AGOA and the Emerging African Market
July 13, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Witney Schneidman *
When President Clinton signed the African Growth and Opportunity Act into law in 2000, he ushered in a new era of relations between the U.S. and the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.
As a result of AGOA, the U.S. engagement on the continent is no longer solely predicated on a donor-recipient relationship, but increasingly one of mutual benefit and gain. Under AGOA, the U.S. became the first country to use trade as a stimulus for economic development and in doing so laid the groundwork for genuine win-win partnerships.
Twelve years later, AGOA continues to be the cornerstone of U.S.-African relations. Forty countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are eligible for AGOA benefits, and 6 of these countries are among the world’s 10 fastest growing economies.
Between 2000 and 2011, AGOA exports from Africa to the U.S. have increased over 500 percent to $53.8 billion. This has resulted in the creation of more than an estimated 300,000 new jobs in Africa, and another 1.5 million indirect jobs that, together, benefit approximately 10 million people. This non-reciprocal trade initiative has contributed to improved political and economic governance in Africa while also being one of the most cost-effective development initiatives the U.S. has undertaken.
At the same time, both the U.S. and African governments have to redouble their efforts to ensure that AGOA’s potential is being fully utilized. While the number of countries exporting non-energy products to the U.S. has doubled over the last ten years, only about 10 percent of AGOA’s 6400 product lines are being utilized.
AGOA is set to expire in 2015 but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk have committed the Obama Administration to a “seamless extension” of the legislation. Most immediately, Congress needs to extend the third country fabric provision, now scheduled to expire on September 30, which enables apparel to enter the US on a cost-competitive basis.
Legislative certainty is one reason that AGOA should be extended for 10 years, until 2025. Not only would this provide the groundwork for a deeper commercial relationship with African nations but it would help American companies become more competitive in the region. In fact, it is beginning to happen. U.S. exports to Africa were up 20 percent between 2010 and 2011 to $21.2 billion. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, this has supported or created more than 100,000 jobs in the U.S.
With the emergence of Africa’s middle class, similar in size to that of India’s, there is a new commercial vibrancy across the continent, as noted recently by the McKinsey
Global Institute. India, Brazil, Turkey and, of course, China have intensified their commercial relationships with many countries on the continent, providing Africa with a proliferation of commercial partners. At the same time, the Obama Administration’s push to double exports under the National Export Initiative suggests that the African market will increase in importance to the U.S.
AGOA, therefore, is a critical building block for deeper trade and investment ties between the U.S. and Africa. The challenge for all stakeholders is to move forward expeditiously not only to deepen the commercial ties but to do so in a way that generates sustainable and mutual benefits.
* Witney Schneidman is a nonresident fellow at the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution and president of Schneidman & Associates International. He also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs in the Clinton Administration.Article culled from http://clintonfoundation.org
Defense Min.: Liberia is not Prepared to Unravel “Umbilical Cord” with AFRICOM
July 11, 2012 | 0 Comments
Liberia’s Defense Minister, Brownie J. Samukai, Jr., says Liberia is not prepared to un-tie what he calls the umbilical cord with the US-Africa Command, AFRICOM. According to the Defense Minister, the presence of AFRICOM’s engagement in Liberia will help in maintaining a tacit guarantee of security in Liberia over at least a three-election period.
For the purpose of cooperative security location, the Minister availed a request leading to Liberia being considered for future exercises being conducted by AFRICOM in other parts of Africa. He further proffered the need for AFRICOM’s support in setting up an institutionalized training program in Liberia for continuous capability development of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
Minister Samukai, on behalf of Commander-in-Chief President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, brought to scale AFRICOM’s immeasurable support to the rebuilding efforts of the Liberian Defense Sector through engagements at the level of Operation Onward Liberty (OOL), the African Endeavor, the African Partnership Event, the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, among others.
Minister Samukai made these remarks at the Kelley Barracks, Headquarters of AFRICOM in Stuttgart, Germany where he and his delegation held strategic discussions on Liberia’s Defense Sector Reform. During a Command Brief, AFRICOM’s Deputy Director of Programs Mr. James Hart highlighted that as its mission, the U.S Africa Command (AFRICOM) seeks to protect and defend the national security interests of the United States by strengthening the defense capabilities of African States and regional organizations, and when directed, conducts military operations, in order to deter and defeat transnational threats and to provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development.
For his part, the Commander of the U.S. Africa Command, General carter F. Ham laude the Liberian Government and particularly the Defense Authority for the great task of raising the current quality of army. According to General Ham, there is a growing recognition of Liberia-US interest which is closely aligned.
