Trump’s tone resonates in strongman-weary Africa
November 3, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Julian Hattem*
KAMPALA, Uganda — Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has had surprising resonance in parts of Africa where people are weary of the political establishment and see the real estate mogul as a global force for change.
Despite famously pushing an “America first” foreign policy and appearing to show little interest in events outside the U.S., the Republican nominee for president is enjoying a strong amount of popularity in Uganda and other African nations a week out from Election Day.
Trump is also up against Hillary Clinton, a woman known on the international stage for more than two decades, most recently as a globetrotting secretary of State, and whose family foundation has helped to save millions from malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases — including many Africans.
Yet for many in and around this capital city, scattered across hills in the jungle of East Africa, Trump’s candidacy represents a strike against political dynasties and the established order that has kept strongmen such as their own president in power for decades. Trump’s tough rhetoric and a fake viral quote have boosted his appeal to many looking for a change.
“Trump has presented himself as a candidate that is anti-establishment, that he wants to turn around things and cause a revolution of some sort,” said Moses Khisa, a lecturer of political science at Northwestern University and columnist for a Ugandan newspaper.
Trump, Khisa said, is tapping into “the same fertile ground of disillusionment and anti-establishment sentiment” on both sides of the Atlantic.
To be sure, support for Trump is not unanimous.
One poll conducted in South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two largest economies, showed a marked distaste for Trump. According to the WIN/Gallup International Association poll, released in October, respondents in those two countries overwhelmingly preferred Clinton, 69 percent to 20.
Due to a paucity of polling, it’s difficult to get a full understanding of feelings about the presidential race across the continent. It’s also dangerous to make sweeping generalizations about the political preferences of more than 1.2 billion Africans.
Worldwide, data suggest that Clinton is the overwhelming favorite. A Pew Research Center surveyof countries in Europe and Asia found strong support for Clinton and deep distrust of Trump.
But Trump has certainly struck a chord among a sizable number of Africans, who see him as a rejection of the current system who nonetheless speaks in a recognizable vocabulary.
Last week, five activists here descended on the U.S. embassy to demonstrate in support of Trump, waving misspelled signs and hoping to gather media attention. Two were arrested and later charged with failing to give proper notice about their plans.
“Among the candidates for the presidents of America, he’s the only man who says that once he becomes the president of America, he will fight the dictators — all African dictators including Museveni,” one of the activists, Kizza Hakim, told a local TV station, referring to Uganda’s 72-year-old President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni has been in power since 1986, after helping to topple dictator Idi Amin, and has shown an increasingly autocratic bent in recent years.
Hakim appeared to be referring to a fake Trump quote that has circulated around East Africa, in which he supposedly promised to not “condone any dictatorial tendencies exhibited by dictators around the world, especially the two old men from Zimbabwe and Uganda.”
“[Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe and Museveni must be put on notice that their days are numbered and that I am going to arrest them and lock them in prison,” Trump is falsely quoted as saying. “If the past American administrations have failed to stop these two despots, I will personally do it.”
A Trump campaign spokeswoman confirmed that the quote is false.
However, it was nonetheless briefly picked up by media around the continent earlier this year and forced a retort from Museveni. Trump “has got enough work to do in U.S.,” the Ugandan president said, noting rates of American gun violence.
Those who speak highly of Trump in Africa describe the GOP nominee as an outsider willing to speak truth to power.
“Above all, his willingness to disregard political correctness makes the supporters feel he’s saying exactly what they really feel about issues, but they’re afraid to say it in public. In a way, he represents their hopes, fears and frustrations,” Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi, a columnist in Ghana, wroteearlier this year.
“Isn’t he the kind of person we need desperately in Ghanaian politics right now?”
Clinton, meanwhile, is seen by some as part of the political establishment that has helped run the U.S. for the last two decades.
Despite being of Kenyan heritage, President Obama’s legacy in Africa is somewhat mixed, especially when compared to former President George W. Bush’s aggressive efforts to combat HIV/AIDS through the PEPFAR program. Clinton’s association with Obama’s administration hasn’t made her universally adored across Africa.
Trump also embodies many of the “big man” stereotypes that have permeated African cultures.
