Buhari-Jonathan contest for Nigerian presidency
December 12, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Aderogba Obisesan* Lagos (AFP) – Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari will face Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria’s presidential election next year, with security to the forefront after scores were killed in renewed deadly violence.
In a bloody sign of the task ahead, at least 31 people were killed in a double bombing at a market in the central city of Jos on Thursday, emergency services said.
And in the northern city of Kano, a senior security source said a 13-year-old girl wearing a suicide vest was arrested on Wednesday, the latest example of Boko Haram Islamists sending out women suicide bombers.
The security source said the girl was part of the “suicide team” that had attacked a Kano textile market that same day. That attack, carried out by two female suicide bombers, left four people dead.
Amid the onslaught, Nigeria’s main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) primary chose Buhari as its presidential candidate for next year’s election.
President Jonathan meanwhile was endorsed unopposed by his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at a meeting in the capital, Abuja, on Wednesday night.
At the event, the head of state said the security situation in Nigeria’s far northeast, which has borne the brunt of the Islamist violence, was “improving a little”.
The military has reported successes against the militants in recent days but its ability to protect civilians in all parts of the country has been repeatedly called into question.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA9Ea_ChI18&list=UUKnyVIW5QvfnsXddsjFKx4A
Also on Wednesday, 11 people were killed in a suspected Boko Haram raid on Gajiganna, in Borno state, where the militants have seized towns as part of their quest for a hardline Islamic state.
– A new broom? –
Buhari, who seized power from civilian president Shehu Shagari in 1983 and was himself ousted in a military coup in 1985, is widely seen as a better bet to tackle the five-year insurgency.
In his acceptance speech Thursday, the 71-year-old criticised the government for failing to locate and rescue the 219 schoolgirls held hostage by Boko Haram since mid-April.
“I stand before you today to ask that you join me in a common cause,” he told delegates
“I will resolve to make things better for Nigeria,” he said, calling for unity in the religiously divided nation, which is split between a Muslim-majority north and mostly Christian south.[caption id="attachment_14736" align="alignright" width="300"] A party supporter holds a poster of the opposition All Progressives Congress presidential aspirant Mohammadu Buhari, at the party’s presidential primary in Lagos on December 11, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)[/caption]
Jonathan and his ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s perceived inability — some say unwillingness — to tackle insecurity has been a key plank of the APC campaign.
It has also centred on what the party asserts is the administration’s failure to address endemic corruption and impunity in high office.
Buhari gained a reputation while in power for having no truck with corruption and some see a return to his methods — although criticised at the time by human rights groups — as long overdue.
He was presented with a ceremonial broom after his victory, which national chairman John Oyegun said he should use “to sweep away all the evils that have bedevilled this country”.
– ‘Sweat and toil’ –
Before Wednesday’s all-night vote in Lagos, the man famous for his “War Against Indiscipline” put integrity at the heart of his campaign as he promised not to rule Nigeria but to govern democratically.
“I am not a rich person,” Buhari told a cheering crowd.
“I can’t give you a pocketful of dollars or naira to purchase your support. Even if I could, I would not do so. The fate of this nation is not up for sale.[caption id="attachment_14738" align="alignleft" width="300"] Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan (L) delivers a speech next to PDP National Chairman Adamu Muazu, after winning a presidential primary in Abuja, on December 11, 2014 (AFP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga)[/caption]
“What I will give you, and this nation is all of my strength, commitment, sweat and toil in the service of the people. What I can give you is my all.”Buhari won the presidential primary with 3,430 votes. A total of 6,008 votes were cast out of 7,214 registered delegates. There were 16 invalid votes.
The February 14, 2015 presidential vote is expected to be the opposition alliance’s best chance of seizing power since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999.
Last time round in 2011, Jonathan secured nearly 22.5 million votes or nearly 59 percent of the ballots cast.
Buhari, who also lost the 2003 and 2007 elections, scored 12.2 million votes in the last polls but could benefit from the APC’s better funding and organisation next year.*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>
Angola sovereign fund allocates $1.6bn to Africa projects
December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments
Chris Vellacott in London* [caption id="attachment_14684" align="alignleft" width="300"] Jose Filomeno dos Santos, chairman of Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA)/ Photo©ScreenShot[/caption] Oil-rich Angola’s sovereign wealth fund has set aside $1.6 billion to back infrastructure and hotel projects across sub-Saharan Africa, though falling energy prices could slow future flows of new money into its coffers. In an investment update for the three months to September 30, the Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA) said on Wednesday its net value now stands at $4.95 billion, net of running costs taken out of the original $5 billion endowed by the government. The FSDEA said it is investing $1.1 billion in an infrastructure fund that will focus on investments in energy, transport and industrial projects in Angola and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. It has also allocated $500 million to a Hotel Fund for Africa, aiming to address a “significant undersupply” of top-end hotels in the continent. The fund will be able to incur debt up to 50 percent, which could double its total investment capability, the FSDEA said. However, a drop in oil prices this year will likely limit the amount of money Angola is willing to pay into the fund in future. Future endowments will come from the surplus from oil revenues after the state has financed fiscal stability measures. “Obviously the requirements for the funds which are available to be transferred have increased with the reduction of revenues by the state,” fund chairman Jose Filomeno dos Santos told Reuters. Dos Santos said falling oil prices reinforced the importance of the fund, which was launched to manage a proportion of Angola’s oil revenues for the benefit of future generations. By investing in infrastructure such as ports and roads, it can help Angola diversify its economy away from dependence on oil exports, he argued. “We believe, in cases like this, the best outcome is for there to be a sensible decision, to invest in the right things and prevent worse scenarios in the future,” dos Santos said. The fund’s quarterly report shows around 63 percent of the portfolio is currently invested in high-quality bonds while around 12 percent is in equities. A 25 percent allocation to cash is now much reduced since the end of the reporting period because the “great majority” was deployed to the infrastructure and hotel funds, dos Santos said. The funds are run autonomously as private equity style vehicles by Zurich-based Quantum Global Investment Management, dos Santos said, adding he could not disclose individual investments under consideration. *Source theafricareport]]>
Grace Mugabe profile: The rise of Zimbabwe's first lady
December 5, 2014 | 1 Comments
Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe has taken centre stage as the ruling Zanu-PF party holds an important meeting on the future leadership of the country. BBC Africa’s Zimbabwe correspondent Brian Hungwe charts her rise.President Robert Mugabe began wooing Grace Marufu over tea and scones while the young typist was working in state house. “He came to me and started asking about my family,” she said in a rare interview about their first encounter in the late 1980s. “I looked at him as a father figure. I did not think he would at all look at me and say: ‘I like that girl.’ I least expected that.”
