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Do current African leaders overstep their mandates?
May 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

Leaders of the European Union and their African counterparts pose in a group photo during the recent EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium. African leaders have come under fire over the manner in which they grant foreign powers and multinationals with land concessions leaving their own people landless. Leaders of the European Union and their African counterparts pose in a group photo during the recent EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium. African leaders have come under fire over the manner in which they grant foreign powers and multinationals with land concessions leaving their own people landless.[/caption] In the field of farmland leases and sell-offs (commonly referred to as land-grabbing) the current crop of African leaders may well be accused of exceeding their mandate to the point of treachery to their continent, their people and to future generations of Africans.

Land is the property of all the people in a nation; it does not belong to any single leader or any particular government. Politicians are trustees of a nation’s future and as such are entrusted to govern for the benefit of their nations and peoples.
How come then African leaders are today doling out our farmland to their foreign associates in perpetuity as if it were their personal property? And at a time when the continent’s population is growing in tidal waves?  By 2050 the number of people in Africa will double to 2 billion.
Land and independence are two sides of the same coin and one cannot exist without the other. Therefore, to invite foreigners to take over our farmlands in perpetuity is tantamount to literally giving away independence itself, which no African leader is authorised to do, either legally or morally.  Thus leaders of any government claiming to bat for their country’s freedom, progress and prosperity by giving away land to be used for the sole benefit of foreigners on 99 year contracts (which in practice means forever) are at best delusional and at worst are acting far beyond the scope of their authority — which could safely be termed as either gross abuse of power or actual treachery against the state.
Countries go to war for one reason and one reason only — to protect what are called vital national interests. Any talk of military missions to spread or defend democracy abroad is utter claptrap. Corollary to this is that the farmlands being freely confiscated by foreigners today, in collusion with our leaders, will tomorrow be turned into “assets of core or vital interest” which are therefore worth foreign states going to war to defend. Consequently, wars of liberation will start all over again and again with the loss of millions of African lives.
The US embargo against Cuba has been in place since 1959, simply because Fidel Castro, Cuba’s Revolutionary leader nationalised American casinos and plantations. America has intervened in every banana republic in Latin America since the 1900s to protect American planters. The West’s intervention in the Gulf has nothing to do with democracy but rather its desire to gain access to oil — a commodity of vital importance. This, then, is the fate awaiting our children and their children tomorrow, which is why the on-going land give-aways are equivalent to treason.
Only a few leaders in the continent, with their pockets stuffed with money from foreign land-grabbers, are the beneficiaries in this FDI (foreign direct investment) in farmlands, while the rest of us are net losers on a large scale. In pre-colonial Africa land was vested symbolically in the hands of the chief in trust for the whole community and no member of such communities was, at any time, allowed to go without land, because in Africa land is life and to render Africans landless is as much a death sentence today as it was in the past. The traditional symbolism of entrusting land to our leaders for fair distribution among their people has been carried over into almost all post-colonial constitutions in Africa.
However, contemporary constitutions have just grafted the format of this customary African system of land control onto their constitutions, without also embedding its spirit. In traditional societies the chief owned the common land on behalf of a particular tribe, but every member was at all times guaranteed land to live on and from.
I have seen this system at work first hand as my father was a chief. However, many of today’s African leaders seem to think they literally own the land, rather than symbolically; while some of them are sitting on vast tracts of land or giving it away to foreigners, their people are dying by instalments through poverty caused by landlessness. This is a cynical abuse of a very noble tenet.
To illustrate this assertion I would like to give my country of Tanzania as an example, although what I say is also true of every other country in Africa at this moment in history.
During President Nyerere’s time in office land was state property, not government property, trusted to the President on behalf of the people, just as it is today stated in our Constitution. But that is where the similarity ends. While under Nyerere substantive land rights were in the hands of the users – the people – not the President; today those rights have been hived off to an unelected, unaccountable quango called Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC). President Nyerere had powers to retake State land and create publicly-owned farms, ranches, national parks, and game and forest reserves, whose profits were ploughed back into the state coffers.
What a contrast to nowadays when the TIC is dishing out land to foreigners to grow bio-fuel for overseas car tanks and food crops to fill the stomachs of non-Africans, with any profits being  repatriated in full overseas. While Mwalimu Nyerere put in place safeguards to stop any particular government from stealing land from the Tanzanian people, governments since Mwalimu’s time have changed the land code eight times in eleven years to put in place a system which legitimises such theft of land from the people by a small and privileged elite. To make the Tanzanian people’s inability to access common land total, the current government is flirting with the idea of “Land Banks”, which in my view are out-and-out criminal institutions. The sole purpose of  these  land banks are to speed up the process of land acquisition by foreigners through the removal of people’s automatic right to the common land to which they have previously had free access. If these land banks are instituted a corrupt oligarchy, who do not need the land for their livelihood, will be lining their pockets at the expense of those who need these farmlands for their survival. This is not only a criminal scheme but also potentially a murderous one.
The argument that the TIC and the land banks are above reproach, because they are created by an Act of Parliament, is a huge red herring; after all the Apartheid system in South Africa was created by an Act of Parliament but this did not make it morally tenable. Moreover, a land bank-type scheme was created by an Act of Parliament in Mexico in 1850 with exactly the same aims of facilitating the way for foreign investors – and what was its outcome? 830 people and corporations confiscated 97 per cent of Mexico’s 1.9 million square kilometres with 17 individuals controlling 20 per cent of the land previously under the ownership of over 15 million Mexicans.
It was this Act which made the Mexican Revolution of 1910/20 inevitable which left an estimated 2.1 million people dead in its wake. So before our leaders jump onto the bandwagon of foreign-induced land bank schemes, they need to read about the Mexican Revolution first.
Even though it happened over 100 years ago we have a lot to learn from it.
Any Parliamentary Act should be considered useful and valid only when it serves the best interests of the majority of people and the country at large, not sectional or group interests; the TIC and similar establishments throughout Africa are failing to meet this criterion by a wide margin.
The president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, Lester Brown, has written a book titled, ‘Full Planet, Empty Plates’, in which he asserts that, “Food is the new oil and land is the new gold”.
All oil and gold producing countries outside Africa are super-rich today because they are selling those commodities at top prices to the rest of the world — not giving them away. Similarly, the industrial countries of the world are super-rich because there are selling their capital goods expensively to the world — not donating them. Furthermore, no African was ever invited to own or even to share the oil fields of the Gulf or the industries of the North.
 * Source  The Citizen.Harid Mkali can be reached through Email: mkali@live.co.uk, Website:www.haridmkali.com
 
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South Sudan's rebel leader agrees new ceasefire with president
May 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic[/caption]

 South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar signed a ceasefire deal on Friday after coming under growing international pressure to end ethnic fighting that has raised fears of genocide.

Friday’s deal was made at a meeting in Ethiopia that was the first time the two men had met face-to-face since violence erupted in December following a long power struggle. Kiir and Machar, both Christians, shook hands and prayed together.

The men agreed that a transitional government offered the “best chance” to take the country towards elections next year, though there was no immediate decision on who would be part of an interim administration.

“Now that we have come to our senses … dialogue is the only answer to whatever problem we had,” Kiir said after a signing ceremony in Addis Ababa’s presidential palace. “We will continue to move in the right direction.”

The truce will take effect within 24 hours and both sides agreed to disengage their forces and refrain from any provocative actions, said Seyoum Mesfin, lead mediator from the regional IGAD grouping.

“Today’s agreement to immediately stop the fighting in South Sudan and to negotiate a transitional government could mark a breakthrough for the future of South Sudan,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

A previous ceasefire accord struck in January swiftly fell apart, with each side blaming the other for fighting that has exacerbated deep-rooted tensions between Kiir’s ethnic Dink community and Machar’s Nuer group.

Western powers had demanded a new deal. Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had both visited the Texas-sized country in the past week, part of a diplomatic push by regional and world leaders still haunted by Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

“I saw with my own eyes last week the stakes and the struggles in a new nation we helped courageous people create. The people of South Sudan have suffered too much for far too long,” Kerry added in Friday’s statement.

