African Leadership Prize Withheld – Again
March 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
Sudanese telecom magnate Mo Ibrahim failed to award a $5 million African political leadership prize on Tuesday, the second year in a row that the prize has been withheld because of a lack of suitable candidates.
Since its launch in 2006, the Ibrahim Prize has been awarded only four times — to Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano, Botswana’s Festus Mogae, Cape Verde’s Pedro De Verona Rodrigues Pires and Namibia’s Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2014.
Candidates have to be democratically elected African heads of state or government who have left office in the previous three years at the end of their constitutional terms.
Although such figures are becoming less rare on a continent infamous for its coups and aging leaders, a peaceful departure after years of plunder does not guarantee the prize, as the hopeful’s record while in office is also considered.
“The prize is intended to highlight and celebrate truly exceptional leadership, which is uncommon by its very definition,” prize committee chairman Salim Ahmed Salim said in a statement accompanying the 2016 non-award.
The prize is meant to set the winner up for life, with $5 million paid out over 10 years followed by a $200,000-a-year pension. However, it does not appear to be gaining much traction with Africa’s ruling elite.
Congo Republic’s Denis Sassou Nguesso and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame have recently pushed through changes to their respective constitutions to extend their stays in power, while Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila has gone nowhere since his mandate expired in December.
One surprise late entry could have been eccentric Gambian autocrat Yahyah Jammeh, who stunned his 1.8 million countrymen — and most of the rest of Africa — when he accepted defeat in a December election after 22 years in charge.
However, he then changed his mind and only left power a month later after an invasion by thousands of Senegalese, Ghanaian and Nigerian troops.
International election observation is decades out of date. I should know.
February 27, 2017 | 0 Comments
I helped design the first African election observation mission in 1980. The world’s transformed since then, but they’re still using the same old model.
In 1979, I was a member of the Commonwealth Secretariat, an organisation that played a major role in the negotiations that led to Zimbabwe’s independence. One of the preconditions for majority rule agreed in the Lancaster House talks was that elections would be held and that they would be independently observed.
In January 1980, the month before these elections, the Commonwealth Secretariat sent a small party to what was then still Southern Rhodesia to establish a headquarters and work out whether and how this observation could be conducted.
We had no detailed instructions. Electoral observation had not been attempted before, certainly not on this scale. So two of us – Peter Snelson and I – conducted a rapid reconnaissance of the country in a single week. Our report formed the only field input for the plan then devised by Moni Malhoutra.
Both in this first week and in those that followed, we had no advanced idea of what we were doing. But our improvisation in hazardous conditions assumed a pattern and, ultimately, partly through luck, we were able to do an imperfect but respectable job given the circumstances and conditions.
Since then, I have witnessed several more African elections and seen how independent observers’ processes have become bureaucratically more robust (or fussy). However, it amazes me that despite all that’s changed in terms of how elections are conducted and fought, and how technologies have progressed, today’s observers are still essentially using the same semi-improvised, low-tech methods and models we devised in a hurry 37 years ago.
Of course, some things have changed since 1980, though not always with positive results.
One of the earliest decisions of the Commonwealth team in Zimbabwe was that observation had to be decentralised. Officials were rotated around different zones on a weekly basis, while a small secretariat remained in place in each area to prepare for the polls and liaise with the various political parties and security forces.
By and large, modern electoral observation still seeks to spread officials across the country being observed. But today, it does so without the rotation of observers, without the aim of being present for more than a month before Election Day, and without on-site secretariats. Moreover, it tends to avoid war zones or volatile areas.
In the 2010 South Sudan elections, for instance, UN peacekeeping bases were meant to provide accommodation for observers, but the Chinese and Kenyan camps did not comply. Although the Ukrainian and Canadian ones did, many regions were under curfew, so officials were discouraged from travelling to certain areas for fear of being stranded. It was often these regions that were most in need of scrutiny.
Another aspect of observation that has developed – and arguably progressed – since 1980 has been the use of bureaucratic check lists. These are indicators of good performance that can be easily tabulated to give ‘scores’ for different aspects of electoral conduct.
For example, there are now generally tick boxes for whether party agents are the right distance from the polling desks; whether special assistance was available for the disabled and elderly; whether all documents, ballots and ballot boxes were in place; whether voters’ rolls were accessible, and so on. The 1980 Zimbabwe observation sought to check similar indicators of good polling practice but without formal checklists.
However, one result of these two shifts – the rise of the tick-box, combined with a diluted version of decentralised observation – is that scrutiny of elections has become heavily focused around the day of voting itself.
Observers are dispersed to their stations just a few days prior to the vote, and governments and electoral commissions concentrate their energies on mounting an Election Day that conforms to international norms, precisely for the benefit of international officials.
This means that the preceding weeks of campaigning around the country get much less scrutiny. Yet it is in this period that systemic violence, widespread bribery and unjust infringements on freedoms of movement and expression can ensure that an election is far from “free and fair”, even if voting day itself is exemplary.
Despite some changes in practices though, the basic principles and models of election observation have changed relatively little in 37 years. However, in that same period, the nature of elections and of attempts to manipulate their results have changed quite dramatically. The age of dictators stuffing ballots and winning with an implausible 90% vote share is over. Today, when elections are stolen, much of the work is done after votes are cast and in sophisticated ways that deliberately mirror real voting patterns.
