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United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for African Countries Facing Severe Food Insecurity
March 7, 2018 | 0 Comments
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets participants during a meeting of African leaders at the State Department in Washington

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets participants during a meeting of African leaders at the State Department in Washington

Today, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced nearly $533 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, as well as countries in the Lake Chad region, where millions are facing life-threatening food insecurity and malnutrition as a result of ongoing conflict or prolonged drought.  While humanitarian aid is truly life-saving, this assistance will not solve these crises, most of which are largely manmade.

With this new funding from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United States is providing emergency food and nutrition assistance to help vulnerable populations, including tens of thousands of tons of in-kind food aid.  Additionally, the funding supports safe drinking water programs, emergency health care and hygiene programs to treat and prevent the spread of disease, and reunification of families separated by conflict.  This assistance also includes life-saving medical supplies, improved sanitation, and emergency shelter, and prioritizes programs that protect vulnerable groups.

Of the newly announced funds, nearly $184 million is for affected populations from South Sudan, more than $110 million for affected populations from Ethiopia, more than $110 million for affected populations from Somalia, and more than $128 million for affected populations from Nigeria and countries in the Lake Chad region.

In the Lake Chad region and South Sudan, years of conflict have led to acute food insecurity.  In Somalia, ongoing violence has exacerbated the humanitarian impacts of severe and protracted drought.  In Ethiopia, continued drought has worsened an already dire food security situation.  A swift influx of U.S. assistance, along with that of other donors, is helping improve humanitarian conditions in all of these countries.  But ultimately it is up to the leaders in these countries, particularly in South Sudan, to stop the violence and put the welfare of their citizens at the forefront of their actions.  Millions will continue to be at risk as long as parties to these conflicts continue to engage in violence.  The United States calls on all parties to allow aid workers safe and unhindered access to help communities in need.

The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance for these crises in Africa, providing nearly $3 billion since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017.  We commend the humanitarian contributions made by all donors, and encourage additional contributions to meet growing needs.

*State Department

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Ghana to pass RTI bill soon – Akufo-Addo
March 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has served notice he will give impetus to his fight against corruption by impressing on Parliament to pass the Right to Information Bill (RTI) before it goes on recess.

The RTI Bill has been gathering dust since 2013 when it first went to Parliament. The right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights. The bill will give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.

Speaking at the 61st Independence Day celebration at the Black Star Square on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, Ghana’s President promised the RTI will come to being to strengthen the fight against corruption.

“Fellow Ghanaians, corruption, or, more specifically, the stealing of public funds, continues to hold back the development of our nation. Corruption is not a partisan matter and we must all act to protect the public purse. With the office of the Special Prosecutor now in place we can expect more prosecutions for corruption in the coming months and public officials, present and past, should be on notice that they would be held accountable for their stewardship of our public finances,” he noted.

He added: “There is, however, one piece of the anti-corruption framework that is yet to be put in place; The Right to Information Act. It would increase transparency and add another critical weapon to the armoury in the fight against corruption. After many years of hesitation, we intend to bring a Bill again to Parliament and work to get it passed into law before the end of this meeting of Parliament.

“The protection of the public purse is a social common good, and it depends on all of us. It is in all our interest that corruption does not thrive, and we police each other’s behaviour. Going Beyond Aid means Ghanaians should not serve as fronts for foreign companies to defraud our country. It will mean we all pay our taxes, and it will mean we all help to take care of government property as though it were our own.”

He commended the Auditor General for his vigilance recently which saved the country well over Gh¢5.4 billion which “can certainly finance the Free SHS for five years.”

President Akufo-Addo said his government will continue to put in measures to block all leakages to ensure massive development in Ghana.

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Buhari commends Akufo-Addo over Special Prosecutor office
March 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Buhari and Akufo Addo

Buhari and Akufo Addo

Nigerian President Mahamudu Buhari has commended President Akufo-Addo for the creation of the office of special prosecutor to fight corruption.

According to him, the move will help in the continent’s quest to conquer the canker of corruption, which is pervasive in most African states.

“I commend government and parliament for the passage of the office of Special prosecutor. The office will help in the fight against the corruption canker on the continent, you have assurance in me as a good partner in the fight against corruption in Africa,” Mr. Buhari who is special guest at Ghana‘s ongoing 61st independence anniversary stated in Accra.

Ghana’s Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu was sworn into office a week ago after rigorous vetting by Parliament.

Mr. Buhari also commended Ghana’s President for the economic growth that has been recorded in the West African country since he assumed office.

“I want to congratulate you for the prudent economic steps that you have taken since you became president just over one year. All these efforts have made Ghana a good destination for foreign direct investment just like Nigeria”.

Ghana is 61 years today after gaining independence on 6th March 1957.

Independence Day parade is being held across the country with students and security personnel displaying their marching skills while saluting the national flag.

In the capital Accra,  President Akufo-Addo received the national salute at the Black Star Square. The Ghana Armed forces, the Police and other security agencies  put on display, the nation’s arsenal and state of preparedness for external and internal aggression.

 

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GHANA AT 61: I’m in a hurry, but realistic – Akufo-Addo
March 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Akufo Addo

Akufo Addo

President Akufo-Addo has said even though he is in a hurry to see Ghana prosper, he is also realistic that the growth he desires will not be achieved without pragmatic and deliberate efforts.

Delivering his Independence Day address at the Black Star square in Accra, Mr. Akufo-Addo said it is unacceptable for Ghana to be in its current state in spite of the resources at its disposal. “Ghana Beyond Aid is not a pie in the sky notion, other countries, including some of our peers at independence have done exactly that.  It is doable and we must believe that what others, with less resources, have done, we can do.

“However, we are not going to achieve the transformation in our economy which is necessary for a Ghana Beyond Aid by just talking about it. We have to DO something about it!,” he said.

He further stressed: “As a start, we have to do things differently. Business as usual will not do it. It cannot happen by waving a magic wand. And it cannot be achieved overnight. Indeed, the most rapid cases of economic and social transformation in history, those in South East Asia, generally spanned a period of about 30 years; about a generation. We cannot wait that long; we have wasted enough time already. We have to hurry but we must be realistic.

“To get to a Ghana Beyond Aid, we will have to effectively harness our own resources and creatively and efficiently deploy them for rapid economic and social transformation. This will require hard work, enterprise, creativity, and a consistent fight against corruption in public life. It will also require that we break from a mentality of dependency and adopt a confident can-do spirit, fuelled by love for our dear country, Ghana.  We cannot subordinate the common good to build a prosperous nation to the selfish interest of a few”.

The President also called on Ghanaians to help protect the public purse.

“To get to a Ghana Beyond Aid, we will have to effectively harness our own resources and creatively and efficiently deploy them for rapid economic and social transformation. This will require hard work, enterprise, creativity, and a consistent fight against corruption in public life. It will also require that we break from a mentality of dependency and adopt a confident can-do spirit, fuelled by love for our dear country, Ghana. We cannot subordinate the common good to build a prosperous nation to the selfish interest of a few.“Fellow Ghanaians, we have started on the right path with the concrete steps we are taking to restore macro-economic stability and economic growth”.

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Ghana beyond aid not a slogan; it’s doable – Akufo-Addo
March 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Akufo Addo

Akufo Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has boldly stated that the ‘Ghana beyond Aid’ mantra is not just a slogan but meant to propel us into the frame of mind that would quicken our pace of development.

The Ghanaian President delivering a speech during the 61st Independence Day Celebrations at the Black Star Square, stated that Ghana is not a poor country but a country blessed with immense natural resources adding that Ghanaians must be selfless and take advantage of the country’s natural resources to help transform the economy.

According to him, a ‘Ghana beyond Aid’ will not be achieved by merely talking but with the right attitudes and commitment from citizens, doing the right things and the willingness from all to see the country prosper and develop.

“My fellow Ghanaians, ours is a country that is well endowed with many natural resources such as gold, bauxite, diamonds, oil, timber, cocoa, water, fertile land etc. The truth, however, is that the state of our nation does not bear out that we have these natural endowments. Poverty continues to be our lot. We have huge infrastructural deficits.

“Mismanagement, corruption and high fiscal deficits have become the hallmarks of our economy, which we finance through borrowing and foreign aid. It is time to pursue a path to prosperity and self-respect for our nation. A Ghana Beyond Aid is a prosperous and self-confident Ghana that is in charge of its economic destiny. It is not a pie in the sky notion, other countries, including some of our peers at independence have done exactly that. It is doable and we must believe that what others, with less resources, have done, we can do.

“We are not going to achieve the transformation in our economy which is necessary for a Ghana Beyond Aid by just talking about it. We have to DO something about it! As a start, we have to do things differently. Business as usual will not do it. It cannot happen by waving a magic wand. And it cannot be achieved overnight. Indeed, the most rapid cases of economic and social transformation in history, those in South East Asia, generally spanned a period of about 30 years; about a generation. We cannot wait that long; we have wasted enough time already. We have to hurry but we must be realistic.

“To get to a Ghana Beyond Aid, we will have to effectively harness our own resources and creatively and efficiently deploy them for rapid economic and social transformation. This will require hard work, enterprise, creativity, and a consistent fight against corruption in public life. It will also require that we break from a mentality of dependency and adopt a confident can-do spirit, fuelled by love for our dear country, Ghana. We cannot subordinate the common good to build a prosperous nation to the selfish interest of a few.

“Ghana Beyond Aid is meant to be more than a slogan. It is meant to propel us into the frame of mind that would quicken our pace of development. It is meant to change our mindset from one of dependency to one of achieving our destiny. It is meant to put us in charge of our own affairs and make us truly independent.”

 

 

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Shepherd Bushiri: Meeting the man who ‘walks on air’
March 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Pumza Fihlani*

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri

There is clapping, dancing, jumping up and down as he makes his way into the hall, flanked by bodyguards.

Such is the excitement that a few of the congregants – some of whom have been waiting patiently for five hours to catch a glimpse of the man – collapse.

But why wouldn’t you? After all, this is a man who says he has cured people of HIV, made the blind see, changed the fortunes of the impoverished and, on at least one occasion, appeared to walk on air.

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri has come a long way from his upbringing in Mzuzu, a city in northern Malawi.

Nowadays, he can fill sports stadiums with tens of thousands of his devoted followers – followers who are prepared to travel across the world to see him preach in person.

He has regular visitors from the US, the UK and even Asia – today their flags fly proudly inside the packed church hall at the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Ministries.

I meet the man known as “Major One” in his church complex in the South African capital, Pretoria.

We have been ushered into his sanctuary, which is marked by a red-velvet rope and a red carpet lined by bodyguards on either side.

Healing the lame

The 30-something preacher is well aware of the allegations he is little more than a scam artist, but they are accusations he shrugs off.

“My ministry is not for everyone, it is for those who have faith,” he tells me. “I’m just a messenger of God’s work. God heals people in our meetings.

“One time I got doctors here in Pretoria to bring patients with HIV – they tested them before to show they are HIV, I prayed for them and again afterwards and now they were HIV-negative.”

Presentational grey line

Who is Shepherd Bushiri?

  • Malawi-born “prophet” who now runs churches from Ghana to South Africa
  • Reportedly banned from Botswana over “miracle money”
  • Claims to have cured people of HIV
  • Appeared to walk on air in a video shared widely on social media
  • Owns four private jets
Presentational grey line
This "miracle oil" is on sale outside the church

This “miracle oil” is on sale outside the church

Outside the room, his followers agree. They believe he is not only imbued with the power of prophecy, but also to heal the sick and pray for one’s prosperity.

“The miracles and the teachings that our father [Prophet Bushiri] teaches every week are so amazing,” 24-year-old Xolani Msibi tells me.

She said her sister who had trouble walking had been healed by the prophet “without even laying hands on her”.

“I’ve also been struggling to get a job and came here and I got two jobs at the same time and it was a matter of choosing.”

Men and women who proclaim to be able perform miracles are not unique to South Africa or even the continent – they are found in many parts of the world.

These include US-based Israeli church leader Benny Hinn, Grace Copeland and German evangelist Rienhard Bonnke to name a few.

While Christianity has been well-established in Africa for more than a century, many believe the more radical form we see today has some traces to the charismatic movement abroad.

‘Prosperity inspires my followers’

But back to Mr Bushiri. On a regular Sunday, about 40,000 people will gather to hear the Prophet preach, and potentially pick up some of the specially designed merchandise on sale at stalls dotted around the large church complex – anything from “miracle oil”, calendars and wrist bands, to branded towels, T-shirts and caps, all emblazoned with his face.

The vendors tell patrons that all the wares have been prayed over by Mr Bushiri and so have healing powers.

Over the years Mr Bushiri has amassed vast wealth. What about those who question how he has accrued the money?

“Racism,” he tells the BBC.

There is no readily available record of his net worth but he is known to have interests in several mines and owns four private planes and a number of hotels through his investment company Shepherd Bushiri Investments, headquartered in Johannesburg’s plush suburb of Sandton.

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri entering a planeImage copyrightECG MINISTRIES
Image captionHe does not believe that preachers should live modest lives

Questions over the manner in which his fortune was amassed are not exactly welcomed.

“My success should inspire people to be entrepreneurs,” he says.

“I am a businessman and that is separate from being a prophet. My prosperity is from private businesses. Such questions are not asked from leaders of white churches but when an African man prospers, then it’s a problem.”

Then, slightly agitated, he adds: “How is selling merchandise in my church different to the Catholic church selling a rosary and the UK churches selling the bible? It’s not fair.”

*BBC

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Top 10 Breathtaking Landmarks and Natural Wonders in Africa
March 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

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The African renaissance monument in Dakar,Senegal

The African renaissance monument in Dakar,Senegal

Africa is referred to as the cradle of mankind and a continent of cultural diversity. Some of the world’s most famous natural wonders and man-made phenomena are found on the continent. Here are a few breathtaking natural attractions and landmarks in Africa you should know about.

10. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro is considered to be one of the tallest mountains in the world. This natural phenomenon is approximately 19,341 feet (Link 1) above sea level. The free-standing mountain is located in Tanzania and near the Kilimanjaro National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site member. The mountain is a stratovolcano that began forming in layers of hardened volcanic ash about a million years ago. The last volcanic activity occurred some 200 years back. Thousands of tourists visit Mount Kilimanjaro every year and most visitors engage in hiking. The first people to ascend to the top of the mountain were geographer Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller. Kilimanjaro is known as one of Africa’s ice-capped mountains and it takes approximately 6-8 nights to ascend the mountain.

Kilimanjaro is photo-friendly so please do not forget your camera for capturing memorable moments. After hiking, visitors can treat themselves to some fine East African cuisines served at various restaurants and hotels.

