Marriott International debuts First Hotel in West Africa with Sheraton Grand Conakry
December 13, 2016 | 0 Comments
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts , part of Marriott International, today announced the debut of Sheraton Grand in Africa with opening of Sheraton Grand Conakry , welcoming it to the brand’s premier tier of hotels recognized for their exciting destinations, distinguished designs, and excellence in service and guest experiences. The newly built hotel marks Marriott International’s entry into Guinea, West Africa and joins a portfolio of more than 35 Sheraton Grand properties worldwide, with destinations spanning Istanbul, Dubai, Bangalore, Beijing and beyond.
“Sheraton has a strong heritage in Africa that dates back to 1971,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “Over the last four decades, the brand has maintained its first mover advantage through strategic pipeline development and growth plans, giving global travelers access to more destinations in every corner of the globe. Sheraton Grand Conakry not only marks our entry into a new country, but will also create a halo effect for the brand and serve as a great example of our transformation efforts.”
Within easy reach from the international airport, Sheraton Grand Conakry is conveniently situated in Conakry’s up-and-coming trendy Kipe district. With an enviable ocean-front location, the hotel introduces modern, elegant design, signature brand programing and an elevated guest experience for business and leisure travelers in the heart of West Africa.
All 269 well-appointed guestrooms boast breathtaking ocean views, offering unmatched comfort and the Sheraton Signature Sleep Experience. Contemporary design and local touches blend to create a distinct and vibrant aesthetic. The 49 Sheraton Club rooms and suites offer exclusive access to the Sheraton® Club Lounge, a private space where guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast, drinks and snacks during the day. Leisure facilities include an extensive 300 square meter fitness center with cutting edge equipment available 24 hours a day, a luxurious infinity pool and an invigorating Shine Spa.
The hotel’s distinctive dining venues create an eclectic culinary voyage. The all-day dining restaurant, Feast, features Mediterranean flavors, Asian influences as well as modern interpretations of traditional Guinean cuisine. Guests can also indulge in homemade French pastries, freshly brewed coffee and juices at La Parisienne coffee shop and bakery. Overlooking the sea, Hot & Blue offers relaxed tapas and cocktails by the poolside. Sheraton’s inventive lobby bar menu concept, Paired, combines artisanal small plates with unexpected pairings served alongside suggested premium wines at the O2 Lounge.
With more than 1300 square meters of dedicated and unparalleled meeting space, Sheraton Grand Conakry features a lavishly appointed Grand Ballroom with state-of-the-art facilities and endless connectivity through high-speed Wi-Fi, along with 15 meeting rooms and a fully equipped business center. The hotel provides both choice and flexibility, making it an exclusive option for large scale business meetings, social events, weddings or even smaller intimate gatherings.
“We are proud to be the first Sheraton Grand in Africa and Indian Ocean, and to join the existing roster of esteemed hotels and resorts worldwide,” said Helga Deboeck, General Manager of Sheraton Grand Conakry. “We have worked diligently to ensure the hotel goes above and beyond to deliver a fresh, modern and memorable experience to our guests setting a new benchmark of service within West Africa.”
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts , part of Marriott International, Inc., makes it easy for guests to explore, relax and enjoy the possibilities of travel at more than 440 hotels in over 70 countries around the world. Sheraton continues to enhance the brand through innovative guest experience, differentiating design, multi-channel marketing and a sharp focus on service. Sheraton is proud to participate in the industry’s award-winning loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest®, in which members can link accounts with Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® for instant elite status matching and unlimited points transfer.
Marriott International, Inc. is the world’s largest hotel company based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with nearly 6,000 properties in 120 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts. The company’s 30 leading brands include: Bulgari Hotels and Resorts®, The Ritz-Carlton® and The Ritz-Carlton Reserve®, St. Regis®, W®, EDITION®, JW Marriott®, The Luxury Collection®, Marriott Hotels®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Renaissance® Hotels, Sheraton®, Delta Hotels by MarriottSM, Marriott Executive Apartments®, Marriott Vacation Club®, Autograph Collection® Hotels, Tribute Portfolio™, Design Hotels™, Gaylord Hotels®, Courtyard®, Four Points® by Sheraton, SpringHill Suites®, Fairfield Inn & Suites®, Residence Inn®, TownePlace Suites®, AC Hotels by Marriott®, Aloft®, Element®, Moxy Hotels®, and Protea Hotels by Marriott®. The company also operates award-winning loyalty programs: Marriott Rewards®, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest®.
