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The Kigali AU Summit: Nigeria’s Diplomatic Blunder
March 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Reuben Abati*

Dr. Reuben Abati

Dr. Reuben Abati

President Muhammadu Buhari’s 12th hour decision to snub the African Union Extra-ordinary summit on the endorsement of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), in Kigali, March 20 – 22 is a diplomatic blunder. The excuse that has been offered is not convincing, the management of the entire episode is untidy. Simple courtesies matter in diplomacy, unpredictability, surprise and ambush may be good tactics on the battlefield but they could be costly in the much finer arena of diplomacy. I want to assume that President Buhari was misadvised. Standards have fallen generally in our foreign policy management process, and they have done so much more rapidly in the last three years, for both seen and unseen reasons, but I did not imagine that we could descend this low as to begin to play pranks with some of the major planks of Nigeria’s foreign policy framework. President Buhari should have been in Kigali on March 21 to sign the AfCFTA document and participate in the deliberations.

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is probably the most historic, epoch-making development since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which later became the African Union (AU) in 2002. It is also probably the biggest trade agreement since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and a concrete, provable culmination of the goals of African Renaissance and Afro-optimism. It should be noted that Nigeria was part of this process from the very beginning. In 1981, Nigeria was the host of an economic summit organized by the OAU, the very first of such summits. It took place in Lagos under the Shagari government. The outcome was the Lagos Plan of Action on African economic development. In the 90s, at least three African leaders were in the forefront of what became known as the African Renaissance – South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and Libya’s Muammar Ghadaffi – using the platform of the OAU/AU, and the co-operation and support of both the African and Western intelligentsia.

African Renaissance is about rebirth and the transformation of Africa. It is also about integration at various levels: security, peace, stability, development and co-operation as captured in the Kampala Document of 1991. There was indeed so much talk at the time about Africa, being the “last frontier” that needed to be developed. This vision of a transformed Africa resulted in the introduction of policy actions and structures including the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the New Africa Initiative (NAI), the Abuja Treaty (1991) and the idea of an African Economic Community (AEC). Much of this may have been inspired by developments in this direction in the West – the European Union for example, and the Washington Consensus, but it was all within the context of developing Africa’s capacity to compete, integrate, co-operate and advance into the future. The AfCFTA is a product of that process and probably the most important harvest.

African Heads of Government agreed to it in 2012 and started negotiations in 2015. It is a trade liberalization policy to remove barriers that have hitherto hindered intra-African trade. Those barriers made Africa majorly a collection of closed communities, trading with Europe, Asia and the United States, and doing little trading among themselves. Under the AfCFTA, African leaders seek to increase intra-African trade from 14% to 52% by 2022. Its main features include the removal of tariffs on goods (up to 90%), reduction of delays at borders, liberalization of services, job creation and the expansion of opportunities available to the people. At first flush, there is no doubt that the AfCFTA could lead to the eventual realization of the AU Agenda 2063 – “the African we want”- a 12-flagship-projects programme, which includes a Single African Air Transport Market, free movement of people and a common currency.

Nigeria was actively involved in all these negotiations leading to the preparation of an enabling legal framework for continental free trade; such was the level of our commitment that the country in fact lobbied to have the AfCFTA secretariat situated in Abuja. So, at what point did Nigeria transform from being conveners to boycotters of this strategic initiative? It will be recalled that on March 14, the AfCFTA framework was reportedly presented for consideration at the Federal Executive Council and it was endorsed. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment later addressed the State House Press Corps to announce Nigeria’s enthusiasm and commitment to the AfCFTA. By Friday, the country’s delegation to the AU Extra-ordinary Summit on the AfCFTA was already on its way to Kigali, and this included the President’s advance team. The State House even issued a statement announcing the President’s trip to Kigali. Then all of a sudden, on Sunday, March 18, the country was informed that the President’s trip to Kigali had been cancelled “to allow time for broader consultations” – with stakeholders who had objected to Nigeria signing the AfCFTA document.

There is something untidy here. The Federal Executive Council, or the Executive Council of the Federation as it is known to the Constitution, is the highest decision-making body of the Federal Government. At what point did it meet to reverse the decision it had taken on the AfCFTA on Wednesday, March 14? When did the stakeholders make their positions known to government and what was the manner of communication, to command an express, weekend cancellation of a planned Presidential trip that had already been announced and initiated? And at what point were the objections considered? Was there even any input from the relevant Ministries: Foreign Affairs, Budget and National Planning, and Industry, Trade and Investment?

The identity of the complainants was soon revealed; members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), particularly the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) who claimed that Nigeria would be overwhelmed by business from outside under AfCFTA; Nigerian airline operators, the same owners of those flying coffins whose doors disengage on impact, whose tyres are so worn-out they sometimes can’t land on the tarmac, yes, they too claim Nigeria should not sign up to any open skies agreement, and then of course the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) whose leaders reportedly dismissed the AfCFTA as “a renewed extremely dangerous and radioactive neoliberal policy initiative.” It is common practice for certain stakeholders to object to ideas and policies. The controversy over WTO agreements and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a famous example. In Africa, also, there were objections to NEPAD and the African Peer Review Mechanism by some African leaders. But one point is that the AU is not only for governments, it is also a platform for African business stakeholders, NGOs, and the civil society in general. Nigeria’s OPS, MAN and NLC did not have to wait till the last minute. They have had more than 3 years to engage the Nigerian government. And could it in fact be that the Nigerian Government never bothered to consult these stakeholders?

