Ramaphosa proposes single African currency: AU Summit
March 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
KIGALI – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday strongly punted the idea of creating a single homogeneous currency for African countries in a bid to attract infrastructure investment and enable ease of intra-African trade.
Speaking as a panelist on financing intra-Africa trade at the African Continental Free Trade Area business forum in Kigali, Rwanda, Ramaphosa said that it was time that Africa stops relying on foreign currency for its development and trade, adding that this was born of colonial mentality.
“These are the reasons we need partners who must work with us and assist us ensure we de-risk projects in order to attract finance for infrastructure projects. I am particularly interested in the notion of us having a tradeable currency that allows us to trade effectively across territorial borders,” Ramaphosa said.
“We must rid ourselves of this colonial mentality that demands we rely on other people’s currency. Perhaps the day, the hour and the moment could have arrived for us to create a single African currency. Our focus should not be on our individual countries but the continent as a whole to unlock great opportunities and capabilities.”
At least 53 African Heads of States have gathered in Kigali for the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the AU to consider the legal instruments of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) and also launch the agreement officially to establish the treaty.
AfCTA is aimed at deepening African economic integration, promoting agricultural development, food security, industrialisation and structural economic transformation through single-air continental transport market with free movement of persons, capital, goods and services.
AU chairperson and Rwanda President, Paul Kagame gave a strong indication yet that member states will sign the treaty to create the continental free trade area even if the continent’s most-populated country, Nigeria, withdraws from the meeting.
Ramaphosa said that the AfCFTA signals a new beginning for Africa and an opportunity to unleash African people’s entrepreneurial nature, adding that the treaty would create a level playing field for African countries to participate in meaningful trade.
He also touched on the nagging issue of visa barriers for travellers between South Africa and Rwanda, saying that African leaders were creating pathways for their countries which had been impeded by artificial borders to flourish.
“Earlier today, I met with His Excellency President Kagame. We have agreed that we will put the relationship between our two countries on a much better footing. Amongst the issues we discussed, was that we must resolve the challenge of issuing of visa to people of Rwanda wanting to visit South Africa,” Ramaphosa said.
“Our Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation have been tasked to work on this immediately and we thus consider this matter of visas as solved.”
*African News Agency
Initiative for Global Development Announces Sponsorship Line up for U.S. Roadshow Tour
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 20, 2018 – The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) announced today its lineup of sponsors and partners for its four-city U.S. Roadshow Tour, taking place from April 18 – May 1, 2018, to spur bold action on increasing U.S. trade and investment in Africa.
The U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”, is aimed at re-shaping perceptions on doing business in Africa by bringing trade and investment opportunities to U.S. companies and forging stronger connections between U.S. and African business leaders in key growth sectors.
African and U.S. CEOs and senior executives from sector-leading companies and investors are invited to participate in the U.S. roadshow’s multi-city series of site visits, panel discussions, and speed networking among investors and business leaders to spur greater U.S. investment in Africa.
Top level sponsors of the U.S. Roadshow Tour include USAID’s East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs as Premier Sponsor. The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group will serve as Collaborating Partner and the Bank’s top leadership from key sectors will be participating throughout the roadshow tour.
Launching the U.S. roadshow in Washington, D.C on April 18 with an evening reception to kick off the U.S. Roadshow Tour on Capitol Hill.
A high-level morning session on April 19 will focus on U.S. financing of businesses operating in Africa. A Private Sector Engagement Forum, to be held on the afternoon of Thursday, April 19, will bring together development actors — USAID officials, African government officials and representatives from the private sector and civil society — for an action-oriented discussion on building successful public-private partnerships to promote sustainable development and economic prosperity on the continent.
The roadshow tour will then travel to New York City to highlight banking, financing, and investment opportunities; Des Moines, IA for agriculture and agro-industry; and Houston, TX for energy and power.
