Money Sent by African Diasporans to Home Countries Help Pay for Education and Life Necessities
January 1, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Amini Kajunju*
Africans in the Diaspora sent home $33 billion in 2014 to their relatives or friends to help pay for living expenses, education, health care and even to start a business.
The money sent to home countries from diasporans living abroad, also called remittances, are often the financial lifeline sustaining many African families, benefitting some 120 million people across Africa. Diasporans’ money to family members outpaces international assistance from donor countries, and is the largest international flow of financial resources to Africa.
The remittances are making a significant impact on household spending and improved livelihoods of whole communities. Due to remittances to families, living expenses and emergencies are paid for making life easier in very difficult economic circumstances.
Still, African diasporans pay more to send money to their home countries compared to Diaspora groups in other regions of the world. In some cases, African diasporans pay twice the global average, according to the World Bank. South Africa, Tanzania, and Ghana are the most expensive sending countries in Africa, with fees averaging 20.7 percent, 19.7 percent, and 19.0 percent. Nigerians living overseas sent home $21 billion in 2014, according to the World Bank.
Western Union and MoneyGram are the top money transfer companies in Africa. A diasporan sending money to Africa will frequently incur what economists call a “super tax”, where the sender pays exorbitantly high fees, sometimes up 50 percent more than the global average, reducing the actual amount of funds transferred.
A recent World Bank study revealed that remittances are also boosting the usage of new technologies such as mobile phones in African households. In fact, Africa is the fastest growing region for mobile markets.
The limited access to traditional banking and financial services, particularly in rural communities, is prompting Africans to tap into these services through mobile banking.
The rise of mobile money transfer systems is good news for Diasporans. In 2014, mobile money transactions in sub-Saharan Africa skyrocketed to $656 million, and is expected to more than double to $1.3 billion by 2019, cited a report by Frost & Sullivan.
Increased competition among money transfer operators will help to drive down the high remittances fees to African countries.
While lower money transfer costs are certainly welcome, many Diasporans have raised questions about whether there is a way to guarantee that money sent home is used for its intended purpose.
Yet, ensuring that money sent to Africa goes for its intended purpose can be a sensitive subject to broach with loved ones, given an already tight household budget. However, some Diasporans have expressed a need for a simple, immediate and direct money transfer system to pay for family members’ expenses.
AAI is collecting information on how and why Africans in the Diaspora send money home to family members in their home country. Take the ‘Why Do You Send Money Back Home to Africa?’ survey, and share with other diasporans.
*Source HuffPost.President and CEO, Africa-America Institute (AAI)
African migrants hit it big in Spain Christmas lottery
December 25, 2015 | 0 Comments
By ALAN CLENDENNING* [caption id="attachment_23272" align="alignleft" width="300"] In this Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 picture, a Senegalese man named Ngame, who told reporters that he was rescued by Spains coast guard traveling from Africas western coast toward Spains Canary Islands, speaks after discovering he won euro400,000 ($438,000) in Roquetas de Mar, in Almeria province, Spain. About 35 African migrants, including at least one rescued at sea from an overcrowded wooden boat, are among the top prize winners of Spains Christmas lottery, according to the owner of the lottery agency that sold more than 1,000 tickets worth 400,000 euros ($438,000) each. (AP Photo/Javier Alonso)[/caption] MADRID (AP) — About 35 African migrants, including at least one rescued at sea from an overcrowded wooden boat, are among the top prize winners of Spain’s Christmas lottery, according to the owner of the lottery agency that sold more than 1,000 tickets that shelled out 400,000 euros ($438,000) each.
The winners who bought the tickets in the southern coastal city of Roquetas de Mar included migrants from Senegal, Mali and Morocco, agency owner Jose Martin told La Voz de Almeria newspaper in a story published Thursday.
Among them was a Senegalese man named Ngame who told Spanish media that he and his wife were rescued by Spain’s coast guard in 2007 when their boat with 65 people was traveling from Africa’s western coast toward Spain’s Canary Islands.
Outside the lottery agency, Ngame was in tears as he clutched a photocopy of his winning ticket with the number 79,140. He thanked Spain for saving his life and giving him the chance to play the country’s world famous lottery.