Nonetheless, their objections do not provide enough reason for a Nigerian boycott of the AU extra-ordinary summit in Kigali. Instead, they provide a justification for Nigeria’s presence. Nigeria’s absence is an assault on the integrity of its fundamental foreign policy objectives. Africa is the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy process, beginning with our immediate neighbours in the West African sub-region. For this reason, Nigeria has always been in the forefront of major events, conversations and developments in the continent. Our absence at such a landmark event as the Kigali summit is an abdication of leadership and responsibility. Other African countries may for a season, no longer trust Nigeria: to commit to a process so robustly, only to chicken out at the last minute on account of blackmail by recovering socialists, protectionists and anti-trade lobbyists – that is not the way of Nigerian diplomacy or international best practice.

I assume that the boycott is based on the wrong presumption that the AfCFTA takes immediate effect and it is binding immediately it is launched and signed by Heads of Government. Where are the Africa experts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA)? Is anyone still consulting them or they just now go to the office to drink tea? What is signed at the Kigali Summit is the Legal Framework for the Trade agreement. The number of countries that would ratify the agreement to kick it into effect as at the time of this writing has not even been determined: 15, 22, 37 or a figure in-between or more. After signing up to it, each country will further ratify the agreement by way of domestication, and there is room for further negotiations, which could still go on for years, over matters that may be considered “sensitive.” Some of these “sensitive” issues have already been identified including the establishment of dispute resolution mechanisms, the prevention of dumping, intellectual property and copyright issues, rules-based considerations with regard to removal of tariffs, anti-trust considerations and the protection of countries with little or no production capabilities, to mitigate the effect of uneven benefits, and to ensure fairness, justice and protection of human rights.

South Africa, for example, has raised concerns about the proposed free movement of persons, but the South African President has not boycotted the Summit, instead he says he has “his pen on the ready.” He has signed the Kigali declaration. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is not attending the Summit but he has sent his Minister of Foreign Affairs to represent him and he issued a statement expressing commitment to the Trade agreement. Uganda has since signed. Tanzania says the Tanzania parliament will debate the agreement, but meanwhile, Tanzania has signed. So far, here is the final tally as at close of business on March 21: AfCFTA – 44 countries, Kigali Declaration – 43 countries; Protocol on Free Movement of People – 27 countries. Nigeria’s absence is definitely an embarrassing boycott. Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs may be in Kigali but he and his team have no mandate to engage in any negotiations, our President, the country’s chief diplomat, having said he needs more time for “broader consultations.” This so-called consultation is precisely what the Kigali summit is all about. Nigeria or any of the other 54 countries does not have any veto power over AU decisions. The rest of Africa can choose to go ahead on this matter without Nigeria and if that happens, we would still not be in a position to stop the globalization and liberalization process or sabotage “Africa’s Common Position”.

The irony that is lost on Abuja is that in fact Nigeria needs the AfCFTA more than any other African country. Nigeria has the largest market and population. The country and its people stand to benefit more especially at the level of services and SMEs. There are more Nigerians than any other group of Africans trading across the continent- in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, South Africa, Gabon, Cameroon, Sao Tome, Equitorial Guinea – our people are everywhere. Out of about the 300 shops or so in Sao Tome’s main market, about 200 of those shops are owned by Nigerians. The spare parts business in Angola is in the hands of Nigerians. Nigerian technocrats and businessmen dominate the services sector in The Gambia. There are over one million Nigerians doing business in Cote d’Ivoire. There are Nigerian banks and insurance companies across Africa, even as far as Kigali. The Dangote group has factories in 14 African countries.

In all of these places, the Nigerian trader or businessman is not particularly well-liked. He is subjected to high tariffs, his shops are raided, and as is the case in South Africa, Nigerians are attacked for making more money and for attracting local girls. A Continental Free Trade Agreement could put an end to this. It will also make it possible for airlines like Ethiopian airline or Rwandair or Kenyan Airways to operate domestic flights inside Nigeria, and perhaps make it possible for Africans to travel directly within the continent instead of a Nigerian having to travel first to Europe before accessing countries like Sao Tome and Equitorial Guinea which are less than 30 minutes away from the Nigerian coastline. Many Nigerians would rather choose efficiency over the opposite. The gain would be the creation of more jobs and opportunities. The competition that will result will compel Nigerian businesses to raise the level of their game. The AfCFTA will not kill Nigerian businesses as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria ignorantly claims. A more inclusive Africa is the pathway to a transformed Africa. Nigeria gives aid to many African countries, for which it gets little in return; under an AfCFTA dispensation, Nigeria can give those aid-dependent countries, trade not aid.

Nigeria must be greatly missed at the Kigali AU Summit. From the pictures that I have seen, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is the most prominent Nigerian on ground at that historic event but even he is not in a position to do any damage control; he is there in his own right as a global statesman and as one of the founding fathers of the AfCFTA initiative. Beyond all the country and issues-related arguments above, let me add this: President Muhammadu Buhari has a personal reason to be in Kigali. At the AU summit in Addis Ababa in January, he was honoured by the AU Commission as a champion of the anti-corruption campaign in Africa. It is worth stating that the AU battle cry for 2018 is actually this: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”. Africa is discussing an integrity framework for the continent’s transformation in Kigali, and the AU’s honoured and recognized integrity champion is back home in Abuja, having “broader consultations”! Enough said.

