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Understanding Buhari in 100 Days
August 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Garba Shehu*

buhari-profile-640x336The enormously popular talk show, Berekete on Wazobia FM radio, Abuja station, told the incredible, yet true story of the hardworking and respected school teacher somewhere in Plateau state who hanged himself.

He hadn’t been paid salary for seven straight months. He came home to find that no one had eaten and two of the children had medical prescriptions for which there was no money.

He sneaked out without talking to anyone.

After a long while, news came home that he had strangely been caught with a stolen goat.

On his day in court, the teacher confessed to the offense. The reason he stole, he told the local judge, was that he hadn’t been paid for seven months and when he got home to see what he saw, he just couldn’t stand it.

The judge allowed him to go home on bail on self-recognition given, as he said, the good impression the entire village had of the otherwise respected teacher.

All were shocked to find his body dangling from tree the morning after. He couldn’t live with the shame.

In the recommendations and notes the Ahmed Joda transition committee presented to him as President -EIect, Muhammadu Buhari was informed that a section of the Fedaral government as well as 27 states hadn’t paid salaries, in some case for up to a year.

The Joda committee advised that this was a national emergency and should be treated as such.

It is on account of this that one of theactivities- please note the choice of this word:activities, not achievements- of President Muahammadu Buhari in these past three months is the settlement of unpaid salaries. This is going on right now.

Like the proverbial blinking of the eye, Saturday September 5th will mark the 100th day of the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress, APC government which took office on May 29th after the new party became the first in opposition to unseat an incumbent government in an election adjudged by everyone as free and fair.

There are many out there who say that the performance of a president and his government in terms success or failure cannot be judged in 100 days and I agree with them.

But history will be written anyway. In the coming week or two, a rash of commentaries and analyses to commemorate the event will be made.

I myself don’t deny that 100 days is long enough to know and understand the man who is the head of a government.

Buhari arrived power with strong support from young men and women and this country’s poor. The new government was not favored at election by the monied power-brokers although that did not stop the President from taking measures such as improving security that are good for business and investment.

This government is business-friendly but not one that is for crony capitalism.

The new government inherited enormous problems created by the tainted PDP administration, largely caused by the lack of governance,corruption and lawlessness. This was mostly evident in the last two years of the Jonathan Goodluck administration. As the President continues to point out,the drift is most evident in the oil sector.

I believe that there is enough on the ground in those 100 days to understand President Buhari, his government and what it stands for.

I will cite a few of these.

Before I do that, I will make a little confession.
In the course of electioneering, the presidential campaign had so many centers of public communication which, for whatever reason were on the loose.

There is a certain document tagged “One Hundred Things Buhari Will Do in 100 Days” and the other, “My Covenant With Nigerians.” Both pamphlets bore the authorized party logo but as the Director of Media and Communications in that campaign, I did not fund or authorize any of those. I can equally bet my last Kobo that Candidate Buhari did not see or authorize those publications.

As a consequence of these publications, expectations have been raised unreasonably, that as President, Muhammadu Buhari will wave his hand and all the problems that the country faces- insecurity, corruption, unemployment, poor infrastructure would go away.

860x572xBuhari-at-Villa-2.jpg.pagespeed.ic.AaGL3VUF5BBut that notwithstanding, President Buhari has given the job his best shot and the whole country is saying that we never had it so good. He has re-instituted the values of hard work and administrative efficiency. The President says times without number that this country needs to fix governance and that he won’t tolerate laziness.

Some of the other activities I wish to enumerate also include the fact of his taking relations with the country’s immediate neighbors to new heights. By their open admissions, this country’s neighbors did not have someone they could talk to on the deteriorating security situation in the Lake Chad Basin area in Aso Rock.

Buhari embarked on his foreign policy on Day Four of his administration.

When he met Barack Obama, the U.S president told the Nigerian leader that he was getting it right and that it is only when Nigeria gets it right that Africa will get it right.

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who came calling this week said that our president is “courageous, focused and firm.”

Relations with the “G 7″ group of industrialized countries have since been “reset” and the dividends of this have begun to flow inwards.

In the area of economic management, Nigerians are already seeing things happen that they thought were not possible in so short a time.

He didn’t put a Kobo to finance the power sector. Yet, reading his body language alone and knowing that there are things you cannot do and get away with under Buhari, electricity supply all over the countries has risen to unprecedented heights.

Actually, some cities are on the verge of calling 24-hour, round the clock power supply. The country generates more power than can internally be taken by the deplorable distribution system we have on the ground, which points to the next challenge that the country faces.

Framework for the management of the country’s finances has been put in place. The wobbly Naira is being stabilized and inflation is headed towards a single digit.President Buhari is keeping a close eye on the government treasury.

Agriculture is getting its own shot in the arm.
Rice importation has been curtailed and seven governors whose states are priming a massive local production of the commodity have had a strategy meeting with the President on the next steps that are coming. Americans say their intervention in our agriculture will come next year.

Boko Haram, which had more or less been allowed to fester for about five years is about being ended but what is even more interesting is that intelligence coming from the fired-up armed forces who now work in synergy with each other is raising hope that the Chibok girls may, repeat may be found in good numbers in a geographic location of interest somewhere in the North-East.

President Buhari is being praised at home and abroad for his ongoing fight against corruption. He said from the beginning that his government will not tolerate this vice.

