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“Lights, Power, Action”: AfDB’s Adesina and Kofi Annan Urge Governments to Close Africa’s Energy Deficit
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Chair of the Africa Progress Panel and former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, have called on African governments and their partners to do everything possible to close the continent’s huge energy gap.

They made the call on Monday, March 13, 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, at the launch of the Africa Progress Panel Report on “Lights, Power, Action: Electrifying Africa,” which calls for the adoption of every available on-grid and off-grid solution to light up and power Africa.

“The electricity deficit in Africa is immense,” said Adesina. “Today, 645 million people do not have access to electricity.

“Yet the continent has abundant supply of solar, hydropower, wind and geothermal potential, as well as significant amounts of natural gas and in some countries coal deposits. Africa has energy potential, yes, but we need to unlock that potential. And we must do so quickly, because Africans are tired of being in the dark.”

Adesina stated that he drew inspiration from the Panel’s previous report in developing the Bank’s High 5 development priorities, which places energy as the top priority, and which has, through the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa, committed to investing US $12 billion on energy in the next five years and leveraging US $45-50 billion from the private sector and other partners. The goal is to connect 130 million households via the grid, 75 million people via off-grid and provide some 130 million households with access to clean cooking energy.

The AfDB President commended the Africa Progress Panel for another very insightful report which, he said, will help Africa think through how to achieve the off-grid electricity revolution, as part of the comprehensive New Deal on Energy for Africa.

Lights, Power, Action notes that more than 620 million Africans without access to electricity cannot wait for grid expansion. While grid-connected megaprojects such as large dams and power pools are essential to scale up national and regional energy generation and transmission, they are slow and expensive. Therefore, governments must also increase investment in off-grid and mini-grid solutions, which are cheaper and quicker to install, the report says.

 “What we are advocating is for African governments to harness every available option, in as cost-effective and technologically efficient a manner as possible, so that everyone is included and no one is left behind,” said Kofi Annan.

Of the 315 million people who will gain access to electricity in Africa’s rural areas by 2040, it is estimated that only 30 per cent will be connected to national grids. Most will be powered by off-grid household or mini-grid systems.

“Lights, Power, Action” is an in-depth follow up to the influential 2015 Africa Progress Report, “Power, People, Planet: Seizing Africa’s Energy and Climate Opportunities“. It urges governments to put in place the incentives needed to encourage greater investment in off-grid and mini-grid systems, protect consumers, and facilitate demand among disadvantaged groups.

Above all, governments need to foster an environment in which companies can enter energy generation, transmission and distribution markets, climb the value chain, and build the investment partnerships that can drive growth and create jobs.

“Traditional approaches to extending the grid are no longer viable as the main option for African countries,” Annan said. “They will take too long and will not meet the needs of our growing economies and societies. Instead, governments and their partners need to seize the opportunity to re-imagine their energy futures.”

*AFDB/Allafrica

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The 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS Recognise Business Leaders and Companies that Shaped the Year in Africa
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Winners of the AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS 2016

The Winners of the AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS 2016
Credits Jacques Torregano

GENEVA, Switzerland, 13 March 2017, The AFRICA CEO FORUM 2017, the most high-profile international forum on African private sector development, will be held on 20 and 21 March in Geneva and, for the fifth consecutive year, will salute the economic performance of African business leaders and companies at the 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS.

Every year, the AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS recognise those companies and investors whose strategies and performance have contributed most to Africa’s growth dynamic over the past year.

On the night of 20 March 2017, in the presence of Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, one of the finalists in each of the following categories will win an award:

CEO OF THE YEAR
1. Abdulsamad Rabiu, CEO, BUA Group
2. Issad Rebrab, Chairman, Cevital
3. Mohammed Dewji, CEO, MeTL
4. Naguib Sawiris, Chairman, OTMT Investments
5. Said Salim Awadh Bakhresa, CEO, Bakhresa Group
6. Strive Masiyiwa, CEO, Econet
YOUNG CEO OF THE YEAR
1. Anta Babacar Ngom Bathily, MD, Sedima
2. Basil El-Baz, CEO, Carbon Holdings
3. Darshan Chandaria, CEO, Chandaria Industries
4. James Mworia, CEO, Centum Investments
5. Mohamed Ben Ouda, MD, SNTL
6. Lamia Tazi, MD, Sothema

YOUNG CEO OF THE YEAR
1. Anta Babacar Ngom Bathily, DG, Sedima

2. Basil El-Baz, PDG, Carbon Holdings
3. Darshan Chandaria, PDG, Chandaria Industries
4. James Mworia, PDG, Centum Investments
5. Mohamed Ben Ouda, DG, SNTL
6. Lamia Tazi, DG, Sothema

AFRICAN COMPANY OF THE YEAR
1. CIEL Group
2. ECONET
3. ELSEWEDY ELECTRIC
4. LABEL’VIE
5. MTN
6. OCP Group

AFRICAN BANK OF THE YEAR
1. ATTIJARIWAFA BANK
2. BANQUE CENTRALE POPULAIRE
3. ECOBANK
4. MAURITIUS COMMERCIAL BANK
5. STANDARD BANK GROUP
6. UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA

PRIVATE EQUITY INVESTOR OF THE YEAR
1. ACTIS
2. AFRICINVEST
3. DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS INTERNATIONAL LLP
4. HELIOS INVESTMENT PARTNERS
5. LEAPFROG INVESTMENTS
6. THE ABRAAJ GROUP

INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION OF THE YEAR
1. ALLIANZ
2. COCA-COLA
3. MOTA-ENGIL
4. ORANGE
5. SIEMENS
6. VITOL

For the past four years, over 120 African and international companies and investment funds and more than 30 CEOs, all emblematic of Africa’s economic vitality, have been nominated. Nineteeen awards have been given, including four prestigious CEO OF THE YEAR awards.

