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Liberian ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf dedicates $5M prize to women’s empowerment
April 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Bethlehem Feleke*

Former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf reacts with the medal after receiving the Ibrahim Prize, the world's biggest individual prize for Achievement in African Leadership, during 2018 Ibrahim Governance Weekend at Kigali Convention Centre in Kigali, Rwanda late April 27, 2018. She is the first woman who receives the award as 5th laureate since 2007. The prize only goes to a democratically-elected African leader who demonstrated exceptional leadership, served their mandated term and left office within the last three years. The award comes with $5 million (4.7 million euros) paid over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life from then on. / AFP PHOTO / Cyril NDEGEYACYRIL NDEGEYA/AFP/Getty Images

Former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf reacts with the medal after receiving the Ibrahim Prize, the world’s biggest individual prize for Achievement in African Leadership, during 2018 Ibrahim Governance Weekend at Kigali Convention Centre in Kigali, Rwanda late April 27, 2018.
She is the first woman who receives the award as 5th laureate since 2007. The prize only goes to a democratically-elected African leader who demonstrated exceptional leadership, served their mandated term and left office within the last three years. The award comes with $5 million (4.7 million euros) paid over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life from then on. / AFP PHOTO / Cyril NDEGEYACYRIL NDEGEYA/AFP/Getty Images

(CNN)Former Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Friday accepted a $5 million prize for excellence in African leadership — and said she’ll use it to establish a center for the empowerment of women.

Sirleaf, the first woman to be awarded the Mo Ibrahim Prize, gave her acceptance speech on the opening night of the Ibrahim Governance Weekend in Kigali, Rwanda.
Sirleaf, 79, stepped down early this year after two terms as Liberia’s president. The prize recognizes her role in the West African nation’s recovery from years of devastating civil war, the prize committee has said.
She plans to use the prize money to establish the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development, which she said is “designed to support women as agents of change, makers of peace, and drivers of progress.”
Sirleaf made women’s progress a key focus of her speech.
“We must tackle the historical disadvantages which have made women political outsiders,” said Sirleaf, who was Africa’s first democratically elected woman president. “It is my hope that women and girls across Africa will be inspired to break through barriers and to push back the frontiers of possibilities.”
She was met with a standing ovation from leaders across Africa, who will spend the rest of the weekend in discussions about how to tackle the continent’s challenges as part of the Ibrahim Forum. This year’s forum focuses on public service.
The London-based Mo Ibrahim Foundation launched the humanitarian award in 2007 to celebrate democratically elected African presidents and prime ministers who have developed their countries and followed their constitutional term mandates. Former South African President Nelson Mandela is among its laureates.
Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born telecommunications businessman and billionaire, created the foundation bearing his name in 2006. It uses 88 criteria to rate the governance of African countries.
The $5 million prize is distributed over 10 years, and winners receive $200,000 every year for life thereafter.
The prize had not been awarded since 2014 because no eligible or worthy candidate was identified. The last one was given to former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba. Five people, including Sirleaf, have won the prize.
*CNN
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MTN Group commits to creating 1000 jobs in support of the YES initiative
April 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
MTN Group today confirmed its support of the Youth Employment Service (YES) and has committed to the creation of 1000 jobs within the first year of the initiative.
In March, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched YES, a business-led collaboration with government and labour which aims to empower one million young South Africans by offering paid quality work opportunities over the next few years.
MTN will be creating the 1000 jobs across its South African business and Group head office, covering both operational and functional roles.
“YES is an innovative social partnership that has the potential to be a significant catalyst for economic growth and development,” says MTN Group President and CEO, Rob Shuter.
“MTN loves fresh and bold solutions and that’s what YES is bringing to South Africa’s unemployment crisis. We’re proud to be a supporter of the YES programme and look forward to welcoming more companies to the YES Team so that together, we can drive sustainable change for the unemployed youth of our country,” Shuter says.
Tashmia Ismail-Saville, CEO of YES, says the success of the initiative now lies in bringing scale to the operation.
“Research has consistently shown that young people, with at least a year of paid work experience, are significantly more likely to secure permanent employment after that first year. South African business holds in its collective hands the chance to turn the tide on the scourge of youth unemployment and we are very pleased to welcome MTN Group as one of the forerunner companies to Team YES,” Ismail-Saville says.
 “The return on the investment in creating pathways for youth that are currently locked out of the economy will be a significant return for all businesses, in the longer term. On the other hand, the costs of ignoring six million of our marginalised youth will be a far higher price to pay, for our economic future,” she adds.
YES is supported by Government and the initiative is individually cited in the proposed amendments to the B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) Codes of Good Practice. Business and the public are encouraged to give inputs and comments on these amendments. Comments will be accepted until 29 May 2018.
Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a multinational telecommunications group, operating in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN.” As of 31 December 2017, MTN recorded 217.2 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.
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Christopher Katongo: Zambia must do more for crash families
April 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Stanley Kwenda*

Former Zambia captain Christopher Katongo says his country needs to make families of the 1993 crash victims feel truly honoured

Former Zambia captain Christopher Katongo says his country needs to make families of the 1993 crash victims feel truly honoured

Christopher Katongo, who captained Zambia to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, says his country should do more to recognise the players and officials who died in 1993 in a plane crash off the coast of Gabon.

