Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed: Debt Cancellation for the World to Survive
May 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Lawrence Freeman *
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has made an audacious salient call for debt cancellation for low income countries. It was published in the Opinion section of the April 30, New York Times, Why the Global Debt of Poor Nations Must Be Canceled, (printed in full below). PM Abiy is correct, debt cancellation is absolutely necessary to save lives and for developing nations to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. To compel a nation like Ethiopia to spend almost half of its revenue on debt service, while its people are suffering from a perfect storm of Desert Locust swarms, food insufficiency, and a weak healthcare infrastructure, is immoral if not criminal. PM Abiy wrote:
“At the very least, the suspension of debt payments should last not just until the end of 2020 but rather until well after the pandemic is truly over. It should involve not just debt suspension but debt cancellation…
“These steps need to be taken with a sense of urgency. The resources freed up will save lives and livelihoods in the short term, bring back hope and dynamism to low-income economies in the medium term and enable them to continue as the engines of sustainable global prosperity in the long term.
“In 2019, 64 countries, nearly half of them in sub-Saharan Africa, spent more on servicing external debt than on health. Ethiopia spends twice as much on paying off external debt as on health. We spend 47 percent of our merchandise export revenue on debt servicing…
“The dilemma Ethiopia faces is stark: Do we continue to pay toward debt or redirect resources to save lives and livelihoods?”
PM Abiy’s analysis of the urgent need for the cancellation of debt service is relevant to the exacerbating effect of COVID-19 in Africa’s rising food insecurity.
COVID-19 Worsens Food Crisis
In the month from March 30 to April 30, COVID-19 cases in Africa rose from 4,760 to 37,296-800% increase, and the total of deaths from 146 to 1,619-1,100% increase. Experts are legitimately concerned, that millions more may die from hunger and poverty as a result of the needed efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Closing borders, stay at home orders, loss of income, interruption of supply chains, and disruption of traditional animal migration cycles inauspiciously contribute to amplifying food insecurity.
“If the pandemic worsens, as many as 50 million more people could face a food crisis in the [Sahel} region,” according to Coumba Sow, Food and Agricultural Organization Resilience Coordinator for West Africa in her interview: FAO: COVID19: 50 Million in Sahel Could Face Food Crisis. Coumba Sow reports that across West Africa, 11 million people need immediate food assistance and that this number could rise to 17 million in the period from June to August. She says that it is “crucial to anticipate COVID-19’s impacts on agriculture, food security and the lives of vulnerable women and children. Ensuring that food systems and food supply chains are maintained is one of the most important action to take at national and regional levels.”
The World Food Programme (WFP) projects that the number of people facing acute food insecurity could rise from 135 million to 265 million in 2020 as a result of COVID-19. According to the WFP, five of the countries that had the worst food crisis in 2019 were located in Africa; Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Arif Husain, economist for the WFP said: “COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are hanging by a thread. It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat it they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock—like COVID-19 to push them over the edge.”
A New Financial Architecture Required
While debt cancellation is essential, international and federal mechanisms are required to issue i.e. create new lines of credit to build up nation-wide advanced healthcare infrastructure, which all African nations lack. This endeavor should be part of a much larger undertaking to place African nations on a path to become developed industrialized economies. I discuss the importance of emerging nations to generate physical economic wealth in my earlier article: World Needs New Economic Platform to Fight COVID-19. Trillions of dollars of new credit must become accessible for African nations to address the dearth of infrastructure in energy, roads, railroads, and healthcare, that is literally killing Africans, every day. Successful transformation of African nations requires an urgent focus on nurturing combined manufacturing-agricultural processing industries. Speaking at a Johns Hopkins webinar on April 22, Gyude Moore, former Liberian Minster of Public Works (2014-2018) emphasized that creating manufacturing jobs is essential to transitioning to a more developed economy.
What has been glaringly brought to the surface by the combined COVID-19 pandemic and the malnourishment of Africa’s population is; that the global economic-political system of the last five decades has failed. A new financial architecture is compulsory to save lives and put civilization on the trajectory of progress. This new financial architecture should encompass the following essential missions in Africa:
- Cancellation of debt
- New credit generation for physical economic growth
- Massive investment in hard infrastructure
- Urgent mobilization to establish modern health infrastructure
- Significant upgrading of manufacturing and agricultural sectors
It is unacceptable in the twenty-first century for every nation not to be equipped with advanced modern healthcare infrastructure. One of the most egregious defects of globalization is that nations have become dependent on imported food from thousands of miles away because it is somehow construed to be cheaper than producing food at home.
Nations exist to foster the continuation of a human culture moored to the conception that human life is sacred. There is no equivalency between servicing debt and safeguarding human life. Money really has no intrinsic value. Banks are mere servicing bureaus of an economy. Governments legitimately create credit to generate future physical wealth to benefit their citizens. When borrowing or lending arrangements fail to benefit society then they should be restructured or cancelled. Such financial reorganizations have been achieved many times throughout history.
PM Abiy has brought to the attention of the world, a profound underlying principle that should govern all national and international policy: the promotion of human life is supreme, monetary instruments are not.
Why the Global Debt of Poor Nations Must Be Canceled
Delaying the repayments to the Group of 20 is not enough.
By Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 2019
April 30, 2020, New York Times
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — On April 15, Group of 20 countries offered temporary relief to some of the world’s lowest-income countries by suspending debt repayments until the end of the year. It is a step in the right direction and provides an opportunity to redirect financial resources toward dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
But if the world is to survive the punishing fallout of the pandemic and ensure that the economies of countries like mine bounce back, this initiative needs to be even more ambitious.
At the very least, the suspension of debt payments should last not just until the end of 2020 but rather until well after the pandemic is truly over. It should involve not just debt suspension but debt cancellation. Global creditors need to waive both official bilateral and commercial debt for low-income countries.
These steps need to be taken with a sense of urgency. The resources freed up will save lives and livelihoods in the short term, bring back hope and dynamism to low-income economies in the medium term and enable them to continue as the engines of sustainable global prosperity in the long term.
In 2019, 64 countries, nearly half of them in sub-Saharan Africa, spent more on servicing external debt than on health. Ethiopia spends twice as much on paying off external debt as on health. We spend 47 percent of our merchandise export revenue on debt servicing. The International Monetary Fund described Ethiopia as being at high risk of external debt distress.
The dilemma Ethiopia faces is stark: Do we continue to pay toward debt or redirect resources to save lives and livelihoods? Lives lost during the pandemic cannot be recovered; imperiled livelihoods cost more and take longer to recover.
Immediate and forceful action on debt will prevent a humanitarian disaster today and shore up our economy for tomorrow. We need to immediately divert resources from servicing debt toward responding adequately to the pandemic. We need to impede a temporary health crisis from turning into a chronic financial meltdown that could last for years, even decades.
Ethiopia must spend an extra $3 billion by the end of 2020 to address the consequences of the pandemic, while our balance of payments is set to deteriorate. Increasing health care spending is essential, irrespective of debt levels, but we have less money on hand, and much of it is due to creditors.
A moratorium on bilateral and commercial debt payments for the rest of this year will save Ethiopia $1.7 billion. Extending the moratorium till the end of 2022 would save an additional $3.5 billion.
Low income countries can use the financial resources freed up by cancellation or further deferment of debt repayments to invest in our battle against the pandemic, from providing necessary medical care to our citizens to ameliorating our financial difficulties.
