Leone came together to empower talented entrepreneurs like him to develop local solutions to local challenges?”

Entrepreneurs, like Edward Nonie, hold the key to the development of Sierra Leone and the government must invest in them and the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem: Business Support, Finance, Human Capital, Culture, Policy, Research & Development, Infrastructure, and Access to Markets. Investing in these eight pillars will promote entrepreneurship and market system performance which are vital for job and wealth creation. Sierra Leone will be doomed to continue with the begging bowl for decades to come if it fails to invest in these eight pillars. In all people, even in Sierra Leone, you find different kinds of talents, and entrepreneurship is about harnessing those talents, and making sure that it takes people to another level in their personal development.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship in the continent with the aim of discovering and raising African entrepreneurs through training, mentoring, networking, and funding of start-ups on the African continent. The annual TEF Entrepreneurship Programme which commits $100 million to training, mentoring, and funding of 10,000 African entrepreneurs, over 10 years, is the largest business plan competition on the continent. In 2015, the foundation received 20,000 applications. In 2016, this doubled to 45,000. This year over 93,000 African Entrepreneurs applied from 54 African countries. So, it is important for the government to develop the private sector and to create an environment that enables entrepreneurs to flourish.

In Sierra Leone, entrepreneurship is still at it ‘teething stage’. There is a disconnect between Business Support Services and Entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone. The business environment in Sierra-Leone must be developed. The Doing Business 2017 report, conducted by the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank, ranks Sierra Leone 148 out of 190 economies for overall ease of doing business, down 3 places from its 2016 rank. Africa sits at the bottom in the global rank of infrastructure by continent and Sierra Leone is in the bottom tier therein. The scale of Sierra Leone’s infrastructure deficit has been compounded by a staggering rate of urbanization, whereby 38% of residents are now urban dwellers. Sierra Leone’s network of trunk and feeder roads is severely deteriorated and unable to provide all-weather access to key producing centres (AFDB, 2016). Obviously, entrepreneurship cannot thrive without strengthening these eight key areas. Although there are a lot of barriers, entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone is necessary for the country to become a developed nation.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation has designed a unique “made in Africa, by an African and for Africans entrepreneurship programme” which we know works. We would like to offer this structured approach to growing the next generation of African Entrepreneurs to Sierra Leone and other African nation to adopt and adapt for their respective countries. While Mr Tony Elumelu’s donation of $500,000 will go towards addressing the immediate challenge, it is the long-term investment in the human capital that will yield sustainable transformation of the beautiful Sierra Leone. Entrepreneurship is the surest way forward for economic growth and development

As we leave Sierra Leone, I feel compelled to return, to spend more time meeting people, hearing their stories, their hopes, and ambitions. I am reminded of the words of Ishmael Beah, author and human rights activist. A child soldier in the Sierra Leone civil war, he rose to fame with his critically acclaimed memoir, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Solider. He said: “I guess what I’d like to say is that people in Sierra Leone are human beings, just like Americans. They want to send their kids to school; they want to live in peace; they want to have their basic rights of life just like everyone else. I think we all owe an obligation to support people who want to do that.”

Africans can help Africans. Tony Elumelu has taken a bold step. This is a clarion call to all. As Pope John Paul II once said: “Nobody is so poor that he has nothing to give, and nobody is so rich that he has nothing to receive.”  Sierra Leone may be lagging, but no matter how long the night, the day is sure to come.

*CEO at The Tony Elumelu Foundation.Article culled from Linkedin page

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ATA’s 41st Annual World Tourism Conference Showcases African Tourism
September 5, 2017 | 0 Comments
Rwandan President Paul Kagame in a hand shake with Florie Liselle of the CCA

Rwandan President Paul Kagame in a hand shake with Florie Liselle of the CCA

Kigali, Rwanda – September 5, 2017: The Africa Travel Association (ATA) hosted the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Kigali, Rwanda from August 28-31, 2017. The conference, which was developed to promote tourism as an engine for economic growth across Africa, was attended by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, who delivered the keynote address.

