Nigerian Philanthropist Tony Elumelu Donates $500,000 To Sierra Leone
August 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Mfonobong Nsehe *
Nigerian banker and philanthropist Tony Elumelu has donated $500,000 to Sierra Leone to help alleviate the suffering of people affected by flood and mudslide in the country.
Elumelu made the donation to Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma on Wednesday during a visit to the West African country. Along with former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Elumelu visited survivors at the Connaught Hospital, the principal adult referral hospital in Freetown, the country’s capital.
“I was deeply moved by what I witnessed today and have therefore donated $500,000 towards the rehabilitation & recovery efforts,” Elumelu said via his Twitter handle.
Elumelu called on other wealthy individuals and organizations around the world to support relief efforts in Sierra Leone. The Nigerian philanthropist also called the attention of international media to the Freetown floods and bemoaned the fact that the world’s major news organizations have not given significant media attention to the crisis.
“All lives whether on the African continent or elsewhere are the same and should attract the same media attention and human sympathy,” Elumelu said.
More than 3,000 people lost their homes in last week’s mudslide in Sierra Leone, which killed at least 499 people, with more than 600 still missing. There is still no precise figure on the total number of victims.
Three years ago, Elumelu donated about $300,000 towards Ebola containment and relief across Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
Elumelu, 54, is one of Africa’s most prominent business leaders and philanthropists. The author of Africapitalism, he is the chairman of United Bank for Africa, Transcorp Nigeria and Heirs Holdings, a proprietary investment firm. His Tony Elumelu Foundation is an African-based, African-funded philanthropic organization that supports entrepreneurship in Africa by enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector.
*Source Forbes. Mfonobong can be reached via email: mfon.nsehe@gmail. com
Power Africa Releases Annual Report
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Power Africa, a U.S. Government-led initiative to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, has released its annual report. The initiative consists of more than 150 public and private sector partners, which have collectively committed more than $54 billion towards achieving Power Africa’s goals. It is among the world’s largest public-private partnerships in development history.
The 2017 report highlights how Power Africa continues to lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth in Africa while creating opportunities for American businesses as it makes progress towards its goals of increasing installed generation capacity by 30,000 megawatts (MW) and adding 60 million new electricity connections by 2030.
Since its inception, Power Africa has facilitated the financial close of power transactions expected to generate more than 7,200 MW of power in sub-Saharan Africa. The 80 Power Africa transactions that have concluded financing agreements are valued at more than $14.5 billion, and Power Africa projects have generated more than $500 million in U.S. exports. In addition, Power Africa has facilitated more than 10 million electrical connections, which have brought electricity to more than 50 million people for the first time.
The report also highlights the role of women in Africa’s power sector, by chronicling the contributions of select members of Power Africa’s Women in African Power (WiAP) network. It includes an executive letter from the Honorable Irene Muloni, Minister for Energy and Minerals in Uganda, as well as profiles of women whose drive is strengthening Africa’s power sector.
Over the next year, Power Africa will work with more than 100 U.S. companies, African partners, other donors, and the private sector to harness the technology, ingenuity, and political will necessary to bring the benefits of modern energy to even remote parts of Africa while promoting economic growth. The initiative will also expand beyond its initial focus on solar lanterns and renewable energy to support more on-grid power projects in natural gas and other sources.
Philanthropists join forces to fund Africa’s cash-strapped health sector
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Billionaires Bill Gates, Aliko Dangote come together to fund health care projects
Some of the factors driving unhappiness are the poor state of the continent’s health care systems, the persistence of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and the growth of lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
Few African countries make significant investments in the health sector—the median cost of health care in sub-Saharan Africa is $109 per person per year, according to Gallup. Some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar and Niger, spend just half of that per person annually.
In 2010 only 23 countries were spending more than $44 per capita on health care, according to the World Health Organization. These countries got funding from several sources, including government, donors, employers, non-governmental organisations and households.
Private investment is now critical to meet the considerable shortfall in public-sector investment, say experts.
While many international organisations, such as UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross, continue to support Africa’s health care system, private entities and individuals are also increasingly making contributions. For example, Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote, and the world’s second richest person, Bill Gates, have formed a partnership to address some of Africa’s key health needs.
In 2014 the Nigerian-born cement magnate made global headlines after donating $1.2 billion to Dangote Foundation, which used the money to buy equipment to donate to hospitals in Nigeria and set up mobile clinics in Côte d’Ivoire.
A philanthropist himself, Mr. Gates wrote of Mr. Dangote in Time magazine: “I know him best as a leader constantly in search of ways to bridge the gap between private business and health.”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focuses, among other projects, on strengthening Africa’s health care resources. According to the Gates Foundation, as of May 2013 it had earmarked $9 billion to fight diseases in Africa over 15 years. In 2016 the foundation pledged to give an additional $5 billion over a five-year period, two-thirds to be used to fight HIV/AIDS on the continent.
While acknowledging the Gates’ generosity, locals noted that for many years the Foundation had invested in the oil companies that have contributed in making health outcomes extremely poor in some areas of Nigeria. These companies include Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total.
Facing a backlash, the Gates Foundation sold off some 87% of its investments in major coal, oil and gas companies, leaving approximately $200 million in these stocks as of 2016. Groups such as Leave It in the Ground, a non-profit organization advocating for a global moratorium on fossil exploration, are pushing for divestment.
“The link between saving lives, a lower birth rate and ending poverty was the most important early lesson Melinda and I learned about global health,” said Mr. Gates recently. The Gates Foundation supports reducing childhood mortality by supplying hospitals with necessary equipment and hiring qualified local practitioners to take care of patients and their children.
In 2016, the Dangote Foundation and the Gates Foundation formed a philanthropic dream team when they announced a $100 million plan to fight malnutrition in Nigeria. The new scheme will fund programmes to 2020 and beyond, using local groups in the northwest and northeast Nigeria. The northeast has for the past seven years been ravaged by the Boko Haram’s Islamic militant insurgency, affecting all health care projects in the region.
Malnutrition affects 11 million children in northern Nigeria alone, and Mr. Dangote said the partnership would address the problem.
The Foundations had already signed a deal to work together to foster immunization programmes in three northern states: Kaduna, Kano and Sokoto.
The Gates Foundation states on its website, “Contributions towards the costs of the program by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote Foundation, and state governments will be staggered across three years: 30% in year one, 50% in year two, and 70% in year three, with the respective states taking progressive responsibility for financing immunization services.”
The future of about 44% of Nigeria’s 170 million people would be “greatly damaged if we don’t solve malnutrition,” said Mr. Gates, at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Despite the many international and local efforts, cultural and religious factors often impede efforts to address Africa’s weak health infrastructure. For example, in 2007, religious leaders in northern Nigeria organized against aid workers administering polio vaccinations after rumours started circulating that the vaccines were adulterated and would cause infertility and HIV/AIDS.
In 2014, during the Ebola crisis, villagers chased and stoned Red Cross workers in Womey village in Guinea, accusing them of bringing “a strange disease”.
The big players may be Mr. Dangote and Mr. Gates, but others less well known are also making important contributions to Africa’s health care. After the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, for example, which resulted in the loss of about 11,300 lives, private companies in the three most affected countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—partnered with the government to fight the virus.
The Sierra Leone Brewery, for example, helped in constructing facilities for Ebola treatment. Individuals, such as Patrick Lansana, a Sierra Leonean communications expert, also volunteered their services for the Ebola fight. He said: “I joined the fight against Ebola because I wanted to help my country. My efforts, and those of others, made a difference. It would have been difficult for the government and international partners to combat the virus alone.”
Private and public sectors need to collaborate to help Africa’s health care system from collapse, notes a report by UK-based PricewaterHouseCoopers consultancy firm. The report states that public-private partnerships, or PPPs, when fully synergised can bring about quality health care. Under a PPP in the health sector, for example, a government can contribute by providing the health care infrastructure, while private entities can be involved in the operations.
In a widely published joint opinion piece last April, Mr. Dangote and Mr. Gates stated that improving health care in Africa depends on a “successful partnership between government, communities, religious and business leaders, volunteers, and NGOs. This ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction.”
*Culled from Africa Renewal
Africa on the road to industrial progress-Li Yong
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
As the director general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Li Yong leads a specialised agency that promotes industrial development, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability. Recently in New York, Mr. Yong took part in a special meeting on “innovation in infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization” in developing countries and countries with special needs. He spoke with Africa Renewal’s Kingsley Ighobor on a range of issues pertaining to Africa’s industrialization. Here are the excerpts:
Africa Renewal: You are attending a meeting on industrialization in developing countries, which includes many African countries. How does Africa fit in the picture?
Li Yong: The ECOSOC [UN’s Economic and Social Council] meeting is important because of SDG 9, which calls for inclusive sustainable industrialization, innovation and infrastructure. Africa has to compete within the global value chain, the manufacturing value addition and with the growth and speed of other regions. Two-thirds of the least developed countries are in Africa. Due to underdevelopment of the industrial sector, some countries are not growing fast enough.
What are the factors hindering Africa’s industrialization?
The sudden drop in commodity prices caused problems because it lowered the competitiveness of commodities-dependent countries.
But commodity prices dropped only recently.
No, not just recently. Let’s say this has been the case throughout the last century. But let me talk about factors hindering industrialization. Long ago the international development institutions wrongly prescribed deindustrialization for some countries. An ambassador of an African country actually told me that the very painful process of deindustrialization forced them to stop exporting cheese, cocoa beans and other products. Another reason is that countries change policies too often. Insecurity occasioned by frequent changes of policies scares away investors and disrupts the industrialization process.
Were the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) of the 1980s a wrong prescription?
I do not want to talk about that because I was involved in the whole process of structural adjustment lending when I was working at the World Bank. I would just say that some of the prescriptions provided to African countries were not very good.
Critics say meetings such as the one you are attending are all talk but no action. What’s your take on this?
I think that sometimes if there’s too much talk, too much debate on the theories, on the reports and studies, action is lost. Just do it! If it’s creating jobs, let’s go for it.
UNIDO’s Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) aims to mobilise private and public sector resources for industrialisation and to provide technical assistance to countries. How is that going?
It’s an innovative way to support a country’s industrial development. We collaborate with governments and development institutions to create industrial development strategies, and we support such strategies. Usually there is a financing issue: the government needs to allocate resources to basic infrastructure. But development institutions also need to provide supplementary financing for infrastructure such as roads, highways, railroads, electricity, water supply, etc. We advise governments to formulate policies that protect investments that will trigger private-sector financing and FDI [foreign direct investment].
You were heavily involved in the development of agricultural and small and medium-size enterprises in China. What lessons can Africa learn from China?
There must be a vision and a strategy. Develop policies that support small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture sector, to begin with. In China, the number one document released at the beginning of the year was a plan to support agriculture development. Second, take concrete measures. We cannot talk about empty themes. Third, support with financial resources, capacity building and training. Fourth, provide an environment for SMEs to thrive. Lastly, link the agricultural sector to agro-industry, agribusiness and manufacturing.
Not long ago, a World Bank report stated that Africa’s agribusiness could be worth $1 trillion by 2030. Could agribusiness be a game changer for the continent?
Yes, although I wouldn’t say that the $1 trillion figure is exactly accurate. But agriculture is a very important sector for Africa. The job creation element in the sector requires innovation. If you try to grow wheat, corn, fruits, etc without connecting to agro-processing food packaging and the global value chain, there is very little opportunity for job creation. Some people argue that if you introduce modern technology, some farmers may lose jobs. I don’t accept this argument because farming services connect to the market. With agro-processing, farmers have more time and capacity to do things beyond planting and growing crops.
The goal of the African Agribusiness and Africa Development Initiative, which UNIDO supports, is to link farmers to big markets. But African farmers cannot compete in the global marketplace because many Western governments subsidize farming. What’s your take?
Africa can be innovative about this. For instance, cocoa-producing African countries that used to export cocoa beans are currently producing some chocolate products locally. In Ghana, a private company is producing cocoa butter, cocoa oil and cocoa cake for domestic consumption. And UNIDO supported them with a laboratory, equipment and technicians to enable them to receive certifications to export to Europe and Asia. Consider Ethiopia, with 95 million people and millions of cattle and sheep and cows. But they only export around 7% of their live cattle to other countries because they don’t have processing capacity. They don’t have the standard certifications for export, although the quality of meat is excellent. Currently we are supporting Ethiopia to set up a project for testing so that they meet the criteria for exporting to other countries. Actually, African agriculture can connect to the global value chain.
Countries may set up agro-industries in areas where they have a competitive advantage, but the lack of technical skills and inadequate infrastructure, particularly roads and electricity, is still an issue.
We have the traditional toolboxes, including vocational training. Capacity training is a very popular UNIDO programme. With donor support, we develop training programmes like we did in Tunisia and Ethiopia, where young engineers received training in how to operate big equipment. The second example is that countries need large-scale agro-processing projects. For instance, Ethiopia developed hundreds of industrial parks that are helping develop the capacity to manufacture many more products.
