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African Youth to African Leaders: “You Must Do More to End Conflicts in Africa”
June 17, 2016 | 0 Comments
Dlamini Zuma

Dlamini Zuma

AFRICAN leaders are not doing enough to stop conflicts in Africa, said two-thirds of the nearly 86,000 youth surveyed in a recent mobile-based poll conducted in nine African countries.

Using a messaging tool called U-Report, the short survey was sent to 1.4 million mobile users in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Central African Republic, Senegal, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Guinea, from 18 May to 1 June 2016.

The U-Report users surveyed, who are typically between 15 and 30 years of age, were asked to provide their opinion on conflicts and crises in Africa through short multiple choice questions on their mobile phones.

The findings of the survey will be shared with African leaders on the Day of the African Child, which is marked every year on June 16 by the African Union.

“It is so crucial, and even urgent for the leaders to heed the voices of the youth, if we must silence the guns by 2020, as set in our Agenda 2063. This is flagship project to which the youth must also recognize their role and take their responsibility,” said the African Union Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Key findings:

  • Asked whether African leaders are doing enough to stop conflicts and crises in Africa, two out of three respondents (70 per cent) believe that African leaders are not doing enough.
  • When asked why Africa is more prone to conflict than other regions, 56 per cent of respondents believe that ‘politicians fighting for power’ is the main reason while 19 per cent said ‘inequality’, 17 per cent said ‘poverty’ and 4 per cent said ‘access to food and water’.
  • What can leaders do to stop conflicts? Nearly a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) said a ‘strong economy’ while 20 per cent believe African countries needs to be more independent in their ‘foreign policy’, 19 per cent said investing in ‘good education’, 14 per cent said ‘talk to each other’, 10 per cent said ‘talk to other country’ and 9 per cent said ‘security’.

Humanitarian crises in Africa continue to spill over borders in recent years, with children and families increasingly on the move. More than 1.2 million people face insecurity in the Central African Republic due to a complex humanitarian and protection crisis that has spread to neighbouring countries. Nearly 1.3 million children have been displaced by violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency across Cameroon, Chad, the Niger and Nigeria. Two years into the conflict in South Sudan, nearly 2.4 million people have fled their homes, including 721,000 living as refugees. Burundi is facing a protection crisis that has driven some 265,000 people to flee across borders.

“The lives of millions of children and their families are disrupted, upended or destroyed by conflict every year in Africa,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “This survey speaks to every child’s right to be heard and gives African youth an opportunity to express their hopes for the future of their continent.”

U-Report is a social messaging tool available in 23 countries, including 15 African countries, allowing users to respond to polls, report issues and work as positive agents of change on behalf of people in their country. Once someone has joined U-Report, polls and alerts are sent via Direct Message and real-time responses are collected and mapped on a website, where results and ideas are shared back with the community.

*Real Magazine

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DreamAfrica: Telling authentic Africa stories
June 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

DreamAfrica is a platform through which the old tradition of African storytelling is preserved and the telling of new stories is facilitated. It is also a common entertainment and educational platform in the household and school.

By Brenda Lare*

DreamAfrica EXPERIENCE PhotoThe way stories form ideologies that influence our attitudes about life is an interesting phenomenon. Our perceptions of stories often seem to direct our perceptions of life.

Upon consumption of stories the ‘tabula rasa’ is consequently filled up with symbolic images, text and information that can ultimately leave a significant impression upon our minds, emotions and actions. Thus, our consistent encounters with particular stories can subtly structure our lives and understanding of the world, sometimes to our detriment, as Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie cautions with “the danger of a single story.”

Indeed, as stories generally contribute in shaping our reality, a single story can taint and distort it. A single story about an individual, culture and society can not only breed misunderstanding but also nurture discord, stereotypes and xenophobia among a diverse populace. A single story denies individuals an experience of authenticity.

According to Chimamanda, many people particularly from the West identify with the misrepresented story of Africa “the single story of catastrophe.”

This is a common view expressed by many Africans across the globe and acknowledged by those from other regions who have had the opportunity to visit and reside in this rich and beautiful continent. Africa is a continent rich in tales of courage, honesty, loyalty, communion and optimism among many other virtues, yet these stories never see the light of day in most global mainstream media.

The time has come for Africa to recount its own narrative for the world to experience its authenticity amidst conventional tales of despair framed as its sole brand.

On 10 May 2016, a group of African journalists gathered in Nairobi for a workshop on online reporting whose theme was “Telling Africa’s Story on the Web”. The workshop was the brainchild of Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla the head of Catholic News Agency for Africa (CANAA) and his team. They had a vision and invited like-minded journalists to discuss how they could play their role in bringing Africa’s authentic story to light.

One of the ways discussed was highlighting and collaborating in forums that feature Africa in its authentic state. As the discussions progressed, the DreamAfrica app became a topic for dialogue as this digital storytelling platform is already in operation unearthing the myriad of hidden tales from Africa as narrated by Africans.

DreamAfrica is a platform through which the old tradition of African storytelling is preserved and the telling of new stories is facilitated. It is also a common entertainment and educational platform in the household and school. DreamAfrica was co-created by two young Africans – Brian Asingia from Uganda and Franco Abbot from Kenya. The two met at Lafayette College in the United States and had a conversation about the role they could play in the future of Africa before deciding to create DreamAfrica.

Africa’s wealth of stories is distributed and shared “through an application that features e- books, audio-books and video animations from renowned authors all across Africa” says Franco Abbot, CTO of the company.

Torin Perez, the organization’s Global Product Evangelist says he loves the project because DreamAfrica “is about changing the single story of Africa…it is a place where people can come to get culturally relevant content from all over the continent, families can come to enjoy multimedia stories and schools can benefit by integrating them into their teachings in the classroom.”

DreamAfrica is not only a storytelling platform but also a digital literacy tool that can be used in primary schools to enhance creative learning as the world’s demands for 21st century skills increases. “80% percent of brain development and early learning happens between 0-5 years of age. We are focused on providing knowledge and information to children 12 years and under through schools and families globally because a diverse global community needs a diverse global education that starts in early childhood development so as to address challenges of identity, culture and global connectedness,” says CEO Brian Asingia.

In Kenya, schools can benefit from the relevant Kenyan Institute of Curriculum Development approved content ready for integration in the classroom across subjects. As children learn using this tool, teachers can facilitate their development of core skills that will be necessary for their future success.

In collaboration with various entities, the DreamAfrica team organized a teachers training workshop on 26 and 27 April 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. During this workshop teachers were introduced to the creative learning process that’s possible utilizing the content available on the DreamAfrica digital application.

Many of the beneficiaries of this training expressed their appreciation for DreamAfrica. Henry Matheka, a teacher at Langata West Primary School, Nairobi, says that DreamAfrica “actually makes learning more interesting to the child, more captivating to make the child hands on for the lesson…the child is not bored, the child feels one with the teacher.”

One attendee from Discovery Learning Alliance said “the aspect of making learning interesting is one of the things that I think will really capture the attention of learners and storytelling and how this can be used to teach other subjects is just amazing…it cuts out the monotony of teacher chalk teacher talk process”.

In realizing the aspirations of many, such as Chimamanda and the journalists at the online reporting workshop, DreamAfrica seeks to present an authentic narrative of Africa.

“I want it to be the one place where you can come and experience storytelling in an authentic way. The story is brought to life and this is the old tradition of African storytelling. We want to connect the authors in Africa and the Diaspora to a global audience”, states Franco Abbot in expressing the vision of DreamAfrica.

Thankfully, he is not alone in this vision. Recently at the 2016 African Economic Forum held at Columbia University, African philanthropist and founder of United Bank for Africa Tony Elumelu, remarked that DreamAfrica is “An example of African solutions to African problems. It doesn’t come better than this.” Selected in the inaugural class of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP) in 2015, we all hope the future only gets brighter for this organization and the vision it serves.

* Pambazuka.Brenda Lare is a student of Social Communication at Tangaza University College, Nairobi, Kenya. She recently began an internship at DreamAfrica and got inspired by the role the company is playing in shaping Africa’s future.

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Africa Is Now Host To Historic Number Of Refugees
June 8, 2016 | 0 Comments

The continent is housing more than a quarter of the world’s displaced people.

By Eleanor Goldberg*

OBIAS SCHWARZ VIA GETTY IMAGES People from Somalia are silhouetted in sunlight as they leave a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees near the village of Idomeni, not far from the Greek-Macedonian border, on April 30, 2016. Some 54,000 people, many of them fleeing the war in Syria, have been stranded on Greek territory since the closure of the migrant route through the Balkans in February. / AFP / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

People from Somalia are silhouetted in sunlight as they leave a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees near the village of Idomeni, not far from the Greek-Macedonian border, on April 30, 2016.
Some 54,000 people, many of them fleeing the war in Syria, have been stranded on Greek territory since the closure of the migrant route through the Balkans in February. / AFP / TOBIAS SCHWARZ (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Images of Syrians losing their lives while taking desperate measures to escape have effectively awakened the world to the refugee crisis.

But the Syrian civil war is just one of a number of conflicts that’s contributing to the highest rates of displaced people on record.

In Africa, more than 18 million people have been forcibly displaced. That’s more than a quarter of the total worldwide and the most the continent has seen in its history, according to the World Bank.

In Africa alone, eight conflicts have erupted or have been reignited since 2010 in such countries as Libya, Mali and South Sudan. As a result, there was a 17 percent spike in displaced people in Sub-Saharan Africa from 2014 to last year, according to UNHCR.

To help prevent future conflicts and foster development in fractured regions, the World Bank and six other multilateral development banks committed to bringing funds and programs to affected regions in Africa.

The World Bank announced the initiative at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul last month. It approved “credits” totaling nearly $250 million this fiscal yearto provide support for refugees, internally displaced people, returnees and their host communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Great Lakes Region, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Uganda in the Horn of Africa and Zambia.

Together with the six other banks involved, the World Bank is going to work to collect improved data on the issue, devise innovative financing mechanisms and work on country-level engagements.

In Zambia, for example, the project is working to fully integrate former refugees by granting residency and access to lands rights.

In the Horn of Africa, they’ll work to develop “social cohesion” between host communities and the displaced populations by providing opportunities to make joint decisions on development priorities.

TONY KARUMBA VIA GETTY IMAGES Refugees gather to watch the arrival of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres at IFO-2 complex of the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp on May 8, 2015. Dadaab refugee camp currently houses some 350,000 people and for more than 20 years has been home to generations of Somalis who have fled their homeland wracked by conflicts. But Kenya’s government asked the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to close the camp after an attack on Kenyas Garissa University by Somalia-based Al-Shabaab gunmen in April, whom are suspected to have planned and launched their attack from the camp. AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA

Refugees gather to watch the arrival of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres at IFO-2 complex of the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp on May 8, 2015. Dadaab refugee camp currently houses some 350,000 people and for more than 20 years has been home to generations of Somalis who have fled their homeland wracked by conflicts. But Kenya’s government asked the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to close the camp after an attack on Kenyas Garissa University by Somalia-based Al-Shabaab gunmen in April, whom are suspected to have planned and launched their attack from the camp. AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

The World Bank has also called for an alternative to refugee camps, saying they “aren’t the answer in the long term.”

That statement comes at a time when experts remain divided over the closing of all refugee camps in Kenya. 

The country made the announcement last month, a decision which would displace 600,000 people, CNN reported.

The government said the decision was motivated by the “very heavy” economic, security and environmental burdens of the camps.

A number of humanitarian aid groups, including Doctors Without Borders, came out against the decision.

“We see these different examples of people being pushed back into crises,” Jason Cone, executive director of Doctors Without Borders, told HuffPost in May of the decision to close the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. “For us, that’s really tearing at the fabric of the most basic protections that international law, and the conventions, that most states have joined are responsible to uphold.”

Daadab has been home to about 350,000 Somali refugees. 

Cone was speaking to HuffPost about the organization’s decision to pull out of the World Humanitarian Summit due to concerns that the event wouldn’t effectively address pressing human rights issues.

Still, the World Bank remains hopeful about the disposition of people residing in refugee camps and of their prospects for the future.

“Despite the hardships, many long-term camps are buzzing with activity,” Vara Vemuru, World Bank senior social development specialist, said in a statement, “a place where people are concerned about today, yet hopeful about tomorrow.”

*Huffpost

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Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Elected First Female Chair of ECOWAS
June 6, 2016 | 0 Comments

By CHARLES AYITEY*

(Photo: www.ibtimes.co.uk)

(Photo: www.ibtimes.co.uk)

Liberia’s president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has once again broken the gender-ceiling  by making history as the first female elected chairperson of the Economy of West African States (ECOWAS).

During the 49th ECOWAS Heads of State Meeting in Dakar, Senegal on Saturday, Madam Sirleaf  was elected by her fellow presidents and is expected to succeed Senegalese president Macky Sall, whose term in office as head of ECOWAS  2015  draws to a close.

The summit was attended by all heads of state from member countries with the exception of Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, José Mário Vaz of Guinea Bissau, Muhammadou Buhari of Nigeria, and Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of Togo. 

The leaders discussed important issues such as the protracted cases of political insecurity, peace and security, pre and post election violence, the border dispute between Gambia and Senegal, and terrorism.

Meanwhile, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has pledged to work towards the achievement of the regional community’s Vision 2020, which among other things includes the achievement of a single currency policy for the sub-region.

The Liberian president takes the mantle following the declaration of her country free from the deadly outbreak of Ebola which ravaged the West African economy in 2014. 

A woman of stature and power, Ellen Sirleaf is revered not just as one of the most powerful women in the world but also the  “Iron Lady” or “Ma Ellen” of Liberia, considering the strides chalked in rebuilding a broken Liberia after 14 years of civil war and also placing value on the country’s falling economy through prudent fiscal policies. 

*Face2Face Africa

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Madam president? Ellen Johnson Sirleaf knows the job. Now she’d like some company.
June 3, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Krissah Thompson*

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf enters the room quietly.

“Madam President, would you like to sit here?” an aide asks, motioning to a love seat in the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown suite that is serving as a makeshift office for the Liberian leader.

Sirleaf, at Politics & Prose bookstore Tuesday, has become a symbol of women’s rise to power far beyond her nation of 4.5 million people. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Sirleaf, at Politics & Prose bookstore Tuesday, has become a symbol of women’s rise to power far beyond her nation of 4.5 million people. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

At 77, she still holds herself rigidly upright, head adorned with a regal swirl of fabric. She is president of Liberia, a West African nation roughly the size of Tennessee, and one of the few madam presidents the world has ever seen. Elected to the office a decade ago as the first woman to lead an African nation’s government, Sirleaf finds herself “always a bit lonely” at meetings of the continent’s leaders.

“There is not another woman that you can huddle with and plan your strategies with, and certainly you can’t do what the men do,” she says, during an interview between a flurry of Washington meetings. “You’re not going to go out and have beer together. . . . You keep saying, ‘Oh jeez, there are 30 of them, and I alone.’ ”

Her place as one of the few women to attain the presidency has given her a reach far beyond her nation’s 4.5 million citizens. In Liberia she is known as “The Iron Lady” or “Ma Ellen,” but across the globe, Sirleaf has become symbolic of the burgeoning ascendancy of African women, a legacy for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2011, along with two other female leaders.

She drew an avid crowd Tuesday night to Politics & Prose bookstore, where she helped to promote a book by Riva Levinson, her longtime D.C. lobbyist, whose “Choosing the Hero” chronicles Sirleaf’s path to the presidency. At the reading, a man asked Sirleaf what she would tell the next U.S. president when “he takes office.”

She!” shouted the bookish audience, booing his use of the male pronoun.

