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Nigeria’s Buhari to run for re-election next year
April 9, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Stephanie FINDLAY*

 PRESIDENT BUHARI ANNOUNCES HIS 2019 RE-ELECTION BID AT APC HEADQUARTERS, ABUJA APRIL 9 2018

PRESIDENT BUHARI ANNOUNCES HIS 2019 RE-ELECTION BID AT APC HEADQUARTERS, ABUJA APRIL 9 2018

Abuja (AFP) – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared Monday he would seek re-election next year, in a move that put an end to months of speculation amid concerns over his health.

The 75-year-old former general and one-time military head of state made the announcement in the national capital Abuja following a meeting with the national executive of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party.

Buhari, nicknamed “Baba Go Slow” for his lethargic pace in office, will have to convince his divided party he is fit to run after spending months in London last year seeking medical treatment for an undisclosed illness.

If nominated, he faces the Herculean task of convincing Nigerians he is the best candidate to steer the country out of its worst recession in 25 years after implementing a series of unorthodox policies blamed for worsening the economic crisis.

“President @Buhari has just announced his intention to seek the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and contest for a second term of Office in the 2019 elections,” the presidency said on Twitter.

“Victory is sure by the grace of God and together we must continue to sanitise Nigeria’s political environment,” said Buhari in a statement.

Buhari was voted into power in 2015 on a platform vowing to crack down on endemic graft and stamp out the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency ravaging the country’s northeast.

His disciplinarian reputation enamoured him to voters fed up with politicians living the high life while roads crumbled and electricity sputtered.

The shine came off Buhari’s leadership after his so-called war on corruption lost momentum, with many high-profile cases halted by endless adjournments.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram still stages deadly attacks on military and civilian targets despite Buhari’s insistence that the group is “technically” defeated.

In February, the Islamists embarrassed the government by driving unopposed into the northeastern town of Dapchi and kidnapping over 100 schoolgirls.

But arguably Buhari’s biggest battle will be to prove that he can shepherd Nigeria to strong growth after a crash in oil prices caused the economy to collapse.

– ‘Genuine discontent’ –

“It will not be as easy as it was in 2015,” said political analyst Chris Ngwodo about Buhari’s re-election bid.

“It will not be automatic, other people also want to run for the election and there is genuine discontent in the party.”

In March, Buhari made his first official visit to Lagos, the country’s teeming economic hub, to court Bola Tinubu, a political grandee who played a pivotal role in securing the key region for the APC.

It’s no surprise that Buhari was there, explained Cheta Nwanze, from SBM Intelligence, a Lagos-based advisory firm.

“His main challenge will be to build a solid bloc within an APC,” Nwanze said, adding “the big election issue will be the economy.”

Buhari has been criticised for aggravating the recession by introducing a currency peg that spooked investors and depleted foreign reserves.

He will also have to answer to growing concerns about the escalating conflict between pastoralists and farmers that is claiming hundreds of lives in clashes across the country and stoking ethnic division.

“It’s not just Boko Haram but the pastoral conflict,” said Nwanze.

– ‘Not a thief’ –

Lagos residents had mixed feelings about Buhari’s re-election bid.

“Buhari should not come back because of his failing health,” said Alfred Nyitse, an unemployed 30-year-old. “The man is too old for the job.”

Godspower Ekwueme, a 61-year-old retired civil servant, agreed.

“I don’t want the president to run again,” said Ekwueme. “He was away in London for most of last year receiving treatment abroad. I have not seen any improvement.”

Others were more enthusiastic.

“We want him to come back so that he can finish the good work he has started,” said Remilekun Adeyemi, a trader.

“I like Baba very well,” said Abdullahi Ali, a motor-cycle taxi driver. “My people will vote for him again because he is not a thief.”

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Help Liberia to succeed – Weah to Ghana
April 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Weah and Akufo Addo

Weah and Akufo Addo

Liberian President George Weah has appealed to President Akufo-Addo and Ghanaians to help Liberia to progress and succeed.

“I am young, I agree, but you are my big brother, and I know that you will help Liberia to succeed,” he appealed.

The Liberian President said this known when he paid a courtesy call on President Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House, as part of a two-day visit to Ghana, Friday.

The purpose of the visit he said is to “renew the bonds of friendship and solidarity that there are between the Liberian and Ghanaian people.”

“Liberia came a long way, and without Ghana, we will not be standing here today. Ghana hosted us, today we can never repay, we just have to make sure that our people continue to relate cordially, and I can assure that the relationship that has existed between our governments will also be mutually beneficial,” he said.

Expressing his appreciation for the role President Akufo-Addo has played in strengthening the African Union, he noted that “when we travel to AU meetings, like we did the last time in Addis Ababa, you realize that when a big brother speaks, you look and listen to him, and you know what is to be done.”

President Weah pledged to work towards strengthening the existing relationship between Ghana and Liberia.

“Ghana is my home, and we are here not to just come sight-seeing but to reassure you that the relationship we have will be sustained and strengthened,” he said.

On his part, President Akufo-Addo referenced the longstanding, personal relationship between himself and President Weah, which predates their current respective presidencies, and described the Liberian leader “as a symbol of the progress that Liberia is making after the trauma of the civil war.”

“I have known him for some time because we share many characteristics, one of which has been persistent efforts to arrive at where we are today. I believe it was a set time as it was mine.

“One of the things that I have discovered about him is his honesty and also his commitment to the welfare of his people. That is what has brought him this far,” he said.

Commending the efforts of former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, he said, “the first female elected leader on our continent did a great deal of work in trying to consolidate the peace, after the years of the traumatic civil war.

“And one of the most important outcomes of that process of consolidation is that she was able to organise elections which allowed for the first time, I believe, in over 17 years, a peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected leader of Liberia to another.”

“That is the measure of her achievement, and it is also a measure of how far Liberia has come to put its past behind it, and, in doing so, she chose as her successor a man who is already world famous in his other life as a sportsman, and who has now become a symbol of the hopes of the majority of the people of Liberia, especially of its youth,” he stated.

President Akufo-Addo also touched on the happenings in the Region and asked for a realist view of the imminent threats and opportunities confronting the Region.

“The world is going through some difficult moments, all kinds of new arrangements are appearing, and we, here in the West African region, must continue to deepen the contacts, the links, the friendships between us in West Africa.

He said by doing this the challenges of the 21st century, rapid economic growth, inclusive economic growth that makes it possible for all our people to be part of the process of development so that we can successfully meet those challenges within the context of democratic values and democratic institutions.

So it is a particularly happy day for us in Ghana, and for me personally to be able to welcome to our country this famous man who, even before he became a president, was a household word in Africa,” President Akufo-Addo concluded.

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Akufo-Addo’s address on US deal “hard” – Rawlings
April 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Akufo Addo with Rawlings

Akufo Addo with Rawlings

Ghana’s former President, Jerrry John Rawlings has expressed his reservations over the choice of words used by President Akufo-Addo in his address to the nation on the Ghana – US defense cooperation agreement.

President Akufo-Addo has come under heavy public backlash for describing those against the deal as naysayers, cynics and hypocrites.

“And how else would we have exposed the unspeakable hypocrisy of the fraternity of some frontline politicians, who make a habit of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, who secretly wallow in the largesse of the United States of America, whilst, at the same time, promote anti-American sentiments to a populist constituency?” the President wondered in his national broadcast on the controversial deal which has been criticized by the opposition NDC and his predecessor John Mahama.

Mr. Rawlings has also joined critics of the address, rating President Akufo-Addo’s language as “hard”.

“Though the President’s address was hard, it was important and timely to hear him and the American Ambassador (earlier) affirm that there would be no military base established in Ghana,” Jerry Rawlings tweeted.

The former president added: “That was my major concern in my initial reaction to news of the agreement. The spirit of cooperation, be it military or diplomatic has always been there.”

However, the former military leader believes dialogue can help calm all parties.

“If there are details of the agreement that warrant a second look, such details should be examined to create comfort for all sides.”

Hundreds of Ghanaians took to the streets last week to register their protest against the deal which gives US military and their civilian contractors unimpeded access to certain key installations in Ghana with tax waivers.

The leadership of the Ghana First demonstration has served notice they will stage countrywide protests since the president’s address failed to convince them.

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Claudio Oben On Defying The 6TH
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Destiny Kwenchia

Claudio Oben

With the world premiere set for the USA on April 8th, Actor and Producer Claudio Oben discusses Defying the 6th, his latest production. I have grown and gotten better from when I started 8 years ago, thus by default making DT6 my most experienced work yet, says the hard working actor who also stars in Defying the 6th.

Your latest film defying the 6th hits is set to premiere in the days ahead, what is the movie about?

The movie is about the causes of suicides, struggles and trauma that people deal with that eventually if not strong enough drive people to commit suicide.

What message do you seek to convey in that film?

For this film, I seek to start a conversation with people in dark places in their lives or with people who know someone in a dark place that we hear them, we can share their pain and ending one’s life if not the only way out.

Where was the movie shot and could you introduce the cast for us?

The movie was shot 90% in Cameroon and 10% in the United  States. Main Cast: Claudio Oben (Myself), Berlinda Nahbila, Malvis Ann, Lucie Memba and Libota MacDonald.

Where would you rank Defying the 6th in terms of other movies you have produced and starred in?

To me, it’s really not a matter of ranking but more of growth and like anything we do in life, the more you do it, better you get at it. So, as a filmmaker, I believe I have grown and gotten better from when I started 8 years ago, thus by default making DT6 my most experienced work yet

What were some of the challenges faced in the production of the movie?

Besides the regular challenges you face when dealing with schedules of a hand full of people, it was more so filming in Cameroon, something I had not done in my career yet. I had to learn and understand the way it is done there and at the same time implement my findings on set on the fly, so it was a huge experience that made me learn a lot.

You have been one of the key actors trying to promote the put Cameroon film industry, how is it

doing and what else needs to be done to get it better?

The Cameroon Industry, just like every industry on cooperation that is belt on talent, art and passion has grown a great deal and it just keeps getting better. That is very evident with the quality and quantity of good film being produced under that umbrella so its a good time to be part of that family.

And for what else needs to be done better: We the artist, be it producers, actors, directors and all need to remember that without us the art dies, so we need to concentrate more on the art and forget about fame and recognition. Those things come by default when the work is done right.

Could you share more information about the Premiere, venue, fees, and any other side shows taking place ?

DT6 will be premiered in MD this Sunday, April 8th, 2018 at the Old Greenbelt Theatre from 7pm-11pm. Tickets for that are $20 even and can be purchased at the gate or on eventbrite. Thereafter, it will be premiered in Cameroon. on Saturday, April 21st, 2018 at the Mountain Hotel in Buea. Tickets for those are: 5000 cfa-Regular, 10.000 cfa-VIP (Comes with 2 drinks), Tables- 50.000 cfa.

 

What next for Claudio Oben after Defying the 6th, any other projects coming up?

After the premieres and film festival runs, Claudio Oben and Zeallmatic pictures will get back to work, if not already in the works for the spin-offs of DT6. That’s all I am allowed to reveal for now.

Thanks for talking to PAV                           

Thank you so much for having me and hope to see you at the premiere. Stay blessed.

 

 

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I want to leave a legacy and a foundation for the rise of the “New Nigeria”-2019 Presidential Hopeful Sam Okey Mbonu
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Sam Mbonu says it is time for a new Nigeria

Sam Mbonu says it is time for a new Nigeria

“If the corrupt politicians will set aside their greed, the people will drive Nigeria into the 21st-century,” says Sam Okey Mbonu as he touts his credentials in warm up to the 2019 presidential elections in Nigeria. The Nigerian born, Washington, DC, trained head of the Nigerian –American Council says doing nothing is not an option when inept leadership continues to plunge Nigeria into a spiral of economic stagnation, religious intolerance, and militancy. Interviewed in Washington, DC, by PAV, Sam Mbonu says the old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under his administration.

Who is Sam Okey Mbonu and why is he in the race to be the next President of Nigeria?

