African leaders have created the world’s largest free trade area since the WTO—here’s its potential
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Landry Signé*
African leaders have just signed a framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization.
The free trade area aims to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. By 2030 the market size is expected to include 1.7 billion people with over $6.7 trillion of cumulative consumer and business spending—that’s if all African countries have joined the free trade area by then. Ten countries, including Nigeria, have yet to sign up.
The goal is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.
Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022. The agreement has the potential to deliver a great deal for countries on the continent. The hope is that the trade deal will trigger a virtuous cycle of more intra African trade, which in turn will drive the structural transformation of economies – the transition from low productivity and labour intensive activities to higher productivity and skills intensive industrial and service activities—which in turn will produce better paid jobs and make an impact on poverty.
But signing the agreement is only the beginning. For it to come into force, 22 countries must ratify it. Their national legislative bodies must approve and sanction the framework formally, showing full commitment to its implementation. Niger president Issoufou Mahamadou, who has been championing the process, aims to have the ratification process completed by January 2019.
Cause and effect
Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022. Better market access creates economies of scale. Combined with appropriate industrial policies, this contributes to a diversified industrial sector and growth in manufacturing value added.
Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and likely to benefit from it the most. Manufacturing represents only about 10% of total GDP in Africa on average. This falls well below other developing regions. A successful continental free trade area could reduce this gap. And a bigger manufacturing sector will mean more well-paid jobs, especially for young people. This in turn will help poverty alleviation.
Industrial development, and with it, more jobs, is desperately needed in Africa. Industry represents one-quarter to one-third of total job creation in other regions of the world. And a young person in Africa is twice as likely to be unemployed when he or she becomes an adult. This is a particularly stressful situation given that over 70% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is below age 30.
In addition, 70% of Africa’s youth live on less than $2 per day.
The continental free trade area is expected to offer substantial opportunities for industrialization, diversification, and high-skilled employment in Africa.
The single continental market will offer the opportunity to accelerate the manufacture and intra-African trade of value-added products, moving from commodity based economies and exports to economic diversification and high-value exports.
But, to increase the impact of the trade deal, industrial policies must be put in place. These must focus on productivity, competition, diversification, and economic complexity.
In other words, governments must create enabling conditions to ensure that productivity is raised to international competitiveness standards. The goal must be to ensure that the products manufactured in African countries are competitively traded on the continent and abroad, and to diversify the range and sophistication of products and services.Drivers of manufacturing
Data shows that the most economically diverse countries are also the most successful.
In fact, diversification is critical as “countries that are able to sustain a diverse range of productive know-how, including sophisticated, unique know-how, are able to produce a wide diversity of goods, including complex products that few other countries can make.
Policymakers should favor the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent. Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and are likely to benefit from it the most. These countries will find a large continental market for their manufactured products. They will also use their know-how and dense industrial landscape to develop innovative products and respond to market demand.
But the agreement on its own won’t deliver results. Governments must put in place policies that drive industrial development, particularly manufacturing. Five key ones stand out:
Human capital: A strong manufacturing sector needs capable, healthy, and skilled workers. Policymakers should adjust curriculum to ensure that skills are adapted to the market. And there must be a special focus on young people. Curriculum must focus on skills and building capacity for entrepreneurship and self-employment. This should involve business training at an early age and skills upgrading at an advanced one. This should go hand in hand with promoting science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and mathematics as well as vocational and on-the-job training.
Policymakers should also favour the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent.
Cost: Policymakers must bring down the cost of doing business. The barriers include energy, access to roads and ports, security, financing, bureaucratic restrictions, corruption, dispute settlement and property rights.
Supply network: Industries are more likely to evolve if competitive networks exist. Policymakers should ease trade restrictions and integrate regional trade networks. In particular, barriers for small and medium-size businesses should be lifted.
Domestic demand: Policymakers should offer tax incentives to firms to unlock job creation, and to increase individual and household incomes. Higher purchasing power for households will increase the size of the domestic market.
Resources: Manufacturing requires heavy investment. This should be driven by the private sector. Policymakers should facilitate access to finance, especially for small and medium enterprises. And to attract foreign direct investment, policymakers should address perceptions of poor risk perception. This invariably scares off potential investors or sets excessive returns expectations.