Borrowing the words of India Narendra Modi’s, he said himself that “I won’t steal and I’ll not allow others to do it.” President Buhari has walked his talk since he come to office.

Himself and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have not only given up half of their salary, they have cut a good number of funding lines to their official homes and offices.

President Buhari also takes the environment seriously. He blames the lack of security in the Lake Chad region on the recession, almost drying up of the lake. He has undertaken to clean up the Ogoniland.

In this country, appointments and removal from office are done usually in accordance with a spoils system.

A new government sacks officials on the basis only that it did not appoint them, by the predecessor-administration.

vllkyt51saqlad0s1.245d1d25President Buhari has shown that his government is different. He wants to look at each case on its own merit and it is clear by now that he is not ready to surrender the country to burnt out politicians. Technocrats will have a big place in his administration.
He has appointed no ministers yet, but the government is running smoothly.

In this period of three months, government certainly deserves a pat on the back for improved power, reform in the energy sector, foreign relations fight against corruption and insurgency and the fact of Nigerians being at peace, not only among themselves but with their neighbors and the rest of the world.

In think in summary, I would like to end this piece by saying that President Muhammadu Buhari will turn out to be a leader in the tradition of Lee Kuan-Yu and India’s current reform-minded Prime Minister Modi with strong and clear emphasis on detail and execution. He may however differ with them by not micro-managing things.

* Courtesy of Vanguard.Garba Shehu is SSA Media and Publicity to the President.

 

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South Sudan army ordered to end fighting ahead of ceasefire
August 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

President Salva Kiir (left) shakes hands with Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (right) after signing a peace agreement in Juba, on August 26, 2015 (AFP Photo/Charles Lomodong) President Salva Kiir (left) shakes hands with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (right) after signing a peace agreement in Juba, on August 26, 2015 (AFP Photo/Charles Lomodong)[/caption]

Juba (AFP) – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has ordered all government troops to cease fighting rebel forces as part of a peace agreement, his spokesman said, ahead of a full ceasefire on Saturday.

Kiir has ordered all government troops “to stop shooting and remain in their barracks where they are, but they can shoot in self defence once attacked,” presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told AFP on Friday.

Both sides accused each other of launching attacks on Wednesday as Kiir signed a peace deal aimed at ending the 20-month long civil war in which tens of thousands of people have been slaughtered.

The accord, already signed by rebel chief Riek Machar, gave a 72-hour deadline for a permanent ceasefire, with comes into effect around sunset on Saturday.

Late on Thursday, rebels accused the army of attacking their positions in the northern battleground state of Unity. The army did not reply, but has previously dismissed rebel claims as lies.

Facing the threat of international sanctions, Kiir signed the deal but annexed a list of reservations that he said would have to be addressed for the deal to take hold in the world’s newest nation.

Two powerful rebel generals, Peter Gadet and Gathoth Gatkuoth, split from Machar earlier this month, accusing him of seeking power for himself.

The government has said the split is a key reason they doubt the peace deal can be effective.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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South Sudan's Kiir signs peace deal despite doubts
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) shakes hands with Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (R) after signing a peace agreement to end 20 months of war in the world's youngest nation, August 26, 2015 in Juba (AFP Photo/Charles Lomodong) South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (L) shakes hands with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (R) after signing a peace agreement to end 20 months of war in the world’s youngest nation, August 26, 2015 in Juba (AFP Photo/Charles Lomodong)[/caption] Juba (AFP) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir signed a deal Wednesday to end 20 months of war in the world’s youngest nation, but added a list of reservations that raised doubts about whether peace would take hold.

The signing ceremony was held in the capital Juba under the threat of UN sanctions if Kiir failed to put his name to the accord, which had already been signed by rebel leader Riek Machar.

At least seven ceasefires have already been agreed and then shattered within days — if not hours — in South Sudan, which broke away from Sudan in 2011.

“The current peace we are signing today has so many things we have to reject,” Kiir said at the ceremony, attended by leaders of neighboring Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.

“Such reservations, if ignored, would not be in the interests of just and lasting peace.”

The United States, the key supporter of South Sudan’s statehood, welcomed the signing and said the peace deal should be implemented as it stands.

“We do not recognize any reservations or addendums to that agreement,” said US National Security Advisor Susan Rice in a statement from Washington.

On the eve of the signing, the UN Security Council had ramped up the pressure on Kiir, threatening “immediate action” if he failed to sign or signed with reservations.

But the council on Wednesday gave Kiir until September 1 to get fully behind the peace deal as it weighed a possible arms embargo and targeted sanctions.

The United States last week presented a draft UN resolution on those punitive measures, which would go into effect September 6.

“The deadline for (Kiir) is September 1,” said Nigerian Ambassador to the UN Joy Ogwu, who chairs the council this month. “He has room to play.”

Tens of thousands of people are estimated to have died in a war marked by ethnic killings and rape that have fueled one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The deal was brokered by the regional eight-nation IGAD bloc, along with the UN, the African Union, China, Britain, Norway and the United States.

The accord commits both sides to end fighting and implement a “permanent ceasefire” within 72 hours, but both the government and rebels accused each other of launching attacks against the other on Wednesday.

