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Mozambique: Peace, but Not At Any Price, Says Nyusi
October 3, 2016 | 0 Comments

downloadMaputo — Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party has the duty to restore peace – but not at any price, declared Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Saturday.

Speaking at the opening in the southern city of Matola of a National Conference of Frelimo Cadres, held as part of the preparations for the 11th Congress of Frelimo, scheduled for September 2017, Nyusi said “our sense of responsibility, our tolerance and our patience must never mean that we are afraid to defend this country, which we liberated with so much sacrifice”.

“Peace yes, but not at any price”, he insisted, making it clear that no deal between the government and the Renamo rebels could violate the country’s constitution and laws.

“Our stance of tolerance and dialogue contrasts markedly with the warmongering posture of Renamo, which is the enemy of peace and of progress in Mozambique”, added Nyusi. “Renamo has publicly taken a position of generalizing the conflict, to worsen still further the suffering of the people”.

Peace, he said, was a burning issue precisely because “a small group is mercilessly cutting down the lives of Mozambicans”. Renamo was “every day threatening the free circulation of people and goods, making the lives of Mozambicans more difficult”, obliging citizens to produce “under conditions where their lives are at risk”. Marketing of agricultural produce was blocked by Renamo’s armed attacks, and the prices of goods and services were driven upwards.

Under these circumstances, “this question of peace must constitute a national concern”, declared Nyusi. “Frelimo has to discuss and recommend solutions which can lead us to an effective peace, and give tranquility back to the Mozambican people”.

Nyusi stressed that, following the 2017 Congress, Frelimo would face the challenges of the municipal elections scheduled for 2018 and the presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections of 2019.

“Like the previous challenges it has faced since it was founded in 1962, Frelimo has no alternative but to win in all these battles”, he said.

“Our adversaries would like to emulate the victorious journey Frelimo has travelled for more than half a century”, Nyusi continued. “But that would only be possible in parties with an internal democracy similar to ours. It would only be possible with parties rooted in the people as ours is. It would only be possible in parties with dynamic, enthusiastic and ever renewed structures such as those that characterize our party”.

But he warned against taking victory for granted. The fact that Frelimo has won elections so far “should not make us triumphalist”, Nyusi said. “On the contrary, it should be a reason for more commitment, and permanent attempts to do better”.

Frelimo had won in the past because of its discipline and internal cohesion, he argued, and much of his speech was an impassioned call on party members not to allow Frelimo’s discipline and cohesion to be broken.

Discipline was “not a mere expedient for winning elections, but is a defining element of our organization”, Nyusi said. Thus anyone who violates Frelimo’s rules of discipline is attacking “one of our Party’s defining characteristics and founding elements”

“By prioritizing party discipline for 2016, we want to bring this key element for all our victories to the attention of our cadres, members and sympathizers. We want to reaffirm that, just as in the past, the victories of today and tomorrow depend on our capacity to maintain and display a high level and sense of discipline”, he stressed.

He warned that “internal discipline is not compatible with intrigue, with divisive behaviour, with lack of punctuality, and lack of commitment to tasks”.

Discipline, Nyusi continued, “is not to be confused with backbiting, and with lack of respect for higher or lower party bodies. It is not to be confused with liberalism”.

“Being disciplined means being fully aware that the Party’s bodies are much more important than our own egos, or than each of us individually”, he stressed. “To be disciplined is to be fully aware that it is not worth much to be applauded and praised individually, if that applause and praise do not extend to the Party which sustains us, or contribute to corroding the Party’s prestige and good name. Discipline distinguishes us from our enemies”.

Internal cohesion was another “basic element” in Frelimo, Nyusi said, and it exists “when the Party’s bodies, from the branch up to the Congress, are working in a dynamic and harmonious manner”.

“There is cohesion”, he added, “when the spirit of internal unity and of criticism and self-criticism informs the life of each member of our party. Internal cohesion is essential for forming a functional and victorious political organization”.

“Cohesion”, the President continued, “is the shared conviction that differences of opinion should not be a factor of division or of suspicion. On the contrary, they should strengthen internal debate and the search for a common vision”.

Nyusi thought it obvious “that discipline and internal cohesion complete each other and are the key to victory in the challenges we will have to face in the future. They are the key for us to remain relevant as the Party of change, and as the interpreters of the deepest aspirations of our people”.

The three day cadre conference is a consultative event, and so it cannot take decisions that are binding on Frelimo members. Nonetheless the debates among the 3,000 cadres attending the conference here will certainly be taken into consideration when the Frelimo Central Committee meets later in the month.

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SADC launches groundwater management Institute
September 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Ms Deborah Mochotlhi, Deputy Director General Department of Water and Sanitation Republic of South Africa

Ms Deborah Mochotlhi, Deputy Director General Department of Water and Sanitation Republic of South Africa

A newly established regional Centre of Excellence on Groundwater, the SADC Groundwater Management Institute (SADC-GMI), has been launched as a mechanism for implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Programme in SADC Member States, according to information released by Barbara Lopi ,Communications and Awareness Expert for  Water Sector at the

SADC Secretariat.

According to the SADC secretariat, the SADC-GMI is hosted by the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, within the Institute of Groundwater Studies on behalf of and under the strategic guidance of SADC Secretariat’s Directorate of Infrastructure and Services – water sector.

Representatives from the Ministries responsible for Water in SADC Member States witnessed the  launch which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa on 20 September 2016.

The SADC secretariat reports that preparations for the establishment and host of the SADC-GMI started in 2009 under the SADC Groundwater and Drought Management Project when Universities in SADC Member States where invited to express interest in hosting the Institute.

“After intensive processes, including visits to the shortlisted universities in three of the SADC Member States, the Institute of Groundwater Studies at the University of Free State emerged as a suitable host,” SADC secretariat said.

The SADC-GMI will collaborate with Member States to promote sustainable groundwater management and design solutions to groundwater challenges in the SADC region through building capacity interventions, training, research, supporting infrastructure development, and enabling dialogue and exchange of groundwater information.

One of the SADC-GMI’s its immediate priorities will be to build on previous and ongoing achievements related to groundwater management in the region. The achievements include improving stewardship of existing groundwater resources, as well as those utilising advanced technologies to collect and compile data on groundwater into centralised and accessible databases.