The United States has already slapped sanctions on two commanders on opposing sides of the conflict, a sign of its growing frustration with the leaders of Africa’s youngest country, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011.

Cranking up the pressure ahead of the Friday’s meeting, the European Union also threatened sanctions against anyone blocking the peace effort.

INTERIM GOVERNMENT

Fighting erupted in South Sudan’s capital Juba in mid-December between soldiers loyal to Kiir and those backing Machar and quickly spread across the country.

Kiir’s government at the time accused Machar of treason – a charge again denied by the rebel leader, who on Friday swapped his military fatigues for a dapper suit.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than a million forced from their homes. Troops on both sides have committed murder, rape and other sexual abuses, a U.N. report said.

The unrest has caused oil output to be cut by a third to 160,000 barrels per day.

“I had no reason to bring South Sudan to war,” Machar told Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and envoys.

Kiir and Machar have been locked in a long-running power struggle that intensified after the president sacked Machar as his deputy in July.

Negotiators from the two sides will now hammer out the terms of an interim government that will guide the country of 10 million people to elections in 2015, the agreement said.

Those discussions may be hard fought. Machar told Reuters in January that Kiir had lost the people’s trust and should resign – a demand some in his camp were still making earlier on Friday.

But Kiir’s ministers say the president would not quit.

One Western diplomat said there was a push for the peace process to include former political prisoners, the church and local civil society groups.

“You can’t leave it to warring guys because then it’s basically about who gets what part of the cake,” said the Juba-based Western diplomat. “These (talks) are a fundamental review of where the country is going and on what basis”

*Source Reuters]]>

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Nigeria leader Goodluck Jonathan in missing girls plea
May 5, 2014 | 1 Comments

President Jonathan vowed to secure the girls' release in his first public comments since they were taken President Jonathan vowed to secure the girls’ release in his first public comments since they were taken[/caption]

President Goodluck Jonathan has admitted that Nigerian security forces still do not know where more than 200 abducted girls are being held.

They were taken three weeks ago from their school in Borno state by suspected Islamist militants. President Jonathan was speaking for the first time since their disappearance amid growing criticism of the response. He has come under fire for not speaking earlier and his government has faced increasing anger from the public. “We promise that anywhere the girls are, we will surely get them out,” he said in a live TV broadcast. The president said that despite searches by the army and the air force, the girls had not been found. He asked for the co-operation of parents and the local communities in the rescue efforts, saying the “government needs assistance.” “It is a trying time for this country… it is painful,” he added. The BBC’s Will Ross in Abuja says it appears somewhat astonishing that the girls cannot be found when there are reports they have been moved around in convoys of vehicles. This seems to be a sign that there are parts of north-east Nigeria that are more or less off limits to the Nigerian armed forces, our correspondent says. Islamist militants known as Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin”, are believed to be behind the kidnapping of the girls from their school in Chibok. They have waged a violent campaign in the north-east that has killed hundreds of Christians and Muslims. President Jonathan dismissed the suggestion that negotiations were taking place to secure the release of the girls, saying it was impossible to talk to Boko Haram. “You don’t negotiate with somebody you don’t know. The issue of negotiation has not come up,” he said. He said his government has spoken to the United States and several other world powers, including France, Britain and China, for help with its security issues. “We are talking to countries we think can help us out. The United States is number one. I have talked to President Obama at least twice,” he said. *Source BBC]]>

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Out of Africa: The great money migration
May 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

Almost $2 trillion has left Africa illicitly since 1970, thwarting poverty reduction and economic growth.    * Bahar Dar, Ethiopia – The figures are staggering: At least $1.8 trillion illicitly flowed out of Africa between 1970 and 2009. This is far more than the external aid the continent received over the same period, and almost five times its current external debt. According to researchers, the continent also loses at least $100bn a year in this financial haemorrhage. African leaders convened this week in the Ethiopian city of Bahar Dar to discuss illicit financial flows and what can be done to staunch them. A study commissioned by the Tana High Level Forum on African Security, which organised the conference, found that illicit flows from Africa grew at an average rate of 12.1 percent per year since 1970, and that capital flight from West and Central African countries accounted for most of the illicit flows from sub-Saharan Africa. Illicit financial flows consist of money earned illegally and then transferred for use elsewhere. The money is usually generated from criminal activities, corruption, tax evasion, bribes and smuggling. Yet the numbers tell only part of the story – a story that exposes how these highly complex and deeply entrenched practises have flourished, with a devastating impact on Africans’ efforts to extricate themselves from grinding poverty. This scourge eats into the gross domestic products of African countries, draining foreign exchange reserves, reducing tax collection and investment inflows and worsening poverty. “The costs of this financial haemorrhage have been significant for African countries. It has heightened income inequality and jeopardised employment prospects. In the majority of countries in the continent, unemployment rates have remained exceedingly high in the absence of investment and industrial expansion,” said Kenya’s Central Bank Governor Dr Njuguna Ndungu. Worse than expected And some believe that the estimates of illicit financial flows underestimate the problem. “These figures do not capture money lost through drug trafficking and the loss of Africa’s marine resources through illegal fishing,” said Abdiweli Mohammed Ali, the new president of Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region. “Somalia loses between $800m and $1bn through illegal fishing every year. This is money we cannot afford to lose. Something must be done about the illegal international fishing cartels looting our marine resources,” said Abdiweli, who is also a former prime minister of Somalia. The study also found a significant link between increases in the price of oil and capital flight from Nigeria – Africa’s largest oil producer, which also accounted for the highest amount of illicit outflows. “Some of the acceleration in illicit outflows was undoubtedly driven by oil price increases and increased opportunities to misprice trade that typically accompany increasing trading volumes due to globalisation,” the report noted. For instance, Nigeria lost at least $250bn between 2000 and 2009. South Africa, which was the continent’s biggest economy until it was recently overtaken by Nigeria, came second with a loss of at least $170bn over the same period. Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Angola, Sudan and Cameroon are also high on the list. Nuhu Ribadu, a former chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said: “It’s shameful that Nigeria leads in such an unsavoury trend. But it must be pointed out that we are also leaders in trying to repatriate some of the stolen funds. We managed to recover billions that former military dictator Sani Abacha stashed in banks abroad.” Ribadu said Africa needs honest and committed leaders who will set examples by eschewing corruption and closing avenues of illicit financial flow. “It is the seriousness and commitment showed by African leaders that would convince foreign countries to work with them towards recovering looted monies stashed abroad.” Skewing income distribution Experts say the enormity of the outflow explains why donor-driven efforts to spur economic development and reduce poverty have not achieved their full potential in Africa. Sustained illicit outflows have also turned the continent into a net creditor to the rest of the world. “Policy measures must be taken to address the causes of illicit outflows and also to impress upon the international community the need for better transparency and tighter oversight of banks and offshore financial centres that absorb these flows,” said former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki is also the chair of the Commission on Illicit Finances established by the UN Economic Commission on Africa. As long as illicit capital continues to pour out of impoverished African countries at this pace, efforts to reduce poverty and boost economic growth will be thwarted, and income distribution will become more skewed, leading to economic and political instability. Yet there is a glimmer of hope, now that African leaders and governments are increasingly understanding – and coming to terms with – the dangers posed by illicit financial flows. * Source Al Jazeera.Follow Mohammed Adow on Twitter: @Moadow]]>

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Kenya’s Shift to Green Economy Should Generate USD 45 Billion by 2030
April 25, 2014 | 1 Comments

