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‘‘Invest in the people,’ says Seychelles president James Alix Michel
October 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

The Seychelles, with its many Indian Oceanislands and beaches, is renowned as a high-end destination for tourists. Besides profiting from its beautiful landscape, it is also known as business-friendly, politically stable and a strong voice in international discussions on climate change. President James Alix Michel, who was previously a teacher, trade unionist, journalist and army colonel, has been elected twice to the country’s highest office, in 2006 and 2011. In this exclusive interview, Africa Renewal’s Wanjohi Kabukuru spoke to President Michel on theSeychelles’ successes and challenges.

Many people saw you as not being your own man in your initial days as president. How did you change those perceptions?

[Former] President [France-Albert] René and I came from the same party. Maybe it was normal for people to be impatient as they expected that radical changes would come rapidly. There were other people who, because of their own political agenda, were propagating these perceptions. The majority of Seychellois saw from the day of my swearing-in that I was pushing for a modern economy and I was for dialogue with representatives of all sections of our population. I was ushering in greater transparency, involving more people in national affairs. It was necessary at the same time to have some continuity, and maintain stability.

You took a gamble when you liberalized the economy in 2008. At the time,Seychelles’ inflation had reached 60 per cent and the International Monetary Fund was giving grim projections on your economy. What did you do to turn the economy around?

Liberalizing the economy and floating the rupee was really a huge political gamble. Our country needed a strong leadership and we had to take bold decisions. We needed to deal a fatal blow to the parallel foreign exchange market. It disappeared in a couple of days after the floatation of the rupee. When owners of foreign exchange found they could get more from the banks, the black market was wiped out.

It was a time of great sacrifice for the Seychellois people. Liberalization also brought some disruption to local production. We are now looking at innovative ways to boost the performance of local production. We now have the basis of a modern economy. Growth last year was 5 per cent. The main success of the reforms was the support of the Seychellois people.

You have been an ardent advocate for international intervention on piracy. How has piracy affectedSeychelles’ economy?

Pirates’ activity is costingSeychellesmillions of dollars in lost revenues from fishing and tourism, in extra transport costs and patrolling of the sea. It is estimated that the costs are equivalent to a 4 per cent loss in GDP. The costs of imports have also increased due to higher insurance for cargo bound forSeychelles. Piracy caused a [total] loss of almost US$17 million in 2011. The losses and extra expenditures are significant for a small nation of 85,000 people.

What measures has your government taken to ward off piracy?

The Seychellois Coast Guard has stepped up its activities to secure national waters. Our naval force has had several notable successes in freeing civilian vessels, including Seychellois fishermen captured by Somali pirates. We are cooperating fully with foreign navies that patrol the waters of the westernIndian Ocean. We have modernized our laws against international piracy to make it easier forSeychellescourts to put on trial pirates captured. Presently over 90 Somali pirates are either serving jail time or awaiting prosecution inSeychelles. Very recently we’ve had to start recruiting military personnel, among them Gurkhas fromNepal, to provide security aboard vessels operating in our waters.

Because we are the country most threatened by piracy in theIndian Ocean, we find ourselves at the forefront in the fight against the scourge. We are also using diplomacy to fight piracy. We use every forum we attend to appeal for concerted international efforts to bring peace toSomalia. Without peace and a strong central government,Somaliawill remain lawless, a breeding ground for pirates.

You have been calling on global leaders to take action on climate change. What are your thoughts on the International Conference on Sustainable Development inRio?

Our focus should not just be on words but on action. It is 20 years since the firstRiosummit. During that time we made a lot of statements. We have spoken about sustainable agriculture, sustainable tourism, sustainable financing and so on. But 20 years later we find that we have many unfulfilled pledges and non-binding agreements to accompany them. The people need to put pressure on their governments to do something about climate change.

Among the leaders of the small island developing states, you stand out as having been very vocal on climate change. Any explanation?

It is a question of survival for us. The relative lack of action of the last 20 years signifies that the cries of those that are the most vulnerable have not been heard. We need a legally binding agreement to limit carbon emissions. The time has come for everybody to develop the political will, a strong political will, for us as humanity to get together and see how we can seriously tackle this problem and save our only home, our planet. We need to do this soon as we are running out of time.

In 2007 you launched the Sea-Level Rise Foundation to draw global attention to the impact of climate change on small island states and other low-lying areas. What prompted this?

The effects of climate change are being felt already in small island states. When you live on an island, climate change is a reality that you wake up to face every day. The fisherman sees it every day as he takes to the sea. Every child sees it when returning to his favourite beach to play. But it is perhaps much harder to see from the aisle of a supermarket in the Western hemisphere.

As low-lying small island developing states, we are not only vulnerable to sea level rise but also aware of the importance of sustainable coastal tourism, responsible management of marine resources and the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity. I am very proud ofSeychelles, as our islands are at the forefront of the fight against climate change, as well as advocates for the development of a sustainable “blue economy.”

Why is your country always ranked high on economic management and good governance?

Just after independence 35 years ago, we started investing in the welfare of our nation. All our money, and assistance we received from partners overseas, was well spent on education, health, decent housing and infrastructure. We were determined to moveSeychellesfrom an economic backwater to a middle-income country. We are a nation of opportunities. We spend on education and learning, giving young people and professionals the chance to develop themselves and increase their knowledge.

With a more educated population, there are greater demands for transparency. There is greater debate and exchange of ideas, and with these there is an increased sense of scrutiny. In a vibrant democracy where government actions are scrutinized by half a dozen political parties and movements, three daily newspapers, three weeklies and other stakeholders, we have to deliver and always look for ways to do better. People have to know where their money is being spent, and see the tangible results of the investments. We are happy we have established the tradition of good economic management and good governance.

What advice would you give to emerging leaders inAfrica?

Invest in the people and have belief in them, especially the young generation. No nation is built in a day. The culture of popular participation, openness and good governance helps a great deal.Africais a huge continent waiting for new things to happen. This is the excitement!

*Source Africa Renewal online


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Will corruption kill off Kenya’s Vision 2030 plans?
October 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

By James Shikwati*


Konza City is an example of the modern country Kenya hopes to project - but will the old forces of corruption sabotage the great leap forward?

Economist James Shikwati asks whetherKenya’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan can bring the country out of a cycle of corruption and economic stagnation.

Since independence in 1963,Kenya’s great development plans have been held back by the plunder of government resources.

The attitude that what belongs to the public can be taken with impunity has been seen as one of the most serious impediments to development in the country – and by extension, the rest ofAfrica.

Lawrence Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education, described it as: “What belongs to you, you tend to take care of; what belongs to no-one or everyone tends to fall into disrepair.”

A new constitutional order, however, has been created to reduce the arbitrary and discretionary powers used by politicians and civil servants to steal public money.

Kenyans voted for the new constitutional order in August 2010 with the hope of liberating the country from a curious type of “state capture;” the system which has allowedKenya’s leaders to commandeer state resources and keep power within ethnic boundaries.

Boosting growth

Dismantling the old structure will not happen overnight, however. Kenyans will have to try and adapt, and the changes to the way the country has been run will take some time to take effect.

Vision 2030 is the name of the economic plan the country’s leaders hope will be the country’s great leap forward but it is not the country’s first development plan.

In 2003, the Kenyan government sought to boost an economy whose growth rate was low – only 1.1%.

It put in place a short term initiative dubbed Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation. In 2005, a government-sponsored constitutional referendum aiming to overhaul areas such as land ownership and the president’s executive power was proposed.

Kenya’s Sessional Paper No 10 in 1965 had directed the government to spend resources only in areas with high potential. The outcome was political exclusion and economic marginalisation of communities in the arid north and rural areas ofKenya, away from big cities such asNairobiandMombasa.

In response, the government set up a National Economic and Social Council in October 2006 to overseeKenya’s long-term planning. From this came “Kenya Vision 2030: A Globally Competitive and Prosperous Kenya”.Kenya’s Vision 2030 was launched by the country’s coalition government on 10 June 2008.

Technology hub

Its intent was to changeKenya’s political framework so that lawmakers were obliged to plan further into the future than the length of their own careers.

Vision 2030’s cost is yet to be finalised. It is based on three pillars – economic, social and political.

The economic aim is for an average GDP growth rate of 10% per year from 2012 and to ensure all ofKenya’s regions see development. The country’s economy has grown at an average of 3.5% since 2008, below the sub-Saharan African average of 5.5%.

The key elements ofKenya’s economy include wholesale and retail, transport and communication, manufacturing, financial services and agriculture and forestry.

The social pillar, meanwhile, is intended to build “a just and cohesive society with social equity“, according to the plan’s director general, Mugo Kibati.

Kenyais preparing for elections, which are set for 4 March next year. The vote is expected to be a barometer measuring Vision 2030’s ability to create a truly democratic political system respecting the rule of law and protecting the rights and freedoms of all Kenyans.

The chair of Kenya’s Vision 2030 Delivery Board, James Mwangi, argues that the initiative is yet to be felt by ordinary Kenyans because more emphasis has been put on infrastructure and institution building.

Revitalising Kenya's railway network will be a crucial part of the plan

Revitalising Kenya’s railway network will be a crucial part of the plan

The Vision 2030 initiative is keen to align with regional economic communities such as the East African Community, Common Market for Eastern andSouthern Africa(Comesa) and Community of Sahel-Saharan States among others.

This has influenced key flagship projects includingLamuPortand the Lamu-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor. When complete, this project is expected to connectKenyatoBanguiin theCentral African RepublicandDoualaacross the continent inCameroon.

Other developments include:

  • Improving     Nairobi’s      commuter rail and turning small railway stations settlements into mini      cities
  • Investing      in green energy (geothermal power)
  • Building      an electricity transformer factory and a solar panel factory
  • Setting      up an international sports academy
  • Building      the tech hub popularly referred to asKonzaCity

The construction of the ambitious port and railway networks at a projected cost of $23bn (£14.2bn) is likely to attract support from growing economies.

China, for example, has agreed to finance the recalibration of the existing Kenya-Uganda Railway to the tune of $2.6bn (£1.6bn). This will mean bigger loads can be carried at much faster speeds – up to 125 km/h compared to less than 25 km/h at the moment.

People in the arid north of the country have for the last 50 years been mostly excluded from political and economic developments.

Building better transport links in the northern corridor might address their exclusion.

This, together with news of oil being discovered in Turkana in the north-west and the possible gas deposits off the Lamu coast gives Vision 2030 much-needed impetus.

The recent discovery of massive underground water reserves in northernKenyagives extra hope to delivering this new vision.

All these natural resources meanKenyanow has extra bargaining power when it looks for overseas investment.

It however remains to be seen if Vision 2030 will change the attitude that has affectedKenya’s development until now.

Changing role

Many Kenyans’ attitude to the public purse can be summed up with the following phrase: “Kwani pesa ni ya mamako?” (“Do public funds belong to your mother?”). The question loosely translates as a motivation to plunder public resources because it does not belong to any one person.

Similar sentiments are behind the desire for political power, which ethnic communities refer to as the “buses” to deliver opportunities for political fraud, euphemistically referred to as “eating”.

The quest to “eat” public resources can lead to an increase in clan and ethnic violence as communities jostle to control the country’s new county governments.

Kenya’s Vision 2030 has to address new challenges because the recent discovery of natural resources were not part of the original plan. It also has to focus on the changing role ofAfricain the ever evolving global dispensation.

ForKenya’s Vision 2030 to be effective, it has to take heed of a famous Chinese saying: “Resources are the mother of wealth; hard work is the father of wealth – only the two combined can produce wealth.”

*Source BBC .James Shikwati is the founder of Inter Region Economic Network and publisher of The African Executive.

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Viewpoint: Are Africa’s women on the rise?
October 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Jessie Kabwila*


Does having a female president benefit ordinary women?

Does having a female president benefit ordinary women?

The past 12 months have seen a series of notable successes for African women – with two Nobel Peace prizes, a second president and the first female head of the African Union Commission. For the BBC’s Africa Debate programme, Malawian women’s rights campaigner Jessie Kabwila asks ifAfrica’s women are on the rise.

It is easy to believe that women are on the rise in Africa, especially when one considers that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the president ofLiberiaand Joyce Banda that ofMalawi. From July 2012,South Africa’s Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma took over the leadership of the African Union. Indeed, the list of women occupying spaces of power is growing.

However, a few questions need to be asked before we can say women are on the rise or not.

Firstly, what is the main source of oppression for women ofAfricaand can they rise from it, by becoming president of a country?

What constitutes women being on the rise inAfrica? Who are the women ofAfrica? More specifically, are the women who are “rising” representative of women inAfrica?

Research clearly illustrates that the principle of male supremacy is the engine of the oppression of many African women.

For women to be on the rise, the ideology of seeing men as people who are superior to women has to be brought to an end.

In the context of such gender relations, one wonders if one woman’s joining of the nation state – especially given its sexist character – really makes a difference?

I would argue that unless one changes the male-privileging structure that has produced that woman, both in and outside the state, the one she has have risen through and become master at, her joining of the state is often a cooptation, a process that demands her to become a “man”.

In fact, her very survival in the position depends on her ability to perform this manhood and assure the status quo that she will continue to privilege men and manhood.


Another factor that is crucial to remember is that right now, only two out of 54 African countries are being led by women.

This pathetically imbalanced proportion is being read by some as women being on the rise.

This is laughable, particularly when one remembers that women constitute over half of the population in most countries inAfrica.

Imagine if after the independence struggles only two out of the 54 countries were being led by Africans – I do not think that would be read as Africans being on the rise.

For women to be on the rise, whatever the woman leader does must trickle down to the other women.

This means we have to change and transform the colonial structures imposed on the African social landscape such as the modern state, organized religion, global capitalism, reinvent male privileging institutions that oppress women at personal and communal levels such such as marriage.

When we say African women are on the rise, we need to be sure if we are talking about leadership or structure.

What needs to change is the structure to enable women to emerge from the base, instead of being appointed.

Transformation is needed but this can only occur with the transformation of the whole system.

Political power has a lot to do with the people who surround the leader, it comes from the structure. The women in power are often surrounded by men in a system that is constructed to serve men.

It is also sad that many times, women are appointed into positions stereotyped to be for women.

A good example is Joyce Banda’s choice for minister of gender.

In order to change the patriarchal gender ideologies and show that women are fit to be leaders, it would be good to appoint them into ministries such as defence.

This can help contest the political culture and tradition.

Elite women

The majority of African women are poor, living in the rural areas and illiterate.

The bulk of the women who are “rising” are not from this class.

Ms Zuma, Sirleaf and Banda are card-carrying members of the ruling elite, socially and politically.

One could ask how do we ensure women truly rise inAfrica?

This is where one needs well-researched, effectively implemented and monitored affirmative action programmes.

These need to be home-grown and owned.

BotswanaandRwandaare examples of African countries that are registering significant gains in women’s participation in political power.

Affirmative action is what addresses structural imbalances, not having one woman running government.

Women need to be in leadership positions in various board rooms, political parties and spaces of knowledge production such as the university, just to mention a few.

If we can get 50% of boards and parliaments to be “womaned” by women, then you have opened space bottom up, instead of just having one woman up there, in a structure that is hostile to women.

A female-friendly state

A female president can make a huge difference in her country and this can be in increasing women’s participation in democracy, making sure that the state is accessible to women.

She will make sure that their voices, especially that of the uneducated, the rural illiterate, are taken into consideration and not belittled by being assumed or spoken for.

A woman president can champion issues concerning women.

But the woman leader has to remember that the male supremacy principle is used to control resources and power and when threatened, it mutates and reinvents itself, reminding the woman leader that she will be punished by those peddling and benefiting from this male privileging, if she does not maintain and reproduce it.

So the woman president has to be an organic leader – one who takes gender justice as a principle.

She has to be someone whose political capital resides in having integrity, truth and justice, not populist loyalty.

Because of the globality and interconnectedness of indigenous, colonial and capitalist male privileging ideologies, an African woman president must be prepared not to be voted back into office but focus on standing for what is right.

Such a stand will most likely be costly politically and its fruits take time to be registered.

They are not short term, yet politics is built and thrives on short term results.

Such a leader knows that change is not an event, it is a process and the benefits of a woman-friendly stand will most likely be harvested in the long run and by other people.

This kind of a woman leader is committed to the greater good, the collective vision, not the next election or the ability of her post materially benefiting herself and those surrounding her.

Such a woman president would not use and depend on recycled politicians as they are clear products of a “boys club” that has survived on mastering and playing the political field, an entity that has historically been modeled on corrupt male forms of power

The woman president would handle issues of the economy in an astute, mature, meticulously informed manner because she knows that poverty informs issues that produce and propel women’s oppression such as gender-based violence, maternal death, HIV and Aids, and the impact of adverse climate change.

This woman would demonstrate that she is aware that many African women are in the informal sector and they live in situations rife with power relations skewed against them locally and globally at race, gender and class levels.

The way she handles issues such as devaluations would illustrate that she knows that such things are lethal to the poor, uneducated and those living with HIV and Aids, the majority of whom are women.

One could ask what a non-male dominated state would look like.

Firstly, the state would prioritise female participation in various institutions, bottom up, top down and horizontally, especially in issues that concern women.

Structures that produce political power would be reconfigured to invite and accommodate women in their large numbers, starting by deconstructing ways of running the state that favour male forms of power.

Such a state would adopt a feminist approach to development and fighting poverty, maternal death, HIV/Aids and climate change

In such a state, a woman would not be a second-class citizen and women’s empowerment and personhood would be an issue of priority.

Issues that oppress women would take centre stage in state-sponsored programmes.

Women’s labour would be recognised and rewarded, including what is done at home and in private and informal spaces.

It is good that the number of women in positions of authority in Africa is increasing but for this to constitute a rise in the definition and lives of women in Africa, the structure that produces what is called a person, man, woman and power has to change.

After that, you can begin to ask if the emergence of women like Joyce Banda means a rise for women ofAfrica.

*The author is a Malawian women’s rights campaigner. Source BBC


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Angola launches $5 bln sovereign wealth fund
October 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Shrikesh Laxmidas*

LISBON (Reuters) – Angola on Wednesday launched a $5 billion sovereign wealth fund to invest in domestic and overseas assets by funnelling its vast oil wealth into infrastructure, hotels and other high-growth projects.

Africa’s second-largest crude oil producer is looking to diversify its oil-dependent economy by developing infrastructure outside the energy industry. The country was devastated by a 27-year civil war that ended a decade ago.

Nigeria, the continent’s top oil producer, has already set up a similar $1 billion fund, although its progress has been hampered by political wrangling.

“The Nigerian fund is mainly for liquid, low-yield assets, while the Angolan fund’s mandate is broader, with investment in the real economy domestically,” said Richard Segal, head of emerging markets strategy at Jefferies in London.

The Angolan Sovereign Fund (FSA), which will also invest in financial securities, will be headed by President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos’ economic affairs secretary, the fund’s board said in a statement.

Jose Filomeno dos Santos, one of the president’s sons, will also sit on the three-person board, an appointment likely to raise further questions about government transparency. President Dos Santos has led the country for 33 years and was sworn in for a new five-year term last month.

The fund said its first investments will be in projects to develop agriculture, water, power generation and transport, with an early focus on the hotel industry in sub-Saharan Africa.


Until now the southwest African country was one of the few OPEC member states without a sovereign wealth fund.

Oil revenues represent over 95 percent of Angola’s export income and around 45 percent of gross domestic product. After years of double-digit growth, Angola’s economy suffered a rapid slow down after oil prices tumbled in 2008.

GDP, which the World Bank estimated at $101 billion last year, is set to grow between 8 and 10 percent this year thanks to higher oil prices and output.

Filomeno dos Santos told Reuters in a telephone interview the fund was not a stabilisation tool in the event of an oil price shock, but was aimed at diversifying the economy and creating wealth.

It will grow from further oil revenues transferred by the government and from returns on its investment projects, he added, although he declined to estimate the fund’s growth.

“There may be a lot of good intentions, but in a country where there is no transparency, corruption is high and key places go those close to the leader, we see little chance of this plan working to help Angolans,” Alcides Sakala, spokesman for main opposition party UNITA told Reuters.

The FSA board said it will be assisted by a council composed of senior ministers and the central bank governor, and will publish accounts annually and have them audited by an international audit firm.

“The transparency of the fund will be guaranteed by our strict reporting and auditing rules and an investment policy to be announced soon,” Filomeno dos Santos said.

It was not immediately clear when the investment policy would be announced, or if it would be enough to assuage concerns about governance.

“It seems there will be more transparency on this than is typical in Angola, but it will still be less than in other countries’ funds,” Jefferies’ Segal said.


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Africa’s Leadership Fails Billionaire Mo Ibrahim’s Test, But Technocrats Rise
October 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Calestous Juma*

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has announced that it could not find a winner for its US$5 million prize for good governance in Africa. The selection panel said no candidate had met all of the criteria, as was the case in 2009 and 2010.

The foundation has set high and commendable standards for performance, which African leaders should aspire to achieve as the continent works to strengthen other democratic institutions. Two decades ago Africa’s leadership was dominated by autocrats, many of whom had risen to power through military coups. (For an opinionated take and some bacon the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Award, see this post).

But it appears that the road to democracy is being bridged by a rising technocracy.

While the Mo Ibrahim Foundation was announcing the “no winner” in London, the African Union was installing a South African medic, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as its new chairperson in Addis Ababa. In 2012 alone, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Tunisia and Somalia elected engineers to top political offices. Eritrea and Nigeria are headed by an engineer and a fisheries scientist, respectively.

Technical aspirations among African leaders have at times been truly inspirational. When the founding father of Namibia, Sam Nujoma, stepped down from the presidency in 2005, he registered as a masters student in geology at the country’s national university. He graduated in 2009.

Then only three African presidents had technical training. Today the number stands at eight. In addition, nearly 40% of Egypt’s cabinet is made up of engineers. This is remarkable for a continent that has generally provided limited opportunities for training in the engineering fields.

The change in the technical background of African leaders may appear random, but it represents a significant realignment of Africa’s top positions with the continent’s contemporary development challenges. Infrastructure concerns (energy,ransportation, irrigation, and telecommunications) as well as health tend to dominate local political platforms.

For example, Angola’s last elections were marked by the inauguration of new infrastructure projects by the ruling party. The government has put forward a US$17 billion plan for electricity generation by 2016. And Senegal has recently scrapped its Senate, saving the country nearly US$15 million per year that will be invested in flood control, which is largely an engineering initiative. Senegal’s President Macky Sall is an engineer by training.

It is not possible to meet development and integration needs without building a strong engineering base for the design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure facilities. In addition, Africa needs “soft infrastructure” in the form of laws, regulations and other institutional support systems for effective management of physical infrastructure.

The main challenge is the lack of alignment between infrastructure strategies and the need to expand engineering training. As a result, there are very few engineering programs in African universities. There is also a perception that engineering is associated with large projects that tend to be linked to high costs, corruption and ecological degradation.

Much of the economic advice to Africa, which focuses only on the macroeconomic impacts of large infrastructure investments and less on the microeconomic benefits of such financial outlays, is standing in the way of common sense.

It is estimated that the continent will need to invest nearly US$93 billion per year over the next decade to meet its infrastructure needs. Mobilizing financial resources is critical. But more importantly, training opportunities will need to be expanded to include non-university institutions, especially institutes of higher learning that are located in various line ministries (including ministries of defense).

Professor Calestous Juma

Professor Calestous Juma

The telecoms sector is already stimulating electronic and electrical engineering training that includes the creation of dedicated telecoms universities in Kenya, Egypt and Ghana. Uganda, on the other hand, has created a Military University of Science and Technology whose graduates are now involved in the rehabilitation of rural railway networks.

Private and public enterprises can also provide critical in-house, university-level training that meets growing market demand. Other strategic interventions include engineering training facilities as part of all new major infrastructure projects.

Coordinating such efforts will need to be supported at the highest level in government by science and technology advisors to presidents and prime ministers at par with economic advisors. Today no African president has a dedicated office of science and technology advice. It is not enough to leave this critical function to presidents and prime ministers just because they have technical training.

It is too early to tell what the impact of the new leaders will have on the continent. But Africa’s democratic transition will require the helping hand of engineers, medics, scientists and entrepreneurs. This is a trend that Dr. Mo Ibrahim, a Sudan-born electrical engineer, might want to watch.

* Source . Calestous Juma teaches at Harvard Kennedy School and co-chairs the African Union’s High Level Panel on Science, Technology and Innovation (Twitter @calestous) .

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Lagos and Cape Town Most Innovative in Africa
October 16, 2012 | 0 Comments
Cape Town Habour

Cape Town Habour

Only two African cities, Lagos and Cape Town, got the nod in the list of the world’s 25 most innovative cities.

The competition, which is jointly sponsored by Citigroup and the Urban Land Institute, assesses the sustainability and liveability of cities worldwide. Cities were judged on their commitment to development and the willingness of their leaders to show initiative.

Cape Town, also known as the Mother City, was included for their use of technology, research and well as concern for the environment and the way they use land.

Lagos was included due to the city’s progress and potential and for the city’s positive economic climate for potential investors.

Just one of the initiatives resulted in Cape Town’s inclusion on the list was a proposal to install 300 000 solar water heaters by 2015. The municipal government intends to do this by way of the Solar Heater Advancement Programme which was introduced after the city adopted the Energy and Climate Change Strategy. The city’s rating as number one on the Siemens Green City Index for land use was another factor in its favour.

The governor of the city Babatunde Raji Fashola spearheaded the introduction of the Innovation Advisory Council, which deals primarily with science and technology. Upon the establishment of the council, Fashola reportedly stated: “Cities that fail to harness the power of innovation will eventually become the customers of those that do.”

Cape Town was also looked upon favourably due to their green space ratio of 290 sqm per person versus the index average of 74sqm per person. Finally, the city’s massive investment in public transport infrastructure (in the shape of the Integrated Rapid Transport system) was lauded. The project will have cost nearly USD 6billion by the time it’s completed, but that amount is still significantly less than a comparable rail system.

Lagos’s port accounts for 80% of the nation’s seaport activity, while the city accounts for about a quarter of Nigeria’s GDP with USD 33 billion. The city has a population of 18 million people- making it the most populous city on the list of 25.


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Women Entrepreneurs Drive Growth in Africa
October 11, 2012 | 0 Comments


Bethlehem-Tilahun-founder-of-SoleRebels-in-her-factory-in-Addis-Ababa-Ethiopia-in-JuneKAMPALA, UGANDA — Far too often, in the view of Africa’s budding female entrepreneurs, their continent is characterized as the recipient of aid that enables residents just to struggle by, and as a place that mistreats and marginalizes its women.

Late in 2010, after a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on sexual violence called that country the “rape capital of the world.” Last month, a South African politician named her own country the “rape capital of the world.”

Data analysis from Google shows that since 2004, the most common single term related to searches from theUnited Statesfor “Africa” has been “AIDS.” This year, the charity Save the Children namedNigerthe “worst place to be a mother.” On the United Nations’ Web site,Africais the only continent listed under “Issues.”

It was into this world, and against it, says Bethlehem Tilahun, that her shoe company SoleRebels was born.

“I kept hearing over and over the phrase ‘poverty alleviation,”’ said Ms. Tilahun, now a footwear mogul whose company grossed $2 million in sales this past year. “The media, preoccupied with a singular narrative about ‘Africa’ that missed the story of Africa — part of a larger spectrum of endless entities that have monopolizedAfrica’s image, our brand.”

With SoleRebels, she said proudly, “We’ve inverted the whole paradigm.”

Ms. Tilahun, 33, is one of a cresting wave of African entrepreneurs who are harnessingAfrica’s businesses and brands as the continent enjoys its greatest economic success in generations. The International Monetary Fund now forecasts, admittedly in a recession-plagued world, thatAfricawill have the fastest-growing economy of any continent over the next five years.

Many of the new entrepreneurs ofAfricaare women.

Ms. Tilahun became one with shoes.

Beginning in 2004 as a recent college graduate in Ethiopia with a handful of artisans from the neighborhood and a workshop on her grandmother’s plot, Ms. Tilahun has built SoleRebels (pun-intended) from a handmade sandal shop into a multimillion-dollar enterprise, whose iconic footwear — still handmade and eco-friendly — sells abroad for $60 and up.

Now her company employs roughly 100 workers, and it recently opened its flagship store in centralAddis Ababa, where SoleRebels’ Ethiopian-branded fusion of Abyssinian and Western taste is on display. With each pair of shoes, she said, she seeks to change people’s minds aboutAfrica.

“We’ve flipped the concept of non-Africans writing the script,” Ms. Tilahun went on. “We’ve basically taken back control of our destiny by controlling the marketing message.”

Indeed,Africamay not be as badly off as indexes sometimes imply.

According to a World Bank report released this month, more than 20 sub-Saharan African countries, totaling more than 400 million people, have gained middle-income status.

This year, the World Bank said, one-third of the economies of the 49 sub-Saharan African countries will grow at a clip of 6 percent or more; meanwhile, the number of people living in poverty has fallen roughly 10 percentage points over the past decade.

It has as much, or more, to do with trade as aid. And it is compounding a surge of female entrepreneurs.

“Women in the private sector represent a powerful source of economic growth and opportunity,” said Marcelo Giugale, the World Bank’s director for poverty reduction and economic management forAfrica.



“In Africa, you see women working a lot,” noted Markus Goldstein, a development economist in the gender department of the World Bank inWashington. “They are very active in the labor market.” According to World Bank data, nearly two-thirds of women are participating inAfrica’s labor force.

Women doing business in ways that support families include the myriad cross-border traders found throughout sub-SaharanAfrica; women selling used clothes and tin kitchenware; hair stylists; and owners of fashion salons, small food stores and even watering holes (catering almost exclusively to men).

Those are all businesses that are seen as more traditional. In 21st-centuryAfrica, businesswomen are pushing into the national scenes of their countries as movers and shakers of industry.

In South Africa, Sibongile Sambo has been a pioneer for women in aviation. She leads an exclusive charter-aircraft company. In Kenya, Ory Okello, 23, helped found Ushahidi , a Web 2.0 crowdsourcing software initiative that changed the game in real-time tracking of emergency events via cyberspace. It was originally geared toward political violence afterKenya’s bloody presidential election in 2008, and now is used by Google.

In Nigeria, Adenike Ogunlesi has built a regional children’s clothing empire from scratch — she started by selling pajamas out of the trunk of her car.

In lakeside Uganda, Lovin Kobusingya has brought fish sausages to the dining table.

“I always knew I was a businesswoman,” said Ms. Kobusingye, 29, a mother of two. “When I was in high school, I used to sell illegal sweets. And I made money. I made a lot of money.”

Her company, Kati Fish Farms, sells 500 kilograms, or about 1,100 pounds, of fish sausage a day, and moves 8 tons of fish a week.

“I am very happy and proud” at being a female entrepreneur, she said. “When I was young, they said: ‘A woman is a woman — a man should take care of you.”’

“But women are actually contributing a lot more than men. We always find ourselves multitasking,” she said, between working and raising a family. “If it could be equated in terms of currency, it would be 80 percent of the economy.”

The rate of female entrepreneurship is higher inAfricathan in any other region of the world, the World Bank says. And even African countries criticized for abuses of human rights and civil liberties are progressive on gender.

It may not be a coincidence that a number of Africa’s economies doing the best without many resources — likeEthiopiaorRwanda— have austere, orderly, patriotic, aid-efficient governments that simultaneously spurn charity aid and focus on foreign-direct investment and private enterprise.

InRwanda, a change in land-title laws to allow wives to be registered alongside their husbands led to a nearly 20 percent increase in female-registered farms.

Both Ethiopia and Rwanda have been criticized for restrictions on civil liberties yet have also given birth to targeted marketing of U.S. consumers — including Rwanda’s Bourbon coffee chain and Ms. Tilahun’s SoleRebels — efforts that may help alter Africa’s image.

“As I entered college,” Ms. Tilahun noted, “it had become clear to me that ‘poverty alleviation’ is a myth.”

“People don’t want to be ‘not poor,’ they want some form of prosperity. That doesn’t mean millionaires or billionaires, but prosperous,” Ms. Tilahun said. “And to create prosperity you have to create something world class.”

She started with the basics — fibers. These have been part of survival and ingenuity inEthiopia— along withChina,IndiaandEgypt, one of the world’s most ancient civilizations. “Footwear was an excellent platform,” she said. SoleRebels footwear — including shoes, sandals and slippers — is made from a variety of hand-woven, locally made materials, including recycled car tires and traditionally grown koba fiber.

Over the years, her company used new thread types and weave designs, revamping customer service to incorporateEthiopia’s culture of hospitality. As a woman growing up and working inEthiopia, she said, there were people who tried to limit her because of her gender, “but I never felt any limitations.”

Moreover, she felt that she was doing something genuine — “people want their brands to be real,” she said.

As her shoes have caught on, so has an image ofAfricathat consumers are willing to buy, and not simply fund.

SoleRebels has become one of Africa’s best-known shoe companies, its products advertised in hip magazines fromTorontotoBerlin. Consumers and investors from donor-aid nations have responded. Ms. Tilahun was named by Forbes magazine as one of 100 women to watch in 2012 and invited to speak at the 2011 World Economic Forum.

There is an “urgent need,” she said, to create more African-owned brands delivering world-class products to the global market, to drown out charitable organizations “selling their variety of messages about and images ofAfrica.”

“Let’s face it,” she said, “it’s pretty hard to convince someone to buy what you are selling when someone else has convinced them you are solely occupied with swatting away flies from your face.”


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South Sudan: First Paved Highway in South Sudan Constructed By USAID, Officially Opened
October 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

Washington, DC — On September 12, U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan D. Page and President of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit inaugurated South Sudan’s 192-kilometer-long Juba-Nimule Road, the largest infrastructure project ever built in South Sudan, and the young nation’s first paved highway.

The inauguration comes one day after the two governments signed a new bilateral assistance agreement, which provides the legal framework for the U.S. Government’s provision of development assistance to South Sudan.

The Juba-Nimule Road was the top infrastructure priority of the Government of South Sudan following the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended Sudan’s civil war. The road has reduced travel time between Nimule and Juba from eight hours to less than three hours, linking Juba with Uganda and providing the shortest, most efficient route to the Port of Mombasa in Kenya.

“This road literally paves the way to South Sudan’s future,” said U.S. Ambassador Page. “The road has integrated South Sudan into East African transportation and trade corridors, bringing to the people of South Sudan ordinary goods they need day to day, humanitarian assistance for those in need, as well as equipment and materials for those who are investing and building in South Sudan.”

President Kiir lauded the continuing friendship of the American and South Sudanese people, as exhibited in the building of this important road. “These are our friends, and they will be our friends for good,” he said. “This is an achievement that should not be forgotten,” he added.

The U.S. Government, through USAID, also helped the Government prepare policy and implementation guidelines for establishing and enforcing axle load controls to prevent overloading of trucks, which can be dangerous and make the road deteriorate more quickly. USAID is also working with the Ministry of Roads and Bridges on allocation of space for construction of weigh stations. The Draft Traffic Act, which is being reviewed by the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly, will provide the legal basis for regulating and enforcing axle load control and other operations and use of the road networks.

The road has generated economic activities along the route, and created employment and training opportunities for South Sudanese communities, thereby enhancing stability. It has also facilitated the return of refugees and internally displaced persons and the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and provides security and improved access to services such as health care.

The project, which began in 2007, included demining; grading and tarmacking the road; construction of eight new bridges built to modern standards to handle truck traffic, replacing dangerous, decades-old bridges; and a road safety education program that won the 2011 International Road Federation global achievement award on road safety.

When the project began, the route between Juba and Nimule was unpaved and difficult to travel. The improved road has not only reduced travel time and enhanced trade, but has brought other benefits to local communities and the government, including boreholes that were drilled in locations so that communities could benefit from them following the road construction, and training of South Sudanese companies in road maintenance, so that local private sector companies will have the skills needed to maintain the Juba-Nimule road and other roads throughout South Sudan.

Three construction camps that were used for road building activities have been handed over to the Ministry of Roads and Bridges for use in road maintenance and highway patrol.

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, in partnership with the Department of Justice, trained the first-ever Highway Patrol Unit in South Sudan to provide a police presence and enhance road safety on the vital Juba-Nimule Highway. In the fall of 2011, the program provided training to the officers of the Highway Patrol Unit, and in summer 2012, 10 motorcycles and safety equipment were turned over to the officers who use them to patrol the highway.


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Is Africa’s digital revolution under threat?
October 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Dele Fatunla*

Back in the 1990s, before everyone had two mobile phones and Skype was still a distant dream, if you were an African living elsewhere, with a need to call home, you either made frequent visits to a local call centre or you bought an international calling card. Getting through to your loved ones or business contacts was a gamble, and every successful call was a triumph of hope over adversity.

The arrival of mobile phones and, just as significantly, cheap and easy access to the internet for many people across Africa and the African diaspora, was an understated miracle based on a relatively small shift in government policies.  Now it’s possible that another shift in government policies could kill this revolution before it has fulfilled its potential.

Over the course of the nineties and early noughties, a telecommunications revolution took hold across Sub-Saharan Africa as many governments relaxed rules governing involvement in the telecoms sector, allowing private players to enter the market – notably, Mo Ibrahim, who established Celtel (now trading as Airtel). Many global companies are now itching to get into Africa, thanks in part to the success of telecoms companies.

The African Development Bank (ADB) estimates that there are 473 mobile phones per 1, 000 people on the continent, a significantly higher level of mobile phone penetration than anywhere else in the world. It certainly beats the 15 fixed line phones per 1,000 users across Africa. The mobile phone revolution, still in its infancy, and the nascent internet revolution – which began with the laying of fibre optic sea cables, funded by a range of interested parties – has made Africa more connected to the rest of the world than it has ever been before.

A vast range of services, businesses and movements are emerging out of the connections that Africans are making globally, not least with their kith and kin in the diaspora. Take the example of Light Up Nigeria, a social movement that aimed to raise awareness of Nigeria’s power electricity access. The campaign was conceived by Nigerians in the country and in the diaspora over the BlackBerry messenger service, where much of the co-ordination of its successful protests and events also happened.

Ushahidi, a crowd-sourcing’website, which relies on text messaging to obtain information, was crucial to tracking the political violence in Kenya during the tumultuous 2007 elections. Crucially, it was the relatively inexpensive nature of text messages which made Ushahidi and developments like it viable.

Internet Revolution Under Threat

Yet, increasingly aware of what looks like a booming and profitable sector, some governments on the continent are contemplating more taxes on internet and mobile related activity. Meanwhile, industry bodies, such as ETNO [European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association] are pushing for the introduction of a mechanism called ‘sending party network pays’ which would treat content providers as “call originators” , similar to the way any consumer making a phone call bears the cost of initiating it.

ETNO, a body made up of many of the large telecoms companies in Europe, wants this policy to become international law. Currently, for most of the companies, the cost of providing data, say a video, is expensive and outstripping capacity to carry the data, requiring significantly more investment. A report, written by Rohan Samarajiva, former Director General of Telecommunications for Sri Lanka and CEO of Lirne Asia, an ICT think-tank, predicts dire consequences for the development of the internet and Africa’s prosperity if governments do shift to a “sending party network pays” model.

The report says that a global agreement to move to a “sending party network pays” policy would have a detrimental effect on regions by providing a blank cheque to providers to raise prices for consumers. This would have a deadening effect on the burgeoning digital economy in regions like Africa. It also assumes that content providers value providing access to information enough to pay for others to consume it. In essence, says Rudolf Van Der Berg, a researcher at the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) ‘Effectively putting a charge on traffic assumes that the person from whom the content originates somehow values that it is read or seen by someone in Ghana or anywhere else. Quite frankly they may not care enough to pay for it. So instead of paying they may shut down access to it.’  He goes on to give a pithy explanation of how charges might affect Africans and diasporans.

“It also works the other way round. What if Ghana had content that might be relevant to non-residents and non-Ghanaians and the rest of the world puts a cost on traffic from Ghana. Would Ghana actually be capable of paying the charges? My neighbour in The Netherlands is from Ghana; however that is not visible when he is on the internet. So maybe he will not be able anymore to access content in Ghana, because his ISP doesn’t receive any money from Ghanaian telcos. Or the Ghanaian content owners block access. That might also mean that the business he and his family are running between Europe and Africa would not function as efficiently as it did before.”

The OECD’s joint study with UNESCO on the development of local content points to the dire impact increased regulation could have on access to the internet in Africa and its economic benefits. The study found that countries with lower charges all round for accessing the internet also had a higher percentage of local content – that is content relevant to audiences in a country and more often than not delivered in local languages by local providers.

Despite the overwhelming dominance of English as the language of the internet, the study holds true even for countries like Poland, that share their language with no other countries. According to the report, where countries increased charges for mobile calls and activity, calls to those countries from the United States dropped significantly, indicating that similar charges on internet content providers will have similar effects;

The Ghanaian government has put out a statement in response to Lirne Asia’s report repudiating ETNO’s proposals, but it remains to be seen whether other African governments will take as enlightened a position. Many of them will take a decision on ETNO’s “sending party network pays” model at a conference on telecommunications from the 3 -14 December – the future of the internet in Africa could very well be determined in those 11 days.

* Meiji Fatunla is RAS website editor and also of Diaspora Debate.


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Mo Ibrahim Foundation: Desmond Tutu Awarded $1m
October 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

Veteran peace campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been awarded $1m (£620,000) by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation for “speaking truth to power”.

Sudanese born British businessman Mo Ibrahim speaks during a press conference to announce former Cabo Verde President Pedro Pires as the winner of the "Mo Ibrahim Prize" for achievement in African Leadership' in central London on October 10, 2011.    AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Sudanese born British businessman Mo Ibrahim speaks during a press conference to announce former Cabo Verde President Pedro Pires as the winner of the “Mo Ibrahim Prize” for achievement in African Leadership’ in central London on October 10, 2011. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The London-based Foundation called the cleric “one of Africa’s great voices for justice, freedom, democracy and responsible, responsive government”.

THe won the Nobel Peace Prize – and 10m Swedish Krona (£935,000) – in 1984 for his campaign against apartheid.

Archbishop Tutu responded by thanking his wife, Leah, for her guidance.

“I have been very fortunate throughout my life to be surrounded by people of the highest caliber, beginning with my extraordinary wife,” said the archbishop in a statement.

“It is these generous people who have guided, prodded, assisted, cajoled – and ultimately allowed me to take the credit.”

The statement said the retired archbishop of Capetown was celebrating his and his wife’s birthdays with family and staff – he turns 81 on Sunday, while Mrs Tutu’s birthday is a week later.

The South African cleric remains outspoken on international affairs, and has been a fierce critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as well as China’s treatment of Tibetans.

In August, he pulled out of a leadership summit in Johannesburg because he refused to share a platform with former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Archbishop Tutu said Mr Blair and former US President George W Bush should be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for lying about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in order to justify invading the country.

Mr Blair issued a strongly worded defence of his decisions, rejecting the archbishop’s allegations as “completely wrong as every single independent analysis of the evidence has shown”.

ANC ‘soul-searching’

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation also offers an annual $5m prize to a former African head of state for good governance.

The most recent recipient of that award was Cape Verde’s former President Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires in 2011.

Winners must have been democratically elected and agreed to leave office.

In some years the prize has not been awarded because no-one has been deemed a worthy enough winner. The winner of the 2012 prize, if it is awarded, would be announced later this month.

Mo Ibrahim was born in 1946 and is a British-Sudanese mobile communications entrepreneur and philanthropist who made billions from investing in Africa.

He argues that his foundation’s $5m prize – the world’s most valuable individual prize – is needed because many leaders of sub-Saharan African countries come from poor backgrounds and are tempted to hang on to power for fear that poverty is what awaits them when they give up the levers of power.

The inaugural prize was awarded in 2007 to Joaquim Chissano, Mozambique’s former president, who has since acted as a mediator in several African disputes.

After announcing the award for Archbishop Tutu, Mr Ibrahim launched a scathing attack on South Africa’s governing African National Congress.

He told the BBC that the party which led the fight to end white minority rule should “go back to its roots” and needed some “soul-searching”.

He also said he was “less enthusiastic” about investing in South Africa than he was five or 10 years ago – but said he was still sure the country had a great future.

Source: BBC News

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Banro Foundation’s “Celebrate the Congo” Event Raises $112,000 for New Hospital in Maniema Province, DRC
October 5, 2012 | 0 Comments
– Banro Foundation fundraiser highlights a year of spending on health care in the DRC, including construction of four new medical facilities

– Banro Foundation and the Panzi Hospital, Bukavu, inaugurate new multi-purpose women’s health unit

– New Salambila Hospital represents Banro’s 2012 “Commitment to Action” as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Sept. 25, 2012) – Banro Corporation (“Banro” or the “Company”) (TSX:BAA)(NYSE Amex:BAA)(NYSE MKT:BAA) is pleased to report that the Banro Foundation, a registered charity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the “DRC”), is on track to complete its most ambitious year to date in advancing the quality and availability of health care in six communities of the eastern DRC.

“Celebrate the Congo” Fundraiser

A major highlight of the Banro Foundation in 2012 was the success of its fundraising event, “Celebrate the Congo,” which was held in Toronto on September 14, 2012 and attended by approximately 140 people. This celebration of Congolese art and music received outstanding financial support from Canadian and international companies active in the mining industry, as well as the guests at the event, raising a total of $112,000. Proceeds from the event are being used for the construction of a new $165,000 hospital in the town of Salambila, Maniema Province, DRC.

Among the financial contributors to the fundraising event were Banro Corporation, GMP Securities, Norton Rose LLP, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, MDM Engineering, Aggreko plc, BMO Capital Markets, Civicon Congo SPRL, Dalbit Petroleum, Loncor Resources Inc, SGS, SRK Consulting, Deloitte, TD Securities, RBC Dominion Securities and Macrae Design.

The Salambila Hospital is also Banro’s 2012 Commitment to Action as a member of President Bill Clinton’s foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

Inauguration of Multi-purpose Women’s Health Unit, Panzi Hospital

On August 30, 2012, the Banro Foundation and the Panzi General Referral Hospital in Bukavu, DRC officially inaugurated the new multipurpose women’s health centre at the Panzi Hospital. The new facility supports prenatal consultation, family planning and HIV sensitization, child health and other activities related to women’s health.

The new $121,000 unit was constructed by the Banro Foundation for the Panzi Hospital with funds raised through a golf tournament held near Toronto in 2011. The Panzi Hospital has earned a global reputation for its outstanding work in providing medical care for women, including women who have been victims of sexual violence. The Panzi Hospital treats an average of 3,500 women each year, free of charge.

2012 Health Care Commitments

In addition to the two projects above, the Banro Foundation is currently constructing the new Tukolo Health Centre, Phase 1 in the town of Kamituga and the new Biyombe Health Centre at Lugushwa. Both towns are in South Kivu Province and in areas that have been without proper medical care. The new health centres will open in December 2012.

Another major initiative was the delivery of a new ambulance to the Ifendula Hospital in the town of Luhwindja, South Kivu province on August 29, 2012. The new Toyota Land Cruiser, whose operations will be partly funded by Banro Foundation, replaces a 25-year-old vehicle.

Together with Banro’s mine development team at the Company’s Namoya project, the Banro Foundation underwrote the cost of transporting medical equipment from Kinshasa to Kindu, Maniema Province, for use in a hospital and schools in the town of Kasongo. The arrival of the equipment was celebrated in a public ceremony in Kindu on September 2, 2012.