The continental free trade area facilitates industrialization by creating a continental market, unlocking manufacturing potential and bolstering an international negotiation bloc.
Finally, the continental free trade area will also provide African leaders with a greater negotiating power to eliminate barriers to exporting. This will help prevent agreements with other countries, and trading blocs, that are likely to hurt exports and industrial development.
PRESS RELEASE Siemens creates opportunities for digitalization skills development across Africa
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
|44% of all work activities in Ethiopia are susceptible to automation, as are 46% in Nigeria, 52% in Kenya and 41% in South Africa|
|JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 27, 2018/ —
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is having a disruptive effect on economies and the development of digital skills is vital. There is an opportunity, especially in Africa, to embrace new and exponential technologies combined with human talent to accelerate industrialization and drive economic growth.
According to The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa Report , release by the World Economic Forum (WEF), it is predicted that 44% of all work activities in Ethiopia are susceptible to automation, as are 46% in Nigeria, 52% in Kenya and 41% in South Africa.
With this in mind, Siemens (www.Siemens.com) is handing over equipment specifically related to industrial automation that enables integrated engineering to 13 engineering faculties at universities in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa. This is part of the company’s commitment to sustainable skills development across the continent. The value of the equipment is close to $400 000.
Data collected by WEF in key African markets shows employers across the region identify inadequately skilled workforces as a major constraint to their businesses, including 41% of all firms in Tanzania, 30% in Kenya, 9% in South Africa and 6% in Nigeria. This pattern may get worse in the future. In South Africa alone, 39% of core skills required across occupations will be wholly different by 2020.
“The uneven development of the past can only be overcome with locally engineered solutions,” says Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa. “In an African context, disruptive technology can be seen as an opportunity to leapfrog into the best and most advanced technologies, but this is only possible with access to the right training and equipment.”
Siemens will continue its commitment to Africa and offer long-term support to beneficiaries by ensuring that students are able to train on the most advanced technology available. This will ensure graduates, and therefore the emerging workforce, have the skills necessary to effectively lead large-scale digitalization across the continent, resulting in long-term benefits to economic growth.
Siemens firmly believes the best way for African markets to benefit from the digital revolution is to combine skills training and improved / new infrastructure.
Says Dall’Omo; “Convergence of man and machine intelligence will enable a new era of speed, flexibility, efficiency and connectivity in the 21st century. The conversation about man vs machine is not an either-or scenario. Ongoing education and training has a positive effect for both business and society. A strong pipeline of talent with the relevant skills and knowledge is beneficial to governments and businesses, while young people advance into jobs and careers with increased economic opportunity if they have the right skills.”
Factory automation and electrical engineering equipment donations have been made to the following institutions:
“Our commitment to skills development and our relationships with these institutions goes beyond just this donation,” adds Dall’Omo. “We invest for the long-term and believe that by playing an active role in skills development, locally engineered solutions could catalyze the re-industrialization of the economy and trigger growth on an unprecedented scale.”
The company has a unique understanding of the challenges faced across the African continent, and has proved to be a reliable partner from grassroots level, right through to corporate and government level.
Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich) (www.Siemens.com) is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 165 years. The company is active in more than 200 countries, focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of efficient power generation and power transmission solutions and a pioneer in infrastructure solutions as well as automation, drive and software solutions for industry. The company is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment – such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging systems – and a leader in laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT. In fiscal 2016, which ended on September 30, 2016, Siemens generated revenue of €79.6 billion and net income of €5.6 billion. At the end of September 2016, the company had around 351,000 employees worldwide. Further information is available on the Internet at www.Siemens.com.
This document contains statements related to our future business and financial performance and future events or developments involving Siemens that may constitute forward-looking statements. These statements may be identified by words such as “expects,” “looks forward to,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” …
Botswana president steps down
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
President Ian Khama of Botswana this week wrapped up a national “farewell tour” before he stands down on Saturday in a power transfer designed to stress his statesmanship and the country’s stability.
Khama has visited all of Botswana’s 57 constituencies since December, bidding a long goodbye to a population of just 2.2 million after serving the constitutional maximum of 10 years in office.
He will be succeeded by Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, a full 18 months before elections.
