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Obama needs re-focus Africa strategy, says Museveni
July 24, 2012 | 0 Comments

 

The Obama Administration needs to re-focus its strategies to Africa.

Like the independence, Africa leaders, who opted for nationalizing their economies undermining the private sector, the American government is also focusing on software elements, which cannot ensure economic growth.
The President made these observations while meeting a delegation from the Obama Administration on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa recently.
The delegation included; Michael Froman, who is President Obama’s Assistant and also Deputy National Security Advisor; Mr. Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Ambassador Mike Barrow and Cicely Smith.
President Museveni told the delegation that the Administration focuses on what he termed soft-ware instead of hard-ware factors.
He explained that Africa needs to overcome hardware factors, register economic growth that can generate funds to finance the soft-ware bottlenecks.
President Yoweri Museveni said that many African leaders were impressed by the rapid growth of the former Soviet Union which had transformed from a feudal state into a super power within a very short time without considering the important economic factors.
On the other hand, Mr. Museveni pointed out that countries like South Korea accessed large markets and registered strong economic growth and is an economic power.
He explained that Africa is stagnating because of the conflicting but unproven solutions that have been applied to the continent and the fact that Africans can survive easily.
“Even a fool can survive in Africa which is not possible on other continents”, he said, adding that “Africa’s problem is not over-population because the continent can accommodate more people. What is important is the spacing of the children for the safety of the mothers. The continent can accommodate more people.”
“A lot of time has been wasted on clichés such as Africa needs good governance, foreign aid. These are important but do not lead to economic growth”, he said. The President added that because the software factors cannot be sustained by the African countries, financing them is dependent on foreign aid through NGOs.
“In order to sustain good governance, he said, there is need for heavy investments in the hardware factors, such as construction of more dams to generate reliable and cheap energy, heavy investment in the private sector, construction of modern roads in partnership with government or those that can generate funding for the private investors and modern railway lines.”
Mr. Museveni stressed that there is also need to invest in technology that can ease the transportation of goods. “Technology is needed in the screening of containers, we can also have inter-state inspection at the ports and documentation so that goods move from country to country very quickly”, he said.
The President said that funding should also be invested in health services and education to have a skilled labour group that can work in industries.
Citing Uganda as example, President Museveni said that his government would have done more but time was wasted on debating the need for power with international financiers and the World Bank.
Mr. Museveni dismissed the linkage between economic growth and good governance saying that many African countries that have not had political instability are as backward as those that have gone through instability.
This, he said, means that stability must be linked to industrialization and access to both domestic and local markets.
He defended the retention of the AGOA arrangement saying that it has helped some African countries which had the basics in place.
For example, Mr. Museveni said, South Africa is selling cars to USA and other countries like Kenya. In Uganda, he said, that the country has also benefited.

*Source East African Business Week

 

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Up and Coming in Kampala Africa’s Growing Middle Class Drives Development
July 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Horand Knaup and Jan Puhl*

Africa’s growing middle class is fueling development across the continent. Ambitious entrepreneurs are creating growth with companies focusing on everything from fashion to pharmaceuticals. But poor infrastructure, corruption and political conflict are hampering their efforts.

Sylvia Owori is examining the photos for the summer collection, but she isn’t satisfied. “Much too much oil on the skin,” she says, pointing to a young woman. “We want to show off the dress, not her legs.” A click of the mouse, and the candidate is out of the running.

Fashion Show am LaBa Streetart Festiva

Fashion Show am LaBa Streetart Festiva

A new girl appears on the screen. She is wearing a yellow miniskirt, as she poses against a pale and misty backdrop of Lake Victoria. “This one is good,” says Owori, to an audible sigh of relief in her studio in the Ugandan capital Kampala. The photographers, designers and seamstresses surrounding her are relieved.

Owori is East Africa’s most successful fashion entrepreneur, the style icon of a growing middle class. She owns boutiques in Kampala and the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and the models in her agency can be seen on runways in Rome and Paris. She also publishes African Woman, a glossy magazine that showcases local fashion trends. “We want to celebrate Africa’s beautiful people,” says the designer.

Owori, who combines modern fashions with African colors, doesn’t shy away from making bold statements. “The fashion world currently has its eye on Africa,” she says. “This is our opportunity, and we should take advantage of it.”

Growing Domestic Demand

She is the epitome of a success story. And success stories are no longer a rarity in Africa, despite its reputation as a continent of poverty and suffering.

Africa’s economy is developing at a pace similar to that of Asian countries, including Japan. Five of the 10 faster growing countries in the world this year are south of the Sahara. Commodities like oil, natural gas, lumber, ores, gold and diamonds make up a shrinking share of economic output. In many up-and-coming countries, mineral resources no longer play the decisive role, as the service sector and manufacturing expand.

This growth is producing a middle class that’s growing from year to year. According to the African Development Bank, this middle class already includes 313 million people, or 34 percent of the total population.

Africa’s middle class lives in the cities, and its members are either salaried workers or, like Sylvia Owori, have their own firms. They are young and well-educated, and they want TV sets, cars and fashionable clothing. The continent now boasts 430 million mobile phone users. The growing domestic demand coming from the middle class served as a “buffer” when the West plunged into crisis in 2008, says Mthuli Ncube, chief economist of the African Development Bank.

