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Protesting Climate Change, Young People call at World Leaders to take action
September 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Mohammed M.Mupenda

Worried about their future on a hotter planet, calling the world leaders for taking action to arrest the crisis, hundreds of thousands of young and adults people marched into the streets on Friday for a day of global climate protest.

About three hundreds youths including sierrans club in St.Louis gathered friday to demand action on climate change, as part of global movement of youngsters demanding politicians and government act toa halt environment catastrophe.

They all gathered at St.Louis City hall, coming from different areas of Missouri State, some had to bike, walk, ride and park their cars 200 miles away and foot to begin their strike with placards citing the climate change effects and the call to the government to tackle the issues.

“Floods are getting worse” 16 -year-old activist Olivia Thomson Wrote on her poster “ the concerned bodies should take action.”

Strikes were planned in each of the 50 United States. By late morning, protesters across the Eastern, Western, Southern and northern of St.Louis were moving out of schools and office buildings, pooling around steps of local city halls.

Another placard by a 80 year-old walking on a stick read “Climate change is the issue if we don’t do something nothing else will matter, “

In the neighbouring States including Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio,  around 400 protesters such as youth and adults with signs gathered outside the State Capitol  under a cloudless sky, sweat rolling down their faces as temperatures hovered around 84 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 28 Celsius to take part in what are set to be the largest global climate protests in history .

In Kampala, Uganda early morning the protest was also attended by most high -profile young activist leah Namugerwa,15, who created waves when she began  her own solitary school in february before others joined her. Adult climate activities and environmental groups also took part.

As morning arrived farther west, banners in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, ranged from serious to humorous. One read, “Climate Emergency Now.” Another said, “This planet is getting hotter than my imaginary boyfriend.”

An early test of the student protests will come on Monday when world leaders assemble at United Nations headquarters to demonstrate what they are willing to do to avert a crisis. Their speeches are unlikely to assuage the youth strikers, but whether the youth protests will peter out or become more confrontational in the coming weeks and months remains to be seen. More protests are planned for Monday in several cities.

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16 coaches from Africa shortlisted as “Future Stars” by Arsenal and WorldRemit
September 20, 2019 | 0 Comments
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Mo Ibrahim Foundation to launch first ‘African Governance Report’ in 2019
September 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

The report uses data from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) to further governance analysis in Africa

Mo Ibrahim

Mo Ibrahim

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of the first comprehensive African Governance Report. The report will be published online at mo.ibrahim.foundation on 15 October 2019.

Based on IIAG data, the report will focus on: Governance and Africa’s implementation of the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It will highlight the importance of using data to analyse the growing governance challenges and opportunities that must be addressed to drive sustainable development in Africa.

In this report, the Foundation will highlight gaps in the availability of sound data to track and measure progress. It will issue a call for national and international players to work together to urgently address these gaps, which will be critical to encouraging and directing development progress across the continent.

The African Governance Report will:

1)  Examine the governance environments needed to achieve progress towards Agenda 2063 and the SDGs and the links between these, highlighting common areas and major challenges

2)  Identify progress in these areas and data gaps, both in terms of national statistical offices but also vital statistics and civil registration

A new report in response to new challenges

Africa is at a critical turning point. While governance across the continent has continued to improve, new challenges and needs from stakeholders and citizens have changed this landscape.

The scope of public governance has expanded to include new challenges for existing topics, and new needs, such as access to quality healthcare and environmental sustainability. Meanwhile, transformative frameworks, such as the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), now pave the way for Africa’s development agenda, and contribute to defining policy priorities towards political, social, environmental and economic progress.

In response to these developments, the Foundation will publish the African Governance Report with unique insights around these frameworks, challenges and opportunities.

Strengthening the use of our data

As the largest source of data on African governance, the IIAG is a key tool for African countries to measure the environment around achieving transformative frameworks, such as the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the SDGs.

Good governance remains at the core of Africa’s development and the report. The Foundation holds the most comprehensive assessment and collection of data on African governance ever undertaken using 90 indicators and 150,000 data points across 54 countries to assess performance.

With a view of continually improving the IIAG, expanding its scope to include new challenges and data, and making use of its wealth of information and growing dataset, the Foundation will release new data with updated scores, ranks and trends every two years, with the next iteration in 2020.

Between the biennial updates of the IIAG dataset, the Foundation will publish additional data-driven research publications and tools to support Africa’s stakeholders with resources for evidence-based decision making and policy debates, alongside the comprehensive African Governance Report, based on the IIAG.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006 with a focus on the critical importance of leadership and governance in Africa, by providing tools to assess and support progress in leadership and governance.

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) provides an annual assessment of the quality of governance in African countries and is the most comprehensive collection of data on African governance.

With over ten years of data to draw from, the IIAG is uniquely positioned to measure trends in governance, providing in-depth analysis on how the quality of governance has changed, and what has or could be key to Africa’s transformation.

In every iteration, MIF – assisted by the IIAG’s Advisory Council – looks at improving the structure, components and methodology of the IIAG. Due to this revision, MIF recalculates all scores in the Index for each iteration.

