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Adesina Urges America to Support African Agriculture as a Business
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
I do not seek aid for Africa. I seek investments in Africa – Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture

ARLINGTON, United States of America, February 22, 2018/ — The President of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has made a strong case for increased American and global investments to help unlock Africa’s agriculture potential.

He made the remarks as the Distinguished Guest Speaker, at the USDA’s 94th Agriculture Outlook Forum (www.USDA.gov/oce/forum) in Virginia on Thursday, on the theme The Roots of Prosperity.

According to Adesina, “For too long, Agriculture has been associated with what I call the three Ps – pain, penury, and poverty. The fact though is that agriculture is a huge wealth-creating sector that is primed to unleash new economic opportunities that will lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”

Participants at the Forum included the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue; Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Stephen Censky; President of the World Food Prize Foundation, Kenneth Quinn; Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Robert Johansson; Deputy Chief Economist, Warren Preston; and several top level government officials and private sector operators.

Adesina appealed to the US private sector to fundamentally change the way it views African agriculture.

“Think about it, the size of the food and agriculture market in Africa will rise to US $ 1 trillion by 2030. This is the time for US agri-businesses to invest in Africa,” he said. ‘’And for good reason: Think of a continent where McKinsey projects household consumption is expected to reach nearly $2.1 trillion and business-to-business expenditure will reach $3.5 trillion by 2025. Think of a continent brimming with 840 million youth, the youngest population in the world, by 2050.”

The U.S. government was urged to be at the forefront of efforts to encourage fertilizer and seed companies, manufacturers of tractors and equipment, irrigation and ICT farm analytics to ramp up their investments on the continent.

“As the nation that first inspired me and then welcomed me with open arms, permit me to say that I am here to seek a partnership with America: a genuine partnership to help transform agriculture in Africa, and by so doing unlock the full potential of agriculture in Africa, unleash the creation of wealth that will lift millions out of poverty in Africa, while creating wealth and jobs back home right here in America,” the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate  told the Forum.”

Adesina told more than 2,000 delegates that the African Development Bank is spearheading a number of transformative business and agricultural initiatives.

“We are launching the Africa Investment Forum, as a 100% transactional platform, to leverage global pension funds and other institutional investors to invest in Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa from November 7-9.”

The World Bank, International Finance Corporation, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, are partnering with the African Investment Forum to de-risk private sector investments.

The African Development Bank is also pioneering the establishment of Staple Crop Processing Zones  in 10 African countries, that are expected to transform rural economies into zones of economic prosperity and save African economies billions of dollars in much needed foreign reserves.

“We must now turn the rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity. This requires a total transformation of the agriculture sector. At the core of this must be rapid agricultural industrialization. We must not just focus on primary production but on the development of agricultural value chains,” Adesina added. “That way, Africa will turn from being at the bottom to the top of global value chains.”

In his keynote address U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, said:

“The U.S. Administration has removed more restrictive regulations to agriculture than any other administration. Our goal is to dismantle restrictions that have eroded agricultural business opportunities.”

“Agriculture feeds prosperity and accounts for 20 cents of every dollar. As global prosperity grows, it in turn fuels the demand for more nutritious food and business opportunities,” he added.

In his concluding remarks, Adesina informed participants about a new $ 1 billion initiative, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) to unlock Africa’s huge potential in the savannahs.

Expressing strong optimism that the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come from agriculture, Adesina said:

“Together, let our roots of prosperity grow downwards and bear fruit upwards. As we do, rural Africa and rural America will brim with new life, much like I witnessed in Indiana, during my time as a graduate student in America. Then, we will have changed the 3 ‘Ps’ to – Prosperity, Prosperity and Prosperity!”

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 44 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

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ACBF appointed African Union specialised agency for capacity development
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission with African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) management after ceremony in Harare

Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission with African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) management after ceremony in Harare

The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) has been appointed as a specialised agency for capacity development by the African Union (AU) at a ceremony endorsed by Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of
the African Union Commission in Harare.

Under the new framework, capacity development activities ACBF is going to undertake under will include enhancing skills required to achieve sustainable development,strengthening the human and institutional capacity of national and regional institutions,promoting economic and social transformation through policy formulation,implementation, monitoring and evaluation focusing on Africa’s developmental agenda and generating and sharing knowledge on capacity development.

It is reported that the African Union Commission shall, subject to its applicable internal procedures facilitate effective collaboration with ACBF Agency through the commission and other relevant organs of the Union, collaborate with the ACBF Agency in joint resource mobilization initiatives for the financing of
capacity building interventions in the continent and facilitate the ACBF Agency role in coordinating capacity building initiatives on the African continent.

The ACBF agency shall also create a consultative forum in which Africans may participate as full partners in the establishment of priorities and the development of policies and programs to promote capacity building in policy analysis and development management, establish processes for coordinating capacity building efforts in
policy formulation and implementation that would lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness of
ongoing donor efforts, coordinate resource mobilization to provide funding and resources for capacity building in Africa, lead, coordinate and champion production of fit-for-purpose, high-quality, and timely capacity development knowledge in support of the implementation of Africa’s development priorities, coordinate
knowledge connection (government, private sector and academia), facilitation and sharing to improve development practices, coordinate capacity development advisory services and training at continental, regional and country levels to translate capacity development knowledge and learning into relevant and innovative methods and
practices, support the emergence of a knowledge-based economy to sustain development results
in Africa, publish and disseminate information related to capacity building and capacity
utilization in Africa, collaborate with national, bilateral or multilateral institutions carrying out specific capacity building and capacity utilization activities in Africa.

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The politics of fear is dying out in Africa
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Netsanet Belay*

FROM LEFT: President Uhuru Kenyata, former President Jacob Zuma and former Prime Minister Hailemariam

FROM LEFT: President Uhuru Kenyata, former President Jacob Zuma and former Prime Minister Hailemariam

Lenin was once quoted as saying, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” This could perfectly describe the past week in Africa. Across the continent, a number of game-changing political developments have followed each other in quick succession in one of the most tumultuous weeks of any decade.