At the launch, South Africa’s Deputy Director General of the Department of Water and Sanitation, Ms Deborah Mochotlhi said the Institute will play a major role in bringing groundwater, the hidden resource, to the lime-light in the regions development endeavour.

“Groundwater issues have historically not been granted priority in projects and have been seen as ‘second best’. That is slowly changing and initiatives like this will further change that perception.

“We are a challenged region in terms of water resources with increasing demand, climate change and pollution placing mounting pressure on the region. There is no better time than now to see this initiative launched as we face drought conditions across nine South African provinces, and many countries in our region”, Ms Deborah Mochotlhi said.

Director of the SADC-GMI Mr James Sauramba, said his vision is to ensure that groundwater management issues are granted equal priority in national and international water management discourses, and prominently featured in water legislation or policies in Southern Africa.

The SADC-GMI is financed by the World Bank through a US$8.2 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and US$2 million from the multi donor trust fund, Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA).

 

 

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Africa has a secret weapon in its diaspora-Abou Dieng CEO Global Green International Holdings
September 19, 2016 | 2 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Abou Dieng CEO and President of Global Green International Holdings LLC believes that Africa is the next destination

Abou Dieng CEO and President of Global Green International Holdings LLC believes that Africa is the next destination

With its buying power combined with expertise and knowledge, the Diaspora is Africa’s could be Africa’s secret weapon says Abou Dieng, Director of EMONECO, a publicly traded financial company on the US-Stock. Dieng, originally from Senegal would rather be referred to as African because to him, the boundaries are artificial and Africans are one people.

Dieng, who is also CEO and President of Global Green International Holdings LLC, Executive Director and Ambassador for Africa of Global Treasury Supreme Trust believes that more needs to be done to extend banking services to the broader African population especially in rural areas.

A member of Arizona’s Who’s Who Top 100 Executives, Mr. Dieng has been invited to the White House to discuss the new Immigration Bill, S-744 and works extensively with The US State Department’s African Desk, and has more than 20 years of experience in Finance and International market development.
Strongly attached to his roots, Mr Dieng was closely linked with the organization of the World Pan-African Congress in Atlanta GA in 2003, the International Summit of Descendants of African Kings and Queens in Atlanta, GA, the First ECOWAS US-Africa Textile Tradeshow in Indiana and many other Africa themed events.

His current projects revolve around opportunities for hundreds of millions of Africans with no access to formal banking images, and rebranding Africa, a media project to showcase the unseen side and unheard side of Africa to the world.

 Mr Dieng you are President and CEO of Global Green International Holdings, may we know about your company and what services it offers?

Well first of, I would like to thank you for your time and the great work you are doing in keeping us informed for almost a decade with the PanAfricanVisions News website.

My company Global Green International is a Holding Group is comprised of many companies 100% geared towards the development of the African Continent. I started building this company as a consulting company in 1995, then got into mining, agriculture, and started doing acquisition of other technology companies in 2002. We acquired a Housing System Technology that can produce 150 homes a month using concrete and cement. In 2010, in partnership with Katec Group, we started developing an educational system based on tablets and a proprietary closed circuit telecommunication system. In 2014 we partnered with Phoenix Renewable Technologies to introduce Waste to Energy to Africa. Today we are also involved in Media with our Rebranding Africa Project with East West Communication, Digital Banking with Emoneco, Mining and Petroleum. Over the years, we have developed great relationships with more than 600 banks around the world, and we work with the World Bank, IMF, Millennium Challenge Corporation, United Nations, African Union. We have office presence in 10 countries including US, Switzerland and Africa, we have done business in 29 African countries and have interest in 45.

 You are of Senegalese descent and apparently very proud of your African heritage, what did it take for Mr Dieng to get to where he is,we ask the question because there are struggling African immigrants who could learn from your success.

Well, anyone who is successful today will tell you that Success is the end result of Hard work, struggles and sacrifices. I have been there.

In october 1990, I remember having a conversation with someone in the NYC subway and he asked me what country I was from? I said Senegal. He asked where is Senegal? I said West Africa. Is Senegal poor or rich he asked? I said poor. Do you have land he asked? I said Yes. Do you have rain or running water for agriculture? I said Yes. How about Natural Resources, do you have any? I said Yes. Do you have access to the coast for fishing he asked? I said yes. Then he looked at me straight in the eyes and said to me: “My friend it is your fault if you are poor!” I remember this conversation as if it was yesterday, and my world was turned upside down, It seemed like I was just given a knock out punch, and for days I tried to figure out something. For someone who love Africa like me, I took it personal to change that and I started putting together a game plan and  “blue print” for the development of Africa. I made a decision to dedicate the rest of my life for the development of Africa. I wanted to be part of the actors of the development and a role model. I dropped everything I was doing and went to school. I started putting together a blue print and a plan to follow. After school I traveled extensively to Africa. I divided the continent in five regions (West, North, East, Central and South), and I divided every region in Industries (Housing, Energy, Finance, Agriculture, Mining, Healthcare….). Then I started putting together a quiet underground network of major players in those industries in those regions. This way I was aware of the problems in every part of the continent.

I went back to the US to start a company and surrounded myself with other companies that could offer solutions to African problems, and I never looked back.

 So what you see today is the result of hard work, sacrifices, struggles, failures and starting overs, discipline and dedication. So to all my struggling African peers, my advice is to have a plan and follow it with dedication and discipline… You will be succesful.

We understand you did some mentorship for the Washington Mandela Fellowship also known as Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI Fellows) this year, can you share your experience with us and what impressions the YALI Fellows left on you?

Abou Dieng with Dana Hyde, CEO of MCC

Abou Dieng with Dana Hyde, CEO of MCC

I have known about this program now for a couple of years and I do have many Fellows who I am mentoring in my network. This Year I was invited by Arizona State University to teach a Leadership Class to the Fellows in Phoenix and it was a great experience to share my activities and meet 50 young leaders from different African countries. Everyone of these leaders reminded me of myself when I started my journey. It also gives me hope that what Global Green is building now will be duplicated in many countries, and these Fellows will continue the journey to develop Africa.

Overall, what do you think that particular program, we mean the YALI program could do in changing the fortunes of Africa?

