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Why the wealth of Africa does not make Africans wealthy
April 19, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Kieron Monks*

A gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country holds natural resources worth trillions of dollars but the population is blighted with extreme poverty and violence. In a new edition of his book 'The Looting Machine,' investigative journalist Tom Burgis explores why resource-rich states are failing their people

A gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country holds natural resources worth trillions of dollars but the population is blighted with extreme poverty and violence.
In a new edition of his book ‘The Looting Machine,’ investigative journalist Tom Burgis explores why resource-rich states are failing their people

Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo is blessed with enormous natural wealth, including vast deposits of precious minerals such as diamonds, gold, and tantalum.

Katanga saw a spectacular mining boom around the turn of the century, when President Laurent-Desire Kabila and then his son Joseph licensed international mining companies to tap its treasures.
A diamond polishing factory in Botswana, part of a high-skill industry that has been developed from the nation's raw materials.

A diamond polishing factory in Botswana, part of a high-skill industry that has been developed from the nation’s raw materials.

This arrangement generated riches for the Congolese elite, and vastly more for the prospectors, but offered little to the poverty-ravaged population. From 1999 to 2002, the Kabila regime “transferred ownership of at least $5 billion of assets from the state-mining sector to private companies under its control… with no compensation or benefit for the State treasury,” a United Nations investigation found.

The bonanza coincided with a ruthless crackdown on dissent. In 2004, a small, mostly civilian group took over a mine operated by the Australian firm Anvil Mining in Kilwa village, protesting that the company was making huge profits without rewarding the local workforce.
According to a UN report, the Congolese army crushed the uprising and killed around 100 people, many by summary execution.

Modern colonialism

The combination of staggering wealth, rampant violence, and abject poverty in DR Congo is no coincidence, but part of a pattern causing devastation across Africa, according to Financial Times investigative journalist Tom Burgis.
In a new edition of his book The Looting Machine, the author probes the paradox of “the continent that is at once the world’s poorest and, arguably, its richest.”
Burgis, a former correspondent in Lagos and Johannesburg, finds a wide variety of kleptocrats and rackets over his travels through dozens of resource-rich countries. But a common thread is that the wholesale expropriation of resources during colonial times has barely slowed through the post-independence era, albeit with new beneficiaries.
“Western governments are not supposed to wield commercial and political power at the same time, and certainly not to use one to benefit the other,” says Burgis. “In colonial states…The British or Portugese would cultivate a small group of local people who would fuse political and commercial power to control the economy.”
“When the foreign power leaves, you are left with an elite that has no division between political and commercial power. The only source of wealth is mines or oilfields, and that is a recipe for ultra-corrupt states. Somewhere like Nigeria, an ‘extractor elite’…wanted to draw to itself the rent that oil and mining resources generate.”
Burgis cites another colonial hangover in the continued presence and power of oil and mining firms.
“The multinational companies hold enormous economic and political power in post-independence African countries,” he says. “In this way, there is a pretty straight line from colonial exploitation to modern exploitation.”

Fueling oppression

The ability of governments to rely on resource revenue leads to corruption and oppression, Burgis argues, as they are not accountable to their people through a social contract based on taxation and representation.
He cites Angola, which earns almost half of its GDP from oil, as an example of government as “a service for the elite.” A 2011 IMF audit revealed that $32 billion disappeared from official accounts between 2007 and 2010, a quarter of the state’s income.
The Angolan elite rejects accountability and does not tolerate any challenge from the public, Burgis adds, recalling the recent case of activists being jailed for a public reading of a pro-democracy book.
“Government can behave that way if it doesn’t need the consent of its people,” the author says.
Angola has taken steps to address such criticism in recent years, with the 2012 election deemed “generally free and fair” by neutral observers. But human rights groups attest that oppression remains a fact of life.

Secret deals

Innoson Motors factory in Nnewi. Nigeria is attempting to diversify its economy away from oil dependency, and towards manufacturing

Innoson Motors factory in Nnewi. Nigeria is attempting to diversify its economy away from oil dependency, and towards manufacturing

The growth of offshore banking in the late 20th century created new opportunities for resource tycoons to cover their tracks, a practice laid bare in the Panama Papers.

Israeli businessman Dan Gertler was an early pioneer. After forging a close friendship with DR Congo President Joseph Kabila, he was granted a near monopoly on exporting the nation’s diamonds, and quickly became a billionaire. Gertler routed the cash through an elaborate network of offshore accounts in tax havens, keeping the details of controversial deals secret.
“In the case of African resource deals, offshore funds have been shown to conceal questionable transactions,” says Burgis. “In the 1980s, bribes were literally cars full of cash and you handed the key to the official you were trying to bribe.”
“Bribery now is much more sophisticated, and has become harder to define as bribery if it’s (through) offshore transactions or people being given equity shares in offshore companies…You have to crack open a lot of offshore secrecy to see the conflict of interest that lies at the heart of them.”
The era of global finance has opened African markets to a new generation of mysterious traders. Burgis spent years on the trail of elusive Chinese businessman Sam Pa, who has cycled through multiple aliases while making deals across the continent from Angolan oil to Zimbabwean diamonds. Pa is believed to lead the secretive Queensway investor group, and Burgis claims he has represented the Chinese state, although the government denies this.

