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.
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
Africa is poor, but we can try to help its people.
It’s a simple statement, repeated through a thousand images, newspaper stories and charity appeals each year, so that it takes on the weight of truth. When we read it, we reinforce assumptions and stories about Africa that we’ve heard throughout our lives. We reconfirm our image of Africa.
Try something different. Africa is rich, but we steal its wealth.
That’s the essence of a report (pdf) from several campaign groups released today. Based on a set of new figures, it finds that sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor to the rest of the world to the tune of more than $41bn. Sure, there’s money going in: around $161bn a year in the form of loans, remittances (those working outside Africa and sending money back home), and aid.
But there’s also $203bn leaving the continent. Some of this is direct, such as $68bn in mainly dodged taxes. Essentially multinational corporations “steal” much of this – legally – by pretending they are really generating their wealth in tax havens. These so-called “illicit financial flows” amount to around 6.1 per cent of the continent’s entire gross domestic product (GDP) – or three times what Africa receives in aid.
Then there’s the $30bn that these corporations “repatriate” – profits they make in Africa but send back to their home country, or elsewhere, to enjoy their wealth. The City of London is awash with profits extracted from the land and labour of Africa.
There are also more indirect means by which we pull wealth out of Africa. Today’s report estimates that $29bn a year is being stolen from Africa in illegal logging, fishing and trade in wildlife. $36bn is owed to Africa as a result of the damage that climate change will cause to their societies and economies as they are unable to use fossil fuels to develop in the way that Europe did. Our climate crisis was not caused by Africa, but Africans will feel the effect more than most others. Needless to say, the funds are not currently forthcoming.
In fact, even this assessment is enormously generous, because it assumes that all of the wealth flowing into Africa is benefitting the people of that continent. But loans to governments and the private sector (at more than $50bn) can turn into unpayable and odious debt.
Ghana is losing 30 per cent of its government revenue to debt repayments, paying loans which were often made speculatively, based on high commodity prices, and carrying whopping rates of interest. One particularly odious aluminium smelter in Mozambique, built with loans and aid money, is currently costing the country £21 for every £1 that the Mozambique government received. British aid, which is used to set up private schools and health centres, can undermine the creation of decent public services, which is why such private schools are being closed down in Uganda and Kenya. Of course, some Africans have benefitted from this economy. There are now around 165,000 very rich Africans, with combined holdings of $860bn. But, given the way the economy works, where do these people mainly keep their wealth? In tax havens. A 2014 estimate suggests that rich Africans were holding a massive $500bn in tax havens. Africa’s people are effectively robbed of wealth by an economy that enables a tiny minority of Africans to get rich by allowing wealth to flow out of Africa.
So what is the answer? Western governments would like to be seen as generous beneficiaries, doing what they can to “help those unable to help themselves”. But the first task is to stop perpetuating the harm they are doing. Governments need to stop forcing African governments to open up their economy to privatisation, and their markets to unfair competition.
If African countries are to benefit from foreign investment, they must be allowed to – even helped to – legally regulate that investment and the corporations that often bring it. And they might want to think about not putting their faith in the extractives sector. With few exceptions, countries with abundant mineral wealth experience poorer democracy, weaker economic growth, and worse development. To prevent tax dodging, governments must stop prevaricating on action to address tax havens. No country should tolerate companies with subsidiaries based in tax havens operating in their country.
Aid is tiny, and the very least it can do, if spent well, is to return some of Africa’s looted wealth. We should see it both as a form of reparations and redistribution, just as the tax system allows us to redistribute wealth from the richest to the poorest within individual societies. The same should be expected from the global “society”.
To even begin to embark on such an ambitious programme, we must change the way we talk and think about Africa. It’s not about making people feel guilty, but correctly diagnosing a problem in order to provide a solution. We are not, currently, “helping” Africa. Africa is rich. Let’s stop making it poorer.
*Allafrica/Al Jazeera.Nick Dearden is the director of UK campaigning organisation Global Justice Now. He was previously the director of Jubilee Debt Campaign.
All citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) can leave and enter any ECOWAS country and reside in it without any hindrance, Minister for Information, Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, has disclosed.
Mr Abdul-Hamid explained that the promotion of intra-regional migration for West African countries was part of a political and economic arrangement.
Addressing the media at the launch of the ECOWAS Free Movement and Migration Project in Accra on Wednesday, the Information Minister noted that when it came to migration issues, the focus of the Ghanaian media had largely dwelt on its negative consequences such as the involvement of migrants in unlawful activities that resulted in the destruction of the environment, including illegal mining, nomadic grazing, fake trading markets and human trafficking.
The media, the Minister said, therefore, had a crucial role to play in the promotion of a safe and secure intra-regional migration and cautioned it to be circumspect in their reportage.
He said giving the magnitude of the challenges of migration, there was the need to create a critical mass of advocates in the media who were willing to provide fair and objective coverage on issues of migration.
He urged all media personnel and other relevant stakeholders to fully participate in the project in order to acquire the requisite skills and the solid foundation required to enable them to contribute to the promotion of safer migration practices.
Mr Abdul-Hamid expressed the appreciation of the Ministry of Information for the media response and its collaborating partners for supporting the project and commended the European Union and the International Organization of Migration for funding the project.
The ECOWAS Free Movement and Migration Project is a one-year project which will target the Greater Accra, Western, Ashanti and Northern Regions to promote free movement and migrant rights in West Africa.
The project’s activities include the organization of training workshops on investigative journalism on free movement and migration, establishment of a network of journalists for migrant rights and the implementation of a public radio campaign on free movement.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister and foreign minister, received more than half the votes in the third round.
Ethiopia’s Tedros wins on third ballot
* Offers more geographical representation of WHO jobs
By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles*
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
GENEVA, May 23 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus won the race to be the next head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday, becoming the first African to lead the United Nations agency.
The former health minister and foreign minister received more than half the votes in the first round and eventually won a decisive third-round election to beat Britain’s David Nabarro to the job.
“It’s a victory day for Ethiopia and for Africa,” Ethiopia’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Negash Kebret Botora told Reuters before Tedros, as he is widely known, was to take the floor at the WHO’s annual ministerial assembly.
Six candidates had stood to take the helm at the WHO, which is tasked with combating outbreaks and chronic diseases.
The job has never before been earned through a competitive election and health officials from all over the globe thronged the assembly hall in the U.N.’s Geneva headquarters where voting took place behind closed doors.
Tedros will begin his five-year term after Margaret Chan, a former Hong Kong health director, steps down after 10 years on June 30. Chan leaves a mixed legacy, after WHO’s slow response to West Africa’s Ebola epidemic in 2013-2016, which killed 11,300 people.
In a last pitch before voting began, Tedros had appealed to ministers by promising to represent their interests and to ensure more countries got top jobs at the Geneva-based WHO.
“I will listen to you. I was one of you. I was in your shoes and I can understand you better,” Tedros told the ministers. “I know what it takes to strengthen the frontlines of healthcare and innovate around the constraints.”
Tedros was widely seen as having the support of about 50 African votes, but questions about his role in restricting human rights and Ethiopia’s cover-up of a cholera outbreak surfaced late in the race, threatening to tarnish his appeal.
Nabarro, a WHO insider who has worked for 40 years in international public health, had pitched himself as a “global candidate”.
Chan, in a speech on Monday, urged ministers to tackle inequalities as a “guiding ethical principle”.
“Scientific evidence is the bedrock of policy. Protect it. No one knows whether evidence will retain its persuasive power in what many now describe as a post-truth world,” she said.
LEFT: United States President Donald Trump. RIGHT: President Uhuru Kenyatta
China is set to benefit from a possible pulling back of investment by U.S. companies in Africa under the Trump administration, according to a report.
The number of Chinese-funded projects increased by more than 100 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the Africa Attractiveness survey released on Wednesday by EY, formerly Ernst & Young.
By contrast, the number of American foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Africa fell by 5.2 percent in 2016, although the United States remains the leading overall investor in Africa. Chinese projects also created more than 38,000 jobs in Africa, more than three times as many as American investments.