“For me, as an African, there’s just something familiar about Trump that makes me feel at home,” “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, a South African native, quipped last October.
“Trump is basically the perfect African president.”
Throughout the campaign, Trump has railed on issues of globalization, China’s rising status, political cronyism and depressed economic opportunities. Many of those sentiments hit home in African countries that feel at the mercy of foreign powers, just as they do in parts of Europe that have experienced their own nationalist movements.
“One of the things that perhaps is a little bit of a paradox is that African populations often feel that their countries are slightly exploited by the West, therefore they support leaders domestically that stand up to people,” said Nic Cheeseman, a professor of politics and African studies at the University of Oxford. “And I think they may be looking to see someone like Trump and think that Trump is also trying to do the same thing for his country.”
“When Trump says he’s going to put some of those forces back in the box — even though he’s not talking about Africa, he’s talking about America — I think some of the African audiences hearing that would see a connection to their own battle against globalization, against multinationals,” he added.
Expect Broader Engagement with Africa in Clinton Administration-Policy Experts
October 31, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
At a recent meeting organized by the Africa Coalition for Hillary at The Elliott School of International Studies at George Washington University in Washington, DC, Senior policy advisers indicated that as President, Hillary Clinton will build and expand on successes and programs initiated by the Obama Administration while seeking to expand areas of cooperation.
Amb. Michelle Gavin, former U.S. Ambassador to Botswana and Representative to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Former Special Assistant to President Obama and Former Senior Director for Africa at the NSC who advises HFA on African Affairs; Nicole Wilett–Jensen, former NSC Director for African Affairs and who advises HFA on African Affairs; Witney Schneidman, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Amb. Robin Sanders, CEO, FEEEDS, Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and Congo; Amb. Omar Arouna, Former Ambassador of Benin to the U.S., Co-Chair of the African Coalition for Hillary and Ms. Semhar Araia, a diaspora women White House Champion and CEO, Semai Consulting, engaged the audience of some 100 people in a spirited exchange on the stakes for Africa in the upcoming elections and why the African Diaspora must throw its weight behind Clinton.
“This event serves as a platform to inform and educate the diaspora on Sec. Clinton’s record on Africa, propose new policies and encourage Africans to get out the vote,” said Angelle Kwemo, a Cameroonian born policy advocate, CEO of Believe in Africa, and Co-Chair of Executive Women for Hillary (DMV) and founder of the African Coalition for Hillary.
“We live in a democracy – that obviously and unfortunately can produce candidates with divisive views-, and we need to play our part. At the end of the day, if Africans are not at the table, we will surely be on the menu,” Angelle Kwemo said in weighing the stakes for Africa.
Discussions were anchored around the results of a survey carried out by Believe in Africa, a diaspora organization Kwemo launched in 2014 to promote African solutions to African problems, on African priorities for the next U.S. Administration. The survey ranked democracy, trade and development, job creation, youth and women empowerment as the top areas Africans will love to see more engagement in.
Summing up some of the successes registered by the Obama Administration, Amb Michelle Gavin who planned the first White House African diaspora meeting, and Wilett–Jensen cited the Commerce Department Doing Business in Africa (DBIA), the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI),the African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) ,Feed the Future, Power Africa and other successful initiatives that the next administration could build on.
Participants agreed on the need for the next U.S Administration to work with African leaders in building structures that will facilitate orderly transfer of power through credible electoral processes which will see the emergence of leaders with a healthy dose of legitimacy. In doing so, the U.S must avoid a one-policy-fit -all solution , Ambassador Omar Arouna cautioned. Arouna opined that engagement of the U.S. with Africa on promoting peace and democracy could be more effective with a country specific approach that takes into consideration existing realities.
On combatting corruption, African countries will need to do their part by building strong institutions and strengthening the rule of law said Witney Schneidman. Amb Sanders indicated that Hillary’s campaign was aware of the need to include the African Diaspora and small and medium size to participate in future high profile forums like the US-Africa leaders’ Summit.
Steve Lande, from Manchester Trade went a step further by calling for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council on Africa to have African diaspora and SME initiatives. The Panel agreed that the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) regime started by Bill Clinton needs to be uplifted while individual African beneficiary countries need to define their own AGOA strategy to effectively take advantage of the program.