In October, the I.M.F. reported that the five fastest-growing economies in the world were in sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Ethiopia. In early April, the World Bank reported that sub-Saharan Africa would face its first region wide recession in over 25 years and the region’s economy could shrink by as much as 5.1 percent.
This is not a result of bad policies, mismanagement or any other ill typically associated with developing economies. The recession will be the product of the coronavirus outbreak.
Preventing or at least minimizing the recession is critical to maintaining years of hard-won economic gains across the continent. The current moratorium in bilateral debt collection until the end of the year will help, but it won’t be enough, given the gravity of the challenge we face.
The moratorium must be extended until the coronavirus health emergency is over or canceled altogether. The creditors need to do this unconditionally.
Official bilateral creditors are no longer the principal source of external debt financing for many developing countries. Private-sector creditors, including investment banks and sovereign funds, are. They should play their part in the effort to rescue African economies from permanent paralysis with a sense of solidarity and shared responsibility. It would help avoid widespread sovereign defaults and chaos in the market.
And it would be morally indefensible if resources freed up from a moratorium in bilateral debt collections were to be used to pay private creditors instead of saving lives.
Most of our countries managed to borrow funds on the back of solid economic performance and highly promising and evidence-based development programs and trajectories. Nobody foresaw this promise being derailed by a once-in-a-century event such as the coronavirus pandemic.
Under these circumstances, there is no room for traditional arguments such as moral hazard. Low-income countries are seeking relief not because we squandered the money but because we need the resources to save lives and livelihoods.
It is in everybody’s enlightened self-interest that the borrowers be allowed breathing space to get back to relative health. The benefits of rehabilitation of the economies of the hardest-hit countries will be shared by all of us, just as the consequences of neglect will harm all of us.
*Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com
It Is Time to Create Aggressive Market-Driven Policies That Spur Economic Growth
October 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
|The African Energy Chamber insisted on the need for fair regulations that are supportive of local industries whole encouraging international investments|
|CAPE TOWN, South Africa, October 10, 2019/ — The African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/) advocated for better regulatory frameworks, local content development, women empowerment and cross-border cooperation at the grand opening of Africa Oil & Power in Cape Town this week.|
Attended by hundreds of senior government officials and energy executives from across Africa and the world, the Africa Oil & Power Conference & Exhibition is seeking solutions to make energy work better for Africans and investors. It was opened by leading industry figures such as H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, H.E. Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé, Minister of Petroleum and Energies of Senegal, and Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and CEO of the Centurion Law Group.
Delivering the opening remarks, African Energy Chamber Executive Chairman Nj Ayuk addressed key issues facing the industry’s future, reminding the continent that it needs and must do better to provide energy and jobs to all Africans. “We are here at AOP not only to highlight success stories but also to have an honest conversation with each other on what needs to be done for our industry, and follow a roadmap to successful implementation on core issues such as regulations and local content policies, the empowerment of women, infrastructure development, cross-border cooperation and fiscal frameworks,” declared Nj Ayuk.
On the issue of regulations and the creation of a better enabling environment for investors and businesses, the African Energy Chamber insisted on the need for fair regulations that are supportive of local industries whole encouraging international investments. “Look to Ghana,” said Nj Ayuk. “The country has built an oil and gas regulatory framework from scratch and built a reputation for transparency and regulatory certainty. Its projects are getting off the drawing board and Ghana is already a serious African producer. Regulations have to be progressive, so what matters is to implement regulations that set the ground for the development of a sustainable, local content-oriented and jobs-creating industry.”
“On local content, look to Nigeria,” he added. “It has used its oil and gas as a jumping off point for overall economic development and building up domestic capacities from the ground up while providing the right opportunities for the establishment and growth of strong local companies across the value chain.”
At the core of the African Energy Chamber’s message was also a call to women empowerment across Africa’s energy industry. From creating strong educational and training programmes to implementing progressive policies in the workplace, the Chamber has advocated for better policies that provide women equal opportunities in the workplace and across the industry. “On woman empowerment, look to South Africa, which boasts some of the strongest leaders in Africa’s oil and gas sector,” declared Nj Ayuk. “Diversity will change our industry for the best and needs to be a priority.”
The African Energy Chamber closed its opening remarks on the issues of infrastructure development and cross-border cooperation. In many cases, a lack of infrastructure is severely holding back economic and social development, including a lack of roads, pipelines, ports and airports is stopping exploration and production in its tracks; and delaying the progress of otherwise economically viable progress. Meanwhile, cross-border cooperation is the key to unlocking the potential of the continent. “On cross-border cooperation, look to Senegal and Mauritania,” said Nj Ayuk. “They both have already shown Africa that putting its differences aside and working towards co-developing projects is beneficial for African economies and their people. The GTA project is a landmark project in that regard, and one that will profoundly impact the socio-economic development in both countries. The major step to encourage future such collaboration and projects is to simply keep the dialogue open and engage more.”
*Africa Energy Chamber
THE POLITICS OF MINISTERIAL APPOINTMENT AND SENATE’S SCREENING
August 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Omoshola Deji*
After several knocks and post-inaugural countdown by Nigerians and the media, President Muhammadu Buhari bowed to pressure. He sent 43 ministerial nominees name to the Senate for screening. This action relit the Buhari leadership competence debate. The Buhari apologists applaud the president for making such crucial nominations in almost two months of his second term; a radical improvement from the first term which took him six months. On the other hand, the opposition contends that Buhari’s ministerial nominees list is uninspiring and untimely. They knock Buhari for not imitating Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom who constituted their cabinets immediately after swearing-in.
Without further ado, the Buharists averred that the Nigerian political climate and workings is different from that of South Africa, the United Kingdom, or any other country. Weighing in, this piece examines the factors that influenced Buhari’s choice and the nominee’s capacity to accomplish the Next Level agenda. It also appraises the quality of Senate’s screening and the relevance of the bow-and-go tradition.
The Lucky 43
Most of the political heavyweights in Nigeria survive on politics. Subtract all they’ve acquired through politics from their asset and you’ll realize why they spare nothing to perpetuate themselves in power. Those who lose elections and those who’ve served their term lobby for appointments. The Minister position is the most sought after. Not many lobby to be Ambassadors. They refrain from residing outside the country in order not to lose their political relevance and structures.
The president’s declaration that he would appoint only those he knows sent shivers down the spine of the hundreds lobbying for ministerial appointment. Many of them have not more than a distant political relationship with the president, but they were not deterred. They all intensified their lobbying through the first lady, the party chairman, and powerful presidential aides, but only 43 got selected.
Facts from 43
The 43 nominees comprise of 36 males and 7 females. Buhari didn’t fulfil his promise of giving 35 percent appointments to women. The youths are not represented as all the nominees are above 35 years. Per geopolitical zone, Buhari nominated 9 persons from the North West, 7 from the North East; 7 from the North Central; 7 from the South West; 7 from the South South; and 6 from the South East. Note that four zones has 7 nominees each, while the Northwest and Southeast has the highest (9) and lowest (6) nominees. The southeasterners are displeased with the margin. They are upset that Buhari selected nominees based on the votes he garnered per region.
During the last presidential election, Buhari scored 5,995,651 votes in the Northwest and a meagre 403,968 votes in the Southeast. It is thus politically not irrational for the Northwest to get more appointment than the Southeast. Moreover, the Northwest is made up of 7 states while the Southeast has 5. Notwithstanding, Buhari’s antecedent suggests that he would have picked less than 7 nominees from the Southeast, if the constitution didn’t mandate him to appoint ministers from every state.
