President Akufo Addo and President Ouattara after the signing of the Declaration
Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have resolved to address the challenges of the cocoa sector, within the framework of the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement which links the two countries, by signing the “Abidjan Declaration.”
With the two countries responsible for 60% of the world’s cocoa output, fluctuations of cocoa prices on the international market, marked by a fall of around 20% in 2017, have impacted negatively on the revenues of millions of cocoa farmers, as well as on the budgetary revenues of the two countries.
It is for this reason that President Akufo-Addo and His Excellency Alassane Ouattara, President of Cote d’Ivoire, on Monday, 26th March, 2018, held a consultation devoted to the cocoa economy, and, subsequently, signed the “Abidjan Declaration.”
Reading out the communiqué, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, who accompanied President Akufo-Addo to the bilateral discussions, stated that the Declaration is aimed at “better defending the interests of cocoa producers, as well as the economies of both countries.”
To this end, President Akufo-Addo and President Alassane Ouattara have reaffirmed their commitment to define a better, common strategy and a sustainable solution for the improvement of prices for cocoa producers, in their respective countries.
They also committed themselves to harmonizing their cocoa marketing policies, and agreed to announce, every year, in a concomitant manner, and before the beginning of the campaign, the price to cocoa producers.
Additionally, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have also agreed to intensify collaboration, in the field of scientific research for the production of cocoa plants, the improvement of plant varieties, and also to adopt and implement a regional programme to fight against the swollen shoot disease.
A commitment by the two countries to process a major part of cocoa, and the invitation of the private sector, notably the African private sector, to invest massively in cocoa processing in Africa, was also reached.
In concluding, President Akufo-Addo and President Alassane Ouattara reaffirmed their commitment to promote jointly the consumption of cocoa on local, regional and emerging markets, and agreed that consultation between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, on the management of their cocoa sectors, should be done on a regular basis.
Ghana has recorded a trade surplus of US$584.5 million, according to provisional trade data for the first two months of 2018, the governor of the Central Bank has announced.
The figure which represents 1.1% of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to Dr Ernest Addison was a result of higher export receipts from the country’s crude oil.
“This compares with a trade surplus of US$494.3 million (1.1% of GDP) recorded over the same period in 2017,” he stated at a press conference.
The trade surplus, Dr Addison noted, is expected to translate into a current account surplus in the first quarter of 2018, and further into a strong external position.
The governor continued that due to a drawdown in international reserves largely reflecting seasonal foreign exchange flows, planned sovereign bond coupon payments and Energy Sector Levy Act (ESLA) related payments, Ghana’s Gross International Reserves (GIR) stood at US$6.9 billion (3.8 months of import cover) as at March 20, 2018 compared to US$7.6 billion (4.3 months of import cover) as at December 2017.
On the foreign exchange market, he said it has remained calm over the first quarter of 2018 on the back of subdued demand pressures alongside improved foreign exchange liquidity and that cumulatively, the local currency has appreciated by 0.2 percent against the US dollar, in the year to March 23, 2018, compared with a depreciation of 5.0 percent during the same period in 2017.
2017 growth momentum dovetails into 2018
According to the governor, since the last MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) all of the Bank’s core measures of inflation broadly declined, suggesting subdued underlying inflation pressures. The Bank’s main measure of core inflation, which excludes energy and utility he said declined from 12.6 percent in December 2017 to 11.3 percent in February 2018.
“Also, the weighted inflation expectations by businesses, consumers and the financial sector derived from the Bank’s surveys continued to decline indicating that inflation expectations remain well anchored towards the medium term target of 8±2 percent,” he observed.
He thus noted that “initial evidence from high frequency indicators show that the growth momentum experienced in 2017 has continued into 2018” with the Bank of Ghana’s Composite Index of Economic Activity (CIEA) growing by 3.1 percent year-on-year in January.
He further pointed out that the Bank’s confidence surveys conducted in February also indicated positive sentiments on growth prospects, realization of business expectations and general improvements in the economy.
“The pace of growth in key monetary aggregates has continued to moderate consistent with contained aggregate demand pressures. Annual growth in total liquidity slowed to 12.5 percent in January 2018 from 26.7 percent a year ago (also partly reflecting the reduction in the number of banks in the monetary survey from 34 to 32).
“There is also a gradual downward migration of all money market interest rates, as well as re-alignment of the yield curve in line with the monetary policy stance since March 2017.”
The interbank rate, the rate at which commercial banks lend to each other, he disclosed declined further to 18.3 percent in February 2018 from 19.3 percent in December 2017 and 25.2 percent a year ago as the interest rates on money market instruments also declined, especially at the short-end of the market.
In February 2018, rates on the 91-day Treasury bill instrument dropped to 13.3 percent from 15.9 percent in February 2017. Similarly, the 182-day instrument declined sharply to 14.9 percent from 18.5 percent, while the 1-year note also fell to 15.0 percent from 19.0 percent over the same period.
Reforms in the Banking sector to promote stability
The recovery in the private sector credit is still slow according to the governor as credit to the private sector grew by 11.7 percent in January 2018 compared with 15.2 percent a year earlier.
He explained that in real terms, private sector credit expanded by 1.2 percent against 2.1 percent growth in January 2017.
“The latest credit conditions surveys also showed overall net tightening in credit stance to enterprises. This was attributed to banks’ current and expected capital positions as well as changes in the share of adversely classified loans. The credit stance on loans to individuals also tightened as banks continue to repair their balance sheets,” he said.
The ongoing regulatory reforms in the banking sector, he said are to promote stability of the financial system and to properly position it to support the economic growth agenda.
“The banking sector as a whole continues to be liquid, profitable and solvent with some modest gains in asset quality. However, there remain few vulnerabilities and the Bank of Ghana expects banks to continue to implement their recapitalization plans in line with the new minimum capital requirement,” he stated.
Bank’s total asset increase
The total asset base of banks, according to the Central Bank increased to GH¢95.1 billion in February 2018 indicating an annual growth of 13.7 percent compared with the 15.3 percent recorded in December 2017.
He said the asset growth was mainly funded by deposits which went up by 12.6 percent on a year-on-year basis with the industry’s average Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) improving to 19.2 percent in February 2018, reflecting efforts by banks to recapitalize.
Egypt, Algeria, Botswana and Cote d’Ivoire amongst top five investment destinations
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 26, 2018/ —
Quantum Global Research Lab releases new 2018 Africa Investment Index
Top five investment destinations attracted a combined net FDI of $12.8 bn in 2016
Egypt, Algeria, Botswana and Cote d’Ivoire amongst top five investment destinations
Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director, Quantum Global Research Lab
Morocco is the most attractive economy for investments flowing into the African continent, according to the latest Africa Investment Index 2018 (AII) by Quantum Global’s (http://QuantumGlobalGroup.com) independent research arm, Quantum Global Research Lab.
According to the AII, Morocco ranks first on the Index based on its increasing solid economic growth, strategic geographic positioning, increased foreign direct investment, external debt levels, social capital factors and overall favourable business environment.
Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director, Quantum Global Research Lab commented:
“In spite of the improvements to oil production and prices, African economies are turning their attention towards diversification to stimulate industrial development, and to attract investments in non-oil strategic sectors. Morocco has been consistent in attracting an inward flow of foreign capital, specifically in banking, tourism and energy sectors and through the development of industry.”
Top 10 and Bottom 10 countries
Top 10 (best to worst)
Bottom 10 (worst to best)
Central African Republic
Sao Tome and Principe
According to recent data by the Moroccan Exchange Control, Morocco attracted nearly $2.57 bn of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2017, up from 12 percent compared to 2016. The country is being recognised as one of the best emerging markets for overseas investment. International investors are looking at wide range of sectors for investments including in areas such as energy, infrastructure, tourism, and ICT amongst others.
According to AII, the top five African investment destinations attracted an overall FDI of $12.8 bn in 2016. Cote d’Ivoire ranks 5th while being the fastest growing economy in Africa and scores relatively well in liquidity and risk factors such as real interest rate, exchange rate risk and current account ratio. The improved risk profile, combined with strong liquidity, business environment, demographics and the social capital record has rendered Algeria a rise to the 3rd position in the second edition. Botswana, previously ranked as Africa’s top investment destination in the first edition, ranks 4th scoring well in risk factors as well as the business environment.
Prof. Ncube further commented: “Continued FDI inflows will continue to drive the much-needed capital to develop Africa’s primary sectors to meet the demands of the continent’s rapidly growing middle-class, and into manufacturing sectors to create more jobs, enhance economic growth and support structural transformation.”
In terms of improvements in the ranking over the last 3 years, countries such as Swaziland, Angola, Rwanda, Chad, Comoros, Seychelles, South Sudan and Sierra Leone registered strong upward movements as shown in AII three-year rolling rankings.
Quantum Global (www.QuantumGlobalGroup.com) is an international group of companies active in the areas of private equity investments, investment management as well as macroeconomic research and econometric modelling. Quantum Global’s private equity arm manages a family of funds targeting direct investments in Africa in the sectors of Agriculture, Healthcare, Hotels, Infrastructure, Mining and Timber – as well as a sector agnostic Structured Equity fund. Our team combines a solid track record and proven expertise to identify and execute unique investment opportunities with focus on Africa. Quantum Global works in close partnership with key stakeholders to maximise investment value and returns through active management and value creation. For more information, visit www.QuantumGlobalGroup.com.
The AII is constructed from macroeconomic and financial indicators and the World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business Indicators (DBI). The DBI ranks countries in terms of a regulatory environment conducive to business operation. The AII focuses on 5 pillars or factors from a wider range of investment indicators, which include the share of domestic investment in GDP, the share of Africa’s total FDI net inflow, GDP growth rate forecast, population augmented GDP growth factor, real interest rate, the difference of broad money growth to the GDP growth rates, inflation differential, credit rating, import cover, the share of the country’s external debt in its GNI, current account ratio, ease of doing business and the country’s population size (Figure 1). The AII indicators are based on secondary data collected from World Bank Development Indicators, IMF World Economic Outlook, UNCTAD Data Centre and own estimates.
The AII is a combination of individual indicator’s rank into a single numerical ranking. It averages the country’s macroeconomic and financial indicators rankings on the five different factors. Each indicator, and hence factors, receives an equal weight. Their rank score is then averaged to produce the total average score, which is consequently ranked from 1 to 54. The higher the value of the ranking, the lower the implied business investment climate.
To produce an index score that captures medium-term changing aspects, individual country’s ranking is scaled relative to a benchmark or reference value (i.e., the past 3-year rolling average ranking). In addition to the intended measurement, this approach enables us to avoid periods of structural changes (which may compromise the index) that may be present in a longer time span, whether we consider a change from a reference average value or a historical reference period.
President of the republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo has said his government is keen on building a business-friendly economy. The President, at the 6th Africa CEO Forum assured potential private sector investors of the security of their investments.
In his address at the Forum, held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, President Akufo-Addo stressed that “Ghana is endowed with great potential, where security and the rule of law are upheld, where investments are secure.”