Since coming to office, President Donald Trump has had little to say about U.S. policy on Africa under his administration. The Trump administration is yet to appoint a head of the African Affairs bureau in the State Department and has made only a handful of calls to African leaders, though the U.S. president did receive Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at the White House in April.
Trump Sissi meeting President Trump meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on April 3. Trump’s meeting with Sisi was his first with an African leader since becoming president in January. Kevin Lamarque/reuters
While the EY report measures private investment in Africa, as opposed to government-to-government investment or aid, any changes in U.S.-Africa policy may have an impact on business relations. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which was instituted in 2000 and allows tariff-free access for certain goods from African countries into the U.S., is one example of where policy and business could collide. Trump has not commented directly on the AGOA, but his favoring of bilateral trade deals over multi-party agreements would suggest a preference for individually-negotiated deals that benefited the United States, not just Africa.
Michael Lalor, the head of EY’s Africa Business Center, says that while he does not foresee a marked decrease in U.S. investment in Africa in the short term, significant policy changes could impact on the likelihood of U.S. businesses starting new investments on the continent.
“A strength of U.S.-led investment in Africa has been the connectedness of investment. Business and government and development agencies aren’t acting in isolation,” says Lalor, citing the Power Africa program—an initiative launched by President Barack Obama in 2013 to bring 30,000 megawatts of electricity to sub-Saharan Africa—as an example.
“It helps to have government and business on the same page…The danger is that this might be a more fragmented approach to investment, versus the approach from other countries—China is a good example—where it is quite an integrated approach,” says Lalor. “It might just blunt the competitive advantage of the U.S. in Africa.”
While the rate of investment slowed, the U.S. continued to be the leading inward investor in Africa, accounting for 13.5 percent of total FDI projects on the continent. The main target for investment by American companies was South Africa, where 28 of the 91 U.S.-sourced FDI projects were based. South Africa has long been a hub of international investment in Africa: It is the continent’s biggest and most industrialized economy. Behind it, U.S. companies also invested heavily in North Africa, particularly Morocco (14 projects) and Egypt (13 projects).
“Counting the sheer number of projects is a rather questionable measure of FDI when compared to actual capital invested. By the latter, the United States remains Africa’s most important partner,” says J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council.
Kenya China flag A Kenyan dock worker waves a Chinese flag during a farewell ceremony for a Chinese naval ship before it leaves the Kenyan port city of Mombasa for Tanzania on October 18, 2010. The number of Chinese investment projects in Africa increased by more than 100 percent in 2016, according to a report. JEAN CURRAN/AFP/Getty
Pham also says that the business acumen possessed by Trump and members of his administration means that “commercial diplomacy” will likely take a more central role under Trump, benefitting both U.S. firms and Africa.
Morocco is an example of where this could be true, Pham says. The EY report ranked the North African country as the most attractive destination for international investors in 2017, based on six factors including economic resilience, market size and ease of doing business. Morocco is the only African country—and one of only 20 countries in total—to have a free trade agreement with the United States, which entered into force in 2006. The deal has contributed to a massive increase in U.S.-Morocco trade, from $35 million in 2005 to $844.2 million in 2016. “American firms are especially well-positioned to triangulate in their business with Africa through Morocco,” says Pham.
China has been involved in Africa for at least 60 years and is the continent’s single largest trade partner. As well as trade and FDI, the Chinese government and state-run entities have undertaken enormous infrastructure projects in Africa—such as a $4 billion, 450-mile railway linking the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti, launched in October 2016—in exchange for privileged access to Africa’s huge marketplace of people and resources and increased international status.
Beijing has also been a huge contributor of development assistance to African countries. At a 2015 China-Africa summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion in assistance, including grants, loans and aid to the continent.
In his budget proposal released in March, President Trump proposed cutting the budget of the State Department and foreign aid by 28 percent, as well as eliminating various government agencies, including the African Development Foundation, which promotes development by investing in African enterprises.