Sam Mbonu:  I’m Nigerian-born, and a Washington DC-trained professional.  I attended American University Washington DC, as a Visiting Scholar, and received my JD in Law from the District of Columbia School of law.  Post law school, I worked briefly as Senior Advisor for a US Government Contractor, before being appointed “Commissioner, Housing Authority, PG, Maryland”.  At the end of my term in government, I leveraged my exposure to Housing policy, to enter the private sector; before shortly co-founding the think-tank NAL Council, whose focus was on US policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa policy.  I have since become a highly sought after expert, providing strategic advisory to US public and private institutions regarding Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Why are you in the race to be the next President of Nigeria and may we know the thought process that led to your decision?

Sam Mbonu:  Firstly, I’ve been preparing for this race for the past 8 years (may be longer).  There were times I contemplated just settling into a good life in the US and tuning out all the cacophony of strife in Nigeria; however, the whole world has progressively become one village, and what happens in one region affects other regions, whether it’s insecurity or public health issues. 

So I figured since the need for public service that will positively impact a greater number of people is greater in Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria.  Therefore, I decided that I would follow my passion for human upliftment, and public service, to help lift Nigeria out of the chaos the leaders have foisted on the people. 

Secondly, the whole world has watched as Nigeria has descended hopelessly into strife, religious intolerance, militancy, and economic stagnation, which leads to a circle of arrested development; which was caused by recent incompetent leadership. 

It is my mission to prove that Nigeria can be salvaged.  I will do this by bringing my world-class credentials, experience in US public service, expertise in Sub-Saharan Africa matters and relationships in the US and around the world over the past 3 decades, to run Nigerian competently and move the country into the 21st Century.

What is your assessment of how Nigeria has fared under President Buhari?

Sam Mbonu:  Terrible, terrible, terrible!  I, like many other people in Nigeria’s 37th state-the Diaspora, had great hopes that President Buhari will not only stem the tide of corruption, which was already running rampant, but would also reposition the country for economic growth, through the roll-out of sufficient infrastructure, especially in Electric Energy among others.  However, what we and the world has seen is a nation that has slid so dangerously to the edge, that insecurity has returned to a full-blown nightmare, especially in Northeast, and Northcentral Nigeria.

Economic growth has been stifled by a lack of political will to deliver on the most basic engine of a modern society-Electric Energy!  You can imagine how many things grind to a stop when there is a weather related emergency that disrupts electricity in the US; now imagine that as an everyday occurrence in Nigeria.  Nigeria currently gets 4-5 hours of electricity every day, 365 days of the year.  Imagine how true business productivity is limited to only about 4 hours every day; machines stop running, food cannot be stored, traffic lights go out, heat stroke killing people, industries shutting down, vehicles and machines that cannot be serviced because power tools are down, etc.

My campaign has also determined that because President Buhari is unfortunately begotten by a corrupt process, by way of his close circle, whether he claims that he is not personally corrupt or not; however, being hamstrung by corrupt people makes him a “fruit of the poisonous tree” as it is called it in American jurisprudence.  He or she who eats of the “fruit of the poisonous tree” certainly will not be immune from the poison that the tree will offer. 

Therefore, the only option is to avoid that tree.  That’s why my government will be the government to bring the true change, because we are not tainted by affiliation to the poisonous tree.

His supporters say he inherited a mess and has made progress in fighting corruption they describe as rampant in the PDP days, what is your take?

Sam Mbonu:  We have not seen the progress, and the world has not seen the progress.  The 2 big parties in Nigeria have seen an exodus from one party to the other, depending on who’s in power.  He’s actually leaving the country worse than he found it.  The president is seriously hampered either by poor judgment, or incompetence, and the greatest thing is that he’s not sensitive to the plight of Nigerians, whether they are northerners or southerners.  The man does not care at all.  If he was a caring president, would he hold a party one day after 72 people were massacred in Benue?  Or would he go to a lavish wedding one day after another 100 teenage girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram?  Would his police chief attempt to disarm everyone, except the herdsmen of Nigeria who actually carry weapons openly in Nigeria?

For all its potential , endowed with tremendous human and natural resources, Nigeria remains  giant with clay feet, how does Sam Mbonu plan to turn things around, tell Nigerians why and how you can turn things around when many other leaders have been unable to do so?

Sam Mbonu:  That’s straightforward.  In my administration, most critical infrastructure projects, including electric energy, water, and internal security, will be brought into the presidency as special projects.  That way, I and my presidency personnel can oversee those projects myself.  I will be accountable for those projects if government overseers fall short by compromising at the expense of the people.  I will have the political will to do what is right.  I just want to leave a legacy and a foundation for the rise of the “New Nigeria”.  The old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under my administration.

Let’s try to dwell on a few policy perspectives now if you don’t mind, how do you fight corruption differently from the PDP and now the APC has approached it?

Sam Mbonu:  That’s straightforward as well.  Those parties are hampered by the corruption baggage they already carry, they cannot offload the baggage even if they wanted to; because they are tainted, and tied in intricate ways to again the “poisonous tree”.  I am not tied to the poisonous tree, and I can walk past it.  I will have the political will to execute projects, without being hampered by ties to the “poisonous tree”.

Sam Mbonu was recently honored at an event at the “Airforce One Boardroom at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California, USA

Sam Mbonu was recently honored at an event at the “Airforce One Boardroom at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California, USA

The power crisis needs no introduction, how does The Mbonu Presidency address this, in case Nigerians were to give you the mandate?

Sam Mbonu:  The previous answer addresses this matter in part.  I will deliver electric energy via special projects that will be executed by the office of the president.  That way, I can be held accountable if I fail.

For all the talk from the APC, when they were in the opposition, and now in power, security remains a serious challenge with Boko Haram still running riot, in what way will you handle the crisis differently from the last two administrations?

Sam Mbonu:  There is no real political will to take out Boko Haram, because even the actual official campaign against Boko Haram gets embroiled in corruption.  I’m sure you are aware that each time the country is about to engage in election, the government seeks $1 or $2 billion USD in the guise of fighting BH, even though they are planning to use the money for political campaigns.  My administration will mop up Boko Haram for good.

Under what platform will you running for the elections and do you think is possible to break the hegemony of the APC and the PDP?

Sam Mbonu:  My campaign is in discussion with 5 different political parties at this time.  We will ultimately affiliate with the one that best suits our ideological bent.  The millions of Nigerian citizenry are so disenchanted with the APC or PDP that they cannot wait to throw them out at the ballot box.

Do you have faith in the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission –INEC to organize free and fair elections?

Sam Mbonu:  Elections have evolved in Nigeria and so INEC is not as bad as it used to be.  However, we have determined that we will deploy human and technological capacity to watch our votes.  Every INEC official in the entire 774 Local councils in Nigeria will be watched to a microscopic level, he or she who attempts to compromise our votes will have no place to hide, not under the ground, not in the skies; we will beam the eyes of the world on Nigeria, and there will be hell to pay.  A corrupt INEC official might as well commit suicide, because we won’t let them spend any monies or benefits derived from a compromised election.

We are doing this interview from the USA, what structures do you have on the ground in Nigeria as your work on this presidential run?

Sam Mbonu:  37 State offices are being rolled out; sub offices in 774 Local Councils will be rolled-out, in addition to whatever our chosen party has by way of structure.

In terms of cost, Presidential elections are no joke, where will the resources come from to sustain the campaign?

Sam Mbonu:  The campaigns will obviously cost in the $100’s of millions USD, we will find the resources, but the campaign will not necessarily be won by the candidate who spent the most money.  The richest candidate has never become the president of Nigeria.  It almost happened in 1992 when Abiola was running but that got scuttled.  The “will of the people” is an equation that is ultimately more fundamental than money.  We will win this election, whether we spend in the $100’s of millions USD or not.

with former President  Goodluck Jonathan at the US Congress,the old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under my administration,says Sam Mbonu

with former President Goodluck Jonathan at the US Congress,the old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under my administration,says Sam Mbonu

Omoyele Sowore of Sahara Reporters who should be of the same generation like you has expressed interest to run as well, could the 2019 elections shape up as the revolt of the younger generation in Nigerian politics?

Sam Mbonu:  Maybe; I do not know Sowore personally, I only know of him as an Activist Journalist; his role as an activist has its place in any democracy, I welcome him to the race.  However, only one of us has the world-class credentials, to salvage the heart and soul of Africa’s largest democracy; and only one of us has been tested in public service, in the most rigorous democracy in the world, the United States of America. However, Omoyele Sowore has been a voice in rooting out corruption in Nigeria and it would be a shame to lose that independent voice, but, I enjoy competition. I believe, we see the issues in the same manner. I suspect we would agree on more things than we disagree upon.

Mr. Mbonu, one last question on the future of Nigeria as you see it, what gives you hope and what are your fears?

Sam Mbonu:  No fears, just the belief that the African giant will emerge under my administration to be a net contributor to the prosperity and security of Africa and the world at large.  That vision is as real as day follows night.  I have seen the light, and Nigeria is not going back to the darkness under me.  If we as Nigerians want to go back to the stone-age, then we will all have a say in the matter.  I assure you, we’re not going back to the stone-age.

Thanks for talking to Pan African Visions

Sam Mbonu:  You are welcome!!

 

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Government of Ghana to facilitate Christian pilgrimage to Israel.
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister Kofi Dzamesi

Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister Kofi Dzamesi

The Government of Ghana has stated that it will organize another trip for Christians to Israel after last year’s “successful” piloting of the programme.

According to the Ghana’s Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, the fares for this year’s pilgrimage to Israel remains the same as that of 2017. The fee for the trip per person was $2,700.

The Government was heavily lambasted when it announced its intention to facilitate the pilgrimage of about 100 Christians to Israel and the Vatican.

A religious expert and lecturer at the University of Ghana Dr. Ben Willie-Golo condemned the decision then as “reckless.”

“Why will you want to push this? I mean don’t we have earnestly [something] doing with our resources,” he quizzed during an interview on Morning Starr.

Despite the scathing condemnation, government remained resolute and went ahead to execute the programme.

In an address to a News Conference to announce the latest move, the Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister Kofi Dzamesi last year’s event was successful.

“Last year this [Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs] Ministry facilitated a pilot pilgrimage to the state of Israel, which in our view was largely successful and very beneficial, confirming in the large measure the importance of pilgrimage in the life of a Christian,” he said.

Thus, he added “this [Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs] Ministry intends to facilitate another pilgrimage to the state of Israel but on a much broader scale and within manageable limit.”

He said this year’s fares remain the same as last year’s with similar package.

Parliamentary summons

The move to send over a 100 persons to Israel and the Vatican last year was described by majority of the public as a misplaced priority on the part of government.

The Christian Council of Ghana also stated then that “it did not want tax payers to bear the cost”.

And in the heat of the conundrum surrounding the government’s programme, parliament hauled the Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister to the lawmaking chamber to disclose the modalities surrounding the trip and to ascertain if the State is footing the bills.

However, the Ministry has insisted it “is not in to make profit” but only facilitating travelling arrangement for Ghanaians Christians to embark on the trip.

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Pay taxes to develop Ghana – Bawumia
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Bawumia

Bawumia

Ghana’s Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has challenged the country’s citizens to honour their civic obligations to the State by filing their tax returns in order to mobilise domestic revenue to help meet development aspirations.

The vice president said mobilising adequate domestic revenue will also help achieve President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid.

Emphasising the importance of domestic revenue mobilisation to national development across the world, Dr. Bawumia stated: “All over the world, taxation is the main tool countries rely on to mobilize revenue to develop their economies and provide services to their people. Perhaps least talked about and also less understood by many of us is that whatever the advanced countries send to us as aid is the result of their own ability to mobilize domestic resources. What we take for granted as aid resources, is the result of their capacity to raise taxes, especially income tax. As we embark on this journey of Ghana Beyond Aid, it is imperative for us to take rigorous and decisive steps to raise enough income tax.”