*Culled from Elombah.com

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Boko Haram Realeses 101 DAPCHI Abducted Girls …as five of the Girls were allegedly killed
March 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Olayinka Ajayi
 
The directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to all security agencies to do everything possible to secure the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls, who were abducted 19 Feb. 2018, has yielded fruits, with the confirmed release of 101 of the 110 abducted students in the early hours of Wednesday.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the 101 are those who have been documented so far, adding that the release of the abducted students is ongoing.
The number of the Dapchi schoolgirls who were released on Wednesday has increased from 76 to 101, with the documentation of more of the freed girls by the insurgent group.
The Minister said the number could still increase, as the documentation of the freed girls is ongoing.
The Minister said the girls were released around 3 a.m. through back-channel efforts and with the help of some friends of the country, and that it was unconditional.
”For the release to work, the government had a clear understanding that violence and confrontation would not be the way out as it could endanger the lives of the girls, hence a non-violent approach was the preferred option.
”Within the period when the girls were being brought back, operational pause was observed in certain areas to ensure free passage and also that lives were not lost,” he said.
However, Sahara Reporters reported that five of the girls are dead as the insurgent group reportedly returned all kidnapped DapchiGirls girls back to Dapchi township in Yobe.
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In light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal: Should African countries holding elections be concerned
March 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg meets Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, Nigeria, on September. Mark Zuckerberg's African tour

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg meets Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, Nigeria, on September. Mark Zuckerberg’s African tour

Anyone who has been on the internet since last Friday at one point or the other must have come across news pieces focusing on a firm called Cambridge Analytica or the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook scandal. It’s not always the case that most internet users’ click on news with a special focus on firms or people they aren’t familiar with or in faraway places. However, the trending Cambridge Analytica scandal should be a concern for everyone regardless of location.

Why is the Cambridge Analytica scandal a big deal for everyone including Africans?

Everyone must be gravely concerned about the ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal because it affects each one of us directly and has influenced or possess the influence to alter our lives significantly. Firstly, the scandal occurred in the form of data mining by private firms on unsuspecting social media users (specifically Facebook but can also apply to other social media platforms). As most of us are social media users, this means it can affect or has already affected us.

Secondly, the scandal is a political machination meant at influencing the political outcome in elections, thus threatening the notion of democracy of free, fair, and credible elections. Something that affects us all.

Understanding the Cambridge Analytica in brief

Cambridge Analytica is a political data analysis firm operating in the US; it’s a subsidiary of Strategic Communications Laboratory, a London based company. Cambridge Analytica is accused of mining social media profiles and using the information to influence the elections.

The journey did not start with Cambridge Analytica, rather a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge called Dr. Aleksandra Kogan started it all, working separately from the Cambridge University of course. Kogan created an app, thisisyourdigitallife whose aim was to identify personalities of social media users and derive their behaviour. Kogan managed to get consent from 270 000 Facebook users for his app.

At some point during that time, Kogan found a loophole in Facebook and he was able to exploit it in the process increasing his app’s user base from 270 000 to 5 million (270 000 users voluntarily downloaded the app but Kogan managed to pilfer over 50 million profiles as the default terms of his agreement with Facebook enabled his app to gather data from the friends of the users who had voluntarily downloaded the app).

It is at this time that Kogan took his app and idea to Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell, two other psychologists who worked at Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre and had their own personality app called mypersonality developed in 2007. In 2013, Michael Kosinski and David Stillwell together with fashion forecasting Ph.D. student named Christopher Wylie started Cambridge Analytica after Christopher Wylie had approached Michal and David with a proposition to use mypersonality as a precursor to political behaviour.

Cambridge Analytica quickly took on Kogan’s thisisyourlife app together with its 5 million users. Kogan surrendered the app to Cambridge Analytica afterward, however news quickly reached Facebook that Kogan had exploited a loophole in Facebook’s operations and was able to mine data of 5 million users. Facebook instructed Kogan and Cambridge Analytica to stop mining the data; Cambridge Analytica refused as reported by Rolling Stone.

Cambridge Analytica’s influence in US elections

According to the Dallas News and the Guardian, Ted Cruz was the first US presidential candidate to have used the services of Cambridge Analytica in 2013. He, however, has issued a statement saying that the firm assured him at the time that its voter methods were legit.

Cambridge Analytica was however, more involved in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump as it was the main digital campaign trail. Cambridge Analytica used its Facebook data to combine voter records and other sources and develop targeted and personalised advertising.  The firm also mapped out the areas where the candidate (Trump) should visit to garner most votes.

Cause for concern for Africa

The Cambridge Analytica scandal comes in the same year that 20 African countries are going to hold national elections. Though Cambridge Analytica’s influence is limited to the West according to evidence thus far, it’s possible that its activities may well have reached Africa. Even if this is not the case, there is the possibility that another firm that uses identical methods to Cambridge Analytica may well have some operations in Africa.

In order for Africa to protect itself from such firms that prey on unsuspecting social media users, it’s important to know how they go about their operations so that effective counter-strategies can be formulated. The first method as reported that Cambridge Analytica commonly used was to trace one’s Facebook history, almost all the activities one does on Facebook was used to create a pattern of behaviour; ‘likes’ determined someone’s preferences i.e. liberal or conservative. Age, sex, and precise location also including the type of cosmetic or food you enjoy were all used to narrow down one’s preferences. This very same information was also used to create targeted and personalised advertising that swayed voters to the preferred candidate.