While aid and investment are two different things, U.S. companies are likely to follow the administration’s lead in drawing back from Africa, says Stephen Chan, professor of world politics at SOAS University of London. “Investors will take aid cutbacks as a political signal and one that will lead to possible insecurity in the country concerned. So investors will be more cautious and I expect a decline in the volume of investment,” says Chan.
Such a pullback could mean strategic losses in U.S. influence in Africa and leave further space for China to capitalize, says Chan. “For China, the benefits are upstream in a future where a growing Chinese economy will have grown to need African resources and paybacks from FDI and aid commitments made now,” says Chan. “The Chinese, as ever, are playing a long game. President Trump, at the moment, is playing no game at all in Africa.”
French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Mali for a short visit on Friday, meeting President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita
Emmanuel Macron has arrived in Mali to meet French troops, less than a week after his inauguration as president.
Mr Macron’s plane touched down at a French airbase in the north of the country just before 10:00 GMT (11:00 BST).
He is due to speak with Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita during his short visit.
French soldiers have been fighting Islamic militants in the north of the former French colony since 2013.
Mr Macron – accompanied by Defence Minister Sylvie Goulard and her predecessor, now Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian – will review some of the 4,000 anti-insurgent troops France has deployed in the region.
This is Mr Macron’s second foreign trip as president. He visited German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin a day after his inauguration on Sunday.
As president, he is expected to continue his predecessor’s policy regarding military presence in West Africa. However, the fact French Development Agency (AFD) chief Remy Riouxhas also joined the visit is seen as a sign he wishes to have an emphasis on economic development as well.
France retains a strong influence in its former colonies.
Mr Macron has talked about writing a new page in his country’s relationship on the continent, and of breaking away from the old neo-colonial networks.
As a candidate, he stirred controversy at home by labelling France’s colonial war in Algeria a crime against humanity – something which was well-received in the former colonies.
Analysis: Mark Lowen, in Paris
The choreography of the first week in office of any head of state is delicate. Impressions are formed quickly and judgements are made that often endure. Emmanuel Macron has done the diplomacy with Angela Merkel, the internal politics with his cabinet and now he’s fulfilling the role of commander-in-chief, visiting French troops in Mali.
In part, it’s good optics, being seen to support the 4,000 soldiers stationed in West Africa since 2014. He will be stamping his authority on the French-led mission fighting armed groups in the Sahel, which he’s expected to pursue.
Mr Macron’s new foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was defence minister when the intervention was launched. But there’s clearly a practical purpose too: to discuss France’s counter-terrorism efforts and assess whether more needs to be done. 332 people were killed in attacks in Mali last year alone, and plenty of questions remain over the assassination of two French journalists there in 2013.
So symbolism and substance for the new president as he assumes the task of protector of the French nation.
-With Wheel to Africa, a young American and his friends highlight the importance of people-to-people engagement in US-Africa relations.
Support for a noble cause:Ambassador Arouna with Jason and his young friends collecting bikes to send to Africa
Today Saturday, May 13, 2017, I pulled up into Bethesda Library Parking lot on Arlington road. Bethesda is an affluent Maryland town in the suburb of Washington DC the nation capital. I am here to meet Jason a college rising sophomore in African studies who spent summers in Africa, mainly Tanzania and Ghana. Jason and his friends under the guidance of his parents are collecting bikes to ship to Africa as part of the Wheel To Africa Initiative.
As soon as entered the parking lot I was greeted by a jubilant and grinning group of kids happy to see the two bikes attached on the back of my car. I could not help but to reminisce, back to the day… I mean, way back when I received my first bike as a child and how happy it felt then. Thinking about it, I am sure it is probably a fair statement to say that, these kids look as happy as the people who will soon be receiving these bikes in the continent of Africa.