Naturally, Sirleaf is interested in the possibility of a woman taking the helm of the most powerful nation in the world.

“In Liberia — a country, by tradition, male-dominated over all the years of [its] existence — women have always played a lesser role, an unimportant role,” Sirleaf says flatly. “My coming into leadership gave women much more of their own power.”

Sirleaf, who has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard and served as a government minister in the 1970s before a coup forced her into exile for several years, ran for president with a reputation as an unflappable technocrat. In the final year of her second six-year term, one would expect her to feel free to express herself — but Sirleaf was initially reluctant to weigh in on the complicated mess of the 2016 U.S. presidential race. (“I didn’t want to get into politics,” she demurs when asked about it.)

Still, her facial expressions do not mask her feelings very well. Allowing that the world expects the next U.S. president to “be presidential,” she frowns a little and raises her eyebrows, without actually uttering Donald Trump’s name.

Later, she notes that Hillary Clinton is a friend, someone she has been able to personally call. Clinton, in turn, has pointed to the leadership of Sirleaf and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as models of achievement. Message: Other countries have been led by women without falling apart.

Sirleaf is credited with rebuilding her nation and maintaining peace following 14 years of civil war that preceded her election. After a rocky start, she also helped lead the nation out of the Ebola crisis in 2014, and she says the nation’s economy has begun to grow.

The nation’s poverty rates, although lower than when Sirleaf took office, are still high, and a recent report by the nonprofit Global Witness found widespread bribery throughout the government. Sirleaf was not implicated and says those who were will stand trial.

Sirleaf, at right, with fellow 2001 Nobel Peace Prize winners Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist, and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen. (Fredrik Varfjell/AP)

Sirleaf, at right, with fellow 2001 Nobel Peace Prize winners Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist, and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen. (Fredrik Varfjell/AP)

While Liberians recognized her election as a milestone and say that it has encouraged other women to rise throughout government, the novelty has worn off, says Elwood Dunn, a retired professor living in Tennessee who is serving on Liberia’s constitutional reform committee.

“Over time, the emphasis has been more on her performance in office, the public policies she has advanced, and how she has fared in terms of trying to lead a post-conflict country,” says Dunn, “. . . more than her person.”

Is that a form of progress?

Despite Trump’s talk of a “woman’s card,” the irony in 2016 is that the potential history-making moment of Clinton clinching the Democratic nomination and possibly ascending to the presidency is barely noticed anymore. Pollsters have found that Clinton’s gender is not a determining factor for U.S. voters.

“The reasons that people find [Clinton] unappealing are not because she’s a woman. The reasons people find her appealing are not because she’s a woman,” says Jennifer Lawless, the director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University. “That’s not to say that for some segment of the population [gender is] not relevant, but we’ve reached the point where it is usually not decisive.”

Sirleaf inspects an honor guard in Monrovia with a visiting President George W. Bush in 2008. “There is not another woman that you can huddle with and plan your strategies with,” she says of many gatherings with world leaders. “You’re not going to go out and have beer together.” (Jim Young/Reuters)

Sirleaf inspects an honor guard in Monrovia with a visiting President George W. Bush in 2008. “There is not another woman that you can huddle with and plan your strategies with,” she says of many gatherings with world leaders. “You’re not going to go out and have beer together.” (Jim Young/Reuters)

Sirleaf understands that American voters are operating in a different context than the environment in which she rose to power. She is of a generation in Africa in which rule by “strong men” and warlords wreaked havoc on women’s lives. Women were victims in the war — their children forced to fight as boy soldiers, their daughters raped, their livelihoods threatened. When she ran for office the rallying cry in the streets was “Ellen, She’s Our Man!” recalls Levinson. The slogan was a clear rebuke of the men who ruled before her.

Now, the early stages of the campaign for Liberia’s next president have begun, and nearly two dozen are expected to compete. At this point not one candidate is female. Sirleaf, rising from the sofa in her hotel suite, says she is not bothered by this.

“With the freedoms we have created, Liberia cannot retrogress,” she says. “The tradition of male domination in Liberia has been punctured.”

With that, Madam President takes her leave.

*Source Washington Post

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New Book Highlights “The Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders”
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Dr. Roland Holou*

bookMany books have been written about people of African descent, but so far no single volume has highlighted the lives, visions, achievements, policies, and strategies of exceptional contemporary African Diaspora leaders across the globe. To fill the gap, an International Selection Committee composed of some of the top African diaspora Leaders in the Caribbean, Europe, North America, South America, and West Africa was created to nominate and vet recipients of “The Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders Honor.” For the first edition of this book, 30 leaders were featured in detail and out of the 50 chapters of this 336 page book, one was devoted to each. Others chapters were devoted to one hundred other nominees whose contribution warranted their inclusion in this book.

The stories of these Leaders showcase the diversity, complexity, and richness of the ongoing global African Diaspora engagement efforts. Their experiences of struggle, failure, growth and success will motivate current and future generations of people of African descent to take initiative, provide guidance to those interested in Africa’s development, and promote interest in the growing field of diaspora engagement. The featured leaders are known for their long-lasting achievements. Their bold actions contributed to important historical movements that significantly shaped and transformed the lives and history of people of African descent and removed major roadblocks preventing the prosperity of Africa and its Diaspora. They have brought about enormous and rare progress that would have been impossible without their leadership, including economic and political development of Africa and its Diaspora. To get your copy of the book, please visit www.AfricanDiasporaLeaders.com/order

Dr. Roland Holou

Dr. Roland Holou

Some of the initiatives featured in the book include the African Union African Diaspora Sixth Region Initiative, Healthcare Reform in Africa, Pan-Africanism, Global Anti-Racism Initiatives, International Decade for People of African Descent, Implementation of the UN Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; the Commission on Reparations, the Hebrew Israelites, the Initiatives of the Central American Black Organization; the World Diaspora Fund For Development; the Projects of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century; the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe, the Pan-African Holiday Kwanzaa; the Educational Initiatives of Steve Biko Cultural Institute in Brazil, the Initiatives of DiasporaEngager concerning the Map of the Diaspora and their Stakeholders, the Diaspora Directory and the Global Diaspora Social Media Platform; the Initiatives of the African Diaspora in Australia and Asia Pacific; the AU Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus Organization in the USA; the “Taubira Law” Voted by the French Republic to Recognize that the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean are a Crime Against Humanity; The Global Movement for Reparatory Justice; the Ratification of the Article 3q of the AU Constitutive Act which “invites and encourages the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of Africa; the Economic Development for Black Empowerment in America and Europe; the African Diaspora Contribution to Democracy and Development in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America; the Initiatives of the Brazilian Association of Black Researchers; the Oprah Effect; the Promotion of the Black Population in Brazil; the Palmares Cultural Foundation in Brazil; the Celebrations of Zumbi dos Palmares in Brazil; the Caribbean Community [CARICOM] Commission on Reparation and Social Justice; the Initiatives of famous Prophet Shepherd Bushiri (Major1, the World’s Sharpest Major Prophet), and many initiatives in the USA, etc.

Some of the struggles still faced by the African Diaspora and discussed in the book relate to: Afrophobia, civil rights, denial of justice and devaluation of Black lives, education with curricula full of “lies” regarding history and history of scientific discoveries, healthcare problems, high rates of unemployment and imprisonment, housing problems, institutional racism and slavery, lack of access to good education and justice, media which persistently diffuse open racist stereotypes, multiple forms of discrimination, police violence, political and economic marginalization and stigmatization, poverty, racial discrimination, vulnerability to violence, xenophobia and related intolerance and discrimination. The book also addressed some of the strategical mistakes and divisions among the Continental African Diaspora and the Historical African Diaspora.

 

If you are interested in learning the secrets, agendas, strategies and potential of these modern leaders, then this is the book for you. Since influence can at times have negative effects, this book also addresses the destructive actions of certain leaders that are pulling down both Africa and its people. To learn more about the recipients, please visit www.AfricanDiasporaLeaders.com/recipient. Join the International Diaspora Engagement Social Media Platform today by creating a free account .

About the Author

Dr. Roland Holou is a scientist, businessman, and an international consultant in Agriculture/Agribusiness, Biotechnology, Diaspora Engagement, and Africa Development. He is the Founder and CEO of DiasporaEngager, www.DiasporaEngager.com and the architect of the map of Diaspora and their stakeholders . To learn more about him and contact him www.RolandHolou.com.

 

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The Africa We Want -The Leadership We Want! Where are the eagles?
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

We should not allow the chickens to lead the eagles even if the chickens convince themselves that they’re actually eagles!

 Yohannes Mezgebe


Yohannes Mezgebe

From 10 – 18 July 2016, African leaders will be meeting in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda for the 27thOrdinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU). A key highlight of the forthcoming summit will be the election of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC). The winner, he or she, will lead the continental body for the next four years, renewable once.

The AU was founded, as a premier continental institution for the promotion of accelerated socio-economic and political integration of the continent; not just as the level of countries or governments, but also by forging greater bonds amongst citizens of Africa.

To give expression to the above imperatives, the African Union Commission (AUC) of the AU is tasked to serve as the crucial administrative hub for driving and achieving the numerous mandates; including the implementation of Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. The Commission is, in particular, envisaged to be the key organ responsible for the day-to-day management of the affairs of the Union. It represents the Union; the yearnings and aspirations of member states, and also defends the continent’s collective interests. Alongside, it is expected to articulate and give concrete expression to the African common position, determine the strategic vision, plan and future horizons of the Union.

Whatever the AU has become today builds on the pioneering efforts of prominent sons and daughters of the continent; from His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Sellasie to Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Julius Nyerere, and Seiko Toure, to name a handful. These founding fathers, without an iota of doubts, had a clear vision; they could see far where the continent was heading, almost as if they had the power to look into the future. All of them, without exception, made their mark in the struggle for freedom and liberation. When three years ago, Africans celebrated the 50thAnniversary of the Organization of African Unity/AU, it was a milestone opportunity; both to celebrate but also begin to contemplate how to translate our collective dreams into concrete results to make Africa a better place for the present and future generations. The celebration was the beginning of a new phase in the collective journey, not its end.

Clearly, the AUC has generated considerable amount of momentum around African development and Integration issues. Yet, many of the ‘teething’ challenges the continent faced at inception continue to slow the pace; just as new ones have crept in. Most of today’s problems may be attributed to the slow progress made in the quest for unity and integration. At best, these have remained aspirational despite best of efforts. If 1963 the continent’s leaders were preoccupied with colonial and post-colonial struggles, and the consolidation of independence, nowadays, there are myriad new – no less daunting – realities.

Given the many challenges Africa faces now, the continent needs to have at the helm of the AUC a leaders with proven track records in dealing with Africa’s myriad problems: poverty, resource use, economic development, wealth sharing, peace and security, democracy, human rights, neo-colonialism, environmental protection, climate change and corruption. The list is far from exhaustive. The experience of the new AUC Chair as well as his or her unshakable determination to overcome the challenges – not merely deal with them – would be critical if the continent is to realize the vision of a united, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

 In today’s knowledge-driven world, the clarion call for visionary and committed leadership at the helm of the AUC is far greater than ever. The leader needed must be capable and willing to identify and tap into the pool of amazing talent of African citizens, starting with the team of talented staff of the Union; a growing number of whom risks drudgery and disillusionment with the status quo. The men and women who work at the Commission should be more than satisfied, they should be energized and passionate in what they do not the business-as-usual attitude that is so endemic now. The leader the Commission deserves must be one that leads by example and inspires. The right leader for the AUC must have a clarity of purpose working to achieve results, hand in hand, with broad constituencies of stakeholders: from the civil society to the private sector; from women’s group to youths’ movement.

Because the AU represents the hope of Africa and its peoples, it must care about the caliber of leaders who aspire to head the Commission. So, in Kigali this July 2016, when convening to elect the incoming Chair and leadership of the Commission, all eyes will be on the Heads of States and Governments to do what is right. They must put aside petty politics and permutations to decide what is best for the AUC and the continent. We stand at a crossroads: if Africa fails to make the right decision in electing the right leader the AUC deserves, the continent risks taking several fatal steps backwards.

Because it does not pay to allow chickens to lead the eagles even if the chickens convince themselves that they’re actually eagles, African citizens must demand a move from mediocrity to excellence. The incoming chairperson must not be determined by which region the candidate comes from but rather by his or her strength of character to lead.

Africa has had its faire share of failures over the years since 1960’s. It still carries old scars and new bruises, but it must look into the future with hope. In 50 years, the architects of Agenda 2063 and those currently tasked with its implementation might no longer be around given the mean life expectancy on the continent. This means, there will not be a united, prosperous and peaceful Africa unless the youth – the very people who will still be around in 50 years – is actively engaged in the process. The message of African youth calls for a different mindset, a different way of thinking, a different way of making decisions and acting. The choice before the Kigali conclave in July will be a tall one.

As they elect the right leader, they will have no better loyal partner than African citizens. They must deliver by all means; posterity will remember and not forgive them doing otherwise. As Frantz Fanon puts it perceptibly decades ago: “Each generation discovers its mission. It either achieves it or it betrays it”.

*Founder, Ubuntu Leadership Institute

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Africa: Resolved to Address African Problems Using African Solutions
May 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

Olabisi Dare, Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Displaced Persons Division at the AU Commission.

Olabisi Dare, Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Displaced Persons Division at the AU Commission.

Istanbul — The African Union (AU) representing 54 countries and home to 1,2 billion inhabitants, will be in Istanbul to participate in the May 23-24, 2016, first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) with two key demands – that the international humanitarian system be redefined, and a strong, firm own commitment to itself, to the continent and its people, anchoring on the primacy of the states.

In an interview with IPS on the eve of the WHS, the Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Displaced Persons Division at the AU Commission, Olabisi Dare said “All the key concerns that the AU will be raising at the World Humanitarian Summit is that there is a need for the redefinition of the international humanitarian system; this redefinition should take the form of a reconfiguration of the system.”

The Nigerian career diplomat and international civil servant with over 27 years international field and desk experience in Asia, Africa, Europe and America, added that the requested redefinition “should take the form of a reconfiguration of the system, it being understood that the existing system which is predicated on the UN Resolution 46 182 is to say the least not being faithfully implemented.”

It is therefore in this context that the African Union is going to Istanbul with its own commitments to itself, that is its own commitment to the continent and its people and one of the key things of this commitment is to anchor on the primacy of the states itself, “the State has the primary responsibility to its own people to satisfy their needs and to take care of their vulnerabilities,” said Olabisi.

“We look at these in several forms:

The African Union feels the State has to play the primary role of coordinating any and all humanitarian action that may take place within its territory; the States have in their efforts to alleviate the needs of its people; the States have also to maintain humanitarian space and have a responsibility to guarantee the safety of both the humanitarian workers and humanitarian infrastructure.

We note that the State has the capability and capacity in key areas like use of military assets in assisting humanitarian action-a key example is the use of military forces in Liberia and other acted countries the military was deployed to serve as the first line of defense to combat the spread of the disease.

That said, Olabisi remarked “We can’t over-emphasise the role of the State in ensuring that humanitarian action and relief is dispensed in an effective manner and we see that this in itself will effect humanitarian action more readily on the continent.”

Asked what are the African needed solutions that the AUC brings to the WHS, Olabisi, who was also senior Political/Humanitarian Affairs Officer at the African Union Mission in Liberia, with extensive experience in various aspects peace-building in a post conflict environment, including serving on the Technical Support Team to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, reaffirmed “The African Union will make proposals in terms of what it considers as the reconfiguration of the International Humanitarian systems.”