It’s probably difficult for the general populace to know if such firms are part of a country’s election especially in the absence of strong investigative journalism. However, that does not mean such firms have power over social media users, you can protect yourself, your vote and also your country by keeping your social media data secure and safe by among other things being more alert on the data you share with external websites and apps.

If you have allowed several websites and apps permission to use your Facebook data in the past, you can follow the steps below to check the apps and sites with permission to your Facebook data so you remove those that feel and look suspicious.

On desktop:

  • Click the downward pointing arrow in the top right-hand corner.
  • Click ‘Settings’
  • In the sidebar on the left, select ‘Apps’

On mobile:

  • Tap the icon with the three horizontal lines
  • Scroll down and select ‘Settings’
  • Then ‘Account Settings’
  • Scroll down and select ‘Apps’
  • Tap ‘Logged in with Facebook’ to see all of the services accessing your account.

 

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Ramaphosa proposes single African currency: AU Summit
March 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
File: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday strongly punted the idea of creating a single homogeneous currency for African countries in a bid to attract infrastructure investment and enable ease of intra-African trade.

File: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday strongly punted the idea of creating a single homogeneous currency for African countries in a bid to attract infrastructure investment and enable ease of intra-African trade.

KIGALI – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday strongly punted the idea of creating a single homogeneous currency for African countries in a bid to attract infrastructure investment and enable ease of intra-African trade.

Speaking as a panelist on financing intra-Africa trade at the African Continental Free Trade Area business forum in Kigali, Rwanda, Ramaphosa said that it was time that Africa stops relying on foreign currency for its development and trade, adding that this was born of colonial mentality.

“These are the reasons we need partners who must work with us and assist us ensure we de-risk projects in order to attract finance for infrastructure projects. I am particularly interested in the notion of us having a tradeable currency that allows us to trade effectively across territorial borders,” Ramaphosa said.

“We must rid ourselves of this colonial mentality that demands we rely on other people’s currency. Perhaps the day, the hour and the moment could have arrived for us to create a single African currency. Our focus should not be on our individual countries but the continent as a whole to unlock great opportunities and capabilities.”

At least 53 African Heads of States have gathered in Kigali for the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the AU to consider the legal instruments of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) and also launch the agreement officially to establish the treaty.

AfCTA is aimed at deepening African economic integration, promoting agricultural development, food security, industrialisation and structural economic transformation through single-air continental transport market with free movement of persons, capital, goods and services.

AU chairperson and Rwanda President, Paul Kagame gave a strong indication yet that member states will sign the treaty to create the continental free trade area even if the continent’s most-populated country, Nigeria, withdraws from the meeting.

Ramaphosa said that the AfCFTA signals a new beginning for Africa and an opportunity to unleash African people’s entrepreneurial nature, adding that the treaty would create a level playing field for African countries to participate in meaningful trade.

He also touched on the nagging issue of visa barriers for travellers between South Africa and Rwanda, saying that African leaders were creating pathways for their countries which had been impeded by artificial borders to flourish.

“Earlier today, I met with His Excellency President Kagame. We have agreed that we will put the relationship between our two countries on a much better footing. Amongst the issues we discussed, was that we must resolve the challenge of issuing of visa to people of Rwanda wanting to visit South Africa,” Ramaphosa said.

“Our Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation have been tasked to work on this immediately and we thus consider this matter of visas as solved.”

*African News Agency

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Initiative for Global Development Announces Sponsorship Line up for U.S. Roadshow Tour
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
Sponsors announced for the inaugural Africa Investment Rising’s four-city U.S. Roadshow Tour to Spur Trade and Investment in Africa

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 20, 2018 – The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) announced today its lineup of sponsors and partners for its four-city U.S. Roadshow Tour, taking place from April 18 – May 1, 2018, to spur bold action on increasing U.S. trade and investment in Africa.

The U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”, 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.

African and U.S. CEOs and senior executives from sector-leading companies and investors are invited to participate in the U.S. roadshow’s multi-city series of site visits, panel discussions, and speed networking among investors and business leaders to spur greater U.S. investment in Africa.

Top level sponsors of the U.S. Roadshow Tour include USAID’s East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs as Premier Sponsor. The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group will serve as Collaborating Partner and the Bank’s top leadership from key sectors will be participating throughout the roadshow tour.

Launching the U.S. roadshow in Washington, D.C on April 18 with an evening reception to kick off the U.S. Roadshow Tour on Capitol Hill.

A high-level morning session on April 19 will focus on U.S. financing of businesses operating in Africa. A Private Sector Engagement Forum, to be held on the afternoon of Thursday, April 19, will bring together development actors — USAID officials, African government officials and representatives from the private sector and civil society — for an action-oriented discussion on building successful public-private partnerships to promote sustainable development and economic prosperity on the continent.

The roadshow tour will then travel to New York City to highlight banking, financing, and investment opportunities; Des Moines, IA for agriculture and agro-industry; and Houston, TX for energy and power.