Upon getting out of my vehicle, I met and greeted Jason Kohn the young men who initiated today’s event, his parents, and a few of his friends, all passionate about Africa. I introduced myself and we talked about their initiative and their passion for Africa while some of the kids unloaded the two bikes I donated and stacked them against dozens of others bikes neatly arranged on the asphalt. I spent few more minutes’ chit-chatting before saying goodbye, and got into my car. While I was putting the key in the ignition to start the car, I murmured to myself, “Jason loves Africa… so does America” before driving off…
In today’s America where most in the international development community are wondering about the Trump administration stance on Africa, Jason and his friends with their good deeds remind us, this simple fact; before there was a government, there are people and there lies the answer.
A strong and stable relationship between the United States and Africa is undoubtedly at the center of the Trump overall foreign relations. Washington’s support to the security of the continent, especially as part of the global war on terrorism is probably an essential part of “making America great again” US foreign policy, however many non-governmental or “people-to-people” interactions such as trade and cultural exchanges as well as initiatives such as Jason’s are paramount. This dependence is expected to remain unchanged in the foreseeable future.
As history teaches us, whether it be slavery, the rise of African Nationalism, or the Cold War, America and the African continent have a complicated history full of contradictions, but ultimately the strength of the relationship lies in people-to-people engagement on both continents.
About Wheel To Africa:
During a vacation in Africa with his mother, 10-year-old Winston Duncan was struck by the distances that people had to walk to find food, water, and medical care. It was then that he decided that he needed to find a way to help
His answer: Collect bikes, because “everyone has an old bike”!
In Africa, a bike is a lifeline to survival for many people. It is often their only means to access food and water, markets, education, and jobs. Winston’s passion has motivated family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances to organize annual drives across three states
*Omar Arouna is the immediate past Ambassador of the Republic of Benin to the United States of America. He answers regularly present to initiatives that touch on US-Africa Relations and is President & CEO GlobalSpecialty, LLC.
The summit will take place on the 7th of June, collocated at the Datacloud Europe 2017 conference in the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco. This is the prime forum for leaders, innovators and investors from Africa, Europe and beyond to meet, network and do deals.
“Africa is a growth story for the next decade,” commented Philip Low, Chairman, BroadGroup, the consulting company who research and produce Datacloud. “Attendees will be able to hear from and meet the leadership of companies pioneering the evolution of digital networks and critical facilities across the continent along with a financial perspective with the International Finance Corporation and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in attendance.”
The theme of internal data center and connectivity developments within Africa will be explored by speakers from data centers in Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Morocco taking part in Leadership Roundtable discussions.
Companies such as Schneider Electric, Flexenclosure, Etix Everywhere, The Uptime Institute, Minkels, APL, & NxtVn who are facilitating partnerships between the African and European data center communities will exhibit at Datacloud Europe 2017.
“No forum so far has focused on this tremendous opportunity to explain the much-needed data center investment opportunity, galvanize interest and significantly impact the development of digital technologies across the continent. We hope that the Summit will better serve the unique needs of partnership and innovation from Scandinavia to South Africa” said Marcello Brescia, Africa Business Lead at BroadGroup.
Datacloud Europe 2017 is EMEA’s foremost networking and business deal making forum for data center and cloud players, their customers, investors and suppliers. Attracting 1800+ executives from more than 60 countries as well as 90+ exhibiting companies, delivering a unique networking opportunity and a chance to secure real-time deals.
Sponsor and exhibitor opportunities are now open. Take action to assure your participation in what will be the EMEA’s largest infrastructure and IT event including this highly-targeted summit for Africa.
Emmanuel Macron’s decisive win in the French presidential election has not only spurred enthusiasm in Europe. Across Africa, where France retains huge influence in its former colonies, his election has been celebrated in the hope that it will usher in a radical change in France’s African policy. The BBC’s Lamine Konkobo looks at what that change might look like.
Africa’s ‘Ode to Joy’ moment
It was a very powerful, if subtle, symbol.
On Sunday evening, as supporters of Emmanuel Macron gathered at the Louvre’s Esplanade in central Paris waiting for their champion to arrive and address them, the podium was turned for about 15 minutes into a gigantic dance floor by one of Ivory Coast’s most famous bands.
Magic System took to the stage, flooding the Parisian night with rhythms and dance moves not often heard and seen in this part of town.