“Part of the solution is that there is a need for governments to play the primary role and a greater coordination role in order to fulfill the attributes of state in terms of its predictive and responsive nature and other attributes and this in itself is as part of what Africa has committed to do and if this find its way to the Secretary General’s report as part of the recommendation, this would be very good.”

Olabisi, who was involved in the return and rehabilitation programme of over 300,000 Liberian refugees from across the West Africa sub-region, added “We are also going to call for the re-engineering of resolution 46182 Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations to reflect Africa’s views, to reflect the need to elevate the role of the state primarily to be to deliver to its people.”

The Resolution 46182 that Olabisi refers to, was adopted in 1991, setting as “Guiding Principles” that humanitarian assistance is of cardinal importance for the victims of natural disasters and other emergencies and must be provided in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality.

Guiding Principle 3 clearly states, “The sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be fully respected in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. In this context, humanitarian assistance should be provided with the consent of the affected country and in principle on the basis of an appeal by the affected country.”

 “Each State has the responsibility first and foremost to take care of the victims of natural disasters and other emergencies occurring on its territory. Hence, the affected State has the primary role in the initiation, organization, coordination, and implementation of humanitarian assistance within its territory,” states also the Guiding Principle 4.

And Guiding Principle 9 stresses, “There is a clear relationship between emergency, rehabilitation and development. In order to ensure a smooth transition from relief to rehabilitation and development, emergency assistance should be provided in ways that will be supportive of recovery and long-term development. Thus, emergency measures should be seen as a step towards long-term development.”

For its part, Guiding Principle 10 stresses, “Economic growth and sustainable development are essential for prevention of and preparedness against natural disasters and other emergencies. Many emergencies reflect the underlying crisis in development facing developing countries.

“Humanitarian assistance should therefore be accompanied by a renewal of commitment to economic growth and sustainable development of developing countries,” it adds. “In this context, adequate resources must be made available to address their development problems.”

“Contributions for humanitarian assistance should be provided in a way which is not to the detriment of resources made available for international cooperation for development,” says Guiding Principle 11.

Obalisi then recalled “When you look at the Common African Position (CAP) [on the post 2015 development agenda], you find that the first pillar speaks to the privacy of the state; all the other 9 pillar speak the same in one form or another.”

Africa will be calling on itself to be able to deliver more on resources and allocate more resources to humanitarian action, he added. “This is because it is mindful of the fact that the resource portals are dwindling from the north.”

Asked what are the outcomes that Africa would most expect from the WHS, Olabisi said that Africa expects the guarantee that international humanitarian system will be reconfigured to conform with new demands and address the issues faced by the humanitarian system at the moment – one of the main outcome the Summit will deliver.

“Africa is making these commitments to itself-due to the non-binding nature of the summit. The commitments Africa has made go beyond the WHS whether the summit is binding or not it will not affect what Africa is committed to, in its own self-interest and this is one of the key recommendations we will be taking to WHS.”

He stressed that Africa’s commitments are not to the WHS but the Summit “gives us an opportunity to discuss a paradigm shift in terms of the way we do things in the humanitarian field in Africa and also to see that we can positively add to the mitigation and alleviation of the sufferings of our people when disasters and displacements occur.”

“One of the key things to note is that Africa will go ahead with its own commitments, “our resolve to come up with something that is workable, pragmatic, and something that will make us see ourselves in a light that puts us in a position to help ourselves despite the grand bargain on Africa being shut out of the whole system,” Olabisi emphasised.

“Africa however is resolved to begin addressing its own problems using African solutions to African problems.”

*Source IPS/Allafrica

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New United Nations study finds digital payments to Ebola response workers saved lives and $10 million
May 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

By using digital payments to pay Ebola response workers, Sierra Leone massively cut payment times, avoiding large-scale strikes and ensuring a stable workforce to defeat Ebola. Sierra Leone’s experience shows the critical importance of preparing early for digital payments before crises hit.

A nurse displays her text notification of mobile money in Freetown (@UNDP Sierra Leone)

A nurse displays her text notification of mobile money in Freetown (@UNDP Sierra Leone)

Mobile phones serving as digital “wallets” for payments to response workers proved an invaluable tool in Sierra Leone’s response to the Ebola crisis, according to a new study from the United Nations-based Better Than Cash Alliance .

With economic instability, natural disasters and political conflict now taking place at unprecedented rates, the new research offers valuable lessons on how to harness the power of technology to help emergency workers reach more people by paying them digitally during crises. The country has been Ebola free since January.

The report comes just ahead of the first ever United Nations World Humanitarian summit set to begin next week.

The study shows digital payments delivered compelling results in Sierra Leone, including:

  • Cost savings of US $10.7 million for the government, taxpayers, development partners and response workers – the equivalent of funding Sierra Leone’s Free Health Care Program catering for 1.4 million children and 250,000 pregnant women annually.
  • Reducing payment times from over one month on average for cash to one week.
  •  Preventing the loss of around 800 working days per month from the Ebola response workforce, helping save lives during this critical time.
  • Saving response workers around $80,000 per month in travel costs by avoiding lengthy journeys to cash payment centers.

Crucially, Sierra Leone’s experience shows the critical importance of governments, companies, and international organizations working together to develop policy frameworks, infrastructure and operating guidelines for digital payments before crises strike.

“Sierra Leone’s firsthand experience with digital payments and its impact on Ebola response and control taught us that, Governments like ours must take this growing payment system seriously as it can significantly contribute to inclusive growth and transparency,” said H.E. Momodu L. Kargbo, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development.  “In developing the partnership with private sector, development organizations, the Central Bank, financial institutions, network providers; and building the foundation for an inclusive digital payment system, Government must take the lead.”

Sierra Leone was one of the hardest-hit countries during the Ebola outbreak, with more than 14,000 reported cases of the 28,000 total cases in West Africa . Ebola response workers were spread across Sierra Leone’s 14 districts, including many health units in rural areas. The speed with which Ebola spread meant the government needed a more efficient, reliable and secure tool than cash to manage payments to response workers in a country where there were fewer than 50 ATMs when the outbreak struck.

Digital payments offered a powerful solution, particularly given Sierra Leone already had mobile network coverage across nearly 95 percent of the country, and more than 90 percent of response workers with access to a mobile phone.

One of the major challenges of cash is that it is expensive, slow, difficult to transport and vulnerable to theft, graft and payment errors. Late or incorrect payments to response workers often led to strikes during past emergencies and at the start of the Ebola crisis before digital payments were implemented.

In Sierra Leone, digital payments reduced these strikes from an average of eight per month – causing the loss of about 800 working days per month – to virtually zero.

“Ebola response workers put their lives at risk every day. It was vitally important they received all the money they earned, with no skimming or theft. They got it immediately, as their families had no other income; and only legitimate workers got paid – no one else. Paying Ebola response workers directly into a digital wallet instead of cash met these goals, saved lives and over $10 million,” said Dr. Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director of The Better Than Cash Alliance. “Sierra Leone’s experience shows the critical importance of developing and implementing national policy frameworks and supporting infrastructure to drive effective and flexible digital payments ecosystems in advance of humanitarian crises.”

The vast majority of the cost savings were due to eliminating payments to people who were not legitimate Ebola response workers, known as “ghost workers”.  The money saved was given to those who really needed it.
The Better Than Cash Alliance  is a global partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerate the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty and drive inclusive growth. The United Nations Capital Development Fund serves as the secretariat.

*APO

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AGAINST ALL ODDS : HOW TO STAY ON TOP OF THE GAME-Angelle Kwemo shares tips in new book
May 17, 2016 | 0 Comments
Angelle Kwemo

Angelle Kwemo

International Business Strategist, Attorney and Author, Angelle B. Kwemo shares her journey while outlining the steps anyone can take to achieve ultimate success in every area of their lives.

 

AGAINST ALL ODDS

HOW TO STAY ON TOP OF THE GAME

By Angelle B. Kwemo

On Sale NOW

 “You Must Act As If It Is Impossible To Fail” ~ Ashanti

 The Oracle Group International is thrilled to announce the publication of AGAINST ALL ODDS: How to Stay On Top of The Game (Paperback; On Sale Now; $14.99; ISBN: 9781483441566) by award winning international business, political consultant and entrepreneur Angelle Kwemo, CEO of Astrategik Group and Founder of Believe in Africa. A lifetime in the making, Angelle provides readers with a clear and practical blueprint for personal and professional success, while sharing her amazing journey from childhood in Cameroon to become a globally respected government policy and international trade strategist.

41-KhhxmuRL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_AGAINST ALL ODDS is the captivating story of one woman’s determination to pursue her passion and aspirations while defying self-limitation and status quo. Angelle Kwemo, who is proud to be an African woman, followed her dreams, ignored the ridicule, and fought aggressively to seize every opportunity that presented itself to her.  Today, Angelle is one of the worlds most sought after government relations and international trade advisory strategists. She advises multi dimensional entities on such matters as how to compete globally and build inroads into the United States, Africa, and other emerging markets. Angelle has lectured at Universities and Conferences around the globe, teaching techniques and strategies on how to successfully navigate into the international marketplace along with the art of remaining competitive.

So what does it take to build the courage to follow your vision, overcome challenges and be relentless in the pursuit of your dreams? Angelle will tell you. Presented here is Angelle Kwemo’s unique blueprint on how to become non-negotiable about your goals and eliminate those toxic behaviors that could potentially impede all efforts towards the attainment of success. To assist in the accomplishment of the aforementioned feat, Angelle utilizes AGAINST ALL ODDS to offer provocative lessons, real-life case studies, and proven strategies of risk and reward that are designed to help pave your own-chartered course of success and live a life of richness.

This story is for all people of race, color, and color, but not for the light of heart, I think its important to share how I shaped my vision, developed endurance, over came the challenges, and became relentless in the pursuit of my dreams”, says Ms. Kwemo, “Life is like a game, having different levels of championship to grow and evolve, this manual will help you stay on top of your game and overcome life’s challenges at every stage of your career”. 

   ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angelle Kwemo in a file picture with Congressman Bobby Rush, John Kufuor former President of Ghana and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria

Angelle Kwemo in a file picture with Congressman Bobby Rush, John Kufuor former President of Ghana and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria

Angelle Kwemo is Founder & Chair of Believe in Africa advocating for empowering the African private sector, women and youth. She is President & CEO of AstrategiKGroup, a firm that provides government relations, international trade advisory and strategic advice to multi-dimensional entities, allowing them to compete globally and build inroads into the United States, Africa and other emerging markets. A native of Cameroon, she started her career in France at Bestaux Law firm.  In Douala, Cameroon, as one of the youngest executives, she served as the Chief of the Maritime Claims and Disputes Department, and later as the General Counsel for Bollore Technology Group and Geodis Overseas, one of the largest French investors in West Africa. She moved to the United States in 2001 where her determination landed her job in U.S. Congress where she worked for 8 years.

AGAINST ALL ODDS BY ANGELLE KWEMO

May 25, 2016; $14.99

Lulu Publishing, Inc.

ISBN #: 9781483441566

eBook ISBN #: 9781483441573

 

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WHO IS LIBERIA’S GEORGE WEAH, THE FOOTBALLER TURNED PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE?
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY *

Former Liberian footballer George Weah, pictured at his party's headquarters in Monrovia, April 28, wants to extend his dominance from the sporting sphere to the political by running for the country's presidency in 2017. ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Former Liberian footballer George Weah, pictured at his party’s headquarters in Monrovia, April 28, wants to extend his dominance from the sporting sphere to the political by running for the country’s presidency in 2017.
ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The only African to ever win FIFA’s prestigious Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best footballer, to say that George Weah is a national hero in his home country of Liberia is an understatement.

The retired striker receives almost universal adoration in the West African nation, where he has reinvented himself as a capable politician and a presidential candidate in the 2005 election, in which he ultimately finished runner-up in a closely-fought run-off with incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Weah, 49, announced in April his intention to run for Liberia’s presidency in the 2017 election to swathes of diehard fans, clothed and in some cases painted in the blue color of his Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party, which the footballer founded.

“Like many of you, I have been a victim of poverty,” said Weah in his announcement to supporters in the capital Monrovia. “Our gathering here today is about the future of our country and our people.”

His campaign has hit a snag in the early stages, however, after a warrant filed in a U.S. court in Georgia alleged that Weah was guilty of failing to pay child support—a crime that carries a 12-month prison sentence. The warrant was withdrawn after Weah’s lawyers spoke with court officials, but his legal team will have to travel to the U.S. for a hearing on the matter later in May,Reuters reported. The footballer’s CDC party has dismissed the allegations. “This is a calculated propaganda trying to diminish our political momentum,” said CDC spokesman Sam Manna of the warrant.

It remains to be seen how the issue will play out, but Weah will be keen to avoid such distractions in the early stages of his campaign. Born in a slum in the Liberian capital Monrovia, Weah plied his trade in his home country until Arsene Wenger, who was then in charge of French club AS Monaco, took him to Europe. During four seasons at the French side, Weah averaged almost a goal every two games and the Liberian has said he views the now-Arsenal manager as a father figure for the way he nurtured him in the crucial early stages of his career.

From Monaco, Weah went on to play for some of the world’s most glamorous clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City. It was at Italian club AC Milan, however, where the forward had the most success, winning the Italian Serie A twice in 1996 and 1999. Weah was adored by Milan’s fans and scored several memorable goals, including a slalom dribble from his own penalty area that ended in a clinical finish against Verona in 1996.

As well as his Ballon d’Or triumph, Weah was also named African Footballer of the Year three times and designated as African Player of the Century in 1996. He is widely regarded as the best-ever African footballer, with Brazilian legend Pelé naming him among the 125 greatest-ever players in 2004 on the occasion of FIFA’s 100th anniversary.

Following the conclusion of Liberia’s second civil war in 2003, Weah announced his intention to run for the presidency. After taking Sirleaf to a second round in 2005, the footballer was beaten as his rival took 59.4 percent of the vote to his 40.6 percent. Since then, however, he has remained active on the political scene, running as CDC’s vice-presidential candidate in the 2011 elections, in which the party was again unsuccessful. In 2014, Weah was elected to the Liberian senate, defeating the president’s son Robert Sirleaf with 78 percent of the vote. Weah’s seat in Montserrado County includes Monrovia.

With the 2017 election in his sights and Liberia still struggling to recover from being at the center of an Ebola outbreak that has claimed thousands of lives since 2014, King George—as he is affectionately known by his fans—will not want any further distractions on the campaign trail.

*Source Newsweek

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The grand heist: A perspective from the South on the Panama Papers
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Sungu Oyoo*

mm_6In South Africa, over $60 million was lost through a well-orchestrated fraud from the mineworkers’ death benefits pool. 46,000 widows and orphans lost their benefits in this fraud revealed in the Panama Papers. Can you I imagine the pain of a widow  going to claim her husband’s death benefits only to find it all gone? Imagine that this widow has four children and no real source of income. We must resist!

The world woke up to news of the Panama Papers a few weeks ago. The release of the Panama Papers – an information trove comprising about 11.5 million documents leaked from Panamanian law-firm Mossack Fonseca – by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists helped shed light on the shadowy world that is international capital, and cast global attention on underhand financial dealings at international level. These papers have shown us how corporations, governments and individuals in the highest echelons of governments have colluded with their agents who include lawyers, bankers and accountants to create a parallel universe of offshore companies which they use to conceal wealth, evade taxes, perpetuate fraud and hide proceeds of bribery.

Several corporations, global leaders and their associates were adversely mentioned in the Panama Papers. But Panama is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the magnitude of financial institutions and governments that would be implicated if humanity knew of happenings in just twenty tax havens in the world.

