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President Obiang Asks for Greater Investment in Agricultural Sector
June 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

Equatorial Guinea’s President, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Equatorial Guinea’s President, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon[/caption] President, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (http://equatorialguineainfo.blogspot.com), asked African countries to invest heavily in their agricultural sector to decrease their dependence on the developed world, ensure food security, and significantly reduce hunger in their countries. He made his remarks at the closing session of the Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union (AU). President Obiang said that Africa should reorient itself to ensure its independence and security of African states through the safe production of its own consumer goods. “Africa cannot be content to continue with the current dependence on the economies of the developed world. Africa is sailing upstream against a dependency that prevents them from moving toward sustainable development. Africa should rethink its relationship with the developed world to reduce as far as possible the gap that prevents access to development,” said Obiang. “The development of agriculture can greatly reduce this dependence,” he said. “Africa can ensure food security and significantly reduce hunger in our countries. Africa should heavily invest in agricultural development to transform itself in order to accelerate growth to increase production and productivity,” said Obiang. President Obiang proposed to the African Union the establishment of a program that focuses on the organization and exploitation of markets to promote trade and food security and to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty. This will also reinforce the fight against climate change and agriculture. He said that Equatorial Guinea is already investing in its agricultural sector. “As part of our diversification plan, Equatorial Guinea currently focuses on [agricultural] production to achieve these goals. It is imperative to ensure the security and stability of our states, since agriculture is the most vulnerable sector in times of instability, war and terrorism.” said Obiang “It’s no coincidence that this session focuses on the issue of agriculture and food security in Africa. We cannot talk about the development of Africa if there is no agricultural development to ensure food security and avoid lifelong dependence on imports of consumer products.” He noted that Africa counts on the support of organizations focused on agriculture and ways to improve the sector, and urged continued support for those organizations. “The African Union must recognize and financially support the structures of non-governmental organizations, businesses and institutions created in Africa to support agriculture, such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).” Obiang linked democratic and economic development. “Africa must contribute to a democratic development aimed at achieving economic development of society and the welfare of its citizens. It must be a democracy that seeks conflict reduction, he said.” Obiang also urged his fellow Africans to prioritize South-South cooperation, a cooperation that respects the principles of equality. “The last decade has marked considerable advancements of the African states. Many of them aspire to economic emergence in the near future. Nonetheless, the continent continues to be a victim of endemic diseases and insecurity that require a unified solution of the states.” Obiang said it was a great honor for Equatorial Guinea to host the 23rd African Union Summit at “a moment that is crucial for the world nations as they struggle to find solutions to economic crises, security, hunger and poverty, and climate change that affect the world.” He said,  “The participation of the heads of state and numerous guests in this summit shows the interest and commitment that Africa and its partners have to find solutions to current issues.” A session on agriculture and food security under the slogan “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture, for Shared Prosperity and Improved livelihoods, through Harnessing Opportunities” was held in the afternoon.  ]]>

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E.Guinea president urges African leaders to shake up ties with West
June 30, 2014 | 1 Comments

Daniel Flynn* images (4)The president of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea lambasted foreign interference in Africa on Thursday, calling on the continent’s leaders to shake up their relationship with the West. Teodoro Obiang Nguema, hosting a two-day summit of the 54-nation African Union, urged leaders to put an end to economic dependence on Western nations since independence, saying this was holding back the continent from sustainable development. The 72-year-old president, who is Africa’s longest serving head of state after overthrowing his uncle in a 1979 coup, has overseen an economic boom in the tiny Central African nation since offshore oil was discovered in the mid-1990s. The former Spanish colony, with a population of less than 800,000 people, is Africa’s No. 3 energy producer behind Nigeria and Angola, hosting a slew of oil companies including Marathon Oil and ExxonMobil. Thanks to the oil boom, Equatorial Guinea boasts the highest GDP per capita in Africa but international aid agencies and rights groups say this masks a high wealth gap between the ruling elite and the country’s poor majority. “Times have changed. Africa has more than 50 years of independence submitted to a neo-colonial system which perpetuates the old colonial one,” Obiang told the continent’s leaders at the summit’s opening ceremony. “Africa should renegotiate relations with developed world.” Speaking in front of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Obiang cited the pricing of natural resources and the “barriers to international trade” as examples of Western domination of Africa. He also criticised the exchange rate of the CFA franc used by 14 countries in West and Central Africa, including Equatorial Guinea, as being fixed too low against the euro. Equatorial Guinea ranked 136 out of 187 states on the U.N.’s 2013 Human Development Index. Obiang’s eldest son Teodorin, a vice-president and potential successor, has faced corruption and money-laundering investigations in the United States and France. This year, Obiang has declared his country open for more business outside of oil and gas, widened its alliances by joining a global community of Portuguese-speaking states, and offered a political dialogue to domestic and exiled opponents. Towering new offices and residential blocks – often built by Chinese or Arab construction firms – are springing up around the verdant island capital Malabo, though many citizens still live in tin-roofed homes. “Africa is engaged in a process of democratic progress which is irreversible and adjusted to African realities, and it should not allow foreign meddling,” he said. Obiang has pointed in the past to a botched 2004 coup attempt by former British Special Forces officer Simon Mann – with financial backing from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s son Mark – as evidence that foreign powers want to control his oil-rich nation. To applause from fellow heads of state, including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Obiang called for an overhaul of the United Nations system “so that it no longer serves as a support for some countries to legalise their agenda of meddling”. He also criticised the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for facilitating “the monopolies of the world economy”. Speaking before Obiang, Rajoy said that Spain’s trade with Africa had more than doubled over the past 10 years. “Every year we buy African products totalling over 28 billion euros, almost twice as much as we export to the continent,” the Spanish prime minister said. “The more prosperous Africa, is the more prosperous Spain will be.” *Source Reuters]]>

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Rwanda: African Leaders Back Creation of Eastern African Standby Force
June 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

East-Africa-LeadersAfrican Heads of State and government have supported the creation of a well-equipped standby force to help in tackling security challenges in the region. The leaders meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, said Africa required a deployable standby force to combat new security challenges. President Paul Kagame chaired the 3rd extraordinary meeting of the Eastern African Standby Force Assembly. Meant to enhance security in the Eastern Africa region, the East African Standby Force will be composed of military, police and civilians serving as regional mechanism to ensure rapid preventive and intervention deployment for peace and stability in the region. Opening the session, President Kagame reiterated the need for the region to work together to solve common security challenges on the continent. The meeting was attended by Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Ikililou Dhoinine of Comoros and Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto. Others were Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia, First Vice-President Bakry Hassan Salih of Sudan, Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf of Djibouti and Minister Jean Paul Adam of Seychelles. President Museveni stressed the importance of investing in peace, adding that the high financial cost of ensuring peace remains far less than the price people continue to pay for insecurity. All member states of the Eastern African Standby Force committed to deploying all means to ensure the full operational capacity of the force by December 2015. Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda pledged one battalion each with Rwanda pledging to provide medical personnel. Conceptualisation: Mooted in 2005, the East African Standby Force will be composed of 10 member states, including Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda with South Sudan scheduled to join the force. The East African Standby Force will work to contribute to regional and continental peace through a regional conflict prevention, management and resolution capability able to respond effectively to crisis within Eastern Africa and across the African continent. As one of the five regional multidimensional Forces of the African Standby Force, the Eastern African Standby Force will form an integral part of the Peace and Security Council and as part of the African Peace and Security Architecture. Meanwhile, during his second day in Malabo, President Kagame also attended the opening ceremony of the African Union Summit where members discussed the summit’s theme of transforming Africa’s agriculture for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods through harnessing opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development. *allafrica]]>

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Goodluck Jonathan: Nothing is more important than bringing home Nigeria’s missing girls
June 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

BY GOODLUCK JONATHAN*

president_goodluck_jonathan_1__283791306I have had to remain quiet about the continuing efforts by Nigeria’s military, police and investigators to find the girls kidnapped in April from the town of Chibok by the terrorist group Boko Haram. I am deeply concerned, however, that my silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness.

My silence has been necessary to avoid compromising the details of our investigation. But let me state this unequivocally: My government and our security and intelligence services have spared no resources, have not stopped and will not stop until the girls are returned home and the thugs who took them are brought to justice. On my orders, our forces have aggressively sought these killers in the forests of northern Borno state, where they are based. They are fully committed to defending the integrity of their country.

My heart aches for the missing children and their families. I am a parent myself, and I know how awfully this must hurt. Nothing is more important to me than finding and rescuing our girls.

Since 2010, thousands of people have been killed, injured, abducted or forced by Boko Haram, which seeks to overwhelm the country and impose its ideology on all Nigerians. My government is determined to make that impossible. We will not succumb to the will of terrorists.

The abduction of our children cannot be seen as an isolated event. Terrorism knows no borders. This month, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Britain and the United States established an External Intelligence Response Unit to share security information on such threats in West Africa. I propose that we build on this step to establish an enduring, worldwide commitment to destroying terrorism and those who finance or give safe haven to the terrorists.

In September, I will urge the U.N. General Assembly to establish a U.N.-coordinated system for sharing intelligence and, if necessary, special forces and law enforcement to confront terrorism wherever it occurs.

Chibok-girls-500x255In Nigeria, there are political, religious and ethnic cleavages to overcome if we are to defeat Boko Haram. We need greater understanding and outreach between Muslims and Christians. We also know that, as it seeks to recruit the gullible, Boko Haram exploits the economic disparities that remain a problem in our country. We are addressing these challenges through such steps as bringing stakeholders together and creating a safe schools initiative, a victims’ support fund and a presidential economic recovery program for northeastern Nigeria. We are also committed to ridding our country of corruption and safeguarding human and civil rights and the rule of law.

Something positive can come out of the situation in Nigeria: most important, the return of the Chibok girls, but also new international cooperation to deny havens to terrorists and destroy their organizations wherever they are — whether in the forests of Nigeria, on the streets of New York or sanctuaries in Iraq or Pakistan. Those who value humanity , civilization and the innocence of children can do no less.

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Africa Rising'? Not really, unless we invest more in girls
June 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf* [caption id="attachment_9978" align="alignleft" width="640"]Children pose in a classroom at the Friendship Primary school in Zinder, Niger, on June 1, 2012 Children pose in a classroom at the Friendship Primary school in Zinder, Niger, on June 1, 2012[/caption] What factor has the power to transform individual lives, communities, nations and the world? The answer to this complex question is a simple one: education. While it is widely accepted that there is no one solution to lift the millions across our globe out of poverty, it is also equally accepted that a key cornerstone of addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges is through providing a quality education to all children, especially girls. Despite increasing numbers attending school in recent years, 126 million children remain out of primary school and lower secondary school around the world. Some 65 million of these children are girls. The highest rate of girls not in school is across the African continent, where in sub-Saharan Africa nearly four out of five poor rural girls are not completing primary school. There are an estimated 250 million children worldwide of primary school age who can’t read, write or do basic math — more than half of whom have completed four years of schooling. It is unacceptable that in 2014 — less than a year away from the deadline the international community agreed to get all children into school — that 30 million girls in Africa are denied their basic human right to a quality education. Ensuring that every child goes to school, stays in school and learns something of value while there will require firm commitments and action by governments to invest in education and prioritize the education of its girls. Africa’s economy has grown at more than 5% annually over the past decade — some of the highest economic growth in the world — leading many to use the phrase of “Africa Rising” when describing its countries. However, a country’s economic growth does not always lead to development or improvement for its poorest citizens. To truly rise as a nation by building an equitable, sustainable and peaceful society, governments must ensure that spending on education is prioritized and used well. According to recent research, the estimated economic gain from achieving universal primary education exceeds the estimated increase in public spending required to achieve it. One extra year of schooling can increase an individual’s earnings by 10%. Girls who complete a primary education are likely to increase their earnings by 5 to 15% over their lifetimes. Each additional year of schooling could raise average annual gross domestic product growth by 0.37%. If all women had a primary education, child marriages and child mortality could fall by a sixth, and maternal deaths by two-thirds. Investing in girls’ education could boost sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural output by up to 25%. Some countries lose more than $1 billion a year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys. Without education, how can a country’s future citizens take part in growing their economy and reap benefits? Without education how can a country grow? It is however, not good enough to only increase the number of children receiving education. Children and young people must learn basic knowledge, skills and competencies, such as reading, writing, critical thinking, problem solving and math, that are needed to live healthy, safe and productive lives. In Liberia, across the African continent and, indeed, around the world, it is becoming increasingly apparent that going to school is not the same as learning. This is of grave concern given that many of the social and economic returns from an education are found to come from learning outcomes rather than number of years in school. To accomplish this, more financial resources that are better spent are needed to build a strong education system capable of improving both access and learning for all. But making informed decisions about those resources requires good data. Information on teachers, how to best support them to do their jobs, and information on how students are learning are crucial for knowing what policies and programs will be effective. By using our resources more effectively and focusing them on those children that are currently left behind, we can have some of the best educated citizens in the world — citizens who will be responsible for building a peaceful and prosperous future. At current rates, the poorest girls in sub-Saharan Africa will only achieve universal primary completion in 2086. To not invest in and prioritize girls’ education, we as African leaders are telling our women that we do not care about you and your child’s future. As one of those women, I will not accept this and I urge all our leaders to invest in our children’s future. Investing in girls’ education is not only a moral imperative, it is a smart investment. [caption id="attachment_9986" align="alignright" width="277"]President Ellen Johnson President Ellen Johnson[/caption] On the 16th of June, the Day of the African Child, young people from across Africa will stand at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, and across Africa, to call on their governments to dedicate more resources — the recommended 20% of national budgets — to education and develop strong and transparent monitoring systems to track effectiveness and impact. Better information on learning outcomes and public spending is key to achieving our goals. These young people want a brighter reality and they demand that their governments stand up to meet their responsibilities and commitments, in order to build a future for their children, a future for their country. When nearly 60 developing countries come together in Brussels at the end of June, as part of the Global Partnership for Education, they will be asked to commit to increase education spending. If they do, we will know if they have listened to these young people, and then the phrase, “Africa Rising,” can be used in all truthfulness. *Source CNN]]>

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Africa has always had the attributes to rise, so why has it fallen short?
June 6, 2014 | 1 Comments

By Paul Kagame*

kagame+pixWithout a doubt, Africa has made progress over the past half century.

For most of our countries, the road has been uneven so that we have sometimes stumbled or stalled. But we have forged ahead.

Across the continent, there is a renewed sense of optimism that gives meaning to the now familiar Africa Rising phrase.

Evidence points to sustained economic growth for the coming decades. This upward curve is the result of deliberate action by African countries.

Throughout the continent, we are starting to see the positive effects of improved governance and better integration into the global economy thanks to different technologies, among them ICT. We also have opportunities in a growing middle class and a youth bulge.

Africa is one of the few places in the world that has a lot of room to grow — more businesses are taking notice globally.

But Africa has always had the attributes necessary to rise. So why have we fallen short?

Long spells of instability in parts of Africa, high energy and transport costs, fragmented and non-integrated economies, and a high dependency on primary commodities are just some of the well-known obstacles.

Over the past two decades, many African countries have worked to resolve major problems and begun to lay the foundations for future prosperity.

Take the example of instability. A number of difficult situations around the continent today remind us that progress can always be reversed. We also have to be reminded that together we rise and together we may fall.

We are responsible for ourselves. But we are also, to some extent, responsible for each other.

Instability in any part of Africa affects us all. That is why we have seen increased engagement by African leaders, the African Union, and regional organisations in peace and security matters on the continent.

Further progress depends on Africa’s ability to work together and with other partners on meaningful mechanisms to resolve conflicts.

It also calls for continued strengthening of our respective internal systems to prevent conflicts in the first place.

We cannot afford to sit back and take the future of our continent for granted. Yes, Africa is rising. But it is not enough to exceed the low expectations that others have of us, and which we, at times, even came to have about ourselves.

To give citizens, especially young Africans, the lives they dream of, we have a lot farther to climb.

We know what needs to be done.

Our countries have smart policies that we have seen work elsewhere in the world. But the kind of rapid progress we all want will only be achieved by sound implementation.

In particular, taking Africa’s development to the next level will require a much bigger role for the private sector, which generates jobs and wealth.

As governments, it is crucial to consistently invest in and strengthen our efforts to create environments that nurture and promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

The first to take advantage of an improved business environment should be African companies. Since 2007, intra-African investment has grown at a rate of 32 per cent, more than double that of non-African emerging markets, and almost four times faster than FDI from developed markets.

There is still a lot of potential to be realised, meaning we can do more to encourage this trend.

Today’s most important challenges cannot be tackled by any country on its own. This is true of infrastructure, trade facilitation, policy harmonisation, and even marketing.

For the East African region, the Northern Corridor Projects Integration initiative between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for rail and energy infrastructure development, streamlined Customs procedures, as well as easing free movement of our citizens and tourists to our countries is a recent example.

Deeper regional and continental integration is not only good for Africa, it is good for investors and trading partners. It makes it easier and cheaper and less risky to do business in Africa.

For the first time, the world seems to be going our way. But Africa’s demographics are favourable.

Standards of governance are improving. We have opportunities for large-scale infrastructure investment found nowhere else in the world.

By deepening regional and continental integration, the bright future reflected in the “Africa Rising” narrative has a better chance of becoming a reality within our lifetimes.

Focusing on implementing our respective transformational national agendas, based on the aspirations of our citizens, will ensure that we have healthy partners working together for more productive partnerships in Africa.

* Source The East African .Paul Kagame is the President of Rwanda.

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Joyce Banda Releases Statement On Malawi General Elections Outcome
June 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Joyce-Banda-4Fellow Malawians,I would like to first of all, thank all Malawians that took part in the just ended, first ever tripartite elections. Despite isolated incidences of disturbances, Malawians generally embraced peace throughout the election period and exercised impeccable patience as we awaited the conclusion of the elections. I commend all Malawians for the patience exercised during this delicate time of transition.Last evening, on 30th May 2014, the Malawi Electoral Commission announced the Presidential results of the Tripartite Elections that were held from Tuesday, 20th May to Thursday, 22nd May 2014. I take this opportunity to sincerely congratulate the President Elect Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and the Vice President Elect Mr. Saulos Klaus Chilima on their victory in an election that was closely contested. I wish the President Elect and the Vice President Elect every success as they take up the mantle of leadership for the nation of Malawi. It is my prayer that the new President and his Government will successfully guide our nation to greater heights of prosperity I would like to thank all Malawians for the support rendered to me and my government during my term in office as President of this great Republic.It has been an honor and privilege to serve my country, Malawi, and more so as the country’s first female president. During my term, significant reforms that aimed at taking the nation to the right development trajectory were implemented, and I appreciate the support and encouragement that Malawians and all other well wishers gave me during these reforms As I leave office today, I am happy that there are visible positive outcomes of these reforms in the macro economy, in governance and observance of human rights, in food security, in women’s empowerment, in rural development and international relations to mention but a few. I am happy that the country is at a better place than was the case when I assumed office in 2012. I therefore wish to take this opportunity, to urge all Malawians to support the newly elected President Professor Mutharika and his Government as they take on this foundation of progress and endeavour to develop Malawi even further. In conclusion, while these elections have been tense, I would like to urge all Malawians to move forward as one nation, to remain united, to uphold the rule of law, and continue being peaceful and calm as we head into the next fifty years of Malawi’s future. May God continue to protect and bless our Nation, Mother Malawi. I thank you for your attention President Dr Joyce Banda Republic of Malawi *Courtesy of News of the South]]>

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President Goodluck Jonathan’s “Democracy Day” Speech
May 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

By President Goodluck Jonathan
  downloadFellow Nigerians:  I greet and felicitate with you all, today, as we mark 15 years of uninterrupted democratic governance in our beloved country. 2.  Our dear nation, Nigeria, has certainly come a long way and made notable progress since our first Democracy Day on May 29, 1999 when the military finally relinquished power and handed over to a democratically-elected government, marking the true beginning of a government of the people, by the people, for the people.” 3.  Although I have ordered a low-key commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day in deference to the current mood of the nation, there can be no doubt that the past 15 years, the longest period of sustained democratic governance in our country, have been a blessing to us, as a people. 4.  As we commemorate 15 years of our Fourth Republic today therefore, I believe that it is fitting that we pay tribute once again to all those who played a part in restoring our nation to the true path of democratic governance, built on the foundations of rule of law and freedom of expression. 5.  As a result of our collective efforts since 1999, democratic governance is now entrenched in our nation and institutions. I wholeheartedly believe that our people are the better for it. The scope of fundamental rights and liberties enjoyed by our people overthe past 15 years has been expanded beyond measure. 6.  On my watch, we have witnessed high national economic growth rates, steady improvements and expansion of national infrastructure including airports and roads, the restoration of rail transportation, the efficient implementation of a roadmap for improved power supply, a revolutionary approach to agricultural production, as well as advances in education, sports, youth development, healthcare delivery, housing, water supply and other social services. 7.   In the oil and gas sector, our promotion of a sustainable local content policy, continues to guarantee equity and better opportunities for Nigerian entrepreneurs and skilled personnel. 8.  Significant increase in mobile telephoneand national broadband penetration, making Information and Communications Technology (ICT) one of the fastest growing sectors of the Nigerian economy. We have also developed strong financial markets and regulatory institutions. Our banks now have regional and global footprints. 9.  Nigeria has also gained recognition as the largest economy in Africa, the most preferred investment destination in the continent and in terms of returns on investment, the fourth in the world. We are pleased that the world has noticed, as global leaders converged in Abuja early this month for the World Economic Forum in Africa. 10.The event not only witnessed a record attendance, it brought the prospect of an additional flow of investment into the Nigerian economy estimated at over $68 billion over the next few years. 11. In foreign relations, our country has equally done well within this period, by establishing and strengthening strong partnerships with all ECOWAS countries and the rest of the world. This has helped to deepen Nigeria’s leadership role in multilateral institutions including the United Nations. 12.Furthermore, under this administration, we have made consistent progress in improving the standard of elections in our country to ensure that they are ever more credible and truly representative of the people’s free choice. The National Conference we initiated to deliberate and make recommendations on the best ways of resolving our current political and socio-economic challenges is ongoing. It is our expectation that its outcomes will help to further consolidate the gains we have made from democracy in the past 15 years, and place our dear nation even more firmly on the path to greatness. Dear Compatriots, 13.  It is a sad fact that as I address you today, all the gains of the past 15 years of democratic governance in our country are threatened by the presence of international terrorism on our shores. Our dear country, Nigeria is facing a new challenge. A war has been unleashed on us. Extremist foreign elements, collaborating with some of our misguided citizens, are focused on an attempt to bring down our country and the democracy and freedomwe cherish and celebrate today. 14.  The despicable abduction of school girls from Chibok in Borno State has brought to the awareness of the entire world, the heartless brutality of these terrorists who want to instigate a descent into anarchy and balkanize our nation. 15.    In recent years, terrorist attacks have claimed the lives of several of our compatriots, many have been  injured or maimed, whole villages and communities have been destroyed and the economy of some of our states  is in jeopardy. 16. There can be no doubt that what we are witnessing in Nigeria today is a manifestation of the same warped and ferocious world view that brought down the Twin Towers in New York, killed innocent persons in Boston and led to the murder of defenceless people in the Southern Russian city of Volgograd. Terrorist activities have brought war and pains to Mali, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. These agents of evil continue to brainwash and incite ignorant young men and women to attack the innocent. We cannot allow this to continue. 17.    I welcome the statements of solidarity from patriotic citizens and the global community in support of our efforts to stamp out terrorism. I applaud the understanding that in a democracy, such as we are building, people can have differences while sharing worthy values and standing together in opposition to the scourge of terrorism. Nigeria is the only country we have and we must all work to preserve it for present and future generations. 18.  Despite the challenges we face, we must commend our security forces. We must not forget their gallantry and successes in liberating nations and in peacekeeping, from Liberia to Sierra Leone,  Congo, Sudan, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and many places in Africa and beyond. Our forces have paid the supreme price in several places at several times. 19. Today, they face a different challenge, an unconventional war by terrorists. They are adjusting and are being equipped to tackle the new menace of terrorism. We must show confidence in their ability. I have no doubt that, with the support of Nigerians, our neighbours and the international community, we will reinforce our defence, free our girls and rid Nigeria of terrorists. 20.    It is now 45 days since the horrifying abduction of the college girls of Chibok. I share the deep pain and anxiety of their parents and guardians and I assure them once again that government will continue to do everything possible to bring our daughters home. 21.   I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism. The unity and stability of our country, and the protection of lives and property are non-negotiable. I have instructed our security forces to launch a full-scale operation to put an end to the impunity of terrorists on our soil. 22.   I have also authorized the security forces to use any means necessary under the law to ensure that this is done. I assure you that Nigeria will be safe again, and that these thugs will be driven away – it will not happen overnight, but we will spare no effort to achieve this goal. 23.   For our citizens who have joined hands with Al Qaeda and international terrorists in the misguided belief that violence can possibly solve their problems, our doors remain open to them for dialogue and reconciliation, if they renounce terrorism and embrace peace. 24.   My government, while pursuing security measures, will explore all options, including readiness to accept unconditional renunciation of violence by insurgents, and to ensure their de-radicalization, rehabilitation and re-integration into the broader society. Dear Compatriots, 25.    We must remain united to win the war against terrorism. Christians, Moslems, farmers, fishermen, herdsmen, teachers, lawyers, clergy or clerics, the rich, the poor and Nigerians from all sections of the country must work together with our security agencies and armed forces to overcome the terrorists who now threaten all that we hold dear. 26.                   The war against terror may be difficult, but the days of peace will come again. Terror is evil; nowhere in history has evil endured forever. The menace of Boko Haram will surely come to an end. I believe that because of your prayers, your courage, hardwork, faith and sacrifice, we will ultimately prevail over the terrorists and all other evil forces. 27.                    We are a strong, resilient and courageous people.  We will continue to partner with the civilized world, to confront international terrorism and every other challenge that comes our way with patriotic zeal and determination. Fellow Nigerians, 28. Yes, we have challenges but we will surely overcome. Nigeria is our country. Nigeria is blessed. We will all collectively protect, defend and develop this country for ourselves, and our children. 29.                   Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 30.                   Thank you and God bless Nigeria. *Courtesy of Sahara Reporters]]>

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I have a duty to protect my country, says Museveni
May 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Yoweri Museveni has vowed to protect Ugandans and their property at all costs, saying it would be a vote of no confidence to our country to delegate that responsibility to foreigners. He said for the country to develop, peace and security is paramount. download (2)“I have never called the United Nations to guard your security. Me, Yoweri Museveni to say that I have failed to protect my people and I call in the UN….I would rather hang myself. We prioritized national security by developing a strong army otherwise our Uganda would be like DRC, South Sudan, Somalia or Nigeria where militias have disappeared with school children. It would be a vote of no confidence to our country and citizens if we can’t guarantee our security, what kind of persons would we be?” he said amidst cheering from the crowd. The President was speaking at a grand final campaign rally for the NRM woman flag bearer Rebecca Nalwanga at Zirobwe Town Council grounds after a busy afternoon that saw him address the Nubian Community at a stopover at Bombo and an impromptu gathering at Kalagala. “Am here to teach and undo the lies. Some people have turned politics into a game of lies and un seriousness. They don’t sensitize you about development but they play around with your lack of information. The issue of development is a very serious one not a joke. I detest the dishonesty and lies of the opposition who concentrate on what has not been done without considering what has been done,” he said. The President said that when the NRM came to power it revitalized the economy and increased revenue collection, the government had to prioritize the major pillars to national development starting with national security the reason the country has been peaceful and stable for a long period, health through mass immunization, education with Universal Primary Education and Universal secondary education and then infrastructure such as roads and power generation. He described some of the criticism from the opposition on some development programs that have not been done as “irresponsible talk”. “If we made a mistake to prioritize education then let anyone come up and suggest otherwise and we divert UPE and USE funds to other sectors” he said. He also castigated the opposition politicians for using lies and negative propaganda to gain political support and wondered why the electoral commission does not invoke the electoral law to disqualify them from being elected because it’s an electoral offence. At Bombo, Lomule Parish, President Museveni assured the Nubian Community in Uganda that issues to do with their frozen accounts after the Amin war would be handled and said the children of soldiers returning from Congo will be treated as Ugandans with an entitlement to a Ugandan identity card. He warned against mixing religion with politics saying infrastructure such as roads has no tribe and are used by all. He said the war against Amin was political with many Muslims supporting the NRA and that after the war he encouraged all of them to return from exile and settle home. He urged them to help him fight corruption. Museveni used the occasion to strongly warn politicians and citizens against electoral violence and instructed the Luwero district police commander to arrest and bring to justice anyone involved in this vice. “We want a civilized conduct in the electoral process and there should be zero tolerance to electoral violence. Please even you our supporters don’t involve yourselves in electoral violence or malpractices, people should not suffer because of an election” he added. He urged them to work towards overcoming household poverty which he said was the main challenge facing the country which he said can be overcome by engaging in modern agriculture that is profit oriented. *Source New Vision Kenya]]>

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President Museveni's speech at Anti-gay Bill signing
February 25, 2014 | 2 Comments

It seems the topic of homosexuals was provoked by the arrogant and careless Western groups that are fond of coming into our schools and recruiting young children into homosexuality and lesbianism, just as they carelessly handle other issues concerning Africa. Initially, I did not pay much attention to it because I was busy with the immediate issues of defense, security, electricity, the roads, the railways, factories, modernization of agriculture, etc. When, eventually, I concentrated my mind on it, I distilled three problems: 1. those who were promoting homo-sexuality and recruiting normal people into it; 2. as a consequence of No. 1 above, many of those recruited were doing so for mercenary reasons – to get money – in effect homosexual prostitutes; these mercenary homosexual prostitutes had to be punished; 3. Homosexuals exhibiting themselves; Africans are flabbergasted by exhibitionism of sexual acts – whether heterosexual or otherwise and for good reason. Why do you exhibit your sexual conduct? Are you short of opportunity for privacy – where you can kiss, fondle (kukirigiita, kwagaaga) etc.? Are we interested in seeing your sexual acts – we the Public? I am not able to understand the logic of the Western Culture. However, we Africans always keep our opinions to ourselves and never seek to impose our point of view on the others. If only they could let us alone. It was my view that the above three should be punished harshly in order to defend our society from disorientation. Therefore, on these three I was in total accord with the MPs and other Ugandans. I had, however, a problem with Category 4 or what I thought was category 4 – those “born” homosexual. I thought there were such people – those who are either genetic or congenital homosexuals. The reason I thought so was because I could not understand why a man could fail to be attracted to the beauties of a woman and, instead, be attracted to a fellow man. It meant, according to me, that there was something wrong with that man – he was born a homosexual – abnormal. I, therefore, thought that it would be wrong to punish somebody because of how he was created, disgusting though it may be to us. That is why I refused to sign the Bill. In order to get to the truth, we involved Uganda Scientists as well as consulting Scientists from outside Uganda. My question to them was: “Are there people that are homosexual right from birth?”. After exhaustive studies, it has been found that homosexuality is in two categories: there are those who engage in homosexuality for mercenary reasons on account of the under – developed sectors of our economy that cause people to remain in poverty, the great opportunities that abound not withstanding; and then there are those that become homosexual by both nature (genetic) and nurture (up-bringing). The studies that were done on identical twins in Sweden showed that 34% – 39% were homosexual on account of nature and 66% were homosexual on account of nurture. Therefore, even in those studies, nurture was more significant than nature. Can somebody be homosexual purely by nature without nurture? The answer is: “No”. No study has shown that. Since nurture is the main cause of homosexuality, then society can do something about it to discourage the trends. That is why I have agreed to sign the Bill. Since Western societies do not appreciate politeness, let me take this opportunity to warn our people publicly about the wrong practices indulged in and promoted by some of the outsiders. One of them is “oral sex”. Our youth should reject this because God designed the human being most appropriately for pleasurable, sustainable and healthy sex. Some of the traditional styles are very pleasurable and healthy. The mouth is not engineered for that purpose except kissing. Besides, it is very unhealthy. People can even contract gonorrhea of the mouth and throat on account of so-called “oral sex”, not to mention worms, hepatitis E, etc. The Ministry of Gender and Youth should de-campaign this buyayism imported from outside and sensitize the youth about the healthy life style that is abundant in our cultures. We reject the notion that somebody can be homosexual by choice; that a man can choose to love a fellow man; that sexual orientation is a matter of choice. Since my original thesis that there may be people who are born homosexual has been disproved by science, then the homosexuals have lost the argument in Uganda. They should rehabilitate themselves and society should assist them to do so. Yoweri K. Museveni Gen. (Rtd) P R E S I D E N T 24th February, 2014.]]>

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Mbeki: The Relationship Between Africa And Its Ex-Colonizers Is Illegal
February 17, 2014 | 2 Comments

MbekiCharity begins at home, and Africans need to take the first bold steps to deal with problems affecting them instead of depending on the west. Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki’s message was met with a resounding applause at the 6th edition of Africities in Dakar, Senegal.

Whilst it is no secret that conflicts are a bane of African development, the responsibility of conflict resolution should be left to Africans. Mkebi appears relentless when it comes to the Western interventions on the African continent.

“The Ivorian and Libyan crises confirmed a dangerous tendency with western countries who believe that they can intervene in every conflict on the continent,” Mbeki thundered with a clenched fist.

According to him, this behavior reveals an “illegal relationship between Africa and its former colonial masters!”, and Africa had become too dependent on the West”.

But what are the solutions that would allow Africans to better manage the string of conflicts plaguing the continent?

Thabo Mbeki, suggests that encouraging unity between African states is key, and that the African Union (AU) needs to provide the needed support. “We must stand united to protect our interests” he says.

His words come as the organization continues to suffer from its inability to reach a unanimous decision in its handling of the Libyan conflict.

Nonetheless, Mbeki argues that the competence of the AU must be strengthened. “Our country must pass on part of their sovereignty to the African Union to ensure peace and security”.

*Source The African Economist

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Help us develop economy, Equatorial Guinea leader asks investors
February 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Obiang President Obiang[/caption] – Equatorial Guinea wants international investors and financial institutions to help open up and diversify its energy-dependent economy, its president said on Tuesday, while insisting the nation’s oil and gas wealth was a “blessing and not a curse”. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema told a small group of foreign journalists in a rare interview that the small African nation’s reputation in the West as a secretive autocracy was undeserved, although he recognised his government’s failure to provide hard economic and social statistics for analysis. “They call me a dictator,” Obiang, 71, who seized power in a 1979 coup and is Africa’s longest-serving ruler, said in a conversation with correspondents from Reuters, CCTV, Russia Today and Deutsche Welle held in the capital Malabo. Rejecting reports from human rights groups of political repression and from development agencies of pervasive poverty despite oil riches, Obiang acknowledged his nation was “not all roses” but said it faced a campaign of negative publicity. “One thorn that we have is that the international community doesn’t want to understand what we are doing in this country,” he said. He pointed to a massive government infrastructure programme in recent years that he said had built not only roads, ports and airports but also schools and hospitals both on Bioko Island and on the Rio Muni mainland. Obiang spoke on the sidelines of an investors’ conference hosted by his government, which is seeking to involve foreign entrepreneurs in a diversification drive to develop non-energy sectors of Africa’s No. 3 oil and gas producer. Big hydrocarbons discoveries from the mid-1990s onwards have given Equatorial Guinea and its small population of under 800,000 people the highest GDP per capita in Africa – estimated at over $25,000 per inhabitant. But transparency advocates say that figure is skewed by the fact that wealth has filled the pockets of a tiny ruling elite that includes the president and his family. Obiang and his government deny this and say they have been using the country’s oil and gas revenues to haul its people out of the chronic poverty and underdevelopment they suffered for a decade following independence from Spain in 1968. “When my government came to power, the country was the worst in the whole world, the whole world,” said Obiang, who in 1979 overthrew his uncle, dictator Francisco Macias Nguema. “There are some who say that having oil is a curse, but I say, ‘no, it’s a blessing’,” added the president, speaking in a meeting room in a large, Chinese-built conference centre. According to the “oil curse” theory, underdeveloped countries which subsequently discover huge mineral wealth often suffer severe economic and social distortions in which the benefits of the new-found riches fail to reach the majority of the population, sometimes leading to conflict. Obiang said his government recognised the nation’s oil and gas might not last forever in a fluctuating global market, and for this reason now looked to open up to foreign investment sectors such as farming, petrochemicals, mining and tourism. “We can’t just see ourselves as self-sufficient in our own development, we want international support,” Obiang said, making clear this included seeking not just private capital but also more cooperation with global financial bodies like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.   “NEGATIVE PRESS” Foreign diplomats, delegates and investors at the Malabo investment conference welcomed what they said appeared to be a new spirit of openness and reform expressed by economic ministers in Obiang’s government, who pledged to work to improve the climate for doing business in Equatorial Guinea. “I think there is a willingness to address what needs to be done,” Jon Shields, the IMF’s chief of mission for Equatorial Guinea, said in one of the conference sessions on Tuesday. But Shields and other participants said an accurate analysis of the nation’s real economic and social situation was almost impossible in the complete absence of reliable data from the government on GDP, imports and the balance of payments. Obiang acknowledged that one of his government’s biggest weaknesses was its failure to provide up-to-date statistics and he said he had requested IMF and World Bank help to do this. But he flatly rejected portrayals of Equatorial Guinea as a repressive poster child of the “oil curse”, saying: “The country is not being shown for what it is”. He disputed that poverty existed in Equatorial Guinea, saying he preferred to use the term “shortages”. “Even in the big countries like the United States, there are poor people, in Britain, in France, in Spain, there are poor people,” Obiang said, although he admitted a shortage of skilled professionals was a major brake to Equatorial Guinea’s development, but the government was working to solve this. In a parliamentary election held in May last year, the president’s Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) announced it had won all but two seats. The vote was denounced as fraudulent and illegal by the main Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS) opposition movement. Obiang told the reporters on Tuesday that persistent allegations by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that political freedoms were not being respected were “sensationalist campaigns to tarnish the image of Equatorial Guinea”. uL4FH“I think there is total freedom of expression, there has never been repression in that sense,” he said, a statement at odds with press watchdog reports that rank Equatorial Guinea among the world’s 10 worst for media freedoms. “We have the acceptance of the Guinean people … What I don’t understand is that when my government is doing important things, why does it have to face this negative press?” *Source Reuters]]>

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My Gov’t Is Swallowing Bitter Pills On Ghanaians’ Behalf -President Mahama
February 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

Hala Dunie* President John Mahama says his government is taking difficult decisions to fix the economy. [caption id="attachment_8432" align="alignleft" width="231"]Leaders of today hate to hear the truth unless that truth will benefit him or her-President Mahama Leaders of today hate to hear the truth unless that truth will benefit him or her-President Mahama[/caption] “We are taking some tough decisions. We are swallowing some bitter medicine and strengthening the fundamentals to ensure a better and brighter economic future for our people”, President Mahama told the Diplomatic Corp at the Peduase Lodge in the Eastern region on Wednesday. He said his team is taking prudent economic decisions to improve the fiscal state of the economy. “Our economic management team led by my capable Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur has begun the implementation of our ambitious 2014 budget. This budget is designed to achieve a proper calibration of our macro-economic fundamentals to ensure that the economy continues to stay on a positive trajectory in order to address the fiscal deficit caused by expenditure overruns of the past”, he said. President Mahama also said his Government “is exercising stricter financial discipline and public sector institutions are being encouraged to make the necessary adjustments that will result in improving the wellbeing of our people across the nation”. The local currency, the cedi, is currently losing ground against the dollar and other international currencies. The Central Bank has announced a series of measures toward arresting the fast depreciation of the local currency. The Bank of Ghana recently injected $20 million into critical areas of the economy as part of efforts to shore up the cedi. In a statement issued on February 4, 2014, the Bank of Ghana said it has revised rules governing the operations of Foreign Exchange Accounts (FEA) and Foreign Currency Accounts (FCA) with effect from Wednesday February 5, 2014. It has therefore ordered authorised dealers not to sell foreign exchange for the credit of FEA or FCA of their customers. It also stated that cash withdrawals over the counter from FEA and FCA shall only be permitted for travel purposes outside Ghana and shall not exceed US$10,000.00 or its equivalent in convertible foreign currency, per person, per travel. Also, no bank shall grant a foreign currency denominated loan or foreign currency linked facility to a customer who is not a foreign exchange earner, it added. The Central Bank in a separate statement also says all exporters are required to collect and repatriate in full, the proceeds of their exports to their local banks within 60 days of shipment. It warned that violation of any of the measures will attract punishment including pecuniary sanctions, jail terms, suspension and revocation of operating licences amongst others. Meanhwile the Ghana Trades Union Congress, in a strongly worded statement, said the Government is to blame for the fast depreciating value of the cedi as well as Ghana’s compounding economic woes. In a long statement issued by the Congress on Wednesday, the TUC said it “shares the view that the dollarisation of the economy is partly to blame for the current messy situation. But Government itself is most guilty on this”. It said: “We are in a country where custom duties charged by government are dollar-indexed. State agencies, like the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) sell land at dollar-indexed prices. The Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), along with other public educational institutions, have indexed their fees to the US Dollar. In such an environment, one can only expect rational economic actors to procure dollars ahead of time to shield themselves from exchange rate losses. Yet, Government turns round to blame innocent Ghanaians for dollarizing the economy”. According to the TUC, “the US$20 million that the Bank of Ghana says it has injected into the economy is roughly equivalent to what one telecom company will have to transfer out of the country in a month”. It added that: “With the value of the Cedi declining on a daily basis, the domestic prices of imports keep rising and this has adverse implications for the living conditions of workers whose salaries are fixed throughout the year”. The statement signed by Secretary General Kofi Asamoah said: “…It is not just imported items that experience price increases. Landlords adjust their rents to be able to cope. Lorry fares continue their upward trend. In general, Ghanaians are facing difficult times as nearly all prices are going up. *Source Modern Ghana]]>

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Motlanthe: Persistent inequality threatens SA's peace
January 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

CHANTELLE BENJAMIN* At the M&G’s 20 years of economic transformation summit, Kgalema Motlanthe says while poverty has declined, inequality in the workplace has not. Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Wednesday government was concerned about “persistent inequality” in the workplace, which was threatening the 18 years of relative peace the country has experienced. Speaking at the Mail & Guardian 20 years of economic transformation summit in Sandton, he said that while poverty declined, inequality did not, with the richest 10% of households still getting over half of the country’s national income. Aware that concerns over labour unrest and the impact it has on investment, he said that “peace was premised on the idea there would be real change towards increased training, career pathing and equality. If we do not address these underlying factors towards workplace conflict, we cannot hope to bring about a more productive economy.” In trying to address both challenges of poverty and equality, government had much success in overhauling apartheid-inherited labour laws and creating greater equality in the work place. But one of its key policies, broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE), proved challenging as it became obvious that there were some unintended consequences. “Over time, shortcomings with how B-BBEE is implemented emerged,” he said. “Among others, emphasis on ownership and senior management has unintended consequences such as fronting, speculation and abuse of the tender system … B-BBEE regulations also fail to adequately incentivise job creation and support for small enterprises and local procurement”. He said revision of code and the passing of the B-BBEE Amendment Act were intended to deal with this. “Our route towards meaningful transformation is long and hard. We enter into the next 20 years of economic transformation proud that we have done much that has positively impacted own the lives on our people … We have turned around an economy marked by distortions that included large domestic debt, high inflation and interest rates as well as stabilising financial fundamentals.” He said in 1994 growth averaged at 1.5% of over a decade, investment was below 15% of gross domestic product, and less than 40% of the adult population had employment, compared to the global average of 60%. Motlanthe said the only solution was to invest in people. “Experience has shown that there is no substitute for people driven development.” Motlanthe’s opening address Programme director, Professor Adam Habib, The executive deputy chair of Mail & Guardian, Mr Trevor Ncube, The chief executive officer of the Mail & Guardian, Mr Hoosain Karjieker, Fellow panellists; Ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for this opportunity to interact with you as we assess the progress our country has made in terms of economic terms transformation since the onset of democracy in 1994. Looking back at the twenty-year period of economic transformation in South Africa, the democratic state can truly be proud of its record, while simultaneously recognising failures. The democratic government inherited an economy that was in crisis; depended heavily on mineral exports; and was characterised by deep inequalities and rising unemployment. I would first like to focus on key accomplishments, before discussing the challenges we face as well as continued government efforts to address them. Since 1994, the South African economy has grown at an average rate of over 3% a year. To put this in perspective, in the 15 years before democracy, growth was under 1.5% a year. Since 1994, employment has grown by around 4.5-million, or about 45%. In contrast, the economy generated almost no new jobs from the late 1970s through 1994. As a result, the share of adults with employment had plummeted from around 60% to under 40%. Economic growth since then has stabilised this employment ratio, with around 42% of adults employed today – still far too low by global standards, but at least some improvement on the past. In 1994 the rate of investment was less than 15% of [gross domestic product]. Today, the figure is over 19%, which is a marked improvement that takes us nearer to the 20% threshold. Especially since 2005, investment has been underpinned by a multi-billion-rand outlay in infrastructure, which is laying the foundations for faster and more inclusive growth in the future. The share of the labour force with post-secondary education has risen to 17% – almost exactly the norm for middle-income economies, excluding China and India (which was much lower). Some 8% of working-age people have a degree, compared to 5% in 1994. Finally, we brought down poverty rates substantially over the past 18 years. In 1994, over 25% of households with children said they had gone hungry at some point or another. In 2012, the figure had fallen to 6,5% – still unacceptably high, but a vast improvement nonetheless. Importantly, in the past 20 years, growth has normalised, despite the global setback of the 2008 recession, while investment has improved and positions of power in the economy are becoming more representative. In short, we can be proud of our economic record. But we also have to be aware of two remaining challenges, challenges that we need to address to bring about a better life for all going forward. First, while poverty has declined, inequality has not. As far as we know, inequality increased during the commodity boom of 2000 and subsided with mineral rents. In 2011 the gene coefficient was still around 0.65, which is extraordinarily high by global standards. The richest 10% of households still get over half of our national income. We should not underestimate the impact of inequality on our society. Social stratification, which cuts across the colour line today, sharpens sense of economic injustice among some sections of the South African population. Second, the economy has not diversified sufficiently and manufacturing in particular has grown only slowly. The fastest growing industries have been telecommunications and the financial sector. In contrast, manufacturing has fallen from 20% of the GDP to 10% in the past 18 years. To ensure sustained growth going forward, we will need to reverse this trend. Programme director, for 20 years now, we have struggled with the dual tasks of dynamising the economy as well as making it more equitable. Any analysis of our successes and failures since 1994 has to take into account the unique institutions, the pattern of investment and infrastructure, workplace relations, and the structures of education, skills and ownership set up through centuries of colonial and apartheid rule. We all know the key elements of the apartheid economy, although the attendant difficulties to its transformation are not always obvious. Africans faced the pass laws, which meant many, especially women, could not live legally in economic centres. Black people, and especially Africans, were denied the right to own land or have businesses in city centres. They could not go to the best schools or train as artisans. Most could not get credit – a restriction that hit hardest at African women. The state did not provide basic infrastructure such as energy, roads, telecommunications and portable water in many black communities. That led not only to worse living standards but also to reduced economic opportunities. Ultimately, all of these inhibitions ensured a population that was largely impoverished, without assets or land, adequate qualifications, or entrepreneurial experience. As I pointed out earlier, at the time of the democratic elections, growth had averaged under 1.5% for over a decade, investment was below 15% of the GDP, and less than 40% of the adult population had employment, compared to a global average of 60%. Since the inception of democracy, the main economic objectives of government have been job creation, the elimination of poverty and the reduction of inequality, while simultaneously maintaining investment and growth. In essence, the country adopted fiscal and monetary policies geared to maintaining economic stability, while seeking to bring about economic transformation and increasing productivity. In this context, government adopted a variety of strategies to bring about a more equitable and resilient economy. They centred on:

  • redirecting government investment in social services and infrastructure towards historically disadvantaged communities;
  • the introduction of labour rights and a new skills system;
  • programmes to broaden economic power by supporting emerging enterprise, land reform and incentives for increased representivity in management and ownership;
  • industrial and trade policy measures to diversify the economy and support employment creation; and
  • work with stakeholders both to ensure evidence-based and effective policies and to mobilise our forces as a country in support of economic development.
South African economic policies do not operate in a vacuum. The democratic government had to respond to global trends and events that had a critical influence on the domestic economy. Firstly, the economy was opened to global trade and investment, which increased competitive pressure on domestic manufacturing in particular but also supported the growth of the financial sector. Secondly, the economy was positively influenced by the commodity boom from the year 2000 through 2008, which fuelled economic and employment growth in South Africa. It was also affected by the global recession in 2008/9, which was followed by a faltering recovery up to 2013/14. Any review of the past 20 years has meaning only if it helps us improve our strategies going forward. So what have we learned? Firstly, it is not enough just to strife for growth if that is not in the context of an equitable economy. The countries that have seen rapid expansion were all characterised not only by high levels of employment, but also by strong career mobility, access to education and training, and relatively equitable earned incomes. The persistence of inequalities in the workplace has become a core challenge. The potential for workplace conflict engendered by these inequalities has to some extent been mitigated by our new labour laws, which have brought about 18 years of relative industrial peace. But that peace was premised on the idea that there would be real change toward increased training, career pathing and equality. If we do not address these underlying factors behind workplace conflict, we cannot hope to bring about a more productive economy. Secondly, we need to do more to promote growth in agriculture, mining, manufacturing and value adding services. That means improving infrastructure, reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens, and addressing the shortcomings and inequalities, especially in our basic education system. The national infrastructure plan was initiated to stimulate growth through addressing backlogs in rail and the ports; ensuring energy security at an affordable price whilst reducing emissions; driving rural development through the extension of the logistics network; and improving the infrastructure of our basic education and post-secondary systems. Additional initiatives in this regard include increased local procurement by the state and large private enterprises and higher industrial financing. Thirdly, we have to do more about regional development as South Africa cannot be an island of prosperity in a regional sea of under-development and integration. Among others regional development can be spurred on through the improving of infrastructure links across the region and the continent. Ladies and gentlemen, partheid systematically denied Africans opportunities to develop their own businesses. The result was, on the one hand, inadequate market institutions and infrastructure to support emerging producers, and on the other, a widespread lack of experience in starting and running enterprises. Overcoming these historic obstacles has proven difficult. Since 1994 the democratic government has adopted various approaches to support SMMEs. These include:
  • measures to reduce the tax compliance burden for small enterprises;
  • providing dedicated credit facilities;
  • establishing support, extension agencies and incubators; and
  • diversifying procurement toward emerging enterprises where possible.
Despite these measures, the 2009 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report ranked South Africa 15th out of 37 countries for start-up activity and 29th in new firm activity. This placed South Africa in the lowest quartile of all the countries involved in the study in two key measures: opportunity entrepreneurship and new firm activity. Total early-stage entrepreneurial activity is particularly low – about half of that in other developing countries. Going forward, there will need to for continued focus on improving mentoring, and other support programmes as we as reducing regulatory burden for small businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, government adopted various policies and programmes to ensure that historically disadvantaged South Africans are empowered to participate meaningfully in the economy. These included efforts to promote access to the constitutional right to equality, promoting higher growth rates and increasing employment and more equitable income distribution, Further to give effect to these objectives government conceived of Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act (2003), which was followed by the B-BBEE codes of good practice. Be that as it may, with time shortcomings in how B-BBEE is implemented emerged. Among others, emphasis on ownership and senior management has had unintended consequences such as fronting, speculation and abuse of the tender system. B-BBEE regulations also fail to adequately incentivise job creation and support for small enterprises and local procurement. To ensure a more broad-based approach, government contended that there should be a stronger focus on the broad-based elements of the B-BBEE regulations, support for small enterprises and co-operatives and procurement from local producers. With a view to addressing some of these concerns, government has recently made efforts that include a substantial revision of the B-BBEE codes, which make a commitment to implement B-BBEE consistently in all sectors. Part of these efforts is continuously monitoring and evaluating the impact of B-BBEE compliance. The most important recent innovation is an increase in incentives for larger companies to support emerging and smaller enterprises. This may be in the commercial interests of larger companies wishing to increase the competitiveness of smaller enterprises in their supply chains. Ladies and gentlemen, government has made notable strides in terms of the labour market. In 1994 the labour market was characterised by deep segmentation and oppressive workplace relations. The labour laws contributed to this situation through a long history of promoting negotiations between white workers and employers while largely excluding black workers. As reflected in the RDP, the transition to democracy required a profound shift in the labour-market regime. From 1994 the democratic government sought to ensure improved workplace relations. Labour laws were deracialised and extended equally to all workers. The Labour Relations Act of 1995 introduced organisational rights for workers, set a framework for bargaining structures and provided for alternative dispute settlement mechanisms. Ladies and gentlemen, working our way out of current challenges means investing in innovation through research and development, which will be a shot in the arm for our efforts to diversify the economy. Innovation is the impulse that propels modernisation and consistently empowers societies that are largely successful today. Therefore going forward we need to invest in local capacity that enables us to research new ways of value addition to our mineral resources. Among areas that innovation can prove of great value to us are: agro processing; the maritime industry; green economy; and hydrogen fuel cells or clean energy, all of which could create decent jobs, grow the economy and energise ongoing process of reconstruction and development of our country. Finally let me reiterate that the democratic state needs to increase efforts to correct its past shortcomings so that with time it is fully capacious to effect social change as the basis for attaining our strategic vision of building unity, democracy, non-racialism, non-sexism and prosperity for our people. More attention must be directed at the fight against the cancer of corruption, nepotism, tribalism, inefficiency and mediocrity in society generally and within the institutions of the state in particular, especially public systems. Our route towards meaningful economic transformation is long and hard. We enter into the next twenty years of economic transformation proud that we have done much that has positively impacted on the lives of our people. We have turned around an economy marked by distortions that included large domestic debt, high inflation and interest rates as well as stabilised the financial fundamentals. Equally, it is true that the struggle to bring about dignity to the lives of all our people through material comfort still rages on and will continue to do so for some time. Winning such a struggle in the cut and thrust of modern global economic conditions can only mean investing in the productive capacity of our people. Historical experience broadly shows that there is no substitute for people driven development. We believe as the democratic state that our nation has the ability to work together to take our country forward through eliminating the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality and making irreversible difference to the lives of the poor, the working class, the peasants and all segments of South Africa.. I thank you for your attention. *Source M&G]]>

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No ambition is worth the blood of Nigerians – JONATHAN
January 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Goodluck Jonathan President Goodluck Jonathan[/caption] President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said that no Nigerian should kill or maim himself or herself because of his presumed 2015 second term ambition, saying that “any ambition I have at any time is not worth the blood of Nigerians.”Meanwhile, President Jonathan has told the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur that he would require the support of every Nigerian, not only him (Tukur), to win the 2015 election if he would contest the election.The President stated this at a meeting with Vice President Namadi Sambo, Tukur, and other members of the National Working Committee, NWC — Jonathan spoke on the need for peace in the PDP and warned that accusations and counter accusations must stop. He also said that he would “never, ever expect a Nigerian to spill a drop of his blood because Goodluck Jonathan has some ambitions. Nigerians should always preach peace and unity in all their engagements. This is the only way the country will achieve greatness.” Speaking at a special church service to mark this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Jonathan reminded politicians that no ambition was worth the blood of innocent Nigerians, adding that if we continued to kill ourselves, there would be no nation to govern. He said: “Sometimes I get worried and embarrassed when I hear provocative statements that come from very senior citizens; people that ordinarily will be perceived as senior citizens, who ordinarily should know that the unity of this country is more important than the interests of any individual or a group of individuals. And that the peace of Nigeria is more important than any interest of individuals or group of individuals. Some people even encourage young people to take arms and fight themselves. “I always say as a politician that I pray all politicians should know that there will be no nation if we kill ourselves. If you want people to come out and vote, why do you threaten them? If you threaten people they will stay in their houses and how will you win election? “In an occasion like this, we should also admonish ourselves that we should preach peace and unity in all our conversations. If we do that all our problems will be resolved, our security issues will be resolved. If all of us collectively talk about the unity of this country, about peace in this country, then our country will progress and move in the direction we want the country to move.” The president noted that this year’s remembrance celebration was unique as it was coming at a time that the country is celebrating its 100 years of existence as a nation. He paid tributes to members of the Armed Forces, saying that their sacrifices had ensured that Nigeria remained one indivisible country, despite the challenges it had faced. “The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is unique and this year’s programme is more unique because first January marks 100 years of our existence as a nation. It is not easy to get here. The country faced a lot of challenges no doubt about that. Some of us witnessed the civil war. For us who have survived this 100 years, some people paid dearly for it, some people worked for it like the armed forces. We know the challenges they faced during the civil war. But for their sacrifice, Nigeria would have been more than one nation. They worked for it, some died in the process while some died serving in wars outside Nigeria. These are the people that we are remembering today. We all have to emulate them. Those of us who are alive, what we can do to honour them is to ensure that whatever we do, whatever we say, whatever song we sing is a song that will bring peace and unity to this country.” Earlier in his message, the Arch Bishop of the Abuja Diocese of the Methodist Church, Arch Bishop Job Ojei, who read from Hebrew 11:13. And 2 Timothy 4:7, called on Nigerians to stop making “unedifying utterances that will weaken those in leadership” while  those who are power drunk should be rebuked. “All politicians should give us peace of mind. Some of the utterances we hear from them make us begin to fear. If you need our votes don’t threaten us. If you continue to threaten us no body will come out to vote. Leave 2015 alone. God will take care of it. By hating other tribes or other religion, you will never eliminate those tribes or religion. By causing trouble for a particular religion will not eliminate any religion. God knows why he allowed the existence of other tribes and religion. Every religion is meant to build up the nation,” he said. While paying tribute to the fallen heroes, the Methodist bishop called on government to look after members of the. Armed forces and the family of those left behind by the fallen heroes. “Some of the fallen heroes did not only fight for the survival of this country but of other African countries and beyond. The fallen heroes and their blood was to keep Nigeria one. We should always remember them and especially those who are still in service. Nigeria must take good care of them. They have given us some respite from the Boko Haram attacks. We must acknowledge what has been achieved in the aviation sector, the power sector, by reducing unemployment, by not recruiting thugs and hired assassins. We must stop unedifying utterances that will weaken those in leadership but we must rebuke those who are power drunk” he said. The first reading was taken by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika while the second reading was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan. Those in attendance were the service chiefs, the president of the senate, David Mark, the chairman of the board of trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, the mother of the President, Eunice Jonathan, Anyim Pius Anyim,   among several others. *Source Vanguard Newspaper Nigeria  ]]>

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"A tremendous amount of work has been done.Nevertheless, there is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done."-Ghanaian President Mahama
January 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Mahama President Mahama[/caption] Good Morning, Ladies & Gentlemen of the Media … Thank you for being here, for this First Presidential Press Conference of the Year. A very happy and prosperous New Year to you, and to every one following this event across all media platforms. Today marks one year since I took the oath of office and began my first term as the duly elected President of our dear nation Ghana. In my inaugural address, I invited all Ghanaians, irrespective of party affiliation, ethnicity, religion and socio-economic status to join me, in a renewed partnership that creates prosperity and equal opportunities for all our citizens. Over these past twelve months I have been working hard – despite some clear challenges and hurdles – to move our country’s prospects onto a firm and steady path that should truly make our nation great and strong. Together, with the prayers, support and hard work of all Ghanaians, and also the favour of the almighty God, we have not only survived but we have stood tall, as we tackled the devastating impact of a series of mysterious fire outbreaks in some of our markets.  These fires threatened the economic activities and livelihoods of some of our hardworking traders, especially our women. With the commitment, goodwill and determination of all Ghanaians we emerged out of the stormy clouds created by an eight-month-long election petition hearing.  Ghana emerged with her democratic credentials intact and continues to be the beacon of stability, good governance and democracy on the African continent. Despite the adverse impact the uncertainty generated by the petition had on our economy, evidenced by slow growth, postponed investment decisions, and delay of release of pledged donor funds, our economy bounced back in the latter part of the year and we are on track to achieve a respectable provisional GDP growth rate of 7.4% for year 2013. Again, working with organized labour we have been able to bring under control the spate of industial actions that characterized year 2013. While the wage bill continues to exert pressure on the budget, I am certain that understanding of the challenges our economy faces and a spirit of goodwill and consensus building with organized labour will see us through this difficulty too. Dear friends, sisters and brothers … I know we have  hard work to do, so we can improve the living standards of every Ghanaian  child, woman and man – whether it is the farmer or the fisherman, the trader, the businessman or businesswoman; whether it is the skilled professional, the labourer or artisan; the student or the teacher, or the nurse who is dedicated to her job of delivery health care, even under the most difficult circumstances.  Every Ghanaian deserves the best and I am constantly concerned about the plight and living conditions of every one of us. So, I am re-energised and more determined in my desire and ambition to build a prosperous, more stable, and more united nation with great opportunities for all our citizens.  Together, with my team, we are renewing our commitment towards the rapid transformation of the economy, so that we can all enjoy great improvements in the delivery of basic social services and infrastructure, especially for the vulnerable and deprived in our communities. During this first year of my first term as president,  my government has taken a range of important measures to ensure fiscal disciple.  We placed a moratorium on new award of new projects to reduce the deficit, we continued implementation of the single spine salary structure, we improved ministerial responsibility and accountability by having ministers sign performance contracts. In my continuing drive for responsible, transparent and accountable governance, we also began installing pre-paid meters in government offices and bungalows.  Overall, my government wants to be judicious and wise in the way we spend the resources entrusted into our care by the people of this great land. That is why I have banned any use of public funds for the purchase and distribution of Christmas hampers, for example. We want to ensure that the people’s money is used in a manner that brings the best and maximum benefit to our people. Commenced identification and registration of government vehicles. In addition, we are making progress in resolving a number chieftaincy disputes.  We have also taken decisive measures to deal with illegal mining.  In Parliament, we have acted quickly to present and support many important but long-delayed bills, including the Right To Information Bill.  We re-committed ourselves to the fight against corruption, by introducing and monitoring strong anti-corruption initiatives.  We must prevent corruption in every sphere of our national life, and where it occurs we must join together to deal with it forcefully. Dear Friends, my sisters and my brothers … A brand new year is here with us, and we have a bright hope for a great future. In this second year of my first term, we are forging ahead, with faith and fortitude to build on the foundations we have laid. In this new year, 2014, we have greater work to do. In the area of jobs and decent work, I am going to focus on implementing policies that generate jobs, especially for our youth. We are certain that a number of key projects we have embarked on, like the Takoradi Harbour Extension and the construction of the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra, plus several road projects, will deliver some decent jobs. The drive to create jobs is one of the reasons why we have worked hard to ensure that any unscheduled power cut (or dumsor) becomes a thing of the past.  We have made some progress, and load-shedding – that resulted in many days of power outages – has been curtailed. But we not done yet.  We will work even harder this year to ensure that we achieve further and lasting improvements in our power supply.  With reliable and predictable power supply, jobs can be created, as more and more people set up small and medium-scale businesses. In the area of education, we have laid some strong and steady foundations for the construction of a good number of senior high schools. Through these building projects in the area of education we should also be able to generate some extra jobs. I recommit myself to the necessary hard work, dedication and wise leadership for the rapid improvement in  the lives of all Ghanaians. My pledge is to do everything, within the powers invested in me by the people, to take Ghana and Ghanaians to a better place. Together, we CAN make lives better.  We CAN build a more united, more inclusive and a truly better Ghana.  With every Ghanaian engaged and involved and by the grace of Almighty God, we shall attain a Ghana of excellent living standards, and a Ghana that is greater and stronger. We are a nation of great and hardworking people, let’s close our ranks, focus on the things that unite us, and renew our pledges and allegiance to this great land once again. I wish to thank every member of the media for your support, encouragement and constructive criticism.  With your help we can and must do better.  Thank you. I will now take your questions … *Opening Remarks at the Press Conference / Media Encounter Marking  First Year of the First Term as President of the Republic of Ghana Tuesday, 7th December 2014]]>

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"Embrace a new spirit of patriotism."-Biya to Cameroonians in new year message
January 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

My dear compatriots, The year 2013 gave Cameroonians genuine reasons to feel satisfied, thus paving the way for excellent prospects for the future Let me explain. The senatorial elections of 14 April and the legislative and municipal elections of 30 September took place in a calm and transparent atmosphere. All observers confirmed this fact and I believe that it reflects the maturity of the Cameroonian people who have understood that achieving social progress requires stable institutions and sound policies. The few failings reported were not enough to challenge the validity of the said elections. In this regard, ELECAM deserves to be commended. The enhanced credibility of the legislative and municipal elections sufficiently justified the time it took to introduce biometrics into our electoral system. I therefore believe that there is every reason for us to be satisfied with this new milestone in our democratic process. The marked increase in the number of women in Parliament and municipal councils is a further sign of progress. In any case, having put in place the Senate and local and regional authorities, the establishment of the Constitutional Council within a reasonable timeline will complete the institutional structure enshrined in our Constitution. Our political horizon is now very clear. It is time for serious and objective discussions on issues that are dear to Cameroonians which, as you know, are purchasing power, employment and living conditions. In other words, such issues constitute what our people legitimately expect from a prosperous and equitable economy and a just and interdependent society. Of course, this is no revelation to us. In recent decades, we have spared no effort to improve the living conditions of Cameroonians. This has been achieved despite the often tense political context, the economic crisis and threats to peace. Significant progress – perhaps still unevenly shared – has been made. Let me mention just two examples, namely health and our major projects. With the resurgence of malaria in its most severe form which affects infants, we have approached international partners for assistance. With their help, we will be able to secure free treatment of this pandemic for under-five children. Furthermore, I am pleased to announce that our country’s health map will soon have three additional referral hospitals, namely the Yaounde National Emergency Centre, the Douala Gynaecological, Obstetric and Paediatric Hospital and the Sangmelima Referral Hospital. Regarding our major projects, those of the first generation are, as you know, either ongoing or in the start-up phase. Concerning second-generation projects which will be implemented as from 2015, the related studies and financing are currently under negotiation. These include notably power generation, transportation, water supply, road and highway infrastructure as well as industrial and mining facilities. As you can see, our economy is picking up and some kind of national consensus on the goal of economic emergence is discernible. I believe that we should muster all our energy to champion this cause and summon all our strength to ensure growth. In fact, it seems that our efforts alone, no matter how laudable, will not suffice to make Cameroon an emerging country in 2035. International financial institutions have sounded this friendly warning to us; and it is in our interest to heed it. In 2013, our growth rate stands at 4.8%, and thus below our forecast of 6.1%. Of course, there is nothing so dramatic about this, yet it clearly indicates that we need to redouble our efforts. Our growth is currently sustained by buoyant oil revenues and public appropriations. Private investments remain inadequate. We still need to improve the business climate, but this certainly does not spare us from pursuing ongoing structural reforms and further strengthening fiscal discipline. Definitely, there is still room for improvement in the effectiveness of our economic policies. We have a growth and employment strategy which guides us towards achieving our goals. But, how come then that in some sectors of our economy, State action often seems to lack consistency and clarity? Why is it that in many cases, decision-making delays still constitute a bottleneck in project implementation? Why can’t any region of our country achieve a public investment budget execution rate of over 50%? Lastly, one can rightfully question the usefulness of certain project monitoring committees which are unable to take any decisions. What we need in the coming years is a real contingency plan. With the GESP, we have a trend chart. Now is the time to act. Our short-term priorities are well known, namely: to correct our growth curve by creating jobs and maintain a high level of performance over several years in a row. To this end, we need to set timelines on our roadmaps and strictly adhere to them. It will be absolutely imperative that we address the causes of our weaknesses by removing sticking points, areas of dispersion and duplication. Would we be unable to do what some other countries comparable to ours have done or are doing? I do not think so. We have talented, resourceful, well-trained and enterprising men, women and youth, who are capable of meeting these challenges. We have abundant and diverse natural resources as well as modern and democratic institutions. Our country is peaceful and stable. What then do we lack? I think we need to improve in two key areas: prioritizing general interest and coordinating our efforts. Though attached to our communities of origin – which does not prevent us from being fervent patriots whenever national honour is at stake – we are an individualistic people, more concerned with personal success than general interest. Our administration remains susceptible to private interest, which is most often in conflict with national interest. Such trends must not be tolerated in a modern state. At one stage of implementation or another, most of our major projects involve the skills of various services. I am not sure that there has been effective coordination between them. Clearly, therefore, there is a need for improvement in this regard. My dear compatriots, I would now like to draw your attention to a problem that has reached disturbing proportions in recent months – that of insecurity in our country. Not long ago, we were striving to overcome “ordinary” insecurity. Simply put, we fought minor and organized crime in urban areas and “highway robbers” in remote rural areas. For some time now, a new form of crime referred to as cross-border crime has reached a worrying scale, particularly in the northern and eastern parts of the country. This has been brought about by the presence around our borders of armed bands, driven by extremist ideologies and lured by profit. They do not hesitate to cross over to our territory where they commit various atrocities. This phenomenon is not entirely new. However, it has witnessed a fresh upsurge as not long ago there was an attack in Kette Subdivision in the eastern part of our country. Elite units have been deployed to the area to check such incursions. Over the months, in the Far North, such criminals have kidnapped foreign nationals for ransom. Memories of the abduction of the French family MOULIN-FOURNIER are still fresh. Thanks to our cooperation with the Nigerian authorities and French services, we were able to secure their release. More recently, a French priest was manhandled and taken to Nigeria. I strongly condemn such unspeakable acts perpetrated in the quest for gain against defenceless persons, including children. Of course, we are doing our best to prevent and combat such acts, and we will not relent. I congratulate the élite units ensuring security in these areas and urge the local population to cooperate with them as necessary. For some time now, terrorism has also become rife at sea. Its motivations are mainly financial, but the methods have not changed. They consist in inspecting ships to loot the contents and kidnapping crew members for ransom. Cameroon has witnessed this in its maritime space. The phenomenon has expanded to the entire Gulf of Guinea, such that the maritime trade of countries located in this area is being compromised. There was a first response at the Summit on Maritime Security and Safety in the Gulf of Guinea, held in Yaounde last 25 and 26 June. It is clear that, whether on land or at sea, security, which is first and foremost a national issue, also has a collective and even international dimension. It should not be underestimated. Where it is not guaranteed, anarchy settles in, abuses become rife, economic and social progress grinds to a halt. Examples of such forms of breakdown in societal values, unfortunately, abound in our continent and even in our immediate external vicinity. While it is true that the affected areas of our territory are very limited, we remain on the alert. Our security forces on the ground can intervene at any time. This is an opportunity for me to stress that each one of us must be aware of the benefits of living in a stable country where institutions are functioning normally, where the security of people and property is guaranteed, and where every citizen can nurse hopes of a better life. The current situation in the Central African Republic demonstrates the possible consequences of instability and disorder. Massacre, looting and displacement have become the order of the day in that brotherly and friendly country. It was the duty of, and an honour for, Cameroonian troops to participate in the operations of the multinational force aimed at restoring security and protecting people within the territory of our immediate neighbour. My dear compatriots, We are somewhat at a crossroads. Growth is within our reach; our budget is viable; our public debt is sustainable; in short, our economic and financial situation gives us every reason to hope for prosperity. -It is either we take the easy road by postponing reforms, in which case in 10 or 20 years time we shall have had such a cumulative delay that we can hardly meet the needs of our people. -Or we set high goals for ourselves, and adopt strict collective discipline, in which case we will embark resolutely on economic emergence. I suggest that we adopt the latter option, that of sacrifice and courage. At a time when we are beginning to see many concrete signs of our democratic, economic and social progress, I invite you to embrace a new spirit of patriotism. I believe we can do a lot better. I am not asking for your sweat, or blood, or tears; rather, I am merely urging you to commit yourself wholeheartedly to this new phase of our Grand National plan. At the dawn of this New Year, I would like, on behalf of you all, to address our Indomitable Lions. Dear Indomitable Lions, You have qualified for the final phase of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. We want you to follow in the footsteps of your illustrious predecessors of the glorious campaigns in Spain in 1982 and Italy in 1990. Give us a thrill once again. The Cameroonian people are with you. To conclude, I am pleased to announce the release of Father Georges Vandenbeusch. Thanks to the action of our services, backed by Nigerian and French authorities, this priest, so devoted to his mission, has been freed today. My dear compatriots, I would now like to extend to you all, my best wishes for good health and happiness in the New Year. Happy and Prosperous New Year 2014! CRTV]]>

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“Let’s Work For national unity, peace, stability and progress” –Jonathan Urges Nigerians In New Year Message
January 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Goodluck JonathanI greet and felicitate with you all as we enter the year 2014 which promises to be a momentous one for our country for several reasons, including the fact that it is also the year of our great nation’s centenary celebrations. I join you all in giving thanks to God Almighty for guiding us and our beloved nation safely through all the challenges of the outgoing year to the beginning of 2014. Exactly 100 years ago today, on January 1, 1914, the British Colonial authorities amalgamated what was then the separate Protectorates of Southern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria, giving birth to the single geopolitical entity known as Nigeria.  For us therefore, today is not just the beginning of a new year, but the end of a century of national existence and the beginning of another. It is a moment for sober reflection and for pride in all that is great about Nigeria. Whatever challenges we may have faced, whatever storms we may have confronted and survived, Nigeria remains a truly blessed country, a country of gifted men and women who continue to distinguish themselves in all spheres of life, a country whose diversity remains a source of strength.  We pay tribute today, as always to our founding fathers and mothers, and all the heroes and heroines whose toil and sweat over the century made this country what it is today. As I noted, a few days ago, the amalgamation of 1914 was certainly not a mistake but a blessing.  As we celebrate 100 years of nationhood, we must resolve to continue to work together as one, united people, to make our country even greater. I assure you that our administration remains fully committed to the progressive development of our country and the consolidation of peace, unity and democratic governance in our fatherland. Despite several continuing domestic and global challenges, for us in Nigeria, the year 2013 witnessed many positive developments which we will strive to build upon in 2014. We have diligently carried forward the purposeful and focused implementation of our agenda for national transformation in priority areas such as power, the rehabilitation and expansion of national infrastructure, agricultural development, education and employment generation. You may recall that our 2013 Budget was on the theme, “Fiscal Consolidation with Inclusive Growth”, and I emphasized the need for us to “remain prudent with our fiscal resources and also ensure that the Nigerian economy keeps growing and creating jobs”. I am pleased to report that we have stayed focused on this goal. Our national budget for 2014 which is now before the National Assembly is specifically targeted at job creation and inclusive growth. We are keenly aware that in spite of the estimated 1.6 million new jobs created across the country in the past 12 months as a result of our actions and policies, more jobs are still needed to support our growing population. Our economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of our economy. In 2013, we commenced implementation of the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) aimed at industrializing Nigeria and diversifying our economy into sectors such as agro-processing, light manufacturing, and petrochemicals. We have also negotiated a strong Common External Tariff (CET) agreement with our ECOWAS partners which would enable us to protect our strategic industries where necessary. I am pleased to note that as a result of our backward integration policies, Nigeria has moved from a country that produced 2 million metric tonnes of cement in 2002, to a country that now has a capacity of 28.5 million metric tonnes. For the first time in our history, we have moved from being a net importer of cement to a net exporter. Foreign direct investment into Nigeria has also been strong. In fact, for the second year running, the UN Conference on Trade and Development has named Nigeria as the number 1 destination for investments in Africa. We are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector and the results are evident. We have tackled corruption in the input distribution system as many farmers now obtain their fertilizers and seeds directly through an e-wallet system. In 2013, 4.2 million farmers received subsidized inputs via this programme. This scheme has restored dignity to our farmers. Last year we produced over 8 million metric tonnes of additional food; and this year, inflation fell to its lowest level since 2008 partly due to higher domestic food production. Our food import bill has also reduced from N1.1 trillion in 2011, to N648 billion in 2012, placing Nigeria firmly on the path to food self-sufficiency. The sector is also supporting more jobs. Last year, we produced 1.1 million metric tonnes of dry season rice across 10 Northern states; and over 250,000 farmers and youths in these States are now profitably engaged in farming even during the dry season. This Administration is also developing our water resources which are key for both our food production and job creation goals. In 2013, we completed the construction of nine dams which increased the volume of our water reservoirs by 422 million cubic metres.  Through our irrigation and drainage programme, we have increased the total irrigated area by over 31,000 hectares creating jobs for over 75,000 farming families while increasing production of over 400,000 metric tons of assorted irrigated food products. Fellow Compatriots, I have always believed that the single greatest thing we can do to ensure all Nigerians realize their potential and play a full part in our nation’s future, is to invest in education. The education of our young people is a key priority for this Government. We take this responsibility very seriously and I urge all other stakeholders in the sector to recognize the national importance of their work, and to help advance the cause of education in our nation. Between 2007 and 2013, we have almost tripled the allocation for education from N224 billion to N634 billion – and we will continue to vigorously support the sector. We have improved access to education in the country with the construction of 125 Almajiri schools, and the establishment of three additional Federal Universities in the North, bringing to twelve, the number of universities established by this administration. In 2013, we rehabilitated 352 laboratories and constructed 72 new libraries in the Federal Unity Schools; and also rehabilitated laboratories of all the 51 Federal and State polytechnics across the country. In the Health sector, we are building strong safety nets and improving access to primary health care under the Saving One Million Lives programme. In 2013, we recruited 11,300 frontline health workers who were deployed to under-served communities across the country. Over 400,000 lives have been saved through our various interventions. We have reached over 10,000 women and children with conditional cash transfer programmes across 8 States and the FCT and we intend to scale up this successful initiative. Our national immunization coverage has exceeded 80%. And for the first time in the history of the country there has not been any transmission of the Type-3 Wild Polio virus for more than one year. We have also eradicated the guinea worm that previously affected the lives of over 800,000 Nigerians yearly. In tertiary health care, we upgraded medical facilities across the country. Two of our teaching hospitals – the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, and the University College Hospital in Ibadan – commenced open heart surgeries this year after the installation of new facilities. Fellow Nigerians, I have dwelt on some of our administration’s achievements in 2013 to reassure you that we are working and results are being achieved on the ground. As we enter our Centennial year, there is still much work ahead. We are determined to sustain our strong macroeconomic fundamentals, to strengthen our domestic institutions, and to invest in priority sectors. These investments will create more jobs for our youth. Government will at the same time, continue to scale-up investments in safety nets and the MDGs to take care of the poor and the vulnerable so that they too can share in our growth and prosperity. In 2014, we will continue to prioritize investments in key sectors such as  infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation. In the past year, the Federal Government completed the privatization of four power generation companies and 10 power distribution companies. We are also in the process of privatizing 10 power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP). We shall boost investments in transmission to ensure power generated is properly evacuated and distributed. In this regard, we have already mobilized an additional $1.5 billion for the upgrade of the transmission network in 2014 and beyond.  Government will also strengthen regulation of the sector, and closely monitor electricity delivery to increase this beyond 18 hours per day. We will complete the privatization of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on our gas pipeline infrastructure and also continue to invest in hydro-electric power and clean energy as we monitor the effects of climate change on our economy. Our administration believes that the cost of governance in the country is still too high and must be further reduced. We will also take additional steps to stem the tide of corruption and leakages. We have worked hard to curb fraud in the administration of the pension system and the implementation of the petroleum subsidy scheme. We have introduced a Pensions Transition Arrangement Department under a new Director-General. This department will now ensure that those of our pensioners still under the old scheme receive their pensions and gratuities, and are not subjected to fraud. Prosecution of all those involved in robbing our retired people will continue. The Petroleum Subsidy Scheme is also now being operated under new strict guidelines to tackle previous leakages in the scheme and prevent fraud. Foreign travel by government personnel will be further curtailed. This directive shall apply to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government. Our strategy to curb leakages will increasingly rely on introducing the right technologies such as biometrics and digitizing government payments. I am therefore pleased to inform you that we shall complete the deployment of the three electronic platforms in 2014 – namely, the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) – which are all geared towards improving efficiency and transparency in our public finances. Through these reforms, we have already saved about N126 billion in leaked funds and intend to save more. To sustain Nigeria’s ongoing agricultural transformation, we have planned further investments in the sector. We will provide input subsidies to five million farmers nationwide using the e-wallet system.  This Administration recently launched a self-employment initiative under the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), called the Nagropreneur programme. This scheme would encourage our youth to go into commercial agriculture as entrepreneurs and we plan to develop over 750,000 young Nagropreneurs by 2015. We will also establish new agro-industrial clusters to complement the staple crop processing zones being developed across the country. In 2014, this Administration will continue to work with the private sector to improve financing in the agricultural sector. For example, we will launch the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) which will serve as a private equity fund to invest in agri-businesses across the country. Our Small and Medium scale enterprises (SMEs) will be the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization. We have about 17 million registered SMEs, and they employ over 32 million Nigerians. When our SMEs grow, more jobs will be created for our youth. Therefore, in 2014, this Administration will focus strongly on implementing the Nigeria Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) to address the needs of small businesses. Our interventions will include helping SMEs with access to affordable finance, business development services, and youth training. In addition, our new CET policies will enable us to support our emerging industries. We will also intensify our investment promotion efforts abroad, to ensure we bring the biggest and best companies from around the world to invest in Nigeria. JonathanDear Compatriots, the housing and construction industry is a critical sector in most developed economies. When the housing sector booms, it creates additional jobs for architects and masons, for electricians and plumbers, forpainters and interior decorators, and for those in the cement and furniture industries. Today, I am pleased to inform you that this Administration is reinvigorating our housing and construction sector. We have established the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) which will increase liquidity in the housing sector, provide a secondary market for mortgages, and thereby increase the number of people able to purchase or build homes at an affordable price in the country. In 2014, we will work in a number of pilot states where the State Governors have agreed to provide fast-track land titles, foreclosure arrangements, and serviced plots. This new institution will enable us to create over 200,000 mortgages over the next five years at affordable interest rates. In addition, those at the lower end of the economic ladder will not be left behind as this new initiative will expand mass housing schemes through a re-structured Federal Mortgage Bank and other institutions to provide rent-to-own and lease-to-own options. I am confident that very soon, many more hardworking Nigerian families will be able to realize their dream of owning a home. In this our centenary year, we will continue our efforts, through the Saving One Million Lives initiative to strengthen primary health care services. We will scale up interventions in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition, routine immunization, HIV/AIDS, malaria elimination, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and non-communicable diseases. We will pay greater attention to the provision of universal health coverage. Besides the implementation of new initiatives such as my comprehensive response plan for HIV/AIDS, we shall continue to collaborate with global health partners to deliver our health sector transformation agenda. I am glad that the issues responsible for the long-drawn ASUU strike have been resolved and our children are returning to their campuses. We are committed to making our tertiary institutions true centers of learning for our young people. We will therefore focus on upgrading hostels, laboratories, classrooms, and halls.  As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approaches, we will continue to expand access to basic education for all Nigerian children. Working with State Governments, we shall decisively tackle the problem of the large numbers of out-of-school children in this country. We will also invest in technical and vocational education to promote skills development for our youth across the country. Nigerian entrepreneurs still lack access to affordable financing, with medium-to-long-term tenors. To address this gap, a new wholesale development finance institution will be established in 2014 to provide medium-to long-term financing for Nigerian businesses. We are working with partners such as the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank, the BNDES Bank in Brazil, and KfW in Germany, to realize this project. Our existing Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry will be re-structured as specialized institutions to retail financing from this new wholesale development bank. In addition to the foregoing, our administration will also do all within its powers to ensure the success of the forthcoming National Conference. The report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Conference is undergoing urgent review and the approved structure, guidelines and modalities for the conference will soon be published as a prelude to its commencement and expeditious conclusion. It remains our sincere hope and expectation that the success of the national conference will further enhance national unity, peace and cohesion as we move ahead to the 2015 general elections.   In keeping with our avowed commitment to progressively enhancing the credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process by consistently upholding the principle of one man, one vote, our Administration will also ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) receives all required support to ensure that it is adequately prepared for the next general elections. As peace and security remain prerequisite conditions for the full realization of our objectives, we will also do more in 2014 to further empower our security agencies who are working in collaborative partnerships with our friends in the international community to stem the scourge of terrorism in our country and enhance the security of lives and property in all parts of Nigeria. The allocation of over N600 Billion to Defence and Policing in the 2014 Budget attests to this commitment. Fellow compatriots, the task of making our dear nation a much better place for present and future generations cannot be left to government alone. I therefore urge you all to be ready and willing to do more this year to support the implementation of the Federal Government’s Agenda for National Transformation in every possible way. Let us all therefore resolve as we celebrate the new year, and Nigeria’s Centenary, to place the higher interests of national unity, peace, stability and progress above all other considerations and work harder in our particular fields of human endeavour to contribute more significantly to the attainment of our collective aspirations. I urge all Nigerians, no matter their stations in life, to rededicate themselves to contributing meaningfully to further enrich our national heritage. The time for that re-dedication is now, not tomorrow. I wish you all a happy and rewarding 2014. God bless Nigeria. Happy New Year  ]]>

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2014 is for wealth creation, development — Museveni
January 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Uganda and the neighbouring countries near the coast. I must salute President Uhuru Kenyatta because, in the short time he has been in office, he has already reduced the days it takes a container from Mombasa to Kampala from 24 to only three days. The Kenya Government is also investing in a modern railway (standard gauge). We are going to do the same in respect of the railway — build a standard gauge railway system to Gulu-Nimule and to Kasese-Kabaale. On the issue of road transport, as you can all see, there is a vast amount of work of tarmacking many roads or re-tarmacking the old ones. Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara is either finished or about to be finished. Mbarara-Ntungamo-Kabale-Katuna is being worked on. Bwaise-Kafu has been rehabilitated. Kafu-Karuma- Gulu is either being worked on or they are about to start working on certain sections. Mbale-Tororo and Mbale-Soroti is being worked on. Arua-Oraba and Gulu-Atiak-Bibia are being tarmacked. Mbarara-Isingiro and Ishaka-Kagamba are being tarmacked, Fort-Portal-Bundibugyo has been tarmacked, Kampala- Mityana has been completed. Kabaale-Kisoro-Bunagana-Cyanika has been completed. Only the other day, I launched the tarmacking of Moroto-Nakapiripirit. There is a very long list of roads that we are about to start tarmacking, including Mpigi-Sembabule, Mukono-Katosi and many, many others whose list has been previously published Those three: the electricity, the railway and the roads, are so crucial that if you do not deal with them, the economy will never be transformed. Why? This is because, as I have told you repeatedly, they influence greatly the costs of production, the costs of doing business, in an economy. With these three undone, it is impossible to industrialise and attract other businesses (services). Why had we not dealt with the three decisively before? We have tried very much to deal with these three. However, when we over-depended on aid, we could not deal with them decisively because that aid was never enough and the little that came in never came on time. We could, therefore, never make a decisive impact on these three. With a little bit of our own money, our tax collection having gone from sh5b in 1986 to sh9,000b today, we are able to tackle some of these three, provided we discipline ourselves in terms of expenditure — limit consumption and emphasise productive investment. We now have many road projects for tarmacking. This has never happened before. The roads being worked on or about to be tarmacked total to 3,012km. To give an example, which I am sure all of you who drive vehicles must be aware of, if you drive a station wagon four-wheel drive from Kampala to Mbarara (283 km) at the speed of 80km -120km per hour, you will use 50 litres one way to Mbarara if the road is smooth as it is beginning to be. If, on the other hand, the road is bad, you may go up to 60 litres for the same distance. In terms of money, this would mean an extra sh35,000 per trip — sh70,000 for the round trip — to Mbarara from Kampala and back. This is just a simple illustration of how poor infrastructure quickly translates into higher costs for everybody — producers and consumers. This figure does not include the damage of the vehicle. While the Government is winning the struggle for infrastructure, the entirety of the people of Uganda must, universally, immerse themselves in the struggle for the creation of wealth at the household level. All the rural households that have land must do so through commercialised agriculture. We have been talking about this ever since 1995. The idea of a four acres minimum plan for those homesteads that have land: an acre of coffee, an acre of fruits (oranges, mangoes or pine-apples), an acre of bananas for food and an acre of elephant grass as animal pasture for mini-diary establishments. In the backyard of homes, you should rear pigs and poultry. If all the leaders could focus on this, the rural economy would change. Working with soldiers, we have been able to distribute five million seedlings of coffee, one million seedlings of tea and 350,000 seedlings of fruits, in just three months. Let all leaders oversee the money we have been putting in NAADS. We recently said that NAADS should be scaled down so that all the money that has been going for salaries of NAADS workers be stopped so that we concentrate on providing planting and breeding materials. The slogan in the coming year must be “development and wealth creating (maendeleo na maali)”. Each homestead must have wealth in the modern sense with commercial activities for money and food security. I thank all of you and wish you a happy and prosperous New Year Two Thousand and Fourteen. December 31, 2013 Rwakitura *Culled from in2east Africa]]>

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Communique Of The 23rd Extra-Ordinary Session Of The IGAD On The Situation In South Sudan
December 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

27th of December 2013

The IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government held its 23rd Extraordinary Summit in Nairobi, Kenya on 27th of December 2013, under the Chairmanship of H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Chairperson of the IGAD Summit to discuss the situation in the Republic of South Sudan.
The Assembly was attended by H.E. Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti; H. E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia; H. E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda; H.E. Bakri Hassan Saleh, First Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan; and H.E Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Sudan.
The Assembly was also attended by Ambassador (Eng.) Mahboub Maalim, the Executive Secretary of IGAD and Ambassador Erastus Mwencha, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The Summit received a briefing from the President of the Republic of Uganda on his country’s efforts in securing critical infrastructure and installations in the Republic of South Sudan as well as in evacuating its citizens.
The Summit further received a briefing from the Chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E. Tedros Adhanom on the emergency three-day visit to Juba, Republic of South Sudan by the IGAD Council of Ministers on 19th December 2013.
After consideration of the reports and its deliberations on the overall political and security situation in South Sudan,
The summit:
On South Sudan
1. Recalling the hope for freedom, justice and prosperity that the people of the Republic of South Sudan expressed with joy on 9th July 2011 on occasion of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan
2. Cognizant of the peace, security and development that has been achieved in the Republic of South Sudan since independence in the midst of various challenges
3. Noting with satisfaction the positive development between the brotherly countries of the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan and in that regard, commend H.E. President Omar Al-Bashir and H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit for their tireless efforts in bringing peace, security and prosperity to their two peoples.
4. Concerned by the unfortunate events that took place on the 15th of December 2013 and the subsequent escalation of the conflict and deterioration of the humanitarian situation;
5. Further Concerned about the reported widespread atrocities, deaths and displacement of civilian population;
6. Expressing their solidarity with the people of South Sudan at this hour of distress and tribulation;
7. Condemns all unconstitutional actions to challenge the constitutional order, democracy and the rule of law and in particularly condemns changing the democratic government of the Republic of South Sudan through use of force
8. Further Condemns the violent escalation of conflict in South Sudan and calls on all parties to refrain from steps that will inflame the conflict further particularly along ethnic and sectarian lines and particularly strongly condemns the bankrupt and opportunistic ideology of ethnic and religious sectarianism
9. Calls on all humanitarian actors to act quickly and provide all necessary assistance to all civilians and specifically calls on the government of South Sudan and all armed groups to open humanitarian corridors and ensure protection of civilian population;
10. Notes with satisfaction the IGAD Council of Ministers emergency visit of 19 December 2013 and the discussions with President Salva Kiir Mayardit and other stakeholders;
11. Commends the expressed commitment of both sides to engage in dialogue and reiterates the imperative of an immediate pursuit of a political solution including an all inclusive dialogue among all stakeholders concerned;
12. Commends the UN Security Council Resolution 2132 of 2013 which it notes as a prudent and timely move to complement ongoing political efforts in alleviating the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the country.
13. Commends the effort of the Republic of Uganda in securing critical infrastructure and installations in South Sudan and pledges its support to these effort;
14. Reaffirms the strong commitment of IGAD countries to assist in the pursuit of a speedy political solution to the crisis;
15. Made the following decisions: Stakeholders in the Republic of South Sudan:

  • • Welcomed the commitment by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan on immediately beginning unconditional dialogue with all stakeholders;
  • • Welcomed the commitment by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to an immediate cessation of hostilities and called upon Dr. Riek Machar and other parties to make similar commitments;
  • • Determined that if hostilities do not cease within 4 days of this communiqué, the Summit will consider taking further measures;
  • • Requested all parties to accept a monitoring, verification and stabilisation mechanism;
  • • Undertake urgent measures in pursuit of an all inclusive dialogue including reviewing the status of the detainees in recognition of their role in accordance with the laws of the Republic of South Sudan, and in creating a conducive environment for all stakeholders to participate and determines that face-to-face talks by all stakeholders in the conflict should occur by the 31st of December 2013;
  • • Ensure the protection of civilians and humanitarian workers including those from neighbouring countries;
  • • Strongly Condemns criminal acts of murder, sexual violence, looting and other criminal acts against civilians and unarmed combatants by any actor and demand that all involved by be held responsible by their de-facto and or de jure leaders
  • • Liaise with IGAD envoys and the Council of Ministers to support the process of dialogue and related political and technical reforms;

16. The United Nations, the African Union and the International Community to:

  • • Support the IGAD process;
  • • Ensure that humanitarian assistance is immediately delivered to all affected;
  • • Support constitutional and other political reforms in South Sudan;

17. IGAD Member States:

  • • Direct the Council of Ministers to continue working with the Government of South Sudan and make contact with Dr. Riek Machar and other leaders

critical to bringing about peace; and keep the Summit appraised;
18. Directs the IGAD Secretariat to transmit these decisions to the African Union Commission and the United Nations Security Council;
19. Decides to remain seized of these matters.
Issued this 27th of December 2013 at State House, Nairobi, Kenya

 

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President Jonathan replies Obasanjo; says ex-President’s letter threat to national security
December 23, 2013 | 1 Comments

December 20, 2013

His Excellency,

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR

Agbe L’Oba House, Quarry Road,

Ibara, Abeokuta.

RE: BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

I wish to formally acknowledge your letter dated December 2, 2013 and other previous correspondence similar to it.

You will recall that all the letters were brought to me by hand. Although both of us discussed some of the issues in those letters, I had not, before now, seen the need for any formal reply since, to me, they contained advice from a former President to a serving President. Obviously, you felt differently because in your last letter, you complained about my not acknowledging or replying your previous letters.

It is with the greatest possible reluctance that I now write this reply. I am most uneasy about embarking on this unprecedented and unconventional form of open communication between me and a former leader of our country because I know that there are more acceptable and dignified means of doing so.

But I feel obliged to reply your letter for a number of reasons: one, you formally requested for a reply and not sending you one will be interpreted as ignoring a former President.

Secondly, Nigerians know the role you have played in my political life and given the unfortunate tone of your letter, clearly, the grapes have gone sour.  Therefore, my side of the story also needs to be told.

The third reason why I must reply you in writing is that your letter is clearly a threat to national security as it may deliberately or inadvertently set the stage for subversion.

The fourth reason for this reply is that you raised very weighty issues, and since the letter has been made public, Nigerians are expressing legitimate concerns. A response from me therefore, becomes very necessary.

The fifth reason is that this letter may appear in biographies and other books which political commentators on Nigeria’s contemporary politics may write. It is only proper for such publications to include my comments on the issues raised in your letter.

Sixthly, you are very unique in terms of the governance of this country. You were a military Head of State for three years and eight months, and an elected President for eight years. That means you have been the Head of Government of Nigeria for about twelve years. This must have, presumably, exposed you to a lot of information. Thus when you make a statement, there is the tendency for people to take it seriously.

The seventh reason is that the timing of your letter coincided with other vicious releases. The Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke of my “body language” encouraging corruption. A letter written to me by the CBN Governor alleging that NNPC, within a period of 19 months did not remit the sum of USD49.8 billion to the federation account, was also deliberately leaked to the public.

The eighth reason is that it appears that your letter was designed to incite Nigerians from other geopolitical zones against me and also calculated to promote ethnic disharmony. Worse still, your letter was designed to instigate members of our Party, the PDP, against me.

The ninth reason is that your letter conveys to me the feeling that landmines have been laid for me. Therefore, Nigerians need to have my response to the issues raised before the mines explode.

The tenth and final reason why my reply is inevitable is that you have written similar letters and made public comments in reference to all former Presidents and Heads of Government starting from Alhaji Shehu Shagari and these have instigated different actions and reactions. The purpose and direction of your letter is distinctly ominous, and before it is too late, my clarifications on the issues need to be placed on record.

Let me now comment on the issues you raised. In commenting I wish to crave your indulgence to compare what is happening now to what took place before.  This, I believe, will enable Nigerians see things in better perspective because we must know where we are coming from so as to appreciate where we now are, and to allow us clearly map out where we are going.

You raised concerns about the security situation in the country. I assure you that I am fully aware of the responsibility of government for ensuring the security of the lives and property of citizens. My Administration is working assiduously to overcome current national security challenges, the seeds of which were sown under previous administrations.  There have been some setbacks; but certainly there have also been great successes in our efforts to overcome terrorism and insurgency.

Those who continue to down-play our successes in this regard, amongst whom you must now be numbered, appear to have conveniently forgotten the depths to which security in our country had plunged before now.

At a stage, almost the entire North-East of Nigeria was under siege by insurgents. Bombings of churches and public buildings in the North and the federal capital became an almost weekly occurrence. Our entire national security apparatus seemed nonplussed and unable to come to grips with the new threat posed by the berthing of terrorism on our shores.

But my administration has since brought that very unacceptable situation under significant control. We have overhauled our entire national security architecture, improved intelligence gathering, training, funding, logistical support to our armed forces and security agencies, and security collaboration with friendly countries with very visible and positive results.

The scope and impact of terrorist operations have been significantly reduced and efforts are underway to restore full normalcy to the most affected North Eastern region and initiate a post-crisis development agenda, including a special intervention programme to boost the region’s socio-economic progress.

In doing all this, we have kept our doors open for dialogue with the insurgents and their supporters through efforts such as the work of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and the Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the North-East. You also know that the Governor of Borno State provided the items you mentioned to me as carrots. Having done all this and more, it is interesting that you still accuse me of not acting on your hardly original recommendation that the carrot and stick option be deployed to solve the Boko Haram problem.

Your suggestion that we are pursuing a “war against violence without understanding the root causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all the underlying factors” is definitely misplaced because from the onset of this administration, we have been implementing a multifaceted strategy against militancy, insurgency and terrorism that includes poverty alleviation, economic development, education and social reforms.

Even though basic education is the constitutional responsibility of States, my administration has, as part of its efforts to address ignorance and poor education which have been identified as two of the factors responsible for making some of our youth easily available for use as cannon fodder by insurgents and terrorists, committed huge funds to the provision of modern basic education schools for the Almajiri in several Northern States. The Federal Government under my leadership has also set up nine additional universities in the Northern States and three in the Southern States in keeping with my belief that proper education is the surest way of emancipating and empowering our people.

More uncharitable persons may even see a touch of sanctimoniousness in your new belief in the carrot and stick approach to overcoming militancy and insurgency. You have always referred to how you hit Odi in Bayelsa State to curb militancy in the Niger Delta.  If the invasion of Odi by the Army was the stick, I did not see the corresponding carrot.  I was the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State then, and as I have always told you, the invasion of Odi did not solve any militancy problem but, to some extent, escalated it. If it had solved it, late President Yar’Adua would not have had to come up with the amnesty program. And while some elements of the problem may still be there, in general, the situation is reasonably better.

In terms of general insecurity in the country and particularly the crisis in the Niger Delta, 2007 was one of the worst periods in our history. You will recall three incidents that happened in 2007 which seemed to have been orchestrated to achieve sinister objectives.  Here in Abuja, a petrol tanker loaded with explosives was to be rammed into the INEC building. But luckily for the country, an electric pole stopped the tanker from hitting the INEC building.  It is clear that this incident was meant to exploit the general sense of insecurity in the nation at the time to achieve the aim of stopping the 2007 elections.  It is instructive that you, on a number of occasions, alluded to this fact.

When that incident failed, an armed group invaded Yenagoa one evening with the intent to assassinate me.  Luckily for me, they could not.  They again attacked and bombed my country home on a night when I was expected in the village. Fortunately, as God would have it, I did not make the trip.

I recall that immediately after both incidents, I got calls expressing the concern of Abuja.  But Baba, you know that despite the apparent concern of Abuja, no single arrest was ever made. I was then the Governor of Bayelsa State and the PDP Vice-Presidential candidate. The security people ordinarily should have unraveled the assassination attempt on me.

You also raised the issues of kidnapping, piracy and armed robbery. These are issues all Nigerians, including me are very concerned about. While we will continue to do our utmost best to reduce all forms of criminality to the barest minimum in our country, it is just as well to remind you that the first major case of kidnapping for ransom took place around 2006. And the Boko Haram crisis dates back to 2002. Goodluck Jonathan was not the President of the country then. Also, armed robbery started in this country immediately after the civil war and since then, it has been a problem to all succeeding governments.  For a former Head of Government, who should know better, to present these problems as if they were creations of the Jonathan Administration is most uncharitable.

Having said that, let me remind you of some of the things we have done to curb violent crime in the country. We have reorganized the Nigerian Police Force and appointed a more dynamic leadership to oversee its affairs. We have also improved its manpower levels as well as funding, training and logistical support.

We have also increased the surveillance capabilities of the Police and provided its air-wing with thrice the number of helicopters it had before the inception of the present administration. The National Civil Defence and Security Corps has been armed to make it a much more effective ally of the police and other security agencies in the war against violent crime. At both domestic and international levels, we are doing everything possible to curb the proliferation of the small arms and light weapons with which armed robberies, kidnappings and piracy are perpetrated. We have also enhanced security at our borders to curb cross-border crimes.

We are aggressively addressing the challenge of crude oil theft in collaboration with the state Governors. In addition, the Federal Government has engaged the British and US governments for their support in the tracking of the proceeds from the purchase of stolen crude. Similarly, a regional Gulf of Guinea security strategy has been initiated to curb crude oil theft and piracy.

Perhaps the most invidious accusation in your letter is the allegation that I have placed over one thousand Nigerians on a political watch list, and that I am training snipers and other militia to assassinate people. Baba, I don’t know where you got that from but you do me grave injustice in not only lending credence to such baseless rumours, but also publicizing it. You mentioned God seventeen times in your letter. Can you as a Christian hold the Bible and say that you truly believe this allegation?

Goodluck-Jonathan-and-Obasanjo-360x225The allegation of training snipers to assassinate political opponents is particularly incomprehensible to me. Since I started my political career as a Deputy Governor, I have never been associated with any form of political violence. I have been a President for over three years now, with a lot of challenges and opposition mainly from the high and mighty. There have certainly been cases of political assassination since the advent of our Fourth Republic, but as you well know, none of them occurred under my leadership.

Regarding the over one thousand people you say are on a political watch list, I urge you to kindly tell Nigerians who they are and what agencies of government are “watching” them. Your allegation that I am using security operatives to harass people is also baseless. Nigerians are waiting for your evidence of proof. That was an accusation made against previous administrations, including yours, but it is certainly not my style and will never be. Again, if you insist on the spurious claim that some of your relatives and friends are being harassed, I urge you to name them and tell Nigerians what agencies of my administration are harassing them.

I also find it difficult to believe that you will accuse me of assisting murderers, or assigning a presidential delegation to welcome a murderer. This is a most unconscionable and untrue allegation. It is incumbent on me to remind you that I am fully conscious of the dictates of my responsibilities to God and our dear nation. It is my hope that devious elements will not take advantage of your baseless allegation to engage in brazen and wanton assassination of high profile politicians as before, hiding under the alibi your “open letter” has provided for them.

Nevertheless, I have directed the security agencies and requested the National Human Rights Commission to carry out a thorough investigation of these criminal allegations and make their findings public.

That corruption is an issue in Nigeria is indisputable.  It has been with us for many years. You will recall that your kinsman, the renowned afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti famously sang about it during your first stint as Head of State. Sonny Okosun also sang about corruption. And as you may recall, a number of Army Generals were to be retired because of corruption before the Dimka coup.  Also, the late General Murtala Mohammed himself wanted to retire some top people in his cabinet on corruption-related issues before he was assassinated.  Even in this Fourth Republic, the Siemens and Halliburton scandals are well known.

The seed of corruption in this country was planted a long time ago, but we are doing all that we can to drastically reduce its debilitating effects on national development and progress. I have been strengthening the institutions established to fight corruption. I will not shield any government official or private individual involved in corruption, but I must follow due process in all that I do. And whenever clear cases of corruption or fraud have been established, my administration has always taken prompt action in keeping with the dictates of extant laws and procedures. You cannot claim to be unaware of the fact that several highly placed persons in our country, including sons of some of our party leaders are currently facing trial for their involvement in the celebrated subsidy scam affair. I can hardly be blamed if the wheels of justice still grind very slowly in our country, but we are doing our best to support and encourage the judiciary to quicken the pace of adjudication in cases of corruption.

Baba, I am amazed that with all the knowledge garnered from your many years at the highest level of governance in our country, you could still believe the spurious allegation contained in a letter written to me by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and surreptitiously obtained by you, alleging that USD49.8 billion, a sum equal to our entire national budget for two years, is “unaccounted for” by the NNPC. Since, as President, you also served for many years as Minister of Petroleum Resources, you very well know the workings of the corporation. It is therefore intriguing that you have made such an assertion. You made a lot of insinuations about oil theft, shady dealings at the NNPC and the NNPC not remitting the full proceeds of oil sales to the of CBN. Now that the main source of the allegations which you rehashed has publicly stated that he was “misconstrued”, perhaps you will find it in your heart to apologize for misleading unwary Nigerians and impugning the integrity of my administration on that score.

Your claim of “Atlantic Oil loading about 130, 000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into the NPDC account” is also disjointed and baseless because no such arrangement as you described exists between Atlantic Oil and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company. NPDC currently produces about 138, 000 barrels of oil per day from over 7 producing assets. The Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of the NNPC markets all of this production on behalf of NPDC with proceeds paid into NPDC account.

I am really shocked that with all avenues open to you as a former Head of State for the verification of any information you have received about state affairs, you chose to go public with allegations of “high corruption” without offering a shred of supporting evidence. One of your political “sons” similarly alleged recently that he told me of a minister who received a bribe of $250 Million from an oil company and I did nothing about it. He may have been playing from a shared script, but we have not heard from him again since he was challenged to name the minister involved and provide the evidence   to back his claim.  I urge you, in the same vein, to furnish me with the names, facts and figures of a single verifiable case of the “high corruption” which you say stinks all around my administration and see whether the corrective action you advocate does not follow promptly. And while you are at it, you may also wish to tell Nigerians the true story of questionable waivers of signature bonuses between 2000 and 2007.

While, by the Grace of God Almighty, I am the first President from a minority group, I am never unmindful of the fact that I was elected leader of the whole of Nigeria and I have always acted in the best interest of all Nigerians. You referred to the divisive actions and inflammatory utterances of some individuals from the South-South and asserted that I have done nothing to call them to order or distance myself from their ethnic chauvinism. Again that is very untrue. I am as committed to the unity of this country as any patriot can be and I have publicly declared on many occasions that no person who threatens other Nigerians or parts of the country is acting on my behalf.

It is very regrettable that in your letter, you seem to place sole responsibility for the ongoing intrigues and tensions in the PDP at my doorstep, and going on from that position, you direct all your appeals for a resolution at me. Baba, let us all be truthful to ourselves, God and posterity. At the heart of all the current troubles in our party and the larger polity is the unbridled jostling and positioning for personal or group advantage ahead of the 2015 general elections. The “bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion” you wrote about all flow from this singular factor.

It is indeed very unfortunate that the seeming crisis in the party was instigated by a few senior members of the party, including you. But, as leader of the party, I will continue to do my best to unite it so that we can move forward with strength and unity of purpose. The PDP has always recovered from previous crises with renewed vigour and vitality. I am very optimistic that that will be the case again this time. The PDP will overcome any temporary setback, remain a strong party and even grow stronger.

Instigating people to cause problems and disaffection within the party is something that you are certainly familiar with. You will recall that founding fathers of the Party were frustrated out of the Party at a time.  Late Chief Sunday Awoniyi was pushed out, Late Chief Solomon Lar left and later came back, Chief Audu Ogbeh and Chief Tom Ikimi also left. Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo left and later came back. In 2005/2006, link-men were sent to take over party structures from PDP Governors in an unveiled attempt to undermine the state governors. In spite of that, the Governors did not leave the Party because nobody instigated and encouraged them to do so.

The charge that I was involved in anti-party activities in governorship elections in Edo, Ondo, Lagos, and Anambra States is also very unfortunate. I relate with all Governors irrespective of political party affiliation but I have not worked against the interest of the PDP.  What I have not done is to influence the electoral process to favour our Party. You were definitely never so inclined, since you openly boasted in your letter of how you supported Alhaji Shehu Shagari against Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe and others in the 1979 presidential elections while serving as a military Head of State. You and I clearly differ in this regard, because as the President of Nigeria, I believe it is my duty and responsibility to create a level playing field for all parties and all candidates.

Recalling how the PDP lost in states where we were very strong in 2003 and 2007 such as Edo, Ondo, Imo, Bauchi, Anambra, and Borno, longstanding members of our great party with good memory will also consider the charge of anti-party activities you made against me as misdirected and hugely hypocritical. It certainly was not Goodluck Jonathan’s “personal ambition or selfish interest” that caused the PDP to lose the governorship of Ogun State and all its senatorial seats in the last general elections.

You quoted me as saying that I have not told anybody that I will seek another term in office in 2015. You and your ambitious acolytes within the party have clearly decided to act on your conclusion that “only a fool will believe that statement” and embark on a virulent campaign to harass me out of an undeclared candidature for the 2015 presidential elections so as to pave the way for a successor anointed by you.

You will recall that you serially advised me that we should refrain from discussing the 2015 general elections for now so as not to distract elected public officials from urgent task of governance. While you have apparently moved away from that position, I am still of the considered opinion that it would have been best for us to do all that is necessary to refrain from heating up the polity at this time. Accordingly, I have already informed Nigerians that I will only speak on whether or not I will seek a second term when it is time for such declarations. Your claims about discussions I had with you, Governor Gabriel Suswam and others are wrong, but in keeping with my declared stance, I will reserve further comments until the appropriate time.

Your allegation that I asked half a dozen African Presidents to speak to you about my alleged ambition for 2015, is also untrue.  I have never requested any African President to discuss with you on my behalf.  In our discussion, I mentioned to you that four Presidents told me that they were concerned about the political situation in Nigeria and intended to talk to you about it.  So far, only three of them have confirmed to me that they have had any discussion with you. If I made such a request, why would I deny it?

The issue of Buruji Kashamu is one of those lies that should not be associated with a former President.  The allegation that I am imposing Kashamu on the South-West is most unfortunate and regrettable.  I do not even impose Party officials in my home state of Bayelsa and there is no zone in this country where I have imposed officials.  So why would I do so in the South West?  Baba, in the light of Buruji’s detailed public response to your “open letter”, it will be charitable for you to render an apology to Nigerians and I.

On the issue of investors being scared to come to Nigeria, economic dormancy, and stagnation, I will just refer you to FDI statistics from 2000 to 2013. Within the last three years, Nigeria has emerged as the preferred destination for investments in Africa, driven by successful government policies to attract foreign investors. For the second year running, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Investments (UNCTAD) has ranked Nigeria as the number one destination for investments in Africa, and as having the fourth highest returns in the world.

Today, Nigeria is holding 18 percent of all foreign investments in Africa and 60 percent of all foreign investments in the ECOWAS Sub-Region. Kindly note also that in the seven years between 2000 and 2007 when you were President, Nigeria attracted a total of $24.9 Billion in FDI.  As a result of our efforts which you disparage, the country has seen an FDI inflow of $25.7 Billion in just three years which is more than double the FDI that has gone to the second highest African destination. We have also maintained an annual national economic growth rate of close to seven per cent since the inception of this administration. What then, is the justification for your allegation of scared investors and economic dormancy?

Although it was not emphasized in your letter of December 2, 2013, you also conveyed, in previous correspondence, the impression that you were ignorant of the very notable achievements of my administration in the area of foreign relations. It is on record that under my leadership, Nigeria has played a key role in resolving the conflicts in Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea Bissau and others.

The unproductive rivalry that existed between Nigeria and some ECOWAS countries has also been ended under my watch and Nigeria now has better relations with all the ECOWAS countries.  At the African Union, we now have a Commissioner at the AU Commission after being without one for so long. We were in the United Nations Security Council for the 2010/2011 Session and we have been voted in again for the 2014/2015 Session. From independence to 2010, we were in the U.N. Security Council only three times but from 2010 to 2015, we will be there two times.

download (5)This did not happen by chance.  My Administration worked hard for it and we continue to maintain the best possible relations with all centres of global political and economic power. I find it hard therefore, to believe your assertions of untoward concern in the international community over the state of governance in Nigeria

With respect to the Brass and Olokola LNG projects, you may have forgotten that though you started these projects, Final Investment Decisions were never reached.  For your information, NNPC has not withdrawn from either the Olokola or the Brass LNG projects.

On the Rivers State Water Project, you were misled by your informant. The Federal Government under my watch has never directed or instructed the Africa Development Bank to put on hold any project to be executed in Rivers state or any other State within the Federation. The Rivers Water Project was not originally in the borrowing plan but it was included in April 2013 and appraised in May. Negotiations are ongoing with the AfDB.  I have no doubt that you are familiar with the entire process that prefaces the signing of a Subsidiary Loan Agreement as in this instance.

Let me assure you and all Nigerians that I do not engage in negative political actions and will never, as President, oppress the people of a State or deprive them of much needed public services as a result of political disagreement

I have noted your comments on the proposed National Conference. Contrary to the insinuation in your letter, the proposed conference is aimed at bringing Nigerians together to resolve contentious national issues in a formal setting. This is a sure way of promoting greater national consensus and unity, and not a recipe for “disunity, confusion and chaos” as you alleged in your letter.

Having twice held the high office of President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I trust that you will understand that I cannot possibly find the time to offer a line-by-line response to all the accusations and allegations made in your letter while dealing with other pressing demands of office and more urgent affairs of state.

I have tried, however, to respond to only the most serious of the charges which question my sincerity, personal honour, and commitment to the oath which I have sworn, to always uphold and protect the interests of all Nigerians, and promote their well-being.

In closing, let me state that you have done me grave injustice with your public letter in which you wrongfully accused me of deceit, deception, dishonesty, incompetence, clannishness, divisiveness and insincerity, amongst other ills.

I have not, myself, ever claimed to be all-knowing or infallible, but I have never taken Nigeria or Nigerians for granted as you implied, and I will continue to do my utmost to steer our ship of state towards the brighter future to which we all aspire.

Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration and warm regards.

GOODLUCK  EBELE JONATHAN

*Obtained from Premium Times Nigeria

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Kagame Tells Critics Rwanda Not Exporting DR Congo Minerals
December 18, 2013 | 0 Comments
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President Paul Kagame on Monday told the nation that rising revenue from minerals exports was a result of minerals mined inside Rwanda – as he moved to dismiss long standing accusations that the country was benefiting from the mineral wealth of its neighbor DR Congo.

Speaking at Parliament in the 2013 State of the Nation address, Kagame said in the first six months of this year Rwf 30billion has been obtained from minerals. This amount, the President said, is way above compared to Rwf 39billion ($136.6m) earned for the whole of 2012.

“And mind you all these minerals being exported are from within Rwanda, not from anywhere else as has been suggested,” said Kagame, amid laughter from the packed joint session of parliament.  He did not name any country, but said “our neighbours”.

“You can imagine what the figure would be if the minerals perceived to be from our neighbours would be included,” said Kagame.

“Rwanda is making good use of its mineral wealth, and we would actually like to see even our neighbours benefiting more from theirs,” added the President.

In the 40-min address, Kagame spoke about all the sectors of the country – telling lawmakers that the country was on the right track.

He said more than 86% women are giving birth in hospital, while child mortality of under-fives dropped tremendously. To date, 95% of children have been immunized against the 12 major diseases. “We want to decrease malaria deaths from 5.5% to zero within five years,” said Kagame.

On education, the President said the number of students going to school increased by 7% in primary school, and 6% for secondary school. As for university – the figure expanded by 10 percent, from 76,629 students last year to 84,448 this year.

As for vocational training, which is being emphasized by to deal with unemployment, the President said the government has put more resources in TVET – with budget allocation increasing from Rwf 10.5 billion to Rwf 30.5 billion this year.

On security, President Kagame informed the nation that the entire territory of Rwanda was extremely secure – a situation that had been highlighted by even international bodies. The President was referring to a Gallup research which said Rwanda was one of the safest places and much more when it came to security for women.

“All Rwandans and foreigners can conduct their businesses day and night without any incidence,” said the Head of State.

On social protection programs, the President said more programs are in the works to support the poorest. For the One Cow per Family (Gina Inka), the President said it continues to lift Rwandans out of poverty with 184,000 cows given this year. This is compared to the total of 300,000 cattle which were distributed the all the previous years combined.

Despite expressing satisfaction with the state of affairs in other sectors, the President openly told energy sector technocrats of his unhappiness with the current situation. The country is producing about 110MW of power – which has seen daily power cuts in the past weeks.

“I believe those responsible are listening,” said Kagame. “We want electricity quickly, quickly – there is no way we can meet all our ambitious development targets without electricity.”

The Head of State directed all government departments to ensure that the 20th genocide commemoration due in April and the 20th Liberation anniversary for July, be give the importance they deserve. All necessary efforts must be put in place to make sure Rwandans from all walks of life feel involved because these two events mark significant steps in the country’s development, said Kagame.

The President ended his annual address with the “Ndi Umunyarwanda” national program under which individual Rwandans are being encouraged to open up to others. The concept has seen people from the “Hutu” and “Tutsi” communities asking for forgiveness for what befell the country in 1994.

*Source News of Rwanda

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From The Archives: Kwame Nkrumah’s Message To African Journalists
November 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Patrick Delices*

Kwame Nkrumah on the role of African journalists

[From The Archives: Nkrumah And African Journalism]

Dr  NkrumahOne day after Malcolm X’s revolutionary “Message to the Grassroots” speech, Pan-African leader and the first President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah delivered a thoughtful and analytical speech to commence the “Second Conference of Africa Journalists.”

November 11, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of President Nkrumah’s “Message to African Journalists.”

This particular speech is worthy of our attention and commemoration because according to President Nkrumah, “the special significance of this gathering is that, it is the first conference of African Journalists since the Organization of African Unity was established at Addis Ababa in May this year. As such, it can do nothing less than fulfill the purpose of a continental press conference on the Unity of Africa.”

In his inauguration of the “Second Conference of Africa Journalists,” President Nkrumah, affectionately known as Osagyefo (Twi word for Redeemer), showed his love and reverence for the field of journalism by stating “it is not simply out of courtesy that I am here to open this Conference of African Journalists. Most of you will know that I come to speak to you with a particular sense of pleasure as an old journalist who can still be excited by the smell of the printer’s ink and the clatter of the printing machine.”

In regards to the African role in journalism, Osagyefo, informed the audience -

 “If we interpret journalism as the dissemination of news and the clarion to action, then journalism is certainly not new to Africa. From time immemorial, we have developed our own special system of transmitting news and messages across the country, from village to village, from community to community; we have devised our peculiar means of gathering our people together and putting problems before them for decision.”

Additionally, Osagyefo stated that “the talking drums and the courier have been the harbingers of news. From the days of the drum, we have accepted as an inexorable canon that the news which was transmitted should be true and the information conveyed accurate and reliable. For, the safety and the lives of many people might depend upon it.”

Then Osagyefo in his au fait regarding the history and contributions of African journalism enlightened the eager crowd by indicating the following point:

“Indigenous newspapers in West Africa have at least a hundred years of history behind them. In 1858, only fourteen years after the Bond of 1844 and before the Gold Coast had been annexed as a definitive colony of Great Britain, the West African Herald was edited by Charles Bannerman, a son of the soil. About the same time, John Tengo Jabavu was editing the IMVO in South Africa. In Nigeria, the basic ideas of modern nationalism were developed by John Payne Jackson from 1891, in his journal, The Lagos Weekly Record. James Brew in the Gold Coast of the 1870’s and 80’s, and J. E. Casely Hayford, a generation after, edited local nationalist papers; but they were restricted in their circulation to the few literate readers along the coast.”In North Africa, in 1930, L’Action Tunisienne was launched by Habib Bourgiba, now President of Tunisia, and a group of his Neo Destour party members. In the Ivory Coast in 1935, the journal L’Eclaireur had an immense success in African circles. It led a campaign against reactionary chiefs and colonialist oppression.

It demanded measures of social reconstruction and urged the cause of the unemployed and of the African farmers, who had been hit by the colonialist — made economic crisis. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s West African Pilot and the organ of the Convention People’s Party — the Accra Evening News in more recent years, led in the field of nationalist journalism. Wallace Johnson of Sierra Leone, with his West African Standard, did some ground work in trade union journalism.

The Africanist emerged as the custodian of South African nationalism in 1953 and remained a revolutionary mouthpiece of the Africans of South Africa. Its founder and first editor was Managaliso Sobukwe, President of the Pan-Africanist Congress of South Africa, who is now detained indefinitely on Robben Island after serving three years’ imprisonment for his part in the cause of freedom.

George Padmore, working outside Africa, but identifying himself completely with its struggles, carried on almost all of his adult life a tenacious fight for African nationalism and independence. His contributions to the press of Africa and to that of peoples of African descent in the West Indies and the United States; his widespread journalistic writings throughout the world, served as rallying point and inspiration to the leaders of African independence and the masses.”

For Osagyefo, the aim of this assembly is to simply empower African journalists with a Pan-African outlook and political consciousness.  Moreover, for President Nkrumah it is the responsibility of African journalists worldwide to serve as the fourth estate by maintaining active surveillance on government, corporations, and political and academic prostitutes.

Nkrumah with Dr KingAccording to President Nkrumah, as African journalists, it is our responsibility to use the highest standards, integrity, precision, and other ethical codes of journalistic conduct such as being factual without yielding to neo-colonialism, idealism, sensationalism, and plagiarism. Hence, for Osagyefo, plagiarism or not identifying your source is the greatest disrespect and crime in journalism which ultimately hurts the journalist’s credibility not only as a reporter or writer, but as a person not true to the global African cause of sovereignty and liberation.

Thus, one who plagiarizes or does not identify his or her source is not only unprofessional and repugnant, but is a criminal and traitor to his or her own people.  For Osagyefo, that person who engages in such an illicit enterprise cannot be trusted under any circumstance due to his or her treacherous disposition.

Osagyefo also informed the audience about the rigor, professionalism, and seriousness of journalism by stating the following:

“As a professional man, the African journalist shares with other journalists throughout the world, the duty of gathering information carefully and of disseminating it honestly. To tamper with the truth is treason to the human mind. By poisoning the well-springs of public opinion with falsehood, you defeat, in the long run, your own ends. Once a journal gains a reputation for even occasional unreliability or distortion, its value is destroyed.

It is no wonder, then, that for every decent or well-informed journal in a capitalist country, you have many more of the kind that concentrates on sensationalism and scandal; that cover up facts or, deny them; that manufacture news in order to mislead and corrupt. There are journals that employ special techniques of presentation in order to ensnare the minds not just of thousands, but of the millions that read them. Every mean, both subtle and raw, are used to maintain sway over the minds of men, and thus secure and hold their support in the continued exploitation and suppression of the oppressed. Often they are led to concur in their own exploitation. They are enjoined against peace, they are maneuvered against freedom and right.

Unfortunately, some of these journals have made their way into our continent and are employing their influence to wean our people to ideas and ways of life that run counter to our image and our hopes. We must be vigilant against their penetration and their incitement. We must be careful not to take their falsities as models, either for our public or our journalists. For our African journalists have; different task, a higher responsibility, a greater objective, which demand a mould of quite another order.

Whether they are aware of it or not, they are misusing their talents and their opportunity in the interest of Africa’s enemies and against those of our people, our continent and our cause.

We who are fighting against colonialism and imperialism, we who are lighting against the blandishment of client states and settler governments in Africa, and are seeking to create a just society in which the welfare of each shall be the welfare of all, must stand against the methods of those whose journalism has precisely the opposite ends. We have nothing to gain by suppressing or distorting facts. Circulation of itself is not our first consideration; though obviously, we are anxious to reach and inform the widest possible audience.

But we have no wish to play upon the gullibility of that audience, for it is precisely to the interests of that audience that we are dedicated. And we can only promote those interests by self criticism and the faithful presentation of truth and fact.

The journalist who works faithfully for our African Revolution refuses to sell his soul to imperialism and to Moloch, and thus starts with an advantage over his colleagues of the imperialist and neo-colonialist press. His integrity, as long as he persists in this decision, is assured.

To the true African journalists, his newspaper is a collective organizer, a collective instrument of mobilization and a collective educator — a weapon, first and foremost, to over-throw colonialism and imperialism, and to assist total African independence and unity. 

The true African journalist, abjuring imperialist blandishments and bribes, can certainly call his soul his own.

His work may be more difficult because of deficiencies in the technical means of gathering information and the daily harassments that confront him; his remuneration may not be great and expense accounts non-existent. But he has other more satisfying rewards. He draws contentment from an honest job honestly done. His satisfaction is in his integrity, in work performed for the betterment of his fellows and the society of which he is a worthy member.

He does not need to peep through keyholes for scandals, or bribe underlings to divulge what should remain private and personal; he does not need to concoct for manufacture exciting revelations. He is not forced to doctor news and debase public standards to fit the purpose of the rich and the public would — be richer. I am reminded here that a British journalist friend of mine once told me that sometimes, the news items he sent to his paper in London were so doctored that he had difficulty in recognizing what he himself had written. The true African journalist very often works for the organ of the political party to which he himself belongs and in whose purpose he believes.

He works to serve a society moving in the direction of his own aspirations.


These are high rewards for an honest man in the course of his professional career. But they are not earned without corresponding responsibilities. Every African is responsible to the African Revolution by the heritage of his birth and by his experience of colonialism and imperialism.

The responsibilities of the journalist come particularly high in the hierarchy of our revolution; none higher, none more onerous, none more satisfying than those of an African journalist using his talents and his integrity in adverse and sacrificing conditions, not only in the cause of the freedom and independence of his country, but in the wider cause of the political unity and cultural and material development of the African continent, of which his country is a part.

Truth, we say, must be the watchword of our African journalists and facts must be his guide.

kwame-nkrumah-mausoleumThese tenets, however, must not excuse dullness in our newspapers and our journals. They must not be used as a cover for shoddy writing and ambiguous intentions. The African journalist is not only expected to communicate the facts and aims of our African Revolution, but to do so compellingly and without fear. He must continually and fearlessly expose neo-colonialist subterfuge. He must attain a proper understanding of the African Revolution, its purpose and its travails.”

Like Malcolm X in his “Message to the Grassroots,” President Nkrumah clearly identified a common enemy and echoed the high volume call for unity, revolution, sovereignty, and power within the global African community by using journalism and “any means necessary” to expose and vanquish global white supremacy and its neo-colonialist prostitutes.

*Source BSN Professor Patrick Delices is a political analyst/commentator for the Black Star News and the author of “The Digital Economy,” Journal of International Affairs. For nearly a decade, Prof. Delices has taught Africana Studies at Hunter College. He also served as a research fellow for the late Pulitzer Prize recipient, Dr. Manning Marable at Columbia University.

 

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After win in DRC, a confident new Tanzania emerges on the East African stage
November 11, 2013 | 0 Comments
Basking in the glow of one of his country’s best diplomatic weeks in recent times Kikwete takes on Museveni, Kagame and Uhuru over Coalition of the Willing. TEA Graphic

Basking in the glow of one of his country’s best diplomatic weeks in recent times Kikwete takes on Museveni, Kagame and Uhuru over Coalition of the Willing. TEA Graphic

Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete is basking in the glow of one of his country’s best diplomatic weeks in recent times.

When Tanzania offered to send its military as the lead contingent of the new, aggressive UN Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there were fears it would join the long list of external forces and adventurers who have ended up in eastern DRC’s bottomless political graveyard.

However, just over a week ago, the UN forces and the Congolese army (FARDC) seemed to have handed the M23 rebels a comprehensive defeat.

That not only bolstered Tanzania internationally, but could only have improved its standing in the South African Development Community (SADC). The two other key troop contributing countries to FIB are both SADC members — South Africa and Malawi.

It is no coincidence that after the M23 scattered, South African President Jacob Zuma held a summit to discuss, among other things, DRC peace.

A controversial UN Panel of Experts and groups like Human Rights Watch have accused Rwanda and Uganda of backing M23 rebels, a charge both countries have denied.

By last week, however, analysts were acknowledging that M23 would not have been so quickly beaten if indeed Rwanda were still supporting it.

Some feared that events in DRC would increase tensions between the East African Community countries.

In the past four months, Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Paul Kagame of Rwanda have had a hectic schedule of meetings at which they announced ambitious regional projects, and even moved quickly on establishing a common tourist visa, and a Single Customs Territory among other initiatives.

Tanzania and Burundi have not been invited, and there were fears the divide between the Coalition of the Willing (as the Kenyatta, Museveni, and Kagame trio has now become known) and Tanzania and Burundi threatened the Community.

At best, that the EAC would become a dysfunctional two-track affair, and at worst that it would collapse as the first one did in 1977. It was also expected that when President Kikwete addressed parliament last Thursday, he would lash out at the Coalition of the Willing, or announce that the loose rival alliance with Burundi and DRC that he has been trying to forge would set out on a separation path.

In the end, none of the above happened. President Kikwete, as a leading East African economist put it on social media, “not only took the high ground but took the posture of the adult in the room.”

He declared that Tanzania was in the EAC to stay, wondered why the Coalition of the Willing was trying to sideline it, and called for the bloc’s business to be concluded by the letter and spirit of its treaties and protocols. It was a new tone of self-confidence from a Tanzania that feels it now holds some key political aces in the region.

“What is costing us in the EAC is Tanzania’s stand on political federation, issues of land, issues of thee labour market and immigration. We have no problem with fast tracking the political federation but only if all steps are followed in accordance to the EAC Protocol. Customs Union, Common Market, subsequently the monetary union and ultimately the political federation. Our stand comes from principle. That is, we must establish first the economic and financial mechanisms and let them take root,” he said.

He added: “When EAC is fully integrated economically and the benefits start to trickle in, then we can start talking about the EAC political federation. It is only when countries start benefiting economically that starting a political federation will make sense. Without a sound economic footing a political federation is a waste of time.”

According to President Kikwete, this stance has cost Tanzania everything else, including the country’s interest in participating in infrastructure projects such as the standard gauge railway line and the oil pipeline and refinery.

“(President) Museveni invited us to participate in its construction, now I don’t know whether he has changed his mind and considers Tanzania not important to the project anymore,” he said.

Tanzania’s place in the regional economic bloc has been in the news in the past few months, following the emergence of the Coalition of the Willing. The coalition members were said to have decided to forge ahead with key infrastructure projects because Tanzania was reportedly dragging its feet on key issues.

“The EAC integration is not just about the political aspect but trade and, therefore, the presidents have to be mindful about business in the region, which is a core thing to the integration,” said Andrew Lumathe, chief executive of the East African Business Council.

“Tanzania has always been cautious on the issue of land, owing to its socialist past. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere advocated the communal ownership of this critical means of production. But in Kenya, for example, land has always been seen under a capitalist model of ‘willing buyer, willing seller.’ As such, Tanzania has steadfastly opposed to the issue of land harmonisation as pursued under the EAC Treaty, saying that land laws differ in all the partner states,” he added.

The EAC wants to harmonise laws on ownership land and all the properties on it like houses, rivers etc, which Tanzania is against.

Land ownership

Unlike in the other partner states, where an individual can own land permanently, in Tanzania the president is the sole custodian of land in the country.

Analysts say it is understandable why Tanzania is jittery about land: The country holds the greatest fraction of arable but unused land in the EAC — an estimated 380,000 square kilometres.

By comparison, Kenya accounts for 32 per cent of the total land area in the EAC but 45 per cent of its land is under agriculture. The UN Population Division projects that as the EAC’s population burgeons from 150 million today to 270 million by 2030, the region is likely turn to Tanzania as it looks to feed its growing numbers.

With Tanzania’s apparent isolation by the Coalition of the Willing, the $4.7 billion railway line project linking Dar, Kigali and Burundi, whose construction is scheduled for 2014, hangs in the balance, should relations worsen.

Rwanda and Uganda seem to be ready to embrace Kenya’s railway corridor linking both countries, including South Sudan to the Kenyan Coast. Diplomatic relations between Dar and Kigali have been frosty following the recent expulsion of Rwandan immigrants from western Tanzania, and President Kikwete’s remarks that Rwanda should negotiate with the Hutu rebel group FDLR it is fighting in eastern DRC.

“The DRC politics is the crust of the matter for now. Tanzania contributed troops to DRC creating varying interests and those issues should be resolved. The five countries have different approaches to the DRC issue,” said Mukasa Mbidde, chairperson of the Legal, Rule and Privileges Committee of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

In September, Tanzania expelled thousands of foreigners working in the country because they did not have work permits, a move that was seen as being against the EAC integration agenda. President Kikwete cited the issue of employment and immigration as one of the reasons why Tanzania was being isolated by its neighbours.

Tanzania said the September exercise was intended to ensure that all foreigners working in the country do so following the right channels. But again, getting the official papers is often a nightmare. It costs a handsome $2,000 to get a work permit in Tanzania, and applicants must wait up to five months to obtain the documents.

Uganda charges $1,500 for work permits, and Kenya, which initially waived fees for East Africans, has since reintroduced a $1,976 charge on job seekers aged under 35. Rwanda continues to keep its borders open to East Africans by waiving work permit fees for EAC citizens.

Burundi charges 3 per cent of the annual gross salary of its foreign workers (including EAC partner states) for a work permit.

On the use of national IDs as travel documents in the region, President Kikwete said Tanzania was not ready to adopt the IDs because it did not yet have national IDs, and has maintained that it cannot take a decision until they are ready to issue to its citizens. Uganda, on the other hand, which did not have national IDs, adopted the decision and is in the process of issuing IDs as a requirement of the EAC.

Tanzanian government officials have long insisted that issues of immigration, land, labour should remain domestic issues and decisions should be made by each partner state and not by the community.

EALA had in April this year passed a motion for a resolution advocating the elimination of work permit fees for citizens of the region in the spirit of enhancing free movement of workers. The move was opposed by Tanzania, which said it would not waive work permit fees for EAC citizens seeking to enter the country.

Last week, Tanzania’s EAC Deputy Minister Abdullah Saadalla said: “Tanzania has its own regulations and procedures and the issue of waiving the fees calls for internal agreements.”

In addition to the accusations of dragging its feet on the integration process, Tanzania’s role in DRC is also said to have contributed to the current isolation by its neighbours.

“The DRC politics is the crux of the matter for now. Tanzania contributed troops to the UN force in DRC creating differing interests. The five countries have different approaches to the DRC issue,” said Mukasa Mbidde, chairperson of the Legal, Rules and Privileges Committee at the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

Diplomatic relations between Dar and Kigali have also been frosty following the recent expulsion of Rwandan immigrants from western Tanzania, and President Kikwete’s remarks that Rwanda should negotiate with the Hutu rebel group FDLR in eastern DRC.

Responding to President Kikwete’s speech, the head of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Co-operation and Security Zeno Mutimura said he does not think there is a plot to isolate Tanzania but instead Dar has only itself to blame.

Mr Mutimura, who served as Rwanda’s ambassador to Tanzania until 2009, said that a 2009 East African Court of Justice ruling allows partner states to carry on with programmes if one or two members are not ready.

During the infrastructure summit in Kigali, President Museveni, who has been singled out by Tanzanian officials for being behind the plan to isolate Dar es Salaam, said that what is happening should be seen as Northern Corridor countries stepping up the implementation of projects along the corridor. On the issue of the single tourist visa which Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are fast tracking, Tanzania has indicated that it is not for the idea of having the visa until the relevant fee collection infrastructure that links member states is in place.

“In order to have a single tourist visa, there must be a legal framework and infrastructure workable for all the partner states first,” said Dr Abdulla.

Mark Priestly, the country director at TradeMark East Africa in Rwanda, said President Kikwete’s speech was “double-edged.”

“On the one hand, Kikwete is saying Tanzania is committed to the EAC and regional integration and on the other hand there is obvious tension with the trilateral initiative. On the whole, I think that this is a healthy tension and so the EAC is unlikely to split up,” he said.

Uganda government spokesman Ofwono Opondo termed the complaints by Tanzania “a failure to appreciate the progress of international issues and geopolitical interests.”
He added: “There is no integration in the world that happened at once.

In the current EU, Turkey has been on the sidelines for very many years.”

According to Mr Opondo, Uganda had the strongest bilateral relations with Tanzania politically and there should be no reason for leaders in Tanzania to think Uganda would connive behind its back to undermine it.

Kenyan EALA MP Peter Mathuki said that the fact that the Tanzanian president himself confirmed that the country is not moving out of the EAC means that he needs to be embraced and taken seriously as a member of the Community.

“Tanzania cannot be left out of EAC because it’s one of the original EAC countries and therefore cannot be taken for granted,” said Mr Mathuki.

However on the concern that the country is slowing down the integration process, he said that it is a wakeup call to it that the other partners are not happy with the way it is implementing the EAC protocols.

“There is a need to fast track the EAC integration and thus Tanzania should also move with speed just like the other partner states,” he said, adding that Tanzania’s leadership need to consider where their strategic interests are and take Community issues seriously.

Two weeks ago, Tanzania’s East African Co-operation Minister Samuel Sitta told parliament that Tanzania was looking for closer economic ties with Burundi and DR Congo to counter grand infrastructure plans by Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, causing anxiety over the future of the East African Community.

However, President Kikwete seems to have thrown the ball in the court of the Coalition of the Willing.

*Source The East African.Reported by Ray Naluyaga, Christabel Ligami, Christine Mungai, Berna Namata, Halimma Abdalla and Edmund Kagire

 

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President Jakaya Kikwete says Tanzania is concerned about land, immigration, employment and acceleration of political federation
November 8, 2013 | 1 Comments

By BERNARD OGINGA*

President Kikwete

President Kikwete

DODOMA, TANZANIA: Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete has spoken about the fate of his country’s future in the East African Community ( EAC) saying Tanzania will not leave the regional bloc.

Addressing the Tanzanian Parliament in Dodoma,Kikwete said accusations that his country is an unwilling partner are unfounded adding that Tanzaniahas never been invited to any meeting attended by leaders from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, nations that have come to call themselves willing partners.

“If they invited us but we refused, then they can claim so, but I have not received even a sing le invite.”Kikwete said.

Kikwete also refuted claims that Tanzania is delaying quick intergradient of the region, insisting that such claim are not even close to the reality urging thatTanzania has practically shown that it is not opposed to integration as evident by it the coming together Tanganyika and Zanzibar to form Tanzania.

“The Tanganyika Zanzibar union is the only one in Africa that has lasted longest, many countries have tried but failed, next year we will be celebrating 50 years” Kikwete told parliament in his speech delivered in Kiswahili.

Kikwete said Tanzania remains a faithful member of EAC because it has implemented the treaty that revived the community and obeys its various protocols and lawful agreements arrived at by the community’s organs.

“If there is something we have not done well, it is because of its foundation and not because we have ignored decisions. If the commission wants to decide how we will relate to Mozambique, have we reached that level yet?” Kiwete wondered.

The president also told parliament that Tanzania has spent a lot of time and resources in making EACreach where it is and it would be very expensive for them to quit or act in a manner that would weaken its growth.

“We contribute Usd12 million to the community’s budget every year, nobody in their right mind would throw away such investment.”

Kiwetete however, listed to the applause of the full house why Tanzania is seen to be dragging its feet in the integration process.

“We are concerned about the fast tracking of the integration, land, employment and immigration these are the only aspects we do not agree on.”

Kikwete questioned why such issues would make other leaders isolate Tanzania even on matters that it agrees with, insisting that Tanzania wants a gradual implementation of the EAC treaty.

“The treaty outlines that the entry point is a customs union, a common market, subsequently the monetary union and ultimately a political federation.”

Kikwete said no nation joins or continues to be a member of a regional bloc for purely political reasons without economic benefit to its citizens.

In recent weeks other EAC members namely Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya have held talks and initiated infrastructural projects without the participation ofTanzania and Burudi fuelling talks that Tanzania was considering pulling out of the community and instead concentrate on its membership in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

*Source Standard Media

 

 

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Rawlings: Support Mahama To Stem Corruption
November 3, 2013 | 0 Comments
President John Mahama and former President Rawlings in glasses

President John Mahama and former President Rawlings in glasses

Former President Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings has in a keynote address at this year’s Hogbetsotso festival of the people of Anlo called for support for President Mahama in his quest to efficiently manage the country and rid it of corrupt practices and elements.

President Rawlings said while President Mahama is a fine leader who perhaps is too gentle for the current political dispensation, some personalities around him have attributes, that cannot auger well for the smooth management of the state.

The former President called on opinion leaders such as chieftaincy institutions and the Council of State not to hesitate to point out the truth to the President because he has the country’s interest at heart and can only succeed if his advisors do not hide facts from him.

President Rawlings who was the special guest of honour at the annual Hogbetsotso festival held at Anloga on Saturday said people have a responsibility to endorse leadership that protects the people and supports socio-economic development that benefits not only a select few.

The former President who spoke from a prepared speech and extempore said: “Fighting injustice requires us to be resolute and be above reproach. Our society cannot progress if at community level we do not embrace qualities of truth, equity, accountability and integrity.

“While leadership at traditional and political level have to uphold these noble principles you the ordinary people have to embrace noble lifestyles that will benefit our young ones who have become victims of westernization and crass pursuit of materialism.

“Crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery and corruption have become the order of the day not only at national and urban level but also at the most grassroots of places. We need to wake up and confront these negative incursions into our society because they pose serious danger to the very survival of our communities. That sense of purpose and unity that binds us together is almost lost on us,” the former President said.

Find the full text of President Rawlings address below:

Address By H.E. Jerry John Rawlings, Former President Of Ghana At The Anlo Hogbetsotso Festival

Anloga – Saturday, November 2, 2013

Mr. Chairman, Awoamefia of Anlo State Togbi Sri III, Chiefs, Mamawo, invited guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me home to share the joys of the Hogbetsotso with you.

Hogbetsotso was borne out of injustice and inequality. Our forefathers rose above oppression and fought against the injustice of King Agorkorli, leading to their eventual migration.

Our ancestors had the opportunity to migrate then, but you and I have no where to migrate to if we have to endure injustice and inequality so we have a huge responsibility to ensure that we endorse leadership that protects the people and supports socio-economic development that benefits not only a select few.

jjr-mahamaFighting injustice requires us to be resolute and be above reproach. Our society cannot progress if at community level we do not embrace qualities of truth, equity, accountability and integrity.

While leadership at traditional and political level have to uphold these noble principles you the ordinary people have to embrace noble lifestyles that will benefit our young ones who have become victims of westernization and crass pursuit of materialism.

Crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery and corruption have become the order of the day not only at national and urban level but also at the most grassroots of places. We need to wake up and confront these negative incursions into our society because they pose serious danger to the very survival of our communities. That sense of purpose and unity that binds us together is almost lost on us.

I am reliably informed your major source of livelihood, fishing and vegetable farming is not bringing you much economic sustenance as it used to. You have problems with fishing because as stated before some of us in our selfish desire to make quick money have been applying illegal forms of fishing which have the tendency to affect the appropriate breeding of fish as fingerlings are also trapped in the process.

We have also embraced a very poor habit of keeping our water resources polluted in such a manner that we cannot expect fishes and other living organisms to reproduce and help the chain of survival in the oceans and rivers. We cannot continue to pollute our rivers with chemicals, wash directly in them with soap and expect the same water resource to provide potable water and protein on our table. No!

Let us use prescribed nets for fishing so we do not deplete our fishing resource. We should practice good farming methods so as to sustain the fertility of the soil.

It is however a pity that most of your farm produce get rotten while for those who manage to sell your produce the real beneficiaries are the middle men who buy the produce cheaply and sell them at very competitive rates in the urban areas.

I call on the traditional and municipal authorities to confront these issues head on by encouraging cooperatives and partnerships amongst the people so farm produce is marketed through a combined effort with the obvious benefits.

With a well laid out road network, it behoves of leadership at various levels here in Anlo to pursue large-scale investment in canning our vegetable produce, not only for the international market but for the local market as well. Elsewhere tomato juice is a delicacy. We should explore all these investment options and not only think we should can the tomatoes just for cooking purposes. We have to be proactive and ambitious. That is what our local communities need in pushing the quest for national development.

Togbuiwo, Mamawo, we cannot develop our communities if our educational standards are abysmal. If it is true that the current educational results within the Anlo community are poor then we have a lot of work on our hands. Development at all levels of society is now based on very advanced technology which can only be available if our children are tutored appropriately and our schools are properly equipped to pass on appropriate education to pupils and students.

The Anlo state needs to look thoroughly inward and ask itself if it has done enough to maintain the status quo as one of the most progressive communities in our country.

A filthy culture of self-centred arrogance, petty squabbling, destruction of reputations and abuse of our deep-seated traditions by those who benefited from the toil of our ancestors is destroying our sense of unity and brotherliness.

Many of our so-called distinguished elders and personalities who stood on your shoulders to achieve their current fame and fortune are now sponsoring divisive tendencies that will no doubt lead to unfortunate divisions which were supposed to be matters of the past.

I do not intend to poke my nose into these unfortunate but serious issues, but I call on the Awoamefia, togbuio and mamawo to take a serious look at the issues confronting the state of Anlo and not allow politics to override the religious sanctity of what this state stands for.

Thank you.

*Read original article here 

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HEADS OF STATE PUSH FOR STRONG ICT GROWTH
November 1, 2013 | 1 Comments

By Frank Kanyesigye*

transform-africa-summit Presidents Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (Mali), Salva Kiir Mayardit (South Sudan), Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Paul Kagame of Rwanda, were speaking during a panel discussion at a major ICT conference underway in Kigali.

The seven African leaders sat down with delegates from around the world on the second day of the four-day Transform Africa Summit 2013, which is also attended by executives from Microsoft, Samsung, Facebook and IBM, to devise ways on how Africa can leverage broadband to transform communities, governments and the private sector.

President Kagame said Africa needed to embrace a digital revolution which has the power to transform communities with greater access to information.

“We must understand how technology is opening up new opportunities and what we can do to prepare for it. During the technological change success belongs to those who can innovate and those who see the available opportunities,” he added.

Kagame observed that, since the 2007 Connect Africa Summit, also held in Kigali, many changes had taken place both globally and on the African continent, adding that the Transform Africa Summit presented enormous opportunities to create strategic partnerships and maximise the benefits that come with them.

Leveraging ICTs

“We want to equip the African youth with these technologies so that we can leapfrog and reach at a level where the developed world is. In Rwanda, we believe that ICTs have the potential to boost our economy and improve the living standards of our people considerably,” stated the President.

He underlined the critical importance of Private Public Partnerships in the ICT industry, calling for technology-driven innovation that can transform the continent.

“Transformation is all about our people and how we can bring our citizens on board to participate and benefit.”

He challenged suggestion that for African countries to invest in broadband and 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution LTE) is a luxury, saying that ICTs support the growth of other sectors.

In Rwanda, Kagame noted, we consider ICT as a utility like electricity, water and other necessities. “So far I haven’t seen anything to discourage me from investing in ICTs”.

Kenyan President Kenyatta also observed that there are immense opportunities presented by ICTs, which he said provides a great opportunity for innovation, job creation and efficiency governance systems.

“If we look back and assess what drove the growth of developed economies it was railway line, sea transport and air transport; we in Africa are still struggling to connect our people and have free flow of goods on the continent,” he said.

He added, “The true and single driver that will propel us from a developing to a developed world in a shortest possible time is for us to recognise that railway lines, sea and air transport of yesterday is broadband today.”

On his part, Ugandan President Museveni warned that ICTs alone will not drive the continent forward unless other sectors get as much attention.

While ICT should be developed, he said, focusing on it exclusively without using it to promote other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and services, is like someone ‘eating dry food without sauce’.

“Electronics and ICTs help us to solve a number of issues such as automation of machines, retrieving and storing information, identifying persons (offenders) quickly, defence and waging purposes, among others, there is no doubt about the importance of electronics and ICT.

Presidents Kirr, Ondimba, Compaoré and Keïta all said that, if harnessed, ICT can serve as a vehicle that drives Africa to a desired level.

Without setting specific targets, the Heads of State pledged that their governments will continue to invest in ICTs for the benefit of their people and the continent as a whole.

The summit, co-hosted by President Kagame and the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, Dr Hamadoun Toure, is running under the theme, “The Future Delivered Today.”

On his part, Dr Toure talked of the pillars of Smart Africa Manifesto that seeks to transform Africa through the power of ICT.

The manifesto puts ICT at the centre of socio-economic development, developing capacity of all people to develop ICTs, improving accountability and transparency, putting private sector at the engine of economic transformation as well as promoting cost effective technology.

Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Minister for Youth and ICT, demonstrated how 4G broadband is faster than 3G in terms of internet speed.

In June, the South Korea’s largest telecom company, Korea Telecom, entered into an agreement with the Government of Rwanda to deploy 4G LTE broadband network across the country, to help ensure faster, more reliable and cheaper internet services.

*Source The New Times

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Mali’s Security Top Concern as West African Leaders Meet Friday in Dakar
October 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

By James Butty*

Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama (L) speaks with Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh (R) after a West African regional bloc ECOWAS summit on the crisis in Mali and Guinea Bissau, in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, Feb. 27, 2013.

Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama (L) speaks with Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh (R) after a West African regional bloc ECOWAS summit on the crisis in Mali and Guinea Bissau, in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, Feb. 27, 2013.

A senior official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said, while Friday’s heads of state summit in Dakar will focus on the region’s economy, it will also take up political and security crises.

This comes as ECOWAS President, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, Wednesday called on the international community to send more troops to Mali in the wake of a recent upsurge of attacks by Islamist insurgents.

Abdel Fatau Musah, ECOWAS director for external relations, said the security situation remains a top concern to the regional body, especially as the country prepares for next month’s legislative elections.

“As you might have gleaned from developments in Mali, the terrorists and extremist groups are regrouping and carrying out sporadic attacks here and there.  Meanwhile, MINUSMA (the UN mission in Mali) because of the lack of numbers, lack of sufficient equipment, has not been able to fan out into the north.  So, the president was calling on member states of the international community to contribute troops because the bulk of the troops in Mali are all from West Africa,” he said.

Fatau Musah said, by the end of July, MINUSMA had a little over 6,000 troops, but that was reduced after Nigerian and some Chadian troops withdrew.

He said ECOWAS President Ouedraogo’s appeal Wednesday was for West African countries to boost their contingents already in Mali in terms of equipment.

Fatau Musah said ECOWAS leaders are very conscious of Mali being the epicenter of global terrorist activities, especially when the country still has what he called “unfinished business”.

“As far as ECOWAS is concerned, there [is] still unfinished business.  Mali is facing legislative election in November and that cannot take place if the north slides back into outright violence,” Musah said.

He said the Dakar meeting will focus mainly on economic issues, including the finalization of the Common External Tariff, the Community Integration Levy and the Economic Partnership Agreement between West Africa and the European Union.

But, Fatau Musah said the regional bloc cannot close its eyes to security and political issues that have emerged since the decision was made to hold the summit.

“It will definitely touch on the worsening situation in the north of Mali; it will talk about the post-electoral dispute in Guinea, and we are also going to talk about the disturbing developments in Guinea-Bissau on the approach of the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for later in November,” he said.

*Source VOA 

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African Union Rejects Moves that Could Destabilize Mozambique
October 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Peter Clottey*

Rebel-leader-of-former-Mozambican-rebel-movement-Renamo-turned-opposition-party-chief-Afonso-Dhlakama-gives-a-press-conference-April-10-2013-in-Gorongosas-mountains-Mozambique

Rebel-leader-of-former-Mozambican-rebel-movement-Renamo-turned-opposition-party-chief-Afonso-Dhlakama-gives-a-press-conference-April-10-2013-in-Gorongosas-mountains-Mozambique

A spokesman says the African Union (AU) sharply condemns any attempt by individuals or groups to undermine peace, stability and development in Mozambique.

El-Ghassim Wane says the continental body is closely monitoring security in the southern African country.

“Mozambique has made tremendous progress both politically and economically over the past decade, and we believe it is important that progress … is preserved, and that we ensure that no attempt to destabilize the country succeeds,” said Wane.

His comments came after the opposition Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) group announced its decision to withdraw from a 21-year-old peace accorded with the ruling FRELIMO party that effectively ended the country’s civil war.

In a communique, the AU called for dialogue between President Armando Guebuza’s government and the opposition RENAMO to resolve differences that could lead to renewed conflict.

“The African Union is calling for restraint and dialogue and also clearly stating the rejection of any attempt to destabilize Mozambique,” said Wane.

Some analysts have expressed concern that an end to the agreement could signal a resumption of violence between the opposition and the government.

“The only way to resolve the issue at hand is through dialogue. The government has expressed its commitment to dialogue and RENAMO should accept that offer,” said Wane. “Mozambique has come a long way, and no efforts should be spared to ensure that the gains made in the past decade are preserved and consolidated.”
Mozambique government officials told VOA that on Tuesday supporters of RENAMO attacked a police station in Maringue. There were no reports of casualties in the town, which is located in the central part of the country near a RENAMO military base.

Wane said the AU supports negotiations between the two groups.

“We strongly believe that Mozambique and Mozambicans have the means and have the capacity to resolve this issue and to overcome the challenges facing them,” said Wane. “What we felt was necessary was of course to call for dialogue and in this we welcome the commitment of the government of Mozambique to dialogue, and we are calling on the RENAMO leadership to accept that offer unconditionally.”

*Source VOA 

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