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10 things about African women’s leadership
July 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

Betty Mould Iddrisu*


Accomplished female leader Betty Mould Iddrisu shares her top 10 lessons about leadership on the continent and the difficulties women have to overcome to reach – and stay – on top.
There is a harsh reality about women’s leadership in Africa. I have dreamt it and lived it. Gradually, women are penetrating historical barriers that have up till very recently been closed to us, barriers that limited women’s attainment of the highest levels of power and leadership in important sectors of society. Daring to aspire or reaching heights that very few women have attained can be remarkably fulfilling, but also so revealing – with mixed experiences, unique perspectives and at times come with inexplicable disappointments. I have the laurels and scars to show for my leadership journey. And through it all, here are a few things I have come to know for sure:


Even at an all time best record of two female presidents, a woman prime minister and women occupying 19.7 per cent of parliaments across the continent, everyone would agree that these numbers of women in higher levels of politics – symptomatic of female representation in other sectors of society – are woefully low by any standards of fairness, equity or democratic principles of participation. No question, there have been significant moments and achievements to be proud of – the African countries of Rwanda, South Africa and Mozambique are among countries with the highest percentage of women in parliaments, however we are nowhere near where we need to be. And the higher-up I have climbed in my leadership journey, the more apparent this harsh reality has appeared. We must always applaud the valuable contributions of women at the lower and mediums levels, but we need to be at that high-table to partake, contribute and share in the power of shaping our national and regional destinies. We may be making significant progress, but I know for sure the status quo is neither fair nor acceptable.


African women suffer systemic prejudices in making their way to the top. Firstly, we are not taken seriously because men believe a woman is intrinsically less competent than their male counterpart. The incidence of sexual harassment both at the tertiary level and in the workplace are very well documented, impeding women’s progress overall. Additionally, the duties of motherhood can be crushing – if not managed carefully. Most men believe that women should take the primary responsibility for the care of the family so late working hours, weekend seminars, overseas and business trips which contribute to any workers upward mobility are very difficult for younger working wives and mothers. Arrival at the top tier is rare and when you are there you are usually faced with hostility and disbelief in your competency as a female. A woman at the top works so much harder than her male counterparts to prove her competency and yet is still faced with ingrained prejudice and hostility to her playing the role of a boss or leader in a largely male dominated working environment.


Politics – corporate or party – is cruel and generally unforgiving. Nowhere is this more evident than for women in Africa. Since a woman’s role is generally thought of as to be supportive to her husband and family the hard knocks and politics of insults which generally characterize public leadership are not palatable to a politicians family and such women are thought of as bringing ‘shame and disgrace’ to their families. Women leaders and politicians need the support of their sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, classmates and cannot thrive without their active and vocal support. Women are generally thought of not to be supportive of each other and experience of many women leaders shows this to be a harsh reality. It takes a lot of inner strength and thick skin.


Despite the remarkable progress, despite the many breakthroughs, and despite the increasing awareness and acceptance of women’s leadership in Africa, there still remains far too many obstacles impeding a woman’s leadership and her upward mobility. Traditional African society is still hedged by a myriad of barriers designed to maintain women’s subordinate status in society. Inimical and cruel customary practices towards women, disproportionate access to education resulting in the girl child not being enabled to go and actually stay in school and endemic poverty affecting the rural peasant woman are all barriers which contribute towards keeping women out of active leadership roles on the continent. Most of the legal barriers towards women’s progress have been overcome or reversed across the continent especially over the past 30 years. The challenge then comes with shedding outmoded perceptions of women’s role in society and this can only come with time and a ‘can do’ attitude. Forward, we are moving, but I know for sure there are still many barriers to break through.


Traditions are not supposed to be stagnant – they can be used as tools of change. This change is usually spearheaded by the women themselves. Some aspects of African tradition attempt to keep women silent, subordinate and second-class citizens, but many others uphold the dignity and sacred respect for womanhood. While conscious of the many harmful aspects of our traditions, I have always viewed and utilized the empowering dimensions of culture and tradition as a catalyst for positive change – to empower, to legitimize and to advance the African woman’s role in leadership. Culture can be used to hold us back, but we can also shape cultures in ways that are liberating. Much of African tradition, however, that may have been rooted in glorious cultures and histories, have been used by men to ambush women from realizing their full leadership potential, but I know for sure we can also find strength and opportunities in the values and dynamism of many of our cultures.


Higher level education is a desirable but not a necessary pre-requisite to successful female leadership on the continent. Education commands an automatic certainty of status in society because it enables a woman to have a certain cachet. However, whilst I cannot emphasize enough its importance to every woman leader, I also know that formal education cannot provide all the tools you need to survive and succeed as a woman in higher-level leadership, but, more importantly, the lack of it does not disqualify a woman from excelling.


Since there is an ingrained skepticism towards women’s ability to succeed in Africa, it means, simply put, that women leaders must work doubly hard. The path to success is littered with obstacles and it takes huge doses of courage and determination to stay the course. I know for sure that, with or without peculiar challenges, hard work remains a non-negotiable imperative for leadership success. And with the gender-specific challenges of prejudice and skepticism directed at women leaders, the African woman leader has no choice but to work hard with a determined spirit. No matter how qualified or charming, and no matter how motivated or spiritual, a woman leader is Africa needs to work harder then her male counterparts to be counted at all.


Complaints abound across the continent that women leaders do not assist in improving the status of their womenfolk in society. But only a woman, who has been at the top and has tried her very best to make a difference, would truly comprehend the extreme difficulties of being the only one of your kind up there. Women leaders need to and must continue to forge networks and alliances with the grassroots and civil society in order to be responsive to the needs of women at the grassroots and leadership. It is so lonely at the top of that ladder, but I know for sure that broader and stronger networks of grassroots, professional and civil society allies provide powerful forces you can surely count on.


You are always viewed and judged as a ‘woman leader’ and not just as a ‘leader’. You are an African, a citizen and a leader, your ‘womanhood’ remains a pre-defined measure of society’s worldview of your leadership. Consequently, the challenges of being a woman leader are multiplied because you are an African woman; but the harsh realities of female leadership in Africa are myriad – factors such as the extremely low representation of women in politics and leadership at all levels, negative and cruel cultural and traditional practices, the subordinate status of women, lack of education and poverty levels are all challenges to be overcome in leadership.


If there is one thing I have come to know and believe beyond any count, it is the ability of women to lead – in any sector and any field or at any level. We may continue to excel – just as some men excel. We may continue to stumble along the way just as so many men stumble. We may even fail once in a while, just as men have historically failed. But I know for sure that we are capable, we have the right to and we can indeed lead this continent. YES WE CAN!

* Mrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu is one of Africa’s most accomplished female leaders. She served as the first female Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and as Education Minister of the Republic of Ghana. She also served as the Director of Legal and Constitutional Affairs for the 54 member nations Commonwealth Secretariat, as a Law Lecturer and has been a leading voice on gender equality in Africa for over 30 years. She has a tremendous passion for empowering the new generation of African women leaders and professionals. Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu is currently a much sought after International Speaker, Consultant and Activist on law, politics and gender justice.
*Courtesy of Pambazuka News.

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Nigeria Sows Seeds for Agricultural Rejuvenation
July 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Nigeria’s attempts to regenerate its agricultural sector face tough challenges.

Lagun Akinloye*,

The agricultural sector, once the bedrock of the Nigerian economy, has witnessed a steady decline since the discovery and commercialisation of Nigeria’s abundant hydrocarbon resources. Since the 1970s, the profitability and relative availability of ‘black gold’ brought about a change in government priorities; agriculture would no longer be pivotal.

Until the 1970s, agriculture accounted for over 60% of Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) and agricultural commodities were the country’s main exports. Decades of misplaced policies, under-investment and technological stagnation, however, have turned Nigeria into a net importer of food. Today, an average of N24 trillion ($150 billion) is spent importing food each year, and government policies – such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘Operation Feed the Nation’ and former President Shehu Shagari’s ‘Green Revolution Programme’ – failed to turn around the agricultural sector’s fortunes.

Will the President Goodluck Jonathan’s newly-initiated ‘Agricultural Transformation’ fare any better?
Withered potential

The current minister of agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, has been handed the Herculean task of transforming the sector. And unlike his predecessors, who have tended to not be from an agricultural background, Adesina has years of agricultural experience. He is renowned agricultural economist and academic, and has served as a senior scientist for the Rockefeller Foundation, at one point leading their agri-enterprise programme.

Adesina will need to draw on all this past experience if he is to tackle the slowest growing sector in Nigeria’s economy. The good news for the minister, however, is that Nigeria’s potential for agricultural production remains enormous. The country is already the world’s largest producer of cassava, for example, accounting for 19% of world production. Furthermore, a report by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) estimated that production in Nigeria’s agricultural sector could grow by a colossal 160% by 2030, rising from $99 billion in 2010 to $256 billion two decades later. To achieve this, the country would – first and foremost – have to tackle its low productivity.
Reap what you sow

In the past, low productivity has tended to stem from poor technology and research, inefficient practices, and underdevelopment. The sector has also suffered from insufficient financing – funding to the agricultural sector stands at around 2% of total bank lending compared to say 6% in Kenya. Excessive risk, complex credit assessment procedures and high transaction costs are some of the reasons most commonly given for this low funding.

The country’s infrastructural deficiencies also inhibit the sector. Crumbling road networks, lack of power and the unavailability of storage facilities provide little room for advancement. These factors lead to a burgeoning need for imported goods which, according to Adesina, is growing at an unsustainable rate of 11% each year, fuelling domestic inflation and increasing levels of poverty. In 2010 alone, Nigeria spent N635 billion ($4 billion) on wheat imports, N356 billion ($2.2 billion) on rice, N217 billion ($1.3 billion) on sugar and N97 billion ($600 million) on fish. Given Nigeria’s abundance of fertile land, these figures are alarming.

Another problem is the distribution of fertiliser. According to Adesina, only around 11% of government-distributed fertiliser reaches farmers. The remainder is thought to be hoarded by cartels or moved across Nigeria’s porous borders.
Planting seeds of hope

This May, President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC). The council was tasked with increasing the efficiency and profitability of the agricultural sector, whilst enhancing the value-added chains of twelve key agricultural commodities: cotton, cocoa, cassava, oil-palm, maize, soya bean, onion, rice, livestock, fisheries, tomato and sorghum. Vice-President Namadi Sambo was chosen as chairman of the council and Adesina serves as its coordinator.

President Jonathan also introduced the cassava bread initiative by which bakers are expected to supplement 40% of wheat-flour with locally produced cassava flour when making bread.

These efforts on the part of the executive have been supplemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which is attempting to tackle the difficult loan environment for farmers. In collaboration with the government, the CBN has launched the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Management System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL). This scheme will provide risk-sharing instruments to lower risks of lending for agriculture, provide technical assistance to farmers, and by 2015 make N500 billion ($3.1 billion) available to commercial banks in an attempt to boost lending.

The ministry of agriculture has also initiated reform in fertiliser production and distribution under Adesina’s Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS). Under the initiative, the direct distribution of farm inputs will be discontinued and, instead, the government will simply subsidise the costs of buying inputs such as fertiliser and seeds directly from agro-dealers.
Future growth

The various policies initiated by the government indicate an increasing level of commitment to the sector. But success will rest on the durability of these initiatives and whether or not the government has the political will to carry them through. The hurdles facing Nigerian agriculture are many and also go beyond specifically agriculturally-focussed issues – the rejuvenation of the sector therefore can only really be fully achieved alongside the transformation of Nigeria as a whole, including infrastructure.

Whilst some might argue that the N80billion ($500 million) allocated to agriculture in the 2012 budget is insufficient for the country’s needs, used wisely, significant growth is possible. If Adesina, the CBN, the government and other stakeholders work in unison to transform the sector, Nigeria could produce enough food to sustain its growing population, lower food imports, and even become a major food exporter. Nigeria has the potential to be West Africa’s breadbasket, it just needs to be unlocked.

*Courtesy of Think Africa

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Why cities, not countries, should drive investment decisions in Africa
July 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

By  Claude Harding*

Africa is urbanising at a rapid pace. It is estimated that around 40% of Africans currently live in urban areas, making Africa more urbanised than India, and slightly less urbanised than China.

According to Standard Bank analyst Simon Freemantle “2030 will be the tipping point whereby more Africans will reside in urban than rural areas for the first time in the continent’s history”. By 2050 it is expected that more than 60% of Africans will be urbanised.

This urbanisation is likely to lead to a growing demand for consumer goods, presenting an array of business opportunities for companies looking to tap into the African market.

In a new report, entitled Urban world: Cities and the rise of the consuming class, consulting firm McKinsey notes that “most companies are still not looking at cities as they calibrate strategy”. The firm has found that “less than one in five executives is making location and resource decisions at the city, rather than the country level”.

“Companies that understand the shifting urban marketplaces relevant to their businesses and build an early presence with sufficient scale are likely to benefit from being the incumbent with better market access and higher margins. Looking at cities rather than countries can be eye-opening. Take laundry care products as an example. We expect to see more sales growth of these products in São Paulo than in either France or Malaysia over the next decade,” notes the report.

During this year’s World Economic Forum of Africa, Martyn Davies, CEO of South African-based Frontier Advisory, noted that in the future African cities will compete for investment.

McKinsey says that a large chunk of the world’s urban growth will come from a group of developing market cities, dubbed the Emerging 440. It is expected that these emerging market cities will account for 47% of global GDP growth between 2010 and 2025. Africa and the Middle East together contribute 39 cities to this group, of which 37 are classified as ‘middleweights’ – cities that have populations of between 200,000 and 10 million.

Middleweight cities in Africa include Angola’s capital Luanda, the third-largest Portuguese speaking city in the world; and resource-rich cities as Kumasi, which produces almost half of Ghana’s timber; and Port Harcourt, the centre of Nigeria’s oil industry.

Young, entry-level consumers

Although emerging market cities will experience an increase in demand for consumer goods, the level of adoption for specific products will differ from city to city. Demographic differences will play a large role. Companies that are targeting the African consumer should therefore take note of Africa’s relatively young population.

For example, in “Nigerian cities, one-third of the entire population is aged below 16 and sales of baby food are running at more than twice the global average at similar income levels.”

Of the top 20 cities that McKinsey has identified as growth hot spots for companies targeting young, entry level consumers, 15 are in Africa. The list includes urban centres such as Lagos, Dar es Salaam, Ouagadougou, Kampala, Lusaka and Ibadan.


Urbanisation in Africa will also lead to an increase in demand for buildings, container capacity at ports, and municipal water. This creates a huge challenge for governments, but is also an opportunity for the private sector.

“The world’s new urban consumers will have an impact far beyond sales of goods and services. To cater to their needs, cities will need to invest heavily in infrastructure,” notes McKinsey.

*Culled from

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Five reasons why Africa should take off
July 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Wolfgang Fengler*

A week hardly goes by without one or more international investors announcing major investment interests in Nairobi, or other African capital cities.

Nokia, Nestle, and IBM are some of the companies which intend to position themselves more strongly in (East) Africa. True, their investments may still be low by international standards, but they are increasingly becoming noticeable.

On a macroeconomic level, the new Africa momentum has also been evident. Africa has weathered both the global financial crisis, and the turbulence in the eurozone. According to the World Bank, sub-Saharan Africa is projected to grow above 5% in 2012 and 2013. This would be higher than the average of developing countries (excluding China), and substantially, above growth in high-income countries.

This means that at some point in this decade, Africa could grow above the levels of Asia. A few years ago, it would not have been possible for economic observers to consider such a scenario. Once Africa becomes the fastest growing continent in the world; this will also be the true turning point for Africa’s global perception.

There are five reasons why Africa can become an emerging region over the next decade, and Kenya provides a good illustration of this. The first reason is external, while the others are domestic.

First, Asia is growing richer and is becoming more expensive. With an aging and more affluent population, Asia, especially China, will need to expand domestic demand and balance its economy away from exports. This will further raise the costs for production, which will lead to “the end of the China price”, a term used by Pamela Cox, World Bank vice president for East Asia. Other poorer countries can benefit from the end of the China price, mainly due to the fact that more than 85 million manufacturing jobs are expected to leave China in the coming decade. Will Africa get a big share it? Will Kenya be part of it?

Second, Africa will be the new demographic powerhouse of the world. All continents will grow older, and many economies will have a shrinking working population. Africa on the other hand is still young (as a matter of fact, it is also growing older, but from a very low base), and the working age population is rapidly expanding. As family sizes shrink and populations grow older, countries will experience a “demographic dividend”, which occurs when the working age population exceeds the number of dependants, and continues to broaden.

For example, Kenya adds more than one million people per year to its population, and will reach an estimated 85 million by 2050. However, the number of youth (age 0-14) is expected to increase from 20 to 25 million, while that of adults from 22 million today, to 55 million in 2050. This is why rapid population growth is good for Africa, since fast growth is taking place for fundamentally different reasons, compared to the past; it is because people now live longer – not because they have more children.

Third is the geographic transition which is also connected to demography. Most African cities are still small, but growing rapidly; not least because rapid population growth by definition increases the density of countries. Studies show that doubling city size is associated with a productivity increase of an average of 6%. The key issue will be the management of these growing cities. Today, 30% of Kenya’s population lives in cities. But going forward, this share will increase by about 1% per year, over the next several decades, which means that by 2033, half of Kenya’s population will be urban. Geography should also work to Africa’s advantage, because it is not far from key markets. The port of Mombasa is relatively close to India and Europe. In addition, Nairobi has already emerged as the region’s transport and service hub.

Fourth, the expansion in education is paying off. Africans are better educated today than they were twenty years ago. Among the Millennium Development Goals, education is likely to be achieved. Kenya speaks the world’s leading language – English – and the business community largely benefits from a good labour force. Since the introduction of free primary education, most Kenyan children are now going to school. Most of them know how to read and write, but the quality of education still needs improvement.

