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Ethiopia installs new PM amid hopes he can stop protests
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By ELIAS MESERET*

Abiy Ahmed, the newly elected chair of the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is sworn in as the country's Prime Minister, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Abiy Ahmed, the newly elected chair of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is sworn in as the country’s Prime Minister, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Young and outspoken Abiy Ahmed has been sworn in Monday as Ethiopia’s prime minister, amid hopes he will be able to quell the sustained anti-government protests that have rocked Africa’s second most populous nation.

Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s parliament, succeeding Hailemariam Desalegn who resigned in mid-February as a result of widespread protests that have taken the lives of several hundred people, mainly in the restive Oromia and Amhara regions.

“This is a historic moment,” said Abiy in his inaugural address to Ethiopian lawmakers. “This is high time for us to learn from our past mistakes and make up for all the wrongs done in the past . we understand there are a lots of problems that need to be solved with great urgency.”

Abiy apologized for the deaths of civilians in the violent protests. He said his administration will strive to solve grievances by discussion rather than by force, provide more space for opposition parties, fight corruption and focus on respect for rule of law.

The new leader said he aims to open up a fresh dialogue with arch-foe Eritrea and called upon Ethiopia’s diaspora to more actively take part in the country’s affairs.

Abiy is the first Oromo politician to become Ethiopia’s prime minister since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991. It is hoped he will be able to bring an end to the protests that have been raging since late 2015 to press for wider political freedoms and the release of opposition figures. The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group of Ethiopia’s 100 million people, have long felt marginalized both politically and economically.

A former Lieutenant Colonel in the army and head of Ethiopia’s Science and Technology ministry, Abiy, 42, has a reputation as an effective orator and reformer.

Many welcomed the new leader.

“I think this is a very important step toward the overall democratization and stability of the country,” said Kiya Tsegaye, a lawyer and political analyst. “But he needs the support of the people around him, especially top party officials to implement his reform measures.”

The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene) The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Prominent opposition leader Merara Gudina expressed cautious optimism over Abiy’s election, saying the future of Ethiopia’s peace and stability depends on the policies of the incoming leader and his party.

“What he aims to achieve depends on what his party allows him to do,” Merara said, adding that Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s ruling party and not directly by the population through a general election. “But still it goes without saying that a change in personalities within the leadership may bring changes in terms of bringing better ideas that may ultimately lead to national reconciliation.”

Ethiopia’s Olympic gold medalist runner, Haile Gebrselassie, said the peaceful transfer of power is a win-win situation for all Ethiopians.

“The new leader’s election has answered many Ethiopians’ questions,” Haile told The Associated Press, saying that Abiy should implement his pledges without delay. “His inaugural address today has the ability to bring together not only Ethiopians, but countries in the region as well.”

Abiy will be Ethiopia’s third prime minister since the former military junta, the Derg, was overthrown in 1991.

Ethiopia in February declared its second state of emergency in two years amid the ongoing protests that effectively crippled transportation networks and forced the closure of businesses. On Saturday, Ethiopian officials said that more than 1,000 people have been detained since the latest emergency rule was put in place.

The U.S. Embassy in the capital, Addis Ababa, commended the peaceful transfer of power, saying it is the first time a living leader has handed over power in Ethiopia’s recent history.

“We stand ready to support the government’s rapid implementation of democratic and economic reforms and look forward to the lifting of the state of emergency,” the U.S. embassy said in an email sent to The Associated Press.

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‘A new South Africa on the horizon?’
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati*

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa

It’s now 24 years since South Africa, ‘the rainbow nation’ as its affectionately known gained independence in 1994. At the end of Apartheid, the new democratic South Africa was the beacon of hope for not just South Africans in particular and also Africans in general.

To some extent, the country has managed to live to the early hype, it’s one of Africa’s strongest economies and its democracy is an envy of many. However, this side of South Africa is the one that the country uses in marketing itself and surprisingly, it’s this side that is most loved and covered by international media.  There is another side to the coin, however, that is shunned by the media. This side exposes the plight of South Africa’s poor which is increasing year on year due to the rising gap between the haves and the have-nots.

While it’s always hard to live on the other side largely because without exposure, on your own you cannot really influence much on the national level, it seems South Africa’s poor might have a reason to smile again. A ray of light in the form of the newly elected South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa is promising to bring solace and comfort to the weeping many.

Ramaphosa may well not be popular among many poor South Africans but if we are to take anything from his inauguration speech and promises in his first days in office, then poor South Africans ought to celebrate his ascendancy to power.

Unlike Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa is not a populist but rather a reformist and if there is anything the world has taught us, it’s to respect a reformist. While a populist has the charisma, appeal and sweet mouth to lure supporters, his/her rhetoric often times ends only in words while the reformist stresses more on doing than talking.

In light of this, let’s look at the promises that the reformist Cyril Ramaphosa has promised the people of South Africa especially the man, woman, and child in the most impoverished towns/cities of South Africa.

Fight against corruption

Cyril Ramaphosa took office the following day after a morning raid on the Gupta family, a family that epitomises corruption in South Africa. As corruption in the name of State Capture is the most important element that led to the demise of Jacob Zuma, it was clear from the word go that whoever succeeded Zuma would have to take on corruption if s/he was to gain traction. That is exactly what Ramaphosa did by promising to fight corruption.

While it’s those at the top that enjoy the benefits of corruption such as unscrupulously winning government tenders, it’s those at the bottom that Face the brunt of corruption. Corruption results in a job/task/project being handed to an incompetent person or body. The results, therefore, are below par and of poor quality mostly service provision which affects the middle class and the poor. By tackling corruption, Ramaphosa will open the environment for more people to challenge for opportunities that would otherwise be reserved for a select few. If the fight against corruption is successful, then there is reason for South Africans to celebrate.

Economic growth

Ramaphosa says his priority in government is to revitalise South Africa’s economy and his two main areas of focus are a digital revolution and fixing the mining sector. The world is becoming digital by the way and therein lays opportunities and challenges for South Africa’s growth. The first step that Ramaphosa is set to undertake is to establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission tasked which consists of the private sector, civil society, and the government. It is Ramaphosa’s hope that the Commission will unlock opportunities that will go a long way in aiding economic development.

On the same front, experts state that the telecoms sector in South Africa is stagnant due to two telecoms ministries fighting each other for supremacy. The new president needs to merge the two ministries and remove duplicate roles to ensure more sustained growth in the telecoms field.

Ironically, Ramaphosa has promised to spearhead the fixing of the mining sector, the one sector he has come under immense pressure in owing to the Marikana massacres. It’s not clear what Ramaphosa’s strategy is going to be but it surely it must have a special focus on the workers’ working conditions and remuneration.

Social grants

Ramaphosa has also made reference to social grants in his first weeks in office. For a country that is seeing its unemployment levels rise up year on year, it’s crucial that its social welfare structure is robust and that is exactly what Ramaphosa wants to see. Ramaphosa has stressed that there should be the efficient delivery of social grants. In the past, especially towards Zuma’s last days in office, the body tasked with administering social grants, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has had to delay releasing the funds. There are seven types of grants in South Africa which include Child Support, Older Person’s Grant, Disability Grant, Grant-in-Aid, Care Dependency, War Veteran’s Grant and Foster Child Grant.

Worker Rights

In a bid to address the plight of the poor who find themselves in some unfavourable working conditions, Ramaphosa has also that he wants to see worker’s living and working conditions improve under his tenure. He said that the first step is to implement a national minimum wage at par with the Poverty Datum Line that is going to give workers a better standard of living.

Being reformist, Ramaphosa is more likely to fulfil his promises, however, this is just an assertion that needs Ramaphosa’s will and determination in pursuing these promises for them to become reality. As such, it’s every South African’s hope that indeed Ramaphosa will stay true to his word and fulfil these promises that will ultimately make the life of South Africans better.

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Across Africa With Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

-US-Africa Relations Bigger than personalities Officials says

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Ambassadors Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan with Journalists at the State Department

Ambassadors Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan with Journalists at the State Department

Relations with Africa and the USA go beyond any one leader or official, Senior State Department Officials told Journalists in Washington, DC, recently in a media briefing. Speaking at the State Department to Journalists  from Pan African Visions, the Washington Post,Allo Africa News, and Reuters, Ambassador Don Yamamoto, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan , Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of African Affairs ,discussed US-African relations under the Trump Administration, and shared perspectives on a number of developments across the continent.

Giving an over view of the recent African tour of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Ambassador Sullivan who was part of the delegation, said much of the focus was on strengthening trade and development relationships, strengthening regional security, including counter-terrorism cooperation, a focus on good governance and democratic values, and the relationship on economic developments and building resilience in communities to avoid the extremist ideology.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was the first stop of the tour, Secretary Tillerson and AU Chairperson Moussa Faki reaffirmed the commitment to the shared goal of a stable and prosperous Africa. Secretary Tillerson held talks with Ethiopian government officials on human rights, the need to open political space, and the ongoing political transition, Ambassador Sullivan said.

In Djibouti, there were discussion on the situation at the container port, investment climate, and security issues. In Kenya, Secretary Tillerson congratulated President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga on the statesmanship on display as they seek to move the country forward. There were discussions on hot spots like South Sudan and Somalia with Kenyan government officials. A highlight of the Kenya lap of the trip was the meeting with survivors of the 1998 Embassy bombing, and laying of a wreath at the site of the former Embassy where the bombing took place, Ambassador Sullivan disclosed. Secretary Tillerson also had meetings with President Buhari in Nigeria, and Idriss Derby in Chad to round up the tour.

On what the trip did in restoring confidence on US-Africa ties after controversial statements attributed to President Trump, a few months before the trip, the State Department Officials said AU Chairperson Moussa Faki summed it best when he said the focus was on the future and not the past. U.S -African relations are very unique in their own way the Officials said. The departure of Secretary Tillerson will be no effect to engagements taken, Ambassador Sullivan added.

Both Officials fielded questions on immigration, China in Africa, engagement with the African diaspora, the political situation in Cameroon, South Sudan, Guinea and Zimbabwe amongst others.