One state in each region has two nominees, except the region where Buhari hails from: the Northwest. Two states in the region, Kano and Katsina have 2 nominees each. This is apparently because Buhari earned more votes in Kano than other states and Katsina is his state of origin. Abuja, the federal capital territory had no nominee. Some argue that Buhari excluded Abuja because the residents didn’t vote for him. That can’t be the case. The exclusion is most certainly an error the presidency is planning to correct.
Team 43 for 2023?
Retaining power in 2023 largely influenced Buhari’s ministerial choice. Majority of his nominees are career politicians who are more skilled in coordinating campaigns than providing good governance. Buhari is probably unmindful that the challenges bedeviling Nigeria requires the service of professionals, not politicians. His nominees comprise of 9 ex-governors, ex-lawmakers, and 12 immediate past ministers. 31 nominees are new to the job; an indication that Buhari is not so pleased with the performance of their predecessors or simply wish to change hands. That does not however tone down the obvious: Buhari sacrificed effective governance for political continuity.
It’s a season of political harvest for Buhari’s loyalists. The ministerial nominees list is an indication that those who worked assiduously for him in 2015 and 2019 would be enormously rewarded. The 43 prospective ministers are a perfect election winning squad. Buhari carefully selected the leading political lords across the states. He nominated the strong who lost elections to keep them active for 2023.
The stakes are getting high. Politicians with weak political structures are being discarded for the influential and powerful. Audu Ogbeh was replaced with George Akume who has many political disciples and a large pocket. Godswill Akpabio and Rotimi Amaechi are being re-energized to install APC in Akwa-Ibom and the South-South. Gbemisola Saraki’s is being strengthened to decimate Bukola Saraki’s political machineries. Olorunimbe Mamora’s nomination has further strengthened team Lagos and Bola Tinubu’s commitment to the 2023 project. Chris Ngige was reappointed to put structures in place for APC to win Anambra.
Timipre Sylva’s is being empowered to revive APC for victory in the forthcoming Bayelsa governorship election. Festus Keyamo is being wired for the 2023 governorship race in Delta State. Emeka Nwajiuba is being tasked to reunite APC and win Imo. The ministerial hopefuls are indeed a perfect election winning squad. Their appointment is to empower them with the federal might and resources they need to deliver victory for the APC in 2023. But one major thing that would determine whether 2023 would be theirs is their ability to take Nigeria to the next level.
The Next Level
The president’s ditching of technocrats for politicians who has no record of exceptional performance in public service may make his administration unpopular. He should have appointed technocrats to kick-start the implementation of his Next Level programs and keep them in office for at least two years. He could then bring in the politicians to continue. The technocrats shouldn’t be sacked. They should be retained as consultants to periodically offer professional advice and assist in formulating government policies. You may disagree with this position, but you can’t help agreeing that it is sensible to start a project with professionals who truly understands what to do and how to do it.
Ministerial appointments should be based on merit, not clout. Buhari must align with the national assembly to pass bills that would make politics unprofitable and corruption punishable by death, if he really wants to make a difference. He must also desist from placing politics above policy. The technocrats he nominated such as Sunday Dare and Pauline Tallen are too insignificant. Be expectant not. The assembled nominees have no solution to Nigeria’s multidimensional problems and would leave the nation worse than they met it. They would most certainly usher Nigeria into greater poverty, insecurity, inflation, and recession. Buhari has the capacity, but lacks the will to turn things around. So also the Ahmed Lawan led Senate.
The Quality of Senate’s Screening
Sending names of ministerial nominees to the Senate with their portfolios is one of the change Nigerians voted for, but never got. This has remarkably hindered the senate from properly grilling the nominees, who also cannot present their goals because they don’t know the ministries they’ll lead. The screening is fruitless. Ministerial nominees are proving their capacity, and the senate is assessing their ability to head a ministry they both don’t know. This fatal, but avoidable error makes the screening a valueless and purposeless exercise.
It is disheartening that the screening is more of endorsement than assessment. The senators’ asininity is shameful and disturbing. They were unable to ask salient questions, quote statistics, reference global happenings, and give recommendations that can move Nigeria forward. They were also unable to correct the erring and over ambitious nominees. None of them could educate Festus Keyamo that the Attorney General, an appointee of the executive, cannot unbundle the Supreme Court that is under another arm of government, the judiciary.
Nigerians are disappointed. Many are casting doubt on Senate President Ahmed Lawan’s capacity to objectively legislate and oversight. He is accused of rubber stamping. Lawan must swiftly redeem his reputation by providing quality leadership. Loyalty to the party and the presidency should not push him to be acting against public interest.
The Bow and go Soft-landing
The bow and go privilege for ex-lawmakers has outlived its significance. Asking nominees to bow and go without answering questions is a disservice to the nation. Lawmaking and administrating require different skills. That the nominees performed when they’re lawmakers – most actually didn’t – does not mean they would perform as ministers. Some of them never contributed to debates or sponsored bill when they were in parliament. Think. Does it mean that the Senate would ask all the 43 nominees to bow and go if they’re all ex-lawmakers?
It is appalling that 10 of the first 14 nominees screened by the Senate were asked to bow and go. Apart from the ex-lawmakers, nominees were asked to bow and go because they are handsome and loyal. Richard Adebayo was asked to bow and go because he is the current Deputy National Chairman (South) of the APC. A nominee from the Senate President’s state also benefited.
Some nominees were asked to bow and go because they are women. Majority of the ex-ministers who should be asked to give an account of their stewardship and why Nigerians should reemploy them were just asked to bow and go. Rotimi Ameachi was awarded the privilege because he is an ex-Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly; a position he occupied over 12 years ago. The bow and go privilege shouldn’t be a free-for-all or life time benefit. It has been brazenly abused and should be abolished. The world is moving and Nigeria must move along. We must adopt better ways of doing things for us to have a better nation.
*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via email@example.com
Why African Leaders Should Be Optimistic
November 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Matshona Dhliwayo
Not too long ago, the two words “Africa Rising” were on everyone’s lips. After a decade of sluggish growth, Africa was finally showing real potential to follow in the footsteps of Asia. The Financial Times predicted the continent would enjoy a long period of mid- to high single-digit economic growth. Income would rise, a middle class would emerge, and consumer spending would increase. Was the media wrong? Were tabloids exaggerating? Certainly not, for since 2001, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries had been in Africa.
However, almost a decade later, some are still asking themselves: “Is there hope for Africa? Can the continent experience sustainable growth to give the world’s oldest inhabited region a new narrative?”
I belong to the hopeful group, and so should every African leader. Below are ten reasons why African leaders should be optimistic about the future:
- Our resilience. Contrary to popular belief, adversity has benefited us greatly. Slavery, colonization, institutionalized racism, the AIDS epidemic, poverty, and famine were all meant to kill us, but have only made us stronger. Because we have gone through the worst, we are stronger mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
- Our natural resources. Since the beginning, Africa has been blessed with an enormous quantity of natural resources. The envy of other continents, many of its precious metals remain undiscovered or barely harnessed. Those who doubted the extent of Africa’s mineral wealth were shocked to learn the continent possessed 90% of the world’s chrome resources, 85% of its platinum, 70% of its tantaline, 68% of its cobalt, and 54% of its gold, just to mention a few. Assuredly, the ticket to our prosperity is beneath our very feet—underneath the ground we tread on every day.