Khama’s two terms in power have been defined by his country’s rapid development thanks to lucrative diamond and beef exports and by a reputation for good governance.
He has also become renowned for straight talking — breaking with diplomatic convention to criticise leaders including US President Donald Trump and then-president Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
On Tuesday, his tour finished in his ancestral village of Serowe in the east of the country, with a day of songs, poems, gifts, ululation and pleading for him to remain in office.
Thousands of jubilant villagers dressed in blue, white and black, gathered in a kgotla, a traditional courtyard, to hear Khama speak.
“I was a soldier, I didn’t have interest to join politics, I had future plans, away from politics,” he told the crowd, adding that his predecessor Festus Mogae had to persuade him to take over in 2008.
– Son of independence leader –
Khama, 65, has cultivated a down-to-earth image — despite his father Seretse Khama serving from 1966 to 1980 as Botswana’s first president after independence from Britain.
Edna Monyena, a village elder in her 80s, lavished praise on the outgoing president, telling him that he was “an honest man, a straightforward man” who showed “real love”.
Many elderly female villagers wore blue dresses printed with portraits of Khama’s father, and some used cow bones as percussion instruments as they stood up to sing and dance.
Khama was showered with gifts including a 4×4 truck, 143 cows, hundreds of chickens, over 415,000 pula ($44,000), and a fully-equipped luxury caravan that his brother Tshekedi dubbed a “mobile state house”.
The avid conservationist also received a framed picture of a rhino.
“I wanted him to be 50 years more in office, I want him to work until the Almighty calls him,” unemployed Sadie Moleta, 23, told AFP in Serowe, where Khama is a chief of the Bangwato tribe.
Khama, a former pilot and military chief, demonstrated his outspoken streak when he recently accused Trump of promoting policies that encourage poaching, and summoning the US envoy over Trump’s alleged slur against African countries in January.
Khama called on Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to step down well before the nonagenarian was ousted, and his government has also urged Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila to resign after his term expired in December 2016.
The Botswana leader’s on-schedule departure has made a public display of obeying the constitutional term limit.
But his own record in office has not been without its critics, who accuse him of an autocratic leadership style.
He led the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to landslide victories in two elections, although the party won less than 50 percent for the first time in the 2014 vote.
– Uneven legacy? –
Often seen as one of Africa’s success stories, Botswana has recorded rising unemployment since 2009 as diamond prices fell.
The drop in revenue forced Khama to halt many planned investments in recent years.
“Internationally, he positioned himself as a moral leader in the region, stepping down as an example of a leader who respects laws and traditions — and inviting both President Kabila and Mugabe to respect democracy and the rule of law,” Matteo Vidiri, a BMI Research analyst, told AFP.
“(But) a slowing economy and increasing public discontent has damaged the narrative of Botswana’s ‘special character’, of a country being able to escape the ‘resource curse’.”
The opposition blames Khama for creating a society of “beggars”.
“He killed the spirit of self-reliance creating dependency through handouts,” Kesitegile Gobotswang, deputy president of the Botswana Congress Party, told AFP.
“The economy shed jobs under his leadership.”
Khama, who is unmarried, was born in Britain as his father married white British woman Ruth Williams — a mixed-race partnership that caused widespread shock in Africa and Britain.
Incoming president Masisi, 55, will be inaugurated on Sunday.
“Let Africa evolve” says Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the Africa CEO forum
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, 27th March 2018, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Economic recovery and institution building are the challenges faced by all African countries today.
Chad’s leader plots to stay until 2033
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
President Idriss Deby is set to govern Chad until 2033 if a recommendation made by his party is approved, news agency Reuters reports.
A report issued by allied politicians, business leaders and traditional chiefs has proposed a presidential term limit for the country’s leaders from 2021.
The proposed changes include a six-year rather than five-year presidential term, limited to a maximum of two terms.
Mr Deby, who came to power in 1990, will be 81 by the time his final terms ends.
The opposition has dismissed the proposed changes as a plot to create a monarchy.
Chad, an ally of Western nations in the fight against Islamist militants in West and Central Africa, has faced strikes and protests in recent months over economic woes caused by low prices for its chief export, oil.
