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African countries making headway in tackling tax evasion and money laundering, 2020 Tax Transparency report says
June 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

African countries made great strides in strengthening commitments and capacity to achieve tax transparency and exchange information on illicit fund flows in 2019, the latest Tax Transparency in Africa report, launched Thursday, revealed.

Tax Transparency in Africa 2020 – produced by the Global Forum for Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, the African Union and African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), in close partnership with the African Development Bank – noted the need for African countries to engage further in revenue mobilization, a concern sharpened by the backdrop of the ongoing global novel coronavirus pandemic. The report was published during a virtual launch.

The report provides comparable tax transparency statistics to aid decision makers to address illicit fund flows. The 2020 report covers 32 Global Forum member countries, and three non-members: Angola, Guinea Bissau and Malawi.

 “This annual publication of the Tax Transparency in Africa is part of the various efforts of the continent to advance global tax transparency and exchange of information agenda in Africa in order to combat corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, base erosion, and profit shifting and illicit enrichment,” said Victor Harrison, African Union Commission Commissioner for Economic Affairs, in the report’s preface.

Illicit financial flows in Africa are estimated at between $50 billion and $80 billion annually; 44% of Africa’s financial wealth is thought be held offshore, which corresponds to tax revenue losses of €17 billion.

Participating countries show significant advances on the AI’s two core pillars: raising political awareness and commitment and developing capacities in tax transparency and exchange of information.

Marie Jose Garde, Chair of the Global Forum, chaired the live event. Other participants included: Head of the Global Forum Secretariat Zayda Manatta; African Tax Administration Executive Secretary Logan Wort; Marcello Estevao, Global Director, Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment of the World Bank, and the African Development Bank’s Director, Governance and Public Financial Management, Abdoulaye Coulibaly. 

Ms. Manatta praised African countries’ growing proactive role in tax transparency and noted the benefits of existing exchange-sharing tools. “Requests for information directly translate into additional tax revenue and that’s what counts.  We have five African countries identifying nearly $12 million in additional revenue, and eight African countries secured $189 million of additional revenue between 2014 and 2019.”    

Mr. Coulibaly said, “The African Development Bank firmly believes that collaborations with both regional and international partners are key to moving forward the agenda on tax transparency which has significant impact on domestic resource mobilization, the achievement of the SDGs and other regional aspirations including the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Bank’s own High Fives.”  .

He also underscored that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic recalls the critical importance of domestic resource mobilization in Africa, in particular in relation to tax transparency and the fight against illicit flows, in order to further protect populations against threats to their livelihoods.

The Africa Initiative, which launched in 2014, is a partnership of the Global Forum, its African members and regional and international organizations, including the African Development Bank, ATAF, and The World Bank. The Global Forum has a self-standing dedicated secretariat based in the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration.

The African Development Bank, an observer to the Global Forum since 2014, also participates in the Africa Initiative. The Bank promotes African tax transparency through support to institutions and non-state actors in its regional member countries and by strengthening international co-operation to eliminate IFFs.

*AFDB.To download the full report click here

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African Development Fund approves COVID-19 Response grants for six Southern African countries and São Tomé & Príncipe
June 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund on Tuesday approved nearly $8.9 million in grant funding to bolster COVID-19-related control measures in six Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. Separately, the Board approved $683,000 in grants to São Tomé & Príncipe, to support the two-island nation’s response to the pandemic and its impacts. The grant funding comes under the Bank’s COVID-19 Response Facility.

The funds will facilitate the procurement of laboratory and medical supplies, including testing kits, personal protective gear and non-invasive ventilators in Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, all SADC nations. The SADC Secretariat is the recipient and the implementing agency of the grant.

The financing will reinforce the SADC ’s capacity to coordinate pandemic response measures, including surveillance and sensitization in the six beneficiary countries.

The SADC countries and São Tomé & Príncipe have inadequate resources and capacity to effectively manage the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put a strain on already fragile health systems in the countries. “As a result, these countries are now struggling to respond effectively to the fast-evolving situation posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Bank noted.

Although the spread of COVID-19 has been slow in Africa, it continuous to steadily spread through the continent, leaving in its wake disruptions and hardship caused by economic lockdowns.

The pandemic is projected to have a substantial economic impact on the SADC member countries. For instance, real GDP in all the SADC countries, except Zimbabwe, is forecast to contract in 2020.

The approved project aligns with two of the Bank’s High Five priority areas: improving the quality of life for the people of Africa and integrating Africa, as well as the SADC Disaster Preparedness and Response Mechanism to fight disasters and pandemics.

The 16-nation SADC region had recorded around 120,000 COVID-19 cases out of a continent-wide total of 325,000 cases as of 24 June 2020. Reported cases in São Tomé and Príncipe stood at about 700, in a population of around 211,000 people.

*AFDB

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Gabon: African Development Bank approves 100.5 million euros budget support for COVID-19
June 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has approved a 100.5 million euros loan to the government of Gabon as budget support to mitigate against the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The loan will support the central African nation’s Budget Support Programme in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis or PABURC, which aims to strengthen the health system and mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on households and businesses.

“The response is focusing on containing the spread of the virus, increasing public resources allocated to the health sector, and boosting the resilience of the most vulnerable communities, as well as to maintain livelihoods and shore up domestic business and industry in order to maintain the production system and pave the way for rapid recovery,” said Abdoulaye Coulibaly, Bank Director, Governance and Public Financial Management.

The novel coronavirus is exerting strong pressure on a national health system that is not equipped to deal with major pandemics. Faced with a high risk of community transmission and the re-emergence of infectious and parasitic communicable diseases, health facilities in Gabon are insufficient.

The country has four recently constructed hospital centres, 9 regional hospitals, 47 departmental hospitals, 34 health centres, 413 dispensaries and 157 health huts, but only has 58 intensive care beds.

