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Gambia:Barrow Reveals 2020 Many Global Dev’t Goals will not be Attained
January 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow

President Adama Barrow, has indicated that 2020 is a popular target year for key global development goals, many of which will not be attained.

He noted that although this is not an excuse for failure anywhere, it is a reminder that unforeseen circumstances and external factors can affect any national plan or target.

“So far, my Government is in the pursuance of Projects that would touch the lives of rural and urban dwellers as designed in the NDP, and we are poised to do better,” he said during his New year message.

“Thus far, the legislative frameworks, structural arrangements and institutional reforms executed manifest how genuine and how organised, realistic and consistent we have been in the pursuit of our national development objectives”

He explained that from 2020 onward, sharper focus will be cast on human resource and infrastructure development, the economy, the social services, institutional strengthening and performance. 

“Our achievements and endorsements, nationally and internationally, have encouraged us to remain at the helm of the affairs of the nation. Today, we are more determined, more focused and much more devoted to the cause of the people”

He pointed out that they have learnt lessons and are better prepared to tackle the challenges that confront us as a nation within the context of a world marked by unexpected developments.

Gambian leader stressed that: “We will continue to galvanise support from the international community through convincing evidence of the vigour, seriousness and sincerity that underline our approach to governance”

He added that “We will translate all these into honest, transparent and accountable processes, and will intensify the fight against corruption in public institutions. Succeeding in this venture calls for public support and cooperation”

He stressed that it is the people who develop a country, but it is the people themselves who stall the progress of their nations.

“To avoid this, we must not violate the legal frameworks, ethical values and codes of ethics that govern the discharge of our responsibilities and duties” 

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Gambia: Barrow says to Quit After 3 Years will be Betrayal of People
January 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow

President Adama Barrow, has stressed that to resign after three-years transition agreement implies betraying people.

The Gambian leader came to power on the backing of seven political parties and three independent candidates. He promised to step down after a three-year transition and organize an election in which he will not participate.

However, he now said stepping down is no longer feasible and has since made his intentions to even contest the 2021 presidential elections.

Last month Three-year Jotna, a Pro-democracy group hold a massive peaceful demonstration demanding President Barrow to honor coalition three-years transition agreement and step down.

They petition government threaten another protest in January 2020 to hold President Barrow honor his campaign promises to the public.

However, in his new year message Gambian leader said: “While tendering my resignation is not unconstitutional, as some people argue, it is irresponsible and imprudent to do so if it is not prompted and justified by principles linked to statehood and the people. To resign after three years in office implies betraying the people, multitudes of whom continue to pledge support for my Government and our development agenda”

He pointed out that: “I have judiciously counselled myself to bow to the will of the people, and I refuse to yield to the sentiments and ambitions of a minority group. For this reason, my decision is to complete the five-year mandate stipulated in the Constitution for a sitting President. I am not ill disposed in any way to warrant my resignation as President”

“In consequence, the next Presidential Election will be held according to schedule in 2021. For this purpose, the electoral reform process is in progress to ensure that all national elections are free and fair”

He stressed that the greatest threat to the nation is disorder and instability. Lawlessness will undermine the peace and tranquility we now enjoy.

He called on all citizens should remain vigilant, the security services have to be alert and well-disposed to maintain law and order, defend our sovereignty and secure our territorial integrity.

Barrow further emphasis: “I swore twice by the Holy Qur’an, in Dakar and in The Gambia, to defend and act according to the national Constitution. Under these circumstances, I cannot accord the Coalition Agreement preference over the Constitution”

“The desire to dislodge dictatorship by all democratic means guided us in the development of the Coalition Agreement”

He explained that after  he took up office, the gravity of the institutional failures, abuse of office, human rights and bad governance became more apparent. 

“Thus, the need to weigh fulfilling the Coalition Agreement and acting on the Constitution I swore to uphold. The confidence and mandate entrusted upon me have subsequently guided my decision to respect the voice and will of the people, by maintaining to serve the full Constitutional mandate of five years,”he said

“It is in the same spirit that both the Legislative and Local Government Elections occurred. the circumstances now dictate that national development and the national interest take precedence over partisan or sectional interests,”

He urged  all citizen to resolve to become better democratic and productive citizens in the country. 

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Africa Must Innovate Her Way Out Of Poverty – Fourth Industrial Revolution and Africa’s Opportunity to Close the Economic Gap
December 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ben Kazora*

Industrial Revolution

The first industrial revolution dates back to the 1700s. This saw the transformation of agriculture societies into industrialized and urban ones. Thomas Newcomen’s design of the steam changed everything and allowed free movement of goods and labor. Goods that had once been crafted by hand started to be produced in mass quantities by machines in factories, thanks to the introduction of new machines and techniques in textiles, iron making and other industries.

Second Industrial revolution was marked by rapid industrialization and standardization. This took place between 1870 and 1914 and came with the expansion of the electronics, steel and textile industry. These advancements enabled the wide spread of technologies such as telegraph, railroad networks, water supply, sewage systems and all. It was actually the telegraph and railroad lines that started the mass movement of ideas and people leading to the first signs of globalization, a prelude to today’s society.