Lande noted that the AGOA policy should enable beneficiary countries to leverage their agricultural potentials and be able to export agricultural products in the U.S. market. AGOA at this point mainly supports the U.S, textile industry. Lande noted that a new initiative needs to be launched to accelerate African regional integration, currently undermined by European Union Economic Partnership Agreements. He also expounded on the role of manufacturing in the growth of African economy, urging the incoming administration of Secretary Clinton to enhance AGOA to include an investment fund that would extend capital investments to small and medium enterprises, a critical barrier to full realization of the good intentions embedded in the initiative.
Africans attending the meeting expressed their appreciation to the African Coalition For Hillary for offering a platform to facilitate dialogue with Africans. Agnes Nabasirye, a diaspora member from Uganda, recognized the role of the coalition in bringing Africans in the diaspora together, on African issues. She mentioned that there was an expressed interest among Africans present to proactively seek input from African minds and leaders to add the voice of the diaspora to formulating US policy on Africa .
In closing remarks, Angelle Kwemo invited the community to exercise their right and be responsible citizens. “We cannot stay on side line and expect the new administration to respond to our need”. “Hillary Clinton record shows that she is with Africa. We need to help her get elected, help her shape a new Africa policy and hold her accountable,” Kwemo said.
The African Coalition For Hillary (AC4H) is a coalition of leaders of African descent, policy experts, professionals, youth and civil society organizations supporting Hillary Clinton in her mission of becoming the first woman President of the United States. Initiated by Angelle Kwemo, it has as co-chairs Amb. Omar Arouna, Witney Schneidman, Dorinda White, Marilyn Sephocle, Steve Lande, Sarian Bouma and Philomena Desmond.
SECOND NDI DELEGATION TO ASSESS PRE-ELECTION ENVIRONMENT IN GHANA
October 18, 2016 | 0 Comments
ACCRA, Ghana – The National Democratic Institute (NDI) is fielding a delegation to assess preparations for Ghana’s December 7, 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections. The mission will build upon the findings of a joint pre-election assessment mission that NDI conducted with the International Republican Institute (IRI) in August.
The delegation includes regional and election experts from North America and Africa: Senator Ken Nnamani, Chairman of the Nigerian Electoral Reforms Committee and former President of the Nigerian Senate; Dr. Brigalia Bam, former Chair of the South African Independent Electoral Commission; Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, senior associate and regional director, NDI; and Richard L. Klein, senior advisor for elections, NDI.
This second mission will assess recent developments in the political environment in Ghana and follow up on the recommendations made by the joint NDI-IRI delegation in August. The delegation will meet with the Electoral Commission of Ghana, presidential candidates, political party leaders, civil society representatives and other key actors in the electoral process, and will present its findings at a press conference in Accra on Friday, October 21.
The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. Over the past 25 years, NDI has conducted more than 150 election observation missions in 62 countries. NDI has worked closely with Ghanaian civic and political organizations since 1992 to support the development of the country’s democratic institutions and promote transparency and integrity of the electoral process through advanced techniques in election monitoring.
Ghana Police Meet With Stakeholders to Ensure Peaceful Election
October 18, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Peter Clottey*
Ghanaian police officials plan to meet with leaders of the Muslim community this week as part of an effort to ensure peaceful presidential, legislative and local elections scheduled for Dec. 7, according to Cephas Arthur, spokesman for the police.
Arthur also said police representatives would meet with other stakeholders before the upcoming polls.
Arthur said the police have also launched a nationwide education campaign using mass and social media platforms to engage the public regarding the need to ensure a peaceful general election.
“We see all these groupings are veritable stakeholders to these elections and that if we are able to bring all of them on board to jaw-jaw to find amicable solutions to all concerns that we have as far as this election is concerned,” Arthur said, “then we are sure that we will be watching the election through the same spectacle. And that we shall surely succeed in having a peaceful election come December 7, [and] that is why we are taking all these steps.’
“In addition,” Arthur added, the police are preparing as an institution, “where we are set as far as our logistics and equipment and everything is concerned.”
Arthur said the police have a two-prong strategy.