The drop in global demand and the sharp fall in oil prices has hit the oil-rich nation, contributing to a sharp deterioration in Gabon’s terms of trade and a significant drop in budget revenues. Given the limited budgetary margins, and the insufficient human and financial resources allocated to health, the country faces a crisis. The national social security system and family benefits scheme, which has been mobilized to respond to the crisis, requires improvement.

Bank analysts warn that Gabon, like much of the globe and the rest of the continent, could fall into recession in 2020, and estimate a negative real GDP growth rate of -1.7% for the country, due to the pandemic.

Gabon recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on 12 March 2020. As of 24 June 2020, the number of cases stood at 4,849, with 39 deaths and 2,107 recoveries. The hotspot of the pandemic remains the capital Grand Libreville and Port-Gentil.

*AFDB

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International community shows strong support for Sudan with $1.8 billion pledge
June 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

Over $1.8 billion dollars in pledges for Sudan poured in during a high-level Sudan Partnership Conference held on Thursday, 25 June 2020, marking an important step in the African nation’s re-engagement with the international community.

African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund chiefs attended the Conference, which was co-hosted by the Republic of the Sudan, the Federal Republic of Germany, the European Union and the United Nations, and held virtually in Berlin. Other participants included delegations from 50 countries and international organisations.

“This Conference signals the strong and full return of Sudan to the international community, “ said Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Republic of the Sudan, as he outlined the progress of the nation from war, conflicts, economic collapse and isolation, to relinking with the rest of the world. Hamdok said the meeting was convened for an open exchange of views to support “a comprehensive home-grown policy reform agenda.”

In turn, governments and delegations expressed their support for the Transitional Government headed by Prime Minister Hamdok, pledging unprecedented support to help Sudan achieve its goals for a free, peaceful, just, inclusive and prosperous nation, and to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Conference acknowledged the urgent need to support Sudan in addressing its acute economic crisis, which has been exacerbated by the additional challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many participants also called for debt relief for the country.

 “The level of participation is unprecedented. This is a tide of support and solidarity we are hoping for,” Hamdok said. “Thank you so much, thank you friends.”

H.E. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations said the world needed to “mobilise massive financial support for Sudan. The world needs a stable Sudan, a democratic Sudan…I’d like to see all nations united in support for Sudan,” Gutteres said.

The Transitional Government of Sudan has prioritized economic reforms and the recovery of assets stolen by its previous leaders, both domestically and internationally. It has made reviving productive sectors of the economy, job creation and inclusive and sustainable peace, the cornerstones of its reform process.

Opening the conference, Heiko Maas, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany said it was “a responsibility to stand by the people of Sudan and their revolution. “You have done a remarkable job of leading the country through the transition so far. I offer you Germany’s full support.”

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, spoke with similar sentiment, describing Sudan as a light of hope in Africa.

“The EU stands ready to assist Sudan. It is an investment worth making in the region…in order to set a reference for the world.”

The programme also featured a panel session comprising Sudanese Finance Minister, Ibrahim el-Badawi; Lena el-Sheikh Mahjoub, Minister of Labour and Social Development; African Development Bank President Akinwuni Adesina; President of the World Bank Group, David Malpass; and Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, on the theme of supporting Sudan’s economic reform agenda.

The pledged funding contributions will support Sudan’s Transitional Government in meeting its priorities and launching of a formal process of political support for democratic reforms, peace, and the economic reform agenda. Much of the support will be earmarked for the Family Support Programme, which will provide humanitarian and social support and relief for close to 80% of the country’s population, 40 % of whom are unemployed.

“The African Development Bank has always been with Sudan from the very beginning. We never left Sudan for one day, even all the while that it was under economic sanctions. That is because we believe in Sudan,” Adesina said in remarks at the panel discussion. ““We provided, from our African Development Fund, $445 million dollars that we have for arrears clearance, which includes Sudan and Zimbabwe, and we are working very closely on that with many of you, including the World Bank and IMF.”

Minister Borrel said participants agreed on the need to hold a follow-up Partnership Conference in early 2021, in close cooperation with the Government of Sudan and the group of the “Friends of Sudan.” These include France, which has offered to host a high-level conference to launch the debt relief process for Sudan, allowing the full reintegration of Sudan into the international economic community.

Adesina said the African Development Bank has earmarked about $115 million in grants for the next three years to finance public sector projects and programs in Sudan, in addition to about $215 million grants provided in the last three years. Specifically, the Bank will support Sudan to strengthen its health care systems with a grant of about $30 million to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

*AFDB

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Cameroon:The Salary Cuts is Just a Temporary Issue — PCC Education Secretary on Strike of PEA Workers
June 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

There is no 50 per cent salary slash in PEA schools. It was a copping mechanism

By Boris Esono in Buea

L-R PCC Education Secretary Njie Kale Samuel and PCC National Communication Secretary Rev Mokoko Thomas
L-R PCC Education Secretary Njie Kale Samuel and PCC National Communication Secretary Rev Mokoko Thomas

Njie Kale Samuel, Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC) Education Secretary has said the present situation of Presbyterian Education Authority (PEA) Workers asked to take a 50 per cent salary pay cut is just temporary. To him, the government announce subvention which has not been done for some two years will see the salary situation of PEA teachers revert to normal.

The Education Secretary Njie Kale Samuel was speaking to Journalists June 27, 2020, during a press conference with the PCC National Communication Secretary Rev. Mokoko Thomas to address the salary imbroglio with some PEA teachers.

Some teachers have been protesting against the slashing of their salaries of up to 50% as it will be difficult for them to sustain themselves and their families.

