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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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Djibouti:The Republic is still waiting for its prodigal sons and daughters
December 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Kadar Abdi Ibrahim

“Nothing is more dangerous than authority in the hands of those who don’t know how to use it.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thoughts of a right mind.

One could not talk politics without understanding it. Practicing it has never been easy. Even less so in a country where an iron-fisted dictator reigns. Because, simply put, politics is contingent. Ever changing. Because leaders, whether real or fake, perpetually find themselves facing new situations that are, at least partly, unpredictable. Who would have imagined that Djibouti would find itself isolated in the Horn of Africa, amidst this upheaval where deep forces are at play? Clearly, it is unstable. Manifestly, cruel. Assuredly, incredulous.

Within this context, Djibouti cannot be run by men who lack strong convictions and who, from the outset, don’t have the stature of charismatic leaders, men who have been driven, in the “statepartisan-clan-like” structurization of current political life, to make arcane decisions for the nation. This is what the German Sociologist, Max Weber, described perfectly, using a German expression that has since become famous, “the rise of the BERUFSPOLITIKER OHNE BERUF”, illustrating the arrival of “professional politicians, with neither vocation, nor conviction,” in his founding work of modern sociology, “The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.”

This, in large part, explains the composition of Djibouti’s current government, in which it has become possible for people to take advantage of their situation, by virtue of their political control and impunity, each in their own way, with their own 15 minutes of fame. This also explains the composition of the National Assembly, where people are chosen based on their servility and obedience, in sum, their ability to not rankle the volition of those above. Finally, this explains that, for some, pedigree alone is enough to take on senior roles that are far above their level of competence.

This is why this country needs men that will take it out of its conventional paths, who are capable of shaking up established order to understand the reality of the conditions that surround them and to feel the corresponding impulses in a great moment of unity. In other words, men of character, instinct and unity.

All politicians provoke controversies. The demands on them are heterogenous. Some, tribal. Or communitarian. Others national or financial. The charismatic leader must incorporate them and transform them into a collective demand – a shared passion – embodying this as his identity. He will be, in empirical terms, the representation. Starting from there, a double vertical movement begins, which he must make endure: “From the represented to representation and from representation to the represented”. Unifying is he.

The little dictator entertains. He upholds splits and divisions. He ensures instability. His irresponsibility is too often glaring. Blocking anything time sensitive, he can’t stop wavering between projects, constantly being tugged this way or that. His signature, changing sides. The little dictator rules by tricks and by force. By lying and by falsehoods. Lacking a homogeneous perception of the population, he cannot reign over a population that grows larger and more diverse. Sectarian is he.

Effusion, the true leader doesn’t know it. Nor narcissistic fever. The same with ostentatious rewards. Controversy and its hype, he confronts them: “Difficulty attracts the man of character, because it is through his embrace of it that he fulfills his true potential,” Charles de Gaulle taught us in “War Memoirs.” In the face of events, the man of character leaves his trace. The leader navigates between dreams and reality. Between meticulous logic and sheer madness. Obeyed and followed is he.

The little dictator, lacking confidence, needs to surround himself by a press and a group of people who laud him, who devote themselves to his personality cult and who build his hagiography. With a desire to please, he grants them everything they want. His integrity. His honor. Unable to answer to his responsibilities, more often than not, he runs off. Taking risks is never his business. Nor taking initiatives. In the little that he undertakes, he mixes indecency and buffoonery. Through restlessness, he makes it appear to himself and to others that he has influence on events. Without prestige and without resiliency is he.

Instinct, a natural strength in a true leader, gives him illuminated judgements, the logical series of next steps to be taken. It precedes, as part of its conception, each decision. It is thanks to instinct that he firmly grasps the deep reality surrounding him. He senses everything. This intuition, which bestows command upon the leader, is it not what Gustave Flaubert talk about in “Salammbô,” when he described Hannibal as a teenager, already carrying the traces of “the indefinable splendour of those who are destined to great enterprises”? All the great men who have marked history are endowed with this. Is it not what Alexander the Great called, more commonly, “his hope”? Caesar, “his fortune”? Napoleon, “his star”?