“It has never been a better time for trade and investment in Africa,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcoych, President and CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD). “We’re excited about launching the U.S. roadshow tour to showcase the continent’s economic potential. Expanding trade and investment will enable both U.S. and African companies to scale and tap into new markets, leading to mutually beneficial job creation and greater economic prosperity. It’s a win-win.”
Platinum sponsors are Chevron, Norton, Rose and Fulbright LLP, Iowa State University Research Park, and AGCO; Lilium Capital, and Orrick; Gold sponsors are Corteva Agriscience, Endeavor Energy, John Deere, Sasol, and AllAfrica.com; and Silver sponsors are World Food Prize Foundation and Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Organizational Partners are PAN Diaspora Capital Management, Harris Africa Partners/Grant T. Harris, The Serendra Group LLC/Robert van Zwieten, U.S. Bilateral African Chamber of Commerce, Global Farmer Network, U.S. Small Business Administration, and Invest Africa.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is a regional multilateral development bank engaged in promoting the sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries, thus contributing to poverty reduction. The USAID East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs provide extensive support to deepen the U.S.-Africa economic and commercial relationship with and within their regions.
Sponsorship opportunities are still available and IGD will announce additional sponsors and media partners on an ongoing basis. For information contact, Lara Bangs, Manager of Corporate Events, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.aircampaign.org
The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a Washington, DC-based network of African and global business leaders who are committed to advancing sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa through business investment. IGD brings together CEOs and senior executives from leading African and global companies through our Frontier Leader Network to catalyze greater business investment and impact on the African continent.
Pan African University 2018 Student Call Now Open: Join Africa’s Leaders in Water and Energy
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
|The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES) offers four distinct two-year Master programs|
TLEMCEN, Algeria, March 20, 2018/ — The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES) (http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz) in Algeria contributes to promoting higher education and applied research in the fields of water, energy and climate change – a key contribution to sustainable development in Africa. The admissions process for its Master programs in water and energy (both engineering and policy tracks) starting in September 2018 is now open. All AU citizens (including diaspora) are encouraged to apply, particularly women and candidates from Southern, Central, and Northern Africa.
Building a prosperous and stable Africa calls for a new generation of African leaders capable of and committed to facing the vast challenges of the continent. These challenges include water scarcity, renewable energy, and climate change. The Pan African University (PAU) (https://PAU-AU.net), a key initiative of the African Union Commission, is dedicated to this mission. The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES) is hosted by the University of Tlemcen in Algeria. Since its establishment in 2014, over 200 students from 31 countries across Africa have enrolled, and 73 students have been successfully graduated from its programs. “PAUWES is a prototype of the Africa of tomorrow, for which we are laying the foundations,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, during his official visit to PAUWES on 11 March 2018. PAUWES benefits from the support of the Algerian government and the German Development Cooperation.
Today, PAUWES offers four distinct two-year Master programs. Students striving to be future engineers have the choice between the Master of Science (MSc) in Water Engineering and the MSc in Energy Engineering. Students interested in policy-making and governance can choose between the MSc in Water Policy and Energy Policy. The language of instruction is English, and students have the opportunity to study French at the onset of the program. PAUWES students come from all over Africa, which creates a unique possibility to study in a multicultural environment of highly motivated and engaged peers.
PAUWES strives to balance theory and practice through international internships, case studies, and field trips. To provide the students with specific technical skills in their field of interest, PAUWES offers electives (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energies, water and sanitation, integrated water resource management, policy analysis or leadership). Graduates benefit from career pathways in public administration, policy-making, research, private enterprise, consulting and civil society. Access to the Institute’s international expert network, research partnerships, career-promotion programs and forthcoming entrepreneurship centre further boosts graduates’ profiles.
Under the framework of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, PAUWES places a special emphasis on recruiting and empowering female students. The Institute facilitates women-focused networking events and workshops. To further develop its vision of diversity, PAUWES also encourages applicants with disabilities and candidates from under-represented regions (Southern Africa, Central Africa, Northern Africa) to apply. All PAUWES students receive full scholarships (covering tuition and living expenses) following a competitive admission process.
About Pan African University
Moammar Gadhafi’s son wants to be the next president of Libya
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Joe Tacopino*
The son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi reportedly wants to run for president of the country in elections later this year.
The candidacy of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi — who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity — was announced by the Libyan Popular Front party on Monday, according to London’s Telegraph newspaper.
Saif al-Islam, 45, is currently in hiding. The political party said they would address the country about his plans.
Human rights activist Khaled Guel told the pan-Arab newspaper al-Araby al-Jadeed that things are so bad in Libya that people want Gadhafi to take over.
“The humanitarian situation is deteriorating and the path forward is unclear,” said Guel.
“Therefore many Libyans now believe that the only way to save the country is through Saif al-Islam.”
Moammar Gadhafi was killed in 2011 after overseeing a bloody suppression of an uprising against him.
Saif al-Islam was held by a militia for six years and released last year and granted amnesty by a local government.
A court in Tripoli, however sentenced him to death, in absentia, in 2015 for crimes committed during the revolution.
He is accused of inciting violence and murdering protesters.
*New York Post
Roll up your sleeves and start thinking BIG – how to get ICT in Africa right
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Murray Steyn*
Whether one subscribes to the Africa Rising narrative (a term perhaps coined by this analysis of Africa’s prospects, published by The Economist in 2011)) or a more moderate outlook for the continent, the fact is that the ICT sector has the most to gain from Africa’s economic advancement, and the most to contribute to it too.
There isn’t a single industry – from mining to manufacturing, education to entrepreneurial endeavours of every flavour, from city construction to individual actualisation – that will not be advanced by reliable, affordable access to the Internet. I don’t think there’s another sector in the world that can make such a momentous promise.
The opportunity for ICT companies of all sizes – from neighbourhood ISPs to cross-national carriers – is significant, particularly for home-grown ICT operations that surely know our continent and its markets better than any imported from overseas. Increasingly, local ICT players are collaborating to offer competitively-priced and technologically-sound solutions that are outperforming those presented by international competitors.
Many of these would only be possible through wholesale product offerings by large network operators like Internet Solutions. This may appear to be a counter-intuitive business model but for those that invested in the infrastructure and licences on which new competitors grow their market share, there is a lot of opportunity to be had in reallocating network capacity.
Below are some of the trends we’re seeing in the wholesale ICT sector, specifically looking to Africa:
Local carriers are also entering partnerships with third-party service providers
The days of operators owning the entirety of their own networks – from first- to last-mile – are over. And that’s fine. As I’ve mentioned, where some licensees have adopted business models based on owning their infrastructure, other operators have opted to partner with existing network players to bring innovative services to the market faster.
What is interesting is that even at a very local level, where one could argue that infrastructure investment is fairly contained, ISPs are recognising the benefit of outsourcing network, data centre and other assets to experienced partners. By concentrating on what they do best, which is likely servicing their customers, even the smallest ISP has the means to build a thriving business.
Red tape and regulation still hampers cross-border operations
Africa is the continent with the most countries – 54 to be exact. It’s comprised of countless tribes, innumerable languages, political instability, infrastructure challenges and more than enough regulation to go around.
The fact is that African policy-making has not been able to keep up with the exponential growth of technology, devices and their applications. As such, regulation is reactive rather than supportive, and appears to handicap development rather than encourage it.
Perhaps the solution is that foreign companies – even African ones – get closer to policy-makers in their new markets to better mitigate the risks of changing policy. Perhaps more involvement, lobbying, and monetary and other investment from the get-go will lead to better mitigation of the risks associated with policy change.
Asian operators have their eyes on Africa too
China and India are two Asian markets that not only survived the global recession but thrived despite it.
