IGD’s U.S. Roadshow Special Reception to Officially Launch Four-City Tour and Announce Partnership with African Development Bank on Africa Investment Forum
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, to deliver remarks on private sector engagement to accelerate Africa’s investment opportunities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 4, 2018 – The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) will officially launch its inaugural Africa Investment Rising Roadshow Tour with a Special Reception on Wednesday, April 18 from 6:00-7:30PM at the Senate Dirksen Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, will announce the Bank’s partnership with IGD on the Africa Investment Forum (AIF), which will take place in early-November in Johannesburg, South Africa. The AIF is an initiative championed by the Bank to actively engage the private sector and to facilitate projects that have the capacity of transforming the continent. Boamah is leading a delegation of Senior Bank Management to the Spring World Bank/IMF Meetings.
Boamah will offer remarks on the U.S. private sector’s role in accelerating Africa’s investment opportunities at the Capitol Hill reception.
The U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”, taking place from April 18-May 1, is aimed at re-shaping perceptions on doing business in Africa by bringing trade and investment opportunities to U.S. companies and forging stronger connections between U.S. and African business leaders in key growth sectors.
Launching in Washington, D.C., the roadshow tour will travel to New York Cityto highlight banking, financing, and investment opportunities; Des Moines, IAfor agriculture and agro-industry; and Houston, TX for energy and power.
The full roadshow tour will ultimately culminate in Johannesburg, South Africa, where roadshow attendees are invited to attend the IGD Frontier 100 Forum on Nov. 5-6, followed by the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum (AIF) from Nov. 7-9, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The AIF is designed to enhance private-sector cooperation and drive investment in sectors of strategic interest within Africa.
“IGD is pleased to build on our partnership with the African Development Bank through the U.S. Roadshow Tour to accelerate Africa’s investment opportunities and help attract private capital to the continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych.
“By bringing U.S. investors to the Bank’s investment forum, they will learn firsthand about bankable projects and will have the opportunities to broker deals that will deliver economic transformation in Africa,” said Nedelcovych.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and USAID’s East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs are Sponsors of the U.S. Roadshow Tour.
Platinum sponsors as Chevron, Norton, Rose and Fulbright LLP, Iowa State University Research Park, AGCO; Lilium Capital, and Orrick; Gold sponsors, Sasol, Corteva Agriscience, Endeavor Energy, and AllAfrica.com as Gold sponsors; and World Food Prize Foundation and Millennium Challenge Corporation as Silver sponsors.
Organizational Partners are PAN Diaspora Capital Management, Harris Africa Partners/Grant T. Harris, The Serendra Group LLC/Robert van Zwieten, U.S. Bilateral African Chamber of Commerce, Global Farmer Network, U.S. Small Business Administration, and Invest Africa.
Media partners are Africa Investor, Africa.com, Africa Business magazine, Afropop Worldwide, AlloAfricaNews.com, AllAfrica.com, Asoko Insight, Face2Face Africa, innov8tiv.com, Pan-African Visions, and VoxAfrica.
The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a Washington, DC-based network of African and global business leaders who are committed to advancing sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa through business investment. IGD brings together CEOs and senior executives from leading African and global companies through our Frontier Leader Network to catalyze greater business investment and impact on the African continent.
Israel Reverses Course Hours After Signing U.N. Deal To Resettle African Migrants
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Sarah Ruiz-Grossman*
Less than a day after the Israeli government announced a deal with the United Nations’ refugee agency to resettle more than 16,000 African migrants and grant legal status to others, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended and then definitively scrapped the deal.
Early on Monday, the Israeli government and the U.N. agency, formally known as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, revealed the outlines of a deal they’d signed concerning the status of more than 34,000 undocumented Eritreans and Sudanese living in Israel. Under the agreement, more than 16,000 would resettle in other countries, largely in Europe. The rest would receive legal status in Israel.
By Monday night, however, Netanyahu had walked back the announcement, saying on Facebook that the deal would be put on hold until further review. On Tuesday, he announced the deal was dead.
“I have listened carefully to the many comments on the agreement. As a result, and after I again weighed the advantages and disadvantages, I decided to cancel the deal,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement.
The Israeli prime minister’s reversal came after a backlash from right-wing politicians and some residents of southern Tel Aviv, where many Eritreans and Sudanese have settled.