In his opening remarks, the Educational Secretary made it categorically clear there was no general strike but an isolated issue. “Only in the campus of Mankon and Bafut that we had the teachers not 100 per cent who refused to go to class. In other areas we had a handful of teachers who did not go to class. There is no 50 per cent salary slash in PEA schools. It was a copping mechanism,” Njie Kale Samuel made it clear.

With the announcement payment of state subvention, something which has not been done for some two years now, the Educational Secretary noted that the present situation of the teachers will be redress and their full salaries will be paid.

According to information these PEA teachers were made aware of the decision to slash their salaries by 50 per cent. “Our proprietor send us an information that as from May our salaries will be slashed by 50 per cent. At the end of the month of May it was effected, and we were paid 50 per cent of the salary was paid,” Ntewa Boniface, Biology teacher in PSS Douala said.

As at the moment, PEA staff in all functional schools like PSS Mankon, PSS Bafut, PCSS Buea, PGSS Limbe, PSS Douala, and PCSS Yaounde has all been paid their full salaries up to April 2020, and some have even collected their 50 per cent for May 2020.

“We lastly received our salaries in the month of April, and this May and June I have not received, but I know I’ll receive by the Grace of God,” Misodi Rahel, Computer Science at PCSS Buea told reporters.

Joghia Emmanuel, Chemistry teacher at PCSS Buea said: “We received our last salary in the month of April and hoping that the salary situation will be addressed as soon as possible.”

Some teachers of PCC schools severely affected by the ongoing crisis, and have not taught for three years have still been paid their salaries. According to Ngoume Patience of PS Kotto Barombi, said that even though they are in the interior parts and have not been teaching for the past three years they appreciate the officials that they still provide them with their salaries.

In a document signed by the Proprietor dubbed, “current salary situation of Presbyterian Education Authority (PEA) Workers as at the 2019/2020 academic year”, indicated that during a meeting it was resolved that technical leave was granted to some teachers in the non-functional schools, while others saw their contracts terminated, and benefits paid following an established payment plan.

“… 168 teachers were redeployed to functional secondary schools according to needs and 33 for basic; while some students equally migrated to such schools to continue their studies,” the Moderator noted.

The current salary imbroglio that led to the isolated teachers strike in PSS Mankon and PSS Bafut came as a result of a provisional adjustment made by the Church Treasury only for this few months of financial hardship imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“… A protocol agreement was signed with the teachers and since January 2019 over 98.9 million francs has been paid to over 576 teachers as follows; 62.4 million francs to Basic and Secondary education teachers for the North West and 33.5 million francs for the South West.” The Church even at this point of the COVID-19 pandemic is doing everything to comply with the Protocol Agreement with continuous payments some up to 1.5 million francs for a single teacher (only for teachers in the non-functional school),” part of the document from the Moderator read.

It is important to note that since the outbreak of the Anglophone crisis in 2016, Presbyterian schools across the two English-speaking regions have suffered enormous setbacks due to the shutdown. More than 50% of the institution has been affected and rendered dysfunctional due to the school boycott, abductions, and acts of arson leading to a drastic in enrollment and revenue.

Speaking equally, the National Communication Secretary, Rev. Mokoko Thomas said not only teachers are being affected by the ongoing pandemic as other departments of the Church has been affected. He added that though some may not face salary dedication, the projects or some of them their allowances have been suspended or curtailed.

The Educational Secretary went on to note that teachers are not seeing the crisis that is ongoing but looking at their personal interests. The pandemic has affected schools under the Catholic and Baptist domain. “At the moment the annual increment which comes up every two years (teachers’ salaries moves up) cannot be maintained. We can only bring back the annual increment when the crisis ends,” the Education Secretary said.

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African Economic and Social Awakening: Lessons from Singapore
June 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Leoncio Amada NZE NLANG*

Leoncio Amada NZE NLANG is Executive President of the African Energy Chamber for the CEMAC Region
Leoncio Amada NZE NLANG is Executive President of the African Energy Chamber for the CEMAC Region

Singapore is a relatively young country, like many in Africa, but is now globally considered as an example to follow in terms of sustainable economic development.

With 1.2 billion people and the youngest population on the planet, the African continent has great potential and much room for improvement to become one of the most vibrant economic centers globally. To achieve this, the continent will have to undertake deep and painful but necessary structural reforms in its socio-economic architecture, if we are ever to get on board train that leads to progress and sustainable development. In this regard, the development model of Singapore offers several lessons.

Singapore is a relatively young country, like many in Africa, but is now globally considered as an example to follow in terms of sustainable economic development. Singapore is also mistakenly considered an economic miracle, even though nothing is further from reality. The success of Singapore is not a fortuitous event or a miracle, but the fruit of the effort, sacrifice and vision of men and women with a great sense of state who decided to work towards a common goal that was none other than getting their country out of the list of the poorest in Asia, and turn it into one of the richest and most prosperous on the planet.

It can be argued that no country made the leap from Third World poverty to the wealth of the developed world as quickly and completely as Singapore did. In the 1960s, Singapore was known for its opium lairs, gang-ridden streets, and racial tensions. It is now known for its high-tech industries, comfortable lifestyle, and high-speed internet penetration. Singapore emerged from being a tropical haven to become one of the richest nations in Asia in just only a few decades. Per capita gross domestic product increased from $516 in 1965 to $22,000 in 2004 to $50,123 in 2011 and to $66,000 in 2019, according to government statistics.

It is surprising to see how a small country of just 700 square kilometers with few natural resources has become one of the richest countries in the world in just five decades. At its accession to independence, the country’s per capita income was then comparable to that of countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, etc. Projections by the World Bank and other international institutions predict that by 2050 Singapore will continue to top the list of countries with the highest income.