The Ghanaian leader noted that over the last 14 months, his administration has focused its energies on trying to build a resilient economy, and put in measures aimed at helping move Ghana to a situation beyond aid. With some degree of success, President Akufo-Addo told the Forum that “we have put in place, in Ghana, since I took office, a monetary policy that has stabilized our currency, and has reduced significantly inflation and the cost of borrowing.”
President Akufo-Addo stated that the Ghanaian economy, whose growth rate stood at 3.6%, in 2016, the lowest in two decades, grew by 7.9% in 2017, and is expected to grow, in 2018, by 8.3%, which, according to the IMF, would make it the fastest growing economy in the world this year.
He added that “we have implemented a raft of tax cuts which has brought relief to businesses, and, at the same time, reduced substantially our fiscal deficit. These interventions are lowering the cost of doing business, and are shifting the focus of our economy from an emphasis on taxation to an expansion of production.”
In order to create a Ghana that is “able to mobilize our own material and human resources to develop a strong economy, capable of generating prosperity for the mass of our people, and construct a Ghana no longer dependent on handouts and charity”, the President stated that the rapid growth of the private sector is an essential ingredient in realizing his government’s vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid.
“There are many projects in roads, railways, water transport, industry, manufacturing, agriculture, petroleum and gas, renewable energy, the exploitation of our mineral wealth of bauxite, iron ore and gold, and ICT, amongst others, which, if properly structured, can attract private sector financing,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “Key to attracting private sector investment is not only creating a conducive, business friendly and peaceful environment, but, also, fashioning a state machinery fit to provide strong, regulatory support for private enterprise to thrive. That, for us, is the heart of the private-public-partnership that can fast-track our development.”
He further indicated that the aim of his government is to create a state machinery that can manage efficiently its fiscal and monetary responsibilities that can reform its tax administration to ensure that all private sector operators discharge their full tax obligations to enhance domestic resource mobilization, and that can promote the rule of law.
“It is important that all of us make systematic efforts to turn our backs on the sad history of massive flights of capital out of our country and continent from unconscionable inter-company pricing and other practices, and lay the conditions for fairness in the administration of our economies,” he added.
He told the Forum, comprising African CEOs, bankers and investors that Ghana wants to participate in the global market place “not on the basis of the exports of raw materials, but on the basis of things we make. We want to bring greater dignity to the lives of millions of people in Ghana. We want to build a Ghana Beyond Aid.”
Rector of Pentecost University College, Apostle Dr. Daniel Walker, has said it is too early for pastors and other religious leaders in Ghana to comment on the controversial military agreement between the West African country and the United States.
He said it is important for Ghanaians to understand that the nation does not live in isolation thus the need to assist other nations when they are in need.
The comment comes on the back of concerns by some Ghanaians over the seeming silence of the clergy, who were deemed very active under the erstwhile Mahama administration. Terms of the military agreement which was approved by a one-sided
Apostle Walker nonetheless said it is important that the interest of the nation will be put first by government as they go into agreements of this kind.
“I think it is early days yet, I’m sure they’ll come out at the appropriate time. Let’s not forget that we live in an international community therefore we can’t live in isolation, we help each other. As to whether the agreement is right or wrong, that’s another thing. The debate will continue and we’ll see the outcome by praying that every decision we take as a country should be to the benefit of our people.
“We have one country and I think that our sovereignty is crucial when we come to such matters. Any decision that government takes they should put the will of the people first, the comfort and peace of the country as a priority. I believe at the appropriate time the Christian Council or whoever is responsible will come out,” he said.
Meanwhile, former President John Mahama has described the Ghanaian clergy as hypocrites.
“Now today look at it, that’s the new standard and yet civil society is quiet, religious and traditional leaders are quiet. When NDC comes the next time and Alabi or Bagbin or who is the President and they appoint their relatives into government are they now coming to come out and say it? Must the standards of measuring standards differ because of who is in the presidency? That is the hypocrisy of our politics, that’s the height of hypocrisy we have in Ghana,” Mahama told the NDC gathering in the United Kingdom where the party is on a rebuilding tour.
Bill Gates tells Nigerian leaders to ‘face facts’ so they can make progress
(CNN)Bill Gates traveled to Nigeria to publicly give its leaders some tough talk. It was a highly unusual move but the tech billionaire believes the country is facing a critical moment.
“While it may be easier to be polite, it’s more important to face facts so that you can make progress,” the philanthropist told a room of Nigeria’s government elite that included the president.
In an exclusive television interview with CNN, Gates said he wanted to speak out to implore Nigerian politicians to focus on human capital and its large youth population.
“The current quality and quantity of investment in this young generation in health and education just isn’t good enough. So I was very direct.”
The tech billionaire and founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation feels that he has earned the right to speak.
Gates says he has traveled to Nigeria for more than a decade and the foundation is spending $1.6 billion on programs here — most of it his own money.
Their primary focus is health and their work has been incredibly successful in mitigating the threat of polio, particularly in the crisis hit northeast of the country.
Gates feels, along with many others, that it is time for Nigeria’s government to do better. The continent’s largest economy is moving out of a recession caused by a tanking oil price and moving towards a closely watched presidential election in 2019.
In many ways, the country is transforming, with gleaming hotel towers on Lagos Island competing for real estate and the wealthy fighting in the notorious traffic in ubiquitous black SUVs.
But dig a little bit deeper and the statistics are alarming. As Gates points out, Nigeria is still one of the most dangerous places to give birth and the country’s very young face chronic malnutrition.
University of Washington modeling, commissioned by Gates, estimates that if investment isn’t increased in health and education, then the per-capita GDP, rising steadily for decades, will flatline.
Gates says he wanted to spark action and debate and he certainly has.
Predictably, some see the tough talk as a rebuke of Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, who has been struggling to get the economy on its feet and stamp out the persistent threat of Islamist group Boko Haram in the northeast.
On the street, many just want support from their government — whoever is in charge — because right now there often isn’t much.
“These people are just trying to survive, they aren’t being helped,” said banker Moses Uchendu, while grabbing lunch at the popular Obalende market in Lagos.
It’s a bustling market where vendors sell delicacies such as efo riro, a spicy Yoruba stew. Power outages are frequent and the only contact with officials is when they visit for bribes, say residents and traders.
Few businesses pay their taxes and all these factors have hindered Nigeria from meeting its true potential, says Gates.
Uchendu hopes Nigerians are listening.
“I told my friends… that Bill Gates is saying the truth. It is better we are told the truth about Nigeria’s economy. It is better we say the truth.”
But Gate’s message isn’t a new one. Activists say they have been making frequent calls to invest in people, and end rampant corruption, all which have been ignored.
“These are not new topics. These are the issues that we have been discussing with the government. We have been engaging with them for so many years now,” says Timothy Adewale, a human rights lawyer with one of Nigeria’s largest NGOs.
“Nobody will listen. You know, actually, if they are sincere about the best interest of the people, they should listen. It has always been said that the greatest test of your commitment is your actions.”
But Gates believes, together with Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and a close partner of the Gates Foundation, that if the Nigerian government does a few things differently, then the country is poised for lift off.
“I really think that of all the countries I have seen, it really hangs in the balance. If they can get health and education right, they can be an engine of growth, not just for themselves but for all of Africa,” said Gates.
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has been in power for 35 years. But while his longevity in office is a talking point at home, the time he spends out of the country has stirred international comment – as Paul Melly, an associate fellow of Chatham House, explains.
Criticised by some for a supposedly “hands-off” style of rule, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya recently held a cabinet meeting for the first time in more than two years.
Presidential elections are scheduled for October and Cameroonians are waiting to hear if the 85-year-old will seek a further term. But no such announcement was made at the meeting.
Mr Biya has been in power since 1982, making him one of Africa’s longest serving leaders. Under his rule, Cameroon has survived an economic crisis and moved from being a one-party state to multi-party politics.
But it has also been marked by endemic corruption and reversal of democratic gains, leading to the abolition of term limits in 2008, which allowed the octogenarian to run for re-election in 2011.
Today’s Africa is changing. The era of decades-old presidencies is slipping away. Satellite TV and the internet tell a growing urban audience about democratic changes of power in other sub-Saharan countries.
Some 60% of Cameroonians are under 25 and so were not even born when President Biya first came to power. There is massive demand for jobs and viable livelihoods.
The opposition Social Democratic Front has now recognised these generational realities. Earlier this year, the party’s leader, John Fru Ndi, 76, stepped aside to make way for a new presidential candidate, 49-year-old businessman and former pilot Joshua Osih.
This is the challenge that confronts Mr Biya as he decides whether to stand for a further term that could take him into a fourth decade in power in a country hungry for change.
His repeated absences from the country have riled critics.
His foreign travels have been the subject of an online spat between the state-owned Cameroon Tribune newspaper and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which calculated the amount of time the president spent abroad using reports from the daily newspaper.
It also alleges that he spent a third of the year abroad in 2006 and 2009. The Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva is said to be his favourite destination.
The state-owned Cameroon Tribune called their investigation “a clear electoral propaganda”.
Back home, President Biya adopts a low-key style, staying out of the limelight and sometimes retreating to his home village.
He entrusts the day-to-day running of the government to the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, who holds monthly gatherings of a “cabinet council”.
The prime minister is accorded wide latitude to manage the work of his ministerial team, while the head of state meets senior figures in private at the presidential palace in the capital, Yaoundé.
President Biya’s hands-off approach has led critics to talk of an “absent president”.
However, this relationship at least partly reflects Cameroon’s unusual dual heritage of both British and French colonial rule. President Biya, like his predecessor Ahmadou Ahidjo, is from the Francophone regions, while the premier is always an Anglophone.
The president has to be seen to leave the head of government to get on with the job, says one non-partisan Cameroonian analyst.
So when President Biya does summon ministers to a rare formal cabinet gathering, it is usually for a special reason.
The most recent one was the official first meeting of a new ministerial team after a reshuffle earlier in the month. It is similar to the last cabinet meeting, in 2015, which had come soon after the previous government revamp.
This time there was speculation that Mr Biya would announce whether or not he would stand in this year’s election, to seek yet another term in office – but in fact he gave no hint of his thinking on that.
Yet the surprise cabinet meeting did matter in another way.
For more than a year, Cameroon’s Anglophone regions in the North-West and South-West have been mired in crisis.
This started as a protest by lawyers and teachers demanding better provision for the use of English.
But tensions rose, leading to confrontation between the security forces, a 93-day blackout of internet services across Anglophone Cameroon, and separatist militants fighting for an independent “Ambazonia”, with a rising death toll on both sides.
The government took steps to address the language issues, but the situation still looks dangerous. Both the UK and France have discreetly pressed for dialogue.
President Biya responded with a cabinet reshuffle on 2 March, signalling a carrot and stick approach: firmness on security and law and order was balanced with the creation of a ministry for decentralisation, holding out the promise of greater local control over development and public services.
He used this rare cabinet meeting to show his full backing for his ministers as they pursue this twin-track strategy – a firm stance on security in the troubled Anglophone region, but, at the same time, decentralisation, to give local people more control over their own affairs.
So, the so-called absent president had to show a firm hand while also preparing to loosen his grip.
Carolyn Kennedy receiving the award from Therapeutic Interventions Inc
Carolyn Kennedy, Executive Director of the Silver Spring, MD, based Brotherhood and Sisterhood International-BSI, is the 2018 recipient of the Therapeutic Interventions Inc. Leadership and Service Award.