Previous iterations of the IIAG covered data from 2000 onwards. The 2018 IIAG, for the first time, provided comparable governance data for the last decade only, to strengthen the robustness of the findings.

In 2018, an assessment of youth inclusion was also made part of the IIAG. Through the indicator Promotion of Socio-economic Integration of Youth (provided by Global Integrity), the Index assessed whether there is a government policy/strategy to increase the socioeconomic integration if youth.

The IIAG contains analysis across 102 indicators from 35 independent African and global data institutions to cover all 54 African counties in the areas of Safety & Rule of LawParticipation & Human RightsSustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.

The IIAG Data Portal is a user-friendly interface that offers a bespoke analysis of governance ranks, scores and trends for each country. Users can create printable charts and graphics from the data.

Access the IIAG Data Portal directly: http://iiag.online/

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Russia Spreading Its Tentacles Across Africa
September 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Scott Morgan*

Russian President Putin with President of Central African Republic Faustin Archange Touadera.

Russian President Putin with President of Central African Republic Faustin Archange Touadera.

When it comes to special operations in Central Africa initiated by the Russians most thoughts and conversations focus on the operations conducted within the Central African Republic over the last two years as either a point of contention or outright fear in some Capitals. But once again history is again repeating itself in Africa.

There have been allegations that after the 2016 Presidential Elections in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) that the incumbent President Soussou-Nguesso reportedly hired a Russian Private Military Company to put down the unrest in the vital town of Pointe Noir that occurred after the controversial polls. There was virtually no coverage of the influence in this election. It should be noted that when President Soussou-Nguesso was President for the first time Brazzaville was considered to be an ally of what was then the Soviet Union.

Also when it comes to Russian Operations in Central Africa even though it is not considered being part of Central Africa, the role of Sudan cannot be ignored. Khartoum has been used as a transit and logistics hub for its Operations in CAR. The Change of leadership that recently took place within Sudan will have an impact on Russian Operations in Central Africa. Russia was one of the countries that was coaching the Military in how to react during the final days of the Bashir regime. It would be wonderful if this dynamic was looked into. For the near future it should be taken as a fait accompli that whatever projects are launched in the region by the Kremlin it will have some form of presence in Sudan.

Another aspect that has been proving to be interesting regarding Russian Activities in the region is the media coverage regarding them or the efforts by the Putin Government and their allies to manipulate their coverage of the activities. One needs to recall the incident where four journalists for a Russian Opposition news site were ambushed and killed in the Central African Republic. That only occurs when a party wants an activity to be shielded from public view and scrutiny.

Another action taken by the Russians to spin events into their worldview has to be the deals to provide content to some African Media Outlets by either Sputnik or RT (Russia Today). A perfect example happens to be the deals reached with RTNC (National Radio and Television Corporation) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. RT was the first entity to reach a deal with the Congolese in November 2018, Sputnik has reached a similar deal in May of 2019. This effort in the DRC has been a success for Moscow. When Russia celebrated the fifth anniversary of the annexation of the Crimea , one of the largest events was actually held in Kinshasa.

Another tactic that Russia is using ties between the Duma and local legislatures on the ground. Once again the topic focuses on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is already a Russia-DRC Friendship Group already in the Parliament of the DRC. This is a simple and easy way for Russia to not only to promote its agenda in Africa it can be done in such a way that most other powers that have interests in the region such as the former colonial powers of France and Belgium and even the United States could find themselves be left on the outside without realizing what they allowed to Happen has indeed taken place without their ability to properly address the situation.

*The author is President of Red Eagle Enterprises and the views expressed are his.

 

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Kenya cuts 2019/2020 budget amid crisis
September 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma | @journalist_27

Acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani

Acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani

In less than four months since the former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich unveiled the budget for the 2019/2020 fiscal year, the government has chopped the financial plan by 2.1 per cent which is equivalent to $445 million (Ksh.46.2 billion).

Announcing the changes on Thursday, the acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani said the cuts aim at non-essential matters such as foreign travel, trainings, communication supplies, printing and advertising and purchase of furniture. Other expenses to face the chop are use of government vehicles and general supplies. The cut will also cut across hiring, salary increase and restriction on new development projects.

Yattani noted the government has been forced to take the move due to drop in revenue collection caused by trade-offs and reallocations of the existing budgetary provisions. The government had resorted to borrowing to plug the budget deficit increasing the public debt to 55 per cent of GDP from 42 per cent since 2013.

On June 13 this year Rotich announced $302 billion (Ksh.3.02 trillion) June/July budget, higher than previous years’, drawing criticism from people of different walks. He was castigated for subjecting struggling Kenyans to additional taxes. The ex-Treasury boss was shown the door by President Uhuru Kenyatta after he was implicated in the multi-billion dam projects scandal.