When Lee Kuan Yew became prime minister in 1959, the country’s per capita income was just under $500. A short time later the Singapore Economic Development Board was created to design and implement a series of economic measures. At that time, Lee Kuan Yew decided to go for the secondary sector, initiating a prosperous stage of industrialization. The father of the nation knew how to create six decades ago a master plan on what his country should do to become a very prosperous nation in Southeast Asia. The central axis of that plan has been economic freedom and a high-end education. This vision was rewarded in the 1970s, by attracting foreign capital from oil companies and becoming one of the largest oil refining centers in the world.

Today, Singapore is one of the world leaders in a multitude of industries with high added value, as is the case of the petrochemical industry. If we have to explain the key to its success in the shortest possible way, we would cite the following factors:

  • Great sense of state.
  • Assumption of historical responsibilities
  • Very high degree of economic freedom.
  • Low tax pressure
  • Limited size of the State.
  • Trust in the internal financial system
  • Low public debt
  • Leading education.
  • Zero tolerance policy against corruption.

Although each country is unique and has a particular story to tell (with its strengths and weaknesses), the case of Singapore can serve as an example for African countries, in pursuit of structural reforms that are capable of creating economic and social development. Despite vast natural resources and a rapidly growing young population, Africa remains the worst-positioned in terms of world’s economic, human and social development indexes.

The African continent must build its own paradigm and economic model based on the values ​​of effort, discipline and free market. This requires, first and foremost, to ditch the development aid approach that has been adopted since the Second World War. After decades of failed policies, we believe that aid is unnecessary, prevents governments from seeking their own solutions, and encourages laziness. Therefore, the best thing Africans can do is to trust the market and its growth models. Africa must break its dependence on aid and work on strategic plans that would allow its people to be lifted out of poverty in an orderly and sustainable way through the promotion of entrepreneurship and free market. Aid has never been a catalyst to escape poverty and achieve economic development in any African country.

It should be Africans themselves who take the initiative and set themselves the goal of creating economies with a high regional and national content, since they have enough resources to achieve this strategic goal. It is paradoxical that the same countries that exploit the natural resources of the African continent later return a minimal part of the profits in the form of aid. The problem, then, is the inadequate management of resources and the technical incapacity to transform natural resources into added-value goods and services. Africans have to understand that they do not need others to build the house for them, but rather learn how to build it themselves. No help is bad as long as it is done in a selfless and responsible way.

In a globalized economy where the strategic interests of the most influential countries and economic poles set the agenda, control of economic springs and access to sources of financing become essential, as demonstrated during the Covid19 crisis. In this sense, it is urgent that Africa assumes its responsibility and the real control of African political and economic institutions. By way of illustration, many Africans complain and lament the dysfunctionality of continental political institutions such as the African Union (AU) for their inability to provide solutions to recurring problems at the continental level. A large part of the obstacles faced by the African Union in doing its job lie in the funding structure of its budgets.

At the AU Extraordinary Summit held in Niamey, Niger on July 2019, the Executive Council adopted the AU’s budget for the year 2020 of some $647.3m, the breakdown of which is as followed:

  1. $157.2m to fund the Union’s operating budget
  2. $216.9m will go to the program budget. The program budget to be funded at 41% by Member States and 59% by international partners.
  3. $273.1m to fund peace support operations. The budget for peace support operations to be funded by Member States at 38%, while 61% to be funded by international partners.

Given its funding, it is impossible for the African Union to be efficient and effective in solving African strategic issues when a large part of its funding depends on the good will of its economic and political adversaries in the global arena. With this structure, it is unimaginable that the AU can develop economic and social policies at the continental level that would allow African countries to position themselves in the international arena to compete with other economic poles on equal terms. As the popular saying goes: “the one who pays, rules.”

In the financial and banking spectrum, we can cite the shareholding architecture of the African Development Bank (AfDB), where we have 56.7% of voting rights in the hands of African States and 43.3% in the hands of non-African countries. With this architecture, it is impossible for the AfDB to have a 100% pro-African agenda without the interference of extra-African interests, since they hold a considerable decision-making power within the most prestigious financial institution on the African continent.

The same asymmetries are found in the extractive industries throughout the African continent. After more than seven decades of mining and oil exploitation, the continent still does not have control of these strategic sectors that constitute the locomotive of many African economies. Indeed, African oil and gas producing countries and exporters of other raw materials continue to depend entirely on the financing and technology of foreign companies where value is really added.

Big producers from other regions such as the Middle East have understood the game and participate in the entire value chain, from exploration, development, production, refining and transportation to international markets. It is in this sense that we continue to advocate for the responsible implementation on the African continent of Local Content policies in the extractive industries to ensure that African natural resources promote and pave the way towards a sustainable socioeconomic development of our continent.

Africa cannot live in autarchy. We need and must have commercial exchanges with the outside world. What needs to change and improve is the way in which these trade exchanges have been carried out so far and become more balanced and beneficial to the African people within the globalized economic system in which we are immersed. For this to be possible, we must ensure that private initiative is the one that takes the reins of economic activity in all sectors. For this to happen, efforts must be redoubled in the following aspects:

  1.  Promote the rule of law that guarantees the legal certainty that private investment needs,
  2. Work and promote economic freedoms,
  3. Adopt more favorable fiscal policies,
  4. Limited government within economic activity,
  5. Adoption of laws that prohibit excessive public indebtedness,
  6. Encourage and invest in a High-end education,
  7. A better redistribution of national wealth,
  8. Adoption of anti-corruption policies.

Singapore demonstrates that the most important resource that countries have is their human capital and that providing high quality education generates prosperity for all. Such returns on investment and social benefits are superior to any other policy. This remains a daunting task for Africa given the difficulties in accessing higher education, the low quality of programs or careers at universities and technological institutes, the disconnection between the curricula and the competences required in the labor market, as well as the deficit in the funding of public schools and universities.