When President Obama started this Initiative, it is designed to empower Young Africans to be more involved in building their communities and give them the leadership training they need to become good leaders. However, after the training is done and the certificates are framed, what each and every Fellow does is what will eventually determine the success of this program. The program by itself is just an initiative. It’s like you buy your kid a brand new car with all the latest techonologies, and they decide to park it on the driveway. Unless your kid decides to put the car on the road and put the metal to the ground, you will not know what impact it will have. Each Fellow needs to understand that they are the hope of their community and when they get back home from the training, they are the light of that community and they need to apply the 3i process: Inspire, Influence and Impact the community. And collectively we can be the light in many parts of Africa.

As the first African American President of the United States, what legacy do you think Mr Obama will leave for Africa, did anything change for Africa in his Presidency?

During his Presidency , President Obama has visited more countries in Africa than any other American President before him. He also started different programs like the US-Africa summit, the Lighting Africa Project, the Washington-Mandela Fellowship… These are all great programs that can contribute to better business relationships between the US and Africa. However, The meaningfull changes that will help develop Africa, will be initiated in Africa, by Africans. So our Presidents in Africa need to be Leaders and Visionaries at the same time, even if it may feel uncomfortable at times.

In a recent interview with AfricanNews, you expressed concerns on the population of Africa that does not have access to Banking, what suggestions is Mr Dieng bringing to the table to improve the situation?

A big part of the African population don’t have access to Banking, yet the economy in africa is projected to reach $29 Trillion by 2030. Banks usually have very complicated process just to open an account. So Emoneco, one of the companies I am involved with as Member of the Board of Director has created a solution that combine the latest technologies in Finance, Banking and Telecom to offer a real time payment solution and can use your cell phone number as your bank account with a triple layer of security and a backup bank card. People like retirees will get their pension payments on their cell phone, Government workers, military, can get pay on their cell phone, students can receive their educational grants on their cell phone. Specialists in this sector have done an indepth eveluation of our system and concluded that we are 7 to 10 years ahead of everyone in this industry. This solution will help millions of Africans to have access to banking in the next 18 to 24 month, governments will save money and increase revenues and GDPs will increase as well.

You are also working on the a concept to rebrand Africa, why is this important and what plans do you have to make these concepts realities?

With Thione Niang at the White House,the diaspora could be Africa's secret weapon says Abou Dieng

With Thione Niang at the White House,the diaspora could be Africa’s secret weapon says Abou Dieng

To this day most investors don’t want to go to Africa and this is the direct result of the negative image the media is showing about Africa. So we decided to change that by starting a Rebranding Africa project. We picked the country that was the poorest country for decades and decided to rebrand it. My friend and partner Thomas who is the CEO of East West Communication travelled to Equatorial Guinea and put together a video showcasing all positive realisations of the government. During my Leadership conference at Arizona State University, I asked the question if anyone was interested to go to Equatorial Guinea, no one wanted to go, I asked the same question 10 minutes later after I played the video, and everyone wanted to go. That’s the reaction we want to create. This rebranding program has many phases. We want to show the best image of every country starting from the Embassy by creating a high quality investment magazine, a dvd investment portfolio, a tourist program, a new website and 3 to 4 investment trips to the country. We will work hand and hand with the governments to bring our expertise and help them create an Emerging Economic Plan for their country. The highlight of the plan is that we are able to guaranty investments to the country that follow our program. You can view this video for Equator Guinea at  www.EGVistas.com

On and how and what the diaspora can do to contribute to a more meaningful way to change the fortunes of Africa, any recommendations you have in mind?

The Diaspora constitute the secret weapon of Africa for two reasons:

  • The buying power; For example the Senegalese Diaspora sent back to Senegal in 2015 more than $800 million to family and friends. We are working with major financial institutions to setup an Investment fund fully funded by the Diaspora, and we can use that to finance major projects in  
  • Expertise and knowledge: the majority of people in the Diaspora went to school and have some sort of qualification or experience that can benefit the country of origine. This will eventually be the source of new entreprenorship, job creation….

If there is a way to bring all the Diaspora into a Federated African Diaspora we can have access to funding for our own project.

 To those who look around the continent and see the bad infrastructure, the galloping unemployment, the electoral violence with the recent example of Gabon, the corruption and more, how does Abou Dieng sustain the case that Africa has potential and is indeed the continent of the future?

We all know that Africa has billions of tons of natural resources that are still not exploited, and we have many more natural resources that are not even discovered yet. If you take a nation like the Republic of Guinea, this nation alone has enough natural resources that can develop the entire continent. I can say the same thing for other nations like Liberia, Sierra Leone, both Congos, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana, South Africa, and the list goes on. So the potential from the exploitation of the natural resources alone is very exciting.

Other factors that will make a big difference are the potential in Education, Agriculture and Manufacturing. Africa is at the same level where India was 25 years ago in terms of wanting to increase the education level of the population. Africa is at the same level where China was in the 1980s with the Agriculture needs and investment. Africa is also at the same level where Turkey and Mexico were 15 years ago in terms of Manufacturing increasing investments. So if you combine those 3 levels of readiness, you can conclude that Africa is heading to the same path that led India to its boom because of Education, Africa is heading to the same path that led China to its boom in Agriculture and Industrization , and Africa is heading to the same path that led Mexico and Turkey to their boom in Manufacturing. This is exciting.

With Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona

With Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona

But the most exciting factor yet for Africa is its young population. As Walt Disney once said “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children”. More than 60% of Africans are between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. The number of young Africans is going to continue to get bigger year after year till 2050. The Middle Class is growing and the urbanisation rate is at 37% just like China and bigger than India. This is why I  can say that Africa will be where Turkey and Mexico are today in the next 10 years and where China is today in the next 20 years. Demographie is destiny.

Finally, we can also mentione that we have better quality of Leaderships now, and they are putting the right reforms for economic growth. The debt level is low 10 t0 30% to GDP in most African countries compare to 130% to GDP in China, more than 200% to GDP in US, UK and Spain.

So when you put together all of these factors that I mentione, Economic growth becomes inevitable.

Thank you Mr. Dieng for your sharing your vision with us. Before we conclude, on a personal note, can you talk about the recent attacks regarding your person and your divorce.

