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Clear frameworks key to investor interest in Africa’s renewable energy industry
October 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Grant Henderson*

Solar panels in Africa. Image: IRENA

With a population of more than 1 billion people and a collective economy of around US$1.5 trillion, Africa is a continent ripe for economic growth.  Developing the capacity to satisfy its people’s energy demands is key to unlocking that potential.

We already know that sustainability is a critical component of any real, meaningful development. Increasingly governments are coming to realise what this means; that in order to deliver on their broader economic and socio-political objectives they need to focus their attention on producing more power with renewable energy projects and innovative electricity storage and distribution strategies being a key part of this.

Historically, one of the biggest inhibiting factors associated with renewable energy projects has been the cost, however, the cost of delivering power from renewable energy projects is declining as a result of emerging technologies.

Securing the buy-in of the private sector is key to development in this sector. Incentivizing investment in the industry is at the heart of this, but so too is the establishment of clear, transparent frameworks for procurement and the setting of tariffs.  Investors need not only a thorough understanding of the environment in which they are committing, but assurances that these markets will remain predictable and stable. In the absence of these frameworks and the security that they provide investors will simply take their capital to countries to where the environment is perceived as more secure.

The second iteration of DLA Piper’s Renewable Energy in Africa summarises the regulatory environment for renewable energy in twenty African countries, highlights the key policy objectives for national governments and provides insight into the projects which are expected to deliver these goals. In showcasing the diverse approach to renewable energy being adopted across the African continent – and the legal, economic and technological developments being implemented – this report highlights that African governments are, despite the challenges they face, increasingly prioritising the creation of policies and frameworks that allow for the industry to be developed.

Kenya, for example, has since the 1990s allowed for independent power producers to operate in the country. Now with its long-awaited 2019 Energy Act finally having been passed in March of this year – the private sector will also have the opportunity to participate in the industry in a distributive capacity.  This is likely to result in a significant increase in competition which, in turn, should see the quality of the service being provided drastically improve. This in the wake of last December’s launch of the Kenya National Electrification Strategy, which provides a roadmap for universal access by 2022.

Uganda, meanwhile, is actively working to promote private sector participation in the renewable energy industry and encouraging partnerships that can effectively harness the potential of the country’s vast untapped natural resources. This as the government moves to reach its target of a rural electrification rate of 22% by 2022. Add to this the legislative changes introduced in 2016 that are serving to open up Botswana’s energy market to independent producers and you can see a positive and progressive picture of the industry’s development on the continent.

If the improvements to the regulatory environment continues, then so too will the accompanying spike in investor interest. Coupled with the wealth of renewable energy resources Africa has to offer – including solar power, wind power, geothermal energy and biomass – this could herald in the start of a whole new era for the continent’s renewable energy industry.

The future could hold some exciting developments, such as the ability to store electricity and a move away from fixed grids to the development of mini or micro grids to power remote communities and businesses.

The direct employment opportunities that emerge during the construction and development of renewable energy projects are, on their own, significant, but so too are the knock-on effects. Put simply, the absence of power is an economic inhibitor and developing and adding power to the grid provides and encourages opportunity in many forms. Ultimately, more power drives stronger economies and that is something that we should all get behind.

*Director at DLA Piper Africa

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Robert Gabriel Mugabe And The Battles To Free Southern Africa
September 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

By  Gary  K. Busch*

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert Mugabe addresses a crowd in Harare stadium during a political meeting in July 1984.
 Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

It was a shock to hear of the death of former Zimbabwe President Mugabe at his hospital retreat in Singapore. His death was no great surprise as he had been suffering for several years from a recurring complaint which required regular treatment at the Singapore clinic. He was 95 years of age so this, too, was not surprising. The shock was the finality of his passing.

However, what has been more shocking than his death has been the commentary in the world press on his life and efforts which pictures Mugabe as some sort of illegitimate villain who terrorised Zimbabwe for the thirty-seven years of his rule. This is not a truthful picture of his life and works. It demonstrates a serious lack of knowledge of the forces which shaped his policies and a woeful ignorance of the realities of Zimbabwe’s’ place in the Pan-African struggle to free Southern Africa.

Unfortunately, even within Zimbabwe, there are too many young people who don’t know or who never learned the real history of their country and their region or the amazing feat of winning the struggle for the independence of the country from the servitude of colonial and white settler politics.

Zimbabwe is one of a very few African nations which actually won its independence as a result of an armed struggle; as opposed to demonstrations, strikes and boycotts. During that armed struggle (The ‘Second Chimurenga’  the First Chimurenga  was the Shona revolt  against encroachment upon their lands, by the British South Africa Company and Cecil Rhodes in 1896 and 1897) Zimbabwean men and women took up arms and fought the White settler government of the Rhodesian Front and their “kith and kin” backers in the British Government. They risked their lives, their property and their futures in the battle against the injustice of White supremacy.

However, the struggle for freedom and self-rule in Zimbabwe was much more than a battle against the White settlers or the perfidious British. It was a Pan-African battle, of mighty proportions, which pitted the Frontline States of Africa (a coalition of African countries from the 1960s to the early 1990s committed to ending apartheid and white minority rule in South Africa and Rhodesia) whose membership included, initially Botswana, Tanzania and Zambia and later, as the struggle progressed, Angola (1975), Mozambique (1975) and Zimbabwe (1980). Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere was the chairman until he retired in 1985. His successor was Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda. These Frontline States sheltered, armed and supported the wide variety of national liberation movements which were seeking independence; among them ZAPU, ZANU, ANC, PAC, SWAPO, FRELIMO, COREMO, FLEC, MPLA, and several others as well as the military wings of these movements – among them ZIPRA,ZANLA, Umkonto we Siswe, POQO, PLAN and FAPLA.

Support for the liberation struggles in Southern Africa was not limited to the Frontline States. Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Libya and others supported these liberation movements with equipment, trainers and officers. When the Southern African Development Coordination Conference was created in Lusaka on 1 April 1980, it dedicated itself to the cause of national political liberation in Southern Africa, and the reduction of these nation’s dependence on apartheid era South Africa for transport and logistics. On August 17, 1992, at a Summit held in Windhoek, Namibia, the Heads of State and Government signed the SADC Declaration and Treaty that effectively transformed the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) into the Southern African Development Community, (SADC). Mugabe was the chairman of SADC’s organ on defence and security for the whole region. He was the key co-ordinator for the continuing struggle against apartheid and colonial polices.

What is even more important for the history of the liberation struggle was the financial, military, intelligence and political support ranged against African liberation movements by the United States and its NATO allies who viewed these struggles a part of their Cold War battles against the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Their aim was to support the South Africans in resisting African uprisings and, despite protestations to the contrary, their support for White supremacy rule in the Southern African region. The Soviets (supported by their international allies in East Germany. Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Cuba) played a major role in supporting the African liberation struggles with arms, finance and military assistance. The Chinese, as well as their North Korean allies were also very active in Southern Africa. Looking at a snapshot of the deployment of combatants in the Angolan War in 1986, in addition to the domestic liberation forces, is a good guide.

Opposing them were the armed forces of South Africa, with its own weapons-manufacturing capability (ARMSCOR and DENEL), UNITA (a local ‘liberation movement’ funded by South Africa and the US and reliant on South African logistical supplies), the remains of the White Rhodesian forces which had escaped the formation of Zimbabwe in 1980 with their aircraft, and the support and finance of  Zaire (now the DRC) whose President, Mobuto, was a key supporter of Savimbi’s UNITA.

As Mugabe was leading the battle against the White settlers and their South African and international backers his actions were tempered by and his abilities hindered by the Cold War in the African theatre. Throughout this struggle Mugabe concentrated first on creating the independent state of Zimbabwe and returning the control of its land to indigenous farmers. The fact that he was able to do this is a testament to his vision and his ability to function against such powerful enemies; most of whom were outside Zimbabwe.

Rebellion and the Urgent Need for Land Reform

One of the principal causes of the Rhodesian Bush War was the inequitable division of the land in the country. From the earliest days of Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company (‘BSAC’), Whites were encouraged to come to Rhodesia to farm the rich, arable lands in a climate which was “suitable” for Whites. Between 1890 and 1896, the BSAC granted an area encompassing 16 million acres of prime land (about sixth the area of Southern Rhodesia) to White European immigrants. By 1913 this had been extended to 21.5 million acres. Most of the land owned by Africans was used as pastureland where they grazed their herds. As the Whites began to exploit the land they had been given they found themselves in competition with the African herds for pastureland.

In 1900 the colonial government decide to divide sections of Rhodesia’s land. They divided the land into five separate regions, based primarily on the amount of rainfall. “Region I comprised an area in the eastern highlands with markedly higher rainfall best suited to the cultivation of diversified cash crops such as coffee and tea. Region II was highveld, also in the east, where the land could be used intensively for grain cultivation such as maize, tobacco, and wheat. Region III and Region IV endured periodic drought and were regarded as suitable for livestock, in addition to crops which required little rainfall. Region V was lowveld and unsuitable for crop cultivation due to its dry nature; however, limited livestock farming was still viable. Land ownership in these regions was determined by race under the terms of the Southern Rhodesian Land Apportionment Act, passed in 1930, which reserved Regions I, II, and III for white settlement.[i] 

Region V and a segment of Region II which possessed greater rainfall variability were organised into the Tribal Trust Lands (TTLs), reserved solely for black African ownership and use. This created two new problems: firstly, in the areas reserved for whites, the ratio of land to population was so high that many farms could not be exploited to their fullest potential, and some prime white-owned farmland was lying idle.

It was difficult for Africans to sustain themselves on the least favourable farmlands and many were compelled to work as labourers om White farms. This inequitable division of the land acquired by the Whites without compensation to the Africans who had toiled on the land for generations caused a great deal of unrest and agitation.

After a long period of protest and opposition, the Southern Rhodesian Government revisited the land tenure issue and passed the Southern Rhodesian Land Apportionment Act which reserved 49 million acres for white ownership and left 17.7 million acres of land unassigned to either the Whites or the Tribal Trusts.

When the Rhodesian Front issued the Universal Declaration of Independence, the Ian Smith Government passed the Rhodesian Land Tenure Act of 1969.  This kept the forty-five million acres of prime land in White hands but allowed for the expansion of the African lands in the lower rainfall areas. The White farmers abused these reforms by using them as an excuse to expand the borders of their farms into formerly African areas and in evicting African farmers from their farms. The resentment at the inequitable division of the land was a burning issue in Rhodesian African societies and the main grievance which precipitated the agitation for reform which landed many African leaders, like Mugabe, in detention for ten years.

The Lancaster House Treaty and the Constitution which emerged from it, in addition to the terms of the ceasefire, was principally argued on the urgent need to include in the Constitution the radical reform of land tenure in the new Zimbabwe. The British Government was afraid that turning the land over to Africans immediately would cause unrest and conflict. Carrington proposed constitutional clauses underscoring property ownership as an inalienable right of all Zimbabweans (but not all at once). This was enshrined in Section 16 of the Zimbabwean Constitution, 1980. Lord Carrington announced that the United Kingdom would be prepared to assist land resettlement with technical assistance and financial aid. The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Sir Shridath Ramphal, also received assurances from the American ambassador in London, Kingman Brewster, that the United States would likewise contribute capital for “a substantial amount for a process of land redistribution and they would undertake to encourage the British government to give similar assurances”.[ii]

The Lancaster House Agreement stipulated that farms could only be taken from whites on a “willing buyer, willing seller” principle for at least ten years. White farmers were not to be placed under any pressure or intimidation, and if they decided to sell their farms they could determine their own asking prices. Exceptions could be made if the farm was unoccupied and not being used for agricultural activity. These were “entrenched clause” in the Constitution.