“Today I thank the Spanish government, the Spaniards too,” Ngame told Ondacero radio. “They saved us when we were in the middle of the sea.”
Roquetas de Mar is in Almeria province, where many migrants toil in greenhouses as vegetable and fruit laborers. The area also relies heavily on tourism, but unemployment is 31 percent — much higher than the already sky-high national rate of 21 percent.
Ngame did not give his last name to reporters but said life has been difficult for him and his wife since they arrived in Almeria. They had not decided how they would use the jackpot.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “It’s too soon to decide. We have to talk and see.”
Agency owner Martin said some of the migrants weren’t sure how they could collect their winnings, so he accompanied them to their banks to explain what to do.
Although other lotteries offer larger top prizes, Spain’s El Gordo (The Fat One) is the world’s richest, and unites the country because almost everyone takes part.
There are 24 million prizes in all for a country with a population of 47 million — and players in droves form pools with friends, family and colleagues to buy the 20-euro ($22) tickets.
Across Spain, people stay glued to the television on Dec. 22 as lower-level winning numbers are announced until the El Gordo number is drawn. Then people who purchased winning tickets show up outside the lottery agency that sold them and uncork bottles of sparkling wine in gleeful street fiestas.The lottery has always been immensely popular but has taken on special importance in recent years as Spain struggled through the bursting of a real estate bubble and the European debt crisis. While lottery winners used to buy apartments or new cars during Spain’s boom years, many winners now pay off debts.
Students also featured heavily this year — nearly half the winning tickets were bought at the Roquetas de Mar lottery agency by a high school in the nearby town of Laujar de Andarax, population of 1,600. Students then resold the tickets to raise money for a school trip, meaning the town was flush with winners.*AP/Yahoo]]>
A Conversation with Herman Cohen: Former Reagan and Bush Snr Aide on Africa shares his experiences in New Book
November 2, 2015 | 0 Comments
Herman Cohen[/caption] Few American Diplomats can match Herman Cohen when it comes to experiences in Africa. In his 38 year career in the US Foreign service, Ambassador Cohen’s area of specialization was Africa. In addition to posts in five countries, Cohen served as Ambassador to Senegal, served as Special Assistant for African Affairs to President Ronald Reagan and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President George .H.W.Bush. Now in retirement Ambassador Cohen is out with a new book titled “The Mind of The African Strongman: Conversations with Dictators, Statesmen and Father Figures.” The book chronicles experiences and conversations that Cohen had interacting with a rich and diverse cast of leaders across Africa. From Mobutu of D.R.Congo (Zaire), Bongo of Gabon, Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Arap Moi of Kenya, Muarmar Ghadafi of Libya, Kaunda of Zambia, to Babangida of Nigeria Cohen has a story to tell. Cohen did not only interact with leaders in power, the book has experiences with emblematic opposition figures like Nelson Mandela of South Africa. He also shares experiences trying to get Jonas Savimbi of UNITA to the negotiating table with President Dos Santos of Angola. In a recent interview to talk about the book, Ambassador Cohen strongly defended US Foreign policy in Africa, but admitted that Angola was the exception where cold war logic may have prompted the US to side with Jonas Savimbi. While he equally had strong criticisms for the way Ghadafi ran Libya, he concedes that his ouster without planning on the aftermath was a strategic error. Cohen thinks that President Obama has spoken the hard truth to Africa like no other US leader before him and expresses optimism on the future of the continent with more democracies emerging and a new generation of leaders breaking away from the old order. https://soundcloud.com/multimedia-podcast/herman-cohen-interview]]>
Geingob calls for abolition of study loans
October 28, 2015 | 0 Comments
President Hage Geingob has urged government to move away from the study loan system, whereby students have to pay back their loans, to a system of grants that would enable students to immediately build up wealth portfolios instead of going into debt after graduation. At one stage graduates owed the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) up to N$300 million in unpaid study loans, something that the president wants addressed through a grant system. “Going forward, we should move away from loans to a grant system. It was not there [before], it was introduced by someone. We should give children grants, so they don’t graduate in debt,” he advised. President Geingob’s suggestion is in line with his call for concerted efforts to fight poverty in the country. Currently