We are presently in the ending phase of the third industrial revolution better known as the digital revolution. This has seen the advent of super computers and rapid advancements in the internet that have further redefined how people and business transact.
It’s also safe to say that we are standing on the palisade of the forth industrial revolution. Unlike the previous other iterations, this revolution seeks to marry physical, digital, and biological spheres to foster an inclusive, human-centered future. Another stark difference with the former revolutions is the deep rooted desire to leverage technology to achieve the greatest good for the most number of people possible.

Moving forward we are expecting to see more prevalent use of technologies such as 3-D printing. This phenomenon has brought down the costs of labor and material. Fifth generation wireless technology (5G) capable of reaching 100Gbps is focused on increasing bandwidth to be smarter and faster than ever before. It’s this technology that will power the self-driving cars and internet of things (IoT) just to mention a few.

Self-Driving Cars

Since May of 2019 UPS has been using self-driving trucks to ship goods between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Recently Land O’ Lakes announced that they delivered butter from Tulare, California, to Pennsylvania (almost 2,700miles) using self-driving trucks. These self-driving vehicles are designed to optimize traffic and fuel. It’s been reported that 1.24 million people die each year of collisions and this number is expected to reach 2.2 million in 2030 according to the World Health Organization (WHO), According to a study by the Eno Centre for Transportation, if about 90% of cars on American roads were autonomous, the number of accidents would fall from six million a year to 1.3 million and deaths would fall from 33,000 to 11,300.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices are taking human interaction out of the equation. Today, consumers are using the IoT to make restaurant reservations, monitor their exercise progress and overall health, and receive coupons for a store only by virtue of walking by the business in question. Take an example in agriculture, devices using IoT technology can sense soil moisture and nutrients, in conjunction with weather data, better control smart irrigation and fertilizer systems. If the sprinkler systems dispense water only when needed, for example, this prevents wasting a precious resource. In manufacturing RFID and GPS technology can help a manufacturer track a product from its start on the factory floor to its placement in the destination store, the whole supply chain from start to finish. These sensors can gather information on travel time, product condition, and environmental conditions that the product was subjected to. According to a Cisco report, the next decade will see IoT devices creating $14.4 trillion worth of value across several industries.

The Ghana and South Korea Development Disparities

In 1957, Ghana was the richest nation in sub-Saharan Africa with a per capita income of $490. That was nearly the same as South Korea which had a per capita income of $491. By the early 1980’s Ghana’s per capita income had been reduced to $400 while South Korea’s per capita income had grown to a whopping $2,000. By 1990 South Korea’s per capita income was ten times larger than Ghana ($4,832 versus $481). Today South Korea’s GDP per capita stands at $26,761 while that of Ghana is $1,807. So what happened here?
South Korea like many other Asian countries embraced innovation and creativity. The first step was to revolutionize the education standard. With this we saw the illiteracy rate falling from 80% to less than 10%. Towards the end of 1980s 37% of South Korean students had some form of higher education. South Korea notched top scores worldwide for manufacturing value-added as well as for tertiary efficiency – a measure that includes enrollment in higher education and the concentration of science and engineering graduates,” said a recent Bloomberg report. Companies such as Samsung and LG have become global leaders in the area of consumer electronics thanks to their cutting-edge technology and innovative product designs.
 
Coupling with education, innovation and technology are the key factors that have underpinned South Korean export competitiveness and fueled the country’s remarkable economic rise over the past decades. The growth rate has been so impressive that the East Asian nation went from being one of the poorest countries in the 1960s to becoming the world’s 12th largest economy in 2019, according to the World Bank. South Korea’s $1.63T economy is bigger than Saudi Arabia and Turkey combined. America’s global competitiveness is hinged on her innovative capacity and atmosphere. We have seen how digital technologies have been the vital factors of national security and economic growth. Additionally, these technologies are at the root of many advancements in complex sciences, healthcare, communications and industry to mention a few. Innovation and technology are the key factors that have underpinned South Korean export competitiveness and fueled the country’s remarkable economic rise over the past decades.
There is a clear correlation between GDP growth and investment in innovation, research and development. In the 15 years between 2000 and 2015 the US spend on research and development almost doubled from $268.6 billion to $496.6 billion. In the same period the US GDP grew from $10.28T to $18.12T. In the same time, India’s investment almost tripled while China’s increased tenfold and the results are similar. 
 
In addition, technological advances are helping to bring down the cost of renewable energies, such as solar and wind energy, handing them a greater role in the global economy’s energy mix, with significant effects for both producers and consumers of fossil fuels. A simple example of the benefits; in the developing countries a slight reduction to the cost of gas at the pump brought about by technology can mean lowered cost of transportation which means lower cost of food, cement, clothing just to mention a few. This also means additional savings at the pump allowing one to save more, invest in stocks and share just to mention a few. A new McKinsey Global Institute report, Beyond the supercycle: How technology is reshaping resources speaks to how technology can aide in the further unlocking of $900B to $1.6T in savings globally by 2035. This is more than the GDP of Spain.

What Can Africa Learn From South Korea?