When Mugabe took office as Prime Minister, his government created the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement, and Redevelopment to assist in the acquisition of land from the White farmers under the terms of the Constitution. Not surprisingly the White farmers were not interested in selling their land, except perhaps their second or third farms. They raised the prices well above what was the fair market price for farmland, so the reform of land tenure was stuck in the aspic of the entrenched clauses for the full ten-year period. During that period the Ministry recovered only 7.41 million acres of farmland. The Zimbabwe population was furious as they thought that when they won the war they would get their land back. Mugabe and Nkomo said that the constitution had to be obeyed, even though it was inequitable. There were many Zimbabweans, mainly veterans of the war, who did not want to wait. Mugabe and ZANU-PF kept up with their side of the bargain.

At the end of the ten-year restraint of the entrenched clause (1990) Mugabe and his government announced to the British that the time of restraint was over. Lord Carrington had promised up to a billion pounds for compensation to the White farmers whose lands were being purchased. Mugabe asked how they should proceed.

The British made some small token payments to the White farmers, but the main expense was laid at the Zimbabwean government’s feet. Land Reform was going slowly as the Zimbabwe Government found it could not pay for the purchases. Another problem was that many leading African politicians used their positions to acquire farms without compensating the owners. The Land Reform, such as it was, was benefitting the politicians more than the populace. There was a great deal of unease among the White farmers and they conveyed this to the rest of the world.

In June 1996, Lynda Chalker, British secretary of state for international development, told Parliament that she could not endorse the new compulsory acquisition policy in Zimbabwe. She urged Mugabe to return to the principles of “willing buyer, willing seller” which was the term used in the “entrenched clauses”. Worse news came on 5 November 1997, when Tony Blair’s International Development Secretary, Clare Short, sent a letter describing the new Labour government’s refusal to honour the financial commitments made by the Conservative Government in the Lancaster House talks to compensate White farmers for the loss of their lands in land reform.

She said that the UK did not accept that Britain had a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. Notwithstanding the Lancaster House commitments, Short stated that her government was only prepared to support a programme of land reform that was part of a poverty eradication strategy. She had other questions regarding the way in which land would be acquired and compensation paid, and the transparency of the process. Her government’s position was spelled out in a letter to Zimbabwe’s Agriculture Minister, Kumbirai Kangai. The Short letter wasn’t widely circulated internationally but was, effectively, a total abandonment of the British Government’s commitment to comply with the system they compelled the Patriotic Front to agree to at Lancaster House. Since Labour had replaced the Conservatives in the British Parliament the Labour Government washed its hands of any commitments made by the previous Foreign Office. The actual letter states

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This was, effectively, a declaration of economic war against Zimbabwe. ZANU-PF politely explained to the British that they were removing the entrenched clauses in the Constitution as the ten years had passed. They were now going to acquire the farms from the White farmers and pay them what they had originally paid for them – zero. If the White farmers wanted compensation they should make their claims to the British Government out of the billion pounds they had been promised at Lancaster House.

This development was broadcast across the media internationally as horror stories about the occupation of White farms; without any reference to the role of the British in delaying and then denying their contribution for the return of land to Zimbabweans. The hostility of the West to Zimbabwe escalated and the vilification of Mugabe, in particular, grew. The White farmers were portrayed as victims. They could promote themselves as victims because the actions of the Rhodesian Front Government against Africans had been overlooked and buried out of reporting and analysis by the Western media.

The Rhodesian Front Policies Against the Africans

 The injustices of the Rhodesian Government of Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front have been airbrushed over in the last forty years and the crimes of the oppressors have been relegated to a foot note as has the active involvement of the Western Powers in covertly supporting Rhodesia and South Africa despite this knowledge. What they did, and later admitted to, would have kept the ICC judges in The Hague busy for a generation had the court been formed at that time. Even as they knew they were losing the battle in 1978 they experimented with the use of weaponised anthrax against the Black population in Rhodesia. In 1979, the largest recorded outbreak of anthrax occurred in Rhodesia.  As shown in sworn testimony and repeated in the autobiography of Ken Flower, Chief of Rhodesia’s Central Intelligence Organization(‘CIO’) and CIO Officer, Henrik Ellert, the anthrax outbreak in 1978-80 was anything but benign. The original outbreak was the result of a policy carried out by the Rhodesian Front government with the active participation of South Africa’s ‘Dr. Death’ (Dr Wouter Basson) and, together with the South Africans, the Rhodesian Front used biological and chemical weapons against the African liberation forces and the rural Blacks to prevent their support of the civil war and against their cattle to reduce rural food stocks.

 Much of the detailed background of this program emerged from testimony at the South African Truth and Reconciliation hearings. Dr. Death used Rhodesia as a testing ground for their joint chemical and biological warfare programs. Witnesses at the commission testified to a catalogue of killing methods ranging from the grotesque to the horrific:

 1. “Project Coast” sought to create “smart” poisons, which would only affect blacks’ people, and hoarded enough cholera and anthrax to start epidemics

 2.    Naked black men were tied to trees, smeared with a poisonous gel and left overnight to see if they would die. When the experiments failed, they were put to death with injections of muscle relaxants.

 3.     Weapon ideas included sugar laced with salmonella, cigarettes with anthrax, chocolates with botulism and whisky with herbicide.

 4.    Clothes left out to dry were sprayed with cholera germs.

 5.    Water holes were doused with poisons to kill the cattle and anyone else who drank from them.

 Dr. Wooton Basson was aided by the work of Dr. Robert Symington, professor of Anatomy at the University of Rhodesia. The active work was performed by Inspector Dave Anderton, head of the “Terrorist” desk at the CIO. In 1979-80 there were 10,748 documented cases of anthrax in Rhodesia which involved 182 deaths (all Africans). In contrast, during the previous twenty-nine years there had been only 334 cases with few deaths. This was no accidental outbreak. Some of the weaponised anthrax was delivered to the US by the South Africans where it provided feedstock for the US chemical and biological feedstock; later stored on Johnson Island.

Despite these ongoing horrors and atrocities, the Rhodies continued to receive open support from South Africa and covert support from the U.S. and its Cold War allies who feared the influence of the Soviet Union and “Red” China on the continent.

Zimbabwe’s Initial Challenges

The newly independent Zimbabwe faced many challenges beyond the problems of Land Reform. The Rhodesian Bush War was not the only war of liberation in Africa at the time. It overlapped several Cold War conflicts in its neighbouring countries, including Angola’s war of independence (1961-1975) and civil war (1975-2002), Mozambique’s war of independence (1964-1974) and Civil War (1977 to 1992), and Shaba I (1977) and Shaba II (1978) in the DRC These conflicts, which often pitted  Soviet or Chinese military trainers and equipment against NATO members and their allies, made any coherent response to the demands for liberation, pan-African solidarity and justice a pale vision of what was demanded.

Initially the Afro-Asian Bloc in the UN had greater power over its ability to determine policy and raise support from the international community. Each year at the General Assembly the delegates had to vote over the application of the People’s Republic of China to substitute itself for the Republic of China (Taiwan) which was a member of the UN and had a Permanent Seat on the Security Council. Each year, before the vote on admitting Red China to the UN, the Afro-Asians were able to get political concessions and foreign aid projects arranged with the West in exchange for a “No” vote on China. On Oct. 25, 1971, the United Nations General Assembly voted to admit the People’s Republic of China (mainland China) and to expel the Republic of China (Taiwan).  Once the PRC was voted into the UN the Afro-Asian Bloc lost much of its power and influence. The admission of Red China to the UN was one of the most important changes in how the world viewed Africa. It became safe to ignore Africa and its demands for liberation and development. On the other hand, it also gave China’s African associates a new clout in their dealings with the UN and the international organisations by being able to mount support from China in the Security Council.

One of Zimbabwe’s main problems was that it is a landlocked country, so its trade had to pass through other countries, by rail or road. A map shows why Zimbabwe relied on its neighbours for safe passage of its imports and exports.

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That situation meant that most of the goods going in and out of Zimbabwe had to go through either Mozambique or South Africa. This was also a problem for the Rhodies in the later stages of Rhodesian Front rule. In response to a program of international sanctions against Rhodesia the Rhodesian Front was able to create a relatively sophisticated system of sanctions-busting commerce. Part of its ability was the use of transport links through the Mozambican ports of Beira and Laurenço Marques (later Maputo). This was facilitated by the Portuguese colonial authorities which controlled Mozambique at the time. This co-operation lasted until the Carnation Revolution in Portugal on 25 April 1974 when a military coup in Lisbon overthrew the authoritarian Estado Novo Regime in Portugal by dissident soldiers who were committed to ending Portuguese overseas colonial rule; especially because the colonial budget was eating up over 40% of the national budget. This was partially derived from the fact that the Portuguese were fighting colonial battles with African insurgent movements.

The U.S. and NATO had reluctantly supported the Estado Novo government in Portugal because it was virulently anti-communist. However, this did not stop the creation and financing of anti-colonial forces in Portuguese African colonies by both the West and the Communist Bloc. In the Portuguese African colonies, there were multiple liberation movements. Some were supported by the Soviet Union; some by China; some by the U.S. and Britain; and others by South Africa. In many countries the French supported both or all sides.

When the Portuguese abandoned their African colonies in 1974/1975 this caused a severe problem for the Rhodesian Front as easy movement of goods from Rhodesia through Mozambican ports was restricted by a FRELIMO Government which was financed by the Soviet Bloc and a RENAMO military force supported by South Africa; both of whom contested transport on the road and rail links. As a result, almost 90% of Rhodesia’s trade became dependent on South African road and rail connections as the Mozambican routes were more difficult and unsafe; even the oil pipeline built by Lonrho from Beira to Rhodesia which supplied most of the energy needs of Rhodesia was threatened. This dependence on South Africa for its commercial trade with the world was a very heavy burden for the new Patriotic Front Government as it took office. The South African Government, with whom ZAPU and ZANU had been fighting for years as a result of the South African support for the Rhodesian Front had a very effective grip over the Zimbabwe economy.

In fact, the problems Mugabe faced with the Land Question and competing ethnic strife between Shona and Ndebele, and internal Zezuru/Karanga Shona rivalries, were important to Zimbabwean unity and growth, but the strategic problems of logistics were a far more pressing and difficult problem. Its solution lay, not in economics or discussion of political or ethnic abstractions but in manoeuvring through the minefield of the impact of the Cold War battles in Southern Africa on free transport. The success in addressing that is Mugabe’s greatest legacy to the Zimbabwean people.

This delicate balance between Zimbabwe’s economic and trading programs and the Pan-African programs of liberation was well recognised by the US and its allies. In a paper prepared for the US Deputy Director of Central Intelligence on 9 July 1986, this dependence was illustrated. It concluded that “A review of trade and financial statistics shows that all neighbouring states, except Angola, are vulnerable to South African economic retaliation.”[iii]

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This expanded on a Research Paper on the transport system “Transport Routes in Southern Africa”[iv]

The findings of that study did not favour the African states. It found, “Much of the region’s trade moves along the “Southern Route” of north-south rail lines running from the Zairian Copper Belt to South African ports.

