“Our review process is that we go to those countries that bid for those competitions.” Chiyangwa said that the change at Caf was driven by a sense of unfairness in the manner tournaments were awarded to hosts under its former president Issa Hayatou. “Our contestation on Hayatou to continue in office was the unfair awarding of tournaments to one region,” he said. “Other regions were suffering, if you look at the background of the Issa Hayatou fall, it arises out of the fact that most of the competitions were being awarded to West Africa, not North Africa, not even Central Africa and not even Southern Africa,” he added. “So the chance you have – should in our investigations a decision be arrived at to nullify the other competitions – you as Zambia, if you are ready, you may have an opportunity that arises in 2021.”
Phillip Chiyangwa, vice president of the Confederation of African Football’s (Caf) Africa Cup of Nations committee, says Zambia may yet be given an opportunity to bid to host the 2021 Nations Cup.
Chiyangwa said Caf was reviewing the manner in which the 2019, 2021 and 2023 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments were awarded to West Africa by the previous Caf administration.
Chiyangwa, who is also head of the Cosafa region (Council of Southern African FA’s) spoke of his concerns in April and wants the tournaments to be more widespread.
“I am the giver and taker of competitions,” Phillip Chiyangwa said during a tour of Zambia last week.
As things currently stand, the 2019 edition will be held in Cameroon while Ivory Coast is set to stage the 2021 tournament and Guinea will be hosts in 2023.
That means the west of the continent would have staged Africa’s showpiece event for five consecutive tournaments, from 2015 – when Equatorial Guinea stepped in for Morocco – to 2023.
“I am currently reviewing what happened in the past, there may be possibilities in 2021 going forward, but the reason why I want to be ready with my region is to know which country wants what.
“If an opportunity arises there is no need for me to do last minute searches,” Chiyangwa said.
“Our review process is that we go to those countries that bid for those competitions.”
Chiyangwa said that the change at Caf was driven by a sense of unfairness in the manner tournaments were awarded to hosts under its former president Issa Hayatou.
Zambia FA president Andrew Kamanga and Caf’s Phillip Chiyangwa meeting in Zambia last week
“Our contestation on Hayatou to continue in office was the unfair awarding of tournaments to one region,” he said.
“Other regions were suffering, if you look at the background of the Issa Hayatou fall, it arises out of the fact that most of the competitions were being awarded to West Africa, not North Africa, not even Central Africa and not even Southern Africa,” he added.
“So the chance you have – should in our investigations a decision be arrived at to nullify the other competitions – you as Zambia, if you are ready, you may have an opportunity that arises in 2021.”
FOR 165 Senegalese, the journey of a lifetime ended in a fluorescent-lit, green-carpeted barn at the edge of Dakar’s international airport.
Dressed uniformly in new white sneakers and hoodies reading “RISING” in large letters, they perched on plastic chairs and ate their first meal back on home soil out of foil containers.
They had just returned from Tripoli, in Libya, on a flight put on by the International Organisation for Migration, a UN body. Of the 165, all but one were men, and all were young. They had been trying to get onto boats bound for Europe. Instead they had spent months—over a year for some—living on starvation rations in Libyan prisons.
And yet by their accounts, these are the lucky ones. “Today, to be back here, it is as good as if I made it to Europe,” says Mohammed Sylla, a 30-year-old trader. “Why did I want to go to Italy anyway? I was stupid.” He headed for Libya after trying to get to Europe through Morocco, but the moment he crossed the border from Algeria, it became “a hell”.
He describes being beaten up repeatedly by soldiers, and hiding in a forest for six days without food. Two other migrants he was with, from Guinea, were shot by militiamen in front of him. “I thought I would die for sure,” he says, his voice dipping to a whisper. Black people are imprisoned, he continues, and sold on for labour or ransom.
Centuries ago, Senegal, on the western edge of Africa, was a stopping point for European ships taking slaves to the new world. On Goree Island, off the coast of Dakar, tourists can gawp at buildings where human beings were once kept like cattle. Today, Senegalese go on grim journeys of their own volition, in hope of a better life. Of 37,000 arrivals to Italy in the first four months of this year, around 7% were from Senegal. In that time the number of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, crossing to Greece from Turkey dropped by over 90% compared with last year. By contrast, the number going to Italy increased—most of them from west Africa.
In Senegal it is possible to get a hint of what leads people to risk the journey to Europe. Kayar, a fishing village about 60km (40 miles) outside Dakar, is a place from where people have been seeking a way north for decades. On the beach, hundreds of wooden pirogues painted in dazzling colours crowd the sand; the buzz of saws at makeshift workshops fills the air. But fishing provides work only for a few months of the year, leaving young men with little to do. Instead, they dream up schemes for travelling north.
Ali Diong, a 35-year-old fisherman, often chats on WhatsApp with friends who have made it to Spain and Italy. “They can send money to their wives, they can pay for baptisms,” he says. “We who are still here depend entirely on our parents.” Every migrant’s plan is different, he says, but in order to pay for their journeys, people sell assets, such as their boats or motorcycles, or families chip in to raise the fare. It is risky, he admits. “But here there is nothing. You have to do something, and emigration is all you have.”
Kayar also offers hints of how illegal migration can be curbed. A decade ago, the area was a transit point for people trying to travel 1,500km across the Atlantic to the Spanish Canary Islands. According to Aliou Ndoye, the town’s assistant mayor, at the peak of that migration, in 2006, some 973 men from Kayar—which has a population of just 27,000—tried to cross. Hundreds of people died; some pirogues full of bleached corpses washed up in the Caribbean. Today, that route is all but closed, thanks to a deal Spain struck with Senegal to return migrants and patrol the coast for boats. Those who want to try to get to Europe face an even tougher journey. And from Kayar, fewer are going. Mr Ndoye reckons the number who have left this year is under 100. Those who do so now mostly head to Morocco instead of Libya. That is Mr Diong’s plan: “The desert is very dangerous, but I know the sea,” he reasons.
The trouble for European countries, desperate to curb the flow of boats across the Mediterranean, is that the message hasn’t reached other parts of Senegal yet. Jo-Lind Roberts-Sene, the representative of the IOM in Dakar, says that closer to the capital people have become more wary. But in more remote parts of the country, the idea that Europe is El Dorado persists. The majority of migrants going to Europe via Libya these days are leaving from south-east Senegal, which is separated from the rest of the country by the Gambia, and is far poorer. Migrants from there are usually farmers, and do not have much formal schooling. “They think they are aware of the dangers,” says Ms Roberts-Sene; but those who come back tell shocking tales.
