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REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: WHERE ART THOU?
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Chris Fomunyoh and Judith Johnson*

If ever there was extraordinary significance in the celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it is now.  Everything Dr. King, the civil rights icon, worked and died for; his voice and vision, and what he continues to represent is being tested in today’s America and the world at large. The bedrock of Dr. King’s life and legacy — social justice, racial equality, equity and inclusion, human dignity and non violence — are being tested: in emerging democraciesin which the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and similar organizations typically provide democracy strengthening technical assistance, and here in the very heart of the oldest, established democracy, the USA. Most notably, the storming of the U.S. Congress on January 6 had the world gaze in amazement, wondering whether in the words of the 20th century Irish poet W.B. Yeats (in the Second Coming) later adopted by the Nigerian literary icon Chinua Achebe (in his seminal novel ‘Things Fall Apart’), “The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

The bill making the MLK Day a federal holiday was signed into law in 1983, coincidentally the same year NDI was founded; although only from 2000, has the day been celebrated as a federal holiday in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Had his life not been snatched by the bullet of an assassin in Memphis, Tennessee in April 1968, Dr. King would have turned 90 last summer. 

If Dr. King lived through 2020, he would have been appalled and saddened by the America he saw, struggling under the heavy weight of racial injustice, especially in matters of policing and law enforcement, and racial tensions that boiled to the surface after a series of brutal murders of unarmed African-American men and women by white police officers. The most abhorrent of those cases was that of George Floyd, who suffocated under the knee of a white police officer as he pleaded he couldn’t breathe, and after close to eight minutes in that position, drew his last breath. The images of George Floyd, like those of Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmauld Arbery, and a total of 226 black Americans killed by police in 2020 alone, went viral on television and social media. Revolted by what they saw and learned, citizens in cities and towns across the U.S. and wellwishers in foreign lands overseas, erupted in shock and disapproval. Many participated in peaceful protests and some Americans committed to confronting injustices head on by leading movements for greater social justice and enhanced political participation and representation for African-Americans and other minorities.

Imagining if Dr. King had lived through summer 2020, he would have run head on into the beehive of current U.S. electoral politics during which hard won gains of civil and voting rights obtained in the 1960s came under threat from attempts at voter suppression and disenfranchisement, compounded by the global COVID-19 pandemic.  The ever eloquent Dr. King would have run out of words on January 6, as rioters sought to undermine American democracy by disrupting the counting of electoral college votes and certification of the presidential election results. They forced their way violently into the citadel of U.S. democracy — the U.S. Congress — rampaged through offices, including that of the Speaker, and manhandled law enforcement officers charged with the security of members, staff and the building itself. Lives were lost, property destroyed and the Capitol desecrated. Worse still, the psyche of “small d” democrats, nationally and internationally was shaken because no one imagined such a frontal attack on the embodiment of American democracy. Moreover, speculation was rife about the possible complacency or complicity of individuals whose responsibility it is, paradoxically, to protect, nurture and defend the country’s democracy.  

Almost everything about that march on Congress was unkingly, such as the chants about violently hurting and even hanging elected officials, and open display of symbols of racism and antisemitism. A noose was later found on the premises of the Congress. The rioters or insurrectionists of January 6, started their march from the Lincoln Memorial, otherwise noted for one of Dr. King’s most remarkable speeches on racial justice, equality and the hope that we’ll all “be judged not by the color of…skin, but by the content of …character.” 

But Dr. King left the stage before now and wouldn’t see any of that; and with him went Congressman John Lewis, another giant of the civil rights movement. They went early but the pillars of their faith in the goodness of humanity remain unstained, and their combined gospel on racial justice, equality and non violence continue to echo here and across the globe — and therein lies the umbilical cord that binds to them, organizations such as NDI that seek to promote and strengthen their values of improving the human condition.

NDI’s affinity to the MLK Day goes beyond the symbolic linkages of an organization launched in the same year (1983) as the legalization of this day: it goes to the symbiosis of our efforts to project, promote and represent through our mission and programming internationally, and however imperfectly, the values that Dr. King espoused dearly. Democracy support entails strengthening non-violent means of citizen engagement and active participation in political processes from the bottom up and public service delivery from the top down. Similarly, NDI efforts at enhancing women and youth political participation and representation, and advocacy for other marginalized groups seek to sync with Dr. King’s aspirations for equality and inclusion.

Part of the beauty of our practice is that in the countries in which we work, the democracy champions, civic and political actors who are our partners and program beneficiaries, are adepts and disciples of Dr. King. Many of them already stood in Dr. King’s corner long before NDI opened shop. While that often translates into a welcoming mat for NDI on arrival, it also raises the bar by which we ourselves would be assessed.  

So we must acknowledge that being privileged by such proximity imposes additional responsibilities; and while we have a distance to travel on the MLK highway, we have, as an organization, raised the level of consciousness among staff at headquarters and in country offices in close to 60 countries, hoping eventually to also impact our local partners and program beneficiaries.  

NDI launched its first ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council in July 2020, and set out to stimulate and facilitate frank, open conversations about what is lacking or broken on these issues, and how it could be fixed. The goal is to create secure spaces where every voice within the organization can be heard, and where we can benefit from everyone’s input to better perfect the organization we love dearly, and whose mission is for many a calling and not just a job. We show our commitment to the DEI cause and to the greater mission of the organization, knowing that despite the dark clouds that may have traversed the skies in 2020 and early 2021, the day will dawn and lightness will emerge; for, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

*Co-chairs, NDI’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.Courtesy of NDI

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African Development Bank President Adesina named a champion of Africa’s Great Green Wall climate-adaptation initiative
January 12, 2021 | 0 Comments
In the role of champion, Adesina will lead the mobilisation of political and economic support for the initiative
PARIS, France, January 12, 2021/ — African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina has been announced as a champion of Africa’s Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative.

The appointment was made at a forum held in the margins of the One Planet Summit 20201 to mobilise support for the ambitious project to plant an 8,000 km swathe of trees and other vegetation across the Sahara and Sahel regions of Africa. The green wall will act as a barrier against desertification and aims to create over 10 million green jobs in the region.

“I would also like to welcome the commitment of Dr. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, who has agreed to take on the role of resource mobilization champion and help raise, by 2030, all the necessary funds for the realization of the Great Green Wall,” French President Emmanuel Macron told participants.

In the role of champion, Adesina will lead the mobilisation of political and economic support for the initiative.

“The Great Green Wall Initiative is the first step on the way to nature-based solutions as well as solutions based on the vitality of African eco-solutions,” said Macron. “France is very committed to this region from the standpoint of security and sustainability. We need to beef up the initiative for all the 11 countries.”

During the forum, Adesina announced that the Bank would mobilize up to $6.5 billion over the next 5 years for the Great Green Wall Initiative, joining multilateral development institutions, governments and development partners that have pledged over $14 billion. The World Bank, for instance, pledged over $5 billion in funding to advance land restoration and degradation issues and to address challenges around Lake Chad.

Adesina praised the initiative. “The Great Green Wall is part of Africa’s environmental defense system — a shield against the onslaughts of desertification and degradation,” he said. “The future of the Sahel region of Africa depends on the Great Green Wall. Without the Great Green Wall, in the face of climate change and desertification, the Sahel may disappear.”

The Bank will extend resources through a range of mechanisms, partnerships and operations, and draw on internal and external sources of funding, including the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), among others.

Adesina noted that ongoing Bank initiatives such as Desert to Power, a programme to build the largest solar zone in the world in the Sahel, will enhance and complement the Great Green Wall. “This will provide electricity for 250 million people and help to protect the Great Green Wall. If there is no access to energy, the Great Green Wall will be no more than trees waiting to be turned into charcoal.” The Bank has committed to mobilize $25 billion for climate finance by 2025.

The One Planet Summit 2021 is hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. The Summit, held annually, brings together political leaders, private sector decision makers, foundations, NGOs and citizens to identify and accelerate funding for climate, biodiversity and ocean solutions and mobilize all stakeholders in public life and the economic world in collaborative efforts.

Other Great Green Wall Champions include musicians Baaba Maal and Ricky Kej and environmental activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim.
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South Sudan: President Kiir appoints six deputy state governors
January 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President Salva Kiir
President Salva Kiir

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has appointed six deputy governors for some of the states in the East African youngest nation.

There are 10 states in South Sudan with 9 appointed governors last year and 3 Chief Administrators, with no state cabinets and other local government officials.

In a presidential decree issued Wednesday evening, Kiir named the deputy governors for Jonglei, Lakes, Unity, Eastern Equatoria, Western Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal state.

In the decree, President Kiir appointed a woman and five men as the deputy governors. 

President, however, did not appoint deputy governors for three states – Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Central Equatoria states.

The leadership of one state -Upper Nile is still in contention. This excludes Upper Nile state which is yet to get a governor.

A reconciliation conference of the communities of the state is set to take place in Juba to discuss ways and means of resolving communal differences to create harmony in the state.

The announcement only featured nominees of the SPLM under President Salva Kiir and those of the SPLM-IO under Dr. Riek Machar.

There were also no appointees from the South Sudan Opposition Alliance, SSOA, Other Political Parties (OPP) and the Former Detainees, FDs.

According to the revitalized peace deal, the responsibility sharing ratio at State and local government levels shall be 55% for the SPLM; 27% for the SPLM/A-IO; 10% for SSOA and 8% for OPP.

However, in August, the parties agreed on a new formula for sharing state structures.

They agreed that there shall remain 10 deputy governors.

President Salva Kiir’s group shall nominate 3, Dr. Riek Machar’s party shall nominate 3, while SSOA shall nominate one, and OPP shall nominate 3 deputy governors.

His Presidential Advisor on Security, Tut Gatluak had informed the media yesterday that there are still misunderstandings among members of the Other Political Parties, OPP, over their choice for deputy governors in states allocated to them.

According to Presidential Adviser Tut Gatluak, all state governments and county authorities will be formed by the first week of January 2021.

“By the first week of January, we would have completed the formation of the transitional government from national to state levels,” Gatluak said.

They also agreed to appoint five Advisors for each state governor.

They further resolved to appoint 17 ministers for each of the states.

President Kiir’s party shall nominate nine, Machar with five nominees, two from SSOA and one from the OPP.

The parties are also yet to appoint state Ministers, Legislators, Advisors, Commissioners and Administrators.

In the end, there shall be a total of 170 ministers in the ten states, 50 advisors, 60 chairpersons of commissions and 510 members of parliament, Commissioners, Administrators and other local level officials.

Two years after signing the revitalized peace agreement, the country’s political leaders are still struggling to implement tasks spelt out by the deal.

Many critical tasks remain unaccomplished, including the unification and deployment of government and opposition forces, the peace parties are yet to reconstitute the national legislature – the body responsible for enacting reforms stipulated in the agreement.

According to observers, disputes among the peace parties and financial constraints have been major obstacles to completing the peace processes.

Despite that the observers say this is a motivating step for the way forward. 

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What the U.S. Political Transition Might Mean for Africa Generally and Its Oil and Gas Sector in Particular
December 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jude Kearney*

US Africa relations will likely improve by virtue of Trump’s exit.

2021 could be the beginning of a much needed reset for US relations with Africa and its various countries and regions. To date, most African governments have responded positively to the results of the recent U.S. presidential election, with many African leaders offering their congratulations to Joe Biden. That is no surprise: Donald Trump’s presidency has been, at best, a mixed bag for Africa and Africans.

President Trump’s Africa Legacy

Unfortunately for Donald Trump, his widely reported use of profane and vile language in a closed door meeting to describe African and other developing countries is now viewed by many, including most Africans, as clear evidence that he is uninterested in any meaningful or supportive relationship with Africa. While I accept it as fact that such derogation of a whole continent of peoples displays bigotry and disdain towards Africans, it is nonetheless true that, by some measures, his administration’s substantive policies and actions towards Africa are not all negative. For instance, it is a fact that Trump played a role in facilitating the April 2020? OPEC plus” deal which helped to stabilize the oil industry and gave African oil-producing nations new opportunities to recover from COVID-19-related economic hardships. Certain of his administration’s senior officials and agencies have championed policies devoted to creating openings in Africa for US and Western investments, though primarily as a geopolitical hedge against our nation’s chief international hegemonic rivals. Indeed, the Prosper Africa program was launched by his administration pursuant to the stated intention to utilize the resources of the, including the balance sheet of a new, highly capitalized US Development Finance Corporation, to more forcefully compete for partnerships and commercial opportunities for US businesses in Africa.)

But let’s be clear: Among Africans and those in the private sector dedicated to partnering with and developing countries and regions in Africa, the net effect of Trump on US Africa matters is deeply negative. He didn’t win any friends in Africa by the above-mentioned disparagement of Africa as a monolithic “shithole”, nor through his spontaneous and otherwise unsubstantiated issuance of orders restricting travel to the United States from several African states beginning in 2017.  In a move that drew criticism from many observers (including myself), his administration also withdrew from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2017, thereby weakening the critical war against corruption in the extractives industries (including especially the hydrocarbons sector). And the shithole reference was troubling beyond its arresting and unpresidential nature: that comment came as a flourish, of sorts, meant to punctuate his view of the unattractiveness of Africans as immigrate to the United States. As retold by an official present at the meeting, Trump would prefer instead emigres from Norway.

All, in all, where the Trump administration is concerned, US Africa relations will likely improve by virtue of Trump’s exit, even as observers seek to retain and expand on the few Trump policies and initiatives which are useful to the relationship. What remains is therefore to see what in particular the Biden Administration portends for the relationship.

How Substantially Better Will US Africa Relations Be Under Biden?

For a host of reasons, including his standing with the African American community, his reputation for stability and reason, and his renown for foreign policy expertise and diplomatic good will, Biden as president is already viewed by Africans and Africanists as an improvement over Trump. Certainly, Biden is expected to strike a different tone. In addition, throughout his presidential campaign, Biden engaged a group of dedicated Africa and foreign policy specialists to help him define and convey a positive and substantive Africa polity. Indeed, the Biden transition team has already pledged to aim for “mutually respectful engagement toward Africa with a bold strategy,” so it seems safe to assume that the new administration will take a much less confrontational approach to Africa, with an important nod to improving trade and diplomacy relationships between the US and African countries.

It is thus at least reassuring that there will be earnest and polite interaction between the US Government and its various bilateral counterparts in Africa. But will politeness good will be enough? Will the Biden administration be willing to work with Africa in ways that are productive and substantive, or will it offer mostly warm regards and rhetoric? In particular, will the new administration craft true partnerships with certain African governments and, importantly, will the Biden administration navigate a path in its Africa policies that advances US goals while acknowledging the unique juxtaposition of Africa’s continued and growing demand for power generation and poverty abatement, on the one hand, while on the other hand it must rely overwhelmingly on extractive resources, including hydrocarbons, to capitalize the installation of power and abatement of poverty.

Africa’s Energy Conundrum

So, looking more granularly at future of US Africa policy on Africa’s economies, what does the impending US presidential transition mean for Africa’s oil and gas sector? By virtue of my role at the African Energy Chamber, I simply have to ask: How will the Biden administration approach African oil and gas? Is it likely to exert itself to strengthen one of the most important pillars of the continent’s economy, or will it focus on other issues? How will it deal with energy poverty issues? Will the US help to fund an energy transition for Africa and brainstorm with leaders in Africa on the balance of optimizing Africa’s extractive resources while likewise planning a sustainable future for Africa and the planet? Or instead, on these thorny issues, will African countries be left to fend for themselves seek partnerships and support on these issues elsewhere? (It is a safe bet that China and Russia and others will be happy if that latter tack is taken.) Though I certainly don’t expect it, a related question should also be asked: Will the Biden Treasury Department continue policies where its default position is to distrust and punish Africa’s governments through sanctions and punitive monetary and banking restrictions, increasing the chances that certain countries will never get the developmental traction to pull itself out of stagnation? Will there be, in particular, an abrupt anti-funding posture towards Africa’s biggest commodity, hydrocarbons? Will the new administration utilize the good will that it will enjoy with Africa upon inauguration and the administration’s agency initiatives to foster stronger private sector alliances between US and African companies? In regards to expanded trade between the African continent and the US, how might the US provide input and partnership with Africa on the development of the proposed African Free Trade Agreement and how might the US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act be improved and strengthened so as to substantially improve direct trade advantages between the US and certain African countries?

Biden administration answers to these and similar questions will have profound influence on the tenor and success of renewed engagement between Africa and the US.

Relationship Between US Africa Policy and US Domestic Priorities, Especially Including Climate Change

First of all, the incoming administration’s top priority is likely to be COVID-19 — and specifically, the domestic implications of the pandemic. For despite the recent roll-out of several types of vaccines, infection rates are rising in the United States — and may continue to do so for some time yet. At the same time, the U.S. economy has not yet regained the momentum it lost in the spring. The outbreak is still causing companies to go out of business and people to lose jobs.

Under these circumstances, it makes sense for Biden to focus on the home front. What that means, though, is that he’ll inevitably devote more attention to the question of how best to compensate for the loss of many thousands of jobs in the U.S. oil and gas sector than to the question of how best to support upstream, midstream, and downstream projects that might create many thousands of jobs in Africa.

In short, the Biden administration is probably not going to make Africa’s oil and gas sector a priority.

But that’s not just because of the pandemic. The second reason why is that Biden has identified climate change as an urgent threat that requires immediate attention. He said so explicitly at a news conference on Dec. 19, as he named his picks for three cabinet-level posts at the Department of Energy (DoE), Department of the Interior (DoI), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Folks, we’re in a crisis,” he declared. “Just like we need to be [a] unified nation that responds to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change. We need to meet the moment with the urgency it demands, as we would during any national emergency.”

Biden also described climate change as “the existential threat of our time.”

These statements are all perfectly in line with the lofty goals outlined on the Biden campaign website. They suggest the incoming U.S. administration will come down decisively on the side of renewable, zero-emissions energy initiatives at the expense of oil and gas. They suggest the Biden team might not provide any backing, financial or otherwise, for projects that aim to help African and international companies turn the continent’s abundant hydrocarbon reserves into fuel for domestic industry. And they suggest Washington might not be overly sympathetic to African countries that are trying to reduce their carbon footprint by expanding the use of natural gas as a fuel for electricity generation.

China’s Role in Africa: Africa Requests the Favor of US Attention and US Business Practices as Alternatives

If a strictly anti-hydrocarbon policy dominates US posture towards African economies, African states are left with little choice but to push back against such cut-and-dried policies which would essentially disregard the continent’s primary source of economic survival. And it may have the clearly unintended consequence of pushing African states deeper into the arms of other geopolitical suitors who acknowledge the unavoidable role that hydrocarbon resources play in Africa’s economy.

That push back will come not just because gas-fired power stations, a creative and growing use of Africa’s abundant hydrocarbon resources, generate less carbon dioxide other petroleum products–while also supplying the electricity that Africans need to improve their own lives and build their own economies—but also because other foreign investors, while not necessarily favored in many countries, in Africa, don’t place the impossible burden on Africa of ignoring its most prevalent source of income . China is chief among the countries sending such alternative investors into Africa.

I’m hardly the first person to notice that Beijing has taken a strong interest in Africa — in its resources, in its strategic locations, in its potential as a market for Chinese goods. And I’m also not the first person to notice that this interest has led multiple African countries to accept loans from China, which does not follow Western creditors’ practices of imposing requirements for transparency and human rights protections. But I want to add my voice to those who have pointed out that Chinese loans may be a net drag on Africa, since they often do little to support local workers or local companies and are so hard to repay that they sometimes leave borrowers with no option but to forfeit control of important assets.

I also want to point out that billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese credits have flowed into Africa’s oil and gas sector — especially in cases where sanctions and other restrictions have limited opportunities for Western investors. Chinese companies have, for example, played the leading role in developing oil fields in Chad, Sudan, and South Sudan. They have also established footholds in key producer states where sanctions are not a consideration — as in Nigeria, where a Chinese company is building the cross-country Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline.

In short, China is looking to play a significant role in Africa’s oil and gas sector. What’s more, it’s making clear that it’s ready to invest in hydrocarbons even when the United States and other Western countries won’t do so.

Certainly, African countries aren’t going to be turning their back on Chinese investments any time soon – and they shouldn’t. Even so, I’d like the continent’s oil and gas producers to have as many options as possible. As I’ve already said, I’m concerned.

And I think the United States ought to be concerned, too. Partly because China doesn’t always play fair with respect to trade and currency policy.  Partly because China doesn’t necessarily share the U.S. government’s stance on transparency and accountability. 

The Biden administration will be in a better position to do the watching if it looks for ways to help U.S. businesses compete in the same sectors that China has been targeting in Africa. It therefore ought to give serious consideration to projects that involve hydrocarbons. It should look for ways to provide financing, risk insurance, and other forms of support for African oil and gas initiatives, and it should pursue closer diplomatic and trade ties with African states that don’t fall in line with Beijing’s demands. It could, for example, back the Sudanese interim government’s decision not to renew PetroChina’s contract for Block 6 in the Muglad basin at the end of 2020.

U.S. DFC, Among Certain Other Agencies, Offers Great Potential for Both the U.S. and Africa

The one key initiative taken by the outgoing Administration which can be most useful to the development of an improved US Africa relationship in the coming years is the consolidation and focus of US developmental objectives through the establishment of the US Development Finance Corporation. The substantially increased balance sheet and proactive charter given to the agency can be used to greatly enhance African development initiatives and foster stronger bilateral ties between the US and many African nations. However, as is widely known in Washington, personnel is policy: the use and treatment of this agency and its resources by new Biden administration appointees will go a long way toward defining the tenor and effectiveness of Biden Africa policy. could also make better use of existing institutions — especially the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

The Trump administration had a point when it gave the DFC — which is described as the provider of “an economically viable form of private sector-led investment, offering a robust alternative to state-directed investment which often leaves countries saddled with debt”— the task of promoting U.S. trade and economic interests in the face of stiff competition from China.

What’s more, I don’t expect the Biden administration to set DFC aside — at least not initially, while it focuses so closely on the pandemic and climate change. Instead, I expect the incoming team to let the corporation continue along its current course for the time being.

The problem is that DFC’s course doesn’t do much for the oil and gas sector in Africa. The agency has lent its support to several gas-to-power schemes, such as the Central Termica de Temane (CTT) initiative in Mozambique, but it has shown much more interest in renewable energy projects such as solar farms.

This imbalance doesn’t seem to be the product of any institutional biases against fossil fuels. After all, DFC has awarded funding to a number of upstream and midstream projects in the Middle East and Latin America. Nevertheless, there is an imbalance, and African oil and gas producers could try to correct it by asking this U.S. government agency for help in financing oil and gas production, transportation, processing, and distribution initiatives.

If they succeed, they’ll be in a better position to seek alternatives to Chinese creditors as they work to develop some of their most valuable natural resources. And along the way, they’ll also extract more of the fuels they need to produce more electricity, support local industries, and raise their earnings.

*Mr. Kearney collaborated on this article with NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and CEO of Centurion Law Group

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A Tribute to African Men and Women We Lost in 2020
December 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

George Bizos was a prominent Lawyer in the fight against apartheid

2020 will go down in history as one unforgettable year – certainly not on the positive front. This all as a result of the novel corona virus pandemic which brought about some devastating consequences on the global stage. The number of the infected as of 25 November 2020 in Africa has eclipsed the 1.5 million mark while several thousands have lost their lives. The impact of the corona virus pandemic however is not just seen in regards to the infected and death stats but also includes the millions of people who lost their sources of livelihoods and incomes owing to national lockdowns implemented by African countries in a bid to combat the spread of COVID-19.

It’s no doubt; therefore, that the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating and has negatively affected all individuals on the African continent in one way or the other. However, in 2020, Africa also had to deal with the losses of some top Africans who during their lifetime achieved some incredible feats. In this article, we are going to take time in celebrating the lives and paying tribute to fallen African legends.

George Bizos (South Africa)

On the 9th of September 2020, Africa lost George Bizos. Bizos was a lawyer by profession who mostly practiced in South Africa. Known to some as the unrelenting crusader for justice, Bizos died at a ripe age of 92. During the course of his career, George Bizos did inspire and impact the lives of many people. On this front, its best to highlight some of his most popular cases just to demonstrate how his work impacted people seeking justice.

During the Apartheid era in South Africa when the white minority government was systematically discriminating against the black majority, George Bizos decided to be the lawyer for Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress who was facing persecution. The pair had met while studying law in Johannesburg. When Mandela started his anti-Apartheid activities, he often times crossed paths with law enforcement agents and Bizos was always there to bail him out. Perhaps the most prominent of all bail outs is the Rivonia Trial. In 1964, Mandela together with other anti-Apartheid activists were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of seeking to overthrow the Apartheid government. When both sides had concluded their closing remarks, Bizos asked the defendant’s team to show him the closing remarks. After going through the document, he urged the team to add the words, “if needs be” – this phrase was the difference which determined that Mandela receive a life time sentence instead of a death sentence.

George Bizos also endeared himself with the common man. After South Africa attained independence in 1994, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up. Bizos would go on to represent and work with victims that appeared before the Commission urging them to speak freely without any fear in exposing their perpetrators and the risks and damages they were exposed to. At times, George Bizos would take his work beyond borders. When the main opposition leader in Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai (now late) was arrested on treason charges, at the turn of the millennium, George Bizos travelled all the way from South Africa to Zimbabwe to face off with the much feared Robert Mugabe representing Tsvangirai.  Tsvangirai eventually won the case and was acquitted.

Jerry Rawlings (Ghana)

Jerry Rawlings, the man who ruled Ghana from 1981 to 2000 passed on 12 November 2020. Jerry Rawlings during his tenure as Ghana’s president was known for being a champion of decentralization and municipal movement. His incredible work to ensure that decentralization became a common feature in modern African states saw him win the prestigious distinction award from the Executive Committee political leadership of UCLG Africa in 2013. Rawlings believed that only through decentralization could Africa emerge from its shells and become a force to be reckoned with on the international stage. In one of his most acclaimed speeches on decentralization, Jerry Rawlings had this to say:

“Decentralization is a system of power devolution that garners respect and confidence from the people who choose us as leaders. Decentralization allows for governments to share their burden with the ordinary people. This is what has been structured and elevated into what we call local government. Everything possible should be done to encourage local government. It shares the central government’s burden with the people, demystifies what governance is about and brings people in touch with the problems that central government faces.”

Following the death of Jerry Rawlings, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairman of the African Union Commission said, “Africa has lost a stalwart of Pan-Africanism and a charismatic, continental statesman.”

Africa lost one of its venerated elder statesmen in Jerry Rawlings
Africa lost one of its venerated elder statesmen in Jerry Rawlings

Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi)

Former Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza also passed away this year. Nkurunziza just died a sudden death without any reports of ill-health. Both in his country and beyond, Nkurunziza during his time as the leader of Burundi sharply divided opinion. To some, Nkurunziza was viewed as a dictator, another one of the numerous African dictators. To some however, Nkurunziza was viewed as a great Pan-Africanist, a man who valued African regional integration and unity above anything else. Whichever side one may align with when it comes to Nkurunziza, the one thing that crystal clear from his rule as the Burundi president is that he did all he could to unify a nation that was highly divided along ethnic lines. Before his ascension to power, several top government officials including his predecessor had all been assassinated owing to the ethnic alignments. However, Nkurunziza managed to stamp out ethnic linked political assassinations.

Away from the political realm, Nkurunziza wanted so much for his country to enjoy the same economic benefits as those enjoyed by developed nations. It is against this background that he called upon all industrialists, researchers and economists to come up with strategies that would help in diversifying the economy. Burundi largely depended on exporting two products that is coffee and tea. However, overreliance on these two was not prudent hence the reason Nkurunziza favoured associating himself with a young generation of technocrats in a quest to come up with ways on how best the country could diversify its economy.

 Many were stunned by the death of Pierre Nkurunziza who was actively preparing to hand over to his elected successor
Many were stunned by the death of Pierre Nkurunziza who was actively preparing to hand over to his elected successor

Abya Kyari (Nigeria)

Nigerian President Muhammadou Buhari lost his best friend who was also working as his Chief of Staff earlier this year. Abya Kyari was Buhari’s right hand man for many years going back before the time Buhari had even won the Nigerian presidential race.

In his role as the Chief of Staff, many attributed him as Nigeria’s de-factor president. This necessitated by the fact that the role of the Chief of Staff entails organizing the life of his principal that is, President Buhari. Kyari was also known not to shy away from dabbling in actual governance, something admired by many while also loathed by many. He was instrumental in shaping the contours of the Buhari administration policy thinking on agriculture, defining the government’s focus on achieving rice self-sufficiency. Looking at the stats, its crystal clear that Kyari’s work paid dividends as Nigeria now produces more rice annually, about four million tons a year.

In a moving tribute, the Nigerian President had this to say, “Mallam Abba Kyari, who died on 17th April, 2020, at the age of 67 from complications caused by the Coronavirus, was a true Nigerian patriot. My loyal friends and compatriot for the last 42 years – and latterly my Chief-of-Staff – he never wavered in his commitment to the betterment of every one of us. He was only in his twenties when we first met. A diligent student, soon after he was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad – first at Warwick and then law at the University of Cambridge. But there was ever any question Abba would bring his first-rate skills and newly acquired world-class knowledge back to Nigeria – which he did – immediately upon graduation. Whilst possessing the sharpest legal and organizational mind, Abba’s true focus was always the development of infrastructure and the assurance of security for the people of this nation he served so faithfully. For he knew that without both in tandem there can never be the development of the respectful society and vibrant economy that all Nigerian citizens deserve. In political life, Abba never sought elective office for himself. Rather, he set himself against the view and conduct of two generations of Nigeria’s political establishment – who saw corruption as an entitlement and its practice a byproduct of possessing political office. Becoming my Chief of Staff in 2015, he strove quietly and without any interest in publicity or personal gain to implement my agenda… He made clear in his person and his practice, always, that every Nigerian – regardless of faith, family, fortune or frailty – was heard and treated respectfully and the same. Mallam Abba Kyari was the very best of us. He was made of the stuff that makes Nigeria great. Rest in Peace, my dearest friend.”

Manu Dibango (Cameroon)

Manu Dibango popularly known as ‘Pappy Grove’ passed on from COVID-19 complications on 24 March. Manu Dibango was a Franco-Cameroonian singer of world jazz who was regarded by many as an international symbol of African music. Dibango was one of the pioneering African artists to reach the Top 40 American charts. He would go on to scoop some prestigious accolades and awards for his brilliant music.

While Dibango is popularly known for his musical career, he also was a proud Pan-Africanist. In a touching tribute, Ugandan author and journalist had this to say, “To understand why Manu was special, it is important to understand the political context in which ‘Soul Makosa’ came out… It was the Cold War, and Africa was caught between inept brutal military dictatorships. They were gloomy times, and along come ‘Soul Makossa,’ which had a unique cheerfulness and cosmopolitanism to it. It was just what people needed, because it brought warmth to people’s lives… It helped, of course, that he looked cool. He was Issac Hayes without the beard… At that time if folks wanted to be cool, not be political sellouts, and have some Pan-African creds, the Makossa man was the badge they carried.”

Soul Makossa translating to ‘I will Dance’ is the song credited for putting Manu Dibango on the global map.

Manu Dibango was one of the prominent Africans who died of COVID 19
Manu Dibango was one of the prominent Africans who died of COVID 19

Aurlus Mabele (Congo-Brazzaville)

The King of Soukous, Aurlus Mabele passed on, on 19 March. The Multi-talented Mabele who was a singer, composer and bandleader was known far beyond his native Congo-Brazzaville. Born in Congo-Brazzaville, from an early age Mabele demonstrated a strong passion for music. When he started to craft his own music, he created an up-tempo dance music synchronized from American R&B and funk, West African music and numerous Caribbean genres including bele, meringue, soca, beguine, modern chouval bwa and cadence-lypso. During his time, Aurlus Mabele shared the stage with some great artists including African Fiesta, Papa Wemba, Pepe Kalle and Michael Jackson.

Amadou Gon Coulibally (Ivory Coast)

On July 8 2020, Ivory Coast woke up to the sad news that aspiring presidential candidate Amadou Gon Coulibally had passed on. Amadou Gon Coulibally had been a constant feature in Ivory Coast politics for a long period. He rose to the post of Prime Minister in January 2017 and by 2020, he had been nominated as the ruling party’s candidate in the 2020 Ivorian presidential election – he according to many polls was tipped as the favourite to win.

Before his ascension to the post of Prime Minister, Amadou Gon Coulibally had served in various roles in government including serving as the Minister of Agriculture, senior Minister, Secretary General of the Presidency, Director of Economic and Financial Studies as well as Deputy Director General.

Amadou Gon Coulibaly, then secretary general of the presidency, speaks at the presidential palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast Friday, April 13, 2012. Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the presidential candidate of Ivory Coast's ruling party, died Wednesday, July 8, 2020 just days after returning from two months of medical treatment in France, where he previously had undergone a heart transplant, the country's presidency announced. (AP Photo/Diomande Ble Blonde)
Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the presidential candidate of Ivory Coast’s ruling party, died Wednesday, July 8, 2020 just days after returning from two months of medical treatment in France, where he previously had undergone a heart transplant, the country’s presidency announced. (AP Photo/Diomande Ble Blonde)

Speaking after the passing of Amadou Gon Coulibally, the President of the African Development Bank (AFDB) Akinwumi Adesina said “Amadou Gon was an exemplary leader… He was such a great champion of programs to accelerate the development of his country. He carried the vision of the President and the government wholeheartedly into every meeting, into every discussion.”

*Culled from December Issue of PAV Magazine

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Most US Administrations Have Not Had Good Policies On Africa-Lawrence Freeman
December 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Many of the Presidents in recent periods have not had very good policies for Africa, says Lawrence Freeman

Many of the Presidents in recent periods have not had very good policies for Africa, says Lawrence Freeman

As the Biden -Harris administration warms up to take power, questions are been asked on how their African policy will look like. To Lawrence Freeman, while the potential of stronger ties and bonds are real, it is best not to have high expectations as successive U.S administrations have not had good policies on Africa.

The political and economic analyst with thirty years of experience working on Africa says the last President who engaged Africa in a substantive way was President John Kennedy in the 60s. Though the relations seemed to have reached an all-time low during the Trump administration, Freeman opines that successive administrations including the more recent ones of Clinton, Bush and Obama all considered Africa as a low priority area, giving the Chinese an opening to hold sway. Freeman who runs a blog on Africa and frequently travels the continent, says his goal is to see poverty eliminated in Africa in his lifetime.

Pan African Visions: It is not every day you see an American whose work has focused on Africa for some thirty years now, could we start this interview with what motivates or makes Lawrence Freeman passionate about Africa?

Lawrence Freeman: It started in the second half of the 1960s. Some people will remember that it was a time of political activism, and I was involved in High School and later on in College. One of the things I began to think about was the conditions in Africa – the fact that it is a large continent with so much land and why will the people go hungry. About 30 years ago I began to focus on Africa, and I began to write, had meetings started with some Cameroonians, Liberians, and then I ended up going to Nigeria in the 1990s which I have been many times. I now teach a course on African History and it has been my passion increasingly and every year I am more and more involved. 3 years ago, I set up my website so I can publish my articles. I am a researcher, journalist, consultant and my goal is to eliminate poverty in Africa in my lifetime.

Pan African Visions: How will you describe African policy under President Trump, what were some of the changes that you observed?

Lawrence Freeman: US policy under President Trump was not effective. I have to say many of the Presidents in recent periods have not had very good policies for Africa. Many of them do not understand Africa, and they already have an interest which is a low priority on the President’s list. The last President to engage himself in Africa was John F. Kennedy. He established a very unique relationship with Kwame Nkrumah and the latter was the first Head of State that John F. Kennedy brought to the United States on March 8 before any other country in the world. Trump has done very little; he has a programme called Prosper Africa which does not do much but focus on Trade and not a real development programme. He has involved himself in the Ethiopia dam issue in a very provocative manner by suggesting that Egypt may bomb the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam which was very unfortunate.

On the other hand, he has been very supportive of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in his confrontation with Tigray and also very supportive of President Ouattara in the election in Cote d’Ivoire. But overall, I would not give him a very high mark, but that is not very different from President Obama or President Clinton.

Pan African Visions: Some people have described him as been dis-engaged, for African countries that yearn for genuine independence, was this not an opportunity to let them handle their affairs while pushing other colonial powers notably in Europe to scale back their influence on Africa?

Lawrence Freeman: The problem is the lack of a coherent policy for Africa from the United States. Africa should be independent but there are ways that a country like mine (USA) could help which China is doing to a great extent. We can provide long term loans with credit for infrastructural development; to assist and collaborate with African countries and not to dictate and tell them what to do. This is a big omission on the current administration and the previous.

Pan African Visions: The USA opposed the election of Dr Akinwumi Adesina for a second term as AfDB President despite his huge accomplishments and unanimous support from African countries and other international partners, and most recently the candidature of Okonjo Iweala at the helm of the WTO was also opposed, can you put some context on these controversial options from the USA?

Lawrence Freeman: For the case of Iweala it was clear that the Trump administration was supporting another candidate – this hurt the African nations as they wanted to have someone of prestige in that position. The question of the African Development Bank I do not understand that. I believe President Trump was giving some false information about President Adesina and somehow his people in the administration acted on this in a way to try and undermine the President of the AfDB. The AfDB has its procedures for investigating internal fraud or mishandling of funds and that should have been left alone for the AfDB to handle and they did and cleared him (Adesina) of any wrongdoings. I am not sure why or who gave President Trump this false information, but it was something that did not help build a strong relationship between the United States and Africa.

Tapped to serve as UN Ambassador,Linda Thomas Greenfield could introduce some positive policies for Africa that are useful, says Freeman

Tapped to serve as UN Ambassador,Linda Thomas Greenfield could introduce some positive policies for Africa that are useful, says Freeman

Pan African Visions: What kind of changes do you anticipate seeing on US-African relations in the Biden-Harris Administration?

Lawrence Freeman: Unfortunately, the group of people for the most part that President-elect Biden has been bringing out to the public represent long-term establishment figures, people who were in the Obama administration, and people from the Clinton administration which is going back some 20 years. These are people who do not have a vision for the development of Africa the way I do, and the leader of the United States should do. The interesting possibility lies with his pick for the UN Envoy Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. She will not be in the state department where policies are made but she will be a member of the cabinet as UN Ambassador. She from contacts I have on the continent is viewed as a reasonable, thoughtful, even-handed representative in terms of dealing with problems in Africa and some of my friends in Africa think highly of her.

Because of her background as Ambassador to Liberia, working as secretary of State for Africa under President Obama, she has a background in Africa which very few people on the cabinet-level bring in. I do not know if she will be, but she could be a type of person that introduces some positive policies for Africa that are useful. The main problem we have now is that Africa needs development, specifically infrastructural development; electricity, roads, hospitals and this is where the United States could play a major role. Unfortunately, under several administrations and more emphatically under the Trump administration, they define the Africa policy not as simply for Africa but as countering China. They saw Africa as playing the game between the US and China and they used Africa as the chessboard rather than developing our positive policy.

China has done many good things for Africa such as their investment in infrastructure, rail and energy and I would like to see the United States do more, and for the United States to allow other nations like Russia and India to put their investment in infrastructure in Africa. I do not think that is going to happen during the Biden administration, but I am hopeful some positive steps will happen even though I don’t think Africa is going to be top on Biden’s list. It has not been on any President’s agenda.

Pan African Visions: If you were advising the administration what would be some of the priority areas that you see prospects of engagement with Africa?

Lawrence Freeman: We have a list of very important infrastructural projects in Africa that the United States should be involved in. for example, a project I have been working for over 20 years called Trans Aqua and it is a great water project to bring water to build a canal (2400km) into the Central African Republic and which will lead to the filing up of Lake Chad. Lake Chad is drying up and it is 90 per cent from where it was in 1960. More importantly by building this canal it will increase trade and development to all the countries around the Great Lakes; Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and the countries around Lake Chad which are without water such as Nigeria; Cameroon, Niger and Chad. We are working with the Italian government to initiate a feasibility study on Trans Aqua. The United States has had no role to play and has not even supported the project. This is a great project. These kinds of projects will transform the continent, and this is where economic powers like the US, China and other nations could contribute to providing long term low-interest credit because infrastructural projects take many years to complete. Nuclear energy is another area where I think the United States can contribute because the electricity deficit on the continent is so huge. I think most politicians think very narrowly – they think about tomorrow and I think about 40 years ahead.

My thinking is better – you have to think 20 to 40 years ahead to plan policies. The United States like other European leaders have no vision of a future 20 years to advance. This is very unfortunate, and the Biden administration is bringing the same old people who did not have a vision when they were in government 10 or 20 years ago and I do not think they are going to have one now. If they are smart, they will make me their economic adviser and maybe I can win them over to some of these long-term plans that we are developing.

Pan African Visions: For many Africans and African countries that look up to the USA as a model for the kind of democracy worth emulating, what message or lessons could be drawn from the recent US election?

Lawrence Freeman: The main thing is that the United States has a great constitution written by some brilliant founding fathers. In that constitution, they take care of all concerns concerning elections. The idea of having electorates is correct; all the procedures outlined in the US Constitution are working. The basis of the US constitution is the preamble and not all the separate by-laws. No matter what goes on there are rules set, dates set, the electors have to be certified, read to congress and the constitution works. We have not had any coup, but we have had several Presidents assassinated but we survived that. My recommendation to African Presidents is for them to study the constitution of the United States and all the documents involved. We are not going to have a civil war, we will not have riots, and we will move on to the next government – whether that government has any good ideas that is another question. A government will continue in the United States.

Pan African Visions: On the conflict in Ethiopia, you described it as a war won to preserve the nation-state, and seem to support the position of President Abiy who opted for force and not dialogue, can you shed more light on your arguments?

Lawrence Freeman: I have studied the Ethiopian constitution and the history of Ethiopia for several years. The main problem is that ethnicity became the basis of the constitution – they wanted to comprise with the various ethnic groups, and they set ethnic regional states. This caused a problem because it did not establish an Ethiopian identity with the same problem existing in Nigeria. The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) was the leading group that carried out the coup. They maintain power not only in the Tigrayan region but all over the entire country. PM Abiy set up the Prosperity Party which was not based on any ethnicity and the TPLF rejected that and made different moves to undermine the government. From my standpoint, it was a necessary action to preserve the nation. If that action was not taken Ethiopia would have ceased to be a leading nation in Africa.

Pan African Visions: Coming less than a year or so after he bagged the Nobel Peace Prize, is the world right in faulting Prime Minister Abiy for not doing more to explore a peaceful resolution or opening up to third-party mediation?

Lawrence Freeman: The situation in Tigray is that there was an attempt to set up negotiations, there was a dialogue going on. The problem is that the TPLF violated national law and the government declared they could not carry out their election in May due to the COVID-19 crisis and set it forth for next year. The TPLF went ahead and had elections and they took military actions. At that point, I think the PM did what he could do giving the conditions that existed in Ethiopia where you had this ethnonationalism which does not respect the centralize power that existed in Addis Ababa that represented the nation.

Pan African Visions: The conflict comes at a time when Ethiopia was grappling with a crisis over the Nile, what do you make of the insistence of Ethiopia to proceed with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?

Lawrence Freeman: First of all, the Grand Renaissance Dam is 75 per cent complete and nothing is going to stop its completion. This is a matter of national identity for the people and they have funded the Dam by themselves. The Dam is on the Blue Nile which comes down from Lake Tana which is inside the sovereign state of Ethiopia. The Egyptians have a legitimate  right to request that they not be without  water. What needs to be looked is that Egypt is not deprived of necessary water. But the Egyptians are using the legacy of the colonial period that nobody can disrupt the Nile unless they approve it.

The 1929 Water Agreement on the distribution of the Nile allocation was Sudan gets ¼ of the Water and Egypt gets ¾. In 1959 when both Sudan and Egypt were independent there was another agreement and this time between Sudan and Egypt. Again, Ethiopia was not allocated water from the Nile and was told not to build a dam on the Nile without Egyptian approval. Ethiopia is an emerging nation and has very bold economic programmes. The biggest problem in Africa is the lack of electrical power. Agreements on the water can be worked out and it should be worked out.

Pan African Visions: You were in Cote d’Ivoire for the elections and surprisingly spoke favourably about the controversial polls, what is it you saw that influenced the optimistic outlook that you painted of developments in that country?

Lawrence Freeman: This was my first visit to Cote d’Ivoire. Most of my visits have been to Nigeria. I did not know the significance of the Port in Abidjan which is the largest port in West Africa and has a railroad that goes into Burkina Faso and Mali. This has a lot of economic potentials and I also realized that the government of Cote d’Ivoire under President Ouattara has had good progress on the development of its infrastructure and economy, reducing poverty, increasing access to electricity and clean water. I met with some officials and attended some lectures which indicate to me that the country is moving forward.

As an observer in the election, I could see what was going on and I found that the population was very orderly. It was a hot day and hundreds of people were standing in line, no fighting, carrying out their affairs in a good manner. Even though there was a controversy around Ouattara going again for a new term it is legitimate under the new constitution which was supported by the people in 2016. It is something I believe he did not want to do – he had indicated that he will resign but the chosen candidate died unexpectedly. This is almost the same situation in the United States where you had several Presidential candidates that were in their 70s and you had many members of the congress and senate who are septuagenarians who seemed to dominate politics in many parts of the world. I believe there is a new commitment to the new government for economic empowerment and I am optimistic about that.

The people who opposed the election could not provide a viable alternative. They just attacked the government and called for a boycott which they got no vote. After the election was concluded on October 31, they declared themselves a new transition government. In 2010 3,000 people in Cote d’Ivoire  were killed because President Gbagbo would not leave the palace. Now in 2020 to have a group of people declare that they are the government it was uncalled for. I believe there is a lot that must be done but they are getting there.

Pan African Visions: Your position kind of mirrored that of the US Ambassador who said the US supported the sovereignty of Cote d’Ivoire in the elections which many considered as controversial, and in countries like Tanzania the US picks issues with the elections, does this selective criticism or biased critique based on interests not hurt healthy relations between the USA and Africa?

Lawrence Freeman: There are mixed signals, that I have no question about. The Ambassador in Cote d’Ivoire before the election said this election belongs to the people of Cote d’Ivoire and their institutions. And when the opposition tried to meet with the Ambassador (Richard Bell) after the election he did not meet with them. The Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at the State Department supported the sovereignty of Cote d’Ivoire. That was very strong support for Cote d’Ivoire, and I was pleased to see it. In other areas that does not exist, and the mix signals is coming even in the same country. Like in Ethiopia you have President Trump who is criticizing Ethiopia for building the Dam and making provocative statements and then when PM Abiy intervenes in the Tigray Region Tibor Nagy of the state department came out in support of the Ethiopian government.

The problem is that there is not a coherent conception coming from the United States on what Africa needs. There is a loud discussion on “democracy”, but they do not understand democracy. It is not about how regularly you have elections but the ability of the citizens to discuss and debate important and profound ideas about the future of the country. In the United States we do not have that – everybody talks in 20 to 30sec sound bites, but real democracy like we had during our founding fathers, for that to take place in Africa everybody needs to have a minimum standard of living. Without economic development, real democracy cannot exist. Without a clear idea of what our policy for Africa should lead us to, we give mix signals.

Africa needs development, specifically infrastructural development; electricity, roads, hospitals and the US could play a major role, says Lawrence

Africa needs development, specifically infrastructural development; electricity, roads, hospitals and the US could play a major role, says Lawrence

Pan African Visions: The crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon have been raging for some four years with the US and the rest of the international more or less indifferent, may we know the US position on the situation in Cameroon from your understanding?

Lawrence Freeman: The problem of Cameroon is indicative of what we have done to Africa. It is a result of the dividing of Africa. A united Cameroon never existed up to this point and because the French and British divided a legitimate nation is similar to the ethnicity we see in Kenya and other parts of Nigeria. What started in 2016 with the demonstrations, protests and strikes with separatist movements that have come in. I do not believe in dividing nations. I was opposed to the division of Sudan to two nations. I do not want to see Cameroon divided up. What has to be is that there has to be recognition of one Cameroon which may be difficult under Paul Biya who has been in power for almost 4 decades, this is going to be a problem. What we should do is put forward an idea, a one Cameroon that has to be built under the conception of an economic mission for the country.

Let us establish a goal of where Cameroon should be in 5 or 20 years from now and make that mission a goal that unites all the people in the country and that everyone benefits from the economic benefits. That is the way I know how to unite the people. The prejudice won’t go away in the model, but they have the capability of going away in time as people see interest in working together. The interest of myself lies in the interest of another and that is a challenging path. I think the United States has eliminated Cameroon from the AGOA process, but sanctions are not going to do it. They do not work that well and you have to put something positive in its place. I will make a great economic mission for the country and unite everyone together and establish a Cameroonian identity, not a French-controlled identity.

Pan African Visions: We end with the last word on how you see 2021 playing out for Africa, what are your hopes and fears?

Lawrence Freeman: If you look at the problems we have now if we do not implement certain measures today, we are going to have problems 10 or 20 years from now. If you have an approximate population of two and a half billion and approximately one billion may be young people; if those young people do not have jobs, see their nation as providing for them then you can have very nasty operations and demonstrations, regime changes on the continent. On the other hand, we have all these very bright people, if we implement policies today that will bring about the kind of economic growth that is needed then you will not have an increase in alienation, anarchy and protests.

I would like to see the United States join with China and probably Russia to help Africa. They have to unite and assist Africa and not tell them what  to do, and not seize anything. I estimate that Africa needs at least a thousand gigawatts of power to give people access to electricity. These things are primary. If we can begin in 2021 with a robust commitment to developing, then I think Africa will have a very interesting and beautiful future. If we do not, then we could be facing more serious challenges over the years ahead. I am approaching 70 years and I am going to put everything I have to make those things happen. If more people in the United States, Europe, and Africa will work with me on that then I think we can make some improvements that will benefit billions of people that are not only living today but those who will be born in the future. And that is my goal and commitments.

Pan African Visions: Thanks for answering our questions.

Lawrence Freeman: Thank you for giving me this opportunity and I appreciate all the work you do.

For more information on Lawrence Freeman and his work visit his blog here

*Interview also features in  December Issue of PAV Magazine  

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Enough is enough! Somalia cuts diplomatic ties with Kenya
December 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Minister of Information Osman Abubakar Dubbe blames Kenya for interfering with her politics and sowing seeds of confusion

Minister of Information Osman Abubakar Dubbe blames Kenya for interfering with her politics and sowing seeds of confusion

Somalia On Tuesday morning, cut its diplomatic ties with her neighbour Kenya.

Announcing in a televised speech, the country’s Minister of Information Osman Abubakar Dubbe defended the step they have taken, accusing Kenya of interfering with her internal affairs and violating her territorial integrity.

Somalia has summoned back its diplomats in Nairobi and gave Kenyan diplomats in Mogadishu an ultimatum of 7 days to leave.

Dubbe blamed Kenya for interfering with her politics and always has an intention to create problems in the country.

”Somalia wants all its diplomats to go back to Mogadishu, and Kenyan diplomats have seven days to leave the country,” said Osman Dubbe.

Somalia’s Ministry of Home Affairs had recalled its ambassador to Kenya Mohamed Ahmed Nuur Tarzan and expelled Kenya’s envoy in Mogadishu Lucas Tumbe.  The Ministry accused Kenya of heaping much political pressure on Jubaland’s regional leadership for her political and economic gains.

“The government took this decision while preserving its national sovereignty after it appeared that Kenya was deliberately interfering in the affairs of Somalia, particularly Jubbaland,” read the statement issued by the Somalia government.

“The Somali government expresses its regret in the government of Kenya’s overt and blatant interferences in the internal and political affairs of the Federal Republic of Somalia which has the potential to be a hindrance to the stability, security and development of the entire region.”

Meanwhile, Kenya has rebuffed the allegations referring to them as false and unproven.

“It is incumbent upon all political actors in Somalia to stay true to their political commitments and avoid distracting actions, but rather engage constructively to ensure timely implementation of the election calendar which will mark another critical phase in the post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Somalia,” Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

This move comes just a few hours before Somaliland President Muse Bihi concludes his 3-day visit in Nairobi. Bihi held bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday and agreed on several issues.

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The Gambia announces plans to launch national ‘NO MORE’ campaign against domestic violence
December 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

 

 

The Gambia has announced plans to launch a national ‘NO MORE’ campaign against domestic and sexual violence.

Fatou Kinteh, Gambian Minister for Women’s Affairs, Children and Social Welfare, joined the Commonwealth Secretary-General in Banjul when she made her commitment on Human Rights Day.

When launched next year, ‘The Gambia Says NO MORE’ campaign will aim to tackle domestic and sexual violence, while creating long-term prevention measures to eliminate abuse.

The Gambian national chapter will be part of the global ‘Commonwealth Says NO MORE’ movement and will support national efforts to achieve the sustainable development goal for gender equality.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, who is currently in The Gambia on an official visit, said:

“With the pandemic triggering an alarming rise in cases of domestic and sexual violence, the announcement signifies The Gambia’s strong commitment to ending this scourge.

“The abuse, far too often, is hidden and is regarded as a private matter, trapping victims in shame and persuading bystanders to turn a blind eye.

“So it is critical to put the spotlight on this hidden pandemic to send a clear message to victims that help is available while engaging everyone in the society to play their role in addressing domestic and sexual violence.”

She said the campaign would be of vital importance to every Gambian, particularly more than 60 per cent of the citizens under the age of 30.

The Secretary-General continued: “We need to make sure their future is not like our past. Together with Minister Kinteh, we are saying NO MORE violence because if we do not have peace in our homes, we will never have peace in the world.”

In The Gambia, around one in three women experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime, similar to the global prevalence rate. The abuse remains largely unreported due to impunity, silence, stigma and fear.

Minister Kinteh said: “Ending gender-based violence is everyone’s business. The Gambia is a patriarchal society. We want to make sure all efforts are being made to sensitise every citizen on the human rights of women.

“The Gambia is joining the Commonwealth in saying NO MORE to gender-based violence. Early next year, we will bring together partners and communities to launch ‘The Gambia Says NO MORE’ campaign.”

Addressing Gambian women through media, she said: “You must no longer suffer in silence. You can get help. Voice your complaint and seek support – respectfully and confidentially.”

The Minister highlighted that her government has embarked on a raft of initiatives to protect women and girls, including a new Domestic Violence Act, a national helpline and gender-sensitive support services.

NO MORE Global Executive Director Pamela Zaballa said: “The NO MORE Foundation is excited to support the development of ‘The Gambia Says NO MORE’ and to be part of their commitment to ending violence against women and girls.

“We are assured that the partnership supported by the Secretary-General and Minister Fatou Kinteh will develop into a strong and resilient chapter.

“We look forward to working in partnership and ending violence against women and girls in The Gambia.”

Moving forward, The Secretariat and NO MORE Foundation will work together with the Ministry to develop and deliver the campaign.

*Commonwealth

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Commonwealth observers start work as Ghana goes to the polls
December 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

Ghanaians will vote in the presidential and parliamentary election due to be held on 7 December.

The Commonwealth Observer Group (COG), whose members are drawn from various Commonwealth countries with backgrounds ranging from political, electoral, civil society and human rights as well as legal fields, was invited by the Ghana Electoral Commission to observe the poll.

Former President of the East African Court of Justice,  Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, is heading the group of observers.  The team started to arrive in Accra on 3 December and will be deployed to polling stations to observe pre-poll preparations, voting day and the results processes. 

The group has already received briefings from the electoral commission, political parties, police, and civil societies.

In a statement, Chair of the COG Dr Ugirashebuja said: “We recognise the significance of these elections to the people of Ghana and appreciate the challenges they come with as the world battles the Coronavirus pandemic. These elections are also the first the Commonwealth Secretariat has sent an observer group to since the pandemic began.”

“We are here to observe the electoral process and will act impartially and independently as we scrutinise its organisation and conduct.  We will seek to assess the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post-election period.

“We will then take a view as to whether it has been conducted to the international and regional standards to which Ghana has committed itself, including the country’s own laws.”

The COG will issue an Interim Statement of its preliminary findings on 9 December. A final report will be submitted to the Secretary-General and made available to the public afterwards.

The Commonwealth Observer Group members are:

  • Chairperson – Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, Former President of the East African Court, Rwanda
  • Musa Mwenye, SC, Former Attorney General, Zambia 
  • Baroness Denise Patricia Kingsmill, Member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom
  • Marcella Samba-Sesay, Chairperson National Election Watch (New), Sierra Leone
  • Hon Martha Karua, Former Minister of Justice, Kenya

*Commonwealth

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African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina inducted Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.
December 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

Remarks of Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, at the 2020 Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) Fellowship Investiture

Saturday December 5, 2020

Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

Your Excellency, Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, Mr. Ernest Ebi, Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Bayo Olugbemi, FCIB, the President and Chairman of the Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Mr. Seye Awojobi, FCIB, the Registrar of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Elebute, Guest Speaker, Members of Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Honorees, Investees, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

Good afternoon to you all. What a great event, so extremely well organized. That’s the Nigerian gold standard!

It’s such a great honor to be here today, virtually, along with all my co-awardees, to be decorated with the emblems of admission and recognition as Honorary Fellows of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

I would like on behalf of all the awardees to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation to the President and Chairman of Council, Mr. Bayo Olugbemi, the Registrar and Chief Executive, Mr. ‘Seye Awojobi and the entire members of the Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, for this great recognition and honor you have bestowed on us. 

It is such a memorable occasion to be recognized as Honorary Fellows by such an eminent and revered institution, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

I am very proud of each of my co-Honorees for your many years of leadership and distinguished contributions to the banking profession.

No one should ever work to be recognized. But when efforts and contributions are recognized, it inspires one to continue to work even harder.

Honorary awards are deposits of trust. They come with great responsibility. Responsibility to be exemplary, to work selflessly, and to be role models in the profession and for the society.

Today, as we are being honored, consider us as “security-backed assets”. Our integrity is our honor, and our honor is our security. 

We wish to express to the Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria our commitment to carry these awards with dignity, integrity and honor.

Leadership from each one of us is needed in these challenging times of the coronavirus pandemic.

So many lives have been lost. Economies have been devastated. Africa’s economic growth this year will decline by 3.4%. Globally, economies have gone into recession, as global trade, financial flows, investments, tourism and global supply chains have been disrupted. Millions of jobs have been lost. Consumer demand and business investments have declined. With huge fiscal stimulus packages, interest rates are at all-time lows.

These are tough times for Bankers.

Yet, we must be bold, resilient and weather the storm.

The African Development Bank launched a $10 billion crisis response facility to provide immediate liquidity for countries to meet urgent financing needs.

The Bank also launched a $3 billion fight COVID19 social bond on global capital markets, the largest US dollar denominated social bond ever in world history, which is now listed on the London Stock Exchange, Luxembourg stock exchange and on Nasdaq.

I am delighted that despite the very challenging times, the African Development Bank maintained its triple-A ratings, with stable outlook, by all major global credit rating agencies, Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

The African Development Bank has maintained its stellar triple-A ratings for five years in a row since I was first elected President in 2015.

The African Development Bank also achieved an increase in its capital from $93 billion to $208 billion, the largest ever capital increase in the history of the Bank since its establishment in 1964.

The African Development Bank therefore stands ready to strongly support African countries, financial institutions and the private sector to accelerate Africa’s economic growth.

Times like this need audacious leadership.

Leadership that is able to navigate complexities and restore hope and confidence, to grow back, safer, healthier and with greater resilience.

That is the kind of leadership I see among the Honorary Fellows and Awardees and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

Now, let us arise and collectively support Nigeria to recover and build back, stronger, better, with greater economic resilience. Let’s join hands and deliver greater prosperity and hope for Nigeria.  

For Nigeria to be at its best, it deserves the best from all of us.

As Honorary Fellows, we promise to continue to be beacons of hope, carrying with dignity the green and gold emblems of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

I wish to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Christmas ahead and a prosperous and healthier New Year 2021.

Stay safe, stay well and stay healthy.

Once again, thank you very much. God bless you all.

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Don’t Underestimate the Power of Natural Gas to Transform Africa
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk

 NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber

The continent’s gas industry is on the verge of real transformation, as the African Energy Chamber (AEC) notes in our 2021 Africa Energy Outlook.

Africa has already made an indelible mark in the oil industry. It is home to four of the world’s top 20 crude oil producers — Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, and Libya — and these same four countries also have some of the largest oil reserves in the world.

So far, it hasn’t made quite as much of a splash in the gas industry. The only African countries on the list of the world’s top 20 gas producers are Algeria and Nigeria, and one of the states that has the largest gas reserves is Mozambique, which is still several years away from bringing its major fields on line.

But the gap between African oil and gas doesn’t have to be permanent. The continent’s gas industry is on the verge of real transformation, as the African Energy Chamber (AEC) notes in our 2021 Africa Energy Outlook, released earlier this month. I’d like to describe what forms that shift might take — and explain how the changes would benefit Africans.

New Sources of Production

Some of the change I expect is going to happen in the upstream sector — that is, in the realm of exploration and production.

First, the continent’s current leading producers are likely to produce more. North African states such as Egypt and Algeria will account for part of this increase, as they are looking to ramp up development at existing natural gas fields. But another part of it will stem from programs designed to reduce the flaring of associated gas found in oil fields. Both Nigeria and Angola, for example, have plans to expand the use of associated gas. The former aims to deliver its production to the domestic market, while the latter is looking to split its production between the local market and the export-oriented Angola LNG project.

The upshot of these trends is that the list of Africa’s top gas producers will probably remain static until the middle of the decade. As the AEC’s outlook explains: “The (continent’s) top five crude oil producers — Nigeria and Angola from the west, and Algeria, Egypt, and Libya from North Africa — complete the top five natural gas producers for 2020 and 2021. These five countries contribute about 90% of the overall natural gas output from the continent for both (2020 and 2021), and the expected forecast suggests the share of these countries will remain the same going into the mid-2020s.”

At that point, though, new producers will start to play a more prominent role. Mozambique is due to launch its first greenfield project at Area 1 in 2024, and its offshore zone may become a major source of natural gas by 2025-2026. The Mauritania-Senegal offshore zone may follow a similar timeline, as the Greater Tortue/Ahmeyim blocks may begin yielding natural gas in 2023, followed later by the Yakaar-Teranga and BirAllah projects. What’s more, all four of the projects mentioned in this paragraph will support gas liquefaction plants capable of producing and exporting LNG.

By the end of the decade, then, there will be more than five countries accounting for the bulk of Africa’s total gas production. Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Egypt, and Libya will be joined by at least three others —Mozambique, Mauritania, and Senegal.

Domestic Consumption vs. Exports

Meanwhile, consumption patterns are going to shift along with production patterns. Once again, this shift is likely to begin once the large new fields in the Mozambique and Mauritania/Senegal provinces come online.

The change may not be obvious on a macro level, because it won’t be evident in the split between exports and domestic consumption. That is, Africa will continue to use about 70% of the gas it extracts and will export continue to the remaining 30%. As the AEC’s outlook explains, though, the geography of African gas exports will not remain static.

“The pattern has been relatively stable since 2012 with about 70% serving local markets, 20% exported to Europe and 10% exported to Asia,” the report states. “The mid-2020s LNG startups are also expected to distort this picture by increasing the market share for East Asia LNG exports. This development is, however, not (a consequence) of local markets’ (rising demand), but rather the shrinking ability of North African countries to maintain their export capacity to Europe on the back of strong domestic demand growth. By 2030, the expectation is effectively for East Asia and Europe to be inverted, while domestic market share remains constant.”

In short, Africa is on track to produce more gas by the end of the decade but will keep the same share of the total for its own use. At the same time, Asia will replace Europe as the most important market for African gas exports.

Gas Means Jobs

These trends are interesting, but you may want to ask: What do they mean for ordinary Africans, for people who are less concerned with production data and trade balances than with questions about how to support their families?

They mean a great deal.

As I’ve mentioned, the 2021 Africa Energy Outlook report projects that African gas production is going to rise, especially after new fields come on line and ramp up development in the middle of the decade. It also anticipates that African gas consumption will rise, even if domestic consumption continues to absorb a full 70% of total production.

As production goes up, upstream operators will create jobs. They will need people to help them build, operate, maintain, and repair production, transportation, and processing facilities. They will also need people to administer their local operations. Additionally, they will need to meet legal requirements or contractual commitments for local content, so they will need to hire African contractors. Those African contractors, in turn, will need employees of all kinds, and so will hire African workers.

And as consumption goes up, even more jobs will be created. Distributors will need new pipelines to deliver the gas to end-users, so they will need people who can help them build, operate, maintain, repair, and administer those pipelines, along with associated infrastructure facilities such as storage depots. And even in the absence of pipelines, they will need to acquire tankers and containers so that they can bring gas to customers by road, rail, or river. Accordingly, they will need people to procure, operate, maintain, repair, and administer these operations.

Meanwhile, there’s more. The hiring of more African workers is sure to have knock-on effects. If, for example, employees of upstream operators need a way to get to a remote worksite, local transportation companies may be able to serve them. If so, those transportation companies may have to hire more people to drive their vehicles. Likewise, if African construction firms need to procure extra building materials to uphold their contracts with upstream operators, local suppliers may be able to meet their needs. And if so, those local suppliers may have to hire more people to handle their inventory.

In other words, as Africa’s gas industry grows, it has the potential to create thousands and thousands of jobs! Of course, some of them, such as construction jobs, will be temporary. Some of them will be more permanent, though, especially if the governments of gas-producing states work with upstream operators to develop local hiring and training standards that expand the capacity of the local workforce.

All the Way Down the Value Chain

But the knock-on effect doesn’t have to stop there.

In my most recent book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, I urged African oil and gas producers to look as far down the value chain as they could. I advised them to pursue projects that treated hydrocarbons not just as exportable raw materials but as inputs for value-added operations such as fertilizer or petrochemical manufacturing. I also suggested that they look for ways to focus on gas-to-power projects with the intent of improving domestic electricity supplies — and not just because new power grids would benefit African businesses.

It is true, of course, that some African businesses will be able to create more jobs if they do not have to worry about blackouts. Likewise, it is true that gas-to-power projects will create jobs of their own in areas such as construction, operations, maintenance, and administration. But it is also true that African households need and deserve access to reliable energy supplies, regardless of employment levels — and that gas-to-power plans can help them!

I’m hardly the only person to reach this conclusion. When I wrote Billions at Play, several African countries had already rolled out ambitious gas-to-power schemes. Nigeria, for example, was in the process of implementing a program that promoted associated gas as fuel for new power plants. Since then, others have followed suit. For instance, as the AEC’s energy outlook notes, Senegal has unveiled plans for using its future gas production to generate electricity for the domestic market. Mozambique already has a couple of gas-to-power projects in the works, too.

But it shouldn’t stop there. I’d like to see more gas producers do this as they ramp up gas production in the second half of the decade. If they do, they will have accomplished something beyond merely increasing output levels. They will have taken concrete action to strengthen their economies and benefit their own citizens. And in so doing, they will have made their mark on the world!

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber. NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.
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Afreximbank signs Establishment Agreement for the Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA), alongside Headquarters Agreement with Rwanda
November 25, 2020 | 0 Comments
Afreximbank President Prof. Benedict Oramah (left) and His Excellency Alfred Kalisa, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda in Egypt after signing the Headquarters Agreement for FEDA.

Cairo, 24 November 2020: – African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Republic of Rwanda, on 22 November 2020, in Cairo, signed key documents related to the establishment of the Fund for Export-Development in Africa (FEDA), a development-oriented subsidiary of Afreximbank.

The Establishment Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding were signed by His Excellency Alfred Kalisa, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda in Egypt, and Afreximbank’s President, Professor Benedict Oramah in the presence of His Excellency Mahamadou Labarang, Dean of the African Ambassadors in Cairo and FEDA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Philip Kamau. The Establishment Agreement creates FEDA while the Headquarters Agreement provides that the Republic of Rwanda will host the headquarters office.

FEDA has been established by Afreximbank to facilitate foreign direct investment flows into Africa’s trade and export sectors and to fill the equity funding gap that amounts to $110 billion per annum in exports related sectors.

His Excellency Alfred Kalisa, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda in Cairo, said:

“The Government of Rwanda is happy to have signed these key agreements with Afreximbank. Rwanda is glad to host FEDA as we work together to achieve the dreams of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACfTA) on the continent. We will work together to ensure that FEDA is successful in driving and achieving its mandate.’’

FEDA aims to provide equity financing to companies operating in key industries and sectors to significantly increase the likelihood of success in delivering on Afreximbank’s development priorities and meeting the Bank’s strategic goals  under the main pillars of the intra-African Trade Strategy and the Industrialisation and Export Development Strategy.

Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said:

“FEDA is a new vehicle created to deal with the perennial problem of capital constraints to private sector development and industrialisation in Africa. Afreximbank has already committed over 350 million US dollars to the Fund, including commitments for operation of a Credit Fund, investments in the Bank’s strategic initiatives and those to be deployed under limited partnership frameworks.

I would like to thank H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and his Government for embracing the strategic essence of this institution to both Rwanda and Africa. To have agreed to host FEDA without any equivocation is a clear and bold statement of visionary leadership and recognition of the economic value of Pan-African institutions.”

FEDA is tasked to provide capital to companies in the financial services, technology consumer and retail goods, tourism, manufacturing, transport, logistics and warehousing, trade enabling infrastructure e.g. industrial parks, agribusiness and education sectors in Afreximbank’s member states. FEDA will invest across all market segments but with greater focus on SMEs which has substantial funding shortages and represent about 90% of businesses in Africa. It will also invest in mature companies and start-up businesses where there is a gap in the marketplace and where investments have a high level of value additionality and development impact in Africa.

About Afreximbank: The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution with the mandate of financing and promoting intra-and extra-African trade. Afreximbank was established in October 1993 and owned by African governments, the African Development Bank and other African multilateral financial institutions as well as African and non-African public and private investors. The Bank was established under two constitutive documents, an Agreement signed by member states, which confers on the Bank the status of an international organization, and a Charter signed by all Shareholders, which governs its corporate structure and operations. Afreximbank deploys innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that are supporting the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby sustaining economic expansion in Africa. At the end of 2019, the Bank’s total assets and guarantees stood at USD$15.5 billion and its shareholders funds amounted to US$2.8 billion. Voted “African Bank of the Year” in 2019, the Bank disbursed more than US$38 billion between 2016 and 2020. Afreximbank has ratings assigned by GCR (international scale) (A-), Moody’s (Baa1) and Fitch (BBB-). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.

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African Countries must develop Strategic Fiscal Policies to Survive Oil and Gas Industry Changes on Horizon
November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk

The African Energy Chamber has said since it was founded that African countries with petroleum reserves must adopt competitive fiscal regimes to promote thriving oil and gas operations.

The future of the global oil and gas industry has been a subject of great fascination and debate for decades. Since COVID-19 surfaced, there has been even more conjecture on this topic and, in particular, the most likely timing for “peak oil,” when crude production reaches its maximum rate before going into permanent decline.

Predictions run the gamut: OPEC’s latest World Oil Outlook, for example, forecasts increasing oil demand for two more decades. But the International Energy Agency stated in its 2020 World Energy Outlook report that demand for oil probably will plateau after 2030. And the 2020 energy outlook from BP states that the world has already passed peak oil and predicts even greater drops in demand as countries comply with carbon dioxide abatement measures.

While no one can pinpoint exactly how the energy industry will evolve, or when major changes will unfold, it makes sense to assume that decreased demand will occur at some point — and to prepare for the new era that follows.

In the case of African countries with oil and gas reserves, those preparations should include a close look at their fiscal regimes: the systems they have in place to determine how extractives revenues are shared among companies and the government. These could include royalty requirements (money paid to governments for the right to extract and sell their resources), taxes, production-sharing agreements (which determine how extracted resources are split between governments and oil companies), bonuses, and similar mechanisms. The key is to develop fiscal regimes that ensure fair treatment for the state without burdening companies with unreasonable obligations on top of their project risks, local content requirements, and the expenses associated with exploration and production such as rig and labor costs. Unless we give local and international companies a fair chance to profit, production activity will decline.

As our recently released 2021 Energy Outlook notes, “African nations with petroleum resources will most likely have to adapt their fiscal regimes similar to how other nations have adapted them in light of the new era with more supply and less demand. Failing to do so can lead to stranded resources and outcompeted resources.”

The African Energy Chamber has said since it was founded that African countries with petroleum reserves must adopt competitive fiscal regimes to promote thriving oil and gas operations. In the COVID-19 era and the years that follow, a wise approach to fiscal regimes will be even more important. Without them, indigenous companies will struggle to launch new projects, and international oil companies (IOCs) will choose other, less financially onerous locations for their upstream activities. If that happens, African countries miss out on invaluable opportunities to harness oil and gas to grow and diversify their economies, to minimize energy poverty, and to create a better future for Africans. That’s why countries that haven’t fine-tuned their fiscal regimes must start now. They have plenty of strong examples to look to.

Angola Continues to Show How It’s Done

In my recent book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, I praised Angola President João Lourenço for implementing transformative policies, including Angola’s new Natural Gas Regulatory Framework — Angola’s first law regulating natural gas exploration, production, monetization, and commercialization — and the creation of an independent regulator, the National Agency for Petroleum, Gas, and Biofuels, to manage Angola’s oil and gas concessions. By encouraging more efficient and transparent governance, Lourenço made his country a more appealing choice for oil and gas exploration. This year, Angola continued to demonstrate wisdom in its response to pandemic-related lockdowns, oil price drops triggered by dramatically diminished demand, and OPEC+ production cut requirements implemented last spring to stabilize the market. Angola’s National Bank implemented new fiscal policy measures that included extending credit and renegotiating debt payments to help oil and gas companies boost their liquidity.

Angola, which relies heavily on oil revenue, is still feeling the negative effects of the pandemic: The government declared a state of emergency, decided to free 30% of its goods and services budget, and suspended capital expenditures (CAPEX). However, the government’s fiscal measures have appeared to ease major oil and gas project cancellations in Angola. What’s more, these efforts to give companies a fair chance to operate profitably in Angola, most likely, will contribute to a healthy oil and gas industry for years to come.

We can learn from fiscal policies implemented before the pandemic, too.

Impossible n’est pas Camerounais. Cameroon’s Tax Holiday Is a Wise Move

When the Cameroon Senate approved updates to the country’s 1999 Petroleum Code in 2019, it positioned the nation for resiliency and long-term success. The new upstream legislation included a tax holiday for oil and condensate project development and seven more years for natural gas project development. The legislation also allows production sharing contracts (PSCs) to be modified so companies can recoup exploration expenses.

The chamber commends Cameroon for these measures. In fact, the chamber recommended tax holidays in 2020, after Cameroon updated its code, to help African countries prevent oil and gas project cancellations in the COVID-19 era. Tax holidays allow oil and gas companies to control revenue reductions, improve liquidity, and prevent job losses. Tax policies like these could play an important role in keeping African petroleum-producing countries competitive when demand for oil and gas begins to decrease.

The humanitarian, political crisis and violence in the English-speaking Anglophone region with vast oil and gas reserves has increased reputational risks for oil and gas exploration in Cameroon. A fact that has made foreign oil and gas companies nervous when it comes to taking advantage of the improved fiscal frameworks.

The government’s involvement in what is being perceived internationally as one of the worst refugee crisis and its inability to end the overall political impasse creates a more bearish view of the country’s resource potential. The ongoing political uncertainty, Covid 19, regulatory uncertainty from BEAC and low oil prices have thrown a curveball on potential FID’s for many planned oil and gas production projects at a time when Cameroonian officials are seriously exploring options on how to increase oil and gas output, revenues for the state and revive an ailing economy. Massive potential, great hope and super returns, if they get it right, as they saying goes Impossible n’est pas Camerounais.

Gabon Has Positioned Itself for Success

Gabon has taken proactive measures as well to encourage ongoing oil and gas production activity. The country’s 2019 hydrocarbon code, a modification of Gabon’s 2014 law, was written with the express goal of encouraging more exploration and production activity there. There have been several tax requirement changes. For example, companies no longer are required to pay a separate corporation tax on top of the production share that goes to Gabon. And, instead of a “one-size-fits-all” hydrocarbon tax rate for petroleum products, rates will be at different, and lower, levels — and the hydrocarbon tax rates can be negotiated before PSCs are finalized.

Gabon has taken additional measures, as well, to increase investments by making it easier for companies to be profitable. They include:

  • PSC requirements have been modified with companies’ needs in mind. The state’s minimum stake in an exploration company, for example, has been cut in half.
  • Government royalties for shallow blocks have gone from 13% to 7%.
  • Royalties for deep-water production has gone from 9% to 5%
  • The state’s share of the profit has been reduced, too, from 55% to 45% for shallow blocks and from 50% to 40% for deep-water operations

The changes did not go unnoticed by oil and gas companies: By early 2020, Gabon had signed 12 PSCs with foreign countries. And while COVID-19 has stalled drilling activity, for now, Gabon has positioned itself to see activity, and even more investments, resume after the pandemic.

Remember What’s At Stake

Ideally, developing competitive fiscal regimes should be done in concert with other measures, such as fine-tuning local content laws and working to ensure greater government transparency — anything that can be done to make African countries more appealing choices for oil and gas companies.

I realize that African countries have their hands full between the pandemic, economic struggles, and the challenges that existed long before COVID-19 surfaced. But, one could argue that there never will be a perfect time to revamp oil and gas policies. This process is simply too important to put off. We must do what we can to fully capitalize on Africa’s oil and gas resources so African governments can start using revenue to encourage the creation and growth of other economic sectors. So there are more opportunities for IOCs to share knowledge with indigenous companies and play a role in African capacity building. And, vitally important, so natural gas produced in Africa can be utilized for more gas-to-power projects, which can play a huge role in bringing electricity to more African communities.

While we don’t know the specifics of what’s ahead for the world’s oil and gas industry, we are aware of steps we can take to help us benefit from it as long as possible. Now is the time to act on them.

*NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

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Terrorism: ZANU-PF says Zimbabwe can’t help Mozambique because of sanctions
November 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

A spokesman for Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party has claimed that the country is unable to help Mozambique fight the insurgency in Cabo Delgado province because of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States.

Patrick Chinamasa said that if the country were operating normally and without sanctions, then it would be a “clear case” for intervention, but this was not possible.

“[T]he sanctions have made us not intervene. We are then asking the United States president-elect Joe Biden to remove the sanctions which he co-authored, if he’s intelligent enough”, he told reporters.

Since 2017, the insurgency in Cabo Delgado province has increasingly taken lethal twists, with the extremists getting more brazen with each year. The situation has left 2,000 people dead, and another 400,000 displaced. Many are seeking safety in parts of Cabo Delgado and Nampula and Niassa provinces. Many districts continue to be inaccessible because they are occupied by armed groups or remain at high risk of being attacked.

Venezuela condemns the attacks

The Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, on behalf of the Venezuelan people, condemned the terrorist attacks perpetrated against the civilian population in Mozambique.

“Venezuela strongly condemns this type of action, while sending all its solidarity to the people and the government of President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi,” the Foreign Minister wrote on his official Twitter account.

Over 50 people had been beheaded last week on a football pitch in the village of Muatide, Muidumbe district. Schools, health centers, private houses and government infrastructures have also reportedly been targeted and destroyed.

Amir condoles with Mozambique leader

The Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and the Deputy Amir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani sent on Saturday cable of condolences to Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi on the victims of the armed attack that targeted several villages and a football stadium in northern Mozambique, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

In his cable, the Amir affirmed Qatar’s firm position rejecting violence and terrorism, regardless of the motives and reasons.

The Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani also sent a similar cable to Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho.

The insurgency in northern Mozambique is often likened to Al-Shabab, the Islamic militant group operating in Somalia. Since 2019, the Mozambican fighters claim allegiance to the terror organization “Islamic State” (ISIS). Experts believe most members come from Tanzania or northern Mozambique.

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Africa’s governance performance declines for the first time in a decade, finds 2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance
November 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

Mo Ibrahim
Mo Ibrahim

New data delivers a clear warning: governance progress in Africa has slowed since 2015, and declines for the first time in 2019. Deterioration in participation, rights, rule of law and security threatens improvements achieved in economic opportunities and human development. This is particularly concerning with the COVID-19 pandemic set to increase existing challenges and reduce hard-won gains

Click here to register for the media briefing at 12:00 GMT. The 2020 IIAG will be released at 12:30 GMT.

Dakar and London, Monday 16 November 2020 – The 2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), launched today by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, highlights a decline in African governance performance for the first time since 2010.

The first decline in governance performance since 2010

The 2019 African average score for Overall Governance falls by -0.2 points below that of 2018, registering the first year-on-year score deterioration since 2010. This recent decline is triggered by worsening performance in three of the four IIAG categories: Participation, Rights & InclusionSecurity & Rule of Law and Human Development.

In fact, progress had already been slowing down since 2015. Over 2015-2019, performance slackened in both Human Development and Foundations for Economic Opportunity, while deterioration continued in both Security & Rule of Law and Participation, Rights & Inclusion, even worsening for the latter.

However, over the decade, overall governance performance has slightly progressed, and in 2019, 61.2% of Africa’s population lives in a country where Overall Governance is better than in 2010.

The 2020 IIAG is the most comprehensive assessment of governance performance in 54 African countries. It tracks Africa’s trajectory across four main categories: Security & Rule of LawParticipation, Rights & InclusionFoundations for Economic Opportunity; and Human Development. The new IIAG incorporates three significant upgrades: an expanded governance scope, including new areas such as environment and equality; strengthened indicators, thanks to better data availability; and a new section fully dedicated to Africa’s Citizens’ Voices.

Over the last decade, governance dimensions have followed diverging paths

Progress achieved over the last decade has mainly been driven by improvements in economic opportunities and human development. Foundations for Economic Opportunity (+4.1) and Human Development (+3.0) have made good progress, primarily led by improvements in the sub-categories Infrastructure and Health, complemented by advances in Sustainable Environment.

This is threatened, however, by an increasingly precarious security situation and concerning erosion in rights as well as civic and democratic space. Over the last decade, both Participation, Rights & Inclusion (-1.4) and Security & Rule of Law (-0.7) have registered worrying declines.

Over the past decade, 20 countries, home to 41.9% of Africa’s population, while achieving progress in Human Development and Foundations for Economic Opportunity, have at the same time declined in both Security & Rule of Law and Participation, Rights & Inclusion.

Only eight countries manage to improve in all four categories over the decade: Angola, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Seychelles, Sudan and Togo.

COVID-19 heightens existing challenges and threatens economic progress

The 2020 IIAG provides a picture of the continent before it was hit by COVID-19. In terms of Participation, Rights & Inclusion, progress was slowing long before the pandemic, which only worsens the existing negative trajectory. Conversely, economic opportunity was set on a positive course of sustained progress, and the impact of COVID-19 is now threatening this hard-won achievement.

Africa’s citizens are increasingly dissatisfied with governance delivery in their countries

In 2019, new analysis of the Citizens’ Voices section in the IIAG reveals that Public Perception of Overall Governance registers the lowest score over the decade, with the pace of deterioration nearly doubling within the last five years.

A balanced approach to governance is key to progress, as well as improvements in rule of law, justice, inclusion and equality

The strongest correlations of Overall Governance performances are found with the sub-categories Rule of Law & Justice and Inclusion & Equality. The indicators showing the strongest relationships with high overall governance scores span all four IIAG categories, underlining the importance of a balanced approach to governance.

The growing imbalance between the various governance dimensions outlined above is likely to threaten overall governance performance.

Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, says:

“This is a testing time for Africa. Pre-existing weaknesses and challenges in African governance, as uncovered by the 2020 IIAG, are exacerbated by COVID-19, which also threatens economic progress. Citizens’ dissatisfaction and mistrust with governance delivery are growing. African states have an opportunity to demonstrate both their resolve to safeguard democracy and their ability to drive a new growth model that is more resilient, more equitable, more sustainable, and more self-reliant.”

About the 2020 IIAG and its new framework

  • The Mo Ibrahim Foundation defines governance as the provision of political, social, economic and environmental public goods and services that every citizen has the right to expect from their government, and that a government has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens.
  • Since 2007, the IIAG constitutes the most comprehensive data set measuring African governance.
  • Every two years the IIAG provides comparable data on the whole spectrum of African governance in 54 African countries over a period of ten years – the 2020 IIAG covers 2010-2019.
  • The IIAG dataset and online and Excel data portals provide scores and trends at country and continental level as well as for African geographical regions, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) or specific groups.
  • Over the ten years since the IIAG inception in 2007, the data and governance landscapes have both evolved immensely. To incorporate those changes, a thorough review of the IIAG has been conducted between 2018 and 2020, providing a completely re-worked framework for the 2020 IIAG, with three main changes.
  1. An expanded governance scope: The new IIAG takes into account the new governance landscape, linked to expanded 21st century citizens’ expectations. The 2020 IIAG now encompasses areas such as environment, digital rights, healthcare affordability or inequality measures in social protection.
  2. A strengthened and more balanced framework: While the IIAG has increased its coverage of topics and the number of variables composing the Index, the number of indicators has been reduced. The new IIAG is built on a more balanced structure, and 90% of its underlying indicators are clustered. This has led to a strengthening of the IIAG, providing a clearer, more complete, and more stable framework. ​The methodology used to calculate IIAG scores, initially built with the Kennedy School of Governance at Harvard University, is unchanged. Fully reviewed in search of better ways to calculate the IIAG, it has been confirmed as the best way to calculate a composite index like the IIAG.
  3. A new section dedicated to Africa’s Citizens’ Voices: This new section provides a comprehensive “reality check” to complement the IIAG results with citizens’ perceptions and satisfaction with public services.
  • The new IIAG dataset, the online and Excel data portals are freely available for access on our website. For the next two years, the Foundation will continue working on unpacking the findings of the IIAG across the full set of categories and sub-categories, as well as at country, regional and group levels.

About the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006 with a focus on the critical importance of political leadership and public governance in Africa. By providing tools to support progress in leadership and governance, the Foundation aims to promote meaningful change on the continent.

The Foundation, which is a non-grant making organisation, focusses on defining, assessing and enhancing governance and leadership in Africa through five main initiatives:

  • Ibrahim Index of African Governance
  • Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership
  • Ibrahim Governance Weekend
  • Ibrahim Fellowships and Scholarships
  • Now Generation Network

*Mo Ibrahim Foundation

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2 Years Later – Zimbabwean MP Erroneously Declared Winner Still in Parliament
November 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

MP for the Chegutu West constituency Dexter Nduna from ZANU ,PF
MP for the Chegutu West constituency Dexter Nduna from ZANU ,PF

Mistakes do happen from time to time. Some mistakes may be rectified easily without many consequences while others may have disastrous consequences even if they are rectified. In Zimbabwe, the body responsible for all national electoral activities made a huge error when it announced the wrong winner for a House of Assembly seat.

After the people had cast their votes in the 2018 harmonized election, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) undertook the process of compiling and tabulating all election results before announcing the winners. When it came to tabulating the results for the Chegutu West constituency parliamentary seats, the numbers showed that Gift Machoka Konjana of the MDC Alliance had won the elections. However, something bizarre happened (some would call it a mistake) as the ZEC on national television announced that the duly elected member of Parliament for the Chegutu West constituency was Dexter Nduna from ZANU (PF).

As ZEC had clearly displayed the numbers polled for both Konjana and Nduna but had somehow made an error in announcing the name of the rightful winner, many thought that it was just a matter of making another statement to the effect that an error had been made and the rightful winner was Gift Machoka Konjana instead of Dexter Nduna but alas, that was not the case.

As many would soon learn, such a mistake could not only be corrected by the word of mouth but had to be corrected by the Courts – this despite the fact that evidence of a false declaration was clear for all to see.

Having heard that the only route to have Dexter Nduna removed from Parliament as he was in actual effect an election loser, Konjana did approach the Electoral Court a few weeks after the erroneous declaration. Representing Konjana, Advocate Tererai Mafukidze argued that the Electoral Court had to move swiftly in correcting a clear and obvious mistake done by ZEC. Electoral Court judge Justice Mary Zimba-Dube ruled that Advocate Mafukidze’s petition against Nduna was fatally defective solely on account of being brought on notice.

With the petition dismissed by the Electoral Court, Advocate Mafukidze and Konjana took the matter up to the Supreme Court. At the Supreme Court, Advocate Mafukidze argued that Justice Zimba-Dube erred by declining to exercise discretion to condone non-compliance with its rules upon erroneously finding that the electoral law does not vest in it the competence to regulate its process yet section 171(9) of the Electoral Act vests such competence. Furthermore, Advocate Mafukidze stated that it was grave injustice that Justice Zimba-Dube did not consider the merits of the case even though ZEC acknowledged under oath the error of declaration. Essentially, Advocate Mafukidze asked the Supreme Court to set aside Justice Zimba-Dube’s earlier judgment and allow the petition to be heard on merit by a different judge.

The Supreme Court however is taking its time to make its judgment on the case and to this day, the man who was erroneously declared the winner of an election is still in Parliament and enjoying all the benefits that come with being a member of parliament.

The snail’s pace that the Supreme Court is moving with has not however disheartened or deterred Gift Konjana from working for the people who placed their confidence in him during the 2018 elections. In an interview with a local Zimbabwean news outlet, Gift Konjana had this to say, “My case is still before the courts in the Supreme Court. I will continue to fight as a matter of principle. The stakes are high, but still, I am determined. I pray that one day I will get justice…However, this is not in any way stopping me from executing my mandate as a people’s MP. I continue to be proactive in the constituency. I have a number of initiatives that I am carrying out. Am happy that am still connected with the grassroots.”

Speaking on ZEC’s error, the Election Resource Centre (ERC Africa) said “The case of the 2018 Parliamentary election results for Chegutu West reinforce the legal and institutional weaknesses associate with elections in Zimbabwe. Election laws need to be strengthened on how mistakes can be rectified and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission needs to set up administrative measures to resolve disputes.”

ERC Africa said the onus to have the error rectified did not just lie with the erred party that is, Gift Konjana but the whole constituency has a responsibility to demand their vote to be heard. The only way to do so is to petition the Courts to rectify the matter by overturning the decision made by ZEC. “The people of Chegutu must seek remedy to their tragedy through leading the demand for electoral reforms so that their vote is not compromised in the future. They must demand strong laws and strong institutions to make their future vote count. “     

*Culled from November Issue of Pan African Visions Magazine

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Kenya: Tuju rubbishes ICU reports
November 12, 2020 | 0 Comments
Hezekiah Walker – Faithful Is Our God

By Samuel Ouma

Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju has dismissed reports stating that he is admitted at a Nairobi hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Responding to a report that went viral on social media saying he is admitted at Karen Hospital, Tuju labeled the report fake.

Speaking to the Star, the Secretary-General revealed that the initial report had indicated that he was dead.

“They say in media business that all publicity is good. It keeps you in the minds of the people. I can live with that. If anyone asks you please tell them that since the initial reports were that I was in the mortuary, the ICU is definitely a great improvement and therefore I will soon be in the general ward,” Tuju said.

Tuju jokingly challenged those behind the false report to send him money if they were concerned about his health.

“If anyone wants to confirm that I am okay, let them send something on M-Pesa. I have a special sound for all M-Pesa messages of over Sh1,000 and they should expect a prompt thank you call or acknowledgement,” he said.

The former minister on February 12 was involved in a grisly accident on his way to the burial of the former president Daniel Moi.

After the accident, he was admitted to Karen for treatment but was later flown to the UK for specialized treatment.

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Zimbabwean President “deeply shocked” with surge of terrorists attacks in Mozambique
November 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that he is “deeply shocked” by recent reports of terrorist activity in Mozambique, where Up to 2,000 people have been killed and about 430,000 have been left homeless.

The number of incidents has dramatically escalated this year, forcing scores to abandon their homes. Communities are caught between heavy-handed government responses and attacks by insurgents, some of which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for.

Last week more than 50 people were beheaded in Cabo Delgado by militant Islamists. They turned a football pitch at Muidumb district into an execution ground, where they decapitated and chopped bodies.

Several people were also beheaded in Macomia district. The reports are the latest in a series of gruesome attacks that the militants have carried out in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province since 2017.

“I am deeply shocked by recent reports of terrorist activity in Mozambique,” Mnangagwa wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “These acts of barbarity must be stamped out wherever they are found”.

Observers say the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) should urgently assist Mozambique to stem the violent insurgency and bring relief to thousands of people in dire need.

“Zimbabwe is ready to assist in any way we can,” said Mnangagwa adding that “the security of our region is paramount in the protection of our people.”

Zimbabwe has a long history of involvement in neighbouring Mozambique. The guerrilla army affiliated to its ruling party used Mozambique as a base from which to launch attacks on then white-ruled Rhodesia in a 1970s liberation war. Zimbabwean troops intervened to quell a rebellion by militants affiliated to Mozambique’s opposition Renamo party in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Mozambican port of Beira is key for landlocked Zimbabwe’s imports.

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Southern Cameroons International Conference Starts Tomorrow
October 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

It’s finally here. The International Conference on the Armed Conflict in the Southern Cameroons starts tomorrow October 30th and we could not be more excited. 

If you have not yet registered, you should do so today as it promises to be an incredible event!

Though initially planned for March 2020, the COVID pandemic forced us to re-schedule and convert to a virtual event. Our planning team has been working very hard over the past few months to put together a virtual event that would allow significant deliberation and opportunities to interact with other conference delegates and observers. For example, our virtual Southern Cameroons Auditorium is designed such that you can engage with other participants throughout the conference.

Amongst those scheduled to speak during this 3-day Conference are H.E. Dr Amos Sawyer, Ambassador Herman Cohen, Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Pa Augustine Ndangam, Frontline leaders, Civil Society, German Parliamentarians and French Parliamentarians. International observers will be present including the United States Congress, diplomats, international non-governmental organizations and many more.

With the strong enthusiasm for this Conference we already have over 700 Delegates approved to participate in Working Groups. Through the various Working Groups, Delegates will assess, analyze and propose a path out of the conflict that addresses the root causes in a sustainable manner.

There has been a very strong grassroots involvement with ordinary citizens, those internally displaced and refugees participating in the process. 

We continue to accept 2-minute video statements from Southern Cameroonians with proposals on the way forward. Kindly record a 2-minute video using your cell phone and send to this WhatsApp number: +13126177280

We need to have all voices heard. If you will like to make a Floor Statement, signup here:

 
We look forward to engaging with you tomorrow. Sincerely, 
Denis Foretia, MD MPH MBA
Co-Chair, Steering Committee  

Judith Nwana, MBA MSc MCIPS
Co-Chair, Steering Committee

*Source Coalition For Dialogue and Negotiation
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Africa Shines at the 31st FAO Regional Conference for African Ministerial Session Hosted by President Mnangagwa
October 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

President Mnangagwa
President Mnangagwa

The 31st Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] -Regional Conference for Africa Ministerial session which kicked on in Harare hosted and done on a virtual platform and coordinated from Ghana Regional office working with head offices in Italy Rome.

It drew 80 Ministers and Deputy Ministers from 45 countries in the African Region. Also invited were Agriculture civil society organizations, private sector in Agriculture and members from observer countries. The Agricultural and Rural Transformation in Africa conference has the theme ..Promoting Inclusive Agri-Business and Regional Integration for attainment of Sustainable Development Goals …

President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed delegates on Tuesday 27 October this week urging African countries to rally behind Sustainable Agriculture and rural transformation in the region so as to promote development of Agro-based industries. He noted that Intra-Trade in Agriculture is the way-forward in addressing food production and productivity meant to address food security issues so as to end hunger and poverty.

‘’Agriculture and rural transformation in Africa must be a priority area of concern in terms of Agricultural and Economic development to end, hunger and poverty in Africa especially during this climate change era’’.

‘’ This is only possible through the promotion of inclusive Agriculture Business and Regional Integration for attainment of Sustainable Development Goals. Our main thrust is to push for effort in alleviating effects of climate change so as to win on Sustainable Development Goal 2 on Zero Hunger by 2030. Secondly to meet African Union targets on food security and nutrition. by 2025.’’

President Mnangagwa highlighted on the need for new mechanisms in the development of new Agricultural technologies that boost large scale Agricultural productivity. He further pointed out that digitalization of Africa in Agriculture is the only way to adapt to changes and adopt policies and strategies that propel the strengthening of Agricultural systems. Road and Air networks, he stretches a point are an infrastructure meant to connect rural to urban in-order to develop Agriculture for economic transformation.

‘’Africa has potential in Agriculture if it reinforces mechanisms that link technologies and digitalization of Agriculture of economic transformation. This is possible through regional integration in Agriculture and regional economic community’s co-operation. This results in Agri-based industrial growth and development of Africa.’’

FAO Director General Qu-Dongyu said Agriculture systems transformation must address socio-political, economic and environmental concerns at the heart of the people of Africa. The development must match with the Malabo Declaration on Agriculture that has a holistic framework of Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program.

‘’Agriculture systems transformation must address socio-political, economic and environmental concerns in Africa. This shows commitment to the Malabo Declaration on Agricultural Transformation with the framework of comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan.

‘’A frica remains a threat to Climate -Change of which we need to fight through mitigation and adaptation in order to remain sustainable. We have had challenges in Africa. These are a big threat as we move on but let us remain vigilant to some disasters that may come.’’

‘’Africa needs modalities to fight Climate-Change in order to over come several challenges related to food-security. This can be done through mobilization of resources to come up with innovation that suits an environment meant to promote Agriculture. Mechanisms must be in place to move towards an Agricultural modernization that has production and productivity for economic growth.’’ , he concluded .

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Insight Into Biden-Harris Agenda for African Diaspora
October 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

-From U.S. – Africa Policy to Immigration, Economy, Education and Healthcare, AD4Biden upbeat on dividends of historic partnership

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Biden will bring to the presidency decades of foreign policy experience and a demonstrated commitment to Africa, says the Biden-Harris agenda for Africa
Biden will bring to the presidency decades of foreign policy experience and a demonstrated commitment to Africa, says the Biden-Harris agenda for Africa

As the Democratic Party seeks to recapture the White House, one of the voting blocs that it is counting on is the African diaspora. The importance attached to the bloc is highlighted in the Biden -Harris Agenda for the African Diaspora, an ambitious policy statement on how some of the core issues of interest will be addressed.

“The African diaspora community is one of America’s most diverse communities, inclusive of people who speak multiple languages, come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and practice various faiths. While unique on some fronts, culturally, people of African descent also share similar values: supporting their families, creating opportunities for their communities, and contributing to America’s growth and prosperity. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris share these values and know that the next administration must understand what the current one does not: in America, no matter where you start in life or where your parents were born, there should be no barriers to your success and no limits to what you can achieve. As president and vice president, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will rebuild our country in a way that brings everyone along,” the policy statement reads in its introduction.

On U.S. – Africa Policy, the agenda states that, “Biden will bring to the presidency decades of foreign policy experience and a demonstrated commitment to Africa. He will renew the United States’ mutually respectful engagement toward Africa with a bold strategy that reaffirms our commitment to supporting democratic institutions on the continent; advancing lasting peace and security; promoting economic growth, trade, and investment; and supporting sustainable development.”

Going further, the platform says if elected, Biden will advance these objectives by:

Asserting America’s commitment to shared prosperity, peace and security, democracy, and governance as foundational principles of U.S.-Africa engagement. 

Restoring and reinvigorating diplomatic relations with African governments and regional institutions, including the African Union.

Ensuring the U.S. Government and U.S. Foreign Service reflect the rich composition of the American citizenry, including African diaspora professionals, and

Continuing the Young African Leaders Initiative and deepening America’s commitment to engage with Africa’s dynamic young leaders. 

From immigration, to the economy, healthcare and education, the Biden -Harris ticket also proposes a laundry list of things or reforms that could have significant impact on the African diaspora.

“Since the 1970s, the African immigrant population in the United States has roughly doubled every decade. Through employment and educational exchange programs, many African immigrant communities have flourished in the United States, building a new generation of highly educated and socially conscious Africans throughout our country. Representing nearly 2 million first-generation Americans, it is one of the fastest growing immigrant groups,” the Biden -Harris ticket notes.

 “As president, Biden will immediately do away with the Trump administration’s inhumane immigration policies,” The platform also expressly indicates commitment to :

-Preserving the longstanding principle of our immigration system to reunite families and enhance our diversity,

-Keeping families together by providing a roadmap to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, including Dreamers,

-Reversing the travel bans aimed at decreasing legal immigration to the U.S., including the Muslim travel ban which has severely impacted Nigerian, Sudanese, Somalian, and other diaspora communities, and

Restoring America’s historic commitment as a place of refuge for those fleeing war or persecution. 

Harping on education, the platform expresses cognizance of the fact that the African diaspora sees this as a gateway to employment and economic security. In addition to proposing a comprehensive plan to invest in children’s education from birth through 12th grade, as well as for educating and training Americans beyond high school, as President, Biden says he support educators by giving them the pay and respect they deserve. His campaign is also pledging to ensure that zip code, income, race and disability are not determining factors in the ability of children to access education. In what may be music to the ears of many, the democratic ticket is making a commitment to handle student loan debt, while supporting historic Black Colleges, Universities and Minority serving Institutions.

“Members of the African diaspora have bravely stood on the front lines fighting against COVID-19. Many are the doctors and nurses who have been treating the infected and compassionate nursing home staff who have been caring for the elderly,” the platform notes in acknowledgement of the important but often ignored role of the African diaspora in fighting the pandemic.

The Biden-Harris ticket says it will ensure front line workers receive appropriate personal protective equipment, get appropriate COVID-19 testing based on their risk of exposure. The campaign wants access to free COVID 19 testing, and the vaccine when one becomes available.

“The adoption of AD4Biden‘s policy recommendations is yet another affirmation of the Biden-Harris Campaign’s commitment to equity and inclusion of the African Diaspora communities into political process,” says Philomena Desmond, Co-chair of AD4Biden. Describing the move as unprecedented, Philomena Desmond said this is why our community will turn out in record numbers to vote for Biden-Harris and down-ballot Democratic tickets.”

According to Amb Micheal Battle, “Vice President Biden and Senator Harris have put the African Diaspora at the center of their African Agenda.”

Battle, a Theologian and former U.S Ambassador to the AU and ECA , goes further to say “they are committed to promoting peace and prosperity in Africa,  and more importantly to building a mutually beneficial partnership with African nations.” 

To Aisha Biro Diallo, who co-chairs both VA and Washington DC Women for Joe  Biden & Kamala  Harris and African Women for Biden -Harris , “we are united behind Joe Biden and Kamara Harris because of their integrity, compassion, unrivaled experience, leadership and commitment to supporting women issues and promoting democracy”

Pastor Ghandi Olaoye of Jesus House DC, who recently convened over 150 Pastors to deliberate on the upcoming elections, says that “in Vice President Biden, we see the type of leadership America needs in order to heal. Joe Biden has the quality to unite our communities, restore justice, equity and fairness to all. He will bring decency back to the presidency and truth to leadership”

With voting already underway for the elections officially scheduled for November 3, the Biden -Harris ticket is working hard to earn the vote of the African diaspora with outreach events on schedule for the remainder of the campaigns.

Though he may not have any specific policies towards Africa or its diaspora, a group of Congolese has cast their lot with President Trump. The group has so far not responded to media questions

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Cameroon: Coalition For Dialogue Announces Advisory Board Formation
October 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

Board of distinguished leaders to support the Steering Committee and provide guidance towards ending the escalating armed conflict in the Southern Cameroons

14th October 2020 – (London | Berlin | Washington D.C) – The Coalition for Dialogue and Negotiations today announced the launch of its newly formed strategic committee of trusted advisors. This Advisory Board includes well renowned leaders whose focus will be to shape and guide the strategy of the Coalition, working closely with the Steering Committee. 

The new Board includes Former Liberian President H.E Amos Sawyer, Former United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Herman J. Cohen; Former Resident Representative for Sierra Leone & Liberia of the African Development Bank Dr. Margaret Kilo; Former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia and Uganda Ambassador Deborah Malac; Senior Associate and Regional Director National Democratic Institute Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh; and Founders of Pave The Way Foundation Gary and Meredith Krupp.

“We are very honored to have such a distinguished team join us in actively seeking an end to the escalating armed conflict in the Southern Cameroons that addresses the root causes of the conflict” said Dr. Denis Foretia, Co-Chair of the Coalition for Dialogue and Negotiations. “We will continue to do all we can to stop the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the country.”

Brief biographies can be found below:

Professor Amos C. Sawyer

His Excellency Amos Sawyer
Former President of Liberia
 
Professor Amos C. Sawyer has worked tirelessly for peace and the establishment of democratic governance and development in his home country, Liberia, as well in several other African countries. He was Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission in Liberia bringing Liberia back to constitutional rule after the 1980 military coup and was Interim President of Liberia from 1990 to 1994 during Liberia’s civil war. He has served as Chairman, Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) of The African Union and has led several elections observation and peacebuilding missions on behalf of ECOWAS and the African Union. He is a distinguished scholar with an impressive record of publications and other academic achievements. 

Ambassador Cohen
Ambassador Herman J. Cohen 
Former United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
 
Ambassador Cohen is a retired career diplomat and specialist in African and European affairs. Cohen retired from the U.S. Department of State in 1993. His last position was assistant secretary of state for African affairs under President George H.W. Bush (1989-1993). During his 38-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service, he served in five African countries and twice in France. He was the ambassador to Senegal, with dual accreditation to the Gambia, from 1977 to 1980. During assignments in Washington, he also served as special assistant to President Ronald Reagan (1987-1989), principal deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and research, and principal deputy assistant secretary for personnel. 
Yaah Maggie Kilo 
Yaah Maggie Kilo (PhD) 
Former Resident Representative Sierra Leone & Liberia – African Development Bank
 
Yaah Maggie Kilo holds an MA in Sociology of Education from the London University Institute of Education, and a PhD in International Development Education from Stanford University School of Education. She served her country as an educator and a researcher for many years prior to joining the international development community. In 1998, she joined the services of the African Development Bank, where she has held several positions in both Country Operations and Policy Review. Between 2006 and 2008 she served as the Bank’s Resident Representative in Sierra Leone and was later appointed to head the newly established Fragile States Unit. In August 2011, she was transferred from Tunis, Tunisia to Monrovia, Liberia as Resident Representative of the African Development Bank in Liberia, a position which she held until her retirement in 2017. H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf awarded her Liberia’s highest non-national civilian medal: Dame Commander in the Most Venerable Order of Knighthood of the Pioneers of the Republic of Liberia 

Ambassador Deborah Malac 

Ambassador Deborah Malac 
Former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Uganda
Former Director of the Office of East African Affairs at the U.S. State Department 

 
Ambassador Deborah Malac spent over 38 years as a Career Member of the U.S. Foreign Service, representing the U.S. and advancing U.S. interests abroad. Most recently, Ambassador Malac served as Ambassador to Uganda (2016-2020). Prior to that posting, she was Ambassador to Liberia (2012-2015). Ambassador Malac began her career in Yaounde, Cameroon, and subsequently served overseas in South Africa, Thailand, Senegal and Ethiopia, as well as multiple assignments in the Department of State in Washington, DC, most focused on sub-Saharan Africa. Ambassador Malac retired from the Department of State in January 2020.

Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh

 Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh 
Senior Associate and Regional Director National Democratic Institute (NDI) Washington, DC 
 
Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh is the Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa programs at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. He has organized and advised international election observation missions in various African countries. He has also designed and supervised country specific democracy support programs with civic organizations, political parties and legislative bodies across Africa. He designed and helped launch the African Statesmen Initiative (ASI), a program aimed at facilitating political transitions in Africa by encouraging former democratic heads of state to engage in humanitarian, mediation, election monitoring and other democratic consolidation activities. Dr. Fomunyoh makes frequent guest appearances on major radio and television networks. He has published several articles in academic journals on African politics and democratization. He holds a Licence en Droit from Yaoundé University in Cameroon, a master’s degree (LL.M.) in international law from Harvard Law School; and a Ph.D. in political science from Boston University. He is a former adjunct faculty of African politics and government, at Georgetown University, and at the African Center for Strategic Studies. He is also the founder of a nonprofit organization that supports democracy and humanitarian causes in Cameroon

Gary and Meredith Krupp

Gary and Meredith Krupp 
Founders of Pave The Way Foundation 
 
Gary and Meredith Krupp are the Founders of Pave The Way Foundation (PTWF) – a not-for-profit organization founded in 2002 to initiate cultural, educational and technological exchanges between religions, facilitating gestures of goodwill. PTWF identifies non-theological obstacles in the diplomatic and political arena, unraveling and eliminating the barriers of disinformation that serve to stoke distrust between religions. Working quietly behind the scenes, PTWF talks to people who will not talk to each other, consequently, PTWF is the most effective organization in the world “that no one has ever heard of”. Mr. Krupp is the highest- ranking Jewish person in the Catholic Church. Gary Krupp was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II, only the seventh Jew to be so honored. 

*Source Coalition For Dialogue and Negotiations

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African countries should structure post covid plans around the AfCFTA – Former Liberian Minister B. Elias Shoniyin
October 13, 2020 | 3 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The more we can invest in our people, the more the future of Africa will be assured, says Shoniyin
The more we can invest in our people, the more the future of Africa will be assured, says Shoniyin

It is important that African countries be encouraged to formulate their post-COVID recovery plans around the opportunity of African Continental Free Trade Agreement-AfCFTA, says B Elias Shoniyin, a professional in international affairs, development and policy.

Shoniyin, a Liberian national who occupied key government positions in the administrations of Sirleaf Johnson, and George Weah, says the AfCFTA will embolden African countries to invest more in areas of comparative advantage, where they have maximum potentials.

Discussing the African response to COVID 19 with Pan African Visions-PAV, Shoniyin lauded the prompt response across the continent despite well-known limitations. In Liberia, while the experience acquired in previous battles with the Ebola virus continues to be useful, he urged the government of President George Weah to seek and bring in more expertise.

On the future, Shoniyin urges African governments to invest more in its people.

“I believe the most valuable asset of Africa is its people. Natural resources underground are not what make a people great; the capacity of the people to harness those resources makes them great. Our foremost challenge in Africa today is the limited capacity of our people. The more we can invest in our people, the more Africa’s future will be assured,” says Shoniyin.

Thanks for accepting to grant us this interview, we start with COVID 19, how is the situation like in Liberia?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Clearly, COVID 19 is global and every country on the earth has been affected – be it, by the extent of the virus infection rate or the deteriorating economic condition resulting from the pandemic. Liberia, bringing to bear its experience with the Ebola outbreak in 2014 to 2015, quickly built on and redeployed the health measures to protect our communities. As of now, we have officially recorded 1,321 COVID 19 cases, 1196 recovery and 82 death.

What do you make of the way the government of President George Weah has handled the pandemic in Liberia?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Noting the limited capacity of the George Weah Government, they are continuing to make efforts. Clearly, a lot more is required to fully address the pandemic; therefore, the Government is encouraged to seek and bring on board more professional expertise available in Liberia.

The outbreak of COVID 19 comes a few years after the outbreak of Ebola, are there any useful lessons from the Ebola episode that have been useful or could be better put to use in providing a better response to COVID 19 in your country?

B. Elias Shoniyin: There are many similarities between how Ebola and COVID 19 are transmitted. The obvious differences are COVID is a lot more contagious but less deadly than Ebola. As soon as the first known COVID 19 case was reported in Liberia, the dormant structures established during the Ebola outbreak were immediately reactivated. Strict social and public health measures were taken, including mass awareness, isolation of infected persons, and effective contact tracing. Many Liberians were skeptical of the government of Liberia’s initial handling of the virus, prompting fears of its prevalence. However, we are happy that society’s awareness drawn from the Ebola experience has contributed hugely to constraining social behavior resulting to the low number of COVID cases.

Liberia is now enduring a difficult period with all the economic and social indicators in the reverse ,says Shoniyin who served in two administrations
Liberia is now enduring a difficult period with all the economic and social indicators in the reverse ,says Shoniyin who served in two administrations

As someone who follows developments across Africa closely, what appraisal do you make of how African countries have fared in the fight against COVID 19, what are some of the positives and negatives that you see in some of the responses?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Generally, the response of many African countries to the pandemic was prompt. We are aware of our limitations in available financial and human resources, and the weaknesses in our health care systems; therefore, the most sensible reaction was what we did; that is, prevention. Measures to prevent the spread of the virus was the first and most emphasized course of action by many countries.

The President of Madagascar has touted a remedy called Covid Organics as an antidote to COVID-19, while the WHO has been skeptical about it, many Africans and African leaders have embraced it, where do you stand on initiatives like those of President Rajoelina which seek to make Africa part of the solution ?

B. Elias Shoniyin: I believe in the promise of Africa. Finding African solutions to problems that affect Africa should be supported by all Africans, but not blindly and on sentimental basis. while lauding the efforts of Madagascar to find an African solution to the covid crisis in Africa, I think it became unnecessarily political. when it comes to matters of medical concerns, it should be dealt with scientifically. there was no evidence or scientific data to confirm the potency/efficacy of the Covid organics, but many Africans went ahead to celebrate its discovery. I thought that was too early. As I said earlier, I laud Madagascar for the bold efforts. They should not be discouraged. Africa will continue trying to improve and evidentially confirm our discoveries.

In follow up to that , there has a passionate debate about the issues of vaccines for COVID 19 with people fearful that Africans will be used as “guinea pigs,” what is your take on this, what are some of the pros and cons that governments should consider before making a decision concerning vaccines?

B. Elias Shoniyin: I know Africans are haunted by a history of distrust, imperialism, and exploitation, in our engagement with the West. These are legacies of past relationship with the West that have remained the main cause of the modern-day suspicion by Africans. Despite the legitimacy of the suspicion, I see opportunities. The sad reality is Africa has not yet developed the competitive advantage for high-level scientific capacity and facilities to drive medical research to solve most of the World’s problems. Even though we do contribute in a modest way to solving some of these problems, the West remains dominant in scientific research, and thus, most of the medical discoveries are derived from Western countries. I think we should put our scientists and medical researchers to work to confirm the composition and safety of the COVID vaccines, and do not simply reject them, leaving more than a billion persons to face the Corona Virus threat on their own.

Let’s talk more about the Ministerial functions that you, occupied, how did you find yourself in government at such a relatively young age and what was the experience like working under President Sirleaf Johnson?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Prior to my public service life, I worked in the nonprofit sector for many years, starting at the young age of eighteen. In 2005 I encountered Ellen Johnson and was profoundly inspired by her advocacy, courage, and professional accomplishments. Later, that same year, I joined her campaign for the presidency of Liberia, developing campaign strategies and training modules for mobilizers. Following her election and subsequent inauguration as the first female President of Liberia – Africa, I was appointed at the Foreign Ministry as Assistant Minister for International Cooperation and Economic Affairs. That portfolio launched my international affairs and diplomatic profession, which has now spanned almost fourteen years. I have felt very lucky and blessed for the opportunity not only to serve with President Sirleaf, but also with other extraordinary personalities with long and distinguished professi0nal tenures, including Ambassador George w. Wallace, who was the Foreign Minister then; Ambassador Carlton Carpeh, Amb. T. Ernest Eastman (Fmr. Foreign Minister), Amb. William V.S. Bull, Olubanke King-Akerele (Fmr. Foreign Minister), Dr. Toga Mcintosh (Fmr. Foreign Minister), Amb. Sylvester Grigsby, and many others.

My time at the Foreign Ministry, working in the shadow of President Ellen Johnson, at a critical time of post-conflict recovery, state-building, and reconstruction of Liberia, profoundly shaped my world view and my development perspective. For President Sirleaf, preparing the generation after her for both government and corporate leadership was a key feature of her Administration. She was always intentional for seeking young talents and preparing them for national service.  I learned a lot from her, both ethically and professionally. No doubt, she is a towering figure.

B Elias Shoniyin is urging African countries to anchor their post COVID 19 recovery plans around the AfCFTA
B Elias Shoniyin is urging African countries to anchor their post COVID 19 recovery plans around the AfCFTA

After the departure of President Johnson, you served under President Weah as well before resigning, first what was the difference in vision for Liberia for both leaders, and what prompted you to resign?

B. Elias Shoniyin: I do recall in 2006, President Sirleaf inherited an entirely broken country, after fourteen years of devastating civil wars. She assumed leadership of Liberia with a clear vision of what was required to ignite transformative recovery. She had her eyes fixed on her goal of setting Liberia on an irreversible course to development. In this effort, she was prepared to make arduous decisions, even if it meant, working contrary to her Party’s expectations. In her twelve years, two terms leadership, emphasis was placed on Human capacity, building strong and sustainable institutions,

I relish the opportunity to have been called upon by President George Weah to serve with him immediately following his election, affording me the distinguished honor of serving in two successive administrations in post-conflict Liberia. I believe he has had good intentions for Liberia, but his limited professional experience may have held him hostage to delivering on his promise to the people of Liberia. He is trying to take some practical steps towards achieving key objectives, but it has been an uphill battle, with the strong partisan centered government he currently has going. Unfortunately, many of the key operatives of his party (Congress for Democratic Change) lack the requisite education, experience, and technical competence required to adequately get the job done. He has found himself caught between the difficult options of recruiting competences outside of his Party to get the job done, and running a government of tragical incompetence, but fiercely loyal partisans who spent most of their working hours attacking his critics on social media but performing decimally in their government duties.

My resignation as Deputy Foreign Minister of Liberia, in May 2020 was prompted by consistent policy and value incompatibilities. I served my country with dedication and respect for nearly fourteen years and I thought it was time to move on, and I did.

May we know some of the significant challenges that you faced while in government, and in terms of significant accomplishments, what are some that come to mind?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Like many other countries in Africa, public service in Liberia is truly difficult. Not by the responsibilities of the office, but more of navigating the deeply personally driven political space.  There were many challenges encountered in the course of my public service, including professional, ethical, and several attempts to blackmail me. Example of some of the most significant professional and technical challenges were the low human capacity mainly at the low and middle levels in government institutions due to the politicization of the system. Dominantly, most of those who entered or sought government appointments were motivated by the personal acquisition of public wealth and for unfair advantage over others. There were almost at all time, personal interest involved when getting tasks done. These self-interested actions slowed momentum, killed morale, and stymied productivity, making it difficult to derive the maximum results from the government’s actions. Despite these challenges, the inspiration, courage, and out of the box thinking ,President Sirleaf spurred, emboldened me and many others on her team to put in an average of fourteen hours a day in achieving the objectives of the post-conflict recovery programs. When we assumed office in 2006, the depth of the quagmire before us was scary – there was nothing that did not require fixing – the entire socioeconomic fabric of society was in shambles; from pipe bourn water to infrastructure (roads, ports, energy , education system, health system, massive unemployment, democratic structures, mindset, and a lot more. Looking back, I am proud of what we together achieved as a country. There is still a lot to be done in Liberia’s development drive; however, when one looks at from where we come, the new do appreciate where we are.

There are many who believe that besides handing over power after twelve years, there was very little that the government of President Sirleaf Johnson did to better the lot of Liberians, on hindsight, do you believe that there was more or room for that administration that you were part of to do more?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Criticism that President Sirleaf did not do much in her twelve-year tenure to bring about development in Liberia is unfair and latently motivated. President Sirleaf’ inherited a country severely battered by fourteen years of fratricide violence. Sirleaf’s administration did remarkably well with restoring Liberia to its prewar status. Considering the extent of the challenges she inherited, and where she left the country at the time of her turnover, I hail her for great work. A few examples of her Presidential accomplishment are as follows: She inherited a budget of 83M in 2006 and left almost US$600M; she inherited a reserve of US$6.5M and left US$154.8M; she successfully negotiated and secured cancellation of more than US$4.9B external debt; she inherited an unpaid wage bill of 36 months to civil servants, and cleared it all in five years, raised salaries by more than 2500 percent; she inherited an energy generation capacity of Zero megawatt and we left 126MW excluding electricity in some rural communities from the West African Power Pool (WAPP)  and the CLSG; she inherited a rundown airport and left a new Terminal and runway; she inherited dilapidated and/or limited roads, which she rehabilitated and constructed more than 800km of paved excluding the ongoing Karloken- Harper high way and the Gbarnga to Menikorma High way in Liberia; reconstruction and rehabilitation of many bridges including the Johnson Street and Waterside-Vai Town bridges; 2,103 public schools rehabilitated or constructed, furnished and staffed; five community colleges established in Grand Bassa, Bomi, Bong, Grand Gedeh, Lofa and Nimba Counties; construction of the Jackson F.Doe Hospital in Tapeta, Nimba County, and construction and rehabilitation of several hundreds clinic and hospitals including JFK Medical Center in Monrovia, and Phebe Hospital in Gbarnga, Bong County; and many more.

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement was the harbinger of great hope for the continent, did you share in that optimism and can you situate the importance of the AfCFTA in the post COVID recovery plans for Africa?

B. Elias Shoniyin: I am sure counted in the number of those optimistic of the promise of AfCFTA. AfCFTA will unlock the untapped potential of intra-Africa trade and compel African countries to increase cross-border connectivity to facilitate the movement of goods and services. AfCFTA will not only increase trade among states on the Continent; it will also attract significant FDI inflow, particularly market-seeking investors who would want to participate in the expanded market of more than 1.4 billion consumers. Once we begin to harness the opportunities of AfCFTA, the benefits of trading among African states will have a multiplier effects on promoting increased agriculture production and a lot of intermediate manufacturing by small underdeveloped states, to support largest industries on the Continent. I believe that trading among us will spur unprecedented prosperity in Africa. It is important that African countries be encouraged to formulate their post-COVID recovery plans around the opportunity of AfCFTA. AfCFTA will also embolden African countries to invest more in areas of comparative advantage, where they have maximum potentials.

We end with a word from you on the future of Liberia and Africa, what are your hopes and what are your fears?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Liberia is now enduring a difficult period. All the economic and social indicators are in the reverse, after an earlier twelve years of steady reforms and transformation. Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, the economy was already sliding; now it seems to be in acceleration downward. The future is no doubt uncertain!

I believe in the promise of Africa, but I am aware that there is a lot of work to be done, particularly in re-orientating the mindset on how we see public service and developing the spirit of entrepreneurship. We will need to invest hugely in human capacity and infrastructure and build strong and sustainable institutions that are beyond the narrow aspirations of a few individuals. There are some countries on the Continent that are progressing very well along these lines and we are all proud of them.

I disagree every time I hear people inferring that Africa is rich – suggesting that the minerals or gems, and natural resources underground are supposed to make us rich without any efforts. I believe, the most valuable asset of Africa is its people. Natural resources underground are not what make a people great; the capacity of the people to harness those resources makes them great. Our foremost challenge in Africa today is the limited capacity of our people. The more we can invest in our people, the more Africa’s future will be assured.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to share my perspectives on my country and our Continent, Africa.

*Culled from October Issue of PAV Magazine

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EU Ambassador Lajos-EU Will Continue To Support Gambia’s Transition– Ambassador
October 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

President Adama Barrow received the outgoing European Union Ambassador to The Gambia, His Excellency Attila Lajos at the State House in Banjul on 12th October 2020.

Having spent almost five years as the EU delegate resident in the country, he was at the State House to bid farewell to the Gambian President.

Talking to the media, the Ambassador said “The Gambia’s transition ran a long way,” adding “it was remarkable that The Gambia has decided on a democratic change that the EU wanted to support since the beginning.”

He, however, stated that “transition is difficult as it is anywhere in the world but The Gambia stays on the path of democratic transformation.”

Ambassador Lajos pledged that the European Union will support the country to complete its transition as a reliable partner.

At the bilateral level, Ambassador Lajos described the relationship between the EU and The Gambia as “intense with two Presidential meetings annually,” enforcing the relationship since the 2016 Presidential elections.

During the meeting, President Barrow expressed appreciation of the support the European Union has provided to the country and its National Development Plan.

It could be recalled that the EU was amongst the first partners who committed to support the country immediately President Barrow came to Office.   It led the Donors Conference in Brussels in 2018 and provided the government with Budget support, infrastructure development, the Security Sector Reforms and most notably, the Youth Enterprise Project- YEP, which benefits many young people.

*State House Gambia

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Zimbabwean diplomat, Hilda Suka-Mafudze appointed AU Ambassador to US
October 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Ambassador Hilda Suka-Mafudze.Photo Twitter

ZIMBABWE’s Ambassador to Malawi, Hilda Suka-Mafudze, has been appointed the African Union (AU) Ambassador to the United States. She replaces Arikana Chihombori-Quao who was relieved off her duties last November.

The former member of parliament who was appointed Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Malawi in 2019 by President Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to take up her duties as the AU representative in Washington DC.

Speaking to Zimbabwe mail, the newly appointed Ambassador said she will use the opportunity accorded to her to spotlight and better represent her continent Africa.

“I am humbled and appreciative to be able to represent my continent in the US…I am a true pan-Africanist and I know what we really need as Africa and where we want to be as Africans, all this is in my heart and on my fingertips,” she is quoted to have said before adding.

 “What we want as Africa is to be on the global stage as an equal with others. We have what it takes, and no one must, therefore, look down upon us. As Africa, we are at a stage where we know what we want and we obviously cannot, for example, continue to let our resources be taken as raw materials by people who by so doing are taking employment away from us.”

Quizzed on her vision for the continent, the career diplomat who also served as ambassador to Sudan said “I will contribute towards the AU vision on the intra-Africa trade and I will be alert to the need to entrench relations with the US. Let us not overlook the need for relations if we are to be competitive on the global space but that does not mean our inability to effectively manage what we have.”

Ambassador Hilda Suka-Mafudze

“I represent the African Union, my chairman (Moussa Faki Mahamat) but I must also say I am humbled by the support I got from my country, Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and his entire team.”

Promising to campaign for AU’s agenda 2063 which includes the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, Ambassador Hilda Suka-Mafudze expressed her readiness to work towards attainment of the AU vision for a better Africa.

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Historic Juba peace deal signals ‘new era of peace, new beginning in Sudan
October 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and Chadian President Idriss Deby (front, from L to R) hold aloft the peace deal in Juba, South Sudan, Oct. 3, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

Juba – Sudan’s transitional government and several rebel groups, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) have signed a historic peace agreement in neighbouring South Sudan raising fresh hope for a new beginning.

The Juba peace deal aimed at ending the country’s decades of protracted conflicts that have uprooted millions and killed hundreds of thousands people in the country’s restive Darfur region, Southern Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains.

In a cloudy weather, thousands crowd gathered at Dr. John Garang De Mabior Mausoleum, with a lot of jubilations,  to witnessed the signing ceremony that includes agreement on protocols for security, land ownership, transitional justice, power-sharing and the return of refugees.

The deal also provides for the integration of rebel forces into the Sudan armed forces, to form a unified national army whose mandate would only be to protect the people of Sudan.

Gen. Abdel Fattah Al -Burhan inked a peace deal on behalf of the Sudanese transitional government.

The factions led by Abdel Wahid, along with the SPLM-North led by Abdel Aziz Adam al-Hillu, have not signed the latest peace agreement.

The guarantors are South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, the President of Chad Marshall Idriss Dibbi, and the United Arab Emirates.

However, the War in Darfur is a major conflict that began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel groups began fighting the government of Sudan, which they accused of oppressing Darfur’s non-Arab population.

While, conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile erupted in 2011, as South Sudan seceded from Sudan, following unresolved issues from bitter fighting there in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war.

Several peace initiatives including some spearheaded by the Arabs, with its most notable being the Doha Peace Agreement, have failed with both sides blaming each other for lacking will to fully implement that agreement.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, South Sudan president Salva Kiir said he is equally delighted that he has pulled off the achievement despite huge challenges facing his own country.

“Our mediation of the Sudanese conflict is primarily driven by our view of a stability in the Sudan as our own stability and by our lived experiences that have influenced us to reject violence or logic of force in disputes resolution,” said Kiir – we also see our mediation as repayment of a huge debt of gratitude we owe the Sudan for the role it played and continues to play as a member of IGAD and as a guarantor of our peace agreement.”

President Kiir also admitted that it is not going to be an easy business, especially with the economic reality facing Sudan presently to implement the deal, adding that it need really support.

“We have no illusions that the implementation of Sudan agreement that we are celebrating today will not be an easy business especially with the economic reality facing the Sudan presently, Sudan needs significance financial resources to rebuild the infrastructures destroyed by the war and floods and more importantly, to address its glaring development disparities which have always been at the root cause of its conflict,” said president Kiir. With this in mind, I therefore take this opportunity to appeal to the international community in general and Gulf Arab states in particular to make good on their pledges to support the implementation of peace agreement in Sudan.”

President Kiir has reminded Sudanese rival parties that their work is not yet done – this is not a time to relax – the tasks of peace building is still a big challenge.

For the peace to durable, comprehensive and inclusive, president Kiir said his country need to redouble its efforts to bring those opposition groups that remain outside the peace frame work.

“We also urge our Sudanese brothers and sisters to recognize that this breakthrough is the result of their own desire for peace and determination to achieve it,” said Kiir.

On the other hand, Abdel – Fattah Al – Burhan, head of the Sudan Sovereign Council, said the peace was another step in the right direction for Sudan.

“The Sudanese people are in dire need of peace to overcome the social, economic and political effects of the war. Peace is right for all the parties and for the future of the Sudanese people – we are determined not to take this country back to the times of war; we should all be on the path of peace,” said Burhan.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the peace deal would open new horizons for development, progress and security.

“The people of Sudan have been waiting patiently for freedom – Sudan now had freedom and justice and we need to carry this freedom into the future,” said Hamdok.

Meanwhile, the regional heads of states, have also pledged their unwavering support to the Sudanese peace deal, described it as an act of ‘Pan Africanism.’

Ethiopian president, Sahle – Work Zewde said the Sudanese peace deal affirms the African Union slogan of ‘African Solution’ for ‘African problem.’

“Sudanese have once again demonstrated their legendary wisdom and ability in resolving their differences among themselves peaceful through dialogue,” said Zewede. “Peace in the Sudan will have a huge impact, not only for the Sudanese but for the entire region and indeed, the continent. It is a significant peace deal for our region – for peace in the Sudan is a peace in the neighborhood and beyond,” she added.

Somalia president Mohamed Abdullai Farmaajo said effective implementation of Juba peace deal has the prospect to bring lasting peace, stability and hope to Sudan and better future for the region.

“The effective implementation of Juba peace agreement has real potential to bring lasting peace, stability and hope for Sudan – with the end to hostility in Sudan – the silence of guns in this region will also mean a better future for our entire region and by extension, the whole world,” said Farmaajo.

Ugandan prime minister, Ruhakana Rugunda said his country upholds Pan Africanism as key principals to African peace and security and to economic transformation.

“The signing of the Sudanese peace agreement is a positive development, in the plan of the transitional government to bring an end to the devastating conflict in Sudan,” said Rugunda, adding that Uganda to the ongoing efforts to have Sudan removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism in order to unlock the country’s potential through improved investments and productions which will boost Sudan economy for wellbeing of the Sudanese people,” said Rugunda.

Both the United Nations and the Troika countries has welcomed the Juba peace deal signed by the Sudanese transitional government and armed movements presents a new era of peace for Sudan.

“The signing of the Juba peace agreement signals the dawn of a new era for the people of Sudan,” said Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General in a video message during the signing ceremony on Saturday. “It is a milestone on the road to achieving sustainable peace and inclusive development.”

The UN chief also commended the role played by South Sudan to mediate the peace process despite enormous challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Guterres further called on the two holdout groups to join the peace process.

“Now it is critical that this agreement translates into tangible improvement in people’s lives. As we look ahead, we know that achieving an inclusive comprehensive and countrywide peace requires having all parties at the table,” Guterres said. “I call on the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement north-on Abdulaziz al-Hilu to fully engage in negotiations, embracing the opportunity presented by the recent signing of principles alongside Prime Minister Hamdok in Addis Ababa. I also call on the Sudan Liberation Army of Abdul Wahi al-Nur to immediately join the peace process,” he added.

Guterres further noted that ensuring successful implementation of the deal will require “sustained commitment and collaboration of all parties”.

Alhadi Idris, head of Sudanese Revolutionary Front said the deal will enable refugees and internally displaced persons to return their homes.

“We will end wars in Sudan and that would mean regional and international peace and I would like to inform the Sudanese women and youth that this peace is for all of you – it is the beginning of a new life in Sudan,” said Idris. This agreement will focus on democracy, economy and livelihoods.

The agreement comes after over a year of negotiations hosted by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, in efforts to help his foe comrades in restoration of peace and stability. The Juba peace deal has a special meaning for the people of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Niles who have been displaced by the country’s bloody 17 – year conflict.

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NDI’s Chris Fomunyoh Sounds Alarm Bells on Backsliding of Democracy in Africa
September 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung 

Dr. Chris Fomunyoh fears West Africa’s Democratic backslide will emulate Central African polity noted for highest concentration of world autocrats and human rights violations

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa at the National Democratic Institute, NDI, has told the U S House of Representatives’ subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations of fears that West Africa, formally considered the harbinger of democracy in the continent might turn out just like the Central African sub-region noted for gross human rights violation, suppression of freedom of expression and the highest concentration of world autocrats.

Addressing the committee on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, Dr. Chris who has put in over twenty-five years at the NDI stated that West Africa is no longer the trailblazer it used to represent in the continent. Stating that there are now fewer democracies in Africa than was twenty years ago, Dr. Fomunyoh pointed to the fact that with Mali experiencing a military coup and the controversies of incumbent presidents in Guinea Conakry and Ivory Coast, the faith of West Africa’s democracy is swinging on a rope. 

 

“From 2019, the democratic trends have reversed with less democratic nations in Africa now than there was in the 90s,” he told the house session chaired by Karen Bass who did not fail to indict African governments for suppressing basic rights such as Tanzania whose government she faulted for using the coronavirus to suppress democratic principles. 

Dr. Fomunyoh, an internationally acclaimed political scientist cum civic advocate with vast knowledge on African politics and democracy stated that West Africa formerly seen as the model for democracy is now sliding towards a downwards trajectory with far devastating consequences should care not be taken. 

Applauding Nigeria’s strong hand in maintaining its position as the powerhouse of democracy in Africa for over two decades, the Cameroonian-born democracy expert who has mediated protest and election-related conflicts across Africa noted that the outbreak of coronavirus has further sunk democracy in the agile continent. 

“Covid-19 impeded election preparation and democracy, and has generated fears of incumbent president using powers to limit freedom of expression and shrink democratic space,” he said before praising the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS for its efforts in pushing for a civilian-led transition in Mali after the military coup that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. 

Answering questions from members of the committee, Dr. Fomunyoh expressed his concerns over the fact that the collapse of democratic leadership in Mali, a strong member of the G5 Sahel states that fight extremist terrorism in the Sahel might facilitate the spread of insurgency Sahel regions. 

Quizzed by the committee chair on his recommendations, Dr. Fomunyoh urged Ivorians to go into the 2020 elections and ensure that they do not make the same mistakes they did in 2010. He added that there is a need to revamp US policies and focus them on African 35 years or younger who constitution 75% of the 1.4 billion population in the continent. 

To the international community, he called for the institution of global platforms within the United Nations systems including within the UN security council to put an end to human rights violations. “Africans themselves need to build synergies, national and regional networks to consolidate best practices and enhance peer-to-peer learning and also invest in empowering women and youth as leaders to safeguard and promote better democratic performance,” he said in his recommendation to Africans. 

Another witness at the hearing, Dr. Dorina A. Bekoe of the Institute for Defense Analyses who in her talk focused on elections and political transition stated that about 65% of African elections have witness violence be it before, during, and post elections – with post-election violence being deadlier and catastrophic. To her, African states should emulate positive examples portrayed by Ghana, Senegal, Mauritius, Botswana, and South Africa in its democratic principles. 

To Jon Temin, Director of Africa Program at the Freedom House, West Africa is now of particular concern with most of its states now on a downward trajectory and citizen left to bare the groan of political backwardness.  

Joshua Meservey Senior Policy Analyst with the Heritage Foundation charged with Africa and the Middle East picked on China’s foreign policy which to him is married by illicit deeds and propagates bad governance to attack democracy in Africa.

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Burundi’s President rejects international disrespect on his country
September 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

President of Burundi Evariste Ndayishimiye, Tchandrou Nitanga AFP via Getty Images

President of Burundi, General Ndayishimiye Evariste has expressed anger over the disrespect his country is subjected to on international scene, for ‘political reasons and  selfish interests of certain powers’.

Ndayishimiye testified this during ongoing UN Generally assembly which is happening virtually due to coronavirus pandemic.

In June this year, Ndayishimye swore in as new president of Burundi, replacing Nkurunziza Pierre who died mysteriously in the beginning of that month.

Burundi has been on spotlight internationally since 2015, during presidential elections that was marred by violence, and a failed coup which triggered thousands to flee their country over security of their lives.

Ndayishimiye told UN General assembly that some refugees have been repatriated, which shows that Burundi is now more  peaceful than before.

He however expressed segregation and disrespect his country is still facing on international scene.

“Burundi is arbitrarily on the agenda of the Security Council for political reasons and selfish interests of certain powers, which disregard the well-being of the Burundian people, which in no way constitutes a threat to international peace and security”, he said

President Ndayishimiye said that some countries especially from the ‘South’ are being used to destabilize his country, after having implicated themselves into a failed coup in 205.

“we firmly reject the unjustified politico-diplomatic aggression against Burundi and its people by foreign governments, some of which were illustrated in the attempt to change the regime in 2015 through unconstitutional means.”

“The tendency of certain states, which use subtle and illegal means to regulate geopolitics in the countries of the South and to take the place of the international community to oppress other countries by imposing unilateral coercive measures on them, must stop”, he adds

Though he did not name the country, Burundi has been accusing Rwanda in the south of housing opposition elements that want to overthrow Bujumbura regime since 2015. Rwanda denies wrongdoing.

However, international organizations still show that nothing changed in Burundi since Ndayishimiye is elected, especially in matters regarding human rights.

Early this month , UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi issued fresh warnings about ongoing rights violations and impunity in the country since the death of former President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Commission highlighted serious human rights violations during this year’s elections, including summary executions, torture and sexual violence.

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Africa’s Great Lakes States Demand Reparations from Germany and Belgium for Colonization
September 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali*

King Philippe and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi in 2019. The Belgium monarch has referred to the colonial past as cruel and violent . photo credit Belga
King Philippe and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi in 2019. The Belgium monarch has referred to the colonial past as cruel and violent . photo credit Belga

Nearly 60 years after Independence- Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are demanding reparations from German and Belgium, their former colonizers over the brutal colonial past that also sparked post-independence conflicts in the Great Lakes of Africa.

The former colonies are now demanding financial reparations and repatriation of cultural property looted by European countries that colonized Africa in the 19th century, a period that was characterized by dehumanization of locals, divide and rule policies and plundering of cultural artifacts as well as natural resources.

Burundi was first colonized by German in 1880 in what was then called ‘German East Africa’ that included Rwanda and Tanzania until the end of World War l. After the First World War the defeated Germany was stripped of its colonies in favor of Belgium that ruled Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo until 1962. In 2018, the Burundian Senate set up a commission of historians and anthropologists to examine the impact of colonialism in the Great Lakes country.

Gitega appears to be more pragmatic in reparations issue by setting a price. The Great Lakes country has recently demanded $ 43 billion from Germany for colonial crimes. The amount was calculated by referring to a fine that was imposed on the Burundian king by the Germans in 1903, which forced him to hand over 424 cows for resisting German rule.

According to Burundi’s special commission on the colonial past, the current value of those cows would be $43 billion. There are reports that German is not willing to pay the price amid similar reparation request from Namibia its former Southern African colony over genocide crimes.

Aloys Batunganayo, a Burundian Historian and doctoral researcher from Lausanne University said that current Burundian political challenges are linked to Belgium’s colonial past in a decree by Belgian King Albert l that classified the population in three ethnic groups.

“It is this decree that has led to conflicts in Burundi and the region because some of the population was excluded from the ruling class because of the decree,” Dr Batunganayo was quoted as saying.

Since its independence in 1962, the East African country has experienced ethnic conflicts that led to large scale civil war in 90s and various massacres.

Similarly, neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has also called for reparations after the Belgian King Phillippe expressed “deepest regrets” over his nation brutal colonial legacy in the central African nation. King Phillippe expressed shock on 30 July 2020, the Independence Day in DRC.

According to Brussels’ media reports, King Phillippe is the first reigning Belgian Monarch to qualify as “acts of violence and cruelty” committed under Belgian colonial past led by King Leopold ll in current DRC.  His majesty Philippe also expressed sympathy with Kinshasa over “suffering and humiliation” experienced by Congolese people under colonization.

However, Kinshasa’s officials say this is not enough and are now calling for compensation over brutal colonial past. Mr. Andre Lite, Minister of Human Rights was quick to react on Belgian King’s comments saying that Brussels should compensate the victims of colonization.

In an interview with a local news website ‘7 Sur 7 CD’, Lite said that the regrets about abuses of human rights by some Belgium officials about their country’s colonialism are not enough.  “The regrets of certain Belgian officials will never be enough in the face of their obligation to grant reparations to the victims of colonization and their relatives. It is contradictory or illogical to claim to be part of the respectful state and pretend not to know anything about serious crimes that were committed in the past,” the minister of Human Rights was quoted as saying.

According to Historians, many well-documented crimes were committed in ‘Congo Free State’, current DR Congo, the then colony under the personal rule of Belgian King Leopold ll. One of the serious crimes committed under Belgium colonization was called “red rubber system”- a forced labour created to maximize the collection and export of rubbers. Workers who refused to supply their labour were coerced with “constraint and repression”.

Meanwhile, Belgium has set up a commission to examine the Belgium colonial past in DR Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. Rwandan parliament welcomed the commission but denounced one of its members without mentioning name who it called a genocide “denier”.

While the increasing reparations calls from African countries to former colonizers has attracted interests from activists, media across Africa and scholars around the whole. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd in the USA; Anna Kirstine Schirrer, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University wrote in her recent paper titled “On reparations for Slavery and Colonialism” that neither reparative logic nor appeals for mass reparations are new.

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye.His government is asking for $ 43 billion from Germany for colonial crimes Photo.Tchandrou Nitanga ,AFP via Getty Images
Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye.His government is asking for $ 43 billion from Germany for colonial crimes Photo.Tchandrou Nitanga ,AFP via Getty Images

“What is new, however, is the conversation about material reparations occurring within governmental and international organizations, and the proliferation of various reparative rationales across multiple scales.” The scholar wrote in an article published in June.

*Published in September Issue of PAV Magazine

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Rwanda: Will UN,Other International Bodies rescue Paul Rusesabagina from terrorism charges?
September 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Mohammed M. Mupenda *

Terrorism charges have been slammed against Paul Rusesabagina .Photo credit AFP

The Rwandan critic, whose role during the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis was fictionalized in the well-known movie Hotel Rwanda, has been the subject of controversy ever since.

Mr. Rusesabagina appeared last month under arrest in Kigali in murky circumstances, with his family alleging he was kidnapped abroad.

According to Rwanda Authorities, he was arrested because he is believed to be the leader, founder and sponsor of a violent extremist group operating in Rwanda and more widely, known as MRCD/FLN. The international arrest warrant under which he has been detained included accusations that in June and July 2018 in Nyungwe, and in December 2018 in Nyamagabe, attacks by the MRCD/FLN were carried out against innocent Rwandan civilians which left nine people dead and several seriously injured.

Prior to his arrest there were videos featuring him and he was heard on BBC radio talk calling all political and civil society organizations to support FLN soldiers to oust the Kigali government through waging war as political means had failed.

However, some human rights and legal groups have expressed concern that his arrest is the latest example of Rwanda targeting critics.

Calls demanding fair justice have been made by U.S Senator, Rusesabagina Hotel Rwanda Foundation, oppositions and on 8 September UN urged to intervene in case of detained Hotel Rwanda dissident.

Through the Clooney Foundation for Justice and the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights, George and Amal Clooney have made a pledge to closely monitor the upcoming trial of Paul Rusesabagina in Rwanda, as part of CFJ’s Trial Watch initiative.

“Mr. Rusesabagina is currently detained provisionally for at least 30 days after he was denied bail, pending his trial,”.

Well, UN call, human right monitoring and other super power countries intervention could still give hope to his family, dissidents and others who wish to see Rusesabagina free but still not sure of how it will be done while terrorism charges are not welcome in any country.

For various newspapers both Rwandan and foreign, people’s talk, comments believe that Rusesabagina’s case would be serious, and some of the reasons being that Mr. Rusesabagina has Belgian citizenship, U.S resident and has been awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. However,  many observers say that these can’t save him out, due to Rusesabagina’s rebel attacks killed Rwandans, burned their property, looted their crops and took some hostages, Nsabimana Callixte and Rusesabagina admitted in various media outlets that the attacks killed civilians.

When Nsabimana was arrested and brought to justice, he pleaded guilty for all charges saying that even the birds could testify.

Mr. Rusesabagina’s acknowledgment that his rebellions killed people and apologized.

“I apologise, we never assigned FLN to kill people and that was not the mission noting that their actions should be blamed on them alone.”.

He admitted to sending some 20,000 euros ($23,000) to FLN commander Callixte Nsabimana – who is on trial on similar charges – but said this was personal assistance to a friend and not for rebel activities

Mr. Herman Hirwa Nsengimana, the successor to Nsabimana Callixte A.k.a Sankara was seen in the video conference included Rusesabagina, who was in the lead, also co-chaired the FLN, becoming the Supreme Leader.

Other reasons could be summarised as follows,  Rusesabagina has Rwandan citizenship by birth, the crimes is accused of committing are on Rwandan soil, the prosecutor also pointed out that before Rusesabagina was arrested there was a collaboration between  Belgian police and the U.S Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI), Rusesabagina’s home in Belgium was searched and some of the evidence against him came from there, and FBI had also conducted a thorough investigation into all the information from his indictment. 

Note that when the FLN attacks reached Rwandan territory, the US Embassy in the United States issued a statement saying that some parts of Rwanda were unsafe and that their residents were on high alert, and that they were aware of the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks.  Which are FLN soldiers, whose commander was based in the USA.

The case of Nsabimana Callixte who pleaded guilty to all the charges against him and even wished that his case would be reconciled with those of Rusesabagina and Herman because all the charges against FLN are fully involved.

In multiple speeches, Rusesabagina expressed support for the FLN – which has carried out armed attacks and is described as a terrorist organisation by Rwanda – but the extent of his involvement in its actions is unclear.

*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.

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