- Our human resources. By 2050, it is estimated that Africa will have a larger and younger workforce than China or India. More people equals more talent, and more talent equals more growth. More children also means that more products have to be produced, such as food, clothing, and furniture. Likewise, more schools and homes have to be built, which economically benefits the education and construction industries. An increased population inevitably leads to a larger domestic market.
The final benefit of Africa’s larger population means foreign enemies will think twice about invading the continent. The greater a nation’s population, the greater its army; the greater its army, the greater its security.
- Our spirituality. Africa is a continent rich in spirituality. Wherever you go, the majority of people’s lives are governed to a small or large extent by a higher power. While religion has brought much good and bad to the world, spirituality has only brought good. And, by some estimates, Africa is the most spiritual place in the world. Even those who don’t subscribe to a particular religion believe in a higher power. The benefits? Even the science community has admitted that there are rewards. To the marvel of many, despite being poor, we are gracious, grateful, optimistic, humane, and fulfilled. What would kill others we endure with a smile, and our spirituality is responsible for it.
- Our rich culture and heritage. Many have tried to mock, undermine, and even destroy our heritage, but to no avail. It is indisputable that Africa has the richest culture—one that goes back to the beginning of civilization itself. It includes the way we respect life, and the way we honor the dead; the way we celebrate children and, at the same time, highly regard elders; the way we esteem knowledge and revere wisdom; the way we conduct ourselves in both private and in public; and the way we treat foreigners, as well as live amongst ourselves. Without our culture, there is no doubt that Africa would have fallen a long time ago. A nation or a people without a heritage will not last for long, no matter how great or prosperous, but a nation or a people with one will thrive, no matter how unexceptional or poor.
- Our history. When ancient kings conquered a people and took over their land, one of the things they would do is burn down their libraries in order to erase not only their history, but also their sense of self. We, of all people, have the grandest history—mathematics, science, literature, philosophy, and arts can all trace their beginnings to Africa. With this on our minds, we can meet the future with a smile, no matter how bleak or bright; our victory is certain, not only in our minds, but also in our hearts.
- Democracy is on the rise. Democracy has been steadily rising in Africa, as the masses have realized they cannot put their destinies in the hands of one party or ruler. To the chagrin of those with tyrannical ambitions, democracy has and will continue to bring freedom, equality, justice, and responsible government to the masses. When the citizens’ rights and interests are protected, a nation is sheltered.
- Higher literacy rate. In 1990, the adult literacy rate in all of Africa was 53%. By 2015, it was estimated to be at about 63%. Clearly, we are doing something right, and if we continue, it will only get better. A higher literacy rate means better education, a better economy, and better governance of the country, all of which improve the well-being of the people.
- Our climate. Since time immemorial, people have tended to migrate to warmer climates. Africa being the hottest continent on Earth makes it very attractive—you don’t have the same worries as those who live in cold climates. Science itself has proven that living in warmer weather is better for your health. Improved memory, more Vitamin D, and increased physical activity are just a few of the benefits. Warm weather is also better for our heart and lungs, and studies have shown that there are higher death rates in colder climates.
- Less civil wars. Indeed, peace continues to bring much good to the continent, including increased tourism, investments, and general well-being of its citizens. Due to our ethnic and religious diversity, however, from time to time, some countries experience civil strife. Economies are damaged, and fear ripples through communities. But, in recent years, civil wars have been on the decline; old enemies are mending fences as they realize they are better and stronger together than they are apart. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.”
- Nature and wildlife. Africa has a large variety of natural wildlife, much of which can be found only on the continent. Straddling the equator, the land is home to many of the world’s most beloved flora and fascinating fauna. Despite all the negative publicity Africa has received, its nature and wildlife make it an irresistible tourist destination, a testament to the undeniable beauty and allure of the motherland.
- Improved energy access. Why has Africa been experiencing rapid growth during the last decade? Slowly but surely, our energy sectors are improving. There are still many problems, but we are better off than we were ten years ago. Factories operate more efficiently, leading to higher productivity and a higher GDP, thereby increasing the standard of living.
Improved energy access is also crucial for food security, affordable and reliable water, and environmental protection. People will cut down fewer trees if they have a dependable substitute source of energy.
- Improved educational institutions. As child enrollment rates have been steadily rising all across the continent, it has forced governments to invest more in education. However, although teachers are still underpaid, the quality of teaching has improved. If this trend continues, even the greatest skeptics among us must admit that we will inevitably return to our former glory, with groundbreaking improvements in the arts and sciences.
What are the benefits of this? Innovation in the arts and sciences not only betters the economy, but also brings prestige to a nation. The best example of this is the Renaissance: it brought untold glory to Italy, the honor and prestige of which the country is still enjoying today.
- Improved infrastructure. As capital has been pouring into the continent, slowly but surely, our infrastructure has been improving. Better roads and infrastructure have allowed companies to operate more efficiently, which has also means that more investments have come pouring in.
- Improved healthcare. Healthcare has improved dramatically over the past decade. More quality educational institutions have led to more knowledgeable doctors, and more knowledgeable doctors have led to better healthcare, all of which has contributed to increased life expectancy rates.
- Increased foreign investment. Most, if not all, of the above points lead directly or indirectly to increased foreign investment. Foreign investment means more jobs, more income, and more spending, all of which grow the economy.
In conclusion, African leaders have much to be optimistic about. Africa matters to the world; the world cannot do without us. We are the most habitable place on Earth, not experiencing the same natural disasters bedeviling other parts of the world; we also have the greatest capacity for maintaining balance in the biosphere, helping to avoid further depletion of the ozone layer. And, in a world full of strife, it is the very values passed down to us by our ancestors that hold the key to human survival on Earth.
Africa Enjoys Oil Boom as Drilling Spreads Across Continent
November 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
-Oil and gas rigs across Africa are at a three-year high
-Companies including BP and Total are ramping up projects
Just a year ago Africa’s upstream was a very different story. At the continent’s biggest oil and gas conference, crude seemed like it may just hold at $50 a barrel over the long term. Beyond the activity of Africa-focused explorers like Tullow in Ghana, exploration in most countries was in a rut.
But as Africa Oil Week returns to Cape Town on Tuesday, nations throughout the continent are planning to sell exploration licenses or move ahead with major projects.
And the prize — for both companies and countries — could be huge. There could be at least 41 billion barrels of oil and 319 trillion cubic feet of gas yet to be discovered in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a 2016 U.S. Geological Survey report.
In 2018, the number of oil and gas rigs in Africa reached a three-year high, according to Baker Hughes. There are more prospects to come as the Republic of Congo, the newest member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, offers both onshore and offshore blocks.
Cairn Energy Plc is moving forward with its project in Senegal, the largest offshore oil find of 2014, which is expected to produce 100,000 barrels a day. “It has completely changed the potential for Senegal in a very positive way,” CEO Simon Thomson said in an interview. “It shows what can happen through the drillbit, through exploration.”
Exxon Mobil Corp. is targeting western and southern Africa for the world’s next big bonanza and recently bought a stake in a frontier exploration block offshore Namibia. The company is also expected to spend hundreds of millions in Mozambique with partner Rosneft Oil Co. PJSC and other explorers on blocks won in 2015.
Mozambique will see $156 billion in tax revenue from Exxon’s onshore liquefied natural gas project, according to the company. The supermajor is planning the most capacity of any LNG facility planned in the north of the country.