That is certainly true of Thierno Mendy, a 37-year-old from eastern Senegal. “If I knew the journey would be like it was, I would never have done it,” he says. But failure is shameful, and many migrants are desperate to believe they have a chance. Massyla Dieng, a 50-year-old in Kayar who lived in Italy for ten years, says he has given up trying to persuade young men not to go. “When I say it is tough, they treat me like an enemy. They think I want them to fail.” Unfortunately, whatever the dangers may be, as long as a few are making it to Europe, the dream will never fully die.
Bow ties, flashing smiles and the big sell 9th June 2017
African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Africa’s biggest bank takes its annual meeting to India as it courts new investors and seeks a massive capital increase The worst is behind us, it is time to invest. That mood music – for the presidents, prime ministers, finance ministers, bankers and chief executives – played throughout the African Development Bank’s annual meeting in Gandhinagar, near Ahmedabad, on 23-25 May.
Master of ceremonies was the AfDB’s ever upbeat President, Akinwumi Adesina, whose team clearly picked the right host city this year. With Europe and the United States distracted by crises nearer to home, India’s government and companies are bullish on Africa. India’s business-minded Prime Minister and relentless national booster, Narendra Modi, wants to build on the fast-growing trade ties with the continent (AC Vol 58 No 2, Global shocks, local differences).
Modi’s diplomatic air miles rival those of China’s President Xi Jinping (AC Vol 57 No 8, Economy thwarts Buhari). ‘Since 2015, I have visited six African countries, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritius and Seychelles,’ Modi said when opening the meeting. ‘Our President has visited three countries, Namibia, Ghana and Ivory Coast. The Vice-President visited seven countries, Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Mali, Algeria, Rwanda and Uganda.
I am proud to say that there is no country in Africa that has not been visited by an Indian minister in the last three years.’ As New Delhi and Beijing well know but many Europeans seem to have forgotten, much of African diplomacy is about showing up. India’s rising Africa enthusiasms helped Adesina’s project. The Nigerian former Agriculture Minister wants investors and Bank shareholders to share his view that Africa is heading for another growth surge. Only then can he push through his expansion plans for the AfDB.
They include a capital increase, a hard sell at the best of times. The AfDB struggled to get financing for its concessional lending arm, the African Development Fund, last year. These are not the worst of times but they remain fragile (see African economy Feature, The great growth divide). The African Economic Outlook, launched at this meeting, forecast growth of 3.4% in 2017; it had fallen to 2.2% last year, its lowest in decades. Commodity prices have stopped sliding but are by no means robust. High five
The AfDB’s new investment agenda, summed up as the ‘high-five’ (power, agriculture, regional integration, industrialisation and quality of life) is clearer than last year. The Bank had a record 2016: disbursements hit $6.5 billion; approvals, $12.5 bn. Each AfDB dollar disbursed has a fourfold multiplier effect, says Adesina. The Bank is ramping up guarantees for investors in risky-looking infrastructure projects. Its private equity infrastructure outfit, called Africa 50, has mobilised $854 million and aims for $1 bn. by December.
regional governors are sceptical, though. Some talk about inconsistencies in the financial reporting. Others say the Bank is not getting value for money from its proposed investments. They cite former AfDB head Babacar Ndiaye’s ambitious expansion of the AfDB in the 1990s, which provoked bitter political disputes and the bank losing its AAA credit rating (AC Vol 37 No 7, Funding fall-off). Others gripe about management. A new set of directors has been recruited but there have been high-profile exits, such as Senior Vice-President Frannie Leautier from Tanzania and Senegalese Communications Director Ismaila Dieng. A large cohort of Nigerians has arrived in the Bank. ‘Some of them are on American or South African passports. We are being ignored,’ complained a senior Bank official from a small African country. However, Adesina’s focus on agriculture could pay off handsomely.
His proselytising for farmers fitted well with the tours showcasing India’s agricultural revolution. The AfDB’s quiet espousal of industrial policy – still anathema to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund – continues. The former Chief Economist at the World Bank, China’s Justin Lin, and the AfDB’s new Chief Economist, Célestin Monga of Cameroon, argued at their joint book launch for a new generation of special economic zones, to strengthen local companies (AC Vol 49 No 6, The people versus Biya). ‘Industrial policy doesn’t have to be just linked to manufacturing,’ explains Ethiopia’s Abebe Shimeles Abebe, acting Director of the AfDB Research Department. India’s agro-processing sector is an example.
When Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat State, of which Gandhinagar is now the capital, there was a relentless pursuit of growth, sometimes at the expense of political accountability. Modi’s brand of populism and high-growth economics propelled him to the prime minister’s office. Much of his success lay in administrative competence although Gujarat’s double-figure growth reflected an upturn across the entire country. A professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, Anil Kumar Gupta, says Modi’s efforts to raise the productivity of small farmers underpinned the state’s growth, particularly the building of small dams and irrigation systems.
Under Modi, some 45% of land was irrigated, a 15% improvement, and many more farmers prospered, spreading their wealth into far-flung villages. African delegates examined India’s latest farm technology in an exhibition hall next to the Bank meeting. They included a system of solar panels linked to water pumps – roughly $1,500 for a 1HP pump, enough to irrigate a hectare. Subsidised by the national government for 50% of the cost and 40% by the state government, the farmer has to pay just $150. It allows farmers to grow several crops a year and control it with an application on a mobile phone. ‘Fashionomics’
Replete with his signature bow-tie, Adesina spoke of the need to change mindsets in farming: ‘We need to make agriculture the coolest thing for the youth.’ Stars of India’s film industry, ‘Bollywood’, and Nigeria’s ‘Nollywood’ took the stage together for a session of ‘Fashionomics’. Their mind-bending mission was to describe – in a star-studded drama – the chain of production, from high fashion to the textile industry and then to the cotton growers. Next, Ghana’s former President, John Mahama, joined a chorus of young African ‘agripreneurs’ on stage to explain that agriculture is serious business.
The way, says Mahama, to show that agriculture is cool, is to ‘show that you can make serious money’. There are other Indian policies that Africa might imitate. For the Chief Executive Officer of the Nairobi-based African Guarantee Fund, Felix Adahi Bikpo, the advantage of coming to Ahmedabad was that the chaos and colour and mass poverty visible from the road reminds African delegations that India has much in common with the continent. ‘It is not so different from back home, and yet they have power, they are building.’ Modi rocked India with his ‘demonetisation’ policy: to move the country away from a cash economy and towards a formal banking sector. Over 250 million free bank accounts were created with biometric identity cards, allowing more accurate targeting of subsidies. Large denomination notes were outlawed and replaced, angering the politicians and businesspeople who had stashed huge sums. ‘The people who were crying foul were doing so not because they had sympathy for the common man but because it would hurt them most,’ a British-based academic told Africa Confidential.
He pointed to a cash haul of $43 mn. found by Nigerian anti-corruption enforcers in a Lagos flat in April. Some Nigerian officials looking to give a fillip to their government’s anti-corruption campaign have been studying the ‘Modi effect’ – high-growth economic strategies twinned with an authoritarian style of pushing through public policy. The African Bank’s Love Affair with Asia Bringing the African Development Bank annual general meeting to India is a bold statement of intent by the hosts.
The arrival of the yearly jamboree followed a long courtship by New Delhi. The Export-Import Bank of India had worked hard to drum up interest. China’s US$3 trillion ‘One Belt One Road’ infrastructure programme plans massive investment along a modern version of the old Silk Road linking China to Europe. India is boycotting it, which shows how Asian rivalries could be projected on to Africa. New Delhi is partnering with Japan to create an ‘Asia-Africa growth corridor’. Tokyo sent its deputy Finance Minister to the AfDB gathering in Gandhinagar (which is named after the late Mahatma Gandhi) to make the case.
A cultural evening featuring Indian and African dancers showed the breadth of ties. ‘Historically, communities from western India, especially Gujarat, and the eastern coast of Africa have settled in each other’s lands,’ said India’s Premier, Narendra Modi. ‘The Siddhis of India are said to have come from East Africa. The Bohra communities in coastal Kenya date back to the twelfth century. Vasco da Gama [a Portuguese explorer] is said to have reached Calicut with the help of a Gujarati sailor from Malindi.’
Trade between India and Africa thrived during the last commodity boom. Bilateral trade was at $1 billion in 1995; in 2015, it hit $75 bn.; it should break $100 bn, by 2018, according to the AfDB. Like Japan and China, India focuses on East Africa and long has done so: the gas and coal reserves in Mozambique and Tanzania attract Indian heavyweights such as the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited and Coal India; the big consumer markets of South Africa and Kenya are targets for Indian exporters. Modi wants India to claim the next 30 years just as China’s ‘peaceful rise’ has dominated the last 30.
New data from Yi Fuxian, at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, suggests India’s population (1.33 billion) overtook China’s (1.29 billion) at the end of last year. The AfDB’s own turning to Asia continues. Its meeting next year will be in Busan (ex-Pusan), South Korea. Taken with its meeting in Shanghai in 2007, that makes three Asian safaris in eleven years. By contrast, Europe has hosted the Bank just once in that period.
A new African Arguments investigation has found that politically-exposed African nationals hold Canadian real estate worth several millions of dollars.
The study, conducted in partnership with the Journal de Montréal and Le Monde Afrique, reveals over a dozen individuals who have invested nearly $26 million in Canadian real estate, often without a mortgage.
The source of the funds used to buy these properties could be legitimate. But the sales should have raised red flags because of the public positions of the individuals involved or because of their association with deals that have raised suspicion.
Buying bricks and mortar abroad has long been a strategy of the rich to diversify their assets.
Typically, the likes of France, US and UK have been the go-to places to buy up expensive property. Not all of it uses clean money. In 2016, a UK parliamentary committee estimated that a shocking $150 billion is laundered in London’s real estate market every year. But in recent years, luxurious flats owned by families of African leaders have been seized in each of these countries.
This seems to have led some to look further afield.
“They will diversify their investments according to only one criteria, which is the legal security offered by specific territories,” says William Bourdon, lawyer for Sherpa.
Sherpa is the NGO behind the “ill-gotten gains” case in France in which the rulers of Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville and Equatorial Guinea stand accused of laundering money in luxurious French properties.
According to Marc Guéniat, a researcher at the Swiss NGO Public Eye, France has historically been the favoured location for investment amongst the rulers of francophone Africa, but incidences such as the “ill-gotten gains” case have changed this.
“Logically, these rulers look for other destinations,” he says. “As a francophone region, Québec is an interesting alternative.”
In Québec, the origins of funds invested in real estate don’t seem to raise too many questions. A recent Transparency International report highlighted the country’s weak anti-money laundering regulations in the real estate sector.
In theory, both real estate brokers and financial entities such as banks are responsible for detecting money laundering in Canada. They are meant to notify suspicious transactions to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) that can, in turn, inform the police.
But between 2003 and 2013, in which there were over 5 million real estate sales, FINTRAC received just 279 suspicious transactions warnings. This rate increased slightly following educational efforts by FINTRAC, although it remains relatively low.
Moreover, in the dozen administrative penalties that FINTRAC has levied against brokers who failed to properly identify clients since 2008, the fines have averaged under $6,900. This pales in comparison to sales sometimes worth millions of dollars.
Brokers that fail to meet their legal responsibilities also face criminal sanctions, but it is not clear how many such cases have been investigated and brought to justice. The Canadian royal police did not reply to our questions.
Below is an interactive map showing the value and approximate area of the properties owned by politically-exposed African nationals that our investigation uncovered. The dots are within a kilometer of the properties to give a sense of the broader neighbourhood, but they do not represent their exact locations.
Below the map is information about the individuals in question.
Wilfrid Nguesso is the nephew of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the president of Congo-Brazzaville who has held an often violent grip on power for a total of 32 years. Over the past decade, Wilfrid has been trying to migrate to Montreal, but the Canadian authorities have forbidden him entry on the grounds that he allegedly belongs to a “criminal organisation” that has embezzled Congo’s public funds.
Wilfrid and his wife bought a house in Montreal worth over $730,000 without a mortgage in 2007. He did not reply to our calls for comments.
Voltaire Brice Etou Obami is an accountant and businessman close to the Nguesso family. He is named in a note by the French anti-laundering agency, Tracfin, due to his business deals with Catherine Ignanga. Ignanga used to be President Sassou-Nguesso’s sister-in-law and is being investigated by Tracfin. Obami is not under investigation and told us that he does not know about Ignanga’s dealings that are being scrutinised.
In 2014, Obami invested over $410,000 in two Montreal hotel rooms. His children study in Canada and he says he has applied for an immigration visa. According to him, the funds for the rooms came from his wife, who he says made profits from the real estate industry in Africa.
Jean Jacques Bouya is a member of Congo’s presidential family. He is being investigated by Tracfin. In Congo, he oversees millions of dollars in public funds as the Minister of Spatial Planning and Major Projects. He was previously chief of the agency in charge of large public works, the DGGT (Délégation générale des grands travaux).
According to a document from the French financial fraud police that we procured, the DGGT under Bouya made several transfers to bank accounts in San Marino between 2007 and 2013. All these accounts were held by Philippe Chironi, a close associate of Congo’s ruling family. The transfers came to a total of close to $75 million “whose origin could be illicit”, according to the document. These funds were transferred to accounts held by several people, including Bouya and Catherine Ignanga.
In 2008 and 2009, Bouya bought two buildings in Québec for a total of close to $1.3 million without a mortgage. He did not return our calls for comment.
Tite Kaba is a Congolese civil servant. He was in charge of land titles until 2016 when he was accused of producing a false deed for the benefit of an individual close to the Nguesso family.
Kaba and his wife, Rachida Kaba, have invested over $4.2 million in Quebec’s real estate since 2008 (in several cases, with a mortgage). They refused to reply to our questions regarding the origin of the funds.
Ibrahim Hissein Bourma is married to the sister of Hinda Déby. Hinda is the wife of Idriss Déby, Chad’s president since 1990. The main client of Bourma’s profitable import-export company, Oum-Alkheri General Trading, is the Chadian government.
In 2013, Bourma was stopped in Egypt with over $200,000 hidden in a secret compartment of his suitcase. He was later acquitted on a technicality after an intervention from the Chadian embassy. His lawyer told us he was acquitted in 2015 and that the affair was an unfortunate “imbroglio”.
In Canada, Bourma bought properties worth over $4.9 million without a mortgage between 2012 and 2016 through his company Investissement Siham Canada Inc. He told us: “I come from a family of businessmen, so I can only succeed.” On why he likes to invest in Québec, he said: “In Dubai, you can buy flats and the price drops very fast. In Montreal, it has been stable for years…If you see the number of apartments that I bought, it’s clearly for investment.”
Bourma’s brother, Mahamat Zene Isseine Bourma, is married to President Déby’s daughter. He bought a flat in Montreal for about $490,000 in 2013 without a mortgage. The previous year, he was appointed Chad’s paymaster general by Déby and tasked with overseeing all government spending. At this time, his company won large public contracts such as supplying ambulances to the Ministry of Health. In 2016, he was fired from the job after accusations of embezzlement. He told us these allegations were without basis. “The story was proven wrong…they’ve invented quite a few things,” he said.
The sister of the two Bourmas, Amina Hissein Bourma and her husband, Mahamat Kasser Younous, bought a flat worth $340,000 in Québec in 2012. The following year, they purchased a villa worth $840,000, both without a mortgage. At the time of the purchases, Younous was director of Chad’s national oil company. They did not return our calls.
Jacques Ndjamba Mbeleck is a consultant who founded the Cameroonian accounting company, CAC, which is very active in Chad’s oil sector. He also told us he is good friends with Mahamat Bourma.
In 2011, Mbeleck’s firm was advising Chad’s government. In this time, it received a $7.4 million bonus payment directly from the oil company Griffiths Energy International. An independent auditor looking into Chad’s extractive revenues described this transaction as “against best practice”. Griffiths had just won oil rights in Chad. A couple of years later, this deal raised controversy as Griffiths admitted to bribing Chad’s ambassador to Canada and his deputy to obtain the permits. No accusations of corruption have been levied against CAC. Ndjamba Mbeleck told us that the $7.4 million payment was above board.
In 2012, Mbeleck bought a flat in Montreal worth around $420,000, with a mortgage. He bought another property worth $580,000 the following year, without a mortgage.
Zéphyrin Rayita is a senator who has held high-ranking positions in Gabon’s telecommunications sector. Lin Mombo is a civil servant who has worked in the same industry. Mombo is also the partner of Marie-Madeleine Mborantsuo (aka “3M”), the powerful president of Gabon’s constitutional court, which ruled in favour of President Ali Bongo after the controversial elections last year. In March, RFI and the Canard Enchainé revealed that Mborantsuo is under an investigation by French authorities for allegedly embezzling public funds and money laundering.
In 2003, Rayita and Mombo bought a two-story building in Montreal for $2.2 million with a mortgage covering half the amount. They sold it four years later. Reached over the phone, Mborantsuo said “you think that’s how you’ll be able to ask me questions? Do you think it’s really normal that you call to tell me you’ll ask me questions?” She then hung up and didn’t reply to our subsequent messages.
We did not manage to reach Rayita. Mombo told us that state officials in Gabon are well paid and that he decided to invest his salary in real estate.
Joël Bernard Ogouma is the Inspector General of Taxation in Gabon, a country whose ruling family is targeted by the ill-gotten gains case in France. Ogouma himself has not been accused of corruption as far as we know. In Québec, Ogouma bought a flat for over $510,000 in 2014, without a mortgage. He did not respond to our calls for comment.
Mamadou Pouye is a close associate of Karim Wade. Karim is the son of Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal’s president from 2000 to 2012. Under his father’s government, Karim held a number of high-level positions and gained the nickname “Mr 15%” in reference to the personal cut he allegedly took from public tenders. During that period, Pouye set up companies abroad, including in Panama, as was revealed in the Panama Papers leak.
After his father lost power, Karim Wade was arrested together with Pouye. Karim was sentenced to six years in jail for embezzlement, but released by a presidential pardon in 2016 after serving just three.
In the case, the prosecution alleged that Pouye had “helped or assisted” Karim “in the preparation, facilitation or undertaking of illicit enrichment”. Pouye was convicted in 2015 and released on bail the following year. France and the United Nations criticised the trial’s fairness. Pouye’s lawyer claimed to us that his client is innocent.
In Montreal, Pouye bought a flat in 2012 for over $460,000 via a company registered in Canada named 9259-7087 QUÉBEC INC.
Madiké Niang was Karim Wade’s lawyer during his trial. Previously, he occupied key ministerial positions in Adboulaye Wade’s government. He was also reportedly targeted in the investigation into Wade and Pouye but was never formally accused.
In 2006, Niang bought a flat in Montréal for about $225,000 and another one in 2008 for about $270,000 with a mortgage. He did not return our calls.