In my humble opinion, most African countries with a few exceptions like Rwanda have decided to first become rich and then focus on people. This is the exact opposite of what nations like Korea did and in line with what Rwanda’s Kagame is doing with Presidential Scholars and other programs. It’s very true that we aren’t certain how the economies of the future will look like. So investing in people is the more ideal route to pursue.
South Korea is intent on joining the globes top 4 nations in artificial intelligence (AI) have invested $2B in programs to ensure this vision is realized by 2022. Some of the key initiatives include 6 new AI institutions that seek to churn out more than 5,000 engineers.
Like South Korea, Africa has to look inwards and seek homegrown solutions that work for Africa. South Korea resides in the same region with China and Japan. China low labor costs. Japan was leading the way with high tech and capital intensive industries. Today’s 10 youngest populations are all in Africa. Average ages include Niger (14.8 years), Uganda (15.9 years) and Zambia (16.9 years). By 2034 Africa will have the youngest working age population. Additionally, Times magazine has estimated Africa’s urbanization rate to be at 37%. This is more than India’s and at par with China and is expected to be the fasted between 2020 and 2050.

South Korea invested in building national consensus in with regards to the direction of the major economic policies. Concurrently, there was high level of government support of the local entrepreneurs that helped them optimize the business opportunities available. Above all, the key miracle of South Korea has been in the mindset of the population that allows the population to successfully adopt to challenges while minimizing risks.

The way forward

An IMF report released in April, 2017 confirmed that oil-exporting countries and other resource-intensive countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were showing the worst economic performance in the region. Even those that enjoyed good governance were also experiencing similar challenges. For long we as a continent have relied agriculture produce that remain vulnerable the instability of international market prices.
Even a country like Botswana that enjoyed a reputation for good governance and were regarded as models in Sub-Saharan Africa experienced problems related to a commodity-dependent economy. Traditionally, African economies which are primarily reliant on agricultural produce like cacao, coffee and tea have experienced vulnerability with the fluctuation of international market prices. While commodity prices have been recovering in 2018, various economic forecasts point to rather sluggish growth for the resource-rich African countries.
The African Union has come up with agenda 2063 that is intended to inspire nations to achieve a structurally transformed economy. This primarily leans on an industrialized Africa. It’s evident that without proper investment in human capital development and more in innovation and technology, this dream will never be realized.

Stephen Hawking once famously said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” A decade ago terms such as internet of things, machine learning and artificial intelligence weren’t common phrases. When I graduated with my Bachelors from Purdue University in 2008 we were only then beginning to properly embrace nanotechnology and its vast applications. Today, most labor intensive tasks have been taken away from humans and are being dealt with purely by machines. The world is changing at such a high pace that in a few decade most of these novel technologies will also be obsolete. The only way to keep up is with heavy investment in human capital and constant investment in research and development. Labor force must be retrained, upskilled and transformed.

One way to achieve this would be strategic partnerships between academia and private sector to allow the effective transfer of knowledge. This allows university students to constantly keep up with evolving trends of the real world. Curriculums will also need to be constantly updated to this effect. A The McKinsey Global Institute’s report posited that Artificial Intelligence (AI) alone has the potential to add up to $13trillion to the current global GDP by 2030. Automation of labor alone is said to contribute around $9trillion and innovation in products and services could increase $6trillion.
The renown American economist Robert Shiller once said “you cannot wait until a house burns down to buy fire insurance on it. We cannot wait until there are massive dislocations in our society to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Indeed the time for Africa to prepare herself for the fourth industrial revolution is yesterday. African governments must also encourage experimentation. Like venture capitalists do with their investment, African governments should also take a portfolio approach to scripting policies. This way success balances failure and models that work can be scaled up. A November 2019 World Bank article has show has the Ethiopian government is developing “portfolio” of industrial parks as a means to making Ethiopian the continent’s manufacturing hub. We have also seen the Liberian government experiment with outsourcing school management to private sector entities. A recent report from poverty action has shown that, this has actually yielded positive results. After 3 years of this experiment these schools raised their test scores by 0.21 standard deviations in math and 0.16 standard deviations in English.

Conclusion

African must shift focus to creating more adaptive governments.
African private sector should be the driver of the innovative change while the government remains the enabler through creative adaptive governments as well as appropriate allocation of resources.
Business leaders and entrepreneurs should remain focused on a few key consumer behaviors:

  • Drive mass personalization of products and services
  • Focus on creating maximum value from a single transaction by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technologies to best predict future needs and points of engagement.
  • There should be unwavering emphasis on collaboration with multiple partners beyond one’s supply chain network.
  • Companies must embrace risk to foster growth as well as providing the best value for the customers. Only in doing so will these companies keep up with or stay ahead of the competition.

*The author is  co-founder of Limitless Software Solutions and can be reached via emails ben.kazora@limitlesssoftwares.com and bkazora@alumni.purdue.edu.

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2019 in Retrospect: Killings, Arrest of Opposition politicians, GND Characterized events in Cameroon
December 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Anglophone crisis in Cameroon has led to thousands of displaced persons
Anglophone crisis in Cameroon has led to thousands of displaced persons

As  2019 rounds off to usher in a new decade, PAV’s Cameroon reporter looks back at some of the major events that occurred in Cameroon in the last year.