He assured Minister Samukai that AFRICOM’s relationship with Liberia is still strong and will be further stronger in the coming years for the benefit of both countries. Speaking further, the Director of Programs(J5) at AFRICOM, Major General Charles Hooper noted , “Commitment from AFRICOM to AFL is enduring based on mutual trust and confidence, adding, we will not walk away from Liberia because to do so will not only be morally wrong but also strategically incorrect.”
*Culled from http://www.news.heritageliberia.net/
U.S. Department of State Announces Soccer Envoy Program in Ethiopia
July 11, 2012 | 0 Comments
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and US Soccer announced today that they will send Tony Sanneh and Kate Markgraf to Ethiopia July 11-15, 2012. Former men’s national team member and Major League Soccer (MLS) player Sanneh and former women’s national team member Markgraf will participate in a U.S. government exchange program that brings people together for greater understanding through sports.
The envoys will be at work in the eastern Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa, where they will head the soccer portion of a four-day Youth Culture, Sport and Friendship Camp sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa. This camp, organized together with the Ethio-Italy Technical College, The Dire Dawa Mayor’s Office, The Dire Dawa Sports Commission and the Dire Dawa Police Commission, is aimed at exchanging cultural traditions and promoting healthy living through sport and education. The envoys will work with young men and women, ages 13 – 20.
Sport Envoys are current and retired professional athletes and coaches from a range of sports that travel overseas to conduct drills, lead teambuilding sessions, and engage youth in a dialogue on the importance of education, health, and respect for diversity. In partnership with SportsUnited, US Soccer players, coaches and administrators have visited over 18 countries since 2006. The athletes have offered soccer clinics for thousands of boys, girls, and coaches.
SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ premier sports exchange program at the U.S. Department of State. Athletes and coaches from a range of sports are chosen to conduct clinics, visit schools, and engage with youth overseas in a dialogue on the importance of an education, positive health practices, and respect for diversity. Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought nearly 1,000 athletes from over 60 countries to the U.S. to participate in Sport Visitor programs. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent over 220 U.S. athletes to more than 50 countries to participate in Sport Envoy programs.
Brazil competes with China, India to invest in Africa
July 10, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Teo Kermeliotis, for CNN
(CNN) — Brazil has intensified its efforts to forge closer relations with Africa recently, as the sixth largest economy in the world tries to compete with other emerging giants like China and India to take a more central role in the resource-rich continent.
Last month, Brazil’s top investment bank BTG Pactual unveiled plans to raise $1 billion to create the world’s biggest investment fund for Africa, focusing on areas such as infrastructure, energy and agriculture.
The independent bank’s fund, which comes amid a government drive to establish a strategic partnership with Africa, is one of the latest moves signaling Brazil’s increasing interest to extend its economic footprint on the continent — trade between Brazil and Africa jumped from around $4 billion in 2000 to about $20 billion in 2010.
“It does represent a turning point where a lot of these investors and these entities for investments are recognizing that Africa is indeed the last frontier for growth,” says Lyal White, director of the Centre for Dynamic Markets at the Gordon Institute for Business Science in South Africa.
An unprecedented decade of economic growth in Africa, coupled with a series of policy and institutional reforms, has attracted emerging global powers into the continent, seeking to gain a stronger foothold in the continent in their bid to reach more markets and forge new political alliances.
Brazil has kind of been operating under the radar, it is not seen necessarily as one of those kind of players.
Markus Weimer, Chatham House
But while much has been said and written about China’s and India’s strides in Africa, Brazil’s African foray has garnered less attention.
“Brazil has kind of been operating under the radar, it is not seen necessarily as one of those kind of players [China and India],” says Markus Weimer, research fellow in the Africa Program at Chatham House. “The stories of Brazil with Africa have also been less contentious — you’ve heard stories from Zambia about miners being mistreated by their Chinese bosses but you don’t hear from Mozambique or Angola when it comes to Brazilian companies.”
Using Portuguese-speaking countries like Angola and Mozambique as an entry point to the continent, Brazil’s state and private companies have made big inroads in various parts the continent, operating mostly in strategic sectors such as infrastructure, mining and energy — last year, mining giant Vale announced plans to spend more than £12 billion on investments in Africa over the next five years.
But while Brazil, like China, seems to be deeply engaged with the African resource sector, some analysts say its strategy and interests are quite distinct from its resource-hungry BRICS partner.
“Being a resource-rich country and a future major oil exporter itself, Brazil is not pursuing a strategy to secure resources,” says Christina Stolte, research at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies.
“Rather, the South American economy is seeing Africa as a means of diversifying its export markets — for food, seeds, agricultural machinery — and internationalizing the production of its big companies — Petrobras in the oil and biofuels business, Vale in the mining business.”
Although separated by the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil and Africa have long historical and cultural ties, dating back to the days of slave trade in the 16th century, where scores of Africans where shipped to the former Portuguese colony to be exploited as slaves on the sugar cane plantations.
Today, Brazil is quick to use this cultural affinity with Africa as an advantage in its competition with the other powers acting on the continent, analysts say.
“The fact that the majority of Brazil’s population is of Afro-Brazilian origin — making Brazil the world’s largest black population after Nigeria — is frequently quoted by the, almost exclusively white, governing elite of Brazil in order to stress Brazil’s cultural similarities with the African countries,” says Stolte.
Such remarks could often be heard during the 2003-2010 presidency of Lula da Silva, who made Africa a strategic priority for Brazil as part of the country’s efforts to expand its global influence.
During his eight-year tenure, Lula made 12 trips to Africa, visiting 21 countries, more than any of his predecessors. At the same time, Brazil increased the number of its embassies in Africa from 17 in 2002 to 37, boasting today more embassies in the continent than the United Kingdom.
The South American economy is seeing Africa as a means of diversifying its export markets.
Christina Stolte, GIGA
Brazil’s deepening engagement with Africa has also continued under the leadership of Dilma Rousseff, who became president of Brazil in January 2011 — in her first year in office, Rousseff visited Angola, Mozambique, and South Africa.
Analysts say Brazil has adopted a three-pronged approach to its engagement with Africa, with an “almost seamless interaction” between the government, the private sector and development institutions.
“This all kind of comes together as one coherent strategy toward Africa from Brazil,” says White.
Brazilian companies seeking to do business in the continent tend to hire and train local workforce and offer social projects to foster home-grown development — in Angola, Brazilian construction company Odebrecht has become the largest private employer in the country.
In recent decades, Brazil has gone from being a net importer of food to one of the world’s biggest exporters of agricultural and food products. More recently, Brazil’s per capita income rose an average of 1.8% faster than its GDP in 2003-09, according to a World Bank report.
As a result, Brazil’s domestic development experience and success in narrowing social inequality have attracted attention from several African countries who are keen to replicate some of its programs.
Analysts say Brazil is keen to leverage its advanced technological know-how in helping African countries in areas that are key to the continent’s development, including tropical agriculture and disease fighting.
“Brazil therefore sees itself as partner for African countries that is able to offer successful strategies to fight the continent’s most pending problems such as hunger and AIDS,” says Stolte.
*Courtesy of http:edition.cnn.com
Sullivan Summit IX to Host the Global Youth Innovation Network Forum in Equatorial Guinea, Creating Economic Opportunities for Young Entrepreneurs and Leaders
July 7, 2012 | 0 Comments
Washington D.C., July 6th, 2012 – In response to the youth-led Arab Spring, African Heads of State have accelerated the 2009-2018 “Decade of Youth Action Plan” at the African Union 2011 Summit, which was held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. With high youth unemployment seen as an impending threat to stability in Africa (AU, 2011), solutions to create opportunity are highly regarded and welcomed by African Statesmen.
In that perspective, the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation in conjunction with Phelps Stokes, the global education and leadership advocacy organization, will host the Global Youth Innovation Network Forum during the 9th Sullivan Summit, from August 20-24, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
The Forum, through the integration of the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) will convene more than 60 young entrepreneurs and leaders from over 30 countries to share practices to develop evidence-based, sustainable, and cost-effective entrepreneurship and leadership programs and policies that address the root causes of African youth unemployment while increasing the opportunities of young people to obtain jobs and start successful businesses.
The Leon H. Sullivan Foundation and Phelps Stokes, in partnership with the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) commit to lift 5000 youth from around the world out of poverty by 2015. The goal will be achieved through leadership and entrepreneurship training, workforce development, funding, and exposure to business prospects as well as small to medium-scale businesses.
“Investing in young people is key to enhancing agricultural productivity and food security, boosting economies and reducing rural-to-urban migration in Africa… youth have enormous potential for the innovation and risk-taking that is often at the core of growth and development, particularly in agriculture,” said Pape Samb, CEO of Phelps Stokes.
