Liquid Telecom connects South Sudan to “One Africa” broadband network and the world
July 2, 2019 | 0 Comments
Transformative infrastructure will create a foundation for digital innovation and prosperity, while supporting the South Sudan Government’s positive economic growth forecast over the next decade
South Sudan, July 1, 2019 – Leading pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom will implement and operate South Sudan’s first fibre broadband network, connecting the country to the “One Africa” broadband network, which is approaching 70,000km across 13 African countries and to the rest of the world. This breakthrough foreign direct investment by Liquid Telecom has been recognised by His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of South Sudan. Ministers along with other national VIPs are joining senior executives from Liquid Telecom during a symbolic fibre digging inauguration on Monday 1 July.
With phase one due to be completed before the end of 2019, Liquid Telecom’s network will eventually make reliable and affordable internet connectivity available for nearly 13 million citizens of South Sudan, as well as thousands of businesses, government institutions and non-governmental organisations. South Sudan will link to Liquid Telecom’s network across the region which covers the East African Community, a regional intergovernmental organisation of six partner states, the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, and Republic of Uganda. The Community connects up to 300 million people and stimulates cross-border investment and trade.
This transformative infrastructure will ultimately create a foundation for digital growth, innovation and prosperity in this young country, while supporting the Government of South Sudan’s positive economic growth forecast over the next ten years.
“Liquid Telecom is immensely proud to bring fibre connectivity to South Sudan for the first time,” says Strive Masiyiwa, Executive Chairman of Econet Global and Liquid Telecom. “This modern ICT infrastructure will help address the most pressing challenges within South Sudan, including the urgent need for peace and state building, job creation and improved livelihoods. South Sudan’s 13 million citizens will be connected to 300 million people across the East African Community. Connecting South Sudan to the ‘One Africa’ broadband network will also champion pan-Africa trade and help build Africa’s digital future.”
His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of South Sudan, commenting on this new partnership, says, “The implementation of this critical fibre infrastructure is a landmark step in the delivery of affordable communications access to the people of South Sudan, the business community, government and civil society. By connecting South Sudan to the global internet, this important infrastructure development will help improve social mobility, enable economic diversification and drive inclusive private sector-led growth and productive employment. The agreement is also ideally timed, coinciding with the signing of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.”
The first phase of the agreement signed between the Government of South Sudan’s National Communication Authority and Liquid Telecom will include a 300km fibre backbone operating from the border of Uganda, through South Sudan, to Juba. Multiple metro clusters will also support the capital city. This first phase is scheduled to go live in the last quarter of 2019. The network will be expanded to other cities in subsequent phases, in time supporting the country’s 13 million citizens.
About Liquid Telecom
Liquid Telecom is a leading communications solutions provider across 13 countries primarily in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa that serves mobile operators, carriers, enterprise, media and content companies and retail customers with high-speed, reliable connectivity, hosting and co-location and digital services. It has built Africa’s largest independent fibre network, approaching 70,000km, and operates state-of-the-art data centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nairobi, with a combined potential 19,000 square metres of rack space and 80 MW of power. This is in addition to offering leading cloud-based services, such as Microsoft Office365 and Microsoft Azure across our fibre footprint. Through this combined offering Liquid Telecom is enhancing customers experience on their digital journey. www.liquidtelecom.com
Telecoming will exclusively distribute the digital contents of Real Madrid through mobile operators in Africa
July 2, 2019 | 0 Comments
The famous Spanish club chooses a partner with extensive experience in technologies to distribute and monetize digital content in the African mobile environment
MADRID, Spain, July 1, 2019/ — The alliance means the arrival in Africa of the official Real Madrid mobile offer; The famous Spanish club chooses a partner with extensive experience in technologies to distribute and monetize digital content in the African mobile environment.
Telecoming (www.Telecoming.com), the European technology company specialized in digital services monetization, has signed an agreement with Real Madrid to become the exclusive distributor through mobile operators of its digital content in Africa. This agreement will allow Telecoming to enhance its presence across the African market in which it operates since 2015.
Real Madrid, the most valued football club in the world (€1.646M according to Brand Finance), relies on Telecoming to offer through mobile operators in Africa, a better and unique digital experience. Telecoming also provides the technology needed to monetize this service through carrier billing and will promote it through its internal AdTech agency.
Cyrille Thivat, CEO of Telecoming, explains “we are happy to be the exclusive partner of Real Madrid C.F. that has relied on Telecoming for our know-how in terms of distribution, production and monetization of mobile entertainment services. We will rely on the extraordinary dynamism of the African market and its maturity towards mobile payments to successfully promote Real Madrid’s digital content offer “.
Telecoming has the exclusive license of the club’s mobile content in other European countries and will intend to develop with success its collaboration with Real Madrid among the African fans.
Specialized in mobile payments since 2008, Telecoming (www.Telecoming.com) develops technology to monetize digital services. The company works hand in hand with the main mobile operators to create solutions focused on improving the complete mobile customer journey: from the advertising to the payment. Finally, the company will continue leading the direct carrier billing market through innovation in new digital payment alternatives across the world. The London Stock Exchange has acknowledged the firm as one of the most Inspiring European Organizations. Moreover, it’s among Europe’s 500 fastest growing companies, according to Morningstar’s Inc. 5000 Ranking, 2018.
African Energy Chamber’s Investment Push in China is Met with Tremendous Success
July 2, 2019 | 0 Comments
Equatorial Guinea Presents Open Oil, Gas and Mining Licenses in Successful Roadshow in China
July 2, 2019 | 0 Comments
H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima thanks Chinese Embassy in Equatorial Guinea, African Energy Chamber and Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons staff for a highly-successful roadshow
BEIJING, China, July 2, 2019/ — EG Ronda Licensing Round Roadshow in China was met with tremendous success as over 100 Chinese investors participate and discuss investment in oil, gas and minerals with the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons’ delegation ; H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima thanks Chinese Embassy in Equatorial Guinea, African Energy Chamber and Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons staff for a highly-successful roadshow
The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons held a successful investment drive in China with Chinese investors in an event organised by the Africa Energy Chamber today in Beijing, China.
The Ministry officials delivered presentations on the current EG Ronda Licensing Rounds 2019 for oil & gas and mining & minerals to a prestigious audience of Chinese investors and stakeholders. Over 100 participants from the biggest Chinese energy companies, notably including CMEC, CPP, CNOOC, PowerChina, Sinochem, Sinopec, Zhenhua Oil and China Minmetals responded to Equatorial Guinea’s invitation to come and invest in the country.
“The EG Ronda Roadshow in China is a tremendous success. We have met with very serious investors who believe in the immense hydrocarbons and mining potential of Equatorial Guinea and are ready to invest, we will announce agreements very soon,” declared H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima. “This will ensure additional investment into our oil & gas sector, and more importantly help develop our mining and minerals industry and create jobs.”
Equatorial Guinea showcased 27 oil & gas blocks on offer under the EG Ronda Oil & Gas Licensing Round 2019, including EG-27 (former Block R) and EG-23 for appraisal and development. It also offers an opportunity for exploration and mining companies worldwide to apply for exploration rights in the Rio Muni area, which is highly prospective in minerals such as gold, diamonds, base metals, iron ore and bauxite.
