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Obama's U.S.-Africa Forum Will Catalyze $14 Billion In Business Deals
August 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

Michael Bloomberg and Penny Pritzker* [caption id="attachment_10826" align="alignleft" width="570"]President Obama Speaks at the Presidential Summit for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders President Obama Speaks at the Presidential Summit for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders[/caption] “Africa is no longer a sleeping giant but is awake and open for business.” These words from a rising South African leader at last week’s Young African LeadersSummit could not be more accurate: Africa might well be the biggest market opportunity in the global economy today, and U.S. companies cannot afford to miss out. For decades, the U.S.-Africa economic relationship has too often taken a back seat to other pressing issues and priorities. Yet right now, our commercial partnership—between governments, among businesses, in markets on both sides of the Atlantic—is as important as ever. Strengthening and deepening that pillar of our alliance will prove a net gain for workers, entrepreneurs, and communities in the United States and across Africa. The continent’s economic potential is enormous. Africa is home to six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies. Its GDP is expected to rise six percent annually over the next decade. Real income has increased more than 30% over the last 10 years, and many African governments are making investments in infrastructure, education, and health care that are improving millions of lives. Yet investment by U.S. companies in Africa remains too low.

This fact has negative consequences for the U.S. and African economies, and it is one of the reasons that Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Commerce are co-hosting the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum, as part of President Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit. The forum is a chance for President Obama and 45 African heads of state to talk directly with CEOs from both sides of the Atlantic, and for businesses to learn more about potential investment opportunities. We came together to host the Business Forum out of a sense of real urgency. In the years to come, as Africa accounts for an increasing share of the world market, companies that want to remain competitive globally will need to have an African presence. The growing demand for goods and services in Africa can increase U.S. exports and create more jobs here at home, and more trade and investment in Africa will be critical to America’s leadership in the global economy. At the same time, American companies bring unique experience and expertise that can help African countries meet their development goals. Make no mistake: the U.S.-Africa relationship is a two-way street. America and Africa have a lot to gain through closer economic ties. And to start, we expect today’s forum to serve as a catalyst for more than $14 billion in business deals with benefits that travel in both directions across the Atlantic.
mV4YraUmilDluxvjnWg_TusKaroNm8umNDEbLMJhG6tM4n6BaNyZ-C2Ew1xxRd0nT3AjdZsr93rpCeFliJPKuuT0GYp-hU2OFxhiNniwf5zT_pARUPVlKT54xmSPe8IqIgWe know what is possible when American companies work hand-in-hand with African counterparts: we can help raise living standards and pave the way for future growth. For example, IBM IBM -0.8% has opened Africa’s first major commercial technology research lab in Kenya to pioneer consumer-facing innovations aimed at African markets. Even a smaller enterprise like Charlotte, North Carolina-based SEWW Energy is leading the way to upgrade Accra’s electricity grid. We have only begun to scratch the surface, and we are both acting to strengthen this partnership. The Obama Administration’s SelectUSA initiative – the first government-wide effort to attract and retain investment in the United States that is housed at the Commerce Department – works every day to encourage investment by African firms in U.S. communities, which will support and create American jobs. In May, the Commerce Department led a trade mission to Ghana and Nigeria with 20 U.S. energy companies that want to bring electricity to the 600 million Africans who still lack it. Those investments will improve lives and bring revenue to American companies, while helping create conditions for further investment in Africa. Bloomberg LP has worked with 15 market exchanges in regions across Africa to make local market data more accessible, reliable, and transparent. This is helping African companies raise money to invest, expand, and create jobs – and helping better connect Africa to the global economy. Africa’s economic ascent is still just beginning. The U.S.-Africa Business Forum will serve as a reminder that both Africa and America are awake and open for business. And by investing in our partnership, we will invest in prosperity on either side of the Atlantic. *Source Forbes .Mr. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP, was the 108th mayor of New York City. Ms. Pritzker is the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.  
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Africa Will be unbeatable when it speaks with One Voice Says Zuma at Africa House Inauguration
August 4, 2014 | 1 Comments

Left to right Assistant Secretary Greenfield, AU Ambassador to US Amina Ali, and AU Chair Dr Dlamini Zuma Left to right Assistant Secretary Greenfield, AU Ambassador to US Amina Ali, and AU Chair Dr Dlamini Zuma[/caption] African Union Chair Dlamini Zuma painted a rosy perspective of Africa as the continent grapples with current challenges. Speaking at the inaugural reception of Africa House, the name of the African Union Mission in Washington,DC, Ambassador Zuma said, once Africa eventually comes round to speaking in one voice, the continent will live up to its incredible potential. Addressing a full house which included Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Thomas Greenfield, representatives from African Diplomatic Corps, Famed Hollywood Actors like Lou Gossett Jnr, Africans and African Americans, Ambassador Zuma harped on the theme of unity and highlighted the need for Africans to work as one in building a better future. Such a future includes food sustainability, better infrastructure, gender equality and peace, the African Union Chair said. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61u26vOaDcw&feature=player_detailpage#t=20     Drawing inspiration from a poem by Kenya’s Anna Mwalagho and electrifying music presentations by Uganda’s George Okudi, Zuma lauded the talent of young Africans , while lauding the African Union Mission in Washington DC, for providing a place that Africans and their Diaspora friends can call home. In an earlier word of welcome, the African Union Envoy to the USA, Amina Ali, said the African House will serve as home to all from the continent and its Diaspora.  Rich in animation and emotions, the inauguration also had the strong participation of the African Diaspora considered as the 6th Region of the African Union. Prominent attendees at the inaugural reception included the African Union Vice Chair Erastus Mwencha, the USA Ambassador to the African Union Reuben Brigety,  and Mel Foote of the Constituency for Africa Located on Wisconsin Avenue, the African Union Office is an imposing three storey edifice with offices, conference rooms, and a translation booth.  Its inauguration was part of several events taking place as part of the maiden USA-Africa Leaders Summit .  ]]>

