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Continental Free Trade Area Is Africa’s Path To Self-Reliance & Prosperity” – President Akufo-Addo
June 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
President Akufo-Addo was speaking at a State Banquet held in his honour by the President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Edgar Lungu, on Tuesday, June 27, 2017

President Akufo-Addo was speaking at a State Banquet held in his honour by the President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Edgar Lungu, on Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has urged African leaders to hasten the coming into being of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).

According to President Akufo-Addo, “if we remain resolute and see to its realisation, we will obtain a major boost to the development of our economies, and a considerable reduction on our dependence on foreign goods and services. It is the path to collective self-reliance and prosperity.”

It will be recalled that Heads of State and Governments who attended the 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, in January this year, signed up to the implementation of the CFTA.

The purpose of the free-trade area is to ensure significant growth of Intra-Africa trade, as well as assisting countries on the continent use trade more effectively as an engine of growth and for sustainable development.

The CFTA will also reduce the vulnerability of the continent to external shocks, and will also enhance the participation of Africa in global trade as a respectable partner, thereby reducing the continent’s dependence on foreign aid and external borrowing.

President Akufo-Addo was speaking at a State Banquet held in his honour by the President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Edgar Lungu, on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, when he made this known.

He noted that for a continent that has made the choice of pursuing integration, Africa has not done much in liberalizing and promoting trade amongst member countries.

“Research has shown that countries or groups of countries with the largest share of world trade are located within regions with the highest share of intra-regional trade. Trade between African nations remains low compared to other parts of the world,” he lamented.

In 2000, intra-continental trade accounted for 10% of Africa’s total trade, and increased marginally to 11% in 2015. Trading amongst members of the European Union, for example, amounted to 70% in 2015. Intra-African trade is still estimated at less than two percent (2%) of global trade.

“With these very low levels of trade and investment co-operation in Africa, we must put in place deliberate measures aimed at expanding trade and business collaborations to improve the prospects for prosperity of our peoples,” he added.

The coming into effect of the CFTA, the President was confident, would bring progress and prosperity to the African peoples.

With Africa’s population of 1.2 billion set to expand to 2 billion people in 20 years, the President stressed that “this means that a genuine continental market in Africa should be in our economic interest, for it will present immense opportunities to bring prosperity to the peoples in our continent with hard work, creativity and enterprise.”

It is for this reason that President Akufo-Addo noted that “we should no longer delay the process of African integration. A functioning, common continental market has to be a very fundamental objective of all the peoples and governments on the continent, an objective that will consolidate the process of structural transformation of our national economies on which we must be engaged.”

Intensify Ghana & Zambia links

President Akufo-Addo, in his remarks, also called for the intensification of the links between Ghanaian and Zambian enterprises.

With Zambia and Ghana recording similar GDP growth rates in 2016, i.e., 3.3% and 3.6% respectively, as a result of high fiscal deficits, low investor confidence, falling commodity prices and low agricultural productivity, President Akufo-Addo explained that the time has come for the two countries to move away from being mere producers and exporters of raw materials.

“There can be no future prosperity for our peoples in the short, medium or long term, if we continue to maintain economic structures dependent on the production and export of raw materials. Unless we industrialise, with the goal of adding significant value to our primary products, we cannot create the necessary numbers of good-paying jobs that will enhance the living standards of the masses of our country,” he said.

To this end, President Akufo-Addo outlined a number of policies he has initiated since assuming office in January 2017, which has shifted the focus of Ghana’s economy from taxation to production.

He also applauded his Zambian counterpart for his recently approved National Development Plan, on the theme “Accelerating development efforts towards vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind”.

The Zambian programme is hinged on the pillars of economic diversification and job creation, reduced poverty and vulnerability, reduced developmental inequalities, enhancing human development, and conducive governance environment for economic diversification, to create a diversified economy for sustained growth and economic development is highly commendable.

“The transformation of our two economies we seek through these measures should make our enterprises and businesses very competitive in Africa, and beyond,” he added.

*Presidency Ghana

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Quett Masire (1925-2017), the great African leader you’ve never heard of
June 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
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World Food Prize goes to African Development Bank president •June 26, 2017
June 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

By DAVID PITT*

Dr Akinwunmi Adesina

Dr Akinwunmi Adesina

The son of a Nigerian farm laborer who rose out of poverty to earn graduate degrees in agricultural economics and spent his career improving the availability of seed, fertilizer and financing for African farmers is the winner of this year’s World Food Prize announced Monday.

Akinwumi Adesina, president of African Development Bank, says the future of global food security relies on making farming in Africa a profitable business and developing local food processing that adds value to agricultural products to help move farmers out of poverty.

“I believe that what Africa does with agriculture and how it does it is not only important for Africa but it’s important for how we’re going to feed the world by 2050 because 65 percent of all the uncultivated arable land left in the world is in Africa,” he said. “To help Africa get it right in agriculture is also going to be a key part of securing food for the world.”

World Food Prize President Kenneth Quinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, said those goals are one reason the organization’s board chose Adesina this year for the $250,000 prize.

An official announcement for the World Food Prize came in a ceremony Monday at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue hosting the event. Adesina, 57, works in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where the African Development Bank is based. He will receive the prize in a ceremony Oct. 19 at the Iowa Capitol.

“Dr. Adesina knows that our work is not done. The challenge of feeding 9 billion people in just a short time will continue as we address the hunger issue,” Perdue said. “At USDA we keep that in mind as the world population grows and we want to be a huge contributor in providing the food needed to resolve and to supply the global demand for that vital noble resource.”

The World Food Prize was created by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug in 1986 to recognize scientists and others who have improved the quality and availability of food. The foundation that awards the prize is based in Des Moines, Iowa.

The award recognizes several of Adesina’s accomplishments including:

—Negotiating a partnership between commercial banks and development organizations to provide loans to tens of thousands of farmers and agribusinesses in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Mozambique.

— Creating programs to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production and to help cassava become a major cash crop while serving as Nigeria’s minister of agriculture from 2011 to 2015.

—Helping to end more than 40 years of corruption in the fertilizer and seed sectors in Nigeria by launching an electronic wallet system that directly provides farmers with vouchers redeemable for inputs using mobile phones. The resulting increased farm yields have led to the improvement of food security for 40 million people in rural farm households.

Adesina said it’s vitally important to show young people in rural regions of Africa that farming can be profitable and can improve their lives as a way to stem terrorist recruitment efforts. He said high unemployment among young people, high or extreme poverty, and climate and environmental degradation all contribute to conditions in which terrorists thrive. He said these factors make up “the disaster triangle.”

“Anywhere you find those you find terrorists operating. It never fails,” he said.

Adesina grew up in poverty in a rural area of Nigeria and said his father and grandfather walked fields as laborers. After his father was chosen for a government job, Adesina was able to go to college. He earned agriculture economics degrees — both a master’s and a doctorate — from Purdue University in Indiana.

As a student, he said he saw that classmates were able to attend school when agriculture afforded them the opportunity, but they dropped out when it didn’t. He said from that experience he learned making agriculture profitable so families can provide their children with an education was a key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

He said he often thinks of the hundreds of millions of young, rural African people whose opportunities are limited because of what is happening with agriculture.

“So in a way for me this is not a job,” Adesina said. “This is a mission. And I believe that in getting agriculture to be a business — turning our rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic opportunity — therein lies the future of Africa’s youth, especially those rural youths.”

*AP/ABC News

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Namibia is Taking The Lead In Africa’s Economic Advancement-Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein
June 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Namibia's Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein

Namibia’s Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein

The African continent is on the march and there are many indicators to show that it is our time, says Calle Schlettwein, Namibia’s Minister of Finance. From its youthful population, to abundance of natural resources, agricultural lands, and improving institutional architecture, the African continent is stepping up its ability to host quality investments, says Mr Schlettwein. Interviewed recently  in Washington, DC,  where he was part of the Namibian delegation at the Corporate Council On Africa hosted US-Africa Business Forum, Calle Schlettwein said his country; Namibia was at the forefront of the economic opportunities that Africa offers.

“We, as Namibia offer a stable environment with good business opportunities not only in Namibia itself, but in, and on behalf of the African Continent,” Minister Schlettwein said.

In addition to marketing the investment and economic opportunities of his country at the forum, Mr. Schlettwein said the trip was also an opportunity to get a feel of what the new US Administration had in store for Africa. There is a very unclear picture on the African policy of the administration and it may just be business as usual, said  Calle Schlettwein.

Discussing the Geingob Administration in Namibia, the Minister said it had succeeded in making economic reforms that kept the country stable in the face of global crisis. He cited a litany of areas where adjustments done by the Administration have kept Namibia surging.

PAV:   Mr. Schlettwein, good afternoon and welcome to Washington D.C.

CALLE SCHLETTWEIN: You’re welcome! I’m happy to be with you.

PAV:  You are in Washington DC to attend the USA, Africa Business Summit and you are the Minister of Finance for Namibia. What are your impressions so far?

CALLE SCHLETTWEIN:    Well thank you very much. I think we are happy to be here we have had an association with US/Africa Council so I think again it is a useful exercise to come up with basically two things.  We came here to firstly to get and feel what the new U.S.A Administration has in mind when it comes to Africa, trade with Africa, cooperation with Africa, business with Africa.  And then secondly, we want to of course also share with the U.S. business community here what opportunities we have, what systems we can offer and where we would be able to engage in a meaningful way to develop Africa, to deepen the partnership between Africa and the U.S. business community and I think that, that was the objective and we can say, yes we achieve what we came for.

PAV:   With regards to the new U.S. administrations, what impressions are you taking back to Namibia with regards to its approach to Africa, are you enthusiastic? Are you happy with what you saw?

CALLE SCHLETTWEIN:  What I think all of us saw, is that there is as yet an unclear picture of what the new administration has in mind for Africa.  And therefore it, it appears as if it is business as usual! There is nothing that we could pick up that is dramatically changing. That’s the first point, the second point, I do believe that the notion of America first is not a new one; it has probably always been there but the nuance is shifting and it is that nuance where we have to get the details and see what the impact of that is.

Hopefully it is an opportunity for Africa also and not only, a more difficult situation that has created but we are positive and we do believe that there are opportunities coming our way and we want to utilize them. 

PAV:  President Geingob was expected  and he isn’t here,  any particular reason why he finally stayed away from the summit?

CALLE SCHLETTWEIN:  President Geingob has a very close relationship with this summit. He would have wanted to be here but you know one of our  big icons of the liberation struggle, Comrade Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo passed on and of course that created a need for our President to be there and that prevented him from coming here. So it was not that he didn’t want to, it was circumstances  that dictated.

PAV: On opportunities in Namibia, you are here also to present economic and investment opportunities that are available in your country. Can you share some of the opportunities that are there? If American businesses are looking for opportunities in Namibia, what are some of the areas that they should lookout for?

CALLE SCHLETTWEIN: I think there are many but let me focus on the more important ones.  First of all I think we can say that Namibia is a very stable economic climate to invest in.  We are economically stable, we are politically stable, we have a good infrastructure, and we have a sophisticated financial sector.  What Namibia wants to portray itself and that’s where the opportunities are. If we want to sell ourselves as a hub that provides access into Southern Africa, we can do that through our port, our transport infrastructure that links the hinterland of Namibia very well. Landlocked countries can also cross the whole Southern Africa.  That brings about opportunities in investments in the Transport Sector, Infrastructure, Roads, Rails and also the Logistics Service Sector. So the whole transport orientated hub and entry into Southern Africa that’s one large opportunity.

We are at the same time,  of course having, we have our Power Sector, our Electricity Sector,  there, we want to put a lot of emphasis on alternative fuel sources and we believe it’s one of the driest places so solar is an option that offers tremendous opportunities. But even with wind, we have got wind regimes that are absolute top of the lots.  We want to become a nation that is not only self-sufficient with electricity provision but being exporters from highest point of view, it would change our balance of payments situation. It would even affect to us being better you know, foreign currency. Our Current Accounts will do well, all the benefits are there.

The same as for water, we are a dry country but water provision is an important method so Desalination Plants are our only regards to be developed in addition to other Water Infrastructure they’re building.

We believe that the African continent is on the march and it is our time says Minister Calle Schlettwein here in a file picture with President Hage Geingob

We believe that the African continent is on the march and it is our time says Minister Calle Schlettwein here in a file picture with President Hage Geingob

 Then on the social side, it is in mass housing. We believe that, we know our housing fall or has fall back.  People need houses so there is a huge effort at the moment from government and also the private sector to provide housing and sanitation to majority of our people. That brings about a whole set of opportunities in the Construction Sector, in the Water Sector, in the Services Sector that  would be needed to drive this initiative which will be long term, it is not a short term, one year only effort, but rather a big effort.

Education of course is so important a sector that we believe on the social side  needs to be prioritized. We spend about a quarter of our budget year in year out in education, that must remain, we must beef it up. We must create, we must lift our standards of education, we must fork out into vocational training, get our skills needed for industrialization beefed up. So the Education Sector is in a sector where there also economic opportunities because we have an open system, we do not insist that the only education system would be the Public Sector, we do launch out into the Private Sector. So I think on the social side as well as the production side, there are big economic opportunities, business opportunities.

Agriculture is one sector that we need to look at; it is employment rich so all the aspects, whether it’s livestock, whether it’s grain, the types of production, whether it’s horticulture, they are significant options to trade with us and lastly Tourism.

Namibia is a strong country for tourism, we have very pristine areas. At the same time infrastructures lends itself to take tourists in a safe and comfortable way to these sites. So Tourism is sector, Service Sector that you want to push very hard and we need partners to unfold and make uses of these opportunities.

PAV:  A few weeks back, Namibia launched its fifth National Plan. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

CALLE SCHLETTWEIN:    Yeah! The fifth National Development Plan is a long and medium term view of what the priorities are to address our economic, our social needs.  It is supplemented with a prosperity plan, the Harambee Prosperity Plan, which is not replacing but rather enhancing it. It has the emphasis in the areas that I just indicated.

On the social side we have to address poverty, we have to address inequality in our societies and to do that we must be smart in where we allocate economic opportunity, what our conditions for investments are so that we make sure that our  gains in the economy address inequalities and poverty. And equally our resource allocation when it comes to lifting, not just in poverty, lifting people out of poverty, addressing poverty,  addressing inequalities would be guided by NDP5. 

We have taken, because we think that those two areas the main economic hurdles that we have to negotiate; inequality and poverty but we cannot do that without economic growth and without addressing the needs of the productive sector and that’s where our infrastructural development programme comes in, and I believe that as it is true for many other African countries, that we have to upgrade our infrastructure. We have to be on par with the developed world leaders and there we talk about our water, but we should not forget I.T.  If you haven’t got it, if you’re not connected you will struggle and lastly, as I also said, education will be the mainstay on the social side of skills that would create academic opportunities, be it vocational needs or other, a big push is needed to be on par, and that we can make Africa the giant that it wants to be. 

PAV: If this is the fifth plan, it means there was a fourth plan, so if you’re trying to look at what the fourth plan achieved, where all the goals attained?

CALLE SCHLETTWEIN: Well the first time, no! Unfortunately we didn’t get the satisfaction that all our targets of the fourth plan were achieved. Now the reasons, a number of them, but mainly the fact that Namibia is a very open small economy so we’re very vulnerable to actually have used that thrust.  The commodity prices thresh and droughts and concept opportunity had negative effects on Namibia so we couldn’t support from the resource allocation basis all the targets that we had set ourselves.  So, but we didn’t do too bad, our growth rates were still, with the exception of last year are about five percent.

Namibia offers a stable environment with good business opportunities says Calle Schlettwein piictured here PAV's Ajong Mbapndah L on the sidelines of the recent US-Africa Business Summit In Washington,DC

Namibia offers a stable environment with good business opportunities says Calle Schlettwein piictured here PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah L on the sidelines of the recent US-Africa Business Summit In Washington,DC

We were and we are one of the very, very few countries in the world that managed to improve poverty and lift people out of poverty and we were at the same time also successful  in narrowing the gap so inequalities decreased and that was the main aim of NDP4.  In that area, we are not where we want to be but we did improve and that is I think, a great achievement and that is why we maintained economic stability. Our democratic institutions are consolidated, we are safe and secure, and we’ve got no enemies so the Namibian story is a good story to tell. 

PAV: President Geingob is in his second year in office now and if you were to cite a list of things that his government has achieved, what would there include?

CALLE SCHLETTWEIN: Okay, his term of office, he’s in the third year.

PAV:  Thank you! Thanks for the correction.

CALLE SCHLETTWEIN:  What we have achieved is first of all to maintain peace and stability, macroeconomic stability and one of the great achievements I think that we can already book is that up to now Namibia is the only country on the African Continent that has an investment grade pleasant rating and is issuing Eurobonds and that gives great comfort to investors that Namibia is a small open economy that could dwell under storm and it was a storm not made by us but it was a consequences of actually induced factors and the fact that the Geingob government took the right steps to whether the storm and to maintain its  great rating and investment grade, I think it’s a fantastic achievement! 

I think the next thing that we achieved is that we realize that the resources that are to our avail must bring about a better quality of spending. So , for the last three years we have reallocated resources away from, nice to have, away from non-essential activities to activities that are focused on our main reliance and poverty alleviation, inequality and economic growth. So there are new projects that we have on the social side like the Food Bank to address hunger and poverty; that took off and had an immediate impact.

We improved our social safety networks, improving,and doubling the grants that we give to elderly people.  That’s had an important impact on the most vulnerable group being lifted out of poverty and of course had certain effects in communities that were cash low, cash strapped. So on the social network side I think we improved Social Security and that one must remember is all done in a period of time where resources are scarce and limited. We also improved our infrastructure.  We have a number of significant road projects that come to a conclusion, our rail is restructured and then maybe lastly, we are in the process of revamping our state of enterprises.

They was a drain on the budget, public sources were wasted to a certain extent in public entities and the President has taken the bold step to review them, bring about a better quality of spending and delivery of quality services to the people. We are as you know, only in the third year, these are important reviews because they are bearing fruit and we are very confident that in the next years when they come to the conclusion that we will be coming out better out of this hard times when we have headwinds economically. So we will be much fitter, much leaner to grab opportunities.

PAV: As we wrap up this interview, any last words to investors in Washington D.C and around the world who would like to come to Namibia as a destination?

