Nigerian billionaire Mike Adenuga is Africa’s biggest gainer in 2016.
Exactly half of Africa’s 20 billionaires got richer in 2016. The continent’s biggest gainer — in both dollar and percentage terms – is Nigerian oil and telecom tycoon Mike Adenuga, whose net worth increased $2.7 billion to $5.8 billion since December 31, 2015. No other African billionaire added more than $1 billion to his or her net worth in the past year. Overall, the combined net worths of African billionaires decreased $3.1 billion in 2016.
The increase in Adenuga’s net worth is largely due to new information FORBES obtained in 2016 about the value of his assets. Adenuga owns Nigerian telecom company Globacom and Nigerian oil company Conoil Producing. While Adenuga’s net worth has increased since the beginning of 2016, it has dropped significantly since March 2016, when FORBES valued his fortune at $10 billion on the 2016 Billionaires List. Since then, his net worth has dropped $4.2 billion, due to the devaluation of the Nigerian Naira and the country’s struggling oil sector. Adenuga was the only Nigerian billionaires whose net worth increased this year. (Aliko Dangote, the richest Nigerian and Africa’s richest man, saw his fortune drop nearly 28% to $12.4 billion over the course of 2016.)
South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe and Egyptian billionaires Nassef Sawiris and Naguib Sawiris were the next biggest gainers in Africa, each adding $500 million to their fortunes over the year. Motsepe was also Africa’s second biggest percentage gainer; his net worth increased by 32% in 2016, bringing his fortune to $1.5 billion. The stock price of Motsepe’s African RainbowARBJY +% Minerals has risen nearly 130% in the past year, following a steep decline in 2015.
Nassef Sawiris, the richest billionaire in Egypt with a fortune that FORBES pegs at $5.2 billion, runs one of the largest nitrogen fertilizer producers in the world, OCI, and also owns 7% of Adidas and nearly 5% of cement giant LafargeHolcim. While OCI stock is down 27% over the past year, Adidas stock is up 58% and LafargeHolcim is up 7%, leading to the bump in his net worth. Egyptian telecom billionaire Naguib Sawiris, who has a $3.5 billion fortune announced that he was stepping down as CEO of Orascom Telecom Media & Technology in December 2016.
Egypt and South Africa were the only African countries where more than half of the country’s billionaires got richer in 2016. In both, four out of seven billionaires added to their wealth in the past year. In Nigeria, meanwhile, only one of four billionaires got richer this year.
In total, the twelve African billionaires whose net worths increased this year added a combined $6.2 billion to their fortunes in 2016. The continent outperformed the overall FORBES World Billionaires List, where only 46% of billionaires saw their fortunes increase in 2016. The year’s biggest global gainer, American billionaire Warren Buffett, has a fortune that jumped almost twice that amount in 2016.
All net worth changes were measured between Dec. 31, 2015 and Dec. 23, 2016.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP) hosting the first meeting of the WIP Council on Economic Empowerment in Kenya
Nairobi, Kenya 20 December 2016 – The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP) convened female Parliamentarians from 12 African countries in Nairobi, Kenya, to share perspectives on strategies for female MPs to promote legal reforms which ensure that women’s property rights are included in all African legal frameworks. The meeting provided an occasion to discuss and address the current African property rights landscape with special attention given to the role of MPs in advancing property and inheritance laws for women across Africa.
The major recommendations from the meeting were, among others:
– Ensuring the Harmonization of laws and reviewing and repealing discriminatory laws, by working on amending, passing or repealing necessary laws. Lack of staffing was identified as a major constraints and MPs requested the support of the Bank to develop capacity building program on research; analysis and training on the content of current laws and the types of reforms that would be considered best practices;
– Funding legislation on women and agriculture at the regional and national level;
– Promotion of better data collection through relevant ministries and ensure that Governments collect systemic sex-disaggregated data, particularly related to land and property rights. The meeting underscored the need for the African Development Bank to support collection of gender specific data;
– Highlighting specific gender targets in Ministry of agriculture strategy;
– Financing entrepreneurship in Agriculture;
– Zimbabwe is establishing a women’s bank and wants AfDB’s support in making sure it is a success;
– MPs identified the need to mechanize agriculture so that women can do a better job of feeding their families and realizing better yields;
– Information sharing and sensitization;
– Access to Justice/Legal aid: When women’s rights are violated, they are too poor and don’t have the means to go through extended litigation. MPs should fight for legal aid provisions through the parliament. Other support networks of women lawyers should be explored and capacitated.