all courses in Namibia’s tertiary institutions, irrespective of their status, are offered at a cost in terms of tuition and other fees. Many students, who get the chance to enter tertiary institutions with grades of 25 points and above, stand a chance to be awarded loans and scholarships through the NSFAF. However, it comes at a high cost, as they have to re-pay such loans upon completion of their stduies. Geingob, who officially opened the two-day National Conference on Wealth Redistribution and Poverty Eradication in Windhoek yesterday, said education remains the greatest equaliser. “We removed school fees at primary level in 2012 and this year we are going to introduce free secondary school education. At the moment, large subsidies to our local tertiary education institutions translate into the State covering up to 80 percent of university costs. University students also benefit from scholarships through the NSFAF,” he noted. He also took the opportunity to defend the pledge of 20 percent of his salary to set up a scholarship fund for impoverished children, as a practical means to fight poverty. Geingob’s announcement of his decision to pledge one-fifth of his salary to the poor, produced mixed responses among the public, with some – including opposition parties – criticising the move, while others applauded him for it. “What’s your problem? It’s not your salary. I’m not asking yours. I’m talking about my salary. A person is saying, ‘I’m going to give 20 percent of his salary’, and then they say ‘why not 50 percent?’ It’s not taxpayers’ money, it’s mine. So please, leave me alone,” Geingob said. He said he is mindful that many salary drawers already contribute immensely to poverty reduction in their own extended families and communities, whether by providing food, accommodation or paying school fees. “It is something I also do as a father and uncle. However, the idea of pledging on top of that to someone outside the family, a third non-related person is something that I would like to promote. “It is really not about how much one can give, but it is about the principle… and one can always give in non-monetary form. We must allow the spirit of Harambee to manifest itself for the good of all Namibians,” he maintained. Harambee is a tradition of community self-help actions and means to “all pull together” in Swahili. *Source The Era]]>
11th AFRICAN GAMES – BRAZZAVILLE, REPUBLIC OF CONGO, 04-19 September, 2015
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments
The 11th Edition of the African Games is scheduled to take place on 4th to 19th September, 2015, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. This edition will mark the 50th Anniversary of the African Games, since the 1st edition in 1965 that was also hosted by the Republic of Congo. Approximately 7000 athletes from 50 African countries will converge back to the birth place of the African Games in Brazzaville to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the African Union in the spirit of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.
This edition is also a milestone for the AU as it is the first one under the auspices of the African Union as the owner of the Games, following the dissolution of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) as well as the integration of the functions of the SCSA into the AU. The integrated functions of the SCSA include the ownership, coordination and organization of the African Games.
The opening ceremony will take place on 4th September, 2015, and will be presided over by H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, and attended by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, H.E. Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs and H.E. Martial de Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology. The African Games will be preceded by the Bureau Meeting of the Specialized Technical Committees on Youth, Culture and Sport and a Sub-Committee of the STC Ministers of Sport on 3th September, 2015.
During the games, the AU will rally the continent around the spirit of Pan-Africanism through its key message i.e. “I am African, I am the African Union” and through its 50 year Agenda 2063 development framework. Agenda 2063″ is an approach to how the continent should effectively learn from the lessons of the past, build on the progress now underway and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in the immediate and medium term, so as to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years. The agenda will assist the continent achieve its vision, i.e. an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.
“Because of the power of sport, we see this event as an important milestone on the road to achieving the objectives of our continental vision and action plan, which Africa has christened Agenda 2063: the Africa We Want”, said AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
SOURCE African Union Commission (AUC)
Dynamic US-Africa Partnership Lauded at African Day Celebrations in Washington,DC.