The transportation dependence of the black states of the region also includes their use of South African equipment. South African freight cars are used in nearly all the black states, as are South African locomotives in several-states. An equipment recall by Pretoria would, in our view, strangle the economies of the landlocked states.

In our view, the short-term prospects for implementing this strategy are gloomy. The insurgencies in Mozambique and Angola would have to end, and massive investment in equipment and training of personnel would be required. The SADCC has had difficulty raising transportation develop­ment funds, and the transportation systems of several of the member states—particularly the coastal ones—have deteriorated further since initial cost estimates were made…

Even if the insurgencies in Mozambique and Angola end, which would open vital east-west routes, we believe that South Africa would still maintain considerable leverage over the transport and more general economic options available to the black states.”

In response, the SADC states drew up a plan for a “Beira Corridor” which would channel Southern African trade through Mozambique. Although progress began on expanding and protecting the rail line to Beira and the oil pipeline from Beira to Umtali in Zimbabwe, progress was slow and risky as South Africa sponsored the RENAMO forces in Mozambique who opposed the FRELIMO government which took over from Portuguese rule and from attacks by South African commandos. This opposition to free trade through Beira led to Mugabe ordering the creation of the 5th Brigade under Gen. Shiri, trained by North Koreans, to fight against the RENAMO and South Africans to keep transport moving.

In July 1986, the Directorate of Intelligence at the CIA produced a research study “Beira Corridor Vulnerability” in response to a request from SADC for U.S. support of the project. The study found “The history of sabotage and attacks in the Beira transportation corridor, and our analysis of the military capabilities of government and insurgent forces that operate there, indicate that the road, railway, pipeline, and port cannot be effectively protected against attacks carried out by either the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) or South Africa. In our judgment, Mozambican and Zimbabwean troops may be able to provide reasonable security for the corridor’s limited number of bridges, oil pumping stations, and other key targets, but are unable to prevent insurgent ambushes, land­mines, and sabotage along this route through RENAMO’s heartland. Furthermore, the corridor also is vulnerable to attack by South African commandos, aircraft, or naval forces.             

In our judgment, development of the corridor, as an alternative to dependence on South African facilities, probably would result in greater South African confrontation with its neighbours. Moreover, Zimbabwe’s military requirements to protect the Beira corridor may create an opportunity for Moscow to initiate a major arms supply relationship with Harare.”[v]

The Cold War in Southern Africa

When Mugabe and his colleagues emerged from the British detention centres in 1974/1975 they found an Africa which was far different than that of the Africa of the mid-1960s when they were jailed. The aborted independence of the Belgian Congo had been a testament to the willingness of the U.S., Belgians, and French and South African mercenaries to openly intervene in the national liberation struggle by assassinating Patrice Lumumba and installing Moise Tshombe and Joseph Mobutu as tame leaders under their control. The US set up its own airbase in the Congo, WIGMO, guided by Larry Devlin of the CIA who became a “superminister” in the Mobutu Government. The French thwarted true independence in its colonies after Guinea choose direct independence over a “flag independence” under continued French rule and did not submit to the Pacte Coloniale which tethered the other francophone African nations to the political, economic and military control of France. An imprisoned Mugabe missed the Biafran War, where the French oil interests funded the breakaway state of Biafra with the support of South Africa and the Air Trans Africa pilots from Rhodesia. On the Federal side Russian, Ukrainian and Egyptian pilots supported the federal government.

The war for independence for Southwest Africa had begun while they were in prison and there was a Cold War struggle for control of the insurgents by the Soviets and their allies supporting the MPLA of Angola and SWAPO of Namibia. The Soviets sent down Vasily Grigoryevich Solodovnikov, the former head of the Institute for African Affairs in Moscow, to co-ordinate Soviet assistance from a base in Lusaka, Zambia. There were around twenty-one KGB officers in charge of planning, logistics and training in Lusaka. They arranged for African volunteers (cleared by their local parties) to travel to Odessa and other training bases in the Soviet Union for the military struggle. Mischa Wolf, the head of the East German STASI, sent down key officers to offer intelligence support and training (mainly in Angola). In fact, there were many “translators” from Moscow who served in Africa, including the Russian Igor Sechin (the current head of Rosneft and a key associate of Putin) and Viktor Bout. They all represented an important Soviet presence in Southern Africa. Many of the current Southern African military and intelligence officers (like Emmerson Mnangagwa) were graduates of this training program, as were the key leaders of the ANC in South Africa; both political and military.

The Chinese, too, had an extensive presence in Africa based in Tanzania. They even had their own arms factory in Pemba. They offered their support for training at their academy in Wuhan, China for African volunteers and spread military officers across Southern Africa offering support to the liberation movements.

The U.S. was active in restraining African liberation. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson sent Averell Harriman to the Congolese capital, Leopoldville to assess the growing power of the insurgents after Christphe Gbenye, Gaston Soumialot and Lawrence Kabila had taken over much of the Eastern Congo. Harriman and Cyrus Vance the Deputy Defense Secretary, drew up plans for an American airlift, carrying Belgian and South African soldiers, to install Tshombe as head of Katanga. They succeeded in installing Tshombe but created a much more serious problem for the West.

The U.S. flew in Belgian soldiers from the U.S. airbase in the Azores to Stanleyville. It had the approval of the Unite Nations and the support of Harold Wilson’s UK. One result of this open foray into interventionism was the growing involvement of the Cubans in the politics of the region. Che Guevara had gone to the UN and spoken against the Western action. He flew to China to meet with Chou En Lai, who had just been in Africa and then with Nasser in Egypt. They all pressed Che for a greater involvement in Africa and the need to express Cuba’s opposition to the U.S. after the Cuban missile crisis and the invasion of the Bay of Pigs. Che went back to Fidel and got permission to send a delegation of Cuban fighters to the Congo.

Che disappeared. His sudden disappearance was a subject for conjecture all over the world. He eventually surfaced in the Congo where, with 100 Cuban guerrilla fighters to assist him, he put into action his theories of how to help the oppressed peoples of Africa throw off the yoke of colonial imperialism. His first task was to help the young Laurent Kabila in his struggle against the dictator Mobutu, who had seized power in the newly independent Congo following the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. The diaries that Guevara kept during his months in Africa record a political, strategic and ideological failure.[vi] He wrote,” We went to Africa to Cubanise the African fighters. Instead they Africanised the Cubans.” Despite this, Fidel sent thousands of troops to Africa to fight on the side of African insurgents. They played an important role in the Angolan War and were, in the minds of the Western planners, an example of the clear and present danger of allowing the Soviets and their allies to grow too strong in the region.

The US Military in Africa

The U.S. is no stranger to military invasions in many countries, including a large number on the African continent. The United States engaged in forty-six military interventions from 1948–1991, from 1992–2017 that number increased fourfold to 188.The latest statistics are produced by the Congressional Research[vii] who show several more.

Between the mid 1950’s to the end of the 1970’s, only four overt U.S. military operations in Africa were recorded, though large-scale proxy and clandestine military operations were pervasive. Under the administrations of US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. (1981–1993) military intervention accelerated, rising to eight, not counting the large scale clandestine ‘special forces’ and proxy wars in Southern Africa. Under the Clinton regime, US militarised intervention in Africa took off. Between 1992 and 2000, 17 armed incursions took place, including a large-scale invasion of Somalia and military backing for the Rwandan genocidal regime. Clinton intervened in Liberia, Gabon, Congo and Sierra Leone to prop up a long-standing troubled regime. He bombed the Sudan and dispatched military personnel to Kenya and Ethiopia to back proxy clients assaulting Somalia. Under George W. Bush, 15 US military interventions took place, mainly in Central and East Africa.

The Pentagon has military ties with 53 African countries (including Libya prior to the recent war). Washington’s efforts to militarise Africa and turn its armies into proxy forces for the War on Terrorism got a boost in 9/11/2001. The Bush Administration announced in 2002 that Africa was a “strategic priority in fighting terrorism” Henceforth, US foreign policy strategists, with the backing of both liberal and neoconservative congress-people, moved to centralise and coordinate a military policy on a continent-wide basis forming AFRICOM. AFRICOM organises African armies, euphemistically called “co-operative partnerships,” to conduct anti-terrorist wars based on bilateral agreements (Uganda, Burundi, etc.) as well as under ‘multi-lateral’ links with the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The bulk of the U.S African interventions before 1995 were concerned, directly or indirectly, with the preservation of South Africa in its struggles against African liberation movements. The interventions after that were largely about fighting terrorists.

Why Was African Liberation Delayed by The Cold War?

The principal problems which African liberation leaders had to face in the period from 1960 to 1995 derived from the fact that the international community viewed their struggles as part of their worldwide struggle between NATO, the forces of the Warsaw Pact and the emerging Chinese efforts to expand their influence globally. However, Africa was not always a priority in these Cold War conflicts.

The problem for most journalistic and academic studies of these struggles is that they do not start from an appreciation that, in real life, almost everything is “joined-up”. As the U.S. was approaching the problems of Southern Africa and its covert support for the South African government it was also struggling with the demands of the Vietnam War (militarily, financial and political) and its battles in Iran and the Middle East. The Soviets were facing dramatic internal changes after their invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia; the growing dissidence in Poland and East Germany and costly wars in Chechnya and Afghanistan. China was suffering the chaos of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. In all these cases, African demands, while important, were very much on the back burner and well-behind in the queue for focussing national expenditures. Access to Africa’s great mineral resources was the main motivator for Great Power interest in Africa; both in acquiring them and in denying them to their enemies. The activities and interests in Africa by the UK and France, however, were in preserving their traditional colonial advantages and control. South Africa was fighting for its survival against a growing, politicized African majority prepared for armed conflict, especially after Sharpeville.

That meant that the African leaders, like Mugabe, had several separate and competing tasks for their attention. The first was the battle to achieve independence from the British colonial forces and the Rhodesian Front government which had assumed British prerogatives. That meant fighting the Bush War against the Rhodies and then negotiating independence with the British after they had reclaimed Zimbabwe from the Rhodesian Front. In order to achieve the military power to fight the Rhodies a source of weapons, training and support had to be acquired. The primarily Ndebele forces joined together in a political party, ZAPU, under the leadership of Joshua Nkomo. They had their own military force (ZANLA) and were headquartered in Lusaka, Zambia under the control and support of the Soviets and their advisors led by Solodovnikov. Not only did they receive arms and training, they sent hundreds of the ZANLA forces for training inside the Soviet Union. This was mirrored in the Soviet support of Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia.

On the other hand, the primarily Shona political forces united in a political party, ZANU, based in northern Mozambique and led by Robert Mugabe. It too, had a military arm (ZIPRA) and was sustained in its military pursuits by the Peoples’ Republic of China which provided arms, training and guidance to ZIPRA in Africa and in training camps in China. Many of the leaders of ZANU came from among the Zezuru/KoreKore Shona while the bulk of the armed forces of ZIPRA were Karanga. Although the vicissitudes of the negotiations led the leaders of ZAPU and ZANU to join under the rubric Patriotic Front, there was little, if any, co-operation between the ZANLA and the ZIPRA forces. Even when the Patriotic Front won independence in 1980 the two military wings had difficulty joining a united Zimbabwean Army. A British officer was assigned to help them.

The aims and ambitions of the Soviet Union and China were clear. They were able, for very little expense, to engage with the liberation forces in support of their liberation aims and gain untrammelled access to African resources which were very much needed at home. They were able to remove the British and the French from their colonial possessions in Africa and built up solid political and commercial relations with the African leadership which transcended the winning of liberation. They were also able to put pressure on the “glavni vrag” (the main enemy), the US, for appearing to support the forces of apartheid South Africa and White Supremacist Rhodesia. Despite protestations by successive U.S. governments (Republican and Democrat) that they were not racists and didn’t support racism in any form, the policies on the ground gave lie to this assertion as they established a quiet working relationship with the South Africans in their wars against SWAPO, MPLA, FLEC and their efforts to subvert independent African governments in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the DRC.

The US role in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba left little doubt of the US willingness to actively subvert newly independent African states for its own, perceived, interests. On March 17, 1970 the U.S. cast its first veto ever in the Security Council as it joined with Britain in rejecting an African-Asian resolution that would have condemned Britain for not using force to overthrow the white-minority government of Rhodesia. The U.S. justified its veto because it would block exports of Rhodesian chrome and unjustly enrich the Soviet Union, the second biggest chrome exporter. A CIA Intelligence Assessment at the time, Chromium: Western Vulnerabilities and Options [viii] rationalised support for exempting chromite from the UN sanctions on Rhodesia by pointing out “ Southern Africa’s severe economic, social, and political problems might disrupt mining and transport activities in one or more countries of the re­gion at any time and the USSR could embargo chromite exports to the West as it did during the Korean war…The Soviet Union would benefit from a disruption of chromium supplies from southern Africa. After 1985 it might even be able to expand its own exports to capture disrupted markets. It might do so selectively, however, as a means of nurturing economic and political ties with key Western countries. Large-scale exports during a prolonged disruption would in turn serve to increase Western dependence on the East by discouraging the development of alternative sources”.

Funding Rival Liberation Movements As Surrogate Troops

This Cold War competition in the liberation struggles in Southern Africa led to forming rival liberation movements across the region – some supported by the Soviets and Chinese, and their rivals supported by the US and South Africa; all in the same country or with neighbours.. African liberation became a proxy war for the main protagonists. Africans fought other Africans in the name of liberation, with the US and Soviets watching on and cheering their acolytes.

The rivalries and intense levels of warfare between domestic forces was bitter and bloody. In Angola the Soviets and the Cubans supported Neto’s MPLA – the US and South Africa supported Savimbi’s UNITA. Neto, and then Dos Santos, travelled, with great fanfare to Moscow and Havana, while Savimbi was feted in the US and Switzerland. The liberation forces which had set up headquarters in Luanda actively supported Sam Nujoma of SWAPO for the liberation of Namibia while the US and South Africa supported Dr. Kareina of SWANU and the South African-backed Turnhalle Alliance as an opponent of SWAPO. There were few sights more bewildering than in oil-rich Cabinda, when the South African commandos attacked the Cubans guarding the Gulf Oil installation. In Mozambique the South Africans created RENAMO to fight the FRELIMO government and assisted RENAMO by sending South African commandos to accompany them. In Botswana, Potlako Leballo’s POQO army of the Azanian People Liberation Army was suppressed by the South African military with the quiet support of the ANC; the US posted POQO as a terrorist organisation, advertising its putative Chinese connections.

In South Africa itself, the ANC was divided between the “regular” ANC and the “Vula Boys” of the MK. Far more damaging to the cause of the liberation of South Africa was the creation by the South Africans of a Zulu military force, supported and trained in camps in the Caprivi Strip by the South African Army,  engaged to fight against the ANC inside South Africa, “Operation Marion”. The South African Nationalists funded the Inkatha Freedom Party (‘IFP) of Buthulezi and provided the fighters of the IFP with weapons, explosives, communications equipment and training facilities. During November 1985 Buthelezi set out his needs to the then Director of Military Intelligence, Major-General Tienie Groenewald who offered military support, which included both an offensive and an attacking capacity. Buthelezi’s requests were placed before an extra-ordinary meeting of the SSC at Tuynhuis on 20th December 1985; where Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan, Minister of Law and Order, Louis Le Grange and Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning, Chris Heunis were tasked with establishing a “security force” for Buthelezi against the ANC internally.

Two hundred and six Inkatha men were recruited by M Z Khumalo for this. The 206 were taken to the Caprivi Strip in Namibia where they received training at Hippo Camp by the Special Operations component of Military Intelligence and Special Forces. The recruits were divided into operational groups; one of which was an offensive group of some 30 men. The trainees were instructed that their targets would be located within the ANC. They began a campaign of murder, assassination and destruction of the ANC leadership. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission over 20,000 died, more than half of whom died after the ANC was unbanned.

On 21 January 1988 Chief Director Intelligence Operations, Major General Neels Van Tonder met with Buthelezi. Van Niekerk, Colonel Mike Van den Berg and M.K. Kumalo and agreed to build more training bases for the Operation Marion IFP Zulus at Port Durnford and a separate base for the rest of the group at Mkhuze. By 1990 there were more than 5,300 IFP “Self-Protection” fighters operating against the ANC in South Africa.[ix]

There were similar bases set up for African military groups, like RENAMO, by the South African “Securocrats” to fight against African liberation groups; the most well-documented of which was the support for Savimbi’s UNITA. In addition,” Lang Hendrick” van den Bergh, the head of the Bureau of State Security (B.O.S.S.), recruited and operated African intelligence officers in many of the Frontline states. This was particularly effective in Zimbabwe when the Central Intelligence Organisation (which took over from the Rhodie Ministry of State Security) could continue after independence under its existing head, Ken Flower, and several of his colleagues.[x] Unfortunately for Mugabe and the CIO they covertly maintained contact with Van den Bergh and assisted in the creation of RENAMO and  empowered three BOSS operatives to place arms caches in the farms of ZAPU politicians after the ZANLA riots at Entumbane, Glenville and Connemara in Matabeleland which precipitated the  Gukurahundi  massacres of Ndebele civilians carried out by the Zimbabwe National Army. Periodically, CIO leaders like Geoffrey Price and three other colleagues would defect to South Africa and worked with BOSS. It wasn’t until Happyton Bonyongwe took effective control of the CIO that there was any trust by Mugabe and ZANU-PF of the role of the CIO. Happyton Bonyongwe was later succeeded in his role by the current Zimbabwe President, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The Challenges Faced By Mugabe

When Mugabe returned from the Lancaster House talks to become Prime Minister of the new Zimbabwe there was great anticipation of his victory dramatically changing life for Zimbabweans. While most people did not expect an overnight change to their lives they were not expecting the immense challenges and delays faced by the Patriotic Front.

First, it was not possible to redistribute land because of the entrenched clauses of the new Constitution. Many returning soldiers felt that this was the main item they had been fighting for and it was not immediate and was being resisted by the Rhodies and the British. Secondly, the new army could not accept all the returning soldiers. Some would have to leave the military and look for jobs in the civilian economy; trying to find work when there wasn’t a lot of work to be found. Moreover, the ZANLA and ZIPRA forces had to be combined into a single national army; a difficult task for those who military experiences had been so different. Thirdly, and importantly, the disquiet between the Shona and the Ndebele over accepting political appointments and legislative power was viewed by both sides as essentially unfair. The external forces to Zimbabwe, Cold War, British and South African fostered and promoted these divisions and factionalism and made progress slow and hazardous for the government. Fourthly, the liberation struggles in Southern Africa continued and nationalist wars in Angola, Namibia and the DRC continued unabated and required that Mugabe, as head of the Defence Section of SADC, play a role in supporting the anti-colonial forces.

Mugabe was in a difficult position. He was not particularly friendly with the Soviet Union as they had supported his competitors for years.  There was very little that the Chinese could do to assist. The U.S. had adopted the Korry Report under President Johnson which effectively reduced the U.S. from a broad engagement in Southern Africa by choosing five nations on which to concentrate its assistance. The rest were consigned to a policy of “benign neglect”. It was only under Nixon that Henry Kissinger changed U.S. policy in Africa after his realisation that there were thirty-seven thousand Cuban troops active in the area. He issued the famous National Security Study Memorandum 39 (NSSM39) which quietly recognised support for the South African Government and channelled covert U.S. policies to them to support the South Africans while making many speeches about the unpleasantness of apartheid.

The limits of US rhetoric were the result of the effective internal opposition to US government policies by opponents of the Vietnam War, by the civil rights activists who were empowered by the civil rights movement and by the rise of the Black Power movement in the US military. Battles between US Black soldiers and the White officers in Vietnam was not uncommon. In the US Navy, the Black Power groups formed the Black Faction group which included the Stop Our Ships (SOS) movement. The SOS supervised confrontation between Black sailors and the Navy which impeded the USS Ranger, the USS Kitty Hawk, the USS Richard B. Anderson, the USS Midway, the USS Constellation and the USS Forrestal from sailing or deploying to and from Vietnam. The fires set by them on the USS Forrestal alone resulted in over $7 million in damage and was the largest single act of sabotage in naval history. They were supported on shore in the US by thousands of anti-war protestors.

The effect of these protests and demonstrations against U.S. racial and civil rights policies of its government tempered the willingness of the Nixon administration to display its NSSM39 policies and, most important of all, made it clear that the use of U.S. military power in Africa would have to be through surrogates. They understood the risk of using the U.S. military, including a large proportion of Black soldiers, to shoot and kill Africans would likely provoke such protests in America that the consequences were too dire to predict.

Mugabe was forced to be patient but kept up a steady pressure on the British to proceed with Land Reform and exposed to the world the background funding and support by the British of a new Ndebele political party, the MDC, which challenged the ZANU-PF electorally. Despite enormous Western pressure against the move, Mugabe and Moven Mahachi, the Defence Minister delivered Zimbabwe’s military support behind the battle for control of the DRC Government of Laurent Kabila by the force of Rwanda and Uganda.

Little by little Mugabe achieved his aims. Zimbabwe remained free and independent. The land issue was resolved. With the assistance of the Zimbabweans, the DRC was saved; Namibia and Angola were liberated, the ANC took power in South Africa. The price paid for this was very high and the greed and avarice of Zimbabwean politicians has made a mockery of the ideals they preached and kept the nation from making an economic success of the great resources of the country. Mugabe made several unfortunate choices but, at the end of the day, his legacy is positive. It is for this that he should be remembered. His enemies were not only in Zimbabwe.

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[i] Angus Selby, “White farmers in Zimbabwe 1890-2005.” PhD Thesis, University of Oxford: June 2006

[ii] Martin Plaut, “Africa : US backed Zimbabwe land reform”. BBC News 22 August 2007.

[iii] CIA, Talking Points For DDCI- Southern Africa, , Declassified  2011/09/16 : CIA-RDP91B00874R000100200003

[iv] CIA, Transport Routes in Sothern Africa, , March 1983,  CIA-RDP90T01298R000100040001

[v] NSC “MOZAMBIQUE: Vulnerability of the Beira Corridor”, CIA-RDP86T01017R000707340001-9, 1986

[vi] Che Guevara, The African Dream: the Diaries of the Revolutionary War in the Congo. Harvill Panther, 1971

[vii]  Barbara Salazar Torreon and Sofia Plagakis, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2019, Congressional Record Service, D.C., Updated July 17, 2019. These do not include CIA interventions.

[viii] CIA, “Chromium: Western Vulnerabilities and Options “, CIA-RDP84S00558R000100100002-1

[ix] Gary Busch, https://www.academia.edu/19646357/Jacob_Zuma_the_Vula_Boys

[x] Ken Flower, Serving Secretly: An Intelligence Chief on Record, Rhodesia into Zimbabwe 1964-1981, 1987.