Is Africa on Donald Trump’s radar?
November 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Alastair Leithead*
Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election means an uncertain future for Africa.
His rival Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a landslide – at least among those in Barack Obama’s ancestral village in western Kenya.
The mock poll in Kogelo gave Mr Trump just a quarter of the votes in a place he might not have heard of, were it not for his accusations that it was the outgoing president’s birthplace.
“The people of Kogelo are very much annoyed,” said one resident.
“Being a woman of great substance and Donald Trump being a reality show personality… Clinton should have won,” said one another.
But they would say that – President-elect Trump won’t get anything like the reception President Obama received last year when he came to Kenya.
He had strong connections here – his father was Kenyan – and he launched his Power Africa project, which aims to double the number of people with electricity across the continent.
President George W Bush brought the continent the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) – which provided millions of people with the drugs to help them fight HIV.
The US spends billions in Africa through aid and investment, but there is uncertainty over what Mr Trump will do, or even how much he knows about the continent.
“Trump has said very little about Africa – I don’t think he knows much about Africa,” said Jakkie Cilliers, chairman of the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), a think tank in South Africa.
“It is just not on his radar – it seems like he will be an insular president focused on US interests – in some sense, isolationist.”
He questioned what it might mean for Pepfar or the African Growth and Opportunities Act (known as Agoa – a hugely valuable American free trade deal with African countries), and efforts to tackle malaria.
“The fact he doesn’t know that much is perhaps our best protection,” said Mr Cilliers, only half joking.
Trump’s bulging in-box
The other key pillar of America’s involvement in Africa is security.
The US military footprint has slowly and secretly been spreading across the continent in reaction to radical Islamist militants.
There are drone bases and special forces troops watching, and acting against so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda linked groups across the continent.
The key things that need to be in the new President Trump’s Africa in-box include:
- Islamist militants and people-smugglers operating in the Sahel region of the southern Sahara desert who are moving weapons and migrants into Libya
- Somalia is struggling to become a functioning federal state – its stability is still plagued by al-Shabab militants who are only being held at bay by foreign forces and US drone strikes
- Ethiopia, the political and economic powerhouse in the Horn of Africa, is tackling its domestic troubles with a state of emergency and needs careful international diplomatic engagement
- China, Korea, Turkey and United Arab Emirates (UAE) are spreading their money and influence across Africa
- South Sudan’s continuing civil war is displacing thousands of people across the region who are now facing food shortages
- And more trouble could be on the horizon as presidents increasingly try clinging to power – the Democratic Republic of Congo election has just been postponed.
How America manages its approach to Africa could have a major impact on stability across the continent.
“Obama has done the US proud with his strategic approach,” said Mr Cilliers.
The ISS put out what he called a “tongue-in-cheek” article a day before the vote, asking what would a Trump presidency would mean for Africa.
“About a third of American foreign aid is directed at health programmes, and much of that at Africa,” ISS researcher Zachary Donnenfeld wrote.
“This means that any reduction in American foreign aid will have far-reaching effects on health outcomes on the continent.
“If Donald Trump were elected and implemented the foreign policy he campaigned on, he could become the single most-effective recruiting tool for terrorist organisations across the globe,” he added.
But with a shift from aid to investment, isn’t a businessman a good man to have at the helm?
Kenyan tech entrepreneur Mark Kamalu is not convinced.
“We have investments in US dollars and the first direct impact is the markets tank and that’s a worry from a business perspective,” he said.
“The rhetoric we have heard, the hard-line stance, the America first nationalism, the volatile and lose language makes everyone who is not white and American wonder where they stand.”
Some will welcome his conservative values on homosexuality and abortion, but there is a lot of uncertainty over what President Trump will mean to Africa.