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Murdoch to help empower 1,000 entrepreneurs across Africa by 2022
September 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
Murdoch hosted Kingdom Business Network (KBN) Chief Executive Officer Joarina Matthys and four of its entrepreneurs to participate in a panel at the 9th Annual Africa Australia Research Forum
From left to right: Pr Lyn Karstadt, Deputy Vice Chancellor International at Murdoch University; Jillian Hudson, entrepreneur and member of KBN; Joarina Matthys, CEO of KBN; Pr Eeva Leinonen, Vice Chancellor at Murdoch University; Caroline Yonke, Dr Lebohang Fadiran and Dr Keitumetse Mothibeli entrepreneurs and members of KBN

From left to right: Pr Lyn Karstadt, Deputy Vice Chancellor International at Murdoch University; Jillian Hudson, entrepreneur and member of KBN; Joarina Matthys, CEO of KBN; Pr Eeva Leinonen, Vice Chancellor at Murdoch University; Caroline Yonke, Dr Lebohang Fadiran and Dr Keitumetse Mothibeli entrepreneurs and members of KBN

PERTH, Australia, September 11, 2019/ — A new partnership between Murdoch University (www.Murdoch.edu.au) in Western Australia and the South African-based Kingdom Business Network (KBN) took a first step towards formation after a visit to Perth for Africa Week by a delegation of five of its members.

The KBN is a programme created and funded by the South-African diversified investment company, the Beryl Group, to inspire entrepreneurs to create and acquire sustainable wealth, enabling them resources and training to build and develop their communities and positively impact their generation.

Murdoch hosted KBN Chief Executive Officer Joarina Matthys and four of its entrepreneurs to participate in a panel at the 9th Annual Africa Australia Research Forum and meet with Murdoch Alumni, members of the Perth African diaspora and entrepreneurial community.

The KBN was founded 10 years ago by Neverl and Beryl Kambasha and has a goal to empower 1,000 entrepreneurs across Africa by 2022.

“We are passionate about developing quality entrepreneurs who will have a positive impact on their communities,” Ms Matthys said.

“After 10 years of operation in South Africa we have made the decision to expand our reach, to other parts of Africa and to seek partnerships within Australia, including with Murdoch.”

Murdoch University Africa Research Group Chair David Doepel said Murdoch was keen to understand what structures facilitated creative and innovative thinking, and to harness the formidable African brain power globally.

“This is absolutely critical to Africa’s participation in the creation of the 4th Industrial revolution,” Mr Doepel said.

“Our digital interconnectedness holds great promise, but it only works if we have the human networks formed to leverage the digital ones.

“We have been exploring how we can be more embedded with each other to ensure the success of this burgeoning phenomena on the continent.”

Mr Doepel said there were 314 tech hubs in Africa in 2016, which had grown to more than 618 in 2018.

“More than 50 per cent of those tech hubs have incubators with in-kind support for idea and early stage start-ups, developing innovations in agtech, healthtech and fintech focused on African solutions for African opportunities.

“Coming together to ensure the success of these entrepreneurs, and finding ways to straddle continents with ideas that lead to businesses that solve problems, exploit opportunities, create jobs and deliver inclusive growth, is the work we must support.”

Ms Matthys said the KBN could also provide a trusted partner for companies interested in investing in African companies or your partners in Africa.

“A key role we play is developing and maintaining strategic partnerships to create a web of networks for our entrepreneurs as well as for people looking for opportunities in South Africa and Africa generally.

“We understand how government and local systems work; if you don’t know who to trust we are the place to come to.

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Kenya rolls out landmark malaria vaccine introduction
September 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
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Africa Logistics Properties holds Supply Chain Networking Breakfast Forum to tackle current challenges in the East African Region
September 17, 2019 | 0 Comments
L -R Maruza Chikwanha- Development Director Africa Logistics Properies, Richard Hough, CEO Africa Logistics Properties. Tariq Arain, Sub Regional Development Manager, EA, Kuehne + Nagel. James Rusty Eason, Global Technical Adviser, Global Cold Chain Alliance. Joseph Kariuki, Head of Transport - Freight Forwarders Solutions. Tim Steel, CEO Copia

L -R Maruza Chikwanha- Development Director Africa Logistics Properies, Richard Hough, CEO Africa Logistics Properties. Tariq Arain, Sub Regional Development Manager, EA, Kuehne + Nagel. James Rusty Eason, Global Technical Adviser, Global Cold Chain Alliance. Joseph Kariuki, Head of Transport – Freight Forwarders Solutions. Tim Steel, CEO Copia

The event brought together key stakeholders in the Logistics and Supply Chain sector with the aim of generating industry solutions

NAIROBI, Kenya, September 17, 2019/ — Africa Logistics Properties (ALP) (http://www.AfricaWareHouses.com/), a modern warehousing solutions company hosted a Supply Chain Networking Breakfast Forum in celebration of it’s second anniversary since the completion of phase one – ALP North at Tatu City’s Industrial Park. The event brought together key stakeholders in the Logistics and Supply Chain sector with the aim of generating industry solutions.

Speaking at the event, Africa Logistics Properties CEO Richard Hough said, “Since setting up operations in Kenya, we as an organisation have noticed various challenges in the East Africa’s Supply Chain ecosystem. We are delighted to have our first supply chain breakfast event as a way of creating dialogue to solve some of the key challenges many business’s experience within the Supply Chain ecosystem as well as align key international best practices that are relevant and can be applicable to the East African Region.”