Réda Bedjaoui is the brother of Farid Bedjaoui. Farid has been accused of channelling millions of dollars in bribes for an Algerian oil deal and is on Interpol’s wanted list. Over the years, Farid has given Réda at least several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Réda is not under investigation as far as we know.
Réda Bedjaoui has bought two properties worth a total of $4.7 million in Montreal and several others with his ex-wife. He did not respond to our requests for comment.
A third brother, Ryad Bedjaoui, has bought land worth $3.6 million in Montréal with a company whose majority shareholder was Farid Bedjaoui. He sold the land four years later. His lawyer told us that Ryad has “no financial relation with his brothers”.
*Culled from African Arguments.Emmanuel Freudenthal is a freelance investigative journalist. Hugo Joncas is an investigative journalist for the Journal de Montréal.
Morocco, along with Tunisia which is seeking observer status with the organisation and Mauritania, which wants to return to the body, will be invited to the next meeting of heads of state in Togo in December, a senior Ecowas source told the BBC.
Rival bodyguards ‘clash’
Ecowas is made up of 15 West African nations, none of which shares a border with Morocco.
Members enjoy free trade and movement of people.
King Mohammed VI last week announced he would not be attending the summit in Liberia, because of the presence of Israel’s prime minister.
Morocco does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
Mr Netanyahu addressed West African leaders on Sunday saying: “Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel.
“I believe in Africa. I believe in its potential, present and future. It is a continent on the rise.”
While in Liberia for the summit, his bodyguards scuffled with those of Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe, according to reports in the Israeli media.
This trip comes nearly a year after Mr Netanyahu was in East Africa as part of his efforts to strengthen ties between the continent and Israel.
BERLIN, Germany — A proposal from Germany’s development ministry stands to rewrite the country’s — and possibly the G-20’s — aid relationship with Africa. The so-calledMarshall Plan with Africa would prioritize encouraging private investment on the continent, possibly while reducing or shifting official development assistance.
The plan is part of a broader German focus on Africa in 2017, in an effort to play a stronger role leading donor policy within Europe and the G-20.
Analysts and advocates working in Africa say the plan puts into writing some of the trends already underway in aid, including a shift toward the private sector. They warn, however, that moving away from ODA entirely could leave gaps in need. Others, meanwhile, are looking to the German government to use the plan to engage a wider range of actors, including other donors and multilateral banks, to introduce a range of initiatives that could truly have a long-term impact.
For now, though, the debate is largely hypothetical. The plan is still only a proposal, and Germany’s position on Africa is set to evolve rapidly in the coming weeks. The finance ministry is currently constructing a separate “Compact with Africa,” and the country is set to host the G-20 summit in July, where relations with Africa will feature heavily on the agenda. German elections in September could also impact the development agenda, particularly if Chancellor Angela Merkel loses her bid for a fourth term.
Amid the uncertainty, experts are cautious not to either under or overstate the Marshall’s Plan potential impact. German aid and implementing partners are equally unsure how to react. The ministry declined to answer specific questions about whether development partners should read the document as a broader shift in priorities, or consider realigning their programs to match the interventions highlighted in the document.
But one indicator of the proposal’s impact could come in June, as Berlin hosts aG-20 African Partnership Conference, ahead of the broader G-20 meeting in July. The agenda for that meeting, which is focused on improving the investment climate in African countries, dovetails with the emphasis in the plan and could indicate how much influence it will ultimately have on German aid.
What does this Marshall Plan entail?
The Marshall Plan with Africa, released earlier this year, is effectively a blueprint for tackling a range of challenges on the continent — chief among them the problems that could result from Africa’s likely population explosion by 2050.
The proposal aims to be an “integrated overall approach” to address issues ranging from food security, good governance to social concerns, Gerd Müller, the federal minister for economic cooperation and development, explained during a business summit in Nairobi in February.
The plan positions Germany to help African governments with more than 100 different reform ideas that fall under three broad pillars: Economic activity, trade and employment; peace and security; and democracy and the rule of law. Each pillar includes recommendations for African country governments, the German government and the larger international community. Some are quite specific, for example a call on African countries to support a continental human rights court. Others offer more vague guidance, as in the call for international partners to “promote local value chains.”
Throughout, the plan emphasizes improving the investment climate. Among the proposed initiatives are plans to help create incentive packages for businesses. It also floats the idea of using ODA funds to secure private investments.
“It’s not the governments that will create all the long-term employment opportunities that are needed, it’s the private sector,” the plan reads. “So it’s not subsidies that Africa needs so much as more private investment.”
The plan also looks to directly seed the ground for investors. It would support programs that promote peace, security and anti-corruption efforts, in order to better protect investment. It would also look to boost job and vocational training initiatives to prepare young people for the workforce. Traditional development initiatives, including improving health, education systems and infrastructure, would also likely continue.
“We need more ODA funds to meet the current challenges,” the plan says, without specifying an ideal amount. In 2015, the German government spent about 16 billion euros ($17.8 billion) on ODA — the third highest amount in the world behind the United States and the United Kingdom.
Still, “it’s definitely a pro-private investment shift and a bit away from ODA,” said Manfred Öhm, the head of the Africa department at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The German political foundation, which draws some financial support from the government, runs a range of development programs in Africa.
Implications for the G-20 relationship with Africa
If expanded, some advocates say the plan could have a significant impact, in part because Germany looks to be positioning itself as a policy-leading donor on the continent. The draft was released in a year when Germany is hosting the G-20, and has made re-evaluating its relationship with Africa a priority. Already, German officials appear to be reframing the plan, which is the vision of one ministry, as part of the larger discussion of the G-20’s relationship with Africa.
Speaking to the African Unionlast October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to “make the issues that concern you in Africa one of the priorities of the G-20 agenda, and also launch a large-scale initiative with Africa to this end.” The first step, the G-20 African Partnership Conference, will be designed to encourage private investment, sustainable infrastructure and employment in Africa.
The plan could form a significant part of the broader global discussion about the international community’s relationship with Africa, according to Jamie Drummond, the co-founder and executive director of ONE, a grassroots organization fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa.
“This G-20 could and must herald a more coordinated push with Africa than we’ve seen since 2005 and Gleneagles,” Drummond said, referring to the U.K.-hosted G-8 summit that agreed to double aid to Africa, and eliminate the debts of some of the world’s poorest countries.