Developed in partnership with the African Development Bank, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is an event organised by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company specialising in organising events promoting and facilitating business.Launched in 2012, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has become the leading international meeting on the development of Africa and its companies, in a top-level professional setting. The 2016 edition hosted over 1,000 African and international personalities, including 600 business leaders from 43 African countries and 100 high-level speakers.
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flydubai announces 14.4% passenger growth to 10.4 million and profit of AED 31.6 million
February 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

Full-Year Results announced for the year ending 31 December 2016

  • Reports total profit for the year of AED 31.6 million (USD 8.6 million)
  • Total revenue for the year reached AED 5 billion (USD 1.37 billion) for the 12-month period
  • Carries record number of passengers (10.4 million) and sees 14.4% growth compared to the previous year
Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai

Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai

Flydubai  has today announced its Full-Year Results for 2016 reporting a profit of AED 31.6 million (USD 8.6 million). It has reported total revenue of AED 5 billion (USD 1.37 billion) an increase of 2.4% compared to the same period last year. The stronger second half, driven by increased passenger numbers, was impacted by downward pressure on yield leading to lower overall revenue growth reflecting a continuation of the same adverse factors reported in the first half.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of flydubai, said: “these results see flydubai report its fifth consecutive full-year of profitability. In 2012, our third year of operation, we carried 5.1 million passengers. This year, we have carried 10.4 million passengers demonstrating that flydubai continues to help change the way both business and leisure passengers travel around the region. An established tourism destination and global centre for business together with the UAE’s geographic location has supported the need for increased connectivity.”

Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of flydubai, reviewing the Annual Results for 2016, commented: “Over the last two years we have seen passenger traffic grow cumulatively by 52% in terms of RPKM [1]. We continue to demonstrate that we gain loyal customers across our network who recognise the benefits of direct air links and enjoy our onboard offering. The continuation of mainly lower fuel prices and ongoing cost management efforts are reflected in the 16% improvement in terms of ASKM [2] over the last two years. We have however seen a difficult pricing and operating environment.”

Cost and revenue performance

EBITDAR [3] was healthy at 21.1% of revenue; an improvement from the previous year’s figure of 20.5%.

The closing cash and cash equivalents position, including pre-delivery payments for future aircraft deliveries, remained strong at AED 2.3 billion.

Fuel costs were 25% of operating costs compared to 30.6% in the previous year, against a backdrop of lower fuel prices for the year, with legacy fuel hedges impacting only 21% of the volume for full year 2016.

Ancillary revenue comprising of baggage, cargo and inflight sales contributed 13.8% of revenue; dropping from 15.1% from the previous year.

Operational performance

Aircraft deliveries: 8 Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft joined the fleet in 2016 in support of network expansion. The average age of the fleet was 3 years 8.5 months.

Business Class: The growth in the number of flydubai’s Business Class passengers continued and saw the airline carry 2.4 times the number of passengers as in 2014. The Subcontinent saw the strongest demand for Business Class carrying more than double the number of passengers. This was followed by the Caucasus which grew by 88%, as a result of a liberalisation of the visa rules, creating an increased demand from both inbound and outbound traffic flows. In addition, Business Class passengers grew by 38% in Europe and 24% in the GCC and Middle East.

Network expansion: During the course of the year, increased flight frequency on existing routes and a maturing in the performance of the 41 new routes launched in 2014 and 2015 saw ASKM grow by 9%.

The launch, on 29 November, of flights to the popular destination of Bangkok was the first route outside of the GCC to start operations with a double daily service. Across the network, flydubai reported the following passenger flows:

  • GCC & Middle East: flydubai carried 28% of all traffic between Dubai and the GCC and Middle East.
  • Europe: passenger numbers in Europe grew by 19%.
  • Russia: with 21 flights per week across 7 destinations passenger numbers increased by 3%.
  • Ukraine: overall flydubai passenger numbers on flights between Ukraine and Dubai increased by 26%.
  • Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan): its 5 points across the region saw flydubai contribute 23% of the total growth at Dubai airports.
  • Subcontinent: passenger numbers on the flydubai network grew by 22%.
  • Africa: passenger numbers from its 11 points grew by 3% and contributed 12% of the total growth at Dubai airports.

Al Maktoum International (DWC): flydubai has been operating from DWC since October 2015. With its two gateways, flydubai will continue to gradually increase its operations at DWC based on the further expansion of the airport.

Staff numbers: flydubai continued to grow its experienced team with a total of 3,773 staff including 746 pilots, 1,618 cabin crew and 282 engineers.

OPEN: flydubai launched its simple and straightforward rewards programme on 25 October 2016 and has been well received in the market.

Key Operating Figures (see the multimedia content bellow)

FZ981: following the tragic loss of FZ981 on 19 March 2016, flydubai remains focused on supporting the families who lost their loved ones. In addition to providing initial financial assistance payments and interim financial assistance payments, our Long Term Care Team continues to be available to the bereaved families who are our primary concern. Plans are being put in place for a memorial to mark the first year anniversary.

Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai, said: “flydubai continues, through its accredited representative, to support the investigation into the tragic accident. Our Long Term Family Assistance team continues to be available for all the families.”

Outlook

During 2017, flydubai will be the first airline in the Middle East to receive the new model Boeing 737 MAX 8 and the first of these aircraft will enter into service in the second half of the year. The overall capacity will not grow during 2017, as short term capacity needs are adjusted, due to the ongoing challenging operating environment. Since launch, one of the principles of flydubai’s fleet planning strategy was to maintain a young fleet. Under these plans, the airline will see the eight-year lease term expire for 4 Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 and during the year these aircraft will be retired from the fleet.

Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai, looking to the year ahead, said: “we will remain prudent throughout 2017 as we will continue to operate in a challenging socioeconomic environment. Yields will remain under pressure and we expect to report flat growth in the year ahead. We are looking forward to receiving the first Boeing 737 MAX 8 in the region which will bring further fuel and operating efficiency to our young modern fleet. We are focused on our strategy to lead in innovation, to provide an unrivalled experience on board and on the ground, as we continue to meet the travel demands of our passengers.”

Dubai-based flydubai  strives to remove barriers to travel and enhance connectivity between different cultures across its ever-expanding network. Since launching its operations in 2009, flydubai has:
•    Created a network of more than 85 destinations in 43 countries.
•    Operates a single fleet type of 57 Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft and will take delivery of more than 100 aircraft by the end of 2023.
•    Opened up 57 new routes that did not previously have direct air links to Dubai or were not served by a UAE national carrier from Dubai.

In addition, flydubai’s agility and flexibility as a young airline has enhanced Dubai’s economic development, in line with the Government of Dubai’s vision, by creating trade and tourism flows in previously underserved markets

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UAE research programme for rain enhancement science to award grants for research proposals
January 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Research programme for rain enhancement science is to award the most innovative research proposals for rain enhancement science during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability week at a ceremony to be held at the Abu Dhabi national exhibition centre on 17 January, 2017, according to a team spokesperson.

It is reported that the programme  is one of the world’s forefront leaders in finding solutions and innovations for water security challenges.

Organisers  of the event say that with a projected total global population increase of three billion over the next three decades which will severely pressure the limited supplies of fresh water, countries are leading research to find technologies that will offer a viable, cost-effective supplement to existing water supplies.

“The programme  is the first of its kind that aims to build feasible alternatives in arid and semi-arid regions that will serve future generations through international cooperation in science and technology,” according to organisers.

The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, an initiative of the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs and overseen by the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), offers a grant of 5 million US dollars over a three-year period to be shared by up to five winning research proposals. The programme  was launched with the aims of addressing water security challenges and placing the UAE at the international forefront of scientific research into rain enhancement.

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EU SIGNS MIGRANT RETURN DEAL WITH MALI, FIRST OF ITS KIND IN AFRICA
December 13, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY *

Migrants from Mali sit in a canteen outside the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, September 20. The EU has signed a deal with Mali to expedite the return of failed asylum seekers from the North African country. LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/GETTY

Migrants from Mali sit in a canteen outside the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, September 20. The EU has signed a deal with Mali to expedite the return of failed asylum seekers from the North African country.
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/GETTY

Malian and European officials signed a deal Sunday to expedite the return of migrants to the North African country.

The Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders traveled on behalf of the EU to the Malian capital Bamako for discussions with his counterpart Abdoulaye Diop. The deal includes a total of nine projects—six focused on curbing irregular migration from Mali and three from the wider region—with a total budget of 145.1 million euros ($154 million), according to a statement issued by the Dutch foreign ministry.

Irregular migration to Europe by Africans has climbed in 2016, as the number of migrants using the Central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy has increased by 13 percent, the EU border agency Frontex said in November. Nigerians and Eritreans constitute the two largest countries of origin for migrants, but more than 10,000 Malian migrants have illegally entered Europe since the start of 2015, according to Frontex.

The deal is the first time the EU has established “such a precise mechanism with an African country with regards to returning failed asylum seekers,” the Dutch foreign ministry said, according to AFP.

Mali is still recovering from a 2012 insurgency that saw Al-Qaeda-linked groups and ethnic Tuareg rebels seize control of the north of the country. A French counter-insurgency operation returned the region to Malian government controlin 2013, but it remains subject to militant attacks. Mali is also part of the wider Sahel region, a vast arid belt stretching across Africa where 41 million young people are at risk of being forced into migrating or joining radical groups, the United Nations’ Sahel envoy Hiroute Guebre Sellassie said in November 2015.

The deal will see Malian civil servants traveling to Europe to identify migrants who have had their asylum requests rejected. The two parties will also work to create jobs for young Malians, while Malian authorities are planning to issue identity cards and biometric passports to help track attempted migrants.

The agreement comes on the back of the Valletta Summit, a high-level meeting between EU and African leaders that took place in Malta in November 2015. The summit resulted in the establishment of an Emergency Trust Fund for Africa aimed at tackling the root causes of irregular migration, to which the EU pledged 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion). The EU-Mali deal will be presented in Brussels on Monday.