This new trend could be seen as early as a decade ago in Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections. At the time, the ruling ZANU-PF had never been less popular as the economy was tanking and hyper-inflation was running wild. Despite these problems, however, the party seemed so confident of victory that its campaign was half-hearted and shoddily executed.
It was caught unprepared then the day after the 29 March polls closed, when initial results from polling stations showed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai leading President Robert Mugabe by a factor of around 2 to 1.
Soon, the announcements slowed, then ceased altogether. The electoral commission called for patience and cited technical issues and the need for recounts.
What happened next is subject to many rumours and may never be known conclusively, but it was not until several weeks later that the official results were finally declared on 2 May. Despite the opposition’s projections and several earlier predictions of a first-round victory for Tsvangirai – some by a large margin – the electoral commissions declared him to have received just 47.9%. Short of a majority, a second round run-off would be required.
This was clearly no ordinary rigging. The time it took shows that painstaking efforts were taken to maintain a degree of credibility. The results had to be adjusted according to figures that had already been independently verified and they had to be manipulated to plausibly mirror the outcome of the parliamentary elections as well as previous voting patterns. A month to do all this was actually probably very good going.
This was one of the earlier examples of such sophisticated manipulation, but since then, it has become far more common for election results to be adjusted centrally in a subtle and somewhat believable manner, all beyond the gaze, remit and capacity of today’s observation missions.
Towards a new model
So how can election observation be made to match old and newer challenges in order to provide a genuine check on the conduct of elections?
Firstly, observation needs to be conceived of as a broader affair. It cannot be condensed into a short period of time, nor should it be seen as the exclusive activity of the accredited observer group. Civil society and other observer groups should be part of the process too.
An advance team of experts – or those briefed on the constitutional, electoral, and political affairs of the country – should be in place as a reconnaissance unit at least a month before polling day. And that team must be energetic and mobile, traversing the country. Observation is no country for old men, nor old women, the unfit, timorous or easily frightened.
In the 2010 Sudan elections, we took a simple executive decision: if we saw a European Union, African Union, or Carter Centre car, we weren’t out far enough. We kept going until there were no other observers for miles around, but then asked ‘why?’
Furthermore, officials need to know what they are looking for. For instance, subtle intimidation by means of cultural signs or local language may not be picked up by foreign observers, especially those veterans of the system who may be motivated more by the per diems than ensuring a fair ballot.
A youthful party militant rattling a box of matches – a silent promise that people’s property will be burnt if they vote against the government – can go unacknowledged. A euphemistic threat in a local language can slip under the radar. And the strategy behind targeted but seemingly low incidences of violence can easily fail to be fully appreciated.
Secondly, observation needs to adapt to current challenges. Insofar as African governments now prepare almost immaculate polling days – feats of organisation involving thousands of stations – election observation has accomplished something. But it needs a more extended and sophisticated presence during and after campaigning, including regarding the counting of votes and the testing of the count.
As Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections demonstrate, it is crucial to have officials present at all stages of the count as well as its verification. The process of counting needs to be carefully observed, but so does the moment that the electoral commission, party agents and accredited observers agree that the count reflects the parallel vote tabulation (PVT) – a methodology for independently verifying the results conducted concurrently – and when this agreement is transmitted.
Additionally, the official results should be tested against these PVTs as well as opinion polls and patterns from previous elections. The count at each stage must be tested against computer projections, calibrated according to results already submitted as well as a range of different conditions such as constituency type, electoral histories and voting patterns. This would give a measure of the plausibility and trustworthiness of the numbers being checked and announced.
This kind of number crunching is already done in many cases, not just by foreign “consultants” allegedly brought in by incumbents, but also by other interested parties and foreign embassies, though not for public release. It is time observer groups were given the same resources and capacity.
Having witnessed, or been involved in, election observation since 1980, seeing the state and effectiveness of observer missions in Africa today is highly dispiriting. Citizens depend on elections being free and fair to ensure their voices are heard, and observation therefore needs to be reflect the contemporary realities and challenges, not simply replicate a model cobbled together three decades ago.
The protection of electoral democracy today and tomorrow requires tools that cannot simply be borrowed from yesterday.
This is an abridged version of an article originally published here at Democracy in Africa.
*African Arguments.Stephen Chan is Professor of International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.
How Trump’s African Team May Shape Up
February 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
On The Heels Of Phone Call to Leaders Trump Administration Working on African Team
By Ajong Mbapndah L
With little mention of Africa in the course of his campaign, many are still scratching heads on what the African Policy of the Trump Administration will look like. A month into office,clues are few, but sources close to the Administration say slow but steady progress is been made to put in place its African team.
Administration sources familiar with the buildup of the African team say President elect Trump accepted a congratulatory call from Rwandan President Paul Kagame back in December. Reports about a meeting between Trump and Congo’s Sassou Nguesso in December were discredited when a trip to the USA by the Congolese leader ended without any encounter with President elect Trump.
On February 13, Trump had phone conversations with Nigerian President Buhari and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Though Nigeria and South Africa boast the largest economies in the continent, sources were unclear about the choice of just these two leaders, considering that the US maintains close security ties with other countries like Kenya and Uganda.