Breaking the chain

Burgis is skeptical that resource industries can ever be reformed.
“There is a troubling possibility that it’s not possible to put natural resources in these countries to work for the common good,” says Burgess. “(Almost) everywhere that receives a significant share of its income from oil or mining is badly run and often violent — it’s in the nature of these industries to cause these problems.”
Botswana and South Africa have befitted from moving up the value chain — developing high-skilled industries from natural resources rather than just exporting raw materials, such as diamond polishing or manufacturing metallic goods. Burgis believes that diversifying economies away from a single resource — as President Buhari’s government in Nigeria is attempting to do — can mitigate the effects of dependency.
He suggests another option is to keep resources in the country and implement high tariffs to protect domestic industries, but African leaders have been reluctant to adopt such measures.
“We have a world trading architecture with strict rules on imposing tariffs,” says Burgis. “African countries have adopted the market orthodoxy that led them to pare down states and embrace global economic competition — in which they are overwhelmingly the losers.”

Collective complicity

Responsibility for the plight of resource-dependent nations goes beyond traders and dictators. The global economy still requires a huge supply of raw materials that originate in Africa, creating an imperative to maintain the existing, destructive model.
Burgis applauds steps such as the Kimberley Process for preventing ‘blood diamond’ trade, but feels that developed nations could go much further.
“The lesson for those in the West who want to address the damage from oil and mining industries, and the corruption that goes with them, is ‘put your own house in order,'” he says. “There has been a tendency to lecture African rulers (but) the problems are in the world financial system.”
The author suggests a global public registry of companies and trusts to counter the use of shell companies in illicit deals.
“That financial secrecy is available is not Africa’s fault,” says Burgis. “Address the part that sits within the global system, which can be regulated from Western capitals.”
The nature of the global supply chain means that complicity with the crimes around resource extraction extends from African dictators all the way to a European mobile phone buyer.
At every level, delusion is a powerful barrier to change. Burgis recalls a meeting with a leading figure of Angola’s kleptocratic regime, who argued passionately that he was protecting his people from even worse abuses.
“It’s human nature,” says Burgis. “Nobody thinks they are the bad guy.”
*Source CNN
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HOW TECHNOLOGY IS ACCELERATING ECONOMIC GROWTH IN AFRICA
April 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ahmed Mheta

tech-894x640Technology has helped many countries around the world achieve economic growth. It is evident to most of us that technology speeds up and makes things we want to do easy. Technology can help in achieving economic and physical success. This article will look at how technology is accelerating economic growth in Africa and how people are benefiting from technological presense. According to Rupert Keeley, general manager for PayPal’s business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the rapid adoption of mobile technology and the growth of online shopping by an emerging middle class makes Africa a fertile region for expansion.

Health

Technology has changed the way healthcare is being delivered globally allowing individuals easy access to health resources and services. The technological health resources include health text messaging projects, portable sensors and mobile apps that ensure effective service. For example, an international NGO named Malaria No More is curbing the spread of Malaria in Africa and internationally through the use of mobile technology. People are able to donate money to treat an individual with malaria using a smartphone. In Ghana, the MOTECH initiative allows women to register to receive local-language messages that provide advice for healthy pregnancy. In addition, the initiative allows health workers the ability to use mobile phones to record health services provided. Healthy citizens turn out to be active members of society and contribute to economic growth through effective participation. It is important for African countries to pay more attention to the health of people in society.

Agriculture and Farming

In most African countries, agriculture supports the well-being of about 70 percent of the continent’s population. Mobile technology has played a major role as a transformative tool for rural agriculture. For instance, the Kenyan text messaging platform Sokoni SMS allows  farmers to transfer concise information about wholesale retails of crops and enabling other farmers to negotiate deals on agricultural stock. Sokoni users get value for their fees and their earnings have doubled as a result of access to timely text message market information. Finally, the role played by mechanical technology encompassing many agricultural operations cannot be forgotten. The use of engine powered equipment and irrigation systems that control volume of water is an example.

Banking

Technology has played a major role in how people bank their money and take care of their finances globally. The impact of technology can be seen in how people are banking in Africa today. An example of banking technological evolution in Africa, is the establishment of Safaricom’s  M-Pesa , a service that makes it possible for users to store money on their mobile phones and then use it to pay their electricity bills or send money to their loved ones via text. The use of smartphones has clearly improved how people manage their finances online and personally. Most Africans can now use their mobile phones to monitor their money online and purchase goods and services.

Education

The importance of technology has led to the growth of education in African countries. For instance, over 200 children in Ghana learned how to use computers through the Volta Regional Library’s mobile service. The library initiative brought computers to rural areas and taught students ICT skills necessary to aid them in passing their exams. Some students would not have had the opportunity to use computers in class while learning and only learn theory. Students are now able to implement new skills acquired to find information about farming which would improve the livelihoods of many people in Africa.

Mining

In South Africa, mining has been a major economic driving force for over 150 years ago. South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of platinum and one of the leading producers of gold and diamonds. Technology has played a major role in the success of mining in Africa. For example, mechanized mining seeks to use machinery to drill and extract minerals and metals. In addition, technology assists South Africa’s competiveness by maximizing  productivity. Miners are trained to use and maintain highly specialized equipment. This technology allows miners greater access to reserves that would be too dangerous to explore. South Africa is setting global mining  industry standards by the use of mechanization and robotics.