* The author is the editor and publisher of the web-based news journal of international relations www.ocnus.net and the distance-learning educational website www.worldtrade.ac. He speaks and reads 12 languages and has written six books and published 58 specialist studies. His articles have appeared in the Economist Intelligence Unit, Wall Street Journal, WPROST (a leading Polish weekly news magazine), Pravda and several other major international news journals

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Schools: Useful in Theory, Useless in Practice?
September 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

By John Nkemnji, Ph.D*

If you could be wealthy without going to school would you spend the time and resources to go to school for education? While formal education (schooling) is critical for national development and stability, the program of studies (curriculum) has barely changed from the days of the “Saber-Tooth Curriculum” (teaching hunting and gathering skills). The school system predominantly lectures to age-determined students and has hardly evolved, despite galloping changes in research, communication, society, technology, and culture. The schools’ lack of adaptation, rising costs, and unrealistic expectations related to immediate gains from schooling cause people today, especially on social media, to wonder if schools are necessary.(https://happinessishereblog.com/)

Students who drop out of primary school and are lucky enough to have lucrative careers often believe there is no need for formal education. Many drop-outs argue that employment and money are the reasons for formal education and that schools exist merely to prepare students for a job or career.  Consequently, some people wonder if students are wasting time and resources by sitting in age-determined groups, listening to lectures, and memorizing facts that can easily be looked up from computerized databases.

Critics of formal education usually forget that education is important for reasons beyond career preparation. Formal education develops disciplined minds, transmits the culture and helps students function in society. Enlightened leaders like Mandela alluded to the fact that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  A UNESCO document “Education transforms lives,” highlights the following:

  • Each year of liberal education reduces the risk of conflict in society by 20%.
  • Each year of schooling increases a person’s potential income by 10%. 
  • Increased access to education decreases the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

I agree with critics who believe that formal education needs reform to match our evolving society. Fundamentally, the curriculum of formal education has not kept up with the times. Technology has rapidly evolved, and it is challenging for some teachers and parents.  However, I disagree with the assertion that society no longer needs formal education, especially beyond high school. With a well-developed curriculum and an appropriate interactive delivery system, formal education whether private, public, home-school, online, or via apprenticeship is supposed to produce a community builder who actively and positively contributes to the community. It is also designed to pass on culture and produce liberated citizens who are inquisitive, productive and reflective.

We need schools to educate mindful, ethical, compassionate citizens.  Imagine what would happen to handicapped individuals if there were no schools to accommodate their needs, advocate for them and educate them to make them more self-reliant and independent? Formal education helps to provide or equalize opportunities for many people regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, or age.  Societies with inequalities and disparities are not usually stable or peaceful. A good educational system provides individualized learning, authentic problem solving skills, and social development. Education also helps reduce the unemployment rate and the prison population. People learn when they recognize that education will help to give them autonomy, empowerment, and emancipation. Education is good for self-development and social cohesion.

For schools to succeed, a committed partnership between students, teachers, parents, government, and society must exist. Some critics of formal education expect schools to cure all societal ills – environmental destruction, drug abuse, racism, gun violence, teenage pregnancy, obesity, sexual abuse, etc. That is not practical, especially with “hands-off parents” working round the clock.  Educators cannot do it all.

In schools where the curriculum is based on local needs and not a foreign system, the learners develop good self-concept, collaboration, integrity, human dignity, patience, empathy, and other important values of the society.  That is why nations like the Southern Cameroons and other developing states fight to change the school system to fit local demands. The people put off any form of colonial or foreign design with the belief that “Back to School” at the appropriate time will pay off. For about three years, students in the Southern Cameroons have not been to school. They are hoping for a better tomorrow, so they can be taught using an up-to-date curriculum by teachers who understand their language and culture. Colonial education is set up to make the colonized subservient.  The teaching materials and methods lead to minimal gains for the development of society.

Good school systems are not static but keep changing and adapting to the times and the needs of all the citizens.  Technology is there to facilitate education in formal settings since most research and development is done in formal institutions of learning. Technology will not replace schools. Formal education is necessary and needed by every citizen.  Formal education breeds the love for life-long learning for the good of citizens, nations, and the world at large since there are global problems that need collaborative-solutions from educated minds. Social media critics provide a catalyst for useful school theory and practice in keeping with the changing times.

* The writer is Professor Emeritus, Educational Technology.

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My vision for education investments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
September 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amini Kajunju*

Early in 2019 during a maiden visit to neighboring countries, a newly-elected President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi announced in Brazzaville that his government will provide free primary education to all Congolese children starting the beginning of the next school. This is great news—in a country with so much untapped wealth, parents should not have to pay for public primary education fees.

The budget allocation would be $2.6B about 40% of the country’s budget of about $7B with 50,000 state primary schools possibly receiving $52,000 per capita. Many schools are in total physical decay and academically inadequate. For President Tshisekedi’s offer to have any real value, his government must further commit to fundamental reforms and pledge a significant financial investment.

The DRC is famous for its vast wealth of natural resources including minerals, timber, and rivers. But the new government has a responsibility to turn its focus to another untapped resource: its human capital.

From the age of three to 30 years of age, young citizens are a captive audience, eager to learn and to innovate. We need to give them a good start for their future so that the country can experience high productivity and wealth creation through massive investment.

If one is looking for an excellent example of how investments in education transformed a poor country into a wealthy one, we need only look to South Korea. In the 50s, South Korea was a poor country. Through visionary leaders and actions, it made education, industrialization, manufacturing, and trade the pillars of their economy. At the height of this investment, the country spent 22% of its budget on education. These investments paid off. Today, South Korea has one of the most educated populaces and the 11th largest economy in the world and currently spends about $20.9B on education about 5% of the country’s budget. DRC’s economy is ranked number 99 today.

Despite DRC’s struggling economy, there is hope. Citizens are ready for a government that is committed to undoing a history of economic disinvestment and mismanagement, to restoring democracy, and to the provision of public goods. To assist with these aspirations, I propose seven fundamental reforms that will create thousands of jobs, accelerate economic development, and meaningfully reduce poverty. It is important to note that these actions will be doubly successful if coupled with substantial investments in energy, water, healthcare, transportation, and agriculture. The following seven reforms are the building blocks of a successful educational system:

DRC’s one number asset is its people and the strong and productive institutions that it creates and sustains

a.   Every government has three key jobs: collect enough taxes and fees to fund public goods, protect the citizens from internal and external threats and create an enabling environment for prosperity.

b.   Currently, the DRC government collects about $5.6B to $7B per year to fund its operations for a country with a population of 85M people.

c.   No real impact can be made from this low tax base to educate millions of youth

d.   The individual and collective efforts of Congolese nationals working in the education is important and valuable and must be celebrated.

e.   And, we will not be able to educate the masses without government investment and vision.

f.   Bring in the private sector as partners and investors in the training and the preparation of the world of work.

g.   No country has ever made it into the G20 or the G7 without a productive government and an educated populace.

Train teachers for the 21st-century classroom to increase the quality of learning in elementary and secondary schools.

a.   Teachers are the backbone of any educational system. Without adequate training , professional development and pay, teachers will not have the motivation or skills to teach.

b.   Build and maintain at least two teacher training colleges in every province of DRC

c.   Disseminate these newly trained teachers in all elementary and secondary schools

Implement a 21st-century curriculum from primary to university.

a.   A 21st-century curriculum is rooted in the following principles: technology, upgraded learning tools and concepts, a culture of inquiry and research, and the development of problem-solvers and leaders among all participants within the system

b.   Set the standards and focus on achieving the required competencies and learning at every grade level

c.   Upgrade and increase STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education

d.   At the university level, fund R&D and entrepreneurial investments with the aim of eradicating tropical diseases such as malaria

e.   Increase learning and action around climate change and environmental studies as Congo is known as the 2nd lung of the world

f.   Upgrade and increase access to learning materials by securing the latest books, online resources, and other educational tools

g.   Increase history, civic education, and social responsibility courses

h.   Replace rote learning with dialogue, inquiry, and critical thinking at every grade

i.   Introduce key soft skills like teamwork, initiative, and ethical leadership

Infuse technology into every aspect of the education system.

a.   Every public school from primary to university should have the most updated computer labs for experimentation and learning

b.   Provide free 24-hour internet service to all public schools from primary to university

Require age-appropriate entrepreneurial education for every student.

a.   Small businesses are the backbone of a thriving economy and the creators of jobs

b.   Providing entrepreneurial education will motivate those who are inclined to use this education to found companies and create jobs

Renovate and expand the physical facilities of all existing public education institutions from primary to university.

a.   It is very difficult to learn in classrooms and buildings that are collapsing or destroyed

b.   Public educational facilities and buildings must represent the goals and dreams of a nation

c.   A 21st-century curriculum requires upgraded and functioning physical facilities

Build 26 technical institutions—one in each province.

a.   Manufacturing and industrialization are requirements of a modern economy

b.   Technical colleges teach the competencies and skills required for industrialization and manufacturing

c.   A modern economy needs electricians, plumbers, and health technicians as well as experts in HVAC, aviation, construction, automation, technology, tourism and much more

For a country to advance and reach its full potential, the education system must aspire to improve and join the 21st century. Congo should use its resource-rich environment to propel its economy forward. However, the most valuable of all of Congo’s resources is its people. Therefore, the single most important area for the country to invest in is education. Free primary education is a great place to start, but now is the time to commit to more.

*Ms. Kajunju, a Congolese national, is the executive director of the IUGB Foundation and formerly the President and CEO of Africa-America Institute.Culled from LinkedIn 

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Time to Make Energy Work for Africa
September 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

It is past time that Africa’s natural resources benefited Africans

By Prince Arthur Eze*

It is long past time that we made energy work for Africa. It is past time that Africa’s natural resources benefited Africans; that every African had access to electricity; and that the wealth created by oil and gas would lead to the sustainable development of African economies.

Certainly, much needs to be done to make these dreams a reality, and the continent’s top leaders in the energy industry will gather in Cape Town on October 9-11 in Africa Oil & Power 2019 (http://www.AOP2019.com) to drive the conversation forward and #MakeEnergyWork.

Thankfully, success stories and opportunities abound.

The incredible story of Senegal, for example, stands as a roadmap on creating a transparent government; building the needed infrastructure to support future development; creating an attractive regulatory framework to bring in much-needed FID and new investment; and for using the oil and gas sector to spur new growth. The country, led by H.E. Macky Sall, the President of the Republic of Senegal, has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, consistently ranking in the top ten fastest-growing economies in the world. Government reforms, led by Sall, have improved Senegal’s image both domestically and abroad, encouraging a string of new investment in oil and gas, electricity, roads, fisheries and tourism.

The outlook for the country’s oil and gas sector, led by Sall, is bullish, with two of the world’s most-watched projects — SNE oilfield and the Great Tortue/Ahmeyim gas project — moving forward. Both are expected to start producing export revenues in the early 2020s.

H.E. Sall, winner of the prestigious “Africa Oil Man of the Year” award during the 2019 Africa Oil & Power conference, has certainly provided Africans with a strong example of leadership and cooperation. We are honored to recognize and support H.E. Sall’s achievements and continued efforts at Africa Oil & Power (https://AfricaOilandPower.com/).

