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Who should pay for African peacekeeping?
June 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Obi Anyadike*

Ugandan AMISOM soldiers of Battle Group 8 leave Kampala for Mogadishu, 2011 - Obi Anyadike/IRIN

Ugandan AMISOM soldiers of Battle Group 8 leave Kampala for Mogadishu, 2011 – Obi Anyadike/IRIN

The problem for African peacekeeping is not so much where to find the boots to put on the ground, but how to pay for them – not to mention the helicopters, intelligence-gathering and technology crucial to conducting modern military operations and dealing with the new security threats on the horizon.

Since 2002, none of the five African Union peace operations have been financed through the AU’s Peace Fund, except for an allocation of $50 million for the African-led International Support Mission to Mali in 2013. The slogan of ‘African solutions for African problems’ falls a little flat when financing mainly comes from the European Union, individual European donors, and the United States.

But an AU summit at the end of July in the Rwandan capital Kigali hopes to change all that. African leaders are going to try to agree on a roadmap of alternative financing for AU-led peace support operations.

The meeting will explore innovative approaches – taxes on hotels, flights, text messaging, even a percentage of import duties – to self-generate 25 percent of peacekeeping costs by 2020: a significant step forward. The AU hopes that level of commitment would persuade the UN to cover the remaining 75 percent.

What happens now?

The AU wants to make funding sustainable and predictable. At the moment it’s neither. More than 90 percent of the AU’s peace and security budget is financed through the EU’s African Peace Facility. Since the APF was established in 2004, the EU has committed more than €1.1 billion.

Somali troops with Ugandan AMISOM forces
Obi Anyadike/IRIN
Somali troops with Ugandan AMISOM forces

But what is given can also be withheld. At the beginning of the year, the EU cut its allocation to the allowances of the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by 20 percent. The reasoning: there were other “competing priorities in Africa and the world in general”, including the need to shift resources into training the Somali National Army.

AMISOM, which has battled the al-Shabab insurgency for nine years, currently absorbs more than 85 percent of APF spending. The UN also provides a non-lethal logistics “life support” package that includes fuel, food, and health services. Nevertheless, AMISOM remains an under-manned, under-equipped and bare-bones operation.

Troop-contributing countries reacted with anger to the EU’s suggestion that they should make up the shortfall on allowances. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta argued that African troops were paying in blood for what is an international peace and security remit. Both Kenya and Uganda have threatened to withdraw their soldiers.

Who pays the piper

The EU’s policy shift exemplifies the problem of the ad hoc nature of the funding. “The challenge is that the financing for these types of missions is not fit for purpose,” said a senior AU official who asked not to be named. “It’s a hodge-podge. We can’t go on like this, passing around the hat.”

The AU has on paper a comprehensive security architecture, but little of its own money to pay for it. The organisation lost its main benefactor with the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and its other major contributors – Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, and Egypt – are all going through tough times. Dependency on external financing not only determines which conflicts the AU can intervene in, but also dictates when the missions must end.

Ugandan soldier AMISOM
Obi Anyadike/IRIN
Ugandan soldier AMISOM

At the beginning of the year, the AU appointed Donald Kabureka, former president of the African Development Bank, as its high representative for the Peace Fund. His role is to find the resources that will enable African contributions to hit 25 percent of the fund’s budget, and to lobby international partners towards securing UN assessed contributions for the remainder.

It hasn’t been plain sailing. Some members, including Kenya and Egypt, have frettedover the impact a proposed $2 hotel tax or $10 levy on air tickets would have on their tourism industries. Zambia argued that the surrendering of national taxes was a violation of citizens’ rights.

“There are also concerns over the accountability of the Peace Fund, which will be the repository of the funding,” said the senior AU official. “Little has been done on transparency and fiduciary rules.”

Tricky two-step

According to Paul Williams of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, Kabureka is embarking on a tricky two-step process.

First he needs buy-in from the member states at the Kigali summit. “Once the AU settles on what its Peace Fund will do and how it can be filled with appropriate funds, then the UN and AU must agree on how the UN should help support African peace operations,” Williams told IRIN.

The UN recognises that AMISOM represents something of a model for future peace operations. The UN envisages more regional interventions authorised by the Security Council, and regards the AU in particular as a key partner. The AU has shown itself willing to deploy in situations where there is “no peace to keep”, and which in the case of Somalia involved the bloody slog of house-to-house combat in Mogadishu. Hardly the traditional role for UN blue helmets.

Apart from the AU’s willingness to take on enforcement operations, it also has the advantage of speed. In response to the violence in Central African Republic and Mali, the UN authorised the rapid deployment of AU peace support missions, interventions that were later re-hatted as UN operations. Ten of the UN’s 17 current peace missions are in Africa.

Burden-sharing

The AU sees the way forward as a formalised partnership with the UN under the mandate of Chapter VIII of the UN charter, which authorises collaboration with regional organisations.

Ugandan AMISOM APCs Mogadishu
Obi Anyadike/IRIN
AMISOM staging area, Mogadishu

“Such a partnership should be based on the principles of burden-sharing, comparative advantage and division of labour, to better address the complexities of today’s conflicts,” an AU discussion note said.

Last year, a High-Level Independent Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, established by the UN secretary-general to review peace operations, recommended that the UN should support AU-led missions on a case-by-case basis. That qualification falls short of “African expectations of more open-ended commitments in terms of institutional cooperation and financing”, noted a report by the European Centre for Development Policy management.

In the past year, there has been a series of reviews, framework documents, and common position papers exploring the steps to greater convergence. But there are still institutional and political challenges that could make working together difficult for both organisations – the ECDP paper noted financial and budgetary control mechanisms and compliance with UN peacekeeping principles.

The AU has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to combatting sexual violence and protecting human rights in its deployments – key concerns of some UN member states. The (underfunded) pillars of its security architecture also uphold the importance of pursuing conflict prevention and early warning – the mediation and political avenues – before getting to boots on the ground.

It’s not clear where the Western, permanent UN Security Council members – the US, France, and the UK – sit in terms of using UN-assessed contributions to finance AU peace operations. “I would say it’s too soon to attribute definitive positions to any of the key players at this moment in time,” said Williams.

But in a presentation earlier this year on regional approaches to security, he argued: “If Africa cannot find sustainable, predictable, flexible funding, then it raises questions of credibility, local ownership and sustainability.”

Without it, he added: “African states and organisations will never fully be in control; never own the agenda”.

*IRIN NEWS

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Being African in India: ‘We are seen as demons’
June 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

I speak Hindi and always laugh. But when I offer biscuits to the neighbours’ children, they don’t accept.’

by Aletta Andre*

New Delhi/Greater Noida, India – After a year in India, Zaharaddeen Muhammed, 27, knows enough Hindi to understand what bander means. Monkey.

Zaharaddeen Muhammed, a master's degree student from Nigeria living in India, speaks at the Africa-India Solidarity Forum in New Delhi [Aletta Andre/Al Jazeera]

Zaharaddeen Muhammed, a master’s degree student from Nigeria living in India, speaks at the Africa-India Solidarity Forum in New Delhi [Aletta Andre/Al Jazeera]

But it isn’t even the daily derogatory comments that make him doubt his decision to swap his university in Nigeria for a two-year master’s degree programme in chemistry at Noida International University. Nor is it the questions about personal hygiene, the unsolicited touching of his hair or the endless staring. It is his failure to interact with Indian people on a deeper level.”People often look at me as if I am different, and hard to be trusted,” the tall, softly spoken student explains. “I try to be friendly. I speak Hindi and always laugh. But when I offer biscuits to the neighbours’ children, they don’t accept.”

After a year, one of Zaharaddeen‘s biggest wishes remains unfulfilled: to be invited to an Indian wedding.

“I am a big fan of Bollywood,” he explains about why he wanted to come to India. “I did not come for the school because there are enough good universities back home. But I wanted to learn about this other culture and interact with the people here.”

While he speaks with his Indian classmates at the university, a 75-acre campus accommodating students from more than 20 countries, and some of them also showed up for an international cultural event he helped to organise, none of these encounters lead to friendships.

“I have never been at an Indian person’s home, as a friend. No one has visited me,” Zaharaddeen says.

Zaharaddeen rents two rooms on the first floor of a three-storey house in Greater Noida, a residential area on the outskirts of Noida, a satellite town east of New Delhi and part of what is called the National Capital Region. The house is about an hour’s drive south after crossing the River Yamuna which runs along Delhi’s east side.

Noida International University, one of five private universities in the city attracting students from all over the world, is another 20 minutes’ drive by bus or auto rickshaw along a newly constructed expressway, surrounded by barren fields and opposite a Formula 1 racing circuit that was built in 2011.

The university hostels are all off-campus. Zaharaddeen opted out of living in them because he likes to cook his own meals and he’d heard that the hostel canteens only serve vegetarian food.

A friend from Nigeria, who was already in India, found his current house for him. The ground floor is also rented out to a student from Nigeria.

“My landlord is an extremely good person,” Zaharaddeen says. Although he has had some bad experiences with Indian people, many of them are good, he stresses. And he doesn’t want to generalise.

“That would be a huge mistake. Because it is Indians often generalising about all people from Africa that makes us feel unsafe.”

‘Racism at every turn’

Zaharaddeen is a member of the Association of African Students in India, which last month announced a protest rally at New Delhi’s protest street Janter Manter.

“African students no longer feel safe in India; we have to deal with racism at every turn,” said the announcement.

The rally was planned after the Congolese teacher Masonda Kitanda Olivier died in an attack in Delhi in May. A week later, six Africans, including two women and a priest who was on his way home with his wife and baby, were attacked by men with cricket bats.

Earlier this year, a female student from Tanzania was beaten and stripped in Bangalore by an angry mob, in response to a fatal accident caused by a Sudanese student unknown to her.

Zaharaddeen speaks with horror about the attack in Bangalore: “She was just walking there. It could have happened to any of us.”

In each of the cases, the police said that racism had nothing to do with it. But for the student association and the Group of African Heads of Missions, it had, and the time had come to take up the issue at a higher level.

‘Followed and harassed’

Zaharaddeen was supposed to coordinate transport for the students from Greater Noida wishing to attend the rally, but it was cancelled when the student leaders and diplomats were invited for talks at the Ministry of External Affairs and the police commissioner made commitments to ensure their safety.

After that, Delhi police organised several community meetings with residents from African countries and their Indian neighbours and landlords.

Zaharaddeen attended one of the meetings in Chattarpur in southwest Delhi, an area full of narrow alleys popular with students.

“It was very useful,” he says. “Both sides got to raise their issues.”

African residents spoke about the difficulties they often have in finding accommodation.

“When landlords find out where you are from, they just say ‘no’,” explains a female student, who asked us not to reveal her name or nationality for security reasons.

“I don’t want to be targeted. Even when people ask me at parties where I am from, I often lie … you never know who you are speaking to. You might be followed and harassed.”

She used to live in an area similar to Chattarpur and says she was evicted by her landlord without any notice. “Even if they rent out their place to you, they remain suspicious and start asking for the rent halfway through the month. I was late with paying once and was told to leave immediately.”

Rohtas, a young broker who mediates between landlords and potential tenants, says he often gets requests not to show houses to “black people”, because they’re presumed to deal in drugs and be involved in other criminal activities.

And its not just landlords who think like that, the female student explains. “Shopkeepers often check the money I give them to make sure it is not fake,” she says.

“It is rude and unfair. We are a happy, cheerful people. But in India we just get angry.”

‘Demons or drug dealers’

As a secretary of the Nigerian Citizens’ Welfare Association of Greater Noida, which holds meetings twice a month, Zaharaddeen encourages other members to “live peacefully with the host community”.

Zaharaddeen Muhammed, a master's degree student from Nigeria, on the balcony of his home in Greater Noida, India [Aletta Andre/Al Jazeera]

Zaharaddeen Muhammed, a master’s degree student from Nigeria, on the balcony of his home in Greater Noida, India [Aletta Andre/Al Jazeera]

That echoes the stance of the All India Nigeria Students and Community Association, which operates from New Delhi and imposes a 1,000-rupee ($15) fine on its members if they are found to be dressed “inappropriately”.Zaharaddeen does not drink or smoke, but says he has adjusted his lifestyle. He has classes from 10am to 4pm, eats lunch on campus, usually with other international students, and goes home afterwards.

He might go to a restaurant or the grocery shop, and on Fridays he goes to the local mosque, but, he says: “I don’t go out. In India, you cannot roam the streets at night. In Nigeria, I used to hang out till midnight. Here I make sure to be at home by 9pm-10pm [at the] latest.”

At a recent meeting organised by the Africa-India Solidarity Forum, a traditionally dressed Zaharaddeen spoke to an audience of about 50 mostly Indians about the generalisations he feels Africans are subjected to.

This was seconded by Ibrahim Djiji Adam, a 25-year-old business student from Libya.

“We are often seen as demons, drug dealers or prostitutes,” Ibrahim said.

Unlike Zaharaddeen, Ibrahim made Indian friends during the three-year programme he recently completed at Noida International University. He learned Hindi and even “dated an Indian girl”, he says. This is how he says he realised that many Indians “are racist amongst themselves”, as well.

The caste system

Professor Archin Vanaik, who retired from teaching international relations at Delhi University and also spoke at the forum, agrees with Ibrahim and links the widespread racism African people experience in India to the caste system.

READ MORE: India’s northeast speaks out against racism

“The caste system makes it easier for people to accept other forms of exclusion,” he explains.

There might also be what he calls “psychological compensation” at play for those Indians who experience prejudice as members of lower castes or the so-called “other backward classes”.

“They could feel better by looking at African people and thinking ‘at least I am better than that’,” he says.

Zaharaddeen felt positive after the forum. “I am happy that so many people truly care,” he says. “Thanks to meetings like this, we can start to feel safe again.”

He hopes that India and Nigeria will continue their decades-old ties, built during their struggles for independence and strengthened in the post-colonial years of non-alignment, when thousands of students and business people would travel between the two countries.