New Study Shows Kenya’s Shift to Green Economy Should Generate USD 45 Billion by 2030, Build Climate Resilience and Boost Food Security / Positive Returns Projected within Seven to Ten Years download (6)Kenya’s transition to a green economy could produce major economic benefits – equivalent to an estimated USD 45 billion by 2030 – as well as greater food security, a cleaner environment and higher productivity of natural resources, according to a new study launched Tuesday by the Government of Kenya and the UN Environment Programme. The Green Economy Assessment Report: Kenya finds that the transition to an inclusive, low emission , resource efficient green economy will result in stronger economic growth and increased wealth creation opportunities by 2021. Under a green economy scenario, with an investment of two percent of GDP, national GDP would exceed a business-as-usual scenario by about 12 per cent, or KES 3.6 trillion (equivalent to USD 45 billion), by 2030. Per capita national income would nearly double from KES 39,897 (USD 498.70) to KES 69,702 (USD 871.30). Under a business-as-usual investment scenario and a two per cent investment, GDP would only increase to KES 53,146 (USD 664.30) over the same period of time. As green economy measures mitigate the impact of climate change, the report finds the country’s aggregated Green House Gas Emissions measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent would be 9 per cent lower by 2030 under a green economy scenario with an investment of two per cent of GDP compared to a business-as-usual scenario and a two per cent investment. In the agriculture sector, the report finds that green economy investments would increase the average agriculture yield by about 15 per cent from its current baseline. Agriculture accounts for approximately one quarter of Kenya’s national GDP annually and up to 65 per cent of its exports. Kenya is already implementing policies and initiatives to move towards a green economy, and this approach is recognized in the country’s long-term development blueprint and in the government’s Second Medium Term Plan (2013-2017). The report finds that further green energy investments could lead to about a two per cent reduction in energy consumption and an expanded supply of electricity from renewable sources compared to business-as-usual. For example, under a green economy scenario, renewable energy would double geothermal capacity by 2030, compared to business-as-usual, and other renewable energy resources would also grow during this period, contributing to 20 per cent of the total power supply. To accelerate these efforts, the report urges the government to consider adopting targeted clean energy solutions for households and institutions, such as energy efficient lighting and appliances; and, making additional investments in renewable energy, such as geothermal, solar, wind and biofuel energy. While Kenya’s manufacturing sector has continued to contribute about 10 per cent to the country’s GDP for over many years, it is still one of the largest in Sub-Sahara Africa and considered a key pillar for the country’s future growth. However, the report finds that to green this sector, more public policies are needed to encourage and incentivize investment in resource-efficient and clean production processes, recycling and eco-labelling, among other transformative strategies. The country’s transport sector is also critical to its green economy goals. This sector is expected to triple between 2010 and 2030, and vehicles on the road have already doubled during the last decade. To better regulate this sector and reduce emission of harmful gaseous pollutants, the report suggests that the government needs to create incentives to lower the age of its passenger and freight fleet, as well as promote more mass transit and non-motorized transport . UNEP supported a consortium of Kenyan institutions that formed the “Inter-Ministerial Committee on green economy” to lead the green economy in the country. The Committee comprised members from various government ministries and the private sector organizations. The report, which examines the economy-wide impacts of green investments under different scenarios, reveals that positive returns could be realized within seven to ten years. It confirms that an overall green economy, resources efficiency and recycling policy framework is fundamental to underpin the success of these sector initiatives. Several areas where further government action is needed are identified, from improving regulatory compliance and developing national standards, resources efficiency and resource productivity targets ; to securing financial resources and introducing fiscal instruments like tax rebates on environment friendly technologies and innovations “Green Economy driven by resource efficiency is the basis for sustainable development and poverty eradication. A green economy revolution is already taking place in Kenya, where the harvesting of geothermal energy from the East African Rift is just one of the many renewable energy projects underway across the country. By learning to more accurately value our own natural resources, Kenya will be able to better harness these strategies as it moves towards a holistic, inclusive green economy in the future.”Cabinet Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Judi Wakhungu “The next wave of investment and innovation in Kenya will be driven by the need for new energy sources, wealth generation and job creation. Kenya is already demonstrating leadership by pioneering green economy approaches in the energy, urban and natural resources sectors as a vehicle to deliver its national development goals. This report confirms that the country can achieve even greater prosperity and well-being by scaling up its green investments in key sectors, while also factoring the conservation and efficient use of its natural capital into future decisions related to infrastructure, investment in the development of the energy, transport, agriculture and industry sectors.”UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: *Source UNEP/APO]]>

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Nigeria preacher: Healer or controversial leader?
April 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

c66346705c9ecf0f510f6a7067003234It’s Sunday, and 15,000 people are seated in the enormous arena-like church, fanning themselves against the dusty humid air in Nigeria. The preacher in a blue flowered shirt taps his microphone to announce “prophecy time.” He places his hands on worshippers, who spin in circles, wave their arms in the air and finally collapse to the ground, shaking. They’ve been delivered. “Emmanuel!” he shouts. “Emmanuel!” the crowd echoes. A camera crew of 20 scurries around speakers branded with the slogan for his Emmanuel TV station, “Distance is not a barrier.” The service is beamed worldwide. This is T.B. Joshua, one of the best-known preachers in Africa and among the most profitable in Nigeria, the go-to faith healer and spiritual guide for leaders such as the late Ghanaian president John Atta Mills, Malawian president Joyce Banda and former Zimbabwean prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Joshua’s Synagogue, Church of All Nations has branches around the world, and a recent YouTube video even credits him with predicting the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. Yet critics say this wildly popular televangelist hinders efforts to curtail the spread of HIV and tuberculosis with testimonies by church-goers that faith and his holy water can cure both. He is also accused of taking advantage of his followers and tightly controlling those closest to him, who call him “Daddy.” Joshua brushes such concerns aside. “The gospel needs to be preached all over the world,” says Joshua, whose full name is Temitope Balogun Joshua, in a rare interview at his church with The Associated Press. “You cannot light a candle and put it under a roof.” Even in Nigeria, a country of 170 million where various forms of evangelical Christianity are practiced passionately in churches around every corner, Joshua stands out for his ambition. His Lagos church has a sprawling campus of restaurants, overflow tents for thousands and dorms for visitors, who all hope to be touched, even if only by proximity, by the man known as “the prophet.” Joshua also has satellite centers in London, Greece, Ghana, South Africa and several other countries, along with a 24/7 television station on cable and online that comes with simultaneous translations in French and Spanish. The man who says he comes from the poor village of Arigidi is worth between $10 and $15 million based on assets, according to Forbes magazine, which in 2011 estimated his personal wealth. His church, however, has become controversial for showing on its website people with testimonies of being healed of HIV. They hold up a required before and after certificate, allegedly signed by a doctor, stating that their HIV-positive status has transformed to negative. UNAIDS notes that there is no available cure for HIV, and any interruptions to medical treatment can have serious health implications and infect others. “We strongly advise people not to waste their money on T.B. Joshua and his false cures,” said Marcus Low, head of policy at the South Africa-based Treatment Action Campaign, which advocates for increased access to treatment and support services for people living with HIV. “Supposed faith healers often lead people to forego effective treatments in the mistaken belief that they have been cured. They exploit the desperation that many sick people feel and use this desperation to enrich themselves.” When asked if he advises followers to forego HIV/AIDS medication for his “anointing water,” Joshua responded: “Let me tell you, I am a medium. In the same way, doctors are mediums to bring treatment.” Joshua, 50, claims his mother was pregnant with him for 15 months. Later in life, he says, he fell into a trance for three days and saw a hand pointing a bible at his heart. He started his church more than 20 years ago, and now has allegedly more than 50,000 people visit his Lagos synagogue weekly, including foreigners. “It’s the opposite of sacrifice,” said disciple Angela Brandt about working for Joshua. She has stayed on the campus in Nigeria after visiting from California more than a decade ago. She said she was healed of severe scoliosis. 4011a0a95c9dcf0f510f6a706700b917Joshua told the AP that God heals through him, with a smile and confidence that show why he’s so beloved to some. He sits in a small office with a blue and white robe over his clothes, with several flat screen televisions visible from his desk. He uses a buzzer to call in — and sometimes shout at — young, barefoot men and women who serve him. That kind of treatment of his disciples has also raised questions. Former disciple Giles Hurst, 31, says at first he was “lovebombed,” a term that can be used to describe when cults or groups shower a recruit with love and accolades to get them to join. But when he became a disciple, Hurst said, he saw the other side. Competition was fierce among the 200 or so disciples for Joshua’s attention, and they were encouraged to “report” each other for behaviors deemed wrong, he said. Sins are confessed in front of others, recorded and archived, according to Hurst and other former disciples. Passports are taken, along with novels and any medications, including mild painkillers or malaria pills, he said of when he was there. Permission from Joshua in the form of a signed “pass” is needed just to make a phone call or email, Hurst said. “Nobody questions it … he is a holy man, he can do whatever,” Hurst said, a statement backed by interviews with other former disciples. The danger Joshua posed became clearer, Hurst said, when his mother, who was devoted to the church, started losing her battle with cancer. Hurst claims that she refused chemotherapy because Joshua told her she was healed. And the cancer did shrink at first, but six months later, she was dead. When Hurst told Joshua the news a few months later, he said the man he called “Daddy” hung up. It was explained to him that “the prophet” didn’t like to listen to bad news. Ruth Mackintosh, who is from the U.K., said she’s lost her sister, brother-in-law, two nieces and a nephew to the church. “There is no possibility for meaningful conversation (with them),” she said. “They speak in cliches and set phrases.” And many who devote themselves to Joshua, and leave, find themselves without money, a resume or education, Mackintosh and Hurst agreed. Calls and emails to Joshua’s church for reaction to these allegations went unanswered. Money doesn’t seem to exchange hands anywhere on the Synagogue, Church of All Nations campus. But to remain a church member, the former disciple explained, you must give. Followers are expected to give about 10 percent of their paychecks, the payments are monitored and people are ranked and seated accordingly, Hurst said. T-shirts, books and frames photos promoting Joshua are also for sale. However, even former disciples agree that Joshua himself does give a lot money to charity and in scholarships. Joshua defended his church’s resources. “Without material and money, I wouldn’t be able to carry out so much huge, huge, huge, huge … People come here for support,” Joshua said. Hundreds of foreigners gathered at Lagos airport recently, going back home after visiting Joshua’s church campus. They wore Emmanuel TV T-shirts, laughed and exchanged stories of their strengthened faith, love and hope, intoxicated by their time with Joshua — he talked with each individually during their weeklong stay. Sithini Mahola, a 36-year-old woman from South Africa, explained Joshua’s draw: “The problems you face, maybe you aren’t strong enough to overcome, so you need someone stronger to commit to your faith.” *Source AP]]>