Singapore also serves as a mirror to counter the culture of corruption that prevails in most African countries. In Singapore, anyone who uses illegal channels or promotes the misuse of public resources is severely punished, which produces trust and transparency in each of the processes that the Government carries out with third parties. Africa is still too far from the Singaporean example in these aspects, given the instability in legal rules for companies and citizens, many of which are counterproductive to economic growth and wealth generation.

Another lesson that African countries can learn from Singapore is the integration of technology and innovation to drive economic growth that is sustainable over time, as well as finding solutions to urban problems. It is necessary to consolidate productive synergies with more sophisticated goods and services or, in their effect, encourage other types of strategic sectors where the continent has great potential to position itself in the increasingly competitive global scenario. Unfortunately, Africa still remains a welfare-oriented continent and with ample resistance to change in the face of new trends that have already been successfully assimilated by others in global markets.

At the continental level, there is also a lack of true leadership that is visionary and inspiring to build a collective narrative that manages to bring together all countries and economic sectors, beyond confrontations and ideological speeches. Just as Singapore allowed the mixing of races so that beyond their ethnic or linguistic provenance they saw each other as people of one nation, the African continent must take advantage of its multiculturalism to encourage the development of its people who have been excluded from the benefits and advantages that the globalization brings.

If Africa manages to take this path, then perhaps one day we could live up to the Singaporean example and be recognized around the world, just like the successful model that led to fame and prosperity in the Asian country. Only in this way can we dream of talking about the “African miracle or awakening” in the not-too-distant future.

*Executive President of the African Energy Chamber for the CEMAC Region.African Energy Chamber

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Malawi: Initial results put opposition leader Chakwera in the lead
June 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By James Mwala

Malawi Congress Party, Lazarus Chakwera is poised of a win in Malawi’s fresh presidential election, preliminary results show.Photo/AMOS GUMULIRA AFP

Malawi Congress Party, Lazarus Chakwera is poised of a win in Malawi’s fresh presidential election, preliminary results show.

Unofficial results have put the leader of the country’s oldest party in the lead with relatively about 58% of the votes against the incumbent President Peter Mutharika whose Democratic Progressive Party still trails.

Chakwera is claiming the results having bonded with about eight other parties including the one led by Vice President Saulos Chilima, the UTM and former President Joyce Banda’s People’s Party.

The parties traded under the banner Tonse Alliance.

Mutharika on the other hand, patterned with the United Democratic Front, a party led by Atupele Muluzi, son to former leader Bakili.

The electoral commision is at the moment still receiving results from districts and has thus far announced results from three out of the twenty eight districts.

The commission legally holds eight days to announce the winner of the results.

Initially, a big twist came about when one of the candidates Peter Kuwani of the Mbakuwaku Movement applied to the commision to disqualify Mutharika and Chakwera for fielding new runningmates.

Kuwani had argued that this was against the court order that stances ahead of the elections remain as it were in the nullified poll.

MEC Chairperson Dr Chifundo Kachale however announced that the commission found that the arguments did not hold any water.

Meanwhile, Malawians are still anticipating the announcement although Tonse Alliance followers have stormed the social media in celebratory posts.

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Kenya:Another 2 patients die of Covid-19
June 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi

The number of people who have succumbed to the coronavirus in Kenya has increased from 130 to 132 after Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi announced two more deaths.

Addressing the press on Thursday afternoon at Kenyatta National Hospital, Dr. Mwangangi confimed 178 new cases out of 3,918 samples tested the last 24 hours.

The new cases consisted of 175 Kenyans and 3 foreign nationals aged between 1 and 76 years. One hundred and twenty three (123) are males and 55 females.

Nairobi produced 100 cases, Kajiado (21), Migori (17), Kiambu (16), Busia (8), Mombasa (7), Machakos (4), Nakuru (2), Uasin Gishu (1), Kericho (1) and Taita.

On a positive note, the Ministry of Health has discharged 34 patients from various health facilities across the country hence recoveries stand at 1,857.

She hinted that a number of Nairobi estates are still the novel virus hotspots.

 “Kawangware, Kilimani and Westlands still remain hotspots and we will continue watching how the virus progresses in those regions. Mombasa too has been put on high alert. This means that you are at a high risk of contracting the virus if you are in Mombasa and Nairobi,” Mwangangi said.

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Covid-19: Kenya’s cases cross over 5,000 mark
June 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

A member of Kenya Red Cross demonstrates hand-washing to members of the deaf community in Nairobi amid the COVID-19 pandemic [Georgina Smith/Al Jazeera]

The number of people who have contracted the coronavirus in Kenya has hit 5,206, said the Ministry of Health.

Speaking during the daily press briefing on the disease, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi announced 254 new cases detected from 4,859 samples in the last 24 hours.

All the new patients are Kenyans aged between 4 and 92 years with 186 being males and 68 females.

The latest cases were reported in various counties as follows: Nairobi (127), Mombasa (36), Migori (29), Kajiado (22), Kiambu (12), Busia (9), Uasin Gishu (5), Murang’a (3), Machakos (2), Kilifi (2), Nakuru, (1), Siaya (1), Taita Taveta (1), Garissa, (1), Isiolo (1), Kakamega, (1), Kisii (1).

She disclosed that Nairobi, Mombasa and Busia lead with the number of patients with the novel virus. The Kenya’s capital has recorded 2,428, Mombasa 1,304and Busia 361 cases.

So far 40 out of 47 counties have announced positive cases.

Dr. Mwangangi further added that 151, 396 samples have been analyzed since the African nation reported its first case.

On recovery, she averred that 41 patients had been discharged from hospitals between Tuesday and Wednesday raising the number to 1,823. However, the number of fatalities has increased by 2 to 130.

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To My White Brothers and Sisters
June 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Kevin-Prince Boateng*

This is not new. Let’s not pretend to be shocked now, says Kevin Prince Boateng of racism in soccer

This is not new.