A divorcee with a son, she says she was initially hesitant about such a relationship. Mr Mugabe is more than 40 years her senior and his first wife Sally, a Ghanaian who was much loved in Zimbabwe, was terminally ill at the time.But insiders say that during office tea breaks Mr Mugabe continued to work his charm. Mr Mugabe has said Sally did give her consent to the union before she died in 1992 – though they did not marry until four years later. Together the first couple have three children, the last born in 1997. Grace Mugabe has since grown into a powerful businesswoman and sees herself as a philanthropist, founding an orphanage on a farm just outside the capital, Harare, with the help of Chinese funding. But a new road sign reading “Dr Grace Mugabe Way” – put up near the dusty piece of land near the Zanu-PF headquarters as delegates gathered for the party congress – shows how her ambitions have broadened in the last year. [caption id="attachment_14521" align="alignleft" width="624"] Mrs Mugabe runs a dairy and markets the products under the Alpha Omega Dairy label[/caption] The 49-year-old is believed to have earned her sociology PhD in two months from the University of Zimbabwe. Her thesis is reportedly about orphanages but has not been filed in the university library. However, the doctorate gives the first lady gravitas – and within weeks of being capped, campaign material with her new title appeared at rallies around the country as she prepared to take over the leadership of the Zanu-PF women’s wing after being nominated for the role in August. Sharp tongue It is fair to say Mrs Mugabe evokes strong emotions – her fans applaud her style and forthright nature, her detractors have nicknamed her “Gucci Grace” and “DisGrace” because of her alleged appetite for extravagant shopping. Her entry into the president’s life did seem to change his ideological outlook – he had always been a Marxist with a Pan-Africanist inclination. Fay Chung, Mr Mugabe’s former education minister, says he was not materialistic and lacked a proper understanding of budgeting. In the mid-1980s, Zanu-PF gave Mr Mugabe a big piece of land in the upmarket Harare suburb of Borrowdale to build a home on. But it lay undeveloped for a decade-and-a-half until Grace Mugabe became involved. Now the first family have vast properties, businesses and farms dotted around the country, mainly in the rich western and northern Mashonaland provinces. She is known to be tough – at one time kicking some farm workers and their families off land – but she is usually modest and reserved in interviews. Her political rallies during her “meet the nation” tour have shown a new surprising side to the first lady – her sharp tongue. As she took to the podium in each of the country’s 10 provinces, she was unrelenting, using chilling words, in Shona and English, to pick on her opponents. “‘Stop it. Ndakakumaka rough (I don’t like you and I’m watching you),” she warned. She also lashed out at the late Heidi Holland, the Zimbabwean-born author of Dinner with Mugabe, saying she had died because she had been cursed for writing lies about her husband. ‘Refreshing departure’ For Zimbabweans, it was like a soap opera – she washed the ruling party’s dirty linen in public, calling on those she picked on to resign or apologise.
Her main target was Vice-President Joyce Mujuru, and politicians linked to the independence fighter suddenly woke up to allegations of assassination plots. She said some of them had spent time plotting to oust her husband.[caption id="attachment_14523" align="alignleft" width="624"] She toured all of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces holding rallies[/caption] A week later, state-owned media made sensational claims of senior government officials going abroad scouting for a hit man to finish off Mr Mugabe. When Mrs Mugabe returned home from a trip to the Vatican in October, walking behind her husband, she openly refused to shake Mrs Mujuru’s hand. At rallies she explained her behaviour, saying the vice-president should be sacked from government because she was “corrupt, an extortionist, incompetent, a gossiper, a liar and ungrateful”. Her tirade continued. Mrs Mujuru was “power-hungry, daft, foolish, divisive and a disgrace”, she said, accusing her of collaborating with opposition forces and white people to undermine the country’s post-independence gains. Party youths have warned that they do not want to see Mrs Mujuru at the Zanu-PF congress – she has already been barred from serving on its powerful central committee because of the allegations, which she denies. Charity Manyeruke, a pro-Zanu PF political analyst, says Mrs Mugabe’s approach is a “refreshing departure from the culture of not being very open about issues of serious concern”. Kudzanai Chipanga, Zanu-PF youth chairperson, agrees: “She hates corruption – she will be a good leader.” But for senior party leaders, like veteran Cephas Msipa, the attacks on Mrs Mujuru and others are “unAfrican” and they fear they could “split the party”. Succession The first lady has had praise for some, saying Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who like Mrs Mujuru has been seen as a successor to Mr Mugabe, is “loyal and disciplined”. And she has not denied the speculation that she may one day wish to replace her 90-year-old husband herself. “They say I want to be president. Why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?” she remarked at one rally. Marcellina Chikasha, leader of the small new African Democratic Party (ADP), says Mrs Mugabe’s “phenomenal rise to power” has astounded many who consider themselves her “intellectual and political superior”. [caption id="attachment_14519" align="alignright" width="624"] Vice-President Joyce Mujuru – part of the political elite – was the target of some of Mrs Mugabe’s attacks[/caption] “Call her shrewd, power hungry or plain old ‘being in the right place at the right time’ – this typist has become a kingmaker in Zimbabwe’s succession politics,” she says. “She is tenacious and determined; she is naive and unpolished; she is feared and has been known always to get what she wants.” *Source BBC]]>
Lobbying in Africa: Nightmare on K street
November 28, 2014 | 0 Comments
In November, a small army of earnest-looking Americans and Britons clutching an array of mobile phones and tablets will invade Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. They are the rockstars of political spin, and they will earn hundreds of thousands of dollars for their services over the next few months. The mission is to ensure that their candidate wins a decisive victory in what is set to be Nigeria’s closest presidential elections next February. US President Barack Obama’s former campaign adviser, David Axelrod, has signed with the opposition All Progressives Congress. Likely to work alongside him are BTP Advisers, an up-and-coming British outfit that advised Uhuru Kenyatta in his successful election battle against Raila Odinga in Kenya last year. On incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan’s team is veteran strategist Joe Trippi, who pioneered mass fundraising on the internet. Trippi worked with Atiku Abubakar on a presidential bid in 2007 and then with Jonathan on his successful 2011 election campaign. Alongside Trippi and well placed for another contract with Jonathan is Bell Pottinger, a British company whose founder Tim Bell helped Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher win three consecutive elections in Britain. Nigeria is, just ahead of Egypt and Morocco, Africa’s biggest spender on image-making. Each year it spends tens of millions of dollars on registered lobbyists, law firms and public relations companies to get its case across to foreign governments and media. Egypt and Morocco hire lobbyists in Washington DC with specific goals: Cairo wants to protect its billions of dollars of US military aid, and Rabat wants to build US support for its claims on Western Sahara. Beyond state spending, Africa’s political parties and companies are fuelling a massive expansion in the communications business, in and about the continent. Foreign campaign advisers are a feature of almost every African election, from Angola to Zimbabwe. African companies are raising capital and their profiles across the world, and hiring image-makers to help them. This is by far the biggest growth sector. Back in Nigeria, the