“It has never been a better time for trade and investment in Africa,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcoych, President and CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD). “We’re excited about launching the U.S. roadshow tour to showcase the continent’s economic potential.  Expanding trade and investment will enable both U.S. and African companies to scale and tap into new markets, leading to mutually beneficial job creation and greater economic prosperity. It’s a win-win.”

Platinum sponsors are ChevronNorton, Rose and Fulbright LLPIowa State University Research Park, and AGCOLilium Capital, and Orrick; Gold sponsors are Corteva AgriscienceEndeavor EnergyJohn DeereSasol, and AllAfrica.com; and Silver sponsors are World Food Prize Foundation and Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Organizational Partners are PAN Diaspora Capital ManagementHarris Africa Partners/Grant T. Harris, The Serendra Group LLC/Robert van Zwieten, U.S. Bilateral African Chamber of CommerceGlobal Farmer NetworkU.S. Small Business Administration, and Invest Africa.

Media partners are Africa InvestorAfrica.com,  Afropop Worldwide, AlloAfrica.com,  Asoko InsightFace2Face AfricaPan-African Visions, and VoxAfrica.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is a regional multilateral development bank engaged in promoting the sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries, thus contributing to poverty reduction. The USAID East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs provide extensive support to deepen the U.S.-Africa economic and commercial relationship with and within their regions.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available and IGD will announce additional sponsors and media partners on an ongoing basis. For information contact, Lara Bangs, Manager of Corporate Events, at lbangs@igdleaders.org or visit www.aircampaign.org

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.

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Pan African University 2018 Student Call Now Open: Join Africa’s Leaders in Water and Energy
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES) offers four distinct two-year Master programs
The PAUWES Class of 2017 celebrates at their graduation ceremony on 29 October 2017 at the University of Tlemcen

The PAUWES Class of 2017 celebrates at their graduation ceremony on 29 October 2017 at the University of Tlemcen

TLEMCEN, Algeria, March 20, 2018/ — The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES) (http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz) in Algeria contributes to promoting higher education and applied research in the fields of water, energy and climate change – a key contribution to sustainable development in Africa. The admissions process for its Master programs in water and energy (both engineering and policy tracks) starting in September 2018 is now open. All AU citizens (including diaspora) are encouraged to apply, particularly women and candidates from Southern, Central, and Northern Africa.

Building a prosperous and stable Africa calls for a new generation of African leaders capable of and committed to facing the vast challenges of the continent. These challenges include water scarcity, renewable energy, and climate change. The Pan African University (PAU) (https://PAU-AU.net), a key initiative of the African Union Commission, is dedicated to this mission. The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES) is hosted by the University of Tlemcen in Algeria. Since its establishment in 2014, over 200 students from 31 countries across Africa have enrolled, and 73 students have been successfully graduated from its programs. “PAUWES is a prototype of the Africa of tomorrow, for which we are laying the foundations,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, during his official visit to PAUWES on 11 March 2018. PAUWES benefits from the support of the Algerian government and the German Development Cooperation.

Today, PAUWES offers four distinct two-year Master programs. Students striving to be future engineers have the choice between the Master of Science (MSc) in Water Engineering and the MSc in Energy Engineering. Students interested in policy-making and governance can choose between the MSc in Water Policy and Energy Policy. The language of instruction is English, and students have the opportunity to study French at the onset of the program. PAUWES students come from all over Africa, which creates a unique possibility to study in a multicultural environment of highly motivated and engaged peers.

Current PAUWES students greet Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, during his official visit to the Institute on 11 March 2018

Current PAUWES students greet Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, during his official visit to the Institute on 11 March 2018

PAUWES strives to balance theory and practice through international internships, case studies, and field trips. To provide the students with specific technical skills in their field of interest, PAUWES offers electives (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energies, water and sanitation, integrated water resource management, policy analysis or leadership). Graduates benefit from career pathways in public administration, policy-making, research, private enterprise, consulting and civil society. Access to the Institute’s international expert network, research partnerships, career-promotion programs and forthcoming entrepreneurship centre further boosts graduates’ profiles.

Under the framework of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, PAUWES places a special emphasis on recruiting and empowering female students. The Institute facilitates women-focused networking events and workshops. To further develop its vision of diversity, PAUWES also encourages applicants with disabilities and candidates from under-represented regions (Southern Africa, Central Africa, Northern Africa) to apply. All PAUWES students receive full scholarships (covering tuition and living expenses) following a competitive admission process.

Application
Interested students are invited to apply until 20 April 2018 under the following link: https://PAU-AU.net/apply

About Pan African University
In 2008, the African Union Commission (AUC) set up the Pan African University (PAU) (https://PAU-AU.net) to strengthen higher education and research in areas that pose particular challenges for Africa. PAU addresses five thematic areas: Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation; Life and Earth Sciences (including Health and Agriculture), Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences; Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES); and Space Sciences. The thematic areas are assigned to five flagship institutes hosted by existing universities of excellence across Africa’s five geographic regions. For more information:  https://PAU-AU.net

About PAUWES
As an integral part of the Pan African University, the Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (including Climate Change) (PAUWES) (http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz) in Tlemcen, Algeria, contributes to advancing higher education and applied research in the fields of water, energy and climate change – a key contribution to sustainable development in Africa. PAUWES, which is supported by the host country of Algeria and the German government, currently offers four Master programs in the fields of water and energy, covering both engineering and policy. For more information:  http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz

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Moammar Gadhafi’s son wants to be the next president of Libya
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Joe Tacopino*

Moammar Gadhafi, AP

Moammar Gadhafi ,AP

The son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi reportedly wants to run for president of the country in elections later this year.