He further added, “With ALP logistics centres we are able to provide a key part of the solution and improve distribution in Kenya by streamlining the supply chain and logistics processes. Through eliminating shipping and transportation challenges, establishing better ways of storing goods and the effective use of technology.”

Africa Logistics Properties’s flagship project ‘ALP Nairobi North’ is Kenya’s first international standard grade-A logistics and distribution centre. The project consists of 47,000sqm of grade-A international standard warehousing on a 22-acre site. The first two phases of the ALP North park are over 82% leased and the third final phase of 19,600sqm was delivered in May 2019.

ALP Nairobi North won the Best Industrial Project in Africa award at the 2018 Africa Property Awards and also achieved the World Bank’s EDGE building sustainability certification – the very first industrial warehousing complex to achieve this benchmark in Africa.

Frank Mwiti- Partner Ernst & Young

Frank Mwiti- Partner Ernst & Young

In addition to ALP Nairobi North, ALP has also commenced construction of its second logistics and industrial project called ALP Nairobi West on a 49-acre site in Western Nairobi. ALP West is situated on the A104 highway towards Limuru, with planning approval for a 100,000 sqm logistics and distribution warehousing complex, the largest in East Africa. This second project aims to attract smaller more modern warehouse units, similar units at ALP North and specialized built to suit options for business’s seeking to move away from traditional land ownership to focusing on their core businesses.

ALP’s strategy is to identify demand-led investment opportunities within Africa that will generate strong returns for its shareholders through the development of industrial real estate projects whilst improving logistics and infrastructure in the markets in which ALP operates, according to Hough, a strategy that saw the company win Best Industrial & Logistics Development in 2018 at the Africa Property Investment Awards (API) held in South Africa.

Farida ABBAS- CEO British chambers of commerce Kenya

Farida ABBAS- CEO British chambers of commerce Kenya

About Africa Logistics Properties (ALP):
Africa Logistics Properties (ALP) (http://www.AfricaWareHouses.com/) is a specialist integrated property investment company that develops, acquires and owns class-A industrial and logistics properties in principal cities across Africa. ALP leverages its team throughout the region via a deep understanding of global customer and logistics demands, international best practices in warehousing design specifications, construction and property management along with local expertise in market dynamics, site selection and regulatory approvals. ALP is supported by global institutional shareholder investors and chairman Nicholas Ferguson CBE. The company is currently developing Nairobi’s first international grade-A logistics warehousing parks.

ALP was started by Toby Selman in 2016 to address the lack of modern warehousing and distribution centres across Africa. ALP’s strategy is to identify demand-led investment opportunities within Africa that will generate strong returns for its shareholders through the development of industrial real estate projects whilst improving logistics and infrastructure in the markets in which ALP operates.

The CEO Richard Hough of ALP was part of the founding management team of Raven Russia Plc, a London Stock Exchange listed property company that specialised in bringing modern warehousing infrastructure to Russia https://www.TheRavenPropertyGroup.com

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African Leaders converge in Accra for maiden edition of Kofi Annan Peace and Security (KAPS) Forum
September 17, 2019 | 0 Comments
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Andela Restructures Talent Pipeline to Meet Global Market Demand
September 17, 2019 | 0 Comments

Lagos, Nigeria. Tuesday 17 September 2019. Andela, the company that builds distributed engineering teams with Africa’s top software engineers, is announcing the departure of approximately 250 junior engineers and staff from its Nigeria and Uganda hubs with another 170 potentially impacted in Kenya. The move comes as the company looks to restructure its talent pool to more closely align with global market demand.

Andela is now working with all impacted and potentially impacted employees and is committed to providing a holistic professional and financial support package.

In addition, the company is partnering with CcHUB (Nigeria), iHub (Kenya), and Innovation Village (Uganda) to help connect impacted developers with opportunities in their local ecosystems. Together, they have identified over 60 companies who are looking to hire top quality junior engineering talent. These hubs will also offer impacted engineers the opportunity to use their co-working spaces free of charge for the next three months.

Jeremy Johnson, Andela co-founder and CEO says: “As the talent world has evolved, we have as well, and over the past few years it’s become increasingly clear that the world needs what Andela provides: high-quality engineering-as-a-service. It has also become clear, however, that the majority of the demand is for more experienced talent, and to keep up with it, we need to grow our senior talent base even faster.

“This shift in demand also means that we now have more junior talent than we are able to place. This is a challenge for the business, and for these junior engineers who want, and deserve, authentic work experiences that we are not able to provide.”

Beyond this restructure, Andela continues to grow rapidly with plans to hire an additional 700 experienced engineers by the end of 2020. Today’s announcement will not affect Andela customers’ operations, as the company evolves to deliver even stronger engineering support for their teams.

Seni Sulyman, Andela VP of Global Operations says, “Our immediate priority is to ensure that our colleagues who are affected by this change are well supported to succeed in their next career moves. We are in talks with tech leaders across Africa, who have been very supportive in exploring opportunities for these talented Andelans. We are also focusing our attention on providing adequate support for the rest of Andela during this period, as we continue to build a world-class engineering organization.”