The EU has proposed partnerships with four other African countries—Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal—in a bid to cut the flow of migrants arriving in Italy. The bloc aims to have the deals ready by 2017, and has stated it will “apply the necessary leverage” in order to secure them—an apparent threat to cut foreign aid to African countries unless they cooperate in reducing irregular migration.

*NEWSWEEK

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Sahel countries in race against time to regreen Africa’s spreading desert
November 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

To reverse the impact of decades of overgrazing and deforestation, around 10 million hectares will need to be restored each year

By Alex Whiting*

ggw-sahelROME, Nov 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The areas surrounding the Sahara desert which decades ago were covered with forests, crops and grasslands, can be restored – a significant chunk of them by 2030 – agriculture experts said after viewing the results of a detailed survey of the region.

For the first time, the Sahel area straddling 27 countries has been mapped in painstaking detail showing where and how the work can be done – and just how big the job is to create what is called Africa’s Great Green Wall.

Home to some 232 million people, it stretches coast to coast, from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east, and along Africa’s northern shores.

Some 166 million hectares of land have been identified for restoration in the survey – nearly three times the size of Kenya or France.

To halt and reverse the impact of decades of overgrazing and deforestation, around 10 million hectares will need to be restored each year, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which published the map.

“It’s a battle against time, because dryland forests are disappearing and climate change is really happening – and more droughts and floods will not make the work easy,” said Nora Berrahmouni, forestry officer for drylands at FAO.

“People need to work hard and quickly to make sure that land is restored and becomes more productive, and supports livelihoods,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Some 60 million Africans could be forced to leave their homes within five years as their land turns to desert, while two thirds of the continent’s arable land could be lost by 2025 due to growing desertification, according to the United Nations.

The region’s governments, researchers and NGOs are ready to roll up their sleeves and do the work, but they need the finances and technical expertise, FAO said.

Critics of the project, however, say it is a top-down approach to development, dependant on external funding and management. And communities in some areas are not yet on board.

GREENING THE DESERT

FAO is already working with local communities to try and reverse land degradation in Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Gambia, Ethiopia and Senegal.

Villagers are trained in how to choose and collect seeds, sow them, and prepare the land.

Trees and crops planted together helps the land regain its fertility, and makes it more resistant to drought.

“We are combining traditional techniques to harvest water during the rainy season – but we are also using tractors and mechanical ploughs so we can implement the work faster and cover bigger areas,” Berrahmouni said.

Restoration is also about improving community incomes from the land, she said.

Growing a variety of plants helps communities withstand drought, by giving them a wide range of products and services to use themselves and to sell – wood, fruits and other foods, medicinal plants, and fodder for livestock.

In Senegal, communities are also encouraging back wildlife and setting up nature reserves to attract tourists, Berrahmouni said.

The Great Green Wall project was launched by the African Union in 2007 to combat desertification. The initiative now plans to re-survey the region every two years to track progress.

*Reuters

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FIRST AFRICAN PASSPORTS GO TO PRESIDENTS OF RWANDA AND CHAD
July 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

The African Union wants to roll out the continental passport to millions of Africans.

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Terrorism overshadows internal conflicts As African countries scramble for solutions
May 31, 2016 | 0 Comments
A guest is checked with a metal detector at the entrance of a hotel in Yaounde, Cameroon. Photo: Panapress/Jean-Pierre Kepseu

YAOUNDE – SEPTEMBER 11: A customer is checked with a metal detector a the entrance of La Falaise Hotel on September 11, 2015 in Yaounde, Cameroon. Since the kamikazz attacks which killed several people in the extreme North region, the security measures strengthened as much in state services as private firms. (Photo Jean-Pierre Kepseu / Panapress) 

Is terrorism becoming the dominant mode of conflict in Africa? This is a question many are asking following the recent surge in terror attacks across Africa. Since January about a dozen African countries, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, CÔte d’ivoire and Somalia, have suffered terror attacks in which thousands of civilians have been killed.

The attacks at the beginning of the year in Burkina Faso, in which 30 people died, reveal a new pattern in that the attackers — without any apparent base or network of support in the country, and with no clear strategic local goals — came from elsewhere and targeted distinct tourist attractions with no known connection to either government or the military.

The groups perpetrating these attacks are embryonic: their only definable characteristic is that they profess extremist Islamic tendencies. For this reason they respect neither political nor geographical boundaries; and, except perhaps for Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, the attackers do not articulate clear local political goals.

From what societal wellspring does this deadly militancy arise? And how is Africa tackling it?

Now a key security threat

In the 1990s, terror attacks in Africa were somewhat episodic and limited to relatively well-defined local contexts (in Algeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda, for example). But now the emergence of groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria (with its regional reach), and the spread of Somalia’s Al-Shabaab attacks into Kenya and Uganda, have made terrorism a key security threat in Africa.

According to research by veteran African security analyst Jakkie Cilliers, head of the Institute of Security Studies, about 37% of the 39,286 violence-related fatalities recorded in Africa in 2014 occurred in Nigeria, mainly as a result of attacks by Boko Haram. This is followed closely by the percentage of such fatalities related to attacks by Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

In 2014, for example, Boko Haram killed 6,664 people — mostly civilians — in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, not to mention the kidnapping of hundreds of people, including the 250 girl students of Chibok over a year ago. That’s more than the 6,073 deaths attributed to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In all, Boko Haram has killed more than 15,000 people and displaced more than 2.1 million Nigerians since it began its extremist activities a few years ago. Mr. Cilliers’s research shows that largely due to terrorist activities, armed-conflict incidents in Africa rose from 40% of the global total in 2013 to 52% in 2014. This is despite the fact that Africa has barely 16% of the world’s population.