– Revisiting the deal –

The deal gives the rebels the post of first vice president, which means that Machar would likely return to the job from which he was sacked in July 2013, an event which put the country on the path to war later that year.

Fighting erupted in December 2013 when Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of planning a coup, unleashing a wave of killings that has split the country along ethnic lines.

At the ceremony in Juba, the government released a list of concerns to be addressed for the peace accord to take hold.

“It is not a Bible, it is not the Koran, why should it not be revisited?” Kiir said of the deal.

“Let us give ourselves time and see how we can correct these things.”

[caption id="attachment_20118" align="alignright" width="300"]South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar, a former vice president, signed a power-sharing peace deal on August 17, in line with a deadline to do so (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker) South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar, a former vice president, signed a power-sharing peace deal on August 17, in line with a deadline to do so (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)[/caption]

The government cited concerns over provisions on the makeup of a monitoring commission tasked with policing the deal and on the demilitarization of Juba that would give greater powers to the rebels.

Despite Kiir’s reservations, regional leaders welcomed the accord. “This is the day the people of South Sudan have been waiting 20 months for,” said Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

“This was not a just war, it was an unjust war. It was a wrong war, at a wrong place, at a wrong time — and the sooner you finish it the better,” said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Under the deal, Museveni has 45 days to withdraw troops that he had sent to South Sudan to shore up Kiir’s forces.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the signing and said the challenge now before South Sudan’s leaders was to implement the peace deal.

“The road ahead will be difficult,” said Ban.

Some 2.2 million people have been driven from their homes in the conflict. About 200,000 terrified civilians are sheltering at UN bases.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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East Africa's election fever
August 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Joseph Warungu*

[caption id="attachment_20087" align="alignleft" width="300"]Yoweri Museveni is hoping Ugandans will back him to lead for a fourth term Yoweri Museveni is hoping Ugandans will back him to lead for a fourth term[/caption]

In our series of letters from African journalists, Joseph Warungu notices that as election fever sweeps across East Africa, politicians are peeping across the borders to see if there are lessons to be learnt from their neighbours:

In Tanzania, campaigning for the October general election began on Sunday. In Uganda, President Museveni and his National Resistance Movement are getting ready to battle it out with the opposition in the run-up to elections in 2016. While Rwandans are taking initial steps to change their constitution to increase the presidential term limit to three, across the border in Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza is faced with dangerous tensions stirred up by his recent re-election. Here in Kenya, elections are still two years away, but it already feels like campaign season has begun. With all this election activity, it’s inevitable that the five countries comprising the East African Community (EAC) – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi will learn lessons from one another – both good and bad. For example, President Nkurunziza of Burundi learnt from Rwanda that it’s OK to seek a third term of office if the first two were short and sweet. But unlike Rwanda, where they’re planning a national referendum on the issue, Burundi’s leader forgot to ask the people if they were OK with it. Meanwhile in Uganda, President Museveni can’t see what all the fuss is about. By his thinking, if the people love you, it’s fine to clear away any obstacles that might prevent them from expressing that love, like for example, term limits, which were removed from Uganda’s constitution a decade ago. In Tanzania, the opposition has decided to learn a big lesson from Kenya. [caption id="attachment_20089" align="alignright" width="300"]Has Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza (l) picked up tactics from Rwanda's Paul Kagame (r)? Has Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza (l) picked up tactics from Rwanda’s Paul Kagame (r)?[/caption] After trying and failing many times to remove President Moi and his ruling Kanu party from power, the Kenyan opposition figured that if they rallied behind only one presidential candidate, Kanu would fall. And sure enough in 2002, all the main opposition parties threw their weight behind Mwai Kibaki, under the national rainbow coalition. Kanu came tumbling down and President Moi went into retirement. Now, it’s Tanzania’s turn to try the same tactic. After weeks of discussions, the main opposition parties, who adopted the umbrella name of Ukawa, have finally agreed to support only one presidential candidate. His name is Edward Lowassa, a former prime minister in the ruling CCM party. Until recently, he could still be heard singing the ruling party’s praises, only to have a change of heart and join the opposition when his presidential ambitions in the CCM were frustrated. Mr Lowassa appears to have learnt survival skills from Amama Mbabazi in Uganda. Like Mr Lowasaa, Mr Mbabazi is also a former prime minister. Just as Mr Lowassa was a close ally of Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete, Mr Mbabazi had been the right-hand man to Uganda’s President Museveni since the 1970s. And like Mr Lowassa, Mr Mbabazi was dropped as prime minister. So for both men, when their thirst for power could not be quenched within the party, they decided to seek a refreshing drink from outside. Mr Mbabazi has now said he wants to run for president as an independent candidate in the Ugandan elections, although his arrest in July while preparing to go and canvass support showed that any campaign he attempts is likely to be fraught with challenges. As its name suggests, the ruling National Resistance Movement in Uganda has a habit of resisting things. And people. Next door in Kenya, there’s lots of talk about what’s going on in Rwanda. Both countries are going to the polls in 2017. One Kenyan on social media, who opposed moves to clear the way for President Kagame’s third term, found himself personally rebuked by the Rwandan leader. Kenyans rushed to defend their insulted compatriot, using the hashtag #SomeoneTellKagame to launch their rebuttals. [caption id="attachment_20090" align="alignleft" width="300"]Tanzania's Edward Lowassa (r) has abandoned the bright green colours of the CCM to join the opposition Tanzania’s Edward Lowassa (r) has abandoned the bright green colours of the CCM to join the opposition[/caption] Rwanda has welcomed Kenyan expertise in many sectors of its economy, but politics is one lesson it’s not too keen to learn from its neighbour, which has had its own serious problems when it comes to running elections. So, however much East Africans are listening to one another, it seems as though there are still many who are happy to ignore their neighbours and continue doing their own thing. *Source BBC]]>