Discussions with Zuma were centered on prospects of maintaining and broadening the strongly diplomatic ties between the two countries according to South African government Officials. With about six hundred USA companies operating in South Africa, economic ties obviously came up in the discussion sources from Zuma’s office said.
Although ailing President Buhari was not in Nigeria at the time of the call, a Presidential Spokesperson said, ““President Trump assured the Nigerian president of U.S. willingness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism.”
Prior to the forced resignation of General Michael Flynn as the National Security Adviser, African policy watchers were perplexed with reports that the CIA denied a security clearance for Robin Townley, appointed to serve as Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. With the appointment of a new National Security Adviser, it is not yet clear what role will be reserved for Townley one of the officials in Trump world with on the ground experience in Africa where he served in Somalia.
Sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Rex Tillerson is still to put in his own team. Given the length of the vetting process, it is unlikely that most of the positions will be fully staffed before June 2017, said the source close to the Trump Administration.
Appointed by President Obama to serve as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, sources say Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield was as asked to stay on the job until a successor is found. Highly respected within African policy circles, Ambassador Greenfield was actually mandated by the Trump Administration to represent the USA at the official inauguration of Gambian President Adama Barrow on February 18. The race is on for the replacement of Greenfield who is expected to leave office by March 10 for Georgetown University, where she will serve as a visiting Fellow.
Informed sources cite Dr. J. Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council, Colonel Charles Snyder, former special envoy for Sudan; and Dr. Kate Almquist Knopf of the National Defense University as leading contenders to replace Ambassador Greenfield as the leading US government Official on Africa.
Snyder, who currently teaches at the Institute for World Politics in Washington, is also a possible candidate to replace Amanda Dory as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs. The post may also be given to Michael Phelan, currently a top legislative aide to Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
As for Almquist Knopf, sources cite her closeness to former Obama Officials like Susan Rice and Samantha Power (National Security Adviser and UN Ambassador respectively) may play to her disfavor.
A familiar face on Africa affairs in Washington, DC, Peter Pham has used the platform of the Atlantic Council to host debates and discussions with visiting African dignitaries and personalities.
Others in the mix include former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, Cindy Courville, former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union and former National Security Council and Defense Intelligence Agency official. The merits of the candidates are been considered to facilitate prospects of confirmation said the source who cited open opposition to Trump for some, and Lobbying activities of others as of the tiny details that may come into play.
Those individuals who are being seriously considered for the Assistant Secretary of State position are also in the running for alternative posts, such as on the personal staff of the Secretary of State, in the Policy Planning Bureau, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs (“DAS”), or as special envoys to Sudan/South Sudan or to the Great Lakes Region,the sources say.
At the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the likely nominee for Administrator is former Congressman Mark Green (R-Wisconsin), who recently has been president of the International Republican Institute (IRI) and also served as U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania.
Two candidates have emerged to fill USAID’s position of Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa: Gregory Simpkins, a longtime staff director for Chairman Christopher Smith of the Africa subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Lester Munson, former staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who previously held several positions at USAID. Jeffrey Krilla, a former Bush administration State Department official, is likely to replace Amos Hockstein as the Special Envoy in the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, a position that addresses U.S. relationships with oil-producing countries, including those in Africa.
Krilla may also be appointed to a position in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, or USTR, which may also be where business executive and Africa trade expert Anthony Carroll lands. (Carroll is also been linked for an Ambassadorial post, perhaps South Africa.)
There is also a possibility that former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner, who served in the first term of President George W. Bush, may be brought into the State Department for a high-level position by Secretary Tillerson.
Kansteiner has been in charge of ExxonMobil’s Africa operations and is said to be very close to Tillerson, ExxonMobil’s former chairman and CEO. Tillerson may tap Kansteiner for something higher than the assistant secretary level, such as Undersecretary or deputy secretary, or as a special envoy
On Capitol Hill, the leadership on the committees that deal with Africa will remain the same: Senator Jeff Flake continues as chairman of the Africa and Global Health Policy subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Congressman Chris Smith will again be chairman of the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The new Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are Dina Titus (D-Nevada), Norma Torres (D-California), Brad Schneider (D-Illinois), Thomas Suozzi (D-New York), Adriano Espaillat (D-New York), Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), Ann Wagner (R-Missouri), Brian Mast (R-Florida), Francis Rooney (R-Florida), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania), and Tom Garrett (R-Virginia).
Freshman Garrett and veteran Sensenbrenner have been assigned to the Africa subcommittee, along with Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Thomas Suozzi (D-New York). Representatives Ami Bera (D-California) and Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) return to the subcommittee from the 114th Congress. Representative Ed Royce (R-California) remains chairman of the full committee while Representative Ted Yoho (R-Florida) becomes the committee’s vice chairman. Representative Karen Bass (D-California) remains ranking member of the House Africa subcommittee.
The new Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are Todd Young (R-Indiana), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon). Booker becomes the new ranking minority member of the subcommittee on Africa and Global Health and Young and Merkley are newly assigned to the subcommittee, as well.
Ties between the US and Africa have witnessed strong growth under the last two Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama and many are anxious to see in what direction things will go under the Trump Administration.
African Immigrant Population on Rise in US
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Salem Solomon*
The United States is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for African immigrants, with their numbers more than doubling since 2000. Although many are coming from war-torn countries, the immigrants also include large numbers of highly educated professionals.