“The leadership H.E. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and the reforms of our government to provide a stable regulatory framework and attractive business environment have been key to attracting Chinese investors,” added H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima. “We wish to thank everyone who made this roadshow a great success, including the Chinese Embassy in Equatorial Guinea, the African Energy Chamber and all the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons staff.”
The bidding deadline for the EG Ronda Licensing Round has been set for September 27th, 2019. Winners will be announced at the much-anticipated Gas Exporting Countries Forum’s 5th Gas Summit in Malabo on November 27th, 2019.
Centurion CEO speaks to Chinese Oil and Gas Investors on African opportunities
July 2, 2019 | 0 Comments
|Led by CEO Nj Ayuk, the team is meeting with several high-profile Chinese executives and energy companies seeking to invest in sub-Saharan Africa|
BEIJING, China, July 2, 2019/ — A team of attorneys from Centurion (https://CenturionLG.com) is in China this week to participate in the EG Ronda Licensing Roadshow being held today and tomorrow at the Kempinski Hotel Beijing. Led by CEO Nj Ayuk, the team is meeting with several high-profile Chinese executives and energy companies seeking to invest in sub-Saharan Africa.
The roadshow is organized by the African Energy Chamber on behalf of Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons. With the biggest names amongst the Chinese energy companies attending, including companies such as CNPC, PowerChina Group, Sinopec, Sinochem, CNOOC, Shenergy, CMEC and China Minmetals Corp, Centurion has had the opportunity to discuss considerable deals in several African oil markets.
“Centurion’s presence in China for the EG Ronda Roadshow is a mark of our commitment not only to Equatorial Guinea, but to the promotion of Chinese investments across Africa,” declared Nj Ayuk from Beijing. “China is serious about investing in Africa, and Chinese investors and companies are looking for reliable African legal advisors and partners to efficiently do business in our continent. This represents billions of dollars of investment ready to support the development of the African oil industry.”
Centurion has always been at the forefront of channeling foreign investments into Africa’s oil & gas value chains. The firm has advised on the most recent PSCs being signed in the continent and continues to be part of landmark deals and projects in West and Eastern Africa. The firm has a specific desk dedicated to Chinese companies and investors, and has been increasingly working in diversifying the flow of investments coming into Africa’s extractive industries, working with new partners from Russia, Turkey and the Middle East.
DRC: Withdraw armed forces from Fungurume mines to avert bloodshed-Amnesty
July 1, 2019 | 0 Comments
Following reports that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) army has deployed hundreds of soldiers to forcibly remove an estimated 10,000 artisanal miners from the Tenke Fungurume mines in Lualaba Province to the south of the country from 2 July, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Sarah Jackson said:
“Given the long history of excessive use of force by the Congolese army and its lack of appropriate training in managing public order, the DRC government must immediately withdraw its armed forces from the mines to avert unlawful killings. These artisanal miners are merely trying to eke out a living and sending in the army against them would be completely irresponsible.”
Lualaba province is part of the former Katanga province in southern DRC and is the country’s most significant copper and cobalt mining area. The government estimates that 20% of the cobalt currently exported from the DRC comes from Katanga’s artisanal miners.
There are about 110,000 regular artisanal miners in the Katanga region, rising to about 150,000 on a seasonal basis. In the absence of authorised artisanal mining areas, many artisanal miners illegally enter private concessions.
Tenke Fungurume Mining Complex in DRC hosts one of the largest, highest-grade producing copper and cobalt mines in the world and is owned by China Molybdenum Co., Ltd., which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Kenya morns the death of telecom giant’s CEO
July 1, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Jean-Pierre Afadhali
Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom PLC, Kenya’s largest telecom operator has died at his home in Nairobi, the capital city today in morning, the company said in statement.
Mr. Collymore who died at age of 61 led the East Africa’s biggest telecom listed on Nairobi Stock Exchange since November 2010, spearheading various innovations including the popular mobile money service that was replicated across Africa known as M-Pesa.
According to the Safaricom in 2017 Collymore took medical leave to receive treatment for acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and returned in July 2018 to resume duties.
“He has been undergoing this this condition since then in different hospitals most recently Agha Khan University Hospital in Nairobi.” Read a stamen seen by African Visions
In recent weeks, his condition worsened and he succumbed to the cancer at his home in the early hours of Monday. Safaricom chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a said in a statement.
The British citizen born in Guyana leaves a wife and four children.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta was among the first leaders to mourn Collymore’s death, saying that the East African country has lost a “distinguished corporate leader”.
From Tunis to Khartoum: Africans are toppling their sit-tight Presidents
June 30, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
As Africa and Africans struggle with the implementation of democracy as prescribed by Western nations who insist it’s the best form of governance, a fierce wind of change has in the last ten years swept most African sit-tight president.
From the Eastern basins of the Mediterranean Sea in Tunis, Capital of Tunisia to the confluence of the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers in Khartoum, capital of Sudan, Africans are raising up and deposing their despotic leaders.
Since 2011, some of Africa’s strongest dictators and long-serving presidents with decades of leadership have been forced to leave power with all wondering who could be next.
As people-power fast topples autocratic regimes, watchers of the polity of Africa believe the continent, flowing with enormous economic potentials sufficient to make her a contender, is on en route towards its liberation and development.
10 African presidents who have involuntarily left power since 2011
Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia
Tunisians took to the streets and after four weeks of protests, the leader who ruled for 23 years was deposed on January 14, 2011. He later escaped and currently on exile in Saudi Arabia. It was Prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi who announced that he had taken over as interim president, vowing to respect the constitution and restore stability for Tunisia’s 10.5 million denizens. Beji Caid Essebsi on December 2014 became the 4th and the first democratically elected president by universal suffrage and is set to take Tunisia to new heights.
Hosni Mubarak of Egypt
Seeing what happened next-door in Tunisia, Egyptians took to the streets to protest against their “strongman”. Egyptians protest 30 years of injustice and oppression under Hosani’s rule. With support from the army, on February 11, 2011, Mubarak’s resignation was announced at Tahrir square, which is regarded as the center of the protest that ousted him.
In 2012 he was sentenced to life imprisonment over the death of over 240 people during the protest against his rule. He was on March 2, 2017, acquitted by Egypt’s appeal court and released from the Military hospital where he spent most of the six years of his incarceration due to poor health.
Muammar Gaddafi’s of Libya
True, most Libyans today regret the ousting of president Muammar Gaddafi who had the vision to unite all African, establishing the United State of Africa. After spending 42 years in power the Arab spring influenza let to widespread protest from February 15, 2019, due to the said killing of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. With support from most Western countries, it was on October 20 announced that Gaddafi had been killed in Sirte. Today, Libya is a mockery of its former self.
Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso
After “stabbing” his friend (Thomas Sankara) in the back and taking over via a coup in 1987, Blaise Compaoré succeeded to maneuver his way, winning all presidential elections. Ruling for 27 years, his party in 2014 proposed further changes to the constitution so as to allow Compaoré stay in power.
