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Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed: Debt Cancellation for the World to Survive
May 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Lawrence Freeman *

Coronavirus testing supplies being unloaded at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in March.Credit…Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

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.

Smoked fish produced in Ghana is sold all over the country and in neighboring Togo – as long as transport routes and borders can remain open for the movement of food to markets. Credit Jane Hahn/Oxfam America

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-19Trillions 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.

Mauritanian herders (Courtesy of UN-FAO)
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.

Read: New Economic Order Required to Combat COVID-19 in Africa

*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

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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
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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 moshdeji@yahoo.com

 

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Why African Leaders Should Be Optimistic
November 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Matshona Dhliwayo

Africa Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat (2ndL front row) poses for a family photo with Africa's Presidents (fromL) Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahamed and Chad's Idris Deby, on the sidelines of an AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (AFP)

Africa Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat (2ndL front row) poses for a family photo with Africa’s Presidents (fromL) Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahamed and Chad’s Idris Deby, on the sidelines of an AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (AFP)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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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

By 

Africa is finally seeing the benefits from the recovery in crude prices as companies ramp up drilling from Algeria to Namibia.

 The rigs are returning and wildcatters are getting excited again after a years-long hiatus during the oil-price slump. From majors like Total SA to independents like Tullow Oil Plc, companies are snapping up exploration rights and doing deals.
“When you go for business development, trying to acquire licenses or make partnerships in West Africa, you can sense the competition,” Gilbert Yevi, senior vice president of exploration and production for Sasol Ltd., said in an interview in Cape Town. “It’s like a new California gold rush.”

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.

Exploration Ramp-Up

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.”

*Bloomberg

 

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Africans Rising to launch national engagement platform Launch in Maputo, Mozambique
November 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

President Nyusi of Mozambique

President Nyusi of Mozambique

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. African Youth are a critical foundation of building the success in our continent and must play a central role in building Africans Rising.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

 

  1. Expanding space for civic and political action
  2. Fighting for women’s rights and freedoms across society
  3. Focussing our struggles on the right to Equity and Dignity
  4. Demanding good governance as we fight corruption and impunity
  5. 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.

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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
potentially enormous.

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.

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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.

Synopsis:

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. 
 

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Angola – the times they are a changing: João Lourenço, infrastructure investment and moving forwards
September 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

President João Lourenço

President João Lourenço

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.

Bond issue

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.

*Source Dentons

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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.

 

 

President Filipe Nyusi of Mozeambique will headline one of the IGD events during the UN General Assembly

President Filipe Nyusi of Mozeambique will headline one of the IGD events during the UN General Assembly

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 CenterCorporate 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 
WHO:

  • Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice-President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire

WHEN:  Tuesday, September 25, 2018 
Press Conference: 10:30 – 11:00AM
WHERE: TBD
++++++++++++++++++++++++
Presidential Dialogue on Doing Business in Mozambique with H.E. Filipe Nyusi
WHO:

  • 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, sbryant@igdleaders.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 sbryant@igdleaders.org 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.

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Zimbabwe’s Agribank to extend support to floriculture and horticulture targeting the European market
September 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Malaba

Malaba

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.

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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
adequately resourced.

“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
violence.

“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
inclusive.

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.

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Could the future of food in the world depend on what Africa does with agriculture?
September 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
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Choosing Peace For The Horn Of Africa
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

 By Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka*

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, second left, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, hold hands as they wave at the crowds in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday July 15, 2018. Official rivals just weeks ago, the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea have embraced warmly to the roar of a crowd of thousands at a concert celebrating the end of a long state of war. A visibly moved Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, clasping his hands over his heart, addressed the crowd in Ethiopia’s official language, Amharic, on his first visit to the country in 22 years. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, second left, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, hold hands as they wave at the crowds in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday July 15, 2018. Official rivals just weeks ago, the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea have embraced warmly to the roar of a crowd of thousands at a concert celebrating the end of a long state of war. A visibly moved Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, clasping his hands over his heart, addressed the crowd in Ethiopia’s official language, Amharic, on his first visit to the country in 22 years. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Horn of Africa and the global community witnessed two dramatic events on July 8 and July 14 as the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea visited each other respectively. The smile and the big hug exchanged by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Eritrean counterpart President Isaias Afwerki on Sunday, July 8 surprised many people who have followed the bitter conflict and sour relationship between the two countries in the last few decades. The two historic visits we have witnessed these past days express the joy and hope that come with ‘choosing peace.’ To further the peace process, the embassy of Eritrea in Ethiopia was opened once again on Monday July 16.

From the UN general assembly vote to make Eritrea a central component of Ethiopia in 1952 to the formation of Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) in 1958 and the decades following the two events, the two countries have had turbulent relationship especially few years after the independence of Eritrea in 1993. Between 1998 and 2000, the crisis reached its pick and had continued these past two decades with attendant human, economic, mutual distrust, political and social losses.

The Ethiopian and Eritrean crisis negatively impact the Horn of Africa as is evident in   Djibouti and Somalia. The area has been affected by years of famine, disease, low economic development, weak governance, corruption, inefficiency, inadequate social services and the growth of different militia groups. These threats to human well-being and peace in developing countries that should apply their little resources to promote the dignity of persons and communities torn apart by avoidable conflicts show the nobility in the decision of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki a noble one.  A careful and committed completion of this process will reassure the return of peace and development in the region. It is a movement of courage because order requires courage to say no to violence.

In a time when African peace is continuously threatened locally and regionally from South Sudan to DR Congo, Burundi to the Central African Republic, Cameroon to Nigeria, etc., with untold hardship, deaths, displacements, and starvation, every step towards peace and reconciliation must be appreciated. In a time in the continent when millions of children die of malnutrition and diseases of all sorts resulting from violent conflict situations, when women and their daughters are mercilessly raped and violated by security agents and militia groups alike, when the Mediterranean sea and the desert have become the graveyard of African youths fleeing their continent in search of life and hope, peace ought to be pursued with every sense of urgency. The destruction of human, social, moral and economic fabric and resources of Africa through violent conflicts invite us to use nonviolent initiative for peace as a way of life.

The gesture of the two leaders represent what it means to choose peace as they bear eloquent testimony to the words of the Psalmist, “how good, how delightful it is to live as brothers all together”(Psalm. 133: 1, The New Jerusalem Bible). The above was illustrated when the Ethiopian Prime minister’s chief of staff said to the President of Eritrea, ‘welcome home President Isaias.’ Peace is possible when we make the courageous choices and understand that “it is by considering our peers as brothers and sisters that we will overcome wars and conflicts” (Francis, 2016). Peace is possible when we understand that we are ‘one family under God’ irrespective of our religious, political, ethnic, social and cultural identity and affiliation.  Peace benefits all just as war destroys all.  The gesture of the two leaders is a sign of hope for the millions who have waited for the day of peace in the region. The day of order introduced by this brilliant move must be appreciated as we look back to the cost of conflict suffered the two countries and their neighbors as well as humanity at large.

It is important to remind ourselves that in the last two decades, the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea has caused among other things 80,000  deaths, more than 600,000 displacements of people, and a massive damage to the economy of both countries and their neighbors( (Negash & Tronvoll, 2000;  (Bazebih, 2014). Thus, “the war left ineffaceable imprints in the minds of the schoolchildren in Mäqällä. The inhumane killing of innocent children in Aydär is still fresh in the minds of many residents and families of the victims. The Eritrean leadership claimed that the bombing was targeting a military site but in reality, it was the Aydär Elementary School’s 58 pupils and civilians that lost their lives and 185 were injured by cluster bombs (Tronvoll, 2003). Most shockingly, “at the height of the war, Ethiopia increased the total size of its army from 60,000 to 350,000 and increased its defense expenditure from $95m in 1997/98 to $777m in 1999/2000. Overall, the cost of the war for Ethiopia was nearly $3bn. In the meantime, the size of Eritrea’s army increased to 300,000 (almost 10 percent of the population) through National Service Conscription following the outbreak of the war, and the government has been using the intractable stalemate between the two countries as a justification not to demobilize the unsustainably high number of troops for a small nation like Eritrea” (Allo, 2018).

Rev Fr Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka

Rev Fr Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka

What the bitter truth about the two countries and all of us must deal with is that in the destructive conflict, the two developing countries lavished hundreds of millions of dollars on the war. Thus, the resources could have been used to fight diseases, poverty and other development issues that threaten the dignity, existence, and freedom of the poor citizens of the countries and their neighbors. From the thirty years of war with the Mengistu regime to the present times, the two countries have known the harsh cost and consequences of war.

Looking back to the loss of the two countries in the last two decades, Abiy and Afirkwi in the previous few days re-affirm by their action that , “violence is wrong  that we can live in peace, that peace works, that peace is possible, indeed  that peace is the only way for the human family to live and survive.” (Dennis, 2018). The two leaders have recognized that “of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare” (Madison, 1795). Both countries cannot regain what they lost in war, but they can avoid more losses by refusing to adopt the culture of war and violence. Precious lives were cut short in the conflict of the last two decades putting families and communities in pain and sadness.

The two leaders by this act are chatting a new path for Africa and the global community. They teach us to embrace nonviolence initiative as a way of life. This is a unique moment in African history. A moment to reawaken the consciousness that peace is about dealing with our differences in a nonviolent manner as ‘build bridges, fight our fears and pursue a style of dialogue that is open and sincere seeking the good of all citizens” (Francis, 2015). This special moment invites African leaders, stakeholders and all people of good will to see from the lens of John Paul 11 that, “war is a lie….because it destroys what it says it wants to defend”(John Paul 11, 2002). For two decades, war has lied to Ethiopia and Eritrea, and by their noble gesture, Ahmed and Afwerki say no to the lies war.

What if we say no to the lies of war and conflict in other parts of Africa where millions of our people have lost their lives?  How many lives do we defend by killing our people? How can we not see the pain of the child whose ribs can be counted because of the lies of war? How can we not know the agony of the woman who walks hundreds of miles with her children and loads on her head in search of shelter and peace because of the lies of war? How can we not feel the tears of the young girl who has been raped and violated many times because of the myths of war? How can we not see the lies of war in the child soldier who has been forced to carry the gun, kill and be traumatized all his life? How can we not see the destruction of Africa with our own hands at this time? A friend of mine from Ethiopia told me last Monday that he cried when he saw how the people of Eritrea came out to the streets to receive this good news of peace. He said to me, ‘the common man does want war, war is designed by the arrogance and interest of the elites’.  It is evident that, “for much too long, powerful people and political decision-makers have been promoting a paradigm that justifies enormous loss of human life and widespread destruction of the planet in pursuit of an elusive peace, false security, national geopolitical interests and tremendous profit for few people and companies”(Dennis, 2018). The poor people in Africa ask our leaders for just a peaceful environment as they struggle to survive.

African elites who have become conflict entrepreneurs ought to listen to the voices of citizens as we saw in Eritrea and Ethiopia this last week. African elites need to see in the action of Abiy and Afwerki a call to embrace ‘active nonviolent action’ as a tool for social change and African transformation.  A peaceful environment where justice and dignity of all are upheld enlarges people’s freedom and choices. The poor citizens in Africa are mostly affected devastatingly by wars, not the elites. African political leaders and elites need to appreciate that peace starts from within just as these two leaders have shown. The goodwill, the resolve, the process and implementation ought to begin from within not neglecting external contributions.

Is the world listening to these two voices from the Horn of Africa? .Because we do not hear the sounds of bombs and guns in the Horn of Africa, the view of peace echoed by these two leaders may be ignored. Gestures such as the two leaders made this last week must be encouraged in Africa as effort must be made stop supplying arms to Africa thereby reducing African citizens to objects for money making by transnational companies and their governments. Arms and we open of war do not build peace. Disarmament should be encouraged and promoted by local and global policymakers.  Are the warmongers and those who specialize in increasing military spending, building and bragging for nuclear weapons armament listening to these two leaders? Are governments, global and regional regimes, transnational co-operation who see Africa as a money making a machine for weapon transaction listening to these voices re-affirming that we spend much less to build peace than to embark on war?

What if we choose peace and promote the path to nonviolence as Abiy and Afwerki have demonstrated? The action of these two leaders is at the core of the Nonviolence initiative of Pax Christi International encapsulated in the understanding that various forms of violence at the cultural, structural, systemic levels that affect interpersonal, social and international relationships can be transformed without resorting to violent means (Dennis, 2018). What we witnessed from the two leaders is a statement that says no to more than two decades of war as a means of addressing differences. They have seen that “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence,nor repressions which serve as the mainstay for a false civil order”(Paul VI, 1968)

Our hope is that the step initiated by these two leaders and all people of goodwill restores peace in the Horn of Africa.  The global community is urged to embrace the ‘Nonviolence Initiative’ of Pax Christi International, make it a lived experience and approach for sustainable peace because war no matter how just it looks is always “a defeat of humanity” (Francis, 2013). It is the position of nonviolence initiative of Pax Christ that extraordinary steps such as the one taken by Abiy and Afwerki can heal and reconcile peoples and the planet more than any weapon war of war. Battle defeats us. War diminishes us and questions our moral fabric.