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Masisi to Lead Botswana as Khama Steps Down After a Decade
March 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
  • Reducing diamond dependence among new president’s challenges
  • Masisi is ‘safe pair of hands,’ economist Jefferis says
 
 
Ian Khama, left, shakes hands with Mokgweetsi Masisi. Phoographer: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

Ian Khama, left, shakes hands with Mokgweetsi Masisi. Phoographer: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

Ian Khama, a former army general who’s led Botswana for the past decade, will step down on Sunday, leaving his deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi in charge of the world’s second-biggest diamond producer until next year’s elections.

 While Masisi, 55, will inherit one of Africa’s wealthiest and best-governed nations, he’ll still have his hands full reducing the economy’s dependence on diamonds, creating jobs for the almost one in five workers who are unemployed and wooing more foreign investment. Aside from gems the country has little other than tourism to generate foreign exchange.
 “A safe pair of hands” is how economist Keith Jefferis, a former deputy central bank governor, describes Masisi. He expects him to push changes the economy needs, including doing more to integrate it into regional and global markets.
 “It will be essential to re-establish much better public-finance discipline,” Jefferis said. “The quality of public financial management has deteriorated over many years, with poor spending decisions and an increasing level of waste and inefficiency.”
 Trained Teacher

Masisi trained as a teacher and worked as an education project officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund for eight years before quitting in 2003 to enter politics. He was appointed assistant minister for presidential affairs and public administration after being elected as a lawmaker in October 2009 and given the same ministerial portfolio in 2011. Khama named Masisi minister of education and skills development in 2014, a portfolio he retained when he became vice president that year.

“He is a jack-of-all-trades and is experienced in numerous areas,” said Leonard Sesa, a political scientist at the University of Botswana. “He will be the type of president who assigns someone something, then monitors them very closely because he knows exactly what the output should be.”

Botswana law restricts the president to serving two five-year terms, and provides for the vice president to automatically fill the post should it become vacant. The National Assembly will elect a new president after elections scheduled for October next year. Khama also took office a year before elections in 2009.

Lack of Jobs

The Botswana Democratic Party, which has ruled since the southern African nation gained independence from the U.K in 1966, is likely to name Masisi as its presidential candidate. While the party’s share of the vote slid to the lowest level since it took power in the last elections in 2014 amid voter disenchantment over the quality of state services and a lack of jobs, it’s still expected to retain its majority.

The son of Botswana’s first post-independence president, Khama, 65, angered several of his fellow African leaders, including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Congo’s Joseph Kabila, when he publicly berated them for overstaying their welcome.

His administration has also sniped at U.S. President Donald Trump for making derogatory remarks about African nations and the UN Security Council for not doing enough to end the war in Syria.

Read more about Botswana’s unorthodox approach toward diplomacy.

Khama is likely to continue wielding influence after he steps down, according to Sesa.

“Khama appointed Masisi his deputy and trusts him completely,” Sesa said. “They both have made statements indicating that there has been joint planning for Khama’s retirement. I expect to see Masisi award Khama some type of national assignment once he is retired. There’s clearly mutual understanding there about working together.”

*Bloomberg

 
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Six African referees chosen for 2018 World Cup
March 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
Bakary Papa Gassama from Gambia will officiate at the world cup in Russia

Bakary Papa Gassama from Gambia will officiate at the world cup in Russia

Fifa has chosen six African officials for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it was revealed on Thursday.

In addition there will also be 10 assistant referees from Africa.

The referees and the assistants make up a total of 99 officials selected for the tournament.

The world governing body also announced that video assistant referees (VAR) will be chosen from the pool of officials.

VAR, which has caused controversy in Europe, will be used for the first time at a World Cup when the tournament starts on 14 June.

The officials, chosen from 46 countries, will attend a two-week seminar at the Italian Football Association’s base in Coverciano next month.

The African referees are: Mehdi Abid Charef from Algeria, Malang Diedhiou of Senegal, Bakary Papa Gassama from The Gambia, Gehad Grisha from Egypt, Janny Sikazwe from Zambia, and Ethiopian Bamlak Tessema Weyesa.

Europe will be represented by referees from Germany, Turkey, Russia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Serbia, Italy, Slovenia and France.

Asia will have six as will north and South America and two from Oceania.

 *BBC
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MINING INDUSTRY SUBMITS MINING CODE PROPOSAL TO DRC GOVERNMENT
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Congo's Kabila

Congo’s Kabila

Kinshasa, DRC, 29 March 2018  –  Mining industry representatives* in the Democratic Republic of Congo have submitted a formal proposal to the country’s Ministry of Mines that is designed to address concerns about the recently revised mining code as well as the government’s revenue needs.

Among other things, it proposes linking a sliding scale of royalty rates to the prices of the key commodities, which industry representatives believe would be a more effective mechanism than the windfall tax introduced in the new code and at current prices would immediately give the government a higher share of revenues than what is provided in the new code.  It also deals with stability arrangements, state guarantees and mining conventions.

Along with the stability afforded to convention holders, enshrined in the 2002 mining code is a 10 year stability clause which provides that the holders of mining and exploration titles will continue to be governed by the terms of the 2002 mining code for such period in the event of the implementation of any new law.

Article 276:
“The State guarantees that the provisions of the present Code can only be modified if, and only if, this Code itself is the subject of a legislative amendment adopted by Parliament.

The rights attached to or deriving from an exploration licence or mining exploitation licence granted and valid on the date of the enactment of such a legislative modification, as well as the rights relating to or deriving from the exploitation licence subsequently granted by virtue of such an exploration licence, including among others, the tax, customs and exchange regimes set forth in this Code, remain acquired and inviolable for a ten-year period from the date of:

  1. the entry into force of the legislative modification for the valid exploitation licences existing as of that date;
  2. the granting of the exploitation licence subsequently granted by virtue of a valid exploration licence existing on the date of entry into force of the legislative modification.”

However, the proposal accepts 76% of the articles in the 2018 code and suggests changes to the rest only to ensure the effectiveness and legality of the code.  The mining industry representatives believe these changes will resolve issues with the code and contractual relationships while giving the DRC and its people increased participation in the proceeds of mining.

* Issued on behalf of members of the DRC mining industry representing more than 85% of the DRC’s copper, cobalt and gold production and most significant development projects: Randgold Resources, Glencore, Ivanhoe Mines, Gold Mountain International/ Zijin Mining Group, MMG Limited, Crystal River Global Ltd and China Molybdenum Co, Ltd (CMOC), AngloGold Ashanti.

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African leaders have created the world’s largest free trade area since the WTO—here’s its potential
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

 

By Landry Signé*

Free movement(Reuters/Feisal Omar/File Photo)

Free movement (Reuters/Feisal Omar/File Photo)

African leaders have just signed a framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization.

The free trade area aims to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. By 2030 the market size is expected to include 1.7 billion people with over $6.7 trillion of cumulative consumer and business spending—that’s if all African countries have joined the free trade area by then. Ten countries, including Nigeria, have yet to sign up.

The goal is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.

Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022.  The agreement has the potential to deliver a great deal for countries on the continent. The hope is that the trade deal will trigger a virtuous cycle of more intra African trade, which in turn will drive the structural transformation of economies – the transition from low productivity and labour intensive activities to higher productivity and skills intensive industrial and service activities—which in turn will produce better paid jobs and make an impact on poverty.

But signing the agreement is only the beginning. For it to come into force, 22 countries must ratify it. Their national legislative bodies must approve and sanction the framework formally, showing full commitment to its implementation. Niger president Issoufou Mahamadou, who has been championing the process, aims to have the ratification process completed by January 2019.

Cause and effect

Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022. Better market access creates economies of scale. Combined with appropriate industrial policies, this contributes to a diversified industrial sector and growth in manufacturing value added.

Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and likely to benefit from it the most. Manufacturing represents only about 10% of total GDP in Africa on average. This falls well below other developing regions. A successful continental free trade area could reduce this gap. And a bigger manufacturing sector will mean more well-paid jobs, especially for young people. This in turn will help poverty alleviation.

Industrial development, and with it, more jobs, is desperately needed in Africa. Industry represents one-quarter to one-third of total job creation in other regions of the world. And a young person in Africa is twice as likely to be unemployed when he or she becomes an adult. This is a particularly stressful situation given that over 70% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is below age 30.

In addition, 70% of Africa’s youth live on less than $2 per day.

The continental free trade area is expected to offer substantial opportunities for industrialization, diversification, and high-skilled employment in Africa.

The single continental market will offer the opportunity to accelerate the manufacture and intra-African trade of value-added products, moving from commodity based economies and exports to economic diversification and high-value exports.

But, to increase the impact of the trade deal, industrial policies must be put in place. These must focus on productivity, competition, diversification, and economic complexity.

In other words, governments must create enabling conditions to ensure that productivity is raised to international competitiveness standards. The goal must be to ensure that the products manufactured in African countries are competitively traded on the continent and abroad, and to diversify the range and sophistication of products and services.Drivers of manufacturing

Data shows that the most economically diverse countries are also the most successful.

In fact, diversification is critical as “countries that are able to sustain a diverse range of productive know-how, including sophisticated, unique know-how, are able to produce a wide diversity of goods, including complex products that few other countries can make.

Policymakers should favor the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent. Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and are likely to benefit from it the most. These countries will find a large continental market for their manufactured products. They will also use their know-how and dense industrial landscape to develop innovative products and respond to market demand.

But the agreement on its own won’t deliver results. Governments must put in place policies that drive industrial development, particularly manufacturing. Five key ones stand out:

Human capital: A strong manufacturing sector needs capable, healthy, and skilled workers. Policymakers should adjust curriculum to ensure that skills are adapted to the market. And there must be a special focus on young people. Curriculum must focus on skills and building capacity for entrepreneurship and self-employment. This should involve business training at an early age and skills upgrading at an advanced one. This should go hand in hand with promoting science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and mathematics as well as vocational and on-the-job training.

Policymakers should also favour the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent.

Cost: Policymakers must bring down the cost of doing business. The barriers include energy, access to roads and ports, security, financing, bureaucratic restrictions, corruption, dispute settlement and property rights.

Supply network: Industries are more likely to evolve if competitive networks exist. Policymakers should ease trade restrictions and integrate regional trade networks. In particular, barriers for small and medium-size businesses should be lifted.