Their respective population bases, and size of their economies, provide economies of scale that are driving the growth of their ICT sectors, while the number of science and engineering students in both countries looks to sustain this growth and innovation well into the future – and into foreign territories like Africa.
Perhaps it’s true that many African ISPs lack the financial and experiential muscle of Asian competitors, but how many of these can boast genuine pan-African development agendas, and partnerships with local companies to overcome infrastructure challenges?
As Ayanda Dlamini, Business Development Manager at LGR Telecommunications, said recently: “Africa has both the resources and the resourcefulness to develop a thriving ICT sector delivering solutions fit for purpose in Africa. The outlook is very healthy. All we need to do is take action and seize the opportunity.”
Beware of competing on cost
When it comes to Internet connectivity and access, cheapest is not necessarily best. Consumers want speed. In our experience, the arguments against unreliable connections are about as vociferous as those against high data costs.
The fact is that the speed vs. cost debate comes down to the market one is serving. A less sophisticated market has yet to learn that fast becomes cheap, whereas an experienced market of users with more high-end devices and applications comes to realise that if they can’t get data at the price they’d prefer to pay for it (i.e. free), then speed and bandwidth capacity is something they simply won’t compromise on.
My advice to ISPs entering new African territories – whether into a new country or a new neighbourhood – is to research your market thoroughly to understand who your consumers are and what they need. Then structure and price your offering accordingly.
Doing business in Africa is complicated, but it’s far from impossible. After all, Internet Solutions has been doing so for more than 20 years. We have invested in long distance and last-mile networks – the latter is especially challenging given that customers are geographically dispersed and often in underdeveloped locales.
Importantly, we have built and maintained relationships with trusted, in-country service providers. We understand exactly how consumers use data and can project future usage patterns as populations grow and disposable income increases.
What remains is the increasingly vital component of customer service, which we entrust to our wholesale clients
*Murray Steyn, Executive Head: Wholesale at Internet Solutions
In Africa, Trump’s firing of Tillerson a new sign of neglect
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
By RODNEY MUHUMUZA*
KAMPALA, Uganda – Ask some Africans what they think of President Donald Trump and they just shake their heads. That sense of indifference appears to have deepened after Trump fired his secretary of state at the end of Rex Tillerson’s first Africa tour last week.
Tillerson’s visit was widely seen as a Trump peace offering after the uproar over his reported vulgar remarks about African nations and his administration’s neglect of the world’s second most populous continent. The former secretary of state had been seen as a restraining influence on Trump and had clashed with the president over several foreign policy matters.
Now many Africans are tamping down their expectations of Trump even more. The U.S. president has rarely spoken about any priorities for a continent where many of its 50-plus nations have long relied on U.S. support for everything from health care to security.
Tillerson’s trip to Africa, including to the headquarters of the continent-wide African Union, had been widely seen as an effort to repair damage to relations. Now, with his firing, some in Africa feel they are starting anew with the Trump administration.
Tillerson’s departure is a sharp indication of Trump’s less-than-positive attitude toward the continent, some say.
“That, in my opinion, is adding insult to injury,” said Ted Alemayhu, an Ethiopian-born American who is running for Congress to represent California’s 39th District.
While in Africa, Tillerson tried to project a more positive image of the continent, saying its rapid economic growth and fast-growing populations mean its future is increasingly linked to America’s.
He visited some of Africa’s most prominent economies in Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia and highlighted U.S. security issues with stops in Chad and Djibouti, the site of the only permanent U.S. military base on the continent.
Tillerson also sought to reassure African nations that aid would continue even as the Trump administration pursues deep cuts in foreign assistance, announcing at the end of his visit $533 million in humanitarian aid for countries such as South Sudan and Nigeria.
Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, told The Associated Press that “we don’t see any change happening” in relations with the U.S. after Tillerson’s firing.
Unlike Trump, recent U.S. leaders engaged substantially with Africa.