Fifth, economic policies have substantially improved. The 1990s was the decade of controversial structural adjustment. When I was traveling through Africa during that period, black markets were everywhere. Today they are exceptional. Compared to Europe, Africa’s macroeconomic policies look excellent! For example, Kenya’s debt level of around 45% of GDP would propel it to one of the top performers in the European Union.

Is this picture of an emerging Kenya and Africa too optimistic? Aren’t the challenges still enormous? Isn’t Africa still embroiled by war, drought, climate change, corruption … you name it? Yes, the challenges remain enormous. But look back ten to twenty years, and compare it to the present day. In countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda or Rwanda almost all social and economic indicators are now better than in the 1990s. Even globally, think about it: A few years ago, who would have thought that it would be possible for someone in Kenya to have a face-to-face conversation with someone in another part of the world – for free! Thanks to modern communication, it is now possible.

There are still many local and global problems which need urgent solutions. Between now and 2050, an additional 2 billion people will join the world population, who can help to solve these problems; of these, every second person will be an African. There will also be 45 million more Kenyans. This new generation will grow up in a new world, and be better equipped to solve future challenges.

*Wolfgang Fengler is a World Bank economist based in Nairobi. This is the second part of a speech he delivered at the Annual Gala of to the Petroleum Institute of East Africa.


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Botswana looking to move away from dependence on diamonds
July 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Imara Africa Securities team*

A recent article in the Africa Review reports that Botswana is desperate to end overreliance on mining following threats of diminishing diamond reserves.

Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, said the country was “heavily dependent on a single and finite commodity – diamonds”.

Mining, dominantly diamonds, accounted for about 41% of government’s revenue and 32.3% of GDP last year and Mr Kedikilwe believes economic diversification is the way out. “We do recognise that economic diversification is a long term process and in our case, the immediate concern is how to lessen the country’s heavy dependence on diamonds,” Kedikilwe said at the just-ended Botswana Resource Sector Conference.

He said the country was presently monitoring another looming double-dip recession and had to stay prepared for it. “Economic diversification and sustainable growth cannot succeed unless an overall enabling framework has been put in place first. Priority areas for my ministry are coal and diamonds,” he added.

According to Kedikilwe, coal provides a viable diversification option because of its various utilisation options including exporting it, electricity generation for domestic consumption and export and cement manufacturing. Already, the Botswana government is in the process of establishing a Coal Development Unit (CDU) to facilitate development of the entire coal value chain from mining, coal washing, power generation, transportation, storage at ports to shipping.

“The mandate of the CDU is to facilitate monetisation of Botswana coal by developing and implementing an accelerated coal monetisation strategic plan, coordination of the optimisation of the coal value chain, directing the planning of the coal and coal related rail development, undertake coal facilitatory projects and will be the contact point between government and the private sector,” he said.

Apart from resources, Botswana’s beef sector received a boost last week after the European Union lifted the ban slapped on the country’s beef products last year, allowing the country to resume exporting beef to the EU market.

The EU banned Botswana after observing deficiencies in official controls, abattoir operations and certification procedures. It sent inspectors to assess the country’s animal disease control systems last year and recommended that the southern African country should put in place clear documented procedures and relevant official controls to guarantee that only eligible animals are slaughtered for export to the EU. Botswana was also asked to ensure that all its listed export abattoirs fulfil the EU requirements and that records of treatment with veterinary medicinal are kept on farms.

The Botswana Meat Commission says it has now complied with EU’s veterinary and quarantine procedures. “Government, through the veterinary services, as the competent authority, has put sufficient official controls in place to guarantee production of beef destined for the lucrative EU market,” read a press release this week.

We believe it is paramount for Botswana to use the proceeds from its diamonds to develop other sectors of the economy. This will help reduce the negative impact on its economy whenever the global economy takes a hit. As much as we laud the move into harnessing its coal reserves, we believe the government should also pursue diversification beyond the resource space.

Imara is an investment banking and asset management group renowned for its knowledge of African markets.

*Courtesy of


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Incensed by Fallacies and Fabrications, Jean Ping will fight for African Union Office till The End
July 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

Africa: Press Statement By Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

press release

Addis Ababa — Press Statement by Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, in response to an article titled, “At Last, SA may get its woman into AU post,” published in The Sunday Times of South Africa, on Sunday, 8 July 2012:

My attention has been drawn to an article which appeared in the Sunday Times of South Africa in its edition of 8 July2012, to the effect that I paid a visit to South Africa on Friday, 6 July 2012, where I purportedly indicated my intention to withdraw from the race for re-election to the post of Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

The paper further claims that I want “a guarantee that I will be deployed somewhere else when (I) leave office.”

Jean Ping says he will fight to the finish

Jean Ping says he will fight to the finish

I am incensed by such an outright fallacy and fabrication, because nothing could be further from the truth. I am, and remain a candidate for re-election as chairperson of the African union Commission, as I have not been withdrawn by my country, Gabon, and my region. I fully intend to stay in the race until the very end and hope to earn the renewed trust of our Continent’s Leaders when they meet at the 19th AU Summit, scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, on 15 and 16 July 2012.

Furthermore, I wish to affirm that I have not been to the Republic of South Africa since the Global African Diaspora Summit, which took place in May 2012. This means, therefore, that I was not in South Africa on Friday, 6 July 2012, as claimed by the Sunday Times. As a matter of fact, on that day, I was on a mission to Kampala, Uganda, where I had the honour of being received by His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda. I had gone there from Chad, where I was on 4 and 5 July 2012 and had also had the honour of being received by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Chad, who is the current Chair of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). These facts are authentic and verifiable.

The allegation that I was in South Africa on Friday, 6 July 2012 purportedly to seek some kind of “deal” that would facilitate my withdrawal from the race for re-election as Chairperson of the African Union Commission, or “a guarantee that (I) would be deployed somewhere else when (I) leave office,” are totally false, baseless and frankly annoying.

These fabrications by some elements in the South African media are not new. The Sunday Times article is simply the latest in a series of malicious lies and innuendoes which constitute part of a whole strategy to tarnish my hard-earned reputation and destabilize my campaign for re-election as Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

It is also, no doubt, designed to cast some doubts about my strength of character and to undermine support from a wide range of Member States keen to re- elect me.

For the record, I wish to mention just a few of such mendacious allegations which have been circulating in the media since the campaign began last year.

1. I was first accused of having indicated to the South African authorities that was not interested in seeking re-election.

2. It was further suggested that my country, Gabon, was not supportive of my candidature.

3. When these two lies were debunked, attention was then shifted to my supposed inability to handle the situations in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya, when it is well known that it is the Government of South Africa which impeded ECOWAS’ efforts to settle the Cote d’Ivoire crisis timeously and the same Government that voted in favour of resolution 1973 that authorized the bombing of Libya.

4. In December 2011, another South African Newspaper, Business Day, published an article in which it was alleged that the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Mrs. Catherine Ashton, had expressed support for my opponent’s candidature. This false allegation was immediately refuted by the EU.

5. It has also been alleged that I have not managed the Commission properly during my tenure, when there is evidence to prove that a lot of reforms in the administrative and financial areas have been carried out during the last four years.

6. Furthermore, a day or two before the election in January 2012, another malicious rumour was spread in Addis Ababa, alleging that I had collapsed and was unconscious, thus implying that my health was failing and therefore I was medically unfit (and would be unable) to serve another four-year term in such a demanding high-profile position. As is evident, I have continued to discharge my responsibilities without let or hindrance, as rigorous as they have been.

7. Just before the January election also, it was maliciously alleged that I am under the influence of France and that France teleguides the affairs of the Commission by remote control. No evidence has been provided to support this allegation and there is nothing in my conduct at the AU that remotely supports that allegation.

On the contrary, I have fully implemented all AU decisions, including on Libya, which were in contradiction with the position of France.

8. Recently, it has been suggested that France is funding my campaign, including provision of an aircraft for some of the trips I have made, some of which were in fulfillment of my official duties. This is absolutely untrue. The fact is that it is my Government and my personal resources that have sustained my campaign.

9. I have been accused falsely of having illegally established the Panel of the Wise.

Unknown to them, the Panel of the Wise was provided for under the Protocol establishing the Peace and Security Council. It was put in place by my predecessor long before I assumed my post. What was done in Kampala, Uganda in July 2010 was to renew the composition of the Panel.

10. Attempts have also been made to tarnish my image and sow seeds of discord between me and my Government, as well as other Member States that support me by spreading rumours that I have been behind the destabilization of some states.

May I seize this opportunity to re-state categorically and unequivocally that I am running for re-election as Chairperson of the African Union Commission. I am in the race because I believe in the African Union and would appreciate the opportunity to finish the work we have been doing in the last four years. I am still in this race and gratefully look forward to the wholesome support of the majority of the Leaders of AU Member States.

Furthermore, I would like to emphatically underscore that I have the full support of the Gabonese Leader, H.E. President Ali Bongo Ondimba, his Government and the Gabonese Nation. The President of Gabon has provided me with an aircraft to fly around the Continent and meet with African Leaders and talk to them about my vision for the African Union and how I intend to continue to lead the Commission, if re-elected.

The President has also sent Envoys to a number of AU Member State, to campaign for my re-election. For all these, I am grateful to President Ali Bongo Ondimba and the Gabonese Government and Nation for their unwavering support.

I am also grateful to the Leaders of the majority of AU Member States who voted for me last January and whose support I continue to enjoy.

Finally, let me end by affirming that I am the Candidate of Gabon and Africa, and have not received any financial or other support from any non-African Power.

This election is an African Union matter and will be decided only by African Union Member States.

I refuse to lower the moral threshold for this campaign and hope that all involved in the election will also conduct a clean and decent campaign that brings honour to Africa and sets a great example of democratic competition for the entire Continent.

Addis Ababa,

10 July 2012

Jean Ping Chairperson

African Union Commission


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Black Gold in the Congo: Threat to Stability or Development Opportunity?
July 12, 2012 | 0 Comments


Although it should provide development opportunities, renewed oil interest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) represents a real threat to stability in a still vulnerable post-conflict country. Exploration has begun, but oil prospecting is nurturing old resentments among local communities and contributing to border tensions with neighbouring countries. If oil reserves are confirmed in the east, this would exacerbate deep-rooted conflict dynamics in the Kivus. An upsurge in fighting since the start of 2012, including the emergence of a new rebellion in North Kivu and the resumption of armed groups’ territorial expansion, has further complicated stability in the east, which is the new focus for oil exploration. New oil reserves could also create new centres of power and question Katanga’s (DRC’s traditional economic hub) political influence. Preventive action is needed to turn a real threat to stability into a genuine development opportunity.

Potential oil reserves straddle the country’s borders with Uganda, Angola and possibly other countries and could rekindle old sensitivities once exploration commences. In the context of a general oil rush in Central and East Africa, the lack of clearly defined borders, especially in the Great Lakes region, poses significant risk for maintaining regional stability.

Clashes between the Congolese and Ugandan armies in 2007 led to the Ngurdoto Accords establishing a system for regulating border oil problems, but Kinshasa’s reluctance to implement this agreement and the collapse of the Ugandan-Congolese dialogue threaten future relations between the two countries. In the west, failure to find an amicable solution to an Angolan-Congolese dispute about offshore concessions has worsened relations between the two countries and led to the violent expulsion from Angola of Congolese nationals. Instead of investing in the resolution of border conflicts with its neighbours before beginning oil exploration, the Congolese government is ignoring the problem, failing to dialogue with Uganda and officially claiming an extension of its maritime borders with Angola.

The abduction in 2011 of an oil employee in the Virunga Park, in the Kivus, is a reminder that exploration is taking place in disputed areas where ethnic groups are competing for territorial control and the army and militias are engaged in years of illegally exploiting natural resources. Given that the Kivus are high-risk areas, oil discovery could aggravate the conflict. Moreover, confirmation of oil reserves in the Central Basin and the east could feed secessionist tendencies in a context of failed decentralisation and financial discontent between the central government and the provinces.

Poor governance has been the hallmark of the oil sector since exploration resumed in the east and west of the country. Even with only one producing oil company, the black gold is the main source of government revenue and yet, with exploration in full swing, oil sector reform is very slow. Instead of creating clear procedures, a transparent legal framework and robust institutions, previous governments have behaved like speculators, in a way that is reminiscent of practices in the mining sector. Reflecting the very degraded business climate, they have allocated and reallocated concessions and often acted without considering the needs of the local people and international commitments, especially regarding environmental protection.

The official division of exploration blocks includes natural parks, some of which are World Heritage Sites. It also directly threatens the resources of local populations in some areas. Initiatives to promote financial and contractual transparency are contradicted by the lack of transparency in allocating concessions. The state’s failure to adequately regulate the diverging and potentially conflicting interests of companies and poor communities is clearly causing local resentment, which could easily flare up into local violence that could be manipulated.

In a context of massive poverty, weak state, poor governance and regional insecurity, an oil rush will have a strong destabilising effect unless the government adopts several significant steps regionally and nationally to avert such a devastating scenario. Regionally, it should draw on the close support of the African Union (AU) and the World Bank Group to design a management model for cross-border reserves and help facilitate a border demarcation program. Nationally, the government should implement oil sector reform, declare a moratorium on the exploration of insecure areas, especially in the east where the situation is again deteriorating, until these territories are made secure, and involve the provinces in the main management decisions concerning this resource.


To the countries of the sub-region:

1.  Negotiate a framework agreement for the exploration and development of cross-border reserves, with the support of the AU and the World Bank Group, to provide for the involvement of one or more companies, revenue-sharing and dispute resolution mechanisms.

To the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring countries:

2.  Begin a border demarcation program, with support from the AU Border Programme, before allocating any more exploration blocks in disputed areas, to clarify the situation on various borders; implement the Ngurdoto Accords with Uganda; and seek a comprehensive and amicable agreement to end disputes with Angola.

To the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

3.  Declare a moratorium on exploration in insecure areas of eastern Congo and enforce the ban on exploration in World Heritage Sites.

4.  Reform oil governance, including by:

a) defining a policy for the sector and setting up an hydrocarbons code;

b) ensuring contractual and financial transparency;

c) democratising the decision-making process for the awarding of oil rights and the assessment of the implementation of the production sharing contracts signed with the companies;

d) granting exploration and production rights following an open and transparent competition and banning mutual agreements and allocation of exploration and production rights to companies whose beneficial ownership information is not publicly available; and

e) determining clearly the fiscal, social and environmental obligations of companies according to international good practice and making information and consultation of local communities compulsory, as well as a participatory approach for local development.

5. Involve affected provinces in main oil management decisions and, if oil reserves are confirmed, ensure the provinces and local communities benefit from revenues.

To the African Union, the World Bank Group and donors:

6.  Provide technical and financial assistance to the Congolese authorities for the border demarcation, the frame­work agreement for the exploration and development of cross-border reserves and oil governance reform.

7.  Support the Congolese civil society efforts to build a monitoring capacity in the oil sector.

To the oil companies:

8.  Disclose contracts and payments made to the Congolese government.

9.  Respect international laws and agreements and Congolese laws.

10. Include a human rights assessment in their preliminary studies.

Kinshasa/Nairobi/Brussels, 11 July 2012


*By The International Crisis Group

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This Is Africa’s New Biggest City: Lagos, Nigeria, Population 21 Million
July 11, 2012 | 0 Comments

The West African metropolis has surpassed Cairo in size, according to the New York Times.

By John Campbell*

In a celebration of Lagos and African urbanization, the Financial Times ran a piece by Xan Rice highlighting Nigeria’s commercial capital’s size, its economic importance, and its government’s energy in addressing concrete urban problems.

The UN estimated the city’s population at 11.2 million in 2011. The New York Times estimatesthat it is now at least twenty-one million, surpassing Cairo as Africa’s largest



city. It is clear that whatever the size, and however the city is defined, Lagos is the center of one of the largest urban areas in the world. With a population of perhaps 1.4 million as recently as 1970, its growth has been stupendous. Rice estimates that Lagos generates about a quarter of Nigeria’s total gross domestic product. The center of Nigeria’s modern economy, Lagos has many millionaires, but Rice estimates that two thirds of the population are slum dwellers.

Lagos is fortunate in that one energetic governor, Babatunde Fashola, succeeded another, Bola Tinubu. Tax revenue now exceeds $92m per month, up from $3.7m per month in 1999. Fashola says that tax rates have not increased–but clearly enforcement has. Tax collection, in a system that recalls tax farming in the New Testament or under Louis XIV, is apparently performed by a private company with links to Tinubu. The company retains 10 percent of all revenue collected over a certain threshold (at present, $43m per month). With the revenue, Fashola has launched genuinely impressive transportation and sanitation initiatives that range from construction of a city rail network, bus lanes, and filling potholes to more efficient trash collection.

The energy and other initiatives implemented by the city government are in stark contrast to the poor governance and paralysis that characterizes most of the rest of Nigeria. Meanwhile, the city continues to grow explosively. If jobs in the modern economy are to be found, it will require substantial new investment in education. Nationwide, there has been remarkably little for a generation, with the exception of the rapid expansion of the university system–itself underfunded. But, Lagos illustrates what is possible when the government enters into a social contract with its citizens whereby in return for taxes, it provides services.

* John Campbell – John Campbell, a former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, is a senior fellow for Africa policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Pretoria during the end of apartheid. He blogs at Africa in Transition. Article culled from



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Brazil competes with China, India to invest in Africa
July 10, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Teo Kermeliotis, for CNN

(CNN) — Brazil has intensified its efforts to forge closer relations with Africa recently, as the sixth largest economy in the world tries to compete with other emerging giants like China and India to take a more central role in the resource-rich continent.



Last month, Brazil’s top investment bank BTG Pactual unveiled plans to raise $1 billion to create the world’s biggest investment fund for Africa, focusing on areas such as infrastructure, energy and agriculture.