“One is being headed by the community policing unit of the police service, which is touring communities across the country, meeting with people at their homes, marketplaces, churches, mosques, … and explaining police operations, police activities to them as far as election is concerned and also seeking their concerns so that we integrate it or consider it in our plans,” he said.
“The second approach is by the national election security task force, the media and communication subcommittee, which has also embarked upon public events, outreach programs whereby we meet with the people … and we are doing this with the help of the Police Band. … We go out to open public places and they play, and when they play we draw a lot of people and then we speak to them. We [urge] them to ask questions,” Arthur said.
The police have withdrawn the officers assigned to protect 12 presidential candidates who will not be participating in the upcoming elections. The electoral commission disqualified the candidates for failing to meet requirements stipulated by the electoral body.
The electoral body says the presidential candidates who are qualified to participate in the elections include: incumbent President John Dramani Mahama; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo from the New Patriotic Party (NPP); Ivor Kobina Greenstreet of the Convention People’s Party (CPP); and Jacob Osei Yeboah, an independent candidate.
Supporters of the disqualified presidential candidates have criticized the police for withdrawing the officers, saying it was premature. They contend that because some of the parties are challenging the disqualification in court, the police administration should have waited for a court decision.
Arthur disagreed: “The police had meetings with the political parties and it was agreed that although they hadn’t been accepted or otherwise by the electoral commission, once their political parties had selected them, they were going to start their campaign, so they needed some protection and the police agreed to assign them those security details to take care of their security. …It was agreed that if the electoral commission disqualified anybody, the police were going to withdraw such security detail, because then the danger for which the person was going to be granted the security detail ceases to exist and it was understood.”
$32 billion trans-African highway network proposed
October 12, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union (AU) and the
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) are working
together to plan the development of a trans-African highway network,
according to information revealed by the Corporate Council on Africa
According to CCA’s projects in the pipeline initiative, although the
corridors largely remain unconnected to one another, planners estimate
that about 7,000 km of added roadways and 10,000 km of added railways
will be needed to complete the highway network at a total cost of
roughly $32 billion.
The project is to be showcased at the Corporate Council on Africa’s 2016 U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Conference on Building Blue Economies in October 16 to 18, 2016 in New Orleans, Los Angeles.
Reporting Africa conference to explore how African media portrays continent
October 12, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The African Media Initiative (AMI) will on 10 to 11 November 2016 host the Reporting Africa conference 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya in a bid to explore how African media covers the continent beyond national borders.
According to Eric Chinje, AMI CEO, the conference will also explore how international media portrays the continent.
The conference will also focus on findings of a research that AMI has carried out on coverage of issues affecting the African continent.
Chinje said that his organisation has made plans for the forthcoming discussion to be graced by some of the top editors from all the 54 African countries.
This is also expected to facilitate wide ranging debate and deliberations on issues related to media coverage of the continent.
This is also expected to chart a new way forward for media organisations in Africa to play a more positive role in the continent’s development agenda.
GHANA DISQUALIFIES EX-FIRST LADY, 12 OTHERS FROM RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
Ghana’s electoral commission has disqualified 13 candidates, including a former first lady, from running in the West African country’s presidential elections in December.
Candidates were disqualified for multiple reasons, including suspected forged signatures and incomplete or incorrect submission forms, the country’s electoral commission said on Monday. The exclusions mean that just four candidates—including incumbent President John Mahama and main opposition party leader Nana Akufo-Addo—in the running for the presidency.
The disqualified candidates include Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the wife of Jerry John Rawlings, who twice took control of Ghana in military coups and served as a democratically-elected president between 1993 and 2001. Also barred was Papa Kwesi Nduom, a popular Ghanaian businessman who has twice contested presidential elections in the country.
Several candidates have vowed to contest their disqualification. Agyewman-Rawlings’s National Democratic Party said it was “disgusted” at the commission’s decision and called on Ghanaians to “rise up to stop our nation from falling into governance roguery and repression.” Nduom also indicated in a tweet that he would not give up his candidacy
Africa: Will Rwanda Support for Kenya’s AU Chair Nominee Tip the Scales?
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Allan Olingo*
Rwanda is supporting Kenya’s nominee for the African Union Commission chair – Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed – but it remains to be seen which way Tanzania and Uganda will lean.