Thank you again for this opportunity to talk about my passion that is Africa.

There is a trend I have been noticing for a while, and now I find myself in it. More and more I see succesful African businesmen brought down by ex wife who are going after them for monetary gains. Unfortunately many of them end up losing everything. Success makes you an easy target.

Regarding my divorce, you are right, there are malicious attacks rescently that are very disturbing. This divorce was filed in Arizona by my ex wife back in 2007 to take over 50% of my networth according to Arizona laws. Unsatisfied with the results, my ex wife filed another law suit in a smaller court to claim that I abandoned her and my 3 kids for 32 months and she requested $2000/ month for child support and $1000/ month for alimony. When this law suit was filled I was in Africa and  my 3 kids were with me in Senegal. Once the suit is filled the court gives you 30 days to respond, and since I was in Senegal and in fact didn’t know anything about the law suit, I didn’t file a response in time and she was given a judgement by default, and overnight I owe her $96,000 plus fees and penalties. This is unfortunate, but this was done since 2010. And my ex wife and I are in good terms since then for the sake of the kids and I am taking care of my kids who I am very closed with.

Recently a powerful group doing business in Africa approached me to join forces with then, but I refused. I cannot join forces with a group that does not have the best interest of Africans in mind. A week before my leadership conference at Arizona State University, the attacks started and this group is spending a lot of money to try to tarnish my image and to discredit me thus the recent attacks. I am glad to say that in 26 years doing business in the US, I always focus on being my best and the fact that they are out trying to attack me, this only confirms to me that I am on the right path and I will continue to fight for the Emergence of Africa.

One last advice to all my fellow Africans: we need all hands on desk to develop Africa, and “the best way to predict the future is to create it”.

GOD BLESS!

 

 

 

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Australian government to provide drought assistance to southern Africa region
September 8, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

201404_ne_d1_metekemele_farmers_031The Australian Government has announced that it will provide further support to southern Africa in response to the acute food shortages caused by severe El Niño conditions in the region, according to a statement released by   Ananya Srivastava of the Australian Embassy in Harare.

According to the spokesperson, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, announced on 2 September 2016 that Australia will provide AUD10 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver food and nutritional support to 11.9 million drought-affected people in countries in southern Africa.

It is said that some of the most affected countries in the southern African region will directly benefit from the Australian Government’s provision of additional funding to the WFP, including Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

The current El Niño event has produced the driest growing season in southern Africa in over 35 years, compounding the effects of drought during the previous growing season. This has left 32 million people in the region without access to adequate food supplies including 2.7 million children who are severely malnourished.

Australia has been active in the global response to the impact of El Niño, which has also had a devastating impact in the Indo-Pacific. Australia’s response has focused on funding lifesaving food, nutritional and livelihoods assistance for countries most affected in the Pacific and South East Asia as well as the Horn of Africa.

Through its aid program, the Australian Government is also investing in improving preparedness and resilience to climate variability in helping communities prepare for future periods of drought.

This additional funding brings Australia’s total contribution to AUD46 million for countries affected by El Niño.

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For The People Of Africa: Quality And Empowerment
August 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Shinzō Abe*

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

On August 27th and 28th, Japan will co-host the Sixth Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD VI) in Nairobi, together with Kenya and major international organizations. TICAD VI represents the latest milestone in Japan’s deep and longstanding commitment to Africa.

Following TICAD V held in Yokohama three years ago, this year’s TICAD VI will be held for the first time on African soil, really historic.

When do you guess Japan started its cooperation with Africa? Some may assume in the 1970s, when the Japanese economy achieved full postwar recovery? No. Then around the 1960s, when many African nations gained independence? Not really. It was in 1927, almost 90 years ago. That was when Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, a Japanese physician who dedicated his life to the cause of medicine, departed for Accra in Ghana, pledging “I shall not return home without achieving my objective.”

Dr. Noguchi tasked himself with finding a cure for yellow fever, a disease that was causing hundreds of thousands of deaths in Africa. He did so despite partial impairment to his hand resulting from burns he had suffered in his childhood. Dr. Noguchi himself eventually succumbed to yellow fever, which cost him his life a year after moving to Accra.

“For the people of Africa.” This firmly remains the guiding principle of our engagement with Africa and drives Japan’s involvement in TICAD.

Africa has tremendous potential for sustainable growth. Yet daunting challenges remain in areas fundamental to development. Water supply. Food production. Healthcare. Lack of quality infrastructure. Lagging education and technical training. Political instability. All these challenges have hindered Africa’s progress.

Africa’s growth not only benefits Africa, but the world as a whole. Under this belief, Japanese government and businesses, as well as individual citizens, have all made contributions to the development of Africa.

Exactly 50 years ago, three young men, Mr. Hideo Rikitake, Mr. Takeshi Inada, and Mr. Goro Furuya, became the first volunteers to go to Africa as Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers. They were tasked with the transfer of technology for electrical facilities and construction machinery to Kenya. These pioneering spirits were only the first of many. Since then, more than 15,000 Japanese young people in 31 countries across Africa have committed their time and skills under this program.

Our approach is to help African nations cultivate industries and to focus on each individual in Africa. This is why our economic development initiatives have initially focused on agriculture and light industries that are closely tied to people’s lives. These are the areas where the technology required is relatively easy to acquire and simultaneously result in products that directly improve the wellbeing of individual Africans. In short, we support the formation of “homegrown industries.” They will put Africa on a path to sustainable prosperity and self-sufficient growth.

Typically, African countries with abundant natural resources experience rapid economic growth when commodity prices are high, but this does not necessarily last. A downturn in prices negatively affects Africans by depressing wages. And sometimes this happens very quickly. The pace of development is therefore at the mercy of price movements in volatile commodities markets.

This is why I believe in the formation of “homegrown industries” throughout Africa.

To achieve the development of “homegrown industries” in Africa, building human resource capacity is vital. In Ethiopia, people are embracing the Japanese KAIZEN initiative that empowers all the workers to continuously improve their current working methods to increase productivity. The Toyota Kenya Academy equips African trainees with expertise in car maintenance, construction equipment and agricultural machinery. The Kenya Nut Company, launched by a Japanese entrepreneur, has developed into a world-class supplier of nuts with its popular “Out of Africa” brand. And in Tanzania, Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical transferred production technology for Japanese-style mosquito nets, creating a local mosquito net industry and contributing to the prevention of malarial infection.