In South Africa, Jacob Zuma resigned after a presidency marked by corruption and impunity. Shortly after, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stood down following months of intensifying public protest. In the same week, Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s long-standing opposition leader, passed away after a lifetime spent challenging human rights violations under former President Robert Mugabe.
The pace of these successive changes has been significant, but the ground has been stirring for some time. Last year Africa bid farewell to its three longest-serving leaders: Yahya Jammeh of Gambia (22 years), José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola (38 years) and Zimbabwe’s Mugabe (37 years) — all leaders of governments known for their brutal repression of dissent.
Given the scale and long history of the repression enacted by these governments, many thought they would not live to see their end. In Gambia, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, recent developments were unthinkable — until they happened.
Who could have imagined that the gates of Ethiopia’s notorious prisons would open so widely, allowing thousands of prisoners of conscience to walk free? That Eskinder Nega, the courageous journalist who spent seven years behind bars for criticizing the government, would finally be reunited with his family?
Who in Gambia would have believed that Ousainou Darboe and Amadou Sanneh, two former Amnesty International prisoners of conscience who spent years in jail for speaking out against repression, would be ministers in the new government?
Who would have dared to question the reign of dos Santos and see his family lose its grip over Angola’s oil industry and wealth?
The growing resilience of people standing up against repression and demanding respect for human rights is a cause for hope in uncertain times. It suggests the politics of fear may finally be withering away.
Since 2016, mass protests and people’s movements — often articulated and organized through social media — have swept the continent.
#Oromoprotests and #amaharaprotests in Ethiopia, #ThisFlag in Zimbabwe and #FeesMustFall in South Africa were some of the most powerful manifestations of this growing defiance. These protests were often spontaneous, viral and driven by ordinary citizens, in particular young people who bear the triple burden of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
This trend continued in 2017. From Lomé to Freetown, Khartoum to Kampala and Kinshasa to Luanda, people went out to the streets in large numbers, ignoring threats and bans on protests and refusing to back down even in the face of brutal clampdowns.
The triggers for these protests vary. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it was delays in publishing the electoral calendar that got people out on the streets; in Chad it was an increase in the fees charged to traders at the N’Djamena Millet Market; in Togo it was hikes in oil prices; in Kenya it was frustrations over the electoral process.
But what unites them is the strength in defiance and the demand for change, inclusion and freedom. While some of these protests had violent elements — mostly in reaction to heavy-handed clampdowns — the majority were peaceful and driven by a demand for basic rights and dignity.
And there is every reason to believe that this trend is unstoppable.
Amnesty International’s report on the state of the world’s human rights documents how 2017 saw the arbitrary and brutal suppression of the right to peaceful protest in more than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including through unlawful bans, excessive use of force, harassment and arbitrary arrests.
But this did little to silence dissent despite the best efforts of those who want to crush and silence dissent. In fact, it is becoming clearer that failing to respect freedoms and fulfill human rights obligations is ultimately self-defeating.
This should serve as a wake-up call to all governments that the solution to lasting peace and stability lies in guaranteeing more freedoms, not less. Political shifts mean nothing if they don’t result in greater respect for human rights. People who care about freedom and equality are ultimately concerned not with which leader is in power, but whether or not they respect human rights.
Only time will tell what these political changes will truly mean for us Africans — especially for the poor, the young, the marginalized, the repressed and silenced.
But what is clear is that people across the continent are not willing to wait decades to find out.
*Culled from CNN.Netsanet Belay is Amnesty International’s director of Africa research and advocacy. The opinions in this article belong to the author.
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Africa needs more scientists and engineers for developments- AU Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire
The chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Mr Moussa Faki
Mahamat has said that Africa needs more scientists and engineers to
develop itself and also in-order to minimise its dependence syndrome.
Mr Mahamat made the remarks during his visit to the African Capacity
Building Foundation (ACBF) headquarters in Harare to sign the AUC-ACBF
agreement on the ACBF’s status as specialised agency of the African
Union.
Mr Mahamat said that Africa should now have the capacity to fund
what it needs on its own and also to tell its partners what it needs.
He said that 90% of the human resource capital in Africa is in the
humanities and the arts sector which he said that was not bad, but
called for training of more scientists and engineers for the continent
to boost its development agenda.
Mahamat also expressed concern at the lack of mathematics teachers
in some African countries, a challenge which he said needed to
urgently addressed.
He also urged agencies and partners in Africa to evaluate their
interventions to assess their progress to enhance the continent’s
development. Mahamat also called for more scientific innovation on
the continent adding that the continent needed more researchers.
ACBF Executive Director, Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, said that Africa was
investing in unemployment due to its major human capacity development
in the humanities, social sciences and the arts.
Nnadozie sid that there was need in transformation of skills and this
is a major issue which the ACBF and other partners was working on
addressing. He said that there was need to mobilise resources to
overhaul the education systems and quality of education on the African
continent.

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Davido’s ‘If’ hits Diamond, ‘Fall’ goes Platinum
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

NIGERIAN popstar ‘Davido’ Adeleke‘s 2017 hit songs ‘If’ and ‘Fall’ have gone diamond and platinum respectively.

Davido at the Columbia Records office

Davido at the Columbia Records office

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), this means ‘If’ has been sold or streamed one million times and ‘Fall’ has reached ten million record sales.

Davido shared a photo of himself with his awards and plagues on Tuesday through his Instagram page @davidooficial, writing:

“‘IF’ is officially Diamond and ‘FALL’ is officially Platinum in sales!!! My trophies finally came in as well! GOD IS REAL! Thank you Guys for making this happen!! Just getting started!!! Bless to my team @efe_one@asaasika@missamadi@sirbanko.”

The singer signed a record distribution deal with Sony RCA in the United States in 2016, a move that has led to his huge record sales.

The Plaques were presented at the Columbia Records UK office and Efe Ogbeni who executed the record deal for Davido with Sony was present.

The Managing Directors and President of Columbia UK Stacey Tang, Manish Arora and Ferdy Unger-Hamilton. Vanessa Amadi (Management) and Michael Ugwu were also present during the presentation of the Plaques.

Davido’s win came in shortly after he sold out his Brixton ‘O2’ Live show in London, on Sunday.