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AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION CHAIRPERSON IN HIGH LEVEL DISCUSSIONS WITH KEY US REPRESENTATIVES
August 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

9896283744_637bd09d94_cThe Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma today held wide ranging discussions with a high level delegation from the United States, aimed at enhancing relations and cooperation between the USA and Africa. This is the fourth such meeting to be held between the two sides. In the meeting, attended by several US senators, house representatives and representatives of the private sector, as well as Commissioners of the AUC, Dr Dlamini Zuma briefly updated the visiting delegation on the key possible areas of enhanced cooperation. Top of the agenda was health, where the Chairperson spoke of the need for the continent to strengthen its health systems. She observed that the Ebola outbreak that took the lives of thousands of Africans provided valuable lessons for the continent for the future and has also contributed to the development of an experienced corps of health workers. However, she added that the long term solution to strengthening African health systems is to strengthen its economies. On peace and security, Dr Dlamini Zuma noted that the AU is using its peace and security architecture in conflict prevention, as well as intervening where conflicts break out. The continent, she said, has taken a decision to silence the guns so that as to develop a culture of resolving conflicts through dialogue and engagements. But, the Chairperson indicated the need for adequate and sustainable resources to execute its mandate of restoring peace. “Our biggest contribution to peace and security are the men and women on the ground. There is no lack of solidarity and determination from Africa. But we lack resources and equipment. What would be ideal is to have more predictable and sustainable resources”, she informed the visitors. Another critical factor brought up for discussion was the development and mainstreaming of youth and women in Africa. “If we don’t pay attention to youth it will be at our own peril”, Dr Dlamini Zuma cautioned, adding that the AU is concentrating on developing higher learning and skills development. She also called for more access to finance and resources for women engaged in agriculture and agro processing. The AUC Chairperson noted the use of clean energies as an area of potential cooperation between the USA and Africa, especially at this time that the continent is pushing for more development and prosperity. In order to avoid being big polluters, she said the continent should be assisted to leapfrog the use of fossil fuels and adopt renewable energy instead. The blue economy was another area brought up in the discussions, with the Chairperson saying that the continent has launched an African decade of oceans. African women, she said, have launched an organisation of women in maritime so as to be part of the development. The Chairperson also took time to explain that African Union summits offer immunity to those who attend, in the same way that pertains to delegates to the United Nations general assembly meetings. This remark was by way of explaining the attendance of the Sudanese President Mr Omar Al Bashir at the last AU summit held in Johannesburg in June this year. Other issues discussed in the meeting related to good governance, democracy and human rights, the fight against corruption, wildlife management, free movement of people and goods across the continent, infrastructure, climate change and reform of the United Nations to ensure that Africa gets permanent representation on the Security Council. In response, the head of the US delegation Senator Chris Coon expressed his appreciation for the time taken by the AUC leadership to discuss such a broad range of issues. The US ambassador to the African Union Mr Reuben Brigety attended the meeting. Apart from the Chairperson, the AUC delegation consisted of the Commissioner of Political Affairs Dr Aisha Abdulahi and the Commissioner of Social Affairs Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko and other senior members of the Commission. *AU]]>

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How similar is Chinese investment in Africa to the West’s?
August 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) meets with South African President Jacob Zuma at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 4, 2014. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) meets with South African President Jacob Zuma at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 4, 2014.[/caption] China’s economic engagement in Africa has generated a lot of controversy. Headlines in Western newspapers have read: “Into Africa: China’s Wild Rush,” or “China in Africa: Investment or Exploitation?” At the same time, China is more popular among African populations (70 percent with a favorable view) than it is in Asia, Latin America, or Europe, according to Pew surveys. The popularity is no doubt linked to the fact that African growth rates have accelerated between the 1990s and the 2000s, and China’s trade and investment is part of the reason.