But would he advise a good friend from Nigeria to pursue their higher education in India?

“Then I would perhaps tell him to go elsewhere … The purpose of studying abroad is to learn about another culture. If that cannot be achieved, then you might as well not go.”

Source: Al Jazeera

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A Trip to Nairobi Inspired This One-of-a-Kind Company
June 24, 2016 | 0 Comments
Simien National Park via Afro Traveller

Simien National Park via Afro Traveller

I majored in biology in college and thought I’d become a doctor. But I also wanted to travel. So as a way to do both, I spent years with international humanitarian organizations. The work was satisfying, but the social life was challenging: My colleagues would go back to their hotel at night — in part because they were almost all older than me, but also because they were fearful of the potentially unsafe, unfamiliar cities we were in. I didn’t want to be this far from home and not experience a place fully, so I often went out. And I discovered amazing things.

From a rooftop party at an advertising agency to road-tripping across the country for a DJ set, I was exposed to a side of Africa I’d never seen before. These were cosmopolitan movers and shakers, but distinctly African. In 2011, I met up with a photographer in Johannesburg; through her lens, I met entertainers, artists and other influencers. A year later, I connected with a sorority sister in Nairobi, Kenya, who was working on MTV’s African youth culture series Shuga. The show’s producer, fashion designer and filmmaker took me out to restaurants and nightclubs, and I had the time of my life.

That’s when the lightbulb went off. People weren’t exposed to this Africa, and I wanted to connect visitors to it — not just by talking about these amazing things, but by directing people to them.

I spent the next year or so developing Tastemakers Africa, a company to book epic experiences, with epic people, in every African city. In February 2014, I went to Lagos for Social Media Week to show off my early-stage mockup. My session was packed, which confirmed that I was really onto something. I was working for another NGO at the time but quit and joined MediKidz, a VC-backed healthcare startup, to learn more about building a company. The cofounder, Dr. Kim Chilman-Blair, was a sales genius. She was super-transparent with me about her funding process, and I saw a lot of her documents and pitch decks, and heard about the screwups. But the biggest thing I learned from Kim was to work harder than hard. Things need to get done in the NGO world, but there isn’t a sense of urgency; Kim always had a sense of urgency.

simien-mountians-e1461450685817By that summer, I had fleshed out a prototype. As a proof of concept, we promoted a “Tastemakers Tour of Ghana” on my Facebook page, and it sold out in weeks. I still wasn’t ready to make it my full-time job, but then MediKidz was bought and I was laid off — so I slammed the gas on the startup. My boyfriend and I closed out our 401(k)s, and I entered an accelerator that gave us $20,000 and then raised another $100,000 from angel investors. I also won first place in a Lagos competition called She Leads Africa, which got me $10,000 and a mentoring network.

We launched our website in December 2014 and ended 2015 with more than $200,000 in experience and concierge bookings. Our app, Tstmkrs, launched in beta in December of last year, and we did $100,000 in Q1 bookings for 2016. We’re still figuring out who and where our audience is and what they’re willing to pay, but we’re learning and growing fast. In five years, we expect to be in at least 40 countries on the continent. We will be the brand, and our connections, support and infrastructure will make us important to many others who come here as well. We’ve already built partnerships with Uber, South African Airways and Radisson Blu (that one’s for a pan-African travel contest in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa), and have gotten interest in an acquisition from a large hospitality company. But no matter what happens, I know we’ll have played a huge role in not just how people think about traveling in Africa, but what people think of Africa itself.

*Fox

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Governments and Telecoms Top Targeted Sectors for Cyber Attacks in East Africa
June 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

Cyber breaches are not confined to developed markets

Patrick Matu - Compliance, Forensics and Cyber expert for East Africa

Patrick Matu – Compliance, Forensics and Cyber expert for East Africa

In East Africa, governments are the top target sector for cyber attacks (33%). Telecommunications (22%) and financial services (17%) follow in close succession. Contrary to the perception that cyber breaches are a problem unique to the large multinational companies based in developed markets, East African organisations are fast becoming a target for attacks with local subsidiaries particularly attractive as the ‘cyber’ route into these multinationals.

According to Control Risks’  cyber threat intelligence team:

  • Attacks are increasing rapidly and in severity: Globally there has been a 42% increase in the number of targeted attacks reported between 2015 and Q1-Q2 2016
  • For East Africa, Advanced Persistent Threat and Criminal Targeted Attacks are the most impactful cyber attack techniques in 2016
  • In Kenya alone, the estimated costs for the country due to cyber crime costs sums up to 2 billion Kenyan shillings ($23m) +
  • The Kenyan Government has made great strides with the formation of Kenya National Computer Incident Response Team Coordination Centre (KE_CIRT/CC) launched in 2012 and the development of the national cyber security strategy in 2014, it is however key for the public and private sector organisations to interpret what the policies mean for them; essentially adopt a “paper to practice” model for their organisation

Patrick Matu, Compliance, Forensics and Cyber expert for East Africa comments:
“Despite a growing number of media headlines about US or EU based companies falling victim to a cyber breach, the lack of obligation in many emerging markets to report on incidents is creating a false illusion that businesses operating in these markets are not subject to cyber attacks. In fact many organisations with bases in these emerging markets are prime targets and seen as the ‘weak underbelly’ when it comes to an organisation’s cyber security.”
Matu continues:
“Cyber security still isn’t given enough priority by business leaders in the region as it’s often seen as an isolated IT problem and not a business issue. It’s important that cyber security is demystified at that senior level. Rather than being perceived as this elusive dark art, cyber security needs to be incorporated into the whole business and not left isolated with the IT team. As the world of cyber criminality continues to evolve, it’s important that businesses continually review their IT security measures. This should include an on-going review of the cyber threat landscape to understand what kinds of threats your business might face and adjusting your security measures accordingly – not forgetting making sure all employees are aware of the potential threats and how to respond.”

Control Risks  is an independent global business risk consultancy with 36 offices across the globe. Control Risks has over 30 years of experience working in Africa. With regional offices in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, we provide clients with high quality support in understanding and managing the business risks they face

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Rwanda: Community Advancement Is a Responsibility for Us All – Kagame
June 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

Photo: Village Urugwiro/The New Times President Kagame with the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company, Muhtar Kent, and US Ambassador to Rwanda, Erica J. Barks-Ruggles, at the launch of Coca-Cola EKOCENTER in Ruhunda, Rwamagana District.

Photo: Village Urugwiro/The New Times
President Kagame with the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company, Muhtar Kent, and US Ambassador to Rwanda, Erica J. Barks-Ruggles, at the launch of Coca-Cola EKOCENTER in Ruhunda, Rwamagana District.

President Paul Kagame has said that the wellbeing and advancement of communities is a global responsibility, involving a cohesive public-private partnership.

Kagame made these remarks yesterday, shortly after launching a Coca-Cola-sponsored social and economic development EKOCENTER site in Ruhunda Cell, Gishari Sector, Rwamagana District.

An Ekocenter is both a community centre and a general store, based on a social enterprise model.

The solar-powered flagship Ekocenter site in Rwanda stands to benefit up to 25,000 residents with access to services such as a fully-fledged health centre, a telecommunication tower for 3G WiFi-enabled internet access, a purified water collection centre, mobile charging services, a retail store, and a lit football field.

The launch of the facility was also graced by Muhtar Kent, the Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company; renowned American civil rights activist and politician Jesse Jackson; government officials; Coca-Cola global and regional directors; Randall Hogan, Chairman of Pentair, among others.

President Kagame lauded Cola-Cola’s “important business” in Rwanda with BRALIRWA (the country’s biggest brewer), and termed the company’s attention to the socio-economic development of the country as the “most commendable”.

“The facilities inaugurated here, demonstrate that the well-being and advancement of communities, is a responsibility for all of us,” said Kagame.

He added that, “by working together with other companies, as well as government, civil society, and most importantly citizens themselves, a win-win situation is created, for everyone involved.”

The President said that the benefits of the public-private partnerships normally unfold in the wider context of the Sustainable Development Goals, to which the world committed itself last year.

“These Global Goals cannot be achieved with public funds alone. After all, merely eliminating poverty is too small an ambition. Instead, the urgent focus is to lay the foundation, for sustainable and equitable prosperity, in every corner of the globe,” he said, adding that this explains why the Global Goals emphasise strengthening partnerships among governments, the private sector, and civil society.

Coca-Cola partnered with a range of other companies to put up the facility- they include; Ericsson MedShare, Pentair, Phillips, Solarkiosk and TIGO Rwanda.

According to officials, the exact amount of money that set up the EKOCENTER is yet to be consolidated, due to a number of partners involved, but the health facility is estimated to have cost about $300,000 to renovate and revamp with new machinery, according to sources from Coca-Cola.

At Ruhunda EKOCENTER, Ericsson helped construct a new mobile phone tower to provide connectivity while TIGO Rwanda is providing 3G coverage for internet access.

Medshare provides medicines to the government-run health centre, while Pentair operates two water purification units provides up to 20,000 liters of safe drinking water daily using a combination of technologies, including reverse osmosis.

 Other partners like Philips power the new football field and surrounding areas, including the health centre; Solarkiosk designed and operates the new Ekocentre, which is run by a female entrepreneur and serves as a local retail store where solar solutions, basic necessities and Coca-Cola products are sold.

A 20-litre-jerrican of filtered water retails at Rwf50, while the same volume of treated tap water costs Rwf20.

There are currently 23 EKOCENTERS in Rwanda; 13 of them located in Eastern Province.

Kagame said public-private partnerships should not be about the company’s size-as long as it can “meaningfully support” Rwanda’s efforts, through jobs and training, but also with community projects, such as EKOCENTER.

All the collaborations are guided by this spirit, Kagame said.

“So let’s do even more together, in the years ahead… The private sector has a good partner in Rwandans. We want to make the best use of all the resources available to us. Above all, we want to see measureable results, in the lives of people.”

In his remarks, Kent explained why they came up with the Ekocenter concept; “It’s because we know our growth and our partners’ growth can only be sustainable when the communities we serve are strong. By working across the ‘golden triangle’ of business, government and civil society, we believe we can support increased local investment and help make communities like Ruhunda more economically and socially sustainable.”

He added: “Rwanda is on the move, marching towards a very prosperous future-and we are proud to be part of it at Coca Cola. In 2013, when I met President Kagame in the US, we talked about this vision.. I am so honored to make it happen in a short two years.”

Angelique Muhawenimana, a resident of Ruhunda cell and a mother of two had a miscarriage last November.

She says that “without the health facility near her home, the consequences of the miscarriage might have resulted into worse end-results at the time. The health centre has really supported us in many ways”

Ruhunda health centre maternity ward conducts about 60 child deliveries per month. The health centre has 32 staff with about 20 of them being nurses and the rest support staff. It also receives up to 200 people on a daily basis, according to the managers.

The health centre was established in 1986, but due to limited resources, it was not able to grow, making the Coca-Cola and MedShare sponsored revamp a timely boost.

Jesse Jackson paid tribute to President Kagame, whom he referred to as a man of integrity and vision.

With the Ruhunda site, Coca-Cola and its partners have now opened more than 100 Ekocenters in seven countries across the globe and, by the end of the year, they plan to open at least 177 of such facilities in 10 countries, serving at least a million people.

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African Youth to African Leaders: “You Must Do More to End Conflicts in Africa”
June 17, 2016 | 0 Comments
Dlamini Zuma

Dlamini Zuma

AFRICAN leaders are not doing enough to stop conflicts in Africa, said two-thirds of the nearly 86,000 youth surveyed in a recent mobile-based poll conducted in nine African countries.

Using a messaging tool called U-Report, the short survey was sent to 1.4 million mobile users in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Central African Republic, Senegal, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Guinea, from 18 May to 1 June 2016.

The U-Report users surveyed, who are typically between 15 and 30 years of age, were asked to provide their opinion on conflicts and crises in Africa through short multiple choice questions on their mobile phones.

The findings of the survey will be shared with African leaders on the Day of the African Child, which is marked every year on June 16 by the African Union.

“It is so crucial, and even urgent for the leaders to heed the voices of the youth, if we must silence the guns by 2020, as set in our Agenda 2063. This is flagship project to which the youth must also recognize their role and take their responsibility,” said the African Union Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Key findings:

  • Asked whether African leaders are doing enough to stop conflicts and crises in Africa, two out of three respondents (70 per cent) believe that African leaders are not doing enough.
  • When asked why Africa is more prone to conflict than other regions, 56 per cent of respondents believe that ‘politicians fighting for power’ is the main reason while 19 per cent said ‘inequality’, 17 per cent said ‘poverty’ and 4 per cent said ‘access to food and water’.
  • What can leaders do to stop conflicts? Nearly a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) said a ‘strong economy’ while 20 per cent believe African countries needs to be more independent in their ‘foreign policy’, 19 per cent said investing in ‘good education’, 14 per cent said ‘talk to each other’, 10 per cent said ‘talk to other country’ and 9 per cent said ‘security’.

Humanitarian crises in Africa continue to spill over borders in recent years, with children and families increasingly on the move. More than 1.2 million people face insecurity in the Central African Republic due to a complex humanitarian and protection crisis that has spread to neighbouring countries. Nearly 1.3 million children have been displaced by violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency across Cameroon, Chad, the Niger and Nigeria. Two years into the conflict in South Sudan, nearly 2.4 million people have fled their homes, including 721,000 living as refugees. Burundi is facing a protection crisis that has driven some 265,000 people to flee across borders.

“The lives of millions of children and their families are disrupted, upended or destroyed by conflict every year in Africa,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “This survey speaks to every child’s right to be heard and gives African youth an opportunity to express their hopes for the future of their continent.”

U-Report is a social messaging tool available in 23 countries, including 15 African countries, allowing users to respond to polls, report issues and work as positive agents of change on behalf of people in their country. Once someone has joined U-Report, polls and alerts are sent via Direct Message and real-time responses are collected and mapped on a website, where results and ideas are shared back with the community.