Most of the Eritrean and Sudanese people living in Israel have fled war and persecution in their countries of origin. The area of southern Tel Aviv, where many reside, is “economically challenged” with “unemployment and social tension,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told HuffPost on Monday.
Spindler said that Eritrean and Sudanese people in Israel should be considered refugees, not migrants, as they left their homes to escape persecution and war. He also noted that Israel, as the receiving nation, has only in a very few cases processed and officially designated the migrants as refugees.
“It is with regret that UNHCR notes cancellation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Israel-UNHCR Agreement,” the U.N. agency wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “We encourage the Government of Israel to consider the matter further, while standing ready to be of help.”
The deal between Israel and the UNHCR, which was to be carried out over the next five years, had rested on the agency’s ability to relocate some 16,000 of the refugees to “developed” countries where the agency has resettlement programs ― including in Europe, the U.S., Canada and Australia, Spindler told HuffPost. As of Monday, no country had officially agreed to take in any of those refugees.
The agreement had also included support services for the African migrants who would be staying legally in Israel, Spindler said, including vocational training to help them find employment beyond southern Tel Aviv.
Per the agreement, Israel would no longer pursue its “non-voluntary relocation policy,” according to a U.N. release.
Earlier this year, Israel had announced a plan to force undocumented African migrants to “voluntarily” leave the country by the end of March or risk being detained. The plan would provide $3,500 to migrants to relocate to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. At the time, the UNHCR criticized the policy as one that left migrants in unsafe conditions. Israel’s high court blocked the policy’s implementation through a temporary order in mid-March.
Africa’s premier investment marketplace to accelerate continent’s economic transformation
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Bank is providing collaborative leadership for a new 100% transactional initiative – the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) – which provides Africa’s best opportunity so far to encourage accelerated economic transformation.
The African Development Bank is working with the world’s leading financial institutions to de-risk investment through the platform and make it a springboard for Africa’s economic transformation.
The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, told key Government and private sector leaders at a breakfast session on the sidelines of the 2018 Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan on March 27, 2018, that the AIF would be exclusively about transactions and investment deals.
“This is not a talk shop. There will be no political speeches. It provides an open platform to organise efforts among multilateral institutions, governments and private sector to improve a pipeline of projects capable of transforming the continent,” he said.
The first Africa Investment Forum will be held from November 7-9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It will then be held yearly to enable and facilitate interactions to broker and accelerate deals, for candid discussions with policy-makers to shape the business and regulatory environment, as well as to track the implementation of commitments.
Adesina noted that the cost of doing business in Africa is improving.
“Last year, and the year before, at least 30% of all the business and regulatory reforms that were done globally were not done in Asia. They were not in Latin America. They were done in Africa. If you look at what is happening in terms of foreign direct investments coming to Africa, it continues to rise. Why are they rising? This is because of the greater political stability that is found on the continent,” he said. “So there is a lot of optimism about our continent and in fact there is a discussion among our leaders towards an Africa beyond aid.”
He highlighted Africa’s human and material resources, stressing how they could be harnessed to make Africa the powerhouse of the world. “I think that the sovereign wealth of Africa is actually not being invested in Africa. It is being invested outside of Africa. And if Africa doesn’t invest enough, then who is going to invest? One of the reasons this happens is because people have a perception of risk. But the issue is not risk. It is about how you manage risk.”
On the AIF platform are the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, among others, who are working with the African Development Bank to set up a “mutualized co-guarantee platform” to de-risk investments.
“We also have those that are working on pipelines – Africa50 and others – that are very actively involved in this,” Adesina said.
Ghana’s Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, stressed that the bond market should be a strong part of the new move to mobilize resources for Africa’s economic transformation and lauded the idea of the African Development Bank and partners coming together through AIF to de-risk investment.
“The reality for the world is that Africa has to be, and will be, the best place to invest in future. What do we do for ourselves so that we unlock our own potential for investments? I think the emphasis now is on increasing infrastructure so that we open up the continent for investment opportunities to be properly exploited,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of one Africa’s largest distributor of consumer goods, Massmart, Kuseni Dlamini, called attention to the need for Africa to move from risk to opportunities and to take advantage of the many investment opportunities presented on the continent.
“The time to talk transaction is indeed now. I think that Africa has a lot to offer and we need to take advantage of opportunities,” he said.
