Visa Free by 2018? Africa’s Open Visa Policy
June 30, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Michelle DeFreese*
African citizens currently face some of the most stringent visa restrictions in the world. According to the Africa Visa Openness Index Report launched by the African Development Bank (AfDB), citizens of African countries require visas to travel to 55% of countries within the continent. Within the next two years, however, the implementation of a proposed common visa policy under the African Union’s (AU) 2063 Agenda, a strategic document outlining the vision for African development, could profoundly impact the continent in terms of intra-regional trade, economic development, and regional integration.
While the AU’s visa-free travel proposal represents both challenges and opportunities for the security and economy of Africa, previous examples by regional communities and individual countries suggest that the benefits will outweigh the risks. As the plan moves from policy to implementation, the African common visa policy has the potential to impart substantial economic incentives through the removal of trade barriers, increased tourism and investment opportunities, and job creation.
The AU’s 2063 Agenda contains plans for a common visa policy with three primary components: visa-on-arrival for all African nationals, mandatory granting of a minimum 30-day visa for African citizens visiting any African country by 2018, and the ambitious goal of a single, continental passport by 2020. Challenges of implementing the plan include associated risks of widespread economic migration, the movement of illegal goods, cross-border terrorism, and the issue of stateless individuals. Nevertheless, significant progress has been made – regionally and nationally – with benefits that demonstrate the effectiveness of the policy in terms of stimulating economic growth.
The importance of regional integration was also discussed during the 2013 AfDB Annual Meeting, during which Professor Mthuli Ncube, AfDB Vice President and Chief Economist, stated, “Africa is one of the regions in the world with the highest visa requirements. Visa restrictions imply missed economic opportunities for intra-regional trade and for the local service economy such as tourism, cross-country medical services or education.”
Thus far, regional communities within Africa have made variable progress towards the goal of a pan-African, visa-free policy with largely positive results and spillover effects: the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) introducedfree movement between member states in 1979; a single visa is in place enabling nationals of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) free movement; a common visa policy unites Zambia and Zimbabwe; and the East African Community (EAC) now has a single tourist visa available for visitors to Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda coupled with an East African passport that allows citizens freedom of movement within the trading bloc. Following the adoption of the EAC common visa policy, both Uganda and Rwanda benefited from increased tourism revenues by 12% and 8% respectively. According to the AfDB’s Africa Tourism Monitoring Report, comparable visa liberalization schemes could increase tourism by 5-25%.
Individual countries, including the Seychelles, Ghana, and Rwanda, have also made significant efforts to ease visa restrictions on travelers. The Seychelles is one of the few visa-free countries that does not require a visa for citizens of any country upon arrival. After adopting the policy, international tourism arrivals to the country increased by an average of 7% per year between 2009 and 2014. Ghana has adopted the 2063 Agenda’s visa-free policy, which will be formally introduced in July 2016. Rwanda in particular has made significant strides to ease visa restrictions for African nationals, and provides an important example of the potential for the adoption of the visa-free policy in other countries. According to the AfDB, Rwanda’s 2013 visa-free policy for African nationals resulted in several positivebenefits in terms of economic development; these include an estimated 24% increase in tourism arrivals from African countries and a 50% increase in intra-African trade. Trade with the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone increased by 73% since the implementation of the policy.
Beyond the implications for the continent, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, has suggested that visa-free travel within Africa could potentially reduce emigration to other continents. At the same time, reduced visa restrictions will necessitate advances in electronic border management systems and improved interoperability of security architecture to address the increased risks of trafficking and cross-border crime.
Examples of the successful implementation of visa-free policies by regional communities and individual countries – and the benefits that have followed – are compelling arguments for the implementation of the AU’s common visa policy for the continent. For a continent that is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world and a burgeoning middle class, the dissolution of barriers to trade, increased free movement, and bolstered tourism will foster an unprecedented growth of untapped markets critical for the realization of thecontinued rise of Africa.
*HuffPost.Michelle DeFreese is a consultant with the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) based in Tanzania. She completed her Master’s degree in International Relations at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and is an Africa Fellow at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.
Who should pay for African peacekeeping?
June 26, 2016 | 0 Comments
The problem for African peacekeeping is not so much where to find the boots to put on the ground, but how to pay for them – not to mention the helicopters, intelligence-gathering and technology crucial to conducting modern military operations and dealing with the new security threats on the horizon.
Since 2002, none of the five African Union peace operations have been financed through the AU’s Peace Fund, except for an allocation of $50 million for the African-led International Support Mission to Mali in 2013. The slogan of ‘African solutions for African problems’ falls a little flat when financing mainly comes from the European Union, individual European donors, and the United States.
But an AU summit at the end of July in the Rwandan capital Kigali hopes to change all that. African leaders are going to try to agree on a roadmap of alternative financing for AU-led peace support operations.
The meeting will explore innovative approaches – taxes on hotels, flights, text messaging, even a percentage of import duties – to self-generate 25 percent of peacekeeping costs by 2020: a significant step forward. The AU hopes that level of commitment would persuade the UN to cover the remaining 75 percent.
What happens now?
The AU wants to make funding sustainable and predictable. At the moment it’s neither. More than 90 percent of the AU’s peace and security budget is financed through the EU’s African Peace Facility. Since the APF was established in 2004, the EU has committed more than €1.1 billion.
But what is given can also be withheld. At the beginning of the year, the EU cut its allocation to the allowances of the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by 20 percent. The reasoning: there were other “competing priorities in Africa and the world in general”, including the need to shift resources into training the Somali National Army.
AMISOM, which has battled the al-Shabab insurgency for nine years, currently absorbs more than 85 percent of APF spending. The UN also provides a non-lethal logistics “life support” package that includes fuel, food, and health services. Nevertheless, AMISOM remains an under-manned, under-equipped and bare-bones operation.
Troop-contributing countries reacted with anger to the EU’s suggestion that they should make up the shortfall on allowances. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta argued that African troops were paying in blood for what is an international peace and security remit. Both Kenya and Uganda have threatened to withdraw their soldiers.
Who pays the piper
The EU’s policy shift exemplifies the problem of the ad hoc nature of the funding. “The challenge is that the financing for these types of missions is not fit for purpose,” said a senior AU official who asked not to be named. “It’s a hodge-podge. We can’t go on like this, passing around the hat.”
The AU has on paper a comprehensive security architecture, but little of its own money to pay for it. The organisation lost its main benefactor with the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and its other major contributors – Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, and Egypt – are all going through tough times. Dependency on external financing not only determines which conflicts the AU can intervene in, but also dictates when the missions must end.
At the beginning of the year, the AU appointed Donald Kabureka, former president of the African Development Bank, as its high representative for the Peace Fund. His role is to find the resources that will enable African contributions to hit 25 percent of the fund’s budget, and to lobby international partners towards securing UN assessed contributions for the remainder.