The ‘Fall’ crooner was recently won the Soundcity MVP award including ‘Best African Act’ and ‘Best Worldwide Act’.

The singer, who owns music label Davido Music Worldwide (DMW), recently released a new hit ‘Flora my Flawa’.

(NAN)/Real News

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Only on AP: Migrant recounts forced deportation from Israel
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

By RODNEY MUHUMUZA*

Inside the immigration office in Tel Aviv, Yohannes Tesfagabr considered his options. He could not dare return to his native Eritrea, a country he risked his life to flee in 2010. He also hoped to avoid the fate of compatriots who languished in a notorious desert jail for illegally staying in Israel.

So in an emotional confrontation with immigration officials one day last November, the 29-year-old sous chef accepted what Israeli authorities were offering: $3,500 in cash and a one-way ticket to Uganda or Rwanda.

Two weeks later he was on a flight to Uganda, together with five other Eritrean migrants he did not know.

“They told me, ‘If you don’t leave you are going to jail,'” Tesfagabr recalled. “It’s forced. They tell you to say you are going voluntarily, but it is not voluntary. They force you to deport yourself.”

His case highlights the predicament of tens of thousands of Africans in Israel who face jail if they do not accept an offer, allegedly without further assurances of safety, to relocate to an unnamed African country. Both Uganda and Rwanda, widely presumed to be the likely destinations, have denied the existence of any agreement with Israel’s government even though scores of migrants are believed to have already settled in the East African countries.

Tesfagabr said his group of Eritreans was not taken through the official immigration desk when they arrived in Uganda. Instead, they were ushered in via the cargo area, herded by a Ugandan official who stayed quiet most of the time. They were bundled into two taxis and driven to a hotel in the capital, Kampala. Their passports were confiscated by a man who spoke Tigrinya, a language widely spoken in Eritrea, and who Tesfagabr believes had been hired as a translator. Hours later, the undocumented Eritreans were dismissed from the hotel.

The five other men who traveled with Tesfagabr on a Nov. 16 EgyptAir flight to Uganda declined to talk to The Associated Press because of safety concerns. But Tesfagabr, although similarly worried, said he wanted to speak out because he felt he had been harshly treated during Israel’s efforts to remove him from a country he had grown to love.

“My Hebrew is four times better than my English,” he said one recent evening at a Kampala restaurant patronized by Eritreans.

Tesfagabr, a village boy from Eritrea’s highland area of Debarwa who felt hopeless after being forcefully conscripted into the army, arrived in Israel in 2012, the victim of alleged traffickers in Sudan who took him to Egypt and helped him cross a border point in the Sinai after his family was made to pay a $3,900 ransom. He remembered his days in captivity as some of the worst of his life. To force his parents to pay for his freedom, his captors beat him and staged mock executions. At least two of his compatriots were killed in a shootout with Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, he said.

But after crossing into Israel, Tesfagabr benefited from random acts of kindness, including from an Israeli man who bought him food and new clothes. In Rehovot, the city south of Tel Aviv where he settled, he found a satisfying job as a sous chef in a bistro. He had an apartment and a bank account, but he had to get his visa renewed every two months and sometimes he was required to report back after five days.

When two compatriots with whom he shared an apartment were jailed for overstaying their visas, Tesfagabr knew his days were numbered and seriously began thinking about leaving Israel.

“They take you like a dog, like a donkey,” he said, talking about migrants taken to the Holot detention center in the Negev desert. “They do what they want. They don’t have any law for us … Because I know if I go over there, I can’t be a human being after.”

This month Israeli authorities began distributing deportation notices to some 40,000 African migrants, who have until April 1 to comply. Nearly all are from Eritrea and Sudan, countries with questionable human rights records. Thousands had entered the country until 2014, when Israel completed a massive border fence.

The deportation plan has sparked outrage in Israel, where groups of pilots, doctors, writers, rabbis and Holocaust survivors have appealed to have it halted. They say the deportations are unethical and would damage Israel’s image as a refuge for Jewish migrants.

Israel contends that most of the migrants are job seekers and cites complaints that they have transformed working-class neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv into unrecognizable slums. Israeli authorities say women, children and families are exempt from the deportation order.

This month thousands of African asylum seekers protested outside the Rwandan Embassy in Israel, calling the deportations racist and urging Rwanda’s government not to cooperate. They claim they have no rights in Uganda and Rwanda and quickly are forced to flee toward Europe through war-torn countries like Libya.

Okello Oryem, Uganda’s deputy minister of international affairs, described reports of a deal to take in migrants from Israel as “fake news,” and in a statement Rwanda’s government insisted it “has never signed any secret deal with Israel regarding the relocation of African migrants.”

Mossi Raz, an Israeli lawmaker who recently traveled to Rwanda and Uganda in a delegation of opposition politicians to investigate the allegations of an official deal with those countries, said his group concluded that the arrangement “does not ensure the safety and well-being of the refugees.”

Raz said the delegation met with two migrants who are believed to be among the few remaining in Rwanda. He said others who were sent from Israel to Rwanda, believed to be in the hundreds or even thousands, were taken to a hotel in the capital, Kigali, for two days and then transferred to Uganda, forced to pay for their travel. He was unsure whether the transfer to Uganda was carried out via official channels.

The two migrants he met, who had been in Rwanda for two and three years respectively, were unable to work and scraped by on the remainder of the money they had received from Israel, he said.

“The refugees will arrive in these countries and will not receive refugee status, their documents will be taken from them and they will be left with nothing,” Raz said. “Rwanda is only participating in this agreement because of the money it will receive from Israel. Senior government officials in Rwanda claimed that such an agreement does not exist and so there is nothing to discuss. We believe such an agreement does exist.”

This month the speaker of Uganda’s national assembly urged the government to explain the alleged deportations. It remains unclear when that will happen. Musa Ecweru, Uganda’s top refugee official, did not respond to a request for comment. The U.N. migration agency’s office in Uganda told the AP it had not been contacted by the government and knew only “bits and pieces” about the alleged deportations from media reports.

