President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes hand with Raila Odinga when they met at Harambee House, Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE
On August 8, 2017, Kenya held its presidential election. The election was conducted in a tense environment and since then, the two main candidates going into the elction (Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta) had been at loggerheads. However, Kenyans woke up to a surprise on 16 March, 2018 as the two held a press release where they stated their new found desire to move on a reconciliation path as ‘brothers’.
The news came as a surprise to virtually everyone especially considering that it had barely been a month since Odinga had inaugurated himself as the ‘People’s President’ in a move which prompted Kenyatta to retaliate by charging some of Uhuru Kenyatta’s supporters with criminal nuisance and even issued arrests for some including the lawyer who inaugurated Odinga.
While the path of reconciliation taken by Odinga and Kenyatta is commendable, it is a bitter taste for those that were involved in the political violence and disturbances that saw over a 100 people dead and hundreds of others injured and displaced in the aftermath of the August 8, election. It is against this background that this article calls for Africa to reinvent itself.
Shifting from the culture of violence
From Cape to Cairo, African politics suffer from the culture of violence. Be it, sponsored violence induced by politicians or the random desire by one group (ethnic/tribal/race/social class etc.) to dominate another, African countries at one point or the other experience disturbing acts of violence that are politically motivated.
While the top hierarchy rarely suffers from this violence, it’s the total opposite when it comes to those at the bottom. True to the proverb, “when two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers” the general African populace has been affected and suffered the most from political disturbances. This, therefore, means that if any reinvention is to come, it is imperative that it starts from the bottom up for it to be effective.
One of the many memories that the legend Bob Marley left us is his wisdom and this wisdom is perfectly embedded in this saying, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but our selves can free our minds.” The first and probably the only step that Africans need to take in order to overthrow the culture of political violence is for them to become aware of the political, economic and social conditions that lead them to engage in acts of violence. Such conditions which among other things include race, ethnicity, tribalism, and inferiority complex are so enmeshed in the hearts and minds of most Africans such that they subconsciously dictate how Africans think and act.
In order for Africans to emancipate themselves from these terrible conditions, it’s imperative that first, they become conscious of the conditions that exist within their minds which blindly leads them to engage and commit in terrible acts. Only when the people become conscious can there be a shift from the culture of violence to a culture of peace in African politics.
Politics of personality
While the public possesses the power to force a shift from the culture of violence, the politicians themselves can also play a part in this shift. Often times, politicians prey on the vulnerabilities of the masses, they draw support from entrenching themselves in the politics of ethnicity, tribalism and in some cases religion and gender.
By identifying with one group, they become the hero or saviour of that group and the result is that it ends up creating politics of personality; the problem with politics of personality is that it blinds people, instead of following the objective path they become subjective. They blindly follow even when the politician goes on a wrong path and when another group tries to highlight his/her flaws, those blindly following feel like they and their ‘hero’ have been attacked and find a justification for defending themselves in often times a violent manner. It’s important therefore that African politicians move past politics of personality to politics of substance.
Africans need conscientization and African politicians need to desist from politics of personality to politics of substance, then and only then can Africans see each other as friends in the political arena even when disagreeing just like the newfound friendship of Kenyatta and Odinga.
Mr Sarkozy clinched big trade deals for France with Libya’s Gaddafi in 2007 when he was president
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy says allegations he received campaign funding from late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are making his life “hell”.
“I am accused without any physical evidence,” Mr Sarkozy told magistrates, Le Figaro newspaper reports.
He has been placed under formal investigation for illicit election campaign financing in 2007, misappropriation of Libyan public funds and passive corruption.
Mr Sarkozy, 63, denies any wrongdoing.
The centre-right politician, who was in police custody being questioned for two days this week, says his Libyan accusers are seeking vengeance for his decision to deploy French warplanes during the uprising which overthrew Gaddafi in 2011.
In it, he says that he is aware the allegations against him are “serious”, but that they amount to “slander” and have made his life “hell” since 11 March 2011, when the claims were first made by Gaddafi.
Hammer blow for ex-leader
Analysis by Hugh Schofield, BBC News, Paris
These accusations against Nicolas Sarkozy are in a different realm from all those other judicial problems that he has faced. The others are classic allegations of illegal party funding and abuse of influence.
This one is about taking money from a foreign dictator.
In each case, presumption of innocence has to prevail. Mr Sarkozy’s key argument is that he is the victim of a left-wing vendetta: judges out to get him.
On Libya, he points out that his accusers – henchmen of Gaddafi and sleazy middlemen – are not exactly paragons of veracity.
But the truth is that this is a hammer blow to the former president. The judges believe there are “serious and coherent” indications that he did indeed take money from the Libyans, and on that basis they will now conduct their investigation.
The implications are devastating. If the charges are true, then the whole story of Sarkozy’s presidency will have to be re-assessed. More importantly, what would it say about the French-led campaign to topple Gaddafi in 2011? A campaign in which the UK was persuaded by France to take part.
Big questions – if the charges are true. But don’t expect any quick answers. This case could drag on for years.
What is the Libya case about?
In 2013, France opened an investigation into allegations that Mr Sarkozy’s campaign had benefited from millions of euros of illicit funds from Gaddafi.
He failed in his bid to return to power in 2012, however, losing to Socialist candidate François Hollande.
The claims came from a French-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, and some former Gaddafi regime officials.
Mr Guéant, who was managing Mr Sarkozy’s presidential campaign in 2007, told the franceinfo website on Tuesday that he had “never seen a penny of Libyan financing”.
He was placed under formal investigation earlier this year over a €500,000 bank transfer in 2008. He has denied wrongdoing and claimed the money came from the sale of two paintings.
Does Sarkozy face other charges?
Criminal proceedings have been launched against Mr Sarkozy in one other case of alleged illicit campaign financing.