9. Table Mountain, Cape Town

The Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa. The highest point is 3,563 feet above sea level and the mountain is one of the most photographed places in the world. The natural wonder continues to attract millions of visitors from around the world.

Most people enjoy partaking in hiking to the top of the mountain.
Antonio de Saldanha was the first person (Link 2) to hike and reach the mountain peak in 1503. In addition, Saldanha named the mountain Taboa do Cabo which means Table of the Cape. Visitors who choose not to hike can use the cableway transport system which was first established in 1929. The transport system has the capacity to carry about 60 people. The mountain is believed to be one of the oldest in the world with rocks that are approximately 600 million years old. The types of animals found on the phenomena are snakes, birds, porcupines, lizards, and frogs. The plant life is mostly endemic and approximately 2,200 species of plants are found on the mountain.

8. The Fish River Canyon, Namibia

The Fish River Canyon is located in the south of Namibia close to the border of South Africa. The canyon gets its name from the Fish River in Namibia. The river is the longest in the country at approximately 403 miles making it one of the longest in Africa. The canyon formed through wind and water erosion with the help of tectonic plate movements.

The natural phenomenon stretches for 100 miles and approximately 550 meters (Link 3) deep. The formation is the second largest canyon in the world behind the Grand Canyon. The animal life includes zebras, leopards, scorpions, baboons and birds. Archeologists have found evidence of human existence dating back 50,000 years ago. The canyon is one of southern Africa’s most popular hiking trails with thousands of people visiting each year. Between the months of May to September, visitors can safely and comfortably hike the canyon. The river is seasonal and only flows from January to April.

7. The Sahara Desert, North Africa

This desert is the third largest in the world and stretches for approximately 3.6 million square miles across North Africa. Can you guess the name of this landmark? The Sahara desert has sand dunes that reach up to 590 feet in height making it a massive sea of soil. The desert covers parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia. The natural wonder is home to different animal species like cheetahs, scorpions, and camels among others.

The Sahara is made up of sand seas, sand dunes, stone plateaus, gravel plains, mountains, rivers, oases and dry valleys. The daytime temperatures are as high as 86 and 100 Fahrenheit respectively. Strong winds called the sirocco (Link 4) originate in the Sahara with winds blowing at 62 miles per hour. A dry landmark, the desert only receives about 3.9 inches of rain per year.

Despite the extremely dry conditions, plants and trees are still found in the Sahara. Acacia trees and palms are able to survive high temperatures. The first European explorers to tour the Sahara were Friedrich Horneman in 1805 and Mungo Park in 1806.

6. Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

Believed to be one of the most magnificent man-made structures in history, the Pyramid of Giza stands tall on the outskirts of Cairo. After approximately 4000 years, the pyramid is still generating debate as to who built the historical landmark. Approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone averaging about 2.5 tons each (Link 5) had to be cut and assembled to build the pyramid. The sides of the pyramid’s base average about 755.75 feet and a height of 481.4 feet. The phenomenon was constructed for Khufu who was the second of the eight kings of the fourth Egyptian dynasty.

The pyramid was used to bury Egyptian kings and establish a tradition. The angled sides symbolizing the rays of the sun meant to help the king’s soul ascend to heaven. To properly care for the king’s spirit, the corpse would be mummified and the body would be buried with everything it needed in the afterlife.

According to Greek historian named Herodotus, it took about 20 years to build the Pyramid of Giza and a workforce of 100,000 men. In recent years, archeological evidence has indicated that it took the labor of about 20,000 people. The pyramid continues to attract millions of visitors from around the world each year.

5. Kano City Walls, Nigeria

Built in order to provide security for a growing population, the Kano City Walls are an 8.69-mile radius man-made structure in northern Nigeria. Sakri Gijimasu initiated (Link 6) the construction of the walls from 1095-1134. The walls were completed in the middle of the 14th century during the reign of Zamnagawa. The man-made structure had gates that controlled the movement of people in and out of the city. Built using mud bricks and logs of wood, the walls stood at a height of about 50 feet after construction. Archeologists visit the walls to conduct research each year and make ground-breaking discoveries.

The Kano City Walls are a major tourist destination welcoming people from all around the world.

4.The Nile River

(Photo by Antonio RIBEIRO/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Africa is home to one of the longest rivers in the world. The Nile River is the world’s longest with a length of about 4,132 miles and spreading across an area of about 1,293,000 (Link 7) square miles. The Nile waters flow at an average of about 79.2 billion gallons per day.
The river basin includes parts of Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Egypt. The river is formed by three streams which are the Blue Nile, White Nile, and the Atbara. In ancient times, the Nile helped in the advancement of civilizations and transportation that made trade easy.

The Nile contains different species of snakes, hippopotamus, rhinoceroses and crocodiles. The name ‘Nile’ originates from the Greek word ‘neilos’ which means river. Millions of people visit parts of the Nile to take pictures, ride on boats and for sightseeing.

3. African Renaissance Monument, Senegal

(Kite Aerial Photography)

Located on a hill in Dakar, is a bronze statue overlooking Senegal’s capital city. The African renaissance monument stands tall at a height of 160 feet(Link 8) and represents the importance of family in African culture. The statue which was inaugurated in 2010 shows a man holding his child and a woman. The child points ahead indicating Africa’s glorious future, while the woman extends her arm behind to indicate the continent’s troubled past. A man with a bare chest torso holds the child in one arm while guiding the woman with the other arm.

The statue was designed by a Senegalese architect named Pierre Goudiaby Atepa and co-signed by former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade. Today, the architectural masterpiece continues to attract visitors from all parts of the world. The must-visit monument contains conference rooms, cultural exhibitions and a floor at the top of the statue that allows visitors a bird’s eye view of the Atlantic Ocean.

2. Great Zimbabwe Ruins, Zimbabwe

Magnificent stone ruins of an African city are found in the southeastern part of Zimbabwe and situated about 19 miles from the town of Masvingo. The Great Zimbabwe ruins were built in the 11th century and were home to a population of about 20,000 local Shona people.
The construction of the ruins was carried out using granite boulders and rectangular rock blocks. The walls have a width of about 20 feet and a height of 36 feet (Link 9). In addition, the monument was built using no mortar but the large granite boulders are still stacked together after thousands of years.

The ruins are divided into three main areas which are the Hill Complex, the Great Enclosure, and the Valley Ruins. Soapstone figurines in the form of a bird were found at the ruins and later became a national symbol found on the country’s flag. Items like gold, Chinese porcelain, and metal ornaments provide evidence that Great Zimbabwe was engaged in extensive trade with other nations. The ruins became a national monument and selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site member in 1986.

  1. Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

The continent of Africa is blessed with numerous national parks and a variety of animal species. The Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda is located where the Nile runs through a narrow gorge that becomes a river. The park was established in 1952 and occupies an area of about 1,483 square miles.

The park contains a variety of vegetation comprised of savannah, woodland and riverine forests. In addition, the park is home to Africa’s “big five” animals which include elephants, buffalos, rhinos, lions, and leopards.

The nature wonder is halved by the Nile River and the falls are 120 feet in height and 23 feet wide. In addition, the water pours over the falls at a speed of around 11,000 cubic feet per second. Visitors can enjoy sailing on a boat or hiking.
Famous people who have visited the park include Prime Minister Winston Churchill and

President Theodore Roosevelt. Churchill described the park as “Kew Gardens (Link 10) and the zoo combined on an unlimited scale.”

*Previously published in All Black Media

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African broadband operators increase investment to meet soaring data demand
March 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
An urgent requirement for new investment into telecom and broadband infrastructure in Africa is driving a fresh flurry of deal activity across the continent, says TMT Finance
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, March 5, 2018/ — An urgent requirement for new investment into telecom and broadband infrastructure in Africa is driving a fresh flurry of mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, investment and financing activity, as the region’s key players jostle for position to meet the soaring demand for data across the continent, says global news provider, TMT Finance (www.TMTFinance.com).

Joseph d’Arrast, EMEA Editor, TMT Finance said: “The continent’s growth in the digital economy and the rising demand for data is helping to boost investor confidence in major broadband projects, of which there are many currently underway or in the pipeline. In response to this, many telcos, investors and specialised operators are looking to plough significant amounts of money into key projects, with a number of IPOs, new capex financing and M&A also in the pipeline,” he added.

To discuss the next wave of opportunities, chief executives and leading heads of finance and strategy from Africa’s key broadband infrastructure companies, private equity investors and telecom operators are meeting on a dedicated panel at TMT Finance Africa in Cape Town 2018 (www.TMTFinance.com/capetown) on March 15.

The TMT Broadband Infrastructure panel, which will discuss strategies for regional growth, includes: Nic Rudnick, CEO, Liquid Telecom; Brandon Doyle, CEO, Convergence Partners; Byron Clatterbuck, CEO, SEACOM; Brian Jakins, Managing Director of Africa, Intelsat; and Thomas Hintze, CEO, Wananchi Telecom; and will be chaired by Keith Webb, Investment Banking, Infrastructure Finance, Rand Merchant Bank.

Over 70 key speakers have been announced for the event, with CxOs and senior executives also confirmed from companies including Vodacom, Telkom BCX, MTN, Standard Bank, American Tower Corp, Millicom, Google, Econet Wireless, MainOne, Teraco, Alcatel Submarine Networks, DLA Piper, IFC World Bank, Rack Centre, Investec Asset Management, Citi and Credit Suisse.

Other key session themes announced include: Telecom Leadership Africa; Digital Africa; Mobile Tower Strategies; Mergers and Acquisitions; Private Equity Africa; Spectrum sharing; Regulation and Policy; Financing TMT; Investing in Mobile Data and Services; Mobile Payments and Banking, Fintech and M-Health; and Media and Convergence.

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How electricity changes lives: a Rwandan case study
March 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By *

Men transporting a large bag in the Muvumba river valley in Kigali. A massive Rwandan electrification programme sets out to benefit rural communities. Shutterstock

Men transporting a large bag in the Muvumba river valley in Kigali. A massive Rwandan electrification programme sets out to benefit rural communities. Shutterstock

More than 1.1 billion people in developing countries lack access to electricity. Some 590 million live in Africa, where the rural electrification rate is particularly low at only 14%.

A lack of access to electricity hampers development. It affects everything from people’s ability to learn to the creation of enterprises and the provision of public services like health care. This lies behind the United Nation’s goal of countries achieving universal access to electricity by 2030.

But the investment requirements to meet this goal are enormous. According to the International Energy Agency investments worth $640 billion will be needed if the UN goal is going to be met. About $19 billion is required every year in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

In spite of the importance of electrification, little evaluation has been done on the socioeconomic impact of investments into providing power. We set about plugging this gap in our paper that focuses on Rwanda. We looked at the effects of electrification on households, firms, health centres and schools in rural areas.

Rwanda has implemented one of the most comprehensive electrification programmes in the world. In 2009 only 6% of Rwandans had access to electricity. The government’s aim is to lift this to 70% by 2018.

We studied the connection behaviour and electricity consumption patterns of households and looked at socioeconomic outcomes – such as education, income and health. We also explored the effects of electrification on the uptake of appliances as well as on rural firms and on health centres.

We found that electrification had wide-ranging effects on the living conditions of households whose daily lives were made easier on a range of fronts. We also found that the supply of power had some positive effects on certain businesses and clinics. Overall, our research confirms the importance of electrification has for the rural poor.

Yet, in our final analysis we had two major reservations. The first was that the provision of electricity hadn’t significantly improved the economic lives of people – which is often used to justify the massive costs involved in expanding the grid to all areas of the country.

The second insight was that, given people’s very low levels of consumption (households consume on average around 2 kWh per month per person which is less than 6% of the electricity an average US-American consumes per day), it would make much more sense to extend electricity coverage by promoting off-grid solutions such as solar. This would lead to governments and citizens getting much more bang for their buck.

These reservations aside, our research showed how electricity in the home changes lives, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

Impact on household level

Among the households we studied we found that lighting consumption had more than tripled among connected households around two years after connecting to the electricity grid.

We also found that having electric lighting yielded significant benefits for households who have done away with torches, wick and hurricane lamps. For example, kids’ study time at home increased by between 19 and 44 minutes after nightfall, although the total time children study did not increase. The reason is that children shift their study time from daytime to nighttime, which nonetheless is an important indication for increased flexibility.

Electricity also had an impact on access to information. The most frequently bought electrical appliances after connection were TVs, radios and mobile phones.

Another major effect of electrification was that it significantly reduced expenditures on energy. The average amount that connected households spent on grid electricity was 1,500 FRW (about $2) per month after they had replaced traditional energy sources like kerosene and batteries. And they no longer needed to spend money on charging their mobile phones outside their homes. In total, they reduced expenditures on energy by around $2.50, which is an equivalent of about 4% of their total monthly expenditure.

Impacts on enterprises and health centres

Another major impact was that it extended people’s average waking hours by nearly an hour. We found that people were awake for 50 minutes per day more on average because they had better access to lighting and entertainment devices.

People didn’t necessarily use this additional time to pursue income generating activities. In fact, we didn’t find that electrification affected how people, many of whom were farmers, generated income.

We found that it had only a tiny effect on micro enterprises like mills, hairdressers, copy shops and welding shops. Mills were the main beneficiaries of being connected to the grid. Most switched from diesel engines to electricity. And new mills emerged because input costs were dramatically reduced and productivity increased.

Hairdressing shops also benefited for cost and convenience reasons. They used electricity for razors, phone charging services and radio or TV to entertain. Before grid electricity they had used power sources such as car batteries which were expensive and cost a lot to run.

Small kiosks, bars and restaurants mostly used electricity for lighting and in a few cases for radio, TV or refrigeration. Electricity meant that they were more attractive to customers.

Overall, we observed only a slight increase in business activities in connected communities. Some enterprises emerged while existing operations marginally extended their operating hours or their range of products and services.

In the case of health centres, those that had been connected to the grid said their work had improved. According to answers to an open question, the main use of grid electricity was for lighting (100%), followed by use for medical machines (79%) and for administrative tasks (43%). Nearly 30% cited medicine storage and sterilising.

The most important benefit was that it reduced costs. Centres that weren’t connected paid three times more for power because they used diesel.

A mixed solution

Our research showed that electricity is highly appreciated by rural communities in Rwanda, often leading to cost reductions and increases in convenience. But it does not significantly transform economic activities and income generation in rural areas.

The fact that electricity consumption levels are generally very low raises the political question of whether the high investment cost of on-grid electrification is justified compared to the lower cost of off-grid solutions. Especially the cost of off-grid solar technologies have decreased considerably in recent years and, while their performance is obviously lower, they still improve the living conditions quite substantially.