The Bank and WIP will carefully consider the points raised and identify that will inform an action plan that will be ready by January 2017. The outcome of the meeting in Nairobi will lead up to the discussion during the WIP Global Summit 2017. Members of the WIP Council on Economic Empowerment from all regions of the world are expected to attend this high-level Summit.
This event was the first meeting of the WIP Council on Economic Empowerment and brought together active female Parliamentarians from the WIP network in Africa, academia and other research institutions, government officials, business leaders and members of CSOs to discuss and provide innovative solutions to the challenges related to women’s property rights, in order to achieve women’s economic development. The purpose of the WIP Council is to address issues (legal and institutional), share best practices, stimulate dialogue, shape agendas, advocate and drive legislative reforms at the national and regional level. Council Members will meet annually at WIP Summits, targeted African Development Bank Annual Meetings as well as during targeted regional meetings.
Gabriel Negatu, Director General of the AfDB’s Eastern Africa Regional Center (EARC) provided welcoming remarks, highlighting that “Africa has witnessed significant progress on gender equality. Despite this progress, there are still areas such as the legal status and land and property rights, where more is yet to be done”. The AfDB believes that the continent’s long-term competitiveness depends on how well Africa empowers its women. In many African countries, however, unequal access to property, discriminatory laws including land and tenure rights, and discrimination in the labor market, and business-related obstacles hinder women from contributing even more to their countries’ growth and well-being. According to the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) of the OECD, which classifies countries around the world according to their level of discrimination, only 20% of all countries in the low discrimination category are African; while an overwhelming 82% are found in the very high discrimination category. We should also recognize that Africa is doing better in using the potential of women in politics with 16 of the 46 countries with 30 or more women in parliament being African, including apart from the world champion Rwanda, countries like Sudan (30%), Tunisia and Algeria (31%); Ethiopia (39%); Mozambique (40%) and Senegal (43%). The Bank is very active in moving the agenda of women’s economic empowerment and today, we will speak about some of the initiatives we have put in place to advance this agenda. We must take advantage of partnerships to ensure we remove these obstacles and invest in gender equality, hence the critical importance of partnering with MPs given their unique role in passing/advancing laws that ensure gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.
Florence Mutua, member of the Kenyan parliament pointed out that: ”We cannot talk about creating the necessary legislations and policies to grant women their rights without also discussing structures that empower women access to resources and more importantly, property. The unequal ratio of ownership between men and women contributes substantially to this condition. Lack of rights to tenure or ownership render many women unable to protect themselves, and this in turn prevent access to credit through lack of collateral, thus reinforcing the control that men traditionally have over the household and its dependents. These underlying issues are the main reason that we need laws that specifically speak to access to and ownership of property. In Africa, only a handful of countries including Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and more recently Kenya have laws that speak to women’s access to property. It took Kenya more than 50 years to come up with the Matrimonial Property law that gives women rights to property ownership in marriage, this even against the backdrop of one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world with regards to gender equality”.
The Special Envoy on Gender and Vice-President of the African Development Bank, Geraldine J Fraser Moleketi, explained that: It is widely acknowledged that property rights and inheritance laws directly impact women’s economic livelihoods. This is particularly true for women in agriculture, where land is a central asset for crop production, animal rearing, and other income generating activities. Secure land rights allow women to realize food security for themselves and their families, to leverage land assets as capital for forward looking investments, and to generate wealth. Strengthening women’s property and inheritance rights is critical to empowering their full economic and social potential. Lack of property ownership and asset control prevents women from realizing their full potential in the agricultural sector. Studies have shown that women’s rights over land are inferior to those of men. The strength of one’s property rights defines the incentives to invest time, energy, and other resources into any business venture. Absent land title or other assets, banks will not lend to female famers who seek to grow their agricultural business. As indicated in a study conducted by the Bank entitled: ‘Legal Frameworks and Women’s Voice and Agency in Africa’. The study suggests that 16 countries still create barriers to women’s access to financial services, be it in opening bank accounts, or applying for national identity cards; 17 countries still do not have legislation to protect women from domestic violence, leaving them vulnerable and restricting their voice and agency.
The Special Envoy incites Parliamentarians to be bolder as they have the responsibility and the ability to accomplish much for women in economic sectors (i.e. agriculture), through a variety of mechanisms. These mechanisms include: (1) review and repeal of discriminatory laws; (2) promotion of better data collection through relevant ministries; (3) insistence on specific gender targets; (4) financing entrepreneurship in agriculture; (5) information dissemination and legal aid.
The AfDB strongly believes in the critical role of Members of Parliament particularly in advocating for the legal reforms that will benefit women, including in their quest to access finance. The Bank is also working with a number of parliamentary networks such as WIP to ensure MPs receive the support required to tackle some of the identified challenges. The Special Envoy concludes by appealing to all the legislator to help Governments to push to push and reform discriminatory legislations and help effect legal and policy reforms for gender equality. Only when women are able to follow their dreams freely, Africa reach its full potential.
IGD President Mima Nedelcovych with leading African corporate leaders.
In the shrewd businessman that President elect Donald Trump is, the economic potentials and realities of good deals could be a silver lining for U. S Africa relations says Dr Mima S. Nedelcovych President and CEO of the Washington, DC based Initiative for Global Development-IGD.
With some of the world’s fastest growing economies, the African continent is an attractive investment destination and a Trump Administration may take a private sector led development approach and less aid, says Dr Mima who believes that the pick for Secretary of State may offer more clarity on the direction of US-Africa policy.
“Trump’s “America First” mantra is a wakeup call for African government leaders to negotiate better trade deals and focus on improving business environments for the private sector and growing their middle classes to bring greater economic prosperity in Africa,” Dr Mima said.
Based on recommendations from leading African business leaders from the IGD Frontier network, Mima says the Trump Administration and new Congress will be presented with a set of strategic policy recommendations in late January 2017. Expanding access to power, boosting trade and investment and transforming the agriculture sector are some of the key sectors that could shape US-Africa policy per the recommendations, said Dr Mima.
In a bid to change the narrative on doing business in Africa, Mima says the IGD is launching the Africa Rising Campaign to encourage greater trade and investment in the continent. According to Mima, the campaign will help to amplify the voice of Africa’s private sector leaders and use multimedia storytelling to highlight business and investment opportunities.
We start with the outcome of the last IGD Frontier 100 Forum in Washington, DC, how did the Forum go and what was the outcome?
The Frontier 100 Forum is an invitation-only biannual event that convenes the IGD Frontier Leader Network of CEOs and senior executives of African, U.S., European and South Asian companies operating in Africa.
More than 125 African and global corporate leaders and government officials gathered for the exclusive gathering in Washington on Oct. 5 and 6 to offer insight into and put forth action-oriented strategies on the forum theme, “Unleashing an Enabling Environment for Africa’s Private Sector to Achieve Inclusive Growth”.
For our Fall Frontier 100 Forum, IGD teamed up with the African Development Bank to mobilize Africa’s private sector in creating an enabling business environment to rally global support and action on achieving the AfDB’s bold agenda for Africa’s sustainable transformation called the “High 5s”.
We held engaging sessions with both U.S. and African business leaders and government officials, and representatives of the African Development Bank on the “High 5s”, including Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Integrate Africa; Industrialize Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
The Bank’s ‘High Fives’ offers the private sector in Africa an action driven blueprint for promoting sustainable development and inclusive growth on the continent. We’ll continue to build on our partnership with the AfDB on achieving the High 5s in 2017.
Our forums also look at some of the top trends and issues in Africa. We organized a half-day session on “Chinese Investment in Africa” where we had a balanced discussion on China’s role and impact on Africa’s private sector. Indeed, it generated lots of perspectives on the issue.
The Fall Forum also unveiled the Africa Investment Rising campaign, an exciting, new IGD communications and advocacy campaign aimed at changing the narrative on doing business in Africa.
The IGD recently launched the Africa Rising initiative, what is this all about and why such an initiative at this time?
Mima Nedelcovych, President & CEO Initiative for Global Development (IGD) with Akin Adesina, President Africa Development Bank (AfDB)
IGD is very excited about the launch of the Africa Investment Rising campaign. The campaign is aimed at changing the narrative on doing business in Africa to encourage greater trade and investment in Africa. The campaign seeks to amplify the voice of Africa’s private sector leaders and showcase business and investment opportunities through multimedia storytelling and strategic traditional and social media outreach. Given the continent’s growing middle class, the campaign will highlight the importance of “minding the middle” to strengthen local economies and build a strong middle class.