It is alleged that he engaged in accounting fraud to overshoot the ceiling for campaign expenditure in 2012, which was €22.5m.
Mr Sarkozy denies he was aware of the overspending.
The affair is known as the Bygmalion scandal.
In connection with his 2007 campaign, Mr Sarkozy was previously cleared over claims that he had used secret funding from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and that he had tried to influence investigating magistrates.
African leaders pose for a group photograph as they meet to sign a free trade deal that would create a liberalized market for goods and services across the continent, in Kigali, Rwanda March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jean Bizimana
KIGALI (Reuters) – African leaders agreed on Wednesday to form a $3 trillion continental free-trade zone encompassing 1.2 billion people, but its two biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, did not sign up, diminishing its impact.
The African Union started talks in 2015 to establish a 55-nation bloc that would be the biggest in the world by member states, in a bid to increase intra-regional trade, which sits at a measly 15 percent of Africa’s total commerce.
Rwandan president Paul Kagame, host of an AU summit called to conclude the initial negotiations, declared the meeting a success after 44 African nations signed up to establish the free trade bloc within 18 months.
It was not immediately clear why South Africa and Nigeria stayed on the sidelines. Others staying out of the bloc were Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Burundi, Eritrea, Benin, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.
“It would have been great if the two biggest economies on the continent, Nigeria and South Africa, had signed, but the most important is that the rest of the continent is sending a right message to these two biggest economies that we are moving ahead without you,” said Michael Kottoh, an analyst at Confidential Strategies in Ghana.
The project needed a minimum of 22 countries signing up to get off the ground and Kagame hailed the effort so far.
“What is at stake is the dignity and well-being of Africa’s farmers, workers and entrepreneurs,” he said.
AU trade commissioner Albert Muchanga also put a positive spin on the absence of the top two African economies, telling Reuters they would soon join in.
“They are still doing national level consultations and so when they finish they will be able to come on board,” he said.
Economists point to Africa’s low level of intra-regional trade as one of the reasons for the continent’s enduring poverty and lack of a strong manufacturing base.
It is blamed on a host of factors, from colonialism, to high internal tariffs to poor road and rail links to excessive border bureaucracy and petty corruption at frontier checkpoints.
The relatively small size of many African markets – only Nigeria and Ethiopia have populations estimated at 100 million people or more – also inhibit private sector investment.
Africa already has an alphabet soup of competing and overlapping trade zones – ECOWAS in the west, EAC in the east, SADC in the south and COMESA in the east and south – although only the EAC, driven mainly by Kenya, has made significant progress towards a common market in goods and services.
Analysts said governments needed to do more to ensure goods and people flowed freely across borders.
“If they just sign the agreement without opening the borders, without getting rid of non-tariff barriers and if they don’t work on free movement of people, it is not going to work,” analyst Kottoh said.
Even the six-nation EAC has its sticking points – Tanzania has been known to kick out Kenyan executives and impound Kenyan imports at the border, in violation of EAC rules.
Businessmen said the current set-up forced them to look outside the continent, particularly Asia for manufactured goods.
“It is easy and cheaper to buy in Asia than to buy in the sub-region because of less-flexible rules of origin and non-tariff barriers that are not clear,” said Meriem Bensalah-Chaqroun, head of the Moroccan Confederation of Businesses.
Sudden changes in rules and impromptu checks on goods also held up supply chains.
“Some countries all of a sudden decide they are going to do a quality check on goods but they don’t really know what they want to check. That slows the trade,” said Thomas Schafer, CEO of Volkswagen Africa.
“We are not able to bring a vehicle from South Africa into Zimbabwe in a cost-efficient and fast way. That needs to change.”
Aims to enable 30 million African youth to secure jobs by 2030
Photo credits: Intersect for Mastercard Foundation
KIGALI, Rwanda, March 22nd, 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Today, the Mastercard Foundation announced a commitment to enable 30 million African youth, especially young women, to secure dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. The Foundation also announced two new programs in Rwanda that will directly contribute to the overall goal of increasing economic opportunities for young people in Africa.
Today’s announcements are part of the Foundation’s ambitious new strategy, Young Africa Works, which aims to reduce poverty on the continent by tackling youth unemployment. The strategy is the result of extensive consultations with leaders of African governments, the private sector, educational institutions, civil society, and young people.
Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, particularly for young people. By 2030, there will be more than 375 million people under the age of 35 in the labour market. Population growth on the continent means that by 2035, there will be more young people entering Africa’s workforce each year than the rest of the globe combined. In 2050, one quarter of the world’s working age population will be African, making it the largest workforce in the world.
“Youth unemployment in Africa is the issue of our time. Together, we have an extraordinary opportunity to shape the future and increase prosperity for all,” said Reeta Roy, Mastercard Foundation President and CEO. “In fact, young people are leading the way. Let’s support their aspirations for their communities and their countries.”
The Young Africa Works strategy builds on what the Foundation has learned from a decade of working in Africa, expanding access to education and financial inclusion. The new strategy puts an emphasis on working with African organizations and designing solutions specific to a country’s economic needs and goals. Collaborating with governments and the private sector to identify priority areas for growth, the Foundation’s programs will prepare young people with the skills they need for employment through relevant training and education, use technology to connect employers and job seekers, and enable entrepreneurs and small businesses to expand through access to financial services.
“Every day I see young Africans whose potential is going untapped,” said Angela Nzioki, Co-Founder and Manager of Pluspeople Kenya Limited and a youth panelist at an event launching the strategy. “They are innovative, passionate, and talented, and they want a chance to prove themselves. For Africa to prosper, young people need to be at the heart of the policies and strategies of governments, universities, employers, and donors.”
Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente and other ministers and dignitaries also attended the event, where the Foundation marked the occasion with a commitment of US$100 million to two new initiatives in Rwanda, including:
1) Hanga Ahazaza, which aims to increase employment and enterprise opportunities for young Rwandans while expanding the country’s burgeoning tourism and hospitality sector and contributing to poverty reduction; and
2) Leaders in Teaching, which will support the delivery of high quality, relevant secondary education and will establish the pan-African Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT that will explore new approaches to improving educational outcomes.
Hanga Ahazaza, meaning “create the future” in Kinyarwanda, will equip 30,000 young men and women with customer service, ICT, and digital literacy skills, and provide on-the-job training and opportunities for employment. The initiative will also support small businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector through increased access to financial services and business development skills so they can create more employment opportunities for young people. It is a consortium of partners from the education, development, and private sectors.
The Leaders in Teaching initiative focuses on training, motivation, and professional development for teachers and school leaders. In Rwanda, at least 250,000 secondary school students will benefit as the initiative aims to improve Science, Math, and ICT knowledge and teaching skills for new and experienced teachers, improve the capacity of head teachers to create positive instructional environments, and recruit young people into the profession.
About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion for people living in poverty. One of the largest foundations in the world, it works almost exclusively in Africa. It was created in 2006 by Mastercard International and operates independently under the governance of its own Board of Directors.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir meets U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley in Juba
Juba – the United States is taking action against 15 South Sudanese oil-related companies whose revenues have allegedly contributed to the ongoing crisis in South Sudan.
The State Department said in statement on March 21, seen by Pan African Visions that South Sudan’s government and “corrupt official actors” are using the revenue to purchase weapons, fund militias and undermine peace, which prolong a civil war in the East Africa youngest nation.
The United States government said the names of these specific entities will be published in the Federal Register on March 22.
This also comes after the Enough Project and Global Witness named some individuals in the government use oil money to fuel conflict.
According to the President Trump’s administration, this action will force the government and companies to show that the country’s oil will benefit its people and not enrich corrupt elites or fuel violence.
The US said the listed entities are a source of substantial revenue for the Government of South Sudan.
“Unfortunately, the South Sudanese Government, and corrupt official actors, use this revenue to purchase weapons and fund irregular militias that undermine the peace, security, and stability of South Sudan rather than support the welfare and current emergency food needs of South Sudanese people,” the US said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We call on the region and broader international community to join us in limiting the financial flows that fuel the continuing violence in the country,” it read in part
The oil companies that have been listed by the US Bureau of Industry and Security, Commerce includes, Ascom Sudd Operating Company; Dar Petroleum Operating Company; DietsmannNile; Greater Pioneer Operating Co.Ltd; Juba Petrotech Technical Services Ltd; Nile Delta Petroleum Company; Nile Drilling and Services Company; Nile Petroleum Corporation; Nyakek and Sons; Oranto Petroleum; Safinat Group; SIPET Engineering and Consultancy Services; South Sudan Ministry of Minning; South Sudan Ministry of Petroleum and Sudd Petroleum Operating Co.
The U.S. and other companies will now need a license to export, re-export, or transfer exports of any U.S.-origin goods or technology to the listed entities.
“By placing these entities on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Entity List, the United States will impose a license requirement on all exports, re-exports, and transfers of any U.S.-origin items to those entities,” US Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in the statement.
In February this year, the Trump administration imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan.
This is the latest attempt to hold accountable those accused of spoiling peace and commit human rights violations in South Sudan.
The Sentry, a group co-founded by actor George Clooney, accused South Sudan’s government in a recent report of funneling cash from the state-owned oil company Nilepet to militias accused of committing atrocities.
The move, it explained, would now mean U.S., as well as non-US companies, will now need a license to export, re-export, or transfer exports of any US-origin goods or technology to the listed entities.
“By placing these entities on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Entity List, the United States will impose a license requirement on all exports, re-exports, and transfers of any U.S.-origin items to those entities,” said US Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert in a statement.
South Sudan government is not yet responding to US statement, but the observers said the move is an important step in the search for peace in South Sudan as the next round of the South Sudan peace talk’s approaches.
South Sudan got the lion’s share of the oil when it split from Sudan in July 2011, but it’s only export route is through Sudan, giving Khartoum leverage and leading to ongoing pricing disputes.
Oil production in South Sudan has been affected by the conflict that erupted in 2013 after a political disagreement between President Salva Kiir and his then deputy, Riek Machar, triggered war.
The war in South Sudan, which has featured the use of child soldiers, rape as a weapon of war, and mass atrocities, has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and has left over 2 million people displaced.
It said it expects the government, as well as the armed opposition, to fulfill their commitments to IGAD and the people of South Sudan by ceasing “hostilities, allow unimpeded humanitarian access, and pursue a negotiated peace in good faith”.
“The government of South Sudan must not squander that generosity and should take concrete steps to provide for the vast needs of the South Sudanese people,” statement said in part.
According to the statement, this action reflects the U. S commitment to doing all it can to protect the innocent people of South Sudan.
Africa has not been well served by the Trump administration, and prospects are not good that things will change soon says Johnnie Carson
When it comes to Africa, don’t expect much from the changes taking place at the US State Department. The White House is not interested in Africa.
The Trump Administration has not made Africa a priority and the White House has failed to set out a comprehensive strategy or introduce any new policy initiatives regarding the continent.
The appointment of CIA Director Michael Pompeo to replace former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not lead to an uptick in interest or engagement.
If anything, this change will reinforce America’s focus on security and counter-terrorism. This emphasis could end up taking US policy further backwards. It could align the US with increasingly corrupt and autocratic governments. It could ensnare Washington in longstanding conflicts that cannot be won by military means alone. And it could undercut US influence and integrity more broadly on the continent.