The 9th Leon H. Sullivan Summit will attract more than 4,000 participants from the United States, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, and will address matters related to Food Security, Agricultural Sustainability, Human Rights, Trade and Regional Integration and Youth Employment. More than 150 organizations and governments are expected to attend the 9th Leon Sullivan Summit and invest in young entrepreneurs so that they can improve their lives, contribute to their communities, and become successful professionals..
“The continent’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow, and only by creating a platform in which they can adequately engage, inspire and enrich others, will they be able to create social and economic dynamism necessary for Africa to truly experience its rise as a global economic player,” stated Ms. Hope Sullivan Masters, President and CEO of the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation.
More information can be found at www.sullivansummit.org
Mandela daughter Zenani appointed Argentina Ambassador
July 5, 2012 | 0 Comments
The daughter of South African anti-apartheid fighter Nelson Mandela has been appointed ambassador to Argentina, the South American nation has said.
Zenani Mandela-Dlamini is the oldest daughter from the former president’s marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Argentina said her appointment represented the importance South Africa attached to their relationship.
Ms Mandela-Dlamini, 53, was a child when her father was imprisoned for 27 years by the white minority government.
She was not allowed to visit him in jail until she was 16 years old, the Associated Press news agency reports.
A graduate of the University of Boston, Ms Mandela-Dlamini was once married to a Swazi prince.
Mr Mandela became South Africa’s first black and democratically elected president in 1994, stepping down after one term in office.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who turns 94 this month, retired from public life eight years ago – his last public appearance was at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
“During the presidency of Nelson Mandela, recognised as a global figure for his fight against apartheid and for human rights, Zenani Dlamini accompanied her father to act as first lady of her country,” Reuters news agency quotes a statement from Argentina’s foreign ministry as saying.
According to the AFP news agency, bilateral trade between South Africa and Argentina is worth about $1.3bn (£830m).
*Culled From BBC Africa
Apps4Africa: Winners in Southern Africa Contest
July 4, 2012 | 0 Comments
The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce the Southern Africa winners of the Apps4Africa: Climate Challenge, a regional competition to address local climate change challenges through the development of web-based and mobile applications. Marieme Jamme, CEO of private sector partner SpotOne Global Solutions, announced the winners on June 15 at the annual Africa Gathering event in London, England.
First place was awarded to MyHealth, a mobile application developed by a team from Botswana. MyHealth provides climate information, early warning alerts, and health monitoring features to its users to help them adapt to shifting patterns of disease and other health emergencies as the climate changes. Second place was awarded to Service Anti-Cyclone, which alerts users in Madagascar to pending cyclones, and collects data on cyclone patterns and impacts, including injuries, deaths, and property damage caused by storms. The application will also provide information to help communities prepare for future cyclones. Third place was awarded to unsApp, a web forum for improving food security in Zimbabwe where users can access climate change information and adaptive management techniques that match the needs and customs of their communities.
Through programs such as Apps4Africa and the global Adaptation Partnership, the United States is working with partners to bring together practitioners, policy-makers, and African technology innovators in order to highlight country-driven solutions to climate change adaptation in Africa.
The Apps4Africa: Climate Challenge consisted of three African regional competitions. Winners from the West and Central Africa contest were announced in December, and winners from the East Africa competition were announced in January. These contests built on the outcomes of regional climate change adaptation workshops organized by the Adaptation Partnership, which includes the United States and more than 20 other countries.
Winners will receive cash prizes. Private partners, including TED and Indigo Trust, are contributing follow-on support.
For more information please visit http://apps4africa.org.
U.S. Committed to Expanding Trade and Investment with Africa
July 4, 2012 | 0 Comments
By MacKenzie C. Babb*
Washington — The United States is committed to continuing to expand trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that “represents the next global economic frontier,” according to Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.
“In addition to hosting six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, a recent McKinsey study documented that Africa offers the highest rate of return on foreign investment of any developing region, and has for some time,” Carson said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa June 28.
He said consumer spending also continues to rise, and 43 percent of Africans currently have discretionary income, or could be considered middle-class consumers.
“Over the past decade, Africa’s growth was widespread across sectors including wholesale and retail trade, transportation, telecommunications and including manufacturing,” Carson said. “Foreign direct investment, or FDI, in Africa has also seen tremendous growth.” FDI projects in Africa have more than doubled from 339 in 2003 to 857 in 2011, according to Carson, with inter-African investment growing sharply from 27 projects in 2003 to 145 in 2011.
Combined with natural resource exports that have continued to generate significant revenues, Carson said, this steady growth has helped Africa to weather the global economic crisis more successfully than any other region in the world.