According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, as of 2015, there were nearly 2.1 million people living in the U.S. who were born in Africa. That number is up from 880,000 in 2000 and only 80,000 in 1970.
Monica Anderson, a research associate and the author of the study, said the numbers are doubling approximately every decade and she sees that trend continuing.
“In 1980 only 1 percent of refugees admitted to the U.S. were from an African country and today that share is about 37 percent. That is one major factor that is driving the growth of African immigrants but it doesn’t tell the entire story,” she told VOA in an interview.
Anderson says various clusters of vibrant immigrant populations are reshaping places like Minnesota, which is home to 25,000 people of Somali origin, about one-fifth of the foreign-born population in the state.
Nigerians make up the largest African diaspora population in the U.S. at 327,000, followed by Ethiopians at 222,000 and Egyptians at 192,000, Pew found. The top destinations for African immigrants to the U.S. are Texas, New York, California and Maryland.
“Many of these places in the U.S. are …having a larger share of African immigrants than they had before,” Anderson said. “In different clusters in the U.S., African immigrants are really reshaping the immigrant population there.”
Still small portion of immigrant population
Despite the increases, African immigrants still make up a relatively low percentage of the total immigrant population. Randy Capps, director of research for U.S. programs at the Migration Policy Institute, said there are both historical and geographic reasons for that.
“It’s a long distance from Africa and the number of people in Africa with sufficient incomes to migrate that far has been relatively small,” he said. “And secondly we didn’t really open up channels for legal African migration to the U.S. substantially until the 1965 Immigration Act and so, like Asian immigrants, there just weren’t very many African immigrants here until starting at that time.”
The Immigration and Nationality Act signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, ensured that quota systems based on national identity were eliminated and allowed the acceptance of immigrants of all nationalities equally. Immigrant families were able to reunite due to this act, also known as the Hart-Celler Act, and skilled immigrants were encouraged to migrate easily.
Today’s African immigrants include tens of thousands of refugees from Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Eritrea. But it also includes highly-educated doctors, engineers and others immigrating to the country in search of a better life.
Capps said that, as of 2013, 38 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 28 percent of all U.S. immigrants and 30 percent of the U.S.-born population.
Will Trump Stop the Flow?
It remains to be seen how changes in U.S. immigration policy could affect the flow of immigrants from Africa. An executive order signed by President Donald Trump halted immigration from three African countries and paused the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
That executive order was halted by a federal court, but the Trump administration has promised a revision.
Another proposal by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., would reduce the number of green cards issued by the U.S. from 1 million to 500,000.
“I see it as more of an open question as to whether fewer students will come, fewer visitors will come, or whether it will be harder for people to sponsor their relatives. I think it’s just too soon into the Trump administration to know if that’s going to be the case,” said Capps.
But barring a major change, African immigration is likely to continue to rise since the U.S. continues to have a strong economy offering opportunities to immigrants.
“The U.S. has a pretty open job market, a strong job market now,” says Capps. “It’s a large job market relative to a lot of other countries that African immigrants might go to and a lot of the African immigrants here are doing quite well. So I think without something more drastic, a bigger change in U.S. immigration policy, there are still going to be very strong pull factors to come to the United States.”
Caf say Hayatou has support of President Zuma despite Cosafa stance
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) announced that South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, had pledged his full support toCaf president Issa Hayatou ahead of African football’s upcoming elections.
It followed a meeting on Saturday morning when President Zuma received Hayatou at his residence in Pretoria.
The meeting came just six days after the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) announced it was endorsing Hayatou’s rival Ahmad Ahmad as a Caf presidential candidate.
South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, South African Football Association (Safa) President Danny Jordaan and Mamelodi Sundowns President Patrice Motsepe were also present at Saturday’s meeting with President Zuma.
South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, winners of the African Champions League, were scheduled to host the continent’s Confederation Cup winners, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, later on Saturday.
Issa Hayatou, who has presided over African football since 1988, will be seeking an eighth term in office when he stands in the elections in March to be held in Ethiopia.
The Cameroonian was re-elected unopposed during the last Caf presidential elections in 2013.
He had previously stated this term would be his last until a change of regulations altered his stance.
In 2015, Caf voted to change the statutes which previously stopped officials serving past the age of 70.
Fake news: How can African media deal with the problem?
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
At a time when fact-based reporting is increasingly being undermined by fake news, the BBC’s Dickens Olewe looks at the lessons for the media in Africa.
“ALERT: Don’t fall victim to fake news!”
This is the message that pops up when you visit South Africa’s Eyewitness News (EWN) website.
The warning advises readers to be more vigilant about the news they consume.
The message goes on to say that the publication is committed to providing news that is accurate, fair and balanced.
It then links to another page that gives tips on how to spot fake news, with a list of websites it has identified as purveyors of fake news in South Africa.
The publication also invites readers to send in fake stories they come across and those which they are unsure about.
EWN’s attempt to fight the spread of false news content is probably a first on the continent.
Katy Katopodis, EWN editor-in-chief, told the BBC that the publication felt it had a duty to protect the integrity of journalism by educating its audience.
“We have to be proactive to acknowledge the dangers of fake news and to offer our readers advice on how to spot a fake news story,” she says.