Protest broke out forcing him to flee to Ivory Coast. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré is the current president of Burkina Faso.
Yahya Jammeh of Gambia
Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh was formerly a military officer before he took over as president of The Gambia in 1994. With 22 years at the helm of the country’s supremacy, in 2017 while running for his fifth term in office, Yahya Jammeh lost to Adama Barrow. He conceded defeat but backpedal and asked for a recount of elections.
He fled to Equatorial Guinea as his unpopularity grew. Adam Barrow currently serves as president of Gambia regarded as Africa’s smallest country.
José Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola
In August of 2017, Jose Eduardo handed over power after serving as president of mineral-rich Angola for 38 years. Joao Lourenco, the new president promised to tackle corruption which has crippled the oil-rich nation.
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe
Regarded as Africa’s oldest president, Robert Mugabe, 95 first served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 when he became president. manning the affairs of Zimbabwe for 30 years, Mugabe stepped down after parliament launched an impeachment process in November 2017 to remove him.
He had earlier that month said he wanted to relinquish power to his wife, Grace Mugabe. Analyst believe without his remarks, he could have served on as president as his ousting is not unconnected to his desires to get his wife replace him.
Joseph Kabila of DR Congo
Joseph Kabila, born June 4, 1971, in Sud-Kivu province, of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was an army official who served as president from 2001 till 2019.
Joseph Kabila is son of former president Laurent Kabila and took over 10 days after his father was assassinated. Kabila spends considerable time trying to unite the various rebel groups in the Congos. He refused to stand for elections in 2018 and gave his support to Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary who failed to capture power.
Felix Tshisekedi, son of late veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi won the presidential election and currently “works” with Joseph Kabila (since Kabila’s political party controls the legislature) to better DR Congo.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria
For 20 years (1999 to 2019) 82-years-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika has served as president of Algeria and despite his deteriorating health and advanced age, he refused to leave power until April of 2019 when massive protest forced him to retire.
In a brief message, he said he had “notified the president of the constitutional council of his decision to end his mandate”. Thousands swarm the streets in celebration of his decision to step down saying he was incapable to dispatch his duties.
Omar al-Bashir of Sudan
Sudan’s Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir served as president for 30 years before he was sent packing by the military. With an arrest warrant dangling over his head issued by the International Criminal Court, ICC for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, news that he won’t be extradited by the military came as good news to him though he’s under arrest by the military. Following his arrest, General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who is also Defense Minister said the military council would run the country for two years.
In a statement, the US government commended the people of Sudan for liberating themselves urging the “transitional government to follow the will of the people, work in an inclusive way with all representative parties, and commit to a speedy handover to civilian rule. We condemn the abuse of force by security services that has resulted in the death of more than 20 civilians. We call on all armed parties to show restraint, avoid conflict, and remain committed to the protection of the Sudanese people.”
The AFCFTA Will Have A Game Changing Impact On The Whole Continent-Dr. Joy Kategekwa Head, UNCTAD Regional Office for Africa
June 30, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
“I am optimistic, that we are on to a game changing page in the prospects of trade improving the lives of ordinary Africans and achieving progress on meeting Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” says Dr Joy Kategekwa , Head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Regional Office for Africa in Addis Ababa .
Responding to questions from Pan African Visions on the AFCFTA, Dr Kategekwa says its impact on the continent could be profound. Dr Kategekwa pointed to projections from the UNCTAD which indicated that should the AfCFTA lead to 100 per cent tariff liberalisation in trade in goods (alone), the continent would realise USD 16.1 billion in welfare gains, a 1 to 3 per cent growth in GDP, a 1.2 per cent increase in employment, a 33 per cent increase in intra-African exports and a 50 per cent reduction in trade deficit.
“An agreement that has, from commencement of negotiations (February 2016) to adoption (March 2018) taken a little over two years is demonstration of strong political will,” says Dr Kategekwa whose office has been a fulcrum of UNCTAD’s support to the AfCFTA
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is now set to go into effect after ratification by the requisite number of countries, what is your take on this?
My take is one of optimism – about the game changing impact of a whole continent that dismantles barriers to intra-African trade. For way too long have analysts decried the low levels of intra-African trade. These low levels are worrisome especially from the perspective of Africa losing out on the benefits of international trade changing ordinary lives through economic empowerment. The AfCFTA promises to set in motion the application of a new body of law that will require States Parties to eliminate restrictions – laws, regulations, administrative processes, that discriminate against the products originating from other AfCFTA States Parties. This will make African products more competitive in African markets – once the hoop of high tariffs has been jumped through the AfCFTA.
The AfCFTA will also open markets for intra-African trade in services, a sector that plays a leading role in all African economies – evidenced in gross domestic product contributions, as well as the growing amount of services exports from Africa.
The AfCFTA has teeth – a regime on dispute resolution – which will strengthen trade governance and accountability in Africa. The AfCFTA will be overseen by a secretariat dedicated to it, which should help keep an eye on effective implementation.
More so, the AfCFTA is not only about goods and services. It foresees a second phase of negotiations to tackle regulatory barriers that are key determinants to how markets can effectively function. These include competition, investment and intellectual property rights. The sum total is a scope that is comprehensive and suitable to the quest for boosting intra-African trade and strengthening African integration.
Overall, I am optimistic, that we are on to a game changing page in the prospects of trade improving the lives of ordinary Africans and achieving progress on meeting Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
With the ratification, what next, and in concrete terms, what is expected to change for Trade in the continent with the AFCFTA?
What next is that countries will complete the unfinished business of market access negotiations on trade in goods and services according to the agreed AfCFTA negotiating modalities in order to come up with each country’s respective schedule of tariff concessions and specific commitments on trade in services. Such schedules of commitments, as well as finalization of the rules of origin, are indispensable for operationalizing trade liberalization processes under the AfCFTA.
In terms of what is expected to change for trade in Africa, once AfCFTA liberalization has become operational, it is a matter of volumes, value, and diversity in the export basket – which translate into diversity in production.
The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area of our time. It brings together 55 African countries with a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of more than US$3.4 trillion. It is expected that the AfCFTA will increase intra-African trade by 52.3 per cent through the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers. These numbers are results of simulations by senior experts at the United Nations – both at UNCTAD and at the UN Regional Economic Commission for Africa. At UNCTAD, we have estimated that if the AfCFTA leads to 100 per cent tariff liberalisation in trade in goods (alone), the continent would realise USD 16.1 billion in welfare gains, a 1 to 3 per cent growth in GDP, a 1.2 per cent increase in employment, a 33 per cent increase in intra-African exports and a 50 per cent reduction in trade deficit. This is the scenario for goods trade.
But as we know – the level of trade in services in Africa is growing. According to UNCTADstat, Africa’s services exports grew by up to 14% in 2017, with figures ranging from South Africa’s almost 16 billion US dollars to Lesotho’s 2 million US dollars. The services sector plays a critical role in strengthening the continent’s leapfrogging potential to attain the objectives of structural transformation. Services sector growth is inescapable in raising productivity and value addition in agriculture (a mainstay of the African economy) and industry. A trade agreement that creates new opportunities by removing discriminatory regulations and operational conditions for market access is an urgent intervention that will set the continent on a better path to diversification and sustainable development.