Hilton returns to the Moroccan capital
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
|150 room Hilton Rabat to form part of city’s flagship Wessal Bouregreg Development|
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 27, 2018/ — Hilton (NYSE:HLT) (http://HiltonWorldwide.com) will once again be welcoming guests to the Moroccan capital city of Rabat from 2022 after a landmark deal was signed with Wessal Capital. At a ceremony in Dubai, a management agreement for a 150 room Hilton Rabat to form part of the city’s Wessal Bouregreg project was confirmed.
The Wessal Bouregreg master development contains a range of high-end residential, entertainment and cultural attractions on the banks of the river Bouregreg. Guests at Hilton Rabat will enjoy close proximity to a range of new state of the art facilities including a shopping mall, the Zaha Hadid designed Grand Theatre of Rabat and several new cultural components. The hotel itself will offer a range of distinct F&B outlets, an outdoor swimming pool, spa, salon and ample meeting space.
Rudi Jagersbacher, President, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, Hilton said: “This hotel signals our return to Rabat which will be part of the city’s most important master project. Wessal Bouregreg is set to install Rabat as the cultural and entertainment centre of the region and drive significant demand for upscale international accommodation. Last year we took a decision to install a permanent Development presence in North Africa, and have recently successfully opened two hotels in Tanger, with three hotels under construction in Al Houara, Taghazout Bay and Casablanca. So we have great momentum in Morocco and I expect our involvement in this project to be a catalyst for further growth.”
Wessal Capital CEO Abderrahmane El Ouazzani added: “The signing of the management agreement with Hilton is of particular importance to Wessal Capital, being the first of a long line of future hotels that Wessal Capital is developing. The Hilton Rabat hotel will be located in the heart of the Cultural Plaza of the Wessal Bouregreg development. We have chosen Hilton for their historic experience and track record in the hospitality sector.”
For nearly a century, Hilton Hotels & Resorts (www.Hilton.com) has been proudly welcoming the world’s travelers. With more than 570 hotels across six continents, Hilton Hotels & Resorts provides the foundation for memorable travel experiences and values every guest who walks through its doors. As the flagship brand of Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts continues to set the standard for hospitality, providing new product innovations and services to meet guests’ evolving needs. Hilton Hotels & Resorts is a part of the award-winning Hilton Honors program. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else, free standard Wi-Fi and digital amenities like digital check-in with room selection and Digital Key (select locations), available exclusively through the industry-leading Hilton Honors app.
Wessal Capital is a €2.5 billion innovative investment fund established to finance transformational tourism and real estate projects in the Kingdom of Morocco. It has a unique shareholding structure with five sovereign wealth funds committing an equal amount of capital: The Kingdom of Morocco through Ithmar Capital, the United Arab Emirates through Aabar, the State of Kuwait through Al Ajial Holding, the State of Qatar through Qatar Holding, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through its Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Wessal Capital invests in projects which develop Morocco’s socio-economic environment, tourism sector and enhance the lives of residents, while attracting international business and tourists. Projects are selected on the basis of their social and environmental responsibility and cultural relevance, as well as their potential financial return.
TRUMP TO END SPECIAL STATUS FOR LIBERIAN IMMIGRANTS IN US
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Trump has pursued a crackdown on legal and illegal immigration since becoming president.WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to special legal status for certain immigrants from Liberia, including some who have lived in the United States for decades, citing improved conditions in the West African country.
The special status would end on 31 March, 2019.
“Liberia is no longer experiencing armed conflict and has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance,” according to a memorandum signed by Trump and released by the White House.
Trump has pursued a crackdown on legal and illegal immigration since becoming president.
Some Liberians have been eligible for either Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure since March 1991 due to civil wars, fragile political and economic conditions and an Ebola virus outbreak in 2014, the memorandum said.
“Liberia has also concluded reconstruction from prior conflicts, which has contributed significantly to an environment that is able to handle adequately the return of its nationals,” Trump said.
“The 2014 outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease caused a tragic loss of life and economic damage to the country, but Liberia has made tremendous progress in its ability to diagnose and contain future outbreaks of the disease,” he said.
A 12-month “wind-down” period starting 31 March, 2018, would allow the Liberian government to prepare to re-integrate returning citizens and give time for affected Liberians to “make necessary arrangements,” according to the memorandum, which was addressed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Liberian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. DHS officials did not immediately respond to a request seeking numbers of those who will be affected.