The Vice President made the call for greater tax compliance when he launched the 2018 “Tax and Good Governance Week” organised by the Ghana Revenue Authority in Accra, on Friday April 6, 2018. The celebration is under the theme “Filing your tax returns, your civic responsibility”, and is aimed at getting all eligible tax payers to file their tax returns on or before the deadline of 30th April, 2018.

Vice President Bawumia bemoaned the poor tax paying culture in the country, indicating that though potential employees in the country are estimated at 6 million individuals, only about 1.5 million persons are registered with the Ghana Revenue Authority and pay their Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

“In fact, Ghana ranks below Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Senegal, Cape Verde and Swaziland in terms of the contribution of payroll tax to GDP. In 2015/2016 fiscal year, PAYE contributed about 15% of total domestic revenue, the self-employed about 1.1% and corporate tax about 19%. The combined contribution of about 35% is significantly below Singapore’s 50%, South Africa’s 54%, Canada’s 58% and Denmark’s 60%.”

“Let me reiterate that filing of tax returns, in addition to being the civic responsibility of every Ghanaian, is also a requirement by law. The Income Tax Act 2015 (Act 896) and the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) mandate every eligible person to file an income tax return with the Commissioner-General not later than four months after the end of each year of assessment.

Bawumia

Bawumia

“This campaign is therefore meant to remind and educate all categories of persons on this civic requirement and encourage the general public to visit any of the offices of the Ghana Revenue Authority across the country and file their tax returns if they haven’t already done so before the end of April, 2018.”

The President, Dr Bawumia disclosed, has directed all Ministers of State, Government Appointee and Public Officials to file their tax returns before the deadline.

“During this programme, GRA will mount tax clinics at specific places to assist citizens with the filing of their tax returns as well as other tax related matters. The tax return forms have been modified to make it easier to fill. Arrangements are also being made to provide a more efficient electronic system for filing returns in the very near future.”

Vice President Bawumia, together with a number of Government Ministers and Deputies who were at the launch, have since filed their tax returns at the offices of the Ghana Revenue Authority in Accra.

 

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Weah is a Symbol of Liberia’s Progress – Akufo-Addo
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Akufo and Weah

Akufo and Weah

President of the republic of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says President George Weah is a perfect representation of the progress of Liberia after its dark days of war.

President Akufo-Addo observed that President Weah’s election victory and subsequent peaceful handover of power from one democratically elected government to another in Liberia certainly demonstrates that Liberia has put it’s past behind and is ready to build a modern and democratic society that would put the welfare of its people first.

The President made the assertions when he, together with President Weah, addressed a joint press conference at the foyer of the Jubilee House after they held bilateral talks to discuss various ways the two countries can support each other’s developmental efforts.

President Weah is in Ghana for a two-day official state visit.

In his speech, President Weah said his Presidency considers Ghana as a case study that he will study and learn from during his presidency.

He called on President Akufo Addo to personally help Liberia to succeed under his Presidency.

President Weah recalled how Ghana hosted Liberians during their years of trouble and war.

He expressed sincere gratitude for the gesture and pledged to build a much stronger relationship with Ghana during his administration.

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US deal: Akufo-Addo’s address insulting – Ablakwa
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Minority spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has described Akufo-Addo’s address on the Ghana – US defense cooperation agreement as “insulting.”

In a national address Thursday evening, the president tagged those opposed to the agreement as naysayers and hypocrites.

“And how else would we have exposed the unspeakable hypocrisy of the fraternity of some frontline politicians, who make a habit of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, who secretly wallow in the largesse of the United States of America, whilst, at the same time, promote anti-American sentiments to a populist constituency?” Nana Addo said.

Reacting to the 15-minute address, the National Democratic Congress MP for North Tongu, who mounted pressure on the president to break his silence on the issue, said Mr. Akufo-Addo failed Ghanaians.

“A terribly sad night indeed,” Mr. Ablakwa said in a Facebook post.

He added: “This is not how a President talks down to his own people. The intolerant, condescending and insulting response to genuine concerns of Ghanaians from all sections of society is very regrettable.”

In his address, the President also dismissed claims that the US is seeking to build a military base in the West African country.

“The United States of America has not made any request for such consideration and, consistent with our established foreign policy, we will not consider any such request. In consideration of the realities of our circumstances and the challenges to peace in our region in our time, we have deemed it prudent to continue the Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America.”

He was confident that the US-Ghana Military Co-operation Agreement “will help enhance our defense capability, and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.”

Explaining why his Government had departed from the previous norms of predecessor governments to keep military co-operation agreements entered into with the United States of America secret, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his government was of the view that such agreements should be subject to the appropriate scrutiny of Parliament, in consonance with the requirements of accountable governance and the teachings of the Constitution.

“But for this decision to be open about this agreement, how else would we, the people of Ghana, have ever known that, for several decades, Ghana has had defense and security co-operation collaborations with the United States of America? How else would we have known that, in some instances, we have provided them with facilities for the movement of personnel and equipment to help some of our neighbors who were facing security and health challenges?” he asked

1998, 2000, 2015 Agreements

Touching on the conduct of Ghana’s foreign policy, the President stated that the country’s foreign policy has been consistently bi-partisan, and no successor government has found the need to tamper with any Agreement of a non-commercial nature, entered into by its predecessor.

He noted that “we respect the age-old norms of international diplomacy that, when a country has accorded concessions and privileges to another, these are not removed or altered by a successor government, unless, firstly, the conditions under which they were granted have been reversed; or, secondly, there is proven evidence of abuse.”
The President explained his administration came to know that Ghana had entered into a Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America, in 1998, 2000, and under the government of my predecessor in 2015.

His government was, nonetheless, satisfied that the conditions which necessitated the Agreements of 1998, 2000 and 2015, namely the creeping threat to the peace of the region, had not disappeared, adding that if anything, the threat had increased and, therefore, the need had arisen for continuing with the co-operation with the United States of America.
President Akufo-Addo stressed that no suggestion had ever been made that the United States of America had abused any of the privileges or concessions granted under any of these agreements, and it would, thus, have been deemed an unfriendly act to attempt to deny them any concession granted them under the earlier agreements.

Conditions of agreement

Touching on the conditions of the Agreement, President Akufo-Addo explained that these conditions mirror closely the conditions under which Ghana participates in peace-keeping operations under the United Nations, citing the example that when Ghanaian troops go on most peacekeeping duties, they do not carry their national passports, but rather carry their military identity.

Again, the President noted that quite apart from how this Agreement involves the military as an institution, it was worth pointing out that, virtually since independence, Ghana has had very fruitful relations with a range of foreign embassies and major international institutions.

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Unemployment: Arab spring not imminent – Expert
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
Vladmir Antwi-Danso

Vladmir Antwi-Danso

The Dean of Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College Vladmir Antwi-Danso has dismissed fears of a possible replication of the Arab Spring in Ghana over increasing spate of unemployment.

More than 1.2 million persons from 15 years and older are estimated to be unemployed, representing the total unemployment rate of 11.9%, according to a 2015 Ghana Labour Force Survey Report.

Of this number, about 714,916 are females, representing 57.2 per cent and 535,997 for males representing 42.8%, the survey commissioned by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) stated.

President Akufo-Addo hesitated in January this year in a media encounter to give an accurate data of how many jobs his government created since coming to power. The figures, he said should be expected this month [April] as government was in the process of putting together the statistics on the exact number of jobs that have been created by his NPP government.

Speaking Thursday at the 5th African Policy Think Tank Summit in Accra, the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta attributed Ghana and the Africa’s debilitating youth unemployment figures to the failure of the continent’s economy to drive job creation, warning that if care was not taken the situation will lead to the replication of Arab spring in the country

The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across the Middle East in early 2011 due largely to massive youth unemployment in the region.

But Vladmir Antwi-Danso observed that the situation in the country, even though alarming, does not provide fertile grounds for a civil unrest of that kind.

“The point is that something has to trigger something. Even when you have just two and half percent of unemployment it could trigger anything. Now you have twelve and half percent, thirty percent like you have in the Arab spring; thirty-one percent seriously employed and it is like they are unemployed and unemployable. We are getting there somehow but those things that trigger what the unemployed could do I haven’t found them yet,” the International Relations and security expert said in response to concerns raised by the Finance Minister.

“We have a certain social kind of situation [and] the family system that we have in Ghana does well. Then the social safety net either from the government or from relatives does well to cushion us…that kind of bond where society is taking care of itself is still there. It is dying gradually but it will a lot of time before it dies [completely]. The religious kind of believe in the spirit is also working well even though it’s bad. So I wouldn’t say tomorrow we are going to have Arab spring,” he added.

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Speech on military deal: Akufo-Addo’s emotional outburst bad – University Don
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Prof. Ransford Gyampo

Prof. Ransford Gyampo

Outspoken Political Scientist Prof. Ransford Gyampo has described as unnecessary President Akufo-Addo’s emotionally fiery defense of the controversial military agreement between Ghana and the United States of America.

According to the Senior lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, even though he subscribed to the President’s unflinching resolve to expose the hypocrisy of the opposition regarding the agreement, he erred in his choice of language.

“The president in his speech at certain times was a bit emotional. But I was thinking that he could have still exposed political hypocrisy without being emotional and then also sounding or insinuating that a section of the Ghanaian population are anti-America,” Prof Gyampo said.

“I don’t think that it is helpful,” he stressed.

In a televised address Thursday evening President Akufo Addo tagged those opposed to the agreement as naysayers and hypocrites.

“And how else would we have exposed the unspeakable hypocrisy of the fraternity of some frontline politicians, who make a habit of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, who secretly wallow in the largesse of the United States of America, whilst, at the same time, promote anti-American sentiments to a populist constituency?” Ghana’s President said.

In his reaction however, Prof. Gyampo stated speaking against the agreement does not make one anti-American and that as a father of the nation the President shouldn’t be seen as being intolerable to criticisms.

“For the want of a better word serious emotional attack on those who were peddling hypocrisy and all that, I think he is the father of the nation and so his words on an issue like this should put all debate to rest. It should not stoke further debate,” he stated.

Address insulting

The Minority in Parliament’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa also described President Akufo Addo’s address on the defense cooperation agreement as “insulting.”

Reacting to the 15-minute address, the National Democratic Congress MP for North Tongu, who mounted pressure on the president to break his silence on the issue, said Mr. Akufo-Addo failed Ghanaians.

“A terribly sad night indeed,” Mr. Ablakwa said in a Facebook post.

He added: “This is not how a President talks down to his own people. The intolerant, condescending and insulting response to genuine concerns of Ghanaians from all sections of society is very regrettable.”

No military base

In his address, the President also dismissed claims that the US is seeking to build a military base in Ghana.

“The United States of America has not made any request for such consideration and, consistent with our established foreign policy, we will not consider any such request. In consideration of the realities of our circumstances and the challenges to peace in our region in our time, we have deemed it prudent to continue the Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America.”

He was confident that the US-Ghana Military Co-operation Agreement “will help enhance our defence capability, and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.”

Explaining why his Government had departed from the previous norms of predecessor governments to keep military co-operation agreements entered into with the United States of America secret, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his government was of the view that such agreements should be subject to the appropriate scrutiny of Parliament, in consonance with the requirements of accountable governance and the teachings of the Constitution.

“But for this decision to be open about this agreement, how else would we, the people of Ghana, have ever known that, for several decades, Ghana has had defence and security co-operation collaborations with the United States of America? How else would we have known that, in some instances, we have provided them with facilities for the movement of personnel and equipment to help some of our neighbours who were facing security and health challenges?” the President asked

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US military deal exposes NDC’s hypocrisy – Akufo-Addo
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Nana Akufo-Addo

Nana Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo says his government’s handling of the military pact between Ghana and the United States exposes the hypocrisy of some front-line politicians in Ghana.

“And how else would we have exposed the unspeakable hypocrisy of the fraternity of some frontline politicians, who make a habit of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, who secretly wallow in the largesse of the United States of America, whilst, at the same time, promote anti-American sentiments to a populist constituency?” the President wondered in his national broadcast on the controversial deal which has been criticized by the opposition NDC and former President John Mahama.