At TICAD V in 2013, I announced the African Business Education (ABE) Initiative for Youth to emphasize our commitment to human resources development. The initiative invites young Africans from across the continent to Japan in order for them to receive master’s degrees at universities and participate in internships to groom future business leaders. African young people studying under this program will soon hit 1,000.

As Africa’s human resources expand, our relationship with Africa continues to deepen with the public and private sectors working hand in hand. Going beyond a sell-and-buy relationship, we help African businesses develop by providing investment and technology as well as expertise in production processes.

Japan’s businesses and universities are at the forefront of these efforts. In fact, a business mission with 77 leaders from Japanese businesses and universities will accompany me to Nairobi this time. More than 200 companies will also come to Nairobi to participate in a wide range of events, and as many as 72 MOUs with African nations are set to be signed. At TICAD VI, I will establish the Japan-Africa Public and Private Economic Forum, bringing together top business leaders from Japan and all over Africa to deepen economic ties.

We will provide US$ 200 billion in investment funds for infrastructure that will be highly sustainable and remain cost-competitive factoring in maintenance and repair over the mid- to long-term. These funds will further boost economic development in Africa.

Let me return to healthcare, another important cause in Africa. The deep conviction that drove Dr. Noguchi 90 years ago continues to be a source of inspiration in Japan today.

Dr. Satoshi Omura, who received the Nobel Prize last year, developed Avermectin, a therapeutic drug for endemic diseases caused by parasitic worms. The medicine has been provided for free to countries in Africa, in cooperation with Merck & Co., saving 300 million people each year from blindness. During the Ebola virus outbreak, Japan also provided financial assistance for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, dispatching experts and delivering medicine and medical equipment, as part of a $184 million assistance package. Additionally, we are supplying diagnostic equipment and mobile testing units for cancers affecting women.

This year, Japan unveiled a new vision to advance global healthcare. We will promote Universal Health Coverage to prevent and prepare for public health crises in Africa and across the world, and enhance emergency response capabilities. To support this drive, I announced an assistance package of $1.1 billion for the health sector.

Africa’s enormous potential is fast becoming a reality. The African continent is now home to 1.2 billion people, and its economy is growing at a higher rate than the global average. I believe there can be no global development without African development. We are fully committed to our partnership with Africa. I very much look forward to renewing my friendship with African leaders again and advancing our collective efforts at TICAD VI in Nairobi.

* Source Huffpost. Author is the 96th Prime Minister of Japan, President of the Liberal Democratic Party

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Governance, Corruption & Democratic Development Questions will guide Clinton’s African Policy-Snr Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan
July 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

File Picture:U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) watches as South Africa's President Jacob Zuma speaks during a photo call after a brief meeting in Durban, August 8, 2009

File Picture:U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) watches as South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma speaks during a photo call after a brief meeting in Durban, August 8, 2009

Hillary Clinton views Africa not just as a place with challenges to address but also opportunities says Jake Sullivan, Senior Policy Advisor for Hillary for America. Speaking at the Foreign Policy Center briefing center at the Democratic Convention, Sullivan said to Hillary Clinton, Africa is not just made up of countries which need development aid and assistance but also partners who can work with the USA in addressing a range of global issues.

Issues of governance, corruption, and democratic development have been central to Secretary Clinton’s policy towards Africa and will continue to be, said Jake Sullivan in response to a question from Ben Bangoura of Allo Conakry.com on what Africa should expect a Clinton Administration.

The policy will be in the mold of the work the democratic flag bearer did as first lady and later Secretary of State, Sullivan said. From her multiple trips to the continent, Hillary Clinton has shown commitment to pillars like fostering economic growth, peace keeping, security, human rights, and democratic development said Sullivan.

“She is fond of reminding us on her team many of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are African economies.  How we think about where the future growth is going to come from in the world is bound up in how we approach our policy towards Africa,”  Sullivan said.

In contrast to the recent Republican Convention in Ohio, the Democratic Convention seems to have more African faces present. Executive Women for Hillary ,a powerful coalition of executive, entrepreneur and professional women backing Mrs. Clinton has two African diaspora leaders Sarian Bouma and Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa  as State Co-Chairs for the DMV area.

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FIRST AFRICAN PASSPORTS GO TO PRESIDENTS OF RWANDA AND CHAD
July 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

The African Union wants to roll out the continental passport to millions of Africans.

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Bankrupting Mozambique: From poster child to cautionary tale
July 13, 2016 | 0 Comments

By *

The actions of unaccountable elites and international banks have undermined Mozambique’s impressive progress, with the costs falling on the shoulders of ordinary Mozambicans.

An industrial zone in the capital Maputo. Credit: Nuno Ibra Remane.

An industrial zone in the capital Maputo. Credit: Nuno Ibra Remane.

Over much of the past two decades, Bob Dylan’s idyllic lyrics to ‘Mozambique’ – in which he sings of “magic in a magical land” and “lovely people living free” – would not have seemed out of place when thinking about the country itself.

Since the end of the bloody 16-year civil war in 1992, Mozambique has made some incredible strides.

It has transitioned from one-party rule to electoral democracy. It has moved from a planned to a market economy, clocking double-digit growth and significant reductions in poverty levels. International donors have flocked to support the country’s recovery, showering foreign aid with unusual largesse. And some ten years ago, when significant gas and mineral deposits were found and foreign investment started pouring in, it seemed that little could stop Mozambique becoming one of the most shining examples of a new rising Africa.

But fast forward to the present day, and most of that luster seems to have faded. Over the past decade the country has gone from poster child to trouble child, and from an example to emulate to one to avoid.

Poverty has proved to be more persistent than expected as the country continues to linger near the bottom of the Human Development Index rankings despite the billions of dollars invested by donors.

Political stability has come under increasing stress, as the main opposition party and former guerrilla movement Renamo has contested the results of the 2014 presidential elections and engaged in what some have called an “invisible civil war” in the central part of the country, where it commands more votes and support.