What does the IGD ultimately hope to see or achieve with such an initiative?
We hope to change the narrative on doing business in Africa by showing a thriving and dynamic African private sector. Africa’s private sector creates 80 percent of the jobs on the continent. The campaign will raise awareness about the role of African companies in fueling job creation and sustainable and inclusive growth in Africa.
When you look around and see the strong and growing Chinese economic presence in Africa, do you think U.S companies made a mistake in ignoring the African market, and what can they do to make up for lost time?
It’s never too late to invest in Africa. Indeed, we have a lot of work to do in helping more American companies realize the tremendous business and investment potential in Africa. That is why we launched the Africa Investment Rising campaign to showcase the business opportunities on the continent. The African Diaspora in the US can also play a critical role by investing in their home country markets and in encouraging US investors to look into the opportunities to invest in Africa.
As President Obama leaves Office, what kind of legacy will you say he is leaving behind for US-African relations, how much did he do to raise the bar?
I think President Obama has done a good job in promoting greater trade, investment, and development in Africa. He’s leaving behind a legacy of renewing the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and launching the Power Africa initiative to expand electricity across Africa and the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) to support emerging African leaders. The Obama Administration hosted the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington and the US-Africa Business Summit in New York.
We are fortunate that U.S-Africa policy issues often garner support from elected officials from both Democrats and Republicans. We expect that will continue under the Trump Administration.
The Trump Administration will be coming in January and people are clueless on what to expect, you seem to be one of the people who sees a silver lining for US-Africa relations, can you tell us why you are optimistic?
Unfortunately, Africa was not a topic that came up during the presidential campaign. So, we’re not clear on the direction or foreign policy goals of a Trump Administration. What we do know is that President-elect Trump is a shrewd businessman who is looking for good deals. The silver lining is that the Administration will discover a rapidly changing Africa where there will be lots of good deals to be made.
With some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, the African continent is an attractive investment destination for emerging markets investors. African investments are offering impressive returns. In fact, African stock markets have grown steadily by 9 percent annually. A Trump Administration’s US-Africa policy will likely take a private sector led development approach, with a concerted focus on trade and investment and less on aid. We’ll have to see who he names as Secretary of State to determine the direction of US-Africa policy.
Trump’s “America First” mantra is a wake up call for African government leaders to negotiate better trade deals and focus on improving business environments for the private sector and growing their middle classes to bring greater economic prosperity in Africa. The American private sector will in turn find good opportunities in making deals with the rising African business class.
If that Administration came to you for advice on how to frame its African policy, what will your recommendations be to them?
African Business Leaders at the recent IGD Frontier 100 Forum in Washington,DC
IGD will be presenting the Trump Administration and new Congress in late-January with a set of strategic policy recommendations to influence and shape U.S.-Africa policy on three key issues: (1) expanding access to power, without which you cannot industrialize; (2) boosting trade and investment, without which you cannot have sustainable growth; and (3) transforming the agriculture sector in Africa from a vocation into a business. The recommendations will be from leading African business leaders from IGD’s Frontier Leader Network. The role of the private sector and the political will to enable Africa’s economies to grow sustainably will clearly be front and center. We’ll share the specific recommendations with your audience in January.
Can Dr Mima tell us a bit about his background and interest in Africa, what makes you passionate about that part of the world when to many Americans it barely exists?
Dr. Mima Nedelcovych, IGD President and CEO
Africa is very close to my heart. I was born in Serbia, but I spent my first 10 years in Ethiopia. I’ve focused on private sector development in Africa throughout my professional career. I served in the Administration of President George Bush from 1989 to 1993 as the U.S. Executive Director to the African Development Bank (AfDB). While serving at the AfDB, I was instrumental in developing the “private sector initiative” at the AfDB, the African Business Roundtable and the African Export-Import Bank.
In my independent consulting practice, I focused on trade facilitation, project development, project finance, and public-private partnerships in Africa. As Partner and Chairman of the Schaffer Group we developed some major agro-industrial projects on the continent over the last 20+ years.
For nearly three years, I have now served as the President and CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD). IGD is a network of African and global business leaders who are committed to sustainable development and inclusive growth through business investment in Africa.
Africa has always had a vibrant private commercial sector, but what was lacking was African “born and bred” industries and service providers that add value to the abundant raw materials, and now labor pool on the continent. I have personally witnessed and participated in that transformation. Africa’s private sector leaders have certainly attained a high level of maturity and effectiveness. Now, the question is which political leaders will achieve those same heights.
What are some other African themed projects that the IGD plans to work on in the coming year?
The roll out of the Africa Investment Rising campaign will be our focus in 2017. We’re delighted that Pan African Visions is coming on board as a media partner and will be sharing the dynamic campaign content with your audience.
The Spring Frontier 100 Forum will be held on May 5 and 6 in Durban, South Africa. Every year, some 10-12 million young people are expected to enter the labor market in Africa. The forum will draw attention to how the private sector can be an agent of change in responding to Africa’s youth employment challenge and ensuring that young people are effectively equipped with the skills, knowledge and know-how for today’s jobs.
The vaccine is only partially effective and needs to be given in a four-dose schedule, but is the first approved shot against the mosquito-borne disease.
By Kate Kelland*
LONDON, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Funding for phase one of pilot deployments of the world’s first malaria vaccine in sub-Saharan Africa has been secured and immunisation campaigns will begin in 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
The vaccine, known as RTS,S or Mosquirix and developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, is only partially effective and needs to be given in a four-dose schedule, but is the first approved shot against the mosquito-borne disease.
The WHO said last year that while RTS,S was promising, it should be deployed only on a pilot basis before any wide-scale use, given its limited efficacy.
Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme, said on Thursday that securing funding and being able to trial the vaccine in Africa pilots would be a milestone in the fight against malaria.
“These pilot projects will provide the evidence we need from real-life settings to make informed decisions on whether to deploy the vaccine on a wide scale,” he said.
The go-ahead comes after the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Thursday approved $15 million for the malaria vaccine pilots, assuring full funding for the first phase of the programme.
Earlier this year, the GAVI Vaccine Alliance and UNITAID announced commitments of up to $27.5 million and $9.6 million respectively for the first four years of the programme.
Malaria infects around 200 million people a year worldwide and killed an estimated 440,000 in 2015. The vast majority of malaria deaths are among babies in sub-Saharan Africa.
RTS,S was developed by GSK in partnership with the non-profit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and part-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
If there’s one thing everyone—big investors, economists, political analysts, small and large businesses, even ordinary families—has in common, it is a fear of uncertainty. It’s one of many overwhelming feelings after the election of Donald Trump to be president of the United States.
The response was almost as emotional in Africa as it was in the US. Those watching from the continent were shocked and disappointed in the US. In a break from diplomatic niceties, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, described Hillary Clinton’s loss as “extremely” sad. Africa’s first Nobel laureate for literature Wole Soyinka said he will make good on his promise to rip up his US green card.
When it comes to Africa, that uncertainty is justified. The inward-looking, isolationist Trump campaign barely touched on Africa at all. There’s genuine concern that Africa could metaphorically drop off the map in a Trump presidency. That prospect is a genuine dark cloud, but we can also find some silver linings.
On the negative side, African trade with the US will likely suffer. Young Africans with hopes of moving to the US for study or work are in little doubt that they’ll be a lot less welcome. More immediately, others worry that the continent’s more repressive leaders will feel emboldened. Some of the earliest congratulations for Trump came from some of Africa’s strongmen and populist leaders.
Despite all this, it’s worth remembering uncertainty isn’t all just about downside. Less trade with the US could force African countries to put more effort into developing stronger trade links with each other. Intra-Africa trade is still a small share of trade for many African countries. And young Africans dissuaded from moving to the US comes with one potential advantage: decades of brain drain can be stalled and Africa’s brightest can focus on problems at home.
The unpredictability of a Trump presidency will create new types of opportunities for Africa and Africans. We may not know what they are yet, but we won’t know if we’re not looking.
IGD President Mima Nedelcovych with leading African corporate leaders.
Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as U.S president in January 2017. So, what does this mean for the private sector in Africa?
Throughout the campaign, President-elect Trump focused largely on rebuilding America and rarely, if ever, shed light on his positions on U.S. policy towards Africa. In his first major foreign policy speech in April 2016, however, he pointedly stated that any foreign policy will put American interests first.
One thing we know for sure is that Donald Trump is a shrewd businessman and will be looking for where he can find the best deals. The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a network of CEOs and senior executives of sector-leading African, U.S. and global companies operating in Africa. Our Frontier Leaders know and understand the mindset of a fellow business leader. This could be a tremendous opportunity for Africa’s private sector.
When Trump enters office in 2017, he will discover a rapidly changing Africa. The rising influence of homegrown African businesses in the global economy reflects the changing realities on the ground. African businesses have emerged as the drivers of growth on the continent, creating more than 80 percent of jobs in their countries. Even in years of generally depressed commodity prices, Africa is still home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies with an expanding middle class. Some 26 of Africa’s 54 countries have achieved middle-income status within a short period of time.
This rapid progress and growth will certainly ignite greater U.S. interest in Africa as a trading and investment destination. We know all African economies are not growing at the same speed, at the same time. Indeed, while some African countries have recently experienced a slowing of their economies and fluctuations in commodities prices, others with diversified economies are holding their own. Overall, African economies are resilient.
We’ll probably see one of the most visible changes at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. government agency that delivers economic, development and humanitarian assistance worldwide. President-elect Trump has clearly stated that the U.S. will get out of the “nation-building business”. USAID will likely take on a “trade, not aid” and private sector-led development approach in earnest.
The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the U.S.-Africa trade law provides eligible countries an opportunity to expand their exports to the U.S. market. Since 2000, trade flows from Africa to the U.S. have nearly tripled, helping to spur market-led economic growth and development progress in Africa.
Given Trump’s stance on limiting free trade, the status of renegotiating and expanding AGOA to additional countries is unclear. But with an “America first” approach, a Trump Administration may put in place protectionist trade policies that would curtail foreign exports into the U.S. market, yet make it easier for American companies to export to African countries and invest in African companies for mutual interest.
Africa’s widening middle class now has the spending power and a rising demand for U.S. products. The McKinsey Global Institute report, Lions on the move II: Realizing the potential of Africa’s economies, revealed that consumer spending by African households and businesses totals $4 trillion annually. Wake up, U.S. companies, that number is nothing to sneeze at!
Trump’s mantra throughout his campaign focused on “minding your own people”. In negotiating trade deals, it will be even more incumbent upon African government leaders to ensure that trade deals benefit their own countries and help to grow their own “middles”.
Folks, it’s a wake up call. The lack of political will by African political leaders should be relegated to the bygone years. As engines of growth, African entrepreneurs and companies need their governments to improve regulatory environments, build an educated and skilled workforce, and expand access to finance to give small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) an opportunity to flourish and be about the business of creating jobs and bringing economic prosperity in Africa.
Through IGD’s Africa Investment Rising campaign, a new communications and advocacy effort, we aim to change the narrative on doing business on the continent by showcasing Africa’s tremendous business and economic potential. IGD will also present the Trump Administration and new Congress with a set of strategic policy recommendations to influence and shape U.S.-Africa policy on three key issues: (1) expanding access to power; (2) boosting trade and investment; and (3) transforming the agriculture sector in Africa.
That time has come to mind the middle. The time has come to “make Africa great”.
FILE – Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vice-president of Equatorial Guinea, speaks during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 30, 2015.
Equatorial Guinea on Monday called on the United Nations’ highest court to urgently order France to halt a criminal case against the son of the African nation’s leader on charges of misspending millions of euros of public funds, arguing that he is immune from prosecution.
The hearing at the International Court of Justice comes a week before Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, Equatorial Guinea’s vice president, is scheduled to appear before a French court to answer the charges. He is accused of acquiring real estate, luxury cars, art and other goods in France with public funds from his country.
“The immunity of a person holding high-ranking office in Equatorial Guinea has been ignored and — worse still — the charges against the vice president have reached the final phase of the proceedings,” lawyer Maurice Kamto told the world court. “He is open to the risk of judgment and conviction at any time.”
The French case is part of a long-running corruption probe targeting the acquisition of properties in France by the leaders of Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Republic of Congo, alleging that they used public funds to enrich themselves.
The hearings Monday also focused on a property on Paris’ swanky Avenue Foch which Equatorial Guinea argues is its embassy but faces the possibility of being confiscated and sold as part of the French prosecution, a move that Kamto said would infringe “the sovereignty, honor and dignity of Equatorial Guinea.”
Equatorial Guinea filed a case with the world court earlier this year arguing that France breached international law by ignoring Obiang’s immunity and the diplomatic immunity of the Avenue Foch property. It is now requesting urgent action to halt the Paris trial while the world court case continues.
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the vice president of Equatorial Guinea and son of the president, cuts his birthday cake in 2010. The Justice Department says he went on a $100 million shopping spree in the U.S. with money stolen from his homeland. Some $30 million was recovered. AFP/Getty Images
When foreign leaders loot their homelands, they sometimes like to stash their valuables in the U.S. Yachts, mansions and artwork have all been purchased in America with laundered money, according the the U.S. Justice Department.
It happens often enough that the department has set up a special unit dedicated to tracking down international kleptocrats.
Some foreign rulers should get points just for pure audacity: Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s authoritarian ruler from 1993 until his death in 1998, viewed his country’s coffers as his own private ATM, says Stuart Gilman, who helped track down stolen assets for the United Nations and the World Bank.
“He would literally take suitcases full of money from the national bank and bring it to London and Switzerland and other places,” Gilman says.
The Justice Department sought to recover $625 million from Abacha, and seized $458 million. Abacha’s family is appealing the case.
Then there’s Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the vice president of Equatorial Guinea and son of longtime President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. According to the Justice Department, the son went on a $100 million shopping spree in the U.S.
The U.S. government went after the younger Obiang’s assets in 2011, including a hilltop mansion in Malibu, Calif., expensive sports cars and Michael Jackson memorabilia. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell says the memorabilia included a white glove encrusted with crystals that Jackson used on tour in the 1980s.
“In fact, I think the case was titled United States vs. One White Michael Jackson Tour Glove,” she says.
The Justice Department was seeking $70 million and recovered $30 million in the Obiang case.
Two dozen cases
The special unit at the Justice Department, the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, has pursued some two dozen cases involving dictators, corrupt foreign officials and royalty.
The unit, filled with criminal investigators, prosecutors and corruption squads from across a number of federal agencies, was created about six years ago. Caldwell says its mandate is to prevent illegal money flowing through the U.S. financial system
“Essentially that dirty money really hurts our financial system and hurts our markets,” she says. “If you’re spending $30 million or $50 million in cash to buy an apartment in New York, it skews the market.”
Jack Blum, a Washington lawyer who has worked on asset recovery cases for the United Nations, says a favorite place for corrupt foreign leaders to stash their stolen money is U.S. real estate, where identities can be easily hidden using shell companies.
“You have to be pretty dumb, if you’re a crook, to buy an apartment in New York and hang a sign on it that says, ‘I’m a Russian oligarch who stole X, Y and Z money,'” he says.
Shell companies figure prominently in the biggest case to date for the Kleptocracy Initiative. It involves the alleged theft of $3.5 billion from the sovereign wealth fund in Malaysia, called the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB.
Financing a hit movie
According to court papers, $1 billion in stolen money was spent in the U.S. on the purchase of luxury hotels and homes, executive jets, at gambling casinos, and to help finance the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
DiCaprio thanked the team behind the film’s financing when he picked up his 2014 award for best actor at the Golden Globes. There are no allegations DiCaprio did anything wrong, but the case implicates Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, who denies all allegations of wrongdoing.
Gilman says seizing assets from a foreign leader — and Razak is still in power — can create a diplomatic nightmare, but he says that can’t impact the case.
“The prime minister is not going to live forever. And when he’s out of office and all this money is discovered in the U.S., are we better off having been pro-active or basically wait until the prime minister dies and apologize?” he says.
It’s one thing to seize the stolen assets, another to retain them. The accused in all these cases employs a raft of lawyers, and it’s often difficult to find witnesses and gather evidence overseas. For that reason, the Justice Department focus is on civil forfeitures, or trying to get the assets back, rather than prosecutions.
Any money from the seized assets is sent back to the country to which it belongs.
No one has been prosecuted so far, but Caldwell says there is a criminal investigation in the 1MDB case that could lead to a prosecution.
So far the Kleptocracy Initiative has recovered about 10 percent of the assets it has gone after. And that white Michael Jackson glove? It’s back in Equatorial Guinea.
Still, Caldwell says the unit has been successful, for a relatively new initiative.
“I don’t think the success of the Kleptocracy Initiative should necessarily be measured by the dollar amounts that we recover. I think it should be measured by the fact that we’re doing it at all,” she says.
The 1MDB case will be the big test, says lawyer Blum.
“It’s a big challenge, because the money is so big and the consequences are so huge, they can’t simply walk away and say it didn’t happen,” he says.
African leaders are set to meet in Nairobi, Kenya at the African Green Revolution (AGRF) forum to be held on September 5 to 9 with an ambition of transforming agriculture into an engine for inclusive socio-economic growth and development.
According to a statement released by Waiganjo Njoroge, AGRA, Global Media Lead, the historic gathering will include hundreds of influential leaders and CEOs and is also expected to award the newly established Africa Food prize.
Njoroge adds that the sixth African Green Revolution forum or AGRF 2016 is Africa’s largest agricultural event.
“This year’s forum arrives at a time when an unprecedented number of leaders in both African and donor countries are signalling that agriculture development is essential to Africa’s long term economic growth,” Njoroge said.
It is also reported that the emergence of agriculture as the sector that will determine Africa’s future is reflected in the theme of the 2016 forum titled: Seize the moment: Africa rising through agricultural transformation.
Organisers say that the forum will feature a strong slate of influential leaders and CEOs from the public and private sector.
They add that a major highlight of the forum will be the inaugural award of the new Africa Food prize which was created to call attention to individuals and institutions that are inspiring and driving agriculture innovations that can be replicated throughout Africa.
Also the landmark annual African Agriculture Status Report, which this year will chronicle agricultural progress on the continent over the last decade and suggest strategies towards accelerated economic growth and development through agricultural transformation will also be launched.
Over 1000 leaders from politics, business and civil society from across Africa and beyond are expected to grace the event.
Some of the key speakers at the forum will include President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, Strive Masiyiwa, Chair and Founder of Econet Wireless who is also Board Chair of the AGRA, just to mention a few.
File Picture:U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) watches as South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma speaks during a photo call after a brief meeting in Durban, August 8, 2009
Hillary Clinton views Africa not just as a place with challenges to address but also opportunities says Jake Sullivan, Senior Policy Advisor for Hillary for America. Speaking at the Foreign Policy Center briefing center at the Democratic Convention, Sullivan said to Hillary Clinton, Africa is not just made up of countries which need development aid and assistance but also partners who can work with the USA in addressing a range of global issues.
Issues of governance, corruption, and democratic development have been central to Secretary Clinton’s policy towards Africa and will continue to be, said Jake Sullivan in response to a question from Ben Bangoura of Allo Conakry.com on what Africa should expect a Clinton Administration.
The policy will be in the mold of the work the democratic flag bearer did as first lady and later Secretary of State, Sullivan said. From her multiple trips to the continent, Hillary Clinton has shown commitment to pillars like fostering economic growth, peace keeping, security, human rights, and democratic development said Sullivan.
“She is fond of reminding us on her team many of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are African economies. How we think about where the future growth is going to come from in the world is bound up in how we approach our policy towards Africa,” Sullivan said.
In contrast to the recent Republican Convention in Ohio, the Democratic Convention seems to have more African faces present. Executive Women for Hillary ,a powerful coalition of executive, entrepreneur and professional women backing Mrs. Clinton has two African diaspora leaders Sarian Bouma and Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa as State Co-Chairs for the DMV area.
“I feel deeply and proudly a true son of Africa after receiving this passport,” said Déby. Dlamini-Zuma said that the body had been “overwhelmed” with requests for the passport since its launch was announced in January and that other heads of state would be issued with the document over the course of the summit, which concludes Monday.
Dlamini-Zuma also urged heads of states in Africa to create their own protocols for introducing the pan-African passport to their citizens “as and when they are ready.”
The document will initially only be available to politicians and diplomats. Images of the passport show inscriptions in five languages—English, French, Arabic, Portuguese and Swahili—and the AU claims that the document has “high security features,” although it is not clear what these are.
The AU outlined in 2013 the introduction of a African passport in its Agenda 2063 document, which lays out the conditions for development of the continent over the next five decades. Fifty-four African countries are members of the AU—the only non-member is Morocco, which left a precursor organization in 1984 due to a dispute over Western Sahara, a territory contested by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.
The continent already contains several regional blocs, with different levels of freedom of movement. For example, residents of countries in the Economic Community of West African States—a bloc of 15 nations including Nigeria and Ghana—can move freely between member states without having to obtain visas, or obtaining visas upon arrival. Ghana recently instituted a visa-upon-arrival schemefor all AU residents after President John Dramani Mahama announced the policy in February, saying it would stimulate trade and tourism.