Bill Clinton created a signature trade program known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and George W. Bush launched an HIV treatment program, PEPFAR, that has boosted the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of AIDS patients across Africa.
Barack Obama enjoyed goodwill throughout the continent, even though some in Africa felt he fell short of expectations as the son of Kenyan man.
Trump has not indicated any possible initiatives for Africa.
Trump “has no need, as he has discovered,” to engage with the continent, said Timothy Kalyegira, a prominent social critic in Uganda. “The feeling is that he is a free agent. If he wants to visit Africa, it’s fine. If he doesn’t want, it doesn’t matter.”
Trump has not named an assistant secretary of state to oversee the continent, nor an ambassador to key countries like South Africa. And Africa got a mere seven paragraphs on the very last pages of Trump’s National Security Strategy.
That lack of attention has left room for other countries such as China to step up their influence.
With its offers of concessional loans that help finance the ambitious infrastructure projects of some African governments, China’s footprint is widening. And African leaders like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni have said they would rather do business with a partner who does not lecture them about good governance and respecting human rights, giving China the thumbs-up.
In Djibouti, China’s development of its first overseas military base just a few miles from the U.S. base has illustrated the broader competition between the U.S. and China playing out across the continent.
Even as some argue that the Trump administration’s focus on Africa is notable in counterterror efforts if not in other issues, some Africans say they have given up on the U.S. president.
“Africans have nothing to take Trump seriously,” said Befekadu Hailu, a prominent Ethiopian blogger. “He already proved himself ethno-centrist and exclusivist, no friend to Africa.”
Buhari puts off ACFTA free trade deal signing
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
“This is to allow more time for input from Nigerian stakeholders”.
Nigeria has officially put off signing the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) following protests by major labour unions, which warned that the deal would harm the local economy.
The country’s foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement Sunday night that President Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled his trip to the Rwandan capital Kigali, where African heads of state were scheduled to ink the agreement this week.
“President Buhari has cancelled his trip to Kigali, Rwanda, to attend an Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union on Tuesday, March 21, to sign the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area,” according to the statement by Tope Elias-Fatile, the foreign ministry spokesman.
“This is to allow more time for input from Nigerian stakeholders,” it added.
The Nigerian federal cabinet last week approved the signing of the deal, which it said would boost the country’s export, “spur growth and boost job creation as well as eliminate barriers against Nigeria’s products and provide a Dispute Settlement Mechanism for stopping the hostile and discriminatory treatment directed against Nigerian natural and corporate business persons in other African countries.”
ACFTA, a brainchild of the African Union to deepen regional integration, had been in the works since January 2012 – with Nigeria as one of its major promoters. However, local labour unions and big corporations have always been against it.
Last week, Nigeria’s trade and investment minister Okechukwu Enelamah acknowledged the continuous opposition to the deal, but he added that efforts were afoot to get the buy-in of all the stakeholders before the signing.
Zimbabwe crowns first ‘Miss Albino’ in bid to tackle stigma
March 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
Sithembiso Mutukura beat 12 other contestants to claim the crown at Zimbabwe’s first-ever Miss Albinism beauty contest — an achievement she hopes will inspire others living with the rare disorder.
“We must continue to advocate for our rights and I hope my win will empower the girl child,” the 22-year-old social work student said.
“I have gone through a lot, but I want people living with albinism to be brave and persevere in life.”
During the event in Harare on Friday night, the contestants had to respond to questions on stage and model a range of gowns and traditional African robes. Mutukura was awarded $85 in prize money after being named the winner.
Pageant organizer Brenda Mudzimu said a lack of funds had made it difficult to get the initiative off the ground. In the end, the contest only attracted one sponsor, but Mudzimu says she hopes to one day make the event international.
“This will be an annual event which will later be advanced to Miss Albinism Africa and Miss Albinism World because we want to reach all corners of the world,” she said.