Domestic demand: Policymakers should offer tax incentives to firms to unlock job creation, and to increase individual and household incomes. Higher purchasing power for households will increase the size of the domestic market.

Resources: Manufacturing requires heavy investment. This should be driven by the private sector. Policymakers should facilitate access to finance, especially for small and medium enterprises. And to attract foreign direct investment, policymakers should address perceptions of poor risk perception. This invariably scares off potential investors or sets excessive returns expectations.
Increased productivity

The continental free trade area facilitates industrialization by creating a continental market, unlocking manufacturing potential and bolstering an international negotiation bloc.

Finally, the continental free trade area will also provide African leaders with a greater negotiating power to eliminate barriers to exporting. This will help prevent agreements with other countries, and trading blocs, that are likely to hurt exports and industrial development.

*Quartz

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PRESS RELEASE Siemens creates opportunities for digitalization skills development across Africa
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
44% of all work activities in Ethiopia are susceptible to automation, as are 46% in Nigeria, 52% in Kenya and 41% in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 27, 2018/ —

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to revolutionize the job market and African industry must adapt to survive
  • Siemens aims to help accelerate digitalization skills and empower those who will be leading the change
  • State-of-the-art automation equipment donated to engineering faculties in five African markets

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is having a disruptive effect on economies and the development of digital skills is vital. There is an opportunity, especially in Africa, to embrace new and exponential technologies combined with human talent to accelerate industrialization and drive economic growth.

Siemens creates opportunities for digitalization skills development across Africa

Siemens creates opportunities for digitalization skills development across Africa

According to The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa Report , release by the World Economic Forum (WEF), it is predicted that 44% of all work activities in Ethiopia are susceptible to automation, as are 46% in Nigeria, 52% in Kenya and 41% in South Africa.

With this in mind, Siemens (www.Siemens.com) is handing over equipment specifically related to industrial automation that enables integrated engineering to 13 engineering faculties at universities in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa. This is part of the company’s commitment to sustainable skills development across the continent. The value of the equipment is close to $400 000.

Data collected by WEF  in key African markets shows employers across the region identify inadequately skilled workforces as a major constraint to their businesses, including 41% of all firms in Tanzania, 30% in Kenya, 9% in South Africa and 6% in Nigeria. This pattern may get worse in the future. In South Africa alone, 39% of core skills required across occupations will be wholly different by 2020.

“The uneven development of the past can only be overcome with locally engineered solutions,” says Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa. “In an African context, disruptive technology can be seen as an opportunity to leapfrog into the best and most advanced technologies, but this is only possible with access to the right training and equipment.”

Siemens will continue its commitment to Africa and offer long-term support to beneficiaries by ensuring that students are able to train on the most advanced technology available. This will ensure graduates, and therefore the emerging workforce, have the skills necessary to effectively lead large-scale digitalization across the continent, resulting in long-term benefits to economic growth.

Siemens firmly believes the best way for African markets to benefit from the digital revolution is to combine skills training and improved / new infrastructure.

Says Dall’Omo; “Convergence of man and machine intelligence will enable a new era of speed, flexibility, efficiency and connectivity in the 21st century. The conversation about man vs machine is not an either-or scenario. Ongoing education and training has a positive effect for both business and society. A strong pipeline of talent with the relevant skills and knowledge is beneficial to governments and businesses, while young people advance into jobs and careers with increased economic opportunity if they have the right skills.”

Factory automation and electrical engineering equipment donations have been made to the following institutions:

  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  • Dar-Es-Salaam Institute of Technology, Tanzania
  • Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT), Kenya
  • And nine Universities and Colleges across South Africa

“Our commitment to skills development and our relationships with these institutions goes beyond just this donation,” adds Dall’Omo. “We invest for the long-term and believe that by playing an active role in skills development, locally engineered solutions could catalyze the re-industrialization of the economy and trigger growth on an unprecedented scale.”

The company has a unique understanding of the challenges faced across the African continent, and has proved to be a reliable partner from grassroots level, right through to corporate and government level.

Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich) (www.Siemens.com) is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 165 years. The company is active in more than 200 countries, focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of efficient power generation and power transmission solutions and a pioneer in infrastructure solutions as well as automation, drive and software solutions for industry. The company is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment – such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging systems – and a leader in laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT. In fiscal 2016, which ended on September 30, 2016, Siemens generated revenue of €79.6 billion and net income of €5.6 billion. At the end of September 2016, the company had around 351,000 employees worldwide. Further information is available on the Internet at www.Siemens.com.

This document contains statements related to our future business and financial performance and future events or developments involving Siemens that may constitute forward-looking statements. These statements may be identified by words such as “expects,” “looks forward to,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” …

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Botswana president steps down
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Botswana's President Seretse Ian Khama waves to the crowd as he leaves after a rally in his village Serowe on March 27, 2018, before officially stepping down on March 31 and handing power to his vice-president on April 1. / AFP PHOTO / MONIRUL BHUIYAN

Botswana’s President Seretse Ian Khama waves to the crowd as he leaves after a rally in his village Serowe on March 27, 2018, before officially stepping down on March 31 and handing power to his vice-president on April 1. / AFP PHOTO / MONIRUL BHUIYAN

President Ian Khama of Botswana this week wrapped up a national “farewell tour” before he stands down on Saturday in a power transfer designed to stress his statesmanship and the country’s stability.

Khama has visited all of Botswana’s 57 constituencies since December, bidding a long goodbye to a population of just 2.2 million after serving the constitutional maximum of 10 years in office.

He will be succeeded by Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, a full 18 months before elections.

Khama’s two terms in power have been defined by his country’s rapid development thanks to lucrative diamond and beef exports and by a reputation for good governance.

He has also become renowned for straight talking — breaking with diplomatic convention to criticise leaders including US President Donald Trump and then-president Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday, his tour finished in his ancestral village of Serowe in the east of the country, with a day of songs, poems, gifts, ululation and pleading for him to remain in office.

Thousands of jubilant villagers dressed in blue, white and black, gathered in a kgotla, a traditional courtyard, to hear Khama speak.

“I was a soldier, I didn’t have interest to join politics, I had future plans, away from politics,” he told the crowd, adding that his predecessor Festus Mogae had to persuade him to take over in 2008.

– Son of independence leader –

Khama, 65, has cultivated a down-to-earth image — despite his father Seretse Khama serving from 1966 to 1980 as Botswana’s first president after independence from Britain.

Edna Monyena, a village elder in her 80s, lavished praise on the outgoing president, telling him that he was “an honest man, a straightforward man” who showed “real love”.

Many elderly female villagers wore blue dresses printed with portraits of Khama’s father, and some used cow bones as percussion instruments as they stood up to sing and dance.

Khama was showered with gifts including a 4×4 truck, 143 cows, hundreds of chickens, over 415,000 pula ($44,000), and a fully-equipped luxury caravan that his brother Tshekedi dubbed a “mobile state house”.

The avid conservationist also received a framed picture of a rhino.

“I wanted him to be 50 years more in office, I want him to work until the Almighty calls him,” unemployed Sadie Moleta, 23, told AFP in Serowe, where Khama is a chief of the Bangwato tribe.

Khama, a former pilot and military chief, demonstrated his outspoken streak when he recently accused Trump of promoting policies that encourage poaching, and summoning the US envoy over Trump’s alleged slur against African countries in January.

Khama called on Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to step down well before the nonagenarian was ousted, and his government has also urged Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila to resign after his term expired in December 2016.

The Botswana leader’s on-schedule departure has made a public display of obeying the constitutional term limit.

But his own record in office has not been without its critics, who accuse him of an autocratic leadership style.

He led the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to landslide victories in two elections, although the party won less than 50 percent for the first time in the 2014 vote.

– Uneven legacy? –

Often seen as one of Africa’s success stories, Botswana has recorded rising unemployment since 2009 as diamond prices fell.

The drop in revenue forced Khama to halt many planned investments in recent years.

“Internationally, he positioned himself as a moral leader in the region, stepping down as an example of a leader who respects laws and traditions — and inviting both President Kabila and Mugabe to respect democracy and the rule of law,” Matteo Vidiri, a BMI Research analyst, told AFP.

“(But) a slowing economy and increasing public discontent has damaged the narrative of Botswana’s ‘special character’, of a country being able to escape the ‘resource curse’.”

The opposition blames Khama for creating a society of “beggars”.

“He killed the spirit of self-reliance creating dependency through handouts,” Kesitegile Gobotswang, deputy president of the Botswana Congress Party, told AFP.

“The economy shed jobs under his leadership.”

Khama, who is unmarried, was born in Britain as his father married white British woman Ruth Williams — a mixed-race partnership that caused widespread shock in Africa and Britain.

Incoming president Masisi, 55, will be inaugurated on Sunday.

*AFP.

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“Let Africa evolve” says Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the Africa CEO forum
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
The President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and former President of Nigeria_ Olusegun Obasanjo

The President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and former President of Nigeria_ Olusegun Obasanjo

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, 27th March 2018, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/-  Economic recovery and institution building are the challenges faced by all African countries today.

During a panel discussion organised by the Africa CEO Forum around the theme,

When Leaders make History, the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, shared their experiences on the sustainable and inclusive growth of Africa in general and their own countries in particular.
 
According to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Africa’s problem is “the failure of leadership”. President Mnangagwa continued, saying, “Geographically, my country is far from Nigeria but that did not stop Nigeria from helping us when we needed it. It is this vision that we African leaders should share: mutual aid. Africa needs to learn how to manage its own problems, and this starts with the balance between leadership and institutions“. He believes that the executive, the legislature and the judiciary should be independent. Each must perform its mission freely and transparently, but play a complementary role.
 
The sustainable and inclusive growth sought by African countries is only possible if civil society and elected politicians operate without interference. “We have civilian organisations that come to our countries to support our people by building schools and health centres. It’s their role and we welcome that. What we do not accept is that they interfere in our politics. You cannot come from outside and tell us who we need to put at the head of our country, think our politics for us. We must let Africa evolve,” he said.
 
Zimbabwe has begun its economic recovery through the implementation of an agrarian reform process that enabled 367 families to gain access to land.
 