Africa currently hosts several terrorist groups that are affiliated with or influenced by Al-Qaeda. They operate across the vast expanse of the Sahel in Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria, as well as in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Somalia, Mali and Kenya.

The deadly attacks on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, on 20 November 2015, which killed 22 people, including two attackers, and an eerily similar attack on the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, on 15 January this year, which killed 30, have been claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

African armies fight back

Nigeria has spent billions of dollars and dedicated tens of thousands of troops to fight Boko Haram, as have other African countries, with significant outside support. These efforts have blunted the power of these groups. Since the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria in March 2015, Boko Haram appears to have been pushed out of large swaths of territory it once occupied—but the militants remain active in Nigeria and surrounding countries.

In eastern Africa powerful armies from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda are confronting Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya. The presence of regional troops operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has prevented Al-Shabaab from taking over the country. Except for the failed bombing of a Daallo Airlines flight departing Mogadishu earlier this year, the group has lately been unable to carry out any serious attacks on the neighbouring countries.

Who is a terrorist?

Within the African Union, discussions about what constitutes a terrorist group are highly contentious. Countries in western and eastern Africa that are directly affected by such attacks are more ready to label militant groups as terrorists; southern African countries whose liberation struggles against white domination were routinely described as terrorist are invariably wary of the term. After all, they argue, even Nelson Mandela was once described by major Western powers as a terrorist.

As a result the African Union has adopted a fairly convoluted definition of terrorism, describing it merely by implication. Armed struggles waged by people in accordance with “the principles of international law for their liberation or self-determination, including armed struggle against colonialism, occupation, aggression and domination by foreign forces” shall not be considered as terrorism, it states. The burden is therefore to determine the causes, determinants and course of each violent action or manifestation of extremism.

Some experts assert that some terrorist acts are due to some unresolved local issues. Most of the attacks may be terroristic, but are the militants therefore terrorist groups by the oblique definition of the African Union? These experts believe it might be better to isolate each group’s distinct social roots — what it draws upon and what makes it persist amid the powerful forces ranged against it.

Boko Haram started as a local rebellion in northern Nigeria and for many years remained so. It has roots in the widespread resentment of economic and social dereliction and official neglect in the largely impoverished northern half of Nigeria. The election of Mr. Buhari, a northerner, has undermined the group’s appeal, which is partly why it has lost territory.

Counterstrokes

In West Africa the recent reorganization of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) by Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin to tackle Boko Haram offered immense hope in many quarters. The force was set up in 1994 by the Nigerian government to “checkmate banditry activities and to facilitate free movement” along its northern border. But an early setback for the force came in January 2015, when Boko Haram fighters overran its headquarters at Baga, Nigeria. After that the MNJTF headquarters was moved to N’Djamena, Chad, and troops were increased.

A new concept of operations, under the supervision of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, was also recently agreed upon, and in October 2015 the United States deployed 300 Special Forces personnel to Cameroon to help in the surveillance of Boko Haram and to support the MNJTF. News reports also suggest that US president Barack Obama might be considering increasing counterinsurgency activities against the Islamic State in Libya.

Meanwhile the UN Security Council continues its support for AMISOM as well as for the African-dominated UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)—both of them combating militant activities. Militant attacks, including against peacekeepers, continue in both countries.

Security Council resolution 2231 of July 2015 urged the African Union to undertake “a structured and targeted reconfiguration of AMISOM to boost its efficiency, in particular by strengthening command and control structures, and enhancing cross-sector operations.”

All that notwithstanding, the 12 November 2015 UN report on the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel paints a grim picture, noting that “terrorist groups have intensified asymmetric attacks in the north and have even moved southwards with attacks in the centre too, including in the Malian capital, Bamako, at the border with Burkina Faso and Mauritania, as well as in the south at the border region with Côte d’Ivoire.”

Despite an increase in terrorist activities, many believe that Africa should still celebrate the end of major wars—in Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and elsewhere. The efforts by African governments and their armies, with international support, to defeat terrorism should ensure the important achievement of ending many wars is not undercut.

*Courtesy of Africa Renewal

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Carlos Lopes: To industrialise, Africa needs strong but smart states
May 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

“Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas…Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.”

by *

Credit: UNECA.

Credit: UNECA.

African Arguments caught up with the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Director to talk about economic transformation, what’s holding the continent back, and whether leaders will really take action in the wake of the #PanamaPapers.

In a lot of your work, you emphasise the need for Africa to undergo ‘structural transformation’. What does this mean, and why is industrialisation so important to it?

There is a whole literature about structural transformation, but in practical terms right now in Africa it means moving to higher productivity sectors. We see this happening in three particular areas. Firstly, there’s agricultural productivity, which is at its lowest in Africa yet offers incredible potential for minimising poverty and contributing to industrialisation through agro-processing. Secondly, there’s manufacturing, which requires policies that mimic part of the experience of successful industrialisation processes of the past but are much more adapted to African characteristics. And thirdly, there’s the service sector, which needs to become more integrated into the formal economy.

Industrialisation plays a critical role because it’s more than just the production of processed goods or value addition from natural resources. It’s also an enabler for a rising society and, being a latecomer, Africa can learn from the experiences of others and adjust. For Africa, issues such as the environment, for instance, can be tackled up front.

There are varying verdicts as to how African industrialisation is faring. Some emphasise that manufacturing as a share of Africa’s GDP has almost halved from its 20% level in 1970. But others highlight that manufacturing is increasing at 3.5% a year, faster than the global average. What’s your take?

If you measure it by manufacturing value added, which is the common preferred indicator, then yes it is true that in percentage GDP terms, African manufacturing is stagnating if not falling. But African economies have doubled in the last 15 years, so even if you maintain the same percentage it means a lot more industry has come on board. Moreover, this also doesn’t take into account a number of activities that we can consider industrial but aren’t counted in statistics because of delays in updating national accounts.

Our take is that industrialisation is increasing significantly in some countries, though not across the entire continent, and that we need to accelerate and aggressively.

What’s holding African industrialisation back? Is it insufficient infrastructure? Lack of imagination amongst policymakers? Trade treaties that constrain what governments are able to do?

It’s all of those but the important question is which of those comes first. I think the capacity for comprehensiveness that comes with an industrial policy is what is the most important, because if you tackle the issue from just a specific sector or enabler or dimension, you are never going to get your act together.

The countries that really move and industrialise always have the same recipe: a very strong state hand, but a state that is very smart, a state that is capable of introducing smart protectionism because crude protectionism is no longer available, a state that is capable of identifying the critical enablers like infrastructure, and a state that knows how to fund its policies whether through domestic resource mobilisation or astute borrowing.

In a recent ECA report, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Bilateral Investment Treaties and Economic Partnership Agreements are painted as significant barriers to African industrialisation. Do these agreements just need tweaking or are they inherently detrimental for Africa?

I think African countries have embarked on signing stuff they shouldn’t sign, but too bad for them. The WTO is a consensus-based mechanism that would allow for stalling, so if Africans don’t get their act together to stall the things that are bad for them, then that’s an African problem not a WTO problem.

I think Africans have not negotiated well in a number of areas. They are not taking advantage of space they already have. And Africans are also distracted by negotiating bilateral trade agreements before they finalise their own. Who’s fault is it? It’s Africa’s problem and they need to address it.

Given enormous global power imbalances, do you think it’s enough for African policymakers to just be slightly smarter and more imaginative under the current system, or do you think there needs to be more fundamental change too?

The moral and political dimension I leave for the media, NGOs, and civil society, though we should certainly give them ammunition so their claims are evidence-based. Where we can really make a difference is in deconstructing some untruths that have long been masquerading as truths. That’s why we’ve been plunging into legislative issues, contract negotiations, and investment and trade treaties to try and have a more informed discussion. We think a lot of space exists in these that Africans are not using. After all, countries that are good negotiators do get a better deal.

In terms of untruths, take this race to the bottom towards zero tax for investors for an example. Does it attract more investors in relation to potential competitors? No. Typically countries that are well organised and structured and that offer investors a package of incentives that are not tax-based are more attractive than ones offering tax incentives.

When it comes to illicit financial flows, through which $50 billion leaves Africa each year according to an ECA report, do you think leaders will seize this moment after the #PanamaPapers to implement real reforms?

There are various dimensions to the debate, but because of Mossack Fonseca we are currently focusing on one dimension: namely tax jurisdictions and how multinationals are taking advantage of different loopholes to move from one jurisdiction to another in order not to pay tax.

Another dimension, however, is the competition amongst financial centres. The City of London, for example, doesn’t want to lose its prominence as one of the leading financial centres of the world. This means that they have to stay ahead of competitors and protect a certain number of very complex legislative dimensions that will appear from a regulatory point of view to be very strong and powerful, but at the same time be lenient where they know competitors could have an edge.

There is certainly now a strong public push for regulators to put a bit of order to things. And I don’t think the rhetoric is hypocritical, but how far they will go and how much political leaders will embrace actual change is another matter.

*Source African Arguments.James Wan is the editor of African Arguments. He tweets at @jamesjwan.

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Afrique Telecom, Eutelsat and Wikimédia France to offer free access to French-language Wikipedia in Africa
December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Afrique Telecom, Eutelsat and Wikimédia France combine skills in large-scale initiative to extend free access to French-language Wikipedia in Sub-Saharan Africa via Wi-Fi hotspots [caption id="attachment_22790" align="alignleft" width="300"]The partners :From left to right : Michel AZIBERT - Eutelsat, Nathalie MARTIN - Wikimedia Foundation, Philippe TINTIGNAC - Afrique Telecom The partners :From left to right : Michel AZIBERT – Eutelsat, Nathalie MARTIN – Wikimedia Foundation, Philippe TINTIGNAC – Afrique Telecom[/caption] Afrique Telecom  is progressively deploying Internet solutions over Sub-Saharan Africa in combination with Eutelsat’s satellite capacity. Its “TamTam” service extends access to the Internet in rural areas using Wi-Fi hotspots for collective access. In a new step announced today, “TamTam” will be used to offer free access to French-language Wikipedia content for many thousands of users. This initiative, starting in French-speaking Africa, supports Wikimédia France’s strategy to promote free access to educational content, in particular through Wikipedia. In order to offer free, unlimited access, Afrique Telecom has developed a server located at “TamTam” hotspots that will locally host French-language Wikipedia content. The content will be updated regularly via a satellite link provided by Eutelsat. A major pilot project Afrique Telecom’s ambition is to roll-out “TamTam” to between 4000 and 8000 hotspots in the next two years. Eutelsat has agreed to finance servers hosted by the first 1,000 hotspots as a springboard that will also measure the impact of the service. The Wikimedia movement has made a priority of improving accessibility and content creation on Wikipedia for so-called “Southern” countries. There is still a large gap between Northern and Southern countries in terms of the number of readers and contributors to Wikimedia platforms as well as content on Southern countries. French-speaking Africa is a priority action area for the Wikimédia France Foundation, as a complement to its Afripédia project. Wikimédia France, an association for free knowledge-sharing, was founded in 2004 to promote and support all projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation in France. Wikimédia France does not produce or host any Wikimedia Foundation projects, but strives to enrich them and raise their profile through its members’ support of its actions. Founded in 2005, Afrique Telecom (NYSE Euronext Paris: MLAFT, ISIN code: FR0011233659)  is an innovative telecommunications service operator offering economic models of satellite-based connectivity solutions that are unique on the market. The expertise of Afrique Telecom’s development teams is acknowledged in Africa for their work to reduce the digital divide on the continent. With more than 4000 stations in operation, Afrique Telecom is one of the leading players in satellite-based connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Established in 1977, Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL, ISIN code: FR0010221234) is one of the world’s leading and most experienced operators of communications satellites. The company provides capacity on 38 satellites to clients that include broadcasters and broadcasting associations, pay-TV operators, video, data and Internet service providers, enterprises and government agencies. Eutelsat’s satellites provide ubiquitous coverage of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas, enabling video, data, broadband and government communications to be established irrespective of a user’s location. Headquartered in Paris, with offices and teleports around the globe, Eutelsat represents a workforce of 1,000 men and women from 37 countries who are experts in their fields and work with clients to deliver the highest quality of service. *APO]]>

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Tunisian democracy group wins Nobel Peace Prize
October 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

By MARK LEWIS and KARL RITTER* [caption id="attachment_21341" align="alignleft" width="300"]President of the Tunisian employers union Wided Bouchamaoui, Secretary General of the Tunisian General Labour Union, Houcine Abassi, President of the Tunisian Human Rights League Abdessattar ben Moussa and the president of the National Bar Association, Mohamed Fadhel Mahmoud (L-R), arrive for a news conference in Tunis, in this September 21, 2013 file photo. Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its contribution to building democracy after the Jasmine Revolution in 2011, the Nobel Committee announced on October 9, 2015. The National Dialogue Quartet is formed by four organizations of Tunisian civil society, the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League, and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers. REUTERS/Anis Mili/Files President of the Tunisian employers union Wided Bouchamaoui, Secretary General of the Tunisian General Labour Union, Houcine Abassi, President of the Tunisian Human Rights League Abdessattar ben Moussa and the president of the National Bar Association, Mohamed Fadhel Mahmoud (L-R), arrive for a news conference in Tunis, in this September 21, 2013 file photo. Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its contribution to building democracy after the Jasmine Revolution in 2011, the Nobel Committee announced on October 9, 2015. The National Dialogue Quartet is formed by four organizations of Tunisian civil society, the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League, and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers. REUTERS/Anis Mili/Files[/caption] OSLO, Norway (AP) — A Tunisian coalition of workers, employers, human rights activists and lawyers won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for pulling the country that sparked the Arab Spring back onto a path toward democracy and preventing it from descending into civil war.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet “for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy” in the North African country following its 2011 revolution.

“It established an alternative, peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war,” the committee said in its citation.

The prize is a huge victory for small Tunisia, whose young and still shaky democracy suffered two extremist attacks this year that killed 60 people and devastated the tourism industry.

Tunisian protesters sparked uprisings across the Arab world in 2011 that overthrew dictators and upset the status quo. But it is the only country in the region to painstakingly build a democracy, involving a range of political and social forces in dialogue to create a constitution, legislature and democratic institutions.

“More than anything, the prize is intended as an encouragement to the Tunisian people, who despite major challenges have laid the groundwork for a national fraternity which the committee hopes will serve as an example to be followed by other countries,” Nobel Peace Prize Committee Chairwoman Kaci Kullmann Five said.

The National Dialogue Quartet is made up of four key organizations in Tunisian civil society: the Tunisian General Labour Union; the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts; the Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers, which is the country’s bar association.

Kullmann Five said the 8 million Swedish kronor ($960,000) prize was for the quartet as a whole, not the four individual organizations. It wasn’t immediately clear who would accept the award on behalf of the quartet at the Dec. 10 award ceremony. The Nobel committee said the quartet played a key role as a mediator and force for democracy, paving the way for a peaceful dialogue among citizens, political parties and authorities across political and religious divides, countering the spread of violence.

It was formed after the July 2013 assassination of left-wing politician Mohammed Brahmi plunged the country into crisis with opposition parties boycotting the parliament. A national dialogue led by the quartet succeeded in negotiating a transition from the elected Islamist-led government to an interim government of technocrats tasked with organizing new elections for a permanent government.

The dialogue nearly broke down several times but ultimately succeeded and has been held up as a stark contrast to the coup in Egypt that removed the elected Islamist government there during the summer of 2013.

Nobel officials said they didn’t manage to speak to any representatives of the quartet before the announcement.

Houcine Abassi, the leader of the Tunisian General Labour Union, said he was “overwhelmed” as he found out about the award from an Associated Press reporter.

“It’s a prize that crowns more than two years of efforts deployed by the quartet when the country was in danger on all fronts,” he said.

[caption id="attachment_21342" align="alignright" width="300"]Kaci Kullmann Five, the new head of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee, announces the winner of 2015 Nobel peace prize during a press conference in Oslo, Norway, Friday Oct. 9, 2015. The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Friday that the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. (Heiko Junge/NTB scanpix via AP) NORWAY OUT Kaci Kullmann Five, the new head of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee, announces the winner of 2015 Nobel peace prize during a press conference in Oslo, Norway, Friday Oct. 9, 2015. The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Friday that the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. (Heiko Junge/NTB scanpix via AP) NORWAY OUT[/caption]

Abassi said he hopes the award will help “unite Tunisians to face the challenges presenting themselves now — first and foremost, the danger of terrorism.”

Mohammed Fadhel Mafoudh, head of the Tunisian Order of Lawyers, called the Nobel Peace Prize a message to all parties embroiled in political conflicts.

“To tell them that everything can be settled with dialogue and all can be settled in a climate of peace, and that the language of weapons leads us nowhere,” he said.

Tunisian broadcast media interrupted coverage to excitedly announce the prize, and social media exploded with celebratory commentary.

The decision came as a surprise to many, with speculation having focused on Europe’s migrant crisis or the Iran-U.S. nuclear deal in July.

“It is a very good prize that tries to get into the heart of the conflict in the Muslim world,” said Oeyvind Stenersen, a Nobel historian. “But it was a bit bewildering. It was very unexpected.”

French President Francois Hollande said he was “happy for all the Tunisians” and added the prize marks the success of the former French colony’s transition to democracy.

“That is an encouragement to support Tunisia even more through all the hard times it faces, as we’ve seen with terrorist acts in the last weeks and months,” Hollande told reporters in Paris.

The prize comes the day after unidentified assailants shot repeatedly at a lawmaker and prominent sports magnate in Sousse, underscoring a sense of uncertainty in the Tunisian city, which depends heavily on tourism.

While Tunisia has been much less violent than neighboring Libya or Syria, its transition to democracy has been marred by occasional violence, notably from Islamic extremists.

An attack in June on a beach resort in Sousse left 38 dead, mostly British tourists. Another in March killed 22 people, again mostly tourists, at the country’s leading museum, the Bardo in Tunis.

The uprising in Tunisia, provoked by high unemployment, corruption, dashed expectations and decades of repression by brutal security services, was set off on Dec. 17, 2010, when an itinerant fruit vendor set himself on fire in a remote southern city after he was manhandled by police.

The revolution electrified the Arab world, and in rapid succession pro-democracy demonstrations broke out across the region, ultimately bringing down the rulers of Egypt and Libya and plunging Syria into civil war.

The Nobel committee noted that in many of those countries the pro-democracy struggle has come to a standstill.

“But Tunisia has proven that it is possible, if you put aside your own first interests and think of the interests of the people and the nation,” Kullman Five told the AP. “We hope we will contribute to safeguarding democracy in Tunisia and those who seek to promote peace in the Middle East and North Africa.”

The award capped a week of Nobel Prize announcements, with the winners of the medicine, physics, chemistry and literature awards presented earlier in Stockholm.

The economics award — not an original Nobel Prize but created in 1968 — will be announced on Monday.

*Source AP/Yahoo

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11th AFRICAN GAMES – BRAZZAVILLE, REPUBLIC OF CONGO, 04-19 September, 2015
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

newsletter-special-brazzaville-2015-englishThe 11th Edition of the African Games is scheduled to take place on 4th to 19th September, 2015, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. This edition will mark the 50th Anniversary of the African Games, since the 1st edition in 1965 that was also hosted by the Republic of Congo. Approximately 7000 athletes from 50 African countries will converge back to the birth place of the African Games in Brazzaville to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the African Union in the spirit of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.

This edition is also a milestone for the AU as it is the first one under the auspices of the African Union as the owner of the Games, following the dissolution of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) as well as the integration of the functions of the SCSA into the AU. The integrated functions of the SCSA include the ownership, coordination and organization of the African Games.

The opening ceremony will take place on 4th September, 2015, and will be presided over by H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, and attended by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, H.E. Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs and H.E. Martial de Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology. The African Games will be preceded by the Bureau Meeting of the Specialized Technical Committees on Youth, Culture and Sport and a Sub-Committee of the STC Ministers of Sport on 3th September, 2015.

During the games, the AU will rally the continent around the spirit of Pan-Africanism through its key message i.e. “I am African, I am the African Union” and through its 50 year Agenda 2063 development framework. Agenda 2063″ is an approach to how the continent should effectively learn from the lessons of the past, build on the progress now underway and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in the immediate and medium term, so as to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years. The agenda will assist the continent achieve its vision, i.e. an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.

“Because of the power of sport, we see this event as an important milestone on the road to achieving the objectives of our continental vision and action plan, which Africa has christened Agenda 2063: the Africa We Want”, said AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

SOURCE African Union Commission (AUC)

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