The media has covered the Panama papers and the 215,000 offshore companies extensively since their emergence into the spotlight. However, most commentaries on the Panama Papers have been focused on financial aspects of the shadowy transactions and the people behind them. But what’s the impact of all this on humanity? Perhaps it’s time you and I had a frank discussion on the impact of these tax havens on our daily lives.

Africa is estimated to lose $50 billion annually to illicit financial flows, according to a 2014 report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). This figure is, however, likely to be way higher in actual sense due to a general lack of data and the secretive nature of tax havens. Illicit financial flows are known to inhibit tax collection, and limit the overall ability of governments to provide needs like education, health, housing, and other social services to citizens.

In Uganda, this has happened through evasion of taxes from oil revenue. The Panama Papers reveal how Heritage Oil and Gas Company moved its domicile from Bahamas to Mauritius, which has a double tax treaty with Uganda, so as to evade a tax liability of $400 million. All this happened while hospitals in Uganda were understaffed, faced shortages of medicine and equipment, and had patients sleeping in overcrowded hospital wards. Uganda’s health budget in 2015/2016 stood at 1.2 Trillion shillings – approximately $ 358.2 million – which is less than the $400 million tax evaded by Heritage Oil.

This issue also brings to fore elements of the dependency syndrome. The Ugandan government only financed 45% of its 2015/2016 budget from taxation, and sourced the remaining 55% from foreign aid and loans. This brings to the fore issues of dependency syndrome, the misguided belief that some countries cannot solve their own problems without outside help. Why are some states quick to opt for external financing of their budgets, while allowing multinational corporations to evade taxes?

Perhaps more interesting is the role of these financial institutions in the trade of conflict minerals. What’s the impact of happenings in these tax havens on people who live in regions where conflict has been used to facilitate mineral extraction and plunder? We must not shy away from discussing what the Panama Papers mean for mineral-rich but conflict-ridden countries like Sierra Leonne and the Democratic Republic of Congo. What roles do tax havens, banks and other multinational corporations play in this grand heist? Where do the interests of the state and the interests of capital connect?

International law requires disclosure of origins of gold and other precious minerals by those who trade in them. Rawbank, a commercial bank in the DRC, accepts gold in exchange of services without employing any clear mechanism to verify the source of the gold. 70% of Congo’s gold is alleged to end up in Dubai which refines, then exports it to Switzerland, a tax haven with access to the global market. Switzerland sells gold to the world.

Colonialism robbed Africa of many resources – and acted as one of the main systems on which the growth of capitalism was then anchored. At the end of colonial rule, the empire left a small cabal of petty bourgeoisie who eventually found their way into power or close to power in most African states. This cabal evolved into the political and economic elite of today. This elitist class facilitates the actions of multinational corporations by looking the other way while their states are plundered. In states like the Congo, armed militias have been pitted against one another for decades. Who thrives in this environment of endless wars, and reaps benefits from plunder of minerals? Definitely not the Congolese people.

In South Africa, over $60 million was lost through a well-orchestrated investment fraud from the mineworkers’ death benefits pool. 46,000 South African widows and orphans lost their benefits as a resultant effect of this fraud that was carefully hidden in a plethora of accounts revealed in the Panama Papers. I’m not South African, but I imagine the pain felt by a widow who goes to claim her husband’s death benefits only to find it all gone. Now, imagine this widow has four or more children, and no real source of income. There exists the possibility that she has no rural home to go to because both she and her husband were born into squatter families – dispossessed of land generations ago.

What has all this reduced her to? Probably another statistic to be discussed at international conferences on poverty. Violence comes in many forms – and poverty is one of the greatest forms of violence that can be meted out on a human being. I relate to her situation because the situation of the African person is the same throughout the continent. Individual circumstances in South Africa and in my native Kenya may be different, but the grand structure that facilitates exploitation of people and demeans their being is of one shape – a capitalistic shape.

Having sincere discussions will make us alive to the harsh reality that today’s world is. Many corporations and individuals operate with a brazen sense of impunity because they know they are powerful enough to get away with almost anything. State capture is real. Many states in the global south have been enslaved by the owners of capital, the so-called one-percenters, who place profits before people. People in the global south have, on the other hand, been reduced to mere factors of production.

The level of interaction between the economic elite and the political class has never been more frightening, and paints to a worrying future for us all. Banks are big drivers in all this. Bankers finance the politicians. Politicians help preserve the status quo, and tax havens live on. International criminals will keep doing business until we confront these systems head-on. We must resist!

*  Source Pambazuka.Sungu Oyoo is an advocate for economic and social justice in Kenya. Follow him on twitter: @Sungu_Oyoo.

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US$7 Million Prize to Fund African Renewable Energy Projects
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

Calling all entrepreneurs and developers of renewable energy projects in Africa

  • Just three weeks left for entrepreneurs to enter the ACF competition which will see developers across the continent compete for funding and expertise
  • Calling all entrepreneurs and developers of renewable energy projects in Africa

Access Power , a developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today kicked off the countdown for applications to the ACF 2016, the second edition of its successful Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) for renewable energy projects in Africa.

eef1acfb29c60dcRenewable energy developers have less than one month left to submit their applications for a chance to win US$7million in ACF prize funding. The deadline for applications is the 20st May 2016.

ACF 2016 is a competition dedicated to finding local power project developers with credible renewable energy projects in Africa who need access to funding, technical experience, and expertise to bring their plans to life.

Following the competition’s successful launch last year, the ACF increased its funding from US$5m in 2015 to US$7m for this year’s winners.  Up to three successful projects will be selected by a panel of expert judges whose decision will be based on commercial, technical and environmental merits, the local regulatory environment, and capability of the project team.

The winners of ACF 2016 will be announced on Tuesday 22nd June 2016 before a live audience during the Africa Energy Forum in London  (see Notes to Editors for further details). The winners will enter a Joint Development Agreement with Access Power, which will take an equity stake in the winning projects and fund third-party development costs such as feasibility studies, grid studies, environmental and social impact assessments and due diligence fees.  Access Power will also provide technical support, financial structuring and development process management.

Nasir Aku, ACF Program Manager at Access Power commented, “With just one month to go until the application deadline, we want to make sure that all local developers across the African continent are aware of this fantastic opportunity to secure valuable funding and expertise that can turn an idea for a renewable energy project into reality.”

ACF 2016 is leading the way in demonstrating and supporting the type of renewable energy projects that will help meet Africa’s massive and urgent need for electrification.

drawing“Through this unique facility, we hope to encourage innovation and support companies in their efforts to deliver power to places that desperately need it. Last year we received a total of 55 submissions from 18 countries across Africa, including solar, wind, hydro, hybrid and bio-mass projects. The applications are coming in fast so 2016 looks set to build on that success.”

The inaugural ACF in 2015 was won by Quaint Solar Energy from Nigeria and Flatbush Solar from Cameroon. Other competing projects hailed from Cape Verde, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania.

One project has already pre-qualified for ACF2016. A 25MW solar project being developed in Sierra Leone by Africa Growth and Energy Solutions (AGES) won the Solar Shark Tank competition at the Making Solar Bankable conference in Amsterdam on 18th February. In a keenly fought contest, three emerging markets developers competed for a US$100,000 grant to support the development of their solar projects, funded by Access Power and Dutch development bank FMO. Part of the prize, subject to terms and conditions, was pre-qualification for ACF2016.

  • The independent judging panel of four judges will include industry and legal experts as well as representatives from multilateral development banks.

 

  • Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges at the Africa Energy Forum in London on the 22nd June 2016.
  • Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the Forum within a given time and take questions from panel members.
  • Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
  • ACF 2016 submission period runs from 18th February to 20th May, 2016.

Access Power (‘Access’)  was founded in 2012 with the aim of becoming a leading developer, owner and operator of power assets in emerging and frontier markets.  Access has assembled a development team with a track record of financially closing ~30 GW of power projects across the globe.  Through its various subsidiaries, Access is currently developing power assets in over 20 countries in Africa and Asia. Access’ portfolio predominantly consists of renewable energy projects with a gross total investment cost of over US$ 1 billion.

*APO

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Liberian presidential candidate Weah’s lawyers to go to U.S. over warrant
May 4, 2016 | 0 Comments
Former soccer star George Weah holds up a certificate of election after being elected senator in Monrovia January 3, 2015. REUTERS/James Giahyue

Former soccer star George Weah holds up a certificate of election after being elected senator in Monrovia January 3, 2015. REUTERS/James Giahyue

MONROVIA (Reuters) – Lawyers for Liberian presidential candidate and former soccer star George Weah will travel to the United States after a warrant was issued charging him with child abandonment, a spokesman for Weah’s party said on Tuesday.

The warrant, filed in the U.S. state of Georgia, was in relation to Weah allegedly failing to pay child support. The crime of child abandonment is punishable by up to 12 months in prison.

The warrant was withdrawn after Weah’s lawyers spoke to court officials, said Sam Manna, a spokesman for Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change. Manna said a hearing had been scheduled for May 11 at the Newton County Court in Georgia.

Weah announced last week he would make a second bid in 2017 for the presidency of the West African nation, still trying to rebuild after civil war and a devastating Ebola outbreak.

He lost in the run-off during the 2005 presidential election to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Weah has said he would focus on repairing the education system, constructing clinics and fighting youth unemployment.

2016-04-28T215118Z_244061373_S1AETBAUUOAA_RTRMADP_3_LIBERIA-POLITICS-WEAH“This is a calculated propaganda trying to diminish our political momentum,” Manna said of the warrant, after thousands of supporters packed his party headquarters last week to hear Weah’s announcement that he would run again.

Weah’s illustrious soccer career in Europe lasted more than a decade and he played for teams including Paris Saint Germain in France, AC Milan in Italy and Chelsea in the United Kingdom.

Weah became the first non-European to win the European player of the year award in 1995, the same year he picked up the African and World player of the year awards.

Two of his children, George Jr. and Timothy, have followed in their father’s soccer footsteps.

*Reuters/Yahoo

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Carlos Lopes: To industrialise, Africa needs strong but smart states
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

“Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas…Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.”

by *

Credit: UNECA.

Credit: UNECA.

African Arguments caught up with the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Director to talk about economic transformation, what’s holding the continent back, and whether leaders will really take action in the wake of the #PanamaPapers.

In a lot of your work, you emphasise the need for Africa to undergo ‘structural transformation’. What does this mean, and why is industrialisation so important to it?

There is a whole literature about structural transformation, but in practical terms right now in Africa it means moving to higher productivity sectors. We see this happening in three particular areas. Firstly, there’s agricultural productivity, which is at its lowest in Africa yet offers incredible potential for minimising poverty and contributing to industrialisation through agro-processing. Secondly, there’s manufacturing, which requires policies that mimic part of the experience of successful industrialisation processes of the past but are much more adapted to African characteristics. And thirdly, there’s the service sector, which needs to become more integrated into the formal economy.

Industrialisation plays a critical role because it’s more than just the production of processed goods or value addition from natural resources. It’s also an enabler for a rising society and, being a latecomer, Africa can learn from the experiences of others and adjust. For Africa, issues such as the environment, for instance, can be tackled up front.

There are varying verdicts as to how African industrialisation is faring. Some emphasise that manufacturing as a share of Africa’s GDP has almost halved from its 20% level in 1970. But others highlight that manufacturing is increasing at 3.5% a year, faster than the global average. What’s your take?

If you measure it by manufacturing value added, which is the common preferred indicator, then yes it is true that in percentage GDP terms, African manufacturing is stagnating if not falling. But African economies have doubled in the last 15 years, so even if you maintain the same percentage it means a lot more industry has come on board. Moreover, this also doesn’t take into account a number of activities that we can consider industrial but aren’t counted in statistics because of delays in updating national accounts.

Our take is that industrialisation is increasing significantly in some countries, though not across the entire continent, and that we need to accelerate and aggressively.

What’s holding African industrialisation back? Is it insufficient infrastructure? Lack of imagination amongst policymakers? Trade treaties that constrain what governments are able to do?

It’s all of those but the important question is which of those comes first. I think the capacity for comprehensiveness that comes with an industrial policy is what is the most important, because if you tackle the issue from just a specific sector or enabler or dimension, you are never going to get your act together.

The countries that really move and industrialise always have the same recipe: a very strong state hand, but a state that is very smart, a state that is capable of introducing smart protectionism because crude protectionism is no longer available, a state that is capable of identifying the critical enablers like infrastructure, and a state that knows how to fund its policies whether through domestic resource mobilisation or astute borrowing.

In a recent ECA report, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Bilateral Investment Treaties and Economic Partnership Agreements are painted as significant barriers to African industrialisation. Do these agreements just need tweaking or are they inherently detrimental for Africa?

I think African countries have embarked on signing stuff they shouldn’t sign, but too bad for them. The WTO is a consensus-based mechanism that would allow for stalling, so if Africans don’t get their act together to stall the things that are bad for them, then that’s an African problem not a WTO problem.

I think Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas. They are not taking advantage of space they already have. And Africans are also distracted by negotiating bilateral trade agreements before they finalise their own. Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.

Given enormous global power imbalances, do you think it’s enough for African policymakers to just be slightly smarter and more imaginative under the current system, or do you think there needs to be more fundamental change too?

The moral and political dimension I leave for the media, NGOs, and civil society, though we should certainly give them ammunition so their claims are evidence-based. Where we can really make a difference is in deconstructing some untruths that have long been masquerading as truths. That’s why we’ve been plunging into legislative issues, contract negotiations, and investment and trade treaties to try and have a more informed discussion. We think a lot of space exists in these that Africans are not using. After all, countries that are good negotiators do get a better deal.

In terms of untruths, take this race to the bottom towards zero tax for investors for an example. Does it attract more investors in relation to potential competitors? No. Typically countries that are well organised and structured and that offer investors a package of incentives that are not tax-based are more attractive than ones offering tax incentives.

When it comes to illicit financial flows, through which $50 billion leaves Africa each year according to an ECA report, do you think leaders will seize this moment after the #PanamaPapers to implement real reforms?

There are various dimensions to the debate, but because of Mossack Fonseca we are currently focusing on one dimension: namely tax jurisdictions and how multinationals are taking advantage of different loopholes to move from one jurisdiction to another in order not to pay tax.

Another dimension, however, is the competition amongst financial centres. The City of London, for example, doesn’t want to lose its prominence as one of the leading financial centres of the world. This means that they have to stay ahead of competitors and protect a certain number of very complex legislative dimensions that will appear from a regulatory point of view to be very strong and powerful, but at the same time be lenient where they know competitors could have an edge.

There is certainly now a strong public push for regulators to put a bit of order to things. And I don’t think the rhetoric is hypocritical, but how far they will go and how much political leaders will embrace actual change is another matter.

*Source African Arguments.James Wan is the editor of African Arguments. He tweets at @jamesjwan.

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ENGANAMOUIT SHORTLISTED FOR BBC WOMEN’S PLAYER AWARD
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

Enganamouit270416-400Cameroon’s forward, Gaelle Enganamouit of FC Rosengard has been nominated among five other players for the BBC Women’s Player of the Year Award. The other nominees are: Amandine Henry (France, Midfielder, 26), Kim Little (Scotland, Midfielder, 25) Carli Lloyd (United States, Midfielder, 33), Becky Sauerbrunn (United States, Defender, 30)

The 23 year Cameroonian is the only African enlisted and her performance in 2015 speaks for itself. She finished the Swedish championship as top scorer with 18 goals to her credit earning the golden boot with Eskilstuna United DFF.

Exiting the 2015 World Cup at the knock-out stage, Gaelle Enganamouit had left her foot prints with a hat-trick, in Cameroon’s 6-0 defeat against Ecuador, the first for an African at the highest football level.

She was crowned African Player in 2015 and won the 2016 Swedish Super League with Rosengard prior to her nomination.

