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Gambia: ECOWAS Condemns Any Attempt to Remove an Elected Gov’t
January 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

File Picture.Group photograph of the Heads of States and Government of ECOWAS during Fifty-Fifth Ordinary Session in Abuja, 29th June 2019.

The ECOWAS Mission In the Gambia  stressed that it is totally against any group or party that seeks to undermine the constitution of The Gambia and by extension any group that seeks to forcefully demand the removal of any constitutionally and democratically elected government, which contravenes the provisions of the ECOWAS 2001 Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

The ECOWAS Permanent Mission in The Gambia has been monitoring the various protests being held in the country by the 3-Years-JOTNA, 5-Years-JOTAGUL, the APRC and other intended protests by the 3-Years-JOTNA again on 19 January 2020 and the Gambian Victims Centre in Banjul on 23 January 2020. 

In a press release signed by  Vabah K. Gayflor Special Representative of the President of ECOWAS to The Gambia noted that though these protests have so far been peaceful, but it will not allow any unconstitutional means to undermine democratically elected government.

The ECOWAS mandate requires the Mission to facilitate dialogue and initiatives that will ensure peace, security and stability in the country. The Mission’s engagement with civil society groups, religious groups and other stakeholders in respect of the current developmentshave all been geared towards this direction.

Deliberate misinformation, distortions and falsehoods about the true and otherwise positive overtures by the Mission aimed at sowing seeds of discord between ECOWAS and Gambian stakeholders and other relevant actors, must be ignored.

The ECOWAS Mission will thus not give credence to any group that seeks to be a source of instability. Therefore, any distortions by some actors in respect of previous engagements by ECOWAS must be ignored.

The Mission once again wishes to assure Gambian stakeholders and citizens at large that it will continue to facilitate dialogue, peaceful co-existence and stability and put in the necessary measures to enhance a stable and secure environment for national development. 

The Mission therefore remains seized within its mandate to work with the Government of The Gambia, Development Partners, Civil SocietyOrganisations, and other relevant stakeholders to peacefully resolve any issues that have the potential to undermine the peace, security and stability in the country.


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Banjul and Bissau Don’t Need Boarders- President-elect Embalo
January 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President-elect of the Republic of Guinea Bissau,  Umaro Cissoko Embalo, has announced that once he assumes office, there will be no Laissez-passer –a travel document that gives access to its holder into a foreign country—between, Bissau, Banjul and Senegal.

‘’I would like to affirm that The Gambia will be my priority once I am inaugurated, we do not want any Laissez-passer between Banjul and Bissau. We want no borders between our citizens. This is my own decision,” he told journalists, following his closed-door meeting with President Barrow,

The President-elect of Guinea Bissau is on a day’s visit in The Gambia to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries and to also formally invite President Barrow, who he described as a ‘big brother’ to his inauguration, next month.

He said his discussion with President Barrow centered on forging the already strong ties between Bissau and Banjul, particularly, in the areas of education, health, agriculture, tourism and culture.

Stressing that better prospects lie ahead of Guinea Bissau as a country after years of political instability, President-elect Embalo said ‘’The new generation of Bissau Guineans will not repeat mistakes that keep their population in cycles of conflicts for decades.’’.

He expressed optimism that under his leadership, there are higher hopes for regional integration, especially between the neighbouring, Gambia and Senegal.

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Sierra Leone : President Julius Maada Bio to Attend Abu Dhabi Summit and UK-Africa Summit
January 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

President Bio

President Julius Maada Bio will depart today to Abu Dhabi to  attend  the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Summit 2020 on the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as a Special Guest of the Government of the United Arab Emirates which will be held from Monday 13th January to Thursday 16th January,  a press release from the office of the Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman said on Saturday.

According to the release, the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Summit is a global platform for accelerating the world’s sustainable development and it brings together a unique fusion of policy makers, industry specialists, technology pioneers, politicians and the next generation of sustainability leaders thus  His Excellency has been invited as a visionary leader in Africa for his commitment to education and efforts in fostering sustainable development in Sierra Leone. 

“From Abu Dhabi, His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio will proceed to London where he will attend the UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020 on the invitation of the United Kingdom Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson, MP.  The Summit will be held on the 20th January 2020 and His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio is expected to participate in several events on the margins of the Summit focusing on sustainable infrastructure, trade and investment. These events on the margins are slated for 19th January through 21st January,’’the release added.