Drummond is looking for something equally bold to emerge — or at least begin — in Hamburg, where Germany is hosting its G-20. He would like to see momentum towards improving the quality and quantity of funding for education, increasing funds for women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship and an emphasis on good governance, alongside any focus on improving the climate for private investment.
“The private sector approach is incredibly important,” he said. “But if it was the only thing that was being proposed, that would not be enough.”
With Africa’s population set to more than double by 2050, from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion, according to thePopulation Reference Bureau, “African development is now clearly central to European and G-20 security into the twenty-first century,” he said. “That’s what this G-20 acknowledges and now we must urgently act on that.”
Domestic support for the plan
The Marshall Plan proposal will need to pull in new elements and some more collaborators — including from within the German government — if it is to be relevant, some analysts warn.
Given what it hopes to achieve, the proposal doesn’t yet include enough partners, said Stefan Brüne, an associate fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations. The federal ministry for economic cooperation and development may not be the best body to strengthen democracy, for example, he said.
“They are not in a position to really address these problems,” he said, compared to their counterparts in the ministry of foreign affairs, for instance, who can exert more political pressure.
Domestic politics could also impact the roll out. Though Müller comes from the ruling party coalition, it is still not clear how popular his plan is within his own government. Experts are looking for input from the ministry of defense, and greater cooperation with the ministry of finance, as it puts together its own compact with Africa. They are also watching to see if Merkel will more publicly embrace the plan or introduce her own strategy that might borrow elements from it.
If it is to truly jumpstart a broader conversation, it would also need to draw in officials from other G-20 nations, the World Bank and other international institutions — something its architects are clearly already aware of and which its advocates are prepared to push for.
Öhm said one of the ministry’s priorities should be providing more clarity, including about the future of ODA, programs the government plans to support and which governments the ministry is specifically hoping to assist. Some African countries are interested in reforms to improve the investment climate, and some are interested in transparency and democratic promotion, but the two groups are not necessarily the same.
At best, he and some other analysts see the plan as a potential starting point for conversations about the balance between ODA and private investment, for instance.
Truly rethinking Germany’s — or the G-20’s — relationship with Africa in the terms that the plan lays out would require a significant generational commitment, experts said. The question is whether the Marshall Plan actually represents that.
The grand vision was launched in 2013 originally as the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. It involves China underwriting billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in countries along the old Silk Road, linking it with a network of countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.
At the centre of the plan are two physical routes: the Silk Road Economic Belt, stretching from Asia to Europe; and the Maritime Silk Road that begins in China and passes along the Indian Ocean littoral to East Africa and then Europe.
Because of its high ambitions, the initiative has been criticised for being unachievable. Critics are also questioning the impact it may have on countries that are not officially linked to the routes.
For some countries, including BRICS stalwarts like India, the project challenges the current global order, replacing it with a Sino-centric one. Others believe the initiative presents an alternative approach to globalisation in an era where powers like the US seem intent on increasing protectionism and retreating from their global leadership role.
China has maintained that it is committed to taking an inclusive approach to trade and diplomacy. In a 2015 white paper it reiterated that the development of the initiative was open and welcomed the active participation of all countries and international organisations.
Thanks to the initiative’s massive financial ambitions, it’s likely to have a ripple effect on a number of regions. For example, the impact could be felt across Africa, although its significance in relation to other regions remains unclear. It could help the continent plug its infrastructure deficit, a necessary step for economic growth on the continent and in particular industrialisation.
Meeting of minds
This isn’t the first attempt to revive the ancient trade routes. There have been attempts by the European Union, US, Russia and even India to reconstruct the ancient Silk Road that linked Asia and Europe in particular.
What makes China’s attempt different is the commitment of President Xi, as well as the numerous agreements – such as the 130 transport pacts – it has already signed with partner countries along the route.
China made clear from the beginning that the initiative wouldn’t get off the ground without widespread participation. As such, the summit was positioned as an opportunity to build consensus.
The overall plan aims to provide a commitment of some $1 trillion in future funding. And China used the summit as an opportunity to increase the Silk Fund from $40 billion to $100 billion.
China is using the Belt and Road initiative as an opportunity to position itself diplomatically on the global stage. This was clear from the summit which provided a platform for the country to amplify its voice on the world stage.
Over 50 countries took part. This included the presidents of Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Vietnam and Uzbekistan. Representatives of the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and World Bank also attended.
As scholar Gregory Chin explains in China’s Bold Economic Statecraft, global relations are under constant negotiation. They are increasingly characterised by shifting alignments rather than fixed alliances.
China understands the opportunities presented by this state of flux.
Where does Africa feature?
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the summit, along with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry and Tunisia’s Minister of Culture.
Kenya’s presence was particularly significant because East Africa has been the main focus of the initiative on the continent.
While this may be of concern to other African countries, China is also supportive of Africa’s homegrown development plan as set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063. There are clear synergies with the Belt and Road initiative that support greater connectivity.
As African countries have expressed interest, China has responded, at least rhetorically, in favour of their inclusion.
Yet this won’t be enough. Support from African countries is key. And success depends on them providing adequate security to protect the investment environment.
More broadly, African governments will need to promote an enabling environment for projects to succeed, particularly if, as envisaged, the private sector plays a key role in Belt and Road projects.
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) talks with Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (R
A former banker and economy minister, President Emmanuel Macron is now at the head of En Marche, a manifesto turned into a political start-up, launched barely a year ago. En Marche promotes a technocratic perspective and is marketed by a handful of French brains of African descent moulded into the country’s elite universities.
For many, Macron’s recurring contradictory statements suggest a desire to appeal to everyone, while hiding his true colours and concealing the obvious – that he has no policy for Africa.
Beyond the spellbinding eloquence that coined slogans such as “France needs Africa to build its future,” or “I will act with transparency in Africa, away from conniving networks,” Macron’s vision for Africa is reduced to the thinness of “supporting local small and medium entrepreneurship.”
Macron must have missed the memo, for “African SMEs need an integrated banking system rather than a French president who has not secured the Senate control” argued Mamadou Diallo, the political analyst and member of the West African think-tank WATHI. For Diallo “The Macron campaign’s loudest feat was in using the colonial question and the crime against humanity committed in Algeria”, only for it to be reduced to a storm in a teacup. “The colonial debate appeal to voters of the African diaspora for it gives them an emotional acknowledgment in lieu of a real economic recognition. A father of four in Kinshasa couldn’t care less about a moral recognition of colonialism. He wants to know how to pay for his children school fees,” further clarifies the Guinean analyst.
