Kenya: Hundreds At Burial of Embu Woman Who Failed to Resurrect
April 3, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Charles Wanyoro*
Hundreds of mourners in Embu Saturday attended the burial of a 38-year old musician whose husband caused a stir after storming a local mortuary to pray for her resurrection.
Tens of clergymen who attended the burial at Rwika Village defended the actions of Apostle Robinson Karumba, saying it was a demonstration of faith among believers.
The clergyman had on Wednesday stormed Gakwegori Funeral Home accompanied by seven members of Eagle Winners Prophetic Ministry and spent over three hours praying for her resurrection.
Rev Karumba had clung on to hope that his wife would rise from the dead and Saturday would merely be a thanksgiving ceremony.
However, Bishop Ben Mwendandu, who led the requiem mass for Ms Pollyrose Ng’endo, said miracles still happen in this age depending on the will of God.
Most of the villagers were eager to see whether the family would make a last attempt at the resurrection bid or they would resign to fate and finally lay her to rest.
“Someone asked me why we exercise our faith by praying for the dead yet the dead don’t rise. I always tell them that we are behind a screen, only God decides.
Bishop Mwendandu also blamed the failed prayers on the worshipers’ lack of discretion.
Earlier on, journalists filming the proceedings were forced to leave the function with majority of speakers claiming the media wanted to embarrass them.
Pastor Karumba’s mother broke into angry shouts demanding that the journalists leave the family to bury their daughter and not report the proceedings of the burial ceremony.
Bishop David Mutwiri said many people have doubts on the ability of modern day clergy due to the proliferation of false preachers who are only after making wealth.
“When we pray for someone and they don’t resurrect, we should not despair.
“We have always prayed for many things and some don’t happen. Does it mean that God doesn’t exist?
“Not all prayers are answered. The problem is that people are no longer praying for the right things, only for wealth such as livestock,” said the head of Perazim Mission Centre.
The body was finally interred shortly after 5pm.
Africa: Opio – the Ugandan Writing Jokes for Trevor Noah and the Daily Show
April 3, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Daniel K. Kalinaki*
Joseph Opio has always been serious about comedy. So serious, in fact, that he walked away from a promising newspaper job in Kampala, borrowed a large sum of money, and went to America to try and make people laugh.
Some people end up in comedy the way a drunkard stumbles into a previously unknown tavern on his way home. Others linger in comedy, waiting for an opportunity to move on to acting or a proper job. For Opio, comedy was the journey and the destination.
We meet in a small busy restaurant in mid-town Manhattan after a live recording of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Opio’s fortunes are closely hitched to the South Africa-born comedian’s wagon but he has laced his bootstraps himself.
The making of Opio
He had been one of the best A-Level students in Uganda and, after reading a law degree Opio had landed a job with a major audit firm in Kampala. But the life of stuffy suits did not sound appealing and he had been drawn to comedy in his early teens when he watched Bernie Mac and ‘The Original Kings of Comedy’.
He had dabbled in sports journalism at the New Vision newspaper in Kampala where he landed a sub-editing job at 17 while still a student, but the newspaper world, away from the sports pages, was full of grim news stories.
“Instead of complaining I decided to vent using comedy,” says Opio. The result was a comedy show, LOL Uganda, on Urban TV, a small station in Kampala, which Opio wrote, edited, directed, produced and presented.
Although only in his 20s and despite the show being only mildly popular on a small, start-up station, Opio quickly became, he says, the highest-paid television presenter in the country.
But it was not enough.
“Most people want to be the biggest fish in the small pond,” he says, “and the problem with [many] Ugandans is thinking small.”
His first big break
Opio’s first break came during a visit to South Africa to attend a reception for the Late Night Show comedy. He met the right people and made such an impression with his jokes during the chitchat that he was invited back to work on the South African comedy circuit. Within a month of moving to South Africa he had become the first foreigner to win the Nando’s Showdown, a stand-up comedy face-off in Johannesburg.
Opio was tempted to lay down roots and try to make a comedy career in Johannesburg but he learnt that the SA show he had written some jokes for on his earlier visit had been nominated for an international Emmy and its host, Trevor Noah, had moved to America to try his luck on a bigger stage.
Coming to America
Never short of confidence, Opio returned to Uganda, worked on a screenplay, looked for money and applied for a visa to America. Soon after, armed with a fistful of borrowed dollars and a suitcase of dreams, Opio landed in New York.
They had never met but Noah had heard about Opio in the SA comedy circuit and they hit it off immediately, chatting from 8pm to 3am.
A few months later, Noah was handed The Daily Show, replacing Jon Stewart. Although Noah had, by that time, spent six years playing the stand-up circuit in America, it was a gamble by Comedy Central to put a foreign comedian with a distinctive accent (and who speaks six languages) in one of the most coveted late-night TV seats.
To add to the complexity, Noah decided to give the show a more global appeal, embracing diversity and bringing in writers who knew about American issues, but also about the world. Opio was hired as one of the writers.
What it is means for Opio
His impact was almost immediate, lampooning Donald Trump, then a long shot in the Republican primaries, as potentially America’s first African president in the mould of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin – but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
Nightly ratings dropped as American audiences struggled to come to terms with the exotic humour and accents on the show. Fortuitously, Trump would become the gift that kept on giving and as he gained momentum in the presidential race, so did the show in the nightly ratings.
It has more non-white viewers and its overall viewership has become younger and more diverse, as it spreads out across platforms and geographical boundaries.
As the show rises, so have Opio’s fortunes; he paid off the loan within weeks of being hired and he describes living in Manhattan, where he rents an apartment, as “mind-blowing”.
We find a tiny table in the crowded restaurant and Opio orders a cappuccino. I order a draught beer. It is a popular pit stop for the workers on the show including Noah (he doesn’t show this evening) and Opio points out some of his fellow writers.
“Everyone at work has an Emmy,” he says, looking around the dimly-lit bar.
“Except the new guys.” It can only be a matter of time.
New developments and the future
Opio and his fellow writers on The Daily Show have been nominated for the 68th annual Writer’s Guild of America awards next month in the comedy category. Just joining the Guild is an achievement in itself, Opio says, pointing out that it has 300 members while the National Football League has 3,000 players.
“There is a higher statistical chance of joining the NFL than the Writer’s Guild.”
It is a long way from Kampala to Manhattan but Opio’s journey might still have some miles in it, from the east coast to Hollywood, with dreams of writing movies, screenplays and sitcoms. It is a journey with many stops and a constant loop of challenging oneself.
“That’s how you know that you are growing – when you look back at things you did a few months ago and you are embarrassed.”
Does he not worry about failing? About the career he turned his back to?
“If I can go and perform at the same club as Chris Rock and I am not laughed out of the place then I’ll take my chances,” he says. “If you are rejected at Barcelona you can always go back to Mamelodi Sundowns,” he adds in a football reference to the Spanish side and a smaller club in South Africa.
“My family has always been proud of me,” he adds suddenly, with introspection. “Being good in school helped, that’s probably why I have no self-doubt – it is something I’ve never had.”
He speaks a lot, and quickly, his mouth a wrestling arena between an American and a thick Ugandan accent. I ask if the Ugandan accent makes it easier for him to write jokes rather than perform them in stand-up comedy clubs.
“There are only two things Uganda has given me,” he says bursting out with laughter, “a bad accent and trouble at immigration…”
“Seriously though,” he adds, “As a Ugandan you have to fly just to get what an American gets by just walking. You already have an accent, so you have to make sense when you speak.”
I pick up the tab and we walk out into the crisp autumn night. We shake hands and I watch Opio as he walks towards the bright lights of mid-town Manhattan. It is not Fifth Avenue and there is no walking cane by his side but you can hear it in his accent when he talks; Joseph Opio is a Ugandan in New York. He’s hungry, ambitious and funny as hell.
Joseph Opio is a Ugandan now based in New York. He is the former host of the political satire talk show LOL Uganda since 2014.
Opio and his fellow writers on The Daily Show have been nominated for the 68th annual Writer’s Guild of America awards in February in the comedy category.
In November 2014, Opio met Noah at the Comedy Cellar in New York, a popular venue for comedians trying to get into the business.
Opio’s first break came during a visit to South Africa to attend a reception for the Late Night Show comedy.
Niger President Issoufou says will not seek third term
April 2, 2017 | 0 Comments
Niamey (AFP) – Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said Saturday that he would not amend the constitution to allow him to seek a third term after his second and final mandate ends in 2021.
“One of my greatest ambitions is to organise free and transparent elections in 2021 and pass the baton to another Nigerien whom the Nigeriens will have chosen,” the president said in an interview on state television on the occasion of the first anniversary of his inauguration for his second mandate on April 2, 2016.
The constitution of Niger limits the president to two terms of five years. Issoufou, 65, was re-elected in March last year following the end of his first term, albeit in elections boycotted by the opposition.
“Me, I am a democrat at heart (…) I don’t have the arrogance to think that I am an irreplaceable providential man,” the head of state said.
According to Issoufou “Niger needs strong democratic institutions,” and for this there needed to be alternations in power.
If he succeeds, he will be the first democratically elected president of of the vast west African country to ensure a peaceful transition of power to a new head of state.
His predecessor Mamadou Tandja was overthrown in 2010 by a military coup for having modified the constitution in order to remain in power at the end of his two legal five-year terms.
Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world but rich in uranium, has never experienced a real democratic transfer of power since its independence in 1960.
The democratic process begun in 1993 has often been interrupted by military coups.
In recent years, Niger has been hit by attacks from Boko Haram Islamists, whose insurgency has spilled over from neighbouring Nigeria, but despite its porous borders the country is an island of stability in a troubled area.
Besides Nigeria, neighbouring Mali and Libya are also battling jihadist groups.
Uganda: Another Kony Rebel Surrenders
April 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Julius Ocungi*
Gulu — A former senior signaller in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by elusive rebel leader Joseph Kony has defected from the rebel outfit to the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF).
Lt Michael Omona, 33, defected on January 20, from the jungles of Central African Republic (CAR) after spending 23 years in captivity.
He was airlifted to Gulu on Monday and welcomed by religious leaders led by Gulu Archbishop John Baptist Odama, security officials and cultural leaders amid ululation from relatives at Gulu Airfield.
Mr Omona joins two other former ex-LRA fighters; Sgt Peter Kidega, a former radio signaler and Julius Obira. They both surrendered to the UPDF in October last year and February last month respectively.
He was abducted by LRA rebels in 1994 at his ancestral home in Alero Sub-county in current day Nwoya District while still in Primary Five at Alero Primary School. According to Ugandan security officials, Mr Omona, a father of two, first surrendered to the Seleka rebels in Central African Republic before being handed over to the UPDF and American security agents in Obo. Speaking to Daily Monitor in an interview on Monday, Mr Omona said his plans of defection followed an order by Mr Kony, who summoned his group comprising 30 rebels, to meet him at an undisclosed venue in CAR.
“I want to thank my parents, religious and cultural leaders for the prayers. I want to thank God that I escaped and reached home safely because it wouldn’t have been possible without Him,” Mr Omona said.
Archbishop Odama applauded the UPDF and the American government for their efforts in bringing home ex-LRA fighters and urged those still in captivity to take the opportunity and surrender.
Lt Hassan Kato, the 4th Division infantry spokesperson, said the continued pressure UPDF has put on LRA remnants in the jungles of CAR has made life unbearable for Kony and his men.
“Kony can no longer administer his men and they are left with no option but to defect to UPDF,” Lt Kato said.
The LRA war that lasted for nearly two decades led to the displacement of more than 1.5 million people with tens of thousands losing their lives while women and children were abducted and turned into child soldiers and sex slaves.
Troika Backs IGAD On South Sudan
March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
The members of the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) reiterate their strong support for the combined efforts of the African Union (AU), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and United Nations to end the conflict in South Sudan, and join in their recent calls on all armed parties, including the Government of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition, and other armed groups, to commit to a ceasefire. The Troika welcomes the recent commitment by President Kiir to IGAD leaders to announce a unilateral ceasefire by government forces, and it calls upon him to ensure that his order is carried out immediately and in full effect.
The Troika underlines that the dire humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is the direct result of the conflict and demands that all parties cease violence against humanitarian workers and obstruction of humanitarian assistance. Military offensives and the obstruction of lifesaving assistance must stop immediately in order to end the suffering and severe food shortages inflicted upon millions across South Sudan.
The Troika reiterates that there is no military solution to this conflict and that a durable end to the conflict will require a political process involving all the principal parties. An inclusive national dialogue, deemed credible by the South Sudanese people, could provide a means to redress root causes of conflict and build a true national consensus. As President Kiir committed in announcing the planned national dialogue, it should supplement, and not replace, the core elements of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.
The Troika endorses the ongoing efforts of AU High Representative Alpha Konar and UN Special Envoy Nicholas Haysom to encourage all parties to end fighting and engage in peaceful dialogue. It also fully supports Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission Chairperson Festus Mogae’s work towards a truly inclusive and effective process to implement the Agreement. In addition, the Troika endorses the work of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan, and the deployment of its Regional Protection Force. Lastly, the Troika notes the importance of breaking the cycle of impunity, and encourages further progress by the AU toward the rapid establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan
*The text of the statement was issued jointly by the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Norway.
AfDB Calls for a “Revolution” in Providing Energy Access Solutions
March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
The African Development Bank (AfDB) brought together more than 180 stakeholders across the off-grid energy sector on Tuesday, March 28, in the context of “Energy Week” at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan to discuss interventions to support the scale-up of energy access investments. The overarching objective was to unleash an “Off-Grid Energy Revolution”, to provide up to 75 million households and businesses not covered by the power grid with modern, clean and affordable electricity using decentralized solar technologies.
During the plenary session of the Off-Grid Revolution consultation workshop, opening remarks were given by Bank President Akinwumi Adesina; the Minister of Oil, Energy and Energy Development of Côte d’Ivoire, Thierry Tanoh; and the Minister of Energy of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Henry Macauley.
President Adesina said, “Africa’s energy potential is as enormous as its electricity deficit. We must move quickly to unlock this energy potential. We must be smart, efficient, sustainable and quick in our actions.” The Off-Grid Revolution stakeholder consultation comes under the framework of the New Deal on Energy for Africa, which aims to provide universal energy access to all Africans by 2025.
“Although we can employ mix of approaches, off-grid solutions must be at the core of our approach to achieve the ambitious electricity access targets that we have set,” Adesina added.
The future of off-grid energy solutions is bright. Amadou Hott, the AfDB Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth, noted that millions of Africans have recently been connected to electricity by start-ups, driven by plummeting costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) and batteries, innovations in mobile payments and wireless communications technologies. “These businesses are increasing energy access across Africa faster, more cheaply, and more widely than conventional grid extension,” said Hott.
In break-out sessions, participants discussed the issues related to access to financing, risk mitigation, enabling environment and appropriate business models to scale up the energy access in Africa. Overall, stakeholders reiterated the need for a stronger political will by governments, ensure long-term integrated planning of off-grid and on-grid, and to develop the local ecosystem including manufacturing, skills development. Stakeholders also agreed on the need for more patient capital and local currency financing, hedging tools to mitigate foreign exchange risks, and to improve the credit scoring data.
The meeting was attended by leading and emerging businesses, country-representatives, civil society, industry bodies, local financial institutions, key development partners, technology providers, impact investors and AfDB staff.
About the Off-Grid Revolution
The AfDB – under its New Deal for Energy for Africa (NDEA) Strategy – has set an aspirational target of “off-grid” electricity access target of reaching 75 million connections by end of 2025. This can only be achieved through an unprecedented collaboration across a wide spectrum of committed partners. Against this backdrop, the Bank convened the “Off-Grid Revolution” workshop to define towards a suite of interventions to support the scale-up of “off grid” investment. The event is part of the Energy Week, a series of events, including high-level discussions and partnerships focusing on lighting up and powering Africa, and unlocking Africa’s huge energy potential co-organised and hosted by the AfDB. Energy Week runs from Monday, March 27 to Friday, March 31, 2017 in Abidjan.
About the AfDB’s Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth Complex
The Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth Sector Complex (PEVP), was created to fulfill the objectives of “Light Up and Power Africa” – principally achieving universal access to electricity by 2025. The Complex will accomplish this by building Africa’s energy systems while ensuring green growth. The entire development ecosystem for operational effectiveness, scale, socio- economic, and environmental impact will be taken into account. The New Deal on Energy for Africa, together with the inter-connected flagship programs is a top initiative of PEVP.
Kenya Sex Podcast Encourages Sexuality Dialogue
March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Rael Ombuor*
Nini Wacera and Karen Lucas are known as the “sex queens” of Nairobi. In a rather conservative country, they co-host a popular podcast called “The Spread.” The project is aimed at opening dialogue about sexuality, providing information on sexuality to people of all ages, focusing specifically on the youth.
The platform kicked off in 2015 after Lucas and co-presenter Wacera noted that no one was having conversations with the youth about sex. There was a platform on the continent, and in Kenya specifically, for a sexuality-based talk show.
“It’s the way we were raised and it has a lot to do with religion and sort of like the religious beliefs that are pushed upon us and being told by our elders that certain things are wrong but I think it’s changing, there is a new wave and new generation of people who are a lot more open. If we can sort of spearhead that in Kenya then we are very happy to do that. It’s about unlearning all of the things we have been told are bad and taboo,” said Lucas.
A wide range of topics are discussed on the show, from sexual health, body image, pornography and the dangers associated with sex and sexual abuse to HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
“There are many things that can be avoided, teenage pregnancies and the rise of HIV amongst our children, sexual abuse. If we are having conversations with our children about sex and sexuality all of this things can be avoided or reduced in our country,” said Lucas.
Twenty-nine year old Cathy Sonia is an ardent listener. Growing up, she struggled with her sexual identity; she had no one to talk to about it.
“A lot of us are raised to believe that sex is more of a private issue. It never comes across to our parents to talk to us about sex, that never happens and so as kids we grow up believing that that’s just a taboo,” said Sonia.
She said the show has helped her understand her sexuality.
“At the end of the day, the podcast is informative, it gives you informed information or informed knowledge so that at the end of the day, the teenager or the child is aware that sex is ok at the end of the day, that it is not a taboo. It is not something to be ashamed of, It is normal. It is just like eating.”
The Kenya Film and Classification Board is the government agency mandated to regulate the creation, broadcasting and distribution of films in the country. The Kenya Information and Communications Act empowers this agency to promote national values and morality. Its CEO, Ezekiel Mutual, says podcast produced in Kenya falls under the boards mandate.
He said he supports The Spread, but insists that ‘morality’ should be maintained. As long as the podcast does not promote homosexuality, he is fine with it.
“There are levels that could create an offense, but the discussions about sexuality in itself are very healthy, I think we need to provide this platforms for guys to talk about it,” said Mutual.
“We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand and assume that the subject of Homosexuality is not happening in Kenya. It is happening, therefore I encourage the conversation. My problem would be, people who are in it should not use it to create misleading information that this is the norm or this is what should be in Kenya. If they are discussing the challenges, if they want to find help, if they want to find confidence in discussing and finding solutions among them, I have no problem.”
The Spread continues to channel sex-positive messages. The presenters said they will continue to support and promote young people’s healthy sexual development through their broadcasts.
Africa Finance Corporation Delivers Strong Financial and Operational Growth in 2016
March 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
Media Agency (AMA)/- Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a leading pan-African multilateral development finance institution and project developer, today announces its 2016 fiscal year results.
Robust financial performance
* US$115.3 million in Total Comprehensive Income, up 64% year-on-year
* US$109.4 million in Net Profit, up 51% year-on-year
* US$3.4 billion in Total Assets, up 13% year-on-year
* US1.4 billion in Total Equity, up 6% year-on-year
* US$192.8 million in Interest Income, up 21% year-on-year
* US$21.9 million in Fees, Commissions and other Income, up 121% year-on-year
Continued strong operational performance
* Key milestones achieved:
“2016 has been a successful year for AFC, reflected by our income and profit growth and our balance sheet strength. Operationally, we’ve had a great year too, with investments including Gabon’s Special Economic Zone, paving the way for greater economic diversification in the country. We’ve also strengthened our relationships with development finance institutions and the private sector – for example by launching a Joint Venture with Harith – merging power assets to create a pioneering African Power Platform Vehicle.
“AFC aims to be a US$5 billion Corporation by 2019 and despite a challenging economic environment, we are confident that we have built the firm foundations necessary to continue delivering positive socio-economic change across Africa. Ahead of our 10 year anniversary in May, we look forward to the next chapter in AFC’s growth story.”
AFC’s mission is to address Africa’s pressing infrastructure needs and build the foundations for robust economic development across the continent, while seeking a competitive return on investment for its shareholders. The Corporation has invested approximately US$4 billion in projects across 28 African countries and in its core sectors including power, telecommunications, transport and logistics, natural resources and heavy industries.
AFC is a dynamic, international investment grade multilateral finance institution whose mission it is to help bridge Africa’s significant infrastructure gap whilst delivering competitive financial returns, robust economic growth and positive social impact.
Established in 2007 to be the catalyst for private sector infrastructure investment across Africa, AFC is now one of the highest investment grade rated multilateral financial institutions in Africa with an A3/P2 (Stable outlook) rating from Moody’s Investors Service. A successful borrowing programme has raised more than US$3.5 billion for AFC’s activities, including the Corporation’s debut US$750 million Eurobond issue which was over 6 times oversubscribed. In terms of impact, AFC has invested approximately US$ 4 billion in projects across 28 African countries to date.
AFC’s investment approach combines specialist industry expertise with a focus on financial and technical advisory, project structuring, project development and risk capital tailored to addressing Africa’s unique infrastructure development needs in the core sectors of power, natural resources, heavy industry, transport, and telecommunications.
Africa Development Week opened in Dakar with clarion call for policies that cater for youth
March 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
DAKAR, Senegal, 28 March 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- It is imperative for African governments to adopt coherent strategies and national development plans that address the continent’s challenges of growth, inequality and unemployment, Economic Commission for Africa’s deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanne Biha, said Thursday.
Ms. Biha said this in her opening speech to the Tenth Joint Annual Meetings of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration and the Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
“The absence of decent jobs for young Africans has fuelled outward migration, both within and from Africa resulting in tragic loss of lives as young people attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search for greener pastures.”
Ms. Biha said since this year is the year of harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend through investment in the youth, more needs to be done by all stakeholders to promote investment in job creation and human capital development.
“It is the imperative for African countries to adopt coherent strategies and national development plans that promote structural transformation and address the challenges of growth, inequality and unemployment within the context of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” she said.
Ms. Biha noted that discussions on unemployment in Africa were not new, adding it was now time for action on the ground.
African Union Commission’s Economic Affairs Commissioner, Anthony Mothae Maruping, said it was symbolic that the meeting was taking place in Senegal, where Africans were forcibly taken to work as slaves in America and Europe.
“We are in the right place to come up and work on strategies to make sure our young people don’t voluntarily and involuntarily leave the continent to look for opportunities elsewhere,” said Mr. Maruping, adding growth on the continent so far has not been inclusive.
“We need to grow Africa. The time to do so is now,” he said, adding Agenda 2063 is seeking to achieve accelerated, stable, inclusive and real economic job-creating growth in Africa. Mr. Maruping said no form of poverty was acceptable as he urged the continent to work hard to eradicate all inequalities.
He said Africa is clear on what needs to be done as it deals with challenges it is facing on the ground, in particular spurring economic growth that positively impacts everyone.
“Africa knows what to do, how to do it, with what and when to do it as we target this growth and inequality,” said Mr. Maruping. “We really want to transform our economies, raise our productivity, promote integration and trade and all.”
Senegal’s Budget Minister, Birima Mangara, in his welcome address to the meeting of experts said his country was doing all it can to structurally transform its economy for the benefit of every citizen.
He said inequalities and youth unemployment were being tackled as well as other related problems that lead to poverty, adding youth and women on the continent should be prioritized in job creation.
Mr. Mangara lauded the ECA, the AUC and their partners for convening a meeting to specifically tackle growth, inequalities and unemployment on the continent.
“It is these meetings which serve as outstanding platforms to discuss Africa’s problems,” he said. “I’m convinced that the debates will lead to very important recommendations that are important for the future development of our dear Africa.”
The Tenth Joint Annual Meetings will deliberate on the theme of “Growth, inequality and unemployment”.
The conference will explore measures for reducing inequality and extreme poverty on the continent in order to achieve the targets of the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan (2013-2023) of Agenda 2063 and the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, among other issues.
Among the high-level delegates present were the newly-elected African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, President of the office of the committee of experts, Lizenga Maluleka, representatives of UN agencies, the African Union Commission, African Development Bank and civil society.
Ponderables and Imponderables of President Kagame’s AIPAC Trip
March 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
-A strong showing for the Rwandan leader on Africa’s AIPAC debut
By Ajong Mbapndah L
On Sunday morning, March 26, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda became the first African head of state to address the annual gathering of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington. Also on the program Sunday morning was former British prime minister Tony Blair. Later in the day, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and former Canadian prime minister Stephan Harper addressed the conference.
AIPAC’s annual policy conference takes place this year from March 26 through March 28 at the Washington Convention Center. In 2016, 20,000 people attended and every presidential candidate (except for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders) spoke at the event, as did then-Vice President Joe Biden. Each year it attracts top U.S. government officials, key congressional committee chairmen and powerful senators, military officers, journalists, and wealthy philanthropists who have an interest in Israel and U.S.-Israel relations. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, is a long-time participant in AIPAC activities and he will be there as his father-in-law’s eyes and ears.
During the past five years, AIPAC has spent more than US$14 million on lobbying the U.S. federal government. In what looks like a tactic in a “charm offensive,” Kagame will be looking among the AIPAC attendees to find lobbying services that have an inside track with the new Trump administration. According to available public records from the U.S. Department of Justice, since 2014, Rwanda has already been spending a minimum of US$45,000 per month – more than US$540,000 per year – on lobbying and public affairs services in the United States. Sources in Washington and Kigali suggest that Kagame is prepared to spend double that to cozy up to the new Trump administration.
Kagame’s invitation to AIPAC stemmed from a sense of affinity between the Israeli and Rwandan peoples, who have both suffered from genocide. There was another motivation in Kagame’s visit to Washington, however: to shore up his relations with the new Trump administration, which has close ties to AIPAC through Kushner (the Orthodox Jewish husband of Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, another close West Wing adviser), and to Israel itself, through Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who did not hide his support for Trump over Clinton during the raucous 2016 presidential campaign.
With the departure of the Obama administration, Kagame has lost his key patrons in the U.S. government, including former National Security Advisor Susan Rice (who, in the private sector, represented the Rwandan government as a consultant in the early 2000s) and former Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who made her reputation as an Africa analyst by writing about the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s. Her book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, brought Power to the attention of Barack Obama and eventually to her ambassadorship in Turtle Bay.
Recognizing that Africa is a low priority for the Trump administration’s “America first” foreign policy, Kagame will use his short trip to Washington in meetings with opinion influencers, such as think-tank experts and Africa policy makers from previous administrations. For instance, Kagame is scheduled to speak in a closed-door meeting at the prestigious Atlantic Council on Monday, March 27. The event is hosted by Dr. J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa program at the council, who is widely touted to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, succeeding Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who has left the State Department for a pre-retirement fellowship at Georgetown University. (Thomas-Greenfield is likely to be among the 30 or so experts who attend Kagame’s presentation at the Atlantic Council, along with other former assistant secretaries like Herman Cohen and Constance Berry Newman.)
In Kagame’s speech to AIPAC, he stated that “Until all ideologies which justify killing as a patriotic duty are defeated our world is not truly safe. Not for us, not for anyone.” Yet his appearance before the 20,000 “friends of Israel” at the Washington Convention Center came on the heels of reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo that Rwandan militias under the banner of the FARDC had beheaded more than three dozen Congolese police officers. The Rwandan-backed, Tutsi-staffed FARDC has also been implicated in the kidnaping of American aid worker Michael Sharp and the assassination of Swedish UN expert Zaida Catalan.
These events stand in odd juxtaposition to Kagame’s urging in his AIPAC speech that, “together with friends like the United States, we must call for renewed global solidarity against the reckless efforts to deny genocide and to trivialize the victims.”
According to one African Analyst, Kagame’s presence in Washington and meeting with prominent advisors to the White House suggests he wants to claim the inside track against other leaders in the Great Lakes region, so that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza, for instance, will have to play a game of “catch-up” to obtain the attention of the Trump administration and retain the political and logistical support those countries have received from the United States infighting regional terrorism. (Both Uganda and Burundi have deployed hundreds of troops to Somalia as participants in AMISOM, the AU Mission in Somalia.)
Even in the absence of his old friends Susan Rice and Samantha Power, Kagame has enough political savvy to sniff out new allies in the unconventional Trump administration, whether it is in the still-to-be-staffed State Department or the White House National Security Council – or even in the Pentagon, which more than two decades ago took Kagame under its wing to train him and his comrades-in-arms to end the genocide and take over the Rwandan government.
Praised by many who give him credit for the changing fortunes of Rwanda and scorned by critics who see growing dictatorial tendencies, Kagame has emerged as a champion of African solutions to African problems. His latest leadership role is a commission under his watch to come up with reforms to boost the economic viability of the African Union. One of the few African leaders to have spoken to President Trump so far, Mr Kagame is also the first leader to be hosted by Washington in a high profile event since the new U.S Administration took office.
East Africa’s Oil Ambitions Tested by Pipeline Machinations
March 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
Uganda and Kenya building separate links to export crude
Total offers to help fund pipeline from Lake Albert field
A decade after its first big oil find, East Africa’s emergence as a crude exporter has been hindered by security and cost concerns that left the region building two pipelines instead of one.
Uganda and Kenya are developing two new basins and originally agreed to build one line to connect the landlocked discoveries to the coast. That changed last year, when Uganda chose a more southerly 1,400-kilometer (870-mile) route through Tanzania, citing lower transit prices. Kenya will go it alone with an 865-kilometer line to a port on the Indian Ocean.
Two pipelines will test the economics of the developments. Both projects probably need an oil price of $50 to $55 a barrel to break even, while lower costs or taxes may be required to justify a final investment decision in Uganda, according to BMO Capital Markets. The Tanzanian route will get some funding help from France’s Total SA, which owns a stake in the Uganda reserves, but it still hasn’t secured the financing it needs. Further north, Kenya’s explorers are under pressure to improve the project’s viability by finding more resources.
“The Kenyan pipeline seemed economically viable when Ugandan oil was going to flow through it,” said Jacques Nel, an economist at NKC African Economics. With separate lines each carrying less oil than planned and global prices remaining weak, the economics “will continue to cast a shadow over the development of the sector,” he said.
While Africa produces more than 8.4 million barrels of crude daily from major exporters like Libya and Algeria in the north and Nigeria and Angola in the west, eastern countries weren’t on the world oil map. That changed in 2006, when Tullow Oil Plcfound what may be as much as 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable reserves in landlocked Uganda’s Lake Albert region.
In 2012, Tullow made another find in Kenya’s South Lokichar basin that may contain 750 million barrels. Combined, Kenya and Uganda may be able to produce about 400,000 barrels a day once production begins.
That could catapult Uganda, which will account for about two-thirds of the output, to upper-middle income status by 2040 as economic growth rebounds to as much as 10 percent from 4.6 percent in the last fiscal year, according to the World Bank. Kenya’s government would generate revenue of $650 million a year in the late-2020s, even with crude at just $45 a barrel, said KCSPOG, a non-governmental organization.
Brent crude traded at $50.84 a barrel at 9:24 a.m. London time. The global benchmark has dropped almost 11 percent this year.
Originally, the two countries agreed to share a pipeline running through Kenya’s arid Lokichar basin to the coastal town of Lamu. But parts of the route have been prone to attacks by bandits and cattle rustlers. It’s also is close to Somalia, where Islamist al-Shabaab militants have waged an insurgency against the government for the past decade, as well as carrying out raids inside Kenya.
Safety was a concern for Paris-based Total, which in January increased its holding in the Lake Albert site. The French company agreed to help finance part of an alternative route through Tanzania that may cost about $4 billion.
Uganda government officials said the switch was a business decision. The Kenyan route would have been “very costly,” with a tariff of $15.90 a barrel, compared with $12.20 for the Tanzanian pipeline, according to Energy Minister Irene Muloni.
“We took a decision which is good for our country,” Muloni said in an interview in Kampala, the capital.
Tullow’s CEO-designate Paul McDade said last week that Uganda’s resources could be developed at a total cost of about $20 a barrel, including capital expenditure on drilling and pipeline construction plus operating costs.
“Along with the offer of better tariffs, Uganda argued that the Tanga pipeline would mean easier land access, better security, and would open up another important trade route,” said Emma Gordon, an analyst for East Africa at Verisk Maplecroft. “Currently, the country is heavily reliant on Kenya for its trade.”
Uganda’s decision dented Kenya’s ambitions to develop a $26 billion regional transport corridor, leaving explorers in the country under pressure to improve the project’s viability by boosting resources.
Kenya “took a hit” from Uganda’s volte-face, said Ahmed Salim, Dubai-based vice president of Teneo Strategy. “And as much as Total has backed this plan, both the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments have to finance this project and I think that’s where things will run into some difficulty.”
Still, both the Ugandan and Kenyan projects have seen positive developments in recent months. Uganda awarded Gulf Interstate Engineering a contract to conduct the front-end engineering study on its pipeline, and Muloni said the project is on a fast-track to ensure first oil is produced in 2020.
The Kenyan government has shortlisted eight companies for a pipeline engineering study, with construction due to start in 2018, according to Andrew Kamau, principal secretary at the ministry of energy.
Tullow, which previously favored the Kenyan export route, will “focus more physical effort” in that country, said George Cazenove, a spokesman for the U.K.-based explorer. “But both countries are critical to Tullow’s future.”
Vancouver-based Africa Oil — a partner of Tullow and Maersk Oil in Kenya — also announced a discovery in January that brings reserves closer to its 1 billion-barrel goal. The company wants to green-light the project by the end of 2018 and start producing in 2021, he said.
“It’s probably viable now, but will be much more viable if we get up to that target,” said Keith Hill, CEO of Africa Oil.
South Sudan in the Shadow of Global Transitions
March 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Stephen Par Kuol*
The year 2017 will go down in the history of the contemporary world as a year of multiple global transitions. From the UN Headquarters in New York to Washington D.C, London and the African Union headquarters in Addis-Ababa, the capitals of global power are going through overwhelming political and administrative transitions. Batons are being handed over to new guards and the old guards are going home in earnest. Experiences have it that changes can bring progress, but they can also be detrimental to institutional memory on timely critical matters. In another word, the shock waves and hurdles of transition from one administration to another can delay actions on issues that demand urgent attention. Evidently, some of those transitional leaderships might not settle down to pinpoint their pressing internal and external policy priorities until next year. What is humanely worth noting though is that in the shadow of such transitions with competing priorities, hangs South Sudan in the balance of simmering civil war, famine, displacement, genocide and extreme human suffering. The rest is; a protracted mass indignation in the war weary nascent nation!
Operations against Kony’s LRA ‘coming to an end’: US general
March 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
Washington (AFP) – The US military is wrapping up operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa, even though its leader Joseph Kony is still at large, a top US general said Friday.
“This thing is coming to an end,” said General Thomas Waldhauser, head of the US military’s Africa Command.
A self-styled mystic and prophet, Kony launched a bloody rebellion three decades ago seeking to impose his own version of the Ten Commandments on northern Uganda.
The UN says the LRA has slaughtered more than 100,000 people and abducted 60,000 children since it was set up in 1987.
Waldhauser said “several hundred, maybe thousands” of Kony’s footsoldiers had been killed in operations against the LRA, and that only about 100 now remain.
“This operation, although not achieving the ability to get to Kony himself, has essentially taken that group off the battlefield,” he said.
“For the last several years, they’ve really been reduced to irrelevance.”
The operation to hunt Kony and his bandits has cost between $600 and $800 million since 2011, the general added.
Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
One of his top lieutenants, child soldier-turned-warlord Dominic Ongwen, is currently on trial there.
A concerted campaign by activists in the US led Barack Obama to sign a law in 2010 that allowed the deployment of around 100 special forces to work with regional armies to hunt down Kony.
One of the groups, Invisible Children, went on to produce a video two years later called “Kony 2012” that went viral with 100 million views in a matter of days, raising awareness of the rebel group’s activities and its fugitive leader.
Waldhauser said America would remain engaged in the region to make sure the LRA doesn’t make a comeback.
Africa: Graça Machel – Africa Will Not Move Till Women Are in Charge
March 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
On Friday March 17, 2017, Ms Graça Machel, who is the founder of the Graça Machel Trust, launched in Dar es Salaam, a new initiative called Women Advancing Africa (WAA).
As a former first lady, and the wife of South Africa’s iconic leader Nelson Mandela, she has taken a leading role the economic liberation of women. The Citizen News Editor Esther Karin Mngodo met with Ms Machel to discuss the vision of one of Africa’s most revered women:
How did WAA begin?
We have recognisable women leaders in the political arena, and other sectoral meetings, such as health, telecoms, etc. But there is a void when it comes to a platform for women in the economic sphere. As a Trust, our focus has been on the economy.
We do focus on education and women’s rights. But when it comes to women’s rights, our focus is on the economy. We believe that is where progress has been low, and there is no clarity among women themselves on where they want to be in five or ten years.
So, we decided to launch this initiative we call Women Advancing Africa to recognise, celebrate, to value what we have achieved. To build connections, synergies, to encourage one another and to feel that this time is ours in a pan-african movement.
WAA isn’t the first to advocate for women’s financial inclusion. What makes it different from what is already there?
I must say there are some national and sub-regional initiatives. But we do not know of a pan-African space in which women come together and talk, strategise and plan together. And this is what we thought to begin to do every two years.
Women Advancing Africa is a platform for women in different sectors be in business, entrepreneurship, science, communications, to come together and say, where are we today and where do we want to be. We don’t believe in progress made by stand-alones. We believe that progress can be made at a national level when we bring together women associations existing to work together. Networking is always our option, whether you are in construction, mining, any field. You are not going to be able to move alone in your field.
There are things, which are common to all of us, regardless of which field we are. So, we base our work on national networks, but we believe also, barriers in Tanzania are also barriers in Zambia, Uganda, Mozambique. So, why should we struggle alone?
Any one of our countries have common issues with other countries on the continent, which have to be addressed as a movement. We must hold hands and share knowledge and expertise. That is what we offer through WAA. It is a space to walk hand-in-hand, a place to transmit the energy of creativity and innovation which exists in Nigeria and Ghana to influence women in Uganda and Rwanda.
The energy of innovation and creativity which can be experienced in DRC to influence women in Malawi. That is how our pan-african movement will make us strong, united and unstoppable.
We claim our right to sit where decisions are made. We claim our right to shape policies, to shape plans and strategies. We claim our rights to access resources in a variety of forms – information, skills, financial, removal of legal obstacles. We want to be shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners, to change women are regarded and treated. There are very good policies. Yet in practice, women are not regarded as equal.
We are going to assert in this second struggle, that equality is not a favour. We know it is not going to be given to us, but we are going to conquer it. For us to do that, we need this space to learn from one another, to empower women, to fight this together, to set priorities on a common agenda. If we are fragmented, working at many things at the same time, we are not going to move or make progress.
In what ways would women be able to benefit from WAA?
WAA is a platform for women to discover where they can sell their products – how we can increase intra-Africa trade. It is important to trade with China, and the US, and the UK, but to transform this continent, we have to learn how to trade with other people – men and women – inside the continent. This is how you understand the market in Togo, where you have never heard of. And what kind of products you should sell in Niger. Talk to them and build a sisterhood. That is why we chose these pillars carefully, particularly for African markets. We have the ability to make it.
We would like to suggest that different leaders in business networks in this country, to take this as yours. You are the voice of other women. Do not be afraid to showcase what you have achieved. Tell the stories and allow people to speak on their own behalf. That is a principle to being free. And when you speak on your own behalf, you are also saying ‘we’ collectively agree. This is an opportunity for Tanzania to take the lead in this second liberation in Africa.
As a young girl, did you ever see yourself taking the role of a mother in Africa, leading a movement and uniting women across borders in the continent? How did you get here?
When we are much younger, we tend to look at the environment which we are. We seek for opportunities for us to grow and in the realities which you are propelled to be in a certain platform. That platform, opens to you eyes and ears to understand much broader issues than what you understood when you were much younger.
I never thought when I was in my primary or secondary education that I could be a special representative for the UN Secretary General. Once I did my work as Minister of Education, and fortunately, we developed some strategies which became reference for the global community to say, this is how we have to deal with children in situations of conflict, then they asked me to leave the team which was global under the UN. It was just an opportunity that was opened to me along the implementation of programs which I believed in and felt very strongly about. And then you grow in the process.
Coming to what I am doing now, I have been involved in promoting girls education. I am one of the founders of FAWE (Forum for African Women Educationalists). I participated on that. But also, I have been part of emancipation of women for political positions. In that process, I realised that there is something missing and that is the economic liberation of women in Africa.
While there are many others who are going to be part of the political struggle for women, like now we are looking at who is going to be the next female president when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf steps down, other people are working on that. I felt like no one is driving a pan african initiative in the economic area.
As a girl, I never saw myself as First Lady, I must say that. Even in my early years, I grew as Minister of Education and not as First Lady. Much later, even when I married Madiba, I had embraced my causes with women’s rights, I continued to do that. It wasn’t because I was Madiba’s wife.
I must say, one of the reasons we had this empathy and our identity came to meet each other is because we were concerned with the same issues. We discovered that the issues I was concerned with were the same as his. So we gave hand-to-hand with each other to continue to work together. But in my case, it was not the position of First Lady which has defined me to be in the platforms which I now am. And as you know, I lost my first husband and that was when I did my work with the United Nations. Now that Madiba is no longer there, I continue to do my work. I think it is the case of choosing the causes you embrace.
We chose Tanzania because Tanzania is the cradle of political liberation. I am one of those who lived in that period of political liberation. All of us, we owe to Tanzania. We have learnt from Tanzania, lessons which have instilled our dreams and vision of what it means to empower people. We got in Tanzania, all kinds of support you can think of. In every village, everyone knew about Frelimo, ANC, Zanu and all of us.
We were supported by ordinary people in this nation. And the liberty of this country gave us what they could not even have for themselves. But they mobilised themselves to support the liberation movement. If we are free today, we have to bow to Tanzania today. We cannot thank you enough. But because words are short, we will say it a million times – thank you, thank you, thank you.
But because we believe that now we are in the second kind of liberation, which is the economic liberation, we thought we should come here to Tanzania for inspiration. We are here to connect with our history, our past, so we are grounded on how to go about with this second phase in which we as women, we are determined to take the centre stage. Not to be marginal. Women are confident. Women are determined in this economic liberation struggle. Yes, we are going to take that centre stage.
I have a strong emotional attachment here. I always have felt that Tanzania has given to continent. This country gave us the best. And it was not rich in those days. Tanzania did not have much of resources. But it was the heart and the minds of Tanzanian people who gave us the strength to propel us to be free. It is our obligation to say, we recognise and value you.
I am Mwalimu’s child. Mwalimu is my mentor. We never sat down to say he is mentoring me. But I followed him very carefully. I listened to him hundreds of times when he was addressing people. I observed how he carried himself as leader of this country and leader of the continent and leader of the globe, actually. I think he is one of the best examples which I have come across to my life. He is an inspiration to me.
It happens that we also had a family relationship which strengthened that. So, Tanzania as our cradle for liberation movement. Mara is Mwalimu and Mama Maria’s region. They are my family. If I have to make a contribution, knowing that there is a challenge there when it comes to children’s righs, why not start there?
Why focus on women in economic liberation at this time?
We believe that this is not a women’s issue. This is a national, sub regional, continental agreement. Why should we begin focusing on women, it is because we need to overcome those traditional sentiments of being timid, not being bold enough. But also we need to have our message clear.
We need to organise ourselves so that when we sit at the table with leaders, our partners, we say exactly what are the issues today and where we want to be tomorrow. And for that, we need to be strong amongst ourselves.
But we also need this opportunity for all those who are concerned with equity and equality and social justice. As I said, it is not a “women’s issue”. It is a development issue. It is a social justice issue.
We are going to be here, bringing women in our network. It is not by chance that we have had women speak about their work during the launch. We want to showcase our network. We want to show that women are working, they are already making progress. But we want a variety of women in a variety of sectors who are the best examples of the progress women have made. You see a diversity in African women in Dar es Salaam, young and old like me.
This will be the learning space in which we can in future, shape together and shape better how we want to present ourselves in Africa, how we want to change Africa but also how we want African women to present themselves to the world.
Together, we are in charge in putting African women at the centre stage in Africa and globally. We have already become lessons in fact, on how African women have become better than other women in the world. But we need to put this very clearly. What is it we think we can offer, inspire other women in the world.
We are absolutely sure that this nation, this continent will not advance unless women are at the driving seat. We are going to advance our continent while we are advancing ourselves. And we are going to make our continent more prosperous while we are changing ourselves. And we contribute this way.
That is why the pillars for this forum is financial inclusion, access to markets and social change. Many times, when we discuss the economy, we dwell in numbers, in shillings. We need to go beyond that, to know these are only tools to achieve social justice.
So must begin to address the transformation of equality, which will result to the transformation of women themselves. For we will have conscious citizens. We chose financial inclusion because anyone interested in business will know that access to capital is a challenge. We felt that these pillars are cross cutting.
EFFECT OF PROMOTION OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT (PAIA)/ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT NO 2, 2000, ON GOVERNANCE IN SOUTH AFRICA
March 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Moses Hategeka*
South Africa today, is a sovereign and democratic state, with a constitution, that was founded, built, and is promoted, with a primary aim, of advancement of human rights and an accountable, responsive, and transparent system of governance, as its core values. As per country, constitution requirement, all these core values, must be fully, embraced, promoted, and implemented, in all its, governance structures, both public and private.
Section 32(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act, No. 108 of 1996 (hereinafter referred to as “the Constitution”) provides that everyone has a right of access to any information held by the state and any information held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights. Section 32(1) of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, provides for the right of access to information held by the state; and any information held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights. Section 32(2) of the Constitution in turn provides for the enactment of national legislation that will give effect to this right, by respecting, protecting, promoting and fulfilling this right. As thus, PAIA, is directly derived from this, constitutional provisions.
The Promotion of Access to Information Act, No. 2 of 2000 (hereinafter referred to as “PAIA”, or “the Act” interchangeably) is the national legislation which was enacted to give effect to the constitutional right of access to information. PAIA came into operation on 9 March 2001, with the exception of sections 10, 14, 15 and 51, which came into operation on 15 February 2002.
It is important to note that, the system of government in South Africa before 27 April 1994, was characterized of impunity, abuse of power, and human rights violations, which were much deeply entrenched, into a country’s governance structures, by the discriminative apartheid system in place at the time.
As thus, the 1996 constitution, that birthed the promotion of access to information Act, was a catalyst, in laying firm foundation, on which openness, justice, accountability, and transparency, in day to day of public and private affairs, is flourishing. The South Africa’s access to information Act, is so unique in the world, in that, it is only one globally, that, that applies, to its both public and private bodies, and besides, it also translated, in its 11 official languages, allowing its citizens, to demand for good governance on a wider spectrum.
The promotion of access to information Act, has since its enactment to date, entrenched, the rule of law, and open governance, in South Africa’s body politic, and made citizens, to demand for better governance from their leaders. The South African Human Rights Commission, has also been and is playing, a pivotal, role, in educating citizens of how to make use of the access to information Act, to the enjoyment fulfillment of their constitutional rights.
All public and private bodies, are by law, obliged, to give information or document/s within their domain, being asked for, by a person/s, seeking for it, and when denied, the Act, fully empowers the person/s, to seek for legal redress, in the courts of law, or through petitioning of South African human rights commission, and on satisfactorily petitioning, the same will compel the approached institution/s to release, the asked for, information to the petitioner.
However it is equally important to note, that, the same Act, states, the grounds, upon which both public and private bodies, may refuse a person or people access to their records. For instance, matters to do with National security, defence, and international relations, are strictly guarded, in a foreseen event, that their release, will be harmful to National security, defence and International relations. This is a practice world over and keeps on raising some pertinent question/s. is this practice not the limitation on the right of access to information?
The same Act, goes on to state that, the commercial interests, involving confidential commercial information of a private company, may be denied to a person/s seeking for it, in a likely foreseen event, that its release, may hamper, the company operations, this is common world over, with multinational and direct States sponsored companies, operating in other countries. They always have confidential clauses, contractual agreements they sign with their partners, and this makes it hard for the citizens to get information from them, especially, information, regarding, their commercial profitability and local partners with stakes in them.
In sum, the enactment of, promotion of access to information Act, No. 2 of 2000, sowed the seed of open governance, justice, rule of law, and democracy, which to date continues to germinate and flourish in wider South African body politic, with citizens increasingly becoming aware and demanding for, justice, fairness, transparency and accountability from their leaders and institutions.
*Moses Hategeka, is a Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Freelance Writer, with published articles in diverse areas in leading Newspapers/magazines/online platforms in Africa.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Internet Society announces first ever Africa Regional Internet and Development Dialogue
March 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
The event aims at gathering various organizations working on Internet and development across the region to identify synergies and create opportunities for coordination and collaboration.
KIGALI, Rwanda, March 22, 2017/ — The Internet Society today announced that it will hold the first ever Africa Regional Internet and Development Dialogue from 8-9 May 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda, in partnership with UNESCO and Republic of Rwanda Ministry of Youth and ICT .
The two-day meeting will bring together experts including government and inter-governmental organization officials, business and educational leaders from throughout the continent to discuss how Africa can use the Internet to advance education, innovation and job creation.
The event aims at gathering various organizations working on Internet and development across the region to identify synergies and create opportunities for coordination and collaboration.
“One of the key topics of discussion will be what needs to be done for Africa to benefit from the transformational opportunities of the Internet for the benefit of the African economy and education,” explains Dawit Bekele, Regional Bureau Director for Africa at the Internet Society. “While there are many challenges, we know it can be done. Countries such as Kenya and Rwanda have created policy environments that enable innovation and they are now seeing the benefits of the Internet economy. Universities throughout the continent are also using e-learning opportunities to increase their reach as well as to give flexibility for their students.”
“Africa is on an unstoppable move toward digital transformation. However, the room for increasing speed and impact is limitless,” says Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda’s Minister for Youth and ICT. “This can only be achieved if we are able to harness effectively the power of partnerships. We therefore welcome and are pleased to co-host this dialogue which is a great platform for advanced partnerships ahead of the transform Africa Summit that Rwanda will host from May 10 to 12, 2017.”
The Africa Regional Internet Development Dialogue is an opportunity for key stakeholders to:
- discuss not only the challenges, but also the achievements in building the Internet economy and education in Africa;
- review the successes and setbacks of various initiatives throughout the region and share lessons-learned;
- identify the next steps different stakeholders need to take to build the Internet economy and improve education in Africa.
“I am honored to participate in this very meaningful event. UNESCO is committed to working with all stakeholders to harness ICTs in a way that serves the interests of learners and the larger teaching/learning community,” said Indrajit Banerjee, Director, Knowledge Societies Division, Communications and Information Sector, UNESCO.
This conference is part of a global series of Internet development conferences organized by the Internet Society with the aim of furthering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that aim at tackling the world’s main development challenges by 2030. Regional Internet Development Dialogues were held last year in Asia Pacific, hosted by UNESCAP, and in Latin America & Caribbean in partnership with Inter-America Development Bank and hosted by the Government of Argentina.
Founded by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet. Working through a global community of chapters and members, the Internet Society collaborates with a broad range of groups to promote the technologies that keep the Internet safe and secure, and advocate for policies that enable universal access. The Internet Society is also the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
The mission of the Ministry of youth and ICT is to address national priorities for economic growth and poverty reduction through the development and coordination of national policies and programs related to youth empowerment as well as Information & Communication Technology policies and programs.
For more information on the conference, please visit: www.InternetSociety.org/ridd/africa/2017.
Distributed by APO on behalf of Internet Society (ISOC).
Mara Social Media Acquires Global Instant Messaging & Communications Platform “Nimbuzz”
March 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
The app has over 200 million users and is available for Android, iPhone, and Symbian, MIDP, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and PC & MAC clients
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 23, 2017/ — Mara Social Media , an African multi-channel platform of online and mobile tech innovations that are designed to connect people across emerging markets, has announced this week that it has acquired global platform Nimbuzz Assets.
Nimbuzz, initially released in May 2008 is a powerful cross-platform mobile calling and messaging app. The app can be installed on computers, mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets. Nimbuzz offers its users the ability to make voice and video calls, enable chat and file sharing worldwide. The app has over 200 million users and is available for Android, iPhone, and Symbian, MIDP, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and PC & MAC clients.
Anubhav Nagar, CEO of Mara Social Media said “We see a strong momentum for consumer messaging apps, which are set to overtake social media apps globally. According to reports and current trends it is clear that social media apps are likely be eclipsed by messaging apps in the next two years. This is the opportunity, which we identified with Nimbuzz.”
As part of this acquisition, Mara gains access to Nimbuzz’s & Holaa’s unified platform as well as their international assets, IP & Database. The acquisition provides a strong foundation for our future growth in emerging markets. Nimbuzz Instant messenger & Holaa has a user base of 200 million registered users spread across India and the Middle East.
Ahuti Chug, Chair of Mara Social Media said “Users are now demanding a messaging app experience that goes beyond entertainment or communications. We see this as a gap in the offering of the existing messenger players in most markets and it opens up a huge opportunity for Mara to tap in to. We are extremely excited about this move and with the fact that it makes us a global player in this space.”
Mara will roll-out a new hybrid approach for the Nimbuzz messenger which would be an amalgamation of content, Incubator platform, smart market place and consumer communities. Mara plans to integrate the Nimbuzz platform with its existing Mara platforms including Mara Mentor and Mara Jobs into Nimbuzz Messenger and vice versa.
Mara Mentor is a free online mentoring platform that connects ambitious entrepreneurs and business leaders globally and can be accessed via a web-based platform and a mobile application that’s available on iOS and Android.
Mara Jobs is an online job platform in emerging markets including Africa & the Indian Sub-Continent. It is a platform specially designed to service the blue collar and white collar job markets in these regions which are currently hugely fragmented.
Through this multi-platform integration of Nimbuzz & Mara’s current consumer facing platforms, the long-term play for Mara Social Media is to enable commerce by growing and amplifying the power of the user base & engagement.
Challenges of the WHO Must be Turned to Opportunities-Ethiopia’s Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyus
March 23, 2017 | 1 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Mounting a strong bid to be the next Director General of the World Health Organization, shortcomings must be turned to lessons and new challenges into opportunity, says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyus of Ethiopia.
Currently serving as Minister, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and backed by the African Union, Dr Tedros says a fresh view is needed to efficiently tackle the global health challenges of today. The upcoming elections present an opportunity for WHO to be led by someone who has lived and worked through some of the most pressing health challenges facing our world today, said Tedros a Former Minister of Health in his country.
Dr Tedros is no stranger to facing challenges. With a Ph.D. in Community Health, and a Master of Science in Immunology of Infectious Diseases, Tedros is a globally recognized expert and author on health issues. With stints as Chair for the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria Board, Chair Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board, Co-Chair, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Board, Dr Tedros is supremely confident of his ability to help the WHO reach its potential and create a healthier world.
A few weeks back, Dr Tedros presented his vision and candidacy to the 34 Member States of the Executive Board of the WHO. In the voting to shortlist candidates, Tedros received the highest number of votes in both rounds. Buoyed with such a strong showing and with growing support and endorsements across the globe, Dr Tedros found time off his hectic schedule to discuss his vision, campaign, and more on the WHO and global health issues. Together we can create a healthier world, and every country has a stake in that vision says Tedros.
DR. TEDROS ADHANOM you are running for the office of Director-General for the World Health Organization (WHO), how are things shaping up with that?
I am honoured by the African Union’s endorsement for my candidacy last year and re-affirmation this year. I am motivated by the enthusiastic encouragement I have received from many other governments and global health leaders around the world. I am humbled by their confidence in me.
Since I launched my campaign over a year ago, I have met with Ministers, Heads of Delegations, and some Heads of States of over 180 of the 194 WHO Member States. These discussions have significantly shaped the priorities that I will pursue if I am elected Director-General. They have enriched my understanding of global health priorities and how these needs manifest themselves differently around the world. I am encouraged by the overwhelming alignment across Member States regarding most of WHO’s priorities, opportunities, and risks. I have also noted some areas of diverse interests and positions.
Several weeks ago, I presented my vision and candidacy to the 34 Member States of the Executive Board of WHO. I was honoured to receive the highest number of votes in both rounds of the short-listing of candidates from six down to three. I am encouraged by this early success and re-energised heading into the final stage of the election.
What is your motivation in seeking the WHO Director-General position and what makes you stand out as the best candidate for the job?
My motivation to become DG boils down to three main themes:
1) My passion for health
2) My belief in the power and potential of WHO; and
3) I have the skills and track record that can help realize WHO’s potential.
My passion for health starts from a personal level, growing up in a poor family in Ethiopia. I saw my own and countless other families in our community suffering because of poor access to health, unsafe drinking water, and food insecurity. My passion is rooted in a refusal to accept that people should live or die because of these things.
I believe in the power of WHO. I have personally seen the impact, WHO can have, as a partner to countries’ health programmes, to support and challenge us so that we can have more impact, on more people’s lives. We must turn WHO’s past shortcomings into lessons, and new challenges into an opportunity to evolve and adapt.
I believe what I have accomplished can help WHO reach its potential and create a healthier world. I have spent 3 decades learning, planning, innovating, building national capacity, coordinating partners, increasing domestic health spending, implementing comprehensive health sector reform, and managing our programs with accountability. I have remained committed and focused, translating reform into results. My vision for the WHO draws on lessons learned throughout my career: the health successes achieved here in Ethiopia, building international partnerships as Foreign Minister, and the intricacies of global health diplomacy and financing that I learned to navigate through international roles. I have chaired the Boards of the major global health institutions, overseeing their strategies and reforms, and helping to rebuild donor confidence.
A fresh view is needed to efficiently tackle today’s global health challenges. The upcoming election presents an opportunity for WHO to be led by someone who has lived and worked through some of the most pressing health challenges facing our world today.
What assessment do you make of the way the WHO has fared in the last few years and its response when the Ebola crisis struck parts of West Africa?
The Ebola crises shocked WHO to its core. However, it also offered an opportunity that
WHO launch serious reforms aimed at improving its ability to respond more rapidly and effectively to public health emergencies. Those reforms must be implemented with a sense of urgency to yield results and rebuild the confidence.
Though there have been challenges, WHO has been working to address them to be better prepared for the global health issues of today and tomorrow.
If elected to serve as DG, a top priority will be strengthening emergency preparedness, particularly in provision of increased support at country level to prevent, detect, and swiftly respond to disease outbreaks. Going back to your question about Ebola, Nigeria and Senegal were able to contain the outbreak rapidly. This was due to better coordination, incident management systems, robust surveillance platforms and community engagement. This is why country capacity is so important. The relay of information from countries to regions and then to the headquarters is very important for an outbreak to not spread globally. But if there is weak capacity and if International Health Regulations are not fully implemented at the country level, then you cannot get the information flow and rapid response needed. That is why we need, as a global community, to work together to build capacity collaboratively – whether it is through South-South partnerships, gaining access to essential vaccines, and committing to fully implement International Health Regulations.
Can you explain the vision you have for the World Health Organisation? What will the WHO under the leadership of Dr. Tedros look like?
If elected, I will focus on five priorities:
My top priority is Universal Health Coverage. All roads lead to Universal Health Coverage, from Sustainable Development Goals to gender equality to emergency preparedness.
My second is to strengthen the capacity of national authorities and local communities to detect, prevent and manage health emergencies, including antimicrobial resistance.
My third is to put women, children, and adolescents at the centre of the global health development agenda, and to position health as a more powerful contributor to the gender equality agenda.
My fourth is to address health effects of climate and environmental change.
Lastly, in order to accomplish these, we will need to create a transformed WHO: one that is strong, effectively managed, adequately resourced, results- focused and responsive.
You can find out more about my vision for WHO at www.DrTedros.com.
May we know the support you have from the AU or the African bloc and in what other parts of the world are you hoping to get the necessary support to boost your chances of victory?
I am honoured to have received the endorsement of the African Union for my candidacy, and I am grateful for the support I have received.
I am campaigning on a vision that together we can create a healthier world, and every country has a stake in that vision. So in this campaign, I want to listen to and speak with people from every nation. To be successful, we all have to do this together, all 194 Member States.
If we are to build a healthier world together, we must recognize the unique challenges that each continent and each country has to face and not shirk or ignore any of them. This is, after all, a global effort.
You were Minister of Health in your native Ethiopia from 2005-2012, what did your leadership achieve for the health sector in Ethiopia?
When I began as Ethiopia’s Minister of Heath, our country faced extraordinary challenges. We took an honest look at the state of our health care system and at what would be required to expand health to reach all our fellow citizens in need.
We made a conscious decision to address the essential building blocks for health system-wide reform – investing in critical health infrastructure, expanding the health workforce, creating new financing mechanisms, improving service delivery, strengthening pharmaceutical supply, integrating information management, and investing in epidemiology/outbreak preparedness.
We worked with communities to identify health challenges and obstacles and, together, came up with workable and culturally acceptable solutions for each unique context.
As a result of working with teams across the country at each level, we were able to expand healthcare to tens of millions more Ethiopians. Through these initiatives, we were able to dramatically expand access to health services and meet ambitious health targets, translating reform into results: reducing child mortality by 67%; reducing maternal mortality by 71%; reducing malaria mortality by 75%;reducing mortality from tuberculosis by 64%; and reducing mortality from HIV by 70%.
If you win the election you will be the first African to head the WHO, what would this mean to you?
It is one thing to tell countries what they should do, but it is an entirely different thing to have lived it and done it oneself, as I have. I have the ability to say that I designed the health reform, implemented it, and saw the results.
As someone who comes from a region hardest hit by many of the world’s biggest health challenges, I would bring WHO a fresh perspective about how much can still be done with limited resources. If elected, that will be recognition by our peers around the world that this type of frontline experience is paramount to successfully addressing health challenges not only here but around the world.
Last May, you were presented with the Award for Perseverance during the Fourth Global Conference of Women Deliver in Copenhagen, Denmark; did you consider this an early endorsement for your bid?
That was a great honor. I would not say it is an endorsement of my candidacy, but I would say it is a recognition of the importance of gender equality to us all. I have long been a champion of empowering women since I have found from experience that inclusiveness and different ways of viewing issues tends to prompt innovative thinking and deliver results.
Leading on gender quality is a core value of mine and among my five leadership priorities for WHO. Investments in girls’ and women’s health and rights are investments in a healthy and more prosperous future. We see over and over again the untapped potential of women, because we disempower them, marginalize them, and undervalue them. When we do this, our societies are poorer today. Likewise, when we neglect the health and development needs of our children, our societies are poorer tomorrow. What a shame to lose both today and tomorrow, by not investing in women and children.
Healthy, empowered girls and women have the potential to build stronger communities, economies, and nations, and ultimately transform entire societies. For example, in Ethiopia, we trained over 38,000 women to be health extension workers, who bring local health services to communities across the country, and we built a Health Development Army, a 3-million strong organized women’s network that communicates directly with families to promote health practices and disease prevention across the country. This led to a major expansion of healthcare access.
I accepted the award on behalf of my colleagues and partners who tirelessly work to improve the lives of the girls and women over the last 30 years, and consider it an acknowledgment that similar efforts need to be replicated on a global scale.
The final elections are in May. What plans do you have to better introduce yourself to the world and reassure skeptics about your abilities to provide leadership for such an important global organization?
In May, all 194 countries that are members of the World Health Organization will each get an equal vote for the next Director-General.
I am speaking to people near and far from all regions of the world. Through these conversations, I am deepening my understanding of the needs and opportunities around the world, as well as demonstrating the successes and the lessons from our experiences in the health sector transformation in Ethiopia and my leadership roles with other international organizations. I am confident and hopeful that I will receive the necessary support to be successful in the final election in May at the World Health Assembly.
Africa’s oil and gas industry set to meet at the 16th Africa Independents Forum in May
March 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
Showcasing Africa’s premier projects and upstream operators, the forum provides plenty of scope for corporate independents, international oil, gas and energy companies and Government officials to network, present their projects, propose new ventures and firm up partnerships and investment deals.
The 16th Africa Independents Forum , a key event on the international oil and gas calendar, will get underway in London on the 24th and 25th of May.
This annual gathering of Africa’s oil and gas upstream industry is an essential platform for reviewing the state of the industry and exchanging ideas on game-changing opportunities for the future. Showcasing Africa’s premier projects and upstream operators, the forum provides plenty of scope for corporate independents, international oil, gas and energy companies and Government officials to network, present their projects, propose new ventures and firm up partnerships and investment deals.
Being held around the theme of “Shaping the Continent’s Future in Upstream Oil & Gas”, this year’s programme focuses on developing and driving change in the industry. In-depth presentations provide a framework for exploring solutions that move beyond survival tactics to establish best practices that better equip the industry to weather uncertainties and withstand shocks whilst maintaining optimum performance.
A recent Ernst & Young report states that the total deal value for Africa in 2016 was US$4.9 billion across 61 deals, of which 92% were upstream, with downstream deals making up the remainder. Eighty percent of the upstream deals were announced in the fourth quarter, possibly due to a return of confidence in the industry and an expected upturn in operational activity in the ensuing months.
This forecast upswing sets an optimistic tone for the 16th Africa Independents Forum. Confirmed speakers who will share their insights are Pade Durotoye, CEO of Oando Energy Resources; Darran Lucas, Exploration and New Ventures Director at Sasol; Erwin Kroll, Senior Vice President for the Middle East and Africa at OMV Upstream; Neil Ritson, Chairman of Solo Oil Plc and Oisin Fanning, Executive Chairman of San Leon Energy in Dublin.
A highlight of the forum, the 79th PetroAfricanus dinner, will be hosted by at The Waldorf Hilton where Jasper Peijs, VP of Exploration Africa at BP, will address members of the PetroAfricanus Club.
Also hosted by AIF is the 8th Global Women in Petroleum & Energy Club Luncheon, organised by Frontier Communications with, as guest speaker, Sandy Stash, Group VP for Safety, Sustainability and External Affairs at London’s Tullow Oil.
In 2015 the Ugandan government, represented by Ernest Rubondo, Acting Director of Petroleum, Directorate of Energy & Minerals, used the AIF to promote its maiden competitive bidding round for the licensing of six blocks in the Albertine Graben which resulted in 17 firms submitting applications for qualification.
Organised by ITE, the forum provides excellent exposure for sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers with a number of tailored opportunities for showcasing and networking. The latest sponsor to come on board is Lagos-based ACAS-Law.
Johnson & Johnson Names Winners of First Africa Innovation Challenge
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
|Competition Part of Company’s Eighty-Five Year Commitment to Supporting Entrepreneurs, Science Education Opportunities, and Health Systems across the Continent|
|CAPE TOWN, South Africa, March 14, 2017/ — Johnson & Johnson today named the winners of the first Africa Innovation Challenge at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress. The initiative, which received nearly 500 submissions from innovators and entrepreneurs across the continent, sought the best ideas for new, sustainable health solutions that will benefit African communities. The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies comprises the world’s largest healthcare business and its presence in Africa dates back to 1930, including business operations, public health programs and corporate citizenship. The Africa Innovation Challenge is part of the company’s comprehensive approach to collaborate with and support Africa’s vibrant innovation, education and health systems institutions.
In addition to the Africa Innovation Challenge winners, the company also announced today that it is a major partner of Women in Innovation and the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, programs that seek to substantially increase the number of women on the continent working in the sciences. These announcements follow the prior week’s opening of two new Johnson & Johnson regional offices in Ghana and Kenya, which along with our South Africa-based global public health headquarters, will support health system strengthening and public health programs.
“Africa is one of the fastest growing regions of the world, and Johnson & Johnson is proud to support this growth through strong collaborations that encourage innovation and accelerate advancements in the continent’s health systems,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “We are seeing a surge of activity among entrepreneurs and health system leaders to develop important solutions that overcome longstanding health and societal challenges. By working together, we hope to bring meaningful solutions to patients and consumers more rapidly, to help cultivate the next generation of scientists, and to support Africa’s entrepreneurial base.”
Africa innovation challenge
The Africa Innovation Challenge, launched in November 2016, solicited novel ideas with a focus on three critical health areas: promoting early child development and maternal health; empowering young women; and improving family well-being. The three winning concepts embraced these themes as well as the goal of creating ongoing, sustainable businesses:
“This was an extremely difficult competition to judge as there were many terrific ideas,” said Josh Ghaim, Chief Technology Officer, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. “The three winning projects demonstrated a strong benefit to local communities and the ability to empower young women, and they also have the potential to deliver ongoing economic support. We look forward to working with these entrepreneurs over the course of the next year to help them build sustainable operations.”
world to accelerate the development of WISTEM2D careers and supported other STEM initiatives globally.
The AESA collaboration, which launched this month, will promote and accelerate the development of Africa’s research leadership, scientific excellence and innovation by encouraging and supporting WISTEM2D education and career development for young people, particularly females across the continent. The initiative will include entrepreneurial mentorship and internship programs for early career researchers, challenges, and other innovation initiatives. Throughout the year, employee volunteers from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies will work with AESA to host WISTEM2D workshops and courses geared toward coaching scientific leadership and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa.
“African millennials and entrepreneurs represent some of the best talent in the world. Our presence at the Global Entrepreneurs Congress here in Johannesburg and other Africa based conferences like the Next Einstein Forum, programs like the Africa Innovation Challenge, and partnerships with organizations like Women in Innovation and the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa reflect our confidence in Africa’s women and men and their potential to change the world through innovation,” said Seema Kumar, Vice President, Innovation, Global Health, and Policy Communication.
Africa: New Head of AU Commission
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Cristina Krippahl*
New African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat officially takes up his post on Tuesday. But who is Faki and what does he stand for?
A seasoned diplomat and politician, 56-year-old Moussa Faki Mahamat is no stranger to the challenges presented by the top job he was elected to on January 30. He is seen as the architect of Chad’s nomination to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member and also of the country’s presidency of the AU in 2016. He headed the AU Commission on Peace and Security at the Nairobi summit in 2013, which was dedicated to the fight against terrorism. Above all, as a former Chadian prime minister and current foreign minister he has had a decisive say in all the military and strategic operations his country was and is engaged in: Libya, Mali, South Sudan and Central African Republic, the Sahel and the Lake Chad region.
His election as chief executive of the AU thus indicates a very likely reorientation of AU policies towards issues of peace and security on the continent, Liesl Louw-Vaudran of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria told DW: “His country, Chad, is well known for seeing itself as a sort of champion of military intervention.”
His predecessor, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was severely criticized for neglecting the pressing issues on the crisis-riven continent, preferring to concentrate on longterm plans of prosperity for Africa, not to mention her own political career at home. Moussa Faki, on the other hand, has already left a mark in the fight against terrorism, most notably as chairman of the council of ministers of the G5Sahel, a military anti-terror alliance made up of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, of which Ndjamena is the driving force.
His election to the AU Commission is likely to please both Europe and the United States of America, who support Chad in the fight against Boko Haram and other jihadist groups. Chad is also the headquarters of the French counterterrorism operation in the Sahel, Operation Barkhane.
Democracy not a priority
But not everybody welcomed the news. Doki Warou Mahamat, a Chadian who coordinated the campaign against Faki’s election, told DW: “Moussa Faki is on the payroll of a dictatorship. The Chadians are in a state of mourning. You have to clean up your own act before starting somewhere else.”
Moussa Faki is reputed to be very close to President Deby who was reelected in April 2016 for a fifth consecutive term. The outcome was widely criticized because of serious irregularities. Deby has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1990. Both are members of the Zaghawa ethnic group. Analysts note that Deby succeeded in placing a man he trusted at the helm of the AU on the same day that he handed over the rotating presidency of the organization to Guinea, showing the extent of Chad’s influence in the AU and on the continent.
Reforms in the offing
Nevertheless, Faki’s election was not a foregone conclusion. Internal rifts in the AU were highlighted in July 2016 when no candidate won the necessary two-thirds majority at a previous attempt to elect a chairperson, forcing Dlamini-Zuma to stay on for an extra six months. And early this year it took seven rounds of voting before Faki emerged as the winner ahead of Kenya’s Amina Mohamed, long considered the favorite.
While campaigning, Faki, who studied law in Brazzaville and Paris, said that as head of the AU Commission he would want a continent where “the sound of guns will be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories.” While he promised to put development and security at the top of the agenda during his four-year term, he might also want to go ahead with at least some of the reforms deemed necessary to make the organization more effective. “The AU chairperson should be able to make a stand and authorize the sending of AU troops in crisis situations. At the moment, the Commission is sort of beholden to the decision of the 55 member states. Basically, the Commission’s hands are tied,” expert Liesl Louw-Vaudran said. Being a man accustomed to power and who expects to be obeyed, it is likely that Faki will want to change that.
“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.
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.”
Liberated Africa: Pathways to Self-Transformational Development
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ehiedu Iweriebor*
NEW YORK, United States of America, March 13, 2017/ — In the period since independence in the 1950s, Africa has undergone profound social, cultural, economic and political changes. Some inherited and historically rootless colonialist political and social systems have collapsed, been transcended and reconstituted. Different political systems – single party rule, personal rule and military governments have come and gone. New post-independence political and social systems; economic institutions, professional associations and labour unions, various types – traditional and new and varied cultural expressions have all emerged. Creative efforts to foster effective nation-building, develop a sense of belonging and manage diversity productively have also been made. New political systems, different forms of electoral democracy and democratic government; political parties and groups, varied social and intelligentsia organizations, confident youth groups, civil society organizations are also emerging. Disruptive and traumatic political and social crises have occurred. These include civil wars, secessionist wars, famines, elite generated manipulative ethnicity and deadly intergroup conflicts, and recently home grown and imported religious terrorism and their destructive wars, spectacular damaging actions, the creation of refugees and internally displaced peoples and the generation of general feelings of insecurity.
Social development institutions like health and educational facilities that barely existed under colonialism have been built. For example, vast numbers of schools at all levels including universities and other tertiary institutions – conventional and specialized have been established and dot various parts of Africa. They have produced millions of educated Africans as never existed before in African history. New physical infrastructures: roads, railways, water ways and airports have been built. This is a rough profile of profound changes in Africa since the 1950s.
However, given Africa’s size and vast unmet human, social and economic needs there is no question that substantial as what has been built is, the extant physical and social infrastructures are not adequate or abundant enough.
At the same time, it is quite clear that the physical and social landscapes of Africa today are vastly different from what they were 60 years ago such that it is unlikely that people from those times will recognize Africa of today.
Yet it is also true that there are some aspects of African realities that have not changed substantively or for the better during this period because Africa did not regain, recover or assert its ownership and use of its autonomous self-direction capacities in some spheres over the past six decades. These are primarily in the areas of economic sovereignty, development capacitation, self-actuated development and ideological self-direction. This failure is manifested in such conditions as persistent underdevelopment, the pre-eminence of primary commodities production and export in its economic interactions with the world, import dependency, development incapacitation and poverty generation. It is also manifested in Africa’s ideological subordination to external diktat through the acceptance and implementation of the economic management dogmas and prescriptions of the multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank, IMF and similar bilateral external agencies. These prescribed non-development dogmas include: privatization, deregulation and African states self-withdrawal from promoting socio-economic development and the simultaneous promotion of the ascendancy of “MARKET FORCES, FOREIGN INVESTORS, FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS and FOREIGN TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER ” as the primary and indispensable engines of African economic growth.
The forceful application of these disempowering dogmas through the active complicity of psychologically programmed and ideologically defeated African leaders and elite over the past three decades has yielded or in fact consolidated Africa in its status as under- developed, under-equipped and incapable of development self-propulsion. With African economies arrested in primary commodity export and the mass importation of manufactured goods they are mired in the same exocentric rut and this inevitably results in the export of jobs and import of poverty, therefore recurrent poverty-generation.
This condition and its persistence over this period suggest that IT CANNOT BE RESOLVED WITHIN ITSELF. It has to be transcended by African strategies of psycho-cultural recovery and development capacitation. Psycho-cultural recovery will entail the self-conscious efforts of liberated Africans to peel off the layers of self-deceit, self-delusion, psycho-ideological incapacitation, diminution of African self-worth, self-marginalization of African agency in African development. It would also require the expurgation from African leaderships and elite of their worshipful dependence on outsiders and preference for all things foreign including pre-fabricated solutions that have been introduced into Africa as dogmas of disempowerment and mechanisms of control from the slave trade era to the present. In its various incarnations, African disempowerment was partially procured through various seemingly neutral but ultimately destructive external ideological constructs such as “Christianization”, “Islamization”; European “Civilization” during the colonial era; “Modernization” in the neo-colonial period after independence and its latest expression, as multilateral imperialist “globalism” and dictatorial globalization that ideologically and politically dictates a single, global capitalist and liberal democratic system as the only “approved” economic, political and social and order for all times. This would be composite world of the rich and powerful, and the weak and powerless with Africa at the top.
But all these disempowering political, social, cultural and economic constructs and systems of domination were politically and self-consciously created by organized and mission-driven national and racial elites pursuing the objectives of group ascendancy and global domination. They are not divine constructs imposed on the world. In the same way, liberated Africans can self-consciously choose and work to exit from this state of UNFREEDOM AND INDIGNITY by dismantling and reconstituting the extant world order (as Asians have done) and chose to create and enter the realms of FREEDOM AND SELF-DIRECTION through development capacitation, psychological liberation, cultural recuperation, mental freedom and self-actuated development so as to emerge as powerful participants in the world system as actors not subjects. This is the liberatory imperative.
In order for Africa to assume responsibility for its own transformation and elevation, and be able to undertake self-reliant development and create secure domestic prosperity, it has to create its own specific ideology and strategy of self-development. To do this there are a number of irreducible components that have to be designed and put in place. These are: the recovery and application of African agency in African development, the creation of the liberated African state, establishment of an African development capacitation system, the creation and dissemination of the Affirmative Africa Narrative and African comprehensive military empowerment.
The Centrality of African Agency in African Development
The first requirement of this liberated development strategy and process is the emplacement of African Agency at the centre of African thought and action as the primary psycho-cultural foundation, ideological premise and endogenous propellant for Africa’s self-actuated development. In this context African Agency is the endogenously created psycho-cultural software embedded in societies with which African societies train, organize, motivate, self-activate and direct themselves to accomplish desirable ends individually and collectively. It is the absolute psycho-cultural grounding and ideological ownership of the African project devoid of compromises to any external imperatives. African Agency is grounded on the supremacy of African endocentric thought and motive-forces as the propellants of development as a self-directed imperative.
Without contemporary Africans’ psychological internalization of this understanding and ownership of their development vision and their assumption of complete responsibility for self-actuated development, African societies will remain dependent, underdeveloped and insecure. Therefore the new liberated Africa vision must recognize the absolute necessity of the restoration of African Agency to primacy for any successful African actuated process of transformation. This new perspective is critically important because it has to be realized that one of the major challenges and primary impediment to Africa’s development since independence in the 1960s has been the absence of African Agency in African development as the directive force. This was due to the concerted and largely successful efforts of external multilateral imperialist forces (posing as omniscient advisers) working with psycho-ideologically unprepared and even naive African collaborator-leaders to promote exocentric authority and the corresponding marginalization, diminution and de-activation of African Agency in African development. Consequently, without the unquestioned ascendancy, centrality and directive role of African Agency, African development understood as Africans’ self-equipment for total liberation and radical transformation can never occur.
The Liberated African State
Second, is the imperative of the creation of a new Liberated African State through the rigorous ideological cleansing, psychological re-empowerment and administrative reconstruction of the contemporary politically compromised and disabled neo-colonial African states that are more representative of external forces than national interests.
The decolonization of the colonial African state and the evolution and emergence of the liberated state after independence was disrupted in the 1980s when most African states were captured and disabled by the cancerous ideologies, dogmas and prescriptions of the multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank and the IMF and their bilateral supporters in the context of the economic crises of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Embodied in various formulations and policy diktats such as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), and its unvarying conditionalities: currency devaluation, subsidy removal, trade liberalization and others like deregulation, privatization, poverty reduction; these prescriptions have transformed African states into disabled, compromised, neo-colonial political-administrative contraptions that are responsible to neo-imperialist multilateral institutions and not to Africans. They therefore cannot serve Africa’s interests
This is why it is imperative to create the new Liberated African state. It will be a strong and interventionist developmental state. Its raison d’ etre would be the representation and promotion of national interests. This Liberated African state will be grounded on the affirmation and militant expression of its untrammeled sovereignty; and the absolute non-compromise of national interests to any external agencies, formulations, dogmas and imperatives. It would self-consciously assume and assert uncontested ideological ascendancy. In fact the new liberated state will represent the completion of the decolonization of the African states and the emergence of truly endogenous states. It is only such Liberated African developmental states that can lead to the realization of the African citizens’ expectations for defence and protection, advanced development, material prosperity and freedom from want and colonialist philanthropy, psychological security and empowerment, dignity and equity with all other groups in the world.
The African Development Capacitation System
The third critical requirement is the development and placement of an African Development Capacitation System as the primary motive-force for Africa’s social and economic transformation and creation of advanced societies. This is proposed against the background of the complete failure of the extant neo-colonial economic system inherited and maintained from colonialism. In over five decades of its use and application as the dominant economic management system and growth strategy it has yielded and maintained Africa in a state of development incapacitation, primary commodity exportation, secondary goods importation, dependency, poverty generation, incapacity for self-propulsion, and subjection to the diktat and control of multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank and IMF. It is quite clear that the extant exocentric economic system with its development motive forces externally situated is organically defective, un-reformable and inherently incapable of propelling Africa to the highest levels of development.
Therefore in order for Africa to develop and achieve the highest levels of human development it has to own the instruments and systems of self-actuated development. This perspective is partly based on this author’s succinct definition of Development – as a society’s self-equipment with the resources and capacities for its self-reproduction. Consequently, the African Development Capacitation system is the creation and existence within all African societies of the endogenous capacities to conceive, design, construct, manage and operate projects in ALL sectors of the economy. These include the technological, scientific, managerial and operational capabilities for all facets of modern industrial and agricultural production and development self-propulsion.
Practically, the components of the development capacitation system include the domestic possession and ownership of the following capacities: Project Conception and Design capabilities; Technological Production Capacity or Capital Goods Industries comprising : Engineering Industries for the manufacture of all types and levels of machine tools, industrial machinery and equipment, transport equipment, electrical and power equipment; electronic and professional tools and equipment. Intermediate Goods Industries (Metals, Heavy Chemicals, Petrochemicals, Paper, Rubber etc); Civil Engineering Construction Capabilities for large, medium and small scale projects; and Project management and operation and supervision Capabilities.
This endogenous development capacitation system is found in all successful global examples of societal self-development as the prime movers of any society’s self-actuated transformation from conditions of UN-FREEDOM: material underdevelopment, mass poverty, indignity and colonialist philanthropy to new empowered conditions of FREEDOM: expressed as self-created material abundance and prosperity, psycho-cultural confidence and dignified existence. This is practically expressed in mass industrialization, modernized mass agricultural production, mass mineral exploitation and beneficiation primarily for domestic use; mass employment, mass prosperity generation; cultural elevation, self-actuation, self-agency, human dignity and societal power. This is in effect the enthronement of the strategy and process of endocentricity and its ineluctable creation and production of a state of development.
The Affirmative Africa Narrative
The fourth basic requirement is the creation and permanent dissemination of a self-elevating paradigm or narrative to be known as the Affirmative Africa Narrative. Currently there is no global African created narrative that conceives, presents, projects and widely propagates a truthful, complex and elevating narrative of Africa and Africans. In its absence there exists a universal externally fabricated, pervasive and routinely propagated perverse perspective on Africa that I describe as the Pathological Africa Narrative. This narrative which evolved from the era of the European slave trade; was expansively propagated and consolidated during colonialism and has been fine-tuned and expanded since independence to the present to include other foreign propagators like Asians and even Africans. It presents an image and impression; perception and narrative of Africa as a world of deficits, lack, deprivation, absence, danger, disease, inaction, native incapacity, immobility and a basket charity case that is rescueable only by the self-assigned salvationary efforts of Western multilateral imperialist agencies – World Bank and IMF – their dogmas, experts and prescriptions. This Pathological Africa Narrative is not only inaccurate but it is also dangerous and damaging as it represents the software of African self-denigration, servility, surrender and incapacitation.
In order to pursue the vision of liberated Africa it is imperative to create and propagate the Affirmative Africa Narrative. This would be a robust and unapologetic statement of African accomplishments in all areas of human endeavor since independence despite all internal and external obstacles. It would provide the psychological props and grounding among Africans for their self-representation. The Affirmative Africa Narrative is intended to confront, combat, degrade, pulverize, defeat, eliminate and replace the Pathological Africa Narrative that currently pervades external and internal descriptions and representations of Africa and Africans. In its place, the Affirmative Africa Narrative should become the primary perceptual representation and imagistic projection of an energetic and boundless; resurgent and self-directed Africa.
Consequently, for Africans committed to racial upliftment and continental advancement and empowerment embodied in the new liberated Africa vision, the requisite framework of self-representation, self-projection and self-activation is the Affirmative Africa Narrative. This is thus a necessary and indispensable accompaniment and organic adjunct to the determined pursuit of the liberated African vision and mission.
The Imperative of African Military Empowerment
A fifth requirement of the liberated Africa vision is the imperative of Africa’s military empowerment through deliberate provisions for continent-wide development of military capabilities. In order to meet the defence needs of a self-conscious people and continent determined to assume responsibility for its own self-advancement, self-protection, self-projection and emergence as a powerful and dynamic participant in global affairs, two range of actions are minimally imperative.
First is the establishment and development of military industries throughout Africa to ensure that virtually all military equipment from the most basic to the most advanced are manufactured (not assembled) in Africa. This is will free Africa from its current pathetic situation of dependency for military wares from the countries which participated in the past in Africa’s conquest and colonization as well as from new armament producers and traders. To be militarily none self-equipped and self-reliant is to reside in a state of UNFREEDOM.
The second aspect of African military empowerment is the revival, re-steaming and realization of the long-standing grand visions from the 1960s for continental defence institutions and systems. The founding nationalist and pan Africanist leaders of the 1960s and 1970s, had canvassed and proposed the development a comprehensive continental military defence system. This is was to be known as the African Military High Command. These pioneer leaders envisaged it as a powerful continental defence force for self-protection, internal security issues, intra-continental intervention, conflict resolution, contributions to continental and global peace keeping and management as needed and as a force of self-projection that announces Africa’s global presence. It would also be responsible for the security of African geo-political and oceanic spaces against foreign powers desirous of containing, controlling and constraining Africa by the establishment of their military cordon around the continent.
The over-all rationale for the prescription of Africa’s military empowerment is due to the historical purblindness and psychological incapacitation of African leaderships and dominant elite since independence. In the light of the rapid conquest, colonization and exploitation of African communities after the Berlin Conference between the 1880s-1900s, self-conscious Africans should never have the luxury of forgetting that Africa was conquered primarily because of Western military superiority in arms and armaments. Thus it would seem minimally patriotic, psychologically imperative, behaviourially logical and eminently sensible that such a people and continent should give premium attention to the establishment of a powerful military capacity for defence and offense as indicated by its historical experiences and new status as sovereign states.
Therefore a fulsome strategy for African military self-equipment and a powerful and expansive African Military High Command should be developed and incorporated as part of the liberated development strategy to equip Africa to defend, protect and project itself and to play a dynamic role in global affairs.
The various elements outlined above constitute a new strategy and process of endocentric development or African Liberated Development and their application would produce Liberated Africa. This Africa would be truly self-made: developmentally transformed, ideologically self-directed, politically stable, technologically advanced, industrially developed, socially prosperous, culturally renascent, psychologically assertive, militarily powerful, a globally ascendant continent with self-restored human dignity, an Africa of which all Africans will be duly proud.
*Ehiedu Iweriebor, Ph.d (Columbia) is a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA.
Canada @ 150: Lessons for Nigerian youth
March 13, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Chido Onumah
On July 1, 2017, Canada, the world’s second largest country after Russia, will be 150 years old. There is a year-long celebration of this milestone for a nation that prides itself on being one of the best, if not the best country in the world. Before the European colonialization in the early 16th century, Canada was inhabited by aboriginal people (the indigenous people of Canada). Canada’s history of colonialism dates back to July 24, 1534, when French explorer, Jacques Cartier, in the name of King Francis I of France, set up a French colony in New France, the area colonized by France in North America. As conflicts between colonial powers raged, Britain would later supplant France and take control of much of what is Canada today.
On July 1, 1867, the British North American Act came into being. It led to the fusion of the colonies of Canada (later Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia to form the semi-autonomous federal dominion of Canada. With time, other British colonies and territories joined with or were ceded to the new nation. From four provinces in 1867, Canada today has ten provinces and three territories. It wasn’t until 1982 that the country became a fully sovereign state. It was that year that Canada eliminated the last vestiges of legal control the British Parliament had in the amendment of the country’s constitution.
It is not for nothing that the country has been described as the best place on earth. According to a 2015 study by the Reputation Institute, “Canada is the top country in the world for studying, visiting, working, and living.” It was ranked first for “best quality of life” by U.S. News Best Countries Ranking (2016) and named the “world’s most welcoming country” by the 2015 Global Nation Brands Index. Beyond its picturesque countryside, tundra, prairies and beautiful snow-capped mountains that stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, Canada provides a breathtaking kaleidoscope of multiculturalism, diversity, inclusion and freedom that other countries can take a cue from.
Of course, Canada is not a perfect nation. No nation is perfect. Nation-building is not a tea party but a work in progress, no matter how old a country is. One of the most decentralized federations as well as one of the most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations in the world, Canada, a country of 35 million people, (2016 census) has continued to push the boundaries of what it means to be a modern nation-state.
Last week, as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration, the country’s High Commissioner in Nigeria, H.E. Christopher Thornley, held a reception in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, for Canadians and friends of Canada in Nigeria. Ambassador Thornley spoke about Canada’s “strong and enduring relationship with Nigeria, and commitment to continuing our friendly and productive relations for many years to come.” He also spoke about Canada’s “diversity and inclusiveness, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, youth, and the environment.”
There are plenty of lessons Nigeria can draw from Canada. Like Canada, Nigeria is a member of the Commonwealth, an organisation of countries that were colonized by Britain. Of course, there is a difference in how both countries emerged—while Canada’s three original British colonies agreed to come together to form a semi-autonomous confederacy in 1867, the Northern and Southern Protectorates in Nigeria were amalgamated by the British in 1914 to create Nigeria. From two protectorates to one country in 1914, Nigeria grew to three regions in 1946, four regions in 1963, 12 states in 1967 and today has 36 states. While Canada’s expansion was through accretion and concession, that of Nigeria was through forced division. This difference notwithstanding, both countries have in common, diversity in terms of region, language, religion and ethnicity.
According to Ambassador Thornley, Canada is strong because of its differences, not in spite of them and is strengthened in many ways because of her shared experiences and diversity. Nigeria can look to its diversity, differences and shared experiences as sources of strength. Unfortunately, thanks to poor leadership, the country has managed to exacerbate its fault lines so much so that today it sits on the brink, racked by political instability, and ethnic and religious strife propelled by a greedy and bankrupt elite for whom enlightened self-interest means absolutely nothing.
“Inclusion is a choice,” noted Ambassador Thornley. “This choice is guided by the many benefits that diversity can bring: higher rates of economic growth, better social cohesion and tremendous cultural and civic benefits. It has taken years of hard work for Canada to get to where it is today. Inclusion does not happen by accident, it happens because of choices. Decades ago, Canada chose to embrace a policy of multiculturalism and official bilingualism. The Government of Canada chose to welcome more refugees. Prime Minister Trudeau chose to have gender parity in Cabinet (because it’s 2015).”
These are the ideals Nigeria should aspire to if we are to build a modern nation. We must make conscious efforts to build an inclusive nation; a society of equal opportunities and civic benefits; the alternatives are not pleasant. We must redefine citizenship rights in Nigeria. We must build a nation, like Canada, where every Nigerian can call every part of the country home. That conversation must begin now. Nigeria does not have the luxury of time!
In 2015, Canadians elected Justin Trudeau, a dynamic and progressive young politician as prime minister. Ambassador Thornley spoke eloquently about the role young people in both Nigeria and Canada can play in shaping their countries: “As we celebrate one hundred and fifty years of Canada, we remind ourselves that it is today’s young people that will shape both the Canada and the Nigeria of the next fifty years. Canada understands the importance of engaging youth not only on issues that affect them directly, but on all issues of national and global importance. In fact, our Prime Minister, quite deliberately, chose to personally take on the role of Minister of youth to emphasize the priority his government attaches to it. Young people represent a generation of true global citizens. This has been helped by a world that is networked and connected like never before, namely through the use of new technologies and social media. The importance of youth is particularly pronounced in Nigeria, which has such a sizable population of young people. I have been impressed in the early months of my tour in Nigeria with the ideas, energy, and vitality of young Nigerians. The desire to build a better world is evident and inspiring.”
Nigerian youth have ideas and energy. They are creative. But they must do more; they must be involved in reclaiming and re-inventing the country; they must realize that the power to bring about real change in Nigeria lies in their hands. Many of those who shaped Nigeria at independence were in their 20s and 30s and few in their 40s. They were the same people who plunged Nigeria into an avoidable and internecine civil war, mismanaged the post-war reconciliation, robbed the country of its resource, impoverished majority of Nigerians and brought us to the sorry state we are in today as a nation.
Nigerians can’t continue to run the country with the same people and ideas that have failed in the last 56 years. Nigerian youth must rise to the challenge of their generation. Nobody will provide employment or quality education for you unless you create a system of equal opportunities and civic benefits. It is your country, your world and your time! I am, therefore, encouraged by the efforts of some young Nigerians like the economist and writer, Tope Fasua, who is rallying other young Nigerians for real progressive change under the banner of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) as the country heads into another general election cycle in 2019. There is Bashir Abdullahi II, the building engineer and social activist who sought me out a few weeks ago to share creative ideas for the social and political reconstruction of Nigeria as an inclusive and egalitarian society.
These are the kinds of new attitudes and approaches that Nigeria needs for her to survive. We must break from the past. We can’t continue to run Nigeria in the same old ways and expect different results. Dear Nigerian youth, let no one tell you that you are not old enough to lead or that you don’t have experience. Make your mistakes if you have to, but lead you must. Your glorious battle cry must be: dare to struggle; dare to win!
Nigeria must rethink its federalism. Like Canada, Nigeria must seek reconciliation with various groups within the country. Everybody matters! We must also elevate the debate around gender equality and empowerment of women. It is only the youth that can achieve this by collectively destroying the ingrained mistrust and prejudices of the past. Successive rulers—with jaundiced and parochial thinking—have failed the country. There is no reason for the current generation of Nigerians to toe the same line. There is no explanation why Nigerians born after the end of the civil war in January 1970 should see themselves as anything other than Nigerians first. That must be the attitude going forward; it is the only way we can get out of the current morass.
Last week, I was on Aljazeera’s Inside Story to talk about corruption and famine in three African countries (Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan) and Yemen where, collectively, 20 million people are at risk of starvation. In Somalia, “a national disaster has been declared because of drought and about half of the country’s population faces severe food shortages.” In South Sudan, “famine has been declared in parts of the country and up to a million people there will soon run out of food.” And in the giant of Africa, the UN says “400,000 Nigerian children face malnutrition. Close to 80,000 of them might not survive the next few months.”
It was tragic as it was painful for me to find Nigeria in the same league as these other countries that have a long history of natural disasters and civil wars. Nigeria’s problems are purely self-inflicted. There is no reason any child in Nigeria should go to bed hungry much less being malnourished; no reason for millions of Nigerians to be refugees in their country. It is this retrogressive paradigm of governance that has defined Nigeria since independence that our youth must interrogate.
The challenge before Nigerian youth, therefore, and the lesson they can learn from a country like Canada is how to build an inclusive nation, home to millions of people from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, living together in harmony and bound by social justice, equity, the rule of law and a common national ethos.
It is the bounden duty of this generation of Nigerian youth to rescue Nigeria from the tragic hamster wheel the country has become.
Onumah is the author of We Are All Biafrans; Contact him on email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter: @conumah
Zimbabwe: Over 100 Million Condoms Distributed in 2016, Says Government
March 9, 2017 | 0 Comments
OVER 100 million condoms were distributed in 2016 up from 80 million in 2014 during the same period, the ministry of health has said.
Information from the ministry says 109. 5 were used last year. According to the ministry, 105 million male and 4.5 million female condoms were distributed, with the female condom uptake remaining low.
According to UN data, Zimbabwe is ranked as the 10th highest in condom use out of 37 countries with Amenia on number (1), Swaziland (2), Nigeria (3), Ukraine (4), Belize (5), Mauritius (6), Gabon (7), Lesotho (8), Haiti (9) and Zimbabwe (10).
According to the ministry, the use of condoms as a safe sex practise has helped the country lower the number of new HIV infections.
National Aids Council says HIV infections were cut by half for adults between 2009 and 2015 and by 30% among children from 2010 to 2015.
HIV and AIDS related mortality rates also dropped by 30% for adults and children by 2015.
In Zimbabwe nearly 1.5 million are living with HIV in a country of 13 million people.
In a statement, the Health Ministry said it is committed to ensuring the promotion of condoms which World Health Organisation and UNIAIDS endorsed as one of the most proven high-impact HIV prevention interventions.
“The use of either male of female condom have added advantage of also being a family planning method which prevents unplanned pregnancies,” said the statement.
The Health Care Foundation Zimbabwe (HCFZ)’s position is that condoms remain a key component of high-impact HIV prevention programmes.
“This is not the time to reduce the funding for condoms but actually to increase it,” says HCFZ.
Condoms in the country are distributed for free by the government and some NGOs.
Energy Ministers from South Africa, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Democratic Republic of Congo to address investors at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit
March 8, 2017 | 0 Comments
H.E. Hon.Tina Joemat-Pettersson MP, Minister of Energy, South Africa, H.E. Patrick Sendolo, Minister for Energy, Land and Mines, Liberia, H.E. Hon Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda, H.E. Hon. Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy, Sierra Leone and H.E. Hon Pierre Anatole Matusila, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Democratic Republic of Congo are the latest speakers to confirm attendance at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit, taking place from 9-10 March 2017 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington D.C.
U.S. Representative Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee has also confirmed to address delegates at the 2017 Summit. Chairman Royce worked tirelessly to pass the Electrify Africa Act which was successfully signed into law in early 2016. The bill seeks to address the significant electricity shortage in Africa that affects the everyday lives of millions of people. His participation will provide an insight into the act and how it will continue to maintain competitiveness in Africa whilst increasing global security and social stability.
The Summit will take the form of panel discussions and roundtables focusing on sector-specific topics and addressing how bottlenecks can be overcome to drive forward projects. Maintaining US competitiveness in Africa will be a key theme, setting out how commercial partnerships can deliver energy, create jobs, build capacity and spur industrial growth. 26 countries will be represented at the Summit to date, including 16 African countries. A networking reception will take place on the evening of 9th March, and delegates will have the opportunity to arrange meetings with other attendees using an onsite networking app.
This meeting will be co-located with the Growing Economies: Latin America Energy Forum, focusing on investment opportunities in Latin America’s energy & infrastructure sectors.
For more information about this meeting:
Meeting dates: 9-10 March 2017
Venue: Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C., USA
Contact: Amy Offord – Marketing Manager
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7384 8068
Three Leading Organizations in Africa and The MasterCard Foundation Partner to Improve Livelihoods for 1.1 Million African Smallholder Farmers
March 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Foundation has committed a total of US$38.3 million to AgDevCo, ICCO Cooperation, and Root Capital for programs to improve productivity and market access for farmers in 11 African countries.
Ex-South Sudan general forms rebel group, vows to topple president Kiir
March 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Denis Dumo*
JUBA (Reuters) – A disaffected South Sudanese army general who quit his position last month announced on Monday that he had formed a new anti-government rebel group, underscoring mounting resistance to the rule of incumbent president Salva Kiir
Lieutenant General Thomas Cirillo Swaka, formerly deputy head of logistics, resigned after he accused Kiir of turning the country’s military into a “tribal army.”
The military, police and other security branches, he said, heavily recruited from among the Dinka, Kiir’s tribe.
Swaka was one of three top military officials who quit in February amid accusations of tribalism, nepotism, corruption and other abuses levelled against Kiir’s government.
In a statement on Monday, Swaka said his new rebel group, The National Salvation Front (NSF) “is convinced that to restore sanity and normalcy in our country, Kiir must go; he must vacate office.”
NSF would “fight to eradicate the malady that has badly tarnished the image of South Sudan,” he said.
Oil producing South Sudan, Africa’s youngest nation, was plunged into its first war in 2013 after Kiir sacked his then deputy and political rival, Riek Machar.
An ensuing two-year conflict was ended by a peace pact in 2015 and Machar, who had left the capital Juba at the start of the war, returned in April last year and was handed the same position.
Festering tensions between the two men, who hail from rival tribes, exploded into military confrontation again in Juba in July, kicking off the latest wave of fighting that has spread to several parts of the country since.
Machar now lives in South Africa after fleeing South Sudan at the start of the latest conflict.
The rebel group will be a new source of instability in a country where escalating violence has already uprooted an estimated 3 million people, devastated the agriculture sector and the throttled the broader economy.
Famine has been declared in parts of the country.
South Sudan’s military spokesman, Brig-Gen Lul Ruai Koang, told Reuters he had no immediate comment on the formation of the new rebel group and needed time to read Swaka’s statement.
In the document Swaka said an “above-the-law culture and mentality” prevailed among top officials in the military and blamed that for rampant crime, including robberies, rapes, embezzlement of public funds.
Ambassador Sanders’ New Book Focuses on Insta-impact of Africa’s SMEs
March 6, 2017 | 0 Comments
Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders’ new book on “The Rise of Africa’s Small& amp; Medium Size Enterprises” (SMEs) is an insightful examination of the dramatic shift in the development paradigm for Sub Saharan Africa – driven in large part by the imaginative, innovative and insta-impact leadership of the region’s small businesses or SMEs. “SMEs have helped drive economic growth and aided in increasing the size of the Continent’s middle class,” Sanders says. The book’s Introduction is by renowned civil rights leader Ambassador Andrew Young, and the Foreword is by Africa’s leading businessman, Mr. Aliko Dangote. Sanders’ credits the determination of Africa’s SMEs to step into the void left by 40 years of post-independence development efforts that had little impact on overall poverty reduction and job creation in the region.
The book also has recommendations on what donors, the African Union, African Governments, and the new U.S. Administration can do to further assist Africa SMEs. For the US, Sanders notes that as the new U.S. Administration seeks to have markets for its goods and services as part of its efforts to reinvigorate jobs in the US Rust Belt (the Midwest Region), and as Africa SMEs expand their procurement sources and help expand the region’s manufacturing base – both efforts can be synergistic, and help stimulate both American and African economies. There is also an extensive chapter on China – what it is doing in the Africa SME sector, both the big plus, like special economic zones, the New Development Bank, and becoming the world’s net credit country, as well as addresses some of the things on which it needs to do better.
Included in the book are DataGraphs from the world-respected Gallup Analytics® on the enabling environment for Africa’s SMEs and comments on the importance and impact of the region’s SMEs from other key notables such as Gallup’s Managing Partner Jon Clifton, Nigeria telecom leader and Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria Hakeem Belo Osaige, CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Oscar Onyema, Chairman of Operation Hope John Bryant, CEO of Homestrings Eric Guichard, former Senior U.S. Small Business Administration official Ngozi Bell, and the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises of the Republic of Congo, Madame Yvonne Adelaide Mougany. Dr. Frederick G. Kohun, nationally-recognized scholar of Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University (RMU), a University Professor of Computer and Information Systems at RMU’s School of Communications and Information Systems, underscores Sanders point in the book that the impact of Africa SMEs is not only a result of technology and its mobility, but the sister relationship that these have with providing access to knowledge management for communities around the world that have helped small businesses globally transform their societies and their nations.
The prestigious Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) has included Sanders’ Africa SME book in its recognized series of Memoirs and Occasional Papers Series (MOPS) given its additional focus on the role and changes in diplomatic approaches to development over the ages, including the shift changes brought about the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
See story on Sanders’ book http://bit.ly/SandersAfricaSMEBook
African Challenges to African Development
March 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
|By Ehiedu Iweriebor*|
NEW YORK, March 3, 2017– The parlous story of African economic and social development since independence best expressed in the failure to achieve the autonomous capacity for self-actuated development and in particular to create conditions of national and continental modern mass production and prosperity is well known and need not be repeated. It is enough to re-state that Africa’s development failure was because of the leaderships’ choice to retain, maintain and expand the inherited exocentric colonial system of development incapacitation, primary commodity export, import dependency and poverty generation.
The progressive efforts of some African states and leaders to change the system and create self-reliant economies were stymied by the leaderships’ ideological inadequacies and dependency, the balance of payment crises of the late 1970s and 1980s and the subsequent economic crises and decline. This provided the avenue for Western multilateral imperialist agencies the World Bank and the IMF – to successfully infiltrate into Africa, re-colonize African states and convert them into neo-colonial out-posts of the so-called neo-liberal consensus. This framework embodied in the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) with its destructives conditionalities: currency devaluation, trade liberalization, subsidy removal, deregulation and privatization, re-directed the African states to focus on expanded raw materials production and exports and to abandon industrialization and development capacitation.
The application of these anti-development SAP dogmas in the 1980s and 1990s ushered in two decades of deepening indebtedness, serious economic crises, de-industrialization, socio-economic decline, deepening impoverishment and political repression. On the other hand, the period also saw the upsurge of popular democratisation struggles, civil rights campaigns, the restoration democracy, and the establishment of electoral democracy and the decline of military interventions in African politics. In the economic sphere, there were innovative dependency-reducing responses. This was because among businesses there was an increased re-orientation toward local sourcing of well-known agricultural and mineral endowments to expand production. This led to the emergence of new economic sectors and especially the expansion of cottage, small and medium scale consumer goods industries which were operationally autonomous due to the increased utilization of local resources for production and self-development.
In addition there was relative political stability and policy and institutional the support for businesses through the creation of enabling environments for attracting investments.
It was partly because of these new domestic conditions and the economic self-activation, and the partly because of return of better commodity prices in the first decade of the 21st century that the Western media fabricated and propagated the new view of “Africa Rising”. This became a very popular and re-assuring slogan among some African leaders, politicians and intelligentsia.
However, it was an insecure condition because a “Rising Africa” whose upsurge is generated by increased external demand for primary commodities is essentially insecure. It does not represent genuine African development that is based on expansive domestic production and prosperity generation. It merely reinforces African dependency on primary commodity export and its dependence on the importation of manufactured goods. It is evaporating with the speed with which it was proclaimed.
But there was a more consequential development story of this period that ushered in what this author describes as the Affirmative African Narrative phase of development. This is the progressive assumption by African businesses of the leadership role in promoting national and pan-African development. This new trend of African self-development is captured by the new concept of “Africans Investing in Africa” This is the process by which African industrial, service, and commercial enterprises began to make large-scale investments in many different African countries. The investments involve for example the expansion of Banks, telecommunication companies, trading companies and so on. Examples of these include Nigerians Banks like UBA, Zenith, Access, First Bank; South African banks like Standard Bank and Moroccan Banks; Telecommunication companies such as MTN of South Africa, ECONET of Zimbabwe and GLOBACOM of Nigeria. Others are Shoprite, Coca cola and South African Breweries.
While Africans investing in Africa is becoming common and commendable, it is important to emphasize that NOT ALL African investments in Africa are of equal economic importance or strategic development value. For example, African investments like Shoprite and similar companies which merely establish commercial or trading enterprises that do not add value to African economies are no different from traditional non-African FDI companies that are established to create captive markets for products from their home countries and thereby maximally exploit Africa.
On the other hand, African companies that make investments that are decisive and transformational are those that deliberately promote and advance African development capacitation, through local resource exploitation, mass industrialization, large scale industrial, agricultural and mineral production, and beneficiation for internal use.
In terms of investment for development capacitation through local resource utilization and valorization, the vanguard African company is the Dangote Group. In order to ensure that Africa achieves self-sufficiency in the critically important infrastructure development requirement – CEMENT – Dangote embarked on a pan-African investment strategy to establish integrated plants, or grinding plants or cement terminals in African countries according to their resource endowments. The Group’s ultimate objective is become the ascendant cement manufacturing company in Africa. There is no question that the Dangotean strategy of development capacitation through local resource exploitation, mass industrial production and domestic prosperity-generation is what Africa requires to become the self-actuated mover of its own development and to create a secure development upsurge and continental prosperity that does not depend on the vagaries of external demand for primary commodities.
This Dangotean transformational mission and project is now been threatened by what seems like the unwillingness of African countries to respect and maintain carefully crafted legal investment agreements as sacrosanct documents and binding commitments. Within the past year the Group has faced major challenges as a result of the failure of some African states to keep their sides of the bargain or agreements concluded with Dangote Group. This happened late last year in Tanzania when the government seemed to renege on some elements within the agreements reached with the Dangote Group to give it concessions and incentives for the massive investments of over $500 million dollars that the Group made in the construction of the monumental cement plant in Mtwara, Tanzania. This Dangote Cement plant with its 3 million metric tonnes per annum capacity is the largest cement plant in Eastern Africa. In addition to the cement plant, other associated Dangote development projects include the construction of a coal power plant and a jetty. While these are primarily beneficial to the Groups business, they also represent important investments and permanent additions to Tanzania’s power and sea transport sectors.
Together these projects have generated significant direct employment opportunities and as they mature and attain full production capacity the multiplier effects in various sub-sectors would be expansive and extensive, thereby creating prosperity and income in the community as well as revenues for the local, regional and national the governments. But due to the problems Dangote had to temporarily shut down the plant; and after negotiations and assurances that restored the original terms, the plant resumed production. This Dangotean Tanzanian experience of government infidelity to the sanctity of agreements can only create profound doubts among business people on the readiness of African states and leaders to move Africa forward.
But the Group’s challenges in Africa are not over. Just recently, in Ethiopia, the regional government of Oromo Regional State where Dangote’s new over $400 million dollar, 2.5 million metric tonnes per annum cement plant is located came up with new conditions that are bound to disrupt the operations of the Dangote plant. In what it claimed is an attempt to provide employment for jobless Oromo youth it decided to withdraw all mining licences and agreements already concluded with Dangote and similar other companies with mining concessions. In its place the regional government claimed that it would create youth owned companies that would now supply the minerals required by the cement and other plants.
This action of the Oromo regional government in illegally annulling legally approved mining agreements with the Dangote Group and other companies raise major questions on the genuine preparedness of African states, politicians, and bureaucrats to foster Africa’s self-development through Africans investing in Africa. Without question the action of these governments represents major challenges to Africans assumption of responsibility for their development and the emergent Affirmative Africa Narrative. In fact at its core, these anti-investment actions are a repudiation of the long-standing aspirations of Pan-Africanism and its advocates, and the practical commitment of the continental organizations like the former Organization of African Union (OAU) and the current African Union (AU) to promote African-led development through investments, intra-African trade and exchange, as instruments for creating secure African development and domestic prosperity-generation.
This is a good example of how some African leaderships’ represent serious obstacles to African development. Quite clearly any aspiration for Africa’s take off through self-actuated development as represented by the transformational efforts of Dangote and similar committed pan-African economic revolutionaries is weakened by such leadership unfaithfulness, irresponsibility and lack of serious commitments to African investors.
Despite these set-backs, it is important for African states and the continental and regional economic groups to reaffirm their commitment to African-led transformational industrial development as the basis for Africa’s capacitation for self-actuated development. In this light, it is imperative for the AU and its various economic agencies to design Continental Investment Protection Agreements that would commit African states to respect and uphold already approved agreements and avoid arbitrary nullifications of legally binding instruments. An additional guarantor is for each African state to negotiate investment protection treaties with each other. In fact this is especially indicated for countries such as Nigeria where investors are increasingly embarking on Pan-African development investments.
Finally, pan-African transformational investors like Dangote should remain committed and not be discouraged by these clearly disruptive actions of hapless, backward and anti-African development leaders. The Dangotes’ of Africa as continental transformational vanguards should remain firmly committed to their chosen paths of legal profit making and simultaneous contribution to Africa’s transformation, economic development, prosperity-generation, psychological liberation, and the restoration of Africans dignity and equality with others in the world. These are worthwhile and enduring ideals and challenges that transformational revolutionaries and societal game-changers are bound to encounter and overcome so as to create new worlds.
*Ehiedu Iweriebor is a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA.