Nigeria begin their World Cup campaign against Croatia on June 16 in Kaliningrad, before facing Iceland on June 22 and then Argentina on June 26.
|Djibouti hopes to reach a rapid and equitable solution that is in accordance with the law|
DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti, June 12, 2018/ — On 22 February, the Republic of Djibouti (www.Presidence.dj) terminated the DCT (Doraleh Container Terminal) concession, in which DP World is a shareholder and operator. This decision was taken after numerous unsuccessful attempts to get DP World to renegotiate a contract that was clearly contrary to the fundamental interests of the nation.
This termination is a sovereign decision, part of a legal procedure, and executed at the end of a transparent process. It was instigated by an unfair and unbalanced contract, the clauses of which imposed unacceptable limits on Djibouti’s development policy. The decision is linked to an exceptional and aberrant situation that by no means calls into question the strength or credibility of the signature of the Republic of Djibouti.
The decree terminating the concession, as well as the law governing it, provide for a compensation procedure in accordance with commonly accepted international rules and practices. This compensation procedure will continue, despite the obvious unwillingness of the former partner. Djibouti hopes to reach a rapid and equitable solution that is in accordance with the law.
The termination of the contract has in no way stopped port operators from expressing their confidence and interest in the new public structure that has taken over its management – SGTD (Doraleh Container Terminal Management Company). Singaporean ship-owner PIL signed an agreement in March to triple transshipment traffic handled by the terminal. Numerous discussions are underway with other major players in the sector. The port’s productivity has undergone a marked increased since its operation was placed in the hands of its Djiboutian managers.
Djibouti’s scope and ambition goes way beyond the success of Doraleh port. Major investments are ongoing and the amounts committed attest to the confidence of international partners: the Djibouti-Addis-Ababa railway line, Tadjourah mineral port, Goubet port, Doraleh multipurpose port, the start of construction work on the new Djibouti mega free zone in Khor Ambado and the launch of the Damerjog industrial development free zone, etc. One of the more recent agreements is for an ambitious energy sector project. The first phase provides for the commissioning of a gas pipeline between Ethiopia’s Ogaden Basin natural gas fields and the coast of Djibouti. The second phase concerns the construction and operation of a natural gas liquefaction plant and a gas terminal in the Damerjog area, all privately financed by the mega project’s developer, China’s POLY-GCL Petroleum Group Holdings Limited, to the tune of US$4 billion.
These major projects are being undertaken within a particularly attractive macroeconomic and regulatory framework. Economic growth is expected to remain at high levels – around 7% for 2018 and 2019 – making Djibouti one of Africa’s top ten economies in terms of growth. The Djiboutian Franc is a stable currency, pegged to the US dollar, freely convertible (without restriction) and its exchange rate has remained unchanged since 1973.
The sustainability of these investments is buoyed by the Republic of Djibouti’s ambition and by excellent medium- and long-term prospects, since Djibouti is strategically located at the crossroads of one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, linking Europe, the Far East, the Horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf. Quite naturally, Djibouti positions itself as the main gateway to East Africa, and particularly Ethiopia, an emerging nation of 100 million people and the Republic of Djibouti’s leading strategic partner. While maintaining very close relations with its other traditional partners, Djibouti is linked to China’s big New Silk Road development strategy. In reality, Djibouti is the entry point to a formidable logistics corridor designed to serve an emerging African continent.
Djibouti’s investment ambitions are being rolled out in a context of optimal security. Its solid institutions guarantee stability and visibility in an often difficult regional context. It is a welcoming land where dialogue is key. The country’s respect for its international commitments since its independence has made it a reliable and respected player in the concert of nations. Djibouti is an essential partner for peace, and a stalwart in the fight against terrorism and piracy, hosting on its territory American, Chinese, French, Japanese, European (Operation Atalanta) and Saudi military bases. Thus Djibouti ensures the de facto safety of the world’s main shipping route through which 70% of international traffic passes.
|AIS 2018 focused on innovative and disruptive solutions to the major challenges facing African countries, which include energy access, water, food insecurity, health systems, and governance|
| KIGALI, Rwanda, June 11, 2018/ — The Africa Innovation Summit (AIS) (www.AfricaInnovationSummit.com) closed on Friday with a resonating call to action addressed to innovators, government leaders, private sector, civil society and academia: “Let us throw out the boxes that have caged us”. The overwhelming view of the Summit was that in order to nurture, empower and propel African innovators and their solutions forward, a multi-sectorial and multi-stakeholder approach must be taken to ensure policies, investments and enabling ecosystems are put in place to support African innovation without apology or hesitation.
Some of the Summit’s themes, which were explored in action-oriented workshops from 6-8 June 2018, included the following, to mention a few:
Speaking about the role of government, Mr Carlos Lopes, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said: “It is not a question of knowing what is right but doing what is right. We need to be tough with our leaders. It is a pre-condition for change. We have a wave of transformation in Africa. There is political will to translate Africa’s dreams into practical tools. We need to harness our negative energy and change it into dynamism.”
From 600 applications of the 44 countries, a selected group of 50 innovators had a unique opportunity to engage stakeholders in discussing potential solutions to some of the blockages that are preventing solutions from going to scale.
Lowell Scarr, one of the 50 innovators at AIS 2018, has been studying and working in the insect industry, and is currently living in Grahamstown in South Africa. His innovation, Nambu, proposes a solution by bridging challenges in the Agriculture and Food Security sector. Nambu transforms food waste into animal feed as “30% of the food is wasted in South Africa” and there is an “increase in animal feed shortage”. Scarr said that the biggest challenges he encountered as an innovator was being able to “overcome fear and getting it done”, adding that it is not always about the lack of financial resources but more about “finding the time to do it and getting into the right mind-set”.
Francis Nderitu Mwangi, top 50 innovator with his solution, Vakava Quickgold, which provides unbreakable cold chains in agriculture from post-harvest to the last mile by storing cold energy in dry ice batteries that do not need to rely on any external power sources, outlined one of the challenges innovators face in Africa: “I feel like there’s some sort of discrimination towards the local innovators. Our own African investors tend to invest in foreign innovations. There are also infrastructure issues, as rural Africa does not have good connectivity and is therefore not able to receive our network.”
AIS 2018 focused on innovative and disruptive solutions to the major challenges facing African countries, which include energy access, water, food insecurity, health systems, and governance. As a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and actions, AIS is Africa’s only summit on innovation that seeks to foster action-driven dialogue between African innovators and stakeholders in Government, private sector, civil society and academia to ensure African solutions are concretely given the opportunity to scale in a measurable way. The summit has also created a community of innovators that will not only meet to dialogue on solutions but also create ecosystems that will enable them to share ideas and network beyond the summit.
In his final call to action, Dr. Olugbenga Adesida, co-Director of AIS, calls for a bolder imagination about the future by Africans and a sense of urgency around Africa’s transformation. He noted that innovation is a pre-requisite for Africa’s transformation and that all stakeholders must engage to facilitate greater collaboration. Africa must ensure greater self-reliance by mobilizing domestic funding to promote innovation and support our innovators; The future belongs to them. We must build robust ecosystems for innovation in our respective countries on the continent. Africa cannot simply be consumers, nor can it outsource its development. We all must engage with a new sense of urgency to facilitate change!
The presence of the Top 50 African Innovators in Kigali was made possible by the sponsorship of the European Union Commission. Other key partners and sponsors included the Government of Rwanda, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Government of Luxemburg, NEPAD Agency, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), Afreximbank, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), YAS (UNDP & Accenture), Usawa.io, BADEA, PATH, International IDEA, OIF Ethiopia Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
The AIS (www.AfricaInnovationSummit.com) is an Africa-wide and home grown initiative aimed at harnessing the innovation potential of the continent. It aims to mobilize people with the ‘power to act’, including investors, innovators, policy makers, researchers and academics, the business community, the youth, as well as thought leaders and thinkers into a coalition for collective action to promote and build an enabling environment for innovation in Africa. The goal is to engage as many people as possible in order to build a broad constituency in support of innovation in Africa.
The AIS platform includes regular Summits to promote dialogue, facilitate exchange of best practices among stakeholders and African countries, showcase what is happening on the continent, and share lessons of experience. The platform also includes engaging with African researchers and scholars to undertake case studies to tease out lessons of experience in order to facilitate learning by stakeholders. The African Innovation Exhibit which is also part of the AIS provides a stage to showcase homegrown innovations and innovators on the continent, while the Hackathons will challenge the people to come up with solutions to specific problems. The exhibitions and hackathons will allow stakeholders to seek ways to scale up potential solutions.
Each AIS will build on the previous ones by deepening the dialogue, engaging a wider number of stakeholders, as well as focusing Africa’s innovation potential to address the challenges facing the continent. The aims are to identify path breaking ideas and disruptive solutions to be developed and/scaled up in Africa as well as build a constituency to help address the fundamental challenges facing the continent.
By Nevson Mpofu
Trade and Economic Development in the African Region must be put on the fore-front through Regional Integration and policy development. Despite the fact of some economic improvements in the African Region, Integration, policy development and Information dissemination gaps must be closed so as to further improve some dark areas especially on Information dissemination that has lagged behind on issues related to Trade and Development and Regional Integration at continental level.