These observations suggest that instead of rolling out the grid to every rural village, on-grid investments could be concentrated in certain thriving rural regions with high business potential to create industrial zones where firms could relocate to. Off-grid solar could serve as a bridging technology for the majority of rural areas, potentially accompanied by subsidies to ensure access for the poor who cannot afford paying cost covering prices. Such an integrated on-grid-off-grid strategy would enable industrial development and at the same time achieve broad access to electricity at relatively low cost.

*Source The Conversation.Dr Maximiliane Sievert from RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Researchcoauthored this article.

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What’s at stake in Sierra Leone’s critical elections
March 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

The ruling APC is resilient, but the main opposition SLPP and newly-minted NGC are launching strong challenges to change Sierra Leone’s direction.

BY FODEI BATTY*

A voter at the polling booth in Sierra Leone’s 2012 elections. Credit: Commonwealth Secretariat.

A voter at the polling booth in Sierra Leone’s 2012 elections. Credit: Commonwealth Secretariat.

On 7 March, Sierra Leoneans will head to the polls to vote in general elections that could hold critical significance for the country’s democracy.

The results could go in one of two directions. On the one hand, the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) could retain power despite widespread dissatisfaction with its record. This would allow it another five years in office during which it might continue a worrying creep away from open democratic practices. It would also mean outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma will have succeeded in his attempts to monopolise power and get his unilaterally anointed successor, former Foreign Minister Samura Kamara, into office.

On the other hand, the election could see an opposition party emerge victorious. We would have to wait and see how the new government would approach Sierra Leone’s many challenges, but the country would witness another remarkable transfer of power, as occurred in 2007. This outcome would cement Sierra Leoneans’ reputation for being an unforgiving electorate.

In the short-term, a change of power could also see faith restored in Sierra Leone’s respect for rule of law following some concerning recent trends. In 2015, for instance, the president sacked his popular deputy, Sam Sumana, in the middle of the Ebola epidemic. The regional ECOWAS court later ruled that Koroma had acted unconstitutionally and the state should pay damages. Then, as his second term approached its end, Koroma’s supporters launched a campaign branded “more time”. They suggested the Constitution’s two-term limit should be changed to allow the incumbent “more time” to allow for time lost from dealing with the Ebola crisis. Concerned Sierra Leoneans and pressure from the international community eventually got them to back down.

A resilient APC against a divided opposition

Heading into elections, most political parties with the APC’s governance record would be destined for defeat. After all, the major issues of the campaign include: the dismal state of the economy; chronic youth unemployment; the embezzlement of donor funds during the Ebola epidemic; the mismanagement of relief contributions for the victims of the 2017 mudslides; unprovable allegations of presidential aspirants with dual citizenship that should disqualify them from running; and numerous other corruption scandals.

However, despite these challenges and the popular discourse of “change” in the election campaign, it is difficult to predict how the electorate will vote. There are also concerns over whether the results will ultimately reflect the will of the people and be free and fair.

The APC remains a resilient party with significant bases of support. Its prospects going into the vote will be boosted as much by its claimed political mastery and “99 tactics” for winning elections as by its use of intimidation and violence as well as by the advantages of incumbency.

Its chances of winning are also bolstered by the divided nature of the opposition. Sixteen political parties have fielded presidential nominees. However, among them, only two stand a real chance of ousting the APC. The first is Julius Maada Bio of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). The second is Kandeh Yumkella of the newly-minted National Grand Coalition (NGC). The other candidates are, at best, hoping to position themselves well for juicy appointments in the next government in return for their support.

Bio and Yumkella

Except for their length, there is little that differentiates the manifestos offered by the various parties. In a country where half the population is illiterate, most parties’ voluminous documents look more like bids to international donors than appeals to the people.

Only the NGC’s policy proposals arguably stand out for their transformative potential. The rest largely offer the usual suggestions of diversifying and increasing the country’s revenue base from mining and of tackling corruption. Many voters are likely to be more swayed by the specific candidates on offer and by the records and reputations of the parties.

On this front, the SLPP may be at a demographic disadvantage. Over 40% of potential voters are under the age of 25. This means they are too young to remember the SLPP’s time in office, an era which can be looked on favourably when compared to the difficult past decade under the APC.

The SLPP’s presidential flag-bearer can also be seen as a weakness. Maada Bio was a member of the National Provisional Ruling Council, the military junta that ousted the APC in a coup d’état nearly 26 years ago. Although he has campaigned feverishly across the country in his second run at the presidency, popular opinion suggests he has not managed to shake off doubts regarding his credentials to be president in a democratic Sierra Leone.

There are also persistent claims that Bio has not been gainfully employed since leaving office and handing power over to a civilian administration in 1996. A popular refrain about his candidacy asks: “How is he going to create jobs for the unemployed youth when he himself has not held a job for over 20 years?”

By contrast, the NGC’s leader is a clear asset to his party’s prospects. The charismatic Kandeh Yumkella, an agricultural economist and former head of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, has emerged as the X factor in these elections. He previously wanted to be the flagbearer for the SLPP, the party his father helped found, but instead broke rank and formed the NGC last year. He has a relatively clean track record and, in the 15 February presidential debate, demonstrated a firm understanding of the issues.

Whereas Bio and Kamara are haunted by allegations of past corruption, supporters see Yumkella as the change-agent who could rescue the country. He has conducted a sophisticated campaign around the themes of transformation and national cohesion, while avoiding the kinds of negative calls to ethnic division that have been evident in past contests.

Focusing on the issues

If nothing else, the arrival of the NGC – which some critics dismiss as a merger of disgruntled former SLPP and APC members – has contributed to the detribalisation of Sierra Leonean politics heading into the elections. This means that, for the first time since early independence in the 1960s, Sierra Leoneans are hearing more genuine policy debates rather than simple appeals to primordial loyalties.

To be clear, there are still lingering claims of ethnicity surrounding various campaigns, but many of these are also drowned out by the mixed nature of most tickets. It is early days, but Sierra Leone’s politics and voters only stand to benefit as the focus shifts slowly away from candidate’s identities towards a deeper discussion of bread and butter issues.

How this plays out on 7 March remains to be seen. The outcome from Sierra Leone’s date with destiny is difficult to predict.

For the ruling APC, another five years would allow it to consolidate its rule and crystallise the direction in which the country is heading. For those worried by that prospect, this is an election the opposition cannot afford to lose.

*Fodei Batty PhD is an associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT, USA. This piece is culled from African Arguments

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African SMEs Set to Benefit from USD 74M Guarantee
March 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

SMEs in Africa’s infrastructure sector to benefit from African Guarantee Fund’s increased capacity through GuarantCo’s re-guarantee facility

Felix BIKPO- Chief Executive Officer , AGF and Lasitha PERERA- Chief Executive Officer, GuarantCo

Felix BIKPO- Chief Executive Officer , AGF and Lasitha PERERA- Chief Executive Officer, GuarantCo

LONDON, United Kingdom, March 2, 2018/ — The African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (AGF) (www.AfricanGuaranteeFund.com) has today entered into a re- guarantee transaction of an amount of up to USD 74 million with GuarantCo (www.GuarantCo.com), to increase its guarantee capacity for SME financing. SME’s have a large and growing impact on GDP in emerging markets and are a key source of job creation. Strengthening Africa’s infrastructure is critical for development as it is through this that African countries become more competitive at a global level. With this increased capacity, AGF will be able to support larger local currency transactions for SMEs involved in infrastructure.

Over the past 6 years, AGF has led the guarantee market in Africa by issuing financial guarantees to a tune of USD 690 million. This has enabled its partner financial institutions to issue loans estimated at USD 729 million to about 7600 African SMEs. GuarantCo is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group, (PIDG), and is a global guarantee fund that has issued over USD 900 million of guarantees since inception in 2005 with a mandate to enable local currency finance for infrastructure.

While commenting on the GuarantCo AGF partnership, Felix BIKPO, AGF’s Chief Executive Officer stated, “AGF is glad to be joined by GuarantCo in bridging the infrastructure financing gap. This partnership aims to put in place an even stronger collaboration that will work on the entire value chain of infrastructure projects in Africa. We are looking forward to supporting other SMEs that work with key players in the infrastructure sector.”

Lasitha PERERA, GuarantCo’s Chief Executive Officer said “We are delighted to be able to partner with the African Guarantee Fund and increase support to SMEs active in the infrastructure sector in Africa. This collaboration between two local currency focussed guarantors offers the potential for us to engage local financial institutions and investors in financing the entire value chain in an African infrastructure project.”

The transaction will enable AGF and GuarantCo to explore further partnership opportunities of working together in contributing towards economic growth in Africa.

About African Guarantee Fund
Officially launched on 1st June 2012, AGF (www.AfricanGuaranteeFund.com) is a Pan-African non-bank financial institution founded by the government of Denmark through the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the government of Spain through the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). Agence Française de Développement (AFD) joined AGF in 2015 followed by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) in 2016. AGF aims to promote economic development, increase employment and reduce poverty in Africa by providing financial institutions with guarantees and other similar or related financial products specifically intended to support SMEs in Africa. AGF has a rating of AA- by Fitch Ratings Agency. www.AfricanGuaranteeFund.com

About GuarantCo 
GuarantCo (www.GuarantCo.com) was established to mobilise local currency investment for infrastructure projects and support the development of financial markets in low income countries. GuarantCo is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG).
GuarantCo is supported by the governments of the UK, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia and is rated AA- by Fitch and A1 by Moodys. www.GuarantCo.com

About PIDG
The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) (www.PIDG.org) encourages and mobilises private investment in infrastructure in the frontier markets of sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-east Asia, to help promote economic development and combat poverty. Since 2002, PIDG has mobilised $31.4bn from private sector investors and DFIs, supported 154 infrastructure projects to financial close and provided 222 million people with access to new or improved infrastructure. PIDG is funded by donors from seven countries (UK, Switzerland, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany) and the World Bank Group. www.PIDG.org

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Leila Ndiaye Joins the Initiative for Global Development as Executive Vice-President
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

Ndiaye brings 25 years of experience as an African affairs expert and accomplished senior policy and business strategist

Leila Ndiaye

Leila Ndiaye

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 1, 2018 – The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) announced today the appointment of Leila Ndiaye to the position of Executive Vice-President of the Washington-based network of African and global business leaders who are committed to advancing sustainable development and inclusive growth through business investment.

Ndiaye, a native of Côte d’Ivoire and dual citizen of Senegal, will be responsible for driving the strategic direction for IGD’s programming and policy engagements, overseeing the growth of the Frontier Leader Network, and building strategic alliances with key stakeholders to advance organizational priorities.

With 25 years of experience as an African affairs expert and accomplished senior policy and business strategist, Ndiaye has a proven track record in policy design and implementation at the highest level of African governments and the private sector.

“Leila Ndiaye joins IGD at a time of when the organization is experiencing tremendous growth and impact in strengthening the private sector and boosting private investment on the African continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych. “Her vision and deep experience and connections will position IGD to be a leader in igniting innovation and action to fuel Africa’s economic progress.”

Prior to joining IGD, she served as the Senior Director of Policy for African Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In that position, she developed, promoted and executed the US-Africa Business Center’s program of work relating to trade policy and investment between the United States and African countries. She initiated and managed the US-ECOWAS Business Initiative and spearheaded the Chamber’s program in Western and Central Sub-Saharan Africa, from Angola to Mauritania.

Previously, she worked with the government of Côte d’Ivoire as special adviser to the former Head of State, where she advised the Head of State on a range of policy, national security and economic issues to ensure that all duties were carried out in the best interest of the country as a whole.

Ndiaye is an Advisor to McLarty Associates, where she advises clients on trade and investment in West Africa. McLarty Associates is an international strategic advisory firm headquartered in Washington, DC, that delivers diplomatic solutions and advises many emerging companies venturing abroad.

Earlier in her career, Ndiaye held positions in the lobbying arena with Bayh, Connaughton, Fernsteinhem and Malone, law firm of former Senator Birch Bayh, in Washington, D.C. where she developed and managed the Africa portfolio and at the World Bank as a consultant.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented Ms. Ndiaye with the “US-Africa Business Center Outstanding Leaders’ Award 2018” in recognition of her exemplary leadership in US-Africa relations.

She is a recipient of the 2016 Excellence Award by the Women Ambassadors Foundation in Washington DC and was nominated in 2008 as one of the 50 most influential people of Côte d’Ivoire by the magazine l’Intelligent d’Abidjan and received the same year the Women’s Private Sector Initiative Award in Côte d’Ivoire.

In 1990, she was the first Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar from Côte d’Ivoire to South Africa during apartheid.  Leila Ndiaye is a member of the African Leadership Network, a membership community of the most dynamic and influential new-generation leaders in Africa.

Leila Ndiaye holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the School of International Service (SIS), at The American University in Washington DC, earned a Master of Arts in Diplomacy with merit from the Diplomatic Academy of London at the University of Westminster, and a PhD degree in International Relations and Diplomacy, from the Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques (CEDS), Paris.

 The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that harnesses the power of the private sector to create sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa. We bring together CEOs and senior executives from leading African and global companies through our Frontier Leader Network to catalyze greater business investment and impact on the continent

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Speak Up Africa New York Announces New Name: The Access Challenge and New Policy Campaign Aimed at Achieving Universal Health Access
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
Together with Former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, 
The Access Challenge Launches a High-Level Policy Campaign Centered on African Union and President-to-President Engagement
WHO Director General Dr. Tedros and HE Jakaya Kikwete

WHO Director General Dr. Tedros and HE Jakaya Kikwete

NEW YORK, United States of America, 1st March 2018, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Speak Up Africa New York, a leading not-for-profit advocacy organization focused on universal access to healthcare and education for the world’s most vulnerable families, today announced its organization’s new name, The Access Challenge, and its first initiative, One By One: Target 2030.

The name change reflects the group’s mission to ensure that every person -wherever in the world he or she may be-has access to basic tools and services in order to survive and thrive. Speak Up Africa New York focused its efforts on Africa. The Access Challenge will continue this Africa-based work while expanding to other regions with a focus on high-level policy engagement.