Ms Mohamed was proposed for the job by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who cited her credentials in diplomacy and exemplary performance in her current docket.
She has been Kenya’s ambassador/permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, and served as the assistant secretary general and deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi.
Ms Mohamed, who will be standing against candidates from the other regional blocs, stands a better chance of election if she gets support from all EAC member states.
Elections to replace Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is stepping down after one term to prepare for a stab at the South African presidency, will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January.
On Friday, a committee to vet candidates met in Addis Ababa.
Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo told The EastAfrican that her country would support Ms Mohamed, ruling out speculation that they would front the former president of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka or former EAC secretary general Richard Sezibera.
“She is the best woman for the job, and she is very much Rwanda’s candidate. She is highly qualified, has incredible diplomatic and managerial experience, and the right heart and mind when it comes to the strategic interests of our continent, as well as Africa’s active presence on the global scene,” Ms Mushikiwabo said.
Uganda’s International Relations State Ministry Permanent Secretary James Mugume said the country was yet to decide on whom to support, but would back the candidate the region agreed on between Kenya’s Ms Mohamed and Somalia’s Fowyiso Yusuf Haji Adan.
The nomination process for the chairperson was opened afresh after the AU Heads of State Summit in Kigali in July failed to elect a successor to South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who has been at the helm since 2012. At the Kigali summit, none of the three contenders for the position – Botswana’s Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, her counterpart from Equatorial Guinea Agapito Mba Mokuy and former vice president of Uganda Specioza Wandira Kazibwe – obtained the required two-thirds majority after seven rounds of voting.
Ms Mohamed is expected to battle it out with Mr Mokuy, Somalia’s Ms Adan and the July elections lead candidate Ms Moitoi. Uganda withdrew its nomination of former vice president Specioza Kazibwe after she did not make it among the top candidates.
The SADC trade bloc, has, however, maintained that it will forward Ms Moitoi’s name because Ms Zuma did not serve her second term. Mr Mokuy had portrayed himself as the Economic Community Of West African States (Ecowas) candidate, yet it was Senegal that instigated the 28 states to boycott the elections due to lack of “high calibre” candidates.
Mr Mokuy had sought the support of Nigeria, the West African economic powerhouse, and Kenya, with a special appeal from President Theodore Obiang Nguema.
Another likely candidate is Senegalese diplomat and politician Abdoulaye Bathily, who is currently the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Central Africa.
Chad’s President Idriss Deby, who currently holds the AU rotational leadership, is also believed to have put forth the name of his Foreign Minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who served as prime minister between 2003 and 2005, and who would present a second candidate for the Central African bloc.
South Africa is said to have great influence on the SADC countries. This week, South African President Jacob Zuma will be in Nairobi for a three-day state visit, and it is expected that President Kenyatta will use the opportunity to drum up support for Ms Mohamed.
In the July elections, South Africa supported Ms Moitoi. Then South Africa’s international relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the region would campaign with Botswana, and that South Africa was fully behind the SADC initiative. They have not come up with an alternative candidate.
Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal, which led the Ecowas campaign to postpone the election, have also been pushing for a candidate.
In May, Senegal’s President Macky Sall raised concerns about the candidates with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Senegalese diplomat and politician Abdoulaye Bathily who is currently the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Central Africa was presented as a candidate at the Kigali meeting, but was turned down because the nominations had closed.
In Mr Bathily, in particular, Ms Mohammed is likely to face a veteran of African politics with working experience in West and Central Africa, one whose participation in the Pan African Movement and socialist movements left him with contacts across the continent, including liberation movements in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola and South Africa.Additional reporting by Daniel Kalinaki and Edmund Kagire.
Africa Makes Progress On Trade and Economic Integration
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Peter Kenny*
Geneva — African countries are boosting intra-regional trade and deepening economic integration at a time when politicians in the global North are raising doubts about the benefits of trade, says the head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi told the World Trade Organization’s annual public forum in Geneva: “Africa is widely noted for its low levels of intra-regional trade, but in fact the levels are much higher when North Africa is removed from the analysis.”