Addressing a pack of 30 Journalists from the African Region recently in South Africa, Cape Town, Trade Law Centre Executive Director Trudi Hartzenburg said it is vital for Journalists who report on Economic issues to dwell on the subject of Trade and Development and far fetch information on Regional Integration.
‘’African Countries are forging ahead with the times in Economic Development , Trade and Law and on Integration issues , but however , there is need for more information to highlight dark areas of gaps which need to be addressed in order to stir more change .
‘’For countries to improve on the development of their economies, more information dissemination is vital throughout the African Region. In addition to that Trade policies, Laws, frameworks and strategies must be articulated correctly.
‘These instruments from the International level, Regional to National level must address core issues for Economic Development. There-fore, media plays a role in fostering economic Development through information dissemination at all levels of concern.
Reporting for Economic Development is key since Africa is still with many developing countries with low Gross Domestic Products and Low Income per-capita due to low levels of Domestic Exports. Many countries in the African Region have seen the green light in Economic Development because of Regional organizations impacts on Trade .
Some of these important organizations are the then Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference [SADCC][ which later was changed to SADC , COMESA , Preferential Trade Agreements [PTA] , Southern Africa Customs Union [SACU] , ECOWAS , East African Community [EAC] and those surrounding Africa like European Union [EU] ,World Trade Organization[WTO] , NATO and African Caribbean and the Pacific [ACP] .
‘’African countries can only see the green light through smart Regional partnerships , however linking on Trade issue with the outside of Africa , help countries to develop themselves . Regional Integration must move further to define itself out of the African box to join with the World Trade Organization. Such partnerships make countries achieve on Sustainable Development Goals in line with poverty reduction through Regional co-operation, Integration and policy development at International levels.
‘’One important critical organization to work with is the International Trade organization WTO]. It is pathetic to note that out of 54 countries in the African Region , only a few have over the recent years been affiliated to World Trade Organization which by then had only 164 countries , some of them , the developed countries of the World .
‘’That is one main reason why we are behind the camera of economic development. African countries shun some of the most important economic activities at the expense of its population. Besides, this is true as well with other countries like in some parts of Asia , Europe and Latin America .
‘’Instead of talking of Regional Integration , we are supposed to talk about Global Integration , looking at how possibly we can shoulder up and grapple challenges of poverty and less growth in Gross and National Domestic Product . As well, we need more of Global Integration, policy development and improvements in Law issues related to Trade so that we can move ahead with the times’’ , Trudi elucidated .
Trudi also touched on issues as well on Preferential Trade Agreements which focus on trade agreements in the area of Trade and Development. Such advantageous preferences are related to zero or low tariffs when countries are in trade issues. A good example is the Generalized Tariffs countries in the developed world grant in form of preferential tariffs so that they may have imports from developing countries.
Professor Gerhard Erasmus added that zero and low tariffs improve on issues in trade there-by facilitating fast development. The link and friendly co-operation of countries according to Professor Gerhard is an advantage to those in the developing world, but there is need for the developed world to work in unison with the developing ones so that economic growth can easily be realized without any difficulties at all.
‘’Agreements in trade are very important as long as they last and bring the desired goals of economic development meant to improve on the lives of the general population in the World. As long countries are in agreements, they foster economic growth to regional levels, and then there is need for further developments ascending to regional and international heights.
‘’Thus why some countries have gone up in short periods of the decades passed. It is because of Trade Agreements meant to foster economic development at national to regional until it’s at international levels ‘’
‘’Economic growth ‘is spearheaded by policy development at all levels with the interventions of frameworks and strategies building up on better relationships. Some countries have focused more on policy, research for economic development aligning relationships and affiliating memberships at regional levels.
‘’At last they made their way into becoming fast developing countries until they became recognized at global levels. But, it needs our effort and strength to stimulate Investments through policy development. Through the African Continental Free Trade Area , some economies have molded to better strength in Trade with their partners.
Giving his echoes in the vibrancy of more sentiments in an exclusive interview in Harare Dr Prosper Chitambira , Labour and Economic Development Research in Zimbabwe [LEDRIZ][ Economic Advisor said Southern Africa Customs Union is a force to reckon with because these states implement a common tariff imports from outside the region. This, he added on, forms a common customs territory under which issues pertaining to their challenges are equally addressed at regional level.
‘’This is a pool of customs and revenue seen also as an anvil to the development of key policies for better economies to be developed through integration and partnerships in Trade and Development .The common policies swim in strategic areas like in Industrial development for economic growth looking specifically 3 main sectors of the economy, Agriculture , Mining , and Manufacturing Industry .