Hosted in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), The 41st Annual World Tourism Conference attracted a select group of more than 200 public and private stakeholders in the African tourism sector including ministers of tourism, senior officials of national tourism boards from across the continent, airlines, hotels, travel agents and tour operators, as well digital platforms and service providers in the tourism industry such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, MasterCard, Tastemakers Africa, Facebook, Uber, Afro Tourism, Tourvest, and Marriott International.

In addition to President Kagame, other notable guests included Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary-General, Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB and the United States Ambassador to Rwanda, Amb. Erica Barks Ruggles.

“Rwanda, like other countries on the continent, is keen to convert our favourable demographics into economic growth and prosperity,” said President Kagame in his keynote address. “The services sector – in particular, tourism – provides some of the best opportunities.”

Tourism is already doing well in Rwanda and the country is a strong example of how tourism can boost economic growth. The tourism sector is the country’s largest foreign exchange earner and Rwanda has liberalized its visa policies, which has led to a huge growth in tourists especially from Africa. The government is also investing heavily in infrastructure including a new airport to support a growing number of tourists. President Kagame did note however, that more could still be done to grow Rwandan tourism especially by harnessing technology and the new opportunities technological innovation can bring.

“This conference is particularly important to us, because tourism plays a key role in Rwanda’s economy,” said Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB, who welcomed attendees to Rwanda. According to Ms. Akamanzi, Rwanda’s tourism receipts doubled between 2010 and 2016 to more than USD $400 million.

CCA President and CEO, Ms. Florie Liser focused on the unique role ATA and CCA will play in the sector’s development “Under CCA’s new vision and leadership, I would like to affirm our commitment to continuing the promotion of sustainable development of tourism to and within Africa through new initiatives,” said Ms. Liser. One of those initiatives, ATAcademy, is a platform to support capacity building and inclusive growth for tourism professionals on the continent. The second initiative, ATA Connex, will focus on increasing investments in tourism through facilitated business-to-business and business-to-government linkages.

As part of the ATAcademy initiative, ATA hosted a series of capacity building sessions at the conference. Travel agents and tour operators attended sessions focused on North American travelers and on the tourism market and sustainability. “The United States – we are pleased to say – accounts for the single largest source of tourism in Rwanda as well as the largest single bilateral foreign direct investment country,” said U.S. Ambassador Erica Barks Ruggles.

UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, shared highlights of the recent UNCTAD report on African tourism, Economic Development in Africa Report 2017: Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth. “The most startling and interesting discovery in our study is that by far, the fastest growing tourism in Africa is intra-African tourism,” said Dr, Kituyi. “Intra-African tourism is 12 months a year.” Over the last 10 years, intra-African tourism has grown from 34 percent to 44 percent of total African tourism revenues and is projected to be more than 50 percent in the next 10 years. Dr. Kituyi also emphasized a need to change Africa’s image perception and the importance of peace and security for tourism to thrive.

In less than 15 years, Africa’s travel and hospitality industries have quadrupled in size, and the continent remains one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia. The 41st World Tourism Conference featured more than 20 in-depth plenaries and breakout sessions with industry experts and professionals to discuss the latest trends and insights in African tourism and how best to grow the continent’s market share.

This year was the first time ATA’s Tourism Conference was hosted in Rwanda. The conference aligned with Kwita Izina, Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, a national celebration creating awareness of the country’s efforts to protect the jewel of Rwanda’s tourism crown: the mountain gorillas and their habitat.

About the Africa Travel Association 

Established in 1975, The African Travel Association serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry. ATA membership comprises African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour operators and travel agents, and affiliate industries. ATA partners with the African Union Commission (AU) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa.

About the Corporate Council on Africa

Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting U.S. and African business interests. CCA serves as a neutral, trusted intermediary connecting its member firms with the essential government and business leaders they need to do business and succeed in Africa.