The award was presented to Carolyn Kennedy at recent event organized by Therapeutic Interventions Inc. at the Historic Fraser Mansion in Washington, DC as part of the Women’s History Month Celebration 2018.
With a career span of 30 years in civil rights and providing services to the disabled, it was with a standing ovation that Carolyn Kennedy received the award from the management of Therapeutic Interventions Inc. led by Fatmata Koroma.
For some thirty years Carolyn Kennedy has put in her all for civil rights and serving people with disabilities
Accepting the honor , Carolyn Kennedy shared motivational experiences on the long and windy road she has traveled to get to where she is.Stick to your dreams and remain steadfast in the midst of all odds said Carolyn Kennedy, who was accompanied to the event by her husband Dr. Kofi Agyapong -Founder of Sons and Daughters of Africa,SADA.
The event was graced with musical performances, presentations by Miss Culture USA Pageants, video presentations and more.
The women from Miss Culture USA 2018 answered present at the event
Therapeutic Interventions Inc. was founded to enhance the quality of life for all people and empower the community to develop habits and techniques that promote a healthy lifestyle, positive self-esteem, positive self-image, interpersonal skills, ethical values, character, and entrepreneurship and leadership abilities.
Wellness Professional Candice Camille (in yellow) spoke at the event while Christine White thrilled the audience with some exquisite West African dance moves
Its vision is to develop career skills and opportunities for the minority and the African Diaspora community by providing career development courses, programs in health and human services, youth engagement initiatives and education, promotion of arts, culture and the humanities. Therapeutic Interventions Inc. creates a platform to celebrate the creative and innovative lifestyle of the community.
Next on the hectic agenda of the organization is the Miss Culture USA 2018 pageant in April.
21 – 25 May 2018, Busan Exhibition Conference Center, Busan, Republic of South Korea
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 23, 2018/ — The 53rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank and 44th Meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Fund (http://www.AfDB.org/am), the concessional arm of the Bank Group, are scheduled to take place from May 21-25, 2018 in Busan, Korea.
While Africa has enjoyed strong economic growth for almost two decades, the continent has not seen a commensurate rise in industrialization. On average, African industry generates merely US$700 of GDP per capita, which is barely a fifth in East Asia (US$3,400). In addition, African exports consist of low technology manufactures and unprocessed natural resources, which represent more than 80 percent of exports from Algeria, Angola or Nigeria, for example.
Africa’s rapid industrialization holds the potential for a win-win scenario – for the world, and certainly for the continent. It would also help raise productivity by spurring technological progress and innovation while creating higher-skilled jobs in the formal sector; promote linkages between services and agricultural sectors; between rural and urban economies; and among consumers, intermediates and capital goods industries. Industrialization will also make the prices of manufactured exports less volatile or susceptible to long-term deterioration than those of primary goods, as well as help African countries escape dependence on primary commodity exports.
The theme is generating a lot of interest at a time when Korean and Asian companies are increasingly active in Africa. What lessons can Africa learn from Korea’s development experience? Can relations between both regions, built on a win-win formula, enable Africa claim a more significant share of world trade? Can Afro-Asian commercial and financial ties favor the development of the African private sector? What are the most effective policy levers that could foster structural transformation on the continent? How can the continent learn from the experiences of Korea and leading African nations such as Mauritius, Morocco, Ethiopia, and Rwanda in the industrialization process? These and other questions will be debated during the Busan Annual Meetings.
The Annual Meetings are one of the largest economic gatherings on the continent. Thousands of delegates, Heads of State, public and private sectors stakeholders, development partners and academics, will reflect on Africa’s industrialization − one of the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities (https://www.afdb.org/en/the-high-5) and an avenue to improve the living conditions of Africans.
During the meetings, the Bank will organize a series of knowledge events to generate new ideas for developing and financing Africa’s industrialization. Highlights of the meetings will include a high-level presidential panel on Accelerating African Industrialization: Bringing the future to the present. The panel will be a platform for political leaders from Africa and Korea to present their visions and strategies for industrialization as well as ideas for overcoming implementation challenges.
The Bank will launch the updated version of theAfrican Economic Outlook (AEO) 2018– the Bank’s flagship economic publication. Several knowledge events are on the programme such as Pathways to Industrialization, where panelists will deliberate on the various trajectories African countries can follow towards sustainable industrialization. A panel onFuture of Work and Industrialization will examine how Africa can adapt its educational systems and workers’ skills to suit new economic realities, particularly for industrial development of the continent, among other sessions.
Journalists willing to take part in the Meetings are requested to send to the Bank a designation letter from their news organization at the following address: (email@example.com). Upon receipt of the letter, the Bank will send a personal code that will allow online registration. Online registration will close on 13th May 2018. Journalists from countries without Korean diplomatic representation should register early enough in order to get assistance from the Bank in obtaining a visa should they need one.
The African Development Bank will not cover transport and subsistence costs for journalists travelling to Busan.
KIGALI, Rwanda, March 23, 2018/ — Speakers at the International Conference on Responsible and Inclusive Finance (ICRIF) (http://www.amir.org.rw) held in Kigali on 21 March urged Rwandan microfinance institutions (MFIs) to embrace new-age technology to streamline their operations and to enhance their ability to extend financial inclusion among the country’s unbanked and underbanked population.
Straton Habyalimana, senior programme manager for responsible financing at the Small Enterprise Education and Promotion Network, told the 400 delegates at the conference that MFIs should adopt digital platforms to enhance their interactions with their customers. Kigali-based digital financial services expert, James Kwezi, said that MFIs should use technology to become more efficient and profitable.
This aligns with the National Bank of Rwanda’s (BNR) call to Rwandan financial sector firms to embrace automation to reduce their operating costs and their rate of bad loans. “Many microfinance institutions in East Africa still depend on paper-driven processes or Excel spreadsheets to manage their businesses,” commented Vedran Lescan, business development manager at Oradian, a global financial inclusion company that delivers a cloud-based toolset for financial institutions.
“But with the latest advances in financial technology (fintech) and cloud software, Rwandan MFIs now have access to powerful, affordable tools that can help them transform inefficiencies into operational excellence, scale their businesses for rapid growth and get better visibility into the performance of their portfolios. This, in turn, can boost their profitability and enable them to better serve the needs of their financially excluded customers.”
At the conference, Lescan took part in a panel discussion about finding ways to overcome the challenges that financial institutions face when it comes to adopting new technology and implementing it across an entire business with multiple branches.
He said: “Data migration is an important step in digital transformation, but organisations often overlook it or underestimate how time-consuming and complex it can be. Even though an MFI’s workforce can quickly learn a new system, the software wont add value if data isn’t migrated from the previous legacy system or from spreadsheets in a consistent manner.”
As part of Oradian’s toolset, Oradian’s in-market teams provide data migration training and support to ensure the financial institution’s data is treated as an asset that enables better decision-making and better client service. Lescan also advised MFIs to seek out toolsets that offer robust security and data protection features, including audit trails, user permissions and other functions to combat data leakages, fraud and user error.
“Today’s technology offers financial institutions in Africa countless opportunities to improve their business,” Lescan said. “However, financial inclusion leaders are promoting partnerships with fintech providers (https://goo.gl/iSjsG6), rather than vendor relationships, to drive truly successful implementations. “
Fintech partnerships provide financial institutions with the resources and global best practice they need to rapidly overcome the common challenges of digital transformation.
“Strategic partnerships within the digital ecosystem are proving to be the most effective way to enable our customers to provide better service to their end-clients,” Lescan said. “We are eager to work with the central bank, MFIs and other members of the value chain to drive financial inclusion in Rwanda.”
Oradian is a financial inclusion company serving financial institutions in remote, hard-to-reach communities. Using insights from our community of customers, we build a cloud-based toolset that smart financial institutions plug into to access best practice and efficiency. Oradian’s global community is made up of over 50 financial institutions in seven countries with a concentration in the Philippines and Nigeria. Collectively, Oradian’s partnering financial institutions provide access to financial services for over one million end-clients.
The Ghana Police Service has blocked members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, who are campaigning against Parliament ratifying the Ghana – US defense cooperation agreement, from entering the premises of the Lawmaking House.
The group, is threatening a showdown with the law enforcement agents at the main gate of Ghana’s Parliament.
The pressure group is storming Parliament as part of moves to reject the military pact as the legislators debate the details before going on recess. The group is demanding a withdrawal of the agreement by government despite assurances by Ghana’s Defense minister, Dominic Nitiwul.
“We’re going to respect the Ghana Police for the time being. We didn’t come with knives and guns. We’ll hold on patiently for some time,” Mr. Yeboah, leader of the group told the media outside the gate.
He added: “We’ll exercise what the constitution says. We’re going to resist oppressors’ rule. We’ll resist and you’ll see the results. There won’t be any bloodshed. We’re no longer prepared to allow ‘misleaders’ to rule this country. Our strength lies in our commitment to make Ghana work again.”
The Government of Ghana, according to a leaked document, has approved the agreement with the US to set up a military base in Ghana and also allow unrestricted access to a host of facilities and wide-ranging tax exemptions to the United States Military—a claim the government of Ghana and the US denied.
Ghana’s Parliament is due to ratify the agreement today before it rises by close of Friday, March 23, 2018.
President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes hand with Raila Odinga when they met at Harambee House, Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE
On August 8, 2017, Kenya held its presidential election. The election was conducted in a tense environment and since then, the two main candidates going into the elction (Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta) had been at loggerheads. However, Kenyans woke up to a surprise on 16 March, 2018 as the two held a press release where they stated their new found desire to move on a reconciliation path as ‘brothers’.
The news came as a surprise to virtually everyone especially considering that it had barely been a month since Odinga had inaugurated himself as the ‘People’s President’ in a move which prompted Kenyatta to retaliate by charging some of Uhuru Kenyatta’s supporters with criminal nuisance and even issued arrests for some including the lawyer who inaugurated Odinga.
While the path of reconciliation taken by Odinga and Kenyatta is commendable, it is a bitter taste for those that were involved in the political violence and disturbances that saw over a 100 people dead and hundreds of others injured and displaced in the aftermath of the August 8, election. It is against this background that this article calls for Africa to reinvent itself.
Shifting from the culture of violence
From Cape to Cairo, African politics suffer from the culture of violence. Be it, sponsored violence induced by politicians or the random desire by one group (ethnic/tribal/race/social class etc.) to dominate another, African countries at one point or the other experience disturbing acts of violence that are politically motivated.
While the top hierarchy rarely suffers from this violence, it’s the total opposite when it comes to those at the bottom. True to the proverb, “when two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers” the general African populace has been affected and suffered the most from political disturbances. This, therefore, means that if any reinvention is to come, it is imperative that it starts from the bottom up for it to be effective.
One of the many memories that the legend Bob Marley left us is his wisdom and this wisdom is perfectly embedded in this saying, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but our selves can free our minds.” The first and probably the only step that Africans need to take in order to overthrow the culture of political violence is for them to become aware of the political, economic and social conditions that lead them to engage in acts of violence. Such conditions which among other things include race, ethnicity, tribalism, and inferiority complex are so enmeshed in the hearts and minds of most Africans such that they subconsciously dictate how Africans think and act.