‘’Apart from that , the union removes out signs of un-fair trade practices which hinder economic development for growth at national and regional level .
‘’Countries in the Region must address their thorny issues through Regional integration and economic co-operation. It is vital to merge countries, make them share and remove obstacles which hinder economic development through policy and better economic networks. Economic development is shown by Industrial development descending low absolute poverty levels. From above , high levels of employment indicates social and economic change with time in any part of the region’’, he took head on to a close . .
SACU SOUTHERN AFRICA CUSTOMS UNION is comprised of Southern African countries like South Africa , , Botswana , Namibia , Lesotho and Swaziland .SACU was established in order to enable member states to implement a common external tariff on imports from outside the territory . The four day workshop had media practitioners from South AFRICA , Zimbabwe , Namibia , Ethiopia , Madagascar and Rwanda .
NAIROBI June 11,2018-African continent is likely to be subjected to reliance on the ‘unpredictable’ foreign aid unless its over 50 countries agree on a multi-agency collaboration to investigate and fight illicit financial flows, a taco of fences and other financial crimes training conference in Nairobi has been told.
From the surprise acceptance of a peace agreement with bitter rival Eritrea, to the opening of major state-owned sectors to private investment, plus the release of thousands of prisoners including opposition figures once sentenced to death, the 42-year-old Abiy Ahmed has kept Africa’s second most populous country buzzing.
On Tuesday alone, Parliament kicked off by lifting the state of emergency imposed in response to the protests demanding greater freedoms that began more than two years ago. It marked the most dramatic change yet under Abiy’s rule.
By nightfall there was bigger news: the prospect of peace with neighboring Eritrea after nearly two decades of border skirmishes and a two-year war.
Almost as an afterthought came word that Ethiopia, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, was opening state-owned enterprises in aviation, telecommunications and more to foreign investment or outright privatization. That opens the door for stakes in globally successful Ethiopian Airlines and Africa’s largest telecom company by subscribers, Ethio Telecom.
“Now I need to take an umbrella when I get into a shower so that I can grab my phone and follow these rounds of breaking news items,” joked one Ethiopian, Firew Megersa, on Facebook.
The new prime minister has dined with opposition leaders, named new army and intelligence chiefs and suggested that his own position should have term limits. He’s visited Saudi Arabia and secured promises that thousands of Ethiopians detained as illegal migrants would be released. He’s made new port agreements with neighbors along one of the world’s busiest shopping lanes.
In a colorful sign of his ambitions, Abiy even hinted that landlocked Ethiopia would revive its navy.
Citizens of the East African nation where the government once shut off social media to dampen criticism now find themselves expressing opinions without fear. The return of stability to a key Western security ally in a region with turbulent neighbors like Somalia and South Sudan has some breathing more easily.
Despite the whirlwind of change, many wonder just how far reforms can go in a country where the ruling coalition still holds every seat in Parliament and opposition has been punished.
“The language the prime minister is using is very conducive for coming closer, to listen to each other. But for an actual political engagement in the country you need a number of practical things to happen,” said Andargachew Tsige, an Ethiopia-born Briton and opposition leader who was snatched by Ethiopian intelligence agents in Yemen in 2014 and sent to death row.
Andargachew’s freedom last month, along with the release of a photo showing him and Abiy in the prime minister’s office, captivated many Ethiopians.
Despite his turn of fortune, Andargachew told The Associated Press: “We need to see on-the-ground concrete measures, not only releasing political prisoners, not only making good speeches.” Ethiopia needs independent institutions, he said.
While Abiy’s rise to power has led to a dramatic decrease in protests, critics say what he has done so far is simply “putting out fires.”
“Up until now I haven’t seen any policy direction from the new leader on how to solve Ethiopia’s chronic problems, like setting up an equal, competing space for all political parties and directions regarding the country’s macro- and microeconomic path,” said opposition politician Yilikal Getnet. Ethiopia suffers from massive debt and faces an acute foreign exchange crisis after exports fell short of targets.
Even the new prime minister’s popularity could turn out to be risky in a country with a history of long-ruling authoritarian leaders, Yilikal said.
“I agree his speeches are conciliatory but at the same time I see a tendency of slipping back into dictatorship, with both state and private media delving into creating a cult of personality around the new leader,” Yilikal said.
For now, some observers once alarmed by Ethiopia’s unrest have started to soften their tone.
“We are encouraged by recent developments,” said U.S. Embassy spokesman Nick Barnett, adding the U.S. is ready to support all efforts to build a “more representative political system.” Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the U.N. human rights office, said she had witnessed “tremendous hope” among civil society activists, traditional leaders and others.