The abrupt dismissal of Tillerson following his abridged five-nation trip to Africa is not good news. Although his ouster had nothing to do with the continent, he was probably the only cabinet official with any interest or prior experience in Africa. His departure underscores the senior level policy void. Even now, key Africa posts in the State Department remain unfilled, including that of Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
Pompeo’s nomination to replace Tillerson is probably bad news for those who want to see the US energise its engagement and lay out a comprehensive set of policies and programmes regarding Africa’s economic, social, health and trade challenges. It is probably good news for all those who believe America’s priority in Africa should be to expand security alliances to combat threats in Somalia, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin.
Mike Pompeo has been named as Rex Tillerson’s successor as US Secretary of State. Credit: Gage Skidmore.
A West Point graduate and hawkish conservative, Pompeo’s limited comments about Africa have focused on Libya and counter terrorism. As a member of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, he was strongly critical of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the tragic death of Ambassador Chris Stevens.
On security issues across the continent, Pompeo has said “there’s a big counter-terrorism threat there” and claimed the US can do more. Although he has supported food aid for countries in need, his first priority is likely to be bolstering security collaboration with states participating in the African Union’s military operations in Somalia as well as countries in the Sahel and Lake Chad region fighting Boko Haram and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
If Pompeo pursues this security first agenda, he will continue a short-sighted approach that devalues many of America’s programmes that prioritise economic development, good governance and rule of law. The emphasis on security will give the appearance of militarising the US’ role in Africa. It will diminish America’s influence and create a larger political, economic and development void for other countries to fill. Armed conflict and counter-terrorism are not at the top of the agenda for most of the 49 states in sub-Saharan Africa.
Pompeo’s strong support for Trump’s “America First” approach does not auger well for Africa either. The US president’s global agenda runs counter to many of the bipartisan policies and programmes that have anchored American policy in Africa for the past 25 years.
Although the administration professes to support many of the policies put in place by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, its actions often move in a different direction.
The administration’s proposed 30% cut to USAID’s budget, for example, will have a heavy and disproportionate impact on activities in Africa. Its draconian re-imposition of the Mexico City rule, which bars US funding to groups that provide information on family planning, stops money going to many organisations and programmes that provide anti-retroviral treatments under PEPFAR, President Bush’s widely praised HIV/AIDS prevention programme. Meanwhile, the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement will end its $3 billion contribution to the Green Climate (Change) Fund, a move that will particularly hurt Africa, the continent most vulnerable to climate change.
The administration’s spending decisions have already reduced the size of the Young African Leaders Initiative, spending on democracy and governance efforts, and programmes that support expanded trade and commercial activities. The Trump administration’s actions are already having a negative impact across the continent.
The appointment of an Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs might be able to stabilise the US’ Africa policies, slow down some of the more negative decisions being made, and begin to put into place a more comprehensive and forward-looking framework. However, Pompeo’s Senate confirmation will probably slow down the appointment of a new Africa Secretary as well as the appointment of new ambassadors for critical posts in the likes of South Africa, Tanzania and Somalia.
(L-R) Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, US President Donald Trump, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, Vice President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn pose following a family photo of G7 leaders with African leaders after an expanded session at the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7, the group of most industrialized economies, plus the European Union, on May 27, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / JONATHAN ERNST (Photo credit should read JONATHAN ERNST/AFP/Getty Images)
It was widely rumoured that a respected former diplomat, Tibor Nagy, would be nominated shortly for the top Africa position in the State Department. But that nomination will probably not move forward in advance of Pompeo’s confirmation. Those hearings are not scheduled until early-April and the process could drag on for several months.
Africa has not been well served by the Trump administration, and prospects are not good that things will change soon. As Africa policy languishes and important bipartisan programmes wither, the administration will probably at some point dispatch Pompeo to the continent to talk up the American security agenda. Perhaps even presidential adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump will be sent as a token reflection of White House interest, but these visits would only be putting a glossy face on what is pretty gloomy policy.
*Culled From African Arguments.Johnnie Carson was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the first Obama Administration and is a former US Ambassador to Kenya. He is currently a Senior Advisor at the United States Institute of Peace.
Africa is hoping to create a free trade area stretching across the continent
The European Union and its free trade agreement took decades to establish. Africa is now hoping it can achieve the same in a fraction of the time.
But with Nigeria pulling out, questions are being raised over just how achievable it really is.
The vision is a free trade deal encompassing 1.2 billion people stretching from Cape Town to Cairo.
Goods, services and perhaps labour, flowing freely in and out of more than 50 African countries.
It could create tens of thousands of jobs and significantly reduce unemployment among the continent’s youthful population.
It’ll boost trade between African countries and would be instrumental in moving the whole continent away from the narrative of simply being a place where the powerhouse economies of the West and East come to get their raw materials.
Many African governments, naturally, are keen. So, expect lots of fanfare when African leaders gather in the Rwandan capital, Kigali this week to sign the agreement.
The South African department of trade and industry says it’s “committed to a co-ordinated strategy to boost intra-Africa trade and to build an integrated market in Africa that will see a market of over a billion people with a GDP of approximately $2.6 trillion (£1.85tn) “.
And Kenya’s trade ministry says it’ll not only create a massive liberalised market, but will also “enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level, enhance value addition of products and exploit economies of scale and optimum utilization of resource”.
But the deal has already hit its first hurdle, before it’s even been signed.
Nigeria announced at the weekend that President Muhammadu Buhari will not attend the ceremony in Kigali. In a statement, the Nigerian government said that “certain key stakeholders in Nigeria indicated that they had not been consulted, for which reasons they had some concerns on the provisions of the treaty”.
Those key stakeholders are both Nigeria’s business community and its trade unions. The trade unions are thought to be particularly concerned about a free trade area, given that it could develop into a much more integrated body, which would see the free movement of workers across borders, providing a possible threat to Nigerian jobs.
The fact that Africa’s largest economy won’t be at the launch has placed a dampener on proceedings and a question mark over the entire project’s viability.