gloves are off ahead of the 2015 election. A colleague of Trippi’s tells The Africa Report that Jonathan is clearly headed for victory as the opposition politicians struggle to pick a presidential candidate. In contrast, he says: “Jonathan would win the candidacy for the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) by acclamation.” Trippi nearly launched a revolution in Zimbabwe when he worked with Australian strategist Lynton Crosby for oppositionist Morgan Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections. They set up a parallel vote tabulation to detect rigging. Tsvangirai supporters simply photographed the results, which under a new law had to be shown outside each polling station, and texted them to the Movement for Democratic Change party headquarters. To help, Trippi and Crosby smuggled in hundreds of mobile camera phones hidden in consignments of breakfast cereal trucked into the capital. Unsurprisingly, Mark Pursey of BTP Advisers does not share the Trippi camp’s optimism about the incumbent’s prospects in Nigeria: “If Jonathan is to win this election, he will have to do some nasty things […] such as divide the country on religious grounds and stop the north from voting.” Elections in Nigeria are the most expensive in Africa. But there is less hostility to foreign advisers than there used to be, according to Jonathan Lehrle, a partner at Bell Pottinger: “US or British companies used to carry a stigma in Africa. It suggested that parties were out of touch, but with leaders like Obama and [David] Cameron hiring international advisers, there is less resistance.” Independent polling Foreigners have a clearly defined role “on polling, strategy and messaging”, according to Lehrle, who has worked in Zambia, Kenya and Madagascar. He added that independent and professional polling is critical: “One company produced a poll in Zambia which claimed to be accurate within a range of plus or minus 10%. That means it could be 20% off the mark, so effectively useless.” Informally, the campaign in Nigeria started a year ago when opposition parties got state governors from the ruling PDP to defect. This explains the spike in Nigerian spending on lobbyists. US Justice Department records show that in June, Levick, a communications firm based on K Street in Washington DC, won a $1.2m contract with the state-owned News Agency of Nigeria to help tell the government’s story about Boko Haram. Levick’s contract came less than a year after Nigeria agreed a four-month contract worth $300,000 with another DC company, Mercury Public Affairs. And in September 2013, Nigeria’s national security adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, signed a $3m contract with Patton Boggs for security advice. Jennifer Cooke, the director of the Africa programme at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is sceptical about this proliferation of contracts: “There are so many competing messages for Nigeria, I’m not sure it has been effective at all. Jonathan has retained so many lobby firms but this has failed to stem an unrelenting critical narrative.” According to Robert Watkinson of London-based Portland Communications, the growth of social media has made the influence business more com- plex and demanding in Africa: “With the recent advances in connectivity, not- ably the growth of digital media, Africa has entered a new era in which Africans, rather than outsiders, are shaping the narrative about their continent.” Its top clients, such as philanthropist Mo Ibrahim and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, are changing Africa’s standing, says Watkinson: “The ‘Africa rising’ mantra is a Western narrative. Mo Ibrahim is challenging that binary view that it’s either Afro-pessimism or Afro-optimism. Instead, he calls for Afro-realism,” which means understanding the complexity of fast economic growth in some areas but continuing problems of governance. Portland’s survey of Tweets over the past two years shows the rise of social media in Africa. In last year’s Kenyan elections, US-based cable news network CNN carried a story about a gang organising political violence. “But it turned out to be a hoax,” says Watkinson, “that became clear because Kenyans responded to it on Twitter and shot it down.” Threats of violence haunted those elections, the first since clashes broke out after the 2007 post-election crisis in which more than 1,200 people were killed and 300,000 were chased from their homes. Two British political consultants – BTP Advisers and Bell Pottinger – advised Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, respectively. The flag vs the court Kenyatta currently faces charges of crimes against humanity at the Inter- national Criminal Court for his role in those events. Mark Pursey of BTP worked on Kenyatta’s nationalist stance: that the charges were a Western campaign against him and deputy president William Ruto. When hardliners accused the British High Commission of planning a coup against Kenyatta if he won, Pursey was caught in the middle but had little sympathy for the diplomats: “I think they [British diplomats] were biased and trying to be clever, actually. Some of the things that were said by the high commissioner [Christian Turner] on camera and on the record were crazy.” Under US law, lobbyists have to file reports with the Justice Department every six months. But like C. Gregory Turner, a community activist in Chicago, some do not. On 10 October, Turner was convicted by a court in Illinois for illegally lobbying on behalf of top Zimbabwean officials in contravention of US sanctions on the country. US prosecutors said the Zimbabwean officials had promised to pay $3.4m to Turner and his associate, Prince Asiel Ben Israel, after they had claimed they were close to President Obama. Ben Israel pleaded guilty and was given a seven-month jail term. In Europe, lobbying companies are barely regulated. In a particularly messy case last year, Israeli diamond tycoon Beny Steinmetz sued Mark Malloch-Brown, a former British minister for Africa and the chairman of FTI Consulting in Europe, for breach of contract. Steinmetz, who is the subject of anti-corruption investigations in Guinea, hired FTI to represent him. He claims that Malloch Brown and FTI came under pressure from George Soros, the billionaire who campaigns against corruption, to drop him as a client in November 2012. Finally, Malloch-Brown and FTI settled by paying Steinmetz €90,000 ($114,000) in June 2013 but would not admit wrongdoing. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s edifice of companies regularly faces claims of conflict of interest. Blair insists the model is simple: the only purpose for his complex web of companies subsumed under a private trust is to stop vindictive journalists from prying into his affairs. He also has a financial consulting company, Tony Blair Associates, which has earned more than $70m since he left power in 2007. He insists that he pays all his taxes in Britain. The Blair ethical compass This work finances all his pro bono activities, such as the African Governance Initiative, which operates in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Rwanda, Liberia, Malawi. Other pro bono work includes a religious faith foundation and a sports charity. But there are grey areas. Does his pro bono work in Guinea, for example, give him influence to push through deals in the interests of his commercial associates, such as the bank JPMorgan Chase or Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska? In Britain, it is an ethical not a legal question, unless someone can prove the charitable tax-exempt status of the pro bono entities is being abused. Other countries such as Morocco and Mauritius stay more or less below the radar but can work the international lobbying system. In the past seven years, Morocco has discreetly spent some $20m lobbying Congress and the State Department, and trying to influence the media through two related entities, The Gabriel Company and the Moroccan American Center for Policy. Rabat’s lobbying gets results, notes former assistant secretary of state for Africa Chester Crocker: “Morocco has had a large and consistent presence in Washington. They are a close partner of the US government and have been for decades. They hire lobbyists, and they coordinate very effectively with like-minded countries. But they also assign first-rate