We are attempting to evaluate the situation before launching reforms. But we have started land redistribution. This was one of the major problems that we had to solve in Zimbabwe. Today, we need a structure to fight famine and poverty. For now, we are giving our farmers the means to improve and increase production. The food shortage will be alleviated through this system,” said President Mnangagwa, who also announced that women and young people will be given a prominent place in national decision-making. 
In his speech, Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, said that, in the fight against corruption, there was one principle to be respected: that of having strong institutions and effective leadership. “It’s good to have a law that sets up a strong institution. But you have to have the men who go with them, effective people. If not, we will not complete our mission. Our goals will never be achieved,” he said.
Cost-effective exports and affirmative action for women and young people will also contribute to the success of this highly awaited economic recovery.
 
The panel discussion ended on these words, after which the Jeune Afrique Media Group’s Publication Director, Marwane Ben Yhamed, closed the sixth edition of the Africa CEO forum.
The AFRICA CEO FORUM is organized by Jeune Afrique Media Group, the publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and by rainbow unlimited, a Swiss company specialized in event organization and economic promotion. With the success of its 2017 edition, which welcomed almost 1,200 business leaders from Africa and the world, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has established itself as the main international event for the African private sector to discuss the continent’s development in a highly professional environment ideal for business networking. The 2018 edition is co-hosted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC, part of the World Bank Group).
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‘You don’t lose, you learn’ – Mikel reacts to Nigeria’s setback
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Super Eagles ended their international break on a sour note, losing to Mladen Krstajic's men on Tuesday evening

The Super Eagles ended their international break on a sour note, losing to Mladen Krstajic’s men on Tuesday evening

John Obi Mikel has taken positives from Nigeria’s 2-0 loss to Serbia in their pre-World Cup friendly encounter, played at the Hive Stadium, London.

A second-half brace from Fulham striker Alexsandar Mitrovic ended the Super Eagles’ six-match unbeaten run.

Gernot Rohr’s side had started their World Cup preparation on a positive run, handing a surprise defeat to Argentina in November before Victor Moses’ penalty on Friday saw them add Poland to the list.

However, on Tuesday evening, they went down 2-0 to the Serbians; a result their skipper – who have only featured against in November’s tie against Jorge Sampaoli’s men and missed March’s games due to work permit issues at his China base – seems unfazed about as he is rather concerned about the lessons learnt.

“You don’t lose, you learn,” Mikel tweeted.

“Looking forward to being back on the pitch for our remaining preparation games.”

*Goal

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Ghanaians protest over expanded military co-operation deal with U.S.
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Kwasi Kpodo*

ACCRA (Reuters) – Thousands of people protested in Ghana’s capital Accra on Wednesday against the expansion of its defense cooperation with the United States, in a rare public display of opposition to the growing foreign military presence in West Africa.

Demonstrators blowing vuvuzelas and beating drums filled Accra’s business district, holding placards criticizing a new deal with Washington that they say threatens Ghana’s sovereignty.

“As a right-thinking citizen, I am here to fight for my country. I am against selling our peace and security for $20 million,” said Gifty Yankson, a 49-year-old trader.

“They (the American military) become a curse everywhere they are, and I am not ready to mortgage my security,” Yankson said.

Police estimated the crowd size at about 3,500 protesters. While officers in riot gear were present, no violence was reported.

International powers including the United States and France are looking to extend their presence in the remote Sahel region in particular, where al Qaeda and Islamic State militants have gained a strong foothold in recent years.

But Washington is struggling to mend its image in Africa, which was damaged by reports President Donald Trump described African nations as “shithole countries” in a discussion on immigration. The White House later denied he used that language.

Under the deal approved by Ghana’s parliament last week, the United States will invest around $20 million in training and equipment for the Ghanaian military this year. Opposition lawmakers boycotted the parliamentary vote.

In return, the U.S. military will be allowed to deploy troops and import military equipment tax-free, use an airport runway that meets U.S. standards, and have free access to Ghana’s radio spectrum.

Ghana has had a long-standing military and trade ties with the United States, but many say the latest agreement was a step too far.

Responding to local press reports concerning the deal, the U.S. Embassy in Accra underscored in a statement last week that it had no plans to establish a military base in Ghana.

It said the existing 20-year-old cooperation agreement “does not cover the current range and volume of bilateral exercises and assistance.”

Four elite U.S. soldiers were killed in Niger alongside local troops in an Islamist ambush in October, sparking a fierce debate back home about covert U.S. actions in West Africa.

The United States has about 7,200 U.S. Defense Department personnel, including soldiers, stationed in Africa. Over half of those are stationed at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, with the remaining personnel scattered across 32 other smaller locations.

*Reuters

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Ghana’s seat of government renamed Jubilee House on Akufo-Addo’s birthday
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President of the Republic of Ghana Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo has renamed the seat of government – Flagstaff House – to Jubilee House.

The change was announced to the Presidential press corps by the Communications director at the Presidency Eugene Arhin.

“The name of the seat of government is now Jubilee House,” Mr. Arhin noted in his communication.

The change of name coincides with President Akufo-Addo’s birthday which falls today Thursday March 29. Mr. Akufo-Addo turns 74 today winning power at age 72.

The Flagstaff House was reconstructed and inaugurated by the government of John Agyekum Kufuor with the name Golden Jubilee House in November 2008 when construction was about 70%–80% completed.

In January 2009, the incoming government of President Mills moved the office of the president back to the Osu Castle and later changed the sign in front of the building back to its original name claiming that the previous government had not used a Legislative Instrument to effect the change as required by law.

The Mills government was in turn criticized that the name Flagstaff House which was given to the building by the British Gold Coast government glorifies Ghana’s Gold Coast past.

The seat of government was moved back to Flagstaff House in January 2013. The Mahama government that followed the late Mills maintained the name Flagstaff House.

The NPP, however, showed its discomfort with the name.

Below is an executive notice signed by President Akufo-Addo:

 

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Chad’s leader plots to stay until 2033
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Idriss Deby came to power in 1990

Idriss Deby came to power in 1990

President Idriss Deby is set to govern Chad until 2033 if a recommendation made by his party is approved, news agency Reuters reports.

A report issued by allied politicians, business leaders and traditional chiefs has proposed a presidential term limit for the country’s leaders from 2021.

The proposed changes include a six-year rather than five-year presidential term, limited to a maximum of two terms.

Mr Deby, who came to power in 1990, will be 81 by the time his final terms ends.

The opposition has dismissed the proposed changes as a plot to create a monarchy.

Chad, an ally of Western nations in the fight against Islamist militants in West and Central Africa, has faced strikes and protests in recent months over economic woes caused by low prices for its chief export, oil.

*BBC

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“Respect the rules!” says Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana

Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, 26th March 2018, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The theme “Together, let’s build a sustainable future” is one that the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, and Paul Polman, CEO of the Unilever Group, adopted during an usual and unprecedented panel discussion.

President Nana Akufo-Addo said that everyone, both the private and public sectors, must respect the rules. “Respect the rules by refraining from tax evasion and tax havens. Insist on the value added and put in place an environment conducive to macroeconomic stability in our countries,” he suggested.
President Akufo-Addo believes that the private and public sectors must fight corruption, respect the law and practice fiscal discipline. “The partnerships we conclude must also lead to a change of attitude. We must unleash our potential. Africa has talent which we must harness so as to avoid the brain drain,” he said, adding that his greatest pride during his term would be to see all children in his country have access to education.
Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman, expressed the willingness of the private sector to support  governments in building
‘sustainable future‘.
According to him, one of the conditions for this is, among others, the fight against poverty and hunger, stating that famine and hunger promote instability in countries because people eventually revolt and increasingly resort to terrorism to make themselves heard. This instability is therefore not conducive to business development which is essential for job creation for young people and the creation of wealth. “If you treat people well in the value chain, they will be indebted to you,” said Polman.
He said the private sector must follow governments’ lead by supporting their development efforts. “We must tackle challenges and work for Africa. We must start with the fight against corruption.”
Polman also suggested that Africans turn to private sector sources of finance.
The AFRICA CEO FORUM is organized by Jeune Afrique Media Group, the publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and by rainbow unlimited, a Swiss company specialized in event organization and economic promotion. With the success of its 2017 edition, which welcomed almost 1,200 business leaders from Africa and the world, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has established itself as the main international event for the African private sector to discuss the continent’s development in a highly professional environment ideal for business networking. The 2018 edition is co-hosted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC, part of the World Bank Group).
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TRUMP TO END SPECIAL STATUS FOR LIBERIAN IMMIGRANTS IN US
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
President George Weah shakes hand with US Ambassador Christine Elder Photo Credit: Executive Mansion Photo

President George Weah shakes hand with US Ambassador Christine Elder
Photo Credit: Executive Mansion Photo

Trump has pursued a crackdown on legal and illegal immigration since becoming president.WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to special legal status for certain immigrants from Liberia, including some who have lived in the United States for decades, citing improved conditions in the West African country.

The special status would end on 31 March, 2019.

“Liberia is no longer experiencing armed conflict and has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance,” according to a memorandum signed by Trump and released by the White House.

Trump has pursued a crackdown on legal and illegal immigration since becoming president.

Some Liberians have been eligible for either Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure since March 1991 due to civil wars, fragile political and economic conditions and an Ebola virus outbreak in 2014, the memorandum said.

“Liberia has also concluded reconstruction from prior conflicts, which has contributed significantly to an environment that is able to handle adequately the return of its nationals,” Trump said.

“The 2014 outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease caused a tragic loss of life and economic damage to the country, but Liberia has made tremendous progress in its ability to diagnose and contain future outbreaks of the disease,” he said.

A 12-month “wind-down” period starting 31 March, 2018, would allow the Liberian government to prepare to re-integrate returning citizens and give time for affected Liberians to “make necessary arrangements,” according to the memorandum, which was addressed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The Liberian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. DHS officials did not immediately respond to a request seeking numbers of those who will be affected.

Trump previously included three other African countries — Chad, Somalia and Libya — among several whose citizens were blocked from entering the United States.