Even if all parties do eventually agree to sign a free trade treaty, that is simply where the real work begins. After the ink dries and the officials have all gone home, how quickly can such an agreement to put into practice? When will it make a difference on the ground? Until a business can move its goods from any country in the Free Trade Area to any another almost as if borders don’t exist the proclamations on paper will count for very little.
Under a free trade area agreement, all the African signatory countries would have to agree to reduce the trade tariffs and import quotas between each other and boost intra-African trade.
Generally speaking, it’s the first stage of closer economic co-operation with a view to possible integration. The next stage would be a customs union, where each country would have the same tariffs with the outside world and low or no tariffs between each other.
Then comes a common market, where goods, services and labour move tariff and quota-free between the countries and the bloc has a common trade relationship with the rest of the globe. Further integration involves political union and a unifying single currency.
A big ask
All of this took the European Union more than 50 years to establish following the Second World War. Some integration already exists in Africa – the East African Community and the Southern Africa Customs Union are examples.
But for a continent-wide free trade area to really work there has to be significantly more cross-border trade within Africa. This is currently a challenge, as most African countries tend to trade more with the outside world than they do with their fellow African states. Indeed, intra-African trade accounts for about 16% of the total – in Asia that figure is 51% and in Europe it rises to 70%.
Another challenge is the sheer size of Africa – not just geographically, but also in terms of the number of countries that need to sign up and ratify the free trade area agreement. When the European integration process started in the early 1950s, just six countries were involved.
More than 60 years later, the European Union has 28 members. Africa has 54 countries. So, implementation and co-ordination are key. For a start, the parliaments of the all the countries need to ratify it. How long those political wheels take to turn is anybody’s guess.
The African Free Trade Area is a big task and, in a way, a big ask. But if it’s the first tentative steps toward greater economic ties and trade within Africa, the continent’s citizens will feel its benefits.
How quickly that happens depends on the enduring enthusiasm, focus and determination of the leaders who pen the deal.
MAN lauds Buhari’s stand on AfCFTA, says FG should not sign the agreement
ABUJA, Nigeria, March 21, 2018/ — The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) (www.ManufacturersNigeria.org) on Wednesday strongly supported the move by the Federal Government on its refusal to sign the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The Manufacturers Association frowned at the contents of the agreement, noting that it will lead to gross unemployment in the country as most manufacturing companies in the country will be made to die a quicker death.
The Association President, Dr. Frank Jacobs said his association would not support Federal Government’s adoption and ratification of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) until issues of market access and enforcement of rules of origin are addressed.
According to MAN, the agitation from the private sector was a result of lack of consultation and inclusion of inputs of key stakeholders before Nigeria’s position was presented at the meetings of the African Union-Technical Working Group on CFTA in the build-up to AfCFTA negotiation by Nigeria.
The AfCTA is expected to create a trade bloc of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion. The agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90% of goods and to liberalize services.
MAN President, Dr. Frank Jacobs
Addressing journalists yesterday, Association of Manufacturers President, Dr. Frank Jacobs explained that the issues of market access that allows only 10 percent of products to be protected as well as government’s enforcement mechanism in the area of enforcement of rules of origin need to be clearly defined before local producers can support the agreement.
Noting that MAN is not oblivious of the benefits inherent in installing a continental trade agreement like AfCFTA that could improve intra-African trade and enhance economic growth and sustainable development, Jacobs said that Nigeria’s national interest should however be the primary consideration in the decision to sign-on to such an arrangement.
In his recommendations, Jacobs urged the government to set in motion a process that will enable all stakeholders on the international trade value chain in Nigeria to quickly review the text of the draft AfCFTA agreement and come up with comments on areas that are not in the best interest of the Nigerian economy and sectors.
“Government should, as matter of urgency, convene a special meeting of the relevant stakeholders, including experts on trade policy to consider tariff lines rates along the line of efficiency, sectoral and sub-sectoral preferences that would be most beneficial to Nigerian businesses under the AfCFTA dispensation as well as reconsider the national position on EPA vis-a-vis the AfCFTA especially on tariff lines of products on the sensitive/exclusion list, with a view to ensuring that the EU-EPA is not reintroduced through the AfCFTA’s back door.
“Review presentations and prepare a detailed submission for the Government on ways and means of participating in the AfCFTA in a manner that our national interest and that of the budding manufacturing sector are effectively protected”, he added.
Holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco have pulled debutants AS Port of Togo in the Confederation of African Football’s Champions League draws.
They are in Group C with 2016 winners Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and Horoya of Guinea.
Record winners Al Ahly of Egypt are in Group A alongside Esperance of Tunisia.
This group also includes debutants Uganda’s Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) and Botswana’s Township Rollers.
Congolese giants TP Mazembe are in Group B with former winners Algeria’s Entente Setif.
Mouloudia Alger of Algeria, Difaa El Jadidi of Morocco are also in this same group.
In Group D, Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia will face Angola’s Primeiro de Agosto, Zesco United of Zambia, as well as newcomers Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland.
The group phases will kick off on the weekend of 6-8 May.
Champions League groups:
Group A: Al Ahly (Egypt), Township Rollers (Botswana), KCCA (Uganda), Esperance de Tunis (Tunisia)
GROUP B: TP Mazembe (DR Congo), Mouloudia Alger (Algeria), Difaa El Jadidi (Morocco), Entente Setif (Algeria)
Group C: AS Port of Togo (Togo), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa), Wydad Casablanca (Morocco), Horoya (Guinea)
Group D: Zesco United (Zambia), Primeiro de Agosto (Angola), Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia), Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland)
Caf also held draws for the Confederation Cup play-offs.