In keeping with this new focus, The Access Challenge today launched a new campaign, One By One: Target 2030, in partnership with His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, former president of Tanzania and a world-renowned maternal and child health advocate. One By One: Target 2030 will promote universal health access in Africa, focusing first on immunizations, maternal health and Neglected Tropical Diseases, ensuring that even the poorest families have access to critical health interventions.
President Kikwete and The Access Challenge have launched the campaign in support of the World Health Organization’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ call for Universal Health Coverage. President Kikwete is committed to making Universal Health Access a reality on the continent of Africa.
President Kikwete said, “Ensuring equal access to health – especially for the most vulnerable – is an issue very close to my heart. As I travel from country to country across Africa, I will work with the African Union and heads of state that have the power to put these issues at the top of the agenda.”
“We are eager to begin our initiative with President Kikwete. Over the past six years, we have driven awareness of critical health issues on national and global levels,” said Kate Campana, founder and CEO of The Access Challenge. “With Dr. Tedros’ mandate, we think that more leaders and more countries will be inspired to step up and effect real change. By broadening our geographic reach, we hope to reach even more of the world’s most vulnerable and provide a leadership platform that expands to South-South collaborative learning.”
The Access Challenge, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, inspired by a vision of a world where every person has an equal ability to survive and thrive regardless of where she or he is born, advocates for universal access to health and education. It works with heads of state and other public officials to understand and focus on particular issues; partners with cultural luminaries to bring key issues to the attention of government and corporate leaders who can galvanize support; produces high-profile public events that shine a spotlight on governmental commitments and hold leaders accountable; and launches powerful multimedia campaigns to raise broad awareness and change cultural expectations about critical access issues.
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#SaloneDecides: Will new parties end Sierra Leone’s two-party dominance?
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

Sierra Leone’s elections have typically been a contest between the APC and SLPP. But now there are new challengers in the running.

BY LUISA ENRIA & JAMIE HITCHEN*

The National Grand Coalition, led by Kandeh Yumkella (pictured), is one of the new parties challenging in the upcoming Sierra Leone elections. Credit: UNIDO/ Gerhard Fally.

The National Grand Coalition, led by Kandeh Yumkella (pictured), is one of the new parties challenging in the upcoming Sierra Leone elections. Credit: UNIDO/ Gerhard Fally.

On 7 March, Sierra Leone heads to the polls as President Ernest Bai Koroma’s constitutional two terms come to an end. Historically, the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) and main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) have dominated the country’s political landscape, but some new parties will be seeking to challenge this.

The National Grand Coalition (NGC) and Coalition for Change (C4C) are unlikely to gain enough votes to form a government, but their roots and strategies are windows into the state of the political party system and democracy in Sierra Leone.

Challenges to APC and SLPP dominance

Since independence in 1961, the SLPP and APC have taken turns to govern Sierra Leone under civilian rule. In the three elections following the end of the 11-year civil war in 2002, these two parties have dominated parliament, drawing on relatively stable support bases. The APC’s stronghold is in the North, the SLPP’s in the South-East, with the capital Freetown and mining district of Kono less predictable.

In the last elections in 2012, the APC won 70 of the 112 seats that were directly elected, while the SLPP won the remaining 42. A further 12 seats – rising to 14 in 2018 – were set aside for Paramount Chief representation.

In 2018, new political parties hope to unsettle that two-party monopoly. Both the NGC, led by former UNIDO head Kandeh Yumkella, and C4C, established by former vice-president Sam Sumana, have been vocal critics of the APC and SLPP. Both new parties have a strong social media presence and enjoy support amongst the diaspora (who cannot vote) and the urban elite.

The ways these parties were formed are indicative of current state of the two historical grandees of Sierra Leone’s politics. The NGC emerged out of long-standing disputes within the SLPP. Yumkella had previously declared his intention to stand to be that party’s flag-bearer for these upcoming elections, but ended up forming his own party in September 2017.

Yumkella, and the former SLPP stalwarts that joined him, were frustrated at the leadership of Julius Maada Bio, who lost the 2012 elections. After those polls, Bio refused to step down despite criticism within the party. He preferred instead to listen to his support base which called for his leadership pa-o-pa (“by any means necessary”) and will be the SLPP candidate again in 2018.

The C4C originated from similar contestations within the APC. The new opposition group was founded by Sam Sumana, who was controversially sacked as vice-president in 2015. He challenged this move at the regional ECOWAS court, claiming his dismissal was unconstitutional and did not follow party procedures.

Sumana’s dismissal was an example of increasing centralisation of power within the APC. This trend was clear again at the ruling party’s convention in October 2017. President Koroma gave a speech asserting his power as party chairman, head of state, and commander in chief before unilaterally selecting then Foreign Minister Samura Kamara as the APC’s presidential candidate. In APC strongholds of Port Loko and Kambia, supporters who had been hoping for a local candidate were disappointed. Party representatives had to persuade them not to withdraw their support.

These dynamics point to the growing personalisation of politics in Sierra Leone. In the APC and SLPP, existing leaders have imposed their will on the party apparatus. Meanwhile, the emergent NGC and C4C essentially formed around individual personas.

The issues

The current challenge to the political status quo, however, goes beyond just personality feuds. Sierra Leone’s first ever televised presidential debate – in which six candidates faced off on 15 February – demonstrated that credible alternatives, alongside a strengthened civil society and independent media, could lead towards more accountability.

Across the country, the key issues confronting citizens include lack of access to water and electricity, unemployment, vulnerability to natural disasters, and significant increases in costs of living over the last five years. The leading parties do not offer radically different visions for tackling these issues, yet in the debate all contenders had to defend their track records and substantiate their promises.

Opposition candidates challenged the APC’s mismanagement of the Ebola crisis and recent economic policies, including a new controversial toll road linking the capital and Northern provinces. The ruling party’s candidate, Kamara, responded by emphasising a decade of experience in power. He also pointed to infrastructural development despite the effects of the Ebola crisis, which, he argued, was beyond the government’s control.

Change versus continuity has been a key theme of the election campaign; the debate at least gave citizens a chance to hear more of what that might mean.

A new parliament

The C4C and NGC will have candidates contesting almost all Sierra Leone’s 132 constituencies. Should they succeed in emulating the 2007 performance of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), which won 10 seats, they will be in a position to influence the country’s political discourse over the next five years.

Sierra Leone would benefit from more robust debates and a greater plurality of voices in parliament. In the past five years, MPs have occasionally stood up to pressure from the executive; a notable recent example was its rejection of a provision to change the winning threshold of the presidential election from 55% to 50%. However, parliament has also been notably inactive on many fronts. For example, MPs failed to investigate the auditor general’s reports into corruption during the Ebola outbreak or to set up a public inquiry to look into the causes of the 2017 mudslide in Freetown.

This has increasingly led observers and voters alike to question their politicians’ ability to scrutinise the executive. According to Andrew Lavali, executive director of the Institute for Governance Reform in Sierra Leone, we could see up to 80% turnover in MPs, as many incumbents have been replaced by their parties due to their poor parliamentary performance.

This turnover, he believes, is largely a cause for optimism. “Better informed citizens are putting pressure on MPs across the political spectrum to deliver greater accountability,” he says. However, he also notes that while there are likely to be more young people in the next parliament, there are also likely to be fewer women.

A third way?

If the NGC and C4C attain a credible parliamentary presence, they will be wise to learn from the previous mistakes of others. In 2007, PMDC leader Charles Margai’s performance in the first-round gave him the opportunity to act as a kingmaker in the second. He decided to support Koroma, but while this move was rewarded in the short-term, his party went on to lose all of its seats in 2012.

Should a similar scenario unfold in 2018 – and a run-off between the APC and SLPP is likely – parties such as the NGC and C4C will have a disproportionate say in the outcome.

They will be faced with a choice. They can back the party from which they emerged, a strategy that could secure short-term gains but discredit them later, or they can support neither candidate and instead focus on building a “third way”, as the NGC has been promising throughout this campaign.

* African Arguments.Luisa Enria is a Lecturer in International Development at the University of Bath. Follow her on twitter at @luisaenria. Jamie Hitchen is the co-director of AREA Consulting and was previously at the Africa Research Institute. Follow him on twitter at @jchitchen.

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Mastercard Uses Facebook Messenger To Help Small Businesses Go Digital
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

Launches Masterpass QR bot for Messenger to enable Nigerian businesses to set up digital money accounts and accept QR payments

 

Barcelona, SPAIN – February 28, 2018 – At Mobile World Congress, Mastercard today announced that it will use Facebook Messenger to provide technology to small businesses in Africa and Asia to drive affordable acceptance of electronic and mobile payments. Access to digital payments will help these businesses expand to new markets, and unlock financial services and products that enables them to grow their livelihoods.

This Messenger experience will launch in Nigeria, where Mastercard will pilot a new Masterpass QR bot to help business owner’s move beyond cash transactions to accepting QR payments. Ecobank and Zenith Bank will support this inaugural program. The pilot in Nigeria is the beginning of a larger plan by the two companies to include more businesses into the digital economy.

According to research done by The Fletcher School and Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, of the $301 billion of funds flows from consumers to businesses in Nigeria, 98 percent is still based on cash.

“Every business owner is looking for ways to increase sales and draw new customers into their stores. By offering QR-based digital payments, smaller retailers can achieve these goals and create greater customer stickiness with little to no investment beyond the phone they already have,” said Jorn Lambert, executive vice president, Digital Channels and Regions, Mastercard. “Masterpass QR opens up new commerce channels for these merchants and enables them to create auditable transaction records. These advances open doors to other financial tools and products such as loans to drive added business growth.”

To get started, businesses can send a request to the bot to enable QR payments, receive approval from the bank, set up an account and start accepting digital payments in a fast, simple and secure manner. Once the account set up process is complete, business owners can print and display the QR code in their stores or save the code on their phones. Customers can pay by either scanning the code from their smartphone or by entering the merchant ID associated with the QR code into their feature phone.

“Brands and developers around the world are turning to messaging to connect with the 1.3 billion people who use Messenger each month,” said Kahina Van Dyke, director of Payments and Financial Services Partnerships at Facebook. “We are pleased that Mastercard is developing a service on the Messenger Platform to help small merchants use messaging to manage their business and connect with their customers.”

Launched in 2016, Masterpass QR provides people with any type of mobile phone the ability to safely accept and make in-person purchases without cash or a plastic card. It provides greater choice in payments and complements Mastercard’s investment in contactless payments to provide merchants of all sizes – from international chains to individual shop owners and street vendors – a fast, secure and inexpensive way to accept payments.

Quotes from partner banks in Nigeria:

 

“In line with our goal to serve 100 million Africans by the end of 2020, Ecobank is delighted to collaborate with Facebook and Mastercard to enable underserved and unbanked micro-merchants with the opportunity to open an Ecobank account almost immediately and begin to receive instant payments using Ecobank Masterpass QR on the Facebook Messenger platform. Micro merchants in Nigeria are already benefiting from Masterpass QR and will soon be in 32 markets across Africa, enabling them to move away from cash. That is true economic empowerment,” said Patrick Akinwuntan, Group Executive, Consumer Bank, Ecobank Group.

 

 

“Our Bank is partnering with Facebook and Mastercard to introduce Masterpass QR as a means of driving financial inclusion and creating a new payment ecosystem for MSMEs and consumers,” said Mr. Peter Amangbo, MD/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc. “This initiative will help us encourage financial inclusion within the country in line with the strategic thrust of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Buyers and sellers now meet and conclude transactions in-store, online and on social media, so we are ensuring payments can also be made on these platforms via QR codes, without having to log onto other solutions or even take a break from what you are doing on Facebook.”

 

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  Our global payments processing network connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.  Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

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Over 150 High-Level Speakers to Grace the Africa Trade & Investment Global Summit (ATIGS) 2018 in Washington, D.C
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
Over 150 High-Level Speakers to Grace the Africa Trade & Investment Global Summit (ATIGS) 2018 in Washington, D.C
“Driving Trade, Unleashing Investment and Enhancing Economic Development: the Gateway to African Markets”
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, February 28, 2018/ — Business leaders and prominent personalities are expected to speak at the Africa Trade & Investment Global Summit (ATIGS) 2018 (http://ATIGS2018.com) to be held on June 24 to June 26 at World Trade Center – Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. The prestigious biennial business conference and exhibition will bring together delegates from more than 70 countries including government delegations, high-profile African leaders, project developers, and international investors. The event has a well-structured format for facilitating direct peer engagement, for more advanced deal-making, showcasing fundable companies, co-investments and financing engagements, strategic partnerships, and business networking.

The 2018 Summit will feature as panelist and speakers a wide array of senior officials and distinguished personalities including, Hon Senator Ike Ekwerenmadu, Deputy Senate President of Nigeria; H.E. Adonia Ayebare, Uganda’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations;H.E.Clyde Rivers Ph.D. Ambassador of Republic of Burundi, and Advisor to the President of Burundi; Hon Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, former Minister for Trade & Industry, and former Ambassador of Ghana to the USA; Hon. Ibrahim Awaal Mohammed, Minister for Business Development in Ghana; Hon. Sebastian Kopulande, CEO, Zambian International Trade and Investment Centre (ZITIC) in Zambia; Andrew Herscowit, Coordinator, Power Africa – U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in USA; Asma ALAOU, CEO, Africa Key Partners in Morocco; Arnon Rosenbaum, VP Global Projects, Netafim in Israel; Belarmino Van-Dúnem, Chairman of Angola’s Investment and Exports Promotion Agency (APIEX); Maria Goravanchi,Director, Overseas Private Investment Corporation in USA; Dr. Mohamed Doumbouya, Minister of Budget, Republic of GuineaRaj Kumar, Founding President of Devex in United States, Dr. Belachew Mekuria, Industrial Park Division Deputy Commissioner of Ethiopian Investment CommissionDr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, President & CEO of Initiative for Global Development in USA; Pablo Martín Carbajal, Deputy head for African Affairs, and CEO of Proexca, Government of the Canary Islands; Bernadette Fernandes, Founder of The Varanda Network in Canada; Chris Kirubi, Director, Centum Investment in Kenya; Chris Knight, Global Commercial Director for fDi Intelligence, Financial Times Group in UK; Dr. Richmond Annan, President, iRichie Group Inc in USA; Dr. Munir Ahmad Ch, President, Aspire World Investments LLC – United Arab EmiratesDr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, President & CEO of Initiative for Global Development in USA; Joseph Lititiyo, Deputy Executive Secretary of Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries in Rwanda; Matthew Downing, Chairman & CEO, Ethium Group in Australia; Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Nigeria; Vanessa Adams, Director of Strategic Partnerships of DAI in France; Walid Loukil, Deputy Managing Director of Loukil Group in Tunisia; Xoliswa Daku, Founder & CEO, Daku Group of Companies in South Africa; Zekarias Amsalu, Founder and MD of IBEX Frontier, IBEX Financial Consultancy Ltd in Ethiopia, and many more.

For all speaker’s line-up and for all latest developments. visit www.ATIGS2018.com

ATIGS 2018 will feature unique activities, top rated speakers, and high-level participation. To register for the event, visit www.ATIGS2018.com/eventbrite, and for exhibition, contact ATIGS@gaadvancement.com

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Solar success in rural Senegal: “Seize the obvious”
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
“Two limitless local resources—energy from the sun and local confidence— that’s what it takes to win,” asserts CEO of Energy Resources Senegal, Moustapha Sene
Moustapha Sene, CEO of Energy Resources Senegal

Moustapha Sene, CEO of Energy Resources Senegal

DAKAR, Senegal, February 28, 2018/ — Moustapha Sene is soft-spoken, but he is sure of what he’s doing, and has proved a rare knack for seeing the obvious. A company his family started 25 years ago, Sahel Gaz, has been transforming free air from the atmosphere to produce oxygen for local hospitals. The idea of converting nature into revenue while building communities has become a passion.

One afternoon in 2015 while the sun beat down on his SUV in Dakar traffic, Sene, whose family-owned cluster of companies including edible oil, metallic construction, and industrial and medical gases, was struck again by the obvious. “Widely available technology, dropping cost of solar panels, and free, unlimited sunshine,” he reasoned. “What business person would not see the value of acquiring your primary ingredient as a gift from Nature?” The value-proposition for Sene was secured with imagination and confidence.

Three years later, Senegal’s first indigenous solar power station has begun to produce 20 megawatts of electricity which Sene’s company Energy Resources Senegal (ERS) (www.ERSenegal.com) sells back to the state-owned power company Senelec as part of a well-structured power purchase agreement.

Beyond the free sunlight — his 40-hectare solar farm in the Koalack region 200 kilometers from Dakar receives 3000 hours of direct sunlight a year — Sene woke up to another truth:  Senegal’s priority for quality education produces great local technical talent and highly skilled labor. “Why should we think we need to import brains?” he asks. His entire team is Senegalese and locally educated from the electrical engineers to his financial advisors. ERS employs 15 people, and is growing.

Senegalese President Macky Sall has placed renewable energy high on his list of national goals, and four solar plants have come online in the last 18 months with the percentage of citizens using clean energy in this West African nation of 15 million, rising at an astounding pace from about 10% to over 21% in less than two years. President Macky Sall predicts the rate will rise to over 30% in the near future. “At this rate, solar and wind energy will entirely drive Senegal’s power needs sooner than we anticipated,” Sene adds.

The Kahone solar plant is already bringing electricity to over 150 000 households in this central region of the country where everyone feels the need for electricity. One local tailor remembers the days he was unable to work at all because the current was cut. “We were at a standstill until the juice for our sewing machines came back. Those days are over.”

Energy Resources Senegal is helping to keep local businesses in business, and is now even able to help provide basic services to communities that have been socially off-the-grid as well. One of Sene’s personal goals is to renovate and upgrade the often decrepit structures used for community schools.

Moustapha Sene who was educated in Dakar and in Canada could have opted for a corporate position in Europe or North America, but his respect for his father, Alla Sene, who started the first family business in the streets of Dakar back in the 50s with no education and no cash, combined with his hope for his children to believe in a truly emerging Africa has kept him invested in a Senegal that he has helped evolve. His 22 year old daughter finishes an MBA at NYU this semester in energy and the environment and plans to bring her knowledge back home too.

“What we have done in Koalack with the Kahone solar plant we can share with local entrepreneurs across West Africa and beyond,” he told a group of regional investors. “We have the local know-how and engineering, we have local financial talent to provide and structure economic models for the Industry. And of course there is no shortage of sun. We have to learn how to master technologies on our own and start to invest more in our own confidence to produce local wealth,” he says.

The Senegalese Ministry of Energy and the pro-active Senelec, with its Plan Yeesal (meaning renewal in Wolof), is proving to be among Africa’s most ambitious players in the renewables sector. Power Purchase Agreements, the kind that Energy Resources Senegal has signed — a 25-year engagement — is proving that as long as the sunlight is free, native solutions to old problems in the energy sector have arrived.

“Curiously,” Sene adds “the greatest challenge to creating new wealth is not the cost of innovation as many think; it is the work to get beyond our traditional reflexes.”

If Sene keeps seizing the obvious ERS’s ambition to develop and build a total of 500MW solar and wind projects on the African continent before end of 2025, just may happen.

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WHY U.S. COMPANIES NEED TO INCLUDE AFRICA IN THEIR GLOBAL GROWTH STRATEGIES
February 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

Grant T. Harris, CEO of Harris Africa Partners LLC, makes a compelling case on why U.S. companies need to map out how Africa’s dynamic markets fit into their company’s business plan

By Grant T. Harris*

When it comes to talk of Africa’s economic outlook, do not believe the gloom – or the hype. The “Africa rising” storyline took a big hit when commodity prices crashed, but the truth is, no monolithic narrative could ever accurately capture the continent’s dynamism, challenges, and sheer economic potential.

Nonetheless, there are some clear regional trends that should compel American businesses to ask themselves, “How does Africa factor into my company’s growth strategy?”

Frankly, there is no need for a simplistic soundbite about Africa’s economic potential. The region is a complex and diverse ensemble of markets, opportunities, and political and investment climates which, for many different reasons, are undergoing what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has described as “multispeed” growth. For instance, while the commodity-dependent countries are currently less buoyant, four economies in East Africa – Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda – are predicted to see growth above six percent through 2020.

Nevertheless, even as we eschew sweeping generalizations that pretend to lump 54 African countries into one market, there are some region-wide trends that should make businesses sit up and take notice. To get straight to the point: Africa’s long-term economic outlook remains strong, underpinned by a young and growing population that is increasingly urban and technologically savvy. Consumer spending is projected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025, while African economies as a whole are estimated to be valued at $3 trillion by 2030 – by which time half of the population will live in urban areas. Moreover, demographic shifts mean that Africa’s place in the global economy is only likely to grow. By 2034, Africa will have more working-age people than either India or China. With a current median age of just 19.5 years, Africa will make up a quarter of the world’s population by 2050, bringing inevitable social, cultural, and economic impacts.

Of course, there is no denying that African governments have a lot of work to do to improve investment climates at national and regional levels. According to a recent African Development Bank report, “the continent’s infrastructure needs amount to $130-170 billion a year, with a financing gap in the range of $68-108 billion.” In sub-Saharan Africa, roughly two-thirds of people lack access to electricity. And it is not just insufficient infrastructure; the recent commodities crash highlighted several other persistent challenges, particularly the need for resource-rich countries to diversify their economies. Many African governments would be wise to follow the IMF’s advice to enact “policies to enhance macroeconomic stability, improve education outcomes, bolster governance and transparency in regulation, and deepen financial markets.” Importantly, many countries are working hard to realize these changes. According to the World Bank, governments in sub-Saharan Africa carried out a record number of business reforms in 2016 and 2017 – more than any other region.

Above all, it’s time to realize that misconceptions about Africa’s economic potential – that it is too risky, too poor, or simply irrelevant to most businesses – amount to lost opportunities. As when considering any emerging market, investors must to do their homework, not fall victim to oversimplified narratives, and determine how to navigate political and policy risk. Armed with the right information and foresight, investors should map out how Africa’s dynamic markets fit into their company’s business plan. As the region’s demographic and economic trends make clear, Africa can no longer be considered an “optional” component of global growth strategies.

*courtesy of IGD.Grant T. Harris is CEO of Harris Africa Partners LLC and was President Obama’s principal advisor on sub-Saharan Africa in the White House from 2011-2015. Harris Africa Partners LLC is an organizational partner for IGD’s U.S. Roadshow Tour.

 

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In Africa, citizen diplomacy fills in where Trump leaves holes
February 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

BY K. RIVA LEVINSON*

More than 13 months into the Trump administration, the senior State Department job on Africa remains unfiled, along with appointments for U.S. ambassadors to South Africa, Morocco, Tanzania, and other high-profile political posts.

In addition to these diplomatic vacancies, the Trump administration is proposing a 30 percent cut in foreign assistance for the 2019 Fiscal Year budget, on top of recent reductions, which will disproportionately impact the African continent.

These Washington realities, when considered in conjunction with the controversy over the U.S. president’s alleged remarks labeling an entire continent of 54 unique nations as “s—holes,” would appear to paint a pretty bleak picture for America’s future engagements in Africa.

However, traditional diplomacy is being increasingly supplemented by an explosion of citizen-to-citizen contacts, which are creating shared value, good-will and relationships of consequence. This work is more important now than it ever has been, and can be found in unexpected places.

NBA Africa, led by Managing Director Amadou Gallo Fall and the league’s commissionerAdam Silver, have helped to transform the NBA’s footprint in Africa. In doing so, they have become part of the front-line of private sector institutions which celebrate a continent unhampered by inaccurate clichés, and defined by its potential, its people, and its diversity.

Fall, originally from Senegal, came to the U.S. on a basketball scholarship in the late 1980s, graduated with honors, and returned to Senegal to work for the Senegal Basketball Federation. He would later be hired as a scout for the Dallas Mavericks and eventually recruited by the NBA.

Sports through Education and Economic Development in Senegal (SEEDS), which Fall founded upon his return from studying in the U.S., has become embedded into the culture of NBA Africa, and holds that through a love of sport, basketball can be a tool for social, economic and personal development.  The league has taken its commitment to community to heart through the NBA Players Association, and programs like NBA Cares, and Basketball Without Borders.

Fall and Silver lobbied to bring an NBA exhibition game to Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2015. Importantly, it would be the first game involving any major North American professional sports league to take place on the continent of Africa.

Team Africa against the World,” as it has become known, is now played annually and this year will be dedicated to the life and legacy of the former South African president, Nelson Mandela, on the centennial of his birth year.

At the NBA Africa luncheon on Saturday, 17 February, on the margins of 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles,  Silver explained that, “basketball is witnessing an explosive growth in Africa.” He explained that one of the cardinal objectives of NBA Africa is to grow the game and to see more young players competing at the highest level. Silver predicts more than 100 million Africans will eventually play the game.

“But it’s not just about the sport,” Fall told me in an interview.  “Yes, we celebrate the fact that this year 12 African-born players will be playing for the NBA. But as NBA Africa, we must reach beyond the players.”

Fall believes it is his responsibility to give a greater voice to African innovation, African excellence, and to help reclaim the narrative on Africa.  And last weekend in Los Angeles, just hours before NBA All-Star Saturday Night, that’s exactly what NBA Africa did.

Silver, Fall, African legends and players like Dikembe Motumba and Serge Ibaka assembled — not to talk the sport, but to lead a discussion on youth, development and entrepreneurship.

The luncheon was titled #AfricaNow and featured a panel of African entrepreneurs to showcase the human potential of the continent through the eyes of prominent innovators and changemakers.

Said panelist Richelieu Dennis, founder of Shea Moisture:

“It is our culture and our story. We must own it. We must define it. And it is we who must monetize it.”

On stage, and at the head table sat officers from the World Bank along with private sector players, like Invest Africa.  The African Development Bank noted it would unveil later this month a multi-year program with sport as the foundation for a youth empowerment program.

Perhaps eventually the Trump administration will prioritize diplomatic engagement with Africa, appointing senior officials and propose a budget which better reflects our national security interests. In the meantime, I find inspiration in our citizen diplomats, no matter their excessive height

*Source The Hill.K. Riva Levinson is president and CEO of KRL International LLC,a D.C.-based consultancy that works in the world’s emerging markets, award-winning author of “Choosing the Hero: My Improbable Journey and the Rise of Africa’s First Woman President” (Kiwai Media, June 2016). You can follow her on Twitter @rivalevinson.

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African markets sensitive to cost – Ayoola, Tranter IT Boss
February 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

 Says: ‘African are weary of applications they can’t afford‎’

* ‘Companies spend million  on bandwidth they don’t need’

By Olayinka Ajayi

Peeved by organisations wasting millions on needless bandwidth, Olarewaju Ayoola, CEO Tranter IT, an African Infotech Technology company based in Nigeria, bare his mind on ways to earn foreign exchange using substantial, user friendly software among other issues.

Olarewaju Ayoola, CEO Tranter IT

Olarewaju Ayoola, CEO Tranter IT

Rating  challenges of InfoTech in Africa

IT in Africa has been very substantial in a way. If you recall, when Micro soft introduced their application into Nigeria, It required very skilled Engineers to make any progress at all. And most African  organisation encountered  lots of problem. With the amount of money you required to train Micro-Soft certified Engineers to deliver services to the enterprises . It was very substantial , and not easy for many organization to achieve. What Manage Engine did was to develop their application that simplifies the management and the operation of Micro-Soft applications and server. To manage Active Directories AD is a very complicating job. But with ManageEngine software you find managing AD very easy. We realize the need to simplify it so that the effectiveness of Engineers in Nigeria would be higher. With this, the development time of an engineer has been greatly reduced which mean the cost of developing that engineer has also been greatly reduced.

How app addresses challenges

Every organization has a challenge for occasion that comes up. Service Desk plus is a ManageEngine product that solves that problem. It makes it very easy to solve any problem that occur in an organization; either facility management incidence, hospital management, military incidence, government, oil companies, insurance manufacturing, hospitality among others. More efficiently, improve productivity especially from the support aspect of the network management aspect that would result to substantial cost reduction in I.T management that would bring a lot of suffiency to the enterprise. Those who have use the software have found out that 71percent of users can actually resolve issues themselves than relying on a technician. We also found out that 91 percent of I.T Engineers found out that they could do more jobs using Manage Engine softwear than they had done using other software. Manage Engine has over 90 different applications. What we find is that once you are dealing with a company like Trans I.T, the official distributor of ManageEngine in Nigeria, you are dealing with a company that knows the product , there is virtually no problem face an organization we cannot address with manage Engine Applications. Instead of addressing mundane issues such as resetting passwords. With the use of ManageEngine product, users can reset their password without any technician assistance.

Challenges companies encounter in Africa

The Challenge organizations encounter in Africa is negligence. Its needs to be address and nobody want to address challenge and another one comes up and nobody remembers to solve the It, Our software helps organization to manage and remember them. In term of your incident resolution, the Software define time limits in which problem needs to be resolved through defining the service level . Once the service level has been define, the product help you determine if you are doing well or not. Most companies are ignorantly paying for bandwidth they don’t need. Our product has an application that measures supplied bandwidth, what is required, what is needed and the reliability of the supplied bandwidth to your organization. Enabling you to come up with better plan on which service provider you should do business with. Can you imagine that companies are spending N 100,N200 million annually on bandwidth. Some companies are buying 20% more than they need, which is approximately N40million saving. With this analysis it is evident that manageEngine can save Nigerian companies from lose of huge amounts of money because these bandwidth cost is a foreign cost. With Tranter IT partnership with ManageEngine there is assurance of lots of foreign exchange that are cost effective.

Future of commerce and Industry in Africa

With Tranter IT partnership, I see Management Engine to be an house hold name in Africa’s commerce and industry as its addresses variety of challenges encountered running effective and smooth business. Simply because it makes life easier for everybody by reducing cost, increasing productivity and efficiency. In the last one year, the interest in Manage Engine has grown to 200%. We expect it to grow to 1000% in 2018 in Nigeria and the whole of Africa. Reason being that; three out of five companies in Nigeria are using ManageEngine products. So it’s a proven product that is tried and tested. We observed that our clients appreciate the product as it has solved most of their challenge. It like any new product, it takes time before it is generally acceptable. We are very happy to say its acceptance in Nigeria is growing very rapidly. But what we are doing to actualize the 2018 bench mark is by engaging what we called the ‘prove of consent’. We concentrate on delivering cost effective product by partnering with ManageEngine. We also observed Nigerians are tired of having wonderful applications that they can’t afford. We solved the problem by offering application Nigerians can afford.