Trump previously included three other African countries — Chad, Somalia and Libya — among several whose citizens were blocked from entering the United States.
African politicians and diplomats blasted Trump in January after he was reported to have used vulgar language to describe African countries and Haiti, with some calling him a racist. Trump later denied making the remark.
In early January, the administration announced that around 200,000 Salvadorans would lose their Temporary Protected Status in September, 2019. Some 59,000 Haitians and 5,300 Nicaraguans who are in the program would also lose their status next year, while TPS for some 57,000 Hondurans expires 5 July, 2018.
Nelson Mandela’s golden hand casts sell for $10m in bitcoin
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Gold castings of the hands of South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela have been sold for $10m (£7m) in bitcoin.
Canadian crypto-currency exchange firm Arbitrade bought four casts from South African businessman Malcolm Duncan.
The firm said it planned to launch a global “Golden Hands of Nelson Mandela” tour to educate young people about the anti-apartheid icon’s life.
This is the first time artefacts of Mr Mandela have been sold in bitcoin.
Mr Mandela was jailed for 27 years for fighting white minority rule in South Africa.
He was released in 1990, and served as president from 1994 to 1999.
Mr Mandela died in 2013 at the age of 95. He had turned into a global brand, with businessmen and artists cashing in on his name.
Mr Duncan, who now lives in Canada, bought the casts from mining group Harmony Gold in 2002 for about $31,000.
Half of the money paid to Harmony Gold was meant to go to charity, but it remains unclear as to whether that happened, Bloomberg news agency reports.
Harmony said it had “supplied Mr Duncan with the necessary paperwork verifying the provenance as requested by his attorneys,” but declined to comment on what happened to the donation, Bloomberg reports.
The casts, which weigh around 20lb (9kg), include Mr Mandela’s hand, palm and fist. They are part of a collection meant to mark the years the former president spent in prison on Robben Island.
The artefacts are believed to be the only ones left in the world.
The other sets of the collection were ordered to be destroyed by Mr Mandela, Mr Duncan told Bloomberg.
It was part of the former president’s attempt to control his copyright after a number of scandals, including forgery allegations, arose around the sale of art bearing his image and name.
Arbitrade has paid Mr Duncan a bitcoin deposit that has been converted to $50,000, and the rest is expected to be paid in quarterly instalments of at least $2m, Bloomberg reports.
“They take possession when I have the dollar amount in the bank, At two-and-a-quarter million at a time, they take one hand at a time,” Mr Duncan was quoted as saying.
Arbitrade is due to launch an initial coin offering and plans to mine its own crypto-currencies and trade others, Bloomberg reports.
The company’s chairman, Len Schutzman, told the news agency that it will back all its virtual currency with a percentage of physical metal, such as gold.
Ethiopian Airlines Launches Split Scimitar® Winglets in Northern Africa
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
SEATTLE, March 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) announced today that Ethiopian Airlines has become the first operator in Northern Africa of its latest Split Scimitar Winglet technology. The first installation of the System was completed on March 20, 2018, at its MRO in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian Airlines intends to install the Winglets on its fleet of Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft. Aviation Partners’ latest Winglet design, the Split Scimitar Winglet, uses existing Blended Winglet technology but adds new aerodynamic Scimitar tips and a large ventral strake, further increasing the efficiency of the airplane.
“Ethiopian Airlines recognizes the importance of investing in their fleet and is taking steps to be the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly airline in Africa,” says Aviation Partners Boeing director of sales and marketing Christopher Stafford. “With the installation of the Split Scimitar Winglet System, not only will Ethiopian Airlines show its environmental stewardship, but the fuel savings and additional payload on long haul routes will significantly improve the operating economics of the Boeing Next Generation 737-700 and 737-800 models.”
The Split Scimitar Winglet modification reduces Boeing Next-Generation 737 block fuel consumption by up to an additional 2.2% over the Blended Winglets alone. The Split Scimitar Winglet System will reduce Ethiopian Airline’s annual fuel requirements by more than 275,000 liters per aircraft, and their carbon dioxide emissions by over 700 tonnes per aircraft per year.