References:

“Mobile Health: Transforming the Face of Health Service Delivery in the African Region.” African Health Observatory

“Agriculture and Development in Africa.” Agriculture and Development in Africa. Ed. Cutler J. Cleveland.2007

“Text Message Services Improve Agriculture in Kenya.” Commodities and Futures Trading Blog Articles. 2015

Mennell,Rick. “South Africa Info.” South African Innovation Sets Pace for Mining Industry.2015

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South Africa: Blasphemy! Prophet Mboro Claims Jesus Has ‘Hot’ Wife
April 5, 2016 | 0 Comments
Prophet Mboro.

Prophet Mboro.

South African based controversial Paseka Motsoeneng, a self-styled ‘prophet Mboro’ has incensed many Christians with hi blasphemous comments on Sunday that his “visit in heaven” he found Jesus Christ has a “young, hot” wife.

Reports claim that in the first church service which he gave Sunday, the Prophet described heaven to his followers.

Talking about his heaven experience, Incredible Happenings Leader, Prophet Mboro, said Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour of the Christian Religion, has a young hot wife.

“I saw heaven and it is a surprise. Jesus for example, has a beautiful Xhosa wife. She is young, hot, and extremely attractive,” he said.

Christians generally do not want to hear any blasphemous statement against Jesus.

Mboro made international headlines last week after his followers claimed he was ‘abducted’ by God during an Easter service and taken to heaven.

Upon return, the man of cloth claimed he took pictures of heaven using his Samsung Galaxy S5 Smartphone.

His spokesperson proceeded to announce that the church would be selling photos of “heaven” a development which has seen Mboro roundly mocked online.

Although some of Mboro’s followers rushed to say that the story was satirical, that didn’t stop many from ridiculing the pastor.

“If the Americans can go to the Moon why can’t Pastor Mboro go to Heaven and take pics,” tweeted one. Another commented: “Don’t forget your selfie stick when U go to heaven.”

For those unable to afford the donation, there was also plenty of humorous speculation online about what the photos might show.

*Source Allafrica/Nyassa Times

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African Ministers of Energy to discuss opportunities for power sector investment this June
April 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

Over 130 speakers to date have confirmed to attend the 18th annual Africa Energy Forum (AEF), taking place in London this year from 22-24th June.

Ministers officially open the 2015 Forum: Hon. Dr Kwabena Donkor, Minister of Power Ghana; Hon. Mr. Mamadou Frankaly Keita, Minister of Energy and Water Mali; Hon. Mr. James Musoni, Minister of Infrastructure, Rwanda; Hon. Mr. Simon Dujanga, State Minister of Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Uganda; Hon. Amb. Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy, Sierra Leone; Hon. Mr Charles Zulu, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development Zambia

Ministers officially open the 2015 Forum: Hon. Dr Kwabena Donkor, Minister of Power Ghana; Hon. Mr. Mamadou Frankaly Keita, Minister of Energy and Water Mali; Hon. Mr. James Musoni, Minister of Infrastructure, Rwanda; Hon. Mr. Simon Dujanga, State Minister of Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Uganda; Hon. Amb. Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy, Sierra Leone; Hon. Mr Charles Zulu, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development Zambia

LONDON, United Kingdom, April 4, 2016/ — Over 130 speakers to date have confirmed to attend the 18th annual Africa Energy Forum (AEF) , taking place in London this year from 22-24th June. Widely considered the meeting place for Africa’s power sector professionals to discuss opportunities for investment into the power sector, 56% of the African continent was represented at the Forum in 2015.

Recent decision-makers confirmed include Honourable John Abdulai Jinapor, Acting Minister of Power, Republic of Ghana, H.E. Honourable Spéro Mensah, Minister of Energy, Petroleum and Mining Research, Water and Renewable Energy Development, Republic of Bénin, H.E. Honourable Mamadou Frankaly Keita, Minister of Energy and Water, Republic of Mali, Nick Hurd, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, Government of the United Kingdom, Brigadier General Emeldah Chola, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Water Development, Zambia and Karén Breytenbach, Head of IPP Projects, IPP Office, South Africa.

The agenda includes government keynote addresses, targeted industry seminars and plenary sessions, discussing topics such as how to accelerate renewable energy uptake, increase the bankability of projects, and encourage partnerships between the public and private sector. An exhibition of 80 solution providers enables attendees to network throughout the three days of the conference.

250New for 2016, North and East Africa regional panel discussions will bring together the regions’ governments to discuss how they can collaborate to support cross-border power developments and energy infrastructure. More specific country-focused sessions will also explore the investment landscapes in countries such as Mozambique, Nigeria and Ghana.

Sponsor of the Forum Access Power will host the ACF competition for local clean power entrepreneurs in Africa, allowing developers to pitch their projects to a panel of specialists for the opportunity to win US$7million in prize funding.

Organisers EnergyNet will host a ‘Festival of Energy’ evening concert on the evening of 23rd June to bring together high profile bands in the UK with African musicians from across the continent. The Festival will highlight the role of commercial trade in delivering energy access to millions living beyond the grid.