The President also dismissed claims that the US is seeking to build a military base in Ghana.

“The United States of America has not made any request for such consideration and, consistent with our established foreign policy, we will not consider any such request. In consideration of the realities of our circumstances and the challenges to peace in our region in our time, we have deemed it prudent to continue the Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America.”

He was confident that the US-Ghana Military Co-operation Agreement “will help enhance our defence capability, and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.”

Explaining why his Government had departed from the previous norms of predecessor governments to keep military co-operation agreements entered into with the United States of America secret, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his government was of the view that such agreements should be subject to the appropriate scrutiny of Parliament, in consonance with the requirements of accountable governance and the teachings of the Constitution.

“But for this decision to be open about this agreement, how else would we, the people of Ghana, have ever known that, for several decades, Ghana has had defence and security co-operation collaborations with the United States of America? How else would we have known that, in some instances, we have provided them with facilities for the movement of personnel and equipment to help some of our neighbours who were facing security and health challenges?” he asked

1998, 2000, 2015 Agreements

Touching on the conduct of Ghana’s foreign policy, the President stated that the country’s foreign policy has been consistently bi-partisan, and no successor government has found the need to tamper with any Agreement of a non-commercial nature, entered into by its predecessor.

He noted that “we respect the age-old norms of international diplomacy that, when a country has accorded concessions and privileges to another, these are not removed or altered by a successor government, unless, firstly, the conditions under which they were granted have been reversed; or, secondly, there is proven evidence of abuse.”

The President explained his administration came to know that Ghana had entered into a Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America, in 1998, 2000, and under the government of my predecessor in 2015.

His government was, nonetheless, satisfied that the conditions which necessitated the Agreements of 1998, 2000 and 2015, namely the creeping threat to the peace of the region, had not disappeared, adding that if anything, the threat had increased and, therefore, the need had arisen for continuing with the co-operation with the United States of America.

President Akufo-Addo stressed that no suggestion had ever been made that the United States of America had abused any of the privileges or concessions granted under any of these agreements, and it would, thus, have been deemed an unfriendly act to attempt to deny them any concession granted them under the earlier agreements.

Conditions of agreement

Touching on the conditions of the Agreement, President Akufo-Addo explained that these conditions mirror closely the conditions under which Ghana participates in peace-keeping operations under the United Nations, citing the example that when Ghanaian troops go on most peacekeeping duties, they do not carry their national passports, but rather carry their military identity.

Again, the President noted that quite apart from how this Agreement involves the military as an institution, it was worth pointing out that, virtually since independence, Ghana has had very fruitful relations with a range of foreign embassies and major international institutions.

These, he said, include the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, amongst others. All these agencies enjoy similar conditions as those which the Co-operation Agreement offers to the US military here.

“No one has dared suggest that granting these foreign embassies and international institutions these concessions constitute an attack on the sovereignty of Ghana. Nor has anyone also felt that the concessions have in any way worked against the interests of Ghana. Indeed, I have no doubt that it would be the general consensus of all well-informed Ghanaians that this nation has benefitted significantly from the presence and activities of these institutions over the past decades,” the President said.

It was clear to President Akufo-Addo that, if the people of Ghana knew the conditions under which foreign embassies and our friendly international institutions operate in Ghana, nobody would have been surprised that a Defence Cooperation Agreement would make such provisions.

“Such knowledge would have spared many citizens the genuine anxiety and concern they have felt about the Agreement. It is my firm belief that the case for openness and transparency in our governance has been clearly demonstrated, and the argument conclusively settled by these events,” he said.

Reckless self-seeking politicians

President Akufo-Addo urged Ghanaians to take issue with the front-line politicians who have sought to mislead the people of Ghana in this blatant manner, and those who, for mischievous purposes, leaked the document destined for the scrutiny of Parliament prematurely to a section of the media, who then went on to describe it as a “secret document”.

“How could a document intended for the consideration of Parliament be described as a “secret document”? How could anyone who has been in government and run the administration of this nation feign ignorance of the conditions under which Ghanaian troops undertake peace-keeping operations, or the conditions under which our country has collaborated with major international institutions?” he asked.

The President continued, “It is difficult to understand that such people, knowing what they do know, would set about so blatantly to confuse people, and go as far as calling for the overthrow of our democracy? A democracy that has become the beacon of good governance in Africa?”

He was confident that this kind of cynical manipulation by “reckless self-seekers”, in the fullness of time, will be acknowledged and condemned by Ghanaians, stressing that “as the facts become clear and widely available, and as the people come to terms with the evidence, they will reject the falsehood and deliberate attempts to destabilize our peaceful country. Truth is sacrosanct.”

President outraged

In conclusion, President Akufo-Addo expressed his outrage at the defamatory comments from him political opponents, to the effect that Ghana’s sovereignty had been sold by his government and himself.

“I will never be the President that will compromise or sell the sovereignty of our country. I respect deeply the memory of the great patriots whose sacrifice and toil brought about our independence and freedom. I have stood with you, the Ghanaian people, all my adult life, fighting for our individual and collective rights,” he said.

He assured Ghanaians that “Everything I have done, since assuming the great honour and privilege of serving you as President of the Republic, demonstrates that I remain focused on building a self-reliant, free, prosperous Ghana, which will be able to make her own unique contribution to the growth and development of Africa and the world.”

President Akufo-Addo, thus, urged Ghanaians to “concentrate and spend our energies on working together to achieve that goal of a happy and prosperous Ghana, and reject the hypocrisy of the naysayers who led our country into bankruptcy and the worse economic record of modern Ghanaian history. Let us rise above them, and build the Ghana of our destiny, the land of freedom, justice, progress and prosperity.”

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I’ll never sell Ghana’s sovereignty – Prez
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President Akufo Addo

President Akufo Addo

President of the Republic of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that he will never compromise or sell the sovereignty of Ghana under any circumstance.

Speaking on the US-Ghana military agreement for the first time, the President slammed the opposition NDC describing them as “hypocrites” and “cynics” for twisting the facts in the US military agreement. He added that he is outraged by comments from his political opponents that he has sold the sovereignty of the nation to the United States of America.

“I will never be the president that will compromise or sell the sovereignty of our country. I respect deeply the memory of the great patriots whose sacrifice and toil brought about our independence and freedom,” Akufo-Addo said in an address to the nation.

The President’s address comes after massive public outrage over the military agreement with the United States of America.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress and other pressure groups in the country including the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) have been part of a protest to withdraw the deal or revise it to safeguard the sovereignty of the West African nation.

The deal, which has been ratified by Ghana’s Parliament but yet to be signed by the president, gives the US military and its civilian personnel unimpeded access to certain installations in Ghana, including tax wavers.

In his address, Akufo-Add reiterated that the US is not building a military base in Ghana adding that the agreement with the US is only a continuation of a relationship that has existed for decades.

He added that the military agreement will also enhace Ghana’s defence capability and offer an important layer of support in the nation’s common effort to protect the peace in the sub-region.

“Let me state with the clearest affirmation that Ghana has not offered a military base and will not offer a military base to the United States of America. Indeed, the United States of America has not made any request for such consideration and consistent with our foreign policy we will not consider any such request.

“However, In consideration of the realities of our circumstances and the challenges to peace in the region in our time, we have deemed it prudent to continue the cooperation agreement with the USA.

“It is our firm believe that the agreement will enhance our defence capability and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.”

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Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
Six-year study with 47,000 households demonstrates how housing microfinance can be win-win for poor people and financial institutions

KISSI, KENYA (05/04/16)-
Julius Nyakeya Kinanda, 34,Ruth Nygmorambo Nyakeya, 30,Michelle Kwamboka Nyakeya, 10, (White top)
Elisha Kafiti Nyakeya, 8,
Joy Boera Nyakeya, 2,
©Habitat for Humanity International/Jason Asteros

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 5, 2018/ — A new study from Habitat for Humanity (www.Habitat.org) says that housing microfinance can and should become a mainstream offering for financial institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa as they respond to growing housing needs in the region, particularly from poor people.

The business case study, released today, is entitled “Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa”  It builds on a project carried out over six years in Kenya and Uganda called “Building Assets Unlocking Access”. The project was a partnership between Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter and the Mastercard Foundation (www.MastercardFdn.org). So far, the project has reached over 47,000 households and mobilized more than US$43 million in capital to benefit over 237,000 individuals.

To download the case study “Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa” click here: https://goo.gl/QmYUWT

The business case study argues that housing microfinance, small non-mortgage backed loans for short terms, can become a mainstream offering in the market to address growing housing needs in the region, incremental building patterns, and the land tenure realities of low-income households.

There are an estimated 1.6 billion people in the world living in substandard housing. This figure is climbing, especially as the world becomes more urbanized and people migrate to cities for economic opportunity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, as much as 99 percent of people do not have access to formal financing –  credit, savings, mortgages – that can let them start building or improving their homes. Traditionally, they build homes gradually as their resources allow. Developer-built, bank-financed homes are rare in Africa, serving fewer than five percent of households in most countries.

“Solving the housing challenges in Africa will require a massive amount of capital investment and most of that will need to come from the private sector,” said Patrick Kelley, Vice President of Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter. “Financial institutions of all kinds have a role to play, especially those already deeply embedded in communities and who understand people with informal sector livelihoods.”

Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter partnership with the Mastercard Foundation sought to motivate local financial service providers in Kenya and Uganda to develop housing microfinance loans to fund the incremental building process common among low-income households. The results have proven that there is demand for housing microfinance among families or individuals earning as little as US$5 a day who are seeking to build, extend, or renovate their home.

“At the Mastercard Foundation, our focus is on helping economically disadvantaged people, especially young people in Africa, to find opportunities to move themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty,” said Ruth Dueck-Mbeba, Senior Program Manager at the Foundation. “This project has provided access to appropriate finance for decent housing. We believe that decent housing can provide more than four walls and a roof over one’s head. It offers people hope, dignity, and a place in their communities.  This report should help financial service providers to scale these products, which would benefit their enterprises as well as the lives of many poor people in Africa.”

Financial institutions in the region that have ventured into housing microfi­nance have often reported it to be a popular product with their clients. To understand the demand side factors, the value proposition of these products, the competitive advantage of financial service providers offering it, and the differentiated features that make housing microfinance a strategic product, the business case study surveyed the work of two financial institutions: Kenya Women Microfinance Bank, or KWFT, and Centenary Bank in Uganda.

The study argues, through the lenses of these two institutions in different geographies, that success and profitability of a housing microfinance product relies on a number of factors: connection with the financial service provider’s mission, good marketing, a clear pricing structure, understanding of land tenure realities, an opportunity to attract new clients, and secure long-term capital to fund the expansion of such portfolios.

“Financing incremental housing solutions is a natural step in the progress of greater financial inclusion. Centenary and KWFT are providing a great example of how financial institutions will benefit from understanding their clients and developing products that serve them well,” said Patrick Kelley.

About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation (www.MastercardFdn.org) 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. The Foundation is based in Toronto, Canada. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.MastercardFdn.org. Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.

About Habitat for Humanity
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity (www.Habitat.org) began in 1976 as a grassroots effort. The housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit www.Habitat.org/emea.

About the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter 
Habitat established the Terwilliger Center (www.Habitat.org/TCIS) to work with housing market systems by supporting local firms and expand¬ing innovative and client-responsive services, products and financing so that households can improve their shelter more effectively and efficiently. The role of the Terwilliger Center stays true to Habitat for Humanity’s original principles of self-help and sus¬tainability by focusing on improving systems that enable families to achieve affordable shelter without needing ongoing direct support

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Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio Is Sierra Leone’s New President
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Mohamed Bangura

President Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio

President Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio

The final result for the Run off of the Presidential election in Sierra Leone was announced on Wednesday the 4th of April 2018 at 10pm.The Announcement was made by the Chairman of the National Electoral Commissioner Mr Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh at the Electoral commission Headquarters in Freetown. Foreign and local observers,Consular and Diplomatic cores and members of the local and foreign press were in attendance when the announcement was made, both parties, The Sierra Leone Peoples party SLPP and the All peoples Congress Party APC were both claiming victory and both parties supporters were celebrating victory in the streets of Freetown making the whole populace of the country in a confused mood not knowing who really is the right winner of the election.