Tigui Camara, Chief Executive Officer of Tigui Mining Company, said she was delighted that the African Development Bank was leading the investment initiative and called for more support for women in the informal sector.
Alain Ebobissé, the Chief Executive Officer of Africa50 – the Pan-African infrastructure investment platform – called on African Governments to create the right environment to attract investors to the continent.
The breakfast session was well attended by top Government officials, industry leaders and financial institutions, including the President of African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank), Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah.
The Africa Investment Forum will focus on improving the ease of doing business in Africa by advancing and promoting investment-friendly regulation. It will also champion ethical business practices in Africa.
Khama leaves the stage after a successful preservation of Botswana democracy
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
On the 1st of April 2008, Ian Khama rose to assume the reigns of the most powerful office in Botswana. While giving his inauguration speech, Ian Khama stated that he never had the desire to become a President nor to assume a political office but was persuaded. He, however, acknowledged the task at hand, maintaining Africa’s best model of democracy and helping to improve the plight of the rural poor as had been done by his predecessor in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Ian Khama’s time in office was going to be a tough one and he knew it. In order to effectively address all of the areas that needed his attention, Ian Khama on his inauguration outlined the 5Ds i.e. Democracy, Discipline, Development, Dignity, and Delivery.
Assuming office, Ian Khama already had critics. Khama’s critics increased during the time when he was the country’s Vice President and the Minister for Presidential Affairs. During that time, he was termed an authoritarian who didn’t take kindly to opposition. In supporting their claims, critics cited the way he clamped down on ‘Dikgang tsa palamente.’ The programme aired the comments of MPs and encouraged debate among the populace. Khama also faced criticism in that he ordered without permission to be flown around the country by BDF choppers in violation of the BDF Act.
Despite his shortcomings during his time as the Vice President, Khama was determined to become a success during his time as President and this is how he leaves the country.
On the political front, Khama strayed away from the status quo. Rather than leading in the way his predecessors had done in the past, Khama was more of an executive president who liked the executive ‘part’ of his job. Not clamping down on human rights or violating Botswana’s democracy, he ruled the country with a firm hand something Botswana citizens had not experienced before. Khama was media shy at least when it came to debates and other like events, during the times he would be covered by the media, often times he was visiting the rural poor playing to traditional songs and pampering them with goodies. While Botswana nationals had not been used to the firm hand Khama ruled with, he still managed to preserve the country’s democracy. Khama’s past as the commander of the BDF can be used in his defence for his firmness.
Economically, Ian Khama inherited an economy that was one of the biggest in Africa. Credit to him, he not only managed to maintain the strong economy but further developed it. Leaving Botswana on a far stronger standing, the country’s economy is expected to grow by 5.3 percent this year from last year’s 4.7 percent. The country’s economy has largely been aided by the recovery in the global economy in relation to mining.
On other fronts, Khama managed to do his bit in helping to stop the spread of rural poverty. Botswana’s disparity between the rich/middle class and the rural poor had been increasing for a decade or so before Khama’ tenure. Though he failed to eliminate rural poverty, the foundations he put in place will be a good start for his successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi. Khama also worked hard to electrify parts of rural Botswana which still relied on primitive energy such as firewood.
While Khama’s firmness in Botswana may have resulted in him getting more enemies, the exact opposite did happen in the international sphere as his firmness made him more friends especially on the African continent. Khama was not shy to tell neighbouring Zimbabwe’s the then leader, Robert Mugabe that his time was up at a time when all other African presidents could not utter a word but instead showered the authoritarian leader with praises for his outspokenness.
Khama was not fazed by personality or the strength of a nation, while Zimbabwe’s new leader said his response to the US president, Donald Trump comments on Africa as a shithole continent was in solidarity with the African Union (AU)’s response and could not give his own (something also said by many other African countries), Khama took it upon himself to issue a strongly worded response to the US President.
In all, Ian Khama brought a new leadership style to Botswana politically, and even though some of the country’s citizens may not have liked it, all he did was for their good and benefit.
A legacy like no other: Winnie Mandela 1936 to 2018
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
South Africa’s anti-Apartheid icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died. Winnie who was the face of the blacks’ struggle against the ruthless white regime in pre-independent South Africa succumbed to a long illness at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg aged 81.