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AfDB Group announces US $549-million drought response package for Eastern and Southern Africa
April 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

FEWS_Eastern_Africa_July-September_projectionAbidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, April 1, 2016 – The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Akinwumi Adesina, announced Friday a relief package of US $549 million in support of 14 countries most affected by the ongoing drought in Eastern and Southern Africa. The AfDB acknowledged the severe impact of the El Niño weather pattern that is associated with abnormally high temperatures and the worst drought the region has seen in decades, leaving almost 36 million people in need of food assistance.

The drought response package announced by the AfDB Group consists of US $5 million in emergency relief and US $361 million in short-to-long term support from various windows of the Bank’s financial instruments. This amount represents new financial resources. Also, the AfDB will put in place a mechanism that would ensure faster disbursements of funds in ongoing projects, which were designed to build the affected countries’ resilience to drought. This will make available an additional amount of US $183 million in 2016.

The AfDB Group President also noted that cycles of drought and floods are natural phenomena integral to tropical weather and climate systems. However, in recent years, droughts and floods have been occurring with increased severity, frequency and variability in many parts of the Africa. Currently, Eastern and Southern Africa are experiencing severe droughts that have disrupted crop and livestock production systems in about 14 countries. The increased frequency and severity of droughts is linked to global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. Adesina also said that African agriculture is nearly 95 percent rain-fed – thus highly vulnerable to fluctuations in rainfall patterns.

Noting the urgency for this response, President Adesina emphasized that there will be greater flexibility in the use of AfDB’s financial instruments, speeding up disbursements.

The President travels to Mozambique and Malawi, two countries affected by extreme droughts, on April 4-5.

*AFDB

 

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Tony Elumelu Foundation Picks 1,000 for $ 100 million Entrepreneurship Programme
March 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L*

A second set of 1,000 Africans has been selected to join the $ 100 million Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme –TEEP.

TEF Founder Tony Elumelu flanked by Foundation CEO Parmindar Vir and Selection Committee member Angelle Kwemo

TEF Founder Tony Elumelu flanked by Foundation CEO Parmindar Vir and Selection Committee member Angelle Kwemo

According to a statement from the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the successful candidates represent diverse industries including agriculture, ICT, and fashion. Over 45,000 applications were registered from 54 countries with the highest numbers coming from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon.

The release from the Foundation indicates that for the next nine months, the selected entrepreneurs will receive intensive online training, networking and mentoring that provides a tool kit for success and sustainability. Later in the year, the entrepreneurs will join in the three day Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum which is the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurial talent.

“The 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs will become a generation of newly empowered African business owners, who are the clearest evidence yet, that indigenous business growth will drive Africa’s economic and social transformation,” Founder Tony Elumelu ,commented.

“In TEEP’s first year we spent over $8 million of our $100 million commitment – with $5 million going directly to entrepreneurs as seed capital — and the results have far exceeded our expectations,” said Elumelu .

To TEEP selection committee member Angelle Kwemo, it was a daunting task making the choice from the avalanche of brilliant and viable ideas. “We believe in Africa and the potential of its people,” said Kwemo, a Cameroonian, and Founder & chair of Believe in Africa, a US based organization promoting African economic transformation.

“The TEEP is proving to be one of the most effective tools in support of job creation and it should be adopted and duplicated,” Kwemo said, as she challenged other African businessmen and leaders to join forces or emulate the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Describing TEEP as “a life changing, challenging but rewarding journey,” Angelle Kwemo was pleased with the surge in French speaking entrepreneurs led in numbers by Cameroon. Wishing the new participants luck, Kwemo said Africa is looking forward to the full blown manifestation of the incredible potentials of the entrepreneurs.

Launched in 2015, TEEP is the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship and represents a 10-year, $100 million commitment, to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, create a million jobs and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is an Africa-based, African-funded philanthropic organization. Founded in 2010, TEF is committed to driving African economic growth, by empowering African entrepreneurship. The Foundation aims to create lasting solutions that contribute positively to Africa’s social and economic transformation. Through impact investments, selective grant making, and policy development, it seeks to influence the operating environment so that entrepreneurship in Africa can flourish

 

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Twitter Chat Encourages Women to Find Their Roots for Women’s History Month
March 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

National Geographic Traveler of the Year shares her journey of turning pain into purpose

ComeBackHome FlyerWASHINGTON, DC For Women’s History Month, NativSol Kitchen Founder and African Ancestry President co-host a Twitter Chat on  March 23, 2016 at 7:00pm EST entitled “Women Finding Their Roots: From Pain to Purpose.” The 60-minute live interactive session will give online users an opportunity to gain insight and inspiration in tracing their African lineage by following the hashtag: #comebackhome.

African Ancestry, Inc., the DC-based company that pioneered genetic DNA- ancestry tracing for people of African descent inspires all to make a connection to their identity through genetic ancestry testing and research.

“This Women’s History Month is a time to reconnect to our origin.  Genetically, black women hold the key to so much of ancestral information.  It is time that she claimed her place as the mother to all living things.  We must birth and nurture the future.” said Gina Paige, President & Co-founder of African Ancestry, Inc. “Women are the glue that holds the family and community together.”

In 2014 National Geographic selected NativSol’s founder Tambra Raye Stevenson as one of the “Traveler of the Year” for finding her African roots through food. Since then she had yet to travel to her ancestral land until this year in late April to Nigeria.