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The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: What are Indicators of a Successful Summit?
August 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

aa-obama-africax-largeMuch has been written about the first U.S-Africa Leaders Summit scheduled for the first week of August 2014. Commentaries have varied in tone, with many critical of the summit’s organization and expectations (for examples of these critical stances see Foreign Policy’sGordon Lubold and the Corporate Council on Africa’s Stephen Hayes). Others have been complementary and consider the summit an important step in solidifying durable and positive U.S.-Africa relations (Amadou Sy responded to criticism that the summit is already “bungled” and Dane Erickson addressed the perception that U.S. is primarily using the summit to compete with China in Africa). The summit’s schedule of events includes several public meetings involving civil society, the public sector and the private sector. A wide range of issues such as the African Growth and Opportunity ActPower Africa, investing in women and youth, peace and security, health, food security, and the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals will be part of the public schedule. These events are expected to strengthen various dimensions of U.S.-Africa relations. Nevertheless, the primary focus of the event is the meeting between the African leaders and President Obama. No doubt there will be many post-summit commentaries with a focus on the success and failures as perceived by various analysts. Unfortunately, such commentaries are unlikely to be based on what should be clearly pre-defined indicators of a successful summit.  Here I propose what I consider to be some important—though not exhaustive— indicators of a successful summit:

1. A Tangible Plan of Action and Commitments

Many valid questions remain as to the expected outcome of the summit, and especially if indeed the meetings with the African leaders will end up with a tangible plan of action that will forge closer ties between Africa and the United States, ultimately promoting development on the continent. For the summit to be considered a success there would have to be firm commitments from both the African and American leadership in regard to specific actions on the part of African governments and U.S. government. In essence, the final communique should go beyond mere statements of what leaders say without a firm plan of action.

2. Effective/Coherent Participation of the African Leaders

According to the program that has been released, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit will focus on three broad topics: Investing in Africa’s Future, Peace and Regional Stability, and Governing for the Next Generation. While these topics are important, it is not quite clear what the contribution of Africans was in the formulation of this agenda. Nevertheless, given the large number of African leaders, the short duration of the summit and, thus, the impracticability of holding bilateral talks with President Obama, it is not quite apparent that the African leaders will have the opportunity to fully participate in meaningful dialogue. One concern is that the summit might turn out to be more of a lecture from the U.S. president—which would be an indicator of failure. A critical success indicator then is the extent to which the African leaders effectively participate so that their views shape the future of U.S.-African relations. Presumably the leaders will have already agreed on positions to bring to the table and will have the opportunity to impact the final plan of action.

3. Alignment with African Development Priorities and Strategies

The various topics to be discussed at the summit are quite relevant to Africa’s development and indeed to the United States. In this respect, the final plan of action should reflect issues that matter to both Africans and Americans.  Of concern, however, is that some key African development priorities may not get the attention they demand.  For example, the centerpiece of Africa’s growth and development strategy today is regional integration and, from the summit’s agenda, it is not quite apparent that strategies to advance regional integration will feature prominently in the discussion. Another priority for which U.S.-Africa collaboration is critical is curtailing illicit financial flows. While the summit will focus on increasing trade and investment, failure to address strategies that seek to reduce the corrupt flow of resources from Africa is bound to neutralize expected gains. Presumably these development priorities and strategies will be incorporated into the summit’s discussions and plan of action. Thus, a key indicator of the success of the summit will be the alignment of key African development priorities and strategies in the deliberations.

4. From Unilateralism to Mutualism

Currently, U.S.-Africa relations are defined by unilateralism, with United States largely extending benefits to Africa. This relationship is, for example, the case with the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which grants Africans quota and duty-free access to the American market. Likewise, the U.S. has several aid programs in the various countries. Certainly these and many other such initiatives will continue to define U.S.-Africa relations. Nevertheless, the summit should go beyond a focus of one-sided transfer of benefits to a relationship defined by mutualism—with both sides benefitting and sharing responsibilities.  Thus, an important indicator of the success of the summit should be an outcome of a relationship that reflects mutualism.

5. Institutionalization for Sustainability

Being the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, there are bound to be numerous organizational challenges. Notwithstanding such challenges, this first summit represents an important milestone in the U.S.-Africa relations and President Obama deserves credit for the bold initiative. If nothing else, the summit will highlight the increasing importance of Africa in the world, which is in itself an important output and an indicator of success. However, the critical indicator of success here is what happens in the future. Specifically, the outcome of the summit should include strategies and plans to institutionalize future summits so that they are part of U.S. foreign policy. Institutionalization should define the character of future summits, including frequency and the process of agenda setting. Although the idea of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is an Obama administration initiative, institutionalization is necessary to ensure that such summits will be held post the Obama era. Strategies to institutionalize the summit so that it is part and parcel of U.S. foreign policy with clearly defined goals and objectives will therefore be an important indicator of success. *Source Brookings .Mwangi S. Kimenyi is senior fellow and director of the Africa Growth Initiative and currently serves as advisory board member of the School of Economics, University of Nairobi.]]>

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Who will succeed Mugabe?
July 31, 2014 | 1 Comments

By Takura Zhangazha*

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Photo: Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Photo: Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

President Robert Mugabe has served as the head of Zimbabwe’s government for 34 years. But even his biggest fans know it is almost impossible that he continues until the end of his current presidential term. Who will succeed him? Two factions have emerged.

 

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has served in an executive capacity as head of the country’s government for 34 years.

In the process, he has come to be viewed as both an icon of African liberation struggles against colonialism as well as an impediment to post-independence developmental progress.

At the age of 90, Mugabe no longer just represents his own generation, but at least two of them, not only by way of his own participation in the liberation of his own country and Africa but also by way of his example of how to lead a post-independence African government.

He is regularly applauded when he goes to public events in African countries, not least because he has come to represent one of the old guard of African liberation struggles.

Of those African leaders who can claim to have been close to the beginning of liberation struggles, Mugabe stands side by side with Abdel Azziz Bouteflika of Algeria, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola and Armando Guebuza of Mozambique. The latter three have however not been at the helm of their respective countries for the entirety of the period since national independence. In fact all of them came to power well after their respective countries independence.

The more significant question is what the impact of Mugabe’s departure will mean for Zimbabwe

So Zimbabwe’s long serving President is unique in that he remains the only immediate post-independence head of government who is still serving in the same capacity in contemporary African politics. And controversially so.

Under his tenure as head of both the Zimbabwean state and its government, Mugabe has presided over periods of stability, allegations of ethnic cleansing, neo-liberal economic policies as well as allegations of human rights violations.

He has also been applauded in the country and on the continent for remaining true to some of the fundamental objectives of the liberation struggle, even if radically or expediently so. Particularly where it concerns the issue of addressing colonial imbalances over and about land ownership.