In many African countries, people with albinism routinely face discrimination and persecution because of the way they look. The genetic disorder prevents skin cells from producing melanin , resulting in abnormal pigmentation of the skin, hair, and eyes. People with the condition also suffer from vision problems and are susceptible to skin cancer.
“The pageant aims to instill confidence in girls living with albinism in Zimbabwe as well as reduce the stigma,” Mudzimu said.
Tapuwa Muchemwa, a Zimbabwean government representative who was the guest of honor at the pageant, said the country’s leaders “strongly advocate that people with albinism deserve their right to life and security and to be protected as well as the right not to be subjected to torture and ill-treatment.”
The rate of albinism in Africa is much higher than in other parts of the world. Communities in some countries believe albinism can bring magical powers, wealth and good fortune — a superstition that has led to attackers kidnapping and murdering albinos to sell their body parts to witch doctors on the black market.
According to the United Nations, there have been over 600 attacks on people with albinism documented in 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade. Many more cases are thought to go unreported.
UNAIDS Regional Director now President/CEO of ARDN
March 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Hassan Zaggi*
The Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Senior Adviser to the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Djibril Diallo, has been appointed as the President and Chief Executive Officer of African Renaissance and Diaspora Network, Inc. (ARDN). The appointment takes effect from March 25, 2018.
Dr. Diallo has held several management positions with the United Nations (UN) for more than three decades
ARDN is an internationally operating NGO headquartered in New York, with the status of a United States 501(c)(3) public charity.
ARDN’s mission, according to findings, is to accelerate the attainment of the African renaissance by advocating for and supporting UN programs, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Reacting to the appointment of Dr. Diallo, the UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, promised to continue to work closely with him to enable him succeed in his new task.
“We look forward to continued close collaboration between UNAIDS and ARDN with Djibril in the lead,” Michel Sidibé said in a message to all UNAIDS staff.
According findings by The AUTHORITY, Dr Diallo in his capacity as the chief executive officer of ARDN, will lead the organization’s “Pathway to Solutions” initiative, which aims to popularize the UN SDGs and to also increase public understanding of the role and functions of the UN.
On his part, Constance B. Newman, a Senior Fellow of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, disclosed that after over 9 months of extensive consultations, the “A Pathway to Solutions” strategic plan was presented to the UN Deputy-Secretary-General on 19 December 2017, at a coordination meeting held at the UN headquarters.
Newman further noted that: “Dr. Diallo’s expertise in international relations, diplomacy and human development will be critical at a time when the international community is pursuing, in tandem, the SDGs, the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), and the African Union Agenda 2063.
“We are confident that under his leadership, ARDN will be well-poised to contribute to the world we want – one defined by peace, justice, freedom, respect, social progress, equal rights and human dignity, tolerance, solidarity and sustainability – starting with Africa and the African diaspora.”
Speaking on his appointment, Dr. Diallo said that he was deeply humbled by the trust and confidence placed in him.
“I’m deeply humbled by the trust and confidence that has been placed in me. I’m excited to see what I can do in this new capacity to advance the United Nations’ hope and vision of a better world.
“When we talk about Africa and the diaspora, we’re ultimately talking about the entire world. ARDN is built on the fundamental principle that we are stronger together.
“Today, more than ever, it’s important that we remember and reflect on this. This planet earth is the only home we have, and we are one human family,” Dr Diallo further noted.
With over 35 years of experience at the UN, Dr. Diallo’s work for peace, sustainable development and protecting the most vulnerable has been recognized by numerous national and international organizations.
A steadfast supporter of youth, Dr. Diallo initiated the first-ever UN Youth Leadership Summit in 2006, bringing together youth leaders from 192 countries, with a vision toward gender parity in participation. He speaks twelve languages.
2026 World Cup: Morocco promise ‘compact’ tournament after presenting bid book
March 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
Morocco have promised a “compact” tournament if they are named the host nation for the 2026 World Cup.
The North African nation presented its bid book to Fifa on Friday and is the only rival to a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States.