“Between the Ebola epidemic, terrorists’ attacks by Boko Haram and presidential elections, I had kept delaying my travel,” says Tambra Raye Stevenson, founder of NativSol Kitchen. “I was reminded even by Nigerians of safety in the north [of Nigeria]. But I had to trust my instinct and decide that it was now or never to complete my journey of coming back home not for me but for my ancestors.”

While in Nigeria this May, Stevenson will launch a new initiative called WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics and Agriculture to empower women and girls in sustainable agriculture and nutrition. WANDA serves as an extension of NativSol’s work in promoting the African heritage diet with women and girls as the leaders in the movement.

Gina Paige

Gina Paige

In the Michael Twitty’s “Cooking Gene,” upcoming book, Stevenson shares her story of discovering her roots and passion for African heritage foods.  “By tracing my roots back to Africa, I became grounded in my identity and inspired to transform the path of my profession by incorporating my heritage,” says Stevenson. “Ultimately I realized I was search of my purpose. With WANDA we change the narrative of our female ancestors held captive to till foreign land to now leading a women’s movement in agriculture bridging the Diaspora and Africa.” Stevenson has kick started a crowdfunding campaign to support WANDA initiative in Nigeria and people can support at iamwanda.org.

Featured in the Washington Post, NativSol Kitchen provides culturally-centered and faith-based nutrition education programming to both youth and adults. Based in Washington, DC, NATIVSOL is on a mission to reclaim the health and spirit of the African diaspora by creating a movement to restore heritage foods into people’s daily lives. Led by trained culinary nutrition experts, NATIVSOL has the passion and talent to equip the community to cook, shop and eat their way back to health.

Tambra Raye Stevenson

Tambra Raye Stevenson

Founded in 2003 on years of research, African Ancestry, Inc. is the ancestry tracing company that pioneered African lineage matching in the United States utilizing its proprietary DNA-database of more than 25,000 African DNA lineages to more accurately assess present-day country of origin for people of African descent. Since its inception, African Ancestry’s lineage reveals have impacted the lives of more than 100,000 people in the U.S. from communities at large to global leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, Tom Joyner and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. African Ancestry has been featured across the globe in outlets such as CNN’s Black in America series, 60 Minutes and Essence Magazine; and was the centerpiece to the ground-breaking PBS special “African American Lives 1 & 2” with Skip Gates. African Ancestry is African-American-owned and operated and headquartered in Washington, DC.

Headquartered in Washington, DC, WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics and Agriculture is leading a pan-African women’s movement from farm to fork. Founded in 2016, WANDA is on a mission to develop the next generation of women and girls as leaders in agriculture, nutrition and dietetics through education, advocacy and innovation as a means to alleviate poverty, build healthy communities and improve self-sufficiency.

join the event here

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AAI Conversations on Africa Seeks to Set Direction for the Next U.S. President
March 16, 2016 | 1 Comments
President & CEO of The Africa-America Institute Amini Kajunju

President & CEO of The Africa-America Institute Amini Kajunju

NEW YORK CITY – March 15, 2016 – As the U.S. presidential election gears up for the November election, AAI will host its next Conversations on Africa (COA) forum on April 21 on Capitol Hill, where congressional leaders, U.S. Government officials, policy experts and Members of the African Diplomatic Corps will take stock of the White House’s legacy on engagement with Africa and propose U.S.-Africa policy priorities for the next Administration.

The Conversation, Looking Ahead: Setting American Policy in Africa for the Next U.S. President”, will take place at Capitol Hill’s B338 Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The two-term Obama Administration will come to a close in less than a year. The full-day Conversations on Africa offers a platform for reflections and panel discussions on the White House and the Congress’ strategy and engagement with sub-Saharan Africa.

The Obama Administration laid out overarching pillars for U.S.-Africa policy to: strengthen democratic institutions; spur economic growth, trade, and investment; advance peace and security; and promote opportunity and development.

The White House signature initiatives and high-level events include Power Africa, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), and the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with sitting African Heads of State in 2014. President Obama also became the first U.S. president to visit the African Union in Addis Ababa in 2015.

During President Obama’s tenure, U.S. Congress passed a 10-year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the U.S.-Africa trade law, and the Electrify Africa Act, which aims to expand access to affordable and reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.

“AAI’s Conversations on Africa forum offers an opportune time for us to look back and reflect on Obama Administration’s legacy on U.S.-Africa policy,” said AAI President Amini Kajunju. “It also is a time to identify what more needs to be accomplished before the end of the congressional session, and hear perspectives in moving forward on future Africa engagement from foreign policy advisors to the top presidential candidates.”

Moderated by Witney Schneidman, Senior Nonresident Fellow at The Brookings Institute, the panel“Africa: What Should the Remaining Priorities for the 114th Congress Be?”, with congressional staffers of the House and Senate Subcommittee on Africa, will review the Administration’s key priorities and give an update on progress to date. Staffers will share where Congress stands on proposed U.S.-Africa policy legislative bills.

The panel “Reflections: The Obama Administration’s Approach to Promoting Education in Africa”, moderated by The Honorable Vivian Lowery Derryck, President & CEO of The Bridges Institute, will offer insight into the White House’s focus on education. Confirmed panelists include Julie Hanson Swanson, Deputy Chief, Education Division, Bureau of Africa, USAID and Her Excellency Mathilde Mukantabana, Rwanda

The Honorable Reuben E. Brigety II, George Washington University’s Dean of Elliott School of International Affairs, will deliver a Fireside Chat on “Identifying Best Practices for U.S. Engagement in Africa” during the Policy Luncheon.