*Rev. Fr. Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka is a Roman Catholic Priest. He is a Doctoral Candidate at Howard University in Washington DC.

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Nigerian oil bandits could upend political climate
July 14, 2018 | 0 Comments
The British government issued a travel advisory this week for states in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

Militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria could be political spoilers ahead of presidential elections next year, a risk consultant group said. File Photo by Drew Angerer/UPI | License Photo

Militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria could be political spoilers ahead of presidential elections next year, a risk consultant group said. File Photo by Drew Angerer/UPI | License Photo

July 13 (UPI) — With a British warning for Nigeria in place, there are concerns that militancy in the oil-rich Niger Delta could upend the political climate, a researcher said.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a warning ahead of regional elections on Saturday. Travelers were warned ahead of the vote to avoid Nigerian states in the delta region.

“You should expect increased political activity, including political rallies and demonstrations,” the warning read. “You’re advised to avoid any rallies or demonstrations.”

The warning comes ahead of campaign season for presidential elections in February. Ben Payton, the head of the Africa research program at Verisk Maplecroft, told UPI that only moderate support for the party running in opposition to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari could be unsettling.

“The multibillion-dollar question is whether militant groups in the Niger Delta will resume their pipeline bombing campaign in an effort to hurt Buhari ahead of the elections,” he said. “Some of these groups are capable of carrying out highly sophisticated attacks, and in 2016 they succeeded in slashing Nigeria’s oil production by at least one third.”

In November, the long-dormant Niger Delta Avengers said a militant cease-fire was over and the next campaign would be “brutish, brutal and bloody.”

In a message from January, the militant group said it would target offshore installations in its “most deadly” campaign yet. In a warning to French energy company Total, the NDA said it was tracking the movement of the Egina floating production, storage and offloading vessel.

The last time the NDA took credit for an attack of note was during the second week of November 2016 when it said its rebel forces attacked an export pipeline controlled in part by a Shell subsidiary that has the capacity to carry as much as 300,000 barrels per day. The militant group has moved in and out of dormancy since it emerged in 2016.

“The threat of pipeline bombings is mitigated by the fact that militants would be risking their so-called amnesty payments should they fully abandon their ceasefire,” Payton said. “A more likely scenario is that militants will carry out one or two attacks to demonstrate their continued relevance and push the government into making further concessions.”

Nigeria’s economy emerged from recession in the second quarter of last year. Minutes published Wednesday by the Central Bank of Nigeria said the economy was steadily improving on the back of higher oil prices.

Real gross domestic product for the fourth quarter was revised up from 1.92 percent to 2.11 percent. Growth in the first quarter was 1.95 percent against a 0.91 percent contraction in the same period last year.

“The development was due to growth in the oil and non-oil sectors by 14.77 and 0.76 percent, respectively,” bank minutes read.

Nigeria is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Secondary sources reporting to OPEC economists put the June estimate for oil production at 1.66 million barrels per day. First quarter production averaged 1.78 million barrels per day.

*UPI

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The World Wrestles Climate Change To Stay Below 1,5 Degrees Of Warming .
June 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

 Yes, there is necessity to be formidable against Climate Change and stay below 1,5 degrees of warming . This is done  for the betterment of human livelihoods and for survival sake , being environmentally and Agriculturally  sustainable ,  Health and well-being , free out of natural and human induced catastrophes destroying this Earth .The World population at 7,5 billion people to date face risks , poverty , vulnerabilities and get plunged in sundry  challenges socially , economically and politically  .

Most countries are seriously hit by absolute poverty which is lack of basic needs, situational and in-come poverty, especially in Africa with a total population of 1 billion people. Its entire population is extremely affected by poverty because of climate change caused by Global Warming which leads to 90% induced anthropogenic disasters which have led to severe metrological and hydrological droughts. This is because, we are above 1,5 degrees of warming .

The above mentioned catastrophes have drastically impacted more on communities, in Africa, small island countries, banana republics and in some countries failing to cope up with mitigation and adaptation of climate change. This is because of several factors among them, lack of climate finance social cohesion of political will and the International community not in mutual agreements.

Owing attention to climate change effects in many affected developing countries of the World struggling to cope up with climate change , the thorny issue has turned inflammatory , hence the reason why the Paris Agreement called for the necessity to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming .

Yes, it is necessary to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming because there is need to cherish the good of Health for all , have no poverty and drought , create a sustainable globe supported by a nourished environment for a Green Economy .

It is therefore a priority to for the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to foster policy development so as to forecast on climate change mitigation and adaptation through Bio-Diversity protection, research and development programs. Secondly, the implementation of BECCS Technologies to reduce climate change is important.   Also, there is need to create other technologies which are conducive to a pollution free, disease free and an environmentally stable and manageable livable and sustainable community.

The necessity to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming is indisputably vital so that the World cannot be affected by  instability in rainfall , sea level rise , disasters like floods and drought and the subsequent scarcity of water and basic natural resources . These when not afforded and accessed leads to sundry challenges of immense impact to human lives.

An Expert in the field of Environment and Agriculture, Professor Sheunesu Mupepereki of the University of Zimbabwe contacted for comment said if countries stay below 1,5 degrees of warming there are greater chances of stability in rainfall and this can result in good harvests  . The input part comes with bumper output of harvest and the outcome is adequate food supply that is Food Security leading to an Impact of a NO HUNGER COMMUNITY, NO POVERTY, HIGH EDUCATION and HEALTH SERVICE DELIVERY.

‘’For countries to win on the Sustainable Development Goals like the two on ending poverty and hunger , there is great need to work out on environmental sustainable policies especially on Afforestation and environmental and water sustainability , do mitigation and adaptation so that we can achieve a Green Economy in a Sustainable World free from poverty and hunger .

‘’This is only achievable through unison of the Globe sticking to agreements like those already in place like the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreements which have a bit of relief to our changing world . Of- course climate has been changing but 90% of this is attributable to human forces, working towards destroying the Universe’’, he said.

Taking the heated discussion up the ladder, Environmental Management Agency Chief Communications Officer Steady Kangata an Environmentalist as well pointed out that, to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming is not easy as long richer nations fail to agree among themselves and then sit down on the table to take it up with those most affected like African states and the small island countries which are only contributing a little at most not at all .

‘’Richer States have to come together and weave social cohesion ideas meant to reduce effects of climate change so that we are at ease as far as this is concerned . Staying below 1,5 degrees of warming is possible in the long run if the burning of fossil fuels is taken action against . In fact natural solutions will work for us as we get to zero fossil fuel use. The influence of fossil fuels like coal has had diverse vested influence on the change of climate.

‘’There is need to reduce the use of coal , avoid deforestation , concentration of gases like carbon- dioxide in the atmosphere , methane and nitrous oxide which are the main emissions contributing to global warming which is almost above the normal figure I,5 degrees of warming .

‘’Carbon dioxide trapping heat in the atmosphere could be a problem as long there are no measures like policies in place to reduce this , However , countries under the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change have taken stance against this , though much needs to be done’’ , he said .

Another Expert, an Agronomist by profession Professor Mushonjowa pointed out that there is need to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming so as to create conducive environment in Agricultural activities which have been mainly impacted by climate change . He said, the issue of Food Security is not a reality as long countries are not staying below 1,5 degrees Celsius because this leads to food in- security which leads to increase in poverty .

‘’Poverty still continues because we are failing to mitigate and adapt to climate change , but however we need to adopt policies  and strategies which might one day pull us out of absolute poverty as countries are eager to win on sustainable development goals like on no poverty and hunger .

Taking a breath, he said additional effects on water supply , rising temperatures , sea level rise , less predictable weather , drought , floods , storms , changing temperatures and rainfall pattern effects on crops , pests , pollinators and disease organisms are high .This impacts communities socio , economically and politically .

‘’The risk is on long term economic growth challenges which are a big blow in many countries still struggling to be out of poverty and hunger . Let us take note that, ‘’climate is changing, food and Agriculture must change too’’. There is all mighty need to stick to drought resistant crops like sorghum and millet and resort to short season crops like pulses which resists prolonged drought.

‘’Taking a strong look at this, there is need to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming so that we are kept beyond poverty and hunger . In order to keep ourselves away from this , it is important for Africa to invest in Renewable Energy , turn Agriculture to food and Industrial development and support knowledge economy for Innovation and Industrial development in Africa’’ , he added .

According to the World Health Organization, Climate Change has caused 140,000 death due to hunger, water-borne and vector-born ailments .Speaking on the sidelines of Health, Doctor Portia Manangazira who works in the Department of Epidemiology, Ministry of Health and Child Care said the increase in water borne diseases has also been the issue of climate change in many countries mainly hit by devastating floods.

‘’Water-borne diseases are set to increase as long climate lives. The greater increase is due to the issue of climate change which has arose with high incessant rains and sometimes low rainfall compromising on the strong sharp increase in communicable diseases related to vector borne and water borne ones like malaria and cholera respectively .

‘’Although cholera is a result of failure to handle and manage food issues and proper water and sanitation health  well, the sharp increase in climate change could give another big blow as we move forward. It is now all of us our task to look ahead and manage these issues through global dialogue, syllogism and policy change’’. She concluded.

The question of climate justice still hangs in air as some countries like America continue polluting at the expense of the developing countries. The increase in vulnerable people in communities is adversely exacerbated by climate change which is causing these people not to live below 1,5 degrees of warming .However , though there is this need nonetheless , lack of resources in basic need , lack of climate finance and battle lines drawn between the rich and the poor countries stirs great controversy at a time there is increase in vulnerable people because of HIV and AIDS and climate change death .

In the Agriculture sector 2 degrees increase in temperature reduces maize by 5 to 22%  , wheat 10 to 17% and sorghum by 15 to 17% . This leads to food vulnerability leading to high malnutrition and nutrition in-security, poverty and lack of human development .Such is the problem which led to high death rates of 260,000 people in Somalia in 2010 to 2012.

Climate vulnerability in Africa continues as climate change bites with severe pang of pain, but there is need to focus on the rights of people around the world who need stay below 1,5 degrees of warming by enforcing policies which focus on Global Carbon Budget  . In financial costs, Africa will spend almost 7 to 15 billion by 2020.

This could contribute to continuation of poverty later turning to be of harsh effects to women who have 60% big role in rural Agriculture. Because of these issues, women are failing to do their activities because they are much prone to drought, floods and some disasters. Women and children affected most, this constitutes vulnerability and there is likelihood of high maternal, neo-natal and infant mortality in Africa,  up-surge rise of pulmonary and cardio-vascular diseases because the bigger percentage relies on fossil fuels .

Contacted for comment, Pamela Mhlanga, Director of Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network said staying below 1, 5 degrees of warming could mold the girl-child of today to be a mother who contributes far more than men in building a better economy without poverty and hunger, but however, it is sad to note that women voices in climate change issues were so low over the recent years because of lack of equality and equity.

‘’Women participation is always low at all levels but on climate change , let us take the equal front and equip ourselves because we are the ones at the forefront of being mainly affected when disasters come .We need advocacy , sensitization and awareness , awakening women voices in climate change issues to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming . Besides, let us capacity build women on 100% Energy technical support, empowering women with clean, efficient modern stoves’’, she elucidated.

Taking sides, Women Coalition of Zimbabwe Co-coordinator, Sally Dura ignited on the strong issue of Women and 100% Renewable Energy. Renewable Energy is related to solar , geothermal , wave , hydro and wind , but alas , it is sad to note that 70% of people in Africa have no access to this source which is safe , cheap ,reliable , efficient and easy to use .

‘’Staying below 1,5 must start with women in front and it should be buttressed by the need to develop our planet through shared knowledge and the understanding that Renewable energy counts more than   any form of energy these days where injustices are caused by climate change . Still at worst inequalities are   worsening because we are now at most affected by climate itself’’, she echoed.

Reduction in emissions creates a free from pollution world if solar is used by all countries of the world which need support as far as finance is related. This will lead to reduction in carbon emissions, therefore reversing ozone layer depletion which results in Global Warming.

HUNDRED, 100 % RENEWABLE ENERGY is supported by policy frameworks implemented for the advantage of every human being but mostly we need Education on these issues so that we remain vigilant as we move towards building better economies.  Speaking to this Journalist, Gloria Magombo Zimbabwe ENERGY Regulatory Authority Director said in Zimbabwe access to energy is only 40% of which there is need to develop solar so as to reach high levels of economic development.

‘’ It’s much more to talk about 100% Renewable Energy for us to stay as well below 1,5 degrees of warming . Energy budgets, policy development and more education are supposed to be stand together issues of moral concern for us to win also the sustainable development goal on Energy. The more we put focus on the environment we dwell on energy issues promoting a Greener Economy ‘’.

‘’ A greener is Economy is supported by new clean , smart technologies which are against use of fossil fuels and those green-house gases which deplete the ozone layer . Thus why we as SADC we are promoting the use of Solar –Powered vehicles and the use of Diesel 50’’

‘’However some developed countries are already using Diesel 1o but still us as SADC we are behind. It means then we are polluting by using archaic models of cars which use Diesel 100 which is no-longer recommended .This is a solution to curb use of fossil fuels which are not Environmentally friendly .’’