“In short, Africa is a trade and investment destination that cannot be ignored,” the assistant secretary said. “This is a continent on the move, and there are enormous opportunities for U.S. companies to enter the market, make money and create jobs” for both Americans and Africans.
“Greater U.S.-Africa trade is in the interests of both America and Africa, and we are determined to work to strengthen it,” Carson said.
Earl Gast, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistant administrator for Africa, said in testimony following Carson that foreign direct investment is approaching $80 billion a year and trade figures have tripled during the past decade.
“This fortune is not the result of good luck,” he said. “It’s the result of years of hard work and better management, governance, capital inflows and business climate.”
To translate this growth into transformational development in poverty reduction, Gast said, President Obama’s recently unveiled strategy for engaging with Africa promotes opportunity and development while spurring economic growth, trade and investment.
The cornerstone of U.S. engagement with Africa will continue to be the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), he said.
“Since 2001, exports under AGOA have increased more than 500 percent, and the African Coalition on Trade estimates that as many as 1.3 million jobs have been created indirectly by AGOA, supporting upwards of 10 million persons throughout the continent,” Gast said. He added that many of these jobs are held by women, “a vital building block for development given that African women are more likely to invest job-related income into food security, health and education of their families.”
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa Florizelle Liser said Obama’s new strategy intends to “encourage economic growth, enhance trade and investment, support more jobs in the United States and help realize the full potential of the U.S.-sub-Saharan African economic partnership.”
The strategy was unveiled at the start of the June 14–15 AGOA Forum in Washington.
The 2012 forum brought together more than 600 participants, including top U.S. and African government officials, private-sector leaders and civil society representatives. It was preceded by a two-day civil society program June 12–13 in Washington and complemented by the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. The Corporate Council on Africa hosted its infrastructure conference June 18–20 in Washington, and the U.S.-Africa Business Conference was held in Cincinnati June 21–22.
AGOA, signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in 2000, was designed to promote U.S. trade and investment ties with sub-Saharan Africa. It provides trade preferences to the 40 participating African countries through the removal of nearly all tariffs on their exports. It has broken down many trade and customs barriers in an effort to stimulate economic growth, encourage economic integration and help bring sub-Saharan Africa into the global economy.
Carson, Gast and Liser each emphasized the importance of the pivotal economic development program, and said Obama’s new Africa strategy keeps AGOA at the heart of U.S. engagement with Africa.
Africa: What Does China Want in Africa?
June 19, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Oscar Kimanuka,*
Recent stories about China’s growing interest in Africa are worth commenting on. For China, Africa is a source of cheap coal and oil, two vitally important resources for its energy needs. As for African states, China is the ideal commercial partner that seldom slaps special political pre-conditions upon its readily available suppliers, and regularly gives the continent diplomatic backing. According to Dr Tom Barnett, in his article “Why China matters”, “China’s entry to the world was globalisation’s tipping point. After this, there is only further integration or war”. That sounds pretty ominous! And there is also the speculation that it is unlikely that an economic Cold War with China would work without escalating into a conventional conflict.
However, the Sino-African growing relations are in direct conflict with the interests of the Unites States, which is also seriously concerned with the challenge of diversifying the sources of its oil imports. What Africa needs to learn is to put forward its vital interests and avoid continuing to be a damping ground of second rate products and source of cheap vital raw materials, as time has always shown.
China’s development record and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) have appealed to many African governments who believe that this is in line with their development agenda. There are, however, complaints from countries such as Ghana and South Africa against what they have called “negative impact of China’s imports”.
While the Western donor nations continue asking uncomfortable questions with regard to Africa’s transparency, accountability, human rights and economic openness, China is willing to cut deals, and ask no such questions.
It will be recalled that Beijing’s relations with Africa have had a long history dating close to six centuries when explorers set sail from Asia across the Indian Ocean. However, in more recent times and particularly during the Cold War era, Beijing is said to have lined up supporters of its well known “One China” Policy on Taiwan by using aid as a carrot. And this worked well. China has many times played the empathy card, telling developing countries, particularly those in Africa, that it is no stranger to poverty. African leaders have had no room for manoeuvre because Western donor countries, euphemistically, called development partners, dictate free trade, open markets and privatisation, all of which are not done with levelled ground rules.
China’s aid to Africa has, therefore, come at an opportune moment when economic growth in much of the continent remains largely stagnant and Western donor aid increasingly tied.
The number of Chinese companies operating in Africa today is testimony to the seriousness with which it is moving into the continent. For instance, by 2004, according to Stephen Marks, there were nearly 700 Chinese companies operating in about 49 African countries. Today the figure has increased to nearly 900.