(L) Amini Kajunju and Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma attend Africa-America Institute 60th Anniversary Awards Gala at New York Hilton on September 25, 2013 in New York City. (Sept. 24, 2013 - Source: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images North America)

(L) Amini Kajunju and Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma attend Africa-America Institute 60th Anniversary Awards Gala at New York Hilton on September 25, 2013 in New York City.
(Sept. 24, 2013 – Source: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images North America)

Prior to taking the helm of the Elliot School, Ambassador Brigety was the U.S. representative to the African Union and U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He also previously served as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of African Affairs and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, among other positions.

Carol Pineau, award-winning producer, writer, director and journalist will moderate what is expected to be a spirited panel “Beyond the Obama Administration: What Can We Expect for Africa?” with U.S. presidential candidate representatives. Candidate representatives will offer the presidential candidate’s perspective on U.S.-Africa policy and their vision for U.S. strategy for sub-Saharan Africa.

COA panels are still in formation and will be updated accordingly, leading up to the event.

*AAI .For more information, visit the Conversations on Africa event page

To RSVP to cover the event, please contact Shanta Bryant Gyan at email, shanta@sbgcommunications.com or call (202) 412-4603.  

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A new road map for Power Africa
February 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Adva Saldinger *

A 500 watt solar system in a rural village in Uganda powers a home, drives a public broadcasting system, a barbershop and a video hall and generates new income for the business owner. Photo by: Sameer Halai / SunFunder / USAID

A 500 watt solar system in a rural village in Uganda powers a home, drives a public broadcasting system, a barbershop and a video hall and generates new income for the business owner. Photo by: Sameer Halai / SunFunder / USAID

An ambitious new road map released last week lays out how Power Africa, the United States government initiative to increase power generation capacity and access to electricity in Africa, will achieve its targets by 2030. The report outlines areas of new emphasis for the initiative, including a greater focus on energy access and on renewables.

And the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday unanimously passed the Electrify Africa Act, which codifies the work of the initiative and should ensure its longevity. The U.S. Senate passed the bill, which differs a bit from Power Africa goals — it sets targets at 50 million connections and 20,000 megawatts of generation, on Dec. 18 and it now awaits approval from President Barack Obama, which should be forthcoming.

In 2013 when it announced Power Africa, the U.S. committed $7 billion to tackle the challenge that more than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity. That initial commitment has leveraged about $43 billion dollars in pledges from public and private sector partners, according to the Power Africa Roadmap.

The initial goals were for Power Africa to increase installed power capacity by 30,000 megawatts and create 60 million new connections by 2030. To date, the 13 Power Africa projects that have reached financial close are expected to generate more than 4,300 megawatts of power, according to the road map.

It’s important to note, and Power Africa does so in the road map, that some of those projects were underway before the initiative launched. While they didn’t come about under the auspices of the program, they met other criteria, including U.S. government involvement and meeting environmental and social safeguards.

Power Africa spent its first year focused on grid-scale generation deals, but leaders of the initiative are now looking ahead to ambitious connections targets — Power Africa-supported projects have the potential to lead to more than a million direct connections — and making changes based on lessons already learned.

Generation and access goals, for example, are “actually two totally different things,” Andrew Herscowitz, Power Africa coordinator, told Devex. As a result, the road map lays out specific plans for each goal, and progress will be measured in actual connections.

“We’ve learned a ton,” Herscowitz said. “We don’t just trust everything people say at conferences. We focus on analysis and data.”

The road map

That knowledge has been poured into the road map, which has three main pillars: achieving the goal around generation; increasing the number of people with access; and driving regulatory and policy changes to improve investment opportunities and speed project timelines.

Power Africa is tracking projects in the Power Africa Tracking Tool, an app built for the initiative, that would total about 45,000 megawatts if the projects all came online, though the road map estimates that only between 18,000-21,000 megawatts will reach financial close by 2030.

In order to meet its 30,000 megawatt goal, Power Africa is looking for new deals, which are likely to support natural gas and utility-scale solar expansion. It will also work to improve efficiency at existing power plants.

The majority of projects in the pipeline, and certainly those that aren’t yet being tracked, are at an early stage in their development, so it seems natural that one of Power Africa’s focuses will be on early stage transaction support. Many project developers say it’s also where donors and development finance institutions are needed most.

Reaching the goal of extending access to 60 million people will take a mix of relying on old technology — expanding existing grids, and new — developing innovative off-grid solutions.

One interesting prediction in the road map is that 8 million to 10 million of the new connections will come through the currently underdeveloped microgrid segment of the market, though this raises questions about how to build the appropriate structures and frameworks for those projects to succeed.

Work on the third pillar aimed at building capacity and driving regulatory reforms may be able to help some of those issues. A number of Power Africa programs or partner programs are working to help countries create solid, transparent regulatory and policy environments to help them attract investment and structure good projects.

That capacity building can also help citizens get a fair deal — a single negotiated deal between a company and a government not only takes a long time but is unlikely to provide the country good value for money, in part because African government officials often lack expertise, said Jamie Fergusson, the chief investment officer and global sector lead for renewables, infrastructure and natural resources at the International Finance Corp.