May 29, 2015 | 0 Comments
Rev Jackson and Ambassador Teitelbaum in a group photo with African Ambassadors in Washington,DC.[/caption] In celebrations to mark the 2015 African Day in Washington, DC, dynamic ties between the USA –Africa hailed by the Ambassador of Egypt Mohamed Tawfik. Speaking as co-Chair of the celebrations organized by the African Ambassador’s group, the Egyptian Envoy cited the last US-Africa’s Leaders’ Summit and the support that Africa continues to receive from the US in multiple forms. “The celebration is about Africa’s success”, said Ambassador Tawfik as he enumerated a litany of positive developments taking place in the continent. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world he said, with life expectancy ticking up, and more children in school than at any other time. The continent is increasingly taking charge of its own security challenges and Egypt will be hosting a historic summit soon geared towards the creation of a broader Pan African free trade zone ,said Tawfik. In addition to Women serving as Presidents, and in parliament, Tawfik also cited the example of AU Chair Dlamini Zuma to highlight the progress made by women in the continent. Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs delivered the keynote speech in which he highlighted the important role women have always played in the history of Africa. [caption id="attachment_18381" align="alignright" width="586"] Rev Jackson poses with members of the Ivorian dance troupe that animated the celebration[/caption] Celebrated under the theme “Women Empowerment & Development towards Achieving Africa Agenda 2063”, Ambassador Teitelbaum saluted the strides that have been made by the African Union and African countries. Africa’s biggest resource is its people Ambassador Teitelbaum and no country can get ahead if half of its population is left behind. Africa represents a growing a growing market and just this year alone, there have been some 316 million new cell phone subscribers reported ,Teitelbaum said. Programs like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, have been helpful in alleviating the health plight of women and children, said. Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana of Rwanda who heads the African Ambassadors Group in Washington, DC, also spoke on the importance of placing women at the center of development. With Maureen Umeh of Fox TV as MC, the celebration had as special Guest the Rev Jesse Jackson ,Founder and President of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Other guests from the African American Community included Melvin Foote from the Constituency for Africa, and Denise Rolark Barnes, Publisher of the Washington Informer. Sponsored by Chevron, Coca Cola, and Exxon Mobile, guests were treated to an art exhibition and entertainment performance of folk dances from Egypt, Rwanda and Ivory Coast. ]]>
African nations close ranks against South Africa after week of horror xenophobic attacks, criticism gets very loud
April 18, 2015 | 0 Comments
SOUTH Africa is facing a backlash from an increasing number of African nations after mobs repeatedly attacked foreigners and looted their stores, prompting its presidency to warn that the country’s interests could come under threat if the upheaval was not arrested. At least five people have died in clashes in the eastern port city of Durban, Johannesburg and other towns since last week, while more than 1,400 have fled their homes. In a sign of how deep-rooted the problem may be, a solidarity march against xenophobia in Durban on Thursday was interrupted by mobs insisting foreign nationals must leave. Some poor South Africans see Zimbabweans, Malawians, Somalis, Ethiopians, Malawians and Pakistanis as competitors for jobs and business opportunities in a country with a 24% unemployment rate. One fifth of the population of 54 million survive on less than 335 rand ($28) a month. South Africa’s cabinet warned on Friday that companies operating in the rest of Africa may be targeted, just as Johannesburg-based Sasol Ltd. announced it’s repatriating South African employees working on projects in Mozambique for their own safety. The blowback also came from unexpected quarters: award winning South African kwaito group Big Nuz cancelled their show set for Friday in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, saying they feared violence from locals. The violence is embarrassing for the ruling African National Congress, whose members sought refuge in countries on the continent before white-minority rule ended in 1994. The South African government on Friday met with ambassadors and diplomats from several African countries to reassure them of the safety of their nationals and keep relations onside. Sparked condemnation The violence of the past week has sparked condemnation from governments from Ghana to Malawi, protests in Nigeria and Zimbabwe and calls from major continental groups such as the African Union for South Africa to act decisively to stem the attacks. “If this was happening here in Zimbabwe, the calls for immediate action would be like a cacophony,” Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said in a phone interview from Harare on Thursday. South Africa has to act “to save the lives and livelihoods of their fellow African brothers and sisters from Zimbabwe and elsewhere on the continent. They must act immediately against any form of racism or xenophobia.” Malawi hired buses to repatriate its citizens caught up in the violence, “I would have wished the government of South Africa would have done