Elected with little by way of policy, the continent will have to wait and see how much of what he said on the campaign trail will translate into action.
Trump’s tone resonates in strongman-weary Africa
November 3, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Julian Hattem*
KAMPALA, Uganda — Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has had surprising resonance in parts of Africa where people are weary of the political establishment and see the real estate mogul as a global force for change.
Despite famously pushing an “America first” foreign policy and appearing to show little interest in events outside the U.S., the Republican nominee for president is enjoying a strong amount of popularity in Uganda and other African nations a week out from Election Day.
Trump is also up against Hillary Clinton, a woman known on the international stage for more than two decades, most recently as a globetrotting secretary of State, and whose family foundation has helped to save millions from malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases — including many Africans.
Yet for many in and around this capital city, scattered across hills in the jungle of East Africa, Trump’s candidacy represents a strike against political dynasties and the established order that has kept strongmen such as their own president in power for decades. Trump’s tough rhetoric and a fake viral quote have boosted his appeal to many looking for a change.
“Trump has presented himself as a candidate that is anti-establishment, that he wants to turn around things and cause a revolution of some sort,” said Moses Khisa, a lecturer of political science at Northwestern University and columnist for a Ugandan newspaper.
Trump, Khisa said, is tapping into “the same fertile ground of disillusionment and anti-establishment sentiment” on both sides of the Atlantic.
To be sure, support for Trump is not unanimous.
One poll conducted in South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two largest economies, showed a marked distaste for Trump. According to the WIN/Gallup International Association poll, released in October, respondents in those two countries overwhelmingly preferred Clinton, 69 percent to 20.
Due to a paucity of polling, it’s difficult to get a full understanding of feelings about the presidential race across the continent. It’s also dangerous to make sweeping generalizations about the political preferences of more than 1.2 billion Africans.
Worldwide, data suggest that Clinton is the overwhelming favorite. A Pew Research Center surveyof countries in Europe and Asia found strong support for Clinton and deep distrust of Trump.
But Trump has certainly struck a chord among a sizable number of Africans, who see him as a rejection of the current system who nonetheless speaks in a recognizable vocabulary.
Last week, five activists here descended on the U.S. embassy to demonstrate in support of Trump, waving misspelled signs and hoping to gather media attention. Two were arrested and later charged with failing to give proper notice about their plans.
“Among the candidates for the presidents of America, he’s the only man who says that once he becomes the president of America, he will fight the dictators — all African dictators including Museveni,” one of the activists, Kizza Hakim, told a local TV station, referring to Uganda’s 72-year-old President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni has been in power since 1986, after helping to topple dictator Idi Amin, and has shown an increasingly autocratic bent in recent years.
Hakim appeared to be referring to a fake Trump quote that has circulated around East Africa, in which he supposedly promised to not “condone any dictatorial tendencies exhibited by dictators around the world, especially the two old men from Zimbabwe and Uganda.”
“[Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe and Museveni must be put on notice that their days are numbered and that I am going to arrest them and lock them in prison,” Trump is falsely quoted as saying. “If the past American administrations have failed to stop these two despots, I will personally do it.”
A Trump campaign spokeswoman confirmed that the quote is false.
However, it was nonetheless briefly picked up by media around the continent earlier this year and forced a retort from Museveni. Trump “has got enough work to do in U.S.,” the Ugandan president said, noting rates of American gun violence.
Those who speak highly of Trump in Africa describe the GOP nominee as an outsider willing to speak truth to power.
“Above all, his willingness to disregard political correctness makes the supporters feel he’s saying exactly what they really feel about issues, but they’re afraid to say it in public. In a way, he represents their hopes, fears and frustrations,” Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi, a columnist in Ghana, wroteearlier this year.
“Isn’t he the kind of person we need desperately in Ghanaian politics right now?”
Clinton, meanwhile, is seen by some as part of the political establishment that has helped run the U.S. for the last two decades.
Despite being of Kenyan heritage, President Obama’s legacy in Africa is somewhat mixed, especially when compared to former President George W. Bush’s aggressive efforts to combat HIV/AIDS through the PEPFAR program. Clinton’s association with Obama’s administration hasn’t made her universally adored across Africa.
Trump also embodies many of the “big man” stereotypes that have permeated African cultures.
“For me, as an African, there’s just something familiar about Trump that makes me feel at home,” “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, a South African native, quipped last October.
“Trump is basically the perfect African president.”
Throughout the campaign, Trump has railed on issues of globalization, China’s rising status, political cronyism and depressed economic opportunities. Many of those sentiments hit home in African countries that feel at the mercy of foreign powers, just as they do in parts of Europe that have experienced their own nationalist movements.
“One of the things that perhaps is a little bit of a paradox is that African populations often feel that their countries are slightly exploited by the West, therefore they support leaders domestically that stand up to people,” said Nic Cheeseman, a professor of politics and African studies at the University of Oxford. “And I think they may be looking to see someone like Trump and think that Trump is also trying to do the same thing for his country.”
“When Trump says he’s going to put some of those forces back in the box — even though he’s not talking about Africa, he’s talking about America — I think some of the African audiences hearing that would see a connection to their own battle against globalization, against multinationals,” he added.
Africa: Will Rwanda Support for Kenya’s AU Chair Nominee Tip the Scales?
October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Allan Olingo*
Rwanda is supporting Kenya’s nominee for the African Union Commission chair – Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed – but it remains to be seen which way Tanzania and Uganda will lean.
Ms Mohamed was proposed for the job by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who cited her credentials in diplomacy and exemplary performance in her current docket.
She has been Kenya’s ambassador/permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, and served as the assistant secretary general and deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi.
Ms Mohamed, who will be standing against candidates from the other regional blocs, stands a better chance of election if she gets support from all EAC member states.
Elections to replace Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is stepping down after one term to prepare for a stab at the South African presidency, will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January.
On Friday, a committee to vet candidates met in Addis Ababa.
Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo told The EastAfrican that her country would support Ms Mohamed, ruling out speculation that they would front the former president of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka or former EAC secretary general Richard Sezibera.
“She is the best woman for the job, and she is very much Rwanda’s candidate. She is highly qualified, has incredible diplomatic and managerial experience, and the right heart and mind when it comes to the strategic interests of our continent, as well as Africa’s active presence on the global scene,” Ms Mushikiwabo said.
Uganda’s International Relations State Ministry Permanent Secretary James Mugume said the country was yet to decide on whom to support, but would back the candidate the region agreed on between Kenya’s Ms Mohamed and Somalia’s Fowyiso Yusuf Haji Adan.
The nomination process for the chairperson was opened afresh after the AU Heads of State Summit in Kigali in July failed to elect a successor to South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who has been at the helm since 2012. At the Kigali summit, none of the three contenders for the position – Botswana’s Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, her counterpart from Equatorial Guinea Agapito Mba Mokuy and former vice president of Uganda Specioza Wandira Kazibwe – obtained the required two-thirds majority after seven rounds of voting.
Ms Mohamed is expected to battle it out with Mr Mokuy, Somalia’s Ms Adan and the July elections lead candidate Ms Moitoi. Uganda withdrew its nomination of former vice president Specioza Kazibwe after she did not make it among the top candidates.
The SADC trade bloc, has, however, maintained that it will forward Ms Moitoi’s name because Ms Zuma did not serve her second term. Mr Mokuy had portrayed himself as the Economic Community Of West African States (Ecowas) candidate, yet it was Senegal that instigated the 28 states to boycott the elections due to lack of “high calibre” candidates.
Mr Mokuy had sought the support of Nigeria, the West African economic powerhouse, and Kenya, with a special appeal from President Theodore Obiang Nguema.
Another likely candidate is Senegalese diplomat and politician Abdoulaye Bathily, who is currently the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Central Africa.
Chad’s President Idriss Deby, who currently holds the AU rotational leadership, is also believed to have put forth the name of his Foreign Minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who served as prime minister between 2003 and 2005, and who would present a second candidate for the Central African bloc.