The chairman of the National Electoral Commission started by thanking the foreign observers,Press and the general public for help making the electoral process a reality.He said the total voters  turn out of the Run off election was 2,578,271 representing 81.11% and the valid votes cast 2,546,577 representing 98.76% and the invalid votes cast was 36,694 representing 1.24%.

The full breakdown for each presidential candidates were as follows..Dr Mathew Wilson Samura Kamara for the All Peoples Congress Party APC vote cast 1,227,171 representing 48.19% and the Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP votes cast  1,319,406 representing 51.24%.

According to the Constitution of Sierra Leone only the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission has the power to pronounce a winner as president and that what exactly the returning NEC officer Mr Mohamed Nfa Alie did as he announced the Retired Brigadier Juluis Maada Bio as the duly elected president of the Republic of Sierra Leone as he defeated  Dr Mathew Wilson Samura Kamara.

Retired Brigadier Maada Bio was sworn in as President hours after the Result was announced at the Radisson Blue Hotel and Dr Samura Kamara also congratulated the newly elected President. Supporters of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party are celebration throughout the country and the supporters and sympathizers of the defeated All Peoples Party are trying hard to cope with the atmosphere in welcoming the newly elected president

 

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I’ll fulfill all my promises – Akufo-Addo
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Danakwa Akufo-Addo has stated that he will fulfil all his promises before his four year mandate ends in 2020.

According to the President, most of the promises he made to Ghanaians have been fulfilled adding that the rest will follow soon.

“I told the good people of Ghana that I am up to the task of running the country. I have fulfilled a number of campaign promises. I know we have a lot to do. It is a four year mandate and by the time my four years will be over, I would have fulfilled all my promises.

“I am not one of the politicians who promises and fails to deliver. I will deliver on all my promises,” the President told a Kente Weavers and Sellers Association during a courtesy call at the Jubilee House on Tuesday.

The president has already fulfilled his pledge to make Senior High School Education free. Allowances for teachers and nurses have also been restored as promised by the president during the 2016 electioneering period.

Also several taxes have been cut or abolished by the president while electricity tariff have also been reduced by the government.

However several promises made by Akufo-Addo are yet to take off. The popular one district, one factory and the one village one dam has yet to take off.

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Resource mobilisation key to Ghana Beyond Aid – Vice
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia

The Government of Ghana’s desire and ability to mobilize and maximize domestic revenue is an integral part of President Akufo-Addo’s vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid, the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has underscored.

To this end, the Government of Ghana is putting in place the necessary measures including the issuance of a national ID Card, a National Digital Property Addressing System, and the use of a Tax Identification Number to access key services, to broaden the tax base and reduce the tax burden on the estimated 1.2million taxpayers supporting a the country’s population of about 28 million.

Ghana’s Vice President reiterated Government’s commitment to developing Ghana using domestic revenues and ingenuity at a Conference in Accra on Moving Ghana Beyond Aid – Revenue Mobilization.

The Conference, organised by the Africa Centre For Economic Transformation in collaboration with the Ghana’s Ministry of Finance and the International Monetary Fund(IMF), is being attended by countries which have signed on to the G20-Compact With Africa (CWA) including Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

Outlining a number of measures Government is implementing to strengthen the economy and boost domestic revenue growth, Vice President Bawumia said President Akufo-Addo’s vision of Moving Ghana Beyond Aid was not mere rhetoric but a reflection of the reality, as aid and donor fatigue grows.

“Judging from our history and our vision for the future, there is no doubt that we need to rethink how we develop as a country. It has become obvious that, we need to be more efficient and effective in managing our resources to ensure rapid economic growth and transformation.

“Going beyond aid is an inevitable conversation, and we can choose to confront it now or postpone it to our peril.

“In fact, a greater illusion is for us to think that we can continue to build schools to educate our children, provide adequate health services for a healthy Ghana, provide safe and adequate water, provide sanitation services for a clean Ghana, provide law and order for a good society, on the inexhaustible charity of donor projects.”

One of the key pillars of the vision of moving Ghana beyond aid, Vice President Bawumia reiterated, was to enhance domestic revenue, while pursuing a more transparent, prudent and accountable use and management of public resources.

“For now, Ghana Beyond Aid is resting on five pillars: First, and most obvious, is to enhance domestic revenue mobilization. And we must do so in ways that do not undermine productive activities, or distort private incentives for work.

“Second, is to encourage higher private savings as a source of loanable funds to support domestic credit and capital market, and expand financial inclusion.

“Third, is to pursue a more transparent, prudent and accountable use and management of public resources.

“Fourth, is to leverage our resources that are buried deep in the ground for development in more innovative ways than the conventional model of royalty and tax regimes.

“Fifth, is innovative mobilization and use of external resources in the emerging development finance landscape.”

Vice President Bawumia urged conference attendees to come up with new ideas and new and better ways of improving revenue collection.

“How can technology help? How do we minimize human interface and the risk of collusive behavior in avoiding and evading taxes? I will encourage resource persons and participants to help us address these challenges.

“Let me assure you that we are committed to implementing policies and operational steps that will put us on a sound footing to mobilize the required revenue for sustainable development.”

Focus of the Conference                                

The two-day conference will provide Compact with Africa (CWA) countries a common platform for knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer learning on revenue mobilization as well as ways to overcome aid dependence, ease financing constraints, and enhance growth prospects. All key elements to achieve prosperity without jeopardizing debt sustainability will also be considered.

Additionally, the conference will also help CWA countries deal with institutional and political constraints in revenue mobilization, improving tax compliance, and alleviating base erosion and profit shifting by multinational companies. It will focus on common domestic revenue mobilization (DRM) challenges and propose short and medium-term growth-friendly revenue-enhancing solutions.

About the Compact

The CWA was initiated by the German Presidency in the Finance Track, endorsed by the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Baden-Baden in March, 2017, to promote private investment in Africa, including infrastructure. The CWA initiative aims to attract private investment to the CWA countries by ensuring macroeconomic stability. Investment-friendly tax systems will help maintain fiscal discipline, while providing adequate financing for governments’ development needs.

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African Food Security Prize Launched to Stop Devastating Crop Pest
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
Feed the Future seeks digital solutions to help stop the spread of Fall Armyworm across Africa
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, April 4th, 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA) /- Feed the Future, supported by Land O’Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, has opened its call for applications for the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize. The prize offers to fund up to $400,000 in digital solutions that aim to help stop the spread of fall armyworm in Africa-a pest that is devastating agriculture and demolishing billions of dollars’ worth of crops across the continent. Selected digital solutions will strengthen resilience against fall armyworm and mitigate risks to food security across the continent.

Fall armyworm attacks over 80 different plant species. Agriculture experts estimate the pest could cause between $2.4 and $6.2 billion in losses for maize, a major staple crop in Africa on which more than 200 million people depend. Crops like sorghum, rice, and sugarcane are also at risk. Unchecked, fall armyworm is a threat to the livelihoods of farmers and to food security across the continent.

How the prizes will be awarded:

● One grand prize of $150,000 will be awarded to the most viable solution

● Two awards of $75,000 for the most promising solutions

● Two runner-up awards of $50,000 for early stage developments that show potential

Applications may involve a range of digital solutions and must demonstrate how the proposed tool(s) will help smallholder farmers and those that reach them, such as extension agents, monitor, identify, treat or report the incidence of fall armyworm.

The application deadline is 14 May 2018 via https://fallarmywormtech.challenges.org/. The Prize welcomes entries from around the world that are specific to the context of fall armyworm in Africa. Final prize awards will be announced later this year.

● Full terms and conditions and judging criteria are available at fallarmyworm.challenges.org● Prizes are a tried and tested method for supporting innovation. They offer a reward to those who can first or most effectively deliver a defined result. They act as an incentive for meeting a specific target. Prizes are also a means of opening up the process of solving a problem beyond the ‘usual suspects,’ thus facilitating the engagement and participation of anyone who can solve the problem.

● About fall armyworm:

○ Fall armyworm poses a serious threat to Africa’s food security. Native to the Americas, it was first identified in Africa in 2016. It is now present across sub-Saharan Africa in more than 35 countries. It is on the precipice of devastating food staples as it quickly spreads across the continent.

○ Differing from other types of armyworm present on the continent, like African armyworm, it eats the vegetative as well as the reproductive parts of plants, rendering further crop growth impossible.

○ In the Americas it has, to an extent, been contained through the use of genetically modified (GM) seeds and crops alongside judicious pesticide spraying. Many effective and fall armyworm-specific pesticides have been registered for use in the Americas. However, no pesticides have been fully registered specifically for fall armyworm in Africa, resulting in the use of unregistered and illegal pesticides, or pesticides meant to treat other invasive pests.

○ The female fall armyworm can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time and can produce multiple generations very quickly without pause in tropical environments.

○ If allowed to reach maturity, female fall armyworm moths can fly distances up to 1,600 kilometers in 30 hours (almost 1,000 miles)

About the partners

Feed the Future: Feed the Future, America’s global hunger and food security initiative, aims to transform lives toward a world where people no longer face extreme poverty, undernutrition and hunger. To achieve this, Feed the Future works hand-in-hand with partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the cycle of poverty and hunger.

Land O’Lakes International Development: Land O’Lakes International Development is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that leverages the farm-to-fork expertise of Land O’Lakes, Inc. to unlock the potential of agriculture to empower the developing world. Since 1981, Land O’Lakes International Development has implemented over 300 dairy, livestock and crops development programs in nearly 80 countries.

Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre: Nesta is a pioneer in the use of prizes to accelerate innovation for public good. Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills. We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. To find out more visit www.nesta.org.uk. Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research: The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established by bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.
Learn more: www.foundationfar.org | Connect: @FoundationFAR

DAI Founded in 1970, DAI is a global development company with corporate offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. Named one of the world’s top 40 international development innovators, DAI works on the front lines of international development, tackling fundamental social and economic development problems caused by inefficient markets, ineffective governance, and instability.

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Mastercard appoints new Sub-Saharan Africa Division President
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
Raghav Prasad

Raghav Prasad

Sub-Saharan Africa, April 4th 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Spurred on by the company’s steady growth in Sub-Saharan Africa and in line with its focus on investing in the continent, Mastercard has appointed Raghav Prasad as Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa. Prasad will strengthen the company’s ongoing commitment to delivering value to customers and consumers in Africa by leveraging technology to build stronger and more inclusive payment ecosystems.

Prasad brings his extensive 30-year global financial services and payments industry experience to further Mastercard’s goal of financially including 100 million people by 2020 – an objective that can only be achieved by working with partners across the public and private sectors and by introducing market-relevant digital payment solutions such as Masterpass QR, Mastercard Payment Gateway Services along with its core Debit, Credit, Prepaid and Commercial solutions.

With a proven track record as a leader, Prasad has a deep understanding of the payments sector, and brings unique insights into the region honed while running his own consulting practice focusing on the Middle East and Africa as well as working for global players like Citibank and RBS.

“The influence and true potential of technology is seen on the continent like almost nowhere else in the world. Africa has an amazing advantage of not having invested in legacy infrastructure and can embrace the latest technologies, especially mobile, to transform the payments landscape. Technology innovation is influencing the way consumers engage with the world around them, shaping economies, creating smarter, more connected and financially inclusive cities,” said Prasad.

Mobile continues to act as a critical conduit of growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, currently accounting for nearly a tenth of the global mobile subscriber base and is predicted to grow faster than any other region globally over the next five years. Additionally, the World Bank estimates that over 64 million adults in the region already have a mobile money account – making it the most easily accessible technology for those currently excluded from the formal financial services sector.

It also serves as an increasingly important tool for the continent’s growing youth population. Africa will become the youngest and most populous continent in the next few decades, according to the Africa Development Bank Outlook 2018 Report. Its labour force will expand to nearly two billion in 2063, a trend that is supported by the fact that over 12 million young people join the workforce every year.