The exact cause of the fatal crash on the night of 27 into 28 April has never been fully established.

All 25 members of the Chipolopolo squad, including coaches, as well as five crew members died as they were travelling for a World Cup qualifier against Senegal in Dakar.

“The Zambian people will respect you when you are at the level they want you at, but when you are not they don’t want to cherish what you have done,” he told BBC Sport.

“Zambia’s attitude is different from Europe’s. In my country they can have meetings at the stadium saying ‘We are remembering blah blah blah…’ – they will talk about it for sure but won’t do anything with it.

“We have to remember in a way that the family actually has to feel it. We are not doing enough for the family to really feel we had a hero.

“I know the government is doing something – there’s a heroes stadium – but these people died in battle and we need to remember them in a way that the families will feel appreciated.”

As well as the US$4 million allocated to the families in 2002, those who died are all buried at Heroes Acre, which is also home to a monument in their memory.

A monument to the people who died in the 1993 crash and the National Heroes Stadium
Heroes Acre is home to a monument in the memory of those who died and it s next to the National Heroes Stadium too.

The main stadium in Lusaka is called the National Heroes Stadium in their honour, while an area in the capital has streets named after all those who died.

Nonetheless, Katongo insists more can be done.

“When I look at Europe they will remember in such a way that you actually start grieving again and the tears come again and people feel ‘Yes, yes I think my son did well.’

“The presidents of our country are always supportive but you can’t do anything alone. We need the whole country to recognise someone who has done so much for their country.”

On the eve of the 2012 Nations Cup final, Katongo lead his team in a tribute to the 1993 squad on the Libreville beach close to where the crash happened.

The BBC African Footballer of 2012 says he will spend the anniversary at home in Lusaka, Zambia, reflecting on the events leading up to the crash.

“I am not going anywhere. I will be at home reflecting on my life and remember these players,” he added.

Katongo also looked back at what he as doing on the day he heard about the crash.

“I remember I was in grade six. I was thinking it was a joke. There were different groups here and there talking about the players,” he recalled.

“Other people were saying it’s not true, that the players had been captured because the Gabonese don’t have good players so they want this team to start playing for Gabon.

“The whole country was quiet. Nobody was shouting, it was only whispering. I had never seen the country quiet like that.

“No one was listening to music, everybody was listening to the radio and every hour there was news of the crash.”

Katongo, who played for clubs at home as well as in South Africa, Denmark, Germany, Greece and China, is now working as a coach in Zambia.

He added that his dream is to coach Zambia to another Nations Cup title and qualify for the World Cup as a tribute to the 1993 squad.

*BBC

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Ethiopia is now Africa’s fastest growing economy
April 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Chris Giles*

(CNN)Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populated country, is forecast to be the fastest growing economy in Sub-Saharan Africa this year, according to new data from the IMF.

Ethiopia’s economy is predicted to grow by 8.5% this year. The figures signal continued economic expansion following a long period of impressive growth. In the last decade, Ethiopia has averaged around 10% economic growth, according to the IMF.
To boost the economy, the country is pursuing a number of large-scale infrastructure projects, including the Grand Renaissance Dam and a railway network.
“(Ethiopia) has had a very high growth rate and I think that’s a result in large part of a very concentrated effort by the government to boost industrial production and manufacturing,” said Vijaya Ramachandran, an economist at the American think tank Center for Global Development (CGD).
Ramachandran, along with three academics, released a report suggesting Ethiopia can follow in China’s footsteps, and become a destination for low-wage .
*CNN
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A classic tale of the clash between tradition and modernity: Jacob Zuma’s impending marriage to a 24-year-old woman
April 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Reports from several media outlets suggest that former South African president Jacob Zuma is set to marry for the seventh time. The bride is a 24-year-old woman named Nonkanyiso Conco from KwaZulu-Natal.

Jacob Zuma is facing many counts of corruption and has already appeared before the court to answer to his charges. That has not, however, distracted the 74 year old’s preparations to tie the knot for the 7th time in his life.