“At Eyewitness News we believe we need to counter the lies and the fake news with the truth and a reality check.
“We all have a responsibility to disseminate news that is factual and correct.”
EWN’s fake news guide was implemented last month amid allegations that the governing African National Congress (ANC) had planned to run a campaign to create and disseminate false information to discredit opponents ahead of last year’s local election in which it lost many seats.
AmaBhungane, an investigative journalism team, reported that a covert operation dubbed the War Room, was intended to “disempower Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters parties” by using digital media and social media influencers.
The ANC has denied the allegations, with one official accused of being involved in the planning of the operation describing it as “fake news”.
The term fake news, which has been used a lot since last year’s US presidential elections, was meant to call attention to falsified news content that was widely shared on the internet, mostly on social media.
Trump ‘endorsed by the Pope’
An analysis by BuzzFeed released after the US elections found that top fake election news stories generated more total engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news outlets combined.
The top five stories under this study were positive spins to prop up the candidacy of Donald Trump, including one claiming that he was endorsed by the Pope.
“Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement,” the article’s headline read.
The other stories promoted conspiracy theories about his then challenger Hillary Clinton which some analysts say helped undermine her campaign.
The creation and distribution of misinformation is not new, the difference at the moment is that spreading false information has been incentivised.
Digital publishing platforms like Facebook and Google have built ecosystems that reward clicks on website links and one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to a website is to entice readers with sensational content.
The Macedonian teenagers became infamous after it was revealed they were behind several fake stories shared during the US election, mostly in support of Mr Trump, earned thousands of dollars by getting thousands of clicks on articles they shared on Facebook.
In Africa, several articles have managed to fool many and garnered a lot of clicks for their promoters. Here are a sample of some of the headlines:
- Eritrean men ordered to marry two wives or risk jail
- UK Announces Visa Free Entry For Nigeria And Other Commonwealth African Countries
- Trump says “Africans are lazy fools only good at eating, lovemaking and thuggery”
- Robert Mugabe says Zimbabweans are “honest people” but “stealing is in every Kenyan’s blood”.
The allure of getting clicks has seen some publishers take advantage of the interest fake stories generate.
Recently, Kenya’s sports website Game Yetu, owned by a mainstream publisher The Standard, lifted a story from Mzansi Live, a fake news website in South Africa with an unlikely claim – that Zimbabwe had sent its female footballers to Brazil to be impregnated by soccer legends there:
Game Yetu tried to keep editorial distance from the article by placing it under the rumours and gossip section of its website.
Ms Katopodis says she is concerned about mainstream publishers pursuing clickbait.
The South African paper editor says that it behoves credible newsrooms and journalists to fact-check stories and promote media literacy.
“I am inspired by how the banking sector has been educating its customers to deal with online scams – we should do the same.”
While there is nothing wrong with curating content to lure readers to read stories on your website, overselling and packaging of news items using misleading headlines does a lot to undermine publishers’ credibility.
With traditional revenue sources drying up and with viral content bringing in the money, for-profit media organisations are caught in a conundrum.
Huffington Post’s South Africa edition exemplified this.
It recently published a handy guide for spotting faking news which included this important advice: “Reputable media houses will have credible adverts on their pages. Fake news sites often have pornographic adverts. That should raise red flags.”
However, below the article it had a widget containing a series of fake news stories, including one of US President Donald Trump calling South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma “the best ever”.
Research Calls for New Approach to Youth Employment Training Strategies in Africa
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Youth Livelihood Diaries Shed New Light on Working Lives of African Youth
Kigali, Rwanda, February 17, 2017 – Innovative research released today by The MasterCard Foundation is making the case for a new approach to youth employment training strategies in Africa. Invisible Lives: Understanding Youth Livelihoods in Ghana and Uganda, released today at the Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, sheds light on the working lives of African youth. The report, produced in collaboration with Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT), argues that international development programs favour skills training for formal sector careers over training that can be applied to multiple jobs in the informal sector. The result is that their efforts fall short of reaching the millions of unreached youth on the continent who engage in mixed livelihoods.
“To reach a critical mass of young people, fundamental shifts in our approach to skills-building, access to finance and entrepreneurship support are necessary,” says Lindsay Wallace, Director of Learning and Strategy, The MasterCard Foundation. “Development efforts must strengthen social, education and economic systems, and promote inclusive growth that will provide the most vulnerable and marginalized young people with opportunities to improve their lives.”
Invisible Lives set out to explore how young people integrate mixed livelihoods into their working lives, what challenges this approach poses, and how best to design interventions for young people in the informal sector. The research used a diaries methodology to document the working lives of 246 youth ages 18-24 from Ghana and Uganda over a one-year period, honing in on questions around behaviour, income, economic activities, and time management. While these data speak to the realities of employment in Ghana and Uganda, the research suggests that these also reflect emerging trends across Africa.
Invisible Lives highlights the extraordinary lengths that young people go to in order to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Findings of the Invisible Lives research indicate that:
- Young people in Africa diversify their livelihoods, undertaking a mix of informal sector employment, self-employment, and agriculture-related activities to sustain their livelihood.