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Rwanda genocide: UN ashamed, says Ban Ki-moon
April 8, 2014 | 1 Comments

President Paul Kagame and UN chief Ban Ki-moon lit the torch President Paul Kagame and UN chief Ban Ki-moon lit the torch[/caption]

The UN is still ashamed over its failure to prevent the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said.

He was addressing thousands of people in the capital, Kigali, as Rwanda began a week of official mourning to mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide. Many people were overcome by emotion during the ceremony, with some suffering fits. At least 800,000 people – mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus – died at the hands of Hutu extremists. The killings ended ended in July 1994 when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi-led rebel movement, marched into Kigali and seized control of the country. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Mr Ban lit a torch which will burn for 100 days – the length of time the genocide lasted. A diplomatic row has prompted Rwanda to bar France’s ambassador, Michel Flesch, from attending the event, AFP news agency reports.

The week of mourning began with a wreath-laying ceremony at the national genocide memorial, followed by the lighting of a flame at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, where UN peacekeepers protected thousands of people during the genocide.

The torch has been carried across the country for the past three months, visiting 30 districts and passing from village to village. Thousands of people packed the stadium, having queued for hours through the fog, reports the BBC’s Charlotte Attwood from the scene. Many of them reacted with uncontrollable emotion to the stories, speeches and performances recalling the genocide, our correspondent says. Some of them had to be led out of the stadium while others had fits, she adds. [caption id="attachment_9087" align="alignright" width="300"]Thousands attended the ceremonies in the Amahoro Stadium, where UN peacekeepers saved many lives Thousands attended the ceremonies in the Amahoro Stadium, where UN peacekeepers saved many lives[/caption] Traditional mourning songs were broadcast over the sound systems. There was also a dramatisation of Rwanda’s recent history, which our correspondent says was a clear depiction of the government’s interpretation of events. In the play, a jeep carrying “colonialists” arrives, who swap their straw hats for UN blue helmets. They then desert the people, who are saved by the governing RPF. ‘Completely broken’ UN personnel in Rwanda during the genocide showed “remarkable bravery”, Mr Ban told the crowd, according to AP. “But we could have done much more. We should have done much more,” he said. “In Rwanda, troops were withdrawn when they were most needed,” he added. “One year later in Srebrenica, areas proclaimed ‘safe’ by the United Nations were filled with danger, and innocents were abandoned to slaughter. The shame still clings, a generation after the events,” Mr Ban said.

Mr Kagame said Rwanda was “completely broken” after the genocide, but it had managed to unite itself.

“It [the genocide] simply should never have happened,” he added. Other international leaders present include Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, former South African President Thabo Mbeki and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, now an advisor to the Rwandan government. On Sunday, hundreds of people attended a Mass at Sainte-Famille Catholic church in Kigali to remember those who died in the church itself and elsewhere. A spokesman for the Rwandan government said France would not be represented at the events to mark the genocide. Mr Flesch told AFP that he had received a telephone call from the Rwandan foreign ministry to “inform me that I was no longer accredited for the ceremonies”. Earlier, the French foreign ministry said Mr Flesch would represent France at the events after Justice Minister Christiane Taubira cancelled plans to attend following an accusation by Mr Kagame that France had participated in the mass killings. France was a close ally of Mr Habyarimana’s government. In an interview with the French-language weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique, Mr Kagame denounced the “direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation for the genocide”. He also said that French troops had taken an “active” part in the killings. [caption id="attachment_9088" align="alignleft" width="300"]Tony Blair and Thabo Mbeki were among the foreign guests Tony Blair and Thabo Mbeki were among the foreign guests[/caption] France has rejected this charge, with Edouard Balladur, who was French prime minister in 1994, telling Europe 1 radio: “France is in no way complicit in the genocide. “On the contrary, it of all countries in the world was the only one that took the initiative to organise a humanitarian operation to prevent widespread massacres.” France did send troops who set up “safe zones” in Rwanda. It says they saved thousands of lives but Rwanda’s government has long said they did not do enough to stop the killing – and now says they worked with the Hutu militias carrying out the slaughter. *Source BBC]]>

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The Map That Could Save Africa a Trillion Dollars
April 1, 2014 | 1 Comments

SOURCE: CORBIS  AN EXCAVATOR AT THE BOTTOM OF CONGOLESE STATE MINING COMPANY GÉCAMINES’ KAMFUNDWA OPEN-PIT COPPER MINE SOURCE: CORBIS
AN EXCAVATOR AT THE BOTTOM OF CONGOLESE STATE MINING COMPANY GÉCAMINES’ KAMFUNDWA OPEN-PIT COPPER MINE[/caption] In the 19th century, foreign explorers came to Africa in search of ivory, rubber and slaves. Today, they come for Africa’s minerals — its copper, zinc and tungsten. The developed world needs them for its skyscrapers, cell phones and much in between. The exchange is sometimes unfair. Often, African governments don’t know the value of the natural resources underground, but mining companies from the West — and, increasingly, China — do. That knowledge asymmetry has cost African countries and their citizens as much as $1.4 trillion over the past 30 years. But a more level playing field may be in sight, thanks to a World Bank initiative that aims to compile Africa’s mineral maps into a single, public database: the so-called Billion Dollar Map. The goal is to give African nations as much information as possible about their natural resources so that they can earn a fair price for the minerals they sell, World Bank officials say. While mineral maps of the African continent exist, most are private or piecemeal. The Billion Dollar Map is crucially different: Its contents will be available to the public. And that, experts hope, will minimize underpricing and corruption, and help governments get a fairer price for their countries’ resources. “When a government licenses its acreage for mining companies, they really don’t know what’s underground,” says Paulo De Sa, the World Bank geologist in charge of the project. “The mining companies know what the true potential of these minerals is, and the government doesn’t have a clue.”