The new prime minister “can’t change every individual’s life, but he is setting up the ground for changes to happen and create a national consensus among all Ethiopians,” said Seyoum Teshome, a prominent blogger who was arrested twice under the state of emergency.
By Lauren Zumbach
A flight scheduled to arrive at O’Hare International Airport on Monday will mark the start of the first direct flights between Chicago and Africa.
The Chicago Department of Aviation and Ethiopian Airlines announced the new thrice-weekly nonstop flights between O’Hare and Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, in the East African country’s capital city, earlier this year.
“We believe that the flight will further boost the growing relations between the USA and Africa in general, and Ethiopia in particular, by enabling greater flow of trade, investment and tourism,” Nigusu Worku, U.S. regional director at Ethiopian Airlines, said in an emailed statement.
When Air New Zealand begins flights between O’Hare and Auckland in November — another new service announced in March — Chicago will join the ranks of just five cities that have nonstop passenger flights to all six major inhabited regions of the world, according to Department of Aviation spokeswoman Lauren Huffman.
|The Summit’s speakers and guests represent the leading angel networks, VC funds, impact investors, accelerators, corporate venture divisions, industry associations, and public sector agencies
This year, the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit is set to kick off Cape Town’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, encompassing a number of leading industry events and numerous networking opportunities. The Summit organizers Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A) (https://VC4A.com) and the African Business Angels Network (ABAN) (https://ABANangels.org) have partnered with AfricaCom (https://goo.gl/TcU3jh) and AfricArena (http://AfricArena2018.com) to offer a full-week VIP Investor Pass giving access to all three events as well as Investor Cocktail, Industry Leaders Dinner and an Innovation Tour.
The Summit’s speakers and guests represent the leading angel networks, VC funds, impact investors, accelerators, corporate venture divisions, industry associations, and public sector agencies. Headlining the Summit are renown international and local investors from Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal, Ivory Coast, France, US, UK and The Netherlands, amongst many other countries.
The 2017 edition brought together over 300 investors from prominent African angel networks and VC funds, such as Singularity Investments, Accion, Blue Haven, 4Di Capital, Lagos Angel Network, SABAN, AngelHub Ventures, Teranga Capital, Outlierz, Algebra Ventures, Grey Elephant Ventures, Ringier, GSMA, Orange Digital Ventures. Among the attendees were international organizations and policy makers, such as IFC, the World Bank Group and the European Commission. Following a rigorous due diligence process, the event showcased 20 African digitally-enabled scale-ups from across the continent, resulting in a number of series A deals totaling over $12mln. The 5th anniversary event promises to further raise the bar, featuring renowned investors from overseas and stellar entrepreneurial talent from the continent.
Industry leaders explain the reasons they participate in this annual conference:
“The Africa Early Stage Investor Summit brings together a diverse network of people with a common interest of starting and building sustainable companies that solve real problems on the continent. The status of the partners on board and profiles of the speakers ensure that the event is thought provoking, educational and fun!” says Keet van Zyl, Partner at Knife Capital.
“I found the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit to be a great opportunity to network and learn from other investors from around the continent. The sessions were useful and provided great pan-African perspective of the investment landscape. I will highly recommend it” comments Kola Aina, CEO and Founder of Ventures Platform.
Ido Sum, Partner at TLCom Capital, comments further: “Being a regular participant in many such conferences, it was a unique collection of very high quality companies as well as the early stage tech focused African investors community. This intersection of top notch investors and founders led to a few great relationships and investment opportunities we looked in more depth into. I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the space to take part in the 2018 summit.”
Not only the pool of entrepreneurial talent across the continent is growing, but also the quality of ventures is improving. The pipeline of African innovative businesses has never been so investible. And where talent leads the way, money closely follows. More than 60 angel networks have been set up across the continent and a growing class of Africa-focused VC investors are backing and scaling the best of these high-growth startups. VC4A and ABAN co-host the Summit, specifically to create an annual meeting point for this growing investor community.
As in the previous years, the participants can expect a highly focused yet varied program consisting of workshops and masterclasses for investors by investors, rich networking experience, exclusive co-investment opportunities, as well as the latest trends, insights and industry research.
VC4A (https://VC4A.com) is an ecosystem builder that leverages its infrastructure, network and expertise for the programs that contribute to Africa’s startup movement. Since 2008, the organization designs, structures and implements successful entrepreneurship programs on the continent. VC4A runs an online platform, VC4A.COM, featuring the world’s largest database of African startups and connecting local entrepreneurs to learning resources, mentors, investors and partner programs.