‘’ If 40% of Zimbabweans only have access to energy , then  clean energy use is far less  as expected , then at a global level we still have a long way to achieve staying below 1,5 degrees warming , but then a 100 % global shift towards Renewable Energy is the only close and immediate solution .’’ she said.

The truth on ground lies on strategizing achievable mitigations and correct lined adaptations in order to conquer challenges we face today. The fact is that before the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century there were 280 parts per million of carbon emissions doubling to 400 parts per million, the world becoming 3 to 4 degrees warmer, this leading to high sea-levels tells a success story of climate change victory. Today we are almost a bit below that because of several measures in addition to climate resilience, governance and political will. We need more effort, support, mentorship and education regarding the necessity of staying below 1,5 degrees warmer. Yes,

*NEVSON MPOFU is a multi-Awarded Media Practitioner . Currently, he is a Lecturer of Community Development, HIV and AIDS.  email:nmnevsonmpofu755@gmail.com

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Africa’s population explosion is a ticking time bomb — African Development Bank Governors
March 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
Africa is projected to have over 840 million youth by 2050 with the continent having the youngest population on earth

The African Development Bank and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment

The African Development Bank and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 7, 2018/ — The African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment, which they likened to a “ticking time bomb.”

The meeting described the continent’s growing young population as a potential growth engine for the world.

“The good news is that the solution is within our reach and will require investments,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

At the end of a two-day consultation at the headquarters of the Bank in Abidjan, CÕte d’Ivoire, the Bank and the Governors discussed strategizes for closing Africa’s $170 billion infrastructure investment gap.

To bridge the investment gap, ensure inclusive growth, and create employment for the continent’s population, the meeting endorsed the African Development Bank-led African Investment Forum and described it as a timely opportunity to catalyze investments into projects and attract social impact financing to Africa.

Tanzania’s Minister for Finance and Planning, Isdor Mpango, called for closer involvement of the private sector in financing development on the continent.

“The African Development Bank is well positioned to advise and assist Governments and the private sector to come up with bankable projects,” Mpango said, calling for direct resources to provide budget support and investment opportunities.”

Through the African Investment Forum, scheduled for November 7-9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Bank and its partners intend to showcase bankable projects, attract financing, and provide platforms for investing across Africa. The forum will bring together the African Development Bank and other global multilateral financial institutions to de-risk investments at scale.

“A uniqueness of the African Investment Forum is that there will be no speeches. The only speeches will be transactions,” said President Adesina.

Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete said: “The African Development Bank has already discussed the concept of the African Investment Forum with us. The Rwandan Government takes this Forum very seriously.”

“Jobs will come from industrialization. The new approach using the African Investment Forum to de-risk the sector and attract investors is the way to go,” said Kiplagat Rotich, Kenyan Finance Minister.

13 per cent of the world’s population is estimated to live in sub-Saharan Africa today. That number is projected to more than double by 2050. Four billion (or 36 per cent of the world’s population) could live in the region by 2100, according to the UN Population Division. Africa is projected to have over 840 million youth by 2050 with the continent having the youngest population on earth.

According to Adesina, “We have 12 years left to the SDGs. It is an alarm bell because if Africa does not achieve the SDGs, the world won’t achieve them. The African Development Bank is accelerating development across Africa through the High 5s. We are deepening our reforms. We deepened our disbursements to the highest levels ever last year and we are leveraging more resources for Africa.”

Tunisia’s Finance Minister Zied Ladhari recalled how the Bank’s 11-year temporary relocation to his country helped strengthen the bonds between them. “We share the Bank’s vision. Africa is the continent of the future. This is a great Africa moment with the Bank at the centre. Unleashing the potential of African economies is a task which the Bank must accomplish.”

As part of the Bank’s High 5 agenda, 13 million African women have benefitted from new electricity connections and 23 million from improvements in agriculture. Also, 10 million African women have benefited from investee projects

An analysis of the African Development Bank’s impact from 2010-2017 indicates that 27 million Africans gained access to new electricity connections. 899,000 small businesses were provided with financial services. 35 million have benefitted from improved access to water and sanitation.

“With the Bank’s support, Somalia has evolved from a failed to a fragile state,” asserted Somalia’s Finance Minister, Abdirahman Beileh. “The African Development Bank has been with us throughout. Together we can reach the bright light at the end of the tunnel.”

Algeria’s Finance Minister, Abderahmane Raouia, said “The biggest challenge for Africa today is job creation. It is a stake of stability and a lever to pull economic growth upwards. We must offer job opportunities for young people to convince them to stay here on the continent.”

According to Simon Mizrahi, Director, Delivery, Performance Management and Results, the Bank needs to move from billions to trillions in its funding and leveraging effect.

Egypt’s Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Mohamed El-Hamzawi, who represented the Finance Minister, said the country has seen two revolutions in 2011 and 2014. He thanked the Bank for supporting the country’s macroeconomic stabilization, financial reforms, infrastructure, and energy projects, among others.

Morocco’s Economy and Finance Minister, Mohammed Boussaid, praised the Bank’s ambition for Africa, and underscored its support for energy, agriculture and infrastructure projects. He said “a capital increase today is not a choice, it is a necessity. Today, the leading export sector in Morocco no longer belongs to traditional sectors, such as phosphates, but to the automotive industry. This generates jobs and adds value for sustainable and robust growth.”

With a substantive capital increase, the African Development will be able to execute its robust pipeline of operations (15bn in 2018 alone), including infrastructure and regional integration projects. The prospects for 2018-2020 are bright, with 50.3 million people benefitting from improved access to transport compared to 14 million in 2017. Also, more than 35 million people are expected to benefit from new or improved electricity connections, in contrast to 4.4 million delivered in 2017.

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 37 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states. 

*AFDB

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Making Accra A Must Visit City in Africa- Metropolitan Chief Executive Adjei Sowah In Action
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Hon Adjei Sowah with PAV's Ajong Mbapndah L at his AMA Office in Accara,Ghana

Hon Adjei Sowah with PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah L at his AMA Office in Accara,Ghana

Calm, soft spoken, witty, and confident, Hon Adjei Sowah is the very epitome of the legendary Ghanaian hospitality on full display in the capital city of Accra that he leads. Appointed by President Nana Akuffo Addo, and unanimously endorsed by all  Council members as Metropolitan Chief Executive of Ghana’s capital city Accra in March of last year, Hon Adjei Sowah has been a busy man catering to needs of the four million people who live and interact within Accra on a daily basis.

Established in 1898 and referred to at some point as the City Council, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly that Adjei Sowah heads manages the entire city of Accra. While its land size may have shrunk over the years with creation of districts within the Metropolitan Assembly, the city of Accra still has a resident population of about two million people. During the day, the permanent residents of the city are joined by a floating population of another two million who come in for work and diverse commercial activities before returning to their homes outside Accra in the evenings.

The life of the city is on commerce says Adjei Sowah as major markets in Ghana like Makola, Kantamanto, Kaneshie  and others are found within Accra. The city is very cosmopolitan in nature with people from diverse backgrounds and regions all cohabiting peacefully. Interviewed by Ajong Mbapndah L for PAV, Hon Adjei Sowah introduces his city ,progress towards making it the cleanest city in Africa as prescribed by President Akufo Addo, and more.

Good afternoon sir and Happy New year, Hon. Adjei Sowah

Hon Adjei Sowah: Many Happy returns and happy new year to all of you too,

And thanks so much for taking time out off your busy schedule to grant this Interview

 Hon Adjei Sowah:.  Thank you, it’s a pleasure

You are the Metropolitan Chief Executive of Accra, can you start by introducing your city?

 Hon Adjei Sowah: The Accra metropolitan assembly used to be called the city council, it was established in 1898 and as an authority that manages the entire city of Accra. The land size of Accra has been shrinking over the years by the creation of districts within the metropolitan assembly largely because of the increase in number of city dwellers. You are also aware of urbanisation; it brings a lot of people into the city. It used to start from somewhere in Nungua to Accra, and now Nungua, Techiman have been taken away. And today we start from the boundaries of Lar, then to the boundaries of Acho, which is ghana east and then to the boundaries of Ga central and then that of Ga south. The city has a resident population of about two million referenced to the population in housing censured figures. But another floating population of two million plus, and that’s because of the influx of people into the city. So during the day, we are working with more than four million people within the city, and then in the evening people go back to their homes, which is outside the city. And all the major markets in Ghana are within Accra and the life of the city is on commerce, and that’s what attracts people into the city, all kind of things are sold within the city. So, all the major markets; Makola, Kantamanto, kaneshie, they are certain unique markets also as well. For instance Kantamanto is like a second hand clothing market, Agbogbloshie is foodstuff market, Makola is hardware market, so all the markets are in Accra. It’s cosmopolitan also in nature despite the fact that the indigenous people are Ga people, that’s fishing but because it is a city, all manner of people are in the city, the Akans, the Ewes, the Nowes, the northerners, are all in the city, so it’s very cosmopolitan in nature.

Mr Mohammed Adjei Sowah(third from left) being introduce as the new Accra Mayor by the Electoral officer from EC.Photo.Ebo Gorman. He received unanimous support from Assembly members

Mr Mohammed Adjei Sowah(third from left) being introduce as the new Accra Mayor by the Electoral officer from EC.Photo.Ebo Gorman. He received unanimous support from Assembly members

You were appointed to office around March

 Hon Adjei Sowah:  Sure, 24th march

What specific assignments did president Akufo task you with?

Hon Adjei Sowah: Well, because you are in charge of the city, there are certain basic things that you need to do right, in the area of social services, education, infrastructure and a couple of things that you do. And the President also indicated that sanitation is high on the agenda, he has stated clearly that it is his wish that by the end of his tenure, Accra will become the cleanest city in Africa. So, we are working hard towards achieving the dreams of the President, in addition to that we are launching the Accra beautification project to ensure that all open spaces and mediums have been greened and landscaped in Accra to beautify the city and to transform and create value for businesses in Accra.

So we’ve also launched the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan because this is a city and the influx of people that come into the city, we are very much concerned about traffic, not only vehicular traffic, but human traffic. If you walk around the city by this time, within the central business district, everywhere is choked, both vehicular and human traffic. So we are working hard to decongest the city, and make sure that markets outside the central business are also functioning. People also don’t sell on the street, in the pedestrian walkway; they get into the markets to sell so that pedestrians can freely walk on the pedestrian walkways. So these are some of the things that we wanted to do, just to make sure that we tackle the issue of traffic situation in Accra.

The second thing is about education, once the number of people are increasing, the population is increasing,  it must also correspond with the infrastructure I.e the education, your drainage system and all kind of things that is supposed to dwell them with. Indeed the president’s initiative of ensuring that education is largely free right from the basic level to SHS has also triggered increase in enrolment, and that is also putting pressure on education infrastructure. So, education infrastructure is key that we need to expand the education infrastructure and even improve upon the existing infrastructure to ensure that people get access to the education in order to give full meaning to the free education that the central government is also pushing hard to ensure that it does it.

Now, the previous Metropolitan Chief Executive  was from a different political party?

Hon Adjei Sowah: Sure

 In what shape did you meet the city when you took office?

  Hon Adjei SowahWell, I must say that largely they didn’t leave any foundation for you to build upon it. For instance in the area of sanitation, it has always been a fire fighting approach, there is no proper system to deal with the issue of sanitation, that this is where you started from and we are continuing with it. So basically you have to start from ground zero to start everything afresh to ensure that you build a system and the system would be working.

One, in the city you can’t have a land full site in Accra, because land is prime, but we generate over 2,800 tons of waste within the city everyday and it must be disposed off, and disposal takes a lot of time because a round trip of 90 kilometres, when one truck leaves Accra by the time it returns back, the day is already gone, you can’t go twice. And in modern city management, you construct what is called a transfer system where refuse collected within the city are disposed off at a transfer station, and the transfer station’s responsibility is then to carry the refuse to its final disposal site, so there are bigger haulage trucks there that can be able to convey them. We’ve  supported a private developer, and we now have one transfer station in Accra, which is located at Achimota and we need to build two more within the city to be able to receive all the waste that we generate in the city. Hopefully by the end of this month, we will cut out to also start constructing one more to receive the waste. So, these are basic things that if we have been able to do, we will be able to collect the waste before you go to the medium term planning of what to use the waste for, for recycling or for waste to energy and these purposes. At  the moment you need to occupy your mind on how to collect the waste first, then the second subject is what you use the waste for, that is what we are engaged in.

A bronze statue of Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), stands in Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in downtown Accra.It is one of the numerous touristic attractions in the city of Accra

A bronze statue of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), stands in Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in downtown Accra.It is one of the numerous touristic attractions in the city of Accra

It’s been about 9 month now since you took office, in addition to what you just said, if you had to draw a balance sheet, what will you cite as some of the things that you have achieved- some of the things that have changed since you took over as the metropolitan chief executive of Accra.