The independent bank’s fund, which comes amid a government drive to establish a strategic partnership with Africa, is one of the latest moves signaling Brazil’s increasing interest to extend its economic footprint on the continent — trade between Brazil and Africa jumped from around $4 billion in 2000 to about $20 billion in 2010.

“It does represent a turning point where a lot of these investors and these entities for investments are recognizing that Africa is indeed the last frontier for growth,” says Lyal White, director of the Centre for Dynamic Markets at the Gordon Institute for Business Science in South Africa.

Eyeing potential

An unprecedented decade of economic growth in Africa, coupled with a series of policy and institutional reforms, has attracted emerging global powers into the continent, seeking to gain a stronger foothold in the continent in their bid to reach more markets and forge new political alliances.

Brazil has kind of been operating under the radar, it is not seen necessarily as one of those kind of players.
Markus Weimer, Chatham House

But while much has been said and written about China’s and India’s strides in Africa, Brazil’s African foray has garnered less attention.

“Brazil has kind of been operating under the radar, it is not seen necessarily as one of those kind of players [China and India],” says Markus Weimer, research fellow in the Africa Program at Chatham House. “The stories of Brazil with Africa have also been less contentious — you’ve heard stories from Zambia about miners being mistreated by their Chinese bosses but you don’t hear from Mozambique or Angola when it comes to Brazilian companies.”

Using Portuguese-speaking countries like Angola and Mozambique as an entry point to the continent, Brazil’s state and private companies have made big inroads in various parts the continent, operating mostly in strategic sectors such as infrastructure, mining and energy — last year, mining giant Vale announced plans to spend more than £12 billion on investments in Africa over the next five years.

But while Brazil, like China, seems to be deeply engaged with the African resource sector, some analysts say its strategy and interests are quite distinct from its resource-hungry BRICS partner.

“Being a resource-rich country and a future major oil exporter itself, Brazil is not pursuing a strategy to secure resources,” says Christina Stolte, research at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies.

“Rather, the South American economy is seeing Africa as a means of diversifying its export markets — for food, seeds, agricultural machinery — and internationalizing the production of its big companies — Petrobras in the oil and biofuels business, Vale in the mining business.”

Strong ties

Although separated by the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil and Africa have long historical and cultural ties, dating back to the days of slave trade in the 16th century, where scores of Africans where shipped to the former Portuguese colony to be exploited as slaves on the sugar cane plantations.

Today, Brazil is quick to use this cultural affinity with Africa as an advantage in its competition with the other powers acting on the continent, analysts say.

“The fact that the majority of Brazil’s population is of Afro-Brazilian origin — making Brazil the world’s largest black population after Nigeria — is frequently quoted by the, almost exclusively white, governing elite of Brazil in order to stress Brazil’s cultural similarities with the African countries,” says Stolte.

Such remarks could often be heard during the 2003-2010 presidency of Lula da Silva, who made Africa a strategic priority for Brazil as part of the country’s efforts to expand its global influence.

During his eight-year tenure, Lula made 12 trips to Africa, visiting 21 countries, more than any of his predecessors. At the same time, Brazil increased the number of its embassies in Africa from 17 in 2002 to 37, boasting today more embassies in the continent than the United Kingdom.

The South American economy is seeing Africa as a means of diversifying its export markets.
Christina Stolte, GIGA

Brazil’s deepening engagement with Africa has also continued under the leadership of Dilma Rousseff, who became president of Brazil in January 2011 — in her first year in office, Rousseff visited Angola, Mozambique, and South Africa.

Business model

Analysts say Brazil has adopted a three-pronged approach to its engagement with Africa, with an “almost seamless interaction” between the government, the private sector and development institutions.

“This all kind of comes together as one coherent strategy toward Africa from Brazil,” says White.

Brazilian companies seeking to do business in the continent tend to hire and train local workforce and offer social projects to foster home-grown development — in Angola, Brazilian construction company Odebrecht has become the largest private employer in the country.

Knowledge transfer

In recent decades, Brazil has gone from being a net importer of food to one of the world’s biggest exporters of agricultural and food products. More recently, Brazil’s per capita income rose an average of 1.8% faster than its GDP in 2003-09, according to a World Bank report.

As a result, Brazil’s domestic development experience and success in narrowing social inequality have attracted attention from several African countries who are keen to replicate some of its programs.

Analysts say Brazil is keen to leverage its advanced technological know-how in helping African countries in areas that are key to the continent’s development, including tropical agriculture and disease fighting.

“Brazil therefore sees itself as partner for African countries that is able to offer successful strategies to fight the continent’s most pending problems such as hunger and AIDS,” says Stolte.

*Courtesy of


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One year on, South Sudan struggles to survive
July 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

Feuds over boundaries and oil-pumping fees deprive South Sudan of revenue and bring it close to war with Sudan one year after independence.

By Scott Baldauf*

One year ago, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation. Today, it has oil wealth it can’t ship to market, impoverished citizens it can’t seem to feed or house, and a feud with Khartoum it can’t seem to end.

A woman carries water through the flooded Jamam refugee camp at the Upper Nile, South Sudan, July 2. Refugees are fleeing from the heavy seasonal rain that recently flooded the Jamam refugee camp and gravely expanded the risk of illness. Adriane Ohanesian/Reuters

A woman carries water through the flooded Jamam refugee camp at the Upper Nile, South Sudan, July 2. Refugees are fleeing from the heavy seasonal rain that recently flooded the Jamam refugee camp and gravely expanded the risk of illness. Adriane Ohanesian/Reuters

Turning the landlocked but oil rich South Sudan into a functioning country was never going to be easy, of course. But doing so in the midst of an economic dispute with its neighbor and rival, Sudan – a dispute over how much money South Sudan should pay Sudan to pump oil through Sudan’s pipelines and out to international markets – has been crushing. If South Sudan was a baby, it has been deprived of nutrition for the first year of its life.

More dangerously, South Sudan and Sudan have come close to launching a full-out war, as Sudanese jets bomb villages inside South Sudanese territory, and as South Sudanese troops invaded to take control, briefly, of Sudan’s last giant oil-producing town of Heglig. Both nations claim the Heglig fields and lingering boundary disputes continue to keep these two nations on war footing.

Talks between Sudan and South Sudan resumed Thursday in Addis Ababa, and the United Nations has given the two countries two months to resolve their differences. A previous round of talks ended last week, with no progress.

South Sudan is not the first nation to be born in the midst of conflict, of course. The United States broke away from Britain for very similar reasons as South Sudan had for breaking from Sudan: the sense that the colonial masters were profiting more from America’s natural wealth than Americans were. But just as America’s independence was very nearly snuffed out by much better armed and prepared British troops in the Revolutionary War, so South Sudan is paying dearly for its disputes with Khartoum.

More than 400,000 people of South Sudanese descent have moved to South Sudan since 2010, and hundreds of thousands more remain in Sudan proper. Many of these people have no housing, no regular access to running water or sanitation, or to adequate health care. There are not enough schools to accommodate the children of these newcomers, and not enough jobs for the young men and women who left behind a better economic life in the cities of the north.

“The foundation of a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan can be strong only if we invest in the country’s youngest citizens. They need to be everyone’s priority so that the next generation can play an active and meaningful part in building this new nation,” said Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF representative in South Sudan, in an e-mailed statement. “The children of this country deserve a better future and it is critical that long term predictable investment is available and translates into real gains for them.”

As bad as things are, the West is not going to abandon the new nation that it spent so much time and political capital in bringing to life. Food aid keeps the poorer citizens of South Sudan alive, UN and private aid groups have fanned out across the countryside in white SUVs to help South Sudan develop the capacity to build a sustainable economy, manage its resources, and govern itself.

But the economic reality check of running a country has been a shock. Inflation for fuel and food prices in February shot up 21 percent from the same time last year, and then another 80 percent in May, according to Oxfam International. Inflation like that puts ordinary foodstuffs out of the price range of even those South Sudanese who do have savings; today 9.7 million are facing food shortages.

“The jubilation of independence is now tempered by the reality of a daily struggle to survive,” said Helen McElhinney, Oxfam policy adviser, in an e-mailed statement. “Some people are living on one meal a day and double the number of people are in need of food aid compared to last year. Refugees are enduring dire conditions in border camps with not enough water to go around.”

South Sudan’s rulers – all of them members of a former rebel army, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, turned political party – note that they have the people’s support, and they will finish the task they set out to do. (More than 95 percent of South Sudanese voted for secession in a referendum held in January 2010.)

The question is whether South Sudan can hold itself together until an acceptable deal can be worked out with Sudan. Indeed, this is the same question that Sudan itself is faced with. Losing South Sudan meant the loss of 75 percent of Sudan’s proven oil reserves, and Sudan has responded with cutbacks in subsidies and other austerity measures that have sparked street protests by Sudanese university students in recent weeks. On Thursday, officials from both countries met in Addis Ababa to begin discussions over boundary and oil-revenue disputes.

In the meantime, South Sudanese officials remain defiant.

“We’re not going to collapse, we’re going to survive until the problem of oil is resolved,” said Atem Yaak Atem, a government spokesman, according to Agence France Presse.

*Culled From Christian Science Monitor

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Africa on the Rise
July 6, 2012 | 0 Comments


MASERU, Lesotho

GENERATIONS of Americans have learned to pity Africa. It’s mainly seen as a quagmire of famine and genocide, a destination only for a sybaritic safari or a masochistic aid mission.

So here’s another way to think of Africa: an economic dynamo. Is it time to prepare for the African tiger economy? Six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies between 2001 and 2010 were in Africa, according to The Economist. The International Monetary Fund says that between 2011 and 2015, African countries will account for 7 of the top 10 spots.

Africa isn’t just a place for safaris or humanitarian aid. It’s also a place to make money. Global companies are expanding in Africa; vast deposits of oil, gas and minerals are being discovered; and Goldman Sachs recently issued a report, “Africa’s Turn,” comparing business opportunities in Africa with those in China in the early 1990s.

I’m writing this column in Lesotho, a mountainous kingdom (it was snowing the day I arrived!) in southern Africa, on my annual win-a-trip journey. The winner this year, Jordan Schermerhorn, an engineering student at Rice University, and I visited garment factories that make clothing for American stores. This country is Africa’s biggest apparel exporter to America.

One set of factories we visited, belonging to the Nien Hsing Textile Company, a giant Taiwanese corporation, employs 10,000 people in Lesotho, making this its biggest operation in the world. Workers turn out bluejeans for Levi’s and other American companies, and Alan Han, a senior company official, said quality is comparable to that of factories in Asia.

While America may largely misperceive Africa as a disaster zone, China does get the promise on the continent. Everywhere you turn in Africa these days there are Chinese businesspeople seeking to invest in raw materials and agriculture. But American businesses seem to be only beginning to wake up to the economic potential here.

Why does that matter? Because trade often benefits a country more than aid. I’m a strong supporter of foreign aid, but economic growth and jobs are ultimately the most sustainable way to raise living standards.

The American Congress has badly bungled the picture this year by delaying renewal of a provision of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA. This promotes trade by providing duty-free access to the American market. It’s one of the best aid programs you’ve never heard of — except that it isn’t an aid program but an initiative to help Africa lift itself up and create jobs through exports.

Some 300,000 jobs in Africa have been created because of AGOA, according to the Brookings Institution, but, in the last few months, countless Africans have been laid off because of the delay in renewal. American importers don’t want to place orders unless they are sure that the provision will be renewed and the clothing can enter duty-free. In Lesotho alone, about 5,000 garment workers have lost their jobs because of this maddening Congressional delay.

Granted, African countries themselves have botched trade because of corruption, onerous rules and uncompetitive minimum wages. The minimum wage for garment workers is about $37 per month in Bangladesh, compared with about $120 in Lesotho.

Or consider infuriating red tape. In Swaziland, it takes 12 procedures and 56 days to start a company, according to the World Bank’s superb “Doing Business” report for 2012. In Niger, it takes 326 days to build a warehouse. In Senegal, it takes 43 procedures and more than two years to enforce a legal claim.

Some of the otherwise most impressive countries in Africa, like Rwanda, also undermine themselves with their political repression. Ethiopia’s dictator, Meles Zenawi, is doing an excellent job of raising health and living standards, but he also presides over a security service that kills and rapes with impunity — and imprisons journalists who report on abuses. Last week, a sham trial in Ethiopia found one such brave journalist, Eskinder Nega, guilty of terrorism.

All in all, though, Africa is becoming more democratic, more technocratic and more market-friendly. Yet Americans are largely oblivious to the idea of Africa as a success story.

One of the problems with journalism is that we focus on disasters. We cover planes that crash, not those that take off. In Africa, that means we cover famine in Somalia and genocide in Sudan, terrorism in Nigeria and warlords in Congo. Those are important stories — deserving more attention, not less — but they can also leave a casual reader convinced that all of Africa is lurching between genocide and famine.

So that’s why I decided to start this win-a-trip journey in a delightful country like Lesotho that just had a democratic change of power. Its streets are safe, and it is working on becoming one of the first countries in the world with an electric grid 100 percent reliant on renewable energy.

It’s a symbol of an Africa that is rising.

* comment on Kristof’s column on his blog, On the Ground.  join him on Facebook and Google+, watch his YouTube videos and follow him on Twitter.A version of this op-ed appeared in print on July 1, 2012, on page SR11 of the New York edition with the headline: Africa On the Rise.


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Africa: Pascal Lamy, Director-General, World Trade Organisation
July 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Adam Robert Green*,

History has cast a long shadow over Africa’s trade performance, argues Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organisation. Colonial patterns of trade prevented colonised countries benefiting from their comparative advantage in low cost labour. Africa’s trade profile has not changed much over the last half century – it remains dominated by fuel and minerals, and mostly flows along North-South channels rather than regionally.

Neither implies chronic poor performance. Brazil’s trade is also commodity-driven, and the rise of the Brics suggests the predominance of North-South trade is not likely to be the prevailing model going forward. What matters for Africa’s share of global trade are the choices of today’s political and business elites. Mr Lamy claims political energy is key.

“Where there is more energy, there are more results,” he argues, describing the East African Community as “ahead of the curve” with leaders who – while not agreeing on all trade issues – share a common conviction that deepening trade is a regional priority. “If I take central Africa and ECOWAS (The Economic Community of West African States), for the moment there is less political energy.”

Fixing the leaks

Trade liberalisation is a political hot potato, as domestic businesses fear being undercut by more efficient foreign producers. Mr Lamy believes businesses in Africa tend not to lobby for trade openness with the same intensity as those in Europe and the US, as well as Asia and Latin America. The reason, he argues, is that entrepreneurship is in a “pre-emergence” phase in Africa, and people running businesses have enormous day to day challenges, meaning they “have other fish to fry” rather than shaping policy or producing research advocacy in favour of trade changes. However, he points to the existence of a new generation of business leaders with a totally different mindset to the older generation of rent-seekers. While younger business people do appear more economically liberal than their predecessors, the claim that business communities in the West are pro-openness could be contested, of course. The agricultural lobbies in the EU and US, for example, are among the most powerful pro-protectionist blocs anywhere.

Trade reform need not only entail confronting politically difficult changes such as tariff levels or import restrictions. Much trade facilitation can be enabled by doing away with pointless and cumbersome bureaucracy. Even as mundane a tweak as ensuring customs offices in neighbouring countries are open during the same hours can improve process efficiency. Good choices on regulations and standards can also engender real results. “Where has Brazil been most successful?” asks Mr Lamy. “It is in areas like poultry. Does Brazil have a big comparative advantage in poultry? Not especially. The determining factor was when they adopted proper sanitary and phytosanitary standards from the beginning. That is what has driven it. Africa can do that.”

At the World Economic Forum on Africa 2012 in Addis Ababa, Africa’s potential to become a major food exporter was frequently cited, with some delegates predicting this could happen within a decade. “I am convinced Africa will become a net food exporter,” Mr Lamy says. “First, Africa was a net food exporter 30 years ago. There are reasons why it has changed, including rapid growth of the population – because intake per head is what matters.”

Today, changing dynamics in the global economy are working in Africa’s favour. “We know that for 20 years to come we have this structural imbalance between supply and demand. Demand is growing more rapidly than supply, mainly because of nutritional transition. Protein intake grows with your level of revenue and inevitably this creates more demand on protein output. And there are a number of reasons why supply only adjusts very, very slowly. There is not as much land available elsewhere as in Africa. So I am convinced it will happen.” He adds that Africa’s domestic agricultural market is huge, and will probably see the fastest growth.

New models

Structural change in the global economy may also necessitate new tools for measuring trade flows, argues Mr Lamy. The rise of “multi-localisation” – where a given export contains more and more inputs from other locales – means bilateral trade flows are now a misleading indicator of trade intensity.

“The way we measure trade in gross volumes is becoming more and more detached from reality because to produce the same thing today you have three times more trade than in the past, just because production is multi-localised. Each time something crosses the border the full value of the product is attributed to the country.”

Statistically, this makes it look as though a country has a higher trade intensity than is the case. “They are trading a lot, but what matters is not how much they trade, but how much value addition they create through participation in global value chains, because that is what jobs are about.”

Bilateral measures of trade flows can lead to a view of imports as bad, and exports as good “which is economically nonsense”, he argues. A new measure would posit the more interesting question: “How much do I need to import in order to leverage my comparative advantage on the global market?” To provide the data, the WTO is partnering with universities, other international organisations and statistical institutes. The task is long and technically complicated, but it is vital, says Mr Lamy.

“I think it is an important potential contribution to a proper public debate about trade which, when it is focused on bilateral balances, has absolutely no meaning. The US-China trade imbalance is divided by two if you measure it in value added. This is mostly because the import content of Chinese exports to the US is much bigger than the import content the US exports to China. It is half as imbalanced as it looks, if you weigh the trade of value addition on both sides instead of these volumes of trade. That seriously impacts the public debate.”