“As the leading carrier in Africa, Ethiopian has always been spearheading the introduction of aviation technology into the continent. The planned installation of the Split Scimitar Winglets is yet another testimony to our technology leadership in Africa’s aviation industry,” says Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Ato Tewolde Gebremariam. “Currently, we operate 8 Boeing Next-Generation 737-700s and 16 Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 aircraft. Once these airplanes are fitted with the newest winglets and enter operation, we will benefit a lot in terms of fuel efficiency, which in turn will take our environmental protection efforts one step ahead.”
Since launching the Boeing Next-Generation 737 Split Scimitar Winglet program, APB has taken orders for over 1,800 systems, and over 1,000 aircraft are now operating with the technology. APB estimates that its products have reduced aircraft fuel consumption worldwide by over 8.0 billion gallons to-date thereby saving nearly 85.0 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Aviation Partners Boeing is a Seattle based joint venture of Aviation Partners, Inc. and The Boeing Company. www.aviationpartnersboeing.com
Ethiopian Airlines is largest and fastest growing airline on the African continent and wholly owned by the government of Ethiopia. In its seventy plus years of operation, Ethiopian has become one of the continent’s leading carriers, unrivalled in efficiency and operational success. It is the first airline to introduce the ultra-modern Boeing 787-8 aircraft into Africa and also operates a mix of modern airplanes with an average fleet age of five years.
Congo rejects foreign funding for long-delayed elections
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
KINSHASA, Congo – Congo’s government says it will not take international funding for its long-delayed elections, calling it a decision to avoid foreign interference.
A statement issued Monday thanks all partners who announced election contributions, saying the government should find a way to direct the money toward projects in health, education and infrastructure upgrades.
President Joseph Kabila, whose mandate ended in December 2016, has said elections will be organized by the Congolese only. The opposition has accused him of trying to cling to power. Some protests have turned deadly.
The election commission has said the vote now will be in December.
The United States last month urged Congo to abandon the use of electronic voting to avoid any challenges to results. Monday’s statement, however, recommends continued public awareness about the machines.
Free gift? China extends influence in Africa with $32M grant for regional HQ
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Jenni Marsh*
(CNN)China raised eyebrows this month by announcing it will give the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) a $31.6 million grant to build a new headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.
Accepting the grant, the president of ECOWAS Jean-Claude Brou thanked China, and confirmed the organization’s commitment to promoting future ECOWAS-China cooperation. A press release said that Mr Brou called this a mark of goodwill from China.
Why did ECOWAS accept?
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition names new chairman, set to be PM
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
By ELIAS MESERET*
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Ethiopia’s ruling coalition named a chairman set to become the country’s new prime minister late Tuesday amid the latest state of emergency in Africa’s second most populous nation.
Abiy Ahmed is poised to take power, as the ruling coalition and its regional affiliates hold all parliament seats. A vote by lawmakers is expected on Wednesday.
The announcement followed months of the most severe anti-government protests in a quarter-century and the surprise decision by then-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn early this year to release prominent politicians, journalists and others from prison to free up political space.
But Hailemariam later announced his intention to resign and a new state of emergency was imposed in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.
Abiy is the first person from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, to hold the post of prime minister since the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991.
Ethiopians had eagerly awaited news of their new leader for days. This will be the third prime minister since the current ruling coalition came to power close to 30 years ago after overthrowing the Derg military regime by force.
Many hoped the development would bring calm after the months of protests demanding wider freedoms.
“I believe that the Oromia region president, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, is the answer to Ethiopia’s youths’ questions,” Yonas Alemayehu, an activist in the restive Oromia region, told The Associated Press. The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group among Ethiopia’s population of 100 million, have long felt marginalized.
The outgoing prime minister at times had been labeled as weak and under the shadow of former strongman Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012. Others argued that Hailemariam successfully continued the late leader’s core policies, of both economic transformation and repression.
In a 2016 interview with the AP, the outgoing prime minister acknowledged that good governance was in decline in Ethiopia and people were asking the government to correct it.
“That is the main reason why people are protesting,” he said at the time. “This is really a positive sign. I have recently apologized in front of the parliament for our mismanagement and lack of responsibility that have generated these dissents. We are now taking measures to address those grievances.”
However, the protests continue to this day.