South Africa is said to have great influence on the SADC countries. This week, South African President Jacob Zuma will be in Nairobi for a three-day state visit, and it is expected that President Kenyatta will use the opportunity to drum up support for Ms Mohamed.
In the July elections, South Africa supported Ms Moitoi. Then South Africa’s international relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the region would campaign with Botswana, and that South Africa was fully behind the SADC initiative. They have not come up with an alternative candidate.
Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal, which led the Ecowas campaign to postpone the election, have also been pushing for a candidate.
In May, Senegal’s President Macky Sall raised concerns about the candidates with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Senegalese diplomat and politician Abdoulaye Bathily who is currently the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Central Africa was presented as a candidate at the Kigali meeting, but was turned down because the nominations had closed.
In Mr Bathily, in particular, Ms Mohammed is likely to face a veteran of African politics with working experience in West and Central Africa, one whose participation in the Pan African Movement and socialist movements left him with contacts across the continent, including liberation movements in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola and South Africa.Additional reporting by Daniel Kalinaki and Edmund Kagire.
NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department to host key stakeholders’ coordination meeting on Abidjan-Lagos and other West African Corridors
September 23, 2016 | 0 Comments
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, September 21, 2016 – NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department has convened a two-day meeting on September 27-28, at the African Development Bank (AfDB) headquarters in Abidjan, with development partners, the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), government officials and representatives of customs and revenue authorities to discuss a more coordinated approach to the management of West African corridors.
The two-day event, jointly organized by the AfDB, ECOWAS, the Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) project, and the NPCA, seeks to bring together all stakeholders, financiers and technicians to help streamline views, review the latest corridor performance metrics and foster synergies and create a platform for better co-ordination and efficiency in West African Corridor development and management.
“This critical meeting is in line with the Bank’s commitment to promote efficient transport corridors in West Africa and support Africa’s regional integration agenda for inclusive economic growth. At the end of the meeting, we hope to be better equipped to improve the conditions of shippers, transporters and traders in West Africa when they engage in cross-border trade,” said Moono Mupotola, Director of the AfDB’s NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department.
The meeting will be structured around two key initiatives that aim at promoting dialogue between different stakeholders involved in the projects. The first day will be dedicated to the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor development led by the AfDB, the ECOWAS Commission and the NPCA, while discussions on the Day 2 will focus on the three corridors covered by the Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) project, namely Abidjan-Ouagadougou, Tema-Ouagadougou and Lomé-Ouagadougou.
The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor, a flagship project of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), is the busiest corridor in West Africa. The six-lane, 1,028-kilometre highway will connect Abidjan, Accra, Lomé, Cotonou and Lagos, while serving landlocked countries and ports in the region. The corridor is one of the main economic drivers of West Africa with over 75% of economic activities in the ECOWAS region and a total population of 35 million inhabitants.
Experts agree that support to regional trade and integration in West Africa is substantial but fragmented. The meeting is therefore timely to ensure that the approach to the development of corridors is coherent and inclusive of all key players.
Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) is an initiative funded by the Danish and Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs aiming to establish a durable, multi-donor vehicle dedicated to advancing regional integration, expanding trade and lowering costs along key trade routes in West Africa.
ATWA takes inspiration from East Africa, where eight development partners have pooled their support and established a single non-profit organisation working across the East African Community (EAC) to further its integration agenda. The organisation, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), is a technical partner of the ATWA Project.
The ATWA Project Team will present analysis detailing the performance of selected West African corridors for formal and informal traders, and seek input from participants as to what activities and programmes could be elaborated to improve the situation.
Given the veritable platform that it promises to be, the AfDB intends to take lead and continually play host to this coordination process in order to streamlining efforts and activities among development partners and other stakeholders in the region.
AfDB approves a US $2-million grant to Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau to fight the Zika virus outbreak
September 16, 2016 | 0 Comments
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, September 14, 2016 – The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) on September 8, 2016 in Abidjan, approved two grants of US $1 million each, to Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau as emergency assistance to support the implementation of National Preparedness and Response Plans to fight the Zika virus outbreak in the two countries.