*Courtesy of CCA

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Africa Business Radio launches new show to unpack Africa’s reputational challenges and opportunities.
September 5, 2017 | 0 Comments
Talking to Africa is a new show on Africa Business Radio (ABR) that will be making its debut on Wednesday, 27th September. The show will broadcast on Wednesdays at 3pm with repeats on Thursdays and Mondays at 9am SAT. The objective of Talking to Africa is to discuss the narrative of Africa: what it currently is, who shapes it, how it impacts the continent’s development and what can be done to ensure Africans own their own storytelling tools and platforms.

Following on the release of her new e-book, Talking to Africa: Considering Culture in Communications for a Complex Continent, PR and Communications maven, Mimi Kalinda, continues the work of ensuring Africans are given a platform to shift the African narrative.

Author and Managing Director of Africommunications Group (ACG), a pan-African public relations company, and now the new host of Talking to Africa, Mimi leverages her experience of almost two decades in communications in Africa and abroad to argue and highlight the importance of giving Africans a voice and recreating the African continent’s narrative.

The first episode of Talking to Africa is to discuss Africa’s shift from what the Economist once dubbed “The Dark Continent” to “Africa Rising” and the exploration will be led by a common goal: to explore and get to know the factors, circumstances and people who shape Africa’s narrative, why and how they do it, and what can be done towards achieving reputational equity for Africa that is fair, balanced and truly representative of the realities on the continent. Subsequent episodes of the show’s first season will discuss Agenda 2063, African youth immigrating to Europe, the reforms of the African Union, trade issues in East Africa, African leadership and the issue of culture, African identity and social cohesion, decolonizing African education, Cameroon’s Francophone and Anglophone conflict, colonial tax in the modern world, trade and politics in Southern Africa, democracy, and Africa’s contribution to scientific discovery.

Mimi is an advocate of the African continent and its growth. She regularly writes and speaks about how shaping Africa’s narrative positively is vital for the continent to fulfil its potential. She is an Associate of the 2017 Archbishop Tutu Fellow Leadership programme, sits on the Africa Brand Counsel and was nominated for the Women4Africa Awards 2016 as a finalist for the International African Woman of the Year Award.

About Africa Business Radio

Africa Business Radio is a multi-platform digital business radio station combining the power of traditional online with mobile, social media and Podcast to reach a wider community of business and institutional leaders.

Live Radio: Africa Business Radio

Podcast: ABR Podcast

We provide insights and analysis regarding the Business Landscape across Africa, ranging from startups to economics, providing stories useful for doing or planning to do business in Africa.
Our goal is to reduce the risk of failure for businesses of all sizes expanding into or across Africa by demystifying the complexity of the African Business Landscape.

We are on a mission to promote economic growth and prosperity for all business establishments currently doing business in or expanding into Africa by providing invaluable insights into the opportunity and complexity of Africa’s business landscape.


Talking to Africa reviews how understanding the cultural dynamics of four major African markets (Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa) can lead to the development and more successful implementation of communications strategies that are results-driven. Mimi argues that understanding, developing and implementing communications strategies that are attuned with local audiences in complex African markets can help domestic and multinational companies, non-governmental organisations and individuals looking to work in Africa benefit from the multiplicity of experiences, backgrounds, attitudes and networks that represent their target audiences.Talking to Africa is available on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6C8ROD)

*Courtesy of African Media Agency (AMA)

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Revolution On The Way For African Football with Afro Millions Lotto- James Leppard of Offertas 365
September 4, 2017 | 2 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

 

James Leppard is CEO of Ofertas365

James Leppard is CEO of Ofertas365

Launched in partnership with the Nigerian Football League, the Afro Millions Lotto will offer players and football fans the ability to win life changing jack pots, says James Leppard ,CEO of Ofertas 365,the British based company operating the Lotto.

Ofertas 365 helps football clubs and charities in emerging markets raise money through the lotto, says James Leppard who believes that the initiative could help grow the game in Nigeria and Africa.

“Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country; it offers the biggest possible audience and has the most advanced football league,” says Leppard in justification of the choice to launch Afro Millions there. The plan is to progressively move to other African counties ,Leppard said.