Her international debut started in 2012 with Spartak Subotica in the Serbian league where she is said to have scored the fastest goal in three seconds.

The shooting queen with 43 caps and ten goals for the national team who was part of the Olympic squad in 2012 played for Tonnere Kalara club before moving to Lorema in 2004.

*Camer be

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How Election Monitors Are Failing
April 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

Uganda’s recent election showed, once again, that international election observers aren’t calling it like they see it.

BY NIC CHEESEMAN, GABRIELLE LYNCH, JUSTIN WILLIS*

In the photo, Ugandan police officers stand guard outside the house of the country’s main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, in a suburb of Kampala on February 22. Photo credit: ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

In the photo, Ugandan police officers stand guard outside the house of the country’s main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, in a suburb of Kampala on February 22.
Photo credit: ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Uganda, heated controversy still surrounds President Museveni’s re-election with just over 60 percent of the vote two months ago. At a press conference on February 20, the European Union election observation mission presented its preliminary report on how the election had been conducted. The controversy surrounding the race, and the claim by the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) that the polls had been rigged, ensured a charged atmosphere. But despite finding that the number of votes it counted did not correspond to the official results in 20 percent of observed polling stations, the mission refused to answer a question about whether the elections were “free and fair.” Instead, they pulled their punches, directing the audience to read the report “and draw their own conclusions.” 

International election observation missions — when small teams of foreign nationals are sent to watch over elections under the auspices of groups such as the European Union, African Union and the Carter Center — are intended to deter foul play and ensure free and fair polls.

In practice, these monitors are not generally known for toughness or frank criticism.

In practice, these monitors are not generally known for toughness or frank criticism. But even by their notoriously cautious standards, the verdict in Uganda was strikingly tentative and evasive. The EU monitors had heard human rights groups’ complaints about intimidation by security forces and pro-government “volunteers,” witnessed voting materials turn up late to many polling stations located in opposition strongholds, and seen the main opposition candidate, Kizza Bessigye, arrested multiple times. The chair of Uganda’s Electoral Commission, Badru Kiggundu, evenbroke the most basic rule of official neutrality when he declared that Besigye was not “presidential material.”

The refusal of the European observers to make a strong and clear statement about these abuses frustrated Uganda’s opposition and civil society, but it was not surprising. Across Africa, international observers have frequently refused to give elections the evaluations they deserve for fear of offending incumbent governments and triggering political instability — and, also, it would seem, because they apply lower standards on the continent. Research by Brian Klaas of the London School of Economics has found that elections in Africa are significantly less likely to be branded “unfree and unfair” than elections held elsewhere in the world when they suffer the same manipulations. As a result, incumbents typically get away with a wide range of abuses, including such major offenses as the exclusion of rival candidates.

Although the problem is worse in Africa than elsewhere, this is a global phenomenon. Problematic elections have been given the “green light” in places such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Iraq, as international leaders place security and stability — and their own relationships with established governments — ahead of democracy. This has led to many situations in which the content and the conclusion of election observation reports are out of sync. While the small print often lists pages of significant failings, the summary invariably concludes that the elections were “good enough.” The implications for democracy are dire: it’s not just B+ polls that are being allowed to “pass” international scrutiny — even “incompletes” are being allowed through.

The challenges facing election monitors are both political and technical. One of the reasons demonstrating electoral manipulation is particularly difficult in places like Uganda is that the size of most monitoring missions is pitifully small. The EU mission in Uganda, for example, was only 130 strong. Since observers must go around in pairs, in practice, about 45 “teams” were responsible for covering something like 28,000 polling stations. It is simply not practical to detect subtle electoral fraud on this basis. Moreover, therandom sampling technique that the EU uses to select polling stations for its teams to cover — on the basis that such sampling is more likely to ensure a representative sample of the national picture — means that observers have polling stations selected for them in advance and cannot target areas that are known to be problematic.

The technical limitations are exacerbated by political realities. In many of the world’s semi-democratic states, the combination of repression by government forces and the failure of electoral commissions to quickly release a full set of results make it all but impossible for observers or the opposition to provide incontrovertible evidence of fraud. In Uganda, the law sets a 10-day deadline for the submission of evidence of rigging. But during this period, opposition offices were raided by police or mysteriously “burgled,” and the main opposition leader was placed under house arrest. This alone should be sufficient for international observers to declare the process flawed — but the appeals process is rarely given much weight in election observers’ reports, which focus heavily on the period leading up to polling day.

This is not just an African phenomenon. In the 2013 election in Azerbaijan, a set of “results” was accidentally released the day before the election on an iPhone app. Officially, this was explained away as a simple technical mistake, and a different set of figures were announced after voting had taken place. But many suspected that President Ilham Aliyev had intended to release a set of pre-fabricated results, and had only been prevented from doing so because they had been accidentally circulated too early. Subsequent evidence of “widespread irregularities, including ballot-box stuffing and what appeared to be fraudulent counting” was reported by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Yet international observers that focused only on the act of voting, like those from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s short-term delegation, missed the bigger story, concluding that they had witnessed a “free, fair and transparent electoral process.” Few observers who were able to take a longer-term view concurred with that judgment.

Clearly, the idea that international election observers are a neutral, independent force is a myth.

Clearly, the idea that international election observers are a neutral, independent force is a myth. In reality, they are every bit as subject to political pressures as the parties they observe. In the early 1990s, observersturned a blind eye to deeply flawed elections in Kenya because they were worried that speaking out would trigger civil war and regional instability. In so doing, however, they became complicit in the attempts of a brutal authoritarian regime to hold onto power and undermined their own reputations. In the run-up to the 1992 election, President Daniel arap Moi’s regime instigated ethnic clashes designed to displace, and hence disenfranchise, opposition voters. In total, over 1,500 people died and 300,000 more were forced to flee their homes. The government also engaged in a wide range of other dubious measures, from censoring the press to stuffing ballot boxes. The international community’s failure to speak out against these developments motivated the respected Kenyanist Stephen Brown to write a scathing article with the eloquent subtitle, “How Foreign Donors to Keep Kenya’s Daniel arap Moi in Power.”

Similar tensions are at play in Uganda today. President Museveni’s decision to send Ugandan troops to form the bulk of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) has made his government central to Western anti-terror efforts in the Horn of Africa. As a result, the EU and U.S. can ill afford to lose Museveni as an ally — even if harsh words are often exchanged in public. Like their counterparts in Kenya and Iraq, Western representatives in Uganda are also concerned about what would happen if they called for the results to be recounted or the election to be re-run. Would the country implode under the pressure? Could a Besigye presidency be relied upon to deliver stability and to be as enthusiastic about sending Ugandans to fight in a foreign country?

The uncertainty around these questions has left western election observers in a familiar dilemma. They cannot endorse the results of elections that have been so evidently uneven, but they cannot condemn the process entirely, for that would both imply that Uganda’s government has no legitimacy (an awkward implication for a regional ally) and suggest that elections can never bring political change. 

As a result, the EU report on Uganda’s recent elections is a classic of a genre that has emerged over the recent decades of electoral observation in Africa. The report captures a whole catalog of dubious electoral practices, including local-level intimidation of opposition, obstructions placed in the way of opposition presidential campaigns by the police, and the wide gap between a ruling party that draws freely on state resources for its campaign and an opposition that relies on donations from supporters. At the same time, in a strenuous effort to put a good face on the proceedings, the report commends the public for their “remarkable determination on election day [while] waiting for long hours to cast their ballots,” implicitly offering “voter enthusiasm for the democratic process” as a form of endorsement of the elections (if not explicitly for their result).

This is all eminently understandable. Serving as an election observer is a great responsibility and concerns of political stability are legitimate in countries with a history of conflict. It is also true that, for all the faults of the elections, Museveni may well have won the most votes.

Even so, observers who pull their punches may end up causing considerable damage.

Even so, observers who pull their punches may end up causing considerable damage. Excessive tact in assessing election results can set back the cause of democracy and undermine the confidence of opposition parties and their supporters that Western governments will play fair. Governments in places such as theDemocratic Republic of Congo and Zambia — both of which are due to have elections this year — will be watching events in Uganda closely. In both countries, the contests are expected to be particularly tight, and leaders there will be looking for every advantage they can get. The failure of election observers to take a stand in Uganda will encourage other dictators to rig their own elections, safe in the knowledge that they are unlikely to be held to account. In the long run, this is likely to erode public support for the political process and to breed political grievances that all too often spill over into conflict.

Maybe it’s time to take a more hard-headed approach to elections in authoritarian states. If the circumstances are simply too uneven to provide genuine competition, and if observers know that they will not be in a position to call out fraud if they see it, then might it be better for international monitors to stay at home? At least this way the international community will avoid legitimating — and hence becoming complicit in — deeply flawed polls that make a mockery of democracy.

*Source FP

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Weah to run for president of Liberia
April 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Matthew Galea*

georgeweah-cropped_u8lez5t120941ji2w87vz9unnFormer Chelsea, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain striker George Weah will run for president of Liberia.

Former Liberia international George Weah has announced he will run for president of Liberia for the second time.

Weah, formerly of Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Chelsea, said he had the “vision” to transform the African nation.

The 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year has been heavily involved in politics since returning to Liberia after ending his professional career at Al-Jazira in 2003.

While announcing his intention to run for president, Weah – a three-time African Footballer of the Year – addressed a number of his supporters.

“Our gathering here today is about the future of our country and our people,” the 49-year-old said. “In the last ten years our people have continued to live in abject poverty, education a mess, health delivery system a disaster, electricity and pipe-borne water elusive.

“Like many of you, I have been a victim of poverty. There were times I didn’t have school fees.”

He has previously run for office, when he was defeated by current president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005. Sirleaf’s second term in office ends in 2017 and under the country’s constitution, she will not be able to run again.

*Goal

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The Spirit of Tana
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

The spirit of Tana forum encourages open debate on security issues in Africa uninhibited by secrecy that characterises formal engagements on such matters

By Prof. Andreas Eshete*

Andreas-Eshete-450x450At this, the fifth Tana forum, it may well be premature for a full-fledged retrospective. Still, a glance at the past may help to remind us what inspires and animates our annual gathering at Tana.

Tana Forum began as an initiative of the Institute of Peace and Security Studies of Addis Ababa University, Inspired by the exemplary work of the Munich Security Conference. The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the first champion of Tana Forum, was convinced that the Forum would serve to promote two companion aims, aims that he artfully and passionately pursued throughout the course of his public life. First, to enrich reasoned public discussion on the challenges of peace and security facing Africans in ways that extend the reach and depth of the terms of public debate; and; second, to foster a shared understanding of the nature and source of these challenges in order to forge a collective African vision, voice and capability on how best to avoid and overcome African’s troubles in this area. The idea was not, of course, to supplement the valuable work of formal institutions. To the contrary, Meles Zenawi worked tirelessly to strengthen African regional and continental institutions such as IGAD, NEPAD and the African Union as well as to elevate their international standing. The aim instead was to complement the efforts of Africa’s formal institutions by exploring the distinctive possibilities and virtues of alternative public fora for reflection and conversation.

Tana Forum offers a public space for reasoned deliberation unfettered by either the mandate and formalities of official fora or the exigencies in such bodies for reaching decisions and taking actions. The determination to convene an unceremonious assembly was evident from the beginning. I recall our distinguished chair, Chief Obasanjo’s, in a characteristic expression of his wise stewardship, casting aside part of his robe during an early forum to highlight the call for an unbuttoned exchange of ideas. The Forum chose to solicit the hospitality of the city and people of Bahir Dar in order to secure a peaceful and beautiful haven, where the participants can wholeheartedly join public discussions undistracted by official engagements. There are various reasons in favor of an informal African forum on peace and security. For one thing, national discussions on immediate matters of security tend to be inhibited by secrecy and other considerations of state. Second, national and other formal fora are not readily responsive to the fact that many challenges to African security increasingly defy national borders, and that this reach extends beyond the continent. Consider, for instances, the deft deployment of social media for propaganda and recruitment by militant groups. Further, personal and public virtues like toleration, crucial for the fate of peace and security, cannot be engendered or bolstered by formal institutions alone. Finally, the strains and divisions that surfaced in the European Union in the wake of the recent flow of refugees to Europe is a salutary reminder of the risks incurred and frailties exposed by banking on formal arrangements.

Another feature that breathes life into the proceedings of the Forum is the unusually wide range of interlocutors. There are in our midst political leaders, senior officers of intergovernmental institutions and prominent members of civic and business communities. Also present are scholars, seasoned practitioners, youth, and Africa’s committed partners. The robust representation of leaders and citizens from a wide spectrum of African society matters because the cause of peace and security is everyone’s concern and its imperilment is felt more by the many poor and vulnerable. On the latter, think of the truly tragic use of abducted young girls as sexual slaves and suicide bombers by Boko Harem. Tana affords a rare opportunity for us to hear African leaders of state and government speaking in a personal capacity and voice. The presence of former heads of state and government, now released from the responsibilities of public office, enables us to benefit from their practical wisdom and experience. The interaction between incumbent political leaders and individuals with whom they do not normally enjoy direct contact may reveal aspects of the character, values and convictions of Africa’s leaders that go beyond or against the grain of their public self –image? Moreover, the diversity of participants and perspectives contributes to the democratic ethos of the deliberation at Tana. Amartya Sen remarks: “democracy has to be judged…by the extent to which different voices from diverse sections of the people are actually heard.” In this respect Tana Forum modestly carries on a venerable tradition of democratic participation practiced at different times and places much as the early American town-hall meeting, the Paris Commune, and the African village assembly, here symbolized by the tree depicted before you.

The subjects so far selected for attention at the Forum address issues central to the achievement of peace and security in Africa. The significance of diversity and state fragility — the theme of the maiden session — has been vindicated by developments in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and by the spread of militant movements marching under the banner of faith — the latter was the focus of last year’s forum. Another session looked into the illicit flow of funds from Africa. The Panama Papers and the numerous African cases already revealed in the files vividly show that the rich and powerful secretly divert scarce African resources at the expense of the populace’s abiding interest in growth and equality, this year’s them unities us to take a measure of how we are treated in the global security agenda and to explore promising possibilities to enhance Africa’s agency in shaping it in the future.

Beyond the examination of these subjects, the Forum now hosts the annual Meles Zenawi memorial lecture devoted to critical appraisals of political leadership in Africa.

The series opened with a look at Meles Zenawi’s bold experiment with federative arrangements designed to find public room for Ethiopia’s many cultural communities and identities. The inaugural session also addressed Meles Zenawi’s learned advocacy and decisive public action to lay the foundation of an African democratic developmental state. Subsequent lectures attended to the illustrious lives of Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah and, now, Patrice Lumumba.

Alongside the forum, there are now regular occasions for interaction among participants at the forum and the students and academic staff of Bahir Dar University on issues that bear on the concerns of the Forum.

Yesterday, Her Excellency, Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda, spoke on the rationale for an African developmental state, drawing upon the encouraging experience of Rwanda.

In sum, in a short span of time, the Forum has emerged as a vibrant vehicle for public discussion and reflection on how Africa can be free from recurrent and recalcitrant strife, strike which plainly stands in the way of popular yearning for enduring progress in self-government and emancipation from poverty across Africa. This is an auspicious beginning for joining the quest to revisit and to revive a sense a sense of Pan-African solidarity that we, together would the continued support with his Excellency Prime Minister Hailemariam Deslagen and our partners, can now carry forward with confidence.