It hasn’t been plain sailing. Some members, including Kenya and Egypt, have frettedover the impact a proposed $2 hotel tax or $10 levy on air tickets would have on their tourism industries. Zambia argued that the surrendering of national taxes was a violation of citizens’ rights.
“There are also concerns over the accountability of the Peace Fund, which will be the repository of the funding,” said the senior AU official. “Little has been done on transparency and fiduciary rules.”
According to Paul Williams of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, Kabureka is embarking on a tricky two-step process.
First he needs buy-in from the member states at the Kigali summit. “Once the AU settles on what its Peace Fund will do and how it can be filled with appropriate funds, then the UN and AU must agree on how the UN should help support African peace operations,” Williams told IRIN.
The UN recognises that AMISOM represents something of a model for future peace operations. The UN envisages more regional interventions authorised by the Security Council, and regards the AU in particular as a key partner. The AU has shown itself willing to deploy in situations where there is “no peace to keep”, and which in the case of Somalia involved the bloody slog of house-to-house combat in Mogadishu. Hardly the traditional role for UN blue helmets.
Apart from the AU’s willingness to take on enforcement operations, it also has the advantage of speed. In response to the violence in Central African Republic and Mali, the UN authorised the rapid deployment of AU peace support missions, interventions that were later re-hatted as UN operations. Ten of the UN’s 17 current peace missions are in Africa.
The AU sees the way forward as a formalised partnership with the UN under the mandate of Chapter VIII of the UN charter, which authorises collaboration with regional organisations.
“Such a partnership should be based on the principles of burden-sharing, comparative advantage and division of labour, to better address the complexities of today’s conflicts,” an AU discussion note said.
Last year, a High-Level Independent Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, established by the UN secretary-general to review peace operations, recommended that the UN should support AU-led missions on a case-by-case basis. That qualification falls short of “African expectations of more open-ended commitments in terms of institutional cooperation and financing”, noted a report by the European Centre for Development Policy management.
In the past year, there has been a series of reviews, framework documents, and common position papers exploring the steps to greater convergence. But there are still institutional and political challenges that could make working together difficult for both organisations – the ECDP paper noted financial and budgetary control mechanisms and compliance with UN peacekeeping principles.
The AU has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to combatting sexual violence and protecting human rights in its deployments – key concerns of some UN member states. The (underfunded) pillars of its security architecture also uphold the importance of pursuing conflict prevention and early warning – the mediation and political avenues – before getting to boots on the ground.
It’s not clear where the Western, permanent UN Security Council members – the US, France, and the UK – sit in terms of using UN-assessed contributions to finance AU peace operations. “I would say it’s too soon to attribute definitive positions to any of the key players at this moment in time,” said Williams.
But in a presentation earlier this year on regional approaches to security, he argued: “If Africa cannot find sustainable, predictable, flexible funding, then it raises questions of credibility, local ownership and sustainability.”
Without it, he added: “African states and organisations will never fully be in control; never own the agenda”.
THE SOUL OF THE BLACK RACE: TERRORIST FIGHT THYSELF?
June 26, 2016 | 0 Comments
Chief Charles A. Taku*
Permit me to repost an article I published in the very reputable Pan African Vision sometime late last year. The decision to republish it is informed by the urgency of the message I wish to bring to the attention of the public.
In the reposted article below, I stated that a careful observation of some of the characteristics of Boko Haram pointed to the fact that although undoubtedly a terrorist organization, it seemed also to be a political tool at the service of political interests working independently or in aggregate in or out of Africa.
The politicization of terrorism is not new. It is not an African creation. It is a significant driving force behind the struggle for power and control at national and international levels. For this reason, it should surprise no one that some of those who set out to lead the war against terrorism made the conditions that led to terrorism possible. Also, once engaged in the war against terrorism, they gain politically from their participation in the war. At times it is by political calculation as opposed to pure military and security objectives that these individuals and forces define the enemy; evaluate and allocate the resources required to sustain the war effort, and the ways and means of wining the hearts and minds of the civilian victims of the war against terrorism.
One of the difficulties in conducting the war against terrorism is the paucity of an acceptable definition of terrorism. Terrorism so far eludes a universally acceptable legal definition leading instead to the criminalization of acts of terror. This however has not precluded some countries and organizations from defining terrorism in manners that suit their national, geo-political and hegemonistic interests to justify a declaration of war or participation in it once it is declared.
The world today is confronted with terrorism and terrorist organizations as actors which were not in contemplation in 1946 at the creation of the United Nations. The UN Charter in its article 51 did not contemplate the fact that non state actors will play an important role in international relations. The UN Security Council and state parties, led by the super powers and power blocs under their control have been innovative in pushing the frontiers of international legality to the extent of establishing new legal concepts to justify their military interventions in several armed conflicts worldwide. The use of these new legal concepts as justification for military interventions has impacted the international law environment where diplomacy and the instrument of international rule of law were hitherto the acceptable means of fighting impunity. These traditional means of fighting impunity promoted and encouraged the enthronement universal peace for all nations, big and small. The implementation of these new concepts have created new conflicts and conferred legitimacy on some criminal non-state actors; in the result, contradicting the very rationale for which these policies were conceived.
Through its Responsibility to Protect Mandate for example, the Security Council in contemporary times validated the NATO intervention in the Balkan conflict. This led to the indiscriminate massive bombardment of the territory and civilian population of the former Yugoslavia. These would have been categorized as war crimes and investigated as such had the key to international justice not been in the hands of the super powers members of the Security Council and NATO.
NATO’s unjustified bombardment and near destruction of Libya led to Libya becoming a terrorist haven and the Launchpad for intercontinental terror. Similarly the US intervention in Iraq on the fallacious ground that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was non-compliant with a UN Security Council Resolution emboldened the forces of terror worldwide. In particular it emboldened US and its coalition of the willing supposed allied jihadists who unsuccessfully fought for years using terror to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The legitimacy accorded these non-state actors jihadist forces and terrorist organizations contributed to the spread and use of terror as an instrument of political expression and acquisition of power.
Eluding a clear definition and a UN Charter authority, some of the measures undertaken to counter the emerging challenges posed by these non-state actors have in context been interpreted as acts of terror making the prosecution of terrorism as an international crimes hard. Just as terrorism threatens our common humanity, the uncontrolled bombardment of civilian populations and civilian targets violate the Laws and Customs of War and the Geneva Conventions (1949) and constitutes a significant to our common humanity as well. Whereas the civilian population of the world is protected against the perpetration of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other international crimes and the Geneva Conventions (1949) offers a general legal framework for the prosecution of these crimes when they occur, the crime of terrorism still lacks an adequate legal frame work to prosecute. This is slur on the conscience of humanity .
Unfortunately the so-called free world which prides itself as the custodians of civilized human values have contributed to the rise in profile of international criminal gangs and international criminality. The French and UN bombardment of Cote D’Ivoire caused massive civilian casualties and facilitated regime change. In the Libyan situation, NATO intervention and the UN Security Council support for the said intervention accorded a de facto recognition to criminal gangs and terrorist organizations that were classified as allies and provided the training and weapons to fight to overthrow and assassinate Mouamar El Kaddafi. ISIS and other criminal gangs today control Libya, a sovereign African nation thanks to NATO intervention and the UN Security Council support.