Arrests of Maurice Kamto and subsequent released

The year began with the arrest of opposition leader Professor Maurice Kamto (MRC leader). He was arrested after he organized what many called as a peaceful protest against the re-election of President Paul Biya for another seven years.

During the 2018 Presidential Election, Cameroon’s incumbent leader President Paul Biya won a landslide victory with Maurice Kamto coming in the second position. The leader of the MRC Party, however, continues to denounce that victory of President Biya indicating that he is the winner with statistics he has.

This denouncement and subsequent organization of peaceful protest led to him, some of his close collaborators and supporters being arrested.

He and his close collaborators subsequently spent some eight months at the Kondengui Maximum prison, only to be released through a presidential order. The order equally saw 3300 of MRC supporters being released.

Organization of MND and fallouts

In a bid to look for solutions to the on-going crisis in Cameroon’s restive South West and North West regions, the Head of State ordered a Grand National Dialogue for that purpose. Representatives from all parts of the country gathered in Cameroon’s political capital Yaounde to propose solutions that will help Cameroon get out of a crisis that is in its fourth year now.

The event, however, witnessed mass boycott as Separatist leaders refused to participate in an event which was tagged a “CPPDM Affair”. Diaspora leaders like Mark Bareta, Tapan Ivo, Eric Tataw all took to their social media accounts to denounce the Dialogue and instead called for a Swiss-led Dialogue process.

One of the major fallout of the Dialogue was the granting of special status to the North West and South West Regions. The President has moved to signed decrees

The Cameroonian government arrested opposition leader Maurice Kamto on Jan. 28. Kamto is shown in October during his unsuccessful campaign for president of Cameroon. (Zohra Bensemra-Reuters
The Cameroonian government arrested opposition leader Maurice Kamto on Jan. 28. Kamto is shown in October during his unsuccessful campaign for president of Cameroon. (Zohra Bensemra-Reuters

CHRDA re-launches report detailing Rights abuses and violations

The Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA re-launched its report detailing the rights abuses and violations committed during the ongoing Anglophone conflict in Cameroon. The report focuses on events from October 2016 to May 2019 and was first launched in Canada.

In the report more than 200 villages have been partly or completely destroyed, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee while the rate of attacks on villages has increased steadily, usually causing significant damage. Between 450, 000 and 550, 000 people have been displaced as a result of the crisis, representing about 10 per cent of the regions’ population, the report read in part. An additional 30, 000 to 35, 000 people have sought asylum in neighbouring countries.

CHRDA through the report provides evidence that much of the violence is intentional and planned, including retaliation attacks on villages by government security forces, often followed by indiscriminate shooting into crowds of civilians, invasions of private homes and murder of their inhabitants, and the rounding up and shooting of villagers. Violence against women has been widely reported. Non-state actors, including local armed groups, also bear much responsibility for the violence.

As the report demonstrates, the military is conducting a deliberate, violent campaign against civilian populations. Moreover, the existence of internal conflict does not absolve or minimize Cameroon’s responsibilities under domestic and international law to respect, protect, and fulfil human rights, to fulfil its positive duties to protect civilians during security operations, and to ensure the human rights of those arrested and detained are protected.

Special status granted to NOSO as a fallout of the Major national Dialogue in Cameroon
Special status granted to NOSO as a fallout of the Major national Dialogue in Cameroon

Closed trial for soldiers accused of viral video murders

Cameroonian soldiers accused of killing two women and their children will not be tried in public, following a decision made at the Yaoundé Military Court.

Shocking footage of the incident circulated on social media in 2018 showing men in military uniforms killing civilians.

The government of Cameroon initially dismissed the video as “fake news” but later opened an inquiry into the killing after a BBC investigation established that the extra-judicial killings were committed by Cameroonian soldiers.

Human Rights group Amnesty International has called on the Cameroonian authorities to ensure that the women and their children get justice.

The lawyer defending the seven soldiers on trial, Sylvestre Mbeng as quoted by the BBC said he believed the trial has been made private because the authorities feared there could be damaging revelations.

*This is the first of a series of reports detailing the events that occurred in Cameroon in the year 2019.

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Guinea-Bissau Presidential Elections: Embalo Claims Victory, But Opponent Calls for people to wait for official results
December 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Embalo has Claimed Victory in Guinea Bissau’s Presidential election

Former army general and ex-Prime Minister Umaro Cissoko Embalo said on Monday he was on course to win Guinea Bissau’s presidential election and his opponent urged the nation to await official results.

An Embalo victory over Domingos Simoes Pereira, another former prime minister and the candidate of the ruling PAIGC party, would be a turnaround from November’s first round, in which Pereira comfortably won the most votes.

The two competed in Sunday’s run-off to replace incumbent President Jose Mario Vaz, who was eliminated in the first round.

Vaz’s five-year term was marred by regular political sackings, an ill-functioning parliament and high-level corruption, and voters said they hoped the next president would restore calm to the West African nation.