Tesfagabr, the Eritrean migrant, is now jobless, without a passport and dependent on his savings to pay the rent. The soft-spoken man said he feels like a prisoner and dreams of relocating to Europe. To relax, he sometimes plays soccer with his friends, fellow Eritreans with a similarly uncertain future.

“I want to start a new life,” he said, fiddling with his phone.

*AP

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John Mahama, Saraki, Yeda, Alakija, Amina J Mohammed to discuss unlocking Africa’s economic potential at Commonwealth Africa Summit 2018
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
The event will encourage dialogue on how to strategize and mobilise valuable African resources that are critical to shaping the continent’s emerging economies
LONDON, United Kingdom, February 20, 2018/ — Unlocking Africa’s economic potential by increasing trade, collaboration and philanthropy within the commonwealth will be at the forefront of conversations at next month’s Commonwealth Africa Summit (http://CommonwealthAfrica.com) in London.

The Summit aims to spark new thinking on how to promote collective action, achieve shared prosperity and common good for Africans leveraging on their relationship with the commonwealth family of nations. Through a series of discussions, the event will encourage dialogue on how to strategise and mobilise valuable African resources that are critical to shaping the continent’s emerging economies.

The 5th in its annual series, the 2018 Commonwealth Africa Summit themed Common Good will have as Keynote Speaker H.E. John Dramani Mahama(Former President of Ghana), Amina J Mohammed (UN Deputy Secretary General), H.E. Senator Bukola Saraki (Senate President of Nigeria), Dr. Hassan Ahmed Hilal (Minister of Environment Sudan), Chief Mrs. Folorunso Alakija (Vice Chair – Famfa Oil), Rt. Hon. Mia Amor Mottley MP (Leader of  Opposition and Former Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados), Dr. Babatope Agbeyo (Chairman Cornfield Group) and others to be announced soon.

Past speakers at the CAS Summit have included HRH Prince Andrew The Duke of York, Gen. Yakubu Gowon; Rt. Hon. Baleka Mbete (Speaker of the Parliament of South Africa), Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Baroness Lynda Chalker of Wallasey; Lord Watson of Richmond; Lord Ahmed of Rotherham; Baroness Uddin of Bethnal Green; Simon Walker, Director General of the British Institute of Directors (IOD); Ministers of Government, Ambassadors and many other Global Leaders.

The 2018 summit will also feature as panellist a wide array of senior Cabinet Ministers and Chief Executives of corporations from Africa and across the Commonwealth including Dr. Hassan Ahmed Hilal (Minister of Environment Sudan), Kate Osamor (UK Shadow Secretary for International Development), Ms. Vivienne Yeda (Director General – East African Development Bank), Mark Pursey (CEO BTP Advisers), Henry Sands (SABI Strategy Group), Isha Johansen (President of Sierra Leone Football Association), Muriel Maupoint (CEO Hope for Children), Sally Anne Wilson (CEO Public Media Alliance), Dr. Justina Mutale (Advisory Board Member – World Leaders Forum), Tim Loughton MPJohn Penrose MP (UK Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Champion), Mark Stoleson (Chief Executive Officer and Partner at Legatum), Martin Realey (CEO Build Africa), Debbie Ariyo (CEO AFRUCA), Tim Wainwright (CEO Water Aid), Paul Smith Lomas MBE (CEO of Practical Action), Dr. Babatope Agbeyo (CEO Cornfield Group and Botosoft Inc), Parminder Vir OBE (CEO Tony Elumelu Foundation), Lord Alan Watson of Richmond (Former Chair of Coca Cola Europe Advisory Board), Dayo Israel(Africa Regional Director, Commonwealth Africa Initiative), Odein Ajumogobia (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Nigeria), Lord Hughes of Woodside(Chair of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM)), Paul Kunert (CEO Joule Africa), Dr. V B Narayanamurthy (Professor, India), Sidney Yankson(CEO Ghana Capital Partners Ltd), Dr. Amy Jadesinmi (CEO LADOL Energy), Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia (CEO ENS Ghana), Paul Kunert, DJ Cuppy Otedola, Dr. Ken Ikpe, Mark TierneyHelen Tarnoy (Founder, Managing Director Aldwych International Ltd), Mr. Omar Selim (CEO Arabeque), Edward George (Country Head, UK Representative Office – ECOBANK Group), and many others.

Key themes and conversations will include:

  • How can we beat Africa’s Water Crisis?
  • Strong Economic Leadership: An imperative for Common Good
  • From Emerging Markets to Sustainable Market – Creating Sustainable economies across Africa
  • Africa for Africans: A New Era of Africa Philanthropic Giving and its impact on the continent
  • Are there disruptive solutions to solving Africa’s Energy and Infrastructural Challenges?
  • Economic Prosperity, Poverty and Human Trafficking in Africa: Finding lasting solutions
  • Climate Change: Issues, Priorities and Solutions for the Commonwealth Africa
  • Will Brexit Translate to opportunities for African Economy
  • Improving Opportunities for African Women: The role of economy, policy and culture
  • Beyond Philanthropy: How do we drive more access to finance for Africa’s budding entrepreneurs?
  • Investing in Africa: Where are the opportunities? Where are the financing gaps? How to successfully direct invest?
  • Which emerging markets are ripe for next generation of private equity financing?
  • How can Africa profit from its creative industries?

With more than 300 global and African thought leaders in government and business expected to attend over the three days, the stage will be set for discussion on issues ranging from trade and investment, entrepreneurship, job creation, economic development, health, security and counterterrorism, and energy.

To register for the event, visit www.CASevents.org/cas2018 or for more information about CAFI’s global chain of events, visit www.CASevents.org. For exhibition, contact Secretariat@CommonwealthAfrica.com.

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Mapping Africa’s natural resources
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

An overview of the continent’s main natural resources.

Africa is a key territory on the global map. Rich in oil and natural resources, the continent holds a strategic position.

Rich in oil and natural resources, Africa is the world’s fastest-growing region for foreign direct investment. It has approximately 30 percent of the earth’s remaining mineral resources.

It’s home to more than 40 different nations and around 2,000 languages. Sub-Saharan Africa has six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies. North Africa has vast oil and natural gas deposits, the Sahara holds the most strategic nuclear ore, and resources such as coltan, gold, and copper, among many others, are abundant on the continent.

The region is full of promise and untapped riches – from oil and minerals and land to vast amounts of people capital – yet, it has struggled since colonial times to truly realise its potential.

Oil and gas

Africa is home to five of the world’s top oil-producing countries, with an estimated 57 percent of Africa’s export earnings from hydrocarbons.

  • Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and Mozambique are all rich in oil and gas.
  • Proven oil reserves have grown by almost 150 percent, increasing from 53.4 billion barrels since 1980, to 130.3 billion barrels by the end of 2012.
  • The region is home to five of the top 30 oil-producing countries in the world, and nearly $2tn of investments are expected by 2036.

Other resources

Besides oil and gas, Africa is rich in precious minerals, forests and:

  • Diamonds: Angola, Botswana, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Gold: Benin, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Mali, South Africa, Tanzania.
  • Nickel and Uranium: Burundi.
  • Pozzolana: Cape Verde.
  • Fish: Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles.
  • Timber: Liberia.
  • Titanium: Gambia.
  • Graphite: Madagascar. 
  • Tobacco: Malawi.
  • Iron Ore: Mauritania.
  • Phosphates: Western Sahara, Morocco.
  • Aluminium and Gas: Guinea, Mozambique.
  • Cooper: Uganda, Zambia. 
  • *Source Al Jazeera
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Coming to America: Lessons from an African Friend
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
 By Fr. Wilfred Emeh*
I grew up at time in Africa when many kids believed that places like Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem were in heaven. Among the world’s nations, they perceived the U.S.A. as the closest to heaven, a paradise on Earth. Indeed, the United States is still viewed as the promised land, flowing with milk and honey. Little wonder families undertook, as they still undertake, enormous sacrifices to ensure that their sons or daughters can travel to America.

 

Today, African immigrants in the U.S. see that, although living in an advanced democracy has its advantages, living abroad is neither a goldmine nor a paradise. But African immigrants in the U.S. and Europe often get a chilling response from relatives and friends when they attempt to express the harsh realities of life in our new homeland. They ask questions like, “If it is like you say, what are you doing there?” Or they contradict us with, “See how you have grown fat!”, as if being “fat” were a sign of wealth. Not believing us, first-time visitors, friends, and relatives often come to the U.S. with a warped mindset that confuses facts with fiction and myths with reality.

Precisely because of such unrealistic expectations, visitors may not understand or appreciate the enormous sacrifices their friends and relatives make in order to host them abroad; sometimes hosting a visitor entails sacrificing some hours or days of work, to offer the best to the visitor, yet some visitors are hardly ever satisfied. Some return home and vow never to come back! Others may anxiously establish relationships with American people, leading to strained relationships whenever their friends or relatives  try to caution them against spurious relationships. Some reject the advice pugnaciously, accusing their immigrant friends of being jealous of their relational skills, and wanting to “block” their supposed connections with their newfound friends. But, we ask, how is it possible to hastily establish relationships with Westerners without knowledge of their values, mores, and ways of life?

Consider the story of a Nigerian priest-friend of mine, Thom, and his friend, Paddy (not their real names). Paddy was visiting from Nigeria, and Thom, who honestly dedicated time and resources to make his guest comfortable. Thom had taken time to give Paddy an orientation on the people and their culture. He cautioned him against requesting material things from people and presenting himself as a desperate person from an African jungle. From time to time, Thom would call him to order whenever he struck the wrong chord. Thom was later deeply embarrassed to discover that his friend begrudged him all this advice. When he got back home, Paddy complained that Thom was overly intrusive in his affairs, even going so far as to say that Thom left him alone in the house without garri. As Thom narrated his ordeal to me, I could see the pain in his eyes–yes, ingratitude cuts the heart like a dagger.

It is rightly said that what goes around comes around. Paddy thought his trip was extremely successful because he had found new friends whom he could get along with, Thom aside. He was determined to keep in touch with these people on a regular basis. He was confident that America would become his second home, as long as his American friends invited him back. But it didn’t take long before people started talking about Paddy, and it came to Thom’s knowledge that Paddy had not followed the advice he was given.

One thing Paddy failed to understand was that Americans like speaking about their encounters with people from other cultures, especially visitors from Africa. They try to understand other cultures through the behavior of their visitors. If you call them regularly and ask for any form of assistance, they wonder whether that’s “a cultural thing”. It is within this context that the same people started to question their new African friend’s behavior. As is typical with Americans, they related details of their encounter with Paddy among a close circle of friends. Within a few weeks, Thom discovered how extensive Paddy’s outreach had been. Now, Thom was obliged to answer some hard questions—his friends found Paddy’s requests, which would have been normal in Africa, to be inappropriate and overly dependent. They wondered if all Africans were so desperate.Perhaps readers of “Cameroon Panorama” may offhandedly dismiss Thom’s story as just an awala problem. No, it is not. It is our problem.

Many lessons can be drawn from the true story of my friend. First, visitors should keep in mind and appreciate the enormous sacrifices that their immigrant relatives and friends make to care for them. It is absolutely necessary, not only to understand, but to equally respect people and their cultures, and to avoid imposing one’s cultural traits on others. For example, when Americans say, “Please come again,” it is not necessarily an open invitation, nor a desire to have you back soon. This is just a polite and affirmative expression. Newcomers may mistakenly consider it to be an actual invitation to come again soon. In no way does this diminish the spirit of hospitality and kindness of Americans, but visitors may need a lesson or two in cultural differences in order to understand this.

Another cultural difference: casual greetings like ‘Hello’ and ‘Hi’ are very much ingrained in the American culture. They are a courteous people; on the elevator, on the train, wherever your paths cross, people extend kindly greetings and can even initiate amicable conversations sometimes. It is true that salutation is not love. This is all the more evident in shops and malls, where first-time visitors from Africa may completely misconstrue the warmth of customer service. I was fortunate to have learned about this from a good friend of mine, who lost sleep one night because he thought a salesgirl had fallen in love with him!