*Real Magazine

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After years of tense relations, the arrival of President Magufuli appears to have kick-started a new era of warm ties with Rwanda.
June 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

After years of tense relations, the arrival of President Magufuli appears to have kick-started a new era of warm ties with Rwanda.

By *

John and Paul come together as President Kagame welcomes President Magufuli to his home in April 2016, giving him five cows. Credit: Paul Kagame.

John and Paul come together as President Kagame welcomes President Magufuli to his home in April 2016, giving him five cows. Credit: Paul Kagame.

After years of frosty relations, Rwanda and Tanzania seem to have finally mended their bridges over the past few months.

Under the presidency of Jakaya Kikwete, the relationship between the two East African neighbours deteriorated over a number of diplomatic rows and political disagreements. Signs of a gradual reconciliation began towards the end of Kikwete’s decade in office, but this trend has accelerated greatly since he was replaced by President John Magufuli in November 2015.

This was seen most symbolically this April when Magufuli attended Rwanda’s 2016 genocide commemoration ceremony, laying a wreath and lighting a memorial flame alongside his counterpart Paul Kagame in honour of the victims of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. On this visit, Magufuli was welcomed enthusiastically as he visited the country, with President Kagame remarking: “You must know, first of all, that you are at your brother’s place. Since you were elected, your presence has been refreshing.”

The tone of relations between the two neighbours has thus warmed significantly in recent months, and relations got even closer last month as the first Tanzania-Rwanda Trade Forum was held in Kigali. A line seems to have been drawn under several years of tense relations, with both countries hoping to benefit.

Carry that weight

Over the past two decades or so, relations between Tanzania and Rwanda have typically been fairly close. Before the genocide broke out, Tanzania hosted the negotiations between the then government of President Juvénal Habyarimana and the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) leading to the Arusha Accords. And after 1994, Tanzania was one of the first regional states to force Rwandan, predominately Hutu, refugees to return and cooperated in arresting perpetrators of the genocide.

But fractions began to emerge when Tanzania agreed to host the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) against the wishes of the Rwandan government who wanted it to be held domestically. And these tensions deepened in 2006 when Tanzania voted against Rwanda (and Burundi) joining the East African Community, though both eventually joined in 2007.

It was after 2013, however, that relations particularly soured, when President Kikwete publicly suggested that the Rwandan government should hold talks with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel group that operates in the eastern Congo and contains former genoicdaires.

This remark deeply angered the Rwandan government and led to a deepening diplomatic row. A few months after the fallout, Tanzania expelled thousands of Rwandan “illegal immigrants”. President Kikwete then met with various Rwandan opposition groups such as the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), with a closed-door meeting in January 2014 raising fears that Tanzania was supporting political dissent. And, even more harmfully, Kikwete also met with leaders of the FDLR, a militant group which – though considered to be relatively weak – continues to oppose the Rwandan government in Kigali.

We can work it out

When Magufuli was sworn into office in November 2015 therefore, he had a great opportunity to rebuild bridges, and since his inauguration, relations have notably warmed, especially with Magufuli’s presence at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, an appearance that symbolically assuaged Rwandan fears that Tanzania was stoking dissent or even a return to violence.

There could be a number of motivations for, and consequences from, this rapprochement. Firstly, in economic terms, better relations could be beneficial in terms of trade that crosses the border between the two nations. Amongst other things, closer ties will likely help facilitate the plans to expand the Central Transport Corridor which is intended to link Tanzania’s port at Dar es Salaam with landlocked countries such as Rwanda by rail. This large-scale project could help boost regional integration and trade, providing an efficient alternative to the long, difficult and costly journeys many goods currently have to take between the two countries on poor roads.

Another motivation behind Tanzania’s desire to mend bridges with Rwanda could be for regional political calculations. Tanzania wants to avoid being isolated amongst its East African counterparts, especially with Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya deepening their ties through regional infrastructural projects such as the Northern Corridor agreement and the Mutual Defence Pact, an agreement signed by the three countries in 2014 to coordinate military.

While established to counter regional security threats, some commentators believe one of the objectives behind the pact was to curb growing Tanzanian influence, while one Rwandan professor commented to African Arguments that “The Northern Corridor Agreement is [meant] to check Tanzanian regional power”. Magufuli’s actions since coming to office may be aimed at defusing coordinated actions by its neighbours to contain its influence.

Magufuli’s meaningful display during the commemoration, the warm words between the two leaders, and the inauguration of the Tanzania-Rwanda Trade Forum, amongst others, bring hope of closer relations between the two neighbours under new Tanzanian leadership. And after a few years of tense ties, the results could be significant economically, diplomatically and politically for both the two countries and the broader region.

*Source African Arguments.Jonathan Beloff is studying for a PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.

 

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GE opens new healthcare training and skills institute committed to training 10,000 health professionals by 2020
June 16, 2016 | 0 Comments
  • As part of GE’s commitment to supporting sustainable healthcare development in Kenya, the $13 million investment provides localized human capital development capabilities
  • The institute builds on the Ministry’s ongoing $420 million health modernization program, which has new impact data demonstrating improved access to radiology services for patients and increased operational performance 
From Left: Farid Fezoua, President & CEO, GE Healthcare Africa, Jay Ireland, President & CEO, GE Africa, Dr Cleopa Mailu, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health for Kenya, John Flannery, President & CEO of GE Healthcare

From Left: Farid Fezoua, President & CEO, GE Healthcare Africa, Jay Ireland, President & CEO, GE Africa, Dr Cleopa Mailu, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health for Kenya, John Flannery, President & CEO of GE Healthcare

General Electric  today marked another step in the development of sustainable healthcare in Kenya, with the inauguration of the brand new $13 million GE Healthcare Skills and Training Institute, an education facility for healthcare professionals.

The centre was inaugurated in the presence of Dr Cleopa Mailu, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health for Kenya (or designate) and Mr. John Flannery, President & CEO of GE Healthcare, in Nairobi.

Through the new facility, GE has committed to training over 10,000 healthcare professionals from across Kenya and East Africa by 2020.

At the inauguration event, Dr. Cleopa Mailu, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health said: “Demand for quality healthcare is increasing.  The GE Training Centre will play a critical role in supporting the capacity development of biomedical engineers, radiologists and technicians, helping to reduce the skills gap, improve job prospects and build a solid national healthcare system.”

The GE Healthcare Skills and Training Institute will initially offer clinical applications and technical training courses for healthcare professionals in Kenya and East Africa; over the longer-term, it will be expanded to offer leadership, biomedical and clinical education courses, working with the Ministry of Health, private healthcare providers and other educational partners.

During the event, deepening its local partnerships to support human capital development and capacity building, GE Healthcare also signed three new partnerships for skills building in Kenya and East Africa with the Kenya Medical Training College and global partners IntraHealth and Management Sciences for Health.

Farid Fezoua, President & CEO, GE Healthcare Africa said: “The new centre will not only help to ensure that Kenya’s healthcare workforce receives critical training to optimize the full features and benefits of country’s newest healthcare equipment, in the future, it will support the development of a pipeline of future biomedical engineers, radiologists and technicians. This commitment to healthcare capacity building will help to reduce the country’s skills gap, improve job prospects and build a solid national healthcare system and private healthcare sector.”

Healthcare Modernization Shows Increased Access to Healthcare

Further, assessment of the impact of Government’s radiology modernization initiative, being executed by GE, has shown positive early trends with increased system efficiency, reduced patient waiting times and increased throughput. Results show:

·         Emphasizing the Ministry’s focus on digital transformation to bring better quality healthcare, an increase in examination volume post implementation from about 1,500 monthly digital exams to over 28,800 monthly digital exams across the first 44 hospitals[1]

·         Improved workflow efficiency has shown a preliminary 14% reduction in average scan time from analogue to digital[2]

·         A +50% improvement in access to radiology services across three pilot hospitals in the first 5 months’ post installation of the new equipment[3]

·         Reliable and continuous radiology services with response and rectification time ensuring operation of the equipment for more than 95% of the time

·         Screening for breast cancer, a leading cancer killer in Kenya, 90% of level 5 hospitals have so far been installed with the latest digital mammography capability, enabling 30% of these facilities to offer in-house mammography exams for the first-time.

“To date, radiology departments at 70 modernized hospitals are delivering services to patients in 42 of the 47 counties. Work is well underway in the remaining 28 hospitals.” Said Dr. Mailu, “While data that assesses the long-term impact of the programme will take some time to be compiled and analysed, the early results are positive.”

In February 2015, the Kenyan Ministry of Health and GE signed a contract in response to Kenya’s Managed Equipment Services plan, which includes a four-pillar solution being provided by GE: an adapted technology approach covering wide scale radiology modernization with e-health capabilities; a sustainable service and maintenance program; a commitment to localized skills development and capacity building and a structured financing solution that is enabling the Ministry to sustainably fund its long-term healthcare transformation.

 

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Will Rwanda’s push for prosperity be powered by the sun?
June 10, 2016 | 0 Comments

With its economy growing fast, Rwanda will need to keep moving forward with green energy, minister says

by Karuma Njoroge*

Rwandan farmers erect a solar-powered pump that will be used to irrigate their fields. TRF/Karuma Njoroge

Rwandan farmers erect a solar-powered pump that will be used to irrigate their fields. TRF/Karuma Njoroge

KIGALI, June 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Rwanda has begun turning to solar power in a big way thanks to economic and political reforms, including laws passed late last year allowing foreign investment in renewable energy.

Kenyan companies such as SunCulture have set up shop in Rwanda’s solar sector – which is expanding fast as more people join the middle class and can afford solar panels.

The east-central African economy is growing at around 7 percent a year, according to the World Bank, just 22 years after genocide killed an estimated 800,000 people, leaving deep psychological scars.

Despite its economic success, Rwanda still has one of the world’s lowest rates of greenhouse gas emissions per capita, according to the climate action plan it submitted in November for the Paris agreement to curb global warming.

But Claver Gatete, Rwanda’s minister of finance and economic planning, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation high economic growth means the country must keep up momentum on its efforts to use more renewable energy.

“(With) the rate of industrialisation the country is experiencing, the good returns may be reversed if new (energy) alternatives are not realised,” he said, noting Rwanda’s reliance on fossil fuels for transport and other commercial activities.

The climate action plan says fossil fuels could account for 46 percent of electricity generation by 2020, up from a third now, on its current path. But to avoid that, the plan commits to building more renewables capacity, including hydro and solar power.

So far, the signs are encouraging. Gatete said the amount of solar power generated in Rwanda has increased by nearly 90 percent since mid-2014, when a major new solar plant came online.

The government-run power station now produces around 100 megawatts (MW), representing 10 percent of the country’s electricity production.

The $22.6 million plant took just a year to complete, and consists of some 28,360 solar panels sitting in neat rows on the green hills overlooking Lake Mugesera, 60 km east of the capital, Kigali.

The computer-controlled photovoltaic panels, each 1.9 square metres, tilt to track the sun, improving efficiency by 20 percent compared to stationary panels.

The power station’s panels were manufactured in China, while its inverters and transformers were made in Germany. Its construction created 350 local jobs, and the plant has boosted Rwanda’s electricity generation capacity by 6 percent, powering more than 15,000 homes.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, Rwanda has the potential to generate over 2 million MW of solar power, but U.N. figures show the country is still only producing around 134 MW.

ACCESS TO ENERGY

Minister Gatete said the recent rise in solar energy was partly influenced by the National Strategy for Climate Change and Low Carbon Development, which was launched in 2011 and runs until 2020.

“Use of renewable (energy)… for important uses such as electricity, cooking, and irrigation has increased countrywide,” he said. Ten thousand families are now harnessing solar power, he added.

Ignite Power Ltd is one Rwandan solar company that has been working with the government to achieve a goal of giving 70 percent of the population access to electricity by 2018, up from just 12 percent now.

The business aims to invest $50 million in off-grid systems to reach 250,000 households that lack access to power, around a tenth of those without.

“They can afford to pay for power but cannot access it,” said company director Angela Homisi.

Rwanda’s action plan submitted for the U.N. climate deal includes a pledge to establish up to 100 solar mini-grids in rural communities with the aim of helping meet daily power needs and stimulating local business activities.

POO POWER TO IRRIGATION

Another factor behind rising renewable energy use is government grants for farmers and other business people, Gatete said.

Eight grants have been handed out in the past two years, with farmers receiving support ranging from 2,000 euros ($2,263) to 10,000 euros ($11,317) for renewable energy projects.

In February 2015, Kazengwa Mikiira, 45, built a facility on his 12-acre farm in Huye in southern Rwanda that uses cow dung and human waste to produce electric power, which he supplies to his neighbours.

Another farmer, Franco Mulanda, from Musanze in the north, uses solar energy to power irrigation pumps, as well as for electricity, and finds it much cheaper, saving as much as 40 percent on related costs.

“I can use the money I save for school tuition for my two children,” the 34-year-old told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Solar is affordable.”

In February, the government received funding of 460 million euros ($520.6 million) from the European Union to bolster its national climate change strategy and to back innovative business ideas that reduce the negative impacts of global warming.

The money is also intended to pay for efforts to prevent and manage weather-linked disasters, such as floods, and will be renewed after 2020 if all goes well, Gatete said.

*Newstrust/Writers

 

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Africa: Rwanda Tops Africa in Prosperity Index
June 3, 2016 | 0 Comments

Rwanda has been listed as the most improved country in the 2016 Africa Prosperity report by a UK-based think tank, Legatum Institute.

Photo: The New Times Rwanda's capital city Kigali (file photo).

Photo: The New Times
Rwanda’s capital city Kigali (file photo).

The report, released on Wednesday, shows that Rwanda has continued to register progress in its growth trajectory across various indexes.

The report aims at highlighting nations’ progress beyond economic aspects by taking into account indicators such as healthcare, education, governance, among others.

In the 2016 report, Rwanda’s improvement was facilitated by its performance in the eight indicators considered.

Rwanda was among the top performers on the continent; indicators such as economic progress, governance and healthcare featuring at positions fourth, third and sixth, respectively.