The candidacy of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi — who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity — was announced by the Libyan Popular Front party on Monday, according to London’s Telegraph newspaper.

Saif al-Islam, 45, is currently in hiding. The political party said they would address the country about his plans.

Human rights activist Khaled Guel told the pan-Arab newspaper al-Araby al-Jadeed that things are so bad in Libya that people want Gadhafi to take over.

“The humanitarian situation is deteriorating and the path forward is unclear,” said Guel.

“Therefore many Libyans now believe that the only way to save the country is through Saif al-Islam.”

Moammar Gadhafi was killed in 2011 after overseeing a bloody suppression of an uprising against him.

Saif al-Islam was held by a militia for six years and released last year and granted amnesty by a local government.

A court in Tripoli, however sentenced him to death, in absentia, in 2015 for crimes committed during the revolution.

He is accused of inciting violence and murdering protesters.

*New York Post

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Roll up your sleeves and start thinking BIG – how to get ICT in Africa right
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Murray Steyn*

Whether one subscribes to the Africa Rising narrative (a term perhaps coined by this analysis of Africa’s prospects, published by The Economist in 2011)) or a more moderate outlook for the continent, the fact is that the ICT sector has the most to gain from Africa’s economic advancement, and the most to contribute to it too.

There isn’t a single industry – from mining to manufacturing, education to entrepreneurial endeavours of every flavour, from city construction to individual actualisation – that will not be advanced by reliable, affordable access to the Internet. I don’t think there’s another sector in the world that can make such a momentous promise.

The opportunity for ICT companies of all sizes – from neighbourhood ISPs to cross-national carriers – is significant, particularly for home-grown ICT operations that surely know our continent and its markets better than any imported from overseas. Increasingly, local ICT players are collaborating to offer competitively-priced and technologically-sound solutions that are outperforming those presented by international competitors.

Many of these would only be possible through wholesale product offerings by large network operators like Internet Solutions. This may appear to be a counter-intuitive business model but for those that invested in the infrastructure and licences on which new competitors grow their market share, there is a lot of opportunity to be had in reallocating network capacity.

Below are some of the trends we’re seeing in the wholesale ICT sector, specifically looking to Africa:

Local carriers are also entering partnerships with third-party service providers

The days of operators owning the entirety of their own networks – from first- to last-mile – are over. And that’s fine. As I’ve mentioned, where some licensees have adopted business models based on owning their infrastructure, other operators have opted to partner with existing network players to bring innovative services to the market faster.

What is interesting is that even at a very local level, where one could argue that infrastructure investment is fairly contained, ISPs are recognising the benefit of outsourcing network, data centre and other assets to experienced partners. By concentrating on what they do best, which is likely servicing their customers, even the smallest ISP has the means to build a thriving business.

Red tape and regulation still hampers cross-border operations

Africa is the continent with the most countries – 54 to be exact. It’s comprised of countless tribes, innumerable languages, political instability, infrastructure challenges and more than enough regulation to go around.

The fact is that African policy-making has not been able to keep up with the exponential growth of technology, devices and their applications. As such, regulation is reactive rather than supportive, and appears to handicap development rather than encourage it.

Perhaps the solution is that foreign companies – even African ones – get closer to policy-makers in their new markets to better mitigate the risks of changing policy. Perhaps more involvement, lobbying, and monetary and other investment from the get-go will lead to better mitigation of the risks associated with policy change.

Asian operators have their eyes on Africa too

China and India are two Asian markets that not only survived the global recession but thrived despite it.

Their respective population bases, and size of their economies, provide economies of scale that are driving the growth of their ICT sectors, while the number of science and engineering students in both countries looks to sustain this growth and innovation well into the future – and into foreign territories like Africa.

Perhaps it’s true that many African ISPs lack the financial and experiential muscle of Asian competitors, but how many of these can boast genuine pan-African development agendas, and partnerships with local companies to overcome infrastructure challenges?

As Ayanda Dlamini, Business Development Manager at LGR Telecommunications, said recently: “Africa has both the resources and the resourcefulness to develop a thriving ICT sector delivering solutions fit for purpose in Africa.  The outlook is very healthy. All we need to do is take action and seize the opportunity.”

Beware of competing on cost

When it comes to Internet connectivity and access, cheapest is not necessarily best. Consumers want speed. In our experience, the arguments against unreliable connections are about as vociferous as those against high data costs.

The fact is that the speed vs. cost debate comes down to the market one is serving. A less sophisticated market has yet to learn that fast becomes cheap, whereas an experienced market of users with more high-end devices and applications comes to realise that if they can’t get data at the price they’d prefer to pay for it (i.e. free), then speed and bandwidth capacity is something they simply won’t compromise on.

My advice to ISPs entering new African territories – whether into a new country or a new neighbourhood – is to research your market thoroughly to understand who your consumers are and what they need. Then structure and price your offering accordingly.

Doing business in Africa is complicated, but it’s far from impossible. After all, Internet Solutions has been doing so for more than 20 years. We have invested in long distance and last-mile networks – the latter is especially challenging given that customers are geographically dispersed and often in underdeveloped locales.

Importantly, we have built and maintained relationships with trusted, in-country service providers. We understand exactly how consumers use data and can project future usage patterns as populations grow and disposable income increases.