. Culled from Real Magazine.Prof . Andreas Eshete, special advisor to the prime minister of Ethiopia and deputy chairperson of the Tana Forum Board presented this speech at the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa which held on April 16 – 17, 2016 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

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Tony Elumelu Foundation Picks 1,000 for $ 100 million Entrepreneurship Programme
March 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L*

A second set of 1,000 Africans has been selected to join the $ 100 million Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme –TEEP.

TEF Founder Tony Elumelu flanked by Foundation CEO Parmindar Vir and Selection Committee member Angelle Kwemo

TEF Founder Tony Elumelu flanked by Foundation CEO Parmindar Vir and Selection Committee member Angelle Kwemo

According to a statement from the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the successful candidates represent diverse industries including agriculture, ICT, and fashion. Over 45,000 applications were registered from 54 countries with the highest numbers coming from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon.

The release from the Foundation indicates that for the next nine months, the selected entrepreneurs will receive intensive online training, networking and mentoring that provides a tool kit for success and sustainability. Later in the year, the entrepreneurs will join in the three day Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum which is the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurial talent.

“The 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs will become a generation of newly empowered African business owners, who are the clearest evidence yet, that indigenous business growth will drive Africa’s economic and social transformation,” Founder Tony Elumelu ,commented.

“In TEEP’s first year we spent over $8 million of our $100 million commitment – with $5 million going directly to entrepreneurs as seed capital — and the results have far exceeded our expectations,” said Elumelu .

To TEEP selection committee member Angelle Kwemo, it was a daunting task making the choice from the avalanche of brilliant and viable ideas. “We believe in Africa and the potential of its people,” said Kwemo, a Cameroonian, and Founder & chair of Believe in Africa, a US based organization promoting African economic transformation.

“The TEEP is proving to be one of the most effective tools in support of job creation and it should be adopted and duplicated,” Kwemo said, as she challenged other African businessmen and leaders to join forces or emulate the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Describing TEEP as “a life changing, challenging but rewarding journey,” Angelle Kwemo was pleased with the surge in French speaking entrepreneurs led in numbers by Cameroon. Wishing the new participants luck, Kwemo said Africa is looking forward to the full blown manifestation of the incredible potentials of the entrepreneurs.

Launched in 2015, TEEP is the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship and represents a 10-year, $100 million commitment, to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, create a million jobs and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is an Africa-based, African-funded philanthropic organization. Founded in 2010, TEF is committed to driving African economic growth, by empowering African entrepreneurship. The Foundation aims to create lasting solutions that contribute positively to Africa’s social and economic transformation. Through impact investments, selective grant making, and policy development, it seeks to influence the operating environment so that entrepreneurship in Africa can flourish

 

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AAI Conversations on Africa Seeks to Set Direction for the Next U.S. President
March 16, 2016 | 1 Comments
President & CEO of The Africa-America Institute Amini Kajunju

President & CEO of The Africa-America Institute Amini Kajunju

NEW YORK CITY – March 15, 2016 – As the U.S. presidential election gears up for the November election, AAI will host its next Conversations on Africa (COA) forum on April 21 on Capitol Hill, where congressional leaders, U.S. Government officials, policy experts and Members of the African Diplomatic Corps will take stock of the White House’s legacy on engagement with Africa and propose U.S.-Africa policy priorities for the next Administration.

The Conversation, Looking Ahead: Setting American Policy in Africa for the Next U.S. President”, will take place at Capitol Hill’s B338 Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The two-term Obama Administration will come to a close in less than a year. The full-day Conversations on Africa offers a platform for reflections and panel discussions on the White House and the Congress’ strategy and engagement with sub-Saharan Africa.

The Obama Administration laid out overarching pillars for U.S.-Africa policy to: strengthen democratic institutions; spur economic growth, trade, and investment; advance peace and security; and promote opportunity and development.

The White House signature initiatives and high-level events include Power Africa, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), and the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with sitting African Heads of State in 2014. President Obama also became the first U.S. president to visit the African Union in Addis Ababa in 2015.

During President Obama’s tenure, U.S. Congress passed a 10-year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the U.S.-Africa trade law, and the Electrify Africa Act, which aims to expand access to affordable and reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.

“AAI’s Conversations on Africa forum offers an opportune time for us to look back and reflect on Obama Administration’s legacy on U.S.-Africa policy,” said AAI President Amini Kajunju. “It also is a time to identify what more needs to be accomplished before the end of the congressional session, and hear perspectives in moving forward on future Africa engagement from foreign policy advisors to the top presidential candidates.”

Moderated by Witney Schneidman, Senior Nonresident Fellow at The Brookings Institute, the panel“Africa: What Should the Remaining Priorities for the 114th Congress Be?”, with congressional staffers of the House and Senate Subcommittee on Africa, will review the Administration’s key priorities and give an update on progress to date. Staffers will share where Congress stands on proposed U.S.-Africa policy legislative bills.

The panel “Reflections: The Obama Administration’s Approach to Promoting Education in Africa”, moderated by The Honorable Vivian Lowery Derryck, President & CEO of The Bridges Institute, will offer insight into the White House’s focus on education. Confirmed panelists include Julie Hanson Swanson, Deputy Chief, Education Division, Bureau of Africa, USAID and Her Excellency Mathilde Mukantabana, Rwanda

The Honorable Reuben E. Brigety II, George Washington University’s Dean of Elliott School of International Affairs, will deliver a Fireside Chat on “Identifying Best Practices for U.S. Engagement in Africa” during the Policy Luncheon.

(L) Amini Kajunju and Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma attend Africa-America Institute 60th Anniversary Awards Gala at New York Hilton on September 25, 2013 in New York City. (Sept. 24, 2013 - Source: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images North America)

(L) Amini Kajunju and Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma attend Africa-America Institute 60th Anniversary Awards Gala at New York Hilton on September 25, 2013 in New York City.
(Sept. 24, 2013 – Source: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images North America)

Prior to taking the helm of the Elliot School, Ambassador Brigety was the U.S. representative to the African Union and U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He also previously served as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of African Affairs and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, among other positions.

Carol Pineau, award-winning producer, writer, director and journalist will moderate what is expected to be a spirited panel “Beyond the Obama Administration: What Can We Expect for Africa?” with U.S. presidential candidate representatives. Candidate representatives will offer the presidential candidate’s perspective on U.S.-Africa policy and their vision for U.S. strategy for sub-Saharan Africa.

COA panels are still in formation and will be updated accordingly, leading up to the event.

*AAI .For more information, visit the Conversations on Africa event page

To RSVP to cover the event, please contact Shanta Bryant Gyan at email, shanta@sbgcommunications.com or call (202) 412-4603.  

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First American of African Descent appointed Area Engineer for District 5 in MD
February 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L*

Dr Keke

Dr Keke

The African immigrant community recently registered another mile stone with the appointment of Dr Peter.M. Keke as Area Engineer and Assistant District Engineer for District 5 in Md. Originally from Cameroon, Dr Keke is the first American of African descent to hold these positions. From 1990 when he got to the USA, it has been a very eventful journey for Dr Keke whose experiences mirror those of most other successful African immigrants. “Never let people define your destiny and do not allow yourself be cut in myths,” says Dr Keke as he settles into his new job.

Dr Keke, you recently became the first American of African descent to hold the Office of Area Engineer and Assistant District Engineer for Construction in the State of Maryland, how did your recent appointment come about?

The Assistant District Engineer for Construction position in District- 5 was opened to those who had the qualification to interview during the month of May 2015. I was one of the interviewees out of 5 people. The interview panel was made up of 4 people and each of us was drilled with 9 questions. The selected candidate was screened and interviewed by the Governors appointment secretary for final approval. Accordingly, I emerged successful and was appointed on December 7, 2015 based on my ability to meet all the requirements, demonstration of an efficient and effective understanding of construction and managerial principles throughout the interview and screening process.

May we know what exactly your new duties entail and what jurisdiction you cover?

In a nutshell, my new duties are administrative and engineering construction management. I represent the District on all matters relating to Highway and Bridge construction within my area. Some of the responsibilities are; management of a $356 million construction program annually, attend legislative meetings to advice and report on construction projects, challenges, and needs. Attend town hall public meetings. Represent and advice the District Engineer, Administrator, MDOT Secretary on construction related matters. Inspect and coordinate construction activities of contractors, hire construction inspections, and coordinate with upper management on how to attain the District’s strategic and construction goals.   My jurisdiction covers four counties: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties.

Prior to this new appointment, what functions did Dr Keke have within the MD Government?

I was a construction inspector from 1998 to 2000 in District-5. Then from 2000 I was a Project Engineer in the District up to 2004. I continued as a Project Engineer in District-3 from 2004 to 2006. In 2006 I became the first black Area Engineer in District-3 up to 2013 (District-3 covers Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties). In 2013,

I moved to District- 4 (that is Baltimore and Harford Counties) in the same capacity as the Area Engineer. And in December 7, 2015 I was appointed the Assistant District Engineer for Constriction in Disrtict-5.

What experiences and academic background does Dr Keke bring to his new job?

I bring lots of construction experiences in this position. First I worked in Ministry of Public work and Transport Cameroon, Highway Department Limbe after graduating from National School of Technology (Survey School Buea) as Chief or Technical Officer from 1982 to 1998. Then I became the Chief of Subdivision Highways Department Kumba from 1998 to 1990. I moved to the United States in May 1990 were I worked (from 1990 to 1996) at a gas station as security guard, and later served as a housekeeper, a nursing assistant, and a medicine aid, while at the same time going to school. From 1994 to 1997 I also served as the first Mathematical Student President of Bowie State University. In addition I served as a student tutor in both Mathematics (calculus 1, 2, and 3) and Engineering (Engineering mechanics and differential equations) in Bowie State University and University of Maryland College Park respectively. I also worked as a student mathematical intern with the National Air space Museum in Washington D.C for 3 months in 1997. During the same period from 1996 to 1998 I worked with the Driggs Construction Company as Quantity Engineer and Project Engineer before joining the Maryland State Highway in 1998.

Academically; I hold a diploma in Surveying, BS in Mathematics, BS in Civil Engineering, MS in Project Management/Engineering, and a PhD in Project Management.

For the immigrant that you are, how challenging has it been for you to get to where you are?

As an immigrant it has been very challenging with varied experiences from rejection, to temptations, oppositions, and a different culture. In short, the journey demands great patience, hard work, endurance, and tenacity. Another interesting challenge is language/accent. Despite the fact that I studied in the US, each time I talk people still see me as a foreigner because of my accent. Sometimes, you face rejection because of the accent and skin color. However, my focus is to not allow such distractions became obstacles; therefore, I have always been hard working, willing to learn at all times, and to take advantage of situations. My goal has always been to be the best at all times.

To the young ones who see in you a role model and will love to emulate your example and career trajectory, what message do you have for them?

Never let people define your destiny and do not allow yourself be cut in myths. For example, I was told a black foreign person cannot graduate from University of Maryland College Park. This is a myth since I graduated from the school with honors. Another, advice is to be patient with your plan, work hard on it and it will all pay off at the end. An important point to note is that transforming from a Cameroon society to US society is challenging. You must accept and be willing to make the change needed for assimilation. You will have to start with small or odd jobs, but do not allow the jobs to define you; rather use these small or odd jobs as a means to an end. Finally, things can be made much easier if you have a mentor. Though I had none, I find that a mentor to rely on can help understand, and guide you towards success.

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The International Criminal Court’s Failure Against ISIS:ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda Must Go
February 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

Jonathan Levy, PhD*

Dr Jonathan Levy

Dr Jonathan Levy

I accuse the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of gross negligence in the global struggle against ISIS and its affiliates.

The purpose of this allegation against the International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor is twofold. First to expose the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor Mrs. Fatou Bensouda as being in breach of her duties and to explain the reason a career ICC prosecutor would so badly fail in her responsibilities. Secondly, it has finally come to pass that the ICC through its long term fecklessness has at last become an unwitting tool of Sunni Muslim extremism in a world ravaged by the Daesh (ISIS) and its affiliates.

The International Criminal Court’s original purpose was to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and to aid victims of these crimes. This court’s record undeniably is poor and shabby, two convictions of minor sub Saharan war lords in 13 years of existence. All of its current pending cases are against Africans all but one black. And this after the expenditure of well over $1 billion. The current ICC budget for 2015 is over $150 million. These figures alone and lack of convictions qualify the ICC as one of the most wasteful international government organizations in history.

The first ten years of the ICC’s existence under Chief Prosecutor Ocampo were an example of extreme incompetency. With all the resources of the UN behind him Ocampo managed all of one conviction, a minor Congolese warlord. He handed off faltering cases against the rulers of Kenya and Sudan to his deputy and successor Fatou Bensouda. While Ocampo’s tenure can at best be called a joke; Bensouda has shown herself to be far more dangerous to human rights and international law.

Ocampo earned the distinction of being labeled a persecutor of Africans while ignoring war crimes in other parts of the world. Under Ocampo thousands of communications to the ICC sat for years before being rejected. The only cases opened were in Africa. Therefore, when ICC Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the former Justice Minister of Gambia and former UN Rwanda Tribunal prosecutor was elected to succeed Ocampo a collective sign of relief was in heard in Africa and beyond. Bensouda while not a stellar legal mind was at least thought to be competent and evenhanded towards Africans. Upon accepting her post, Bensouda touted her Islamic principles which did not raise any alarm bells at the time. Swept under the prayer rug of peace was the fact that Bensouda started her legal career as the Justice Minister for the dictatorial regime of Gambia strongman Yahya Jammeh.

Bensouda is a Sunni Muslim from Gambia and is married to a Moroccan businessman. Gambia was a small secular state in west Africa, whose overwhelming majority is Muslim. In December 2015, Gambia’s long time ruler Yahya Jammeh declared Gambia an Islamic republic. Bensouda obtained her law degree from Nigeria Law School.

However, it is the lack of action by Prosecutor Bensouda against the Islamic State or Daesh and its affiliates Al Shabaab and Boko Haram which elevates this deliberate nonfeasance to an entirely new level – intentional breach of duty by a truly flawed ICC Chief prosecutor who is blinded by her Sunni Muslim faith.

The Islamic State or “Daesh” is the single greatest threat of the 21st Century. The Daesh and its affiliates Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and others have claimed the lives of tens of thousands in Africa, Europe and the Middle East through numerous well documented crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. If one logically adds the Al Qaeda network to the mix, since Daesh began life as Al Qaeda in Iraq, the tactical reach of the organization is truly staggering. Since December 1, 2015 the Daesh has struck in such varied places as California, Chad, Aden, Nigeria, Dagestan, Philadelphia, Marseilles, Paris, Istanbul and Jakarta. This of course is in addition to more conventional Daesh ground forces in Somalia, Libya, Syria and Iraq. The list is incomplete but Daesh has the demonstrated ability to simultaneously undermine security in Africa, Asia, North America and Europe and challenge conventional forces on the ground. Not since World War Two has such a threat to stability and peace arisen. Today’s Daesh are as infamous as yesteryear’s Nazis for their cruelty and barbaric crimes.

Fatou Bensouda, the ICC has been accused of targeting African leaders

Fatou Bensouda, the ICC has been accused of targeting African leaders

Daesh is a global organization with cells and caliphates in countries that are firmly under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court including France, Kenya, Mali, Chad, Nigeria and the United Kingdom. It is undisputed that the Daesh modus operandi includes genocide against Shia, Christians, and Yazidis; and related war crimes and crimes against humanity. Verified video evidence exists of ISIS war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. There is uncontroverted evidence and admissions that IS has committed beheadings, suicide bombings, mass executions, enslavement, mass rape, looting, and destruction of cultural heritage. Thus even a newly minted prosecutor could find ample material upon which to build a case against the Daesh leadership and its henchmen.