Nonkanyiso Conco who is believed to be the director of a Pietermaritzburg-based Nomkhubulwane Culture and Youth Development Organisation whose aim and vision is to protect the cultural practices of young Zulu women and the national executive committee treasurer and communications officer for She Conquers confirmed the rumours during an interview with the Sunday Times. She said “Yes‚ we are getting married‚ but that is all I can say. I need to consult before I give any interviews.”

The impending marriage between the two lovebirds has stirred debates in the country and on social media platforms where traditionalists are in support of the union and ‘modernists’ view the union as a step back on many fronts.

Jacob Zuma for a long time has warmly embraced his Zulu culture and practising polygamy is common among Zulu men and women. As such, the decision to take a seventh wife didn’t come as a surprise to the avid followers of the Zulu culture. In fact, Zuma has been heralded as a guardian of the Zulu culture.

However, Zuma’s decision to take another wife has been condemned by others. One such opponent is the She Conquers organisation, the same organisation where Zuma’s soon to be wife worked until 3 days ago. It’s not clear if the decision was Ms Conco’s or if she was forced out. What’s in the open though is the displeasure by She Conquers at Ms Conco’s choice of husband.

She Conquers released a statement which expressed its disappointment at Ms Conco stating that her decision to marry Jacob Zuma is contrary to its message which is to “empower young women in every phase of their lives, and to end reliance on sugar daddies.” The deputy chair of She Conquers, Leonora Mathe weighed in saying “As a campaign, we promote economic empowerment and self-dependence of young women to eliminate the concept of reliance on ‘blessers.”

Those against the union of Jacob Zuma and Ms Conco on social media largely agree on the issue that this marriage is a step back on the progress that the country has achieved thus far in the fight against HIV/AIDS. According to UNAids, South Africa has the fourth-highest adult HIV prevalence rate in the world which stands at 18.9%.

Out of the 18.9%, the rising rate of HIV infection among adolescent girls and young women accounts for the bigger proportion. It’s believed that the issue of blessers (older men having sexual relations with younger women) is the reason behind the rising HIV infection rates among adolescent girls and young women. Against this background, many argue that the decision taken by Zuma to marry a younger woman by sets a bad example both to other older men and also to the young girls who are manipulated into sexual relationships by material things.

There are also others who argue that the rising number of teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence can be attributed to such relationships, therefore, it’s an error on the part of a man with the stature of Zuma to set a bad precedence.

Though both parties have not stated the date for their wedding, reports suggest that Jacob Zuma has already paid lobola (bride price). It’s also reported that the two welcomed their first baby recently.

Zuma is currently married to 3 other wives, Sizakele Khumalo the first wife whom he married in 1973 after his release from Robben Island, Tobeka Madiba and accomplished businesswoman Gloria Bongi Ngema whom he married in 2010 and 2012 respectively.

Apart from these, Zuma was also married to Kate Mantsho whom he married in 1976. She committed suicide in 2000. He was also married to the former AU Chair and presidential aspirant, Nkosazana Dlamini whom he married in 1982 and divorced in 1998. Zuma also married Nompumelelo Ntuli in 2008 but the two later divorced after allegations of an affair between Nompumelelo Ntuli and one of her bodyguards. She was also alleged to have plotted to poison Jacob Zuma, allegations that she vehemently denies up to this day.

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Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) celebrates 25 years of leading the way in U.S.-Africa business relations
April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
From L to R: Florizelle Liser, CCA President and CEO, Ray Washburne, OPIC President and CEO, Jeff Sturchio, CCA Board Chairman

From L to R: Florizelle Liser, CCA President and CEO, Ray Washburne, OPIC President and CEO, Jeff Sturchio, CCA Board Chairman

Washington, D.C. – April 24, 2018 – Established in 1993 during a time when Africa was not viewed as a prime destination for investment, CCA has been critical in facilitating and promoting increased U.S. investment on the continent. Over the last 25 years, CCA has remained dedicated to providing its members with access to key African and U.S. government officials, connections to U.S. and African business leaders and decision makers and insight on the most important issues affecting business on the continent.

CCA uniquely represents a broad cross section of member companies from small and medium size businesses to multinationals as well as U.S. and African firms. Its members are invested in Africa’s most promising sectors including agribusiness, energy, finance, health, ICT, infrastructure, security, tourism and trade facilitation.