The leader who is thus carried by these three (3) personal qualities: character, instinct and the ability to unify, has in his possession a certain voice quality. Words that are capable of moving, of carrying, of galvanizing and of convincing, not simply with rhetorical and communicational methods, as we often see on Facebook, but because through it we hear a voice lifted by the spirit, something that one can barely make out, only through the eyes of authenticity and the angle of conviction. Thus, does this voice not phenomenalize these three ferments and does it not produce persuasion ?

Until today, this country has only had little dictators, not applying themselves to prescribe what has not been prescribed by higher authority. As much in the majority, as in the opposition. With the exception of the rare personalities who never had the opportunity to do their work. Namely, the regrettable Ahmed Dini. In this vein, Raymond Aron, in his “Introduction to Weber,” summarizes in a striking formula the great distinctive traits of a leader in writing: “Man obeys leaders that custom sanctions, that reason shows, that enthusiasm lifts above all others.” In other words: tradition, rationality and charisma.

Over 41 years after our independence, the Republic is still waiting for its prodigal sons and daughters!

* Kadar Abdi Ibrahim is a freelance Journalist, former University Professor, human rights defender and currently Secretary General of the MoDeL party.

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Vice Prime Minister of the State of the African Diaspora, Dr. Melida Harris Barrow in Ghana
December 28, 2019 | 0 Comments
The Vice Prime Minister of the State of the African Diaspora, Dr. Melida Harris Barrow
The Vice Prime Minister of the State of the African Diaspora, Dr. Melida Harris Barrow

The Vice Prime Minister of the State of the African Diaspora, Dr. Melida Harris Barrow just arrived in Ghana.

Dr. Harris Barrow was chosen to be the Keynote Speaker to celebrate with his Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, as he receives the “Pillar of Peace” Award on the last Akwasidae Festival of the year, which also closes the chapter on the 20th Anniversary Celebrations of the enstoolment of His Majesty on the Golden Stool, to be held on December 29, 2019, at the Manhyia Palace.

The event will be under the Theme “Acknowledging and Celebrating Legendary and Transformational Leadership On The African Continent and Beyond.”

Osei Tutu II is the 16th Asantehene and has been in power since 26 April 1999. By name, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is in direct succession to the 17th-century co-founder of the Ashanti Empire, Otumfuo Osei Tutu I. He is also the Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Information from the State of Africa indicates that with almost 350 million people, the African Diaspora is the THIRD COUNTRY in the world after China and India, but greater than The United States of America (323 million), Indonesia (258 million) and Brazil (205 million). Previously, it was unstructured, and only had potential as an entity.

“This is why the decision has been made to mobilize the energies of the Diaspora to officially launch the State of the African Diaspora: our Goal is to strengthen Africa through the Diaspora, and the Diaspora through Africa,” says the State of Africa in information shared with PAV.

*PAV will be coming up soon with more reporting and interviews on the activities of the State of the African Diaspora

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Gambia: CRC says No Gay Rights in Draft Constitution
December 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Barrow
President Barrow

The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) has stressed that Section 52 of the new draft constitution on the right to marry does not approve homosexuality.

The new draft constitution was released last month but there has been claims and counter-claims that the document supports same-sex marriage.

However recently UN special rappeartour urged Gambia government to decriminalise same sex marriage, many activists expressed concerns about the rights of minority like gays and lesbians should be included in the draft constitution.

But, the government still insist on the law that criminalise same-sex marriage of life imprisonment if one is found the act.

In a press release signed by Sainey MK Marenah, Head of Communications at CRC said the claims saying it does not in any way establish or advocate for marital relationships based on conduct that is considered to be unnatural between a man and a woman.

“The section does not make provision for homosexuality or other form of sexuality considered not to be in accordance with the values and ethos of Gambian society,”


It added: “It should also be noted that the Criminal Code criminalises homosexuality. Nonetheless, this section will be considered for any possible ambiguity to ensure better clarity.”

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DRC politician wants his country to wage a war on Rwanda
December 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

For Muzito, DRC will have peace the day it invades Rwanda
For Muzito, DRC will have peace the day it invades Rwanda

An opposition politician and a leader of a coalition Lamuka  in Democratic Republic of Congo, Adolphe Muzito  wants his country to invade Rwanda as well as annexing it to its territory in order to end 20 years of insecurity in eastern Congo.

Adolphe who became Joseph Kabila’s prime Minister between 2008 and 2012, announced this on Monday in a press conference, the first of its kind as coordinator of Lamuka platform.

Muzito told journalists that there is no peace in Eastern Congo without annexing Rwanda.

“To resolve the situation, we must wage war in Rwanda. If we want to control the east of the Republic, we must wage war in Rwanda. To make war, you need an army, you need a strong power, with good finances and occupy Rwanda. Ultimately, annex Rwanda to the Congo ”.

For Muzito, Rwanda has been at the helm of destabilizing Congo, invading that country in the name of hunting down rebels while pillaging its natural resources.

The words of Muzito didn’t resonate well in ears of other Lamuka big leaders like Moise Katumba and Jean Pierre Bemba who immediately ‘disassociate energetically’ from such speech.

In announcement they said “While being energetically dissociated from these words, we can no longer be very serious, we would like to recall that under international law and bilateral agreements with this neighboring country, such an approach can in no case receive the approval of the living forces local and the international community “.

They rather advised Muzito to reconsider his words and withdraw them.

Muzito’s speech angered some Rwandans, calling Lamuka to take measures against him.

“The day when Adolphe Muzito will restore peace with an entity named “REASON” and the day it occupies a territory named “BRAIN”, it would already be a great feat”, commented Olivier Nduhungirehe on Twitter, who is state Minister in the Ministry of Foreign affairs.

Lamuka is made of political parties that came together in 2017 to end Joseph Kabila’s rule  after the end of his two mandates that was granted to him by constitution.

Among members of Lamuka is Martin Fayulu who run for presidency in 2018, Jean Pierre Bemba’s MLC, Moise Katumbi and others.

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President Barrow Calls on ECOWAS to Tackle Irregular Migration at 56th ECOWAS Heads of State Summit
December 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President  Adama Barrow has called on the leaders of the regional body-ECOWAS, to address the issue of irregular migration as a major concern, citing the recent tragic boat accident off the coast of Mauritania, which claimed the lives of over 60 Gambian youths.

‘’In spite of the progress made towards sustainable regional integration, our Community continues to face threats to peace and security within the sub-region. Issues of social discrimination, irregular migration, terrorist attacks, land conflicts and environmental concerns, for example, pose a big challenge to us.’’

President Barrow said during his address at the 56th ECOWAS Heads of State and Government Summit in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria.  

Gambian leader used the occasion to condemn the recent terrorist attacks in Ouagadougou, Mali and Niger, which resulted in the loss of lives and destruction of valuable properties. 

He assured of The Gambia’s support their resolve to fight terrorism.

Acknowledging economic and human resource constraints of members states, which continue to undermine socio-economic growth, President Barrow was quick to point out that the urgency of the situation calls for intensifying commitments and strategies for sustainable peace, stability and democracy.

Highlighting his government’s reform agenda, the President said,  ‘’My Government’s reform agenda is beginning to yield positive results in promoting good governance, human rights and the rule of law. In fact, we are now acting on the recommendations of the Commission Report on the financial dealings of the former Head of State and his associates.’’

Adding that the Consultations on a Draft Constitution are ongoing, and hearings at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission are in progress

President Barrow also informed the gathering that his government has progressed with the security sector reform programme, aligning it with the ECOWAS Framework as well as the Security Sector Policy supported by a Security Sector Reform Strategy and a National Security Strategy. 

‘’All these activities require a peaceful and stable environment. To this end, I thank our partners sincerely for supporting and sustaining the ECOMIG mission in The Gambia. It is contributing immensely to the stability in the country and the protection of our fragile democracy.

While thanking ECOWAS for the strategic support to the outcomes and other partners of the transitional programme, President Barrow appealed to the body to extend the ECOMIG mission, in The Gambia to 2021, when the transition process would have given way for the Third Republic to contribute effectively to the regional commitments.

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Belgian court sentences Rwandan Fabien Neretse to 25 years over genocide
December 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mugabo

Rwandan Fabien Neretse (left) has been sentenced to 30 years of jail after being convicted of genocide and war crimes by Brussels Assize Court on December 19, 2019. (1)
Rwandan Fabien Neretse (left) has been sentenced to 30 years of jail after being convicted of genocide and war crimes by Brussels Assize Court on December 19, 2019.

Brussels Assize Court in Belgium has sentenced Rwandan national Fabien Neretse to 25 years in jail after convicting of genocide and war crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Neretse, 71, was convicted of genocide, war crimes and murder in Kigali city and Mataba in the Northern Rwanda.

The court verdict announced on Thursday night in Brussels made Neretse the first Rwandan national to be convicted of genocide by Belgian courts. He was immediately put in jail awaiting the sentence announcement.

Announcing the sentence on Friday evening, Judge Sophie Leclerq said the jury considered the age and disability of Neretse in the sentence he received, according to RBA reporter Latifah Akimana who has been in Brussels for this trial since early November.  Through the partnership of Pax Press and RCN Justice et Démocratie project dubbed “Justice et Mémoire”, two Rwandan reporters Akimana and Jean Baptiste Karegeya were sent to the Brussels Assize Court to report on the case of Fabien Neretse.

Earlier in the day, the prosecution had sought a 30-year jail sentence for Neretse while the defence asked for 15-year sentence, citing the reasons that their client has never tried to escape the justice yet he has been free during the trial. The defence has 15 days for appeal to the cassation court.

Neretse convictions

The accused was found guilty of role in the murder of 9 persons murdered in Kigali on April 9, 1994 including Isaïe Bucyana, his Belgian wife Claire Beckers and their daughter Katia Bucyana. Others are Colette Sisi, Lily Umubyeyi, Grace Tangimpundu, Jean de Dieu Sambili, Julienne Mukayumba and Inès Gakwaya.

In his native place of Mataba in the former Ruhengeri Prefecture, currently in Gakenke District, Neretse played role in the murder of Joseph Mpendwanzi on June 19, 1994 and of  Anastase Nzamwita who was his former workmate at GBK and OCIR Café

He is also guilty of attempted murder of other people including Bucyana’s nephews Régine Bategure and Emmanuel Nkaka, and Marie-Antoinette Umurungi.

However, the jury acquitted him of the murder of Ildephonse Ngarambe and Sixbert Rutonesha who were mentioned by the Federal Magistrate, Arnaud d’Oultremont, in his indictment.

Defence lawyer Jean Jacques criticised the jury for not considering the defence points in the verdict.

“It is a decision on crimes charged on our client that has been decided by 12 jury members. They did great job in reviewing the testimonies of many witnesses heard in the last six weeks but we don’t see the case the same way. We have our proofs we presented to the court but the jury has ignored them in their explanation on this verdict,” he said.

Neretse has always said in the court that he is an innocent man who loved the Tutsi people, the position he emphasized at the conclusion of the hearings early this week, saying that he is and will always be innocent.

Arrest, trial proceedings

Rwandan prosecution indicted Fabien Neretse on six counts including genocide and criminal conspiracy on August 8, 2007 and the arrest warrant was addressed to France requesting for Neretse extradition. 

On the complaint of Belgian Martine Beckers, sister of Claire Beckers who was murdered with her Rwanda husband Bucyana and daughter Katia in Kigali in 1994, Judge Jean Coumans issued a separate European arrest warrant against Fabien for the death of Claire Beckers and her family on June 24, 2011.

The French authorities arrested Neretse on June 29, 2011 and handed him over two months later to Belgium where the criminal investigations were at a more advanced stage. He was remanded in custody and subsequently released.

Martine Beckers kept pushing for justice and Neretse was summoned to appear before the Belgian Council Chamber on June 29, 2017 and the Federal Prosecutor asked for the correctionalization of Neretse case with cases of other two Rwandan men Ernest Gakwaya and Emmanuel Nkunduwimye who are also accused of genocide. The correctionalization of cases was rejected on October 20, 2017, setting Fabien Neretse on a separate trial.

Neretse trial opened on November 4, 2019 with the vote of 24 jury members including 12 who try the case and their replacements.  The hearings started on November 7 and took six weeks during which over 100 witnesses testified and more testimonies of the people who died after testifying during the 2011 investigations were read in the court.

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