African politicians and diplomats blasted Trump in January after he was reported to have used vulgar language to describe African countries and Haiti, with some calling him a racist. Trump later denied making the remark.

In early January, the administration announced that around 200,000 Salvadorans would lose their Temporary Protected Status in September, 2019. Some 59,000 Haitians and 5,300 Nicaraguans who are in the program would also lose their status next year, while TPS for some 57,000 Hondurans expires 5 July, 2018.

*Reuters

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“Young people are not just the future of Nigeria. They are Nigeria today.”
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

Increasing youth representation in Nigeria’s closed political system will be an uphill battle, but Not Too Young To Run activists are ready to fight.

BY ORJI SUNDAY*

Activists call on President Buhari to assent the Not Too Young To Run bill. Credit: Chioma Agwuegbo.

Activists call on President Buhari to assent the Not Too Young To Run bill. Credit: Chioma Agwuegbo.

Near the heart of government in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, a defiant Chioma Agwuegbo thrusts her placard into the air. Her voice adds to the swelling chants coming from demonstrators all around her.

After a while, she wriggles to the front of the hundreds-strong crowd assembled near the National Assembly and Presidential Villa at Aso Rock. With her fellow protesters occasionally echoing her words and phrases in affirmation, Agwuegbo loudly articulates the young protesters’ demand that President Muhammadu Buhari sign a new youth bill into law.

“We have been on this journey for 18 months,” she declares to her fellow activists. “We got the National Assembly to say yes to this bill. We got 35 states to say yes to this bill. We are on the final stretch to get the assent of Mr. President. That’s the reason why we are gathered here today.”

The “Not Too Young To Run” bill she is referring to would reduce constitutional age limits for various elected positions. Minimum ages would be reduced from 40 to 30 for the presidency, from 35 to 30 for governors, and from 30 to 25 for members of the House of Representatives.

Momentum behind this act is coming from Not Too Young To Run activists. Led by advocacy group YIAGA, this movement has been gathering steam in calling for greater youth participation in Nigerian politics since 2016.

According to Agwuegbo, the group wants to correct young people’s huge under-representation in politics. Nearly 70% of Nigeria’s population of 180 million people are aged below 35, yet they are virtually nowhere to be seen in the corridors of power.

According to Chikodiri Nwangwu at University of Nigeria’s department of political science, there are many factors behind the lack of youth representation. Age limits are one small piece of a big puzzle.

He notes that young Nigerians are less likely to vote than their older counterparts and suggests that the youth may be more likely to engage politically through less mainstream avenues. He also adds that apathy – built up in response to decades of government corruption and failed leadership – may also be behind some young Nigerians’ self-perpetuating disillusionment and detachment from traditional politics.

“Over the years, the youths have lost hope in the entire electoral process,” he says. “When they vote, they know it will not be reflected in the system. They decide to stay away instead of making a contribution to a system that mocks their efforts.”

Where did Nigeria’s young people go?

This set of factors has led to a situation in which Nigerians under the age of 35 are largely absent from government. But this was not always the case.

In the colonial era, young Nigerians led in the struggle for independence. As early as 1944, Nmandi Azikiwe, still in his 30s, founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroun (NCNC). Meanwhile, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Belawa, Almadu Bello and Samuel Akintola, amongst many others in their 20s and 30s, rose to prominence through their activism.

After independence in 1960, however, this trend began to dissipate. The golden era was not replaced with new young leaders, and by the 1980s, there were only a few politicians under 40. At the same time, youth movements calling for democracy and human rights were forcibly clamped down by the military regimes of the day.

When Nigeria returned to multi-party democracy in 1999, there was optimism that the new system would prove more inclusive. But while youths hoped to be at the new vanguard of political progress, they were more often drafted to serve as thugs and henchmen for the same older political class.

Young people’s significance in Nigerian politics diminished, and apathy grew. Today, the youngest member of the parliament at the national level is 43.

Taking on Nigeria’s political landscape

Agwuegbo and the Not Too Young To Run movement wants to turn this around and see more youths in parliament again. They believe that if young people were to run and win in the elections, they could foster a more inclusive politics from within. They could introduce new perspectives and spearhead much-needed innovation in Nigeria’s governance systems. With the 2019 elections on the horizon, Agwuegbo believes youth movements can help carry suitable candidates to office.

However, some analysts argue that the barriers may prove greater than the activists expect. Nwangwu, for example, suggests that young candidates will not get far unless there are more extensive changes to the broader electoral system and political culture too.

“This movement can make an impact but its impact is minimal,” he says. “Their activism may just slip into insignificance if there is no back up electoral reforms or if the monetary aspects of our politics are not resolved.”

Nwangwu emphasises that money plays a huge role in Nigerian politics and successful election campaigns.

“It’s one thing to be ambitious and it’s another thing to have the resources to bring your ambition to life,” he says. “Politics is extremely costly in Nigeria. At every stage in our politics, a whole lot of money is involved both at the local and national level. Most of these youths are recent graduates, unemployed or under-employed. They can barely take three square meals a day. ”

Political analyst Nwafor Justice also believes young hopefuls will find the political terrain hostile. Ethnic, regional and other divisions may make it difficult for candidates to attract young voters in a coherent way that cuts across these lines. Meanwhile, the existing political system is set up in the way that can make it difficult for new runners.

“The two major political parties would not open up the space for younger politicians to contest through their platform,” says Justice. “Unless the government introduces independent candidacy [allowing candidates to run without a party platform], the youths would not find a way around this.”

To really make an impact, Justice argues, young people need to create their own political party. This does not seem to be on the cards for now.

Many young Nigerians insist they are well-aware of the tough challenges they face going forwards. For some, these hurdles are simply too many and too high. But Agwuegbo and her fellow activists say it will take one step at a time. Getting the Not Too Young To Run bill signed into law is just one such step, but they say its progress shows the growing power young people have seized already.

“The successes we have recorded with the movement so far are historic in themselves because it shows the power of young people to change the nation and bring glory to Nigeria,” says Agwuegbo.

“We have proven that young people are not just the future of Nigeria. They are Nigeria today.”

* Source  African Arguments.Orji Sunday is a Nigerian journalist.

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Nigeria’s 2019 elections: The preparations, people and prospects
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

With less than a year to go, how are preparations going? Who is running? What will be the key issues?

BY IDAYAT HASSAN*

Campaigning in the Nigeria elections in 2015. Credit: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

Campaigning in the Nigeria elections in 2015. Credit: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

It is now less than a year before Nigeria’s critical general elections. In those polls, currently scheduled for 16 February and 2 March 2019, tens of millions of citizens will vote in what could be some of the country’s most fiercely fought contests yet.

How are preparations going? Who is running? What will be the key issues?

Preparations for the elections

Since Mahmood Yakubu took over as chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2015, the body has carried out over 167 elections. One was nullified in court. INEC has also undertaken several institutional reforms. This includes launching a new strategic plan, working on a youth engagement strategy, and reviewing its gender policy. It has promoted deserving staff and, in an unprecedented move, prosecuted officials found to have committed wrongdoing in the 2015 elections.

Ahead of 2019, the commission has set up a committee to review the voting process and transmission of tallies. For the first time since the return to democracy in 1999, INEC is also conducting continuous voter registration.

Despite these giant strides, however, the body is facing some challenges.

Because of delays caused by a dispute between the president and Senate, for example, INEC still only has 30 out of 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners, the key officials responsible for organising elections at the state level. Continuous voter registration, which opened in 2016, has also experienced glitches, with some citizens complaining of being unable to register. This led INEC to recently deploy additional registration machines and increase the number of registration centres to 1,446 nationwide. Meanwhile, the cost of running the elections may also present a challenge. This is especially the case given that Nigeria has just exited a recession.

The commission has also been given additional headaches following last month’s local elections in Kano State. In the aftermath of that poll, a video emerged showing young children thumb-printing ballot papers. INEC did not oversee that election, but some claimed it had been responsible for registering the underage voters in the first place.

In response to this criticism, the commission set up a panel to probe the alleged underage voting and examine the nearly 5 million voters on the register in Kano. INEC has previously helped other countries in West Africa clean up their electoral registers, most recently ahead of Liberia’s run-off polls in December 2017.

Who is running?

In the 2015 elections, Nigeria had 40 registered political parties. Ahead of 2019, there are now 68, with 33 more being considered for registration.

The ones to beat this time around will be the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). This party was created ahead of 2015 through a merger of what were then the country’s four biggest opposition parties. Its growing ranks were further boosted when several figures from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in power at the time, crossed the floor.

In the election, the APC enjoyed an historic victory and ended the PDP’s political dominance, which had lasted since 1999. But since those heights, internal rivalries have come to the fore and prevented it from emerging as a cohesive force. The APC continues to run as an amalgam of the interests that created it in the first instance, with intra-party disputes emerging at both federal and state levels.

The incumbent President Buhari is the front runner to be the party’s flagbearer in 2019. However, aside from his mixed record in office, his advanced age of 75 and ill health could arise as an issue. Many are asking whether he will be fit to govern if re-elected, especially given that he spent several months of his first term receiving treatment in London for an undisclosed ailment.

The main opposition PDP has faced similar infighting to the APC since 2015. After the election, the party faced a bitter legal battle over the leadership of the party with Ahmed Makarfi eventually confirmed as the party chair. Since then, the PDP has held a national convention in which new officials were elected. Some regions were marginalised, however, and the party has yet to calm concerns about the state of its internal democracy or shed its reputation for corruption, which it developed over its 16 years in office.

Several candidates are lining up to bid to be the PDP’s presidential nominee. They include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who recently crossed over from the APC. Often described as a serial defector, Atiku has commenced consultations and is regularly voicing his opinions on policy matters. At 71, his age and unproven corruption allegations remains the albatross around his neck. Other aspirants from the PDP include controversial governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and former governors of Kaduna and Jigawa, Ahmed Makarfi and Sule Lamido respectively.

Along with these two big parties, Nigeria could, for the first time, also see a powerful third party emerge in 2019. The most popular phrase in the country today is “Third Force” and various groupings are attempting to harness the appetite for an alternative to the APC and PDP.