hitters to Washington. They know how to work Washington and are well-connected back home. They can effectively partner with a lobby in DC.” Moroccan Muscles That translates into policy and access. In 2013 when the US proposed adding a human rights mandate to the UN peacekeeping force based in Western Sahara, the sovereignty of which is disputed between Morocco and the Polisario Front, Rabat mobilised support and op- posed the plan. The US quickly dropped it. In November 2013, President Obama welcomed King Mohammed VI to the White House for a convivial meeting. The client-lobbyist relationship is a two-way street, says Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center: “Even the best, most capable lobbies can’t spin something that doesn’t exist. If there’s nothing to highlight, there’s nothing to work with. Countries must know what they want.” When there are no clear goals for the contractor, governments cannot hold the firms accountable, he adds. One of the more effective partner- ships is between Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and K. Riva Levinson, a long-standing lobbyist on K Street. Levinson has known Johnson Sirleaf since 1997 at the height of Liberia’s civil war. They worked closely together since Johnson Sirleaf’s election as president in 2006. But the Ebola crisis in West Africa this year pushed Levinson into overdrive. Using congressional contacts, such as senators Chris Coons of Delaware and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Levinson got out the message about the fast-growing Ebola threat ahead of a special congressional hearing in August. That triggered a mission to Liberia headed by Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Then Sirleaf Johnson wrote an open letter to President Obama, warning that her country’s healthcare services had collapsed under the weight of Ebola and called for the US to help build field hospitals. Asked if she was involved in that letter, Levinson just smiles and says: “We just amplified the message.” Such mercy errands are a far cry from Levinson’s role as the steely lobbyist for Jonas Savimbi’s União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola rebels in the 1980s, or more recently as the corporate hitwoman backing US oil company Kosmos in its dispute with the Ghana government. “The action is on the continent, it’s a move away from traditional advocacy. It’s about business, the dynamic of the conversation has changed,” Levinson explains to The Africa Report. That is a message that Aubrey Hruby, a visiting fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, amplifies: “It’s the commercial mandate, working with African and foreign companies, finding out what they need.” Hruby is setting up a new outfit called the Africa Experts Network, which will aim to use its extensive commercial contacts across Africa to respond to demands for detailed information about market size and conditions. From his vantage point travelling between Africa and Europe, Marcus Courage, the chief executive of Africa Practice – which has six offices on the continent – says the traffic is now two-way and mostly in Africa: “Big foundations and institutions want to know how to communicate with Africa. Its business leaders are promoting their companies, sometimes themselves. African markets have gone global, [they are] no longer just dependent on investment from the US and Europe.” Civilians caught in middle At the other end of the economic spectrum, activists are demanding more help for civilians in Central African Republic and South Sudan. Two former US assistant secretaries of state for Africa, Crocker and Hank Cohen, are highly critical of the result of the lobbying on Sudan. “We saw a very coherent effort on South Sudan and Darfur, which dominated our policy,” explains Crocker. “People in Congress were falling over themselves to show how angry they were with the government of Sudan. This was very bipartisan – the Congressional Black Caucus, all of God’s children. Obviously, with what is going on in South Sudan, this is all quite embarrassing now.” Cohen, who argues that South Sudan should be under a UN mandate, is still more direct: “I think the policy on South Sudan is out to lunch.” South Africa is determinedly sceptical towards the lobbying business, partly because the apartheid regime spent tens of millions of dollars trying to influence governments. As South Africa’s ambassador to the US, Ebrahim Rasool, argues: “South Africa has a constituency of Americans who marched for our freedom, who took inspiration from leaders like [Nelson] Mandela. Between our history and our American constituency, lobbying has never been on the agenda.” But in South Africa, like so many other African countries, political parties bring in foreign advisers while state and private companies are spending millions on promotion overseas. Those businesses are booming more than ever and changing Africa’s image in the process. ● *Source African Report]]>
Africa's mobile money makes its way to Europe with M-Pesa
November 27, 2014 | 0 Comments
Peter Shadbolt* Snapchat may be the latest application with a new mobilepayment feature launched this week, but the idea that madeSnapcash possible was spawned more than seven years ago in Africa.
When M-Pesa came on the scene in 2007 — a money transfer system devised by Vodafone and Kenya-based Safaricom – it sparked a mini-revolution.
With the touch of a button, relatives in Nairobi could transfer cash instantly to their remote up-country families without the need for bank accounts, bureaucracy, and sometimes long journeys to settle accounts.
Initially launched as an experiment in creating a development impact through a private-sector solution, and seeded with as little as £2 million (US$3.1 million) in competition money, the system has gone from strength to strength.
M-Pesa has nearly 17 million active customers and as many as 186,000 agents worldwide. Customers make more than €900 million (US$1.1 billion) worth of person-to-person transactions a month.
In 2013, it shifted a massive US$22 billion in wireless financial transactions.
Now, the technology that was honed in Africa is being exported to Europe, with the launch of the mobile wallet technology in Romania.
“The majority of people in Romania have at least one mobile device, but more than one-third of the population do not have access to conventional banking,” said Vodafone director of mobile money, Michael Joseph.
While it is early days in Romania — the company only made its active launch in August this year — analysts are cautiously optimistic about the prospects for its success.
“By Vodafone’s estimation, 35 percent of the Romanian population don’t use banking services and, if you look at Vodafone’s footprint in Europe, Romania is one of the places where M-Pesa stands the best chance of gaining adoption,” mobile analyst for IHS Technology Jack Kent told CNN.
“In more developed markets, like the U.K. and Germany, there isn’t a role for this type of payment system. This service really works where people need an alternative to traditional banking.”
When Safaricom partnered with Vodafone, the intention had been to develop a system for women, usually the recipients of microfinance, to repay micro-loans cheaply and quickly.
But after Safaricom’s management team looked at the application, they saw it had a greater potential. Kenyans now use it to pay school fees, taxes, traffic fines, and more recently it’s been extended to give people the ability to save and to borrow.
Other more sophisticated financial services are also being introduced.
It has even extended into Kenya’s real estate and rental market with a service called Lipa Kodi— Swahili for “pay your rent.”
Kenya’s rental market is a large and growing segment (the latest census estimated there were 6.5 million rental households) as the country rapidly urbanizes. Valued at around 17.2 billion Kenyan shillings (US$200 million), it represents a fifth of the total value of the real estate market in Kenya.
Within five years, M-Pesa contributes almost 20% of Safaricom’s total revenue and has been rolled out in Egypt, Lesotho and Mozambique, before first venturing outside Africa into India.
While it was originally designed for and aimed at those at the bottom of the pyramid, M-Pesa is used by almost everyone that needs to move money in Kenya, allowing users to transfer between US$1,500–US$1,600 per day.