Hon Adjei Sowah: One of the key things that we have done is to first of all change the mind of the people, and let people come to the realisation that we don’t live with filth, that is key. So, we have hightened people’s attention and today even if they see a small refuse anywhere, people start to complain, people start to talk about it. Hitherto, it’s not an issue, heaps of refuse can be found everywhere. In fact when I came to office, they were about forty-two illegal dump sites in Accra, and I have closed down 70% of them and 30%, we are on course trying to close it down. They were created largely because the tricycles that were operating in the system collecting the household waste can not travel at 90 kilometres round trip to go and dump, so they created their own illegal dump site. And this is where the transfer station when they come in, they will be able to receive. So, it is the closure of the illegal dump sites and the coming in of the transfer station which is a major achievement.

We haven’t closed all because it is important for us to give access to the tricycles, If we don’t give them access, then they will be dumping the waste on the streets of Accra and that shouldn’t happen.

Number two, in terms of our revenue mobilisation, it appears that everybody has got his own form of ticket that it issues to city- those who come to do business in the city as a way of collecting money and you are unable to authenticate the receipt that is issued to you to pay. And we’ve changed that system making sure that everybody who is paying for a service has to go use the POS machine which we are able to track how much you have paid, what time you paid. And from where I sit I will know that Koffi had issued a receipt to you for this service and how much you have paid and at what time. So the collector itself is unable to issue a fake ticket. And number two, if he collects the money from you, he does not need to come to me before I know how much he has been able to collect. And these are very simple tools that are available that we are imploring to use over here.

And you are also the former Greater Accra Regional Secretary….

Hon Adjei Sowah: And even before you end, you walked into this office and this happens to be the City Authority’s office.

Look at this place, very small, car parking is an issue, meanwhile you go around and trump people’s car from parking at unauthorised places. This is not something that I’m happy about, this is not something that we should encourage. Relatively, you’re a young person and I think that if we want to leave a legacy, the thing that we need to build a modern office. So when I came to office I builded a new office complex, a three-story with a huge auditorium, and an office which befits the city authority that when you walk in, you’ll know that you are walking into your office. And by February, we’ll commission that office and start using that office so that when you’re coming, you know that you’re coming to do real business and not in this environment. This is not what we should encourage.

So Hon. Adjei is also the former regional Secretary of New Patriotic Party (NPP)

Hon Adjei Sowah:   Yeah

So how do you balance your role as a party man and as Chief Executive of the Accra metropolitan?

Hon Adjei Sowah:  Well, since I assumed this office, I’ve relinquished that particular position as regional Secretary because there’ll be even a conflict of interest because in this position, you’re supposed to serve the totality of Ghanaians and not necessarily your party faithfuls. So I have relinquished that particular position. It is a position that I duly cherished, I held that position at the interest for the people and I’ve learnt a lot working with people, how to deal with individuals on a political font. I was there for two terms and I really miss that position.

And to those who have not had the privilege of visiting Accra, can you give us a couple of reasons why they should visit your city.

Hon Adjei Sowah:   Well, first of all, Accra is a city where life goes on; you need to live it, love it. If you come into Ghana, you are first of all welcomed to Accra. The good thing is that the people are very nice people. There are many cities that you can’t walk in the night. In the city of Accra, you are safe, you can walk around 24 hours and nobody hurts you, there’s no attack on you. The people are also very nice and there are quite an  interesting places also to visit for fun and for tourism as well. If you go to the old Accra where we interfaced with the whites during the colonial period of slavery, all these houses are still there and you can see the general post office. The general post office as it is, it’s just been repainted but the structure as it is pre colonial time is the same thing that is and you will marvel when you see those pictures.

So it’s a very interesting city, the people here are also hardworking and everybody is finding some business to do, service you know, very important.

We have 24 hours electricity unlike other cities in Africa where their light can go off every five minutes and come back. We have free flow of water. The basic social amenities are available in Accra. So I think that anytime you come to Accra, you will feel very welcome to the city.

Ensuring a filth-free City remains one of the priorities of Hon Adjei Sowah

Ensuring a filth-free City remains one of the priorities of Hon Adjei Sowah

And just as we are about to wrap this up, one of the things I also noticed in the city was Churches everywhere. So when do people have the time to help you keep the city clean, when do people have the time to do other activities when there are Churches Churches Churches everywhere?

Hon Adjei Sowah:  I think that is an African phenomenon and I can give you my wide reasons as well to that. Generally, the churches are coming from Europe and America and they have settled here. Those day when Europe and America were going through their struggle, they were also compelled to look up to God for their survival, now that they may be on their feet, people hardly go to Church and think about God in America and Europe and sometimes people also want to compete with God.

This is Africa, we believe in god and we worship god in various forms and shape. We believe in traditional religion and in fact, our lives, our culture in itself tend to appreciate god and we express it in various forms. So it is not only people who go to Church but people who also sit in their quiet corner, they don’t go to Church but they believe in God, we believe in God. I don’t think we can find and atheist in this country but we can find people like that somewhere else.

And your mandate is supposed to last for four years. So when I come back to visit Accra in four years, how different will Accra be from what it is today?

Hon Adjei Sowah:  Well I think that you are going to be a very beautiful city, enhanced, you are going to see a clean city, you are going to see a green city, you’re going to see a city that employs ICT tools in working, and you are going to see a very bubbling city, residents are thriving and everybody will be happy and smiling, maybe you are going to see a happy city.

Thank you very much for talking to Pan African visions

Hon Adjei Sowah : Thank you very much, it’s a pleasure

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Activity Expands in African Economies on Stability, Demand
January 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
 
  • PMIs show expansion in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda
  • South African index remains below neutral level of 50

Nigeria’s December PMI rose to 56.8 from 55.2. Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

Nigeria’s December PMI rose to 56.8 from 55.2. Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

Business activity in some of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest economies is expanding due to increased demand and the return of political stability.

Purchasing Managers Indexes published on Thursday showed expansion in companies in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia in December. In South Africa, the continent’s most-industrialized economy, the index fell and remained below the neutral mark of 50 for the fifth straight month as the fiscal outlook remains challenging and the risk of further sovereign credit-ratings downgrades persists.

“The PMIs indicate that sub-Saharan African economies entered 2018 on a more positive note than at the beginning of last year,” Mark Bohlund, an economist at Bloomberg Economics, said. “The South African PMI reading is in line with our expectation for the strong private consumption growth in the second and third quarters to moderate in the fourth quarter and 2018.”

Activity Expands

South Africa is the only major African economy where the PMI is below 50

While economic growth in the region almost doubled to 2.6 percent last year, according to International Monetary Fund estimates, delays in policy changes is a risk to expansion. Output levels in these economies are often sensitive to changes in commodity prices and the political environment.

Ghana held a peaceful election at the end of 2016, with a new government taking over at the start of last year. Kenya’s August vote and the rerun in October were marred by violence and while the incumbent government retained its position, the opposition disputes the outcome. South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two largest economies, will both hold elections next year.

Foreign-Exchange Availability

Nigeria’s December PMI rose to 56.8 from 55.2, with the fastest growth in new business received by private-sector companies since Stanbic IBTC Bank and IHS Markit started the survey in 2014. The nation has relaxed some currency controls implemented after the price of oil, its main export, crashed in 2014. That’s helped revive the economy — which contracted in 2016 — even though there are still dollar shortages and the central bank continues to operate a system of multiple exchange rates.

“The rebound in foreign-exchange availability partly due to improvements in the oil sector helped buoy economic growth in 2017,” Ayomide Mejabi, an economist at Stanbic, said in a note. This year, “we expect the Nigerian economy should continue its rebound, perhaps reaching 2.5 percent driven mainly by further improvements in the oil sector and some structural adjustments.”

Kenya’s December PMI rose above 50 for the first time since April and new business and new-export orders increased for the first time in five months. The index was little changed in Uganda at 54.3 and Ghana at 53.5. Zambia’s PMI dropped to 52.9 from 54.7.

“The PMIs indicate that East Africa will continue to outgrow other sub-regions,” Bohlund said.

*Bloomberg

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Third Africa Business Media Innovators Summit To Convene Media Visionaries From 20 African Nations in Ghana
November 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
Delegates Gather in Accra to Address the Changing Media Landscape and New Hybrid Models 
ACCRA, Ghana, 12th November, 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- More than 100 senior executives, entrepreneurs and thought-leaders from media, tech, business and civil society will gather in Accra from Sunday 12 to Tuesday 14 November, for the annual Africa Business Media Innovators summit (ABMI), to discuss the changing face of media and new hybrid models.

Convened by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the Ford Foundation, Africa Business Media Innovators is a part of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa, a pan-Africa program launched by Michael R. Bloomberg to advance business journalism on the continent.

ABMI 2017 will be hosted by Matthew Winker, Co-Founder of Bloomberg News and Editor Emeritus, and Justin B. Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media, and will examine the many new trends and approaches in the wider communications sector, from revenue models to content creation and distribution. The forum is designed so that media companies can share their strategies for navigating these changes, and their efforts to impact inclusive and sustainable economic growth on the continent.

H.E. President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana will welcome the delegates from across Africa, the United Kingdom and United States, and open the convening.

The program will include moderated discussions, interactive sessions, extended Q&As, and interviews with, among others: Strive Masiyiwa, Econet; Khanyi Dhlomo, Ndalo Media; Samuel Attah Mensah, OMNI Media Group; Kadija Patel, Mail & Guardian; Amrote Abdella, Microsoft 4Afrika; Omar Ben Yedder, IC Publications; Adama Wade, Financial Afrik; Erik Charas, Verdade; Caroline Southey, The Conversation; Turi Munthe, North Based Media; and Herbert Wigwe, Access Bank.

The event appeals to a global audience with a focus on the media industry in Africa. The topics which will be covered include:

· The changing face of media in Africa and other emerging markets
· Strengthening African media capacity by innovating with new hybrid models
· Leveraging the changes in media practices to enable Africans to tell stories about Africa · The role of business journalism and African media as a driver of inclusive growth

The upcoming forum will also consider: how business leaders across the continent and globally can continue to contribute to a vibrant media sector; what the primary source of revenue will be; what medium consumers will rely on for news in the next five to ten years; and what enabling factors will enhance media and business journalism.

Matthew Winkler, Co-Founder of Bloomberg News and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus says: “As the geopolitical landscape changes with African economies showing the most dynamic demographic opportunity for growth, the continent must continue to build media capacity that will serve Africans’ increasing need for accurate and relevant business information. This annual gathering of global industry peers is testament to the power and determination of the communications industry to drive and maintain growth.”

The ABMI summit was previously hosted in Kenya and South Africa, where stakeholders and influencers of the media and business landscape in Africa addressed the importance of a robust financial journalism sector, and the value of data and data-related technologies to drive international investment and economic growth. Admittance to this event is on an invitation-only basis. For more information, please visit the Africa Business Media Innovators 2017 site.

 

 

“Media professionals hold a very powerful role. They have the power to change mindsets, provide fresh perspectives and influence behavior. This applies to financial markets as well as to geopolitical dynamics, perceptions about gender, and inter-regional dialogue. It is important that media engages in this role responsibly. With modern platforms and technology, ethical reporting is increasingly vital,” Graça Machel, Executive Director and Founder, Graça Machel Trust.

“Media, in whatever shape or form, will strengthen in Africa. There is a desire for better content, for better journalism, for original African content. We will reach a critical mass where commercially we will have the resources to produce this. Right now, things are too fragmented, too few resources are invested in local content, and governments in general are not interested in developing a vibrant media environment.

“That said, I continue to see an unwavering commitment from entrepreneurs and media practitioners to invest money and time to develop the media industry as a whole, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to achieve this. But like all businesses right now, media houses will have to be nimble and know how to adapt to create a sustainable business model, which is easier said than done,” Omar Ben Yedder, Group Publisher and Managing Director, IC Publications.

“We need collaborative thinking about how we manage the stresses and strains being experienced by the media in Africa. New models are being tried and tested all the time. It’s wonderful that Bloomberg is providing the opportunity for these experiences to be shared and for all of us to learn from one another. I’m looking forward to sharing the successes, and the hard knocks, we’ve taken getting The Conversation Africa established in the south, east and west of the continent,” Caroline Southey, Editor, The Conversation Africa.

“We are happy to be partnering with Bloomberg Philanthropies for ABMI 2017, a third in a series of enriching and thought provoking sessions about Africa media. We believe in the transformative power of the media and will continue to support innovative approaches that can leverage on this power to give voice to the voiceless and drive a growth that is inclusive across the African continent,” Paul Nwulu, Programme Officer, West Africa, Ford Foundation.

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million.

The Ford Foundation is an independent, non-profit, grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

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Aliko Dangote at UN General Assembly in New York: “Africa will become the food basket of the world” ; “Five of the twelve million jobs needed in Africa soon must be created in Nigeria”; “We should pray that oil prices remain low”
September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

Founder and Chief Executive of Dangote Group Aliko Dangote

Founder and Chief Executive of Dangote Group Aliko Dangote

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 20, 2017/ — Nigerian business leader Aliko Dangote told investors “Agriculture, agriculture, agriculture. Africa will become the food basket of the world.”