The African Business Angel Network (ABAN) (https://ABANangels.org) is a Pan-African non-profit association. ABAN was founded in early 2015 to support the development of early stage investor networks across the continent and to grow the cohort of early stage investors excited about the opportunities in Africa.
Rwandans would like to wean themselves from American hand-me-downs, and the United States wants to punish them for it. Last week, the Trump administration suspended duty-free access to U.S. markets for Rwandan clothing. This may sound like inconsequential news, compared with the prospect of a trade war with China, the European Union or our Canadian neighbors, but the move follows a dangerous trend of disregard for Africa. And it’s not just Africans who will suffer: Neglecting the continent will foreclose trade opportunities, harm U.S. companies and, ultimately, cost U.S. jobs.
Rwanda and several of its neighbors recently introduced tariffs on used clothing in an attempt to bolster the local apparel industry. In response, a U.S. trade group filed a complaint, claiming that the new tariffs violate the terms of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which requires participating countries to reduce trade barriers for U.S. goods. Unlike its neighbors, Rwanda stayed the course. The administration has every right to retaliate under the terms of the act — but the move is inconsistent and shortsighted.
For a start, the administration can hardly claim to be acting on principle. More than 100 countries benefit from U.S. trade preference programs without returning the favor. Florie Liser, former assistant U.S. trade representative for Africa, notes that countries like India and Brazil, which are major exporters to the United States under the program known as the Generalized System of Preferences, “ship a lot more to us than Rwanda, yet have significant barriers to U.S. trade.” The selective decision to retaliate against Rwanda not only adds to the general trade turmoil damaging U.S. standing overseas but also is seen as a particular snub of Africa, where President Trump’s derogatory comments about its countries have not been forgotten.
The administration can’t claim to be protecting a vital American industry, either. The complaints of the used-clothing association — that Rwandan tariffs would have a negative impact on up to 40,000 U.S. jobs — are unsubstantiated. Rwanda, a country of approximately 12.5 million people, imported $17 million in used clothing in 2016, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. The clothes are primarily donations to organizations like the Salvation Army and Goodwill, bought by members of the trade group that lodged the complaint, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, and resold in Africa. Rwandan vendors sell them in market stalls.
Rwanda’s motivations are as much about dignity as they are about economics. Just as China recently banned imports of “foreign garbage” that it used to buy and recycle, Rwanda is taking a stand against the perceived indignity of buying clothes that others have worn and discarded. It would be a different story if Rwandans were rejecting icons of American ingenuity and enterprise, like cutting-edge medical devices or mobile technologies. But they’re not; they’re rejecting our hand-me-downs. The White House fails to grasp that, as well as the bigger picture for the United States. It’s not just Rwanda — the president is picking fights with trading partners old and new over relatively small amounts of U.S. imports and exports and with little regard for the long-term consequences. As relationships fray — even longtime allies feel under duress — the price to the United States rises; the country will pay not just in self-inflicted economic harm but also in diminished global leadership and reduced support for its national security priorities.
Banning used clothes is not enough to build Rwanda’s domestic textile and apparel industry, especially given competition from cheap Chinese imports of ready-made clothing. But there is a certain irony in Trump punishing Rwanda for protecting domestic manufacturing in what really is a Rwandan version of “America First.” More to the point, the United States ought to be supporting countries that pursue economic growth and development plans — not just because it is the right thing to do but also because the vitality of the U.S. economy depends on whether we have markets for our goods and services.
Until recently, supporting African economic growth was a key piece of U.S.-Africa policy. For instance, building on the African Growth and Opportunity Act’s strong legacy of bipartisan support, President Barack Obama launched the Trade Africa initiative to support regional economic integration and work toward a more reciprocal trade relationship. But the suspension of access for Rwandan apparel reinforces the sad truth that the Trump administration has no vision for trade with Africa. And there is no question that U.S. businesses will suffer as a result. Africa represents the last frontier for America’s export-driven economy, with consumer and business spending predicted to reach $6.7 trillion by 2030. A U.S. government report released last week cited motor vehicles, poultry and refined petroleum products among various sectors, as well as a range of services, with the potential for greater American exports to sub-Saharan Africa.
The United States misses a larger opportunity by engaging in petty trade squabbles and generally neglecting the continent. While it is true that the Trump administration maintains that it supports more reciprocal trade relationships with African states and has been studying trade and investment potential in certain African markets, advancing a strategic economic partnership with Africa requires more than talk. Actions — like threatening the funding of government agencies that support U.S. companies investing in Africa, leaving key ambassadorships vacant and deprioritizing trade programs — speak louder than words.