The low interest loans at non-commercial rates, extended to African countries, have been rewarded with diplomatic support from the continent at the United Nations. Besides economic interests, China has, since 1963, sent over 15,000 of its doctors in about 47 countries to treat nearly 180 million of HIV/Aids and other infectious diseases.
China’s preference for technical support over financial aid to African countries arises from the fact that financial aid stretches resources and diverts capital from significant needs back home.
While some politicians in the Western world would want to view Africa as a moral cause, China would rather see Africa as a business opportunity. From the resurrection of a number of hitherto failed projects such as Zambia’s copper mines and new oil deals and other ventures concluded during previous visits by Chinese leaders, it seems that Africa’s door has been kicked wide open and Beijing is becoming a heavy weight investor and serious political player.
Whichever way one looks at it, for us in Africa, China’s emergence as a global power could help us break free of our bitter colonial past as we absorb its investments. From the Chinese textile merchants in Lesotho, Chinese tourists in Zimbabwe, Chinese road builders in Ethiopia, Chinese geologists in Sudan and elsewhere, the evidence of Chinese presence in Africa is no longer a matter of debate. Whether or not Africa is caring about its own interest is another question.
*Culled From The New Times
Introducing The African Kingdoms &Empires Theme Park or “Heritage City”
June 19, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Shanda Washington*
Despite its immense potential, Africa is grossly misunderstood by many across the world. Talk about Africa and based on the image that comes to many minds is one of misery, of disease, of illiteracy, of wars, famine, poverty and other negative labels used by the western media to brand the continent. Yet this is a continent described by US Under Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson as the last biggest emerging market in the world. It is home to some 54 countries or so I believe, it is a billion man strong markets; it has vast resources some of which are not found anywhere else in the world. Because of these resources, global powers are now making a mad rush for Africa. Beyond the vast scramble for resources that salivates predatory appetites, lies historic realities that the world is ignorant about or refuses to come to terms with. Africa is the continent where civilization started, it is the continent that is home to humanity, it is a continent that has some of the best cultures in the world, it a continent with some of the biggest empires that the world ever knew. It is partly in a bid to help immortalize the historical realities of Africa that the African Kingdoms Empires theme or “Heritage City was conceived.
Heritage city is designed to showcase Africa’s rich history, enhanced with modern technology to produce a total experience in learning, entertainment and relaxation for tourists and visitors. Heritage city represents the best initiative till date to present all of Africa’s diverse culture and history to tourists and visitors in one spot. By its existence, it is hoped that Heritage City will attract wide range of tourists from all over the world. For many African Americans who yearn to know more about their roots, the City offers a unique opportunity to get a healthy feel of Africa’s rich heritage presented in the best possible form with a dose of modernity.
The African Kingdoms and Empires Theme Park or “Heritage City”, is an idea conceived by a very good friend of mine Ekwo Omakwu, when Ekwo showed me the business plan way back in 2000, I knew I had found my life’s calling. Through lots of research, we realized that Africa did not have anything like what we were trying to do. I did not know a lot about Africa, just what I had heard. After all, they don’t teach us about Africa in school. Although so many African Americans are still not very knowledgeable about Africa a lot of it is not their fault. We are constantly being bombarded with negative images about Africa. I can remember telling my friends and family about Heritage City. And a lot of the responses were “who’s going to go to a theme park in Africa?’ “Isn’t everyone over there poor?”
When someone says that everyone in Africa is poor, I have to remind them that Porsche just opened up its first dealership on Victoria Island in Lagos. That is not to diminish the problems that the Continent does have. But, we know that Heritage city will bring thousands of jobs and boost tourism. In Monrovia, Liberia Kendeja a resort, built by African American multimillionaire and Black Entertainment television founder Robert Johnson, is a five star resort. Kendeja is the first new hotel to be built in Liberia in a decade. Retail giants like Wal-Mart are searching for inroads n the continent. I think those are positive signs for Africa and shows that Africa has potential and that people are starting to notice and understand that Africa is really the future. I think as an African Americans we have to be more proactive in our engagement with the continent. Just as the investment of Robert Johnson in Liberia is a salutary initiative so too is the school opened by Oprah Winfrey in South Africa, so too is the work done by Actor Isaiah Washington in Sierra Leone with his Goondobay Foundation. The Heritage City idea falls in line with these kind of initiatives which should forge greater bonds between mother Africa and its Diaspora.