more,” Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa said by phone from Blantyre, the capital, on Thursday. “We are concerned, we are disappointed. We want to take our people back home until the situation normalises.” The Economic Community of Western African States, a 16- nation regional group, said in a statement on Friday that it was regrettable that “the very people, whose nations sacrificed to help South Africans fight, repel and defeat apartheid, will today be considered aliens and hacked to death in such barbaric manners.” Patrick Gaspard, the US ambassador to South Africa, the United Nations and the African Union, a 53-nation continental grouping, also issued statements on Thursday condemning the attacks. “Whatever the challenges we may be facing, no circumstances justify attacks on people, whether foreigners or locals,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairwoman of the AU Commission and a South African citizen. “It is unacceptable.” Formal complaint China made a formal complaint with South Africa’s government about attacks directed against its nationals, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday, citing Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. [caption id="attachment_17614" align="alignright" width="300"] African Union heads of state in a past group photo. The bloc has condemned the attacks[/caption] The Malawi and Somali governments have set in motion plans to repatriate their nationals. The Zambian, Ugandan, Kenyan and Botswana governments also said they were closely monitoring the situation and would pull out their nationals if necessary, while Namibian ruling SWAPO party youth activists said they would organise a protest march in Windhoek. Reactions from African Union host Ethiopia, which was set to receive the bodies of three of its nationals killed in attacks in South Africa, have been among the most intense, as several Ethiopians sought to remind South Africa of the role the country played in its struggle against apartheid. Africa’s biggest economy Nigeria, which also has several of its nationals in South Africa and has had a number of diplomatic spats with Pretoria despite being a major trade partner, on Friday added its voice to the pushback. “The Federal Government… calls on the government of South Africa to live up to its responsibilities and take all necessary steps to stop the on-going xenophobic attacks and put in place policies and structures to prevent a reoccurrence,” the ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. This came after some Nigerian lawmakers on Thursday pushed for laws to frustrate South African businesses. A vote to sever diplomatic ties was however defeated. Repatriate nationals An estimated 20,000 Nigerians live in South Africa, and Abuja said it would repatriate its nationals if the situation deteriorated. So far nationals from Ghana, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania have been reported killed, although Tanzanian envoy Elibahati Ngoyai said there was no official confirmation his compatriots had died in xenophobic attacks. Jeff Radebe, a minister in the South African presidency, warned that the attacks would have far-reaching consequences for the nation’s economy and its relations with Africa and the rest of the world. “South African companies who are running successful businesses in the continent who help to contribute to our revenue and sustaining our economy may suffer the similar fate,” he told reporters in Pretoria, the capital. “South Africa is not a violent country and therefore a few individuals cannot be allowed to hold the whole country to ransom.” In an increasingly globalised world, South African businesses have cause to be concerned about a possible continental backlash. Many have branched north, with telecoms giant MTN, carrier South African Airways, retail giants Shoprite and Woolworths and pay TV giant Multichoice among the most visible. FDI flows MTN for example derives the bulk of its profits from Nigeria. The country’s banks and insurers such as Standard Bank, Absa, First Rand, Sanlam and Liberty Life are also highly active in countries to the north. “Here in Zimbabwe we support South African businesses, which sell goods and conduct trade. The South African people can’t have their cake and eat it,” Zimbabwe opposition MP Jessie Majome said on Wednesday, as he delivered a cross-partisan petition to the South African embassy in Harare. In 2012, South African invested in more new Foreign Direct Investments in Africa than any other country with its 75 projects—the most— valued at $1.4 billion making up 12% of total FDI into Africa. Only China, India, the US, UK and Canada invested more by value. Most investments by South African firms have been in services and consumer products, while resources also showed up on the radar. With close to 50,000 jobs created in these cross-border links, neither of the two parties can afford soured relations. *Source Mgafrica ]]>
Fastjet raises USD 75 million for expansion
April 5, 2015 | 0 Comments