Total and Eni SpA are also nearing production sharing deals for oil and gas in Ivory Coast, two people familiar with the matter said Nov. 1. Both companies signed separate contracts for offshore oil exploration in Algeria last week.
For all the excitement, Sasol’s Yevi did strike some notes of caution. In past booms, the African oil industry has fallen into a number of traps. The first is approving projects quickly enough to ensure they don’t miss out on the benefits of a period of higher prices. “If the cycle is not long, sometimes we only catch the tail end of it in Africa,” he said.
To successfully develop its natural resources, Africa needs to have the capability within governments and regulators to control how the windfall is spent in other sectors, Yevi said.
“Converting volume into value is undoubtedly sub-Saharan Africa’s Achilles heel,” said Adam Pollard, a senior research analyst at consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. Still, that hasn’t dampened enthusiasm because “the continent has been responsible for some company-making discoveries in the past.”
Africans Rising to launch national engagement platform Launch in Maputo, Mozambique
November 2, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The Africans Rising’s Mozambique National Engagement Platform (NEP) will be launched on November 7th, 2018. The platform will be instituted to help fulfil multiple pledges of the Kilimanjaro Declaration, namely promoting democracy, social and gender equality, transparency and environmental justice.
This National Engagement Platform is expected to bring together, at the country level, different national social groups whose actions are a living testament to the bottom-up change-making.
“As we come together, we are hopeful that the participants will be equipped with the necessary tools to devise and implement a shared progressive action agenda to be referred to as the National Platform for Change,” a spokesperson said.
It is reported that after the National Engagement Platform launches in multiple African Countries, Africans Rising is expected to establish the top priorities of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), movements, artists and young people in each individual country.
“Therefore, in collaboration with the various entities, the movement will create a roadmap to achieve the different objectives after a number of gatherings and initiatives. The goal is to have a fully structured National Engagement Platform and a clear timetable of follow-up activities.
The Kilimanjaro declaration notes:
We, the citizens and descendants of Africa, as part of the Africans Rising Movement, are outraged by the centuries of oppression; we condemn the plunder of our natural and mineral resources and the suppression of our fundamental human rights.
We are determined to foster an Africa-wide solidarity and unity of purpose of the Peoples of Africa to build the Future we want – a right to peace, social inclusion and shared prosperity.
On the 23 and 24 August 2016, two hundred and seventy two representatives from civil society, trade unions, women, young people, men, people living with disabilities, parliamentarians, media organisations and faith-based groups, from across Africa and the African diaspora gathered in Arusha, Tanzania and committed to build a pan-African movement that recognises these rights and freedoms of our People.
The conference declared that:
- Africa is a rich continent. That wealth belongs to all our People, not to a narrow political and economic elite. We need to fight for economic development that is just and embraces social inclusion and environmental care. We have a right to the ‘better life’ our governments have promised.
- Africans have a diverse, rich and powerful heritage that is important to heal ourselves and repair the damage done by neoliberalism to our humanity and environment. Being African, embracing the philosophy of Ubuntu should be a source of our pride.
- African Youth are a critical foundation of building the success in our continent and must play a central role in building Africans Rising.
- Africa’s Diaspora whether displaced through slavery and colonialism or part of modern day migration are part of Africa’s history and future. They are a reservoir of skills, resources and passion that must be harnessed and integrated into our movement.
- We are committed to a decentralised, citizen-owned future that will build support and solidarity for local struggles, empower local leadership and immerse our activists in grassroots work of building social movements from below and beyond borders.
- We are committed to building a citizens movement that is accountable to the constituencies we represent and enforcing the highest standards of ethical behaviour.
Therefore, we resolve that our work should build a local, national, continental and global campaign that is:
- Expanding space for civic and political action
- Fighting for women’s rights and freedoms across society
- Focussing our struggles on the right to Equity and Dignity
- Demanding good governance as we fight corruption and impunity
- Demanding climate and environmental justice
Call on our people and activists to:
Join this Africans Rising Movement and mobilise our people around this shared vision; organise and connect local struggles under this umbrella; galvanise solidarity with all African struggles. This movement is committed to peace and non-violent action. We assert our inherent rights as Africans and invite our governments, leaders, other stakeholders and institutions to join us in pursuing the Future We Want to leave our future generations.
We commit to mobilising our people in Africa to launch this Movement on the 25th May, 2017, when we deepen the meaning of African Liberation Day and call on all sectors of our society to mobilise and organise events in every African country that will build the momentum towards the genuine liberation of our beautiful continent.
Summit of African education and ICT ministers to be hosted in Kigali this week
September 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
African Ministers of Education and Information Technology will be in Kigali, Rwanda this week for the annual Ministerial Round Table (MRT) meeting at eLearning Africa, the continent’s largest conference on technology assisted learning and training.
The theme of the MRT will be ‘Towards a Knowledge-based Economy’ and the ministers are expected to discuss the possible effects of a global ‘fourth industrial revolution’ on Africa. With machines increasingly likely to replace human workers in a number of key industries, the implications for African governments, businesses and citizens are
However, a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ may offer African economies an opportunity to ‘leapfrog’ their competitors and the ministers will consider what African Governments and businesses need to do to make the most of a new era of rapid technological change.
Rebecca Stromeyer, the founder and organiser of eLearning Africa said today,
“Many African economies are actually in quite a strong position. Unlike the so-called ‘advanced economies,’ they don’t have to waste huge resources trying to restructure tired, old industries. Many of them can start from scratch and they have a great deal to offer potential investors. They are resource rich and they have the world’s most youthful population, which is bound to attract investors and entrepreneurs.
“The key thing now is to focus on giving young people the modern skills they need and creating a climate which encourages innovation and creativity. If African Governments do that, Africa can lead the world.”
At the eLearning Africa Ministerial Round Table, ministers will focus on discussing practical measures, which can be implemented quickly to give Africans a chance to take advantage of what is likely to be a new era of opportunity.
Ministers, deputy ministers and senior officials from the following countries have confirmed their attendance at the MRT, Angola – Secretary of State for Higher Education and Secretary of State for Professional Technical Education, Benin – Minister of Secondary Education and Professional Technical Education, Congo – Minister of Professional Technical Education and Minister for Higher Education, Djibouti – Minister of National Education and Professional Education, Egypt – Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Equatorial Guinea – Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports and Minister of Transport, Post & Telecommunications, Gambia – Minister for Basic & Secondary Education
and Deputy Permanent Secretary of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Ghana – Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Lesotho – Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Liberia – Deputy
Minister for Administration, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mali – Minister of Youth, Senegal – Cabinet Director, Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and Uganda – Minister of ICT.
Africa Arrives: New Guide to the “World’s Hottest Market” Proves Africa is Open for Business!
September 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
United Kingdom – When asking businesspeople and economists to name a continent that springs to mind for its opportunities, workforce and potential to provide stable growth for the next five decades, few would say Africa.
However, investment banker Mark Byron can prove that Africa is *the* perfect continent for the rest of the world to invest in, operate from and thrive under. In his new book, ‘Africa Arrives:’ The Savvy Entrepreneur’s Guide to The World’s Hottest Market’, Byron explains why.