Improving the quality of medical care remains a challenge in the eastern DRC. While the quality of care provided by the Panzi Hospital and its 150 satellite clinics is considered to be outstanding, the same is not true for many regional health centres. To help improve the quality of medical care, the Banro Foundation has begun discussions with a leading health NGO to assume health care management of all medical facilities built by the Banro Foundation.

The Banro Foundation

Established in 2005 and based in Bukavu, DRC, the Banro Foundation is funded by the Company with a mandate to improve the lives of thousands of people living in South Kivu and Maniema provinces through strategic investments in education, health and infrastructure development and to provide humanitarian assistance as needed. Approximately 60 projects, costing a total of approximately $3.5 million have been completed during the past seven years.

By the end of 2012 this will include construction of 10 new schools and rehabilitation of two additional schools plus the introduction of scholarships and other programs to promote educational opportunities, construction of six health care facilities, two shipments of medical equipment from Canada to the eastern DRC, the building of potable water systems including a system serving 18,000 people in four villages, the rehabilitation of over 100 kilometres of roads and bridges and many more projects.

The Banro Foundation works closely with local communities in selecting, building and promoting the maintenance of facilities. Among the principles guiding the work of the Banro Foundation is a focus on projects that benefit communities as whole and promotion of opportunities for women.

Photographs of Banro Foundation projects and events can be viewed at The Company’s comprehensive commitment to Congolese economic and social development is discussed at length in the Company’s 2012 Sustainability Report, A New Direction for the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is posted on the Banro website,

Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion. CGI’s Annual Meeting is held each September in New York City. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at

Banro Corporation is a Canadian gold mining company focused on production from the Twangiza oxide mine and development of three additional major, wholly-owned gold projects, each with mining licenses, along the 210 kilometre long Twangiza-Namoya gold belt in the South Kivu and Maniema provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Led by a proven management team with extensive gold and African experience, Banro’s plans include the construction of its second gold mine at Namoya, at the south end of this gold belt, as well as the development of two other projects, Lugushwa and Kamituga, in the central portion of the belt. The initial focus of the Company is on oxides, which attract a lower technical and financial risk to the Company and will also maximize cash flows in order to develop the belt with minimal further dilution to shareholders. All business activities are followed in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

For further information, please visit our website at Follow us on twitter @Banrocorp and Facebook at The Banro Foundation blog is


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Wealthy Nigerians spend $6.5bn on 130 private jets
September 23, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Tunji Abioye*

The growing penchant for private jets acquisition has cost wealthy Nigerians a sum of $6.5bn (N1.02tn) in the last five years. Aviation sources reveal that the luxury trend, which rose by 650 per cent between 2007 and 2012, is encouraged among the rich by the need for privacy, fear of insecurity and the urgency required by modern business, TUNJI ABIOYE reports

Private jet ownership in Nigeria has grown by 650 per cent, from 20 jets in 2007 to over 150 jets in 2012.

According to documents sighted in aviation agencies, the development means that wealthy Nigerians acquired, at least, 130 private jets with a sum of N1.02tn ($6.5bn) within the last five years.

This put the private jets aviation market in Nigeria (the monetary value of all private jets in the country) at N1.18tn ($7.5bn), using $50m as the average cost of each brand new private jet.

A private jet goes for between $40m and $65m, according to the websites of major private jets manufacturers, like Bombardier of Canada; GulfStream and Hawker Siddley of United States; and Embraer of Brazil.

According to findings, the common brands of private jets in Nigeria are Gulfstream 450, 550 and 650; Bombardier Challenger 604, 605; Global Express; Embraer Legacy and Falcons; and Hawker Siddley 125-800 and 900XP.

Top aviation officials told our correspondent on Friday that Nigeria currently rivalled China as one of the two fastest growing private jet markets in the world.

An official with in-depth knowledge of the situation, who spoke under condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to comment on the matter, said most of the jets were bought by top politicians, oil magnates and other business moguls in Nigeria.

He explained that the economic downturn in Europe and the United States had made Nigeria and China to become two of the fastest growing private jet markets in the world.

He said, “Two countries buying private jets now are China and Nigeria. Europe and America are going through turmoil; so, their people are no more buying. This accounts for the trend that whenever some of the private jet manufacturers develop any new jet, they take them to Nigeria and China.”

“The private jets in Nigeria are owned by top politicians, oil magnates and business moguls. It is difficult to get the real identities of owners of some of the private jets in Nigeria because they buy them through some foreign companies in North America, especially the US. The foreign company then leases it to another company in Nigeria.”

Investigation by our correspondent also revealed that there were still several private jets on order by wealthy Nigerians. Some of the jets, it was learnt, would be delivered this year, while others would be delivered in 2013 and 2014.

A top official of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, who asked not to be named, said representatives of the owners of the private jets on order had already notified the agency about the order. This, he said, was necessary for the purpose of registering the aircraft in Nigeria. According to him, some of the private jets also come with foreign registration credentials.

The Managing Director of Aero Airlines, Captain Akin George, had recently commented on the increasing number of private jets being parked at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

He particularly lamented the fact that most of the private jets carried foreign registration credentials. He had subsequently called on the authorities concerned in the country to make registration processes in Nigeria friendly and attractive.

During a recent visit to Abuja, our correspondent observed that over 40 private jets were parked at the terminal.

The CEO of another airline also said that during political meetings or big functions in Abuja, over 50 private jets were usually seen parked at the Abuja airport.

These, he said, were different from the ones parked at the Lagos and other major airports across the country.

“If you go to the old local wing at the Abuja airport, there is virtually no place to park private jets again,” he said

Just on Thursday, a team of officials from the headquarters of Bombardier in Canada arrived at the Executjets Private Hangar at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, to showcase one of their latest private jets, Global 6000.

The team was led by the Sales Director, Africa, Bombardier Business Aircraft, Mr. Robert Habjanic, who said that the team was on a tour of 12 cities in Africa, including Lagos. Habjanic, who spoke with a few aviation journalists, told our correspondent that Nigeria was the company’s largest market in Africa, with about 35 Bombardier-made business aircraft currently flying its airspace.

He said the team had also showcased the relatively new business jet in other parts of the world.

He confirmed that “private business in Nigeria has been growing tremendously in the last five years.”

He attributed this to the fact that “Nigeria is an emerging market.”

The growth in the purchase of private jets in Nigeria has also led to the development of multimillion dollars private jets hangars, where repairs and maintenance could be done in the country. Some of these include Execujets Nigeria Hangar, Caverton Hangar and EverGreen Hangar, all located at the Lagos airport.

Speaking on the development, industry expert, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo, said, “The economy is expanding, with increasing investments within the country and the region. This will invariably necessitate instantaneous travel that scheduled airlines cannot provide.

“Also the privacy needed in a country filled with paparazzi can be an issue. Increasing political and religious issues are contributory. By and large, it will continue to increase if the economy continues with a lot of diversification inputs that naturally spread wealth.”



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