Despite the demonization or praise, Mugabe is at the end of his long political career. From liberator to government leader who has failed to make his country a model of economic success and back to a re-imagined liberator role again, the Zimbabwean president is now at the long anticipated twilight of his political career.

Even if one is an aficionado of the man, it is well nigh impossible that he can continue – at least coherently – until the end of his current presidential term.

The emerging question has been for both locals and the international community: “Who takes over after Mugabe?”

An initial answer to that question resides in the new Zimbabwean constitution wherein his successor is generally deemed to be his first vice president. Currently this is Vice President Joice Mujuru, a liberation war veteran who has served in every cabinet since 1980. In terms of Zimbabwe’s new constitution she is automatically in line to succeed Mugabe should he become incapacitated or retire. She will however also require a nomination from her party in order to serve out any remainder of Mugabe’s term.

It is however the succession to Mugabe as party President and First Secretary of Zanu PF that is much more contentious. Two factions have emerged, one led by Mujuru and the other by current Minister of Justice, Emmerson Mnangagwa. He has also been in cabinet since 1980. Both have however publicly denied leading any such factions and have also pledged loyalty to the incumbent.

The dilemma of Mugabe’s succession is therefore primarily a problem for the ruling party

The dilemma of Mugabe’s succession is therefore primarily a problem for the ruling party. It has known no other leader since the late 1970s and all attempts to remove him from office in between have been futile. It is only largely due to his advancement in age and the inevitable health problems that come with it that have made the succession issue much starker.

Contenders for the throne: liberation war veteran and Vice President Joice Mujuru and current Minister of Justice Emmerson Mnangagwa

Contenders for the throne: liberation war veteran and Vice President Joice Mujuru and current Minister of Justice Emmerson Mnangagwa

Zanu Pf is due to hold an elective congress in December this year and that, perhaps, is where it will become clearer as to who is likely to succeed its nonagenarian leader. Barring an instruction from Mugabe himself to exclude her, Mujuru is likely to retain the post of second vice president and by dint of the same, remain in line to succeed Mugabe.

The more significant question however is what the impact of Mugabe’s departure from political office will mean for Zimbabwe. If it is a smooth succession, that is, one that is foreseen and understood, with Mugabe deliberately handing over power, it will not affect the broader political environment. In fact it will probably lead to a new engagement paradigm for Zimbabwe in international relations and politics.

If it is sudden, due to physical incapacity or other unforeseen circumstances, it will cause some political anxiety within the ruling party and in the country. But given the constitutional clauses that outline how succession is undertaken, together with the two-thirds majority Zanu PF has in Parliament, the anxiety will only be in the corridors of power and not widespread. Even the opposition will probably applaud his departure without gaining any new political impetus.

And that sums up Mugabe’s legacy, always maintaining a benevolent but repressive political stability in the country while at the same time refusing to understand that because time and politics are intertwined, at one point or the other a leader has to make way for others. Sooner rather than later.

At this stage, it would be too early to say the country will miss him when he leaves political office. It has known only him as its president and one would be hard placed to measure how much he would be missed until a successor president assumes office.

*thisisafrica .Takura is a renowned blogger, social, economic and human rights activist based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

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The world’s $58 billion scam of Africa
July 26, 2014 | 1 Comments

Palesa Mazamisa*   [caption id="attachment_10544" align="alignleft" width="300"]British Prime Minister David Cameron debates with South African President Jacob Zuma on his 2011 visit to several African countries. Photo: Frans Sello waga Machate British Prime Minister David Cameron debates with South African President Jacob Zuma on his 2011 visit to several African countries. Photo: Frans Sello waga Machate[/caption] Leaders like British Prime Minister David Cameron have said that aid sceptics are wrong. Aid is essential. Conditions on the African continent demonstrate that perhaps aid in its current form is wrong. In fact, aid blinds us to the fleecing of the continent. ‘The idea that we are aiding Africa is flawed; it is Africa that is aiding the rest of the world.’ This statement opens the July 2014 Health Poverty Action report Honest Accounts: The true story of Africa’s billion dollar losses. The report broaches the self-propagating global myth that Africa, that dark and hapless ‘country’, is in perpetual need of aid in some form – financial, technical, military, or other. Irrespective of whether governments request aid or not, they will get it. And yes, that includes the generosity of celebrity-types and fashion-forwards without whom the continent surely would simply vanish from the consciousness of the global community. Not so, according to the report, which includes contributors the Jubilee Debt Campaign, the Tax Justice Network, and the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development, among others. This quantitative study reveals findings that could be called a 419 scam of epic proportions. The scam, euphemistically couched in political jargon as ‘international aid’, ‘donor funding’ or ‘foreign direct investment’, essentially legitimises the draining of the continent’s resources through a combination of debt creation, repatriation of multinational company profits, illicit financial outflows, tax avoidance and evasion, illegal fishing and logging and other outflows. In financial terms, the report illustrates the loss to Africa as follows: • $46.3 billion in profits made by multinational companies • $21 billion in debt payments, often following irresponsible loans • $35.3 billion in illicit financial flows facilitated by the global network of tax havens • $23.4 billion in foreign currency reserves given as loans to other governments • $17 billion in illegal logging • $1.3 billion in illegal fishing • $6 billion as a result of the migration of skilled workers from Africa • $10.6 billion to adapt to the effects of climate change that it did not cause • $26 billion to promote low carbon economic growth   The-big-picture-is-different-from-what-is-universally-believed-about-aid-to-Africa-1024-x-768   Those figures represent a net loss of $58 billion for the continent. Is this aiding Africa? Not entirely. Beyond the figures, the real impact of the activities result in the stifling of development and opportunities for ordinary citizens across the continent. Irresponsible lending on the part of foreign governments and institutions like the IMF, combined with irresponsible borrowing by African governments lock respective and successive governments into an abyss of continual debt repayments. Tax avoidance and evasion by multinational corporations, as well as the under-pricing of assets and repatriation of profit to their countries of origin or tax havens, deprive African governments of much needed taxes to their budgets. This added with what are often exploitative employment practices, something that the recent mining strike in South Africa highlighted, demonstrates that unregulated foreign direct investment is not automatically the panacea for economic problems on the continent. Similarly, illegal fishing and logging not only represent a financial loss to countries, but it further devastates the ecosystem, not to mention robs local fishermen of participating in generating their own incomes as they have done for generations. It is disturbing that in 2014, the Honest Report produces those particular findings. With that said, it would be surprising if the findings still elicit any sense of shock. The evidence of the fleecing of Africa is all around with high levels of poverty and unemployment, the poor quality of life and health, the indignity of living under governments rife with corruption and general disregard for the average citizen. It is a cycle of perversity that has been talked about during and post-colonisation. As we continue to raise the issues and fight for social and economic justice, it appears as though the continent is further mired into this cycle of depravity. This, as we realise that the findings demonstrate a reconstitution, and some might say reconfirmation, of established patterns of power. The-in-and-out-flows-show-the-unbalanced-reality-of-aid-to-Africa-1024-x-768   But all is not lost. In the same manner that neo-colonialism has had a make-over, replaced its fangs with crowns and veneers, so can the campaign for social and economic justice on the continent obtain a new look. The effect of a global economy that continues to plunge countries into financial The-words-of-first-democratically-elected-leader-of-the-DRC-Patrice-Lumumba-have-yet-to-materialise-635-x-391distress (see also here) is increasingly waking up the consciousness of citizens across the world. From the streets of Madrid, to Athens, and St. Louis, global citizens are faced with the fact that the exploitative practices by a few in positions of power in the political and business sectors, like cancer, will eventually spread throughout the globe. What hurts Africa, hurts the world, and vice versa. Perhaps this realisation will drive the need for meaningful change. The answers and solutions exist. They have been provided by many over the years, including in this report. It’s now time to roll up our sleeves and be committed to implementing them without feeding the need to acquiesce to those in power. So, honestly, to naked profiteering disguised as aid and investment, it’s time to say, thank you, but no thanks. We’ll figure it out in a manner that serves humanity as whole. Not just the privileged few. *Source thisisafrica]]>