A snapshot of Chinese investment in the continent

In our new paper, ““Why is China investing in Africa? Evidence from the firm level,” we investigate one part of this engagement, China’s direct investment (called overseas direct investment, ODI by the Chinese). Our main innovation is to work with the firm-level data compiled by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). All Chinese enterprises making direct investments abroad have to register with MOFCOM. The resulting database provides the investing company’s location in China and line of business. It also includes the country to which the investment is flowing, and a description in Chinese of the investment project.
However, it does not include the amount of investment. The investment to Africa over the period of 1998 to 2012 includes about 2,000 Chinese firms investing in 49 African countries. Firms often have multiple projects, so there are about 4,000 investments in the database. We think of the typical entry as a private firm that is much smaller than the big state-owned enterprises involved in the mega-deals that have captured so much attention. This data provides insight into what the Chinese private sector is doing in Africa. Based on the descriptions of the overseas investment, we categorize the projects into 25 industries covering all sectors of the economy (primary, secondary, and tertiary). The allocation of the projects across countries and across sectors provides a snapshot of Chinese private investment in Africa. Some things immediately jump out from the data. In terms of sectors, these investments are not concentrated in natural resources; services are the most common sector and there are significant investments in manufacturing as well. In terms of countries, Chinese investment is everywhere: in resource-rich countries like Nigeria and South Africa, but also in non-resource-rich countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. map_chinese_investment_africaWe then investigate the allocation of projects more rigorously. In particular, we ask whether factor endowments and other country characteristics influence the number and types of investment projects from Chinese investors. If Chinese investment is similar to other profit-oriented investment, then the number and nature of projects should be related to the factor endowments and other characteristics of the recipient countries. Indeed, we find that while Chinese ODI is less prevalent in skill-intensive sectors in Africa, it is more prevalent in the more skill-abundant countries, suggesting that Chinese investors aim to exploit the local comparative advantage. We also find that Chinese ODI is more concentrated in capital-intensive sectors in the more capital-scarce countries, suggesting its importance as a source of external financing to the continent. These patterns are mostly observed in politically unstable countries, implying firms’ stronger incentives to seek profits in tougher environments.

Prioritizing political stability

Part of the reason that our results differ from the common picture of Chinese investment in Africa is that we are looking at frequency of investment without reference to the size of the investment. We also use the aggregate data on the stock of Chinese ODI in different African countries to examine that allocation, compared to total foreign direct investment (FDI), which traditionally has mostly come from Western sources. Chinese investment may be growing rapidly, but it was only 3 percent of the stock of foreign investment in Africa at the end of 2011. The allocations of ODI and total FDI across 49 African countries have some important similarities: Both are attracted to larger markets and both are attracted to natural resource-rich countries. Many of the large Chinese investments are in energy and minerals, just as Western investment favors these natural resource projects. One important difference concerns governance: Other things equal, Western investment is concentrated in African countries with better property rights and rule of law. Chinese ODI is indifferent to the property rights/rule of law environment, and on the other hand tends to favor politically stable countries. This difference makes sense given that some significant part of the volume of Chinese investment is tied up in state-to-state resource deals. China is apparently more concerned with the political stability of the government than with the environment of rule of law in the domestic economy. In light of these different tendencies of ODI and FDI, Chinese investment tends to be a large share of total investment in countries with poor rule of law. By using both the volume data on Chinese ODI—in which the big resource deals no doubt play a dominant role—and the firm-level registration data, which is dominated by small and medium private firms, we think that we have drawn a nuanced and accurate picture of Chinese investment on the continent.
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President Obama eyes African legacy
August 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

President Obama is staking his reputation in Africa on long-term trade and leadership projects President Obama is staking his reputation in Africa on long-term trade and leadership projects[/caption]

As President Obama finished his speech to the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa last month and stepped off the stage, a tempest whipped up outside.

The trees swayed, the rain battered the domed roof of the headquarters building and, given the lecture he’d just delivered to African leaders from their own pulpit, it might well have been the ghosts of dictators past rattling the rafters. He talked about democracy and the “cancer of corruption,” but the words which reverberated across the continent were an off-script put-down of leaders who “refuse to step aside when their terms end“. The audience cheered, but not surprisingly the assembly’s seats weren’t filled by the continent’s presidents. Instead it was the AU’s commission he addressed – its secretariat. That was always the plan according to the White House.

‘I’m pretty good’

Journalists and commentators had been salivating at the prospect of America’s first black president meeting Africa’s oldest. Robert Mugabe, who’s 91, is the AU chairman, and the speech would have rattled the rafters from the inside if the heads of state had been present. “I love my work, but under our constitution I can’t run again,” President Obama said. “I actually think I’m a pretty good president – I think if I ran again I could win.”
That’s probably not true – given he’s only half as popular back in the US as he is in Kenya, the first stop on a trip hailed as a homecoming. “I don’t understand why people want to stay so long, especially when they’ve got a lot of money,” he mocked, to the loudest cheer of the day. Third-termism is catching. It’s already made a comeback in Burundi, caused a government to collapse in Burkina Faso, and appears on the cards in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of the Congo. And the three elder statesmen of the AU have racked up a hundred years in power between them. Presidents Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea (36), Mugabe of Zimbabwe (35), and Paul Biya of Cameroon (33) are the longest standing of those leaders on the continent who aren’t so keen on giving up the trappings of office.

Solar lighting system

“Sometimes you will hear a leader say ‘I’m the only person who can keep the nation together’. If that’s true that leader has failed to truly build the nation,” President Obama said in the last speech of his Africa trip, and arguably his best. He emphasised the defining themes of his visit – the significance of security, particularly the fight against extremism; trade replacing aid; the importance of youth and women, human rights and democracy; and the battle against corruption. They were points you could tick off from every speech from his very first in Kenya, where he opened the Global Entrepreneurship Summit emphasising trade and promising investment.
With him on the trip were American businessmen and at least one billionaire. He made sure to visit successful start-up companies, among them one developing a solar lighting system to bring power to the remotest of villages. Power Africa is one of his headline programmes, but has so far failed to achieve much. Big slow-burning fuses in infrastructure, agriculture, trade and young leadership are what he’s staking his legacy on. Presidents Clinton and Bush ploughed huge sums into Africa to tackle Aids and malaria – massive health challenges that needed the dollars.