Finally a book has arrived that approaches the continent of Africa with a realistic sense of optimism and a forensic sense of history that renders it more vital, more accurate and more compelling than any other book—business, personal or historical—that has ever dared to take on this Gargantuan theme. Rather than merely take one narrow aspect of the African economic paradox or become another blatant “cheerleading” carte blanche to the international FDI clique, AFRICA ARRIVES is truly The Savvy Entrepreneur’s Guide to the World’s Hottest Market. From top to bottom, from beginning to end, AFRICA ARRIVES breaks down, analyses and opens up the heart and soul of 38 of Africa’s 54 Nations. And it does so in a way that is fresh, innovative, compelling and content-rich. It even takes 20 of them and rates doing business there on a basic Wall Street Stock Purchase Matrix. Buy, Strong Buy, Hold, Buy and Hold, Sell—all these common investment terms are applied to every major economy from Algeria to Botswana, from Cote d’Ivoire to Kenya.
Everything you ever wanted to know and more is included in this book. At this very moment, 390 Million “Afrilennials” are using technology to break out of their tribal enclaves and into a whole new world that is financially free, bullish, and (in all the best ways) replete with “Futureshock.” AFRICA ARRIVES is also the first book that ever uses historical forensics to dive into the complex Matrix that is Africa’s Colonial History, how it has come out of Foreign Aid (and “death by good intentions”) to become the economic force of the future. Alive with anagrams, it uses BRICS, STICKS and NO-STRINGS and gives them a whole new meaning, replete with profiles of several Africapitalists and movers and shakers of the world. A warts and all book that brings you a realistic look at the future, AFRICA ARRIVES has landed with a whole new World of perspectives. And it’s mutable.
This book will appeal to:
1) Young internationally intensive entrepreneurs and growing companies looking to develop Africa as a robust new market.
2) Foreign Direct Investment wanting a truly in-depth look at what is best and most diverse in Africa’s Top 20 Emerging Markets…and some of the risks those entail.
3) The hundreds of thousands of African expatriates looking to markets such as Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique as platforms for the recent spate of “reverse diaspora” back to the Sub Sahara that is presently sweeping the world.
4) Forbes, Fortune and Business Weekly financial shakers and movers looking for a comprehensive analysis of Africa that cuts through the veneer while offering a solid framework for doing business on the Continent.
5) Any business and marketing directed person looking for a cautionary tale on how to navigate this varied economic landscape with intelligence and a sense of self-preservation.
“This book is perfect for foreign Investors, diasporas and Institutions looking to invest in Africa,” explains the author. “In fact, I’ve also included lists of verified contacts that readers can tap into; individuals who can help them grow and thrive under this new frontier that is tipped to be strong and growing for the next 50 years. It’s an opportunity they won’t want to miss.”
Continuing, “Africa’s economic landscape is extremely varied which, while requiring a solid game plan to navigate, is rich with opportunity across all sectors. To date, the book has been extremely well received, and I’m excited to see how it empowers people to invest in Africa, its resources and its amazing people.”
Indeed, reviews have been glowing. Grady Harp comments, “AFRICA ARRIVES is meeting with kudos from around the globe. The riches of that huge continent are immeasurable but this learned book present the potential of that great continent to the economic atmosphere of the world. This is a fascinating and highly informative book not only for entrepreneurs but also for all lay people excited about the rise of the importance of Africa. Highly Recommended.”
JA Armstrong adds, “This book reads like a listing of the who’s who in African business circles, highlighting important figures in each country, up and coming businesses as well as international companies who have chosen to come and stay. Each country is showcased with their strengths and where they stand on the FDI listing. This indicates to us as Investors whether we should simply buy, or hold, or even both.”
AFRICA ARRIVES: The Savvy Entrepreneur’s Guide to The World’s Hottest Market is available now: https://amzn.to/2KqQ7LX.
About the Authors:
Mark Byron is a successful British/Nigerian investment banker who takes us on a journey through this phenomenal Economic Giant—from the financial corridors of Cairo to the petroleum politics of Lagos, from the real-estate/construction boom in Cape Town and to the high tech revolutions in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Accra.
Robert Joseph Ahola Is an author, playwright and screenwriter who lives in Malibu, California. He has authored a number of published and/or produced plays, including HIGH TEA/With His Excellency, Judas Agonistes, Pavlov’s Cats, The Decline and Fall of Us All, Death by Helium and NARCISSUS: The Last Days of Lord Byron. Along with AFRICA ARRIVES, Mr. Ahola is an author/co-author of sixteen published books including The Silent Healer, The Return of the Hummingbird Wizard, I, Dragon, The HEDGE, Delusion is Good, and the upcoming fantasy novel, The Drums of Azure Skye.
Angola – the times they are a changing: João Lourenço, infrastructure investment and moving forwards
September 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 7, 2018/ — Angola has seen changes in the last 2 years. This began with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos stepping down after 38 years. President João Lourenço (aka “JLo”) who took power in September 2017 succeeded him when JLo’s People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party won 61.7% of the vote and an absolute majority of the legislature.
However, to many Angolans and Angolan watchers, this change has been a long time in coming and Angola urgently needs not only new leadership but also new investment particularly in infrastructure to support diversification away from its long reliance on revenues from the oil industry. Low oil prices have had a severe impact on the Government’s coffers. As with many other oil producing nations, there is an increasing recognition of the need to diversify the economy, develop the country, reduce the reliance on oil and attract foreign investment.
A good summary of where Angola is today is the following excerpt from a recent World Bank report:
Angola has made substantial economic and political progress since the end of the war in 2002. However, the country continues to face massive development challenges, which include reducing its dependency on oil and diversifying the economy; rebuilding its infrastructure; and improving institutional capacity, governance, public financial management systems, human development indicators, and the living conditions of the population. Large pockets of the population live in poverty without adequate access to basic services, and the country could benefit from more inclusive development policies.
The key point here is that, the major obstacle for investment into industries other than oil is the poor quality of Angola’s infrastructure – from its transport network to its power system.
The good (bad) old days
In the days of high oil prices and overflowing government coffers, the Government procured a massive building programme. According to the Center for Studies and Scientific Research, Angola has spent $120 billion on reconstruction. At its peak, spending reached $15.8 billion in 2014. Whilst on one level the state of infrastructure in Angola today is a huge improvement on what was left behind after the end of the civil war, this rebuilding programme has had its own issues.
Much of the rebuilding programme was financed by oil-backed loans to China with a significant number of contracts awarded to state owned Chinese companies and their sub-contactors. Many of these contracts were awarded with limited or no transparency and with rumours of corruption and pay-offs. This, together with lax oversight/project management on behalf of the Government resulted in poor quality construction/delivery in some projects.
So what do international investors think of Angola? Perhaps a good test of investors’ pulse was the ability of Angola to issue $500 million of its 30-year Eurobond programme earlier this year. Whilst perhaps the rather attractive return of 9.1 per cent may have had some influence on the success of the Eurobond, it does nevertheless show that there is appetite for investment in Angola.
China, china, china and others
Angola’s love affair with China keeps growing. According to a recent study by Boston University, Angola is the African country that has received most Chinese funding for the construction of energy infrastructure since the year 2000. For example the USD4.5 billion 2170 MW Caculo Cabaça dam (which will be the largest power plant in Angola when completed) is being built by the China Gezhouba Group Co. Ltd and financed by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
The recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report on Angola says that relations with China would be given “high priority” by the Angolan authorities. Examples of how this has manifested itself include the:
recent agreement on entry visas between Angola and China; and
opening of a branch of the Bank of China in mid-2017 in Angola.