What this translates to – is bigger volumes of trade – a first generation spill over of reduced tariffs/discriminatory regulations.
But there is also the value proposition. Colleagues at the UNECA have consistently tracked the level of intra-African trade. In the period prior to 2012 (when African presidents took the decision to fast track the continental free trade area and adopted the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade); numbers floated at about 10-12 percent. In more recent studies, they range from about 16 (UNECA) even going up to about 18% (UNCTAD). And so, there is already an important improvement – on which the AfCFTA is expected to at least double. In this trade is an even more interesting trend. That in these higher levels of intra-African trade, the largest composition therein is of trade in manufactures – going as high as 46% (UNECA). This tells us two important points: One that intra-African trade is already happening at encouraging levels (vis a vis the base period of 2012) and two: that within intra-African trade is the first evidence of Africa’s diversification. Evidence of breaking away from the age-old pattern of low value, low volume products – mostly agricultural commodities of little, if any, value addition – as the proposition that Africa consistently brings to the global stage. This is very important, because a 46% intra-African trade in manufactures tells us that manufacturing is happening (albeit at the lower end); and that the promise of the AfCFTA can be a reality – if there is attendant investment in the enabling environment side of issues. Further, UNCTAD has indicated that intra-African trade has a higher technological content than extra-African trade. The share of products traded among African countries with medium and high technological content is about 27% as compared to a share of 15% for Africa’s exports to the rest of the world.
Finally, there is a question of a diversified intra-African trade export basket – with the inclusion of services – which can only strengthen Africa’s economy, and in that, its women, men, youth, SMEs, etc.
Building on advances in the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) – the AfCFTA will deepen economic integration in Africa, creating a deeper integrated African market. This is particularly important when we bear in mind the fact that much of the existing intra-African trade takes place within these RECs. A new legal order that locks this in, not only vis a vis regional groupings but between and amongst them, is exactly where the first dividends of the AfCFTA may be visible – in creating opportunities for countries in Africa that currently do not have any arrangements, outside of the multilateral framework, to grant each other preferential tariff and regulatory treatment for goods and services.
Countries of the continent are in all shapes and sizes from population, to economic potential, infrastructure development, and so on, what mechanisms does the Agreement have to ensure a level playing field for all countries?
The AfCFTA is designed in what we, at UNCTAD and within the UN system – call “developmental regionalism”. Simplified – it is an approach to designing regional trade integration agreements in a manner that meets the twin objective of opening markets while ensuring industrialization, more jobs, incomes and the attainment of sustainable development. In a continent of Africa’s realities, there is no shortcut to adapting what is known as global good practices to a workable outcome in context. And so, in the case of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Services for example, the calculus was less about how to liberalize trade in services for the sake of opening markets alone, but more about creating a pro-development loop in which the opening of services sectors was done in a manner that would provide real valuable and utilizable opportunities to SMEs, women and youth. It was about allowing countries to exercise their right to regulate and introduce new regulations (a right that often deals with seemingly conflicting objectives such as business opportunities on the one hand and consumer protection on the other). It was about a choice of initial priority sectors that can unlock bottlenecks related to connectivity and infrastructure readiness – so that the nexus between agriculture and industry can be fully harnessed. And yet it is also about allowing AfCFTA states parties to pace their contributions; within those selected sectors – to determine how, when and on what conditions, such access is granted. It is about creating a one Africa by seeking to frontload some of the political momentum around mobility for Africans within Africa – it being well understood that there is no regional integration without effective free movement of Africans – traders, investors, service suppliers, industrialists.
Similarly in the case of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods, it was about shooting for as high an ambition of liberalization as possible (90% in this case) – going zero for zero as soon as possible from the start of implementation such as in 5 years while accepting that there are sensitive sectors in which certain countries/regions require flexibility (allowing them to phase in their commitments slower). The so-called sensitive products – will have a slower pace of liberalization (or a longer transition period). The additional category of “the exclusion list products” (3% of tariff lines) is one in which countries cannot accept to liberalize at this stage.
Also within the Agreements consisting of the overarching umbrella treaty, the protocol on trade in goods and the Protocol on trade in services – is a variation of special and differential treatment – ranging from longer transition periods, provisions for capacity development for the least developed among the states parties, provisions leaving room for African governments to support industrial development (part of the rationale for the sensitive and excluded products list).
This menu of options is the AfCFTA’s approach to meeting each country, or group thereof, where it is –in terms of its development concerns. Naturally, the benefits of this approach, itself not novel in trade agreements that respond to development challenges, will go to those countries that get themselves ready – utilizing the space granted to create and strengthen productive capacities for utilization.
For the trade professional that you are, how much of a game changer could this be for the continent?
This is a dream come true for all trade and development professionals. Having spent all of my career seeking trade deals for Africa, supporting Africa to shape strategies and policies for utilization and building capacities for knowledge and sector development – I am honored to have been part of the process of shaping the AfCFTA. For us as African professionals in trade, it is greatly symbolic to see that Africa has attained that which continues to elude the world: a large scale trade agreement that aims for deep liberalization – one which will call for important domestic reforms. One which will have costs in transition and implementation – yet one which enjoys the highest level political support across Africa. Its’ timeframe for entry into force is, arguably a world record, judged by the pace of ratifications, for an agreement of this scale. This speaks to Africa’s determination to get the promise of trade for its people.
It could be the start of creation of industries of all sizes, a rising and conscious African market that gets confidence in continental products and one that gets an empowered and independent path to development. The benefits will out pass economic gain. We are on the edge of a social and cultural transformation that will promote brands such as make in Africa (for investment attraction); made in Africa (for origin qualification) pride in African products; and ultimately, what, in the words of the AU’s own development blueprint, is aptly termed: “The Africa We Want”. A final point on my assessment as a professional in the field is that implementing the AfCFTA will create a new market for African Think Tanks – to support evidence-based policies and strategies for implementation. It will create a new generation of African trade law specialists – who can support treaty implementation proper as well as the resolution of disputes. Linked to the latter is the need for a crop of jurists who will need to support the resolution process. It will have also created and strengthened the cadre of trade negotiators, skilled in the arcane field of negotiating tariffs, non-tariff measures and trade regulations, and being prepared for continued negotiations in the continent or outside in the international trade arena. Finally on the knowledge point, there will be need for more teachers to share knowledge in our institutions on the opportunities created in the AfCFTA and raise awareness. Curriculum development, training and capacity building on trade law, economics and development is now to be a hot career choice for professionals in Africa. This makes me particularly proud to see.
We noticed that there are a still a number of countries notable Nigeria that have not yet signed it, considered that this is the economic powerhouse of Africa, how does the absence of Nigeria impact the enforcement and effectiveness of the agreement?
Nigeria is yet to sign onto the AfCFTA and deposit its instrument of ratification. For reasons of effectiveness, it is desirable that Nigeria joins the AfCFTA – still hopefully as a Founding Member, not least because it is the economic powerhouse in Africa. This would allow it to take advantage of the large opportunities to be created, yet also provide a market for African exports. The domestic consultations, we are informed, are ongoing and there have been pronouncements, including at the highest level, of support for the AfCFTA. After 16 years in the business of trade negotiations, I am more convinced than ever – that strong preparatory work determines a steady and effective path to implementation. In this line of argumentation, the delay of Nigeria, if hinged on getting the domestic consultations finalized as well as the reform agenda needed to faithfully implement the Agreement, is positive. It is true though that there has to be a price for accession – which will be difficult to avoid when countries are not ‘Founding Members”. Like others, the call from UNCTAD, is for all African countries to take the opportunity of the AfCFTA by joining – and use all of the available tools to support implementation.
There has been no shortage of lofty agreements in Africa, but a missing ingredient has been the political will, how committed do you think African countries are to the effective implementation of the AFCFTA?
An agreement that has, from commencement of negotiations (February 2016) to adoption (March 2018) – taken a little over two years – is demonstration of strong political will. The fact that the approaches adopted for the design of the AfCFTA relied heavily on REC developments and dynamics is a vote of confidence (read political will) in integration in Africa. The pace at which ratifications have trickled in – is also unprecedented. Moreover, an extraordinary Summit of African Union Heads of States and Governments is scheduled for July 2019 to officially launch the operational phase of the AfCFTA with key support initiatives to be unveiled during the event.
The commitment of African leaders – from the top through to technocrats that shape the day to day work on the AfCFTA, is strong. Business and Civil Society have also been engaged. Across the board, you do get a sense of a great dose of political will – which will be central to ensuring that needed reforms are prioritized at country and regional level – for effective implementation.
Still on the level of implementation, let’s take the example of Rwanda where its border with Uganda has been shut with unfortunate economic consequences for months now, how could situations like this impact the implementation of the AFCFTA?
The AfCFTA will create the needed momentum to remove obstacles to trade across Africa. At the forthcoming AU Summit, the AU will launch an Online Platform to report non-tariff barriers in the AfCFTA, that it has developed with the support of UNCTAD. This will allow private sector and policy makers to identify and resolve such barriers in the implementation structures of the AfCFTA. The online tool will be accompanied by national institutions that would be geared to address the complaints raised and remove them, so trade is not unnecessarily hinder or obstructed by non-tariff barriers.
What impact do you think the agreement could have on trade with countries like China, Europe, the USA and other foreign countries seeking to bolster trade ties with Africa?
The purpose of the AfCFTA is to increase intra-African trade. New opportunities in intra-African trade will do for Africa what closer regional integration did for Europe and other large powers. African producers will establish channels of production to utilize these opportunities. These products will be of higher value, more diversified and in bigger volumes. Naturally, the focus on intra-African trade may be seen as an inward strategy. But the fundamentals of this being the approach that will support industrial development and structural transformation, are solid.
The AfCFTA gives countries like China, Europe, the US what they have asked for a while – clear, rules based environments of policy and legal predictability in Africa. Their support will be important in getting the capacity development agenda off the ground – to build productive capacity for intra-African trade in Africa. It is important to note though, that it is not only countries but also global firms, that could be attracted to Africa.
Africa will be better positioned to engage with “third countries” – thanks to the AfCFTA – whose rules have particular provisions on how to manage such relations. In the case of the multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO, it is unquestionable that all of the important successes that have been registered for Africa within the work of the WTO have been achieved thanks to a united Africa – the so called WTO Africa Group. The AfCFTA stands to build on that progress by creating clarity to the African position on complex issues across trade and development. And this is important especially because much of the engagement of Africa in the MTS has been positioned around the call for flexibility, special and differential treatment. In the period of WTO reform, having a unified African position on tariffs and industry, on services regulation, on non-tariff barriers – (the core of trade policy etc.) will allow for the articulation of a stronger voice from Africa to the world. This will play a positive role in the beneficial integration of Africa into the multilateral trading system.
There seems to be a lot of optimism about the AFCTA, at what point should everyday ordinary Africans expect to feel its impact in their lives?
The Agreement has entered into force and in the coming weeks, the African Union Heads of State will launch its operational phase. Ordinary Africans should not wait to feel the impact on their lines – rather, they should create this impact– by engaging in production for export. Once the tariff books (or services sectoral regulations) are changed to reflect AfCFTA preferential treatment for its states parties – it will be visible. And yet it can only be visible for those who are ready to utilize. So, there will be no manna from heaven. For those that engage in production or have services to export, the treatment received thanks to the AfCFTA – will be the occasion to feel the impact. And one can imagine that such an impact would cascade down to communities, families, people – improving their lives with the dividend of new markets.
There will be revenue losses from implementing the AfCFTA. These, according to UNCTAD studies, will be in the short term. However, the long-term gains outweigh the losses. Moreover, there are in-built flexibilities to deal with tariff revenue and welfare losses. Some of these include compensatory measures, flanking policies and adjustment measures. It is also worth recalling that the loss of revenue and its magnitude would need to be calibrated to the reality of the still low levels of intra-Africa trade.
UNCTAD’s relationship of support for trade capacity development predates the AfCFTA. We have been involved, from the times of translating the political decision into modalities for negotiations. We have provided technical studies and options for negotiations, working with the technical teams in the AU to prepare data, analysis and propose options for outcomes that support developmental regionalism. The Secretary General of UNCTAD took a decision to establish the UNCTAD Regional Office for Africa – which I have the privilege to head. The Office has been a fulcrum of UNCTAD’s support to the AfCFTA –bringing some of the world’s best minds on various complex trade topics, from headquarters, to advise the AUC Department on Trade and Industry – and to be available in negotiating institutions to provide study findings, data and analysis and overall technical support to AU Members. The AU designated UNCTAD a Technical Partner to the negotiations – and this has allowed for a seamless flow of support – much to the appreciation of African Union Member States – who are on record in awarding UNCTAD a certificate of appreciation for the technical support in the AfCFTA negotiations.
As we move to Niamey, the Secretary General of UNCTAD and the President of Niger are poised to launch the continental non-tariff barrier reporting and eliminating online mechanism before Heads of State. For as any trade negotiations professional will tell you – there is one thing that is for sure – as tariffs go down, non-tariff barriers rise…
Looking ahead towards implementation, UNCTAD as the lead agency within the United Nations supporting countries in developing policies for trade-led growth, will continue to support the African Union Commission, and the institutional structures in place for implementation. UNCTAD’s Divisions – all of which have played a key role in supporting the negotiations – in particular the Division on Trade in Goods and Commodities, the Investment Division, the Statistics Branch, and the Africa and Least Developed Countries Division – will continue to support implementation – particularly as we get not only into phase II of the negotiations on which we are already working with the AU – but also as we shift focus to the pressing question of building productive capacities…In a sense therefore, we are very much at the early stages of a long road ahead…
 The African Continental Free Trade Area: The day after the Kigali Summit. UNCTAD Policy Brief No. 67 of May 2018
Don’t Expect Justice From the Imperial Criminal Court
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Justin Podur*
-The ICC provides no legal counterbalance to the arrogance of an empire’s power.
In June, a group of international lawyers sued the European Union for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The lawyers claim that when the EU switched to a policy of deterring refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2014, in particular trying to prevent Libyan refugees from fleeing their destroyed state, they killed thousands of refugees and sent tens of thousands more back to Libya to be enslaved, tortured, raped, and killed.
As a symbolic gesture, the lawsuit is powerful. But the possibility of getting justice for Libyan refugees from the ICC is practically nonexistent.
In fact, the ICC bears some responsibility for the destruction of the Libyan state that led to the refugee crisis in the first place. When the United States decided to overthrow Gaddafi in 2011, it had the UN Security Council make a “referral” of the Libyan situation to the ICC. There were some peculiarities in the details of the referral as well: the ICC was directed to investigate the situation in Libya, exempting non-state actors, since February 15, 2011. “It would appear,” scholar Mark Kersten writes in a chapter in the 2015 book Contested Justice (pg. 462), “that the restriction to events after 15 February 2011 was included in order to shield key Western states… In the years preceding the intervention, many of the same Western states that ultimately intervened in Libya and helped overturn the regime had maintained close economic, political and intelligence connections with the Libyan government.” The African Union, led by the South African president, tried to broker a peace deal between Gaddafi and the rebels: Gaddafi accepted, but the rebels refused. For them, Gaddafi had to go. And the ICC investigation strengthened their hand. In Libya, the ICC was harmful to a negotiated solution.
In general, the ICC prefers war to negotiated peace. As scholar Phil Clark pointed out in his 2018 book Distant Justice (pg. 91): “… the ICC has expressed immense scepticism toward peace negotiations involving Ugandan and Congolese suspects whom it has charged—especially when those talks involve the offer of amnesty—but has strongly supported militarised responses to these suspects and their respective rebel movements. In short, the ICC has viewed ongoing armed conflict rather than peace talks as more useful for its own purposes.” The president of the DR Congo’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission told Clark in an interview (pg. 223): “The ICC came up forcefully in our discussions with several rebel leaders… We would start talking to them, make good progress, then the conversation would stop. They didn’t want to incriminate themselves, even when we stressed that the amnesty was in place.” In the DR Congo, the ICC made offers of amnesty less credible. Rebel leader Mathieu Ngudjolo was pardoned in 2006, integrated into the army, promoted to the rank of colonel, and then arrested on an ICC warrant 18 months later: the government’s “duplicity toward an amnesty recipient undermined the broader use of amnesty as an incentive for members of rebel groups to disarm” (pg. 203).
The ICC’s careful selection of when it investigates crimes (like limiting its Libya investigation to crimes after February 15, 2011, or its predecessor the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda limiting its investigation to crimes committed after the assassination of the Rwandan president on April 6, 1994) is mirrored in its careful selection of where it investigates and where it ignores. Take the DR Congo again: the ICC limited its mandate to the province of Ituri. Horrific violence took place in Ituri, but there was less violence overall than in the Kivu provinces (especially North Kivu). Why didn’t the ICC investigate in the Kivus? Because in the Kivus, the worst crimes were committed by armed groups supported by Rwanda and Uganda, favored U.S. allies in the region. When Sri Lanka’s government killed tens of thousands of people at the end of its counterinsurgency war against the Tamil Tigers in 2009, the ICC wrung its hands: Sri Lanka wasn’t a signatory to the Rome Statute that empowered the ICC.
The ICC gets even twistier when it comes time to prevent accountability for Israel. After the Goldstone report on Israel’s massacres in Gaza in 2008/9, Palestinians tried to bring a suit to the ICC against the Israeli generals and politicians who organized them. David Bosco reports in his book Rough Justice (pg. 162) that the Israelis met with Ocampo and “pressed Moreno-Ocampo to determine quickly that Palestine was not a state and that the court could therefore not accept its grant of jurisdiction.” The Americans told Ocampo “that they saw little value in ‘criminalizing the world’s longest running and most intractable regional dispute.’” Moreno saw the light: “The prosecutor’s long-awaited decision on Palestine—released in April 2012… more than three years after Palestine asked the court to investigate, the prosecutor decided that it was not his role to determine Palestine’s legal status.” The massacred Palestinians were colonized, and therefore stateless. Only states can sign the Rome Statute and bring the ICC in. Therefore, the ICC had no jurisdiction over the 2008/9 massacres of the Palestinians.
When the U.S. and UK saw no benefit to having the ICC involved in Afghanistan, the ICC prosecutor (Bosco, pg. 163): “limited himself to occasional private requests and put no pressure on involved states. That approach contrasted sharply with his willingness to sharply chastise states for their failure to enforce existing arrest warrants.”
Given the proclivity of the Western coalition in Afghanistan for bombing weddings and operating death squads (sometimes euphemistically called “kill teams”), their squeamishness in the face of potential legal probes is understandable. The ICC, like its predecessor tribunals on Rwanda and Yugoslavia, fully understands that the U.S. and UK are exempt from its brand of justice. Bosco (pg. 66) quotes British Foreign Minister Robin Cook speaking about the international tribunal after the Kosovo war in 1999: “If I may say so, this is not a court set up to bring to book Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom or Presidents of the United States.” Legal scholar Hans Kochler, writing in 2003 (pg. 178), quoted NATO spokesman Jamie Shea, who responded, when asked if he would accept the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY)’s jurisdiction over NATO officials: “… I think we have to distinguish between the theoretical and the practical. I believe when Justice [Louise] Arbour starts her investigation, she will because we will allow her to. It’s not [Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic that has allowed Justice Arbour her visa to go to Kosovo to carry out her investigations. If her court, as we want, is to be allowed access, it will be because of NATO… So NATO is the friend of the Tribunal, NATO are the people who have been detaining indicted war criminals for the Tribunal in Bosnia.”
NATO’s spokesman reminded the world that as a “practical” matter, since it was Western militaries and police services that provide the law enforcement services to the ICC, these Western militaries wouldn’t subject themselves to the ICC’s justice. The second ICTY prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, admitted her dependence on NATO forces and the partiality of justice that ensued (quoted in Bosco pg. 66): “if I went forward with an investigation of NATO, I would not only fail in this investigative effort, I would render my office incapable of continuing to investigate and prosecute the crimes committed by the local forces during the wars of the 1990s.”
The ICC’s prosecutors depend on Western forces to make arrests and renditions. The ICC also recycles intelligence material from these Western countries into evidence against ICC suspects. This should be a legal problem: intelligence material is not evidence. There are many people trapped in Kafkaesque situations precisely because courts used intelligence materials—which are best guesses and probabilities used to inform police and military actions usually before events occur—as evidence, which should consist of provable facts intended to hold people accountable after the fact. Canadian academic Hassan Diab—imprisoned in France based on a similar-sounding name in a notebook from an intelligence agency interrogation—is just one example.