Victor Dlamini, the Madikizela family spokesman said Winnie who was affectionately known as the ‘Mother of the Nation’, “succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones” following a long illness, which had seen her go in and out of hospital since the start of the year.
Anti-Apartheid Activist- Before 1994
In 1936 in the small town of Bizana in Transkei (Eastern Cape), a girl by the name of Winnie Madikizela was born. Unbeknown to many at the time, Winnie was going to be the face of the struggle against white minority rule. When she reached the age of 22 in 1957, she met Nelson Mandela, a lawyer who was at the forefront in the fight against Apartheid. The two romantic flirtations grew quickly and they married a year later.
Their union was however cut short by the government as Nelson Mandela was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964. Left alone, Winnie was left with a daunting task, not just to look after the family but to champion for his husband’s release and to spearhead the campaign against Apartheid. For any other woman, this would have been a task too much to handle but not for the feisty Winnie. She took her newly found responsibilities with gusto.
Leading the struggle against white rule from the front, Winnie organised rallies and protests. Her action made her an enemy of the white government. She was ultimately arrested in 1976 and spent much of her time in prison in solitary confinement. In 1976, she was banished to a small town where she lived in solitary confinement.
The government thought they were going to break Winnie by putting her in solitary confinement. Instead, their actions only hardened the resolve of Winnie, she came out of prison more determined to fight her oppressors. In her own words after leaving prison, Winnie said, “ The years of imprisonment hardened me … Perhaps if you have been given a moment to hold back and wait for the next blow, your emotions wouldn’t be blunted as they have been in my case. When it happens every day of your life when that pain becomes a way of life … there is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn’t any pain I haven’t known.”
Start of the controversy
Winnie just like all other humans was not flawless, she was subjected to some criticism in her life. The first controversial moment came soon after her release from prison. While addressing thousands of Anti-Apartheid supporters in Soweto, she boldly stated that “Together, hand-in-hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.” This was in reference to necklacing, a painful method used by the ANC to eliminate those accused of treason amongst its ranks by inserting a petrol-filled burning tyre around the neck of a ‘sell-out’.
Winnie also had a team of personal bodyguards known as the Mandela United Football Team (MUFC). In 1989, Winnie’s MUFC was accused of killing a 14-year-old boy, Stompie Seipei. The case attracted wide media coverage but Winnie herself was found not guilty of murdering the young boy by the courts but was found guilty of a lesser crime, kidnapping. For her role, she was sentenced to 6 years in prison but did not serve the term as it was suspended for a fine.
Winnie had to face massive criticism for her role in the murder of Stompie Seipei but she vehemently denied any involvement. Perhaps the most severe criticisms came from revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu after South Africa had gained its independence in 1994 during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings. Tutu begged Winnie to apologise for Stompie’s death but she refused. Since that day, Winnie said she hasn’t forgiven Tutu for forcing her to apologise for an act she knew nothing about. Until her time of death, Winnie had not forgiven Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Winnie was however exonerated of any wrongdoing or involvement in Stompie’s death when Jerry Richardson, the team coach for Winnie’s MUFC confessed to murdering Stompie. Stompie and Richardson were allegedly police informers who also worked for Winnie. Richardson stated that he killed Stompie after he had threatened to expose him to Winnie. Richardson was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison but died in prison in 2009.
Winnie also had confrontations with the law later on in post-independent South Africa with the standout coming in 2005 when she was alleged to have defrauded a bank and involved in corrupt practises. She never faced jail time.
The last of Winnie’s feisty nature was seen during the xenophobic attacks of 2008 when foreigners in South Africa were subjected to torture. Winnie stood on the side of foreigners against the perpetrators of xenophobic violence.
Relationship with Nelson Mandela
Winnie and Nelson were married for 38 years but they spent much of that time separate as Nelson spent 27 years behind bars. The two divorced in 1996, two years after Nelson became South Africa’s first black president. The real reasons behind the divorce were never divulged but it’s suggested in some quarters that Winnie had become too radical for the reformed Nelson Mandela and that she was involved in an affair during the time Nelson was in jail. Winnie kept Nelson’s surname after the divorce and they both kept close contact with her visiting Nelson almost on a daily basis before his death in 2013.
The family of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is yet to release burial details.