“In most African countries, sports clubs and charities have not started commercializing their supporter base. AfroMillionsLotto will serve to start this process, allowing people to compete for life-changing jackpot prizes whilst helping their chosen club or charity,” said Leppard.

Can you start by introducing your company Ofertas 365?

Ofertas365 Limited is a publicly traded company on the dcsx. It is a UK company with three directors, four board advisors (including three from Nigeria) and more than 120 shareholders.

Your company is launching  the Afro Millions Lotto (www.afromillionslotto.com)  with the football league in Nigeria, can you explain the logic behind this lottery and why the choice of Nigeria?

Lotto is a very popular way to raise funds in the UK – from football clubs such as Arsenal, Leicester City, Swansea City, WBA in the English Premier League; Glamorgan, Durham and Hampshire cricket clubs; Gloucester, Sale Sharks and Wasps rugby clubs, through to charities including the RSPCA and Cancer Research, all of whom raise money through their own lotto.

In most African countries, sports clubs and charities have not started commercializing their supporter base. AfroMillionsLotto will serve to start this process, allowing people to compete for life-changing jackpot prizes whilst helping their chosen club or charity.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country; it offers the biggest possible audience and has the most advanced football league, as well as being recognised as an international football power.

In what way do you think this lottery is going to help the growth of football in Nigeria?

Clubs get a share of the revenue from every ticket sold – people can only buy tickets from the clubs’ lotto website – so whoever wants to play (football fans or otherwise) has to buy a ticket from one of the NPFL clubs. Clubs will earn recurring revenue to enable them to spend money on player development, youth football and academies, stadium and pitch improvements, for example. AfroMillionsLotto also provides their fans and communities great entertainment value and additional engagement with the club.

Is Ofertas365 doing  business in any other part of Africa at the moment or do you have plans to expand the lottery to other parts of Africa?

Nigeria is our first footprint in Africa, but we have ambitious plans to replicate the model throughout the continent, wherever we may operate under our license.

For countries or clubs interested in your services, what needs to be done, or is it Ofertas that makes the first move when it sees potential?

Clubs, leagues or federations are invited to contact us via www.afromillionslotto.com – we are already pitching to a number of other federations and charities.

Your company is based in London and the English league is one of the best, what can Africa learn from that league and what lotteries like yours can do to add fun and advance the game ?

The English Premier League is the benchmark. African clubs can certainly learn from the EPL how to commercialise their fan bases; be it merchandise, events, credit cards, loyalty cards or sports betting and lotto. The clubs in the UK are expert at generating extra revenue – beyond match day ticket sales – through their fans, most of whom are staunchly loyal to the clubs they support.

Any other plans that Ofertas has in the works for Africa ?

Following our launch with the NPFL, we would like to work with every football league in Africa as well as charities across the continent.

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RAILA ODINGA: THE CONFLICTING PERSONALITY OF AN ELECTION PETITION WINNER
September 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Chief Charles A. Taku*

NASA Presidential aspirant Raila Odinga addressing the Press

NASA Presidential aspirant Raila Odinga addressing the Press

Honourable Raila Omolo Odinga, the controversial and polarizing Kenyan opposition politician is a conflicted personality. He is a career politician and civil society political activist combined.  These qualities make him unmistakably the Lakayana of Kenyan politics. While both qualities may on occasion advance his diverse political objectives, they often collide at critical moments in his political life making the attainment of his political ambition elusive.

These qualities make him complex; even mesmerizing. Those who love and adore him, do so passionately. Those who abhor and distrust him do so passionately in equal measure. He is unmistakably a polarizing personality in dire need of political power in a country in need of a uniting leader.

During the last election which earned Uhuru Kenyatta his first presidential mandate, Philip Ochieng, one of the most respected journalists in Kenya, wrote in the Sunday Nation that following on the footsteps of his father Jaramogi Odinga Odinga, Raila Omolo Odinga was his own worst enemy. All it needs to prove the validity of this assessment, is to provide Raila with a platform and crowd.  Then he has no control over his speech, its consequences and its political cost.  This quality was on display when he faced the press, his cheering supports and an anxious electorate after the delivery of the Supreme Judgment in his favour annulling the presidential elections in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was proclaimed the winner.