Let’s not pretend to be shocked now.

Seven years ago, I was playing for Milan in a friendly game when a group of fans made monkey noises every time one of our black players touched the ball.

After 26 minutes I told the referee, “If they do that again, I’m gonna stop playing.”

He said, “No, don’t worry, just continue.”

Then, as I was trying to dribble past a player, I heard them again.

I grabbed the ball, booted it toward the stands and began to walk off the pitch.

It wasn’t the first time I had been racially abused. But this time I just exploded. When the referee tried to get me to play on, I said, “Shut the fuck up.” (Sorry for my language.) I told him, “You had the power to do something. You did nothing.” When a rival player wanted me to stay on, I said, “You shut the fuck up as well. What did you do about it? Do you like what they’re doing?”

As I walked towards the tunnel, our captain, Massimo Ambrosini, asked me, “Are you sure about what you’re doing?”

I said, “One hundred percent sure.”

Let me take a moment to explain why I did what I did. Some people have said that I’d never have done it in a Champions League game, where our team might be deducted points or whatever. But I couldn’t control it. I had bottled up so much anger and pain, and that day the lid just blew off. I know it’s difficult for white people to understand, but that’s because they have never been hated because their skin is a different colour. Still, let me try to explain.

When I was nine years old, I went to play in a tournament in East Germany. I grew up in a neighbourhood in Berlin that was poor, and that was also home to people who were from every corner of the world: Russia, China, Egypt, Turkey, everywhere. When we fought each other, it was because we disliked each other in that moment, not because of discrimination. I never experienced racism there.

But at the tournament in East Germany, I heard parents shouting at me from the sidelines.

“Tackle the n*****.”

“Don’t let the n***** play.”

I was so  confused. I had only heard that word like maybe in a song or a movie or something, but I knew it was something against my colour. I felt so alone. I felt as if I was in a place where I was not supposed to be — but this was only a six-hour drive from Berlin. How could they love me in one part of the country and hate me in another just because I’m a different colour? As a kid, you don’t understand that.

I had never spoken to anyone about how to deal with a situation like that. So on the bus back to Berlin, I burst into tears. My teammates started crying, too. None of us understood what had happened. I never told my mum about it. I just ignored it and kept going. I thought, It’ll go away.

But it didn’t. And every time I played in East Germany, it got heavier.

“For every goal you score, we’re gonna give you a banana.”

“I’m gonna put you in a box and send you back to your country, fucking n*****.”

It hurt so badly. When I was 14, I asked my teacher, “Do you see me differently from the other kids?”

He said, “No. Why?”

I said, “So why do they see me differently in the east? This is my country. I’m German. My mum’s German. So why do they want to send me away?”

Boateng and AC Milan storm out of friendly after racist chants

He explained that there are just some people in this world who are stupid. But I began to cry. I still couldn’t understand it. And soon the confusion turned into suspicion. You begin to think that people don’t like you, even though you don’t know them. Every mixed-race guy in Germany has this. It’s like, Why are you looking at me? You don’t like me? You want trouble? Let’s go.

I became aggressive. Disturbed. I got red cards all the time. I was a hothead.

But you know what the worst part was?

No one ever stood up for me.

They knew what was happening to me. They heard the racism — and they just accepted it. The parents stayed quiet. The referee? Nothing. The coach? “Just ignore it.”

So I did. I stored my anger inside. I became numb to it.

But when I heard those monkey noises in January 2013, all the pain, all the sadness — it all came out. I snapped. I didn’t care if I got in trouble. I had worked all my life to play for one of the biggest teams in the world, and now I was going to be treated like I was when I was a kid?? I just went, No. I’m done with this. I’m going to fight these guys.

As I walked off, a lot of people stood up and applauded me. And then — and this is the key — my teammates walked off with me. Not just the black ones. All of them. I still get goose bumps talking about that. When I got to the dressing room, I took off my clothes just to show everyone that I was not going back out there. The referee came in and asked us, “Do you want to continue playing?” And at that moment Ambrosini stood up and said, “If Prince doesn’t play, no one plays.”

Chapeau.

That episode became huge news around the world. Within a day they knew about it in Ghana, in China, in Brazil. The press was all over it. Big players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Rio Ferdinand were supporting me and talking about what a disgrace the supporters were. My phone blew up with calls and messages. Overnight I became an ambassador for the fight against racism.

None of that happened because a black person walked off the pitch. No.

It happened because white people walked off with him.

That was the message that changed the world.

At least it did for a little while.

At the time I thought that this could be the change we needed. I really did. FIFA invited me to meet Joseph Blatter. He asked me, “What can we do about it?” Then in March, FIFA set up an anti-discrimination task force and invited me to join it. It seemed perfect. I would train and play games and stuff, but I would also give these people input, and then they would introduce campaigns, rules and punishments. I also gave Blatter a suggestion: To put cameras and microphones in the stadiums. That way, if somebody chanted something racist — BANG, out.

I told Blatter, “Listen, try this. If it works, you’re a hero. If it doesn’t, O.K., you tried.”

After that, the task force had meetings. We talked and exchanged some emails.

But nothing really happened. Whenever I was playing people began to target me, hoping that I’d go nuts and walk off again. I’d go to the referee and tell him to do something, they would make an announcement over the stadium speakers, and then after a minute of quiet, the fans would just keep going. A month later, the media stopped talking about it.

And then in September 2016, I received an email from FIFA. I will never forget what it said.

It basically read, “The task force has fulfilled its mission. We did our job.”

They closed it down.

I called my agent and said, “This is a joke.” What did they achieve? What did they do? They fined teams 30,000 euros? And then the fans could return to the stadium the next day?? And their kids are going to see that and take that as an example??? What is 30,000 euros to a club? Nothing. That’s the punishment? That’s the consequence?