President Xi hails Mugabe’s successor as ‘old friend of China’
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Ben Dooley*
President Xi Jinping greeted Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa as an “old friend” of China on Tuesday as the African leader visited Beijing, which previously backed his ousted predecessor Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa, who received military training in China when he was a young liberation fighter in the 1960s, was met with a military honour guard at the Great Hall of the People on his first state visit outside of Africa.
The two leaders oversaw the signing of six documents, including a letter on economic and development cooperation and another on emergency food assistance, as Mnanangwa seeks help from a major ally with historic ties to Zimbabwe.
“I heartily welcome President Mnangagwa on his visit to Beijing,” Xi said as the two sat down for talks.
“You are an old friend of China and I appreciate your efforts to develop relations in all areas,” he said.
Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa from his job as vice president in November over a succession tussle with the first lady Grace Mugabe, leading to a military intervention that culminated with the veteran president’s ousting and Mnangagwa taking office.
The country’s then-army chief, General Constantino Chiwenga, had visited Beijing shortly before the military action, leading to questions about whether China had any role in the power transfer.
Chiwenga was named vice president in December. China denied it played any part in the transition.
Beijing had long been one of Mugabe’s most powerful allies and a major trade partner, as the West shunned him over his government’s human rights violations, but it avoided publicly taking sides during his ousting.
“Last November Zimbabwe achieved a peaceful, smooth transfer of power that was broadly recognised by the international community,” Xi said.
“I am willing to work with Mr. president (Mnangagwa) to jointly map out our future cooperation and write a new chapter in China-Zimbabwe relations for the benefit of our two peoples.”
Mnangagwa, wearing a scarf in the the colours of Zimbabwe’s flag, told Xi he appreciated China’s “political support and goodwill” following the “peaceful political transition in Zimbabwe”.
– ‘Socialism with Zimbabwean characteristics’ –
Mnangagwa has also been accused of playing a key role in his mentor Mugabe’s authoritarian regime that left the economy in ruins and under sanctions.
He was targeted by EU and US measures imposed on Mugabe and his close allies over violence and intimidation during Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential campaign.
The visit comes as China takes a more proactive role in Africa, where it has long invested in infrastructure projects and sought resources. It has recently built its first overseas military base in Djibouti.
Relations between China and Zimbabwe date back to the liberation struggle of the 1960s, when Beijing provided arms and trained some of the top guerrilla leaders including Mnangagwa.
Before his arrival on Monday, Mnangagwa told China’s official Xinhua news agency that his trip was aimed at thanking Xi and the Chinese people for supporting his country “during the hard times when the West imposed sanctions on us”.
He said he would seek to sell Zimbabwe as a destination for Chinese investment and take part in economic forums aimed at attracting business to the country.
Zimbabwe was China’s largest foreign supplier of tobacco, with some 40 percent of the product imported by the Asian country coming from the African nation.
China also set up a joint venture with Zimbabwe in a diamond mining company, but Mugabe announced the nationalisation of the nation’s diamond mines in 2016.
Chinese companies have also been involved in projects to install a cellular phone network, expand a hydropower station and build a coal-fired power plant.
Mnangagwa will meet Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday, then visit the eastern provinces of Anhui and Zhejiang before his visit ends on Friday.
The Zimbabwean leader gave a nod to his host’s political philosophy, “Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”
“I will take this mantra to Zimbabwe and hope to develop some socialism in Zimbabwe with Zimbabwean characteristics,” he said.
Veteran Egypt goalkeeper El-Hadary eyes World Cup history
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Tarek Talaat
Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who at 45 could become the oldest man to play at a World Cup, says he hopes his story inspires others to follow their dreams.
El-Hadary is desperate to make Egypt’s squad for Russia where he hopes to make his World Cup debut.
“I’m very happy to play at the World Cup, and that is a message to all footballers and others around the world, that you should believe in your dreams and fight to make them come true,” El-Hadary told BBC Sport.
“My age is 45 years old, but for me, this is just a number on paper.
“I train hard every day, I don’t know what the word ‘impossible’ means. I will keep fighting until the World Cup to have the chance to play and defend my homeland colours,” he added.
Faryd Mondragon of Colombia became the oldest man to play at the World Cup when he featured against Japan in Brazil in 2014 aged 43 years and 3 days.
El-Hadary, who currently plays for Al-Taawoun FC in the Saudi Professional League, says his late father’s memory is pushing him to break that record.
“My father who passed away told me that his dream is to watch me playing at a World Cup and I want to make my dad proud.