In other indicators, including education, entrepreneurship, security and social capital, Rwanda featured in the middle performing countries beating over 36 countries in each category.

Overall, Rwanda was ranked as the most prosperous country in the East African region and the 8th on the continent.

South Africa, Botswana and Morocco took the first, second and third positions on the continent, respectively.

The report’s authors put Rwanda in the category of ‘Low income over delivery,’ which constitute countries with little or no mineral resources but effective in delivery.

The countries in the category were described by the authors as having government effectiveness, rule of law, regulation that helps private sector development, civil liberties and freedom of choice as well as economic diversity.

“Rwanda is perhaps the best known reform story from the continent, taking itself from a broken post-Genocide nation, to Africa’s 8th most prosperous county,” the report reads in part.

Breaking down the drivers of the progress and prosperity, the report highlights aspects such as institutional reform, decentralisation and business sector reforms.

“Government drove systematic institutional reform, ensuring that the state was decentralised, the business sector reformed, and institutions strengthened. Rwanda ranks 3rd for Governance in Africa, and has the biggest prosperity surplus both overall and in Governance. Its transformation speaks to the enduring importance of good governance and in particular, rule of law, effective government, and regulation as a means of unlocking prosperity growth,” the report added.

 It notes that prosperity can still be delivered as long as the potential for governance reform remains.

“If governance is a prerequisite for the serious delivery of prosperity, then the budgetary constraints of lower growth driving it to prominence could prove promising for long-term prosperity across the continent,” the reports says.

Commenting on the report, Lord Malloch-Brown, the former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, said Rwanda had fared better than wealthier countries by doing much with little.

“Rwanda has done incredibly well in the report. During my time at UNDP I was astonished by the rate at which Rwanda came back on indicators like health care and education and overtook numbers of the period before the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. In a way, it is no surprise that Rwanda’s performance in the prosperity index compare to wealthier countries,” he said.

The Legatum Institute is an international think tank and educational charity focused on promoting prosperity.

 *Source All Africa
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African Development Bank says continent far from debt crisis
May 31, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Matthew Hill*

Buildings and roads sit on the coast in this aerial view of Ikoyi in Lagos island, a residential area in Lagos, Nigeria, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer which derives 90 percent of export earnings from the commodity, is struggling to cope with an almost 60 percent plunge in Brent crude prices since June 2014 to below $45 a barrel. Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

Buildings and roads sit on the coast in this aerial view of Ikoyi in Lagos island, a residential area in Lagos, Nigeria, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer which derives 90 percent of export earnings from the commodity, is struggling to cope with an almost 60 percent plunge in Brent crude prices since June 2014 to below $45 a barrel. Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

Africa is a long way from facing a debt crisis even as commercial lending to the continent soars and Mozambique became the first regional country to miss a payment on a dollar loan this year, according to a senior official at the African Development Bank.

Debt levels across the continent’s 54 countries average 17 percent to 18 percent of GDP, which is low, Abebe Shimeles, acting director in the AfDB’s development research department, said Thursday in an interview at the lender’s annual meetings in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.

“In terms of the continent we are not even close, forget about crisis, we are not even close to a debt burden, especially the external debt,” said Shimeles. “It’s not systemic now. It’s not that all African countries are exposed to a debt crisis. The bad news is sometimes heard faster than the good news.”

Costly Repayments

Countries on the continent raised $26 billion in Eurobonds from 2006 to 2014 and a further $12 billion last year, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said on May 24 when he officially opened the meetings, warning a debt crisis must be avoided. While foreign-currency debt has soared, currencies on the continent have weakened, making repayments more costly as economic growth slows.

“Some countries have also experienced a spike in their debt levels that may be worrying in particular cases, unless they take measures to contain it,” Shimeles said. “The AfDB and other multilaterals can learn from previous mistakes and really step in with a solution to manage the debt, restructure it and also undertake some necessary reforms before we reach a level of crisis.”

Dollar debt sold by sub-Saharan African nations have returned 6.3 percent this year, compared with the 7.1 percent average return for emerging markets. Average yields have climbed to 7.63 percent, compared with 5.8 percent a year ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Economic Expansion

Adesina

Adesina

The bank would consider assisting countries that ask for it, and could work with other lenders including the International Monetary Fund, he said. Nigeria is already in talks with the AfDB for a $1 billion facility.

Growth on the continent will probably exceed the 4.5 percent the AfDB forecast for 2017 in a report published this week, Shimeles said. Domestic demand in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Sudan will lead to “much higher” economic expansion, he said.

“I believe that Nigeria has now taken the right steps in terms of the macro-economy,” he said.

Africa’s biggest economy this month cut fuel subsidies and signaled a more flexible exchange rate policy for the naira, which has been pegged to the dollar for 15 months.

“We are optimistic,” said Shimeles. “Still, this doesn’t mean we deny the headwinds. They are strong but I think the economies are resilient.”

*Source Bloomberg

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Angelle Kwemo Joins Washington Media Group as International Practice Grows
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
African "Olivia Pope", Angelle Kwemo is set for another exciting challenge

African “Olivia Pope”, Angelle Kwemo is set for another exciting challenge

Washington Media Group (WMG) has  announced the appointment of Angelle B. Kwemo as Director of the company’s growing Africa practice.

Ms. Kwemo worked for nearly a decade on Capitol Hill for two members of Congress and was the Founder and President of the Congressional African Staff Association. She went on to create Believe in Africa, aimed at empowering women and youth while engaging the private sector; and the AstrategiK Group, providing international trade and advisory services to corporations and government officials across Europe and Africa.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Washington Media Group team, and to help the firm continue to expand its international client work,” said Ms. Kwemo. “Washington Media Group’s world-class communications and creative services are relied upon by clients across Washington and the country, and the word is getting out around the world as well. I’m excited to be joining the WMG team,” Ms Kwemo said.

WMG, which began more than 10 years ago as a crisis communications firm, has since grown into a full-service communications and creative services firm serving clients around the world.

“This is an exciting time for WMG as we continue to grow at home and abroad by offering proven strategies and services,” said WMG CEO and President Gregory L. Vistica. “With her deep knowledge of Africa, Angell will be a central part of our efforts throughout the continent in representing governments, corporations, non-profits and high-net worth individuals. I’m thrilled that she is joining our growing team.”

Ms. Kwemo began her career in France, at the Bestaux Law Firm. In her native Cameroon, she served as Chief of the Maritime Claims and Disputes Department, and later as General Counsel for Bollore Technology Group and Geodis Overseas. Named one of the “World’s Most Influential Africans in the Diaspora” by Paris-based Africa 24 Magazine, she earned an International Business Transactions and Human Rights Law degree from Washington College of Law at American University, in Washington, D.C.

About WMG

WMG is a full-services communications firm that has saved its clients tens of millions of dollars. With offices in China, Qatar and Africa, we’ve successfully solved high-profile crises, protected and repaired corporate and executive reputations, improved brand value and growth, and enhanced public recognition for our clients in the U.S. and overseas.

 

 

 

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New Book Highlights “The Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders”
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Dr. Roland Holou*

bookMany books have been written about people of African descent, but so far no single volume has highlighted the lives, visions, achievements, policies, and strategies of exceptional contemporary African Diaspora leaders across the globe. To fill the gap, an International Selection Committee composed of some of the top African diaspora Leaders in the Caribbean, Europe, North America, South America, and West Africa was created to nominate and vet recipients of “The Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders Honor.” For the first edition of this book, 30 leaders were featured in detail and out of the 50 chapters of this 336 page book, one was devoted to each. Others chapters were devoted to one hundred other nominees whose contribution warranted their inclusion in this book.

The stories of these Leaders showcase the diversity, complexity, and richness of the ongoing global African Diaspora engagement efforts. Their experiences of struggle, failure, growth and success will motivate current and future generations of people of African descent to take initiative, provide guidance to those interested in Africa’s development, and promote interest in the growing field of diaspora engagement. The featured leaders are known for their long-lasting achievements. Their bold actions contributed to important historical movements that significantly shaped and transformed the lives and history of people of African descent and removed major roadblocks preventing the prosperity of Africa and its Diaspora. They have brought about enormous and rare progress that would have been impossible without their leadership, including economic and political development of Africa and its Diaspora. To get your copy of the book, please visit www.AfricanDiasporaLeaders.com/order

Dr. Roland Holou

Dr. Roland Holou

Some of the initiatives featured in the book include the African Union African Diaspora Sixth Region Initiative, Healthcare Reform in Africa, Pan-Africanism, Global Anti-Racism Initiatives, International Decade for People of African Descent, Implementation of the UN Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; the Commission on Reparations, the Hebrew Israelites, the Initiatives of the Central American Black Organization; the World Diaspora Fund For Development; the Projects of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century; the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe, the Pan-African Holiday Kwanzaa; the Educational Initiatives of Steve Biko Cultural Institute in Brazil, the Initiatives of DiasporaEngager concerning the Map of the Diaspora and their Stakeholders, the Diaspora Directory and the Global Diaspora Social Media Platform; the Initiatives of the African Diaspora in Australia and Asia Pacific; the AU Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus Organization in the USA; the “Taubira Law” Voted by the French Republic to Recognize that the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean are a Crime Against Humanity; The Global Movement for Reparatory Justice; the Ratification of the Article 3q of the AU Constitutive Act which “invites and encourages the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of Africa; the Economic Development for Black Empowerment in America and Europe; the African Diaspora Contribution to Democracy and Development in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America; the Initiatives of the Brazilian Association of Black Researchers; the Oprah Effect; the Promotion of the Black Population in Brazil; the Palmares Cultural Foundation in Brazil; the Celebrations of Zumbi dos Palmares in Brazil; the Caribbean Community [CARICOM] Commission on Reparation and Social Justice; the Initiatives of famous Prophet Shepherd Bushiri (Major1, the World’s Sharpest Major Prophet), and many initiatives in the USA, etc.

Some of the struggles still faced by the African Diaspora and discussed in the book relate to: Afrophobia, civil rights, denial of justice and devaluation of Black lives, education with curricula full of “lies” regarding history and history of scientific discoveries, healthcare problems, high rates of unemployment and imprisonment, housing problems, institutional racism and slavery, lack of access to good education and justice, media which persistently diffuse open racist stereotypes, multiple forms of discrimination, police violence, political and economic marginalization and stigmatization, poverty, racial discrimination, vulnerability to violence, xenophobia and related intolerance and discrimination. The book also addressed some of the strategical mistakes and divisions among the Continental African Diaspora and the Historical African Diaspora.

 

If you are interested in learning the secrets, agendas, strategies and potential of these modern leaders, then this is the book for you. Since influence can at times have negative effects, this book also addresses the destructive actions of certain leaders that are pulling down both Africa and its people. To learn more about the recipients, please visit www.AfricanDiasporaLeaders.com/recipient. Join the International Diaspora Engagement Social Media Platform today by creating a free account .

About the Author

Dr. Roland Holou is a scientist, businessman, and an international consultant in Agriculture/Agribusiness, Biotechnology, Diaspora Engagement, and Africa Development. He is the Founder and CEO of DiasporaEngager, www.DiasporaEngager.com and the architect of the map of Diaspora and their stakeholders . To learn more about him and contact him www.RolandHolou.com.

 

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Why it doesn’t matter who the next chair of the African Union Commission is
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

Unless there are meaningful changes to the AU structure, the Chair of the Commission will remain a largely irrelevant bureaucrat, whoever it is.

 

Outgoing AUC chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, mingles with AU heads of state in 2013. Credit: GCIS.

Outgoing AUC chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, mingles with AU heads of state in 2013. Credit: GCIS.

When Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was appointed as the new Chair of the African Union Commission (AUC) in 2012, expectations were sky high. The former South African minister was widely respected, and optimists pinned their hopes on the experienced technocrat revolutionising the affairs of the dysfunctional AUC.

4 years later and Dlamini-Zuma’s first term is now coming to an end. She will not be running for a second term and the process to find a replacement is underway, with the decision soon to be made at the African Union (AU) Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, from 10-18th June.

As ever, there are demands that the very best candidate for the job is found. However, once again, it doesn’t actually matter. It ought to. But as long as the current structure of the AU remains in place, it will make little difference who the next chair is. Dlamini-Zuma wasn’t able to transform the AU and neither will her predecessor, not unless significant changes to the organisation are made and the chair’s inbuilt powerlessness is remedied.

Under assembly

Unlike the European Union, which has which its own binding rule-making institutions such as the Parliament and Commission, the AU is essentially an intergovernmental body. This means that the real decision-making powers of the organisation are exercised by member states, and it is the AU Assembly − composed of heads of state and government − that is the primary authority.

Few or no powers are transferred to the AU Commission to exercise any real authority beyond drafting policies. It has no institutional authority to implement the organisation’s directives or sanction member states that have failed to comply with organisational rules.

Even when it comes to the make-up of the Commission, it is the AU Assembly that picks the deputy chair and eight commissioners that complete the secretariat. These officials’ roles are to support the Chair, yet the Chair is not permitted to nominate or assign portfolios to them. This remains a function of the Assembly, and the Chair has no official power to reassign, reshuffle, or fire any of the commissioners.

There is also a constraining lack of clarity regarding the relationship between the AU Chairperson (who is appointed for a one-year term from amongst serving heads of state or government) and the AUC Chair. In an illustrative debacle in 2005, for example, then AUC Chair Alpha Omar Konaré appointed an envoy to mediate in the crisis in Togo. However, Olusegun Obasanjo, the AU Chairperson at the time, soon declared the appointment void, seeing it as an act of insubordination.

This incident re-emphasised the extent to which the AUC Chair is subordinate to the Assembly and has to seek prior consent before exercising even some of the position’s official functions.

When Dlamini-Zuma was appointed, there was hope she would crack the whip and reform the ineffective AU Commission. But any optimism was illusory, and as she departs there has still been no meaningful change in the position.

Empowering changes

If the next AUC Chair is to be a success therefore, it will require much more than just finding a competent and effective technocrat to take the outgoing leader’s seat. It will require plenty of innovative thinking regarding the position itself and how it can be strengthened. There are several changes that could significantly bolster the role.

In the matter of appointing and assigning Commissioners, for instance, the Chair could be required to make recommendations regarding the nominations of these important officials. He or she could then be granted the prerogative of assigning portfolios and potentially reshuffling the Commission.

The Chair could also be awarded the power to enter into strategic agreements with member states that are willing and able to implement AU policies. He or she might also be given the authority to intervene or prescribe remedial measures in instances of non-compliance or when additional assistance is needed by member states.

In the context of implementing Agenda 2063, for instance, there could be a system whereby member states could sign a declaration agreeing to submit a periodic report to the AUC, allow the Commission to be part of implementation processes, and give the Chair the authority to make binding recommendations on addressing gaps.

Regarding regional matters, the Chair (or an appointed envoy) could also be given the authority to be involved in national processes that have a direct relation to regional integration matters. For example, the AU could adopt a policy that endows the AUC to be part of national committees responsible for national development plans and for it to be able to monitor processes that are linked to matters relating to AU plans such as harmonisation of immigration, trade, youth empowerment and gender representation.

Rather than just focusing on the individual who will take over from Dlamini-Zuma next month, it is crucial that the structural impotence of the AUC Chair itself is addressed if whoever comes next is to able to assert any kind of meaningful authority. Unless there are serious changes the status quo, even the best successor imaginable will remain a largely irrelevant to Africa’s regional integration.

*African Arguments.Babatunde Fagbayibo is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of South Africa in Pretoria

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Here are the books in the third annual African Politics Summer Reading Spectacular
May 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Kim Yi Dionne and Laura Seay*

Just a few of the books to be featured in this summer’s series. (Kim Yi Dionne/The Monkey Cage)

Just a few of the books to be featured in this summer’s series. (Kim Yi Dionne/The Monkey Cage)

Continuing the tradition we started two years ago, this summer will see the third installment of the annual African Politics Summer Reading Spectacular. Over the course of the summer, we will feature posts about newly published books in African politics — broadly defined. Not all of the books are written by political scientists – in fact, No. 10 is a work of fiction translated from Italian.

The common thread of these books is that they have something to do with important questions in African politics, such as women’s rights, election violence and the resource curse, to name a few. To try to expand our horizons a bit this year, we’ve included two books that were translations of texts previously published in another language.

We’ll have guest posts by the authors, reviews by us, and author Q&As. This is where you come in — if you have questions for the authors, please ask them in the comments section below or on Twitter using the hashtag #APSRS16.

We’ll be posting about these books on Fridays this summer, starting next week and following the tentative schedule below (subject to change). Please join us by reading along, asking questions of the authors and letting us know what you thought about each book.

  1. June 3 – We start off the series with a bonus book week (why read one book on violence and resistance in Rwanda when you can read two?!?): “Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship,” by Anjan Sundaram and “From War to Genocide: Criminal Politics in Rwanda, 1990-1994,” by André Guichaoua and translated by Don Webster
  2. June 10 – “The Paradox of Traditional Leaders in Democratic Africa,” by Kate Baldwin
  3. June 17 – “Making Sense of the Central African Republic,” edited by Tatiana Carayannis and Louisa Lombard
  4. June 24 – “Bargaining for Women’s Rights: Activism in an Aspiring Muslim Democracy,” by Alice Kang
  5. July 1 – “The US Military in Africa: Enhancing Security and Development?,” edited by Jessica Piombo
  6. July 8 – “To Live Freely in This World: Sex Worker Activism in Africa,” by Chi Adanna Mgbako
  7. July 15 – “Women and Power in Postconflict Africa,” by Aili Tripp
  8. July 22 – Bonus book week features a twin bundle of books on politics and health in Africa: “Preaching Prevention: Born-Again Christianity and the Moral Politics of AIDS in Uganda,” by Lydia Boyd and “The Experiment Must Continue: Medical Research and Ethics in East Africa, 1940–2014,” by Melissa Graboyes
  9. July 29 – “Ken Saro Wiwa,” by Roy Doron and Toyin Falola
  10. August 5 – “Queen of Flowers and Pearls,” by Gabriella Ghermandi and translated by Giovanna Bellesia-Contuzzi and Victoria Offredi Poletto
  11. August 12 – “Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: Causes and Consequences,” by Stephanie Burchard
  12. August 19 – “Oil Wealth and Insurgency in Nigeria,” by Omolade Adunbi

*Source Washington Post . Kim Yi Dionne is Five College Assistant Professor of Government at Smith College. She studies identity, public opinion, political behavior, and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries.Follow @dadakim

Laura Seay is an Assistant Professor of Government at Colby College. She studies African politics, conflict, and development, with a focus on central Africa. She has also written for Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Guernica, and Al Jazeera English.Follow @texasinafrica
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Africa: Resolved to Address African Problems Using African Solutions
May 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

Olabisi Dare, Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Displaced Persons Division at the AU Commission.

Olabisi Dare, Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Displaced Persons Division at the AU Commission.

Istanbul — The African Union (AU) representing 54 countries and home to 1,2 billion inhabitants, will be in Istanbul to participate in the May 23-24, 2016, first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) with two key demands – that the international humanitarian system be redefined, and a strong, firm own commitment to itself, to the continent and its people, anchoring on the primacy of the states.

In an interview with IPS on the eve of the WHS, the Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Displaced Persons Division at the AU Commission, Olabisi Dare said “All the key concerns that the AU will be raising at the World Humanitarian Summit is that there is a need for the redefinition of the international humanitarian system; this redefinition should take the form of a reconfiguration of the system.”

The Nigerian career diplomat and international civil servant with over 27 years international field and desk experience in Asia, Africa, Europe and America, added that the requested redefinition “should take the form of a reconfiguration of the system, it being understood that the existing system which is predicated on the UN Resolution 46 182 is to say the least not being faithfully implemented.”

It is therefore in this context that the African Union is going to Istanbul with its own commitments to itself, that is its own commitment to the continent and its people and one of the key things of this commitment is to anchor on the primacy of the states itself, “the State has the primary responsibility to its own people to satisfy their needs and to take care of their vulnerabilities,” said Olabisi.

“We look at these in several forms:

The African Union feels the State has to play the primary role of coordinating any and all humanitarian action that may take place within its territory; the States have in their efforts to alleviate the needs of its people; the States have also to maintain humanitarian space and have a responsibility to guarantee the safety of both the humanitarian workers and humanitarian infrastructure.

We note that the State has the capability and capacity in key areas like use of military assets in assisting humanitarian action-a key example is the use of military forces in Liberia and other acted countries the military was deployed to serve as the first line of defense to combat the spread of the disease.

That said, Olabisi remarked “We can’t over-emphasise the role of the State in ensuring that humanitarian action and relief is dispensed in an effective manner and we see that this in itself will effect humanitarian action more readily on the continent.”

Asked what are the African needed solutions that the AUC brings to the WHS, Olabisi, who was also senior Political/Humanitarian Affairs Officer at the African Union Mission in Liberia, with extensive experience in various aspects peace-building in a post conflict environment, including serving on the Technical Support Team to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, reaffirmed “The African Union will make proposals in terms of what it considers as the reconfiguration of the International Humanitarian systems.”

“Part of the solution is that there is a need for governments to play the primary role and a greater coordination role in order to fulfill the attributes of state in terms of its predictive and responsive nature and other attributes and this in itself is as part of what Africa has committed to do and if this find its way to the Secretary General’s report as part of the recommendation, this would be very good.”

Olabisi, who was involved in the return and rehabilitation programme of over 300,000 Liberian refugees from across the West Africa sub-region, added “We are also going to call for the re-engineering of resolution 46182 Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations to reflect Africa’s views, to reflect the need to elevate the role of the state primarily to be to deliver to its people.”

The Resolution 46182 that Olabisi refers to, was adopted in 1991, setting as “Guiding Principles” that humanitarian assistance is of cardinal importance for the victims of natural disasters and other emergencies and must be provided in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality.

Guiding Principle 3 clearly states, “The sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be fully respected in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. In this context, humanitarian assistance should be provided with the consent of the affected country and in principle on the basis of an appeal by the affected country.”

 “Each State has the responsibility first and foremost to take care of the victims of natural disasters and other emergencies occurring on its territory. Hence, the affected State has the primary role in the initiation, organization, coordination, and implementation of humanitarian assistance within its territory,” states also the Guiding Principle 4.

And Guiding Principle 9 stresses, “There is a clear relationship between emergency, rehabilitation and development. In order to ensure a smooth transition from relief to rehabilitation and development, emergency assistance should be provided in ways that will be supportive of recovery and long-term development. Thus, emergency measures should be seen as a step towards long-term development.”

For its part, Guiding Principle 10 stresses, “Economic growth and sustainable development are essential for prevention of and preparedness against natural disasters and other emergencies. Many emergencies reflect the underlying crisis in development facing developing countries.

“Humanitarian assistance should therefore be accompanied by a renewal of commitment to economic growth and sustainable development of developing countries,” it adds. “In this context, adequate resources must be made available to address their development problems.”

“Contributions for humanitarian assistance should be provided in a way which is not to the detriment of resources made available for international cooperation for development,” says Guiding Principle 11.

Obalisi then recalled “When you look at the Common African Position (CAP) [on the post 2015 development agenda], you find that the first pillar speaks to the privacy of the state; all the other 9 pillar speak the same in one form or another.”

Africa will be calling on itself to be able to deliver more on resources and allocate more resources to humanitarian action, he added. “This is because it is mindful of the fact that the resource portals are dwindling from the north.”

Asked what are the outcomes that Africa would most expect from the WHS, Olabisi said that Africa expects the guarantee that international humanitarian system will be reconfigured to conform with new demands and address the issues faced by the humanitarian system at the moment – one of the main outcome the Summit will deliver.

“Africa is making these commitments to itself-due to the non-binding nature of the summit. The commitments Africa has made go beyond the WHS whether the summit is binding or not it will not affect what Africa is committed to, in its own self-interest and this is one of the key recommendations we will be taking to WHS.”

He stressed that Africa’s commitments are not to the WHS but the Summit “gives us an opportunity to discuss a paradigm shift in terms of the way we do things in the humanitarian field in Africa and also to see that we can positively add to the mitigation and alleviation of the sufferings of our people when disasters and displacements occur.”

“One of the key things to note is that Africa will go ahead with its own commitments, “our resolve to come up with something that is workable, pragmatic, and something that will make us see ourselves in a light that puts us in a position to help ourselves despite the grand bargain on Africa being shut out of the whole system,” Olabisi emphasised.

“Africa however is resolved to begin addressing its own problems using African solutions to African problems.”

*Source IPS/Allafrica

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Africa is becoming a testbed for commercial drone services
May 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

by *

zipline-deliveryUPS recently entered into a partnership withZipline, a medical drone delivery startup, to begin aerial transport of healthcare supplies in Rwanda. Included in the deal is Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, a Gates Foundation supported non-profit specializing in immunizations.

Zipline’s first distribution of medical supply packages will start in July—meaning a startup will begin drone delivery in Africa beforeunmanned Amazon vehicles drop any orders at doorsteps in the U.S.

Though the UPS, Zipline, Gavi arrangement may sound pretty social venture, there are definitely commercial tech underpinnings.

Zipline is a California based for-profit venture backed by $19 million in venture capital. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, and Paul Willard–a former aerodynamics engineer now atSubtraction Capital.

UPS will provide an $800,000 grant to Gavi through the UPS Foundation, but the deal will also bring the global delivery giant’s logistics expertise.

“The focus is on the humanitarian aspect, but UPS is always looking to learn from engagements like this,” UPS spokesperson Glenn Zaccara told TechCrunch. “We’ll also bring…a combination of expertise in logistics, supply chain, and cold chain management,” he added, noting UPS proper, not just its Foundation, will be involved in the partnership.

Africa is increasingly becoming a testbed for commercial drone services and delivery. Zipline co-founder Keller Rinaudo, saw the leapfrog potential of medical delivery by drone after seeing some existing leapfrog innovation reach its limit.

zipline-final-assemblyWhile on a research trip to Tanzania he reviewed a cell phone based alert system for patients at clinics in dire need of specific medical supplies. “The digital database and mobile phones allowed people to know when someone needed help, but the other half of the system—medical supplies and transport infrastructure to get them there—was missing,” said Rinaudo.

He began working with Zipline co-founders Will Hetzler (a former Harvard classmate) and robotics specialist Keenan Wyrobek on specialized drones and logistics structures for healthcare related delivery in Africa.

They started pooling investment, engineered their own Zipline specialized drones, and began flight testing at a facility just outside San Francisco.

Rinaudo underscores Zipline’s mission to “deliver the products that can save lives” but also stresses it is a business. “We’re selling a service to governments and public health organizations to provide a higher level of access to healthcare to millions living in rural and remote areas,” Rinaudo said.

He confirmed the company has started to book revenue, though declined to say how much. Rinaudo said Zipline plans to expand outside Rwanda and estimated the value of urgent health logistics services in Africa is north of $1 billion.

Launching first in Rwanda has much to do with the Rwandan government’s commitment toward developing ICT infrastructure and commercial drone use, in particular.

In late 2015, the government announced plans to launch one of the world’s first drone portsand has been developing a regulatory framework for commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) through the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority.

This mirrors South Africa’s recent passage of commercial drone legislation (covered here at TechCrunch), which regulates the sector under the country’s Civil Aviation Authority and created special drone Commercial Operating Licenses.

These frameworks counter a misperception that the lure to drone testing in Africa stems from a complete lack of regulation.

“It’s not the case at all,” said Rinaudo. “People think the attraction to testing drones in Africa is because there are no laws. Places like Rwanda are not held back by old models, like the U.S.’s ancient air traffic control system. They shave simpler airspaces, smaller and more innovative governments, and can actually implement modern regulator practices faster.”

This environment has brought a surge in funding and testing for current and planned drone activity across the continent.

zipline-zip-outboundIn South Africa, Rocketmine expects to book $1 million in revenue in 2016 for its “aerial data solutions” services in mining, agriculture, forestry, and civil engineering. Swiss led enterprise Flying Donkey is working on unmanned, robotic, flying vehicles to deliver heavy cargo across Africa.

Another endeavor, Afrotech, is directing the Red Line project to launch open source cargo drones and drone routes. And Bulgarian company Dronamics (backed by SpeedInvest) is in dialogue with three African governments to begin commercial UAV services in 2017, a company source told TechCrunch confidentially.

When the Zipline, UPS, and Gavi partnership moves from testing to full operation in Rwanda in late July, CEO Keller Rinaudo believes it will mark a milestone for Africa and the drone industry. “When we launch it will be the world’s first drone delivery operating at a national scale in the world.”

*Source TechCrunch

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Has Barack Obama Disappointed Africans?
May 19, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY *

President Obama speaking at a YALI event in 2015.

President Obama speaking at a YALI event in 2015.

Under the terms of the 20th Amendment, U.S. President Barack Obama’s second term as president of the most powerful country in the world ends at noon on January 20, 2017. By this time, one of the main challengers to the “throne” (Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump) will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. But the question on the mind of several observers, particularly in Africa, is whether Obama’s presidency as “son of the soil” yielded any fruit for Africans?

It is instructive to note that the whole of Africa was on the edge in 2008, when Obama won the nomination of the Democratic Party. I remember abandoning classes to watch his speeches and campaigns live on DSTV. At the time, his story was a great motivation for a lot of us African youth that whatever you set your mind on, if you continue working consistently at it, you can achieve it.

Not since the times of the legendary Socrates,Cicero, or Abraham Lincoln had the world seen a more charismatic, powerful speaker, and intelligent leader. For me, there’s no one that can be compared with President Obama in local or international politics. And with the fact that he is a Kenyan biologically, I thought, like many others, that Africa will develop dramatically this time round.

But my expectation was dashed.

During his first term in office, Obama’s engagement with Africa was almost zero. To be fair to him, the whole world was undergoing economic depression when he became the president so he concentrated more on strengthening America’s economy and creating jobs. The stimulus package and other policies promoted were pointers to this fact. Although he traveled to some countries in Africa, it was all talk and less action. But during his second term in office, he was able to muster the courage to get some things done.

Some of the accomplishments President Obama achieved, according to the White House, included the strengthening of democratic institutions in Cote d’ Ivoire, Kenya, Sudan, and more. The administration also supported regional efforts to help countries affected by terrorist groups; launched the Feed the Future Initiative to address root causes of hunger and poverty; responded to humanitarian crises and disasters; promoted trade and investment; launched the Global Climate Change Initiative; Power Africa Initiative; Global Health Initiative; strengthened theAfrican Growth and Opportunity Act; introduced new U.S. initiatives to boost trade and investment opportunities for the least developed countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, among others.

The achievement I found very unique, distinguished, and noble is the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Started in 2010, the program seeks to provide tools to support leadership development, promote entrepreneurship, and connect young leaders with one another and the United States.

Since the program started, more than 2,000 young Africans have been trained in these areas. I have argued in other platforms that until the youths in Africa are trained and prepared to take over the reins of government in the next generation, Africa’s future looks not only bleak but also unsustainable.

President Obama Greets Residents of Gorée Island. (Photo credit: whitehouse.gov)

President Obama Greets Residents of Gorée Island. (Photo credit: whitehouse.gov)

This is because youths all over Africa are more interested in their survival only, so they continue to struggle for life. They are far removed from their country’s governance, welfare, or well-being due to the socio-political and economic conditions in several countries on the continent. Thus, if the youth get into leadership unprepared, then Africa is done for.

Unfortunately, considering the large population of youth throughout Africa, which is the largest in the world, the number of youth trained so far in the program is negligible.

It has been said that Obama’s African legacy cannot be compared with that of his predecessor or even former President Bill Clinton who remains a popular figure in Africa. Obama’s last trip to Africa (possibly his last) is nothing compared to the warm welcome received by George W. Bush on his final trip to Africa.

George Bush was treated like a hero. Apart from fighting terrorism across the African region, he fought the HIV/AIDS scourge on the continent like no one, reauthorized the African Growth and Opportunity Act as well as designed the Millennium Challenge Corp. to fight poverty on the continent. As argued by Hussein Hassen in his article “Washington’s Engagement with the Continent Continues To Prioritize Security Over Human Rights and Economic Partnership,” Obama’s two main pet projects (Power Africa and YALI) do not measure up to his predecessor’s bold initiatives. During Obama’s tenure, South Sudan, Libya, and the Central African Republic have become failed states.

What is noticeable is that Obama’s popularity in Africa has diminished. Who talks about him these days?

Still, African leaders as well as her citizens need to realize that no power or force in the world can aid them to development until they themselves show their determination to do so.

Senator Obama, in 2006, visiting his Kenyan family. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Senator Obama, in 2006, visiting his Kenyan family. (Photo credit: Reuters)

African leaders are always looking for some foreign aid, a foreign intervention, or a foreign development model, but the sincerity of the most altruistic foreign leader can never spur any country to development until African leaders themselves drive such vision with ruthless determination.

Whatever Barack Obama has done or not done is left for historians to reconstruct. It is unfair to say he does not cherish Africa or his roots because he does. But it is also unfair to say he helped Africa more than any U.S. president in recent history.

I wish him a wonderful retirement from office in advance.

*Source F2AF

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BMCE Bank of Africa closes registration for the 2016 African Entrepreneurship Award and prepares to announce the candidates for its second round
May 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

image001 (10)8800 entrepreneurs from 105 countries registered with 3900 business ideas

The Group BMCE Bank of Africa announces the closing of Round 1 of the second edition of the African Entrepreneurship Award . The AEA is dedicated to inspire talented African entrepreneurs, or originating from Africa, by funding businesses using technologies that transcend borders to create jobs and improve lives.

Round 1 opened in mid-February and closed May 6th 2016, attracting about 8800 entrepreneurs from 105 countries submitting 3900 business ideas, that is an increase of +33% in applications volume compared to the Award’s first edition in 2015. From now until May 31st, 130 Regional African mentors are mentoring each business idea to decide who continues to Round 2 “Most Likely to Succeed Across Africa” in each category: Education, Environment and Uncharted Domains. Entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries plus 51 countries in the diaspora competed in Round 1 for “Most Needed In My Region”.

Round 1 winners will be announced on May 31st for the opening of Round 2, lasting from May 31st to July 31st 2016. During Round 2, entrepreneurs will benefit from the Pan-African mentors’ expertise to improve their business’ ability to meet customer needs and compete effectively across Africa. Following this second round, the best ideas will qualify for the third round of the AEA competition, where Global Mentors from the three continents will mentor African entrepreneurs to improve their businesses and rank “The Most Significant and Sustainable Businesses” for Africa.

Initiated in November 2014 by the Chairman of the Group BMCE Bank of Africa, Mr. Othman Benjelloun, the African Entrepreneurship Award illustrates the commitment of this group to inspire entrepreneurship across all of Africa. Each year, this initiative funds 1 million USD for the best African entrepreneurs, thus supporting their efforts to create jobs and improve lives for every African region. In 2015, the 1 million USD Award was shared among 10 winners from five economic zones across Africa.

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AGAINST ALL ODDS : HOW TO STAY ON TOP OF THE GAME-Angelle Kwemo shares tips in new book
May 17, 2016 | 0 Comments
Angelle Kwemo

Angelle Kwemo

International Business Strategist, Attorney and Author, Angelle B. Kwemo shares her journey while outlining the steps anyone can take to achieve ultimate success in every area of their lives.

 

AGAINST ALL ODDS

HOW TO STAY ON TOP OF THE GAME

By Angelle B. Kwemo

On Sale NOW

 “You Must Act As If It Is Impossible To Fail” ~ Ashanti

 The Oracle Group International is thrilled to announce the publication of AGAINST ALL ODDS: How to Stay On Top of The Game (Paperback; On Sale Now; $14.99; ISBN: 9781483441566) by award winning international business, political consultant and entrepreneur Angelle Kwemo, CEO of Astrategik Group and Founder of Believe in Africa. A lifetime in the making, Angelle provides readers with a clear and practical blueprint for personal and professional success, while sharing her amazing journey from childhood in Cameroon to become a globally respected government policy and international trade strategist.

41-KhhxmuRL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_AGAINST ALL ODDS is the captivating story of one woman’s determination to pursue her passion and aspirations while defying self-limitation and status quo. Angelle Kwemo, who is proud to be an African woman, followed her dreams, ignored the ridicule, and fought aggressively to seize every opportunity that presented itself to her.  Today, Angelle is one of the worlds most sought after government relations and international trade advisory strategists. She advises multi dimensional entities on such matters as how to compete globally and build inroads into the United States, Africa, and other emerging markets. Angelle has lectured at Universities and Conferences around the globe, teaching techniques and strategies on how to successfully navigate into the international marketplace along with the art of remaining competitive.

So what does it take to build the courage to follow your vision, overcome challenges and be relentless in the pursuit of your dreams? Angelle will tell you. Presented here is Angelle Kwemo’s unique blueprint on how to become non-negotiable about your goals and eliminate those toxic behaviors that could potentially impede all efforts towards the attainment of success. To assist in the accomplishment of the aforementioned feat, Angelle utilizes AGAINST ALL ODDS to offer provocative lessons, real-life case studies, and proven strategies of risk and reward that are designed to help pave your own-chartered course of success and live a life of richness.

This story is for all people of race, color, and color, but not for the light of heart, I think its important to share how I shaped my vision, developed endurance, over came the challenges, and became relentless in the pursuit of my dreams”, says Ms. Kwemo, “Life is like a game, having different levels of championship to grow and evolve, this manual will help you stay on top of your game and overcome life’s challenges at every stage of your career”. 

   ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angelle Kwemo in a file picture with Congressman Bobby Rush, John Kufuor former President of Ghana and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria

Angelle Kwemo in a file picture with Congressman Bobby Rush, John Kufuor former President of Ghana and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria

Angelle Kwemo is Founder & Chair of Believe in Africa advocating for empowering the African private sector, women and youth. She is President & CEO of AstrategiKGroup, a firm that provides government relations, international trade advisory and strategic advice to multi-dimensional entities, allowing them to compete globally and build inroads into the United States, Africa and other emerging markets. A native of Cameroon, she started her career in France at Bestaux Law firm.  In Douala, Cameroon, as one of the youngest executives, she served as the Chief of the Maritime Claims and Disputes Department, and later as the General Counsel for Bollore Technology Group and Geodis Overseas, one of the largest French investors in West Africa. She moved to the United States in 2001 where her determination landed her job in U.S. Congress where she worked for 8 years.

AGAINST ALL ODDS BY ANGELLE KWEMO

May 25, 2016; $14.99

Lulu Publishing, Inc.

ISBN #: 9781483441566

eBook ISBN #: 9781483441573

 

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THE RISE OF A PEACEMAKING CAPITAL, IN AFRICA
May 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY LAURA SECORUN PALET*

1434e17719d384aa17f81519a45cf84dThe Arusha airport looks like a huge souvenir shop with an airstrip attached. Thousands of tourists pass through here on their way to Tanzania’s famed national parks and Mount Kilimanjaro. But what those sunburned visitors may not know is that where their safari starts is where civil wars end.

This sleepy city in the north of Tanzania has been a diplomatic hub since the signing of the Arusha Accords in 1993 ended the war in Rwanda. But now, with civil conflict brewing or in full swing in neighboring Burundi and South Sudan, this neutral city may be the region’s best broker for peace agreements. Over 345 new cases of torture and abuse by security forces have been reported in Burundi since the start of 2016 and experts warn of the violence taking an even darker turn. “We are not there now,” says Alexandre Lévêque, Canada’s high commissioner and envoy to the East African community, “but everybody remembers Rwanda.”

The role of peacemaker is one that Tanzania’s recently elected president John Magufuli is taking seriously. He has appointed a seasoned diplomat as minister of foreign affairs and at the top of his agenda is addressing the violence in Burundi, where the election of President Pierre Nkurunziza to an unconstitutional third term has thrown the East African nation into turmoil. If the Tanzanian official manages to convince Nkurunziza to come to the table, that table will be in Arusha.

Home to a number of crucial institutions, including the East African Court of Justice, Arusha is also where the Burundi civil war ended in 2005 after 12 years — and some 300,000 dead. It was there that the National Liberation Forces, Burundi’s last rebel group, finally signed a deal to stop the fighting, demobilize and be integrated into the national army. Today, nestled among rolling green hills, Arusha moves slowly; save for an occasional four-wheel-drive vehicle rushing tourists to view zebras, the city gives the impression that nothing bad could happen here.

Tanzania has more moral authority than all countries in the area combined, so they are best placed to make peace happen.

Paul Nantulya, Pentagon adviser

But can Arusha — “the Geneva of Africa,” as Bill Clinton once called it — live up to its past image as peacemaker? Part of that depends on the rest of Tanzania. Paul Nantulya, a Pentagon adviser who was part of a peace-based negotiating team in Arusha in 1998, says having morally respected arbiters — the late South African leader Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s founding father — are key to any peace agreement. “Those accords only happened because of Mandela and Neyrere,” Nantulya says. “Tanzania has more moral authority than all countries in the area combined, so they are best placed to make peace happen.”

Given Tanzania’s neighbors, there isn’t much of an alternative. Kenya has a recent history of electoral violence, and Ugandan and Rwandan leaders have both forsaken term limits — the same issue fueling violence in Burundi. Meanwhile, Tanzania just had a peaceful change of government, and in 2003, when violence threatened Zanzibar, the country managed to negotiate the creation of a “unity government.”

 

Shutterstock 388127020

Source: Shutterstock

But regional unity is lacking from the Burundi negotiations. During the 2005 Burundi accord, neighboring countries agreed to a severe embargo and to put peacekeeping boots on the ground. Today, Tanzania has to be the one to lead the way to a more coordinated effort. “Tanzania is capable of doing that,” says Hassan B. Jallow, chief prosecutor of the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, from his small office in Arusha. Lévêque says it’s urgent for the country to “step up to its reputation.”

There are many obstacles remaining in the way of President Magufuli playing Switzerland’s role in this heated region. For starters, his party has a long-standing relationship with Burundi’s ruling party, so it finds itself torn between its roles as peacekeeper and ally. And Tanzania’s relationship with some of its neighbors is becoming more strained, says Nantulya. Even if it manages to be the peacemaking arbiter it aims to be, there is no guarantee of success — despite Tanzania’s best efforts to help manage violence in South Sudan after the country’s civil war, the peace accord disintegrated only a few months after its signing.

Near the Arusha airport is the almost empty Mount Meru Hotel. Recently, its sad-looking conference rooms and echoing halls were packed with more than 1,000 well-dressed men and women attending an East African summit. At the top of the agenda? Burundi. Welcoming attendees was a massive photo of Nyerere — the man who brokered the Arusha Accords and who warned, more than half a century ago, “We must either unite now or perish.”

*Source ZY

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Skilling for Change initiative empowers 16,000 women through financial literacy training, creating over 2,300 new businesses and 1,500 new jobs
May 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

Cherie Blair highlights project achievements during her participation in World Economic Forum Africa meeting in Kigali

250 (1)Over 2,300 new businesses and 1,500 new jobs have been created in two years by Rwandan women entrepreneurs involved in Skilling for Change, a unique collaboration between the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women , Accenture and CARE International.

The project launched in 2014 with the aim of supporting 15,000 rural Rwandan women to secure long-term economic independence by providing them with the skills, knowledge and tools they need to turn their micro enterprises into profitable and sustainable businesses. To date, it has provided financial literacy and investment readiness training to 16,146 women engaged in CARE International’s Village Savings and Loan Associations in the districts of Rulindo and Gicumbi. Through the project, 2,353 women have started new businesses, with over 1,535 new jobs being created

250 (2)Rwanda has one of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, and boasts one of the highest levels of financial inclusion in east Africa. But there are still significant gender gaps in economic activity. Research shows that in 2014, 28% of women had access to a bank account, compared to 38% of men – a gap of 10 percentage points. In 2015, this gap had increased to 15 percentage points, with 31% of women having access to a bank account, compared to 46% of men(1).

As the country’s economic development progresses, it is crucial that women are able to access the opportunities afforded by such growth. Skilling for Change aims to address the gender gap in economic activity and puts a special focus on empowering women to access financial services.

To date, Skilling for Change has linked 3,530 women to formal financial services, over 1,145 of whom have accessed a loan. The project has also collaborated with the Kenya Commercial Bank in Rwanda to roll out a range of products to enable women to access savings and loans via mobile phones. A number of women have also been trained to become mobile banking agents, so that they can process financial transactions for others in their local communities.

250 (3)Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and wife of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is participating in the World Economic Forum meeting in Kigali. She said, “Women entrepreneurs have the potential to shape Africa’s economic future. The success of my Foundation’s Skilling for Change project in Rwanda has shown that when women are given the skills and tools they need to flourish, entire communities and economies benefit. Unlocking the full potential of women entrepreneurs is crucial to driving growth across Africa, and, indeed, the world.”

Skilling for Change is supported by Accenture’s corporate citizenship initiative , Skills to Succeed, which is equipping more than three million people around the world with the skills to get a job or build a business.

Laurie Lee, CEO of CARE International, said, “Putting women at the centre of development efforts is a catalyst for fighting poverty. When women are empowered to make and control their own money, the impact on their own lives and the lives of their families can be nothing short of life-changing.”

image001 (8)The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women  provides women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging markets with the skills, technology, networks and access to financial services that they need to become successful small and growing business owners, so that they can contribute to their economies and have a stronger voice in their societies. Working in partnership with local and international non-profit organisations, the private and public sector, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women develops projects with sustainable solutions to the challenges women entrepreneurs face through three programmes: Enterprise Development, Mentoring and Mobile Technology.

CARE International  fights poverty and injustice in more than 80 countries around the world to help the world’s poorest people find routes out of poverty. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives in the aftermath.

*APO

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Yahsat and Tele10 Enter MOU to Discuss Opportunities for Yahclick in Rwanda, Burundi and East DRC
May 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

YahClick, the number one satellite broadband service in Africa, to expand to 19 African countries with the launch of Al Yah 3 satellite

image001 (7)UAE-based satellite operator, Yahsat , signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tele10 Group, the regional broadcast and internet service provider, to discuss collaborations for improving internet connectivity in Rwanda, Burundi and East Democratic Republic of the Congo. The MoU comes ahead of Yahsat taking delivery of its third satellite, Al Yah 3.

The launch of Yahsat’s upcoming satellite will see the roll out of YahClick, the company’s cost-effective satellite broadband service, to 19 new markets in Africa during the first half of 2017. YahClick, delivered through a modem and small satellite dish, is currently the number one satellite broadband service in Africa, providing subscribers access to uninterrupted, high-speed internet anywhere in the coverage area with in-country technical, operational, and customer care services. As Yahsat works towards expanding its coverage area across the African continent, the company is in talks with local service providers to reinforce the presence of YahClick and strengthen its customer care.

Commenting on the MoU, David Murphy, Yahsat’s Chief Commercial Officer, said, “Our cutting edge satellite technology connects individuals and businesses across Africa, regardless of the level of telecommunications infrastructure present in each country. At Yahsat, we are dedicated to serving underserved and remote areas by providing better connectivity to new and existing internet users. To further our commitment to the region, we have entered an MoU with Tele10 to discuss the provision of high-speed connectivity to three of Africa’s fast-emerging markets, Rwanda, Burundi and East Democratic Republic of the Congo. We look forward to working together and providing unparalleled broadband services to our customers across our expanding footprint.”

Tele10 has been serving the East African region for 20 years, by providing diverse solutions including pay-TV, radio broadcasting, and ICT services. In 2017, the company will grow its portfolio to offer the YahClick broadband products, services and value-added solutions to its existing customer base as well as new customers. New markets will be served using the latest Ka-band technology, which is highly reliable in all weather conditions.

Tele10 Group’s CEO said, “In this era of digital migration across the African continent, where several technologies such as 3/4G, hotspots, fibre and others are struggling to win the market, we are confident that YahClick will definitely give us a serious competitive advantage against other players in the region and make us lead the Internet industry.”

Murphy concluded: “Today, internet plays a crucial role in socio-economic development as it facilitates education, trade, commerce, and agricultural activities. By providing the YahClick service to growing economies, we ensure the delivery of unmatched connectivity to support knowledge transfer and consequently, regional development.”

 

Yahsat  provides multipurpose satellite solutions (government and commercial) for broadband, broadcast, government, and communications use across the Middle East, Africa, and Europe in addition to Central and South West Asia. Based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and wholly owned by Mubadala Development Company , the investment vehicle of the Government of Abu Dhabi, Yahsat is the first company in the Middle East and Africa to offer multi-purpose ka-band satellite services including:

  • YahClick – offers broadband satellite solutions for home and business
  • YahService – offers managed solutions and government capacity
  • YahLink – offers IP trunking solutions, corporate networking and backhauling capacity
  • Yahlive – a joint venture between Yahsat and SES, offers premium services to broadcasters and a select choice of TV channels

Yahsat’s first satellite Y1A was successfully launched in April 2011, and the company’s second satellite Y1B was successfully launched in April 2012. Yahsat has announced the manufacturing of its third satellite, Al Yah 3, planned for launch in early 2017, extending their commercial Ka-band coverage to an additional 20 markets reaching 60% of Africa’s population and over 95% of Brazil’s population, marking the company’s first entry in to Brazil.
About Tele10

Incorporated in 1993 in Burundi, TELE-10 started as a pay-tv company, transmitting international TV programming in a UHF analog system, through main Burundi city.

TELE-10 Group of companies is principally a pay-tv operator and an ISP company that aims to provide high-level expertise in TV and ISP industries using diversified implementation strategies.

The Company facilitates the acquisition of hardware and software, value addition, consultancy services.

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I didn’t want third term, says Rwanda’s Kagame
May 13, 2016 | 0 Comments
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda attends the session "The Transformation of Tomorrow" during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda attends the session “The Transformation of Tomorrow” during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

KIGALI (Reuters) – Rwandan President Paul Kagame said on Wednesday he did not want a third term in office but had to bow to entreaties from his people, who were not ready to say goodbye to the architect of the nation’s recovery from a 1994 genocide.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa in the capital, Kagame said he was aware that changing the constitution to allow him to run again would draw international criticism but had little say in the matter.

The changes, which technically allow Kagame to stay until 2034, were approved in a December referendum by a 98 percent majority that Rwanda’s tiny opposition and Western diplomats said was suspiciously high.

“By the way, I didn’t ask for this thing,” Kagame said of the third term during a panel discussion chaired by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, one of Kagame’s most high profile international supporters.

“I was actually trying to tell my people: ‘You know what, there’s room – can’t you find someone else? You need to take a risk and look for someone else,'” he continued.

“And they kept saying ‘No. We are not ready to take risks. We want you to stay.’ I said, ‘But I’m having difficulties staying.'”

The United States, a major donor, led the criticism of Kagame’s plans to seek re-election next year, saying it was another example of an African leader changing the democratic rules in order to extend his time in power.

Neighbouring Burundi, which shares a history of ethnic fighting with Rwanda, was plunged into chaos a year ago when President Pierre Nkurunziza sought a third term, which the opposition denounced as unconstitutional.

Kagame has overseen a remarkable economic recovery from the 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were butchered by Hutu extremists.

However, rights groups and political opponents – many of whom now live in exile – say this has been at the expense of civil liberties.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo

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Africa Investors Look East as Commodity-Driven Boom Withers
May 12, 2016 | 0 Comments
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Export-Import Bank of the United States Chairman Hochberg to travel to Cameroon and Rwanda from May 9th- 13th, 2016
May 6, 2016 | 1 Comments
Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg

Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg

Chairman Hochberg will meet with government and business leaders in Cameroon, to discuss EXIM Bank financing opportunities for Sub-Sahara African businesses.

Chairman Hochberg will also attend World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, where he will participate in conference activities and engage strategic dialogues with African leaders in the public and private sectors.

ABOUT EX-IM BANK:

EXIM Bank is an independent federal agency that supports and maintains U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees and export credit insurance, to promote the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad. Almost ninety percent of its transactions directly serve American small businesses.

In fiscal year 2015, EXIM Bank approved $12.4 billion in total authorizations. These authorizations supported an estimated $17 billion in U.S. export sales, as well as approximately 109,000 American jobs in communities across the country.

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The grand heist: A perspective from the South on the Panama Papers
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Sungu Oyoo*

mm_6In South Africa, over $60 million was lost through a well-orchestrated fraud from the mineworkers’ death benefits pool. 46,000 widows and orphans lost their benefits in this fraud revealed in the Panama Papers. Can you I imagine the pain of a widow  going to claim her husband’s death benefits only to find it all gone? Imagine that this widow has four children and no real source of income. We must resist!

The world woke up to news of the Panama Papers a few weeks ago. The release of the Panama Papers – an information trove comprising about 11.5 million documents leaked from Panamanian law-firm Mossack Fonseca – by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists helped shed light on the shadowy world that is international capital, and cast global attention on underhand financial dealings at international level. These papers have shown us how corporations, governments and individuals in the highest echelons of governments have colluded with their agents who include lawyers, bankers and accountants to create a parallel universe of offshore companies which they use to conceal wealth, evade taxes, perpetuate fraud and hide proceeds of bribery.

Several corporations, global leaders and their associates were adversely mentioned in the Panama Papers. But Panama is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the magnitude of financial institutions and governments that would be implicated if humanity knew of happenings in just twenty tax havens in the world.

The media has covered the Panama papers and the 215,000 offshore companies extensively since their emergence into the spotlight. However, most commentaries on the Panama Papers have been focused on financial aspects of the shadowy transactions and the people behind them. But what’s the impact of all this on humanity? Perhaps it’s time you and I had a frank discussion on the impact of these tax havens on our daily lives.

Africa is estimated to lose $50 billion annually to illicit financial flows, according to a 2014 report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). This figure is, however, likely to be way higher in actual sense due to a general lack of data and the secretive nature of tax havens. Illicit financial flows are known to inhibit tax collection, and limit the overall ability of governments to provide needs like education, health, housing, and other social services to citizens.

In Uganda, this has happened through evasion of taxes from oil revenue. The Panama Papers reveal how Heritage Oil and Gas Company moved its domicile from Bahamas to Mauritius, which has a double tax treaty with Uganda, so as to evade a tax liability of $400 million. All this happened while hospitals in Uganda were understaffed, faced shortages of medicine and equipment, and had patients sleeping in overcrowded hospital wards. Uganda’s health budget in 2015/2016 stood at 1.2 Trillion shillings – approximately $ 358.2 million – which is less than the $400 million tax evaded by Heritage Oil.

This issue also brings to fore elements of the dependency syndrome. The Ugandan government only financed 45% of its 2015/2016 budget from taxation, and sourced the remaining 55% from foreign aid and loans. This brings to the fore issues of dependency syndrome, the misguided belief that some countries cannot solve their own problems without outside help. Why are some states quick to opt for external financing of their budgets, while allowing multinational corporations to evade taxes?

Perhaps more interesting is the role of these financial institutions in the trade of conflict minerals. What’s the impact of happenings in these tax havens on people who live in regions where conflict has been used to facilitate mineral extraction and plunder? We must not shy away from discussing what the Panama Papers mean for mineral-rich but conflict-ridden countries like Sierra Leonne and the Democratic Republic of Congo. What roles do tax havens, banks and other multinational corporations play in this grand heist? Where do the interests of the state and the interests of capital connect?

International law requires disclosure of origins of gold and other precious minerals by those who trade in them. Rawbank, a commercial bank in the DRC, accepts gold in exchange of services without employing any clear mechanism to verify the source of the gold. 70% of Congo’s gold is alleged to end up in Dubai which refines, then exports it to Switzerland, a tax haven with access to the global market. Switzerland sells gold to the world.

Colonialism robbed Africa of many resources – and acted as one of the main systems on which the growth of capitalism was then anchored. At the end of colonial rule, the empire left a small cabal of petty bourgeoisie who eventually found their way into power or close to power in most African states. This cabal evolved into the political and economic elite of today. This elitist class facilitates the actions of multinational corporations by looking the other way while their states are plundered. In states like the Congo, armed militias have been pitted against one another for decades. Who thrives in this environment of endless wars, and reaps benefits from plunder of minerals? Definitely not the Congolese people.

In South Africa, over $60 million was lost through a well-orchestrated investment fraud from the mineworkers’ death benefits pool. 46,000 South African widows and orphans lost their benefits as a resultant effect of this fraud that was carefully hidden in a plethora of accounts revealed in the Panama Papers. I’m not South African, but I imagine the pain felt by a widow who goes to claim her husband’s death benefits only to find it all gone. Now, imagine this widow has four or more children, and no real source of income. There exists the possibility that she has no rural home to go to because both she and her husband were born into squatter families – dispossessed of land generations ago.

What has all this reduced her to? Probably another statistic to be discussed at international conferences on poverty. Violence comes in many forms – and poverty is one of the greatest forms of violence that can be meted out on a human being. I relate to her situation because the situation of the African person is the same throughout the continent. Individual circumstances in South Africa and in my native Kenya may be different, but the grand structure that facilitates exploitation of people and demeans their being is of one shape – a capitalistic shape.

Having sincere discussions will make us alive to the harsh reality that today’s world is. Many corporations and individuals operate with a brazen sense of impunity because they know they are powerful enough to get away with almost anything. State capture is real. Many states in the global south have been enslaved by the owners of capital, the so-called one-percenters, who place profits before people. People in the global south have, on the other hand, been reduced to mere factors of production.

The level of interaction between the economic elite and the political class has never been more frightening, and paints to a worrying future for us all. Banks are big drivers in all this. Bankers finance the politicians. Politicians help preserve the status quo, and tax havens live on. International criminals will keep doing business until we confront these systems head-on. We must resist!

*  Source Pambazuka.Sungu Oyoo is an advocate for economic and social justice in Kenya. Follow him on twitter: @Sungu_Oyoo.

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US$7 Million Prize to Fund African Renewable Energy Projects
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

Calling all entrepreneurs and developers of renewable energy projects in Africa

  • Just three weeks left for entrepreneurs to enter the ACF competition which will see developers across the continent compete for funding and expertise
  • Calling all entrepreneurs and developers of renewable energy projects in Africa

Access Power , a developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today kicked off the countdown for applications to the ACF 2016, the second edition of its successful Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) for renewable energy projects in Africa.

eef1acfb29c60dcRenewable energy developers have less than one month left to submit their applications for a chance to win US$7million in ACF prize funding. The deadline for applications is the 20st May 2016.

ACF 2016 is a competition dedicated to finding local power project developers with credible renewable energy projects in Africa who need access to funding, technical experience, and expertise to bring their plans to life.

Following the competition’s successful launch last year, the ACF increased its funding from US$5m in 2015 to US$7m for this year’s winners.  Up to three successful projects will be selected by a panel of expert judges whose decision will be based on commercial, technical and environmental merits, the local regulatory environment, and capability of the project team.

The winners of ACF 2016 will be announced on Tuesday 22nd June 2016 before a live audience during the Africa Energy Forum in London  (see Notes to Editors for further details). The winners will enter a Joint Development Agreement with Access Power, which will take an equity stake in the winning projects and fund third-party development costs such as feasibility studies, grid studies, environmental and social impact assessments and due diligence fees.  Access Power will also provide technical support, financial structuring and development process management.

Nasir Aku, ACF Program Manager at Access Power commented, “With just one month to go until the application deadline, we want to make sure that all local developers across the African continent are aware of this fantastic opportunity to secure valuable funding and expertise that can turn an idea for a renewable energy project into reality.”

ACF 2016 is leading the way in demonstrating and supporting the type of renewable energy projects that will help meet Africa’s massive and urgent need for electrification.

drawing“Through this unique facility, we hope to encourage innovation and support companies in their efforts to deliver power to places that desperately need it. Last year we received a total of 55 submissions from 18 countries across Africa, including solar, wind, hydro, hybrid and bio-mass projects. The applications are coming in fast so 2016 looks set to build on that success.”

The inaugural ACF in 2015 was won by Quaint Solar Energy from Nigeria and Flatbush Solar from Cameroon. Other competing projects hailed from Cape Verde, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania.

One project has already pre-qualified for ACF2016. A 25MW solar project being developed in Sierra Leone by Africa Growth and Energy Solutions (AGES) won the Solar Shark Tank competition at the Making Solar Bankable conference in Amsterdam on 18th February. In a keenly fought contest, three emerging markets developers competed for a US$100,000 grant to support the development of their solar projects, funded by Access Power and Dutch development bank FMO. Part of the prize, subject to terms and conditions, was pre-qualification for ACF2016.

  • The independent judging panel of four judges will include industry and legal experts as well as representatives from multilateral development banks.

 

  • Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges at the Africa Energy Forum in London on the 22nd June 2016.
  • Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the Forum within a given time and take questions from panel members.
  • Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
  • ACF 2016 submission period runs from 18th February to 20th May, 2016.

Access Power (‘Access’)  was founded in 2012 with the aim of becoming a leading developer, owner and operator of power assets in emerging and frontier markets.  Access has assembled a development team with a track record of financially closing ~30 GW of power projects across the globe.  Through its various subsidiaries, Access is currently developing power assets in over 20 countries in Africa and Asia. Access’ portfolio predominantly consists of renewable energy projects with a gross total investment cost of over US$ 1 billion.

*APO

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Cameroonian – American Teen Accepted to Nine Prestigious Colleges
May 5, 2016 | 0 Comments
A big feat for Niven Achenjang with acceptance into all 9 prestigious colleges he applied to

A big feat for Niven Achenjang with acceptance into all 9 prestigious colleges he applied to

A local senior, Niven Achenjang of Knox Central High and The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Bowling Green, Kentucky has been accepted into all 9 prestigious colleges he applied to. The humble dual student, gives credit to his teachers, school mates and guidance counsellors at Knox Central and The Gatton Academy as well as his extended family, siblings, friends and St. Gregory church Barbourville for earning his way to this moment.

Niven Achenjang who was recently named a National Merit Finalist by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation received the coveted YES, Congratulations and admission offers from Western Kentucky University, Stanford University, University of Kentucky, (these three under the Early Action program), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Vanderbilt University-TN, California Institute of Technology-Caltech, Georgia Institute of Technology-GeorgiaTech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology-MIT and Harvard College. Rejection letters can worsen what many seniors and their parents consider as a stressful and frustrating college process, but hard work pays and hopefully future seniors would be inspired by this story.

Niven smiles as he quips praising the Lord and adding that he must have something that the highly competitive/selective schools see as being of value in him. May that be true and may I not fail my friends, family, school district and myself as I look forward to define my place in the world and in what the future holds. Mr. Results driven Niven, plans to major in Math and Computer Science technically called Mathematical and Computational Science, with specialization in Software Engineering at Stanford.

Asked why he selected Stanford, he said, he planned on studying computer science and researching in the field adding that it was his understanding that Stanford has one of the top CS programs in the nation. He just returned from the admit weekend visit at Stanford and recalls that he came across satisfied that Stanford offers a flexible curriculum in many subject areas, with a diverse student body, culturally and intellectually. Being a part of Stanford, I believe, will be challenging and help me grow as I am surrounded by people different than me. Stanford also has great weather, many nice places for outdoor activities (running, hiking, etc.), and connections to many big name companies.

Asked what inspires him most, he revealed that he was probably most inspired by impactful ends. When I find something new, he continues, I try to think about what it could lead into and what that could mean for me, the people around me, and the world at large. The dream of being a part of something that has a long lasting effect (on mankind?) is what inspires me to take the steps to achieve that end.

On whether, he felt Knox Central/Knox County had helped him grow, he answered in the affirmative. Definitely, he said, I have been in Knox County for most of my life. It is where I was raised for the most part, and it is where I had the experiences that have made me who I am. If it were not for all the support and advice from family, friends, teachers, and members of the community I have come to know; for all the good times I have had with them; and for all the times I have messed up and been steered right by one of them, I would not have been able to accomplish what I have. For this and more I am grateful to them and thankful to God

Finally, on how he felt looking back on his work and accomplishments, he said, I feel proud. Not only proud of what I have done, but proud of the fact that I did not do it alone. I am elated that I have been able to meet and befriend people who have been willing to help me along the way as I have gone through life.

Niven’s hobbies include track and field, cross country, frisbee, and community involvement.

*Previously published as a Special for The Times Tribune of KY, with caption KNOX COUNTY TEEN ACCEPTED BY TOP COMPETITIVE COLLEGES TO THE CLASS OF 2020!

 

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Carlos Lopes: To industrialise, Africa needs strong but smart states
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

“Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas…Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.”

by *

Credit: UNECA.

Credit: UNECA.

African Arguments caught up with the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Director to talk about economic transformation, what’s holding the continent back, and whether leaders will really take action in the wake of the #PanamaPapers.

In a lot of your work, you emphasise the need for Africa to undergo ‘structural transformation’. What does this mean, and why is industrialisation so important to it?

There is a whole literature about structural transformation, but in practical terms right now in Africa it means moving to higher productivity sectors. We see this happening in three particular areas. Firstly, there’s agricultural productivity, which is at its lowest in Africa yet offers incredible potential for minimising poverty and contributing to industrialisation through agro-processing. Secondly, there’s manufacturing, which requires policies that mimic part of the experience of successful industrialisation processes of the past but are much more adapted to African characteristics. And thirdly, there’s the service sector, which needs to become more integrated into the formal economy.

Industrialisation plays a critical role because it’s more than just the production of processed goods or value addition from natural resources. It’s also an enabler for a rising society and, being a latecomer, Africa can learn from the experiences of others and adjust. For Africa, issues such as the environment, for instance, can be tackled up front.

There are varying verdicts as to how African industrialisation is faring. Some emphasise that manufacturing as a share of Africa’s GDP has almost halved from its 20% level in 1970. But others highlight that manufacturing is increasing at 3.5% a year, faster than the global average. What’s your take?

If you measure it by manufacturing value added, which is the common preferred indicator, then yes it is true that in percentage GDP terms, African manufacturing is stagnating if not falling. But African economies have doubled in the last 15 years, so even if you maintain the same percentage it means a lot more industry has come on board. Moreover, this also doesn’t take into account a number of activities that we can consider industrial but aren’t counted in statistics because of delays in updating national accounts.

Our take is that industrialisation is increasing significantly in some countries, though not across the entire continent, and that we need to accelerate and aggressively.

What’s holding African industrialisation back? Is it insufficient infrastructure? Lack of imagination amongst policymakers? Trade treaties that constrain what governments are able to do?

It’s all of those but the important question is which of those comes first. I think the capacity for comprehensiveness that comes with an industrial policy is what is the most important, because if you tackle the issue from just a specific sector or enabler or dimension, you are never going to get your act together.

The countries that really move and industrialise always have the same recipe: a very strong state hand, but a state that is very smart, a state that is capable of introducing smart protectionism because crude protectionism is no longer available, a state that is capable of identifying the critical enablers like infrastructure, and a state that knows how to fund its policies whether through domestic resource mobilisation or astute borrowing.

In a recent ECA report, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Bilateral Investment Treaties and Economic Partnership Agreements are painted as significant barriers to African industrialisation. Do these agreements just need tweaking or are they inherently detrimental for Africa?

I think African countries have embarked on signing stuff they shouldn’t sign, but too bad for them. The WTO is a consensus-based mechanism that would allow for stalling, so if Africans don’t get their act together to stall the things that are bad for them, then that’s an African problem not a WTO problem.

I think Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas. They are not taking advantage of space they already have. And Africans are also distracted by negotiating bilateral trade agreements before they finalise their own. Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.

Given enormous global power imbalances, do you think it’s enough for African policymakers to just be slightly smarter and more imaginative under the current system, or do you think there needs to be more fundamental change too?

The moral and political dimension I leave for the media, NGOs, and civil society, though we should certainly give them ammunition so their claims are evidence-based. Where we can really make a difference is in deconstructing some untruths that have long been masquerading as truths. That’s why we’ve been plunging into legislative issues, contract negotiations, and investment and trade treaties to try and have a more informed discussion. We think a lot of space exists in these that Africans are not using. After all, countries that are good negotiators do get a better deal.

In terms of untruths, take this race to the bottom towards zero tax for investors for an example. Does it attract more investors in relation to potential competitors? No. Typically countries that are well organised and structured and that offer investors a package of incentives that are not tax-based are more attractive than ones offering tax incentives.

When it comes to illicit financial flows, through which $50 billion leaves Africa each year according to an ECA report, do you think leaders will seize this moment after the #PanamaPapers to implement real reforms?

There are various dimensions to the debate, but because of Mossack Fonseca we are currently focusing on one dimension: namely tax jurisdictions and how multinationals are taking advantage of different loopholes to move from one jurisdiction to another in order not to pay tax.

Another dimension, however, is the competition amongst financial centres. The City of London, for example, doesn’t want to lose its prominence as one of the leading financial centres of the world. This means that they have to stay ahead of competitors and protect a certain number of very complex legislative dimensions that will appear from a regulatory point of view to be very strong and powerful, but at the same time be lenient where they know competitors could have an edge.

There is certainly now a strong public push for regulators to put a bit of order to things. And I don’t think the rhetoric is hypocritical, but how far they will go and how much political leaders will embrace actual change is another matter.

*Source African Arguments.James Wan is the editor of African Arguments. He tweets at @jamesjwan.

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