In order for Africans to emancipate themselves from these terrible conditions, it’s imperative that first, they become conscious of the conditions that exist within their minds which blindly leads them to engage and commit in terrible acts. Only when the people become conscious can there be a shift from the culture of violence to a culture of peace in African politics.
Politics of personality
While the public possesses the power to force a shift from the culture of violence, the politicians themselves can also play a part in this shift. Often times, politicians prey on the vulnerabilities of the masses, they draw support from entrenching themselves in the politics of ethnicity, tribalism and in some cases religion and gender.
By identifying with one group, they become the hero or saviour of that group and the result is that it ends up creating politics of personality; the problem with politics of personality is that it blinds people, instead of following the objective path they become subjective. They blindly follow even when the politician goes on a wrong path and when another group tries to highlight his/her flaws, those blindly following feel like they and their ‘hero’ have been attacked and find a justification for defending themselves in often times a violent manner. It’s important therefore that African politicians move past politics of personality to politics of substance.
Africans need conscientization and African politicians need to desist from politics of personality to politics of substance, then and only then can Africans see each other as friends in the political arena even when disagreeing just like the newfound friendship of Kenyatta and Odinga.
Pressure group, Economic Freedom Fighters, says it is mobilizing people to Ghana’s house of Parliament today as the law makers begin debate on the controversial military pact between the West African country and the United States.
The group is demanding a withdrawal of the agreement by the government of Ghana despite assurances by Defense minister Dominic Nitiwul.
Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Ernesto Yeboah said they will explore all means to ensure that Parliament does not pass the agreement.
“It’s a call to national duty that all of us make ourselves available to remind our members of parliament and indeed our political leadership that power belongs to us. When the Burkinabe people found that their members of Parliament had become insolent and were taking them for granted, they simply converged and burnt down parliament.
“We are simply converging at Parliament to send a message to our parliamentarians that the power they wield in terms of representing us actually comes from us. We are not converging to burn down parliament. Of course if we are pushed into the wall under certain circumstances, certain drastic actions could be taken,” he warned.
The Government of Ghana, according to a leaked document, has approved the agreement with the US to set up a military base in Ghana and also allow unrestricted access to a host of facilities and wide-ranging tax exemptions to the United States Military—a claim the government of Ghana and the US denied.
Mr Sarkozy clinched big trade deals for France with Libya’s Gaddafi in 2007 when he was president
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy says allegations he received campaign funding from late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are making his life “hell”.
“I am accused without any physical evidence,” Mr Sarkozy told magistrates, Le Figaro newspaper reports.
He has been placed under formal investigation for illicit election campaign financing in 2007, misappropriation of Libyan public funds and passive corruption.
Mr Sarkozy, 63, denies any wrongdoing.
The centre-right politician, who was in police custody being questioned for two days this week, says his Libyan accusers are seeking vengeance for his decision to deploy French warplanes during the uprising which overthrew Gaddafi in 2011.
In it, he says that he is aware the allegations against him are “serious”, but that they amount to “slander” and have made his life “hell” since 11 March 2011, when the claims were first made by Gaddafi.
Hammer blow for ex-leader
Analysis by Hugh Schofield, BBC News, Paris
These accusations against Nicolas Sarkozy are in a different realm from all those other judicial problems that he has faced. The others are classic allegations of illegal party funding and abuse of influence.
This one is about taking money from a foreign dictator.
In each case, presumption of innocence has to prevail. Mr Sarkozy’s key argument is that he is the victim of a left-wing vendetta: judges out to get him.
On Libya, he points out that his accusers – henchmen of Gaddafi and sleazy middlemen – are not exactly paragons of veracity.
But the truth is that this is a hammer blow to the former president. The judges believe there are “serious and coherent” indications that he did indeed take money from the Libyans, and on that basis they will now conduct their investigation.
The implications are devastating. If the charges are true, then the whole story of Sarkozy’s presidency will have to be re-assessed. More importantly, what would it say about the French-led campaign to topple Gaddafi in 2011? A campaign in which the UK was persuaded by France to take part.
Big questions – if the charges are true. But don’t expect any quick answers. This case could drag on for years.
What is the Libya case about?
In 2013, France opened an investigation into allegations that Mr Sarkozy’s campaign had benefited from millions of euros of illicit funds from Gaddafi.
He failed in his bid to return to power in 2012, however, losing to Socialist candidate François Hollande.
The claims came from a French-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, and some former Gaddafi regime officials.
Mr Guéant, who was managing Mr Sarkozy’s presidential campaign in 2007, told the franceinfo website on Tuesday that he had “never seen a penny of Libyan financing”.
He was placed under formal investigation earlier this year over a €500,000 bank transfer in 2008. He has denied wrongdoing and claimed the money came from the sale of two paintings.
Does Sarkozy face other charges?
Criminal proceedings have been launched against Mr Sarkozy in one other case of alleged illicit campaign financing.
It is alleged that he engaged in accounting fraud to overshoot the ceiling for campaign expenditure in 2012, which was €22.5m.
Mr Sarkozy denies he was aware of the overspending.
The affair is known as the Bygmalion scandal.
In connection with his 2007 campaign, Mr Sarkozy was previously cleared over claims that he had used secret funding from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and that he had tried to influence investigating magistrates.
African leaders pose for a group photograph as they meet to sign a free trade deal that would create a liberalized market for goods and services across the continent, in Kigali, Rwanda March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jean Bizimana
KIGALI (Reuters) – African leaders agreed on Wednesday to form a $3 trillion continental free-trade zone encompassing 1.2 billion people, but its two biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, did not sign up, diminishing its impact.
The African Union started talks in 2015 to establish a 55-nation bloc that would be the biggest in the world by member states, in a bid to increase intra-regional trade, which sits at a measly 15 percent of Africa’s total commerce.
Rwandan president Paul Kagame, host of an AU summit called to conclude the initial negotiations, declared the meeting a success after 44 African nations signed up to establish the free trade bloc within 18 months.
It was not immediately clear why South Africa and Nigeria stayed on the sidelines. Others staying out of the bloc were Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Burundi, Eritrea, Benin, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.
“It would have been great if the two biggest economies on the continent, Nigeria and South Africa, had signed, but the most important is that the rest of the continent is sending a right message to these two biggest economies that we are moving ahead without you,” said Michael Kottoh, an analyst at Confidential Strategies in Ghana.
The project needed a minimum of 22 countries signing up to get off the ground and Kagame hailed the effort so far.
“What is at stake is the dignity and well-being of Africa’s farmers, workers and entrepreneurs,” he said.
AU trade commissioner Albert Muchanga also put a positive spin on the absence of the top two African economies, telling Reuters they would soon join in.
“They are still doing national level consultations and so when they finish they will be able to come on board,” he said.
Economists point to Africa’s low level of intra-regional trade as one of the reasons for the continent’s enduring poverty and lack of a strong manufacturing base.
It is blamed on a host of factors, from colonialism, to high internal tariffs to poor road and rail links to excessive border bureaucracy and petty corruption at frontier checkpoints.
The relatively small size of many African markets – only Nigeria and Ethiopia have populations estimated at 100 million people or more – also inhibit private sector investment.
Africa already has an alphabet soup of competing and overlapping trade zones – ECOWAS in the west, EAC in the east, SADC in the south and COMESA in the east and south – although only the EAC, driven mainly by Kenya, has made significant progress towards a common market in goods and services.
Analysts said governments needed to do more to ensure goods and people flowed freely across borders.
“If they just sign the agreement without opening the borders, without getting rid of non-tariff barriers and if they don’t work on free movement of people, it is not going to work,” analyst Kottoh said.
Even the six-nation EAC has its sticking points – Tanzania has been known to kick out Kenyan executives and impound Kenyan imports at the border, in violation of EAC rules.
Businessmen said the current set-up forced them to look outside the continent, particularly Asia for manufactured goods.
“It is easy and cheaper to buy in Asia than to buy in the sub-region because of less-flexible rules of origin and non-tariff barriers that are not clear,” said Meriem Bensalah-Chaqroun, head of the Moroccan Confederation of Businesses.
Sudden changes in rules and impromptu checks on goods also held up supply chains.
“Some countries all of a sudden decide they are going to do a quality check on goods but they don’t really know what they want to check. That slows the trade,” said Thomas Schafer, CEO of Volkswagen Africa.
“We are not able to bring a vehicle from South Africa into Zimbabwe in a cost-efficient and fast way. That needs to change.”
Aims to enable 30 million African youth to secure jobs by 2030
Photo credits: Intersect for Mastercard Foundation
KIGALI, Rwanda, March 22nd, 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Today, the Mastercard Foundation announced a commitment to enable 30 million African youth, especially young women, to secure dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. The Foundation also announced two new programs in Rwanda that will directly contribute to the overall goal of increasing economic opportunities for young people in Africa.
Today’s announcements are part of the Foundation’s ambitious new strategy, Young Africa Works, which aims to reduce poverty on the continent by tackling youth unemployment. The strategy is the result of extensive consultations with leaders of African governments, the private sector, educational institutions, civil society, and young people.
Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, particularly for young people. By 2030, there will be more than 375 million people under the age of 35 in the labour market. Population growth on the continent means that by 2035, there will be more young people entering Africa’s workforce each year than the rest of the globe combined. In 2050, one quarter of the world’s working age population will be African, making it the largest workforce in the world.
“Youth unemployment in Africa is the issue of our time. Together, we have an extraordinary opportunity to shape the future and increase prosperity for all,” said Reeta Roy, Mastercard Foundation President and CEO. “In fact, young people are leading the way. Let’s support their aspirations for their communities and their countries.”
The Young Africa Works strategy builds on what the Foundation has learned from a decade of working in Africa, expanding access to education and financial inclusion. The new strategy puts an emphasis on working with African organizations and designing solutions specific to a country’s economic needs and goals. Collaborating with governments and the private sector to identify priority areas for growth, the Foundation’s programs will prepare young people with the skills they need for employment through relevant training and education, use technology to connect employers and job seekers, and enable entrepreneurs and small businesses to expand through access to financial services.
“Every day I see young Africans whose potential is going untapped,” said Angela Nzioki, Co-Founder and Manager of Pluspeople Kenya Limited and a youth panelist at an event launching the strategy. “They are innovative, passionate, and talented, and they want a chance to prove themselves. For Africa to prosper, young people need to be at the heart of the policies and strategies of governments, universities, employers, and donors.”
Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente and other ministers and dignitaries also attended the event, where the Foundation marked the occasion with a commitment of US$100 million to two new initiatives in Rwanda, including:
1) Hanga Ahazaza, which aims to increase employment and enterprise opportunities for young Rwandans while expanding the country’s burgeoning tourism and hospitality sector and contributing to poverty reduction; and
2) Leaders in Teaching, which will support the delivery of high quality, relevant secondary education and will establish the pan-African Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT that will explore new approaches to improving educational outcomes.
Hanga Ahazaza, meaning “create the future” in Kinyarwanda, will equip 30,000 young men and women with customer service, ICT, and digital literacy skills, and provide on-the-job training and opportunities for employment. The initiative will also support small businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector through increased access to financial services and business development skills so they can create more employment opportunities for young people. It is a consortium of partners from the education, development, and private sectors.