30 opposition parties have joined forces under the banner of the Coalition for a New Nigeria (CNN). Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has helped set up the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM). And groups such as the Nigerian Intervention MovementRevive Nigeria and Emerging Leaders’ Summit are also trying to jostle for position. Regarding the presidency, the likes of motivational speaker Fela Durotoye, former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria Kingsley Moghalu, and founder of the online whistleblowing site Sahara Reporter Omoyele Sowore have all expressed their intention to challenge the main parties’ candidates.

At the same time, citizen-led groups are also making their voices heard. The Red Card Movement, led by former minister and #BringBackOurGirls campaigner Oby Ezekwesili, is calling for the APC and PDP to be “sent off”. Meanwhile, the Not Too Young To Run movement is demanding the inclusion of young people in the political space.

Unfortunately, there is less momentum behind efforts seeking to enhance the participation of women in politics. Less than 6% of Nigeria’s lawmakers are female, one of the lowest proportion in Africa, and while more marginal parties may make space for women and youth to lure voters, the same is likely to be less true of the big parties.

The issues that will determine the 2019 Nigeria elections

Insecurity

One of the biggest issues that will determine the 2019 general elections is insecurity, which is affecting communities across the country. Ongoing instability could affect the vote itself and will certainly be a big issue on the campaign trail.

On Boko Haram in the North East, the APC will claim to have successfully tackled the insurgency. The PDP and other opposition parties will argue against this and likely emphasise the dire humanitarian situation. The candidates may try to woo internally-displaced persons as the election nears.

Another matter will be the conflict between herders and farmers, which has arguably become Nigeria’s most pressing internal security threat. As hundreds have died in clashes over land disputes in a dozen states, the Buhari administration has been criticised for its poor handling of the issue. The conflict – and lack of accountability for heinous crimes – predates the APC’s rule, but its severity and death toll have escalated in recent years.

In the South East, Biafra separatists continue to call for independence. The most prominent voice in this is the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), whose leader Nnamdi Kanu has been missing for several months. The group has vowed that no election will take place in the south east until a referendum on secession is called.

Finally, gang violence has resulted in several deaths recently, particularly in the Niger Delta and South-South region. Worrying, these groups are often instrumentalised by politicians around elections.

The economy

The economy will be another crucial issue. Nigeria is still suffering from a fuel scarcity, while the economic downturn continues. When Buhari came into office, the price of dollar was around N170. Today that figure is closer to N360.

Nigeria exited its first recession in 25 years in the second quarter of 2017, but growth remains sluggish. The country continues to depend on oil, while un- and under-employment have increased notwithstanding the administration’s novel social intervention programmes (SIP).

Corruption

Buhari rode to victory in 2015 as the anti-corruption candidate, vowing to launch a war on graft. Corruption will once again be an important issue, but the incumbent will struggle to present himself as the same clean crusader this time around.

While Buhari has embarked on some anti-corruption measures, critics note that his allies have avoided prosecution. Various of his associates have been fingered in scams, such as his chief-of-staff Abba Kyari, while the president has been perceived to have targeted his opponents.

The uncoordinated approach taken by agencies in the fight against corruption have contributed to the fact that Nigeria has actually dropped 12 places from 136 to 148 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

Social media, fake new, misinformation and disinformation

As in politics and elections across the world, social media is set to play a major role in Nigeria’s 2019 campaign.

In the 2015 elections, hate speeches and misinformation spread far and wide, with Buhari targeted in particular. After the elections, incredible rumours and lies continued to abound, to the extent that there were even allegations that the man that eventually returned from London after prolonged illness was not in fact the real Buhari, but a cloned version from Sudan.

Ahead of the recently concluded Anambra governorship elections, we saw another example of how fast-spreading misinformation could almost skew a process. Rumours emerged on social media that soldiers had invaded schools in Ozobulu, Anambra State, and were forcefully injecting pupils with poisonous substances that cause monkey pox. This led to the shutdown of schools in Imo, Enugu, Abia, Anambra and Ebonyi state and even affected Rivers and Balyesa states. The false story was said to have been posted on the Facebook page of the IPOB, which had vowed to disrupt any elections in the region.

Nigeria’s social media space is generally highly susceptible from manipulation by influential individuals with vested interests and little sense of electoral ethics. They are ready to confuse or divide people along ethnic, religious or other lines to serve their own ends. In 2015, the PDP recruited Cambridge Analytica. In 2019, those with sufficient resources may again solicit the services of international PR firms with records of employing questionable methods.

 *Culled from African Arguments.Idayat Hassan  is director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), an Abuja-based policy advocacy and research organization with focus on deepening democracy and development in West Africa.

 

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Nelson Mandela’s golden hand casts sell for $10m in bitcoin
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
HULTON ARCHIVE Image caption Four casts of Nelson Mandela's hands were made by mining group Harmony Gold in 2002

HULTON ARCHIVE
Image caption
Four casts of Nelson Mandela’s hands were made by mining group Harmony Gold in 2002

Gold castings of the hands of South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela have been sold for $10m (£7m) in bitcoin.

Canadian crypto-currency exchange firm Arbitrade bought four casts from South African businessman Malcolm Duncan.

The firm said it planned to launch a global “Golden Hands of Nelson Mandela” tour to educate young people about the anti-apartheid icon’s life.

This is the first time artefacts of Mr Mandela have been sold in bitcoin.

Mr Mandela was jailed for 27 years for fighting white minority rule in South Africa.

He was released in 1990, and served as president from 1994 to 1999.

Mr Mandela died in 2013 at the age of 95. He had turned into a global brand, with businessmen and artists cashing in on his name.

Mr Duncan, who now lives in Canada, bought the casts from mining group Harmony Gold in 2002 for about $31,000.

Half of the money paid to Harmony Gold was meant to go to charity, but it remains unclear as to whether that happened, Bloomberg news agency reports.

Harmony said it had “supplied Mr Duncan with the necessary paperwork verifying the provenance as requested by his attorneys,” but declined to comment on what happened to the donation, Bloomberg reports.

Nelson Mandela's old prison cell on Robben IslandImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island

The casts, which weigh around 20lb (9kg), include Mr Mandela’s hand, palm and fist. They are part of a collection meant to mark the years the former president spent in prison on Robben Island.

The artefacts are believed to be the only ones left in the world.

The other sets of the collection were ordered to be destroyed by Mr Mandela, Mr Duncan told Bloomberg.

It was part of the former president’s attempt to control his copyright after a number of scandals, including forgery allegations, arose around the sale of art bearing his image and name.

Arbitrade has paid Mr Duncan a bitcoin deposit that has been converted to $50,000, and the rest is expected to be paid in quarterly instalments of at least $2m, Bloomberg reports.

“They take possession when I have the dollar amount in the bank, At two-and-a-quarter million at a time, they take one hand at a time,” Mr Duncan was quoted as saying.

Arbitrade is due to launch an initial coin offering and plans to mine its own crypto-currencies and trade others, Bloomberg reports.

The company’s chairman, Len Schutzman, told the news agency that it will back all its virtual currency with a percentage of physical metal, such as gold.

*BBC

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Ethiopian Airlines Launches Split Scimitar® Winglets in Northern Africa
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Rendering of an Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 with APB Split Scimitar Winglets (PRNewsfoto/Aviation Partners Boeing)

Rendering of an Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 with APB Split Scimitar Winglets (PRNewsfoto/Aviation Partners Boeing)

SEATTLEMarch 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) announced today that Ethiopian Airlines has become the first operator in Northern Africa of its latest Split Scimitar Winglet technology.  The first installation of the System was completed on March 20, 2018, at its MRO in Addis Ababa.  Ethiopian Airlines intends to install the Winglets on its fleet of Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft.  Aviation Partners’ latest Winglet design, the Split Scimitar Winglet, uses existing Blended Winglet technology but adds new aerodynamic Scimitar tips and a large ventral strake, further increasing the efficiency of the airplane.

“Ethiopian Airlines recognizes the importance of investing in their fleet and is taking steps to be the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly airline in Africa,” says Aviation Partners Boeing director of sales and marketing Christopher Stafford.  “With the installation of the Split Scimitar Winglet System, not only will Ethiopian Airlines show its environmental stewardship, but the fuel savings and additional payload on long haul routes will significantly improve the operating economics of the Boeing Next Generation 737-700 and 737-800 models.”

The Split Scimitar Winglet modification reduces Boeing Next-Generation 737 block fuel consumption by up to an additional 2.2% over the Blended Winglets alone.  The Split Scimitar Winglet System will reduce Ethiopian Airline’s annual fuel requirements by more than 275,000 liters per aircraft, and their carbon dioxide emissions by over 700 tonnes per aircraft per year.

“As the leading carrier in Africa, Ethiopian has always been spearheading the introduction of aviation technology into the continent. The planned installation of the Split Scimitar Winglets is yet another testimony to our technology leadership in Africa’s aviation industry,” says Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Ato Tewolde Gebremariam. “Currently, we operate 8 Boeing Next-Generation 737-700s and 16 Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 aircraft. Once these airplanes are fitted with the newest winglets and enter operation, we will benefit a lot in terms of fuel efficiency, which in turn will take our environmental protection efforts one step ahead.” 

Since launching the Boeing Next-Generation 737 Split Scimitar Winglet program, APB has taken orders for over 1,800 systems, and over 1,000 aircraft are now operating with the technology.  APB estimates that its products have reduced aircraft fuel consumption worldwide by over 8.0 billion gallons to-date thereby saving nearly 85.0 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Aviation Partners Boeing is a Seattle based joint venture of Aviation Partners, Inc. and The Boeing Company. www.aviationpartnersboeing.com

Ethiopian Airlines is largest and fastest growing airline on the African continent and wholly owned by the government of Ethiopia.  In its seventy plus years of operation, Ethiopian has become one of the continent’s leading carriers, unrivalled in efficiency and operational success. It is the first airline to introduce the ultra-modern Boeing 787-8 aircraft into Africa and also operates a mix of modern airplanes with an average fleet age of five years.

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Congo rejects foreign funding for long-delayed elections
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Congolese president Joseph Kabila casts his ballot in the country's presidential election at a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on Nov. 28, 2011.

Congolese president Joseph Kabila casts his ballot in the country’s presidential election at a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on Nov. 28, 2011.

Congo’s government says it will not take international funding for its long-delayed elections, calling it a decision to avoid foreign interference.

A statement issued Monday thanks all partners who announced election contributions, saying the government should find a way to direct the money toward projects in health, education and infrastructure upgrades.

President Joseph Kabila, whose mandate ended in December 2016, has said elections will be organized by the Congolese only. The opposition has accused him of trying to cling to power. Some protests have turned deadly.

The election commission has said the vote now will be in December.

The United States last month urged Congo to abandon the use of electronic voting to avoid any challenges to results. Monday’s statement, however, recommends continued public awareness about the machines.

*AP

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Free gift? China extends influence in Africa with $32M grant for regional HQ
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jenni Marsh*

The African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was also a gift from China. It cost $200 million to build and was handed over in 2012.

The African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was also a gift from China. It cost $200 million to build and was handed over in 2012.

(CNN)China raised eyebrows this month by announcing it will give the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) a $31.6 million grant to build a new headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

African, right, and Chinese workers, left, build railway track sections for the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line in Tsavo, Kenya.

African, right, and Chinese workers, left, build railway track sections for the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line in Tsavo, Kenya.

Accepting the grant, the president of ECOWAS Jean-Claude Brou thanked China, and confirmed the organization’s commitment to promoting future ECOWAS-China cooperation. A press release said that Mr Brou called this a mark of goodwill from China.

But critics questioned the Asian economic powerhouse’s motives for the donation, which positions it at the center of West African politics.
Earlier this year, a published report in the French daily, Le Monde, alleged that Beijing spied on the African Union through the computer systems it helped install. Citing anonymous sources, Le Monde reported that data was transferred from the AU systems in Ethiopia to its servers in Shanghai. China’s foreign ministry called the Le Monde report “groundless accusations.”  The AU called the report “baseless.”
 “People will interpret this as a symbolic expression of China’s growing presence in Africa,” says Ian Taylor, professor in international relations and African political economics at the University of St Andrews, in Scotland.

“But the real question is 60 years after independence (for most member states), why does ECOWAS think it’s acceptable for a foreign power to build its headquarters?”
ECOWAS and the Chinese Ministry for Foreign Affairs did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Why did ECOWAS accept?

ECOWAS was established in 1975 to foster economic integration and collective self-sufficiency in West Africa.
Its 15 member states include one of Africa’s biggest economies by GDP Nigeria, causing Taylor and others to ask why ECOWAS isn’t self-funding the facility. Had the members split the bill, it would have cost just over $2 million each.
Philip Olayoku, project manager at the Abuja-based Information Aid Network, says the official numbers are misleading and many countries in the grouping don’t have cash to spare for such projects.
“For me, reliance on GDP is the wrong way to determine how well a country’s economy is doing,” he says. Corruption in many West African governments, he explains, means “funds that are accrued for national growth are often not where they need to be,” impairing a country’s ability to contribute effectively to bodies such as ECOWAS.
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Ethiopia’s ruling coalition names new chairman, set to be PM
March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By ELIAS MESERET*

Dr Abiy Ahmed

Dr Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition named a chairman set to become the country’s new prime minister late Tuesday amid the latest state of emergency in Africa’s second most populous nation.

Abiy Ahmed is poised to take power, as the ruling coalition and its regional affiliates hold all parliament seats. A vote by lawmakers is expected on Wednesday.

The announcement followed months of the most severe anti-government protests in a quarter-century and the surprise decision by then-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn early this year to release prominent politicians, journalists and others from prison to free up political space.

But Hailemariam later announced his intention to resign and a new state of emergency was imposed in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.

Abiy is the first person from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, to hold the post of prime minister since the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991.

Ethiopians had eagerly awaited news of their new leader for days. This will be the third prime minister since the current ruling coalition came to power close to 30 years ago after overthrowing the Derg military regime by force.

Many hoped the development would bring calm after the months of protests demanding wider freedoms.

“I believe that the Oromia region president, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, is the answer to Ethiopia’s youths’ questions,” Yonas Alemayehu, an activist in the restive Oromia region, told The Associated Press. The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group among Ethiopia’s population of 100 million, have long felt marginalized.

The outgoing prime minister at times had been labeled as weak and under the shadow of former strongman Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012. Others argued that Hailemariam successfully continued the late leader’s core policies, of both economic transformation and repression.

In a 2016 interview with the AP, the outgoing prime minister acknowledged that good governance was in decline in Ethiopia and people were asking the government to correct it.

“That is the main reason why people are protesting,” he said at the time. “This is really a positive sign. I have recently apologized in front of the parliament for our mismanagement and lack of responsibility that have generated these dissents. We are now taking measures to address those grievances.”

However, the protests continue to this day.

*AP

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Morocco:Over 300 delegates Expected in Marrakech For The African Women in Agriculture Congress” May 8-10, 2018
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

-Marrakech will host  the second edition of AWA “The African Women in Agriculture Congress” May 8-10, 2018

-More than 300 delegates will discuss the role of women in Africa’s agricultural development.

Believe in Africa has chosen Morocco to organize its second international conference on the subject: “Women and Agriculture“.

The congress “African Women in Agriculture 2018“, will take place in Marrakech from May 8 to 10, 2018 at the Mohammed VI Museum of Water Civilization in Morocco – AMAN, with the support of the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI) , UN Women, Initiative for Global Develop (IGD) US Africa Foundation (USADF), Forbes Africa, Africa Agriculture, and AllAfrica Magazine.

The main purpose of AWAAfrican Women in Agriculture” is to create a grid of influencers based on an exchange between high-ranking personalities and small scales producers. AWA’s aspiration is to boost women’s empowerment in agriculture, in rural areas particularly, by empowering them to become self-reliant, productive and competitive. AWA covers the four agricultural sectors, which are: agriculture, livestock, fisheries/fish farming and agro-forestry and handicrafts.

Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa

Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa

For Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President of Believe in Africa; “AWA is a unique place to share knowledge and experience where personal success stories are honored and analyzed and shared.

Furthermore The 2018 edition wants to take tangible actions and develop a roadmap for resource mobilization, training and optimization of production capacity, processing and marketing of agricultural products.

AWA 2018 will be an opportunity to highlight the collective commitment of this network put in place for the empowerment of African women, and above all allow participants to find investors and partners for the marketing of their products on the African and global market.

*For more information at http://www.believeinafrica.org/, email: Believeinafrica1@gmail.com

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Access Power launches 2018 edition of the $7 million Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) competition powering Africa & Asia
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
The winners of ACF 2018 will be announced during a live final evaluation panel on June 19th 2018 during the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 27, 2018/ — Access Power (www.Access-Power.com), a developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today announced the launch of ACF 2018, the third edition of the highly successful funding and support platform for renewable energy projects in Africa and Asia. For this third edition, Access has included Asia for energy projects and invite entrepreneurs across both Africa and Asia to compete.

Now in its fourth year, the ACF is an innovative US$7 million financial support programme designed to provide local power project developers and originators with project development support, technical experience, expertise and funding required to bring their renewable energy projects to life.

ACF 2018 aims to further build on the success of the previous three years where a total of 234 projects have been considered for the prize with several winning projects now benefiting from the mix of funding and technical expertise provided by Access Power. This year’s finalists will once again be evaluated and scored by an independent panel of industry experts, similar to last year’s which comprised of senior representatives from Power Africa, InfraCo Africa, Proparco, and the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) .

The winners of ACF 2018 will be announced during a live final evaluation panel on June 19th 2018 during the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius. The top three finalists from Africa and Asia will subsequently enter into direct Joint Development Agreement (JDA) discussions with Access Power.

Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman, Access Power commented; “This year we are delighted to welcome projects across Asia too to compete. By introducing new markets, we hope this will enable us to reach a bigger network of innovative and pioneering entrepreneurs across Africa and Asia with the opportunity to develop their ambitious ideas into tangible projects.”

The ACF 2018 application form and guidelines are available on Access Power website www.Access-Power.com

The ACF 2018 is a financial support mechanism designed to provide local developers and entrepreneurs with the technical expertise and funding required to bring their renewable energy projects to life.
• Applications for the ACF 2018 will open in March 19th  2018
• The submission period runs from March 19th to May 10th 2018.
• An independent judging panel will include industry experts as well as representatives from multilateral development banks.
• Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges at the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius,June 2018 (www.Africa-Energy-Forum.com).
• Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the Forum within a given time and take questions from panel members.
• Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
• The winners will negotiate and enter a Joint Development Agreement with Access Power, which will take an agreed equity stake in the winning projects and fund all third-party development costs. Access Power will also provide technical support, financing and development process management

About Access Power 
Access Power (www.Access-Power.com) ‘Access’ is a developer, owner and operator of power plants in emerging and frontier markets. Access today is one of the fastest growing independent power producers in emerging markets and is currently developing renewable energy projects worth over US$1 billion in 23 countries across Africa and Asia Our development team has a depth of experience in developing and building large portfolios of renewable energy projects, with a collective track record of financially closing 30 GW of power projects across the globe.

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Why Africa’s free trade area offers so much promise
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

By *

African leaders meet in Kigali to sign the continent’s free trade agreement. Paul Kagame/Flickr

African leaders meet in Kigali to sign the continent’s free trade agreement. Paul Kagame/Flickr

African leaders have just signed a framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organisation.

The free trade area aims to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. By 2030 the market size is expected to include 1.7 billion people with over USD$ 6.7 trillion of cumulative consumer and business spending – that’s if all African countries have joined the free trade area by then. Ten countries, including Nigeria, have yet to sign up.

The goal is to create a

single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.

The agreement has the potential to deliver a great deal for countries on the continent. The hope is that the trade deal will trigger a virtuous cycle of more intra African trade, which in turn will drive the structural transformation of economies – the transition from low productivity and labour intensive activities to higher productivity and skills intensive industrial and service activities – which in turn will produce better paid jobs and make an impact on poverty.

But signing the agreement is only the beginning. For it to come into force, 22 countries must ratify it. Their national legislative bodies must approve and sanction the framework formally, showing full commitment to its implementation. Niger President Issoufou Mahamadou, who has been championing the process, aims to have the ratification process completed by January 2019.