Meanwhile, other economies are making aggressive commercial plays in Africa. China has been Africa’s leading trade partner for the last nine years; trade scuffles like this one with Rwanda can only further drive African states into China’s open arms. Nor is it just China — the European Union has been actively traveling the region, signing two-way trade agreements that will disadvantage American companies far more than any tariffs on secondhand clothing.
It would be misguided to dismiss this row with Rwanda as a small issue with a small country. The larger economic picture is much more worrying.
After Fleeing from the Marauders – Refugee Stories
By Solomon Ngu*
Why the Biya government decided to launch war in the countryside, I suspect, was because he feared a Maoist-style revolution whereby villages mobilize enough fighters who eventually move en masse to capture the cities. Whether the government is succeeding in this or not is questionable. What we know is that some of the villages in the countryside have, through guerrilla tactics, put up strong and unbelievable resistance to the government forces. The Fighters are currently talking of cruising into Buea irrespective of whether they control the countryside or not. I must stress that the government forces barely occupy deserted portions of the villages; they haven’t captured any territory through combat. Those in the occupied parts of the countryside are living in the forests, have fled to unaffected villages or the city.
Photos and videos depicting the living conditions of Anglophone refugees in Nigeria and those living in the forests in Cameroon circulate daily on social media. Despite their condition, they – especially those living in the forests in Cameroon – go an extra length to take videos and photos within a setting where they do not have access to electricity to charge their phones. I recently got a call from one of my childhood friends, a farmer living in the burnt farming village of Munyenge and he said they have found a way to charge their phones by sneaking into those houses that have not been burnt down.
Villagers in the war zone, especially those in the thick forests region, do monitor the moves and location of the soldiers. They know which paths and routes to take if they want to leave the countryside. This task is further made easier by the Amba Fighters located in the villages. I met several people whose escape to Anglophone cities and to the Francophone side of the country was facilitated by these Fighters. These escapes are sudden and those fleeing have just a small window of opportunity to pick up a handful of their belongings.
To get a deeper understanding of the experiences of those who fled the countryside, I decided in mid April to visit some of the families hosting refugees. I talked with the refugees and must say their ordeal, courage and resolve to run for their lives in the face of advancing soldiers are worth commending. Take for example, the horrifying experience of Agnes (a pseudonym) who escaped into the forest for two days, leaving behind her very sick mother. She was too old to run with the others into the forest. Luckily, the grandma was still alive when Agnes returned from the forest. In less than an hour, she picked up her few belongings and was already on the run again to a neighboring village. The compound they fled into hosted more than 25 people. They all slept on the floor. She eventually reached Buea thanks to transportation money sent to her by her sister. In her words:
“We were told that there had been confrontations between the Fighters and the La Repubique [government] soldiers in a neighboring village which is about one day trekking from our village. We didn’t know the fight would reach us so soon. But events unfolded so quickly. I was on my way from the farm when I heard the sound of the guns. It sounded like the end of the world. Bullets rained on our roof. One of the falling bullets pierced through my new jacket.”
Agnes showed me scars of the wounds she sustained on her legs and arms as she ran through the forests with her children and mother. Amidst the commotion, she had forgotten to take money. She took another risk of returning to her house alone. She came face to face with the Fighters who were all dressed in Cameroon military uniform. The uniforms and weapons had been taken from killed and capitulated government soldiers. To her surprise, one of the Fighters called her by her name and instructed her to leave the village as soon as possible. This, she did.
Another story is that of a woman who is in her early 60s. Transport services into and out of her village were completely cut off after the government forces attacked. She took into the forest, trekking for more than 50km. It took her two days before she finally got to the Francophone town of Dschang from where she took a bus to Buea.
But here comes another problem, the challenge of living in the city. With tears in her eyes, Agnes described how life in Buea is strange and unfriendly. She had thought her refugee status would last only a few days but two weeks after getting to Buea, her village, including a semi-urban settlement around it, was completely deserted by mid April 2018. Agnes had lost her freedom and privacy and needed money to survive in the new place. She was a farmer, a money-lender and a trader in the countryside. She left the village at the beginning of the planting season meaning that there is a possibility she may starve next year if she returned to the village. In my recent communication with her, she wasn’t sure if she would ever return to her house.
During my stay in Cameroon, I traveled to a few border towns hosting refugees. I spent two days in Dschang where the car parks serving Anglophone passengers were scanty. Listening to the hardship of those hosting the refugees was heartbreaking. Nearly everyone I met in Dschang was hosting refugees from Lebialem. There is this friend of mine whose five relatives fled the village to live with her in late March. As of the time of writing this article, the number has increased to six. She has a two-bedroom apartment. She avoids loss of privacy and stress at home by spending most of her free time in the church and farm.
The government has refused to recognize the Anglophone refugee disaster. Talk less of any conversation about the Anglophone Crisis at the national parliament. Responding to my first post on this series, someone insinuated that ‘this mad war [has been] initiated by desperately power hungry Cameroon diaspora’. What he failed to mention was that the war was declared on Anglophones, the ‘terrorists’, by the president in November 2017. The Anglophone diaspora started supporting the Fighters after they realized that the soldiers were killing Anglophones indiscriminately. The minister of defense actually praised the soldiers for massacres in villages in Manyu Division where people resorted to fleeing to Nigeria. It is estimated that between 40.000 and 50.000 Anglophones have sought refuge in Nigeria.
The narrative put forth by the government surrogate such as the one who commented on my first post specifically aims at excusing the government of war against people it sees as despicable. How do I know this? How the Cameroon government choose to treat – or choose not to treat – its citizens who happen to be refugees tells a lot about who is considered a true Cameroonian. We have all seen how the government provides humanitarian relief to Francophone refugees fleeing Boko Haram attacks. They have been treated as unfortunate people whose humanity is being destroyed by terrorists. The Anglophone refugees, to quote Franz Fanon, live in a zone of non-being; a zone where people are not recognized as full humans and their lives are less valued.
In my next post I will focus on the Amba Fighters – how they are perceived in Anglophone Cameroon. Part of my argument will be that they do no longer want to condone the dehumanization they experience daily in their country.
*This is part of the series Life in a War Zone:30 Days in Ambazonia by Solomon Ngu for PAV under the blog Kamer Blues
-Women, delegates have chance to win $1,000
By Wallace Mawire
The African Women in the Media 2018 Conference, an event organised by award-winning journalist, Dr Yemisi Akinbobola, has Visibility as its theme and promises to empower delegates through panels, workshops and networking.
It is reported that attendees will experience keynote presentations, industry panels with leading names like Eugenia Abu, Lola Shoneyin, Stephanie Busari, Kunle Afoayan and much more, as well as academic panels and numerous training workshops.
“There are three tracks running simultaneously at any one time during the conference”, said Dr Akinbobola. “We don’t want to just talk about the issues, but through the workshops, pitch zone and networking opportunities, we are putting actions into place to empower attendees”.
The African Women in the Media group aims to impact positively the way media functions in relation to women, both in the industry and media’s representation of gender issues.
“Action is key here and we are so grateful to all our sponsors for their support”, adds Dr Akinbobola. “We are particularly excited to launch the AWIM/NRGI Award which comes with a $1,000 cash prize.”
AWIM18 Conference Highlights include CNN’s Nima Elbagir as Keynote Speaker,Prof Abigail Ogwezzy as academic Keynote Speaker.Three industry panels: Gender, Security and Election Coverage; Women in Media Leadership; Role of Fictional Content on Society’s Perspective of Women in Leadership.
Three academic panels: Break the Silence: Health, Violence and Media; Women Behind and In-Front of Camera; Women in Media: Participation, Advocacy and Youth
10 Training workshops: Data Journalism, Digital Marketing, Reporting in Conflict Zones, Newsroom Leadership, Vlogging for Change, to listen, engage and tell stories on social media to grow female audiences
Pitch Zone: Hosted by BBC and the Natural Resource Governance Institute who is funding the AWIM/NRGI Award where delegates can win £1,000 to produce their gender focused natural resources story Dinner parties and networking on both nights Roundtable discussions with speakers
African Women in the Media (AWiM) is a Facebook group that convenes annually. The first convening event took place in Birmingham, UK with panels from both academia and industry. The AWiM17 keynote speaker was Minna Salami. The group wants to challenge the way media functions in relation to African women, and seeks to inspire, support and empower its members.
Dr Yemisi Akinbobola is an award-winning journalist, academic, and media entrepreneur. A Nigerian living in UK, her work is Africa focused, covering stories from rape culture in Nigeria, to an investigative and data story on the trafficking of young West African football hopefuls by fake agents. The latter won the CNN African Journalist Award 2016 (Sports Reporting). Yemisi holds a PhD in Media and Cultural Studies from Birmingham City University where she is the Course Director for MA Global Media Management, and her research interest is in digital journalism and African feminism.
She is the founder of Stringers Africa, which connects freelance journalists in African countries with newsrooms worldwide, and she runs the African Women in the Media group. Founder also of IQ4News, a multimedia production company, she has freelanced for publications including the UN Africa Renewal magazine. Yemisi she has several years’ experience in communication management for charities.