Fastjet, Africa’s low cost airline, is pleased to announce that, following the launch of a proposed placing yesterday, 1 April 2015, it has successfully placed 5,000,000,000 new ordinary shares (the Placing Shares) at a price of 1 pence per share (on a pre-consolidation basis) (the Placing Price) to new and existing institutional shareholders, other investors and fastjet management (the Placing). The Placing, raised gross proceeds of GBP 50 million (approximately USD 75 million) (the Placing Proceeds). Net proceeds from the Placing will be deployed in two key areas – expansion working capital and the launch and growth of operations in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. fastjet will use funds raised in excess of that needed for its working capital requirements to commence an aircraft acquisition programme of used Airbus A319 aircraft. Ed Winter, Chief Executive Officer of fastjet, said: “I am delighted with the success of our Placing and with the positive reaction of investors. While our low cost airline model is already well established and highly regarded in Tanzania, this fundraising is a transformative step towards achieving fastjet’s goal of building Africa’s most successful pan-continental low-cost airline. “We will now be able to significantly expand our fleet and customer base, grow our operations organically, add new international routes and expand the fastjet model in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In doing so, we look forward to bringing our safe, reliable, low cost flights to up to 210 million potential customers, 20% of Africa’s population, and to creating a new market for aviation. “We have also announced a proposed share consolidation which we expect to be a positive development for investors, reducing share price volatility. To allow me to fully focus on the growth of the business, I am pleased to say that Clive Carver has taken over as interim non-executive Chairman.” The fastjet fleet is expected to grow using a mix of aircraft ownership models and by the end of 2018, it is anticipated that approximately one a third of the fleet will be leased, a third equity financed, and a further third debt financed. fastjet believes that a range of benefits will accrue from bringing purchased aircraft into the fleet, specifically balance sheet enhancement, cash flow reduction and the deferral of maintenance deposits. fastjet will also use the proceeds of yesterday’s placing to expand its existing operations and expects to further increase the frequency of flights on all its current routes, linking domestic destinations with routes such as Mwanza to Kilimanjaro, and add more international destinations such as Nairobi, Lilongwe, Mombasa and Lubumbashi to the Tanzanian network. A further opportunity includes the operation of 5th freedom flights through Entebbe, where Air Uganda has ceased operations and left a void in air connectivity. Ed Winter added: “In the past two years, we have established very strong foundations in Africa and demonstrated we can manage our way through challenging regulatory restrictions, operate to a high standard of reliability and operational performance, build an award-winning and relevant brand, establish and grow effective distribution channels and trade profitably.” ]]>
Namibia's new president sworn in after landslide victory
March 22, 2015 | 0 Comments
Windhoek (AFP) – Namibia’s new leader Hage Geingob was on Saturday sworn in as president, three months after he was elected in a landslide victory.
The 73-year-old president marked his inauguration by pledging to tackle poverty among the vast desert nation’s 2.2 million population.
“I am declaring war on poverty and inequality,” Geingob said in front of a packed stadium in the capital Windhoek.[caption id="attachment_17035" align="alignleft" width="300"] File photo shows then vice president of Namibia’s ruling South West Africa People Organization (SWAPO) Hage Geingob (2R) after voting in Windhoek on November 28, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jordaania Andima)[/caption]
Geingob, leader of South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), won the November 2014 vote with 87 percent of the vote, to become Namibia’s third democratically elected leader.
Namibia, which gained independence from South Africa in 1990, after decades of German rule, delayed the inauguration to coincide with its independence day.
The ceremony was attended by several regional leaders including President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, President Ian Khama of Botswana and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who has close ties with Namibia.
Geingob admitted in 2012 that the wealth of the uranium rich country was controlled by 10 percent of the population.
He replaces Hifikepunye Pohamba, also of SWAPO, who served the country for ten years.
Before his election, Geingob served as Namibia’s prime minister.
Outgoing president Pohamba said he looked back with satisfaction because his government had achieved many of its national development goals during his term in office.
“There are still many socio-economic challenges facing our people, especially the youth, women and vulnerable sections of our population. Two of the most pressing are poverty and unemployment,” he said.*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>
Residents: Boko Haram readies for battle in NE Nigeria
March 6, 2015 | 0 Comments
By HARUNA UMAR*
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Boko Haram fighters are massing at their headquarters in the northeast Nigerian town of Gwoza in preparation for a showdown with multinational forces, residents and an intelligence officer said.
A woman trapped there since Gwoza was seized in July told her daughter that Islamic extremists are urging civilians to leave town to avoid being killed in crossfire in an anticipated major battle.
Hajiya Adama said her mother said the fighters also have released young women being held against their will, including some made pregnant during their captivity.
She said her mother left last week and escaped to the town of Yola, in neighboring Adamawa state.
“She told me that Boko Haram terrorists asked them to leave suddenly, that they were preparing grounds for a major battle,” Adama told The Associated Press. “She said while being helped by other women to leave through Madagali, they saw many Boko Haram terrorists in trucks and some on bikes moving toward Gwoza.”
An intelligence officer said security forces are moving slowly for fear of harming civilians, and especially since Boko Haram is surrounding Gwoza with land mines.
He confirmed forces from Chad are in the area, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to reporters.
Boko Haram in August declared an Islamic caliphate across a swath of northeast Nigeria where it held sway. In recent weeks, Chadian and Nigerian troops have retaken a score of towns. But the militants continue to kill scores in suicide bombings and village attacks.
Retaking Gwoza would be a major coup for Nigeria and for the campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan for re-election at critical March 28 ballots. Critics say the contest is too close to call between Jonathan, a southern Christian, and retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator who has vowed to stamp out the 6-year-old insurgency that has killed an estimated 12,000 people and left 1.6 million homeless.*Source AP/Yahoo
Namibia leader wins $5m Mo Ibrahim African leadership prize
March 3, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Aude Genet*
Nairobi (AFP) – Namibia’s outgoing president was on Monday named winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for “good governance” in Africa, the world’s richest award that has seen a dearth of worthy candidates.[caption id="attachment_16772" align="alignleft" width="300"] Hifikepunye Pohamba (L) is only the fourth winner of the $5 million annual Mo Ibrahim prize, launched in 2007 with the aim of encouraging and rewarding good governance across Africa (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)[/caption]
Hifikepunye Pohamba, 79, is only the fourth winner of the $5 million annual prize, launched in 2007 with the aim of encouraging and rewarding good governance across a continent where the likes of Nelson Mandela — who bowed out gracefully from office — remain the exception.
While elections are now the rule in Africa, many leaders seek to force through constitutional changes in order to stay in power, sometimes well into old age, while others die in office or are forced to flee.
“President Pohamba’s focus in forging national cohesion and reconciliation at a key stage of Namibia’s consolidation of democracy and social and economic development impressed the prize committee,” said Salim Ahmed Salim, chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Prize committee and a former prime minister of Tanzania, during the announcement of the award in Nairobi.
The award, founded by Sudanese-British telecoms entrepreneur and billionaire Mo Ibrahim, is given to a democratically-elected former head of state who left office in the previous three years and who demonstrated “exceptional leadership” while abiding by constitutional term limits.
Winners are given $5 million over 10 years followed by a further $200,000 a year for life — seen as inducement to good behaviour by offering a sum of money big enough that leaders need not indulge in large-scale corruption before retiring.
Salim praised Pohamba’s “sound and wise leadership” and his “humility” during two constitutional terms. Pohamba did not contest national elections in December and is due to stand down as president on March 21.
– Most want to stay put –
The soft-spoken Pohamba has been hailed for reconciling with opponents, pushing for gender equality in politics and increasing spending on housing and education — earning him high approval ratings.
The prize has only been awarded on three previous occasions – in 2007, 2008 and 2011 – due to a lack of suitable candidates. Ex-presidents of Mozambique, Botswana and Cape Verde have all won the prize.
But the pattern across Africa has been of leaders seeking to stay put as long as possible.
Zambia’s president Michael Sata died while in office last year, as did leaders of Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi and Guinea-Bissau in 2012. In Burkina Faso mass protests last year brought a sudden end to president Blaise Compaore’s long rule.
Other leaders have sought to change their countries’ constitutions in order to stay in power. Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni changed the rules in 2006 and observers suspect Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila of scheming a similar move.
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza is also widely expected to seek a third term when the small central African nation goes to the polls in June, causing mounting tensions with opponents who argue such a move would be unconstitutional.
Speaking at the African Union summit in January, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned the assembled leaders against using “undemocratic constitutional changes and legal loopholes” to stay in power.*Source AFP]]>
Nigeria: Jonathan Receives Long-Awaited Audit Report On Missing U.S.$20 Billion Oil Money, but Details Remain Secret
February 4, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Talatu Usman*
President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday publicly received the report of the forensic audit carried out on the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] from the accounting firm that conducted the investigation.
The report submission ceremony, held a day after a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN], Chukwuma Soludo, wrote a long, acerbic article accusing the managers of the Nigerian economy of misappropriating over N30trillion of public funds, including several billions in oil money.
“Now add the ‘missing’ $20 billion from the NNPC,” Mr. Soludo said. “You promised a forensic audit report ‘soon’, and more than a year later the Report itself is still ‘missing’. This is over N4 trillion, and we don’t know how much more has ‘missed’ since Sanusi cried out. How many trillions of naira were paid for oil subsidy (unappropriated?).”
Insiders in the administration had long told PREMIUM TIMES that the report was submitted months ago by auditors but that it was gathering dust in the cupboards of the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Auditor General of the Federation.
In what appeared a hurried response to Mr. Soludo’s allegations, President Jonathan suspended campaign activities Monday to receive the report from the auditors in the presence of journalists, in a move aides say was aimed at correcting the impression created by the former CBN governor that the administration was sitting on the document.
At the ceremony held at the Presidential Villa, Mr. Jonathan received the report from Uyi Akpata, the country senior partner for PriceWaterHouseCoopers, and then promised a comprehensive reform of the oil sector.
The President did not give any insight into the details of the report. He only said the document would be sent to the Auditor General of the Federation in the next one week.
He said it is at the Auditor-General’s end that details of the report would be made public saying “media will want to know the key findings vis-a-vis the senate findings and figures being bandied around in the newspaper, but Nigerians are interested”.
The President noted that as part of the recommendation made, the petroleum industry bill would correct the lapses in the oil and gas sector.
“Indeed you mentioned the issue of reform in the sector, everybody knows that the sector needs to be reformed,” he said. “By the time we go through the petroleum industry bill and pass it into law, most of this lapses will be corrected and the misconception will be properly addressed.”
Suppressing the Report
PREMIUM TIMES had on December 27 reported how the government plotted to suppress the report. The forensic audit was commissioned following allegation by the immediate past Governor of the CBN, Lamido Sanusi, that about $20 billion oil money was missing from the NNPC.
The Presidency had on March 12, 2014 announced, through a statement by the president’s spokesperson, Reuben Abati, that it had authorised the engagement of reputable international firms to carry out the forensic audit of the accounts of the NNPC.
The audit firm had earlier submitted an interim report which the President said he rejected as the subject matter of the probe needed to be completely dealt with.
The allegation that the huge amount had been stolen was raised in 2013 by a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, who is now the Emir of Kano.
Mr. Sanusi said as much as $49 billion was diverted by state oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
He later reviewed the amount to $20 billion, and called for investigations after writing to President Goodluck Jonathan.
A Senate probe into the allegation yielded no result. Mr. Sanusi was later fired by President Jonathan after he was accused of “financial recklessness”.
The government said no money was missing, but promised a forensic investigation of NNPC.
In April, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, announced the appointment of the accounting firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC), to conduct a detailed investigation into the accounts and activities of NNPC.
The minister said the investigation, under the supervision of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, would take about 16 weeks.
That schedule meant at most by September 2014 ending, the report should have been ready. A two-month delay meant the report should have been ready by November.
But more than two months later, the government failed to release the report.
PREMIUM TIMES independently investigated the whereabouts of the report and its contents.
At each turn, relevant government offices denied having the report despite confirmation by senior officials of the finance ministry to this newspaper that the report had since been submitted by PriceWaterHouseCoopers.
The sources said the document was submitted to the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation. Our reporters contacted the offices of the Auditor-General and the Accountant- General repeatedly, pressing for the report, without success.
A spokesperson for the Auditor-General of the Federation, Florence Dibiase, said she was not aware of the report.
Also, Abba Dabo, the Director, Extra Ministerial Department, in the Office of the Auditor general of the Federation, denied knowledge of the report. Mr. Dabo said he should be in charge of such documents if they were available.
He said the role of the auditor-general’s office was in selecting PriceWaterHouseCoopers as the auditing firm, after which the matter reverted to the finance ministry.
Mr. Dabo said only the Auditor General, Samuel Ukura, could speak authoritatively on whether any such report was ready. Mr. Ukura could not be reached for comments at the time.
PREMIUM TIMES also contacted PriceWaterHouseCoopers, where an official said the firm would only be able to comment on a later date.