Embalo campaign spokesman Djibril Balde said the victory claim was based on campaign tallies of preliminary results its observers had compiled in each region.

Embalo, 47, came second in last month’s first round vote with 28% versus 40% for Pereira. Ahead of Sunday’s run-off, Embalo won the backing of incumbent President Jose Mario Vaz, who received 12%.

As a candidate, Embalo vowed to modernize the country of 1.6 million people, which has suffered nine coups or attempted coups since independence from Portugal in 1974.

Embalo and Pereira both served as prime ministers under Vaz, who had a total of seven premiers amid a protracted feud with the PAIGC.

The political instability hurt Guinea-Bissau’s economy, which depends heavily on volatile prices for cashew nuts, the main income source for over two-thirds of households.

Official results are not expected until Wednesday and the electoral commission has not commented on the votes counted so far. 


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Liberia: ICSUL Describes Council of Patriots call for Protest as ‘Act of Terrorism’
December 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The pro-democracy group, Independent Civil Society Union of Liberia (ICSUL), has termed the planned December 30 protest by the Council of Patriots (COP) to remove President George Manneh Weah from power, as an act of terrorism that must be condemned and resisted by all well-meaning Liberians and international partners alike.
However, the planned protest was cancelled due to security reasons and Public outcry from United Nations and ECOWAS who have said the protest might fueled instability.

ICSUL, in a release issued Thursday in Monrovia, described planners of the protest as democratic losers and agents of chaos and instability, whose sole intent is to destabilize Liberia in their quest to obtain state power through undemocratic means.

The civil society group reminded the “Weah Step Down” campaigners that gone are the days when selfish elements, with impunity, ran away from the platform of the masses’ will to choose their leaders and reverted to the jungles to give birth to rebellious acts, adding that the Liberian people have learned the hard lesson of insurrections and will no longer permit democratic flunkies to illegally and unconstitutionally dictate the affairs of the state.

ICSUL cited the dethroning of heads of state and the destruction of lives and properties in Libya, Algeria, Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, and other countries around the world, when people under the guise of exercising democratic freedom, took the law in their hands with selfish and malicious influences, thus leaving some of those countries politically and economically unstable and paralyzed.

The CSO group also recalled the events of April 14, 1979, when some political actors lured unsuspecting Liberians into the infamous rice riot, a protest which was initially planned to be peaceful but turned chaotic, leaving hundreds of innocent Liberians dead and thousands of dollars worth of properties destroyed.

ICSUL noted that the political and economic problems of Liberia require collective efforts and continuous advocacy by the opposition and all pro-democracy groups under the provisions of the constitution, and not acts or actions that have the propensity to undermine the gains Liberians have made over the last 16 years after the war.

Meanwhile, the Independent Civil Society Union of Liberia has welcomed the decision of the Ministry of Justice to deny the Council of Patriots the requested permit to stage its much publicized “Weah Step Down” protest, terming the ministry’s action as the exercise of cautious and responsible leadership.

The civil society group urged members of the Council of Patriots to explore other available democratic options to present their grievances to government and avoid violating the constitution and laws of Liberia at this critical junction of the country’s forward march. 

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Gambia: IEC approves registration of Barrow’s Party
December 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow now has his own party
President Adama Barrow now has his own party

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Tuesday 31st December has approved the registration of National Peoples’ Party, (NPP) select   President Adama Barrow as interim leader. 

On the final day of his meet-the-peoples’ tour in Banjul few weeks ago, the Gambian leader has promised he would establish his party before the end of 2019.

Barrow said the launch of the party will be in January 2020 when his ascension to power clocks 3 years.

The Gambian leader came to power on the backing of seven political parties and three independent candidates. 

He promised to step down after a three-year transition and organize an election in which he will not participate.

However, he now said stepping down is no longer feasible and has since made his intentions to even contest the 2021 presidential elections.

Barrow serves as the interim leader of the party. The party’s colour if Dark Grey with a white horse as a symbol. The party’s motto is peace, progress and unity.

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Ghana GOV’T to adopt ECOWAS single currency ECO in 2020
December 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Akufo Addo of Ghana and Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast
File Picture President Akufo Addo of Ghana and Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast

Ghana’s government has revealed  that it would  adopt the new single currency ECO in 2020 to be used by ECOWAS member states.

The currency was adopted by the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Nigeria’s capital Abuja in June 2019.

The West African leaders endorsed the currency at their 55th Ordinary Session and approved a road map towards the currency’s issuance in January 2020.


There was a roadmap to ensure that all member countries meet three primary criteria for the adoption of the currency.

Strong will
Many have doubted if the ECO will really be adopted by member countries, but there seems to be willingness of many countries in West Africa to adopt the currency.

In December 2019 Ecowas said it was renaming the CFA franc into Eco.

Under the new deal struck between ECOWAS and France, this will also involve cutting off some of the financial links between Francophone West African countries and France.

“This is a historic day for West Africa,” Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara said during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in the country’s main city Abidjan.

Ghana’s government in a statement said it was “determined to do whatsoever we can to enable us join member states of UEMOA, soon, in the use of ECO.”

