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Liberia’s Election Campaign Gears Up as Sirleaf Prepares to Step Down
September 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Monique John*

FILE - Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai Koroma, left, and Liberia President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, right, on arrival for talks with President Yahya Jammeh, in Banjul, Gambia.

FILE – Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai Koroma, left, and Liberia President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, right, on arrival for talks with President Yahya Jammeh, in Banjul, Gambia.

Liberia is about a month away from what many hope will be the country’s first peaceful, democratic handover of power in decades.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has led the country since the elections in 2005, after the second civil war, but her legally mandated two terms are up.

Twenty candidates from 26 different parties are running to replace her. They have been facing off in a series of public debates, a first for Liberia.

A leading opposition candidate is former Coca Cola executive Alexander Cummings.

“If you keep doing the same things, you will not get different results,” notes Cummings, “the other fundamental truth is that the best predictor of future performance and future behavior is past performance and past behavior. And as Liberians go to the polls on October 10th, I ask you to keep those two truths in mind.”

Sirleaf has garnered international praise for stabilizing the war-ravaged country, but her Unity Party administration has been dogged by allegations of corruption.

Slogans like “Change for Hope,” Real Change, for Liberia” and “Change is Coming,” are plastered on campaign flyers all over Monrovia.

To reach young voters, the Alternative National Congress candidate has enlisted Hipco music artists, most notably Takun J, an outspoken critic of the current government.

“They lied to us. The government betray us,” the artist sings.

FILE -Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr., Vice President of Liberia, arrives for a dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit, Aug. 5, 2014.

FILE -Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr., Vice President of Liberia, arrives for a dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit, Aug. 5, 2014.

But Vice President Joseph Boakai is among the front-runners. The ruling party candidate has made infrastructure the cornerstone of his campaign.

“When people ask me what are the priorities of this country I say to them, number one roads, number two roads, number three roads,” he said. “There is no way we are going to expand the economy of this country when it is locked in.”

Other well-known faces leading the pack include the football star and senator, George Weah.

Weah lost to Sirleaf in the 2005 run-off election.

“Make no mistake, we will not sit idly and allow our democratic rights to be infringed upon,” Weah warned, “which will produce a leader that was not elected by the people, but elected by a few … your sacrifices will not be in vain. We seek nothing but a first round victory.”

But some voters say they are overwhelmed by all the choices or simply do not care.

“I am still searching, I have not found somebody yet,” Judy Degonteh Williams told VOA.

“We Liberians, we were hoping that the UP-led government would liberate us from the hands of poverty … but the UP government failed us,” opined Maxine B. Kennedy.

“I do not have nobody on my mind for presidency … I do not trust anyone,” confided Mercy Angeline Green.

Thomas Du of the Liberia office of the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute sees frustration among voters.

“When people are elected, they do not tend to keep a relationship with their constituents,” he noted. “With that, the constituents are trying to interpret that to mean that you only see me as important for my vote.”

That disconnect is not helped by the fact an estimated 64 percent of Liberians live below the poverty line.

Nelly Cooper is the president of the West Point Women Health and Development Organization, which played a key role in community response efforts during the regional Ebola epidemic, a crisis that laid bare the weakness of Liberia’s public health system.

She says the candidates need to be more specific about their agendas.

“What are they going to do for Liberia? What are they going to do for me? What are they going to do for my children?” Cooper asked.

But amid the wealth of candidates, you can see one aspect of Sirleaf’s legacy as Africa’s first female president. An unprecedented number of Liberian women are running for political office this year, including one female presidential candidate, six women running for vice president and a record or almost 160 women are seeking seats in the legislature.

*VOA

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Togo leader must quit now for protests to stop: opposition head
September 9, 2017 | 0 Comments
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Tony Elumelu: why Africapitalists will build a continent’s future
September 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Tony O. Elumelu*

Tony O. Elumelu

Tony O. Elumelu

Africa is not a single country but a continent, one that is a place of real business opportunity that the world should be alive to. I know, having built businesses that now operate in 20 African countries and through creating a programme over 10 years that is funding and mentoring 10,000 African entrepreneurs.

I have witnessed first hand the infectious enthusiasm of African entrepreneurs, and my businesses demonstrate the potential of Africa if you invest for the long term and act strategically. In 1997, I had a vision of democratising African banking, seeing financial services not only as a vehicle for financial inclusion, but as a critical enabler of cross-border trade and value creation on the African continent.

Diverging fortunes

Since the end of the commodity supercycle, growth paths in Africa have diverged. Oil-exporting countries, such as Algeria and Angola, and non-energy mineral exporters, including Botswana and Zambia, have experienced substantially weakened growth. Economic giants Nigeria and South Africa have entered recession. However, economies not based on commodities have continued to demonstrate robust expansion. Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania enjoy gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates of 6% and above.

This diversity teaches us the important lesson that Africa should not be treated as a single economic unit and also shows how governments must create the enabling environment that will allow the private sector to act as the engine of economic and social growth.

The economic progress of the latter countries is unsurprising. Their growth is a result of patient investment in infrastructure to grow the real sector of the economy, and a sustained focus on institutionalising that enabling environment – with business incentives, transparency, safety and policy stability – to allow the private sector to flourish. These factors foster the growth of local value creation, which resolves Africa’s historical over-reliance on raw material and commodity exports that leave their economies susceptible to cyclical boom and bust.

In 2015, Ethiopia launched a light rail project in Addis Ababa, the first metro service in sub-Saharan Africa. As it is now building a $5bn Grand Renaissance dam with a generation capacity of 6000 megawatts and a projected $1bn in revenues from electricity sales, the World Bank recently named it as the world’s fastest growing country. Ethiopia’s big investments in infrastructure have resulted in pay-offs, including double-digit economic growth (averaging 10.8% since 2005).

Tanzania has also made significant investments in infrastructure – particularly in power – strengthening its manufacturing and construction sectors. Construction alone accounted for 13.6% of GDP in 2015, further fuelled by investments in transport and port developments.

The diversity of economic outcomes on the continent illustrates my belief that three interdependent ‘pillars’ for economic and job growth are required: policy reform and a commitment to the rule of law; investment in infrastructure; and a commitment to developing Africa’s manufacturing and processing industries. All three pillars reinforce each other, help to unleash the African private sector and increase both foreign and local investment.

Private sector importance

I firmly believe that only a developed and well-capacitated private sector can unlock economic prosperity and widespread opportunity in Africa. To advance bottom-up economic development, and create jobs and employment for Africa’s exploding population, the private sector must flourish, with a focus on supporting entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). After all, governments and corporates alone cannot create the millions of jobs that the continent desperately needs; only small businesses can.

The best-performing countries on the continent are those that have keenly supported entrepreneurship and enhanced the business climate. The Rwanda Development Board, created to boost entrepreneurship and grow the private sector, has been effective in increasing investor interest in the country. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report now ranks Rwanda second in Africa, as a result of its reforms that have reduced administrative and operating costs for all businesses via streamlined licensing and permitting processes; reduced tariffs; and ease in registering a new business, accessing credit and paying taxes.

In Côte d’Ivoire, improvements to the business environment continue to attract investment. For example, a reduction in government bureaucracy now allows new businesses to be registered within 24 hours. Tax waivers, exemptions and a 40% cut in custom duties have spurred new investments. The Mauritian government has launched an ambitious SME scheme backed by a bank focused on SMEs with a capitalisation of Rs10bn ($751.6m) over the next five years. The goal is to become a “nation of entrepreneurs”.

It is encouraging to see Africa’s public sector recognise that Africa’s future will be determined not simply by economic growth, but by how successful we are in creating accessible pathways to economic prosperity for all Africans everywhere. It is in those communities where opportunities are the most scarce that social issues are most prevalent. Given the recent commodity crash and subsequent shortfalls in government budgets across the continent, these massive investments in infrastructure and structures to support entrepreneurs may be unfeasible. This calls for a new approach to development assistance.

Partners for the long term

Development partners must be willing to: work side by side with African countries to invest for the long term in critical sectors of the economy such as manufacturing and processing; lend technical support in policy conceptualisation; and finance infrastructure projects such as ports and roads – efforts that will create broad-based prosperity. Assistance in this manner will radically transform the economy and launch it on the path of sustainable development.

In mid-June, German chancellor Angela Merkel met African leaders ahead of the July G20 summit to discuss the ‘Compact with Africa’, an initiative to boost private investment in Africa, improve infrastructure and tackle unemployment. Emphasising the importance of this different style of partnership, Ms Merkel said: “Positive development in the world will not work unless all continents participate. We need an initiative that does not talk about Africa, but with Africa.” This has been backed up by €300m agreement with Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana as part of the recently announced Marshall plan.

Germany’s Marshall plan for Africa seeks to support the continent in areas of economic activity, trade and development; peace and security; and democracy, the rule of law and human rights. It is hoped that the plan will accelerate the growth of the African private sector – including entrepreneurs – to make companies more competitive, and to enhance their ability to scale and create formal wage-earning jobs. It also strives to bridge Africa’s $93bn-a-year infrastructure deficit, the major roadblock in its path to prosperity.

I support this reimagined and innovative approach to development. I applaud the well-meaning plans to forge stronger trading ties and cross-border commercial relationships, to support African entrepreneurs, to commit to more technical and knowledge support programmes. Above all, I commend this recognition – though belated – of Africans as befitting partners, capable of working alongside Western governments and corporates to generate new wealth opportunities on the continent.

For me, this goes beyond mere talk. The Tony Elumelu Foundation has committed $100m to support African entrepreneurs, based on our belief in their potential and capacity to develop homegrown solutions to solve the continent’s seemingly intractable economic problems.

My passion for entrepreneurship is rooted in the economic philosophy of ‘Africapitalism’, a term that I coined to emphasise the role Africa’s private sector must play in the socioeconomic transformation of our continent. Africapitalism calls on the private sector – including African entrepreneurs – to make long-term investments in strategic sectors to create both economic profit and social prosperity.

To empower African entrepreneurs to take on this responsibility to transform Africa, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has committed $100m over the next 10 years to funding, mentoring and training 10,000 entrepreneurs whose businesses will create 1 million jobs and generate $10bn dollars in revenue.

An alternative capitalism

At the heart of Africapitalism is the recognition that the private sector is the main driver of growth in any economy. This confers on businesses a critical responsibility and a commitment to prioritise not economic profits alone but social wealth and broad-based prosperity. Africapitalism advocates the need to enable the private sector to take on a more active role in addressing economic imbalances in society. It improves upon the traditional model of capitalism that centres on extractive short-term gains and instead promotes a refined approach that invests for the long term in strategic sectors for both economic and social wealth.

Africapitalism puts people first and identifies entrepreneurship as the solution to Africa’s biggest threats: unemployment and lack of economic hope. Africapitalism advocates for the empowerment of entrepreneurs to enhance job creation. Only small businesses – not governments, not corporates – can create the millions of jobs needed to leverage our youth demographic dividend to guarantee an economic transformation.

The significant political and economic changes today – the backlash against globalisation, anxiety over lost jobs, political upheavals, deepening inequality – reinforce the urgency around rethinking capitalism as historically practised. Africapitalism offers a compelling alternative to modern-day capitalism, and when embraced will douse societal tensions, create new social wealth, inspire renewed public confidence in business, and make our world much fairer. Businesses will be the better for it as bottom lines benefit when there is peace, stability and prosperity.

It is true that Africa needs partners, but more critically, we need Africapitalist partners.

*This article was originally published on The Banker.Tony Elumelu is Chairman at Heirs Holdings.

 

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THE U.S. AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION INVESTS IN 35 YOUNG AFRICAN ENTREPRENEURS
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

WASHINGTON, DC – September 6, 2017– The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is pleased to announce $375,000 in seed capital funding to 35 young African social entrepreneurs for social and community change in 20 sub-Saharan countries in Africa.

Winners were selected from the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship program, as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). By pairing seed capital with technical assistance, USADF is empowering young entrepreneurs who are leading the charge in investing in Africa’s economic growth. Each entrepreneur will receive up to $25,000 in start-up capital to strengthen systems that will support the growth of their enterprises – ranging from agribusiness and healthcare services, to renewable energy, waste management and technology. C.D. Glin, President & CEO of USADF says, “These young people represent the best and brightest of Africa’s future business leaders and social entrepreneurs.”

With USADF seed capital and technical assistance, these social entrepreneurs are creating jobs, training and employing other youth, and creating or expanding markets by providing goods and services. They are also working to find new and innovative ways to improve their communities and create economic growth opportunities.

Delia Diabangouaya, CEO of Chocotogo, says, “I am building my business to produce top-quality chocolate and support smallholder cocoa farmers. With this grant, I am hoping to have a lasting impact in my community.” Chocotogo is an artisan chocolate company based in Togo that sources cocoa from rural farmers. With USADF funding, Delia aims to transform the cocoa value chain to benefit over 100 local smallholder farmers and produce high-quality, artisan chocolates.

Entrepreneurs like Chioma Ukonu are finding new ways to manage waste and protect the environment in busy cities like Lagos, Nigeria. Ukonu’s enterprise, Recycle Points, uses a points-based incentive model to encourage recycling in Lagos. Her business hires youth to collect waste door-to-door from subscribers, who in turn receive points redeemable for household items and cash. Ukonu says, “I wanted to find a way to incentivize people to recycle, while also starting my own business. USADF believes in empowering local entrepreneurs to find solutions affecting their communities.”

As Mandela Washington Fellows, these young entrepreneurs have all demonstrated leadership in business, the ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups, and are strong communicators actively engaged in making a difference. They are the future leaders committed to catalyzing change in their communities, countries, and Africa’s growth. USADF’s goal is to catalyze young Africans ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to launch and expand their social enterprises so every African may be a part of Africa’s growth story. Since 2014, USADF has awarded over $3M to over 150 young entrepreneurs in over 30 countries.

 

About USADF

The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is an independent U.S. Government agency established by Congress to support and invest in African owned and led enterprises which improve lives and livelihoods in poor and vulnerable communities in Africa. For more information, visit www.usadf.gov
About the Mandela Washington Fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, begun in 2014, is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2017, the Fellowship provides 1,000 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. college or university with support for professional development after they return home. For more information, visit www.yali.state.gov/washington-fellowship.

For the official press release, click here.

List of USADF 2017 Mandela Washington Fellows Winners: 

·         Koketso Leshope, Botswana, Ma-Tla-Long

·         Malick Lingani, Burkina Faso, Magic Touch

·         Narcisse Parfait, Cameroon, Agri-Invest

·         Flavien Simo, Cameroon, Save Our Agriculture

·         Henry Foretia, Cameroon, Ets. Henry Et Freres

·         Rock Klahadoum, Chad, First Business Center

·         Yannick Rudahindwa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cedya Systems

·         Joel Mayimbi, Democratic Republic of Congo, First Tech RDC

·         Melaku Lemma, Ethiopia, SLM Teaching Aid Materials

·         Ama Duncan, Ghana, Fabulous Woman Network

·         Isaac Quaidoo, Ghana, Nexlinks Company

·         Silvia Tonui, Kenya, Marigat Gold Enterprises

·         Paballo Mokoqo, Lesotho, Dust Busters Home Cleaning Service

·         Israely Andrianjafiarisaona, Madagascar, Fereau Technologie

·         Mavis Banda, Malawi, Kanjadza Acres

·         Aderonke Jaiyeola, Nigeria, Pattern Design

·         Chioma Ukonu, Nigeria, RecyclePoints

·         Usman Lawan, Nigeria, USAIFA International

·         Atinuke Lebile, Nigeria, Cato Food and Agro Allied Global Concepts

·         Ucheoma Udoha, Nigeria, Cripvision

·         Janvier Uwayezu, Rwanda, Rwanda Biosolution

·         Sylvie Sangwa, Rwanda, SYBASH

·         Papa Zongo, Senegal, Ailes Du Gaal

·         Insa Drame, Senegal, CAIF

·         Thabang Mabuza, South Africa, Ulwazi Resource Center

·         Jennifer Shigoli, Tanzania, Elea Reusable Sanitary Pads

·         Domitila Silayo, Tanzania, Mayai Poa

·         Dina Kikuli, Tanzania, H.D. Agribusiness

·         Delia Diabangouaya, Togo, Chocotogo

·         Adjo Bokon, Togo, MiabePads

·         Francis Asiimwe, Uganda, Kaaro Telehealth

·         Rodney Nganwa, Uganda, My Boda

·         Guy Mbewe, Zambia, Kukula Solar

·         Muzalema Mwanza, Zambia, Lakefarms and Fishing Lodge

·         Connie Karoro, Zimbabwe, Coco Seed Culture

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dotAfrica (.africa) the best option for Africa in cyberspace
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 7, 2017/ — It is now possible to own an Internet address, or domain name, ending with .africa.

Already, more than 8000 of the continent’s and world’s biggest brands, businesses and individuals have registered for this exciting new Internet address.

Diverse organisations ranging from banks to media companies are registering .africa domain names. “Leading continental and international brands are snapping up .africa domain names because they recognise the importance of being associated with Africa’s bright future online. With many positive stories coming out of Africa, brands understand that .africa domain names are valuable virtual real estate,” says Lucky Masilela, CEO of the ZACR, the non-profit company tasked with administering the new .africa domain name on behalf of the continent.

54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s. These written resolutions stated that ICT will be central to Africa’s future wellbeing and .africa is surely amongst the top African-led ICT initiatives of the last twenty years.

“Initiatives like .africa help harness the power of new technologies to solve old problems. .africa is unique in that it gives Africans an important sense of pride to help motivate them to achieve the very best for their continent and themselves. ZACR appeals to all Africans to take ownership of .africa, because it truly belongs to us all,” concludes Masilela.

.africa domain names are now available and anyone can register through companies listed here: http://Registry.Africa/registrars

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Five years on: Syngenta’s Africa ambition bearing fruit, but access to technology by small farmers remains limited
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Smallholder development projects, run in partnership with industry, academia, farmer organisations, civil society and enabled by national governments and international organizations, are crucial to achieving impact at scale
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, September 6, 2017/ —

  • African market leader in agritech initiates stock-taking exercise with African partners
  • African Green Revolution Forum a “springboard” for forging more collaborations to reach more smallholders
A lead farmer checks his rice field in Senegal

A lead farmer checks his rice field in Senegal

In 2012, following the G8 in Camp David, USA, Syngenta (www.Syngenta.com) announced an ambitious ten-year growth plan for our African business. This year marks the midway point in our African growth journey. Syngenta wrote in the Wall Street Journal “the continent can be food-secure within a generation…a boon for business and humanity alike” (May 22, 2012). As we take stock, what have we achieved so far and where are the bottlenecks?

Tabitha Muthoni grows tomatoes in Utange, near Mombasa. There are more than 450 million smallholder farmers like her around the globe, most of whom have family farms of less than 2 hectares of land.

For farmers like Tabitha, increased productivity can make a big difference in their ability to support their families, send their children to school and continue investing in their fields.

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Since 2016, Tabitha has been part of Mavuno Zaidi, a project by Syngenta and TechnoServe that tackles difficulties faced by potato and tomato farmers in Kenya, including access to inputs, training opportunities and post-harvest storage solutions. Farmers participating also get better linkages to local markets. “Before the program” Tabitha says, “I had tried out tomato farming but had little knowledge on the crop and its diseases, often visiting agrovets with picked leaves to explain the problems I was facing.” Now she makes $5,000 per season on her small tomato farm—an increase from $2,000—and has grown from 4 to 11 employees.

To date, Mavuno Zaidi, or “grow more” in Swahili, has helped Syngenta and TechnoServe reach over 25,000 farmers, returning an average productivity increase of 185% for those tomato farmers.

Reaching out to farmers like Tabitha is just one example of our Africa ambition.

Alexandra Brand, Syngenta’s Regional Director for Europe, Africa and Middle East, joining this week’s AGRF explains, “Our chief aim is supporting the inclusion of smallholder farmers into viable value-chains so that they produce more of what national and global markets want. We strive to transform farmer yields at scale and increase their profitability in a way that creates sustainable value.”

How does Syngenta do this exactly?

Alexandra summarizes: “Our expertise lays in bringing top-class technology and agronomic knowledge tailored to the needs of diverse growers. Recognizing that Syngenta cannot achieve these goals alone and that farmers require holistic solutions, we continue to invest in innovative partnerships. These collaborations must tackle such barriers faced by African farmers as access to inputs, inadequate financial solutions, limited produce aggregation, dysfunctional markets, skills and information gaps.”

But despite many collaborative efforts, progress is slow.

Moving Africa closer to the UN Sustainability Development Goal of “Zero Hunger” requires long-term commitment. Moreover, the food chain revolving around the smallholder remains too disjointed.

Alexandra elaborates: “We see AGRF as a springboard to build stronger partnerships with like-minded organizations who share our vision and who can complement our skills and expertise with their own.”

Smallholder development projects, run in partnership with industry, academia, farmer organisations, civil society and enabled by national governments and international organizations, are crucial to achieving impact at scale. We at Syngenta believe that only through creative and committed collaborations can farmers access the full suite of products and services they need to succeed.

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Tabitha Mavuno Zaidi

Syngenta is a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources. Through world class science and innovative crop solutions, our 28,000 people in over 90 countries are working to transform how crops are grown. We are committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities.

Working across more than 50 countries in Africa and the Middle East with a team of over 3000 people, Syngenta is driving growth through local investment, capacity building and business development initiatives that aim to provide crop protection and seed technologies tailored to the specific needs of this territory’s vast potential. Our ambition is to increase large and small scale farmer’s ability to sustainably invest in agriculture, leading to dignified livelihoods and thriving rural communities.

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Africa50 to Announce its New Strategy, New Investments, and New Members at its Shareholder Meeting in Dakar on September 12
September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

CASABLANCA, Morocco, 7 September 2017, Africa50, the pan-African infrastructure investment platform, will hold its third Shareholders Meeting in Dakar on Tuesday, September 12, at 11:00 a.m. at the King Fahd Hotel.

Hosting the first such meeting in West Africa, his Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, will welcome the delegates. His Excellency Bruno Tshibala, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will also attend. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Africa50, will give a feature address, and Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé will provide updates on Africa50’s most recent investments and its growing investment pipeline, as well as announcing two new country shareholders. Africa50’s 23 shareholder governments will be represented by finance ministers, senior officials, and ambassadors. Distinguished members of the business community and the Senegalese government will also attend.

Delegates will review Africa50’s 2016 activities and approve its financial statements. Africa50’s Board of Directors will present the fund’s updated investment, fund-raising and capital increase strategies.

Following the event, the media is invited to a press conference with the principals at 12:30 p.m. at the hotel conference center.

Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to the continent’s growth by developing and investing in bankable projects, catalyzing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact.

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Sierra Leone: The Land of the Lion Mountain
September 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

By *

Parminder Vir OBE with TEF Entrepreneurs at the Sierra Leone meetup in the Statehouse

Parminder Vir OBE with TEF Entrepreneurs at the Sierra Leone meetup in the Statehouse

One can never write a full story about disasters in Africa without talking about Sierra Leone. Hence, there will be many questions left unanswered on why the country moves from one form of disaster to the other.

Last month, Mr. Tony Elumelu, Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, invited me to accompany him to Sierra Leone. He was going to lend his support to President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone who were once again gripped by grief as a result of the devastating mudslides and floods that claimed hundreds of innocent lives and left many more still missing. He was amongst the first African business sector leaders to do the same when Ebola struck Sierra Leone in 2013; based on his fundamental belief that ‘Africans must help Africans.’

In the company of the Sierra Leonean President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, and the former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr. Elumelu, together with his team and I, visited some of the survivors at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown upon arrival in the country. Later, at the Sierra Leonean Statehouse, he donated USD$250,000 on behalf of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and another USD$250,000 on behalf of staffs, management, and Directors of United Bank for Africa (UBA) as emergency aid grants for victims of the mudslides.

Located on the west coast of Africa, Sierra Leone is a small country in terms of land mass. It totals 71,470 square kilometres with a population of just 7 million people. But it manages to squeeze beaches, rainforests, mountains, savannah grasslands, marshes, mangrove swamps and rivers into its relatively small size. Sierra Leone is belted on the west and southwest by the Atlantic Ocean, on the northwest, north, and northeast by Guinea, and on the east and southeast by Liberia. The capital and largest city is Freetown. Sierra Leone gained her independence from Britain in 1961 and became a republic on April 19, 1971. Comparatively, very few countries have faced as many natural disasters as Sierra Leone. Obviously, the more things change, the more they stay the same for Sierra Leone. At least 400 people were killed, hundreds more are still missing, and thousands have been rendered homeless in the mudslide that took place on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Freetown, in the early hours of August 14, 2017. The mudslide ranks as the country’s worst natural disaster in recent years and builds on years of the devastating impact of Ebola and before that civil war. And yet, for a natural disaster, it was not entirely unexpected bearing in mind that Freetown records the highest annual rainfall in Africa and previous flood incidents, while less devastating, have occurred. This incident can be linked to years of poor urban development planning. To avert similar situations from recurring in the future, Sierra Leone’s government will have to enforce urban planning regulations to prevent poorly planned construction of homes.

In its disastrous eleven year civil war, beginning in 1991, thousands of people lost their lives, countless more suffered mutilation, or rape and population was displaced. An official end to the civil war was declared in January 2002. By that time, it was estimated that at least 50,000 people had died, with hundreds of thousands more affected by the violence and some two million people displaced by the conflict. Sierra Leone with a very strong history of resilience, cannot continue to move from one problem to another.

On flying into the airport in Lungi, I could feel the impact of the latest disaster and see it in the faces of the people, gleaming with life, brilliance, and pain. The airport in Lungi, I discovered, is located on the opposite side of the mouth of a  giant river flowing towards the capital. We took a water taxi – Sea Coach Express – from Tagrin as the only alternative to a four-hour drive to the capital. On my first trip to Sierra Leone, despite the choppy sea, I was able to reflect on all that I had learnt about the history, cultures, and people of this extraordinary country through my past research as a filmmaker; reading fiction and non-fiction from some of its most brilliant writers like Aminatta Forna and watching documentaries by the award winning Salone documentary filmmaker Sorious Samaura. And of course, who can forget the Hollywood film Blood Diamond; story of the illicit diamond trade and its funding of the civil war in Sierra Leone, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou. I recalled a line from the movie by Danny Archer played by Leonardo DiCaprio “Sometimes I wonder …. Will god ever forgive us for what we’ve done to each other? Then I look around and I realise….God left this place a long time ago.” But still, the spirit of the people of Sierra Leone endures.

We had arranged to meet the ten Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurs from Sierra Leone who have been selected for the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. We know they hold the key to the sustainable development of Sierra Leone and were keen to hear the impact of this latest tragedy on their emerging businesses. Indeed, their President had travelled to Lagos in October 2016 to speak to the 2016 TEF Entrepreneurs, applauding Tony Elumelu’s promise to not only empower entrepreneurs, but also to tackle the fundamental economic challenges confronting the African continent. Focusing on the uniqueness of TEF’s approach to entrepreneurship development, President Koroma hailed the programme as “a genuinely innovative approach to philanthropy in Africa – “an African offering African solutions.” He told their audience, “What is unique about this programme is that it not only provides a platform for entrepreneurs to build connections, but they are also being taught how to build their businesses in a sustainable way”.

We met the entrepreneurs in the Sierra Leonean Statehouse, built in 1895, it was the residence of the Governor of Sierra Leone and today the office of the President of Sierra Leone and his official residence. European contacts with Sierra Leone were among the first in West Africa. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the land and gave Sierra Leone its present name, which means “lion mountain.” The country was named by Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra, who mapped the region in 1462, built a fort and began trading in gold, ivory, and humans. This journey across the Atlantic was embarked upon from the Freetown Peninsula estuary; the place in which today’s Sea Coach Express now docks.

The dehumanising slave trade had a significant impact on Sierra Leone, as this trade flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries, and later as a centre of anti-slavery efforts when the trade was abolished in 1807. In 1808, Sierra Leone became a British Crown colony. It was while researching for Redemption Song, a BBC series on the history, politics and cultures of the Caribbean) that I first learnt about the colony organised by the British for the black settlers known as Black Loyalists of Freetown. The black settlers, referred to as the Creoles or Krios were returning to Africa in the late 18th century: freed slaves from Nova Scotia, the Maroons from Jamaica and poor blacks from Britain. The slave narratives of this time are fascinating. Today, the Krios are part of the rich ethnic diversity of Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone is well endowed in natural resources which is both an asset and “resource curse”. Freetown commands one of the world’s largest natural harbours. Sierra Leone is a mining centre. Its land yields diamondsrutilebauxitegoldiron and limonite. Diamond is the key natural resources that is found in the KonoKenema and Bodistricts in Sierra Leone. The mining industry of Sierra Leone accounted for 4.5 percent of the country’s GDP in 2007 and minerals made up 79 percent of total export revenue with diamonds accounting for 46 percent of export revenue in 2008. According to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (2014 Report), Sierra Leone received USD 58 million in revenue from its extractive industry operations. Eighty five percent of these revenues came from the mining sector, with the rest mainly stemming from exploration activities in the petroleum sector. Unfortunately, the country’s rich natural resources have not metamorphosed into economic growth. Sierra-Leone is among the poorest countries in Africa. This is sad, if we consider the fact that Sierra Leone was the attractive hub destination for international visitors in the 1990s.

Sierra Leone must capitalise on its human resources, which is the most important resource that any country can have. The entrepreneurs we met are a testament to that. These entrepreneurs are building businesses that focus on local solutions for local challenges in agriculture, waste management, construction and renewable energy, to name but a few. They are eager to share their business stories, impact of the disaster on their families and friends, as well as their hopes and aspirations. We were interrupted by the President and Mr Elumelu to meet the entrepreneurs who gave their best business elevator pitch in the short time. The TEF Meet-Ups are a critical pillar of the programme, with Mr Elumelu leveraging his convening power to introduce the TEF entrepreneurs to their respective presidents and policy makers and evangelising entrepreneurship across Africa.

Edward Nonie, one of the TEF Entrepreneurs, shares his story of how he had volunteered his company’s services and man power to the UN Operations to provide immediate risk assessment, topographical mapping using drones and geological surveys of the mudslide sites on Sugar Loaf Mountain, where the disaster occurred. Listening, I am impressed by just how far this startup has come in just one year with training, mentoring and seed grant of $5000 he has received from the Foundation’s entrepreneurship programme! Imagine the impact, if the government and the private sector leaders in Sierra Leone came together to empower talented entrepreneurs like him to develop local solutions to local challenges?”

Entrepreneurs, like Edward Nonie, hold the key to the development of Sierra Leone and the government must invest in them and the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem: Business Support, Finance, Human Capital, Culture, Policy, Research & Development, Infrastructure, and Access to Markets. Investing in these eight pillars will promote entrepreneurship and market system performance which are vital for job and wealth creation. Sierra Leone will be doomed to continue with the begging bowl for decades to come if it fails to invest in these eight pillars. In all people, even in Sierra Leone, you find different kinds of talents, and entrepreneurship is about harnessing those talents, and making sure that it takes people to another level in their personal development.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship in the continent with the aim of discovering and raising African entrepreneurs through training, mentoring, networking, and funding of start-ups on the African continent. The annual TEF Entrepreneurship Programme which commits $100 million to training, mentoring, and funding of 10,000 African entrepreneurs, over 10 years, is the largest business plan competition on the continent. In 2015, the foundation received 20,000 applications. In 2016, this doubled to 45,000. This year over 93,000 African Entrepreneurs applied from 54 African countries. So, it is important for the government to develop the private sector and to create an environment that enables entrepreneurs to flourish.

In Sierra Leone, entrepreneurship is still at it ‘teething stage’. There is a disconnect between Business Support Services and Entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone. The business environment in Sierra-Leone must be developed. The Doing Business 2017 report, conducted by the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank, ranks Sierra Leone 148 out of 190 economies for overall ease of doing business, down 3 places from its 2016 rank. Africa sits at the bottom in the global rank of infrastructure by continent and Sierra Leone is in the bottom tier therein. The scale of Sierra Leone’s infrastructure deficit has been compounded by a staggering rate of urbanization, whereby 38% of residents are now urban dwellers. Sierra Leone’s network of trunk and feeder roads is severely deteriorated and unable to provide all-weather access to key producing centres (AFDB, 2016). Obviously, entrepreneurship cannot thrive without strengthening these eight key areas. Although there are a lot of barriers, entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone is necessary for the country to become a developed nation.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation has designed a unique “made in Africa, by an African and for Africans entrepreneurship programme” which we know works. We would like to offer this structured approach to growing the next generation of African Entrepreneurs to Sierra Leone and other African nation to adopt and adapt for their respective countries. While Mr Tony Elumelu’s donation of $500,000 will go towards addressing the immediate challenge, it is the long-term investment in the human capital that will yield sustainable transformation of the beautiful Sierra Leone. Entrepreneurship is the surest way forward for economic growth and development

As we leave Sierra Leone, I feel compelled to return, to spend more time meeting people, hearing their stories, their hopes, and ambitions. I am reminded of the words of Ishmael Beah, author and human rights activist. A child soldier in the Sierra Leone civil war, he rose to fame with his critically acclaimed memoir, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Solider. He said: “I guess what I’d like to say is that people in Sierra Leone are human beings, just like Americans. They want to send their kids to school; they want to live in peace; they want to have their basic rights of life just like everyone else. I think we all owe an obligation to support people who want to do that.”

Africans can help Africans. Tony Elumelu has taken a bold step. This is a clarion call to all. As Pope John Paul II once said: “Nobody is so poor that he has nothing to give, and nobody is so rich that he has nothing to receive.”  Sierra Leone may be lagging, but no matter how long the night, the day is sure to come.

*CEO at The Tony Elumelu Foundation.Article culled from Linkedin page

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ATA’s 41st Annual World Tourism Conference Showcases African Tourism
September 5, 2017 | 0 Comments
Rwandan President Paul Kagame in a hand shake with Florie Liselle of the CCA

Rwandan President Paul Kagame in a hand shake with Florie Liselle of the CCA

Kigali, Rwanda – September 5, 2017: The Africa Travel Association (ATA) hosted the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Kigali, Rwanda from August 28-31, 2017. The conference, which was developed to promote tourism as an engine for economic growth across Africa, was attended by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, who delivered the keynote address.

Hosted in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), The 41st Annual World Tourism Conference attracted a select group of more than 200 public and private stakeholders in the African tourism sector including ministers of tourism, senior officials of national tourism boards from across the continent, airlines, hotels, travel agents and tour operators, as well digital platforms and service providers in the tourism industry such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, MasterCard, Tastemakers Africa, Facebook, Uber, Afro Tourism, Tourvest, and Marriott International.

In addition to President Kagame, other notable guests included Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary-General, Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB and the United States Ambassador to Rwanda, Amb. Erica Barks Ruggles.

“Rwanda, like other countries on the continent, is keen to convert our favourable demographics into economic growth and prosperity,” said President Kagame in his keynote address. “The services sector – in particular, tourism – provides some of the best opportunities.”

Tourism is already doing well in Rwanda and the country is a strong example of how tourism can boost economic growth. The tourism sector is the country’s largest foreign exchange earner and Rwanda has liberalized its visa policies, which has led to a huge growth in tourists especially from Africa. The government is also investing heavily in infrastructure including a new airport to support a growing number of tourists. President Kagame did note however, that more could still be done to grow Rwandan tourism especially by harnessing technology and the new opportunities technological innovation can bring.

“This conference is particularly important to us, because tourism plays a key role in Rwanda’s economy,” said Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB, who welcomed attendees to Rwanda. According to Ms. Akamanzi, Rwanda’s tourism receipts doubled between 2010 and 2016 to more than USD $400 million.

CCA President and CEO, Ms. Florie Liser focused on the unique role ATA and CCA will play in the sector’s development “Under CCA’s new vision and leadership, I would like to affirm our commitment to continuing the promotion of sustainable development of tourism to and within Africa through new initiatives,” said Ms. Liser. One of those initiatives, ATAcademy, is a platform to support capacity building and inclusive growth for tourism professionals on the continent. The second initiative, ATA Connex, will focus on increasing investments in tourism through facilitated business-to-business and business-to-government linkages.

As part of the ATAcademy initiative, ATA hosted a series of capacity building sessions at the conference. Travel agents and tour operators attended sessions focused on North American travelers and on the tourism market and sustainability. “The United States – we are pleased to say – accounts for the single largest source of tourism in Rwanda as well as the largest single bilateral foreign direct investment country,” said U.S. Ambassador Erica Barks Ruggles.

UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, shared highlights of the recent UNCTAD report on African tourism, Economic Development in Africa Report 2017: Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth. “The most startling and interesting discovery in our study is that by far, the fastest growing tourism in Africa is intra-African tourism,” said Dr, Kituyi. “Intra-African tourism is 12 months a year.” Over the last 10 years, intra-African tourism has grown from 34 percent to 44 percent of total African tourism revenues and is projected to be more than 50 percent in the next 10 years. Dr. Kituyi also emphasized a need to change Africa’s image perception and the importance of peace and security for tourism to thrive.

In less than 15 years, Africa’s travel and hospitality industries have quadrupled in size, and the continent remains one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia. The 41st World Tourism Conference featured more than 20 in-depth plenaries and breakout sessions with industry experts and professionals to discuss the latest trends and insights in African tourism and how best to grow the continent’s market share.

This year was the first time ATA’s Tourism Conference was hosted in Rwanda. The conference aligned with Kwita Izina, Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, a national celebration creating awareness of the country’s efforts to protect the jewel of Rwanda’s tourism crown: the mountain gorillas and their habitat.

About the Africa Travel Association 

Established in 1975, The African Travel Association serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry. ATA membership comprises African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour operators and travel agents, and affiliate industries. ATA partners with the African Union Commission (AU) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa.

About the Corporate Council on Africa

Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting U.S. and African business interests. CCA serves as a neutral, trusted intermediary connecting its member firms with the essential government and business leaders they need to do business and succeed in Africa.

*Courtesy of CCA

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In Barrow’s Gambia ,not much has changed except Freedom of Speech- Journalist Kebba Jeffang Jnr
September 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Kebba Jeffang Jnr recently ihad an interview with President Adama Barrow.Such interviews were unheard of in the Jammeh years

Kebba Jeffang Jnr recently ihad an interview with President Adama Barrow.Such interviews were unheard of in the Jammeh years

As the government of President Adama Barrow grapples with meeting high expectations of the Gambian people, the there is a noticeable change in freedom of expression says Journalist Kebba Jeffang Jnr.

Kebba Jeffang who covers the State House for the Foroyaa newspaper says Gambians express themselves more freely today than was the case during much of the 22 year rule of former President Yaya Jammeh.

Jeffang who has interviewed President Adama Barrow twice says his administration deserves some bragging rights for opening up the media space and providing an environment where Gambians can talk freely, air their views and criticize the government without fear of arrest.

Other than freedom of expression, not much has changed or is changing at a pace acceptable to Gambians since the Barrow Administration took office says Jeffang  who  is also President of  the Young Journalists Association of Gambia in an interview with Pan African Visions.

Thanks for accepting to talk to us, it’s been over seven months now since President Adama Barrow took over power, what is the mood like in Gambia today?

Expectations are certainly high in the Gambia on all affairs that one could think of. The victims of the former dictatorial regime of the ex-president Yahya Jammeh are so much in anticipation to see justice done by the present government. You must understand that a lot of people were tortured, resulting in deaths, while many others were paralyzed psychologically, and physically, due to different forms of torture. Miserably, many people went missing without trace. No information has ever been heard about them even though the new government set up a committee to look into cases to release many disappeared people, yet some have gone for good. Few special cases to epitomize that are the disappearance of Journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh who hasn’t been seen since 2006, a political activist Kanyiba Kanyi and many others. Recently, they were confirmed that they were actually been killed by the former regime.

A lot more were killed such as the country’s former Finance Minister Ousman Koro Ceesay who was found dead in his vehicle on the  outskirts of the   city of  Banjul, a political activist Ebrima Solo Sandeng was killed after staging a protest calling for electoral reforms in April, 2016 as well as the gunned down veteran journalist Deyda Hydara. The direct victims and those victims whose cases can only be fought by their relatives are consistently running out of patience just to see that justice is seen to be done. Despite the already kicked-off move by the government to set up the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), many are saying there will be no consideration for forgiveness, and healing of victims must begin now.

Aside that, the country has evidently been experiencing a very dilapidated economy as currency has been consistently depreciated against the foreign currencies.

Young people were been promised by the new government prior to their election in December, 2016, that the scarcity of jobs will be history. The lack of a large job market for youths has led to the menace of irregular migration that causes the dead of many Gambians at the Mediterranean Sea. This is a significant area of expectation for fulfillment but so far in seven months, much remains unchanged .

In terms of changes, besides the departure of Jammeh, what has changed for the country under Barrow?

Not much has changed in terms of infrastructural developments in the country like wise in the area of markets as the country’s stable food ‘rice’ remains at a sky-rocketing price. But fundamentally, one great achievement one must also attribute to Barrow’s government is the respect of freedoms of the people. There is undoubtedly freedom of expression, as well as for the press. People are coming out to criticize the leader and the government openly on social media platforms without any instinct of fear while the media is working with no fear of reprisals. So far, this is the main significant distinction between present administration and the previous government as far as Barometer for Barrow’s government is concerned. The transport fare tariffs has been reduced recently as well across the country to march the global petrol prices.

Would you say Gambians are interested in a probe of the Jammeh years or  there are ready to move forward with the Barrow Administration and to hold them accountable for the electoral promises that brought them to power?

Already, there is an established Commission of Inquiry probing into the finances and assets of the former President and his associates. Many senior members of his cabinet, managers of the banks, and his many close associates are been called to testify in order to ascertain the embezzlement of public funds, and abuse of peoples’ properties by Jammeh. There have been substantial revelations that could help the government to have a legal footing against the former leader. So people are interested to do this to the extent that even if the government fails to be serious about it, it could pay the price. As I said people are running out of patience, but they are at least bearing with the government for now with an understanding that high damages done in 22 years rule cannot be addressed just in seven or eight months. I don’t think the Gambians will allow themselves to be looking at any leaders anymore wasting their resources and putting them under misruling and unfair treatment without holding to account.

With honest advisers who think beyond selfish and partisan interests, President Barrow could do interesting things for Gambia says Kebba Jeffang Jnr

With honest advisers who think beyond selfish and partisan interests, President Barrow could do interesting things for Gambia says Kebba Jeffang Jnr

Recently you had a one on one interview with President Barrow, how was this interview arranged and would you consider this a departure from the Jammeh years?

As I said, this is the fundamental achievement Barrow’s government can brag about. The media and people are free to raise certain issues which might have  been considered as sensitive and no go areas in the Jammeh years. I work for an independent paper Foroyaa Newspaper and I was assigned to be the correspondent in charge of State House matters so I have. It was non-thinking for independent newspapers to have the thought of interviewing the former leader due to his antagonism with the media. Barrow had promised in January that he will be organizing a bi-annual press conference with the journalists irrespective of which media house a reporter comes from. But this past media conference was preceded by one-on-one interviews and I applied a slot and I was given. It is important that Barrow be credited for this achievement. However, this is what is highly expected of him and his failure to do it could create him very bad attributions which will certainly destroy him.

In the course of the interview, was the President at ease with the media and did you get the impression that he was fully abreast of developments in the country and the direction he wants to take the Gambia?

The Gambia’s Adama Barrow is a soft man and not an outspoken person. He is a composed character with high-level of maturity. But he is a type that doesn’t give journalists what they always want. His answers towards issues are always short and precise and you wouldn’t easily push to further because he will insist not to. Sometimes, you as journalist will think that he is not well informed about issues. This could be right because he hadn’t been an active political player prior to election when he was selected to lead the coalition of 8 parties even though he came from the then largest opposition party.  In fact, many times during the campaign he was quoted saying he might not have the stuffs but his associates are well experienced people. But despite all these shortcomings, the president is a good listener. And let me say this, if he gets honest advisers, who are not affected by party or any selfish interest, despite his low understanding on issues, he can lead the Gambia to the right place. Let different stakeholders in all arms of government continue to do their job well seeing the Gambia first, The Gambia will move towards right direction.

Many Gambians have not had the opportunity to meet President Barrow in person, what can you tell Gambians about him based on your interactions, and how different is he from former President Jammeh?

As I said earlier, he is a respectful man, down to earth leader; he likes teasing people including journalists. He likes using proverbs to emphasize his points. Importantly, he is a good listener. However, on the other hand, his softness could be seen by many as a person who can be easily manipulated by certain special interests.

 What is the state of the opposition platform that brought President Barrow to power?

I must say that disunity has entered inside the united force that brought the Gambia into safe hands. According to the President when I had my first exclusive interview with him immediately after his election in January, just before the impasse, he confirmed to me that he is a transitional leader who agreed to serve three years and then all parties will go back to their various camps and contest another election. However, in my recent interview, I brought up this issue again and this time he responded with a brief answer that the issue about his tenure is left to Gambian people to decide. This has since been creating confusion and reactions at the camps of the various parties and in the public domain. The initiator of the Coalition talks Halifa Sallah, the leader of the socialist party also said his party wouldn’t take any executive posts citing party principles. This also brought some confusion as to why a key player like Sallah will reject ministerial positions if he really meant the unity. Sallah insisted that they are better in the National Assembly in order to create a better representative house and make Gambia a perfect democratic state. The leader of the United Democratic Party lawyer Ousainou Darboe who was imprisoned before the election said Barrow will serve complete 5 years as dictated by the Constitution, and not the agreement Barrow had with stakeholders citing that the MoU that brought together the 8 parties was not even signed. As things stand, the fracas has been widening  all over the country from different camps.

There are Gambians who have been side lined  like Omar Faye former Ambassador of Gambia to the USA who put country first in opposition to plans by Jammeh to hang on to power, is the government making a mistake by trying to shut out people who served under Jammeh , even the good ones?

Other than freedom of expression, not much has changed or is changing at a pace acceptable to Gambians since the Barrow Administration took office says Jeffang

Other than freedom of expression, not much has changed or is changing at a pace acceptable to Gambians since the Barrow Administration took office says Jeffang

Actually, many senior government officials have been put aside particularly among the ministers. However, many,  especially in the public sector are being retained by the new government. Some diplomats too are being retained so far even though many were relieved. Although Mr. Faye was among the first people to openly tell Jammeh to relinquish power when he rejected the polls, he was an opened defender of  some of Jammeh’s actions in his prime time. Could it be that he was sacked as Gambian ambassador to the United States? I don’t know. But I must state that it wouldn’t be a better idea for the government to get rid of all former employees of Jammeh. Some of these people are rare talented technocrats in various domains and they have the potential to deliver. After all, no matter what, they are Gambians, and it is the duty of the government to provide employment to its citizens irrespective of party affiliation, religion, tribe or gender.

What has become of the ruling party that Jammeh used to stay in power?

Jammeh was capitalizing on the disunity among the opposition parties for 22 years. His opponents will always hold talks for unity and put a one force coalition against Jammeh but it always fail to materialize until last year. There is no doubt that this is the fundamental reason why Jammeh was winning elections for long. Another point would be that Jammeh during his campaigns will be threatening electorates that if he wins, any region he lost the election in, will not be considered for development. This fear in many areas particularly among women folks kept him up for such a lengthy time.

22 years of Gambian history under Jammeh will certainly not be erased overnight, while he may be a villain now, are there any positive things he did for the country that Gambian may remember him for someday?

Jammeh did quite some  infrastructural development ,such as road constructions in many parts of the country ,and he rehabilitated many as well. Before, the Gambia’s election was organized by the Local Government authorities, until Jammeh set up the Independent Electoral Commission charged with conducting elections. This however, did not guarantee his noninterference in the results as he was responsible for hiring and firing of electoral chiefs. He also set up the only television station in the Gambia called the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS). There was never a television station in the Gambia before his coming as President. He established the only University of the Gambia which made higher education in the country possible. There is a lot more that Jammeh actually did for the Gambia. However, his good deeds are overshadowed by the torturing, killing, and disappearance  of people without any due cause.

You are a political reporter of Foroyaa Newspaper, can you tell us a little about your paper and what impact the political changes have had on your paper and the broader media landscape in Gambia?

Foroyaa was founded in 1987 as a media arm of the People’s Democratic Organization Independence and Socialism (PDOIS). It was later modified to be a registered independent newspaper in the second republic under Jammeh’s rule. The paper has since been giving an equal voice to people, analytical reporting on political matters, and investigations into inhumane activities. It was the most followed paper during the repressive regime of Jammeh due to its high regard for human rights violations, abuse of power by power holders. The daily paper still remains credible in and outside the country due to its strong editorial stance.

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Nigeria can beat anyone in Africa, vows John Obi Mikel
September 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

BY COLIN UDOH*

Nigeria can beat anyone in Africa, vows John Obi Mikel

Nigeria can beat anyone in Africa, vows John Obi Mikel

In the aftermath of Nigeria’s comprehensive rout of African champions Cameroon in World Cup qualifying on Friday, captain John Mikel Obi has vowed that the Super Eagles can beat any team in Africa if they play to their potential.

Mikel, along with four other experienced heads, returned to the team from injury to help mastermind the trouncing of their cross-border rivals and believes it’s just a taste of what’s to come from Gernot Rohr’s side.

“The players are very intelligent players, they listen a lot and we all work together as a team,” he told journalists in the post-match press conference. “If we continue playing this way and do what we are doing now, we can beat anyone in Africa.”

The experienced Mikel, a veteran of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations triumph, added the Super Eagles’ second goal in Uyo after setting up Odion Ighalo for the opener, and demonstrated just what an influential role he plays in Rohr’s reshaped squad.

“We have a very young team. I feel I have a responsibility every time I step on the pitch to play,” he continued. “This team needs experience, this team needs guidance.

“The players are good players, quick players but sometimes they need someone who can direct them, to make sure we have balance and that’s what we did today.

“I will do my best, I will carry this team same as I did in the Olympics,” the Tianjin TEDA midfielder continued. “I want to make sure we go to the World Cup and qualify for the Nations Cup.”

Recovering from four months on the sidelines after knee surgery, Mikel said he worked hard to be ready for the game.

“I knew I had to come back as quickly as possible,” the former Chelsea man added. “I spoke to the coach even before we lost the game against South Africa.

“We are always in contact. I told him the injury was a bad injury. I told him I would do what I can to get myself ready for this game. All I needed to do was to put my head down and just ‘work work work’…and that’s exactly what I did.

“I’m still not hundred percent yet but I promised him I would be here for this game and that’s exactly what I did. We communicate very well and the team is great.”

With three more games to go, Nigeria are one of only two teams in CAF’s World Cup qualifying programme – along with Tunisia — with a hundred percent record, but Mikel has warned Eagles fans that their team aren’t over the line just yet.

“It’s not finished yet,” the Champions League winner cautioned. “We can go to Cameroon and get a good result — draw or a win — and that’s what we want to do.”

*ESPN

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Revolution On The Way For African Football with Afro Millions Lotto- James Leppard of Offertas 365
September 4, 2017 | 2 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

 

James Leppard is CEO of Ofertas365

James Leppard is CEO of Ofertas365

Launched in partnership with the Nigerian Football League, the Afro Millions Lotto will offer players and football fans the ability to win life changing jack pots, says James Leppard ,CEO of Ofertas 365,the British based company operating the Lotto.

Ofertas 365 helps football clubs and charities in emerging markets raise money through the lotto, says James Leppard who believes that the initiative could help grow the game in Nigeria and Africa.

“Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country; it offers the biggest possible audience and has the most advanced football league,” says Leppard in justification of the choice to launch Afro Millions there. The plan is to progressively move to other African counties ,Leppard said.

“In most African countries, sports clubs and charities have not started commercializing their supporter base. AfroMillionsLotto will serve to start this process, allowing people to compete for life-changing jackpot prizes whilst helping their chosen club or charity,” said Leppard.

Can you start by introducing your company Ofertas 365?

Ofertas365 Limited is a publicly traded company on the dcsx. It is a UK company with three directors, four board advisors (including three from Nigeria) and more than 120 shareholders.

Your company is launching  the Afro Millions Lotto (www.afromillionslotto.com)  with the football league in Nigeria, can you explain the logic behind this lottery and why the choice of Nigeria?

Lotto is a very popular way to raise funds in the UK – from football clubs such as Arsenal, Leicester City, Swansea City, WBA in the English Premier League; Glamorgan, Durham and Hampshire cricket clubs; Gloucester, Sale Sharks and Wasps rugby clubs, through to charities including the RSPCA and Cancer Research, all of whom raise money through their own lotto.

In most African countries, sports clubs and charities have not started commercializing their supporter base. AfroMillionsLotto will serve to start this process, allowing people to compete for life-changing jackpot prizes whilst helping their chosen club or charity.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country; it offers the biggest possible audience and has the most advanced football league, as well as being recognised as an international football power.

In what way do you think this lottery is going to help the growth of football in Nigeria?

Clubs get a share of the revenue from every ticket sold – people can only buy tickets from the clubs’ lotto website – so whoever wants to play (football fans or otherwise) has to buy a ticket from one of the NPFL clubs. Clubs will earn recurring revenue to enable them to spend money on player development, youth football and academies, stadium and pitch improvements, for example. AfroMillionsLotto also provides their fans and communities great entertainment value and additional engagement with the club.

Is Ofertas365 doing  business in any other part of Africa at the moment or do you have plans to expand the lottery to other parts of Africa?

Nigeria is our first footprint in Africa, but we have ambitious plans to replicate the model throughout the continent, wherever we may operate under our license.

For countries or clubs interested in your services, what needs to be done, or is it Ofertas that makes the first move when it sees potential?

Clubs, leagues or federations are invited to contact us via www.afromillionslotto.com – we are already pitching to a number of other federations and charities.

Your company is based in London and the English league is one of the best, what can Africa learn from that league and what lotteries like yours can do to add fun and advance the game ?

The English Premier League is the benchmark. African clubs can certainly learn from the EPL how to commercialise their fan bases; be it merchandise, events, credit cards, loyalty cards or sports betting and lotto. The clubs in the UK are expert at generating extra revenue – beyond match day ticket sales – through their fans, most of whom are staunchly loyal to the clubs they support.

Any other plans that Ofertas has in the works for Africa ?

Following our launch with the NPFL, we would like to work with every football league in Africa as well as charities across the continent.

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RAILA ODINGA: THE CONFLICTING PERSONALITY OF AN ELECTION PETITION WINNER
September 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Chief Charles A. Taku*

NASA Presidential aspirant Raila Odinga addressing the Press

NASA Presidential aspirant Raila Odinga addressing the Press

Honourable Raila Omolo Odinga, the controversial and polarizing Kenyan opposition politician is a conflicted personality. He is a career politician and civil society political activist combined.  These qualities make him unmistakably the Lakayana of Kenyan politics. While both qualities may on occasion advance his diverse political objectives, they often collide at critical moments in his political life making the attainment of his political ambition elusive.

These qualities make him complex; even mesmerizing. Those who love and adore him, do so passionately. Those who abhor and distrust him do so passionately in equal measure. He is unmistakably a polarizing personality in dire need of political power in a country in need of a uniting leader.

During the last election which earned Uhuru Kenyatta his first presidential mandate, Philip Ochieng, one of the most respected journalists in Kenya, wrote in the Sunday Nation that following on the footsteps of his father Jaramogi Odinga Odinga, Raila Omolo Odinga was his own worst enemy. All it needs to prove the validity of this assessment, is to provide Raila with a platform and crowd.  Then he has no control over his speech, its consequences and its political cost.  This quality was on display when he faced the press, his cheering supports and an anxious electorate after the delivery of the Supreme Judgment in his favour annulling the presidential elections in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was proclaimed the winner.

He was everything but presidential in his speech. Rather to take the opportunity of that rare election petition victory to calm a politically restive nation.  He threatened, castigated, criticized, pontificated, and baited his perceived or real enemies.  In short, he sounded more like a civil society political activist during his election petition victory speech than a presidential candidate who had just been granted another lease of life to contest a crucial election in two months. In the end, he failed to even appeal to the electorate to vote for him.

The hard fact is that, the decision of the Supreme Court of Kenya annulling the Presidential election result that favoured President Uhuru Kenyatta should be applauded not for its outcome, for like all judicial decisions it still has to undergo the rigours of informed scrutiny, but for the fact that at long last an African country, and Kenya for that matter, has proved that it has the capacity to deliver effective, efficient and independent justice. The International Criminal Court with the hypocritical approval of erstwhile colonial Western powers relied on this fallacy to violate the complementarity  safeguards of the Rome treaty to inappropriately target Kenya and indeed Africa in its interventions from when it was established.

The constitution of Kenya that provided the constitutional guarantees of the separation of powers which was exercised in the full glare and satisfaction of the world at large in particular the Western world, in this election petition,  was in place when Moreno Ocampo, urged on by the same Western actors and by Raila Odinga intervened in the 2007 election violence conflict in Kenya on the grounds that Kenya did not have an effective, efficient and independent Judiciary to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the 2007 election violence. With the present decision, the scales of prejudice have sudden fallen and the Kenya Judiciary is all praises from the patronizing erstwhile colonial West; not for the justice of the Supreme Court judgment that is still subject to judicial scrutiny, but for the fact that in context, it comes close to doing what they would have wanted done but for the fact that in this case, popular sovereignty as opposed to judiciary fiat may yet again determine the outcome of the elections in two months.

I must admit, and all respecters of the rule of law must, as President Uhuru Kenyatta did, that the Supreme Court of Kenya and indeed the lower courts before whom election petitions were brought, fulfilled their constitutional mandate effectively, efficiently and independently. For this, the Judiciary of Kenya merits praise. It always has. It is another thing if the outcome of judicial proceedings before the courts were acceptable or not.  In this case, the ultimate arbiter, call it the supreme judge is not the judiciary, it is the sovereign people of Kenya in their exercise of its inalienable, unimpeachable right of popular sovereignty to elect its leaders.

If there was any lingering doubt therefore, about the falsity of the claims that Kenya did not have an independent, efficient and effective judiciary as alleged by Moreno Ocampo and his handlers, then the successful litigation of election petitions by Kenyan lower courts and ultimately, its Supreme Court has proved them wrong. However, the ghost of the ICC was visible in this election and will remain visible in the next round and future elections. In many ways, it will inhibit the ability of Raila Odinga to win the repeat elections.

Four judges overruled two others, believing there was enough uncertainty to undermine the election result

Four judges overruled two others, believing there was enough uncertainty to undermine the election result

This may be discerned from the misplaced message conveyed through his Supreme Court election petition celebratory speech. His resolve to prosecute election officials instead of using the moment to celebrate in measured humility, reassure millions of voters who perceive him as vindictive, abrasive and dictatorial, may further alienate him from critical voters who value peace and unity of the nation over triumphalist display of person power.

During the last election which saw Uhuru Kenyatta win his first mandate, Raila squandered his best opportunity of ever becoming the President of Kenya by deconstructing a formidable alliance he formed with a youthful, ambitious, savvy and perhaps most skillful politician in Kenya Deputy Vice President William Ruto. He did so by offering him as a sacrificial lamb to Ocampo.

In his miscalculation, he perceived the ICC intervention as a means of depriving William Ruto of the possibility of sharing in the effervescence of his then rising political profile.  He miscalculated, for Mr Ruto is a political product of the majority ordinary people of Kenya who see their image in him and consider him as one of theirs. The ordinary people of Kenya have long traced and refined his path to presidential power and this is obvious even to the jaundiced eye. He has merely been playing for his time to come to embark on the journey to fulfill his people’s will.   A smart politician, he did not want to squander the opportunity when the potential path to the presidency in 2020 came calling. Raila Odinga’s political miscalculation and the ICC proceedings provided him that opportunity.

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are good students of history.  The patronizing support given by Western countries to the ICC proceedings gave them the opportunity to position themselves as defenders of the sovereignty of Kenya and the liberating cause of new Africa. The humiliating campaign against the ability of the judicial institutions of Kenya to conduct post-election violence proceedings, the same institutions that are being hailed by the same erstwhile colonial Western countries, required genuine leaders to standup to the challenge and mobilize Kenyans to defend their national pride and their sovereignty.  Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto offered this leadership while Raila Odinga largely portrayed himself through his own public pronouncements as a Western poodle in his unqualified support for the ICC proceedings. Whatever motivations he had for seeking political leadership while supporting proceedings which placed the sovereignty of his country under the ward of the ICC, in the political context of the proceedings, he was perceived as relying on the case as a means of settling internal political scores and eliminating his political opponents from contesting the elections against him.

The Supreme Court's decision sparked celebrations by supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga

The Supreme Court’s decision sparked celebrations by supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga

That backfired and he lost the elections.  The credibility of the ICC came out seriously bruised in the process because its intervention was not perceived to be in the best interest of Kenya and the victims of the election violence. The overwhelming evidence of Western interference portrayed the Kenya ICC cases as politically motivated. At the end of his mandate as the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Moreno Ocampo in published newspaper and television interviews confirmed this fact.

During this election, an ICC official in the Prosecutor’s Office made a misguided statement in a conference in Arusha in neighbouring Tanzania linking the potential outcome of the Kenya election to a potential reviving of the ICC cases in the case the opposition candidate won. This admittedly uncoordinated statement nevertheless places the statement by Raila Odinga about prosecuting election commission members into the providential focus which Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto may in addition to their largely positive development record, ride on to victory once again.

Why must Raila Odinga want to get election officials prosecuted when the Supreme Court did not make a finding of criminal conduct?  Was this a forewarning that a result short of victory for him in the repeat elections will not be accepted by him?  Was it a forewarning of another round of litigation to dissolve the election commission and compromise the organization of the election he may lose?  Will this not lead to a constitutional crisis where this to happen? No matter from what perspective this attack and threat of prosecution may be perceived, it portrays Raila Odinga as a potentially vengeful politician who thrives on the politics on politics of bitterness.

Raila Odinga squandered his moment of glory in focusing on yet another prosecution rather than taking advantage of the glare and focus of the moment to mobilize his base and Kenyans in general to give him their votes in two months. He failed to appeal for peace, reconciliation and national healing after a very polarizing judicial experience. He failed to explain why he sought for the poll to be nullified to the electorate. He impressed professional judges of the Supreme Court about his reasons for seeking and obtaining an annulment of the elections in which he lost.  He still must do a better job explaining to the electorate he will be facing in two months.

The case, its outcome and his celebratory rhetoric may energize the majority who voted against him to defend their franchise by voting against him in even greater numbers.  The bane of Raila Odinga has always been his inability to reconcile Raila the civil society political activist from Raila the career politician.  He has never understood that although bed partners, these attributes are on critical occasions strange bed fellows.  The bull instant in political activism is at critical moments, the bane of career politicians. It may take an election petition victory and a repeat election to lose for Raila Odinga to finally come to terms with this reality.

In contrast, Uhuru Kenyatta was presidential and humble in his speech in which he disagreed with the outcome of the judgment but accepted the outcome nevertheless.  Calling for peace to reign, he took the opportunity to relaunch his election campaign. He reminded the people of Kenya to whom he and his deputy have turned to since the ICC challenge, that the power to decide the destiny of Kenya belonged to them not to six individuals constituting a court of law.

That appeal succeeded and helped them to win the Presidential elections regarding the ICC proceedings. It may succeed once more with the Supreme Court Judgment acting as a tonic, call it a fig leaf of mobilization for a greater electoral victory come two months.   Raila Odinga by promising Kenyans further court cases and prosecutions may have paved the way for the people to deny him that opportunity. He may have unwittingly placed the spotlight on the focus on the possibility of a revived ICC nightmare under a Raila Odinga presidency.  He seems not to have learnt the painful lesson that his prior support for this nightmare among other reasons led to a majority of his people rejecting him in the last election.

Kenyans know that Raila did not challenge the election outcome which largely favoured his opponent. He challenged but the constitutionality and the legality of the conduct of the elections. His greatest challenge remains how to convince the majority that elected Uhuru and Ruto to switch over and vote for him. If he carefully reflected on the Supreme Court Judgment prior to making his celebratory speech, he should have known that that Judgement did not find any wrong doing against Uhuru Kenyatta based on which the electorate would have sanctioned him. On the contrary, the constitutional violations, illegalities and procedural inadequacies by the election commission deprived him of victory in an election whose outcome was neither in doubt nor contested by Raila in his petition. Raila in his celebratory speech inappropriately sought inappropriately to place blames for the failures of the election commission on his adversary where none was found by the Supreme Court. If his Supreme Court election speech is a template of his election performance in two months, then I regret, he may not prevail in the court of popular sovereignty.

There are several logistical and organizational odds that militate against his ability to conduct an effective campaign within just two months.  He benefitted from a steady flow of international goodwill, tactical and strategic support during the annulled poll.  It is inconceivable, considering the electoral map of Kenya, that this key constituency will again invest in a repeat election when the outcome of the annulled election was never challenged.  The appeal for calm by President Uhuru Kenyatta apart, the calm that followed the Supreme Court Judgment may be an unmistakable exercise of confidence that in two months this silent majority may yet again reassert its sovereignty over its choice of leader. And Raila Odinga tacitly acknowledged the reality of that choice by not challenging the critical choice that was made in the annulled poll.

  • Chief Charles A. Taku is an international lawyer writing from The Hague The Netherlands.

 

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David Maraga: The brave judge who made Kenyan history
September 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
Kenya's Chief Justice David Maraga, and three of his colleagues, created history by annulling the August presidential election

Kenya’s Chief Justice David Maraga, and three of his colleagues, created history by annulling the August presidential election

Kenya’s Chief Justice David Maraga, and three of his colleagues, have created history by annulling the August presidential election.

It is unprecedented in Africa for an opposition court challenge against a presidential election to succeed.

Kenyans have praised Justice Maraga for having the courage to rule against the man who appointed him, President Uhuru Kenyatta, and for restoring their faith in the independence of the judiciary.

Several Kenyan papers have referred to Justice Maraga as a person of integrity, which they attribute to his being a devout Seventh-day Adventist.

He reportedly told an interview panel that if appointed Chief Justice, he would never preside over a case on a Saturday, a day of rest and worship for members of the Adventist faith.

Some have speculated that this may have been the reason the first sitting of the presidential election petition was held on a Saturday night, after the Sabbath had ended.

It is reported that while being vetted for his job, he was confronted with allegations that he had taken bribes.

He surprised the public by standing before TV cameras and swearing on a Bible that he had never taken a bribe in his life.

‘Not a government project’

Justice Maraga, 66, graduated as a lawyer 40 years ago from the University of Nairobi, before going into private practice.

He was appointed a judge in 2003 and rose to join the Court of Appeal in 2012.

He is married and has three children.

Last year, following the early retirement of former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, he beat off stiff competition from 10 other prominent judges, legal practitioners and academics to be nominated by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) to become chief justice.

However, earlier this year he is reported to have rebuked the man who appointed him – President Kenyatta.

Mr Kenyatta, while campaigning for re-election in Justice Maraga’s home area, had told people that they should vote for him because his government had given “their son” a job.

The chief justice, through the JSC, stated that he was not a government project.

The president initially said he would accept the Supreme Court’s ruling, although he did question why “six people [the judges] have decided that they will go against the will of the people”.

However, he later said that the judges had been “paid by foreigners and other fools”.

“[Chief Justice] Maraga and his thugs have decided to cancel the election. Now I am no longer the president-elect. I am the serving president… Maraga should know that he is now dealing with the serving president.”

Despite the implied threat, the president does not have the power to sack the chief justice, whose single term expires when he turns 70.

*BBC

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Insight Into Atlas Africa: It is about Aligning Business Opportunities With Interested Parties, says CEO Lindi Gillespie.
August 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Lindi Gillespie is CEO of Atlas Africa

Lindi Gillespie is CEO of Atlas Africa

For Lindi Gillespie, connecting the right people to opportunities in the market place and creating viable and strategic partnerships is her passion. Leveraging her vast networks and experience garnered over a twenty year period in diverse marketing and business roles, Lindi Gillespie founded Atlas Africa, an investment and brokerage company with operational base from South Africa. The firm offers clients the opportunity to expand business prospects on a broad range of sectors across Africa and on the global stage.

As CEO of Atlas Africa, Lindi, a Graduate of the University of Cape Town has surrounded herself with a solid team of talented associates who pride themselves in providing tailor made investment brokerage services and the delivery of first class returns to their clients.

“We do our best to understand our client’s business needs and long term plans when putting together a marketing strategy for bringing their services and products into the African markets,” says Lindi, who was recently ranked amongst Africa’s top 25 Women in Leadership by Amazon Watch Magazine.

With the goal of building long term professional relationships based on honesty, integrity, and sustainable revenue generation, Atlas Africa has steadily grown its business portfolio across Africa and beyond. In addition to South Africa and the SADC sub region, Atlas has excelled in West and East Africa, and Lindi says there are a growing number of hotel deals going through in the Maldives and Europe.

“Our clients stick with us because we work hard for them and always do our very best to find the best solutions to their needs by using our International network,” says Lindi as she expresses the ambition to further grow and sustain the strong reputation of Atlas Africa when it comes to investing in the continent.

Ms Gillespie, thanks so much for accepting to grant this interview , you are CEO of Atlas Africa Group, could you start by introducing the Group for us, what does it do, and when was it created?

Atlas Africa Group was formed in December 2015 when I attended the Global African Investment Summit in London. The Atlas Africa Group finds financing for renewable energy projects internationally; but predominantly in Africa. I raise these funds from individual investors; pensions fund; renewable energy funds and private equity funds. We also focus on Projects that are property related. We are very involved in development of hotels and also the buying and selling of hotels in Africa and its surrounding islands. Other sectors of the economies in Africa are covered as well.

What motivated you to create the Group, what skill set did you have, may we also have an idea of the staff strength and profile of those who make up the Group?

The motivation to start the Group was the dire need for infrastructure development; electricity; urbanisation development and especially agriculture to feed the people of Africa. Sustainability in Africa was my core motivation – to assist with this process. My skills are mainly in marketing and in introducing people where synchronicity exists to make things happen around the continent. For example I work closely with the Swiss who have foundations to help the poor and also various funds that have budgets to help the underprivileged people in our communities. The kind of people I choose to work with are professionals who are experts in all the fields that I can’t fill! Such as accounting and office administration. I prefer face to face contact with clients; travelling for work related projects and marketing our pipeline of projects.

Lindi Gillespie and her talented associates at Atlas Africa pride themselves on offering tailor made, investment brokerage services and delivering first class returns to their clients

Lindi Gillespie and her talented associates at Atlas Africa pride themselves on offering tailor made, investment brokerage services and delivering first class returns to their clients

Let’s talk about the success stories, are there concrete examples of successful projects that have been carried out by the Atlas Group? Potential clients may be interested in knowing something about the track record of Atlas

Our success stories are mainly in renewable energy and infrastructure development. At the moment deals are being processed in the Ivory Coast and Mali. These deals are private and public projects. We also have a number of hotel deals going through in the Maldives and Europe. These deals involve International hotel brands and private equity firms. We are processing low cost housing projects in two areas of Namibia where building of houses will begin within the next few weeks.

For people interested in using the services of Atlas, what do they need to do and what additional guarantees does the Group have to assure clients of positive results?

For positive result with new clients, it is a question of what stage the project is based. For instance we have investors of Greenfield renewable energy projects but projects with all licences and a PPA is where most of the clients invest. When it comes to PPPs, countries that offer sovereign guarantees or some form of guarantees make the project more attractive to investors. For projects needing funds Atlas Africa is always open to consider these projects.

What other parts of Africa is the Group operating in besides South Africa where it is based?

Atlas Africa focuses mainly on countries of good governance. We focus on areas where is safe for workforce to complete projects. Our presence is mainly in the SADC region and various countries in East and West Africa.

How will you describe the business climate first in South Africa and on other parts of the continent where you do business?

With the downgrading of South Africa’s economic sector; there are challenges in all parts of the economy including private and public business. I focus most of Atlas Africa Group’s growth outside of South Africa. I have a number of property interests however in South Africa. Our press in South Africa is bullish which helps with addressing the corruption in the country. The corruption has affected growth in all areas of the economy and many people are taking their money out of the country; emigrating or disinvesting.

Lindi Gillespie was recently profiled as one of Africa’s Top 25 Women in Leadership by Amazon Watch Magazine, what did this mean for you?

Being chosen as one of the 25 most influential women in Africa was a huge achievement for me. It showed that the work I do in Africa counts and that I have a voice on the continent. I would like to become more involved with positive movements and change.

With Former President Thabo Mbeki and Zanele Mbeki in Johannesburg

With Former President Thabo Mbeki and Zanele Mbeki in Johannesburg

To young Africans especially the women who see in you a role model, and will want to emulate your example, what are some secrets of success that you have for them?

The secret of success for young women is to have a specific focus. The best choice is to align yourself with positive people who will support your ideas and your business growth. If you are an entrepreneur like myself ,you need to expect difficulties and challenges. This will keep you up at night but you need faith to keep going. So many deals fall through but it’s all part of being in the game of business. Try and secure finance so that you can get through the hard times when deals are taking years to come through!!

We end with a last word on the future of the Atlas Group, what next after growing it to where it is, any big plans in the years ahead to grow and improve the client base?

Our big plans and ambitions are to grow and sustain our strong reputation when it comes to investing in Africa. Our clients stick with us because we work hard for them and always do our very best to find the best solutions to their needs by using our International network.

 

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CONSTITUENCY FOR AFRICA ANNOUNCES CO-CHAIRS FOR THE 2017 RONALD H. BROWN AFRICAN AFFAIRS SERIES
August 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Constituency for Africa (CFA) Hosted President Hage Geingob of Namibia  During the 2016 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series

The Constituency for Africa (CFA) Hosted President Hage Geingob of Namibia During the 2016 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series

WASHINGTON, DC (August 29, 2017) – The Constituency for Africa (CFA) announces the Co-chairs for its 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series. This year’s series will be held from September 18th through September 22nd in Washington, DC. The schedule of events and registration information are available at www.ronaldbrownseries.org.

“The theme of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series is Mobilizing the Diaspora in Support of the U.S.-Africa Agenda,” stated Mr. Melvin P. Foote, CFA’s President & CEO. “We are extremely fortunate to have such distinguished Co-chairs, representing government, industry, civil society, academia, and the media. As CFA stakeholders, our Co-chairs enable us to broadly engage and mobilize our constituency in the U.S., Africa, and throughout the African Diaspora.”

The Co-chairs of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series include:

 

  • Honorable Arikana Chihombori, African Union Ambassador to the U.S.;
  • Ambassador Andrew J. Young, Chairman of the Andrew J. Young Foundation;
  • Honorable Karen Bass, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations;
  • Ambassador Rueben Brigety, Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University;
  • Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Joint Visiting Fellow, University of Pennsylvania Perry World House and Brookings Institution;
  • Honorable Jendayi Frazer, Adjunct Senior Fellow for African Studies, Council on Foreign Relations;
  • Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control;
  • Mr. Roger Nkodo Dang, President of the Pan African Parliament;
  • Mr. John Momoh, Founder & CEO, Channels TV Nigeria;
  • Ms. Mimi Alemayehou, Managing Director at the Black Rhino Group;
  • Mr. Raymond Dabney, CEO of the Cannabis Science Research Foundation;
  • Mr. Renato Almeida, International Government Affairs Manager at Chevron;
  • Mr. Mahtar Ba, Founder and Executive Chairman of AllAfrica Global Media;
  • Professor Akin Abayomi, Principal Investigator, Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET Africa);
  • Dr. Wilfred Ngwa, Global Health Catalyst Director at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center;
  • Honorable Pamela Bridgewater, President & CEO, The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa;
  • Honorable Lauri Fitz-Pegado, Partner, The Livingston Group, LLC;
  • Mr. Forrest Branch, Managing Director & Partner, EMH Prescient Investment Management (Namibia);
  • Mr. Michael Sudarkasa, CEO of Africa Business Group (South Africa); and
  • Ms. Jeannine Scott, Founder & Principal of America to Africa Consulting.

The purpose of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series will be to bring together stakeholders from the U.S., Africa, and throughout the Diaspora to assess the U.S. Administration’s Africa policy, and to identify challenges and opportunities in a number of key areas, including Healthcare Infrastructure, Democracy & Governance, Trade & Investment, Next Generation Leadership, Agriculture, and Diaspora Engagement. CFA and its partners will produce a Diaspora strategy to include policy recommendations for the U.S. Administration and the African Union. This year’s series is being organized by CFA, in cooperation with the African Union Mission in Washington, DC.

CFA also announces the appointment of Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins to its Board of Directors. “We are excited to have Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins join CFA’s Board of Directors. She will lend her considerable experience and expertise to our current team, and help position CFA for the years to come,” stated Mr. Foote. Before her recent position as a Joint Visiting Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Perry World House and Brookings Institution, Ambassador Jenkins served as Ambassador at the U.S. Department of State and was the Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. Also during her time as Coordinator, Ambassador Jenkins worked on the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), which is an international effort with over 55 countries to reduce infectious disease threats such as Ebola and Zika.

On the CFA Board of Directors, Ambassador Jenkins joins Dr. Roscoe M. Moore, Jr., Interim Chairman and former Assistant U.S. Surgeon General and Rear Admiral, U.S. Public Health Service (retired); and Board Members Honorable Stanley L. Straughter, Chairman of the UNESCO Center for Global Education; Mr. Raymond C. Dabney, President, CEO, and Co-founder of Cannabis Science, Inc.; Mr. John Momoh, Chairman of Channels Media Group; and Ms. Jeannine B. Scott, Founder and Principal of American to Africa Consulting.

About the Constituency for Africa:

For over 26 years, CFA has established itself as one of the leading, non-partisan organizations focused on educating and mobilizing the American public and the African Diaspora in the U.S. on U.S.-Africa policy.  As a result, CFA has helped to increase the level of cooperation and coordination among a broad-based coalition of individuals and organizations committed to the progress, development, and empowerment of Africa and African people worldwide.

 

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Independence of the Judiciary and Security of Investments-Opportunities & Challenges
August 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Chief Charles A. Taku*

 

Introduction

Chief Charles Taku

Chief Charles Taku

Africa is endowed with abundant largely unexploited natural resources and raw materials yet the continent is afflicted by poverty, diseases and violent conflicts in the midst of plenty. Unfortunately, these resources when exploited are often not done so for the benefit of the people of Africa.

The availability and abundance of these resources present Africa with great investment opportunities. The paucity of a credible continental legal and economic framework defining Africa’s investment needs has led to a scramble for Africa’s resources by the leading nations of the world, from West to the East. This scramble has in turn generated an economic cold war that affects all sectors of Africa’s economic, political and social life.

Investing in Africa under the prevailing economic, judicial and political condition breeds significant challenges and invites critical questions that require answers. Significant among these is the question whether a credible independent judicial mechanism exists within Africa that regulates investment contracts in Africa that benefits Africa. Do African countries possess independent judiciaries capable of guaranteeing the security of investments in the continent through fair trial processes? Who negotiates the terms of the investments? Are the terms of negotiated investments favorable to Africa? Do investment contracts in Africa contain transfer of technology clauses aimed at transforming African economies from markets of cheap raw materials to markets for processed finished products? Is Africa endowed with an enabling legal environment for negotiating, drafting, interpreting and adjudicating investment conflicts?  What are the opportunities and challenges that investors face in Africa? How can these challenges be surmounted? The answers to these questions and more are the subject of this paper.

The Universal Foundations of the Independence of the Judiciary

Among the founding objectives of the United Nations enshrined in the preamble of the UN Charter was a reaffirmation of “ … faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity of nations large and small, and the establishment of conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and sources of international law can be maintained, to promote social and better standards of life in freedom; and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples”.[1]

These universal conditions for the administration of justice significantly inspired and informed the founding of the United Nations in 1945. Justice for all was therefore, conceived and proclaimed a critical instrument for the promotion and protection of peace, and “the economic and social advancement of all peoples”.

In furtherance of this objective, the UN multilateral human rights treaty regime adopted provisions that guarantee the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary and recommended that they be enshrined in the laws of state parties to the respective conventions.[2] To safeguard, protect and promote the independence of the judiciary within the international and national justice systems, the United Nations adopted the “Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary”.[3]

The preamble of these basic principles emphasizes that the organization and administration of justice in every country, member state of the United Nations must be inspired by the principles. It states that efforts must be undertaken to translate these principles fully into reality. And that the rules concerning the exercise of judicial office should aim at enabling judges to act in accordance with the principles, because “judges are charged with the ultimate decision over life, freedoms, rights, duties and property of citizens”.

There is therefore no gainsaying that the United Nations Charter foundation of universal tenets of Justice as the underlying principles for the attainment of world peace, security, economic well-being and prosperity of nations big and small, is well settled in customary international law. It is on this basis that these principles are enshrined in the Constitutions of member states.

It cannot reasonably be disputed that at the founding of the United Nations in 1945, Africa was not a subject of international law. Africa and peoples of Africa descent were not contemplated by the founding fathers of the United Nations when they made the justice, economic, human rights and security pledges as the salvific tenets of a new world order and civilization. The so-called big and small nations that came under the protections afforded in the UN Charter did not include Africa and peoples of African descent. They were then invariably considered as chattel, European possessions, colonies by any other name but nations or states. Emerging from the humiliation of its World War defeat and occupation by Germany, France for example, led a genocidal campaign in its French Africa possessions orchestrating the extermination of millions of pro-independence nationalists and armless civilians in French Cameroun and Algeria.[4]

Without the protections afforded by the United Nations Charter Africa was deprived on the economic sovereignty over its vast natural resources. Africa could not exercise judicial independence over commerce, industry and investments in the continent. There was therefore no investment charter for the benefits of African European colonies or possessions. Investments benefitted the colonial masters and their national economies. Africans were valued as slave labour and nothing more.

Decrying this situation in 1949 Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe ( Zik of Africa) in an Address delivered at the Plenary Session of the British Peace Congress powerfully submitted “There is gold in Nigeria. Coal, lignite, tin, columbite, tantalite, lead, diamonite, thorium, (uranium-133), and tungsten in Nigeria, rubber, cocoa, groundnuts, benniseeds, coton, palm oil, and palm kernels. Timber of different kinds is found in many areas of this Africa fairyland. Yet despite these natural resources which indicate potential wealth, the great majority of Nigerians live in want”.[5]  Dr Azikiwe speaking for all Africans stated emphatically, “therefore, we are compelled to denounce imperialism as a crime against humanity, because it destroys human dignity and is a constant cause of wars”.

Invoking the human carnage and devastation of the just ended World War 2 in which Africans were drafted to combat not as free people fighting for the interests of Africa and African Peoples, but as mere tools or instruments of warfare deployed to protect the economic and security interests of their colonial masters, Dr Azikiwe made the following proclamation amongst others: “We shall no longer be dragooned to act as cannon fodder in the military juggernaut of hypocrites who dangle before our people misleading slogans in order to involve humanity in carnage and destruction”.

The conscience awakening alarm raised by Zik of Africa in the threshold of the founding of the United Nations with lofty principles underpinning justice and economic empowerment as the salvation credo for a peaceful, prosperous world which ignored the situation of Africa and black peoples the world over, endures to this day. It endures because the cosmetic independence that was granted to many African states did not alter the European economic and political vassal possessions status that was imposed on them by European colonial treaties.

Due to the enduring effects of these injustices against Africa, it is safe to submit that the supposed tenets of universal justice, that includes the independence of the judiciary are elusive in Africa making the security of investments in the continent attainable but elusive.

 

 

Identifying the Investment and Justice Needs for Africa

 

The submission that the attainment of the goals of fair, credible and independent justice for Africa faces serious though surmountable obstacles may better be articulated through the following address credited to His Excellency President Jakaya Kwikete to the United Nations in New York in 2008.

Addressing the United Nations as Chairman of the African Union, President Kikwete reminded the world body that Africa rejected war, HIV Aids and Poverty as templates on which to anchor a just world security and economic order. He warned that highlighting the adoption of the UN political declaration on African development needs must not obfuscate the fact that poverty and the need to establish economic growth to overcome it was the continent’s greatest challenge. He pointed out that some so-called Millennium Development Goals were inadequate in addressing the serious shortfall in resources to meet African development needs. President Kikwete stated that “In trade, Africa’s prospects remained bleak as the Doha Round was stalled. New negative trends included climate change and soaring fuel and food prices”. [6]

In the face of this bleak picture of the African condition, there is an urgent need for investments in Africa must aim at attenuating poverty, Africa energy self-sufficiency and production industries for the processing and transformation of raw materials into finished products. There is an urgent need for the establishment of efficient healthcare, food security, science and technology and communication industries in Africa by Africans. Foreign investors are invited to invest in Africa but the investments must aim at and relevant to the attainment of Africa economic and investment goals. Investments in Africa that not include aim at the transfer of technology for the transformation of Africa’s raw materials and natural resources to finished products for the universal market are deemed not to benefit Africa.

To satisfy Africa’s investment needs, stable, credible, efficient and effective legal frameworks capable of attracting foreign and national investments must be established. Do the existing legal institutions in Africa provide adequate security for foreign and national investments that aim at promoting growth and the economic prosperity of the continent and its people? I hesitate at this point in time to answer this question in the positive. This is not for the lack of capital building capacity by African investors, economic operators, capable independent judiciaries or competent professional lawyers who can manage the continent’s investment portfolio. The critical obstacle to attaining these goals is the ghost of Africa’s colonial past  which is still  lingering within the continent and manipulating the soul of the continent at all levels of constitutional governance; making profitable investments that benefit Africa and its people difficult.

The Constitutional Guarantee of the Independence of the Judiciary

 

When most of Africa gained independence in the early 1960’s, the newly independent countries became member states of the United Nations. By their membership of the UN, they pledged allegiance to the United Nations Charter and thereafter ratified or adhered to many conventions in the UN Economic and Human Rights regime.

The constitutions of almost all independent African countries have provisions on separation of powers with the judiciary being an independent arm of government. The constitutions of these African countries guarantee the independence of the judiciary. Despite of the provision of article 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guaranteeing through constitutional protections the independence of the judiciary, the effective independence of the judiciary as a constitutional arm of government remains illusory in many African countries. The enabling legislation regulating the administration of justice in many African countries contradicts the intendment of the constitutional guarantees of independence of the judiciary; compromising its independence.[7]

A decision of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in a case brought by the Southern Cameroons against the Republic of Cameroon, better explains this point succinctly. In that case the African Commission decided that Cameroon lacked independence of the judiciary despite the existence of a constitutional provision guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary and separation or powers[8]. In that decision, the African Commission found that the lack of independence of the Cameroon judiciary violated article 26 of the Africa Charter.

The decision was predicated on an admission by Cameroon that it did not have an independent judicial service commission and that the President of the Republic was the Chairman of the Higher Judicial Council while the Minister of Justice the Vice President of the Council. The said council has a mandate for the administration and guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary. The African Commission found that by subjugating the judiciary to the executive arm of government, Cameroon was in violation of its treaty obligations by violating article 26 of the African Charter. The Commission asked Cameroon to provide an effective remedy by making its judiciary genuinely independent, a decision Cameroon has failed to implement.

A melting pot of competing conflicting investment interests

 

An anxious look at foreign and national investment policies in Africa against available investments opportunities and the investment needs of the continent, there is justification in characterizing Africa as a melting pot of competing conflicting investment interests. Foreign investment in Africa has a checkered history and a tortious purpose. Like a chameleon, it assumes different colours while remaining in substance, the same.

Prior to independence, foreign trade policies of African European colonies were imposed rather than negotiated. African economies were rudimentary and mainly aimed at producing and supplying raw materials for the European industrial and commercial markets. The huge mineral deposits and agricultural potential which Dr Azikiwe talked about in his 1949 address referred to earlier in this paper, although belonging to Nigeria and Nigerians, as a matter of colonial and imperial policy, in reality belonged to Her Majesty the Queen of England’s Government.

The colonial institutions at independence contained imposed military, monetary, economic, educational, social and cultural cooperation treaties that subjugated the economic sovereignty of the colonies to the erstwhile colonial powers. In former French Africa colonies, France imposed pre and post-independence cooperation agreements imposed that subjugated their economic, monetary and defense sovereignty to the control of France[9].

The subsistence of these treaties and colonial policies in Independent African countries renders an effective exercise of sovereignty over constitutional institutions among them independent judiciaries illusory. This state of affairs led Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to conclude that “any form of economic union negotiated singly between the fully industrialized states of Europe and the newly emergent countries of Africa is bound to retard the industrialization, and therefore the prosperity and general economic and cultural development, of these countries. For it will mean that those African states which may be inveighed into joining this union will continue to serve as protected markets for the manufactured goods of their industrialized partners, and sources of cheap raw materials”.[10] The existence of these colonial and neo-colonial economic treaties have retained  Africa in what Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe characterized as “a perennial source of war”[11].

In seeking to safeguard and enforce these subsisting colonial and neo-colonial imposed preferential economic and investment treaties, the erstwhile colonial powers and the economic blocs in which they belong have resorted to using coercive methods to impose unfavourable terms of trade and investment terms that auction away African mineral resources and raw materials at prices and conditions intended to recolonize supposed independent states. These includes, economic sabotage, political instability, coups, military intervention and the manipulation of international institutions to discredit, subvert and isolate governments and peoples who dare turn their backs on colonial and neo-colonial puppetry.

In attempts to render the resource endowed countries of Africa ungovernable, alternative sources of power control are funded among the civil society, national and international Non-Governmental Organizations, the Military and the political class. With the use of weapons and funds supplied to these organizations, violent political activism triumphs over laudable civil society activism whose primary purpose ought to have been protecting and promoting the social, economic, political and civic rights of the citizenry.

The sources of instability arising from political and socio-economic factors are easily traced to the desire to control the natural resources and raw materials of African countries. The militarization of the political and economic life of the continent aimed at destabilizing many resource endowed African countries can be traced to this factor. Examples abound, but suffice to cite the failed recent violent regime change attempts in Burundi, Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, Angola and Libya.

According to Adekeye Adebajo and Kaye Whiteman, “the EU willingness to find ways of being militarily involved in Africa has been encouraged by France (seeking ways to justify its own continued military presence in Africa).[12]  The problem with the ambitious mission of the EU to support peace and security initiatives as outlined in the EU Common Position on the Prevention, Management and Resolution of Violent Conflicts in Africa is that in conceptual terms, the EU initiative seems good. But it conflates and conceals the colonial and neo-colonial treaties entered into by individual erstwhile colonial powers like France and Belgium in significant regards.

These colonial treaties and policies fuel and sustain the instability that the EU aims to prevent or redress. The erstwhile colonial powers habouring economic and political ambitions to control and micromanage the economic and political life of their former African colonies targeted by the EU initiative are not faithful participants in the EU initiative. There is overwhelming evidence establishing that they are the sources of instability in Africa. These former colonial powers have consistently used their EU members to attempt to railroad the EU initiative to attain their neo-colonial agenda.

The mitigated result of the EU initiative in Central Africa Republic even with the presence in the territory of French troops who have maintained a military base there since independence is an alarming example of this policy of duplicity on the part of France. Mineral resources Burundi has consistently accused Belgium which recently accepted responsibility and apologized for the assassination of Patrice Lumumba plunging the Democratic Republic of Congo into a blood bath that endures till date, for supporting a rebellion within its national territory aimed at effecting a regime change and controlling its natural resources.

The failed belligerent EU policy towards Burundi demonstrated by an overwhelming objection of an EU resolution submitted to the 33rd Session of the Joint EU-ACP Parliamentary Conference on 19 June 2017 arises from this policy. For the EU initiative to attain its objective, the EU must call on its member states to rescind with immediate all colonial and neo-colonial treaties or so-called cooperation agreements that undermine the sovereignty of African states and constitute a “perennial source of war”, violence, instability, impunity and criminality. These perennial sources of war have subverted the rule of law and sound constitutional governance.

Africa does not manufacture weapons but the investment in arms through legal and illegal channels fuels internecine armed conflict on the continent. For this to occur, the mineral resources and raw material of African countries are carted away to support materialistic and capitalist cartels in foreign in other continents. These colonial and neo-colonial treaties are not subject to legal challenges before the judiciary of the African countries concerned depriving the citizens of those countries the opportunity to test their validity and legality before independent judges. This keeps significant areas of the African investment and commercial sectors out of independent judicial scrutiny. The Neocolonial economic cartels have also concluded treaties keeping the judicial scrutiny before national courts, key public and private investment sectors in the defense industry, the oil industry, the energy industry and some strategic mineral contracts. With this, corruption is institutionalized at the expense of the people’s sovereignty over their resources, their economic well-being and prosperity.

Owning African investment dilemma and its Judicial quagmire

 

For Africa to attract valuable national and international investments that meets African prosperity needs, they must aim at attaining economic sovereignty over its natural resources. Africa must put in place valuable judicial institutions that are competent, independent and reliable.

Investment contracts are quite often negotiated by non-professional bureaucrats and politicians without the assistance of lawyers and professionals in the varying sectors of the economy in which the investment is taking place. This often results in unfavorable terms in the investment contracts with adjudication clauses that defer the interpretation of the contracts and conflict resolutions to foreign arbitration and adjudication bodies outside the continent. African lawyers and the judiciary are often not even contemplated as key actors in the negotiation of investment contracts and the adjudication of investment disputes in case of conflict. This leaves investments in Key sectors of African economies in the hands of expatriates and foreign agents whose agenda is to stultify the much desired growth of Africa economies.

It has hardly been contemplated nor desired that a transfer of technology clause if inserted into foreign investment contracts could lead to the rapid transformation of Africa from a continent of perpetual slave labour to a continent that processes and transforms its raw materials for the national and universal markets. Africa must own its problems and accept to conceive and apply some dose of painful remedy to this complex life threatening ailment.

Since President Kikwete raised the alarm that placed the required focus on “poverty and the need to establish economic growth to overcome the continent’s challenges” citing Africa’s prospects as remaining bleak with the Doha Round stalling’, and new negative trends that included climate change and soaring fuel and food prices”, Africa has made frantic judicial and continental level efforts towards addressing these problems. The AU has made some adjustments in its focus towards seeking solutions to the continent’s security, economic, health, technological research, energy, mineral exploitation, communication, inter-African and Pan African justice needs. The efforts deployed so far though commendable are still insufficient or not commensurate to the magnitude of the problems.

The AU significantly made giant steps towards establishing an African Criminal Court to try crimes committed in Africa, relieving the continent of the humiliating focus of the international criminal court which gives the perception that Africans may be inherently criminal. The Malabo Protocol granting the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights have more than any international court in history criminalized crimes which from Nuremburg and Tokyo World War Tribunals no other international court has criminalized.

The Protocol targets a wide variety of crimes perpetrated on the continent including economic crimes.[13] The criminalization of the crimes of illicit exploitation of resources, trafficking in hazardous wastes, terrorism, money laundering, unconstitutional change of government, piracy and the crime of aggression have at long last awaken the enduring effects of the hitherto unpunished historic crimes of slavery, imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism from which colonial cooperation agreements and treaties drew legitimacy for eternal banishment from the continent of Africa. In other words, criminalizing these crimes at long last will target and slay the beast of colonial crimes and its offspring allowing room for Africa to develop and prosper in peace.

The African Union needs to conceive and proclaim an African Investment and economic Charter for the continent. The AU needs to summon as a matter of urgency, an Africa business forum in which governments and business operators in Africa will set in motion a mechanism and frame work for investment in Africa. The African Union lacks a clearing house for informing African investors and entrepreneurs the business potential of each African country. The Proposed investment and business Charter should aim at the AU working on harmonization business and investment law in Africa to enable African and foreign investors to invest in the continent. Presently, colonial and neo-colonial treaties favour foreign investors, particularly those from former colonial powers.

There is no reason why investment contracts in specific areas or sectors of the African economies should not prioritize national and African investors making foreign investors come in as partners only. Africa has to start training its own road investor contractors. African banks have to start providing loans to support African investments in key areas of the African economy.

African lawyers must mobilize to intervene and settle African conflicts of a political and economic nature. There is no reason why the AU cannot establish a Pan African institution for the settlement of investments disputes on the continent. There is no reason why the AU with the support of the African Bar Association cannot establish a Pan African Board of Arbitration to which different arbitration bodies in the continent will be affiliated. Such an arbitration board will keep a roaster of arbitrators from which arbitrators will be to meet the arbitration needs of investors in Africa.

There is no reason why the AU cannot make article 26 of the African Charter more functional by establishing a more robust mechanism within the AU aimed at encouraging and protecting the independence of the judiciary in member states. In this regard, for a member of the judiciary of a state party to be eligible for appointment to a high judicial organ within the AU institutional framework or within an international judicial or quasi-judicial institution requiring AU support, the constitutional and institutional arrangement in the state party must guarantee independence of the judiciary. A failure to set standards in this regard, led to two Judges from the Cameroon Judiciary which the African Commission on Human found in the Ngwang Gumne v Cameroon (The Southern Cameroons Case) not to be independent to be elected to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights making a total mockery of its decision indicting the Cameroon judiciary for not being independent.

 

Conclusion

The Assembly of African leaders, lawyers, businessmen, professionals from all walks of life, the press and millions alive and unborn will look at this occasion with pride. With pride because African lawyers under the banner of the African Bar Association have risen to the occasion and the challenge to summon all of us here to make an informed pledge to lay down an enduring framework of investment, economic sovereignty and prosperity for Africa.

There is general agreement that investing in Africa will provide a much desired panacea for the dire economic situation facing our continent. The security of these investments needs be guaranteed by competent professional lawyers and an independent judiciary. Africa has significant investment opportunities, competent professional lawyers and independent judges. However, the ability of these key actors to manage Africa’s investment portfolio in ways that benefit Africa and the investors is hampered by powerful extraneous actors and factors.

There is a compelling need for all judicial actors in Africa and the judiciary to organize, assert and prove their expertise, proficiency and relevance in playing the role of key actors in managing the investment portfolio of Africa with unblemished expertise and uncontested independence. This conference on investment in Africa is critical and timely. The next conference on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law complement must be organized to complement the results of this conference.

I respectfully submit that the proceedings of this conference and all the very rich conference papers presented here be delivered to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, all African leaders and universities in Africa to help refocus the desired attention on investments in Africa.

*Chief Charles A. Taku is Executive Council of the AFBA, Member for Life; Vice-President of the ICCBA, Member of the Executive and Defence Committee of the ICCBA; Vice-President of ADAD; and Lead-Counsel at the ICC.The paper was   presented at the conference of the African Bar Association in Port Harcourt from 7 to 10 August 2017

[1] Preamble, Charter of the United Nations, 24 October 1945.

[2] Articles 8 and 10, UN General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948. Article 14, UN General Assembly, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 999, p. 171.

[3] Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary Adopted by the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held at Milan from 26 August to 6 September 1985 and endorsed by General Assembly resolutions 40/32 of 29 November 1985 and 40/146 of 13 December 1985.

 

 

 

[4] The French campaign in French Cameroun commenced in 1948, the same year the UN Declaration on Human Rights was proclaimed against the Union des Population du Cameroun UPC founded by Um Nyobe Mpodol and continued this campaign directly or by proxy until 1971 when the last nationalist leader of the UPC Ernest Ouandie was assassinated.

[5] From an address delivered at the Second Annual Conference of the Congress of Peoples Against Imperialism on “Colonies and War” Poplar, London, on October 9, 1949 quoted in Wilfred Cartey and Martin Kilson: The Africa Reader: Independent Africa Rabdom House New York 1970 pp 74 and 75.

[6] President Jakaya Kikwete, AU Chairman Address to the United Nations in New York 23 September 2008.

[7] Article 26 of the African Charter states that “State Parties to the present Charter shall have the duty to guarantee the independence of the Courts and shall allow the establishment and improvement of appropriate national institutions entrusted with the promotion and protection of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the present Charter”.

[8] Communication No. 266/2003, 27 May 2009, African Commission for Human Rights, Ngwang Gumne v Cameroon para. 132.

[9] Cooperation Agreement signed between Ahmadou Ahidjo and France dated December 12, 1959. Cameroon attained independence on January 1, 1960 .The cooperation agreement in its articles 1-6 reserve the authority to 1) determine Cameroon’s economic, political, and socio-cultural orientations to France.2) France shall manufacture currency for Cameroon called the CFA.3) France shall guide the determination of educational programs at all levels.4) The French national treasury shall have a portfolio named operations account to cover 100% of Cameroon’s foreign exchange. After a series of revisions, the percentage stands at 50% today. 5) France shall have strategic priority in the exploitation of Cameroon’s raw materials.6) On 10th November 1961, shortly Cameroon annexed and colonized the Southern Cameroons in the evening of September 30, 1961, President Ahidjo signed a military cooperation agreement with France in which the French army may be invited by the Cameroon President or the French Ambassador in Cameroon to send French troops to suppress an internal rebellion or insurrection or any threats to the regime in place. The Southern Cameroon had voted in a UN sponsored plebiscite to attain independence by joining the independent Republic of Cameroon upon terms to be worked out prior to independence. The independence was attained leading the way for the termination of the trusteeship over the Southern Cameroons but the sovereignty to negotiate a union treaty was subverted by the annexation and military occupation of the territory.

[10] Osafgyfo Dr Kwame Nkrumah: Neocolonialism in Africa in Africa Must Unite, (New York, 1964 cited in The Africa Reader: Independent Africa edited by Wilfred Cartey and Martin Kilson Random House New York, 1970 p. 220.

[11] The African Reader, p. 60.

[12] Adekeye Adebajo and Kaye Whiteman: The EU and Africa: From EuroAfrique to Afro-Europa, 2012, Hurst and Company, London, p.17.

[13] Malabo Protocol Granting Criminal Jurisdiction to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Adopted in Malabo Equatorial Guinea in June 2014) Articles 28 D, 28 E, 28 F, 28 F, 28 I, 28,Ibis, 28 J, 28 J, 28 L, 28 L Bis, 28 M. In addition to the crimes punishable under the Statute of Ad Hoc Tribunals and the ICC, the Malabo Protocol criminalizes and punishes the crimes unconstitutional change of government, piracy, terrorism, mercenarism, corruption, money laundering, trafficking in persons, trafficking in hazardous wastes, and illicit exploitation of resources.

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Power Africa Releases Annual Report
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Power Africa, a U.S. Government-led initiative to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, has released its annual report. The initiative consists of more than 150 public and private sector partners, which have collectively committed more than $54 billion towards achieving Power Africa’s goals. It is among the world’s largest public-private partnerships in development history.

The 2017 report highlights how Power Africa continues to lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth in Africa while creating opportunities for American businesses as it makes progress towards its goals of increasing installed generation capacity by 30,000 megawatts (MW) and adding 60 million new electricity connections by 2030.

Since its inception, Power Africa has facilitated the financial close of power transactions expected to generate more than 7,200 MW of power in sub-Saharan Africa. The 80 Power Africa transactions that have concluded financing agreements are valued at more than $14.5 billion, and Power Africa projects have generated more than $500 million in U.S. exports. In addition, Power Africa has facilitated more than 10 million electrical connections, which have brought electricity to more than 50 million people for the first time.

The report also highlights the role of women in Africa’s power sector, by chronicling the contributions of select members of Power Africa’s Women in African Power (WiAP) network. It includes an executive letter from the Honorable Irene Muloni, Minister for Energy and Minerals in Uganda, as well as profiles of women whose drive is strengthening Africa’s power sector.

Over the next year, Power Africa will work with more than 100 U.S. companies, African partners, other donors, and the private sector to harness the technology, ingenuity, and political will necessary to bring the benefits of modern energy to even remote parts of Africa while promoting economic growth. The initiative will also expand beyond its initial focus on solar lanterns and renewable energy to support more on-grid power projects in natural gas and other sources.

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Philanthropists join forces to fund Africa’s cash-strapped health sector
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Billionaires Bill Gates, Aliko Dangote come together to fund health care projects

Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre in Nigeria. Photo: Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre

Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre in Nigeria. Photo: Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre

In the 2017 World Happiness Report by Gallup, African countries score poorly. Of the 150 countries on the list, the Central African Republic, Tanzania and Burundi rank as the unhappiest countries in the world.

Some of the factors driving unhappiness are the poor state of the continent’s health care systems, the persistence of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and the growth of lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

Few African countries make significant investments in the health sector—the median cost of health care in sub-Saharan Africa is $109 per person per year, according to Gallup. Some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar and Niger, spend just half of that per person annually.

In 2010 only 23 countries were spending more than $44 per capita on health care, according to the World Health Organization. These countries got funding from several sources, including government, donors, employers, non-governmental organisations and households.

Private investment is now critical to meet the considerable shortfall in public-sector investment, say experts.

While many international organisations, such as UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross, continue to support Africa’s health care system, private entities and individuals are also increasingly making contributions. For example, Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote, and the world’s second richest person, Bill Gates, have formed a partnership to address some of Africa’s key health needs.

In 2014 the Nigerian-born cement magnate made global headlines after donating $1.2 billion to Dangote Foundation, which used the money to buy equipment to donate to hospitals in Nigeria and set up mobile clinics in Côte d’Ivoire.

A philanthropist himself, Mr. Gates wrote of Mr. Dangote in Time magazine: “I know him best as a leader constantly in search of ways to bridge the gap between private business and health.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focuses, among other projects, on strengthening Africa’s health care resources. According to the Gates Foundation, as of May 2013 it had earmarked $9 billion to fight diseases in Africa over 15 years. In 2016 the foundation pledged to give an additional $5 billion over a five-year period, two-thirds to be used to fight HIV/AIDS on the continent.

While acknowledging the Gates’ generosity, locals noted that for many years the Foundation had invested in the oil companies that have contributed in making health outcomes extremely poor in some areas of Nigeria. These companies include Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total.

Facing a backlash, the Gates Foundation sold off some 87% of its investments in major coal, oil and gas companies, leaving approximately $200 million in these stocks as of 2016.  Groups such as Leave It in the Ground, a non-profit organization advocating for a global moratorium on fossil exploration, are pushing for divestment.

“The link between saving lives, a lower birth rate and ending poverty was the most important early lesson Melinda and I learned about global health,” said Mr. Gates recently. The Gates Foundation supports reducing childhood mortality by supplying hospitals with necessary equipment and hiring qualified local practitioners to take care of patients and their children.

Dangote-Gates collaboration

In 2016, the Dangote Foundation and the Gates Foundation formed a philanthropic dream team when they announced a $100 million plan to fight malnutrition in Nigeria. The new scheme will fund programmes to 2020 and beyond, using local groups in the northwest and northeast Nigeria. The northeast has for the past seven years been ravaged by the Boko Haram’s Islamic militant insurgency, affecting all health care projects in the region.

Malnutrition affects 11 million children in northern Nigeria alone, and Mr. Dangote said the partnership would address the problem.

The Foundations had already signed a deal to work together to foster immunization programmes in three northern states: Kaduna, Kano and Sokoto.

The Gates Foundation states on its website, “Contributions towards the costs of the program by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote Foundation, and state governments will be staggered across three years: 30% in year one, 50% in year two, and 70% in year three, with the respective states taking progressive responsibility for financing immunization services.”

The future of about 44% of Nigeria’s 170 million people would be “greatly damaged if we don’t solve malnutrition,” said Mr. Gates, at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Building trust

Despite the many international and local efforts, cultural and religious factors often impede efforts to address Africa’s weak health infrastructure. For example, in 2007, religious leaders in northern Nigeria organized against aid workers administering polio vaccinations after rumours started circulating that the vaccines were adulterated and would cause infertility and HIV/AIDS.

In 2014, during the Ebola crisis, villagers chased and stoned Red Cross workers in Womey village in Guinea, accusing them of bringing “a strange disease”.

The big players may be Mr. Dangote and Mr. Gates, but others less well known are also making important contributions to Africa’s health care. After the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, for example, which resulted in the loss of about 11,300 lives, private companies in the three most affected countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—partnered with the government to fight the virus.

The Sierra Leone Brewery, for example, helped in constructing facilities for Ebola treatment. Individuals, such as Patrick Lansana, a Sierra Leonean communications expert, also volunteered their services for the Ebola fight. He said: “I joined the fight against Ebola because I wanted to help my country. My efforts, and those of others, made a difference. It would have been difficult for the government and international partners to combat the virus alone.”

Public-private partnerships

Private and public sectors need to collaborate to help Africa’s health care system from collapse, notes a report by UK-based PricewaterHouseCoopers consultancy firm. The report states that public-private partnerships, or PPPs, when fully synergised can bring about quality health care. Under a PPP in the health sector, for example, a government can contribute by providing the health care infrastructure, while private entities can be involved in the operations.

In a widely published joint opinion piece last April, Mr. Dangote and Mr. Gates stated that improving health care in Africa depends on a “successful partnership between government, communities, religious and business leaders, volunteers, and NGOs. This ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction.”

*Culled from Africa Renewal

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Africa on the road to industrial progress-Li Yong
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Li Yong, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Photo: Africa Renewal/Eleni Mourdoukoutas

Li Yong, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Photo: Africa Renewal/Eleni Mourdoukoutas

As the director general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Li Yong leads a specialised agency that promotes industrial development, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability. Recently in New York, Mr. Yong took part in a special meeting on “innovation in infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization” in developing countries and countries with special needs. He spoke with Africa Renewal’s Kingsley Ighobor on a range of issues pertaining to Africa’s industrialization. Here are the excerpts:

Africa Renewal: You are attending a meeting on industrialization in developing countries, which includes many African countries. How does Africa fit in the picture?

Li Yong: The ECOSOC [UN’s Economic and Social Council] meeting is important because of SDG 9, which calls for inclusive sustainable industrialization, innovation and infrastructure. Africa has to compete within the global value chain, the manufacturing value addition and with the growth and speed of other regions. Two-thirds of the least developed countries are in Africa. Due to underdevelopment of the industrial sector, some countries are not growing fast enough.

What are the factors hindering Africa’s industrialization?

The sudden drop in commodity prices caused problems because it lowered the competitiveness of commodities-dependent countries.

But commodity prices dropped only recently.

No, not just recently. Let’s say this has been the case throughout the last century. But let me talk about factors hindering industrialization. Long ago the international development institutions wrongly prescribed deindustrialization for some countries. An ambassador of an African country actually told me that the very painful process of deindustrialization forced them to stop exporting cheese, cocoa beans and other products. Another reason is that countries change policies too often. Insecurity occasioned by frequent changes of policies scares away investors and disrupts the industrialization process.

Were the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) of the 1980s a wrong prescription?

I do not want to talk about that because I was involved in the whole process of structural adjustment lending when I was working at the World Bank. I would just say that some of the prescriptions provided to African countries were not very good.

Critics say meetings such as the one you are attending are all talk but no action. What’s your take on this?

I think that sometimes if there’s too much talk, too much debate on the theories, on the reports and studies, action is lost. Just do it! If it’s creating jobs, let’s go for it.

UNIDO’s Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) aims to mobilise private and public sector resources for industrialisation and to provide technical assistance to countries. How is that going?

It’s an innovative way to support a country’s industrial development. We collaborate with governments and development institutions to create industrial development strategies, and we support such strategies. Usually there is a financing issue: the government needs to allocate resources to basic infrastructure. But development institutions also need to provide supplementary financing for infrastructure such as roads, highways, railroads, electricity, water supply, etc. We advise governments to formulate policies that protect investments that will trigger private-sector financing and FDI [foreign direct investment].

You were heavily involved in the development of agricultural and small and medium-size enterprises in China. What lessons can Africa learn from China?

There must be a vision and a strategy. Develop policies that support small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture sector, to begin with. In China, the number one document released at the beginning of the year was a plan to support agriculture development. Second, take concrete measures. We cannot talk about empty themes. Third, support with financial resources, capacity building and training. Fourth, provide an environment for SMEs to thrive. Lastly, link the agricultural sector to agro-industry, agribusiness and manufacturing.

Not long ago, a World Bank report stated that Africa’s agribusiness could be worth $1 trillion by 2030. Could agribusiness be a game changer for the continent?

Yes, although I wouldn’t say that the $1 trillion figure is exactly accurate. But agriculture is a very important sector for Africa. The job creation element in the sector requires innovation. If you try to grow wheat, corn, fruits, etc without connecting to agro-processing food packaging and the global value chain, there is very little opportunity for job creation. Some people argue that if you introduce modern technology, some farmers may lose jobs. I don’t accept this argument because farming services connect to the market. With agro-processing, farmers have more time and capacity to do things beyond planting and growing crops.

The goal of the African Agribusiness and Africa Development Initiative, which UNIDO supports, is to link farmers to big markets. But African farmers cannot compete in the global marketplace because many Western governments subsidize farming. What’s your take?

Africa can be innovative about this. For instance, cocoa-producing African countries that used to export cocoa beans are currently producing some chocolate products locally. In Ghana, a private company is producing cocoa butter, cocoa oil and cocoa cake for domestic consumption. And UNIDO supported them with a laboratory, equipment and technicians to enable them to receive certifications to export to Europe and Asia. Consider Ethiopia, with 95 million people and millions of cattle and sheep and cows. But they only export around 7% of their live cattle to other countries because they don’t have processing capacity. They don’t have the standard certifications for export, although the quality of meat is excellent. Currently we are supporting Ethiopia to set up a project for testing so that they meet the criteria for exporting to other countries. Actually, African agriculture can connect to the global value chain.

Countries may set up agro-industries in areas where they have a competitive advantage, but the lack of technical skills and inadequate infrastructure, particularly roads and electricity, is still an issue.

We have the traditional toolboxes, including vocational training. Capacity training is a very popular UNIDO programme. With donor support, we develop training programmes like we did in Tunisia and Ethiopia, where young engineers received training in how to operate big equipment. The second example is that countries need large-scale agro-processing projects. For instance, Ethiopia developed hundreds of industrial parks that are helping develop the capacity to manufacture many more products.

Most foreign investors target Africa’s extractive sector, which generates few jobs. How do you encourage investments in the agriculture sector?

The best approach for Africa is not to say, “Don’t export raw materials.” Look at Australia and other countries that still export raw materials. They did their cost-benefits analysis and decided not to set up manufacturing companies. What is needed is market discipline. But this doesn’t mean that all countries must export raw materials. If they have the capacity, if there are foreign investors that come in to build factories and create jobs, why not?

Sustainable industrialization produces long-term results, I believe. Countries grappling with poverty need resources immediately. Such countries cannot slow down their unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.

I believe we should have industrial development in an inclusive, sustainable way. If we manufacture goods with a heavy pollution of water, soil or air, there’s a cost to people’s health. Think about what it will cost to address those pollutions in the future. At UNIDO, we do not approve projects for implementation unless they meet our environmental standards.

Are African leaders receptive to your ideas?

Most leaders I’ve met request UNIDO’s support. Except for countries in difficult situations such as those in conflicts, others need to show a strong commitment to industrialization.

Are you seeing such commitments?

Yes, in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia—many leaders are showing a commitment. The new Nigerian president is committed to industrialization. However, countries in conflict, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC], may have difficulties industrializing. The DRC has many resources, including gold and oil. They have a vast land—you can grow anything there—and a huge population. But internal conflict is slowing industrialization. Yet a peaceful Rwanda is moving very fast with industrialization. So it depends on a country’s situation, the commitments of its leadership and the efficiency of its administrative systems.

How do you see Africa in about 10 years?

Many countries will move up the socioeconomic ladder and become middle-income countries. There will be more industries to manufacture goods and create jobs. I think it’s possible. The global community is ready to support Africa. Most importantly, African countries are committed to industrial progress and economic growth.

*Culled from Africa Renewal

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Partnerships at work in Africa
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Governments need to on top of things
Henri Konan Bédié Bridge linking the north and south of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Photo: Bouygues Construction

Henri Konan Bédié Bridge linking the north and south of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Photo: Bouygues Construction

The construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal in Ghana to support power generation in the Kpone Power Enclave in the port city of Tema, near Accra, is reawakening hopes of an end to the energy crisis that has plagued the country in recent years.

Power outages have led to a rationing schedule that involves cutting power for 24 hours every two days. Businesses have been forced to connect standby power sources such as generators, incurring extra costs. Some have had to lay off workers.

The $600 million project, being implemented under a public-private partnership (PPP) between Quantum Power Ghana Gas and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, is expected to provide the West African nation with a reliable and efficient power supply.

The plant will add about 220 megawatts of electricity to Ghana’s national grid. The country now has 2,900 megawatts of generation capacity, not enough to meet the growing demand, which the National Energy Policy of 2010 estimated would be about 5,000 megawatts by 2016.

“We hope the project will address the dumsor once and for all,” says Nancy Osabutey, a resident of Accra. Dumsor (“on-off”) is a Ghanaian term commonly used to describe the erratic power availability in the country.

A recent report by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, a Ghanaian-based think tank, estimates that the economy has lost $24 billion as a result of the energy crisis since 2010.

Like many African countries, Ghana is facing an infrastructure financing gap. Policy makers are starting to realise that PPPs can help fill such gaps.

“Africa has been growing over the last few years. It will be challenging to achieve economic growth without addressing the huge infrastructure financing and access gap in energy generation and transmission, roads and ports,” says Tilahun Temesgen, the chief regional economist at the Eastern Africa Resource Centre of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The AfDB maintains that the continent needs about $100 billion per year for infrastructure investment, yet the total spending on infrastructure by African countries is just about half that, leaving a financing gap of about $50 billion.

“This difference should come from somewhere. Tapping into private-sector investment by unleashing the potential of PPPs is one innovative way of attracting financing for infrastructure in Africa, as this has a very high development and poverty reduction impact in Africa,” states Mr. Temesgen.

He adds, “Governments and development partners cannot fully close the current huge infrastructure financing gap. It is therefore vital to mobilise private-sector financing to support infrastructure developments.”

Private-sector financing is succeeding in different parts of the continent, just as it soon may in Ghana through the Kpone power plant.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the Henri Konan Bédié bridge in the capital, Abidjan, is considered one of the most successful PPP-funded projects in the post-conflict country.

The $265 million bridge, opened in 2014, connects two of Abidjan’s major districts—Riviera in the north and Marcory in the south—and has done away with over 10 kilometres of traffic congestion. About a hundred thousand vehicles use the bridge each day.

“This facility enables us to enjoy the benefits of better traffic conditions. We now take less time in traffic, meaning more time for productivity at work. A while ago we would spend more than three hours in traffic,” says Abraham Kone, a resident of Abidjan.

The bridge has also opened up the neighbouring hinterland, simplifying freight transportation to the Port of Abidjan, the largest port on Africa’s west coast.

Public-private partnership is also diversifying the country’s energy sector. The expansion of the Azito thermal energy plant involving the construction of two 144-megawatt power plants will save $4 million in energy costs each year and will enable Côte d’Ivoire to move from being a net importer of electricity to being a net exporter.

With the expansion, the energy plant, located six kilometres west of the port of Abidjan, is producing over 30% of electricity generated in Côte d’Ivoire, with some of it going to neighbouring countries, including Ghana.

Partnering with the private sector to promote sustainable development is something the government is talking a lot about.

According to Albert Toikeusse Mabri Abdallah, the Ivorian minister for planning and development, “Public-private partnership is in line with Côte d’Ivoire’s National Development Plan, which outlines building and renovating the country’s infrastructure to accelerate development.” The minister adds that “such collaboration will also ensure job creation and poverty alleviation.”

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envisage that PPPs can promote sustainable development in Africa. A key priority of the UN-founded SDG Fund is to bring together public and private entities to jointly address development challenges.

However, many African countries, according to an AfDB report, are still in the initial stages of PPP implementation “because their use of PPP schemes is still uncommon and PPPs are complex to implement.”

The report indicates that PPPs have historically been scarcer in sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the world. Telecoms transactions account form the bulk of PPPs on the continent, but energy PPPs have recently started growing significantly.

“PPPs are not easy. They need a number of issues to be successful. Above all, a stable macroeconomic environment is necessary,” explains Mr. Temesgen.

However, an environment characterised by inadequate regulatory frameworks, unclear rules and procedures and lack of political commitment inhibits growth of PPPs.

Uganda PPPs

Uganda is one of the countries with a solid PPP programme. According to the AfDB document, this is the result of many factors, including support from the presidency and the ministry of finance, an earlier successful privatisation programme and a well-designed framework.

At a meeting in South Korea last November, Ajedra Gabriel Gadison Aridru, Uganda’s state minister for finance, planning and economic development, cited the PPP Act enacted in 2015 as a major enabler of the country’s PPPs. The law spells out the specific engagements of private partners in such partnerships. It also regulates the roles and responsibilities of government bodies during the development and implementation of PPP projects.

Concerns have been raised about severe environmental hazards following PPPs. Ghana Gas Company, for example, has been accused of failing to act as areas such as Atuabo, in western Ghana, continue to suffer the effects of oil and gas exploration that have led to widespread air and water pollution.

Because of concerns like this, governments are being urged to disclose information on risk assessments, including potential environmental and social impacts, of such mega-projects. Institutions such as the Bretton Woods Project would like to see more informed consultations, broader civil society involvement and closer monitoring of PPPs by all stakeholders.

*culled from Africa Renewal

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Global companies give Africa a second look
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
South Africa hosts most of the top companies in Africa, but other countries are coming up
BMW South Africa announces the production of its one-millionth BMW 3 Series sedan at its manufacturing plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria in South Africa. Photo: BMW Group

When travelling abroad for work and looking for accommodation, Joe Eyango, a Cameroonian living in the US, considers two factors: convenient transportation from the airport and around the city and reliable Internet access. He is a university professor and wants to be able to jet in, hit the ground running, make his presentation and zoom off to another destination in a day or two.

Mr. Eyango has been to various countries in Africa for business and work but has reasons for preferring South Africa.

“South Africa has a lot to offer compared with other African countries. The road system is good, there is adequate electricity and reliable Internet connection, which is necessary for work and business,” Mr. Eyango told Africa Renewal in an interview.

Recently, having been invited to present a conference paper on a tight schedule, Mr. Eyango flew into Johannesburg from Amsterdam, spent less than 30 minutes in customs at the O. R. Tambo International Airport, took a taxi and was at his hotel in less than an hour since arrival.

South Africa attracts many professionals and big multinationals. It’s currently home to more than 75% of all top global companies in Africa.

“Where these big companies choose to invest depends on whether the environment is right for business. Investors are interested in relatively stable countries, good infrastructure, reliable communication, electricity and labour,” says Dr. John Mbaku, a researcher at Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution and also a professor of economics at Weber State University, US.

Some of the global companies with a presence in South Africa include luxury car manufacturers BMW, the Standard Bank Group, Barclays Bank, Vodafone (one of the world’s largest communication companies), Volkswagen, and General Electric. There is also FirstRand, Sasol, Sanlam, and MTN Group.

In an earlier interview with South African officials on why they’d chosen the country as an investment destination, Sam Ahmed, then the managing director of Britannia Industries, an India-based manufacturer of biscuits, snacks and confectionery, said his organization had been looking for a country that would give it access to the entire African market while keeping its costs low.

“In South Africa you have first-world infrastructure and third-world cost,” Mr. Ahmed said. The company’s production costs in South Africa were much lower than in Southeast Asia, the company headquarters.

Big businesses are also attracted to countries where the legal system works, so they can be assured of justice should legal issues arise. South Africa’s judiciary has been hailed for its sound judgements and independence from political machinations relative to other African countries.

Another attraction for big businesses is human resources. The efficiency and smooth operation of these large companies depend on the calibre of its labour force. Despite many years of apartheid, according to Mr. Mbaku, South Africa provides its citizens with relatively good quality education the multinationals are looking for in their labour force.

However, despite its successes, South Africa continues to grapple with a high crime rate (especially in urban areas), graft accusations and the political uncertainty that businesses loathe.

Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN body that deals with trade, investment and development issues, acknowledges that South Africa has the oldest and most developed market economy in the whole of Africa for historical reasons: the market grew out of a strong mining and industrial base and the financial industry.

However, according to Mr. Kituyi, things are now changing and other African countries are also attracting big investors.

“It’s true South Africa has had a head start, but in net terms, there is faster growth in alternative centres for both manufacturing and service delivery than in South Africa. Today, the financial services industry is growing faster in Morocco than in South Africa,” Mr. Kituyi told Africa Renewal in an interview.

He notes that some multinational enterprises operating out of South Africa have relocated substantially. “We recently saw the opening of the Volvo truck-manufacturing plant in Mombasa. And similarly, we have seen many other services, particularly IT-based services and telecommunications, growing in new nodes like Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda.”

Fringe benefits

So why should African governments want to encourage global companies to set up shop in their countries?

Driven by insufficient funds, African governments are increasingly turning to private-sector companies for a much-needed boost. Foreign investments provide capital to finance industries, boost infrastructure and productivity, provide social amenities and create jobs, all of which can help a country reach its economic potential. And as countries rush to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, funding is key.

In Africa, governments and industry are gradually forming public-private partnerships (PPPs) in which companies provide capital while governments ensure an environment conducive to business. In the last 10 years, the continent has welcomed PPPs for projects in infrastructure, electricity, health and telecommunications.

Lenders like the African Development Bank are urging African countries to improve business environments by “creating the necessary legal and regulatory framework for PPPs, and to facilitate networking and sharing of experience among regulatory agencies and other similar organizations.”

Tread carefully

However, even as PPPs begin to change the face of Africa, there is need for countries to tread carefully and to learn from failed PPPs when signing up for such partnerships.

“Ask yourselves, does the state have the capacity to forge ahead with these partnerships? This is necessary to avoid bad debt,” says Mr. Kituyi, adding that governments should not let private companies drive the agenda.

This word of caution is echoed by the Brookings Institution’s Mr. Mbaku, who is advising African governments to ensure that PPPs work to their advantage: “If you have a weak or corrupt leadership, you may not have the power or the skills required to negotiate a favourable partnership. You will end up with a PPP that is not really a partnership.”

Mr. Mbaku gives the example of oil companies that have been operating in Africa for more than 20 years yet still depend on expatriate labour instead of employing locals. Such companies are reluctant to transfer skills, knowledge and technology to the locals.

Another problem with PPPs is the imbalance of power. “If you are a government engaged in a PPP on a development project, there is inequality in power. The multinational has capital, skilled manpower and [an] external market. The government has no power over these,” says Mr. Mbaku.

Despite the challenges, however, PPPs will continue playing a major role in the development of poor countries. For African countries to attract multinationals and other big investors to partner with, their governments need to put their house in order—improve infrastructure, communication, security and the legal system, and fight corruption.

*Culled from Africa Renewal

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Stanford Graduate School of Business Launches Two Educational Opportunities to Empower Youth and Entrepreneurs in Southern Africa
August 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Silicon Valley-based university continues to expand global program offerings with new partnership with De Beers Group
STANFORD, California, August 18, 2017/ — Stanford Graduate School of Business(www.GSB.stanford.edu) (Stanford GSB) today announced a USD $3 million, three-year partnership with De Beers Group to empower young, budding entrepreneurs and owners of established businesses in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa through two new educational programs launching in 2018.

Stanford is expanding two of its successful programs to Southern Africa: the Seed Transformation Program of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, known as Stanford Seed(www.GSB.stanford.edu/seed), and the Stanford Go-to-Market(www.GSB.stanford.edu/programs/stanford-gotomarket-botswana) program for accelerating business ventures to market.

The two programs are:

  • Seed Transformation Program, a one-year program of intensive sessions on topics such as leadership, strategy, business ethics, accounting, marketing, and value chain innovations. Skilled facilitators assist participants in applying classroom insights, developing leadership teams, and formulating a detailed plan for organizational transformation and growth. Seed facilitators also work with participants in carefully constructed leadership peer groups, offering networking opportunities, resources, and ideas to help implement the participants’ transformation plans. The mission of the program is to enable business owners to lead their regions to greater prosperity through the growth of their companies and job creation. The program will be open to owners of established businesses in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. Applications will be accepted 17 August through 6 October, 2017.
  • Stanford Go-to-Market Program, an intensive, one-week entrepreneurship bootcamp, taught by Stanford GSB faculty, held in cities around the globe. Through a combination of lectures, case studies, and small-group discussions, the program helps budding entrepreneurs gain the confidence and skills to commercialize their business ideas and accelerate their route to market. While Botswana will host the first Stanford Go-to-Market program in Africa, the bootcamp may expand to include participants from other Southern African countries once fully established. Applications for the Stanford Go-to-Market program in Botswana will be accepted this fall and the cohort will convene in March 2018.

These new programs exemplify Stanford GSB’s commitment to creating lasting global impact by bringing the Stanford experience to new regions, engaging promising business leaders globally, transferring knowledge, and building relationships. Through these new programs, Stanford GSB has an opportunity to share insights through hands-on management education for students, while also gaining a better understanding of the business climate and unique economic attributes of Southern Africa.

“We are excited to work with the young and established entrepreneurs in the Southern African region. As with our experiences in East and West Africa, we are coming to learn as much as we are to teach,” said Jesper Sørensen, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford GSB and faculty director of Stanford Seed, a Stanford University initiative led by the Stanford GSB. “If the business and job growth that follows matches what we are seeing in our other locations, I anticipate this collaboration will be a very impactful initiative.”

The Seed Transformation Program launched in West Africa in 2013 and expanded to East Africa in 2016, and will open a third location in India later this month. Faculty, staff, and coaches have trained more than 500 business leaders with the goal of promoting prosperity in these regions.

Both the Seed Transformation Program and Stanford Go-to-Market program will be headquartered at the Botswana Innovation Hub, a science and technology park in Gaborone, Botswana. The initiative will be supported by a range of government entities in Botswana, including the Botswana Innovation Hub, the Botswana Ministry of Tertiary Education, and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport & Culture Development.

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University is known for its entrepreneurial spirit and leadership in research and learning. Stanford’s faculty and students work to improve the health and wellbeing of people around the world through the discovery and application of knowledge. Breakthroughs at Stanford include the first successful heart-lung transplant, the debut of the computer mouse, and the development of digital music. Stanford’s areas of excellence span a wide range of fields across seven schools, including the Stanford GSB.

 

https://vimeo.com/208402876

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Integrating Financial Services In Africa
August 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

By *

A defining objective of the African Union is to promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies. This noble mandate, enshrined in Article 3, of the Constitutive Acts of the AU, actually predates the AU, and was a principal goal of the Organization of African Unity, OAU, the predecessor body of the AU.

Emeke E Iweriebor

Emeke E Iweriebor

Economic integration also provided a fundamental impetus in the formation of the various Regional Economic Communities, RECs, and monetary zones in Africa – viz. ECOWAS, UMOA, CEMAC, CEEAC, EAC, AMU, CEN-SAD, SADC, COMESA, IGAD, etc. Together, these RECs have striven to promote and co-ordinate social, political and economic integration in the continent.Interestingly, some countries are even members of up two or three RECs. This is a testament to the overarching criticality of economic integration in the vision, plans and activities of African states.

In this treatise, I will focus on the integration of financial services in Africa, an unheralded field, but where remarkable results are being recorded. A Payment System is a facilitator of monetary transactions, and a veritable integrative node. In the UEMOA zone, in West Africa, the Groupement Interbancaire Monétique de I’UnionEconomique et MonétaireOuestAfricaine, more widely known by its French acronym, GIM-UEMOA, set up by BCEAO, the Central Bank of West African States in 2003, in striving to create a cashless region, has grown to become a regional platform for cards, electronic payments, and clearing of interbank transactions. With over 100 banks, financial and postal institutions as members; cardholders in the GIM network,pay relatively low transaction fees.

Also, the Central African equivalent, GIMAC,created in 2013, under the guidance of the Central Bank of Central African States, BEAC, is working with Banks to integrate the electronic payments system in the region, and ensure inter-operability and acceptance of GIMAC cards, for ATMs, POS, etc, by banks and for international payments,and reduce transaction and cash handling costs, while facilitating e-commerce.

The East African Payment System, EAPS, provides a platform for the real time settlement of cross border payments in the region. Driven by the Central Banks in the region, and piloted in 2013, the payment system took off immediately in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and subsequently, Rwanda. More remarkable is that EAPS is based on direct convertibility, and the use of the currencies of participating countries for transactions and settlement, without the intermediary facilitation of any OECD currency. For instance, transactions initiated in Tanzania shillings can be directly settled in Uganda shillings or Kenya shillings.

In Southern Africa, the SADC Integrated Regional Electronic Settlement System (SIRESS),and the Regional Payment and Settlement System, REPSS, launched separately in 2014, are two integrative payments systems worth referencing. Through SIRESS, funds can be wired, real time, to beneficiaries with accounts in SIRESS commercial banks. REPSS, with a clearing house in Zimbabwe, and the Central Bank of Mauritius as its Settlement Bank, utilizes an electronic platform for cross-border payments and settlement.

Quite positively, these initiatives, operationalized under the auspices of Central Banks, and with the active participation of commercial Banks are technologically advanced, rapid, and secure. While leveraging on the real-time gross settlement systems of the countries, they seek to enhance efficiency, reduce settlement time, lower transaction costs and generally facilitate intra-African trade, and economic integration in the continent.

In tandem, the banking sector, in Africa, has expanded exponentially in the last decade, in asset size and profitability; geography -distribution channels and network; product sophistication- digital banking, cards, mobile payments; and, financial inclusion. Access to financial services continues to improve across the continent. Furthermore, leveraging on enhanced capacity, pan-African banks are increasingly able to collaboratively finance large ticket and transformational infrastructural projects through syndications and risk sharing. Currently, the top 20 pan-African Banks have assets over $800b, with over 11,000 branches. Beyond banking, we are also witnesses to the birth and growth of pan-African insurance, micro finance, and other financial service companies across the continent that offer greater diversity and depth of products and solutions. All these have led to the increase in the range, frequency, and diversity in the classes of risks that Banks, and other financial institutions, face. Concomitantly, risk management, regulatory compliance and corporate governance have become more stringent, and with onerous application, as they remain important variables for assessing the health of Banks, in the drive towards overall sector viability and sustainability.

Imperceptibly, but surely, the regulatory environment of the financial services sector, is also being integrated. The Association of African Central Banks, headquartered in Dakar, brings together 39 regional and country Central Banks in Africa. In line with its statutes, and practices, its Assembly of Governors, usually meets yearly, to deliberate on financial system stability, monetary and payment system integration, the African Central Bank initiative, etc.Another critical arm is the Community of African Banking Supervisors (CABS) which works to strengthen banking regulatory and supervisory frameworks.In the last decade, I have observed, first hand, this increased collaboration between African Central Banks,with MOUs being signed, to facilitate cross border supervision, exchange of ideas and information sharing between host and home regulators. Also, the College of Supervisors set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria, as a forum that brings together host regulators of Banks, with headquarters in Nigeria, but with operations in other jurisdictions,to strengthen governance practices, and ensure soundness in the banking sector, is also a positive development.

An evolving trend in the African banking space, is the initiative to connect Africa, andenablecustomers of a bank to conveniently access their accounts, deposit cash and make cheque withdrawals in any branch, in different countries across Africa, where the bank operates, outside the primary country holding the account. This has the distinct capability to alter the face and operation of banking in the continent as it will open up and facilitate easy movement of goods, services capital, and people. I also look forward to the day, soon enough, for instance, when a Moroccan manufacturer of fertilizer visiting Zambia to negotiate a contract; agrees payment terms, issues a paymentinstrument right away to a Zambian exporter of high quality packaging materials and gets value immediately, using simple electronic payment instruments.

On the whole, these emerging trends contribute significantly to the on-going African-led processes of creating a powerful, vibrant pan-African financial infrastructure, to further undergird and deepen Pan African economic, commercial, business and social interactions through access to personal and business finance across Africa. Together with the various similar initiatives in different spheres by African economic communities identified above, these initiatives will serve as a powerful signal of the march of African economic advancement through financial facilitation to build a fully integrated financial system that enhances financial inclusion, and serves the people.

Work remains. To accelerate financial integration, existing regional mechanisms and frameworks, including those highlighted above, must now begin to coalesce and fuse into larger pan-African systems, Central Banking, common currency, payments and collections; intra-African trade facilitation; etc. In spite of existing differences, but given the importance and fluidity of finance to agriculture, infrastructure, industry and economic development, the largest economies in each region showered as regional anchors, within a defined framework of the Assembly of the African Union.

*Emeka is Executive Director; CEO Africa- Francophone at UBA Group.Piece culled from linkedin page.

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The Africa Travel Association to host the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Rwanda this month
August 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Washington DC – August 17, 2017: The opportunities tourism brings to African economies will be highlighted when African leaders, international investors, and travel professionals meet for the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference, in Rwanda from August 28 – 31.
Hosted by the Africa Travel Association (ATA), a division of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the conference will highlight the economic and job opportunities being fuelled by the sector’s continued growth.
In less than 15 years Africa’s travel and hospitality industries have quadrupled in size, and the continent remains one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia.
President and CEO of the Corporate Council of Africa, Florizelle Liser, says CCA aims to use the conference to encourage investments and policies that contribute to the sector’s growth.
“The tourism conference will highlight opportunities in the tourism sector and intersecting sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, health, real estate development, and finance. Through strategic partnerships, we will also offer capacity building workshops for travel professionals of all levels,” she said.
Adding: “I look forward to working with [RDB CEO] Ms. Akamanzi and her team at RDB to showcase what Rwanda has to offer.”
This year will be the first time ATA’s Tourism Conference will be hosted in Rwanda, one of East Africa’s premier tourism destinations and one whose sector continues to grow. According to the RDB, Rwanda’s tourism sector generated US$303 million in revenue, in 2014 up three percent in the previous year.
On the sidelines of what is expected to be a packed agenda, ATA is working with Facebook to deliver training to SMEs in Kigali. The ‘Boost Your Business’ is a training initiative, developed by Facebook and facilitated by Digify Africa, designed to train and upskill small business owners on how to leverage digital tools to grow their businesses. The training will be held on August 26 at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
The conference also aligns with Kwita Izina, Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, a national celebration creating awareness of the country’s efforts to protect the jewel of Rwanda’s tourism crown: the mountain gorillas and their habit.
The 41st Annual World Tourism Conference will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, on August 28-31, 2017.
Established in 1975, The African Travel Association serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry. ATA membership comprises African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour operators and travel agents, and affiliate industries. ATA partners with the African Union Commission (AU) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa.
Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting U.S. and African business interests. CCA serves as a neutral, trusted intermediary connecting its member firms with the essential government and business leaders they need to do business and succeed in Africa.
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How AfDB’s investments in youth raise hope for a new Africa
August 13, 2017 | 0 Comments

“The future of Africa’s youth does not lie in migration to Europe; it should not be at the bottom of the Mediterranean; it lies in a prosperous Africa. We must create greater economic opportunities for our youth right at home in Africa.” – Akinwumi Adesina to G7 leaders

Current statistics put Africa’s overall unemployment rate at 8%, while the youth unemployment rate hovers around 13%.

Sixty per cent of unemployed people are young women and men. Of the young people who are employed, many are trapped in low-productivity work in the informal sector. Providing young African people with the education, skills and capacities for gainful employment is considered an urgent priority.

Thanks to the African Development Bank (AfDB), a new crop of highly inspired young Africans are gradually emerging. AfDB’s initiatives in this area are seen as model of how the continent’s young population could become a development asset for a new Africa.

To enable them contribute to the economy and to achieve an improved quality of life, a growing number of youths are embracing small, medium and large agriculture-based industries nudged on by the AfDB.

They are taking hold of their destiny. They can be also found in education, health, ICT and other facets of entrepreneurship.

Indeed, latest statistics reveal that many young Africans are not only exploring their inner potential, they are taking advantage of innovation platforms, inspired by the African Development Bank.

Through initiatives like the Jobs for Youth in Africa (JfYA)Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth, and the African Youth Agripreneurs Forum (AYAF), the AfDB is equipping young people with the right skills for business and employment. AfDB has also strengthened its support for science, technology and innovation training by investing in centres of excellence, working in collaboration with the private sector.

With 200 million Africans recorded to be between the ages of 15 and 29, youth unemployment and underemployment are high. Investing in skills through technical and vocational education will be essential to enabling young people to find jobs and business opportunities.

“We will keep Africa’s youth in Africa by expanding economic opportunities. This will help Africa to turn its demographic asset into an economic dividend,” Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, said.

At the African Union Summit in January, the African Union (AU) adopted the theme for 2017 as “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth.”

AU Heads of States and Governments recognized a country-level demographic dividend as central to the continent’s economic transformation in the context of AU Agenda 2063 – its global strategy for socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years.

Given Africa’s current demographic structure with a high youthful population, the regional body sees a substantial potential for economic transformation.

According to the AU Roadmap on Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth, “Africa is on the march towards a more prosperous future in which all its citizens, young, old, male, female, rural, urban, of all creeds and backgrounds are empowered to realize their full potential, live with satisfaction and pride about their continent.”

AfDB is showing that this is doable and is already leading the way.

For instance, through its Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative, AfDB has taken a comprehensive and integrated approach to equipping young people for work and enterprise.

Over the next decade, Jobs for Youth in Africa projects to generate 25 million jobs and impact 50 million youths.

In the agriculture sector, the AfDB is focusing on Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth programs, developing small and medium enterprises and creating jobs in agriculture. ENABLE Youth is a programme for young African people (18-35 years old) wanting to start a business in the agricultural sector. It works to promote, enhance, and modernize agricultural entrepreneurship in Africa.

The stories from the ENABLE Youth participants are resounding.

In Uganda (the second largest producer of bananas in the world), Sam Turyatunga saw an opportunity in producing his own brand of banana juice. As a college student, Sam produced the juice in his own dormitory. Supported by AfDB, Turyatunga now produces 1,500 litres of banana juice daily and sells its product in three other countries in East Africa. His firm also supports 500 banana farmers.

At the African University of Science and Technology in Abuja, Nigeria, young scientists and researchers are being trained to enhance industrial innovation, competitiveness and sustainable development across the continent.

“We are integrating a youth employment component into new Bank projects, and are working closely with regional member countries to develop policies that promote youth employment,” said Adesina.

The Bank believes that harnessing the labour, energy and enterprise of young women and men is critical to driving economic growth and reducing poverty.

In line with its Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, the Bank is integrating a youth employment component into the design of every operation it undertakes.

The Bank is assisting its regional member countries to develop national youth employment policies, supporting innovative work on best practices to help young people become entrepreneurs, and making investments that catalyze the private sector to increase employment opportunities.

There is a consensus that the 2017 theme on Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth, has the potential to have far-reaching implications that would address all the key issues that Governments have had to contend with, and change the development trajectory of Africa.

“We must create wealth and restore happiness to our nation. We can only do this when we have an educated and skilled population that is capable of competing in the global economy. We must expand our horizons and embrace science and technology as critical tools for our development,” said Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana.

“The good economic prospects of our country must first profit our youth, because they are our greatest strength and our greatest wealth,” said Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d’Ivoire.

AfDB’s leadership in this area is considered a viable example, which countries can tap into.

*Source AFDB

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African Regional Center of New Development Bank to be launched next week
August 13, 2017 | 0 Comments
Photo taken on April 20, 2017 shows an aerial view of Johannesburg Town, SouthAfrica. The City of Johannesburg Local Municipality is situated in the northeastern part of South Africa with a population of around 4 million. Being the largest city and economic center of South Africa, it has a reputation for its man-made forest of about 10 million trees. (Xinhua/Zhai Jianlan)

Photo taken on April 20, 2017 shows an aerial view of Johannesburg Town, SouthAfrica. The City of Johannesburg Local Municipality is situated in the northeastern part of South Africa with a population of around 4 million. Being the largest city and economic center of South Africa, it has a reputation for its man-made forest of about 10 million trees. (Xinhua/Zhai Jianlan)

JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) — The African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank (NDB) will be launched by the South African President Jacob Zuma on August 17 in Johannesburg.

This was revealed by the National Treasury in a statement on Friday. The African Regional Center will allow countries in the continent to have access to the bank.

“The launch of the African Regional Center will showcase the NDB’s service offering, highlighting the Bank’s potential role in the area of infrastructure and sustainable development in emerging and developing countries,” said the Treasury in the statement.

The NDB is an institution to solve the infrastructural development and funding problems for BRICS and developing countries particularly in Africa. The BRICS Summit in Brazil signed an agreement to establish the bank in 2014.

“Another key resolution taken at the 2014 Summit was to establish regional offices that would perform the important function of identifying and preparing proposals for viable projects that the bank could fund in the respective regions,” said the treasury.

The NDB headquarters were officially opened in Shanghai, China in February 2016. The NDB is expected to complement the work done by the Breton Woods institutions but not have strings loans like the latter.

*Xinhua/New China

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South Africa to host 2017 forum on internet freedom in Africa
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire*

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern
Africa (CIPESA) and the Association for Progressive Communication (APC) are set to co-host the 2017 edition of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica).

According to a CIPESA spokesperson, this year’s forum will be held
in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 27 to 29 September, 2017 expanding the physical footprint of the forum which has since inception in 2014 been held in Kampala, Uganda.

It is also reported that the landmark event convenes various
stakeholders from the internet governance and online rights arenas in Africa and beyond to deliberate on gaps, concerns and opportunities for advancing privacy, access to information, free expression,non-discrimination and the free flow of information online.

The forum is also expected to bring together human rights defenders,journalists, government officials, private sector players, global information intermediaries, bloggers, developers, the arts community, law enforcers and regulators, all of whom have a role to play inadvancing internet freedom in Africa.

According to the organisers, the highlights at FIFAfrica include the
launch of the annual State of Internet Freedom in Africa research
report, the commemoration of the International Day for Universal
Access to Information (IDUAI) that falls on September 28, digital
security clinics and this year, an exhibition showcasing the work and
products of various players in the internet freedom arena in Africa.

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AFRICA’S SKYROCKETING UNEMPLOYMENT: WHO IS TO BLAME, THE UNIVERSITIES OR THE STATES?
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Moses Hategeka

 A few years back, I wrote an article titled, “Universities/Varsity Curricula Must be Practical” that was published in, The Herald, Zimbabwe’s most popular and biggest Newspaper, and was as well republished in various other Newspapers and Magazines in other African countries.

In that article, I argued that, theory based and powered curricula as administered in most African universities, cannot spur a critical mass of skilled graduates needed to transform African economies and called, for its total overhaul.

In the same article, I called upon, African governments to step up funding to their universities and compel them to overhaul cramming based learning and adopt research powered learning.

Research powered learning especially in the experimental sciences curricula, makes students, to gain knowledge of producing inventions, innovations, and ground breaking technologies, which if backed by supportive conducive governments’ policies, can be a catalyst, in spurring industrial and entrepreneurial development in African countries. It also enables the students from social sciences and humanities field, to gain interdisciplinary knowledge, that in turn makes them, critical thinkers, capable of objectively analyzing public policies and other issues at hand, and provide remedies where inadequacies exists.

Africa’s skyrocketing unemployment problem, especially youth unemployment that is affecting millions of youth on the continent, is a manifestation, of the failure of governments and universities, to harmonize their visions, into one complimentary vision of finding solutions to the challenges facing the continent.

Universities are supposed to be the center of knowledge production and dissemination where learners are equipped with relevant knowledge and skills that makes them capable of solving societal problems and meeting societal needs. Are African universities serving this purpose fully?

Moses Hategeka

Moses Hategeka

Globally, research is a chief driver of new knowledge and innovation crucial for spurring sustainable industrial and entrepreneurial development, but how much of the research have African universities done or are doing that have translated or are translating into industrial commercial usable products? Why is it that, African industries are majorly powered by imported technologies despite the fact that we have engineering and technology faculties at our universities?

In the medical field, why is that all the health complications that requires specialized surgeries are mainly done outside Africa with those unable to afford it dying miserably despite us having medical schools/faculties at our universities? Still in medical sector, why is that the few molecular biologists in our countries are unable to use computerized technologies to read and analyze the genomes of viruses and only do so after being subjected to re-training by experts trained from abroad?

African governments are supposed to apportion a good percentage of their national budgets for research development, if research, is to result into implementable policies and industrial usable products. But wait a minute! Looking at countries’ national Budgets, how much money percentage wise does African countries allocate to their institutions for research development?

Governments are also supposed to create robust favorable environment and opportunities for its employable citizens not only at national level, but also at international level, by incorporating in their foreign policies and international relations, the issue of systematically and legally transporting their employable labor to other countries where it is needed through bilateral relations, like what Cuba, Russia, China, and India have done and are doing. What are African countries doing in this regard?

For example, on realizing that, it cannot employ, all its trained Doctors, Cuba, decided to integrate medicine as a fundamental element in its foreign policy and international relations, as thus, eighty percent of Doctors and health professionals in Venezuela, are Cubans, send there by the Cuban government, on bilateral arrangement with Venezuelan government, where by Cuba, supplies medical workers in return for oil and gas supplies from Venezuelan government. Cuba also has hundreds of Doctors working on bilateral arrangement in other Latin American and African countries. Russia, India, and China, who produces, highest number of technology specialists and professionals in life and experimental sciences also does the same.

To the Chinese government, where there is Chinese capital and trade, there should be Chinese labor. Many people keep on wondering, why there is large presence of Chinese engineers, technicians, and traders, especially allover in African countries and other developing nations, forgetting that, transportation of labor to foreign countries, is a cardinal part of Chinese foreign policy and international relations. In fact, all the major infrastructural development projects in Africa, like major road high ways, Dams, buildings and industries construction, have been and are being executed by Chinese supported companies and labor

To overcome, the waves of rural- urban migration tied unemployment, and curb horrible unemployment figures among its science and technology specialists, the Chinese government, developed an economic diversification policy aligned, to urbanization, industrialization, and transformation of rural locations, into production centers, which involved relocating major industries from already congested industrial centers to rural areas, thus expanding industrial base and creating new towns and employment in the process, Wuxi and Nantong for example, owe their transformation from rural to major industrial centers to this policy.

In sum, universities’ curricula must be research derived and interdisciplinary powered, for the graduates to translate the acquired knowledge and skills, into industrial usable products and attaining critical thinking skills, capable of finding solutions to the societal challenges and needs and African governments must ably fund their varsities for this to happen in addition to putting in place, the implementable policies that stimulate entire spectrum

Moses Hategeka is a Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer

Email: moseswiseman2000@gmail.com

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Fitch affirms African Development Bank’s Triple ‘A’ rating with Stable Outlook
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Leading global rating agency Fitch Ratings has affirmed the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘AAA’ with a Stable Outlook and its Short-Term IDR at ‘F1+’ (best quality grade, indicating exceptionally strong capacity to meet its financial commitments).

In a statement released on 4 August, the agency said the ‘AAA’ rating primarily reflects extraordinary support from AfDB’s shareholders which provides a three-notch uplift over the Bank’s intrinsic rating.

“AfDB enjoys strong support from its 80 member states, which include 26 non-African countries with high average ratings. Callable capital subscribed by member states rated ‘AAA’, the largest of which are the US, Germany and Canada, accounts for 21% of the total. This fully covered the Bank’s net debt at end-2016, underpinning the ‘aaa’ assessment of shareholders’ capacity to support,” the statement said.

The report underscores the strong propensity of member states to support the Bank in case of need as illustrated by previous capital increases and the Bank’s important role in the region’s financing.

In the assessment, Fitch maintains that fast growth in AfDB’s lending in the last two years has translated into a rapid increase in its indebtedness, noting that the Bank’s Management has indicated that if there is no clear evidence of a capital increase within the next two years, it will have no choice but to curb lending growth to preserve the Bank’s solvency metrics. The report added that if no capital increase is approved by 2019, debt will not be fully covered by callable capital from ‘AAA’ rated countries, adding that this would place substantial pressure on Fitch’s assessment of extraordinary support and, hence on AfDB’s IDR.

Fitch asserts that the relatively high risk profile of borrowers is mitigated by the preferred creditor status (PCS) that the Bank enjoys on its sovereign exposures.

Fitch assesses AfDB’s liquidity at ‘aaa’, which reflects excellent coverage of short-term debt by liquid assets (2.9x). However, Fitch notes that the share of the portfolio invested in securities or bank placements rated ‘AA-‘ or above (83% in 2016) is declining, although their quality is still assessed at excellent. Fitch understands that management intends to rebalance the treasury assets portfolio in order to increase the proportion of assets rated ‘AA-‘ or above. This would help underpin Fitch’s assessment of the strength of extraordinary support, given the relevance of liquid assets’ quality to the net debt calculation.

“The -1 notch adjustment to AfDB’s solvency stemming from our assessment of its business environment reflects the high risk operating environment in which the bank operates,” the report says, noting that the majority of African countries are classified as low income by the World Bank. The average income per capita and average rating of member states are the lowest of all regional MDBs, and they are subject to an overall high level of political risk.

Commenting on the rating, AfDB Acting Vice-President for Finance, Hassatou Diop N’Sele, said, “We welcome the confirmation of the AfDB’s AAA rating by Fitch, with a stable outlook. The Bank is dedicated to doing the most to make a marked positive difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans, while at the same time preserving its financial integrity. Our High 5agenda is our response to the need to accelerate and scale up Africa’s development to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the continent. The High 5 agenda, reflecting five identified priority areas (namely energy, agriculture, industrialization, integration and human capital development), enjoys strong support from our shareholders. The AfDB will continue to maintain a careful balance between maximizing its development effectiveness and assuring complete preservation of the interests of its stakeholders.”

*AFDB

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