Prasad predicts that the demographic dividend of a large young and tech-savvy population will lead to many of these youth starting up businesses of their own, and becoming job creators. “Our work in supporting the MSME sector is critical to our role in Africa, and solutions such as Masterpass QR are turning the tide on cash dependency as well as helping millions of merchants to go digital for the first time. This is more attractive for businesses and consumers alike – and we see youth being a key driver of the adoption of new technologies now, and in the future”

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. Our global payments processing network connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.

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IGD’s U.S. Roadshow Special Reception to Officially Launch Four-City Tour and Announce Partnership with African Development Bank on Africa Investment Forum
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, to deliver remarks on private sector engagement to accelerate Africa’s investment opportunities 

IGD President Mima S. Nedelcovych meets with AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and leadership team

IGD President Mima S. Nedelcovych meets with AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and leadership team

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 4, 2018 –  The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) will officially launch its inaugural Africa Investment Rising Roadshow Tour with a Special Reception on Wednesday, April 18 from 6:00-7:30PM at the Senate Dirksen Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, will announce the Bank’s partnership with IGD on the Africa Investment Forum (AIF), which will take place in early-November in Johannesburg, South Africa. The AIF is an initiative championed by the Bank to actively engage the private sector and to facilitate projects that have the capacity of transforming the continent. Boamah is leading a delegation of Senior Bank Management to the Spring World Bank/IMF Meetings.

Boamah will offer remarks on the U.S. private sector’s role in accelerating Africa’s investment opportunities at the Capitol Hill reception.

The U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”, taking place from April 18-May 1, 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.

Launching in Washington, D.C., the roadshow tour will travel to New York Cityto highlight banking, financing, and investment opportunities; Des Moines, IAfor agriculture and agro-industry; and Houston, TX for energy and power.

The full roadshow tour will ultimately culminate in Johannesburg, South Africa, where roadshow attendees are invited to attend the IGD Frontier 100 Forum on Nov. 5-6, followed by the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum (AIF) from Nov. 7-9, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The AIF is designed to enhance private-sector cooperation and drive investment in sectors of strategic interest within Africa.

“IGD is pleased to build on our partnership with the African Development Bank through the U.S. Roadshow Tour to accelerate Africa’s investment opportunities and help attract private capital to the continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych.

“By bringing U.S. investors to the Bank’s investment forum, they will learn firsthand about bankable projects and will have the opportunities to broker deals that will deliver economic transformation in Africa,” said Nedelcovych.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and USAID’s East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs are Sponsors of the U.S. Roadshow Tour.

Platinum sponsors as ChevronNorton, Rose and Fulbright LLPIowa State University Research ParkAGCOLilium Capital, and Orrick; Gold sponsors, SasolCorteva AgriscienceEndeavor Energy, and AllAfrica.com as Gold sponsors; and World Food Prize Foundation and Millennium Challenge Corporation as Silver sponsors.

Organizational Partners are PAN Diaspora Capital ManagementHarris Africa Partners/Grant T. Harris, The Serendra Group LLC/Robert van Zwieten, U.S. Bilateral African Chamber of CommerceGlobal Farmer NetworkU.S. Small Business Administration, and Invest Africa.

Media partners are Africa InvestorAfrica.com, Africa Business magazineAfropop WorldwideAlloAfricaNews.comAllAfrica.comAsoko InsightFace2Face Africa,   innov8tiv.comPan-African Visions, and VoxAfrica.
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.

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Israel Reverses Course Hours After Signing U.N. Deal To Resettle African Migrants
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Sarah Ruiz-Grossman*

Eritrean refugees protest against the Eritrean government outside the nation's embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2015. (Baz Ratner / Reuters)

Eritrean refugees protest against the Eritrean government outside the nation’s embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2015. (Baz Ratner / Reuters)

Less than a day after the Israeli government announced a deal with the United Nations’ refugee agency to resettle more than 16,000 African migrants and grant legal status to others, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended and then definitively scrapped the deal.

Early on Monday, the Israeli government and the U.N. agency, formally known as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, revealed the outlines of a deal they’d signed concerning the status of more than 34,000 undocumented Eritreans and Sudanese living in Israel. Under the agreement, more than 16,000 would resettle in other countries, largely in Europe. The rest would receive legal status in Israel.

By Monday night, however, Netanyahu had walked back the announcement, saying on Facebook that the deal would be put on hold until further review. On Tuesday, he announced the deal was dead.

“I have listened carefully to the many comments on the agreement. As a result, and after I again weighed the advantages and disadvantages, I decided to cancel the deal,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement.

The Israeli prime minister’s reversal came after a backlash from right-wing politicians and some residents of southern Tel Aviv, where many Eritreans and Sudanese have settled.

Most of the Eritrean and Sudanese people living in Israel have fled war and persecution in their countries of origin. The area of southern Tel Aviv, where many reside, is “economically challenged” with “unemployment and social tension,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told HuffPost on Monday.

Spindler said that Eritrean and Sudanese people in Israel should be considered refugees, not migrants, as they left their homes to escape persecution and war. He also noted that Israel, as the receiving nation, has only in a very few cases processed and officially designated the migrants as refugees.

“It is with regret that UNHCR notes cancellation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Israel-UNHCR Agreement,” the U.N. agency wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “We encourage the Government of Israel to consider the matter further, while standing ready to be of help.”

The deal between Israel and the UNHCR, which was to be carried out over the next five years, had rested on the agency’s ability to relocate some 16,000 of the refugees to “developed” countries where the agency has resettlement programs ― including in Europe, the U.S., Canada and Australia, Spindler told HuffPost. As of Monday, no country had officially agreed to take in any of those refugees.

The agreement had also included support services for the African migrants who would be staying legally in Israel, Spindler said, including vocational training to help them find employment beyond southern Tel Aviv.

Per the agreement, Israel would no longer pursue its “non-voluntary relocation policy,” according to a U.N. release.

Earlier this year, Israel had announced a plan to force undocumented African migrants to “voluntarily” leave the country by the end of March or risk being detained. The plan would provide $3,500 to migrants to relocate to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. At the time, the UNHCR criticized the policy as one that left migrants in unsafe conditions. Israel’s high court blocked the policy’s implementation through a temporary order in mid-March.

*Huff Post

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AP Interview: Somaliland president defends UAE military deal
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By MALAK HARB*

Somalia’s breakaway northern region of Somaliland declared its independence nearly three decades ago, but despite having its own currency, parliament and military the predominantly Muslim country hasn’t been recognized by any foreign government.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi is hoping to change that by aligning his country’s interests with energy-rich Gulf Arab states eager to expand their military footprint in the Horn of Africa along the vital shipping corridor of Bab al-Mandeb, the entryway to the Red Sea for ships from Asia and oil tankers from the Gulf heading to Europe.

Speaking to The Associated Press in the capital, Hargeisa, on Tuesday, Abdi defended an agreement that allows the United Arab Emirates to establish a military base in Somaliland.

“Our government is not so strong and our zone needs to be protected,” he said. “I think we need a friendly country to have a cooperation with military security, we need it.”

Securing the Horn of Africa has become increasingly important for Gulf countries since March 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition launched a war against Iran-allied rebels in Yemen. On Tuesday, the coalition, which includes the UAE, said the rebels attacked a Saudi oil tanker in the Bab al-Mandeb strait, causing minor damage.

Abdi declined to disclose how many Emirati troops would be based in Somaliland or when construction of the base will be complete. The lease for the base is for 25 years.

“Yes, we are allied to the United Arab Emirates and to Saudi (Arabia),” Abdi said.

“All our business, main assets, are in Dubai. All our imports depend on United Arab Emirates, their ports,” he said. “We have relations of business and economic ties with them, so we are allies with them.”

Abdi, who won elections in November, spoke Tuesday from his office in Somaliland’s capital of Hergeisa, home to around 1 million people. Somaliland is far more peaceful than Somalia, where the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab group carries out frequent attacks.

Except for a Coca-Cola factory outside the largely impoverished city, there are no visible signs of multinational companies. The city, which moves without traffic lights, is not home to any major international hotel chains, American fast food restaurants or bustling shopping malls.

Instead, the country is capitalizing on its strategic location near Bab al-Mandeb.

Somaliland signed an agreement last year with one of the world’s largest port operators, DP World, to operate its Port of Berbera. The agreement with DP World, which is majority-owned by the Dubai government in the UAE, was signed the same year that the UAE’s plans to build a naval base in Berbera were revealed.

It’s the latest example of how DP World’s business dealings in East Africa increasingly mirror the UAE’s military expansion in the region.

The UAE, which is also reportedly building up a long-term military presence in Eritrea, is not the only country with troops in East Africa. Turkey opened a military base in Somalia last year. Neighboring Djibouti is home to a U.S. base that launches drone missions over Somalia and Yemen, as well as a Chinese military base and Japan’s first overseas base since World War II.

Last week, Somalia asked for the United Nations Security Council to intervene to stop the UAE from building the military base in Somaliland. Somalia said the agreement between the Gulf state and Somaliland, which it refers to as the “Northwestern Region of Somalia,” was made without the consent of Somalia’s government and is in “clear violation of international law.”

Somaliland’s minister of foreign affairs, Saad Ali Shire, said his country’s alliance with the UAE is a sign of the growing “realization that Somaliland should be recognized.”

“We feel that we have the right to be recognized. We have the right for self-determination under the U.N. charter,” Shire told the AP. “That’s a fact which I think everybody should recognize, and perhaps the UAE is finally coming around to recognize that fact as well.”

DP World’s recent expansion into Somaliland creates an alternative corridor for imports for landlocked Ethiopia, a country of 110 million people and the largest economy in the Horn of Africa. Cargo going to Ethiopia currently constitutes 15 percent of Berbera port’s operations.

DP World holds a 51 percent stake in the port, Somaliland holds a 30 percent stake and Ethiopia holds the remaining 19 percent.

DP World operations in Berbera threaten Djibouti’s near monopoly on Ethiopia’s imports and exports. Djibouti’s port provides Ethiopia with more than 95 percent of Ethiopia’s imports.

The deal with Somaliland prompted Djibouti to abruptly end DP World’s contract for its Doraleh container terminal in February.

DP World’s Berbera operations manager, Ali Ismail Mahamoud, acknowledged that the port is a competitor in East Africa. He spoke to the AP on a recent visit to the port.

“Whenever you open a port near another port which is close to it, definitely you have to be competitive. (We are) not purely competitive with Djibouti, but I would define it as we have to be competitive,” he said.

*AP

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Africa’s premier investment marketplace to accelerate continent’s economic transformation
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

To help Africa find the path to its long-deserved economic fortune, the African Development Bank is championing the region’s premier investment market.

The Bank is providing collaborative leadership for a new 100% transactional initiative – the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) – which provides Africa’s best opportunity so far to encourage accelerated economic transformation.

The African Development Bank is working with the world’s leading financial institutions to de-risk investment through the platform and make it a springboard for Africa’s economic transformation.

The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, told key Government and private sector leaders at a breakfast session on the sidelines of the 2018 Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan on March 27, 2018, that the AIF would be exclusively about transactions and investment deals.

“This is not a talk shop. There will be no political speeches. It provides an open platform to organise efforts among multilateral institutions, governments and private sector to improve a pipeline of projects capable of transforming the continent,” he said.

The first Africa Investment Forum will be held from November 7-9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It will then be held yearly to enable and facilitate interactions to broker and accelerate deals, for candid discussions with policy-makers to shape the business and regulatory environment, as well as to track the implementation of commitments.

Adesina noted that the cost of doing business in Africa is improving.

“Last year, and the year before, at least 30% of all the business and regulatory reforms that were done globally were not done in Asia. They were not in Latin America. They were done in Africa. If you look at what is happening in terms of foreign direct investments coming to Africa, it continues to rise. Why are they rising? This is because of the greater political stability that is found on the continent,” he said. “So there is a lot of optimism about our continent and in fact there is a discussion among our leaders towards an Africa beyond aid.”