Prosecutor Bensouda however has found no ICC jurisdiction exists because: “I have come to the conclusion that the jurisdictional basis for opening a preliminary examination into this situation is too narrow at this stage.”

Such a finding is not only an insult to the victims and their families but to the intelligence of the public and ICC member states. Prosecutor Bensouda has refused to act against the transnational Daesh network on the flimsiest of excuses. By refusing to act for justice and truth in the face of the worst threat to human dignity since Nazi Germany, Prosecutor Bensouda has joined the ranks of those Muslims who tacitly support Daesh through their silence except that Bensouda need not be silent. The world would applaud her even in a vain attempt to expose the criminality of the Daesh. What then ails Bensouda?

Prosecutor Bensouda is guilty of a serious breach of duty. Further, her refusal to open investigations of Daesh suggests a bias in favor of radical Islam given the credible allegations of Daesh funding and material assistance from NATO member Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Prosecutor Bensouda has effectively granted Daesh impunity from prosecution and has sent a message of non-accountability to the war criminals in the Daesh. This is inconsistent with the Rome Statute and the dignity of the ICC Prosecutor’s office. Bensouda like many Sunni Muslims somehow does not see the Daesh as the big problem facing the world today.

Legal argument – The International Criminal Court only has jurisdiction in the countries which have ratified the Rome Statute. This includes many countries where Daesh and its affiliates including Boko Haram and Al Shabaab operate and have committed numerous atrocities: Afghanistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Chad, Mali, Tunisia and Niger. In Nigeria alone Boko Haram claimed over 6000 victims in 2014.

Since Daesh operates as a unified organization, even though the ICC cannot indict them for crimes committed in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, and Libya, it surely may indict the Daesh for crimes committed within ICC jurisdiction. The question is why has the ICC not done so?

Fatou Bensouda has offered this mind boggling rationale to justify a hands off policy towards Islamic terror. According to Bensouda, she can do nothing because Daesh seems to be mainly based in Syria and Iraq and therefore these countries are not ICC members. She stated, “In this context, I have come to the conclusion that the jurisdictional basis for opening a preliminary examination into this situation is too narrow at this stage.”

Perhaps to someone ignorant that Boko Haram has joined Daesh or that Daesh is active in Afghanistan, Bensouda’s excuse may sound vaguely plausible. However, it is not plausible but disingenuous. Fatou Bensouda not only has forsaken the best chance for the ICC to be seen as something more than a persecutor of Africans but to actually be relevant in international law. This is all bad enough but something even more sinister lurks in Bensouda’s flawed logic.

Fatou Bensouda is a Sunni Muslim. When asked by Al Arabiya if her religion influenced her, she answered it definitely did, “Islam, as you know, is a religion of peace, and it gives you this inner strength, this inner ability and a sense of justice. Together with my experience, this will help a lot.”

Bensouda’s failure to act against the Daesh, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, and Al Shabaab becomes even more flagrant when viewed in terms of the cases upon which she is currently squandering ICC resources.

The ICC has been chasing the Sudanese president Al Bashir for years. Surely, he is no poster child for human rights yet an agreement was made with Southern Sudan that has saved the lives of millions. More tellingly, Sudan is on the front line struggle against Daesh, at least one Daesh affiliate operates in Sudan. Arresting Al Bashir would likely throw the entire Sudan region into chaos much like Libya.

Speaking of Libya, the ICC instead of chasing the head chopping Daesh that have set themselves in Libya, has concerned itself with the hapless Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi as an indirect co-perpetrator of crimes against humanity: a man whose father for all his faults kept the extremists out of Libya. Saif Gaddafi is a proxy for his murdered father.

Yet another very important front line state in the struggle against Daesh is under ICC attack. The president and vice president of Kenya have been charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity. Kenya furnishes the bulk of troops in the war against Daesh affiliate Al Shabaab in Somalia and the Kenyans have paid a heavy price in blood for their willingness to guard east Africa from extremism. Prosecuting the brave foes of the Daesh seems weirdly flawed.

Finally, we have the ultimate proof of Bensouda’s insularity. While Daesh has destroyed and looted priceless ancient Roman and pre Roman sites in Syria, Iraq and Libya, the ICC has concerned itself with vandalism of Muslim mausoleums in Timbuktu, Mali. On 18 September 2015 the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Ahmad al-Faqi, who is accused of the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, specifically the mausoleums and mosques located in Timbuktu. Thus the Daesh may pillage and destroy classical archaeological sites but the ICC somehow sees the damaging of Muslim sites in Mali as the greater crime and evil. Meanwhile the antiquities market in Europe and Turkey are glutted with the fruits of Daesh looting.

Selective justice? Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is standing trial at the Hague, but what about the other well known culprits of the Ivory Coast crisis?

Selective justice? Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is standing trial at the Hague, but what about the other well known culprits of the Ivory Coast crisis?

The ICC has recognized Palestine and has called the Turkish Gaza flotilla incident a minor war crime. This does not bode well for Israel another bulwark nation against Daesh. However, given the glacial approach favored by ICC nothing substantive will likely occur regarding Palestine this decade. Other ICC failing under Bensouda can be evidenced by lack of action in Ukraine where ICC foot dragging has permitted the Ukrainian government a free hand.

Nuremburg this is not – we don’t know if Bensouda studied the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial at Nigeria Law School but they are the standard for swift and efficient justice. Unlike UN Tribunals in which trials can drag out for ten years or more, Nuremburg disposed of Nazi Germany’s major war criminals in 11 months. This was done without information technology, the Internet and a $150 million annual budget.

The crimes of the Daesh are well documented in video, admissions, and written statements. There is no lack of evidence. Being a criminal defense attorney it seems odd to me to be castigating a prosecutor for not doing their job but in this case Bensouda is undermining the promises of international law. A prosecutor who won’t do her job must be removed from her position. A Muslim prosecutor who does not deem the Daesh worthy of pursuing is blinded by the religion of peace and is impeding justice. She is a menace who must be sacked.

The bottom line is that Fatou Bensouda by invoking a legally flawed jurisdictional argument to avoid the Daesh has presented the Daesh with the greatest gift of all – impunity for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Fatou Bensouda must be removed from her post for the sake of the victims of the Daesh.

*Dr. Jonathan Levy is a member of the International Criminal Court Bar and is an adjunct member of the Political Science faculty at Norwich University and Southern New Hampshire University. As Chief Administrative Officer of the Organization of Emerging African States OEAS, he has called for ICC member states to remove Fatou Bensouda from her position as ICC prosecutor. Paper prepared  for the John Naisbitt University, National and International Security Conference on Contemporary Global Challenges, 3-4 February 2016 Belgrade, Serbia

 

 

 

 

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The plunder of West Africa Ebola funds
January 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

The much-vaunted rebuilding of livelihoods ruined by Ebola is far from happening.

Fisayo Soyombo *

In early 2014, when the Ebola virus began ravaging three West African countries, it came with an all-shattering venom.

Although Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and the Congo were all affected, the real devastation occurred in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

In these three countries, humans were crushed by the virus. Dozens died long before medics reached an understanding of the intruder they were dealing with. Medical facilities were overwhelmed at an alarming rate, already-lean government purses were stretched to the limits, the courage of health workers was tested to the brim, and normal human life was ruined.

A cry for help

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president, called on the world for help in October 2014. Her country had spent the previous 11 years recovering from its civil war, and she feared that Ebola was threatening to “erase all the hard work”.

“This fight requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise,” she wrote in a widely publicised open letter.

By that time, 9,191 people across West Africa were suspected to have been infected and 4,546 had died. In  Liberia, 4,262 people had been found to infected by the virus, while 2,484 had died. Guinea and Sierra Leone had the bulk of the deficit of 2,062 deaths.

And so the funds started coming in. Within a month of Sirleaf’s plea, money pledged from outside Africa to the Ebola-hit countries was building up. By July 2015, the United Nations announced that donors had promised $5.2bn, which far outweighed the $3.2bn the three countries said they needed to “return to the progress of [their] pre-Ebola trauma“.

In Liberia, the outbreak left half the heads of households out of work, while women – who account for more workers in the non-agricultural, self-employed sectors – were among the hardest hit. Ebola’s destruction of livelihoods sorely needed to be addressed.

This was acknowledged at a UN meeting in July 2015 at which President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of the three Ebola-hit countries, said: “Humanity sometimes displays short attention spans and wants to move to other issues because the threat from Ebola seems over … The threat is never over until we rebuild the health sector Ebola demolished, until we rebuild the livelihoods it compromised.”

Cruel mismanagement

A month after Koroma’s statement, I was on a plane to Liberia to investigate how the money had been used, courtesy of some civil society initiatives to monitor the situation on the ground. My findings were damning.

The much-vaunted “rebuilding of livelihoods ruined by Ebola” was far from happening. The Liberian government, whose task force destroyed the belongings of Ebola patients, was providing no help as survivors struggled daily for decent food, housing and employment. As Josephine Karwah, one of only three pregnant women to survive the virus, told me, the government left survivors “in a limbo”.

It was enough evidence that none of the dozen survivors I spoke to could pinpoint a single instance when the government offered help. But that wasn’t all. Liberia’s anti-corruption watchdog audited only a fraction ($15m) of the funding, and found that $800,000, most of which passed through the defence ministry, could not be accounted for.

“The conduct of the affairs of the National Ebola Trust Fund [NETF] were marred by financial irregularities and material control deficiencies for a number of transactions carried out by the Incident Management System and the eight Implementing Partners of the NETF,” the General Auditing Commission said in a report published on its website.

President Ernest Koroma

President Ernest Koroma

Specific instances of corruption included the disbursement of $600,000 for fuel, feeding, daily subsistence allowance, communication, medical training, repair and maintenance, without supporting documents; and the payment of $10,000 to 68 officers in 10 counties who could not be physically seen or whose names could not be traced in the daily attendance records.

In neighbouring Sierra Leone, the situation was no better. The report of the Audit Service of Sierra Leone unearthed a series of financial irregularities, most notably payments to thousands of fictitious health workers, and expenses running into several hundreds of thousands of dollars without supporting documentation.

Up until now the biggest outcry over the gulf between the money donated and that spent on the post-Ebola recovery has been in Liberia and Sierra Leone, but it may well be that the scariest levels of corruption have happened in Guinea.

The Ebola Fund Watch report launched by BudgIT in November 2015 reveals that although Guinea had received donations worth $330m as of November 4, 2015, there is not one audit report on the use of the fund.

The “reports of mismanagement” suggested in this report are given credence by the former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo’s description of Guinea as a country where “contracts aren’t signed and investments aren’t made”.

For a country ranked 139th out of 168 in Transparency International’s corruption perception index, Guinea’s lack of documentation for its use of the funds mirrors the secrecy with which Ebola funds were mismanaged in West Africa.

In all three countries, no individual has been tried, much less convicted, for their role in the mismanagement of money meant to save the lives of the dying. And these are people who – to parody novelist Bangambiki Habyarimana’s words – are still here on earth when they deserve to be sent to hell!

*AL Jazeera.Fisayo Soyombo edits the Nigerian online newspaper TheCable.

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African leaders urge passage of Electrify Africa Act
January 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Tony Elumelu and Aliko Dangote*

Dangote, Elumelu at World Economic Forum Davos

Dangote, Elumelu at World Economic Forum Davos

In the next week, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Electrify Africa Act, passed by the Senate under unanimous consent late last year. This bill directs the President to establish a multiyear strategy to assist countries in sub-Saharan Africa implement national power strategies and develop an appropriate mix of power solutions, including renewable energy, to provide access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable power in order to reduce poverty and drive economic growth.

On behalf of the African Energy Leaders Group (AELG), a high-level public-private partnership launched last year, we welcome the leadership of the U.S. Congress on this issue. It is our view that the Electrify Africa Act will provide a durable strategic framework to address the challenges of energy poverty on the continent by leveraging a private sector-led, market-based approach which is essential to the sustainability of this effort over time. If passed, Electrify Africa will be the most significant legislation to advance U.S. commercial relations with the continent of Africa since the initial passage of AGOA, 15 years ago.

A wide range of energy sources exist on the continent. Yet, more than 600 million Africans lack access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services. Hundreds of millions are also denied access to basic nutrition, quality education, medical services and sanitation due to lack of adequate energy supply. Recent surveys of African businesses reveal that energy costs account for 40-60 percent of operating expenditure (more than 10 times what it is in the United States), dramatically increasing the cost of doing business in Africa. The effect of the power deficit on our economies is damaging and tangibly constrains development.

Africa has the largest rates of extreme poverty and the fastest population growth of any region. The rapid industrialization and sustained economic development necessary to provide jobs for this growing population simply cannot be achieved on a weak power base

We have been encouraged by the increasing awareness among both African and U.S. political leaders on these issues, and by the willingness of the private sector to invest alongside governments in meeting the growing demand for power on the continent. Through the much-lauded Power Africa Initiative, the United States is helping to provide assistance for policy reforms and transactions which expand infrastructure and strengthen regulations in the power sector. This is not only good for Africa, as these initiatives benefit U.S. companies seeking access to new and rapidly expanding markets for their equipment, expertise and products.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is another critical development instrument which supports U.S. investments in Africa’s energy sector. However, it is hampered by well-intentioned yet counterproductive restrictions on carbon emissions for projects financed even in the lowest emitting countries of the world.  In order to better leverage U.S. resources towards implementing the objectives of the Electrify Africa Act, we encourage Congress to follow this legislation with a strong reauthorization of OPIC that includes the flexibility to align with the national realities and priorities of the countries you wish to help and considers the full range of energy options available to them. In this regard, we must work together to identify an appropriate balance between poverty alleviation and environmental protection.

We applaud the efforts of all those who have championed the Electrify Africa Act, and urge the House of Representatives to pass this legislation without delay. From our perspective, this bill would codify access to electricity in Africa as a long-term U.S. foreign policy priority, for the benefit of millions of Africans and for U.S. companies doing business on the continent.

*The Hill.Dangote is president of the Dangote Group. Elumelu is chairman of Heirs Holdings and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Both are co-founders of the African Energy Leaders Group.

The African Energy Leaders Group, launched at the World Economic Forum in January 2015, is a working group of high-level African business leaders and heads of state. In line with the targets of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All), one of the group’s primary goals is guaranteeing access to reliable, affordable energy services for all Africans by 2030, through regional power pools and innovative public-private partnerships

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Dear Africa, presidential term limits is not democracy
January 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

By *

Photo: Ndimby Andriantsoavina

Photo: Ndimby Andriantsoavina

It is has become obvious that the discussion on democracy in Africa has become solely about presidential term limits. Going a step further, it seems power grabbing and bad leaders are an African problem. Shall Africa accept this false characterization? What is our responsibility?

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to speak on RFI’s Appel sur l’actualité on the referendum on presidential terms limits happening the next day in Rwanda. I didn’t get a chance to say what was on my mind, so I decided to write instead. Dear Africans, do not be duped, presidential term limits is not democracy.

What do I mean? Having a president who has a limit of two terms is not a guarantee that he or she will accomplish anything worthwhile in power. If the sole gauge of a successful term in office is respecting term limits, why is Europe not following its own advice?

Africa is not the bedrock of bad governance, dictators or corruption. On RFI, host Juan Gomez asked, “How can we put an end to this ‘African’ tendency of power grabbing…” And all the Africans on the call chimed in, “Yes, we must stop these African leaders…” I felt like I was reliving the partition of Africa. Does Africa have bad leaders? Yes, we have had some incompetent, corrupt leaders. So has Italy, Greece, Japan, Brazil, Canada, the US, Germany, France etc.