In a packed room at the headquarters of global law firm Shearman and Sterling LLC  high level business leaders and international diplomats invited by the Corporate Council for Africa to hear Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and Rwandan president Paul Kagame openly converse on Africa’s opportunities and challenges.

Both leaders underscored the ongoing movement to diversify African economies. In the case of  Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, Dangote stated “we should pray that oil prices remain low. This helps wean us off the dependency on revenues from petroleum. We must take oil to be the icing on the cake. We already have the cake,” he added.

In addition to agriculture Dangote cited Nigeria’s vast mineral resources and gas as well and the need to manufacture more goods locally for domestic consumption. Both he and President Kagame cited continued need for heavy investments in education and connected the need for young people to be well trained for the jobs of tomorrow.

Dangote predicted that “five of the twelve million jobs needed in Africa soon must be created in Nigeria.”

Dangote’s fortune which stems from cement, sugar, and other household commodities has expanded into fertilizer and other processed high-value goods. “Technology of course helps us a lot and our factories are state of the art with the use of robotics but we shouldn’t be overly tech oriented to create wealth,” he told investors.

Mr. Dangote who is often cited as one of the most inspiring business leaders in the world today and a model for young entrepreneurs offered advice to Americans who tend to rely on outdated news and wrong perceptions of Africa, “Don’t be lazy. Go there and find the real story for yourself. Things have changed.”

 

Dangote noted the Rwanda success story where he has business interests as an example of positive change, good governance and leadership, and where corruption has been cured. He cited a personal experience of offering a $100 US tip for services at the Kigali Airport to staff who refused to take money for work they were paid to do. President Kagame was praised for delivering the environment for growth he promised. “There is nothing African about corruption,” the Rwandan president added.

The session was moderated by Rosa Whitaker, former US Trade Representative and author of the AGOA (African Growth Opportunity Act), whose business consultancy is credited for helping both African governments and US companies develop commerce.

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CONSTITUENCY FOR AFRICA ANNOUNCES CO-CHAIRS FOR THE 2017 RONALD H. BROWN AFRICAN AFFAIRS SERIES
August 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Constituency for Africa (CFA) Hosted President Hage Geingob of Namibia  During the 2016 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series

The Constituency for Africa (CFA) Hosted President Hage Geingob of Namibia During the 2016 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series

WASHINGTON, DC (August 29, 2017) – The Constituency for Africa (CFA) announces the Co-chairs for its 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series. This year’s series will be held from September 18th through September 22nd in Washington, DC. The schedule of events and registration information are available at www.ronaldbrownseries.org.

“The theme of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series is Mobilizing the Diaspora in Support of the U.S.-Africa Agenda,” stated Mr. Melvin P. Foote, CFA’s President & CEO. “We are extremely fortunate to have such distinguished Co-chairs, representing government, industry, civil society, academia, and the media. As CFA stakeholders, our Co-chairs enable us to broadly engage and mobilize our constituency in the U.S., Africa, and throughout the African Diaspora.”

The Co-chairs of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series include:

 

  • Honorable Arikana Chihombori, African Union Ambassador to the U.S.;
  • Ambassador Andrew J. Young, Chairman of the Andrew J. Young Foundation;
  • Honorable Karen Bass, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations;
  • Ambassador Rueben Brigety, Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University;
  • Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Joint Visiting Fellow, University of Pennsylvania Perry World House and Brookings Institution;
  • Honorable Jendayi Frazer, Adjunct Senior Fellow for African Studies, Council on Foreign Relations;
  • Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control;
  • Mr. Roger Nkodo Dang, President of the Pan African Parliament;
  • Mr. John Momoh, Founder & CEO, Channels TV Nigeria;
  • Ms. Mimi Alemayehou, Managing Director at the Black Rhino Group;
  • Mr. Raymond Dabney, CEO of the Cannabis Science Research Foundation;
  • Mr. Renato Almeida, International Government Affairs Manager at Chevron;
  • Mr. Mahtar Ba, Founder and Executive Chairman of AllAfrica Global Media;
  • Professor Akin Abayomi, Principal Investigator, Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET Africa);
  • Dr. Wilfred Ngwa, Global Health Catalyst Director at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center;
  • Honorable Pamela Bridgewater, President & CEO, The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa;
  • Honorable Lauri Fitz-Pegado, Partner, The Livingston Group, LLC;
  • Mr. Forrest Branch, Managing Director & Partner, EMH Prescient Investment Management (Namibia);
  • Mr. Michael Sudarkasa, CEO of Africa Business Group (South Africa); and
  • Ms. Jeannine Scott, Founder & Principal of America to Africa Consulting.

The purpose of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series will be to bring together stakeholders from the U.S., Africa, and throughout the Diaspora to assess the U.S. Administration’s Africa policy, and to identify challenges and opportunities in a number of key areas, including Healthcare Infrastructure, Democracy & Governance, Trade & Investment, Next Generation Leadership, Agriculture, and Diaspora Engagement. CFA and its partners will produce a Diaspora strategy to include policy recommendations for the U.S. Administration and the African Union. This year’s series is being organized by CFA, in cooperation with the African Union Mission in Washington, DC.

CFA also announces the appointment of Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins to its Board of Directors. “We are excited to have Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins join CFA’s Board of Directors. She will lend her considerable experience and expertise to our current team, and help position CFA for the years to come,” stated Mr. Foote. Before her recent position as a Joint Visiting Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Perry World House and Brookings Institution, Ambassador Jenkins served as Ambassador at the U.S. Department of State and was the Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. Also during her time as Coordinator, Ambassador Jenkins worked on the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), which is an international effort with over 55 countries to reduce infectious disease threats such as Ebola and Zika.

On the CFA Board of Directors, Ambassador Jenkins joins Dr. Roscoe M. Moore, Jr., Interim Chairman and former Assistant U.S. Surgeon General and Rear Admiral, U.S. Public Health Service (retired); and Board Members Honorable Stanley L. Straughter, Chairman of the UNESCO Center for Global Education; Mr. Raymond C. Dabney, President, CEO, and Co-founder of Cannabis Science, Inc.; Mr. John Momoh, Chairman of Channels Media Group; and Ms. Jeannine B. Scott, Founder and Principal of American to Africa Consulting.

About the Constituency for Africa:

For over 26 years, CFA has established itself as one of the leading, non-partisan organizations focused on educating and mobilizing the American public and the African Diaspora in the U.S. on U.S.-Africa policy.  As a result, CFA has helped to increase the level of cooperation and coordination among a broad-based coalition of individuals and organizations committed to the progress, development, and empowerment of Africa and African people worldwide.

 

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Independence of the Judiciary and Security of Investments-Opportunities & Challenges
August 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Chief Charles A. Taku*

 

Introduction

Chief Charles Taku

Chief Charles Taku

Africa is endowed with abundant largely unexploited natural resources and raw materials yet the continent is afflicted by poverty, diseases and violent conflicts in the midst of plenty. Unfortunately, these resources when exploited are often not done so for the benefit of the people of Africa.

The availability and abundance of these resources present Africa with great investment opportunities. The paucity of a credible continental legal and economic framework defining Africa’s investment needs has led to a scramble for Africa’s resources by the leading nations of the world, from West to the East. This scramble has in turn generated an economic cold war that affects all sectors of Africa’s economic, political and social life.

Investing in Africa under the prevailing economic, judicial and political condition breeds significant challenges and invites critical questions that require answers. Significant among these is the question whether a credible independent judicial mechanism exists within Africa that regulates investment contracts in Africa that benefits Africa. Do African countries possess independent judiciaries capable of guaranteeing the security of investments in the continent through fair trial processes? Who negotiates the terms of the investments? Are the terms of negotiated investments favorable to Africa? Do investment contracts in Africa contain transfer of technology clauses aimed at transforming African economies from markets of cheap raw materials to markets for processed finished products? Is Africa endowed with an enabling legal environment for negotiating, drafting, interpreting and adjudicating investment conflicts?  What are the opportunities and challenges that investors face in Africa? How can these challenges be surmounted? The answers to these questions and more are the subject of this paper.

The Universal Foundations of the Independence of the Judiciary

Among the founding objectives of the United Nations enshrined in the preamble of the UN Charter was a reaffirmation of “ … faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity of nations large and small, and the establishment of conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and sources of international law can be maintained, to promote social and better standards of life in freedom; and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples”.[1]

These universal conditions for the administration of justice significantly inspired and informed the founding of the United Nations in 1945. Justice for all was therefore, conceived and proclaimed a critical instrument for the promotion and protection of peace, and “the economic and social advancement of all peoples”.

In furtherance of this objective, the UN multilateral human rights treaty regime adopted provisions that guarantee the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary and recommended that they be enshrined in the laws of state parties to the respective conventions.[2] To safeguard, protect and promote the independence of the judiciary within the international and national justice systems, the United Nations adopted the “Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary”.[3]

The preamble of these basic principles emphasizes that the organization and administration of justice in every country, member state of the United Nations must be inspired by the principles. It states that efforts must be undertaken to translate these principles fully into reality. And that the rules concerning the exercise of judicial office should aim at enabling judges to act in accordance with the principles, because “judges are charged with the ultimate decision over life, freedoms, rights, duties and property of citizens”.

There is therefore no gainsaying that the United Nations Charter foundation of universal tenets of Justice as the underlying principles for the attainment of world peace, security, economic well-being and prosperity of nations big and small, is well settled in customary international law. It is on this basis that these principles are enshrined in the Constitutions of member states.

It cannot reasonably be disputed that at the founding of the United Nations in 1945, Africa was not a subject of international law. Africa and peoples of Africa descent were not contemplated by the founding fathers of the United Nations when they made the justice, economic, human rights and security pledges as the salvific tenets of a new world order and civilization. The so-called big and small nations that came under the protections afforded in the UN Charter did not include Africa and peoples of African descent. They were then invariably considered as chattel, European possessions, colonies by any other name but nations or states. Emerging from the humiliation of its World War defeat and occupation by Germany, France for example, led a genocidal campaign in its French Africa possessions orchestrating the extermination of millions of pro-independence nationalists and armless civilians in French Cameroun and Algeria.[4]

Without the protections afforded by the United Nations Charter Africa was deprived on the economic sovereignty over its vast natural resources. Africa could not exercise judicial independence over commerce, industry and investments in the continent. There was therefore no investment charter for the benefits of African European colonies or possessions. Investments benefitted the colonial masters and their national economies. Africans were valued as slave labour and nothing more.

Decrying this situation in 1949 Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe ( Zik of Africa) in an Address delivered at the Plenary Session of the British Peace Congress powerfully submitted “There is gold in Nigeria. Coal, lignite, tin, columbite, tantalite, lead, diamonite, thorium, (uranium-133), and tungsten in Nigeria, rubber, cocoa, groundnuts, benniseeds, coton, palm oil, and palm kernels. Timber of different kinds is found in many areas of this Africa fairyland. Yet despite these natural resources which indicate potential wealth, the great majority of Nigerians live in want”.[5]  Dr Azikiwe speaking for all Africans stated emphatically, “therefore, we are compelled to denounce imperialism as a crime against humanity, because it destroys human dignity and is a constant cause of wars”.

Invoking the human carnage and devastation of the just ended World War 2 in which Africans were drafted to combat not as free people fighting for the interests of Africa and African Peoples, but as mere tools or instruments of warfare deployed to protect the economic and security interests of their colonial masters, Dr Azikiwe made the following proclamation amongst others: “We shall no longer be dragooned to act as cannon fodder in the military juggernaut of hypocrites who dangle before our people misleading slogans in order to involve humanity in carnage and destruction”.

The conscience awakening alarm raised by Zik of Africa in the threshold of the founding of the United Nations with lofty principles underpinning justice and economic empowerment as the salvation credo for a peaceful, prosperous world which ignored the situation of Africa and black peoples the world over, endures to this day. It endures because the cosmetic independence that was granted to many African states did not alter the European economic and political vassal possessions status that was imposed on them by European colonial treaties.

Due to the enduring effects of these injustices against Africa, it is safe to submit that the supposed tenets of universal justice, that includes the independence of the judiciary are elusive in Africa making the security of investments in the continent attainable but elusive.

 

 

Identifying the Investment and Justice Needs for Africa

 

The submission that the attainment of the goals of fair, credible and independent justice for Africa faces serious though surmountable obstacles may better be articulated through the following address credited to His Excellency President Jakaya Kwikete to the United Nations in New York in 2008.