Most foreign investors target Africa’s extractive sector, which generates few jobs. How do you encourage investments in the agriculture sector?
The best approach for Africa is not to say, “Don’t export raw materials.” Look at Australia and other countries that still export raw materials. They did their cost-benefits analysis and decided not to set up manufacturing companies. What is needed is market discipline. But this doesn’t mean that all countries must export raw materials. If they have the capacity, if there are foreign investors that come in to build factories and create jobs, why not?
Sustainable industrialization produces long-term results, I believe. Countries grappling with poverty need resources immediately. Such countries cannot slow down their unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.
I believe we should have industrial development in an inclusive, sustainable way. If we manufacture goods with a heavy pollution of water, soil or air, there’s a cost to people’s health. Think about what it will cost to address those pollutions in the future. At UNIDO, we do not approve projects for implementation unless they meet our environmental standards.
Are African leaders receptive to your ideas?
Most leaders I’ve met request UNIDO’s support. Except for countries in difficult situations such as those in conflicts, others need to show a strong commitment to industrialization.
Are you seeing such commitments?
Yes, in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia—many leaders are showing a commitment. The new Nigerian president is committed to industrialization. However, countries in conflict, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC], may have difficulties industrializing. The DRC has many resources, including gold and oil. They have a vast land—you can grow anything there—and a huge population. But internal conflict is slowing industrialization. Yet a peaceful Rwanda is moving very fast with industrialization. So it depends on a country’s situation, the commitments of its leadership and the efficiency of its administrative systems.
How do you see Africa in about 10 years?
Many countries will move up the socioeconomic ladder and become middle-income countries. There will be more industries to manufacture goods and create jobs. I think it’s possible. The global community is ready to support Africa. Most importantly, African countries are committed to industrial progress and economic growth.
*Culled from Africa Renewal
Partnerships at work in Africa
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
The construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal in Ghana to support power generation in the Kpone Power Enclave in the port city of Tema, near Accra, is reawakening hopes of an end to the energy crisis that has plagued the country in recent years.
Power outages have led to a rationing schedule that involves cutting power for 24 hours every two days. Businesses have been forced to connect standby power sources such as generators, incurring extra costs. Some have had to lay off workers.
The $600 million project, being implemented under a public-private partnership (PPP) between Quantum Power Ghana Gas and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, is expected to provide the West African nation with a reliable and efficient power supply.
The plant will add about 220 megawatts of electricity to Ghana’s national grid. The country now has 2,900 megawatts of generation capacity, not enough to meet the growing demand, which the National Energy Policy of 2010 estimated would be about 5,000 megawatts by 2016.
“We hope the project will address the dumsor once and for all,” says Nancy Osabutey, a resident of Accra. Dumsor (“on-off”) is a Ghanaian term commonly used to describe the erratic power availability in the country.
A recent report by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, a Ghanaian-based think tank, estimates that the economy has lost $24 billion as a result of the energy crisis since 2010.
Like many African countries, Ghana is facing an infrastructure financing gap. Policy makers are starting to realise that PPPs can help fill such gaps.
“Africa has been growing over the last few years. It will be challenging to achieve economic growth without addressing the huge infrastructure financing and access gap in energy generation and transmission, roads and ports,” says Tilahun Temesgen, the chief regional economist at the Eastern Africa Resource Centre of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The AfDB maintains that the continent needs about $100 billion per year for infrastructure investment, yet the total spending on infrastructure by African countries is just about half that, leaving a financing gap of about $50 billion.
“This difference should come from somewhere. Tapping into private-sector investment by unleashing the potential of PPPs is one innovative way of attracting financing for infrastructure in Africa, as this has a very high development and poverty reduction impact in Africa,” states Mr. Temesgen.
He adds, “Governments and development partners cannot fully close the current huge infrastructure financing gap. It is therefore vital to mobilise private-sector financing to support infrastructure developments.”
Private-sector financing is succeeding in different parts of the continent, just as it soon may in Ghana through the Kpone power plant.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the Henri Konan Bédié bridge in the capital, Abidjan, is considered one of the most successful PPP-funded projects in the post-conflict country.
The $265 million bridge, opened in 2014, connects two of Abidjan’s major districts—Riviera in the north and Marcory in the south—and has done away with over 10 kilometres of traffic congestion. About a hundred thousand vehicles use the bridge each day.
“This facility enables us to enjoy the benefits of better traffic conditions. We now take less time in traffic, meaning more time for productivity at work. A while ago we would spend more than three hours in traffic,” says Abraham Kone, a resident of Abidjan.
The bridge has also opened up the neighbouring hinterland, simplifying freight transportation to the Port of Abidjan, the largest port on Africa’s west coast.
Public-private partnership is also diversifying the country’s energy sector. The expansion of the Azito thermal energy plant involving the construction of two 144-megawatt power plants will save $4 million in energy costs each year and will enable Côte d’Ivoire to move from being a net importer of electricity to being a net exporter.
With the expansion, the energy plant, located six kilometres west of the port of Abidjan, is producing over 30% of electricity generated in Côte d’Ivoire, with some of it going to neighbouring countries, including Ghana.
Partnering with the private sector to promote sustainable development is something the government is talking a lot about.
According to Albert Toikeusse Mabri Abdallah, the Ivorian minister for planning and development, “Public-private partnership is in line with Côte d’Ivoire’s National Development Plan, which outlines building and renovating the country’s infrastructure to accelerate development.” The minister adds that “such collaboration will also ensure job creation and poverty alleviation.”
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envisage that PPPs can promote sustainable development in Africa. A key priority of the UN-founded SDG Fund is to bring together public and private entities to jointly address development challenges.
However, many African countries, according to an AfDB report, are still in the initial stages of PPP implementation “because their use of PPP schemes is still uncommon and PPPs are complex to implement.”
The report indicates that PPPs have historically been scarcer in sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the world. Telecoms transactions account form the bulk of PPPs on the continent, but energy PPPs have recently started growing significantly.
“PPPs are not easy. They need a number of issues to be successful. Above all, a stable macroeconomic environment is necessary,” explains Mr. Temesgen.
However, an environment characterised by inadequate regulatory frameworks, unclear rules and procedures and lack of political commitment inhibits growth of PPPs.
Uganda is one of the countries with a solid PPP programme. According to the AfDB document, this is the result of many factors, including support from the presidency and the ministry of finance, an earlier successful privatisation programme and a well-designed framework.
At a meeting in South Korea last November, Ajedra Gabriel Gadison Aridru, Uganda’s state minister for finance, planning and economic development, cited the PPP Act enacted in 2015 as a major enabler of the country’s PPPs. The law spells out the specific engagements of private partners in such partnerships. It also regulates the roles and responsibilities of government bodies during the development and implementation of PPP projects.
Concerns have been raised about severe environmental hazards following PPPs. Ghana Gas Company, for example, has been accused of failing to act as areas such as Atuabo, in western Ghana, continue to suffer the effects of oil and gas exploration that have led to widespread air and water pollution.
Because of concerns like this, governments are being urged to disclose information on risk assessments, including potential environmental and social impacts, of such mega-projects. Institutions such as the Bretton Woods Project would like to see more informed consultations, broader civil society involvement and closer monitoring of PPPs by all stakeholders.
*culled from Africa Renewal
Stanford Graduate School of Business Launches Two Educational Opportunities to Empower Youth and Entrepreneurs in Southern Africa
August 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
|Silicon Valley-based university continues to expand global program offerings with new partnership with De Beers Group|
|STANFORD, California, August 18, 2017/ — Stanford Graduate School of Business(www.GSB.stanford.edu) (Stanford GSB) today announced a USD $3 million, three-year partnership with De Beers Group to empower young, budding entrepreneurs and owners of established businesses in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa through two new educational programs launching in 2018.
Stanford is expanding two of its successful programs to Southern Africa: the Seed Transformation Program of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, known as Stanford Seed(www.GSB.stanford.edu/seed), and the Stanford Go-to-Market(www.GSB.stanford.edu/programs/stanford-gotomarket-botswana) program for accelerating business ventures to market.
The two programs are:
These new programs exemplify Stanford GSB’s commitment to creating lasting global impact by bringing the Stanford experience to new regions, engaging promising business leaders globally, transferring knowledge, and building relationships. Through these new programs, Stanford GSB has an opportunity to share insights through hands-on management education for students, while also gaining a better understanding of the business climate and unique economic attributes of Southern Africa.
“We are excited to work with the young and established entrepreneurs in the Southern African region. As with our experiences in East and West Africa, we are coming to learn as much as we are to teach,” said Jesper Sørensen, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford GSB and faculty director of Stanford Seed, a Stanford University initiative led by the Stanford GSB. “If the business and job growth that follows matches what we are seeing in our other locations, I anticipate this collaboration will be a very impactful initiative.”
The Seed Transformation Program launched in West Africa in 2013 and expanded to East Africa in 2016, and will open a third location in India later this month. Faculty, staff, and coaches have trained more than 500 business leaders with the goal of promoting prosperity in these regions.
Both the Seed Transformation Program and Stanford Go-to-Market program will be headquartered at the Botswana Innovation Hub, a science and technology park in Gaborone, Botswana. The initiative will be supported by a range of government entities in Botswana, including the Botswana Innovation Hub, the Botswana Ministry of Tertiary Education, and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport & Culture Development.
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University is known for its entrepreneurial spirit and leadership in research and learning. Stanford’s faculty and students work to improve the health and wellbeing of people around the world through the discovery and application of knowledge. Breakthroughs at Stanford include the first successful heart-lung transplant, the debut of the computer mouse, and the development of digital music. Stanford’s areas of excellence span a wide range of fields across seven schools, including the Stanford GSB.
Reflections on Sierra Leone’s mudslide disaster
August 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
This week Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown experienced a devastating mudslide and flooding that claimed over 400 lives. Dozens are still missing presumed dead. Sierra Leonean journalist and Freetown resident Umaru Fofana reflects on the disaster.
On Monday 14 August, shortly after 08:00 (08:00 GMT), I could still hear the patter of heavy rain that had been falling all through the night.
Shaking off that post-weekend feeling, I stood outside my house as I often do when it rains heavily.
I live just a few metres outside Freetown’s largest slum, Kroo Bay.
There, whenever it rains, every room experiences flooding complete with red tropical mud and rubbish. One of the largest drains in town, Samba Gutter, simply empties itself into the community.
Ironically when it is not raining they struggle for water. Five water pumps serve a community of nearly 15,000 people.
On this day the rain was so heavy that the accompanying fog had enveloped the bay.
My phone rang. A foreign diplomat was on the line. He wanted to check some information he had received.
“Has there been a mudslide or flooding around Regent?” he asked.
I smiled wryly not in disbelief but because I was not surprised.
“It happens almost every year,” I retorted. “But I hear this one is very serious,” he insisted.
I promised I would find out and get back to him.
Minutes later, my phones went into overdrive: some callers wanted to confirm the “rumours”, others simply to pass on information.
I spent 10 minutes calling the Office of National Security which coordinates, or should coordinate, disaster responses.
After a few tries someone answered. He confirmed that there had indeed been a mudslide and flooding, but could not give me further details as he had just received the news.
I alerted London and set off towards the scene.
Like most of Freetown, Regent is a mountainous village; the Portuguese explorers who named Sierra Leone derived its name from the mountains: Sera Lyoa – meaning “Lion Mountain”.
What in the past used to be lush green vegetation has given way to massive houses belonging to the nouveau riche.
As I approached Regent I saw a massive red opening, part of what is a very green mountain. A huge chunk of Mount Sugar Loaf had caved in.
I was shocked at seeing the way part of the mountain had peeled away. At that moment the number of casualties was not clear.
When I arrived at the scene I could see the houses had disappeared, completely submerged by the mountain rug of red earth that had descended.
Residents, believed to number between 600 and 1,000, lay buried beneath the mudslide.
This is when the magnitude of the disaster dawned on me.
The calls kept coming. Now people were telling me about the flash floods that had been partly caused by the collapse of the mountain.
Huge boulders had created a massive channel that had widened the waterway, sweeping away homes in its path. It was ferocious.
Seven hours after the mudslide, there was no significant response on sight.
Young men in the neighbourhood were busy digging with their bare hands, desperately hoping to find people alive. But given the sheer weight of the mud their attempts appeared futile.
Ambulances left by the Ebola response teams of two years ago arrived a few hours later. But that was all there was.
The heavy-lifting machinery and equipment needed were nowhere to be seen. Just like in 2013 when the colonial-era King Jimmy Bridge caved in and killed many, construction companies had to be called upon to provide excavators.
On Monday night, President Ernest Bai Koroma addressed the nation. He sounded emotional, clearly touched by the events.