Recent services, such as the credit application M-Shwari, however, have come under fire over what critics claim are high levels of interest charged to Kenya’s poorest.
Even though the loans are small, typically just $300, they have a 30-day term at 7.5%. On an annualized basis, critics say, the loans attract an interest rate of about 100%.
Additionally, a higher rate of interest applies if the loan is paid either early or late and a subscriber’s savings account is frozen up to the amount due.
Nevertheless, for many analysts, M-Pesa is an example of a successful social enterprise—a system that not only has a clear social benefit but returns a profit as well. For detractors of Africa’s dependence on foreign aid, applications like M-Pesa are the way forward.
Ironically, aid organizations are using M-Pesa themselves to direct cash payments.
“When it was started, it wasn’t even conceived as a social enterprise; I don’t think it was even a popular term at the time,” Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore told CFA Magazine. “But now, USAID, which distributes aid—and often this aid evaporates; it’s stolen—these guys use M-Pesa to get the benefit directly to the person who is receiving it.”
Africa: How Young Africans Can Create Jobs
November 18, 2014 | 0 Comments
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin[/caption] Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, tells AllAfrica’s Tami Hultman why and how young Africans can drive the continent and its economy upward and forward. He was interviewed on the “State of the World Population”, the fund’s flagship report, which this year urges nations to seize the opportunity provided by the “demographic dividend” which occurs when the number of people of working age becomes larger than that of non-working age. Why do you think investing in youth can create an economic miracle and transformation in Africa? It’s simple. Africa has the most youthful population in the world today. There are 1.8 billion young people in developing countries today and Africa and Asia have 90 percent of them. Most African countries have a structure in which 70 percent of people are below ages 30 to 35. You have a situation where you have the energy, the vitality, the innovation and the creativity and potential of young people available in Africa. What they are looking for… is education. I mean proper education, quality education, skills development, entrepreneurship training, access to reproductive health and good governance. Then we will achieve the objective which we are talking about. If we do that and put that in place now, we will reach that dividend and Africa will move considerably. A large number of jobs will need to be created, to put the youth’s energy to use. How do you see those jobs happening? By encouraging start-ups. By encouraging the innovation and creativity of young people to start their own businesses. We’ll end up with small to medium-sized enterprises that will provide jobs to young people. The public or private sector in any one country cannot absorb the number of young people available to be employed, so we have to be innovative… [W]e have to create the opportunity for young people to access credit, to try out their innovative and creative ideas in order for them to be able to create jobs. Can you tell us more about the forced childhood marriage of girls? If we are going to achieve these dividends, we have to address the issue of early and forced marriage. We have to work on the issue of girls staying in school until the time of maturity so they can actually become agents of their own. That is a very important piece of what we’re talking about. These young adults must be given the information and access to reproductive health services so they can decide when they want to have children, how many they want to have, and what space they want to have between those kids. I think those are three major components of the demographic initiative. What are the obstacles to curbing child marriage? In many communities, girls are not even allowed to go to school. They are married off too early, they are required to have children too early.They disappear from the statistics. Even when they go to school, they are not allowed to stay long enough to reach maturity. Government, political leaders, community leaders, and religious leaders have to accept the issue of gender parity. They have to accept the issues of empowerment of women, and the ability of women to know who they are in society, to contribute effectively like men, in order for us to move the gender forward. Do you think civil society institutions and media can help advance that agenda by reporting on the issue? Big time, big time. I think the media has a great deal of opportunity to do that, and I believe that civil society engaging effectively and positively can actually move the agenda forward. These civil society organizations can begin to advocate for themselves. This is something that needs to happen from the ground up, where it can actually become the movement we want to have. Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa. What is the importance of taking note of Nigeria? Nigeria has the opportunity to do many great things. With some of the revenues from petroleum, young people are building capacity. With capacity they become economic participants of growth moving forward. I believe that we can do that given the fact that Nigeria has a large intellectual base. The report shows that 40 countries are in the early stages of investment in youth. Can you talk about that? Nigeria as well. In southern Nigeria and other parts of Africa there are the beginnings of this, but we need to intensify the effort. it is not a given, it is not automatic. It is something for which investments have to be made. Investments that exist now need to be increased for us to realize the dividend across the continent. How do you see the Ebola epidemic in West Africa impacting the issues raised by the report? I expect it will be a slight setback. The economies of those countries have been affected, and will be affected going forward. Given the attention and coordination that the international community has given to Ebola now, I think that we see light at the end of the tunnel; that we can overcome this. We can go back to helping those countries to get back on their feet. I believe that it is a temporary setback, but I hope that they will come into their own. Are you optimistic about Africa’s future? I’m very optimistic! Africa today has nowhere to go but upward and forward. Is there anything else you would like to say? Everything we have discussed will only happen if girls are allowed to go to school and stay in school, and reach their full potential. *Source Allafrica]]>
Burkina Faso names former foreign minister Kafando transitional president
November 17, 2014 | 1 Comments
By Mathieu Bonkoungou and Nadoun Coulibaly*
OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Authorities in Burkina Faso named former foreign minister Michel Kafando as transitional president on Monday in a key step towards returning the West African country to democracy in the wake of a brief military takeover.
Kafando was chosen as part of a charter hammered out after long time President Blaise Compaore was toppled on Oct. 31 following mass protests, only to be replaced a day later Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida.
Kafando will name a prime minister to appoint a 25-member government, but will be barred from standing at elections planned for late next year.
“The committee has just designated me to guide temporarily the destiny of our country. This is more than an honour. It’s a true mission which I will take with the utmost seriousness,” Kafando told journalists and a 23-strong committee.
The committee, drawn from the army, traditional and religious groups, civil society and the political opposition, selected him from among five candidates after a closed-door meeting that began on Sunday and went into the early hours, witnesses said.
The African Union gave Zida two weeks to re-establish civilian rule or face sanctions and on Saturday he restored the constitution suspended when Compaore was overthrown.
Compaore was a regional power broker and a Western ally against Islamist militants, but many opposed his efforts to change the constitution that would have allowed him to stand for re-election next year and extend his 27-year rule.