Moving forward, the company will continue to invest in the Andela Learning Community (ALC), which has already introduced over 30,000 learners from across the continent to software engineering. Over the next three years, the company expects over 100,000 engineers from across the continent to take advantage of  programs within the community.

Johnson concludes, “Five years ago, we launched Andela to solve a global challenge: Brilliance is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not. To succeed in our long-term mission, we have to make tough decisions to continue growing a company that we know will change the way the world thinks about talent.”

About Andela

Andela is a global technology company that builds distributed engineering teams with Africa’s top software engineers. In five years, Andela has hired more than 1,500 software engineers, with its largest engineering centres in Lagos, Nairobi, Kampala, and Kigali, a growing presence in Cairo and Accra, and offices in NYC, SF, and Austin.  Backed by Generation Investment Management, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV, and Spark Capital, Andela is powering global engineering teams while catalyzing the growth of tech ecosystems across Africa.

 

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US Firm Pioneer Energy Exec says “Billions at Play” gives a roadmap for attracting US Investment to Africa
September 17, 2019 | 0 Comments
Africa is one of the few investment frontiers left where large margins can still be realized
Ann Norman

Ann Norman

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 9, 2019/ — Leading African energy attorney NJ Ayuk is confident that a more equitable and prosperous Africa is within reach. He outlines the avenues individuals, companies and governments can pursue to realize that future in his new book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

Among other things, Ayuk believes Africans need to have better control of their resource wealth—specifically the riches that lie in the continent’s largely unexploited oil and gas basins. At the same time, he knows Africa is not completely ready to go it alone: the knowledge and technical prowess of American multinational energy companies are essential to both exploration and production. In recent years, however, as those businesses turned their attention to prolific U.S. shale, they’ve pulled out of opportunities they consider riskier, and that includes Africa. However, recent market trends based on regulatory political decisions have proven risky in US markets. Africa is one of the few investment frontiers left where large margins can still be realized, and it’s time America started taking these opportunities seriously.

In Chapter 17, American Ingenuity and African Oil and Gas Potential, Ayuk analyzes those risks, separates fear from reality, and puts forth strategies for attracting American investment, including more lucrative production sharing contracts. The result is a formula Ann Norman, Pioneer Energy’s General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, supports.

“Like me, Ayuk sees opportunity all around him, and he realizes that appropriate development will solve many of the continent’s challenges, including power generation,” Norman said. “In his chapter about American ingenuity, he recommends a number of thoughtful approaches Africa can take to foster American oil and gas investment. For one, Ayuk advocates looking at investments from the American point of view. Is the government stable? Has it always honored foreign contracts? Ayuk knows there are too many competing interests for American dollars for Africa to be able to overlook any details and still win.”

Ayuk also makes a strong case for more women to join the leadership in Oil and Gas. “He marks this as a priority when it comes to making Africa taking its true place in the world,” Norman said.

Colorado-based Pioneer Energy is working on solutions to help curb gas flaring in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, as well as other markets in Africa. These efforts have largely been spearheaded by Norman, who moved to Nigeria to play a more active role in the country’s energy industry. Throughout her career, Norman has been instrumental in introducing U.S. companies into emerging African markets, as well as showcasing and driving foreign direct investment in Africa, particularly in the healthcare, energy and infrastructure spaces.

NJ Ayuk is founder and CEO of Pan-African corporate law conglomerate, Centurion Law Group (https://CenturionLG.com/); Founder and Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/); and co-author of Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity (2017).

He is recognized as one of the foremost figures in African business today.

Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Order your copy today.

https://amzn.to/2kClffJ

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Cameroon, Guinea, South Africa….NDI’s Dr Chris Fomunyoh On Africa’s Shrinking Democratic Space
September 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy, and must fight for inclusive and accountable governments says, Dr Fomunyoh

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy, and must fight for inclusive and accountable governments says, Dr Fomunyoh

While it may be heartening to see how much Africa has changed in the past three decades, the rate at which the successes of political transitions of the 90s are been rolled back should be of concern to everyone says Dr Christopher Senior Associate for Africa at the Washington, DC based National Democratic Institute.

A seasoned professional who has played a leading role in some of the most successful stories of democracies in Africa since the early 90s, Dr Fomunyoh says it is disappointing to see the prevalence of armed conflicts, opposition leaders been thrown in jail, elections being stolen, and constitutions amended by leaders who want to perpetuate themselves in power.

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy and  must continue to fight for inclusive and accountable government, says Dr Fomunyoh in an interview with Ajong Mbapndah L for Pan African Visions.

Speaking with passion about his native Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh says the overall situation looks bleak, and the country’s future precarious. Describing the recent trial of Anglophone leaders as a travesty of justice, Fomunyoh says their sentencing further aggravates the Anglophone crisis and deepens the mistrust, and bitterness that exists between Anglophones and the government of President Paul Biya.

“We must maintain the pressure for dialogue because it is the only means through which this conflict could be brought to an end and the legitimate grievances of Anglophones addressed in Cameroon,” Dr Fomunyoh says.

For the dialogue announced by President Biya  to be credible, the government must create an enabling environment in which participants feel that the dialogue would be open and broad based, allowing for different viewpoints to be heard, says Dr Fomunyoh.

“The government must also take confidence-building measures to show that the call for dialogue is sincere. Notably, the killings must stop, the arbitrary arrest and detention of young Anglophones must end, and people who are detained unjustly should be released immediately,” Dr Fomunyoh said.

Considering that many Anglophones have lost trust in the Biya government, Dr Domunyoh said the burden will be  on the government to show that it will not steamroll participants to obtain a predetermined outcome.

Dr Fomunyoh, you have just returned from Guinea Conakry, an African country that has tremendous resources, but has experienced difficult political transitions in the past. What is your overall assessment of the situation there in the lead-up to national elections scheduled for 2020?

You are so right, Guinea is a country with so much potential given its mineral wealth that includes some of the world’s highest reserves of bauxite and iron ore, and timber and water resources. Unfortunately, the impact of past military and authoritarian rule is still being felt, and citizens still crave an improvement in their well-being in this age of democratic government. The overall political situation in Guinea is tense and polarized, as the country prepares for legislative and presidential elections which have to be conducted between now and December 2020. On top of that, there is speculation that the country could run into a major crisis over whether to adopt a new constitution or not. Political parties, civil society organizations, labor unions, academics and other opinion leaders are already taking sides on the airwaves and various social media platforms. Many Guineans remain hopeful that the day would come when a democratically elected president transfers power through the ballot box to his successor, something that has not happened since the country gained independence in 1958.

Dr Fomunyoh in discussion with President Alpha Conde of Guinea where the overall political situation is tense and polarized, as the country prepares for legislative and presidential elections

Recently in Cape Town, South Africa, as a guest speaker at the joint conference co-organized by the University of Cape Town and the Kofi Annan Foundation, you stated that “political space is shrinking across Africa.” What leads you to that conclusion?

First let me say how uplifting it was to be at the University of Cape Town for a conference in memory of two great sons of Africa — Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan — who as world leaders epitomized the best of humanity in terms of their vision and commitment to promoting human dignity, development and world peace. I was truly honored to be invited.

In the spirit of Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, it is heartening to see how much Africa has changed in the past three decades: political pluralism is now common practice in all African countries, independent media continues to grow, the continent’s youth are becoming politically engaged, and, increasingly, political power is being transferred through the ballot process. Who could have thought that in Sudan, by the sheer determination of citizens engaged in civil protest, a thirty-year autocracy under General Al-Bashir would collapse! At the same time, one must state the disappointment that in too many African countries some of the successes of political transitions of the 1990s are being rolled back. Armed conflicts are still prevalent, opposition leaders are being thrown in jail, injustice is being inflicted on ordinary citizens, elections are being stolen, and constitutions are being amended by leaders who want to perpetuate themselves in power.

So what should Africans do about the democratic backsliding?

African democrats must not relent in their advocacy and fight for inclusive and accountable government. We need more open political space to engage citizens across the board and harness the rich diversity of talent and expertise that our continent possesses. We must find ways to galvanize our human capital to best utilize the countries’ wealth to improve the wellbeing of our fellow citizens. For this to happen, we have to learn to aggregate our efforts as opposed to operating in silos, we have to build alliances across the continent so that the good guys can support each other and draw inspiration from each others’ successes. The next generation of Africans expect from us a better continent than we may have inherited from the generation before us.

The next generation of Africans expect a better continent from its leaders,says Dr Fomunyoh here with President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso.

The next generation of Africans expect a better continent from its leaders,says Dr Fomunyoh here with President Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso.

 

You were in South Africa around the week of xenophobic attacks by South Africans against Africans of other nationalities. What do you make of these attacks and how was the mood like while you were there?

It is sad and despicable to watch Africans being killed by other Africans for no other reason than their countries of origin. Nelson Mandela and other founders of today’s democratic and free South Africa would be turning in their graves, because they would remember the contributions by other African countries to the liberation struggle. Without the frontline states that include countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia, and Nigeria, perhaps we would not have South Africa as we know it today.  Even if South African youth are exposed to many challenges such as high levels of unemployment, lack of opportunities and a sense of abandonment by the state, that still cannot explain why they would take out their grievances violently against fellow Africans. It is my hope that the government of South Africa would draw the appropriate lessons from this unfortunate incident and come out with well-crafted programs that can provide a safety net for the less fortunate of South African society, and a sense of safety and security for other Africans that choose to live in this beautiful country.  That tragedy also exposes the failures of other governments across the continent whose citizens now feel obliged to flee their homeland to become refugees in foreign lands, because of political repression or because of lack of economic opportunity. What’s happening in South Africa today must prick our collective conscience as Africans.

Coming now to your home country of Cameroon, what is your assessment of the political situation there, in what shape is the country?

Cameroon is in bad shape. Thousands of Anglophones have been killed, others in their thousands are in detention centers spread across the country; members of security forces have lost their lives in hundreds; over two hundred villages have been burned; 40,000 Anglophones now live in refugee camps in Nigeria and 600,000 others are internally displaced, now living in other regions of the country. For three years running, schools have been unable to open in the Anglophone regions of the country. The United Nations estimates that close to 1.4 million Anglophones could be at risk of famine, all because of the ongoing crisis.

At the same time, the runner-up in the last presidential election, Professor Maurice Kamto, and hundreds of his supporters — many of whom are lawyers, economists and other professionals — are being detained in Yaoundé, with some charged to appear before a military tribunal.

The country also continues to battle Boko Haram extremists in its extreme north region that borders north-eastern Nigeria and Chad. The overall situation looks bleak, and the country’s future precarious. There is reason to be alarmed.

Getting into more recent developments, what is your take on the heavy jail sentence slammed on the Anglophone leader Julius Ayuk Tabe and others?

In my opinion, the sentencing of Ayuk Tabe and 9 others to life imprisonment by a military tribunal in Yaoundé is a travesty of justice on multiple fronts, notably the conditions of their arrest and extradition from Nigeria; their detention incommunicado for an extended period of over 9 months; their trial before a military tribunal constituted only of French speaking military judges; and the all-night trial that ended with a ruling at about 5 am in the morning.  There is no doubt in my mind that this sentencing further aggravates the Anglophone crisis and deepens the mistrust and bitterness that exists between Anglophones and the government of President Paul Biya.

The heavy sentence came at a time when there are increasing calls for dialogue, what impact do you think this could have on prospects of dialogue?

This life imprisonment goes contrary to the vein of recent pronouncements in favor of dialogue by the government, multiple opinion leaders, the African Union and the international community. We must maintain the pressure for dialogue because it is the only means through which this conflict could be brought to an end and the legitimate grievances of Anglophones addressed in Cameroon.

As a seasoned professional on governance and conflict resolution, what proposals do you have for a way out of the present crisis?

I have been consistent in advocating for dialogue and in putting forward ideas that could help the country resolve this crisis. As recently as November 2018, I presented a 10-point agenda on concrete steps that could have been taken at the time to bring an end to the conflict. Since then, the situation has gotten worse, more lives have been lost, and the increasing number of victims only reinforces the urgency of concrete actions that must be taken to end the massacres and conflict. As I’ve stated over the years, I’m willing to put on the table how that roadmap could be implemented, were there to be an open platform and a genuine effort to end this crisis and get the country out of the mess in which it currently finds itself.

On Tuesday, September 10, President Biya addressed Cameroonians and, for the first time in three years, he discussed the crisis in the North West and South West regions in some detail. What is your reaction to the speech?

Modern day governance and crisis management demand that leaders be more proactive in communicating with citizens when countries face crises of the magnitude of what Cameroon has gone through over the past three years. It is good that President Paul Biya finally spoke directly to this crisis. The promise of a national dialogue is commendable, although I wish that the rest of the speech was less accusatory and provocative, so as to create an environment in which the dialogue could actually begin.

Dr Fomunyoh in the company of Barrister Agbor Balla Felix believes that only dialogue and thorough solutions to the legitimate grievances of Anglophones could end the conflict in Cameroon

Dr Fomunyoh in the company of Barrister Agbor Balla Felix believes that only dialogue and thorough solutions to the legitimate grievances of Anglophones could end the conflict in Cameroon

You have always called for dialogue, and now President Biya says there will be one starting by the end of September. What are some of the necessary ingredients for successful dialogue and a lasting solution?

First, for the dialogue to be credible, the government must create an enabling environment in which participants feel that the dialogue would be open and broad based, allowing for different viewpoints to be heard. The government must also take confidence-building measures to show that the call for dialogue is sincere. Notably, the killings must stop, the arbitrary arrest and detention of young Anglophones must end, and people who are detained unjustly should be released immediately. Cameroonians still remember that a similar national dialogue in the early 90s came up with recommendations, most of which were ignored by the government. It is therefore important to send strong signals that the underlying grievances of Anglophones would be addressed, so they feel that the outcome of the dialogue would restore their dignity and what they have lost during this crisis. Given that many Anglophones have lost trust in the Biya government, the burden is on the government to show that it will not steamroll participants to obtain a predetermined outcome.

Given that President Paul Biya is 86 years old and his legitimacy is questioned in some quarters, do you think Biya is in a position to resolve the crisis in Cameroon?

I have serious doubts that a president who is 86 years old, has been in power for 37 years, and has always been aloof and distant from the population can all of a sudden change his governance style and put in the energy and effort required to resolve the crisis. In the past three years, the magnitude of the crisis has grown exponentially, and it now has ramifications both across the country and internationally; I have strong doubts that the Biya government alone can find a way out. Other actors of good will, nationally and internationally, must step in given that trust has been severely broken between the Biya government and a sizeable chunk of the Anglophone population.

What do you think accounts for the levity with which the rest of Africa, and the broader international institutions like the African Union and the UN have treated the crisis in Cameroon?

I agree that the international community has been slow to respond to the crisis, and so far there have been more declarations than concrete actions. At least, some countries and organizations such as the United States, Germany, the European Union and recently the French Foreign Ministry, have been calling on President Biya to change his approach to the crisis and to engage in genuine dialogue. The United Nations recently expressed its support for a Swiss-led effort to mediate between the government and Anglophone secessionist movements, and the Security Council even held an informal debate on Cameroon in May. However, these measures are insufficient as the conflict continues unabated. One would have thought that after the Genocide in Rwanda in 1994, declarations such as “Never again” would prick the conscience of the international community so as not to allow crises like the one in Cameroon to fester. I truly hope that the African Union and the international community can step up their engagement to bring peace to the country.

You are familiar with the way Washington works; can you help us better understand the different Congressional resolutions that have come up of recent on Cameroon?

I am heartened by the interest shown in the Cameroon crisis by the United States Congress, and I urge Cameroonians and friends of Cameroon to continue to educate members of Congress as well as the international community at large on the devastating nature of this crisis and its negative impact on millions of Cameroonians. Recently, Congresswoman Karen Bass, who is the Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee, led a congressional delegation to Cameroon to hear firsthand from Cameroonians and victims of the crisis. Congressional resolutions, especially when passed on a bipartisan basis as we’ve seen in the case of Cameroon, carry a lot of weight. They capture the voice of the US Congress on an issue, and also have the capability of influencing the executive branch of government in its foreign policy approach. The European parliament, the German Bundestag and other important bodies have made similar pronouncements which help raise the level of awareness of the magnitude of the crisis, both within Cameroon and internationally. Hopefully, more concrete actions will follow.

One of the Congressional resolutions called for a return to the Federation that existed between 1961 and 1972. Do you think that could work?

At a minimum, such a concession could create the space for rebuilding trust, given that the government in power was part of the team that dismantled the first Federation in 1972. Moreover, when the current crisis broke in 2016, the Biya government would not entertain proposals for federalism, and even went as far as banning public discussions on the subject. For peace to prevail, Cameroonians will have to sit around the table and agree on a structure that can guarantee for every citizen his or her liberties and the preservation of their culture and dignity. It is inconceivable that Cameroon could rebuild without acknowledging the specificities of its English speaking population.

What is your take on the issue of school resumption?

As you may be aware, The Fomunyoh Foundation which has been active since 1999 has as one of its priorities to promote and support education in Cameroon. The Foundation has over the years distributed books and other school materials and organized public speaking events in academic institutions in all regions of the country. This underscores my personal commitment to the education of the younger generation. In the context of the ongoing crisis, education entails more than just having kids in a classroom. The back-to-school campaign to be successful, has to be part of a comprehensive package that includes among others, overall peace in the Northwest and Southwest regions of the country; reassurances from both the military and armed groups that neither students, nor teachers, nor parents would be shot at or harassed; that the curriculum is relevant; and that the kids can ultimately be guaranteed a future. This requires a deep analysis and proper preparations to make it meaningful. I am saddened that some people are treating this matter as mere sloganeering for political advantage.

If the government calls on the expertise of the seasoned professional that you are, will you be willing to provide it?

For the past two decades, I have been consistent in raising concerns about how the country was being governed. I have been pained and truly aggrieved by what has happened to the Anglophone community in the past three years. It has been disappointing to see how legitimate grievances by lawyers and teachers were summarily dismissed by the authorities, and subsequently how other socio-political grievances that were brought to the fore were violently repressed. Here we are, with thousands of fellow compatriots killed, others in detention, in refugee camps and internally displaced – all of which could have been avoided. Under those circumstances, one has an obligation, if called upon, to contribute ideas and recommendations on how to stop the killings and get out of this mess.

Some people have mooted ideas for a transitional government led by someone neutral that could help the country wade through the myriad of crises it is facing.  First, what do you think of the idea and secondly were this to happen and you were asked to preside over a transition, is this something you could consider?

With each passing day, as these multiple — Anglophone, political, and security — crises we just discussed  endure, my faith in this government’s ability to resolve all of them diminishes. At the same time, the current constitution of the country doesn’t allow for a transitional government as you allude to, and so I do not see how this could come about.

Dr Fomunyoh making a donation to internally displaced persons ,the UN estimates that close to 1.4 million Anglophones could be at risk of famine because of the ongoing crisis.

Dr Fomunyoh making a donation to internally displaced persons ,the UN estimates that close to 1.4 million Anglophones could be at risk of famine because of the ongoing crisis.

What lessons will a future Cameroon and the rest of Africa learn from this crisis?

Many. For example, that a people would rise up if their dignity is trampled upon; that truth, honesty and other democratic values matter for people’s trust in their government; that preventive diplomacy would save us and our continent a waste of human capital and human resources; and that it is incumbent on our generation to shape and give meaning to institutions that should improve the wellbeing of our fellow citizens.

So, what’s ahead for you and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) over the next year?

In the coming year we will be paying very close attention to the transition process in Sudan, as well as political developments across the Sahel and in the Horn of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region. We will also be paying close attention to upcoming competitive elections in countries such as Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique and Niger Republic. The beauty of this all is the partnerships that NDI has with civic and political organizations across the board in all of the countries in which we work. They are the true champions of democratic development in their respective countries, and our role is to give them the support and solidarity that they need to succeed.

* Full Interview Will feature in September Issue of Pan African Visions Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

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