This new approach does not change the fact that China has an overall trade surplus and the US has a trade deficit, but it will “focus the debate on what really matters for public opinion, which is jobs”, he says. “Take the famous European debate – Germany imports much more than France, but Germany exports much more than France. The reason Germany exports much more than France is because it imports much more than France. And the moment you start looking at things this way, this will lead to a better, more informed debate about trade policy and the impact of international trade on your economic and social fabric.”

Direction on Doha

As head of one of the most important global economic institutions, Mr Lamy is tasked with driving forward a long-stalling worldwide trade deal, now in its 11th year. The ‘Doha Round’ is bedevilled by arduous debate and dispute, endless textual cul-de-sacs and more than occasional public denouncements. With India, the US and China all entering elections or political transitions, willingness to concede ground may be weaker this year and next than previously. Mr Lamy believes a deal can be signed, but acknowledges that trade rounds may need to be pursued differently in future.

“Eighty percent of the job is on the table, that hasn’t changed, but the problem is that the 20 remaining percent block the remaining 80 percent, because of the principle that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. That is where we got stalled, which everybody recognises now,” he explains. “There is a strategy we [have been] testing since the end of last year which involves unpacking some of the issues – notably trade facilitation which is a very complex technical agreement treaty, which has a priority and which doesn’t normally entail this big geopolitical conundrum between countries such as the US and China.”

Issues such as pre-shipment inspection and customs procedure – “huge and incredibly technical issues” – have to be standardised at an international level, he claims, and the benefits from doing so could be huge. “The cost of moving trade today worldwide is roughly 10 percent [of trade value]. The purpose of this agreement is to bring this down to 5 percent. The economic impact of this sort of streamlining of red tape and standardisation is roughly 5 percent of the value of trade, which is an enormous amount of money.”

When asked if the next trade round will be structured differently, he is in no doubt: “Yes, I think so. The sort of method we are taking, where you bundle together twenty topics, is the one used in the Uruguay Round. But the number of countries who are now active in the negotiation to promote defensive and offensive interests is such that it is probably too complex. We probably have to consider going back to more sectoral agreements, although the virtue of a single undertaking is ‘give and take’ whereas if you have a sectoral agreement it is difficult to get balanced results of give and take.”

It remains to be seen whether Mr Lamy himself will see the deal conclude. His term of office ends next year, and there are rumours he may be in line for a post in French politics.

*Culled from


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Africa Rising: when will the West join Africa?
July 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Eliot Pence & Bright Simons*

Discussions about Africa’s evolution tend to measure the continent’s ‘gradual’ assimilation into the global mainstream. This may have been understandable in the mid-1980s when by every indicator African economies were seen as hopelessly distorted and needed to be salvaged with what became known as ‘structural adjustment’. But African countries today appear more aligned with the Washington Consensus and Globalization’s ‘best practices’ than the West. On many of the macroeconomic indicators

Luanda, capital of Angola, is now exporting capital and human resources to Europe's embattled economies.

Luanda, capital of Angola, is now exporting capital and human resources to Europe's embattled economies.

used to judge conformity with the mainstream – debt to GDP ratio, current account balance, fiscal balance, inflation – Africa is situated closer to the mainstream, while key OECD countries drift away. Data tracking other kinds of flows – in cultural, innovation, and labour flows – point to a continent becoming a key player in the Global South – not just assimilating into the global mainstream, but helping to shape it.

  • Population flows – Stories of African migrants struggling to find a route to Europe contrast with recent reports that Europeans are struggling to find working permits in Africa. According to NYU’s Development Research Institute, between 2006 and 2009 the number of visas issued for Portuguese entering Angola increased from 156 to 23,000. In 2012, there were nearly 100,000 Portuguese living in Angola, more than triple the number of Angolans living in Portugal. Spaniards, too, have fled high unemployment looking for work in Algeria, where many Spanish companies have relocated. No longer seeing the US as their best opportunity for professional development, waves of Nigerian-Americans (the most educated Diaspora group in the country), vie for top spots in the new Lagos offices of JPMorgan, McKinsey and Blackrock.
  • Financial flows – Though largely still the recipient of foreign direct investment, Africa is gobbling up distressed assets in the West. Gatwick, the United Kingdom’s second largest airport, was recently purchased by a Nigerian and Africa’s richest woman, Isabel dos Santos (daughter of Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos), is the new majority shareholder in Portugal’s leading pay-TV and Internet provider Zon Multimedia. More traditional financial flows, such as remittances from Africans working abroad, are also changing. Already larger than official development assistance by a substantial margin, reports suggest remittances are now flowing to Europe from Africa. Underscoring these trends is reduced dependency on multilaterals (China alone lends more to Africa than the World Bank) and research by Standard Bank estimates that BRIC-Africa trade increased from $20bn to more than $250bn in the past 10 years.
  • Cultural flows – A Financial Times editorial recently warned that the West would lose out on Africa’s ‘wave of creativity’ if it doesn’t reorient itself. To be sure, Africa’s cultural place in the larger world has always been evident, even if its recent recognition suggests it hasn’t. Nollywood, Nigeria’s answer to Hollywood, is a half billion dollar a year business and, according to UNESCO, puts out twice as many movies as Hollywood. Its growth also belies assumptions about the importance of intellectual property rights — something it largely exists without — in development. The continent’s cinematic creativity is paralleled by the emergence of its fashion industry, which is increasing in vogue — literally; an entire issue of the magazine was devoted to the continent recently. African-inspired cuisine also stands at the cusp. The “African Food Inevitability Thesis,” a phrase coined by a recent Wall St. Journal article, called Africa the foodies’ frontier and predicted a thriving commercial future for continental cuisine.

Even as a major western newspaper openly wonders how Africa will ‘join the larger world on its own terms,’ across virtually all indicators, evidence suggests it’s doing so largely on its own terms. If the West is stuck in low-growth and political paralysis, while Africa enjoys an economic renaissance, a more pressing question for Western observers might be: When will the West join Africa?

*Eliot Pence is a director at the Whitaker Group, a corporate strategy firm focused on sub-Saharan Africa. Bright Simons is the founder of the mPedigree Network (www.mPedigree.Net), and a Senior Fellow at think tank, IMANI.Previously published in African Arguments


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South Africa’s Jacob Zuma on mines, land and leadership
July 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Milton Nkosi BBC News, Johannesburg

President Jacob Zuma has for the first time in a long while spoken candidly about major policy issues facing South Africa, including the controversial calls to nationalise the



mines in one of the world’s major producers of precious minerals, such as gold and platinum.

When I met President Jacob Zuma at his official Mahlamba Ndlopfu residence in the capital, Pretoria, he looked calm and confident after last week’s policy conference storm.

Before we could talk about the details of the most contentious policy deliberation by the more than 3,500 African National Congress delegates, we had to clear the air about what actually transpired in some of the closed sessions.

There were newspaper reports saying the plenary descended into chaos with fist fights. I put it to the 70-year-old President Jacob Zuma that the conference was at some point characterized by chaos and physical fighting.

His response couldn’t have been more different: “This was one of the most disciplined conferences we’ve had,” he said.

Far from the truth he said – he explained that it was just one delegate who was overzealous and had tried to grab the microphone from a fellow provincial delegate.

Mr Zuma said that the delegate was disciplined immediately and kicked out of the conference.

Nationalisation or not?

Before the bright television lights started to heat the tastefully decorated lounge, I sought clarification from the president of the 100-year-old ANC, nationalization of mines – did they adopt it as a policy or not?

Again, Mr Zuma was emphatic – it was raised and discussed extensively but in the end it was not adopted and as far as he can tell, it will not happen even at the elective conference in Magaung later this year.

Land reform

On land reform – will South Africa expropriate land without compensation?

With slight excitement in his eyes, the president sat up from the stately couch and said rather enthusiastically: “No, it will be with compensation. We must do this within the framework of the law and within the constitution.” I then asked about the complex “willing-buyer willing-seller” principle – what are you going to replace it with?

He said the government is planning to set up a land management commission to look into possible solutions.

African Union leadership battle

Mr Zuma reiterated his unwavering support for his ex-wife and former Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to head the African Union.

He highlighted the point that colleagues in the continent know that the Southern Africa Development Community hasn’t had the chance to occupy the most senior role in the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Perhaps sensing a possible defeat, Mr Zuma wouldn’t commit to give me an out-of-10 score about Ms Dlamini-Zuma’s realistic chances of getting the top job.

The Spear

The president said he forgives the artist and the gallery owner who were at the centre of the controversial painting The Spear which depicted Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed.

He said he harboured no ill-feelings toward them. “None at all”

Second term

When asked whether he would want to run for a second term, he said if the ANC decides to change him, he will be part of that decision and if they want him to continue he will heed their call. Clearly he is determined to continue at the helm. This means the stage is set for a showdown with his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe, who is the preferred candidate of the ANC Youth League, which helped propel Mr Zuma to power in 2009.

Mr Zuma spent 10 years in prison with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island and sacrificed his own education fighting to end apartheid.

The question is – can he lead South Africa for a second term or is he a one-term president?

*Culled From BBC Africa

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Nigeria Teams Up with US Firm to Build Six Oil Refineries
July 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Ricci Shryock*

Nigerian officials announced a $4.5 billion deal that will see the country partner with US company Vulcan Petroleum Resources to build six oil refineries in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer.

Vulcan said its goal is to build the first two facilities within one year and complete all six within the next 30 months.  It said the various refineries will be located at different sites



throughout the country.

Umaru Dembo, a former Nigerian energy minister, said the announcement was a welcome development for the country.

“It means quite a lot…because, up to now, we seem to be dependent on refined oil from somewhere else…the three or four refineries that we have now do not supply the needs of refined products that Nigeria needs at the moment,” Dembo said.

Though Nigeria produces more crude oil than any other nation on the continent, it relies heavily on oil that is refined abroad in order to fulfill domestic energy demands.  Nigeria exports more than two million barrels of crude oil a day.

Dembo added that the current refineries in the country produce more than 400,000 barrels of oil a day, and the reported 180,000 barrels a day that the six new refineries would produce is a surprisingly low number.  But, he added, it was better than the alternative.

“It is better to get the refineries and have them working then have no refineries at all…than [to have to] depend upon refineries outside Nigeria,” he said.

According to Dembo, the new refineries, which are slated to all be finished in about two and a half years, could have additional benefits for the local economy.

“Definitely, it will mean more jobs for Nigerians if this comes to fruition,” he said.  “There’ll be very many things that will be available for the people…we hope there will actually be electricity.”

In January, mass protests were staged throughout the country when the government said it was going to remove the oil subsidy, which was the only benefit many Nigerians said they enjoyed from the nation’s oil wealth.

After a nationwide strike and continued protests, the government later announced a partial rollback of the price hikes.

President Goodluck Jonathan has said Nigeria can no longer afford the $8 billion fuel subsidy.  He promised to use the money saved for needed infrastructure and social programs.

*Courtesy of VOA Africa

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U.S. Committed to Expanding Trade and Investment with Africa
July 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

By MacKenzie C. Babb*

Washington — The United States is committed to continuing to expand trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that “represents the next global economic frontier,” according to Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.



“In addition to hosting six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, a recent McKinsey study documented that Africa offers the highest rate of return on foreign investment of any developing region, and has for some time,” Carson said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa June 28.

He said consumer spending also continues to rise, and 43 percent of Africans currently have discretionary income, or could be considered middle-class consumers.

“Over the past decade, Africa’s growth was widespread across sectors including wholesale and retail trade, transportation, telecommunications and including manufacturing,” Carson said. “Foreign direct investment, or FDI, in Africa has also seen tremendous growth.” FDI projects in Africa have more than doubled from 339 in 2003 to 857 in 2011, according to Carson, with inter-African investment growing sharply from 27 projects in 2003 to 145 in 2011.

Combined with natural resource exports that have continued to generate significant revenues, Carson said, this steady growth has helped Africa to weather the global economic crisis more successfully than any other region in the world.

“In short, Africa is a trade and investment destination that cannot be ignored,” the assistant secretary said. “This is a continent on the move, and there are enormous opportunities for U.S. companies to enter the market, make money and create jobs” for both Americans and Africans.

“Greater U.S.-Africa trade is in the interests of both America and Africa, and we are determined to work to strengthen it,” Carson said.

Earl Gast, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistant administrator for Africa, said in testimony following Carson that foreign direct investment is approaching $80 billion a year and trade figures have tripled during the past decade.

“This fortune is not the result of good luck,” he said. “It’s the result of years of hard work and better management, governance, capital inflows and business climate.”

To translate this growth into transformational development in poverty reduction, Gast said, President Obama’s recently unveiled strategy for engaging with Africa promotes opportunity and development while spurring economic growth, trade and investment.

The cornerstone of U.S. engagement with Africa will continue to be the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), he said.

“Since 2001, exports under AGOA have increased more than 500 percent, and the African Coalition on Trade estimates that as many as 1.3 million jobs have been created indirectly by AGOA, supporting upwards of 10 million persons throughout the continent,” Gast said. He added that many of these jobs are held by women, “a vital building block for development given that African women are more likely to invest job-related income into food security, health and education of their families.”

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa Florizelle Liser said Obama’s new strategy intends to “encourage economic growth, enhance trade and investment, support more jobs in the United States and help realize the full potential of the U.S.-sub-Saharan African economic partnership.”

The strategy was unveiled at the start of the June 14–15 AGOA Forum in Washington.

The 2012 forum brought together more than 600 participants, including top U.S. and African government officials, private-sector leaders and civil society representatives. It was preceded by a two-day civil society program June 12–13 in Washington and complemented by the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. The Corporate Council on Africa hosted its infrastructure conference June 18–20 in Washington, and the U.S.-Africa Business Conference was held in Cincinnati June 21–22.

AGOA, signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in 2000, was designed to promote U.S. trade and investment ties with sub-Saharan Africa. It provides trade preferences to the 40 participating African countries through the removal of nearly all tariffs on their exports. It has broken down many trade and customs barriers in an effort to stimulate economic growth, encourage economic integration and help bring sub-Saharan Africa into the global economy.

Carson, Gast and Liser each emphasized the importance of the pivotal economic development program, and said Obama’s new Africa strategy keeps AGOA at the heart of U.S. engagement with Africa.

*culled from:




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What Goldman Sachs thinks about investment in Africa
June 30, 2012 | 0 Comments

BY Kate Douglas*

American investment banking and securities firm Goldman Sachs believes that Africa is the place to invest, according to their Fortnightly Thoughts research report released earlier this year.

“We believe meaningful opportunities for Western consumer companies exist as Africa’s household consumption grows rapidly (it is already greater than some of the BRICs) and that failure to invest now will see others rush in,” said the editor of Goldman Sachs’ Fortnightly Thoughts, Hugo Scott-Gall.

But why should investors consider the opportunities in Africa and what are the challenges?

Yesterday’s Africa

Africa has fallen behind in its development and has some troubling problems such as immense poverty, political instability, corruption and poor infrastructure. For this reason, Africa is often painted as one homogeneous continent. The truth is that African countries – despite having many similar problems – are considerably diverse with different resources contributing to different economies. It is because of this that investment potential varies from one African country to the next, and so do the challenges. However, a common limitation that cannot be ignored is the poor infrastructure that increases the cost and risk of investing in Africa, impeding economic growth.

Today’s Africa

Scott-Gall acknowledges the developmental movement and growth we are now seeing in Africa and describes it as a “logical sequencing in the world’s economic evolution”. Africa is swimming with precious minerals, and currently supplies 11% of the world’s fuel and mining resources. “Resources have become more scarce, and hence valuable, as more of the world is industrialised and there are more people alive than ever before,” said Scott-Gall. In this sense, the world needs Africa to succeed and Africa needs world investment to do this.

Africa is also being revolutionised by an extraordinary growth in internet and mobile communication. “Important to the speed of consumption growth is the adoption of technology, which is helping Africans skip ahead on the consumer curve, doing so without established public infrastructure in several cases,” said Scott-Gall.

Technological development has also led to the improvement of the banking system and the development of mobile and internet banking. “As the banking system matures credit growth can enable faster consumption growth as well,” continued Scott-Gall.

With improvements in governmental competence, political stability and wealth being distributed more evenly than before, Africa is heading in the right direction, and an educated investment today could yield momentous revenue over the next few decades.

Tomorrow’s Africa

So why invest in Africa? Because tomorrow’s Africa is going to be an economic force, according to Goldman Sachs. But what are the reasons for this optimism?

Firstly, it is estimated by Goldman Sachs that Africa will have the largest workforce in the world by the middle of the century. “Demographics are becoming very favourable and will be the envy of the world in 20 years time,” predicts Scott-Gall.

Secondly, Africa has abundant land in a world running out of space, and this gives African countries great potential for agricultural exports. “Africa sits on vast tracts of the world’s uncultivated land and also has a lot of existing agricultural land,” said Scott-Gall. “The world needs Africa to substantially improve its agricultural yields, and we suspect it will require private capital to help it here, along with government support and sponsorship, as has been seen in the BRICs, with Brazil a very good example.”

Where to invest?

When it comes to investment, Goldman Sachs believes the best African country to invest in would have “a healthy reserve of diverse resources, and a stable government that not only fairly distributes resource wealth to a young population, but also encourages them to spend it, by investing in infrastructure”. While it may be difficult to find an African economy like this today, it is suggested that this is the direction most African economies are developing.

It is also suggested that investors should look at cities rather than countries as a means of targeting the African consumer. “This could start to make Africa attractive to businesses with more global sourcing, or those targeting the more premium consumer (higher-value categories such as luxury goods, spirits and to a lesser extent personal care),” stated Alexis Colombo, Goldman’s consumer staples analyst.