Zanaco (Zambia) v Raja Casablanca (Morocco), AS Vita Club (DR Congo) v CS la Mancha (Congo), Saint George (Ethiopia) v Cara Brazzaville (Congo), Al Hilal (Sudan) v Akwa Utd (Nigeria), Gor Mahia (Kenya) v SuperSport Utd (South Africa), UD Songo (Mozambique) v Al Hilal Obied (Sudan), Plateau Utd (Nigeria) v USM Alger (Algeria), Wits (South Africa) v Enyimba (Nigeria), Aduana Stars (Ghana) v Fosa Juniors (Madagascar), Young Africans (Tanzania) v Welayta Dicha (Ethiopia), Generation Foot (Senegal) v Renaissance Berkane (Morocco), Mounana (Gabon) v Al Masry (Egypt), ASEC Mimosas (Ivory Coast) v CR Belouizdad (Algeria), Williamsville (Ivory Coast) v Deportivo Niefang (Equatorial Guinea), Mountain of Fire and Miracles (Nigeria) v Djoliba (Mali), Rayon Sports (Rwanda) v Costa do Sol (Mozambique)
President Muhammadu Buhari’s 12th hour decision to snub the African Union Extra-ordinary summit on the endorsement of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), in Kigali, March 20 – 22 is a diplomatic blunder. The excuse that has been offered is not convincing, the management of the entire episode is untidy. Simple courtesies matter in diplomacy, unpredictability, surprise and ambush may be good tactics on the battlefield but they could be costly in the much finer arena of diplomacy. I want to assume that President Buhari was misadvised. Standards have fallen generally in our foreign policy management process, and they have done so much more rapidly in the last three years, for both seen and unseen reasons, but I did not imagine that we could descend this low as to begin to play pranks with some of the major planks of Nigeria’s foreign policy framework. President Buhari should have been in Kigali on March 21 to sign the AfCFTA document and participate in the deliberations.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is probably the most historic, epoch-making development since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which later became the African Union (AU) in 2002. It is also probably the biggest trade agreement since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and a concrete, provable culmination of the goals of African Renaissance and Afro-optimism. It should be noted that Nigeria was part of this process from the very beginning. In 1981, Nigeria was the host of an economic summit organized by the OAU, the very first of such summits. It took place in Lagos under the Shagari government. The outcome was the Lagos Plan of Action on African economic development. In the 90s, at least three African leaders were in the forefront of what became known as the African Renaissance – South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and Libya’s Muammar Ghadaffi – using the platform of the OAU/AU, and the co-operation and support of both the African and Western intelligentsia.
African Renaissance is about rebirth and the transformation of Africa. It is also about integration at various levels: security, peace, stability, development and co-operation as captured in the Kampala Document of 1991. There was indeed so much talk at the time about Africa, being the “last frontier” that needed to be developed. This vision of a transformed Africa resulted in the introduction of policy actions and structures including the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the New Africa Initiative (NAI), the Abuja Treaty (1991) and the idea of an African Economic Community (AEC). Much of this may have been inspired by developments in this direction in the West – the European Union for example, and the Washington Consensus, but it was all within the context of developing Africa’s capacity to compete, integrate, co-operate and advance into the future. The AfCFTA is a product of that process and probably the most important harvest.
African Heads of Government agreed to it in 2012 and started negotiations in 2015. It is a trade liberalization policy to remove barriers that have hitherto hindered intra-African trade. Those barriers made Africa majorly a collection of closed communities, trading with Europe, Asia and the United States, and doing little trading among themselves. Under the AfCFTA, African leaders seek to increase intra-African trade from 14% to 52% by 2022. Its main features include the removal of tariffs on goods (up to 90%), reduction of delays at borders, liberalization of services, job creation and the expansion of opportunities available to the people. At first flush, there is no doubt that the AfCFTA could lead to the eventual realization of the AU Agenda 2063 – “the African we want”- a 12-flagship-projects programme, which includes a Single African Air Transport Market, free movement of people and a common currency.
Nigeria was actively involved in all these negotiations leading to the preparation of an enabling legal framework for continental free trade; such was the level of our commitment that the country in fact lobbied to have the AfCFTA secretariat situated in Abuja. So, at what point did Nigeria transform from being conveners to boycotters of this strategic initiative? It will be recalled that on March 14, the AfCFTA framework was reportedly presented for consideration at the Federal Executive Council and it was endorsed. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment later addressed the State House Press Corps to announce Nigeria’s enthusiasm and commitment to the AfCFTA. By Friday, the country’s delegation to the AU Extra-ordinary Summit on the AfCFTA was already on its way to Kigali, and this included the President’s advance team. The State House even issued a statement announcing the President’s trip to Kigali. Then all of a sudden, on Sunday, March 18, the country was informed that the President’s trip to Kigali had been cancelled “to allow time for broader consultations” – with stakeholders who had objected to Nigeria signing the AfCFTA document.
There is something untidy here. The Federal Executive Council, or the Executive Council of the Federation as it is known to the Constitution, is the highest decision-making body of the Federal Government. At what point did it meet to reverse the decision it had taken on the AfCFTA on Wednesday, March 14? When did the stakeholders make their positions known to government and what was the manner of communication, to command an express, weekend cancellation of a planned Presidential trip that had already been announced and initiated? And at what point were the objections considered? Was there even any input from the relevant Ministries: Foreign Affairs, Budget and National Planning, and Industry, Trade and Investment?
The identity of the complainants was soon revealed; members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), particularly the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) who claimed that Nigeria would be overwhelmed by business from outside under AfCFTA; Nigerian airline operators, the same owners of those flying coffins whose doors disengage on impact, whose tyres are so worn-out they sometimes can’t land on the tarmac, yes, they too claim Nigeria should not sign up to any open skies agreement, and then of course the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) whose leaders reportedly dismissed the AfCFTA as “a renewed extremely dangerous and radioactive neoliberal policy initiative.” It is common practice for certain stakeholders to object to ideas and policies. The controversy over WTO agreements and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a famous example. In Africa, also, there were objections to NEPAD and the African Peer Review Mechanism by some African leaders. But one point is that the AU is not only for governments, it is also a platform for African business stakeholders, NGOs, and the civil society in general. Nigeria’s OPS, MAN and NLC did not have to wait till the last minute. They have had more than 3 years to engage the Nigerian government. And could it in fact be that the Nigerian Government never bothered to consult these stakeholders?