Kafando, 72, was also ambassador of the former French colony at the United Nations and for one year president of the Security Council, one of several senior posts he held during Compaore’s presidency. His candidacy was proposed by the army.*Source Yahoo/Reuters]]>
Africa's economy set for dramatic changes – Carlos Lopes
November 14, 2014 | 0 Comments
Kingley Ighobor* [caption id="attachment_14103" align="alignleft" width="480"] Carlos Lopes, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa[/caption] As well as identifying countries holding enormous industrialisation potential, Carlos Lopes, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, elaborates on the right policies for industrialisation and the role the private and public sectors can play, as addressed by the 2014 Economic Report on Africa. Give us a snapshot of the current state of the African economy Carlos Lopes: The current status of the African economy is good but it’s volatile particularly in the oil and gas sector, which as you know accounts for a lot of Africa’s combined gross domestic product. We predict a 6% growth this year. We should not bank too much on the stability in the energy export front because the shale gas revolution in the US is going to change the rules of the game on energy, particularly oil and gas. The US is not going to need to import energy in the near future. Which means oil and gas producing countries should be worried? Yes, worried about the US market continuing to be one of their destinations. How exactly will the US energy market be a game changer? In about five years they will not import oil and gas. The US is poised to become a net exporter of energy. In five years, either you have an alternative market or you may be marginalised in terms of US demand. What about increasing consumption in Africa? A rising middleclass should lead to more demand for energy. That’s my entire point, that Africa’s industrialisation centres around three big characteristics and one of them is internal markets. The second is the fact that we have renewable energy potentials. Also, our leapfrogging capabilities, technologically speaking, make the case for a green, clean industrialisation. The third is that Africa’s entry tickets are its commodities. This year’s Economic Report on Africa emphasises “pockets of efficiency.” What does that mean? These are segments of the global value chain created because they have the best contextual environment to thrive, for instance, textiles in Ethiopia and ICT [information and communications technology] in Kenya. I will give you the example of Morocco, which identified the aeronautic industry as a segment they could enter. They needed to adjust the school curriculum to respond to it; they needed to make sure that the right conditions—from taxation, investment incentives, to regulatory frameworks—were all lined up. Now they have 5,000 jobs in that sector. A World Bank report last year forecast that Africa’s agribusiness could be worth $1 trillion by 2030. How do you respond to those who say that this sector doesn’t attract huge investments? The first thing I would like to say about agriculture is that we have done a very poor job until now. There is a disincentive policy that is an impediment to higher productivity in agriculture. This is particularly true if we continue to practise, from the development aid perspective, food security and poverty reduction policies as the only entry points to dealing with agriculture. Of course I am for food security. But I do have difficulties understanding how we can pour about $1 billion into agriculture every year from development aid alone without any results. Because we still have the same yield per hectare today that we had 20 years ago. What’s the problem? The problem is that we are doing poverty reduction. We are not doing economic activity. How do we reverse that? The most important thing is to make the case for agribusiness. That’s where we are going to create modern jobs. The young people don’t want to be farmers anymore but they will be interested in modern jobs related to agriculture. It’s appalling that in Cote d’Ivoire, only 15% of consumed yoghurt is produced locally! Isn’t it a problem that the prices for some of Africa’s commodities are determined from abroad? What I am talking about here is slightly different, namely agro-business opportunities for African markets. Yes, agricultural subsidies in the West affect our soft commodities’ trade. But we still have the opportunities to do very well in agriculture with production that is oriented towards African markets, not for export. Is there enough demand internally to attract farmers and investors to agribusiness? A study done in Nigeria recently by Aliko Dangote [Nigerian billionaire businessman] found that about 80% of tomato paste was being imported from abroad. We are importing tomato paste from as far away as China! This doesn’t make any sense. There’s demand that already exists and it’s going to grow. There is a good case: one of South Africa’s largest supermarket chains, Shoprite, is expanding very aggressively in the rest of the continent. And when they went to Zambia, in their first year of operation, about 80% of their supermarket products were imported from South Africa. Five years later, they had worked deals with [Zambian] small-scale entrepreneurs to produce locally at certain standards. Between 1970 and 2008, about $800 billion vanished from Africa due to illicit financial flows. Mo Ibrahim [Sudanese philanthropist] said last year that Africa could be losing up to $40 billion annually due to tax evasion. Isn’t there a credibility problem with Africa’s private sector? Studies reveal that our private sector is extremely lazy in moving into manufacturing and industrial sectors. It correlates with the laziness of the banks to lend to this sector. Normally, they do business in the service area where they respond to internal demand; you can evade taxes and be informal more easily than if you had a factory because everybody can see the factory. So we don’t have to be distracted by the preferences of the private sector because they are responding to incentives. We should rather create the policy and regulatory incentives that will move them into industrialisation. The World Bank has criticized Nigeria for banning the importation of certain goods. What’s your take on that? The World Bank is within its mandate to promote liberalization on all fronts. But all countries that have industrialised started with degrees of protectionism. We cannot practice crude protectionism anymore; we are engaged in the global debate including trade negotiations. But if we have to make the rules work for Africa, that basically means smart protectionism. Is there not an argument that without liberalisation,there will be no competition and prices of products will shoot up? There are subsidies and protection rules that are counterproductive. In the case of Nigeria, fuel subsidies are hurting the poor and protecting a chain of corruption that has not been favourable to productivity and to economic activity. On the other hand, if we were talking about Nigeria with 16 refineries and producing the full gamut of oil-related products – from fertilisers to plastics – and then put in place legislation to protect that nascent industry so it can consolidate its position in the market, subsidies would have been a good thing. The Nigerian government hasn’t been able to calibrate the economic implications of a fuel subsidy with the political consequences of its removal because the subsidy is popular with the people. If people don’t trust you to remove the subsidy so that they get better education, hospitals, roads, airports and so on, the government must build trust and sometimes it has to do so in a way that is not abrupt. The Kenyan economy has slowed down lately. It grew at 4.5% in 2010 and 3.3% in 2011. What can Kenya do to shore up its economy? I am very hopeful for Kenya. There is a certain quality of urban, innovative youth interaction that you see in Nairobi. That is why their ICT industry is surprising us all the time with new products. As much as we are all very excited about the experiences of Ethiopia and Rwanda because of the consistency of state engagement in policy, I think in the long run Kenya has a better combination of factors