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Five African ‘boom towns’ that should be on every investor’s radar
June 30, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Jaco Maritz

South Africa’s economic hub Johannesburg is often cited as a classic example of the ‘boom town’ effect. The discovery of gold in the 1880s led to a gold rush that transformed the dusty settlement into South Africa’s largest city in a matter of 10 years.

Across Africa there are towns experiencing rapid development, largely off the back of newfound resources such as minerals, crude oil and natural gas. To produce this list of African boom towns How we made it in Africa sought the insight of Brett Abrahamse, a director at Johannesburg-based real estate consultancy Terrace Africa.

Abrahamse says that the towns below offer attractive opportunities from a property development perspective – especially for hotel and retail developments. While the challenges and expenses of working in Africa’s more remote locations may eat away at profit margins, these towns should be on the radar of investors and developers looking for a first-mover advantage.

Tete (Mozambique)

The remote town of Tete, situated in the centre-west part of Mozambique, is the heart of the country’s new coal mining industry. The area around the town has some of the world’s richest coal reserves.

Rajat Kohli, Standard Bank’s global head of mining and metals, called it the world’s last substantial untapped coal reserve. “About 100 million tons per annum of coal could be produced within the next five years, and that figure could even go further,” he said at a conference last year.

Mining companies operating in Tete Province’s Moatize basin include Rio Tinto as well as Brazil’s Vale.

The coal mines are linked via rail to the port of Beira. Brazilian mining giant Vale has also announced plans to build a railway line from its Moatize mine to the north-western port of Nacala to export coal.

Tete is booming due to mining activity in the area. However, according to Abrahamse, the town has very few formal supermarkets and hotels, creating significant opportunities for more developments. Carlson Rezidor has announced that it will soon launch its new Park Inn by Radisson hotel in Tete.

             Solwezi (Zambia)

Solwezi is the core town in the ‘new’ Zambian copper-belt and is also the capital of the North-Western province. From humble beginnings as a trading station servicing the nearby mines and employees, the town has now mushroomed into an important node. Solwezi has seen significant growth in recent years, driven by copper and nickel mines, which are run by First Quantum and Barrick Gold.

Abrahamse says that Solwezi has also experienced an increase in mining-related services and business activities. In addition, trade on the Congolese border 12 kilometres away is further boosting development and business activity in the town. The current airport is being upgraded, and will soon be able to accommodate Boeing 737s, which should see an increase in flights to Solwezi.

According to Abrahamse, there is a strong demand for more retailers and hotels in Solwezi. “There is a dire shortage of formal hotel accommodation in the town and this is evident by the US$200-plus room rate for a two-star room. The current hotel operations at Royal Solwezi Inn and Kansanshi Hotel are running at more than 90% occupancy with extremely high room rates,” he says.

The only formal supermarket in Solwezi is a Shoprite, which cannot alone cater for the growing demand. Abrahamse reckons that Solwezi is in need of small to medium sized commercial property developments with a retail anchor, a hospitality partner, numerous line shops and banking facilities.

First Quantum has also recently begun a new US$1 billion investment in a project called Trident. This consists of three new mines and will have an annual capacity of 300,000 tons of copper per year. The closest town to Trident is Solwezi.

Takoradi (Ghana)

Towards the end of 2010 How we made it in Africa reported that Takoradi, a small coastal town on Ghana’s west coast, was emerging as one of the new hot spots for African property developers. At the time there was considerable enthusiasm about the twin city of Sekondi-Takoradi because it was set to be home to Ghana’s emerging oil industry. Takoradi is the nearest commercial port to the country’s offshore oil fields.

Since then commercial oil production has started in all earnest, but developers and retailers have still not fully capitalised on the opportunities.

A few days ago it was announced that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has provided a loan of US$5.45 million to Alliance Estates Limited, to build the first Protea Hotel in Takoradi. The 132-room, three-star hotel will help meet demand for business infrastructure as more investors are venturing into the oil producing region of Takoradi. “Ghana’s economy has been expanding at a high level, with growth touching 13.6% in 2011. In Takoradi, international hotels are limited, despite increased business traffic from investors interested in developing the oil and gas industry. The Protea Hotel will be amongst the first to provide international-standard rooms, rates and conference facilities,” said the IFC in a statement.

Juba (South Sudan)

“Juba, the capital of South Sudan, is one of those penny stocks, those risky ones where it could become the next Nairobi, or it could just muddle along and stay as it is forever,” says Abrahamse.

Last year South Sudan became Africa’s newest country after the region voted in favour of secession from Sudan. The referendum was a core component of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended decades of conflict between the Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Khartoum government.

At independence there was much optimism that the South Sudanese economy would finally take off. The region has few industries outside the oil sector and almost non-existent infrastructure. Lately, however, there has been renewed fighting between Sudan and its now independent neighbour, South Sudan, sparking fears of an all-out war.

Although the recent fighting took place far from Juba, Abrahamse notes that the city’s fortunes are heavily dependent on peace between the two countries. He says that political risk is the major issue prospective investors in South Sudan should consider and that each business opportunity should be analysed on its merits. Juba’s potential for development is, however, certain. The city is South Sudan’s main commercial hub and one of the world’s fastest growing urban areas due to oil money.

Last year the South Sudanese government announced that the capital would move to Ramciel, some 250 kilometres away from Juba, closer to the border of north Sudan. It is unclear when this will happen.

 Pemba (Mozambique)

Pemba is a port city in northern Mozambique. It is traditionally known as a tourist destination, but these days Pemba is an important centre for northern Mozambique’s offshore natural gas fields in the Rovuma basin.

US-based Anadarko Petroleum and Italian oil & gas company Eni, have both recently announced significant gas discoveries in their respective blocks. These discoveries are important because of the size of the reserves as well as Mozambique’s relative proximity to markets in Asia. “This is rather close to the largest potential market for liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is Asia. It is easier to export from offshore Mozambique to Asia than it is from many other places,” Adi Karev, global oil & gas leader at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, told How we made it in Africa in an interview earlier this year.

Abrahamse says that Pemba, as is the case with the other towns mentioned in this article, has a lack of accommodation and retail facilities. “An example of the problem with Pemba is there is one five-star lodge that is booked out by the oil companies. The interesting story there is that post the 2008/2009 financial crisis the resorts were struggling, but since they found gas there, these hotels and lodges have been booked out by people working on the gas fields.”

*Culled from





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The Dilemma at the Heart of America’s Approach to Africa
June 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Howard W. French*

JUBA, South Sudan — In an extraordinary pair of articles published this week, The Washington Post has filled in the picture of how the U.S. military and intelligence establishment have worked to create a network of a dozen or so air bases for spying purposes across Africa. What is most remarkable about the articles are not the details themselves, which involve small, specially equipped turboprop aircraft flying surveillance missions out of remote airfields in the Sahel and in equatorial East Africa.

What stands out most about the articles, instead, is the way that this news has cast the African continent as a place where serious American interests are at play. Such things are all too rare for the mainstream media, which typically chronicles African political upheaval, violence and suffering as distant and almost random incidents or miscellany with little connection to life outside of the continent.

The Africa of our day-to-day coverage is dominated, in other words, by vivid splashes of color, by scene and emotion, and it is largely bereft of form or of pattern, and of politics and ideas that could help connect one development to another or connect the whole to the rest of the world. Some of this may be changing slowly with the recent sharp rise of China’s profile throughout the continent, which has drawn a belated response from a United States suddenly eager to avoid seeing the continent be snatched away from the West, as some fear.

The Post pieces were ultimately as remarkable for what they didn’t say as what they did, though. And in this regard, they highlight the need for the media to hold the actions of the Unites States up against its rhetoric, much as it is wont to do with regard to China, whose rote-like discourse on Africa emphasizes terms like “win-win,” and “non-interference,” etc.

By helpful coincidence, the Post‘s stories, which detail the ongoing militarization of Washington’s policies toward Africa, were published at the very same time that the Obama Administration was unveiling its purportedly new strategy toward the continent.

The leading messenger for this was Hillary Clinton, whose talk yesterday about economic opportunity for American businesses in Africa was as welcome as it was overdue. As a spate of recent articles has made clear, she spoke of the Africa as a place of strong economic growth and the continent with the highest returns on investment. It is precisely Chinese firms’ awareness of this that has been driving them, and hundreds of thousands of Chinese migrants, to Africa in recent years in search of opportunity.

In policy briefings for the press, however, and in Clinton’s own statements, the promotion of democracy was given pride of place in a new American agenda for Africa, and this is where the rub comes between rhetoric and reality.

The Post piece reveals that the key American allies in Washington’s military and intelligence push are the leaders of Burkina Faso in West Africa and Uganda in East Africa. These two men, Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, have been in office respectively for 25 and 26 years. Both took power by force. Both have resisted real democratization in their countries. And both have been prolific and mischievous meddlers in neighboring countries, where their adventures have sown death and havoc, routinely employed child soldiers, and have involved lucrative arms trafficking as well as the organized pillage of natural resources either for their own benefit or for allies within their regimes.

Another American ally, this one emerging, as described by the Washington Post, is the year-old state of South Sudan, a country that Clinton described as a “success.” That will come as a surprise to many of the people here, whose own president has recently acknowledged the looting of $4 billion by his own associates from state coffers.

If Washington wishes to be taken seriously by Africans it has as much work to do as China in squaring words and deeds. Yesterday, the White House said its new policy commits the United States to advance democracy by “strengthening institutions at every level, supporting and building upon the aspirations throughout the continent for more open and accountable governance, promoting human rights and the rule of law, and challenging leaders whose actions threaten the credibility of democratic processes.”

One of the biggest impediments to the continent’s emergence, however, is the very existence of leaders like Compaoré and Museveni, who come to see themselves as irreplaceable, confusing their own persons with the state and seeking to remain in power indefinitely.

If Washington genuinely wishes to prioritize democracy in Africa, it might wish to privilege relations with the already substantial and growing number of states that are governed more democratically than places like these. For old friends like Museveni and newer ones like Compaoré, meanwhile, it is time to reexamine the question of what friendship is for and to ask whom does it really benefit?

If, on the other hand, American policy is really about fighting an endless succession of enemies, which is what seems to drive the security agenda that the Post has so usefully lifted the veil on, then candor should require admitting that building democracy is really important only when it is convenient.

*Culled from Howard W. French is the author of A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa and as a fellow for the Open Society Foundations, a forthcoming book on China’s relationship with Africa. He teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is a former senior writer and foreign correspondent for the New York Times. More


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iROKOtv, the “Netflix of Africa”, reaches 500,000 subscribers in less than six months
June 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

14 June 2012. iROKOtv, the “Netflix of Africa” and the continent’s first legal online source of Nollywood films, is delighted to reveal that it has recorded over 500,000 registered users in less than six months since its launch. The news comes just months after the company announced that it had secured $8m in funding from US-based hedge Tiger Global, early investors in Facebook.

Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria and with offices in London and New York and a staff of almost 100, iROKOtv has been groundbreaking in bringing Nollywood to the African Diaspora, with viewers logging on from over 178 countries across the world.  To date, over 9.3 million hours of Nollywood movies have been watched on

Jason Njoku, CEO and Founder of iROKO Partners says: “What an incredible six months it has been for iROKOtv – 500,000 subscribers in under 6 months is an awesome feat for us. We are a relatively young start-up and are super excited to have built up such momentum in such a short space of time.

“The secret of our success to-date is pretty simple; we love what we do, we love Nollywood movies and so do our 500,000 registered subscribers. Content is king and we are unrivalled in what we can offer from our 5,000-strong movie library. The iROKOtv team uploads movies onto the site every single week, so our fans, who we know have a voracious appetite for all things Nollywood, have a constant stream of awesome content at their fingertips.

“Nollywood is a global phenomenon – our fans are scattered all over the world and had previously struggled to get hold of any movies. The iROKOtv platform enables them to watch classic and new films, on a safe, easy to use, beautifully designed site, whether they are on a computer, tablet or on their mobile phone – anywhere in the world. Nollywood has never been so accessible and this is only the beginning for us.”

iROKOtv’s largest markets are the US, UK, Canada and Germany – the site currently has more viewers in London than in Lagos. The West now has a reliable outlet to access Nollywood movies. However, as Africa comes online and broadband penetration surges, it is expected that the site will see considerable growth in traffic from across the continent, which will position iROKOtv as one of the leading sites for aggregating the African Diaspora.

As of 1 July 2012, iROKOtv is introducing a subscription service, where viewers will retain free access to the current catalogue of Nollywood films, but will also be able to watch brand new, exclusive Nollywood releases, uploaded weekly, for only $5 per month.

Launched in December 2011, iROKOtv is a subsidiary of iROKO Partners, Africa’s largest, legitimate distributor of Nigerian film and music entertainment with key partnerships with the likes of Facebook; iROKOtv viewers can login via their Facebook account, and is YouTube’s largest African partner. iROKO Partners is expected to increase its viewers to over 250 million in 2012 across its brands iROKOtv, iROKING (the “Spotify of Africa”), Nollywood Love and iROKtv, Africa’s answer to “E!”.

In April 2012 Tiger Global, a New York-based private equity and hedge fund run by an early investor in Facebook and Zynga, led two $4 million rounds of investment into iROKO Partners, in one of the largest ever fundraisings into a West African tech firm.  The funding will continue to be used to build iROKOtv’s library and to continue working directly with Nollywood production houses to buy the higher prices for the online licenses to Nollywood films which enables them to better monetize their content and to reinvest in making more, higher quality productions.

In May 2012, iROKOtv announced that from 1 July 2012, subscribers across the world will  have exclusive access to brand new and exclusive Nollywood releases, uploaded weekly for $5 per month and payable by SMS, PayPal or card.

For additional Information Contact

iROKO Partners                           

Jessica Hope                                          +44 203 176 2808


Pelham Bell Pottinger                          +44 20 7861 3925

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Contractors run U.S. spying missions in Africa
June 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Craig Whitlock,*

ENTEBBE, Uganda — Four small, white passenger planes sit outside a hangar here under a blazing sun, with no exterior markings save for U.S. registration numbers painted on the tails. A few burly men wearing aviator sunglasses and short haircuts poke silently around the wing flaps and landing gear.

The aircraft are Pilatus PC-12s, turboprops favored by the U.S. Special Operations forces for stealth missions precisely because of their nondescript appearance. There is no hint that they are carrying high-tech sensors and cameras that can film man-size targets from 10 miles away.

To further disguise the mission, the U.S. military has taken another unusual step: It has largely outsourced the spying operation to private contractors. The contractors supply the aircraft as well as the pilots, mechanics and other personnel to help process electronic intelligence collected from the airspace over Uganda, Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

In October, President Obama sent about 100 elite U.S. troops to central Africa to scour the terrain for Joseph Kony, the messianic and brutal leader of a Ugandan rebel group. But American contractors have been secretly searching for Kony from the skies long before that, at least since 2009, under a project code-named Tusker Sand, according to documents and people familiar with the operation.

The previously unreported practice of hiring private companies to spy on huge expanses of African territory — in this region and in North Africa, where a similar surveillance program is aimed at an al-Qaeda affiliate — has been a cornerstone of the U.S. military’s secret activities on the continent. Unlike uniformed troops, plainclothes contractors are less likely to draw attention.

But because the arms-length arrangement exists outside traditional channels, there is virtually no public scrutiny or oversight. And if something goes wrong, the U.S. government and its partners acknowledge that the contractors are largely on their own.

U.S. Africa Command, which oversees military operations on the continent, declined to discuss specific missions or its reasons for outsourcing the gathering of intelligence.

In response to written questions from The Washington Post, the command stated that contractors would not get special treatment in case of a mishap. Instead, they “would be provided the same assistance that any U.S. citizen would be provided by the U.S. Government should they be in danger.”

Perils of the job

There is precedent for the use of contractors in spying operations. The military hired private firms to conduct airborne surveillance in Latin America in the 1990s and early 2000s, with sometimes-disastrous results.

In 2003, for instance, one American was killed and three others were taken hostage by Colombian insurgents after their plane crashed in the jungle. The contractors, who were working for Northrop Grumman on a Defense Department counter-narcotics program, endured five years of captivity before they were freed in a raid by Colombian police. Peter W. Singer, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and an expert on military contracting, said the Pentagon typically turns to the private sector for “deniability,” but he added that “it rarely turns out that way.”

“When things go bad, you can have two scenarios,” he said. “Either the contractors are left holding the bag, complaining about abandonment, or else some kind of abuse happens and they’re not held accountable because of a mix of unclear legal accountability and a lack of political will to do something about it.”

Indeed, contractors knowledgeable about the central Africa mission appear to be aware that the downing of one of their planes could have far-reaching implications.

“From a purely political standpoint it is obvious the fallout of such an incident would be immense, especially if hostile forces reached the crash site first,” Commuter Air Technology, an Oklahoma defense firm, wrote in May 2010 in response to a U.S. Africa Command solicitation to expand operations. “This could turn into a prisoner/hostage situation at worst, or at the least a serious foreign relations incident highly damaging to both AFRICOM and the U.S.”

The warning was prescient. That summer, a PC-12 surveillance aircraft operated by a New Jersey contractor as part of Tusker Sand was forced to make an emergency landing in Obo, an isolated town in the Central African Republic where Kony’s forces had terrorized the population.

On board were a handful of Americans working for the firm R-4 Inc., as well as a Ugandan military officer and a Congolese officer.

The unexpected appearance of two foreign soldiers and some Americans aroused the suspicions of tribal leaders, who had been kept in the dark about Tusker Sand by their national government. They detained the crew for several hours as they debated what to do.

“We felt like we were going to prison,” said one of the American contractors involved, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive operation.

The contractor said that his group contacted State Department and United Nations officials but that they declined to intervene. It was even harder to track down Africa Command officials, whose headquarters are in Stuttgart, Germany.

“Eventually, we were able to talk our way out of it,” the contractor said. “That’s all we did over there, pay people off and talk our way out of situations.”

Dwight Turner, vice president of overseas operations for R-4, said he was not personally familiar with the incident. He confirmed that his company had been involved in Tusker Sand but declined to comment further.

A growing appetite

When Tusker Sand began in late 2009, it consisted of a single PC-12, operating out of a Ugandan military hangar at Entebbe airport. The hangar also housed a Gulfstream aircraft for the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni.

According to the contractor who worked for R-4, the presidential palace was so protective of Museveni’s plane that the Americans were required to push their PC-12 out of the hangar by hand, instead of with a tractor, to avoid inadvertent scrapes.

The U.S. military’s appetite for surveillance quickly grew. On June 11, 2010, the Africa Command participated in an “Industry Day” to drum up interest. More than 50 private contractors were invited to develop proposals to expand Tusker Sand and Creek Sand, the program aimed at al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates mainly in Mali.

Unclassified documents prepared for the event show that the military wanted contractors to provide at least a combined 44 personnel for the programs, with double that number if the Africa Command decided to “surge” either one of them. At a minimum, contractors were told that they would have to keep planes flying for 150 hours a month.

Among the jobs to be outsourced: pilots, sensor operators, intelligence analysts, mechanics and linguists. The expectation was that the personnel would be veterans; most needed to certify that they had passed the military’s survival, resistance and escape training course, because of the possibility of aircrews being downed behind enemy lines.

Contractors would have to supply the surveillance gear, including electro-optical and infrared sensors that work in the dark, and a laser-emitting sensor that can peer under the jungle canopy. All had to be concealed within the body of the plane with retractable mounting to avoid attracting suspicion.

Another document stipulated that prospective firms fly “innocuous” aircraft that would “blend into the local operating area.” In a PowerPoint presentation posted on a federal government Web site for contractors, the Africa Command warned firms bidding for the work that African countries would be “uncomfortable” with activities that might look suspicious, adding: “Don’t want covert aircraft, just friendly looking aircraft.”

In addition to expanding Tusker Sand and Creek Sand, the Africa Command said it wanted to start a drone-based program, dubbed Tusker Wing, to search for members of Kony’s militia, the Lord’s Resistance Army.

That plan envisioned contractors using blimps equipped with cameras as well as ScanEagles, small and unmanned aircraft that can be launched with a catapult but stay aloft for 22 hours at a time, according to Gene Healey, a contractor who helped prepare a study for the Africa Command.

Healey said the Africa Command was initially enthusiastic about Tusker Wing but canceled the program, without explanation, before it got off the ground. Africa Command officials declined to comment.

Nonetheless, the number of manned surveillance flights for Tusker Sand has gradually increased. A new contractor, Sierra Nevada Corp., began operating PC-12 flights out of Entebbe in August.

Michelle Erlach, a spokeswoman for Sierra Nevada Corp., based in Sparks, Nev., declined to answer questions about Tusker Sand or the firm’s activities in Africa. “I cannot give any details on that,” she said.

The Africa Command declined to answer questions about the contract for Tusker Sand, saying it was “proprietary in nature.”

Allies on the Hill

Tusker Sand could soon receive another boost.

In March, Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of Congress’s leading voices on Africa, issued a statement expressing concern that the U.S. military was being hindered in its efforts to track the Lord’s Resistance Army.

He called on the Obama administration to give the Africa Command “the full availability” of surveillance aircraft and equipment necessary to catch Kony and conduct other counterterrorism missions.

</fb:like></span><span id=check-twitter> In an interview a month later, however, Inhofe said Africa Command officials told him that things had improved and that they were no longer being shortchanged. “I have been reassured,” he said. “I think they right now have the assets they need.”

Asked whether he had any qualms about private contractors operating spy missions on behalf of the U.S. military, Inhofe said he’d “rather not get into that.”

“They are working with contractors on these things, and I know there are a lot of people involved,” he added. “I’m just not going to elaborate on where they are or what they’re doing.”

Late last month, however, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a measure authorizing $50 million for the Defense Department to “enhance and expand” surveillance operations to help Ugandan and other regional militaries search for Kony.

A congressional staff member said the legislators’ priority was to increase and improve the surveillance operations as quickly as possible, adding that Congress was not necessarily opposed to using private companies for the Kony manhunt.

“It’s a concern, but when you’re short on resources, it’s what you have to do,” said the staffer, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive operations. “It’s a permissive environment. Nobody’s getting shot at, and we’re just collecting intelligence.”

Tucked into the legislative language was a rare unclassified reference to the key role played by contractors against the Lord’s Resistance Army. The committee stated that it was “concerned” that the reliance on private firms to collect intelligence for the manhunt was “unnecessarily costly and is not meeting the needs of the supporting forces.”

The Senate panel directed the Pentagon to study “alternative contracting arrangements,” emphasizing the need for aircraft that can “loiter over areas of interest for extended periods of time.”

To avoid pilot fatigue and other problems, the Pilatus PC-12s that have been the mainstay of Tusker Sand and other manned aircraft are generally limited to six to seven hours of flying a day.

Drones, however, can stay aloft for more than 20 hours at a stretch.

Staff researcher Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.

*Culled from

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Squeezing Africa dry: behind every land grab is a water grab
June 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

GRAIN  Reports

Food cannot be grown without water. In Africa, one in three people endure water scarcity and climate change will make things worse. Building on Africa’s highly sophisticated indigenous water management systems could help resolve this growing crisis, but these very systems are being destroyed by large-scale land grabs amidst claims that Africa’s water is abundant, under-utilised and ready to be harnessed for export-oriented agriculture. GRAIN looks behind the current scramble for land in Africa to reveal a global struggle for what is increasingly seen as a commodity more precious than gold or oil – water

The Alwero river in Ethiopia’s Gambela region provides both sustenance and identity for the indigenous Anuak people who have fished its waters and farmed its banks and surrounding lands for centuries. Some Anuak are pastoralists, but most are farmers who move to drier areas in the rainy season before returning to the river banks. This seasonal agricultural cycle helps nurture and maintain soil fertility. It also helps structure the culture around the collective repetition of traditional cultivation practices related to rainfall and rising rivers as each community looks after its own territory and the waters and farmlands within it.

One new plantation in Gambela, owned by Saudi-based billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi, is irrigated with water diverted from the Alwero River. Thousands of people depend on Alwero’s water for their survival and Al-Moudi’s industrial irrigation plans could undermine their access to it. In April 2012, tensions over the project spilled over, when an armed group ambushed Al-Amoudi’s Saudi Star Development Company operations, leaving five people dead.

The tensions in south western Ethiopia illustrate the central importance of access to water in the global land rush. Hidden behind the current scramble for land is a world-wide struggle for control over water. Those who have been buying up vast stretches of farmland in recent years, whether they are based in Addis Ababa, Dubai or London, understand that the access to water they gain, often included for free and without restriction, may well be worth more over the long-term, than the land deals themselves.

In recent years, Saudi Arabian companies have been acquiring millions of hectares of lands overseas to produce food to ship back home. Saudi Arabia does not lack land for food production. What’s missing in the Kingdom is water, and its companies are seeking it in countries like Ethiopia.

Indian companies like Bangalore-based Karuturi Global are doing the same. Aquifers across the sub-continent have been depleted by decades of unsustainable irrigation. The only way to feed India’s growing population, the claim is made, is by sourcing food production overseas, where water is more available.

“The value is not in the land,” says Neil Crowder of UK-based Chayton Capital which has been acquiring farmland in Zambia. “The real value is in water.” [1]

And companies like Chayton Capital think that Africa is the best place to find that water. The message repeated at farmland investor conferences around the globe is that water is abundant in Africa. It is said that Africa’s water resources are vastly under utilised, and ready to be harnessed for export oriented agriculture projects.

The reality is that a third of Africans already live in water-scarce environments and climate change is likely to increase these numbers significantly. Massive land deals could rob millions of people of their access to water and risk the depletion of the continent’s most precious fresh water sources.

All of the land deals in Africa involve large-scale, industrial agriculture operations that will consume massive amounts of water. Nearly all of them are located in major river basins with access to irrigation. They occupy fertile and fragile wetlands, or are located in more arid areas that can draw water from major rivers. In some cases the farms directly access ground water by pumping it up. These water resources are lifelines for local farmers, pastoralists and other rural communities. Many already lack sufficient access to water for their livelihoods. If there is anything to be learnt from the past, it is that such mega-irrigation schemes can not only put the livelihoods of millions of rural communities at risk, they can threaten the freshwater sources of entire regions.


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U.S. expands secret intelligence operations in Africa
June 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Craig Whitlock*

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — The U.S. military is expanding its secret intelligence operations across Africa, establishing a network of small air bases to spy on terrorist hideouts from the fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator, according to documents and people involved in the project.At the heart of the surveillance operations are small, unarmed turboprop aircraft disguised as private planes. Equipped with hidden sensors that can record full-motion video, track infrared heat patterns, and vacuum up radio and cellphone signals, the planes refuel on isolated airstrips favored by African bush pilots, extending their effective flight range by thousands of miles.

 About a dozen air bases have been established in Africa since 2007, according to a former senior U.S. commander involved in setting up the network. Most are small operations run out of secluded hangars at African military bases or civilian airports.

 The nature and extent of the missions, as well as many of the bases being used, have not been previously reported but are partially documented in public Defense Department contracts. The operations have intensified in recent months, part of a growing shadow war against al-Qaeda affiliates and other militant groups. The surveillance is overseen by U.S. Special Operations forces but relies heavily on private military contractors and support from African troops.

The surveillance underscores how Special Operations forces, which have played an outsize role in the Obama administration’s national security strategy, are working clandestinely all over the globe, not just in war zones. The lightly equipped commando units train foreign security forces and perform aid missions, but they also include teams dedicated to tracking and killing terrorism suspects.

The establishment of the Africa missions also highlights the ways in which Special Operations forces are blurring the lines that govern the secret world of intelligence, moving aggressively into spheres once reserved for the CIA. The CIA has expanded its counterterrorism and intelligence-gathering operations in Africa, but its manpower and resources pale in comparison with those of the military.

U.S. officials said the African surveillance operations are necessary to track terrorist groups that have taken root in failed states on the continent and threaten to destabilize neighboring countries.

A hub for secret network

A key hub of the U.S. spying network can be found in Ouagadougou (WAH-gah-DOO-goo), the flat, sunbaked capital of Burkina Faso, one of the most impoverished countries in Africa.

Under a classified surveillance program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors have come to Ouagadougou in recent years to establish a small air base on the military side of the international airport.

The unarmed U.S. spy planes fly hundreds of miles north to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara, where they search for fighters from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a regional network that kidnaps Westerners for ransom.

The surveillance flights have taken on added importance in the turbulent aftermath of a March coup in Mali, which has enabled al-Qaeda sympathizers to declare an independent Islamist state in the northern half of the country.

Elsewhere, commanders have said they are increasingly worried about the spread of Boko Haram, an Islamist group in Nigeria blamed for a rash of bombings there. U.S. forces are orchestrating a regional intervention in Somalia to target al-Shabab, another al-Qaeda affiliate. In Central Africa, about 100 American Special Operations troops are helping to coordinate the hunt for Joseph Kony, the Ugandan leader of a brutal guerrilla group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.

</fb:like></span><span id=check-twitter> The results of the American surveillance missions are shrouded in secrecy. Although the U.S. military has launched airstrikes and raids in Somalia, commanders said that in other places, they generally limit their involvement to sharing intelligence with allied African forces so they can attack terrorist camps on their own territory.

The creeping U.S. military involvement in long-simmering African conflicts, however, carries risks. Some State Department officials have expressed reservations about the militarization of U.S. foreign policy on the continent. They have argued that most terrorist cells in Africa are pursuing local aims, not global ones, and do not present a direct threat to the United States.

The potential for creating a popular backlash can be seen across the Red Sea, where an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen is angering tribesmen and generating sympathy for an al-Qaeda franchise there.

In a response to written questions from The Washington Post, the U.S. Africa Command said that it would not comment on “specific operational details.”

View Photo Gallery — From the archives: In another effort to combat al-Qaeda militants in Africa, specifically in Somalia, the United States has been training troops from other African nations to be peacekeepers.

View Photo Gallery — From the archives: In another effort to combat al-Qaeda militants in Africa, specifically in Somalia, the United States has been training troops from other African nations to be peacekeepers.

“We do, however, work closely with our African partners to facilitate access, when required, to conduct missions or operations that support and further our mutual security goals,” the command said.

Surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations, it added, are “simply a tool we employ to enable host nation militaries to better understand the threat picture.”

Uncovering the details

The U.S. military has largely kept details of its spy flights in Africa secret. The Post pieced together descriptions of the surveillance network by examining references to it in unclassified military reports, U.S. government contracting documents and diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group.

Further details were provided by interviews with American and African officials, as well as military contractors.

In addition to Burkina Faso, U.S. surveillance planes have operated periodically out of nearby Mauritania. In Central Africa, the main hub is in Uganda, though there are plans to open a base in South Sudan. In East Africa, U.S. aircraft fly out of bases in Ethi­o­pia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles.

Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command, which is responsible for military operations on the continent, hinted at the importance and extent of the air bases while testifying before Congress in March. Without divulging locations, he made clear that, in Africa, he wanted to expand “ISR,” the military’s acronym for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“Without operating locations on the continent, ISR capabilities would be curtailed, potentially endangering U.S. security,” Ham said in a statement submitted to the House Armed Services Committee. “Given the vast geographic space and diversity in threats, the command requires increased ISR assets to adequately address the security challenges on the continent.”

Some of the U.S. air bases, including ones in Djibouti, Ethi­o­pia and the Seychelles, fly Predator and Reaper drones, the original and upgraded models, respectively, of the remotely piloted aircraft that the Obama administration has used to kill al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and Yemen.

“We don’t have remotely piloted aircraft in many places other than East Africa, but we could,” said a senior U.S. military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. “If there was a need to do so and those assets were available, I’m certain we could get the access and the overflight [permission] that is necessary to do that.”

Common aircraft

Most of the spy flights in Africa, however, take off the old-fashioned way — with pilots in the cockpit. The conventional aircraft hold two big advantages over drones: They are cheaper to operate and far less likely to draw attention because they are so similar to the planes used throughout Africa.

The bulk of the U.S. surveillance fleet is composed of single-engine Pilatus PC-12s, small passenger and cargo utility planes manufactured in Switzerland. The aircraft are not equipped with weapons. They often do not bear military markings or government insignia.

The Pentagon began acquiring the planes in 2005 to fly commandos into territory where the military wanted to maintain a clandestine presence. The Air Force variant of the aircraft is known as the U-28A. The Air Force Special Operations Command has about 21 of the planes in its inventory.

In February, a U-28A crashed as it was returning to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa. Four airmen from the Air Force Special Operations Command were killed. It was the first reported fatal incident involving a U-28A since the military began deploying the aircraft six years ago.

Air Force officials said that the crash was an accident and that they are investigating the cause. Military officials declined to answer questions about the flight’s mission.

Because of its strategic location on the Horn of Africa, Camp Lemonnier is a hub for spy flights in the region. It is about 500 miles from southern Somalia, an area largely controlled by the al-Shabab militia. Lemonnier is even closer — less than 100 miles — to Yemen, where another al-Qaeda franchise has expanded its influence and plotted attacks against the United States.

Elsewhere in Africa, the U.S. military is relying on private contractors to provide and operate PC-12 spy planes in the search for Kony, the fugitive leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a group known for mutilating victims, committing mass rape and enslaving children as soldiers.

Ham, the Africa Command chief, said in his testimony to Congress in March that he was seeking to establish a base for surveillance flights in Nzara, South Sudan. Although that would bolster the hunt for Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, it would also enable the U.S. military to keep an eye on the worsening conflict between Sudan and South Sudan. The two countries fought a civil war for more than two decades and are on the verge of war again, in part over potentially rich oil deposits valued by foreign investors.

Other aviation projects are in the offing. An engineering battalion of Navy Seabees has been assigned to complete a $10 million runway upgrade this summer at the Manda Bay Naval Base, a Kenyan military installation on the Indian Ocean. An Africa Command spokeswoman said the runway extension is necessary so American C-130 troop transport flights can land at night and during bad weather.

About 120 U.S. military personnel and contractors are stationed at Manda Bay, which Navy SEALs and other commandos have used as a base from which to conduct raids against Somali pirates and al-Shabab fighters.

About 6,000 miles to the west, the Pentagon is spending $8.1 million to upgrade a forward operating base and airstrip in Mauritania, on the western edge of the Sahara. The base is near the border with strife-torn Mali.

The Defense Department also set aside $22.6 million in July to buy a Pilatus PC-6 aircraft and another turboprop plane so U.S.-trained Mauritanian security forces can conduct rudimentary surveillance operations, according to documents submitted to Congress.

Crowding the embassy

The U.S. military began building its presence in Burkina Faso in 2007, when it signed a deal that enabled the Pentagon to establish a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment in Ouagadougou. At the time, the U.S. military said the arrangement would support “medical evacuation and logistics requirements” but provided no other details.

By the end of 2009, about 65 U.S. military personnel and contractors were working in Burkina Faso, more than in all but three other African countries, according to a U.S. Embassy cable from Ouagadougou. In the cable, diplomats complained to the State Department that the onslaught of U.S. troops and support staff had “completely overwhelmed” the embassy.

In addition to Pilatus PC-12 flights for Creek Sand, the U.S. military personnel in Ouagadougou ran a regional intelligence “fusion cell” code-named Aztec Archer, according to the cable.

Burkina Faso, a predominantly Muslim country whose name means “the land of upright men,” does not have a history of radicalism. U.S. military officials saw it as an attractive base because of its strategic location bordering the Sahel, the arid region south of the Sahara where al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate is active.

Unlike many other governments in the region, the one in Burkina Faso was relatively stable. The U.S. military operated Creek Sand spy flights from Nouakchott, Mauritania, until 2008, when a military coup forced Washington to suspend relations and end the surveillance, according to former U.S. officials and diplomatic cables.

In Ouagadougou, both sides have worked hard to keep the partnership quiet. In a July 2009 meeting, Yero Boly, the defense minister of Burkina Faso, told a U.S. Embassy official that he was pleased with the results. But he confessed he was nervous that the unmarked American planes might draw “undue attention” at the airport in the heart of the capital and suggested that they move to a more secluded hangar.

“According to Boly, the present location of the aircraft was in retrospect not an ideal choice in that it put the U.S. aircraft in a section of the airfield that already had too much traffic,” according to a diplomatic cable summarizing the meeting. “He also commented that U.S. personnel were extremely discreet.”

U.S. officials raised the possibility of basing the planes about 220 miles to the west, in the city of Bobo Dioulasso, according to the cable. Boly said that the Americans could use that airport on a “short term or emergency basis” but that a U.S. presence there “would likely draw greater attention.”

In an interview with The Post, Djibril Bassole, the foreign minister of Burkina Faso, praised security relations between his country and the United States, saying they were crucial to containing al-Qaeda forces in the region.

“We need to fight and protect our borders,” he said. “Once they infiltrate your country, it’s very, very difficult to get them out.”

Bassole declined, however, to answer questions about the activities of U.S. Special Operations forces in his country.

“I cannot provide details, but it has been very, very helpful,” he said. “This cooperation should be very, very discreet. We should not show to al-Qaeda that we are now working with the Americans.”

Discretion is not always strictly observed. In interviews last month, residents of Ouagadougou said American service members and contractors stand out, even in plainclothes, and are appreciated for the steady business they bring to bars and a pizzeria in the city center.

In April 2010, one American, in particular, drew attention. A U.S. contractor who had been assigned to support the surveillance missions in Ouagadougou was flying home from Africa on leave when he announced that he had been “in Ouaga illegally” and was carrying dynamite in his boots and laptop.

As the contractor, Derek Stansberry, mumbled other incoherent stories about allegedly top-secret operations, he was grabbed by U.S. air marshals aboard the
Paris-to-Atlanta flight. No explosives were found, but the incident drew international attention.

Stansberry, who did not respond to a request for comment, was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity; he said he was overstressed and had overdosed on the sleep aid Ambien.

A photograph on his Facebook page around the time of the incident showed him posing in the cockpit of a Pilatus aircraft. The caption read: “Flying a PC-12 ain’t that hard.”

*Culled from



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BBC announces major new focus on Africa*
June 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

The BBC has today announced its first-ever dedicated daily TV news programme in English for African audiences. The new programme, BBC Focus On Africa, brings together the expertise of the BBC World Service’s African Service and BBC World News on television. It is the first in a range of new programming for Africa to be launched by the BBC this summer, including a major expansion of its TV offer.

Africa is now one of the fastest developing news markets in the world - this new investment will expand our services for African audiences."-Solomon Mugera, BBC Africa Editor

Africa is now one of the fastest developing news markets in the world - this new investment will expand our services for African audiences."-Solomon Mugera, BBC Africa Editor

BBC Focus on Africa will be aired by the BBC’s broadcast partners in Africa and will be shown globally on BBC World News. It forms just one part of an expansion of the BBC’s offer on TV, radio and online.

The BBC today named Komla Dumor and Sophie Ikenye as the main presenters of the daily 30-minute news programme.

BBC Focus On Africa will be launched on prime-time TV across the continent from 18 June 2012 at 17.30 GMT. The programme will draw on the pool of BBC African talent on the continent and in London to report on Africa’s rising economies, entrepreneurs, innovators, culture, entertainment and sport.

Focus on Africa will be covering the major news from the continent and asking: is there a way out of the Sudan crisis? What impact will Europe’s economic problems have on Africa’s booming economies? How does Africa deal with its growth in natural resources?

The programme will also challenge African leaders and politicians on tough issues. Focus On Africa will report on the latest developments in business, technology and science and speak to those driving change. It will also look at how Africa is becoming an information technology hotspot. The programme will report, for example, on Kenyan scientists who are at the forefront in discovering cheaper, locally produced medicines to combat malaria.

Focus On Africa reporters across Africa will be giving us a snapshot of the innovation, lifestyle and culture of the country they live in. The programme will feature Africa Beats, looking at the people behind Africa’s varied music scenes. Every step of the way viewers will have their say through social media.

Focus on Africa presenter Komla Dumor says: “After decades of turmoil and uncertainty, a new Africa is emerging. The old stereotypes are being challenged and a new, compelling narrative is being written. I am incredibly excited to be part of a new BBC programme that will provide solid coverage and analysis of Africa’s challenges and prospects.”

Solomon Mugera, the BBC’s Africa Editor, says: “Africa is now one of the fastest developing news markets in the world – this new investment will expand our services for African audiences.

“While radio remains popular in Africa, TV is growing – and our partnerships with leading African broadcasters play a key part in these future plans. Mobile phone ownership is racing towards a billion, internet connectivity is rising and social media is empowering audiences. It’s essential that the kind of independent journalism the BBC does that isn’t slanted to one political or commercial viewpoint remains central to the new media landscape.

“With correspondents in 48 African countries, production centres in Nairobi, Abuja, Johannesburg and Dakar and a weekly audience of 77 million, the BBC already has deep roots in the continent. Our journalists are from the African countries they report on – in English, Swahili, Hausa, Somali, Kinyarwanda/Kirundi and French – living and breathing the big stories and issues facing Africa.”

The BBC also announced that six special episodes from Africa of current affairs interview programme Rendezvous, hosted by Zeinab Badawi, will be broadcast on BBC World News from mid-June with guests including President Kikwete of Tanzania.

The BBC newsgathering resources in Africa are part of a global network of 70 bureaux. The BBC made its first broadcast to Africa more than 80 years ago. The combined audience on radio and television makes the BBC the largest international broadcaster in Africa.

*Courtesy of


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With Kenya election, East Africa enters make or break season
June 11, 2012 | 0 Comments


As Kenya heads into the first election under its new Constitution, the East African Community too will begin its most dramatic transition.

The transition season will end in 2017 in Rwanda, when President Paul Kagame is scheduled to step down. How the leaders and East African citizens play their hands over this period, could make or break the East African project.

President Museveni with Makerere University students in 2010. Picture

President Museveni with Makerere University students in 2010. Picture

For starters, more East African leaders will be leaving office and handing over to new leaders in this period, than at any other in the region’s history. Kenya’s president steps down next year in March when the country votes, after serving his constitutionally provided two terms in office.

Burundi and Tanzania, both countries with term limits, will go to the polls in 2015 and Presidents Pierre Nkurunzinza and Jakaya Kikwete will leave office.

Only Uganda, where term limits were scrapped, goes to elections in 2016 with uncertainties about whether President Yoweri Museveni — who has been in power since 1986 and is already the longest-serving East African president ever — will bow out or soldier on.

Over the past year, Museveni has had to continually quell his riotous ruling National Resistance Movement, where youthful MPs, sensing that the elder leader’s prestige has been tarnished by years of corrupt government and alleged nepotism, figure that he is no longer the Colossus he was some years back.

At the official age of 68, Museveni is looking wan and is frequently off colour, which has prompted what promises to be a messy internal succession scramble. So far, it is presumed that the abstemious and wily NRM secretary-general, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, is the man at the front of the succession queue.

Other claimants to Museveni’s throne have ganged up on him, and have thrown everything that is not nailed down at his head and character.
More than any other in the region, the succession in Uganda is set to be the most unpredictable.

In Rwanda, Kagame has given all indications that he is packing his bags and clearing out of State House. But Rwanda-watching and Kagame-bashing and Kagame-boosting are among the biggest industries in the world as far as Africa goes, so there are many voices who don’t think the former guerrilla leader will leave office.

In any event, there is one thing about Rwanda that is not doubt. The Rwanda Patriotic Front, easily Africa’s most disciplined ruling party and one of its richest, will continue to run the show for a long while. And Kagame, who will still be a relatively youthful 60-year-old in 2017, will continue to exert influence over how business is conducted in Rwanda.

The comings and goings in East African State Houses over the next five years are important, because over this same period, the EAC will be undergoing a radical remake. Last week, EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera said fragile South Sudan’s application to join the EAC is being studied.

South Sudan’s admission is likely to be quick. Uganda’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs Eriya Kategaya said earlier this year at the launch of the Society for International Development’s State of East Africa Report 2012 in Nairobi, that there was a strategic need to admit South Sudan into the EAC fold in order to “protect the new nation against aggression by [north] Sudan.”
War-scarred but slowly stabilising Somalia has also applied to join.

Somalia will take critical steps towards restoring functioning government for the first time in over 20 years between now and August, when it will have passed a new constitution, elected a new parliament, and its first democratically appointed president in generations.

The Amisom wand

The modest progress made in stabilising Somalia is thanks to the African Union’s peacekeeping force in Somalia, Amisom. Until this year, two EAC countries — Uganda and Burundi — were the only two countries providing troops for Amisom and it is they who broke the militant Al Shabaab’s back in Mogadishu, and lately took the key city of Afgoye, Somalia’s breadbasket, considerably improving food security, an important factor if the country is to return to normalcy.

Kenya entered the Somalia fray in October 2011, and after a cautious first few months, has been aggressive in recent weeks, taking the town of Afmadow, and setting its sights on the strategic Kismayu port town.

The Kenya Defence Forces, which were “re-hatted” as Amisom troops in February, said last week that they would have Kismayu in the bag by the key date of August.

With Kismayu, Mogadishu, and other important regions of Somalia controlled by Amisom and the Somalia government, the new government elected in August will have a reasonable degree of credibility. In all probability, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti Amisom forces — which will shortly be joined by Sierra Leone — will remain in Somalia for a few more years.

They are unlikely to leave their shining foreign policy prize out of the EAC, when they withdraw. Indeed, because of the mutual EAC defence pact, the regional armies will have a legal basis to remain in Somalia were the Amisom mandate to expire soon, if it were a member of the Community.

How the EAC will cope with, possibly, five new presidents having to deal with new members — South Sudan and Somalia — who are politically unstable and whose government structures will still be primitive, is anyone’s guess.

History is the best guide here. The EAC has survived transitions before — none of the EAC presidents in power today, with the exception of Museveni in Uganda, was in office when the EAC charter was first signed in 1999.

But some of East Africa’s coming challenges are unprecedented.

According to the State of East Africa Report 2012 (SoEAR2012), the region’s population has grown by 24 million since 2005 and was estimated to be 139 million in 2010.

“The most important population characteristic of East Africa are its children and youth”, said SoEAR2012, “who account for an overwhelming majority, 80 per cent, of the region’s population in 2010.”

Most of these are unemployed, with youth joblessness rates in countries like Uganda estimated to be over 80 per cent. Youth discontent and unrest is rising, and over the next five years, new — and possibly inexperienced — EAC leaders will be the ones to deal with the problem before it explodes into revolt.

Kenya’s Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is aiming to register 18 million voters in total — about four million more than the number in 2007. Not all these voters will be youths, but if we consider that Kenya’s population is currently increasing by one million every year, and that between 1999 and 2006 the working-age population increased from 9.7 million to 13.1 million (approximately 500,000 young people joining the work force every year) then it is likely that most of Kenya’s new voters will be between 18 and 24 years old.

With their vote in 2013, will come expectations of a good deal from the new leaders. This same pattern will be replicated in most of East Africa.

With the recent discoveries of oil and gas in the region, governments will have the money to pay for new job and social programmes and buy off restless voters.

Uganda’s oil is expected to start flowing in 2017, Kenya’s at perhaps around the same time. Tanzania is also likely to find a lot more deposits of gas, as is Rwanda, which is also exploring for oil.

However, most of the secessionist demons in Africa also live in East Africa. The region has seen the most number of successful secessions in Africa —Ethiopia/Eritrea, the Sudans; and there is a high possibility Somaliland will break away — evidence that perhaps East Africans are quite a schizophrenic people, integrationist and parochial at the same time. The Tanzanian Union is also coming under pressure. A fortnight ago in Zanzibar, Uamsho, a group that is demanding a referendum on Zanzibar’s secession from Tanzania, was behind three days of disturbances in which churches were burnt.

In the 2010 election, Zanzibar took some steps to put an end to perennial election violence by instituting a new power-sharing deal so that it’s no longer “winner takes all”: Ali Mohamed Shein from the governing CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) party was voted in as president in elections in November 2010.

Zanzibar ‘wrinkle’

He narrowly beat Seif Sharif Hamad of the opposition Civic United Front. Under a power-sharing deal, Mr Sharif serves as one of Shein’s vice-presidents. The power-sharing deal was enshrined in a constitutional amendment adopted in 2010 to end perennial election violence.

While Uamsho’s secessionist demands are a new wrinkle Tanzania doesn’t need, the fact that the country’s new constitution is expected to be inaugurated in April 2014, means it has a chance to offer Zanzibar an additional calming sweetener.

The worry in Tanzania will probably be that Kikwete’s successor will have a bigger political fight on his hand than his predecessor.

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s fortunes have been dwindling in recent years, as the party is bogged down by corruption scandals and rising internal struggles. In the 2005 election, for example, CCM won 206 out of 232 seats, and Kikwete was elected with 80 per cent of the vote.

It bled in the 2010 election. CCM won 186 out of 239 seats, and this time Kikwete had to make do with 62 per cent of the vote — even then, there were allegations that the vote was stolen.

CCM should still scrape by, but the fact that it has become comfortable with running the show largely unchallenged since just after Independence, means it could become nasty if faced with the real possibility of losing power. That point, though, is not about to come tomorrow.

In November last year, a rights group reported that more than 300 people had been killed in the preceding five months, including opposition and former rebel FNL members.

The dangerous slide continued in Burundi, with Human Rights Watch reporting last month that there had been a significant increase in political violence: “Reciprocal killings by members of the ruling National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and the former rebel group the National Liberation Forces (FNL) increased, particularly in Bujumbura and in Bujumbura Rural Province. Impunity for these crimes remains one of the most serious obstacles to peace. The single largest incident of killings took place in September in Gatumba, near the Congolese border.”

Of the five members of the EAC, Burundi is probably the one over which most sleep should be lost. But if Nkurunziza’s successor is a gentler ruler, it too might still have a prayer.

Long-term, East Africa must worry about a common problem of institutional credibility. It seems that the majority of East African president are able to capture their countries’ imaginations, but the institutions th e state and other leaders don’t.

A Gallup poll published on April 25, for example, showed that in Kenya 62 per cent of respondents approved of President Kibaki, but only 38 per cent approved of the country’s wider leadership.

In Tanzania, 66 per cent approved of President Kikwete, but only 59 per cent approved of the country’s wider leadership. In Uganda, 60 per cent of respondents approved of President Museveni, but only 49 per cent of the country’s wider leadership.
There were no polling numbers for Rwanda, but President Kagame typically turns in high ratings in most opinion polling. Little polling is done in Burundi, but the same pattern might well be repeated there.

These numbers might flatter the leaders, but for as long East Africa is a region ruled by men, not institutions, it is will also more likely continue to report a democratic deficit.

*Courtesy of The East African



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Why Nigeria hates SA: Gloves off to be champion of Africa
June 8, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Charles Molele*

Competition over UN, AU jobs and economic rivalries are escalating tension between the powerhouses of Africa’s north and south, writes Charles Molele.

The diplomatic sabres have been rattled; the political fangs have been bared: the tensions between Africa’s powerhouse of the north, Nigeria, and its counterpart in the south, South Africa, have been escalating.

The main reasons are efforts by Abuja to obtain a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and membership of the G20 group of advanced and industrialised economies. On the other hand, there are perceptions that Pretoria wants to occupy every powerful position in multilateral institutions.

These factors have forced Nigeria to go against South Africa’s attempts to replace Gabon’s Jean Ping with South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the powerful position of the African Union (AU) Commission chairperson, according to a senior government diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Several South African diplomats and the ministers of foreign affairs in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are lobbying hard for Dlamini-Zuma to be elected during a re-run of the race slated for July in Lilongwe, Malawi.
But some of the diplomats, who were not mandated to talk to the press, said that Nigeria could spoil the party for South Africa.

They said Nigeria, the largest oil-producing country in Africa, was expected to support Ping, a former Gabonese foreign minister.

It would probably be joined by the Francophone countries of West Africa, which came under the banner of the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central Africa.

Earlier this year, Dlamini-Zuma stood against Ping, but neither garnered the required majority to be elected.

Relations between South Africa and Nigeria deteriorated last year after South Africa backed incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo, who lost national elections, during the battle for control of Côte d’Ivoire.

Nigeria’s new administration under President Goodluck Jonathan has also been championing efforts to surpass the size of the South African economy and join the world’s 20 largest economies by 2020. South Africa is the only African member of the G20, and this does not sit well with the Nigerians.

Like Nigeria, South Africa also wants a permanent seat on the Security Council.

In recent months, Nigerians have been complaining about South Africa dominating aspects of their economy, especially in telecommunications. Recently, a South African company opened high-profile shopping centres in Nigeria and several South African banks are eyeing opportunities there.

According to a South African diplomat in the department of international relations and co-operation, Nigeria also hates the fact that many economically depressed African countries rush to South Africa whenever they need aid and donations, something that Nigeria cannot afford to provide. In the past two months, South Africa has given millions of dollars in aid and donations to Somalia ($100-million), Malawi ($35-million) and to drought-stricken countries in the Sahel region, such as Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and  Chad (a total of $100-million).

Immigration remains another source of tension between the two countries. The recent deportation of 125 Nigerians for not producing yellow fever vaccination certificates has made matters worse.

Said a South African diplomat: “The tension between the two countries is mainly about who is the most powerful on the continent economically, politically, even militarily.

“They [Nigerians] want to spite us because we have been getting senior positions and membership in multilateral institutions such as the Brics [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa], Ibsa [India, Brazil, South Africa], the G20, the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations Security Council. Nigeria doesn’t like this. Nigeria also wanted to occupy these positions, but they do not have a stable democracy like ours, their economy is not as diverse as ours, and their financial institutions are not as highly rated as ours. Nigeria does not like this.

“Corruption is rampant in their country and terrorism is out of control. The tensions between Muslims and Christians are making it difficult for anyone to operate or conduct business there.”

Slightly fragile
Political analyst Zamikhaya Maseti said the relationship between the two countries had always been slightly fragile but remained cordial during the era of former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo.But, Maseti said, the Jonathan administration had repositioned the country as an economic powerhouse capable of playing a dominant role in African affairs.

“I support calls in diplomatic circles that South Africa should withdraw from this AU race because it is causing more harm than unity among African countries,” said Maseti.

“Nigeria believes that South Africa is holding many key positions in the multilateral institutions and should not be contesting for this … in terms of the so-called gentleman’s agreement, South Africa and Nigeria are not supposed to be contesting for these positions in the continental body.”

He added that the “mis-articulation” of the African agenda under President Jacob Zuma had also caused tension between South Africa and Nigeria and many other African countries.

No-fly zone
“Many African countries will never forgive us for backing the Security Council resolution which called for a no-fly zone in Libya. That resolution will forever remain a black spot; every bomb that landed in Libya, killing dozens of women and children, did so with our blessing in the eyes of Africa. How do we expect them to trust us now?”

But a senior diplomat in the depart­ment dismissed suggestions that South Africa should withdraw from the AU race because of deepening divisions on the continent, and also said South Africa should not have to carry the blame for the UN resolution on Libya – it was an AU decision, and Nigeria and Gabon also voted for it.

“We are not going to withdraw,” the diplomat said. “The region [SADC] has no appetite to withdraw. They believe it’s their time and this is in keeping with the rotational principle of the AU.

“South Africa was approached by SADC to lead the AU Commission and they identified Dlamini-Zuma and we agreed.

“The so-called gentleman’s agreement does not exist. Following the stalemate at the AU summit in January, the Benin president, Thomas Yayi Boni, who is the current chair of the AU, asked about it and there was no answer.
“So this gentleman’s agreement thing does not exist.

“What everybody complained about was that the AU is weak; it is unresponsive to Africa’s problems; it takes time to act; and it’s unable to counter Western hegemony.”

Claude Kabemba, political analyst and an authority on Africa, said Nigeria was comfortable with Ping because he was from a small country and could be dictated to.

“If you have South Africa in the AU Commission, Nigeria is not going to do as it likes because South Africa is an influential country and Africa’s economic powerhouse,” said Kabemba. “That is why they are comfortable with Gabon or small countries in the position.

“It’s all about power relations between two powerful states on the continent. It’s also about who controls what and who is seen as leading the continent.”

Last week, the SADC extraordinary summit held in Luanda reaffirmed its support for Dlamini-Zuma and said: “There was a need to strengthen the AU in order to better position the continental body for the multitude of opportunities and challenges facing Africa.”

Victory for gender equality
In early May, the Pan African Business Forum, an umbrella body with a membership of 350 influential business people and professionals, also endorsed Dlamini-Zuma’s candidature at a press conference in Accra, Ghana.

The forum said her win would be a victory for gender equality and would give the continent a new impetus for economic development – it would be an important player in world affairs. “Dlamini-Zuma fits the bill perfectly for this all-important continental position,” the forum’s president, Prince Prosper Ladislas Agbesi, told the Ghanaian media.

“What is needed now is an AU chairperson who can not only serve as effective mediator and consensus builder among member states on a variety of issues but also serve to cut through the many vested interests, and point the continent in the right direction when making decisions in all those issues.

“This is where Dlamini-Zuma can be effective for the benefit of the AU continental body and, indeed, for the continent as a whole.”

Department of international relations spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, said: “Relations between South Africa and Nigeria are strong and cordial, both political and economic. In fact, the leadership of the Nigerian ruling party at the highest level is in South Africa this weekend to interact with our country’s leadership with a view to further consolidate the strong ties.”

Approached for comment, the Nigerian ambassador to South Africa, Sonni Yusuf, referred to a media statement he released after reports suggested that Nigeria would back Dlamini-Zuma for the AU post, in which he denied the suggestions.

The reports were based on ambiguous remarks made last month by Nigerian Vice-President Namadi Sambo after a meeting of the Nigeria-South Africa Binational Commission in Cape Town. He reportedly said that Nigeria would support South Africa for positions at multilateral institutions from time to time, whenever the need arose.

*Courtesy of Mail & Guardian South Africa

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Five reasons why Kenya and Africa should take off
May 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Wolfgang Fengler*

A week hardly goes-by without one or more international investors announcingmajor investment interests in Nairobi, or other African capital cities.

Nokia, Nestle, and IBM are some of the companies which intend to position themselves more strongly in (East) Africa. True, their investments may still be low by international standards, but they are increasingly becoming noticeable.

On a macroeconomic level, the new Africa momentum has also been evident. Africa has weathered both the global financial crisis, and the turbulence in the Euro zone. According to World Bank’s latest economic outlook, Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to grow above 5 percent in 2012 and 2013. This would be higher than the average of developing countries (excluding China), and substantially, above growth in high-income countries. This means that at some point in this decade, Africa could grow above the levels of Asia.  A few years ago, it would not have been possible for economic observers to consider such a scenario.  Once Africa becomes the fastest growing continent in the world; this will also be the true turning point for Africa’s global perception.

There are five reasons why Africa can become an emerging region over the next decade, and Kenya provides a good illustration of this. The first reason is external, while the others are domestic.

First, Asia is growing richer and is becoming more expensive. With an aging and more affluent population, Asia, especially China, will need to expand domestic demand and balance its economy away from exports. This will further raise the costs for production, which will lead to “the end of the China price”, a term used by Pamela Cox, World Bank Vice President for East Asia, at this year’s spring meetings. Other poorer countries can benefit from the end of the China price, mainly due to the fact that more than 85 million manufacturing jobs are expected to leave China in the coming decade. Will Africa get a big share it? Will Kenya be part of it?

Second, Africa will be the new demographic powerhouse of the world. All continents will grow older, and many economies will have a shrinking working population. Africa on the other hand is still young (as a matter of fact, it is also growing older, but from a very low base), and the working age population is rapidly expanding. As family sizes shrink and populations grow older, countries will experience a “demographic dividend”, which occurs when the working age population exceeds the number of dependants, and continues to broaden.

For example, Kenya adds more than one million people per year to its population, and will reach an estimated 85 million by 2050. However, the number of youth (age 0-14) is expected to increase from 20 to 25 million, while that of adults from 22 million today, to 55 million in 2050. This is why rapid population growth is good for Africa, since fast growth is taking place for fundamentally different reasons, compared to the past; it is because people now live longer—not because they have more children.

Third is the geographic transition which is also connected to demography. Most African cities are still small, but growing rapidly; not least because rapid population growth by definition increases the density of countries. Studies show that doubling city size is associated with a productivity increase of an average of 6 percent.   The key issue will be the management of these growing cities. Today, 30 percent of Kenya’s population lives in cities. But going forward, this share will increase by about one percent per year, over the next several decades, which means that by 2033, half of Kenya’s population will be urban. Geography should also work to Africa’s advantage, because it is not far from key markets. The port of Mombasa is relatively close to India and Europe. In addition, Nairobi has already emerged as the region’s transport and service hub.

Fourth, the expansion in education is paying off. Africans are better educated today than they were twenty years ago. Among the Millennium Development Goals, education is likely to be achieved. Kenya speaks the world’s leading language—English—and the business community largely benefits from a good labor force.  Since the introduction of free primary education, most Kenyan children are now going to school. Most of them know how to read and write, but the quality of education still needs improvement.

Fifth, economic policies have substantially improved. The 1990s was the decade of controversial structural adjustment. When I was traveling through Africa during that period, black markets were everywhere. Today they are exceptional. Compared to Europe, Africa’s macroeconomic policies look excellent!  For example, Kenya’s debt level of around 45 percent of GDP would propel it to one of the top performers in the European Union.

Is this picture of an emerging Kenya and Africa too optimistic? Aren’t the challenges still enormous? Isn’t Africa still embroiled by war, drought, climate change, corruption… you name it? Yes, the challenges remain enormous.  But look back ten to twenty years, and compare it to the present day.  In countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda or Rwanda almost all social and economic indicators are now better than in the 1990s. Even globally, think about it: A few years ago, who would have thought that it would be possible for someone in Kenya to have a face-to-face conversation with someone in another part of the world—for free!  Thanks to modern communication, it is now possible.

There are still many local and global problems which need urgent solutions. Between now and 2050, an additional 2 billion people will join the world population, who can help to solve these problems; of these, every second person will be an African. There will also be 45 million more Kenyans. This new generation will grow up in a new world, and be better equipped to solve future challenges.

*Wolfgang Fengler is the World Bank’s Lead Economist in the Nairobi office of the World Bank where he covers Kenya, Rwanda, Eritrea, and Somalia. This is the second part of a speech given at the Annual Gala of to the Petroleum Institute of East Africa.



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Equatorial Guinea Is On The Right Path To Sustainable Development
February 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

-Ambassador -Purificacion Angue Ondo

By Ajong Mbapndah L

In a world where development has stagnated in the last couple of years, Africa is surviving the turmoil on a surprising scale. On the list of countries making tremendous economic progress is Equatorial Guinea. This small Central African country with a population of  less than a million is one of Ambassdaor Angue Ondo says her country is marching on with progressthe fastest developing countries in the continent. Known in the past for its underdevelopment and the vicious dictatorship of founding President Marcias Nguema which forced many of its people to exile, Equatorial Guinea has in a little over a decade seen a total reversal in its fortunes. The Equatorial Guinea Ambassador to the USA Ambassador Purificacion Angue Ondo is passionate when talking about her country and the transformation that has taken place there in the last few decades. Prior to 1979 when current President Obiang Nguema came to power, her country was in pathetic shape. The absence of economic opportunities and the dictatorial policies of the first President forced many including herself to seek refuge out of the country.Eductional facilities were lacking and the general state of infrastructure was appalling.

Equatorial Guinea is today a vast work in progress Ambassador Angue Ondo tells PAV with pride. The trend has turned around and Equatorial Guinea with its small population not withstanding is now a power player in Africa with the growing buoyancy of its economy. The economic miracle of Equatorial Guinea Ambassador Ondo admits is credited largely to the discovery of oil. Alongside Nigeria and Angola, Equatorial Guinea is today amongst the largest producers of Oil. Being a late addition to the club of oil producing countries, Ambassador Angue Ondo says her country was able to learn from examples of countries across the continent where oil resources have not been commensurate to Economic Development. Hospitals have been built, and roads constructed to ease movements to virtually all the chief towns of the country Ambassador Angue Ondo says. As the country seeks to diversify its economy and avoid dependence on oil, agriculture the Ambassador says is one area where the government of President Obiang Nguema is placing a lot of emphasis.

President Obiang Nguema making an opening statement ahead of  the opening game of the African Nations Cup co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea

President Obiang Nguema making an opening statement ahead of the opening game of the African Nations Cup co hosted by Equatorial GuineaThe topography of her country is not the best and the language makes it hard for easy communication with the rest of Africa where French and English are the dominant languages but much is being done with the training of students from her country around the world in multiple disciplines including languages in a bit to facilitate greater integration with the rest of the continent.

Economically, the Ambassador emphasizes that though oil may be the main source of income, her country is making great efforts to diversify its economy. The people of Equatorial Guinea must be food sufficient she says and the government is working hard to modernize agriculture. The work that is being done on road infrastructures for instance is also to help farmers move their goods to markets with relative ease. The tourism sector she says also has great potential, so too is timber exploitation, and other minerals that abound across the country.

Politically, ambassador Ondo says her country enjoys a multi-party democracy. The presence of about thirteen political parties for a country like Equatorial Guinea is ample proof that people are allowed to express themselves and live through their aspirations. Local and national elections routinely take place .A fervent defender of Womens’Rights, Ambassador Ondo who runs an NGO for the empowerment of women says under the leadership of President Obiang Nguema, women have played an important role in contributing to National development. There are women in government, in high levels of the administration, in the diplomatic service with her presence in Washington as the Equatorial Guinea Ambassador to the USA is an eloquent testimony of how much the country values the contribution of women in its forward march.

The Nations Cup that her country is co-hosting with Gabon is something that fills all her compatriots with pride. The excitement in Equatorial Guinea where football is the dominant sport is at fever pitch she said. The country has adequate infrastructure in Bata and Malabo to successfully host the tournament she said. Although Equatorial Guinea may not be one of the power houses when it comes to soccer in the continent, participating is the most important she says adding that at the end of the day there is only going to be one winner and that is Africa. The tournament she says will equally be an opportunity for Africa and the rest of the wider world to know more about her country, its progress and immense opportunities for investment that abound there.

When asked on the investment climate in her country, Ambassador Ondo said it was very friendly. The road network has been greatly improved and expanded upon. Her country has very good seaports and airports which meets international standards. Besides direct flights to a number of top destinations around the world, Equatorial Guinea is one of the few countries which had direct flights from the USA to Africa. The telecommunications network is also good and it is possible to use mobile phones even in very remote parts of her country.

On transparency in the management of the oil resources, Ambassador Ondo says the transformation in her country speaks volumes on how efficiently the resources are put to the service of the entire country. The government has greatly ameliorated the provision of social service and is doing more in that direction. Ambassador Angue with U S Under Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie CarsonThe country is able to fund a majority of its development projects without incurring cut throat loans. There is also a savings fund that is set aside for the funding of future projects. The fund she said is on standby and is untouchable as of now.

Relations between the USA and Equatorial Guinea are good she said. There may be a discrepancy between the size, population, economic development and international standing of both countries but that the USA has an embassy in Equatorial Guinea speaks to the growing importance of her country. The USA happens to also be one of the largest trading partners of Equatorial Guinea.

Criticisms against the government of Equatorial Guinea are often misguided, unfounded and far removed from actual reality. There are disgruntled politicians who take delight in sullying the image of the entire country she says. President Obiang she says deserves credit for progressively moving the country towards a democracy where political parties are free to operate, where people are free to run for various electoral positions.  For a country the size of Equatorial Guinea, the presence of thirteen political parties is an indication that there is an acceptable level of political activity. That President Obiang is in power is a decision of the Equato –Guinean people and it is in recognition of the visionary transformation the country has experienced under his leadership. The truth of the matter the Ambassador says is, Equatorial Guinea as it stands today under the leadership of President Obiang is starkly different from what it was before he took office in 1979.

Even those who claim to have fled the country for political reasons are returning home in droves the Ambassador said. The contribution of all Equato Guineans is needed for the country to keep moving forward. The difficult economic realities in other parts of the world are pushing more and more of her compatriots to move back home. It is also an admission on the part of others that the government of President Obiang deserves more credit than it gets. Backing her assessment with concrete examples, Ambassador Ondo cited two cases of compatriots in Finland and Canada who have embarked on the journey back home.

On what the President intends to do in the remainder for his current term, the Ambassador said, the President has had a very busy agenda attending to his functions as Chair of the African Union. Hopefully when his tenure as Chair of the African Union ends, there will be time for him to return to his challenging domestic duties. There is a programme in place that seeks to make Equatorial Guinea a developing country by the year 2020. The programme is on course she says and the government is doing all it can to make sure that Equatorial Guinea continues with its steady progress in development.

Found in the central Africa. The country consists of a mainland territory, Río Muni, which is bordered by Cameroon to the north and Gabon to the east and south and five small islands, Bioko, Corisco, Annobón, Small Elobey and Great Elobey. Although it is one of the smallest countries in the continent, it has one of the highest per capita incomes. There have been criticisms that the wealth of the country is concentrated in the hands of a few while the majority has nothing. Ambassador Ondo seems to debunk this emphasizing that projects that are carried out are for the benefit of all citizens, from roads, to hospitals, schools and telecommunication facilities.

Credited with several national and international distinctions for her work in advocating for women rights, Ambassador Angue Ondo has represented her country in the USA since 2005. She previously served as Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon from 2000 to 2005. Ambassador Angue Ondo herself was a victim of the dictatorship of first President Marcias Nguema. She suffered imprisonment and eventually escaped and sought refuge in exile. On her return from exile in the early 80s she helped in the creation of a department for the promotion of women in the new

Festive scenes at the African Nations Cup

Festive scenes at the African Nations Cup

government. She served the department with dedication and was recognized by the United Nations Population Fund as one of the top women leaders in Sub Sahara Africa. A participant at the United Nations Third World Conference on Women in 1987 in Nairobi, Ambassador Angue Ondo was elected as President of the UN’s Africa Region Coordinating Committee for integration of Women in the Central African Sub Region.

Upon her departure from the government of Equatorial Guinea in 1995, Ambassador Angue Ondo dedicated her energy and focus on women’s issues. She served as a local consultant for the United Nations women’s development and integration issues in her country. Working in the civil society, she created two nongovernmental groups the Federation of Women for World Peace and ABIFAGE, a group focused on family planning. Both groups continue to be at the service of women in country today. Ambassador Angue Ondo was a participant at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 and The Hague in 1998. She was equally a participant at the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. In support of Ambassador Angue Ondo’s firm opinion that the country is resolutely on its way forward, the country was credited with the successful hosting the first match of the 2012 Nations Cup she is co-hosting with Gabon .Playing in its first ever African Nations cup, Equatorial Guinea made it to the Quarter Finals…. The country still has a long way to go but from what it was twenty five or so years ago and where it it is the contrast is staggering .

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