There is nothing that bothers me more than Africa accepting to be told who we are, what we should do, and what our limits are. The last time that happened, we were being colonized. Should African leaders be held accountable for their leadership? Absolutely. Should citizens rise up to demand the leadership they deserve? Most certainly, in fact, those examples are rarely spotlighted – like what happened in Burkina Faso or Senegal before that. Even Burundi, as complex as the situation has become, is about the people rejecting a self-proclaimed incompetent president.

I feel like we need a monthly lesson in African history given from [independent] African voices. Has the West brain washed us into thinking we didn’t have highly structured, efficient governance systems before they “discovered” us. In Rwanda, we certainly did. And using the Church, the German then Belgian colonizers convinced us (forcefully) that ours was a primitive system needing saving and the consequences of this are buried in graves across the country.

Beyond term limits

The issue isn’t how many terms but what you do with those terms. Like one Facebook commentator said, “What is the point of serving two terms, everyone claps for you for leaving and then you leave the country in billions of dollars of deficit that you and your cronies have carved up and stolen, with the support of the West?” Yes it is not always the case, but I think it is time that as Africans, individually and collectively, we ask ourselves, what is our responsibility in all of this? And what can we do going forward?

Protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza. Photo: AFP

Protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza. Photo: AFP

I don’t buy the argument that we can’t do anything about it. Thomas Sankara was a man like us. Even colonialism seemed impossible to overcome and some days, I wonder if we will ever get over the mountain of neo-colonialism, but the point is, we are not helpless.

In Rwanda, we have taken off the shackles of helplessness. I have said this before, we have many challenges but we reject being lectured to about things we know better than anyone else. Our President and his government have succeeded in rebuilding the nation under impossible circumstances. I was in a meeting a year ago, and a local leader said that everything was fine in his area and it wasn’t. Children were severely malnourished. After the statement, President Kagame showed pictures that had been taken without the knowledge of the local leader and I will never forget his words, “Shall we boast about progress when our children are hungry?” That is leadership. Africa needs leadership.

What is democracy?

I could give you a hundred examples but let me quote a young man who called into a radio program the day before the referendum, “My relationship with government starts and ends with service provision, if President Kagame’s government has done this, even beyond our expectations, why should we not be allowed to vote for him again. Shall the US dictate to us how to live? Shall France tell us what to do? That time has passed.”

Democracy is governance by the people for the people and for the last two centuries, everyone but Africans has decided what this means. Don’t get me wrong, we share some of that responsibility but now is the time, we are that generation that should define who we are not in response to stereotypes but drawing from history and looking to the future.

President Paul Kagame joins residents in Umuganda to build homes for the needy. Photo: Paul Kagame Flickr

President Paul Kagame joins residents in Umuganda to build homes for the needy. Photo: Paul Kagame Flickr

Rwandans are not being duped, they are exercising strategic wisdom. I actually wanted the new draft constitution to completely take off term limits, which have become a tool for manipulation and distraction, but Parliament decided to keep the two term limit with a seven year transition.

I want you to think for a minute, say term limits are not an issue like in Germany or Canada, what then are the checks and balances to power? Decentralization, inclusive economic policies, accountable governance mechanisms like performance contracts, robust civil service, independent judicial system, an empowered Parliament, an active civil society, media etc. Where are the discussions about this? Because these are the areas where Rwandans have spent most of their energy in the last twenty years, albeit imperfectly, and where much more effort has to be spent.

In this globalizing world, where Africa is the last frontier of exploitation, only leaders and countries focused on inclusive, strategic policies and interventions will survive. Africa, please don’t drown in poisoned poetic rhetoric about the democracy of others that we can’t seem to have; we need action, we need leaders.

Choose leaders who will better your life, speak against inequality (African resources are feeding the whole world while we go hungry) and who owe nothing to neo-colonialists. Hold those leaders accountable and if there aren’t any, then it is time for you to run for office. This is the Africa I want.

It is not utopia, it will take sacrifice – even death. Are we willing to pay the price?

*This Is Africa

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Oxford statue row stirs ghosts of British colonialism
January 3, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Dario Thuburn*

A popular movement at the University of South Africa forced the removal of a statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes (AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch)

A popular movement at the University of South Africa forced the removal of a statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes (AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch)

London (AFP) – The toxic legacy of colonialism in Africa has stirred up a heated debate in Britain involving a prestigious Oxford University college, some high-powered alumni and a student campaign boosted by social media.

The focus of the debate is an unremarkable limestone statue looking down on Oxford’s High Street of Cecil Rhodes, the Victorian-era tycoon who founded the De Beers diamond company and what is now Zimbabwe.

“To put someone so literally on a pedestal is to tacitly condone their legacy,” said Daisy Chandley, a student and organising member of the Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford campaign.

Smudged by passing traffic on a busy thoroughfare and soiled by pigeons, the Rhodes statue is still in a stunning location surrounded by Oxford’s dreaming spires in the heart of the university’s college community.

An inscription underneath pays homage to Rhodes — a white supremacist like many builders of the British empire — for his donation to Oriel College.

Inspired by the popular movement that forced the removal of a statue of the famous colonialist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, campaigners have been asking the British college to do the same.

– ‘Wider racism’ –

The campaigns are distinct but supporters in Oxford use the same hashtag #RhodesMustFall as the Cape Town campaign and their actions have fuelled a political debate in South Africa as well as soul-searching in Britain ranging well beyond the statue itself.

“There have always been those who have questioned the statue as well as the wider racism within the university but the movement in South Africa brought debate over similar problems in Oxford to the forefront and triggered collective action,” Chandley told AFP.

The university rejects accusations of racism but Oriel College promised to be “more diverse and inclusive of people from all backgrounds” in a response to the campaign earlier this month.

It said it would take down a Rhodes plaque on the wall of another college building and agreed to a six-month “listening exercise” on whether to remove the statue.

The college said Rhodes’s values “stand in absolute contrast to the ethos of the scholarship programme today and to the values of a modern University”.

It said it would put up a sign in an antique window below the statue saying that “the College does not in any way condone or glorify his views or actions”.

But it also talked up the positive contribution of the Rhodes Scholarships, which have allowed 8,000 students from around the world to study at Oxford, including former US president Bill Clinton and former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott.

One of the organisers of the campaign, South African Ntokozo Qwabe, was himself named a Rhodes Scholar last year and has defended himself against charges of hypocrisy by saying that he is taking back some of the money that Rhodes took from Africa.

“I’m no beneficiary of Rhodes. I’m a beneficiary of the resources and labour of my people which Rhodes pillaged and slaved,” he wrote on Facebook.

– ‘A man of his times’ –

Academics, politicians and famous Oxford alumni have waded into the row, heatedly debating the rights and wrongs of honouring a man who was a major driver of British territorial expansion in southern Africa and a key player in the Boer Wars that left thousands dead.

One opponent of the campaign even compared it to the monument-destroying Islamic State group.

In a letter to The Times newspaper, South Africa’s last white president F. W. de Klerk, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, dismissed the campaign as “folly”.

“If the political correctness of today were applied consistently, very few of Oxford’s great figures would pass scrutiny,” wrote de Klerk, who was key in ending racial segregation in South Africa.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, a radical left-wing party in South Africa, expressed “disgust” at de Klerk’s comments and called for his Nobel to be revoked.

“All apartheid and colonial statues and symbols must fall, not just here in South Africa, but the world over,” it said in a statement.

But in an open letter to Britain’s Independent daily, Abbott said Rhodes was “a man of his times”.

“The university should remember that its mission is not to reflect fashion but to seek truth and that means striving to understand before rushing to judge.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo

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This is How We Got to Zero Ebola Cases in West Africa
January 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY AMY POPE*

Summary:
President Obama with leaders from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea affected by Ebola

President Obama with leaders from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea affected by Ebola

The world has now gone over 40 consecutive days without a single reported Ebola case. Here’s how we helped make that possible

For the first time since this outbreak was detected in West Africa in early 2014, the world has now gone over 40 consecutive days without a single reported Ebola case.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Guinea has successfully halted Ebola transmission and now joins Sierra Leone and Liberia in recovering from this devastating disease. This represents a significant milestone for Guinea, West Africa, and the international community.

Today we reflect on what is possible when partners around the world come together to solve a common problem. Through the undaunted courage of local communities and heroes from around the world, West Africa was able to halt Ebola. The United States was proud to offer help along with partners around the world.

Today we remember Ebola’s victims, and embrace the communities, families, healthcare workers, and survivors.

While we can take pride in what has been accomplished, our work is far from finished. West Africa is still at risk of a re-emergence of Ebola and other infectious disease threats. In addition, the people of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have disproportionately suffered from secondary economic and health effects. Rates of malaria, vaccine preventable illnesses, and unsafe child births are worse. And thousands of orphans and Ebola survivors are working to rebuild their lives in the wake of the Ebola crisis.

The United States and our partners will continue to support the Ebola affected countries in several ways:

  • First, we will remain vigilant against Ebola and other infectious disease threats. We are supporting all three countries to build and maintain strong surveillance, laboratory, and rapid outbreak response systems for Ebola. The U.S. government stands ready to help respond to any new cases of Ebola and continues to work with the governments of the affected countries and partners to sustain the gains made by building local capacity.
  • Second, we are working with the governments of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other partners in the region and around the world to develop long-term capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats through the development of five year plans to achieve all targets of the Global Health Security Agenda. The United States has committed to assisting at least 30 partners achieve these goals, starting in West Africa.
  • Third, we are working closely with all three governments and with other partners to rebuild economies and assist the economic recovery of the region. For example:
    • On November 2, our Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the government of Liberia signed a $257 million compact that combines infrastructure investments with policy and institutional reforms designed to modernize the country’s power sector and strengthen its road maintenance systems. MCC’s investment complements efforts to help Liberia recover from the Ebola outbreak, significantly enhances the U.S. government’s Power Africa engagement in Liberia, and supports two sectors critical for broad growth.
    • On November 17, the MCC and the Republic of Sierra Leone signed a new $44 million Threshold Program—through which the MCC will support policy reforms, build institutional capacity, and improve governance in the water and electricity sectors. The partnership comes as Sierra Leone emerges from the devastating Ebola outbreak and complements economic recovery efforts.
    • The U.S. government and United Nation partners are helping families recover from the economic effects of the crisis by helping to meet household food needs while encouraging school attendance by providing daily hot meals in schools in the most Ebola-affected areas—meals have been provided to about 120,000 children. Girls who attend school are provided with a take-home ration of vegetable oil to encourage attendance. Last quarter, food vouchers were provided to 10,000 beneficiaries in the region.
  • And finally, the U.S. government is supporting the overall restoration of basic health services in the Ebola affected region. For example:
    • In Liberia, we are supporting basic health services in six counties, including the procurement and distribution of essential medicines to community clinics and supporting national catch-up immunization campaigns to prevent five diseases. We have supported a measles vaccination campaign at the county, district, and community levels in Lofa and Margibi counties.
    • In Sierra Leone, the U.S. government is partnering with other donors to procure and distribute essential life-saving medicines and health supplies to clinics around the country and to restore functional capability to key parts of the health sector supply chain of Sierra Leone that were damaged heavily by the effects of Ebola. Activities will reach nearly 3 million residents in the hardest hit districts, including Bombali, Port Loko, Western Area Urban, and Western Area Rural.
    • In Guinea, the U.S. government is supporting the restoration of basic health services at 112 facilities. U.S. government partners are also providing training for health care workers in hospitals and clinics on infection prevention and control protocols, including the use of personal protective equipment (gloves, gowns, masks), procedures for isolating patients who many have an infectious illness, and the safe management of laboratory samples. These measures will help prevent the spread of Ebola or other communicable diseases and improve patient care at health facilities.

As we celebrate the occasion of no new Ebola cases in West Africa, the United States is committed to standing with Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone now, and into the future.

*Source White House.‎Amy Pope is Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security

 

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Liberia's last two Ebola patients recover, leave hospital
December 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

File photo of men sitting in front of a house where Ebola victim Nathan Gbotoe lived, in Paynesville, Liberia, November 24, 2015. REUTERS/James Giahyue File photo of men sitting in front of a house where Ebola victim Nathan Gbotoe lived, in Paynesville, Liberia, November 24, 2015. REUTERS/James Giahyue[/caption] MONROVIA (Reuters) – Liberia released its last two known Ebola cases from hospital on Thursday as it starts a new countdown to declaring itself free of the virus for a third time, health officials said.

Liberia had been the only country in West Africa with known cases. Neighbor Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free in November while Guinea’s last known case recovered two weeks ago.

“There are no cases in the ETUs (Ebola Treatment Units) in the entire Republic of Liberia,” said Tolbert Nyenswah, head of Liberia’s Ebola response, adding that Ebola safety procedures remained in place.

The two patients released from the Paynesville ETU are the father and younger brother of the presumed index case, a 15-year-old boy named Nathan Gbotoe from a suburb of the capital Monrovia who died from the disease last week. [ID:nL8N13J1V8]

However, new cases could still emerge in Liberia since there are 165 contacts still under quarantine, of whom more than 30 are deemed high risk, health officials told Reuters.

[caption id="attachment_22904" align="alignright" width="300"]Liberia has twice been declared Ebola-free since the huge outbreak last year that killed thousands in the country (AFP Photo/Evan Schneider) Liberia has twice been declared Ebola-free since the huge outbreak last year that killed thousands in the country (AFP Photo/Evan Schneider)[/caption] Nyenswah say the contacts under surveillance have completed 14 of their obligatory 21-day monitoring – a period that corresponds with the typical incubation period of the virus. “No need to cancel your plane ticket when you are planning to come to Liberia. Continue to come here; the place is safe,” Nyenswah told reporters.

Liberian medical workers are still grappling to explain how Ebola re-emerged in Liberia more than two months after it was declared free of the virus by the World Health Organization.

Resurgent cases in Liberia, possibly transmitted sexually by survivors, has cast doubt on the current policy of labeling a country Ebola-free after 42 days.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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Baby joy for Nigerian Ebola survivor
November 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

Lagos (AFP) – A Nigerian medical doctor who contracted and recovered from Ebola has given birth in the United States, the hospital where she works in Lagos said on Tuesday.

[caption id="attachment_22148" align="alignleft" width="300"]Ebola virus survivors including Dr. Ada Igonoh (C) speak to volunteer Nigerian health workers on a mission to fight the Ebola virus in affected West African countries, in Lagos on December 3, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei) Ebola virus survivors including Dr. Ada Igonoh (C) speak to volunteer Nigerian health workers on a mission to fight the Ebola virus in affected West African countries, in Lagos on December 3, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)[/caption]

“First Consultants Medical Centre officially announces that resident staff and Ebola survivor Dr Ada Igonoh gave birth to a baby girl a few hours ago,” it said in a statement.

“The baby girl, weighing nine pounds one ounce (4.11 kilos), was born at the Greater El-Monte Community Hospital, California.”

First Consultants hospital, a 40-bed private clinic in the bustling Obalende district of Lagos, was where Nigeria’s first case of Ebola was detected in July last year.

Igonoh helped to treat the patient, a Liberian finance ministry official, and certified him dead several days after he was first admitted. She fell ill the following week.

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates published her lengthy account of the experience on his blog www.gatesnotes.com/Health/Surviving-Ebola-Dr-Ada-Igonoh.

First Consultants said Igonoh had been under medical supervision since becoming pregnant and that her daughter was certified Ebola-free at birth.

The birth was “a new lease of life and in memory of fallen colleagues and survivors of Ebola”, it added.

The World Health Organization declared Nigeria Ebola-free in October 2014 after seven deaths from 19 confirmed cases.

Across West Africa, more than 11,000 people have died from the disease since late 2013 — the deadliest outbreak since the virus was first identified in 1976.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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