The Board’s unanimous approval, demonstrates the Bank’s continuous commitment to supporting pandemic preparedness and building resilient health systems and communities on the continent. The support will be complementary to the Bank’s past and ongoing health systems strengthening efforts accompanying and working in coordination with other partners. The US $2-million grant will be implemented by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) and is expected to play a catalytic role in strengthening disease surveillance, vector control and tackling issues of environmental sanitation, in an approach which integrates the social, economic and environmental determinants of health.
The Bank’s support is timely as the Zika epidemic continues to spread. As of September 8, 2016, 72 countries have reported over 88,000 suspected cases of which 6,500 were confirmed. Given its presence in Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau, the WHO warns it is likely the outbreak will spread to the rest of Africa. Lessons learned from the Bank’s support to the Ebola outbreak, point to the need to respond in a timely and focused manner. The Bank was the first among the donor community to respond to the Ebola outbreak through 10 operations amounting to US $290 million. Overall the Bank’s intervention strengthened health systems through the establishment of alert systems, infrastructure support, institutionalization of infection prevention and control practices, provision of logistics and strengthening of community engagement to participate in epidemic response. However, the established systems are still far from being perfect and still require a lot of support to become strong, resilient and sustainable to address emerging health threats.
“The Ebola and Zika virus disease outbreaks are a wakeup call to all African Governments and partners that we have been underinvesting in public health care systems in Africa,” said President Adesina at a high-level panel debate on “Universal Health Coverage in Africa” at the recent Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) in Nairobi.
To provide a lasting solution to deal with the increasing incidence of disease outbreaks on the continent, the African Development Bank will significantly expand its investments in public health infrastructure, including supporting countries to expand provision of water and sanitation. The Bank will fast-track processing of the regional Africa Center for Disease Control (ACDC) to be jointly financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Bank and World Health Organization and established under the leadership of the Africa Union Commission. The ACDC will enable African countries, individually and collectively, to efficiently monitor, prevent, control and respond in a timely way to epidemics threats.
My Perspective on Africa is one of Opportunities-Jeannine B Scott Founder & Principal America to Africa Consulting
September 14, 2016 | 0 Comments
You can either decide to see Africa from the perspective of its challenges or you can see the continent for its opportunities and for me , it is the opportunities and potential that I see says Jeannette B.Scott , Founder and Principal of America to Africa Consulting ,a company with a focus on private sector opportunities in Africa.
With over thirty years of work on Africa themed issues and over thirteen years living in Africa, Scott, who formerly served as President of the U.S-Angola Chamber of Commerce, believes that the investment opportunities in the continent outweigh the challenges which many people seem to dwell on.
In an interview with Ben Bangoura of Allo Conakry, Scott cited Agriculture and the petroleum sectors as examples of the areas that America to Africa consulting will focus on. Though the company is still young, it already has a project it is working on in Guinea.
Kenya to host 6th African Green Revolution forum
August 27, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
African leaders are set to meet in Nairobi, Kenya at the African Green Revolution (AGRF) forum to be held on September 5 to 9 with an ambition of transforming agriculture into an engine for inclusive socio-economic growth and development.
According to a statement released by Waiganjo Njoroge, AGRA, Global Media Lead, the historic gathering will include hundreds of influential leaders and CEOs and is also expected to award the newly established Africa Food prize.
Njoroge adds that the sixth African Green Revolution forum or AGRF 2016 is Africa’s largest agricultural event.
“This year’s forum arrives at a time when an unprecedented number of leaders in both African and donor countries are signalling that agriculture development is essential to Africa’s long term economic growth,” Njoroge said.
It is also reported that the emergence of agriculture as the sector that will determine Africa’s future is reflected in the theme of the 2016 forum titled: Seize the moment: Africa rising through agricultural transformation.
Organisers say that the forum will feature a strong slate of influential leaders and CEOs from the public and private sector.
They add that a major highlight of the forum will be the inaugural award of the new Africa Food prize which was created to call attention to individuals and institutions that are inspiring and driving agriculture innovations that can be replicated throughout Africa.