Mr Macron had originally taken to the stage to the European anthem Ode to Joy for his victory speech but for African audiences watching on television, this was their Ode to Joy moment.
It was a nod to Africa; a nod that reflected the positive message of openness and universalism which has underlined Macron’s winning campaign.
It could also be seen as one in the eye for defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who must have felt repulsed by such a cultural invasion.
If the sight of Magic System at the Louvre was refreshing for Africans, that is not why the French presidential contest was closely watched across Africa.
Mr Macron is expected to deliver on issues of far greater importance in respect of the continent.
Fighting Islamist militancy
Mr Macron has said little on his African policy on the campaign trail, because Africa was not a decisive topic that could give him the votes he needed to win.
However, from the little he said about the continent, it appears that fighting Islamist militancy will be prominent on his African agenda.
He was elected while France was under a state of emergency following a series of Islamist attacks in recent years, some of which were carried out by people with African links.
But while on the campaign trail, he made it clear that he realised that France was not the only country affected:
“Africa is struggling more and more with terrorism,” he told Jeune Afrique.
“We saw it in Bamako [Mali], in Ouagadougou [Burkina Faso] and in Grand Bassam [Ivory Cost].”
Islamist militants targeted hotels in all these places last year, killing many people, including foreign tourists.
“Everyone should get involved in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
France has deployed about 4,000 troops in the Sahel region of Africa as part of the anti-terrorism Barkhane operation.
The president-elect has no plan of withdrawing these troops in the foreseeable future.
On the military front, France’s policy in Africa under Mr Macron will be more of the same.
On aid, trade and development
There is a famous saying that nations have no permanent friends but only permanent interests.
Mr Macron has been elected to serve France’s interests and he will do so in his relationship with Africa, political analyst Serge Theophile Balima told the BBC.
“Macron is a neo-liberal who believes in businesses and trade,” Mr Balima says.
“He will do his utmost to open Africa to a maximum of French businesses. That is obvious.”
However, the new president believes that partnership with the continent will be more beneficial if Africa is strong.
As a candidate, he vowed to lobby the G20 at its July summit in Germany to support economic development in African countries.
In more clearer terms he has pledged to channel to Africa most of France’s foreign aid, which he intends to increase to 0.7% of his country’s GDP.
However, Mr Macron comes to power at a time when a growing movement of economists and political leaders have been pushing for a major reform they view as more empowering than aid.
One sign of France’s continued influence over its former colonies is the CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro with the financial backing of the French treasury.
While some see it as a guarantee of financial stability, others attack it as a colonial relic.
Critics say true economic development for the 14 African countries can only be achieved if they shake off the CFA currency.
Some argue that in exchange for the “luxury” of the guarantee provided by the French treasury, the African countries channel more money to France than they receive in aid.
Ms Le Pen said that if elected, she would drop the link. While no previous French president has ever expressed a willingness to let go of the CFA, Mr Macron says the decision to move away from it is for African countries to take.
Breaking from antiquated politics
France’s African policy has come under attack from pro-democracy activists since the 1990 Baule conference, at which former President Francois Mitterand issued a call for African countries to embrace democracy, following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Critics have consistently railed against what they perceive as a form of hypocrisy.
They say France has repeatedly used anti-democratic means on the continent to further dictatorships or overthrow unfriendly governments if they serve French interests, while openly extolling democratic values.
The system of personal networks which backed these controversial practices is pejoratively referred to as “Francafrique”.
The times are long gone when a French commando unit would fly parachutes in broad daylight into an African capital to restore a deposed head of state.
But Francafrique is not totally dead.
Mr Macron says he will finally kill it off.
He says he will defend and respect fundamental democratic principles everywhere in Africa, working with the African Union and regional organisations.
But how will he deliver where his predecessors failed to meet similar promises?
“I think he is in a position to bring that end,” analyst Mr Balima told the BBC.
“First of all, he is young. He does not belong to the old generation. He has few friends in the Mafiosi circles in Francophone Africa.”
“When meeting African heads of state, some will be embarrassed to speak to this man who could be their son.”
African leaders will no longer benefit from the former era’s complicity, Mr Balima says.
“A head of state in a situation of bad governance… could not count on Macron to mobilise the French army to quash a rebellion in a military barracks.”
If Mr Macron delivers on that promise, he would indeed turn a page that has been a source of much acrimony in French-African relations.
Addressing wounds from the past
And how France should remember its colonial legacy is closely related to the issue of whether it still pursues a neo-colonial policy in Africa.
Right-leaning French political leaders have long maintained that colonisation was not only about forced labour, exploitation and mass graves but that colonised countries also benefited.
In 2005, under President Jacques Chirac, a provision enshrining that patriotic view in law was passed. However, it was repealed a year later as a result of an outcry in France as well as in some of its former colonies and overseas territories.
Nicholas Sarkozy, as a candidate and later on as president, often complained about being tired of endlessly apologising for his country’s past transgressions.
Unlike those politicians on the right, Mr Macron considers that recognising the wrongs France did in its past interaction with African people is crucial in redefining the type of dialogue necessary for the new relationship with the continent.
As a candidate on a visit to Algeria, he stirred a controversy by branding as a crime against humanity France’s colonial war in Algeria.
While that statement was condemned by Ms Le Pen and her supporters, it was well received across the whole of French-speaking Africa.
What was strikingly different between Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen was how the two approached immigration.
Ms Le Pen’s closed-border proposition was that she “has love for the Africans but only if they are at home in Africa”, while Mr Macron has defended a policy of immigration that should be defined by France’s needs.
In other words, under President Macron, there would be no reason to stop an African from coming to France if they have skills that are useful to the country’s economy.
Since the 1970s, waves of migrants from North Africa and then former colonies south of the Sahara have found their way into France, playing a role in various sectors of the country’s economy.
Mr Macron does not say he will make immigration from Africa easier. But nor will he obsess about tightening immigration control to stem a real or supposed flow of migrants from Africa.
“That is part of the dynamics of [his] liberalism,” Mr Balima told the BBC.
The president-elect has said he would encourage foreign students and those with useful skills to move to France.
With Mr Macron’s liberal attitude to immigration, isn’t there a fear that Africa might end up losing its best talents?
Not really, says Mr Balima. “There will always be enough manpower within Africa for the development of Africa.”
Chadian president Idriss Deby Itno (R) speaks with French far-right Front National (FN) party candidate for the presidential election Marine Le Pen on March 21, 2017 at the presidential palace in N’Djamena. Le Pen arrived on March 21, 2017 in Chad to visit French soldiers deployed against jihadists, ignoring protests from the regime’s main opposition. / AFP PHOTO / BRAHIM ADJI
There is a very important presidential election coming up in France in which one of the main contenders for the presidency is the National Front (FN) led by Marine LePen. The FN is a party of the far right; a strongly nationalist party whose main programme is an anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic and anti- European Union policy aimed at eliminating or reducing France’s role in the globalisation of the world economy. It has gained an increasing share of support among the French electorate.
Marine LePen visited the former French colony of Chad rcently where 3,500 French soldiers are engaged in Operation Barkhane through which the French are seeking to secure the Sahara-Sahel region from terrorist attacks and to protect its source of uranium ore in nearby Niger. While she was there she pledged to break with her country’s decades-old relationship with Africa known as “Françafrique” and abolish the CFA franc currency policy that binds Paris and its former colonies. This was followed by a demand for France to leave the European Union and the Euro currency zone.
These policies were designed for their appeal to the ultra-right nationalists of the French electorate but they will also have a dramatic and disastrous effect on francophone Africa and its neighbours. The most important of these factors is the conflict over the Communuate Financiere de l’Afrique (“CFA’) franc, the common currency in francophone Africa. At its inception, the CFA was pegged at 100 CFA for each French franc but, after France joined the Euro zone at a fixed rate of 6.65957 French francs to one Euro, the CFA rate to the Euro was fixed at CFA 665,957 to each Euro, maintaining the 100 to 1 ratio. It is important to note that it is the responsibility of the French Treasury to guarantee the convertibility of the CFA to the Euro.