There was a time, decades ago, when the ICC was forming, when American and Israeli officials were actually worried about the prospect of a court that had universal jurisdiction. Suddenly, U.S. officials talked about national sovereignty. At that time you could hear John Bolton arguing that it was a bad idea “assert the primacy of international institutions over nation-states.” Bolton was very explicit about his problems with the U.S. being a party to the ICC, as quoted by Mahmood Mamdani in 2008:
“‘Our main concern should be for our country’s top civilian and military leaders, those responsible for our defense and foreign policy.’ Bolton went on to ask ‘whether the United States was guilty of war crimes for its aerial bombing campaigns over Germany and Japan in World War II’ and answered in the affirmative: ‘Indeed, if anything, a straightforward reading of the language probably indicates that the court would find the United States guilty. A fortiori, these provisions seem to imply that the United States would have been guilty of a war crime for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is intolerable and unacceptable.’ He also aired the concerns of America’s principal ally in the Middle East, Israel: ‘Thus, Israel justifiably feared in Rome that its pre-emptive strike in the Six-Day War almost certainly would have provoked a proceeding against top Israeli officials. Moreover, there is no doubt that Israel will be the target of a complaint concerning conditions and practices by the Israeli military in the West Bank and Gaza.’”
Near the end of his term, Clinton signed the Rome Statute. At the beginning of his term, George W. Bush had Bolton “unsign” it, and negotiate bilateral agreements with the countries of the world that they would never hand Americans over to any international courts. The U.S. went even further, passing in 2002 the Armed Service-Members Protection Act, which includes the line: “The United States is not a party to the Rome Statute and will not be bound by any of its terms. The United States will not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over United States nationals.” Then the U.S. got the Security Council to pass resolutions enshrining U.S. immunity.
Israel also never signed the Rome Statute, which is why its officials are now arguing that the ICC has no jurisdiction in an ICC suit about another massacre it committed, this time on a boat trying to relieve the Gaza siege in 2010.
The powerful are exempt from the ICC’s justice. But the U.S. does believe in a kind of universal jurisdiction: its own. Kochler (2003, pg. 106) cites an internal Department of Justice memorandum from the George H.W. Bush era stating the opinion that the FBI has the power “to apprehend and abduct a fugitive residing in a foreign state when those actions would be contrary to customary international law.” That memo was from 1989, and it was about arresting Manuel Noriega, the president of Panama who fell afoul of the U.S., whose country was bombed and invaded, and who was taken away to jail.
The ICC won’t be doing anything for Libyan refugees or the victims of Israel’s massacres, but it continues to make strong statements about Sudan’s now ousted president Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for crimes committed as part of a counterinsurgency campaign in Darfur. The trial of an African leader from an enemy state, more than a decade after the crimes took place: now this is where the ICC shines.
In 2008, writing about the ICC’s arrest warrant for al-Bashir, Uganda-based scholar Mahmood Mamdani warned that the ICC was becoming a tool of neocolonial domination. The theory implicit in the ICC’s interventions, he wrote, “…turns citizens into wards. The language of humanitarian intervention has cut its ties with the language of citizen rights. To the extent the global humanitarian order claims to stand for rights, these are residual rights of the human and not the full range of rights of the citizen. If the rights of the citizen are pointedly political, the rights of the human pertain to sheer survival… Humanitarianism does not claim to reinforce agency, only to sustain bare life. If anything, its tendency is to promote dependence. Humanitarianism heralds a system of trusteeship.” And what is an empire if not a system of trusteeship?
The ICC provides no legal counterbalance to the arrogance of an empire’s power. It is the empire’s court.
*Source: Independent Media Institute. This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.Justin Podur is a Toronto-based writer and a writing fellow at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. You can find him on his website at podur.org and on Twitter @justinpodur. He teaches at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies.
A Memo to Paul Biya, President of Cameroon on: The Urgent Need for Public Policy Mediation and Negotiations in the Ongoing Armed Conflict in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Rev. Fr. Wilfred Emeh*
How did we get here?
It has been nearly three years since the unprecedented outbreak of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon – a crisis that has dealt a heavy blow on the facets of life of our beloved nation. The UN has reported nearly 2,000 deaths, property has been destroyed, schools have been torched, and uncertainty looms as thousands of people continue to live in misery. The devastation on our economy and human resources are inestimable; businesses have been forced to close, and talented citizens continue to flee their homeland. Thousands of families have been displaced, and many others have become refugees in foreign lands.
How did we get here? The escalation of the ongoing conflict is consequent upon grave administrative failures that include mass arrests and brutal force and extrajudicial killings at a time when peaceful civilians merely sought to express their grievances against the ruling government. Over time, insurgent groups emerged, acquired arms, and targeted the military and security officers, in what has become a full-blown armed conflict in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.
In retrospect, crass failure to implement educational and judicial policies, that are foundational principles of our co-existence, was the main cause of the Anglophone uprising. This was a glaring neglect of pertinent policies on equal partnership, the preservation of cultural heritage and identity of each region as stipulated by the union-agreement between the Francophone and the Anglophone regions. Evidently, this failure of policy implementation was a symptom of more profound ailments within our political institution that favors corruption, marginalization and social injustice. The implementation of policies, especially those that are constitutionally founded, are essential in the democratic decision-making process of every nation.
Despite the current situation, it would be in our national interest if all parties resort to the public policy mediation process which is an inclusive, transparent process of negotiations among government agency officials and diverse stakeholders that often results in consensus agreements rooted in nuanced understandings of a conflict (Potziba, 2019). This memo largely seeks to identify the root causes of the current crisis and propose recommendations for a swift resolution of the ongoing armed conflict.
Where are we?
So far, the government’s approach and tactics have been futile; attempts to set up a bilingualism commission failed no less than the authoritative leadership style. On the other hand, opposition groups have engaged in propaganda and destructive ideologies. Several factions have emerged with multiple pseudo-leaderships, void of any clear sense of direction. Civil rights activists are in jail while young people have been radicalized. The future is bleak as there seems to be no real leadership on either side of the aisle. And, while the government persists in cracking down on political activists and insurgents, the latter seem resolved to resist and fight back to the last ounce of their blood. It is rightly said, “as hunters have learned to shoot without missing, birds will have no choice but learn to fly without perching.”
Consequently, our people are hurting. Worse still, both the government and the separatist forces seem to be on extreme ends of the political spectrum. Clearly without any strategies or plans for a resolution, an already precarious economy is worsening by the day, while armed bandits continue to terrorize and harass hard working civilians.
Brief theoretical framework
There is urgent need for public policy mediation, which should include revisiting the political roots of the problem in a spirit of dialogue, conferences and negotiation. “In several Western democracies, attempts have been made to find a way out of these problems by trying out new forms of conflict resolution based upon negotiation and participatory procedures such as policy dialogue, consensus conferences, participatory technology assessment, mediation, or facilitation” (Holzinger, 2001).
The benefits of policy mediation and negotiation are enormous; it brings together policy experts from international platforms who will forge the path to a lasting resolution. Usually policy mediation fosters deliberations among parties that represent every aspect of a situation, supported by expertise as needed, resulting in agreements that avoid unintended consequences (Podziba, 2019).