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Nigeria has the potential to become a major economic force in the coming decades – McKinsey report
July 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

The report finds that Nigeria has the potential to expand its economy by roughly 7.1 percent per year through 2030 There is no disguising the challenges that Nigeria is facing. The world is well aware of the concerns around terrorism and Nigeria’s ongoing struggle with poverty. [caption id="attachment_10523" align="alignleft" width="300"]Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan[/caption] However, there is another side to the Nigeria story that has been overshadowed both by the recent headlines and the persistence of outdated beliefs and assumptions about Nigeria’s economy. A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) (http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi) and McKinsey’s Nigeria office (http://www.mckinsey.com), Nigeria’s renewal: Delivering inclusive growth in Africa’s largest economy, examines the country’s economic potential and finds that with the right reforms and investments, it can become one of the world’s leading economies by 2030. Since 1999, Nigeria has proven to be both politically and economically stable and new data released this year show that it is now the largest economy in Africa, in addition to being the most populous.(1)  The new data also show that Nigeria’s economy is far more diverse than previously understood. While the nation’s rich oil reserves remain a critical source of government income and exports, the entire resources sector today is only 14 percent of GDP. Agriculture and trade are larger and faster-growing. It is also not generally recognized that Nigerian productivity, which remains low, has been growing recently and now contributes more to GDP growth than does the expanding population. “What people overlook is Nigeria’s extraordinary advantages for future growth, including a large consumer market, a strategic geographic location, and a young and highly entrepreneurial population,” says Reinaldo Fiorini, director and location manager of McKinsey’s Lagos office. The results of Nigeria’s progress, however, have not been spread evenly across its economy. More than 40 percent of Nigerians live below the nation’s official poverty line and 130 million (74 percent of the population) live below the MGI Empowerment Line(2)—a level of income and access to vital services that provides a decent standard of living. Chief reasons for Nigeria’s persistent poverty include low farm productivity due to limited access to fertilizer and mechanized tools, and inefficient markets. At the same time, urbanization has not raised incomes the way it has in other developing economies. This is because formal job creation and skill development in Nigeria’s cities have been weak, making productivity in urban sectors such as manufacturing lower than in agriculture. [caption id="attachment_10519" align="alignright" width="197"]Reinaldo Fiorini, director and location manager of McKinsey’s Lagos office Reinaldo Fiorini, director and location manager of McKinsey’s Lagos office[/caption] Looking ahead, the report finds that Nigeria has the potential to expand its economy by roughly 7.1 percent per year through 2030, raising GDP to more than $1.6 trillion. This could make Nigeria a top-20 global economy—with higher GDP than the Netherlands, Thailand, or Malaysia in 2030.What’s more a large consuming class is developing in Nigeria, with potentially as many as 160 million members by 2030, more than the current populations of France and Germany combined.  This upside scenario is based on a bottom-up analysis of the potential for five major sectors of the Nigerian economy: –        Trade. Based on an expanding consumer class in Nigeria, MGI projects that consumption could more than triple, rising from $388 billion a year today to $1.4 trillion a year in 2030, an annual increase of about 8 percent. This would make trade the largest sector of the economy and provides a particularly good opportunity for makers of packaged foods and fast-moving consumer items such as juices, which could grow by more than 10 percent per year. –        Agriculture. Improvements on several fronts can help raise both the volume and value of Nigerian agricultural production in the next 15 years. The sector, which is now the largest at 22 percent of GDP, could more than double from $112 billion per year in 2013 to $263 billion by 2030. This would require raising yields through greater use of fertiliser, seeds, and mechanized implements; shifting the crop mix to more valuable crops; increasing the amount of land under cultivation; reducing post-harvest losses; and raising more livestock and increasing the output of forestry and fisheries. –        Infrastructure. On average, the value of a nation’s core infrastructure—roads, railways, ports, airports, the electrical system—is about 70 percent of GDP; in Nigeria, core infrastructure is estimated to be about 35 – 40 percent of GDP. It has one-seventh the roads per kilometer as India. On a per capita basis, Nigeria has one-third the residential buildings of Indonesia and one-sixth of the commercial space. Between core infrastructure and real estate, total infrastructure investments in Nigeria could reach $1.5 trillion between 2014 and 2030. This would not only make infrastructure building a major contributor to GDP, but also an enabler of growth across the economy. –        Manufacturing. Manufacturing in Nigeria remains at a relatively early stage of development, contributing $35 billion, or about 7 percent of GDP, in 2013. It has, however, achieved strong growth recently, with output rising by 13 percent per year from 2010 to 2013.  Based on current trends, this could yield a four-fold increase in manufacturing output by 2030, to $144 billion per year (an annual growth rate of 8.7 percent). Local processing (packaged foods, for example) and commodities would continue to be the largest manufacturing industries in Nigeria. –        Oil and gas. While the oil and gas sector is expected to grow by 2.3 percent per year at best, its success is still vital to the Nigerian economy. With the right reforms, liquids production could increase from 2.35 million barrels a day on average to a new high of 3.13 million barrels a day by 2030, contributing $22 billion to GDP by 2030. Natural gas output could grow by as much as 6 percent per year, adding $13 billion to GDP by 2030. In total, the oil and gas sector has the potential to contribute $108 billion per year by 2030, up from $73 billion in 2013. However, this assumes that the sector is successful in dealing with current obstacles such as security and can attract fresh investment. If Nigeria can better link growth to poverty reduction, 70 million citizens could be lifted out of poverty and 120 million could have the resources to reach the Empowerment Line. We estimate that, under the most favorable circumstances, for each percent of GDP growth, poverty would be reduced by 0.20 percent, a rate that is between the ratios of Brazil (0.15) and Ghana (0.25). Tying growth to rising living standards across the economy will depend on raising farm incomes and creating more formal urban jobs. It will also require actions by the government—including reconsidering tariffs that raise the cost of imported food and re-prioritizing government spending needed to programmes that lead to economic empowerment. While government has put in place clear strategies and plans for various sectors, the most important step that government can take now is to improve its ability to deliver its programs and services. These range from “safety-net” support payments to the poor, to health care, education and infrastructure. [caption id="attachment_10520" align="alignleft" width="208"]Acha Leke, a director in McKinsey’s Nigeria office Acha Leke, a director in McKinsey’s Nigeria office[/caption] Nigeria trails peer economies on metrics such as child mortality and literacy. Basic literacy among 15- to24-year-olds—a crucial indicator for potential economic success—is just 66 percent, compared with 99 percent in South Africa, for example. A critical initiative for Nigeria, then, will be to adopt the best practices that have been well established around the world for improving delivery of government services. These include selecting strong, empowered leadership, raising pressure for government departments and agencies to perform, using “delivery units” (dedicated multi-disciplinary teams that can work across bureaucracies), and collaborating with the private sector and other stakeholders. Nigeria can also capitalize on several favorable trends such as rising demand from emerging economies, growing global demand for resources, and the spread of the digital economy. Nigeria also has a young and rapidly-growing population and an advantageous geographic location in West Africa, which enables trade within the continent and with Europe and North and South America. “By capitalizing on its strengths and positioning itself to take advantage of emerging global trends, Nigeria could potentially triple its GDP by 2030,” says Acha Leke, a director in McKinsey’s Nigeria office. “This adds up to a huge opportunity for inclusive growth that should not be missed.”     *in partnership with APO.View complete report here ]]>