I honestly believe FIFA set up that task force just to make it seem as if they were doing something. I’m not even scared to say it. It’s a fact. I don’t know why they’re not doing more. You’d have to ask them. I can just assume that it’s more important to them to have VAR telling us whether the ball was over the line than to get rid of racism. They have so much money, they invest so much in cameras, goal-line technology, everything. But fighting racism? Nah. That doesn’t get more people into the stadium. That doesn’t bring in the big bucks. That’s what I think.

And remember, FIFA set up that task force in 2013. That’s SEVEN years ago. And now we’re still here talking about the exact same problems….

Nothing has changed. Nothing.

If anything, racism has gotten worse.

You know, we always look to the U.S. when we talk about racism, but it happens in Europe, too. Maybe we don’t die, maybe we’re not killed, but they push us down all the time. All the time. It’s just more hidden. When I’m out on the street, I can feel it in the way people behave. They look at you. They change sidewalks. When I’m in my car, I can see what they’re thinking. How can a black guy with tattoos drive a car like that? He must be a drug dealer or a rapper. Or maybe an athlete.

Why is it like that? Because racism is so deeply embedded in society. It’s systemic. And the white people who are on the top of this system, they don’t want it to change. Why would they? Things are going great for them, just like they did 300 years ago.

Let me give you another example. In August last year Clemens Tönnies, the chairman of Schalke, one of my former clubs, made an unbelievably racist comment. He said that instead of increasing taxes to protect the environment, the German government should install power stations in Africa, so that “the Africans would stop cutting down trees and produce babies when it is dark.”

AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, of Ghana, sports a jersey reading “AC Milan against racism” prior to the start of the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Siena at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013.. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

I was shocked. This guy had black players in his team. I was like, Kick him out!  The press said, “Yeah, it was wrong.” The club said, “We are against racism.”

But you know what they did? They suspended him for three months.

Three months.

A nice, long holiday. And then he was back at work.

This is the system. And it goes so deep that this kind of stuff has become normalised. But the thing is, we are way more people than those who run the system. We have more power. We have a louder voice. They cannot win against the whole world. It’s impossible.

That is, if we stand together. If we all speak up. If we decide to act.

The other day I saw a video on Instagram in which a college teacher tells a room full of people, “Stand up if you want to be treated like a black person.”

Nobody stands up.

That, in a nutshell, is racial injustice. It’s people who know what is happening to us, but who do nothing. Whenever I have heard racist chanting, there have been people who, although they were standing close to it, acted as if nothing was happening. As if to say, Oh, it’s not that bad.

Well, in case you haven’t watched the news lately: It is that bad.

I’m writing this article for many reasons. I’m angry. I cried when I watched the George Floyd video. I had to watch it five times to fully realise what had happened. If you listen to his voice, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” and, “Please, Mama”… it’s just so painful. Who do you talk to when you’re close to death? God, because you’re hoping to see him and asking for forgiveness. And Mama. He knew he was going to die in that moment. He knew.

It still makes me emotional … because you see yourself in him, you know? And I look at my kid, and I think, How can I explain that to my son? How can I explain that a man died because of the colour of his skin?

I saw Floyd’s daughter say, “Daddy changed the world.” I love that message. And I believe she might be right. These protests can become a turning point. More people are starting to understand where black people are coming from. They understand that we’re not here to go to war. No. We just want what is promised to everyone else. I loved it the other day when my older brother sent me pictures from Berlin, where everyone was in the streets putting up their fists in support — Mexicans, Arabs, Turks, black people, white people. The same thing is happening in Paris, Milan, London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, NYC, everywhere.

There is just one thing that worries me. Right now we seem to understand. We seem to be learning. But I worry that, in a few weeks, the world will forget.

I worry that in July or August, the protests will have died down, the media will have stopped talking about them and the whole issue will fade away.

Just like it did in 2013.

So that is also why I’m writing this article.

We have to make sure that this doesn’t die out.

And to do that, we need white people to stand with us.

Right now the Black Lives Matter movement has a lot of power, but we cannot do it alone. It is white people who are controlling this world. It is white people who can undo systemic racism. But if the white hand keeps pushing us down, we have no chance.

So tell us that you’re with us. Tell us that you feel for George Floyd. Tell us that you feel for the black community.

Because that’s how we’ll know that the world is actually on our side. That the vast majority of people want this to change. That’s the key.

I want to do my part. I’m gonna start with Berlin, and then I’ll take Germany, Europe, the U.S., and hopefully the world. I’m not scared. If my sponsors or my club kick me out tomorrow because of something I said in defence of equal rights, I truly don’t care. I only want to work with people who are woke. I thought about a George Floyd Day to celebrate the black community and black excellence. I’d like to see a concert in Berlin where everyone is invited, but where the focus is on Black Lives Matter. I’m writing a song about it. People have told me, “Bring it out now.” No. We’re going to bring it out in July, so people don’t forget.

If I have to spend my own money, I will. I won’t give up, that’s for sure. But I need your help and support; I’m a footballer with ideas, raising his voice for a good cause. I know that there’s going to be another protest in Berlin next month, and I know many countries are keeping up the pressure with their protests. That gives me hope. At least we know that this won’t last for just another week. It has to last longer than that. Way longer. And for that to happen, we need everyone.

And we especially need the following people:

The Players

There are athletes who are doing this properly: Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James and Megan Rapinoe. These are some of the big ones — there are many more who are doing amazing work.

But footballers, clubs and federations? In Europe? Other than Marcus Rashford, who has shown the world what is possible when we use our platforms, I don’t see much being done.

When Australia was burning earlier this year, everyone was talking and posting about it and donating crazy money. It was beautiful to see. But now? I don’t see anything. I don’t see no interviews, no players talking.

Where are you guys? Where are the very biggest players in the world?