Obama-mania

China is now the largest single investor in Africa and spares the AU a lecture, but President Obama hopes he can create long-lasting change – providing “not the fish, but the fishing rod” as he put it. His supporters say his African legacy may take time to build, but will bear fruit, and it’s obvious he’s keen to spend more time on the continent once he’s left office. “I’ll be honest with you,” he told the AU. “I’m looking forward to life after being the president. I won’t have this big security detail all the time… and I can visit Africa more often.” Coming to Kenya while president was an important part of plotting out that future. He bounded down the stairs from Air Force One in Nairobi, and the video clips of him dancing at the State Dinner showed the passion he has for his “ancestral home”.
And it was great PR for Kenya. Terror attacks have hit the country’s reputation hard and the first ever visit by a sitting American president did a great deal to improve that global image. There was real Obama-mania on the streets of Nairobi, despite the high security and grumbling over road closures. And he didn’t pull his punches there either – publicly clashing with President Uhuru Kenyatta over gay rights. President Obama’s renewed engagement with Africa began late in his presidency, by gathering the continent’s leaders in Washington last year, amid accusations he was playing catch-up with China. America’s commitment to resolving the crisis in South Sudan looks unlikely to succeed in the short term as it becomes increasingly complicated and difficult to undo. But it’s the long game where President Obama, “Kenya’s first American president” as he called himself, will best be judged. *Source BBC]]>

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Meet The Nigerian Doctor Who Wants to Revolutionize Health Care with a hand held hospital
August 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

Steve Ayanruoh says his Hospital in a Box is “Big enough to change the world” By Ajong Mbapndah L [caption id="attachment_19899" align="alignleft" width="323"]Dr Steve Ayanruoh Dr Steve Ayanruoh[/caption] It is a portable box, the size that will pass for hand luggage on a flight, but Nigerian born Dr Stephen Ayanruoh says “it is big enough to change the world.” A Pediatrician practicing in New York, Dr Ayanruoh says his idea could profoundly transform the delivery of health care services. “Hospital in a Box” as his invention is called is in effect a mobile hospital of sorts with most of the basic equipment that is used at any medical setting. Presenting Hospital in a box at recent investment forum in Chicago, Dr Ayanruoh said the handheld hospital can enable health care providers to perform medical examinations and share information with ease from any part of the world. The hand held hospital has a spirometer, a nebulizer, thermometer, cuff, pulse oximetry, otoscope, EKG machine and a vehicular powered adapter. Dr Ayanruoh who heads the Ruskat Medical Equipment Corp says his invention will make health care more affordable, accessible, keep digital records, while making it possible for records to be easily and securely shared. https://soundcloud.com/multimedia-podcast/dr-steve-ayanruoh-interview   Instead of people paying expensive sums to travel abroad for medical treatment, Dr Ayanruoh believes that with Hospital in a Box, even in remote parts of the world, people can have access to the best medical experts. In working on the product, Dr Ayanruoh says he had his country Nigeria and other African countries in mind eespecially with Nigeria and a number of African countries have expressed interest in the product and Dr Ayanruoh is confident that it could profoundly transform health care delivery in Africa and other parts of the world. Quizzed on the confidentiality of patient information, Dr Ayanruoh said possibilities of breaches are very limited considering that ethical standards are taken very seriously by his group. With a price tag of $27,000 on the product, Dr Ayanruoh was asked if the economic realities in Africa would not be impediment to access. What the product offers makes it cost effective Ayanruoh said. Over time using his product would enable more people have access to quality health care, and over time, the overall costs could effectively go down he said. A lot of time and resources have been devoted to fine tune and boast the efficiency of what is been offered, he said, expressing confidence on the revolution that it could bring to the delivery of health care. https://vimeo.com/52940876   Included on an upcoming multi-African nation tour of the US Trade Department, Dr Ayanruoh said he was looking forward to the opportunity to present his product health care professionals in the continent. *For more information on Hospital in a Box contact Dr Ayanruoh. Email :sayanruoh@ruskat.net, Tel:  19153213190,Cel,19147743655  ]]>

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Nigerians mourn monarch Oba Sijuwade, the Ooni of Ife
August 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

Oba Sijuwade was a successful businessman at the time he was crowned in 1980 Oba Sijuwade was a successful businessman at the time he was crowned in 1980[/caption]

A revered monarch in south-west Nigeria, the Ooni of Ife, has been buried after thousands attended his funeral, a mourner has told the BBC.