- Agricultural production is central to young people’s livelihoods, but agricultural incomes were meagre. Many young people run small enterprises that can be easily started, stopped, and restarted as needed. The most successful young people in both Ghana and Uganda diversified their income and risk by growing multiple crops, raising a variety of livestock, and pursuing a wide range of additional activities.
- Both formal and informal wage employment is rare and sporadic, or elusive. While the informal sector, which constitutes about 80 percent of Africa’s labour force, provided more wage employment opportunities for young people, they were by no means abundant.
- Support networks are critical for young people and they play an extensive role in their lives, not only providing support in the form of advice regarding where to look for and how to find employment, skills development, and business guidance, but also proving instrumental in accessing financial resources needed.
“Respondents who participated in this study generously shared experiences from their lives over the course of a full year,” explains Anne Marie van Swinderen, lead researcher on Invisible Lives from Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT). “Data from the study shows us that these young people readily take up all opportunities that come their way, with enormous energy and positive spirit. Through the L-IFT diaries methodology, these young respondents and the young researchers who interviewed them, also grew a great deal, simply through the act of asking and answering questions about their diversified livelihoods.”
In addition to providing new information on the employment and risk-mitigation strategies of young working Africans, the research maintains that youth who participated in this study were largely invisible to both development organizations and their own governments, and did not have any access to support services, training or finance capital.
The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training, and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.
The Youth Livelihoods Program seeks to improve the capacity of young men and women to transition to jobs or create businesses through a holistic approach which combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, and appropriate financial services. Through our partnerships, our program is supporting innovative models that help young people transition out of poverty and into stable livelihoods. Since 2010, the Foundation has committed $US402 million to 37 multi-year projects across 19 countries in Africa. More than 1.8 million young people have been reached through the Youth Livelihoods program
Disadvantaged Young Africans Find A Lifeline In The MasterCard Foundation
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
-$2.1 Billion has been made in total commitments by the Foundation
By Ajong Mbapndah L
With its financial inclusion, education and learning, and youth Livelihood programs, the MasterCard Foundation is emerging as a leading partner in pushing through a development agenda that favors disadvantaged youth across Africa.
About ten million young people have been engaged by the Foundation through its work in diverse sectors across Africa, said Ann Miles Director of Financial Inclusions at the MasterCard Foundation. Speaking from Canada in a skype interview to discuss the second annual Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali Rwanda, Ann Miles said the Foundation was shifting discussion from how to engage youth in agriculture to how young people can be the drivers of agricultural transformation.
Taking place on February 16 and 17, the second annual Young Africa Works Summit will be a gathering of some 300 thought leaders from the NGO’s, government, funders and the private sector committed to developing sustainable youth employment strategies in Africa. The MasterCard Foundation has had a significant impact in working with youth especially those who are out of school or seeking transition to jobs, Anne Miles said.
Miles disclosed that Of the $2.1 billion in total commitments, circa $ 1 billion has already been disbursed. At the Summit, there will be 34 nationalities represented (total), of which 20 nationalities are African. The summit will have people from Cameroon to Congo, Kenya to Senegal, Zimbabwean to Malagasy, and from other countries like Bangladesh, Paraguay, India, and Poland
Working in about 25 countries, the Foundation has had a strong impact on the livelihood of young people through tertiary education, financial opportunity, and scholarship and entrepreneurship opportunities. Those who have studied through scholarships have returned to their home countries to share valuable knowledge and experiences acquired elsewhere, said Miles.
As one of the countries where the activities of the Foundation have taken strong root, Rwanda was not a hard choice to make to host the second annual summit. Agriculture is a very important topic, Miles said, and went on to explain that the Summit will focus on the inter-related themes of agricultural transformation, gender technology and climate smart agriculture.
On how the Foundation keeps track or stays engaged with beneficiaries of its programs, Miles said evaluations and surveys are usually done ahead of each summit. The Foundation remains committed to its work in Africa in the hope that it will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of young people and the overall development of the continent ,Miles said.
‘Make America Great Again’ in Africa
February 16, 2017 | 0 Comments
BY ROSA WHITAKER*
If President Donald Trump is to “Make America Great Again” he cannot afford to ignore Africa. It is in this region of over one billion people — the world’s second-fastest growing continent — that the rise of China and the relative decline in U.S. power is more stark than in any other. China surpassed the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009. Since then Britain and France have also passed America by.
Yet as recently as 2008 America’s capacity to inspire and influence this region, both economically and diplomatically, seemed indisputable, with President Obama, a “son of the soil,” offering hope to millions of Africans. Africa’s adoration, however, was not matched by a corresponding record of accomplishment on the continent. Obama’s Africa achievements do not compare to the unprecedented success of President Bill Clinton’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which created millions of jobs in both the region and the U.S. – or President George W. Bush’s investment of billions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Obama’s signature policy – “Power Africa” – aimed at creating more than 30,000 megawatts of electricity for an under-powered continent, today generates just over 4,000MW. To the chagrin of many African leaders and citizens alike, America is now increasingly seen as a paternalistic lecturer promoting her own progressive norms and cultural mores in the continent than a reliable partner.
So how might President Trump “Make America First Again” in Africa?