The EIU also states that:
“The government will also continue to seek loans from China to enable it to continue capital spending programmes to build highways and power plants,” despite greater attention from Chinese entities on the “risk of projects with dubious repayment capacity,”
For example, Angolan authorities hope to secure around $2.5bn from Exim Bank China for infrastructure and energy projects. Of which, $690m will be for the Corimba coast road, while $760.4m will be for an electricity transmission system at Lauchimo dam. In addition, $1.1b will be used to build a naval academy in Kalunga.
Angola also has plans to negotiate a loan of nearly $13bn from the International and Commercial Bank of China, out of which $1.28 billion will be used to construct a new airport in Luanda and $11.7 billion as a credit line to fund various other projects across the country. China is here to stay in Angola but hopefully the lessons of the past are that there needs to be more oversight on the quality of works plus greater transparency on how contracts are priced and awarded.
This not to say that there have not been investors from other countries including such as a number of European countries and Brazil. However China still dominates the landscape.
Notwithstanding the love affair with China, the Angolan government is also making efforts to woo foreign investors more generally and open up its economy.
Private Investment Law
Most Angola watchers/investors were delighted when the new Private Investment Law (the “PIL”) established a new Private Investment Agency for Angola (AIPEX) and removed two requirements that had previously stifled foreign investment:
the requirement for a foreign investor to have a local partner who had at least 35% of the business; and
the requirement for a minimum investment of USD1 million.
The PIL also contains provisions relating to:
government financing programs (micro funding, privileged interest rates, public collaterals and risk capital);
administrative support (simplified and privileged access to business and operational licenses or assets of private domain of public entities);
benefits for reinvestment into projects.
The details of some of these are yet to be finalised but the intent of the Government to provide these benefits/incentives is clear.
In addition, foreign investments above USD 1 million can now get certain tax benefits and incentives depending on fulfilling certain criteria. Whilst investments above USD50 million are able to get further special tax benefits and incentives provided that they are able to generate a certain minimum number of jobs (although the details of how this will operate is subject to further regulation).
Creating a level playing field
The Competition Act was passed to create a more level playing field in Angolan business by prohibiting anti-competitive practices such as restrictive agreements and abuse of dominant position. In addition, the new cabinet has implemented a number of measures to tackle certain long established monopolies controlled by the previous political elite and the “Dos Santos entourage”.
Angola’s plan to develop infrastructure
So coming back to infrastructure, what next for this critical sector in Angola. The good news is that the Angolan government has made infrastructure for development a key element of Angola’s 2018/2022 National Development Plan (NDP). Highlighted statement from the NDP on infrastructure include:
public interest projects (including in infrastructure) may be financed “through public investment or promoted by the private sector” and “public-private partnerships’;
a strategy to develop an integrated transportation and logistics network (with connectivity to neighbouring countries) built around an improved railway sector with priority in urban areas and the “installation of logistics platforms along rail lines”;
investment in air and water transport infrastructure relating to completing the construction of existing airports (especially the New International Luanda Airport) and ports, as well as improved logistics (air) and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure (maritime);
investment in logistics infrastructure is to undertaken exclusively through concession agreements with private operators;
increase the electrification of the country with an emphasis on the less electrified provinces (e.g. Bié);
General Law of Electricity revised to facilitate private sector involvement in the production and distribution of electricity;
recognition of the importance of the private sector’s investment, financing and management of the development and maintenance of electrical sector infrastructure.
However the question remains as to how the Government is going to attract private investment into this sector since budgetary constraints will limit Government spending. There is clearly a need to focus on “productive” infrastructure such as agriculture value chain, transport and any other industry that would allow imports substitution since Angola imports almost everything. The criteria and process by which Government will identify priority projects that will bring real value add to the economy, will be a key signal to foreign investors, that Angola is now serious about attracting FDI from reputable and long term investors.
Whilst a PPP law has been on the statute books for some time, the legal framework for PPPs has gaps. Getting a PPP programme going in Angola to attract private investment will require a lot more work and investment in governmental/institutional capacity and skills. One idea would be to partner with an organisation like the IFC to structure programmes for power, transport, waste management etc. This model has been undertaken in other African countries with some measure of success.
It is also hoped that traditional DFIs will look to invest in the private sector in Angola that in turn will pave the way for more commercial financings.
What next? The challenges ahead…
So whilst it’s early days for JLo, the general consensus seems to be that he is moving Angola in the right direction. This ranges from purging key members of the previous regime from positions of power, pursuing legal action against Dos Santos’s son (previous head of the Sovereign Wealth Fund) to changes to laws and regulations to promote FDI.
However JLo has a long way to go to improve Angola’s business climate. Although it gained 7 places in the World Bank report on business climate 2018 Doing Business, its ranking is still at the bottom end of the table – 175 out of out of 190 countries.
On corruption, although JLo has taken a number of anti-corruption steps and made various anti corruption statements, Angola still stands at 167th place out of 180 in the Index of Perception of Corruption.
A further challenge for Angola is that it has few “real independent” business people with experience. Previous so called “business people” were mostly linked to politicians and the previous regime where more often than not, had no real “skin in the game” with skewed risk/reward profiles.
A key issue that will need to be addressed to attract private investment is the Government’s ability to give long-term assurances that foreign exchange will be available for dividend repatriation. Dividend repatriation and currency control issues remain a key impediment to private sector investment in Angola. There have been talks of leveraging the balance sheet of the Angolan sovereign wealth fund but this has not been borne out yet.
Angolans are optimistic people and the country has abundant resources (e.g. -hydro, agriculture and minerals other than crude oil). On the surface it would seem that that JLo is taking the right steps to move the country forwards and open up the economy. For example:
some inroads have recently been made by private sector investors in power generation, particularly into renewable energy projects, although investors continue to battle to obtain “bankable” documents from Government agencies/bodies;
the opening up of the downstream Oil & Gas retail sector, where the French giant, TOTAL, will now join Sonangol and Puma;
removal of the new Luanda Port concession from Isabel dos Santos to issue a new international tender;
taking steps to increase investment in agriculture (estimating a growth of 5.9% in this sector for 2018) through projects such as the Quiminha Agricultural Development Project which aims to start exports to Europe in October; and
the Government has signed a US$101 million loan agreement with the African Development Bank (AfDB) that will be invested in the development of agricultural value chains in Cabinda Province.
On the other hand whilst there have been headline reports of purges of key members of the Dos Santos regime, the reality is that many others are still in place operating in the same manner as they did under the old regime. Furthermore, JLo’s image of fighting corruption and a new approach to government in Angola was dented by reports earlier this year that his daughter (Ms Jéssica Lorena Dias Lourenço) had chartered a $200,000 private plane to deliver her child in Washington USA. In the meantime, calls for the wholesale clean up and privatisation of state owned companies such as Sonangol, Taag (the cargo/transport company) and others persist with little sign that this is happening or will happen.
Only time will tell whether we are moving quickly to a a new, diversified and prosperous Angola. Whilst there are some green shoots of change and progress in the air there is much more to be done. Whilst Angolans and the world waits for this, there is always Angolan music and dance, from merengue to kizomba, to enjoy in the meantime.
IGD to Hold Series of High-Level Events to Promote Trade and Investment in Africa During UN General Assembly
September 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
- IGD will co-host with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Africa Business Center, a breakfast roundtable discussion on Sept. 25 with His Excellency Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice-President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. A press conference with Vice-President will follow the roundtable discussion.