He highlighted Africa’s human and material resources, stressing how they could be harnessed to make Africa the powerhouse of the world. “I think that the sovereign wealth of Africa is actually not being invested in Africa. It is being invested outside of Africa. And if Africa doesn’t invest enough, then who is going to invest? One of the reasons this happens is because people have a perception of risk. But the issue is not risk. It is about how you manage risk.”

On the AIF platform are the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, among others, who are working with the African Development Bank to set up a “mutualized co-guarantee platform” to de-risk investments.

“We also have those that are working on pipelines – Africa50 and others – that are very actively involved in this,” Adesina said.

Ghana’s Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, stressed that the bond market should be a strong part of the new move to mobilize resources for Africa’s economic transformation and lauded the idea of the African Development Bank and partners coming together through AIF to de-risk investment.

“The reality for the world is that Africa has to be, and will be, the best place to invest in future. What do we do for ourselves so that we unlock our own potential for investments? I think the emphasis now is on increasing infrastructure so that we open up the continent for investment opportunities to be properly exploited,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of one Africa’s largest distributor of consumer goods, Massmart, Kuseni Dlamini, called attention to the need for Africa to move from risk to opportunities and to take advantage of the many investment opportunities presented on the continent.

“The time to talk transaction is indeed now. I think that Africa has a lot to offer and we need to take advantage of opportunities,” he said.

Tigui Camara, Chief Executive Officer of Tigui Mining Company, said she was delighted that the African Development Bank was leading the investment initiative and called for more support for women in the informal sector.

Alain Ebobissé, the Chief Executive Officer of Africa50 – the Pan-African infrastructure investment platform – called on African Governments to create the right environment to attract investors to the continent.

The breakfast session was well attended by top Government officials, industry leaders and financial institutions, including the President of African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank), Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah.

The Africa Investment Forum will focus on improving the ease of doing business in Africa by advancing and promoting investment-friendly regulation. It will also champion ethical business practices in Africa.

*AFDB

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Ecobank mobile app reaches 4 million users milestone in Africa
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
The app builds on the core functionality that saw the original version applauded as a game changer for African banking
Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO

Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO

LOME, Togo, April 3, 2018/ — The upgraded version of Ecobank’s (www.Ecobank.com) revolutionary mobile app has attracted 3 million new customers in just 6 months, taking the total number of users to 4 million.

The app builds on the core functionality that saw the original version applauded as a game changer for African banking by using digital technology to combat many of the financial inclusion barriers faced by those on the continent. This includes the dearth of rural branches, affordability of products, high transaction costs and minimum opening balance requirements.

Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO, says Ecobank’s strategic mission is built around using mobile banking to deliver innovative, efficient and cost-effective services to those who have typically sat outside of the formal economy, and therefore goes far beyond the reach of the traditional branch and ATM networks. Subsequently, while the app won one million customers in its first year of launch, upgraded features have seen the rate of sign-ups treble in half of the time. So far this year, app usage has been growing at an average 700k new customers per month.

“Customers can use the app on their mobile to instantly open Ecobank Xpress Account™, which doesn’t have any account fees, paperwork or minimum balance requirements, or to send and receive money across 33 African countries,” he explains. “Therefore, our app not only removes the barriers that have financially excluded so many Africans but offers next generation functionality to help them send money, make withdrawals or pay for goods and services.”

Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive, Consumer Banking, says that Ecobank is committed to providing all Africans with access to financial services, but doing so in a way that conjoins functionality with convenient, accessible and efficient banking channels, such as the rollout of Ecobank Xpress  Point Agents.

Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive, Consumer Banking

Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive, Consumer Banking

“We want to be the digital bank of choice for all Africans,” he said. “Functionality is one thing – giving our customers unrivalled convenience is another. The Ecobank Xpress  Point Agents that can now be found in your local neighbourhood enable you to deposit money into your app-based Ecobank Xpress Account™ and begin to make digital payments on the app using Ecobankpay. You can also withdraw funds in local currency that may have been sent to you from friends or relatives using our innovative instant transfer or Xpress Cash capabilities.”

The Ecobank Mobile App is available for download from the Google Play Store or Apple Store.

About Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’ or ‘The Group’)
Incorporated in Lomé, Togo in 1988, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) (www.Ecobank.com) is the parent company of the leading independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank. It currently has a presence in 36 African countries, namely: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Group employs over 17,000 people in 40 different countries in over 1,200 branches and offices. Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals. Additional information on Ecobank can be found at www.Ecobank.com.

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Khama leaves the stage after a successful preservation of Botswana democracy
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Like his predecessors,Khama has set a new standard for African leaders to follow

Like his predecessors,Khama has set a new standard for African leaders to follow

On the 1st of April 2008, Ian Khama rose to assume the reigns of the most powerful office in Botswana. While giving his inauguration speech, Ian Khama stated that he never had the desire to become a President nor to assume a political office but was persuaded. He, however, acknowledged the task at hand, maintaining Africa’s best model of democracy and helping to improve the plight of the rural poor as had been done by his predecessor in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Ian Khama’s time in office was going to be a tough one and he knew it. In order to effectively address all of the areas that needed his attention, Ian Khama on his inauguration outlined the 5Ds i.e. Democracy, Discipline, Development, Dignity, and Delivery.

Assuming office, Ian Khama already had critics. Khama’s critics increased during the time when he was the country’s Vice President and the Minister for Presidential Affairs. During that time, he was termed an authoritarian who didn’t take kindly to opposition. In supporting their claims, critics cited the way he clamped down on ‘Dikgang tsa palamente.’ The programme aired the comments of MPs and encouraged debate among the populace. Khama also faced criticism in that he ordered without permission to be flown around the country by BDF choppers in violation of the BDF Act.

Despite his shortcomings during his time as the Vice President, Khama was determined to become a success during his time as President and this is how he leaves the country.

Domestically

On the political front, Khama strayed away from the status quo. Rather than leading in the way his predecessors had done in the past, Khama was more of an executive president who liked the executive ‘part’ of his job. Not clamping down on human rights or violating Botswana’s democracy, he ruled the country with a firm hand something Botswana citizens had not experienced before. Khama was media shy at least when it came to debates and other like events, during the times he would be covered by the media, often times he was visiting the rural poor playing to traditional songs and pampering them with goodies. While Botswana nationals had not been used to the firm hand Khama ruled with, he still managed to preserve the country’s democracy. Khama’s past as the commander of the BDF can be used in his defence for his firmness.

Economically, Ian Khama inherited an economy that was one of the biggest in Africa. Credit to him, he not only managed to maintain the strong economy but further developed it. Leaving Botswana on a far stronger standing, the country’s economy is expected to grow by 5.3 percent this year from last year’s 4.7 percent. The country’s economy has largely been aided by the recovery in the global economy in relation to mining.

On other fronts, Khama managed to do his bit in helping to stop the spread of rural poverty. Botswana’s disparity between the rich/middle class and the rural poor had been increasing for a decade or so before Khama’ tenure. Though he failed to eliminate rural poverty, the foundations he put in place will be a good start for his successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi. Khama also worked hard to electrify parts of rural Botswana which still relied on primitive energy such as firewood.

Internationally

While Khama’s firmness in Botswana may have resulted in him getting more enemies, the exact opposite did happen in the international sphere as his firmness made him more friends especially on the African continent. Khama was not shy to tell neighbouring Zimbabwe’s the then leader, Robert Mugabe that his time was up at a time when all other African presidents could not utter a word but instead showered the authoritarian leader with praises for his outspokenness.

Khama was not fazed by personality or the strength of a nation, while Zimbabwe’s new leader said his response to the US president, Donald Trump comments on Africa as a shithole continent was in solidarity with the African Union (AU)’s response and could not give his own (something also said by many other African countries), Khama took it upon himself to issue a strongly worded response to the US President.

In all, Ian Khama brought a new leadership style to Botswana politically, and even though some of the country’s citizens may not have liked it, all he did was for their good and benefit.

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A legacy like no other: Winnie Mandela 1936 to 2018
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela

South Africa’s anti-Apartheid icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died. Winnie who was the face of the blacks’ struggle against the ruthless white regime in pre-independent South Africa succumbed to a long illness at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg aged 81.

Victor Dlamini, the Madikizela family spokesman said Winnie who was affectionately known as the ‘Mother of the Nation’, “succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones” following a long illness, which had seen her go in and out of hospital since the start of the year.

Anti-Apartheid Activist- Before 1994

In 1936 in the small town of Bizana in Transkei (Eastern Cape), a girl by the name of Winnie Madikizela was born. Unbeknown to many at the time, Winnie was going to be the face of the struggle against white minority rule. When she reached the age of 22 in 1957, she met Nelson Mandela, a lawyer who was at the forefront in the fight against Apartheid. The two romantic flirtations grew quickly and they married a year later.

Their union was however cut short by the government as Nelson Mandela was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964. Left alone, Winnie was left with a daunting task, not just to look after the family but to champion for his husband’s release and to spearhead the campaign against Apartheid. For any other woman, this would have been a task too much to handle but not for the feisty Winnie. She took her newly found responsibilities with gusto.

Leading the struggle against white rule from the front, Winnie organised rallies and protests. Her action made her an enemy of the white government. She was ultimately arrested in 1976 and spent much of her time in prison in solitary confinement. In 1976, she was banished to a small town where she lived in solitary confinement.

The government thought they were going to break Winnie by putting her in solitary confinement. Instead, their actions only hardened the resolve of Winnie, she came out of prison more determined to fight her oppressors. In her own words after leaving prison, Winnie said, “ The years of imprisonment hardened me … Perhaps if you have been given a moment to hold back and wait for the next blow, your emotions wouldn’t be blunted as they have been in my case. When it happens every day of your life when that pain becomes a way of life … there is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn’t any pain I haven’t known.”

Start of the controversy

Winnie just like all other humans was not flawless, she was subjected to some criticism in her life. The first controversial moment came soon after her release from prison. While addressing thousands of Anti-Apartheid supporters in Soweto, she boldly stated that “Together, hand-in-hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.” This was in reference to necklacing, a painful method used by the ANC to eliminate those accused of treason amongst its ranks by inserting a petrol-filled burning tyre around the neck of a ‘sell-out’.

Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela

Winnie also had a team of personal bodyguards known as the Mandela United Football Team (MUFC). In 1989, Winnie’s MUFC was accused of killing a 14-year-old boy, Stompie Seipei. The case attracted wide media coverage but Winnie herself was found not guilty of murdering the young boy by the courts but was found guilty of a lesser crime, kidnapping. For her role, she was sentenced to 6 years in prison but did not serve the term as it was suspended for a fine.

Winnie had to face massive criticism for her role in the murder of Stompie Seipei but she vehemently denied any involvement. Perhaps the most severe criticisms came from revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu after South Africa had gained its independence in 1994 during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings. Tutu begged Winnie to apologise for Stompie’s death but she refused. Since that day, Winnie said she hasn’t forgiven Tutu for forcing her to apologise for an act she knew nothing about. Until her time of death, Winnie had not forgiven Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Winnie was however exonerated of any wrongdoing or involvement in Stompie’s death when Jerry Richardson, the team coach for Winnie’s MUFC confessed to murdering Stompie. Stompie and Richardson were allegedly police informers who also worked for Winnie. Richardson stated that he killed Stompie after he had threatened to expose him to Winnie. Richardson was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison but died in prison in 2009.

Winnie also had confrontations with the law later on in post-independent South Africa with the standout coming in 2005 when she was alleged to have defrauded a bank and involved in corrupt practises. She never faced jail time.

The last of Winnie’s feisty nature was seen during the xenophobic attacks of 2008 when foreigners in South Africa were subjected to torture. Winnie stood on the side of foreigners against the perpetrators of xenophobic violence.