Speaking at a session on inclusive trade at the recent forum, he said economic integration will be key to Africa’s long-term success and African nations must integrate more.
“Africa has to know that there is no part of the world which has been successful in trading globally without learning first to trade with its neighbors,” Dr. Kituyi said.
UNCTAD says that in East Africa, intra-regional trade is closer to 26 percent, the same level as in Latin America.
At the opening of the forum, Nigeria’s Trade and Investment Minister, Okechukwu E. Enelamah, presented remarks for President Muhammadu Buhari which underlined the importance of an inclusive trade agenda.
“This is a key question, particularly at this moment, when leaders are grappling with the challenge and consequences of inequality which has emerged as a major risk to peace and security,” Enelamah said.
“Nigeria believes that a meaningful approach to inclusive trade will combine action by multilateral institutions for updated and more flexible rules, on the one hand, with acceptance of responsibility for serious and sustained domestic policy reforms by member states, on the other hand.”
The minister highlighted efforts the Nigerian government has made to create an enabling environment for business, including the recent ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
The TFA will significantly reduce trade costs for businesses in developing countries, particularly for SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and is also expected to help unblock logjams in intraregional trading.
Enelamah said Nigeria has also established itself as an African start-up center for high-tech firms and the WTO can be supportive on this point by developing an “unfettered” platform for the internet economy.
Meanwhile, preparations continue for the Continental Free Trade Area, bringing together more than one billion people in 54 African countries with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion.
Kituyi said the CFTA was unlikely to be launched in 2017 as originally planned, but the target had helped to move the project forward.
“I had the privilege to visit 16 African presidents to talk to them about the CFTA and I am satisfied that a large number of the political leadership believes in the future and the need for African integration.”
Change is already happening. In the space of a year, the time required to move a container from Mombasa in Kenya to Kampala in Uganda has dropped from 48 days to four. “That is progress.”
Africa’s largest economic sector, its extractive industries, has not created enough jobs on the continent. More intra-African trade will lead to fairer, more equitable, growth, and the creation of more and better jobs.
Dr. Kituyi said there are limits to regional integration, however. He noted Switzerland has prospered without joining the European Union.
And although a single African currency is politically attractive, it cannot be effective without an effective mechanism to discipline public deficits.
Despite the reservations of some politicians, trade is a powerful driver of jobs, economic growth, and achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“Trade is not just about statistics on goods and services. It is also about people,” Kituyi said. “And for me, trade integration is most exciting whenever it creates more jobs.”
At the forum the WTO launched a new publication entitled “African Perspectives on Trade and the WTO.”
The book – co-published by the WTO and Cambridge University Press – examines how enhanced participation in world trade could help Africa achieve further growth and emphasizes the need for the continent to undertake structural reforms to underpin its economic transformation.
Africa: U.S. Elections 2016: the View from Africa
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Chelsea Markowitz*
An unusually controversial election
This year, an elevated level of press has surrounded the upcoming US general elections on 8 November, primarily because of the erratic and often offensive statements made by businessman and Republican nominee Donald Trump.
This past week, a tape from 2005 surfaced revealing Trump speaking vulgarly about women, and it has now even begun to alienate his own party support. For Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton, the revelations over her private email server while she was still Secretary of State, and the allegations that certain countries received high-level access to her by making donations to the Clinton Foundation, have also added to the media hype.
This year’s elections have come down to the wire, with polls showing both candidates neck and neck, making ‘swing states’, which historically have switched between voting Democrat and Republican, crucially important. This year, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are crucial swing states, both because of their high number of electoral votes and undecided populations.
The debates provide the first head-to-head comparison of the two candidates’ policies, whereas much of the electoral campaign thus far has focused on ethics and personal attacks. Hot topics for this year’s debates include: fighting terrorism, immigration reform, police violence, and economic policy (taxes, free trade agreements and employment creation).
First Debates: Implications for Africa
Monday 26 September marked the first presidential debate, and Sunday 3 October the second. In the first presidential debate, the broad consensus was that Hilary Clinton fared better. She exuded a sense of ease and preparation, while Trump appeared to be flustered by her personal attacks, which put him on the defensive rather than his usual confident offensive.