Libya today is a symbol of death for the Libyan people. It is a symbol of death for the rest of humanity judging from the hundreds of thousands of Africans immigrants led loose to die in the Mediterranean sea by criminal gangs now occupying and ruling Libya. Facilitating the death of these African immigrants provides these gangs with the resources with which to sustain its hold on the territory of Libya and to further the perpetration of their criminal activities.
The effect and impact of these unprecedented acts of international lawlessness on the African continent and the humanitarian immigration tragedy in the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean as well the rising profile of terrorist groups in the African Sahel is heart wrenching. The massive amount of weaponry that the French army dropped to these criminal supposed allies to fight to topple Kaddafi; allies who were well known terrorists, today accounts for the devastation caused by terrorists in their senseless slaughter of armless men, women and children throughout the African Sahel and beyond.
This is but part of a complex web of criminality on which Western peddlers of supposed democratic values rely on to justify regime change, or encourage and sponsor their stooges and political lackeys to ride on the wave of terror inflicted on the citizenry in their African vassal states to power. A critical review of the manner in which the war against terror has been fought in Nigeria a year after President Buhari came to power; in Cameroon, Chad and Niger establishes a pattern that justifies my opinion in the Pan African Vision that Boko Haram is hated and loved in equal measure by power seekers in the Boko Haram war afflicted countries.
Although a significant ally in the regional war against Boko Haram, Nigeria has so far considered the war against Boko Haram within its national territory as an insurgency. This has implications in international law regarding the character of the conflict. Yet the national and trans border devastation caused by the Boko Haram war against mainly civilians and civilian targets was serious enough for President Buhari to ride on the disaffection with the inability of his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan to end the insurgency among other factors to power. He did so, by promising to end the insurgency within his first hundred days in power. Like most of his election promises, this has proved to be false. It is predictable that by mere political calculations, by the end of his first mandate in three years Boko Haram will still be a stark reality in the lives of Nigerians.
Many observers believe that had President Buhari deployed the same zeal he has deployed to selectively target his PDP political opponents in his war against corruption in identifying and incapacitating the sponsors of Boko Haram, its resources and its elaborate terrorist structure, the Boko Haram insurgency would have ended in his one hundred days in power. That he has not done so and will not predictably do so lest it opens a can of warms that may lead right to the political structures and the resources that brought him to power is becoming a reality by the day. One of the known resources that is close to the Buhari political establishment and which he shares a platform with Boko Haram is political Islam. The elaborate confederate structure of Islamic political power brokers in Northern Nigeria believes in the northernisation of power in Nigeria. It is hard to enquire into and investigate the elaborate network and resources of Boko Haram and other violent political networks in essentially feudal Northern Nigeria without unsettling this powerful Islamic political base. Its influence transcends the entire northern political power establishment.
In Cameroon, the French neo-colonial contraption that took over power after the assassination of the total-independence ideological leaders deployed state terrorism as a tool of political control and economic despoliation. The genocide of the Bamileke’s and the Bassas; the ongoing state terrorism against citizens and the territory of Ambazonia (Southern Cameroons) and the rise of Boko Haram gave the regime of personal power for half a century, a viable reason to justify its eternalization political power supposedly to face the challenges posed by terrorism. This neo-colonial policy, a variant of the so-called the policy of France-Afrique requires the fueling of internecine conflicts and terrorism to justify control by France of its African vassal possessions.
The fact that Cameroon and Nigeria needed the intervention of France to join forces to combat a supposed common enemy despite the fact that the Lake Chad Basin Commission to which both countries belong provided a multilateral regional treaty framework to join forces to confront this challenge, better explains the negative neo-colonial mindset of supposed leaders of independent African countries and the neo-colonial political patronage sustaining the conflicts and their power base.
This painful assessment of the African condition and that of the black race in the fight against terrorism is a powerful indictment of African intellectuals, in particular lawyers, African politicians, and most important African masses. It challenges the black race and Africa to critical soul searching on how to bring peace and development to our troubled continent. Africa and black people the world over must stop portraying ourselves as laughing stocks.
The number of black peoples and Africans in particular dying in painful circumstances fleeing from a continent at a self-destructive wars with itself but which prides itself as the depository of a majority the world’s natural resources must prick our consciences to critically think about how to protect our continent and resources for our common good.
The time to proclaim an end to neo-colonial remote- controlled governance by proxy has come. The time to stop the plunder of the resources of the continent is now. The time to say no to the individual and collective slaughter of our own people is now. The time to say no to diseases that are devastating Africa and the black race is now. The time to put an end to the search of power for the sake of power is now. The time to put an end to massive corruption and abuse of power is now. Africa and the black race must rise again to say no to impunity. Africa must demonstrate that it can stand and survive on its own and provide African solutions to African problems.
To set this agenda rolling, we need to go back to the drawing board and invoke the spirits and seek the inspiration of the pioneers of black emancipation, genuine freedom, and self-preservation like Marcus Garvey, Osageyfo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore, C.L.R James, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Milton Obote, Patrice Lumumba, Ruben Um Nyobe, Ernest Ouandie, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Zik of Great Africa, Anthony Enahoro, Aminu Kano, Augustine Ngom Jua, Nelson Mandela, Amilcar Cabral, Agostino Neto, Samora Machel, Bate Besong, Fontem Asonganyi, Thomas Sankara and many others to recommence a genuine discussion about the issues confronting us to seek genuine solutions.
We must look ourselves in the mirror of history, scrutinize our past to find out what went wrong; the present to seek lasting solutions to enable us confront the future with visionary hope. . The black race in general and Africa in particular can no long accept to be used as guinea pigs on which new concepts in international criminal justice are tested in foreign far away courts while we have the capacity to end impunity and criminality against our people.
Lest we forget the many wars in the continent and the proliferation of weapons and resources used in prosecuting these wars have eluded investigations by the ICC, the UN Security Council and the Ad Hoc Tribunals established to investigate supposed African crimes. These crimes and the distinctive category of perpetrators may never be investigated by the governments of the afflicted African countries either. It is common knowledge that Africa does not manufacture the weapons used to commit these crimes on the African continent. It is also common knowledge that the weapons are supplied to foment the armed conflicts by individuals, countries and forces out of the African continent. We call them arms for minerals merchants. To request and expect investigation of these weapon merchants tantamount to tasking terrorists to investigate themselves. This will be a tough sell to largely external criminal syndicates to whom Africa has sold its soul.