“I’ve won many titles, but I have not played at a World Cup and this is the dream I want to make true, that is my main objective.”
Egypt qualified for the World Cup thanks to a 95th minute penalty from Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in a 2-1 victory over Congo Brazzaville.
El-Hadary says Salah’s phenomenal season has motivated the whole Egyptian side.
“I’m so proud of what Mohamed Salah keeps doing – he’s started a new era for Egyptian players.
“He changed the way that Egyptian players think and now many players have decided to search for clubs in Europe – even small clubs.
“They want to follow in Salah’s steps because what he’s done will make many clubs around the world trust in Egyptian players.”
Egypt have been drawn in Group A for the World Cup where they will face hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.
“All the teams in our group are very strong. Saudi Arabia is an Arabic team and our matches with them will be very interesting, so it will not be easy.
“Russia will play in front of their fans and in their grounds, and when you talk about Uruguay you talk about an amazing team and big names like Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez, so it will not be easy at all.”
Martin Luther King Jr.’s work still resonates across Africa
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
African Migrants in Israel Will Be Deported to Western Countries Instead of Africa. Where Will They Go?
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Cristina Maza*
Israel has scrapped a controversial plan to forcibly deport African migrants back to Africa— and struck an agreement with the United Nations to send the asylum seekers to Western countries instead.
The news comes after African refugees and human rights defenders staged weeks of protests, arguing that migrants sent back to Africa could face violence or other abuses. The agreement announced Monday will send 16,000 African asylum seekers to Western countries such as Canada, Italy and Germany.
The U.N. refugee agency estimates that there are around 38,000 African asylum seekers currently in Israel, the majority of whom are from Eritrea and Sudan. Asylum seekers who are not relocated to Western countries will be permitted to stay in Israel for the next five years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
The announcement is a significant departure from the policies Netanyahu had touted just a month ago. Israel had told thousands of African migrants in February that they had to leave the country by April or they would be sent to prison. Israeli officials had said they would give migrants around $3,500 each to leave, either to their home country or to a third country in Africa like Uganda or Rwanda.
Netanyahu’s right-wing government had also dubbed the migrants “infiltrators” and argued that they were economic migrants seeking better opportunities instead of genuine refugees fleeing violence and persecution.
Some experts say that Netanyahu was pressured by far-right elements in his coalition government to expel the migrants in order to maintain the Jewish character of Israel. Demographics have been a point of contention in Israel since its founding, and some extremist elements advocate for non-Jews to be expelled from the country.
Human rights groups, however, challenged the government’s deportation plans in court. On March 15, Israel’s High Court issued a temporary ban on the deportation plan. Experts say that Monday’s announcement proves that civil society can make a difference when it comes to shifting public policy.
“Policy shifts like this can be surprising when they happen, but they underscore a key lesson. Pressure from civil society can make a difference,” Martin Edwards, a diplomacy expert at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, told Newsweek. “Elected governments want to avoid looking bad as much as possible, and the optics of this were not favorable for the Netanyahu government. It’s a good lesson for activists around the world to learn: pressure can make a difference.”
Ethiopia installs new PM amid hopes he can stop protests
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments
By ELIAS MESERET*
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Young and outspoken Abiy Ahmed has been sworn in Monday as Ethiopia’s prime minister, amid hopes he will be able to quell the sustained anti-government protests that have rocked Africa’s second most populous nation.
Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s parliament, succeeding Hailemariam Desalegn who resigned in mid-February as a result of widespread protests that have taken the lives of several hundred people, mainly in the restive Oromia and Amhara regions.
“This is a historic moment,” said Abiy in his inaugural address to Ethiopian lawmakers. “This is high time for us to learn from our past mistakes and make up for all the wrongs done in the past . we understand there are a lots of problems that need to be solved with great urgency.”
Abiy apologized for the deaths of civilians in the violent protests. He said his administration will strive to solve grievances by discussion rather than by force, provide more space for opposition parties, fight corruption and focus on respect for rule of law.
The new leader said he aims to open up a fresh dialogue with arch-foe Eritrea and called upon Ethiopia’s diaspora to more actively take part in the country’s affairs.
Abiy is the first Oromo politician to become Ethiopia’s prime minister since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991. It is hoped he will be able to bring an end to the protests that have been raging since late 2015 to press for wider political freedoms and the release of opposition figures. The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group of Ethiopia’s 100 million people, have long felt marginalized both politically and economically.
A former Lieutenant Colonel in the army and head of Ethiopia’s Science and Technology ministry, Abiy, 42, has a reputation as an effective orator and reformer.
Many welcomed the new leader.
“I think this is a very important step toward the overall democratization and stability of the country,” said Kiya Tsegaye, a lawyer and political analyst. “But he needs the support of the people around him, especially top party officials to implement his reform measures.”
Prominent opposition leader Merara Gudina expressed cautious optimism over Abiy’s election, saying the future of Ethiopia’s peace and stability depends on the policies of the incoming leader and his party.
“What he aims to achieve depends on what his party allows him to do,” Merara said, adding that Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s ruling party and not directly by the population through a general election. “But still it goes without saying that a change in personalities within the leadership may bring changes in terms of bringing better ideas that may ultimately lead to national reconciliation.”
Ethiopia’s Olympic gold medalist runner, Haile Gebrselassie, said the peaceful transfer of power is a win-win situation for all Ethiopians.
“The new leader’s election has answered many Ethiopians’ questions,” Haile told The Associated Press, saying that Abiy should implement his pledges without delay. “His inaugural address today has the ability to bring together not only Ethiopians, but countries in the region as well.”
Abiy will be Ethiopia’s third prime minister since the former military junta, the Derg, was overthrown in 1991.
Ethiopia in February declared its second state of emergency in two years amid the ongoing protests that effectively crippled transportation networks and forced the closure of businesses. On Saturday, Ethiopian officials said that more than 1,000 people have been detained since the latest emergency rule was put in place.
The U.S. Embassy in the capital, Addis Ababa, commended the peaceful transfer of power, saying it is the first time a living leader has handed over power in Ethiopia’s recent history.
“We stand ready to support the government’s rapid implementation of democratic and economic reforms and look forward to the lifting of the state of emergency,” the U.S. embassy said in an email sent to The Associated Press.
‘A new South Africa on the horizon?’
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati*
It’s now 24 years since South Africa, ‘the rainbow nation’ as its affectionately known gained independence in 1994. At the end of Apartheid, the new democratic South Africa was the beacon of hope for not just South Africans in particular and also Africans in general.
To some extent, the country has managed to live to the early hype, it’s one of Africa’s strongest economies and its democracy is an envy of many. However, this side of South Africa is the one that the country uses in marketing itself and surprisingly, it’s this side that is most loved and covered by international media. There is another side to the coin, however, that is shunned by the media. This side exposes the plight of South Africa’s poor which is increasing year on year due to the rising gap between the haves and the have-nots.
While it’s always hard to live on the other side largely because without exposure, on your own you cannot really influence much on the national level, it seems South Africa’s poor might have a reason to smile again. A ray of light in the form of the newly elected South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa is promising to bring solace and comfort to the weeping many.
Ramaphosa may well not be popular among many poor South Africans but if we are to take anything from his inauguration speech and promises in his first days in office, then poor South Africans ought to celebrate his ascendancy to power.
Unlike Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa is not a populist but rather a reformist and if there is anything the world has taught us, it’s to respect a reformist. While a populist has the charisma, appeal and sweet mouth to lure supporters, his/her rhetoric often times ends only in words while the reformist stresses more on doing than talking.
In light of this, let’s look at the promises that the reformist Cyril Ramaphosa has promised the people of South Africa especially the man, woman, and child in the most impoverished towns/cities of South Africa.
Fight against corruption
Cyril Ramaphosa took office the following day after a morning raid on the Gupta family, a family that epitomises corruption in South Africa. As corruption in the name of State Capture is the most important element that led to the demise of Jacob Zuma, it was clear from the word go that whoever succeeded Zuma would have to take on corruption if s/he was to gain traction. That is exactly what Ramaphosa did by promising to fight corruption.
While it’s those at the top that enjoy the benefits of corruption such as unscrupulously winning government tenders, it’s those at the bottom that Face the brunt of corruption. Corruption results in a job/task/project being handed to an incompetent person or body. The results, therefore, are below par and of poor quality mostly service provision which affects the middle class and the poor. By tackling corruption, Ramaphosa will open the environment for more people to challenge for opportunities that would otherwise be reserved for a select few. If the fight against corruption is successful, then there is reason for South Africans to celebrate.
Ramaphosa says his priority in government is to revitalise South Africa’s economy and his two main areas of focus are a digital revolution and fixing the mining sector. The world is becoming digital by the way and therein lays opportunities and challenges for South Africa’s growth. The first step that Ramaphosa is set to undertake is to establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission tasked which consists of the private sector, civil society, and the government. It is Ramaphosa’s hope that the Commission will unlock opportunities that will go a long way in aiding economic development.
On the same front, experts state that the telecoms sector in South Africa is stagnant due to two telecoms ministries fighting each other for supremacy. The new president needs to merge the two ministries and remove duplicate roles to ensure more sustained growth in the telecoms field.
Ironically, Ramaphosa has promised to spearhead the fixing of the mining sector, the one sector he has come under immense pressure in owing to the Marikana massacres. It’s not clear what Ramaphosa’s strategy is going to be but it surely it must have a special focus on the workers’ working conditions and remuneration.
Ramaphosa has also made reference to social grants in his first weeks in office. For a country that is seeing its unemployment levels rise up year on year, it’s crucial that its social welfare structure is robust and that is exactly what Ramaphosa wants to see. Ramaphosa has stressed that there should be the efficient delivery of social grants. In the past, especially towards Zuma’s last days in office, the body tasked with administering social grants, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has had to delay releasing the funds. There are seven types of grants in South Africa which include Child Support, Older Person’s Grant, Disability Grant, Grant-in-Aid, Care Dependency, War Veteran’s Grant and Foster Child Grant.
In a bid to address the plight of the poor who find themselves in some unfavourable working conditions, Ramaphosa has also that he wants to see worker’s living and working conditions improve under his tenure. He said that the first step is to implement a national minimum wage at par with the Poverty Datum Line that is going to give workers a better standard of living.
Being reformist, Ramaphosa is more likely to fulfil his promises, however, this is just an assertion that needs Ramaphosa’s will and determination in pursuing these promises for them to become reality. As such, it’s every South African’s hope that indeed Ramaphosa will stay true to his word and fulfil these promises that will ultimately make the life of South Africans better.
Across Africa With Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments
-US-Africa Relations Bigger than personalities Officials says
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Relations with Africa and the USA go beyond any one leader or official, Senior State Department Officials told Journalists in Washington, DC, recently in a media briefing. Speaking at the State Department to Journalists from Pan African Visions, the Washington Post,Allo Africa News, and Reuters, Ambassador Don Yamamoto, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan , Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of African Affairs ,discussed US-African relations under the Trump Administration, and shared perspectives on a number of developments across the continent.
Giving an over view of the recent African tour of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Ambassador Sullivan who was part of the delegation, said much of the focus was on strengthening trade and development relationships, strengthening regional security, including counter-terrorism cooperation, a focus on good governance and democratic values, and the relationship on economic developments and building resilience in communities to avoid the extremist ideology.
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was the first stop of the tour, Secretary Tillerson and AU Chairperson Moussa Faki reaffirmed the commitment to the shared goal of a stable and prosperous Africa. Secretary Tillerson held talks with Ethiopian government officials on human rights, the need to open political space, and the ongoing political transition, Ambassador Sullivan said.
In Djibouti, there were discussion on the situation at the container port, investment climate, and security issues. In Kenya, Secretary Tillerson congratulated President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga on the statesmanship on display as they seek to move the country forward. There were discussions on hot spots like South Sudan and Somalia with Kenyan government officials. A highlight of the Kenya lap of the trip was the meeting with survivors of the 1998 Embassy bombing, and laying of a wreath at the site of the former Embassy where the bombing took place, Ambassador Sullivan disclosed. Secretary Tillerson also had meetings with President Buhari in Nigeria, and Idriss Derby in Chad to round up the tour.
On what the trip did in restoring confidence on US-Africa ties after controversial statements attributed to President Trump, a few months before the trip, the State Department Officials said AU Chairperson Moussa Faki summed it best when he said the focus was on the future and not the past. U.S -African relations are very unique in their own way the Officials said. The departure of Secretary Tillerson will be no effect to engagements taken, Ambassador Sullivan added.
Both Officials fielded questions on immigration, China in Africa, engagement with the African diaspora, the political situation in Cameroon, South Sudan, Guinea and Zimbabwe amongst others.