He was everything but presidential in his speech. Rather to take the opportunity of that rare election petition victory to calm a politically restive nation.  He threatened, castigated, criticized, pontificated, and baited his perceived or real enemies.  In short, he sounded more like a civil society political activist during his election petition victory speech than a presidential candidate who had just been granted another lease of life to contest a crucial election in two months. In the end, he failed to even appeal to the electorate to vote for him.

The hard fact is that, the decision of the Supreme Court of Kenya annulling the Presidential election result that favoured President Uhuru Kenyatta should be applauded not for its outcome, for like all judicial decisions it still has to undergo the rigours of informed scrutiny, but for the fact that at long last an African country, and Kenya for that matter, has proved that it has the capacity to deliver effective, efficient and independent justice. The International Criminal Court with the hypocritical approval of erstwhile colonial Western powers relied on this fallacy to violate the complementarity  safeguards of the Rome treaty to inappropriately target Kenya and indeed Africa in its interventions from when it was established.

The constitution of Kenya that provided the constitutional guarantees of the separation of powers which was exercised in the full glare and satisfaction of the world at large in particular the Western world, in this election petition,  was in place when Moreno Ocampo, urged on by the same Western actors and by Raila Odinga intervened in the 2007 election violence conflict in Kenya on the grounds that Kenya did not have an effective, efficient and independent Judiciary to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the 2007 election violence. With the present decision, the scales of prejudice have sudden fallen and the Kenya Judiciary is all praises from the patronizing erstwhile colonial West; not for the justice of the Supreme Court judgment that is still subject to judicial scrutiny, but for the fact that in context, it comes close to doing what they would have wanted done but for the fact that in this case, popular sovereignty as opposed to judiciary fiat may yet again determine the outcome of the elections in two months.

I must admit, and all respecters of the rule of law must, as President Uhuru Kenyatta did, that the Supreme Court of Kenya and indeed the lower courts before whom election petitions were brought, fulfilled their constitutional mandate effectively, efficiently and independently. For this, the Judiciary of Kenya merits praise. It always has. It is another thing if the outcome of judicial proceedings before the courts were acceptable or not.  In this case, the ultimate arbiter, call it the supreme judge is not the judiciary, it is the sovereign people of Kenya in their exercise of its inalienable, unimpeachable right of popular sovereignty to elect its leaders.

If there was any lingering doubt therefore, about the falsity of the claims that Kenya did not have an independent, efficient and effective judiciary as alleged by Moreno Ocampo and his handlers, then the successful litigation of election petitions by Kenyan lower courts and ultimately, its Supreme Court has proved them wrong. However, the ghost of the ICC was visible in this election and will remain visible in the next round and future elections. In many ways, it will inhibit the ability of Raila Odinga to win the repeat elections.

Four judges overruled two others, believing there was enough uncertainty to undermine the election result

Four judges overruled two others, believing there was enough uncertainty to undermine the election result

This may be discerned from the misplaced message conveyed through his Supreme Court election petition celebratory speech. His resolve to prosecute election officials instead of using the moment to celebrate in measured humility, reassure millions of voters who perceive him as vindictive, abrasive and dictatorial, may further alienate him from critical voters who value peace and unity of the nation over triumphalist display of person power.

During the last election which saw Uhuru Kenyatta win his first mandate, Raila squandered his best opportunity of ever becoming the President of Kenya by deconstructing a formidable alliance he formed with a youthful, ambitious, savvy and perhaps most skillful politician in Kenya Deputy Vice President William Ruto. He did so by offering him as a sacrificial lamb to Ocampo.