At Atlas-Oranto, we are proud to be leading pioneers in the sustainable development of Africa’s energy sector, ensuring growth in countries like South Sudan, where we are honored to operate Block B3; in Equatorial Guinea where we operate Block I and in Nigeria, where we operate OML109. In total, Atlas-Oranto is active in 11 countries in Africa and we are committed to working with the governments and communities of these countries to ensure our operations meet the highest standards of energy development. In Equatorial Guinea, for example, we are currently investing $350 million into the country’s gas monetization and backfill project.

At Atlas-Oranto — Africa’s largest privately-held, Africa-focused exploration and production group — we have faith in Africans, and we invest heavily in frontier markets so that the continent as a whole can continue to grow. We know first-hand what it takes to get new investments off the ground and how to grow small-to-medium enterprises. It takes boots on the ground, as well as understanding and coordination with our brothers and sisters around the world.

Indeed, with new investment opportunities on the horizon and a new drive to cooperate across borders, now is the time to spur this sustainable growth in Africa with energy as the catalyst.

At Africa Oil & Power 2019, many of these opportunities will be featured, including the ongoing licensing rounds in Equatorial Guinea and Angola; the launch of the South Sudan licensing round; and more.

For three days, over 1,200 of Africa’s foremost thought leaders, industry experts, private sector executives and government officials will gather together to discuss the incredible role of technology in Africa’s energy sector; the rise of renewables; the incredible upstream opportunities from South Africa to Senegal and the need for cooperation.

Let’s get busy and #MakeEnergyWork.

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Between extortion and the sanctity of Petroleum contracts in Nigeria, DRC and Senegal
August 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

Investors need to know that their investments are safe and that they will be protected by the law in case the other parties falter on their obligations

NJ Ayuk

NJ Ayuk

By NJ Ayuk*

Last week, a commercial court in the United Kingdom gave reason to a claim by engineering company Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID), which demands over USD$9 billion from the Nigerian government over a failed gas deal. The decision follows a 2017 arbitration award and turns it into a legal judgement, which could allow P&ID to seize Nigeria’s international commercial assets.

P&ID’s claim is based on a 2010 contract signed with the government of Nigeria for the construction and operation of a “gas processing plant to refine natural gas (“wet gas”) into lean gas that Nigeria would receive free of charge to power its national electric grid,” the company’s website states. Under the deal, the Nigerian government should have provided the necessary infrastructure and pipelines needed to supply gas to the plant. P&ID would build the plant for free and then operate it and commercialize the output for a period of 20 years.

The company claims that over this period it would have earned USD$6.6 billion in profit, an incredible figure that becomes ever more fantastic as the company claims that the yearly 7% interest it is supposedly charging on this capital has now accrued to USD$2.4 billion, at the rate of USD$1.2 million a day, which closes the full amount at a perfectly round USD$9 billion. The whole situation is in itself extremely puzzling. Afterall P&ID, a company created specifically for this project, is claiming it is entitled to the full amount of what it would have gained over a period of 20 years of work, even though that period would not be over for another decade and some. Further, it is already charging interests on capital it would, if the project went forward, it would still be a decade away from generating. On top of that, it has chosen to pursue the matter in a British court, and has a separate law suite in an American court, when the contract was signed in Nigeria, under Nigerian law, and should be pursued in a Nigerian court, as the Nigerian legal team has repeatedly stated.

Nigeria is seeking an appeal to the decision, but P&ID is not wasting any time in trying to seize Nigerian assets abroad, and it might well manage to do so, at least in part.

Further, P&ID has never even broken ground on the construction of this power plant, which it claims would have benefitted so many thousands of Nigerians. The company has reportedly spent USD$40 million on preparatory work, although it is impossible to attest what that work has been.

Even just looking to the amount spent, work done and compensation sought, the figures seem simply absurd. USD$9 billion corresponds to 20% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves, it would be unthinkable that a nation state would pay that much capital to a small unknown enterprise that invested not but a small fraction of that amount in the country and done none of the contracted work. Further, it is perplexing that a British court would even consider such a decision.

However, this issue represents an important cautionary tale for African governments everywhere. Very few things matter more in the struggle to attract investment and build a favourable business environment that will push the economy forward than the absolute sanctity of the contracts signed.

Investors need to know that their investments are safe and that they will be protected by the law in case the other parties falter on their obligations, as it seems to have happened with the Nigerian government. It is by no means the first time a situation like this happens. Just in March, an international court ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo to pay South African DIG Oil Ltd USD$617 million for failing to honor two oil contracts. This is an unacceptable and unjustifiable loss of capital for the people of the DRC. Particularly taking into account that the loss is incurred because the country’s leaders failed to comply with a contract that could have brought a considerable amount of wealth for the country for many years to come, in both royalties and taxes, as well as help develop its oil industry.

Senegal’s government under President Macky Sall was very smart to avoid this kind of litigation when it was confronted with the issue of the Timis Corporation and its ownership of acreage that included the Tortue field, which is estimated to contain more than 15 tcf of discovered gas resources. If President Macky Sall would have proceeded with terminating a valid contract for the acreage, the Timis Corporation would have engaged in arbitration and would have probably gotten a favorable judgment against Senegal. In the process, the gas fields would have sat dormant and produced no returns for Senegal and its citizens. Sometimes leaders are confronted with tough choices and it takes a profile in courage to find solutions and still respect the sanctity of contracts.

Even with criticism from civil society groups, Equatorial Guinea has honored contracts with U.S. oil companies that many oil analysts believe are unfavorable to the state. This principle has kept Equatorial Guinea’s oil industry stable and US firms continue to invest in new projects like the EGLNG backfilling project with Noble, Atlas Oranto, Glencore Marathon and the state.

African leaders and African nations can not afford this sort of mistakes anymore. If on the one hand, contracts must be respected, protected and followed through, the people in charge of evaluating and signing those contracts must have the project’s feasibility as the dominant reasoning behind any decision. What is the purpose of signing contracts for fantastic projects where there is neither the capital nor the conditions to pull it through. Our economies live out of their reputation too. No investor wants to work in a system where contracts are not honored and where their investments are not protected.

While P&ID’s request for USD$9 billion in compensations seems absurd, companies that see the contracts they sign with African governments, or any governments, disrespected, must have the right to claim compensation, just in the same way that African leaders must be responsible for the contracts they sign and must make sure that situations like this do not repeat themselves. Enough money has been wasted on lawsuits that could be used to benefit the lives of Africans. This is true for the oil and gas industry and in any other industries.

*NJ Ayuk is the CEO of Centurion Law Group, Executive Chairman of the Africa Energy Chamber, author of the upcoming book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

 

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ME, FARAGE AND BREXIT…
August 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Omar Arouna*

I was introduced to Nigel Farage in January 2017 by a friend and a business partner shortly after he pulled off the Brexit win. –For those who don’t know him, Nigel Paul Farage is a British politician, broadcaster, and political analyst serving as Leader of the Brexit Party since 2019 and has served as Member of the European Parliament for South East England since 1999— We will connect at events time permitting whenever he is in Washington DC.

At tonight reception honoring him, Nigel directed my attention to the picture below and asked, “Ambassador do you approve?” I guess Nigel wanted me to reach beyond the noise and grasp a deeper meaning of his fight for Brexit. I read the message on the picture and it got me thinking.  Think about it as well…

It is well documented that EU policies affect Africa’s ability to address its agricultural and food challenges: Tariff escalation; technological innovation and food export preferences are major challenge that the continent needs to overcome. African shouldn’t be viewed simply as raw material exporters. However, adding value to the exports out of the continent continue to be frustrated by existing EU policies.

According to Calestous Juma a professor of the practice of international development at Harvard Kennedy School “EU charges (a tariff) of 30 per cent for processed cocoa products like chocolate bars or cocoa powder, and 60 per cent for some other refined products containing cocoa.” The impact of such charges goes well beyond lost export opportunities. They suppress technological innovation and industrial development among African countries. The practice denies the continent the ability to acquire, adopt and diffuse technologies used in food processing. It explains to some extent the low level of investment in Africa’s food processing enterprises.

Such High import duties keep products from developing countries out of Europe. Highly processed products are taxed more heavily than raw products. Import tariffs increase the more processed a product becomes. This measure ensures that most imports to the EU are raw products like coffee, cocoa or pineapples which cannot be cultivated in Europe.

MAYBE BREXIT MIGHT NOT BE A BAD THING FOR AFRICA AFTER ALL…just a thought

*Omar Arouna is a Cybersecurity Technologist, Diplomat, International Relations and Africa market entry strategist

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You think West Africa’s (liquefied natural gas) LNG-to-power projects are lingering? Zoom in on Benin
August 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Mickael Vogel*

Mickael Vogel

Mickael Vogel

With a population of less than 12 million and a GDP of $10.35bn in 2018, Benin is often overshadowed by its massive neighbour, Nigeria. Yet as African countries try to revitalize their energy sector, bring in private capital and develop gas-to-power, it is in West Africa and Benin that observers should look for positive developments. With recent legislative reforms and a strong political will, the small West African nation is strengthening its place as the capital of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) and positioning itself as a big hub for gas and power in the sub-region.

On July 24, French super-major Total signed a Gas Supply Agreement and Host Government Agreement with Benin and its state utility, the Société Béninoise d’Energie Electrique (SBEE). The agreement will see the development of a 0.5 mtpa Floating, Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU), the first in West Africa. LNG supplies sourced from Total’s global portfolio are set to start in 2021 and last for 15 years.

This is no small move for a region that has repeatedly tried to develop its gas-to-power infrastructure but has remained faced with financing, infrastructure and regulatory challenges. Between Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, up to 7,750MW of gas-to-power facilities could be installed by 2030 according to Power Africa. In practice however, erratic supplies from the West Africa Gas Pipeline, lack of gas and transmission & distribution infrastructure, unattractive pricing structures and outdated master plans mean that such potential might remain under-exploited.

In this context, the recent signing of agreements with Total brings hope to a region hungry for power. It is first the result of strong political will. Under the leadership of President Patrice Talon, Benin has been implementing a strong Government Action Plan (PAG) since 2016 which places the revitalisation of the country’s energy sector and private sector capital as a pillar of economic development. The formula is working: Benin grew by almost 7% last year and is expected to grow by 6.5% this year (IMF), placing it in the top 15 of the world’s fastest growing economies. And political vision has led a better ease of doing business. Benin has been revising its Electricity Code, and its Council of Ministers approved last month the new framework of intervention for the Independent Power Producers (IPPs), improving investment and operating conditions for private investors in the country’s power industry.

Cotonou, Benin

Cotonou, Benin

As a result, the agreement with Total will not only see the development of West Africa’s first FSRU, it is also reviving hopes of seeing clean LNG powering future homes and industries across the region. The new gas import project will indeed supply power plants in Benin, such as the new 127 MW power station at Maria Gléta, with regasification infrastructure developed and operated by Total.

Sub-Saharan Africa has a current installed gas-to-power generation capacity of about 18,000MW, 70% of which is in Nigeria. Based on known reserves there is potential for approximately 400GW of gas-fed power generation capacity in sub-Saharan Africa, with potential developments for 16GW by 2030. According to Power Africa, such additional gas-to-power capacity would require an investment of $113bn in infrastructure, $35bn in demand and $28bn in supply. With a dedicated team of lawyers and experts in gas & power, Centurion (CenturionLG.com) stands ready to assist regulators, developers and financiers in making this ambition a reality.