In second presidential debate, the outcome was decidedly opposite. Trump excelled with calmly executed one-liner attacks, but pundits still questioned whether he did enough to sway needed independent voters.
Winners and losers aside, the policy implications of the presidential debate in particular are important to note. Though neither Trump nor Clinton mentioned any African countries, a few key policy implications can be extrapolated from their discussions and the positions they have taken on the campaign trail.
Free Trade Agreements: Not really keen on ‘free’ or ‘a call for modern day protectionism’
When the candidates were asked how they propose to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, the debate quickly spiralled into a clash on free trade agreements. Trump echoed his frequent condemnation of jobs leaving America for countries like China and Mexico, which he blamed on agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Clinton voted in favour of.
Negotiations for a SACU-US free trade agreement under a Trump presidency, which must start soon given that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is set to expire in 2025, will be even more difficult than usual, if they even start at all.
This is significant, as trade with the US was USD$12.7 billion in 2015. AGOA has created approximately 60,000 jobs for South Africans in labour-intensive industries such as agriculture and automotives. Failing to negotiate a new trade agreement post-AGOA will almost certainly reduce South Africa’s exports to the US, which totalled USD$896 million in 2016 (YTD June). Additionally, for fellow SACU member Lesotho, AGOA has provided a sizeable boost to the garment and textile industry, providing exports worth USD$300 million in 2015. This number is significant for such a small country, and approximately 3% of the labour force is engaged in the manufacture of textiles and garments exported to the US under AGOA.
Clinton, despite also stressing the need to keep and create manufacturing jobs, reiterated her position of much more openness to free trade agreements during the debate. She stated she is generally supportive of such agreements if they do not negatively impact employment, income or national security, and commended their ability to increase exports. It is unlikely that a free trade agreement with SACU will significantly impact these three factors, as the region only constitutes a minimal percentage of US trade. In 2013, SACU exports to the US totalled USD$9.4 billion, or 0.34% of total US goods imports. Thus the prospects for a favourable agreement would be much more likely under a Clinton presidency.
Foreign Aid: a tool of diplomacy or unnecessary burden?
Trump’s espoused isolationism also begs the question as to whether America’s profile of aid to the African continent will change if he becomes President. Trump stated during the debate: ‘we cannot be the policeman of the world, we cannot protect countries all over the world, where they’re not paying us what we need.’ He was referring specifically to his disenchantment with NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), and other NATO members’ inadequate defence budgets, which should be 2% of GDP.
Would this nationalist sentiment extend to shrinking American bilateral aid to the African continent as well? The US contributed USD$31.08 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2015, almost double that of the UK, the second largest contributor. US aid to Africa is currently projected to be USD$7.1 billion for fiscal year 2017. And such actions would not only impact bilateral aid, but the capacity of prominent multilateral donors such as the World Bank and United Nations, to which the US is a large contributor.
However, these are of course only speculations, and given that ODA is only 0.17% of US gross national income, reducing aid may not be priority for Trump. At the same time, many of Trump’s statements throughout the campaign seem to shooting from the hip rather than based on logic. One can only speculate as to how far Trump’s isolationist sentiments could extend in actual practice.
If Clinton becomes president, one can be more confident that aid flows will remain relatively stable. Contrary to Trump, Clinton has constantly reaffirmed the importance of American allies and NATO, in line with the importance she places on the US’s partnerships with the rest of the world. Historically, US aid has always played a role in the country’s foreign policy engagement, and as Secretary of State in 2010, Clinton launched the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), a blueprint to improve US aid and diplomacy.
Given Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State and the precarious global security context, however, a Clinton presidency would more likely see aid linked closely to American security concerns. Yet perhaps also issues such as women’s rights, which Clinton has championed vehemently domestically as first lady and Secretary of State, could have an increased presence in the American aid profile.
Ghana Wants To Remove Statue Of Gandhi Over Racism Controversy
October 9, 2016 | 0 Comments
By MERRIT KENNEDY*
After professors at the University of Ghana demanded the removal of a statue of Mohandas Gandhi over what their petition called his “racist identity,” Ghana’sMinistry of Foreign Affairs says it wants to “relocate” the statue — to protect it.