The country’s independent media and dissenting voices are being gradually stifled. For instance, Gilles Cistac, a Franco-Mozambican lawyer who defended the constitutionality of Renamo’s demand to take control in central provinces, was gunned down in broad daylight last year. And José Macuane, a university professor, was kidnapped and shot in the legs just a few weeks ago after repeatedly denouncing government corruption.

And finally, the global financial crisis and drop in commodity prices have put off international investments and placed Mozambique’s hopes for resource-fueled development on hold.

Debt, default and deception

As a result of its economic crisis, the government was forced last year to ask the International Monetary Fund for help. But only a few months after the initial disbursements of a new loan, news broke out of large hidden debts taken on by companies partly owned by government entities and guaranteed by the state.

What is now known is that at least three such companies – created in the past few years and part-owned by the Mozambican government’s secret service agency or linked to the defence ministry – raked up more than $2 billion in debt with the help of Credit Suisse and Russian bank VTB.

The way all this money has been spent, or where it ended up exactly, is mostly still to be determined. We know that there were some purchases of tuna fishing vessels that were never actually used for fishing and can be seen rusting away in the Maputo port as well as other less well-defined purchases of maritime security equipment. But it is not at all unlikely that a good chunk also ended up in private pockets, never to appear again.

These deals were mostly carried out while the previous president, Armando Guebuza, was still in power, and could be linked to his efforts to clinch a third term in office. But his successor Filipe Nyusi, who was defence minister at the time, cannot easily claim ignorance.

However, the crux of the matter is that these companies are now in no position to pay off their debts and will end up having to be rescued by the government, with the costs of these corrupt deals falling onto the shoulders of Mozambicans for years to come. In fact, that has already started to happen, pushing public debt to more than 80% of GDP and triggering drops in sovereign ratings and rumours of default.

That not even the IMF knew anything about these loans highlights the limits of fiscal transparency and begs the question of how much corrupt governments are actually able to hide from international institutions, and their citizens, about the true state of their public finances.

According to data from the 2015 Open Budget Survey, governments around the world are not as transparent about their debt as they are with other aspects of public finance. While the global average score for budget transparency is 45/100, the average score for questions that look at public availability of detailed information on government debt and its composition is only 33/100.

Things get even worse when looking at guarantees provided by governments on debt incurred by public companies – so-called “contingent liabilities”. Average transparency on contingent liabilities is even lower, at only 22/100.

The role of international banks

Mozambique is now almost bankrupt in a number of ways: morally, due to the pervasiveness of corruption and greediness of its elites; politically, as its 20-plus years of peace are now at risk; and fiscally, with its ballooning debt and dashed hopes of a natural resource bonanza.

Whether the country will pull itself together depends mostly on domestic factors, including whether the people responsible will be held to account. However, it would be wrong to put all the blame on corrupt Mozambicans. Reputable international banks walked off with hefty fees for helping shady public companies incur debts that were not only of dubious economic value, but clearly against the laws of the government guaranteeing those debts, as they had not been screened and approved by the Mozambican Parliament.

Surely there are ways to ensure that large profits for some do not result in whole countries going bankrupt. In a number of cases, some basic due diligence by international banks and investors might be enough. But if international banks cannot be made to comply with basic requirements themselves, there could be a role for independent watchdogs, either official – like the IMF itself – or through citizen-led initiatives that check on dubious deals being offered to international investors.

In other words, a combination of more transparency and independent monitoring could help avoid other painful bankruptcies. Sunlight, alongside a number of watchful eyes, could indeed be one of the best disinfectants.

We can only hope that Mozambique’s cautionary tale will force other countries to take note and the international community to take action.

*African Arguments.Paolo de Renzio is Senior Research Fellow with the International Budget Partnership.

Adriano Nuvunga is Executive Director of the Centro de Integridade Pública, a Mozambican civil society group.

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Indian prime minister kicks off 4-nation African visit
July 8, 2016 | 0 Comments
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives at the airport in Maputo, Mozambique, Thursday, July 7, 2016. India's prime minister has kicked off a four-nation African tour on a continent where China's presence has been strong, including countries that haven't been visited by an Indian leader in more than three decades. Schalk van Zuydam - AP Photo

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives at the airport in Maputo, Mozambique, Thursday, July 7, 2016. India’s prime minister has kicked off a four-nation African tour on a continent where China’s presence has been strong, including countries that haven’t been visited by an Indian leader in more than three decades. Schalk van Zuydam – AP Photo

India’s prime minister on Thursday kicked off a four-nation African tour on a continent where China’s presence has been strong, including countries that haven’t been visited by an Indian leader in more than three decades.

By SCHALK VAN ZUYDAM*

MAPUTO, Mozambique

India’s prime minister on Thursday kicked off a four-nation African tour on a continent where China’s presence has been strong, including countries that haven’t been visited by an Indian leader in more than three decades.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip is meant to raise India’s profile in energy, trade and investment. He started in Mozambique, tweeting the news of his arrival in Portuguese, the official language: “Starting my tour of Africa with a visit to Mozambique.”

 Modi was going next to South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.

India’s foreign ministry has described the four countries on the Indian Ocean as economic gateways to landlocked African states. Mozambique alone receives almost a quarter of India’s investment in Africa, according to India’s government.

Several agreements are expected to be signed with each country, the foreign ministry said, and energy and food security will be key issues. Mozambique soon will be the world’s third largest exporter of natural gas after Qatar and Australia, the ministry said.
 Modi told reporters Thursday that India and Mozambique had “agreed to strengthen our defense and security relationship” as well as food security ties, but he gave few details.

He confirmed India’s commitment to buy pulses from Mozambique. India has been trying to control the prices of pulses, a staple diet for millions of its poor, which have doubled in the past 18 months because of two successive drought years.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands next to Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi, right, during a guard of honor in Maputo, Mozambique, Thursday, July 7, 2016. Modi kicked off a four-nation African tour on a continent where China's presence has been strong, including countries that haven't been visited by an Indian leader in more than three decades. Schalk van Zuydam - AP Photo

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands next to Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi, right, during a guard of honor in Maputo, Mozambique, Thursday, July 7, 2016. Modi kicked off a four-nation African tour on a continent where China’s presence has been strong, including countries that haven’t been visited by an Indian leader in more than three decades. Schalk van Zuydam – AP Photo

India also hopes to sign civil aviation agreements to introduce direct flights. No Indian airline has direct connections with Africa.