It starts with the recognition that the recent decline in U.S. influence was not inevitable and is only reversible by prioritizing economic engagement over social policies and aid. To put “America First” in Africa Trump must throw down the gauntlet and super-charge trade by expanding AGOA and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation with incentives for U.S. companies to invest across the continent; such incentives could be limited to sectors that do not undermine American jobs. Trump’s “America First” Policy in Africa should also include a reinvigorated U.S. Export-Import Bank–to enable the growth of U.S. exports to compete in what McKinsey projects to be a $5.6 trillion African household and business spending market by 2025.
All of Africa’s most pressing capital needs – power, infrastructure, transportation, telecommunications, water and sanitation – are those in which American companies excel. These sectors, backed through “America First” funding support, would provide immediate opportunities for the U.S. to become more competitive in Africa’s emerging and robust markets.
Going further, President Trump might make it a requirement that projects in Africa financed by the U.S. taxpayer – for example through the Millennium Challenge Account – are undertaken only by U.S. contractors using U.S. equipment– this is currently not the case.
Secondly, Trump might administer a sea-change in how America assesses and manages international aid programs, by reforming the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Too much American aid money is directed towards a vast aid-industrial complex, driven by former USAID employees- turned-contractors in Washington, rather than deployed on the ground in Africa where it is needed most.
Development schemes should primarily focus on humanitarian interventions and enterprise solutions to address poverty. A focus on the latter would incentivize American companies to bring jobs, capital, skills and new technologies to the continent while benefiting the U.S. and African economies at the same time. To re-calibrate the former, as well as combat the USAID job-creation machine for Washington beltway insiders, Trump may even consider bolstering the role of faith-based organizations – his key political constituency – in the delivery of disaster and humanitarian aid.
Thirdly, President Trump’s Africa Policy should recognize Africa’s parallel: the poorest and at the same time among the world’s fastest growing regions. America therefore, have reasons both economic and of principle for strong U.S. engagement.
Finally, through enriched relationships with African countries, President Trump might harness continent-wide support for U.S. goals on the international stage. Increasingly the 54 countries of Africa are wielding influence together: they are proportionately the largest bloc of votes at many multilateral institutions – providing decisive swing votes in international forums from the United Nations to the World Trade Organization.
A substantive U.S.-Africa partnership would inevitably lead to another crucial benefit: the strengthening of America’s security intelligence and cooperation needed to counter the growing threat from radicalized terrorists groups across the continent. Even an America that is Great Again needs friends and allies: and there are many to win – decisively – in Africa.
*The Hill.Whitaker served as Assistant United State Trade Representative for Africa under the administrations of President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush. She is currently the CEO and president of the Whitaker Group, a consultancy aiming at helping their clients to implement their businesses in Africa.
Corruption Weary Africans Taking Anger To The Polls-TI 2016 CPI Index
February 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
If affable candidates like former President John Mahama of Ghana lost elections last year, it may in part have been due to corruption.The finding is contained in the recently published 2016 corruption perception index of Transparency International.
“In countries like Ghana, which is the second worst decliner in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index in the region, the dissatisfaction of citizens with the government’s corruption record was reflected in their voting at the polls,” Transparency International said in a statement that accompanied the release.
Africa did not fare so well said Samuel Kaninda Regional Advisor for Africa at Transparency International. In a skype interview, Kaninda who was on mission in Accra, said the recently released perception index found a co-relation between democracy and good governance. Countries with a history of free elections and a stable democracy faired comparatively better as compared those where democracy and the rule of law are still struggling to take root.
On the countries that did well, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe emerged as the most improved in Africa. Both countries held elections, which got rave reviews from observers. For his efforts and management style, Jorge Carlos Fonseca was rewarded with another term of office. In Sao Tome and Principe, there was a smooth transition of power, a feat that still eludes many countries in the continent.
For the democratic advances it has made, corruption in Ghana was described as rampant. Corroborating statements in the TI Release, Samuel Kaninda believed that the outcome of the recent election mirrored the anger and disappointment of Ghanaians who voted out a sitting President.
Despite high profile arrests and pompous amounts recouped from corrupt politicians, Nigeria failed to see any significant improvement in the index. The doctrine of change that brought the Buhari APC led government to power has so far been a mirage. Nigerians are increasingly voicing out their frustrations and should things not change before the 2019 elections, the APC may be in for a rude awakening.
The situation was similar in South Africa, trailed by sleazy tales of corruption with fingers pointing directly at President Jacob Zuma himself. Though serving his second and last term of offices, there have been growing calls for Zuma to step down. Down and bruised, Zuma has so far weathered the storm, but his battered image is taking a toll on ruling ANC. That it took heavy military Presidents to quell a mutiny from the opposition before Zuma could make a recent state of the Union Address speaks volumes on the situation Mandela’s own country.
With elections due later this year, if corruption were to be a decisive factor, President Uhuru may have some blushes as little progress has been made during his first term.
On the category of countries that equally fared poorly are the regulars like Somalia, South Sudan, Guinea Bissau, Central Africa, Chad, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Cameroon, DR, Congo and the Republic of Congo.
Fighting corruption should be task for everybody said Samuel Kaninda in response to solutions for the way forward. Besides the framework that countries need to put place, the civil society has to step up its role.
Transparency International is willing to engage with countries in the continent and the wider international community in the quest for lasting solutions, Kaninda said. With growing attention from the international corporate world, Kaninda said corporations coming to Africa need to be clearly identified .Institutions and clear-cut rules need to be put in place to curb incidence of corruption, he said.