The Leaders in Teaching initiative focuses on training, motivation, and professional development for teachers and school leaders. In Rwanda, at least 250,000 secondary school students will benefit as the initiative aims to improve Science, Math, and ICT knowledge and teaching skills for new and experienced teachers, improve the capacity of head teachers to create positive instructional environments, and recruit young people into the profession.
About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion for people living in poverty. One of the largest foundations in the world, it works almost exclusively in Africa. It was created in 2006 by Mastercard International and operates independently under the governance of its own Board of Directors.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir meets U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley in Juba
Juba – the United States is taking action against 15 South Sudanese oil-related companies whose revenues have allegedly contributed to the ongoing crisis in South Sudan.
The State Department said in statement on March 21, seen by Pan African Visions that South Sudan’s government and “corrupt official actors” are using the revenue to purchase weapons, fund militias and undermine peace, which prolong a civil war in the East Africa youngest nation.
The United States government said the names of these specific entities will be published in the Federal Register on March 22.
This also comes after the Enough Project and Global Witness named some individuals in the government use oil money to fuel conflict.
According to the President Trump’s administration, this action will force the government and companies to show that the country’s oil will benefit its people and not enrich corrupt elites or fuel violence.
The US said the listed entities are a source of substantial revenue for the Government of South Sudan.
“Unfortunately, the South Sudanese Government, and corrupt official actors, use this revenue to purchase weapons and fund irregular militias that undermine the peace, security, and stability of South Sudan rather than support the welfare and current emergency food needs of South Sudanese people,” the US said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We call on the region and broader international community to join us in limiting the financial flows that fuel the continuing violence in the country,” it read in part
The oil companies that have been listed by the US Bureau of Industry and Security, Commerce includes, Ascom Sudd Operating Company; Dar Petroleum Operating Company; DietsmannNile; Greater Pioneer Operating Co.Ltd; Juba Petrotech Technical Services Ltd; Nile Delta Petroleum Company; Nile Drilling and Services Company; Nile Petroleum Corporation; Nyakek and Sons; Oranto Petroleum; Safinat Group; SIPET Engineering and Consultancy Services; South Sudan Ministry of Minning; South Sudan Ministry of Petroleum and Sudd Petroleum Operating Co.
The U.S. and other companies will now need a license to export, re-export, or transfer exports of any U.S.-origin goods or technology to the listed entities.
“By placing these entities on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Entity List, the United States will impose a license requirement on all exports, re-exports, and transfers of any U.S.-origin items to those entities,” US Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in the statement.
In February this year, the Trump administration imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan.
This is the latest attempt to hold accountable those accused of spoiling peace and commit human rights violations in South Sudan.
The Sentry, a group co-founded by actor George Clooney, accused South Sudan’s government in a recent report of funneling cash from the state-owned oil company Nilepet to militias accused of committing atrocities.
The move, it explained, would now mean U.S., as well as non-US companies, will now need a license to export, re-export, or transfer exports of any US-origin goods or technology to the listed entities.
“By placing these entities on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Entity List, the United States will impose a license requirement on all exports, re-exports, and transfers of any U.S.-origin items to those entities,” said US Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert in a statement.
South Sudan government is not yet responding to US statement, but the observers said the move is an important step in the search for peace in South Sudan as the next round of the South Sudan peace talk’s approaches.
South Sudan got the lion’s share of the oil when it split from Sudan in July 2011, but it’s only export route is through Sudan, giving Khartoum leverage and leading to ongoing pricing disputes.
Oil production in South Sudan has been affected by the conflict that erupted in 2013 after a political disagreement between President Salva Kiir and his then deputy, Riek Machar, triggered war.
The war in South Sudan, which has featured the use of child soldiers, rape as a weapon of war, and mass atrocities, has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and has left over 2 million people displaced.
It said it expects the government, as well as the armed opposition, to fulfill their commitments to IGAD and the people of South Sudan by ceasing “hostilities, allow unimpeded humanitarian access, and pursue a negotiated peace in good faith”.
“The government of South Sudan must not squander that generosity and should take concrete steps to provide for the vast needs of the South Sudanese people,” statement said in part.
According to the statement, this action reflects the U. S commitment to doing all it can to protect the innocent people of South Sudan.
Africa has not been well served by the Trump administration, and prospects are not good that things will change soon says Johnnie Carson
When it comes to Africa, don’t expect much from the changes taking place at the US State Department. The White House is not interested in Africa.
The Trump Administration has not made Africa a priority and the White House has failed to set out a comprehensive strategy or introduce any new policy initiatives regarding the continent.
The appointment of CIA Director Michael Pompeo to replace former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not lead to an uptick in interest or engagement.
If anything, this change will reinforce America’s focus on security and counter-terrorism. This emphasis could end up taking US policy further backwards. It could align the US with increasingly corrupt and autocratic governments. It could ensnare Washington in longstanding conflicts that cannot be won by military means alone. And it could undercut US influence and integrity more broadly on the continent.
The abrupt dismissal of Tillerson following his abridged five-nation trip to Africa is not good news. Although his ouster had nothing to do with the continent, he was probably the only cabinet official with any interest or prior experience in Africa. His departure underscores the senior level policy void. Even now, key Africa posts in the State Department remain unfilled, including that of Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
Pompeo’s nomination to replace Tillerson is probably bad news for those who want to see the US energise its engagement and lay out a comprehensive set of policies and programmes regarding Africa’s economic, social, health and trade challenges. It is probably good news for all those who believe America’s priority in Africa should be to expand security alliances to combat threats in Somalia, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin.
Mike Pompeo has been named as Rex Tillerson’s successor as US Secretary of State. Credit: Gage Skidmore.
A West Point graduate and hawkish conservative, Pompeo’s limited comments about Africa have focused on Libya and counter terrorism. As a member of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, he was strongly critical of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the tragic death of Ambassador Chris Stevens.
On security issues across the continent, Pompeo has said “there’s a big counter-terrorism threat there” and claimed the US can do more. Although he has supported food aid for countries in need, his first priority is likely to be bolstering security collaboration with states participating in the African Union’s military operations in Somalia as well as countries in the Sahel and Lake Chad region fighting Boko Haram and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
If Pompeo pursues this security first agenda, he will continue a short-sighted approach that devalues many of America’s programmes that prioritise economic development, good governance and rule of law. The emphasis on security will give the appearance of militarising the US’ role in Africa. It will diminish America’s influence and create a larger political, economic and development void for other countries to fill. Armed conflict and counter-terrorism are not at the top of the agenda for most of the 49 states in sub-Saharan Africa.
Pompeo’s strong support for Trump’s “America First” approach does not auger well for Africa either. The US president’s global agenda runs counter to many of the bipartisan policies and programmes that have anchored American policy in Africa for the past 25 years.
Although the administration professes to support many of the policies put in place by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, its actions often move in a different direction.
The administration’s proposed 30% cut to USAID’s budget, for example, will have a heavy and disproportionate impact on activities in Africa. Its draconian re-imposition of the Mexico City rule, which bars US funding to groups that provide information on family planning, stops money going to many organisations and programmes that provide anti-retroviral treatments under PEPFAR, President Bush’s widely praised HIV/AIDS prevention programme. Meanwhile, the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement will end its $3 billion contribution to the Green Climate (Change) Fund, a move that will particularly hurt Africa, the continent most vulnerable to climate change.
The administration’s spending decisions have already reduced the size of the Young African Leaders Initiative, spending on democracy and governance efforts, and programmes that support expanded trade and commercial activities. The Trump administration’s actions are already having a negative impact across the continent.
The appointment of an Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs might be able to stabilise the US’ Africa policies, slow down some of the more negative decisions being made, and begin to put into place a more comprehensive and forward-looking framework. However, Pompeo’s Senate confirmation will probably slow down the appointment of a new Africa Secretary as well as the appointment of new ambassadors for critical posts in the likes of South Africa, Tanzania and Somalia.
(L-R) Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, US President Donald Trump, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, Vice President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn pose following a family photo of G7 leaders with African leaders after an expanded session at the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7, the group of most industrialized economies, plus the European Union, on May 27, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / JONATHAN ERNST (Photo credit should read JONATHAN ERNST/AFP/Getty Images)
It was widely rumoured that a respected former diplomat, Tibor Nagy, would be nominated shortly for the top Africa position in the State Department. But that nomination will probably not move forward in advance of Pompeo’s confirmation. Those hearings are not scheduled until early-April and the process could drag on for several months.
Africa has not been well served by the Trump administration, and prospects are not good that things will change soon. As Africa policy languishes and important bipartisan programmes wither, the administration will probably at some point dispatch Pompeo to the continent to talk up the American security agenda. Perhaps even presidential adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump will be sent as a token reflection of White House interest, but these visits would only be putting a glossy face on what is pretty gloomy policy.
*Culled From African Arguments.Johnnie Carson was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the first Obama Administration and is a former US Ambassador to Kenya. He is currently a Senior Advisor at the United States Institute of Peace.
Africa is hoping to create a free trade area stretching across the continent
The European Union and its free trade agreement took decades to establish. Africa is now hoping it can achieve the same in a fraction of the time.
But with Nigeria pulling out, questions are being raised over just how achievable it really is.
The vision is a free trade deal encompassing 1.2 billion people stretching from Cape Town to Cairo.
Goods, services and perhaps labour, flowing freely in and out of more than 50 African countries.
It could create tens of thousands of jobs and significantly reduce unemployment among the continent’s youthful population.
It’ll boost trade between African countries and would be instrumental in moving the whole continent away from the narrative of simply being a place where the powerhouse economies of the West and East come to get their raw materials.
Many African governments, naturally, are keen. So, expect lots of fanfare when African leaders gather in the Rwandan capital, Kigali this week to sign the agreement.
The South African department of trade and industry says it’s “committed to a co-ordinated strategy to boost intra-Africa trade and to build an integrated market in Africa that will see a market of over a billion people with a GDP of approximately $2.6 trillion (£1.85tn) “.
And Kenya’s trade ministry says it’ll not only create a massive liberalised market, but will also “enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level, enhance value addition of products and exploit economies of scale and optimum utilization of resource”.
But the deal has already hit its first hurdle, before it’s even been signed.
Nigeria announced at the weekend that President Muhammadu Buhari will not attend the ceremony in Kigali. In a statement, the Nigerian government said that “certain key stakeholders in Nigeria indicated that they had not been consulted, for which reasons they had some concerns on the provisions of the treaty”.
Those key stakeholders are both Nigeria’s business community and its trade unions. The trade unions are thought to be particularly concerned about a free trade area, given that it could develop into a much more integrated body, which would see the free movement of workers across borders, providing a possible threat to Nigerian jobs.
The fact that Africa’s largest economy won’t be at the launch has placed a dampener on proceedings and a question mark over the entire project’s viability.
Even if all parties do eventually agree to sign a free trade treaty, that is simply where the real work begins. After the ink dries and the officials have all gone home, how quickly can such an agreement to put into practice? When will it make a difference on the ground? Until a business can move its goods from any country in the Free Trade Area to any another almost as if borders don’t exist the proclamations on paper will count for very little.
Under a free trade area agreement, all the African signatory countries would have to agree to reduce the trade tariffs and import quotas between each other and boost intra-African trade.
Generally speaking, it’s the first stage of closer economic co-operation with a view to possible integration. The next stage would be a customs union, where each country would have the same tariffs with the outside world and low or no tariffs between each other.
Then comes a common market, where goods, services and labour move tariff and quota-free between the countries and the bloc has a common trade relationship with the rest of the globe. Further integration involves political union and a unifying single currency.
A big ask
All of this took the European Union more than 50 years to establish following the Second World War. Some integration already exists in Africa – the East African Community and the Southern Africa Customs Union are examples.
But for a continent-wide free trade area to really work there has to be significantly more cross-border trade within Africa. This is currently a challenge, as most African countries tend to trade more with the outside world than they do with their fellow African states. Indeed, intra-African trade accounts for about 16% of the total – in Asia that figure is 51% and in Europe it rises to 70%.
Another challenge is the sheer size of Africa – not just geographically, but also in terms of the number of countries that need to sign up and ratify the free trade area agreement. When the European integration process started in the early 1950s, just six countries were involved.
More than 60 years later, the European Union has 28 members. Africa has 54 countries. So, implementation and co-ordination are key. For a start, the parliaments of the all the countries need to ratify it. How long those political wheels take to turn is anybody’s guess.
The African Free Trade Area is a big task and, in a way, a big ask. But if it’s the first tentative steps toward greater economic ties and trade within Africa, the continent’s citizens will feel its benefits.
How quickly that happens depends on the enduring enthusiasm, focus and determination of the leaders who pen the deal.
MAN lauds Buhari’s stand on AfCFTA, says FG should not sign the agreement
ABUJA, Nigeria, March 21, 2018/ — The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) (www.ManufacturersNigeria.org) on Wednesday strongly supported the move by the Federal Government on its refusal to sign the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The Manufacturers Association frowned at the contents of the agreement, noting that it will lead to gross unemployment in the country as most manufacturing companies in the country will be made to die a quicker death.
The Association President, Dr. Frank Jacobs said his association would not support Federal Government’s adoption and ratification of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) until issues of market access and enforcement of rules of origin are addressed.
According to MAN, the agitation from the private sector was a result of lack of consultation and inclusion of inputs of key stakeholders before Nigeria’s position was presented at the meetings of the African Union-Technical Working Group on CFTA in the build-up to AfCFTA negotiation by Nigeria.
The AfCTA is expected to create a trade bloc of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion. The agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90% of goods and to liberalize services.
MAN President, Dr. Frank Jacobs
Addressing journalists yesterday, Association of Manufacturers President, Dr. Frank Jacobs explained that the issues of market access that allows only 10 percent of products to be protected as well as government’s enforcement mechanism in the area of enforcement of rules of origin need to be clearly defined before local producers can support the agreement.
Noting that MAN is not oblivious of the benefits inherent in installing a continental trade agreement like AfCFTA that could improve intra-African trade and enhance economic growth and sustainable development, Jacobs said that Nigeria’s national interest should however be the primary consideration in the decision to sign-on to such an arrangement.
In his recommendations, Jacobs urged the government to set in motion a process that will enable all stakeholders on the international trade value chain in Nigeria to quickly review the text of the draft AfCFTA agreement and come up with comments on areas that are not in the best interest of the Nigerian economy and sectors.
“Government should, as matter of urgency, convene a special meeting of the relevant stakeholders, including experts on trade policy to consider tariff lines rates along the line of efficiency, sectoral and sub-sectoral preferences that would be most beneficial to Nigerian businesses under the AfCFTA dispensation as well as reconsider the national position on EPA vis-a-vis the AfCFTA especially on tariff lines of products on the sensitive/exclusion list, with a view to ensuring that the EU-EPA is not reintroduced through the AfCFTA’s back door.
“Review presentations and prepare a detailed submission for the Government on ways and means of participating in the AfCFTA in a manner that our national interest and that of the budding manufacturing sector are effectively protected”, he added.
Holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco have pulled debutants AS Port of Togo in the Confederation of African Football’s Champions League draws.
They are in Group C with 2016 winners Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and Horoya of Guinea.
Record winners Al Ahly of Egypt are in Group A alongside Esperance of Tunisia.
This group also includes debutants Uganda’s Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) and Botswana’s Township Rollers.
Congolese giants TP Mazembe are in Group B with former winners Algeria’s Entente Setif.
Mouloudia Alger of Algeria, Difaa El Jadidi of Morocco are also in this same group.
In Group D, Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia will face Angola’s Primeiro de Agosto, Zesco United of Zambia, as well as newcomers Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland.
The group phases will kick off on the weekend of 6-8 May.
Champions League groups:
Group A: Al Ahly (Egypt), Township Rollers (Botswana), KCCA (Uganda), Esperance de Tunis (Tunisia)
GROUP B: TP Mazembe (DR Congo), Mouloudia Alger (Algeria), Difaa El Jadidi (Morocco), Entente Setif (Algeria)
Group C: AS Port of Togo (Togo), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa), Wydad Casablanca (Morocco), Horoya (Guinea)
Group D: Zesco United (Zambia), Primeiro de Agosto (Angola), Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia), Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland)
Caf also held draws for the Confederation Cup play-offs.
Zanaco (Zambia) v Raja Casablanca (Morocco), AS Vita Club (DR Congo) v CS la Mancha (Congo), Saint George (Ethiopia) v Cara Brazzaville (Congo), Al Hilal (Sudan) v Akwa Utd (Nigeria), Gor Mahia (Kenya) v SuperSport Utd (South Africa), UD Songo (Mozambique) v Al Hilal Obied (Sudan), Plateau Utd (Nigeria) v USM Alger (Algeria), Wits (South Africa) v Enyimba (Nigeria), Aduana Stars (Ghana) v Fosa Juniors (Madagascar), Young Africans (Tanzania) v Welayta Dicha (Ethiopia), Generation Foot (Senegal) v Renaissance Berkane (Morocco), Mounana (Gabon) v Al Masry (Egypt), ASEC Mimosas (Ivory Coast) v CR Belouizdad (Algeria), Williamsville (Ivory Coast) v Deportivo Niefang (Equatorial Guinea), Mountain of Fire and Miracles (Nigeria) v Djoliba (Mali), Rayon Sports (Rwanda) v Costa do Sol (Mozambique)
President Muhammadu Buhari’s 12th hour decision to snub the African Union Extra-ordinary summit on the endorsement of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), in Kigali, March 20 – 22 is a diplomatic blunder. The excuse that has been offered is not convincing, the management of the entire episode is untidy. Simple courtesies matter in diplomacy, unpredictability, surprise and ambush may be good tactics on the battlefield but they could be costly in the much finer arena of diplomacy. I want to assume that President Buhari was misadvised. Standards have fallen generally in our foreign policy management process, and they have done so much more rapidly in the last three years, for both seen and unseen reasons, but I did not imagine that we could descend this low as to begin to play pranks with some of the major planks of Nigeria’s foreign policy framework. President Buhari should have been in Kigali on March 21 to sign the AfCFTA document and participate in the deliberations.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is probably the most historic, epoch-making development since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which later became the African Union (AU) in 2002. It is also probably the biggest trade agreement since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and a concrete, provable culmination of the goals of African Renaissance and Afro-optimism. It should be noted that Nigeria was part of this process from the very beginning. In 1981, Nigeria was the host of an economic summit organized by the OAU, the very first of such summits. It took place in Lagos under the Shagari government. The outcome was the Lagos Plan of Action on African economic development. In the 90s, at least three African leaders were in the forefront of what became known as the African Renaissance – South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and Libya’s Muammar Ghadaffi – using the platform of the OAU/AU, and the co-operation and support of both the African and Western intelligentsia.
African Renaissance is about rebirth and the transformation of Africa. It is also about integration at various levels: security, peace, stability, development and co-operation as captured in the Kampala Document of 1991. There was indeed so much talk at the time about Africa, being the “last frontier” that needed to be developed. This vision of a transformed Africa resulted in the introduction of policy actions and structures including the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the New Africa Initiative (NAI), the Abuja Treaty (1991) and the idea of an African Economic Community (AEC). Much of this may have been inspired by developments in this direction in the West – the European Union for example, and the Washington Consensus, but it was all within the context of developing Africa’s capacity to compete, integrate, co-operate and advance into the future. The AfCFTA is a product of that process and probably the most important harvest.
African Heads of Government agreed to it in 2012 and started negotiations in 2015. It is a trade liberalization policy to remove barriers that have hitherto hindered intra-African trade. Those barriers made Africa majorly a collection of closed communities, trading with Europe, Asia and the United States, and doing little trading among themselves. Under the AfCFTA, African leaders seek to increase intra-African trade from 14% to 52% by 2022. Its main features include the removal of tariffs on goods (up to 90%), reduction of delays at borders, liberalization of services, job creation and the expansion of opportunities available to the people. At first flush, there is no doubt that the AfCFTA could lead to the eventual realization of the AU Agenda 2063 – “the African we want”- a 12-flagship-projects programme, which includes a Single African Air Transport Market, free movement of people and a common currency.
Nigeria was actively involved in all these negotiations leading to the preparation of an enabling legal framework for continental free trade; such was the level of our commitment that the country in fact lobbied to have the AfCFTA secretariat situated in Abuja. So, at what point did Nigeria transform from being conveners to boycotters of this strategic initiative? It will be recalled that on March 14, the AfCFTA framework was reportedly presented for consideration at the Federal Executive Council and it was endorsed. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment later addressed the State House Press Corps to announce Nigeria’s enthusiasm and commitment to the AfCFTA. By Friday, the country’s delegation to the AU Extra-ordinary Summit on the AfCFTA was already on its way to Kigali, and this included the President’s advance team. The State House even issued a statement announcing the President’s trip to Kigali. Then all of a sudden, on Sunday, March 18, the country was informed that the President’s trip to Kigali had been cancelled “to allow time for broader consultations” – with stakeholders who had objected to Nigeria signing the AfCFTA document.
There is something untidy here. The Federal Executive Council, or the Executive Council of the Federation as it is known to the Constitution, is the highest decision-making body of the Federal Government. At what point did it meet to reverse the decision it had taken on the AfCFTA on Wednesday, March 14? When did the stakeholders make their positions known to government and what was the manner of communication, to command an express, weekend cancellation of a planned Presidential trip that had already been announced and initiated? And at what point were the objections considered? Was there even any input from the relevant Ministries: Foreign Affairs, Budget and National Planning, and Industry, Trade and Investment?
The identity of the complainants was soon revealed; members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), particularly the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) who claimed that Nigeria would be overwhelmed by business from outside under AfCFTA; Nigerian airline operators, the same owners of those flying coffins whose doors disengage on impact, whose tyres are so worn-out they sometimes can’t land on the tarmac, yes, they too claim Nigeria should not sign up to any open skies agreement, and then of course the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) whose leaders reportedly dismissed the AfCFTA as “a renewed extremely dangerous and radioactive neoliberal policy initiative.” It is common practice for certain stakeholders to object to ideas and policies. The controversy over WTO agreements and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a famous example. In Africa, also, there were objections to NEPAD and the African Peer Review Mechanism by some African leaders. But one point is that the AU is not only for governments, it is also a platform for African business stakeholders, NGOs, and the civil society in general. Nigeria’s OPS, MAN and NLC did not have to wait till the last minute. They have had more than 3 years to engage the Nigerian government. And could it in fact be that the Nigerian Government never bothered to consult these stakeholders?