South Africa sets an example

Examples of what’s working are quickly emerging. While in many ways South Africa may not be representative of the rest of the subcontinent, it has risen as an example of a success story, particularly in scaling up grid-connected solar projects.

It’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program developed a clear structure and transparent bid process that has led to more than 2,000 megawatts of solar between 2011 and 2014 and cheaper bids over time.

SolarReserve, global developer of utility-scale solar power projects, has won several bids and built grid-connected solar projects in South Africa. The latest, a 100 megawatt project with 12-hour storage, is set to start construction in the next two months.

The company continue to bid on projects in South Africa because the government built a program that commercially makes sense, has political support at the highest levels and a committed team that carries out the work, is transparent and keeps its word, said Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve.

While South Africa has some advantages — it’s size, local expertise, a strong banking system lower currency risks —other countries can learn from their example, he said. Governments need to put together commercial documentation that makes sense, provide clarity around the offtaker and how it works, needs to abide by international arbitration and devise a transparent and open bidding process that sticks to a set schedule, Smith added.

Working together

Since Power Africa was launched, a bevy of other organizations focused on electrifying the continent have emerged and the initiative has amassed some 120 partners, including the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Norwegian government and many private developers, financiers and foundations. Managing that many groups is not always easy.

Coordination amongst the donor and development finance institution community takes long, patient conversations, and some head banging, Ferguson said.

“There’s politics and good intent and different organizations with their own mandates,” he said. “It is not all perfectly coordinated. Lots of sensible people, but still those conversations have to be had.”

Herscowitz said he is proud of the initiative’s efforts, especially in bringing the various actors together. The level of coordination among the donor organizations is “unprecedented,” he said, citing the example of household solar, where Power Africa, the AfDB and the U.K. Department for International Development got together to discuss their work on in the space and decided to have DfID take the lead. That cooperation helped shape what U.K.’s Energy Africa initiative does, Herscowitz said.

There are organizations stepping up to lead on other issues as well, like the World Bank and AfDB on grid rollout, organizations like the U.S. Trade Development Agency on project preparation, and the IFC on grid-level solar.

With so many players, determining how each player slots in and where donor and DFI capital should be used is important.

The IFC’s Scaling Solar initiative, for example, emerged to fill a gap in helping to structure and simplify the process of developing grid-connected solar projects. The program developed a template process and document set to help a government run through a process determining how much solar they want on their grid, where it should go, if appropriate sites can be developed and how it could run a competitive process to identify an independent power producer.

“Scaling Solar is designed with collaboration in that donor and DFI ecosystem in mind,” Ferguson said.

Governments will need help paying for advisory work and in financing the projects themselves, which is where donors can step in. For example, in Zambia, the first country to sign on to Scaling Solar, DfID and Power Africa are helping pay for advisory costs.

Donor financing helped many of the rapidly expanding home solar companies get off the ground — one of the most exciting development to Herscowitz personally. Super efficient fans, irons and televisions are allowing off-grid customers to “live an on-grid life,” he said, which can change the market and impact the climate change discussion.

“Donors and public money is limited and precious and, I would argue, should be targeted where you can’t attract private capital — transmission lines, distribution companies, public utilities, all of those things that you can’t attract private capital for,” Ferguson said.

But every market where Power Africa is tracking deals has some role for the public sector to play — it’s role is to “bridge market imperfections,” test new models and get first-of-a-kind deals done, Herscowitz said.

How well Power Africa picks the places or types of projects it invests in and how that translates to achieving its goals will certainly be measured against the road map, which may well serve as a blueprint as the U.S. and it’s big coalition of partners work to push things along.

*Source Devex

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CCA Summit in Addis Ababa is a strong statement on US Business Overtures to Africa- Steve Hayes
February 1, 2016 | 0 Comments
A meeting of presidents: L-R: Stephen Hayes, President and CEO, The Corporate Council on Africa; H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda; H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in 2009

A meeting of presidents: L-R: Stephen Hayes, President and CEO, The Corporate Council on Africa; H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda; H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in 2009

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The African market is too big to be the exclusive reserve of one country, says Steve Hayes, President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa. In a phone interview ahead of the 10th biennial US-Africa Business Summit holding Addis-Ababa from the February 1-4, Mr. Hayes said the CCA was expecting over 800 participants for the summit.

Although most of the previous summits have taken place in the USA, it will be an impressive turn out for US companies in Addis, Mr. Hayes said. Companies and businesses from other parts of the world will also answer present for the 2016 summit, he added.

Holding the Summit in Addis Ababa is also a way of reaffirming the growing interest of the US to do business in Africa without fear of competition with anyone, Mr. Hayes said. The investment climate in Africa could be a lot better, he said, citing bureaucracy, and the need for stronger dialogue between the public and the private sector.

Though China may have an edge now when it comes to trade with Africa, Mr. Hayes believes that the US has the long term advantage. The US has a better approach to doing business with Africa instead of just focusing on resources.

While President Obama gets some credit for moving the needle forward on trade with Africa, Mr. Hayes believes that the next US Administration must make Africa an even bigger priority.

A podcast of the interview which started with an over view of the CCA by CEO Steve Hayes is published below.