Corruption is not an issue of the South or the North, Kaninda said in response to a question on illicit outflows of money from Africa. Without these massive flows, Africa will not be talking about Aid but Trade, said Kaninda. African governments should engaged in discussions with the rest of the world especially those that provide safe haven for massive loots from Africa so as to curb this trend which saps Africa of resources needed for its own development ,said Kaninda.
New-look Champions League set to begin
February 11, 2017 | 0 Comments
Up to 18 players who competed at the Africa Cup of Nations could be involved in the new-look Champions League when it kicks off this weekend.
Among them is Georges Bokwe, one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final last Sunday in Gabon.
Bokwe was kept out of the starting line-up by the consistent brilliance of Spain-based Fabrice Ondoa, who was included in the team of the tournament.
But Bokwe is the first choice for regular Champions League entrants Coton Sport from northern Cameroon cotton town Garoua.
Coton qualified for the 2008 final, losing to Al Ahly of Egypt, but have fared poorly recently with first round exits in the past two seasons.
Drawn against Atlabara of South Sudan in the two-leg preliminary round this year, the Cameroon outfit are favoured to secure a last-32 place.
While Coton have the experience of 15 previous Champions League campaigns behind them, Atlabara suffered a preliminary-round loss in a lone previous challenge.
Coton and Atlabara are among 46 clubs in action this weekend as an exciting new chapter in the Champions League unfolds.
Total prize money has soared from $5.7m (£4.6m) to $10m, a 119.30% increase.
Significant prize fund
The group phase – where the cash kicks in – has been expanded from eight to 16 clubs with participants guaranteed at least $550,000 (£440,000) each.
For clubs dreaming of going all the way and succeeding where Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa did last year, the “carrot” is a $2.5m (£2m) first prize.
Sundowns are among nine clubs given byes on merit into the round of 32, with record eight-time champions Al Ahly another.
Preliminary participants include V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1973 winners of the African Cup of Champions Clubs, forerunner to the Champions League.
The Kinshasa outfit face Royal Leopard of Swaziland and can call on Joyce Lomalisa Mutambala, a defender with unhappy memories of the 2017 Cup of Nations.
He was the only player sent off in the 32-match tournament, having come off the bench in a win over Morocco and been yellow-carded twice within 17 minutes.
Former title-holders in the second-tier Confederation Cup, Stade Malien of Mali, FUS Rabat of Morocco and AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville, play this weekend.
Stade face Barrack Young Controllers II of Liberia, FUS meet Johansen of Sierra Leone and Leopards play UMS Loum of Cameroon.
Others in action include three clubs who won the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup, Enugu Rangers of Nigeria, Horoya of Guinea and Al Merrikh of Sudan.
Enugu tackle JS Saoura of Algeria, Horoya confront Goree of Senegal and Merrikh challenge Sony Ela Nguema of Equatorial Guinea.
The AFRICA CEO FORUM puts female leadership in Africa at the heart of the debate
February 9, 2017 | 0 Comments
The AFRICA CEO FORUM and McKinsey & Company are pooling their expertise to launch the African Women in Business initiative at the 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM on 20 and 21 March in Geneva. McKinsey & Company will participate as a knowledge partner.
PARIS, France, 8 February 2017 – The 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM, the biggest international African private sector gathering, will host over 1,000 African and international personalities and key African industrial, financial and political decision-makers, including around 200 female business leaders from 43 African countries.
An essential platform for dialogue and networking, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is devoting this year’s edition to the role of women in African enterprise. As part of the African Women in Business initiative, a high-level panel will bring together the most influential women in the African private sector and the CEOs most active in promoting gender diversity. The goal is twofold: to identify the best strategies for increased female representation in business and to highlight the career paths of the women who have shaped the African private sector.
The African Women in Business initiative will also present the findings of the McKinsey & Company Women Matter Africa report. This report sets out the progress made by the African private and public sectors in terms of women’s representation. While Africa equals – and even exceeds – international standards, there is still a long way to go to achieve true gender equality.
By launching the African Women in Business initiative, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is contributing to the implementation of concrete solutions for the improvement of gender diversity. It aims, as in all matters to the life of African companies, to shake things up and push boundaries.
About the Women Matter Africa Report
Among the conclusions:
* Companies with greater gender diversity within their boards tend to perform better financially.
* The same applies to African companies; the top 25% most diverse companies have a 20% higher earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) than their industry average.
* Those with boards made up of at least 25% women have a 20% EBIT above their industry average.
* In the private sector, Africa has more women board members, CEOs and managers than the world average. However, there is an under-representation of women at other hierarchical levels.
* In the public sector, Africa has more women in parliament than the world average, but this rate has to double to achieve gender equality.
* Although the number of women leaders has increased in the private as well as the public sector, they do not necessarily have more power or influence.
About the AFRICA CEO FORUM
Developed in partnership with the African Development Bank, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is an event organised by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company that specialises in organising events promoting and facilitating business.
Launched in 2012, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has become the leading international meeting on the development of Africa and its companies, in a high-level professional setting. The 2016 edition hosted over 1,000 African and international personalities, including 600 business leaders from 43 African countries and 100 high-level speakers.