Also the landmark annual African Agriculture Status Report, which this year will chronicle agricultural progress on the continent over the last decade and suggest strategies towards accelerated economic growth and development through agricultural transformation will also be launched.
Over 1000 leaders from politics, business and civil society from across Africa and beyond are expected to grace the event.
Some of the key speakers at the forum will include President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, Strive Masiyiwa, Chair and Founder of Econet Wireless who is also Board Chair of the AGRA, just to mention a few.
Governance, Corruption & Democratic Development Questions will guide Clinton’s African Policy-Snr Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan
July 26, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Hillary Clinton views Africa not just as a place with challenges to address but also opportunities says Jake Sullivan, Senior Policy Advisor for Hillary for America. Speaking at the Foreign Policy Center briefing center at the Democratic Convention, Sullivan said to Hillary Clinton, Africa is not just made up of countries which need development aid and assistance but also partners who can work with the USA in addressing a range of global issues.
Issues of governance, corruption, and democratic development have been central to Secretary Clinton’s policy towards Africa and will continue to be, said Jake Sullivan in response to a question from Ben Bangoura of Allo Conakry.com on what Africa should expect a Clinton Administration.
The policy will be in the mold of the work the democratic flag bearer did as first lady and later Secretary of State, Sullivan said. From her multiple trips to the continent, Hillary Clinton has shown commitment to pillars like fostering economic growth, peace keeping, security, human rights, and democratic development said Sullivan.
“She is fond of reminding us on her team many of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are African economies. How we think about where the future growth is going to come from in the world is bound up in how we approach our policy towards Africa,” Sullivan said.
In contrast to the recent Republican Convention in Ohio, the Democratic Convention seems to have more African faces present. Executive Women for Hillary ,a powerful coalition of executive, entrepreneur and professional women backing Mrs. Clinton has two African diaspora leaders Sarian Bouma and Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa as State Co-Chairs for the DMV area.
Israel plans to renew ties with largely Muslim nation Guinea
July 21, 2016 | 0 Comments
JOHANNESBURG – Israel says it will renew diplomatic ties with the largely Muslim African country of Guinea, the latest step in Israel’s courtship of the continent.
Israel’s foreign ministry announced Wednesday that the two countries would restore ties after 49 years.
The news comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s four-nation Africa tour earlier this month. It was the first visit to sub-Saharan Africa by a sitting Israeli prime minister in nearly three decades.
Israel is pursuing closer security and other ties with Africa. It also wants African states to support it at the United Nations, where the Palestinians were recognized as a non-member observer state in 2012.
Israel’s foreign ministry lists several Muslim or largely Muslim countries that have no current ties with it. Many are in northern and West Africa.
FIRST AFRICAN PASSPORTS GO TO PRESIDENTS OF RWANDA AND CHAD
July 18, 2016 | 0 Comments
The African Union wants to roll out the continental passport to millions of Africans.
How China’s trawlers are emptying Guinea’s oceans
July 16, 2016 | 0 Comments
Chinese fishing vessels operate illegally off the coast of Guinea, depleting its fish population and destroying marine life. Despite the economic and social consequences of illegal fishing, the Guinean government has failed to police its waters because it doesn’t have money to operate surveillance equipment, as the BBC’s Tamasin Ford reports.
Abdoulaye Soumah looks out to sea as fishermen bring in the day’s catch. Their brightly coloured traditional wooden boats glide into Bonfi port in Conakry, Guinea’s capital, where men wait to load the fish into baskets.
“We used to get between $700 (£540) and $1,400 worth of fish a day,” says the 32-year-old fisherman.
“But now, because of the increase in illegal fishing, there are fewer fish,” he says angrily.
“The same catch will now get around $140 because there’s no fish in the zone we normally fish in.”
The UN estimates that illegal fishing strips the global economy of more than $23bn every year.
And the waters off West Africa have the highest levels of illegal catch in the world, according to the UK-based non-profit organisation, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF),
More than a third of all fish caught in the region is illegal, unreported or unregulated, it says.
“These illegal pirate fishing operators are in effect stealing from some of the poorest people on our planet to provide short-term profit to wealthy fishing operators,” says EJF head Steve Trent.