South Africa, which lists India as its sixth-largest trade partner, is another key stop for Modi.

 He is expected to meet with the Indian community in South Africa, which has more than one million people of Indian origin. He’ll do the same in Kenya, with 80,000 people of Indian origin.

In Durban, South Africa, Modi is expected to take a brief train journey to commemorate Indian independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi, whose experience with racism while living in South Africa as a young man shaped his resistance to segregation with nonviolent protest.

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GHANA ALLOWS VISA-FREE TRAVEL FOR AFRICANS IN STEP TOWARDS CONTINENTAL PASSPORT
July 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY *

Ghanaian President John Mahama

Ghanaian President John Mahama

Ghana has begun offering visas upon arrival to all African nationals, a step towards creating a continent-wide zone of free movement.

The West African country rolled out the policy on Friday, allowing citizens of African Union (AU) member states to get visas for up to 30 days upon arriving in the country. Fifty-four African countries are members of the AU—the only country not in the bloc is Morocco, which resigned its membership in 1984 due to a row over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Ghana already allows visa-free travel for citizens of countries belonging to member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)—a regional economic bloc consisting of 15 countries including Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy. ECOWAS citizens will not be affected by the new policy.

It marks a step towards the vision outlined by the AU in its Agenda 2063 policy document, which includes the abolition of visa requirements for all African citizens in all the continent’s countries by 2018. The AU is also introducing an African passport at a summit in the Rwandan capital Kigali in July, which will initially be available only to heads of state, government ministers and permanent representatives of member countries at the AU. The AU eventually wants to roll the passport out among all African citizens.

Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama announced the policy in his state of the nation address in February, saying that the measure would “stimulate air trade, investment and tourism.” The decision was commended by AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who said that she was convinced “many other African countries will follow suit, in the interest of achieving an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.”

But while welcoming the measure as potentially leading to increased air traffic into Ghana, airline operator Gloria Wilkinson warned that the country would have to ensure its security measures were tight to prevent possible abuse of the system. Wilkinson, the country manager of South African Airways, told Ghana’s Citi Business News that she was “confident that [the] government has considered the security aspect of such an initiative.” A leaked memo from Ghana’s Immigration Service suggested that Ghana and Togo were the next targets for militants following attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast since November 2015.

*Newsweek

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The opposite of Brexit: African Union launches an all-Africa passport
July 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Anne Frugé*

AFRICAN_LEADERS_MUST_BE_BORN_AGAIN_0.26188900_1434106807__thumbOn June 13, two weeks before the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, the African Union announced a new “single African passport.” The lead-up discussion was much like the original debate on the European Economic Community, the E.U.’s predecessor. African passport proponents say it will boost the continent’s socioeconomic development because it will reduce trade barriers and allow people, ideas, goods, services and capital to flow more freely across borders.

But now the A.U. faces the challenge of making sure the “e-Passport” lives up to its potential – and doesn’t fulfill detractors’ fears of heightened terrorism, smuggling and illegal immigration.

The African e-Passport is part of a long-term plan for the continent

The e-Passport is an electronic document that permits any A.U. passport holder to enter any of the 54 A.U. member states, without requiring a visa. It will be unveiled this month during the next A.U. Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. Initially, the e-Passport will only be available to A.U. heads of state, foreign ministers and permanent representatives based in the A.U.’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, . The plan is to roll it out to all A.U. citizens by 2018.

The electronic passport initiative grows out of the A.U.’s Agenda 2063, a plan to mobilize Africa’s vast resources to strengthen the region’s self-reliance, global economic power and solidarity.

Why is the single African passport important?

The e-Passport is a step toward eliminating borders on the continent, aiming to enable deeper integration, increased trade and further development. Just as important, the passport is a powerful symbol of unity across Africa – and simultaneously a step toward connecting African countries economically and politically.

An A.U. passport represents the latest effort to create a common market spanning the continent, much like that in the E.U. Such efforts date back to 1963 with the creation of the Organization of African Unity. Pan-Africanistscelebrating the demise of the colonial state and hailing a United States of Africadesigned the O.A.U. to unite Africans and dissolve the borders between them.

Essentially, the O.A.U. sought to raise living standards by supporting leaders of anti-colonial struggles in their roles as heads of new states. In its quest to make the transition to independence as smooth as possible, the organization at times defended national sovereignty to a fault. For example, the decision to respect arbitrary colonial borders had far-reaching consequences, including numerous identity-based conflicts.

Over time, other entities arose to coordinate economic activity across national lines: the East African Community (1967), the Economic Community of West African States (1975), the Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa (1980) and the Southern African Development Community (1992), just to name a few.

In 2002, the A.U. replaced the O.A.U.

Moving away from the O.A.U.’s state-centric approach, the A.U. attempts to balance “the principle of sovereignty with the need to accelerate political rights and socio-economic growth and cooperation,” according to Matebe Chisiza, visiting scholar at the South African Institute of International Affairs. For example, the A.U. suspended 12 member states after “unconstitutional changes in government,” including Libya, Central African Republic, Egypt and Burkina Faso.

None of Africa’s regional organizations have yet been able to create a common market. This vivid dream has endured despite the enormous political and logistical challenges it would entail. Deeper economic integration is seen by many, including the World Bank, as the road to prosperity and stability. In fact, the A.U. is guided by this premise.

What might be the downsides of the e-Passport?

Opponents of the passport are concerned about a range of security risks. Detractors argue that visa-free travel would make it easier for terrorists to move within and between countries. Human traffickers and drug smugglers could take advantage of the new system. Disease and other public health crises could spread more rapidly in a borderless Africa. As has happened in Europe, an e-Passport may intensify competition for jobs and public services, leading to more xenophobic political rhetoric and attacks. Migration is already a contentious issue, as shown by deadly anti-immigrant riots in South Africa and Zambia and heated debates over refugees in Kenya.

Many elites favor the unrestricted movement of persons, goods and services. But if the effort is mishandled, such free travel may simply reproduce social inequalities — helping the well-off become richer and leaving behind the poor. We can see that already in the fact that only certain individuals will have the passport at first, which creates a hierarchy of citizens, only some of whom can travel freely.