There is a palpable fear that Macron’s presidency is a continuation of Hollande’s, who had voted for him during the first round. Using the historical representations of colonialism and slavery has undeniably set Macron apart from other candidates. However, his lauded anti-colonial statement quickly tempered by “but one has to assume its positive elements” brought Gaddafi’s ghost back in the conversation.
Africans have not forgotten the savage pulverisation that former French president Sarkozy inflicted upon the Libyan people. How can it be omitted that Macron has inherited from the horrific Mali military invasion? Did Africa really need France’s intervention if it meant that the mediator would become a party to the conflict? En Marche only reaffirmed France’s militaristic endorsement of European, EU and NATO’s interference to protect their interests, all of which can only signal more wahala for the African continent.
Macron’s key job is to redress French prosperity by facilitating the movement of entrepreneurs and researchers, in other words, the movement of capital, a large percentage of it originating from Africa and through a wheeler-dealer diplomacy that in Macron’s own words is also “erratic”.
With Africa’s trade balance growing eastwards and inwards, how would a former banker restore France’s relations with Africa at a time when a viral grassroots campaign for the abolition of the CFA (French African Colony) money is raging in fourteen countries? After all, why do 22-year-old graduates on the Quai d’Orsay payroll staff presidential entourages of the CFA countries afflicted by brain drain and youth unemployment? Surely Macron would concede that liberating fourteen countries from the bondage of pumping France’s economy up would appear to be a sensible step towards fair reparations for the crime against humanity that colonialism is. The trouble is that pegged to the French treasury, the abolition of the CFA currency would in a blink bring Molière’s country on its knees.
As for En Marche’s views on integration and immigration, put it simply, they are two sides of the same coin, that of racism and exclusion which carry significant economic costs. For a country in dire need to repopulate to keep the state apparel afloat, France holds a distorted discourse by single-handedly targeting its populations of Afro-descendents. France’s migrant population accounts for a mere ten percent of the population, a third of which is made of international students integrated into the relatively lifeless economy. Why else would 2.5 million of French citizen not racially profiled choose to live outside of France?
Actually, integration and immigration are coded words for Europe’s all time greatest fear dating back to eight centuries of an Afro-Moorish rule: Islam with its political, cultural and security translation. Again, in the European conflicted representation, Islam is no longer located in the Arab-Muslim heart but in the Arab-Turkish-Persian world. But most of the illegal migrants into Europe do not originate from the Syrian conflict or the Afghan convulsions, but from supra-Saharan or sub-Saharan African countries not at war and with a sizeable Muslim population.
“What we’re seeing across Europe is that domestic politicians – whether in Germany, France, or even Greece – are increasingly asking the EU to do their dirty work” cautions Loren Landau, the Chair of the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Hence Macron’s a continuation of Europe’s forked tongue discourse. “It allows them to show that politicians are doing something about stopping Africans from coming, without themselves being implicated in the nefarious deals the EU is promoting” added Landau.
It is high time Africa cures her post-colonial syndrome and stops giving a disproportionate importance to the French political game, according to the Cameroonian political scientist Achille Mbembe.
All things considered, could it be agreed that France’s views on Africa are of no interest to Africans? Africa matters more to France’s seventy million than the other way around, if only because Africa hosts two hundred million French speakers, or a fifth of its billion population.
* Source IOL .Yoletta Nyange is a Visiting Scholar at the African Centre for Migration and Society of the University of the Witwatersrand
My school years in the US were marked by many heated debates between African and African-American students about who was guiltier for the transatlantic slave trade: whites or Africans?
Who should pay whom or who should apologize to whom? In retrospect, I should have advocated more for reconciliation among people of African descent rather than restitution or reparations by whites, which I had previously advocated mainly because every other group; Jewish or Japanese-Americans, received monies from the US government for historical wrongdoings.
This is still important but I believe less pressing than the healing that needs to happen between a people divided.
Change of heart
The diaspora in the context of Africa evokes in my mind a people who were, by force or by choice, estranged from their homeland, while the homeland of Africa evokes in my mind a diverse land (54 countries) of milk and honey with limited skills to distribute the wealth.
Like the story of two siblings, where one sold the other into slavery, Africa and its diaspora are sometimes deeply divided and each finding their way through the wilderness alone, forgetting that united we stand, divided we fall.
There are around 200 million people identifying themselves as being of African descent who live in the Americas. Many millions more live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent. Whether as descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade or as more recent migrants, we constitute some of the poorest and most marginalized groups.
In many cases, people of African descent still experience discrimination in recognition of our achievements, access to justice, and face alarmingly high rates of police violence and racial profiling. Casual racism has become commonplace in the United States and many attribute this to the election of President Trump and his anti-foreigner stance during the election campaign.
Furthermore, our degree of political participation is often low, both in voting and in occupying political positions. This racial discrimination lessens when inside Africa but problems of poverty, corruption and conflicts replaces it. The one thing we seem to have in common, that binds us regardless of where we find ourselves, inside or outside Africa, is the misery that’s become synonymous with the black experience.
The door of return
So, when I learned that the United Nations had proclaimed 2015 — 2024, the International Decade for People of African Descent, I saw an opportunity to reconnect the broken bridge between Africa and its diaspora, control the narrative about the black experience and help heal the pains and resentment between long lost siblings.
While our ancestors left Africa bound and chained through the doomed ‘doors of no return,’ I firmly believe that reconciliation and prosperity can offer a ‘door of return’ for people of African descent back to Africa.
This led me on journey to create the global civil society initiative: The Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD), born out of the desire to bring together a progressive group to support the United Nations’ resolution declaring the years 2015 — 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent to combat racism, xenophobia and intolerance of Africa and its people worldwide.
MIPAD is a unique global list that identifies 200 high achievers, under the age of 40, of African descent in public and private sectors worldwide. Hundred of them live inside Africa, and 100 outside Africa in the diaspora. The idea is to connect them with their counterparts across the world. There are well known African names such as Senegalese musician Akon, British actor David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyongo but there are also those whose ancestors are from Africa such as golfer Tiger Woods and Beyonce among many others.
The truth is that not all people of African descent will move back to Africa, this is not the goal, instead it is to know that wherever we are, inside or outside Africa, our unifying and collective goal is the uplifting of Africa as a continent, knowing that making Africa great again is key to the dignity and respect we seek as a people.