Relationship with Nelson Mandela

Winnie and Nelson were married for 38 years but they spent much of that time separate as Nelson spent 27 years behind bars. The two divorced in 1996, two years after Nelson became South Africa’s first black president. The real reasons behind the divorce were never divulged but it’s suggested in some quarters that Winnie had become too radical for the reformed Nelson Mandela and that she was involved in an affair during the time Nelson was in jail. Winnie kept Nelson’s surname after the divorce and they both kept close contact with her visiting Nelson almost on a daily basis before his death in 2013.

The family of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is yet to release burial details.

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President Xi hails Mugabe’s successor as ‘old friend of China’
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ben Dooley*

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 (AFP Photo/Greg BAKER)

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 (AFP Photo/Greg BAKER)

President Xi Jinping greeted Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa as an “old friend” of China on Tuesday as the African leader visited Beijing, which previously backed his ousted predecessor Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa, who received military training in China when he was a young liberation fighter in the 1960s, was met with a military honour guard at the Great Hall of the People on his first state visit outside of Africa.

The two leaders oversaw the signing of six documents, including a letter on economic and development cooperation and another on emergency food assistance, as Mnanangwa seeks help from a major ally with historic ties to Zimbabwe.

“I heartily welcome President Mnangagwa on his visit to Beijing,” Xi said as the two sat down for talks.

“You are an old friend of China and I appreciate your efforts to develop relations in all areas,” he said.

Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa from his job as vice president in November over a succession tussle with the first lady Grace Mugabe, leading to a military intervention that culminated with the veteran president’s ousting and Mnangagwa taking office.

The country’s then-army chief, General Constantino Chiwenga, had visited Beijing shortly before the military action, leading to questions about whether China had any role in the power transfer.

Chiwenga was named vice president in December. China denied it played any part in the transition.

Beijing had long been one of Mugabe’s most powerful allies and a major trade partner, as the West shunned him over his government’s human rights violations, but it avoided publicly taking sides during his ousting.

“Last November Zimbabwe achieved a peaceful, smooth transfer of power that was broadly recognised by the international community,” Xi said.

“I am willing to work with Mr. president (Mnangagwa) to jointly map out our future cooperation and write a new chapter in China-Zimbabwe relations for the benefit of our two peoples.”

Mnangagwa, wearing a scarf in the the colours of Zimbabwe’s flag, told Xi he appreciated China’s “political support and goodwill” following the “peaceful political transition in Zimbabwe”.

– ‘Socialism with Zimbabwean characteristics’ –

Mnangagwa has also been accused of playing a key role in his mentor Mugabe’s authoritarian regime that left the economy in ruins and under sanctions.

He was targeted by EU and US measures imposed on Mugabe and his close allies over violence and intimidation during Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The visit comes as China takes a more proactive role in Africa, where it has long invested in infrastructure projects and sought resources. It has recently built its first overseas military base in Djibouti.

Relations between China and Zimbabwe date back to the liberation struggle of the 1960s, when Beijing provided arms and trained some of the top guerrilla leaders including Mnangagwa.

Before his arrival on Monday, Mnangagwa told China’s official Xinhua news agency that his trip was aimed at thanking Xi and the Chinese people for supporting his country “during the hard times when the West imposed sanctions on us”.

He said he would seek to sell Zimbabwe as a destination for Chinese investment and take part in economic forums aimed at attracting business to the country.

Zimbabwe was China’s largest foreign supplier of tobacco, with some 40 percent of the product imported by the Asian country coming from the African nation.

China also set up a joint venture with Zimbabwe in a diamond mining company, but Mugabe announced the nationalisation of the nation’s diamond mines in 2016.

Chinese companies have also been involved in projects to install a cellular phone network, expand a hydropower station and build a coal-fired power plant.

Mnangagwa will meet Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday, then visit the eastern provinces of Anhui and Zhejiang before his visit ends on Friday.

The Zimbabwean leader gave a nod to his host’s political philosophy, “Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”

“I will take this mantra to Zimbabwe and hope to develop some socialism in Zimbabwe with Zimbabwean characteristics,” he said.

*AFP

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Veteran Egypt goalkeeper El-Hadary eyes World Cup history
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Tarek Talaat

Egypt's Essam El-Hadary, 45, would become the oldest man to play at a World Cup if he features at Russia 2018

Egypt’s Essam El-Hadary, 45, would become the oldest man to play at a World Cup if he features at Russia 2018

Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who at 45 could become the oldest man to play at a World Cup, says he hopes his story inspires others to follow their dreams.

El-Hadary is desperate to make Egypt’s squad for Russia where he hopes to make his World Cup debut.

“I’m very happy to play at the World Cup, and that is a message to all footballers and others around the world, that you should believe in your dreams and fight to make them come true,” El-Hadary told BBC Sport.

“My age is 45 years old, but for me, this is just a number on paper.

“I train hard every day, I don’t know what the word ‘impossible’ means. I will keep fighting until the World Cup to have the chance to play and defend my homeland colours,” he added.

Faryd Mondragon of Colombia became the oldest man to play at the World Cup when he featured against Japan in Brazil in 2014 aged 43 years and 3 days.

El-Hadary, who currently plays for Al-Taawoun FC in the Saudi Professional League, says his late father’s memory is pushing him to break that record.

“My father who passed away told me that his dream is to watch me playing at a World Cup and I want to make my dad proud.

“I’ve won many titles, but I have not played at a World Cup and this is the dream I want to make true, that is my main objective.”

Egypt team
Essam El-Hadary was part of the Egypt side which beat Congo Brazzaville 2-1 to qualify for the Russia World Cup.

Egypt qualified for the World Cup thanks to a 95th minute penalty from Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in a 2-1 victory over Congo Brazzaville.

El-Hadary says Salah’s phenomenal season has motivated the whole Egyptian side.

“I’m so proud of what Mohamed Salah keeps doing – he’s started a new era for Egyptian players.

“He changed the way that Egyptian players think and now many players have decided to search for clubs in Europe – even small clubs.

“They want to follow in Salah’s steps because what he’s done will make many clubs around the world trust in Egyptian players.”

Egypt have been drawn in Group A for the World Cup where they will face hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

“All the teams in our group are very strong. Saudi Arabia is an Arabic team and our matches with them will be very interesting, so it will not be easy.

“Russia will play in front of their fans and in their grounds, and when you talk about Uruguay you talk about an amazing team and big names like Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez, so it will not be easy at all.”

*BBC

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Martin Luther King Jr.’s work still resonates across Africa
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
By RODNEY MUHUMUZA*
In this undated photo supplied by the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. on display at the embassy in Pretoria South Africa. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa on streets, schools, even a bridge in Burkina Faso. It is a measure of the influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad. (Chris Marais/US Embassy South Africa via AP)

In this undated photo supplied by the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. on display at the embassy in Pretoria South Africa. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa on streets, schools, even a bridge in Burkina Faso. It is a measure of the influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad. (Chris Marais/US Embassy South Africa via AP)

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Streets. Schools. A bridge in Burkina Faso. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa, a measure of the global influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad.

A school for poor children that is named after King in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, took as its motto, “Have a Dream,” borrowing a line from one of King’s most famous speeches.

“Martin Luther King stood for human rights and equality, so we wanted a way of inspiring and motivating our students,” said Robert Mpala, the school’s founder.

In rural Liberia, a West African nation founded by freed American slaves, one official spoke proudly of a privately owned Martin Luther King School. “Martin Luther King was a great man. We still follow his dream,” said J. Maxime Bleetahn, director of communications at the Ministry of Education.

Africa’s push for independence from colonialism, which mirrored King’s own movement for racial equality in America, attracted the civil rights leader’s attention and support.

King first set foot on the continent in March 1957 to attend celebrations marking the West African nation of Ghana’s independence from Britain.

After he returned to Africa in November 1960 to attend the inauguration of Nigeria’s first president, King said African leaders had told him “in no uncertain terms that racism and colonialism must go, for they see the two as based on the same principle.”

The parallels between King’s efforts and Africans’ quest for independence were perhaps strongest in apartheid-era South Africa, where racist laws oppressed the majority black community for decades.

In December 1965 King delivered a speech in New York denouncing South Africa’s white rulers as “spectacular savages and brutes” and called on the U.S. and Europe to boycott the nation, a strategy the West eventually embraced and that helped end white rule.

King was unable to visit South Africa after being denied a visa. But years later a bust of King was slipped secretly — by diplomatic pouch — into a South Africa still in the grip of apartheid.

American sculptor Zenos Frudakis said the U.S. government approached him about creating a bust of King that would be installed in South Africa for “political impact.” As it was barred by South Africa’s government from being displayed in a public space, the sculpture was dedicated in 1989 at the U.S. Embassy, visible to people outside the embassy fence.

People who were part of the struggle against apartheid spoke at the sculpture’s dedication, and Frudakis said he was impressed “as they were risking their lives to bring equality and freedom to everyone in South Africa.”

Today, the bust of King remains on display in a vastly different South Africa, which was transformed after anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was freed from prison in 1990 and elected the country’s first black president four years later.

Mandela was keenly aware of King’s contribution to equal rights and mentioned him when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize along with South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, F.W. de Klerk, in 1993.

“Let the strivings of us all prove Martin Luther King Jr. to have been correct when he said that humanity can no longer be tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war,” Mandela said. The Nelson Mandela Foundation plans to mark the anniversary of King’s assassination.

King’s inspirational speeches on love and justice, as well as his insistence on non-violent resistance, continue to resonate among some intellectuals and political activists in Africa, where many countries are now ruled by strongmen or democracy is in decline.

The civil rights leader was frequently cited by Ugandan activists last year as lawmakers moved to pass a bill that could keep the longtime president in power for many years more.

“We as a nation must recognize what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the ‘the fierce urgency of now,'” one opposition activist, Mugisha Muntu, said at the time. “We too must make our voices heard.”

*AP

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African Migrants in Israel Will Be Deported to Western Countries Instead of Africa. Where Will They Go?
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Cristina Maza*

African migrants and Israelis demonstrate in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on February 24, 2018, against the Israeli government's policy to forcibly deport African refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda. JACK GUEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

African migrants and Israelis demonstrate in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on February 24, 2018, against the Israeli government’s policy to forcibly deport African refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda.
JACK GUEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Israel has scrapped a controversial plan to forcibly deport African migrants back to Africa— and struck an agreement with the United Nations to send the asylum seekers to Western countries instead.

The news comes after African refugees and human rights defenders staged weeks of protests, arguing that migrants sent back to Africa could face violence or other abuses.  The agreement announced Monday will send 16,000 African asylum seekers to Western countries such as Canada, Italy and Germany.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates that there are around 38,000 African asylum seekers currently in Israel, the majority of whom are from Eritrea and Sudan. Asylum seekers who are not relocated to Western countries will be permitted to stay in Israel for the next five years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

The announcement is a significant departure from the policies Netanyahu had touted just a month ago. Israel had told thousands of African migrants in February that they had to leave the country by April or they would be sent to prison. Israeli officials had said they would give migrants around $3,500 each to leave, either to their home country or to a third country in Africa like Uganda or Rwanda.

Netanyahu’s right-wing government had also dubbed the migrants “infiltrators” and argued that they were economic migrants seeking better opportunities instead of genuine refugees fleeing violence and persecution.

Some experts say that Netanyahu was pressured by far-right elements in his coalition government to expel the migrants in order to maintain the Jewish character of Israel. Demographics have been a point of contention in Israel since its founding, and some extremist elements advocate for non-Jews to be expelled from the country.

Human rights groups, however, challenged the government’s deportation plans in court. On March 15, Israel’s High Court issued a temporary ban on the deportation plan. Experts say that Monday’s announcement proves that civil society can make a difference when it comes to shifting public policy.

“Policy shifts like this can be surprising when they happen, but they underscore a key lesson. Pressure from civil society can make a difference,” Martin Edwards, a diplomacy expert at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, told Newsweek. “Elected governments want to avoid looking bad as much as possible, and the optics of this were not favorable for the Netanyahu government. It’s a good lesson for activists around the world to learn: pressure can make a difference.”

*Newsweek

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