African government efforts to force mining companies to process minerals before export may backfire as they come up against weakening commodity prices and investor demands that mining firms reduce risky investments. In the last year alone, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Namibia, South Africa and others have hinted at, announced or put in place measures aimed at adding value to minerals exports, which would boost tax revenue, encourage the formation of new businesses and add jobs. Zimbabwe, which holds the world’s second-largest platinum reserves after South Africa, has taken a hard line. Late last year, President Robert Mugabe threatened to stop exports of raw platinum in a bid to force mining firms to process the metal domestically.
As many African leaders are keenly aware, ignorance is peril in the mining world. Over the past 30 years, African countries lost $600 billion to $1.4 trillion in “net resource transfers,” according to a Washington, D.C. think tank . Most losses occur when governments are persuaded to sell their natural resources — minerals, oil, timber — for less than they’re actually worth, or to purchase them back again at inflated prices. The poorest countries tend to be hardest hit. In the DRC, one of the world’s most underdeveloped nations, underpricing mineral assets cost at least $1.36 billion between 2010 and 2012, according to a 2013 Africa Progress Panel report . Not coincidentally, Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler stands accused of purchasing private oil and mineral assets that once belonged to the Congolese state, only to resell them back to the government for as much as 300 times the purchase price. The Gertler case “is an egregious example of what the World Bank is trying to prevent,” says Aly-Khan Satchu, a Kenyan financial markets and commodities trader who specializes in oil. “By making this information public, it makes it a little more difficult to sell assets at below-market rates, which is part of the African problem.” Most developed countries already have mineral maps. Canada, for instance, has a geological survey of the entire country, which was compiled using exploration statistics from each province, and whose findings are publicly available online. In Europe, 29 countries are finalizing plans to produce a geological map of the entire European Union. Even Afghanistan has had its minerals mapped from the air by the U.S. Geological Survey. While private mining companies have been mapping Africa’s minerals for decades, nations with mining interests have entered the game, too. France launched a similar, though less ambitious, program a decade ago, and a consortium of European and African countries recently undertook another . With Chinese firms’ stake in Africa’s minerals growing fast, the Chinese government last year reached a memorandum of understanding with Kenya’s government to spend up to $70 million on aerial mineral surveys across Kenya . And African governments themselves have access to decades of mineral knowledge … somewhere. Mining companies are often obliged to share their data with host governments. But it’s obscure, says Kenyan government geologist Martin Nyakinye. “If [the World Bank] project is going to help dig up such data and then put it in a format that everything is accounted for, then that is going to be very good for Kenya,” Nyakinye says. To create the public minerals map and database, the World Bank will first compile historical data on Africa’s buried minerals dating back to colonial times, such as old mining reports and maps like this one of Kenya from the 1960s. As the data is gathered, the compilations will be turned into publicly available PDFs. Then researchers will use satellites to georeference the data, identifying proper coordinates for mineral discoveries marked on outdated maps. All this geodata will be combined into a central database so that researchers, and anyone else, can see which regions have not yet been explored. Next comes the process of filling in those gaps. Though it will be long and expensive, methods have much improved since the rudimentary maps of early 20th -century explorers. “In the modern era, there are a lot of tools available,” says Gerhard Graham, a scientist at South Africa’s Council for Geoscience. Satellite data could be used to identify promising geographical features. From there, researchers might fly airplanes and helicopters low to the ground, measuring the color of light reflecting off the surface. Since different minerals reflect sunlight differently, scientists can predict what sorts of minerals the land is made of. Or pilots might attach magnetic equipment to their aircraft to test the metallic content of the land. By cutting some of the risk associated with mineral exploration, the map is also likely to accelerate mining across the continent, according to people familiar with Africa’s minerals sector. “It become really risky when you drill, drill, drill and don’t find anything,” De Sa says. That’s why mining companies tend not to invest unless they’re confident they’re likely to find large-enough mineral deposits. The Billion Dollar Map may help companies more quickly reach that confidence threshold. That, in turn, would generate more revenue for African governments in need of new income sources to finance their development. “Even a small mine could create a couple thousand direct jobs in the area,” says Graham. “And that’s not even thinking in terms of potential infrastructure, and so on.” That’s another reason that African governments have been clamoring for help in mapping their minerals. Already, the World Bank has invested $200 million over the past decade in similar programs within 10 African countries. It is currentlygeomapping the entirety of Malawi , believed to be rich in uranium and rare earth metals , at the request of Malawian officials. To be sure, success depends on the goodwill of donors. The World Bank expects to raise $65 million in time for the decade-long project to launch this July, and De Sa is working to convince first-world governments like Australia, Canada, South Africa and the E.U. to furnish the rest. But it’s not always easy to wrangle resources for public benefit, and one thing’s for sure: Billion Dollar Maps don’t come cheap. *Source ZY]]>

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Aliko Dangote: A lesson for African entrepreneurs
March 23, 2014 | 1 Comments

I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.” – Aliko Dangote

images (1)Alhaji Aliko Dangote represents what African businessmen should be. He is an example for aspiring entrepreneurs across the continent. Start small, aim very high, identify and take advantage of opportunities. Do not be discouraged by challenges.   Give, and give generously to help others make progress.

That was how Aliko Dangote, who started out as a trader of commodities, became Africa’s leading businessman, with companies in 16 countries, employing over 10,000 people. In the process, he became the richest African and black man on the planet, with a personal fortune of $25 billion. It is this feat that makes him eminently qualified, and deservingly recognised as the Vanguard Newspaper African Personality of the Year.

Born with the Midas touch

When on 10th of April 1957, a male child was born in Kano; little was heard or known of the child. Like Shakespeare wrote in one of his epic books, Julius Caesar, ‘when beggars die there are no comets seen but the heavens themselves blaze the death of Princes’. In some dynasties and royalties, when kings are born, they are celebrated.

hat was not the case in Kano when Aliko Dangote was born. He was just like any other child. He, like other children, learnt to crawl, walk and run. He cried like others but at school, he was focused on what he chose to do.

He probably discovered his destiny early enough and keyed into it. In his words: “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets (sugar boxes) and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.” Dangote, right from when he was young had his eyes on business.

He had always, as all real entrepreneurs do, seen opportunities where others see high risk and failure. In an atmosphere of difficulty, when others would have given up, he took the risk. He is known for taking great risks in a highly risky environment.

He has grown to have a Midas touch in every business he ventured into. He started as a commodity trader, he made success of it, he entered into sugar refining, and he made success of it. He set up cement manufacturing; he has made a huge success of it.

Now he is venturing into petroleum product refining. His hard work has set him apart to the envy of his detractors who only see him as a beneficiary of government waiver and concession. But there are others who have had the same benefit but could not make anything tangible from it.

That has brought success to him, his family, state and his country. He has invested in the various sectors of the Nigerian economy and across the African continent thus creating millions of direct and indirect jobs in the continent of Africa. He has become a business colossus that bestrides the global business environment, making him the richest African today.

Undeterred by Risks & Uncertainties

In one of the articles written by Jonathan Berman in Harvard Business review entitled; American CEOs should Stop Complaining about Uncertainty, he wrote how uncertainty has not deterred Aliko Dangote from investing in Nigeria and across Africa. In the write-up, Barman said: “This month, the chief executive officers of America’s biggest companies went on a media blitz to decry the uncertainty caused by the fiscal cliff. In such uncertain times, they say, they are hesitant to invest in the US economy.

I departed Washington in the midst of these rumblings to attend a forum of Africa’s leading CEOs. Here’s a quick sample of the scheduled participants: Aliko Dangote, CEO of Dangote Cement. He’s building a $2 billion fertilizer plant in his native Nigeria. He recently announced the next two growth markets for sizeable investment by his group are Iraq and Myanmar.

“For Dangote and many other executives in frontier markets, uncertainty is not the inhibitor of opportunity. It is the condition in which opportunity arises. That is a reasonable perspective to look for in American CEOs as well.” The moving force behind private enterprise all over the world is what Adam Smith described as the invisible hand that allocates resources in the most uncertain environment.

It is real entrepreneurs that see opportunity in very risky areas, yet go in there with the hope of making profit. Business is about taking risk and any local entrepreneur that is not ready to take risk is not a genuine businessman. Dangote saw opportunities in the very uncertain and tough business environment in Nigeria. From trading in rice, sugar and other commodities, he veered into manufacturing in an environment many foreign and local investors see as very risky.

Alhaji   Aliko Dangote’s business empire is estimated at a net worth of $20.8 billion as of November 2013 spanning interests in commodities with operations in Nigeria and several other countries in Africa , including Benin, Cameroon, Togo , Ghana, South Africa  and Zambia. Dangote in 2013 was ranked by Forbes Magazine   as the 43rd richest person in the world and the richest man in Africa based on his investment and the listing of his companies’ interest at the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Taking some of his companies to the exchange has given other Nigerians opportunities to share in his success and has shown that he operates his companies in an open manner.

Early life

Alhaji Aliko Dangote, a northerner, precisely from Kano State, Nigeria, was born on the 10th of April 1957 into a wealthy Muslim family. He studied Business at the Al-Azhar University   in Cairo, Egypt   and thereafter returned to Nigeria to borrow from his uncle, Sanusi Abdulkadir Dantata. The uncle (Dantata) eventually gave him a loan of N500,000 when he was just 21 years old to start his own business.

Business career

The Dangote Group which started as a small trading firm was established in the year 1977. Today, it is a multi-trillion naira   conglomerate with many of its operations in Benin, Ghana , Nigeria, and Togo. At present, Dangote has enlarged his line of businesses to also cover food processing, cement manufacturing and freight. The Dangote Group also dominates the sugar and cement markets in Nigeria and is a major sugar supplier to Nigeria’s soft drink   companies, breweries , and confectioners.

The Dangote Group has also moved from being a trading company to being the largest industrial group in Nigeria and the group includes: Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement and Dangote Flour   just to mention but a few. He plans to set up the largest petroleum product refinning facility in Nigeria.

In the month of July 2012, he approached the Nigerian Ports Authority with the idea of leasing an abandoned piece of land at the Apapa Port, which was welcomed and approved. He later went to build facilities for his flour company there. In the 90’s, he approached the Central Bank of Nigeria with a proposal that it would be cheaper for the bank to allow his transport company manage their fleet of staff buses which was also approved.

He owns the Obajana Cement plant which is the largest cement manufacturing facility in Africa. Apart from these, Dangote Group owns salt factories and flour mills and also a major importer of rice, fish, pasta and fertilizer. The company exports cotton, cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seed and ginger to several countries. It also has major investments in real estate, banking, transport, textiles and oil and gas.

The company employs over 11,000 people and is the largest industrial conglomerate in the whole of West Africa. Dangote is also exploring the telecommunications sector and has started building 14,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables to supply the whole of Nigeria and as a result, he was honoured in January 2009 as the leading provider of employment in the Nigerian construction industry.

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, continues to expand his publicly traded Dangote Cement across the continent, announcing plans to build new plants in Kenya and Niger. With operations in about eight countries, it is the largest cement manufacturer in sub-Sahara Africa.

In May 2013, Dangote said he would build a $9 billion oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Nigeria. When completed, it will be Nigeria’s first and Africa’s largest petroleum refinery.

His words; “As an investor who believes in Nigeria, knows Nigeria well and whose prosperity was made in Nigeria, we have responded to the challenge with our decision to invest $ 9 billion in a refinery/petrochemical and fertilizer complex to be located at the OKLNG Free Trade Zone.   This complex will be the largest industrial complex project ever in the history of our great nation.

On the 14th of November, 2011, Dangote was awarded a National Honour, Nigeria’s second highest honour, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger   (GCON ) by the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan .

Apart from his business acumen, he is also a philanthropist who has collaborated with American billionaire, Bill Gates Foundation to invest in the provision of health especially the eradication of polio in Africa and other parts of the world where the disease is still prevalent.

The DANGOTE Group consists of:

Dangote Cement Plc

Dangote Sugar Refinery  Plc

Dangote Flour Mills Plc

 Dangote Pasta Plant Limited

Dangote Agro Sacks Limited

Prayer Mats Production

Dangote Salt Plc

Ports Operations

Haulage

Steel Production

Dangote Foods Limited

Real Estate

Telecommunications

Oil Refinery, Petrochemicals and Fertilisers

The Philanthropic side of Dangote

To underscore his belief in giving back to the society, Aliko Dangote, through his Dangote Foundation, has over the years committed a lot of his resources into philanthropic activities.

The Dangote Foundation which was set up in 1994 is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Dangote Group.   The Foundation intervenes in the areas of health, education and empowerment. The Foundation is also involved in providing humanitarian aid to victims of natural disasters. It has contributed over $100 million (about N16 billion) in charitable funds to several causes in Nigeria and Africa over the past four years.

Dangote recently announced plans to endow the Foundation with N200 billion ($1.25 billion). He said the endowment would come from personal contributions as well as shares of his publicly quoted companies, which would be transferred to the Foundation for onward disbursement to beneficiaries. He added that this will ensure that the Foundation has secure and steady funding to carry out its mission as we significantly scale up our work.

images (3)Board of Trustees of the Foundation include Dangote as Chairman; his brother, Sani; his daughter, Halima Aliko Dangote; Chief Operating Officer, Dangote Industries Limited, Olakunle Alake; A.B Mahmoud (SAN); former Group Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede; wife of the former Ekiti State Governor, Angela Adebayo; wife of the former Managing Director/CEO Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Hajara Adeola; and Group Chief Executive Officer, Renaissance Capital West Africa, Mrs. Yvonne Ike-Fasinro.

SOME OF DANGOTE’S CSR INTERVENTIONS:

$500,000 to boost UNICEF’s fight against measles

The Dangote Foundation contributed $500,000 (N79.15 million) through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support the Federal Government’s response to recent measles outbreak that affected many states in Nigeria. The donation was announced on April 12, 2013 in Lagos during a visit to the office of the Chairman of Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote, by a delegation of the UNICEF led by the Country Representative, Ms. Jean Gough. Gough lauded Dangote Foundation saying: “Public-Private sector interventions such as these in the health sector and other sectors such as water and early childhood development are the way forward for Nigeria to improve the well-being of Nigerian children.” The grant is a major contribution to government’s fight against measles which is among the leading causes of child deaths in Nigeria, especially in areas where immunization coverage is low.

The grant from Dangote Foundation, Ms. Gough pointed out, will support the measles campaign of the government through its Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).   Dangote said the issue of health and safe living was a core responsibility in the discharge of the corporate social responsibility of the Foundation pointing out that “we have a common synergy with UNICEF in the areas of health, education and nutrition and we hope that our efforts will encourage more private sector operators to engage with on­going efforts to improve the well-being of Nigerians.”

$6.4m to International Cancer Centre Abuja (ICCA)

Dangote Foundation made a donation of $6.4 million towards building a world class International Cancer Centre in Abuja, in 2009. The donation is to strengthen the fight against the disease.   The International Cancer Centre Abuja (ICCA) was initiated by Dr. Hajiya Turai Umaru Yar’Adua, former First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as a non-­ governmental humanitarian project devoted to training, research and diagnosis of various forms of cancer. It is intended to be a one-stop centre, providing a comprehensive range of high quality, holistic and cost effective treatment for cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa. The centre will actively engage in research geared towards prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Education and public awareness programmes will be employed as tools for cancer control and prevention.

Donates dialysis machines to Lagos General Hospital

Dangote Foundation, in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Victoria Island, donated two dialysis machines to the Dialysis Centre of the Lagos General Hospital, Marina, in April 2010, to facilitate treatment of patients with acute and chronic kidney disease. In addition, the Foundation provides all the consumables used for the treatment. This has drastically reduced the treatment charges on the patients. “The machines have been of utmost importance and inestimable benefits to the patients who come from far and near to receive medical support. The machines have been very useful serving both the acute and chronic kidney patients.” – Dr. Sade Soyinka, Dialysis Centre at Lagos General Hospital, Marina, Lagos

$ 2.6m to flood victims & women in Kogi

President/Chief Executive, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, on October 5, 2012, announced a donation of $2.6 million (N430 million) to victims of the flood disaster and for women empowerment in Kogi State. At a ceremony attended by top government functionaries in the state capital, Lokoja, Dangote said the contribution which is given through his Dangote Foundation is meant to complement the efforts of the government in providing relief materials to the victims and in resettling them as soon as possible. Dangote who gave out $312,500 (N50 million) worth of foodstuff and relief materials, and $937,000 (N150 million) in cash, also said $1.4 million (N230 million) would be distributed to 1,000 women in each of the 21 local government areas of the state to boost economic activities.

imagesIn his speech entitled: Lending a Helping Hand,” Dangote said, he was touched by the pain the victims were passing through, noting that the flood has led to loss of lives and property and may cause outbreak of epidemic. “Obviously, the government alone cannot shoulder this onerous responsibility of bringing relief to the victims,” he said.

Partners Bank of Industry (BOI) to boost job creation

Dangote Foundation and the Bank of Industry (BOI) signed a partnership deal that will create direct employment for one million Nigerians over the next few years, on March 7, 201 1 in Lagos.

The partners announced the funds release of $32 million in the first tranche, which is expected to grow up to $128 million eventually.

Dangote Foundation committed $16 million to the fund, while BOI also contributed a matching fund of $16 million, thus creating a total fund of $32 million to launch the fund. The fund would be used for lending to groups in the informal sector of the economy, as take off or working capital to support their businesses.

The Dangote component of the fund attracts zero interest, while that of BOI is 5 per cent. This is expected to impact directly on up to 13,000 registered groups in the entire country, each with an average of 20 entrepreneurs, thus impacting the lives of up to 250,000 micro-entrepreneurs, through job creation, spreading across all six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. The project is first of its kind in the country.

Some beneficiaries of the Dangote/BOI partnership:

Ken Baxton Limited: Secured about N19 million ($118,012) loan from Dangote/BOI intervention fund at five per cent interest rate.

Stallion (Ikeja) Cooperative Multi-purpose Society Ltd: Secured a N4.8 million ($29,813) loan under the Dangote/ BOI Fund with just 5 per cent interest rate.

Afriks Vegetable Oil Multi-purpose Cooperative Society, Kano State: Secured a N5.1 million ($31,677) Dangote/BOI loan which has enabled it to expand its operations.

Kudenda Thure Multi-purpose Cooperative Society: Secured N5.25 million ($32,609) loan which has enabled it to employ more hands to run two production shifts.

Geese (Ikeja) Cooperative Society Limited: Secured N7.5 million ($46,584) loan at 5 per cent interest.

Wahabiyya Vegetable Oil and Cold Room: Secured N5.28 million ($32,795) loans under the Dangote/ BOI Fund

 *Source Vanguard Nigeria]]>

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AfDB to focus on Africa’s next 50 years at 2014 Annual Meetings in Kigali
March 16, 2014 | 1 Comments

ADB's Donald Kaberuka ADB’s Donald Kaberuka[/caption] The 49th Annual Meetings for the African Development Bank and the 40th meetings of its soft loan affiliate, the African Development Fund (ADF), will focus on the theme“The next 50 Years: The Africa we want”. The event, where key decisions about the Bank Group are made each year, is attended by Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from the Bank’s 54 regional member countries (RMCs), and attracts more than 2,500 delegates representing multilateral finance institutions, development agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, civil society and the media. This year’s meetings will take place from Monday, May 19 to Friday, May, 23, 2014 at the Kigali-Serena Annual Meetings Village. The African Development Bank Group will look towards the next half century and what it hopes to achieve on the continent during its 2014 Annual Meetings in Kigali, Rwanda. From May 19, a series of high-level seminars and side events will address the continent’s economic, social and political issues, and seek solutions to ensure a better future for Africans. The gathering will review the Bank’s 2013 operations and its 2014 development funding portfolio, as well as the objectives for the African region in key areas such as regional integration and trade, infrastructure, private sector development, job creation, governance and green growth. The African Development Bank celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014, with events throughout the year, culminating in a week-long celebration in November in Abidjan, to coincide with the Bank’s return to its official headquarters in Côte d’Ivoire. The AfDB, Africa’s premier development finance institution, was established in 1964 to mobilize resources for the economic and social development of its regional member countries (RMCs) by focusing on poverty reduction and promoting sustainable growth. The Bank has approved 4,001 loans and grants totalling UA 67.22 billion (about US $104 billion) to its RMCs from 1967 to December 31, 2013. For more information, visit the Annual Meetings website: http://www.afdb.org/am. Information on registrations for delegates and the media will be available soon.]]>

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Letter from Africa: Our dreams are valid-Time for Africa to dream
March 13, 2014 | 1 Comments

Lupita Nyong'o said the colour of this dress reminded her of Nairobi Lupita Nyong’o said the colour of this dress reminded her of Nairobi[/caption]

In our series of letters from African journalists, broadcaster and media trainer Joseph Warungu reflects on the aftermath of Lupita Nyong’o’s historic success at the Oscars.

Although the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony has come and gone, its after-effects are still being felt in Kenya. The first wave of activity happened soon after Lupita Nyong’o was announced Oscar winner for best actress in a supporting role in 12 Years A Slave. The media, especially on Twitter, went wild with jubilant Kenyans sending and sharing the news, joy and jokes. One Kenyan created much laughter by asking: “Which is this Oscar guy that Lupita has won over?”

Yet others began to wonder whether it was now time to seriously analyse what the waters of Lake Victoria – on the shores of Kisumu in Western Kenya – actually contained.

That region of the country and its Luo community have made global history for a second time. ‘Dream big’ It was the home of both Barack Obama’s father and Lupita Nyong’o’s family. Indeed, her father, Anyang Nyong’o is the Senator for Kisumu county and some of Kenya’s sharpest minds come from this region. [caption id="attachment_8849" align="alignright" width="300"]Lupita Nyong'o's success has made many Africans proud of their identity Lupita Nyong’o’s success has made many Africans proud of their identity[/caption] And thanks to her comments, we now have a blue Nairobi. The Kenyan capital has always been known as the green city in the sun, because of its parks and trees. Although with weather patterns running amok, it often feels like the great sun in the city.

But not any more. Thanks to Lupita’s comment that the beautiful light blue dress she wore at the Oscars reminded her of Nairobi, we now have Nairobi blue.

Whether this is a new colour, city, dress or state of mind, I can’t tell. What I know for certain is that Lupita’s “your dreams are valid” statement in her acceptance speech has become a catch-phrase and a rallying call for Kenyans, especially the youth, to dream big. You’ll now hear young artists and upcoming entrepreneurs saying that they will push themselves to rise to the highest ranks – because their dreams are valid. ‘Collective heart failure’ Lupita’s victory at the Oscars is a demonstration that the African craft of telling or portraying stories is at the highest global standard. The fact that she won and faced the world without lightening her dark skin complexion, or extending her short African hair, makes another statement – that an authentic African identity does not have to be negotiable for Africa to be heard loud and clear across the planet.

Proudly African, Lupita even gave the Western world collective heart failure as they struggled to pronounce her second name correctly.

As an ever-optimistic believer that Africa will soon take over the world, I feel the time has come for the continent to dream mega and now use its own voice to narrate the African experience. Hollywood is one of the biggest factories and exporters of Western culture and the American experience. And Africa is a big importer of the same. ‘Global fashion’ But the boot is gradually shifting to the other foot with Africa already exporting its sporting talent, its innovations and some of its culture from sources such as the Nigerian Nollywood film industry. [caption id="attachment_8850" align="alignleft" width="300"]Ivorian footballer Didier Drogba has shown Africa's talent on the sports field Ivorian footballer Didier Drogba has shown Africa’s talent on the sports field[/caption] Now we must export our thinking. When the world begins to think what we think and why we think it, our story will move from what author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie describes as the single story, to being understood in its truly complex weave of the African. For this to happen we have to believe that our dreams are valid and that only we can validate those dreams. It’s also about believing in ourselves as Africans – that we can change the world, even if it’s one colour at a time. Lupita’s Nairobi blue certainly seems to have the potential of becoming the new black on the global fashion scene. *Source BBC]]>