Cause and effect

Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022. Better market access creates economies of scale. Combined with appropriate industrial policies, this contributes to a diversified industrial sector and growth in manufacturing value added.

Manufacturing represents only about 10% of total GDP in Africa on average. This falls well below other developing regions. A successful continental free trade area could reduce this gap. And a bigger manufacturing sector will mean more well-paid jobs, especially for young people. This in turn will help poverty alleviation.

Industrial development, and with it, more jobs, is desperately needed in Africa. Industry represents one-quarter to one-third of total job creationin other regions of the world. And a young person in Africa is twice as likely to be unemployed when he or she becomes an adult. This is a particularly stressful situation given that over 70% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is below age 30.

In addition, 70% of Africa’s youth live on less than US $2 per day.

The continental free trade area is expected to offer

substantial opportunities for industrialisation, diversification, and high-skilled employment in Africa.

The single continental market will offer the opportunity to accelerate the manufacture and intra-African trade of value-added products, moving from commodity based economies and exports to economic diversification and high-value exports.

But, to increase the impact of the trade deal, industrial policies must be put in place. These must focus on productivity, competition, diversification, and economic complexity.

In other words, governments must create enabling conditions to ensure that productivity is raised to international competitiveness standards. The goal must be to ensure that the products manufactured in African countries are competitively traded on the continent and abroad, and to diversify the range and sophistication of products and services.

Drivers of manufacturing

Data shows that the most economically diverse countries are also the most successful.

In fact, diversification is critical as “countries that are able to sustain a diverse range of productive know-how, including sophisticated, unique know-how, are able to produce a wide diversity of goods, including complex products that few other countries can make.

Diverse African economies such as South Africa and Egypt, are likely to be the drivers of the free trade area, and are likely to benefit from it the most. These countries will find a large continental market for their manufactured products. They will also use their know-how and dense industrial landscape to develop innovative products and respond to market demand.

But the agreement on its own won’t deliver results. Governments must put in place policies that drive industrial development, particularly manufacturing. Five key ones stand out:

Human capital: A strong manufacturing sector needs capable, healthy, and skilled workers. Policymakers should adjust curriculum to ensure that skills are adapted to the market. And there must be a special focus on young people. Curriculum must focus on skills and building capacity for entrepreneurship and self-employment. This should involve business training at an early age and skills upgrading at an advanced one. This should go hand in hand with promoting science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and mathematics as well as vocational and on-the-job training.

Policymakers should also favour the migration of highly skilled workers across the continent.

Cost: Policymakers must bring down the cost of doing business. The barriers include energy, access to roads and ports, security, financing, bureaucratic restrictions, corruption, dispute settlement and property rights.

Supply network: Industries are more likely to evolve if competitive networks exist. Policymakers should ease trade restrictions and integrate regional trade networks. In particular, barriers for small and medium-size businesses should be lifted.

Domestic demand: Policymakers should offer tax incentives to firms to unlock job creation, and to increase individual and household incomes. Higher purchasing power for households will increase the size of the domestic market.

Resources: Manufacturing requires heavy investment. This should be driven by the private sector. Policymakers should facilitate access to finance, especially for small and medium enterprises. And to attract foreign direct investment, policymakers should address perceptions of poor risk perception. This invariably scares off potential investors or sets excessive returns expectations.

Increased productivity

The continental free trade area facilitates industrialisation by creating a continental market, unlocking manufacturing potential and bolstering an international negotiation bloc.

Finally, the continental free trade area will also provide African leaders with a greater negotiating power to eliminate barriers to exporting. This will help prevent agreements with other countries, and trading blocs, that are likely to hurt exports and industrial development.

*Culled from The Conversation.is a Distinguished Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for African Studies, David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Global Economy and Development and Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution, and Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, Stanford University

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IGAD Decided to Lift South Sudanese Rebel Leader Machar House Arrest, Proposes Relocation
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg

Juba – The regional bloc of Inter –Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers has decided to release South Sudan’s exiled rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar from house arrest in South Africa.

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg. He is isolated from his friends and family, and has been frozen out of South Sudan’s peace process and the future of his country.

 The IGAD’s communique issued following its 61st Extra-Ordinary Session held on Monday in Addis Ababa, said it would release Dr. Machar as soon as possible if he would agree to renounce violence, not obstruct the peace process and relocate to any country “outside the region not neighboring South Sudan.”

Meanwhile, the wife of Dr. Machar told the VOA that the family is disappointed in a decision made by IGAD calling for a conditional “lifting of house arrest.”

“If you read it carefully, actually, there is no lifting of any house arrest. Because what they said is very clear that they will transfer him from where he is now, which is South Africa, to another location that is not in the region, and that would not be in any proximity with South Sudan,” Angelina Teny, Machar’s wife said, who is also senior opposition member.

The statement said that IGAD ministers would decide on a possible location for prominent South Sudanese rebel leader Machar, something his wife said the ministers of the regional bloc are not being fair to her husband.

Dr. Machar, who ended up in South Africa, came in aftermath of a new outbreak of fighting in July 2016 destroyed a tentative peace deal that had restored Machar to his government post, and forced him to flee the country.

The opposition groups say they are upset by the government demand to exclude Machar from the SPLM reunification process, peace revitalization forum, and the national transitional government.

President Kiir government made it clear since last year that Machar can only run for president at the end constitutional process, insisting that he should remain away from the rest claiming he would obstruct the whole operation.

Over the weekend, the government Chief Negotiator for the peace process said they have rejected the opposition proposal at the High Level Revitalization Forum talks to reinstate 1st Former Vice President Riek Machar to his former position, describes as problematic.

 “This of course is problematic and we don’t want to repeat that tragic history if that formula could work but we tried it could not work,” Chief Negotiator Nhial Deng Nhial said at the party rally, SPLM in Juba. “It’s an obstacle we hope that the SPLA/IO of Dr. Riek focus more on the representation of position as an institution rather than in the person of Riek SPLM/IO is fully entitled in key position in the government in keeping in its political weight that is something that we are already to consider.”

However, the observers said this new condition may obstruct the peace process as the third round of revitalization process is at doorstep.

Machar, who has long dominated South Sudanese politics, though he was rebelled against former SPLM leader Dr. John Garang De Mabior, was an instrumental figure in South Sudan’s fight for independence from Sudan, and has served as vice president twice in the very short history of the world’s newest nation. It became independent in 2011.

However, power struggling between Dr. Machar and President Salva Kiir sparked the civil war that began in 2013, leaving the country devastated in its wake.

The regional bloc also called upon the Transitional Government of National Unity and the nine opposition groups not to squander the opportunity for ending the suffering of the people of South Sudan.

IGAD did not set new dates for the resumption of the peace talks. Its special envoy, South Sudan Ambassador Ismail Wais, will consult various South Sudanese stakeholders to reconcile the position of the parties on power sharing and permanent security arrangements before the next talks.

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ZIP: Blackmail won’t make us stop- Speaker Dogara
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
…Says ZIP represent  evidence of Federal presence in most rural communities of Nigeria
By Olayinka Ajayi
Speaker Dogara

Speaker Dogara

The Nigeria’s House of Representatives has said  no amount of blackmail from any quarters will force the National Assembly to abandon Zonal Intervention Projects ZIP because it is the tool with which they ensure equity in project allocation nationwide.

Speaking at a public hearing organised by the Joint committee on Appropriation ‎of the Senate and the House of Representative in Abuja, Speaker of the House of Representative Hon.Yakubu Dogara said, “Over the years, the efforts of legislators, especially at the National Assembly to inject equity in budget patronage nationwide through the instrumentality of zonal intervention projects has been grossly misunderstood and terribly maligned mostly by those who are deliberately ignorant and have concocted their own concept of constituency projects which they apply as their yardstick of measurement.
“I make bold to state that, but for Zonal Intervention Projects, many communities in Nigeria would never have enjoyed any form of Federal Government patronage. Put differently, zonal intervention projects represent the only evidence of Federal government presence in most rural communities of Nigeria.
“Consequently, as representatives of the people, no amount of blackmail from any quarters will force us to abandon our resolve to ensure even development across all federal constituencies.”
He implored Nigerians showing interest in the budget making process, to pay greater attention to the implementation of approved budget
and not the size because only effective budget implementation determines its quality.
“Demand strict accountability from all elected officials on this matter. Jacob Lew captured the issue succinctly when he said, ‘The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations.’  The citizen must therefore insist on the total realisation of these values and aspirations rather than merely the collection of figures,” he charged.
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President Buhari knocks off tenure extension for Oyegun, others
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
 Says tenure extension is unconstional
By Olayinka Ajayi
Current APC Chair John Oyegun and President Buhari

Current APC Chair John Oyegun and President Buhari

Following the controversy generated by the decision of the National Executive Committee NEC of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC to grant a one year tenure extension to its National Working Committee NWC have been laid to rest as President Muhammadu Buhari described the action of NEC as an infringement on not just the party constitution but the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Speaking at at the 5th NEC meeting of the All Progressive Congress party which is currently underway at its national secretariat in Abuja, Nigeria’s President said he took the decision based on advice from his Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
It was however reveal that while the all the leaders of the party were present at the meeting. Leader of the party charge with the reconciliatory responsibility Asiwaju B‎ola Tinubu was absent at the meeting.
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Louis Vuitton names Ghanaian-American as new creative boss
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

Virgil Abloh, the founder of streetwear brand Off-White and Kanye West’s creative director, has been named the new menswear designer for French fashion label Louis Vuitton.

“I feel elated,” the 37-year-old , saying the opportunity was “always a goal in my wildest dreams”.

The news site says Abloh is one of the few black designers at the helm of a major French fashion house.

Others include Olivier Rousteing – the creative director at Balmain, and British designer Ozwald Boateng who led Givenchy men’s wear from 2003 to 2007.

Abloh will present his first menswear collection for Louis Vuitton in June at Paris Fashion Week.

Louis Vuitton chief executive Michael Burke praised the designer’s “sensibility towards luxury and savoir-faire” adding he would be “instrumental in taking Louis Vuitton’s menswear into the future”.

*BBC

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