Another important benefit of policy mediation is face-to-face deliberations that promote civil discourse. This is quite different from the vitriolic attacks and incivility that we have also witnessed on social media platforms, spewed by both the government spokespersons and opposition groups.
Negotiation and policy mediation are bedfellows, encouraging the willingness of both parties to shift positions with a clear focus on a win-win outcome. During successful negotiation, emotions are separated from the factual basis of the problem, shifting the focus to the benefits without the pride of clinging to positions. Lines of communication are opened, paving the way toward rational analysis of arguments, discussion of concessions and pursuit of compromise to the benefit of everyone.
Understandably, the ruling government has an uphill task in initiating dialogue with diverse opposition groups, some of which have been tagged as terrorists. This must be dealt with initially as it is the outcome of the delegitimization of the premier civil rights consortium. A committed public relations bureau of the government with sound knowledge on the issues should identify the main rival groups and extend an invitation to them.
What must we do?
- Amidst these tumultuous times, political leaders need to rise beyond personal feelings, hurt, and mistakes of the past and look at the bigger picture: the future of our children, peace, and stability are priceless. It is time to demonstrate true leadership by involving the grassroots in a process of dialogue that can bring real change in Cameroon. Richard Box (1998) explains that finding a way to equitably resolve differences is a key interpersonal skill, opening the door to more citizen-oriented governance. For elected leaders and public service practitioners, this means a flexible attitude toward change, shedding of protective feelings of personal turf, and a willingness to engage in open dialogue on issues facing the community (as cited in Denhardt et al., 2014).
- The time for blame games is over. It is urgent for warring factions to come to the negotiating table in a spirit of sincere dialogue that allows deliberations on all options including federalism. The current efforts being made to host an All-Anglophone Conference (November 21-22) is commendable. These kinds of initiatives – notably dialogues led by civil society, whether secular or religious – should get strong support from governments and international organizations, including the U.S., the European Union, the African Union, and even the Vatican. The International Crisis Group has recommended the Catholic Church as potential mediator of the crisis.
- There is need for a neutral arbiter in the policy mediation process. This is no longer an internal affair as often claimed by some overzealous political pundits. The constant refrain by Anthony Guiterez, Secretary General of the UN, that Africans should solve their own problems, is unrealistic, perhaps even bizarre. We would be repeating mistakes of the past to the detriment of human life and human dignity.
- A decentralized form of government should be considered to better serve the needs of the people, which would devolve power and control to the local communities, limiting the concentration of management of the nation’s resources in the hands of a few high-positioned officials. By shifting control rights from the central bureaucrat (who otherwise acts like an unregulated monopolist) to a local government, decentralization typically tends to expand service deliveries as authority goes to those more responsive to user needs (Bardhan, 2002).
In conclusion, our nation must strive toward good governance. Most armed conflicts in Africa are caused by bad governance. All over the world, people naturally rise against regimes that deprive them of their rights and privileges due to institutional corruption. In retrospect, armed conflicts in Nigeria, Mali, Sudan, Liberia, just to mention a few, were all linked to bad governance. The United Nation Children’s Fund notes, “corruption and bad governance were among the causes of war. The majority of the people had no voice in the government and no opportunities in life and so they were easily provoked to violence” (as cited in Yiew et al., 2016). Good governance is key to mitigating armed conflict. Empirical studies show that countries that uphold democratic principles, where corruption is under control, where law and order is maintained, where the people are served accordingly, are less vulnerable to armed conflicts (Yiew et al., 2016).
Bardhan P. (2002). Decentralization of governance and development. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16(4), 185–205. Retrieved from https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/089533002320951037
Birkland, T. A. (2015). An introduction to the policy process: Theories, concepts, and models of public policy making. Routledge.
Denhardt, R., Denhardt, J., & Blanc, T. (2014). Public administration: An action orientation (7th ed.). Cengage Learning
Holzinger, K. (2001). Negotiations in public-policy making: Exogenous barriers to successful dispute resolution. Journal of Public Policy, 21(1), 71-96.
Konings, P., & Nyamnjoh, F. B. (1997). The anglophone problem in Cameroon. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 35(2), 207-229.
Podziba, S. L. (2019). Conflict, Negotiation, and Public Policy Mediation in the Trump Era. Negotiation Journal, 35(1), 177-181.
Staff, C (2018). Cameroon cardinal helping organize conference to tackle Anglophone crisis. Retrieved from https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2018/08/04/cameroon-cardinal-helping-organize-conference-to-tackle-anglophone-crisis/
Yiew, T. H., Habibullah, M. S., Law, S. H., & Azman-Saini, W. N. W. (2016). Does bad governance cause armed conflict? International Journal of Applied Business and Economic Research, 14(6), 3741-3755.
*Rev. Wilfred Emeh is a doctoral student in Public Administration at the West Chester University in Pennsylvania. His area of concentration is governance and armed conflict in Africa
Cameroon: Unidentified gunmen kidnap SDF’s Fru Ndi
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The National chairman of the Social Democratic Party, SDF Ni John Fru Ndi has reportedly been kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Bamenda, North West Region of Cameroon. The incident took place in the early hours of June 28. It is still unclear as to who is behind that latest attack or the motive behind the kidnapped.
His body guard was reportedly shot on the leg by the armed men before making away with the Chairman.
This is the second time the SDF chairman has been reportedly kidnapped. Ni John Fru Ndi’s first kidnapped was on April 27 at Wainama as he was leading a delegation to bury Honourable Joseph Banadzem in Kumbo. He was briefly questioned before he was later released, sources said.
However, party sources had dismissed the notion the Chairman was kidnapped, rather saying it was a ‘misunderstanding’ between the Chairman and the armed men which was immediately sorted out.
In a press release, Jean Robert Wafo Minister of SDF shadow cabinet in charge of information and media said “The national president of Sdf, the chairman Ni John Fru Ndi was the victim of an abduction by unidentified kidnappers this afternoon around 15h30mn. They entered his residence in Ntarikon with Bamenda with guns and fired point-blank at his bodyguard, and then multiplied the shots warning.” “The chairman who was inside the house went out to inquire about the situation and it was then that the attackers removed him to an unknown destination.”
“The SDF will advise as necessary the national and international opinion on this new kidnapping which takes place almost two months to the day after that of April 27th” He added.
The SDF national chairman has been a strong critic of the separatist fighters who are clamoring for separation. The SDF chairman has called on the separatist fighters to go back to their main aim when they stated the fight that they have lost their way. Family members of Ni John Fru Ndi have been kidnapped in the past.
The crisis in the North West and South West Regions of the country has caused many to flee their homes into bushes or neighboring regions. Kidnappings, killings is the other of the day in the regions. More than 200 houses have been partly or completely destroyed, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee. The rate of attacks on villages have increased steadily, usually causing significant damage. Some 450,000 and 550,000 people have been displaced as a result of the crisis, representing about 10 percent of the regions’ population. An additional 30,000 to 35,000 people have sought asylum in neighboring countries.
This is a developing story…..