 

 

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Nigeria:EKWEREMADU’S ASSAULT AND THE DYNAMICS OF REVOLUTION
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Omoshola Deji*

The assault of Nigeria’s former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu in Germany is unsurprising, but shocking. Unsurprising because it’s certain Nigerians would revolt against their leaders misrule someday. It is shocking because many never envisaged such could happen now, and in this manner. The popular support, but low turnout at Omoyele Sowore’s Revolution Now protest, and the fading outcry for his release is a pointer that Nigerians want a revolution, but are reluctant to revolt.

Aside shocking the reluctant populace, Ekweremadu’s assault also stunned the revolution vanguards. Most never imagined any tribe could, at this moment in time, revolt against the same leaders they have been programed to exalt and defend irrationally. Is revolution taking a new, unexpected dimension? Departing the long occupied arena of inter-ethnic confrontations for home?

Ekweremadu is the leading political figure of the Igbo ethnic group. He was Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President for three consecutive terms (2007-2019). Ekweremadu comes next to the late Alex Ekwueme, Nigeria’s first elected Vice-President (1979-1983). Ekwueme and ex-President Shehu Shagari’s government was deposed in 1983 by retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s incumbent President.

At the invitation of the Igbo community in Germany, Ekweremadu was in Nurnberg to deliver a keynote address at the Ndi Igbo Second Annual Cultural (new yam) Festival. He was denied entry to the event by irate members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Igbo secessionist group led by Nnamdi Kanu, a fugitive wanted for jumping bail to hide abroad after the military unjustly invaded his home. Kanu is undergoing trial for treason at the Federal High Court in Abuja. The Nigerian government proscribed IPOB, declaring it a terrorist organization in 2017.

On the instruction of Kanu, IPOB on 17 August, 2019 attacked and tore Ekweremadu’s cloth for allegedly not advancing the course of Igbo independence and not condemning the killing of his people by Fulani herdsmen. In all fairness, Ekweremadu couldn’t have done much, being an opposition figure. He spoke against the Military’s Operation Python Dance in Igbo land, but apparently not as vehement as IPOB wanted. Ekweremadu was being cautious. Defending IPOB fervently would have set him against the northern senators who are largely in support of the military invasion and IPOB’s proscription. Not playing along could have resulted in his removal as Deputy Senate President.

It would have also put him at loggerheads with the federal government. The President’s intolerance to criticisms would make him unleash his attack dogs against Ekweremadu. He would have been terribly harassed, arraigned on trumped-up charges and incarcerated. Nigerians won’t be surprised if Buhari arraign him for sponsoring treason and a proscribed organization. The circumstance surrounding the condition at the time puts Ekweremadu at a crossroads: to either pick ‘self’ or ‘us’. He settled for ‘self’ as most of the IPOB members that assaulted him would have done.

Kanu also picked ‘self’ over ‘us’ by abandoning the secession struggle at the most crucial time. Many of the hundreds of families who lost lives and properties are still grieving to date. They surely aren’t happy that Kanu brainwashed their loved ones to fight a battle he has no capacity to win. If those affected are Lustitia, their sword won’t spare Kanu for taking cover abroad after destabilizing the polity. He may neither be contacting the bereaved nor providing them support. If that’s the case, then it is unreasonable for IPOB to assault Ekweremadu for a wrong Kanu is also guilty of.

The southeast governors are more deserving of IPOB’s intimidation than Ekweremadu. They were conspiratorially silent when the python was dancing and IPOB was being proscribed. They failed to speak despite being immune from the incarceration and prosecution Buhari is using to silence critics. Be that as it may, the governors’ silence may not be unconnected with Kanu’s personalization of the secession struggle and uncouth utterances. He singlehandedly issued sit-at-home orders and called for the boycott of elections. This didn’t sit well with the politicians and Ohaneze Ndigbo, the leading Igbo socio-cultural group. Ekweremadu is just a lone voice among these persons. He cannot order them to do his bidding.

But then, one cannot exonerate Ekweremadu of blame. Ekweremadu is elected to represent his constituency and region, not himself. If the wish of the Igbo majority, as it seems then, is to secede, it is Ekweremadu’s responsibility to interface with the federal government and find a middle ground. This should have been done with IPOB and other relevant stakeholders in the know, but Ekweremadu acted differently. His action was largely self-serving. Escaping prosecution from alleged corrupt practices was his priority. He chose to favor ‘self’ when he is elected to represent ‘us’. He deserves to be punished, but through the ballot, not assault.

Ekweremadu was punished for the wrongs of his fellow elites ruining Nigeria. He was made to feel the anger of the people. Nigerians across boards believe the assault is a viable way of making leaders accountable. Assault is immoral, but many are willing to get involved, if it would bring good governance. If corrupt politicians are being shamed, there’ll be less misrule as they and their families can’t stay away from schooling, receiving treatment and holidaying abroad. Nigeria would transform when the politicians have no other choice than Nigeria.

Celebrating new yam festival in faraway Germany is a misplacement of priority, at a time when incessant killings is occurring in Igbo land. Who among the organizers of the festival owns a farm or ever planted a yam? The real farmers who should be celebrating their outputs are being killed and losing their loved ones and farms to bandits. Partying under this situation is a mockery of the farmer’s misfortune. Leadership is service. The huge cost of organizing the events and the travel expenses incurred by dignitaries such as Ekweremadu could have been used to assist those who lost persons and properties during the secession struggle and bandits attack. Wealthy Igbos and the foreign branches of Ohaneze Ndigbo needs to be more philanthropic.

IPOB’s assault on Ekweremadu is somewhat unjust and misdirected. Buhari and his appointees who outlawed the organization and apparently failed to address the challenges in the southeast have been left unthreatened. Those at the helm of affairs are ignored for the governors who can neither control the security agencies nor restore Biafra. The unintended consequence of IPOB’s action is that her real ‘oppressors’ chance to win elections is being heightened by her actions. Defaming the People Democratic Party’s government in the southeast would only help the All Progressives Congress have an easy win in 2023. But for one thing, Ekweremadu’s assault is a message to the President’s top aides that it may be their turn next.

Aside the president and vice, Nigerian leaders can’t get the extraordinary protection they enjoy in Nigeria abroad. Unlike in Nigeria, where protesters are being hounded, the western nations allow people to enjoy their right to peaceful protest. Nigerians in the diaspora would be allowed to air their grievances, but assaults won’t be tolerated. That of Ekweremadu sailed through because it was unexpected. The foreign security agencies would be more present in Nigerian high profile gatherings to forestall future occurrence. IPOB has vowed to give Igbo leaders the Ekweremadu treatment wherever they are sighted abroad. This could create a bandwagon effect. Aggrieved persons and groups from other regions of the country may adopt the same strategy.

Ekweremadu’s assault and Sowore’s Revolution Now are well-coordinated moves against government and high-profile politicians. Could this be the manifestation of the decisions reached when Kanu and Sowore met abroad? Or the hounding of unharmed local protesters attracted sympathy abroad? Is the Buhari government’s intolerance making peaceful protesters adopt a violent approach? Has the government’s high handedness created another menace? Do the aggrieved protesters have a more violent approach of driving home their point in the bag? The time is pregnant.

*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via moshdeji@yahoo.com

 

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The 50th Anniversary of My First Speech at the United Nations And the Bitter Lesson I Learned
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Dr. Gary K. Busch*

Dr. Gary K. Busch

Dr. Gary K. Busch

During the 1960’s, after Sharpeville, the nations who comprised the United Nations embarked on a plan to restrict capital flows to the apartheid government of South Africa. They passed a number of rules and recommendations attempting to restrict the interaction between the South African Government and the major international banks. The UN’s Special Committee on Apartheid, under the chairmanship of  Abdulrahim Abby Farah, the UN representative from Somalia, called a meeting of the Special Committee at the UN New York Headquarters, from 17-18 March, 1969, to discuss the role of the international banks in supporting South Africa and to make a plan to expand the campaign to get these banks to boycott capital interactions with the South Africans.

Invitees to the meeting were drawn from several U.S. groups active in the anti-apartheid movement. I was invited as the specialist on Africa from the United Auto Workers (UAW) and as a Board Member of the American Committee on Africa, led by George Hauser. I had been one of the main contacts for the African liberation struggle leaders who visited the U.S. and had taken many to the House and Senate Committees for meetings. I had also arranged their meetings with groups like SNCC, CORE, NAACP, and others. I was very pleased to be invited to the meeting and hoped to contribute my thoughts on the issue.

We convened in a large conference room in the UN where, in addition to the invitees, there was a substantial group of UN delegates from countries which supported the anti-Apartheid movement. The program opened with an introduction by Ambassador Farah and followed by speeches by the Algerian and Nigerian ambassadors. Oliver Tambo was there on behalf of the ANC and he made a speech. After several more speeches we were allowed to speak.

I was more than ready to speak. In fact, I was quite upset. I had just been looking at the day’s New Yok Times newspaper where I saw a quarter-page ad by the Chemical Bank of New York Trust headlined by the line “The American Capitalist”. It descried the role of the Chemical Bank in arranging a large loan and ancillary financing of a Japanese company to buy iron ore from South Africa. This was the very thing we were meeting to discuss and, with good effort, prevent. I rose and asked permission to read the text of the advertisement into the record of the Committee. I did so and then said “Here you have a major American bank financing apartheid. You should realise that this is no rogue bank; this is the official bank of the United Nations. Your salaries and expenses are paid through this bank. It has branches inside UN installations worldwide. If you want the world to support the Banks Campaign of the UN perhaps you can start with your own bank.”

After a moment of silence heated discussions broke out. Mr Reddy, the administrator of the Committee, confirmed that Chemical Bank was the official bank of the UN. Chairman Farah called upon the Algerian delegate and the Indian delegate to speech who pronounced their outrage at what I had discovered. They. believe it or not, agreed to send a telegram to the UN Secretary-General from the floor of the meeting requesting an urgent response and review. I suggested that the UN Secretary-General’s office was only six floors above us and I would volunteer to hand deliver it immediately. I was told this telegram was the normal procedure for UN business. We broke for lunch.

I was having lunch with Oliver Tambo who was quite pleased with the proceedings so far. He did say to me “You may feel that this was an important blow for the Banks Campaign, but don’t be fooled. Nothing will happen but chit-chat and pointing fingers. The banks will go on lending as usual”. He was wise. There were stories in the press; there were earnest discussions with the anti-apartheid groups; there were fiery speeches from the African delegates. What finally happened as the result of my speech was that the copywriter of the article at the newspaper lost his job. Everything else went, as Tambo promised, out of the minds of the Committee.

I was immensely proud that I had used my opportunity to speak at the UN with some effect but, in retrospect, I had learned an important lesson. One cannot move international institutions by speeches or embarrassment. The United Nations is a permanent compromise looking for problems to work on. It was a bitter lesson for me in my youthful naivete but helped to shape my future expectations. I attach the official Committee report on my intervention and a picture of me before my speech, with Ambassador Farah.