Moreover, Bronwen Manby’s report for the Open Society Foundations describes how passports can become tools for repressive regimes to silence their critics. In 2007 alone Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan and Zimbabwe denied or confiscated passports for a variety of opponents, including “from individual trade unionists, human rights activists, opposition politicians, or minority religious groups.” Fortunately, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Zambia have taken steps to put into law the principle that every individual has a right to a passport — even if the principle is upheld irregularly in practice.

The African Union can learn from the E.U.’s example

The E.U. offers a model that the A.U. can use to study both the progress and pitfalls of regional integration: managing a common currency, balancing economies of vastly different sizes and structures, and building solidarity within and across culturally diverse nations.

Brexit is a reminder of the challenges inherent in a shared political and economic space. The debates over debt, immigration and national identity that led to Brexit would only be magnified in Africa under the weight of industrializing economies, significant barriers to access in education and health care and ongoing conflicts over resources and identity.

An African passport is an exciting development that can spur growth and improve living standards. To capitalize on this potential, the A.U. needs to plan two steps ahead. Crafting thoughtful regulations will be essential to ensuring the e-Passport’s economic promise is genuinely available to everyone and not subject to abuse.

For example, integration needs to benefit the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, with both productivity and industrial capacity increasing in tandem. When some countries deindustrialize at the same time that others expand their markets, the stragglers strain the common pool and fall into crisis.

Further, governments need to fight against a race to the bottom in which commerce follows the path of least restrictions. This point is especially important considering that demos-centered Pan-Africanism underpins the A.U.’s mission.

And implementation plans must address practical obstacles that prevent many Africans from obtaining basic identity documentation, such as weak civil registration systems, slow and costly bureaucratic procedures, and corruption. According to the World Bank, 37 percent of people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have legal identification, a prerequisite for obtaining a passport.

In short, the path forward is to ensure fairness in integration. When the system rewards the few on the backs of the many, solidarity wanes and the unification project suffers.

*Washington Post.Anne Frugé is a PhD candidate in the department of government and politics at the University of Maryland.

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Visa Free by 2018? Africa’s Open Visa Policy
June 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Michelle DeFreese*

Giriyondo Border Post South Africa Mozambique

Giriyondo Border Post South Africa Mozambique

African citizens currently face some of the most stringent visa restrictions in the world. According to the Africa Visa Openness Index Report launched by the African Development Bank (AfDB), citizens of African countries require visas to travel to 55% of countries within the continent. Within the next two years, however, the implementation of a proposed common visa policy under the African Union’s (AU) 2063 Agenda, a strategic document outlining the vision for African development, could profoundly impact the continent in terms of intra-regional trade, economic development, and regional integration.

While the AU’s visa-free travel proposal represents both challenges and opportunities for the security and economy of Africa, previous examples by regional communities and individual countries suggest that the benefits will outweigh the risks. As the plan moves from policy to implementation, the African common visa policy has the potential to impart substantial economic incentives through the removal of trade barriers, increased tourism and investment opportunities, and job creation.

The AU’s 2063 Agenda contains plans for a common visa policy with three primary components: visa-on-arrival for all African nationals, mandatory granting of a minimum 30-day visa for African citizens visiting any African country by 2018, and the ambitious goal of a single, continental passport by 2020. Challenges of implementing the plan include associated risks of widespread economic migration, the movement of illegal goods, cross-border terrorism, and the issue of stateless individuals. Nevertheless, significant progress has been made – regionally and nationally – with benefits that demonstrate the effectiveness of the policy in terms of stimulating economic growth.

The importance of regional integration was also discussed during the 2013 AfDB Annual Meeting, during which Professor Mthuli Ncube, AfDB Vice President and Chief Economist, stated, “Africa is one of the regions in the world with the highest visa requirements. Visa restrictions imply missed economic opportunities for intra-regional trade and for the local service economy such as tourism, cross-country medical services or education.”

Thus far, regional communities within Africa have made variable progress towards the goal of a pan-African, visa-free policy with largely positive results and spillover effects: the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) introducedfree movement between member states in 1979; a single visa is in place enabling nationals of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) free movement; a common visa policy unites Zambia and Zimbabwe; and the East African Community (EAC) now has a single tourist visa available for visitors to Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda coupled with an East African passport that allows citizens freedom of movement within the trading bloc. Following the adoption of the EAC common visa policy, both Uganda and Rwanda benefited from increased tourism revenues by 12% and 8% respectively. According to the AfDB’s Africa Tourism Monitoring Report, comparable visa liberalization schemes could increase tourism by 5-25%.

Individual countries, including the Seychelles, Ghana, and Rwanda, have also made significant efforts to ease visa restrictions on travelers. The Seychelles is one of the few visa-free countries that does not require a visa for citizens of any country upon arrival. After adopting the policy, international tourism arrivals to the country increased by an average of 7% per year between 2009 and 2014. Ghana has adopted the 2063 Agenda’s visa-free policy, which will be formally introduced in July 2016. Rwanda in particular has made significant strides to ease visa restrictions for African nationals, and provides an important example of the potential for the adoption of the visa-free policy in other countries. According to the AfDB, Rwanda’s 2013 visa-free policy for African nationals resulted in several positivebenefits in terms of economic development; these include an estimated 24% increase in tourism arrivals from African countries and a 50% increase in intra-African trade. Trade with the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone increased by 73% since the implementation of the policy.

Beyond the implications for the continent, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, has suggested that visa-free travel within Africa could potentially reduce emigration to other continents. At the same time, reduced visa restrictions will necessitate advances in electronic border management systems and improved interoperability of security architecture to address the increased risks of trafficking and cross-border crime.

Examples of the successful implementation of visa-free policies by regional communities and individual countries – and the benefits that have followed – are compelling arguments for the implementation of the AU’s common visa policy for the continent. For a continent that is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world and a burgeoning middle class, the dissolution of barriers to trade, increased free movement, and bolstered tourism will foster an unprecedented growth of untapped markets critical for the realization of thecontinued rise of Africa.

*HuffPost.Michelle DeFreese is a consultant with the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) based in Tanzania. She completed her Master’s degree in International Relations at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and is an Africa Fellow at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.

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