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All eyes on $1 trillion:African agribusiness is set for a huge leap, according to a World Bank report
March 8, 2014 | 0 Comments
[caption id="attachment_8756" align="alignleft" width="300"]Workers plucking tea from plants growing on a hillside on the Mata tea estate. As Rwanda’s biggest export earner, tea is a very important part of the country’s development process. - Workers plucking tea from plants growing on a hillside on the Mata tea estate. As Rwanda’s biggest export earner, tea is a very important part of the country’s development process. –[/caption] Imagine for a moment the impact of a $1 trillion African agribusiness sector on the lives of Africans. Currently worth about $313 billion, the sector already provides jobs for 70% of the poorest people on the continent. An increase greater than threefold will bring jobs to lift millions out of poverty; most stomachs will be filled with nutritious meals, Africa’s agricultural exports will dominate global markets, and the continent’s farmers, who have borne the brunt of harsh economic conditions, will get a new lease of life as they become competitive in the global marketplace. This is not an unreachable dreamland, a World Bank report published in March 2013 argues that it could soon be a reality. The report, Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness, projects that African agribusiness could be worth $1 trillion by 2030. It’s the latest in a string of positive reports about the continent’s socioeconomic development prospects, despite political instability in a handful of countries. No magic wand But no magic wand will cause a $313 billion agribusiness sector to grow into a $1 trillion behemoth. The World Bank cautions that everyone will have to work hard—governments, the private sector, farmers, and so on. However, the elements for a pole-vault jump are in place. For example, in addition to huge, untapped water resources, Africa has more than 50% of the world’s fertile and unused land—that’s a whopping 450 million hectares. The continent uses only 2% of its renewable water resources, while the global average is 5%. The steady and increasing private sector interest in African agribusiness is just the icing on the cake. Also, while global prices of agricultural commodities are rising due to increasing demand, supply of these commodities is slowing due to factors like land degradation and water scarcity in many countries, especially in Asia. “Water scarcity has become a major constraint because of competition from rapidly growing industrial sectors and urban populations,” states the Word Bank. Yet Africa has both water and land in abundance. At first glance, the World Bank report paints a glowing—even celebratory—picture of African agribusiness prospects. But the report also rigorously highlights many stubborn and recurring obstacles in the path of development progress. It states that “to generate the jobs, incomes and food so badly needed for Africa’s growing population over the next 20 years, agro-industries need to undergo a structural transformation,” and it calls for more concerted investment in the sector. Infrastructural needs African agribusiness desperately needs improved infrastructure. “Infrastructure is a high priority for jump-starting agribusiness throughout Africa. Best bets for infrastructure are irrigation, roads, and markets,” according to the report. In 2010, for instance, Africa produced 1,300 kilograms of cereals per hectare of arable land, which was about half of what South Asia produced per hectare, according to the World Bank. A major reason for that low production is the African countries’ low percentage of irrigated arable land, only 3% on average compared to a 47% average for Asian countries, states the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). On top of that, a lack of rural roads impedes farmers’ access to markets and increases post-harvest losses. Although increased financing is needed in the agribusiness sector, there have been improvements lately, notes the report. Even so, only 7% of Africa’s agriculture comes from foreign direct investments, compared to 78% for Asia. The good news is that due to rising commodity prices, “the appetite is growing among investors, private equity, and investment and sovereign funds to tap into Africa’s agriculture and agribusiness markets.” Partially because of the lack of infrastructure and investment, a continent with half of the world’s fertile land spends $33 billion on food imports annually, including $3.5 billion on rice imports. Gone are those years, in the early 1990s, when sub-Saharan Africa was a net exporter of agricultural products. Currently, imports are as much as 30% greater than exports. The report suggests it should be astonishing that developing countries such as Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand export more food products than all of sub-Saharan Africa combined. “The value of agricultural exports from Thailand (a country of 66 million people) now exceeds that of all sub-Saharan Africa (a region of 800 million people).” This situation is not sustainable, says Gaiv Tata, the World Bank director for financial and private sector development in Africa. “African farmers and businesses must be empowered through good policies, increased public and private investments and strong public-private partnerships.” African leaders face the challenge It’s not as if African leaders need any convincing about the need for more investments in agriculture, but more actions must match their words. In 2003, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), an African Union framework for the continent’s socioeconomic development, launched the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) “to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty through agriculture.” By signing on to CAADP, most African governments agreed to invest at least 10% of their national budgets in agriculture and to raise agricultural productivity by at least 6%. Through CAADP, Africa is slowly but steadily moving forward. Countries such as Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda and others have placed agriculture at the top of their development priorities list. Martin Bwalya, the head of CAADP, says that over the past years, 40 countries have either signed the compact or finalized investment plans while 13 others have yet to sign up to CAADP. However, the NEPAD 2014 report highlights that just nine out of Africa’s 54 countries have met the target of 10% of budget allocation, while another group of nine are currently spending between 5% and 10%. To commemorate 10 years of CAADP, African leaders declared 2014 “the Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.” With African agriculture growing at 4%, the leaders hope to build on that momentum in the coming years. Even these modest gains are commendable, analysts believe. They are a “strong contrast to what many acknowledge to be inadequate or even nonexistent national strategies that previously governed Africa’s agricultural sector,” according to the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank. Hennie van der Merwe, CEO of the South Africa–based Agribusiness Development Corporation, adds that “Africa is currently experiencing a revival in terms of its focus on agribusiness, not only to increase food self-sufficiency, but also to create jobs and economic activity, specifically in rural areas.” The World Bank concurs: “Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Zimbabwe all have been successful exporters in terms of market share.… Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Zambia stand out as African success stories in terms of significant increases in export market shares since 1991.” Land problems Political commitment and investment aside, another lingering problem is land allocation and acquisition. Farmers in many countries cannot expand their farming because they have limited access to land, and discriminatory laws sometimes prevent women from gaining ownership. The World Bank report addresses the need for judicious and equitable land allocations, stressing that such allocations shouldn’t threaten people’s livelihoods. Land purchases also need to follow ethical standards for example, buyers should pay fair market rates after consultation with local communities. In 2011, the Oakland Institute, a US-based think tank, reported unfair land deals in South Sudan, under which foreign companies bought up fertile and mostly uncultivated land. Such deals did not clarify land tenure and usage, and worse, even threatened the land rights of rural communities. “Governments and investors must also put in place effective environmental and social safeguards to reduce potential risks of agribusiness investments, especially those associated with large-scale land acquisitions by investors,” the institute advised. Taking the ICT route Experts generally agree that technology, particularly information and communication technology (ICT), will boost agriculture. In an earlier report titled ICT for Agriculture in Africa, the World Bank listed ways in which ICT could support agriculture at every stage: pre-cultivation (crop and land selection, access to credit, etc.) crop cultivation and harvesting (land preparation, management of water, fertilizer and pest control, etc.) and post-harvest (marketing, transportation, packaging, food processing, etc.). Geographical information systems (GIS) can be used for land-use planning and climate change adaptation, for example, the Bank stated. Already farmers in Kenya and Zimbabwe have deployed ICT in ways that have increased their income and productivity. Charles Dhewa, a Zimbabwean communication specialist, in 2012 launched eMkambo, an integrated virtual market where farmers and buyers share knowledge and transact business by means of mobile phones (See Africa Renewal December 2013 edition). Farmers are also using ICT in other ways: to share new production processing and marketing skills in Burkina Faso to trace mangoes via a system that connects Malian farmers to global consumers to garner important information that improves forest governance in Liberia to provide SMS-based services developed by Zambia’s National Farmers Union. The World Bank says such ICT initiatives have been successful in part because “real economic value was added either because of savings resulting from the use of ICT or an increase in revenue or profitability.” Such is the importance of ICT to agriculture that in 2011 the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN agency dedicated to poverty eradication in developing countries, called for policy innovations to make technology the main driver of African agriculture. There is still some distance to cover to realize the dream of a $1 trillion agribusiness. But many hands are already on deck. Ghana and Senegal are forging ahead with rice production Zambia’s 88 million hectares of available land are said to be quite suitable for maize and Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria already account for two thirds of the world’s cocoa. There is abundant water and land, increasing private sector investment and political commitment, all of which provide flickers of hope for a sector under revival. The World Bank says that an African agribusiness sector is not just important for the sake of Africa but “essential for ensuring global food security.” *Source Africa Renewal
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