Traditional rites to honour Oba Okunade Sijuwade – a king of the Yoruba, Nigeria’s second biggest ethnic group – are being held in the city of Ife. Dignitaries, including Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, paid their respects before the private burial. The 85-year-old sovereign was crowned in 1980 and was widely respected. He died in London in July but his death was only announced on Wednesday. He was considered the most influential monarch by most Yorubas, who number about 35 million in the region. Nigeria’s many monarchs vary in hierarchy and importance and some like the Ooni of Ife and the northern emirs rule over large areas, while others are traditional rulers of a village or town. Ooni of Ife:
  • The Ooni of Ife’s kingdom is in present-day Osun state in south-west Nigeria
  • The monarch should be a direct descendant of Oduduwa, who is a Yoruba god
  • The practice of burying someone alive with king has long been abolished
Nigeria’s many monarchs Abubakar Madagali, the leader of the Hausa ethnic group in Ife, told the BBC Hausa service that both Christian and Muslim leaders offered special prayers for the late king before he was buried. The ancient city of Ife is very quiet and people are in mourning. Banks and businesses have shut, Mr Madagali said. “We have been told to close to our businesses for seven days.” Analysis: Nigerian journalist Sola Odunfa Customs were fully adhered to at the funeral for the Ooni of Ife, his body was not displayed neither was any mention made of his burial. An inter-denominational Christian religious service was organised by the royal family on the palace premises. Dignitaries, priests and a choir were there, but there was no casket. This is because in Yorubaland, which refers to south-west Nigeria, Togo and Benin, a traditional ruler does not die: He only goes on a journey to join his ancestors. The moment he dies his immediate family are required to hand over his body to a traditional “cult” – a religious secret society – which will immediately begin the necessary rites. Details of the burial will remain secret. The powerful “oro cult” has declared a night curfew on Ife, which will last seven days. Meanwhile qualified princes within Ife’s ruling houses have started putting forward their candidacy. The job of choosing a successor rests squarely on the kingmakers from within the family in consultation with their oracle, known as Ifa. They have no time limit to make their decision.
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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said the traditional ruler would be remembered for his “worthy service and invaluable contributions” to the sustenance of the cultural heritage of his people. “Oba Sijuwade had lived a very fulfilled life, and has left worthy legacies for his successors to build upon,” he said in a statement. He was a successful businessman at the time he was crowned – making much of his money from importing vehicles. A southern Christian, he was a close friend of one of Nigeria’s most revered Muslims leaders from the north, the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero. His relations with the Emir, who died last year, helped bring about peace and stability between the country’s two main religious communities. *culled from BBC]]>

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Boko Haram has been 'decapitated': Chadian leader
August 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

Chad's President Idriss Deby, pictured in Paris on May 14, 2015, declared that efforts to combat neighbouring Nigeria's Boko Haram jihadists had succeeded in "decapitating" the group (AFP Photo/Francois Guillot) Chad’s President Idriss Deby, pictured in Paris on May 14, 2015, declared that efforts to combat neighbouring Nigeria’s Boko Haram jihadists had succeeded in “decapitating” the group (AFP Photo/Francois Guillot)[/caption] N’Djamena (AFP) – Chad’s President Idriss Deby declared Tuesday that efforts to combat neighbouring Nigeria’s Boko Haram jihadists had succeeded in “decapitating” the group and would be wrapped up “by the end of the year”.

Addressing reporters in the capital N’Djamena on the 55th anniversary of Chad’s independence from France, Deby said: “Boko Haram is decapitated. There are little groups (of Boko Haram members) scattered throughout east Nigeria, on the border with Cameroon. It is within our power to definitively overcome Boko Haram.”

“The war will be short, with the setting up of the regional force, it will be over by the end of the year,” Deby added, referring to a new five-country force aimed at ending Boko Haram’s bloody six-year Islamist insurgency that he said would be “operational in a few days”.

Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria have all pledged troops towards the new force.

Deby further claimed that Boko Haram was no longer led by the fearsome Abubakar Shekau and that his successor was open to talks.

“There is someone apparently called Mahamat Daoud who is said to have replaced Abubakar Shekau and he wants to negotiate with the Nigerian government.

“For my part, I would advise not to negotiate with a terrorist,” Deby, whose country has been spearheading the regional fightback against Boko Haram, said.

While claiming progress in the fight against the jihadists, who have repeatedly hit border areas of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and wrought havoc in northeast Nigeria, Deby admitted that suicide bombers still posed a threat.

In the past few week, suicide bombers, many of them women, have staged several attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.

The challenge, Deby said, was to “avoid terrorist acts and that’s why we must organise at the regional level to prevent bomb-making materials and other explosives entering our countries.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Solar powered tablet devices for education: Akon Lighting Africa unveils its strategy in Benin
August 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