In his miscalculation, he perceived the ICC intervention as a means of depriving William Ruto of the possibility of sharing in the effervescence of his then rising political profile.  He miscalculated, for Mr Ruto is a political product of the majority ordinary people of Kenya who see their image in him and consider him as one of theirs. The ordinary people of Kenya have long traced and refined his path to presidential power and this is obvious even to the jaundiced eye. He has merely been playing for his time to come to embark on the journey to fulfill his people’s will.   A smart politician, he did not want to squander the opportunity when the potential path to the presidency in 2020 came calling. Raila Odinga’s political miscalculation and the ICC proceedings provided him that opportunity.

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are good students of history.  The patronizing support given by Western countries to the ICC proceedings gave them the opportunity to position themselves as defenders of the sovereignty of Kenya and the liberating cause of new Africa. The humiliating campaign against the ability of the judicial institutions of Kenya to conduct post-election violence proceedings, the same institutions that are being hailed by the same erstwhile colonial Western countries, required genuine leaders to standup to the challenge and mobilize Kenyans to defend their national pride and their sovereignty.  Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto offered this leadership while Raila Odinga largely portrayed himself through his own public pronouncements as a Western poodle in his unqualified support for the ICC proceedings. Whatever motivations he had for seeking political leadership while supporting proceedings which placed the sovereignty of his country under the ward of the ICC, in the political context of the proceedings, he was perceived as relying on the case as a means of settling internal political scores and eliminating his political opponents from contesting the elections against him.

The Supreme Court's decision sparked celebrations by supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga

The Supreme Court’s decision sparked celebrations by supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga

That backfired and he lost the elections.  The credibility of the ICC came out seriously bruised in the process because its intervention was not perceived to be in the best interest of Kenya and the victims of the election violence. The overwhelming evidence of Western interference portrayed the Kenya ICC cases as politically motivated. At the end of his mandate as the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Moreno Ocampo in published newspaper and television interviews confirmed this fact.

During this election, an ICC official in the Prosecutor’s Office made a misguided statement in a conference in Arusha in neighbouring Tanzania linking the potential outcome of the Kenya election to a potential reviving of the ICC cases in the case the opposition candidate won. This admittedly uncoordinated statement nevertheless places the statement by Raila Odinga about prosecuting election commission members into the providential focus which Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto may in addition to their largely positive development record, ride on to victory once again.

Why must Raila Odinga want to get election officials prosecuted when the Supreme Court did not make a finding of criminal conduct?  Was this a forewarning that a result short of victory for him in the repeat elections will not be accepted by him?  Was it a forewarning of another round of litigation to dissolve the election commission and compromise the organization of the election he may lose?  Will this not lead to a constitutional crisis where this to happen? No matter from what perspective this attack and threat of prosecution may be perceived, it portrays Raila Odinga as a potentially vengeful politician who thrives on the politics on politics of bitterness.

Raila Odinga squandered his moment of glory in focusing on yet another prosecution rather than taking advantage of the glare and focus of the moment to mobilize his base and Kenyans in general to give him their votes in two months. He failed to appeal for peace, reconciliation and national healing after a very polarizing judicial experience. He failed to explain why he sought for the poll to be nullified to the electorate. He impressed professional judges of the Supreme Court about his reasons for seeking and obtaining an annulment of the elections in which he lost.  He still must do a better job explaining to the electorate he will be facing in two months.

The case, its outcome and his celebratory rhetoric may energize the majority who voted against him to defend their franchise by voting against him in even greater numbers.  The bane of Raila Odinga has always been his inability to reconcile Raila the civil society political activist from Raila the career politician.  He has never understood that although bed partners, these attributes are on critical occasions strange bed fellows.  The bull instant in political activism is at critical moments, the bane of career politicians. It may take an election petition victory and a repeat election to lose for Raila Odinga to finally come to terms with this reality.

In contrast, Uhuru Kenyatta was presidential and humble in his speech in which he disagreed with the outcome of the judgment but accepted the outcome nevertheless.  Calling for peace to reign, he took the opportunity to relaunch his election campaign. He reminded the people of Kenya to whom he and his deputy have turned to since the ICC challenge, that the power to decide the destiny of Kenya belonged to them not to six individuals constituting a court of law.

That appeal succeeded and helped them to win the Presidential elections regarding the ICC proceedings. It may succeed once more with the Supreme Court Judgment acting as a tonic, call it a fig leaf of mobilization for a greater electoral victory come two months.   Raila Odinga by promising Kenyans further court cases and prosecutions may have paved the way for the people to deny him that opportunity. He may have unwittingly placed the spotlight on the focus on the possibility of a revived ICC nightmare under a Raila Odinga presidency.  He seems not to have learnt the painful lesson that his prior support for this nightmare among other reasons led to a majority of his people rejecting him in the last election.

Kenyans know that Raila did not challenge the election outcome which largely favoured his opponent. He challenged but the constitutionality and the legality of the conduct of the elections. His greatest challenge remains how to convince the majority that elected Uhuru and Ruto to switch over and vote for him. If he carefully reflected on the Supreme Court Judgment prior to making his celebratory speech, he should have known that that Judgement did not find any wrong doing against Uhuru Kenyatta based on which the electorate would have sanctioned him. On the contrary, the constitutional violations, illegalities and procedural inadequacies by the election commission deprived him of victory in an election whose outcome was neither in doubt nor contested by Raila in his petition. Raila in his celebratory speech inappropriately sought inappropriately to place blames for the failures of the election commission on his adversary where none was found by the Supreme Court. If his Supreme Court election speech is a template of his election performance in two months, then I regret, he may not prevail in the court of popular sovereignty.

There are several logistical and organizational odds that militate against his ability to conduct an effective campaign within just two months.  He benefitted from a steady flow of international goodwill, tactical and strategic support during the annulled poll.  It is inconceivable, considering the electoral map of Kenya, that this key constituency will again invest in a repeat election when the outcome of the annulled election was never challenged.  The appeal for calm by President Uhuru Kenyatta apart, the calm that followed the Supreme Court Judgment may be an unmistakable exercise of confidence that in two months this silent majority may yet again reassert its sovereignty over its choice of leader. And Raila Odinga tacitly acknowledged the reality of that choice by not challenging the critical choice that was made in the annulled poll.

  • Chief Charles A. Taku is an international lawyer writing from The Hague The Netherlands.

 

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African Migrants Find Work as Beekeepers in Italy
September 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ricci Shryock*

Abdul Adan works with bees in Alessandria, Italy, Aug. 23, 2017. Adan, of Senegal, arrived in Italy in 2015, and started training at Bee My Job, a project to help migrants and refugees in Italy, in late 2016.

Alessandria, Italy (August 23, 2017) – Originally from Senegal, Abdul Adan arrived in Italy in 2015 after taking a clandestine boat from Italy. Adan started training at Bee My Job, a project to help migrants and refugees in Italy, in late 2016. Today he is one of their most succesful beekeepers and helps show other migrants and refugees how to do the work. In Italy, beekeepers and honey producers say there are a shortage of workers availalbe in the industry, so this training program benefits their business.

A group in Italy is training migrants — mostly from sub-Saharan Africa — as beekeepers, then pairing them with honey producers who need employees. Aid groups say new efforts by European leaders to stem the flow of migrants from Africa ignores the fact that Europe needs these workers. According to Oxfam, Italy alone will need 1.6 million migrants over the next 10 years.

Back in his native Senegal, the only interaction Abdul Adan ever had with bees was when one stung his mouth while he was eating fresh honey. That day, his mouth was so swollen that he didn’t leave his home in Senegal’s Casamance region. Years later as a migrant worker in Alessandria, Italy, Adan is so comfortable with the insects that he does not even use gloves as he handles their hives and inspects their progress.

“I’m looking to see if the queen is here or not,” he said, as he uses his bare hands to look for the yellow dot that indicates the queen he placed in the hive a week before. “If there was the queen, she would have started laying eggs, but I don’t see any eggs.”

Adan is part of a project called Bee My Job, in which the Italian Cambalache Association trains migrants and refugees as beekeepers and finds work for them in Italy’s agribusiness industry. The association’s president, Mara Alacqua, says they have hosted and trained 107 people — mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa — since launching in 2014.