The theme of the UK-Africa Investment Summit is “Partners in Prosperity” and it will bring together businesses, governments and international institutions to showcase and promote the breadth and quality of investment opportunities across Africa. The Summit will also provide a platform to focus on strategic issues for both the UK and Sierra Leone including energy transition, job creation and mutual prosperity.

 President Dr. Julius Maada Bio is expected to return to Sierra Leone on Tuesday 21st January 2020.

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South Sudan First Vice President Taban Deng Gai regrets U.S. Treasury Allegations of Human Rights Violation and reiterates Determination to Peace
January 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

Upon the establishment of the Republic of South Sudan, I have worked tirelessly to forge the necessary alliances to create a path to peace and prosperity

By Taban Deng Gai*

Vice President Taban Deng Gai
Vice President Taban Deng Gai

JUBA, South Sudan, January 9, 2020/ — Today, I have been wrongly accused of serious human rights abuses and sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. I deeply regret those baseless and unfounded allegations and wish to assure the international community, and above all the people of South Sudan, that my life has always been dedicated to the building of a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan.

As a proud South Sudanese, I have always fought for the sovereignty of the Republic of South Sudan and the independence of its people from 1983 to 2005 when Sudan and SPLM signed Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Since 2011 when South Sudan became independent until now in 2020 my commitment towards peace and unity has only grown stronger.

Upon the establishment of the Republic of South Sudan, I have worked tirelessly to forge the necessary alliances to create a path to peace and prosperity, reason why I continue to serve as the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan. As a man of peace, my dedication towards my country is above all a commitment to securing a future for all our people. 

As First Vice President, I share a common belief that our country’s strength and future relies in our dedication as a government to fight impunity, promote democracy, and guarantee the rule of law and individual freedoms, along with a life free from human rights violations for our people. As such, I pledge to continue working with the United States and the international community at large to demonstrate such commitment and prove the unfounded nature of the allegations made towards me.


* Taban Deng Gai is First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan


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Opinion: Extreme events are reversing development goals
January 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Patricia Scotland*

The Commonwealth has a become a leader in fighting climate change under  Patricia Scotland
The Commonwealth has a become a leader in fighting climate change under Patricia Scotland

Cyclones in the Caribbean and Pacific, devastating bushfires in Australia, recurrent floods and droughts in Asia and Africa, increasingly bring tragic loss of life to our nations and communities, inflicting physical and mental trauma on survivors, and causing irreparable damage to centuries old ways of life and undermining prospects for future prosperity and growth.

The current bushfires in Australia have been among the most distressing manifestations, leading the government to declare a state of emergency. The total cost to the economy of the bushfires with which Australia is grappling seems likely to run into billions of dollars. Continuous drying of undergrowth creates optimal conditions for bushfires, leading to tragic loss of human lives and destruction of infrastructure. There is devastating impact on the precious biodiversity of flora and fauna, threatening drastically to affect the ecology of the region. Heightened levels of air pollution in the affected and adjoining regions are having adverse impacts on the respiratory health of scores of people.

Such extreme events are occurring with rising frequency, destroying the means of livelihood for millions people in Commonwealth countries, increasing vulnerability and reducing resilience. The Commonwealth collectively recognises that without well-planned and integrated national and international action, natural disasters and extreme events will continue to challenge the resilience of affected communities and smaller countries. The Commonwealth Secretariat is working alongside member nations to protect the environmental health of fragile and susceptible ecosystems, including through increased national preparedness for tackling natural disasters and mobilising resources.

For the arid and drought-prone member countries, which are highly vulnerable to dryness and bushfires, the Commonwealth provides support for governments to develop projects on sustainable and resilient landscape management, with the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub (CCFAH) helping to unlock necessary financial resources. Similarly, by pooling information into a streamlined platform for better and more convenient access to information, the Commonwealth Disaster Risk Finance Portal currently in development will help countries find suitable sources of finance and support to deal with disasters.

On behalf of citizens of all Commonwealth countries, I express my heartfelt condolences to all families and communities who have lost loved ones in the tragic events of recent days. I commend the courage and commitment of firefighters, emergency service personnel and all others who are battling to rescue and protect people and property, wildlife and natural resources, or human infrastructure. In these testing times, the wider Commonwealth family stands in solidarity alongside the Government and people of Australia.

* The Rht Hon Patricia Scotland is the Commonwealth Secretary-General

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Kenyans criticize government for blocking the exiled lawyer
January 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

Samuel Ouma

Dr. Miguna Miguna has been barred from returning to Kenya

Kenyans on Tuesday, January 7, took a swipe at their President after it emerged that the exiled lawyer Miguna Miguna was barred from returning to the country.