“Although sympathetic U.N. delegations were aware of and concerned about the bank campaign, it was again in 1969 that action look concrete form. In 1966, the General Assembly resolution on the policies of apartheid had appealed to all Slates to “discourage loans by banks in their countries to the Government of South Africa or South African companies,” but in March, 1969, during a Special Committee on Apartheid seminar held at U.N. headquarters, the question of Chemical Bank, a consortium member, being the bank located at the U.N., came to a head. By chance. Chemical Bank New York Trust Company had placed an advertisement in the New York Times the same day as the seminar meeting in which it lauded the bank’s role in securing a deal between South Africa and Japan for the sale of iron. This remarkable situation, where U.N. resolutions were in essence being ignored by the United Nations itself, resulted in proposals by the Special Committee to the Secretary General asking an investigation of Chemical Bank’s role at the U.N. This culminated in a General Assembly Resolution passed in November, 1969, which called upon the United Nations and its affiliates “to refrain from extending facilities to banks and other financial institutions which provide assistance to South Africa and firms registered there.”

Dr. Gary K. Busch is the editor and publisher of the web-based news journal of international relations www.ocnus.net and the distance-learning educational website www.worldtrade.ac. He speaks and reads 12 languages and has written six books and published 58 specialist studies. His articles have appeared in the Economist Intelligence Unit, Wall Street Journal, WPROST (a leading Polish weekly news magazine), Pravda and several other major international news journals

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Celebrating Africa’s digital potential on UN Youth Day
August 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ime Archibong*

Africa’s young population could be its greatest asset in an age where many other regions in the world are aging as a result of declining birth rates

Ime Archibong

Ime Archibong

ACCRA, Ghana, August 12, 2019,Many things have been said about the future Africa and its potential, it has been called the Opportunity Continent, the Next Frontier and Africa rising, with all of these true. For me the excitement comes in how Africa can, and will one day lead in the digital economy, not only creating a better future for its young people, but for people across the entire continents, whether here in Africa or elsewhere like in Europe or the US.

Africa’s young population could be its greatest asset in an age where many other regions in the world are aging as a result of declining birth rates. As the world’s human population grows from 7.4 billion people to 8.2 billion people between now and 2025, 40% of that growth will come from Africa, and with more than 628 million people aged below 24, this young, dynamic and innovative population will become one of the most powerful engines of growth the world has ever seen.

Personally, I’ve always been so inspired by the creativity and talent across my home continent – whether it’s creating mobile phone apps which makes motorcycle taxis safer and more convenient, like in the case of Safe Motos in Rwanda and now DRC, or building technological solutions to solve agricultural challenges, like Plantheus, a recent graduate of Facebook’s (www.Facebook.com) NG_Hub Accelerator Program, we see people, especially youth, building solutions daily to local problems and needs. As eager and early adopters of technology, we’ll likely see the next wave of global digital innovations and apps coming from the continent and taken to the rest of the world.

Adoption of social media, mobile phones and mobile money are enabling Africa and its youth to leapfrog to the next wave of digital technology. This infrastructure is the foundation upon which so much innovation in Africa is built and will be built over the next five years. At Facebook, we’re committed to empowering young people to build their digital skills and harness them for the future – whether they are digital builders, developers or product innovators.

In the month of UN Youth Day, I’m delighted that we will be recognizing just some of these talents from across the region. Bringing together over 40 Facebook Community Leaders, SMBs, Entrepreneurs, Developers and Content Creators from across Sub-Saharan Africa, under the banner of ‘Celebrating Icons of Change and the Future of the Continent’ – celebrating the positive impact they are having in their community, something which is important to us here at Facebook.

Our commitment across the region remains strong, and Africa continues to be important for us, with this building on many partnerships, programs and initiatives already in place to help develop digital and entrepreneurial skills among young people. Whether it’s training SMBs through digital boot camps, helping interested youth to acquire digital marketing skills and placing them in employment, training women in leveraging digital solutions to grow their business, or bringing together 52,000 Developers from across 17 countries through our Developer Circles (http://bit.ly/2MbZe3t) program, we are excited to play a part in supporting the next generation of start-up founders, investors, developers and change makers.

As one of my favourite African proverbs says “For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today”, and we look forward to that tomorrow in the years to come.
*Vice President, Product Partnerships at Facebook

 

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BUHARI’S CERTIFICATE CONTROVERSY AND THE ESSENTIALITY OF EDUCATION
August 6, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Omoshola Deji*

Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election has ended, but the contest is ongoing at the tribunal. Politics is a mean game – and politicians devise every means to win. That ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar is challenging the result doesn’t mean he won. He may have indeed lose and still be imploring the tribunal to return him elected. In the same vein, President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence that he won doesn’t mean he actually did. He may have robbed Atiku and still be persuading the tribunal to pronounce him validly elected. Aside determining who really won, two major issues are before the tribunal: Atiku’s citizenship determination and Buhari’s certificate verification.

The suits are distinct. Deciding when and where to be born is beyond Atiku’s control, but Buhari could have averted the certificate controversy if he had devoted time to education. Atiku would be suffering for an action taking by the colonialist, if the court rules that he is not a Nigerian, but Cameroonian. The genesis of Atiku’s citizenship case is the 1884 scramble for, and partition of Africa. His citizenship may not have been a subject of litigation, if the western nations had not partitioned Africa. The tribunal thus has an unenviable task of determining Atiku’s eligibility to contest for president, on account of the West’s adjustment of his ancestral boundary, before he was born.

The testimonies and evidences presented at the tribunal revived Buhari’s certificate controversy which started in 2014. Buhari’s witness, Major-Gen. Paul Tarfa (retd) avowed that the Army never collected the certificate of the 1962 course officers during recruitment, as earlier claimed by Buhari. This landmark confession revealed Buhari’s claim that his certificate is with the military in 2014 is untruth. Nigerians thought then President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the military to withhold Buhari’s certificate in order to disqualify him for contesting. Suspicion brew after Buhari won the election and still couldn’t present his certificate, despite being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The certificate-with-the-military excuse became untenable.

Buhari did not attach his certificate to the 2019 presidential nomination form, as lawfully required. To make amends, Abba Kyari, the Chief-of-Staff to the President tendered the president’s Cambridge assessment international education certified statement of West African School Certificate (WASC). Kyari claimed he personally signed and collected the document on behalf of Buhari. Atiku’s counsel argued during cross examination that colleges don’t release certificate to third parties. This assertion is untrue. Colleges do release certificate to third party on the instruction of the graduate, but certain conditions must be met. Such includes, but not limited to: a letter from the graduate indicating that his/her certificate be released to a third party; and such party must provide a valid form of identification.

To strengthen his defense, Buhari brought in Oshindehinde Adewunmi, the Deputy Registrar of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in Nigeria to lead evidence in support of the document Kyari tendered. This unfortunately did more harm than good. When shown the document Kyari claimed to have collected on Buhari’s behalf, Adewunmi stated that the document is not a WAEC certificate, and he has never worked for the body that issued it. The witness said he cannot affirm the authenticity of the document because it does not bear his signature.

A comparison of the two documents Buhari presented – the Cambridge certified statement of WASC and the 1961 result sheet of the Provincial Secondary School Katsina – revealed some inconsistencies. One stated that Buhari sat for eight subjects, while the other stated he sat for six. The name on one is ‘Mohamed’ while the other is ‘Muhammadu’, although Buhari’s witness stressed that both names have the same meaning and are interchangeably used in Islam.

The discrepancies in the documents is making people opine Buhari would lose the case. Their argument is premised on Section 131 of the constitution, which states that ‘any contestant for the position of president of the country must have a minimum qualification of School Certificate or its equivalent’. However, they fail to take cognizance that Section 318 (1c) stated that ‘anyone with primary school certificate who has served in the Nigerian public or private sector, in any capacity, for a minimum of ten years is deemed to have the equivalent of a school certificate’. Buhari is thus qualified to contest and be president having served in the Army for over ten years. That however opens the door to new arguments.

The tribunal can only sack Buhari if his years of military service, which makes him qualify to be president under Section 318 (1c) is declared void. If Buhari joined the military with inadequate qualification, could his years of service be declared void? If Buhari was recruited into the military without a certificate and was not given a duration to produce it, who should be blamed? Buhari or the military? In any case, would it be fair to make Buhari suffer for the wrongs of the military recruitment board as the Supreme Court did to Ademola Adeleke in Osun?

The litigations and embarrassment the certificate scandal has brought upon Buhari could have been avoided if he had dedicated some time to scholarship. He had enough time to acquire more qualifications after General Ibrahim Babangida toppled his military regime in 1983. Retired General Olusegun Obasanjo — Buhari’s senior in age and in the military — bagged a Bachelor and Doctorate after he left office as President in 1999. Buhari is not an accidental president. His three unsuccessful race for the nation’s top job, cumulatively 12 years of aiming for president, is enough for him to have bagged a diploma or degree.

Buhari was yearning to lead but failed to prepare for leadership. This showed in his six-month late appointment of ministers in 2015. It is also manifesting in his abysmal performance and mishandling of sensitive national issues. His lack of ideas, narrow-mindedness and sectionalism is disintegrating the country and hampering growth. He has given little for every much expected. One cannot, in fairness, totally attribute Buhari’s shortcomings to insufficient education. The government of his predecessor who holds a doctorate was a colossal failure.

 

Nonetheless, that Goodluck Jonathan failed doesn’t mean Buhari should. Buhari’s underperformance hinge on his apologists cheering of wrongs. Justifying Buhari’s failure to get educated is moronic. Many of those defending him severely punish their children for not scoring ‘A’. They want their children to earn higher degrees, but passionately defend a president with a controversial certificate. Some of these apologists demand for Bachelor’s degree, National Youth Service Corps certificate, and five years working experience before they can hire and pay 70,000 Naira (about $200) per month. Such a brazen show of double standard is galling.

Sections 131 and 318 of the 1999 constitution needs to be amended. The framers made it possible for anyone to be president, so long as they can “read, write, understand and communicate in English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission”. The best may never get to lead the rest if the constitution is not amended. The less educated ones would continue to govern; appointing and issuing directives to professors. Nigerian leaders, many of whom are not so educated, controls the resources and earn huge, while the professors and citizens earn peanuts. The professors that should be ruling the less educated are the ones conducting elections to bring them to power.

Nigerian education needs oxygen. The struggle to make ends meet has turned many professors to political job seekers and errand boy. High fees, vast unemployment, and inadequate reward for academic excellence is discouraging people from becoming educated. A friend once said “education is the master key” and “Bata re a dun kokoka” loosely translated “you would wear the best shoes if you’re educated” inspired many to invest in education, but they’ve gained nothing. Politicians and political thugs are the ones wearing the best shoes.

Everyone must endeavor to be educated despite the challenges and discouragements. Buhari and Osun state former governorship candidate, Ademola Adeleke’s ordeal is a strong lesson that the education you fail to acquire may be all you need to win tomorrow.

 

Things are turning around for the good of the educated. Education is changing the game. Faster than anyone imagined. The educated ones are bringing innovation to businesses and taking over the jobs from the uneducated. Booking taxi through apps is gradually gobbling the job of the uneducated drivers. Many people view education has the ticket to working in an office, dressing corporate. No. Education ideally gives you a knowledge of the world around you and the skill to do things in a better way.

The case of Wunmi comes to mind. Wunmi is a female university graduate who studied mass communication, but earns a living from furnishing homes. She uploads furniture pictures on e-commerce platforms and contract artisans to produce them when she has order. The artisans’ inability to open and manage an e-commerce store is fetching Wunmi money. She wouldn’t have been an intermediary if the artisans are educated. She is earning huge, thriving and expanding, while the uneducated artisans are earning less. That’s the power of education. Buhari, Adeleke, and Wunmi are lessons. Learn.

*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via moshdeji@yahoo.com

 

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