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100th Day Anniversary Of Abductions: Jonathan Tells Chibok Parents Government Doing ‘Everything’ To #BringBackOurGirls
July 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Goodluck Jonathan meeting with some of the Chiboks girls who escaped from Boko haram in Abuja today State House Photo President Goodluck Jonathan meeting with some of the Chiboks girls who escaped from Boko haram in Abuja today
State House Photo[/caption] President Goodluck Jonathan today in Abuja told members of the Chibok community, hundreds of whose daughters were abducted by Boko Haram militants exactly 100 days ago, that his administration is doing “everything humanly possible” to rescue them. Mr. Jonathan spoke during a belated meeting in the presidential villa with parents of the abducted girls, some of the girls who escaped from their abductors, and leaders of the community. It was his first meeting with the parents, and he appealed for their patience, understanding and cooperation, presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said in a statement. Mr. Jonathan has never been to Chibok, and his government responded to the abductions by spending weeks questioning that they ever happened in the first place.  Critics say that mistake gave Boko Haram the space and time to split up the girls and make them hard to find. “Anyone who gives you the impression that we are aloof and that we are not doing what we are supposed to do to get the girls out is not being truthful,” he said, trying to parry widespread criticism of his government. Mr. Jonathan further told his visitors: “Our commitment is not just to get the girls out, it is also to rout Boko Haram completely from Nigeria. But we are very, very mindful of the safety of the girls. We want to return them all alive to their parents. If they are killed in any rescue effort, then we have achieved nothing.” He noted that that although he was yet to visit Chibok since the abductions, his heart was constantly with its traumatized parents and people, and his desire was to visit them when their daughters have been freed and they can receive him with smiling faces of joy, rather than with tears of anguish. Apparently sensing the weight of heavy expectations, Mr. Jonathan told the parents that the occasion was not the time for “talking much,” but for action. “We will get to the time that we will tell stories. We will get to the time that we will celebrate and I assure you that, by God’s grace, that time will come soon.” According to Mr. Abati, the event, which was held behind closed doors, was also attended by Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and the Senate President, Senator David Mark. National Security Chiefs, Ministers and other senior government officials were also present at the meeting. “Other speakers at the meeting included a district head, Mr. Zannamadu Usman, a member of the Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Aminu Foni Chibok, parents of the abducted girls and three of the girls who escaped from their captors, Godia Simon, Dorcas Musa and Joy Bishara,” and that the community’s address to the President was presented by Dr. Pogu Bitrus. Strangely, the State House statement presented a heavily one-sided report of the occasion.  It appeared that a clear decision was made to scrupulously suppress the statements delivered on the occasion by the visitors, but the parents appeared to have begged Mr. Jonathan to do more to protect them. [caption id="attachment_10488" align="alignright" width="300"]President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticised for not meeting parents earlier President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticised for not meeting parents earlier[/caption] “Responding to appeals from the community leaders for more help in overcoming some of the challenges imposed on Chibok and neighbouring communities by the Boko Haram insurgency, the President said that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Federal Medical Agencies will intensify their efforts to provide them with additional relief aid and assistance,” Abati wrote. He said Mr. Jonathan also assured them that Chibok and other communities in the three North-Eastern States most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency will be the first beneficiaries of the Victims’ Support Fund, the Presidential Initiative for the North-East, the Safe Schools Initiative and other developmental programmes which the Federal Government is evolving to address the damage, losses, setbacks, economic and social dislocations occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency.” According to the spokesman, Governor Shettima called for “more sobriety, reflection and unity of purpose” in the fight against terrorism in the country, but it was not clear to whom those words were specifically addressed, as it could not have been the victims. The governor was said to have pledged that Borno State will give President Jonathan the fullest possible support for his efforts to address the problems caused by terrorism and the Boko Haram insurgency. *Source Sahara Reporters ]]>