Speaking to the local radio station on Tuesday morning, the vocal barrister revealed that he was barred from boarding a flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Nairobi. According to Miguna Miguna, the office of President Uhuru Kenyatta issued red alert to Lufthansa Airline warning them against flying him to Nairobi or any other African country.

“I am at the Lufthansa check in and they are saying the Kenyan security has blocked me from entering Kenya. In fact, the Kenya Government has demanded that Lufthansa must refund my fare. They have demanded that Lufthansa should not fly me into any other African country, either,” he said.

He further revealed that the airline management told him that he would be allowed on board only if they receive official communication from the government revoking the alert.

“Lufthansa flight manager is saying that the Government of Kenya must send an official communication to Lufthansa at Frankfurt office before I can be allowed to fly to Kenya or any other African country,” he added.

This comes one day after the country’s High Court directed the government to allow the lawyer back to the country terming his deportation illegal. The court further ordered the release of his Kenyan passport which is currently under the custody of court’s registrar.

“An order be and is hereby issued, that pending and following the inter-partes hearing of the Application, compelling the Respondents to facilitate entry of the Petitioner into Kenya on January 7, 2020 or any other date appointed by the Petitioner on the basis of his identification through the use of his National Identity Card, or his Kenya Passport in the form and state it was delivered by the Respondents to the High Court Registry pursuant to this Court’s Order,” reads court’s verdict.

When the news about Miguna Miguna’s woes at Frankfurt reached Kenyans, a number of them took it to the Social Media accusing President Uhuru of being a despot. They claimed the government is wrong to bar the attorney from returning the country despite being a Kenyan by birth.

“The Government of Kenya stopping a Kenyan citizen by birth from entering Kenya but can’t stop terrorists from crossing over to Kenya. Pure madness. Uhuru Kenyatta is officially a clown of the decade,” said Dorcas Sarkozy.

“President Kenyatta must stop the monkey games with #MIGUNAMIGUNA . The court spoke and the law is clear. Miguna is a Kenyan. We must defend the rule of law even if your enemy is the recipient,” reiterated Rein Asamoh.

 Another one added, “I’m disappointed this morning. There is nothing to smile about. Why allow miguna start his journey from Toronto then cut it off? #MigunaMiguna a solder is always a fighter to the end.”

Miguna Miguna holds dual citizenship both of Canada and Kenya.

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Zimbabwe: Can Mbeki Mend Fences Between President Mnangagwa and Opposition Challenger Chamisa?
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Former President Thabo Mbeki is trying to Break the Impasse between the Ruling Party and the Main Opposition Party  in Zimbabwe
Former President Thabo Mbeki is trying to Break the Impasse between the Ruling Party and the Main Opposition Party in Zimbabwe

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki recently made a visit to neighbouring Zimbabwe with the aim of easing the political tensions being experienced in the country. Mbeki’s visit saw him visit Zimbabwe’s top political leaders including the President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the leader of the main opposition party Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance.

Thabo Mbeki’s visit surprised many as there had been no rumours of such a visit both in the state as well as private media. Before the visit, influential people in different circles, as well as the general public, were calling upon the church to spearhead negotiations between the president and the main opposition party citing that only negotiations were capable of easing the ever-rising political tensions in the country as well as the deteriorating economic conditions.

Since the last election conducted in July 2018, Zimbabwe has steadily deteriorated politically, economically and socially. On the political front, numerous cases of human rights abuses have been reported as well as recorded. Just after Election Day in 2018, several people were gunned down by security forces while many others were injured as they protested the outcome of the election. In January 2019, security forces heavily clamped down on protesters who were calling on the government to act on the bread price increase; a number of people were shot dead, others succumbed to injuries they sustained from beatings while many were left with permanent injuries. Over the course of the year in 2019, there were dozens of cases of abductions and torture mostly targeting the members of the opposition party, members of the civic society, as well as media personalities critical of the government.

On the economic front, Zimbabwe continued to slide towards hyperinflation. Prices of basic commodities have risen sharply. Basic commodities such as bread have become a luxury as only the rich are able to purchase bread on a daily basis. Other essential commodities such as fuel, electricity and medication have also risen sharply in the process making the life of the ordinary man difficult. This has been compounded by the fact that while prices of commodities have been rising, wages and salaries have remained constant thereby eroding purchasing power. To make matters worse, often wages and salaries are deposited into one’s bank account. Withdrawing one’s salary from the bank is a difficult thing to do owing to the current liquidity challenges. What this means is that one has to spend hours or in some instances spend the whole night in a bank queue just to withdraw a small portion of his/her salary. If one opts against spending much time in a bank queue and opt to use a bank card, s/he will have to part with a lot of money in the form of transaction fees (POS fees). Even more depressing is the fact that most merchants have different prices for the same commodity depending on the form of money one is using. When using cash, prices will be relatively cheaper than when using a bank card.

The economic situation has not only affected individuals in their homes but has also affected the industry as well. Production capacity in industries has decreased owing to inadequate electricity supplies which have seen some areas going for 18 hours a day without electricity. As this is not bad enough, industries have been finding it difficult to source foreign currency from the central bank hence resorting to the black market where they are charged exorbitant fees. The end result is that industries in the quest to remain in operation have placed the burden on the consumers.

On the social front, a silent genocide has been taking place in the country’s hospitals and clinics. The government has been failing in its mandate to stock all hospitals and clinics with essential medicines. On top of it all, the government has been involved in a ‘war’ with medical personnel including nurses and doctors. The war has seen nurses and doctors take turns to undertake industrial action. At one point, the country’s doctors went on strike for nearly 100 days! In their absence, patients suffering from basic conditions, unfortunately, could not receive any help and many subsequently died. While some doctors have returned to work, they are still faced with the challenge of a lack of medical equipment and supplies which makes their job difficult. Essentially, what this means is that even in their presence, patients still continue to die as there are no medicines in the hospitals. Only those who are fortunate to be rich and wealthy are guaranteed to receive the necessary medical help as they can visit private health institutions which charge in foreign currency. For the majority who do not have access to foreign currency, once they get sick, they will be very lucky if they do not add to the silent genocide statistics.

The above snippet illustrates the challenges that Zimbabwe faces today; as this is just a snippet, it, therefore, means that there are many more problems currently being faced by the ordinary man in Zimbabwe. As the challenges are numerous and they all affect man in every sphere of life be it on the political side, economic front or social front, in the home or otherwise, there is need to look for solutions to eradicate the challenges. The solution that has been cited by many is to address the differences that exist between the ruling party and the opposition party. Many believe that once these two parties come to a common ground and start working for the country, then things might change. Those who have been advocating for such a solution have been insisting on the church to spearhead the process of bringing the leaders of the ruling party and the main opposition party to the negotiation table. However, this has been a difficult task as often; the church leaders chosen to be at the forefront of the process have been seen to align with one side or the other hence making it difficult for the other party to willfully and willingly come to the negotiation table.

The emergence of Thabo Mbeki, therefore, can be seen as a welcome development. However, it ought to be noted at the same time that Mbeki does come with his own baggage. On the positive side, Mbeki does know Zimbabwe’s political environment and actors. He was the mediator when then-President Robert Mugabe signed the Global Political Agreement (GPA) together with the leaders of the two MDC factions, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara in 2008. The GPA subsequently led to the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2009. For his part in the negotiations in 2008, Mbeki played a huge role as he managed to quell down the tensions between ZANU (PF) and MDC which had led to the death of dozens of people. On that front therefore, Mbeki did usher in peace in a broken country.

In as much as Mbeki did a great job in bringing peace to the country, his solution at the time was for the short term and not long term. It is because of the short-sightedness of his solution that 10 years later, he is back in the country looking to broker another peace deal between ZANU (PF) and the MDC. As such, as Mbeki starts his talks with the leaders of the ruling party and the main opposition parties in Zimbabwe, there is need for him to introspect and come up with a long term solution rather than a quick fix solution which will need another mediator to come to Zimbabwe in 10 year’s time. One of the things that Mbeki need to consider in his deliberations with the political actors in Zimbabwe is to invite the military to the negotiation table. The military in Zimbabwe has shown that it does possess much political power (even though this is not desirable in a democratic country). As such, any long term solution to the country’s political challenges will have to bear in mind the immense political power that the military possesses.

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Vice Prime Minister Melida Harris Barrow Of The State Of The African Diaspora Harps On Unity, Trade, And Collaboration In Ghana
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Barrow spoke on the need for unity, collaboration and trade between the Continent of Africa and those living in the Diaspora
Dr. Barrow spoke on the need for unity, collaboration and trade between the Continent of Africa and those living in the Diaspora

Kumasi Ghana December 29, 2019— At the invitation of Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Dr. Barrow gave an iconic keynote speech address at the African Prime Leadership Awards ceremony held at Manhyla Palace. Dr. Barrow has been touring the world on a mission to link Africa with the Diaspora and the Diaspora with Africa.  

Along with Dr. Barrow, several Heads of State, local Chief’s, community leaders, and thousands of community members came out to support The Asantehene at the community Dubar Festival where the Ashanti Culture was on full display. The following evening December 29, 2019, a State Dinner was held to honor The Asantehene as he received The Pillar of Peace Award. 

During her keynote address Dr. Barrow spoke on the need for unity, collaboration and trade between the Continent of Africa and those living in the Diaspora. She spoke on business opportunities and the need to support each other economically so we can progress into the future.  She stated “if we don’t do it, we are going to go another 400 years.”

She issued a call to action to “be strong, know that you have your brothers and sisters…we are waiting for you, don’t have us waiting to long.”

The State of the African diaspora has been formally established. On October 24, 2019.  The government will present its first actions and ongoing projects and launching of Global Parliaments having summits around the world. Summits will be in North America, Europe, South America, The Caribbean, Asia/Oceania and Africa.

The mission of the State of the African Diaspora and the 6th Region Economic Community is to connect Africa with its Diaspora and the Diaspora to Africa, as well as connecting the Diaspora to the Diaspora internationally. Its mission further extends to being a key participant in the African Continental Free Trade Area.

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Africa’s Wealthiest Man Ends the Year $4.3 Billion Better Off
January 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

The 62-year-old Nigerian businessman and Africa’s most prominent industrialist ended the decade with a net worth of almost $15 billion

Aliko Dangote

LAGOS, Nigeria, January 2, 2020/ — Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, became $4.3 billion richer in 2019 as his fortune continued to grow on the back of investments in cement, flour and sugar.

The 62-year-old Nigerian businessman and Africa’s most prominent industrialist ended the decade with a net worth of almost $15 billion, making him the 96th wealthiest man in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Born into a wealthy Muslim family of traders in the north, Dangote incorporated his own business selling cement at 21. He shifted to manufacturing the building material in the 1990s, helped by government policies that encouraged ways to reduce the need for imports. His critics still accuse him of taking advantage of his closeness to the government to gain an unfair market advantage, a claim he has repeatedly dismissed.

His conglomerate, Dangote Industries, includes the biggest cement company on the continent, the Lagos-listed Dangote Cement Plc. That’s one of four publicly traded companies under the Dangote umbrella that account for more than a fifth of the value of the Nigerian stock exchange.

The year 2020 could be a significant one for the billionaire, who is close to completing one of the world’s largest oil refineries in Nigeria. The plant has the capacity to meet more than Nigeria’s entire fuel consumption and could transform an economy that currently imports all its refined product needs. Dangote is also constructing a fertilizer factory on the same site.

*Dangote Group/Bloomberg

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Selecting Rwanda as Host of CHOGM 2020 Is “Innovative and New”–Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland
January 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By MOHAMMED M. MUPENDA *

[Photo: Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and President Paul Kagame - Commonwealth Secretariat]
[Photo: Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and President Paul Kagame – Commonwealth Secretariat]

The Secretary General of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland, says selecting Rwanda as the host of CHOGM 2020 meeting is innovative and new.

In the interview she had with Pan African Visions during the Madrid COP 25 Forum,Hon. Patricia Scotland said CHOGM member states are “excited” about the 26th meeting which will be held at the Kigali Convention Centre during the week starting 22nd June, 2020.

For her, the selection of Rwanda was innovative and new hinging on the fact that the country is the youngest member of the organization while it is the second time for this meeting to be held in Africa for the last 15 years.

 “This is going to be the second time that we are going to be in Africa in the last 10, 15 years. The last time was in Uganda. We now are going to go to Rwanda, and Rwanda is the youngest member of our family. So that is also innovative and new,” Hon. Patricia said.

CHOGM 2020 will be held under the theme ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. The discussions will revolve around five identified sub-themes that are Governance and Rule of Law, ICT and Innovation, Youth, Environment, and Trade.

“It will be a great pleasure to welcome leaders of the Commonwealth when they gather in Kigali. We will work hard to make everybody feel Rwanda is an extension of their home,” said President Paul Kagame of Rwanda while officially launching CHOGM 2020 in video message that featured him with Hon. Patricia on 24th September, 2019. 

“By connecting, innovating and transforming, the Commonwealth opens up scope for mobilising the talent of people of all ages and backgrounds,” Kagame added.

“I think the youth demographic we have now is a real opportunity.  It is going to be a very exciting chance for us to enable our young people to develop and deploy the skills they need so they can fulfill their potential,” Patricia underpinned in the video.

Rwanda joined commonwealth in 2009 and became the second member state with no colonial ties with the United Kingdom, following Mozambique.

The 2020 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will bring in Kigali leaders from all 53 Commonwealth countries that have the population estimated to be 2.4 billion.

Leaders are expected to discuss ways the contemporarily Commonwealth can transform societies, in accordance with its charter values of democracy, multilateralism, sustainable development, and empowerment of women and youth.

*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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Africa Must Innovate Her Way Out Of Poverty – Fourth Industrial Revolution and Africa’s Opportunity to Close the Economic Gap
December 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ben Kazora*

Industrial Revolution

The first industrial revolution dates back to the 1700s. This saw the transformation of agriculture societies into industrialized and urban ones. Thomas Newcomen’s design of the steam changed everything and allowed free movement of goods and labor. Goods that had once been crafted by hand started to be produced in mass quantities by machines in factories, thanks to the introduction of new machines and techniques in textiles, iron making and other industries.

Second Industrial revolution was marked by rapid industrialization and standardization. This took place between 1870 and 1914 and came with the expansion of the electronics, steel and textile industry. These advancements enabled the wide spread of technologies such as telegraph, railroad networks, water supply, sewage systems and all. It was actually the telegraph and railroad lines that started the mass movement of ideas and people leading to the first signs of globalization, a prelude to today’s society.

We are presently in the ending phase of the third industrial revolution better known as the digital revolution. This has seen the advent of super computers and rapid advancements in the internet that have further redefined how people and business transact.
It’s also safe to say that we are standing on the palisade of the forth industrial revolution. Unlike the previous other iterations, this revolution seeks to marry physical, digital, and biological spheres to foster an inclusive, human-centered future. Another stark difference with the former revolutions is the deep rooted desire to leverage technology to achieve the greatest good for the most number of people possible.

Moving forward we are expecting to see more prevalent use of technologies such as 3-D printing. This phenomenon has brought down the costs of labor and material. Fifth generation wireless technology (5G) capable of reaching 100Gbps is focused on increasing bandwidth to be smarter and faster than ever before. It’s this technology that will power the self-driving cars and internet of things (IoT) just to mention a few.

Self-Driving Cars

Since May of 2019 UPS has been using self-driving trucks to ship goods between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Recently Land O’ Lakes announced that they delivered butter from Tulare, California, to Pennsylvania (almost 2,700miles) using self-driving trucks. These self-driving vehicles are designed to optimize traffic and fuel. It’s been reported that 1.24 million people die each year of collisions and this number is expected to reach 2.2 million in 2030 according to the World Health Organization (WHO), According to a study by the Eno Centre for Transportation, if about 90% of cars on American roads were autonomous, the number of accidents would fall from six million a year to 1.3 million and deaths would fall from 33,000 to 11,300.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices are taking human interaction out of the equation. Today, consumers are using the IoT to make restaurant reservations, monitor their exercise progress and overall health, and receive coupons for a store only by virtue of walking by the business in question. Take an example in agriculture, devices using IoT technology can sense soil moisture and nutrients, in conjunction with weather data, better control smart irrigation and fertilizer systems. If the sprinkler systems dispense water only when needed, for example, this prevents wasting a precious resource. In manufacturing RFID and GPS technology can help a manufacturer track a product from its start on the factory floor to its placement in the destination store, the whole supply chain from start to finish. These sensors can gather information on travel time, product condition, and environmental conditions that the product was subjected to. According to a Cisco report, the next decade will see IoT devices creating $14.4 trillion worth of value across several industries.

The Ghana and South Korea Development Disparities

In 1957, Ghana was the richest nation in sub-Saharan Africa with a per capita income of $490. That was nearly the same as South Korea which had a per capita income of $491. By the early 1980’s Ghana’s per capita income had been reduced to $400 while South Korea’s per capita income had grown to a whopping $2,000. By 1990 South Korea’s per capita income was ten times larger than Ghana ($4,832 versus $481). Today South Korea’s GDP per capita stands at $26,761 while that of Ghana is $1,807. So what happened here?
South Korea like many other Asian countries embraced innovation and creativity. The first step was to revolutionize the education standard. With this we saw the illiteracy rate falling from 80% to less than 10%. Towards the end of 1980s 37% of South Korean students had some form of higher education. South Korea notched top scores worldwide for manufacturing value-added as well as for tertiary efficiency – a measure that includes enrollment in higher education and the concentration of science and engineering graduates,” said a recent Bloomberg report. Companies such as Samsung and LG have become global leaders in the area of consumer electronics thanks to their cutting-edge technology and innovative product designs.
 
Coupling with education, innovation and technology are the key factors that have underpinned South Korean export competitiveness and fueled the country’s remarkable economic rise over the past decades. The growth rate has been so impressive that the East Asian nation went from being one of the poorest countries in the 1960s to becoming the world’s 12th largest economy in 2019, according to the World Bank. South Korea’s $1.63T economy is bigger than Saudi Arabia and Turkey combined. America’s global competitiveness is hinged on her innovative capacity and atmosphere. We have seen how digital technologies have been the vital factors of national security and economic growth. Additionally, these technologies are at the root of many advancements in complex sciences, healthcare, communications and industry to mention a few. Innovation and technology are the key factors that have underpinned South Korean export competitiveness and fueled the country’s remarkable economic rise over the past decades.
There is a clear correlation between GDP growth and investment in innovation, research and development. In the 15 years between 2000 and 2015 the US spend on research and development almost doubled from $268.6 billion to $496.6 billion. In the same period the US GDP grew from $10.28T to $18.12T. In the same time, India’s investment almost tripled while China’s increased tenfold and the results are similar. 
 
In addition, technological advances are helping to bring down the cost of renewable energies, such as solar and wind energy, handing them a greater role in the global economy’s energy mix, with significant effects for both producers and consumers of fossil fuels. A simple example of the benefits; in the developing countries a slight reduction to the cost of gas at the pump brought about by technology can mean lowered cost of transportation which means lower cost of food, cement, clothing just to mention a few. This also means additional savings at the pump allowing one to save more, invest in stocks and share just to mention a few. A new McKinsey Global Institute report, Beyond the supercycle: How technology is reshaping resources speaks to how technology can aide in the further unlocking of $900B to $1.6T in savings globally by 2035. This is more than the GDP of Spain.

What Can Africa Learn From South Korea?

In my humble opinion, most African countries with a few exceptions like Rwanda have decided to first become rich and then focus on people. This is the exact opposite of what nations like Korea did and in line with what Rwanda’s Kagame is doing with Presidential Scholars and other programs. It’s very true that we aren’t certain how the economies of the future will look like. So investing in people is the more ideal route to pursue.
South Korea is intent on joining the globes top 4 nations in artificial intelligence (AI) have invested $2B in programs to ensure this vision is realized by 2022. Some of the key initiatives include 6 new AI institutions that seek to churn out more than 5,000 engineers.
Like South Korea, Africa has to look inwards and seek homegrown solutions that work for Africa. South Korea resides in the same region with China and Japan. China low labor costs. Japan was leading the way with high tech and capital intensive industries. Today’s 10 youngest populations are all in Africa. Average ages include Niger (14.8 years), Uganda (15.9 years) and Zambia (16.9 years). By 2034 Africa will have the youngest working age population. Additionally, Times magazine has estimated Africa’s urbanization rate to be at 37%. This is more than India’s and at par with China and is expected to be the fasted between 2020 and 2050.

South Korea invested in building national consensus in with regards to the direction of the major economic policies. Concurrently, there was high level of government support of the local entrepreneurs that helped them optimize the business opportunities available. Above all, the key miracle of South Korea has been in the mindset of the population that allows the population to successfully adopt to challenges while minimizing risks.

The way forward

An IMF report released in April, 2017 confirmed that oil-exporting countries and other resource-intensive countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were showing the worst economic performance in the region. Even those that enjoyed good governance were also experiencing similar challenges. For long we as a continent have relied agriculture produce that remain vulnerable the instability of international market prices.
Even a country like Botswana that enjoyed a reputation for good governance and were regarded as models in Sub-Saharan Africa experienced problems related to a commodity-dependent economy. Traditionally, African economies which are primarily reliant on agricultural produce like cacao, coffee and tea have experienced vulnerability with the fluctuation of international market prices. While commodity prices have been recovering in 2018, various economic forecasts point to rather sluggish growth for the resource-rich African countries.
The African Union has come up with agenda 2063 that is intended to inspire nations to achieve a structurally transformed economy. This primarily leans on an industrialized Africa. It’s evident that without proper investment in human capital development and more in innovation and technology, this dream will never be realized.

Stephen Hawking once famously said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” A decade ago terms such as internet of things, machine learning and artificial intelligence weren’t common phrases. When I graduated with my Bachelors from Purdue University in 2008 we were only then beginning to properly embrace nanotechnology and its vast applications. Today, most labor intensive tasks have been taken away from humans and are being dealt with purely by machines. The world is changing at such a high pace that in a few decade most of these novel technologies will also be obsolete. The only way to keep up is with heavy investment in human capital and constant investment in research and development. Labor force must be retrained, upskilled and transformed.

One way to achieve this would be strategic partnerships between academia and private sector to allow the effective transfer of knowledge. This allows university students to constantly keep up with evolving trends of the real world. Curriculums will also need to be constantly updated to this effect. A The McKinsey Global Institute’s report posited that Artificial Intelligence (AI) alone has the potential to add up to $13trillion to the current global GDP by 2030. Automation of labor alone is said to contribute around $9trillion and innovation in products and services could increase $6trillion.
The renown American economist Robert Shiller once said “you cannot wait until a house burns down to buy fire insurance on it. We cannot wait until there are massive dislocations in our society to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Indeed the time for Africa to prepare herself for the fourth industrial revolution is yesterday. African governments must also encourage experimentation. Like venture capitalists do with their investment, African governments should also take a portfolio approach to scripting policies. This way success balances failure and models that work can be scaled up. A November 2019 World Bank article has show has the Ethiopian government is developing “portfolio” of industrial parks as a means to making Ethiopian the continent’s manufacturing hub. We have also seen the Liberian government experiment with outsourcing school management to private sector entities. A recent report from poverty action has shown that, this has actually yielded positive results. After 3 years of this experiment these schools raised their test scores by 0.21 standard deviations in math and 0.16 standard deviations in English.

Conclusion

African must shift focus to creating more adaptive governments.
African private sector should be the driver of the innovative change while the government remains the enabler through creative adaptive governments as well as appropriate allocation of resources.
Business leaders and entrepreneurs should remain focused on a few key consumer behaviors:

  • Drive mass personalization of products and services
  • Focus on creating maximum value from a single transaction by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technologies to best predict future needs and points of engagement.
  • There should be unwavering emphasis on collaboration with multiple partners beyond one’s supply chain network.
  • Companies must embrace risk to foster growth as well as providing the best value for the customers. Only in doing so will these companies keep up with or stay ahead of the competition.

*The author is  co-founder of Limitless Software Solutions and can be reached via emails ben.kazora@limitlesssoftwares.com and bkazora@alumni.purdue.edu.

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Ghana GOV’T to adopt ECOWAS single currency ECO in 2020
December 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Akufo Addo of Ghana and Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast
File Picture President Akufo Addo of Ghana and Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast

Ghana’s government has revealed  that it would  adopt the new single currency ECO in 2020 to be used by ECOWAS member states.

The currency was adopted by the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Nigeria’s capital Abuja in June 2019.

The West African leaders endorsed the currency at their 55th Ordinary Session and approved a road map towards the currency’s issuance in January 2020.


There was a roadmap to ensure that all member countries meet three primary criteria for the adoption of the currency.

Strong will
Many have doubted if the ECO will really be adopted by member countries, but there seems to be willingness of many countries in West Africa to adopt the currency.

In December 2019 Ecowas said it was renaming the CFA franc into Eco.

Under the new deal struck between ECOWAS and France, this will also involve cutting off some of the financial links between Francophone West African countries and France.

“This is a historic day for West Africa,” Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara said during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in the country’s main city Abidjan.

Ghana’s government in a statement said it was “determined to do whatsoever we can to enable us join member states of UEMOA, soon, in the use of ECO.”

“Ghana urges the other Member States of ECOWAS to work rapidly towards implementing the decisions of the Authorities of ECOWAS, including adopting a flexible exchange rate regime, instituting a federal system for the ECOWAS Central Bank, and other related agreed convergence criteria, to ensure that we achieve the single currency objectives of ECOWAS, as soon as possible, for all Member States,” the statement added.

Criteria for Eco adoption
That includes member countries having a budget deficit of not more than 3 percent; average annual inflation of less than 10 percent with a long-term goal of not more than 5 percent by 2019.

Countries were expected to also have gross reserves that can finance at least three months of imports.

The other convergence criteria that has been adopted by ECOWAS are public debt or Gross Domestic Product of not more than 70 percent.

There is also the issue of central banks financing budget deficit not more than 10 percent of previous year’s tax revenue, and nominal exchange rate variation of plus or minus 10 percent.

ECOWAS has a combined population of 385 million and was set up in 1975.

It comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Eight of these countries use one currency called the CFA franc. Those are Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

The current decision to adopt one currency is similar to the move made by the European Union to adopt the single currency called Euro.


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