All the host cities are within a 550km radius (342 miles) of Casablanca and a maximum 75 minutes flight time apart.
A ‘Legacy Modular Stadium’ concept also means that some of the stadia can be downscaled after the tournament.
The 2026 World Cup will be expanded to feature 48 nations, at least 60% of which will be located within three hours of Morocco’s time zone, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), making the bid more attractive to the European audience and sponsors.
This is Morocco’s fifth attempt to host the World Cup after making bids for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 finals. The host for the 2026 tournament will be decided in Russia on 13 June.
Mauritius President Gurib-Fakim to resign – lawyer
March 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
Africa’s only female head of state, Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, has resigned and will leave office on Friday, her lawyer says.
Ms Gurib-Fakim has been engulfed by an expenses scandal.
She denied any misconduct amid claims that she made large personal purchases on a charity bank card.
But on Saturday, just days after she rejected any idea of resigning, her lawyer Yusuf Mohamed told local media she would be stepping down.
The president has issued no statement.
When Ms Gurib-Fakim failed to do so, this led to fears of a constitutional crisis on the Indian Ocean island nation.
Local L’Express newspaper reported in February that the country’s first female president, a renowned scientist, had used a credit card given to her by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in London to buy jewellery and clothes abroad.
According to the paper, she was given the card for serving as the NGO’s unpaid director and it was to be used to pay for the promotion of a doctorate programme named after the president.
Ms Gurib-Fakim’s office said she “had an identical credit card from the same bank [and] inadvertently used the card from the PEI for expenses not linked to her mission”.
It added that $27,000 (£19,335) had been refunded and Ms Gurib-Fakim would defend herself with “legal action”.
In a statement to the BBC, PEI London said that Ms Gurib-Fakim had refunded the money to its Mauritian sister organisation.
The organisation said it had given her a credit card to cover travel expenses while promoting African science, technology and innovation.
Nigeria is sadly still closer to Fela’s anti-feminism than to Wakanda’s women
March 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
In Nigeria, Okoye would have been warned from childhood to soften her features so she can find a man to marry her.
BY WILFRED OKICHE*
Marvel’s Black Panther is a rare blockbuster to have achieved both box office domination and genuine cultural significance. One of the reasons for this is the film’s unlikely but welcomed focus on feminism. Set in the fictional Afrofuturistic nation of Wakanda, Black Panther boasts a dazzling array of fabulous female characters fully in possession of their power and unapologetic about wielding it.
In Lagos, Nigeria, where the film is a huge hit, many have been touting the badassery of the women of Wakanda. Okoye, the fierce army leader embodied by Danai Gurira is a particular favourite. So is scene-stealer Letitia Wright as Shuri, the princess who doesn’t let royalty stop her realising her full potential as the technological saviour of Wakanda.
This almost unanimous show of support for Black Panther’s forward-thinking depiction of women, however, does not erase the fact that much of Nigeria still holds onto archaic patriarchal ideologies. Wakanda’s gender parity is notable for just how far away it is from the sad reality.
In much of Nigeria, Okoye would have been warned from childhood to soften her features so she can find a man to marry her. Shuri would have been discouraged from spending too much time at the laboratory for the same reasons. And as for Nakia, everyone would ask: what kind of girl chooses a high-flying career over the chance to become queen?
Women who go against scripted societal norms are frowned upon, treated as outcasts, and erased from history. In 1929, for example, thousands of women in eastern Nigeria rallied together and confronted their British colonial rulers. The movement was on a scale the colonial state had never previously witnessed and led to significant changes. However, the heroic women who led the Aba Women’s Revolt – people such as Nwanyeruwa and Ikonnia – are largely left out of mainstream history books.