A queen bee, marked in yellow, moves among the worker bees in Alessandria, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017.

A queen bee, marked in yellow, moves among the worker bees in Alessandria, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017.

“Our beds are always full,” she said. “Every time a person leaves the project, and so we have a spare place, that place is covered straight away just within two days’ time.”

The migrants also take language classes as part of the program. Today, Adan is fluent in Italian and, despite his initial fears, he has become one of the most successful trainees.

“The first day that Mara asked me to do the work, I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I said I have never done bee work, I was really scared that the bees would sting me and people would laugh and look at me, but afterward I figured and said I will learn, and maybe one day I can do it in my country.”

Nearly 95,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Italy this year, though in the past two months, numbers have dropped by more than 50 percent compared to last year. Experts attribute the decrease to a more aggressive approach by the Libyan coast guard to turn boats back — and Libya’s increased support from the European Union. While in Libya, Adan says he was held hostage and tortured, and then forced into slave labor before escaping on a boat to Italy.

Abdul Adan shows Elele Okbe and Kobir Hossin how to tend to beehives in Alessandria, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017.

Abdul Adan shows Elele Okbe and Kobir Hossin how to tend to beehives in Alessandria, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017.

“To do work with bees, it’s not a work that is hard,” Adan said. “I already passed through stages that are harder than working with bees. If I tell you the Libyans who took us for work, you know how much we had to eat? One piece of bread a day. And we worked hard.”

A need for migrants

Amid ongoing efforts to stem the flow, Oxfam says European leaders are ignoring the need for migrants. According to the UK-based aid group, Italy alone will need an estimated 1.6 million workers over the next decade to sustain its welfare and pension plans.

Francesco Panella, a beekeeper for more than 40 years and president of Bee Life EU, agrees that migrant workers are good for Italy.

“In reality, we have a problem in our country,” he said. “On one side, there is a huge problem with unemployment; but the other issue, it’s not at all easy to find workers for agriculture. So, in reality, Italian agriculture is based on the work of foreigners. The world changes. It’s a world of movement, movement of people.”

Ismael Soumarhoro works with bees in Tassarolo, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017. Soumahoro, originally from Guinea in West Africa, was trained in beekeeping by Italian NGO Bee My Job.

Ismael Soumarhoro works with bees in Tassarolo, Italy, Aug. 22, 2017. Soumahoro, originally from Guinea in West Africa, was trained in beekeeping by Italian NGO Bee My Job.

In a room filled with crates used to harvest honey, Panella is quick to philosophize about migration, human compassion and more. He adds that both his children are immigrants. One works in the U.S. and the other in the U.K., and his grandfather contemplated migrating to Argentina after World War II in search of opportunities. He said he keeps all these things in mind when employing migrant workers, such as Isamel Soumarhoro, from Guinea.

Soumarhoro has worked in Panella’s beekeeping operations since 2015.

“What makes me happy is the moment when I take out the honey to take back to the house, because it’s a work that is a little difficult. You see, in 2015 when I arrived, there was more honey and the employees were happy,” Soumarhoro said.

According to Panella, one of the main threats to the program is the negative impact climate change and pesticides are having on honey production. Italy’s honey production this year is down 70 percent from normal harvests, he said. Most of the migrants hope the work continues, though they struggle being so far from home.

Every morning, Abdul Adan takes a 20-minute train ride to Alessandria, Italy, where he works with bee hives and in an organic garden to sell produce, Aug. 22, 2017. "I feel very lonely, very very," he says.

Every morning, Abdul Adan takes a 20-minute train ride to Alessandria, Italy, where he works with bee hives and in an organic garden to sell produce, Aug. 22, 2017. “I feel very lonely, very very,” he says.

“I feel very lonely, very very,” Adan said. “Sometimes when I think of my family, it makes me want to go back home, but that’s the story of immigration. I am looking for some means. Maybe one day I go back to my country, or one day I can bring my family. No one knows what the future holds.”

For the migrants, they hope the honey business can make tomorrow at least a bit sweeter.

*VOA

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