- A Presidential Dialogue with His Excellency Filipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique and top government officials on Sept. 26 will outline trade and investment opportunities with leading U.S. and global business leaders.
WASHINGTON D.C. – September 11, 2018 – The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) will hold a series of high-level events with top African leaders on boosting U.S. trade and investment in Africa during the U.N. General Assembly in New York City.
To boost trade opportunities in Côte d’Ivoire, a press conference will be held with H.E. Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice-President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and U.S. business leaders on September 25 from 11:00-11:30am, following a breakfast investor roundtable discussion. Duncan, a leading Ivorian economist, is the former Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire and has served in top positions at the West African Central Bank and as Finance Minister.
IGD will host a Presidential Dialogue on Doing Business in Mozambiquewith H.E. Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday, September 26 from 8:00-9:30am at Thomson Reuters’ Times Square office in New York City. The Presidential Dialogue is an invitation-only event, where investors and business leaders gain access to the Head of State and key Government Ministers on potential trade and investment opportunities. This exclusive gathering is also a preview to the IGD Advanced Executive Program on Doing Business in Africa, a five-day executive training program held from October 29 to November 2, 2018 in Maputo, Mozambique. Read the press release here.
Five Heads of State from the Sahel region — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger — will attend the G5 Sahel Summit, which will bring private-sector concerns to the fore of the security agenda on September 25,from 2:00-4:00pm in New York City. IGD, in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Business Center, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), and CIPE, is organizing the high-level roundtable session. This event is closed to the media. A joint press statement and photos will be released after the event.
UNGA EVENTS LINEUP
U.S.-Cote d’Ivoire Business Roundtable
- Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice-President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire
WHEN: Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Press Conference: 10:30 – 11:00AM
Presidential Dialogue on Doing Business in Mozambique with H.E. Filipe Nyusi
- H.E. Filipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique
WHEN: Wednesday, September 26, 2018 – 8:00 – 9:30AM
WHERE: Thomson Reuters New York Office, 3 Times Square, New York, NY 10036
MEDIA CONTACT: Shanta Bryant Gyan, Initiative for Global Development * email, firstname.lastname@example.org * phone, 202-412-4603
MORE INFO: Due to tight security, all press must be accredited by IGD. For press accreditation, please contact Shanta Bryant Gyan at email@example.com or call (202) 412-4603. For more information on the UNGA event, please visit www.igdleaders.org
Founded in 2003 by Bill Gates Sr. and other US business leaders, the Initiative for Global Development (IGD) advises, educates and promotes the US and African private sector in order to advance Africa’s economic growth and sustainable development for mutually beneficial economic prosperity.
Zimbabwe’s Agribank to extend support to floriculture and horticulture targeting the European market
September 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Agribank, Zimbabwe’s leading bank offering support to the
agriculture sector has announced that it is increasing its support to
the floriculture and horticulture sector to promote exports to the
highly lucrative European market, according to SMT Malaba, Agribank
CEO in a presentation of the bank’s financial statements for the year
ended 30 June, 2018.
According to Malabe, the bank has made significant milestones with
respect to key strategic initiatives such as enhanced support to
agriculture and capital raising initiatives.
The banks is alo expanding support to agriculture and sustaining
business growth initiatives optimising on the critical role of
agriculture in the economy of the country.
Support to agriculture is at the core of the bank’s mandate for food
security and value addition.
“The bank is expanding support to the agriculture sector and is
likely to surpass its initial set target of $105 million and achieve
$125 million agriculture financing, inclusive of both on and off
balance sheet financing,” Malaba said.
He added that to date total lending to agriculture amounted to $80
million. He said that finance is being extended to major subsectors of
the agriculture sector such as tobacco, maize, soya, horticulture as
well as critical fertilizers and chemical industries that support
agriculture with inputs.
Malaba described horticulture and floriculture as low hanging fruits
for the country to boast its foreign exchange incomes. Previously the
sector was dominated by white commercial farmers but declined due to
the 2000 land reform programme. There was a major shift when the new
communal farmers focused on other traditional crops like maize and
cotton with a few focusing on the export crops.
Malaba added that in a bid to raise foreign currency the bank
managed to also support key sectors in agriculture like the
floriculture and horticulture sectors.
He said that the bank is exploring further expanded support in
respect of horticulture crops such as macadamia nuts, mange peas,
Michigan peas, avocados and cut flowers.
Zimbabwe’s newly elected President urged to place women’s rights on the agenda
September 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) has urge the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and his administration to ensure women’s rights are at the centre in the implementation of commitments they have made.
WCOZ said that of critical importance is ensuring that gender
sensitive and gender responsive structures are strengthened and
“The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ), representing nonpartisan
women’s rights organizations and activists in all 10 provinces of
Zimbabwe wishes to join the rest of Zimbabwe in congratulating His
Excellence, Emmerson Mnangagwa on his election and inauguration as the
President of the Republic of Zimbabwe” WCOZ said.
WCoZ said that it acknowledges and takes cognisance of the commitments
that his Excellence made in his speech during his inauguration which
include the need for Zimbabwe’s renewal in all socio economic sectors,
to position the country in readiness for economic growth,
industrialization, modernization and mechanization, employment
creation, democracy, delivery of efficient and quality social services
and equally important, the advancement and empowerment of women, youth
and the disabled.
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe said it called upon the President to,
appoint a gender balanced executive,appoint women in the portfolios of
Health, Finance, Education, Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministries, to
which men have been perennially appointed,extend the women quotas
beyond 2023 and this to be applicable to local government as
well,ensure the State puts in place incentives and punitive measures
through the review of the Political Parties Finance Act for political
parties that fail the 50 percent gender representation,ensure full
domestication of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities, underpinned by women’s rights,allocate 15%
of the total 2018 budget to the Health sector in line with the Abuja
Declaration, and a return to the prioritization of the primary health
care model in Zimbabwe.
The new President has also been called upon to implement laws that
significantly improve the state’s response to eradicating gender based
“We want marriage law reform to be accelerated, in particular the
finalization of the marriage Bill which will put to rest the
contradictions on the age of consent to marriage and set it to 18
years. We also need implementation of laws ensuring the prosecution of
offenders that are marrying young girls,’ WCOZ said.
The Presidum has also been called upon to take all measures to end
violence against women in public and private spaces and further ensure
that women are represented in the independent commission investigating
cases of political violence that occurred on the 1st of August 2018,to
demonstrate the respect of the right to freedom of expression by the
removal of laws that erode these rights, including AIPPA and POSA,
whilst ensuring that hate speech is not tolerated and that public
political affairs are promoting women voices, dignity and influence to
positively shape public opinion,ensure that all laws that relate to
allocation of land such as the Rural Lands Act, Agricultural land
Settlement Act and land Acquisition Act have gender equality
provisions and reserved quotas, ensuring that Statutory Instrument 53
of 2014 on Land is made into an Act of Parliament to enable women to
have secure land rights upon divorce and death of the permit
holder,ensure that the Zimbabwe open for business mantra is gender
Government has also been urged to commit to improving quality and
quantity of care-related infrastructure and services that is well
targeted at those doing substantial UCW, e.g, water supply, community
health services, electricity supply. “Government should also dedicate
adequate resources to achieve this”.
“We therefore expect that the office of the president, all duty
bearers with a mandate to advance Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
will be alive to the demands we have expressed in this statement”,
said Ronika Mumbire (Chairperson), Sally Ncube (National Coordinator)
of the WCOZ.