But could this have been avoided? Many have referred to this disaster as man-made.
Most of Freetown’s forest cover, which used to capture the rainfall, has been tampered with. The construction of houses is poorly regulated, and town planning is virtually non-existent.
They system of buying land is chaotic and often fraudulent.
This was clearly a disaster waiting to happen, which is why many were surprised that no-one has been held accountable.
If you hurt the environment, the environment will definitely fight back. It is that simple.
Sierra Leone has had more than its fair share of challenges in recent times.
From a civil war that killed and maimed thousands, to an Ebola outbreak that debilitated the nation, making fear the order of the day.
And just when we thought we could move on, this happened.
Ebola obviously wreaked havoc on my country. So did the war.
During the orgy of killings by the rebels that reached its crescendo on 6 January 1991, corpses were strewn on the streets of Freetown. The central mortuary was overwhelmed.
But nothing comes anywhere close in comparison to this week. Almost 400 corpses were spread on the floor, estimated Dr Owiz Koroma, the country’s sole pathologist.
To me as a journalist, in a country with huge mineral resources and wonderful people, I have not seen the positive side of that mineral wealth or its impact on the poor.
Whenever I travel abroad the questions I am asked revolve around the mayhem that my country has come to be associated with.
I keep going because I feel I need to be an uncompromising voice that sides with the people and gives them a platform to hold their leaders accountable.
But the impact of this disaster on me has been massive. I will never forget the scenes both inside and outside the central mortuary on that day.
Inside, hundreds of bodies lay on the bare floor, decomposing. Outside dozens of family members waiting to go in and identify their loved ones.
The outpouring of emotions by these bewildered, distraught relatives was heart wrenching.
Alpha wept uncontrollably and could not even talk. He had lost his mother.
A middle-aged wailed inconsolably. She kept calling out to Adama to “come back” and sang in lament questioning God, asking why He had taken Adama away.
Dozens of people still lie under the mud.
A man who was going to get married in four days time was among the dead.
So were six kids who went to study at the home of the star pupil in their class.
A senior Sierra Leonean military officer who had just returned home from a UN peacekeeping assignment also perished.
What is more, the rainy season has not even reached its peak.
Every year we get to see floods destroying lives and property.
But it is always the same attitude from the leaders. They seem to prefer putting out fires instead of preventing them.
Mass burial for Sierra Leone mudslide victims
August 18, 2017 | 0 Comments
A mass burial for about 300 people killed by a mudslide and flooding has taken place on the outskirts of the capital Freetown.
President Ernest Bai Koroma attended a multi-faith memorial service at the burial site in the city of Waterloo.
Some 600 people are still thought to be missing while more than 400 people are known to have died.
About 3,000 people are homeless in what is being described as a humanitarian emergency.
There is also growing concern about the risk to public health from water-borne diseases.
Mortuaries have been overwhelmed by the number of bodies they have received – more than 100 of them are children.
Freetown’s chief pathologist, Dr Simeon Owizz Koroma, said those buried were people who had been identified or whose bodies were badly decomposed.
Mr Koroma told the BBC that the number of bodies he had certified was “approaching the 350 marker. But we’re still expecting more coming, yes…. up to a month or two months, and I believe some are buried with the collapse of masonry, buildings”.
The mass grave in Waterloo is known as the Ebola cemetery after the 2014 disease outbreak, which killed nearly 4,000 people in the country.
Homes in the hilltop community of Regent were covered after part of Sugar Loaf mountain collapsed following heavy rain early on Monday. Many victims were asleep in bed when disaster struck.
Bereaved families have been gathering outside the mortuaries – some carrying pictures of their relatives – in the hope of identifying their lost loved ones.
Sorrie Koroma is searching for his missing 12-year-old daughter, along with his sister and her five children who were staying with them for the school holidays. “I need to see my daughter’s body just so my life can continue,” he told the BBC.
President Koroma, who has visited the stricken area, said “entire communities have been wiped out” and called on the international community to provide “urgent support”.
Sierra Leone began a week of mourning on Wednesday.
The EU has pledged 300,000 euros (£270,000), and Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela of the European Commission said the money would go to humanitarian organisations to ensure it reached those most in need.
The Red Cross has warned it is a race against time to find survivors. The search is taking place using diggers and makeshift tools.
Flooding is not unusual in Sierra Leone, where unsafe housing in makeshift settlements can be swept away by heavy rains.
The rains often hit areas in and around Freetown, an overcrowded coastal city of more than one million people.
The Africa Travel Association to host the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Rwanda this month
August 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
How AfDB’s investments in youth raise hope for a new Africa
August 13, 2017 | 0 Comments
“The future of Africa’s youth does not lie in migration to Europe; it should not be at the bottom of the Mediterranean; it lies in a prosperous Africa. We must create greater economic opportunities for our youth right at home in Africa.” – Akinwumi Adesina to G7 leaders
Sixty per cent of unemployed people are young women and men. Of the young people who are employed, many are trapped in low-productivity work in the informal sector. Providing young African people with the education, skills and capacities for gainful employment is considered an urgent priority.
Thanks to the African Development Bank (AfDB), a new crop of highly inspired young Africans are gradually emerging. AfDB’s initiatives in this area are seen as model of how the continent’s young population could become a development asset for a new Africa.
To enable them contribute to the economy and to achieve an improved quality of life, a growing number of youths are embracing small, medium and large agriculture-based industries nudged on by the AfDB.
They are taking hold of their destiny. They can be also found in education, health, ICT and other facets of entrepreneurship.
Indeed, latest statistics reveal that many young Africans are not only exploring their inner potential, they are taking advantage of innovation platforms, inspired by the African Development Bank.
Through initiatives like the Jobs for Youth in Africa (JfYA), Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth, and the African Youth Agripreneurs Forum (AYAF), the AfDB is equipping young people with the right skills for business and employment. AfDB has also strengthened its support for science, technology and innovation training by investing in centres of excellence, working in collaboration with the private sector.
With 200 million Africans recorded to be between the ages of 15 and 29, youth unemployment and underemployment are high. Investing in skills through technical and vocational education will be essential to enabling young people to find jobs and business opportunities.
“We will keep Africa’s youth in Africa by expanding economic opportunities. This will help Africa to turn its demographic asset into an economic dividend,” Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, said.
At the African Union Summit in January, the African Union (AU) adopted the theme for 2017 as “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth.”
AU Heads of States and Governments recognized a country-level demographic dividend as central to the continent’s economic transformation in the context of AU Agenda 2063 – its global strategy for socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years.
Given Africa’s current demographic structure with a high youthful population, the regional body sees a substantial potential for economic transformation.
According to the AU Roadmap on Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth, “Africa is on the march towards a more prosperous future in which all its citizens, young, old, male, female, rural, urban, of all creeds and backgrounds are empowered to realize their full potential, live with satisfaction and pride about their continent.”
AfDB is showing that this is doable and is already leading the way.
For instance, through its Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative, AfDB has taken a comprehensive and integrated approach to equipping young people for work and enterprise.
Over the next decade, Jobs for Youth in Africa projects to generate 25 million jobs and impact 50 million youths.
In the agriculture sector, the AfDB is focusing on Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth programs, developing small and medium enterprises and creating jobs in agriculture. ENABLE Youth is a programme for young African people (18-35 years old) wanting to start a business in the agricultural sector. It works to promote, enhance, and modernize agricultural entrepreneurship in Africa.
The stories from the ENABLE Youth participants are resounding.
In Uganda (the second largest producer of bananas in the world), Sam Turyatunga saw an opportunity in producing his own brand of banana juice. As a college student, Sam produced the juice in his own dormitory. Supported by AfDB, Turyatunga now produces 1,500 litres of banana juice daily and sells its product in three other countries in East Africa. His firm also supports 500 banana farmers.
At the African University of Science and Technology in Abuja, Nigeria, young scientists and researchers are being trained to enhance industrial innovation, competitiveness and sustainable development across the continent.
“We are integrating a youth employment component into new Bank projects, and are working closely with regional member countries to develop policies that promote youth employment,” said Adesina.
The Bank believes that harnessing the labour, energy and enterprise of young women and men is critical to driving economic growth and reducing poverty.
In line with its Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, the Bank is integrating a youth employment component into the design of every operation it undertakes.
The Bank is assisting its regional member countries to develop national youth employment policies, supporting innovative work on best practices to help young people become entrepreneurs, and making investments that catalyze the private sector to increase employment opportunities.
There is a consensus that the 2017 theme on Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth, has the potential to have far-reaching implications that would address all the key issues that Governments have had to contend with, and change the development trajectory of Africa.
“We must create wealth and restore happiness to our nation. We can only do this when we have an educated and skilled population that is capable of competing in the global economy. We must expand our horizons and embrace science and technology as critical tools for our development,” said Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana.
“The good economic prospects of our country must first profit our youth, because they are our greatest strength and our greatest wealth,” said Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d’Ivoire.
AfDB’s leadership in this area is considered a viable example, which countries can tap into.
Africa: A.P. Moller Holding launches new infrastructure fund with a focus on Africa
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
|The new fund will focus on investments in infrastructure in Africa to support sustainable economic growth in the region while delivering an attractive return to its investors|
|COPENHAGEN, Denmark, August 10, 2017/ — A.P. Moller Holding (www.APMoller.com) has together with PKA, PensionDanmark and Lægernes Pension launched a new infrastructure fund with a focus on Africa. The fund has received commitments of USD 550 million from anchor investors.
The new fund will focus on investments in infrastructure in Africa to support sustainable economic growth in the region while delivering an attractive return to its investors.
The fund will be managed by A.P. Moller Capital, which is an affiliate of A.P. Moller Holding, and consists of a team lead by four partners, Kim Fejfer, Lars Reno Jakobsen, Jens Thomassen and Joe Nicklaus Nielsen. The partners all have extensive industrial and investment experience combined with a substantial network in Africa.
“We are very pleased with the significant support from the Danish pension funds and A.P. Moller Holding. Together, we will build and operate infrastructure business in Africa to support sustainable development and improvements in living standards across the continent. We will combine the best from industry in terms of project management and operational capabilities with the best from private equity in terms of agility and focus,” says Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner and CEO of A.P. Moller Capital.
“A.P. Moller Holding was established to build value creating businesses that have a positive impact on society. Africa, with a working-age population likely to reach more than one billion people in the next decades, has a pressing requirement for more investments in infrastructure. In this respect, we are delighted to have established a new promising company in our portfolio with a strong team, who hold the right capabilities and experience to manage infrastructure investments in emerging markets,” says Robert Mærsk Uggla, CEO of A.P. Moller Holding.
The fund has a duration of 10 years and has an initial target of 10 to 15 investments in total.
Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO at PKA: “PKA has for many years invested in infrastructure both in Denmark and abroad. We have positive experiences investing in Africa and we have for a long time wanted to invest more on the continent. With this new fund we will be making infrastructure investments in Africa and get the opportunity to provide a good return to the pension savers and at the same time make a positive difference in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.
Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO PensionDanmark: “We are delighted to be among the seed investors in Africa Infrastructure Fund I. We see this as a unique opportunity to invest in a region with high economic growth and attractive investment opportunities alongside a partner, A. P. Moller Capital, that has extensive investment experience combined with a strong network and a promising pipeline of potential investment projects. The fund is a good example of how private capital can be mobilized on large scale to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”.
Chresten Dengsøe, CEO at Lægernes Pension: “Lægernes Pension are delighted to invest in the development of sustainable infrastructure in Africa together with similar-minded Danish pension funds. The team has many years of experience and a proven track record in the region and we expect them to provide attractive investment opportunities going forward”.
Following first commitments, the fund will be open for additional institutional investors for the next 12 months. The ambition is to raise USD 1bn in commitments.
AFRICA’S SKYROCKETING UNEMPLOYMENT: WHO IS TO BLAME, THE UNIVERSITIES OR THE STATES?
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Moses Hategeka
A few years back, I wrote an article titled, “Universities/Varsity Curricula Must be Practical” that was published in, The Herald, Zimbabwe’s most popular and biggest Newspaper, and was as well republished in various other Newspapers and Magazines in other African countries.
In that article, I argued that, theory based and powered curricula as administered in most African universities, cannot spur a critical mass of skilled graduates needed to transform African economies and called, for its total overhaul.
In the same article, I called upon, African governments to step up funding to their universities and compel them to overhaul cramming based learning and adopt research powered learning.
Research powered learning especially in the experimental sciences curricula, makes students, to gain knowledge of producing inventions, innovations, and ground breaking technologies, which if backed by supportive conducive governments’ policies, can be a catalyst, in spurring industrial and entrepreneurial development in African countries. It also enables the students from social sciences and humanities field, to gain interdisciplinary knowledge, that in turn makes them, critical thinkers, capable of objectively analyzing public policies and other issues at hand, and provide remedies where inadequacies exists.
Africa’s skyrocketing unemployment problem, especially youth unemployment that is affecting millions of youth on the continent, is a manifestation, of the failure of governments and universities, to harmonize their visions, into one complimentary vision of finding solutions to the challenges facing the continent.
Universities are supposed to be the center of knowledge production and dissemination where learners are equipped with relevant knowledge and skills that makes them capable of solving societal problems and meeting societal needs. Are African universities serving this purpose fully?
Globally, research is a chief driver of new knowledge and innovation crucial for spurring sustainable industrial and entrepreneurial development, but how much of the research have African universities done or are doing that have translated or are translating into industrial commercial usable products? Why is it that, African industries are majorly powered by imported technologies despite the fact that we have engineering and technology faculties at our universities?
In the medical field, why is that all the health complications that requires specialized surgeries are mainly done outside Africa with those unable to afford it dying miserably despite us having medical schools/faculties at our universities? Still in medical sector, why is that the few molecular biologists in our countries are unable to use computerized technologies to read and analyze the genomes of viruses and only do so after being subjected to re-training by experts trained from abroad?
African governments are supposed to apportion a good percentage of their national budgets for research development, if research, is to result into implementable policies and industrial usable products. But wait a minute! Looking at countries’ national Budgets, how much money percentage wise does African countries allocate to their institutions for research development?
Governments are also supposed to create robust favorable environment and opportunities for its employable citizens not only at national level, but also at international level, by incorporating in their foreign policies and international relations, the issue of systematically and legally transporting their employable labor to other countries where it is needed through bilateral relations, like what Cuba, Russia, China, and India have done and are doing. What are African countries doing in this regard?
For example, on realizing that, it cannot employ, all its trained Doctors, Cuba, decided to integrate medicine as a fundamental element in its foreign policy and international relations, as thus, eighty percent of Doctors and health professionals in Venezuela, are Cubans, send there by the Cuban government, on bilateral arrangement with Venezuelan government, where by Cuba, supplies medical workers in return for oil and gas supplies from Venezuelan government. Cuba also has hundreds of Doctors working on bilateral arrangement in other Latin American and African countries. Russia, India, and China, who produces, highest number of technology specialists and professionals in life and experimental sciences also does the same.
To the Chinese government, where there is Chinese capital and trade, there should be Chinese labor. Many people keep on wondering, why there is large presence of Chinese engineers, technicians, and traders, especially allover in African countries and other developing nations, forgetting that, transportation of labor to foreign countries, is a cardinal part of Chinese foreign policy and international relations. In fact, all the major infrastructural development projects in Africa, like major road high ways, Dams, buildings and industries construction, have been and are being executed by Chinese supported companies and labor
To overcome, the waves of rural- urban migration tied unemployment, and curb horrible unemployment figures among its science and technology specialists, the Chinese government, developed an economic diversification policy aligned, to urbanization, industrialization, and transformation of rural locations, into production centers, which involved relocating major industries from already congested industrial centers to rural areas, thus expanding industrial base and creating new towns and employment in the process, Wuxi and Nantong for example, owe their transformation from rural to major industrial centers to this policy.
In sum, universities’ curricula must be research derived and interdisciplinary powered, for the graduates to translate the acquired knowledge and skills, into industrial usable products and attaining critical thinking skills, capable of finding solutions to the societal challenges and needs and African governments must ably fund their varsities for this to happen in addition to putting in place, the implementable policies that stimulate entire spectrum
Moses Hategeka is a Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer
Fitch affirms African Development Bank’s Triple ‘A’ rating with Stable Outlook
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
Leading global rating agency Fitch Ratings has affirmed the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘AAA’ with a Stable Outlook and its Short-Term IDR at ‘F1+’ (best quality grade, indicating exceptionally strong capacity to meet its financial commitments).
In a statement released on 4 August, the agency said the ‘AAA’ rating primarily reflects extraordinary support from AfDB’s shareholders which provides a three-notch uplift over the Bank’s intrinsic rating.
“AfDB enjoys strong support from its 80 member states, which include 26 non-African countries with high average ratings. Callable capital subscribed by member states rated ‘AAA’, the largest of which are the US, Germany and Canada, accounts for 21% of the total. This fully covered the Bank’s net debt at end-2016, underpinning the ‘aaa’ assessment of shareholders’ capacity to support,” the statement said.
The report underscores the strong propensity of member states to support the Bank in case of need as illustrated by previous capital increases and the Bank’s important role in the region’s financing.
In the assessment, Fitch maintains that fast growth in AfDB’s lending in the last two years has translated into a rapid increase in its indebtedness, noting that the Bank’s Management has indicated that if there is no clear evidence of a capital increase within the next two years, it will have no choice but to curb lending growth to preserve the Bank’s solvency metrics. The report added that if no capital increase is approved by 2019, debt will not be fully covered by callable capital from ‘AAA’ rated countries, adding that this would place substantial pressure on Fitch’s assessment of extraordinary support and, hence on AfDB’s IDR.
Fitch asserts that the relatively high risk profile of borrowers is mitigated by the preferred creditor status (PCS) that the Bank enjoys on its sovereign exposures.
Fitch assesses AfDB’s liquidity at ‘aaa’, which reflects excellent coverage of short-term debt by liquid assets (2.9x). However, Fitch notes that the share of the portfolio invested in securities or bank placements rated ‘AA-‘ or above (83% in 2016) is declining, although their quality is still assessed at excellent. Fitch understands that management intends to rebalance the treasury assets portfolio in order to increase the proportion of assets rated ‘AA-‘ or above. This would help underpin Fitch’s assessment of the strength of extraordinary support, given the relevance of liquid assets’ quality to the net debt calculation.
“The -1 notch adjustment to AfDB’s solvency stemming from our assessment of its business environment reflects the high risk operating environment in which the bank operates,” the report says, noting that the majority of African countries are classified as low income by the World Bank. The average income per capita and average rating of member states are the lowest of all regional MDBs, and they are subject to an overall high level of political risk.
Commenting on the rating, AfDB Acting Vice-President for Finance, Hassatou Diop N’Sele, said, “We welcome the confirmation of the AfDB’s AAA rating by Fitch, with a stable outlook. The Bank is dedicated to doing the most to make a marked positive difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans, while at the same time preserving its financial integrity. Our High 5agenda is our response to the need to accelerate and scale up Africa’s development to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the continent. The High 5 agenda, reflecting five identified priority areas (namely energy, agriculture, industrialization, integration and human capital development), enjoys strong support from our shareholders. The AfDB will continue to maintain a careful balance between maximizing its development effectiveness and assuring complete preservation of the interests of its stakeholders.”
One Thousand Young African Leaders Convene in Washington to Collaborate on Leadership and Skill Building
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
One thousand young African leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., last week for the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit. Representing 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the diverse group of leaders immersed themselves in activities to strengthen their leadership skills and to build connections with each other and U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
Held July 31 – August 2 and hosted by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with support from IREX, the Summit marked the culmination of the Fellows’ six-week Academic and Leadership Institutes at colleges and universities across the United States. Fellows now return home to apply the skills they have gained and utilize the networks they have created to enhance peace and security, spur economic growth, and strengthen democratic institutions to the benefit of Africa and the United States.
Mandela Washington Fellow Peo Pinkie Sebotho from Botswanacommented on collaborating with other Fellows. “We were excited to share our experiences and our dreams for Africa. I made friends, I made business partners. We were planning what we would do together in the future.”
Mark Taplin, then Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said: “I don’t think of this as just a Mandela Washington Fellows Summit. This may be the biggest gathering all year here in D.C. of the up-and-coming, the leading and creating, the dreaming and doing, the sharing and caring. You are the future in business and entrepreneurship, in civil society and governance of the world’s most up-and-coming continent.”
Wade Warren, then Acting Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, also addressed the Fellows, calling on them to use the full power of the networks the Fellowship has helped them forge, and to think of challenges as opportunities.
Wednesday highlighted U.S. and African perspectives on leadership with remarks from Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation; Dr. Helene Gayle, CEO of McKinsey Social Initiative; Norman Moyo, Author and CEO of New Enterprise Business DPA & CUMII at ECONET; and General (Retired) Richard Myers, President of Kansas State University and 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“I’ve studied why leaders are successful and I’ve seen a common thread: legacy. So as young leaders, you must think legacy. You must think long-term. The age you’re creating is the age of empowerment,” Elumelu declared.
In his address, General Myers emphasized courage and risk-taking. “If you’re trying to make a difference, you have to persevere. It takes more than a heroic leader to make a difference, it takes all of us,” urged Myers.
Wednesday also featured a Congressional forum on investing in the next generation of Africa with U.S. Senator from Delaware Chris Coons discussing advocacy, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, human rights, and U.S.-Africa relations.
IREX President and CEO Kristin M. Lord notes: “The Mandela Washington Fellowship creates a network of leaders advancing peace, prosperity, and more effective governance. That benefits not only people on the African continent, but forges people-to-people and government-to-government relationships that benefit both the United States and Africa.”
*Source IREX/PR Newswire.Contact Alex Cole, Director of Strategic Communications, IREX
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo and Benin’s music stars say NO to child marriage!
August 8, 2017 | 0 Comments
UNICEF international Goodwill Ambassador, Angélique Kidjo and UNICEF Benin national Goodwill Ambassador Zeynab Abib, along with seven of Benin’s greatest artists have joined forces to create a song calling on the population to say NO to child marriage, as part of the national Zero Tolerance Campaign against child marriage.
“A little girl is still a child. She cannot be a mother or a bride. Let her grow up to live a fulfilling life. Say NO to child marriage!”, sing UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassadors, Angélique Kidjo and Zeynab Abib, accompanied by Danialou Sagbohan, Kalamoulaï, Don Métok, Sessimè, Dibi Dobo, Norberka and Olga Vigouroux.
As part of the national Zero Tolerance Campaign against child marriage, launched by the Government of Benin on June 16th – the Day of the Africa Child (DAC) – the nine artists committed themselves to this unprecedented movement to help break the silence around child marriage. Through the creation of a song and a video, which are deeply moving, yet full of hope, the nine artists called on the population of Benin to act.
“Child marriage is a negation of children’s right to grow up free. Every child has the right to a childhood. I call on parents not to marry off their young daughters as they are our wealth and the future of our continent”, said Angélique Kidjo who co-created the song with Zeynab Abib.
The artists sing in a variety of languages, including Fon, Mina, Mahi, Sahouè, Yoruba, Goun, Bariba and French in order for the message to reach people throughout the country and in neighbouring countries.
“The impact on these girls is terrible. Once married, they no longer attend school, they are raped, they fall pregnant, which puts their health and that of their baby in danger. We artists are saying NO to all these injustices! Girls are not the property of anyone; they have the right to choose their own destinies”, insists Beninese pop star Zeynab Abib, who was able to mobilise Benin’s greatest artists around this cause.
In most African societies, marriage extends beyond the couple, sealing the union between two families. As such, certain parents or guardians force their children to marry before they are physically or psychologically mature. Poverty, poor levels of education, and the prevalence of traditions and belief systems, along with a general culture of impunity, are all tied to the continued practice of child marriage.
Among the 700 million women around the world who are victims of forced marriage, more than one in three – or 250 million – were married before the age of 18. In Central and Western Africa, two in five girls (41%) marry before reaching their 18th birthday. In Benin, one in ten girls is married under the age of 15 and three out of ten girls are married before they are 18 years old.
“We need all the strength and weapons we can muster to fight the scourge of child marriage. Art, especially music, is a powerful weapon. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘politics can be strengthened by music, but music has a potency that defies politics’. This power must be harnessed!” said Dr Claudes Kamenga, UNICEF Representative in Benin.
The national authorities, through the voice of the Minister for Communications and the Minister of Social Affairs also hailed the commitment of the performers and called on the media to broadcast the video widely.
The Zero Tolerance campaign against child marriage is directly in line with the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage on the continent. The campaign has been made possible thanks to financial support from the nations of Belgium and the Netherlands’.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
CONSTITUENCY FOR AFRICA ANNOUNCES COLLABORATION WITH THE AFRICAN UNION AND THE ELLIOTT SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS FOR THE 2017 RONALD H. BROWN AFRICAN AFFAIRS SERIES
August 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
WASHINGTON, DC (August 3, 2017) – The Constituency for Africa (CFA) announces its collaboration with the African Union (AU) and the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University for the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series. This year’s Series will be held from September 18th through September 23rd in Washington, DC.
“I am excited about CFA’s partnership with the African Union and George Washington University,” stated Mr. Melvin P. Foote, CFA’s Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer. “We have worked closely with both institutions in previous years, and our collaboration this year affords CFA the opportunity to more closely align our efforts with the AU and George Washington University to engage the Diaspora on meaningful policy issues that affect the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans and Africans in the Diaspora.”
The theme of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown Series is “Mobilizing the Diaspora in Support of the U.S.-Africa Agenda.” The purpose of the Series will be to bring together stakeholders from the U.S., Africa, and throughout the Diaspora to assess the U.S. Administration’s Africa policy, and to identify challenges and opportunities. Participants in the Ronald H. Brown Series will discuss critical issues in a number of key areas, including Healthcare Infrastructure, Democracy & Governance, Trade & Investment, Next Generation Leadership, Agriculture, and Diaspora Engagement. Based on these discussions, CFA and its partners will produce a Diaspora strategy to include policy recommendations for the U.S. Administration and the AU.
Over the first three days of the Ronald H. Brown Series, CFA will convene several policy roundtables at the AU Mission in Washington, DC. “The AU looks forward to hosting CFA and its participants. Over the years, we have followed CFA’s work closely, and believe that CFA is having tremendous impact on U.S.-Africa policy. Additionally – and just as important – CFA’s work to educate and mobilize the African Diaspora is consistent with one of our key activities at the AU Mission. The AU is fully aware that sustainable development in Africa must involve the African Diaspora,” said H.E. Arikana Chihombori, the AU’s Permanent Representative to the U.S.
After the conclusion of the policy roundtables, CFA will convene a U.S.-Africa Policy Forum hosted by the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. In 2016, this Policy Forum was Co-Chaired by the Honorable Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia; and His Excellency Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia. “Last year’s U.S.-Africa Policy Forum was a tremendous success,” said Ambassador Reuben E. Brigety, Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA), who hosted and moderated the Forum. “Based on our experience last year, ESIA expects the upcoming U.S.-Africa Policy Forum to provide a platform for a robust and productive policy discussion. I look forward to an exchange of ideas, and the development of substantive policy recommendations for the U.S. Government and the African Union.” ESIA will also host the CFA Chairman’s Reception on the evening of Wednesday, September 20th.
For more information on this year’s Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series and to register for events, please visit www.ronaldbrownseries.org.
For over 26 years, CFA has established itself as one of the leading, non-partisan organizations focused on educating and mobilizing the American public and the African Diaspora in the U.S. on U.S.-Africa policy. As a result, CFA has helped to increase the level of cooperation and coordination among a broad-based coalition of individuals and organizations committed to the progress, development, and empowerment of Africa and African people worldwide.
The African Union Representational Mission to the U.S. is the first bilateral diplomatic mission of the African Union. Officially launched on July 11, 2007 in Washington, DC, its mandate is to undertake, develop, and maintain constructive and productive institutional relationships between the African Union and the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. Government, the African Diplomatic Corps, the Africans in the Diaspora, and the Bretton Woods Institutions.
About the Elliott School of International Affairs
The George Washington University has educated generations of international leaders and advanced the understanding of important global issues since 1821. The Elliott School of International Affairs, named in honor of former GW President Lloyd H. Elliott and his wife Evelyn, is dedicated to this mission. ESIA trains its students in the theory and practice of international affairs, offering them in-depth analysis of international economic, political, scientific and cultural issues. The School’s widely respected faculty prepares Elliott School students for global careers in the public, private and non-profit sectors.
Barclays Africa Group to Collaborate with Nine Fintech Companies
August 2, 2017 | 0 Comments
Barclays Africa Group, one of Africa’s largest financial services group with close to 12 million customers, will collaborate with nine financial technology (fintech) companies to rapidly explore promising new technology-based solutions that could prompt significant improvements for consumers and in bank services.
Barclays Africa will collaborate with fintech companies including Abe.ai from the US, Kapitalwise from the US, as well as FOMO Group and Byte Money from South Africa to test the potential to scale up and roll out the solutions across the ten countries where Barclays Africa Group has operations. Others include Howler, FlexPay, Spatialedge, Sun Exchange and Avenews-GT.
“The solutions created by these companies are among the top innovations in the fintech space in the world right now,” said Yasaman Hadjibashi, Chief Creation Officer at Barclays Africa Group. “Any of these solutions could have the potential to solve some of the biggest challenges facing the financial services sector in Africa,” said Hadjibashi, who leads Barclay Africa Group’s innovation agenda.
The fintech companies are among ten businesses that participated in the 2017 Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. The 13-week mentorship driven accelerator programme, hosted at Rise, Barclays Africa Group’s fintech innovation hub in Cape Town during May to July, follows the renowned Techstars curriculum which comprises intensive networking and development initiatives. The experience is enhanced through the involvement of local and global mentors, including industry experts and Barclays Africa executives.
The ten companies showcased their solutions during a ‘demo day’ held in Cape Town today. The participating companies were selected in a robust and competitive process that attracted applications from more than 50 countries. Barclays Africa Group is exploring potential agreements with further participants.
“Today’s demo day, to an audience of investors and corporate partners, showcased both the breadth and depth of the innovations happening here in Africa. I’m excited by the caliber and potential that these companies have to offer,” said Yossi Hasson, Managing Director of Techstars (Barclays Accelerator).
The financial services industry has experienced significant disruption over the past few years as agile fintech start-up companies introduced solutions that brought step-changes to customer convenience and efficiency. Barclays Africa Group is staying ahead of the curve by embracing start-ups and their agile approach, seeking out their disruptive thinking and challenging the norm.
Rise, Barclays Africa Group’s fintech hub in Cape Town, was established to foster innovation and create the future of financial services together with Rise centres in New York, London, Mumbai, Tel Aviv and others. The global Rise network is a community of the world’s brightest startups, experts, investors and colleagues. The network offers startups access to an exclusive network of curated experts, businesses and partners so they can work together, learn together and solve the biggest industry challenges together.
“Innovation is the powerful collaboration of bright humble minds that are continuously originating, testing and shipping new customer-centric products,” said Hadjibashi.
Participants in the 2017 Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars
|Abe.ai||Abe AI is a revolutionary AI platform that eliminates friction within customer interactions, helping banks provide superior customer service at scale while reducing operational costs|
|Howler||Howler is the powerful tech platform that event organisers use to optimise the planning, promotion, management and control of their events, and to create fault-free, frictionless, seamless guest experiences and ‘moments that matter’.|
|Spatialedge||Spatialedge – Proprietary technology as well as wholly owned spatial and consumer datasets are used to drive precision targeted engagements with existing, and prospective clients, growing both the customer base and customer lifetime value by enabling critical customer acquisition and retention activities to become data driven.|
|Sun Exchange||Sun Exchange enables anyone in the world own and lease solar panels to power African businesses and communities to earn a solar powered income. Sun Exchange closes a huge gap for commercial scale solar energy finance across Africa. The underpinning technology that enables this is Blockchain, utilised to enable global micro-investing using autonomous secure smart-contracts.|
|FOMO Group||FOMO Group consists of two subsidiaries; FOMO Travel and FOMO Payments. FOMO Travel is a proven business which allows people to travel debt-free and conscience-free. FOMO Payments is taking the same model to the entire travel industry by allowing a wider scope of travelers to use the gamified, lay-buy, interest-free payment solution with any supplier.|
|Avenews-GT||Avenews-GT is a decentralized ecosystem for agricultural trade that provides a digital trading platform based on Blockchain technology to enable verified farmers and cooperatives to transact directly with agri-buyers such as retailers and manufacturers to reduce distribution costs, create financial security and increase supply chain transparency.|
|Byte Money||Byte Money is a receipting and allocation specialist servicing Sub Saharan Africa. The platform enables secure, verified and authenticated ‘agent collections’ and real time reporting for the micro finance industry.|
|FlexPay||FlexPay Technologies offers an automated, reliable and accurate lay-buy purchase platform that increases merchant’s sales by enabling customers to afford goods and services via convenient flexible payments. With both online and offline functionality, consumers are enabled to make payments towards the intended item for purchase over a stipulated timeframe.|
|eCoida||eCOIDA is a web based platform, bringing together employers, employees, medical service providers (“MSPs”) and the Insurer, in a real-time, seamless and integrated process that conforms to the full spectrum of statutory and policy requirements in the Injury on duty market space.|
|Kapitalwise||Kapitalwise disrupts the way millennial investors invest in capital markets by simplifying the process through the automation of investment decisions. They empower financial enterprises with a simple and easy to use digital platform that will nudge users to make frequent but small investment.|
Barclays Africa Group Limited (“Barclays Africa” or “the Group”) is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and is one of Africa’s largest financial services groups.
Barclays Africa offers personal and business banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management and insurance.
The Group operates in 12 countries with approximately 40,000 employees, serving close to 12 million customers.
The Group registered head office is in Johannesburg, South Africa and owns majority stakes in banks in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa (Absa), Tanzania (Barclays Bank Tanzania and National Bank of Commerce), Uganda and Zambia. The Group also has representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria.
In a World of Disarray, Africa Is Taking Steps Forward
July 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
At this juncture in mid-2017, while the Middle East remains highly turbulent and global security challenges remain acute from Korea and East Asia to Ukraine and Afghanistan, what is the state of security in Africa? A continent of fifty-four nations, ranging from the Arab regions of the north to the Sahel region and a number of subzones in Sub-Saharan Africa, there are of course many stories to tell. But three stand out. The net assessment for the continent as a whole, while far from rosy, has a number of promising dimensions.
Africa’s security situation might be summarized as follows:
First is the state of terrorism and extremism. This remains a tough and disturbing story, overall. Countries from Mali to Libya to Somalia have been afflicted, by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, ISIS, and Al-Shabaab among the key perpetrators. Terrorist attacks have also occurred in places such as Kenya and Burkina Faso. It is hard to talk of improvement in any of these places. At least things are not getting worse on balance. Indeed, there has perhaps even some slight improvement in Nigeria in particular, where the fight against Boko Haram continues(and occasionally spills over slightly into neighboring countries like Cameroon), but where the International Institute for Strategic Studies reports a reduced fatality rate relative to 2015.
Second is the state of civil war and famine in several key countries in the general east-west swath of land that includes the semi-arid Sahel region of Africa. This is a tragedy happening before our eyes in real time. It involves a belt of nations overlapping with some of the countries suffering from terrorism and extremism. The Sudans, Central African Republic, Somalia and Nigeria are among the worst hit, with parts of these countries collectively now containing more than 15 million people at acute risk of starvation. Beyond the specific risks from famine, South Sudan continues to devour itself in pointless and petty violence that involves huge numbers of sexual crimes as well.
Other conflict zones in this swath of countries may be faring slightly better. Sudan does not have the degree of infighting it suffered a decade ago, even if it is far from peaceful. On June 19 of this year, the Central African Republic’s government and thirteen of the fourteen armed groups in the country signed an accord to end ethnic and religious conflict. However, it is too soon to know if this will lead to a meaningful trend towards stability.
Third is the continent writ large, encompassing the majority of the nations in Africa. Most of it is more peaceful that it has been, on average, since the waves of independence in the late 1950s and 1960s or during most of the Cold War and then the 1990s. On balance, Africa is slightly more stable (and somewhat more democratic) than ever before in modern times.
Of course, this is a provisional judgment—and whatever peace may be breaking out coexists near lots of ongoing conflict and also requires many peacekeepers to sustain. Indeed, there are currently eight United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa: UNMISS in South Sudan, UNISFA in the disputed Abyei region, UNAMID in Darfur, MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MINUSCA in Central African Republic, MINUSMA in Mali, UNMIL in Liberia and finally MINURSO in Western Sahara. Overall, there are over 92,000 personnel serving in UN peacekeeping operations in Africa.
In addition to collaborating with the UN in Darfur, the African Union has two active peace operations: AMISOM in Somalia, and the Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA). There are over 22,000 deployed AMISOM personnel, with most of its troops coming from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone. RCI-LRA has a Regional Task Force of over 3,000 soldiers from Uganda, South Sudan, DRC and CAR.
Political tensions over transfers of power, or more commonly, the absence of a transfer of power, make things dicey in several other countries, too. Too many leaders are holding onto power indefinitely, either through sham elections or no real elections at all, or the dominance of political organization and process in their respective countries that allows them to get elected more or less indefinitely. Not only DRC and Burundi, but Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Angola are notable examples of this dangerous trend. Even in a relatively benign case like Paul Kagame’s Rwanda, where the strongman leader has undoubtedly delivered much for his country, the tendency towards a “presidency for life” pattern of behavior puts democracy—and national stability—at risk.
Indeed, eight presidents in Africa have now amassed more than 229 years in power between them. These include: Eduardo dos Santos from Angola (thirty-seven), Teodoro Obiang Nguema from Equatorial Guinea (thirty-seven), Paul Biya from Cameroon (thirty-three), Idriss Deby from Chad (twenty-six), Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville (thirty-two), Yoweri Museveni of Uganda (thirty-one), Paul Kagame of Rwanda (seventeen) and Joseph Kabila of the DRC (sixteen). Beyond just these cases, Africa’s trend towards democracy, after an impressive period of improvement in the 1990s and 2000s, has plateaued: Freedom House ranked four African countries as free in 1998, eleven as free in 2007, but only ten as free in 2016.
There are more hopeful political stories too, of course. In January 2017, former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh left the country after twenty-two years in power, marking the first president to peacefully hand over power in Gambia since its independence from the British in 1965. The Gambia’s peaceful transition of governance gives hope for future democratic elections. More significantly, a successful election in Kenya in August could give the cause of African democracy a substantial boost.
Southern Africa, including Angola and Mozambique, remains fairly quiet in terms of conflict if not necessarily politics. Most of West Africa is moving well beyond the civil wars of the 1990s and 2000s (and the Ebola crisis of 2014). Ethiopia, the continent’s second most populous state, may have quieted down somewhat after significant unrest a couple years ago.
On balance, there are ample troubles today in Africa, as always. Yet fatality rates are down more than half relative to the 1990s, according to data from the Peace Research Institute of Oslo and Uppsala University in Sweden among others (and economic growth rates, while slower the last couple years, have typically reached 4 to 5 percent annually in the 2000s, after decades of far worse performance). Overall, in a world characterized by disarray, it may be somewhat risky but still fair to venture that Africa continues to move gradually if fitfully forward.
*Source National Interest.Michael O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Emily Terry is an intern with the Brookings Africa Security Initiative.
How much have development strategies changed in Africa since independence?
July 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
This week in the African Politics Summer Reading Spectacular, we talk about economic development in Africa. In a broad study of nine African countries, Landry Signé examines innovation in development in his book, “Innovating Development Strategies in Africa: The Role of International, Regional and National Actors.” Signé kindly answered my questions about the book.
Kim Yi Dionne: As you observe in your book, both African and international development leaders invoke innovation in describing their development strategies. But how much have development strategies in Africa actually changed over the decades since independence?
Landry Signé: It depends on the way you think about innovation. In identifying innovation, most scholars focus on the content of development policy. They ask if a new development strategy is just “old wine in a new bottle,” usually on their way to explaining why a policy is doomed to fail. This substantive perspective often overlooks the slow-moving processes of some development innovations.
Most scholars have taken little interest in explaining development strategies in a procedural sense, at least when focusing on Africa. By procedural, I mean the forms, processes and mechanisms by which development strategies emerge, change and impact development outcomes over the long term.
My book examines both perspectives on innovation — substantive and procedural — and pays special attention to the lesser-explored one: procedural. Much of the research by scholars working from a substantive perspective find a lot of continuity in development strategies in Africa. But I find in my work that there are innovations — often incremental ones — which lead in the long run to much more substantial and often overlooked economic and institutional transformation.
After independence, African countries shifted from state-led development to various levels of state withdrawal in the 1980s, combined with strategies for economic integration and development. In the 1990s, states continued to disengage, but added social protection measures. In the 2000s, the emergence of the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) have marked a return to a more significant role for public institutions and continentwide development strategies in promoting economic development in a more market-friendly context. Only looking at the content of strategies, and not taking into account the process of emergence and the long-term impact of policies would miss this incredible transformation over the last few decades.
KYD: An important point you make in your book is that development strategies can be considered innovations even if they fail. Is there a failure you think is a good example of innovation in African development strategy?
LS: New development policies, whether substantially or procedurally innovative, could lead to poor outcomes over the short run, but can also contribute to a much more important dynamic of change. For example, although structural adjustment programs (SAPs) have broadly been considered a failure, they have defined new rules of the game and practices resulting in better macroeconomic management, increased accountability and governance effectiveness. Together with debt relief and a favorable international context, SAPs thus contributed to the transformation and overall good economic performance of African economies in the beginning of the 21st century. When scholars only focus on short-term impacts, they overlook more transformational changes brought by apparently failed policies.
KYD: Your book examines development in nine French-speaking countries formerly colonized by France. Why did you focus on these countries?
LS: I aimed to explain the overall transformation of African economies since the 1960s, providing a big picture of the changes which have taken place in development strategies. To make the study manageable, I first constructed a continental puzzle inspired by Paul Collier and Stephen O’Connell’s classification of African countries by economic structure and economic policy orientation. I wanted the sample of countries I studied to be a mix of low and middle-income countries, oil producers and non-oil producers, landlocked and poor in natural resources and landlocked and rich in natural resources, those that are coastal and poor in natural resources and those that are coastal and rich in resources, and those with socialist-leaning economies and those that are liberal-leaning.
After finalizing the continental classification, I realized that enough former French colonies were well represented in all the relevant categories to cover the full range of criteria for the continental analysis. I ultimately chose Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo for many reasons.
First, as members of the CFA franc zone, they have similar monetary policies. At the same time, these countries had contrasting economic structures, economic policy orientations and development outcomes. These important contrasts, despite the countries’ similarities, were more important in my decision to choose Francophone countries, than their former belonging to the French colonial empire, even if both are intertwined.
Second, I wanted to look at countries that shared the same colonial power as part of a growing effort among African scholars to dismantle the myth that colonial heritage is the main driver of contemporary development strategies in Africa. More and more work shows that domestic political economies interacted with international influence to shape development outcomes.
KYD: How might we take what we learn from your study to examine development in — for example — former British colonies or former Portuguese colonies?
LS: My book’s goal was to better understand how economic development strategies emerge and transform economies in sub-Saharan Africa — not only in Francophone Africa. I offer a theory explaining change over time in African development policies that applies broadly to African countries that underwent structural adjustment, whether former French, British, Portuguese, Belgian or Spain colonies.
I focus on the dynamics of domestic political economies in African countries and on their interactions with external actors. Despite the asymmetry in power relations with their international counterparts, African governments still have agency in making decisions about their development. My book offers a framework for understanding these interacting dynamics in the emergence and evolution of economic policies and development institutions in Africa.
Finally, I’ll say that one takeaway from my book is that we should take a broader view. While we researchers witness institutional and political continuities in the short run, even minor innovations can give rise to great political, economic and social innovations and transformations in the long run.
*Source Washington Post.Landry Signé is a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Center for African Studies, professor and senior adviser to the chancellor on international affairs at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Andrew Carnegie Fellow, Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow, Tutu Fellow and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Follow him on Twitter @landrysigne.
Africa: Third Trump Try to Fill Senior Africa Policy Post
July 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Reed Kramer*
After two abandoned attempts to fill the highest Africa position in the White House, the Trump team is considering a career intelligence officer.
No announcement has been made, but sources with access to the selection process say Cyril Sartor, deputy assistant director for Africa at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is the front runner to be senior director for Africa at the National Security Council (NSC).
On April 1, AllAfrica was the first to report the choice of Air Force veteran and former Pentagon Africa counter-terrorism director Rudolf Atallah for the NSC Africa job. Buzz Feed, which wrote about the Atallah selection 12 days later, reported on June 23 that the offer to Atallah had been “yanked” – after he had been introduced at an ‘all-hands’ NSC meeting and had been actively working on African issues for the administration.
No reason has been advanced for the reversal on Atallah, who was the second person named to direct Africa at NSC. The first, Robin Townley, was blocked from taking the job after his security clearance reportedly was rejected by the CIA.
Among the positions Sartor has held, according to a brief biography posted online by the Aspen Security Forum in July 2016, are serving as briefer for two National Security Advisors and as acting intelligence officer for Africa at the National Intelligence Council (NIC), which produces strategic forecasts for the U.S. government. The bio says he earned an MA in African History from Boston University in 1984.
Sartor is among the small group of African Americans at senior level in the intelligence community. No official government biography is available online.
The information posted by Aspen accompanied Sartor’s participation in a public panel on terrorism in Africa at the Aspen forum in July 2016, a relatively rare appearance by an intelligence analyst. “It feels a little weird for a CIA officer to be live streaming on YouTube,” Sartor joked, as he began his prepared remarks.
“Violent Islamic ideology is a foreign import to sub-Saharan Africa and as such it only thrives where it can co-opt local grievances,” Sartor said, citing complaints among nomadic Tuareg people in Mali and “clan frustrations” that spur the insurgency in Somalia.
The socioeconomic roots of popular grievances must be addressed, he told the Forum, adding, “I sincerely believe the international community can defeat terrorism in sub Saharan Africa with a robust mix of long-term development and security assistance.” He said defeating terrorism in Africa “will take a long time” – in part because insurgencies typically last “more than a dozen years” and also because the youth population across Africa is growing faster than anywhere else in the world.
Top Africa Job at State Could Have Nominee Soon
Africa director at NSC is one of two high-level Africa jobs that remain unfilled more than five months into the Trump administration. No formal nomination has been put forward to head the Africa Bureau at the State Department, a front-line position tasked with managing U.S. diplomatic relations with the continent.
Africa experts who track policy developments believe a nomination for the senior Africa post at State could be nearing. The choice for Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian was announced on July 19 – only the third nomination to date for one of the 22 assistant secretary positions in the department.
After several names were discussed within the administration to be nominated as Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, well-connected sources say that J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, is being vetted and that his name could be one of the next submitted by the White House to the Senate for confirmation.
That these key posts remain empty is widely seen as part of the reason for the U.S. response to the ‘Compact for Africa’ put forward by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 Summit earlier this month. Riva Levinson, a Republican and a Washington DC-based government relations consultant with extensive African experience, writing in The Hill, labeled as “utterly tone-deaf” President Trump’s decision to leave the Summit during the session on ‘Partnership with Africa, Migration and Health’, the focus of which was “the well-being of Africa’s 1.6 billion people.” His daughter and advisor, Ivanka Trump, took his place at the table with the Summit principals, primarily heads of state and of international organizations,
Grant T. Harris, who was senior director for African Affairs in the Obama White House, sees ‘de-prioritization’ of Africa by the Trump administration as creating an opening In Africa for other powers. “Chinese leaders must be salivating” – the country now takes in $50 billion a year or more from African investments, he wrote in The Hill. “North Korea has sold weapons to African countries, in violation of UN sanctions, to fund its weapons of mass destruction programs, and Russia is looking to Africa to hedge against U.S. sanctions,” he wrote.
Peter Pham, the presumed nominee to head the Africa Bureau at the State Department, is a prolific author of analytical essays and books whose work has focused on African security issues. He prepared a strategy paper published by the Council and submitted to the Trump transition team in December, which advocated – among other recommendations -reassigning four north African nations (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) to the Africa Bureau at the State Department, where they currently fall under the Bureau of of Near Eastern Affairs. This reorganization took place at the NSC soon after Trump assumed office.
Women Advancing Africa placing women at the centre stage of Africa’s Economic Advancement
July 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
|The Women Advancing Africa Forum is set to bring some of the continent’s best and brightest minds together to shape a common agenda to accelerate the economic advancement of women in Africa|
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, July 28, 2017/ — The inaugural Women Advancing Africa (WAA) Forum is a new Pan-African flagship initiative launched by the Graça Machel Trust to acknowledge and celebrate the central role women play in shaping Africa’s development agenda and by driving social and economic transformation. The Forum will take place from 9-12 August in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania at the Hyatt Kilimanjaro.
Africa is in a second liberation era – the economic liberation. Women can no longer be secondary or marginal, and through Women Advancing Africa the Trust wants to enable women to take centre stage in the economic advancement of Africa. The Trust is establishing a platform for women to claim their right to sit at the table where the decisions are made and to shape the policies, plans and strategies for our futures and those of the generations to come.”
The Trust is honoured to have H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania and member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment join the WAA Forum to share her insights on issues that will be discussed over the four days. The Forum will consist of interactive sessions organised around three core pillars: Financial Inclusion, Market Access and Social Change.
With an estimated attendance of 200 participants from across the continent, the WAA Forum will play host to a diverse mix of women and youth representing thought leaders and influencers from the private sector, philanthropy, academia, civil society, government, development agencies and the media who will bring their voices, experiences and ideas to strategize, set priorities and craft a common agenda to drive Africa’s social and economic transformation.
A Social Progress Agenda
We are honoured to be joined by Gertrude Mongella, former President of the Pan African Parliament who will be joined by some of Africa’s leading women giants who have shaped the women’s movement in the past and will bring legacy and the future face to face in a gathering at the side of the Forum.
The WAA Forum will also celebrate the diversity of African culture and creativity in all its forms, from language, to design and fashion, to movie making and dance. This year’s Forum will celebrate African female writers and storytellers who are challenging the status quo, reshaping narratives and developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of the creative industries and their role in driving social progress.
Research looking at the Narrative and Economic participation of Women in Africa
The Graça Machel Trust’s Women in Media Network will also launch a research report on the coverage and portrayal of women in media entitled: “Women in Media – What is the Narrative?” The session will be broadcast as a Facebook Live event with interactive participation in the post launch In Conversation series to stimulate a broader conversation about the narrative of women in media as well as other storytelling formats and platforms.
Announcements will be made on the WAA website www.WomenAdvancingAfrica and the WAA Facebook page www.Women Advancing Africa – WAA, closer to the time.
A movement of women focused on economic advancement
The Trust would like to thank our generous partners who have helped make our vision a reality. Special thanks to The UPS Foundation, the Intel Foundation, American Tower Corporation, and UN Women. Media partners include: the ABN360 Group, incorporating CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa; the Nation Group and locally based Azam Media Group. The WAA Forum’s convening partner, APCO Worldwide has worked closely with the Graça Machel Trust, providing expertise and insights to develop this one-of-a-kind women’s network. These partners share the Trust’s belief that advancing women economically is crucial to the health and prosperity of African families, communities and nations.
The Graça Machel Trust is an organisation that works across the continent to drive positive change across women’s and children’s rights, as well as governance and leadership. Through our support of local initiatives and connecting key stakeholders at a regional, national and sub-national level, we help to catalyse action where it is needed. By using our convening power the Trust seeks to: amplify the voices of women and children in Africa; influence governance; promote women’s contributions and leadership in the economic social and political development of Africa.
The Network of African Business Women (NABW) provides women with opportunities to freely and effectively participate in the economic development of their countries through the establishment of sustainable business ventures. Through training, mentorship and capacity building, the Network supports business women’s associations and existing business women generating a much needed upsurge of growth-oriented, African women entrepreneurs.
The African Women in Agribusiness Network (AWAB) addresses challenges in food security and identifies opportunities for women in the agricultural sector. The network advocates for initiatives that enhance women’s competitiveness in local and global markets. AWAB also seeks to foster market linkages for women, connecting them to projects in the agricultural sector that can improve their access to resources, knowledge and training.
New Faces New Voices (NFNV)
New Faces New Voices (NFNV) advocates for women’s access to finance and financial services. The network aims to bridge the funding gap in financing women-owned businesses in Africa and to lobby for policy and legislative changes. The overall objective of the network is to advance the financial inclusion of women by bringing more women into the formal financial system.
The Women in Media Network (WIMN) is the latest Pan-African network established by the Trust. It comprises a network of African women journalists who individually and collectively use their influence and voice to help shape and disseminate empowering storylines about Africa’s women and children.
Founded in 1984, APCO Worldwide is an independent global communication, stakeholder engagement and business strategy firm with offices in more than 30 major cities throughout the world. We challenge conventional thinking and inspire movements to help our clients succeed in an ever-changing world. Stakeholders are at the core of all we do. We turn the insights that come from our deep stakeholder relationships into forward-looking, creative solutions that always push the boundaries. APCO clients include large multinational companies, trade associations, governments, NGOs and educational institutions. The firm is a majority women-owned business
World Bank Review Reveals a Weakening of Policy and Institutional Performance in Africa
July 26, 2017 | 0 Comments
OUAGADOUGOU, July 24, 2017-The quality of policies and institutions weakened in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016 amid challenging economic conditions, according to the latest review by the World Bank. This weaker trend was observed in 40% of the region’s IDA countries, notably commodity exporters and fragile states.
The African trade revolution quietly afoot
July 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
In a tumultuous year for the global trading landscape, negotiations for a huge Africa-wide free trade area are progressing rapidly.
BY DAVID LUKE*
Across the developed world, longstanding advocates of free trade are in retreat. America has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and stepped back from the World Trade Organisation. Meanwhile, a crisis is brewing at the heart of the European single market.
Recognition has grown that the inequalities generated by trade are not being sufficiently addressed. And this has fuelled an anti-trade populism.
Noting these tumultuous trends, international institutions from the OECD to the International Monetary Fund and G20 have sought to reaffirm the benefits of trade and argued against protectionism.
A quiet revolution
Set against this uproar, an African trade revolution is also quietly afoot. The innovation is the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). A boldly ambitious endeavour, the CFTA seeks to combine the economies of 55 African states under a pan-African free trade area comprising 1.2 billion people in a market with a combined GDP of $2.19 trillion.
Announced in 2012 by the African Union (AU) heads of state and government, the CFTA is the first flagship initiative of the AU’s Agenda 2063. It will reduce tariffs between African countries, introduce mechanisms to address the often more substantial non-tariff barriers, liberalise service sectors, and facilitate cross-border trade. This will also help rationalise the overlapping free trade areas that already exist within Africa.
The CFTA negotiations are complex. The 55 participating countries span a diversity of economic and geographic configurations. 15 are landlocked, while 6 are Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The biggest (Nigeria) has a GDP of $568 billion, while the smallest (Sao Tome & Principe) a GDP of just $337 million.
Many outside observers have been quick to cast pessimism upon the project. This is not just because of the challenging world trade environment and complexity of negotiations, but Africa’s history of trade negotiations.
In particular, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the European Union and African regional economic communities have proved an infamous failure. Despite 14 years of negotiations, only one EPA – that with Southern Africa – has been concluded.
With expectations low, the rapid progress in the CFTA negotiations is therefore all the more remarkable. The first negotiating forum was launched in February 2016. Since then, five more negotiating rounds have been concluded.
The most recent, held in Niger, determined modalities for trade in goods and services. It also pronounced a level of ambition to liberalise 90% of tariff lines – substantially more than aspired to in the EPAs – and establish a review mechanism to gradually lift this further.
The remainder of 2017 will see technical working group meetings and two more negotiating rounds to refine market access offers and the legal text of the agreement. The intention is to finish negotiations by the end of this year.
One African chief negotiator commenting at the last negotiating round remarked that he had “never seen negotiations move so rapidly”.
Boosting intra-African trade
These impressive achievements are being realised by political commitment at the highest level and a pan-African resolve to cooperate and compromise. Pan-Africanist forefathers like Kwame Nkrumah would be proud.
Success also derives from a shared belief in the project. Studies by the UN Economic Commission for Africa and UNCTAD identify the potential for the CFTA to boost intra-African trade. This would help diversify Africa’s exports away from a dependence on commodities that is little changed since colonial times.
Intra-African trade is substantially more diversified than Africa’s trade with the outside world. It comprises a greater share of value-added and industrial products such as textiles, cement, soap, pharmaceuticals, and even automobiles from South Africa as well as primary and processed food items. Services such as banking, telecoms, energy and transport are also being traded across borders. The CFTA forms part of an African strategy for industrialising through trade.
It could also help piece together Africa’s small fragmented markets to realise economies of scale necessary for industrial investment and growth. Niger’s President Issoufou Mahamadou, the African Union Champion for the CFTA, recently lamented looking upon a map of Africa as a “broken mirror”. The CFTA can help to fix this.
Making it a win-win
The CFTA, however, is no panacea. It must be accompanied by investments in infrastructure, energy and trade facilitation.
This is critical if sufficient jobs are to be created for Africa’s youth. 60% of Africa’s population is 24 or below and about to enter the workforce. Yet a shortage of opportunities contributes to high youth unemployment, poverty rates approaching 70%, and pressures to migrate.
It is also important not to overlook the origins of populist sentiment against free trade elsewhere in the world. Trade produces both winners and losers. The problem is that while gains can compensate losses in theory, that is not happening in practice.
Recognition of this has fuelled rethinking of trade policy across the world. For instance, the Canada-European Union trade agreement (CETA) was reworked following the election of the Trudeau administration to better reflect a new “progressive trade policy”.
The CFTA must likewise be crafted as a win-win agreement that leaves no one behind. Here, the UN Economic Commission for Africa has undertaken a human rights impact assessment of the initiative and advocated for a number of supporting measures.
This includes strategies to protect small-holder farmers and help them integrate into regional agricultural value chains. It calls for improving border controls to help informal cross-border traders, many of whom are women and major players in intra-African trade.
It also demands an approach that benefits Africa’s diversity of countries, including those which are small, island economies, landlocked or fragile states. One way to achieve this is by supporting initiatives for regional value chains and connectivity that have proven successful in Africa’s regional economic communities.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Light shines at the end of the tunnel for the CFTA, but obstacles remain. Implementation is a key but persistent challenge on the continent. To quote Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former Chairperson of the AU Commission, “I don’t think Africa is short of policies. We have to implement. That is where the problem is”.
The commitment and belief shown in the CFTA by African leaders must be seen through for the benefits of the CFTA to be realised.
The reward would appear to be worth it. Africa’s consumer market is the fastest growing in the world. In just over 30 years from now, by 2050, it will comprise a population larger than that of India and China combined. This is the right time to seize the opportunities generated by such a large market.
*African Arguments.David Luke is Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
IGD Launches Inaugural “Making Farming Cool!” Podcast Series
July 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
Produced by Afropop Worldwide, a Peabody award-winning radio program and online magazine dedicated to music from Africa and the African diaspora, Cameroonian-born veteran broadcaster Georges Collinet will host the podcast series. The podcast series is a component of the Africa Investment Rising (AIR) campaign, IGD’s dynamic communications and advocacy effort.
Agriculture is the engine driving in many African economies. While job opportunities exist in the agricultural value chain, young people are largely not entering the agriculture sector.
An estimated 25 million young people are expected enter the job market each year in Africa by 2025. To absorb the new entrants in the labor force, more than 10 million new jobs per year will have to be created in rural areas in the next two decades, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
“We’re thrilled to launch the ‘Making Farming Cool!’ podcast series,” said Mima S. Nedelcovych, IGD President. “The podcast series has a youthful vibe and will feature compelling interviews with private sector leaders and experts working in agriculture to draw attention to the tremendous business opportunities for growth and innovation in the agriculture sector.”
In the first episode, host Georges Collinet will take listeners on a captivating journey through South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province to meet Siehle Zealous Sibisi, a 28-year-old who manages his family’s successful sugarcane farm, TBS Holdings, which produces 30,000 tons of sugar a year. TBS Holdings is a supplier of IGD Frontier Leader Illovo Sugar Group. Listeners will also hear about how the family business is a successful model of South Africa’s post-apartheid land restitution program.
IGD Frontier Leaders listened to a preview of the a podcast episode featuring Dr. Abdu Mukhtar, Group Chief Strategy Officer of Dangote Industries Limitedduring a May 5 evening reception at the Frontier 100 Forum in Durban, South Africa.
The podcast series will roll out new episodes of “Making Farming Cool!” on the Afropop Worldwide website at http://www.afropop.org/37720/making-farming-cool/. New episodes will be released in September and October.
The podcast series will be distributed through IGD’s media partners and initially broadcast in three target media markets: Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. The series will also be distributed in the U.S. through Afropop Worldwide.
Marrakech to host The World Premier high-level dialogue of leaders on Women, Agriculture and Sustainable Development September 11- 12, 2017 at the Four Seasons Hotel, Marrakech, Morocco
July 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Believe in Africa has chosen Morocco, the picturesque “Western Kingdom – a place the sun sets,” for this year’s “Woman and Agriculture” conference. Hosting this conference in the Africa continent closer to home will bring together a cross-fertilization of ideas and home grown solutions from more than 500 delegates representing the diverse face of leading Africans in politics, business, regional/international experts in financing, technology and innovation, climate change and access to markets, including the voices of members of non-governmental organizations and institutions. By bringing people together, BIA 2017 will be the place where the pivotal role African women play, and contribute, in agriculture and sustainable development will be discussed and honoured.
“Our choice of Morocco is not fortuitous. With the efforts deployed by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, King of Morocco with his clear vision and leadership in advancing African economic integration and enhancing the collaboration between, and within, African countries, was the inspiration behind our decision to choose Morocco for this year’s conference, for the first time in the African continent, “said Mrs. Angelle KWEMO, president of the association and president of the Congress. She added that “Women and Agriculture” wishes to create a platform to empower women.
“Morocco is one of the most economically dynamic African countries. Geographically, and strategically located, Morocco is a bridge to Europe and the U.S. for Africa and a leader for South-South trade. It is certain that during this Congress we will learn a lot from the Moroccan experience in developing and expanding its agriculture sector. With the strong support of our conference partner, the OCP Group, world leader in phosphates and derivatives production, this conference will bring visibility to women who work daily in fields across Africa, concludes Mrs. Kwemo.
Another partner is the United Nations Women organization and BEYA Capital, a pioneer Casablanca-based climate investment and advisory firm that joined several global partners to organize the innovative Global Climate Finance Action Summit 2016 (GCFA 2016) during COP22. GCFA Summit made history by convening high-level international public and private sector leaders to discuss scaling actionable solutions to unlock climate finance flows towards developing countries, with a particular focus on Africa. Mustapha MOKASS, Founder & CEO of BEYA Capital stated “Women are the backbone of Africa food security and Climate change mitigation. Empowering them equals empowering the world”. He added “we are proud to join Believe in Africa in this historical event to showcasing concrete financial solutions to African women entrepreneurs’ projects to Climate Change Adaptation as a prelude to the upcoming gathering of GCFA Investors Platform on September 18/19 during NY Climate Week and during upcoming COP23 in Bonn (Germany).”
To drive our stimulating BIA 2017 agenda, we welcome our strategic partners, Washington Media Group, Reseau des Femmes Artisanes du Maroc (RESFAM), Africa 24 TV, Forbes Africa, AllAfrica.com, Horizon Africa, Inside Consulting … and others will soon be joining us in moving our agenda forward.
Believe in Africa (www.believeinafrica.org) is an African diaspora-led initiative founded by former U.S. congressional staffers and African leaders in the U.S. to empower Women and young Africans, to harness the power of the African Diaspora, educate policy makers and the public about African economic growth and highlight the continent’s gradual rise in the global community.
Africa: Tribute to Babacar Ndiaye – Titan of Africa
July 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Harold E. Doley, Jr*
New Orleans — The Greek mythological Titan of Forethought, Prometheus, dared to disobey Zeus’ wishes by sharing fire and heat with humanity. His punishment was to be shackled to the Caucasus Mountains (The derivation of Caucasian comes from the people of the Caucasus Mountains.).
This humane act for humankind led to eternal condemnation. Each day, the eagles ate Prometheus’s organs, but because he was a Titan (i.e. god), the organs grew back. Prometheus endured this daily fate until Hercules broke his chains.
Babacar Ndiaye, who passed away in Dakar yesterday, lived the life of Prometheus. He did what he knew was right and paid the price many times over.
Many people that he helped throughout his life hurt him and hurt him dearly. I personally saw him reconcile with each one of those people, even though just one of those blows could have been mortal.
Babacar was a religious man who knew the Koran as well as the Old and New Testaments and understood that we are all One. He recognized that Ishmael, Abraham’s first son, was the forbearer of Islam. He knew the Old Testament teachings that Noah son Ham’s descendants are Black, cursed to always be the servant of servants (slaves). In the New Testament, Babacar liked to point out that two men carried the cross to Calvary, Jesus and Simon of Cyrene, a black man.
God and history created Babacar, who was a compilation of Prometheus, Ishmael, Ham and Simon of Cyrene.
Bababcar is recognized for his decade (1985-1995) as president of the African Development Bank (AfDB). What is lesser known is that he orchestrated the quadrupling of the capital of that Bank and that he secured the first AAA rating for an African institution or sovereign country. He also was instrumental in creating Shelter Afrique, the African Export-Import Bank and the African Business Roundtable.
One little known anecdote is that – when the superpowers agreed in 1991 that the next Secretary General of the United Nations should be an African – Babacar Ndiaye was next in line for the position, had Boutros Boutros-Ghali not prevailed following a stalemate in the voting. Another unknown gem is that Babacar was asked by Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi to deliver his wish to Washington to reconcile with the United States.
Perhaps most important was Babacar’s behind-the-scenes contribution to ending apartheid. In 1985, the year Babacar became AfDB President, Hughlyn Fierce, senior executive vice president of Chase Bank in New York, won approval for the Bank to refuse to renew the debt of South Africa. This decision immediately put the white government in default, forcing the closure of the foreign currency exchange window and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
Less than 60 days later, President P.W. Botha gave his Rubicon speech in Durban and spoke of the ‘new’ South Africa. Within a matter of weeks, Nelson Mandela was moved from prison to a halfway house, and the lengthy negotiations that led to the country’s first non-racial elections in 1994 were underway.
Babacar quietly supported Chase Bank in extraordinary ways, and It was the cooperation of these two men of color – Fierce and Ndiaye – which helped to bring about this remarkable change.
Throughout his career, Babacar handled tens of billions of dollars. Yet he did not die a wealthy man in monetary terms. What he accomplished was to do his job extraordinarily well.
Now that his earthly chains have been broken, we need not cry for Babacar. We should, however, mourn the fact that Africa has lost a great titan to whom we all are indebted..
*Allafrica.Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr. (Ret.) was the first U.S. Executive Director to the African Development Bank and Fund.
South Africa: U.S. Rapper Kendrick Lamar Found South Africa ‘Illuminating’
July 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Melody Chironda*
Cape Town — Comedian Dave Chappelle had the opportunity to chat with hip-hop rapper Kendrick Lamar for Interview Magazine.
Their conversation finds them touching on the few things they have in common, including their love of hip-hop, and being black and famous. They also bonded over the experience of visiting Africa, with Lamar specifically pointing to his visit to South Africa as his “I made it” moment.
The rapper talks about how going to South Africa was an illuminating experience;
“I went to South Africa – Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg – and those were definitely the ‘I’ve arrived’ shows,” Lamar said. “Outside of the money, the success, the accolades… This is a place that we, in urban communities, never dream of. We never dream of Africa. Like, ‘Damn, this is the motherland.’ You feel it as soon as you touch down. That moment changed my whole perspective on how to convey my art.’
Lamar kicked off his DAMN tour on July 12, but he is not touring any African countries – yet.
You can read the full interview here…
Countdown to Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering 2018 Kigali begins
July 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
KIGALI,Rwanda, 10 July 2017 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- On the heels of a successful Africa Science Week, the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) announces the NEF Global Gathering 2018 will be held 26-28 March 2018. An initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the NEF will hold its second global forum for science in Kigali, Rwanda, under the patronage of H.E. President Paul Kagame.
“We’ve started the countdown to the NEF Global Gathering 2018 where more than a thousand of Africa’s and the world’s brightest minds will gather to highlight the contributions of Africa’s scientists and innovators to the global scientific community, discuss good science policy and how to go from policy to implementation and see the impact of global scientific research on daily life. Our aim is to highlight a holistic approach to doing science and technology, one that encourages cutting edge research and development, and incubation and commercialization with a central focus on how science can help achieve sustainable development and reduce poverty and inequality,” said Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, AIMS President and CEO and NEF Chair.
The NEF Global Gathering 2018, in line with the NEF’s Dakar Declaration, will focus on four areas under the central theme of Connecting Science to Humanity: Connectivity, Ubiquity and Mobility; Precision Health; Climate, Energy, Food and Growth; and building Africa’s Scientific Capacity. Participants will hear from Nobel laureates and renowned scientists, early career researchers and budding innovators, policy and civil society leaders, and leaders of industry.
To Ben and Fatmata, a long and loving life, wherever it may take you!
July 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Banning Eyre*
The marriage of Ben Bangoura and Fatmata Koroma was one for the ages, as the union of two talented and accomplished professionals also became a rich encounter between two West African diaspora communities, Guinea and Sierra Leone. There was blazing sunshine and pouring rain, sacred song and jubilant dancing, fine words and fine food, and overall, a tremendous feeling of community and celebration.
I first met Ben in Conakry in 1993 when I was doing music research for public radio’s Afropop Worldwide. As we made our way around town from interviews to rehearsals and concerts, Ben told me over and over that he had one objective in life: to come to America and be a journalist. And damn if he didn’t do it! Ben came to Boston the next year and stayed with me there for some time while he got his bearings, learning English, making connections, picking up on every aspect of American urban life he could. When I left Boston to live in Mali in 1995, Ben went to Washington, D.C. where he steadily worked himself into the city’s exhilarating milieu of politics and journalism. Ultimately, Ben created the popular website AlloConakry.com, where he reports on global affairs, as he always said he would.
In 2015, at the annual picnic of ECOWAS Ambassadors at Liberian Chancery, Ben spotted an attractive young woman photographing the event for Koshe’ Magazine. Assuming that she too might be a journalist, he struck up conversation. As it turned out, Fatmata was actually a public health professional, in fact Executive Director of Therapeutic Interventions Inc.. Ben invited Fatmata for coffee, and the rest is history. He told me, “She has everything I like in woman: beauty, charisma and intellect.”
The wedding took place in Hollywood, MD, at the Victorian Candle Bed & Breakfast, a spacious, whimsical house with 15 bedrooms and a sweeping view of hills and meadow. Fatmata’s Sierra Leonean parents—Susan Dexter and James Koroma—left their homeland in the early 1970s. Susan has since remarried Jim Dexter, and Susan and Jim build the magnificent Victorian Candle from scratch some twenty years ago. But Susan, James and Jim were all present for this wedding, and clearly proud of Fatmata, a sentiment shared by some 200 guests who came early and stayed late. Ben’s family was represented by his aunt, Aunt M’mah Bangoura, who lives in the Washington,DC, area.
People gathered in glorious afternoon sunshine, taking time to chat, survey the property and take photographs of the picturesque setting and distinguished crowd. Around 5PM, everyone made their way down to a tent in the meadow for the ceremony. It was a moving affair, graced by the gravitas one expects when two people commit their lives to one another. There was one fascinating moment during the vows. The Koroma family, present in number, are ardently Christian. Ben, as I knew well from my long experience with him, is a fairly devout Muslim. Even before Pastor Raymond Mani conducted the vows, he gently scolded Ben for not keeping to “protocol.” Perhaps Ben was just a tad too eager to kiss his bride! Perhaps the Pastor knew what was coming.
During the vows, Pastor Mani invited Ben to repeat after him the familiar set of vows heard at most weddings. But then came an unusual phrase. Ben was asked to say that theirs would be an “exclusively Christian marriage.” Ben paused, clearly not quite willing to use such a definitive phrase. Thinking fast, he said instead a “globally acceptable marriage by God.” The pastor let it pass!
With that, Ben established himself as a man of principle, lovingly embracing his new family’s faith, without abandoning his own.
As the married couple returned to the house on the hill, the sky was darkening. Earlier we had all sung a hymn called “Showers of Blessing.” Now they came, the first of two drenching downpours. (The other came late at night, when the toasts and tributes had turned to pure joyous dancing!) Luckily, the tent held, the crowd stayed and reassembled themselves as the sky cleared, producing a big, brilliant rainbow over the house. Then the reception rolled on, with grand dancing entrances from all the key relatives, and guests of honor. Susan Dexter, mother of the bride, most perfectly captured the spirit of the occasion, clearly overflowing with pride and joy, and winning the enthusiastic gratefulness of everyone present for anchoring such a marvelous wedding.
Other distinguished guests included Ambassador Francois Balumuene (Democratic Republic of Congo), Jan Du Plain ( President/CEO Du Plain Global Enterprises, Inc..), VOA journalist David Vandi, Cooki Collinet, Georges Collinet (host of Afropop Worldwide) and emcee for this event, Jeannine B. Scott, matron of honor Sheri Sesay-Tuffour, and best men Salif Justice and Mohamed Sako, Doris Car, aunt of the bride who traveled from London (UK) to attend the ceremony, as well as Ibrahim Gba-Kamara who came from Italy.
Amid the toasting, reference was made to the deeper history between Guinea and Sierra Leone. During Sierra Leone’s civil war, Guinea took in and protected many war refugees. “So this is not the first time our two countries have come together to do something important,” noted one toast master. It was food for thought. Not only was this unusual wedding a heartening display of Africa solidarity, across lines of language, nationality and faith; it was also an affirmation of the American dream, which has always been a story of the ambition and achievement of immigrants from far away lands.
To Ben and Fatmata, a long and loving life, wherever it may take you!
*Banning Eyre is Senior Producer, Afropop Worldwide .
Kenya Third Most Innovative Sub-Saharan Africa Country
July 8, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Kennedy Kangethe*
Nairobi — Kenya has been ranked the third most innovative country in sub-Saharan Africa.
The United Nations’ Global Innovation Index 2017 places Kenya third after South Africa and Mauritius.
The index which is in its 10th edition surveys some 130 economies using dozens of metrics, from patent filings to education spending providing decision makers a high-level look at the innovative activity that increasingly drives economic and social growth.
According to the report, sub-Saharan Africa draws its highest scores in institutions and market sophistication.
“Since 2012, sub-Saharan Africa has counted more “innovation achiever” countries than any other region. Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, Uganda, Malawi, Madagascar and Senegal stand out for being innovation achievers this year, and several times in the previous years,” the survey indicates.
Kenya is ranked number 80 globally, outperforming her development- level peers.
China is the exception at 22, in 2016; China became the first-ever middle-income economy in the top 25.
Israel continues to cement its status as a leader of global innovation according to the index.
The Jewish state ranked 17th overall in the report’s group of high-income countries, improving its standing by four places from 2016.
The Global Innovation Index 2017 is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO, a specialized agency of the United Nations).
“Efforts to bridge the innovation divide have to start with helping emerging economies understand their innovation strengths and weaknesses and create appropriate policies and metrics,” said Soumitra Dutta, Dean, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University.
The theme of the GII 2017, “Innovation Feeding the World,” looks at innovation carried out in agriculture and food systems.
Over the next decades, the agriculture and food sector will face an enormous rise in global demand and increased competition for limited natural resources.
In addition, it will need to adapt to and help mitigate climate change.
Innovation is key to sustaining the productivity growth required to meet this rising demand and to helping enhance the networks that integrate the sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management known as food systems.
“We are already witnessing the rapid, worldwide emergence of ‘digital agriculture,’ which includes drones, satellite-based sensors, and field robotics,” said Bruno Lanvin, INSEAD Executive Director for Global Indices.