Chief Charles A. Taku
PAN AFRICAN VISION
BOKO HARAM: REDEFINING THE ENEMY
By Chief Charles A. Taku
There is a fundamental obligation in all armed conflicts (internal, international or mixed) for conflicting armies to define the enemy. This definition is often reviewed to take into consideration the complexity of the conflict, the nature of the enemy, and the resources at its disposal, its intelligence gathering capacity, its operational capability and its war efforts. Without this definition, the danger is great, that military operations may be deployed towards the wrong targets, undermining the war effort, security policy and the perpetration of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
DEFINING THE ENEMY
Although the definition of the enemy is the preserve of every army high command, the responsibility to conduct this highly sensitive assignment is conducted under civilian political supervision. The Head of State, Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, is holder of the constitutional mandate to defend the security of the state and its citizens. How this delicate assignment has been conducted in the ongoing war against Boko Haram in the countries engaged in this extremely complicated and unconventional war is hard to say. It will be unusual if anyone outside a Military High Command of any or all armies worldwide will ever know the definition of the enemy. It is the most restricted document ever. In any case, it is the very heart beat of any army; indeed, the lifeline of any country’s security and defense. If the document defining the enemy were to be captured or exposed to public scrutiny, the army involved in armed conflict may well surrender. It will be futile to persist in battle under these circumstances.
REBUST PUBLIC DISCUSSION
This article does not seek a redefinition of the enemy in the ongoing war against Boko Haram out of the context of classical laws and customs of war, military law or humanitarian law, or the national security needs of each participating country. I have relied on certain contextual factual and legal assumptions which make it impracticable for me to address the content or context of a participating army’s definition of the enemy.
However, considering that the war against Boko Haram did not happen in a vacuum, but within socio-cultural, religious and political contexts, it is but reasonable to urge the leaders and citizens of the countries afflicted by this vicious armed conflict to engage in robust public discussions about whom this enemy is and who it is not. Doing so, will enable protected populations, armless civilians and persons not participating in the war to know and appreciate the efforts deployed to protect them from the scourge of the senseless slaughter to which the ravaging criminal gang has subjected them with so far no visible end in sight. The discussion is also required to enable the citizenry and policy makers to identify the indicators, and the enabling environment that prompts the despair which entices our priceless youth to join this and other criminal gangs in the hope that they are a panacea to societal injustices suffered by them.
Citizens of the participating countries in the war against Boko Haram have for long been misinformed that Boko Haram is an organized group of uneducated religious perverts fighting against Western European education and alleged Western European values. This definition of Boko Haram seemed simplistic even at face value. The distain and opposition to Western Education and values presupposed a commanding knowledge of the said education and values. The constituting members of Boko Haram cannot therefore reasonably be said to be uneducated youth at least in the supposedly Western European sense. This is discernible from the manner they operate, their use of social communication, technology and the sophistication of their strategical and tactical military actions.
WHAT THEN IS BOKO HARAM?
The degree of sophistication of the operational capabilities, the organizational structures, the intelligence gathering ability and logistical efficiency of Boko Haram portrays it as a well-organized military organization with reasonable political objectives. Its ability to attack, capture and hold territory and a well-publicized resolve to carve out a caliphate in the territories within which it operates attests to this reality.
The religious motivation for the war is not enough to explain the wider objectives of Boko Haram to establish a caliphate in the territories it is fighting to control. The geo-political, economic, cultural, religious and environmental outlook of the said territories portray its objectives as potentially wider than those portrayed or publicized over time.
Boko Haram overtime is emerging as a confederacy of distinct interests comprising various political actors in search of power and domination in the wider sub-region. Its territorial ambition stretches throughout the Africa Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin, West and Central Africa. As Boko Haram itself has acknowledged, it has a functional and ideological alliance to and subordinated to ISIS and Al Qaeda.
It may also be reasonably speculated that it has a functional alliance with local power seekers and power brokers. These opportunistically function as parts of the puzzle that sustain the campaign of terror that promises to significantly define the politics and future of the afflicted countries and societies within which it operates. Boko Haram was and is a political factor in the local, national and international politics of the participating countries in this war. This may explain the inability of politicians in the respective countries to appropriately or adequately address the underlying motivations and reasons that lead to components of the citizenry in the respective countries to take up arms against their own governments and fellow citizens, many of the victims, Muslims the religions they are alleged to fight to enthrone.
There can be no doubt that some politicians in some of the participating countries love and resent Boko Haram in equal measure. Some have benefited from the war politically and /or economically. Boko Haram has become a factor and fixture of national life in the participating countries. Some politicians actually rode on the back of the frustrations of disaffected Boko Haram youth to power. Having relied on them to wage campaigns of mayhem to undermine their political adversaries’ capacity and ability to end the devastation of the war and its underlying causes, these politicians are incapable of delivering on their campaign promises to end the war once in power. They are even incapable of calling Boko Haram by its real names which are: misery, social exclusion, excruciating poverty, economic alienation and life of hopelessness. They are incapably of doing so, for fear of being challenged to provide solutions to these enabling factors that pushed the youths into the welcoming hands of Boko Haram.
Strategically mischaracterizing a supposed enemy on whose back they rode to power, apart from being hypocritical, it negates the reality that Boko Haram did not just happen; it has been in the soul of our youth for so long. It will remain so, until governments come up with clear attainable programs to tackle this stain on our collective consciences. To attain this objective, the governments must admit that “Bokoharamism” is now a reality and part of the national shame in participating states. This fact must be publicly acknowledged before realistically providing enduring solutions to the war and its underlying causes.
The jobless youths who have fueled the ranks of Boko Haram may not have been driven by ideology when they were sought and accepted to join. They did so due to a desire to seek sad alternatives to social exclusion and hopelessness. Frustration arising from the policies and politics of exclusion that lead to lives without hope, societies without a future, and predatory vampirism of opportunistic selfish politicians are responsible for the revolt of these youths. These factors make them ready raw material for revolution within Boko Haram or other criminal gangs.
In societies where Boko Haram is not yet present, deep resentment of government expressed through the search for revolution resides in many jobless youths. The ongoing campaign against Boko Haram not with-standing, many more youths will readily join armed gangs targeting their governments whom they rightly or wrongly consider to be the enemy. With the promise of a better life fighting to change the institutions and governments that promised them hope and delivered misery and death, many of the youth similarly placed are but time-bombs of potential conflicts. There is an impending need for urgent solutions to the problems that have made placed African youths on the path of revolt spewing devastating wars that have made the continent exclusive focus of humiliating international armed and judicial interventions.
As the battle for the soul of our youth intensifies, the war against Boko Haram is an opportunity for serious reflection on the factors that make these wars and senseless slaughter of Africans by Africans an eyesore of shame and humiliation. There is impending need to rethink the very notion of governance and political power that have led to social exclusion, economic deprivation, joblessness, poverty, graft and corruption. A majority of Africans, in particular the youth have no sense of belonging in the politics and governance of their countries. Participation in the political life of their countries is elusive. The gains that independence promised are shortchanged for the protection of neo-colonial hegemonic economic interests and a guarantee of eternalizing power. This leaves the majority poor, in particular the youth at the mercy of criminal gangs like Boko Haram, ISIS and Al Qaeda with competing ideological, political and economic agendas.