Nonetheless, their objections do not provide enough reason for a Nigerian boycott of the AU extra-ordinary summit in Kigali. Instead, they provide a justification for Nigeria’s presence. Nigeria’s absence is an assault on the integrity of its fundamental foreign policy objectives. Africa is the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy process, beginning with our immediate neighbours in the West African sub-region. For this reason, Nigeria has always been in the forefront of major events, conversations and developments in the continent. Our absence at such a landmark event as the Kigali summit is an abdication of leadership and responsibility. Other African countries may for a season, no longer trust Nigeria: to commit to a process so robustly, only to chicken out at the last minute on account of blackmail by recovering socialists, protectionists and anti-trade lobbyists – that is not the way of Nigerian diplomacy or international best practice.
I assume that the boycott is based on the wrong presumption that the AfCFTA takes immediate effect and it is binding immediately it is launched and signed by Heads of Government. Where are the Africa experts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA)? Is anyone still consulting them or they just now go to the office to drink tea? What is signed at the Kigali Summit is the Legal Framework for the Trade agreement. The number of countries that would ratify the agreement to kick it into effect as at the time of this writing has not even been determined: 15, 22, 37 or a figure in-between or more. After signing up to it, each country will further ratify the agreement by way of domestication, and there is room for further negotiations, which could still go on for years, over matters that may be considered “sensitive.” Some of these “sensitive” issues have already been identified including the establishment of dispute resolution mechanisms, the prevention of dumping, intellectual property and copyright issues, rules-based considerations with regard to removal of tariffs, anti-trust considerations and the protection of countries with little or no production capabilities, to mitigate the effect of uneven benefits, and to ensure fairness, justice and protection of human rights.
South Africa, for example, has raised concerns about the proposed free movement of persons, but the South African President has not boycotted the Summit, instead he says he has “his pen on the ready.” He has signed the Kigali declaration. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is not attending the Summit but he has sent his Minister of Foreign Affairs to represent him and he issued a statement expressing commitment to the Trade agreement. Uganda has since signed. Tanzania says the Tanzania parliament will debate the agreement, but meanwhile, Tanzania has signed. So far, here is the final tally as at close of business on March 21: AfCFTA – 44 countries, Kigali Declaration – 43 countries; Protocol on Free Movement of People – 27 countries. Nigeria’s absence is definitely an embarrassing boycott. Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs may be in Kigali but he and his team have no mandate to engage in any negotiations, our President, the country’s chief diplomat, having said he needs more time for “broader consultations.” This so-called consultation is precisely what the Kigali summit is all about. Nigeria or any of the other 54 countries does not have any veto power over AU decisions. The rest of Africa can choose to go ahead on this matter without Nigeria and if that happens, we would still not be in a position to stop the globalization and liberalization process or sabotage “Africa’s Common Position”.
The irony that is lost on Abuja is that in fact Nigeria needs the AfCFTA more than any other African country. Nigeria has the largest market and population. The country and its people stand to benefit more especially at the level of services and SMEs. There are more Nigerians than any other group of Africans trading across the continent- in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, South Africa, Gabon, Cameroon, Sao Tome, Equitorial Guinea – our people are everywhere. Out of about the 300 shops or so in Sao Tome’s main market, about 200 of those shops are owned by Nigerians. The spare parts business in Angola is in the hands of Nigerians. Nigerian technocrats and businessmen dominate the services sector in The Gambia. There are over one million Nigerians doing business in Cote d’Ivoire. There are Nigerian banks and insurance companies across Africa, even as far as Kigali. The Dangote group has factories in 14 African countries.
In all of these places, the Nigerian trader or businessman is not particularly well-liked. He is subjected to high tariffs, his shops are raided, and as is the case in South Africa, Nigerians are attacked for making more money and for attracting local girls. A Continental Free Trade Agreement could put an end to this. It will also make it possible for airlines like Ethiopian airline or Rwandair or Kenyan Airways to operate domestic flights inside Nigeria, and perhaps make it possible for Africans to travel directly within the continent instead of a Nigerian having to travel first to Europe before accessing countries like Sao Tome and Equitorial Guinea which are less than 30 minutes away from the Nigerian coastline. Many Nigerians would rather choose efficiency over the opposite. The gain would be the creation of more jobs and opportunities. The competition that will result will compel Nigerian businesses to raise the level of their game. The AfCFTA will not kill Nigerian businesses as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria ignorantly claims. A more inclusive Africa is the pathway to a transformed Africa. Nigeria gives aid to many African countries, for which it gets little in return; under an AfCFTA dispensation, Nigeria can give those aid-dependent countries, trade not aid.
Nigeria must be greatly missed at the Kigali AU Summit. From the pictures that I have seen, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is the most prominent Nigerian on ground at that historic event but even he is not in a position to do any damage control; he is there in his own right as a global statesman and as one of the founding fathers of the AfCFTA initiative. Beyond all the country and issues-related arguments above, let me add this: President Muhammadu Buhari has a personal reason to be in Kigali. At the AU summit in Addis Ababa in January, he was honoured by the AU Commission as a champion of the anti-corruption campaign in Africa. It is worth stating that the AU battle cry for 2018 is actually this: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”. Africa is discussing an integrity framework for the continent’s transformation in Kigali, and the AU’s honoured and recognized integrity champion is back home in Abuja, having “broader consultations”! Enough said.
The directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to all security agencies to do everything possible to secure the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls, who were abducted 19 Feb. 2018, has yielded fruits, with the confirmed release of 101 of the 110 abducted students in the early hours of Wednesday.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the 101 are those who have been documented so far, adding that the release of the abducted students is ongoing.
The number of the Dapchi schoolgirls who were released on Wednesday has increased from 76 to 101, with the documentation of more of the freed girls by the insurgent group.
The Minister said the number could still increase, as the documentation of the freed girls is ongoing.
The Minister said the girls were released around 3 a.m. through back-channel efforts and with the help of some friends of the country, and that it was unconditional.
”For the release to work, the government had a clear understanding that violence and confrontation would not be the way out as it could endanger the lives of the girls, hence a non-violent approach was the preferred option.
”Within the period when the girls were being brought back, operational pause was observed in certain areas to ensure free passage and also that lives were not lost,” he said.
However, Sahara Reporters reported that five of the girls are dead as the insurgent group reportedly returned all kidnapped DapchiGirls girls back to Dapchi township in Yobe.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg meets Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, Nigeria, on September. Mark Zuckerberg’s African tour
Anyone who has been on the internet since last Friday at one point or the other must have come across news pieces focusing on a firm called Cambridge Analytica or the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook scandal. It’s not always the case that most internet users’ click on news with a special focus on firms or people they aren’t familiar with or in faraway places. However, the trending Cambridge Analytica scandal should be a concern for everyone regardless of location.
Why is the Cambridge Analytica scandal a big deal for everyone including Africans?
Everyone must be gravely concerned about the ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal because it affects each one of us directly and has influenced or possess the influence to alter our lives significantly. Firstly, the scandal occurred in the form of data mining by private firms on unsuspecting social media users (specifically Facebook but can also apply to other social media platforms). As most of us are social media users, this means it can affect or has already affected us.
Secondly, the scandal is a political machination meant at influencing the political outcome in elections, thus threatening the notion of democracy of free, fair, and credible elections. Something that affects us all.
Understanding the Cambridge Analytica in brief
Cambridge Analytica is a political data analysis firm operating in the US; it’s a subsidiary of Strategic Communications Laboratory, a London based company. Cambridge Analytica is accused of mining social media profiles and using the information to influence the elections.
The journey did not start with Cambridge Analytica, rather a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge called Dr. Aleksandra Kogan started it all, working separately from the Cambridge University of course. Kogan created an app, thisisyourdigitallife whose aim was to identify personalities of social media users and derive their behaviour. Kogan managed to get consent from 270 000 Facebook users for his app.
At some point during that time, Kogan found a loophole in Facebook and he was able to exploit it in the process increasing his app’s user base from 270 000 to 5 million (270 000 users voluntarily downloaded the app but Kogan managed to pilfer over 50 million profiles as the default terms of his agreement with Facebook enabled his app to gather data from the friends of the users who had voluntarily downloaded the app).
It is at this time that Kogan took his app and idea to Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell, two other psychologists who worked at Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre and had their own personality app called mypersonality developed in 2007. In 2013, Michael Kosinski and David Stillwell together with fashion forecasting Ph.D. student named Christopher Wylie started Cambridge Analytica after Christopher Wylie had approached Michal and David with a proposition to use mypersonality as a precursor to political behaviour.
Cambridge Analytica quickly took on Kogan’s thisisyourlife app together with its 5 million users. Kogan surrendered the app to Cambridge Analytica afterward, however news quickly reached Facebook that Kogan had exploited a loophole in Facebook’s operations and was able to mine data of 5 million users. Facebook instructed Kogan and Cambridge Analytica to stop mining the data; Cambridge Analytica refused as reported by Rolling Stone.
Cambridge Analytica’s influence in US elections
According to the Dallas News and the Guardian, Ted Cruz was the first US presidential candidate to have used the services of Cambridge Analytica in 2013. He, however, has issued a statement saying that the firm assured him at the time that its voter methods were legit.
Cambridge Analytica was however, more involved in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump as it was the main digital campaign trail. Cambridge Analytica used its Facebook data to combine voter records and other sources and develop targeted and personalised advertising. The firm also mapped out the areas where the candidate (Trump) should visit to garner most votes.
Cause for concern for Africa
The Cambridge Analytica scandal comes in the same year that 20 African countries are going to hold national elections. Though Cambridge Analytica’s influence is limited to the West according to evidence thus far, it’s possible that its activities may well have reached Africa. Even if this is not the case, there is the possibility that another firm that uses identical methods to Cambridge Analytica may well have some operations in Africa.
In order for Africa to protect itself from such firms that prey on unsuspecting social media users, it’s important to know how they go about their operations so that effective counter-strategies can be formulated. The first method as reported that Cambridge Analytica commonly used was to trace one’s Facebook history, almost all the activities one does on Facebook was used to create a pattern of behaviour; ‘likes’ determined someone’s preferences i.e. liberal or conservative. Age, sex, and precise location also including the type of cosmetic or food you enjoy were all used to narrow down one’s preferences. This very same information was also used to create targeted and personalised advertising that swayed voters to the preferred candidate.
It’s probably difficult for the general populace to know if such firms are part of a country’s election especially in the absence of strong investigative journalism. However, that does not mean such firms have power over social media users, you can protect yourself, your vote and also your country by keeping your social media data secure and safe by among other things being more alert on the data you share with external websites and apps.
If you have allowed several websites and apps permission to use your Facebook data in the past, you can follow the steps below to check the apps and sites with permission to your Facebook data so you remove those that feel and look suspicious.
Click the downward pointing arrow in the top right-hand corner.
In the sidebar on the left, select ‘Apps’
Tap the icon with the three horizontal lines
Scroll down and select ‘Settings’
Then ‘Account Settings’
Scroll down and select ‘Apps’
Tap ‘Logged in with Facebook’ to see all of the services accessing your account.