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Congolese: Returning home and building a dream
July 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Daisy Carrington and Dianne McCarthy* [caption id="attachment_10436" align="alignleft" width="300"]Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has found itself in the middle of a construction boom over the past decade. The economy has also been given a jolt by the entrepreneurial spirit of Congolese returning home from abroad. Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has found itself in the middle of a construction boom over the past decade. The economy has also been given a jolt by the entrepreneurial spirit of Congolese returning home from abroad.[/caption] Kinshasa hasn’t had an easy time of it. A decade ago, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo was a broken city, ravaged by years of war and infighting. Of late, however, Kinshasa has witnessed a resurgence, with many expatriated Congolese returning to build a new city. “When I came back, people thought I was crazy. “[They would ask], ‘why would you go into a country where there is war? Where nothing is working? Why not stay in the States and make your life?'” says Joss Ilunga Dijimba, who returned to Kinshasa in 1996 after studying in America. Today, Dijimba runs his own eponymous business, manufacturing plastic bottles for the pharmaceutical industry. “In the USA, everything has been done — everything. In Congo, there is still a way to make things right. I am a Congolese. If I’m not going to make it, who’s going to?” In agreement is Olivier Ndombasi, who always planned on building his fortune in his homeland. Like his elder brothers, he studied abroad in the hope of bringing back knowledge that could improve the family business: groceries. His father’s small store has now turned into a supermarket franchise called Peloustore, with four locations and more on the way. “It’s very exciting to be able to do things in a new environment, and do things you didn’t think you’d be able to do,” says Ndombasi. “The challenge is great, but it’s very exciting.” Many agree that there are obstacles, but returnees often cite the exhilaration of starting with a clean slate. “Come to Kinshasa, you unlearn what you thought you knew. You take your MBA book, your business plan, put it in your pocket and start from scratch,” says Alain Yav, who 12 years ago founded Pygma Group, a holding company that has interests in communication and construction. Pygma also produces one of the country’s most popular television shows: Beauty Queen. Though the journey has been long, and there are still large portions of the country’s population living below the poverty line (70.5% in 2011, according African Economic Outlook), Yav says Kinshasa is starting to reap economic benefits. “When you are working really hard, at some time, you stop believing. But I think we are lucky, because we are seeing it’s progressing. Not just us, not just our company, not just our industry, but we are seeing things move forward in every direction,” he says. [caption id="attachment_10437" align="alignright" width="300"]"As Congolese, we have to be the first people involved in our development," says Didier M'Pambia (far left), who set up Optimum, one of the larger PR firms in Kinshasa. “As Congolese, we have to be the first people involved in our development,” says Didier M’Pambia (far left), who set up Optimum, one of the larger PR firms in Kinshasa.[/caption] To prove the point, Kinshasa also seems to be experiencing a construction boom. Buildings are going up at a ferocious rate. One of the largest — and most controversial — projects is La Cite du Fleuve (River City), a floating-island complex that is expected to include thousands of flats, hotels and shopping centers. “Everywhere [you look], you can see new buildings and lots of construction,” says Didier M’Pambia, who set up Optimum, one of the larger PR firms in the city. M’Pambia also publishes Optimum Magazine, a glossy pan-African business quarterly aimed at giving the Congolese diaspora information about their home country. “It’s not a Congolese magazine; it’s a magazine at the same level of other magazines produced in the United States, Europe or South Africa,” says M’Pambia. “We don’t have to be ashamed that we are in Africa. You have to be proud to be Africa and to show your personality. As Congolese, we have to be the first people involved in our development,” he says. *Source CNN ]]>

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What I don't accept is interference – President Paul Kagame, Rwanda
July 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Paul Kagame President, Rwanda. Photo©Vincent Fournier for TAR Paul Kagame President, Rwanda. Photo©Vincent Fournier for TAR[/caption] In a frank interview on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the genocide, President Kagame talked about its repercussions, regional politics and the end of his last term as leader in 2017. The Africa Report : Twenty years after the genocide, do you think the world outside Rwanda has finally come to terms with what happened? President Paul Kagame: Unfortunately, no. The image portrayed on the outside is that of a genocide that fell from the sky without any causes or consequences, where responsibilities are multiple, muddled and diluted. It’s a kind of epiphenomenon.