Boko Haram may be defeated at the battlefield but will never be defeated at the battlefields of the souls of our youth and our nations unless the underlying factors which led to the phenomena are identified and comprehensively redressed. Failing this, the ongoing war may merely be scratching the surface of a wound on the collective and individual conscience of our countries and continent. If the youth are the leaders of tomorrow as some of the political leaders in the participating states who are in the very evening of their lives love to say, then the war again Boko Haram will be lost if these countries fail to wage a war to win the heart and mind of these youths.
There must therefore be a well laid out national policies for a grant of amnesty for Boko Haram combatants lay down their arms and be integrated into their respective communities. Additionally and significantly, African governments must establish policies that alleviate poverty, and place a majority of African people at the very center of governmental policies. The ideological and policy motivation for the battle against Boko Haram must be to rescue the souls of our youth from the fangs of Boko Haram and policies that make “Bokoharamism” possible.
*Chief Charles A. Taku, a distinguished author and Pan-Africanist is currently a lead counsel at the ICC at The Hague
Sudan’s Bashir returns from Uganda after ‘short visit’
May 12, 2016 | 0 Comments
Khartoum (AFP) – Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir returned Thursday from a “short visit” to Uganda, his first trip to Kampala since his International Criminal Court indictment in 2009 for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
Sudan’s official news agency SUNA had earlier reported that Bashir was on a two-day visit to Uganda, which is a signatory of the Hague-based International Criminal Court.
“From the start this was meant to be a short visit. It was only to attend a special event,” State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Ismail told reporters at Khartoum airport after Bashir returned.
In Kampala, Bashir attended the swearing-in ceremony of President Yoweri Musevini, who took office for a fifth consecutive term.
Relations between Khartoum and Kampala have been strained for years amid accusations that both support rebel groups in each other’s country.
But after South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011, ties improved, with Museveni visiting Khartoum last year.
Sudan has previously accused Uganda of backing rebel groups in the south before independence as well as in the vast war-torn region of Darfur.
Several leaders of Sudanese rebel groups from Darfur still reside in Uganda.
Kampala for its part has accused Khartoum of supporting the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group from Uganda.
Hours after he left for Uganda, rights group Amnesty International urged Kampala to arrest Bashir given that it has signed up to the ICC.
“Uganda must face up to its international obligations and arrest Omar Al-Bashir who is wanted on charges of genocide,” Amnesty’s director for East Africa, Muthoni Wanyeki, said in a statement.
“Failure to do so would be a breach of its duty and would be a cruel betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of people killed and displaced during the Darfur conflict.”
But Ismail said: “The visit was successful … The people of Uganda and officials of Uganda gave President Bashir an official and public welcome.”
Bashir was indicted by the ICC in 2009 for alleged war crimes in the Darfur region of western Sudan that he denies.
Darfur has been gripped by conflict since 2003, when ethnic minority rebels rose up against Bashir, complaining that his Arab-dominated government was marginalising the region.
Bashir launched a brutal counter-insurgency, in which at least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million forced to flee their homes, according to figures released by the United Nations.
Carlos Lopes: To industrialise, Africa needs strong but smart states
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments
“Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas…Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.”
African Arguments caught up with the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Director to talk about economic transformation, what’s holding the continent back, and whether leaders will really take action in the wake of the #PanamaPapers.
In a lot of your work, you emphasise the need for Africa to undergo ‘structural transformation’. What does this mean, and why is industrialisation so important to it?
There is a whole literature about structural transformation, but in practical terms right now in Africa it means moving to higher productivity sectors. We see this happening in three particular areas. Firstly, there’s agricultural productivity, which is at its lowest in Africa yet offers incredible potential for minimising poverty and contributing to industrialisation through agro-processing. Secondly, there’s manufacturing, which requires policies that mimic part of the experience of successful industrialisation processes of the past but are much more adapted to African characteristics. And thirdly, there’s the service sector, which needs to become more integrated into the formal economy.
Industrialisation plays a critical role because it’s more than just the production of processed goods or value addition from natural resources. It’s also an enabler for a rising society and, being a latecomer, Africa can learn from the experiences of others and adjust. For Africa, issues such as the environment, for instance, can be tackled up front.
There are varying verdicts as to how African industrialisation is faring. Some emphasise that manufacturing as a share of Africa’s GDP has almost halved from its 20% level in 1970. But others highlight that manufacturing is increasing at 3.5% a year, faster than the global average. What’s your take?
If you measure it by manufacturing value added, which is the common preferred indicator, then yes it is true that in percentage GDP terms, African manufacturing is stagnating if not falling. But African economies have doubled in the last 15 years, so even if you maintain the same percentage it means a lot more industry has come on board. Moreover, this also doesn’t take into account a number of activities that we can consider industrial but aren’t counted in statistics because of delays in updating national accounts.
Our take is that industrialisation is increasing significantly in some countries, though not across the entire continent, and that we need to accelerate and aggressively.
What’s holding African industrialisation back? Is it insufficient infrastructure? Lack of imagination amongst policymakers? Trade treaties that constrain what governments are able to do?
It’s all of those but the important question is which of those comes first. I think the capacity for comprehensiveness that comes with an industrial policy is what is the most important, because if you tackle the issue from just a specific sector or enabler or dimension, you are never going to get your act together.
The countries that really move and industrialise always have the same recipe: a very strong state hand, but a state that is very smart, a state that is capable of introducing smart protectionism because crude protectionism is no longer available, a state that is capable of identifying the critical enablers like infrastructure, and a state that knows how to fund its policies whether through domestic resource mobilisation or astute borrowing.
In a recent ECA report, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Bilateral Investment Treaties and Economic Partnership Agreements are painted as significant barriers to African industrialisation. Do these agreements just need tweaking or are they inherently detrimental for Africa?
I think African countries have embarked on signing stuff they shouldn’t sign, but too bad for them. The WTO is a consensus-based mechanism that would allow for stalling, so if Africans don’t get their act together to stall the things that are bad for them, then that’s an African problem not a WTO problem.
I think Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas. They are not taking advantage of space they already have. And Africans are also distracted by negotiating bilateral trade agreements before they finalise their own. Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.
Given enormous global power imbalances, do you think it’s enough for African policymakers to just be slightly smarter and more imaginative under the current system, or do you think there needs to be more fundamental change too?
The moral and political dimension I leave for the media, NGOs, and civil society, though we should certainly give them ammunition so their claims are evidence-based. Where we can really make a difference is in deconstructing some untruths that have long been masquerading as truths. That’s why we’ve been plunging into legislative issues, contract negotiations, and investment and trade treaties to try and have a more informed discussion. We think a lot of space exists in these that Africans are not using. After all, countries that are good negotiators do get a better deal.
In terms of untruths, take this race to the bottom towards zero tax for investors for an example. Does it attract more investors in relation to potential competitors? No. Typically countries that are well organised and structured and that offer investors a package of incentives that are not tax-based are more attractive than ones offering tax incentives.