The iconic Indian civil rights leader has inspired peaceful protest movements worldwide, including in many African countries.
But in the petition, the University of Ghana professors point to comments Gandhi made early in his career. “How will the historian teach and explain that Gandhi was uncharitable in his attitude towards the Black race and see that we’re glorifying him by erecting a statue on our campus?” the petition reads.
The statue was unveiled in June by Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee during a state visit to Ghana, and professors began rallying against it in September.
In a statement, Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was following the controversy with “deep concern,” and added: “While acknowledging that human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve. He inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.”
The ministry stressed that the “unfortunate verbal attack” against Gandhi could potentially “create disaffection not only at the level of Government relations, but also between people not only in our country but all over the world.” Therefore, the ministry said it wants to move the statue to “ensure its safety and to avoid the controversy … being a distraction of our strong ties of friendship that has existed over the years.”
Gandhi “has long been a more controversial figure, both in his homeland and elsewhere, than many admirers around the world are aware,” as The Guardian writes.
The professors’ petition highlights specific comments or writings by Gandhi. For example, this passage, found in Volume 1 of his 100-volume collected works:
“A general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than the savages or the Natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.”
“Kaffir” is a slur against black people, particularly in South Africa. Reuters reports that Jad Adams, the author of the book Gandhi: the True Man Behind Modern India, says Gandhi “later seems to have changed his views, saying stereotypes of Africans as ‘barbarians’ are wrong.”
The Africa-America Institute Appoints Kofi Appenteng its New Chief Executive Officer
October 4, 2016 | 0 Comments
Following an extensive search, the Board of Trustees of the Africa-America Institute nominated Mr. Kofi Appenteng as Chief Executive Officer of the Africa-America Institute.
The vote was unanimous and Mr. Appenteng accepted the position.
“The depth and breadth of Kofi’s experience and expertise are exactly what AAI needs as it continues to be at the forefront of US-Africa engagement. AAI’s longstanding mission to provide education and training opportunities for the next and future generations of African leadership will flourish under Kofi’s direction,” said AAI Trustee and Interim Board Chair, Steven Pfeiffer.
“As the United States confronts global challenges that cannot be addressed without strong African partners, and as Africa works to harness the extraordinary potential of its youthful demographics, AAI’s mission of bridge building through expanding educational and training partnerships and opportunities is more relevant than ever. Kofi’s wisdom, his vast networks and experience, combine with the dynamism of his approach to make him the right person for this moment”
–Ambassador Michelle Gavin, Managing Director of the Africa Center
“It has been my privilege to know Kofi well and to have served on several boards with him over the last 20 years. He is one of the most thoughtful and strategic individuals with whom I have worked. AAI is an important institution linking the US and Africa and is fortunate to have someone of Kofi’s caliber to take over its leadership at this important moment. I am very confident that AAI will thrive with Kofi at the helm in the years ahead.”
–Vincent Mai, CEO Cranemere, Inc.
“AAI is a treasured organization that has long been a leader in US-Africa affairs. The talent and wisdom that Kofi brings to its rich heritage will have extraordinary impact benefiting Africans, Americans and those around the world committed to an ever brighter future for Africa,”
– Ambassador Patrick Gaspard, US Ambassador to South Africa
“I am thrilled to learn that Mr. Kofi Appenteng will be taking on the role of President of the Africa-American Institute. I strongly believe that given Mr. Appenteng’s African roots, and his wealth of experiences in the global private and nonprofit and foundation sectors, he is poised to take the organization to greater heights. I am confident that he will not only build on AAI’s long legacy of investing in education, youth development and dialogue, but will also deep and expand its impact, to ensure long-term sustainability development on the African Continent.”
– Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, Founder, LEAP Africa
“Kofi’s lifelong commitment to African affairs and to US-Africa relations make him an outstanding choice to lead the Africa-America Institute at this critical time. My deep admiration for Kofi’s intellect and for his selfless, humane and thoughtful approach to whatever he undertakes are further buoyed by my respect for the insights and capacity for hard work he has brought to so many important assignments in his career, and for his capacity to rally others to engage causes in which he strongly believes. He is ideally suited to address the challenges ahead.”
–Colin Campbell, President Emeritus of Wesleyan University