On Monday, April 23, 2018 at CCA’s Annual Members Meeting hosted by CCA Member, DLA Piper LLP (US), CCA President and CEO, Florie Liser, emphasized the organization’s continued commitment to advancing U.S.-Africa business and investment. “We are honored to have served as the leading organization solely focused on US-Africa business relations for the past quarter century, and we look forward to continuing to serve as the key resource for U.S. and African companies investing across the continent.” To set an ambitious path forward, CCA is in the process of developing a strategic plan that will ensure that U.S. businesses stay ahead of the curve, as the US-Africa trade and investment relationship continues to evolve.

Mr. Ray Washburne, President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), delivered the keynote address and led a discussion with CCA members about the administration’s vision and objectives regarding trade and investment opportunities on the continent. “Today, OPIC’s global portfolio is more than $23 billion, and about one quarter of that is invested in Africa.” Mr. Washburne underlined the steps currently being taken within Congress and the Administration to strengthen OPIC. He highlighted the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act (BUILD Act), which proposes the creation of a consolidated, reformed Development Finance Institution with significantly enhanced resources and tools. The legislation, if passed, will allow OPIC to better support U.S. businesses investing on the continent.

CCA will commemorate its 25th anniversary through a series of events and initiatives throughout the course of the year.

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How to address food-sustainability challenges in sub-Saharan Africa
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Kofi Annan*

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

Despite its huge agricultural potential, Africa spends around US$35bn each year on food imports. This number may rise above US$110bn by 2025 due to rapid population growth, changes in dietary habits and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change. The lack of food sustainability, as well as food and nutrition insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa, is likely to aggravate unless bold action is taken on six key issues.

The need to boost farming productivity

First, smallholder farmers’ productivity has to rise significantly, as a large majority of Africans rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. African crop yields are amongst the lowest in the world due to poor seeds and degraded soils, a lack of fertiliser and other essential inputs, and insufficient mechanisation and transport infrastructure. A shift from farming as a subsistence activity to farming as a business is needed and has to be matched with the right set of policies, institutions and investments.

Encouragingly, exciting progress is being made. For example, African research institutes—with the support of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa—have developed within a decade more than 600 new crop varieties. Seed companies are now producing more than 130 metric tonnes of seeds for approximately 15m farmers.

Second, and related to the first point, as smallholder farmers lack the means to adapt to rising temperatures and adverse weather events such as droughts and floods, there is a critical need to strengthen the ability of farming communities to cope with the impacts of climate change. Investing in weather forecast systems, insurance schemes, efficient irrigation technology and heat- or drought-tolerant crop varieties can help boost farm productivity under increasingly severe climate conditions.

Third, leveraging the transformation of African agriculture and raising productivity levels requires a reform of customary land-tenure systems. Smallholder farmers with weak and insecure tenure rights are under threat of being evicted from their farms and have little incentive to invest in their land. A reform of tenure systems also has to include a consolidation of farm plots to make commercial agriculture viable.

Strengthening value chains, trade and stability

Fourth, there is a need to develop and strengthen agricultural value chains, including agro-processing industries. These bear enormous potential for job creation and value addition. African governments have to adjust their private-sector development and industrial policies in order to attract more agribusinesses and investors. They, in turn, have to link up with smaller farms and related economic sectors and work in close partnership.

Fifth, we have to make every effort to triple intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services by 2025, one of the goals of the 2014 Malabo Declaration. Compared with other world regions, intra-African food trade is dismally low. The share of trade in agricultural products among African countries that is intra-regional varied between 13% and 20% over the period from 2000 to 2013, while European and Asian countries traded 75% and 63% among their respective regions, respectively. African countries have to remove trade barriers for food and reap the benefits of larger markets.

Finally, we need to recognise that stability and peace are necessary conditions for agricultural development, food security and the long-term sustainability of food systems. In parts of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, millions of people are at risk of starvation due to violent conflict, radical extremism and insecurity. People are forced to migrate to seek for alternatives to secure their livelihoods. Our efforts to combat hunger have to go hand-in-hand with those to build peaceful and prosperous societies.

The importance of making agricultural systems more sustainable and addressing nutritional challenges is highlighted by the Food Sustainability Index, developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition. It is high time that we prioritise agricultural development and work together to tackle the root causes of hunger and poverty. Through my foundation I continue to mobilise the political will to achieve progress on these fronts. If we get this right, Africa will not just be able to feed itself, but to contribute to global food and nutrition security, and therefore more stability throughout the world.

*Former UN Secretary-General, Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation.Article culled from his LinkedIn page

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Nigerians debate giving 10% of their income to the church
April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
Pastor Adeboye's Redemption Camp church is one of the fastest growing in Nigeria

Pastor Adeboye’s Redemption Camp church is one of the fastest growing in Nigeria

Many Nigerian Christians believe it is compulsory to give 10% of their income to the church. But, Yemisi Adegoke writes, others say this practice, known as tithing, means poor people are funding the extravagant lifestyles of some of Nigeria’s richest people – charismatic preachers.

“Anyone who is not paying his tithe is not going to heaven, full stop,” Pastor Enoch Adeboye said to a hall full of pastors in Lagos earlier this month.

“Go back, immediately after this convention to restitute your ways with your congregation,” he ordered the pastors at the Redemption Camp.

Congregation members pass around a collection basket for tithes and offering
Image captionPassing a collection plate – or basket – is a longstanding part of Christianity but should it be obligatory?

He has spoken about this many times before. “Paying your tithe is not a minor thing,” he warned in a previous sermon. “Go back to Malachi, chapter three, verse 8-11,” he urged.

In the Contemporary English translation, that part of the Old Testament says: “I am the Lord All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test. Bring the entire 10% into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house. Then I will open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing.”

Other translations, including the King James Bible, just use the word tithe, which is an old English word meaning tenth.

And Nigerians have been continuing the debate on social media.

Some critics have linked preachers’ insistence that followers must give a tithe with the immense wealth of many Nigerian pastors.

With about half of Nigeria’s 180 million people saying they are Christians, the potential income to the country’s many churches is enormous.

Pastor Adeboye himself has been listed by Forbes as one of the richest clerics in the world with a net worth of $130m (£91m).

‘Manipulative doctrine’

What particularly irks radio personality Daddy Freeze is that preachers tell very poor people that if they give to the church, God will make them wealthy – an idea known as the “prosperity gospel”.

“The only people that seem to be getting richer are these people who are preaching this gospel of prosperity,” he told the BBC.

Ifedayo Olarinde known as 'Daddy Freeze' is one of the most outspoken critics of tithing in Nigeria
Image captionIfedayo Olarinde, known as “Daddy Freeze”, is one of the most outspoken critics of tithing in Nigeria

“You have a pastor who builds a school with the funds generated from tithing and offerings from poor congregation members and they can’t [afford to] attend those schools.”

The presenter, whose real name is Ifedayo Olarinde, used to pay tithes himself and still describes himself as a follower of Christ.

But he believes that tithes are an irrelevant part of the Old Testament.

“It’s a non-progressive doctrine, it’s a manipulative doctrine and it’s an enslaving doctrine.”

Daddy Freeze’s comments have cost him.

Preachers have spoken out against him in their sermons and people have started avoiding him.

“Nobody wants to work with me, nobody,” he said. “But I believe what I’m doing, I’m doing for humanity, people need to be set free.”

He is not the only Christian who disputes whether the Bible advises to pay 10% of your income to the church – some well known preachers have come forward to say it is not compulsory.

Doing God’s work

For Idris Belo-Osagie, a pastor at the Lifepointe Church in Lagos, the 10% figure is a “useful reference” for Christians due to its “historical context,” but he stipulates that “we are not forced to give to God”.

"It's not about a percentage, it's not about a requirement, it's about a lifestyle," says Pastor Belo-Osagie
Image caption“It’s not about a percentage, it’s not about a requirement, it’s about a lifestyle,” says Pastor Belo-Osagie

However, he adds that “it’s hard to see how you can follow in Jesus’ steps and not give”.

In a country where state-run health and education services are often lacking, he argues that the church often uses the money it gets for the welfare “of those who can’t take care of themselves”.

“There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who are fed in Nigeria by the church because they’ve been empowered by the giving of the people of God,” he said.

He also points out that the money is used to spread the church’s teachings.

And the church-goers I met in Lagos are happy to carry on paying the 10%.

“It’s something I’ve practised over time and it’s worked for me, so I’ll just keep doing it,” the smartly dressed assistant to pastor Caleb Ekpenyong told me.

For him the doctrine is clear and there is no grey area.

The conspicuous consumption of some preachers doesn’t deter Christians from giving either.

One church-goer, Temitope Olagbgegi, told me the preachers’ lavish lifestyles were a matter for God, not her.

“So many people are concerned about how the funds are being used, forgetting that, because it’s a spiritual thing, if the pastor chooses to misuse funds he’s going to bear the brunt of it.”

*BBC

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Africa cannot develop without IMF framework
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asserted that infrastructural  governance can’t improve in Africa if it’s recommended framework is not implemented.

Karim Barhoumi with Benin President Patrice Talon

Karim Barhoumi with Benin President Patrice Talon

Speaking at the ongoing Spring meetings in Washington DC, two officials of the organisation stated this in a session titled ‘Public Investment Efficiency in Sub-Saharan African Countries: What Lies Ahead?

The officials Ha Vu, a public financial management specialist at the IMF, and Karim Barhoumi, IMF resident representative in Benin and Togo, stated this in response to a question on why Africa was still faced with economic challenges despite help by the IMF,

Vu said: “Other development partners have tried to help African countries including the Sub Saharan African countries to improve the infrastructure governance. Who do you think should be the king actor? It’s you, Africa.

“We are here to help and support. We are here to guide because for example the framework, it cannot help to improve infrastructure governance in Africa if it is not applied.

“The role of the framework is to guide you where to look at to find the issues, how to think and how to improve and the IMF provides technical assistance to implement these reforms to get the improvement.”

Corroborating her stand, Barhoumi added: “You’re right, there are political economic issues as it depends on the commitment you have on the political level to also start working on projects,” Barhoumi said.

“The fund is providing this advice, this recommendation but it depends on the commitment of any country:‎ “It’s not a matter of spending much more than your neighbouring country but it is the quality of your spending. With the same amount of money, we can have three bridges and we all know the economic impact of bridges but with the same amount of money, we only have two bridges because of lack of quality public management.”

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The man who’s awaken the world about Congo
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jesse Jackson Snr*

Jesse Jackson Snr

Jesse Jackson Snr

CHICAGO, United States of America, April 19, 2018/ — Finally, the world met in Geneva on Friday 13th of April to gather the necessary financing to bring relief aid to desperate people of DRCongo. And this, subsequently to the efforts of DRC’s -Prime Minister Samy Badibanga Ntita. It is the first time ever that the International Community met to pledge financing for humanitarian aid to a war-torn country, big as one fourth of the United States, with some of its people unfortunately living in hellish conditions.

The hundred million Congolese thought the international community had abandoned them to their fate, in a crisis hidden behind the horrific news from Yemen and Syria. The stakes are high, with almost two billion dollars needed, which tells how much this mega-crisis has been forgotten and underfinanced.

Behind the figures, it is about humanity. It is challenging our hearts and willingness to deliver solidarity on a global scale. This is the unbelievable story of fifteen million people whose villages have been burnt down, their hospitals, schools and livelihoods looted and destroyed. The Congolese people of Kivu, Kasaï, Tanganyika and other regions of DR Congo have been attacked by armed men, in some cases by the Government security forces. Five million of them have been forced to flee and hide in the forests, after witnessing and being subjected to brutal rapes and killings of men, women and their children; the weapons of choice being guns, gasoline and machetes. In Kasaï, Kivu and Ituri, heart bleeding testimonials of survivors describe a situation which looks like the broad day light slaughterhouse of human beings

As we’ve just lost Winnie Mandela, who successfully fought apartheid in South Africa, as an eternal contribution to the freedom of black people in Africa and worldwide, it is shocking and outrageous. And it is sad that 13 million people are left in great need for relief aid after suffering so much violence. Today indeed, the DRCongo is the most important challenge to human dignity and global solidarity in Africa, if not in the world. This is coming out as an embarrassment  to the  International  Community, when one  considers that the equivalent  of a  9/11 has  been happening daily, for more than ten years, a problem now being exacerbated in the regions of Kasaï, Kivu and Ituri.

We also remember our fellow compatriot Michael Sharp brutally killed and beheaded in Kasaï, central DR Congo, together with Zaida Catalan, during an investigation for the United Nations. We pray for them and for their families.

Though the United Nations signalled alert calls after summer 2017, little has happened since. Aid workers and NGOs are still left to make impossible choices with little food aid or healthcare. Sadly, information indicates that the Government is hindering aid delivery, claiming taxes on relief aid, and finally refused to participate to the Geneva Conference.

We owe this first ever International Conference for DR Congo people to a man from Congo himself, my friend Samy Badibanga, who embarked in November last year on convincing the United Nations, the European Union, and developed Nations around the world to organize an International Conference to gather 1,68 billion dollars to finance the humanitarian needs of the people of DR Congo. Samy has led this work with Cardinal Mosengwo and Reverend Bokundoa towards its completion and deserves high recognition for the good and hope he just brought to his people.

The world now sees and knows what is going on in the Congo, and the everyday life of millions of women, left alone to provide for their children, amid their villages being burnt down and their husbands slaughtered in front of them. I hereby applaud Samy’s decisive commitment, faith in God and humanity, his work and achievement with the Churches of Congo. We now pray for relief aid to rapidly bring food, schools, healthcare, shelter, protection and security.

At Rainbow Push (https://RainbowPush.org), we’ll now pray for hope and strength to fill the heart of our fellow humans in DR Congo. Faith without deeds is indeed a contradiction. God bless Samy, the Congo and the whole Africa.

Keep Hope Alive
*Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr is Founder & President Rainbow Push.

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OP-ED: REFORMING THE AU REQUIRES STRONGER TIES WITH CIVIL SOCIETY
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Mpako Foaleng and Niagalé Bagayoko*

Faced with security threats that are rapidly and constantly changing, and compounded by economic and social challenges that inhibit development ambitions in Africa, the question that is increasingly being asked is how to promote the participation of civil society in the management of public affairs and, in particular, political and security matters.

In its Constitutive Act, the African Union (AU) acknowledges “the need to build a partnership between governments and all segments of civil society, in particular women, youth and the private sector, in order to strengthen solidarity and cohesion among our peoples”.[1] Furthermore, the AU plans to build its capacity to guarantee peace and protection for African citizens through common defence and security policies by 2063.

Through institutional reforms adopted in 2017, the AU is committed to becoming financially independent with regard to security affairs by increasing the contribution of its Member States to the “Peace Fund” and reducing that of international partners.

Without prejudice to what may actually happen to this fund and its utilization, there is one major hurdle that the AU must overcome to ensure sustainability of its actions in the area of peace and security: a complete change in the manner in which civil society is engaged, involved and considered is mandatory.

By enlisting the support of organized civil society in its various member countries, the AU could utilize them as effective allies, particularly in encouraging Member States to implement its principles, which provide for the involvement of populations in the management of public affairs.

The nature of current security threats – whether in the form of terrorism, violent extremism, trafficking in persons, drugs and arms at the trans-regional level or escalating organized crime and conflicts between communities at the national level – cannot be effectively addressed in the absence of a climate of trust between citizens and state authorities, including security forces and law enforcement.

Moreover, the “African Union Policy Framework on Security Sector Reform”, adopted by the Twentieth Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in January 2013, emphasizes the role of civil society in security sector reform (SSR) and engages the latter (particularly in Section H) to actively interact with the AU as well as with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Member States in this area.[2] ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) also highlights in its “Policy Framework for Security Sector Reform and Governance” the key role that civil society should play in the oversight of security affairs.

However, there is no denying the fact that the reality falls far short of these principles in many African states, and the situation tends to worsen in certain countries where laws have been adopted that explicitly restrict, or even prohibit, the involvement of civil society organizations in security-related matters.

The AU is therefore suitably placed to combine its desire for financial reform and the need to foster change in the attitudes of its Member States for greater recognition of the oversight role of organized civil society in the areas of security and justice.

The increasingly important role played in the evolution of institutions and political and security situations by civil society in all of its forms, in a certain number of African countries, is a welcome development.

As an illustration, in 2014 it was observed that civil society in Burkina Faso, through movements such as the Balai Citoyen, were actively involved in actions that precipitated the departure of President Blaise Campaoré. They also played a key role in the failure of the attempted coup of 15 September 2015 led by the former presidential security regiment (RSP), security forces loyal to the deposed president.

This commitment helped to bring about an end to the crisis and the democratic appointment of a new president.[3] Even before this historical wave of popular protests, the Balai Citoyen had focused its efforts on promoting dialogue between the populations and the armed forces, as well as improving the conditions of the military.

However, Burkina Faso today is subject to continuous attacks in the North along its border areas with Mali and Niger, gravely undermining the ability of defence and security forces to ensure the protection of the state and citizens in an effective and accountable manner. The government has identified security sector reform as a priority. It will be important to ensure in the process that civil society in Burkina Faso continue to have a space to advocate for the democratic management of security affairs.

In Africa, a long history of civil wars, armed conflicts, coup d’états, authoritarian military regimes and abuse by law enforcement officers has shaped the largely undemocratic operations of political and security institutions.

Defence and security services have long been at the exclusive service of ensuring the security of regimes in place. The challenge today is translating into action the officially stated, yet contradictory in practice, ambitions of many African states to promote both state security and that of the populations they are meant to serve.

The AU should rely on civil society organizations to help promote an approach to security and governance that focuses on the protection requirements of both citizens and state institutions.

The challenge in fact is ensuring that the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force enjoyed by states is subject to democratic supervision and citizen control, carried out by civil society organizations in particular.

There are, however, three key issues that should not be overlooked in order to promote effective collaboration between the AU and civil society organizations in the area of peace and security: legitimacy, representation and competition (especially in terms of access to public funds or from external donors), which now characterize the increasingly dynamic yet widely challenged (including by the populations) sphere in which African civil societies evolve.

*Mpako Foaleng (PhD) and Niagalé Bagayoko (PhD) are senior experts on security sector reform and governance.

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Rawlings writes: The deceit of western propaganda
April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jerry John Rawlings*

John Rawlings

John Rawlings

Is the world not in a frame of mind to express gratitude to Putin and Russia for not firing back at those Western vessels?

I have spent many hours pondering over what to say to Macron and Theresa May. What to say to the knowledgeable statesmen and women of the world. What to say to the masses of this world whose ignorance and belief in the Western propaganda and deceit would have emboldened Macron, Theresa May and the blowman in the White House to do what they did Friday night.

I don’t know what I can say or do to make people wake up to the fact that Putin and Assad are innocent of the charges leveled against them.

What can I say to people around the world to make them realize that Macron, Theresa May and presumably Trump should all be aware that two other countries very much aligned to Britain, France and the US have been responsible for this gassing operation all this while.

If the masses of this world and the supposed intelligentsia cannot even see which two nations could very well be guilty of this gassing operation then they do not deserve the freedom and justice that is slowly but surely being curtailed by the savagery of capitalism.

The British have told this lie in a hysterical and passionate manner, while the French have told theirs in a cold and calculating manner.

If Theresa May, Macron, Trump, Boris Johnson, some selected personnel around them and their intelligence machinery are prepared to subject themselves to the polygraph test to prove to the world that they did not know that the allegations they were directing at Putin and Assad were false, and Putin and Assad to also prove their innocence which I believe in, I will spend the rest of my life apologizing to them (West) and wage a campaign telling the world what monsters Putin and Assad are.

If Assad the supposed monster were to be subjected to a polygraph test, I believe and I know that he will pass the test…his truth will pass the polygraph test. If Putin of Russia were to be subjected to a similar test, I believe and I know his truth will also pass the polygraph test. I also believe and know that if President Macron, Prime Minister Theresa May, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson were also subjected to the same test on a polygraph, their truth will fail the test and they know it. Assad and Putin are no saints but they definitely are not guilty of this monstrosity brewed in a Western pot.

Events of this kind have been staged many a time by warmongering nations and exploited for their own political ends.

Wars have broken out following the staging of these kinds of deceitful events. The last well known example was the one the US staged at the UN. By the time the truth had been established, America and her so-called allies had prosecuted the war against Iraq with its indefensible consequences.

On 11th April 2017, a similar staged gas attack was orchestrated right on the verge of a joint Assad/Putin victory in the Syrian conflict and the global outcry fed into Western agenda.

Almost to the date of the anniversary of this atrocious crime, it has been committed again when the Assad government has just about won the war.

The most recent attempt to stage and accuse Russia and more directly Putin was on British soil but was fortunately exposed by another British institution.

What other evidence did the world and its statesmen and women need to recognize the intentions of some of these Western nations? We all remained silent risking the probability of a World War.

Is the world so unaware of how close we came to the outbreak of war? We may therefore not be in the correct frame of mind to recognize the need to express our gratitude to God, Putin and Russia for the restraint they have exercised in this provocation. We must also congratulate the Russian and Syrian military for intercepting most of the recent missiles.

How could Theresa May, have fallen for this act? How could the capitalist West feel threatened and intimidated by a Russian leader who has earned the true respect, admiration and loyalty not only of his people, but the world at large?

The leadership of both China and Russia are providing the needed international stability while the US and her allies find their feet and their moral compass. The leadership of China and Russia appear to have adopted a sympathetic and supportive role to enable the West recover. In spite of this, the West and her allies are abusing human rights with downright impunity and insensitivity.

The cool-headedness of Putin as opposed to the desperation and sometimes hysterical behavior of certain Western leaders has made a heroic figure of Putin well beyond his borders.

A fine opportunity to create a better and stable world based on freedom, justice and morality is being undermined, being rejected in what appears to be a desperate attempt to restore a Cold War climate. Can’t leaders of this world speak out?

For those of us in the developing world, we only need to remind ourselves of the powers that kept the brutal apartheid regime propped up for so long. A cursory glance at the fate of Palestinians and Yemenis should tell us the callous creature that the savagery of capitalism has turned out to be since the collapse of the bipolar authority.

America and her allies have over the years appeared determined to maintain a unipolar power no matter what it takes through incidents of unjust wars, wanton provocation, intimidation and casting of judgment without trial.

If integrity, truthfulness and justice must give way to falsehood and deceit to enable them control and rule the world, so be it and to hell with it. If the integrity of intelligence operatives and others can be subjected to polygraph tests to ascertain their integrity and truthfulness, what puts politicians and others above the truth in circumstances of this nature?

*John Rawlings is former President of the Republic of Ghana

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