When it comes to illicit financial flows, through which $50 billion leaves Africa each year according to an ECA report, do you think leaders will seize this moment after the #PanamaPapers to implement real reforms?
There are various dimensions to the debate, but because of Mossack Fonseca we are currently focusing on one dimension: namely tax jurisdictions and how multinationals are taking advantage of different loopholes to move from one jurisdiction to another in order not to pay tax.
Another dimension, however, is the competition amongst financial centres. The City of London, for example, doesn’t want to lose its prominence as one of the leading financial centres of the world. This means that they have to stay ahead of competitors and protect a certain number of very complex legislative dimensions that will appear from a regulatory point of view to be very strong and powerful, but at the same time be lenient where they know competitors could have an edge.
There is certainly now a strong public push for regulators to put a bit of order to things. And I don’t think the rhetoric is hypocritical, but how far they will go and how much political leaders will embrace actual change is another matter.
Africa needs the space to learn (and make mistakes) on its own terms
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments
As Africa finds its voice after centuries of being silenced, well-intentioned outsiders must be careful to help and not hijack this moment.
Just back from the Tana Forum on Peace and Security, held in the sleepy town of Bahir Dar on the shores of Ethiopia’s Lake Tana, my head churns with questions about how African debates like this should be organised.
Should they be held under a Baobab tree or in international hotels? Should they be formal or informal? Should they emulate Western or Asian styles or ignore them altogether? And ultimately, after centuries in which African voices have rarely been heard – from slavery, through colonialism, and up to the present day – who should now talk for Africa about Africa?
In a way these questions have never been more salient. After all, even looking back at the continent’s recent history, there is no shortage of examples of Africa suffering from the sharp end of foreign countries’ self-interest or misguided decisions while its own voice has been silenced.
This is true even after most countries gained independence, as the ideological rivalries of the Cold War turned Africa into a battleground for proxy wars coordinated in distant capitals, giving no room for Africa’s own interests; when structural adjustment in 1980s and 1990s was imposed heavy-handedly from the offices of the IMF and World Bank, their prescriptions ignoring the realities and resistances on the ground; and still today, as the continent is defined in the international media as Hopeless, Rising or anything in between while Africa’s own perspectives remain marginalised.
This is where the Tana Forum comes in, a rare event that is genuinely Africa-led and organised. Established to provide a space for debate about peace and security, it was set up five years ago by the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in conjunction other African leaders such as former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki.
It has been held annually since and the topic of this year’s edition was ‘Africa in the global security agenda’. Among the many speakers were the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, former president of Timor-Leste Ramon Horta who had just completed a report on peace operations around the world, and Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Also there was Wolfgang Ischinger, Chair of the Munich Security Conference, the world’s leading think tank on peace and security issues. Ischinger took to the floor to re-emphasise the strong partnership between his institution and the Tana Forum which is modelled on the Munich Security Council.
To be frank, not everyone was happy about this year’s Forum. For instance, political analyst Alex de Waal, writing here on African Arguments, expressed his view that the event has become “dull, repetitive and formal”, adding that in contrast to the first edition which was “devoted to intense, informal and candid discussion”, the 2016 event was mostly “taken up by entirely predictable speeches”.
Frank criticisms such as these are all well and good, and all new endeavours will inevitably fall short and fail to please everyone. But as we think ahead to the next conference, and in the context of Africa’s history of being marginalised in its own affairs, the important thing going forwards is that regardless of any limitations, the Tana Forum and projects like it are given the breathing space to learn on their own terms.
After centuries of being lectured, reprimanded and pressured to do things differently, it is crucial that African initiatives are able to correct their own weaknesses and learn by doing. It may take time, but patience is needed if genuinely African perspectives and models are to be built up – ones that is of Africa, by Africa and for Africa.
Across the continent, there are hopeful signs of a new and louder voice emerging as more African research institutes, think tanks and media houses provide increasingly candid reports from African viewpoints. But this newly assertive Africa, admittedly still coming of age, needs to be listened to and nurtured, even when it makes missteps and blunders.
As the continent’s economies develop, its political influence increases, and its population grows, Africa and African initiatives need to be given the breathing space to take charge of their own destinies on their own terms. This should be the new normal, the new name of the game. After over 50 years of independence, the continent is mature enough to discuss its challenges in a robust and rigorous way, and while their views are welcome, well-intentioned outsiders must be careful to help and not hijack this moment of exploration, renewal and growth.
We all, in humility, will gain by listening to what others bring to the table. As Leopold Senghor, the late poet-President of Senegal, said, we must have a “seat at the give and take table as equals”.
*Source African Arguments.Adama Gaye is a Senegalese Author, former editor of London-based West Africa Magazine. and a Tana Regional Fellow. The views expressed here are his own.
Why Africa’s migrant crisis makes no sense to outsiders
April 27, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Kevin Sieff*
Since January, 43,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled to eastern Darfur. That’s right — Darfur, home to one of the 21st century’s worst ongoing humanitarian crises.
That number, announced by the United Nations on Monday, is a window into a tragic and bewildering refugee crisis in Africa that is often overshadowed by migration flows to Europe. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, violence and insecurity have become so bad that families are seeking shelter in other war-torn countries.
In 2015, for example, nearly 100,000 Ethiopians and Somalis traveled by boat to Yemen, one of the world’s most dangerous countries. Last year, nearly 5,000 citizens of Congo, which is fighting powerful rebel groups, were seeking refuge in the Central African Republic, itself torn apart by civil war. And yet 10,000 Burundians have fled their country’s own growing civil unrest for Congo. Thousands of Nigerians escaping the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram have gone to Chad, where different strains of that same insurgency conduct frequent deadly attacks.
Developing countries have long taken in a disproportionate number of the world’s refugees —roughly 80 percent, according to the United Nations. But even for migration experts and relief workers, the willingness of refugees to leave one war for another is shocking. It’s also proving an enormous challenge for humanitarian agencies, which are already overstretched and often not equipped to welcome refugees in countries that are still racked by conflict.
“People continue to arrive despite unprecedented escalated internal conflict in Yemen,” U.N. spokesman Adrian Edwards said earlier this year.
The 43,000 South Sudanese who fled to Darfur this year are from the states of Northern Bahr El Ghazal and Warrap, and they are fleeing their homes because of “worsening food insecurity and ongoing conflict in the area,” according to a U.N. statement. The country’s conflict often involves an ethnic dimension, pitting Dinka and Nuer groups against each other, but there is also significant fighting over resources without regard to ethnicity.
In Darfur, where roughly 300,000 people have been killed since 2003, according to aid groups, the South Sudanese refugees have found little assistance. The United Nations reported that “no established mechanisms or resources were in place to receive and respond to a large influx.”
That crisis is expected to worsen, and it’s unclear how aid agencies, already overwhelmed in Darfur, will provide for an entirely new population of refugees. Though Darfur’s crisis has received little attention in recent years, it has in some parts of the region grown worse.
“Despite ongoing peace efforts, recent years have witnessed an intensification of fighting in Darfur and, as a result, a deepening of the humanitarian crisis,” said a statement from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
And now, another flow of refugees is on its way.
By the end of June, 100,000 South Sudanese refugees are expected to be in Darfur, the United Nations said.
*Source Washington Post
Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir ‘to step down in 2020’
April 7, 2016 | 0 Comments
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has told the BBC he will step down in 2020 when his current mandate ends.
Mr Bashir also denied allegations of abuses perpetrated by the Sudanese forces in renewed violence against black African villages who took up arms in the country’s western Darfur region.
The president has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on counts of genocide and war crimes.
Mr Bashir has been in power since 1989. He won elections in April last year.
He told the BBC’s Thomas Fessy that his job was “exhausting” and his current term would be his last.
“In 2020, there will be a new president and I will be an ex-president,” he said.
However, sceptics will say that he had already pledged to step down in the past and later went back on his word, our correspondent says.
‘No aerial bombing’
The UN says more than 2.5 million people have been displaced in Darfur since 2003 – with more than 100,000 this year alone.
President Bashir said that there was no reason for the UN peacekeepers and aid workers to stay in the troubled Darfur region.
He denied reports of recent abuses in the mountains of Jebel Marra where government forces launched an offensive in January.
“All these allegations are baseless, none of these reports is true,” he said.
“We challenge anyone to visit the areas recaptured by the armed forces, and find a single village that has been torched.
“In fact, there hasn’t been any aerial bombing.”
The president said that people who fled the fighting had gone to government-controlled areas which was “proof that the government does not target citizens”.
President Bashir said that UN estimates that more than 100,000 people have been displaced in Darfur since January because of the fighting were “highly inflated and not real”.
“Only a very small number of people have been displaced and they have either reached our positions or [gone to] where the UN peacekeepers [Unamid] are deployed.
The president said that UN forces and Unamid “have no vital role to play” in Darfur, “not even in defending themselves and their units”.
“As peace has returned to Darfur, I think that they have no role to undertake and that’s why we want them to leave.”
Likewise he said there was no role in the region for aid workers because there is no food crisis in Darfur.
He said that estimates that 2.5 million people were living in camps in Darfur were “much too inflated” and the true figure is closer 160,000.
The president dismissed the ICC as a “politicised tribunal” and that evidence of his popularity in Sudan could clearly be seen by the huge crowds that greet him.
“These are the same crowds I’m accused of having committed genocide and ethnic cleansing against. This is why I’ve defied the tribunal, and [why] I’ve been travelling freely around the world.”
Mr Bashir was re-elected last year with about 94% of the vote in an election boycotted by the main opposition parties who said it was not free and fair.
Sudan government launches online stock market with support from the AfDB
March 31, 2016 | 0 Comments
Khartoum, Sudan, March 30, 2016 – The Government of Sudan inaugurated an online trading system of its stock market on March 24, 2016 in the country’s capital, Khartoum – a landmark development in the Sudan’s financial history.
Financed by the African Development Bank as part of its Public Financial and Macroeconomic Management (PFM) project, the e-trading system will be instrumental in promoting rapid development of the Khartoum Stock Exchange Market, which is a central element in the country’s financial market.
This support is part of the Bank’s mandate, under its Transitional Support Facility (TSF), to strengthen Sudan’s financial governance and accountability. The Bank’s funding of PFM amounts to US $34.8 million.
The PFM project seeks to create the necessary platform for establishing electronic public financial systems, which will ultimately form basis for the transition of electronic governance and administration of public resources. Other complementary systems that are being developed by the PFM include an Integrated Financial Management and Information System (IFMIS). This will integrate Sudan’s public financial management systems with other systems in line ministries, through a customized IT infrastructure that will enhance electronic transactions, information flow and interaction across ministries.
Speaking on behalf of the Finance Minister, the Undersecretary of Planning in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Abdalla Ibrahim, commended the African Development Bank for financing this initiative. He noted that it has laid the foundation for his country to align itself with the global financial and electronic trading systems.
On behalf of the Bank, the Resident Representative of the AfDB in Sudan, Abdul Kamara, alluded to the growing importance of electronical trade. He stressed that the Bank’s support emanates from the considerable advantages of trading electronically, which reduces the risk associated with physical cash transactions, lowers transaction costs and saves time.
Kamara also noted the potential of e-trading to improve transparency, flow of information and enhance domestic resource mobilisation such as Sukuk bonds on which Sudan heavily depends on for financing infrastructure and service delivery. He assured the government of the Bank’s continued assistance in the area of public financial management and enhancing accountability in the use of public resources
Tony Elumelu Foundation Picks 1,000 for $ 100 million Entrepreneurship Programme
March 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L*
According to a statement from the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the successful candidates represent diverse industries including agriculture, ICT, and fashion. Over 45,000 applications were registered from 54 countries with the highest numbers coming from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon.
The release from the Foundation indicates that for the next nine months, the selected entrepreneurs will receive intensive online training, networking and mentoring that provides a tool kit for success and sustainability. Later in the year, the entrepreneurs will join in the three day Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum which is the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurial talent.
“The 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs will become a generation of newly empowered African business owners, who are the clearest evidence yet, that indigenous business growth will drive Africa’s economic and social transformation,” Founder Tony Elumelu ,commented.
“In TEEP’s first year we spent over $8 million of our $100 million commitment – with $5 million going directly to entrepreneurs as seed capital — and the results have far exceeded our expectations,” said Elumelu .
To TEEP selection committee member Angelle Kwemo, it was a daunting task making the choice from the avalanche of brilliant and viable ideas. “We believe in Africa and the potential of its people,” said Kwemo, a Cameroonian, and Founder & chair of Believe in Africa, a US based organization promoting African economic transformation.
“The TEEP is proving to be one of the most effective tools in support of job creation and it should be adopted and duplicated,” Kwemo said, as she challenged other African businessmen and leaders to join forces or emulate the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
Describing TEEP as “a life changing, challenging but rewarding journey,” Angelle Kwemo was pleased with the surge in French speaking entrepreneurs led in numbers by Cameroon. Wishing the new participants luck, Kwemo said Africa is looking forward to the full blown manifestation of the incredible potentials of the entrepreneurs.
Launched in 2015, TEEP is the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship and represents a 10-year, $100 million commitment, to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, create a million jobs and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation is an Africa-based, African-funded philanthropic organization. Founded in 2010, TEF is committed to driving African economic growth, by empowering African entrepreneurship. The Foundation aims to create lasting solutions that contribute positively to Africa’s social and economic transformation. Through impact investments, selective grant making, and policy development, it seeks to influence the operating environment so that entrepreneurship in Africa can flourish
Twitter Chat Encourages Women to Find Their Roots for Women’s History Month
March 18, 2016 | 0 Comments
National Geographic Traveler of the Year shares her journey of turning pain into purpose
WASHINGTON, DC— For Women’s History Month, NativSol Kitchen Founder and African Ancestry President co-host a Twitter Chat on March 23, 2016 at 7:00pm EST entitled “Women Finding Their Roots: From Pain to Purpose.” The 60-minute live interactive session will give online users an opportunity to gain insight and inspiration in tracing their African lineage by following the hashtag: #comebackhome.