Fela and the women
Also left out of the narrative until recently have been the many women that formed a crucial part of Fela Kuti’s legendary career. The Afrobeat pioneer and political activist may be Nigeria’s most famous son. He has been immortalised in the Tony Award-winning Fela! The Musical and in the 2014 documentary Finding Fela. His legacy and music have been debated endlessly in conference rooms, music festivals and bars all over the world.
However, in all this, little interest has been devoted to Fela’s women – the merry band of singers, dancers, and supporters who thronged to his “Kalakuta Republic” sanctuary, who defied societal scorn and parental pressure, who loved him and inspired his sound.
There is no Fela without the women. They cannot just be heard on countless recordings joyously chanting “open and close”. They were an intrinsic and extricable part of the artistic legacy associated with Fela. Their striking fashion statements, creative use of beads, headgear, body art and Ankara prints remain indelible in today’s culture. Their graphic representations are rendered in music videos by pop stars from Wizkid to Niniola and in glossy magazine photo spreads.
But despite this rich legacy and gorgeous imagery, the stories and lives of Fela’s women have rarely been explored.
It is this imbalance that the splashy stage musical Fela and the Kalakuta Queens seeks to redress. Premiering in Lagos last December, the three-hour production follows Fela, the women that surrounded him, and the dynamics that influenced their relationship.
“I wondered why no one was talking about these women who were a significant part of Fela’s life and I wanted to know more about them,” director Bolanle Austen Peters remarked at one of the sold out showings.
The musical is commendable in shining a light on these female artists, pioneers and musicians. We learn some of the names of Fela’s “queens”, such as Funmilayo and Laide. However, in creating a crowd-pleasing fairy tale of female loyalty and companionship, the production, backed by Fela’s estate, fails to address the singer’s noted misogyny and violence towards women.
We gain little insight into why so many remained devoted to the cause, what made them tick, and what their own dreams and aspirations were. Most problematically, the play’s climactic scene – which depicts Fela’s highly controversial wedding to 27 women in a single ceremony – is played as an act of redemption set to the swirling instrumentation of Ololufe, a rare Fela love song.
Lady no be master
This form of female under-representation, even in a piece of art aiming to celebrate women, is not uncommon. This is the case around the world and certainly in Nigeria. Culture reflects society, which is in part shaped by politics and vested interests.
In Nigeria, for example, a gender equality bill which seeks to prohibit all forms of gender-based discrimination is waiting in the Senate. It has been stalled since 2016 due to opposition by religious and traditional groups. The Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development has a national strategy to end child marriage, but according to UNICEF, 12 out of Nigeria’s 36 states are yet to enact the child rights act adopted at the national level in 2003.
In Lagos, the city that was both home and hell for the singer, Fela’s music blares out of speakers at night clubs, at parties, and on the radio. One of the songs one hears frequently is the classic Lady in which Fela castigates African women for daring to fancy themselves equal to men. “She want sit down for table before anybody, she want a piece of meat before anybody”, he complains scathingly.
That song was released in 1972, but for all the progress Nigeria has made on gender equality over the past half a century, Lady could have been released last week. Wakanda’s gender relations in Black Panther seem so far off, they could be from a thousand years in the future. Less than 6% of Nigeria’s lawmakers are women, the lowest proportion in Africa. Women own just 20% of enterprises in the formal sector. A third of women have experienced physical abuse.
One hopes that the women of Wakanda can inspire Nigeria’s women and girls, along with their male allies, to see things differently and transform gender relations in the country. But for now, it is sadly apparent that a girl born in the North is more likely to be married off at childhood than lead an army like Okoye, devote her life to study like Shuri, or unabashedly pursue her own calling like Nakia.
Black Panther may provide an aspirational blueprint, but for now, Fela won’t be worried. Nigeria is still a long way off before “Lady na master”.
*Source African Arguments. Wilfred Okiche is a reader, writer, medic, culture critic and occasional ruffler of feathers. He works in a health centre in Lagos but manages to find the time to pursue other interests. His writing has appeared on various print and online platforms. He tweets from @drwill20.