 

 

 

 

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African leaders urge passage of Electrify Africa Act
January 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Tony Elumelu and Aliko Dangote*

Dangote, Elumelu at World Economic Forum Davos

Dangote, Elumelu at World Economic Forum Davos

In the next week, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Electrify Africa Act, passed by the Senate under unanimous consent late last year. This bill directs the President to establish a multiyear strategy to assist countries in sub-Saharan Africa implement national power strategies and develop an appropriate mix of power solutions, including renewable energy, to provide access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable power in order to reduce poverty and drive economic growth.

On behalf of the African Energy Leaders Group (AELG), a high-level public-private partnership launched last year, we welcome the leadership of the U.S. Congress on this issue. It is our view that the Electrify Africa Act will provide a durable strategic framework to address the challenges of energy poverty on the continent by leveraging a private sector-led, market-based approach which is essential to the sustainability of this effort over time. If passed, Electrify Africa will be the most significant legislation to advance U.S. commercial relations with the continent of Africa since the initial passage of AGOA, 15 years ago.

A wide range of energy sources exist on the continent. Yet, more than 600 million Africans lack access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services. Hundreds of millions are also denied access to basic nutrition, quality education, medical services and sanitation due to lack of adequate energy supply. Recent surveys of African businesses reveal that energy costs account for 40-60 percent of operating expenditure (more than 10 times what it is in the United States), dramatically increasing the cost of doing business in Africa. The effect of the power deficit on our economies is damaging and tangibly constrains development.

Africa has the largest rates of extreme poverty and the fastest population growth of any region. The rapid industrialization and sustained economic development necessary to provide jobs for this growing population simply cannot be achieved on a weak power base

We have been encouraged by the increasing awareness among both African and U.S. political leaders on these issues, and by the willingness of the private sector to invest alongside governments in meeting the growing demand for power on the continent. Through the much-lauded Power Africa Initiative, the United States is helping to provide assistance for policy reforms and transactions which expand infrastructure and strengthen regulations in the power sector. This is not only good for Africa, as these initiatives benefit U.S. companies seeking access to new and rapidly expanding markets for their equipment, expertise and products.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is another critical development instrument which supports U.S. investments in Africa’s energy sector. However, it is hampered by well-intentioned yet counterproductive restrictions on carbon emissions for projects financed even in the lowest emitting countries of the world.  In order to better leverage U.S. resources towards implementing the objectives of the Electrify Africa Act, we encourage Congress to follow this legislation with a strong reauthorization of OPIC that includes the flexibility to align with the national realities and priorities of the countries you wish to help and considers the full range of energy options available to them. In this regard, we must work together to identify an appropriate balance between poverty alleviation and environmental protection.

We applaud the efforts of all those who have championed the Electrify Africa Act, and urge the House of Representatives to pass this legislation without delay. From our perspective, this bill would codify access to electricity in Africa as a long-term U.S. foreign policy priority, for the benefit of millions of Africans and for U.S. companies doing business on the continent.

*The Hill.Dangote is president of the Dangote Group. Elumelu is chairman of Heirs Holdings and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Both are co-founders of the African Energy Leaders Group.

The African Energy Leaders Group, launched at the World Economic Forum in January 2015, is a working group of high-level African business leaders and heads of state. In line with the targets of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All), one of the group’s primary goals is guaranteeing access to reliable, affordable energy services for all Africans by 2030, through regional power pools and innovative public-private partnerships

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Age cheating holding back African teams – CIES report
January 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

Despite fielding the youngest players in A national teams in 2015, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon continue to remain underachievers due to endemic age cheating, a CIES report has stated.

The Switzerland-based Football Observatory says African teams have remained underachievers due to cheating at youth level

The Switzerland-based Football Observatory says African teams have remained underachievers due to cheating at youth level

In its January 2016 report, the Swiss-based Football Observatory cast doubt on the declared ages of African footballers which it claims is responsible for the untapped potential of African teams in senior football.

Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon are listed as having fielded the youngest players among 50 sampled A national teams in 2015 – 24.7, 25.1 and 25.3 years respectively.

“However, this result must be analysed carefully insofar as footballers born in Africa tend to be older than they claim to be,” stated the report.

With the immense talent on the continent, only three teams – Ghana, Senegal and Cameroon – have ever reached the quarter finals of the World Cup.

However, both Nigeria and Ghana have regularly won world titles at youth levels, with Nigeria winning a record fifth Under-17 world title last October.

“Lying about one’s age is a common practice that implies a competitive advantage in youth categories,” said the report.

“However, in the long term, this strategy is counterproductive as it does not provide optimum conditions for the full development of talent.

“This is one of the reasons for which the real potential of African squads remains untapped.”

Fielding young players has its advantages as the report highlighted the impact of youth in the England national team that qualified seamlessly for the 2016 European Championship.

However, the Netherlands were let down by youth as they failed to qualify for the same tournament despite fielding players with an average age of 25.6 years, the same with England.

“In the first case, the bias towards youth has not been a success as the Dutch failed to qualify for Euro 2016. For the English, on the other hand, the results have been more positive.

“The youthfulness of the players available to Roy Hodgson is the sign of a renaissance which suggests a promising future,” the report said.

The remaining teams in the top 10 are Korea Republic, Algeria, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium.

See our gallery of the 20 youngest senior teams of 2015

*Source Goal/Yahoo

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