even with some lack of coordination now. I think Kenya is going through a low phase that is very temporary. How temporary? I think a number of factors are going to propel Kenya. The first is when they fix their energy problem, and that is on the way. The second, there are logistical investments taking place that will make Kenya the hub for East Africa—airports, seaports, roads, rails. I would say in about three to four years’ time, Kenya will have a strong comeback. The third element is that this is a very fresh new government that came into power on the heels of a number of challenges internationally, including the Somalia insurgency and the ICC [International Criminal Court]. Mauritius is now a middle income country and Rwanda has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Where else in Africa could we expect good news in the coming years? Angola is a very good example of tremendous transformation. I have no doubt that Angola is going to be a strong economy in the future. Algeria has all the elements to have a complete revolution in terms of its economic prospects. Right now in microeconomic terms, Algeria is probably the best performer on the continent because they have an incredible amount of reserves. The problem is that it has not yet managed the mix of policies that will create jobs and entrepreneurial activities. It’s too much of a state-centred economy. How would you assess the level of commitment of African leaders to industrialisation? Last year we attracted about 600 people and a number of ministers to discuss industrialisation. This year we attracted 1,800 participants and about 60 ministers of finance and governors of central banks, and a plethora of African leaders. I would say that the discussion is on track. There is momentum. Discussion, but what about implementation? This was not a conference that makes implementation. You are asking about commitment. So I divide commitment in phases. First you have to have a good discussion. Which means it’s now going to translate into action at the national levels. That’s your hope? It’s already happening. We have 10 countries that have requested the ECA to assist in industrial policy strategies. Ten out of 54 countries is small but it’s a very good beginning. I am sure that soon it will be 20. Some are not asking because they can do it by themselves, like South Africa, Nigeria, and Morocco. *theafricareport.This interview was conducted by Kingley Ighobor who writes for United Nations Africa Renewal Magazine ]]>
Heads of AfDB, AU and ECA join forces with African business leaders to launch Ebola response fund
November 9, 2014 | 0 Comments
African Business Roundtable on Ebola[/caption] Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 8, 2014 – At an historic meeting on Saturday, November 8 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African Union together with African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and leading businesses in Africa committed to join forces to create and support a funding mechanism to deal with the Ebola outbreak and its consequences. To date, the Ebola virus disease has devastated communities, infecting more than 13,700 people and killing over 4,900. While the global response to the current crisis has increased in recent weeks, there is still a critical need for additional competencies to care for those infected, strengthen local health systems and prevent the disease spreading. African business leaders at the Roundtable comprised CEOs from different sectors, including banking, telecommunications, mining, energy, services and manufacturing, among others. They agreed to establish a fund under the auspices of the African Union Foundation through a facility managed by the African Development Bank, to boost efforts to equip, train and deploy African health workers to fight the epidemic. At the meeting, participants saluted Governments, International Organizations, Institutions, NGOs and businesses that have been at the frontlines of the Ebola response, and agreed to urgently scale up the deployment of health workers in the three most affected countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. They also noted with appreciation that a number of African countries to date have pledged over 2,000 trained health workers to support the efforts in West Africa, with additional commitments expected. Responding to appeals from these countries, leading companies in Africa, present at the Roundtable, committed logistical support, in kind contributions and over $28 million as part of the first wave of pledges. In addition, a number of businesses represented in the meeting undertook to immediately consult with their governance structures and will announce their pledges to this effort in the next few days. Roundtable participants further called on the private sector across Africa to join them in this effort. Businesses also agreed to leverage their resources and capacity to help galvanize citizen action around a ‘United Against Ebola’ campaign, and to provide individuals across Africa and globally with an opportunity to contribute. These funds will be used to support an African medical corps – including doctors, nurses and lab technicians – to care for those infected with Ebola, strengthen the capacity of local health services and staff Ebola treatment centres in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. These resources will be deployed in the framework of the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA), in close coordination with the national taskforces in the Ebola-affected countries and the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). The resources mobilized will be part of a longer-term program to build Africa’s capacity to deal with such outbreaks in the future. Moreover, participants decided that the Africa Business Roundtable would become an annual meeting of the African Union to help solidify collaboration with the private sector in Africa on key development issues facing the region. Business leaders agreed on a follow up mechanism to implement the commitments made at Saturday’s meeting, reach out to other business entities, monitor the roadmap and agreed to act with urgency. AFDB/AU ]]>
Africa asks: 'If Burkina can do it, why can't we?'
November 1, 2014 | 1 Comments
Burkinabe react as they listen to a lieutenant-colonel reading a press release by the army chief after the resignation of Burkina Faso’s president in Ouagadougou on October 31, 2014 (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)[/caption] News that Burkina Faso’s long-serving leader Blaise Compaore had been pushed out of power prompted an explosion of comment from across Africa Friday, with many citizens asking, “If they can do it, why can’t we?”
As images of tens of thousands jubilant Burkinabe were seen from Harare to Banjul, Twitter and other social media sites saw citizens pointing the finger at their own long-serving leaders.
“Let this be a warning to all African leaders who wish to cling on to power at all cost. Viva Burkinabe!” wrote Kwesi Asante in Accra, Ghana.
Some, like @lennoxin in Johannesburg, offered messages of support: “Super proud of the people of Burkina Faso, dictators have no place in the future of Africa, aluta continua!” (the fight continues).
Others sought to send a message that the days of life terms in office are coming to an end.[caption id="attachment_13585" align="alignright" width="450"] People march against Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore’s plan to change the constitution to stay in power in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Joe Penney[/caption]
A total of nine African leaders have held power for more than 20 years.“A warning to all African Leaders, ‘Hold power loosely, serve people wisely.’ Things are changing. Getting rid of you is not as hard,” wrote Frank Ondere in Kenya. Others looked to draw more local lessons from events half a continent away in Ouagadougou. Presidents in Angola, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Uganda, Sudan, Zimbabwe and elsewhere came under direct fire from their citizens.
“If Burkina Faso can do it, Why not UGANDA?” asked one Twitter user in Kampala, another in Zimbabwe said, “Mugabe to be next!”
But not everyone was convinced that events in Ouagadougou heralded the beginning of an “African Spring”.
“Burkina Faso should be a wake-up call for the Obiangs, al-Bashirs, Musevenis, Dos Santos & other African leaders for life, but probably not,” wrote Namibian former newspaper editor @Gwenlister1.*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>
'Africa can learn from Zambia's unity', says Kenneth Kaunda, and he has no regrets
October 25, 2014 | 1 Comments
LEE MWITI* Zambia is 50 this year. Its founding president reflects on the journey. Zambia on October 24 celebrates its 50th birthday as an independent nation, and to better appreciate the country’s journey, Mail & Guardian Africa dropped in on His Excellency Dr Kenneth Kaunda, its first president. Excerpts. Mail & Guardian Africa: You have seen Africa though 50 years of post independence, longer than any of your peers—any founding father who was leading his nation at independence. What would you say is the secret to your long and rich life? Kenneth Kaunda: When you look at the creation of wealth, God taught us to love God your creator, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength. He also taught us to love thy neighbour, as thou lovest thyself. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. These commandments are in my view what God made to guide us, and where these commandments are followed, there is genuine peace. MGA: You were part of a golden generation of African independence leaders that quickened the end of colonisation in Africa, in the spirit of that song you like, Tiyendi Pamodzi (forward together). With the benefit of hindsight, would you have done anything differently during the struggle for independence? KK: I cannot see how anyone could fail to identify the meaning of building a nation anywhere, any part of the world, because we need to move forward in one way, and think of certain things in our nations, especially in the meaning of development. Development can be in many forms and in various fields of human endeavour, its not just in one area. Your question becomes important even more when we realise man’s future is dependent on a number of things that he is required to do; if man doesn’t do these things in a necessary way, then what is there, it will all collapse, it will become nothing. MGA: If I can stay with the independence period at that time, many African countries chose planned economies, and there are some who have cited this for slower growth, and economies could have grown faster if we had the current market economies. Was an alternative path possible at independence? KK: The planned economy for some of us was an extremely important area in human life. How do you meet these challenges that God has given us in our lives if you don’t help plan the economy? If you don’t plan your economy, you are leaving everything in the hands of some other people, not yourself. You are leaving the door wide open for others to misbehave, to complicate your own life. MGA: He wanted us to intervene…? KK: Yes, yes. So that way we must work hard to see that economic planning is done by the people themselves in a given country, and it is not something which should be done by other people, the people themselves have to do that, and that’s how I see it. MGA: Your Excellency, I have seen a lot of things being done by the Chinese, and as I speak to Zambians they have a very favourable view of the work that is being undertaken by the Chinese. In Africa I think Zambia and Tanzania have arguably had the longest relationships with China in the post-independent period, and this is a relationship that blossomed under your rule. What can we learn for the Chinese approach? KK: I think they are a very good lesson for us. When we were fighting [for independence and liberation], in China, the government was being led by Mao TseTsung. The other young man who was leading the fight there [Chiang Kai-Shek] is the one who ran to Taiwan. The West and the UN said this is the real leader of China, not Mao TseTsung. And we, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and myself said no, the real leader of China is this man, Mao TseTsung. We argued strongly, thank God we succeeded in the recognition of China as a true member of the United Nations, and this was confirmed by everybody. China, they were strong communists, but that did not worry us, that is their way of thinking, and we thought differently and up to now we remain good friends, and many of them are here with us, helping us to build Zambia in different ways; roads, schools, hospitals and all those organisations that are required in human life. MGA: So we should welcome them in the development of Africa? KK: Yes, definitely. I have visited a number of African countries; one time I went to Nigeria and I found a big headquarters being built, Chinese headquarters, developing there to help develop Nigeria, and so we find this in many parts of the continent. MGA: Your Excellency, we are also seeing new things around the continent, we are seeing cross border terrorism, we have seen conflict, what would we need to change in your assessment so as to live in peace? KK: Peace is something special in our lives, and I would counsel all our friends, left[ist], right[ist], centre, to maintain that peace. Peace means you are working with other people in your own development efforts, at the same time you are keeping your own standards, and you are able to see what path you can follow in development. We are looking for economic development, once we develop economically we be able to meet challenges of education, look at hospitals, get your roads in your own country, get what you use in human development. MGA: Essentially if you have human development you reduce the chances of conflict? KK: Exactly. No doubt about it. Once you lessen the areas of conflict then of course growth is assured, and it is what we are trying to look for wherever we are. We want it to reduce conflict in our continent, reduce poverty and its options of ignorance, disease, crime, corruption. MGA: If I can take you to the issue of African integration, there have been many efforts right from pan-Africanism to where we are now with the African Union, but there are those who feel Africa is still behind other people such as the European Union in terms of integration. If we trace the path of integration, what have been the challenges for Africa? KK: Integration has to be about many things. In Zambia as we fought for our independence we had 73 tribes, then came the English tribe, the Irish tribe, the Boer tribe, the Pakistani tribe…many. In terms of colour we had a problem there, because the English who came to join us are White, we are Black, the Indians, Pakistanis, the Boers are Brown, so colour comes in, as a challenge, yet if you understand what you are doing you can instill cooperation among all these people, you build something, unity of these people regardless of colour, regardless of faith. But yet we have managed to build ourselves here, and we continue to work together. We are developing, we are growing, even among the faiths such as Islam, and we are working together. In the end, those differences don’t lead us to divisions, they lead us to building, hence One Zambia, One Nation. MGA: So what we are saying is that African leaders can learn from Zambia, the way it has managed to live as one nation, to overcome the differences we have as countries? KK: Certainly, certainly. That is how we build ourselves. MGA: If I can ask you about the African Union, which was the Organisation of African Unity in your time, how do you assess its efforts towards bringing Africa together? KK: I was chairman of OAU twice (1970 and 1987) and I must say I visited many African countries, and I explained wherever I go how I saw the OAU. I found it very useful. We were able to talk about African security [and accomplish a lot.] MGA: If I can ask, you, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere and Uganda’s Milton Obote were part of what was called the Mulungushi Club, and very few know about it and maybe you could tell us what it was all about, and why we don’t have such partnerships [in Africa] anymore? KK: We were working together very closely with others. The Mulungushi Club was designed to build a leadership area of independence against those who were oppressing people in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa. We were happy to fight for their independence. For example we followed Mahatma Gandhi’s method, he taught us that when you are fighting to breach colonialism, you can afford to fight it non-violently. But these others you’ve got to use the gun, and when we were fighting them we fought using the gun, we went to prison in, out, otherwise we were in a non-violent battle. When we were fighting in Angola, Mozambique we established stations to train fighters, and it took them some years. Mwalimu trained them using Chinese and USSR, they brought soldiers there, troops to train, came to Zambia to train them (Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe) here. We were helped a lot by the Chinese and the Soviet Union, and when we begun training them here the Boers started bombing us. So our whole struggle is something of great independence, it is historical, has so many factors, one day you may see them in my memoirs that I am writing. MGA: Maybe I may ask…do you miss all this, your friends, your generation, do you ever sit and say, “I miss these guys”, and wish you could sit together for one last hurray? KK: Every second. We’ve been meeting, in the day, when we were retired, we still keep in touch quite well. MGA: I can ask you my last question; is there anything generally Africa does not talk about or pay as much attention to as it should? KK: [After some reflection] Well, if we don’t handle the question of future unity properly we could lose something of importance. All our leaders are talking about political unity, and looking into the future of African unity, and that’s why we said we see here in Zambia, Michael Sata, he is talking about that, I have written to 13 presidents about the importance of building unity, including through friends such as China, and these shows we are still friends as the OAU intended, as we fight Africa’s challenges. *Culled from mgafrica]]>
HALF A CENTURY OF INDEPENDENCE! But what happened to Africa's 'Class of the 1960s' leaders?
October 24, 2014 | 0 Comments
MORRIS KIRUGA, SAMANTHA SPOONER* Ebook on Africa’s 1960s independence leaders, and their stories: Some amazing, some uplifting, and several depressing OCTOBER 24 is Zambia’s 50th independence anniversary. Zambia’s founding president Kenneth Kaunda turned 90 in April. Kaunda has achieved something none of the 1960s independence leaders in Africa did – he is the only republican leader of the 1960s generation who has lived to see his country turn 50. Mail & Guardian Africa spoke to Kaunda for the anniversary in the capital Lusaka. Click here to read ebook where we tick off what happened to the rest of the “Class of the 1960s”: *Courtesy of mg.co]]>