*CNN.Kamil Olufowobi is Founder & CEO, Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) a global civil society initiative in support of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent. He is passionate about repairing the broken bridge between Africa and its diaspora in different parts of the world
David Oyelowo is serious about inspiring positive change in the world.
GEANCO In addition to his scholarship for girls in Nigeria, Oyelowo says he wants to extend his humanitarian efforts to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking.
The actor will be honored on June 4 by the Diamond Empowerment Fund, a nonprofit co-founded by Russell Simmons, with the Diamonds Do Good International Vanguard Award. The award, which will be given to Oyelowo during the organization’s annual awards gala in Las Vegas, recognizes his achievements in the arts and in the educational empowerment of vulnerable girls in Nigeria.
Oyelowo told HuffPost that he prefers projects that showcase Africa’s overlooked history, such as “United Kingdom,” which highlighted Botswana’s role as a leading diamond-producing nation. In that film, Oyelowo plays Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama.
“My passion is really behind any African story that highlights the transcendent beauty and just the amazing quality of Africa and its people,” Oyelowo told HuffPost. “So whether it’s in ‘United Kingdom’ or whether it’s in ‘Queen of Katwe’ or other projects that I’m at the inception stages with, that’s what I’m fundamentally interested in and it just so happens that Botswana’s success story is tied into diamonds.”
The actor, who was born in England to Nigerian parents, adds that in addition to highlighting Africa’s abundant culture on the silver screen, he also wants to change the negative perception of Nigeria ― specifically as it pertains to the marginalization of women.
“One of the stories that isn’t a success story of course is surrounding the Chibok girls and what’s going on with Boko Haram, and what’s going on with the marginalization of women generally, not just in Nigeria, but on the African continent and around the world,” he said. “So for me, it’s about highlighting the great story, but also trying to change the narrative around the negative, because those are things that can and must change.”
“Going beyond the borders of Nigeria, human trafficking, modern-day slavery, sex trafficking, these are really disgusting things that are going on in society,” he said. “A lot of them are dealing with girls being pulled out of Africa. It’s happening within the continent itself. Even here in Los Angeles ― the San Fernando Valley, where I live ― it’s one of the worst hubs for human trafficking in the country.”
“So it’s on our doorstep, and it’s international. And if you’re a father of children, really it’s a thing that young people are being subjected to by those who prey upon them,” the actor continued. “It’s unthinkable to think about what’s going on out there. So anything and everything I can do, and my colleagues can do, to eradicate this is what I’m interested in.”
Sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable.”David Oyelowo
Oyelowo is committed to reducing these startling statistics, regardless of public recognition.
“I think that’s one of the problems with our society in general. And sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable,” he argued. “Anything that is for instant gratification for yourself will not last. This is a problem in terms of what’s going on in Nigeria, and specifically the marginalization of women.”
“If you’re looking in Hollywood, it’s not as egregious and injustice as sex trafficking and human trafficking but, when you look at sexism within the film industry, we have these moments when everyone pays it attention and then people forget,” he said.
Rather than participating in an occasional initiative for instant gratification, Oyelowo encourages more of his peers in entertainment to commit themselves to humanitarian movements in order to see real change.
“I’m a big believer in not focusing in on the big moment, but on the movement,” he said. “The movement is something that has to be perpetual. Once I attach myself to something I try to focus on it and not let go until the job is done, regardless if the cameras are on or not.”
“I think if more of us do that, the more will actually get done,” he added.
Grant Harris (right), former special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House, joins Karen Attiah, global opinions editor at the Washington Post, for a Facebook Live discussion on the importance of US engagement in Africa.
The cuts to foreign aid proposed in US President Donald Trump’s new budget, if passed, would drastically diminish US influence in Africa, threaten US security interests, and make way for countries like China to fill the void, according to a former White House official.
We can’t be ceding this space to China and to other players to have them deepen their economic ties and their political ties and have the US really lose out,” said Grant Harris, who served as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House from 2011 to 2015.
Trump’s new federal budget would put an end to important US engagement on the continent, engagement which, according to Harris, is vital for US national security.
This is the premise of his recently published Atlantic Council report: Why Africa Matters to US National Security. “Far too many people think that Africa is of secondary importance to US interests, where, in reality, it’s really important to US national security,” Harris said in a Facebook Live discussion with Karen Attiah, the global opinions editor with the Washington Post, at the Atlantic Council on May 25.
Why does stability in Africa matter for security in the United States? Karen Attiah from the Washington Post discusses why Africa is important to US national security interests with Grant Harris, former special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House. To learn more, read Harris’ new report: http://bit.ly/2qnK3oJ
In order to stem the spread of transnational threats, from terrorism to pandemics, Africa must become stable, said Harris. However, achieving stability requires that the United States remain actively engaged, providing not only humanitarian assistance, but also promoting economic growth. “The budget cutbacks would hurt all of that,” he said.
Attiah noted that in the “new US political climate – it’s not just Africa—there’s a real sense that the US may be retreating from its role as a global leader.” This turn inward has opened the door for other nations, such as China, to strengthen their foothold in Africa.
China is already actively engaged in providing funds to many African nations in desperate need of improved infrastructure. Attiah described how China’s influence in Africa is “visible,” down to details such as Chinese signs in airports throughout the continent. However, Harris said, while Chinese funding of infrastructure projects in many African countries is good for those countries, the projects have “no strings attached,” meaning there are no stipulations regarding labor regulations, human rights, or environmental concerns.
“The US holds itself to different standards, and it should,” said Harris. He insisted that principled engagement bolsters not only US influence, but strengthens relationships with African partners, who are becoming increasingly significant voices on the world stage. African votes make up more than a quarter of the votes in the United Nations, therefore, “we need African partners to advance [US] priorities,” said Harris.
Africa is vital not only to US national security interests, but to the United States’ European allies as well, Harris claimed, citing the migration crisis as a major concern.
Harris said that while his report stresses Africa’s importance to US national security, “even if you’re skeptical of what I’m saying, you’ve got to believe that European allies are important to national security.” Consequently, he said, while Europe seeks to promote stability in Africa in order to stem migration, the United States should engage as well, if not for its own interests, to promote the interest of its allies. “If the US retrenches and we pull back on our assistance… then we’re going to be part of the problem,” according to Harris.
Previous US administrations have promoted deep bipartisan engagement in Africa. Harris called for the Trump administration to follow suit, emphasizing the importance of a much-overlooked, but increasingly important part of the world.
*Allafrica.Rachel Ansley is an editorial assistant at the Atlantic Council.