Addressing the United Nations as Chairman of the African Union, President Kikwete reminded the world body that Africa rejected war, HIV Aids and Poverty as templates on which to anchor a just world security and economic order. He warned that highlighting the adoption of the UN political declaration on African development needs must not obfuscate the fact that poverty and the need to establish economic growth to overcome it was the continent’s greatest challenge. He pointed out that some so-called Millennium Development Goals were inadequate in addressing the serious shortfall in resources to meet African development needs. President Kikwete stated that “In trade, Africa’s prospects remained bleak as the Doha Round was stalled. New negative trends included climate change and soaring fuel and food prices”. [6]

In the face of this bleak picture of the African condition, there is an urgent need for investments in Africa must aim at attenuating poverty, Africa energy self-sufficiency and production industries for the processing and transformation of raw materials into finished products. There is an urgent need for the establishment of efficient healthcare, food security, science and technology and communication industries in Africa by Africans. Foreign investors are invited to invest in Africa but the investments must aim at and relevant to the attainment of Africa economic and investment goals. Investments in Africa that not include aim at the transfer of technology for the transformation of Africa’s raw materials and natural resources to finished products for the universal market are deemed not to benefit Africa.

To satisfy Africa’s investment needs, stable, credible, efficient and effective legal frameworks capable of attracting foreign and national investments must be established. Do the existing legal institutions in Africa provide adequate security for foreign and national investments that aim at promoting growth and the economic prosperity of the continent and its people? I hesitate at this point in time to answer this question in the positive. This is not for the lack of capital building capacity by African investors, economic operators, capable independent judiciaries or competent professional lawyers who can manage the continent’s investment portfolio. The critical obstacle to attaining these goals is the ghost of Africa’s colonial past  which is still  lingering within the continent and manipulating the soul of the continent at all levels of constitutional governance; making profitable investments that benefit Africa and its people difficult.

The Constitutional Guarantee of the Independence of the Judiciary

 

When most of Africa gained independence in the early 1960’s, the newly independent countries became member states of the United Nations. By their membership of the UN, they pledged allegiance to the United Nations Charter and thereafter ratified or adhered to many conventions in the UN Economic and Human Rights regime.

The constitutions of almost all independent African countries have provisions on separation of powers with the judiciary being an independent arm of government. The constitutions of these African countries guarantee the independence of the judiciary. Despite of the provision of article 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guaranteeing through constitutional protections the independence of the judiciary, the effective independence of the judiciary as a constitutional arm of government remains illusory in many African countries. The enabling legislation regulating the administration of justice in many African countries contradicts the intendment of the constitutional guarantees of independence of the judiciary; compromising its independence.[7]

A decision of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in a case brought by the Southern Cameroons against the Republic of Cameroon, better explains this point succinctly. In that case the African Commission decided that Cameroon lacked independence of the judiciary despite the existence of a constitutional provision guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary and separation or powers[8]. In that decision, the African Commission found that the lack of independence of the Cameroon judiciary violated article 26 of the Africa Charter.

The decision was predicated on an admission by Cameroon that it did not have an independent judicial service commission and that the President of the Republic was the Chairman of the Higher Judicial Council while the Minister of Justice the Vice President of the Council. The said council has a mandate for the administration and guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary. The African Commission found that by subjugating the judiciary to the executive arm of government, Cameroon was in violation of its treaty obligations by violating article 26 of the African Charter. The Commission asked Cameroon to provide an effective remedy by making its judiciary genuinely independent, a decision Cameroon has failed to implement.

A melting pot of competing conflicting investment interests

 

An anxious look at foreign and national investment policies in Africa against available investments opportunities and the investment needs of the continent, there is justification in characterizing Africa as a melting pot of competing conflicting investment interests. Foreign investment in Africa has a checkered history and a tortious purpose. Like a chameleon, it assumes different colours while remaining in substance, the same.

Prior to independence, foreign trade policies of African European colonies were imposed rather than negotiated. African economies were rudimentary and mainly aimed at producing and supplying raw materials for the European industrial and commercial markets. The huge mineral deposits and agricultural potential which Dr Azikiwe talked about in his 1949 address referred to earlier in this paper, although belonging to Nigeria and Nigerians, as a matter of colonial and imperial policy, in reality belonged to Her Majesty the Queen of England’s Government.

The colonial institutions at independence contained imposed military, monetary, economic, educational, social and cultural cooperation treaties that subjugated the economic sovereignty of the colonies to the erstwhile colonial powers. In former French Africa colonies, France imposed pre and post-independence cooperation agreements imposed that subjugated their economic, monetary and defense sovereignty to the control of France[9].

The subsistence of these treaties and colonial policies in Independent African countries renders an effective exercise of sovereignty over constitutional institutions among them independent judiciaries illusory. This state of affairs led Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to conclude that “any form of economic union negotiated singly between the fully industrialized states of Europe and the newly emergent countries of Africa is bound to retard the industrialization, and therefore the prosperity and general economic and cultural development, of these countries. For it will mean that those African states which may be inveighed into joining this union will continue to serve as protected markets for the manufactured goods of their industrialized partners, and sources of cheap raw materials”.[10] The existence of these colonial and neo-colonial economic treaties have retained  Africa in what Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe characterized as “a perennial source of war”[11].

In seeking to safeguard and enforce these subsisting colonial and neo-colonial imposed preferential economic and investment treaties, the erstwhile colonial powers and the economic blocs in which they belong have resorted to using coercive methods to impose unfavourable terms of trade and investment terms that auction away African mineral resources and raw materials at prices and conditions intended to recolonize supposed independent states. These includes, economic sabotage, political instability, coups, military intervention and the manipulation of international institutions to discredit, subvert and isolate governments and peoples who dare turn their backs on colonial and neo-colonial puppetry.

In attempts to render the resource endowed countries of Africa ungovernable, alternative sources of power control are funded among the civil society, national and international Non-Governmental Organizations, the Military and the political class. With the use of weapons and funds supplied to these organizations, violent political activism triumphs over laudable civil society activism whose primary purpose ought to have been protecting and promoting the social, economic, political and civic rights of the citizenry.

The sources of instability arising from political and socio-economic factors are easily traced to the desire to control the natural resources and raw materials of African countries. The militarization of the political and economic life of the continent aimed at destabilizing many resource endowed African countries can be traced to this factor. Examples abound, but suffice to cite the failed recent violent regime change attempts in Burundi, Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, Angola and Libya.

According to Adekeye Adebajo and Kaye Whiteman, “the EU willingness to find ways of being militarily involved in Africa has been encouraged by France (seeking ways to justify its own continued military presence in Africa).[12]  The problem with the ambitious mission of the EU to support peace and security initiatives as outlined in the EU Common Position on the Prevention, Management and Resolution of Violent Conflicts in Africa is that in conceptual terms, the EU initiative seems good. But it conflates and conceals the colonial and neo-colonial treaties entered into by individual erstwhile colonial powers like France and Belgium in significant regards.

These colonial treaties and policies fuel and sustain the instability that the EU aims to prevent or redress. The erstwhile colonial powers habouring economic and political ambitions to control and micromanage the economic and political life of their former African colonies targeted by the EU initiative are not faithful participants in the EU initiative. There is overwhelming evidence establishing that they are the sources of instability in Africa. These former colonial powers have consistently used their EU members to attempt to railroad the EU initiative to attain their neo-colonial agenda.

The mitigated result of the EU initiative in Central Africa Republic even with the presence in the territory of French troops who have maintained a military base there since independence is an alarming example of this policy of duplicity on the part of France. Mineral resources Burundi has consistently accused Belgium which recently accepted responsibility and apologized for the assassination of Patrice Lumumba plunging the Democratic Republic of Congo into a blood bath that endures till date, for supporting a rebellion within its national territory aimed at effecting a regime change and controlling its natural resources.

The failed belligerent EU policy towards Burundi demonstrated by an overwhelming objection of an EU resolution submitted to the 33rd Session of the Joint EU-ACP Parliamentary Conference on 19 June 2017 arises from this policy. For the EU initiative to attain its objective, the EU must call on its member states to rescind with immediate all colonial and neo-colonial treaties or so-called cooperation agreements that undermine the sovereignty of African states and constitute a “perennial source of war”, violence, instability, impunity and criminality. These perennial sources of war have subverted the rule of law and sound constitutional governance.

Africa does not manufacture weapons but the investment in arms through legal and illegal channels fuels internecine armed conflict on the continent. For this to occur, the mineral resources and raw material of African countries are carted away to support materialistic and capitalist cartels in foreign in other continents. These colonial and neo-colonial treaties are not subject to legal challenges before the judiciary of the African countries concerned depriving the citizens of those countries the opportunity to test their validity and legality before independent judges. This keeps significant areas of the African investment and commercial sectors out of independent judicial scrutiny. The Neocolonial economic cartels have also concluded treaties keeping the judicial scrutiny before national courts, key public and private investment sectors in the defense industry, the oil industry, the energy industry and some strategic mineral contracts. With this, corruption is institutionalized at the expense of the people’s sovereignty over their resources, their economic well-being and prosperity.

Owning African investment dilemma and its Judicial quagmire

 

For Africa to attract valuable national and international investments that meets African prosperity needs, they must aim at attaining economic sovereignty over its natural resources. Africa must put in place valuable judicial institutions that are competent, independent and reliable.

Investment contracts are quite often negotiated by non-professional bureaucrats and politicians without the assistance of lawyers and professionals in the varying sectors of the economy in which the investment is taking place. This often results in unfavorable terms in the investment contracts with adjudication clauses that defer the interpretation of the contracts and conflict resolutions to foreign arbitration and adjudication bodies outside the continent. African lawyers and the judiciary are often not even contemplated as key actors in the negotiation of investment contracts and the adjudication of investment disputes in case of conflict. This leaves investments in Key sectors of African economies in the hands of expatriates and foreign agents whose agenda is to stultify the much desired growth of Africa economies.

It has hardly been contemplated nor desired that a transfer of technology clause if inserted into foreign investment contracts could lead to the rapid transformation of Africa from a continent of perpetual slave labour to a continent that processes and transforms its raw materials for the national and universal markets. Africa must own its problems and accept to conceive and apply some dose of painful remedy to this complex life threatening ailment.

Since President Kikwete raised the alarm that placed the required focus on “poverty and the need to establish economic growth to overcome the continent’s challenges” citing Africa’s prospects as remaining bleak with the Doha Round stalling’, and new negative trends that included climate change and soaring fuel and food prices”, Africa has made frantic judicial and continental level efforts towards addressing these problems. The AU has made some adjustments in its focus towards seeking solutions to the continent’s security, economic, health, technological research, energy, mineral exploitation, communication, inter-African and Pan African justice needs. The efforts deployed so far though commendable are still insufficient or not commensurate to the magnitude of the problems.

The AU significantly made giant steps towards establishing an African Criminal Court to try crimes committed in Africa, relieving the continent of the humiliating focus of the international criminal court which gives the perception that Africans may be inherently criminal. The Malabo Protocol granting the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights have more than any international court in history criminalized crimes which from Nuremburg and Tokyo World War Tribunals no other international court has criminalized.

The Protocol targets a wide variety of crimes perpetrated on the continent including economic crimes.[13] The criminalization of the crimes of illicit exploitation of resources, trafficking in hazardous wastes, terrorism, money laundering, unconstitutional change of government, piracy and the crime of aggression have at long last awaken the enduring effects of the hitherto unpunished historic crimes of slavery, imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism from which colonial cooperation agreements and treaties drew legitimacy for eternal banishment from the continent of Africa. In other words, criminalizing these crimes at long last will target and slay the beast of colonial crimes and its offspring allowing room for Africa to develop and prosper in peace.

The African Union needs to conceive and proclaim an African Investment and economic Charter for the continent. The AU needs to summon as a matter of urgency, an Africa business forum in which governments and business operators in Africa will set in motion a mechanism and frame work for investment in Africa. The African Union lacks a clearing house for informing African investors and entrepreneurs the business potential of each African country. The Proposed investment and business Charter should aim at the AU working on harmonization business and investment law in Africa to enable African and foreign investors to invest in the continent. Presently, colonial and neo-colonial treaties favour foreign investors, particularly those from former colonial powers.

There is no reason why investment contracts in specific areas or sectors of the African economies should not prioritize national and African investors making foreign investors come in as partners only. Africa has to start training its own road investor contractors. African banks have to start providing loans to support African investments in key areas of the African economy.

African lawyers must mobilize to intervene and settle African conflicts of a political and economic nature. There is no reason why the AU cannot establish a Pan African institution for the settlement of investments disputes on the continent. There is no reason why the AU with the support of the African Bar Association cannot establish a Pan African Board of Arbitration to which different arbitration bodies in the continent will be affiliated. Such an arbitration board will keep a roaster of arbitrators from which arbitrators will be to meet the arbitration needs of investors in Africa.

There is no reason why the AU cannot make article 26 of the African Charter more functional by establishing a more robust mechanism within the AU aimed at encouraging and protecting the independence of the judiciary in member states. In this regard, for a member of the judiciary of a state party to be eligible for appointment to a high judicial organ within the AU institutional framework or within an international judicial or quasi-judicial institution requiring AU support, the constitutional and institutional arrangement in the state party must guarantee independence of the judiciary. A failure to set standards in this regard, led to two Judges from the Cameroon Judiciary which the African Commission on Human found in the Ngwang Gumne v Cameroon (The Southern Cameroons Case) not to be independent to be elected to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights making a total mockery of its decision indicting the Cameroon judiciary for not being independent.

