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RAILA ODINGA: THE CONFLICTING PERSONALITY OF AN ELECTION PETITION WINNER
September 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Chief Charles A. Taku*

NASA Presidential aspirant Raila Odinga addressing the Press

NASA Presidential aspirant Raila Odinga addressing the Press

Honourable Raila Omolo Odinga, the controversial and polarizing Kenyan opposition politician is a conflicted personality. He is a career politician and civil society political activist combined.  These qualities make him unmistakably the Lakayana of Kenyan politics. While both qualities may on occasion advance his diverse political objectives, they often collide at critical moments in his political life making the attainment of his political ambition elusive.

These qualities make him complex; even mesmerizing. Those who love and adore him, do so passionately. Those who abhor and distrust him do so passionately in equal measure. He is unmistakably a polarizing personality in dire need of political power in a country in need of a uniting leader.

During the last election which earned Uhuru Kenyatta his first presidential mandate, Philip Ochieng, one of the most respected journalists in Kenya, wrote in the Sunday Nation that following on the footsteps of his father Jaramogi Odinga Odinga, Raila Omolo Odinga was his own worst enemy. All it needs to prove the validity of this assessment, is to provide Raila with a platform and crowd.  Then he has no control over his speech, its consequences and its political cost.  This quality was on display when he faced the press, his cheering supports and an anxious electorate after the delivery of the Supreme Judgment in his favour annulling the presidential elections in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was proclaimed the winner.

He was everything but presidential in his speech. Rather to take the opportunity of that rare election petition victory to calm a politically restive nation.  He threatened, castigated, criticized, pontificated, and baited his perceived or real enemies.  In short, he sounded more like a civil society political activist during his election petition victory speech than a presidential candidate who had just been granted another lease of life to contest a crucial election in two months. In the end, he failed to even appeal to the electorate to vote for him.

The hard fact is that, the decision of the Supreme Court of Kenya annulling the Presidential election result that favoured President Uhuru Kenyatta should be applauded not for its outcome, for like all judicial decisions it still has to undergo the rigours of informed scrutiny, but for the fact that at long last an African country, and Kenya for that matter, has proved that it has the capacity to deliver effective, efficient and independent justice. The International Criminal Court with the hypocritical approval of erstwhile colonial Western powers relied on this fallacy to violate the complementarity  safeguards of the Rome treaty to inappropriately target Kenya and indeed Africa in its interventions from when it was established.

The constitution of Kenya that provided the constitutional guarantees of the separation of powers which was exercised in the full glare and satisfaction of the world at large in particular the Western world, in this election petition,  was in place when Moreno Ocampo, urged on by the same Western actors and by Raila Odinga intervened in the 2007 election violence conflict in Kenya on the grounds that Kenya did not have an effective, efficient and independent Judiciary to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the 2007 election violence. With the present decision, the scales of prejudice have sudden fallen and the Kenya Judiciary is all praises from the patronizing erstwhile colonial West; not for the justice of the Supreme Court judgment that is still subject to judicial scrutiny, but for the fact that in context, it comes close to doing what they would have wanted done but for the fact that in this case, popular sovereignty as opposed to judiciary fiat may yet again determine the outcome of the elections in two months.

I must admit, and all respecters of the rule of law must, as President Uhuru Kenyatta did, that the Supreme Court of Kenya and indeed the lower courts before whom election petitions were brought, fulfilled their constitutional mandate effectively, efficiently and independently. For this, the Judiciary of Kenya merits praise. It always has. It is another thing if the outcome of judicial proceedings before the courts were acceptable or not.  In this case, the ultimate arbiter, call it the supreme judge is not the judiciary, it is the sovereign people of Kenya in their exercise of its inalienable, unimpeachable right of popular sovereignty to elect its leaders.

If there was any lingering doubt therefore, about the falsity of the claims that Kenya did not have an independent, efficient and effective judiciary as alleged by Moreno Ocampo and his handlers, then the successful litigation of election petitions by Kenyan lower courts and ultimately, its Supreme Court has proved them wrong. However, the ghost of the ICC was visible in this election and will remain visible in the next round and future elections. In many ways, it will inhibit the ability of Raila Odinga to win the repeat elections.

Four judges overruled two others, believing there was enough uncertainty to undermine the election result

Four judges overruled two others, believing there was enough uncertainty to undermine the election result

This may be discerned from the misplaced message conveyed through his Supreme Court election petition celebratory speech. His resolve to prosecute election officials instead of using the moment to celebrate in measured humility, reassure millions of voters who perceive him as vindictive, abrasive and dictatorial, may further alienate him from critical voters who value peace and unity of the nation over triumphalist display of person power.

During the last election which saw Uhuru Kenyatta win his first mandate, Raila squandered his best opportunity of ever becoming the President of Kenya by deconstructing a formidable alliance he formed with a youthful, ambitious, savvy and perhaps most skillful politician in Kenya Deputy Vice President William Ruto. He did so by offering him as a sacrificial lamb to Ocampo.

In his miscalculation, he perceived the ICC intervention as a means of depriving William Ruto of the possibility of sharing in the effervescence of his then rising political profile.  He miscalculated, for Mr Ruto is a political product of the majority ordinary people of Kenya who see their image in him and consider him as one of theirs. The ordinary people of Kenya have long traced and refined his path to presidential power and this is obvious even to the jaundiced eye. He has merely been playing for his time to come to embark on the journey to fulfill his people’s will.   A smart politician, he did not want to squander the opportunity when the potential path to the presidency in 2020 came calling. Raila Odinga’s political miscalculation and the ICC proceedings provided him that opportunity.

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are good students of history.  The patronizing support given by Western countries to the ICC proceedings gave them the opportunity to position themselves as defenders of the sovereignty of Kenya and the liberating cause of new Africa. The humiliating campaign against the ability of the judicial institutions of Kenya to conduct post-election violence proceedings, the same institutions that are being hailed by the same erstwhile colonial Western countries, required genuine leaders to standup to the challenge and mobilize Kenyans to defend their national pride and their sovereignty.  Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto offered this leadership while Raila Odinga largely portrayed himself through his own public pronouncements as a Western poodle in his unqualified support for the ICC proceedings. Whatever motivations he had for seeking political leadership while supporting proceedings which placed the sovereignty of his country under the ward of the ICC, in the political context of the proceedings, he was perceived as relying on the case as a means of settling internal political scores and eliminating his political opponents from contesting the elections against him.

The Supreme Court's decision sparked celebrations by supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga

The Supreme Court’s decision sparked celebrations by supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga

That backfired and he lost the elections.  The credibility of the ICC came out seriously bruised in the process because its intervention was not perceived to be in the best interest of Kenya and the victims of the election violence. The overwhelming evidence of Western interference portrayed the Kenya ICC cases as politically motivated. At the end of his mandate as the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Moreno Ocampo in published newspaper and television interviews confirmed this fact.

During this election, an ICC official in the Prosecutor’s Office made a misguided statement in a conference in Arusha in neighbouring Tanzania linking the potential outcome of the Kenya election to a potential reviving of the ICC cases in the case the opposition candidate won. This admittedly uncoordinated statement nevertheless places the statement by Raila Odinga about prosecuting election commission members into the providential focus which Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto may in addition to their largely positive development record, ride on to victory once again.

Why must Raila Odinga want to get election officials prosecuted when the Supreme Court did not make a finding of criminal conduct?  Was this a forewarning that a result short of victory for him in the repeat elections will not be accepted by him?  Was it a forewarning of another round of litigation to dissolve the election commission and compromise the organization of the election he may lose?  Will this not lead to a constitutional crisis where this to happen? No matter from what perspective this attack and threat of prosecution may be perceived, it portrays Raila Odinga as a potentially vengeful politician who thrives on the politics on politics of bitterness.

Raila Odinga squandered his moment of glory in focusing on yet another prosecution rather than taking advantage of the glare and focus of the moment to mobilize his base and Kenyans in general to give him their votes in two months. He failed to appeal for peace, reconciliation and national healing after a very polarizing judicial experience. He failed to explain why he sought for the poll to be nullified to the electorate. He impressed professional judges of the Supreme Court about his reasons for seeking and obtaining an annulment of the elections in which he lost.  He still must do a better job explaining to the electorate he will be facing in two months.

The case, its outcome and his celebratory rhetoric may energize the majority who voted against him to defend their franchise by voting against him in even greater numbers.  The bane of Raila Odinga has always been his inability to reconcile Raila the civil society political activist from Raila the career politician.  He has never understood that although bed partners, these attributes are on critical occasions strange bed fellows.  The bull instant in political activism is at critical moments, the bane of career politicians. It may take an election petition victory and a repeat election to lose for Raila Odinga to finally come to terms with this reality.

In contrast, Uhuru Kenyatta was presidential and humble in his speech in which he disagreed with the outcome of the judgment but accepted the outcome nevertheless.  Calling for peace to reign, he took the opportunity to relaunch his election campaign. He reminded the people of Kenya to whom he and his deputy have turned to since the ICC challenge, that the power to decide the destiny of Kenya belonged to them not to six individuals constituting a court of law.

That appeal succeeded and helped them to win the Presidential elections regarding the ICC proceedings. It may succeed once more with the Supreme Court Judgment acting as a tonic, call it a fig leaf of mobilization for a greater electoral victory come two months.   Raila Odinga by promising Kenyans further court cases and prosecutions may have paved the way for the people to deny him that opportunity. He may have unwittingly placed the spotlight on the focus on the possibility of a revived ICC nightmare under a Raila Odinga presidency.  He seems not to have learnt the painful lesson that his prior support for this nightmare among other reasons led to a majority of his people rejecting him in the last election.

Kenyans know that Raila did not challenge the election outcome which largely favoured his opponent. He challenged but the constitutionality and the legality of the conduct of the elections. His greatest challenge remains how to convince the majority that elected Uhuru and Ruto to switch over and vote for him. If he carefully reflected on the Supreme Court Judgment prior to making his celebratory speech, he should have known that that Judgement did not find any wrong doing against Uhuru Kenyatta based on which the electorate would have sanctioned him. On the contrary, the constitutional violations, illegalities and procedural inadequacies by the election commission deprived him of victory in an election whose outcome was neither in doubt nor contested by Raila in his petition. Raila in his celebratory speech inappropriately sought inappropriately to place blames for the failures of the election commission on his adversary where none was found by the Supreme Court. If his Supreme Court election speech is a template of his election performance in two months, then I regret, he may not prevail in the court of popular sovereignty.