“Ghana urges the other Member States of ECOWAS to work rapidly towards implementing the decisions of the Authorities of ECOWAS, including adopting a flexible exchange rate regime, instituting a federal system for the ECOWAS Central Bank, and other related agreed convergence criteria, to ensure that we achieve the single currency objectives of ECOWAS, as soon as possible, for all Member States,” the statement added.

Criteria for Eco adoption
That includes member countries having a budget deficit of not more than 3 percent; average annual inflation of less than 10 percent with a long-term goal of not more than 5 percent by 2019.

Countries were expected to also have gross reserves that can finance at least three months of imports.

The other convergence criteria that has been adopted by ECOWAS are public debt or Gross Domestic Product of not more than 70 percent.

There is also the issue of central banks financing budget deficit not more than 10 percent of previous year’s tax revenue, and nominal exchange rate variation of plus or minus 10 percent.

ECOWAS has a combined population of 385 million and was set up in 1975.

It comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Eight of these countries use one currency called the CFA franc. Those are Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

The current decision to adopt one currency is similar to the move made by the European Union to adopt the single currency called Euro.


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MARKETING 101 – The Art Of Selling Yourself, Services or Creativity
December 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

By TOCHUKWU YOUNG UMEZULIKE*

In whatever field or career you find yourself in, NEVER stop promoting yourself. Never shy away at any chance to tell people about you, what you are good at, the services or goods you offer/provide and what makes you good at it. Don’t forget that nobody can blow your trumpet better than you.

Sometimes not everyone will respond, reply, give you feedback or even acknowledge they saw or read your message(s) or mail but don’t let that stop or dissuade you. Remember “if you don’t try the answer will always be NO.” So never relent but while you are at it be courteous, respectful or humble if needed. Infact act the fool if it’s required to garner the attention you need. Also know when to push, be aggressive or when to take the soft pedal and meek approach. 

Don’t ever allow one No or non response or bad experience stop you from reaching out to people. Everybody isn’t the same, while some will always find reasons or excuses to say no to you, some would genuinely love to help but sometimes several constraints stand in the way of it. Don’t assume every no is coming from a hater or that nobody wants you to progress or achieve your aim. Because someone says/said NO to you doesn’t mean it won’t end in your favour. The NO may be to push you to where/what you deserve or to propel or lead you to the rightful place you should be. There’s no harm or shame in hyping your capabilities or letting people know about what you do, it’s called marketing 101.

So at every point in life don’t ever be afraid to pursue your goals or passion. Because it didn’t work for the  hundreds or millions before you doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. And just because nobody has done it before doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Don’t let the lack of enthusiasm or excitement from others dampen your resolve or make your interest wane. At times people will sound bored, unimpressed or uninterested simply because the idea or the plan is coming from you whom they see as beneath them or not on the same status, level, category or class with them. Or because the plan/idea isn’t their brainchild. All fingers aren’t equal but that doesn’t mean one finger is more or less important that the others. Same way we all have our spots, corners and niches that we were/are meant to occupy and make our own. Some people will never see anything good about you simply because for no reason they don’t like you, how you dress, your hairstyle, how you talk, your accent, the way you walk or your confidence. There will always be a reason why people won’t like you but all you need is to give them one reason or excuse to like/love you and one person to like/love you or just believe in you.

Marketing and promotion is the one thing everyone or brand needs constantly and no matter how many people or firms you hire to handle your PR, marketing or promo, nobody can hype you better than you can hype yourself. You are your best ambassador so at every given opportunity or chance always promote yourself like it is your last chance to do so. For an artiste the first step is making good music, it’s the number one magic requirement. Forget hype, marketing, promotion, having relationships etc if the music is not good it won’t amount to much over time. Making a great song is your first step in the door, your intro. Once you do that, it’s like a strong magnet, everything else is attracted to it. All the other bits and parts just fall in line to compliment great music. A lot of people will contest this and, I am not trying to say that promotions, marketing, branding, building relationships etc don’t have a hand in pushing/propelling an artiste but bluntly put, if you make a great song, it magnetizes other things around it and makes everything else a tad easier. If you have a weak/wack song, no amount of marketing or relationships will attract the public towards the song. In the short run maybe, but long term it will die an unnatural death and radio/airplays will fizzle out even before it begun.

Relationships & marketing might help put your song in the spotlight or in front of an audience, but no amount of finances or funding will keep an audience interested for long if the song isn’t good enough.

As an artiste, there will be a lot of obstacles in your path but determination, perseverance, confidence in your abilities and believing in yourself will always go a long way. So before you approach anyone to listen to your music or give you their opinion on your music or works, you have to bear three (3) things in mind.

1. do you want to really hear their honest opinion or do you want them to pretend?

2. If it’s not what you expected or not favourable will you accept it in good faith or would you call the person a hater?

3. Do you take criticism well? 

As a creative it’s one thing to create in your zone, but it takes guts to open yourself up to criticism from people you sometimes know, those you don’t know, have never met and some you will never even meet. You have to be prepared to take in whatever you get from people and be able to take what you need and discard those you don’t. Be discerning enough to know the opinions, views or pieces of advice given constructively and those given out of spite or a sense of entitlement. While some will genuinely wish you well and want to see you do great, some will be low key jealous or envious and will never want others to progress or succeed just because it isn’t them getting the accolades.

Ultimately never allow the opinions of others make you abandon your dreams or things you are passionate about. When you hear NO or sense dissent go back and repackage or rebrand or simply try another method or style but NEVER say never.

*TOCHUKWU YOUNG UMEZULIKE aka Toks Asher Young is a Nigerian celebrity talent manager and entertainment entrepreneur.He writes from his wealth of over 12years of experience in the Nigerian music industry. He specializes in nurturing and managing budding talents. An emerging Poet, He loves travelling, making friends, networking and building new connections. He is a staunch believer in Nigerian and African musical talents and fierce promoter of good music . He can be reached at riverside73@gmail.com

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Djibouti:The Republic is still waiting for its prodigal sons and daughters
December 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Kadar Abdi Ibrahim

“Nothing is more dangerous than authority in the hands of those who don’t know how to use it.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thoughts of a right mind.

One could not talk politics without understanding it. Practicing it has never been easy. Even less so in a country where an iron-fisted dictator reigns. Because, simply put, politics is contingent. Ever changing. Because leaders, whether real or fake, perpetually find themselves facing new situations that are, at least partly, unpredictable. Who would have imagined that Djibouti would find itself isolated in the Horn of Africa, amidst this upheaval where deep forces are at play? Clearly, it is unstable. Manifestly, cruel. Assuredly, incredulous.

Within this context, Djibouti cannot be run by men who lack strong convictions and who, from the outset, don’t have the stature of charismatic leaders, men who have been driven, in the “statepartisan-clan-like” structurization of current political life, to make arcane decisions for the nation. This is what the German Sociologist, Max Weber, described perfectly, using a German expression that has since become famous, “the rise of the BERUFSPOLITIKER OHNE BERUF”, illustrating the arrival of “professional politicians, with neither vocation, nor conviction,” in his founding work of modern sociology, “The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.”

This, in large part, explains the composition of Djibouti’s current government, in which it has become possible for people to take advantage of their situation, by virtue of their political control and impunity, each in their own way, with their own 15 minutes of fame. This also explains the composition of the National Assembly, where people are chosen based on their servility and obedience, in sum, their ability to not rankle the volition of those above. Finally, this explains that, for some, pedigree alone is enough to take on senior roles that are far above their level of competence.

This is why this country needs men that will take it out of its conventional paths, who are capable of shaking up established order to understand the reality of the conditions that surround them and to feel the corresponding impulses in a great moment of unity. In other words, men of character, instinct and unity.

All politicians provoke controversies. The demands on them are heterogenous. Some, tribal. Or communitarian. Others national or financial. The charismatic leader must incorporate them and transform them into a collective demand – a shared passion – embodying this as his identity. He will be, in empirical terms, the representation. Starting from there, a double vertical movement begins, which he must make endure: “From the represented to representation and from representation to the represented”. Unifying is he.

The little dictator entertains. He upholds splits and divisions. He ensures instability. His irresponsibility is too often glaring. Blocking anything time sensitive, he can’t stop wavering between projects, constantly being tugged this way or that. His signature, changing sides. The little dictator rules by tricks and by force. By lying and by falsehoods. Lacking a homogeneous perception of the population, he cannot reign over a population that grows larger and more diverse. Sectarian is he.

Effusion, the true leader doesn’t know it. Nor narcissistic fever. The same with ostentatious rewards. Controversy and its hype, he confronts them: “Difficulty attracts the man of character, because it is through his embrace of it that he fulfills his true potential,” Charles de Gaulle taught us in “War Memoirs.” In the face of events, the man of character leaves his trace. The leader navigates between dreams and reality. Between meticulous logic and sheer madness. Obeyed and followed is he.

The little dictator, lacking confidence, needs to surround himself by a press and a group of people who laud him, who devote themselves to his personality cult and who build his hagiography. With a desire to please, he grants them everything they want. His integrity. His honor. Unable to answer to his responsibilities, more often than not, he runs off. Taking risks is never his business. Nor taking initiatives. In the little that he undertakes, he mixes indecency and buffoonery. Through restlessness, he makes it appear to himself and to others that he has influence on events. Without prestige and without resiliency is he.

Instinct, a natural strength in a true leader, gives him illuminated judgements, the logical series of next steps to be taken. It precedes, as part of its conception, each decision. It is thanks to instinct that he firmly grasps the deep reality surrounding him. He senses everything. This intuition, which bestows command upon the leader, is it not what Gustave Flaubert talk about in “Salammbô,” when he described Hannibal as a teenager, already carrying the traces of “the indefinable splendour of those who are destined to great enterprises”? All the great men who have marked history are endowed with this. Is it not what Alexander the Great called, more commonly, “his hope”? Caesar, “his fortune”? Napoleon, “his star”?

The leader who is thus carried by these three (3) personal qualities: character, instinct and the ability to unify, has in his possession a certain voice quality. Words that are capable of moving, of carrying, of galvanizing and of convincing, not simply with rhetorical and communicational methods, as we often see on Facebook, but because through it we hear a voice lifted by the spirit, something that one can barely make out, only through the eyes of authenticity and the angle of conviction. Thus, does this voice not phenomenalize these three ferments and does it not produce persuasion ?

Until today, this country has only had little dictators, not applying themselves to prescribe what has not been prescribed by higher authority. As much in the majority, as in the opposition. With the exception of the rare personalities who never had the opportunity to do their work. Namely, the regrettable Ahmed Dini. In this vein, Raymond Aron, in his “Introduction to Weber,” summarizes in a striking formula the great distinctive traits of a leader in writing: “Man obeys leaders that custom sanctions, that reason shows, that enthusiasm lifts above all others.” In other words: tradition, rationality and charisma.

Over 41 years after our independence, the Republic is still waiting for its prodigal sons and daughters!

* Kadar Abdi Ibrahim is a freelance Journalist, former University Professor, human rights defender and currently Secretary General of the MoDeL party.

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UN, ECOWAS urge Liberians to Shelve Major Protest
December 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Brilliant Footballer but poor leader? President has so far failed to change the fortunes of Liberia since he got to power
Brilliant Footballer but poor leader? President has so far failed to change the fortunes of Liberia since he got to power

The United Nations and other West African countries urged Liberia on Friday to avoid a major protest rally planned for next week in the interest of Liberia as the impoverished country grapples with a deep economic crisis.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UN’s office in West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) sent a joint mission to Liberia this week to talk with President George Weah, who is under growing pressure over his handling of the crisis.

Opponents have called for an anti-government protest in the capital Monrovia on Monday.

However, ECOWAS and UNOWAS issued a joint statement exhorting “all parties to work towards calling off this imminent protest in the general interest of Liberia and the sub-region.”

After meeting the footballer-turned-president Weah and other ministers, the delegation said it “welcomes the general desire to call off the protest of December 30 if specific actions were taken in addressing some of the governance and economic issues which form the basis of the current tension in the country.”

Tensions have risen in recent weeks in the run-up to the protest, with the government accusing the opposition of calling for the “unconstitutional eviction” of Weah, who took office in January 2018.

The opposition, for its part, sees “nothing wrong” in calling for Weah’s resignation and has maintained its call for the rally to go ahead.

In their joint statement, ECOWAS and UNOWAS said they “acknowledge that the incumbent president is democratically elected and has a legitimate mandate of six years.”

While they recognised citizens’ right of assembly, they “reminded all stakeholders of their responsibility to maintain peace, security and stability of Liberia… and cautioned against any form of violence”.

Still traumatised by back-to-back civil wars and the 2014-2016 Ebola crisis, Liberia is struggling to revive its flailing economy.

Inflation is rampant, according to the World Bank, and civil servants regularly go unpaid.


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ECOWAS Deploys Election Observers for the Re-Run Presidential Election in Guinea Bissau, meets the Two Candidates
December 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

ECOWAS Election Observer Delegation with two candidates
ECOWAS Election Observer Delegation with two candidates

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has deployed seventy observers for the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission (ECOWAS-EOM) to the Re-Run Presidential Election in Guinea  Bissau.  

This  deployment  was  done  yesterday,  December  27,  2019  in  Bissau,  Guinea Bissau ahead of the December 29 Re-Run Presidential Election.

Dr.  Remi  Ajibewa,  Director  Political  Affairs  of  the  ECOWAS  Commission,  in  his  speech  at  the opening,  ,  expressed  the  commitment  of ECOWAS  to  accompany  Guinea  Bissau  through  the Presidential Elections in line with the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance of 2001.

While  thanking  the  Observers  for  sacrificing  their  holidays  with  families  for  this  important regional  assignment,  Gen.  Francis  Awagbe  Behanzin,  Commissioner  Political  Affairs,  Peace  and Security  of  the  ECOWAS  Commission, highlighted  that  ECOWAS  as  part  of  electoral  assistance programme to Member States deployed technical experts and financial support to Guinea Bissau.

Head  of  the  ECOWAS  Election  Observation  Mission  to  the  Guinea  Bissau  Re-Run  Presidential Election, H.E. Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Mali in his welcome  address  stressed  that  ECOWAS is  determined to  support  Guinea  Bissau  to  conduct  a credible, peaceful and transparent election.

Highlighting  the  achievements  of  the  Mission  in  the  First  Round  of  the  Presidential  Election, Prime Minister Maiga stressed that  the December 29 Re-Run Election is critical and the Observers are in Guinea Bissau to ensure that the election is conducted in a transparent, free and inclusive manner, which respects the standards of ECOWAS.

The  Head  of  ECOWAS  Election  Observation  Mission  also  paid  solidarity  visits  to  the  two candidates  in  the  Re-Run  Presidential  Election,  Domingos  Simoes  Pereira  of  the  PAIGC  and Embalo Sissoko of the MADEM-G15.

After  deliberations,  the  candidates  all  agreed  to  accept  the  outcome  of  the  election  peacefully and as the will of the people of Guinea Bissau.

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