 

Conclusion

The Assembly of African leaders, lawyers, businessmen, professionals from all walks of life, the press and millions alive and unborn will look at this occasion with pride. With pride because African lawyers under the banner of the African Bar Association have risen to the occasion and the challenge to summon all of us here to make an informed pledge to lay down an enduring framework of investment, economic sovereignty and prosperity for Africa.

There is general agreement that investing in Africa will provide a much desired panacea for the dire economic situation facing our continent. The security of these investments needs be guaranteed by competent professional lawyers and an independent judiciary. Africa has significant investment opportunities, competent professional lawyers and independent judges. However, the ability of these key actors to manage Africa’s investment portfolio in ways that benefit Africa and the investors is hampered by powerful extraneous actors and factors.

There is a compelling need for all judicial actors in Africa and the judiciary to organize, assert and prove their expertise, proficiency and relevance in playing the role of key actors in managing the investment portfolio of Africa with unblemished expertise and uncontested independence. This conference on investment in Africa is critical and timely. The next conference on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law complement must be organized to complement the results of this conference.

I respectfully submit that the proceedings of this conference and all the very rich conference papers presented here be delivered to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, all African leaders and universities in Africa to help refocus the desired attention on investments in Africa.

*Chief Charles A. Taku is Executive Council of the AFBA, Member for Life; Vice-President of the ICCBA, Member of the Executive and Defence Committee of the ICCBA; Vice-President of ADAD; and Lead-Counsel at the ICC.The paper was   presented at the conference of the African Bar Association in Port Harcourt from 7 to 10 August 2017

[1] Preamble, Charter of the United Nations, 24 October 1945.

[2] Articles 8 and 10, UN General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948. Article 14, UN General Assembly, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 999, p. 171.

[3] Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary Adopted by the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held at Milan from 26 August to 6 September 1985 and endorsed by General Assembly resolutions 40/32 of 29 November 1985 and 40/146 of 13 December 1985.

 

 

 

[4] The French campaign in French Cameroun commenced in 1948, the same year the UN Declaration on Human Rights was proclaimed against the Union des Population du Cameroun UPC founded by Um Nyobe Mpodol and continued this campaign directly or by proxy until 1971 when the last nationalist leader of the UPC Ernest Ouandie was assassinated.

[5] From an address delivered at the Second Annual Conference of the Congress of Peoples Against Imperialism on “Colonies and War” Poplar, London, on October 9, 1949 quoted in Wilfred Cartey and Martin Kilson: The Africa Reader: Independent Africa Rabdom House New York 1970 pp 74 and 75.

[6] President Jakaya Kikwete, AU Chairman Address to the United Nations in New York 23 September 2008.

[7] Article 26 of the African Charter states that “State Parties to the present Charter shall have the duty to guarantee the independence of the Courts and shall allow the establishment and improvement of appropriate national institutions entrusted with the promotion and protection of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the present Charter”.

[8] Communication No. 266/2003, 27 May 2009, African Commission for Human Rights, Ngwang Gumne v Cameroon para. 132.

[9] Cooperation Agreement signed between Ahmadou Ahidjo and France dated December 12, 1959. Cameroon attained independence on January 1, 1960 .The cooperation agreement in its articles 1-6 reserve the authority to 1) determine Cameroon’s economic, political, and socio-cultural orientations to France.2) France shall manufacture currency for Cameroon called the CFA.3) France shall guide the determination of educational programs at all levels.4) The French national treasury shall have a portfolio named operations account to cover 100% of Cameroon’s foreign exchange. After a series of revisions, the percentage stands at 50% today. 5) France shall have strategic priority in the exploitation of Cameroon’s raw materials.6) On 10th November 1961, shortly Cameroon annexed and colonized the Southern Cameroons in the evening of September 30, 1961, President Ahidjo signed a military cooperation agreement with France in which the French army may be invited by the Cameroon President or the French Ambassador in Cameroon to send French troops to suppress an internal rebellion or insurrection or any threats to the regime in place. The Southern Cameroon had voted in a UN sponsored plebiscite to attain independence by joining the independent Republic of Cameroon upon terms to be worked out prior to independence. The independence was attained leading the way for the termination of the trusteeship over the Southern Cameroons but the sovereignty to negotiate a union treaty was subverted by the annexation and military occupation of the territory.

[10] Osafgyfo Dr Kwame Nkrumah: Neocolonialism in Africa in Africa Must Unite, (New York, 1964 cited in The Africa Reader: Independent Africa edited by Wilfred Cartey and Martin Kilson Random House New York, 1970 p. 220.

[11] The African Reader, p. 60.

[12] Adekeye Adebajo and Kaye Whiteman: The EU and Africa: From EuroAfrique to Afro-Europa, 2012, Hurst and Company, London, p.17.

[13] Malabo Protocol Granting Criminal Jurisdiction to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Adopted in Malabo Equatorial Guinea in June 2014) Articles 28 D, 28 E, 28 F, 28 F, 28 I, 28,Ibis, 28 J, 28 J, 28 L, 28 L Bis, 28 M. In addition to the crimes punishable under the Statute of Ad Hoc Tribunals and the ICC, the Malabo Protocol criminalizes and punishes the crimes unconstitutional change of government, piracy, terrorism, mercenarism, corruption, money laundering, trafficking in persons, trafficking in hazardous wastes, and illicit exploitation of resources.

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South Africa ‘coffin victim’ breaks down in court
August 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

Victor Mlotshwa says he was walking home when he was kidnapped and assaulted

Victor Mlotshwa says he was walking home when he was kidnapped and assaulted

The victim in South Africa’s coffin assault case has broken down during the trial of his alleged attackers.

Victor Mlotshwa, 27, told the court how he was forced into a coffin, allegedly by farmers Theo Martins Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen.

The pair deny several charges including kidnapping, attempted murder and possession of an illegal firearm.

The 20-second clip was filmed in August

The 20-second clip was filmed in August

The case has caused outrage in South Africa and highlighted racial tensions in the town’s farming communities.

A video of the incident was shown in court, in which Mr Mlotshwa was heard crying and pleading.

He told the Middleburg High Court that his mother had sent him to Middleburg, a small farming town, to buy stock for her shop, when he came across one of the suspects while using a foot path as a short-cut through the farm.

Mr Mlotshwa only reported the matter after footage of the alleged assault in August 2016 emerged on YouTube months later.

“I thought these men were going to kill me. They were kicking me with their boots and pressing me down,” he told a packed courtroom.

Local papers report that gasps could be heard in the courtroom when a two-minute video of the assault was played, while some people walked out.

 

Mr Mlotshwa was heard pleading for his life, explaining that he had not stolen and copper cables as they accused him of doing.

He gave a detailed account of how the men bound him with cable ties, beat him and threatened to shoot him if he did not get into the wooden coffin as he was told.

Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson deny any wrong-doing

Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson deny any wrong-doing

In a court affidavit, the pair, who are out on bail, said they didn’t mean to harm him but merely wanted to “teach him a lesson”.

The trial continues on Friday.

*BBC

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How much have development strategies changed in Africa since independence?
July 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

*

Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki (left), former prime minister of Niger; Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (center), former South African minister of health; and Carlos Lopes, former executive secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, during a 2013 working breakfast of the 29th Session of the New Partnerships for Africa’s Development at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (GCIS/Flickr)

Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki (left), former prime minister of Niger; Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (center), former South African minister of health; and Carlos Lopes, former executive secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, during a 2013 working breakfast of the 29th Session of the New Partnerships for Africa’s Development at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (GCIS/Flickr)

This week in the African Politics Summer Reading Spectacular, we talk about economic development in Africa. In a broad study of nine African countries, Landry Signé examines innovation in development in his book, “Innovating Development Strategies in Africa: The Role of International, Regional and National Actors.” Signé kindly answered my questions about the book.

Kim Yi Dionne: As you observe in your book, both African and international development leaders invoke innovation in describing their development strategies. But how much have development strategies in Africa actually changed over the decades since independence?

Landry Signé: It depends on the way you think about innovation. In identifying innovation, most scholars focus on the content of development policy. They ask if a new development strategy is just “old wine in a new bottle,” usually on their way to explaining why a policy is doomed to fail. This substantive perspective often overlooks the slow-moving processes of some development innovations.

Most scholars have taken little interest in explaining development strategies in a procedural sense, at least when focusing on Africa. By procedural, I mean the forms, processes and mechanisms by which development strategies emerge, change and impact development outcomes over the long term.

My book examines both perspectives on innovation — substantive and procedural — and pays special attention to the lesser-explored one: procedural. Much of the research by scholars working from a substantive perspective find a lot of continuity in development strategies in Africa. But I find in my work that there are innovations — often incremental ones — which lead in the long run to much more substantial and often overlooked economic and institutional transformation.

After independence, African countries shifted from state-led development to various levels of state withdrawal in the 1980s, combined with strategies for economic integration and development. In the 1990s, states continued to disengage, but added social protection measures. In the 2000s, the emergence of the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) have marked a return to a more significant role for public institutions and continentwide development strategies in promoting economic development in a more market-friendly context. Only looking at the content of strategies, and not taking into account the process of emergence and the long-term impact of policies would miss this incredible transformation over the last few decades.

KYD: An important point you make in your book is that development strategies can be considered innovations even if they fail. Is there a failure you think is a good example of innovation in African development strategy?

LS: New development policies, whether substantially or procedurally innovative, could lead to poor outcomes over the short run, but can also contribute to a much more important dynamic of change. For example, although structural adjustment programs (SAPs) have broadly been considered a failure, they have defined new rules of the game and practices resulting in better macroeconomic management, increased accountability and governance effectiveness. Together with debt relief and a favorable international context, SAPs thus contributed to the transformation and overall good economic performance of African economies in the beginning of the 21st century. When scholars only focus on short-term impacts, they overlook more transformational changes brought by apparently failed policies.

KYD: Your book examines development in nine French-speaking countries formerly colonized by France. Why did you focus on these countries?

LS: I aimed to explain the overall transformation of African economies since the 1960s, providing a big picture of the changes which have taken place in development strategies. To make the study manageable, I first constructed a continental puzzle inspired by Paul Collier and Stephen O’Connell’s classification of African countries by economic structure and economic policy orientation. I wanted the sample of countries I studied to be a mix of low and middle-income countries, oil producers and non-oil producers, landlocked and poor in natural resources and landlocked and rich in natural resources, those that are coastal and poor in natural resources and those that are coastal and rich in resources, and those with socialist-leaning economies and those that are liberal-leaning.

After finalizing the continental classification, I realized that enough former French colonies were well represented in all the relevant categories to cover the full range of criteria for the continental analysis. I ultimately chose Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo for many reasons.

First, as members of the CFA franc zone, they have similar monetary policies. At the same time, these countries had contrasting economic structures, economic policy orientations and development outcomes. These important contrasts, despite the countries’ similarities, were more important in my decision to choose Francophone countries, than their former belonging to the French colonial empire, even if both are intertwined.

Second, I wanted to look at countries that shared the same colonial power as part of a growing effort among African scholars to dismantle the myth that colonial heritage is the main driver of contemporary development strategies in Africa. More and more work shows that domestic political economies interacted with international influence to shape development outcomes.

KYD: How might we take what we learn from your study to examine development in — for example — former British colonies or former Portuguese colonies?

LS: My book’s goal was to better understand how economic development strategies emerge and transform economies in sub-Saharan Africa — not only in Francophone Africa. I offer a theory explaining change over time in African development policies that applies broadly to African countries that underwent structural adjustment, whether former French, British, Portuguese, Belgian or Spain colonies.

I focus on the dynamics of domestic political economies in African countries and on their interactions with external actors. Despite the asymmetry in power relations with their international counterparts, African governments still have agency in making decisions about their development. My book offers a framework for understanding these interacting dynamics in the emergence and evolution of economic policies and development institutions in Africa.

Finally, I’ll say that one takeaway from my book is that we should take a broader view. While we researchers witness institutional and political continuities in the short run, even minor innovations can give rise to great political, economic and social innovations and transformations in the long run.

*Source Washington Post.Landry Signé is a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Center for African Studies, professor and senior adviser to the chancellor on international affairs at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Andrew Carnegie Fellow, Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow, Tutu Fellow and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Follow him on Twitter @landrysigne.

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Africa: Trump’s US Still Lacks an Africa Policy – but That Might Be About to Change
July 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Stephen Chan*

U.S. President Donald Trump poses with African leaders, from left, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the African Union Alpha Conde', President of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn, in the Sicilian town of Taormina, Italy, Saturday, May 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

U.S. President Donald Trump poses with African leaders, from left, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the African Union Alpha Conde’, President of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn, in the Sicilian town of Taormina, Italy, Saturday, May 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

When Donald Trump was elected, almost no one in the US was thinking about Africa. People knew the swingeing State Department and foreign aid cuts the new president promised would hit Africa the hardest, but whereas the US is too embedded in the woes of the Middle East to scale back its costly operations there, Africa simply can’t match it for strategic value or public profile.