What remains is the increasingly vital component of customer service, which we entrust to our wholesale clients

*Murray Steyn, Executive Head: Wholesale at Internet Solutions

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In Africa, Trump’s firing of Tillerson a new sign of neglect
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By RODNEY MUHUMUZA*

Former Secretary of State Tillerson with President Buhari of Nigeria

Former Secretary of State Tillerson with President Buhari of Nigeria

Ask some Africans what they think of President Donald Trump and they just shake their heads. That sense of indifference appears to have deepened after Trump fired his secretary of state at the end of Rex Tillerson’s first Africa tour last week.

Tillerson’s visit was widely seen as a Trump peace offering after the uproar over his reported vulgar remarks about African nations and his administration’s neglect of the world’s second most populous continent. The former secretary of state had been seen as a restraining influence on Trump and had clashed with the president over several foreign policy matters.

Now many Africans are tamping down their expectations of Trump even more. The U.S. president has rarely spoken about any priorities for a continent where many of its 50-plus nations have long relied on U.S. support for everything from health care to security.

Tillerson’s trip to Africa, including to the headquarters of the continent-wide African Union, had been widely seen as an effort to repair damage to relations. Now, with his firing, some in Africa feel they are starting anew with the Trump administration.

Tillerson’s departure is a sharp indication of Trump’s less-than-positive attitude toward the continent, some say.

“That, in my opinion, is adding insult to injury,” said Ted Alemayhu, an Ethiopian-born American who is running for Congress to represent California’s 39th District.

While in Africa, Tillerson tried to project a more positive image of the continent, saying its rapid economic growth and fast-growing populations mean its future is increasingly linked to America’s.

He visited some of Africa’s most prominent economies in Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia and highlighted U.S. security issues with stops in Chad and Djibouti, the site of the only permanent U.S. military base on the continent.

Tillerson also sought to reassure African nations that aid would continue even as the Trump administration pursues deep cuts in foreign assistance, announcing at the end of his visit $533 million in humanitarian aid for countries such as South Sudan and Nigeria.

Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, told The Associated Press that “we don’t see any change happening” in relations with the U.S. after Tillerson’s firing.

Unlike Trump, recent U.S. leaders engaged substantially with Africa.

Bill Clinton created a signature trade program known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and George W. Bush launched an HIV treatment program, PEPFAR, that has boosted the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of AIDS patients across Africa.

Barack Obama enjoyed goodwill throughout the continent, even though some in Africa felt he fell short of expectations as the son of Kenyan man.

Trump has not indicated any possible initiatives for Africa.

Trump “has no need, as he has discovered,” to engage with the continent, said Timothy Kalyegira, a prominent social critic in Uganda. “The feeling is that he is a free agent. If he wants to visit Africa, it’s fine. If he doesn’t want, it doesn’t matter.”

Trump has not named an assistant secretary of state to oversee the continent, nor an ambassador to key countries like South Africa. And Africa got a mere seven paragraphs on the very last pages of Trump’s National Security Strategy.

That lack of attention has left room for other countries such as China to step up their influence.

With its offers of concessional loans that help finance the ambitious infrastructure projects of some African governments, China’s footprint is widening. And African leaders like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni have said they would rather do business with a partner who does not lecture them about good governance and respecting human rights, giving China the thumbs-up.

In Djibouti, China’s development of its first overseas military base just a few miles from the U.S. base has illustrated the broader competition between the U.S. and China playing out across the continent.

Even as some argue that the Trump administration’s focus on Africa is notable in counterterror efforts if not in other issues, some Africans say they have given up on the U.S. president.

“Africans have nothing to take Trump seriously,” said Befekadu Hailu, a prominent Ethiopian blogger. “He already proved himself ethno-centrist and exclusivist, no friend to Africa.”

*Fox News/AP

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Buhari puts off ACFTA free trade deal signing
March 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

“This is to allow more time for input from Nigerian stakeholders”.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari arrives for the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia January 28, 2018 [Photo/Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari arrives for the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia January 28, 2018 [Photo/Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

Nigeria has officially put off signing the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) following protests by major labour unions, which warned that the deal would harm the local economy.

The country’s foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement Sunday night that President Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled his trip to the Rwandan capital Kigali, where African heads of state were scheduled to ink the agreement this week.

Cancelled trip

“President Buhari has cancelled his trip to Kigali, Rwanda, to attend an Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union on Tuesday, March 21, to sign the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area,” according to the statement by Tope Elias-Fatile, the foreign ministry spokesman.

“This is to allow more time for input from Nigerian stakeholders,” it added.

The Nigerian federal cabinet last week approved the signing of the deal, which it said would boost the country’s export, “spur growth and boost job creation as well as eliminate barriers against Nigeria’s products and provide a Dispute Settlement Mechanism for stopping the hostile and discriminatory treatment directed against Nigerian natural and corporate business persons in other African countries.”

ACFTA

ACFTA, a brainchild of the African Union to deepen regional integration, had been in the works since January 2012 – with Nigeria as one of its major promoters. However, local labour unions and big corporations have always been against it.

Last week, Nigeria’s trade and investment minister Okechukwu Enelamah acknowledged the continuous opposition to the deal, but he added that efforts were afoot to get the buy-in of all the stakeholders before the signing.

*Al Jazeera

 

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Zimbabwe crowns first ‘Miss Albino’ in bid to tackle stigma
March 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
Miss Albinism Zimbabwe 2018 winner Sithembiso Mutukura poses for a picture with her crown after a beauty contest featuring people with albinism in Harare, Zimbabwe, on March 16, 2018. (Photo: Aaron Ufumeli, EPA)

Miss Albinism Zimbabwe 2018 winner Sithembiso Mutukura poses for a picture with her crown after a beauty contest featuring people with albinism in Harare, Zimbabwe, on March 16, 2018.
(Photo: Aaron Ufumeli, EPA)

Sithembiso Mutukura beat 12 other contestants to claim the crown at Zimbabwe’s first-ever Miss Albinism beauty contest — an achievement she hopes will inspire others living with the rare disorder.

“We must continue to advocate for our rights and I hope my win will empower the girl child,” the 22-year-old social work student said.

“I have gone through a lot, but I want people living with albinism to be brave and persevere in life.”

During the event in Harare on Friday night, the contestants had to respond to questions on stage and model a range of gowns and traditional African robes. Mutukura was awarded $85 in prize money after being named the winner.

Pageant organizer Brenda Mudzimu said a lack of funds had made it difficult to get the initiative off the ground. In the end, the contest only attracted one sponsor, but Mudzimu says she hopes to one day make the event international.

“This will be an annual event which will later be advanced to Miss Albinism Africa and Miss Albinism World because we want to reach all corners of the world,” she said.

In many African countries, people with albinism routinely face discrimination and persecution because of the way they look. The genetic disorder prevents skin cells from producing melanin , resulting in abnormal pigmentation of the skin, hair, and eyes. People with the condition also suffer from vision problems and are susceptible to skin cancer.

“The pageant aims to instill confidence in girls living with albinism in Zimbabwe as well as reduce the stigma,” Mudzimu said.

Tapuwa Muchemwa, a Zimbabwean government representative who was the guest of honor at the pageant, said the country’s leaders “strongly advocate that people with albinism deserve their right to life and security and to be protected as well as the right not to be subjected to torture and ill-treatment.”

The rate of albinism in Africa is much higher than in other parts of the world. Communities in some countries believe albinism can bring magical powers, wealth and good fortune — a superstition that has led to attackers kidnapping and murdering albinos to sell their body parts to witch doctors on the black market.

According to the United Nations, there have been over 600 attacks on people with albinism documented in 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade. Many more cases are thought to go unreported.

*USA Today/DW.com

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UNAIDS Regional Director now President/CEO of ARDN
March 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Hassan Zaggi*

Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Senior Adviser to the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Djibril Diallo,

Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Senior Adviser to the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Djibril Diallo,

The Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Senior Adviser to the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Djibril Diallo, has been appointed as the President and Chief Executive Officer of African Renaissance and Diaspora Network, Inc. (ARDN). The appointment takes effect from March 25, 2018.

Dr. Diallo has held several management positions with the United Nations (UN) for more than three decades

ARDN is an internationally operating NGO headquartered in New York, with the status of a United States 501(c)(3) public charity.

ARDN’s mission, according to findings, is to accelerate the attainment of the African renaissance by advocating for and supporting UN programs, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Reacting to the appointment of Dr. Diallo, the UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, promised to continue to work closely with him to enable him succeed in his new task.

“We look forward to continued close collaboration between UNAIDS and ARDN with Djibril in the lead,” Michel Sidibé said in a message to all UNAIDS staff.

According findings by The AUTHORITY, Dr Diallo in his capacity as the chief executive officer of ARDN, will lead the organization’s “Pathway to Solutions” initiative, which aims to popularize the UN SDGs and to also increase public understanding of the role and functions of the UN.

On his part, Constance B. Newman, a Senior Fellow of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, disclosed that after over 9 months of extensive consultations, the “A Pathway to Solutions” strategic plan was presented to the UN Deputy-Secretary-General on 19 December 2017, at a coordination meeting held at the UN headquarters.

Newman further noted that: “Dr. Diallo’s expertise in international relations, diplomacy and human development will be critical at a time when the international community is pursuing, in tandem, the SDGs, the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), and the African Union Agenda 2063.

“We are confident that under his leadership, ARDN will be well-poised to contribute to the world we want – one defined by peace, justice, freedom, respect, social progress, equal rights and human dignity, tolerance, solidarity and sustainability – starting with Africa and the African diaspora.”

Speaking on his appointment, Dr. Diallo said that he was deeply humbled by the trust and confidence placed in him.

“I’m deeply humbled by the trust and confidence that has been placed in me. I’m excited to see what I can do in this new capacity to advance the United Nations’ hope and vision of a better world.

“When we talk about Africa and the diaspora, we’re ultimately talking about the entire world. ARDN is built on the fundamental principle that we are stronger together.

“Today, more than ever, it’s important that we remember and reflect on this. This planet earth is the only home we have, and we are one human family,” Dr Diallo further noted.

With over 35 years of experience at the UN, Dr. Diallo’s work for peace, sustainable development and protecting the most vulnerable has been recognized by numerous national and international organizations.

A steadfast supporter of youth, Dr. Diallo initiated the first-ever UN Youth Leadership Summit in 2006, bringing together youth leaders from 192 countries, with a vision toward gender parity in participation. He speaks twelve languages.

*Authority NIG

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