He explains how a mixture of poor governance, limited resources and corruption create a situation ripe for exploitation. And Guinea is one of the worst examples.
It is the only country in Africa banned from exporting fish to Europe; the world’s biggest market.
Levels of illegal fishing are just too high and the EU says the Guinean government “hasn’t shown the necessary commitment to reforms”.
The most prized fish in Asia
At the fish market in Conakry, Aboubacar Kaba, head of the Artisanal Fisheries Union, grabs a silver fish about the size of his forearm from the back of a refrigerator truck.
“This is the most prized fish in Asia; the yellow croaker,” he says, claiming this is what the illegal trawlers are after.
The fish is now classified as endangered and has reportedly disappeared from Chinese seas because of overfishing.
“In 2008 there were 14 Chinese trawlers in these waters,” he says. “We’re now in 2016 and there are close to 500 trawlers all searching for this species of fish.”
And, according to Greenpeace, many of these companies have a history of illegal fishing in the region.
Hundreds of incidents of illegal activity by Chinese trawlers have been documented in West Africa over the years.
Trawlers took advantage of Ebola
Illegal fishing in Guinea got even worse as the country was battling the deadly Ebola virus, according to a Greenpeace investigation.
“During the Ebola outbreak, the country focused all their resources and capacity to deal with Ebola,” says Ahmed Diame, the Africa Oceans campaigner at Greenpeace.
During a month-long mission at the end of 2014 while Ebola was ravaging the country, a Greenpeace ship spotted an illegal Chinese trawler once every two days.
“In this investigation we discovered that some Chinese vessels fishing in West Africa under-report their gross tonnage and this has many implications of course, including loss of revenue to the state,” says Mr Diame.
Most of the Chinese vessels are known as bottom trawlers; banned in some parts of the world because they are so destructive.
They scrape up everything from the bottom of the ocean, ripping up coral and oyster beds, taking with them everything in their path.
“Up to 90% of the catch can be thrown back into the sea often already dead,” according to Greenpeace.
“This is where we see them, late at night,” says Mr Soumah as he takes me into the artisanal fishing zone on his wooden motorised boat.
The area stretches 12 miles from the shore and is exclusively reserved for artisanal fishing on small boats like these.
Industrial fishing is forbidden in order to protect the fish stocks.
The Environmental Justice Foundation has evidence, yet to be published, that proves illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is still going on in these waters.
Similarly, Greenpeace also started another investigation in January this year across Cape Verde, Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Senegal.
It will take three years, but the organisation hopes it will get a more detailed analysis of the situation.
The issue of the lack of resources couldn’t be made clearer as I visit Conakry’s Maritime Authority.
The rear admiral unlocks a door at the back of his office. Members of the navy and maritime surveillance team sit among impressive looking equipment.
This is where they monitor Guinea’s waters.
The problem, says the deputy commissioner, as he shows me some of the brand new kit delivered by the EU, is that they have never been able to use it.
The subscription to the satellite system that drives the equipment costs 10,000 euro ($11,000; £8,500) a year and they just do not have the money.
The government says it is trying but without resources, it is an uphill battle.
Guinea recently signed a treaty to crack down on illegal fishing but it is too early to say what effect it will have.
High hopes rest on Andre Loua, the new minister of fisheries, who was appointed earlier this year.
“Yes, I’m very scared if we don’t halt illegal fishing,” he says frankly.
“The direct consequences of illegal fishing is the destruction of fish stocks and that’s why the government has taken every opportunity to show it’s willing to fight this practice and we are going to keep going until we eradicate illegal fishing in this zone.”
But back on Mr Soumah’s boat at Bonfi port, these feel like empty words.
“The next generation doesn’t stand a chance,” he says bleakly. “Listen, our children survive on what we do.”
Illegal fishing is slowly destroying an already fragile economy here.
Mr Soumah thinks the future of his children is dire.
“Fishing enables us to educate our children, feed them and provide for their healthcare. So if the illegal fishing directly affects us as fishermen, what do you think the impact is on our children?”