There are several logistical and organizational odds that militate against his ability to conduct an effective campaign within just two months.  He benefitted from a steady flow of international goodwill, tactical and strategic support during the annulled poll.  It is inconceivable, considering the electoral map of Kenya, that this key constituency will again invest in a repeat election when the outcome of the annulled election was never challenged.  The appeal for calm by President Uhuru Kenyatta apart, the calm that followed the Supreme Court Judgment may be an unmistakable exercise of confidence that in two months this silent majority may yet again reassert its sovereignty over its choice of leader. And Raila Odinga tacitly acknowledged the reality of that choice by not challenging the critical choice that was made in the annulled poll.

  • Chief Charles A. Taku is an international lawyer writing from The Hague The Netherlands.

 

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Insight Into Atlas Africa: It is about Aligning Business Opportunities With Interested Parties, says CEO Lindi Gillespie.
August 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Lindi Gillespie is CEO of Atlas Africa

Lindi Gillespie is CEO of Atlas Africa

For Lindi Gillespie, connecting the right people to opportunities in the market place and creating viable and strategic partnerships is her passion. Leveraging her vast networks and experience garnered over a twenty year period in diverse marketing and business roles, Lindi Gillespie founded Atlas Africa, an investment and brokerage company with operational base from South Africa. The firm offers clients the opportunity to expand business prospects on a broad range of sectors across Africa and on the global stage.

As CEO of Atlas Africa, Lindi, a Graduate of the University of Cape Town has surrounded herself with a solid team of talented associates who pride themselves in providing tailor made investment brokerage services and the delivery of first class returns to their clients.

“We do our best to understand our client’s business needs and long term plans when putting together a marketing strategy for bringing their services and products into the African markets,” says Lindi, who was recently ranked amongst Africa’s top 25 Women in Leadership by Amazon Watch Magazine.

With the goal of building long term professional relationships based on honesty, integrity, and sustainable revenue generation, Atlas Africa has steadily grown its business portfolio across Africa and beyond. In addition to South Africa and the SADC sub region, Atlas has excelled in West and East Africa, and Lindi says there are a growing number of hotel deals going through in the Maldives and Europe.

“Our clients stick with us because we work hard for them and always do our very best to find the best solutions to their needs by using our International network,” says Lindi as she expresses the ambition to further grow and sustain the strong reputation of Atlas Africa when it comes to investing in the continent.

Ms Gillespie, thanks so much for accepting to grant this interview , you are CEO of Atlas Africa Group, could you start by introducing the Group for us, what does it do, and when was it created?

Atlas Africa Group was formed in December 2015 when I attended the Global African Investment Summit in London. The Atlas Africa Group finds financing for renewable energy projects internationally; but predominantly in Africa. I raise these funds from individual investors; pensions fund; renewable energy funds and private equity funds. We also focus on Projects that are property related. We are very involved in development of hotels and also the buying and selling of hotels in Africa and its surrounding islands. Other sectors of the economies in Africa are covered as well.

What motivated you to create the Group, what skill set did you have, may we also have an idea of the staff strength and profile of those who make up the Group?

The motivation to start the Group was the dire need for infrastructure development; electricity; urbanisation development and especially agriculture to feed the people of Africa. Sustainability in Africa was my core motivation – to assist with this process. My skills are mainly in marketing and in introducing people where synchronicity exists to make things happen around the continent. For example I work closely with the Swiss who have foundations to help the poor and also various funds that have budgets to help the underprivileged people in our communities. The kind of people I choose to work with are professionals who are experts in all the fields that I can’t fill! Such as accounting and office administration. I prefer face to face contact with clients; travelling for work related projects and marketing our pipeline of projects.

Lindi Gillespie and her talented associates at Atlas Africa pride themselves on offering tailor made, investment brokerage services and delivering first class returns to their clients

Lindi Gillespie and her talented associates at Atlas Africa pride themselves on offering tailor made, investment brokerage services and delivering first class returns to their clients

Let’s talk about the success stories, are there concrete examples of successful projects that have been carried out by the Atlas Group? Potential clients may be interested in knowing something about the track record of Atlas

Our success stories are mainly in renewable energy and infrastructure development. At the moment deals are being processed in the Ivory Coast and Mali. These deals are private and public projects. We also have a number of hotel deals going through in the Maldives and Europe. These deals involve International hotel brands and private equity firms. We are processing low cost housing projects in two areas of Namibia where building of houses will begin within the next few weeks.

For people interested in using the services of Atlas, what do they need to do and what additional guarantees does the Group have to assure clients of positive results?

For positive result with new clients, it is a question of what stage the project is based. For instance we have investors of Greenfield renewable energy projects but projects with all licences and a PPA is where most of the clients invest. When it comes to PPPs, countries that offer sovereign guarantees or some form of guarantees make the project more attractive to investors. For projects needing funds Atlas Africa is always open to consider these projects.

What other parts of Africa is the Group operating in besides South Africa where it is based?

Atlas Africa focuses mainly on countries of good governance. We focus on areas where is safe for workforce to complete projects. Our presence is mainly in the SADC region and various countries in East and West Africa.

How will you describe the business climate first in South Africa and on other parts of the continent where you do business?

With the downgrading of South Africa’s economic sector; there are challenges in all parts of the economy including private and public business. I focus most of Atlas Africa Group’s growth outside of South Africa. I have a number of property interests however in South Africa. Our press in South Africa is bullish which helps with addressing the corruption in the country. The corruption has affected growth in all areas of the economy and many people are taking their money out of the country; emigrating or disinvesting.

Lindi Gillespie was recently profiled as one of Africa’s Top 25 Women in Leadership by Amazon Watch Magazine, what did this mean for you?

Being chosen as one of the 25 most influential women in Africa was a huge achievement for me. It showed that the work I do in Africa counts and that I have a voice on the continent. I would like to become more involved with positive movements and change.

With Former President Thabo Mbeki and Zanele Mbeki in Johannesburg

With Former President Thabo Mbeki and Zanele Mbeki in Johannesburg

To young Africans especially the women who see in you a role model, and will want to emulate your example, what are some secrets of success that you have for them?

The secret of success for young women is to have a specific focus. The best choice is to align yourself with positive people who will support your ideas and your business growth. If you are an entrepreneur like myself ,you need to expect difficulties and challenges. This will keep you up at night but you need faith to keep going. So many deals fall through but it’s all part of being in the game of business. Try and secure finance so that you can get through the hard times when deals are taking years to come through!!

We end with a last word on the future of the Atlas Group, what next after growing it to where it is, any big plans in the years ahead to grow and improve the client base?

Our big plans and ambitions are to grow and sustain our strong reputation when it comes to investing in Africa. Our clients stick with us because we work hard for them and always do our very best to find the best solutions to their needs by using our International network.

 

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Independence of the Judiciary and Security of Investments-Opportunities & Challenges
August 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Chief Charles A. Taku*

 

Introduction

Chief Charles Taku

Chief Charles Taku

Africa is endowed with abundant largely unexploited natural resources and raw materials yet the continent is afflicted by poverty, diseases and violent conflicts in the midst of plenty. Unfortunately, these resources when exploited are often not done so for the benefit of the people of Africa.

The availability and abundance of these resources present Africa with great investment opportunities. The paucity of a credible continental legal and economic framework defining Africa’s investment needs has led to a scramble for Africa’s resources by the leading nations of the world, from West to the East. This scramble has in turn generated an economic cold war that affects all sectors of Africa’s economic, political and social life.

Investing in Africa under the prevailing economic, judicial and political condition breeds significant challenges and invites critical questions that require answers. Significant among these is the question whether a credible independent judicial mechanism exists within Africa that regulates investment contracts in Africa that benefits Africa. Do African countries possess independent judiciaries capable of guaranteeing the security of investments in the continent through fair trial processes? Who negotiates the terms of the investments? Are the terms of negotiated investments favorable to Africa? Do investment contracts in Africa contain transfer of technology clauses aimed at transforming African economies from markets of cheap raw materials to markets for processed finished products? Is Africa endowed with an enabling legal environment for negotiating, drafting, interpreting and adjudicating investment conflicts?  What are the opportunities and challenges that investors face in Africa? How can these challenges be surmounted? The answers to these questions and more are the subject of this paper.

The Universal Foundations of the Independence of the Judiciary

Among the founding objectives of the United Nations enshrined in the preamble of the UN Charter was a reaffirmation of “ … faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity of nations large and small, and the establishment of conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and sources of international law can be maintained, to promote social and better standards of life in freedom; and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples”.[1]

These universal conditions for the administration of justice significantly inspired and informed the founding of the United Nations in 1945. Justice for all was therefore, conceived and proclaimed a critical instrument for the promotion and protection of peace, and “the economic and social advancement of all peoples”.

In furtherance of this objective, the UN multilateral human rights treaty regime adopted provisions that guarantee the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary and recommended that they be enshrined in the laws of state parties to the respective conventions.[2] To safeguard, protect and promote the independence of the judiciary within the international and national justice systems, the United Nations adopted the “Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary”.[3]

The preamble of these basic principles emphasizes that the organization and administration of justice in every country, member state of the United Nations must be inspired by the principles. It states that efforts must be undertaken to translate these principles fully into reality. And that the rules concerning the exercise of judicial office should aim at enabling judges to act in accordance with the principles, because “judges are charged with the ultimate decision over life, freedoms, rights, duties and property of citizens”.

There is therefore no gainsaying that the United Nations Charter foundation of universal tenets of Justice as the underlying principles for the attainment of world peace, security, economic well-being and prosperity of nations big and small, is well settled in customary international law. It is on this basis that these principles are enshrined in the Constitutions of member states.

It cannot reasonably be disputed that at the founding of the United Nations in 1945, Africa was not a subject of international law. Africa and peoples of Africa descent were not contemplated by the founding fathers of the United Nations when they made the justice, economic, human rights and security pledges as the salvific tenets of a new world order and civilization. The so-called big and small nations that came under the protections afforded in the UN Charter did not include Africa and peoples of African descent. They were then invariably considered as chattel, European possessions, colonies by any other name but nations or states. Emerging from the humiliation of its World War defeat and occupation by Germany, France for example, led a genocidal campaign in its French Africa possessions orchestrating the extermination of millions of pro-independence nationalists and armless civilians in French Cameroun and Algeria.[4]

Without the protections afforded by the United Nations Charter Africa was deprived on the economic sovereignty over its vast natural resources. Africa could not exercise judicial independence over commerce, industry and investments in the continent. There was therefore no investment charter for the benefits of African European colonies or possessions. Investments benefitted the colonial masters and their national economies. Africans were valued as slave labour and nothing more.