Nonetheless, their objections do not provide enough reason for a Nigerian boycott of the AU extra-ordinary summit in Kigali. Instead, they provide a justification for Nigeria’s presence. Nigeria’s absence is an assault on the integrity of its fundamental foreign policy objectives. Africa is the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy process, beginning with our immediate neighbours in the West African sub-region. For this reason, Nigeria has always been in the forefront of major events, conversations and developments in the continent. Our absence at such a landmark event as the Kigali summit is an abdication of leadership and responsibility. Other African countries may for a season, no longer trust Nigeria: to commit to a process so robustly, only to chicken out at the last minute on account of blackmail by recovering socialists, protectionists and anti-trade lobbyists – that is not the way of Nigerian diplomacy or international best practice.
I assume that the boycott is based on the wrong presumption that the AfCFTA takes immediate effect and it is binding immediately it is launched and signed by Heads of Government. Where are the Africa experts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA)? Is anyone still consulting them or they just now go to the office to drink tea? What is signed at the Kigali Summit is the Legal Framework for the Trade agreement. The number of countries that would ratify the agreement to kick it into effect as at the time of this writing has not even been determined: 15, 22, 37 or a figure in-between or more. After signing up to it, each country will further ratify the agreement by way of domestication, and there is room for further negotiations, which could still go on for years, over matters that may be considered “sensitive.” Some of these “sensitive” issues have already been identified including the establishment of dispute resolution mechanisms, the prevention of dumping, intellectual property and copyright issues, rules-based considerations with regard to removal of tariffs, anti-trust considerations and the protection of countries with little or no production capabilities, to mitigate the effect of uneven benefits, and to ensure fairness, justice and protection of human rights.
South Africa, for example, has raised concerns about the proposed free movement of persons, but the South African President has not boycotted the Summit, instead he says he has “his pen on the ready.” He has signed the Kigali declaration. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is not attending the Summit but he has sent his Minister of Foreign Affairs to represent him and he issued a statement expressing commitment to the Trade agreement. Uganda has since signed. Tanzania says the Tanzania parliament will debate the agreement, but meanwhile, Tanzania has signed. So far, here is the final tally as at close of business on March 21: AfCFTA – 44 countries, Kigali Declaration – 43 countries; Protocol on Free Movement of People – 27 countries. Nigeria’s absence is definitely an embarrassing boycott. Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs may be in Kigali but he and his team have no mandate to engage in any negotiations, our President, the country’s chief diplomat, having said he needs more time for “broader consultations.” This so-called consultation is precisely what the Kigali summit is all about. Nigeria or any of the other 54 countries does not have any veto power over AU decisions. The rest of Africa can choose to go ahead on this matter without Nigeria and if that happens, we would still not be in a position to stop the globalization and liberalization process or sabotage “Africa’s Common Position”.
The irony that is lost on Abuja is that in fact Nigeria needs the AfCFTA more than any other African country. Nigeria has the largest market and population. The country and its people stand to benefit more especially at the level of services and SMEs. There are more Nigerians than any other group of Africans trading across the continent- in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, South Africa, Gabon, Cameroon, Sao Tome, Equitorial Guinea – our people are everywhere. Out of about the 300 shops or so in Sao Tome’s main market, about 200 of those shops are owned by Nigerians. The spare parts business in Angola is in the hands of Nigerians. Nigerian technocrats and businessmen dominate the services sector in The Gambia. There are over one million Nigerians doing business in Cote d’Ivoire. There are Nigerian banks and insurance companies across Africa, even as far as Kigali. The Dangote group has factories in 14 African countries.
In all of these places, the Nigerian trader or businessman is not particularly well-liked. He is subjected to high tariffs, his shops are raided, and as is the case in South Africa, Nigerians are attacked for making more money and for attracting local girls. A Continental Free Trade Agreement could put an end to this. It will also make it possible for airlines like Ethiopian airline or Rwandair or Kenyan Airways to operate domestic flights inside Nigeria, and perhaps make it possible for Africans to travel directly within the continent instead of a Nigerian having to travel first to Europe before accessing countries like Sao Tome and Equitorial Guinea which are less than 30 minutes away from the Nigerian coastline. Many Nigerians would rather choose efficiency over the opposite. The gain would be the creation of more jobs and opportunities. The competition that will result will compel Nigerian businesses to raise the level of their game. The AfCFTA will not kill Nigerian businesses as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria ignorantly claims. A more inclusive Africa is the pathway to a transformed Africa. Nigeria gives aid to many African countries, for which it gets little in return; under an AfCFTA dispensation, Nigeria can give those aid-dependent countries, trade not aid.
Nigeria must be greatly missed at the Kigali AU Summit. From the pictures that I have seen, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is the most prominent Nigerian on ground at that historic event but even he is not in a position to do any damage control; he is there in his own right as a global statesman and as one of the founding fathers of the AfCFTA initiative. Beyond all the country and issues-related arguments above, let me add this: President Muhammadu Buhari has a personal reason to be in Kigali. At the AU summit in Addis Ababa in January, he was honoured by the AU Commission as a champion of the anti-corruption campaign in Africa. It is worth stating that the AU battle cry for 2018 is actually this: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”. Africa is discussing an integrity framework for the continent’s transformation in Kigali, and the AU’s honoured and recognized integrity champion is back home in Abuja, having “broader consultations”! Enough said.
The directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to all security agencies to do everything possible to secure the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls, who were abducted 19 Feb. 2018, has yielded fruits, with the confirmed release of 101 of the 110 abducted students in the early hours of Wednesday.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the 101 are those who have been documented so far, adding that the release of the abducted students is ongoing.
The number of the Dapchi schoolgirls who were released on Wednesday has increased from 76 to 101, with the documentation of more of the freed girls by the insurgent group.
The Minister said the number could still increase, as the documentation of the freed girls is ongoing.
The Minister said the girls were released around 3 a.m. through back-channel efforts and with the help of some friends of the country, and that it was unconditional.
”For the release to work, the government had a clear understanding that violence and confrontation would not be the way out as it could endanger the lives of the girls, hence a non-violent approach was the preferred option.
”Within the period when the girls were being brought back, operational pause was observed in certain areas to ensure free passage and also that lives were not lost,” he said.
However, Sahara Reporters reported that five of the girls are dead as the insurgent group reportedly returned all kidnapped DapchiGirls girls back to Dapchi township in Yobe.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg meets Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, Nigeria, on September. Mark Zuckerberg’s African tour
Anyone who has been on the internet since last Friday at one point or the other must have come across news pieces focusing on a firm called Cambridge Analytica or the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook scandal. It’s not always the case that most internet users’ click on news with a special focus on firms or people they aren’t familiar with or in faraway places. However, the trending Cambridge Analytica scandal should be a concern for everyone regardless of location.
Why is the Cambridge Analytica scandal a big deal for everyone including Africans?
Everyone must be gravely concerned about the ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal because it affects each one of us directly and has influenced or possess the influence to alter our lives significantly. Firstly, the scandal occurred in the form of data mining by private firms on unsuspecting social media users (specifically Facebook but can also apply to other social media platforms). As most of us are social media users, this means it can affect or has already affected us.
Secondly, the scandal is a political machination meant at influencing the political outcome in elections, thus threatening the notion of democracy of free, fair, and credible elections. Something that affects us all.
Understanding the Cambridge Analytica in brief
Cambridge Analytica is a political data analysis firm operating in the US; it’s a subsidiary of Strategic Communications Laboratory, a London based company. Cambridge Analytica is accused of mining social media profiles and using the information to influence the elections.
The journey did not start with Cambridge Analytica, rather a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge called Dr. Aleksandra Kogan started it all, working separately from the Cambridge University of course. Kogan created an app, thisisyourdigitallife whose aim was to identify personalities of social media users and derive their behaviour. Kogan managed to get consent from 270 000 Facebook users for his app.
At some point during that time, Kogan found a loophole in Facebook and he was able to exploit it in the process increasing his app’s user base from 270 000 to 5 million (270 000 users voluntarily downloaded the app but Kogan managed to pilfer over 50 million profiles as the default terms of his agreement with Facebook enabled his app to gather data from the friends of the users who had voluntarily downloaded the app).
It is at this time that Kogan took his app and idea to Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell, two other psychologists who worked at Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre and had their own personality app called mypersonality developed in 2007. In 2013, Michael Kosinski and David Stillwell together with fashion forecasting Ph.D. student named Christopher Wylie started Cambridge Analytica after Christopher Wylie had approached Michal and David with a proposition to use mypersonality as a precursor to political behaviour.
Cambridge Analytica quickly took on Kogan’s thisisyourlife app together with its 5 million users. Kogan surrendered the app to Cambridge Analytica afterward, however news quickly reached Facebook that Kogan had exploited a loophole in Facebook’s operations and was able to mine data of 5 million users. Facebook instructed Kogan and Cambridge Analytica to stop mining the data; Cambridge Analytica refused as reported by Rolling Stone.
Cambridge Analytica’s influence in US elections
According to the Dallas News and the Guardian, Ted Cruz was the first US presidential candidate to have used the services of Cambridge Analytica in 2013. He, however, has issued a statement saying that the firm assured him at the time that its voter methods were legit.
Cambridge Analytica was however, more involved in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump as it was the main digital campaign trail. Cambridge Analytica used its Facebook data to combine voter records and other sources and develop targeted and personalised advertising. The firm also mapped out the areas where the candidate (Trump) should visit to garner most votes.
Cause for concern for Africa
The Cambridge Analytica scandal comes in the same year that 20 African countries are going to hold national elections. Though Cambridge Analytica’s influence is limited to the West according to evidence thus far, it’s possible that its activities may well have reached Africa. Even if this is not the case, there is the possibility that another firm that uses identical methods to Cambridge Analytica may well have some operations in Africa.
In order for Africa to protect itself from such firms that prey on unsuspecting social media users, it’s important to know how they go about their operations so that effective counter-strategies can be formulated. The first method as reported that Cambridge Analytica commonly used was to trace one’s Facebook history, almost all the activities one does on Facebook was used to create a pattern of behaviour; ‘likes’ determined someone’s preferences i.e. liberal or conservative. Age, sex, and precise location also including the type of cosmetic or food you enjoy were all used to narrow down one’s preferences. This very same information was also used to create targeted and personalised advertising that swayed voters to the preferred candidate.
It’s probably difficult for the general populace to know if such firms are part of a country’s election especially in the absence of strong investigative journalism. However, that does not mean such firms have power over social media users, you can protect yourself, your vote and also your country by keeping your social media data secure and safe by among other things being more alert on the data you share with external websites and apps.
If you have allowed several websites and apps permission to use your Facebook data in the past, you can follow the steps below to check the apps and sites with permission to your Facebook data so you remove those that feel and look suspicious.
Click the downward pointing arrow in the top right-hand corner.
In the sidebar on the left, select ‘Apps’
Tap the icon with the three horizontal lines
Scroll down and select ‘Settings’
Then ‘Account Settings’
Scroll down and select ‘Apps’
Tap ‘Logged in with Facebook’ to see all of the services accessing your account.
File: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday strongly punted the idea of creating a single homogeneous currency for African countries in a bid to attract infrastructure investment and enable ease of intra-African trade.
Speaking as a panelist on financing intra-Africa trade at the African Continental Free Trade Area business forum in Kigali, Rwanda, Ramaphosa said that it was time that Africa stops relying on foreign currency for its development and trade, adding that this was born of colonial mentality.
“These are the reasons we need partners who must work with us and assist us ensure we de-risk projects in order to attract finance for infrastructure projects. I am particularly interested in the notion of us having a tradeable currency that allows us to trade effectively across territorial borders,” Ramaphosa said.
“We must rid ourselves of this colonial mentality that demands we rely on other people’s currency. Perhaps the day, the hour and the moment could have arrived for us to create a single African currency. Our focus should not be on our individual countries but the continent as a whole to unlock great opportunities and capabilities.”
At least 53 African Heads of States have gathered in Kigali for the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the AU to consider the legal instruments of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) and also launch the agreement officially to establish the treaty.
AfCTA is aimed at deepening African economic integration, promoting agricultural development, food security, industrialisation and structural economic transformation through single-air continental transport market with free movement of persons, capital, goods and services.
Ramaphosa said that the AfCFTA signals a new beginning for Africa and an opportunity to unleash African people’s entrepreneurial nature, adding that the treaty would create a level playing field for African countries to participate in meaningful trade.
“Earlier today, I met with His Excellency President Kagame. We have agreed that we will put the relationship between our two countries on a much better footing. Amongst the issues we discussed, was that we must resolve the challenge of issuing of visa to people of Rwanda wanting to visit South Africa,” Ramaphosa said.
“Our Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation have been tasked to work on this immediately and we thus consider this matter of visas as solved.”
Sponsors announced for the inaugural Africa Investment Rising’s four-city U.S. Roadshow Tour to Spur Trade and Investment in Africa
WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 20, 2018 – The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) announced today its lineup of sponsors and partners for its four-city U.S. Roadshow Tour, taking place from April 18 – May 1, 2018, to spur bold action on increasing U.S. trade and investment in Africa.
African and U.S. CEOs and senior executives from sector-leading companies and investors are invited to participate in the U.S. roadshow’s multi-city series of site visits, panel discussions, and speed networking among investors and business leaders to spur greater U.S. investment in Africa.
Launching the U.S. roadshow in Washington, D.C on April 18 with an evening reception to kick off the U.S. Roadshow Tour on Capitol Hill.
A high-level morning session on April 19 will focus on U.S. financing of businesses operating in Africa. A Private Sector Engagement Forum, to be held on the afternoon of Thursday, April 19, will bring together development actors — USAID officials, African government officials and representatives from the private sector and civil society — for an action-oriented discussion on building successful public-private partnerships to promote sustainable development and economic prosperity on the continent.
The roadshow tour will then travel to New York City to highlight banking, financing, and investment opportunities; Des Moines, IA for agriculture and agro-industry; and Houston, TX for energy and power.
“It has never been a better time for trade and investment in Africa,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcoych, President and CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD). “We’re excited about launching the U.S. roadshow tour to showcase the continent’s economic potential. Expanding trade and investment will enable both U.S. and African companies to scale and tap into new markets, leading to mutually beneficial job creation and greater economic prosperity. It’s a win-win.”
Sponsorship opportunities are still available and IGD will announce additional sponsors and media partners on an ongoing basis. For information contact, Lara Bangs, Manager of Corporate Events, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.aircampaign.org
The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a Washington, DC-based network of African and global business leaders who are committed to advancing sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa through business investment. IGD brings together CEOs and senior executives from leading African and global companies through our Frontier Leader Network to catalyze greater business investment and impact on the African continent.
The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES) offers four distinct two-year Master programs
The PAUWES Class of 2017 celebrates at their graduation ceremony on 29 October 2017 at the University of Tlemcen
TLEMCEN, Algeria, March 20, 2018/ — The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES) (http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz) in Algeria contributes to promoting higher education and applied research in the fields of water, energy and climate change – a key contribution to sustainable development in Africa. The admissions process for its Master programs in water and energy (both engineering and policy tracks) starting in September 2018 is now open. All AU citizens (including diaspora) are encouraged to apply, particularly women and candidates from Southern, Central, and Northern Africa.
Building a prosperous and stable Africa calls for a new generation of African leaders capable of and committed to facing the vast challenges of the continent. These challenges include water scarcity, renewable energy, and climate change. The Pan African University (PAU) (https://PAU-AU.net), a key initiative of the African Union Commission, is dedicated to this mission. The Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES) is hosted by the University of Tlemcen in Algeria. Since its establishment in 2014, over 200 students from 31 countries across Africa have enrolled, and 73 students have been successfully graduated from its programs. “PAUWES is a prototype of the Africa of tomorrow, for which we are laying the foundations,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, during his official visit to PAUWES on 11 March 2018. PAUWES benefits from the support of the Algerian government and the German Development Cooperation.
Today, PAUWES offers four distinct two-year Master programs. Students striving to be future engineers have the choice between the Master of Science (MSc) in Water Engineering and the MSc in Energy Engineering. Students interested in policy-making and governance can choose between the MSc in Water Policy and Energy Policy. The language of instruction is English, and students have the opportunity to study French at the onset of the program. PAUWES students come from all over Africa, which creates a unique possibility to study in a multicultural environment of highly motivated and engaged peers.
Current PAUWES students greet Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, during his official visit to the Institute on 11 March 2018
PAUWES strives to balance theory and practice through international internships, case studies, and field trips. To provide the students with specific technical skills in their field of interest, PAUWES offers electives (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energies, water and sanitation, integrated water resource management, policy analysis or leadership). Graduates benefit from career pathways in public administration, policy-making, research, private enterprise, consulting and civil society. Access to the Institute’s international expert network, research partnerships, career-promotion programs and forthcoming entrepreneurship centre further boosts graduates’ profiles.
Under the framework of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, PAUWES places a special emphasis on recruiting and empowering female students. The Institute facilitates women-focused networking events and workshops. To further develop its vision of diversity, PAUWES also encourages applicants with disabilities and candidates from under-represented regions (Southern Africa, Central Africa, Northern Africa) to apply. All PAUWES students receive full scholarships (covering tuition and living expenses) following a competitive admission process.
Interested students are invited to apply until 20 April 2018 under the following link: https://PAU-AU.net/apply
About Pan African University
In 2008, the African Union Commission (AUC) set up the Pan African University (PAU) (https://PAU-AU.net) to strengthen higher education and research in areas that pose particular challenges for Africa. PAU addresses five thematic areas: Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation; Life and Earth Sciences (including Health and Agriculture), Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences; Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES); and Space Sciences. The thematic areas are assigned to five flagship institutes hosted by existing universities of excellence across Africa’s five geographic regions. For more information: https://PAU-AU.net
As an integral part of the Pan African University, the Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (including Climate Change) (PAUWES) (http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz) in Tlemcen, Algeria, contributes to advancing higher education and applied research in the fields of water, energy and climate change – a key contribution to sustainable development in Africa. PAUWES, which is supported by the host country of Algeria and the German government, currently offers four Master programs in the fields of water and energy, covering both engineering and policy. For more information: http://PAUWES.univ-tlemcen.dz
The Government of Ghana has approved an agreement with the United States of America to set up a military base in Ghana and also allow unrestricted access to a host of facilities and wide-ranging tax exemptions to the United States Military.
A document intercepted by panafricanvisions.com on the agreement, said the US military will use Ghana as a base to deploy its soldiers. US Military personnel may also “possess and carry arms in Ghana, while on duty if authorized to do so, by their orders, such authorization being made in consultation with the appropriate authorities of Ghana. Military personnel may wear their uniforms while performing official duties.”
According to the document, “United States Contractors shall not be liable to pay tax or similar charge assess within Ghana in connection with this agreement”. The US military is also authorized to control entry to the facilities meant for the exclusive use of their forces.
“This Agreement sets forth a framework for enhanced partnership and security cooperation between the Parties with the aims of strengthening their defense relationship further and addressing shared security challenges in the region, including those relating to the protection of Government personnel and facilities.
“This Agreement clarifies access to and use of agreed facilities and areas by United States forces, thereby facilitating training, including to maintain unit readiness, combined exercises, and other
military engagement opportunities.
“United States forces may undertake the following types of activities in Ghana: training; transit: support and related activities; refueling of aircraft; landing and recovery of aircraft, accommodation of personnel; communications; staging and deploying of forces and materiel: exercises; humanitarian and disaster relief; and other activities as mutually agreed.
The agreement adds that Military personnel and civilian personnel may enter and exit Ghana with United States Government-furnished identification (for military personnel, an identification card and collective movement or individual travel orders, and for civilian personnel, a passport and official orders.
According to the agreement approved by Cabinet last week, “Ghana hereby provides unimpeded access to and use of agreed facilities and areas to United State forces, United States contractors, and others as mutually agreed. Such agreed facilities and area: or portions thereof, provided by Ghana shall be designated as either for exclusive use by Unite States forces or to be jointly used by United States forces and Ghana. Ghana shall also provide access to and use of a runway that meets the requirements of United States forces.
The agreement adds that the United States forces are hereby authorized to control entry to agreed “facilities and areas that having been provided for exclusive use by United States forces, and to coordinate entry with the authorities of Ghana at agreed facilities and areas provided for joint use by United States force and Ghana, for purposes of safety and security.
Ghana’s Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul strongly defended the decision by cabinet to give the United States Military unimpeded access to and use of agreed facilities and areas in Ghana.
According to him, reports that cabinet has given approval for the United States military to set up a base in Ghana is untrue and that the agreement is meant to be a “partnership in fighting terrorism to make us prepared, partnership in training our peace keepers, partnership in building the capacity of our soldiers.”
Over the next two years, he said “they (Americans) are going to spend over $20 million “providing training to Ghanaian soldiers in grants.
“So all that they have asked for is that in going with this kind of training and partnering Ghana to secure our own environment, they will be using a lot of things that they will bring in and so they need some facilities at the airport to be able to keep these things and so we have agreed with them that these are the facilities that you can use. That is what we called the agreed facilities,” Mr. Nitiwul said in the wake of a leaked document detailing how the cabinet of the West African country has approved an agreement for the World’s super power to set up a military base in Ghana.
“…We should be grateful to the Americans for spending their hard earned resources to come and upgrade our soldiers,” the minister added, stressing that, “There is nothing like a military base…and [that] the Americans are not setting up a military base [here].”
The son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi reportedly wants to run for president of the country in elections later this year.
The candidacy of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi — who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity — was announced by the Libyan Popular Front party on Monday, according to London’s Telegraph newspaper.
Saif al-Islam, 45, is currently in hiding. The political party said they would address the country about his plans.