The monetary policy governing such a diverse aggregation of countries is uncomplicated for African Central Banks because it is, in fact, operated by the French Treasury, without reference to the central fiscal authorities of any of the African states. Each African state must deposit 65% (now reduced to 50%) of its foreign reserves with the French Treasury plus an additional 20% for administration. This means that since the early 1960s around 85% of the Africans’ foreign reserves have been transferred to France. These are deposited in the “operations accounts” controlled by the French Treasury. The two CFA banks are African in name, but have no monetary policies of their own. The countries themselves do not know, nor are they told, how much of the pool of foreign reserves held by the French Treasury belongs to them as a group or individually. The earnings of the investment of these funds in the French Treasury pool (at a rate of 0.75%) are supposed to be added to the pool but no accounting has ever been given to either the banks or the countries of the details of any such changes. The limited group of high officials in the French Treasury who have knowledge of the amounts in the “operations accounts”, where these funds are invested; whether there is a profit on these investments; are prohibited from disclosing any of this information to the CFA banks or the central banks of the African states. This makes it impossible for African members to regulate their own monetary policies. A recent Bloomberg survey estimates that the French Treasury is holding at least US$20 to $40 billion in African foreign reserves which are held in the name of the French Treasury.
African governments do not have access to these funds held by the Treasury but are allowed to borrow their own money from the French at commercial rates. In addition to the difficulties posed by the French Treasury holding unaccounted African money, France is in financial trouble. France has run out of money. It has massive public and bank debt. The reason it has been able to sustain itself so far is because it has had the cushion of the cash deposited with the French Treasury by the African states since 1960. Much of this is held in both stocks in the name of the French Treasury and in bonds whose values have been offset and used to collateralise a substantial amount of French gilts, including pledges to the ECB.
This has happened before. In 1994, the French Treasury simply devalued the CFA franc by 50%, changing from a parity of one French franc for 50 CFA francs to the pre-Euro 100 CFA francs. This caused havoc in the African economies but the African Heads of State of did not do anything or make provisions for changing the relationship with France over their currencies. In a meeting in Yaounde in November 2016 another devaluation was mooted but was postponed.
Francophone Africa’s current problem is the threat of an electoral victory by the FN whose promise is to abandon Françafrique, the Euro and the European Union. That will mean that the African reserves held by the French Treasury and hypothecated by the French in their sale of French bonds and gilts and pledged as collateral to the ECB will be forfeit and irretrievable as they are in the name of the French Treasury.
Mamadou Koulibaly, the former President of the Ivory Coast National Assembly, has been holding meetings over the last four months trying to promote an awareness of the dangers of this. There are others equally concerned. They point out that even if LePen and the FN do not win, her opponents are also not committed to assist the African states. They, too, have pledged a revision of the terms of Françafrique.
This is a time of grave danger for Africa as a whole as many African economies, including the francophones, are involved in numerous intra-African projects of the AU, the Millennium Challenge and the World Bank-IMF programs. Now is the time to act.
The non-francophone states of the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) have already created a mechanism for the introduction of an African Single Currency the ECO. The ECO is the name of the common currency that the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) has agreed to introduce within the framework of ECOWAS in 2020. After its introduction, the goal is to merge the new currency with the West African CFA franc, creating a common currency for much of West Africa. The WAMZ member countries include Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The purpose of creating the ECO is to produce a common currency for all of West Africa which will reflect the needs and opportunities for trade which link African economies together and to provide a common platform for interaction with non-African currencies. There are further plans to link the ECO with the rest of the CFA zone later as well as with the emerging East African Community (EAC) and the Common Monetary Area (CMA) of Southern Africa.
In order for these plans to become reality it will be the urgent task of the francophone CFA states to get a transparent statement of their tranche of funds being held by the French Treasury. Several West African Heads of State have already requested this. When these balances are disclosed and agreed they can then be transferred, en bloc, to the new ECO and the CFA franc and its infrastructure then dissolved.