Decrying this situation in 1949 Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe ( Zik of Africa) in an Address delivered at the Plenary Session of the British Peace Congress powerfully submitted “There is gold in Nigeria. Coal, lignite, tin, columbite, tantalite, lead, diamonite, thorium, (uranium-133), and tungsten in Nigeria, rubber, cocoa, groundnuts, benniseeds, coton, palm oil, and palm kernels. Timber of different kinds is found in many areas of this Africa fairyland. Yet despite these natural resources which indicate potential wealth, the great majority of Nigerians live in want”.[5]  Dr Azikiwe speaking for all Africans stated emphatically, “therefore, we are compelled to denounce imperialism as a crime against humanity, because it destroys human dignity and is a constant cause of wars”.

Invoking the human carnage and devastation of the just ended World War 2 in which Africans were drafted to combat not as free people fighting for the interests of Africa and African Peoples, but as mere tools or instruments of warfare deployed to protect the economic and security interests of their colonial masters, Dr Azikiwe made the following proclamation amongst others: “We shall no longer be dragooned to act as cannon fodder in the military juggernaut of hypocrites who dangle before our people misleading slogans in order to involve humanity in carnage and destruction”.

The conscience awakening alarm raised by Zik of Africa in the threshold of the founding of the United Nations with lofty principles underpinning justice and economic empowerment as the salvation credo for a peaceful, prosperous world which ignored the situation of Africa and black peoples the world over, endures to this day. It endures because the cosmetic independence that was granted to many African states did not alter the European economic and political vassal possessions status that was imposed on them by European colonial treaties.

Due to the enduring effects of these injustices against Africa, it is safe to submit that the supposed tenets of universal justice, that includes the independence of the judiciary are elusive in Africa making the security of investments in the continent attainable but elusive.

 

 

Identifying the Investment and Justice Needs for Africa

 

The submission that the attainment of the goals of fair, credible and independent justice for Africa faces serious though surmountable obstacles may better be articulated through the following address credited to His Excellency President Jakaya Kwikete to the United Nations in New York in 2008.

Addressing the United Nations as Chairman of the African Union, President Kikwete reminded the world body that Africa rejected war, HIV Aids and Poverty as templates on which to anchor a just world security and economic order. He warned that highlighting the adoption of the UN political declaration on African development needs must not obfuscate the fact that poverty and the need to establish economic growth to overcome it was the continent’s greatest challenge. He pointed out that some so-called Millennium Development Goals were inadequate in addressing the serious shortfall in resources to meet African development needs. President Kikwete stated that “In trade, Africa’s prospects remained bleak as the Doha Round was stalled. New negative trends included climate change and soaring fuel and food prices”. [6]

In the face of this bleak picture of the African condition, there is an urgent need for investments in Africa must aim at attenuating poverty, Africa energy self-sufficiency and production industries for the processing and transformation of raw materials into finished products. There is an urgent need for the establishment of efficient healthcare, food security, science and technology and communication industries in Africa by Africans. Foreign investors are invited to invest in Africa but the investments must aim at and relevant to the attainment of Africa economic and investment goals. Investments in Africa that not include aim at the transfer of technology for the transformation of Africa’s raw materials and natural resources to finished products for the universal market are deemed not to benefit Africa.

To satisfy Africa’s investment needs, stable, credible, efficient and effective legal frameworks capable of attracting foreign and national investments must be established. Do the existing legal institutions in Africa provide adequate security for foreign and national investments that aim at promoting growth and the economic prosperity of the continent and its people? I hesitate at this point in time to answer this question in the positive. This is not for the lack of capital building capacity by African investors, economic operators, capable independent judiciaries or competent professional lawyers who can manage the continent’s investment portfolio. The critical obstacle to attaining these goals is the ghost of Africa’s colonial past  which is still  lingering within the continent and manipulating the soul of the continent at all levels of constitutional governance; making profitable investments that benefit Africa and its people difficult.

The Constitutional Guarantee of the Independence of the Judiciary

 

When most of Africa gained independence in the early 1960’s, the newly independent countries became member states of the United Nations. By their membership of the UN, they pledged allegiance to the United Nations Charter and thereafter ratified or adhered to many conventions in the UN Economic and Human Rights regime.

The constitutions of almost all independent African countries have provisions on separation of powers with the judiciary being an independent arm of government. The constitutions of these African countries guarantee the independence of the judiciary. Despite of the provision of article 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guaranteeing through constitutional protections the independence of the judiciary, the effective independence of the judiciary as a constitutional arm of government remains illusory in many African countries. The enabling legislation regulating the administration of justice in many African countries contradicts the intendment of the constitutional guarantees of independence of the judiciary; compromising its independence.[7]

A decision of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in a case brought by the Southern Cameroons against the Republic of Cameroon, better explains this point succinctly. In that case the African Commission decided that Cameroon lacked independence of the judiciary despite the existence of a constitutional provision guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary and separation or powers[8]. In that decision, the African Commission found that the lack of independence of the Cameroon judiciary violated article 26 of the Africa Charter.

The decision was predicated on an admission by Cameroon that it did not have an independent judicial service commission and that the President of the Republic was the Chairman of the Higher Judicial Council while the Minister of Justice the Vice President of the Council. The said council has a mandate for the administration and guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary. The African Commission found that by subjugating the judiciary to the executive arm of government, Cameroon was in violation of its treaty obligations by violating article 26 of the African Charter. The Commission asked Cameroon to provide an effective remedy by making its judiciary genuinely independent, a decision Cameroon has failed to implement.

A melting pot of competing conflicting investment interests

 

An anxious look at foreign and national investment policies in Africa against available investments opportunities and the investment needs of the continent, there is justification in characterizing Africa as a melting pot of competing conflicting investment interests. Foreign investment in Africa has a checkered history and a tortious purpose. Like a chameleon, it assumes different colours while remaining in substance, the same.

Prior to independence, foreign trade policies of African European colonies were imposed rather than negotiated. African economies were rudimentary and mainly aimed at producing and supplying raw materials for the European industrial and commercial markets. The huge mineral deposits and agricultural potential which Dr Azikiwe talked about in his 1949 address referred to earlier in this paper, although belonging to Nigeria and Nigerians, as a matter of colonial and imperial policy, in reality belonged to Her Majesty the Queen of England’s Government.

The colonial institutions at independence contained imposed military, monetary, economic, educational, social and cultural cooperation treaties that subjugated the economic sovereignty of the colonies to the erstwhile colonial powers. In former French Africa colonies, France imposed pre and post-independence cooperation agreements imposed that subjugated their economic, monetary and defense sovereignty to the control of France[9].

The subsistence of these treaties and colonial policies in Independent African countries renders an effective exercise of sovereignty over constitutional institutions among them independent judiciaries illusory. This state of affairs led Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to conclude that “any form of economic union negotiated singly between the fully industrialized states of Europe and the newly emergent countries of Africa is bound to retard the industrialization, and therefore the prosperity and general economic and cultural development, of these countries. For it will mean that those African states which may be inveighed into joining this union will continue to serve as protected markets for the manufactured goods of their industrialized partners, and sources of cheap raw materials”.[10] The existence of these colonial and neo-colonial economic treaties have retained  Africa in what Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe characterized as “a perennial source of war”[11].

In seeking to safeguard and enforce these subsisting colonial and neo-colonial imposed preferential economic and investment treaties, the erstwhile colonial powers and the economic blocs in which they belong have resorted to using coercive methods to impose unfavourable terms of trade and investment terms that auction away African mineral resources and raw materials at prices and conditions intended to recolonize supposed independent states. These includes, economic sabotage, political instability, coups, military intervention and the manipulation of international institutions to discredit, subvert and isolate governments and peoples who dare turn their backs on colonial and neo-colonial puppetry.

In attempts to render the resource endowed countries of Africa ungovernable, alternative sources of power control are funded among the civil society, national and international Non-Governmental Organizations, the Military and the political class. With the use of weapons and funds supplied to these organizations, violent political activism triumphs over laudable civil society activism whose primary purpose ought to have been protecting and promoting the social, economic, political and civic rights of the citizenry.

The sources of instability arising from political and socio-economic factors are easily traced to the desire to control the natural resources and raw materials of African countries. The militarization of the political and economic life of the continent aimed at destabilizing many resource endowed African countries can be traced to this factor. Examples abound, but suffice to cite the failed recent violent regime change attempts in Burundi, Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, Angola and Libya.

According to Adekeye Adebajo and Kaye Whiteman, “the EU willingness to find ways of being militarily involved in Africa has been encouraged by France (seeking ways to justify its own continued military presence in Africa).[12]  The problem with the ambitious mission of the EU to support peace and security initiatives as outlined in the EU Common Position on the Prevention, Management and Resolution of Violent Conflicts in Africa is that in conceptual terms, the EU initiative seems good. But it conflates and conceals the colonial and neo-colonial treaties entered into by individual erstwhile colonial powers like France and Belgium in significant regards.

These colonial treaties and policies fuel and sustain the instability that the EU aims to prevent or redress. The erstwhile colonial powers habouring economic and political ambitions to control and micromanage the economic and political life of their former African colonies targeted by the EU initiative are not faithful participants in the EU initiative. There is overwhelming evidence establishing that they are the sources of instability in Africa. These former colonial powers have consistently used their EU members to attempt to railroad the EU initiative to attain their neo-colonial agenda.

The mitigated result of the EU initiative in Central Africa Republic even with the presence in the territory of French troops who have maintained a military base there since independence is an alarming example of this policy of duplicity on the part of France. Mineral resources Burundi has consistently accused Belgium which recently accepted responsibility and apologized for the assassination of Patrice Lumumba plunging the Democratic Republic of Congo into a blood bath that endures till date, for supporting a rebellion within its national territory aimed at effecting a regime change and controlling its natural resources.

The failed belligerent EU policy towards Burundi demonstrated by an overwhelming objection of an EU resolution submitted to the 33rd Session of the Joint EU-ACP Parliamentary Conference on 19 June 2017 arises from this policy. For the EU initiative to attain its objective, the EU must call on its member states to rescind with immediate all colonial and neo-colonial treaties or so-called cooperation agreements that undermine the sovereignty of African states and constitute a “perennial source of war”, violence, instability, impunity and criminality. These perennial sources of war have subverted the rule of law and sound constitutional governance.

Africa does not manufacture weapons but the investment in arms through legal and illegal channels fuels internecine armed conflict on the continent. For this to occur, the mineral resources and raw material of African countries are carted away to support materialistic and capitalist cartels in foreign in other continents. These colonial and neo-colonial treaties are not subject to legal challenges before the judiciary of the African countries concerned depriving the citizens of those countries the opportunity to test their validity and legality before independent judges. This keeps significant areas of the African investment and commercial sectors out of independent judicial scrutiny. The Neocolonial economic cartels have also concluded treaties keeping the judicial scrutiny before national courts, key public and private investment sectors in the defense industry, the oil industry, the energy industry and some strategic mineral contracts. With this, corruption is institutionalized at the expense of the people’s sovereignty over their resources, their economic well-being and prosperity.

Owning African investment dilemma and its Judicial quagmire

 

For Africa to attract valuable national and international investments that meets African prosperity needs, they must aim at attaining economic sovereignty over its natural resources. Africa must put in place valuable judicial institutions that are competent, independent and reliable.

Investment contracts are quite often negotiated by non-professional bureaucrats and politicians without the assistance of lawyers and professionals in the varying sectors of the economy in which the investment is taking place. This often results in unfavorable terms in the investment contracts with adjudication clauses that defer the interpretation of the contracts and conflict resolutions to foreign arbitration and adjudication bodies outside the continent. African lawyers and the judiciary are often not even contemplated as key actors in the negotiation of investment contracts and the adjudication of investment disputes in case of conflict. This leaves investments in Key sectors of African economies in the hands of expatriates and foreign agents whose agenda is to stultify the much desired growth of Africa economies.

It has hardly been contemplated nor desired that a transfer of technology clause if inserted into foreign investment contracts could lead to the rapid transformation of Africa from a continent of perpetual slave labour to a continent that processes and transforms its raw materials for the national and universal markets. Africa must own its problems and accept to conceive and apply some dose of painful remedy to this complex life threatening ailment.

Since President Kikwete raised the alarm that placed the required focus on “poverty and the need to establish economic growth to overcome the continent’s challenges” citing Africa’s prospects as remaining bleak with the Doha Round stalling’, and new negative trends that included climate change and soaring fuel and food prices”, Africa has made frantic judicial and continental level efforts towards addressing these problems. The AU has made some adjustments in its focus towards seeking solutions to the continent’s security, economic, health, technological research, energy, mineral exploitation, communication, inter-African and Pan African justice needs. The efforts deployed so far though commendable are still insufficient or not commensurate to the magnitude of the problems.

The AU significantly made giant steps towards establishing an African Criminal Court to try crimes committed in Africa, relieving the continent of the humiliating focus of the international criminal court which gives the perception that Africans may be inherently criminal. The Malabo Protocol granting the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights have more than any international court in history criminalized crimes which from Nuremburg and Tokyo World War Tribunals no other international court has criminalized.

The Protocol targets a wide variety of crimes perpetrated on the continent including economic crimes.[13] The criminalization of the crimes of illicit exploitation of resources, trafficking in hazardous wastes, terrorism, money laundering, unconstitutional change of government, piracy and the crime of aggression have at long last awaken the enduring effects of the hitherto unpunished historic crimes of slavery, imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism from which colonial cooperation agreements and treaties drew legitimacy for eternal banishment from the continent of Africa. In other words, criminalizing these crimes at long last will target and slay the beast of colonial crimes and its offspring allowing room for Africa to develop and prosper in peace.

The African Union needs to conceive and proclaim an African Investment and economic Charter for the continent. The AU needs to summon as a matter of urgency, an Africa business forum in which governments and business operators in Africa will set in motion a mechanism and frame work for investment in Africa. The African Union lacks a clearing house for informing African investors and entrepreneurs the business potential of each African country. The Proposed investment and business Charter should aim at the AU working on harmonization business and investment law in Africa to enable African and foreign investors to invest in the continent. Presently, colonial and neo-colonial treaties favour foreign investors, particularly those from former colonial powers.

There is no reason why investment contracts in specific areas or sectors of the African economies should not prioritize national and African investors making foreign investors come in as partners only. Africa has to start training its own road investor contractors. African banks have to start providing loans to support African investments in key areas of the African economy.

African lawyers must mobilize to intervene and settle African conflicts of a political and economic nature. There is no reason why the AU cannot establish a Pan African institution for the settlement of investments disputes on the continent. There is no reason why the AU with the support of the African Bar Association cannot establish a Pan African Board of Arbitration to which different arbitration bodies in the continent will be affiliated. Such an arbitration board will keep a roaster of arbitrators from which arbitrators will be to meet the arbitration needs of investors in Africa.

There is no reason why the AU cannot make article 26 of the African Charter more functional by establishing a more robust mechanism within the AU aimed at encouraging and protecting the independence of the judiciary in member states. In this regard, for a member of the judiciary of a state party to be eligible for appointment to a high judicial organ within the AU institutional framework or within an international judicial or quasi-judicial institution requiring AU support, the constitutional and institutional arrangement in the state party must guarantee independence of the judiciary. A failure to set standards in this regard, led to two Judges from the Cameroon Judiciary which the African Commission on Human found in the Ngwang Gumne v Cameroon (The Southern Cameroons Case) not to be independent to be elected to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights making a total mockery of its decision indicting the Cameroon judiciary for not being independent.

 

Conclusion

The Assembly of African leaders, lawyers, businessmen, professionals from all walks of life, the press and millions alive and unborn will look at this occasion with pride. With pride because African lawyers under the banner of the African Bar Association have risen to the occasion and the challenge to summon all of us here to make an informed pledge to lay down an enduring framework of investment, economic sovereignty and prosperity for Africa.

There is general agreement that investing in Africa will provide a much desired panacea for the dire economic situation facing our continent. The security of these investments needs be guaranteed by competent professional lawyers and an independent judiciary. Africa has significant investment opportunities, competent professional lawyers and independent judges. However, the ability of these key actors to manage Africa’s investment portfolio in ways that benefit Africa and the investors is hampered by powerful extraneous actors and factors.

There is a compelling need for all judicial actors in Africa and the judiciary to organize, assert and prove their expertise, proficiency and relevance in playing the role of key actors in managing the investment portfolio of Africa with unblemished expertise and uncontested independence. This conference on investment in Africa is critical and timely. The next conference on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law complement must be organized to complement the results of this conference.

I respectfully submit that the proceedings of this conference and all the very rich conference papers presented here be delivered to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, all African leaders and universities in Africa to help refocus the desired attention on investments in Africa.

*Chief Charles A. Taku is Executive Council of the AFBA, Member for Life; Vice-President of the ICCBA, Member of the Executive and Defence Committee of the ICCBA; Vice-President of ADAD; and Lead-Counsel at the ICC.The paper was   presented at the conference of the African Bar Association in Port Harcourt from 7 to 10 August 2017

[1] Preamble, Charter of the United Nations, 24 October 1945.

[2] Articles 8 and 10, UN General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948. Article 14, UN General Assembly, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 999, p. 171.

[3] Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary Adopted by the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held at Milan from 26 August to 6 September 1985 and endorsed by General Assembly resolutions 40/32 of 29 November 1985 and 40/146 of 13 December 1985.

 

 

 

[4] The French campaign in French Cameroun commenced in 1948, the same year the UN Declaration on Human Rights was proclaimed against the Union des Population du Cameroun UPC founded by Um Nyobe Mpodol and continued this campaign directly or by proxy until 1971 when the last nationalist leader of the UPC Ernest Ouandie was assassinated.

[5] From an address delivered at the Second Annual Conference of the Congress of Peoples Against Imperialism on “Colonies and War” Poplar, London, on October 9, 1949 quoted in Wilfred Cartey and Martin Kilson: The Africa Reader: Independent Africa Rabdom House New York 1970 pp 74 and 75.

[6] President Jakaya Kikwete, AU Chairman Address to the United Nations in New York 23 September 2008.

[7] Article 26 of the African Charter states that “State Parties to the present Charter shall have the duty to guarantee the independence of the Courts and shall allow the establishment and improvement of appropriate national institutions entrusted with the promotion and protection of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the present Charter”.

[8] Communication No. 266/2003, 27 May 2009, African Commission for Human Rights, Ngwang Gumne v Cameroon para. 132.

[9] Cooperation Agreement signed between Ahmadou Ahidjo and France dated December 12, 1959. Cameroon attained independence on January 1, 1960 .The cooperation agreement in its articles 1-6 reserve the authority to 1) determine Cameroon’s economic, political, and socio-cultural orientations to France.2) France shall manufacture currency for Cameroon called the CFA.3) France shall guide the determination of educational programs at all levels.4) The French national treasury shall have a portfolio named operations account to cover 100% of Cameroon’s foreign exchange. After a series of revisions, the percentage stands at 50% today. 5) France shall have strategic priority in the exploitation of Cameroon’s raw materials.6) On 10th November 1961, shortly Cameroon annexed and colonized the Southern Cameroons in the evening of September 30, 1961, President Ahidjo signed a military cooperation agreement with France in which the French army may be invited by the Cameroon President or the French Ambassador in Cameroon to send French troops to suppress an internal rebellion or insurrection or any threats to the regime in place. The Southern Cameroon had voted in a UN sponsored plebiscite to attain independence by joining the independent Republic of Cameroon upon terms to be worked out prior to independence. The independence was attained leading the way for the termination of the trusteeship over the Southern Cameroons but the sovereignty to negotiate a union treaty was subverted by the annexation and military occupation of the territory.

[10] Osafgyfo Dr Kwame Nkrumah: Neocolonialism in Africa in Africa Must Unite, (New York, 1964 cited in The Africa Reader: Independent Africa edited by Wilfred Cartey and Martin Kilson Random House New York, 1970 p. 220.

[11] The African Reader, p. 60.

[12] Adekeye Adebajo and Kaye Whiteman: The EU and Africa: From EuroAfrique to Afro-Europa, 2012, Hurst and Company, London, p.17.

[13] Malabo Protocol Granting Criminal Jurisdiction to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Adopted in Malabo Equatorial Guinea in June 2014) Articles 28 D, 28 E, 28 F, 28 F, 28 I, 28,Ibis, 28 J, 28 J, 28 L, 28 L Bis, 28 M. In addition to the crimes punishable under the Statute of Ad Hoc Tribunals and the ICC, the Malabo Protocol criminalizes and punishes the crimes unconstitutional change of government, piracy, terrorism, mercenarism, corruption, money laundering, trafficking in persons, trafficking in hazardous wastes, and illicit exploitation of resources.

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Power Africa Releases Annual Report
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Power Africa, a U.S. Government-led initiative to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, has released its annual report. The initiative consists of more than 150 public and private sector partners, which have collectively committed more than $54 billion towards achieving Power Africa’s goals. It is among the world’s largest public-private partnerships in development history.

The 2017 report highlights how Power Africa continues to lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth in Africa while creating opportunities for American businesses as it makes progress towards its goals of increasing installed generation capacity by 30,000 megawatts (MW) and adding 60 million new electricity connections by 2030.

Since its inception, Power Africa has facilitated the financial close of power transactions expected to generate more than 7,200 MW of power in sub-Saharan Africa. The 80 Power Africa transactions that have concluded financing agreements are valued at more than $14.5 billion, and Power Africa projects have generated more than $500 million in U.S. exports. In addition, Power Africa has facilitated more than 10 million electrical connections, which have brought electricity to more than 50 million people for the first time.

The report also highlights the role of women in Africa’s power sector, by chronicling the contributions of select members of Power Africa’s Women in African Power (WiAP) network. It includes an executive letter from the Honorable Irene Muloni, Minister for Energy and Minerals in Uganda, as well as profiles of women whose drive is strengthening Africa’s power sector.

Over the next year, Power Africa will work with more than 100 U.S. companies, African partners, other donors, and the private sector to harness the technology, ingenuity, and political will necessary to bring the benefits of modern energy to even remote parts of Africa while promoting economic growth. The initiative will also expand beyond its initial focus on solar lanterns and renewable energy to support more on-grid power projects in natural gas and other sources.

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Philanthropists join forces to fund Africa’s cash-strapped health sector
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Billionaires Bill Gates, Aliko Dangote come together to fund health care projects

Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre in Nigeria. Photo: Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre

Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre in Nigeria. Photo: Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre

In the 2017 World Happiness Report by Gallup, African countries score poorly. Of the 150 countries on the list, the Central African Republic, Tanzania and Burundi rank as the unhappiest countries in the world.

Some of the factors driving unhappiness are the poor state of the continent’s health care systems, the persistence of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and the growth of lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

Few African countries make significant investments in the health sector—the median cost of health care in sub-Saharan Africa is $109 per person per year, according to Gallup. Some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar and Niger, spend just half of that per person annually.

In 2010 only 23 countries were spending more than $44 per capita on health care, according to the World Health Organization. These countries got funding from several sources, including government, donors, employers, non-governmental organisations and households.

Private investment is now critical to meet the considerable shortfall in public-sector investment, say experts.

While many international organisations, such as UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross, continue to support Africa’s health care system, private entities and individuals are also increasingly making contributions. For example, Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote, and the world’s second richest person, Bill Gates, have formed a partnership to address some of Africa’s key health needs.

In 2014 the Nigerian-born cement magnate made global headlines after donating $1.2 billion to Dangote Foundation, which used the money to buy equipment to donate to hospitals in Nigeria and set up mobile clinics in Côte d’Ivoire.

A philanthropist himself, Mr. Gates wrote of Mr. Dangote in Time magazine: “I know him best as a leader constantly in search of ways to bridge the gap between private business and health.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focuses, among other projects, on strengthening Africa’s health care resources. According to the Gates Foundation, as of May 2013 it had earmarked $9 billion to fight diseases in Africa over 15 years. In 2016 the foundation pledged to give an additional $5 billion over a five-year period, two-thirds to be used to fight HIV/AIDS on the continent.

While acknowledging the Gates’ generosity, locals noted that for many years the Foundation had invested in the oil companies that have contributed in making health outcomes extremely poor in some areas of Nigeria. These companies include Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total.

Facing a backlash, the Gates Foundation sold off some 87% of its investments in major coal, oil and gas companies, leaving approximately $200 million in these stocks as of 2016.  Groups such as Leave It in the Ground, a non-profit organization advocating for a global moratorium on fossil exploration, are pushing for divestment.

“The link between saving lives, a lower birth rate and ending poverty was the most important early lesson Melinda and I learned about global health,” said Mr. Gates recently. The Gates Foundation supports reducing childhood mortality by supplying hospitals with necessary equipment and hiring qualified local practitioners to take care of patients and their children.

Dangote-Gates collaboration

In 2016, the Dangote Foundation and the Gates Foundation formed a philanthropic dream team when they announced a $100 million plan to fight malnutrition in Nigeria. The new scheme will fund programmes to 2020 and beyond, using local groups in the northwest and northeast Nigeria. The northeast has for the past seven years been ravaged by the Boko Haram’s Islamic militant insurgency, affecting all health care projects in the region.

Malnutrition affects 11 million children in northern Nigeria alone, and Mr. Dangote said the partnership would address the problem.

The Foundations had already signed a deal to work together to foster immunization programmes in three northern states: Kaduna, Kano and Sokoto.

The Gates Foundation states on its website, “Contributions towards the costs of the program by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote Foundation, and state governments will be staggered across three years: 30% in year one, 50% in year two, and 70% in year three, with the respective states taking progressive responsibility for financing immunization services.”

The future of about 44% of Nigeria’s 170 million people would be “greatly damaged if we don’t solve malnutrition,” said Mr. Gates, at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Building trust

Despite the many international and local efforts, cultural and religious factors often impede efforts to address Africa’s weak health infrastructure. For example, in 2007, religious leaders in northern Nigeria organized against aid workers administering polio vaccinations after rumours started circulating that the vaccines were adulterated and would cause infertility and HIV/AIDS.

In 2014, during the Ebola crisis, villagers chased and stoned Red Cross workers in Womey village in Guinea, accusing them of bringing “a strange disease”.

The big players may be Mr. Dangote and Mr. Gates, but others less well known are also making important contributions to Africa’s health care. After the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, for example, which resulted in the loss of about 11,300 lives, private companies in the three most affected countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—partnered with the government to fight the virus.

The Sierra Leone Brewery, for example, helped in constructing facilities for Ebola treatment. Individuals, such as Patrick Lansana, a Sierra Leonean communications expert, also volunteered their services for the Ebola fight. He said: “I joined the fight against Ebola because I wanted to help my country. My efforts, and those of others, made a difference. It would have been difficult for the government and international partners to combat the virus alone.”

Public-private partnerships

Private and public sectors need to collaborate to help Africa’s health care system from collapse, notes a report by UK-based PricewaterHouseCoopers consultancy firm. The report states that public-private partnerships, or PPPs, when fully synergised can bring about quality health care. Under a PPP in the health sector, for example, a government can contribute by providing the health care infrastructure, while private entities can be involved in the operations.

In a widely published joint opinion piece last April, Mr. Dangote and Mr. Gates stated that improving health care in Africa depends on a “successful partnership between government, communities, religious and business leaders, volunteers, and NGOs. This ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction.”

*Culled from Africa Renewal

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Africa on the road to industrial progress-Li Yong
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Li Yong, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Photo: Africa Renewal/Eleni Mourdoukoutas

Li Yong, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Photo: Africa Renewal/Eleni Mourdoukoutas

As the director general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Li Yong leads a specialised agency that promotes industrial development, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability. Recently in New York, Mr. Yong took part in a special meeting on “innovation in infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization” in developing countries and countries with special needs. He spoke with Africa Renewal’s Kingsley Ighobor on a range of issues pertaining to Africa’s industrialization. Here are the excerpts:

Africa Renewal: You are attending a meeting on industrialization in developing countries, which includes many African countries. How does Africa fit in the picture?

Li Yong: The ECOSOC [UN’s Economic and Social Council] meeting is important because of SDG 9, which calls for inclusive sustainable industrialization, innovation and infrastructure. Africa has to compete within the global value chain, the manufacturing value addition and with the growth and speed of other regions. Two-thirds of the least developed countries are in Africa. Due to underdevelopment of the industrial sector, some countries are not growing fast enough.

What are the factors hindering Africa’s industrialization?

The sudden drop in commodity prices caused problems because it lowered the competitiveness of commodities-dependent countries.

But commodity prices dropped only recently.

No, not just recently. Let’s say this has been the case throughout the last century. But let me talk about factors hindering industrialization. Long ago the international development institutions wrongly prescribed deindustrialization for some countries. An ambassador of an African country actually told me that the very painful process of deindustrialization forced them to stop exporting cheese, cocoa beans and other products. Another reason is that countries change policies too often. Insecurity occasioned by frequent changes of policies scares away investors and disrupts the industrialization process.

Were the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) of the 1980s a wrong prescription?

I do not want to talk about that because I was involved in the whole process of structural adjustment lending when I was working at the World Bank. I would just say that some of the prescriptions provided to African countries were not very good.

Critics say meetings such as the one you are attending are all talk but no action. What’s your take on this?

I think that sometimes if there’s too much talk, too much debate on the theories, on the reports and studies, action is lost. Just do it! If it’s creating jobs, let’s go for it.

UNIDO’s Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) aims to mobilise private and public sector resources for industrialisation and to provide technical assistance to countries. How is that going?

It’s an innovative way to support a country’s industrial development. We collaborate with governments and development institutions to create industrial development strategies, and we support such strategies. Usually there is a financing issue: the government needs to allocate resources to basic infrastructure. But development institutions also need to provide supplementary financing for infrastructure such as roads, highways, railroads, electricity, water supply, etc. We advise governments to formulate policies that protect investments that will trigger private-sector financing and FDI [foreign direct investment].

You were heavily involved in the development of agricultural and small and medium-size enterprises in China. What lessons can Africa learn from China?

There must be a vision and a strategy. Develop policies that support small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture sector, to begin with. In China, the number one document released at the beginning of the year was a plan to support agriculture development. Second, take concrete measures. We cannot talk about empty themes. Third, support with financial resources, capacity building and training. Fourth, provide an environment for SMEs to thrive. Lastly, link the agricultural sector to agro-industry, agribusiness and manufacturing.

Not long ago, a World Bank report stated that Africa’s agribusiness could be worth $1 trillion by 2030. Could agribusiness be a game changer for the continent?

Yes, although I wouldn’t say that the $1 trillion figure is exactly accurate. But agriculture is a very important sector for Africa. The job creation element in the sector requires innovation. If you try to grow wheat, corn, fruits, etc without connecting to agro-processing food packaging and the global value chain, there is very little opportunity for job creation. Some people argue that if you introduce modern technology, some farmers may lose jobs. I don’t accept this argument because farming services connect to the market. With agro-processing, farmers have more time and capacity to do things beyond planting and growing crops.

The goal of the African Agribusiness and Africa Development Initiative, which UNIDO supports, is to link farmers to big markets. But African farmers cannot compete in the global marketplace because many Western governments subsidize farming. What’s your take?

Africa can be innovative about this. For instance, cocoa-producing African countries that used to export cocoa beans are currently producing some chocolate products locally. In Ghana, a private company is producing cocoa butter, cocoa oil and cocoa cake for domestic consumption. And UNIDO supported them with a laboratory, equipment and technicians to enable them to receive certifications to export to Europe and Asia. Consider Ethiopia, with 95 million people and millions of cattle and sheep and cows. But they only export around 7% of their live cattle to other countries because they don’t have processing capacity. They don’t have the standard certifications for export, although the quality of meat is excellent. Currently we are supporting Ethiopia to set up a project for testing so that they meet the criteria for exporting to other countries. Actually, African agriculture can connect to the global value chain.

Countries may set up agro-industries in areas where they have a competitive advantage, but the lack of technical skills and inadequate infrastructure, particularly roads and electricity, is still an issue.

We have the traditional toolboxes, including vocational training. Capacity training is a very popular UNIDO programme. With donor support, we develop training programmes like we did in Tunisia and Ethiopia, where young engineers received training in how to operate big equipment. The second example is that countries need large-scale agro-processing projects. For instance, Ethiopia developed hundreds of industrial parks that are helping develop the capacity to manufacture many more products.

Most foreign investors target Africa’s extractive sector, which generates few jobs. How do you encourage investments in the agriculture sector?

The best approach for Africa is not to say, “Don’t export raw materials.” Look at Australia and other countries that still export raw materials. They did their cost-benefits analysis and decided not to set up manufacturing companies. What is needed is market discipline. But this doesn’t mean that all countries must export raw materials. If they have the capacity, if there are foreign investors that come in to build factories and create jobs, why not?

Sustainable industrialization produces long-term results, I believe. Countries grappling with poverty need resources immediately. Such countries cannot slow down their unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.

I believe we should have industrial development in an inclusive, sustainable way. If we manufacture goods with a heavy pollution of water, soil or air, there’s a cost to people’s health. Think about what it will cost to address those pollutions in the future. At UNIDO, we do not approve projects for implementation unless they meet our environmental standards.

Are African leaders receptive to your ideas?

Most leaders I’ve met request UNIDO’s support. Except for countries in difficult situations such as those in conflicts, others need to show a strong commitment to industrialization.

Are you seeing such commitments?

Yes, in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia—many leaders are showing a commitment. The new Nigerian president is committed to industrialization. However, countries in conflict, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC], may have difficulties industrializing. The DRC has many resources, including gold and oil. They have a vast land—you can grow anything there—and a huge population. But internal conflict is slowing industrialization. Yet a peaceful Rwanda is moving very fast with industrialization. So it depends on a country’s situation, the commitments of its leadership and the efficiency of its administrative systems.

How do you see Africa in about 10 years?

Many countries will move up the socioeconomic ladder and become middle-income countries. There will be more industries to manufacture goods and create jobs. I think it’s possible. The global community is ready to support Africa. Most importantly, African countries are committed to industrial progress and economic growth.

*Culled from Africa Renewal

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Partnerships at work in Africa
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Governments need to on top of things
Henri Konan Bédié Bridge linking the north and south of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Photo: Bouygues Construction

Henri Konan Bédié Bridge linking the north and south of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Photo: Bouygues Construction

The construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal in Ghana to support power generation in the Kpone Power Enclave in the port city of Tema, near Accra, is reawakening hopes of an end to the energy crisis that has plagued the country in recent years.

Power outages have led to a rationing schedule that involves cutting power for 24 hours every two days. Businesses have been forced to connect standby power sources such as generators, incurring extra costs. Some have had to lay off workers.

The $600 million project, being implemented under a public-private partnership (PPP) between Quantum Power Ghana Gas and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, is expected to provide the West African nation with a reliable and efficient power supply.

The plant will add about 220 megawatts of electricity to Ghana’s national grid. The country now has 2,900 megawatts of generation capacity, not enough to meet the growing demand, which the National Energy Policy of 2010 estimated would be about 5,000 megawatts by 2016.

“We hope the project will address the dumsor once and for all,” says Nancy Osabutey, a resident of Accra. Dumsor (“on-off”) is a Ghanaian term commonly used to describe the erratic power availability in the country.

A recent report by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, a Ghanaian-based think tank, estimates that the economy has lost $24 billion as a result of the energy crisis since 2010.

Like many African countries, Ghana is facing an infrastructure financing gap. Policy makers are starting to realise that PPPs can help fill such gaps.

“Africa has been growing over the last few years. It will be challenging to achieve economic growth without addressing the huge infrastructure financing and access gap in energy generation and transmission, roads and ports,” says Tilahun Temesgen, the chief regional economist at the Eastern Africa Resource Centre of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The AfDB maintains that the continent needs about $100 billion per year for infrastructure investment, yet the total spending on infrastructure by African countries is just about half that, leaving a financing gap of about $50 billion.

“This difference should come from somewhere. Tapping into private-sector investment by unleashing the potential of PPPs is one innovative way of attracting financing for infrastructure in Africa, as this has a very high development and poverty reduction impact in Africa,” states Mr. Temesgen.

He adds, “Governments and development partners cannot fully close the current huge infrastructure financing gap. It is therefore vital to mobilise private-sector financing to support infrastructure developments.”

Private-sector financing is succeeding in different parts of the continent, just as it soon may in Ghana through the Kpone power plant.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the Henri Konan Bédié bridge in the capital, Abidjan, is considered one of the most successful PPP-funded projects in the post-conflict country.

The $265 million bridge, opened in 2014, connects two of Abidjan’s major districts—Riviera in the north and Marcory in the south—and has done away with over 10 kilometres of traffic congestion. About a hundred thousand vehicles use the bridge each day.

“This facility enables us to enjoy the benefits of better traffic conditions. We now take less time in traffic, meaning more time for productivity at work. A while ago we would spend more than three hours in traffic,” says Abraham Kone, a resident of Abidjan.

The bridge has also opened up the neighbouring hinterland, simplifying freight transportation to the Port of Abidjan, the largest port on Africa’s west coast.

Public-private partnership is also diversifying the country’s energy sector. The expansion of the Azito thermal energy plant involving the construction of two 144-megawatt power plants will save $4 million in energy costs each year and will enable Côte d’Ivoire to move from being a net importer of electricity to being a net exporter.

With the expansion, the energy plant, located six kilometres west of the port of Abidjan, is producing over 30% of electricity generated in Côte d’Ivoire, with some of it going to neighbouring countries, including Ghana.

Partnering with the private sector to promote sustainable development is something the government is talking a lot about.

According to Albert Toikeusse Mabri Abdallah, the Ivorian minister for planning and development, “Public-private partnership is in line with Côte d’Ivoire’s National Development Plan, which outlines building and renovating the country’s infrastructure to accelerate development.” The minister adds that “such collaboration will also ensure job creation and poverty alleviation.”

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envisage that PPPs can promote sustainable development in Africa. A key priority of the UN-founded SDG Fund is to bring together public and private entities to jointly address development challenges.

However, many African countries, according to an AfDB report, are still in the initial stages of PPP implementation “because their use of PPP schemes is still uncommon and PPPs are complex to implement.”

The report indicates that PPPs have historically been scarcer in sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the world. Telecoms transactions account form the bulk of PPPs on the continent, but energy PPPs have recently started growing significantly.

“PPPs are not easy. They need a number of issues to be successful. Above all, a stable macroeconomic environment is necessary,” explains Mr. Temesgen.

However, an environment characterised by inadequate regulatory frameworks, unclear rules and procedures and lack of political commitment inhibits growth of PPPs.

Uganda PPPs

Uganda is one of the countries with a solid PPP programme. According to the AfDB document, this is the result of many factors, including support from the presidency and the ministry of finance, an earlier successful privatisation programme and a well-designed framework.

At a meeting in South Korea last November, Ajedra Gabriel Gadison Aridru, Uganda’s state minister for finance, planning and economic development, cited the PPP Act enacted in 2015 as a major enabler of the country’s PPPs. The law spells out the specific engagements of private partners in such partnerships. It also regulates the roles and responsibilities of government bodies during the development and implementation of PPP projects.

Concerns have been raised about severe environmental hazards following PPPs. Ghana Gas Company, for example, has been accused of failing to act as areas such as Atuabo, in western Ghana, continue to suffer the effects of oil and gas exploration that have led to widespread air and water pollution.

Because of concerns like this, governments are being urged to disclose information on risk assessments, including potential environmental and social impacts, of such mega-projects. Institutions such as the Bretton Woods Project would like to see more informed consultations, broader civil society involvement and closer monitoring of PPPs by all stakeholders.

*culled from Africa Renewal

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Global companies give Africa a second look
August 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
South Africa hosts most of the top companies in Africa, but other countries are coming up
BMW South Africa announces the production of its one-millionth BMW 3 Series sedan at its manufacturing plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria in South Africa. Photo: BMW Group

When travelling abroad for work and looking for accommodation, Joe Eyango, a Cameroonian living in the US, considers two factors: convenient transportation from the airport and around the city and reliable Internet access. He is a university professor and wants to be able to jet in, hit the ground running, make his presentation and zoom off to another destination in a day or two.

Mr. Eyango has been to various countries in Africa for business and work but has reasons for preferring South Africa.

“South Africa has a lot to offer compared with other African countries. The road system is good, there is adequate electricity and reliable Internet connection, which is necessary for work and business,” Mr. Eyango told Africa Renewal in an interview.

Recently, having been invited to present a conference paper on a tight schedule, Mr. Eyango flew into Johannesburg from Amsterdam, spent less than 30 minutes in customs at the O. R. Tambo International Airport, took a taxi and was at his hotel in less than an hour since arrival.

South Africa attracts many professionals and big multinationals. It’s currently home to more than 75% of all top global companies in Africa.

“Where these big companies choose to invest depends on whether the environment is right for business. Investors are interested in relatively stable countries, good infrastructure, reliable communication, electricity and labour,” says Dr. John Mbaku, a researcher at Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution and also a professor of economics at Weber State University, US.

Some of the global companies with a presence in South Africa include luxury car manufacturers BMW, the Standard Bank Group, Barclays Bank, Vodafone (one of the world’s largest communication companies), Volkswagen, and General Electric. There is also FirstRand, Sasol, Sanlam, and MTN Group.

In an earlier interview with South African officials on why they’d chosen the country as an investment destination, Sam Ahmed, then the managing director of Britannia Industries, an India-based manufacturer of biscuits, snacks and confectionery, said his organization had been looking for a country that would give it access to the entire African market while keeping its costs low.

“In South Africa you have first-world infrastructure and third-world cost,” Mr. Ahmed said. The company’s production costs in South Africa were much lower than in Southeast Asia, the company headquarters.

Big businesses are also attracted to countries where the legal system works, so they can be assured of justice should legal issues arise. South Africa’s judiciary has been hailed for its sound judgements and independence from political machinations relative to other African countries.

Another attraction for big businesses is human resources. The efficiency and smooth operation of these large companies depend on the calibre of its labour force. Despite many years of apartheid, according to Mr. Mbaku, South Africa provides its citizens with relatively good quality education the multinationals are looking for in their labour force.

However, despite its successes, South Africa continues to grapple with a high crime rate (especially in urban areas), graft accusations and the political uncertainty that businesses loathe.

Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN body that deals with trade, investment and development issues, acknowledges that South Africa has the oldest and most developed market economy in the whole of Africa for historical reasons: the market grew out of a strong mining and industrial base and the financial industry.

However, according to Mr. Kituyi, things are now changing and other African countries are also attracting big investors.

“It’s true South Africa has had a head start, but in net terms, there is faster growth in alternative centres for both manufacturing and service delivery than in South Africa. Today, the financial services industry is growing faster in Morocco than in South Africa,” Mr. Kituyi told Africa Renewal in an interview.

He notes that some multinational enterprises operating out of South Africa have relocated substantially. “We recently saw the opening of the Volvo truck-manufacturing plant in Mombasa. And similarly, we have seen many other services, particularly IT-based services and telecommunications, growing in new nodes like Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda.”

Fringe benefits

So why should African governments want to encourage global companies to set up shop in their countries?

Driven by insufficient funds, African governments are increasingly turning to private-sector companies for a much-needed boost. Foreign investments provide capital to finance industries, boost infrastructure and productivity, provide social amenities and create jobs, all of which can help a country reach its economic potential. And as countries rush to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, funding is key.

In Africa, governments and industry are gradually forming public-private partnerships (PPPs) in which companies provide capital while governments ensure an environment conducive to business. In the last 10 years, the continent has welcomed PPPs for projects in infrastructure, electricity, health and telecommunications.

Lenders like the African Development Bank are urging African countries to improve business environments by “creating the necessary legal and regulatory framework for PPPs, and to facilitate networking and sharing of experience among regulatory agencies and other similar organizations.”

Tread carefully

However, even as PPPs begin to change the face of Africa, there is need for countries to tread carefully and to learn from failed PPPs when signing up for such partnerships.

“Ask yourselves, does the state have the capacity to forge ahead with these partnerships? This is necessary to avoid bad debt,” says Mr. Kituyi, adding that governments should not let private companies drive the agenda.

This word of caution is echoed by the Brookings Institution’s Mr. Mbaku, who is advising African governments to ensure that PPPs work to their advantage: “If you have a weak or corrupt leadership, you may not have the power or the skills required to negotiate a favourable partnership. You will end up with a PPP that is not really a partnership.”

Mr. Mbaku gives the example of oil companies that have been operating in Africa for more than 20 years yet still depend on expatriate labour instead of employing locals. Such companies are reluctant to transfer skills, knowledge and technology to the locals.

Another problem with PPPs is the imbalance of power. “If you are a government engaged in a PPP on a development project, there is inequality in power. The multinational has capital, skilled manpower and [an] external market. The government has no power over these,” says Mr. Mbaku.

Despite the challenges, however, PPPs will continue playing a major role in the development of poor countries. For African countries to attract multinationals and other big investors to partner with, their governments need to put their house in order—improve infrastructure, communication, security and the legal system, and fight corruption.

*Culled from Africa Renewal

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Kevin-Prince Boateng returns to Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt
August 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Kevin-Prince Boateng returns to the German Bundesliga to play for a fourth club

Kevin-Prince Boateng returns to the German Bundesliga to play for a fourth club

Former Ghana international Kevin-Prince Boateng has signed a two-year deal with German side Eintracht Frankfurt.

The move comes two days after the 30-year-old ended his contract with Spain’s Las Palmas by mutual consent.

Boateng, who was born in Germany, played for Hertha Berlin, Borussia Dormtmund and Schalke in the past.

“We know Kevin’s strengths in midfield and are convinced that he can play a key role in our team,” Frankfurt sports director Fredi Bobic said.

“Kevin is a winner with endless will.”

The season kicks off on Friday with champions Bayern Munich taking on Bayer Leverkusen. Eintracht are in action in Freiburg on

 *BBC
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Reflections on Sierra Leone’s mudslide disaster
August 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
More than 400 people died as a result of the mudslides and flooding

More than 400 people died as a result of the mudslides and flooding

This week Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown experienced a devastating mudslide and flooding that claimed over 400 lives. Dozens are still missing presumed dead. Sierra Leonean journalist and Freetown resident Umaru Fofana reflects on the disaster.

On Monday 14 August, shortly after 08:00 (08:00 GMT), I could still hear the patter of heavy rain that had been falling all through the night.

Shaking off that post-weekend feeling, I stood outside my house as I often do when it rains heavily.

I live just a few metres outside Freetown’s largest slum, Kroo Bay.

There, whenever it rains, every room experiences flooding complete with red tropical mud and rubbish. One of the largest drains in town, Samba Gutter, simply empties itself into the community.

A general view of the mudslide at the mountain town of Regent, Sierra Leone August 16, 2017.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image caption“As I approached Regent I saw a massive red opening..”

Ironically when it is not raining they struggle for water. Five water pumps serve a community of nearly 15,000 people.

On this day the rain was so heavy that the accompanying fog had enveloped the bay.

My phone rang. A foreign diplomat was on the line. He wanted to check some information he had received.

“Has there been a mudslide or flooding around Regent?” he asked.

I smiled wryly not in disbelief but because I was not surprised.

“It happens almost every year,” I retorted. “But I hear this one is very serious,” he insisted.

I promised I would find out and get back to him.

Flooded streets in Regent near Freetown, 14 August 2017.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionPeople in Regent were wading through streets waist-deep in muddy water

Minutes later, my phones went into overdrive: some callers wanted to confirm the “rumours”, others simply to pass on information.

I spent 10 minutes calling the Office of National Security which coordinates, or should coordinate, disaster responses.

After a few tries someone answered. He confirmed that there had indeed been a mudslide and flooding, but could not give me further details as he had just received the news.

I alerted London and set off towards the scene.

Like most of Freetown, Regent is a mountainous village; the Portuguese explorers who named Sierra Leone derived its name from the mountains: Sera Lyoa – meaning “Lion Mountain”.

What in the past used to be lush green vegetation has given way to massive houses belonging to the nouveau riche.

Mourners look on as victims of a mudslide are buried at the cemetery of Freetown on August 17, 2017.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionMourners outside cemetery in Freetown

As I approached Regent I saw a massive red opening, part of what is a very green mountain. A huge chunk of Mount Sugar Loaf had caved in.

I was shocked at seeing the way part of the mountain had peeled away. At that moment the number of casualties was not clear.

When I arrived at the scene I could see the houses had disappeared, completely submerged by the mountain rug of red earth that had descended.

Residents, believed to number between 600 and 1,000, lay buried beneath the mudslide.

This is when the magnitude of the disaster dawned on me.

The calls kept coming. Now people were telling me about the flash floods that had been partly caused by the collapse of the mountain.

Huge boulders had created a massive channel that had widened the waterway, sweeping away homes in its path. It was ferocious.

Seven hours after the mudslide, there was no significant response on sight.

Young men in the neighbourhood were busy digging with their bare hands, desperately hoping to find people alive. But given the sheer weight of the mud their attempts appeared futile.

Ambulances left by the Ebola response teams of two years ago arrived a few hours later. But that was all there was.

The heavy-lifting machinery and equipment needed were nowhere to be seen. Just like in 2013 when the colonial-era King Jimmy Bridge caved in and killed many, construction companies had to be called upon to provide excavators.

Heavy machines are seen during work at the place of the mudslide in the mountain town of Regent, Sierra Leone August 16, 2017.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionHeavy machines initially nowhere to be seen

Man-made tragedy

On Monday night, President Ernest Bai Koroma addressed the nation. He sounded emotional, clearly touched by the events.

But could this have been avoided? Many have referred to this disaster as man-made.

Most of Freetown’s forest cover, which used to capture the rainfall, has been tampered with. The construction of houses is poorly regulated, and town planning is virtually non-existent.

They system of buying land is chaotic and often fraudulent.

This was clearly a disaster waiting to happen, which is why many were surprised that no-one has been held accountable.

If you hurt the environment, the environment will definitely fight back. It is that simple.

Map shows the location of the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown

Sierra Leone has had more than its fair share of challenges in recent times.

From a civil war that killed and maimed thousands, to an Ebola outbreak that debilitated the nation, making fear the order of the day.

And just when we thought we could move on, this happened.

Ebola obviously wreaked havoc on my country. So did the war.

During the orgy of killings by the rebels that reached its crescendo on 6 January 1991, corpses were strewn on the streets of Freetown. The central mortuary was overwhelmed.

But nothing comes anywhere close in comparison to this week. Almost 400 corpses were spread on the floor, estimated Dr Owiz Koroma, the country’s sole pathologist.

Media captionThe BBC’s Umaru Fofana describes ‘corpses piled up’ at Freetown’s central mortuary

To me as a journalist, in a country with huge mineral resources and wonderful people, I have not seen the positive side of that mineral wealth or its impact on the poor.

Whenever I travel abroad the questions I am asked revolve around the mayhem that my country has come to be associated with.

I keep going because I feel I need to be an uncompromising voice that sides with the people and gives them a platform to hold their leaders accountable.

But the impact of this disaster on me has been massive. I will never forget the scenes both inside and outside the central mortuary on that day.

Inside, hundreds of bodies lay on the bare floor, decomposing. Outside dozens of family members waiting to go in and identify their loved ones.

A worker is digging graves at the Paloko cemetery in Waterloo, Sierra Leone August 17, 2017. REUTERSImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionDozens still to be buried

The outpouring of emotions by these bewildered, distraught relatives was heart wrenching.

Alpha wept uncontrollably and could not even talk. He had lost his mother.

A middle-aged wailed inconsolably. She kept calling out to Adama to “come back” and sang in lament questioning God, asking why He had taken Adama away.

Men disembark coffins of mudslide victims from a truck on August 17, 2017 at Waterloo cemetery near Freetown,Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionQuestions asked about the loss of so many

Dozens of people still lie under the mud.

A man who was going to get married in four days time was among the dead.

So were six kids who went to study at the home of the star pupil in their class.

A senior Sierra Leonean military officer who had just returned home from a UN peacekeeping assignment also perished.

What is more, the rainy season has not even reached its peak.

Every year we get to see floods destroying lives and property.

But it is always the same attitude from the leaders. They seem to prefer putting out fires instead of preventing them.

*BBC

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Integrating Financial Services In Africa
August 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

By *

A defining objective of the African Union is to promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies. This noble mandate, enshrined in Article 3, of the Constitutive Acts of the AU, actually predates the AU, and was a principal goal of the Organization of African Unity, OAU, the predecessor body of the AU.

Emeke E Iweriebor

Emeke E Iweriebor

Economic integration also provided a fundamental impetus in the formation of the various Regional Economic Communities, RECs, and monetary zones in Africa – viz. ECOWAS, UMOA, CEMAC, CEEAC, EAC, AMU, CEN-SAD, SADC, COMESA, IGAD, etc. Together, these RECs have striven to promote and co-ordinate social, political and economic integration in the continent.Interestingly, some countries are even members of up two or three RECs. This is a testament to the overarching criticality of economic integration in the vision, plans and activities of African states.

In this treatise, I will focus on the integration of financial services in Africa, an unheralded field, but where remarkable results are being recorded. A Payment System is a facilitator of monetary transactions, and a veritable integrative node. In the UEMOA zone, in West Africa, the Groupement Interbancaire Monétique de I’UnionEconomique et MonétaireOuestAfricaine, more widely known by its French acronym, GIM-UEMOA, set up by BCEAO, the Central Bank of West African States in 2003, in striving to create a cashless region, has grown to become a regional platform for cards, electronic payments, and clearing of interbank transactions. With over 100 banks, financial and postal institutions as members; cardholders in the GIM network,pay relatively low transaction fees.

Also, the Central African equivalent, GIMAC,created in 2013, under the guidance of the Central Bank of Central African States, BEAC, is working with Banks to integrate the electronic payments system in the region, and ensure inter-operability and acceptance of GIMAC cards, for ATMs, POS, etc, by banks and for international payments,and reduce transaction and cash handling costs, while facilitating e-commerce.

The East African Payment System, EAPS, provides a platform for the real time settlement of cross border payments in the region. Driven by the Central Banks in the region, and piloted in 2013, the payment system took off immediately in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and subsequently, Rwanda. More remarkable is that EAPS is based on direct convertibility, and the use of the currencies of participating countries for transactions and settlement, without the intermediary facilitation of any OECD currency. For instance, transactions initiated in Tanzania shillings can be directly settled in Uganda shillings or Kenya shillings.

In Southern Africa, the SADC Integrated Regional Electronic Settlement System (SIRESS),and the Regional Payment and Settlement System, REPSS, launched separately in 2014, are two integrative payments systems worth referencing. Through SIRESS, funds can be wired, real time, to beneficiaries with accounts in SIRESS commercial banks. REPSS, with a clearing house in Zimbabwe, and the Central Bank of Mauritius as its Settlement Bank, utilizes an electronic platform for cross-border payments and settlement.

Quite positively, these initiatives, operationalized under the auspices of Central Banks, and with the active participation of commercial Banks are technologically advanced, rapid, and secure. While leveraging on the real-time gross settlement systems of the countries, they seek to enhance efficiency, reduce settlement time, lower transaction costs and generally facilitate intra-African trade, and economic integration in the continent.

In tandem, the banking sector, in Africa, has expanded exponentially in the last decade, in asset size and profitability; geography -distribution channels and network; product sophistication- digital banking, cards, mobile payments; and, financial inclusion. Access to financial services continues to improve across the continent. Furthermore, leveraging on enhanced capacity, pan-African banks are increasingly able to collaboratively finance large ticket and transformational infrastructural projects through syndications and risk sharing. Currently, the top 20 pan-African Banks have assets over $800b, with over 11,000 branches. Beyond banking, we are also witnesses to the birth and growth of pan-African insurance, micro finance, and other financial service companies across the continent that offer greater diversity and depth of products and solutions. All these have led to the increase in the range, frequency, and diversity in the classes of risks that Banks, and other financial institutions, face. Concomitantly, risk management, regulatory compliance and corporate governance have become more stringent, and with onerous application, as they remain important variables for assessing the health of Banks, in the drive towards overall sector viability and sustainability.

Imperceptibly, but surely, the regulatory environment of the financial services sector, is also being integrated. The Association of African Central Banks, headquartered in Dakar, brings together 39 regional and country Central Banks in Africa. In line with its statutes, and practices, its Assembly of Governors, usually meets yearly, to deliberate on financial system stability, monetary and payment system integration, the African Central Bank initiative, etc.Another critical arm is the Community of African Banking Supervisors (CABS) which works to strengthen banking regulatory and supervisory frameworks.In the last decade, I have observed, first hand, this increased collaboration between African Central Banks,with MOUs being signed, to facilitate cross border supervision, exchange of ideas and information sharing between host and home regulators. Also, the College of Supervisors set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria, as a forum that brings together host regulators of Banks, with headquarters in Nigeria, but with operations in other jurisdictions,to strengthen governance practices, and ensure soundness in the banking sector, is also a positive development.

An evolving trend in the African banking space, is the initiative to connect Africa, andenablecustomers of a bank to conveniently access their accounts, deposit cash and make cheque withdrawals in any branch, in different countries across Africa, where the bank operates, outside the primary country holding the account. This has the distinct capability to alter the face and operation of banking in the continent as it will open up and facilitate easy movement of goods, services capital, and people. I also look forward to the day, soon enough, for instance, when a Moroccan manufacturer of fertilizer visiting Zambia to negotiate a contract; agrees payment terms, issues a paymentinstrument right away to a Zambian exporter of high quality packaging materials and gets value immediately, using simple electronic payment instruments.

On the whole, these emerging trends contribute significantly to the on-going African-led processes of creating a powerful, vibrant pan-African financial infrastructure, to further undergird and deepen Pan African economic, commercial, business and social interactions through access to personal and business finance across Africa. Together with the various similar initiatives in different spheres by African economic communities identified above, these initiatives will serve as a powerful signal of the march of African economic advancement through financial facilitation to build a fully integrated financial system that enhances financial inclusion, and serves the people.

Work remains. To accelerate financial integration, existing regional mechanisms and frameworks, including those highlighted above, must now begin to coalesce and fuse into larger pan-African systems, Central Banking, common currency, payments and collections; intra-African trade facilitation; etc. In spite of existing differences, but given the importance and fluidity of finance to agriculture, infrastructure, industry and economic development, the largest economies in each region showered as regional anchors, within a defined framework of the Assembly of the African Union.

*Emeka is Executive Director; CEO Africa- Francophone at UBA Group.Piece culled from linkedin page.

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The Africa Travel Association to host the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Rwanda this month
August 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Washington DC – August 17, 2017: The opportunities tourism brings to African economies will be highlighted when African leaders, international investors, and travel professionals meet for the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference, in Rwanda from August 28 – 31.
Hosted by the Africa Travel Association (ATA), a division of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the conference will highlight the economic and job opportunities being fuelled by the sector’s continued growth.
In less than 15 years Africa’s travel and hospitality industries have quadrupled in size, and the continent remains one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia.
President and CEO of the Corporate Council of Africa, Florizelle Liser, says CCA aims to use the conference to encourage investments and policies that contribute to the sector’s growth.
“The tourism conference will highlight opportunities in the tourism sector and intersecting sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, health, real estate development, and finance. Through strategic partnerships, we will also offer capacity building workshops for travel professionals of all levels,” she said.
Adding: “I look forward to working with [RDB CEO] Ms. Akamanzi and her team at RDB to showcase what Rwanda has to offer.”
This year will be the first time ATA’s Tourism Conference will be hosted in Rwanda, one of East Africa’s premier tourism destinations and one whose sector continues to grow. According to the RDB, Rwanda’s tourism sector generated US$303 million in revenue, in 2014 up three percent in the previous year.
On the sidelines of what is expected to be a packed agenda, ATA is working with Facebook to deliver training to SMEs in Kigali. The ‘Boost Your Business’ is a training initiative, developed by Facebook and facilitated by Digify Africa, designed to train and upskill small business owners on how to leverage digital tools to grow their businesses. The training will be held on August 26 at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
The conference also aligns with Kwita Izina, Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, a national celebration creating awareness of the country’s efforts to protect the jewel of Rwanda’s tourism crown: the mountain gorillas and their habit.
The 41st Annual World Tourism Conference will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, on August 28-31, 2017.
Established in 1975, The African Travel Association serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry. ATA membership comprises African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour operators and travel agents, and affiliate industries. ATA partners with the African Union Commission (AU) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa.
Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting U.S. and African business interests. CCA serves as a neutral, trusted intermediary connecting its member firms with the essential government and business leaders they need to do business and succeed in Africa.
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