Benin is the last stop on this two-week road show during which the co-founders unveiled their long-term objective to use solar activities to drive education by introducing connected tablet devices. [caption id="attachment_19723" align="alignleft" width="586"]Presenting tablEt prototype to President of Benin Boni Yayi Presenting tablEt prototype to President of Benin Boni Yayi[/caption] Akon Lighting Africa concluded its African road show last night in Benin. The three co-founders, Akon, Thione Niang and Samba Bathily inspected the new street lamps installed in the district of Pahou, near to the capital Cotonou with Prime Minister, Mr. Lionel Zinsou. Benin is the last stop on this two-week road show during which the co-founders unveiled their long-term objective to use solar activities to drive education by introducing connected tablet devices. “The solar power we are providing can be used to connect all sorts of devices – telephones to communicate, fridges to keep food so why not to power computers too. We presented the outline of a new project we hope to launch within the next few months to supply learning devices and to set up smart schools” explained Akon. “Akon Lighting Africa is an initiative that puts top priority on African development. Access to energy will drive rapid transformations in Africa. Electrification first, education next” added Thione Niang. This stopover in Benin was also an opportunity to review progress on the solar project to date in this country. Solektra International, the main partner of Akon Lighting Africa, is just installing the last of the 1500 solar powered street lamps and 2200 solar kits agreed under the tender it won a few months ago and targeting 124 localities. “We have already installed over 75% of the equipment and the authorities are most satisfied by the work done by our teams in the field.” explained Samba Bathily, CEO of Solektra. “Benin is a strategic country. By winning this tender, we have been able to show that our approach is both solid and involves high quality solutions. We would like to thank the authorities for the confidence they have shown in us.” Cotonou was the last stopover of a road show that started with the Global Entrepreneurship Summit on July 24th and which toured Kenya, Rwanda, Congo-Brazzaville, Nigeria, Niger and Benin. It was an opportunity to have productive discussions, in particular with local agencies responsible for rural electrification, to identify opportunities for deploying the solar solutions proposed by Solektra international. Various authorities have shown interest in this initiative and its proposed ‘prefinancing’ business model. By multiplying the number of pilot schemes or participating in tenders, Akon Lighting Africa and Solektra International is hoping to quickly achieve its objective to establish a presence in 25 countries by the end of 2016. akon-lighting-africa-logoAkon Lighting Africa aims to provide tangible solutions to the African energy crisis and create a future for Africa. This initiative launched in February 2014 by international music star Akon, youth leader Thione Niang and entrepreneur Samba Bathily has one clear objective: to use innovative solar solutions to provide villages throughout Africa with access to clean electricity. Thanks to its public-private partnership model and network of world class partners, in under a year, this initiative has driven a series of high quality solar developments including the installation of street lamps, domestic and community kits in 14 countries throughout Africa. Incorporated in New York, United States, and with offices in a number of African countries, Solektra International is focusing on two business strategies to promote African development: the use of solar power to provide access to clean water and electricity. Founded by Samba Bathily, Akon and Thione Niang, Solektra International is one of a new generation of African businesses that are investing in driving growth and employment throughout Africa in association with numerous leading international partners. Solektra International currently has a presence in 14 countries – Mali, Senegal, Niger, Benin, Sierra Leone, Burkina-Faso, the Republic of Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Nigeria, Madagascar, Namibia and Kenya. *APO]]>

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Africa50 raises USD 830 million for infrastructure in Africa
July 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

The new and innovative infrastructure investment platform promoted by the African Development Bank held its Constitutive General Assembly on the 29th of July 2015 africa50Africa50 , the new and innovative infrastructure investment platform promoted by the African Development Bank held its Constitutive General Assembly on the 29th of July 2015 in Casablanca, Morocco. Twenty (20) African countries and the African Development Bank have subscribed for an initial aggregate amount of USD 830 million in share capital. These founding African countries are Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, The Gambia and Togo. While this first closing was available only to African countries, it is anticipated that the second and subsequent closings will be available not only to African countries that are yet to invest in Africa50, but also non-sovereign investors both in Africa and outside Africa. The second closing is expected before the end of 2015. Speaking at this historic event, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President of African Development Bank and current Chairman of the Boards of Directors of Africa50, said “the large presence of African States and their financial commitments are a testimony to a shared vision to find new ways to accelerate the provision of infrastructure. Africa50 will be a step change for infrastructure financing and development in Africa”. Africa50’s raison d’être is to mobilize long-term savings within and outside Africa for the financing of commercially viable infrastructure projects across Africa. Through an integrated approach, Africa50 will invest in African infrastructure projects at scale along the entire project finance value chain leveraging its innovative Project Finance and Project Development windows. The strong expression of commitment today by the African countries is a necessary first step towards attracting institutional investors, including sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, insurance companies and other sources of long-term finance around the world. Africa50’s medium term capitalization is projected to reach USD 3 billion. [caption id="attachment_19641" align="alignright" width="500"]Africa50 has held its first constitutive General Assembly this Wednesday 29 July 2015 in Casablanca Africa50 has held its first constitutive General Assembly this Wednesday 29 July 2015 in Casablanca[/caption] During the Constitutive General Meeting, Africa50’s founding members signed the articles of incorporation, which enshrine the highest standards of corporate governance. Africa50 is headquartered in Casablanca, Morocco. A headquarters agreement was signed with the Kingdom of Morocco that confers upon Africa50 a range of privileges and immunities similar to those enjoyed by the African Development Bank. Other decisions taken at the meeting included the appointments of the members of the Boards of Directors of the Project Finance and Project Development vehicles and also the appointment of KPMG as external auditors. Mr. Mohamed Boussaid, the Minister of Finance for the Kingdom of Morocco stated that Africa50 is an idea whose time has come and that the Constitutive General Assembly is an important first step towards making it a reality. The newly elected Boards of Directors met after the Constitutive General Assembly and have launched the recruitment of the Chief Executive Officer of Africa50 through an international competitive selection process. In the meantime, the Board has appointed Mr. Alassane Ba as the acting Chief Executive Officer, as part of measures to immediately operationalize Africa50. Africa50 expects to start developing and financing projects before the end of 2015. Africa50 is an innovative vehicle promoted by the African Development Bank  and designed to help accelerate infrastructure development in Africa. Africa50 has two main operating windows: Project Financing and Project Development. Both are incorporated in Casablanca, Morocco and enjoy certain privileges and immunities. While adopting a strong public private sector approach in the development of its business, Africa50 is founded on the highest corporate governance, ethical, financial, environmental and social responsibility frameworks. *AFDB/APO]]>

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