Dynamism of doing business across Africa

The Nigerian and African market is tough because our environment is changing rapidly. The market is very sensitive to cost which determine what companies can afford . As an organization, if you are not dynamic and determine, you will find the African market very difficult and you could be out of business.

Being dynamic is the major key doing business in Africa. In other words, looking towards solving problems and not towards merely selling products like a traders. There is nothing wrong being a trader. What I meant is, assume the market can no longer absolve your product, your business goes down. So focus at solving problem. If you always solve problem you remain relevant always. That is what Tranter IT does, while we focus on identifying the problems our clients are experiencing, we design and implement solution to their problems. While other companies were retrenching, we have being growing, while others are reducing salaries, we ware increasing salaries .We love our customers and we are always interested in their prosperity. we will always be relevant because we always look for how to solve your problems.

Nigeria as a nation has challenges in different sectors and if your business provide solution to these challeges you cannot be out of work .But if your business is not providing solution then you have a lots of challenge to survive in that business. ManageEngine has solution to challenges . We are hoping that the markets would not shrink because irrespective of we offering solutions to IT related challenges, we are not involve in solving Macro economic challenges like; power and other related problems. As ingenious company, we take pride in what we do. When we do not have engineers with required skills, we send our engineers abroad to acquire skills rather than bring foreigners to be paid as expatriates. Our policy is to train Nigerian Engineers to compete with the rest of the world in Information Technology IT.

Affordable and user friendly of App

It time Nigerian companies start engaging software that do not require spending much time answering questions that are not necessary for business. Our application gives you the opportunity to add necessary customized ones that are unique to your organization. In terms of usability presently ManageEngine software is very easy and in term of the ability to customize applications, it’s very easy and extremely user friendly.

 

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Africa: Shortlist Announced for €20.000 Henrike Grohs Art Award
February 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

The winner will be announced on 6 March and awarded on 13 March in Abidjan

Em’kal Eyongakpa (Cameroon)

Em’kal Eyongakpa (Cameroon)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, February 26, 2018/ — Em’kal Eyongakpa (Cameroon), Georgina Maxim (Zimbabwe) and Makouvia Kokou Ferdinand (Togo) have been shortlisted for the first Henrike Grohs Art Award, conceived by the Goethe-Institut (https://goo.gl/nKYUpW) and the Grohs family. The winner will be announced on 6 March and awarded on 13 March in Abidjan.

Em’kal Eyongakpa is an intermedia artist who approaches the experienced, the unknown, as well as collective histories through a ritual use of repetition and transformation. His recent ideas draw from indigenous knowledge systems and aesthetics, ethnobotany, applied mycology as well as technology.

Georgina Maxim’s work combines weaving, stitch work and the utilisation of found textiles creating objects that evade definition. The dresses are deconstructed, and at times reconstructed to find new ways of giving tribute to and reflection upon the person that owned the original garment.

In Makouvia Kokou Ferdinand’s sculptural and performance work, he plays with borders and mixes memories, materials and cultural references. Building on traditional Mina culture, his gaze on contemporary society is unique, sometimes ironic and often moving.

The Henrike Grohs Art Award is a biennial prize dedicated to artists who are living and working in Africa and practicing in the field of visual arts. It recognises the lifetime achievements of the former Head of the Goethe-Institut in Abidjan, Henrike Grohs, who was killed on 13 March 2016 in a terrorist attack in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire.

The prize “aims at strengthening artists and encouraging them in their quest for a world of togetherness and dialogue”, said jury members Koyo Kouoh (Artistic Director, RAW Material Company, Dakar), Laurence Bonvin (artist and representative of the Grohs family, Berlin), Raphael Chikukwa (Chief Curator, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare) and Simon Njami (Curator, Paris).

More about the shortlisted artists

Em’kal Eyongakpa
Video portrait:

 https://youtu.be/xkagubNL6ZA 

Em’kal Eyongakpa (born 1981 in Mamfe, Cameroon) is an intermedia artist who approaches the experienced, the unknown, as well as collective histories through a ritual use of repetition and transformation. His recent ideas increasingly draw from indigenous knowledge systems and aesthetics, ethnobotany, applied mycology as well as technology in his explorations of the personal and the universal. Eyongakpa is also known for self-organised community research projects and autonomous art hubs like KHaL!SHRINE in Yaoundé (2007-2012) and the recently launched sound art and music platform ɛfúkúyú. He holds degrees in Plant biology and Ecology from the University of Yaoundé and was a resident at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.

Eyongakpa’s work has recently been exhibited at the Jakarta Biennale (2017), the 13th Sharjah Biennial (2017), La Biennale de Montreal (2016), the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo (2016), the 9th and 10th Bamako Encounters (2011, 2015), the 10th Biennale de l’art africain contemporain, Dak’art (2012) and at several international art spaces and museums around the world.

More information: https://goo.gl/aT7aWZ  

Georgina Maxim 
Video portrait: https://youtu.be/2sTfNETFLM4 

Georgina Maxim (Zimbabwe) - Photo by Cynthia Matonhodze

Georgina Maxim (Zimbabwe) – Photo by Cynthia Matonhodze

Georgina Maxim was born 1980 in Harare, Zimbabwe. Maxim is known for both working as artist and curator with over a decade of arts management and curatorial practice. Maxim together with two other artists (Misheck Masamvu and Gareth Nyandoro) co-founded Village Unhu in 2012, an artist collective space that has been providing studio spaces, exhibitions, workshops and residency programs for artists – young and professional.

Georgina Maxim’s work combines weaving, stitch work and the utilisation of found textiles creating objects that evade definition. The dresses are deconstructed, and at times reconstructed to find new ways of giving tribute to and reflection upon the person that owned the original garment. Maxim describes it as ‘the memory of’. Currently, Maxim studies African Verbal and Visual Arts – Languages, Curation and Arts at the University of Bayreuth in Germany.

Makouvia Kokou Ferdinand 
Video portrait: https://youtu.be/lZCcRSab2hA

Makouvia Kokou Ferdinand – a student at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris – shares his life and work between Lomé and Paris. Both his sculptural and performance work emanate from the personal experiences of the artist. He plays with borders and mixes memories, materials and cultural references. Building on traditional Mina culture, his gaze on contemporary society is unique, sometimes ironic and often moving. He is a recipient of the Dauphine Prize for Contemporary Art, the Young Talent Revelation Prize for Plastic Arts ADAGP as well as the Aurige Finance and the Amis des Beaux-Arts et Juvenars-IESA Prize. His work will be displayed at Du Salon Du Dessin in Paris (23-25 March, 2018), as part of a group exhibition at Anne de Villepoix Gallery during the first half of 2018 and in a solo show at Vincent Sator Gallery in April and May 2019.

About the Henrike Grohs Art Award

“The Henrike Grohs Art Award is a biennial award dedicated to artists living and working in Africa. Yet the message sent goes far beyond the continent. It is a universal address, a call for reflection and action”, said the jury members Koyo Kouoh (Artistic Director, RAW Material Company, Dakar), Laurence Bonvin (artist and representative of the Grohs family, Berlin), Raphael Chikukwa (Chief Curator, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare) and Simon Njami (Curator, Paris).

The prize recognises the lifetime achievements of the former Head of the Goethe-Institut in Abidjan, Henrike Grohs, who was killed on 13 March 2016 in a terrorist attack in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire. The award intends to continue her special commitment to support artists in Africa and make a contribution towards international dialogue.

The award will be awarded biennially to an artist or an arts collective practicing in the field of visual arts. Artistic quality is the most important criteria for the award. Collaborative partnership, imparting knowledge to other artists and social engagement are decisive elements for recognition.

Makouvia Kokou Ferdinand (Togo) - Photo by Peter Houston

Makouvia Kokou Ferdinand (Togo) – Photo by Peter Houston

Henrike Grohs Art Award: Mission Statement

“On 13 March 2016 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Henrike Grohs was killed by the blindest hatred as she was spending time with friends at the beach. Two months before, a young photographer, Leila Alaoui, 32, was shot in Burkina Faso by the ‘same people’. Many more, too many more, have fallen simply because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time; simply because a handful of fundamentalists started a war of terror. We are facing troublesome times and it is our duty to refuse to surrender to fatalism. All those deaths must be transformed into something stronger than death, into something bigger than ourselves. Henrike was working for a better world. A world where, ‘a proud heart can survive a general failure because such failure does not prick its pride.’” (Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart).

The Henrike Grohs Art Award is established as an answer to all those who think that we cannot live together in a world where sharing would be the main aim. Where borders would have no meaning and where humanity would be the only matter to fight for – that is humanity as a whole, as something that cannot be destroyed and that remains untouched. The message is clear: we shall not surrender. We shall, as Henrike did, stand for what we believe in, without any compromise.

The award is dedicated to artists practicing in Africa. Yet the message that is sent is a universal address, a call for reflection and action. Art is probably the one field where no translation is needed. It is that universal language which transforms the ‘chaotic world of sensations’ that we all share, into forms of representations and relations. The Henrike Grohs Art Award aims at strengthening artists and encouraging them in their quest for a world of togetherness and dialogue. Art knows neither borders nor religion. It is the very expression of that flame that keeps us going, from North to South and East to West. It is the best expression of our unbreakable faith in our humanity.”

The Jury members:
Koyo Kouoh, Laurence Bonvin, Raphael Chikukwa and Simon Njami


Henrike Grohs Art Award: video statements about the prize

Johannes Ebert (Secretary General of the Goethe-Institut, Munich): https://youtu.be/uAmVNxggLek
Koyo Kouoh (Jury member; Artistic Director, RAW Material Company, Dakar): https://youtu.be/lXnerwvJea4 
Laurence Bonvin (Jury member; artist, representative of the Grohs family, Berlin): https://youtu.be/HHrUN1-UqsA
Raphael Chikukwa (Jury member; Chief Curator, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare): https://youtu.be/pIzNF5waGGQ 
Simon Njami (Jury member; Curator, Paris): https://youtu.be/wPWqYf0ETsQ 

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Nigeria’s economic diversification strategy to be highlighted at the AFRICA CEO FORUM
February 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
  •  The Africa CEO Forum, which is holding its 6th edition on 26 and 27 March in Abidjan, is devoting an exclusive panel discussion to the Nigerian economy and its diversification model. And how can it inspires other african economies ? 
 
  • Nigeria will be represented in full force this year, with over 80 high-level delegates attending the Forum.
LAGOS, Nigeria, 26 February 2018, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- At a time when Nigeria is still struggling to break free of its dependence on oil, which still accounts for more than 90% of its export earnings, its economy is starting to see an improvement and prospects are looking better for the country’s businesses. Numerous companies have emerged in the finance, technology, agriculture, entertainment and industrial sectors. From Yaba district startups to rice mills of Kano and the burgeoning automotive sector, there is a growing list of companies whose performance is no longer tied to oil prices. How is Nigeria doing it ?
For the first time, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is devoting an exclusive panel discussion to ‘The New Nigerian Economy’, during which the diversification model that has given Nigeria’s economy a shot in the arm will be analyzed in depth. African countries’ past attempts at diversification have not always been successful which is why the AFRICA CEO FORUM will shed light not only on the reasons for this but also on the reforms needed to overcome economic stagnation and revitalize growth prospects.
A number of leading Nigerian executives have already confirmed their participation in this year’s AFRICA CEO FORUM, including: Folorunso Alakija, VP of Famfa Oil Limited; Jim Ovia, Founder and President of Zenith Bank; Austin Avuru, CEO of Seplat Petroleum; Yewande Sadiku, CEO of the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission; Abdulsamad Rabiu, Executive Chairman of BUA Group; Oluwatoyin Sanni, CEO of United Capital; Tonye Cole, CEO of Sahara Group; Degbola Abudu, CEO of Capricorn Holding Limited; Juliet Ehimuan, CEO of Google Nigeria; Ken Etete, CEO of Century Group, Mitchell Elegbe, CEO of Interswitch and Wale Tinubu, CEO of Oando.
The AFRICA CEO FORUM is organized by Jeune Afrique Media Group, the publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and by rainbow unlimited, a Swiss company specialized in event organization and economic promotion. With the success of its 2017 edition, which welcomed almost 1,200 business leaders from Africa and the world, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has established itself as the main international event for the African private sector to discuss the continent’s development in a highly professional environment ideal for business networking. The 2018 edition is co-hosted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC, part of the World Bank Group).
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Ghana offers support to US in terrorism fight
February 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President Akuffo met With US President, Donald Trump   on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in 2017

President Akuffo met With US President, Donald Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in 2017

Ghana has announced that it will offer assistance to the United States of America in the fight against terrorism. President of the West African nation, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo assured the National Governors Association at a winter meeting that Ghana will stand shoulder to shoulder with the US in the fight against terrorism and the promotion of fundamental human rights across the globe.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with US in the rejection of terrorism as a legitimate means of settling political disputes. We stand shoulder to with United States in attempting to develop our economies to provide opportunities for its citizens.

“We stand ready to renew and deepen our relationship with the United States of America for the progress and prosperity of our two peoples,” the Ghanaian leader told the meeting.

The United States of America has been battling recurrent cases of domestic and foreign terrorist attacks.

The National Governors Association (NGA) is the bipartisan organization of governors in the US. Through NGA, governors share best practices, speak with a collective voice on national policy and develop innovative solutions that improve state government and support the principles of federalism.

Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington, D.C.’s most respected public policy organizations.

President Akufo-Addo also passionately appealed to all fifty (50) Governors of the United States of America, not to ignore Africa in their quest to develop viable partnerships across the globe for trade and investment opportunities.

Addressing the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Winter Meeting, in Washington DC, USA, President Akufo-Addo said Ghana and the rest of Africa are looking forward “to a new kind of relationship with America that would be characterized by a substantial increase in trade and investment cooperation”.

“According to the World Bank, six of the world’s ten (10) fastest growing economies this year are in Africa. We are rich in natural resources and in possession of nearly 30% of the earth’s remaining mineral resources”, the first African leader to address the 50 US Governors at an NGA meeting said.

“I urge you not to ignore our continent”. The Ghanaian President made the call on the grounds that, “many people say this is the Asian century, but I believe strongly that this can be Africa’s century. Our growth in 2015 was second only to that of Asia.

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“Do Not Ignore Africa” – President Akufo-Addo Appeals To US Governors
February 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has urged Governors of the United States of America not to ignore Africa, stating his belief that “this can be Africa’s century”.

According to President Akufo-Addo, growth in Africa, in 2015 was second only to that of Asia, adding that six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies, this year, are in Africa.

“We are rich in natural resources, and in possession of nearly 30 percent of the earth’s remaining mineral resources. We have a vibrant young population, and, though we still have important security challenges, we are more at peace than before,” he said.

The President noted that with the historic decision of the African Union to bring into being, on 21st March, 2018, the Continental Free Trade Area, the agenda of regional integration, which will establish a market of some 2 billion people in 20 years, presents immense opportunities to bring prosperity to Africa with hard work, enterprise and creativity.

“This is the time to look at Africa”, he added.

President Akufo-Addo made this known when he delivered the keynote address at the National Governors Association 2018 Winter Meeting, in Washington DC, United States of America, on Sunday, 25th February, 2018.

Whilst acknowledging the disheartening spectre of African youths crossing the Sahara desert on foot and drown in the Mediterranean Sea, in a desperate bid to reach the mirage of a better life in Europe, President Akufo-Addo explained that the current structure of African economies, which are dependent on the production and export of raw materials, cannot create prosperity.

“These economies cannot produce wealth and prosperity for the masses on the continent. It, therefore, drives the determination to seek a much better standard of living out of Africa, thereby, fuelling the refugee crises and the numerous counts of illegal migrations,” he said.

The large wave of migrations into the United States from Ireland and Italy, in the 19th century, the President added, has completely subsided because the economies of the two countries are working properly.

It is for this reason that President Akufo-Addo stated that “the only way to ensuring prosperity in Africa and jobs for our young populations is through value addition activities, in a transformed and diversified, modern economy, in which we take full advantage of the digital revolution.”

He continued, “In other words, the industrial development of our continent, and we are determined to ensure the realisation of this, so that our young people can stay and devote their great energies to the building of a great Africa.”

The President was confident that it is only Asians who can engineer, in a generation, their transition from poverty to prosperity.

“We are determined to do that in our generation in Ghana, on the continent, and ensure that succeeding generations will be neither victims nor pawns of the global order,” he added.

This, the President indicated, will serve as the impetus for re-shaping the continent and charting a new path of growth and development in freedom, which will lift the long suffering African masses out of poverty into the realms of prosperity and dignified existence.

*Presidency Ghana

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Entrepreneurship is not a choice but a MUST for all Africans-Badou Kane
February 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

All Africans have to learn how to become entrepreneurs’ whether you went to school or not says Badou Kane

All Africans have to learn how to become entrepreneurs’ whether you went to school or not says Badou Kane

When dreams for a career in basketball were scuttled by injurious, Badou Kane found a calling in entrepreneurship, mentoring and empowering the next generation of African Youth. From his base in Senegal, Badou Kane  is using a variety of programs, and initiatives to instill positive values, and hope in the African youth on how to turn adversity into opportunity. Pained by the travails of those who risk it all to leave Africa in quest of greener pastures; Badou is taking  on the onerous task of helping young Africans to understand that with their potential, it is possible to make it big in Africa. Entrepreneurship is not a choice, but a must for all Africans, says Badou in an  exclusive interview with PAV to shed light on his vision and projects.

Badou Kane is one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs in Africa, let’s start this interview by paraphrasing a quote we got from a talk you gave at the Cheick Anta Diop University in Senegal in July of 2014, having a positive impact on others is how Africans in all walks of life should measure leadership, in 2018, how much of this are you seeing in the continent? 

I would say not much… numbers don’t lie. The fact that we have over 500 million Africans living under $1.50 a day shows that there isn’t enough sharing among us. Two things are to be shared knowledge and money in order to have a positive impact on others.

You equally said Africa is the richest continent with the poorest with the poorest people, not because not because we are poor but because we are poor in minds, in this age and time, what needs to be done to change this mindset? 

Wow! A good question with many solutions I will quote a few:

Let s start by stopping lies and getting rid of our complexes of inferiority and superiority. As long as you are on the right path do not worry about what people think of you or what you do. Then:

  1. We have to regain the control of our education. Our curriculum should be written by Africans that understand the realities of the continent.
  2. All Africans have to learn how to become entrepreneurs’ whether you went to school or not, whether you went far into your schooling or not. Entrepreneurship is not a choice but a MUST for all Africans.
  3. We have to all learn how to go from nothing to something. At least be able to earn 4 dollars a day.
  4. Every one of us has a hidden treasure but to find it we have to be willing to sweat cry and bleed. Through a strong will, endurance, and perseverance we will find our hidden treasures
  5. We have to all start some type of a business (small, medium. or big). Do not be afraid to start small. If you don t know how to go from nothing contact me I will show you how.
  6. Last but not least once you achieve success NEVER FORGET WHERE YOU COME FROM and share part of the knowledge and money you earned by teaching others your path to success. Find honest hard working people and show them the way to success that you know.

From your entrepreneurship and the mentorship that you have done, what difference have you succeeded in making, what are some of the positive stories that you can share with us? 

Another good question. We have thousands of stories to tell. As a matter of fact we are preparing a book. You will already find lots of the testimonies on my social media pages. We have created multi-millionaires in CFA. We have kept people out of jails. We have saved families that were struggling to eat one decent meal a day today they are eating at least 2 meals a day. We have prevented people from risking their lives and dying at sea or in the desert through illegal migration (a major problem in Africa). I can go on; we have changed or impacted thousands and thousands of lives in Africa.  We have saved relationships between fathers and sons, prevented people from blaming governments and environments in general. Some of the people we trained built houses for their mothers. Let me just say that thanks to the Almighty we have done a lot through our training centers, our conferences in schools and different institutions, our interventions on TV s and radios.

You literally grew up in America; you made it there, what motivated you to move back to Senegal and any regrets? 

You know that old saying: “there is no place like home”. I had a mother and father that gave a lot to Africa their names were Madeleine Sidibe and Bocar Kane. I wanted to follow on their footsteps. I remember one day we were having lunch at the house; a neighbor walked in and said that he did not have something to feed his family and my mom asked us to stop eating. We were all eating in a big bowl; she took it poured more foods in it and gave it to the man to take to his house. Then she told us to eat ” shaï” (bread and butter + hot tea) I always wanted to help develop a larger middle class in Africa. I love the fact that I was given a chance to be able to change lives and I have zero regrets.

At a time when many young people are risking life crossing the Sahara, ending up as slaves in Libya, dying in overloaded boats that sink in the Mediterranean, just to get to Europe, how challenging is it to make  a convincing case to them that in Africa, they can still make it and make it big? 

It’s very challenging but with a very good argument they will stay. They just want better alternatives and concrete solutions. The youth of Africa has lost the last piece of hope that they had left in them. They have been betrayed by their respective country leaders. But today we give them hope again by showing them that yes it is possible to make it here in Africa. Once upon a time the Italians and the Irish were fleeing to America; today they are proud to stay in their countries. I have faith that one day the Almighty will give us the leaders that will finally save the Africans. And our people will stay. It’s always been about Africa but not about the Africans but I can feel in the air that it is about to be about the Africans themselves as they will gain a better hold of their environment.

And on the flipside, when you look at the economic and political realities of the continent, the corruption, the leaders in power for over three decades, do you actually fault them and some may even say oh if Badou Kane did not have the opportunities he had out of Senegal, he may not be as successful as he is ,what is your take on this? 

Of course our leaders are to be blamed for some of it but not all. A bad head of state can’t stop a Badou Kane from washing cars to feed his family for example. We cannot spend the next 5 decades pointing the finger at them as it is a waste of time. Let us focus on ourselves on how we can do it ourselves. It is possible as I am showing the people in Senegal. Senegal gave me a peaceful environment, and people willing to do it themselves but as far as the rest is concerned we snatch what we want through discipline and hard work. We create opportunities NOTHING is handed to us.

Could you shed more ore light on your company LXG International Inc and your other programs that are used in helping to the build the next generation of entrepreneurs in Senegal, a young Senegalese told us that within five years you have turned atleast ten young Senegalese into millionaires, is this true and if so how have you done this? 

The major program is called Risk Innovation Social Entrepreneurship. I started it in Senegal on December 12 2012 to fight unemployment and poverty in Africa. I don t believe in poverty in Africa and we have the solution. Every African should be at least able to cover his basic needs of having a place to live, food to eat, a decent education, and the capability to pay for basic medical bills.

The RISE program is an entrepreneurship and leadership program that teaches any individual how to go from nothing to something. It’s a very tough program and at the end of it the best candidates receive an investment of 4 to 18 thousand dollars. Directly linked to me, 6 have made millions the rest are on the way. Indirectly, meaning those that were trained by us but went on their own, quite a few.

Since 2012 we have trained thousands and thousands of people, hundreds have started their own small businesses and we have invested in at least 15.

Another program is called DSB which stands for ” Demal Suñu Bopp” meaning it lets  do it ourselves. It is an economic movement that I created again to fight unemployment and poverty. It is a continuation of RISE, to help us raise awareness with a broader audience to teach them the same thing: how to go from nothing to something. The motto of the movement is “get richer to serve more”. There are thousands of members throughout Senegal with one thing in common, they are doing it themselves, and all we provide is the coaching through a system that allows them to get it done without the help of the government, or any form of entity.

What criteria are used in selecting those who benefit from your knowledge and resources and how has the government of Senegal viewed or supported these initiatives? 

The criteria are quite simple: discipline, a good heart, a willingness to learn and get better, and a capacity to grasp our teachings. The government has supported me by letting me do what I do without bothering me. I couldn’t t tell you what their views are.

One of the latest initiatives you are floating now is an entrepreneurship competition or program with the concept of people starting and growing a business with $3.50, can you shed more light on this? 

We have 500 Million people living under $1.50 a day. To fight this and the illegal migration that you mentioned earlier we launched this challenge. The candidates have to start a business with $3.50 or less and a month later they will have to show their financial results and immediate social impact. There will be 3 rounds. The winner will take home about 2000 dollars and there will also be a special prize for the best female entrepreneur. The objective is to spread the fact it is possible to start with little or no money, and to help people understand that they can do it themselves.

Is this new initiative going to be limited just to Senegal or there are plans to expand the concept to other parts of the continent? 

It is opened to all Africans. They can participate in Senegal.  And anybody in any given country can run with the concept and we will assist him or her.

Africa has a very strong diaspora, how can this diaspora be turned into a solid force that can participate in a more significant and impactful  way in transforming the continent ? 

Our leaders have to create a healthy secure welcoming environment that will make them want to come back. In the meantime the diaspora cannot wait for our leaders. They have to at least share their experiences with the people that did not have a chance to leave the continent. For example they can try to at least share their knowledge with someone on the continent. Nowadays through social media “everyone far is close”. We need everyone in order to get this ship moving. Remember there are always two things to share knowledge and money.

You are also author of the book Fortress of a Leader, what is the message that you see to convey with the book? 

Some characters that one might need to become a leader. It is more like a handy pocket guide to leadership.

A last question on how you view the future for young Africans and the continent as a whole, what are your hopes and fears? 

Hopes: a new generation of very strong leaders with new foundations are on the RISE.

My fears are that our youth gets consumed by sports music dance or politics thinking that those are the only ways to make it in Africa.

Thanks for granting this interview Badou

Thanks for having me. Stay blessed Ajong.

 

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Africa’s little miracle nation turns fifty
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

From apparently hopeless beginnings, Mauritius has become one of Africa’s most celebrated countries. But tough challenges are on the horizon.

BY SEÁN CAREY*

Mauritius. Credit: Miwok.

Mauritius. Credit: Miwok.

The story of how Mauritius defied the gloomy predictions of its fate is well told. A few years before independence in 1968, Nobel-prize-winning economist James Meade wrote the little island in the Indian Ocean off as a basket case. A few years after independence, writer V. S. Naipaul dismissed the nation as an “overcrowded barracoon”.

Yet Mauritius proved them wrong and went on to become one of Africa’s most lauded nations. It regularly tops indices for political freedoms, rule of law and human development on the continent. It has had ten competitive elections and seven peaceful transfers of power. And it is frequently held up as an exemplar of political stability and cohesion, containing within it several ethnic groups – including Hindus, Muslims, Afro-Creoles, and Sino- and Franco-Mauritius – all living together in relative harmony.

In 2011, the island’s various successes even led Joseph Stiglitz to wax lyrical about what he called “The Mauritius Miracle“. The Nobel laureate called on the US and other advanced economies to emulate the country and learn from its approach to free education, healthcare and strong social security net.

As it prepares to turn 50 years old on 12 March, the current government is understandably keen to build on this reputation and legacy. Among other things, the ruling coalition, led by the 56-year-old Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, has said it wants Mauritius to go from being an upper-middle-income country to a high-income one in the coming years.

As a plucky outsider that has always exceeded expectation, this may seem like a viable goal for the island. However, as it settles into its fifth decade of independence, Mauritius may find that it has to come up with some new ways of thinking if it is to continue to develop – both economically and politically – rather than stumble into a mid-life crisis.

Betting on blue

Economically, Mauritius’ growth over the last five years has been in the range of a modest 3-4%. The Bank of Mauritius has forecast growth of 4.2% for 2018. This would be enviable for many countries, but is a significant slowdown compared to the heady years of 1980s and 1990s when the economy expanded mostly on the back of the sugar industry, tourism, textiles and financial services.

The big hope of the current government is that a similar boost could now come from the ocean economy. The idea is that activities such as fishing, the extraction of hydrocarbons and minerals, marine biotechnology, and the generation of renewable energy will supercharge GDP for years to come.

So far the most significant development on this front has come from fish farming, with some products now being exported to Europe and the US. Overall, however, it is evident that significant financial and technical expertise from overseas will be required if other more capital-intensive businesses are going to take off. As a 2017 World Bank report warned, doubling Mauritius’ ocean economy “is possible and worthwhile, but it will take time”.

In trying to attract foreign direct investment, Mauritius certainly has an advantage in the fact that global institutions have long heaped praise on the island for its stable governance, democratic norms and openness to business. It also has the benefit of having a reputation for having shown vision and flexibility to new economic challenges in the past. As the Bertelsmann Stiftungs’ Transformation Index (BTI) 2018 country report puts it: “Mauritius’ governments have shown their creativity in the past at adapting to new geopolitical and geo-economic circumstances”.

Mauritius’ dynastic politics

Socially, Mauritius has been praised for how its several different ethnic groups co-exist cooperatively. One dynamic contributing to this stability may be the fact that the island has no indigenous population, meaning no single group has any greater claim to the island than any other. Another factor that may add to good relations is the high population density; 1.3 million citizens squeezed onto 2,040 square km enhances the need for cordial interchanges.

However, a third important factor is the unspoken division of political power. For example, Franco- and Sino-Mauritians do not seek political office by and large, leaving the field open to aspiring Hindus, Muslims and Afro-Creoles.

This avoids certain tensions and rivalry, though it has also contributed to the fact that Mauritius’ political system has always been dominated by middle-class men from the Hindu community, a group that makes up just over half the population. In fact, despite having enjoyed seven transfers of power, the very top of Mauritius’ politics has been even more exclusive. For 48 of the past 50 years, the country has been led by either Seewoosagur Ramgoolam or Anerood Jugnauth, or more recently by their respective sons Navin and Pravind.

Although this has occurred against a backdrop of impressive democratic engagement and vibrancy, there are signs the Mauritian people are getting tired after half a century in which the premiership has been almost completely controlled by just two families. In January 2017, Anerood Jugnauth passed power to his son without the say-so of the electorate. Knowing how much this move contributed to its unpopularity and deepened its reputation for corruption and cronyism, the main party in the ruling coalition, the Mouvement Socialiste Militant (MSM), decided to avoid contesting a recent by-election.

The Chagos question

Whatever their political differences, there is one cause that currently unites all mainstream Mauritian politicians: the Chagos islands.

This archipelago had been an integral part of Mauritian territory since 1814. But a few years before Mauritius gained independence from the UK, the islands were carved off to become the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The UK lent the archipelago’s largest island, Diego Garcia, to the US to use as a strategic military base. In the process, around 1,500 islanders were forcibly removed and abandoned in Port Louis, the Mauritian capital, and, to a lesser extent, the Seychelles.

Without questioning the continued operation of the US base, Mauritian policy in recent years has been to dispute the UK’s claim to BIOT and its appalling treatment of the exiled islanders. A Mauritian resolution at the UN to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the Chagos’ sovereignty was passed in June 2017 by 94 to 15. Interestingly, most European countries – including France, Germany and Italy – as well as China abstained, despite considerable pressure from the UK and US. The Court in The Hague is due to give its verdict later this year or in 2019.

New challenges

As the Chagos issue, together with the country’s economic progress and resilience illustrates, Mauritius has come a long way in establishing its independence. However, the Jugnauth father-to-son transfer of power last year along with the alleged involvement of political elites in corruption and drug scandals casts a shadow on the country’s positive prospects.

Among other things, it clearly shows the increasingly urgent need for Mauritius reconfigure its political leadership. As the forthcoming BTI report 2018 puts it: “New and younger politicians, not strongly affiliated with the ruling elite, can help to further the country’s image as a post-colonial success story, which is highly likely to continue.”

As Mauritius reaches the 50th anniversary of its independence, Meade’s and Naipaul’s predictions have been proved decisively wrong. However, building on this and becoming a high-income country may be more challenging than the current government is prepared to admit.

*Culled from African Arguments.Seán Carey is honorary senior research fellow in the School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester and fellow of the Young Foundation.

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FG Reassures Media on Commitment To Press Freedom ‎… Pleads on fair reportage
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Olayinka Ajayi
From left: Former Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority, Dr. Tonnie Iredia; the Executive Director, International Press Institute (IPI), Ms. Barbara Trionfi; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Chairman IPI Nigeria, Mallam Kabiru Yusuf and the Secretary IPI Nigeria, Mr. Raheem Adedoyin, during a courtesy visit to the Minister in Abuja on Thursday

From left: Former Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority, Dr. Tonnie Iredia; the Executive Director, International Press Institute (IPI), Ms. Barbara Trionfi; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Chairman IPI Nigeria, Mallam Kabiru
Yusuf and the Secretary IPI Nigeria, Mr. Raheem Adedoyin, during a courtesy visit to the Minister in Abuja on Thursday

The Federal Government of Nigeria has restated it’s commitment to the freedom of the press, saying the media has nothing to fear from President Buhari led Administration.

Speaking on behalf of the government, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Muhamed stated this in Abuja when he received a delegation from the International Press Institute (IPI) on a courtesy visit to his office.
“The media has nothing to fear from the government but, on the contrary, we are the ones that cannot sleep with our eyes closed because of the media,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed, who said the government always takes criticism from the media in good faith, however, appealed to the media to be fair and constructive in its criticisms.
“This government will never stifle the media. We take so many punches everyday from the media. We are not saying please don’t criticize us, do criticize us, but please do your own homework thoroughly and also be fair to us. That’s all we are asking. Please criticize us on facts and not on emotion,” he said.
The Minister said the present administration believes that democracy cannot thrive without a free press but noted that the media should report the government within the context of the daunting challenges facing the nation, most of which were inherited by the Administration.
He said the government is on a rescue mission, but noted that the rot of 16 years cannot be corrected within two and a half years.
Alhaji Mohammed said the Administration succeeded in preventing a total collapse of the economy and has returned the country to the path of economic growth and sustainable development.
He thanked the IPI for its confidence in Nigeria by granting the country the hosting right for its annual congress, saying the IPI World Congress 2018, scheduled for Abuja on 21-23 June, will give the government the opportunity to showcase its achievements to the
international media.
In her remarks, the Executive Director of IPI, Ms. Barbara Trionfi, said she is in the country to interface with media professionals towards the successful hosting of the forthcoming congress.
She commended the government for its efforts towards promoting press freedom and the safety of journalists in the country, and tasked the media industry to look beyond business rivalry and competition in order to cooperate and promote the core values of journalism.
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Adesina Urges America to Support African Agriculture as a Business
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
I do not seek aid for Africa. I seek investments in Africa – Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture

ARLINGTON, United States of America, February 22, 2018/ — The President of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has made a strong case for increased American and global investments to help unlock Africa’s agriculture potential.

He made the remarks as the Distinguished Guest Speaker, at the USDA’s 94th Agriculture Outlook Forum (www.USDA.gov/oce/forum) in Virginia on Thursday, on the theme The Roots of Prosperity.

According to Adesina, “For too long, Agriculture has been associated with what I call the three Ps – pain, penury, and poverty. The fact though is that agriculture is a huge wealth-creating sector that is primed to unleash new economic opportunities that will lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”

Participants at the Forum included the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue; Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Stephen Censky; President of the World Food Prize Foundation, Kenneth Quinn; Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Robert Johansson; Deputy Chief Economist, Warren Preston; and several top level government officials and private sector operators.

Adesina appealed to the US private sector to fundamentally change the way it views African agriculture.

“Think about it, the size of the food and agriculture market in Africa will rise to US $ 1 trillion by 2030. This is the time for US agri-businesses to invest in Africa,” he said. ‘’And for good reason: Think of a continent where McKinsey projects household consumption is expected to reach nearly $2.1 trillion and business-to-business expenditure will reach $3.5 trillion by 2025. Think of a continent brimming with 840 million youth, the youngest population in the world, by 2050.”

The U.S. government was urged to be at the forefront of efforts to encourage fertilizer and seed companies, manufacturers of tractors and equipment, irrigation and ICT farm analytics to ramp up their investments on the continent.

“As the nation that first inspired me and then welcomed me with open arms, permit me to say that I am here to seek a partnership with America: a genuine partnership to help transform agriculture in Africa, and by so doing unlock the full potential of agriculture in Africa, unleash the creation of wealth that will lift millions out of poverty in Africa, while creating wealth and jobs back home right here in America,” the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate  told the Forum.”

Adesina told more than 2,000 delegates that the African Development Bank is spearheading a number of transformative business and agricultural initiatives.

“We are launching the Africa Investment Forum, as a 100% transactional platform, to leverage global pension funds and other institutional investors to invest in Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa from November 7-9.”

The World Bank, International Finance Corporation, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, are partnering with the African Investment Forum to de-risk private sector investments.

The African Development Bank is also pioneering the establishment of Staple Crop Processing Zones  in 10 African countries, that are expected to transform rural economies into zones of economic prosperity and save African economies billions of dollars in much needed foreign reserves.

“We must now turn the rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity. This requires a total transformation of the agriculture sector. At the core of this must be rapid agricultural industrialization. We must not just focus on primary production but on the development of agricultural value chains,” Adesina added. “That way, Africa will turn from being at the bottom to the top of global value chains.”

In his keynote address U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, said:

“The U.S. Administration has removed more restrictive regulations to agriculture than any other administration. Our goal is to dismantle restrictions that have eroded agricultural business opportunities.”

“Agriculture feeds prosperity and accounts for 20 cents of every dollar. As global prosperity grows, it in turn fuels the demand for more nutritious food and business opportunities,” he added.

In his concluding remarks, Adesina informed participants about a new $ 1 billion initiative, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) to unlock Africa’s huge potential in the savannahs.

Expressing strong optimism that the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come from agriculture, Adesina said:

“Together, let our roots of prosperity grow downwards and bear fruit upwards. As we do, rural Africa and rural America will brim with new life, much like I witnessed in Indiana, during my time as a graduate student in America. Then, we will have changed the 3 ‘Ps’ to – Prosperity, Prosperity and Prosperity!”

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 44 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

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ACBF appointed African Union specialised agency for capacity development
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission with African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) management after ceremony in Harare

Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission with African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) management after ceremony in Harare

The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) has been appointed as a specialised agency for capacity development by the African Union (AU) at a ceremony endorsed by Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of
the African Union Commission in Harare.

Under the new framework, capacity development activities ACBF is going to undertake under will include enhancing skills required to achieve sustainable development,strengthening the human and institutional capacity of national and regional institutions,promoting economic and social transformation through policy formulation,implementation, monitoring and evaluation focusing on Africa’s developmental agenda and generating and sharing knowledge on capacity development.

It is reported that the African Union Commission shall, subject to its applicable internal procedures facilitate effective collaboration with ACBF Agency through the commission and other relevant organs of the Union, collaborate with the ACBF Agency in joint resource mobilization initiatives for the financing of
capacity building interventions in the continent and facilitate the ACBF Agency role in coordinating capacity building initiatives on the African continent.

The ACBF agency shall also create a consultative forum in which Africans may participate as full partners in the establishment of priorities and the development of policies and programs to promote capacity building in policy analysis and development management, establish processes for coordinating capacity building efforts in
policy formulation and implementation that would lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness of
ongoing donor efforts, coordinate resource mobilization to provide funding and resources for capacity building in Africa, lead, coordinate and champion production of fit-for-purpose, high-quality, and timely capacity development knowledge in support of the implementation of Africa’s development priorities, coordinate
knowledge connection (government, private sector and academia), facilitation and sharing to improve development practices, coordinate capacity development advisory services and training at continental, regional and country levels to translate capacity development knowledge and learning into relevant and innovative methods and
practices, support the emergence of a knowledge-based economy to sustain development results
in Africa, publish and disseminate information related to capacity building and capacity
utilization in Africa, collaborate with national, bilateral or multilateral institutions carrying out specific capacity building and capacity utilization activities in Africa.

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The politics of fear is dying out in Africa
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Netsanet Belay*

FROM LEFT: President Uhuru Kenyata, former President Jacob Zuma and former Prime Minister Hailemariam

FROM LEFT: President Uhuru Kenyata, former President Jacob Zuma and former Prime Minister Hailemariam

Lenin was once quoted as saying, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” This could perfectly describe the past week in Africa. Across the continent, a number of game-changing political developments have followed each other in quick succession in one of the most tumultuous weeks of any decade.

In South Africa, Jacob Zuma resigned after a presidency marked by corruption and impunity. Shortly after, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stood down following months of intensifying public protest. In the same week, Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s long-standing opposition leader, passed away after a lifetime spent challenging human rights violations under former President Robert Mugabe.
The pace of these successive changes has been significant, but the ground has been stirring for some time. Last year Africa bid farewell to its three longest-serving leaders: Yahya Jammeh of Gambia (22 years), José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola (38 years) and Zimbabwe’s Mugabe (37 years) — all leaders of governments known for their brutal repression of dissent.
Given the scale and long history of the repression enacted by these governments, many thought they would not live to see their end. In Gambia, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, recent developments were unthinkable — until they happened.
Who could have imagined that the gates of Ethiopia’s notorious prisons would open so widely, allowing thousands of prisoners of conscience to walk free? That Eskinder Nega, the courageous journalist who spent seven years behind bars for criticizing the government, would finally be reunited with his family?
Who in Gambia would have believed that Ousainou Darboe and Amadou Sanneh, two former Amnesty International prisoners of conscience who spent years in jail for speaking out against repression, would be ministers in the new government?
Who would have dared to question the reign of dos Santos and see his family lose its grip over Angola’s oil industry and wealth?
The growing resilience of people standing up against repression and demanding respect for human rights is a cause for hope in uncertain times. It suggests the politics of fear may finally be withering away.
Since 2016, mass protests and people’s movements — often articulated and organized through social media — have swept the continent.
#Oromoprotests and #amaharaprotests in Ethiopia, #ThisFlag in Zimbabwe and #FeesMustFall in South Africa were some of the most powerful manifestations of this growing defiance. These protests were often spontaneous, viral and driven by ordinary citizens, in particular young people who bear the triple burden of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
This trend continued in 2017. From Lomé to Freetown, Khartoum to Kampala and Kinshasa to Luanda, people went out to the streets in large numbers, ignoring threats and bans on protests and refusing to back down even in the face of brutal clampdowns.
The triggers for these protests vary. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it was delays in publishing the electoral calendar that got people out on the streets; in Chad it was an increase in the fees charged to traders at the N’Djamena Millet Market; in Togo it was hikes in oil prices; in Kenya it was frustrations over the electoral process.
But what unites them is the strength in defiance and the demand for change, inclusion and freedom. While some of these protests had violent elements — mostly in reaction to heavy-handed clampdowns — the majority were peaceful and driven by a demand for basic rights and dignity.
And there is every reason to believe that this trend is unstoppable.
Amnesty International’s report on the state of the world’s human rights documents how 2017 saw the arbitrary and brutal suppression of the right to peaceful protest in more than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including through unlawful bans, excessive use of force, harassment and arbitrary arrests.
But this did little to silence dissent despite the best efforts of those who want to crush and silence dissent. In fact, it is becoming clearer that failing to respect freedoms and fulfill human rights obligations is ultimately self-defeating.
This should serve as a wake-up call to all governments that the solution to lasting peace and stability lies in guaranteeing more freedoms, not less. Political shifts mean nothing if they don’t result in greater respect for human rights. People who care about freedom and equality are ultimately concerned not with which leader is in power, but whether or not they respect human rights.
Only time will tell what these political changes will truly mean for us Africans — especially for the poor, the young, the marginalized, the repressed and silenced.
But what is clear is that people across the continent are not willing to wait decades to find out.
*Culled from CNN.Netsanet Belay is Amnesty International’s director of Africa research and advocacy. The opinions in this article belong to the author.
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