We hope to put together groups of people to take to the park. It is so important for people to see for themselves, that what they show us about Africa is not the truth. But overall, I do feel that people have been very positive about the park. We have a Facebook page that has almost 50,000 likes.
We believe that Heritage City can help dispel the myths about Africa. Heritage city will promote a greater understanding of Africa and will highlight Africa’s contribution to human civilization. By focusing more on Africa’s pre-slavery and pre-colonial era, the achievements of African people that have been otherwise obscured will be showcased at the theme park.
Abuja- Nigeria’s capital was chosen as the location for Heritage City because it is fast becoming a magnet city for the West African sub-region and for the rest of Africa. It is a new city with new infrastructure and space for continuous expansion. There are also a number of amazing rock formations, waterfalls, hills and valleys in Abuja and surrounding areas. It must not be forgotten that Nigeria is the giant of Africa. It is the leader in the continent with developments be there social, economic or security wise which impact the rest of the continent positively or negatively. It was therefore appropriate that Nigeria be chosen to host this first of its kind project.
Heritage City Project is championed by Heritage City Parks Limited-a private development company based in Abuja, Nigeria. The project funding and planning was packaged
by the Washington; DC based US-Africa Technology Council, Inc. The project concept was developed since 2002 but administrative bottle-necks on the part of the Nigerian city government have since delayed the approval of a site for the project and its initial take-off in 2006.Nigeria is currently not known as a popular tourist destination. The promoters of Heritage City hope all that will change when Heritage City opens in 2013. The Heritage City Project stands to gain tremendously on an annual basis from a large influx of international tourists including African Americans, citizens of the Caribbean, and also indigenous Africans themselves who will be interested in learning more about their heritage in an atmosphere that is tranquil, relaxing and entertaining. The African Kingdoms and Empires Theme Park will promote Africa’s rich cultural heritage by focusing on the historical dimensions that shaped that heritage.
*Shanda Washington is the project assistant for Heritage city, and social media PR she can be reached at email@example.com ,cell phone 202-369-7170 .website www.heritagecitypark.com, Facebook page African heritage city.
The Dilemma at the Heart of America’s Approach to Africa
June 19, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Howard W. French*
JUBA, South Sudan — In an extraordinary pair of articles published this week, The Washington Post has filled in the picture of how the U.S. military and intelligence establishment have worked to create a network of a dozen or so air bases for spying purposes across Africa. What is most remarkable about the articles are not the details themselves, which involve small, specially equipped turboprop aircraft flying surveillance missions out of remote airfields in the Sahel and in equatorial East Africa.
What stands out most about the articles, instead, is the way that this news has cast the African continent as a place where serious American interests are at play. Such things are all too rare for the mainstream media, which typically chronicles African political upheaval, violence and suffering as distant and almost random incidents or miscellany with little connection to life outside of the continent.
The Africa of our day-to-day coverage is dominated, in other words, by vivid splashes of color, by scene and emotion, and it is largely bereft of form or of pattern, and of politics and ideas that could help connect one development to another or connect the whole to the rest of the world. Some of this may be changing slowly with the recent sharp rise of China’s profile throughout the continent, which has drawn a belated response from a United States suddenly eager to avoid seeing the continent be snatched away from the West, as some fear.
The Post pieces were ultimately as remarkable for what they didn’t say as what they did, though. And in this regard, they highlight the need for the media to hold the actions of the Unites States up against its rhetoric, much as it is wont to do with regard to China, whose rote-like discourse on Africa emphasizes terms like “win-win,” and “non-interference,” etc.
By helpful coincidence, the Post‘s stories, which detail the ongoing militarization of Washington’s policies toward Africa, were published at the very same time that the Obama Administration was unveiling its purportedly new strategy toward the continent.
The leading messenger for this was Hillary Clinton, whose talk yesterday about economic opportunity for American businesses in Africa was as welcome as it was overdue. As a spate of recent articles has made clear, she spoke of the Africa as a place of strong economic growth and the continent with the highest returns on investment. It is precisely Chinese firms’ awareness of this that has been driving them, and hundreds of thousands of Chinese migrants, to Africa in recent years in search of opportunity.
In policy briefings for the press, however, and in Clinton’s own statements, the promotion of democracy was given pride of place in a new American agenda for Africa, and this is where the rub comes between rhetoric and reality.