Could this lack of understanding be due to the fact that this carnage was carried out by people living together in the same community – a situation unique in modern history? Without a doubt. Our experience was different to that of other people. This led to specific responses, which are often complicated to explain.Even though today it remains a taboo subject, we must not forget the key role some Western powers played, not only in the historical roots but also in the unfolding of the genocide. Today, it is these same Western powers alone who lay down the rules of good governance and set the standards for democracy. They would like Rwanda to be a normal country as though nothing happened, which would have the advantage for them of making people forget their own role in the massacre, but that’s impossible. Take the French: twenty years later, the only reproach admissable in their eyes is that they didn’t do enough to save lives during the genocide. That’s a fact, but it hides the main point: the direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation of the genocide and the participation of the latter in its very execution. Complicity or participation? Both! Ask the survivors of the Bisesero massacre in June 1994 and they will tell you what the French military in Opération Turquoise did there. In Bisesero and in the whole area designated a ‘humanitarian safe zone’ they were not only accomplices but perpetrators as well. Another reason why it’s difficult to understand what happened is that you stand out as a very different head of state. Are you aware of this? I have no idea. If there is a difference, it would be due to my experience and my country’s unique history, but in terms of development and governance we’re facing the same challenges as all Africans. Though your social and economic achievements have been unanimously applauded, the same cannot be said for democracy in Rwanda. What democracy are you referring to? If I were to believe what the West feeds us, democracy is for and by the people: its expressions, its sentiments, its choices. However in Rwanda, when the population freely ex- press its choices, the same people hit back saying: ‘No, you’re mistaken, your decisions are not good for you.’
As long as we don’t adopt the model of democracy they have defined for us, we are doing the wrong thing. This attitude has a name, it’s called intolerance or refusal to accept differences. When I see that elsewhere in Africa their conception of democracy is compatible with corruption, tribalism, nepotism and in some cases chaos as long as they manage to keep up appearances, I tell myself that we definitely don’t share the same view. Do you believe for a second that the social and economic achievements you mentioned could have been accomplished without the participation of Rwandans and against their will? Dignity, unity, the right to start a business, the right to education and to health and integrity are among our key democratic values. No one is in a better position than we are to know our needs and the ways to achieve them. The outside world had better get used to that because we are not going to change. Your term of office ends in 2017, and the constitution prevents you from running again. Where do you stand on that? I’ve always said I will respect the constitution. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that a constitution is nothing other than an expression of the will of the people at one moment and in a given context. All over the world, in the oldest democracies as in newer ones, fundamental laws are subject to constant changes, revisions and amendments in the interests of the citizens concerned. Concerning presidential term limits, for example? On this point, as in others, I don’t know. It’s not up to me, and I am not the writer of the constitution. Why this obsession with me? The only thing you should keep in mind is that I respect the constitution and I will continue to do so. Anything else is not my concern. How do you explain that not a single Rwandan believes you will step down in 2017? Is it because they’re assuming I want to stay in power or they are expressing a wish on their part? You should put the question to them. One thing is sure: ultimately, if this type of proposal were to be submitted to me by the people, I would have to decide. It’s difficult to picture you as a 60-year-old retiree, sitting in your Muhazi lake ranch watching over your cows… Why not? I can easily see myself in that picture. Since oppositionist Patrick Karegeya’s assassination and the attack on Kayumba Nyamwasa’s villa in South Africa, your relationship with Pretoria has been stormy. You met President Jacob Zuma in Luanda on 25 March. What did you say to each other? Our discussions were not focused on this issue, but we obviously touched on the subject. My opinion is clear: obtaining asylum in a country implies a duty of discretion and a ban on carrying out subversive activities against your country of origin. So it’s not the right to asylum I’m questioning as such, but the freedom and even high-level complicity that some of these self-exiles in South Africa enjoy in their efforts to destabilise Rwanda and promote terrorism. Did you ask the South African authorities to extradite Karegeya and Nyamwasa? Obviously we did, and I have the records to prove it. These people were prosecuted and convicted in Rwanda. But Pretoria doesn’t think your justice system can offer all the guarantees of impartiality… Wrongly so. The South Africans should be careful not to give the unfortunate impression that they themselves are biased. I’m hopeful that with time South Africa’s government will realise that there’s far more to be gained from listening to us than covering up for a bunch of offenders. Diplomats were expelled on both sides. Will they be reinstated in their jobs? We are in the process of replacing them. Since Zuma arrived in power, your relationship with South Africa has deteriorated. Is it because he chose to form a strategic alliance with the Democratic Republic of Congo? I can’t answer for him. But one thing is sure: I wouldn’t advise anyone to meddle in our domestic affairs. What I’m saying applies not only to South Africa but also to Tanzania, France, Belgium, the media and the non-governmental organisations that take malevolent delight in fanning the flames of resentment. What role did you play in the assassination of Karegeya and the attack against Kayumba? None. There’s nothing, no evidence that links the state of Rwanda to these crimes. The South African authorities say they have evidence, but where is it? The only thing they really criticise us for are my own statements on the matter. It’s true that you pulled no punches… Are you surprised? I always speak my mind. Why should we cry over the fate of a man who ordered deadly grenade attacks? Regardless of whether this excites journalists. Karegeya, Nyamwasa but also former prosecutor general Gerald Gahima and former cabinet director Théogène Rudasingwa were very close allies until they became your sworn enemies. Does this worry you, these people who leave with secrets? What secrets? Compromising secrets for them, perhaps? These people held military, security, judicial or political offices in the Rwandan Patriotic Front under my command. So referring to them in terms of how close they were to me means nothing. As for their secrets, you’ve heard them. These people said all they had to say a long time ago, and it’s nothing but nonsense. I’ve noticed that while we were working together, they never once disagreed with me on anything. They only expressed disapproval the day they were relieved of their duties for reasons not related to politics. President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania incurred your wrath when he recommended opening negotiations with your opponents, including the FDLR Hutu militia. You don’t accept this view? What I don’t accept is interference. It’s inadmissible that Jakaya Kikwete and members of his government should associate themselves in any way with genocide perpetrators, and I see no reason why they should. Six months ago you launched a campaign named Ndi Umunyarwanda (I am Rwandan), which your opponents have interpreted as a way of culpabilising and humiliating the Hutu community. What is it all about? It’s very simple. The aim of this campaign is to emphasise what unites us – our Rwandanness – and eliminate what divided us, and which caused the genocide: communitarianism. Of course, this should be done with respect for our diversity. In this framework and with this aim, those who, by commission or omission, have reason to reproach themselves about the genocide will have the opportunity to express their regrets and commitment to the new Rwanda. Taking this step is purely on an individual and voluntary basis, and no one is being forced. What is your state of relations with the US? Since Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice moved on it seems you have lost your two main supporters in Washington and the State Department is now quick to criticise you. To my knowledge, there isn’t any real problem between us. It was American aircraft that brought our troops to Central Africa and our cooperation on several issues remains good. The few statements you’re referring to are answers given during interviews, they are not official statements. *Source theafricareport
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Electrify Africa, Energize Africa and Power Africa: Partnering With Africa for the Long Run
July 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Tony O. Elumelu*

downloadMonday, 30 June, was the first year anniversary of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative, the president’s signature initiative for the continent which seeks to expand electricity to address poverty alleviation and economic growth.

The shortage of energy in Africa obstructs progress in healthcare, education, food security, and all forms of industrial and commercial activity, impeding Africa’s economic development. By elevating the issue of energy poverty and launching a coordinated, strategic approach to tackling it, the US government has galvanized companies in-country and around the world to see the African power sector as a viable investment opportunity, and has brought private sector leadership and solutions to address Africa’s development needs. Already, Power Africa has succeeded in facilitating deals that will deliver nearly 3,000 megawatts of additional power in participating countries. Furthermore, its very existence has encouraged other African nations to initiate reforms within their power sectors, in anticipation of future opportunities to participate in power deals and partnerships.

To ensure continued momentum and expanded reach, legislation is needed to codify the expansion of access-to-electricity in Africa as a long-term development and foreign policy priority of the US government. In addition to the ‘Power Six,’ there are dozens more African countries eager to partner with the US to bring electricity to their citizens.