On the sidelines, however, serious thinkers were contemplating the future of the US in Africa, and as always happens in the jostling for position that accompanies new presidents in the US, people began to lay out their wares in the hopes of earning an appointment. And at the end of 2016, one, in particular, stood out: J Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council, a foreign affairs think tank, who published a paper widely taken as an Africa policy manifesto for the new administration.

Entitled A Measured US Strategy for the New Africa, it uses the sober language of deliberate realism. Examining both the US’s interests and global security, it affirms that the US still has a mission to undertake in Africa, but not the one it has embarked on previously. Judging by what I heard on a recent visit, the Washington rumour mill now seems convinced Pham will be nominated as the US’s assistant secretary of state for Africa, a vital state department post that’s gone unfilled since Trump took office. So what does Pham’s “manifesto” for American Africa policy say about him?

Old and new

As his choice of title implies, Pham is apparently determined to upend old American perceptions of Africa; the tired old “dark continent” is nowhere to be seen in his paper. But while Pham doesn’t exactly say what the “new Africa” looks like, he does emphatically suggest that the US rein in its dealings with African states that can’t act like states – that can’t or don’t build structures to benefit their citizens or earn proper legitimacy as both states and governments.

Pham also emphasises that the US should not look only to states, but to Africa’s rapidly developing private sector. The state, he says, cannot and should not do everything – a core Republican tenet of domestic policy transposed onto African affairs.

The paper is laden with such “selling points”. One, clearly calculated to appeal to an administration disinclined to rely on the state department is the open admission that that department needs “rationalisation” – in other words, cuts. How this is to be done is another question. So, it is being done by not nominating anyone to fill key posts, and by what the British courts would call “constructive dismissal”. But plenty of very real talent and experience is being lost.

And in a White House where the president’s son-in-law has become a high-level envoy to the Middle East with no obvious experience in anything but real estate, the state department needs every bit of countervailing expertise it can muster.

On this front, Pham’s paper is a worrying document. It implies that the US’s approach to African conflicts might best be left solely to the Pentagon, a move which would do terrible damage. Abandoning civilian oversight would hollow out the US’s understanding of these highly complex wars and insurgencies. The State Department needs conflict experts more than anything else. As anyone who’s witnessed US foreign policy since 9/11 knows, the causes of war are not addressed by dropping bombs.

The lie of the land

Perhaps this is purely academic. After all, when (more likely than if) Pham is appointed, he’ll have little political or budgetary heft to work with. But notwithstanding the diminishment of the State Department in which he may soon be serving, he is undeniably an impressive figure.

Of all the rumoured finalists for the position, he stands head and shoulders above the rest; a Vatican-trained theologian with immense historical knowledge, he worked for the Vatican’s diplomatic service in conflict zones in Africa. He speaks and writes knowledgeably about the crucial importance of northern Nigeria; he is very well connected and well travelled.

If he can use the assistant secretary position to its fullest, he might be better placed than the UK’s new minister of state for Africa, Rory Stewart, a young adventurer who wound up administering much of Iraq and who went on to philanthropic work in Afghanistan. Unlike his predecessor Tobias Ellwood, who was simultaneously minister for both Africa and the Middle East, Stewart will at least be devoted to Africa – but he will also be split between two ministries, the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development.

It seems that on the British side of the Atlantic, Africa is too often still viewed as a single patient in need of foreign remedies rather than a cluster of very different emerging diplomatic and economic players. On that, chalk up at least one preliminary point for Pham in what might end up a sideways-glancing competition between two relatively young men who suddenly find themselves serious world players in the service of equally hapless governments.

*Allafrica/Democracy Works .Read this report on Democracy Works.

 

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Zimbabwe working to align gender equality framework with SADC protocol
March 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Nyasha Chikwinya, Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development

Nyasha Chikwinya, Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community
Development

Zimbabwe has been facing a major hurdle of lack of appropriate
tools to track gender equality status and is in the process of
finalising the monitoring and evaluation framework for gender equality
and women empowerment.

Nyasha Chikwinya, Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community
Development said the framework will provide a monitoring and tracking
system for gender equality and women empowerment.

“This framework will be aligned to the monitoring, evaluation and
reporting framework of the SADC protocol on Gender and Development,”
Chikwinya said.

The government of Zimbabwe is also working on engendering the
realignment of laws to the constitution. The Alliance of Civil Society
Organisations produces the SADC Gender protocol barometer which has
acted as a yardstick allowing member states to track progress in the
implementation of the SADC protocol on Gender and Development.

The barometer indicates that Zimbabwe has recorded a 70% rating on
gender equality against the regional score of 69%.
The barometer also indicates that the region’s citizens rated
governments performance on gender equality at 69%, Zimbabwe scoring
71%.

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Africa Development Week opened in Dakar with clarion call for policies that cater for youth
March 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

Anthony Mogae Maruping, Economic Commissioner of the African Union welcomes Abdallah Hamdok of the Economic Commission for Africa during day 3 of the African Development Week.

Anthony Mogae Maruping, Economic Commissioner of the African Union welcomes Abdallah Hamdok of the Economic Commission for Africa during day 3 of the African Development Week.

DAKAR, Senegal, 28 March 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- It is imperative for African governments to adopt coherent strategies and national development plans that address the continent’s challenges of growth, inequality and unemployment, Economic Commission for Africa’s deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanne Biha, said Thursday.

Ms. Biha said this in her opening speech to the Tenth Joint Annual Meetings of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration and the Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

“The absence of decent jobs for young Africans has fuelled outward migration, both within and from Africa resulting in tragic loss of lives as young people attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search for greener pastures.”

Ms. Biha said since this year is the year of harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend through investment in the youth, more needs to be done by all stakeholders to promote investment in job creation and human capital development.

“It is the imperative for African countries to adopt coherent strategies and national development plans that promote structural transformation and address the challenges of growth, inequality and unemployment within the context of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” she said.

Ms. Biha noted that discussions on unemployment in Africa were not new, adding it was now time for action on the ground.

African Union Commission’s Economic Affairs Commissioner, Anthony Mothae Maruping, said it was symbolic that the meeting was taking place in Senegal, where Africans were forcibly taken to work as slaves in America and Europe.

“We are in the right place to come up and work on strategies to make sure our young people don’t voluntarily and involuntarily leave the continent to look for opportunities elsewhere,” said Mr. Maruping, adding growth on the continent so far has not been inclusive.

“We need to grow Africa. The time to do so is now,” he said, adding Agenda 2063 is seeking to achieve accelerated, stable, inclusive and real economic job-creating growth in Africa. Mr. Maruping said no form of poverty was acceptable as he urged the continent to work hard to eradicate all inequalities.

He said Africa is clear on what needs to be done as it deals with challenges it is facing on the ground, in particular spurring economic growth that positively impacts everyone.

“Africa knows what to do, how to do it, with what and when to do it as we target this growth and inequality,” said Mr. Maruping. “We really want to transform our economies, raise our productivity, promote integration and trade and all.”

Senegal’s Budget Minister, Birima Mangara, in his welcome address to the meeting of experts said his country was doing all it can to structurally transform its economy for the benefit of every citizen.

Giovanne Biha, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa in discussion with Abdallah Hamdok of the Economic Commission for Africa

Giovanne Biha, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa in discussion with Abdallah Hamdok of the Economic Commission for Africa

He said inequalities and youth unemployment were being tackled as well as other related problems that lead to poverty, adding youth and women on the continent should be prioritized in job creation.

Mr. Mangara lauded the ECA, the AUC and their partners for convening a meeting to specifically tackle growth, inequalities and unemployment on the continent.

“It is these meetings which serve as outstanding platforms to discuss Africa’s problems,” he said. “I’m convinced that the debates will lead to very important recommendations that are important for the future development of our dear Africa.”
The Tenth Joint Annual Meetings will deliberate on the theme of “Growth, inequality and unemployment”.

The conference will explore measures for reducing inequality and extreme poverty on the continent in order to achieve the targets of the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan (2013-2023) of Agenda 2063 and the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, among other issues.

Among the high-level delegates present were the newly-elected African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, President of the office of the committee of experts, Lizenga Maluleka, representatives of UN agencies, the African Union Commission, African Development Bank and civil society.

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Africa has worst hunger crisis in 70 years amid budget cuts
March 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

By STUART GRAHAM*

In this photo taken Sunday, March 19, 2017, Rosa Lyo eats fruit at a camp for those who were previously displaced by fighting, near a church in Rajaf, South Sudan. As the world marks World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 more than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. (Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis via AP)

In this photo taken Sunday, March 19, 2017, Rosa Lyo eats fruit at a camp for those who were previously displaced by fighting, near a church in Rajaf, South Sudan. As the world marks World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 more than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. (Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis via AP)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Africa faces the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since 1945, with more than 20 million people facing starvation, and any cut in funding to humanitarian agencies working in famine-affected areas will cause untold suffering, a spokesman for the World Food Program said in Johannesburg Thursday, responding to questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut $10 billion in foreign aid.

“Any cuts at this time are extremely significant, not just for us but for any U.N. agencies and any aid organization,” said David Orr, WFP’s Africa spokesman, at a media briefing in Johannesburg. “With the magnitude of needs at the moment is it vital that we continue with a high level of assistance.”

The current hunger crisis is in three African countries, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria, as well as nearby Yemen.

The U.S. is WFP’s largest donor and was one of the organization’s founders. Last year it contributed more than $2 billion, representing about 24 percent of WFP’s total budget, Orr said.

U.N. operations in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria will require more than $5.6 billion this year, he said. At least $4.4 billion is needed by the end of March to avert a catastrophe, he said, but so far the U.N. has only received $90 million.

“The more dramatic cuts in any aid budgets, the more the number of debts, the more suffering there is going to be,” Orr said.

“We have a situation where famine has been declared in two counties in Unity state in South Sudan. That means there are already people dying in those places. This has been caused by a combination of factors including conflict, which prevents access. Humanitarian intervention is very difficult. Huge numbers of people are displaced,” Orr said. “Now famine is threatening in other parts of South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.”

*AP/Yahoo

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“We Will Support Your Government To Succeed” – UBA To President Akufo-Addo
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu, has assured the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, of his bank’s support for the growth and development of the critical sectors of Ghana’s economy, as government seeks to return the nation back onto the path of progress and prosperity.

According to Tonly Elumelu, investor confidence in Ghana is rising, following the pro-business and pro-private approach taking by the government of President Akufo-Addo. This, coupled with policy initiatives announced in the 2017 budget, is making Ghana the investment destination in the region.

“We are very happy about all of this, and we would like to associate ourselves with your government and support you to succeed, both in banking and in other sectors of the economy,” he said.

The UBA Chairman made these known on Monday, March 13, 2017, when he paid a courtesy call on President Akufo-Addo, at the Presidency, to congratulate him on his victory in the December 2016 elections.

With UBA engaged in other ventures such as real estate, hospitality, oil and gas, and the generation of power, and with 30 branches in Ghana, Tony Elumelu noted that the bank is the biggest generator of electricity in Nigeria today. He also recounted how, during the era of the Mahama administration, UBA supported government to the tune of $1.1 billion

On the government’s 1-District-1-Factory policy, the UBA Chair indicated that his bank was prepared to support government in the realization of this vision, as well as help in boosting the country’s revenue generation.

“Africa lacks economic independence, and people like you, Mr. President, can provide the new hope for Africa and we will stand by you. You have in us willing and capable partners who are proud and happy to identify themselves with you,” he added.

On his part, President Akufo-Addo expressed his gratitude for the visit of the UBA Chair, stating that “we are all in admiration of the work you’ve been doing, not just concentrating on Nigeria, but, looking beyond the borders to countries like Ghana and beyond.”

With UBA being the first Nigerian bank to set up in Ghana, during the era of President Kufuor, largely as a result of the positive business atmosphere created in the country, President Akufo-Addo noted that he was keen on recreating a pro-business climate in Ghana to spur on development.

“We came in because the economy of our country had taken a nose dive, and there was the need for a new direction. Our first task is to revive our economy, and put it on the road to growth and expansion. It is only by growing our economy that we can solve the problems of our economy, principally youth unemployment. We want to grow our industry and our agriculture, and have a solid financial system that will support the growth of these two sectors,” he said.

For this reason, President Akufo-Addo noted that “UBA is the kind of partner that we are looking for to assist us in the delivery of our vision and mandate.”

He assured that neither his government nor his appointees are in office to compete with business men, reiterating that “they are in office to facilitate and increase business confidence in Ghana, and, by that way, develop the country rapidly.”

The President continued, “The Ghanaian private sector is the way forward for us. Our first budget has pointed the way we are going to handle the private sector. We have removed the many impediments there are for businesses. We want to signal to the private sector that we mean business. We are counting on UBA to have a good understanding of where we are going, and be in a good position to fund some of these critical developments in industry and agriculture.”

Sounding optimistic about the Ghana’s future, President Akufo-Addo told the UBA Chair that “we want to build a Ghana beyond aid. We are tired of being beneficiaries of handouts and charity. We want to be able to stand on our own two feet and deal with our issues ourselves.”
*Presidency Ghana

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