Recycling What the West Throws Away

Owori has come a long way. She grew up in poor circumstances in Kampala, and she never knew her father. A relative eventually brought her to London, where she took fashion courses at the city’s Newham College. When she returned to Uganda in 1998, the country had fallen behind, even by African standards, after years of dictatorship and civil war.

She earned her starting capital by importing clothes from the West, but then she began designing her own collections, and soon “Sylvia Owori” was the most popular label among women in East Africa.

Owori has her collection produced by seamstresses in villages. She has trained 200 women and sponsors the purchase of their sewing machines. “When I receive a big order, I can deliver quickly and flexibly,” she says. On the other hand, she says, the women can stand on their own feet when she doesn’t happen to have any work for them.

Her latest creation is a denim laptop bag shaped like the map of Africa. “This bag was once a pair of jeans,” she says. “You threw it into a container for old clothing and sent it to Africa. We made something new out of it and will sell it back to you.” Swedish fashion giant H&M is interested in the bag, and two other Western fashion chains have asked Owori to meet with them in London.

It’s a question of finding new ways to stimulate economic growth. The corrupt oligarchies in many African countries have made money from the export of commodities, but only a fraction of the population has benefited from the proceeds. The growth being generated by Africa’s middle class is more sustainable, say development experts. Much of it is based on the processing of African fabrics, wood and fruits, and it creates jobs.

Small and mid-sized businesses need well-trained workers and political stability. Bureaucracy and corruption are obstructive, and civil wars are bad for business. Africa’s middle class is a “guardian of democracy,” says Ncube of the African Development Bank.

‘The Age of Entrepreneurs Has Begun’

Emmanuel Katongole is a typical representative of this middle class. He drives a shiny black Mercedes SUV and wears tailored suits. The African Development Bank awarded him a business prize for opening a pharmaceutical plant in Luzira, a suburb of Kampala. His company, Quality Chemical Industries, produces 6 million pills to treat HIV and malaria a day, half of which Katongole exports to neighboring countries.

Quality Chemical Industries is a joint venture with Indian manufacturer Cipla, which holds the license for the HIV and malaria drugs, and owns more than 40 percent of Katongole’s company. The company offers its 350 employees training, meals and medical care. “People like to work for us, and we have no disciplinary problems,” says Katongole.

“The age of entrepreneurs has begun in Africa,” says Katongole. When he began importing antiretroviral drugs in the 1990s, about 15 percent of the population in Uganda was infected with HIV. Today it’s only about 7 percent, a decline for which Katongole deserves some of the credit.

He convinced the Indians to come to Africa, and he won over both South African venture capitalists and the Ugandan government, which helped him start the project. President Yoweri Museveni, a mild autocrat by African standards, takes the fight against AIDS seriously — unlike other rulers on the continent.

The government had the ground cleared and leveled for the laboratories, installed the power supply and provided the company with tax incentives. “Quality Chemical Industries is a successful example of a partnership between the private and the public sector,” says Katongole. “Africa has to produce more finished products.” If the world wants to do the continent a favor, he adds, it should help companies like his with financing. “Classic development aid makes governments lazy,” says Katongole. In fact, the reputation of development aid has suffered considerably. African economists argue that it keeps millions of Africans trapped in poverty.

Juice Dreams

Richard Kimani, who lives in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, about 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) southeast of Kampala, is also banking on entrepreneurial freedom. His company, Kevian, earns about €25 million ($31 million) in annual revenues from the sale of fruit juice concentrates. His employees bottle 75,000 liters of concentrate a day, and about 30,000 small farmers supply Kevian with mangos and pineapple.

Kimani took out a low-interest loan worth millions with the Cologne-based German Investment Corporation (DEG), a state-owned institution that finances private-sector investments in developing countries. Kimani wants to expand Kevian, and new bottling equipment made by the Bavarian bottling machine manufacturer Krones is already on a ship bound for the Kenyan city of Mombasa. It could take a while for the equipment to arrive, however, because the customs agents at the port are corrupt and the roads in Kenya are miserable. “Shipping a container from Europe to Mombasa costs only a little more than transporting it by road from Mombasa to Nairobi,” a distance of 500 kilometers, says Kimani.

He got into the beverage business 20 years as a producer of mineral water. His Kevian bottled water, which comes from a well on the outskirts of Nairobi, filled a market niche. But there was a downside to his success. Kimani is a member of the Kikuyu ethnic group, but the country’s then president only supported members of his own tribe. Banks refused to lend him money, and hired thugs destroyed his plants. But Kimani was undaunted and moved his company farther away from the city. In 2002 he entered the fruit juice business, which had previously consisted of expensive imported products from South Africa and Israel.

Once again, his product was a success. In Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia, more and more health-conscious urban workers are drinking his Kevian juices. Now Kimani even wants to expand into Europe, where he hopes to supply the Heidelberg-based company Wild, which makes the Capri Sun juice drink, with pineapple and mango concentrate.

‘Voter’s Know What’s at Stake’

But the next potential problem is already on the horizon. Kenya holds elections next spring. During the last election, five years ago, politicians incited violence between gangs of thugs, fueling ethnic hatred. As a result, 1,300 people were killed, hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes, the tourism industry was shattered and many businesses were destroyed.

“It won’t be that bad this time,” says Kimani. “Voters know what’s at stake now.” The middle class in Kenya has a lot to lose, he says. It won’t tolerate the same kind of chaos that erupted five years ago.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

*Culled from http://www.spiegel.de/international/

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East Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania Uniform Visa Fees to Boost Revenue
June 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

By David Muwanga*

Arusha, Tanzania — Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya have harmonised tourist visa fees with the aim of boosting the region’s revenue and marketing the region as a single destination, a Tanzanian official has said.

“Each of the three countries is now charging $50. However this is not the end since we are still negotiating on other measures aimed at marketing the region as a single destination,” said the deputy minister of natural resources and tourism Lazaro Nyalandu.

“It is possible that we shall have a single regional tourist visa since we have managed to develop a single customs union thus far. As we continue to implement the regional common market protocol,” he said at the opening of a three-day Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair held at the Magereza open grounds in Arusha, Tanzania.

The fair that attracted over 250 exhibitors from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, DR Congo among others was jointly organized by the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT).

The deputy minister said that Tanzania emerged as a winner at a similar event, popularly known as INDABA, held in Durban, South Africa, from May 12 to 15, 2012.

“Tanzania received an award for the best exhibition as other nations in the region recognize that Tanzania’s tourist destinations continue to dazzle and attract visitors from all continents,” he said.

Hanspaul Automechs Limited managing g director Satbir Hanspaul told East African Business Week that introduction of a single visa would make East Africa a cheaper destination compared to other regions. Originally created to promote Tanzania, it’s now a regional event that also features products and delegates from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Karibu’s major function is one of a relationship broker who targets, attracts and matches the needs of buyers and suppliers. He said that with the new charges, the Tanzania government targets to attract two million tourists in the next five year’s compared to the 950,000 who visited the country last year.

“However we should also stop taking tourism to mean only foreign visitors but we are also encouraging local people to start visiting the tourist sites,” he said.

Chairman of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators Bonafice Byamukama said although negotiations for single visa continue the common ground is that the region should be marketed as a single destination.

*Culled from East African Business Week,Kampala

 

 

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U.S. expands secret intelligence operations in Africa
June 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Craig Whitlock*

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — The U.S. military is expanding its secret intelligence operations across Africa, establishing a network of small air bases to spy on terrorist hideouts from the fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator, according to documents and people involved in the project.At the heart of the surveillance operations are small, unarmed turboprop aircraft disguised as private planes. Equipped with hidden sensors that can record full-motion video, track infrared heat patterns, and vacuum up radio and cellphone signals, the planes refuel on isolated airstrips favored by African bush pilots, extending their effective flight range by thousands of miles.

 About a dozen air bases have been established in Africa since 2007, according to a former senior U.S. commander involved in setting up the network. Most are small operations run out of secluded hangars at African military bases or civilian airports.

 The nature and extent of the missions, as well as many of the bases being used, have not been previously reported but are partially documented in public Defense Department contracts. The operations have intensified in recent months, part of a growing shadow war against al-Qaeda affiliates and other militant groups. The surveillance is overseen by U.S. Special Operations forces but relies heavily on private military contractors and support from African troops.

The surveillance underscores how Special Operations forces, which have played an outsize role in the Obama administration’s national security strategy, are working clandestinely all over the globe, not just in war zones. The lightly equipped commando units train foreign security forces and perform aid missions, but they also include teams dedicated to tracking and killing terrorism suspects.

The establishment of the Africa missions also highlights the ways in which Special Operations forces are blurring the lines that govern the secret world of intelligence, moving aggressively into spheres once reserved for the CIA. The CIA has expanded its counterterrorism and intelligence-gathering operations in Africa, but its manpower and resources pale in comparison with those of the military.

U.S. officials said the African surveillance operations are necessary to track terrorist groups that have taken root in failed states on the continent and threaten to destabilize neighboring countries.

A hub for secret network

A key hub of the U.S. spying network can be found in Ouagadougou (WAH-gah-DOO-goo), the flat, sunbaked capital of Burkina Faso, one of the most impoverished countries in Africa.

Under a classified surveillance program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors have come to Ouagadougou in recent years to establish a small air base on the military side of the international airport.

The unarmed U.S. spy planes fly hundreds of miles north to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara, where they search for fighters from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a regional network that kidnaps Westerners for ransom.

The surveillance flights have taken on added importance in the turbulent aftermath of a March coup in Mali, which has enabled al-Qaeda sympathizers to declare an independent Islamist state in the northern half of the country.

Elsewhere, commanders have said they are increasingly worried about the spread of Boko Haram, an Islamist group in Nigeria blamed for a rash of bombings there. U.S. forces are orchestrating a regional intervention in Somalia to target al-Shabab, another al-Qaeda affiliate. In Central Africa, about 100 American Special Operations troops are helping to coordinate the hunt for Joseph Kony, the Ugandan leader of a brutal guerrilla group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.

</fb:like></span><span id=check-twitter> The results of the American surveillance missions are shrouded in secrecy. Although the U.S. military has launched airstrikes and raids in Somalia, commanders said that in other places, they generally limit their involvement to sharing intelligence with allied African forces so they can attack terrorist camps on their own territory.

The creeping U.S. military involvement in long-simmering African conflicts, however, carries risks. Some State Department officials have expressed reservations about the militarization of U.S. foreign policy on the continent. They have argued that most terrorist cells in Africa are pursuing local aims, not global ones, and do not present a direct threat to the United States.

The potential for creating a popular backlash can be seen across the Red Sea, where an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen is angering tribesmen and generating sympathy for an al-Qaeda franchise there.

In a response to written questions from The Washington Post, the U.S. Africa Command said that it would not comment on “specific operational details.”

View Photo Gallery — From the archives: In another effort to combat al-Qaeda militants in Africa, specifically in Somalia, the United States has been training troops from other African nations to be peacekeepers.

View Photo Gallery — From the archives: In another effort to combat al-Qaeda militants in Africa, specifically in Somalia, the United States has been training troops from other African nations to be peacekeepers.

“We do, however, work closely with our African partners to facilitate access, when required, to conduct missions or operations that support and further our mutual security goals,” the command said.

Surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations, it added, are “simply a tool we employ to enable host nation militaries to better understand the threat picture.”

Uncovering the details

The U.S. military has largely kept details of its spy flights in Africa secret. The Post pieced together descriptions of the surveillance network by examining references to it in unclassified military reports, U.S. government contracting documents and diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group.

Further details were provided by interviews with American and African officials, as well as military contractors.

In addition to Burkina Faso, U.S. surveillance planes have operated periodically out of nearby Mauritania. In Central Africa, the main hub is in Uganda, though there are plans to open a base in South Sudan. In East Africa, U.S. aircraft fly out of bases in Ethi­o­pia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles.

Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command, which is responsible for military operations on the continent, hinted at the importance and extent of the air bases while testifying before Congress in March. Without divulging locations, he made clear that, in Africa, he wanted to expand “ISR,” the military’s acronym for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“Without operating locations on the continent, ISR capabilities would be curtailed, potentially endangering U.S. security,” Ham said in a statement submitted to the House Armed Services Committee. “Given the vast geographic space and diversity in threats, the command requires increased ISR assets to adequately address the security challenges on the continent.”

Some of the U.S. air bases, including ones in Djibouti, Ethi­o­pia and the Seychelles, fly Predator and Reaper drones, the original and upgraded models, respectively, of the remotely piloted aircraft that the Obama administration has used to kill al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and Yemen.

“We don’t have remotely piloted aircraft in many places other than East Africa, but we could,” said a senior U.S. military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. “If there was a need to do so and those assets were available, I’m certain we could get the access and the overflight [permission] that is necessary to do that.”

Common aircraft

Most of the spy flights in Africa, however, take off the old-fashioned way — with pilots in the cockpit. The conventional aircraft hold two big advantages over drones: They are cheaper to operate and far less likely to draw attention because they are so similar to the planes used throughout Africa.

The bulk of the U.S. surveillance fleet is composed of single-engine Pilatus PC-12s, small passenger and cargo utility planes manufactured in Switzerland. The aircraft are not equipped with weapons. They often do not bear military markings or government insignia.

The Pentagon began acquiring the planes in 2005 to fly commandos into territory where the military wanted to maintain a clandestine presence. The Air Force variant of the aircraft is known as the U-28A. The Air Force Special Operations Command has about 21 of the planes in its inventory.

In February, a U-28A crashed as it was returning to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa. Four airmen from the Air Force Special Operations Command were killed. It was the first reported fatal incident involving a U-28A since the military began deploying the aircraft six years ago.

Air Force officials said that the crash was an accident and that they are investigating the cause. Military officials declined to answer questions about the flight’s mission.

Because of its strategic location on the Horn of Africa, Camp Lemonnier is a hub for spy flights in the region. It is about 500 miles from southern Somalia, an area largely controlled by the al-Shabab militia. Lemonnier is even closer — less than 100 miles — to Yemen, where another al-Qaeda franchise has expanded its influence and plotted attacks against the United States.

Elsewhere in Africa, the U.S. military is relying on private contractors to provide and operate PC-12 spy planes in the search for Kony, the fugitive leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a group known for mutilating victims, committing mass rape and enslaving children as soldiers.

Ham, the Africa Command chief, said in his testimony to Congress in March that he was seeking to establish a base for surveillance flights in Nzara, South Sudan. Although that would bolster the hunt for Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, it would also enable the U.S. military to keep an eye on the worsening conflict between Sudan and South Sudan. The two countries fought a civil war for more than two decades and are on the verge of war again, in part over potentially rich oil deposits valued by foreign investors.

Other aviation projects are in the offing. An engineering battalion of Navy Seabees has been assigned to complete a $10 million runway upgrade this summer at the Manda Bay Naval Base, a Kenyan military installation on the Indian Ocean. An Africa Command spokeswoman said the runway extension is necessary so American C-130 troop transport flights can land at night and during bad weather.

About 120 U.S. military personnel and contractors are stationed at Manda Bay, which Navy SEALs and other commandos have used as a base from which to conduct raids against Somali pirates and al-Shabab fighters.

About 6,000 miles to the west, the Pentagon is spending $8.1 million to upgrade a forward operating base and airstrip in Mauritania, on the western edge of the Sahara. The base is near the border with strife-torn Mali.

The Defense Department also set aside $22.6 million in July to buy a Pilatus PC-6 aircraft and another turboprop plane so U.S.-trained Mauritanian security forces can conduct rudimentary surveillance operations, according to documents submitted to Congress.

Crowding the embassy

The U.S. military began building its presence in Burkina Faso in 2007, when it signed a deal that enabled the Pentagon to establish a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment in Ouagadougou. At the time, the U.S. military said the arrangement would support “medical evacuation and logistics requirements” but provided no other details.

By the end of 2009, about 65 U.S. military personnel and contractors were working in Burkina Faso, more than in all but three other African countries, according to a U.S. Embassy cable from Ouagadougou. In the cable, diplomats complained to the State Department that the onslaught of U.S. troops and support staff had “completely overwhelmed” the embassy.

In addition to Pilatus PC-12 flights for Creek Sand, the U.S. military personnel in Ouagadougou ran a regional intelligence “fusion cell” code-named Aztec Archer, according to the cable.

Burkina Faso, a predominantly Muslim country whose name means “the land of upright men,” does not have a history of radicalism. U.S. military officials saw it as an attractive base because of its strategic location bordering the Sahel, the arid region south of the Sahara where al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate is active.

Unlike many other governments in the region, the one in Burkina Faso was relatively stable. The U.S. military operated Creek Sand spy flights from Nouakchott, Mauritania, until 2008, when a military coup forced Washington to suspend relations and end the surveillance, according to former U.S. officials and diplomatic cables.

In Ouagadougou, both sides have worked hard to keep the partnership quiet. In a July 2009 meeting, Yero Boly, the defense minister of Burkina Faso, told a U.S. Embassy official that he was pleased with the results. But he confessed he was nervous that the unmarked American planes might draw “undue attention” at the airport in the heart of the capital and suggested that they move to a more secluded hangar.

“According to Boly, the present location of the aircraft was in retrospect not an ideal choice in that it put the U.S. aircraft in a section of the airfield that already had too much traffic,” according to a diplomatic cable summarizing the meeting. “He also commented that U.S. personnel were extremely discreet.”

U.S. officials raised the possibility of basing the planes about 220 miles to the west, in the city of Bobo Dioulasso, according to the cable. Boly said that the Americans could use that airport on a “short term or emergency basis” but that a U.S. presence there “would likely draw greater attention.”

In an interview with The Post, Djibril Bassole, the foreign minister of Burkina Faso, praised security relations between his country and the United States, saying they were crucial to containing al-Qaeda forces in the region.

“We need to fight and protect our borders,” he said. “Once they infiltrate your country, it’s very, very difficult to get them out.”

Bassole declined, however, to answer questions about the activities of U.S. Special Operations forces in his country.

“I cannot provide details, but it has been very, very helpful,” he said. “This cooperation should be very, very discreet. We should not show to al-Qaeda that we are now working with the Americans.”

Discretion is not always strictly observed. In interviews last month, residents of Ouagadougou said American service members and contractors stand out, even in plainclothes, and are appreciated for the steady business they bring to bars and a pizzeria in the city center.

In April 2010, one American, in particular, drew attention. A U.S. contractor who had been assigned to support the surveillance missions in Ouagadougou was flying home from Africa on leave when he announced that he had been “in Ouaga illegally” and was carrying dynamite in his boots and laptop.

As the contractor, Derek Stansberry, mumbled other incoherent stories about allegedly top-secret operations, he was grabbed by U.S. air marshals aboard the
Paris-to-Atlanta flight. No explosives were found, but the incident drew international attention.

Stansberry, who did not respond to a request for comment, was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity; he said he was overstressed and had overdosed on the sleep aid Ambien.

A photograph on his Facebook page around the time of the incident showed him posing in the cockpit of a Pilatus aircraft. The caption read: “Flying a PC-12 ain’t that hard.”

*Culled from http://www.washingtonpost.com/world

 

 

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Reflections from the African Land Forces Summit
June 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Senior Fellow Lawrence J. Korb Reports from Uganda

 

By Lawrence J. Korb*

Although I have traveled all around the world, including visits to all seven continents, until recently I had never been to sub-Saharan Africa, nor had I ever focused very much on it in my research and writing. The only African countries I had visited were in the northern part of the continent—Egypt, for example, which many Africanists claim is not really part of Africa but rather part of the greater Middle East.

Consequently, I was surprised and honored when the Army component of the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, asked me to speak at this year’s African Land Forces

Ugandan People’s Defense Force troops return to their training camp in Kakola, 75 miles north of Kampala, from training exercises meant to prepare them for the peacekeeping mission in Somalia. SOURCE: Center for American Progress

Ugandan People’s Defense Force troops return to their training camp in Kakola, 75 miles north of Kampala, from training exercises meant to prepare them for the peacekeeping mission in Somalia. SOURCE: Center for American Progress

Summit in Uganda this past month, a meeting focused on strengthening the armies of Africa to meet common security challenges. I came away from the conference with some key insights about our efforts to defeat extremists groups in Africa such as the Lord’s Resistance Army and Al Shabaab, as well as how these countries are conducting their military affairs. These are important issues because the security climate in sub-Saharan Africa affects the United States.

Summit summary

The week-long summit, which was the second biennial summit and the first to be held in Africa, was co-hosted by U.S. Army Africa—the headquarters component of the U.S. military’s AFRICOM combatant command—and Uganda’s army—the Ugandan People’s Defense Force—in the Ugandan capital of Kampala starting May 14. The event brought together the land forces’ chiefs of staff from 36 African nations with military leaders from the U.S. Army. Only Morocco and Sudan refused invitations to attend.

The summit’s opening ceremony reminded me of the Olympics. A soldier draped with each country’s flag marched into a large hall to the strains of martial music. The procession finished with the playing of the U.S. and Ugandan national anthems, followed by that of the African Union. The ceremony was to conclude with opening remarks by the senior U.S. and Ugandan officers and a speech by Yoweri Museveni, president of the Republic of Uganda.

Since President Museveni was late to arrive, the Ugandans screened a movie called “Heroes of the Horn,” detailing their exploits in Somalia. Uganda serves as the lead country in the African Union peacekeeping operation taking place in Somalia. While the movie was, not unexpectedly, very positive, it was an early indicator of the Ugandan military’s media savvy—in fact, that same day there was a front-page story by journalist Craig Whitlock in The Washington Post about their operations in Somalia. When the president finally showed up, he was trailed by a large media contingent that rivaled that of any Western leader.

In his opening remarks, President Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986 and has been accused of attacking opposition members of Parliament and violating refugee rights, made several colorful comments. He described extremist groups fighting religious wars—such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabaab in Somalia—as “idiots with ideological bankruptcy.” The president then blamed the two decades of continued fighting by the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency on his own Ugandan forces being too small and ill-trained, which he said was compounded by the historic support provided to the rebels by the Sudanese government in Khartoum. It is worth noting, however, that some Lord’s Resistance Army experts do not agree with President Museveni’s analysis, pointing instead to a lack of political will on President Museveni’s part and the fact that only one Lord’s Resistance Army commander has been brought to trial by the International Crimes Division that tries war crimes.

President Museveni also cautioned the assembled military leaders of the 36 African countries at the summit against dabbling in sectarianism and stated that African armies must be independent of foreign exploitation. Therefore, the president argued they should not listen to those (unnamed) external forces that told them not to spend 1.9 percent of their budget—I think he meant GDP—and to reduce the size of their armies.

Three of the last four days of the conference consisted of lectures followed by discussion groups. The lectures were given by generals, diplomats, and analysts from the United States, Uganda, the World Bank, the United Nations, the African Union, Angola, and Malawi. The lectures and discussion groups dealt with such topics as institutional values, social media, regional security challenges, post-war transitions, peace-support operations, and military professionalism.

One day we visited the Ugandan army’s Peace Support Operations Training Center in Kakola, about 75 miles north of Kampala. During this visit we observed Ugandan soldiers undergoing training for the mission to war-torn Somalia, where the African Union is expanding the size of the mission to some 18,000 troops. We watched simulations of how approximately 3,500 Ugandan soldiers would respond to enemy attacks on their convoys and foot patrols while on missions similar to the one in Somalia. Those soldiers about to be deployed held combat drills supervised by U.S. (private contractors from Military Professional Resources Inc.), French, and Belgian military instructors. We learned that the training center has so far trained 10 Ugandan battle groups, seven of which have already been deployed to Somalia.

The Ugandan intelligence chief also briefed us on progress in the operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels—which he called Satan’s Resistance Army—and Al-Shabaab in Somalia. He argued that the rebels had been weakened. In fact, while we were in Uganda the Ugandan army captured one of the Lord’s Resistance Army’s top commanders, Maj. Gen. Caesar Acellam Otto—a member of the rebels’ high command and head of the group’s military intelligence—in the Central African Republic.

But the Ugandan intelligence chief cautioned that the rebel group’s ability to wreak havoc on local populations remains high, though he said that a planned force of 5,000 soldiers under an African Union mandate drawn from the countries where the group operates would enhance the efforts to neutralize the rebels.

Key takeaways

In preparing for my remarks to the summit, in the sessions I attended, and from my observations on the trip to the training center, I came to the following conclusions.

Security and stability in sub-Saharan Africa impacts U.S. security

Weak and failing states such as Somalia can become havens for violent extremist groups such as Al-Shabaab (which is affiliated with Al Qaeda), drug smugglers, and bands of pirates, and can also lead to humanitarian disasters.

And as President Barack Obama noted in a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum this year, he is the first president to have declared that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.” That is why U.S. Army Special Forces are in Uganda to help hunt down Lord’s Resistance Army leader and child-abducting warlord Joseph Kony.

The United States is dealing with this part of the world in a very smart and forward-looking way

It has established a unified command to give attention to the area and to establish relations with African militaries, but the United States has not placed the command headquarters on the continent, nor has it deployed any large numbers of combat troops on the ground. This is a good strategy because it undermines the narrative of terrorist groups that the United States is simply another colonial power intent on exploiting the region for its own benefit.

Moreover, in dealing with the problems of the area, the United States acts more like a superpartner than a superpower. We help train and pay for the 17,000 troops from African nations, particularly Uganda, Kenya, and Burundi, deployed in Somalia—about $500 million so far—but are not on the ground. (Remember how well that worked when we did send 30,000 troops there in 1993 as part of the U.N. Operation in Somalia II peacekeeping force?) The 100 Special Operations troops sent to Africa in October 2011 are helping Ugandan forces remove Kony and other rebel leaders from the battlefield but are not engaging in direct combat. The Ugandan forces that captured Acellam Otto on May 12, 2012, had U.S. backing, but unlike the coverage in the United States the Ugandan press did not mention the American role.

The African military leaders I encountered are more competent and professional than I initially realized

While observing the Ugandan troops prepare for Somalia, one American military officer remarked to me that he thought they were more competent than most of the Afghan Security Forces he dealt with.

Certainly, there remains a challenge in establishing effective command and control throughout the ranks so that the professionalism at the top becomes part of the institutional frameworks of these militaries. But the signs are promising.

Moreover, in the questions I received after my talk, as well as in the discussions with the military leaders, it was clear that many of the militaries were opening up opportunities for women.

By the time the third biennial African Land Forces Summit occurs in 2014, I believe the U.S. Army, in collaboration with the African militaries, will be well on its way to bringing the Lord’s Resistance Army and Al Shabaab to heel. Such developments will benefit Africa, the United States, and the world.

*Lawrence J. Korb is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

 

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With Kenya election, East Africa enters make or break season
June 11, 2012 | 0 Comments

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO *

As Kenya heads into the first election under its new Constitution, the East African Community too will begin its most dramatic transition.

The transition season will end in 2017 in Rwanda, when President Paul Kagame is scheduled to step down. How the leaders and East African citizens play their hands over this period, could make or break the East African project.

President Museveni with Makerere University students in 2010. Picture

President Museveni with Makerere University students in 2010. Picture

For starters, more East African leaders will be leaving office and handing over to new leaders in this period, than at any other in the region’s history. Kenya’s president steps down next year in March when the country votes, after serving his constitutionally provided two terms in office.

Burundi and Tanzania, both countries with term limits, will go to the polls in 2015 and Presidents Pierre Nkurunzinza and Jakaya Kikwete will leave office.

Only Uganda, where term limits were scrapped, goes to elections in 2016 with uncertainties about whether President Yoweri Museveni — who has been in power since 1986 and is already the longest-serving East African president ever — will bow out or soldier on.

Over the past year, Museveni has had to continually quell his riotous ruling National Resistance Movement, where youthful MPs, sensing that the elder leader’s prestige has been tarnished by years of corrupt government and alleged nepotism, figure that he is no longer the Colossus he was some years back.

At the official age of 68, Museveni is looking wan and is frequently off colour, which has prompted what promises to be a messy internal succession scramble. So far, it is presumed that the abstemious and wily NRM secretary-general, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, is the man at the front of the succession queue.

Other claimants to Museveni’s throne have ganged up on him, and have thrown everything that is not nailed down at his head and character.
More than any other in the region, the succession in Uganda is set to be the most unpredictable.

In Rwanda, Kagame has given all indications that he is packing his bags and clearing out of State House. But Rwanda-watching and Kagame-bashing and Kagame-boosting are among the biggest industries in the world as far as Africa goes, so there are many voices who don’t think the former guerrilla leader will leave office.

In any event, there is one thing about Rwanda that is not doubt. The Rwanda Patriotic Front, easily Africa’s most disciplined ruling party and one of its richest, will continue to run the show for a long while. And Kagame, who will still be a relatively youthful 60-year-old in 2017, will continue to exert influence over how business is conducted in Rwanda.

The comings and goings in East African State Houses over the next five years are important, because over this same period, the EAC will be undergoing a radical remake. Last week, EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera said fragile South Sudan’s application to join the EAC is being studied.

South Sudan’s admission is likely to be quick. Uganda’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs Eriya Kategaya said earlier this year at the launch of the Society for International Development’s State of East Africa Report 2012 in Nairobi, that there was a strategic need to admit South Sudan into the EAC fold in order to “protect the new nation against aggression by [north] Sudan.”
War-scarred but slowly stabilising Somalia has also applied to join.

Somalia will take critical steps towards restoring functioning government for the first time in over 20 years between now and August, when it will have passed a new constitution, elected a new parliament, and its first democratically appointed president in generations.

The Amisom wand

The modest progress made in stabilising Somalia is thanks to the African Union’s peacekeeping force in Somalia, Amisom. Until this year, two EAC countries — Uganda and Burundi — were the only two countries providing troops for Amisom and it is they who broke the militant Al Shabaab’s back in Mogadishu, and lately took the key city of Afgoye, Somalia’s breadbasket, considerably improving food security, an important factor if the country is to return to normalcy.

Kenya entered the Somalia fray in October 2011, and after a cautious first few months, has been aggressive in recent weeks, taking the town of Afmadow, and setting its sights on the strategic Kismayu port town.

The Kenya Defence Forces, which were “re-hatted” as Amisom troops in February, said last week that they would have Kismayu in the bag by the key date of August.

With Kismayu, Mogadishu, and other important regions of Somalia controlled by Amisom and the Somalia government, the new government elected in August will have a reasonable degree of credibility. In all probability, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti Amisom forces — which will shortly be joined by Sierra Leone — will remain in Somalia for a few more years.

They are unlikely to leave their shining foreign policy prize out of the EAC, when they withdraw. Indeed, because of the mutual EAC defence pact, the regional armies will have a legal basis to remain in Somalia were the Amisom mandate to expire soon, if it were a member of the Community.

How the EAC will cope with, possibly, five new presidents having to deal with new members — South Sudan and Somalia — who are politically unstable and whose government structures will still be primitive, is anyone’s guess.

History is the best guide here. The EAC has survived transitions before — none of the EAC presidents in power today, with the exception of Museveni in Uganda, was in office when the EAC charter was first signed in 1999.

But some of East Africa’s coming challenges are unprecedented.

According to the State of East Africa Report 2012 (SoEAR2012), the region’s population has grown by 24 million since 2005 and was estimated to be 139 million in 2010.

“The most important population characteristic of East Africa are its children and youth”, said SoEAR2012, “who account for an overwhelming majority, 80 per cent, of the region’s population in 2010.”

Most of these are unemployed, with youth joblessness rates in countries like Uganda estimated to be over 80 per cent. Youth discontent and unrest is rising, and over the next five years, new — and possibly inexperienced — EAC leaders will be the ones to deal with the problem before it explodes into revolt.

Kenya’s Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is aiming to register 18 million voters in total — about four million more than the number in 2007. Not all these voters will be youths, but if we consider that Kenya’s population is currently increasing by one million every year, and that between 1999 and 2006 the working-age population increased from 9.7 million to 13.1 million (approximately 500,000 young people joining the work force every year) then it is likely that most of Kenya’s new voters will be between 18 and 24 years old.

With their vote in 2013, will come expectations of a good deal from the new leaders. This same pattern will be replicated in most of East Africa.

With the recent discoveries of oil and gas in the region, governments will have the money to pay for new job and social programmes and buy off restless voters.

Uganda’s oil is expected to start flowing in 2017, Kenya’s at perhaps around the same time. Tanzania is also likely to find a lot more deposits of gas, as is Rwanda, which is also exploring for oil.

However, most of the secessionist demons in Africa also live in East Africa. The region has seen the most number of successful secessions in Africa —Ethiopia/Eritrea, the Sudans; and there is a high possibility Somaliland will break away — evidence that perhaps East Africans are quite a schizophrenic people, integrationist and parochial at the same time. The Tanzanian Union is also coming under pressure. A fortnight ago in Zanzibar, Uamsho, a group that is demanding a referendum on Zanzibar’s secession from Tanzania, was behind three days of disturbances in which churches were burnt.

In the 2010 election, Zanzibar took some steps to put an end to perennial election violence by instituting a new power-sharing deal so that it’s no longer “winner takes all”: Ali Mohamed Shein from the governing CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) party was voted in as president in elections in November 2010.

Zanzibar ‘wrinkle’

He narrowly beat Seif Sharif Hamad of the opposition Civic United Front. Under a power-sharing deal, Mr Sharif serves as one of Shein’s vice-presidents. The power-sharing deal was enshrined in a constitutional amendment adopted in 2010 to end perennial election violence.

While Uamsho’s secessionist demands are a new wrinkle Tanzania doesn’t need, the fact that the country’s new constitution is expected to be inaugurated in April 2014, means it has a chance to offer Zanzibar an additional calming sweetener.

The worry in Tanzania will probably be that Kikwete’s successor will have a bigger political fight on his hand than his predecessor.

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s fortunes have been dwindling in recent years, as the party is bogged down by corruption scandals and rising internal struggles. In the 2005 election, for example, CCM won 206 out of 232 seats, and Kikwete was elected with 80 per cent of the vote.

It bled in the 2010 election. CCM won 186 out of 239 seats, and this time Kikwete had to make do with 62 per cent of the vote — even then, there were allegations that the vote was stolen.

CCM should still scrape by, but the fact that it has become comfortable with running the show largely unchallenged since just after Independence, means it could become nasty if faced with the real possibility of losing power. That point, though, is not about to come tomorrow.

In November last year, a rights group reported that more than 300 people had been killed in the preceding five months, including opposition and former rebel FNL members.

The dangerous slide continued in Burundi, with Human Rights Watch reporting last month that there had been a significant increase in political violence: “Reciprocal killings by members of the ruling National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and the former rebel group the National Liberation Forces (FNL) increased, particularly in Bujumbura and in Bujumbura Rural Province. Impunity for these crimes remains one of the most serious obstacles to peace. The single largest incident of killings took place in September in Gatumba, near the Congolese border.”

Of the five members of the EAC, Burundi is probably the one over which most sleep should be lost. But if Nkurunziza’s successor is a gentler ruler, it too might still have a prayer.

Long-term, East Africa must worry about a common problem of institutional credibility. It seems that the majority of East African president are able to capture their countries’ imaginations, but the institutions th e state and other leaders don’t.

A Gallup poll published on April 25, for example, showed that in Kenya 62 per cent of respondents approved of President Kibaki, but only 38 per cent approved of the country’s wider leadership.

In Tanzania, 66 per cent approved of President Kikwete, but only 59 per cent approved of the country’s wider leadership. In Uganda, 60 per cent of respondents approved of President Museveni, but only 49 per cent of the country’s wider leadership.
There were no polling numbers for Rwanda, but President Kagame typically turns in high ratings in most opinion polling. Little polling is done in Burundi, but the same pattern might well be repeated there.

These numbers might flatter the leaders, but for as long East Africa is a region ruled by men, not institutions, it is will also more likely continue to report a democratic deficit.

*Courtesy of The East African

 

 

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