The Post piece reveals that the key American allies in Washington’s military and intelligence push are the leaders of Burkina Faso in West Africa and Uganda in East Africa. These two men, Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, have been in office respectively for 25 and 26 years. Both took power by force. Both have resisted real democratization in their countries. And both have been prolific and mischievous meddlers in neighboring countries, where their adventures have sown death and havoc, routinely employed child soldiers, and have involved lucrative arms trafficking as well as the organized pillage of natural resources either for their own benefit or for allies within their regimes.
Another American ally, this one emerging, as described by the Washington Post, is the year-old state of South Sudan, a country that Clinton described as a “success.” That will come as a surprise to many of the people here, whose own president has recently acknowledged the looting of $4 billion by his own associates from state coffers.
If Washington wishes to be taken seriously by Africans it has as much work to do as China in squaring words and deeds. Yesterday, the White House said its new policy commits the United States to advance democracy by “strengthening institutions at every level, supporting and building upon the aspirations throughout the continent for more open and accountable governance, promoting human rights and the rule of law, and challenging leaders whose actions threaten the credibility of democratic processes.”
One of the biggest impediments to the continent’s emergence, however, is the very existence of leaders like Compaoré and Museveni, who come to see themselves as irreplaceable, confusing their own persons with the state and seeking to remain in power indefinitely.
If Washington genuinely wishes to prioritize democracy in Africa, it might wish to privilege relations with the already substantial and growing number of states that are governed more democratically than places like these. For old friends like Museveni and newer ones like Compaoré, meanwhile, it is time to reexamine the question of what friendship is for and to ask whom does it really benefit?
If, on the other hand, American policy is really about fighting an endless succession of enemies, which is what seems to drive the security agenda that the Post has so usefully lifted the veil on, then candor should require admitting that building democracy is really important only when it is convenient.
*Culled from Howard W. French is the author of A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa and as a fellow for the Open Society Foundations, a forthcoming book on China’s relationship with Africa. He teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is a former senior writer and foreign correspondent for the New York Times. More
China to keep an open mind about cooperation with US in Africa
June 19, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Cui Haipei (China Daily)
China said on Friday that it will keep an open mind about discussions with the United States on cooperation in Africa. The remarks came after the White House unveiled a new strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa, with US President Barack Obama predicting that Africa will be “the world’s next major economic success story”.
“China and the US are both important cooperative partners of Africa, with respective characteristics and advantages,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a regular news briefing.
Saying that Africa’s peace and stability concerns the prosperity and stability of the world, the spokesman stressed that the will of African countries should be respected and that cooperation should be based on the principles of equality and reciprocity.
The US strategy, outlined on Thursday, sets forth four strategic objectives in the region – to strengthen democratic institutions; spur economic growth, trade and investment; advance peace and security; and promote opportunity and development.
Calling support for democracy in Africa “critical to US interests” and “a fundamental component” of American leadership abroad, the blueprint said it is in the interest of the US to improve the region’s trade competitiveness and encourage the diversification of exports beyond natural resources.
Currently African countries face both new opportunities and difficulties, Liu said, calling on developed economies, including the US, to make positive contributions to Africa’s peace, stability and development. “They should respect the will of Africa, take Africa’s concerns into consideration and actively fulfill their commitment of assistance,” Liu said.
Acknowledging that only Africa’s governments and people can resolve the security challenges and internal divisions that have plagued the continent, the strategy envisions “a positive difference” that can be made by US involvement.
This report shows that the US is integrating Obama’s economic and military policies into a new overall strategy for Africa, said Yang Lihua, a researcher in African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
She said US investment in Africa is not dominant when compared with China, and the US needs to further increase its input to reverse this position.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s poorest region, Yang said. Infrastructure and power are potential areas in which China and the US could cooperate on that continent since the shortages are significant obstacles to economic development.
The US military is expanding its secret intelligence operations across Africa, establishing a network of small air bases to spy on terrorist hideouts, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Yang said the US has long sought to set its African military headquarters in the region and expanded its military presence in Africa to fight terrorism and dispel instabilities.
“But whether this goal can be reached depends on the attitude of the African Union, because African countries are generally wary of the interference of foreign military forces,” she said.
The effort spans from the fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrains along the equator, the report said, noting that operations had intensified in recent months as part of a growing war against al-Qaida affiliates and other militant groups.
“As we look toward the future, it is clear that Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and to the United States in particular,” Obama wrote in the prelude to the new strategy.
“Africa’s economies are among the fastest-growing in the world, with technological change sweeping across the continent and offering tremendous opportunities in banking, medicine, politics and business,” he said.
Obama, the first African-American president of the US, went to Ghana on an official visit in July 2009.
Xinhua contributed to this story.
*Culled from http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn