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Kenya cuts 2019/2020 budget amid crisis
September 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma | @journalist_27

Acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani

Acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani

In less than four months since the former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich unveiled the budget for the 2019/2020 fiscal year, the government has chopped the financial plan by 2.1 per cent which is equivalent to $445 million (Ksh.46.2 billion).

Announcing the changes on Thursday, the acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani said the cuts aim at non-essential matters such as foreign travel, trainings, communication supplies, printing and advertising and purchase of furniture. Other expenses to face the chop are use of government vehicles and general supplies. The cut will also cut across hiring, salary increase and restriction on new development projects.

Yattani noted the government has been forced to take the move due to drop in revenue collection caused by trade-offs and reallocations of the existing budgetary provisions. The government had resorted to borrowing to plug the budget deficit increasing the public debt to 55 per cent of GDP from 42 per cent since 2013.

On June 13 this year Rotich announced $302 billion (Ksh.3.02 trillion) June/July budget, higher than previous years’, drawing criticism from people of different walks. He was castigated for subjecting struggling Kenyans to additional taxes. The ex-Treasury boss was shown the door by President Uhuru Kenyatta after he was implicated in the multi-billion dam projects scandal.

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Cameroon, Guinea, South Africa….NDI’s Dr Chris Fomunyoh On Africa’s Shrinking Democratic Space
September 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy, and must fight for inclusive and accountable governments says, Dr Fomunyoh

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy, and must fight for inclusive and accountable governments says, Dr Fomunyoh

While it may be heartening to see how much Africa has changed in the past three decades, the rate at which the successes of political transitions of the 90s are been rolled back should be of concern to everyone says Dr Christopher Senior Associate for Africa at the Washington, DC based National Democratic Institute.

A seasoned professional who has played a leading role in some of the most successful stories of democracies in Africa since the early 90s, Dr Fomunyoh says it is disappointing to see the prevalence of armed conflicts, opposition leaders been thrown in jail, elections being stolen, and constitutions amended by leaders who want to perpetuate themselves in power.

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy and  must continue to fight for inclusive and accountable government, says Dr Fomunyoh in an interview with Ajong Mbapndah L for Pan African Visions.

Speaking with passion about his native Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh says the overall situation looks bleak, and the country’s future precarious. Describing the recent trial of Anglophone leaders as a travesty of justice, Fomunyoh says their sentencing further aggravates the Anglophone crisis and deepens the mistrust, and bitterness that exists between Anglophones and the government of President Paul Biya.

“We must maintain the pressure for dialogue because it is the only means through which this conflict could be brought to an end and the legitimate grievances of Anglophones addressed in Cameroon,” Dr Fomunyoh says.

For the dialogue announced by President Biya  to be credible, the government must create an enabling environment in which participants feel that the dialogue would be open and broad based, allowing for different viewpoints to be heard, says Dr Fomunyoh.

“The government must also take confidence-building measures to show that the call for dialogue is sincere. Notably, the killings must stop, the arbitrary arrest and detention of young Anglophones must end, and people who are detained unjustly should be released immediately,” Dr Fomunyoh said.

Considering that many Anglophones have lost trust in the Biya government, Dr Domunyoh said the burden will be  on the government to show that it will not steamroll participants to obtain a predetermined outcome.

Dr Fomunyoh, you have just returned from Guinea Conakry, an African country that has tremendous resources, but has experienced difficult political transitions in the past. What is your overall assessment of the situation there in the lead-up to national elections scheduled for 2020?

You are so right, Guinea is a country with so much potential given its mineral wealth that includes some of the world’s highest reserves of bauxite and iron ore, and timber and water resources. Unfortunately, the impact of past military and authoritarian rule is still being felt, and citizens still crave an improvement in their well-being in this age of democratic government. The overall political situation in Guinea is tense and polarized, as the country prepares for legislative and presidential elections which have to be conducted between now and December 2020. On top of that, there is speculation that the country could run into a major crisis over whether to adopt a new constitution or not. Political parties, civil society organizations, labor unions, academics and other opinion leaders are already taking sides on the airwaves and various social media platforms. Many Guineans remain hopeful that the day would come when a democratically elected president transfers power through the ballot box to his successor, something that has not happened since the country gained independence in 1958.

Dr Fomunyoh in discussion with President Alpha Conde of Guinea where the overall political situation is tense and polarized, as the country prepares for legislative and presidential elections

Recently in Cape Town, South Africa, as a guest speaker at the joint conference co-organized by the University of Cape Town and the Kofi Annan Foundation, you stated that “political space is shrinking across Africa.” What leads you to that conclusion?

First let me say how uplifting it was to be at the University of Cape Town for a conference in memory of two great sons of Africa — Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan — who as world leaders epitomized the best of humanity in terms of their vision and commitment to promoting human dignity, development and world peace. I was truly honored to be invited.

In the spirit of Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, it is heartening to see how much Africa has changed in the past three decades: political pluralism is now common practice in all African countries, independent media continues to grow, the continent’s youth are becoming politically engaged, and, increasingly, political power is being transferred through the ballot process. Who could have thought that in Sudan, by the sheer determination of citizens engaged in civil protest, a thirty-year autocracy under General Al-Bashir would collapse! At the same time, one must state the disappointment that in too many African countries some of the successes of political transitions of the 1990s are being rolled back. Armed conflicts are still prevalent, opposition leaders are being thrown in jail, injustice is being inflicted on ordinary citizens, elections are being stolen, and constitutions are being amended by leaders who want to perpetuate themselves in power.

So what should Africans do about the democratic backsliding?

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy and fight for inclusive and accountable government. We need more open political space to engage citizens across the board and harness the rich diversity of talent and expertise that our continent possesses. We must find ways to galvanize our human capital to best utilize the countries’ wealth to improve the wellbeing of our fellow citizens. For this to happen, we have to learn to aggregate our efforts as opposed to operating in silos, we have to build alliances across the continent so that the good guys can support each other and draw inspiration from each others’ successes. The next generation of Africans expect from us a better continent than we may have inherited from the generation before us.

The next generation of Africans expect a better continent from its leaders,says Dr Fomunyoh here with President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso.

The next generation of Africans expect a better continent from its leaders,says Dr Fomunyoh here with President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso.

 

You were in South Africa around the week of xenophobic attacks by South Africans against Africans of other nationalities. What do you make of these attacks and how was the mood like while you were there?

It is sad and despicable to watch Africans being killed by other Africans for no other reason than their countries of origin. Nelson Mandela and other founders of today’s democratic and free South Africa would be turning in their graves, because they would remember the contributions by other African countries to the liberation struggle. Without the frontline states that include countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia, and Nigeria, perhaps we would not have South Africa as we know it today.  Even if South African youth are exposed to many challenges such as high levels of unemployment, lack of opportunities and a sense of abandonment by the state, that still cannot explain why they would take out their grievances violently against fellow Africans. It is my hope that the government of South Africa would draw the appropriate lessons from this unfortunate incident and come out with well-crafted programs that can provide a safety net for the less fortunate of South African society, and a sense of safety and security for other Africans that choose to live in this beautiful country.  That tragedy also exposes the failures of other governments across the continent whose citizens now feel obliged to flee their homeland to become refugees in foreign lands, because of political repression or because of lack of economic opportunity. What’s happening in South Africa today must prick our collective conscience as Africans.

Coming now to your home country of Cameroon, what is your assessment of the political situation there, in what shape is the country?

Cameroon is in bad shape. Thousands of Anglophones have been killed, others in their thousands are in detention centers spread across the country; members of security forces have lost their lives in hundreds; over two hundred villages have been burned; 40,000 Anglophones now live in refugee camps in Nigeria and 600,000 others are internally displaced, now living in other regions of the country. For three years running, schools have been unable to open in the Anglophone regions of the country. The United Nations estimates that close to 1.4 million Anglophones could be at risk of famine, all because of the ongoing crisis.

At the same time, the runner-up in the last presidential election, Professor Maurice Kamto, and hundreds of his supporters — many of whom are lawyers, economists and other professionals — are being detained in Yaoundé, with some charged to appear before a military tribunal.

The country also continues to battle Boko Haram extremists in its extreme north region that borders north-eastern Nigeria and Chad. The overall situation looks bleak, and the country’s future precarious. There is reason to be alarmed.

Getting into more recent developments, what is your take on the heavy jail sentence slammed on the Anglophone leader Julius Ayuk Tabe and others?

In my opinion, the sentencing of Ayuk Tabe and 9 others to life imprisonment by a military tribunal in Yaoundé is a travesty of justice on multiple fronts, notably the conditions of their arrest and extradition from Nigeria; their detention incommunicado for an extended period of over 9 months; their trial before a military tribunal constituted only of French speaking military judges; and the all-night trial that ended with a ruling at about 5 am in the morning.  There is no doubt in my mind that this sentencing further aggravates the Anglophone crisis and deepens the mistrust and bitterness that exists between Anglophones and the government of President Paul Biya.

The heavy sentence came at a time when there are increasing calls for dialogue, what impact do you think this could have on prospects of dialogue?

This life imprisonment goes contrary to the vein of recent pronouncements in favor of dialogue by the government, multiple opinion leaders, the African Union and the international community. We must maintain the pressure for dialogue because it is the only means through which this conflict could be brought to an end and the legitimate grievances of Anglophones addressed in Cameroon.

As a seasoned professional on governance and conflict resolution, what proposals do you have for a way out of the present crisis?

I have been consistent in advocating for dialogue and in putting forward ideas that could help the country resolve this crisis. As recently as November 2018, I presented a 10-point agenda on concrete steps that could have been taken at the time to bring an end to the conflict. Since then, the situation has gotten worse, more lives have been lost, and the increasing number of victims only reinforces the urgency of concrete actions that must be taken to end the massacres and conflict. As I’ve stated over the years, I’m willing to put on the table how that roadmap could be implemented, were there to be an open platform and a genuine effort to end this crisis and get the country out of the mess in which it currently finds itself.

On Tuesday, September 10, President Biya addressed Cameroonians and, for the first time in three years, he discussed the crisis in the North West and South West regions in some detail. What is your reaction to the speech?

Modern day governance and crisis management demand that leaders be more proactive in communicating with citizens when countries face crises of the magnitude of what Cameroon has gone through over the past three years. It is good that President Paul Biya finally spoke directly to this crisis. The promise of a national dialogue is commendable, although I wish that the rest of the speech was less accusatory and provocative, so as to create an environment in which the dialogue could actually begin.

Dr Fomunyoh in the company of Barrister Agbor Balla Felix believes that only dialogue and thorough solutions to the legitimate grievances of Anglophones could end the conflict in Cameroon

Dr Fomunyoh in the company of Barrister Agbor Balla Felix believes that only dialogue and thorough solutions to the legitimate grievances of Anglophones could end the conflict in Cameroon

You have always called for dialogue, and now President Biya says there will be one starting by the end of September. What are some of the necessary ingredients for successful dialogue and a lasting solution?

First, for the dialogue to be credible, the government must create an enabling environment in which participants feel that the dialogue would be open and broad based, allowing for different viewpoints to be heard. The government must also take confidence-building measures to show that the call for dialogue is sincere. Notably, the killings must stop, the arbitrary arrest and detention of young Anglophones must end, and people who are detained unjustly should be released immediately. Cameroonians still remember that a similar national dialogue in the early 90s came up with recommendations, most of which were ignored by the government. It is therefore important to send strong signals that the underlying grievances of Anglophones would be addressed, so they feel that the outcome of the dialogue would restore their dignity and what they have lost during this crisis. Given that many Anglophones have lost trust in the Biya government, the burden is on the government to show that it will not steamroll participants to obtain a predetermined outcome.

Given that President Paul Biya is 86 years old and his legitimacy is questioned in some quarters, do you think Biya is in a position to resolve the crisis in Cameroon?

I have serious doubts that a president who is 86 years old, has been in power for 37 years, and has always been aloof and distant from the population can all of a sudden change his governance style and put in the energy and effort required to resolve the crisis. In the past three years, the magnitude of the crisis has grown exponentially, and it now has ramifications both across the country and internationally; I have strong doubts that the Biya government alone can find a way out. Other actors of good will, nationally and internationally, must step in given that trust has been severely broken between the Biya government and a sizeable chunk of the Anglophone population.

What do you think accounts for the levity with which the rest of Africa, and the broader international institutions like the African Union and the UN have treated the crisis in Cameroon?

I agree that the international community has been slow to respond to the crisis, and so far there have been more declarations than concrete actions. At least, some countries and organizations such as the United States, Germany, the European Union and recently the French Foreign Ministry, have been calling on President Biya to change his approach to the crisis and to engage in genuine dialogue. The United Nations recently expressed its support for a Swiss-led effort to mediate between the government and Anglophone secessionist movements, and the Security Council even held an informal debate on Cameroon in May. However, these measures are insufficient as the conflict continues unabated. One would have thought that after the Genocide in Rwanda in 1994, declarations such as “Never again” would prick the conscience of the international community so as not to allow crises like the one in Cameroon to fester. I truly hope that the African Union and the international community can step up their engagement to bring peace to the country.

You are familiar with the way Washington works; can you help us better understand the different Congressional resolutions that have come up of recent on Cameroon?

I am heartened by the interest shown in the Cameroon crisis by the United States Congress, and I urge Cameroonians and friends of Cameroon to continue to educate members of Congress as well as the international community at large on the devastating nature of this crisis and its negative impact on millions of Cameroonians. Recently, Congresswoman Karen Bass, who is the Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee, led a congressional delegation to Cameroon to hear firsthand from Cameroonians and victims of the crisis. Congressional resolutions, especially when passed on a bipartisan basis as we’ve seen in the case of Cameroon, carry a lot of weight. They capture the voice of the US Congress on an issue, and also have the capability of influencing the executive branch of government in its foreign policy approach. The European parliament, the German Bundestag and other important bodies have made similar pronouncements which help raise the level of awareness of the magnitude of the crisis, both within Cameroon and internationally. Hopefully, more concrete actions will follow.

One of the Congressional resolutions called for a return to the Federation that existed between 1961 and 1972. Do you think that could work?

At a minimum, such a concession could create the space for rebuilding trust, given that the government in power was part of the team that dismantled the first Federation in 1972. Moreover, when the current crisis broke in 2016, the Biya government would not entertain proposals for federalism, and even went as far as banning public discussions on the subject. For peace to prevail, Cameroonians will have to sit around the table and agree on a structure that can guarantee for every citizen his or her liberties and the preservation of their culture and dignity. It is inconceivable that Cameroon could rebuild without acknowledging the specificities of its English speaking population.

What is your take on the issue of school resumption?

As you may be aware, The Fomunyoh Foundation which has been active since 1999 has as one of its priorities to promote and support education in Cameroon. The Foundation has over the years distributed books and other school materials and organized public speaking events in academic institutions in all regions of the country. This underscores my personal commitment to the education of the younger generation. In the context of the ongoing crisis, education entails more than just having kids in a classroom. The back-to-school campaign to be successful, has to be part of a comprehensive package that includes among others, overall peace in the Northwest and Southwest regions of the country; reassurances from both the military and armed groups that neither students, nor teachers, nor parents would be shot at or harassed; that the curriculum is relevant; and that the kids can ultimately be guaranteed a future. This requires a deep analysis and proper preparations to make it meaningful. I am saddened that some people are treating this matter as mere sloganeering for political advantage.

If the government calls on the expertise of the seasoned professional that you are, will you be willing to provide it?

For the past two decades, I have been consistent in raising concerns about how the country was being governed. I have been pained and truly aggrieved by what has happened to the Anglophone community in the past three years. It has been disappointing to see how legitimate grievances by lawyers and teachers were summarily dismissed by the authorities, and subsequently how other socio-political grievances that were brought to the fore were violently repressed. Here we are, with thousands of fellow compatriots killed, others in detention, in refugee camps and internally displaced – all of which could have been avoided. Under those circumstances, one has an obligation, if called upon, to contribute ideas and recommendations on how to stop the killings and get out of this mess.

Some people have mooted ideas for a transitional government led by someone neutral that could help the country wade through the myriad of crises it is facing.  First, what do you think of the idea and secondly were this to happen and you were asked to preside over a transition, is this something you could consider?

With each passing day, as these multiple — Anglophone, political, and security — crises we just discussed  endure, my faith in this government’s ability to resolve all of them diminishes. At the same time, the current constitution of the country doesn’t allow for a transitional government as you allude to, and so I do not see how this could come about.

Dr Fomunyoh making a donation to internally displaced persons ,the UN estimates that close to 1.4 million Anglophones could be at risk of famine because of the ongoing crisis.

Dr Fomunyoh making a donation to internally displaced persons ,the UN estimates that close to 1.4 million Anglophones could be at risk of famine because of the ongoing crisis.

What lessons will a future Cameroon and the rest of Africa learn from this crisis?

Many. For example, that a people would rise up if their dignity is trampled upon; that truth, honesty and other democratic values matter for people’s trust in their government; that preventive diplomacy would save us and our continent a waste of human capital and human resources; and that it is incumbent on our generation to shape and give meaning to institutions that should improve the wellbeing of our fellow citizens.

So, what’s ahead for you and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) over the next year?

In the coming year we will be paying very close attention to the transition process in Sudan, as well as political developments across the Sahel and in the Horn of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region. We will also be paying close attention to upcoming competitive elections in countries such as Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique and Niger Republic. The beauty of this all is the partnerships that NDI has with civic and political organizations across the board in all of the countries in which we work. They are the true champions of democratic development in their respective countries, and our role is to give them the support and solidarity that they need to succeed.

* Full Interview Will feature in September Issue of Pan African Visions Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

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President Kiir and Machar report ‘important progress’ following meetings in Juba
September 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Beatrice Mategwa*

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Withdrawal of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame from the World Economic Forum in South Africa Last Week was an Honorable Act for Africa
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By James N. Kariuki

Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Rwandan President Paul Kagame

On Friday last week in one of South Africa’s national newspapers, The Citizen, Ralph Mathekga, usually insightful political analyst, was reported to have rebuked Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame for declining an invitation to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town.

The issue at hand related to African reaction to the on-going xenophobic attacks on non-South African nationals in SA. In Mathekga’s view, Kagame’s response to the attacks reflected ‘weak leadership’ and lack of ‘political maturity’ in Africa. In assessing the facts realistically, such a conclusion was not only unduly harsh; it was misleading, unjustified and disingenuous.

To begin with, besides Rwanda other African states had voiced grave reservations about attending the WEF under the prevailing circumstances in SA. These included Nigeria, Malawi, the DRC, Zambia and Tanzania.  Kagame was hardly alone. More to the point, he had nothing to do with the causes, spread and execution of the xenophobic carnage and had virtually no influence over its perpetrators.  After all, South Africa is a sovereign nation.  The only avenue available to Kagame was indirect influence via the local South African authorities.

Yet, no utterances were forthcoming from the SA Government officialdom or the organizers of WEF that a plan was underway to stem or alleviate the impact of the savage and senseless attacks on innocent and defenseless fellow Africans. Obviously Kagame felt helpless and frustrated that the WEF seemed to be bent on proceeding as if nothing alarmingly critical was happening in its host country.

Mathekga’s reasoning would have been sound had it proposed that an urgent consultative meeting of African leaders be called by the SA government just before, or along the WEF, to discuss on emergency basis the crisis of the on-going Afrophobia-driven brutality. In the absence of the African Union in the WEF, the obligation to solicit such give-and-take views from other African leaders rested squarely on the shoulders of the host, President Cyril Ramaphosa.  President Kagame was certainly not in a position to summon such a sub-meeting; he was a guest, not the man-in-charge. To repeat ourselves, South Africa is a young sovereign nation and is understandably ultra-sensitive to matters touching its jurisdiction.

By all indications, a give-and-take meeting of African leaders at, or parallel to the WEF, was not forthcoming. Conceivably, President Kagame felt that it would be a betrayal to his personal conscience and the people of Rwanda for him to sit among global leaders to discuss economic issues while innocent fellow Africans around them were being decimated with impunity. Meanwhile, the global leaders would be sitting at the majestic International Convention Center in Cape Town, securely protected by state security forces, possibly oblivious to the woes of the violence outside.

Viewed from this angle, President Kagame’s conscious and deliberate choice to formally exclude himself from Cape Town’s WEF was a carefully considered act of ultimate decency, political maturity, and diplomatic savvy. It was his way of protesting how victimized ‘foreigners’ in SA were being handled virtually indifferently by the country’s officialdom and to inform the victims of Afro-phobia that, “yes, we hear you and we do care. Indeed, you matter to us.”

Such a reaction is truly understandable coming from a leader who, in all likelihood, still encounters occasional sleepless nights, haunted by memories of man’s savagery to fellow man from the ghastly Rwanda Genocide which took place twenty five years ago and senselessly wiped out ten percent of his nation’s population.

It was indeed a misplaced judgment for Mathekga, otherwise a seasoned and compelling political  analyst, to condemn President Kagame for finding it unacceptable to visualize himself sitting in an economic meeting while innocent people outside faced war conditions of life and death.

Seen in this context, President Kagame’s self-imposed ‘exclusion’ from WEF was indeed a dignified and decent diplomatic act to show that he, as a mature and committed African leader, drew the line in the sand to assert  that what was happening in SA at that juncture was far from acceptable. To see this gesture any other way than honorable, verges on blaming the victim.

*James N. Kariuki is a Kenyan Professor of International Relations (Emeritus).  He comments on public issues in various international publications.He runs the blog Global Africa

 

 

 

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Rwanda Named Long-Term Home for African Green Revolution Forum
September 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Mohammed M. Mupenda

Dr Geraldine Mukeshimana, Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources speaks at the event in Kigali

Dr Geraldine Mukeshimana, Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources speaks at the event in Kigali

The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) Partners Group has unanimously selected Rwanda to host AGRF 2020 and serve as the home country of the forum going forward.

In a statement released on this Friday, September 6, 2019, H.E Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia who is currently serving as the Board Chair of AGRF Partners Group revealed that Rwanda’s successful hosting of AGRF 2018 was one of the triggers of the decision.

“Rwanda’s hosting of AGRF 2018 featured the largest attendance on record and the leadership of H.E. President Paul Kagame, both in presiding over that historic gathering and in his broader commitment to the transformational power of agriculture has set a model for all to follow,” he said.

“We are honored to be the home country for AGRF and are committed to working closely and collaboratively with our may partners across Africa and around the world to ensure the continued growth and influence of AGRF as the voice of Africa’s smallholder farmers and agriculture businesses,” Said Hon. Geraldine Mukeshimana, Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources.

“The move will add the Republic of Rwanda to the AGRF partners Group to help shape and drive the AGRF’s long term vision, deepen relationships with service providers to streamline organizational logistics, and unlock partnerships with several new institutions looking to grow with the forum,” reads the statement.

The AGRF underpins its partners noted that Rwanda’s pact as its home country “will increase accountability and commitment of the continent’s leaders to use the forum as the focal point for delivering on the goals laid out by African Heads of State and Government in the African Union’s Malabo Declaration, United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa Agenda 2063.”

AGRF is established as the platform for leaders from across Africa and around the world to advance concrete plans and share knowledge to tap enormous potential agriculture to drive equitable and sustainable growth across the continent. It has taken place in eight different countries over the last ten years.

The AGRF Group is made up of a coalition of 21 actors in the African agriculture sector. Among them include the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank, the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

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Washington Braces Up for Mega Forum on Making African Trade Easy
September 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

-Q& A with Angelle Kwemo  on Mate 2019

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Angelle Kwemo Founder and CEO Of Believe in Africa

Angelle Kwemo Founder and CEO Of Believe in Africa

 

Trade, the African Continental Free Trade Area, Prosper Africa initiative, business networks and more will be in focus during the upcoming Making African Trade Easy Forum organized by Believe in Africa Foundation. Considering that this is the 5th anniversary of Believe in Africa, we decided to do something different, says Founder and CEO Angelle Kwemo in a preview of the forum with Pan African Visions.

“We are strongly mobilizing the African diaspora, African, and American firms to explore partnership opportunities,” says Angelle Kwemo. Also expected at the event are several African leaders and close to 200 participants from Africa.

With experience working in diverse legislative and policy circles in the US, and Africa, Angelle Kwemo believes that MATE 2019 which runs from October 3-4 will provide a unique platform for delegates to understand and explore the myriad of business opportunities in the light of  recent developments in both Africa and the USA.

You are Founder and Chair of Believe in Africa, could you start by introducing the organization for us and what it does?

Believe in Africa is a non profit organization created by African diaspora leaders to promote African solutions to African problems, advocate for increasing the role of the African private sector into the continent’s economic transformation, promoting intra African trade,  and last but not the least promoting investment in women, and youth.  What we do is organize meetings, seminars, and create platforms to facilitate partnerships.

The organization is hosting the Making Africa Trade Easy Fair in Washington, DC, can you shed light on this?

This year is our fifth-year anniversary. We decided to do something special in Washington DC where the organization was born. Three important policies changes happen this year that coincided with our mission and will be at the center of MATE. Private sector, Finance and intra African trade.

  • Prosper Africa initiative announced by the current administration is perfectly in line with our vision to put the African private sector at the center of the continent’s economic growth as well as at the center of US Africa cooperation. We strongly believe that Africa should gradually get out of the “Aid dependency”. This can only happen if Africa attains its economic independence. That independence will begin when the African private sector will be strong and prosperous. Also, with Africa’s population growth exceeding the billion, Job creation is an emergency. Those jobs will not come from the public sector, nor from the humanitarian programs. Therefore, it is imperative that the governments, Africans, and partners like the US, MUST create the enabling environment for the African private sector to prosper. This also applies on US foreign policies. I believe this is what Prosper Africa intends to do. Support the private sector to double US Africa two ways trade.
  • International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), will open soon. Created by the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILT Act) with 60 billion USD appropriated (double of OPIC), it is one of the biggest changes in U.S. development policy in recent years. The DFC will combine the Overseas Private Investment Corporation(OPIC) and the S. Agency for International Development’s Development Credit Authority, add new development finance capabilities, including equity authority, and have a higher lending limit than its predecessor. It is aimed at advancing private-sector-led development and will prioritize low-income and low-middle income countries, where the DFC’s services will have the greatest impact.
  • This July the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) became effective, creating the world’s largest single market, including the world’s fastest growth economies. It is historical and creating the biggest opportunity of our lifetime. By 2030, Africa will have a combined consumer and business spending of $6.7 trillion in 2030. We should all play a role in making the continental market successful.

It is for these three reasons that as the African diaspora in the U.S., we decided to use our networks to help in promoting these policies with the concept of MATE.

MATE is a collaborative effort between us, USAID, and the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center to promote Prosper Africa, and African Economic integration in order to strengthen U.S. – Africa trade relations and double two ways trade between both continents using the bridge created by the African diaspora.

Any projections on the level of participation from companies and businesses, and what will represent a successful MATE forum for you?

We are strongly mobilizing the African diaspora, African and American firms to explore partnership opportunities. As you know, the African diaspora is historically, culturally, and emotionally connected with the continent. Their proximity with the continent has been unutilized until today. They are the most effective US ambassadors to the continent. They abide by the American standards and have good understanding of both continent’s ways of doing business. With MATE, we want to equip them with tools that they need to trade and invest more in Africa. In doing so, they are not only contributing to the development of the continent, but they also promoting American products and services, and creating badly needed jobs in both continents.

That is why we are also bringing together U.S. agencies under Prosper Africa hospice, African leaders from both the public and private sectors to discuss and explore partnership opportunities.

How will the program of  events look like, what should participants expect?

The MATE program will comprise plenary sessions, workout sessions, seminars and roundtables. We will discus investment opportunities in various sectors like Technology and digital, AfCFTA, healthcare, agribusiness, textile and fashion, power.

Participants will get more insights or learn about resources available in the U.S through “Prosper Africa”, meet potential partners and investors. We will hold exhibitions, and create platforms for B2B and B2C.

Also, we are planning a special session on Women in Agriculture to coincide with our annual “AWAA” meeting. African Women in Agriculture and Arts (AWAA)” is a platform dedicated to empowering women in agriculture, especially in rural areas, enabling them to become self-reliant, productive and competitive. AWAA network was launched last year in Morocco under the hospice of H.E. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou. We will bring women leaders from Africa to Washington to showcase their products and explore the U.S. market.

May we know some of the dignitaries who have confirmed participation at the event?

On the African side, we will have two heads of States in attendance H.E. Roch Kabore, President of Burkina Faso, H.E. Felix Tsisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahama, Chair AU Commission, H.E. Albert M. Muchanga, AU Commissioner of Trade and Industry, H.E. Lesego Makgothi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of Lesotho, Chantal Yelu Mulop, SA President of Congo on youth and violence against Women, high level representation of Afrexim Bank, Niger, Lesotho, Guinea, Mauritious, Rwanda, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal.

We will host Africa’s biggest women advocate like H.E. Adjoavi Sika Kaboré, First Lady of Burkina Faso, H.E. Aisha Buhari, and First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and H.E. Aissata Mahamadou, First lady of Niger.

On the U.S.G side, we will have, Hon. Tibor Nagy, Assistant Secretary on Africa, Hon. Ramsey Day, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa, USAID, Hon. Constance Hamilton, AUSTR for Africa, Hon. Oren Wyche-Shaw, Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID, Matthew Rees, Prosper Africa Coordinator, Tom Hardy, Acting Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, CD Glin, President & CEO, US Africa Development Foundation, Hon Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Director for Africa, Millenium Challenge Corporation, and Worku Gachou, Director for Africa, International Development Finance Corporation.

In the private sectors, we have more than 200 companies including large ones

like OCP, MTN, Standard Charted Bank and many more for more than 20 countries.

There will be a special session hosted by the African Women in Agriculture and Arts (AWAA), a platform dedicated to empowering women in agriculture, especially in rural areas

There will be a special session hosted by the African Women in Agriculture and Arts (AWAA), a platform dedicated to empowering women in agriculture, especially in rural areas

How much participation do you expect to come from Africa?

We are expecting around 200 participants from Africa. I must be honest to say that the most recent developments in U.S.  immigrations and visa policies have been counterproductive because it is difficult to imagine doubling two ways trade when African partners are unable to visit the U.S. It is also part of our duties to raise awareness about obstacles to trade. American needs to make sure its policies and all agencies policies are not self destructive, and pushing Africa closer to China, Russia and other competitors.

What is your take on the overall strategy of the Trump administration towards Africa, what has changed in the sphere of development and trade?

I want to remain objective and nonpartisan as African policies have always been in the past. On the trade front, I think the administration has good intentions: help Africa become less dependent on aid. If you run a poll in Africa on this subject, the majority of Africans will agree. The question now is how?  I think it will start with a big mind shift that American will have to make. Africa has changed, and the new Africans are ready for business and they are open to explore different avenues. I think American firms should come to the realization that they are in a competitive field and learn to adjust accordingly. This is the most difficult part.

Lastly America needs to innovate in their foreign policy approach and use the cultural bridge that the African diaspora represents. I will not emphasize it enough.   Diaspora entrepreneurs are also pragmatic. If they don’t find support in the U.S. they will find it somewhere else. It would be a waste.

As I said earlier, immigration policies send wrong signal to our African partners. How can you do business with someone who is not welcome in your country?

After MATE, what next for Believe in Africa, any other big projects or ventures in the horizon?

We will continue to build MATE and AWAA. I will give you more details in October 4, 2019. Big announcement are coming.

*Originally published by Pan African Visions, contact,pav@panafricanvisions.com, Tel:12404292177

 

 

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Nigeria: President Buhari sends delegation to register displeasure over xenophobic attacks in South Africa
September 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Teslim Olawore

President Buhari with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Buhari with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a delegation to South Africa to register his “displeasure” over the killings of Nigerians in South Africa.

In a statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Buhari, Femi Adesina, the delegation will arrive South Africa on Thursday to find a resolution to the reported attacks.

Mr Adesina said Mr Buhari has “noted with deep concern, reported attacks on Nigerian citizens and property in South Africa since August 29, 2019.”

“Consequently, the President has instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to summon the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria and get a brief on the situation; express Nigeria’s displeasure over the treatment of her citizens; and assurance of the safety of their lives and property.

“President Buhari has also despatched a Special Envoy to convey to President Cyril Ramaphosa his concerns and also interact with his South African counterpart on the situation.

“The Special Envoy is expected to arrive in Pretoria latest Thursday, September 5, 2019.”

The presidency did not name the special envoy.

Earlier, the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa said Mr Buhari would travel to South Africa next month over the attacks.

The high commission condemned the attacks and pledged to defend the interests of Nigerians in South Africa.

“All Nigerian victims of the current attacks are requested to come forward to report their situation to the high commission and the consulate,” Kabiru Bala, the high commissioner wrote in a statement.

Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, has also condemned the attacks which have been condemned by most Nigerians.

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Zimbabwe: Hit and Hide, Mouse and Cat Relationship, ED Mnangagwa versus Tim Olkonnen
September 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

President Emmerson Mnangagwa with EU Ambassador Head of Delegation to Zimbabwe Tim Olkonnen

President Emmerson Mnangagwa with EU Ambassador Head of Delegation to Zimbabwe Tim Olkonnen

Harare—Stealth tempers are flaring in Zimbabwean Politics between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and EU Ambassador Head of Delegation to Zimbabwe Tim Olkonnen . The EU Ambassador has over the past days encouraged President Mnangagwa to exercise Human Rights.

The Head of Delegation in Zimbabwe last week challenged the new Regime to prove it had moved away from the Robert Mugabe old days.

‘’We are witnessing these days several developments that put constitutionalism and the rule of Law in question. A number of abductions have been witnessed in the country. The new regime must move away from the past act of doing. Zimbabwe should show it genuinely it has made a break from the past.’’ Olkkonen was quoted by Journalists in Harare.

In evidence to show the flare of vented anger in a cat and mouse relationship, President Mnangagwa responded;

‘’The rule of Law Observance is not needed for the purpose of pleasing other countries. We need it because it is proper for ourselves’’.

Another wave of political acrimony has burst with the avail of the information from a source who spoke to Pan-African –Visions Journalist early this week. The gathered information is that the police is training soldiers in a bid to thwart any opposition head-way towards initiation of political violence.

Several Army personnel confirmed the clandestine trainings in the country. The only grip of fear is that they are not feeling comfortable if caught suspected to have divulged the information.

‘’The Army will work with the police in a new strategy that is harmless to the public. This is not for the first time. In January this year, Army helped police. Now its vice-verse.

‘’A number of Army officers have been trained. Actually, this is the Third Batch. The training is that they are trained to play the game smart and smooth. They are trained to manage large crowds without using guns or any military weapon. Thus why it is police training the military’’, he took a strong breath.

Asked to comment, an MDC official who gave a short comment said they are a number of demonstrations in planning with opposition. He pointed out that the opposition party is moving into ZANU PF strongholds.

‘’ Nevson , Just tell them and know we have a spate of planned demonstrations in our mind . We do it , we win it because people are suffering. We have plans as well to move around the country in towns and cities. I think these people are in panicky mode ‘’ he concludes.

The source from MDC denied any knowledge about military trainings by the police .

Known sources to the Pan-African Visions took it a hide and locked their phones after realisation that there were calls in question. A source from the Civil Society Elston Chitombo said that is the reason why military is being trained because the past aborted demonstrations left scars of anger in MDC. He also commented that the Government wanted to follow International standards of human rights observation.

‘’They are afraid of MDC. A number of demonstrations were expected but Central Intelligence and police kept awoke. The Government fears Western powers over abuse of human rights. They now want to act well.

‘’It seems and looks like there is nasty secret hit and hide between Mnangagwa and the EU and America. This is so because EU Head of Delegation to Zimbabwe called for Zimbabwe’s observation of Human Rights in the country. Lastly USA Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols visited some victims of abduction and torture. One victim’s legs were broken by eight men who abducted him. This is a hit and hide relationship   , Mnangagwa versa EU and USA’’, He concludes.

 

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Time to Make Energy Work for Africa
September 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

It is past time that Africa’s natural resources benefited Africans

By Prince Arthur Eze*

It is long past time that we made energy work for Africa. It is past time that Africa’s natural resources benefited Africans; that every African had access to electricity; and that the wealth created by oil and gas would lead to the sustainable development of African economies.

Certainly, much needs to be done to make these dreams a reality, and the continent’s top leaders in the energy industry will gather in Cape Town on October 9-11 in Africa Oil & Power 2019 (http://www.AOP2019.com) to drive the conversation forward and #MakeEnergyWork.

Thankfully, success stories and opportunities abound.

The incredible story of Senegal, for example, stands as a roadmap on creating a transparent government; building the needed infrastructure to support future development; creating an attractive regulatory framework to bring in much-needed FID and new investment; and for using the oil and gas sector to spur new growth. The country, led by H.E. Macky Sall, the President of the Republic of Senegal, has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, consistently ranking in the top ten fastest-growing economies in the world. Government reforms, led by Sall, have improved Senegal’s image both domestically and abroad, encouraging a string of new investment in oil and gas, electricity, roads, fisheries and tourism.

The outlook for the country’s oil and gas sector, led by Sall, is bullish, with two of the world’s most-watched projects — SNE oilfield and the Great Tortue/Ahmeyim gas project — moving forward. Both are expected to start producing export revenues in the early 2020s.

H.E. Sall, winner of the prestigious “Africa Oil Man of the Year” award during the 2019 Africa Oil & Power conference, has certainly provided Africans with a strong example of leadership and cooperation. We are honored to recognize and support H.E. Sall’s achievements and continued efforts at Africa Oil & Power (https://AfricaOilandPower.com/).

At Atlas-Oranto, we are proud to be leading pioneers in the sustainable development of Africa’s energy sector, ensuring growth in countries like South Sudan, where we are honored to operate Block B3; in Equatorial Guinea where we operate Block I and in Nigeria, where we operate OML109. In total, Atlas-Oranto is active in 11 countries in Africa and we are committed to working with the governments and communities of these countries to ensure our operations meet the highest standards of energy development. In Equatorial Guinea, for example, we are currently investing $350 million into the country’s gas monetization and backfill project.

At Atlas-Oranto — Africa’s largest privately-held, Africa-focused exploration and production group — we have faith in Africans, and we invest heavily in frontier markets so that the continent as a whole can continue to grow. We know first-hand what it takes to get new investments off the ground and how to grow small-to-medium enterprises. It takes boots on the ground, as well as understanding and coordination with our brothers and sisters around the world.

Indeed, with new investment opportunities on the horizon and a new drive to cooperate across borders, now is the time to spur this sustainable growth in Africa with energy as the catalyst.

At Africa Oil & Power 2019, many of these opportunities will be featured, including the ongoing licensing rounds in Equatorial Guinea and Angola; the launch of the South Sudan licensing round; and more.

For three days, over 1,200 of Africa’s foremost thought leaders, industry experts, private sector executives and government officials will gather together to discuss the incredible role of technology in Africa’s energy sector; the rise of renewables; the incredible upstream opportunities from South Africa to Senegal and the need for cooperation.

Let’s get busy and #MakeEnergyWork.

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Elumelu Challenges Japan – “Partner with us in Empowering African Entrepreneurs”
August 30, 2019 | 0 Comments
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Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7): Japan, South Africa and the African Development Bank unveil priorities to accelerate Africa’s technology transformation journey
August 29, 2019 | 0 Comments
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group

“Let’s be visionary. Let’s be bold. Let’s support concrete initiatives to boost science, technology, and innovation in Africa,”- Akinwumi Adesina

YOKOHAMA, Japan, August 29, 2019/ — Science, technology and innovation as well as human resource development are critical in Africa, a continent, which has the biggest potential on earth, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum held in Yokohama, on Wednesday, as part of TICAD 7.

The Science and Technology in Society forum (STS forum) is one of the largest and most influential nonprofit organizations established in 2004 by Mr. Koji Omi, a former Japanese Minister of Finance. The Forum aims at strengthening cooperation between Japan and Africa in science, technology, and innovation.

In his address, Prime Minister Abe also noted the important role that science and technology played in the history of Japan’s modernization.

In attendance were Mr. Yasutoshi Nishimura, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank Group (http://AfDB.org), Koji Omi, founder and chairman of the STS forum, and Asako Omi, member of Japan’s House of Representatives.

“South Africa endorses the focus on science, technology, and innovation as a priority theme for TICAD 7, given its great potential to accelerate African development through mutually beneficial partnerships with Japan, President Ramaphosa told participants.

“The STS forum has successfully changed global discourse on the role of science in development, we seek the forum’s support in changing the discourse on the role of Africa in science and innovation,” Ramaphosa concluded.

Adesina shared insights on the Bank’s work and support to train and develop the next generation of scientists. Since 2005 the Bank has provided financing of over $2 billion to support education, resulting in educational opportunities for 6 million students.

“We are proud of our investment in supporting the establishment of the Regional Center of Excellence in Kigali in conjunction with the Carnegie Mellon University, which is providing world-class Masters degree training in ICT. I am delighted that all the students that have graduated from the university have 100% employment, including setting up their businesses,” Adesina said in his keynote remarks.

The Bank has supported the establishment of ICT digital parks in Senegal and Cape Verde and is working with the Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn and Safaricom to establish coding centers in several countries.

Adesina offered some key areas to prioritize in science and technology, including the establishment of regional centers of excellence; the urgent need to increase the share of GDP devoted to science and technology and close the gender gap in higher education.

“Let’s be visionary. Let’s be bold. Let’s support concrete initiatives to boost science, technology, and innovation in Africa,” he concluded.

Ministers for Science and Technology, Ambassadors, executives of international and national Agencies and business in Africa and Japan attended the Forum.

TICAD 7 runs from 28-30 August in Yokohama, Japan.

*AFDB

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Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7): PM Shinzo Abe says Japan will help double Africa’s rice production by 2030
August 29, 2019 | 0 Comments
“We must end hunger in Africa. Yes, we must! Hunger diminishes our humanity” – Adesina urges
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe African leaders at opening of TICAD7

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe African leaders at opening of TICAD7

YOKOHAMA, Japan, August 28, 2019/ — The Sasakawa Association will work with the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), to help double rice production to 50 million tonnes by 2030.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the announcement at the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) symposium held on Wednesday during TICAD7.

“Japanese technology can play a key role in innovation which is key to agriculture,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told delegates.

Discussions at the Symposium focused on Africa’s youth bulge, unemployment rates, agricultural innovations and technologies, solutions and job creation opportunities in the agricultural sector.

“We’ve always believed in the agriculture potential of Africa,” said Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon foundation. “We are paying more attention to income-generating activities. We want to help shift the mindset of small-holder farmers from producing-to-eat to producing-to-sell. We are hopeful that Africa’s youth can take agriculture to a new era, and that they can see a career path in agriculture,” he added.

In a keynote address, African Development Bank Group President, Akinwumi Adesina, called for urgent and concerted efforts to “end hunger”.

“In spite of all the gains made in agriculture. We are not winning the global war against hunger. We must all arise collectively and end global hunger. To do that, we must end hunger in Africa. Hunger diminishes our humanity,” Adesina urged.

According to the FAO’s 2019 State of Food and Security, the number of hungry people globally stands at a disconcerting 821 million. Africa alone accounts for 31% of the global number of hungry people – 251 million people.

Commending the Sasakawa Association’s late founder, Ryochi Sasakawa, for his tireless efforts in tackling hunger, Adesina said: “Passion, dedication and commitment to the development of agriculture and the pursuit of food security in our world has been the hallmark of your work.”

Between 1986 and 2003, Sasakawa Association in Africa, operated in a total of 15 countries including – Ghana, Sudan, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Mali, Guinea, Zambia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Mozambique.

Harnessing the potential of new technologies

Adesina expressed confidence in the ability of technology to deliver substantial benefits in agriculture. To accelerate Africa’s agricultural growth, the African Development Bank has launched the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) to deliver new technologies to millions of farmers. ‘TAAT has become a game changer, and is already delivering impressive results, Adesina said.

Working with 30 private seed companies, the TAAT maize compact produced over 27,000 tons of seeds of water efficient maize that was planted by 1.6 million farmers.

Tackling climate change: a top priority

Hiroyuki Takahashi, founder of Pocket Marche, a platform that connects Japanese farmers and producers with consumers, shared insights and lessons learnt from Japan’s experiences, historic cycles of climate disasters and the country’s rebound.

“The power to choose what we eat is the power to stop the climate crisis and bring sustainable happiness to a world with limited resources,” Takahashi said.

It is estimated that Africa will heat up 1.5 times faster than the global average and require $7-15 billion a year for adaptation alone. Limiting the impacts of climate change is expected to become a top priority for Africa.

“Africa has been short changed by climate change. But, it should not be short changed by climate finance,” Adesina said in his concluding remarks.

“Let’s be better asset managers for nature. For while we must eat today, so must future generations coming after us. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we do not leave empty plates on the table for generations to come,” Adesina concluded.

*AFDB

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