African Ancestry, Inc., the DC-based company that pioneered genetic DNA- ancestry tracing for people of African descent inspires all to make a connection to their identity through genetic ancestry testing and research.
“This Women’s History Month is a time to reconnect to our origin. Genetically, black women hold the key to so much of ancestral information. It is time that she claimed her place as the mother to all living things. We must birth and nurture the future.” said Gina Paige, President & Co-founder of African Ancestry, Inc. “Women are the glue that holds the family and community together.”
In 2014 National Geographic selected NativSol’s founder Tambra Raye Stevenson as one of the “Traveler of the Year” for finding her African roots through food. Since then she had yet to travel to her ancestral land until this year in late April to Nigeria.
“Between the Ebola epidemic, terrorists’ attacks by Boko Haram and presidential elections, I had kept delaying my travel,” says Tambra Raye Stevenson, founder of NativSol Kitchen. “I was reminded even by Nigerians of safety in the north [of Nigeria]. But I had to trust my instinct and decide that it was now or never to complete my journey of coming back home not for me but for my ancestors.”
While in Nigeria this May, Stevenson will launch a new initiative called WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics and Agriculture to empower women and girls in sustainable agriculture and nutrition. WANDA serves as an extension of NativSol’s work in promoting the African heritage diet with women and girls as the leaders in the movement.
In the Michael Twitty’s “Cooking Gene,” upcoming book, Stevenson shares her story of discovering her roots and passion for African heritage foods. “By tracing my roots back to Africa, I became grounded in my identity and inspired to transform the path of my profession by incorporating my heritage,” says Stevenson. “Ultimately I realized I was search of my purpose. With WANDA we change the narrative of our female ancestors held captive to till foreign land to now leading a women’s movement in agriculture bridging the Diaspora and Africa.” Stevenson has kick started a crowdfunding campaign to support WANDA initiative in Nigeria and people can support at iamwanda.org.
Featured in the Washington Post, NativSol Kitchen provides culturally-centered and faith-based nutrition education programming to both youth and adults. Based in Washington, DC, NATIVSOL is on a mission to reclaim the health and spirit of the African diaspora by creating a movement to restore heritage foods into people’s daily lives. Led by trained culinary nutrition experts, NATIVSOL has the passion and talent to equip the community to cook, shop and eat their way back to health.
Founded in 2003 on years of research, African Ancestry, Inc. is the ancestry tracing company that pioneered African lineage matching in the United States utilizing its proprietary DNA-database of more than 25,000 African DNA lineages to more accurately assess present-day country of origin for people of African descent. Since its inception, African Ancestry’s lineage reveals have impacted the lives of more than 100,000 people in the U.S. from communities at large to global leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, Tom Joyner and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. African Ancestry has been featured across the globe in outlets such as CNN’s Black in America series, 60 Minutes and Essence Magazine; and was the centerpiece to the ground-breaking PBS special “African American Lives 1 & 2” with Skip Gates. African Ancestry is African-American-owned and operated and headquartered in Washington, DC.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics and Agriculture is leading a pan-African women’s movement from farm to fork. Founded in 2016, WANDA is on a mission to develop the next generation of women and girls as leaders in agriculture, nutrition and dietetics through education, advocacy and innovation as a means to alleviate poverty, build healthy communities and improve self-sufficiency.
join the event here
AAI Conversations on Africa Seeks to Set Direction for the Next U.S. President
March 16, 2016 | 1 Comments
NEW YORK CITY – March 15, 2016 – As the U.S. presidential election gears up for the November election, AAI will host its next Conversations on Africa (COA) forum on April 21 on Capitol Hill, where congressional leaders, U.S. Government officials, policy experts and Members of the African Diplomatic Corps will take stock of the White House’s legacy on engagement with Africa and propose U.S.-Africa policy priorities for the next Administration.
The Conversation, Looking Ahead: Setting American Policy in Africa for the Next U.S. President”, will take place at Capitol Hill’s B338 Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
The two-term Obama Administration will come to a close in less than a year. The full-day Conversations on Africa offers a platform for reflections and panel discussions on the White House and the Congress’ strategy and engagement with sub-Saharan Africa.
The Obama Administration laid out overarching pillars for U.S.-Africa policy to: strengthen democratic institutions; spur economic growth, trade, and investment; advance peace and security; and promote opportunity and development.
The White House signature initiatives and high-level events include Power Africa, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), and the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with sitting African Heads of State in 2014. President Obama also became the first U.S. president to visit the African Union in Addis Ababa in 2015.
During President Obama’s tenure, U.S. Congress passed a 10-year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the U.S.-Africa trade law, and the Electrify Africa Act, which aims to expand access to affordable and reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
“AAI’s Conversations on Africa forum offers an opportune time for us to look back and reflect on Obama Administration’s legacy on U.S.-Africa policy,” said AAI President Amini Kajunju. “It also is a time to identify what more needs to be accomplished before the end of the congressional session, and hear perspectives in moving forward on future Africa engagement from foreign policy advisors to the top presidential candidates.”
Moderated by Witney Schneidman, Senior Nonresident Fellow at The Brookings Institute, the panel“Africa: What Should the Remaining Priorities for the 114th Congress Be?”, with congressional staffers of the House and Senate Subcommittee on Africa, will review the Administration’s key priorities and give an update on progress to date. Staffers will share where Congress stands on proposed U.S.-Africa policy legislative bills.
The panel “Reflections: The Obama Administration’s Approach to Promoting Education in Africa”, moderated by The Honorable Vivian Lowery Derryck, President & CEO of The Bridges Institute, will offer insight into the White House’s focus on education. Confirmed panelists include Julie Hanson Swanson, Deputy Chief, Education Division, Bureau of Africa, USAID and Her Excellency Mathilde Mukantabana, Rwanda
The Honorable Reuben E. Brigety II, George Washington University’s Dean of Elliott School of International Affairs, will deliver a Fireside Chat on “Identifying Best Practices for U.S. Engagement in Africa” during the Policy Luncheon.
Prior to taking the helm of the Elliot School, Ambassador Brigety was the U.S. representative to the African Union and U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He also previously served as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of African Affairs and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, among other positions.
Carol Pineau, award-winning producer, writer, director and journalist will moderate what is expected to be a spirited panel “Beyond the Obama Administration: What Can We Expect for Africa?” with U.S. presidential candidate representatives. Candidate representatives will offer the presidential candidate’s perspective on U.S.-Africa policy and their vision for U.S. strategy for sub-Saharan Africa.
COA panels are still in formation and will be updated accordingly, leading up to the event.
To RSVP to cover the event, please contact Shanta Bryant Gyan at email, email@example.com or call (202) 412-4603.