Eric had just arrived in America and went shopping for the first time. The girl attended to him at the shop with broad smiles. “Honey,” she said, “how are you? Have you been having a good day so far?” “Did you find everything ok?” And so on. Because of my friend’s foreign accent, the lady was even more courteous. My ebullient friend was completely carried away. He even shopped more than he had planned to. According to my friend, the lady had fallen in love with him. I could not have thought differently had I not learned this lesson from my friend before I ever went shopping for the first time. Yes, even with my collar on, I am addressed as “Honey” or “Sweetheart”!

Independence and privacy are highly valued in American culture.As an African priest, I have observed how this way of life impacts the diocesan clergy. Parishioners can see priests mostly on appointments; rectories are not easily accessible to visitors. Many priests don’t employ cooks, while others have only part-time cooks, like the parish in which I work. Therefore, priests prepare their meals themselves. People cherish their privacy and independence; no one wants to be a burden on another, and everything is scheduled. In no way does this casts doubts on the friendliness of the clergy, it is all a matter of the complex structure of the society and the way of life of the people.

In a way, visitors are like tourists who plan for their trips accordingly. They make great sacrifices; they cherish their exposure and experience rather than any material benefits. Unlike in Africa, where visitors can pop in any time, and sometimes even expect their uncle or father to pay their transport fare back home, this would be absolutely insane in another culture.

Because of all these cultural differences, as a first-time visitor, it is necessary to listen to the counsel of your immigrant relatives and friends without prejudice. It is rightly said that you should listen to your elders’ advice, not because they are always right, but because they have had more experience of being wrong. It is folly to resist advice or read too much into calls to be cautious. What do your relatives and friends have to gain from “blocking” you or standing in your way, as you imagine? They simply don’t want you to repeat their mistakes, and it is all for your good. Like in the case of my Nigerian friend, first time visitors have run into serious trouble by tarnishing their reputations and even the reputations of their entire countries. Rotten apples in a barrel can spoil the good ones. After all, your behavior speaks volumes about your background. When you visit abroad, always go slow, like the proverbial newly arrived chicken that stands on one leg in her new home, otherwise you would fall prey to our lingua franca proverb: “hurry-hurry broke trouser”.

Of course, visiting abroad for the first time ignites much excitement. But, no matter how excited you may be, also be considerate and discreet. Your host cannot always offer you the same kind of reception you got at your very first visit because of the social and economic constraints of life in the Western world. Just as your enthusiasm wanes after your first or second visit, so too with your host. It is not because they don’t value your visit, but it is presumed that you are getting familiar with the way of life and you can manage your own affairs.

In conclusion, hospitality, kindness, and generosity are cultural traits across the U.S. It is here that I have been blessed firsthand to meet some of the nicest people in my life and ministry. I am equally honored by evergreen memories of visits of relatives and friends from home. Nevertheless, stories like those of Thom and Paddy compel me to deeper reflection on life abroad, with all its facets, in a bid to spare people from repeating the same mistakes and as a road map to prospective visitors. In order to make one’s visit profitable, one must understand the cultural dynamics of the people and steer clear from unrealistic expectations.

*Fr  Wilfred E. Emeh is a Roman Catholic priest ,Communications Professional and author of  the book  New Media and the Christian Family: Experiences from the USA and Africa

 

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NEW STUDY: Grid Electricity and Off-Grid Solutions Alone Are Not Meeting Many Africans’ Energy Demands
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
On-Grid Customers Still Rely Heavily on Off-Grid Energy Technologies, and Off-Grid Customers Want On-Grid Electricity
 
A man uses a solar energy panel to charge electric devices in Diebly, an Ivory Coast village without electricity. (Photo: Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images)

A man uses a solar energy panel to charge electric devices in Diebly, an Ivory Coast village without electricity. (Photo: Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images)

Washington – A new study released today by the Center for Global Development found that neither grid electricity nor off-grid solutions alone are currently adequate to meet many African consumers’ modern energy demands. The survey of consumers in twelve African countries found that on-grid customers still rely heavily on off-grid solutions like generators for their daily lives, and that off-grid customers want access to on-grid electricity.

The researchers analyzed data from mobile phone-based surveys to assess energy service quality and demand in twelve African countries: Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The surveys were conducted between July 2015 and December 2016, and received responses from 39,000 consumers in 28 languages.
“Making electricity more accessible, reliable, and responsive to African demand across the continent should be a priority,” said Todd Moss, a co-author of the report and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. “While many policymakers debate whether grid or off-grid solutions are most appropriate, African consumers don’t view these options as an either-or question. Customers who are on the grid want to be able to use off-grid electricity too. And customers who have off-grid power want access to grid electricity to meet growing demand.”
“Off-grid customers may appreciate the lights and basic appliances like phone chargers that off-grid systems can power, but want to move up the energy ladder toward higher power appliances like refrigerators enabled by a grid connection. At the same time, on-grid customers face a host of reliability issues and thus see off-grid options as an important backup.”
Key findings from the survey include:

  • Daily outages are a norm almost everywhere. Among those with access to grid electricity, at least half cited electricity outages at least once a day across almost all surveyed countries. Respondents in Mozambique, Ghana, and Zambia reported the highest prevalence of daily outages. The country with the lowest prevalence of frequent outages was Rwanda, where only 18 percent of respondents experienced multiple outages per day. In all countries, the vast majority reported at least one outage per week.
  • On-grid customers still rely heavily on generators, especially in Nigeria. Almost half of on-grid respondents in Nigeria relied on a generator during power outages – the highest of any other country.
  • Off-grid customers still desire grid electricity. In most countries, off-grid respondents are not completely satisfied by off-grid electricity solutions and retain a high demand for grid electricity.
  • Off-grid, non-generator electricity is inadequate for most respondents’ energy needs. A significant proportion of respondents across the surveyed countries reported that their off-grid electricity solution did not fulfill any of their power needs. This includes almost two-thirds (65 percent) of Rwandans with off-grid, non-generator electricity.
  • In all countries, the majority desire a grid connection. Demand for the grid was highest in Zambia and Ghana, where over 50 percent said that they wanted an electrical connection very much. In all other countries except Senegal and Benin, demand appears to be high but less passionate. Over two-thirds of respondents without an electric connection indicated that they wanted an electrical connection to the national grid either a little or very much.
  • Satisfaction with service from the grid varies widely. Reported satisfaction with grid electricity ran from Mozambique (74 percent satisfied) and Rwanda (71) at the high end to Ghana (19) and Zambia (27).
  • Connection costs and distance from the grid are the most common obstacles to grid electricity. When asked about the greatest obstacle to gaining access to the national grid, most respondents cited either the cost of electricity, the cost of connection, or the lack of proximity to the grid.
  • Demand is high for energy-intensive appliances, especially TVs. Off-grid households indicate a high demand for energy-intensive appliances, particularly televisions and refrigerators. The survey also asked respondents what appliance they would like to purchase if they gained a grid connection (refrigerator, television, hot plate, radio, or iron). Televisions are the most common aspirational purchase across most surveyed countries.
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IGD U.S. Roadshow Tour will show the thriving business side of Africa-Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych
February 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych President & CEO of IGD

Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych President & CEO of IGD

The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is seeking to use a road show tour to re-shape perceptions on doing business in Africa by highlighting trade, and investment opportunities. Discussing the road show with PAV, Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych President & CEO of IGD says it will show the thriving  business side of Africa. Running from April 18 to 28, the road show will have stops in Washington, DC, New York, Des Moines, Iowa, and Houston, Texas.

The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is embarking a U.S roadshow tour to spur action on increasing U.S. investment in Africa, can put this new initiative in context for us?

The African continent is dynamic and rapidly evolving. We’re seeing some of the fast-growing economies in Africa and a rising influence of homegrown African businesses.  Despite the growth and maturation of the African private sector and markets, many U.S. investors still hold negative perceptions about doing business in Africa.

At IGD, we are very excited about launching the U.S. Roadshow Tour to show the thriving business side of Africa and draw attention to its trade and investment potential to business leaders and investors in the United States.

The U.S. roadshow, which will be from April 18 to 28, seeks to re-shape perceptions on doing business in Africa by highlighting trade and investment opportunities in Africa and to build stronger business connections between U.S. and African companies in key growth sectors in four U.S. cities.

With the maturation of Africa’s private sector, U.S. business leaders now have counterparts to do business with in Africa. A decade or so ago, business largely took place between U.S. business leaders and African government officials. That all has changed.  Today, there are more than 10,000 African companies with revenues of $10 million to $100 million.

Homegrown African businesses are the drivers of growth on the continent and are creating more than 80 percent of jobs in their countries.

The U.S. roadshow tour aims to build stronger, mutually beneficial business relations between the U.S. and Africa.

Why now and what does the IGD hope to achieve or see as outcome?

Well, the trade data says it all. The U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa has markedly declined in the last few years. U.S imported goods from Sub-Saharan Africa totaled $18.9 billion in 2015, an almost 30 percent decrease from 2014, and down 63 percent from 2005.

The US Trade Representative reports that U.S. imports from Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for just 0.8% of total goods imports in 2015.

For U.S. exports, U.S. goods exports to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2015 were almost $18 billion, down 30 percent from 2014.

That has to change. The U.S. roadshow tour aims to show U.S. business leaders that there’s a market in African countries with the right enabling environment and they have counterparts on the ground for business partnerships.

How does the schedule of the roadshow look like in terms of dates, states to be visited and industries or actors who will engage with IGD?

The U.S. Roadshow kicks off in Washington on April 18 with a Capitol Hill reception in Washington and then a forum on U.S. financing of SMEs and Private Sector Engagement Forum on the 19th.

The New York City roadshow stop will be on April 23-24, focusing on finance, trade, and banking industries. Then we’ll travel to Des Moines, Iowa on April 25 to 26 to highlight agriculture and agro-industry. And finally, our last roadshow stop will be from April 27 to 28 in Houston, Texas, looking at opportunities in the energy and power sectors.

The USA is made of 50 States and the IGD is roadshow is limited to four states, what criteria was used in picking the four states and is this initiative a onetime thing or something that will continue ?

The U.S. Roadshow Tour is our first-ever effort to organize gather U.S. and African business leaders across the United States. We selected each city based on our strong connections in that growth sector. We wanted to ensure that we have solid partners on the ground a deliver an engaging and impactful roadshow.

In each city, African delegates will tour a local industry and gain exposure to cutting edge technologies

and innovation in that sector. The next day, a half-day forum and speed networking with U.S. and African private sector leaders will highlight opportunities as well as constraints in the sector, and forge business relationships that will hopefully translate into business transactions.

We’ve partnered with the USAID Trade & Investment Hubs on the U.S. Roadshow Tour to help companies to navigate the African marketplace.

How do you make the case for investment in Africa to the U.S Investors?

The best way to make the case is to show the opportunities. We launched the Africa Investment Rising campaign to showcase Africa’s business and investment potential through multimedia storytelling, blogs and strategic traditional and social media outreach. On a weekly basis, the campaign produces new content for U.S. investors that makes a compelling case for trade and investment in Africa.

 Its been a year of the Trump Administration, what do you make of his African policy?

The Trump Administration’s U.S.-Africa policy seems to be still evolving. Some of the key African Affairs posts still need to be filled and nominations confirmed at the U.S. Department of State and USAID. The nomination for the Millennium Challenge Corporation needs to be confirmed.

Our Government Affairs office will continue to be out front raising awareness about the trade and economic potential in Africa and in helping to shape the key pieces of legislation related to Africa, including swift passage of The AGOA and MCA Modernization Act in the Senate.

One thing we know for sure is that Donald Trump is a shrewd businessman and will be looking for where he can find the best deals. And Africa’s the place.

To those who are interested in joining the roadshow, how can they get on board?

We hope anyone interested in joining the roadshow will log on to our official event site, www.aircampaign.org, to find out more about each roadshow stop and to register.

What other initiatives and programs will the IGD work on in the course of the year?

IGD continues to convene African companies in targeted agricultural value chains to promote market-led solutions to curbing post-harvest losses through the Rockefeller Foundation’s Yieldwise initiative. IGD will, once again, partner with the African Development Bank on the Leadership4Agriculture Forum in Busan, Korea.

We’ll hold a special session on industrialization on the sidelines of the Afreximbank Annual Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria.

The U.S. Roadshow Tour will culminate at our Frontier 100 Forum, to be held on Nov. 5 and 6 in Johannesburg, South Africa, which will be followed by the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum.

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AFRICA IS LOSING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS
February 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Stephen Yeboah*

Resource-rich African countries are facing significant economic headwinds. Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, depends on oil for over 90% of its foreign exchange earnings and three-quarters of government revenue. The slump in oil prices has adversely affected Nigeria’s economic prospects, pushing GDP growth into negative territory to -1.5% in 2016 before bouncing back to 1.4% in the 3rd quarter of 2017.

Zambia, the second largest producer of copper in Africa, has also registered an increase in fiscal deficits to about 10% of GDP in 2016 and plans to trim its fiscal deficit to 6.1% of GDP in 2018. This is due to falling prices of copper, which contributed about 73% of total exports in 2015. In both countries, rents from extractive resources have failed to leverage sustainable economic growth and development. In Zambia, for example, the incidence of poverty did not change, at 60%, during 2000–10, despite a doubling of economic output.

But there are more to the challenges that low commodity prices presents to the economies of Nigeria and Zambia.

Trade misinvoicing[i] represents an additional challenge to both economies too. Between 1996 and 2014, underinvoicing of oil exports from Nigeria to the United States was worth $69.7 billion, equivalent to 24.9% of all oil exports to the United States. Also, oil import underinvoicing amounted to $45.6 billion over the 1996−2014 period. In Zambia over the same period a record of $28.9 billion of copper exports to Switzerland, which is more than half of all its copper exports, did not reflect in Switzerland’s import statistics.


Figure 1: Sources of illicit financial flows

The practices of misinvoicing in Nigeria’s oil and Zambia’s copper exports and imports reflect the challenges that illicit financial flows (IFFs)[ii] presents to Africa’s extractive sector. IFFs accounts for a significant share of total capital flight from developing and emerging economies. According to the Global Financial integrity’s latest report this year, sub-Saharan Africa leads all other regions for illicit outflows – estimated at between 7.5% and 11.6% of total trade in 2014. These outflows translate into $36 billion to $69 billion.

Trade misinvoicing, which is a major aspect of illicit financial flows, is a bottleneck on Africa’s growth and opportunity [see Figure 1: forms of illicit financial flows]. It denies African governments billions of dollars in foreign exchange and taxes revenue each year. It also weakens political and economic institutions that are key to state building because the underinvoicing of exports and overinvoicing of imports make it harder for concerned state institutions to impose and collect taxes and levies.

In Africa, the extractive sector, which is a major driver of economic growth and source of revenues, is more prone to illicit flows. The features of the extractive sector – high level of complexity and revenue-generating potential; cross border supply chains; high degree of technological specialization – make it particularly susceptible to the various forms of illicit financial flows. From 2001 to 2014, the extractive industries made up nearly two-thirds of exports from African countries – with oil and gas alone accounting for close to 50% of total exports. The expansion of the of the extractive sector has increased foreign direct investment in Africa from $10 billion to $50 billion between 2000 and 2012. Countries like Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mozambique, Central African Republic are expected to register improved growth, to be driven by the extractive industry.

What do the numbers on illicit financial flows reveal in terms of missed development opportunities? African governments are denied the finance needed to bridge the continent’s huge infrastructure deficit. Let’s take energy, for example. Today, two-thirds of Africans – over 645 million people – lack access to electricity. The continent’s power outages is costing it some 2-4% of GDP per year. Africa lost up to US$69 billion from illicit financial flows in 2014. This is more than the total annual financing required to meet Africa’s energy and climate adaptation needs of about $66 billion:  $55 billion for energy [from 2015-2030] and $11 billion for climate adaptation [up to 2020] (see: Figure 2).


Figure 2: Cost of illicit financial vis-à-vis financial needs for energy and climate adaption. Source: 
Africa Progress Report 2015 ‘Power, People, Planet’.

The good news is that some international and regional initiatives have picked up in countering illicit financial flows. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in September 2015, have under Goal 16 a target that countries will “by 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime”.

The High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, established in 2012 at the 4th Joint African Union Commission/United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (AUC/ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, has undertaken some measures to create awareness at country levels and to initiate steps to strengthen institutions to counter these practices. The African Development Bank, in its High 5 Agenda, has committed to the fight against illicit financial flows. The AfDB is currently in the process of developing a Bank-wide policy and strategic framework on the prevention of illicit financial flows in Africa.

Africa needs to come up with integrated regional measures and countries need their own policies too. The region must have a dedicated tax information exchange across countries, importantly with countries that host multinational companies. Countries must coordinate to ensure data accessibility from other jurisdictions, including arrangements for automatic exchanges of information with other countries.

The African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), launched in 2009 and with 36 member countries, has ramped up its effort to find solutions to curb illicit financial flows. But this is not enough. African countries must sign onto the Addis Tax Initiative to commit to enhance the mobilisation and effective use of domestic revenues.  So far 13 African countries have joined the initiative. Several African countries provide for the negotiation of Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs), but in practice this mechanism is not applied. Other state institutions also avoid undertaking tax avoidance work. Governments must act. One way of boosting domestic resources to finance development is curbing illicit financial flows, which is prominent in the Africa’s extractive sector.

The continent should not only plug the holes of illicit financial flows, but make its political and economic systems work in terms of deploying functional state institutions to enhance taxation. This demands a coordinated regional approach between different jurisdictions.

By: Stephen Yeboah, Political Guru at BBN Times & Former Research Consultant, African Natural Resources Center, African Development Bank (AfDB). This article was first published by the African Development Bank. This is exclusively my view and not that of the AfDB nor BBN Times.

[i] Trade misinvoicing involves illicitly shifting tax liabilities across jurisdictions involving deliberately misreporting the value of a commercial transaction.

[ii] According to the Global Financial Integrity, Illicit financial flows represent illegal movements of money or capital from one country to another. GFI classifies this movement as an illicit flow when the funds are illegally earned, transferred, and/or utilized.

*Source BBN Times

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