CALLE SCHLETTWEIN:  Yes, thank you! Well we believe that the African continent is on the march, it is our time. We have a number of indicators that are pointing into our favour. It’s the youthful population, we have an abundance of resources whether it is agricultural lands, or mineral resources or fishing resources, we have improved our institutional architecture.  So we are now seeing that the African Continent has managed to step up its ability to be the host of quality investments.

Namibia, we believe, is at the forefront of that.  We, as Namibia offer a stable environment with good business opportunities not only in Namibia itself but in and on behalf of the African Continent obviously focusing on to the Southern African part of Africa; that’s where we are. We have an open slate of talents, it’s a good place to settle your business and we welcome any engagements.

PAV:  Mr Minister, thank you for talking to Pan African Visions.

CALLE SCHELLETWEIN:  Thank you.

 

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International Trademark Association CEO visits Africa to cement collaboration on trademarks and Intellectual Property rights systems
June 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The International Trademark Association (INTA) CEO, Mr. Etienne Sanz
de Acedo who is visiting Africa and Zimbabwe in particular for the
first time has convened meetings with key stakeholders especially in
the Intellectual Property (IP)rights sector to cement collaboration
and support trademarks and related rights systems with the continent.

According to Susan Mwiti, Documentations and Communications Officer
for the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO)
Acedo’s mission is to understand how to better serve and increase INTA
membership in Africa as well as strengthen ties and cooperation with
ARIPO, government departments, the Judiciary and academic institutions
responsible for or who have a stake in the effective use of trademarks
for development.

INTA is the global association of trademark owners and professionals
dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property
in order to protect consumers and to promote fair and effective
commerce. Recently, INTA has been paying more attention to Africa.
INTA CEO, Mr. De Acedo, says his priorities are “to becoming truly
global” and “engaging as many constituencies as possible.”

INTA undertakes advocacy work throughout the world to advance
trademarks and offers educational programs and informational and legal
resources of global interest.

At ARIPO, the CEO met with the agents, attorneys and brand owners
based in Zimbabwe.

Mr. Acedo, accompanied by the ARIPO Director General, Mr. Fernando dos
Santos, is also expected to meet with the Zimbabwean Chief Justice,
Justice Luke Malaba and Vice President, Vice President Emmerson
Mnangagwa.

INTA has seven member organizations in Zimbabwe and in Africa 248
members from 37 countries. Globally, it has more than 7,000
organizations from 190 countries. INTA members collectively contribute
almost $12 trillion to global GDP annually. For comparison, the 2015
annual GDP of the top three markets was $10.9 trillion (China), $16.2
trillion (European Union) and $17.9 trillion (United States).

The Association’s member organizations represent some 30,000 trademark
professionals and include brand owners from major corporations as well
as small- and medium-sized enterprises, law firms and nonprofits.
There are also government agency members as well as individual
professor and student members.

The not-for-profit Association was founded in 1878 by 17 merchants and
manufacturers who saw a need for an organization “to protect and
promote the rights of trademark owners, to secure useful legislation
and to give aid and encouragement to all efforts for the advancement
and observance of trademark rights.”

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) is
an Inter-governmental organization (IGO). It was created under the
Lusaka Agreement that was concluded and signed in Lusaka, Zambia on
December 9 1976. Membership of the Organization is open to all
African States members of the United Nations Economic Commission for
Africa (ECA) or the African Union (AU).

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Zimbabwe hosts World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) anti-corruption workshop
June 27, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Engineer Martin Manuhwa, WFEO Vice President

Engineer Martin Manuhwa, WFEO Vice President

Zimbabwe has hosted the International Conference for Research,

Innovation and Development for Africa in Victoria Falls on June 20 to 21, 2017 under the auspices of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) with a major focus on anti-corruption issues in the engineering and infrastructure sector.
According to Engineer Martin Manuhwa, WFEO Vice President and Chair of the Anti-Corruption committee of the same organization, the conference
has attracted participants from Africa, Europe and the United States,just to mention a few.
A World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) workshop on Engineering Ethics and the ISO Anti-bribery Management System Standard, ISO 37001 was also hosted.  The workshop was run by the WFEO Anti-corruption Committee which is hosted by Zimbabwe.
Manuhwa said that the ISO 37001 specifies a series of requirements which WDEO plans to implement. These include implementing an anti-bribery policy and programme, communicating the policy and programme to  relevant personnel and business associates (joint venture partners, sub-contractors, suppliers, consultants, just to mention a few and appointing a compliance manager  to oversee programme.
The World Federation of Engineering Organizations is an international,non-governmental organization representing the engineering profession worldwide. Founded in 1968 by a group of regional engineering organizations, under the auspices of the United Nations Educational,Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) in Paris, the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) brings together national engineering organizations from over 90 nations and represents
some 20 million engineers from around the world.
WFEO encourages all its national and international members to
contribute to global efforts to establish a sustainable, equitable and peaceful world by providing an international perspective and enabling mechanisms.
The workshop focused on anti-corruption strategies and models that are applicable to Sub-Saharan African Countries which are important to combat corruption that is generally acknowledged to be a universal problem in the developing and developed worlds.
“Corruption involving bribery, deception and/or dishonesty in order to gain personal or corporate profit was discussed. Professional Engineering Associations should come up with impeccable code of ethics, and rules of conduct for its members in order to combat corruption in the sector,” Manuhwa said.
A pilot study of case studies such as the Zimbabwe and Zambian
Infrastructure Anti-corruption index of corruption practices found in the construction sector was analyzed and grouped in three broad areas of corruption within the public sector, corruption in the interaction between public and private sector (procurement) corruption between public sector and consumers (petty corruption).
A framework and scope for analyzing corruption in construction
projects was developed. This framework was premised on preventing corruption through stakeholder engagement approach and crafting strategies across the whole project life cycle.
The impacts and costs of corruption were also discussed during the workshop.According to Manuhwa, corruption is one of the greatest obstacles to the development of safe and adequate infrastructure.
He said project funds are diverted to corrupt officials, funders,
contractors, consultants, suppliers and agents. He added that the
total loss and impact to corruption is difficult to quantify.
The workshop also addressed indicators of the human, economic and project cost losses  in detail. According to WFEO, the harmful effects of corruption are severe on the poor in the developing world like Africa who are in most cases hardest hit by economic decline, are most reliant on the provision of public services, and are least capable of paying the extra costs associated with bribery, fraud, and the misappropriation of economic privileges.
“Consequently, tackling corruption in the construction sector
requires the elaboration of a comprehensive strategy that involves
efforts from all stakeholders, including public sector, private
companies and consumers. Some of the most effective anti-corruption strategies as proposed by stakeholders are to increase political accountability, strengthen civil society participation, create a competitive private sector, improve public sector management as well as put in place institutional restraints on power,” Manuhwa said.
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Prophet Bushiri shares weekend with Malawi children: Donates K10 million to two orphanages.
June 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

South Africa based billionaire preacher Prophet Shepherd Bushiri jetted in his home country Malawi on Thursday and took time off his busy schedule on Friday to mingle with underprivileged children in capital Lilongwe.

The Man of God, popularly known as Major One, visited two child care centres—SOS Village and Tilinanu Orphanage—where he donated K5 million too each centre.

SOS Village, since its establishment in 1997, keeps an average of 130 children per year while Tilinanu, since its inception in 2005, keeps at least 35 orphaned girls.

Visibly jovial and in high spirits, the Prophet mingled with the children through, among others, engaging them in sports activities, sharing childhood fairytales, doing a Bible Study, singing choruses and, interestingly, being taught how to dance by these ecstatic children.

It was all smiles for the children who, from public confessions, could not believe they were sharing a moment with Prophet Bushiri, a global celebrity preacher leading one of the world’s fastest growing ministry.

The Man of God could not hide his joy with the gesture saying reaching out to the children in need is the greatest pillar not just of his ministry, but also his personal life.

“Every child is special to me—just as my biological children. However, these ones [in child centres] suffers rejection sometimes because they feel they don’t have parents to look into. Some of us come in to fill that gap, to show them fatherly love so that they grow up with the love that every child needs,” he said.

He dismissed media reports that his donations are motivated by political motives.

“I don’t just make donations in Malawi. Recently I was in Nicaragua in Central America where we made so many donations. Are we saying I am also having political ambitions there? What I am doing is just who I am. My joy comes from reaching to those not privileged than some of us. I hope the gesture will be echoed by others too,” he said.

The Prophet hailed SOS Village and Tilinanu for braving the time, ensuring that the children are safe and healthy.

SOS and Tilinanu directors Paul Nyirongo and Gift Mkandawire hailed Prophet Bushiri, marveling his gesture as a point of national retrospection and reflection in matters of children in the country.

On his part, Mkandawire—who is running Tilinanu which her departed mothers started in 2005 as part of her selfless cause to help an orphaned girl child—appealed to the Prophet to soldier on the spirit, arguing it symbolizes God’s love of humanity.

*Maravi Post

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Zimbabwe: Govt Says Signs ‘Disneyland in Africa’ Agreement With Chinese Funders
June 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
Photo: ebel Victoria Falls.

Photo: ebel
Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls — The government has signed a comprehensive agreement with unnamed Chinese investors for the construction of its ‘Disneyland in Africa’, a tourism and conference theme park in the resort town of Victoria Falls, the tourism minister said on Wednesday.

In 2013, the impoverished southern African nation said it had set aside 300 hectares of land to build a state-of-the-art conference centre to house hotels, businesses, shopping malls, banks, exhibition and entertainment facilities such as casinos near the Victoria Falls International Airport.

The theme park, whose costs have been put at $460 million, is seen as crucial to rebranding the country dogged by perceptions of political volatility and human rights abuses, using the formula that has worked in California, Florida in the United States and Paris in France.

 “We have signed an overarching agreement with some Chinese developers for a master plan to develop 300ha of land between the (Victoria Falls) airport and Masue River. We need to drive the convention business and direct traffic to ourselves,” Mzembi told journalists at a press conference.

“Already we are looking at 2020 where we are dreaming of a $5 billion tourism sector in Victoria Falls alone.” said Minister Mzembi.

*New Zimbabwe/Allafrica

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Botswana’s former President Ketumile Masire dies aged 91
June 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
Sir Ketumile Masire - the "architect" of Botswana's stability

Sir Ketumile Masire – the “architect” of Botswana’s stability

Botswana has declared three days of national mourning after the death of former President Sir Ketumile Masire, aged 91.

Sir Ketumile, who led the country from 1980 to 1998, is credited with being the architect of the country’s famed stability, reports the AFP news agency.

He was also involved in peace initiatives across Africa, including ending Mozambique’s long civil war.

Botswana is one of Africa’s richest and most stable countries.

Sir Ketumile became president after the death of Botswana’s first post-independence leader Sir Seretse Khama in 1980.

He had served as the country’s first minister of finance and vice-president before becoming president, the Botswana government states.

Sir Ketumile stepped down in 1998 after overseeing a period of strong economic growth based on the effective management of the Botswana’s vast diamond wealth.

He was also involved in backing South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement and other independence struggles in the region.

As an elder statesman he was involved in mediation efforts across Africa, including Kenya, Lesotho, Swaziland and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sir Ketumile was also chair of the International Panel of Eminent Personalities which investigated the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

*BBC

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Aviation Africa summit and exhibition 2018 to be hosted by Egypt
June 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Aviation Africa, exhibition and summit covering the full aviation and
aerospace spectrum across the African continent, is to hold its third
edition in Cairo on April 17 to 18, 2018, under the auspices of the
Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation, according to Alison Weller,
spokesperson.

According to Weller, the expo will be held under the theme ‘Building
blocks for North African revival’ and the two-day summit will focus on
the key drivers to grow business and opportunities across North
Africa. Alongside the summit will be an exhibition area featuring more
than 50 exhibitors.

His Excellency Sherif Fathi Attia the Minister of Civil Aviation of
Egypt said he welcomed the decision to bring the event to Cairo.“We
are working with the event organiser to shape the agenda for the
Summit,” he said. “There are key issues affecting Africa in general,
North Africa in particular in subjects like aviation security,
infrastructure needs and regional cooperation. The Egyptian government
is lending its full support to the event and will be inviting our
neighbours and friends across North Africa to be part of this
important event.”

EgyptAir is to be the host airline of the event. Chairman and CEO of
the Egypt Air Holding Group, Safwat Musallam said, “This event gives
an opportunity for all of our businesses to come together with
suppliers, customers and competitors under one roof. We are very
positive about the future but agree it is important that we can share
ideas and get new ideas too.”

Mark Brown chief executive of show organiser Times Aerospace, said
that they were pleased to have MoUs from all of Egypt’s airlines
including charter, cargo and low cost carriers. He said that these
will all have top executives taking part in the event and meeting with
exhibitors.
“We are expecting delegations from other African governments and
their civil aviation authorities and of course other airlines,
business aviation operators and from companies across the Middle East
and Africa,” Brown said.

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Zimbabwean lawyer announced first recipient of prestigious Pan-African MBA programme scholarship in Rwanda
June 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

African Leadership University School of Business (ALUSB) has
announced Zimbabwean Lawyer, Zanudeen Makorie as the first recipient of the prestigious Chairman’s Scholarship for Excellence in Business Leadership, a merit based financial award that will cover the full cost of attending their flagship Pan-African MBA programme in Kigali,Rwanda.

According to Godfrey Chesang and Marie Shabaya, spokesperson for

ALUSB, the Chairman’s Scholarship celebrates the best of African
business talent particularly within professional and community
leadership. It is reported that the selection committee received
thousands of applications from across the continent and selected five outstanding finalists for the award who each have an impressive track record of success in business and civil society.

Of the finalists, Zimbabwean lawyer, Zanudeen Makorie has been

named as the first recipient of the ALUSB Chairman’s Scholarship. Makorie is currently General Counsel and Group Secretary at RioZim, a former subsidiary of global mining giant, Rio Tinto, in Harare.

His responsibilities include managing the company’s litigation

portfolio and leading the company’s corporate and strategic policy.
Prior to his current role, Makorie was a Partner at Coghlan, Welsh and Guest, one of Zimbabwe’s top law firms, where he was admitted into Partnership at 27, becoming one of the youngest partners in the firm’s century long existence. He is a member of the International Bar Association and the Law Society of
Zimbabwe.

He is also a contributor and author on WLSA Zimbabwe Property and Inheritance Rights Journal. Passionate about giving back to the community, Makorie is a registered blood donor as an

active member of the National Blood Society of Zimbabwe. He recently participated in a high school national debate tournament where he coached high school students and aspiring debaters.

Speaking shortly after the announcement of Makorie as inaugural

Chairman’s Scholar, ALUSB Founder,Fred Swaniker said,
“Congratulations to Mr. Makorie and our four finalists for their
exceptional achievements in leadership and public service. The Chairman’s Scholarship is an important milestone for the ALU School of Business in fostering the next generation of African Business leaders. We have been consistently impressed by
the caliber of young and driven leaders that choose to be a part of
our ambitious vision. I am looking forward to welcoming them in Rwanda along with our second MBA cohort next month.”

The ALUSB MBA programme is an Africa-focused world-class executive development programme offered in
collaboration with a number of internationally recognised partners.
The program blends global best practices in business education punctuated with African case studies to deliver a tailored programme geared towards building critical skills essential for doing business in Africa. The second ALUSB MBA cohort begins in July 2017, the program runs over 20 months.

The ALU School of Business (ALUSB) is an Africa-focused world-class professional school pioneering a fresh approach to business education in Africa. ALUSB offers an accredited MBA, open-enrolment executive programmes and custom executive education programs tailored to the needs of African students and African firms. ALUSB brings together faculty and programmes from
top global business schools,leadership training developed and tested for nearly a decade by some of the greatest leaders on the
continent, and top-level executives teaching real challenges that
they, themselves, had to manage.

African Leadership University’s Rwanda campus provides an

institutional home for ALUSB. ALUSB is offering the continent’s first pan-African MBA program along with other executive development courses, delivered in collaboration with content partners including Wharton Online, McKinsey Academy
and the Drucker Institute.

The School is led by Dean Modupe Taylor-Pearce, a scholar in

organizational development, leadership
and management. Vice Dean Catherine Duggan leads development and teaching on the school’s programmes.

African Leadership University is a network of tertiary education

institutions whose mission is to produce 3 million young African leaders over the next 50 years. It projects to build 25 campuses across the continent, each hosting 10,000 students from all over Africa. ALU’s campus was inaugurated in September 2015 in Mauritius, and is known as African Leadership College (Mauritius).

Fred Swaniker

Fred Swaniker

The Mauritius campus offers undergraduate programs in business management, applied psychology, social sciences

and computing. ALC’s initial degrees will be awarded by Glasgow
Caledonian University (GCU) in Scotland, its academic and accreditation partner for the Mauritius campus. ALU has received
accreditation for its second campus in Rwanda. ALU Rwanda offers an MBA programme , which it will deliver in collaboration with Harvard Business School’s HBX program, McKinsey Academy and

The Drucker Institute. ALU was founded by Fred Swaniker, a social entrepreneur and education specialist. President Barack

Obama and other influential figures have commended Swaniker’s work as an entrepreneur who is effecting change on the African continent. He has also been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic and the Aspen Institute of Global Leadership Network.

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The Race to Solar-Power Africa
June 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

American startups are competing to bring electricity to communities that remain off the grid.

Bill McKibben*

Solar panels power a solar drip irrigation system for a collective women’s garden in Kalale, Benin. The system provides a cost-effective, clean way to irrigate crops, especially in the long, dry season.Pic credit Face to Face Africa

Solar panels power a solar drip irrigation system for a collective women’s garden in Kalale, Benin. The system provides a cost-effective, clean way to irrigate crops, especially in the long, dry season.Pic credit Face to Face Africa

In eighteen months, entrepreneurs brought electricity to hundreds of thousands of people in places that the grid failed to reach.
Illustration by Oliver Munday / Photographs courtesy Mathieu Young / Off-Grid Electric

The cacao-farming community of Daban, in Ghana, is seven degrees north of the equator, and it’s always hot. In May, I met with several elders there to talk about the electricity that had come to the town a few months earlier, when an American startup installed a solar microgrid nearby. Daban could now safely store the vaccine for yellow fever; residents could charge their cell phones at home rather than walking to a bigger town to do it. As we talked, one of the old men handed me a small plastic bag of water, the kind street venders sell across West Africa—you just bite off a corner and drink. The water was ice-cold and refreshing, but it took me an embarrassingly long moment to understand the pleasure with which he offered it: cold water was now available in this hot place. There was enough power to run a couple of refrigerators, and so coldness was, for the first time, a possibility.

I’d come to Daban to learn about the boom in solar power in sub-Saharan Africa. The spread of cell phones in the region has made it possible for residents to pay daily or weekly bills using mobile money, and now the hope is that, just as cell phones bypassed the network of telephone lines, solar panels will enable many rural consumers to bypass the electric grid. From Ghana, I travelled to Ivory Coast, and then to Tanzania, and along the way I encountered a variety of new solar ventures, most of them American-led. Some, such as Ghana’s Black Star Energy, which had electrified Daban, install solar microgrids, small-scale versions of the giant grid Americans are familiar with. Others, such as Off-Grid Electric, in Tanzania and Ivory Coast, market home-based solar systems that run on a panel installed on each individual house. These home-based systems can’t produce enough current for a fridge, but they can supply each home with a few lights, a mobile-phone charger, and, if the household can afford it, a small, super-efficient flat-screen TV.

In another farming town, in Ivory Coast, I talked to a man named Abou Traoré, who put his television out in a courtyard most nights, so that neighbors could come by to watch. He said that they tuned in for soccer matches—the village tilts Liverpool, but has a large pocket of Manchester United supporters. What else did he watch? Traoré considered. “I like the National Geographic channel,” he replied—that is, the broadcast arm of the institution that became famous showing Westerners pictures of remote parts of Africa.

There are about as many people living without electricity today as there were when Thomas Edison lit his first light bulb. More than half are in sub-Saharan Africa. Europe and the Americas are almost fully electrified, and Asia is quickly catching up, but the absolute number of Africans without power remains steady. A World Bank report, released in May, predicted that, given current trends, there could still be half a billion people in sub-Saharan Africa without power by 2040. Even those with electricity can’t rely on it: the report noted that in Tanzania power outages were so common in 2013 that they cost businesses fifteen per cent of their annual sales. Ghanaians call their flickering power dum/sor, or “off/on.” Vivian Tsadzi, a businesswoman who lives not far from the Akosombo Dam, which provides about a third of the nation’s power, said that most of the time “it’s dum dum dum dum.” The dam’s head of hydropower generation, Kwesi Amoako, who retired last year, told me that he is proud of the structure, which created the world’s largest man-made lake. But there isn’t an easy way to increase the country’s hydropower capacity, and drought, caused by climate change, has made the system inconsistent, meaning that Ghana will have to look elsewhere for electricity. “I’ve always had the feeling that one of the main thrusts should be domestic solar,” Amoako said. “And I think we should put the off-grid stuff first, because the consumer wants it so badly.”

Electrifying Africa is one of the largest development challenges on earth. Until recently, most people assumed that the continent would electrify in the same manner as the rest of the globe. “The belief was, you’d eventually build the U.S. grid here,” Xavier Helgesen, the American co-founder and C.E.O. of Off-Grid Electric, told me. “But the U.S. is the richest country on earth, and it wasn’t fully electrified until the nineteen-forties, and that was in an era of cheap copper for wires, cheap timber for poles, cheap coal, and cheap capital. None of that is so cheap anymore, at least not over here.”

Solar electricity, on the other hand, has become inexpensive, in part because the price of solar panels has fallen at the same time that the efficiency of light bulbs and appliances has dramatically increased. In 2009, a single compact fluorescent bulb and a lead-acid battery cost about forty dollars; now, using L.E.D. bulbs and lithium-ion batteries, you can get four times as much light for the same price. In 2009, a radio, a mobile-phone charger, and a solar system big enough to provide four hours of light and television a day would have cost a Kenyan a thousand dollars; now it’s three hundred and fifty dollars.

President Trump has derided renewable energy as “really just an expensive way of making the tree huggers feel good about themselves.” But many Western entrepreneurs see solar power in Africa as a chance to reach a large market and make a substantial profit. This is a nascent industry, which, at the moment, represents a small percentage of the electrification in the region, and is mostly in rural areas. There’s plenty of uncertainty about its future, and no guarantee that it will spread at the pace of cell phones. Still, in the past eighteen months, these businesses have brought electricity to hundreds of thousands of consumers—many of them in places that the grid failed to reach, despite a hundred-year head start. Funding, much of it from private investors based in Silicon Valley or Europe, is flowing into this sector—more than two hundred million dollars in venture capital last year, up from nineteen million in 2013—and companies are rapidly expanding their operations with the new money. M-Kopa, an American startup that launched in Kenya, in 2011, now has half a million pay-as-you-go solar customers; d.light, a competitor with offices in California, Kenya, China, and India, says that it is adding eight hundred new households a day. Nicole Poindexter, the founder and C.E.O. of Black Star, told me that every million dollars the company raises in venture capital delivers power to seven thousand people. She expects Black Star to be profitable within the next three years.

Like many of the American entrepreneurs I met in Africa, Poindexter has a background in finance. A graduate of Harvard Business School, she worked as a derivatives trader before leading business development at Opower, a software platform for utilities customers that was acquired by Oracle last year. (Unlike many of these entrepreneurs, who tend to skew white and male, Poindexter is African-American.) She decided to start the company in 2015, after she began to learn about energy poverty. She recalled watching TV coverage of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia. “There was a lot of coughing in the background, and I was thinking, That’s someone with Ebola,” she said. “But it wasn’t. It was from the smoke in the room from the fire.” Last year, in the Ghanaian community of Kofihuikrom, one of the first towns that Black Star served, the company erected twenty-two solar panels. Today, the local clinic no longer has to deliver babies by flashlight. The town chief, Nana Kwaku Appiah, said that he was so excited that he initially left his lights on inside all night. “Our relatives from the city used to not come here to visit,” he said.

When I visited the Tanzanian headquarters of Off-Grid Electric, in the city of Arusha, the atmosphere was reminiscent of Palo Alto or Mountain View, with standing desks and glassed-in conference rooms for impromptu meetings. Erick Donasian, the company’s head of service in Tanzania, grew up in a powerless house three miles from the office and joined the company in 2013; he said that, along with his enthusiasm for the company’s goals, one attraction of working there is that it is far less formal than many Tanzanian businesses, where “you have to tuck your shirt in, which I hate the most.” Off-Grid’s Silicon Valley influence was clearest in the T-shirt Helgesen wore. It read “Make something people want,” and sported the logo for Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s most famous incubator, where Helgesen’s wife had recently developed a bartering app.

Helgesen, who is thirty-eight years old and lanky, with hair that he regularly brushes out of his eyes, grew up in Silver Bay, Minnesota, a small town on the shore of Lake Superior. At fourteen, he came up with the idea of leasing the municipal mini-golf course for a summer, and tripled revenues by offering season passes and putting on special promotions for visiting hockey teams. As a sophomore at Notre Dame, in 1999, he set up a Web site that posted the college’s freshman register online, so that, as he put it, “you’d actually know who that cute girl you saw in anthro class was.” Helgesen started similar sites at other colleges, but, he told me, “I wasn’t as good a programmer as Zuckerberg. Even if I’d gotten it completely right, it would have been more Friendster than Facebook.” His first major company, Better World Books, founded in 2002, took the model of charity used-book drives and moved it online. It’s now one of the biggest sellers of used books on Amazon, and has helped raise twenty-five million dollars for literacy organizations, including Books for Africa.

Helgesen made his first trip to Tanzania in 2006, to visit recipients of Better World’s funding and to go on safari. “I was staying at a fancy lodge near Kilimanjaro, and I remember thinking, How do things really work around here?” Helgesen said. He paid a local man to take him to the nearest village. “I was peppering him with questions: ‘Do young people go to the city?’ ‘How much does coffee sell for?’ ” The experience, he said, “flipped my mind-set from ‘People in Africa are poor and they need our help and our donated books’ to ‘This is what an emerging economy looks like. This is young people, this is entrepreneurialism, this is where growth will be.’ ” During a second trip to Africa, he went scuba diving in Lake Malawi (“to see the cichlid fish, which keep their babies in their mouths”), and was invited to dinner by his scuba instructor. “It was a decent-sized town, maybe twenty thousand people, but absolutely no electricity,” Helgesen said. “It was all narrow alleys—they were bustling, but they were pitch-black.”

In 2010, Helgesen won a Skoll Scholarship to Oxford, for M.B.A. students seeking “entrepreneurial solutions for urgent social and environmental challenges,” and spent the year researching the renewables market. He found two like-minded business partners, and, in 2012, they set up shop in Arusha. At first, they planned to build solar microgrids to power cell-phone towers and sell the excess electricity to locals, but, Helgesen said, “it became clear that that was a pretty expensive way to go.” So they visited customers in their homes to ask them what they wanted. “Those conversations were the smartest thing we ever did,” Helgesen said. “I remember this one customer, she had a baby, and she would keep the kerosene lamp on low all night, as a night-light. It was costing thirty dollars a month in kerosene. And I was, like, Wow, for thirty dollars a month I could do a lot better.”

Helgesen decided to “start with the customer, and the price point they could pay, and build the business behind that.” Matt Schiller, the thirty-two-year-old vice-president of business operations, said that, in some ways, it is an easy sell. “If we talk to a hundred customers, not one says, ‘I’d rather have kerosene,’ ” he told me. “Not one says, ‘I’d like the warm glow of the kerosene lights.’ In fact, when we were designing the L.E.D.s, we focus-grouped lights. And the engineers assumed they’d want a warmer light, because that’s what they were used to. But, no, they picked the bluest, hardest light you can imagine. That’s modernity. That’s clean.”

There were solar panels in sub-Saharan Africa before companies like Off-Grid arrived, but customers generally had to pay for them up front, a forbidding prospect for many. “Cost is important to the customer at the bottom, but risk is even more important,” Helgesen told me. “A bad decision when you’re that poor can mean your kids don’t eat or go to school, which is why people tend to be conservative. And which is why kerosene was winning. There was no risk. You could buy it a tiny bit at a time.”

Off-Grid, like several of its competitors, finances the panels, so that people can pay the same small monthly amounts they were paying for kerosene. Customers in Tanzania put down about thirteen dollars to buy Off-Grid’s cheapest starter kit: a panel, a battery, a few L.E.D. lights, a phone charger, and a radio. Then they pay about eight dollars a month for three years, after which they own the products outright. The most popular system adds a few more lights and a flat-screen TV, for a higher down payment and about twice the monthly price. Customers pay their bill by phone; if they don’t pay, the system stops working, and after a while it is repossessed. That scenario, it turns out, is uncommon: less than two per cent of the loans in Tanzania have gone bad.

Despite Off-Grid’s Silicon Valley vibe, it faces challenges unfamiliar to software companies. Aidan Leonard, Off-Grid’s Arusha-based general counsel, told me that the company “requires a lot of people walking around selling things and installing things and fixing things. There’s a lot of hardware—someone’s got a physical box in their house, and a panel on the roof, and they have to pay for it on a monthly basis.” Poindexter, of Black Star, put the problem more bluntly. “We’re a utility company,” she told me, and utilities are a difficult business.

In America, utilities are burdened with infrastructure, such as the endless poles and wires that come down in storms. Off-Grid doesn’t have to worry about poles, and the wires only run a few feet, from panel to battery to appliance. Still, the company is working with technology that is brand-new and needs to be made cheaply in order to be affordable. When solar energy first came to Africa, it was expensive and unreliable. Arne Jacobson, a professor of environmental-resources engineering at Humboldt State University, in California, is a couple of decades older than most of the entrepreneurs I met in Africa. He got his doctorate studying the first generation of home solar in Kenya, in the late nineteen-nineties. “In Kenya, I was trying to understand the quality of the panels that had started to flood the market,” he said. Much of the technology had “big troubles. Chinese panels, panels from the U.K., all this low-quality junk coming in. Later, L.E.D.s that failed in hours or days instead of lasting thousands of hours, as they should. People’s first experiences were often really bad.”

Jacobson has spent his career in renewable energy; he helped build the world’s first street-legal hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicle, in 1998. He now runs Humboldt’s Schatz Energy Research Center. (“You want to know why a lot of early solar research happened in Humboldt?” he asked me. “Because there were a lot of back-to-the-land types here, and they had cash because they were growing dope.”) After seeing the unpredictability of solar technology, he created, in 2007, what he calls a “de facto consumer-protection bureau for this nascent industry.” The program, Lighting Global, which is run under the umbrella of the World Bank Group, tests and certifies panels, bulbs, and appliances to make sure that they work as promised. Jacobson credits this innovation with making investors more willing to put their money into companies such as Off-Grid, which has now raised more than fifty-five million dollars. His main testing lab is in Shenzhen, China, near most of the solar-panel manufacturers. He also has facilities in Nairobi, New Delhi, and Addis Ababa, and some of the work is still done in the basement of his building at Humboldt, where there’s an “integrating sphere” for measuring light output from a bulb, and a machine that switches radios on and off to see if they’ll eventually break.

Because many of Off-Grid’s potential customers have experience with bad products, or know someone who has, the company takes extra steps to build trust with its clients. After an Off-Grid installer shows up on his motorbike, he opens the product carton with great solemnity; in an Ivorian village, I watched along with seventeen neighbors, who nodded as the young man held up each component, one by one. He then climbed onto the roof of the house, nailed on a solar panel about the size of a placemat, and used a crowbar to lift up the corrugated-tin roof to run the wire inside. He screwed the battery box to the cement-block wall and walked the customer through the process of switching lights on and off several times, something the man had never done before. The company also offers a service guarantee: as long as customers are making their payments, they can call a number on the box and a repairman will arrive within three days. These LightRiders, as the company calls them, are trained to trouble-shoot small problems. They travel by motorcycle, and if they can’t make repairs easily they replace the system with a new one and haul the old unit back to headquarters.

This sales-and-installation system presents some engineering challenges. When the company expanded into Ivory Coast, last year, it had to redesign its packaging to fit on the smaller motorcycles used there. It also runs into problems coördinating coverage across a vast area where most houses don’t have conventional addresses. “We had to build our own internal software to make it possible,” Kim Schreiber, who runs Off-Grid’s marketing operations in Africa, said. “We optimize, via G.P.S. coördinates, the best routes for our riders to take. The LightRider turns on his phone every morning, and he has a list of his tasks for the day, so he knows what parts to take with him.”

Solar companies also contend with the complexity of the mobile-payment systems. In Ghana, where many customers don’t use mobile money, Poindexter’s Black Star team instead sells scratch cards from kiosks, which give customers a code they need to enter on their meter box to top up their account. Off-Grid delivers these codes over the phone, but the company still needs a call center, manned by fifteen people, to help customers with the mechanics of paying. Nena Sanderson, who runs Off-Grid’s Tanzanian operation, showed me the steps entailed in paying a bill through a ubiquitous mobile-money system called M-Pesa. There are ten screens, and the process ends with the input of a sixteen-digit code. “And I have a smartphone,” she said. “Now, imagine a feature phone, and imagine you may not know how to read, and the screen is a lot smaller, and it’s probably scratched up. Mobile money is a great enabler, but it’s not frictionless.” One of Off-Grid’s competitors, PEGAfrica, has printed the whole sequence on a wristband, which it gives to customers.

Because one of the biggest obstacles to the growth of solar power in the region is the lack of available cash, many of these companies are essentially banks as well as utilities, providing loans to customers who may have no credit history. That can make it hard to figure out what to charge people. “What you see in this space is at least eight to ten decent-sized pay-as-you-go solar companies, all trying to parse through what the actual end price to the customer really is,” Peter Bladin, who spent many years in leadership roles at Microsoft and now invests in several of these firms, told me. Bladin first started studying distributed solar—solar electricity produced near where it is used—in Bangladesh, where the Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus used his Grameen microcredit network to finance and distribute panels and batteries. Lacking that established financial architecture, companies in sub-Saharan Africa are constantly experimenting with different plans: Off-Grid began by offering ten-year leases, but found that customers wanted to own their systems more quickly, and so the payments are now spread out over three years. PEGAfrica customers buy their system in twelve months, but the company gives them hospitalization insurance as a bonus. Black Star is a true utility: the customers in the communities where it builds microgrids will always pay bills, but the charges start at only two dollars a month. (The business model depends on customers steadily increasing the amount of energy they buy, as they move from powering televisions to powering small businesses.) Companies like Burro—a Ghanaian outfit launched by Whit Alexander, the Seattle entrepreneur who founded Cranium games—sell lamps and chargers and panels outright, saving customers credit fees but limiting the number of people who can afford the products.

This uncertainty about the most practical financial model reflects the fact that in sub-Saharan Africa there is a great deal of economic diversity, both between countries and within them. One morning, I found myself walking down a line of houses in the Arushan suburb of Morombo. At the first house, a two-room cinder-block structure with a broken piece of mirror on one wall, a woman talked with me as we sat on the floor. The home represented a big step up for her, she said—she and her husband had rented a place for years, until they were able to buy this plot of land and build this house. She had a solar lantern the size of a hockey puck in her courtyard, soaking up rays. (Aid groups have distributed more than a million of these little lamps across the continent.) She assured me that she planned to get a larger solar system soon, but, for many of Africa’s poorest people, buying a lantern is the only possible step toward electrification.

Next door, a twenty-six-year-old student named Nehemiah Klimba shared a more solidly built house with his mother. It had a corrugated-iron roof on a truss that let hot air escape, and we sat on a sofa. Klimba said that, as soon as he finished paying off the windows, he was going to electrify. He and his mother were already spending fifteen dollars a month on kerosene and another four dollars charging their cell phones at a local store, so they knew they’d be able to afford the twenty dollars a month for a solar system with a TV.

One door down was the fanciest house I’d seen in weeks. It belonged to a soldier who worked as a U.N. peacekeeper, and the floors were made of polished stone. There was an Off-Grid solar system on the roof, but it was providing only backup power. The owner had paid a hefty fee to connect to the local electric grid, so he faced none of the limitations of a battery replenished by the sun. In his living room, he had a huge TV and speakers; a stainless-steel Samsung refrigerator gleamed in the kitchen.

“This is how the solar revolution happens—one hot sales meeting at a time,” Off-Grid’s Kim Schreiber whispered to me as we watched one of the company’s salesmen, an Ivorian named Seko Serge Lewis, at work. We were visiting the village of Grand Zattry with Off-Grid’s Ivory Coast sales director, Max-Marc Fossouo. A couple of dogs tussled nearby; a motorbike rolled past with six people on board. In the courtyard next to us, a woman was doing the day’s laundry in a bucket with a washboard. Her husband listened to the sales pitch from Lewis, who was showing him pictures on his cell phone of other customers in the village.

“That’s to build up trust,” Fossouo said. He’d been providing a play-by-play throughout the hour-long sales call. “This customer is on a big fence,” he said. “He’s stuck in the trust place. And I’m pretty sure the decision-maker is over there washing the clothes anyway.” Fossouo was born in Cameroon and went to school in Paris. In his twenties, he spent seven summers in the U.S., selling books for Southwestern Publishing, a Nashville-based titan of door-to-door marketing. (Rick Perry is another company alum; so is Kenneth Starr.) “I did L.A. for years,” he told me. “ ‘Hi, my name is Max. I’m a crazy college student from France, and I’m helping families with their kids’ education. I’ve been talking to your neighbors A, B, and C, and I’d like to talk to you. Do you have a place where I can come in and sit down?’ ” All selling, he said, is the same: “It starts with a person understanding they have a problem. Someone might live in the dark but not understand that it’s a problem. So you have to show them. And then you have to create a sense of urgency to spend the money to solve the problem now.”

The man turned down Lewis’s pitch. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to make the monthly payments in the lean stretch before the next cacao harvest. “That’s crap,” Fossouo whispered, pointing again to the man’s wife. “He loves this woman, he can move the world for her.” When we went to the next house, Fossouo took over. This prospect was a farmer and schoolteacher, and they talked in his classroom, which had a few low desks with shards of slate on top. Fossouo had the man catalogue everything that he was spending on energy: money for kerosene, flashlight batteries, even the gas for the scooter that he borrowed when he needed to charge his phone. Then Fossouo showed him what he had to offer: a radio and four lights, each with a dimmer switch. “Where would you put the lamp?” he asked. “In front of the door? Of course! And the big light in the middle of the room, so when you have a party everyone could see. Now, tell me, if you went to the market to buy all of this, how much would it cost?” Fossouo tried angle after angle. “You have to think big here,” he said. “When I talked to your chief, he said, ‘Don’t think small.’ If your kid could see the news on TV, he might say, ‘I, too, could be President.’ ”

“This is great,” the man said. “I know you’re trying to help us. I just don’t have the money. Life is hard, things are expensive. Sometimes we’re hungry.”

Fossouo nodded. “What if I gave you a way to pay for it?” he asked. “So the dollar wouldn’t even come from your pocket? If you get a system, people will pay you to charge their phones. Or, if you had a TV, you could charge people to come watch the football games.”

“I couldn’t charge a person for coming in to watch a game,” the man said. “We’re all one big family. If someone is wealthy enough to have a TV, everyone is welcome to it.”

The hour ended without a sale, but Fossouo wasn’t worried. “It takes two or three approaches on average,” he said. “You always have to leave the person in a good place, where he loves you stopping by. This guy wants to finish building his house right now—his house is heavy on him—but it won’t be long.” As we talked, the first prospect came over, asking for a leaflet and a phone number. His wife, he said, was very interested.

The arrival of electricity is hard for today’s Westerners to imagine. Light means differences in sleeping and eating patterns and an increased sense of safety. I talked with one Tanzanian near Arusha who had traded in a kerosene lamp for five Off-Grid bulbs, including a security light outside his door that went on automatically when it got dark. “Crime is here,” he said, “but also dangerous animals. Especially snakes. So it’s good to have lights.” Everywhere I went, I met parents who said that their children could study at night. “You can feel the effects with their grades now at school,” one Ivorian father said. Several town chiefs told me that they hoped to get classroom computers, and one planned to mechanize the well so that townspeople would no longer need to pump water by hand. Farmers in West Africa were getting daily weather reports from Farmerline, a Ghanaian information service that uses G.P.S. to customize the forecasts. “If a farmer puts fertilizer on the field and then it rains, he loses the fertilizer—it washes away,” Alloysius Attah, a young Ghanaian entrepreneur who co-founded the service, told me. “And the farmers say they can’t tell the rain anymore. My auntie could read the clouds, the birds flying by, but the usual rainfall pattern has shifted.”

“Our killer app is definitely the television,” Off-Grid’s Schreiber said. “If the twenty-four-inch is out of stock, lots of people won’t buy.” Wandering through newly electrified towns, I saw teen-agers watching action movies. Black Star’s Poindexter told me, “There was a kid in town that I liked, Samuel, and when I came back after the power was turned on his arm was in a cast. He’d watched a karate show on TV, and he and his friends were playing it, and he broke his arm. I was horrified—I was, like, society is not prepared for this. And then I remembered that I did the same thing after I watched ‘Popeye’ as a kid. I ran right into the hedge and had to get twenty stitches. That’s kids and TV.”

In Daban, after I asked what the most popular program was, everyone began laughing and nodding. “ ‘Kumkum’!” people shouted. “Kumkum Bhagya,” an Indian soap opera set in a marriage hall and loosely based on Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” airs every night from seven-thirty to eight-thirty, during which time village life comes to a standstill. “All the chiefs have advocated for everyone to watch, because it’s about how relationships are built,” the local chief, Nana Oti Awere, said. Of course, the changes brought about by electrification will affect local communities in unpredictable ways that will play out over many years. One mother I spoke to explained that the TV “keeps the children at home at night, instead of roaming around.” The Ivorian farmer who told me about the effects on his children’s grades went on to say, “In the old time, you had to go outside and talk. Now my neighbor has his TV, I have my TV, and we stay inside.”

A decade ago, most experts would have predicted that foreign aid, rather than venture capital, would play a central role in bringing power to sub-Saharan Africa. Off-Grid Electric has been funded by sources including Tesla and Paul Allen’s venture fund, Vulcan. Allen, one of the world’s richest men, is worth twenty billion dollars, or roughly half of the G.D.P. of Tanzania, a country of almost fifty-four million people. Should he be able to make yet more money off the electrification of African huts? There’s more than a whiff of colonialism about the rush of Westerners and Western money into Africa. As Attah, the young Ghanaian who helped found Farmerline, put it, “There are a lot of Ivy Leaguers coming to Africa to say, ‘I can solve this problem, snap, snap, snap.’ They’re doing good work, but little investment goes to community leaders who are doing the same work on the ground.”
“I don’t know what that is, either—it could be the Olsen twins.”

The Westerners I spoke to, though they pledged to hire more local executives, didn’t think that the drive to help was incompatible with the desire to make money. As Poindexter put it, “There is a level of responsibility that I feel, and that I think any appropriate investor needs to have, about extraction versus contribution. I am not willing to be an extractive capitalist here, but I think that capitalism has an extremely important role to play in these communities.” Helgesen—who, despite his occasional oblivious tech-dudishness, spends most of his time in very remote places trying to provide power—is unapologetic about his company’s funding sources. Billionaires, he says, have the capital to make companies grow fast enough to matter. “Paul Allen didn’t invest because he thought it was the easiest way to make more money,” Helgesen said. “I got an awful lot of ‘no’s along the way from people who wanted easier money.” In any event, it’s not clear that other sources of funding are available, at least from the U.S.: Trump, pulling out of the Paris climate accord earlier this month, said that the country would not meet its pledge to help poor nations develop renewable energy, dismissing the plan as “yet another scheme to redistribute wealth out of the United States through the so-called Green Climate Fund—nice name.”

Even when aid agencies are well funded, they haven’t always delivered. Over the last decade, a strong critique of aid, ranging from William Easterly’s “The White Man’s Burden” to Dambisa Moyo’s “Dead Aid,” has laid much of the blame for Africa’s continued underdevelopment on the weaknesses of sweeping programs planned from afar. Still, aid agencies and global-development banks have a useful role to play in the energy transition. It will be years before it makes financial sense for solar companies to expand to the most remote and challenging regions of the continent. As new companies launch, they will need an infusion of what Helgesen calls “ultra-high-risk capital.” Private investors will supply it, he says, “but they want forty per cent of your company in return, which makes it hard to raise capital later on, because you’ve already sold off such a big chunk.” Some aid agencies have funded private ventures in the early stages, to help them get off the ground or reach new geographic areas. U.S.A.I.D. gave Off-Grid five million dollars toward its early costs, and, over the past few years, a Dutch development agency has given the company several hundred thousand euros as it has extended into the impoverished lakes region of Tanzania, where it otherwise wouldn’t have been profitable to go. Currency risks pose another problem: Poindexter told me that when she builds a Ghanaian microgrid she has invested in an asset with a twenty-year life span in a country where inflation is highly unpredictable. “We just had an election in the U.S. with huge consequences for policy,” she said. “But over here every election is potentially like that.” And, like anywhere in the world, national governments can make things easier by establishing clear policies. Rwanda’s leaders, for instance, specified the regions in which the rapidly developing country planned to extend its grid, thereby delineating where solar would be needed most.

“African leaders used to think solar was being pushed on them,” Clare Sierawski, who works on renewable energy with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency in Accra, said. “But now they all want solar. It’s a confluence of things. Mostly, it’s getting cheaper. And governments were tuned in to it by the Paris accord.” Ananth Chikkatur, who runs a U.S.A.I.D. project in the city, had just returned from taking thirteen high-ranking Ghanaians on a trip to study solar power in California. “Renewable energy should not be considered an alternative technology,” he said. “It’s becoming a conventional technology now.” Rwanda is not the only nation expanding its grid, and many countries are turning to large solar farms to generate power. Burkina Faso, for instance, has plans for solar arrays across its desert regions.

Distributed generation, however, is especially essential in rural areas, and it is growing fast—maybe, according to some observers, too fast. The investor Peter Bladin told me that the push for quick returns on investment could lead some companies to try to “squeeze more out of poor households” and warned about “mission drift, trying to make money off the backs of the poor in a dubious way.” Earlier this year, three principals from the impact-investment firm Ceniarth, which had put money into Off-Grid and similar companies, said that it was backing out of the industry for the time being. In an open letter, they wrote that the hype of venture capitalists and the lack of government regulation “puts consumers at risk and places a great deal of responsibility on vendors to self-police.” The gush of money, they cautioned, “may be too much, too fast for a sector that still has not fully solved core business model issues and may struggle under the high growth expectations and misaligned incentives of many venture capitalists.” Helgesen, unsurprisingly, disagreed with their analysis of investor over-exuberance. “It’s like looking at a Palm Pilot and saying, ‘This is not so great,’ ” he said. “Or even an iPhone 1. The iPhone 1 was a necessary step to the iPhone 7. People who have raised real money have not raised it on the premise that we’ll be selling the same stuff in ten years.” But he wasn’t waiting for the technology to mature. “We have to think about the future, and we have to sell something people want today,” he said.

Most customers I met had little interest in the fact that their power came from the sun, or that it was environmentally friendly. Since these communities weren’t using power previously, their solar panels fight climate change only in the sense that they decrease pressure to build power plants that consume fossil fuel. But some observers hope that the experience in Africa—which today has more off-the-grid solar homes than the U.S.—could help drive transformation elsewhere. Already, a few dozen American cities have pledged to become one-hundred-per-cent renewable. (Pittsburgh did so the day after Trump held up its theoretically beleaguered citizens as a reason for leaving the climate accord.) The U.S. has already sunk a fortune into building its electric grid, and it may seem far-fetched to think that users will disconnect from it entirely. But, as Helgesen told me, “As batteries get better, it’s going to be a lot more realistic for people to stop depending on their utility.” He thinks that, in an ideal world, technological change could lead to cultural change. “The average American has no concept of electrical constraint,” he said. “If we accept some modest restrictions on our power availability, we can go off-grid very quickly.”

For many people in the countries I visited, solar power is creating a new hope: for electric fans. When I was there, Off-Grid Electric was expanding from the relatively cool highlands around Mt. Kilimanjaro to the scorching, humid lowlands of West Africa, and in every village we visited the message was the same: The TV is great, the light bulb is great, but can I please have a fan? Many homes are poorly ventilated; windows are expensive, and can attract burglars. Fans, however, draw a comparatively large amount of current, threatening to quickly drain the battery that a solar panel has spent the day filling. And, unlike light bulbs or televisions, fans have moving parts that easily break. “Our customers tend to make heavy use of their equipment,” Off-Grid’s Schreiber said. Still, she promised one village after another that fans were coming soon.

Shea Hughes, Off-Grid’s product manager, is one of the employees charged with delivering on that promise. Hughes told me that he hopes to someday make Off-Grid’s product powerful enough to perform industrial tasks: pumping water for irrigation, milling cacao, and so on. “I’m confident solar is capable of doing that,” he said. “You just add more panels and you get to the power requirements you need. And as the price drops, well . . . ” He had recently been to a consumer-electronics fair in China. “I was amazed to see the prices,” he said.

For the moment, though, a workable fan would be nice. “We’d always thought a fan would take too much power for the current systems we’re selling,” Hughes said. “But the people in Ivory Coast were so insistent that we went back and looked at it.” Because of the emerging market for super-efficient appliances, in the U.S. and elsewhere, some manufacturers had a product that, as long as you kept it set to medium, drew only eight and a half watts. (The standard incandescent light bulb that hung in American hallways for generations drew sixty.) “We’ve told the manufacturer to eliminate the high-speed option,” Hughes said. “Now medium is high. And in our tests people are satisfied with the air speed. But they say the battery tends to run out at 3 or 4 A.M., and they typically sleep till 6 A.M. So it’s not perfect, but it’s getting there.”

*The New Yorker

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Sudan: China’s Original Foothold in Africa
June 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Thanks in part to U.S. neglect, China’s footprint in Sudan has grown exponentially over the past 20 years.

By Joseph Hammond*

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (L) attends a signing ceremony with Chinese President Xi Jinxing at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China (September 1, 2015). Image Credit: REUTERS/ Parker Song

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (L) attends a signing ceremony with Chinese President Xi Jinxing at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China (September 1, 2015).
Image Credit: REUTERS/ Parker Song

China’s legacy in Sudan is immediately visible in downtown Khartoum. Near where the Blue and White Nile join to form the world’s longest river sits the People’s Friendship Cooperation Hall, a gift from China to the People’s Republic to Sudan that dates to 1976.

The complex, which includes a conference hall, meeting rooms, a theater, and banquet hall, stretches for nearly a kilometer along the Nile. The building has aged well and remains one of Africa’s modernist architectural gems; a Chinese extension in 2003 expanded and refurbished the building without impacting its charm In 2014, the People’s Friendship Cooperation Hall hosted the third China-Africa People’s Forum while Chinese sources hailed Sudan as an important country in Africa.

The building is not far from where the British Empire suffered one of its greatest defeats in 1885. That year General Charles George “Chinese” Gordon was killed when the besieged Imperial garrison at Khartoum was overrun by Mahdist forces. A British-led force sent to relieve him arrived just hours too late to lift the months long siege. Before his death in Sudan, Gordon was heavily decorated by the British Empire for his role in suppressing the Taiping Rebellion in China, which the Communist Party of China in recent years has come to see as an anti-imperialist uprising. As such “Chinese” Gordon provides a compelling historical link in Sudanese-Chinese relations, as both countries can claim to have suffered under the same colonial oppressor.

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Chinese-Sudanese relations date to 1959, when Sudan became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to recognize China. Today, China is the largest investor in Sudan, as it is in the continent as a whole. But China’s relation with Sudan is exceptional because of the absence of competition from the United States. Other than Coca-Cola, very few American products are readily available to Sudanese consumers.

Sudan has been under U.S. sanctions since 1995 in part due to the country’s past ties to terrorists like Osama bin Laden. That same year President Omar al-Bashir signed Sudan’s first oil deal with China.

“It is surprising, the coincidence that U.S. sanctions began around the same time China invested in our oil industry,” a Sudanese government official offers sarcastically.

Yet China’s oil empire in Sudan began rather reluctantly. When first approached by Bashir’s government to invest in oil concessions, the Chinese officials suggested Sudan look to Chevron instead.

In June 1997, the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company was established with the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) taking 40 percent ownership and Malaysia’s Petronas taking 30 percent. India’s ONGC Videsh acquired 25 percent when a forerunner of Canada’s Talisman Energy had to leave due to sanctions.

China has invested in other aspects of the industry until it controls as much as 75 percent of the Sudanese oil industry. Sudan currently produces 133,000 barrels of oil per day — a fraction of what it produced before the south of the country seceded in 2011, taking most of the country’s proven oil reserves with it. Today, Chinese companies are looking for new oil deposits in Sudan as increasing oil production is one of the government’s priorities.

“China’s first experience in investing in Africa was in Sudan,” says Ibrahim Ghandour, Sudan’s foreign minister. “They started in oil but, now have other interests in trade, mining, and construction.”

However, in one area Chinese involvement in Sudan is exaggerated: China has been falsely accused of being an major source of armaments for Sudan. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s arms transfer database, arms from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine made up the majority — 77 percent — of imports into the Sudanese arsenal from 2007-2016. China was responsible for a modest 19 percent of all military exports to Sudan over the same period.

China’s presence in Sudan is not without controversy. For example, Sudanese labor law requires that international companies consist of staff which is 80 percent Sudanese, but the foreign minister admits that Chinese companies have failed to comply with this. However, he insists that the Sudanese benefit more than locals in many other African countries from Chinese companies.

“Yes, Chinese companies are in violation of this but, it is the smallest possible violation. Within the oil industry today most of the engineers and technical experts in Sudan and South Sudan are Sudanese. They were trained in China, and we see more and more of them… Sudan is the only country in Africa where over time more locals have gotten jobs from Chinese companies,” says Ghandour.

Though not typically seen as a part of the Belt and Road Initiative, Sudan sees itself as playing a critical role in the development of China’s plan to link East Asia with western Europe. The Sudanese government believes Port Sudan on the Red Sea will be an important loop on that belt.

“We are in discussions with China to work with them on developing a new free-trade area near Port Sudan, which will focus on attracting Chinese companies and of course support the One Belt, One Road Initiative,” says Sudan’s state minister for investment, Osama Faysal. “However in the long term American companies may have a competitive advantage in Sudan due to their spending on R&D.”

If the United States was reluctant to engage in transaction diplomacy back in 1996, when Sudan offered to turn over Osama bin Ladenfor sanctions relief, China has proved a willing partner. Now the Trump administration is poised to lift economic sanctions on Sudan later this year, but it will be a while before the knockoff “Starbox” coffee shops and Khartoum fried chicken eateries disappear.

Khartoum is talking about new business opportunities with American companies and the wider world. That said, despite some resentment among the local Sudanese toward the Chinese, China’s influence will likely continue unabated.

Elsewhere in Africa, China has thrived by under-cutting the competition and accepting higher risks than American companies. However, China’s influence will survive for political reasons as well.

Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since 1989, has pledged to step down in 2020. However, Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party has no intention of yielding power, and in this regard is consciously emulating China. China was the only non-Muslim country outside Africa invited to the fourth national congress of the NCP held this year. Communist Party of China officials — fluent in Arabic — furiously scribbled notes during Bashir’s speech. A few rows away an NCP party member wore a lapel pin from the China Executive Leadership Academy in Pudong, known in Sudan as CELAP, where some NCP leaders have undergone leadership training. As the party has reformed itself as part of a national dialogue initiated in 2014, China has presented an explicit model where competition takes place within parties, not between them.

“China offered a completely different model of human development a model very different than Europe and Britain,” says Ibrahim Mahmoud, the vice president of the NCP who led the reform. “That is an example we are closely following.”

*Culled from The DiplomatJoseph Hammond is a fellow with the American Media Institute and former Cairo Correspondent for Radio Free Europe. He has been contributing as a freelancer to The Diplomat since 2010.

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Innovation is the key to keep Africa moving forward
June 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Africa month recently reminded us of just how far we’ve come as a continent. Sthe Shabangu, Lead: Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship, Samsung Africa Office urges leaders and innovators not to forget what still needs to be done.
Sthembile Shabangu, Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship - Samsung Africa Office

Sthembile Shabangu, Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship – Samsung Africa Office

NAIROBI, Kenya, 20 June 2017, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- In the wake of Africa month it’s easy to be proud of all that we are achieving as a continent. According to the African Development Bank, Africa is the continent with the world’s second fastest growing economy.

There’s little doubt that our vibrant continent is making great strides towards a bright future, with our economy expected to grow by 3.4% in 2017 and 4.3% in 2018, according to research in the African Outlook Report.

Children are being left behind
But the 110 million children in Africa who, according to the Internet for Education in Africa report, have never seen the inside of a classroom would likely tell us that it’s not enough – and they would be right.

Children across Africa’s rural communities are being left behind – and with more than 70% of the continent’s population living in rural areas, this is a major problem. The same report shows that at least half the population resides more than 25km from the nearest fibre connection. It’s clear that while we may be celebrating the growth of connectivity in cities, last-mile connectivity is still a major stumbling block.

Many diseases; few doctors
Education is not the only challenge that requires our urgent attention. Equally troubling and of no less importance is the healthcare sector. With serious diseases like Ebola, malaria, cholera, meningitis and HIV/AIDS still threatening a great number of African lives, we have our work cut out for us. In fact, Brand South Africa reports that while Africa shoulders one quarter of the global disease burden, it is home to just 2% of the world’s doctors.

Despite the serious situation, Africa’s health care systems still lack the capacity to research, produce and deploy the health care solutions we so desperately need.

This issue was highlighted at the recent World Economic Forum Africa Summit, where it became evident that the private sector will play a vital role in improving healthcare on the continent. It is in the private sector that the resources to invest in people and product development exist.

Changing lives one Digital Village at a time
As Samsung has discovered first hand, each investment, whether in education or health care or perhaps even both, has the potential to transform hundreds of lives at a time.

Just last year we partnered with UNESCO in Tanzania to provide innovative education and healthcare solutions to the Maasai community in Ololosokwan, Ngorongoro.

Together, we established a multi-donor programme comprised of a Samsung Solar-Powered Internet School, a Samsung Solar-Powered Health Centre, a Solar-Powered Tele-Medicine Centre and a Solar-Powered generator.

While the Internet School contains an interactive whiteboard, Samsung Galaxy Note PCs and a printer, the Health Centre provides a variety of eye, ear, blood, dental and pre- and post-natal screening and treatments. The Tele-Medicine Centre, on the other hand, provides prescription and expert healthcare assistance through the use of tele-conferencing made possible by the internet and Samsung Tablets, ultimately enabling greater access to qualified medical assistance where before there was none.

Samsung also launched West Africa’s first digital village in Volo in the Volta region of Ghana, where it is partnering with government, local health services and international stakeholders including UNESCO.

Similar to the initiative in Tanzania, the Village is comprised of a Solar-Powered Internet School, Solar-Powered Tele-Medical Centre, Solar-Powered Health Centre and Solar-Powered Generator.

Not only is the Village instrumental to the improvement of healthcare and education in the region but it also helps local traders to develop their businesses through the aid of an alternative, low-cost energy source.

Through innovations like these, we believe it’s possible to start changing the status quo. We established a similar Digital Village in the community of Matshiding in Mpumlanga with the goal of making healthcare accessible to more people.

Because the Village drastically reduces the distance that patients have to travel to access medical care, almost 700 patients visit the Village each month to access basic healthcare services.

It’s true that we still have a great deal of work to do if we want to see our incredible continent continue on its path of transformation, but I firmly believe that the key to our success lies in the power of innovation.

Indeed Samsung’s innovations have been changing millions of lives since we first set foot in Africa many years ago. The drive to serve as a catalyst for transformation across the continent is in our DNA. And just as it’s been our mandate to inspire innovation in Africa, so Africa has inspired us.

When it comes to innovation, the limits to what we as a dynamic and developing continent can achieve are few. We have only to look to ourselves.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Samsung Electronics.

About Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. inspires the world and shapes the future with transformative ideas and technologies. The company is redefining the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, cameras, digital appliances, medical equipment, network systems, and semiconductor and LED solutions.
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African Solutions Are Needed For African Problems-Prophet Shepherd Bushiri on his Corporate Side
June 21, 2017 | 17 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems, says Prophet Bushiri

We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems, says Prophet Bushiri

In just two years, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri Founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), says his Ministry has registered over 300,000 new members. But why is the ECG such a crowd puller in so short a time? Blending the spiritual needs of his followers, with skills to navigate daily challenges  with success seems to be the winning recipe.

“We do not just preach, in words and deeds, the gospel of the living Jesus Christ. We also teach and empower people on how to face daily economic challenges of their lives through entrepreneurship programmes and also skills development,” says Prophet Bushiri.

With headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa, Prophet Bushiri says in addition to his spiritual work, he has the vision to seek African solutions to African problems.

While many may be familiar with the religious side of Prophet Bushiri, the man of God has a rapidly growing business empire with the Shepherd Bushiri Investments. From aviation to real estate, farming, financial, education and IT services, Prophet Bushiri is slowly but steadily carving a niche for himself in the African business landscape.

‘At the ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Prophet Bushiri of the sustained efforts to also boost the  entrepreneurial skills of his followers.

Mr Shepherd Bushiri, thanks for accepting to grant this interview could you start by introducing yourself, who is Prophet Shepherd Bushiri the man of God, and Entrepreneur?

Thank you for affording me this opportunity to speak with you. I truly appreciate you taking time out of your schedule for this.

I am a Malawian born Man of God currently based in Pretoria, South Africa. I am married to Prophetess Mary Bushiri and we have two beautiful daughters.

I am the founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) and its headquarters is in Pretoria South Africa.

In just two years in South Africa, the church has achieved over 300 000 registered members just in South Africa.

Further, we have branches in Africa, Europe, Australia and North and South America.

Prophet Bushiri with his family, his wife plays a leading role in running SBI

Prophet Bushiri with his family, his wife plays a leading role in running SBI

I often get asked: Why is your ministry growing fast? Simply put, it is because we do not just preach, in words and deeds, the gospel of the living Jesus Christ. We also teach and empower people on how to face daily economic challenges of their lives through entrepreneurship programmes and also skills development. People are able not just to read and hear about the word of God; they also see, live and experience it.

You are President of Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI), can you tell us about your group, and how it has evolved over the years to what it is today?

We started with a vision of creating structures and systems that could empower young Africans with skills development and employment. This vision has turned into a reality.

Today, we own and manage a number of business entities under Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI). We are in Travel and Aviation for VIP’s and Presidents, through SBI Airways, where we have four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates. We are in financial services where our Trading and Stock Exchange Services industry specialists provide comprehensive, integrated solutions to the Banking & Securities, Insurance, and Investment Management sectors.

We are also in Real estate where our industry practice providing world-class standards of differentiated residential and commercial property services and delivery. Hospitality Services. Currently, we own Sparkling Waters Hotel and Spa, situated in the heart of South Africa’s Magaliesburg Mountains, it is a luxurious three-star hotel, the ideal holiday or conference venue. Further, we are also in Mobile Telecommunications Services through one of SBI’s largest group of specialists providing cutting-edge mobile services specifically designed for PSB Network members.

SBI Airways, has four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates

SBI Airways, has four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates

Other entities include: SB University, SB Mining, SB Mobile Network, SB Trading Exchange Platform, SB Media, SB Real Estates and SB Agriculture.

How did you get the seed money or capital and at what point did the big break come for the SBI Group?

After I began my ministry in Malawi, I realised that for a ministry to go far, I needed more money. Besides that, I am a father, a husband and a family man. I needed money to take care of my family. Using my small savings from personal endeavours, family assistance and well-wishers I ventured into farming. I was growing and selling maize on a family land—by the way, maize is Malawi’s staple food. I started saving and investing every fortune I got from my maize sales. With days, my investments began to grow. These profits afforded me the opportunity to be where I am today.

The key word is ‘saving’ and ‘investing wisely.’

There are definitely other business ventures of yours that we are not aware, is Prophet Shepherd Bushiri willing to share them with us?

SBI businesses are the ones stated above.

What ties do you have with your home country of Malawi and any projects you have carried out there?

I am a proud and patriotic Malawian. I go to Malawi often on philanthropic work. We distribute relief maize to the poor, we go to prisons, we reach out to the sick, the orphans and the elderly.

Malawi is a beautiful and friendly nation. It is my home.

What are some of the challenges you faced growing the group, and how will you describe the business climate in Africa, atleast in countries where you currently do business in?

Well, challenges of doing business—ranging from corruption, dwindling consumer buying power and soaring taxes—will always be there. SBI, however, is turning them into success by advancing a business and investment culture that puts the clients first. Africa is a great continent with great potential. Opportunities are many and I think they will always be there.

What I envision, of course, is an Africa with African solutions—be it politics, economics and social life. We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems.

How does Prophet Bushiri balance his pastoral duties with the corporal responsibilities he has at the SBI?

Time management is essential for all works that one does but most importantly is having a strong team. Fortunately, our team is excellent.

Any biblical precedent for this blend of spiritual duties and corporate interests which seems to be working for you?

If you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham says Prophet Bushiri in response to the vilification of men of God "blessed with fortune"

If you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham says Prophet Bushiri in response to the vilification of men of God “blessed with fortune”

I need to emphasise here that there is a tradition of vilifying Men of God whom have been blessed them with a fortune. There is this perception that Men of God are not supposed to be involved in business, to get rich, for instance. I don’t know where this perception comes from, but, if you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham. It really sets a good example but then you do not just get rich. You must be a great worker—something which I am.

What is the reaction of your Church members to the business successes of their leader and for those who will want to register the same what message do you have for them?

My congregants are heavily encouraged with my success in business. They see me as a source of hope and also the definition of succeeding in doing business even when you are a Christian.

With the motto ‘At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires’, I aim to transfer knowledge and skills of doing business in my congregants through the Monday Evening Service called the Diplomatic Service. During this weekly service, I train my congregant on how to begin, grow and manage a business using Godly ways.

I am telling you we are making unprecedented progress!

Africa has witnessed a proliferation of churches, and the opulence in which the Pastors or owners of some of the mega churches live is at odds with the everyday toil and pain of their follows, how do your own followers feel about your wealth, how do you feel when in all the wealth you have followers who live in misery, and what is your response to criticisms that religious leaders like you exploit followers for selfish ends?

At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Bushiri

At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Bushiri

Wealth comes from God—it’s a blessing, a gift that we are all born with. What matters is to listen to God for He is the one who has the keys to unlock it for us. The key thing is PRAYER and hard work.

I have never been involved in exploiting my church members. What they contribute to ECG is for the growth of the ministry—not my personal life. This is the reason I started venturing in business so that I do not meet my needs using money from church.

From your take Prophet Bushiri, how can Africans make the distinction between real and fake prophets, genuine men of God and adventurers?

I am a Man of God, heavenly ordained. I cannot speak for others. I feel it’s the sole responsibility of God to make that distinction.

We end with business which was the main thrust of the interview, what projects will the SBI Group be working on  in the years ahead?

We are interested in growing our entities and expanding to almost every country in Africa. We also want to support more especially—the elderly, orphans and youth.

 

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Africa Could Help Feed the World – If Its Fertile Land Doesn’t Vanish
June 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: Mujahid Safodien/IRIN

Photo: Mujahid Safodien/IRIN

Ouagadougou — The 23rd World Day to Combat Desertification was celebrated in Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou on June 15 with a call to create two million jobs and restore 10 million hectares of degraded land.

Three African heads of state took part in the celebrations: Ibrahim Boubacar Kéita from Mali, Mahamadou Issoufou from Niger and Roch Kaboré from Burkina Faso. The Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Monique Barbut also attended the event.

Two-thirds of the African continent is desert or drylands, and nearly 75 percent of agricultural land is estimated to be degraded to varying degrees.

According to the UNCCD, two-thirds of the African continent is desert or drylands. This land is vital for agriculture and food production, but nearly 75 percent is estimated to be degraded to varying degrees.

The region is also affected by frequent and severe droughts, which have been particularly devastating in recent years in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.

“Degraded lands is not an inevitable fate. Restoration is still possible. However, what will be more difficult is to feed 10 billion human beings in 30 years. The only place where there are still lands to do that is Africa. We need these lands to feed the whole planet. Therefore restoring lands is assuring food security for the whole planet,” said Barbut.

The high-level meeting that gathered 400 experts from around the world ended in the Call from Ouagadougou, urging citizens and governments to tackle desertification by restoring ten million hectares of land and by creating two million green jobs for youth, women and migrants.

“By 2050, the African population will double to two billion people,” Barbut noted. “I fear that as the population depends up to 80 percent on natural resources for their livelihoods, those resources will vanish given the great pressure on them.”

She added that young people emerging from this demographic growth will need decent jobs.

“In the next 15 years, 375 million young people will be entering the job market in Africa. Two hundred million of them will live in rural areas and 60 million will be obliged to leave those areas because of the pressure on natural resources.”

 According to UNCCD, it is critical to enact policies that enable young people to own and rehabilitate degraded land, as there are nearly 500 million hectares of once fertile agricultural land that have been abandoned.

Talking specifically about Burkina Faso, which hosted the celebration, Batio Nestor Bassiere, the minister in charge of environmental issues, said, “From 2002 to 2013, 5.16 million hectares, 19 percent of the country’s territory, has been degraded by desertification.”

The situation is similar in most African countries. That’s why “it’s nonsense to sit and watch that happening without acting, given that the means for action are available,” said Barbut.

The Call from Ouagadougou comes from a common willingness to save the planet and Africa particularly from desertification. Gathered to discuss the topic “Our land, our house, our future,” linked to the fulfillment of the 3S Initiative (sustainability, stability, and security in Africa), the Call from Ouagadougou also invites African countries to create conditions for the development of new job opportunities by targeting the places where the access to land can be reinforced and land rights secured for vulnerable populations.

Development partners and other actors have also been called on to give their contributions. They were invited to help African countries to invest in rural infrastructure, land restoration, and the development of skills in chosen areas and among those facing migration and social risks.

For that, the UN agency in charge of the fight against desertification and its partners can rely on the firm support of the three heads of state who came for this 23rd World Day to Combat Desertification.

The President of Burkina Faso Roch Kaboré let the audience know that they are all “engaged to promote regional and global partnerships to find funds for investment in lands restoration and long term land management, wherever they will have opportunities to speak.”

Representing the African Union, Ahmed Elmekaa, Director, African Union/SAFGRAD, said drawing attention to the resolutions of desertification, land degradation and drought and on climate change are at the top of the African Union’s environmental agenda.

Taking advantage of the celebration, the national authorities gave the name of the very first executive secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Hama Arba Diallo, to a street of the capital Ouagadougou. Experts from many countries also had the opportunity to visit sites showing the experience of Burkina Faso in combating desertification.

At a dinner ceremony held immediately following the closure of the ceremony, the UNCCD announced the winners of the Land for Life Award, Practical Action Sudan/UNEP from Sudan; Watershed Organization Trust from India. The Land for Life China award was given to Yingzhen Pan, Director General of National Bureau to Combat Desertification, China.

*IPS/Allafrica

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South Africa: Mining Companies Required to Have 30 Percent Black Ownership
June 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Photo: GCIS Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

Photo: GCIS
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

Pretoria — The 2017 Mining Charter has increased the level of black ownership in mining companies from 26% to 30%.

“Holders who have maintained a 30% black shareholding will not be required to restructure their shareholding,” Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said.

Addressing a media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday, Minister Zwane said the 30% ownership requirement also applies to holders who claim historical Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) transactions.

“A historical BEE transaction is recognised for the reporting period but such holders are required to top up their shareholding to the minimum requirement of black shareholding within 12 months of the charter coming into force.

“With regards to the transfer of rights, a holder who sells their mining assets must give black owned companies preferential option to purchase,” he said.

Minister Zwane said the charter requires the holder of a mining right to pay 1% of its annual turnover to the 30% black persons shareholding prior to and over and above any distributions made by a holder to its shareholders.

 “This 1% payment is meant to ensure real economic value in the hands of black persons, but is always subject to the solvency and liquidity test, as provided in the Companies Act,” he said.

The revised charter further requires that a new prospecting right must have a minimum of 50% plus 1 black person shareholding, which must include voting rights.

The Department of Mineral Resources embarked on a process to review and amend the Mining Charter to strengthen and refine its effectiveness in driving economic transformation and competitiveness in the mining sector. That process has now been concluded.

  “In order to achieve economic transformation, we need to produce a new era of industrialisation, driven by young economic champions. Procurement can play a profound role in providing genuine economic opportunities, particularly to new entrants and the youth,” Minister Zwane said.
 The charter requires 70% procurement of mining goods and 80% procurement of services from BEE entities.

Employment Equity

“On Employment Equity, the charter aims to ensure that black representation at the various levels of employment is representative of the demographics of the country,” Minister Zwane said.

The requirements are at board level a minimum of 50% black representation, 25% of which must be black females; at an executive/top management level, a minimum of 50% black representation, 25% of which must be female black representation, and at senior management level, a minimum of 60% representation, 30% of which must be female black representation.

The requirement at middle management level is a minimum of 75% black representation, 38% of which must be female black representation and at junior management level, a minimum of 88% black representation, 44% of which must be female black representation.

“On the Human Resource Development element, a holder must invest 5% of the leviable amount on essential skills development.

“We cannot ignore the fact that effective implementation of this charter is key if we are to see meaningful change.

“As the custodian of the nation’s minerals, government, through the Department of Mineral Resources, has a duty to ensure that it stewards the country’s minerals in a manner that benefits all South Africans,” Minister Zwane said.

*Allafrica/SA News Agency

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Caf to review how hosts were chosen for the next three Nations Cups
June 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kennedy Gondwe*

"Our review process is that we go to those countries that bid for those competitions." Chiyangwa said that the change at Caf was driven by a sense of unfairness in the manner tournaments were awarded to hosts under its former president Issa Hayatou. "Our contestation on Hayatou to continue in office was the unfair awarding of tournaments to one region," he said. "Other regions were suffering, if you look at the background of the Issa Hayatou fall, it arises out of the fact that most of the competitions were being awarded to West Africa, not North Africa, not even Central Africa and not even Southern Africa," he added. "So the chance you have - should in our investigations a decision be arrived at to nullify the other competitions - you as Zambia, if you are ready, you may have an opportunity that arises in 2021."

“Our review process is that we go to those countries that bid for those competitions.”
Chiyangwa said that the change at Caf was driven by a sense of unfairness in the manner tournaments were awarded to hosts under its former president Issa Hayatou.
“Our contestation on Hayatou to continue in office was the unfair awarding of tournaments to one region,” he said.
“Other regions were suffering, if you look at the background of the Issa Hayatou fall, it arises out of the fact that most of the competitions were being awarded to West Africa, not North Africa, not even Central Africa and not even Southern Africa,” he added.
“So the chance you have – should in our investigations a decision be arrived at to nullify the other competitions – you as Zambia, if you are ready, you may have an opportunity that arises in 2021.”

Phillip Chiyangwa, vice president of the Confederation of African Football’s (Caf) Africa Cup of Nations committee, says Zambia may yet be given an opportunity to bid to host the 2021 Nations Cup.

Chiyangwa said Caf was reviewing the manner in which the 2019, 2021 and 2023 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments were awarded to West Africa by the previous Caf administration.

Chiyangwa, who is also head of the Cosafa region (Council of Southern African FA’s) spoke of his concerns in April and wants the tournaments to be more widespread.

“I am the giver and taker of competitions,” Phillip Chiyangwa said during a tour of Zambia last week.

As things currently stand, the 2019 edition will be held in Cameroon while Ivory Coast is set to stage the 2021 tournament and Guinea will be hosts in 2023.

That means the west of the continent would have staged Africa’s showpiece event for five consecutive tournaments, from 2015 – when Equatorial Guinea stepped in for Morocco – to 2023.

“I am currently reviewing what happened in the past, there may be possibilities in 2021 going forward, but the reason why I want to be ready with my region is to know which country wants what.

“If an opportunity arises there is no need for me to do last minute searches,” Chiyangwa said.

“Our review process is that we go to those countries that bid for those competitions.”

Chiyangwa said that the change at Caf was driven by a sense of unfairness in the manner tournaments were awarded to hosts under its former president Issa Hayatou.

Zambia FA president Andrew Kamanga and Caf's Phillip Chiyangwa meeting in Zambia last week

Zambia FA president Andrew Kamanga and Caf’s Phillip Chiyangwa meeting in Zambia last week

“Our contestation on Hayatou to continue in office was the unfair awarding of tournaments to one region,” he said.

“Other regions were suffering, if you look at the background of the Issa Hayatou fall, it arises out of the fact that most of the competitions were being awarded to West Africa, not North Africa, not even Central Africa and not even Southern Africa,” he added.

“So the chance you have – should in our investigations a decision be arrived at to nullify the other competitions – you as Zambia, if you are ready, you may have an opportunity that arises in 2021.”

 *BBC
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From Africa To Geneva And Back: Why A New Dad Returned To His Roots
June 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

By *

Carl Manlan, his wife, Lelani, and their two kids, Liam and Claire. Lizelle Krige

Carl Manlan, his wife, Lelani, and their two kids, Liam and Claire.
Lizelle Krige

Would you rather raise your kids in Europe or Africa?

That’s the question that Carl Manlan faced. Carl, who’s from the Ivory Coast, and his wife, Lelani, who’s from South Africa, started their family in Geneva, Switzerland, where they were working at the time. They have two children, a daughter named Claire, born in May 2012, and a son named Liam, born in September 2014.

Geneva is a great place to raise kids, Carl says. “Lots of opportunities to stimulate kids outside of the home, playgrounds for kids. You don’t really find that in most cities in Africa.”

But he wanted to be a dad in Africa. So he and his family moved to Johannesburg and then Accra, where he works as a chief operating officer for a foundation. I spoke with Carl about his decision to be an African dad in Africa.

What is behind your decision?

Raising my two African children in Geneva has limitations. There are experiences they will not be able to have because of the geographic location.

Like what?

In Geneva she could see pictures and images from Africa but the visual and sensory experience of being here is something I cannot replace, even with social media. In Ghana, we see many people, kids, selling things in the street. It’s something I saw growing up.

Does your daughter ask you why there are kids living on the streets?

She asked that question when we were driving her to school. Part of the explanation we gave her is that there are many children who cannot go to school, and they have to find a way to make a living.

What if she looks back and says, Gee, Dad, Geneva would have been a nicer place to live?

Maybe she would say, ‘My life in Geneva would have been much better.” But my answer would be, “It’s a decision we made as parents. We think it is important for our children to understand the continent where their parents come from, to be part of the local culture, to hear the local languages, to see the challenges we have to resolve as a society.”

Are you worried about health risks in Africa, where there are high rates of communicable diseases like malaria?

We focus on prevention — anti-mosquito spray and lotion on the body. And if something goes wrong we are fortunate to be able to access medical facilities.

Are you kind of the “new African dad”?

I wouldn’t say the ‘new African dad.’ But there are fathers taking a different role in Africa.

Meaning what?

As fathers, we cannot just relay on the nanny. Raising children is a commitment. If parents delegate that responsibility they may not be helping society. Because having children is a commitment we’ve made to society, to make sure they become good citizens. And becoming a good citizen starts at home.

Any other advice for new dads?

Enjoy!

What was your dad like?

My father was a doctor and used to travel a lot. It took a while to make time to connect. With my kids, when I travel for work I make sure we have a conversation about my traveling before I go. I explain what I’m going to do. When I come back I bring a book from the country I’ve been to. And as much as possible it’s 100 percent dedication to an activity for my children.

How did you connect with your dad?

Carl Manlan at 22 with his dad the doctor, Kassi Manlan, in a photo from 2000. Kassi died the next year. Courtesy Carl Manlan

Carl Manlan at 22 with his dad the doctor, Kassi Manlan, in a photo from 2000. Kassi died the next year.
Courtesy Carl Manlan

In my teenage years in Abidjan, he’d wake me up in the early hours, around 5 in the morning, and we’d go for a walk. During these walks he would speak about being a professional and what it entails, how as a medical doctor he was committed to save people’s lives and sometimes it means he cannot be home. Being able to walk with him when it was just the two of us is something I cherish a lot.

But he woke you up at 5! Teenagers love to sleep late, right?

I would look forward to the nudge in the early hours, that voice that troubled my sleep. I am grateful for those moments because it was our moment.

And he was very good at increasing the pace as a training in perseverance.

Going for an early walk became a habit. Even now I wake up early and I walk my walk. I’m not a runner but I walk my walk. It’s a quiet moment, a special moment. It gets me ready for the day.

Do you plan to teach that custom to your kids?

I don’t know if my children will want to do that. But I will definitely try and see what the reaction is.

*NPR

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Why do opposition coalitions succeed or fail?
June 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

Some sweep to power. Many more crumble. Why? And which way will Zimbabwe’s 2018 coalition go?

BY NICOLE BEARDSWORTH*

Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru join hands in a bid to win the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru join hands in a bid to win the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe.

For the past two decades, the phenomenon of the opposition coalition has gained growing traction and interest across Africa.

In 2000, a group of opposition parties in Senegal joined forces as the Sopi (or “Change”) alliance. Together, they defeated the incumbent president and ended 40 years of one-party dominance.

In 2002, Kenya’s opposition repeated the trick. In the 1992 and 1997 elections, losing parties had cumulatively gained over 60% of the vote. But this time around, they grouped together as the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). This united opposition swept to power, removing the party that had governed Kenya since 1963.

Since then, pre-electoral coalitions have changed governments again in Senegal, as well as in Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Nigeria and The Gambia.

When elections are held in 2018, Zimbabwe hopes to join this growing list.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party (NPP) have agreed – in principle – to team up. A host of other opposition parties have also provisionally joined, including: Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Dumiso Dabengwa’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD), Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and Elton Mangoma’s Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ).

This would be a broad and impressive coalition, bringing together many well-known faces and politicians who have electoral support outside of traditional opposition strongholds. But for every successful opposition alliance Africa has seen, there have been several more that have crumbled after early optimism or fallen flat at the ballot box.

Why do coalitions sometimes become more than the sum of their parts and generate a huge surge of support? Why do they often fragment and collapse?

Fighting each other vs. fighting together

One crucial indicator of whether an opposition coalition will succeed is how polarised the political landscape is. This can determine the degree to which parties are able to join forces coherently and without undermining their own reputation and principles.

According to political scientist Nicolas Van de Walle, opposition coalitions only work when they appear capable of winning and thus prompt members of the ruling party to defect. These defectors not only bolster the ranks of the opposition, but can bring supporters with them and sway undecided voters.

Ahead of Nigeria’s 2015 elections, for example, the All Progressives Congress was significantly strengthened by mass defections from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Similarly, in Zambia in 2016, dozens of defectors from the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) drastically improved the electoral fortunes of the United Party for National Development (UPND).

However, this strategy is not straightforward. To begin with, it can be difficult to encourage members of the ruling party to cross the aisle. And when they do, it can be tough to persuade opposition supporters to vote for someone who was, until recently, part of the government.

The more deeply polarised the political landscape, the harder this is.

Uganda, for example, is at the other end of the spectrum to Nigeria or Zambia where defections are not particularly costly. In Uganda, the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has long defined itself in stark contrast to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). It emphasises the persecution it has experienced at the hands of the ruling party, which it characterises as illegitimate and unjust.

This makes it hard for the FDC to encourage defections from the NRM, which it consistently attacks in no uncertain terms. Moreover, when figures within the ruling party do defect, it can be risky for the FDC to bring them into the fold without undermining its own image.

In 2016, the FDC faced a dilemma when the opposition alliance it was part of voted for the recently-expelled former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi to be its flag-bearer. The FDC was confronted with the prospect of backing a former insider in the very government it had long denounced. Afraid of alienating its base and diluting its anti-regime brand, the FDC decided to leave the coalition.

When it comes to Zimbabwe, the environment looks similarly polarised, especially between the main opposition MDC-T and the ruling ZANU-PF. The MDC-T claims to be the democratic saviour to the ZANU-PF’s illegitimate authoritarianism; ZANU-PF presents itself as the liberator hero to the MDC-T’s foreign subservience.

But unlike the FDC in Uganda, the MDC-T seems to be – at least in principle – less averse to allying with the long-standing government insider, Joice Mujuru. Nevertheless, the fundamental irreconcilability between the images of the MDC-T and ZANU-PF brings a certain riskiness to this decision. What does it say about the vociferous opposition party that it now says it is prepared to stand alongside a former ZANU-PF stalwart and vice-president? How will its supporters react?

In Zimbabwe, however, there are added complications arising from the fact that the hostile political climate also stretches to relations between some opposition parties. The MDC-T, for example, has used polarising rhetoric not just to condemn the ruling party, but also to criticise the opposition groups that emerged from a split in 2005. Tsvangirai’s faction branded this MDC breakaway as “sell outs” and “traitors”.

This rhetoric made attempts at a rapprochement in 2008 and 2013 more difficult. It will also make joining forces trickier ahead of 2018, especially given that many opposition groups have splintered even further since then. The PDP, for example, is the result another split in the MDC-T from when Tendai Biti walked out in 2014. And the ZRD is the result of fissure in the PDP.

It can be difficult to build stable and effective structures when so many bridges have been burned.

Who will lead the coalition?

The main hurdle at which most opposition coalitions fall is in picking its leader. This contest is often keenly fought, particularly since the benefits of the presidency are so great in most African countries.

The decision of who should be the figurehead is least contentious when there are recent and reliable indicators of party strength, such as the results of parliamentary by-elections. With this data, it is more straightforward to work out which candidate has the most recognition and support.

However, this kind of information doesn’t guarantee an easy process. In Zambia, for example, the opposition UPND won a series of unexpected by-elections victories between 2011 and 2016. Its candidate Hakainde Hichilema also garnered 46.7% of the vote in the 2015 presidential by-election, losing by just 27 000 votes.

Nevertheless in 2016, when the UPND tried to form a coalition with opposition leader Edith Nawakwi – who got 0.9% in 2015 – Nawakwi insisted that she should lead the alliance. She said that she had supported Hichilema in a 2006 coalition and that now it was his turn to support her. The parties went their separate ways.

In Uganda 2016, the choice of who should head up the coalition was also a source of disagreement and ended up breaking apart the alliance. In this instance, the uncertainty over the relative popularity of the two potential candidates made it harder to judge who would be the best-placed candidate.

The FDC’s Kizza Besigye had the broadest national reach and most organised structures, but had not surpassed 37% in three previous presidential runs. Meanwhile, former PM Mbabazi was an unknown quantity as an opposition figure, but was well-known nationally and had insider knowledge about the ruling party’s election strategies. When Mbabazi was chosen, the FDC refused to back him and left, leading to the breakdown of the coalition.

Zimbabwe’s nascent coalition is now in a similar situation. Tsvangirai is a veteran opposition figure with a proven track record of mobilising supporters, while Mujuru is an untested but well-known former ruling party insider with support in ruling party strongholds and close contacts in the intelligence services and police. It is uncertain which figure would draw the most voters and which will prevail in the contest to lead the coalition.

In terms of measuring the MDC-T’s support, the series of splits and a three-year electoral boycott make it difficult to judge. But the 2017 Afrobarometer survey suggests that the opposition has lost ground since the 2013 elections, when Tsvangirai got just 34% of the vote. According to the study, the opposition is trusted by just 32% of the population, compared to 65% who trust the president and 56% the ruling party.

This may give more ammunition to those who’d prefer to see Mujuru as the flag-bearer. But it remains to be seen if the MDC-T would accept this outcome, or make the same decision as the FDC in Uganda.

Keeping the lower ranks happy

However, it is not just the leader of the coalition that matters. Political parties are comprised of hundreds of functionaries with their own ambitions and goals, and alliances frequently collapse as a result of vested interests at lower party echelons.

Ahead of Zambia’s 2011 elections, for example, a pact between the two largest opposition parties at the time – the UPND and the Patriotic Front (PF) – was apparently scuppered by PF Secretary-General Wynter Kabimba. Kabimba had his own presidential ambitions and knew that he would be pushed down the pecking order under a coalition.

A similar thing happened in Zimbabwe in 2013. In that situation, two of Tsvangirai’s inner circle that reportedly opposed a coalition with the breakaway MDC due to fears of losing their own positions in the hierarchy.

These concerns also arise around parliamentary races. Opposition parties that typically compete for the same seats face much more internal resistance to coalitions than those with different, complimentary constituencies.

In Kenya, for example, coalitions are frequently formed between relatively geographically contained, ethnic-based parties. Because the parties within these groupings – such as the recently formed National Super Alliance – rarely compete for the same seats, coalitions in Kenya face relatively little resistance from the lower ranks.

By contrast, negotiations between the two MDC factions in Zimbabwe in 2007 ultimately failed, partly because the MDC-T insisted on contesting two seats held by the other party in the opposition’s shared stronghold in Matabeleland. Both sides refused to back down.

Ahead of 2018, Zimbabwe’s opposition groups will face these discussions once again. But it is possible that they will be easier this time around. Because of repeated fragmentation, many of the resulting parties looking to form a coalition are smaller and newer.

This may mean that they are less able to make strong demands. It may also mean that negotiations are more about bringing party leaders on board than appeasing each grouping’s structures. Because of this, the talks may bypass complex internal party dynamics and side-step vested interests lower down the party chain.

Zimbabwe 2018: Can a coalition win?

While 45% of Zimbabweans polled by Afrobarometer expressed support for the idea of an opposition coalition, there are still many answered questions and tricky challenges facing the nascent coalition in the run up to 2018.

Can the animosity between different factions be put aside? Will opposition supporters accept the inclusion of Mujuru, a decades-long ZANU-PF insider?

How will the presidential candidate be picked, based on what calculations and agreements? And how will those less pleased by the choice react?

Will a coalition deal involve running joint candidates in each constituency? And if so, how will those asked to shelve their ambitions respond?

These are tricky questions. But in many ways, they are just the start. Even once these dilemmas are resolved, there is still the ultimate question of whether even a perfectly-coherent and functional opposition coalition has much chance of winning. Bringing together a range of opposition parties is the first step in defeating the ruling party, not the final blow.

On this front, the prospects for the opposition in Zimbabwe do not look particularly rosy.

Trust in the opposition is low. Old methods of party mobilisation using organised labour are no longer an option given skyrocketing unemployment and informal livelihoods. And the impact of new social movements – such as #ThisFlag and #Tajamuka – is likely limited given that they are predominantly urban-based.

Meanwhile, ZANU-PF has shifted into election mode, doling out urban land in an effort to shore up support and turning the screws on vocal opponents. The ruling party may be riven with internal factionalism, but it’s unclear if the opposition can turn this to their advantage.

The MDC-T remains the most organised opposition party with the largest organisational reach. If it could make it work, a broad coalition would bolster its ranks and could give it further appeal. But there remain serious concerns in the opposition including poor strategic thinking, complacency, a tendency towards authoritarianism and internal fractionalisation.

Even if the 2018 vote is a straightforward contest between a ruling party and a truly united opposition, the election is still likely to be one of fairly poor choices.

*African Arguments

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Sweden collaborates with Zimbabwe to promote green economy
June 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Sweden through the Swedish Embassy in Harare is collaborating with a number of partners to create a green economy and transition Zimbabwe to a society built on sustainable environmental solutions.

A green economy is defined as an economy that aims at reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, and that aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment.

According to a publication titled:Innovation-the Swedish way by Eva Krutmeijer, some of the world’s most successful innovators are from Sweden.

The same publication says that Sweden excels at environmental technology and sustainable solutions, as international rankings show.It is reported that many Swedish innovations have become highly successful exports.It is also reported that often, they address complex global challenges such as poverty alleviation and climate change.

For a country like Zimbabwe faced with economic challenges including numerous environmental problems such as land degradation, excessive littering, urban streambank agriculture, massive pollution and wetlands destruction, just to mention a few and which impact on a green economy, the Swedish interventions could not have come at a better time.

Sofia Calltorp, Ambassador for the Embassy of Sweden in Harare said that her government had just signed a new five year strategy for development cooperation with Zimbabwe.

“We are seeking new partnerships in Zimbabwe, especially in the area of climate change and environment,” she said.

Also recently, Calltorp signed on behalf of her government a $1,35 million agreement to support Zimbabwe’s Culture Fund three year programme named Culture Actions to reduce gender based violence, combat child marriages and promote environmental awareness through transformative arts.

The agreement aims to promote environmental awareness by harnessing the power of the transformative arts.

“We want to start a discussion around environmental issues and climate change,” Calltorp said.

Also at the Culture Fund, Culture Actions agreement signing ceremony, Maria Selin, Swedish Embassy in Harare, Head of Development Cooperation said that the Swedish Embassy was seeking local partnerships with organisations in Zimbabwe to create a new green society.

Selin said particular areas of focus include environment, climate and Renewable Energy.

She said that these partnerships seek to create new jobs and business opportunities.

Selin added that particular focus will be on women and children who mostly bear the brunt of climate change impacts.

Also the Swedish embassy in Harare has introduced its Swedish Open Forum 3 series focusing on the green society.

 

According to MartinBuch Larsen, Communication and Promotion Officer for the Embassy of Sweden in Harare, the recent forum was the first in 2017.The 2015 one was called the open society, the 2016 one was the innovative society and this year it was called the green society.

 

The recent open forum attended by various stakeholders in Harare sought to unpack what it would take to green Zimbabwe through open and interactive dialogue.

The forum also explored challenges, benefits and risks in transitioning to a society built on sustainable environmental solutions. Other issues focused on how the public and private sector can join hands to create green jobs for the youths.

Green jobs are decent jobs that contribute to preserve or restore the environment, be they in traditional sectors such as manufacturing and construction, or in new, emerging green sectors such as renewable energy and energy efficiency.

 

At the Swedish Open Forum three recently held at the Ambassador’s residency, Ms Lova Nilsson representing SWECO, a Swedish organisation made remarks on the Swedish green economy experience.

Nilsson has experience in strategic planning, environmental assessment and environmental management. Her green experience covers environmental management systems, procurement, green house gas emission reduction and sustainable transport and city planning.

Nilsson said to create a green economy, it is necessary to have an enabling environment. She said that there is need introduce lower   taxation systems for renewable energy initiatives and come up with innovative ideas.

She also said that there is need to take business on board and commercialise opportunities. She emphasised the need for public awareness on the issues and engagement of communities to spearhead change.

“We also need conscious consumers who are aware of the needs of buying green to create a green economy,” Nilsson said.

She said that the public or citizens should be able to put pressure on the leadership to push for green economies. Nilsson also emphasised the need for sustained dialogue on the green economy.

She added that in Sweden, there was ongoing dialogue between suppliers and procurers of commodities for a 50% procurement threshold focusing on organic foods.

TawandaMuzamwese, Executive Director of the Business Council for Sustainable Development Zimbabwe (BCSDZ)said at the same forum that private sector in Zimbabwe was still facing challenges on greening initiatives but there were promising initiatives the organisation was working on.

Working with at least 60 companies in the private sector in Zimbabwe, BCSDZ is promoting the mainstreaming of sustainable development initiatives for local business.

“We are encouraging our member organisations and companies to adopt renewable energy for productive use for example through solar lighting and solar irrigation initiatives,” Muzamwese said.

He added that his organisation is also promoting industrial energy efficiency and environmental sound management of chemicals.Other initiatives include promoting the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) environmental management systems for companies to adopt. The organisation has also working on a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) initiative supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) called the Green Industry Initiative to replace absolete technology of the 1950s in some of Zimbabwe’s companies. The idea is to establish new green industries also focusing on recycling initiatives.

Ronny Mbaisa, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Sunshine Group which collaborates with environmentally conscious youths and has pioneered a number of community projects in the area of waste management said that his organisation was working on lobbying the government of Zimbabwe to formalise the recycling industry. They also plan to replicate the Swedish model of recycling drop-off centres and the Malmor waste to energy transfer centre following his recent exchange sharing visit to the country.

Ashok Chakravarti, Zimbabwe Country Coach, Ease of Doing Business programme, Office of the President and Cabinet said that there was a strong need for a favourable, enabling policy environment with proper regulations, taxes and incentives to create a green economy in Zimbabwe. He said that there was need to change some laws and regulations in the country to promote a green economy.Chakravarti said that the current economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, (ZIMASSET) being pursued by government and is coming to an end lacks green economy and sustainable development aspects and needs to be revisited.

 

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Zampalm starts commercial palm oil production
June 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Zampalm oil palm main nursery

Zampalm oil palm main nursery

Zambeef’s Zampalm plantation in Muchinga Province in Zambia has
started commercial production of palm oil and its quality is already
impressing buyers such as Global Industries, according to a
spokesperson.

It is reported that the production and processing of crude palm oil
is expected to drastically reduce the country’s dependence on crude
palm oil and edible oil imports.

Zambia’s current imports stand at over $70 million every year, a
costly exercise for the country which consumes around 120,000 tonnes
of cooking oil but only produces 30 to 50% of the total supply.
More than half of Zambia’s edible oil consumption is imported from
the Far East, East Africa and South Africa.

“We are very excited about the opportunities and possibilities the
venture presents for both the company and the country,” said Zambeef
Board Chairman Dr Jacob Mwanza.

He said that for the first time the country will have quality palm
oil being produced, refined and sold locally. “This is a huge step
towards industrialisation and raising the country’s agro-processing
portfolio,
he said.”

It is added that once fully operational, the plantation will
contribute to substituting 70,000 tonnes of cooking oil imported into
Zambia, saving the country around $70 million (K511 million) in
foreign exchange outflows every year.

Zampalm will also, at a later stage, look at branching out into the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) market, targeting
countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola,
which are also massive importers of the crude palm oil.

“We are very happy to be working with Zambeef to bring Zambian palm
oil to the market. Their quality of oil is outstanding and the
initiative will allow us to move away from crude palm oil imports and
thus be able to be more competitive in terms of our finished
products,” said Malolan Sampath, CEO of Global Industries Ltd
Palm oil is the world’s most used and versatile vegetable oil.

In
addition to cooking oil, its derivatives are found in foods such as
margarines and ice cream and is also used as a thickener, preservative
and antioxidant; in personal care products such as shampoo, and
cosmetics, industrial products such as lubricants paints and inks, and
as a renewable fuel.

The palm plant is the most efficient oil producing plant and can be
harvested for 25 years and as long as the tree continues to yield a
harvest.
The Zampalm project was launched in 2009 and currently has some
409,506 palms planted over an area of 2,873 hectares in the main
plantation, with another 39,000 seedlings in the main and pre-nursery.

In 2015 Zampalm commissioned its first US$1 million crushing mill
plant with a crushing capacity of two to three tonnes of fresh palm
fruit per hour, producing a yield of around 18 per cent of crude palm
oil. At current prices and at an average production of 3 to 3.5 tonnes
per hectare Zampalm could generate more than $170 million in revenue
over the next decade.

Zampalm plans to further work with small-scale farmers in the area to
set up an outgrower scheme to feed palm fruit into the Zampalm mill.
This will allow local farmers in the area to participate and
contribute towards edible oil production in the country.

“We expect to see an increase in demand for palm oil in Zambia as the
country further develops and new industries and markets are created,”
said Dr Mwanza.

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Former winners Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Zambia lose at home
June 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Oluwashina Okeleji*

Tokelo Rantie put South Africa 1-0 up against Nigeria in Uyo

Tokelo Rantie put South Africa 1-0 up against Nigeria in Uyo

Former African champions Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Zambia all suffered home defeats on Saturday in their first group qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Nigeria, who failed to qualify for the last two editions of the tournament, fell to their first competitive defeat to South Africa, losing 2-0 in Uyo in the Group E match.

Second-half goals from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau sealed a deserved win for Bafana Bafana against three-time African champions Nigeria.

Rantie opened the scoring with a brilliant close-range header in the 54th minute.

Tau broke free in a swift counter-attack, putting the ball around goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi before slotting home in the 81st minute.

Nigeria fluffed chances in the first half as Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Simon Moses failed to score.

It was second time lucky for coach Stuart Baxter who was in charge when Bafana beat Nigeria 2-1 in the 2004 Nelson Mandela challenge at home.

Friday: Grp L: Cape Verde v Uganda (postponed to Sunday)
Grp A: Sudan 1-3 Madagascar Grp G: DR Congo 3-1 Congo
Grp E: Libya 5-1 Seychelles Grp I: Burkina Faso v Angola (1800)
Saturday: Grp C: Mali v Gabon (1900)
Grp B: Malawi 1-0 Comoros Grp A: Senegal v Equatorial Guinea (2000)
Grp C: Burundi 3-0 South Sudan Grp H: Ivory Coast 2-3 Guinea
Grp K: Zambia 0-1 Mozambique Sunday:
Grp I: Botswana 0-1 Mauritania Grp G: Zimbabwe v Liberia (1300)
Grp B: Cameroon 1-0 Morocco Grp H: CAR v Rwanda (1400)
Grp J: Niger 0-0 Swaziland Grp D: Benin v The Gambia (1500)
Grp K: Guinea-Bissau 1-0 Namibia Grp F: Ghana v Ethiopia (1530)
Grp E: Nigeria 0-2 South Africa Grp D: Algeria v Togo (2100)
Grp F: Sierra Leone 2-1 Kenya Grp J: Tunisia v Egypt (2200)
Grp L: Tanzania 1-1 Lesotho

The twelve group winners plus the best three group runners-up will qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations along with the hosts Cameroon.

Seydou Doumbia’s brace was not enough for Ivory Coast as the Elephants were beaten 3-2 at home by Guinea in Group H.

Doumbia gave the home side a 15th minute lead, before Guinea equalised in the 32nd minute.

Naby Keita’s shot was spilled by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo and Abdoulaye Sadio Diallo pounced on the rebound to put the visitors level.

Doumbia grabbed his second goal in the 62nd minute, but four minutes later France-based Francois Kamano made it 2-2.

However, the impressive Naby Keita sealed the stunning win for Guinea in the 79th minute to complete a bad start for new Ivory Coast manager Marc Wilmots.

The defeat for Ivory Coast in Bouake came just five days after the death of former Ivorian international Cheick Tiote.

In Ndola, former winners Zambia were left stunned by a late goal as they lost 1-0 to Mozambique at home in Group K.

Mozambique left it until the 89th minute to earn their first ever win over Chipolopolo with Germany-based Stanley Ratifo scoring the goal.

2012 African champions Zambia dominated the encounter for long spells but failed to turn their superiority into goals.

The Mambas made them pay for their profligacy when Ratifo finished brilliantly from a cut-back to stun the home side.

Elias Pelembe should have doubled the lead in added time but goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene rushed out of his box to stop the Bidvest Wits winger.

Coach Abel Xavier and the Mambas held on to celebrate a first triumph over Zambia in 18 attempts.

In the other Group K game, Guinea-Bissau beat visitors Namibia 1-0 thanks to a powerful header from Jerson in the 24th minute.

Veteran striker Aristide Bance scored twice as Burkina Faso beat Angola 3-1 in Group I.

 

Aristide Bance
Aristide Bance struck twice for Burkina Faso in their win over Angola.

Bance’s opening goal in the 22nd minute was quickly cancelled out by Gelson Dala a minute later.

Bance then restored the lead from the penalty spot just before half-time with Chelsea winger Betrand Traore scoring the third in the 79th minute.

Also in Group I, Mohamed Abdellahi Soudani’s second-half strike sealed a famous 1-0 win for Mauritania away to Botswana.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Gerald Phiri Junior scored the only goal as Malawi began their Group B campaign with a 1-0 home win over Comoros in Blantyre.

The South Africa-based winger hit a free-kick from outside the 18 yard box which flew over the wall and into the right corner on 31 minutes .

The flames had several chances but failed to punish a resolute Comoros.

It is a first competitive win for Malawi’s coach Ronny Van Geneugden who took over in April.

Malawi have taken an early advantage in the group after hosts Cameroon beat Herve Renard’s Morocco 1-0 in Yaounde.

Vincent Aboubakar
Vincent Aboubakar scored Cameroon’s only goal in their 1-0 win over Morocco

A 29th minute goal from Vincent Aboubakar gave the Indomitable Lions the victory which puts Morocco bottom of Group B after the opening round of matches.

Cameroon qualify automatically as hosts for the 2019 Nations Cup, but their group matches still count as qualifiers for their opponents.

After the victory, Cameroon’s coach Hugo Broos confirmed that defender Oyongo Bitolo would definitely miss the Fifa Confederations Cup later this month.

The player was stretchered off the pitch after suffering a knee ligament injury which Broos said would keep him out of the game for seven months.

Burundi began their 2019 Nations Cup campaign in triumphant fashion by beating South Sudan 3-0 in Group C on Saturday.

The Swallows secured all three points with first half goals.

Cedric Amissi set the tone with the opening goal in the 15th minute.

Gael Duhayinnavyi added the second ten minutes later before Fiston Abdul Razak made it three in the 30th minute.

Mali face Gabon later on Saturday in the other Group C match.

In Freetown, goals from Julius Woobay and and Umaru Bangura penalty helped Sierra Leone make a winning start to their Group F campaign as they beat Kenya 2-1.

Kenya had Brian Mandela sent off but they did get a consolation goal through Michael Olunga. Ghana take on Ethiopia in that group on Sunday.

Spain-based Cedric Bakambu grabbed a brace as DR Congo beat neighbours Congo Brazzaville 3-1 in Group G.

Bakambu scored opened the scoring in the 20th minute.

Thievy Bifouma equalised for the visitors on the stroke of half-time.

Bakambu grabbed his second after 56th minute before Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba ensured victory in the 90th minute.

The Group L match between Cape Verde and Uganda – scheduled for Saturday – had to be postponed to Sunday after some members of Uganda’s squad were delayed in Dakar en route to Praia.

In the other Group L game Tanzania drew 1-1 with Lesotho in Dar es Salaam.

Mbwana Samata put Tanzania ahead with Thapelo Tale hitting the equaliser for the visitors.

On Friday, Libya and Madagascar opened the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with impressive victories.

Libya beat Seychelles 5-1 in Group A and in the first qualifier for Cameroon 2019, Madagascar were 3-1 winners away to Sudan in Al-Obeid in Group E.

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Montreal: the latest hotspot for Africa’s rulers to keep their wealth?
June 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
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One man, four wives: The new hit reality TV show
June 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Megha Mohan*

Musa Mseleku and his four wives

Musa Mseleku and his four wives

A new hit reality TV show has restarted a debate over the traditional practice of polygamy in South Africa.

Musa Mseleku says he wants to change people’s perceptions of polygamy. And he’s getting some help – from his four wives.

The 43-year-old property developer, along with his wives and their 10 children, are the stars of a new reality show called Uthando Nes’thembu, which translates as “Love and Polygamy”.

The series, which premiered 19 May, is consistently a top trending topic on Twitter in South Africa, with thousands of tweets debating the place of this traditional set-up in modern society.

The show is filmed at the Mselekus’ rural homestead near Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast. The four wives each have their own house but share the land.

“One of the biggest misconceptions [about] polygamous lifestyles is that it is a culture which seeks to oppress women,” Mr Mseleku tells BBC Trending radio. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to do the show, to allow people to see that it’s not like that in our case. I want to show men that you can be in a polygamous relationship and also be a considerate husband.”

However, not everyone agrees. While several people expressed their appreciation for the show, some feel that the lifestyle is indeed restrictive.

Some tweeters, mostly female, picked up on an episode where Mseleku insisted on a 17:00 curfew for his wives. They also have to ask his permission if they want to hang out with their friends or drink alcohol.

“I believe that in each and every house, especially us as South Africans, we believe your husband is like your god,” Thobile Mseleku, Musa’s fourth wife, tells BBC Trending, “So you can’t just do what you wish, unless he gives you his blessing.”

The four Mrs Mselekus. Thobile (far left) says the women rarely have conflict and are "like sisters"

The four Mrs Mselekus. Thobile (far left) says the women rarely have conflict and are “like sisters”

Musa Mseleku adds that he also has restrictions imposed on him. He has to be home an hour earlier than his wives, he says, “so I can prepare for them all!”

Thobile and Musa have been married for nine years. When she met him, he already had two other wives, so she says that she knew what she was getting into. Her grandparents had also been part of a polygamous family.

She says that the four wives – the others are Busisiwe MaCele, Nokukhanya MaYeni and Mbali MaNgwabe – are like sisters and rely on each other for advice and help.

But the show, which explores how the four Mrs Mselekus balance their daily routine, careers (which include business and government jobs), household commitments and parenting duties, also shows the tensions within the family.

“Our biggest source of conflict is time,” Thobile Mseleku says. “It can be frustrating if we’re all going to go out together and one is ready and you have to wait for one of the other wives.”

Time, adds Musa, is something he thinks about a lot.

 

 

 

“I try to make sure that I divide my time equally between the women and my children.”

In South Africa, polygamy – while not adopted by the majority of people – is not illegal, nor specific to a particular religion. It is most common among the Zulu ethnic group, and South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, himself a Zulu, has three wives.

Ndela Ntshangase, a lecturer in the school of Zulu studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, says that the polygamous unions in South Africa began to wane in the 19th century when white missionaries preached that conversion to Christianity entailed divorcing one’s “extra” wives.

“British colonisers pushed [monogamy] down the throats of black people through taxes that rose for each wife, and land allocations with insufficient space for polygamous family units,” Ntshangase says.

But can it work both ways? Would Musa Mseleku be OK with one of his wives taking another husband?

“No way,” he laughs, “I would die!”

Thobile says her husband’s attitude doesn’t bother her.

“We chose this life. We chose him and him alone.”

So is there room for a fifth wife?

“We are exploring that on the show,” Musa says, “so keep tuned in.”

 

 

 

*BBC

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Namibia: Poverty Still a Challenge – Geingob
June 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

President Hage Geingob

President Hage Geingob

President Hage Geingob said despite progress having been made, poverty levels remained a major national challenge.

Geingob said this yesterday at the official launch of the fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) at State House, adding that development was defined by the economic, political and social well-being of citizens.

“The problem of poverty continues to be a challenge. We have sought to provide relief in crises, but we need to find a durable solution that helps everyone achieve the kind of lives they have reason to value,” he said, adding that poverty eradication remained the focus of his administration.

He said Namibia was considered an upper middle income country by multilateral financial institutions, despite the fact that “the top 1% have the same amount of income as the bottom 50%”.

Geingob said NDP5 would bring the country closer to realising its Vision 2030 objectives, and emphasised that the Harambee Prosperity Plan would fast-track some interventions, and not replace Vision 2030.

The President further noted that although budgetary allocations were already deliberately skewed in favour of social sectors such as health, education and housing, NDP5 would maintain the focus on increasing investments in education, health, housing and the integration of disadvantaged persons into the mainstream economy.

According to him, Namibia’s population is expected to have increased to 3,5 million by 2030, and being overwhelmingly youthful.

“Young men and women of tomorrow could propel Namibian society towards Vision 2030,” he said.

The President added that the country needed to prepare for this demographic change in order to give “an early start to toddlers today. Namibia will aggressively invest in early childhood development during NDP5”.

Modernising and scaling up various sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, fisheries, mining and tourism, should also create more jobs to absorb new entrants.

Geingob said the issues at hospitals, schools, in housing and human resources, all needed to be addressed as they posed challenges to development.

“Informal settlements in towns and cities pose challenges to the administration of these cities and towns,” he added.

A presentation by Sylvestor Mbangu, government’s chief national development adviser, showed that NDP5 has four pillars, namely economic progression, social transformation, environmental sustainability and good governance.

He said NDP5’s goals included achieving inclusive, sustainable and equitable growth, building capable healthy human resources, ensuring a sustainable environment, and promoting good governance through effective institutions, all while fostering a competitive economy.

 Mbangu said the economic progression pillar aims to ensure higher income growth and improved income distribution for Namibia’s citizens and reduce unemployment, while the social transformation pillar will look at improving housing provision.
Under the environmental sustainability pillar, mitigating climate change and improving environmental protection are broad strategies, while under the good governance pillar, expected results are improved service delivery and an improved global peace index score.

Economic planning minister Tom Alweendo said Namibia was in a better state than it was before, but that achievements did not mean that there were no challenges remaining to be addressed.

*The Namibian/Allafrica

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Kenya Just Opened a $4 Billion Chinese-Built Railway, its Largest Infrastructure Project in 50 Years
June 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Conor Gaffey*

Kenya has just opened its largest infrastructure project in over 50 years—with a little help from some Chinese friends.

The new railway replaces a colonial-era line that was dubbed the "Lunatic Express" [Tony Karumba/AFP]

The new railway replaces a colonial-era line that was dubbed the “Lunatic Express” [Tony Karumba/AFP]

Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kenyan president, announced Wednesday the completion of the first stage of a major railway connecting the capital Nairobi and the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa.

The line marks Kenya’s largest infrastructure project since independence from British colonialists in 1964. It is also part of a wider project that shows the depth of Chinese investment and influence in Africa, at a time when the United States appears to be losing its sway on the continent.

A cargo train is launched to operate on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and financed by the Chinese government in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa on May 30. The railway was completed 18 months ahead of schedule. Stringer/Reuters

Here’s five facts about the new railway.

1. It’s funded and built by China

The $3.8 billion, 298-mile stretch of railway is the work of the China Road and Bridge Corporation, a state-owned enterprise that build on Beijing’s behalf in Africa. The Chinese began building the line in December 2014 and completed the first section, the Nairobi-Mombasa line, 18 months early.

The line is further evidence of China’s deep reach within Africa and follows closely after a $4.2 billion, 470-mile railway linking the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa with Djibouti, a port country on the Red Sea, was opened in January. In Kenya alone, imports from China grew to $5 billion in 2016—a threefold increase since 2010—compared to $780 million from the United States, the Financial Times reported.

2. It’s part of a planned seven-country rail network

The Nairobi-Mombasa line is just the first instalment in the Chinese-funded project to improve rail links in East Africa. The line is planned to extend westward from Kenya and into Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, and northward into South Sudan and Ethiopia.

3. It will cut journey time in half and is cheaper than a bus

Before the new railway opened, the quickest way to get from Mombasa to Nairobi without the expense of flying was a grueling nine-hour bus journey; the old railway takes 12 hours to complete the journey. The new standard-gauge railway is predicted to cut that journey time down to four-and-a-half hours. President Kenyatta also ordered the state-owned railway company to charge no more than 700 Kenyan shillings ($6.77) for an economy-class ticket. That makes the journey cheaper than a bus ride, which costs at least 1,200 shillings ($11.61).

4. It’s named after Kenya’s independence day

For decades, Kenyans wanting to travel by rail from Mombasa to Nairobi were forced to use the so-called Lunatic Express: the British-built railway line, constructed in the 19th century and so named because the building process claimed many lives and much investment. But Kenyatta announced that the new railway would be named the Madaraka Express. Madaraka, a Swahili word meaning responsibility or power, is also the name of Kenya’s independence day, celebrated on June 1 each year.

5. Railway vandals may be executed

Coming just months before an August general election, the railway is evidently a source of pride and political capital for President Kenyatta. And the Kenyan head of state is so determined to keep it that way, he has threatened to introduce a new law sanctioning people who vandalize the railway with the death penalty. “I want to firmly state today that those who will be prosecuted and found guilty of vandalizing a property belonging to all Kenyans; a property belong[ing] to our children, forgive me God, I will sign their death sentence for them to be hanged,” said Kenyatta at the launch, Kenya’s Citizen TV reported.

*Newsweek

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Zimbabwe to host 2017 Pan African shelter Afrique symposium
May 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire*

Zimbabwe is set to host the 36th Shelter Afrique Annual General Meeting
(AGM) and symposium on 4 to 8 July 2017 in the resort town of Victoria
Falls, according to Engineer George Mlilo, Secretary for the Local
Government, Public Works and National Housing ministry.

According to Mlilo, Shelter Afrique is a Pan African housing finance
institution collectively owned by 44 African states including Zimbabwe and
other non-state entities like the African Development Bank (ADB) and the
African Renaissance Corporation, just to mention a few.

The organisation offers housing finance and proffers technical assistance
to housing financiers and land developers amongst its member states
shareholders.

It is reported that at the 35th AGM of Shelter Afrique held last year in
Abuja, Nigeria, Zimbabwe was appointed the 1st Vice Chair for the Pan
African Financing Grouping and by extension, official host for the 36th AGM.

“There will be housing related exhibitions running concurrently with the
AGM and symposium. Over 300 delegates from within and outside Zimbabwe are
expected to grace the event,” Engineer Mlilo said.

Attendance is expected from stakeholders in the housing and construction
industry who will include local authorities, housing finance institutions,
land developers, construction professional bodies, suppliers of building
materials, contractors and consultancy organizations in the construction
sector including academic institutions and researchers.

The symposium will offer opportunity for pre-arranged meetings with
Shelter Afrique officials, opportunities to clinch deals with Shelter
Afrique and other African states and development partners, opportunities to
unlock value in low cost housing delivery through joint venture schemes,
knowledge sharing with other African countries on effective low cost
housing deliver and networking opportunities with fellow housing
practitioners from the continent.

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Germany’s ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’
May 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Green*

Photo by: Irina Patrascu / CC BY

Photo by: Irina Patrascu / CC BY

BERLIN, Germany — A proposal from Germany’s development ministry stands to rewrite the country’s — and possibly the G-20’s — aid relationship with Africa. The so-called Marshall Plan with Africa would prioritize encouraging private investment on the continent, possibly while reducing or shifting official development assistance.

The plan is part of a broader German focus on Africa in 2017, in an effort to play a stronger role leading donor policy within Europe and the G-20.

Analysts and advocates working in Africa say the plan puts into writing some of the trends already underway in aid, including a shift toward the private sector. They warn, however, that moving away from ODA entirely could leave gaps in need. Others, meanwhile, are looking to the German government to use the plan to engage a wider range of actors, including other donors and multilateral banks, to introduce a range of initiatives that could truly have a long-term impact.

For now, though, the debate is largely hypothetical. The plan is still only a proposal, and Germany’s position on Africa is set to evolve rapidly in the coming weeks. The finance ministry is currently constructing a separate “Compact with Africa,” and the country is set to host the G-20 summit in July, where relations with Africa will feature heavily on the agenda. German elections in September could also impact the development agenda, particularly if Chancellor Angela Merkel loses her bid for a fourth term.

Amid the uncertainty, experts are cautious not to either under or overstate the Marshall’s Plan potential impact. German aid and implementing partners are equally unsure how to react. The ministry declined to answer specific questions about whether development partners should read the document as a broader shift in priorities, or consider realigning their programs to match the interventions highlighted in the document.

But one indicator of the proposal’s impact could come in June, as Berlin hosts a G-20 African Partnership Conference, ahead of the broader G-20 meeting in July. The agenda for that meeting, which is focused on improving the investment climate in African countries, dovetails with the emphasis in the plan and could indicate how much influence it will ultimately have on German aid.

What does this Marshall Plan entail?

The Marshall Plan with Africa, released earlier this year, is effectively a blueprint for tackling a range of challenges on the continent — chief among them the problems that could result from Africa’s likely population explosion by 2050.

The proposal aims to be an “integrated overall approach” to address issues ranging from food security, good governance to social concerns, Gerd Müller, the federal minister for economic cooperation and development, explained during a business summit in Nairobi in February.

The plan positions Germany to help African governments with more than 100 different reform ideas that fall under three broad pillars: Economic activity, trade and employment; peace and security; and democracy and the rule of law. Each pillar includes recommendations for African country governments, the German government and the larger international community. Some are quite specific, for example a call on African countries to support a continental human rights court. Others offer more vague guidance, as in the call for international partners to “promote local value chains.”

Throughout, the plan emphasizes improving the investment climate. Among the proposed initiatives are plans to help create incentive packages for businesses. It also floats the idea of using ODA funds to secure private investments.

“It’s not the governments that will create all the long-term employment opportunities that are needed, it’s the private sector,” the plan reads. “So it’s not subsidies that Africa needs so much as more private investment.”

The plan also looks to directly seed the ground for investors. It would support programs that promote peace, security and anti-corruption efforts, in order to better protect investment. It would also look to boost job and vocational training initiatives to prepare young people for the workforce. Traditional development initiatives, including improving health, education systems and infrastructure, would also likely continue.

“We need more ODA funds to meet the current challenges,” the plan says, without specifying an ideal amount. In 2015, the German government spent about 16 billion euros ($17.8 billion) on ODA — the third highest amount in the world behind the United States and the United Kingdom.

Still, “it’s definitely a pro-private investment shift and a bit away from ODA,” said Manfred Öhm, the head of the Africa department at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The German political foundation, which draws some financial support from the government, runs a range of development programs in Africa.

Implications for the G-20 relationship with Africa

If expanded, some advocates say the plan could have a significant impact, in part because Germany looks to be positioning itself as a policy-leading donor on the continent. The draft was released in a year when Germany is hosting the G-20, and has made re-evaluating its relationship with Africa a priority. Already, German officials appear to be reframing the plan, which is the vision of one ministry, as part of the larger discussion of the G-20’s relationship with Africa.

Speaking to the African Union last October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to “make the issues that concern you in Africa one of the priorities of the G-20 agenda, and also launch a large-scale initiative with Africa to this end.” The first step, the G-20 African Partnership Conference, will be designed to encourage private investment, sustainable infrastructure and employment in Africa.

The plan could form a significant part of the broader global discussion about the international community’s relationship with Africa, according to Jamie Drummond, the co-founder and executive director of ONE, a grassroots organization fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa.

“This G-20 could and must herald a more coordinated push with Africa than we’ve seen since 2005 and Gleneagles,” Drummond said, referring to the U.K.-hosted G-8 summit that agreed to double aid to Africa, and eliminate the debts of some of the world’s poorest countries.

Drummond is looking for something equally bold to emerge — or at least begin — in Hamburg, where Germany is hosting its G-20. He would like to see momentum towards improving the quality and quantity of funding for education, increasing funds for women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship and an emphasis on good governance, alongside any focus on improving the climate for private investment.

“The private sector approach is incredibly important,” he said. “But if it was the only thing that was being proposed, that would not be enough.”

With Africa’s population set to more than double by 2050, from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion, according to the Population Reference Bureau, “African development is now clearly central to European and G-20 security into the twenty-first century,” he said. “That’s what this G-20 acknowledges and now we must urgently act on that.”

Domestic support for the plan

The Marshall Plan proposal will need to pull in new elements and some more collaborators — including from within the German government — if it is to be relevant, some analysts warn.

Given what it hopes to achieve, the proposal doesn’t yet include enough partners, said Stefan Brüne, an associate fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations. The federal ministry for economic cooperation and development may not be the best body to strengthen democracy, for example, he said.

“They are not in a position to really address these problems,” he said, compared to their counterparts in the ministry of foreign affairs, for instance, who can exert more political pressure.

Domestic politics could also impact the roll out. Though Müller comes from the ruling party coalition, it is still not clear how popular his plan is within his own government. Experts are looking for input from the ministry of defense, and greater cooperation with the ministry of finance, as it puts together its own compact with Africa. They are also watching to see if Merkel will more publicly embrace the plan or introduce her own strategy that might borrow elements from it.

If it is to truly jumpstart a broader conversation, it would also need to draw in officials from other G-20 nations, the World Bank and other international institutions — something its architects are clearly already aware of and which its advocates are prepared to push for.

Öhm said one of the ministry’s priorities should be providing more clarity, including about the future of ODA, programs the government plans to support and which governments the ministry is specifically hoping to assist. Some African countries are interested in reforms to improve the investment climate, and some are interested in transparency and democratic promotion, but the two groups are not necessarily the same.

At best, he and some other analysts see the plan as a potential starting point for conversations about the balance between ODA and private investment, for instance.

Truly rethinking Germany’s — or the G-20’s — relationship with Africa in the terms that the plan lays out would require a significant generational commitment, experts said. The question is whether the Marshall Plan actually represents that.

*DEVEX

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Where’s Africa in China’s mega Belt and Road project?
May 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

China has welcomed African countries that have expressed interest in its massive trade plan, but this won’t be enough.

BY  YU-SHAN WU, CHRIS ALDEN & ELIZABETH SIDIROPOULOS*

China’s proposed one belt, one road route map. Credit: Shutterstock

China’s proposed one belt, one road route map. Credit: Shutterstock

Chinese President Xi Jinping made it clear at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos this January that the world should abandon protectionism and commit itself to an open global economy.

A recent summit in Beijing that focused on China’s most ambitious foreign policy to date – the Belt and Road initiative – added texture to this call.

The grand vision was launched in 2013 originally as the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. It involves China underwriting billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in countries along the old Silk Road, linking it with a network of countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.

At the centre of the plan are two physical routes: the Silk Road Economic Belt, stretching from Asia to Europe; and the Maritime Silk Road that begins in China and passes along the Indian Ocean littoral to East Africa and then Europe.

Because of its high ambitions, the initiative has been criticised for being unachievable. Critics are also questioning the impact it may have on countries that are not officially linked to the routes.

For some countries, including BRICS stalwarts like India, the project challenges the current global order, replacing it with a Sino-centric one. Others believe the initiative presents an alternative approach to globalisation in an era where powers like the US seem intent on increasing protectionism and retreating from their global leadership role.

China has maintained that it is committed to taking an inclusive approach to trade and diplomacy. In a 2015 white paper it reiterated that the development of the initiative was open and welcomed the active participation of all countries and international organisations.

Thanks to the initiative’s massive financial ambitions, it’s likely to have a ripple effect on a number of regions. For example, the impact could be felt across Africa, although its significance in relation to other regions remains unclear. It could help the continent plug its infrastructure deficit, a necessary step for economic growth on the continent and in particular industrialisation.

Meeting of minds

This isn’t the first attempt to revive the ancient trade routes. There have been attempts by the European Union, US, Russia and even India to reconstruct the ancient Silk Road that linked Asia and Europe in particular.

What makes China’s attempt different is the commitment of President Xi, as well as the numerous agreements – such as the 130 transport pacts – it has already signed with partner countries along the route.

China made clear from the beginning that the initiative wouldn’t get off the ground without widespread participation. As such, the summit was positioned as an opportunity to build consensus.

The overall plan aims to provide a commitment of some $1 trillion in future funding. And China used the summit as an opportunity to increase the Silk Fund from $40 billion to $100 billion.

China is using the Belt and Road initiative as an opportunity to position itself diplomatically on the global stage. This was clear from the summit which provided a platform for the country to amplify its voice on the world stage.

Over 50 countries took part. This included the presidents of Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Vietnam and Uzbekistan. Representatives of the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and World Bank also attended.

As scholar Gregory Chin explains in China’s Bold Economic Statecraft, global relations are under constant negotiation. They are increasingly characterised by shifting alignments rather than fixed alliances.

China understands the opportunities presented by this state of flux.

Where does Africa feature?

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the summit, along with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry and Tunisia’s Minister of Culture.

Kenya’s presence was particularly significant because East Africa has been the main focus of the initiative on the continent.

While this may be of concern to other African countries, China is also supportive of Africa’s homegrown development plan as set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063. There are clear synergies with the Belt and Road initiative that support greater connectivity.

As African countries have expressed interest, China has responded, at least rhetorically, in favour of their inclusion.

Yet this won’t be enough. Support from African countries is key. And success depends on them providing adequate security to protect the investment environment.

More broadly, African governments will need to promote an enabling environment for projects to succeed, particularly if, as envisaged, the private sector plays a key role in Belt and Road projects.

*African Arguments.This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.The Conversation

 

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