There are too many players who are scared, or who don’t have the character to talk. And I feel a responsibility to call on their support to join me and the movement. I can only reach eight million people on my social media, but I’m going to use every single one of them every day. You guys have tens of millions. This is the moment to show your face — and not on a billboard for a perfume or an advert for new boots — but to raise awareness and create real change for the Black Lives Matter movement.

We need every player to listen, learn, and take action. Blackout Tuesday? That’s too easy. A T-shirt that says, NO RACISM? O.K. But do more: Learn about black history and the struggles your black idols have endured. Make a video. Say, “I stand with every black person on this earth. You’re all my brothers and sisters. I love you all.” Donate to programs fighting to end systemic racism and abuse of power. Tell your brands and sponsors to do more than just post slogans. And if they don’t? Adieu. That’s what I want. And don’t wait till next week. Do it now. Do it now, and then do it next week and the week after.

You are the biggest players in the world. If you don’t have the chance, who has the chance?

If you don’t have the reach, who has the reach?

The Media

Journalists and editors, don’t let this moment slip away. Don’t forget it after a week.

I get that people want to talk about LeBron’s shooting ability or Michael Jordan’s Flu Game. I get that. But there is more important stuff going on right now, and you have a responsibility to cover it.

So talk about racism. Keep the stories on the front pages and at the top of your sites. Let people read and understand. And keep it coming, this year and the next year and the next. We need it. Interview people. There are so many like me who have stories and feelings about racism. Maybe they can give us some new perspectives on it. Maybe their voices can give those who are staying silent the courage to speak up.

White People

I want to say this again: White brothers and sisters, you are the ones who can change this world. We need you now. Especially now. You need to help us.

Because you don’t want to be treated like us.

Some people are like, “Yeah, but all lives matter.” Of course all lives matter. But the black community is burning. So if my house is burning and your house is not burning, which house is the most important right now? Right. So help me put out the fire. And then we can both live in nice houses.

Everyone can do something, even if they think they can’t. One white friend of mine actually told me that he didn’t want it to seem like he was jumping on the train. And I said, “But that’s the train you want to jump on! That’s the train that’s gonna change the world!”

So I’m asking you: Jump on the train. Some people are always going to hate. Some people are always going to criticise you.

But don’t be scared. Don’t be silent. We will stand with you.

We just want to know that you stand with us.

*Source Players Tribune.Kevin-Prince Boateng is a professional footballer who plays for Beşiktaş in Turkey. Born in Germany, he represented Germany internationally at youth level,and  Ghana at the senior level with participations at the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.

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Covid-19: Kenya’s cases cross over 5,000 mark
June 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

FILE PHOTO: Chief Administrative Secretary from the ministry of Health, DR. Mercy Mwangangi./Ministry of Health-Kenya.
FILE PHOTO: Chief Administrative Secretary from the ministry of Health, DR. Mercy Mwangangi./Ministry of Health-Kenya.

The number of people who have contracted the coronavirus in Kenya has hit 5,206, said the Ministry of Health.

Speaking during the daily press briefing on the disease, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi announced 254 new cases detected from 4,859 samples in the last 24 hours.

All the new patients are Kenyans aged between 4 and 92 years with 186 being males and 68 females.

The latest cases were reported in various counties as follows: Nairobi (127), Mombasa (36), Migori (29), Kajiado (22), Kiambu (12), Busia (9), Uasin Gishu (5), Murang’a (3), Machakos (2), Kilifi (2), Nakuru, (1), Siaya (1), Taita Taveta (1), Garissa, (1), Isiolo (1), Kakamega, (1), Kisii (1).

She disclosed that Nairobi, Mombasa and Busia lead with the number of patients with the novel virus. The Kenya’s capital has recorded 2,428, Mombasa 1,304and Busia 361 cases.

So far 40 out of 47 counties have announced positive cases.

Dr. Mwangangi further added that 151, 396 samples have been analyzed since the African nation reported its first case.

On recovery, she averred that 41 patients had been discharged from hospitals between Tuesday and Wednesday raising the number to 1,823. However, the number of fatalities has increased by 2 to 130.

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African Development Bank ranks 4th on global index of transparency
June 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

Publish What You Fund has ranked the African Development Bank fourth out of 47 global development institutions on its Aid Transparency Index. The Index is the only independent measure of aid transparency among the world’s major development agencies. The index places the Bank in the highest category of transparency along with other world class institutions such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and UNDP.

“We congratulate the African Development Bank – Sovereign Portfolio on achieving 4th place in the 2020 Aid Transparency Index. As large quantities of aid are being reallocated to deal with the COVID-19 emergency, the transparency of international aid is more important than ever,” said Gary Forster, CEO of Publish What You Fund, which has produced the index each year since 2011.

 Publish What You Fund ranked the Bank ‘very good’ — The highest of the five categories used to assess organisations’ transparency. The ranking is based on several criteria, including finance and budgets, basic information data, organisational planning and performance.

In the new Index, which covers the 2019 year,  the African Development Bank scored 95.5 out of 100 on transparency — A significant improvement on its score for 2018.

“It is promising to see an increase in the quantity, quality and timeliness of aid data now being shared by a broad cross section of the world’s major aid agencies. As we work together to fill the gaps in the aid data landscape, we look forward to exploring how we can best meet the demand for data and data engagement,” said Gary Forster, CEO of Publish What You Fund.

The institution’s commitment to total transparency is illustrated by MapAfrica — A web-based platform that maps all of the Bank’s investments across the African continent.

“I am absolutely delighted with this achievement!” said Swazi Tshabalala, Acting Senior Vice President for the African Development Bank Group. “It crowns this institution’s commitment to transparency at a time when it has never been so important. With such large volumes of funding now being assigned to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, it is crucial for our citizens to know how much, where and when the African Development Bank is investing in Africa’s development.”

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