While there is much progress to celebrate, several challenges still exist. Insufficient infrastructure for power distribution not only threatens to waste valuable megawatts and slow the initiative’s progress, it endangers the existing power generation infrastructure.  Furthermore, inadequate national regulatory frameworks constrain the operations of producers utilizing gas for power. Between these two issues, the benefits of our collective cooperation cannot be fully translated to increased power access.

The Electrify Africa Act passed the U.S House of Representatives on May 8 with broad bipartisan support and the Energize Africa Act was reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 24. If Power Africa is enhanced and expanded through legislation, it can pay economic dividends to both the US and Africa, while delivering substantial development gains on the continent. One such gain would be a significant reduction in the operating costs of businesses. This legislation, along with the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), will help lay the foundations for a new US-Africa relationship; one based not on humanitarian assistance, but on partnership for mutual economic benefit – and one that allows entrepreneurship to be the engine of social development.

imagesIt is the hope of many of us in the African private sector, and those of us who have made commitments to support the ambitions of Power Africa, that Congress reconciles the bills before the August recess and passes legislation that gives US agencies the flexibility to partner with African countries to develop their own energy resource priorities.

This would enable President Obama to sign the law in the presence of the more than 40 African Heads of State who will convene at the White House for the African Heads of State Summit on 6 August. Such a historic event would be remembered as the moment when the White House, Congress, African leadership and the private sector stood together to initiate a new kind of partnership, one that seals our collective commitment to bring electricity and opportunity to 589 million African citizens who deserve a brighter future.

*Tony O. Elumelu is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, a pan-African proprietary investment company with interests in strategic sectors of Africa’s economy. Elumelu is also the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based and African-funded philanthropic organization dedicated to the promotion of entrepreneurship on the continent. 

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South Africa: Zuma extends land restitution claims process
July 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Crystal Orderson* jacobzumax0South African President Jacob Zuma has signed into law a bill that re-opens the land restitution claims process that closed in 1998. The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment gives claimants up to June 30, 2019 to lodge land claims with the government. We have been bending over backwards as black people, particularly African people There has been debate that the 80 000 land restitution claims lodged by the 1998 deadline did not reflect the actual number of victims of the apartheid era forced removals. Land reform remains an emotive debate in South Africa with ctivists decrying the slow pace of land reform in the country with ownership still skewed in favour of whites. But the country has been very careful not to follow the Zimbabwe style land invasions and opted for the willing buyer willing seller model. Activists, however, say the willing buyer willing seller model, which sees the State buying land at market related prices, has failed to address land ownership patterns. Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj said that the Act now provides for the re-opening of the process of land claims by those who missed the 31 December 1998 deadline to lodge land claims. He added: “the regulation of the appointment, tenure of office, remuneration and the terms of and conditions of service of the judges of the Land Claims Court has also been amended”. Earlier this month, in a bid to address the land issue, the Land Affairs Ministry announced a new land reform proposal involving giving 50 percent of land to farmworkers. The policy paper on land reform and restitution, finalised in February and titled “Strengthening the Relative Rights of People Working the Land”, has sparked alarm and uncertainty among farmers. The document proposes that farm labourers assume ownership of half the land on which they are employed. This would be “proportional to their contribution to the development of the land, based on the number of years they had worked on the land”. The proposal has been rejected by organised agricultural bodies and described as “ill-considered” by Agri SA, one of the largest farmers ‘ unions. The commercial farmers’ group said the proposal by Rural Development and Land Reform minister Gugile Nkwinti ‘contained elements of what had happened in Zimbabwe’. But the minister hit back saying: “We have been bending over backwards as black people, particularly African people… It is time that all of us took responsibility for progress… for South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white”. According to the proposals — with a deadline for feedback of April next year — government “will pay for the 50 percent to be shared by the labourers”.

*Source Africa Report
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Goodluck Jonathan: Nothing is more important than bringing home Nigeria’s missing girls
June 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

BY GOODLUCK JONATHAN*

president_goodluck_jonathan_1__283791306I have had to remain quiet about the continuing efforts by Nigeria’s military, police and investigators to find the girls kidnapped in April from the town of Chibok by the terrorist group Boko Haram. I am deeply concerned, however, that my silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness.

My silence has been necessary to avoid compromising the details of our investigation. But let me state this unequivocally: My government and our security and intelligence services have spared no resources, have not stopped and will not stop until the girls are returned home and the thugs who took them are brought to justice. On my orders, our forces have aggressively sought these killers in the forests of northern Borno state, where they are based. They are fully committed to defending the integrity of their country.

My heart aches for the missing children and their families. I am a parent myself, and I know how awfully this must hurt. Nothing is more important to me than finding and rescuing our girls.

Since 2010, thousands of people have been killed, injured, abducted or forced by Boko Haram, which seeks to overwhelm the country and impose its ideology on all Nigerians. My government is determined to make that impossible. We will not succumb to the will of terrorists.

The abduction of our children cannot be seen as an isolated event. Terrorism knows no borders. This month, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Britain and the United States established an External Intelligence Response Unit to share security information on such threats in West Africa. I propose that we build on this step to establish an enduring, worldwide commitment to destroying terrorism and those who finance or give safe haven to the terrorists.

In September, I will urge the U.N. General Assembly to establish a U.N.-coordinated system for sharing intelligence and, if necessary, special forces and law enforcement to confront terrorism wherever it occurs.

Chibok-girls-500x255In Nigeria, there are political, religious and ethnic cleavages to overcome if we are to defeat Boko Haram. We need greater understanding and outreach between Muslims and Christians. We also know that, as it seeks to recruit the gullible, Boko Haram exploits the economic disparities that remain a problem in our country. We are addressing these challenges through such steps as bringing stakeholders together and creating a safe schools initiative, a victims’ support fund and a presidential economic recovery program for northeastern Nigeria. We are also committed to ridding our country of corruption and safeguarding human and civil rights and the rule of law.

Something positive can come out of the situation in Nigeria: most important, the return of the Chibok girls, but also new international cooperation to deny havens to terrorists and destroy their organizations wherever they are — whether in the forests of Nigeria, on the streets of New York or sanctuaries in Iraq or Pakistan. Those who value humanity , civilization and the innocence of children can do no less.

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